Correspondence of Fanny Hayes Platt, 1840 - 1854

 

[Fanny to William]

Delaware Saturday Morn

My dear, dear William,

    It is a difficult matter to make up my mind to write this mornng. I have left it till the last moment hoping that some magic would smooth the roads & I should see you this evening. __ & the sun shines out so brightly this morning that I can’t help thinking that you will come, but if you should not it is so long before the mail goes again that it would grieve me more perhaps than yourself if no word of remembrance should go to you.
    Imagine yourself kissed dearest, for the several documents I rec’d from you this week __ The first I should have answered Thursday as you expected but was prevented the evening before & thought I would not write another hasty morning letter because anything in haste I believe annoys you but it is Hopkin’s choice this time.
    The last few days we have been quilting so steadily that my fingers are still as bird’s claws __ to borrow one of Ann’s comparisons;___ we set rather a long task for ourselves this week but by a "careful attention to business" through this day I think evening will see it completed. By the way, in compliment to my business genius you recommend a clerkship. It suits my taste better I believe than another occupation I had made some arrangements for adopting __ that of housekeeper__ upon reflection I think the latter must be a very small business & cramping to the faculties. I don’t cherish in my memory any such place as "Platt’s shop"but if you can propose any more musical sounding place I am ready at a moments warning to accept ___ as I feel somewhat acquainted with yourself a station near you would be desirable.___ am heartily glad our furniture is on the way.___ Think that & your other self you may expect to come to "lunch" about the same time. It will be here by the latter part of this month_ will it not! I shall have something to do then & can be with you at the house a great deal so shall wind up my visit here at that time _ perhaps! Can thing of nothing more than we have sent for but that we can get in Columbus or dispense with till you go on.
    Uncle Sardis is very more unwell, __ last Saturday he was out all day & thought he should be well enough to leave in ten days __ but now I doubt whether he can take me to Columbus before June. Mother is quite well of her cold but has the headaches a great deal lately.
        You poor body must be busy enough __ do not sacrifice health to your cares, __ if you would pay attention to my cautions I should wish myself there to watch you. I cannot wish you to worry yourself over rough roads but am sure they are not so very bad now __ shall watch for you this evening & if you do not come _________________
    Must finish and take this directly to the office or the mail will be gone.___ Verily it would do my eyes good to behold thy face once more __ but if &c you will certainly write a long one tomorrow & I will nefer let so many mails pass again without adding to their lumber. Till This evening adieu.     Your own
                                                                                                                            Fanny

Love to all & from all. Say every thing for me to Lucy.
                                                                            F.

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[Fanny to William A. Platt]

