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Helen Hunt Jackson 2-1-11 transcription

Helen Hunt Jackson Papers, Part 2, Ms 0156, Box 1, Folder 11, 6 letters from HHJ's sister Ann S. Fiske to her guardian Lucius A. Palmer, 1852-1853.
Transcribed by Gloria Helmuth, October 2006.


Postmarked: Newport
Addressed: Julius A. Palmer, Esq.,
Care of Palmer & Bachelders.
Boston, Mass.

Postmarked: Newport
Addressed: Julius A. Palmer, Esq.
No. 91 Washington Street
Boston, Mass.

No postmark
Addressed: Mr. Julius A. Palmer.

Mon. P.M. May 17th /52.

My dear Mr. Palmer,

You would not think that I have been waiting all this time to receive a letter from you, before writing myself, for it is not at all so, but (the old excuse) I have been more driven than ever, now you will laugh at the very idea, but I just wish you would take my place for one week, & then you would realize that although the duties of a school girl are not near as important as those of a business gentleman, yet they occupy her time as much.

A few days after you went away our quarter at school closed, & with the commencement of a new term we had some new scholars, & entered upon three new studies, Astronomy, Logic & Geometry, these all being quite difficult. I had to study at home more than usual, of which I presume you are very glad & I am too, for I am very much interested in them, especially in the Logic. I can't say I like Geometry very well it is too hard & there is not enough pleasure in it to suit me. We have had quite an [a]greeable time here to what I expected, for although we have missed you very much, & I have been envying you all the while, yet we have not forgotten our duties to each other, but have been as cheerful, although rather a changing family, for as you know Mr. Peabody & Mrs. Palmer, Julius' cousin & Franklin all went to Boxford for a week, & then Mrs. P. returned (leaving Mr. Peabody, Julius & Hannah there; with Emmin & Freddie, & now Hattie & Emmin are at Weymouth, & Mr. & Mrs. Mather are here; so we keep about the same number all the time but different ones. With one or two exceptions I have been at home all the time, I watched with Aunt Vinal one night, & spent one day at Medford. I have just been interrupted here by a call from Miss Ann Brown.

You don't know, dear Mr. Palmer what a comfort it is to me to use my eyes again; the night I watched with Aunt Vinal I took a modest cold & it settled in one eye, so Dr. Grigg said, & it is one week last Saturday since I have used them at all, it was such a disappointment to me to leave school just now & it was so tedious to do nothing all day long but sleep & walk, that I could hardly feel reconciled, but now I am almost glad, for I appreciate them all the more.

Yesterday Mr. Fisk preached in the morning, a very earnest sermon upon Prayers & a Mr. Bothe, an agent, preached in the afternoon; your class was not quite as numerous as usual yesterday, but Mr. Cushing has brought two little girls into my class, so that now they number five, & you cannot teaze me any more about my labors for "only one." Friday evening I heard Horsuth deliver a lecture upon the "present condition of Europe" it was highly interesting; & Sat. P.M: I went with Mr. & Mrs Mather & was introduced to him.

I hope this journey will do you all a great deal of good, I think you must enjoy it exceedingly, but I hope you will not become contented to stay away much longer, for we long to have you come home. I am going over to see Aunt Vinal now so I must say, Good-bye,

yr. aff. ward Annie

N. York Sat. A.M. Nov. 6th/52.

My dear Mr. Palmer,

I was very glad Wednesday to get your note, it was handed to me with one from John [_ hi__ty] of the school. I arrived here safely about five o'clock, Monday, Prof. Conrad was very polite, and I should think a very highly educated man: I was quite interested in his conversation, had it not been for him I think I should have had rather a forlorn time for it rained fast all day and the Cars were very cold. When we reached thirty-sixth street, he got a carriage for me, the rain was coming down in perfect torrents and of course it was very muddy, so that the driver took me right in his arms and lifted me from the Cars to the carriage. I had just seated myself when Prof Conrad standing on the platform of the Cars said, "please tell me your name again. I could not understand it before and I want to remember it," so I shouted back, "Fiske sir"; this was quite an amusing occurrence to see, but not at all to hear about.

