1863-12-late, Annie Adams Fields

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1863-12-late, Annie Adams Fields


[c. December 1863], Philadelphia

Dear Annie,

You don’t know how it touches me that you should sit down at odd moments to say a word to me–just because it must be said—so different that is from a set letter. I never have heard Mr. Wasson, [1] you know, but I easily believe how much his voice would give effect to his words. It seems to me curiously feeling-full. By the way, when you see him, will you remember[?] me to him in as friendly a way as you can? Not less friendly because it is long since I wrote to him—

Indeed, Annie, I have written few letters this summer—oftener to you than any friend. I have had much to think of and to feel—for others. Not myself—God has held us in such a quiet blessing hand, but I could tell you a story which I cannot write, sadder and stranger than any fiction which has made the days and nights very feverish for a long time. Some day I will tell you, but maybe now I ought not to have even said this much. But I often feared you would think me careless and tardy in writing. There’s a happy ending coming at last, I hope & all through the One Hand has been so strangely visible—I am glad of that.

You are a foolish woman to think you said too much about the organ-night.[2] I wanted to know—and so asked you. Are we not close enough yet to be rid of all dread of egotism of our own part or of misunderstanding one the other? But I never shall cease regretting that I was there.

Oh, Annie, don’t forget to tell me if there was the slightest basis of fact for that Nolan story? [3] It was marvellously well-done—especially in the Defoe-ish[4] style—wasn’t it? Several persons wait to be persuaded that it is not all true, even yet.

You must write to me at Wheeling the next time. I am going in a day or two and Clarke follows me to spend Christmas at home. My father has not been strong all winter and though it is almost impossible for Clarke to go—we thought we ought, as they write that he has become nervous and anxious about that one point— This is the first Christmas since the family was broken up. One of my brothers has gone to find a home in Kentucky.[5] You will write to me there, dear Annie, won’t you? Direct to my brother’s—Wilson’s[6] care.

Clarke sends his warmest and best remembrances—for both— He often in the evenings projects a flying visit to Boston. I nod and say nothing—knowing it is as likely as a trip with Messrs Spike & Grant.[7] If it only were not!—

My sister[8] sends her love. Your visit has even yet left a bright glow of remembrance in our family life. Even the children[9] talk of it.

Remember me to Mr. Fields—or no—I must write him a line but that will be business, so do you remember me to him as I said, and think of me

always as your earnest friend,

Annie, tell me something about Miss Peabody[10]—I often think of her. And Mrs. Hawthorne.[11]


1. David Atwood Wasson (1823-1887), a Unitarian minister who published in the Atlantic Monthly and whom RHD had met in Boston in 1862.

2. A reference to the evening when Fields’s Ode was recited by the actress Charlotte Cushman.

3. Probably a reference to Edward Everett Hale’s “The Man Without a Country” which was published in the December 1863 issue of the Atlantic Monthly.

4. Daniel DeFoe (1660-1731), English author best known for Robinson Crusoe (1719).

5. Richard Harris Harding (1838-1897), RHD’s middle brother.

6. Hugh Wilson (“Wilse”) Harding (1835-1906), RHD’s eldest brother.

7. “Spike” unknown; Ulysses S. Grant (1822-1885), Union Army officer who would become President of the United States after the Civil War.

8. Emelie Mary Harding (1842-1904), RHD’s younger sister.

9. RHD’s nephews and niece, children of Carrie Davis Cooper.

10. Elizabeth Palmer Peabody (1804-1894), an erudite US educator and sister of Sophia Peabody Hawthorne.

11. Sophia Peabody Hawthorne (1809-1871), painter and spouse of the author Nathaniel Hawthorne. RHD had met Peabody and the Hawthornes while in Concord in 1862.


S. M. Harris


Richard Harding Davis Papers, Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia



S. M. Harris, “1863-12-late, Annie Adams Fields,” Rebecca Harding Davis: Complete Works, accessed August 14, 2020, http://rebeccahardingdaviscompleteworks.com/items/show/164.

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