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Title: A Biographical Sketch of the Life and Character of Joseph Charless
In a Series of Letters to his Grandchildren

Author: Charlotte Taylor Blow Charless

Release Date: September 6, 2007 [EBook #22534]

Language: English


Produced by John Young Le Bourgeois

of the

Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever
things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are
lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue,
and if there be any praise, think on these things. Phil., chap.4,
verse 8.



Letter One


We are reminded daily of the uncertainty of human life: for the
young and the old, the gay and the grave, the good and the wicked, are
subject to death. Young people do not realize this, but it is
nevertheless true, and before you are old enough, my children, to
understand and lay to heart all that your mother would tell you of her
dearly beloved father, she may be asleep with grandma, close beside him
in Bellefontaine. An earthly inheritance is highly esteemed among men.
For this reason great efforts are made by them to lay up treasures for
their children. They know not, however, who shall gather them, for
“riches take to themselves wings and fly away.” But a good man leaveth
an inheritance to his children, and to his children’s children, which
is as stable as the throne of the Most High. Like the stream that
gathers strength from every rivulet, and grows deeper, and broader, and
more majestic, until the myriads of crystal drops are received into the
bosom of the mighty deep, so likewise is the legacy of a good man. It
descends to his child by birthright, and through the rich mercy of a
covenant-keeping God, widens and extends its life-giving power, flowing
on and on, as rivers of water, into the boundless ocean of God’s love.

Your grandfather, my beloved children, was a great man. Not as a
warrior, nor as a statesman, nor in any sense which is simply of the
earth, earthy. But he was great by being the possessor of a rare
combination of moral worth and Christian excellence, which made him a
blessing to his race. In other words, he was great because he was
truly good. In the midst of his days of usefulness he was cut off from
the land of the living. His precious remains rest quietly in the fresh
made grave; his immortal spirit has winged its flight to the mansions
of the blessed, for “blessed are the dead who die in the Lord, for they
rest from their labors, and their works do follow them.”

While endeavoring, in much weakness, to put together for your perusal such
facts as may present to your minds a faithful likeness of the noble man
from whom you have descended, I sincerely pray that you may be stimulated,
by the grace of God, to follow him even as he followed Christ.

Affectionately yours, GRANDMA.

BELMONT, January 7, 1860

Letter Two


If you will look in your mother’s Bible, you will find that your
grandfather, JOSEPH CHARLESS, was born in Lexington, Kentucky, on the
17th of January, 1804; that his father, whose name was also Joseph
Charless, was born July 16th, 1772, in Westmeath, Ireland, being the
only son of Captain Edward Charles, whose father, (or paternal
ancestor, John Charles), was born in Wales and emigrated to Ireland in
the year 1663.

Your great-grandfather, Jos. Charles, fled from his native country to
France, in consequence of his having been implicated in the Rebellion of
1795, “at the head of which figured the young and noble
Emmet, who fell a sacrifice for loving too well his enslaved country.”
After remaining a short time in France, he sailed for the United States
of America, where he arrived in 1796, landing at the city of New York.
Upon his arrival in the United States he added an s to his name to
secure the Irish pronunciation of Charles, which makes it two syllables
instead of one, as pronounced by us.

He settled in Philadelphia, and being a printer by trade, he
secured a situation with Matthew Carey, “who, at that time, did the
largest publishing business in the Quaker City.” He often boasted of
having printed the first quarto edition of the Bible that was ever
issued in the United States. In 1798 he married Mrs. Sarah McCloud, a
widow (with one child), whose maiden name was Jorden.

Sarah Jorden was born January 28, 1771, near Wilmington,
Delaware. During the American Revolution her parents, with their
family, were driven by the Hessians from their home in Delaware, and
resided subsequently in Philadelphia.

In the year 1800 Mr. and Mrs. Charless removed from Philadelphia
to Lexington, Kentucky; to Louisville in 1806, and to St. Louis in
1808. In July of that year Mr. Charless founded the “Missouri
Gazette,” now known as the “Missouri Republican,” of which he was
editor and sole proprietor for many years. This is the first newspaper
of which St. Louis can boast, and I am told it still has the largest
circulation of any paper west of the Alleghany Mountains.

As regards the character of your great-grandfather, he was a
noble specimen of the Irish gentleman-–impulsive-warm-heartedness being
his most characteristic trait. He was polite and hospitable, his
countenance cheerful, his conversation sprightly and humorous. Sweet
is the memory of the times when his children and friends gathered
around his plentiful board. Often have we seen him entering his
gateway, followed by the mendicant, who would soon return thither
literally laden down with provisions from his well-stored larder. His
wife was no less hospitable, not less charitable and kind to the poor,
but more cautious. She was of the utilitarian school, and could not
bear to see anything go to waste, or anything unworthily bestowed. Not
so easily touched with the appearance of sorrow as her husband was, but
always ready to relieve the wants of those she knew to be destitute,
she would herself administer to the sick with a full heart and a
generous hand. But she had a natural aversion to indolence, and would
not give a penny to any she esteemed so, lest it should tend to
increase this unmeritorious propensity. She was herself exceedingly
industrious, and took great delight in making her family comfortable,
and, in fact, supplying the wants of every living thing about her, even
to the cat and the dog. “She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her
hands hold the distaff. She riseth also while it is yet dark, and
giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens.”

