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Helen Hunt Jackson 5-1-2 transcription

Helen Hunt Jackson Papers, Part 5, Ms 0351, Box 1, folder 2, letters from HHJ to her sister Ann (Mrs. E.C. Banfield), 1881.
Transcribed by Nancy Knipe, December 2002.

[1.] Letter from HHJ to AFB. March 16, 1881.

The Berkeley -
Wed Morning -
March 16 1881

Dear Annie -

Excuse lead pencil & the leaf out of blank book - I am writing in bed - at 7 Am. - I am following my own prescription now -- & taking my breakfast in bed every morning - I am still very miserable -- & quite out of patience - my cough is nearly gone & the general catarrhal conditions of head nose - throat etc. etc. etc. - all the way down I shall say to the pit of the stomach, much improved - but I do not gain any strength as I hoped to - It is just four weeks last Sat. since I came down with this bronchitis - much the worst attack I ever had - I'd give a good deal to have my own old Boston doctors here. - However every body I've heard of who has been down with bronchitis has been ill from four to six weeks. Poor old Oliver Johnson is in bed with it-my fault I fear.-

What I write specially for is to ask if it is now expected & understood that Annie will be married next fall as originally proposed. - I would like to know about this - if there is any knowing; -- She is certainly well enough -- & will not be fully well till she is married & at rest & at ease - but of course Mr. D. is the one to take the initiative about it -

--If all is right about this I want to put $300, or $400 if I can manage it - away in the bank, -- for her before I start for California - so that whatever happens to me, that will be ready for her in the autumn -- & I will send up to Wolfboro - three or four dresses, which she can in the course of the summer be making over for herself - I have a heavy camelhair suit & a black silk suit -- & a blue poplin - all of which are unfit to wear as they are - at least the two suits are - but by being all taken apart & turned, will be almost as good as new. -- & will keep her busy all summer in work she will be interested in doing.-

--In the fall I shall have some more money & will see to getting her underclothes here - a pretty wrapper, a plain pink silk to make up with that brocade.-- & the wedding dress.-white if she prefers - but a handsome walking suit if she will be contented with it - will I think she will be all she needs: -- Do not you? - Will is still here - hopes to get off by Friday - If so I shall start next Friday -- & he will join me on the way.-Yrs ever lovingly Helen
Love to Annie --

[2.] Letter from HHJ to Annie. March 23 - [1881 penciled in]

The Berkeley -
March 23 -
[1881 in pencil.]

Dear Annie -

Your letter is as great a relief to my mind as mine could possibly have been to you. -

--I am in great haste this Am. -- & can write out few words.-

1st - & foremost- you show how little you know about the illness & especially convalescence. When you say you tell Annie not to get up to breakfast "unless she feels rested" ! - You never know whether you really feel right or not - till you get up & see - & then the mischief is done: -- the proper thing is, not to pretend or try to get up! -- Have no question on the subject; -- I myself am now in exactly the same condition I was after my diptheritic attacks -- & I did not begin to really gain any strength, till I began ten days ago, to take my breakfast in bed. -- & not stir for an hour or so, after it. - While I lie in bed in the morning, I feel about as well as ever - it is hard to realize I am so weak: -- but before I am half dressed I am tired. -- & until the last two days - I have been so weak that the perspiration would start out all over me, before I got my hair done up! - Convalescence is a much harder thing to manage judiciously, than out & out Sickness -- & nobody, who hasn't been an invalid, & come up by degrees through long periods of slow recovery from simple weakness, can tell anything about it. - If I had Annie under my care, the one fixed rule would be that she was not to get up to breakfast. - No question whether she "feels rested" or not! - of course you feel rested, a good deal, by a night's sleep - so long as you lie still & don't make any effort to do anything but open your eyes! - I don'tsuppose you can understand this - but you may take it on my
word - for I've suffered enough from simple prostration after diptheria [sic] & after three bronchitis attacks, to know all about it.-

