1864-07-27, Annie Adams Fields

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1864-07-27, Annie Adams Fields


June 27 [1864], Philadelphia

Not a day has passed since your letter came in which you have not been thought if not spoken of here but I have not written, waiting from day to day to know when we were going so as to tell you how to direct your letters. We have been living like the Jews with our sandals tied & loins girded for the last six weeks—on Tuesday next we fully intended to go to a quiet place on the Jersey shore—& we hope still to do so—but it is not certain. It is so long since I wrote that there are broken threads in every subject I turn to speak of—but questions on the most urgent at any rate & you must tell us where you are and what you are doing. I could not understand whether you went first to the sea shore or to the mountains— Here, the weather is intensely hot—we manage to catch a glimpse of fields and—not hills—(I forgot) & so keep ourselves alive.

Thank you Annie for what you tell me of Hawthorne’s going to rest[1]—That beautiful cemetery at Concord! More than any I ever saw I thought I should like to sleep there. It looked as if the dead people had each got out & chosen a pleasant place—quiet & lovely to lie down in. I remember so well Mr Hawthorne sitting down on a bank his hands clasped about his knees & the quaint smile with which he say ‘Yes it is pleasant. The most beautiful pleasure grounds you will find in New England in our grave-yards—We only begin to enjoy ourselves when we’re dead.’

Should you have liked me to write to Mrs Hawthorne?[2] I thought from you said you wished it. But I never can write such letters simply because in my own case silence would be the only sympathy I would wish—words must to the one who suffers[?] seem cold and therefore impertinent— Besides she must know that hers is a people’s loss—not only we have lost something, but all who shall come after us. Apropos of friends—where by the way is Kate Field? [3] I saw that name among the Round Table contributors & wondered if it were she. That lady was however from New York—

Mr Davis at breakfast left many friendly messages for you both—knowing I meant to write. When you answer, Annie which I hope you will do very soon don’t send it to this house but just to L. Clarke Davis Philadelphia. He will leave directions where to forward them & we will be gone from this house at all events—I will be sorry—or the elms—& the dear old rooms I came to when I was married & when the baby was born. All this time & not a chirp about my little fledgeling! There’s a model mother! But the truth is I was afraid lest the pen might go on covering the sheet as it does to Ma[4] —with ‘You ought to hear him laugh’ or ‘see him choke himself with his fist’ &c &c &c— But he is growing to be a tolerably chubby little fellow—with an uncompromising snub nose and great serious eyes that grow terribly frightened if a stranger looks at him & when he turns them to me and hides in my arms I try not to feel as if this was something the like of which never came into the world before—but I cannot help it—

You will write, dear Annie, will you not? I hate complaining or I would have said that or a long time writing even a short note, to me, was a burden to think of. I never knew before how much ‘to be weak was to be miserable’—I was very ill when the baby was born, dangerously so or two weeks & strength comes even yet back slowly. I tell you because I fear you may have thought my letters infrequent— Good-by for the present dear—May our loving Master watch over you and yours and mine. Remember me to Mr Fields as his and yours always forever


1. The author Nathaniel Hawthorne died on May 19, 1864.

2. Sophia Peabody Hawthorne (1809-1871), painter and spouse of the author Nathaniel Hawthorne.

3. Kate Field (1838-1896), American journalist.

4. Rachel Leet Wilson Harding (1808-1884).


S. M. Harris


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


S. M. Harris, “1864-07-27, Annie Adams Fields,” Rebecca Harding Davis: Complete Works, accessed December 1, 2022, http://rebeccahardingdaviscompleteworks.com/items/show/189.

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