MISS SARAH FULLER [Miss Fuller gave Helen Keller her first lesson in
articulation. See Chapter IV, Speech.]
Boston, Mass., April 3, 1890.
dear Miss Fuller,
heart is full of joy this beautiful morning, because I have learned to speak
many new words, and I can make a few sentences. Last evening I went out in the
yard and spoke to the moon. I said, "O! moon come to me!" Do you think
the lovely moon was glad that I could speak to her? How glad my mother will be.
I can hardly wait for June to come I am so eager to speak to her and to my
precious little sister. Mildred could not understand me when I spelled with my
fingers, but now she will sit in my lap and I will tell her many things to
please her, and we shall be so happy together. Are you very, very happy because
you can make so many people happy? I think you are very kind and patient, and I
love you very dearly. My teacher told me Tuesday that you wanted to know how I
came to wish to talk with my mouth. I will tell you all about it, for I remember
my thoughts perfectly. When I was a very little child I used to sit in my
mother's lap all the time, because I was very timid, and did not like to be left
by myself. And I would keep my little hand on her face all the while, because it
amused me to feel her face and lips move when she talked with people. I did not
know then what she was doing, for I was quite ignorant of all things. Then when
I was older I learned to play with my nurse and the little negro children and I
noticed that they kept moving their lips just like my mother, so I moved mine
too, but sometimes it made me angry and I would hold my playmates' mouths very
hard. I did not know then that it was very naughty to do so. After a long time
my dear teacher came to me, and taught me to communicate with my fingers and I
was satisfied and happy. But when I came to school in Boston I met some deaf
people who talked with their mouths like all other people, and one day a lady
who had been to Norway came to see me, and told me of a blind and deaf girl [Ragnhild
Kaata] she had seen in that far away land who had been taught to speak and
understand others when they spoke to her. This good and happy news delighted me
exceedingly, for then I was sure that I should learn also. I tried to make
sounds like my little playmates, but teacher told me that the voice was very
delicate and sensitive and that it would injure it to make incorrect sounds, and
promised to take me to see a kind and wise lady who would teach me rightly. That
lady was yourself. Now I am as happy as the little birds, because I can speak
and perhaps I shall sing too. All of my friends will be so surprised and glad.
loving little pupil,
the Perkins Institution closed for the summer, Helen and Miss Sullivan went to
Tuscumbia. This was the first home-going after she had learned to "talk
with her mouth."
REV. PHILLIPS BROOKS
Alabama, July 14, 1890.
dear Mr. Brooks, I am very glad to write to you this beautiful day because you
are my kind friend and I love you, and because I wish to know many things.
I have been at home three weeks, and Oh, how happy I have been with dear
mother and father and precious little sister. I was very, very sad to part with
all of my friends in Boston, but I was so eager to see my baby sister I could
hardly wait for the train to take me home. But I tried very hard to be patient
for teacher's sake. Mildred has grown much taller and stronger than she was when
I went to Boston, and she is the sweetest and dearest little child in the world.
My parents were delighted to hear me speak, and I was overjoyed to give them
such a happy surprise. I think it is so pleasant to make everybody happy. Why
does the dear Father in heaven think it best for us to have very great sorrow
sometimes? I am always happy and so was Little Lord Fauntleroy, but dear Little
Jakey's life was full of sadness. God did not put the light in Jakey's eyes and
he was blind, and his father was not gentle and loving. Do you think poor Jakey
loved his Father in heaven more because his other father was unkind to him? How
did God tell people that his home was in heaven? When people do very wrong and
hurt animals and treat children unkindly God is grieved, but what will he do to
them to teach them to be pitiful and loving? I think he will tell them how
dearly He loves them and that He wants them to be good and happy, and they will
not wish to grieve their father who loves them so much, and they will want to
please him in everything they do, so they will love each other and do good to
everyone, and be kind to animals.
tell me something that you know about God. It makes me happy to know much about
my loving Father, who is good and wise. I hope you will write to your little
friend when you have time. I should like very much to see you to-day Is the sun
very hot in Boston now? this afternoon if it is cool enough I shall take Mildred
for a ride on my donkey. Mr. Wade sent Neddy to me, and he is the prettiest
donkey you can imagine. My great dog Lioness goes with us when we ride to
protect us. Simpson, that is my brother, brought me some beautiful pond lilies
yesterday--he is a very brother to me.
sends you her kind remembrances, and father and mother also send their regards.
your loving little friend,
August 3, 1890.