--Is there a seamstress in Wolfboro who can make Annie's sheets - pillow cases - table cloths &c. ?-- If so, it will be cheaper for me to buy the cloth & send it up there - but you must not have them made in the house. Remember I have a right to say that; if there is no good seamstress there, I will buy them all ready made - 2 doz. sheets will be enough -- & 4 doz. pillow cases, eight table cloths - (I have only a doz - and I entertain so much I often have eight in the wash in a washpan. I think eight will do for Annie - I'd like to make it a round dozen -- but we may want the money now for other things.) ---- 4 dozen napkins: --

Write me at once if you can have them made[?] in Wolfboro -- : -- also send me Annie's measure for skirt bands -- & for necks of collars. - Send them by return mail.-

I will send Annie $300 before I start for Cal. -- & the three dresses I spoke of - each of which will make her a good dress -

--the camels hair suit -
--blk silk -
blue poplin -

Then that handsome blue silk will be as good as new next fall. -

If she wants a white dress to be married in, she ought to have it -- but I think considering all the circumstances, a walking suit could be much wiser & more in keeping. -- Molly had a niece married last week - She married a rich [?] man too - but she had only $200 to spend - they were even married in church -- & she wore a handsome claret silk suit, turned with velvet -- & a silk & velvet hat same shade. - dress made demi train -- . -

--I shall leave a note for Mr. Fiske telling him in case anything happens to me, to pay all my April money to Annie. - but I don't suppose anything will happen to me! -- & I expect to be back here in the fall - and Annie may count on another hundred, in the course of the summer: -- and two hundred - if my Indian book brings in any thing at July.-

I hoped to have got $600 for a little book I have just sent to Roberts Bros - but they did not want to buy it -- & only gave me $400 down for the MSS. - so I can't send Annie the whole $500 now as I would have liked.-but I'll send her $300 & the sheets table cloths etc. -- [two lines crossed out]

What a mercy that Mr. D. has all that is needed to keep home with ! -
--It would not have done for Annie to have married a man without anything!
--Goodby - Love to Annie -

in great haste


[3.] Letter from HHJ to AFB. May 12, 1881.

The Berkeley
May 12, 1881

Dear Annie -

Your letter with two of the Encycs [?] has come.-Have you not had a third? The one about the Copenhagen museums? - I do hope that is not lost. Miss Woolsey had had it - so it is in somebody's hands - The fourth is out in Colorado - came after Will left last fall -- & he forgot to bring it on last winter.

I thought I had written to you that the California trip was given up - owing to Cornelia Horsfords having come home ill with scarlet fever - There is certainly a fate about it - Will had got a cook -- & Kate & I were to have set out Sat eve of this week. She was to come tomorrow. - I went out the Am. to engage the Drawing Room in the Chicago car. (for the 5th time!) -- I hesitated some time, as to doing it today - so my [accounts?] have happened.; -- but I was afraid if I waited till to morrow I might not get it; -- so I took it - at ten o'clk - came home - at eleven -- & found a line from Kate to say she had been thrown out of their carriage in Boston yesterday morning & -- sprained her left arm terribly - otherwise not injured. - but would not be able to use her arm for some time the Dr. said! - She & Lilian & the coachman were all thrown out -- & no bones broken - no serious injury - a wonderful escape. - I have telegraphed her that I will still wait! -- The more these things happen, the more determined I feel to carry her out with me - but I really can't wait a great while longer; -- & the heat here is something beyond words. I can hardly hold my head up. -

--Is any date fixed for Annie's marriage? I don't suppose this is the least chance of my being back here, so early as she is likely to be married unless the heat in Col. in July should affect me as it did two years ago-- & in that case, I should come East at once. But I hope very much to be able to stay straight on.-
--Molly says that if Annie wants to come on here, in July or August to do her shopping & dressmaking - that she is welcome to occupy her rooms in this house; -- of course either you or Helen will come with her. - The board here is only $15 a week. - the care of the room furnishing bed linen &c.-would be $4.00. - So it would not be so very dear - Two could stay here one week for $34 . but I suppose the fare here is $5. at least. Perhaps more -
-- If Annie only has the money I give her, I'm afraid she cannot afford that. - Things will be very cheap here in August, no doubt.-- & then so hot! -- having the rooms free of rent makes it very cheap for this house. But you can't go out for meals & same that way - which I am sure would instantly occur to your mind; -- no deduction is made here, for any less time than a whole week. -
--You may be away five days out of the seven but you'll pay your $15 all the same; -- & it would not do for you to stay in this house & take your meals out. -

