Volume Second 1852
Extracts from Diary, and Letters continued
Transcribed by Martha Giffen
Go to: 1851.
First Month 9th Sadness and mourning rests weightily on my mind this evening on account of the unevenness of my disposition. Sometimes too much under the influence of a species of discouragement subject to impatience, and irritability - and at other times, through feelings of ambition and buoyancy, I am prone to be too lively and volatile in my conversation. A close adherence to the inward life is the only means of preservation from extremes of every class.
25th Too much excitement has prevailed in our neighbourhood for some weeks past relative to locating the portion of the Wheeling and Cadiz Plank Road lying between Harrisville and George-Town. Three different routes have been contemplated, and of course various individuals have their preferences in proportion to the interest each may have in the convenience of the road to their own premises. Myself included in the number - in which I feel that I have
been too active, and too much absorbed It is my proneness, when engaged in any persuit to dwell on it too exclusively, and suffer it to occupy too nearly my whole mind, and thoughts, which has been the case with me in this, to the neglect of more serious, and essential matters - those of a spiritual nature which I know should not be omitted, or lightly esteemed for any worldly consideration. I sensibly feel that I have suffered loss in the best sense, by allowing myself to become too much enlisted in the general party excitement. How essentially necessary it is that the watch should be strictly maintained on every side - that a constant care should be observed to avoid becoming too deeply immersed in outward things of any kind, but ever strive to obey the injunction - “possess ye your own souls.”
28th While engaged in my temporal concerns this forenoon, extreme poverty, and unworthiness, and a sense of having failed in my duty towards my Creator rested weigtily on my mind. Like Job, I “abhorred myself,” but could not find that lowly place, as he did, to “repent in dust and ashes.”
In the afternoon, I visited our school in company with several of the committee who
were here for that purpose. The subject of the most suitable kind of reading books for the use of our schools, claimed the attention of the committee, which resulted in a united judgment that McGuffey’s series, which are now so generally used, were objectionable, on account of their invariable use of the plural language, and the euligies which many parts of them bestow on noted warriours, together with an attempt to reconcile a participation in war, and war-like pursuits, with an upright, and christian life. This conclusion of the committee strengthened a conviction which I have long felt in regard to the use of those books, and I have exerted myself to some extent to keep them out of our school, but so far, have not thoroughly succeeded. My decided judgment is that many lessons which they contain are calculated to inculcate very irroneous views in the minds of our children To be careful in the selection of the books for our schools appears to me as essentially necessary for the best wellfare of our children, as to guard them against mingling in the mixed schools, for the matter which they read may as lastingly impress their minds, as the words and actions of those with whom they associate.
Second Month 3rd I was brought under the necessity of exercising my utmost forbearance and best judgment to day on account of a serious difficulty occurring between our school teacher and one of his nearly grown brothers. A few days ago an older brother, in accordance with the advice of his parents, left school, because of a disagreement between him and the teacher, in which the latter was equally to blame, and the same appearing to be the case in the present trouble. I did not see that I could consistantly dismiss the scholar, and retain the teacher, nor retain both with safety, and therefore after a thorough investigation of the matter, I decided to dismiss both, and close the school for the present. The circumstance is one of severe trial and humiliation to me, not only in view of the best wellfare of the young men immediately concerned, but on account of the shade which the occurrence will cast over the reputation of a Friends school. We profess the guarded and religious education of our children, inside the enclosure of our peculiar principles and testimonies - from under the contaminating influences that prevail in the mixed schools. Good fruit will therefore be expected - something more lamb-like in its tendency, and
superior to the common-mass-bickering of human nature I much regret that our sincere efforts in a good cause should thus be frustrated and brought into disrepute, but through a wish to encourage the young man in an occupation which I hoped would result in the best wellfare of all concerned, I employed him, and if by so doing, I have done wrong, I hope it may prove a warning to me to more closely consider hereafter.
8th After attending Harrisville meeting, Nathan P. Hall and myself rode to Westgrove on horse-back, to attend the funeral of Samuel Barber, an aged member, and elder of that meeting. He, and the widow whom he leaves, have lived together as husband and wife for the last sixty-three years.
9th More for the purpose of preserving a record of one of the stratagems of the “grand enemy” of souls amongst the many which lyeth in wait to decieve, than for any value which I place upon its retention, or perpetuation, I here give a brief account of the origin and progress of a delusive fantasy, known as the “Rochester knockings,” or “spiritual rappings” It appears to have originated with two young women
by the name of Fox, in Rochester Massachusetts about two years ago and has since spread rapidly amongst a certain class of people throughout the United States. Its advocate meet together at different times and places, and first form a circle around a table or stand - join hands, and sit, or stand still. After a time, a cracking, or rapping noise is said to be heard and sometimes a rocking, and even a removal of the surrounded furniture without human aid. This they claim is their evidence, and the effect of the presence of a departed spirit. They then proceed to ascertain the name of said spirit by repeating the alphabet slowly, when, on arriving at the first letter of the name, a rap is heard, and in like manner at each repetition of the alphabet, the rap is repeated till the name is spelled out, - George Washington, Henry Clay, or any other that may chance to come, or perhaps as may be desired by the “Medium” or principal operator. This “Medium” then under profession of entering into near communion with said spirit, asks many questions relative to the spirit world, and its own spiritual condition, and that of others, often extending, professedly, into great mysteries, both in things present, and to come.
This is claimed to be accomplished sometimes through replies by rapping - sometimes by the involuntary movement of the hand of the “Medium” in writing - and at others through an immediate communication in spirit with the said departed spirit. Thus a collection of frivolous, unregenerate beings profess, through the workings of their own hand and imaginations, to penetrate the spirit world, and [fathora] the mysteries of an eternal existence, just as their carnal propensities may desire, and at such times and places as their curiosity may lead them. And to such an extent have the strange conceiving of some of those people progressed that in many instances, they claim to have had repeated personal interviews with departed spirits, and to have a full knowledge of their spiritual condition in a future state - that the souls of such are frequently around about, or floating in the air near at hand, and as fully aware of the progress of earthly things as when in the body. That the separation of the soul from the body by death, by no means deprives any of the knowledge and oversight of their families, and temporal concerns, nor renders them incapable of communicating the desired intelligence, or instructions at any time, through this “spiritual rapping,” or “Medium” process. Withccraft had its day, and is gone. “Ism” after
“ism” has come, and went; only to give place to another of a like delusive character And with this the same - it will have its time, and its advocates, and will pass away, as one of the many deceptive inroads of the distroyer - and what need I say more? Perhaps I have exceeded proper bounds already - but my object is, to warn the honest hearted, rather then to expose the deluded. Was it not the products of the same grand deciever which the apostle Peter alluded to in writing to his scattered brethren? [Viry] “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift distruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways by reason of whom the way of Truth shall be evil spoken of, and shall recieve the reward of unrighteousness as they that count it pleasure to riot in the day time. Spots they are, and blemishes - sporting themselves with their own decievings while they feast with you. These are wells without water - clouds that are carried with a tempest to whom the mist of darkness is reserved forever”
15th In our silent meeting to day my mind was impressed with the words of our Saviour. “Straight is the gate, and narrow is the way that leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it - because, wide is the gate and broad is the way that leadeth to distruction and many there be that go in thereat. My understanding was opened to see clearly that there was but one right way, which was truly straight and narrow, and that all else beside, either to the right, or left, or any other possible situation whatever, aside from this narrow way of safety, embraced the broad way in which many are going, and which leadeth down to death and distruction. While pondering these things in the solumn silence under a sense that so straight and narrow was the way to life, that flesh and blood - the unregenerate nature could not walk therein - and at the same time feeling my own insufficiency, and proneness to evil, having a deceitful heart above all things, and desperately wicked, I felt that for me to succeed in keeping in this narrow way was almost an impossibility - when the language arose, “God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.” This secret intimation of divine regard renewed my hope and
confidence that possibly, through an increased faithfulness to the merciful visitations of Truth which I was still sometimes favoured with, that my stony heart might yet be broken up and become a fruitful field. As I dwelt under this covering I was given to feel, and see in a measure of the Light which I believe I was then favoured with, that the performance of spiritual worship can only be experienced by the creaturely part first becoming silenced before the Lord By becoming divested of self, and all selfish thoughts, and solemnly, and reverently wait for the coming of the Lord Jesus in spirit, in the silence of all flesh. The language “Be still and know that I am God,” is significantly applicable to this waiting condition in the presence of the great “I am” “Be still,” not only in body, but in soul, and spirit, that the “still, small voice” may be heard in the secret of the heart, and the Lord alone be wordshiped there.