Delaware July 3rd 1840

Many thanks dearest hubby for the rare morsel rec’d by today’s mail; a long letter would be a feast indeed, but since you have only time to spare for "a line" I must even be content with that, ‘few & far between’ too. - I begin to envy you for having something to be employed about, - it never entered into your imagination to concieve [sic] how tired to death one gets doing nothing. Each day is an age & each one is increasing in length - oh how old I shall be before this summer is over! Heaven grant I may never see such another.
    I go nowhere excepting for a walk at evening,-our friends finding thier [sic] calls & visits unreturned stop coming, & so they have long ago exhausted the vocabulary of grief at our departure, I really believe will be glad when we are gone, though not more so than myself I am sure. Two months ago I should have felt real sadness at parting with that sweetest of all places childhood’s home, but now I am tired of bidding farewell to ‘old familiar scenes’ & the novelty of a last visit has worn away. It is wearisome living in constant expectation as we have done since we have been "broken up," but one good will come of our long delay here - Mother will be happy to have a quiet settled home anywhere now - if we had gone down when she first gave up housekeeping it would have required a longer time for her to forget to sigh after her old home; -but this does not seem like our abiding place of last year,- not that there is too little quiet - ‘the quid’ knows it is a perfect dead unvaried calm from morning till night. Mother looks at me & I look at her. Then we both look out the window. This is all the duty our eyes are called on to perform.- Mother hems a cap border & I hem a ruffle. Then the duty of our hands is finished.- we talk over our affairs from first to last - one day & from last to first the next. This forms the pastime of our tongues; breakfast, dinner & supper feed and fatten our bodies and a love sick murder tale in the "Lady’s book" or some dolorous history like that of Mary Queen of Scots performs the same office to our intellects --- "all but the fattening" as Phil would say, for I believe they become more & more lean every day. --- Heighho! ( a real lazy sigh worthy of your wife.) I verily believe --- much as I despise laziness it is a virtue in me to cultivate it now for if my energies - mighty as they are! were awake they could find nothing to busy themselves about & would not unlikely work upon me till I should be reduced to a skeleton! – awful calamity!! There appears to be no present danger of this, & I think with care I should keep myself in a fine state of preservation till you get to housekeeping when if you find any difficulty in getting "help" I will proffer my services for ‘reasonable wages’ both as a ‘helpmeet’ & as a ‘helpest,’-will be found the best skilled in the last capacity. Apropos to help,-our hopes have been raised this week as well as yours-fear they will all prove equally fallacious; - a woman from Radnor gave us encouragement of engaging us a girl in her neighborhood, but have heard nothing of her since;-another very good tempered looking girl offered herself-capable, according to her own account, of doing every thing excepting "right grand cooking,"- on inquiry we found she was good for nothing. Better success to you. The romance of life truly!
    Mr. & Mrs. Dickinson only spent last evening with us,- Mrs. D.- told me our house would not be ready for three or four weeks ---- bitterly was I disappointed & many resolutions did I make to think no more of ever going; to fix no time at least, & be as happy as possible here - but "despair would sit heavy at my heart" till your letter cheered me - & now I hope again.- I feel the more anxious to go as soon as possible because there will be much to do at first - I am well now & wish to get all nicely arranged while I am so. Yet I don’t want you to hurry, - You must come [up that I may see whether you are working too hard - a lounging day here will be an antidote for over exertions.
Can you not come tomorrow! I need not persuade though for this will reach you too late to influence. It will be more than usual a lonely day, with us "all the town" is going in a body to a celebration 14 miles from here. - we have no fourth of July --- so it will be supremely dull. - Mr. Miller with his bride is at the Mansion House. Is it not laughable two such important events should have signalized the same day as gaining a wife & losing his quew (don’t know how to spell the word.)- Mrs. Olmsted called today but I didn’t see her.- Congratulate you on getting those lots.
    Don’t ask me whether I would be glad to see you on Sunday - at all times you know a welcome awaits you here. Even Mother’s scruples do not prevent her from saying "by all means tell him come." Another day is over - Mother[,] Miss Emerson & myself are going to walk. This & a letter to Rud have passed this afternoon off pleasantly. You two are my heart’s idols above all yourself.
Goodbye my love -
                                                        Fanny

Sat. morn. - Just one year ago to day I remember writing to you, - Many changes have been brought about since then yet here I am engaged in the same employment. Next 4th where shall we be! Echo answers. Where?

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[Fanny to Miss H. L. Platt]

Columbus. Summer Evening 1843

My First friend, (__ing kin)

