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H L17

JP 5, JL 173

FP 4

OMC 22


ink, one sheet, four pages


watermark/embossment: SMLY, Superfine Paper London, embossed

19.5 x 12 cm.

multiply folded, corners folded to be inserted into scrapbook

FF 181-182, poem but not the letter; Letters (1894), 162; (1931), 159, LL, 188, prose variant of the second stanza as a concluding paragraph in a "Late Autumn, 1853" letter to Josiah and Elizabeth Holland (dated "early 1854" in LH, 38): "Then will I not repine, knowing that bird of mine, though flown -learneth beyond the sea, melody new for me, and will return." Poem on p. 3. Instead of lines between them, ED ends stanzas with periods. Signature "E" rhymes with "tree" and "me" of final stanza. "Young" pencilled on fourth page. "X" on verso. Handwriting looks shaky. Though they are women in their mid-twenties, Johnson notes, "there is nothing in other letters to indicate a rift between the girls at this time. The draft of a letter. . .from Austin to Susan, 23 September 1851, alludes to some differences between the girls about which he refuses to take sides, but this letter is in the handwriting of 1854." He then underscores his editorial construction substantiating his biographical presumptions: "It is placed here to follow the emotional tone of the letter to Susan of late August [L 172, pp. 54-57], though the disagreement on spiritual matters that seems to lie behind it may have no connection with the feeling of neglect shown in the earlier one." Thus his dating is conjecture. Our hypothesis is that these documents belong to a period when Sue and Austin had already or were about to be married. More important than determining what caused the strain between the two is the fact that this occurs rather early in a relationship that was to grow only more intense over the next three decades. Such documents testify to the emotional complexities and depth of the relationship.

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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 1996 by Martha Nell Smith, all rights reserved
Last updated on June 5, 2001
Maintained by Lara Vetter