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":
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 me...so 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,
A POETICAL EPISTLE,