Transcription of letter from Louise Coburn to Ellen Koopman, 1878

Skowhegan Nov. 25 ‘78

My dear Nellie,

It’s sometime since
I got your last letter. I’m home
now and am not going back.
My father and mother wanted me
very much to stay at home, and
I got it into my head that I
ought, and so wrote on the
spur of that thought that I
couldn’t come. But I’ve been
grieving ever since, and would
have taken it back any minute.
I had got so attached to my
scholars and classes that it
seemed as if I couldn’t give them
up. I really enjoyed it much.
And then I hadn’t quite suc-

ceded in some respects as I
thought I would another term.
I’ve been inclined to laugh at
myself. It’s so absurd to make
a decision oneself, and then
raise a moan over it. But
I am always “unstable as water.”
You see I can’t lisp a word
of this to anyone here, and
so I’m making a sort of escape
valve of you.

I shall probably be at
home all winter, unless I go
to Boston as I may for a few
weeks. I’m going to try to
make it a winter of some profit.

I do so hope you will get
some good from your Lewiston
(or Auburn (?) doctor. I am so
rejoiced to hear of any im-
provement in your health. Take
courage, dear – There are so many

women – and men, with feeble
health to start with, who
accomplish beautiful life works.
I know some – A French
writer says “it is wonderful
how much a little health,
well managed, will do for us.”

I hear from Peace there is
some talk of your coming
back and finishing your studies
at Waterville. I haven’t dared
to say anything about it lately,
but it seems to me you ought
to if you can. Perhaps I’m
a little selfish about it – my
name won’t seem so lonesome
in the triennial! But it does-
n’t seem right that, faithfully
and honestly as you have gone
through with the course at
Colby, you shouldn’t be reckoned
as one of her graduates.

I was at Waterville for a
day last week. Saw Peace, and
she seemed and acted as she
used to before the Matthews
dynasty. I went up to College
with Lapty [?] and into Prof. Taylor’s
class. It seemed natural and
yet unnatural. Spoke to the
Prof. He asked me how I liked
teaching. I said, pretty well. He
said he should have thought
I would find it ver-y stu-
pid! I wonder if he finds
teaching stupid. I saw the
three freshwomen – goodlooking
girls – Ah well! things isn’t
as the used to was! especially
in the female department
of Colby. The girls are reviving
Sigma Kappa – Peace and
Hatty have gone into it with whole
hearts. Isn’t that funny?

I’m very glad, and I guess the
poor thing wasn’t so dead that
it couldn’t be resurrected. I
suppose Peace will write you
about it.

Miss Ricker has gone away to
keeping house, and Sophia has
a beau (to speak vulgarly)
and Mr. Hanson has about 50
scholars. Everything seemed queer,
and I realized that I was no
longer, and never could be again
a little wheel within the big
wheel of of Waterville life.

As I had read Avis some time
ago, and we had the book in
the house, I didn’t have to
commit any violation of the laws
of our Commonwealth to ful-
fil [sic] your request. I think it is
a wonderful book and a story
book – which is proved by the

fault found with it. But I think
it is faulty in style, and down-
right too bad in its denouement.
That a woman of genius should
have troubles enough – petty hin-
drances and severe afflictions –
was natural – was ever the story
of a genius, be it man or woman,
different? but the troubles should
not destroy, but ripen and de-
velop the genius – if it is genuine.
A woman with the talent which Miss
Phelps gives to Avis, and who has
gone through the life that
Avis led, ought to be capable
of something really great – infinitely
superior to the artificially got-up
dream of the girl. The trouble is,
Miss Phelps was mistaken about
Avis, she wasn’t a genius at all.
And whatever argument she would
have us draw from her life

of course comes to naught.
What do you think about her?

Your last letter was so pleasant
the more so that I hardly expected
you to write until I had again.
I had not a say about
Charlie’s joining the Kappa’s
I suppose he thought that he
had arrived at years of dis-
cretion, for he never asked my
advice, which would have been
really, I suppose, against either.
But he’s old enough to judge
for himself.

I have heard Miss Ricker
speak so many times of Miss
Day that it seems as if I
knew her. I think she
must be very nice and that
you must like her.

Do you know what I’ve been
thinking of lately, Nell? After

you get through or tired of
Auburn, I would like ever
so much to have you come up
here to stay a week or two –
two or three weeks – to slip
into our groove of life and run
in it a little while – to read
and study a little with me
if you are able – if not to do
what else you please. You’d
slip into our family here ever
so naturally, I know, and we’d
try to make it restful instead
of wearisome to you. Suppose
you be thinking of it. It would
be a real pleasure to me.

Well this letter is big enough
in quantity, surely, whatever be
its quality. I hope to hear
from you again soon –

Your aff. friend,
Louise H. Coburn