Letter from Hattie to Mary, March 31, 1870


Dublin Core


Letter from Hattie to Mary, March 31, 1870


Birthdays; Farmers; Rice; Agricultural laborers; United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Women; Missionaries


This is a letter written by Harriet Noyes for her little sister's seventeenth birthday. Harriet describes the surrounding villages and the rice paddy fields and farmers which inhabit them. Harriet also writes about a book she is reading about women in the Civil War, as well as meeting other missionaries.


Noyes, Harriet Newell


The College of Wooster, Special Collections, Noyes Collection, Box #1






Council on Library and Information Resources Hidden Special Collections Grant




eng (English); chi (B) (Chinese)






Text Item Type Metadata


March 31st /70
My own dear Mary -
To-day you
have another birthday as the
little Prestons would say. It does
seem so [u]strange[/u] to think that our
little Mary the baby of the family is
[u]seventeen[/u]. As usual I am ahead
of you + had my birth-day first so
that I am already well started on
my [u]twenty seventh[/u] year. I can remember
+ it dont seem far back either when
I thought that was getting pretty old.
I presume Henry has told you
of our location at the present time
of writing. Stretching away from
Canton is a large fertile plain
where much of the rice consumed
in the city is produced + the farmers
are gathered over the plain + give it
the name of the Region of the
ninety six villages. They are a very
unruly set + noted for their dislike
to foreigners. On every side we
hear the cry of "fan korai," or foreign
devil. You must not think that
it is unsafe to travel here. It is too
near Canton for these people not to
have a salutary dread of foreigners.

so their manifestations of dislike
are only annoying. We stopped
last night near a little village where
the people seemed very rude
indeed. The country is very
flat + dull for a long distance
in every direction being covered
with rice fields which at this
season are extensive tracts of
mud + water. We watched the
people coming home from their
work to-night they look so miserable
forlorn dirty + ragged The land
is owned by a few persons + the
laborers are hired to till it. the
result being the same difference
between the condition of the
owners + the tillers of the land
that is found in every country
where those who own the land
are not the ones that till it.
I wonder if there is one American
in a thousand who is as thankful
as he ought to be for the privilege
of being an American citizen.
I think I appreciate it more than
I could without having learned
what I have of other nations whose
representatives I have met here.

I have just been reading some in
the book that Edward gave me
Women of the War. I prize it very much
but I often lay it down feeling as though
I could not read another word. I think
I have shed more tears over that book
than all the others I have ever read.
How often I wish that the nine
months I spent in the army
might have been multiplied by five.
It seems so strange sometimes to
think about the war as if it could
not have been real.
We had a visit in Canton a short
time since from a Mr Duffas from
Scotland + one day after he had
called on us + we had sung for
him + among other pieces [--+some--]
war songs "by request" (for I dont
sing American patriotic songs to
English or Scotch unless called for) he
said to another lady that "he would'nt
for anything have the strong national
feeling that we American ladies
had," How little they know of the
lesson that the war taught us.
But Mr Duffas was a nice little
fellow + I am sure his heart has as
large a place for "national feeling"
as any ones if circumstances had
developed it. He is a missionary of the
Pres Board at Swatow + like all the
Scotch Presbyterians true blue.

He spent about two weeks in Canton
+ was a general favorite. He is one
of those who carry their goodness in their
faces so that one glance is enough to
assure one that it is genuine.
I enjoyed so much meeting Mrs House
she is such a nice person + when
was in Hongkong saw Mrs Ashmore
of Swatow a dear good woman. They
want us very much to come up
+ make them a visit but I am
afraid we cannot as it is some
distance. We met too in
Hongkong Mr + Mrs Drayton from
Birmah who have been missionaries
30 years. They know the Judson's
well seemed such nice old people
They go home with the hope of
returning in two years and
have promised to make us a
visit then. I would like to know how
the Prestons are getting on. I keep
thinking that after we get to
Canton it will be only one day
more + then we may begin to
look for the American mail.
Did Henry tell you about the little
boat he + Mr Marcellus have bought.
Mrs Marcellus usually goes out with
them + I go sometimes we all enjoy it
We have named it The "America".
Well must say good-night With warmest
love + earnest prayers that you may have
many happy returns of your natal day from,
Your loving Hattie

Original Format



Noyes, Harriet Newell, “Letter from Hattie to Mary, March 31, 1870,” Letters from Harriet Noyes: Missionaries and Women's Education in Nineteenth Century China, accessed June 25, 2024, https://noyesletters.org/items/show/35.

Output Formats