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Helen Hunt Jackson 2-1-5 transcription

Helen Hunt Jackson Papers, Part 2, Ms 0156, Box 1, Folder 5, letters from HHJ to her niece Helen Banfield, 1871-76.
Transcribed by Gloria Helmuth, December 2002.

on black-bordered stationery
On one fold of the paper: Helen

July 4, 1871

Dear Helen,

Thank you very much for the pretty pincushion cover. It is on the cushion in my bedroom here, and matches the tidy which is on a rocking chair in my sitting room. Perhaps if you came to Amherst this summer, Mamma will let you come up and stay a week with me here. I should love to have you.

I am glad you liked the little vase. I thought it was a comical little thing, and would make you laugh.

Give my love to all the children, and remember that your auntie loves you all dearly. -

Aunt Helen.

on black-bordered stationery

Feb. 15,

Dear Little Helen - (or Big Helen! -

The box came safely though it was delayed on the way. Please give my love to Mama, and thank her for the pretty Japanese things. I admire them very much, and they look very pretty in my room.

Somebody else sent today, a beautiful Japanese cup with a cover to it. I have not the least idea where it came from, but I suppose I shall have a letter to tell me.

Your holders are as pretty as they can be; one hangs on the brass holder for my shovel and tongs in the sitting room; and the other, hangs below the mantel piece in the bedroom, where I have a coal fire. I use them both a great many times every day; and you could not possibly have given me anything which would have reminded me of you so often.

I am grieved to think of papa's being so sick. I know what a comfort you must have been to him. Give my love to him and tell him Aunt Helen wishes very much she could so something for him besides sending him newspapers and book's.

Goodbye dear. Love to all,

Your affectionate


Col. Springs
May. 18. 1873

Dear Helen,

I am delighted to get your picture, and to know that I am the aunt of so good looking a girl. I hope you won't be vain, but I must say that your picture is beautiful. Perhaps it flatters you! -

I should have like to see the play very much. I am glad to know that the Vassar College girls do something besides study!

I had a letter from your mother in Wolfboro yesterday. I am so sorry that you are obliged to go back there to live. I hope in a few years your father may be so much better that he can go into active life again.

I expect to go East early in June, and I shall see you all, before the summer is over.

I send you a picture I had taken in Boston last fall. The artist grew tired of trying to get me with my mouth shut, so at last he told me to let it stay open, and see if it would not look more natural. And this is the result! My friends here think it quite good but to me, the picture looks like the portrait of a simpering idiot!

Give my love to Annie. I hope she will send me her picture too.

Yours always lovingly,


Col. Springs -
May 14.

Dear Helen,

There are always two sides to every story. First Dr. Channing was engaged, or the same thing as engaged to the lady who is now his wife; - the other wife, determined to marry him herself. - came between them, deceived him, & separated them! When he found this out, he naturally felt & I think rightfully felt, that his obligation to his wife was at an end.

The means he took to obtain a divorce, (i e: the years residence in a state where divorce laws are so framed as to provide, for such cases as his) were the only means at his disposal; - I have never blamed him in the least - and I do not think any one who knows all the circumstances could. He is an own cousin of Col. Higginson's wife, and Col. Higginson always stays at their house when he goes to Providence. He does not think Dr. Channing did wrong.

I hope you will never have any reason to think very deeply on this matter of divorce; it is a very perplexing and painful subject; but if you ever do, come to think the matter over earnestly, especially in the light of some individual case. - You will feel that the law ought to provide some way, by which men and women who have made a mistake in marrying, and are perfectly wretched together, and cannot therefore build up a happy home, or be really good parents to their children - can be set free from each other without feeling that they have committed a sin, and without being disgraced.

I saw the little slip in the Catalogue & inferred that it was sent to somebody else; as it was [ ] in your book so silent!

We are now having the most beautiful summer weather - & the flowers are in bloom even in the streets; three or four beautiful wild flowers. White, purple, and yellow, that grow like dandelions and clover in the east, all along the edges of the sidewalks.

I have had a great deal of pleasure in making the acquaintance of Dr. Avery, in Denver, who used to be your physician. She & Miss Sewell are coming to spend two or three days with me next week. - I do not often like any one so much as I like Dr. Avery. - She has a very pleasant little house in Denver - and has fitted it up charmingly.

Don't write across! It was endurable in the old days of high postage, but now when another half ounce of paper costs only 8 cts. it is not worth while! - If you do it again I shall do it in a letter to you, and that would quite cure you, for you couldn't read a word of my writing if it were crossed. -

You write a really beautiful hand. It is just the sort of hand I especially like. It is very like the average English hand. My writing gets worse every year - if not every day. I write so much, and I dislike the manual labor of it more and more. - Love to Annie,

Your affectionate


Col. Springs
November [ ],

Dear Helen,

I was very glad indeed to hear from you; and I think if you wrote to me every two or three weeks I should always answer your letters very soon. Still I would not dare to promise, for I believe I grow a worse correspondent every year. I write so much that the pen is disagreeable to me; and I often have letters from dear friends unanswered for months simply because I do so dislike the mechanical parts of writing.

We have had a most wonderful winter, bright and sunny, like autumn in the White Mountains. I think I have driven more than four fifths of the days in an open carriage. - We have been keeping house in a little furnished house, and I have enjoyed it very much. I have not ever experienced housekeeping like your mother but I never had two good servants, and we have been exceedingly comfortable. - I expect to come East in June, & make Princeton my head quarters for three months as I did last year. Mr. Jackson will come in July and stay with me. - if you are in Wolfboro, we will come up for a day or two & see you all. I want you to know your new uncle. You will love him very much for his own sake, as well as for mine. -

I am very sorry to hear that Miss Dawe had been ill, and above all, that it was with her old enemy the Erysipelas. I hope it did not seat itself, in her poor unfortunate nose!

Give my regards to her, please - and my love to Annie - and much to yourself. Goodbye

Always your loving


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