Selected Letters of Elizabeth Cady Stanton

To Elizabeth Smith.
Johnstown, June 4,1839.
My dear Cousin,—I learn from your letter that your philosophy has not yet enabled you to combat that hydra-headed monster, "the blues." But I prophesy that his overthrow is at hand. Have your weapons in order. I too will make mine ready, and when I visit Peterboro, which will be soon, by our united efforts we will compel him to depart from the breast of an unsophisticated country girl and seek companionship with the heartless deceiver, the gay coquette, the roue, the blase. I felt relieved to hear that you had received the guitar and liked it so well. When I visit Peterboro, I will give you all the instructions I have received. I play very little—that is, not well. I have taken lessons only six weeks, and in New York I did not find much time to practice. However, I know about half a dozen songs and four waltzes.

To Elizabeth Smith.
Johnstown, July 20,1839.
My dear Libby,—I have determined to depart for Peterboro the first of August. This week I shall probably go to Schenectady to attend the Union College commencement. You need not fear, dear Lib, that I shall be lonely. You do not know me if you think that I am happy only in gay company. A ride on horseback, a long walk with you, or a race with Mag would give me more pleasure than a promenade in Broadway or a party of all the fashionables of that great city. I hear that others too are to spend August with you. We will have a happy time. But what will your mother say to so many wild ones ? But here come the children, and now for a regular romp with them.

From Henry B. Stanton.
New York, January 4, 1840.
Dear Elizabeth,—Since I was thirteen years old I have been thrown entirely upon my own resources, especially as to money. I have never received a dollar's gratuitous aid from anyone, though it has been frequently pressed upon me. I always declined it, because I knew it would relax my perseverance and detract from my self-reliance, and because I was aware that if I would be a man, I must build on my own foundation with my own hands. Since I was thirteen, I have spent about eight years in study, and during this time defrayed all my expenses; have assisted two brothers in acquiring a liberal education; have expended something for a library, etc., and too much perhaps for mere gratification; have been rather liberal in my contributions, giving freely to the missionary, Bible, temperance, and antislavery causes; have sustained some pecuniary losses; been the victim of ill health one entire year; and, though I never made the getting of money for its own sake an object, I have saved from these expenditures about £3,000 in cash. During this time I have met and surmounted obstacles before which many would have quailed. You may ask by what means I obtained the necessary funds to do this. I answer, by the hands, the tongue, the pen, and the ingenuity of a New Englander, trained up by a mother who is the great-great-great-granddaughter of a man who set his foot on Plymouth Rock in 1620.

To John Greenleaf Whittier.
London, July 11 1840.
Dear Mr. Whittier,—Your letter to Henry about your struggles with a poem which we will read so pleasantly and easily by and by reminds me of what Mr. Dyce told me of Samuel Rogers. I have met Dyce several times and caught a glimpse of the poet at a reception. Take heart, for Dyce assured me his idol spent "years'5 on a poem—I think he mentioned sixteen as required for one poetic flight! "As a rule" he writes only four or five lines a day. This beats you, does it not? And now that I am thinking of Rogers' Boswell—as Henry names Dyce—I recall that he said that Rogers held the opinion1 that when there is but one daughter and several sons in a family, the daughter is always of a masculine disposition; but when the contrary is the case, the only son is sure to be more or less effeminate. This was not so with my brother, an only boy among five sisters, all decidedly strong characters. My brother died just after graduating at Union College; I was about eleven years old, but can remember him as a fine, manly fellow, the very apple of my father's eye. He never ceased to mourn his loss. Very truly thine, with Henry's best regards.

To Daniel C Eaton.
London, August 18,1840.
Dear Brother,—This morning, Henry left me here in London to be absent a fortnight in the northern counties of England. I am so tired of moving that I really prize a little rest, though I must confess I feel sad at the idea of being friendless in this great Babel. We got up quite a scene at our first parting. I never loved my country, my home, my friends, as I do now. Verily, "the heart from love to one grows bountiful to all." You will see from the newspapers that Europe has a "rebellious stomach" too—that is, things here are not going on more quietly than with us. The religiose are combating the Established Church, the Chartists are denouncing the government, the Queen is slighting the French, etc., etc. So the world seems to be in a general hubbub, and we need not hope for quietness until the bile of sin all flows back to its great source and centers in its originator, Satan.

To Elizabeth Smith.
Johnstown, March 7,1841.
Dear Lib,—I am greatly distressed that Cousin Gerrit should be suffering so much amidst learned homeopathists without once applying to them for relief. Strange that you who are so famous for new measures should be so obstinate on medical points. I do hope that you and Cousin Nancy will use your influence to prevent Cousin Gerrit from submitting to a scientific death by those allopathic quacks. During my recent visit to Tryphena at Seneca Falls, I saw wonders in homeopathy and animal magnetism, enough to make me wonder that all our learned, though not wise, physicians do not at least examine into the principles. Near Seneca Falls there lives a man who has had rheumatism for twenty years and who was under the care of a "regular physician" all that time. During four months every year he has been laid upon his back unable to move either to the right or to the left without suffering exquisite pain. The poor fellow heard of the angel Homeopathy and placed himself under her guardian care. Now he is not only a convert to the doctrines of the great Hahnemann, but is in comfortable circumstances and has the prospect of at least living the remainder of his days without enduring half the time the torments of the rack.
Good night.

