Colorado College Tutt Library

Helen Hunt Jackson 1-1-16 transcription

Ms 0020, Box 1, Folder 16, Letters from Nathan Fiske (HHJ's father) to the Vinal and Hooker Families, 1829, 1830, 1832, 1846-1847
Transcribed by Gloria Helmuth, June 1996

Addressed: Mrs. Martha Hooker, Care of Rev. H. Hooker, Lanesboro
Return Address: Amherst MS, Oct. 7

[Monday] Amherst Oct. 5. 1829

My Dear Mrs. Hooker,

Mrs. F. wishes me to write a line to you, as we do not allow her to use her pen, on account of weakness of eyes. Your letter arrived this morning, but did not find us rejoicing in hopes, as you supposed, and dreaming about the future character & condition of our little "David." Oh! no. On Sabbath last we committed his emaciated body to the grave, dust to dust, as it was. After a distressing sickness of more than a week of the bowel-complaint, during which time we scarcely expected his life from day to day, he expired in my arms on Friday night about 12 o'clock.

On the Saturday preceding, Dr. Humphrey baptized him in Mrs. F's room, by the name of David Vinal. Mr. V. was present, but was obliged to leave the morning before the child's death. No relatives but myself & Maria were here to follow him to his short & narrow house. Poor little sufferer, his course was full of pain, tho' brief. He is now where the God of holy love chooses he should be, & there we also, trying as it has been to part with him, choose to have him. God will take care of what his children sincerely commit to him, better than they can themselves. Pray for us, that this affliction may work for our good, & produce in us the bearable fruit of righteousness.

Mrs. F. is gradually, but I think really & essentially regaining her health & strength, which has been much retarded by the sickness of the babe.

We all wish to remember & be remembered by you & your dear husband affectionately.

Very truly yours
N.W. Fiske

Addressed: Mrs. Martha Vinal, To Care of Otis Vinal, Esqr, Boston
Return address: Amherst MS, Oct 15

[1830] Amherst. Friday Morning. Oct 15th.

My Dear Mrs. Vinal,

You will perhaps be agreeably surprized to learn that Mrs. F. has a little daughter, whose voice was heard first last evening about half past eleven. We came very near being as much alone as when our poor David was born, Mrs. Chickering having passed the afternoon at Dr. Humphrey's & I being obliged to preach in the evening at College. But we were more fortunate. Dr. Cutler, (whom Mrs. F. chose in preference to Dr. G.) & Mrs. Hitchcock were at hand in good season. Everything now appears flattering, but we have been taught by severe experience to rejoice with trembling.

Please to let D's Father know our mercies as soon as you can, & say to him that the reason I write to you instead of to him is the apprehension that he may be out of Boston, or might not get the information as soon, not expecting a letter.

Our love to all the family & all friends.

Yours affectionately

N.W. Fiske

Addressed: David Vinal, Esq, Boston, Postmarked Amherst, [date illegible]

[Friday] Amherst Feb. 17, 1832

My Dear Sir,

The Box of oranges & lemons arrived safely this morning, & was thankfully received by Deborah. She continues free from unfavorable symptoms, so far as we can judge, & I think is slowly gaining, & my hope is that ultimately her health will be better than before the sickness. The attack was finally very violent, & considering that the disease was evidently for some days secretly at work in the system, & was unhappily aided & inflamed by the journey, the relief was remarkable & should awaken our grateful acknowledgements to God. Diseases are his servants & go & come at his bidding. Death is his messenger, & at the divine will calls his friends to their rewards & his enemies to their bitter portion. -- Martha mentions in her letter the painful manner of Capt. Pilbury's death. An event so solemn & awful cannot but create serious reflections especially in the minds of those immediately connected with the family.

We have just been pained with the information that Dr. Cornelius is no more. This loss to the church & to the cause of benevolence is unspeakably great. It will be mourned sincerely throughout the land. It seems mysterious. But God knows what is best for individuals & for the world. And, as he determines the time, place, & circumstances of our death, how safe are those who rightly trust in him through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

We have learnt the fate of our petition to the Legislature. I put it to the [share] of this commonwealth that a majority of its representatives should be swayed by such agreements as I find in the speech of H.H. Fuller, Esqr. -- Such virulence of sectarianism I never saw, & what makes it more odious still, is the impudent assertions in the same breath almost, that he has no sectarian feelings.

Mr. Dickenson's team goes this time with wheels; yet I should have sent the chest of tools had not Mrs. F's sickness made it impossible for me to see to packing it in season. I shall send it by the next trip by the wagons, unless you otherwise direct.

Please to remember us to Mr. & Mrs. Vinal & family, & give Mr. Vinal my thanks for the paper.

