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Lowell History: Mill Boy Letters

Lydia Gilman, July 5, 1833



                                          New Bedford,   July 5th 1833

My dear Brother,

   I have just received a letter from my husband and hasten to inform you of its contents, I have just left the stage which brought me from Dartmouth 4 miles from here where I have been to pay a visit to a cousin of mine, & spend the Fourth of July & and I have had a very delightful time, Harriet and myself in company with a party of our young relatives and friends went to take a sail yesterday (Independent day) we went about five miles out into the Bay and landed (if it may be call’d landing) on a large rock called “Dumpling rock” on which is a Lighthouse the lower part of it is finished for the family who keep the Light, and they frequently entertain large sailing parties we had a spyglass and climbed up to the top of the house and had a most delightful view of the surrounding country, Islands, sea & ships. We thought of you dear Alfred many times in the course of the day and often spoke of you, and your brother Stephen was not forgotten on that pleasant day, the Gentlemen call’d for dinner and then we all went out to try our skill in catching fish---but enough of this, you will say write something of more consequence.

    I was intending to stay at Dartmouth longer but my husbands letter has altered my determination, tis only 2 hours since I received it and now my arrangements are all made for my return home. you know a wish half expressed from Stephen have more weight with me than all the arguments that others can suggest. Stephen has given up the idea of coming to Boston and wishes me to return home in company with our mother, he writes the children are all well. Helen says “she was willing for Ma to go away but she did not think she would stay so long and make her feel so” and from the tenor of his letter she seems to have expressed her Fathers feelings exactly and I cannot prolong my stay for my own pleasure when Stephen wishes so much for my return.

   We arrived safely at this place Wednesday of last week, found our friends well and happy to receive us, my health is as good as when I left Lowell, Harriet is very well, our friends will not listen a word to her going home till autumn, if she does then it is doubtful, we have a cousin, (Miss Abigial Hendrick) of her age and a pleasant companion for her, she is a fine singer, I think you would be almost charmed with her voice, ‘tis such an one as I seldom hear, she plays the piano with taste and skill. I am urged very much to make my visit longer, but my duty and my inclinations both point to the same path for me to pursue. I must forego the pleasure of visiting Lowell for the superior one of meeting my dear husband and children at home. I intend to leave town tomorrow morning and spend a few days Rochester, and set out for Boston next Tuesday, and probably arrive the same evening. I wish you inform your Mother that I am only waiting to give her time to arrive in Boston, were it for having her company home with me I would start for home tomorrow and leave my compliments to those friends that I have not visited, but I will have patience and hope to meet Mother in Boston by Tuesday or Wednesday, Stephen thinks it would be less trouble to us both for to put up with me at Mrs. Perkins, Federal Str. 46. Give much love to all our brothers & sisters from me, tell them I have anticipated a great deal of pleasure in visiting them with Stephen, and I still hope
to realize it at some future period. Give my love to Hannah and family, not forgetting Mr. Adams, as your friend I regard him affectionately, and esteem him highly for his own sake, do always mention him in your 
letters which I hope will be neither “few nor far between” they shall always be answered my word for it.

   And now my dear Alfred receive my kindest wishes, may you be happy with the fair girl you have chosen to be your bosom companion may she be your solace and joy in life’s saddest hours and your pride and chief treasure in your days of prosperity, for me, I shall long remember the many days we have passed together and my beloved brother’s attentions. That rendered those hours so agreeable. Stephen writes in terms expressing obligation to you for the gratifications you have afforded his “Lydia Gilman

P.S.  I believe I left an article of clothing among Hannah’s clean clothes-if so pleas to seal it in course paper and send it by stage to Mrs. Perkin’s. Harriet is at Dartmouth or she would desire much love to you all  L.O.G.

