1864-04-12, Annie Adams Fields

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1864-04-12, Annie Adams Fields


[April 12, 1864], Philadelphia

My dear dear Annie

Clarke has just sent me up your note and I must answer it myself, though maybe he may from the office.

I wanted to write before only to say I loved you— God knows how dear and tender all love has grown to me now, but at first I was not able and now the doctor forbids the last reading or writing for fear of bringing back the trouble in my head.[1] Clarke read to me once out of your book.[2] —it will be such a dear friend to me. He is very well. Ma[3] is with me, and sends her heart’s-love to Mrs. Fields.

Clarke has been waiting every day to have some good news to send you, to write. Sometimes I wish the time would be longer. I don’t know—these days have been so like the valley of the shadow of death, that I grow afraid of the end—but I ought to have trust, I know. I don’t think God would take me from him. I wish you would pray for us.

I must tell you one happy thing. If I get well we are going directly to live by ourselves—it is all clear now— You know all that means to me and Clarke can quit that wearing work.[4] I cannot write more just now. I am so sorry about Mr. Ticknor.[5] Clarke called to see if he could be of any use but his friends were here—

Always your own loving


1. After giving birth to her first child and learning her father had died, RHD suffered from post-partum depression, as we would term it today. At the time her physician, Dr. S. Weir Mitchell (1829-1914), was beginning to practice his controversial “rest cure” method in which patients were forbidden to read write and, in extreme cases, do anything for themselves for months on end. Obviously, with this letter and others, RHD refused to follow the prescription closely, though she will later credit Mitchell’s treatment.

2. Ode (1863).

3. Rachel Harding came to Philadelphia to be with RHD during the birth of her first child and to tell RHD that her father had died.

4. In addition to his legal work and editing legal journals (from both of which he earned only a small salary), Clarke worked at the post office to help supplement the family income.

5. James T. Fields partner in Ticknor & Fields, William Ticknor, was in Philadelphia with his friend Nathaniel Hawthorne. Ticknor became ill shortly after arriving; he died on April 10, 1864.


S. M. Harris


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


S. M. Harris, “1864-04-12, Annie Adams Fields,” Rebecca Harding Davis: Complete Works, accessed November 27, 2022, http://rebeccahardingdaviscompleteworks.com/items/show/185.

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