To Henry B. Stanton.
Johnstown, March 16,184.2.
Dear Henry,—The baby's shoulder was bandaged both by Dr. Childs and Dr. Clark. But I thought their bandages were too severe and made the child uncomfortable; so, with my usual conceit, I removed both successfully and turned surgeon myself. I first rubbed the arm and shoulder well with arnica, then put a wet compress on the collar bone, some cotton batting rolled in linen under the arm, and over the shoulder two bands of linen, like suspenders, pinned to the belly band. This we removed night and morning, washed the shoulder with cold water and arnica and wet the compress anew. The surgeons pronounced my work all very good, and this morning the child is dressed for the first time in ten days. I did not write you about the bandaging until I felt sure I had done well. You know it is a great thing to impress husbands, as Susan Nipper did the devoted Toots, with the belief that their wives are indeed wonderful women!

To Elizabeth Smith.
Albany, February 15,1843.
Dear Lizzie,—I intended to start for Boston this morning, but I received a letter from Henry yesterday postponing the journey. But this will give me opportunity for further talk1 with Seward, Joshua Spencer, and Judge Hurlburt. Thank Cousin Nancy for Neil's stockings. Mama is still on the first one. I am sure Cousin Nancy would laugh to see Mama's stripes and shape, tho' she knows something of Mama's skill in shaping. Of this I am sure, Neil grows faster than the stocking. However it will do for his brother!! Farewell.

To John Greenleaf Whittier.
New York, October 10,1843. Dear Mr. Whittier,—Yes, we have Elizur Wright's La Fontaine, but the volumes are in our library at home, and I am far from there at this moment, as you will see by the date of my letter. But you know that our friend's translation is in verse and so is not very close, naturally. Here is a translation of the lines you want, exact enough for your purpose: "Nothing weighs so like a secret. To bear the burden for any time is very hard for women. But in this matter I know many men who are women."1 I hope this information will aid you and that you will soon be in a condition so that you can consult your books again. I hope too that in what you write, you will preserve this skit at the expense of your sex! In this connection, perhaps I ought to call your attention to what you may not know—viz., that some years ago Tom Moore—whom I saw twice and chatted with a few minutes once, one of the reasons why I like to sing his songs (I only wish I could do it as well as he does!)—
Rien ne pese tant qu'un secret; Le porter loin est difficile aux dames;
Et je sais meme sure ce fait Bon nombre d'hommes qui sont femmes.
—Fables, VIII, 6.
wrote a witty rhyme entitled "Proposals for a Gynae-cocracy," from which I take these lines:
As Whig Reform has had its range.
And none of us are yet content, Suppose, my friends, by way of change,
We try a Female Parliament; And since, of late, with he M. P.'s We've fared so badly, take to she's.
The following fact, too, may be of use to you. Henry says that he has read somewhere that an old Scotch philosopher once said to a troublesome lady that "idea is the feminine of idiot." And now I am as ever thine, dear friend of us both.

To John Greenieaf Whittier.
Boston, November 28, 1843. Dear Mr. Whittier,—What you say about the excessive delicacy of that lady friend of yours reminds me of a very pious relative of mine who thought she had a gift for acquiring the modern languages, and decided to try first the German. One day at the very beginning of her studies she came to me in a perturbed state of mind and pointing to the title on the back of a thin German book which she held in her hand, told me the teacher had forgotten it after his last visit, and then she asked me seriously whether I thought she ought to continue to take lessons "from a man who could read such books." I glanced at the title and this is what I read: Dichter Grusse von Hell> which we managed to translate as Poetic Greetings from Hell! I must confess that even I was a little startled at this title, for it took me right back to my dark Scotch Presbyterian days, which are not very far off. But when the teacher came next time, our minds were soon set at rest, for he explained that this was a little collection from the poetry of some German writer whose pseudonym was "Theodor Hell." He added rather wittily: "Oh, Fraulein, we Germans have nothing to do with the Lower Regions, for one of them has said, ' Providence has given to the French the empire of the land, to the English that of the sea, and to the Germans that of . . . the air!' " Then we all laughed, gave him back the compromising book and the lessons went on swimmingly again.

To Lydia Maria Child.
Albany, March 24, 1844. Dear Mrs. Child,—The question of reforming our female attire is not new to me. When, for instance, I was in London three or four years ago, I saw much of a person who had known intimately Lady Stanhope,1 who had died only the year before I was there. She lived for some twenty years in Syria, and used to go about dressed in the costume of an Arabian chieftain. But just what this costume was like, I could not learn. I was further told that she got many of her radical ideas from her father—another instance of a favorite belief of mine that daughters take after their father, mentally. This father, so I learned in London, advocated throughout his long career a number of important reforms, most of which failed of adoption during his life because both he and his isms were pronounced visionary by a narrow public opinion. But since his death, which occurred some years ago, one after another of his pet schemes have been put on the English statute book. So the example of Earl Stanhope should be an encouragement to you and the younger generation of us in our dream for the amelioration of the condition of mankind and womankind.

This is part of a reduced facsimile letter from Mrs. Stanton to her cousin Charles Dudley Miller. It was written in February, 1845.