Colorado College Tutt Library

Helen Hunt Jackson 1-1-1 transcription

Letters from Deborah Waterman Vinal Fiske (HHJ's mother) to her father David Vinal, 1828-1833.
Transcribed by Gloria Helmuth, October 1995

Addressed: Mr. David Vinal, Boston, Mass, - To the care of Mr. Otis Vinal
Return address: Amherst, Dec 15 [Monday]

[Thursday] Amherst, Dec. 11, 1828.

My dear Father,

Do you wish another letter from me so soon? I hope you do, for here one comes, and it would prick my pride most grievously to know that you did not consider it a fine thing to receive such fine composition as I always "make up" to put into letters. But to be serious, I do wish you were ever in a mood to write to me, for being so far away, and receiving letters only from Martha, it seems as if you, Aunt Vinal and everybody else were lost in the fog. Of my visit home I am thinking much. I wish to see you greatly; and unless you return with us, or come down soon after, I shall begin to fear your talk of consenting to live here with us will prove a clear hoax. As for keeping house we cannot get along without you, for Mr. Fiske, I dare say, is as ignorant as I am, though he is much more careful about saying so. You are older and wiser than both of us together & when you see us in danger of shipwrecking our establishment, you can lift up a warning voice and we will alter our course. There are not many temptations to be extravagant here. All the houses I have been in are furnished economically, quite so, there is a greater difference in the houses and furniture in this place and Boston, than in the fare. Many of the dishes here are much cheaper but they are as good; I never wish to live better than Mrs. Moore does and we can afford to live as well as she does if I can get her faculty of preparing everything so that it can be eaten.

The old meeting house is soon to be taken down, workmen are preparing the ground for the erection of the new one; having it at the corner of the little St. that passes Mrs. Shepard's will XXXX give publicity and consequence to her situation but it will in some measure limit the prospect to be taken from her house. Amherst is a very busy place. Everybody I see seems to have just as much as they can do. Mr. Sweetser does a great deal of business and people say he is making money. If this be true you had better invite him to share the profit of his business with you. Your room is in good order - bed all ready for you to jump into. The Secretary drawers I have not put in order yet; I mean the small drawers that contain a little of everything; it would be an amusing inventory if I should mention all the articles you have laid up there. Do write to me before the vacation I am in serious earnest. Tell me what I shall write you about the next time. It wouldn't do to write the same that I have this, any more than for a minister to preach the same sermon two sabbaths in succession. The remainder of this sheet I will fill to Aunt Vinal and you will please to give her the reading of it as soon as this has been read by yourself. Remember me to Mrs. Pilsberry, Mary, Mrs. Fisher and Aunt Laphum. Mr. Fiske requests an affectionate remembrance to you.

Your affectionate daughter
D. Vinal Fiske

To Martha - You have taken off your low cap before this, so I will not condole with you an account of its miserable feeling. I know how to sympathize with you in this kind of affliction for whenever I contrast what I ought to do and the manner in which it should be done with what I do, and the manner in which it is done, the low cap as you call it immediately falls upon my head and so close does it stick that nothing but rigorous action in some laudible employment will jostle it off. Remember this recipe for you will find it of great use, - a sovereign remedy for this due disease. A long letter I am expecting from you and Aunt tomorrow night. Remember me to Mr. Adams, Dr. Hooker and Mr. Shed. Don't be afraid to write me for Mr. Fiske does not see your letters tho he wishes to very much. Love to you, & John, uncle and aunt from Mr. Fiske and Maria.

Yours affectionately,

Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks you say - observe then that I say that my Piano-forte is in good time, is a fine instrument and robs some time from my knitting, sewing, drawing, etc.