Both possessed honorable pride, and were plain, unpretending
people, making no claim to an aristocratic ancestry, but, after a long
life spent in a growing city of considerable size, they died, leaving
many to speak their praises, and not one, that I have ever heard of, to
say aught against them. He departed this life at the age of sixty-two,
having enjoyed robust health until within two weeks of his death. His
widow was “gathered as a shock of corn, fully ripe, into the garner of
the Lord,” at the advanced age of eight-one.

From an obituary notice of her I will quote the following lines:
“Mrs. Sarah Charless was an exemplary Christian, and was one of the
most zealous and untiring in her exertions to build up the Presbyterian
Church established in this city under the pastoral care of the Rev.
Salmon Giddings. Eminently charitable in her disposition, and ever
willing to alleviate the evils of others, she endeared to her all upon
whom the hand of misfortune hung heavily. Well was it said of her by
one of the most eminent men of our State–-the Hon. Edward Bates–-that
she was a woman upon whom the young man, far from friends and home,
could always rely.”

Of a family of eight children, viz: Robert McCloud, Edward,
John, Joseph, Anne, Eliza, Chapman, and Sarah Charless, Joseph alone
was left in this pilgrimage word to mourn for his mother. Eliza
Wahrendorff, daughter of Anne Charless Wahrendorff, and Lizzie
Charless, your own dear mother, were the only grandchildren left to
mingle their tears with his. Great was the void caused in our small
family circle when this excellent woman, this aged Christian, this
revered and much loved parent was laid in the silent tomb. It is sweet
now to think about her love of flowers, and how often she would say,
when they commenced shooting up in early spring, that they reminded her
of the resurrection morning. May you, my dear mother, realize the
blessedness of this truth–-when Jesus shall bid his redeemed ones rise
from the cold ground which has so long shrouded them-–and come forth,
more beautiful than the hyacinth, to bloom forever on the borders of
the river of life! And may you, my sweet children, have a pleasant and
happy childhood, loving all that is lovely and hating all this is evil,
that you may grow up to be good men and women; and in old age, when
memory fails, may you, like her, rejoice and revel again amid the
innocent scenes of early life, looking through them up to that glorious
world above us, where the “inhabitant shall no more say he is sick,” or
shall feel the infirmities of age.

Affectionately, GRANDMA.

Letter Three


You, Charless and Louis, often say to me, “Grandma, tell me about
when you were a little girl,” and many a little story have I told you.
But now I am going to tell you about “Grandpa,” when he was a little

That dear, good grandpa, who looked young to grandma, but who
looked so old to you, with his pretty, glossy grey hair, was once a
little boy, just like you are. He had a dear mamma, too, who tenderly
loved him, but she used to punish him when he was naughty, and kiss him
when he was good, just as your mamma does to you. He was a very
obstinate little fellow, though, and generally submitted to a good deal
of punishment before he would confess his fault and beg for
forgiveness. His mamma would sometimes tie him to the bed-post, but he
would pull against the string until his arm would almost bleed, and
frequently he would free himself by gnawing the cord in two. But he
was a good-humored little boy for all that, and “mischievous as a house
pig,” his mother used to say. Once she locked him up, for some naughty
trick, in a room where there were a number of nice fresh made cheeses,
arranged around for the purpose of drying, and said to him, “Stay
there, Joe, until you mean to be good, and then I will let you out.”
He very soon knocked at the door, calling out, “Mamma, mamma, I’ll be
good now,” and his mamma thought “my little son is conquered very soon
this time; he is certainly improving.” She opened the door, but what,
do you suppose, was her dismay, when she found that the “little rogue”
had bit a mouthful out of every cheese!