You would be proud I think to look in upon us this morning, we have the table drawn out into the center of the room, and are all writing; we an really look like the reporters up at the State House. It is dark rainy day today and I am afraid I cannot go down to Miss Jones's for that bill, but still I will write to you today as I can not write again until next Saturday, and will send it as soon as I can get the bill. I have now got fairly started again in my studies, made up for lost time too I hope, and I now feel quite happy, but last Tuesday morning I was so homesick I did not know what to do, but I was soon so much hurried that I had no time to think about that. Oh! dear, all the girls have just got letters, and I have none, I have expected a letter from Helen every day this week, I do not see what it means; from Sue's letter I learned that Mr. Hunt was so sick they passed the Sabbath in Albany, and I want very much to hear how he is, have you heard anything more?

It is just seven weeks and three days since I came here, I do not think I ever passed seven weeks more happily and more profitably than these, perhaps in some of my Amherst visits I have had more pleasure but not more real happiness I know; there is such a satisfaction here every night in looking back upon a day of study and faithfulness in school that it makes up entirely for being away from home. but my dear Mr. Palmer I shall not feel this satisfaction Christmas week if I stay here, for there will be no school, and all the girls are either going home, or going to visit some friends in the City, or else their parents are coming here to see them, now just put yourself in my place and think how you would feel; now I have three room-mates all very pleasant girls, they will be away then, and how should I enjoy myself all alone in this great room with no studies to prepare, no friends to come and see me? I think it would be the most dreary birth day I have had. Let me write you what John said in his letter (and he did not know I had any thought of staying here, but thought of or was going to Washington) "I shall, listen to no other plan but your coming home Christmas, when I shall see you in Boston." Now Mr. Palmer, if you will only give your consent to my coming to Boston for that week I shall be very happy and I will try, and do every thing you ask me to: I know I shall study better now for looking forward to it, and I really think I shall study better afterwards, for it will suit me, and I shall come back all freshened by relaxation for six months of school, for we have no other vacation. I am sorry I have taken up so much room with this Christmas question, for I am afraid you will not like it; but if the proverb is true, about this "Abundance of the heart," I am not to blame. I am perfectly well, eyes and all, how strange it is that the season has so much influence upon them. I was very sorry not to see Mrs. Palmer and Freddie, please give my love to them, and all the rest of your happy family, and do write as soon as you can to your aff. ward.


P.S. Tuesday P.M. I went to Miss Jones's yesterday and payed her bill but she could not give me the receipt as Helen has the bill with her; the bill for what she has already done, is one hundred twenty one dollars and some cents, and for what she is now doing will be about twenty dollars more, I payed the one hundred and twenty one, and will keep the other twenty dollars for Helen to pay it with when she comes. I heard from her yesterday, she was very well and Mr. Hunt too, they will be here the middle of next week.
In haste Annie.

N.Y. Dec. 11 1852.

My dear Mr. Palmer,

As only one short week has passed since our pleasant ride to Greenwood, it may surprise you not a little to receive a communication from your ward Annie, who has never shown herself either very partial to, or very well skilled in the epistolary art. Lest the want of incident in my letter should lead you to exclaim why did she not wait until she had something to say, I will tell you at once the why, and wherefore of my writing now. Mr. Abbott wishes all the young ladies to write a letter this week to their parents or guardians expressly for him to see; his motive I suppose is to incite us to great carefulness, both in our hand writing and mode of expression; a very worthy motive I think, for it. seems to me there is no one duty I perform more negligently than this: from some strange reason, I always feel in the greatest hate when writing, and dash on, with out the least thought - either of expression or grace of letters.

In the routine of school the week has glided away very happily and quickly. Last Sabbath it being very stormy, several of us attended Dr. Cheever's Church, he preached himself in the morning from this text "Hath the rain a father, and who hath begotten the dew," his sermon was to counteract the atheistic tendency of the age, there was one thought that seemed quite striking, or at least it was rather a singular expression, it was "That as a watch maker in Geneva would make a watch, put it in motion, send it to America and have nothing more to do with it, so many persons regarded God as a great Manufacturer who having made the world, and established its laws had now nothing more to do with it." I wondered he did not say who had now retired from business.

