Colorado College Tutt Library

Helen Hunt Jackson 1-1-15 transcription

Ms 0020, Box 1, Folder 15, Letters from Nathan Fiske (HHJ's father) to Ann Scholfield Fiske (HHJ's sister), 1844-1846
Transcribed by Gloria Helmuth, October 1995

Addressed: For Ann S. Fiske, Charlestown, Politeness of Dr. Humphrey

Amherst May 25, 1844.

My Dear Ann,

I expected your letter many days before it came, & when it did come, it made me very happy. I have written to Helen since and sent your love to her. I trust she has written to you and to Aunt Vinal. She said that she was happy at Pittsfield. Your young friends here often ask me, "Have you heard from Ann? How does she do?" Jane & Martha both say, they wish you would write to them; & I believe they mean to write to you. I saw Miss Dorothy Dickenson of Hadley on Wednesday; she asked about you & Helen, & wanted to see you.

I hope, my dear child, you will continue to be a good girl, both at School & at home. You must not be desirous to get confectionary & things that merely taste good without being any way useful to you. You must endeavor to get your lessons perfectly without troubling any one to help you; but it will be proper to ask your teacher or cousin Martha respecting any thing which you do not understand; only you will never ask at an improper time, or when they are busy, & will always ask in a very pleasant & respectful way, & never tease.

I want you to tell me in your next letter what you are learning, and whether you obtain perfect reports. Besides getting your lessons, I want you to read every day in your Bible; keeping up the plan which your dear mother gave you, so as to read that holy book all through in a year.

Do you remember the pretty verses your mother fastened in her Bible for you? I have just read them, & will put in the two last stanzas, which invite you, as XXX if your mother was speaking, & asking you to come to your Savior;

Come, ere they hand hath wove
The first fresh wreaths of Spring;
Come, ere a worn and withered love
Is all thou hast to bring.
Remember thy Creator's power,
While life from care if free,
And when the days of darkness lower,
He will remember thee.

Yes, give thy heart to Him,
While budding hope is green;
And when thy mother's eye is dim
To every earthly scene,
When this fond arm that circles thee
Must chill & powerless lie,
Our parting tear the pledge shall be
Of union in the sky.

My Dear Ann, you will write to me again very soon; for remember your Pa is now all alone; he receives very few letters, & he does not see any of the papers from Boston that used to come every day.

Here are two XX kisses for you my dear child, & the rest of the letter is for Cousin Martha.

From your loving Father.
N.W. Fiske

My dear Martha,

I thank you for helping Ann to make out her letter for me, & for putting in so welcome an addition to it. You & Aunt & all my friends show me a great deal of kindness, & I do value exceedingly the kindness. My health is not yet good, yet I think I am slowly gaining. The warm days affect me favorably; cold or damp ones very badly.

I trust my poor Annie will not prove a burden to you or Aunt, & I must beg that you will not out of a false kindness to her indulge her so that she will soon only make you trouble; if you adhere to the purpose of controlling her for her good & your own comfort during a few weeks of her first residence I feel confident she will fall into a good habit, & will learn & remember that she is under obligations & not get the fatal imagination that her happiness (that is, as miseducated children always consider it, her wishes) must be the standard for every thing.

Mrs. David Parsons is now more ill, suffering under a relapse; I called to see her yesterday, but she was so weary & weak, that it was not thought best for me to go into her room.

I am not aware of any thing further which it will be of interest to you to mention, unless it be that I had an invitation to the wedding of Miss Washburn, & the affair went off very pleasantly indeed.

You will remember me affectionately to Aunt & Uncle & also to Miss Chadwick, Mr. Tufts's family. Also particularly to my father-in-law, & please to say to him, that I have not yet been able to find Mr. Frink, as he has been absent every time I have called.

I shall always be glad of a letter from you.

Very sincerely yours N.W.F.

Addressed: Miss Ann S. Fiske, Care of Otis Vinal, Esq. Boston, Postmarked Amherst, MS, Sep 10

Amherst Monday, Aug. 9. 1844.

