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


Full text of letter:

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Arundel on the Bay, Md.

Aug. 3, 1894

My dear Paul,

How sweet of you to send me this charming letter in verse! You can never know how it delighted me! If you had only seen how I – well guess what I did after each reading; and I read it a dozen times over then, and am still

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reading it off and on, it rests me so, or better refreshes me so. I read it aloud, dear, with the murmuring winds and rippling water for accompaniment. I enjoyed it rapturously, Paul! Nothing, nothing could have pleased me half so much. I felt “as rich as twenty seas if all their sands were pearls, their water nectar, and their rocks pure gold.” Yes, Paul, notwithstanding the happiness your

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letter-in-rhyme inspired, there crept into it a vein of sadness, for you spoke of being ill not very ill, dear friend I hope. You have been working too hard, these hot days, isn’t that it? Do stop, and rest awhile, Paul, – I know you need it. Your friends can not afford to have you fall ill, dear, think what an element of pleasure would go out of their lives. So you must take good care of your

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self for our sake. I am afraid to say for my sake. I do wish you were here with us. We are having a most pleasant time. Lots of folks come down to see us every Sunday. Perhaps you have some curiosity as to who “we” are. Well to begin with, there are the Douglasses – Mr. Chas. R. Douglass and family – next, the Wormleys, then the Smiths, Arnolds

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Jenifers (they used to live in Chicago) and Colberts. The Hon. Fred’k Douglass spent last Sunday with us. Two gentlemen (acquaintances, if not friends, of yours) Prof. Grisham of Kansas City and Prof E. A. Johnson of Raleigh were down for two or three days this week. In fact we have many visitors. Mr. Douglass and his little boy deserve to be most kindly remembered to you, as does

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Also George Jenifer who exalts you to the position of an “ideal man”.

We have a number of charming young ladies here, some of our brightest and best. You could not possibly escape heart whole if you were here. Cupid would surely wound you sorely. I know you brush off your non susceptibility to the love god’s delicious poison, but

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I believe that even you would fall victim to some one of the fair demoiselles summering here. If your heart were ice their warm, sweet glances would melt it; if glass, their gentle hand clasps would shatter it; and if stone, the music of their tender voices would move it, so you see no fortification could save you, you would have to surrender that stubborn

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heart of yours, at last. Hardened wretch! I really believe you are congratulating yourself on not being here. Unbeliever! Never mind your time will come and then – well wait and see what then.

I do wish I could write you a nice long letter today, my Paul, but somehow I can not. My mind is more jejune today than usual. Forgive me and write to me for heaven’s sake soon


Pray consign this miserable scrawl to the flames. R.


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, Frederick Douglass, primary sources, Black history, Black poets, prominent Ohioans