America was settled and developed by people who, in the face of crisis, were prepared to forgo etiquette and confront reality with their gloves off. Ladies, as in the Old World, were habitually more inclined to observe the conventions than men; yet now and then, in our early days, one of them took the shortest possible course between where she was and where she wanted to be. On July 15, 1837, in Chatham Four Corners, New York, Miss Emily Moore made up her mind that Mr. Frederic Everest was the man for her. Since the likelihood of their meeting under ordinary circumstances seemed slim, she sat down and wrote the accompanying letter (now in the collection of Mr. Philip Jones of Shelton, Connecticut, and printed here with its quaint errors intact). The end of the story is unknown: whether Emily conquered Everest is veiled in the mists of history. But we cannot help suspecting that a girl with that much courage somehow, sometime, got what she wanted.
You will doubtless be surprised to receive a letter from a stranger and a lady, too! but if you recollect when the declaration of independence was read to us at our last anniversary one of the observations was “That all mankind were born with certain inalienable rights bestowed upon them by a beneficent Creator that among these were life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” It is this right that I claim and it is these privileges that I plead in writing this letter; for is not our life in danger when a carroding care saps its firmest foundations? and can we be said to enjoy liberty when we know our affections to be bound to an object, with whom it is impossible to have an interview? and I need not add that I am in the pursuit of happiness.
The first time I saw you, Mr. Everest, I was sensible of your fine possessing appearance but never was I convinced beyond a doubt that my happiness depended upon an acquaintance with you as when I last saw you.
I know of no reason why you should be the instrument of casting a dark shade over my future life, but I will urge no motive for your coming, but leave it with your generous nature to determine after saying that a lady of respectable family and connexions in life is unhappy on your account and desires that you would come down and make her a friendly visit. I have friends, I do not doubt, but would be happy to recommend me to you but I do not wish them to know the situation of my mind. I shall now, Mr. Everest, put it in your power by exposing this letter to do me a great injury; but I will have no apprehensions on this point, for I believe I have addressed an honorable man upon an honorable subject . . . if you knew the effort it has cost my nature to make this communication to you, Mr. Everest, you would not say you had made an easy conquest; if you are unwilling to visit at our house until you know more of our characters please make enquiries of Mr. William Bailey.
It is not difficult to find us, we are a mile and a half North east from Flaglers public house. If you recollect when you were going there about a mile this side on the Stockbridge road there was a large yellow house with an elm tree by the side of it. There is a road there that turns to the north that will bring you to my father’s, Reuben Moore’s. It is the first yellow house a little off of the road in a pine grove. I shall expect your visit with pleasure intermingled with the greatest anxiety. It is now Tuesday, will you not come down this week.
There is one remark I would make before I close, I wish to have interview with you, Mr. Everest, though you had sworn never to marry or that you were engaged to be another’s, not that I think I would change your purposes but that I might have the happiness of knowing personally him who has held my affections so long. Adieu Sir,
Emily C. Moore