Dear Helen--I was very glad indeed to get your letter. It has followed me across
the ocean and found me in this magnificent great city which I should like to
tell you all about if I could take time for it and make my letter long enough.
Some time when you come and see me in my study in Boston I shall be glad to talk
to you about it all if you care to hear.
now I want to tell you how glad I am that you are so happy and enjoying your
home so very much. I can almost think I see you with your father and mother and
little sister, with all the brightness of the beautiful country about you, and
it makes me very glad to know how glad you are.
am glad also to know, from the questions which you ask me, what you are thinking
about. I do not see how we can help thinking about God when He is so good to us
all the time. Let me tell you how it seems to me that we come to know about our
heavenly Father. It is from the power of love which is in our own hearts. Love
is at the soul of everything. Whatever has not the power of loving must have a
very dreary life indeed. We like to think that the sunshine and the winds and
the trees are able to love in some way of their own, for it would make us know
that they were happy if we knew that they could love. And so God who is the
greatest and happiest of all beings is the most loving too. All the love that is
in our hearts comes from him, as all the light which is in the flowers comes
from the sun. And the more we love the more near we are to God and His Love.
told you that I was very happy because of your happiness. Indeed I am. So are
your Father and your Mother and your Teacher and all your friends. But do you
not think that God is happy too because you are happy? I am sure He is. And He
is happier than any of us because He is greater than any of us, and also because
He not merely SEES your happiness as we do, but He also MADE it. He gives it to
you as the sun gives light and color to the rose. And we are always most glad of
what we not merely see our friends enjoy, but of what we give them to enjoy. Are
God does not only want us to be HAPPY; He wants us to be good. He wants that
most of all. He knows that we can be really happy only when we are good. A great
deal of the trouble that is in the world is medicine which is very bad to take,
but which it is good to take because it makes us better. We see how good people
may be in great trouble when we think of Jesus who was the greatest sufferer
that ever lived and yet was the best Being and so, I am sure, the happiest Being
that the world has ever seen.
love to tell you about God. But He will tell you Himself by the love which He
will put into your heart if you ask Him. And Jesus, who is His Son, but is
nearer to Him than all of us His other Children, came into the world on purpose
to tell us all about our Father's Love. If you read His words, you will see how
full His heart is of the love of God. "We KNOW that He loves us," He
says. And so He loved men Himself and though they were very cruel to Him and at
last killed Him, He was willing to die for them because He loved them so. And,
Helen, He loves men still, and He loves us, and He tells us that we may love
so love is everything. And if anybody asks you, or if you ask yourself what God
is, answer, "God is Love." That is the beautiful answer which the
this is what you are to think of and to understand more and more as you grow
older. Think of it now, and let it make every blessing brighter because your
dear Father sends it to you.
will come back to Boston I hope soon after I do. I shall be there by the middle
of September. I shall want you to tell me all about everything, and not forget
send my kind remembrance to your father and mother, and to your teacher. I wish
I could see your little sister.
Bye, dear Helen. Do write to me soon again, directing your letter to Boston.
a letter which has been lost.
Farms, Mass., August 1, 1890.
