This letter was written by a young woman who signed her name, “L. Adams.” She appears to have been residing in the household of William Johnson of Shodack, Rennselaer County, New York.
She wrote the letter to her sister, Mary C. Adams, who was residing in Pittsfield, Berkshire County, New York, but this was clearly not her hometown.
Unfortunately, the names are far too common, and the clues within the letter too few, to allow me to determine their identity.
Addressed to Miss Mary C. Adams, Pittsfield, Berkshire [County], State of Massachusetts
Stuyvesant [New York]
July 19, 1834
My Dearest Mary,
It is indeed a long time since I heard from you. Many times have I been ready to exclaim my sister has quite forgotten me, and then driving away the ungrateful thought from my bosom, would endeavor to find some excuse for your long silence. I had embraced the pleasing idea of a visit from you and clung to it, until hope, the syren hope was quite extinguished. Many hours of pleasing anticipation have I spent in looking forward to receive a visit from you, but my anticipations have been cruelly disappointed. Dearest Mary, days have been weeks since last I heard from you. In the solitude of my chamber I often think of my sister and mourn her absence. The days and nights of mutual friendship and sweet discourse which we have passed together to ____ before me, and I seem once more enjoying the pleasing sight of my sister — but in the midst of my enjoyment in reflecting on the past, the sad reality flashes in my mind and leaves me to regret the absence of my sister — a sister far dearer to me than language has the power of expressing. O Mary! that I could enjoy the privilege of a personal interview with you! that I could see you! that I could enjoy the happiness of your company as in days that have passed, — but alas! those blissful days are, I fear, gone by. I wish that I could see you though it were but for one short hour in order to unbosom myself to my sister and from her friendly heart receive consolation and advice. Pity me for I am now most grievously tormented with fleas even at this moment.
And now dear sister, I will answer your kind letter of the 8th which I received on the 15th. I was very happy to hear from you that you were well. You say that home looked lonely. O, my sister, what would I not give to have been there. My thoughts were with you continually. I imagined the happy party that were together and longed to make one of them. You say that you wish for the wings of a dove. My dear sis, would that I had their wings or something, that would answer the same purpose. It would not then be long before I would embrace my sister — my dear, dear sister. Oh, the bliss of that moment when we shall again see and converse with each other, and the heaviness of time till then.
You say that you saw Julius and that he acted the same as ever. O my dear Mary, I wish — yes — often wish that I had never seen him, for under the garb of all that was fair, he has acted the part of a base villain, and yet basely as he has conducted himself, I find it impossible to forget him. My thoughts are often on him, as I had pictured him out to my imagination; sometimes I feel vexed at him, at other times pity him. Do my sister pray for me that I may conduct towards him as becometh a Christian and a member of the same church with himself. You say that you do not wish him for [a] brother after what you have heard. Do, my dear sister, tell me what you have heard. You have very much alarmed me. What can you have heard. Do, I beseech and entreat of you, let me know for I shall not rest until I hear.
You say that you think Amanda is going to be married. Pray, tell me to whom. I wish her much joy. You can ____ to keep it a secret to whom shall I reveal it here that knows her? You ask me, dear Mary, what you shall do with the poor French-man. You have come to a poor one for advice — but I would advise you — if he really is serious in his intentions to you — to give him a chance to declare himself and then tell him plainly and candidly that he has nothing to hope for but your friendship, I should hate my dear sister to offend him or hurt his feelings for his forbearance is a proof of affection for you. If he is a gentleman or man of sense, a plain, serious, and candid answer will be enough conduct in his presence as though nothing had occurred. Treat him in the same manner that you would any other acquaintance. Should he persist in his attentions to you, tell him that your affections are unalterably fixed, and rest assured my dear sister, that will cure him. Never fear wearying my patience any, dear sister. How little you know my heart if you think of tiring my patience by anything that you write for know, my dear Mary, that anything that concerns you interests me, and that deeply.
But my dear Mary, you have not so much as told me the name of your admirer. Be so kind in your next [letter] to let me know his name and occupation and age. Likewise, tell me in your next whether you have seen Sarah Fairfield yet. Poor Martha, I am indeed sorry that there are such reports in circulation respecting her. Tell me if you know whether Robert Shaw visits her yet or not.
Susan Painter, you say, is dead. I have no recollection of her. The name is familiar to me. Tell me where she lived.
I have worked me a safety chain of those yellow beads with blue and white. I have worked my name in it with black beads and for a motto, I have put on it, “Life how short, Eternity how long.” You say that it is thought by Elvira that I kelp company with __. For the sake of keeping company, do my sister tell me what you have heard. Tell me what Elvira has said that should make you think so by your love for me as a sister. Let me entreat of you to tell me all you know. You may get me an album for ___. You mention nothing about Mr. Merriam’s people.
When you write, tell me all the news about Pittsfield and its inhabitants. I am very pleasantly situated here and see a great deal of company, but in the midst of it all, the image of my sister and friend rises before me and I long to embrace them. O when will that happy time come. Dear sis, I cannot thank you enough for writing me so long a letter. When I received it, I felt quite low spirited but that like a _____ to a sick man revived me. Over and over again did I read that precious epistle and many times in my fancy did I see the dear author of it. When you write news, fear but what I can read it.
Merino shawls are not much cheaper here than there and it is impossible to get a good red shawl.
I am in Stivesant, but when you write, direct your letters to Schodack, Rensselaer County, New York as I shall get them much easier.The post will deliver them. Fail not to mention on the Care of William Johnson. I thank you for having wrote your letter on yellow paper and for having filled out the sheet. Do not cut any off. Write immediately on receiving this and excuse the bad writing for all the while I am writing I am almost devoured with fleas.
Accept the well wishes of your affectionate sister, — L. Adams