Wednesday afternoon we attended a fair for the benefit of the Shirtmakers and seamstresses of the city; we were disappointed in finding most of the articles were taken on commission from the stores, but we have heard they were doing very well, I really hope they will succeed in aiding them: Mr. Abbott a few mornings since read an account of their prices, they were almost nothing, and it seems their sufferings must be nearly as great as those of the Factory children in England. It is a very stormy day, and for the last two or three weeks we have had unpleasant Saturdays, this disappoints some of the young ladies, as it is our recreation day, but I am always glad for myself, for the day seemed so much longer and I can always write more letters. Every day but one this week I have risen at quarter or half past five, this is rather earlier than I used to rise last Winter, is it not? One fortnight from today I shall be eighteen! I am almost discouraged when I see how little I have progressed since last Christmas, I do hope the next year will not find me in the same mood, regretting lost time, lost lessons, and many other things: I remember last year, I had these same feelings, and comforted myself, by making resolutions and now, I have in addition broken resolutions to regret, I believe this year I shall make no resolutions but try to follow your example, and live each day, instead of three or four weeks in the future. It is nearly our dinner hour, and I must hand this letter to Mr. Abbott then. With love to all at home, I am as ever my dear Guardian,

Your aff. ward Annie

Monday morning, you must not consider this a postscript, Mr. Palmer, for I could not of course write about business matters in the part for Mr. Abbott to see, and now it is very necessary for me to have a little business chat with you. I have been quite a victim lately to the inroads of some voracious little animals we call mice, in the first place they eat off the toes to my slippers, and to crown the matter a few days since, they ate up four pair of nice kid gloves, leaving only two tattered remains of odd ones: this loss, as the gloves were seventy five cents a pair, and the slippers one dollar and a quarter, is to a person of my reduced income a great misfortune. Now my dear Mr. Palmer if you think best I wish you would send me the amount that I have lost, together with five dollars of my January allowance, I shall be very sorry to take this in advance, especially as it is the New Year, but I do not see how I can avoid it. I bought my muff and have taken a great deal of comfort with it, it is not the one we saw at Genins, it suited me better and was the same price. If you will be kind enough to send the money as soon as you can, after receiving this I shall be very glad, please tell Hattie and Lue, I am expecting a letter from them every day once more my dear Mr. Palmer, Good bye.

Yours with much love


This is not the letter I showed to Mr. Abbott, that looked much nicer, but alas it fell into some ink, and I had to copy it all this morning, and now I have made some queer mistake with the sheets of paper, I have not time to copy it again so I must trust to your kindness to overlook it.


Tuesday A.M. Dec 28th.

My dear Mr. Palmer,

I have but one minute to write but I cannot let it pass without thanking you for your decision about my watch, and telling you how much I am pleased with it, it suits me in every respect & I enjoy it very much. Now I want to make another request of you. My three room mates have made me Christmas presents, and I want to give each of them a copy of father's memoir, as they have expressed the wish to read it, and will you not be kind enough to send me three copies, so that I can get them Friday? This is of course if you think best. I was very much pleased with those lines, and the letter you sent with the watch, I shall not consider this an answer not by any means, but shall write again as soon as possible. I am very well, and enjoying myself very much. Please give my love to all and think of me always my dear Mr. Palmer as your aff. and grateful ward.


Saturday P.M. Feb. 5/53.

My dear Mr. Palmer,

I had resolved not to write again to you unless it were a good long letter, but my resolve runs in a fair way to be broken now, as I have commenced upon a sheet of note paper.

But my dear Mr. Palmer it seems an age since any intelligence from the City of Nations has reached me in this Babylon of a place. What has happened to No. 3? I hope the river has not buried her in its salty water, or Beacon hill crushed her neath the weight of fashion and wealth. I trust the inmates of No. 3. are in their wanted health and spirits, that Mr. Peabody takes as much comfort in his youthful pupil, and that Master Fred circulates with as much facility between the attic and "Pa Peabody's rooms". Perhaps it may gratify the inmates of said place to hear a word as to the condition of the Spring bride.