When he was a small child he strayed off from the house, away
down to the spring, and, stooping down to see the pretty clear water,
fell in, and came near being drowned. Oh, how his poor mother did cry,
when her sweet little boy was brought to her so pale, and almost
lifeless. But she rubbed him and warmed him until he came to, and was
as well as ever; and his mamma thought “surely such an accident will
never again happen to my dear little son.” But when he grew to be a
larger boy, some time after his parents had removed from Kentucky to
St. Louis, he went one day with some boys to have a swimming match in
the Mississippi river. Most boys like to swim or wade in the water,
and sometimes are so eager for the sport that they forget, or give no
heed to the expressed commands of their parents; and many a boy has
lost his life by breaking the fifth commandment, which says, “Honor thy
father and thy mother, that thy days may be long in the land which the
Lord thy God giveth thee.” Many a boy who, had he lived, might have
become a good and noble-hearted man, doing much good in the world, has
thus early been summoned suddenly and unprepared before the judgment
bar of God, simply for having forgotten, in a moment of pleasurable
excitement, to honor his parents by a strict obedience to their
commands. But, thanks to our Heavenly Father, this was not the case
with little Joseph Charless, for, although he was drawn by the current
of the terrible Mississippi into a whirling eddy, he was saved from
such a dreadful doom. A good, brave boy, who was larger than he, and a
better swimmer, rushed into the whirl and pulled him out to the shore.
Poor little fellow! he was almost gone, for he was insensible, and it
was some time before he breathed freely again. He was carried home–-to
that dear home which came so near being made desolate-–and with
deep penitence did he confess his fault and beg for pardon. His last
thoughts when he was drowning (as he thought) were, “I have disobeyed
my mother! It will break my poor mother’s heart!”

Children have a great deal of curiosity, and perhaps you will
ask, “how did grandma know so much about grandpa when he was a little
boy? Was she a little girl then, and did she live in St. Louis, too?”
No, my children, when my parents moved to St. Louis I was a young lady
and grandpa was a young gentleman. We soon became acquainted, however,
and after awhile we were married, and then I took a strange fancy to
learn all about him from the time he was a little baby in his mother’s
arms; and when I ventured to ask his mother a few questions about him,
I found it pleased her so much that I was encouraged to ask many more.
And now it seems to me I have known grandpa always, and was with him
when he used to go with his mamma and little brothers and sisters into
the country, with a company of the neighbors, all in little French
carts, to gather strawberries and blackberries, which grew in abundance
in Lucas Place, Chouteau avenue, and all about, where now are elegant
mansions and paved streets. It was then a prairie, with clumps of
trees here and there, springs of water and sweet wild flowers.

He told me himself about his frolics with the French boys (many
of whom were his earliest and truest friends), how they used to have
match-eating pancake parties, in the day of the pancake festival in the
Catholic Church; and about his youthful gallantries, and how
desperately in love he was once with a very smart, pretty creole girl,
and how the discovery of “a hole in her stocking” drove the little god
of love from his breast.

But these anecdotes and incidents were, perhaps, more interesting
to his wife than they will be to you. Well, then, I will tell you an
Indian story, for I have never known a boy yet that did not like to
hear about the Indians. You know the poor things are now nearly
exterminated from the face of the earth. In the early history of St.
Louis, I find that they lived not far off, having pitched their wigwams
only a little farther to the west, for the white man, in intruding upon
their hunting grounds, had driven them, with the elk, the deer and the
buffalo, still farther from the Atlantic coast, which they once claimed
as their own rightful property. These poor savages, however, would
often come into the town to see “the white-faced children of the Great
Spirit;” to buy their beads and other fine things to dress up in; and
that they might show them how fierce they looked, their faces streaked
with every variety of paint, and their hair all shaved off excepting a
little bunch on the top of their heads which they reserved as a
fastening for their feathers and other head ornaments, of which they
were very fond. But, I dare say, if you have never seen Indians, you
have seen their pictures. It was real sport for the boys to see them
dance, and listen to their wild songs and savage yells.

But to my story. There was an old Indian who was a great thief.
He was seen alone, generally, prowling about the town, peeping through
the fences into the yards, watching out for chickens, or anything he
could shoot with his arrow, or slip under his blanket. Little Joseph
Charless had watched this famous old Indian thief, and determined to
punish him for his wickedness. To accomplish this purpose, he armed
himself with plenty of dried squashes, which he kept in the garret of
his father’s house, near to the gable window, that fronted on the
street. He watched his opportunity, and one day, as the Indian passed
by, he threw a squash down upon the old fellow’s head. Soon after he
peeped out to see if it had struck him, when whiz went the arrow, just
grazing his face and sticking tight and firm into the window beam above
his head! This fright cured him of “playing tricks upon travelers,” at
least for awhile.

You see now, my dear children, from what I have told you, that
“grandpa” was just such a boy as you are–-fond of fun and frolic, and
of playing tricks.

I have said nothing of his love of school and books. But I think
he was about as fond of both as boys usually are. When a little boy he
was sent to the village school, and after he became large enough to
work, he was put to work in his father’s printing office. By the time
he became a pretty good printer, a school of a higher grade than any
St. Louis had yet afforded was opened in the country, and his father
gladly availed himself of this opportunity to continue the education of
his son. He was a pupil in this school for some time, after which he
commenced the study of the law, agreeably to his father’s wishes, under
the supervision of Francis Spalding, who was at that time an eminent
lawyer in St. Louis. After having read law awhile, he was sent to
complete his legal education at the Transylvania University, Kentucky.

