Helen Hunt Jackson 1-1-11 transcription
Ms 0020, Box 1, Folder 11, Letters from Nathan Fiske (HHJ's father) to Deborah Fiske (HHJ's mother), 1832
Transcribed by Gloria Helmuth, October 1995
Addressed: Mrs. D.W.V. Fiske, Amherst
Return Address: Spencer, Mass, May 9
 Spencer, Tuesd. Afternoon
My Dear Wife,
I know not how much you wish me to come home, but I scarcely was able to restrain myself from springing into a stage that has just proceeded to Brookfield, that I might reach home tomorrow night. I wish very much to see you & Helen & Maria; & especially to day, when I am lying, as it were on my oars, & the hurry of begging money being suspended for a moment, my thoughts run back to our snug little parlor, which seems none the less convenient & pleasant, I assure you in consequence of my travels in this tour.
I finished my work in N. Brookfield yesterday morning; a hard try I had of it, o'er rocks & hills, into kitchens, shops, & fields, & every where, I drove & dollar by dollar forced the contribution up to $271.00, twenty one above the sum assessed. Then in the afternoon one of Dr. Snell's parishioners brought me over to Spencer, where at Rev. Mr. Packard's I have found a kind & hospitable reception. This morning your letter & one from the Pres.t reached me; I shall try to engage some new agents in the work. One great reason for going to Sturbridge is to see that Mr. Clark takes hold.
Spencer is indeed a poor field apparently, but I shall managed so as to get the sum expected I think; I have seen two men only & got in subscription from them more than half of it; but as the good people are just now building them a vestry by great exertion, I have concluded not to make my effort now, but to pass on to Sturbridge this evening; & come to Spencer at another time; perhaps my plan will fail; it would not be strange, if it should.
I trust you remember me in your prayers, & I hope many prayers are offered for the success of this effort for our College. Without the blessings of God, we shall not succeed, but shall be covered with the disgrace of those who begin to build in a great house without counting the cost. I find the College is dear in the estimation of many; but has also many opposers, & many slanders still are in circulation respecting it. The sum contemplated must be raised, if some of us are absent from our families for years.
In relation to Dashiell, I intended to tell you to keep the money, & tell Dashiell to borrow of Green what he might absolutely need until my return. If this letter arrive in season to have this arrangement let it be made, unless Mr. D. directs in his letter how to use the money - if he does then let Mr. H. act his pleasure, & say nothing to him. If Mr. D. does not mention how he wishes it to be used, I do not choose that his son should have any except from Green. A good way, if these conditions make it necessary to say any thing to Dashiell, will be, to ask Dashiell & Green to tea together, & mention it in the present of Green so that Dashiell shall see that Green is authorised by you, & not by himself at second hand from you. Green will know all about; I spoke to him. You have only to say, that I wish Mr. G. would be good enough to let D. have what may be necessary until I return.
I hope to be at home by Monday night, & I wish you would get the garden spaded by that time if you can; perhaps Tim. will find Mr. Buckman - Mr. Smith that works at College can tell where Buckman can be found.- & you can set him at work, according to my paper, or at any rate engage him to come by Tuesday, & engage Mr. Armstrong with his team also for that day, on the condition that I come. -- As to the chickens do as you please, if you have been feeding the hen, I think you are entitled to some of the brood, but I hope you have not, - & will send them home along with Catherine.
As to a girl, none can be found.
My love to all.
Addressed: Mrs. D.W.V. Fiske, Amherst, Postmarked Boston, MS, Jul 2
 Boston, Sabbath Noon
My Dear Wife,
You will not be more surprized much, than I am myself, at my being now in our old chamber at No. 39. Hancock Street. But you need not be alarmed; & I hope I shall not be charged with making a wholly unmilitary movement in the campaign on which I am commissioned by the higher powers.
I found on seeing Rev. Mr. Rockwood, that he could not engage easily in my work until next week, & learning this only yesterday morning, I could not go to any place in Worcester Co. (with any favorable prospect) near enough to reach, in person to make any new movement if the minister should not be at home.
So I took stage & rode to Boston in a monstrous cloud of dust. I shall go to Weston tomorrow & take the Westborough contributions after that. Mr. C. Stoddard was in the stage returning from a visit to Williamstown. He says, Mrs. Porter is a very superior woman.