With this presumptuous assumption I will proceed to tell you, that Old Spingler looks out upon the Park with her usual contented brown face wearing perhaps a little of the expression of the Pharisee, although there is no Publican near. That the occupants of the "Institution" or I should say "members of our Family Circle," are in rather a depressed condition today owing doubtless to the selfish fog, which will not let them see a hand before them, that many are standing by the window endeavoring to dispel the fog by the sunshine of their own bright faces, which will be rather a tedious process I'm thinking, others are busily engaged in sewing, reading or writing as the case may be, trying in ths way to remove the gathering fog or at least mist about the[ir] own hearts. To this latter class, you see your friend belongs, and that you may know her surrounding just transport yourself to a long narrow room hung with grim black boards, there you will see three young ladies of about the medium heights, two are seated at a desk, and one is a 'la [Gard], but all are writing, and there is no sound, but a most mysterious scratchings. What a tale these pens of ours would tell. I wish they could be endowed with the power of speech. Mine would tell a sad story I fear of mishapen letters, misspelt words, and bungling sentences. And it often does tell such stories by actions if not by words. And as I believe in the old maxim, I must believe too that it not only tells these tales, but tells them with a louder voice than if it spoke. And what a story it is telling you, how I really believe you will think your sedate and quiet ward has lost what little sense she had, and will fail in duty bound to recall her from her school, and give a few lessons yourself in Common Sense.

Well, my dear Mr. Palmer I suppose you are expecting some request of some sort, as I fancy I never wrote you yet without troubling you in some way, and we'll to business at once.

The last penny of the last money you sent me is gone, and sorry to say done in debt to the dread amount of two dollars, one was for an entertainment (or at least five shillings, the same thing you know last night, to which Mr. John Abbott took all the young ladies, that of Heller the Magician: and the other is to come from my allowance. You know I have not had all my January's amount yet, I have had but seven dollars, so I have five and a half to come, without that which I now your kindness will prompt you to send for my "incidentals," and "accidentals." My dear Mr. Palmer, I must not write any more, as it is nearly dark, and I have two more letters to write. Please give my love to all, and write to me as soon as possible.

Yours afftly, Annie.

Friday P.M. Feb. 28/53.

My dear Mr. Palmer,

A day or two ago, about half past six in the afternoon, a young lady came to me with the fearful intelligence, that Mr. Gorham Abbott desired my presence in the study. As you may imagine, I fancied some reproof for some misdemeanor, although I can not say any conscience reproached me, but taking as cheerful a view of the case as possible, I descended, and found to my delight all he wished, was to hand me the receipt of my bill, and request me to send it to you, with many apologies for the delay, kind regards, & etc. I don't know but you may think it very negligent in me not to acknowledge the receipt of the ten dollars in Jakes letter, but really Mr. Palmer it is almost impossible for me to find time to write; particularly now as we have commenced two new studies, "Butler's Analogy" and Ancient History," and Monday we commence Hames' Elements of Criticism. I am very much interested in Butler's Analogy, I think I like it better than any English study, I have as yet had. I am writing Friday this week, because tomorrow is our monthly holiday, and I am to pass it at Mr. Nelsons, you know I used to know them in Amherst. Tonight I am invited to a little party at Mr. Masons, and Mrs. Abbott is willing for me to go; two of his daughters are day scholars, and they have invited three of the boarders, Sallie Bolton, (one of my room mates) Susie Van Bergen and I. Last night Mr. and Mrs. John Abbott went with me to call upon Mr. Ward Hunt and his wife, but they were both out, then we took a stroll down to Thompsons, and went in to see the Dusseldorf paintings; so you see this week will have more recreation than usual; Mrs. Abbott says "you have studied hard, and you need your Saturday away from all care," but seems to me it is about as bad to have everything to do today, as it would be to divide the duties between the two days, and stay at home.