While in the printing office he and another boy received a
terrible flogging one day for laughing at a poor, unfortunate man, who
had a very bad impediment in his speech, which being accompanied, with
ludicrous gestures and grimaces, was more than their youthful
risibility could withstand. They made a manly, but vain attempt to
suppress a roar of laughter, which only gathered strength from being
dammed up, and at last burst over all bounds. I never could forgive
his father for whipping the poor boys so severely for what they could
not avoid. He was too just and generous a man, however, to have been
so unmerciful, if his better feelings and his better judgment had not
been warped by a burst of passion.

The following is from the pen of his old friend and playmate, Mr.
N. P., of St. Louis:

“You ask me to state what I know of the early character of your
late husband. This I proceed to do. In his boyhood there were not the
same temptations in St. Louis to irregularity of habits and vice that
assail the young men of the present day. I do not think I err when I
say that Joseph Charless was a good boy-–kind, tractable, obedient to
his parents, and giving them no further solicitude than such as every
parent may well feel when watching the progress of a son to manhood.
He had no bad habits. As a boy, there was nothing dishonorable about
him, and he had quite as few frailties, or weaknesses, as attach to any
of us. In the sports and amusements of that day he stood well with his
fellows, and was well received in ever society. Of course, from what I
have said, you will infer that he was of an amiable disposition,
exhibiting less of heated temper than most of us. Not quick in
inviting a quarrel, but, being in, defending himself resolutely and
manfully. I do not think he was the favorite of his parents at that
day. Edward was. John, another brother, was passionate and hard to
govern, but he was the only one of the family who had these qualities
in a marked degree.

“I think Joseph gave as little cause for anxiety to his parents
and friends as any boy could possibly do. He has been taken from us,
and I have written in a more public manner (as editor of ‘The
Republican’) my estimate of his character in all the relations of
life,” &c.,&c.

At the age of twelve years, his brother John, who was two years
older than himself, was taken sick and died. This was the first great
sorrow that your dear grandfather ever knew. I have often heard him
speak of it, but never without a shade passing over his countenance,
denoting that time could not efface the recollection of that painful
event. Oh, how his loving young heart must have swelled with
unutterable grief when his playmate brother lay in his coffin, so still
and cold, his hands clasped upon his breast, with cheeks so pale, and
his bright blue eyes dimmed and closed! But grandpa still had brothers
and sisters left, and a kind father and mother. The world which looked
so dark, soon became a pleasant world to him again; the flowers looked
pretty and the air was fresh, and he was again seen sporting and
romping. But at night, when he knelt down to pray, and his thoughts
went up to Heaven, he would think of his brother, and, weeping, to
relieve his little, aching heart, he would go to bed, feeling lonely
and sad.

Did you ever think what a blessing it is to go to sleep, my dear
little children? What pleasant dreams; and how gay and bright the
morning appears after a good night’s rest upon a comfortable bed. And
do you ever think how good God is to have given you a praying mother,
when so many little children have never heard of God or Heaven?
Grandpa had a Christian mother, too, and she taught him to pray. She
told him all about the great God who made Heaven and earth, and all
things, and about his SON JESUS, who came into the world as a little
child; that, though rich, he became poor, and was laid in a manger.
This blessed Jesus is your friend. He can hear, and he can answer your
prayers, and knows all you think and feel, all that you say and do.

Affectionately yours, GRANDMA.

BELMONT, January, 1860.

Letter Four


Twelve months have elapsed since I first made an attempt, by
writing, to make you acquainted with your beloved grandfather, who
departed this life on the 4th of June, 1859.

I am still a mourner-–such an one as I hope, as I earnestly
pray, none of you may ever be. My poor heart is desolate! I have no
home in this world, and I long for Heaven. I would gladly lay me down
in the grave, but God knows what is best for me, and He does all things
well. Then to my task, for I have a portrait to make-–a portrait for
you to look at, to imitate, to love, and to reverence. Not a likeness
of the external man: you have that to perfection-–so perfect that a
friend, who knew him well, remarked, upon looking at it, that the
artist must have been inspired. But to show the inner life and the
daily walk of that dear man who, for twenty-seven years, six months and
twenty-seven days, was the sharer of my joys and sorrows, and the prop
of my earthly existence, is a more delicate task. In a few words I
could sum up his life and character, for there was nothing
extraordinary in it, excepting extraordinary goodness; but, then, how
could my dear children, from a few abstract ideas thrown hastily
together, see the path he trod, in all its windings, compare it with
that of others, and with their own, and learn the lessons it teaches?
I do not mean by “extraordinary goodness” that your grandfather had no
faults-–that he never did wrong-–for then, you know, he would have
been an angel, not a man.