    To drive away a feeling of loneliness which I fear maight induce drowsiness I will think with my pen to you. As my train of thought is something like "Cousin Ann"__ prone to be rather desultory, marvel not sister if I touch upon subjects as unlike as metaphysics and our dog Sancho.__ The first of these subjects reminds me of the treat we have enjoyed the last week, __ am not certain if could be called "the first of reason" but if not it might assuredly be styled The flow of imagination. __ A Swedenborger has been giving a course of lectures upon the Creation, the garden of Eden, the flood &c. &c. William, Rutherford, & I myself have been greatly interested to have attended every evening until this I was obliged to stay with Laura.
    The lecturer is a good speaker & the sincerity of his manner seems to cover whatever there is visionary in his theory ___ his arguments are so closely linked together that one is kept listening without relaxing the attention in the least __ sometimes I thought his theory purely imaginative __ then again some parts were founded on sound reason & good sense so that last night I came home almost persuaded to be a convert. __ The subjects he selects admit of boundless speculation & ‘tis extremely difficult to bring any tangible proofs of any belief concerning them. ___ Did you ever try to conceive the immense size of an ark that could contain two & two of all living creatures ___ & the great trouble it must have occasioned Noah to collect them from all the different zones ___ crossing oceans deserts & mountains must have put the animals themselves to some inconvenience___ our Mr. Fields says_ "some of the larger animals might have buffeted the waves with a good degree of bravery but some of the smaller tribes must have been sorely troubled to have reached the ark without assistance from their distant homes."
    And did you ever think it was a good deal of a chore for Noah & his children to "do up the work" in the ark - feeding all the animals of that mighty menagerie & keeping all things nice & tidy! __ Taking the bible history of the deluge in its literal sense Mr. Fields represented in a most ludicrous light__ not that he treats the bible lightly but shows the absurdity of our prejudices. __ he is a good christian I am sure.___ I do with you were here___ you are fond of thinking & this would have afforded you a pleasant subject to exercise those organs that overshadow your eyes.__ Of course I cannot pretend to give you even a synopsis of is theory since he had spoken two hours for six evenings & says he has only given us a bare outline. _______________ I saw Cynthia yesterday. Mr. Preston preaches today. ___ Green peas & strawberries are just in their prime with us.___ Maj. Brush & his lady will arrive in a few days.___ Jim Osborn & Miss Lothrop are to be one Tuesday Eve. ___ There are ninety nine probabilities out of ten that we go to Berkshire Tuesday the 27th but there is something so uncertain about our projected trip that you may not meet us there if you go & then again you may.
    Thunder & lightning rain and a crying baby __________________

    Tuesday Morn Just starting for Berkshire.

                                                    Fanny

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[Fanny to Harriet Platt]