I have spent this afternoon in reading in the “Friends Library,” and in encouraging my children to do the same - and before they retired to rest this evening, I read a chapter in the New Testament, which is our common daily practice, and one
which I have felt to have a strengthening, solemnizing tendency when properly engaged in. I feel desirous that myself and family may be preserved from evil. That I may not neglect my duty towards my dear children in any respect whatever - for they are tender lambs entrusted to my care, and what an awful consideration, should they be lost through my indifference, or neglect of duty towards them.
24th Much inward conflict and discouragement has been my lot for two days past. The enemy of my soul has cast me down and filled me with impatience and irritability, insomuch that I have felt as one destitute of all good, and without hope of ever obtaining the victory over my carnal propensities, and the sin that doth so easily beset me. So miserable and destitute of good did I feel this morning that I suffered the “cruel reasoner” to persuade me that my condition was too hopeless and wicked to be benefited by attending our Monthly Meeting to day, and I therefore staid at home under very uncomfortable feelings, having a secret sense that by so doing the enemy had gained advantage over me and plunged me still deeper into
a state of hopelessness than before. O why do I thus sacrifice my little grain of faith in times of trial, and turn away as though I had never been favoured of the Lord? How can I expect to improve or make any progress zionward, while I thus Peter-like - deny having known the Lord when times of trial overtakes me? But when the Lord turned his eyes upon Peter, and he remembered His loving kindness and mercy towards him, he went out and wept bitterly - and may I do the same in sincerity of heart, that I may be forgiven for the past, and drawn so near to the fountain of good in spirit, as to be enabled to avoid those baneful pits of distructrion which I have so frequently known to captivate me, and distroy my strength.
26th I contracted with a bookseller to day for a package of Murrays Introductions and English readers, to take the place of McGuffeys Series, in our school - which I continue to feel an uneasiness with the use of. Their arrangement I think is a decided improvement, and some of the matter which they contain is good - yet, there is a sufficient amount of unprofitable
reading in them to render the books objectionable to every careful, considerate parent who have the best wellfare of their children at heart. My deliberate judgment is that the circulation of all books which contain sentiments calculated to impress on the minds of children that a participation in war is honorable, and in harmony with a true christian life, should be discouraged.
29th Attended meeting without much benefit on account of a lack of ability to dwell in the true place of waiting - but during our silent opportunity this evening after reading a chapter collectively, I felt the melting influence of Him who is ever merciful and longsuffering - for surely, was he not a very merciful and forbearing Father, he would have left me long ago to grovel in the carnal elements of my own imagination. No longer since than last week was a time of treading down within me. A time of too much giving way to the insinuations of the distroyer. A period of murmuring despondency wherein my irritable temper gained the ascendency over me, and disqualified me for recieving any good. O! for a deeper indwelling of soul - and a heart so filled with love that the enemy could no more prevail over me - for the presence of the Lord is precious, and His mercy everlasting, otherwise I would be cut off.
Third Month 7th Having experienced an abundant and undeserved flow of love in my heart during yesterday, and this morning, I felt encouraged to believe that I would be favoured with a good Meeting to day, but to my disappointment it proved otherwise - all my might and strength being required to conteract an exceedingly irksome, and unusual drowsiness which was present with me.
8th I Have thought for some years past, that on account of my increasing family, and my limited space for affording my boys employment, the time was approaching when it would be best for us to dispose of the property which we now own, and endeavour to suit ourselves with a farm somewhere - either here, or further west. Owing to our limited means, we could not purchase a sufficient amount of land here without embarrassment, and yet I do not much incline to make a home in any part of the country further west which I have seen. I therefore feel undecided relative to a proposition which brother Ezra made to day to buy my property. I feel that to sell our present home, with a prospect of removing west is a matter of very great importance, and should
be well considered before engaging therein. We have a family of interesting children whose present and eternal wellfare feels very precious to me - and much relative thereto would depend on the associations which I might place them with in my choices of a location. Hence, I sensibly feel that a change of residence, and associations, involves a great risk and responsibility. Should we conclude to make the change I earnestly desire that I may be rightly directed in selecting a suitable place for raising my dear children in the right way. A place where they would be as little exposed to temptation to evil as is possible A change of our residence now would not only involve a change of associations, but a change of attachments, and ultimate connections for life, which is indeed a solumn consideration, and one which should be deeply weighed in the unerring balance, before assuming a responsibility involving such vastly important destinies.]
19th On consideration of the before mentioned proposition to purchase our property, it has appeared to us necessary that we should, ere long make some change in our situation in order to more effectually provide our children with suitable employment, and that my
own occupation might be more at home. We have therefore decided to acceed to the proposal and give the purchaser possession of the entire premises, except our principal dwelling house, and garden for the term of one year We make this reserve for the purpose of affording time for consideration and inquiry relative to a suitable place to purchase and settle, as we feel it to be a matter on which our future wellfare as a family may greatly depend. I think of going west soon, in company with my wifes sister Tacy, and her husband, Emmer Rood, who are abouit removing to Cedar County Iowa. I do not admire a Prairie country, but feel like viewing some parts of it again, and at the same time endeavour to feel after what is best. I may return through Indiana, and the western part of Ohio. I cannot tell - but I surely know that my desire remains unabated that I may be rightly directed in selecting our future home be it where it may.
25th I bid my family farewell on the morning of the 22nd except Amasa, who accompanied me to the river, where we took a steamboat for Steubenville, I having business there relative to the H. B. Hagues estate which is not yet entirely settled I have
found it very tedious and troublesome business throughout, principally on account of the forced allowance of some old claims against a former partner, which rendered the estate insolvent. We lodged that night at the Washington hall Hotel, and took a steamboat for Wheeling on the evening of the 23rd - but as we did not arrive till after dark we remained in our berths till morning The 24th was spent in and about Wheeling waiting for an expected Stearner from Pittsburgh, bound for St. Louis which did not arrive till this morning. I went on board with Emmer Rood and his wife, and several others, and found the boat heavily loaded with California Emigrants, with their wagons, teams, and other equipments - bound for the gold region by the way of St. Louis, and across the plains by the overland route. Our boat soon after left the shore and carried us on our way down the butiful Ohio.