With these preliminaries, I shall endeavor, in much weakness, to
set him before you in such a light that you will not fail to see and
understand him, and to feel, too, the sweet influences of a presence
that always brought with it happiness and peace.

On the 8th of May, 1830, my father, Captain Peter Blow, arrived at
St. Louis with his family, consisting of my mother, my two sisters, my
four brothers, and myself. We landed at the wharf of our future home
on the steamer Atlantic. This being the finest boat that had ever
reached this distant western city, the Captain, who was evidently proud
of it, proposed to give to the good citizens of this goodly city of ten
thousand inhabitants a select pleasure-party on board of her, that,
with music, dancing and feasting, they might, to the best advantage,
appreciate its dimensions, its comforts and elegancies. My sisters and
self having accepted the cordial invitation of the Captain, who had
treated us with great kindness and consideration while passengers on
his boat, and, attended by our father and a gentleman whom we had
formerly known, and who had been residing in the city for a few months,
made our appearance for the first time in St. Louis society. Our
mother, who was a perfect pattern of propriety, advised us to equip
ourselves in our nicest street dresses, and, being strangers, not to
participate at all in the dance. Consequently, we were there in the
position of “lookers-on in Vienna.” We made good use of our eyes, and
kept time to the music in our hearts, but used our feet only in
promenading. During the evening I observed several ladies with much
interest, but was greatly attracted with but one gentleman, whom I
first noticed sitting opposite to us, leaning back in his chair. There
was a calm serenity overspreading his handsome features, which wore a
joyousness of expression that was irresistible. I pointed him out to
our escort, and inquired who he was. He could not tell me; still I
could not but observe him. He waltzed once with the belle of the
evening (a Miss Selby). My eyes followed them; and I see your dear
grandfather now, just as he looked then. He was about the medium size
–-five feet nine inches high, and well proportioned; his complexion
rather fair, hair dark. His beard was closely shaved, but showed, from
the soft, penciled tints about his mouth and chin, that it was likewise
black. His eyes were grey. With considerable gaiety of disposition,
he evinced a gentleness, a suavity, and a modest grace of deportment,
which I have never seen surpassed, if equaled.

In a few weeks Mr. Charless sought an introduction to us, and
from that time he became a constant visitor at our house, and in
fifteen months from our first acquaintance, he declared himself a
suitor for my hand and heart, promising to use the best efforts of his
life to make me happy.

I could tell you a good many incidents of our early acquaintance
–-of our pleasure-rides in pleasant weather, in gig or on horseback,
and of our merry sleigh-rides in winter. Delightful recollections
crowd upon me, and, if I were given to novel-writing, I could weave
them into a very pretty little love-story; but then I would have to
make myself the heroine. There was a little Scotch song, however, that
he used to sing to me, and as it will afford me a sweet, sad pleasure
to recall it, I will do so, at least as much of it as I can recollect:

“Come over the heather, we’ll trip thegither
All in the morning early;
With heart and hand I’ll by thee stand,
For in truth I lo’e thee dearly,
There’s mony a lass I lo’e fu’ well,
And mony that lo’e me dearly,
But there’s ne’er a lass beside thysel’
I e’er could lo’e sincerely,
Come over the heather, we’ll trip thegither,
All in the morning early;
With heart and hand I’ll by thee stand,
For in truth I lo’e thee dearly.”

I have before me now the first letter I ever received from him,
expressing what he had several times in vain attempted to speak. For
although he was at no loss for thoughts, or words in which to clothe
them, in ordinary conversation, yet, whenever he felt a desire to open
his heart to me on the subject of his love, he became so much agitated
that he had not the courage to venture, and finally wrote and sent me
the following letter:

After a brief and simple introduction, he says: "That I love, you
is but a faint expression of my feelings, and should I be so happy as
to have that feeling reciprocated by you, I pledge you the best efforts
of my life to promote your happiness. Nature, I fear, has wrought me
in her rougher mould, and unfitted me to appear to advantage in an
undertaking like this, in which so much delicacy of sentiment seems to
be required in these, our days of refinement. Such as I am-–and I have
endeavored to appear without any false coloring--I offer myself a
candidate for your affections, for your love. You have known me long
enough to find out my faults--for none are without them--and to
discover what virtues I may have (if any), and, from these, to form a
just estimate of my character.

"I feel that my future happiness, in a great measure, depends on
your answer. But suspense to me is the greatest source of unhappiness.
Naturally impatient and sanguine, I cannot rest until the result is
known. May I hope that my offer will be favorably received, and that
hereafter I may subscribe myself, as now, Your devoted, JOS. CHARLESS,

If this seems like a "love-letter" to you, my dear children, it
does not to me, for it does not embody half of the love and devotion
which I ever received from my husband, from the time we stood at the
hymenial altar, until, in his last, faint whisper, while he gazed with
unutterable tenderness, he said, "I--love--you!"