Let me know at once if you have - or if you ever had the 3rd Encyclical - about the Copenhagen museums. -

Goodness! It seems to me I shall go mad with this heat - but the thermometer in this room is only 79.-I shut the windows & blinds at 6 Am. - out in the halls it is now 83 -- & when I first step into this room, it seem delightfully cool; -- but the seeming does not last. It is so long since I have felt such heat. I suffer from it more. -

I wish if you are to stay in Wolfboro you could move up on the hill. I know it would be healthier for you all.

Goodby in heat & haste

Affly - Helen.

[4.] Letter from HHJ to AFB. May 23, 1881.

[At end of letter: The Berkeley - May 23rd - 1881]

Dear Annie-

The Copenhagen letter turned up all right at the Horsfords - am sorry you had such a search for nothing.-

I got Annie a little box of odds & ends this morning - a belt I bought for salving the buckle on it -- -- & threw the belt away - (like the man that "wanted a tail & threw the dog away"!) ---------- & some soiled ruffles I tucked in thinking the lace might be worth taking off & washing.- -- I believe we are really off tomorrow eve. If no disaster happens to Kate, on her way from Boston here today!

If you don't hear to the contrary in a day or two, you may know we have gone -- & write to Col. Springs.-- We shall arrive there on Sunday the 29th ----

Love to all - Goodby -

Ever affly -

The Berkeley -
May 23rd - 1881.

[5.] Letter from HHJ to AFB. June 10, 1881.

Col. Springs
June 10th

Dear Annie -

We arrived safely a week ago last Monday - at 3.30 Am.! --

--Miss Horsford is enjoying the country very much & the air does not give her thus far any trouble about breathing. - I on the contrary am suffering a good deal in getting acclimated again - have terrible thirst all the time - parched lips & throat fever -- & cannot walk except at a snails pace -

--Today we set off for a trip to Georgetown & Gray's Peak. - Shall be gone a week. -

--I found this house in perfect order -- & we have my old Cook Jane - the one I discharged for drunkenness. - She has never been drunk since -- & begged Mr. Jackson to take her back.-so we are very comfortable & Betty, the servant who has taken all the care of everything since I went away still keeps the main charge of the housekeeping - I find it a very agreeable way to keep house - not to know what I am going to have for breakfast!-

I am sorry to hear Annie is so weak still -- & I wish she were to be married earlier - I believe she will not be well till she is married. - I wonder if sea air would do her good. Does she like it?-

--Write soon again - Love to all - In great haste -

Goodbye -

Yrs lovingly -


[6.] Letter from HHJ to AFB. July 25, 1881.

Monday. July 25
Col. Springs

Dear Annie-

I am very sorry indeed that I have not written to you since June 16th. - I did not know it! I thought you were owing me a letter. The truth is that I have been so continually on the go the last two months that I have not kept the [run?] of my letters at all. Kate & I have been off on four little journeys ranging from five days to a week each -
--We have only been at home long enough between them, to rest - get our clothes washed out. -- & it has made the summer fly like the wind - until last Friday, the weather has been frightfully hot -mercury 91 in my bedroom. 4 degrees hotter than I ever knew it here. - for days & days it has stood from 80° to 85! - Still I have endured it better than I did that last summer I spent here - because it has not been so dry. -- There has not been at any time a whole week without rain -- & then, we had a drought forty two days! -Last Friday, it turned all of a sudden cold really very cold - so that we had a big blazing fire all day long in the sitting room - two days cold rain -- & one day cloudy: -- such a thing I hardly ever saw here before, as three days without sun. - Yesterday it was cool & bright like an October day in New England -- & today it is a little warmer; what it will do next no human being can predict. - I think the weather all over the world is knocked into "pi"! - Next winter I intend to go to Southern California & see if I can escape snow & bronchitis - but where in all this world there is a really good & enjoyable summer climate is more than I know.-