My Dear Ann,

Your little letter included between Helen's & cousin Martha's was very welcome, as were both theirs, & I thank you for writing. Perhaps you do not know that I was too late to get a seat in the cars the morning I left you; I went over to Boston & left a letter for a gentleman, & found a seat in the next train, & got up to Grandpa's just in season for dinner.

I arrived here on Thursday. The house appears just as I left it, only the spiders' nests are much more numerous. The garden is full of weeds; & the hens & chickens are pecking all the apples that are not rotten. Jane & Martha & Tirzah are well; they inquired why I didn't bring Ann home. Did you send love to them by me? Mrs. Parsons is much better; I called to see her, & she was very happy to be told that you were so well. Miss Julia Nelson who has been away all summer has returned; she inquired for your particularly. Miss Emily is not keeping school. Jane goes to the Academy, & Martha to the school in Mill Valley.

I hope, my dear Ann, you will continue to be a good girl, & try to make Aunt Vinal & Uncle & all about you happy. Be ready, without making objections, to sew, read, practice, work, or do any thing requested, & always be cheerful about it; nothing can be much worse than a little girl looking & acting cross, or doing what she is requested in a surly or pouty (is there such a word?) manner. I do not much fear you will ever be so foolish or wicked; I never knew you do so, but I have known & seen other little girls do so.

You wrote that you are practicing in Bertiner's book; I do not know what Bertiner's book is; you must tell me when you write again. - Mary Snell has a beautiful Piano, & she plays & sings sweetly.

You will give my love to Uncle Aunt, Cousin Martha, Helen, & Mary. Tell Aunt that I had a pleasant ride to Amherst, that my health seems to be a little better, & that I do rejoice greatly to hear that she is getting well. I shall send the things as soon as I can get time to put them together suitably, which will not be until a few days more. I shall write & let her know on what day they are sent to Palmer.

If Helen is at Charlestown, you may kiss her for me & she must give you a good hug from your father. Tell her I was very glad to get her letter & want another very soon, whether I write to her or not, & when her tooth is filled she must be more than ever careful to keep her teeth clean.

Now I must bid you good bye, as there is not time to write more.

Your affectionate father,
N.W. Fiske

Addressed: Miss Ann S. Fiske, Care of Otis Vinal, Esq. Boston, Postmarked Amherst, MS, Oct 21

Amherst Saturday Oct 19. 1846.

My Dear Ann,

I have just boxed up your Bureau; it is the one your mother gave you,& you will say to Aunt Vinal, that when Pa wrote that it might be sold he forgot that it was given to you. But it is too large I think for your room, perhaps; Aunt, however, will know what to do with it. I have put in it some writing paper for you, & so I hope I shall before long get a letter from you.

In the Bureau, also, are the pieces of Helen's cloaks, the flannels, 6 Linen Sheets & 6 pairs of pillow cases, some books for Helen, some paper for her, & a card of Steel Pens. Likewise Ma's best tea-things; tea-pot, sugar & tongs, creamer, & 12 spoons & ladle. You must ask Aunt to have the box opened carefully, by taking off first the boards on the side which has the writing on it. The tea things are in the comforter at the bottom. I do not know what the black spots on the comforter are; but perhaps a mouse lodged a while on it.

Helen's crockery tea-set is in the upper right hand drawer. There is also a letter for Mr. Curtis in Boston which you must ask Uncle Vinal if he will pleas to deliver it at 66 Congress Street & so oblige your Pa very much.

The Bureau will go to Palmer on Monday, & be in Boston on Tuesday, Oct. 22. It is directed to Mr. David Vinal Boston. The key to the Bureau is nailed to the box.

Martha Snell has been very sick of a fever along with the whooping cough. She is better now. I do not expect to board at Prof. Snell's many days longer; but shall eat in our house with Mr. Joy. I have not been quite so well this last week; the weather has been rainy; but Pa's cough is not as bad as it was in the summer. Tell Grandpa, that I bathe all over every morning in cold water, & hope I shall be able to do so through the winter.

My Dear Ann, I trust you are still a good child. Only think how kind to you your dear Uncle & Aunt are, & also Cousin Martha; you will try I know, to make them very happy, & help them every way you can.

