This letter was written by Ruth Emerson (1775-18xx) prior to her marriage to Rev. Jonathan Huse (1767-1853) in September 1801. She was the daughter of Benjamin Emerson (1740-1811) and Ruth Tucker (1753-1842).
Rev. Jonathan Huse was the son of Dr. John Huse (1739-1802) and Anna Webster (1746-1826). Through his mother’s side of the family, he was reportedly a cousin of Daniel Webster. Huse prepared for college at Phillips Academy in Andover, graduated from Dartmouth College in 1788, was ordained a Congregationalist minister in October 1795 and appointed to Warren, Maine.
Addressed to Rev. Jonathan Huse, Warren District Maine
Hampstead [New Hampshire]
Saturday, 24 May 1800
With feelings of tenderness & anxious solicitude for our health & good fortune, I now address you. When we last parted, I thought I would not write to my friend until I could congratulate him on his arrival in Warren. But, I can no longer deny myself an amusement so soothing to my feelings. Our family unit is reduced to a very small number. A book or my pen, I must substitute for the place of conversation. I have not neither, so great a propensity to prattle myself; but I would listen with unspeakable pleasure to the more instructive voice of my highly esteemed friend. But, that is utterly impossible, at present. Woods, rivers, towns, & mountains rise in succession between us. I hope you are now at Wiscasset [Maine]. If the prayers of a friend have been heard & answered, your journey has been as agreeable as could reasonably be expected.
I have been to Atkinson [New Hampshire] today after my brother. I called and passed two or three hours with your second “Mother” — Mrs. Peabody. She remains in a low state of health. I am seriously alarmed about her. She appears to me to be falling into a decline. My conjecture may be groundless. I could hope it is. She bestowed many encomiums on me who is one of the first on my list of friends. Her observations brought to mind a passage I have read — where I do not recollect — which I could not avoid applying to myself.
Monday evening. 26 May. I have this day participated in idea, your pleasure on meeting your friends. Little Eliza, I presume, was one of the first in the group to meet & welcome your return. Charming child! I feel a greater partiality for her than I generally do for those whom I have only heard mentioned. I have been reading over your letters this morning: the perusal of which has afforded me new pleasure. An acquaintance with the author greatly enhances their value.
Wednesday evening. 28 [May]. I have just returned from a solitary but pleasing walk. I went out, not knowing which way should be my course. I cast my eyes around & the spot we lately visited together seemed to invite my attention. Hither I directed my steps. Under the tree which overshadows our fishing-place, I seated myself; wrapt in silent admiration, while I contemplated the works of nature. A universal stillness prevailed. The pond was perfectly calm. Not a leaf moved on the trees, not a sound to be heard except the murmuring of the brook, which gently glides below. The sensations, I felt, at viewing the prospect before me, I wished to indulge; but the dampness of the evening demanded my speedy return. Will you, can you be entertained with such trifling occurrences? Do not, “my dear sir,” contract your brow & say no; such stuff is only fit food for girls. The evening is far advanced. I must take my leave after wishing you undisturbed repose.
Sunday, June 1st. Mr. Foster & my sister slipped up to see us yesterday afternoon, quite unexpectedly. Mr. Foster had business which called him to Hampstead so he took his “dearer half” with him. A large portion of diversion they have made themselves at my expense. The first salutation I received from Mr. Foster was, “Dear sister, you shall not cry; your brother will trace the starting tear from your eyes. I fear I shall not be so successful as the other person. But we are come to comfort you all in our power.” You will think I summoned all the dignity to my aid ____ of. A trail to the subject. I shall close this and send by them to Newbury-Port. If I do not alter my mind before tomorrow night, I shall leave this town for a considerable time. I am going to Atkinson to fill two opposite stations. The one, a scholar at the Academy,¹ the other an instructress to a number of young ladies. From five to seven in the afternoon, I shall attend to teaching ladies embroidering & drawing. I shall have a multiplicity of things to attend; but shall not be as unmindful of, or neglect my friends. Letters, if sent to my father’s will come safe to me. My brother & sister are this minute going. I must take a hearty leave. — R. E.
¹ Ruth probably refers to the Atkinson Academy in Atkinson, New Hampshire, which claims to be one of the oldest standing co-ed schools in the United States. It was founded in 1787 as an all-boys school but began admitting girls in 1791. The school building that remains on the site was built in 1803.