While from home on this journey, on the important mission of selecting a home for myself and family, so deeply was I interested in their behalf, knowing their anxiety, and solicitude for my preservation, and right direction in the undertaking
that I communicated all to them by letters written on the way, that is worth notice, from which I copy the following
After breakfast - 3rd Mo. 26th 1852
My dear family
I seat myself at the extention table with a set of card-players on each side of me, to give you a brief account of our voyage thus far. If Amasa succeeded in getting home last evening, he informed you that we had not left Wheeling the evening before at sun-set. We took lodging at the Monroe House, and about five oclock the next morning, I was aroused with the information that the Statesman was at the wharf on her way to St. Louis. We immediately made ready and went on board, and paid our fair, but I could get no stateroom, as they were all previously taken up except in the “ladies” cabin. Our boat is very heavily loaded, but not quite so much so as the one Amasa saw pass while he was there. I suppose there are near three hundred cabin passengers - and of course many like myself, having no stateroom, have to lodge on the floor. At bed time last evening, the cabin
floor was completely covered with mats, except a small space around each stove, which were all occupied, and yet there were some not accommodated. And while this mass of men remained awake, I think they exceeded in profanity anything I ever heard. Not through provocation, or anger - but just in jovial, frivolous conversation, they appeared each to strive which could excell in mingling therewith the largest proportion of oaths. And again this morning as soon as conscious of their existence, they resumed their work by pouring forth their profanity to an awful extent, just as though they feared no God, nor thought of a day of accountability I can but believe that some of these have seen better days, and were taught better things while under the parental roof, but have now launched out into unprofitable associations - into a torrent of vice which is fast urging them on toward the fearful precipice of woe and distruction. I think we will be at Cincinnati sometime this afternoon, and at St. Louis by the 29th, if nothing happens to obstruct our course. Our boat, though so heavily laiden runs nearly as fast as the “line boats” - and very steady. It appears to be strong, and moves with power. Two of the California emigrants on board
are sick, and while at Parkersburgh wharf yesterday one of their company went on shore to get some medicine for them, and although he asked privelege of the Captain in order to avoid the danger of being left, yet the boat pushed off soon after, and wended its way down stream, leaving the poor man behind to walk to and fro on the wharf, and look wishfully, and hopelessly after us, while the sick on board were suffering for the medicine which he aimed to procure for them.
I feel about as well as usual. Tacy and the children are also well, and she appears to be cheerful and happy although a member of a family so large and rude, yea, even wicked and profane, with but comparatively few exceptions. I would like to know whether Amasa got home last evening, and how he got there, whether Thompson went to Flushing - and if you are all as well now as when I left you. You will see by my writing that my pen is imperfect, I fear you cannot read it all, for I have written about as fast as I could make marks - besides - the four german gamblers at my left elbow are jabbering one continual stream of dutch - while the four at my right are about as incessantly uttering corrupted english
add to this the coughing and jaring of the engine, and the confused noise of the restless crowd around me and you may well wonder how I write at all. I must halt a moment and listen. A man just now sat down near me, with his little boy on his knee about the size of Tacy, and joined in the game of cards. His wife appears to disapprove of it - is leaning on his shoulder talking very affectionately to him, endeavoring to persuade him to quit and come away with her. He tells her he will directly, that he will not play long - but she appears to doubt it. She has now taken the child in her arms and walked away with a sorrowful countenance How little we know in our quiet abode at home, what many poor creatures up and down in the world have to endure.
After dinner. We are now within twenty five miles of Cincinnati, and will be there about five oclock, where I intend mailing this letter. As each table full dined to day, I embraced the opportunity to count the cabin passengers, and find the number of adults to be 255, and small children, 41. The number on deck, as near as I can ascertain is 150 - making in all, exclusive of officers and crew 446. We thought we were throng on the Paris two years ago
but we are much more so now Then we had but one row of mats on the cabin floor at night, but now it is covered all over. I do not know that it is necessary to write more at present. If you write to me, direct to Muscatine, Iowa.
Yours, with much love and tender regard.
Evening of 27th 1852
At Portland, Kentucky, waiting for the boat to come over the Falls. Vessels which are heavily loaded are obliged to be relieved of their burden at times of low water, or pass through the canal at a considerable compensation to the company for the privelege The Captain knowing he could not go over the Falls with his load of passengers, and wishing to avoid the expense of going through the Canal, or of transfering his passengers by land, set his wits to work this forenoon in pursuance of a course calculated to raise a fear in those in the cabin of going over the Falls, and incline them to preference for going by land to Portland rather than hazard their safety by remaining on board.
This he endeavoured to effect by frequently expressing apprehensions of danger to other officers of the boat, professedly in a low tone of voice, and secret manner, yet always careful to do so when - and in a place that would let as many passengers hear as possible, while at the same time conducting himself as though fearful they would hear, and become alarmed, and possibly cause trouble. I felt at no loss in discerning the stratagem, and knew not but it was equally plain to others till I discovered by the conversation and queries of the passengers relative to the dangers spoken of, and the distance around the Falls, that his crafty course was having the desired effect. I then exerted myself to counteract this imposition by expressing my apprehensions to some of the most influential and suggesting the necessity of a combined adherence to the boat in order that the Captain might be compeled to do his duty, by either going through the Canal, or paying our fair to Portland by land. An interest was awakened to some extent, but not sufficiently to prevent a large number going off on our arrival at Louisville, on which I observed the Captain look at some of the other officers with a smile of gratification over his success - and soon after he went below and ordered all the deck passengers ashore, which
rder they promptly obeyed, thinking, as he told them that a walk of one mile would only be a delightful change. But had the feeling been aroused before leaving the vessel, to the same extent that it was ofter walking three and a half miles to this place, through the mud, there would have been no difficulty in creating a united action.
The air was very warm last evening, but is cooler this morning. We had a heavy rain about midnight with lightning and thunder, on which account, or from some other cause, the boat made fast to the point of an island till daylight. I do not feel very well this evening. I am taking cold, and have a severe headache. I enclose in this a present for my dear little Tacy, which contains the word representing the place I often think of - “Home.”
With love to thee, and all. I remain thy affectionate husband.