Tell Helen, I have received her letter dated Oct. 11, & hoped to get another from her to day. Pa has had so much to do every day that he has not been able to write to her. Give her a good kiss for me, & tell her she need not wait for a letter from me, before she writes again; but I shall write to her very soon.

Give my love to Aunt, Uncle, Martha, Grandpa, & all, & now my dear child X X X here are three kisses & good bye

From Your Father N.W. Fiske

My Dear Aunt,

Very often am I thinking of your overflowing kindness to my motherless children, & when I think my heart is sometimes ready to burst with the feelings of obligation & gratitude. May God reward you more than a thousand-fold. I want to hear from you how Helen is, & how she does. Will you not find a moment to write a few words, when Ann sends me her next letter, on a sheet of the paper for her in the Bureau.

I send the Bureau which (I have lately recollected) Mrs. F. wished to have kept for Ann; it is also the smallest. The Silver is wrapped in the comforter at the bottom of the Bureau. I have not sent all the spoons. -- I should like to know when the ground at Mt. Auburn is prepared to receive the remains of our dear friend.

Helen speaks in her letter of going to Falmouth. I submit the whole matter to your discretion. I should rejoice to place the child under Mr. H's influence, & if you think Mrs. H's health will justify it, perhaps there can be no objection. Helen wanted to know about playing chess with Ann Hooker, & spoke of it as if Mrs. Hooker rather wished it; this also I leave wholly with you, if Mrs. H is rather desirous of it, I have no objections at all; I should have none to the game itself; but I am not willing to have Helen get a gammon board & dice; if you can procure a chess-board & chess-men, without the gammon & dice, I should approve it.

Very gratefully yrs. N.W. Fiske

Amherst Nov. 14. 1844

My Dear Ann,

Your letters are very short, but very welcome. Your little friends here wish to see you. Jane says "O! how I do want to see Ann Fiske." Martha Snell is now quite well; she attended meeting last Sabbath. Jane comes over here XXX quite often; Emily Joy is a play mate with her & they go to school together. Day before yesterday was the examination in the Academy.

Two weeks from to day is Thanksgiving, & I hope then to see you; I shall come to Charlestown by that time if possible. But I shall expect a letter from you before, & you must tell me what you hear from Helen, & also how far you have advanced in your studies, in your Bertini, & in the singing.

And I trust when I see Aunt & Martha they will both be able to testify that you have been a good girl, doing in every thing just as they wish you to do.

It is here a beautiful morning & now I must bid you Good morning & good bye

Your affectionate father

N.W. Fiske

Addressed: Miss Ann S. Fiske, Care of Otis Vinal Esq, Boston, Politeness of L. Sweetsen, Esq. Postmarked Charlestown, MAS, Jan 21

Amherst, Jan. 19. 1845.

My Dear Ann,

It is almost two weeks since I bade you goodbye, when the man with the Cab called for me in such a hurry. It was well he was in a hurry then, for he was not very much so afterwards as he went down to the Square, & then went back almost to Uncle Vinal's for a passenger, & did not get me to the Depot until just as the Cars were about to move off. I came home very safely & pleasantly, except that it was a little cold in the Stage from Palmer to Amherst. Mrs. Thurston came at the same time; she was very sick from riding in the Stage most of the time.

I found all my things safe & just as I left them. Martha Snell was much pleased with the paper doll. Jane said she wanted a letter from you & wanted to see you very much. Miss Emily Nelson is not at home now, I understand, but is at Hartford or New York.

I wonder if the trees in Uncle Vinal's garden have looked to day as the trees here did. Day before yesterday as the rain came it froze on all the twigs & branches of all the trees, & many of them are bent down to the ground with their heavy load of ice. To day at noon when the sun shone bright a most brilliant spectacle was presented; I never saw any thing so splendid & gorgeous; the XXX drops & bunches of ice on the trees looked like so many gems studding the trees all over; some of the trees showing myriads of them looking like so many "sparkling diamonds", others seemed to be vast silver chandeliers with ten thousand pendants all of the whitest silver, glistening in the sun; & among the trees were some on which these white silver gems & white diamonds were variegated by a multitude of gems of other colors, as brilliant as the most precious tones, crystals of yellow, blue, green, & red; so that XXX such trees seemed to be studded all over with diamonds, amethysts, topaz, emerald & sapphire. Who can imagine that such beautiful sights could be made out of mere ice?