Columbus. Oct. 4th 1846

Dearest Harriet Platt
    Oh dear! Oh dear! The nearer the important event approaches the sadder I feel,-all selfishness too-for I know that new happiness is in store for you.- While I am growing more melancholy at the prospect-- you are becoming more cheerful than ever-your last letter was laughing out with gladness from beginning to end,-it came in cheerily upon my loneliness like one of Rud’s letters.-I am preparing myself to take leave of you for a year or two-content to be banished from your memory & your heart for that time,-you will protest against this, but I have the start of you in experience;- there will be something so engrossing in your new life at first, -so much to be done to make that loved spot home the realization of what your ideal has been, & above all, something so satisfying in the presence of the chosen one that I ask for no other place than that of a shadow in a dream.- But bye & bye I intend & expect to resume my old claim upon your affections not that I anticipate your husband’s being banished to give me room-but there comes to be a oneness between a rightly matched pair which makes them breathe & think & act naturally together without that all engrossing care for each other which puts everybody else aside at the beginning.-I shall look for Mr. S. this week & if he should not call-blast him for me-though I cannot expect you to commence lectures___ so soon-& will perform my own work when I see him.-Lucy & Mr.G. have gone to Washington & probably will not return before you go, but Lizzie is making arrangements to leave the house & bairns [children] in the keeping of Will & his wife so you will not be overwhelmed with kin from that quarter.- Mother and William will return Saturday evening & Lizzie will probably come up with us the day before.- Your cards should have been sent up before, perhaps, but I could not hear of an opportunity.-Have you envelopes? If you wish for some send again-or any thing else that I can help you in let me know.___ Mrs. Canfield. Well, she is a captivating woman.-Like yourself I have learned to be suspicious of charming women so I do not make up my mind as to her real character but there is something about her that wins one’s confidence whilst in her society even more than they would wish. - From dinner until five o’clock we were tete à tete & we talked more confidentially than I usually do with acquaintances of year’s standing. - I have "settled" who she reminds me of, - as she reclined upon the sofa raising herself on one elbow so interested and interesting she was just another Mrs. Little, - she has more quiet ease & more apparent sympathy with those she talks with than Lucy. I don’t think her such a monopoliser of conversation as she has the name of being in Delaware, ___ she gives one a chance to chime in much oftener than Mrs. Whiting or even Jane Kelly- she just about keeps pace with Mrs. Andrews & many others of our ladies.
    I have disposed of my loneliness rather better than I anticipated - only the evenings have been intolerably long excepting when I had some such fearfully fascinating book as "Zononi" - that ought to be read at night in some desolate house or lone spot in order to realize its horrid spectres, - I had them all about me once at midnight when my candle went out as I was reading & afraid to go down cellar for another crept off to bed in the dark almost expecting to find my hair gray in the morning. - I thought I should have a great deal of ‘duty’ company but finally concluded to wait until we get our house fitted up for the Winter & Mother & William at home to bear their share of the burden. Those I have invited have been those whose society would afford me pleasure, - have generally invited two congenial persons to spend the day - day visits with intimate friends are attended with less formality than afternoon & I quite like them at this season of year. - Last week I had delightful visit from Mrs. Massie & Jane Kelly one day - Miss Gwynne & Lizzie Bolovin another - I only wished that you were here to make our enjoyment complete. As children are no very pleasant addition to such visits I had David make it his business to take care of them - kissed them good bye in the morning & didn’t see them again until after tea. - We have performed some such duties as yours during convention. The Synod of Ohio met here + many of Doct. Hoge’s church were sick, accommodations rather scarce & my beds begging to be slept in I offered bed & board to a couple anticipating with a great deal of satisfaction the company of two agreeable Divines - what was my disappointment when two most ordinary looking persons from the back woods in the N. East corner of Marion County presented themselves at my dinner table - the clergyman with striped pantaloons & no intelligence beyond the Presbyterian "confession of faith" attempted no remarks himself but elevated his eyebrows & said "surely" to every one my politeness prompted me to make. - The Elder was blessed with about as much elegance as old Tipton, the sausage maker, whom he resembled strikingly. Of course I was not obliged to exert myself for their entertainment farther than providing them with provisions, which they took to lovingly. Lizzie can tell you a tale of a minister, his companion & offspring quartered upon them much more thrilling than mine. - It did my heart good to hear Mr. Preston talk of you - he thinks four years have worked wonders with you - transforming you from an ordinary young lady to an angel of light - in mind & manner, - these were not exactly his words but the drift of them. - I was surprised at the freedom I felt with him in place of any former reserved feelings - it is a comfort to be a little older than we were once - we get over being afraid of people. - Oh, Leonora has made me a visit; she has improved very decidedly in her style of dressing & lost some of her reserve before strangers - I had a good opportunity to judge as I had company while she was here, - her familiarity with persons & things that we only read about makes her quite interesting at times. - I think more than ever that she is just the one for Cyrus if they fancy each other --- though there is not a man in the world I would be sure she would not reject. - I know she is not engaged to C. Hills - You know she never kept a secret & she told me quite of her own accord that they bantered each other for a letter, she didn’t answer his second letter- not from any design but because, as with her other correspondents, she had something else to do. - In her intercourse with gentlemen I think her very artless
    Pamela wondered very much at your short visit - she is not like any body else who is so busy or she would have rejoiced at the riddance, - she was sure Cyrus was ill because he gaped so much, - Lenora thought he must have been taken after he left Sunbury. - I believe I wrote you in my last that Abb’s Mother & brother Joseph had been here - he told me they wished Doct. Knopp to remove to that other little town - so unimportant that even he could not remember the name - because where they were, the people were Methodists & they could be more "useful" where there was a Presbyterian Church - The spiritual & temporal concerns of Methodists were not worth caring for, I suppose.
    I suppose you hear that ‘tis very sickly here, but I have heard of no deaths these two months excepting Mrs. Dwight Stone’s child - dead of falling out of bed five times, & a man who died of uriemie or apoplexy. - People talk with infinite satisfaction that the fever has caught Delaware at last. - I have not decided whether to call on Mrs Foy or not - I have kept my acquaintance with William since he lived here- what had I better do?- Foy family promise to spread over the land extensively-Barney is called engaged to Mantil Griffin.
    Excuse my long letter at this with you busy time- but you need not read it all - writing letters and working collars are the pleasantist occupations when the children are about - I can write but not read in their noise. - Next Saturday night you and I will be equally happy - you with your lover & I with my husband; - do we not count the hours until meeting! - I cannot bear to stop for this is the last to you as you are! Oh dear! Oh dear!
                                                A loving adieu
                                                            Fanny

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[Fanny to Harriet Platt]