I had not heard of Mr. Fiske's going to Europe - but have been wondering why I did not get my July payment. He is to give Annie $120 of it, you know. - I presume he will be back very soon - or will arrange to have the money paid. If I were you I would write to his office, & find out. -

Do you think Annie can get all she needs, with that $300? -- Of course, not all we would like to have her have - but I mean, do you think she can be comfortably fitted out with that ? - Perhaps I can give her another $100 in October - if she needs it. - I am hoping to get a little money then by a speculation in stock, but it may go against me - the only other one I have ever made did : but this one Mr. Jackson's brother made for me and I have great hopes it will succeed. -- I wish Annie would not ever get up to breakfast, I am sure it is a mistake. - She ought to do it for a year to come - not till she feels strong. -

These long sleeps I should regard as good for her. She has nine years fatigue to rest up from! -

I have just heard of a [another is crossed out] Vassar graduate -- who died last winter after the birth of her second baby - died very mysteriously of the bursting of a blood vessel in the brain! - a clear case of over taxed brain; -- Don't tell this to Annie on any account. -

I am sorry to hear that Helen is thin & seems tired. I hoped that in the quiet home atmosphere of Mrs. Barkers ( is that the name?) - she might be able to teach year after year without any over strain : -- if I [text crossed out] were going to be in Col. [text crossed out] I would ask Helen to come & stay with us for the next year - but I [do not-crossed out] intend to spend next winter in So. California & see if I can't get through without having bronchitis ; -- neither do I feel in the least sure of Mr. Jackson's staying here - and in such uncertainty I could not promise any body anything ; -- do you suppose Helen could have her place back again at end of a year's rest? - Oh dear me, if only I had a few thousand dollars I could use as I pleased. I would send Helen & Mamie abroad for a year - Would you think it advisable for her to stay quietly at home with you for a year? Would she be contented? - I could easily give her all she needed in way of clothes - if you [text crossed out] could manage the increased expense in the family - Or would Mr. Davenport like to have her with them for a year? - I'll tell you what I can do ; -- if Annie & Mr. Davenport would like to have her with them I can pay on the say $4. a week which is all it would cost so that it wouldn't be any expense to Mr. D. - If there is the least shadow of danger of Helen's breaking down, she ought to have a rest at once! --

I hope to come East in September - but it is not sure - Mr. Jackson now expects to have to come on -- & if he does I shall come too -- & shall not come back here at all, before going to California in December. - Then I shall be able to come to Annie's wedding, of which I shall be very glad. - I am rather glad she has decided to have her dress made in Boston -- . instead [?] of going to N. York - as it will be less tiring for her. - I had thought [text crossed out] she would go on with Helen in Sept-- & stay at the Berkeley - & get her things then; -- but I incline to think this is better. - Goodbye - much love to the girls -

Yrs ever lovingly - Helen

[7.] Letter from HHJ to AFB. Sept 23, 1881.

Col. Springs
Sept. 23rd (26 written over)

Dearest Annie -

Will & I expect to start for N.Y. by the 27th or 28th of this month.-

We hope to find rooms at the Berkeley - at any rate you can write there - care of Mrs. Washington Hunt.-

--I want to know when Annie is to be married. I am so glad I can come to the wedding -- & hope very much that Will can come too - but he may not be able to leave N. York.-

In great haste



P.S. My letter from Mr. Fiske has just come -- $422.-for which I am very glad - but still gladder to hear that he had $800 to send you. I'm sure you will feel quite cheered up by it.-I am sorry he forgot that! I had told him to send a check for $120 to Annie - but I will send her one tomorrow - It is too late now.-

[8.] Letter from HHJ to AFB. Oct. 2, 1881.