St. Louis wharf - 3rd Mo. 31st 1852
I again take my pen in hand to give thee further information in regard to our progress westward. This is a very busy place, and my company have reshiping to do, in which I am endeavoring to render them assistance. I therefore write in haste, and imperfectly, as usual, but perhaps thee can read enough to discern the balance. When I last wrote I informed thee that I was suffering from the effects of cold in my head, which indisposition continued without abatement for the two following days, but not so severely as to prevent me from being up and about except on First day afternoon when Emmer favoured me with the privelege of his berth. My lack of a stateroom I found to be a great inconvenience to me at a time like that, having no suitable place to lie down when so indisposed, nor even any comfortable place to sit short of very close watchfulness, the number of passengers so far excelling the number of seats. On the morning of the 28th which was First day morning, a very orderly appearing young man - one of the exceptions amongst the California emigrants, drew near and asked me if I was a professor
of any kind I informed him that I was not, except through my membership in the Society of Friends. He further said that he had been noticing my plain appearance and was apprehensive that I might be a minister of some denomination of people. That himself was a minister in the Methodist church when at home. And on seeing the thoughtless and vain conduct, and conversation of the crowd on board, he had felt that it might be best to call them together and hold a meeting with them, if agreeable to the Captain, and that his object in approaching me was for the purpose of soliciting my aid, and participation in the service if I felt a willingness to do so. This brought me into a strait and into serious thoughtfulness to know what was best to do under the circumstances. I had thought myself that if advice could be rightly administered, so as to reach the witness for Truth, and stay their wayward course, it would be of great benefit to them, as well as a relief to the more seriously inclined who were compeled to journey with them. And this young man appearing to be sincere, and under a concern for the best wellfare of his profligate companions, I felt an inclination to throw no discouragement in his way. Yet the manner of worship, and belief, of the society which he was a
member of I well knew to be at variance with that wholesome and necessary practice of silent waiting before the Lord for the uprisings of His spirit before engaging in any religious service, which I, and my fellow professors so fully believe in Yhere being no Friend on board in whom I could confide as counsellor, I weighed the matter for a few minutes in my own mind when I responded to his solicitation by first briefly explaining the principles that the Society of Friends profess in the performance of divine worship - that of silent waiting for a qualification for religious service before engaging in it, and of the necessity of the presence, and begetings of the spirit of Truth in the heart, before true spiritual worship, or religious service could be performed acceptably in Spirit and in Truth, as was plainly set forth in the New Testament as the only true worship. This explanation appeared to strike him as something new, and out of his line of experience - particularly the part relative to the necessity of waiting in spirit for a qualification for service before engaging in it - and he endeavoured to argue the point with me for a while, in a similar strain to that which I had often heard from his fellow professors nearer home - and whether what I advanced in evidence of the things
which I most surely believe in these respects, had any convincing effect on his mind I shall perhaps never know, but our interview resulted in my telling him that in case the way should open for the holding of a meeting, I would so far encourage the concern as to sit silently with him, but with the full understanding that it was my privelege to remain so unless I should feel that vocal service was required of me. To this he assented - but when he laid the the subject before the Captain for his consideration, it proved unsuccessful, and thus the matter ended
On the 29th at noon we passed Cairo at the mouth of the Ohio, and commenced sterning the rapid current of the broad Mississippi. We encountered a heavy storm of wind and rain yesterday morning, during which we made fast to the shore, with that exception we got along pleasantly, arriving here about the middle of last night. We have now left the Statesmans densely crowded cabin, and taken quarters on a vessel by the name of Ben-accord which will leave here this evening bound for Muscatine, and beyond. We all have Staterooms here, and every other necessary accommodation, which I esteem a great privelege, and as a quiet habitation
in comparison with the privations, and turmoils I have so recently passed through. I am now enjoying usual health. Emmer and Tacy, and the children also keep well, and appear to enjoy themselves. I have just returned from a walk through some parts of this large and business city, and could write more that would interest thee, but the boat is raising steam for starting, and I must for this present close - and as ever, remain thy loving husband.
Mississippi river, under way
One mile above Quincy, Illinois
Sixth day morning 4th Mo 2nd 1852
But a few days have passed since I last wrote, and mailed at St. Louis, but now having leisure, and remembering that I then wrote in much haste, I feel disposed to write again in order to keep thee and the children, who are often conjecturing where we are, informed of the reality. I look back upon my voyage on the Statesman as a species of oppressive servitude amongst a company of reckless creatures, but little, if any better than the worst - yet I am willing to conclude
that they appeared to be worse than they really were. When I take into consideration the opportunities there was for quarrels, and fightings to arise amongst them, from the lack of any rule or regulation in regard to which that, or particular place each one should occupy, or whether a covering of any kind, except as each one through his superior activity, or advantage, was more successful than his fellow competitors in providing himself. I conclude that notwithstanding their extreme roughness of character in general, they gave some evidence of remaining good by their condescension to each other. I came in contact with one of them on the evening after leaving Louisville on account of his presuming to take possession of the place on the floor which I had formerly occupied, but through an unhesitating firmness on my part, and a disregard of his threats, I succeeded in retaining a sufficiency, though a little more crowded than was comfortable. With this exception, I experienced no difficulty after once succeeding in placing myself on a mat, which required close watchfulness, and perseverance to accomplish without usurping what another would contend was his right of possession, on the ground that his foot was on it first. On this boat I am very differently situated. I have
a stateroom with a good bed in it, and plenty of cover. I can retire when I choose, and lie down when I feel like it, without danger of interference from any. I can write here without interruption by the shuffling of cards, or the trivial and profane conversation of the competitors in the game. No such characters have yet made their appearance amongst us.
We passed several small villages yesterday, but none of much note. Passed Hannabal, Mo. aout breakfast time this morning - and about ten oclock passed Quincy, which is a beautiful town standing on an elevated bluff of the Illinois shore, containing about six thousand inhabitants. I felt while there that a suitable Friends settlement, in addition to the existing advantages of a productive country, and pleasant climate, would incline me to a choice there in preference to going so far north as Cedar county, Iowa. But I have come to no decision yet different from that which I expressed before leaving home. I feel like waiting till the way appears to open, hopeing that it may rightly do so - feel no great anxiety as to any particular place, but am desirous only that in making a choice it may be such as will eventually prove a blessing to us all, and not otherwise I feel that an opportunity of purchasing for the enhancement
of wealth alone would be no temptation to me, but my first, and primary object in view is, to select a home, if possible to find it, where beneficial influences will be prevalent amongst the young, and rising generation, which desirable acquisition cannot be found short of a settlement of careful, well-concerned parents, and elderly Friends - for if I know my own heart I assuredly feel that the moral and spiritual wellfare of my family is of much greater value than all the land in Iowa, or any other place. I also feel that a very great weight of responsibility is resting upon me, for on my choice of a location may depend the everlasting wellfare, or distruction ofmy family, who are now leaning - not to their own understanding, but upon my judgment - should it not then be a righteous judgment? I am aware however, that it is not atall impossible for children to do right, let surrounding circumstances be ever so reverse thereto, yet the influences of associations form a powerful incentive to thought and action I do not expect to find a place where there will be no temptation to evil, nor where they will be entirely exempt from an unprofitable example. I therefore desire that each one of them may strive to put on the armour of Light within themselves, that they may
be enabled to withstand evil, and discharge their respective duties, both towards their parents, and to their great Creator, be their lots cast where they may - for after selecting a home for them in accordance with my best judgment - all else that I can do is - to use my utmost endeavours to shield them from temptation to evil - advise, and admonish them - and warn them of approaching danger. The inward work - the salvation of the soul, remains for each one of them to experience for themselves. For, as it is a true declaration, that “no man can redeem his brother nor give to God a ransom for his soul” - so neither can a father offer an acceptable sacrifice for the sins of a beloved son, or daughter.
As my sheet is full I must now close.
With love to all. Farewell.