Columbus Nov. 15th ‘46

My Dear H
    I am really quite embarrassed at the thought of beginning a letter to the Squire’s lady far away in Indiana, but trust that you will like occasionally to refresh your memory of Winter scenes in Columbus, with a little of our chit-chat, if you are not too much absorbed in the nice arrangement of domestic affairs, or the yet more interesting occupation, managing a husband. - We waited impatiently to hear your first impressions of Hoosier land though my matrimonial recollections assured me that it mattered little to you whether that sweet place, the first christened "our home" were on a hillside or in a swamp, in city or forest. - Your change of society will furnish you with a deal of amusement, I see. - in your happiness you will forget to criticize but laugh at the primitive customs & I anticipate great enjoyment from your "Pictures of the West," - the first of the series has been laughed over more than once already.
    You ought to have carried a bundle of your eloquent friend’s sermons with you for Sabbath use, - I fear your Episcopal notions will get rusty amongst those heretics. - Why did you think I have any Campbellite predilections? I always placed them on a par with Mormons till I knew Miss Willis, - she quoted so much Scripture lore in defence [sic] of their doctrines & was herself so good, that I left off abusing them & enroled {sic] them amongst the Orthodox.- We have a new clergyman in Mr. Dobb’s place- in manner very graceful & eloquent- have not discovered his mental ability as I have only heard him upon the hackneyed Episcopal doctrine of faith.-
    I am rejoiced that you are boarding for a while- housekeeping with all its lauded independence & social pleasures soon by its petty annoyances convert the "poetry of life" into solemn prose. - I hope you will succeed in getting a colored damsel for a ‘lady help’ would not accord with your taste much better than the mode described by a gentleman from the far West where his wife was obliged to do her own cooking & her cook ‘did’ the washing.
    You will wish as I did one week not long ago when I was without a cook that you might have two pairs of hands, one for kitchen use & another for parlour ornaments.- We have an older more experienced girl now than Anne, -though her first essay at dinner was attended by novel mistakes, - we had company for dinner & when the cover was taken off the sweet potatoes their singular shape drew every one’s attention. - When cut open their still more singular odour caused new wonders. ‘Till it was discovered they were my carefully preserved Dahlia roots instead of potatoes - of course they were sent away among peals of laughter-greatly to the dismay of poor cook.
    You know what a lonely summer I had- not a friend to visit us the whole time Mother & Mr. Platt were gone-after you left-but no sooner was Mother home ready to go to bed early than the house was filled as if by magic - & loud laughing & talking the order of every evening until after eleven o’ clock.
    Mr. Gregory has been here three weeks - a member of the board of equalization- & several of the family during the time- Pamela went away yesterday. - Best of all Rud is here overflowing with fun & amusing stories. - he & Mr. Gregory seem to be running races in talking; - R. is waiting on the ladies as usual & bent on getting a wife as soon as he meets the right one, but to my entire satisfaction she will not be chosen from the Columbus ladies. - He says Uncle will not go to Cincinnati this Winter- consequently not to Charleston.
    Our ‘season’ is commencing in full blast-earlier than usual because of U.S. court being in session this month instead of January. We wish you were at least somewhere in Ohio for then we might see you on such occasions as this- I should like to see your husband taking his stand among the noble looking men here now. - Parties have been select so far & generally for the married & older set of single-The young dancing set have been left out of the whirl this time. - The visitors here now are the most courtly, aristocratic looking people I have ever seen. - Miss Griffin & Barney Fay were married a short time ago, - a quiet, family, evening wedding- & sittin- up for calls a whole week were the accompaniments.
