The Papers of Joseph Henry


51. TO HARRIET HENRY

My Dearest

I have written to you every day since my arrival and therefore this is my fourth epistle I hope you will receive the whole number though they contain nothing of importance. I say nothing of importance meaning thereby of interest to any Person but yourself for I am happy in beleiving that every thing however, trifling which relates to me, is of high importance to you. And though it is impossible that I should appear in your physical eyes quite as great and as faultless a man as I may in the mental vision of those who have only heard of me from a distance yet I feel assured and rejoice in the assurance that I ↑am↓ very dear to you and that you are even more tenderly and anxiously attached to me on account of the faults of character which must be glaringly exhibitid to one in as close communion with me as you are. I was in my early life exposed to many temptations and I can never be sufficiently thankful that I have been preserved as I have been. "You may love me for the dangers that I have escaped and I will love you for pitying them."
I think the transfer to Washington when once it is made will be much less disagreeable than you immagine. You[A] as well as myself will be roused to greater effort— Your time and thoughts have been for several years past engrossed necssisarily with the ↑whole↓ care of the Family the physical and moral developement of our children, but as they grow older their intellectual faculties wil require more attention. You will be called on to devote with them considerable time to reading and mental operations which will rouse your energies in the direction in which they ↑you↓ are well qualified to excell. Mary will soon be old enough to take an interest in works of ↑a↓ higher order than those which now occupy her attention— She wll read to you while you are sewing and your comments will as they do now but in a higher degree expand her mind. We must endeavour to get for our little Girls a Governess in the Family—if possible a Lady of good education, accomplished maners and of a good heart and temper. Mary requires a good deal of attention as to her carriage & her personal habits as to ease of action—Helen will require less of this and Carry least of all; she is a Lady born. The substratum ↑foundation↓ and the material of the character of each is admirable and they only require a little attention as to the embellishment. Will. I presume will be much pleased with the expected visit of Richard.[1] I must take him more under my charge and perhaps I can do this more effectually by carrying him with me when I travel we will then be more thrown together and a ↑more↓ free communication established.
I am now going to the Treasury office and shall not return until 3 O'clock[B] when I may perhaps scribble a few more lines. I start for home this evening or in the early train tomorrow. I expect to be in Princeton on Friday but should I not arrive until saturday do not be uneasy— For a time adieu—
Just through dinner—was quite hungry spent the morning in the west part of the city visited J. Q. Adams[2] in his 80th year remarkable memory related several interesting annecdotes of history— Exhibited to him my plans of the Smithsonian Institution with which he was pleased.[3] I promised to furnish him with a copy— I shall not be able to get off until tomorrow morning.
The day has been warm but plesant the spring is quite late for this place though vegetation is much ↑perhaps I should say considerably↓ farther advanced than in Princeton. I [Text omitted. -Ed.][C] my letter to Mrs Ludlow yesterday so that she will be prepared for my arrival tomorrow.
I hope to find you very much better on my return and shall be much disappointed if I do not receive the accustomed greeting in[D] the entry when I enter the door. Give my kind regards to Mary Ann LaGrange[4][E] and thank her for the use of her watch it has done me good service. I was however obliged to purchase a key for the article.
Kiss all the children for me and ↑receive↓ the unnecessary assurance that I am as ever

Your—H.

Family Correspondence, Henry Papers, Smithsonian Archives.
    [1] Presumably a son of Anna and John Ludlow.
    [2] John Quincy Adams, representative from Massachusetts and former president of the United States. Henry had first met him in 1836. Adams played a major role in debates over the Smithson bequest, which he thought should be used to fund a national observatory. DAB; Henry Papers, 3:135; 6:464n.
    [3] In his diary, Adams noted a visit from Henry, "who h[ad] a long conversation with me on the management of the Institution—very edifying." In his more formal diary, Adams noted that Henry "conversed in a very edifying manner upon the proposed management of that Establishment" but then continued: "Sunk as I have always apprehended it would be, into a nest of jobs for literary and Political adventurers." Diary entries for May 5, 1847, from "Rubbish IV" and Adams's formal diary, respectively, Adams Family Papers, Massachusetts Historical Society; both are quoted in Wilcomb E. Washburn, ed., The Great Design: Two Lectures on the Smithson Bequest by John Quincy Adams (Washington, 1965), p. 30.
    [4] An old friend from Albany. Henry Papers, 2:43n.
    [A] Altered from f
    [B] Altered from to
    [C] Hole in paper.
    [D] Altered from on
    [E] Altered from Lagrange