At James Cattells, near Muscatine
Fourth Mo. 5th 1852
My dear wife
Thee will see by my letter mailed at Keakuk, that we had got along safely that far. We left there the same evening about dark - passed Burlington early the next
morning, and arrived at Muscatine about the middle of the following night, and found six or eight inches of snow on the ground, with rain and sleet driving before a violent wind from the north-east and freezing as it fell. The wharf was more than ankle deep in snow, and freezing water, and no vehicle could be obtained to convey the women and children through the storm to comfortable quarters, but the time had come that they must launch out notwithstanding. While the men were caring for their goods, I assisted their families as best I could to the nearest Hotel, where they dried, and warmed themselves, and retired to rest on the carpet - but the men found no opportunity to lie down, as the night had passed away ere their goods were safely stored. This done, the next necessity was to procure a covered wagon to shelter the women and children on their way to Ceder county - after which, and a few other necessary arrangements, they all started, the men mostly on foot. I feel very anxious to hear from them, as, between the mud and water in the roads, and the hard crust on the snow in all other places - hardly strong enough to bear, it comes the nearest being an impossibility to travel - particularly on foot, of any time I ever before witnessed. While passing the “City Hotel” soon after they left, hearing my name called, I turned and recognized Gibson Binns * (*the young school Teacher whose dismissal is previously noticed) at
the front door endeavoring to attract my attention. He informed me that he was taken sick at St. Louis on his way to this place some week or two since - and on his arrival was compeled to lay by and take medicine - but was better In the course of our conversation he spoke of a Friends meeting being held at a private house in town at the usual hour, which was unexpected to me, as I was not aware of any Friends residing there. After attending the meeting, which was small, and spending a part of the afternoon at Brinton Darlingtons, we walked, (or rather waded) one and a half miles to this place, where we still are waiting for a change in the weather, but as yet there is no indication of it, still raining and freezing, and all out-doors is completely lined with ice, many of the trees bending to the ground. James Cattell having ascertained my business here, appears anxious (as is the case with all in their respective settlements) to show me some land near him, for which purpose (the unfitness of the weather travel also considered), I have consented to stay till tomorrow. I have already heard different parts of Iowa spoken of as being the preferable place to invest, those preferences of course exist, just in proportion to the interest each may have in the parts which they recommend, and therefore the admitance of great allowances is necessary, knowing it to be impossible that all can be the best.
It is now three oclock P.M., and the sun has again made its appearance and shines pleasantly, causing the snow and ice to disappear rapidly. The wind has also ceased to blow, and the protracted frown of the outward elements appears to be gradually passing away, and a mild spring-like affableness taking its place. Having given thee all the information I am now in possession of, I again with love to thee, and all - bid thee farwell - and remain thy husband.
Morning of the 7th
Still at James Cattells. He and myself went yesterday to look at some land which is for sale at three dollars per acre, within four miles of Muscatine. There are a few members of our society living near it, but not very consistant looking ones. They are aiming to make a Friends settlement there but whether a solid consistant one, or otherwise, is yet to be seen. Of course I have not decided to settle there, as it would be imprudently hasty to do so without investigating further. I heard last evening that Emmor and Tacy, and the balance of the company that left here on First day morning, after a very fatiguing journey arrived at
Cedar settlement sometime the next day. James Cattell wishes me to look at some improved farms in his neighborhood, which I think would be of little avail as I do not feel like buying yet, and whether I shall buy atall in Iowa with a prospect of making a home of it is very uncertain. My feelings so far are very similar to those I experienced when here two years ago. I must therefore just wait, and if I do not see my way clearer, than I now do, I think it doubtful whether I am ever a resident of Iowa, yet I know not what may be.
I often think of you who are at home. I hope you are well, and doing well. I hope Lydia is there by this time teaching our little school again. Children! I want you to be submissive, and obedient to your Teacher, and do nothing to cross, or try her She will do her duty towards you for your good be it through reproof or otherwise, therefore in all cases, be it ever so much in the cross to you, give place to no disposition but that of submission and obedience, and your reward will be peace, and approation for so doing. I feel like writing more, but my time will not permit it now. The weather still remains unsettled - snowing and sleeting occasionally, and quite cold for the season. Did little Tacy get the present I sent her from Portland? Had
I another I would send it in this. I often think of her - would like to see my dear little girl - but she is far away. Dear little Melissa is also often the companion of my thoughts - but she is no more. I conclude with love unabated to you all.
Red Cedar, Iowa
Fourth Mo. 21st 1852
My dear wife
I recieved thy very acceptable letter to day by the hand of a friend who had lately returned from Muscatine. I was glad to hear that you were all in usual health, and getting along comfortably. Gibson Binns and myself left James Cattells on foot the next day after I last wrote to thee, and performed a fatigueing journey of thirteen miles towards this settlement when night overtook us and we procured lodging at the house of a former acquaintance. The melting of the late snow and sleet on a surface so level as that which we passed over, filled all the low places with water, consequently we had much wading to do, frequently nearly to our boot tops,
and in some places where it was too deep to wade we used the nearest fence we could find as a foot log. On arriving here the following evening, we found several of those who come on the river with me, sick with the measles, but they are all better now. Since arriving here I have been employing the most of my time in visiting, and looking at the different farms for sale in the settlement, till within a few days past, I have been engaged in building a board shanty for Emmor on his own premises. If the lumber could be hauled as fast as we could put it up we could have their dwelling ready for them by tomorrow evening, but that is impossible in the present condition of the roads, and the distance which it has to be brought. One load of 250 feet is all that can be delivered in a day. I understand from thy letter that brother James intends starting to this country with his family in next month Thee may tell him that I have secured a place for them to sojourn while they build - a place with a small family, where I think they can live comfortably in comparison with the limited space which many have to put up with. Emigration is too extensive at present for the preparations and means to accommodate therein, and consequently many are temporarily living, two or three families together, crowded
into small houses. In regard to my progress towards selecting a home, I may inform thee that it has amounted to little, or nothing yet. I have viewed several farms that they call improved, which are for sale, but some ask more than I am willing to give, and others that are offered reasonable I have an objection to. In fact there are but few places here that I would be willing to make a home of, even if they were layng in Short Creek Township, as destitute of timber, water, stone, etc., as they are here. A days work with a two horse team for each load of wood, or fencing material, appears to me to be “paying too dear for the whistle.” Thy brother John and myself expect to look around some on the west side of this Prairie in a few days. I have attended the meetings here as they occurred in course. Find their numbers much increased within the last two years But few Friends here are past middle age. Some appear to be well concerned, and two or three appear in the ministry at times. Profitable society (should it turn out so) is a matter of great importance, and might be taken into consideration as a balance in the scale against other disadvantages. Shall I conclude to make a home here? I have had to think a great deal since being here. Have I trust - been sincerely
desirous to know what is right in regard to it. I dread to move so far - nor do I like the country in all respects. Yet, if it is the best, and right, that we should do so, I would acquiesce - but this is the difficult point for me to decide. I hope for the favour of right direction, though unworthy I may be - yet, for my familys sake. John and myself are boarding at Benjamin Balls, while at work at Emmors house. He lives directly opposite in a large house, the walls of which are composed of gravel and lime. The weather this afternoon has been calm and pleasant like spring, which has a refreshing tendency, after such a great amount of boisterous weather as we have experienced. The Prairie grass has barely commenced showing green on the low grounds. No flowers have yet made their appearance. No leaves on the trees of the distant woods. I now retire to rest, with a prospect of adding a few lines in the morning.
Morning of 23rd. Clear at sunrise early, but is clouding over with a strong wind from the east - has the appearance of being another stormy day. I cannot yet tell thee when I will be at home. Take good care of thyself, and the children, and don’t feel too anxious about me. I intend sending little Tacy some feathers of a Prairie chicken in this if I can get them. I must take my pen from the paper, for while I held it there it wont be still. Thy loving husband - forever.