    ‘Twas amusing to hear the apparently delighted Mother congratulate herself upon the acquisition of such as son-in-law;- imagine the group-interesting women-dear Matilda & darling Ophelia q[u]oting "Mr Fay’s" sayings & doings & appealing every moment to his opinion. Oh it was a rich scene!- In the same category might be named our Katy & who were married one Sunday Morn & started forthwith to ‘set up’ for themselves in Marion- she had just reached the advanced age of fifteen !- - Lizzie B. is in a young lady’s third heaven of enjoyment-practicing her speils upon a bevy of beaux from the four quarters of the globe, - it is enough to put one in a good humour to see her on tiptoe tossing back her curls & laughing so musically; - but ‘tis in vain to tell you of all the things - I cannot win back one sigh to the scene of your former conquests- you are happier in that lonely village on the Ohio than all the world could make you elsewhere & Ohio contents me. I looked at you & looked at Mr. Sollace then let you go without one misgiving, though ‘twas by far the most painful parting I have yet endured- The thought that all our pleasant confiding hours were past forever & you were actually gone quite overcame my composure.- I would not attempt returning to our friends in the parlour but left them to take leave when they chose.-
    Mrs. Little returned home without making any visit here-
    Lizzie is in D.- by this time & we hope to see her before she returns to Sandusky.- Rud sees her frequently-thinks her very happy but wonders she is not ashamed of her husband sometimes.- The other Campbell is married to a Sandusky lady.- Mingled together in as much confusion as in my letter are wedding festivities & funerals in real life-Mrs. Lampson’s death is one of the most melancholy that has ocured [sic] for a long time-her husband was in N. York at the time & she will not be buried if possible until his return, - her health has not been good since we called there last Summer though she has been able to walk as far as church occasionally ‘ till within four weeks- was confined to bed only a few days; - she is the most beautiful corpse I ever beheld her long dark eyelashes resting gently on here cheek as if in sleep. Not yet nineteen-is it not sad?-Her boy is beautiful.-
    Write me often as you can amid your bliss & cares & describe your little world to me that my imagination may be relieved in its labours.
    Have you like all young married who have a taste for reading commenced some useful work together in a score of vols! One of Mr. Gilbert’s debtors has paid in books - good, bad & indifferent-so of course I have come in for a share of the profits- they have flooded me with trashy novels & love tales ‘til I wish you were here to help me gallop through them. My Queens of England have proved very interesting & Charlotte Elizabeth’s are good Sunday books.
    Will you dear brother allow your wife to have such a gossiping correspondent? ‘ Tis the nature of poor womankind-the only difference is some gossip much better than others. The "lords of creation" are not free from the failing either much as they laugh at our frailty- they gossip about men & things all over the nation while ours is confined to small matters in our neighborhoods. I have heard my good husband & brother discourse every night at such length upon the N. York election, Mexican War taxes & c & c that I might discourse quite eloquently upon them but it savours too much of the newspapers for which we wives have a mortal antipathy. - I hope you will always claim a corner in Harriet’s letters. - We cherish you both in our hearts as indeed one & we pray that your honeymoon in all its changes may be unclouded & endure forever without an eclipse.
    This letter would be freighted with kind messages if I were to give them all but my sheet is too small.