The cherry-trees in our yard, the apple tree, & the maples between our house & Prof. Hitchcocks all exhibited these appearances, so did the row of maples in Judge Dickenson's orchard.

Thus cold & frost & storms are made by God to produce what men could not make with millions of dollars & years of labor. And who know what beautiful sight God will show to his children when they are received into Heaven, where we do not doubt your dear mother is gone?

I have been reading just now in the Bible she left for you; & have looked a the papers in it written by her. I shall put down here two or three of her references to the Bible, which I want you to examine, so as to tell me in your next letter, what the passages teach you, tell me what you learn from them. -- Proverbs. XXVIII.27. Proverbs XIX.17. Psalm XLI.1,2. -- I want you to write to me very soon. Give my love to Uncle, Aunt, Martha, & Grandpa. I want you to write me a letter, all of yourself, without asking any body what you shall say. Write it, if you please, first on your slate, or on a loose piece of paper, & let cousin Martha correct it afterwards, & then you can copy it. I want you also to write to Helen. I had a letter from her day before yesterday.

From your affectionate Father
N.W. Fiske

Addressed: Miss Martha B. Vinal, Care of Otis Vinal, Esq., Boston, Postmarked Amherst, MS, Feb 3

My Dear Ann,

I am very sorry that you have been so sick, but it makes me happy to think how kindly you have been watched over by Uncle & Aunt. I hope you do feel grateful to them as you ought, & that you will strive more than ever to oblige them & make them happy. You must be very careful lest you get sick again, by being too much in a hurry to play, or to eat.

I am pleased to know that you thought of Pa when you was sick; I should be glad to come & see you, if I could, but it would be very difficult to leave college; & when you are sick Pa is not able to make you well; I hope you will think of your Father in Heaven; He is every where present, & He alone can heal you when sick, & give you health, & pardon your sins, & prepare you to live in Heaven with him, & all those who love him. You may get well now; I trust you will be soon as strong as ever; but, my dear Ann, you must die some time, as your dear mother died, & your father will; & will you not give your best love to God & Christ who died to save you?

I want you to write to me just as soon as Aunt thinks you are well enough to write a short letter, just enough to make a little answer to my last & this. -- Tell Grandpa, that Pa sends love to him.

Your loving father,

Amherst Feb. 24. 1845

My Dear Ann,

I hope you are now entirely well, & that you will very soon write me another letter. Do you not think you will by and by become as fond of writing letters as your dear mother was? I want very much to have you fond of it, & have you learn to spell every word right, & to use your pen as neatly as she did. How it would please me to see a letter from you written so much like one of hers that I should almost think it to be from her. Have you been over to see Grandpa, since you got well? You will give my love to him & tell him that Pa wants very much to know how he does. You may tell him that Pa has washed him all over in cold water every morning this whole winter & thinks it does him good; yet Pa is not free from the disease in his Bronchia. It was Pa's turn yesterday to preach, & he did half a day, Dr. Humphrey was so kind as to preach the other half, & now if I am well enough I mean to help him half a day.

I want you also to give my love to Uncle & Aunt & Martha & Mary. Tell Aunt I feel very much afraid she will be sick from taking care of my Ann, but I hope the little girl will grow big enough to help her by & by, & will love to help her, doing it with all her might and all her heart.

You ask me how much you must give to the poor; now I cannot answer that question exactly, but if you should have a few cents or dimes, & there is a poor child in need of clothes, or a poor widow with a sick baby that needs medicine, can you not think for yourself whether you should give most of it for their help, or keep most of it to buy play things, or sweetmeats? It seems to me, you can decide such a point right.

