Which would you rather receive: a text that reads “143” (shorthand for “I love you”) or a letter containing something along the lines of, “I love you ever and ever without reserve. The more I have known you the more have I loved. In every way – even my jealousies have been agonies of love, in the hottest fit I ever had I would have died for you” (excerpt from a letter written by John Keats in March 1820)? Many would agree – a personal letter in your mailbox can be an everlasting treasure. For this reason and others, April is National Letter Writing Month.
The George J. Mitchell Dept. of Special Collections & Archives is helping the Bowdoin Daily Sun observe the occasion by sharing letters from some of the College’s most illustrious graduates, to be presented Wednesdays throughout the month, beginning with one from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow to his sister, dated October 12, 1823, describing the view from his room in New College, later Winthrop Hall:
The room we occupy at present, is situated in the North Eastern corner of the North College ““ but I forget myself! From such a description, you, who have never seen the colleges, can form no idea of its situation. And in fact I know not how to give you the location of it ““ this much, however, you can understand; – the bed-room window looks towards the village and Professor Cleaveland’s, – the two other windows afford a delightful prospect, – no less so than the charm of an extensive woodland scenery of ““ pine trees, – groves, beautified by a great quantity of bushes cut during the Summer and left, dry, withered, and sere, to bea[u]tify and vary the Autumnal landscape ““ a fine view of the road to Harpswell and the College Wood Yard.