                                                                    Dear Brother & Sister
                                                                                            Adieu
                                                                                            Fanny

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[Fanny to Harriet]

ISLAND HOUSE
BELLOWS FALLS, VT.

Aug.24th, 1851

My Dear Harriet,
    In this quiet retreat [Island House, Bellows Falls, Vermont] we are spending the Sabbath, - glad of a day of rest after a week of excitement & fatigue. - The whole country is sprinkled over with these attractive resorts for the traveler. - at some we find fashion & society, at others exhilarating mountain air & beautiful scenery & here we find a medium state of things which will give us time to recover our equilibrium. The hotel is a fine new one - a beautiful lawn in front – with a pretty sparkling fountain, - a summer house with a caged eagle its solitary occupant,–gravel walks leading down to the river where you can climb out upon the rocks & watch the boiling stream as it whirls & eddies among the huge mosses that obstruct its way, – or climb [crossed out] wander here & there amid views of hill & dale that are romantic enough to be pleasing yet would seem very tame to one not almost weary of the wonder & sublimity of the mountains. – The company too are genteel elderly people who will not disturb ones afternoon nap or Sabbath meditations so that it seems rightly located between Saratoga & the White Mts. for a kind of Bethel for the votaries [admirers, followers, worshipers] of each to enable them to keep the fourth commandment.
    Last evening is the first time that we have been separated from our children or a party of friends or pleasant acquaintances made by the way, but here we have no one to say good morning to, - consequently some letters will be written that would not be if my room were all hurry & bustle dressing two or three children.
    After breakfast I really looked around with surprise upon my orderly room. – nothing to be picked up or packed away & I bethought me that till church time I might scratch away to friends at home. — We have become perfectly enamored of mountain scenery, — have climbed on foot the highest peak but one of the Green Mountains & on horseback the highest peak in the U.. States. When I left home I had a great longing for the sea breezes but this air is all satisfying to me & we have spent so much time lingering among the hills that the nights are getting too cool for the seashore.
    At the White Mts. we needed fires & plenty of blankets every night but we had exercise enough to warm us by day if it had been many degrees colder. – I wish I had the time & ability to give you a full accurate sketch of the incidents of last week – of the new ideas of sublimity & grandeur which I gained but I know from experience how inadequate descriptions of cataracts & mountain views are to paint the reality. – Only allow me to relieve my overflowing memory by imparting to you some personal adventures without more than naming the localities which my pen would fail to describe. – The first morning after our arrival in this vicinity we paid our respects to the "old man of the Mts." whose stony face you have probably seen in photos, - then several hours we spent at "The Fleume" - a Fall of water through a deep gorge - the heigth [sic] of the Fall is great but the quantity of water is small & spreads itself thinly over broad stone steps slow rippling its way down with a low melodious song which has a wonderfully cheering effect upon the spirits, - while following it up for a mile, the rocky side of the gorge high up on either hand - the whole party broke out into frolic & song waking up the echos with their glee.
    Of another kind of beauty was a cascade we saw during our ride through "The Notch" – it came dashing down a steep precipice through so narrow a bed that it looked like a silver thread dropped into the vale below but much tangled among the rocks by the way. - In the Notch we encountered a heavy thunder storm but we have become such hardy mountaineers that we scarcely noticed it till we found it the general topic the next day. - The only thing I boost [sic] of much is my equestrian feat.- riding eighteen miles in one day, - much of it over a very perilous way ascending & descending Mount Washington, - in one or two places along the edge of a precipice in a narrow path just wide enough for one pony to pass at a time, - the rocks bristling high up on one side of you & on the other a fearful precipice over which one misstep would send you to destruction - & from this giddy height you have an extended view of mountain beyond mountain all in its lonely grandeur spreading out as far as the eye can reach & hiding their heads in the clouds, - not a sign of life but the cavalcade of twenty seated upon their sure footed ponies wending their way upward encouraged forward by their guides who lend a helping hand to the faint hearted.
That day will always be a point of great interest in my annals - for besides climbing Mr. Washington we breakfasted with Daniel Webster. ---------
    William says it is bedtime or I would finish this evening what I began in the morning . You must understand that we left our children at Burlington a week ago tomorrow & it will be a week before we shall see then again. — baby is weaned & as healthy as need be – two teeth through. – But oh dear! How thoughts of all my precious ones do creep over me without my bidding, - yet Nature I have found the best medicine for the wounded spirit. Do write me & tell me what has become of Janette - I fear we are not to meet in our travels. We spent one day at Mt. Albans & called on the Mrs. Saxe who resides there - she resembles your husband very much. - we shall probably see the other in Burlington when we return there. - William’s love & mine to the dear children & Mr. Solace. - I saw a child at church today so much like Hettie little pet Fanny - how does she do!
                                                            Yours
                                                                    Fanny

                                            Brattleboro 26th

Are just starting to Fayetteville - this moment recieved a letter from Janette saying Cyrus is not coming - we should be glad of her company home but have engaged with a party to stop at Utica & visit Trenton Falls - we shall write directly & see how our roundabout way will suit her we go by Lake George

                                                        Yours
                                                                Fanny

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[F. H. Platt to "Sister"]