Dec. 12, Friday afternoon

I am very glad my dear Aunt that the vacation is so soon to give me an opportunity of examining your sitting room, to find if possible what it is that separates you from the desk of your work-table, something is in the way, and makes a most unfortunate distance for me, between your fingers and pen; I'll fasten one into your right hand when I come home if you do not promise to write. Without, for as much as I prize little Martha's good long letters, I cannot get along any longer without some from you. The wind whistles most dolorously round the corner of my chamber in the night and this is a sound you recollect used to make me homesick at Londonderry. I am not homesick any but when I hear those piteous squeals, they always make me wonder why Aunt does not write. Mrs. Moore returned on Monday - her sister was not living when she reached him, he had expired about 15 minutes before her arrival. Mrs. Moore has a sister in Boston and she thinks of coming down with us in the vacation to visit her. I hope she will - I wish to have you acquainted with her. I know she will be interested in you. Thank William Beecher for his friendly letter. George is beyond the reach of thanks. Dorcas Homes is the only young friend who has written me a letter since I have been here. I answered it immediately - not being buried as well as married. The term closes in a week from next Wednesday night and unless something unforeseen frustrates our plans we shall be in Boston the following Friday. Mr. Fiske says it is possible that he may not be able to leave until Friday, in that case we shall not arrive until Saturday night. I do wish very much to see you all, so much so, that whenever Mr. Fiske says it is strange doings for him to make you such a visit and asks me if on the whole I do really think it will answer to do it, I tell him yes, certainly, although the same queries start up once in a while in my own mind. You must make us a visitation when we commence housekeeping. Do tell me whether you have heard from Lansbrough recently, for I have not heard a single word yet. I shall write again before my visit home. I am afraid some that Martha or Sarah are sick.

I intended to write you something about the benevolent societies in this place, or rather, about their non-existence but I have not room. There are not many destitute families here. I have been introduced to 2 poor black women. Their names are Venus & Sukey, but Venus lives so far off I shall not be able to see her very often. She used to live in Mrs. Worcester's family. Mrs. Worcester rode to see her the other day and carried me with her. She is very far and has a rheumatic fever which you know is very distressing. She is some serious, but gives me no satisfactory evidence of piety.

I am very glad to hear that the number of inquirers has become so large in all the orthodox Churches. The prayers of all such as are now aroused from the moral lethargy of sin will be heard I hope for the conversion of other sinners; and among them I wish might be found the young men connected with this college. A most lamentable state of indifference exists among them this term, and also in all the parishes in this place. A lecture is held in the chapel every Thursday evening and conducted by the President or some of the officers. This lecture I attend regularly, and last evening heard a most affecting discourse from Dr. H. upon the ingratitude and danger of declension in religion.

I shall expect a letter next Saturday and tell me in what clothes I had better bring home, don't you laugh, for I am serious.

Love to Aunt Walker - you may let her see all my letters unless I send you a particular request to show them to no one - Love to the Scholfields and to our Mary.

[Sunday] Amherst, March 15, 1829

My dear father,

I have only a few moments to spend in writing to you by this private opportunity, and as a matter of course they will be spent in "stirring up your mind by way of remembrance" that the middle of March has arrived in Amherst before you, and that all your children are waiting to see you, with an earnest wish that you will not compel them to wait any longer. There is considerable snow on the ground now and it is snowing very fast this afternoon, if enough should fall to make decent sleighing I do hope you will not defer coming until it becomes indecent.

Aunt Vinal told me in her last letter you were at Newbury Port - if this find you there, don't be persuaded, or persuade yourself to remain there such a direful while as you have in times past. Mr. Chickering reads to you evenings and I will do the same in Amherst, and when reading becomes an old story we will make some books for others to read, you furnish the ideas and I will be your amanuensis to transcribe them. I am sorry to hear of Capt. Pilsberry's suffering from infirmities, sickness and neglect. I can think of no feelings that must be so agonizing as those occasioned in the heart of a parent by a want of affectionate attention from those who are indebted to him for unremitted care and support through the helplessness and waywardness of infancy, childhood and youth. I must very abruptly close because Mr. Fiske is going out earlier than I expected and must take this with him to Mr. Abbott who is to be its bearer to Boston.