This hurry must be my only apology for the appearance of my letter. I do not see why Hattie or Lue do not write to me, they must have so much time, or at least Hattie, for I don't know but Lue has commenced hurrying for the event of next Fall. I am very glad Lue is going to be married, she will make such an excellent housekeeper, and it will be so pleasant to visit her. Tell Jake I would love to answer his letter but have not time now. Oh! I have not told you how unfortunate I have been. I have lost two dollars of that money you sent me, is it not deplorable? And another question I want to ask is, "if Amelia and Basli should be married in April, as they probably will, could not I come on to the wedding? I hope Mr Palmer you will write to me as soon as you have time, and I trust the next time I write to you will not be so hurried. Please give my love to Mrs. Palmer and all, and

believe me your aff. Annie.

Friday P.M. April 22/53.

My dear Mr. Palmer,

You do not know how strange it seems to be writing a letter once more, for it is a fortnight and two days since I have written a single one. I suppose without my telling, you have imagined the reason - my eyes, but it was not they alone, for a wonder. I was quite sick for a week with a sore throat, and then when that was better, I had such a cold in my head, and of course that affected my eyes so much that I could not use them for a few days. Mrs. Abbott sent for Dr. Peters an excellent Homaeopathic physician, and in one day he cured my eyes, telling me that I must not study any more in the evening. Now I am very well, all but a cold in my head, or the remains of one, which are anything but agreeable. It is very stormy today, the rain comes down in perfect torrents; seems to me I never knew such a stormy Spring before; we are all impatient for the leaves to come again upon the trees in the park, it makes it so pleasant here.

Your letter came yesterday enclosing the money, for which I wrote so long ago that I had appropriated some of Helen's to my own use, and now will have to trouble you again with a request to send me some more; this will make up my April allowance and incidentals; and will you please send me one half of my May allowance. I do not see Mr. Palmer how I can pay my dressmakers out of my allowance, they ask so much more here for sewing, and I cannot do it myself. What do you think?

I was very sorry you could not make it in your way to come through New York; I would loved to have seen you, but if you, (and I know you will) approve of my coming on to Amelia's Wedding the first day of June, it will be only six weeks from next Wednesday that I shall see you all.

Sat. A.M. It is now but six O'clock, My dear Mr. Palmer, and I am up writing that I may lengthen if possible my Saturday. You speak in your letter of the kindness of Providence in always giving me such pleasant homes: I do indeed owe the deepest gratitude; "that when father and mother forsake thee, then the Lord will take thee up" has been certainly fulfilled in my case: and among other causes for gratitude, my being sent here to school is not to be lost sight of. I trust it has been the means of improvement in many ways, at best it ought to have been; intellectually, morally, and spiritually. You wanted me to tell you of my progress in the "Divine Life" it is very hard my dear Mr. Palmer to mark ones progress in that life, or at least to tell others of it: for at times it seems as though one was far back, and at others, one catches glimpse as it were of the Heavenly City. My heart is a very strange one in some respects, often it seems to me that I do not care at all for this or that friend, and then in a little while they seem more dear than ever: and so it is with Religion, sometimes my unwilling needs to think of Christ; to read and pray really frightens me, and in a short time I love to so much, and Christ seems so near to me, and the world seems so bright as a place to do good for his sake that my heart really glows within me, and then perhaps some little trial makes me lose some golden opportunity of doing good or the impression wears off by the perfect tide of worldliness, and I am thoughtless again. What I want more than anything is to think more of God during every day, all the day, to feel a consciousness of his presence: now in the morning I always do, and hope I shall through the day, but perhaps not a thought of him till evening when I come to thank him for the mercies and guidance of another day, and then I feel so sorry and think so much of the happiness of the day has been lost. My dear Mr. Palmer, this is a very unworthy answer to your letter, I know; but I will offer no apology for it. Please write to me as soon as possible. I am sorry to have to write in the margins, but my paper is so small. With love to and gratitude you and yours I am your loving Annie.

Mr. Palmer, what should you think of my having my crayon likeness taken by a lady here for Helen?

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