letters from dickinson to abiah root

25 September 1845

Dearest Abiah,

As I just glanced at the clock and saw how smoothly the little hands glide over the surface, I could scarcely believe that those self-same little hands had eloped with so many precious moments since I received your affectionate letter, and it was still harder for me to believe that I, who am always boasting of being so faithful a correspondent, should have been guilty of negligence in so long delaying to answer it.... I am very glad to hear that you are better than you have been, and I hope in future disease will not be as neighborly as he has been heretofore to either of us. I long to see you, dear Abiah, and speak with you face to face; but so long as a bodily interview is denied us, we must make letters answer, though it is hard for friends to be separated. I really believe you would have been frightened to have heard me scold when Sabra informed me that you had decided not to visit Amherst this fall. But as I could find no one upon whom to vent my spleen for your decision, I thought it best to be calm, and therefore have at length resigned myself to my cruel fate, though with not a very good grace. I think you do well to inquire whether anything has been heard from H. I really don't know what has become of her, unless procrastination has carried her off. I think that must be the case. I think you have given quite a novel description of the wedding. Are you quite sure Mr. F., the minister, told them to stand up and he would tie them in a great bow-knot? But I beg pardon for speaking so lightly of so solemn a ceremony. You asked me in your letter if I did not think you partial in your admiration of Miss Helen H[umphrey], ditto Mrs. P[almer]. I answer, Not in the least. She was universally beloved in Amherst. She made us quite a visit in June, and we regretted more than ever that she was going where we could not see her as often as we had been accustomed. She seemed very happy in her prospects, and seemed to think distance nothing in comparison to a home with the one of her choice. I hope she will be happy, and of course she will. I wished much to see her once more, but was denied the privilege. Abby Wood, our particular friend, and the only particular friend among the girls, is well and sends much love to you.... You asked me if I was attending school now. I am not. Mother thinks me not able to confine myself to school this term. She had rather I would exercise, and I can assure you I get plenty of that article by staying at home. I am going to learn to make bread to-morrow. So you may imagine me with my sleeves rolled up, mixing flour, milk, salaratus, etc., with a deal of grace. I advise you if you don't know how to make the staff of life to learn with dispatch. I think I could keep house very comfortably if I knew how to cook. But as long as I don't, my knowledge of housekeeping is about of as much use as faith without works, which you know we are told is dead. Excuse my quoting from the Scripture, dear Abiah, for it was so handy in this case I couldn't get along very well without it. Since I wrote you last, the summer is past and gone, and autumn with the sere and yellow leaf is already upon us. I never knew the time to pass so swiftly, it seems to me, as the past summer. I really think some one must have oiled his chariot wheels, for I don't recollect of hearing him pass, and I am sure I should if something had not prevented his chariot wheels from creaking as usual. But I will not expatiate upon him any longer, for I know it is wicked to trifle with so reverend a personage, and I fear he will make me a call in person to inquire as to the remarks which I have made concerning him. Therefore I will let him alone for the present.... How are you getting on with your music? Well, I hope and trust. I am taking lessons and am getting along very well, and now I have a piano, I am very happy. I feel much honored at having even a doll named for me. I believe I shall have to give it a silver cup, as that is the custom among old ladies when a child is named for them.... Have you any flowers now? I have had a beautiful flower-garden this summer; but they are nearly gone now. It is very cold to-night, and I mean to pick the prettiest ones before I go to bed, and cheat Jack Frost of so many of the treasures he calculates to rob to-night. Won't it be a capital idea to put him at defiance, for once at least, if no more? I would love to send you a bouquet if I had an opportunity, and you could press it and write under it, The last flowers of summer. Wouldn't it be poetical, and you know that is what young ladies aim to be now-a-days.... I expect I have altered a good deal since I have seen you, dear Abiah. I have grown tall a good deal, and wear my golden tresses done up in a net-cap. Modesty, you know, forbids me to mention whether my personal appearance has altered. I leave that for others to judge. But my [word omitted] has not changed, nor will it in time to come. I shall always remain the same old sixpence.... I can say no more now, as it is after ten, and everybody has gone to bed but me. Don't forget your affectionate friend,

Emily E.D.

I was very unwell at the time I received your letter & unable to busy myself about anything. Consequently I was down-spirited and I give you all the credit of restoring me to health. At any rate, you may have your share. It really seemed to give me new life to receive your letter, for when I am rather low-spirited nothing seems to cheer me so much as a letter from a friend. At every word I read I seemed to feel new strength & have now regained my usual health and spirits.

Abby Wood and myself have each received a paper & note from her [Harriet Merrill] since she left. Mrs. Merrill has received 1 paper from her and that is all. I have written her two letters, sent her two papers & a package containing a very handsome book mark since I have received anything from her. [ ] really cant help thinking she has forgotten the many happy hours we spent together, and though I try to banish the idea from my mind, for it is painful to me, I am afraid she has forgotten us, but I hope not.

I think she [Helen Humphrey] must be missed much in Southwick, & her mother and sisters must be very lonely without her. Did you visit the friend whom you spoke of in your letter, the following week, & how did you find her. I hope better. I thought of you as perfectly happy all that week. You know you gave me permission in your letter to imagine you in a state of felicity.

*Abby Wood our particular friend, and the only particular friend among the girls, is well and sends much love to you. She is going to write you soon. She keeps me company at home this term, her aunt thinks it not best for her to attend school so steadily as she has done, and so we are both laid by for a while. Abby had a letter from Sarah [Tracy?] two or three weeks since. She was well and happy and sent much love to all her friends. I think if there is one in the world, who deserves to be happy, that one is Sarah. She is a noble girl, and I love her much. I shall write her soon, and tell her what has been going on here since she left. I received a letter from S Norton a few days ago who now lives in Worcester, formerly lived in Amherst. She lost her mother last spring & I have had two letters from her since. She seems to feel very lonely, now her mother is dead, and thinks were she only alive it would be all she would ask. I pity her much, for she loved her mother devotedly and she feels her loss very keenly. [ ] I had nearly forgotten to mention that Sabra Howe has been spending most of her time in Baltimore, with an uncle and aunt for the last year. She came home 3 or 4 weeks ago to make a visit, & is going to return week after next for a year if nothing happens to prevent. I should think her mother would wish her at home, some of the time with her. But she seems to think it best for Sabra to acquire her education away from home.

...much love to you, and wants much to hear from you.

Do write me soon, for as I cannot see you, I must hear from you often, very often. I suppose you will return to Springfield to school before long. I really wish I was going too. But as our dear teacher Miss Adams used to say, if wishes were horses, then beggars might ride. So I will wish no longer, but be content to stay where I am placed. Sabra, Viny, Abby, and all the Girls send much love to you.

thomas johnson's note on letter 8 | index to dickinson/root letters

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