Your affectionate daughter -
D.W. Fiske

Addressed: Mr. David Vinal, Boston, Mass - To the care of Mr. Otis Vinal
Return address: Amherst Mass, June 20 [Saturday]

[Thursday] Amherst, June 11, 1829

My dear father,

You will please to observe that I have so far recovered the recollection that we lost in moving, as to be able to state accurately the year and month and day of the month. There is a reason now for noticing time as it passes that did not exist when you were here, that reason will occur to you if you think of your promise to visit us again in three or four weeks. We do miss you very much indeed, at the table and up stairs and down stairs and all round the house for there was not a corner in the whole establishment where you did not XXXXX XXX XXX XXX walk, or sit, or look or drive a nail. We use the small table and Mr. Clark sits in your place and we have not forgotten the cup plates once since you left. We are careful too to keep the lower door fastened when we are all up stairs; there are not many of us to be up stairs or down for Mary Ann has left us. A married sister of hers came for her from Heardwick and Mary Ann was so feeble she wished to go, so of course we could not detain her. I hope we shall hear of some one soon for I hate to have Maria have the heaviest work, and she has it, for the lighter part is as much as I can do. Mr. Thayer has returned and says the cistern shall be finished as soon as Mr. Dickinson goes to Boston again to bring the Roman cement for doing it, and that he will send a man this week to attend to the bell and chamber door. He thinks it would be a good plan for Mr. Fiske to get a brush scythe and mow down all the brush and weeds in the woods near the house but I think he had better do it himself.

June 19, Friday morning.

We have a girl now, so I am rather more ladyish & can finish your letter; she is only 14 years of age and quite small but she is strong, healthy, active and teachable and does more than Mary Ann was able to do; we took her only till we could get some one else but if she continues to do as well as she has done Maria thinks it will be nice to keep her; I hope she will, for we give her only half a dollar a week and an older girl would not work for less than a dollar; this half dollar saved will go towards making up for my being an ignorant woman, from a gadding city, brought up in a depraved era, among extravagant people.

Nothing new has taken place at the village or about us since you were here excepting that we had a crazy visitor yesterday morning at 3 o'clock. It was a deranged woman from Belchertown. She has been so occasionally for nearly a year and her husband who is a respectable farmer brought her to Amherst to board a while at Mr. Strong's the Postmaster thinking freedom from care and change of scene might help her; she ran away from there with only a stocking on one foot and nothing upon the other, her hair down and nothing upon her head, and jumped over a very high picket fence into the low land at the bottom of Mr. Strong's garden, from there into our woods where she had no idea of stopping she said only she had lamed one knee so that she could not get away any further, we were almost afraid to let her in but concluded to she seemed such an object of distress and begged so hard for admission, we gave her some blankets, a buffalo skin and a roll of old carpeting for a pillow and locked her in to the little entry where Mr. Fiske's book case stands. She said she came from Mr. Strong's so Mr. F called there in the morning and he with the woman's husband carried her away. We seldom think with lively emotions of gratitude of the blessing of a rational mind, and yet no judgment can be heavier than the helpless watchedness of insanity. I do wish you would write to me. I want to know whether things are in a better or worse state at Newburg-port than you expected to find them and how your health is. I really believe you hurt yourself with work here. It will never be in our power to compensate you for your kindness, the only reward you can have will be the consciousness of having greatly promoted our daily comfort by a liberal supply of all the conveniences of domestic life.

Remember me to Aunt Nancy, Mrs. Jones and Eunice when you see them. I some expect you will receive this at Newbury Port. Mr. Fiske and Maria wish to be remembered to you.

Your affectionate & grateful daughter
D.W. Fiske

[1829] Amherst, October 19, Monday morning

You need not be greatly alarmed my dear father at the sight of my penmanship lest there should be an endless letter to be read, for my eyes are so weak yet and there are so many uses for them I shall be as concise as possible. I intended to have sent by Mr. Dickinson but Mr. Sweetser forgot to send us word when he would leave Amherst, as he engaged to do. You will get this I hope before he leaves Boston as I should be glad of some medicine from Dr. Warren by his return. I think he can tell much better than any other Physician what is best for me, and Mr. Fiske is desirous that I should be doing something for my lungs. They are much less effected than they have been many times but still there is some irritation that it would be well to attend to in season. Will you be kind enough to call on Dr. Warren and get him to prescribe something and send it by Mr. Dickinson. What I wish to have Dr. Warren know, is the time of my confinement (6 weeks since nearly) - about ten days after I took cold in my head and had a sore throat with it, and since that cold left me I have been troubled with hoarseness morning and evening and slight difficulty of breathing it sometimes occasions an inclination to cough, but I can generally suppress it without much effort. I have a very good X XXXXX XXXX XXXXX - appetite and by taking Congress water occasionally digest my food well. My diet is beefsteak, rusked bread, rye gingerbread, crush coffee and shells, boiled rice, also and wasted apples. I wish you would ask Dr. Warren if he approves of this diet, and whether it would do for me to take bark or something to strengthen me faster as I gain strength slowly. I have a good deal of milk, more than enough for the puppy and I wish to know Dr. Warren's opinion about the length of time I must keep it. I ride out; and have walked out since I wrote last, but only a short distance. I am sorry to send you such a letter of complaints for you to repeat and if you do not like to call and undertake to recite it give it to Aunt Vinal and send Dr. Warren to her for its contents. I wish much to see you and hope you will come to Amherst before the vacation.