But I must try to forget, while I am writing to you, my dear
children, that I am bereaved. I must not let my sorrows give a coloring
to every page, for I know how natural it is to the young to delight in
pleasant things, and to flee from that which is gloomy; and, besides, I
cannot leave a faithful impression upon your minds of what he was,
unless I enter into the spirit of the past, when our sweet home was
full of joy, and gladness.

And why should I not be joyous again? Have I not dear children
to love me, and is not my dear husband alive, and shall I not see him
again? Is not God still good, and has he ever tried me more than I am
able to bear? Was he not with me in the deep waters? "I know that in
very faithfulness Thou hast afflicted me."

Then let me cease my murmurings; or, rather, let me check my
yearnings for what I can never have again--a faithful, loving heart,
to bear with me my sorrows, and a strong arm to lean upon. Yes, there
is a strong arm upon which I can lean. May I have faith to make use of
it! There is a "Friend who sticketh closer than a brother," to whom I
can unburden my heart.

Affectionately yours, GRANDMA.

BELMONT, January, 1861.

Letter Five


We were married on the 8th of November, 1831. No costly
arrangements were made for the occasion. The death of my sweet mother
having occurred a few months previous would alone have prevented
display and revelry; but, besides this sad event, my father had become
greatly reduced in circumstances, and could afford no better
preparations for the wedding of his child than such as could be made at
home. Evergreens, provided by my little brothers, and festooned with
flowers by my sisters, set off to great advantage the transparent white
curtains, and gave a look of freshness and gaiety to our neat, but
plain parlor; and the cake, with its plain icing, showed more than the
confectioner's skill in its whiteness and flavor.

The circle of Mr. Charless' own immediate family, and a few
friends he wished to invite, with some of our own, composed the
company. And, since I am dealing in minutiae, I will tell you how the
bride was dressed. She wore a plain, white satin dress, (made by
herself), trimmed about the waist and sleeves with crape-lisse, which
gave a becoming softness to the complexion of the arms and neck, which
were bare. A simple wreath of white flowers entwined in her black hair,
without veil, laces or ornaments, (save the pearls which were the
marriage gift of her betrothed), completed her toilet. The graceful and
talented Dr. Potts (Mr. then) performed the marriage ceremony, saying,
"what God hath joined together, let not man put asunder."

My father, who had always been in comfortable circumstances, had,
however, never been rich; and, notwithstanding he had been called to
encounter many untoward events in life, we had never known what it was
to want, until we came to St. Louis. This last move, which was fraught
with brilliant hopes, in a monetary point of view, proved most
disastrous, and, in a few short months, his little all of earthly goods
was gone, and his faithful, loving help-meet laid away to sleep in the
cold earth, and he, himself, declining in health, depressed and

Our new home was a sad place, and it was joyous, too; for young
hearts were there throbbing with pleasurable emotions, which sorrow and
disappointment, though they checked, could not destroy. And young
heads were there, big with the future; and Hope, which could not be hid
by the darkness that surrounded us, sat enthroned as a queen, ever
pointing us to the beautiful castle in the distant mist, and by her
reflex influence coloring even the dreary present with her rainbow-tints.

A few days after our marriage we were received, as members of the
family, at the house of my husband's parents. Upon our arrival there,
we found the house brilliantly illuminated, for "Joseph was coming home
with his bride," and the old people must have a grand reception!
Everybody came that evening, and everybody called on the bride
afterwards. Next morning, however, some of the realities of life
commenced. We were late to breakfast, and, to my dismay, the breakfast
was over. I glanced at my husband, who seemed a little embarrassed. But
a cordial greeting from his mother, who was busy in the adjoining room
"ridding up," and an affectionate kiss from his sister (Mrs.
Wahrendorff), who immediately advanced upon our entrance into the room,
made things a little more pleasant. We sat down together, and alone.
Hot batter-cakes, etc., which were covered up near the fire, were soon
placed upon the table, by the servant, and our plain, old-fashioned
mother (who was no woman for nonsense) very unceremoniously told me to
"pour out the coffee." What a downfall for a bride!

