After my last post in which I included snippets from Caroline Healey Dall’s diary, I thought I would post a few of her diary entries in their entirety.
The first, posted here, is from near the beginning of her diary. She was fifteen-years-old and living on Beacon Hill in Boston, MA.
excerpt is from “Daughter of Boston: The Extraordinary Diary of a Nineteenth-century Woman” edited by Helen R. Reese
Sept. 2nd 1838-
“I have been wondering what it is that raises my spirits, and encourages me in the task which I have undertaken? Certainly neither father nor mother, brother nor sister, have ever expressed any interest in what I have written, or ever desired to read anything I have published, – It is strange, I think I should take pride & pleasure in the virtuous endeavors of a child of mine- and this apathy , this indifference breeds coldness- on my side, and there is no sympathy between me and my parents.
My mother oftentimes expresses harsh, disapproval of my love of study, and her daily life seems to express but one wish- that I were as fond of housewifery as my sister Ellen. She knows not the depth of wound she probes, and the unbidden tears, which often spring to my eyes, are imputed childish weakness- Why then should I persevere, if those whom I wish to honor, seem insensible to my truly filial feelings? Because, in my father’s anxiety to procure me every literary advantage, in his kind smile, and gentle voice, I find at least one assurrance that he will joy in his child’s success, and grieve for her disappointment.
People talk of literary struggles, and of the trials which a man who chooses this department of life, has to endure. These do not spring from the nature of literature, but from the interference of friends, the obstacles raised by the envious, and the discouragements, the cold indifference, with which his labors are regarded by the very ones who should be the first to support and aid him.
Nothing is easier, than this, if he be a man of talent, he forgets in the inspiration of his genius, the disagreeable manual labor, to which his inclination subjects him. This is a pleasure & not a task.”