I direct this letter to Aunt Vinal so that if you are at Newbury-port it may not be forwarded to you without its contents have been attended to first. Do write to us before long. I ought not to say any more for my eyes begin to feel badly.

Yrs truly, D.W.F.

Mr. Fiske requests to be remembered to you and aunt

Addressed: Mr. David Vinal, Boston, Mass. - No. 39 Hade...St. Mr. Otis Vinal's, ... Politeness of Esq. Boltwood

[Friday] Jan. 1, 1830

My dear father,

You say I must learn to write without lines so I will begin tonight in writing to you. I have had a very comfortable ride to Worcester. I arrived about 1/2 past 5 and am now presiding with great dignity and independence over a good fire in one of Mr. Worthington's large chambers; the warming pan is in one corner, and the grand piece of soap-stone you gave me in the other, it retained its heat all day without being put to any fire, excepting a few moments at Marlborough where we dined. One of the gentlemen that were in the stage when I started left us at Sudbury. Dr. Bancroft, the Unitarian clergyman of Worcester joined us at Cambridge, the name of the other gentleman I did not learn but he knew Uncle Otis and Aunt Vinal before they were married and afterward when they lived in Charlestown and knew there were two other Vinals, David and Gideon. I told him I was Mr. David's daughter, so he called me Miss Vinal & treated me very politely all the way. Mr. Worthington is a very active, attentive man, he knew me, superintended my baggage, attended to having a fire made in my chamber, and furnished me with a bowl of fine milk and crackers in a very short time. It is now 20 minutes past 9, one reason that I am writing so late, two gentlemen have called on me this evening - Prof. Worcester and Esq. Boltwood, both from Amherst this morning. They saw Mr. Fiske last night and he sent me a good long letter by them, he is expecting me tomorrow night and would have come to Worcester to meet me, had it not been for wishing to have the house open, warm and in some order when I got there.

Mr. Fiske said nothing about the house in last night's letter. Prof. Worcester says Miss Holbrook is a terrible knotty stick. I presume she will not go off till she is pounded away by carpenters. Mrs. Worcester and Esq. Boltwood are representatives, they will spend several weeks in Boston. Give much love to Uncle, Aunt and Martha, you will show this to aunt. It is so late I ought to go to bed, but not without first assuring you how truly grateful Mr. Fiske and myself desire to be for the very many comforts you have bestowed upon us; it is our earnest desire that we may be the means of contributing to your comfort and happiness, and that when we are placed beyond the reach and need of these things that perish with the using, we may be found together at the right hand of God where there is no sin, or pain or sickness or death and where all tears are wiped away from every eye.

Your very affectionate & grateful daughter
D.W. Fiske


Write to me and I will burn your last letter - come to Amherst next week. I hope to have a safe and pleasant journey tomorrow, "some trust in chariots and some in horses, but safety is of the Lord."

I have thought of Brown several times today and should like his company and warmth tonight - but I do not regret leaving him - he would have been rather an unrespectable sort of companion for a lady alone.

Good night.

Tuesday morning
I have had a very good night rest, am very well, no robbers have stolen any of my things.