The time now so nearly approaching that I intended starting homewards, I thought it unnecessary to write more in the form of letters, but the record of my proceedings show that on the 26th I bought two hundred acres of Prairie land, with a small improvement on it, and forty acres of barren timber lying near the eastern boundary of Johnson county, for which I paid about seven hundred dollars. On the 28th I bought twenty-nine acres of what was termed good timber about six miles distant from the farm at seven dollars per acre. While at Iowa City, and on some of the public roads leading thereto from other principal points, it was astonishing to behold the extensive overland emigration to California. The roads were so thickly lined with covered wagons, drawn by ox-teams, that they were scarcely out of sight of each other for great distances. They are equiped for camping out across the plains, and have ample provisions for the summers journey, with the addition of the game which they expect to capture on the way. “The gold! The gold! of California appears to be their Motto,” and all inspiring theme. On the 30th I returned to the Cedar settlement, where I remained till the morning of the 4th of Fifth Month, when in company with my brother-in-law, John Thompson, I traveled
towards Muscatine as far as James Cattells, where we lodged. On the morning of the 5th I closed the bargain for the before mentioned quarter of land four miles north of Muscatine, for which I paid $480.00 [?]. We left there the same evening on a river Steamer, for Rock-island, where we arrived in the night and took lodging. On the morning of the 6th John started with his trunk in the stage for Lasselle, but I having no baggage except a satchel, I journeyed alone on foot, and passed through he country near the Chicago & Rock-island Rail-Road survey, reaching Princeton, Illinois, on the evening of the 8th. While crossing a point of barren timber on Green river valley, I was startled by the sudden appearance of a large and dangerous looking serpent, which immediately elevated its head some two or three feet from the ground and commenced a venomous hissing as loudly as a gander. It being very different both in size and appearance from anything I ever before met with, and not knowing how ferocious and poisonous it might be, I drew back, and passed around, leaving it to breathe out its vehement hissings to itself, which I could distinctly hear as I passed on to a distance of several rods. I also encounterd several Rattlesnakes on the way, but they being small and apparently stupid, as they generally are at this season of the year
they did not cause me much uneasiness. At noon of the second days travel I made my dinner on crackers and cheese on the wild Prarie grass, with neither house nor timber in view except a small grove in the eastern horizon, which was my land-mark and pilot during the day, till five in the evening, when I passed it and entered a settlement of Canadians. I took lodging at one of their houses, and soon found them to be a rough profane family of people, but the country being sparcely settled, and a heavy storm approaching I was glad of shelter anywhere. After retiring to bed in their only separate apartment I experienced awful feelings on hearing the light and frivolous - and even profane conversation of the family, in the midst of an almost continual blaze of lightning, and heavy peals of thunder in quick succession. I felt that if the judgments of the Lord did not visit that house, it was because of his long suffering forbearance and tender mercy - not that the inhabitants thereof merited further indulgence, or even a moments warning. After spending several days at Princeton and thereabouts in visiting acquaintances formerly of Ohio, we took our passage on a Canal boat at Lasselle, on th 15th, and arrived at Chicago
the next evening, where we were obliged to tarry for about thirty hours on account of a high east wind rendering the Lake dangerous to navigate and no other means of conveyance yet available
We spent the 17th in looking at various things in, and about the City, but were most interested in viewing the boisterous lake the rolling waves of which were lashing the shore continually and furiously. The wind being strong from the north east the waves rolled obliquely against the bulwarks on the beach, causing a sheet of water to rise perpendicularly from each to a considerable height, and then roll back in the form of a scroll as it descended and as each successive wave rolled onwards, those scrolls of troubled waters chased each other along the bulwarks as far as the eye could follow them. I thought the sight so grand that even the descending waters of the great Niagara could hardly excell it. There is a deep and profound sensation of awe and solemnity attending a view of the Falls, it is true - which this partakes not of - yet there is a gratification of that which loves variety - and elementary impetuosity, in this ever fluctuating, boisterous scene, which the continual sameness of the Falls does not arouse. The wind somewhat abating, the vessel ventured out towards midnight, and
landed us in safety at New Buffalo the next morning where we took the cars for Detroit. Crossed Lake Erie on the night of the 18th - and by the way of the Cleaveland & Wellsville Rail Road - and Ohio river arrived at brother Williams near Wheeling on the evening of the 19th, where I lodged, and performed the balance of my journey homewards on the 20th, and found all well, and glad of my safe return.
Sixth Month 18th I accompanied brother James and family as far as Wheeling wharf, on their way to Iowa, on the 8th of the present month, where I parted with them under feelings of sympathetic tenderness, and desires for their preservation and best wellfare, both spiritually and temporally, in their new western home, where I doubt not but trials of various kinds await them.
This day completes my thirty-seventh year - only minus three of half four score. It almost alarms me to think of my advanced age, feeling sensible that the days work has not been keeping pace with the day. I sometimes feel as though the most favoured part of my life was gone, wherein I should have served the Lord more faithfully than I have done. Precious talents have been entrusted to my care which have become so nearly buried in the earth that neither “other two,” nor “five,” have
been “gained.” If this is really the case with me, and continues so to the end, how can I hope to escape the renunciation of the slothful servant where fate was utter darkness, where the worm dieth not.
Seventh Month 4th Since arriving at home from the west, as also while there, I have often felt concerned for my souls everlasting wellfare in the world to come - which is still the more so, on account of my frequent strivings yielding no progress zionward. Surely it is a laborious task to return to the fold of peace - the safe enclosure of spiritual communion with Christ, after once departing from it to feed on the barren mountains of the worlds fascinating productions. But O! that I may never cease striving till I am favoured with an assurance that my sins are forgiven me, and my “calling and election made sure;” for it is ever evident before my eyes, that here we have no “continuing city” - that we shall soon all “go home to be seen of men no more.” Then why - O why should the all important work of the salvation of the soul be delayed? knowing as we do the great uncertainty of time and that we have but one life to live - but one state of probation to pass through, and but once to die, and after death the judgment, and final destiny of never ending fixedness from whence there is no returning.
First day evening 7th Mo. 11th Went to meeting in the carriage to day, and took all our children with me, spent the afternoon at home in reading, writing, and meditating. I remembered that this time last year was a time of trial in our family. Dear little Melissa was then with us suffering the pangs of a death bed illness, while I was anxiously administering to her necessities. But now she is gone beyond the reach of suffering, and trials - a companion to saints and angels, and not of ours - although we love her dearly.
First day evening 8th Mo. 1st I have just recorded the birth of our son William, which took place on the 23rd of last month. My desire for him is that he may live a life of innocence, and die the death of the righteous
Soon after taking my seat in meeting to day, I endeavoured to turn my mind inward and seek for spiritual strength. My condition appeared to me poor, and miserable, and far alienated from the source of all good. My soul felt as an empty cask, containing nothing but an empty sound - as a thing which had dwindled away to almost nothing, having neither strength, nor capacity to do any good thing. Condemna-
tion rested upon me for my numerous offences, and under feelings of great unworthiness, and lowliness of mind, I beged for forgiveness at the hands of a gracious Creator I was favoured to see the beauty, and safety there was in obeying the scriptural command, “possess ye your own souls” - yet was void of ability to possess my own, but felt that it was scattered and gone, I knew not where, nor whose servant it was. And I cried within myself - “O! wretched man that I am - who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” “O that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night” till my soul was purged from sin and brought into favour with the living, and just God, “for if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall such as I am “appear” in that day of final account which is fast approaching? I felt earnestly selicitous that I might be enabled to cry mightily unto the Lord for help and strength, to exert myself to the utmost to extricate my soul from the fearful abyss over which it seemed to be suspended by a very slender cord. The meeting throughout proved an exercising one to me, without relief. My time was not the Lords time, neither could a disobedient servant expect other than to be “beaten with many stripes.”