I have had two letters from Helen, & have just written to her. I hope you will write to her. Last Monday her letter came. Last Monday was a year since your dear mother died; you know it was Monday morning about eight o'clock. Pa has thought a great deal about it all the week & he hopes you have not forgotten it; & that you will think much about your mother as being a pure & holy spirit in Heaven, & if ever you are in danger of saying or doing any thing wrong, think "O how would my mother feel if I should act thus!"

Now my child I must bid you goodnight

Your affectionate father N.W.F.

Addressed: Miss Martha B. Vinal, Care of Otis Vinal, Esq, Charlestown, No.15 Washington St.

Amherst March 30.1845

My Dear Ann,

I was glad to learn by Cousin Martha's letter that you were well. But why have you not written to Pa for ever so long? Helen has sent me two letters since I have received any from you. I hope you will love to write better by & by.

In about three weeks I hope I shall see you. Will Aunt be able to say that you have been all the while a good girl? And what will your teacher have to say? You know how much Pa thinks about your being a good child; especially about your being very grateful to Aunt & Cousin Martha & Uncle, & doing all you can to help them. Do you not often remember how kind they have been to you, in your sickness, & at other times also?

The grass begins to look a little green in our yard; the tulips & peones are starting up; the bluebirds, & robins & larks are come, & in the morning they sing just as they used to when your Ma was here; they do not miss her; I hope some of the birds will build their nest here just as she used to love to have them; it may make me a little sad; but I shall enjoy it notwithstanding.

Give my love to Uncle & Aunt & Grandpa

Very affectionately your father

N.W. Fiske

Addressed: Miss Ann S. Fiske

Amherst May 19. 1845.

My Dear Ann,

I have been here at our house just one week last Saturday, & it is only a week last Wednesday since I bade you good-bye, & yet it seems a great while since I saw you. I want to see you now again right off soon, but I cannot. You remember perhaps that it stormed the day after I left Aunt Vinal's; therefore I did not start from Weston until Friday. My ride home was more pleasant than my ride down from Amherst to Weston; although on the first day the weather was quite cold.

The trees are all in full bloom, peach-trees, pear-trees, & apple-trees; the lilacs also, white & purple, & the grass is very green, as we have had several days of most refreshing rain. Your Pa is on the whole quite contented to be here; but he often feels all alone; & wants to have you run up into the study, & bring him a flower, as in former days. As you cannot do this, you must write me very soon a little letter; no matter if it is a short one; only I want you to write it yourself, without asking any body to tell you what to put in it.

Give my love to Grandpa; tell him I called three times to see him & could not find him at home. Give my love also to Uncle & Aunt & Cousin Martha. I cannot write more now, as I must put this in the bundle with the lawn dress & parasol which I have found; & which I expect to send by Judge Dickenson tomorrow.

Your affectionate father
N.W. Fiske

Addressed: Miss Ann S. Fiske, Care of Otis Vinal Esq. Boston, Postmarked Amherst, MS, Jun 11

Amherst, June 10. 1845.

My Dear Ann,

I have been looking over all your letters to me; & how many do you think they are? They are only six in all; four last year, & two this year. But the last one (dated May 30, 1845) is the longest and the best. I hope you have another almost finished, so that you will send it very soon after receiving this from me.

Your week's vacation is gone & now you are at school again. I trust those lessons will all be recited perfectly, & that you will be very careful to improve in writing. I think you will write by & by much better than Pa can, & almost as well as Ma did.

Last week on Tuesday, it was a very pleasant day & I got a horse & buggy of Mr. Frink, & took a fine ride; only I was all alone; I wanted to have you & Aunt or Cousin Martha to enjoy it with me. I went first to Hadley-Mills, then across the river in the Horse-boat to Dr. Humphrey's at Hatfield; Mrs. Humphrey inquired very affectionately about you & Helen & Aunt Vinal; after dinner there I rode down to Northmampton, & came across the Bridge, & stopped at Deacon Dickinson's to tea,; after tea I rode home; every thing looked green & flourishing; except in some places the frost a night or two before had cut down the corn, & turned the leaves of the walnut trees black.

