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“Vinnie says the dear friend would like the rule. We have no statutes here, but each does as it will, which is the sweetest jurisprudence.  With it, I enclose Love’s ‘remainder biscuit,’…”   (-Emily Dickinson)

Sarah Tuckerman, c. 1855

Sometime in March of 1878 Emily Dickinson sent a note with a “rule” (a recipe) and a sample of some slightly scorched caramels (the “biscuit” mentioned above) to Sarah Tuckerman, wife of Amherst College Professor of Botany Edward Tuckerman.  Sarah (known as Lizzie to her friends and family) lived less than a mile south of Dickinson in a large house she and her husband called “Applestead,” pleasantly located where the Amherst College Cage now stands.  Dickinson’s note to Sarah was published in early volumes of her letters, and repeated as Thomas Johnson’s letter 545, but the original manuscript seems to be lost, or is perhaps in private hands.  Although Dickinson doesn’t mention “caramel” in her note, Johnson observed that Amherst College possesses an associated Photostat of a letter from Dickinson cousin Fanny Norcross to Lavinia Dickinson that says “Now I will give you the caramel rule.”  Jay Leyda transcribed the Photostat at more length in his Years and Hours, although he omits the rule itself.  Eventually, the rule made its way from the Photostat in the Archives to publication in the booklet Emily Dickinson: Profile of the Poet as Cook (1976; 2010).

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