Writings by Susan Dickinson

image | previous page | next page | note | other drafts | essay index | search | main index


Turning over the pages recently of "Nohthampton [sic] the Meadow City," I was freshly
impressed by the chapter on their past social life written by Mrs. Annette
Hopkins Emerson of Amherst; who by her temperament, talent, ancestry and social
gift was especially fitted to draw the fascinating picture.

The social life at Amherst two generations and more ago was no less unique in
grace and charm, although differing markedly from her rival across the river
in certain social habits held contraband by piety and conscience in Amherst;
usages quite natural to a "shire" town with its wider association and more
cosmopolitan traditions. The harmless bores of cards and dancing, common there,
were not even so much as mentioned in Amherst as suitable, nay possible occupa-
tions for immortal beings, until a quite recent day.

Northampton---how jealous we were of her! As our men trooped to her banks while
for years we had none, and our ladies pressed to her dressmakers or hung over
the counter at "Stoddard and Lathrops" in hope of some more distinctive elegance
than Sweetser and Cutler could afford from their standard repertoire of sober
merinos and a good quality of black silk. A few of them, fired to a more fas-
tidious taste bought their best bonnets at Mrs Osborne's in Northampton too;
sometimes venturing as high a price as six dollars, enamoured by the foreign
touch to a momentary forgetfulness of the missionaries. These works of art
were carefully packed in really huge band-boxes of those days, made of high-
colored paper and ornamented with the most tropical scenes and exaggerated
flowers, unknown to any botany. These treasures were anxiously committed to the
sincerest protection of Brown, the always driver of the daily four-horse-stage

H bMS Am 1118.95, Box 9

image | previous page | next page | note | other drafts | essay index | search | main index

Writings by Susan Dickinson Main Page
Image reproduced by permission of the Houghton Library, Harvard University.
Not to be reproduced in whole or in part without permission.
Transcription and commentary copyright 1998 by Martha Nell Smith,
Laura Elyn Lauth, and Lara Vetter, all rights reserved
Maintained by Rebecca Mooney  <rnmooney@umd.edu>
Last updated on January 25, 2008

Dickinson Electronic Archives