[1831] Saturday afternoon

My dear Father,

Lest Mr. Dickinson should call before I can finish a letter to you I will say first what is of the most consequence. The enclosed letter to Aunt Vinal contains $5 that I have sent to her to purchase me a piece of cotton to send by Mr. Dickinson's return to Amherst, so you will deliver the letter, if possible soon as this is handed to you & if Aunt Vinal is not able to go out and get the Cotton I should be glad to have you get it. I have specified in her letter the kind I want. Mr. Dickinson arrived in Amherst today and brought us the little chair for Helen. I am very much obliged to you for procuring it, it is just such an one as I wanted, and if you will ever come to Amherst you shall be paid its value. When are you coming? It is more than six months since you left us; if you stay much longer I shall begin to wish to move to Boston so it will be wise for you to help keep me contented where I am by making us a visit. On every other account I prefer living in the country. I like the plainness and the retirement and the neighbourly intercourse of a country life, more than any advantages that can be named connected with Boston but when I think of spending my days such a distance from you, and of being thus deprived of the opportunity of doing anything to make you more comfortable and cheerful, it is painful to think of all you have done for me. I do wish there was something in Amherst to occupy and interest you. I have thought very much of you since Mr. Fiske's return as he has told me what vexing trouble you are having with Mr. Chickering - what will be the result? And when will it end? I wish you would write me about it; do not let it occupy your thoughts so as to destroy all your happiness. He cannot injure others so much as he has injured himself. He can only trouble you in this life while he is ruining himself for the never-ending life that is to come.

We are all well. Helen grows finely, and keeps me at work finely. Mrs. C. I expect will leave me in April, I shall miss her very much. Dr. Humphrey has a son quite sick, his oldest but one. They are fearful his sickness will terminate in consumption. Mrs. Moore was almost sick with the ague in the vacation and last week fell down stairs and sprained her ankle. She is beginning to walk again and intends taking boarders with no assistance but her little niece Abba. If I write more my package will not be in readiness for Mr. Dickinson.

Your affectionate daughter D.W. Fiske

Aunt Vinal will give you the carraway seeds & and some other things to send me with the cotton.

Addressed: Mr. David Vinal, Boston, and postmarked July 6 Amherst, Mass.
[Sunday] Amherst, July 3rd, 1831.

My dear father

I have been looking out for you night after night till I begin to think you will never come & my pride is not a little mortified in being compelled to hear from all quarters "it is a great while since your father has been to see you," "I should think he would wish to see Helen" "I thought you expected him some time ago" "Is it not a year since be visited you" etc. Pride I find is a very prominent trait in my character & makes me unwilling to have it supposed that I am not worth visiting, were it not for truth's sake I should tell people you had gone a voyage to Europe. But I cannot think you will delay coming longer, this week I do think will bring you. Our currants are not gone yet & you love them & our vegetables are coming on finely, we have what I call a very neat garden. The garden looks much better than the house, the house needs painting exceedingly & Mr. Fiske says if you are not coming soon you must send him permission to get it done; perhaps you recollect of telling him not to have it done till you came again, on account of something that you wished to oversee about the shingles to prevent the house from leaking.

Aunt Vinal writes me that you are busy about houses & are waiting to leave everything in order; if I did not leave some work that needed to be done I should not write a letter once in six months. Mary is still with me & does well. Helen is well & is of course a very wonderful child. She can whistle, pull hair & perform various capers.

You have heard I suppose of Mr. Thayers' marriage. I have been much pleased with Mrs. Thayer. She is intelligent, social, pious, etc, etc. & her sister, a widow is a very fine lady, a great acquisition to our circle. The Cottage parlours are furnished elegantly & all about the Cottage it begins to look as if the owner lived in it. A new house is commencing near Esq. Dickinson's, on the opposite side of the road. A new house is put up near us on the left hand of the hill as we go up to the village. Mr. Thayer has made rooms to accommodate a school in his new brick building & a Committee have been appointed to take measures to establish a Female Seminary, but I doubt whether such a school would flourish here so well as where there are fewer young gentlemen.

Tomorrow there will be religious exercises, morning and afternoon at the chapel to celebrate our Independence. 31 students have been added to the church today & a large number of persons have joined Mr. Washburn's church. Remember me to Aunt Vinal, Mrs. Chickering, Martha. I do hope you will come this week or if any thing prevents you that you will write, so that your proud daughter can say to folks that she has had a letter from her father. I have opened the white sugar you sent, it is much nicer than Mr. Sweetser keeps. I have taken out a box full and had the barrel headed up again. I am so afraid of using it too fast having so much in the house.