Dear Little Friend Helen:
received your welcome letter several days ago, but I have so much writing to do
that I am apt to make my letters wait a good while before they get answered.
gratifies me very much to find that you remember me so kindly. Your letter is
charming, and I am greatly pleased with it. I rejoice to know that you are well
and happy. I am very much delighted to hear of your new acquisition--that you
"talk with your mouth" as well as with your fingers. What a curious
thing SPEECH is! The tongue is so serviceable a member (taking all sorts of
shapes, just as is wanted),--the teeth, the lips, the roof of the mouth, all
ready to help, and so heap up the sound of the voice into the solid bits which
we call consonants, and make room for the curiously shaped breathings which we
call vowels! You have studied all this, I don't doubt, since you have practised
am surprised at the mastery of language which your letter shows. It almost makes
me think the world would get along as well without seeing and hearing as with
them. Perhaps people would be better in a great many ways, for they could not
fight as they do now. Just think of an army of blind people, with guns and
cannon! Think of the poor drummers! Of what use would they and their drumsticks
be? You are spared the pain of many sights and sounds, which you are only too
happy in escaping. Then think how much kindness you are sure of as long as you
live. Everybody will feel an interest in dear little Helen; everybody will want
to do something for her; and, if she becomes an ancient, gray-haired woman, she
is still sure of being thoughtfully cared for.
parents and friends must take great satisfaction in your progress. It does great
credit, not only to you, but to your instructors, who have so broken down the
walls that seemed to shut you in that now your outlook seems more bright and
cheerful than that of many seeing and hearing children.
dear little Helen! With every kind wish from your friend,
letter was written to some gentlemen in Gardiner, Maine, who named a lumber
vessel after her.
Ala., July 14, 1890.
Dear, Kind Friends:--I thank you very, very much for naming your beautiful new
ship for me. It makes me very happy to know that I have kind and loving friends
in the far-away State of Maine. I did not imagine, when I studied about the
forests of Maine, that a strong and beautiful ship would go sailing all over the
world, carrying wood from those rich forests, to build pleasant homes and
schools and churches in distant countries. I hope the great ocean will love the
new Helen, and let her sail over its blue waves peacefully. Please tell the
brave sailors, who have charge of the HELEN KELLER, that little Helen who stays
at home will often think of them with loving thoughts. I hope I shall see you
and my beautiful namesake some time.
much love, from your little friend,
the Messrs. Bradstreet.
and Miss Sullivan returned to the Perkins Institution early in November.
MRS. KATE ADAMS KELLER
Boston, Nov. 10, 1890.
Dearest Mother:--My heart has been full of thoughts of you and my beautiful home
ever since we parted so sadly on Wednesday night. How I wish I could see you
this lovely morning, and tell you all that has happened since I left home! And
my darling little sister, how I wish I could give her a hundred kisses! And my
dear father, how he would like to hear about our journey! But I cannot see you
and talk to you, so I will write and tell you all that I can think of.
did not reach Boston until Saturday morning. I am sorry to say that our train
was delayed in several places, which made us late in reaching New York. When we
got to Jersey City at six o'clock Friday evening we were obliged to cross the
Harlem River in a ferry-boat. We found the boat and the transfer carriage with
much less difficulty than teacher expected. When we arrived at the station they
told us that the train did not leave for Boston until eleven o'clock, but that
we could take the sleeper at nine, which we did. We went to bed and slept until
morning. When we awoke we were in Boston. I was delighted to get there, though I
was much disappointed because we did not arrive on Mr. Anagnos' birthday. We
surprised our dear friends, however, for they did not expect us Saturday; but
when the bell rung Miss Marrett guessed who was at the door, and Mrs. Hopkins
jumped up from the breakfast table and ran to the door to meet us; she was
indeed much astonished to see us. After we had had some breakfast we went up to
see Mr. Anagnos. I was overjoyed to see my dearest and kindest friend once more.
He gave me a beautiful watch. I have it pinned to my dress. I tell everybody the
time when they ask me. I have only seen Mr. Anagnos twice. I have many questions
to ask him about the countries he has been travelling in. But I suppose he is
very busy now.
hills in Virginia were very lovely. Jack Frost had dressed them in gold and
crimson. The view was most charmingly picturesque. Pennsylvania is a very
beautiful State. The grass was as green as though it was springtime, and the
golden ears of corn gathered together in heaps in the great fields looked very
pretty. In Harrisburg we saw a donkey like Neddy. How I wish I could see my own
donkey and my dear Lioness! Do they miss their mistress very much? Tell Mildred
she must be kind to them for my sake.