Eighth Month 8th Quite an assemblage of coloued people were present at Georgetown on the 2nd inst in commemoration of the day that many of their race were emancipated from slavery in England, 8th Mo. 1st 1834. Also a political convention was held of a new party which has been gradually rising up within a few years, termed the “Free-soil-party.” This movement is preparatory to the nomination of a candidate for the Presidency on the “Free-soil platform,”
as many are becoming scrupulous relative to the promotion of men to important places in office who swerve from a testimony against the slaveholding system, and the extension of slave territory. The object apparently in view in this, I think a laudable one, and if successful, would be a great national blessing, provided the course pursued in bringing about such a result was at all times regulated by true christian principles But there is grounds to fear that this is not the case, as those most actively engaged therein, are men who have long been members of an association, the professed object of which is to effect the abolition of slavery - not only by political movements, and extensively discussing the subject both north and south - but by embracing
every opportunity within their reach to persuade, and convey the slaves away from those who claim to be their legal owners. A number of secret lines have for many years past been in successful operation through the “Free States” lying between the “Slave-States” and Canada, by which many slaves are annualy conveyed thither in the night season. These routes of conveyance are frequently spoken of as “under-ground-rail-roads” on account of the secret manner in which those candidates for freedom are removed from station to station towards the north-star. While I not only have no objection, but fully approve the exercise of our privileges at the “Ballot-box” in favour of freedom, together with the adoption of every right opening for peaceably convincing the Slaveholder of the impropriety of holding his fellow man in bondage, I have a testimony against the clandestine course thus pursued by the “Abolition party” as it eventually will, through those oft-repeated exasperative usurpations, be productive of serious consequences. I have therefore felt best satisfied, so far, to refrain from a participation with those thus engaged, but should nominations for important offices at any time in future be properly made, in favour of emancipation, or non-extention of slavery together with other desirable qualifications, I think I should not withold my “mite” at the Polls, for the cause of Freedom, and “National reforms” sake.
Ninth Month 16th Our Yearly Meeting commenced on the 5th inst, and closed on the 10th. The business thereof was transacted, but with a very limited degree of united feeling. The same cause still continues to obstruct the harmonious travail of spirit in our meetings for discipline which has existed amongst us for several years past, and what the result will be is yet in the future but many apprehend the occurrence of a separation not very far distant, which to me is sorrowful to contemplate. My heart was pained within me on hearing so much discussion in our recent annual assembly, and on seeing so little evidence in many of that deep indwelling of soul so essential to the advancement of the Redeemers Kingdom. I have reflected seriously on the sad condition which our once favoured society appears to be in, and earnest have been my desires that I may be rightly directed in judgment relative thereto, as also what is right, and best for us to do in regard to our removal to Iowa. Divine favour, and renewed visitations to my soul has seemed to be with me for several days past, causing me to feel tenderness of heart - and increased desires after good. O may I not slight these precious tokens of heavenly love, which past experience has taught me is not at my
command, but ever strive to dwell under the influence thereof in the lowly way of its coming, that I may become more humbled in spirit, and drawn nearer, and nearer, to the fountain and source of all good.
Tenth Month 3rd My apprentice boy (H. W. Casington) who left me about a year ago, and returned under promise of better conduct, continued to give a tolerable degree of satisfaction untill second day morning last, when he took offence at my wife for a very trifling cause and left us again. I sincerely hope he may do well, and prosper in best things, but knowing his natural disposition and proneness as perfectly as I do, I can but have my serious doubts. His wellfare, and general course of life will greatly depend on the class of society he places himself in, as he is much more easily influenced by his surroundings than many others, yet the gift of Grace is able to do all things for him if he will only heed, and obey it.
On returning home on the evening of the 30th of last month from making a final settlement of H. B. Hagues Estate, which has claimed my attention through much difficulty for near five years, my heart was affected with sorrow on learning that a sad, and awful circumstance had occurred the preceding morning between Wm. H. Watson and Edward B. Crue, both citizens of a village near my
residence, and in the prime of life. Watson was a man of common respectability amongst those whom he lived, owned a dry goods store, and was building a new dwelling house in the place - to aid him in the roofing of which he was using one of the two ladders which belonged to the town. Crue was raised a member of our Society, but was disowned for one of the many charges which might have been truthfully brought against him - that of accomplishing his marriage contrary to discipline. He was the youngest son of a family of several, and spoiled in his childhood, it is said, by a lack of proper management, and control on the part of his mother, consequently he grew up to mans estate with an inflexible will, and a furious, ungovernable temper, together with a reckless disregard of propriety, and integrity in his everyday walks, and intercourse amongst men. His persistence in the selling of liquor to those of intemperate habits had for some time past been exceedingly annoying to his respectable neighbors, and fellow citizens - all entreaties, and attempts at legal restraints proving unavailing. In short, the prevailing impression appeared to be that a more willfully wicked man could hardly be found near the place where he lived, and as might be expected his friends were therefore few - and amongst those few
Watson was said to be one. Crue being in need of a ladder on the morning before mentioned made inquiry of Watson relative to the one in his possession, and on being informed that it was in use, he started across the street as though in pursuit of another. Watson through lack of confidence kept an eye on him till he saw him turn his course and walk towards his new house, where he quickly went the nearest way to the foot of the ladder, where he was standing when Crue arrived. After passing a few words, Crue pushed Watson a piece backwards, and siezed the ladder to carry it away, when Watson, under extreme provocation struck him on the head with the edge side of a garden paling, breaking his skull in close above, and slightly back of the ear, rendering him insensible almost immediately I went to see him the next morning - and again in the evening - his appearance was ghastly beyond expression - calculated to make a deep, and lasting impression on the mind. His breathing was that of a heavy, and very loud snore, which could be distinctly heard a square distant. I was one that staid with him the following night, till after his death which took place about midnight. It appeared to me to be an awful death. Every consideration in connection with it seemed to be attended with the most intense degree of awful solemnity, and fearful apprehension
of his eternal doom. The funeral, which was large took place this afternoon The house was filled to overflowing, and many in the streets. Rebecca Updegraph was in attendance and spoke at some length standing in the front door, commencing with the passage, “Think, ye that those eighteen on whom the Tower of Siloam fell were sinners above all men in Jerusalem? I tell you nay! but except ye repent ye shall all likewise perish.” Watson is not yet arrested - cannot be found. It is thought he will be cleared on a plea of self defence.
