letters from dickinson to higginson

25 April 1862

Mr Higginson,

Your kindness claimed earlier gratitude-but I was ill-and write today, from my pillow.

Thank you for the surgery- it was not so painful as I supposed. I bring you others-as you ask-though they might not differ-

While my thought is undressed-I can make the distinction, but when I put them in the Gown - they look alike, and numb.

You asked how old I was? I made no verse-but one or two-until this winter - Sir-

I had a terror-since September-I could tell to none-and so I sing, as the Boy does by the Burying Ground-because I am afraid- You inquire my Books-For Poets-I have Keats-and Mr and Mrs Browning. For Prose - Mr Ruskin - Sir Thomas Browne - and the Revelations. I went to school-but in your manner of the phrase-had no education. When a little Girl, I had a friend, who taught me Im- mortality-but venturing too near, himself-he never returned-Soon after, my Tutor, died - and for several years, my Lexicon - was my only companion-Then I found one more-but he was not contented I be his scholar-so he left the Land.

You ask of my Companions Hills- Sir-and the Sundown-and a Dog-large as myself, that my Father bought me-They are better than Beings-because they know-but do not tell-and the noise in the Pool, at Noon - excels my Piano. I have a Brother and Sister - My Mother does not care for thought-and Father, too busy with his Briefs - to notice what we do - He buys me many Books - but begs me not to rcad thcm-because he fears they joggle the Mind. They are religious-except me-and address an Eclipse, every morning-whom they call their "Father." But I fear my story fatigues you-I would like to learn-Could you tell me how to grow-or is it unconveyed- like Melody-or Witchcraft?

You speak of Mr Whitman-I never read his Book-but was told that he was disgraceful-

I read Miss Prcscott's "Circumstance," but it followed me, in the Dark-so I avoided her-

Two Editors of Journals came to my Father's House, this winter- and asked me for my Mind-and when I asked them "Why," they said I was penurious - and they, would use it for the World -

I could not weigh myself-Myself-

My size felt small- to me- I read your Chapters in the Atlantic- and experienced honor for you-I was sure you would not reject a confiding question-

Is this- Sir-what you asked me to tell you?

Your friend,
E - Dickinson.

thomas johnson's note on letter 261 | index to dickinson/higginson letters

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Last updated on September 1, 1998