Letter from Amherst College student to his sister




Letter from Amherst College student to his sister


Brothers and sisters
Amherst College -- Students
Amherst (Mass.)


Chatty letter describing the setting in the dorm room, the "Millerites" (Adventists) in Amherst, textbooks being used, etc.


Packard, Abel Kingman, 1823-1891


Jones Library Special Collections




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Rudman 2-23

Original Format



Amherst College Tuesday eve Feb 1843
Dear sister Lucy,
Here I am (8 o’clock) with my table before
the fire, seated in an armchair, an “old arm chair” that has
been in college long enough to tell a great many college stories
if it had the gift of speech. And suppose I should just
describe to you the table I am writing upon – well then it is a
common pine table oblong in shape three feet one way & two feet
(wanting three inches) the other. on the side of the table from
the fire is the first vol. of Scott’s Commentary – at one end of that
is a copy of the Village Hymns & at the other end another small
book (Beauties of Jude Story). Before the Bible is a tumbler
containing shot, buttons, pencils, pens, scissors, knife, letter folder
sealing wax, & court--? plaster; also (on each side of the tumbler) a
sand box & a sort of wooden cup containing seals, wafers, wax &
four cents; also (before the tumbler) my inkstand & pen wiper.
before the whole my lamps & pen wiper – at one end (east)
of the table I am sitting with my paper upon the portfolio
made by your hands. side of the portfolio is the little book with
with the pasteboard cover, which (by the way) is now pretty
much filled. So now, I think you must have a pretty deffinite
idea of my table. I am alone, & tis very still, only the fire is
singing a curious song – the fire – not a great fire in a great
big place like the one you are sitting before, but a little fire
(two sticks & a brand) in a little fire frame two feet & two inches
high – fire enough to keep warm such a night as this; & it

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is really quite a comfortable looking place. I don’t believe
there is another room in college that would look so pleasant
at least to me, as this. Just now B Sanford who sent his
love to you is here though I don’t stop writing & would
like quite as well to see you & by the way if you should
soon I could treat you for I just bought 2 cts worth of
molasses candy of a great negro. but you are getting tired
with this. Let me tell you that I belong to a singing school.
We got a first rate teacher, whom we pay a dollar a peice, a first
rate class & c. We meet twice a week (an hour each time) for the
rest of this term & a part of next. I’m going to see if I can’t make
out that mother was mistaken when she said I couldn’t
make a singer. I sing sometimes down to Mrs. Cooley’s & I think
I improve a little, but very slowly. And yet I think I can sing
a great deal better than I could a year ago; or rather perhaps
I don’t sing so bad now as I did then.
Were any of the Millerites in your neighborhood expecting
the world would beging to burn the 15th of this month. About not
quite (perhaps) all of those about Amherst did. there are a
very few if any Millerites in Amherst, but in a number of
the neighboring there are a great many (or at least have been until
the 15th I don’t know how it is now); In some places it has
absorbed all thought & business. In some places expecting
to be caught up into the air on the 15, they had made their
white robes! actually & litteraly made their white robes ready
for ascention & the day before the great day many of them went
from their own towns to a town not far from here that they

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might be together. In Shrewsbury (one of our scholars, who
has been teaching there, says) they watched the grave yards.
One man from Hadley who had a number of children in Amherst
went through here to collect them. what they say or think
now I don’t know. The learned blacksmith from
Worcester, whom you have often heard of as having acquired
something like fifty different languages & that too cheifly while
engaged at his trade, lectured here last week & was very
interesting (his knowledge of history is really surprising –
He is a smar[t loo]king man & his hands don’t look as if they’ve
handled the iron much lately, indeed he has not. he has been
engaged lately in literary labors lately, translating
from the German & other languages for the papers, delivering
lectures before lyceums & c. I should think from
your letter you must have fine times at home reading & c. Indeed
I really think you are about the happiest folks in the world.
I have written two compositions this term. One of them called
the “Signs of the times” & the other was on “Personal Influence”
which last Stockbridge says is about as good as he has heard
from me although he allows that isn’t saying much-
I suppose you know that tomorrow, when you will get
this letter, is fast day. We shall have none but religious
exercises & I hope it will be an interesting day. Indeed it
ought to be when we know so many are praying for us.
We shall have a prayer meeting in the forenoon which no one
will be obliged to attend, in the afternoon an exercise (preaching)
which all will be required to attend as on the Sabbath.

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I expect you have made a mistake in the length of this term. it is
fifteen weeks I think as you will see by looking on the catalogue
so that the term is about eight weeks longer. I want to know
whether or not my History of England is at home. and also to
know where my French Dictionary is is. Aunt Lucy did have
it. We study French here next term. I suppose you
have first rate sleighing as it is here. and to day or this morning
is a most beautiful one. I must send love enought to last
three weeks I hope Mothers eyes have become good enough to
read this. So good bye sweet sister & good by all.
Brother Abel


Packard, Abel Kingman, 1823-1891, “Letter from Amherst College student to his sister,” Digital Amherst, accessed June 30, 2022, https://digitalamherst.org/items/show/901.