letters from dickinson to austin dickinson

23 September 1851

We have got home, dear Austin - it is very lonely here - I have tried to make up my mind which was better - home, and parents, and country; or city, and smoke, and dust, shared with the only being I can call my Brother - the scales dont poise very evenly, but so far as I can judge, the balance is in your favor. The folks are much more lonely than while we were away - they say they seemed to feel that we were straying together, and together would return, and the unattended sisters seemed very sad to them. They had been very well indeed, and got along very nicely while we were away. When Father was gone at night, Emeline [Kellogg] stayed with mother. They have had a number of friends to call, and visit with them. Mother never was busier than while we were away - what with fruit, and plants, and chickens, and sympathizing friends, she really was so hurried she hardly knew what to do.

Vinnie and I came safely, and met with no mishap - the boquet was not withered, nor was the bottle cracked. It was fortunate for the freight car, that Vinnie and I were there, our's being the only baggage passing along the line. The folks looked very funny, who travelled with us that day - they were dim and faded like folks passed away - the conductor seemed so grand with about half a dozen tickets, which he dispersed, and demanded in a very small space of time - I judged that the minority were travelling that day, and could'nt hardly help smiling at our ticket friend, however sorry I was at the small amount of people, passing along his way. He looked as if he wanted to make an apology for not having more travellers to keep him company.

The route and the cars seemed strangely - there were no boys with fruit, there were no boys with pamphlets - one fearful little fellow ventured into the car with what appeared to be publications and tracts - he offered them to no one, and no one inquired for them, and he seemed greatly relieved that no one wanted to buy them.

At Sunderland, we happened to think that we might find John Thompson, and find John Thompson we did, just sitting down to dinner - he seemed overjoyed to see us - wants very much to see you - asked many questions about yourself and school, all of which we answered in a most glowing manner, and John's countenance fell - we asked him if he was happy - "why, pretty happy" - they promised him "35." according to his own story - only 25. of whom have yet made their appearance - he thinks he will not stay more than half a term, and wonders "how in the world" you contrived to be so happy, and like Sunderland people so exceedingly well. He says he has no plan, should he not remain there - seems to be somewhat sober at the little he finds to do - studies law in his leisure. "The Elder" had gone to dinner - Mr Russell was there, seemed quite pleased to see us for our brother's sake - he asked us all about you, and expressed his sincere pleasure in your present prosperity - "wished they had had you there," when Thompson was not present! There has been nothing said about Mr Russell lately, as Landlord of the Hygeian - Frink is there himself, and seems to like it well, and probably will keep it, I judge from what they say. They have a great deal of company, and everything goes on well.

You wanted us to tell you about the Pelham Picnic - the folks did'nt know that there had ever been any, so I cannot give you any information there. I suspect if there was a party, it was composed of persons whom none of us know. Calvin Merrill is married, you know - had had a great wedding party at the residence of his bride, the blooming Mrs Benjamin - Tim Henderson and "suite," and Cotton Smith and suite were among the guests, and were suitably honored. Mr Merrill resides with the recent Mrs Merrill, alias Mrs Benjamin, more alias, Mrs Thompson - for the sake of the widowed lady for the third time a bride. I hope her buried Lords are buried very low, for if on some fine evening they should fancy to rise I fear their couple of angers might accompany them, and exercise themselves on grooms who erst were widowers, and widows who are brides.

Bowdoin has gone home on account of his eye - he has'nt been able to use it since we went away - the folks are afraid he will never have the use of it - he dont know when he'll come back - probably not, till it gets well, which we fear may not soon be - at present his father is sick - pretty sick with dysentery. Howland is here with father - wil stay a while I guess. They go to Northampton together, as it is court there now and seem very happy together in the law. Father likes Howalnd grandly, and they go along as smoothly as friendly barks at sea - or when harmonious stanzas become one melody. Howland was here last evening - is jolly and just as happy - really I cant think now what is so happy as he. He wants to see you, says he is going to write you. Sanford is in town, but as yet we hav'nt seen him. Nobody knows what the fellow is here for.

You remember [John] Lord the Historian who gave some lectures here - he has come round again, and is lecturing now on the "Saints and Heroes." He gives them at the chapel - I guess all of us shall go - tho' we were too tired last evening. Prof Jewett has come and is living with his wife east of Gen Mack and his wife. Pretty perpendicular times, I guess, in the ancient mansion. I am glad we dont come home as we used, to this old castle. I could fancy that skeleton cats ever caught spectre rats in dim old nooks and corners, and when I hear the query concerning the pilgrim fathers - and imperturbable Echo merely answers where, it becomes a satisfaction to know that they are there, sitting stark and stiff in Deacon Mack's mouldering arm chairs. We had'nt been home an hour, when Martha came to see us - she was here on Saturday after the stage came in, and was dreadfully disappointed because we did not come. She has'nt changed a bit, and I love her dearly. She was so indignant about her sweet boquet - she said it was kind and fragrant, and would have comforted you in the first few days of exile. I showed her all my treasures - I opened the little box containing the scented beads - I tried it on my wrist, she exclaimed it was how beautiful - then clasped it on her own, and while she praised it's workmanship and turned it o'er and o'er, I told her it was her's, and you did send it to her - then that sweet face grew radiant, and joyful that blue eye, and Martha seemed so happy to know you'd tho't of her, it would have made you happy - I know! She said she should write you - if she has not, she will directly - she has had a letter from Sue - she is situated very pleasantly, and tells her sisters here that she can see no reason why she should not be happy - they are very kind to her - she loves some of her scholars. I hav'nt seen Martha long enough to ask but a very little, but I will find out everything before I write again. It has rained very hard all day, it has been "dark and dreary" and winds "are never weary."

Mother has three shirts which she is going to send you besides one we bro't - also a pair of bosoms which her forgetful son failed to carry away. She will send you the whole by the first good opportunity, and we shall send some fruit as soon as we have a chance. It is beautiful - beautiful!! Mother sends much love and Vinnie.

Your lonely

Sister Emily

Father has just home come, having been gone today. I have therefore not till now got a glimpse of your letter. Sue's address is, Care of Mr Archer - 40. Lexington St. I will keep the note till I see, or send, to Bowdoin. I answer all the questions in your note but one - that I cannot do till they let you come home - that will be soon, dear Austin - do not despair - we're "with you alway, even unto the end"! Tho' absence be not for "the present, joyous, but grievous, ["] it shall work out for us a far more exceeding and "eternal weight" of presence!

Give our love to our Boston friends - tell them we are well and got home very nicely. Vinnie found the shawls very comfortable and thanks them much for them.

Speaking of fireworks, tell Joe we wont ever forget him - forget him? - never - "let April tree forget to bud" - etc!

Will Aunt Lavinia sometime tell Mrs Greely how beautifully the boquet came, and how much it has been admired?

You may if you would like, remember both of your sisters to Misses Knight, and French, also tell Mr Nurse we are very sorry for him!

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