Respectfully & affectionately yours,
N.W. Fiske

[Saturday] N. York Oct 3. 1846

My Dear Mrs. Hooker,

I have not words to express my gratitude or rather my obligation to be grateful for your unwearied kindness to my dear child. She will not always be insensible to it, if she is now. I feel truly relieved of a great burden of anxiety -- knowing that she is received in such favorable circumstances in the family of Mrs. Cowles. Mrs. C. in the letter to me mentioned that they would choose to have some discretion whether to keep her in their own family or to put her in the family of some one I don't recollect the name where it might perhaps be better. I trust your conversation satisfied Mrs. C. that it would be a very important thing in my view that Helen should continue in the family of Mrs. C. -- I did not write to you before I left Amherst because I was greatly hurried in getting away, & I thought of nothing important to say that needs to reach you before leaving Newbury-port. It was on every account desirable that I should leave Amherst without delay. While I staid the talking about my case only excited my feelings & did me in that way no good, & then I could not throw off the College cares for every day some question to settle or discuss came up; besides which the thought of breaking away from my house & study & scene of labor in quest of health kept constantly before my mind something that looked more & more forbidding; so that I became fully sensible that the sooner the whole thing should be over the better. It was not until Wednesday night that I knew that Helen could be settled in her new residence without my aid; on the next day at 5 O'clock I left Amherst & by Northampton Springfield Hartford & New Haven reached N. York on Friday morning & breakfasted at the Croton Hotel at 1/4 past seven O'clock. At 10 O'clock I saw Dr. Green, who appears to be a very pleasant & intelligent man, & who on a little examination of my case said he thought he could help me, unless my lungs were actually diseased, & after attending to others present (six or eight patients) he would examine my chest. This he subsequently did, & seemingly with much care, by his ear also, by percussion, & by the stethoscope. He said that he could not discover any proof that the lungs were diseased; he thought the disease had as yet gone no farther than the inflammation & thickening of the membrane lining the bronchial vessels; & felt a greater confidence that his method of treatment would so far effect a cure that a subsequent voyage would prove a complete remedy. I have concluded to submit myself to his care; he says he wants to keep me here about two weeks; he has cut off the extremity of the palate, & commenced sponging my throat; I must leave the issue to Him who doeth all things after his own pleasure & doeth all things well. It is indeed to me a day of darkness & of trial; I know I shall have an interest in the prayers of all my Christian friends.

Probably ere this reaches you, the large [end of one page, rest of letter is missing]

Addressed: Miss Martha B. Vinal, No 15, Washington St., Charlestown. If Mr. Dean will take charge of this he will much oblige his friend. N.W.F.

[Wednesday] New York. Oct. 28. 1846.

My Dear Martha,

I arrived safely among the people of Gotham, yesterday morning about six O'clock, & got snugly moor'd at the Croton Hotel kept by J.L. Moore, a grand house, thoroughgoing Temperance; send all your friends who come to New York to this house. On opening my trunk, I found Helen's handkerchief which ought not to have been put in it, & being put in it ought not to have been forgotten by her. Having a good opportunity I send it to Mr. Christopher C. Dean, who will doubtless safely hand over to you; you can send it to her whenever an opportunity may occur.

I have at last reluctantly concluded to give up my design of sailing with Mr. Smith, & concluded to spend the winter in Florida, at St. Augustine or Jacksonville. I hope to sail some day next week. But I am anxious to hear from home, fearing that sister Maria will be sick. Do try to hear from them & let me know how they are as soon as you can. I hope to hear also that Uncle Vinal is better than when I left.

Helen I trust left yesterday for Ipswich; I was sorry to be obliged to hurry away as I did, without seeing to her luggage etc; but I hope she did not make you a great deal of trouble. I did not think as much about it, as I ought to have done; my thoughts were much distracted. Indeed my whole visit at the east was one constant whirl, so much for not being in possession of a fixed purpose; I have been in a state of balancing, questioning, deciding & then doubting for three weeks; had I only known what I meant to do; especially had I known that I should only go to Florida, I should have saved much trouble & some expense & perhaps the reproach of being changeable in mind. But I hope my decision is now made as the Lord will approve, & that He will smile upon the measure. Such I trust will be the prayer of my dear friends at Charlestown & elsewhere.

Very affectionately yours
N.W. Fiske

My Dear Ann,

You must write to Pa very soon; not waiting for me. I hope however ere long to find time to send you a letter. Give my love to Uncle & Aunt Vinal & to Grandpa when you see him; [till] I wanted to see him very much.

Your affectionate father N.W. Fiske

Addressed: Otis Vinal, Esqr, Charlestown, Mass. U.S.A., By Rev. Mr. Calhoun, from Beirut, Syria.

[Wednesday] Beirut, Feb. 10. 1847

My Dear Aunt & Uncle,

This will introduce to you the Rev. Mr. Calhoun, who has for some years been a Missionary in Syria, connected with the station here. His name will of course be familiar to you, from your reading in the Missionary Herald. He is on a visit to America, expecting to return to Syria to his chosen field of labor here. I think his mother & his father were members of Park Street Church. He has been exceedingly kind to me since I arrived at Beirut, & his call on you is at my request. I know you will rejoice to see him, & be happy in doing any thing in your power to render his visit pleasant & to aid him in any object of his wishes.

I say nothing of myself as I trust you will, before the arrival of Mr. Calhoun, have received something from me of a later date.

Very respectfully & gratefully yours,
N.W. Fiske

P.S. Mr. Calhoun has taken with him a box containing some stones & other things, which he probably has left at the Missionary Rooms, Boston. I would request you to send for it, & open it. You will find in it a note addressed to Cousin Martha respecting the things contained in it. It is more heavy than valuable.

Addressed: Mrs. Martha Vinal

[Friday] Jerusalem May 21. 1847.

My Dearly Beloved Aunt,

How shall I address you? These perishing bones are to mingle with the dust of Jerusalem. I had not thought so; but God's thoughts are better than our thoughts & his ways better than ours. It is all right. I am in great quietness, in the care of a pious physician in his own house & Mr. Whiting with.

Oh I trust you have been cured to affliction at home. God give you grace as you may need.

The orphan girls I commit to God, "as the fatherless one, he will take up. I trust their grandfather will cheerfully assume the trust, that falls when in the providence of God. But, alas, what lessons on the vanity of all earthly things.

Is indeed the glorious home of the Saints so near me! Blessed Jesus, prepare to receive me.

I can only add Dear Aunt Farewell. For your thousand favors, grateful in death.


Farewell, Martha, I can not write you. Keep near the Saviour, will prepare you for such an hour.

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