Tenth Month 10th I was deeply tried on Sixth-day night last, on account of a party of youngsters, including several of our own members, collecting at the place where I was at work, and from apparent symptoms many of them were employed in dancing after music till late in the night. I cautioned those who were members to refrain from a participation therein - and I know no further than they were at least present with those who were very unprofitably occupied, partakers of the vain frivolities of the evening. No time for serious reflection. No place for sober thoughtfulness - scarcely a sense of the reality permitted, that each possessed an immortal, never dying soul that must some day give an account. I sincerely
hope that my precious little children may ever be preserved from such - and such like evils I feel ardently desirous to do all in my power to impress their tender minds of the evil tendency of such a course. O! the responsibility that rests on parents relative to the right training of children. The present family is all that a lifetime is capable of bestowing the requisitions of duty upon, and if that proves a failure, it is a failure forever - there is no opportunity to recall. There are many things continually passing in the world calculated to fascinate, to tempt, and draw away from truth and soberness. Our annual county Fairs are becoming a place of great resort. Many have been attending it during a part of the last week, and though plausible in its profession, it is gradually assuming the elements of a place of diversion rather than that of usefulness. When Fairs first originated in this country a few years since, but little was then introduced to render them objectionable. They were simply county agricultural meetings at which the farmers clubs in the different Townships made their annual reports, and exhibited their stock and produce At that time many Friends participated in them, while some had their doubts whereunto it would grow, of which number I was one, and therefore hesitated to attend them Like every
other enterprise in which the general mass predominates, they were not long permited to remain in the simplicity but in accordance with the natural proneness of man for amusement, one thing after another was admited, till at the recent exhibition I learn, a Band of Musicians was employed - and a nearer approach than usual to horse racing was encouraged, besides many other additional improprieties unbecoming a sober minded people. We read of George Fox and others of our early Friends being at Fairs, but not for the purpose of amusing themselves, but in search of the souls of the people, labouring to draw them away from the vanities of the world to the life and power of Christ. It appears to me that the day calls loudly for those who desire to live soberly and righteously in this present world which lyeth in wickedness, to watch very closely the paths of their feet, and keep out of the contaminating mixtures, by and through which, I fear many are drawn aside, and their progress in the Truth eventually marred O, that myself and family may be preserved from all such hurtful things is the secret desire, and prayer of my soul. May we individually strive to draw near unto the Lord, that we may be enabled to keep out of the world and the spirit thereof - for our time here is short even though we should fill the measure of old age, and no time to lose in preparing for the world to come, which is everlasting.
Tenth Month 18th I heard to day of a company of Friends composed of Joseph Brantingham and some of his children and others, starting to Minesota with intentions to select homes there, after which Joseph expected to return. When they had arrived at a town in Illinois near the Mississippi river, Joseph was taken with the Cholera and died after an illness of nine hours. Shortly after the balance of the company reached their place of destination, another of their number died, and the rest, I have understood returned - the object in view therefore proving a failure. It has appeared to me that there is a warning voice in this, to consider well, nor attempt to make an important move without divine approbation. I feel this to be very applicable to myself in my present situation. May I bear it in mind, nor move too hastily.
Eleventh Month 2nd I did not vote for General Scott at the Presidential Election to day, chiefly owing to his notoriety as a general in the Mexican war, being the leading cause of his nomination. I can but feel it an inconsistency in a people who profess to bear a faithful testimony against war, to assist in promoting a man to office whose qualifications are of no higher value than his achievements in the distruction of the lives of his fellow beings in the army.
4th For sometime past I have felt but little like removing to Iowa, and yet I know of no opening for the purchase of a suitable farm here that our means will reach. I sometimes think it might be the best to accept the proposition recently made, to trade land in Iowa for our old home again. If I could also trade for a small farm which lays adjoining it would appear more suitable, on account of an occupation at home for my boys. I have long had the subject of removing west under consideration, and yet I feel greatly at a stand. Could I feel that the move would be a right one, and really the best for ourselves, and the moral and spiritual wellfare of our children, I would hesitate no further - but this is my chief fear, and concern in regard to it. The best wellfare of my children feels very nearly connected, and equal with my own. Strong desires are present with me for their preservation from evil, and their advancement in the things that belong to their peace. Sorrowful would be the consideration - and heavy the burden upon me, should I see that I had placed them where the surrounding influences was effecting them otherwise.
Twelfth Month 5th went to meeting on foot with
my little boys. Joseph Edgerton was there and had considerable to say by way of encouragement to the rightly exercised. I could not feel the weight of his ministry as fully as I desired. The cause I fear was within myself. O! that I may be more aroused in spirit to see, and feel my own condition, and strive earnestly to improve.
9th Myself and wife attended meeting on foot, after which we dined at Nathan Halls, and spent he afternoon with others of the school committee in visiting the Friends school of that neighborhood. As we walked together on our way home, serious meditations occupied my mind, and desires were raised in my heart that I might devote myself more fully to the requirings of a gracious Redeemer who has long been pleading with me to return and serve Him unreservedly.
13th Sober thoughtfulness was my portion to day while busily engaged in my daily labour, feeling myself miserable and undone without a Saviour,- capable of doing no good thing. A renewed sense of that which I have often before been favoured with seemed to prevail with me - that it was impossible to do the will of the most High without His immediate presence and help. That a change of heart must be experienced before the soul can love the presence of the Lord, and serve, and worship Him acceptably
Twelfth Month 31st Evening - Another year has almost closed, and I am still here a monument of the mercy, and goodness of my heavenly Father. I am still here, and but little if any improvement in spiritual things since this time last year. Except I receive help beyond my deserts, what will become of my poor soul? Except I experience more earnestness of spirit, and come to live nearer to the fountain and source of all good, I fear and tremble lest the awful consequences of willful disobedience should overtake me. “What shall I do to be saved” has often been my cry, and yet there is something within me that shrinks from coming down to the true place of waiting that I may be strengthened thereby to overcome that which holds my soul in bondage, and enter into newness of life O for a willingness, and a more earnest concern on my part to become a true servant of the Lord. O for a more constant humility that the haughtiness of the creature might be laid low and kept in subjection, that the Truth in its brightness and purity might rise into dominion over every evil thing. O for strength to keep my covenants more faithfully, for in consideration of my many failures to do so, I at times almost dispair of mercy and forgiveness.
My covenant during our sore affliction some months since is often before me, accompanied by a sorrowful sense that I am coming far short of a fulfilment thereof When I remember my many broken covenants and backslidings, and that it is written - “The spirit of the Lord shall not always strive with man.” I exceedingly fear that I can hardly again find favour in his sight - or that I may even be suddenly cut off without excuse. O that this may not be the case, but that His forbearance and tender mercy may still be extended towards me, a poor weak, fallen creature - that His good spirit may continue to be near me, and afford ability to come taste and see that He is good and be saved. O that His hand may not spare, nor His eye pity till judgment is brought forth unto victory, and my soul so thoroughly purged from all corruption as to live well pleasing in His sight Could I only constantly feel the reality as I now do, that the present time only is mine to improve - that the year now gone is gone forever, and that before another rolls round my opportunities here may be no more. Yes the grave may be enveloping this mortal body, and the soul have sunk into the depths of eternity receiving the reward for misspent time. O the great importance of working while it is day, that the soul may be prepared to trust confidently in the
Lord for his mercury interpositions, when this awful period shall come. Could I only always feel the great necessity of this as I now do, it appears to me that I would strive more earnestly to live within the spiritual enclosure - nearer to the fountain of grace and Truth - more in the immediate presence of the Lord - within the reach of help and strength to do His will - and obtain ultimate salvation by, and through the workings of His good spirit within me.
O that I may be favoured more constantly to feel this and know an advancement in the Truth - for-
The time will surely come when I must go,
And leave the world and all its care behind;
And the soul - whether prepared for death or no,
Must to its destiny become resigned.
Go to: 1853.