letters from dickinson to abiah root

Thomas Johnson's Note on Letter 11

MANUSCRIPT: HCL (ARS 3). Ink. Unpublished. Dated: Amherst. March. 28. 1846. Addressed on the fold: Miss Abiah P. Root/Feeding Hills./Mass./Per. Sabra. [Palmer].

ED's awakening to the reality of death came when Sophia Holland, daughter of Seneca Holland of Amherst, died on 29 April 1844. She was so deeply affected that her parents sent her to visit Mrs. Dickinson's sister Lavinia (Mrs. Loring Norcross) in Boston. (Emily's first visit to this loved aunt had occurred before Mrs. Norcross's marriage, and shortly after the birth of Emily's sister Lavinia, when both mother and baby were ill. At two and a half Emily was described in a letter by her aunt as "A very good child"; and the writer noted: "She has learned to play on the piano--she calls it the moosic.") On her way home from Boston she stopped at Worcester to visit her uncle William Dickinson. She later recalled that the day after her return to Amherst she first met Abiah. (See letter no. 91.) The circle of five girls to whom she refers include, beside herself, Abiah Root, Abby Wood, Harriet Merrill, and Sarah Tracy.

The scripture reference in the third paragraph combines Matthew 13.15 with Ecclesiastes 12.6: "For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed..." "Or ever the silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowl be broken..." The paragraph concludes by quoting line 84 (Night I) of Young's Night Thoughts.

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Commentary copyright 1998 by Martha Nell Smith, all rights reserved
Maintained by Lara Vetter <lvetter@uncc.edu>
Last updated on February 25, 2008