DICKINSON, EMILY E. Autograph letter signed ("Emily E. Dickinson") to EDWARD EVERETT HALE, author and Unitarian Minister (unnamed in the letter), Amherst, 14 February . 2½ pages, 8vo, on two sheets of wove paper embossed with a cameo head of a woman at top left corner, extreme edges of paper a bit age-darkened.
"I LONG TO KNOW A BLESSEDNESS WHICH LEADS MY MANY LOST ONES BY SO GENTLE A HAND"
"I thank you for your kindness. I desired to thank you immediately, but company occurred. That you delayed to reply, was of no consequence, tho' I regret its occasion and trust that those who were ill, have quite recovered now.
"It is sweet when friends are absent, to know that they are at home -- and since your kind assurance, I think of my friend so frequently at a warmer fireside, that it almost endears the memory of his release from this, and I long to know a blessedness which leads my many lost ones by such a gentle hand.
"I thank you for the desire that I might have passed an hour with that departing friend. To purchase such an one I would have offered worlds, had they been mine to bring, but hours like those are costly, and most too poor to buy.
"I thank you when you tell me that he was brave, and patient, and that he dared to die. I thought he would not fear, because his soul was valiant -- but that they met, and fought, and that my Brother conquered, and passed on triumphing, blessed it is to know, and a full heart of gratitude seems slight indeed to bring you, remembering your kindness.
"My thanks are very small, Sir. I wish they were of value, and I would bring the costliest, and offer them to you, but may I bear them witness by any word or deed, I shall be very happy. Very sincerely yours, Emily E. Dickinson."
The longest and, in many ways the most interesting of the three surviving letters from Dickinson's correspondence with Hale (best known for his short novel, The Man Without A Country). Emily began the correspondence on 13 January 1854 (Letters, ed. Johnson, no. 153), inquiring about the passing of her former Amherst friend and confidant, Benjamin Franklin Newton (1821-1853). Newton had studied law with Emily's father's firm of Dickinson & Bowdoin in Amherst, and was admitted to the bar in 1850. After securing an appointment as state's attorney, he moved to Worcester and died there on 24 March 1853. He is reputed to have encouraged Emily's literary efforts. The present appears to be her reply to Hale's response (apparently not extant). One further brief letter, undated, to Hale, is in the Lilly Library (illustrated on the cover of the exhibition catalogue entitled Mapping American Literature, June-July 1986, not in Johnson). That letter, curiously, is signed "Emilie E. Dickinson." The full form of signature on that and the present letter are highly unusual.