Abby's journal



October 23, 2017


Steve says that some of my readers may be concerned with the "political correctness" of my having been so much younger than Mathew, when we began courting (and even younger when I fell deeply in love with him, while he was yet humoring me).

Love is love. I have no other answer than that. Soul-mate love is another matter. And I will say no more about it.

But there is something else I want to share with you all, and we have about 15 minutes to give the background and prepare the poem. This is early in 1831. My birthday is June 2nd, and I was born in 1816, so I am now 14 years old. Mathew, born on July 18, 1812, is four years older, at 18. He is now a man of the world, making his fortune in New York City as a future merchant (he hopes), and as a newspaper man (his actual future occupation). I am pining for him. He humors me, reassuring me that he will not be dallying with any of the New York girls (which is true), but primarily, because he is an avowed bachelor. I take it as a promise of fidelity. But he writes to my brother, Francis, and not so often to me. I make excuses for him--I worry sick. I am a little stick figure; I imagine him dancing with the buxom New York City girls, who are sophisticated and will be using their feminine wiles on him. My imagination goes wild--but I trust his heart.

Matt is writing a column, letters to his friend "Tim," who has a little sister, "Sally." It is obvious, to me and my brother privately, that we are the characters; and I take it all very literally! So Matt has to be careful what he writes. He tries to be considerate (given that he is not yet in love with me); but he isn't taking me seriously, yet, as having real, mature feelings. Is all this clear?

So "Enoch" (his name in the series) has reassured "Sally" that he wants nothing to do with the new dance, "waltzing," which is frighteningly intimate. That helped--but he isn't writing me nearly as often as he writes my brother. Suddenly, this poem appears, from Sally!!! Was it written by me, or was it written by Mathew, in character? Steve isn't sure--but look at her last name--"Sally Trot." Here is the dictionary definition of "trot":

1. Archaic: Disparaging. an old woman.
2. Informal. a toddling child.

That means, an old soul who is 14 years old.

Now I will share the poem with you--keep in mind I am answering in-character, since "Enoch" is a country-bumpkin making his way in the big city. But it is not so much in-character that I am not referring to real memories--I loved to work the garden, and Matt would help me...and we did get caught out there in the rain, and I was not shy to take his hand...

Steve has to start dinner, and all of that, for his mother, who is not well today. Part of her wants to die; and the rest of her is terrified of dying. Listen, all of you (but you all already know this)--don't wait until old age to figure out the mysterieis of life and death. Study it now, so you will have a bulwark of faith and knowledge to guide you as you approach the valley of death. Woe be unto those who put off this most royal and most significant of all studies!

The poem worked, by the way. Matt realized I was quite serious. But he didn't tell me he wasn't serious--because he wasn't quite sure he wasn't, and didn't want to burn his bridges. What he did know, was that if he started acting serious toward me at age 14, my father's sword would follow him all the way up to New York--but he didn't want to tell me he didn't love he was wisely walking the line. I, of course, couldn't see the wisdom of this course, at the time. So here is 14-year-old "Sally Trot" with her love-complaint to "Enoch Timbertoes" :-).

Love to each and all,

From Sally Trot to Enoch Timbertoes.

Dear Enoch, 'tis a mortal while
 Since I have heard from you,—
Why can't you, when you write to Tim,
 Send me a letter too?
I've been hoping every mail,
 That's come since you left home,
Had got so many letters in,
 That it would bring me some.

But I suppose the city gals
 Have turned your head around,
And that you'd be ashamed to see
 Me hoe the 'tater ground:
Yet many's the day that you and I
 Have tended hay together,
and hand in hand have scampered home
 In sudden rainy weather.

When did I ever yet refuse
 To have you for my beau?
When did I ever to the ball
 With any other go?
You know I always loved you more
 Than any other man,
You know I love you now, as much
 As any woman can.

And, Enoch, not to write a word—
 I say it is too bad:
You ougnt to know a single line
 Would make your Sally glad:
I've half a mind to let it drop—
 The tear that's in my eye:—
But no—I won—it shant be said
 You ever made me cry.

I spose that as the tarnal gals
 In York have stole your heart,
You always wear your Sunday clothes
 To make them think you're smart;
But that it may remind you how
 You looked when you was here,
I send you back your profile now,
 That you may see it clear.

I know that you dont care a bit
 If I do send it back,
(I've let it fall—you'll see the glass
 Has got a little crack)—
It looks as natral as the hogs,
 Just as you used to be,
When you got smarted up to go
 And take a walk with me.

If when you've looked at it awhile,
 Your heart again should warm,
For her upon whose heart is writ
 Your very face and form—
If you should have a kindly thought,
 For her who loves you still,
You'll sit right down and with your pen
 A sheet of paper fill;

You'll write a long, long letter then,
 And tell me all about
How you get on, and how you live—
Where you go in and out;
And, Enoch, if you do repent,
And say you love me now,
I'll b'lieve it just as much as if
 I saw you make your bow.

And, Enoch, if you write to me,
 Perhaps 'twould be as well,
To send the profile back again,
 And then we needn't tell
The old folks that I ever thought
 Or feared you had forgot
That there was such a gal alive,
 As your own   SALLY TROT.

Down East, April the 19, 1831.