Sanders Bradbury, March 20, 1834



                         New York, March 20th 1834

“Oft does my heart indulge the rising thought, Which still recurs, unlooked for and unsought,
My soul to Fancy’s fond suggestion yields,
And roams romantic o’er her airy fields.
Scenes of my youth developed crowd to views,
To which I long have paid a last adieu”.
Friend Gilman,  When I read the above lines I was carried in imagination back to the happy days of youth, but it was but a dream, for although pleasant it would be once more to revisit the friends of my younger days, yet, in all probability I shall not again, for many long years if ever. It is nearly or quite four months since I received your favor, and I have much to reprove me for not writing you ere this.  I received your letter with pleasure, and read it with surprise. What! Married? I exclaimed, -well, good by to ye, says I, if
you are indeed gone. ‘Twas then, friend Gilman.
           “I vowed that your case should ne’er be my own.”
But, hold,- I had half forgotten that we are all erring and insolute at best, and that it may not be impossible that---but I won’t mention it. long life and a happy one be the fate of you, my old friend, is my sincere wish, and that the partner you have chosen for life may ever be what, no doubt busy fancy had pictured her to you. You speak of being the first of our number to burst asunder the cords of single blessedness – and in all probability I shall be the last, for the most obscure individual I shall live and die. If, however fate should ever deign to cast one smile upon my cheerless path, I may change the seeming contents of my life, but as fate has always proved upon my existence as though I were not fit to live, I have but few anticipations as to my future life. And when I found myself in New York, I thought to myself that I had wandered,
         “From all affection, and from all contempt.”
However, think not that I would curse the land of my birth. No, but however obscure and unassuming I have endeavored to be, yet I have not lived without my enemies, and those too who have used unfair means to crush me forever. Should I ever return to New England, I shall still remember those who have injured me, and I shall not forget those whom I love and respect, and for whom I shall ever cherish a cordial remembrance.
            I wrote to friend Cornelius a week or two since, but I have received No answer, and I have not heard from him since I was at Lowell. What this insufferable silence on his part can mean I cannot imagine.
May be that he has become offended at me, and has therefore resolved never to write me again, but if such is the fact, I am utterly at a loss to know for what it is. I am unconscious of any thing which has been done on my part to cause this sudden reversions of feelings, if such is the case, and I can think of nothing that should detain him from writing to me if he thought me worthy his notice. Give my sincere respects to him, and request of him that he would favor me with an explanation.
            Prescott you say has gone to Boston.—I have never written to him or he to me, and I believe he does not so much use the quill as the rest of us, but is more of a reader of others’ ideas. Success to him.
            My cousin George arrived in the city a few days since and informed me that you had sold out the “Album” to Meder & Brown, and that the Mercury was in the hands of Knowlton & Huntress. This is quite a change in affairs. All for the best no doubt. We have had a dull winter in New York, and some poor Journeymen  Printers have seen hard times. In fact, I believe that nearly one hundred have enlisted in the army or navy since last fall. Pell & Brothers, who formerly employed from 40 to 70 yrs. Have failed and now employ none. Conner & Cooke, who employ generally from 75 to 125 have now about 28, and many others have entirely stopped in business, and all is owing to the removal of the Deposits as politicians tell us. –We have had high times in New York, but as spring begins to open, business begins to assume its worst activity. The steamboats are now busily shiping on the North River as well as on the Gort, and people from all parts of the country are flocking into the city by thousands. New York, friend G. come’s with it a different appearance from what the moral and Sober little town of Lowell does. You may well imagine that for just
Contrast this city with a population of from 220, to 240,000 with your town of 12 or 13,000 and ones imagination soon figures the (contrast) I wanted , friend G. give you a description, in miniature of this godly city, but to do that I should have commenced at the beginning of my letter, for I have not room now to do it, and must therefore defer it until a more convenient opportunity. Give my best respects to all friends,
and write me as soon as convenient/not following my example as to slowness./ Direct as before, and give me all the intelligence you can possible get Into one sheet. As for me I find,
            “My pen is at the bottom of the page
            Which being finished, here my letter ends;
            Tis’ to be wished it had been sooner done,
            But letters somehow lengthen when begun.”
As Byron says. However I have written all I can think of for I am rather dull for ideas today, being about half sick, so you must excuse me, with promise that I shall do better next time.

                                             Yours in truth-
Alfred Gilman J.                     Sanders Bradbury

Jonathan S. Herpin, March 6, 1833



                                              Exeter March 6, 1833
Dear Sir
   I recd, your letter in due course, and am much obliged to you for the information which is communicated. I am more and more convinced of the necessity of giving up my present establishment and I would either
dispose of it to an enterprising printer, who doubtibly would do well with it, or if I intended to remove to another town and establish a paper, would remove my establishment also, existing of a variety of job and other type. I am not now prepared to answer you directly but in time in about 10 or 12 days to visit your town when I shall probably soon be able to form an opinion as to the expediency. I am now disposed to think quite favorably of your plan. If I should [-----?] to remove, it would be proper for it to take place at the close of my second volume on the 1st of May next.

   I would visit Lowell earlier, but our town meeting takes place next Tuesday, when it is proper that I should be present. Perhaps, however, I may leave on Wednesday, and be in Lowell on Wednesday evening from Boston.

Yours Sincerely

Jno. S. Herpin

Israel Herrick, August 11, 1833



                                              Roxbury  Aug 11th 1833

Dear Sir

I expect that you have been informed before this that I was in this place. My departure from Lowell was sudden and not long contemplated if, had it not have been I should have called upon you and informed you of it. The paper which I received at your office I gave to an acquaintance of mine until the time should expire that I had paid for it. If he has not called for it and has said nothing concerning continuing it you will please stop it immediately and I will pay you for the extra time which is not paid up to this time.

As for the news of the day I have nothing interesting excepting the drought which in this place is quite pinching. But if I did not feel myself completely incompetent I would like to write an article for your genteel readers of the Album. But oh! What a thing it is to be entirely destitute of that thing called – Genius.

As I did not know where the person to whom the enclosed letter is directed to might be at this time I thought probably you might and if you do and will forward it to her you would confer a favour on your

                                             Israel Herrick

William A. Gilman



                                              Bangor May 20th 1833

My dear Cousin

I take this opportunity to write to you as I cannot see you at present but hope to see you soon in August. I expect to come to Boston & Lowell. To Boston to see the place and to Lowell to see you and the rest of the folks. I shall not stay but a few day at either place.

I want to see very much indeed. What is the stage fare now from Lowell to Boston and where shall I go to in Boston to find the stage. I shall make my way to Lowell as soon as possible after I get to Boston. I hope I shall find you all well. Joseph will be married soon. I hear that you are to be married soon too. You must excuse the shortness of my letter and write an answer much longer to make up. I wish you would send
me your paper and I will pay you for it when I come to see you. I work with Wm[-----?] now he gives me one Hundred Dollars a year. Mr. Hill give me 35 dollars. give my love to all the folks excepting the same

From your ever affect. Cousin
Wm. A. Gilman
Alfred Gilman

P. S.   Please to excuse my bad writing as
the pen is not the [----?] [----?]

Yours    Wm. A. Gilman