But this was not all. Upon my return to my room, after the
departure of Mr. Charless to the store, I found that it was just as we
had left it, and not cleaned and put in order, as I supposed it would
have been. Mrs. Wahrendorff followed me, and offered (smiling) to
assist me in making my bed, which I courteously accepted; and, finding
that I was to be my own chamber-maid, I asked for a broom, which she
sent to me. How long I had had that broom in hand I do not remember,
but, while standing in the middle of the room, leaning on its handle,
absorbed in rather disagreeable reflections, (all of which I might have
been saved if I had known then, as I do now, that no disrespect was
intended by these stranger relations), I happened to look out of the
window, down into the street, when what should I see but the uplifted
countenance of my husband, beaming with happiness and joy. Our eyes
met, and, in a few moments, he entered the apartment, which had been
very prettily fitted up, expressly for us. There was a shade of
mortification on his whole-souled face, mingled with a playful humor,
as he said: "Has mother put you to work already?" A kind embrace, with
"I must make some other arrangement, dear--this will not do"--brought
me to my senses, and I insisted (without prevailing, however), upon
conforming to his mother's wishes in all things. "I had been
accustomed to do house-work (much to the credit of my sensible mother,
who, although a Virginian, taught her daughters self-reliance and many
useful lessons in house-wifery), but I only felt strange, and a little
home-sick; I would soon get over that, however." A few crystal tears
fell, not mixed with sorrow; for how could sorrow find a place for such
trifles in a heart so conscious of having just obtained a treasure, in
a noble and devoted husband?

The next event of consequence that will aid in developing to your
minds the character and disposition of your revered grandfather,
occurred a few weeks after the circumstances related above. Mr.
Edward Charless, who was married and settled a few squares from us,
sent one evening an invitation to his brother to come over and make one
of a card-party-–to be sure to come, for they could not do without
him. He went. Upon his return, about twelve o'clock, he found me
still up, waiting for him. He saw I felt badly. Not an unpleasant word
passed between us, and nothing was said about it afterwards, that I
recollect. Again his brother sent a similar message--"one wanting in
a game of whist." He promptly replied, (very good-humoredly), "tell
your master I am a married man now, and cannot come. He will have to
look out for some one else to fill that chair." And if my husband ever
spent half a dozen evenings from me in his life--except when attending
to business of importance, or when necessarily separated--I do not now
remember it. His pleasures were with his heart, and that was with his

Not long after this, news came that his half-brother (Robert
McCloud) was in a declining state of health. His mother expressed a
desire to have him brought home. Joseph immediately offered to go for
him, and in a few days he took leave of me for the first time; left in
his sister's (Mrs. Kerr's) carriage, with two good horses and a careful
driver. And it was fortunate that he was so well equipped, for it was
a hard trip, at best, for a poor invalid who was a good many miles
distant. He returned in a few weeks with his emaciated brother, who
lingered a few months, and died.

During this winter my own dear father declined rapidly, and no
hopes were entertained of his recovery. This state of things passed
heavily upon me. It was painful enough to know that he, too, had to
die soon. But what was to become of my dear sisters, and our brothers
--all of whom were younger than ourselves? The eldest, who was about
sixteen years old, and our second brother (two years younger), had just
commenced business as store-boys--one in a dry-goods store; the other,
my father had placed under the care of my husband. Mr. Charless had,
but a few years previous to this time, become a partner of his father
in the drug business, (having abandoned the profession of the law, as
it was not at all suited to his taste, and, perhaps, not to his
talents), and, as he had frankly told me, immediately after our
engagement, he was a new beginner in the world, and poor; under such
circumstances I could not hope that it would be in his power to do
anything for my father's helpless family. Tears, scalding tears,
nightly chafed my cheeks, and it was only when emotions were too strong
to be suppressed that I would sob out in my agony sufficiently loud to
awake my husband from sound repose; for, through the day, I always
controlled myself, and waited at night until deep sleep had fallen upon
him before I would give vent to my burdened heart. At such times he
would sympathize with me, and speak words of encouragement and comfort:
not embracing promises, however, for he was not a man to make promises,
unless he felt at least some assurance of an ability to perform them
them. True, to his heart's core, he could not, even under the
excitement of the moment, awaken hopes, perhaps to be blasted. And,
young and warm-hearted as he was, so alive to the sufferings of others,
I wonder now, when I think of it, that sympathy such as his, and love
such as his, had not overbalanced his better judgment, and induced him,
in such trying circumstances, to promise any and everything to soothe
the troubled soul of one he loved better than himself.

He weighed matters. He planned, and thought of every expedient.
As respectful as he ever had been to his parents, and tenderly as he
loved them--fearful as he was of any step which they might not
cordially approve--a new and nobler feeling was struggling in his
breast; for a sorrowing one, whom he had promised to love and cherish,
looked up to him as her only solace; and, while a thousand conflicting
emotions forbade her utterances and requests, he divined all, and,
folding me tenderly to his breast, said, emphatically: "Charlotte, your
sisters and your brothers are mine." Sweet words, that acted "like oil
poured upon the troubled waters." And has he not proved himself
faithful to that declaration? Has he not been to us, in our destitute
orphanage, more than a husband and a brother? Did a father ever bear
more patiently with the foibles and imperfections of his children? Was
a father ever less selfish than he has been? Has not his loving arm
embraced us all?

But, my children, I forgot I was writing to you, and I have
already written a long letter--so, will conclude with the injunction:
If you want to be happy--if you want to make others happy--if you want
to be truly noble, make this dear grandsire your model.

