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Paul Laurence Dunbar, primary sources, Black history, Black poets, prominent Ohioans


Full text of letter:

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Richmond Ind’a May 18th 1894

Paul Laurence Dunbar,

My Dear Friend

I some time ago said to our kind earnest mutual friend Mrs Selby that I was going to write to you some day and sitting by my “sound table” this lovely day of ever “inconstant spring.” I thought I would send you a few lines. In the first place to use a very original sentence and sentiment “I am well and hope these few lines will find your enjoying the same blessing.”

I have thought much about you and your prospects since the very enjoyable evening. Your entertainment here enabled me a pass. and I have felt all the time that we ought in this good “Quaker City” to have a more remunerative one to you financially. and am as all lines ready to cooperate in any directions to that end which may promise success.

Our friend will confer with you while in Dayton and on her return will doubtless see me. and I most surely hope we may mature a plan which will materially aid in removing the cloud which overhangs the title to your home and of course shadows your heart.

Where I used to live in the South I have often heard the still fragrant air of night shaken with the melody of the mockingbird song

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and I have sometimes thought the sweetest songs of the poets come singing out from the shadows. but at the same time the heart longs for some sunshine.

I hope to see the day when you will be surrounded with comfort and when unharrassed by thoughts which worry, your may sing songs of pure joy. You have I think a very bright fortune before you if life and hearth are shared and you must not let these “light afflictions which are for a moment,” fail “to work [???] out for you a “far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” [refers to 2 Cor. 4:17-18]

If Mrs. Selby sees that sentence I can hear her laugh for she has often laughed at my Scriptural questions.

But I have but a moment at command and I drop you these few lines to urge you to keep up heart and courage and to assure you I shall always be pleased to render you any service I am able.

In the beautiful language of Hyperion, “Look not mournfully into the past. It can never return. Go forth to meet the shadowy Future without fear and with a many [manly] heart” This life of great possibilities is big with promise, if with unshaken faith we do our best. Present my love and good wishes to Mrs. Selby and accept from her my assurance of a heartfelt interest in your welfare. With truly very pleasant memories allow me to subscribe myself

Your Friend

L. C. Abbott


Primary Item Type

Personal Correspondence


This item is part of the Paul Laurence Dunbar House collection at Ohio History Connection, Columbus, Ohio. The collection contains items from 219 N. Summit St., Dayton, Ohio (later 219 N. Paul Laurence Dunbar St.), the home Dunbar purchased for his mother, Matilda J. Dunbar, in 1904. Paul Laurence Dunbar lived there until his death in 1906; Matilda lived there until her death in 1934. It is now the Paul Laurence Dunbar House Historic Site, part of the National Park Service.


Paul Laurence Dunbar, primary sources, Black history, Black poets, prominent Ohioans