Manuscript letter
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Frances (Appleton) Longfellow to Isaac Appleton Jewett, 9 September 1840
Manuscript letter
Newport September 9th 1840.
Dear Jewett. Our correspondence gives strong symptoms of ‘falling into a decline’ & will die a natural death if we do not prop its failing strength by some homeopathic pills. As you are in the way of such things you must exert your skill if you care to keep it alive. Why I have not used greater exertions of late you shall be informed. In the first place, this lazy, loafing life, you now so contemn in your new pride of lawyer activity but to which we poor womankind have to resign ourselves as we may, gives me sadly procrastinating habits about letter-writing. &, moreover, tho’ I could inflict upon you without remorse all the light fancies that bubbled up in dreamy hours a few months ago knowing a like dreamy mood would welcome them, yet, now that your Pegasus is in such tight law harness (as you would make me believe) they would be only impertinent intruders tempting you unwisely (unless you are quite free of spells) perhaps to look away from the turnpike of dusty, but healthy, toil to the ‘merry green-wood’ where the Evil King & his daughter fair are ever smiling & beckoning enticingly. No, my letters cannot well dove-tail themselves into your present Dantesque circle and you know I cannot endure the Mephistopheles sneer or, rather, that of the busy ant at the grasshoppers idle, merry life – it being an affront to my womanly vocation. I do not envy you filling your brain with law cobwebs, as little satisfactory as those Ideality spins there, & as to all the wondrous advantages that ray out from the centre you occupy with such a self-satisfied air of ‘Me voilà’ (like the French ‘incroyable’ in the club-box at the Grand Opera) they are not so clear to my feminine un-worldly eyes malgré your map- [p. 2] I have always considered the law as a vocation which must often wring the conscience or benumb it utterly & marvel that a thoroughly honest man can approve it unreservedly, but an honest man will make his calling honest; still it is a hard service. But I wont battle this point with you for you have given every eloquent reason [crossed out: in] its praise & it is an opinion I have made up on thought – so it cant be over-turned & we will omit all discussion thereon as our letters have not been so amiable as is agreeable. Father & Tom have left us 3 womenkind (my friend Emmeline is with me) for this famous Whig gathering in Boston which is working ‘like a tempest in a tea-pot’ in our quiet city – Patriotism & hospitality at fever-heat breaking out into demonstrations as new as disagreeable I should think for the martyrs in the cause. Beds & boards are supplied for this Whig army by inhabitants of every class, the public houses being already over-crammed with strangers – human compressibility is to be tried as never before. Some patriotic ladies have strewn their garrets, hospital-like, with beds - & some, tho’ absent from town, give the keys to the servants to entertain guests (without the ‘hosts’ reckoning.) This is dangerous civility for, tho’ a very good which I know humanity is fallible & if spoons do disappear they can never complain as it might affect the interests of the party. But I look with a Cassandra sadness upon all these mighty doings for I have a prophetic feeling that old Tip will [crossed out: will] have drunken to the lees his hard-cider life, alias will die, before election!! Don’t you think Boston’s small head will be turned by such a whirl of excitement? Mrs Otis & the Belgian giant were good enough lions for a while & now, Fanny Elssler is pirouetting in this Whig meleé as in a ballet confusion & the men [crossed out: alone] do not alone monopolize the interests of the day but all the extra female fingers in the state (an unmentionable majority by the late census) have been worked to the bone for this famous Fair to host up Bunker hill Mt to a respectable [p. 3] height & this very day is displayed a goodly array of our fair ladies behind counters loaded with the million pretty trifles female brains create & needles execute. My patriotism came out at my fingers’ ends in the shape of a mock Monument, half-finished – with a scene of little work-women hoisting stones &c & one solitary ‘loafer’ slinking about it in an attitude of astonishment – a very well-designed satire I assure you on the necessity of women’s help to raise this slow-growing obelisk. Mrs Otis