room is pleasant and comfortable.
typewriter was much injured coming. The case was broken and the keys are nearly
all out. Teacher is going to see if it can be fixed.
are many new books in the library. What a nice time I shall have reading them! I
have already read Sara Crewe. It is a very pretty story, and I will tell it to
you some time. Now, sweet mother, your little girl must say good-bye.
much love to father, Mildred, you and all the dear friends, lovingly your little
JOHN GREENLEAF WHITTIER
Boston, Dec. 17, 1890.
is your birthday; that was the first thought which came into my mind when I
awoke this morning; and it made me glad to think I could write you a letter and
tell you how much your little friends love their sweet poet and his birthday.
This evening they are going to entertain their friends with readings from your
poems and music. I hope the swift winged messengers of love will be here to
carry some of the sweet melody to you, in your little study by the Merrimac. At
first I was very sorry when I found that the sun had hidden his shining face
behind dull clouds, but afterwards I thought why he did it, and then I was
happy. The sun knows that you like to see the world covered with beautiful white
snow and so he kept back all his brightness, and let the little crystals form in
the sky. When they are ready, they will softly fall and tenderly cover every
object. Then the sun will appear in all his radiance and fill the world with
light. If I were with you to-day I would give you eighty-three kisses, one for
each year you have lived. Eighty-three years seems very long to me. Does it seem
long to you? I wonder how many years there will be in eternity. I am afraid I
cannot think about so much time. I received the letter which you wrote to me
last summer, and I thank you for it. I am staying in Boston now at the
Institution for the Blind, but I have not commenced my studies yet, because my
dearest friend, Mr. Anagnos wants me to rest and play a great deal.
is well and sends her kind remembrance to you. The happy Christmas time is
almost here! I can hardly wait for the fun to begin! I hope your Christmas Day
will be a very happy one and that the New Year will be full of brightness and
joy for you and every one.
your little friend
Dear Young Friend--I was very glad to have such a pleasant letter on my
birthday. I had two or three hundred others and thine was one of the most
welcome of all. I must tell thee about how the day passed at Oak Knoll. Of
course the sun did not shine, but we had great open wood fires in the rooms,
which were all very sweet with roses and other flowers, which were sent to me
from distant friends; and fruits of all kinds from California and other places.
Some relatives and dear old friends were with me through the day. I do not
wonder thee thinks eighty three years a long time, but to me it seems but a very
little while since I was a boy no older than thee, playing on the old farm at
Haverhill. I thank thee for all thy good wishes, and wish thee as many. I am
glad thee is at the Institution; it is an excellent place. Give my best regards
to Miss Sullivan, and with a great deal of love I am
Stringer, who appears in several of the following letters, became blind and deaf
when he was four years old. His mother was dead and his father was too poor to
take care of him. For a while he was kept in the general hospital at Allegheny.
From here he was to be sent to an almshouse, for at that time there was no other
place for him in Pennsylvania. Helen heard of him through Mr. J. G. Brown of
Pittsburgh, who wrote her that he had failed to secure a tutor for Tommy. She
wanted him brought to Boston, and when she was told that money would be needed
to get him a teacher, she answered, "We will raise it." She began to
solicit contributions from her friends, and saved her pennies.
Alexander Graham Bell advised Tommy's friends to send him to Boston, and the
trustees of the Perkins Institution agreed to admit him to the kindergarten for
opportunity came to Helen to make a considerable contribution to Tommy's
education. The winter before, her dog Lioness had been killed, and friends set
to work to raise money to buy Helen another dog. Helen asked that the
contributions, which people were sending from all over America and England, be
devoted to Tommy's education. Turned to this new use, the fund grew fast, and
Tommy was provided for. He was admitted to the kindergarten on the sixth of
Keller wrote lately, "I shall never forget the pennies sent by many a poor
child who could ill spare them, 'for little Tommy,' or the swift sympathy with
which people from far and near, whom I had never seen, responded to the dumb cry
of a little captive soul for aid."