Louisa May Alcott’s Fruitlands Diary (1843)

September 1st.—I rose at five and had my bath. I love cold water! Then we had our singing lesson with Mr. Lane. After breakfast I washed dishes, and ran on the hill till nine and had some thoughts,—it was so beautiful up there. Did my lessons,—wrote and spelt and did sums; and Mr. Lane read a story, “The Judicious Father.” How a rich girl told a poor girl not to look over the fence at the flowers, and was cross to her because she was unhappy. The Father heard her do it, and made the girls change clothes. The poor one was glad to do it, and he told her to keep them. But the rich one was very sad; for she had to wear the old ones a week, and after that she was good to shabby girls. I liked it very much, and I shall be kind to poor people.

Father asked us what was God’s noblest work. Anna said men, but I said babies. Men are often bad; babies never are. We had a long talk, and I felt better after it, and cleared up.

We had bread and fruit for dinner. I read and walked and played till supper-time. We sung in the evening. As I went to bed the moon came up very brightly and looked at me. I felt sad because I have been cross to-day, and did not mind Mother. I cried, and then I felt better, and said that piece from Mrs. Sigourney, “I must not tease my mother.” I get to sleep saying poetry,—I know a great deal.

Thursday, 14th.—Mr. Parker Pillsbury came, and we talked about the poor slaves. I had a music lesson with Miss P. I hate her, she is so fussy. I ran in the wind and played be a horse, and had a lovely time in the woods with Anna and Lizzie. We were fairies, and made gowns and paper wings. I “flied” the highest of all. In the evening they talked about travelling. I thought about Father going to England, and said this piece of poetry I found in Byron’s poems:—

“When I left thy shores, O Naxos,
Not a tear if sorrow fell;
Not a sigh or faltered accent
Told my bosom’s struggling swell.”

It rained when I went to bed and made a pretty noise on the roof.

Sunday, 24th.—Father and Mr. Lane have gone to N. H. to preach. It was very lovely … Anna and I got supper. In the eve I read “Vicar of Wakefield.” I was cross to-day, and I cried when I went to bed. I made good resolutions, and felt better in my heart. If I only kept all I make, I should be the best girl in the world. But I don’t, and so am very bad.

(Poor little sinner! She says the same at fifty.—L. M. A.)

October 8th.—When I woke up, the first thought I got was, “It’s Mother’s birthday: I must be very good.” I ran and wished her a happy birthday, and gave her my kiss. After breakfast we gave her our presents. I had a moss cross and a piece of poetry for her.

We did not have any school, and played in the woods and got red leaves. In the evening we danced and sung, and I read a story about “Contentment.” I wish I was rich, I was good, and we were all a happy family this day.

We sang the following song:


Hail, all hail, thou merry month of May,
We will hasten to the woods away
Among the flowers so sweet and gay,
Then away to hail the merry merry May—
The merry merry May—
Then away to hail the merry merry month of May.

Hark, hark, hark, to hail the month of May,
How the songsters warble on the spray,
And we will be as blith as they,
Then away to hail the merry merry May—
Then away to hail the merry merry month of May.

I think this is a very pretty song and we sing it a good deal.

Thursday, 12th.—After lessons I ironed. We all went to the barn and husked corn. It was good fun. We worked till eight o’clock and had lamps. Mr. Russell came. Mother and Lizzie are going to Boston. I shall be very lonely without dear little Betty, and no one will be as good to me as Mother. I read in Plutarch. I made a verse about sunset:—

“Softly doth the sun descend
To his couch behind the hill,
Then, oh, then, I love to sit
On mossy banks beside the rill.”

Anna thought it was very fine; but I didn’t like it very well.

Friday, Nov. 2nd.—Anna and I did the work. In the evening Mr. Lane asked us, “What is man?” These were our answers: A human being; an animal with a mind; a creature; a body; a soul and a mind. After a long talk we went to bed very tired.

(No wonder, after doing the work and worrying their little wits with such lessons.—L. M. A.)

A sample of the vegetarian wafers used at Fruitlands:—

Vegetable diet
and sweet repose.
Animal food and

Pluck your body
from the orchard;
do not snatch it
from the shamble.

Without flesh diet
there could be no
blood-shedding war.

Apollo eats no
flesh and has no
beard; his voice is
melody itself.

Snuff is no less snuff
though accepted from
a gold box.

Tuesday, 20th.—I rose at five, and after breakfast washed the dishes, and then helped mother work. Miss P. is gone, and Anna in Boston with Cousin Louisa. I took care of Abba (May) in the afternoon. In the evening I made some pretty things for my dolly. Father and Mr. L. had a talk, and father asked us if _we_ saw any reason for us to separate. Mother wanted to, she is so tired. I like it, but not the school part or Mr. L.

Eleven years old. Thursday, 29th.—It was Father’s and my birthday. We had some nice presents. We played in the snow before school. Mother read “Rosamond” when we sewed. Father asked us in the eve what fault troubled us most. I said my bad temper.

I told mother I liked to have her write in my book. She said she would put in more, and she wrote this to help me:—

“DEAR LOUEY,—Your handwriting improves very fast. Take pains and do not be in a hurry. I like to have you make observations about our conversations and your own thoughts. It helps you to express them and to understand your little self. Remember, dear girl, that a diary should be an epitome of your life. May it be a record of pure thought and good actions, then you will indeed be the precious child of your loving mother.”

December 10th.—I did my lessons, and walked in the afternoon. Father read to us in dear “Pilgrim’s Progress.” Mr. L. was in Boston and we were glad. In the eve father and mother and Anna and I had a long talk. I was very unhappy, and we all cried. Anna and I cried in bed, and I prayed God to keep us all together.


— from Bronson Alcott’s Fruitlands
compiled by Clara Endicott Sears
(Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1915)