|HOLYOKE SEM., May 19, 1857.
My Dearest John. --What shall I say? I have read your letter and my heart weeps. I do love you with the same unchanging love that I pledged you three years and a half ago. But how shall I convince you that my heart is true? Words cannot do it -- but could you look within. I know you would see that my John fills all embraces all next to my God. Not for a single moment have I felt that my whole heart did not go out toward you. I have feared that I should again enshrine an idol in my heart. Oh I had one once. Those E. B. letters were all written to him whom I loved more than Him who gave him to me. You do not know how guilty I was. I was conscious of my sin, and prayed against it -- but still I worshipped the creature. My idol was served for a little while you know it was. And though it was like giving up life itself. I do think I gave you my idol up to God. Since those days of deep darkness -- I have loved you -- but I have not idolized you as I did before. If it has been my daily prayer that I might always be kept from idolatry -- I am proud of you -- and you do not think I am. I know it is not strange that you think so for I think I have not told you so as I used to. I dare not trust my weak heart. I do not pass a day without the fear arising that I shall have a wicked pride -- that I shall forget that it is God who has given you talents and influence. Oh -- I despise such pride. I do desire to feel humble. I am proud in one sense, as opposed to being lifted up. Yes Dearest, I love you & I am proud of you. I know I do not seem to you or to myself as I used to. But for all that my heart has not grown cold. My love is stronger & holier than it was two years ago. How I love you as belonging to God as well as to myself. I shall never be false to you. Oh, John, why have you been suffering these things to trouble you? Do you think I can forget you? I believe I know what it is to love you truly. I am happy in thinking of you. My happiest thoughts are of you. I cannot live without you. There is nothing hidden from you. My secret feelings are not secret to you.
You allude to my conduct last vacation. I think perhaps you refer to my speaking about teaching. Oh John -- do not for one moment think that if it were given me to choose between becoming your wife next fall and becoming a teacher I should not unhesitatingly decide for the first. I remember well how I felt at the time of that conversation. It seemed to me that you would like to have me teach, provided the place was a good one & I have always felt since I have been here that it would be gratifying to you to have me return as a teacher. & from that feeling has arisen the desire ever to do so. If we were sure that we could not be settled before Spring, I think it would be better for me to teach than to remain at home. I have no desire so strong as to be united with you. And when I think that it may not be permitted before another Spring I cannot endure the thought -- and when I think that it may be in a few months I am so happy that I cannot without great effort discharge my school duties. Perhaps my last letter did seem to be wanting in spirit. I felt very tired when I wrote it -- & it did not satisfy me. I read it over and it seemed to me that there was not as much heart in it as I wished there was, but I had not time to write another.
My labors will be greater this term than ever before. I feel anxious to do as well in my studies as I can for I know the teachers expect a great deal of me.
I have had a table given me and one or two other things appear as if there was some confidence in me at least. The girls say that I shall be invited back as teacher next year but I don't expect it. I wish I could see you and tell you all about these things. It is not pleasant to occupy a position which others covet, & which might subject one to envy & criticisms.
To-morrow we have our first class meeting & I anticipate trouble from it. From some whisperings I suspect that I am a candidate for the Presidency.* There are two parties -- electioneering &c. What shall I do if I am elected? I feel that I cannot accept the offer. I do not think I have a single enemy in the class but there are a few as I learn who are anxious to get the power into their own hands. I hope I shall have decision & strength and wisdom to do right. Oh, I [wish?] to tell you of these things for there are no other one to whom I can speak of them. Pray for me that I may.
The history of my friend's trials to wh. I alluded in my last involved things of such a nature that upon reflection it seemed best not to commit it to paper. Things that we could better talk about than write.
I have been interrupted two hours since beginning this letter and have been obliged to finish it in the greatest haste. My love I will not neglect you. Oh tell me when my letters seem cold. My heart is always warm. I love you increasingly. Forgive me that I have pained you, I have done it unconsciously. I love you, love you. When shall I see you? Oh, I shall have so much to [?] into your heart. I must bid you "good night".
I am your own Louisa
Shall I hear from you on Sat.? If there is anything still
unexplained, oh tell me. I do love you & you must not
* Mrs. Helen French Gulliver, a classmate of Louisa Dickinson, wrote in 1881: "Louisa entered the Senior Class, a stranger. The class numbered nearly sixty, and there were many women of fine abilities and lovely character in it. In a very brief time Louisa took, unconsciously to herself, the first place among us. . . . The class showed its appreciation of her by desiring to make her Class President. She declined the honor, believing it should be given to one who had been a member of the class from its first year."