I was so fortunate as to hear of the child [Laura Bridgman], and immediately hastened to Hanover to see her ... The parents were easily induced to consent to her coming to Boston, and [soon] they brought her to the Institution.
—Dr. Samuel Gridley Howe, quoted in American Notes, Charles Dickens, 1842
Miss Wight says that Julia will be here any minute, and that I must dress to see her. Julia has returned from New York today—a month early, the cook told Miss Wight, and without Doctor. I wish that I could have a cameo of Doctor's head to wear as a brooch on the lace collar of my black day dress, above my silver cross. No, no, to wear on all my collars, on all my dresses, every day. And then at night, alone in my bed in my room, I would push the pin of the brooch right through the skin in the hollow of my neck so that his dear face would stay with me the whole night long and I could run my fingers over his raised likeness and never sleep. Miss Wight, my companion, who lives with me here at the Institution, says they almost never make cameos of men, but I don't understand why not. Everyone says that Doctor is the handsomest man in Boston—who would not want him as an ornament? I would carve the cameo myself if I could procure the ivory and a good small knife, and then I might not suffer as unbearably when he's away—six months this time!
I know his features as well as my own: the strong, wide brow and bushy eyebrows; the long prow of his nose between the deep-set eyes; the bristly fur of moustache half covering his upper lip, and the plump lower lip that I have traced with my finger a thousand times, but never met with mine. And his beard, Doctor's beard—I would spend an hour curling each hair with my blade, all the way up to the prominent ridges of his cheekbones. Maybe I could get a large block of ivory with the money I've saved from my sewing and crochet work that people buy on Exhibition Days (oh, look: handkerchiefs embroidered by Laura Bridgman, the deaf, mute, blind girl—we must buy a whole set!) and carve a life-size cameo of Doctor's head, large enough to sleep beside me on my pillow. It would be cold to the touch, but it would be something.