It has been very warm here for four days; I should be very glad to enjoy a good salt-water-bath; but I get a fresh-water one in the morning, & I am thankful for that. I hope you do not neglect to wash your body carefully in cold water, & afterwards wipe very dry.

This morning what do you "guess" awoke me, about four o'clock? It was a tapping on the blind of the bedroom window where Emily Joy sleeps. And who was there tapping away so? Surely, it was Jane Hitchcock, who had sallied out thus early for a walk, & stopped to take Emily for company. I suppose they went off together, for after they had talked awhile together, all was silent. Now do you think a little girl would go & carry on a conversation through a window with another in bed?

The cinnamon roses begin to blossom, & the [seringa] bushes are in full bloom & fragrance. We had some delicious straw-berries last night, from Mr. Nelson's garden. Mr. Thurston's garden looks now very beautiful; & I think Mrs. Osgood will miss it very much now she lives in Boston. Our garden is not very brilliant this summer; but there will be currants & raspberries in considerable number.

Do you think that when Aunt Vinal goes to Falmouth, you can go out & help Aunt Maria take care of Grandpa Fiske at Weston? I want to have you. You can sew some, & play some, & study some,& I think the blueberries may be ripe, & there will be bread & milk enough besides.

Now, I must close my letter. Give my love to Grandpa Vinal, as soon as you see him; tell him I should like to hear from him very much indeed & wish he would write. Give my love also to Uncle & Aunt & all the family & Uncle Tufts's & Scholfields & all.

Your affectionate father

N.W. Fiske

Addressed: Miss Ann S. Fiske, Care of Capt. Sewall Fiske, Weston, Capt. Hewes will confer a favor by forwarding this, Postmarked Amherst, MS, Jul 8

Amherst July 8. 1845.
My Dear Ann,

Now I suppose you are at Weston, as Aunt Maria in her letter received yesterday says she expected you last week. I thank you for your good letter written the 17th of June; but am sorry that your eyes are sore. You must resort again to the remedy which Grandpa Vinal prescribes; that is, putting them into cold water.

And what are you doing at Weston? Perhaps you would like o have Pa's advice. Will you follow it? First then, you must do nothing to make Aunt Maria any trouble, & do all you can to help her. Next, you must not ask Cousin Abby to play with you, when her mother wishes to have her employed otherwise, & whenever Abby is at work you must not interrupt her or in any way hinder her.

You will want to study something every day, & to sew or knit a little every day. I know Aunt Maria will be willing to help you in fixing your work, & seeing that you do it rightly & neatly. She will also hear you recite a short lesson; in Definitions, or Geography, or History. On Saturday you will get the Sabbath School lesson to recite on Sabbath-day in the Class where the Superintendent shall place you.

When you go out of the house, you will always wear & keep on your bonnet, & you will not go away from the house without asking Aunt Maria.

I suppose the blueberries will be ripe soon. You will be glad to give some to Grandpa Fiske when you can pick them, & no doubt Aunt Maria will have some milk for you when you wish to eat them at the proper meal-times.

If poor William is still sick & confined up in the lonely house perhaps you will wish to carry to him any thing for his comfort that Aunt Maria or Abby's mother may want to send to him. Nothing was so delightful apparently to your dear mother as to carry to the sick something that might contribute to their happiness.

Just as soon as you get this I want you to begin an answer to it, & finish your letter in two or three days & Cousin Edward will contrive some way to get it to the Post Office.

I must stop now, because I am going over to Hatfield to see Mrs. Humphrey, & I hope to find there Mr. John Humphrey & his lady.

Tell Aunt Maria I was rejoiced to get her letter; I had begun to feel very anxious; show her this letter & ask her to accept it in lieu of one to her this time.

Give my love to Grandpa Uncle Sewall & all. Tell Uncle Sewall I feel very sorry for his misfortune in getting his thumb so badly hurt.

Your affectionate Father

N.W. Fiske

P.S. I trust you continue strictly your daily reading in the Bible, & that you do not forget to pray to God. Your mother always loved to read the Bible, & loved to pray; & she is now happy in heaven.

I want to have you keep all Pa's letters.

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