Columbus. Dec. 30th 1854

My dear Sister,
    It was not for its rarity alone that we welcomed your letter yesterday. - I think we might receive such an one at least every month & the same pleasure be as often repeated.
    We have been talking of you lately & threatening to send a missive after our unanswered letter, but we have nothing more to say about it now.
    I wish you could see our bright sun today, its warm beams on the South side of the house are more like Indian Summer than Mid-Winter, the streets & gardens are swarming with children delighted to escape from the nursery in which a week of dark days has confined them. We shiver when we read the reports of Vermont & Maine thermometers - we have had only a few cold days, none very cold,- no snow yet. I have never enjoyed holidays more than these, simply because we had no grown up doings but gave every thing up to children’s visits & pleasures. The week before Christmas three days were spent at school examinations - very satisfactorily to Papas & Mamas. - & three days warm & pleasant enough to take all the little folks abroad - were spent at the bookstores & toy shops quite as much to the satisfaction of the little people. Christmas morning the centre [sic] table was loaded with presents for the children from the numerous friends they exchange with, which kept them chattering like magpies all day. - in the evening Laura had a small dancing party of her young friends - which formed the crowning joy of "Merry Christmas." - even little Ruddy in his nurse’s arms looked on all the evening, his eyes beaming with delight & his little feet kicking time to the music. Toffee parties & other gatherings among the neighboring children were the order of the week, – no wonder that Fanny & Minnie [?] were under the physician’s care by Saturday as the penalty of so much pleasure.
    Mother has been six weeks in Cincinnati - has seen your William there once - hoped to see him oftener. He was in fine health & spirits when here & made himself pleasantly at home with my noisy children. Willie Gilbert has been a month in Chicago, - has a fine situation in a Large bookstore there. He is admirably trained to his business & thought he could make the best use of his knowledge in a new place. We have had pleasant affectionate letters from him, - the last I have half a mind to send you, free & unstudied as it is, - you may not be interested in tracing through his half serious half playful expressions - a likeness to his Father.
    The last month has been burdened with more than its share of care & labour for my husband & myself.- we have both experienced "Hard times" - though not in the same sense. I will leave William to tell his own story, though he will not send you a picture of his long face - which he has occasionally worn.
    For three weeks nurse & servant-man were very ill in bed with Typhoid fever - you will easily imagine that my hands were full - with Ruddy in his teething, troublesome days, company coming for a day or two & going just in time to get rooms in order for new arrivals, - the sick to be attended to & their work to be done. - but our cook Mary is a host in such an emergency so that we accomplished all that was really necessary - & are none the worse for it now. William begins to count my wrinkles but probably thirty-five years should be more accountable for those than any care I have had.
    Is it possible Mrs. Peck’s beautiful grounds are to pass into other hands? That reverse I have heard with more interest than the closed banks or the suspension of Factories. - That garden with its rare flowers & daintily kept shrubberies seemed to fill the heart of its mistress as children do the affections of a tender Mother, & I can’t think what resource she has without them.
    I like your ideas upon the objects worthy of our time and attention in life. I resolved similar ones in my own mind when long days last Fall were devoted to laying up stores for Winter use. If we would only take the time to furnish our minds that we do in laying up delicacies for the table, costly confectionaries might well be spared in the entertainment of our friends. -
For a few years I expect to be engaged in cares that I would not dispense with, harassing as they are at times, - but when the children are a little grown I hope to study & direct their studies for my improvement as well as theirs.
    Laura says she wonders what Aunty would think of one of her classmates being married this Winter - not yet sixteen. We have hopes that all the school will not follow her example. - Lizzie Baldwin is to be married this week. Jane Gregory has been here several times lately but sister is too much immersed in home cares to visit or write I suppose.

                                                Affectionately,
                                                    F. H. Platt

 

I don’t believe my visage is half as much elongated as Fanny’s imagination might lead you to suppose. But the truth is the present times do not partake much of the comic particularly to the actors on the stage who are dancing to the music of their own interests. But if my countenance does take a sober hue in accordance with the times, it is more from sympathy with others than afflictions of my own - my         are but small --- in fact not to be mentioned in connection with the mass of suffering and distress caused by these times. The poor day laborer who has lost nothing but his employment is really entitled to our sympathy this wintry weather and their name is legion scattered over this broad land. For myself in balancing my account of favors & afflictions, not only for the closing year but for so much of this         life, I find a large balance upon the side of favors. Providence has smiled upon us in various ways. It is only necessary to say wife & family to you to make our hearts beat in thankful unison.
But I have said more than I intended when I began & will stop lest I spoil all of Fanny’s letter - I
                        comply with your request made some time since "To send my signature" if nothing else in Fanny’s letter when at home.
    I send the usual greetings of the season and a happy new year for each & all of our good friends in Burlington. May we all reach the end of the new year in a satisfactory state of improvement.

Love to Doct. H. & the little boys.   Aff’ly by R. H. Platt.

Original in Rutherford Hayes Platt Collection

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