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[postmark: MELROSE FEB 2 MASS.] [postage stamp: green UNITED STATES POSTAGE TWO CENTS] [partial postmark on back flap: FEB 2 88]
92 Mt. Vernon St.,
[partial postmark: 9 PM]
[in pencil at upper right: #16]
Melrose, Feb'y. 2, 1888.
My dear Friend,
I was snowed in at Andover, N.H., three days, last week. The town is in a charming valley, and in summer, is a paradise. In winter, it is the exercise-ground, the play-house, of every wind that is let loose from the cave of Eolus. They heaped the snow in the village last week, until the lower stories were buried, and the town, from my window, seemed to have sunk. The Unitarians have an academy there, but it held no sessions for three days. The students could not get from the boarding house to the recitation hall. Twenty feet of snow lay between. [deletion: When]
When I found myself a prisoner, Thursday morning, I went to work with a [deletion: work]will, to dispose of my unanswered letters, which occupied me till Friday night. Most of them related to other people's affairs - trials, perplexities, sorrows, bereavements, poverty, &c. I worked over the package of over seventy letters, nearly forty hours, till they were done. And then I fell into this train of self-accusation:
"There, that is the way I have spent my life. Everybody feels at liberty to undo their budget of miseries into my lap and to fasten them on my back. I have accomplished nothing, all my life, but I might, but for making such a fool of myself. Here I am, today, not doing my own will, but continuing to potter away at other people's work. I am simply a docile
patient old ass, bending my back to everybody's burden, and contented with any little musty wisp of straw that any one chooses to give me. It [deletion: is]was a mistake that I was born, and I wish my mother had strangled me at birth".
I grew so savage with myself that I didn't sleep Friday night. I wouldn't have occupied the same bed with myself that night, if I could have helped it. I could hardly bring myself to a proper degree of self-regard, so as to dress myself decently for the next day. "What does it matter, you old fool, how you look?" was the brutal question I proposed to my reflection in the mirror. After breakfast, I took out of my bag a little pamphlet-like book somebody had sent me from Chicago, and which I had tossed into my bag at leaving
home. I opened at the first chapter. "Blessed be drudgery!" by Wm. C. Gannett, Kate Gannett's brother, I read, - and read - and read, till I had gotten through the eight chapters, and the 130 pages. All the while, myself-disgust abated - I ceased to rebel against my own company - I felt more kindly to myself - I was comforted, and my fragmentary life became semi-satisfactory. For two or three days, I trod on air.
I wished to bring you a copy of the little book this morning, which contains much that you will enjoy, and much that you will not care for. But I am detained, and so I mail it. Lloyd Jenkin Jones, who has written the book with Will. Gannett, is Welsh, a Unitarian minister, and sometimes is royal. But Will. Gannett is royal of nature - made, not out of common clay, but of the finest porcelain.
[written vertically on page] with much love to your good sister and to Addie Manning, I am yours in love, M.A. Livermore
Livermore, Mary A. and Wellesley College Archives, "Letter from Mary A. Livermore, Melrose, Massachusetts, to Anne Whitney, Boston, Massachusetts, 1888 February 2" (1888). Papers of Anne Whitney (MSS.4): Correspondence. 925.