I am glad to find that your father has a last affected a resolution to visit you, & hope he will remain at least till I return; you will give my affectionate regards to him. When I shall return I hardly know; the little cessation from hard work, by my truant trip to Boston (how I wish you & Helen were with me), may perhaps lead me to stay away from home longer than otherwise.
But it is exceedingly fatiguing, while the weather is so warm, & I shall not continue it, if I find it affecting me again as it did the middle of last week. I am now, however, as well as when I wrote last, & rather better.
Your aunt is much better. Eunice is intending to visit you soon.
Sab. Aft. I have just returned from Dr. B.'s meeting; the Doctor seemed rather weary from previous exertion, or unwell, but presented a subject of delightful interest to the true christian: i.e. the mutual friendship of Christ & his people. "Henceforth I call you not servants, but friends." The disciples of C. are one with him, & wish to be associated with him in blessed union forever.
I am hoping to get a letter from you tomorrow, as I shall direct the W. Postmaster to forward your last; upon second thought I will not, but trust that you are well; & request you to write to Weston to me, or Maria, immediately on receiving this.
It is excessively warm here, & your Aunt is rather overcome - so am I & all. All send love to you & Helen & Grandpa. Can you not, interest him about something so as to find we him to keep a little time from the poison factory here.
Wishing to see & be with you more than ever,
I am your unworthy friend & husband,
Addressed: Mrs. D.W.V. Fiske, Amherst, Postmarked Greenfield, MS, Aug
Greenfield Aug 8th, 1832
My Dear D.
I am in the bar, not merely barroom, of Mr. Newton, past 9 O.cl, weary, sleepy, & homesick. But I have had some success. I reached G. safe before night, saw & conversed with Mr. Alvord, slept at tavern etc. Next morning saw Mr. Ripley; the other man not at home. Mr. R. sub $50; & I drove up to Bernardston & passed Thursday night, obtained $70 where we expected nothing, & on Sat. morn. to Northfield & obtained $50, where we expected nothing - Saturday afternoon (prodigiously hot & sickening) rode back to Greenfield N. Parish, & preached twice on Sunday - Monday forenoon obtained $23. where we expected nothing - the afternoon walked one mile or more to his village parish & obtained $100, all we expected from Greenfield - Staid last night with the Jones High School - to day have walked more than I will again on my agency in a day (very hot) if our $50 is never obtained, & have got $12. - that is the story. I shall go to bed as soon as I get this letter into the office - hope to be rested - & tomorrow mean if possible to get $15 more (to make $200 for Greenfield) -- then I now think I shall steer for Brattleborough, Vt. This is a freak just come into my head, it may get some money; perhaps not, you need not tell of this, but write me immediately directed to Brattleborough, & tell the folks that I was at Greenfield.
Tell me how you are fully, & what you wish as to my coming home.
Ask Timothy to see if he can get Mr. Dickenson too pasture the cow two or three weeks; you can manage to speak of it perhaps without wounding delicacy; he will know the object; I wish the cow to have a calf.
Addressed: Mrs. D.W.V. Fiske, Amherst
Return Address: Brattleborough, received Monday afternoon
Brattleborough Aug 10th, 1832
I sat up till 12 O clock to see a letter from you & then was obliged to go to bed without the satisfaction; the mail not having arrived. This morning it came to me & had not the stage been gone, I should have been at Amherst before noon. I feel very sorry that I was so sleepy as not to wait till the mail actually arrived; but perhaps it is for some good purpose; I do feel as if the Lord had in this trip thus far directed my steps; & I hope your health will be better; had you not mentioned being better yesterday, I should have hastened home by private conveyance.
As circumstances are I shall go this morning to Keene, (here I have $100.00) then to N. Ipswich, to which last place I wish you to write as soon as you get this.
The stage now calls for me, my health is better - & I shall not work so fast as I have. I have in all $412.00.
Be very careful, keep wholly still, work & fatigue is unnecessary.
In haste yrs unchanged
Love to all.
