letters from dickinson to sara colton gillett

Thomas Johnson's Note on Letter 1011

MANUSCRIPT: Holcombe. Pencil.

PUBLICATION: Hartford Daily Times 7 March 1936, in part reproduced in facsimile.

The same phraseology ED used in writing Higginson just before Mrs. Jackson's death (no. 1007). Among ED's papers at the time of her death was another draft (AC - pencil):

What a Hazard an Accent is! When I think of the
Hearts it has scuttled or sunk, I almost fear to lift my
Hand to so much as a punctuation.

Sara Colton was a friend of Martha Dickinson, whom she visited in the summer of 1885. She later married the Reverend Arthur L. Gillett supplied, which states "that they [this and the preceding note] were written to Mrs. Gillett when she was a girl. . ."

Sara Colton did not know and never saw ED. The preceding letter (no. 1010) is precisely the kind that ED often wrote and sent across the hedge to friends and her niece and nephews. The tone of this one, the signature, the concern with rhetorical effect, make one seriously doubt that it was in fact sent to Sara Colton. Nor was it sent to Susan Dickinson, for ED never signed notes to Sue thus. Whoever received it perhaps presented it to Sara Colton as a memento, maybe at the same time she received the other note.

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Commentary copyright 1998 by Martha Nell Smith, all rights reserved
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Last updated on March 23, 2000