letters from dickinson to abiah root

12 January 1846

Abiah,my dear,

Since I received your precious letter another year has commenced its course, and the old year has gone never to return. How sad it makes one feel to sit down quietly and think of the flight of the old year, and the unceremonious obtrusion of the new year upon our notice! How many things we have omitted to do which might have cheered a human heart, or whispered hope in the ear of the sorrowful, and how many things have we done over which the dark mantle of regret will ever fall! How many good resolutions did I make at the commencement of the year now flown, merely to break them and to feel more than ever convinced of the weakness of my own resolutions! The New Year's day was unusually gloomy to me, I know not why, and perhaps for that reason a host of unpleasant reflections forced themselves upon me which I found not easy to throw off. But I will no longer sentimentalize upon the past, for I cannot recall it. I will, after inquiring for the health of my dear Abiah, relapse into a more lively strain. I can hardly have patience to write, for I have not seen you for so long that I have worlds of things to tell you, and my pen is not swift enough to answer my purpose at all. However, I will try to make it communicate as much information as possible and wait to see your own dear self once more before I relate all my thoughts which have come and gone since I last saw you. I suppose from your letter that you are enjoying yourself finely this winter at Miss Campbell's school. I would give a great deal if I was there with you. I don't go to school this winter except to a recitation in German. Mr. C[oleman] has a very large class, and father thought I might never have another opportunity to study it. It takes about an hour and a half to recite. Then I take music lessons and practise two hours in a day, and besides these two I have a large stand of plants to cultivate. This is the principal round of my occupation this winter.... I have just seen a funeral procession go by of a negro baby, so if my ideas are rather dark you need not marvel.... Old Santa Claus was very polite to me the last Christmas. I hung up my stocking on the bedpost as usual. I had a perfume bag and a bottle of otto of rose to go with it, a sheet of music, a china mug with Forget me not upon it, from S.S.,--who, by the way, is as handsome, entertaining, and as fine a piano player as in former times,--a toilet cushion, a watch case, a fortune-teller, and a amaranthine stock of pin-cushions and needlebooks, which in ingenuity and art would rival the works of Scripture Dorcas. I found abundance of candy in my stocking, which I do not think has had the anticipated effect upon my disposition, in case it was to sweeten it, also two hearts at the bottom of all, which I thought looked rather ominous; but I will not enter into any more details, for they take up more room than I can spare.

Haven't we had delightful weather for a week or two? It seems as if Old Winter had forgotten himself. Don't you believe he is absent-minded? It has been bad weather for colds, however. I have had a severe cold for a few days, and can sympathize with you, though I have been delivered from a stiff neck. I think you must belong to the tribe of Israel, for you know in the Bible the prophet calls them a stiff-necked generation. I have lately come to the conclusion that I am Eve, alias Mrs. Adam. You know there is no account of her death in the Bible, and why am I not Eve? If you find any statements which you think likely to prove the truth of the case, I wish you would send them to me without delay.

Have you heard a word from Harriet Merrill or Sarah [Tracey?] I consider them lost sheep. I send them a paper every week on Monday, but I never get one in return. I am almost a mind to take a hand-car and go around to hunt them up. I can't think that they have forgotten us, and I know of no reason unless they are sick why they should delay so long to show any signs of remembrance. Do write me soon a very long letter, and tell me all about your school and yourself too.

Your affectionate friend,
Emily E. Dickinson.

Abby stays at home & I must stay to keep her company you know [ ] Since I last wrote you there have[been] a number of changes in Amherst. In the first place Mr. David Parsons has taken a wife to be the solace of his old age. She is a very superior lady. She has been a widow this number of years. Mr. P. found her in Hartford. She has a daughter about 20 years old, who is going to set up a dress maker's shop here. I am glad he has got a good wife to take care of his children. A. Taylor has gone to Bradford to school for a year. Mr. and Mrs. Carter have moved to Boston and their little charge, Lily Baker, has gone to Ashfield to live. Mr. Baker has gone to Northampton to live. Mr. Holland has been to the west, & brought home a niece just Sophia's age whom he has adopted as his daughter in Sophia's place. She resembles Sophia very much & Mr. Holland seems happier than he has for this long while before[.] Jane Houghton has gone to the south this winter to remain until her sister comes home. Martha Gilbert has gone to Pittsfield to school. Dr. Gridley has gone representative to Boston, this winter.

Viny wishes not to be forgotten in her share of love.

Now if you dont answer this letter soon I shall--I shall do something dreadful. So if you wish to save me the commission of some terrible deed you must write me very soon. Are you not coming to Amherst this winter. I wish father would let me go down to Springfield to see you, and then we could talk over old times. I suppose you are getting along finely in music. I had forgotten to ask after your adorable Mr. Eastcott.

There are a number a additions to the society of girls my age this winter. Mrs. S. Mack has a cousin staying with her, a very pretty girl. Emily Fowler has a cousin with her, Kate Hand by name, a very fine scholar. Then there is a Mrs. Sawtelle spending the winter here whose husband is at Washington, who has a daughter Henrietta who attends school. But I would give more to have Harriet, Sarah and yourself back than all the new comers. How is your friend Elizabeth Smith this winter. I hope better, though this season is bad for persons who are consumptive.

You cannot think how delighted I was to receive your letter. I had almost feared you had forgotten me. I carried it up to Abby's the same day that I received it.

Abby sends a great deal of love to you and says she shall write you very soon. Nancy Cutler too sends a great deal of love to you and wants much to hear from you. Why do you not ride over to A. this beautiful sleighing. I should be delighted to see you.

Sabra is well and sends much love to you, or would if she knew I was writing.

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