letters from dickinson to jane humphrey

about April 1852

And what will dear Jennie say, if I tell her that selfsame minister preached about her again today, text and sermon, and all; morning and afternoon: why, the minister must be mad, or else my head is turned, I am sure I dont know which - a little of both, may be! Yet it is'nt Sunday only, it's all the days in the week, the whole seven of them, that I miss Jennie and remember the long, sweet days when she was with me here. I think I love you more when spring comes - you know we used to sit in the front door, afternoons after school, and the shy little birds would say chirrup, chirrup, in the tall cherry trees, and if our dresses rustled, hop frightened away; and there used to be some farmer cutting down a tree in the woods, and you and I, sitting there, could hear his sharp ax ring. You wont forget it, Jennie, Oh no, I'm sure you wont, for when you are old and gray, it will be a sweet thing to think of, through the long winter's day! And I know I'll remember it, for it's so precious to me that I doubt if I could forget it, even if I should try it.

Thank you for the letter, Jennie; it was very sweet and cheering to hear your voice once more, and it was sad too, for I was quite sure then, that you were indeed in Willoughby, in the far state Ohio. I had heard of it all before, but not from you, and I did'nt want to believe it, so I made up my mind straightway, that it was'nt at all true - but Jennie, I dont doubt you, for you never deceived me. Why so far, Jennie, was'nt there room enough for that young ambition, among New England hills, that it must spread it's wings, and fly away, and away, till it paused at Ohio? Sometimes think my dear Jennie was a wee bit uneasy in her own home and country, or she never had strolled so far, but wont reproach her any, for it's sad to be a stranger, and she is now. Why, I cant think what would tempt me to bid my friends Good bye. I'm afraid I'm growing selfish in my dear home, but I do love it so, and when some pleasant friend invites me to pass a week with her, I look at my father and mother and Vinnie, and all my friends, and I say no - no, cant leave them, what if they die when I'm gone; Kind Friend - "I pray thee have me excused!" Your home is broken, Jennie; my home is whole; that makes a sad, sad difference, and when I think of it more, it dont seem strange to me, as it did at first, that you could leave it.

If God should choose, Jennie, he could take my father, too, and my dear Vinnie, and put them in his sky, to live with him forever, but I shall pray to him every day of my life, not to take them.

It does'nt seem one bit as if my friends would die, for I do love them so, that even should death come after them, it dont seem as if they'd go; yet there is Abbie, and Mr. Humphrey, and many and many a dear one, whom I loved just as dearly, and they are not upon Earth, this lovely Sabbath evening. Bye and bye we'll be all gone, Jennie, does it seem as if we would? The other day I tried to think how I should look down in my face - so fast asleep - so still - Oh Jennie, will you and I really become like this? Dont mind what I say, Darling, I'm a naughty, bad girl to say sad things, and make you cry, but I think of the grave very often, and how much it has got of mine, and whether I can ever stop it from carrying off what I love; that makes me sometimes speak of it when I dont intend.

Since I wrote you last, it is spring - the snow has almost gone, and the big, brown Earth is busy, arraying herself in green - first she puts on pantalettes, then little petticoats, then a frock of all colors, and such sweet little stockings and shoes - no, they are not shoes, they are least little bits of gaiters, laced up with blossoms and grass. Then her hair, Jennie, perfectly crowned with flowers - Oh she'll be a comely maid, by May Day, and she shall be queen, if she can! I do wish I could tell you just how the Robins sing - they dont sing now, because it is past their bedtime, and they're all fast asleep, but they did sing, this morning, for when we were going to church, they filled the air with such melody, and sang so deliciously, that I tho't really, Jennie, I never should get to meeting. I did want to fly away, and be a Robin too! Spring may be earlier, with you, but she cant be any sweeter, I know, and it wont make you angry if I say little birds there, cant sing half so well, for I dont believe they can! It is'nt quite a year since we laid Abbie to rest, sweet child, she gathers flowers in the immortal spring, and they dont fade, tho' she picks them all morning, and holds in her hand till noon; would'nt you and I love such violets, and Roses that never fade - Ah Jennie!

My paper will go away, my minutes will go with it, naughty paper - and naughty time - what shall I do unto you, how shall I punish you? You shall work for me again, when Jennie has answered my letter, and you wont like that, I know! The sooner you write me, therefore, the sooner I'll punish them, and you know they ought to be whipped - just as truly as I do!

Seems to me I could write all night, Jennie, and then not say the half, nor the half of the half of all I have to tell you, but its well I may not do so - since it would weary you. Jennie, be well, and be happy, and sometimes think of me, and how dearly I loved you, and love you still!

Aff -

Emilie -

thomas johnson's note on letter 86 | index to dickinson/humphrey letters

search the archives

dickinson/humphrey correspondence main page | dickinson electronic archives main menu

Commentary copyright 1998 by Martha Nell Smith, all rights reserved
Maintained by Lara Vetter <lv26@umail.umd.edu>
Last updated on June 24, 1999