Tell Aunt I am looking out for an answer to my last letter, that I think a great deal of hearing from her though I do not get time to tell her so very often.

Your affectionate & grateful daughter
D.W. Fiske

You will excuse this writing for I have hurried every word lest Helen should awake & prevent me from finishing my letter. You must burn this & not leave it in your hat for everybody to see.

I have seen the death of Mr. Plaisted in the Recorder; you probably remember him, the blind minister that used to visit at Uncle Vinal's; he was a good man to bear his infirmity with great cheerfulness.

Addressed: Mr. David Vinal, Boston

[May 1832] Amherst, Sunday Evening

My dear father

Having an opportunity to send to Boston by Dr. Humphrey, I thought I would just trouble your conscience a little, by reminding you of your promise to visit Amherst soon as the travelling become good in May; June will very soon be here, & I am very apprehensive will arrive some time before you will, I can hardly believe Summer is so near as the Almanac says, for the weather is so cold I have worn a great coat & shawl to meeting today & have only been comfortably warm; it is feared that vegetation will be very much retarded unless the cold winds & rains withhold their chilling influence very soon. I fear also your wardrobe will suffer some loss unless the warmer weather comes soon, for I have formed the thievish design of stealing your old grey frock-coat to make a comfortable petticoat for a little girl I have taken; she is a child from a miserable poor & intemperate family in Sturbridge; if she is teachable, amiable & of sufficient assistance to pay for the expense & trouble of bringing her up I shall keep her, & if not, send her home at the end of three months. Maria is with me yet, but is calculating to leave the last of this week. I have a girl engaged, about 16 years old to do the housework this summer. I hope she will come next week.

I have entirely recovered from the fever I had last winter but have not strength to do half the work I should like to do myself, instead of hiring girls that need so much watching & telling.

Mr. Washburn's health continues very feeble, he is unable to preach. I do not think he will ever be any better. I suppose you have seen Mrs. Moore. I do not think of any village news that would be interesting. A flourishing Female Seminary is in operation & has more than 50 pupils.

I hope you will come to Amherst before long - the only inducement I can present is that we shall be very glad to see you & the only threatening I have, is that your coat will be made into a petticoat, unless you come in season next week to prevent it.

Your affectionate & grateful daughter
D.W. Fiske

Addressed: Mr. David Vinal, Boston
Return address: Amherst, Mass, Sept. 6 [Friday]

[September 3, 1833] Tuesday Evening

My dear father

I know you wish to hear from us often while disease remains in our dwelling and your kind and faithful letter should have a longer answer than you received by Mr. Stearns. My health is about the same as when I wrote last. Humphrey is not as well, he is free from the bowel complaint but has the hooping cough very severely, we cannot help feeling anxious as to what may be the result & I shall not feel willing to leave home while he remains no better. I have a cough which is like Humphrey's, excepting that it is not so bad & have no doubt but it is the hooping cough, as it came on about the same time without taking any cold; if I had had it when young I should have heard Aunt Vinal or Aunt Rachel speak of it. my appetite is good, I sleep all night without waking and have help enough to relieve me from all housework and tending Humphrey. Miss Leonard takes all the care of Humphrey - Clarissa Warner (one of the girls I went to see with you) came yesterday to do housework & Nancy, my little girl, helps them both; so you need not be anxious for fear I am wearing myself out. I am saving every bit of strength I gain against Miss Leonard goes away - she will expect to be sent for every day after the middle of the month. This week I intend to make a search in this vicinity for some one to take charge of the cooking & housework when Miss Leonard goes, and I shall offer 9 shillings per week, relying somewhat upon your kind offer should we get over head in debt by keeping too much help. Our expenses have been great for the last month - owing to my sickness and Humphrey's - and boarding us out to free me from the fatigue of Commencement but I do not think we shall actually fail since Mr. Fiske is economical & I try to be, unless some Providential calamity brings us to want. I do not like to have the unnecessary expense of my little girl now but Mr. Fiske will not consent to my parting with her till I am sure of a large one.