has returned much the same, they say, with some continental manners that astound our worthy people not a little – such as indiscriminate embraces upon meeting friends of energy proportionate to her size - & bonnetless promenades in Beacon St as if it were a mere village street &c. She will be a welcome addition or opposition to our stereotyped propriety – amusing as a meteor among fixed stars. We shall probably leave this charming sea-side next week after the hubbub is over in Boston which I am too happy to escape, shall remain a week in town to see Fanny Elssler & then talk of undertaking a journey to Niagara if October is safe from fever & ague in that quarter. Tom has never seen it & I long to enjoy it in the glorious setting of Autumn woods; with Em. & Edward Austin we shall have a nice partie canée & I hope shall carry it into effect. En passant, to take a peep at Stockbridge as we left it last year & obtain the blessing of a little chat with Miss Sedgwick about the old world. We had a stormy day lately (the only one of the summer for the weather here is unchangeably fine) & thought of our Yale efforts to kill time on such occasions & wished for you to discuss heaven & earth with, turn metaphysics inside out - & with intermittent flute-blowings. (“sigh of the angel within us” as Jean Paul sentimentally says) be as ‘merry, witty & wise’ as such three must be together! But I forget that this is all to you ‘like to the crackling of thorns under a pot;’ go your ways law-oppressed man & much joy may you have of your burden: free from the hard ignoble strife we can content ourselves yet & enjoy our cakes & all [p. 4 bottom] with a thankful spirit This is Epicureanism born of necessity for what can a poor maiden do? I forgive you all your mocks if you will break your jests on maters I am less touchy about hereafter. If I give you head do not throw a stone at me or my friends. I had a great mind to suppress your letter to Mary; was it not too saucy to go 3000 miles? however she is good-natured & would be amused with any-thing from you not recognising the mighty barrier her marriage erects between her & old friends which you in your bachelor-modesty? make so much of. Dont attempt any formal [p. 4 top] new style of addressing her or the spirit & agreeableness of your letters will be damped utterly. We have no very late news; she was last heard from in Wales enjoying the Sismondi’s society - & all their warm-hearted relations. Is now probably in London as she expects to be confined in October. Have you encountered English Gen Miller ever? He has been every-where so I ask. Fought in the battle of N. Orleans, at the taking of Baltimore, has six bullets in him, a little deep & with but one use-able hand yet fresh complex [p. 4 cross] ioned, middle-aged, full of anecdote et cetera. Wish he were to be here longer to be pumped – a sort of walking “Percy’s anecdotes.” historical ruler. Do you know I shoot better than maid Marian? Not solely with the gray-goose feather – tho the long bow I can use but – beware!
[p. 1 cross] Miss Austin sends you kind remembrances & begging your pardon for intruding on your law studies with my bad grammar.
I remain yrs &c
Fanny E. A.
Archives Number: 1011/002.001-010#022
U. S. National Park Service
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Courtesy of National Park Service, Longfellow House-Washington's Headquarters National Historic Site; Archives Number 1011/002.001-010#022
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Correspondence (1011/002), (LONG-SeriesName)
, Letters from Frances Longfellow (1011/002.001), (LONG-SubseriesName)
, 1840 (1011/002.001-010), (LONG-FileUnitName)
Longfellow House - Washington's Headquarters National Historic Site, Code: LONG
Longfellow House - Washington's Headquarters National Historic Site, Middlesex County, Massachusetts
Latitude: 42.3769989013672, Longitude: -71.1264038085938

NPS Museum Number Catalog : LONG 20257
Title: Finding Aid to the Frances Elizabeth Appleton Longfellow (1817-1861) Papers, 1825-1961 (bulk dated: 1832-1861)
Manuscript letter in Frances Appleton Longfellow Papers, Series II. Correspondence, A. Outgoing, 1840. (1011/002.001-010#022)
Fanny (Appleton) Longfellow (1817-1861)
Isaac Appleton Jewett (1808-1853)
Organization: Longfellow House-Washington's Headquarters National Historic Site
Address: 105 Brattle Street, Cambridge, MA 02138

Wednesday, November 9, 2022 6:53:42 PM
Wednesday, November 9, 2022 6:53:42 PM
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