Addressed: Mrs. D.W.V. Fiske, Amherst, Via Worcester
Return Address: Royalston, MS, Augt. 13
Royalston, Aug 13, 1832
My Dear Wife,
I greatly regret now that I did not receive your letter in season to come directly from Brattleboro' to Amherst. I proceeded that morning, after closing the hasty note which you probably have received by this day, across the Connecticut, & the hills to Chesterfield to Keene; it was a very pleasant ride, as the rain the preceding night had laid the dust & purified the air. At Keene I did nothing, as on inquiry of the minister, that course seemed best.
I found a stage directly to this place, where you know, I wished to get when I left Amherst, & I concluded to come here, instead of going to N. Ipswich, which is in N. Hampshire. But I have found it poor & discouraging work here, I preached three times yesterday - hoping that it would influence the good people to open their hearts for the College, but I have got only $38.00. The minister seems very kind to me, but he is very much afraid of acting decidedly; he rode with me this forenoon to some of the people, & altho' he spoke much in favor of the College, yet in his next breath he would say, "I hate to go round to my people", & thus I have been half pleased & half vexed with him at every place.
He will perhaps come to our house at Comm.t; if so, & I am at home, he must be hospitably entertained; it is Mr. Perkins. I cannot get any direct conveyance home; this spot is, as it were, out of the world.
I see not how I can hear from you; the letter to N. Ipswich must go to Washington, & I know not where I shall be so as to tell where to write again. I expect to go with Mr. P. tomorrow to Philipston, thence I know not where.
From the statement at the close of yr letter, that you were much better on Thursday, I am encouraged to think that nothing disastrous will come of your illness; I beg you to be very careful, & avoid company, & keep quiet on bed much of the time. You know I am absent only because of the imperious urgency of duty; I feel that we are making sacrifices which will not be justly appreciated by others; but need that dishearten us? I think of remaining abroad until the night before Com.t. - perhaps I shall not. I wish you to avoid company; yr health is a reason amply sufficient; keep your bed-room & let Eunice give the real reason, that you are unwell; then, I being absent, on Monday & Tuesday, you will wholly escape the danger to which fatigue will expose you; I think it your duty to do this; & this is a part & a great part of my reason for staying away until Tuesday night; I insist very sincerely & earnestly on this course; it is right & proper; & all imaginary consequences that may occur to yr mind, I will be responsible for.
Love to all & a kiss to Helen.
Addressed: Mrs. D.W.V. Fiske, Amherst, Favor of Rev. Mr. Clark
 Winchendon, Aug. 17th
My Dear Wife,
I trust in Providence that this line may find you better than when you wrote, & that I shall see you in comfort next Tuesday. The Rev. Mr. Clark of this place, (who knows you, used to call at Mr. O. Vinal's & says he took tea once with us at the College) will give you this tomorrow, probably; I have told him, that if you are well, you will wish him to pass the Sabbath with you; he knows your circumstances. I have been anxious about you hourly, & the more so, because you might not know where to send a message, if any calamity should occur.
Mr. C. is a widower, is looking for a wife, & I have consented to stay & preach for him next S. that he may be absent. Early Monday morning I shall go to Philipston, or if possible, Sabbath evening, & Tuesday shall come to Amherst - So far as money is concerned, I might as well have returned directly from Brattleboro'. I obtained only $60. at Royalston, & have only $20.!! here, & for this must spend more than a week, & preach five or six times.
To day we have a terribly cold N.E. storm; I have been freezing with two shirts, & my surtout besides, & shut up in the house too. My health I trust will not be in the end injured by this agency, altho' it is excessively fatiguing & exhausting, & I find when I am not stimulated by hope or actual success, that I am quite weak.
If the grass about the house has not been mown, I do not wish to have it till I return; & if by any accident I am delayed I hope Timothy will be willing to stop with you.
I repeat my wishes as to your course in relation to company this Com.t, & in relation to all kind of fatigue; if you need any other motives, only look at Mrs. P. & see the dreadful effects of mistake when one is in your situation. If Mr. C. stops with you he can make himself at home, & you need not make any ceremony or exertion on his acct. If our temporary separations seem to us an ill, let us consider how trifling it is compared with the ill that falls to the lot of others, & let us pray that it may prepare us to enjoy our union more & more.
Helen Hunt Jackson
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