January 26, , Wheeling
I know you will forgive me, dear Annie for not writing sooner. I’ve abandoned mail—to be fitted and inspected and looked at by women with mouths full of pins and me eye shut, and I’m tired of it— Did I surprise you so much? I thought I had said something of it before—when I said I would not ask you both to come this winter—then I expected to go at Christmas, or earlier— I’ll try and answer your questions, if I remember them all. The letter is upstairs— Like Goldsmith you ‘want the whole name’ L. Clarke Davis.  I do not think it likely Mr Fields knows him. Except the stories Miss Peabody told me of Mr. Hawthorne, I never heard of a more reserved sedentary life than his has been— He is a lawyer, about my age—holding an office under government just now—for the past few months. He is not the editor of whom I spoke. He was—is I mean, a friend—just as I said—you know Annie, if he had been more I would not have spoken of him at all.
Not “a very old thing” nor very new—years enough to satisfy the most rigorous rules of proprieties—
I had a note from Mr Fields today with some warm good wishes—that touched me. You will forgive me if I say but little about my marriage? It is not easy for me to speak to anyone of some things.
I would rather dear Annie that you would not mention it to any one until a week or two before the wedding. It may be a foolish fancy but I want it to be quiet in every way—No one will be present but my own immediate family, owing to my uncle’s severe illness —he is thought to be dying this last week and Ma has to leave me to go to him tomorrow. I hope she will not be gone long though.
Has Kate Field forgiven or forgotten me? It is so long since I wrote to her but I could not help it. Many causes have unfitted me for writing to any one—I am tired, in body and mind and I am glad that a good long holy day is coming— Give my love to her please.
Annie: You will write to me soon again? and not care if my notes are short just now? I will make up for them when I am at rest again— Tell Mr Fields I want the breakfast room and the bay and the Atlantic to remember me just the same. ‘Theirs truly’—by whatever name they call me—And I must have leave to say my word in the Atlantic as before, when the spirit moves me. It is a necessity for me to write—well or ill—you know every animal has speech and that is mine—
Good-night dear Annie. Think of me on that day as you shall—and pray for me.
1. This letter was enclosed with the January 26, , letter to James T. Fields with “For Annie” written in the margin.
2. RHD is preparing for her wedding.
3. A reference to a line in The Vicar of Wakefield (1766) by Anglo-Irish author Oliver Goldsmith (1728-1774).
4. RHD’s fiancé, L. Clarke Davis (1835-1904), at the time a young lawyer in Philadelphia.
5. Elizabeth Palmer Peabody (1804-1894), education reformer, whom RHD met at the Hawthornes’ home on her 1862 trip.
6. Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864), American novelist.
7. Archibald Campbell (1833-1899), radical abolitionist and editor of the Wheeling Intelligencer. RHD’s relationship with Campbell was more complicated than she suggests to Annie; see Sharon M. Harris, RHD: A Life among Writers (West Virginia, 2018) for an analysis of the relationship.
8. Probably John Mershel, married to RHD’s maternal aunt Margaret.
9. Rachel Leet Wilson Harding (1808-1884).
10. Kate Field (1838-1896), American journalist.