My Dear Henry…you fiendish rascal

I have always found Lucy Chase to be one of the most interesting women represented in our manuscript collection.  Lucy was born in 1822 to a successful Worcester family.  She spent time teaching in contraband camps and freedman schools in the South, and travelled across Europe with her sister for 5 years.  She was intelligent, well-educated, and a talented artist as well.  Her writings, included in the Chase Family Papers here at AAS, show her interest in women’s suffrage, religion, abolition and social reform.

What I appreciate most about Lucy is the way her intelligence comes through in her writing.  Always witty and not one to hide what she thinks, you never know what you’re going to find in Lucy’s diaries and letters.  Recently a reader came across this letter written by Lucy.  Oh, unrequited love. 

My Dear Henry,

I am grateful for the frankness manifested by your note of this morning, and will attempt to use the same candor and freedom in my reply.

You say that you once loved me from the bottom of your heart.  Would to heaven you would say that you love me so still!  Yet if your affection has waned, it is still pleasing to think that there was a time when you reciprocated the ardent love which I have always felt for you.  In delicate as it may appear, I cannot refrain from making the confession that my maiden heart has from the time when my eyes were first blessed by the sight of you, always loved you with deep and unparalleled devotion.  And I have hoped that you would return my love – especially as I thought that your brother the doctor would use his influence to promote a match between us.  It is for this, ungrateful being, that I have preserved my virgin heart unbroken – that I have kept it whole and entire until it should become one with yours.

It is for this, perfidious wretch, that when ten million lovers were sighing at my feet in the fair city of brotherly love, I rejected them all, in the hope that I should be united with you when I returned.  It is for this, you fiendish rascal, that I postponed an answer to the attached Edward Lewis, when he offered his noble heart a willing gift to mine – it is for this, O goose and gooney hopper, that, without definitely accepting or rejecting my Edward, I came here, with merely an understanding with him, thinking that, if you would offer yourself I would refuse his attentions!  And this is the return you make for my affection!  This is the reward of my devoted love!  But I will have sweet revenge – I will marry Edward Lewis out of spite!  And then see if you can be happy!  When you see me, like a sweet flower, pouring all my sweetness upon Edward, and pouring none on you, when I withdraw from you the sunlight of my smiles and the deep music of my voice – when I prove to you by my whole conduct that I care not a fiddlestick’s elbow for you – then, then will vengeance overtake you!  Then will you pine away in sorrow and remorse, – then will you find life unsupportable when not cheered by my presence, – and in sack cloth and in ashes in deep humiliation and unavailing grief will you drag out the miserable remnants of your days!  You do not, like my Edward, navigate in a splendid cast iron steamboat but yours, – thank Heaven that I see in it its true character!, – yours is a long, low piratical schooner and a black flag is floating from its masthead!  Oh, may the guileless Miss Whitney escape from your snares, – and may you sail, undecided and alone, over stormy, tempestuous seas!  As for me, my worn heart “like the dove of the deluge panteth for rest.”  I will fly to the arms of my Edward; – I will secure the best cabin in his cast iron steamboat, and in bliss and in peace will we glide over the waters of time.

I want to say ten thousand billion more things, but have not room.  I am

Edward Lewis’ till death,

Lucy Chase

Next Monday I’ll be sharing more information about this letter, and the story behind it, so stay tuned!  And in the meantime, if you’d like to learn more about Lucy and the rest of the Chase family, check out the collection description here.

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