I have just had a letter from Mr. Stearns and am glad you intend as he says to come to Amherst & journey with me some - for if Humphrey should get better I should like it much, and think it would do more towards regaining my strength and health than medicine and Dr. Cutler is of the same opinion. I should like to come to Boston & till Humphrey began to be more unwell I was thinking of coming in the Stage. It would be so much less expense and trouble than another way. Let me hear from you soon. I hope you like boarding with Mrs. Burnie - when I come to Boston - if you will give me an invitation, and Mrs. B. can spare a little chamber - I will pass a week with you - is not this a handsome proposal? It is best not to say anymore after it.

Yrs affectionately D.W. Fiske

Love to Aunt Vinal & other friends.
Uncle Beck called here this morning - he has a waggon he wishes Mr. Fiske to buy very much (which he will not do); he says he has not staid in Pittsfield but 2 days since he moved there because he has been round "settling up the companies' debts." I hope you will come to Amherst as soon as you get your houses fixed for I am well provided for as to help for the present. [tr. note: missing words] Miss Leonard will be called for till the last of the month, from what I learned yesterday.

Mr. Martin Thayer's child died this morning of the hoping cough & bowel complaint.

Wednesday Afternoon

Humphrey is no better than he was yesterday, he has lost much strength within a few days and is quite feverish. Dr. Cutler does not consider his case immediately dangerous, but I think it very doubtful whether he recovers; there are three considerations which are of unspeakable value in relation to him. 1st we have from the Bible great reason to hope that infants who have not committed actual sin will be happy in the future world. 2nd he is in the hands of an infinitely good & wise Being who cannot but do right, and is constantly aiming at the eternal welfare of his creatures in every event that takes place - and the third is my sins against God deserve the heaviest judgments, instead of which he has given me innumerable blessing and therefore it is exceedingly unreasonable & wicked to repine & murmur if he takes but one away - although that one may be a beloved child. I trust these considerations will make you as calm & cheerful as they do me - whatever afflicts us I know is an affliction to you.

I shall write again as [tr. note: words missing] change takes place for the better or worse, a [tr. note: words missing] before if it is convenient.

Humphrey is better
Thursday morning

Addressed: Mr. David Vinal, Boston, Mass
Return address: Amherst Mass, Sept 29 [Sunday]
[September 29, 1833] Sunday Afternoon

My dear father

The dreaded event is fast approaching - Humphrey has been failing fast since Thursday, he has forgotten his mother - his eye is becoming dim, & before this reaches you will probably be closed forever. My heart is wrung with anguish at the thought of seeing him no more, but in the midst of many tears I can say, "The Lord gave" & the Lord hath a perfect right to take away & "blessed be the name of the Lord." If this affliction should be the means of arousing us to prepare with more diligence for our own departure, we shall rejoice in Eternity that his precious spirit was called home so soon. You must not be too much grieved on my account (I fear you will, because I know how hard it is to see a child suffer) but try with me, to be cheerfully submissive, and grateful to God for having borne with our forgetfulness of him and neglect of his Holy word with so much forbearance and patience; we are his children, but what earthly parent would have borne with such want of affection, & disobedience, as God has witnessed every day and every hour for many years in us?

Miss Leonard & Mr. Fiske take care of Humphrey - he is less easy with any one else. We have every needed assistance. I have not got the whooping cough badly and am perfectly well in other respects. Helen has gained flesh since you were here, she has the whooping cough coming on, but I trust she has strength to bear it. Humphrey's bowels had been previously so weakened by the bowel complaint, that the cough brought on a diarrhoea which has exhausted his strength and produced an inflammation. Do let me hear from you very soon unless you are coming to Amherst instead of sending a letter.

Your affectionate & grateful daughter
D.W. Fiske

Much love to Aunt Vinal & show her this letter

Dear Sir:

Our beloved little Humphrey will in all probability soon leave us. We are deeply afflicted, but God is good to us in the midst of all. Happily for his mother's health he was weaned before this fatal sickness came on, otherwise she must have sunk with him.

Our dear aunt & Christian friends will pray for us in this new trial - the severest we have had.

Yours in haste

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