New York
Brevoort House
Oct. 2, 1881

Dearest Annie -

I am disappointed in not finding a letter here from you - perhaps it will come tomorrow. - If Annie's wedding is to be in the course of the next week you must telegraph me here tomorrow eve - (I take it for granted that you will get this note tomorrow eve.) -
--Will's plan is to go to Kennett [?] on Tuesday Eve - to stay three or four days - but of course Annie's wedding is the first consideration with me. -- I hope it is not to be till the last of the month - as that will suit our plans much better.-

We left Col. Springs Wed. noon & arrived here this morning - the shortest trip I ever made between the two points - also the most disagreeable. - The road was so rough the first day & night that it made me actually a little seasick! The first experience of the kind I have ever had.-

--If I hear nothing from you, we shall go to Kennett Tues. Eve. or Wed. morning -- & stay there till Sunday - address there

Kennett Square
Chester Co. Pa.

Love to all - Goodbye - H.-

[9.] Letter from HHJ to AFB. Oct 13, 1881.

The Berkeley
Oct. 13

Dear Annie -

Molly has just written to me to buy something for her, for a present for Annie - something for about $10. or $12. she says -- & I thought I'd better write & ask you if there were any special thing Annie would like - that you know of ; -- I had at first thought I would buy her a Duchess lace scarf, for the neck.,& some lace to match it for the sleeves; I can get a pretty scarf for $6. & handsome wide lace to match it nearly enough, for sleeves - or-a very handsome handkerchief I can get for $10. - or $12. -

Write back by return of mail.-

I am very glad the wedding is put off, except that I am almost sure Will can't come so late - because he absolutely must be in Col. Nov. 1st.-- Still he may come the 24th & start for Col. the eve of the 25th for Boston - We have had the luck to get an apartment here till the 22nd & I am luxuriating in plenty of room & a big writing table - New York is very smell-y however -- & I wish I were in the country.-

Ever lovingly


[10.]Letter from HHJ to AFB. Oct. 19, 1881.

New York
Wed. Noon
Oct. 19. -

Dear Annie -

I do not know about the glove question. I haven't seen a wedding since I can remember. - Molly says she thinks they have the right hand glove on -- & the left hand one just half on - so that it can be pulled off without delay. - Sometimes the finger of the left hand glove is cut around the base, so that it will pull right off - but I think this is horrid; -- Jenny Abbott says she thinks they some times carry the left hand glove or do not put it on at all-

If Annie carries a big bouquet, as brides generally do now I believe - her left hand will show very little.-
--I shall breathe easier after I hear that the [trunk?] is found. I can't conceive how you lost it.-

I shall go to Boston Mon. Eve. by boat - hope very much Will will come with me - but it is not sure -

Please have a note at Parkers for me, saying when the wedding is to be, I have forgotten - also the hour.-

In great haste

lovingly H.

Molly & I are going out tomorrow to buy something for Annie - Will has given me $10 also to buy some little gift from him.-I am glad I did not get the lace -since she wants things for the house, more.-

[11.] Letter from HHJ to AFB. Oct. 31st, 1881.

Parker House
Oct 31st

Dear Annie -

I arrived last night - have a slight sore throat I am sorry to say - which will shut me up while this bad weather lasts -
--I shall be here till next Tues. or Wed. - now - can't you come down for a couple of days & stay here with me? -- & we will go out to see about M. & down to Tauton to see Annie -

If you can sleep in the bed with me, it won't cost you a cent to stay here -- & I'd be very glad to have you indeed. - You know a meal for one is enough for two always - so you need not scruple about being my guest for a little while even if it is at a Hotel.-
-- I told Annie I should ask you - (when I saw her in N.Y. - she looked very well - & they both seemed very bright & happy.
--Mr. Jackson took that notice to the Tribune Friday pm. & paid for its mention - but it did not come out the next day - nor Sunday - If it is not in today, I shall write to ask about it.-
I think it could rest you to come down & stay two or three days here - I shall be busy writing every morning till one o'clock - (if I am not well enough to go to Tauton &c - or if it is bad weather - but you can visit other people in the forenoons! -- & me in the afternoons - love to all -

Affly ever

Mr. J. started for Col. last night.

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