It was truly said of him by his pastor, Rev. S. B. McPheeters,
that "Mr. Charless was a man of unusual loveliness of character,
irrespective of his religious principles. By nature frank and
generous, full of kindly emotions and noble impulses, if he had
remained a man of the world, he would have been one of those who often
put true Christians to the blush, by his deeds of benevolence and acts
of humanity."

As regards his devotion to me and mine, I would say, there are
but few brothers-in-law, and they hard-hearted, and regardless of the
world's opinion, who could have refused to be the friend and brother of
a helpless family, thus left in the midst of strangers. But how often
do you see men so steadfast, so disinterested and devoted through life?
Where is the man to be found that would not have murmured--that would
not, at some time, have let an impatient word drop, showing that he
felt the burden of the care and responsibility brought on him by
marrying, and thus, at least, have wounded the wife of his bosom?
Where is the man to be found, that, under such circumstances, has
secured to himself the devoted love, and the unbounded confidence and
admiration of a proud-spirited family, such as mine are? Many, indeed,
must have been his virtues, clear and sound his judgment, upright and
pure his daily walk and conversation, cheerful and confiding his

Affectionately yours, GRANDMA.

BELMONT, January, 1861.

Letter Six


In my previous letters I have endeavored, with the best lights I
have, to show you the circumstances and surroundings of your
grandfather’s early life, by giving you a sketch of his parentage,
associations, youthful characteristics, etc.

But now, I am entering upon a new era. He is a married man-–has
left the paternal roof, and is forming new associations. The romance
of the vine-covered cottage, with the girl of his heart-–which, as
fortune smiled, should gradually grow into the stately mansion, with
none to share or distract the peculiar joys of early married life, when
all is couleur de rose-–were not for him. Life is too earnest for
romance; for high and holy responsibilities, in the dispensations of an
all-wise Providence, he has to meet and to discharge. He is young and
inexperienced, but here are boys, bound to him by a new, but tender
tie, just entering the most dangerous period of life, without their
natural guides; here are girls, unused to the hard usages of
misfortune, suddenly deprived of all “save innocence and Heaven,” and
he is their only earthly protector and friend.

Our parents were both of English descent, and Virginians by
birth. They were married young, and settled upon the hereditary estate
of my mother, which consisted of a well-improved Virginia plantation.
There they lived, with nothing to interrupt the quiet and ease of their
existence, excepting the war of 1812-13, between the United States and
England, when my father had to shoulder the musket, as captain of a
volunteer company, and leave his family, to fight for his country.
This was the only eventful period of their lives, until my father
became fired with the Western Fever, that about that time (the year
1818) began to rage, and which resulted in the purchase and settlement
of a cotton plantation in North Alabama. Alabama was then the Eldorado
of the far West, and I well remember the disappointment I felt, upon
our arrival there, at not seeing “money growing upon trees,” and “good
old apple brandy flowing from their trunks!”

From this period commenced our misfortunes, which, although
trying to my parents, were, by dint of energy and perseverance, readily
overcome, at least so as to enable them to support and educate their
growing family-–securing the comforts of life, with some of its
luxuries–-until, very naturally, aiming at more than this, my father
again made a sacrifice of much, with the hope of gaining the more, by
removing to St. Louis-–the result of which I have already told you.

My father was honest, frank, social, communicative, and
confiding. He possessed an unbounded confidence in his species,
believing every man a gentleman who seemed to be one, or was by others
esteemed as such, and, in transactions with them, considered their
“word as good as their bond.” From which, as soon as the old and
well-tried associations of his native State were dissolved, he suffered
many pecuniary losses. He was passionate, but not revengeful; gay and
animated, but subject to occasional reactions, when he became much
depressed. He was a high-toned, honorable gentleman, very neat and
exact in his personal appearance, but entirely free from pretension.

My mother was orphaned in infancy, and brought up by her grand-parents
–-Mr. and Mrs. Etheldred Taylor. She was proud of her
ancestry. I can see and hear her now, when, under circumstances where
her pride was touched, she would say, “Daughter, remember that pure and
rich blood flows in your veins-–the best in the land. If your mother
had to live in a hollowed stump, she would be what she is; no outward
circumstances could lower or elevate her one iota;” and she would raise
her proud head with the air of an unrighteously dethroned queen. This,
I may say, was mother’s great, if not her only fault. She was a pure,
lovely, estimable woman; quick and sensitive, but, as a friend, a wife,
and mother, she was unexceptionable. Like the Grecian matron, her
children were her jewels.

Her education would have been considered limited for these days,
yet she was a woman of fine sense and quick intellect. She possessed
great delicacy of feeling, an inflexible will, an unusual energy (for a
woman) in carrying out what she esteemed right, and an uncontrollable
aversion to whatever was mean or cowardly. The training of their
children devolved mostly up her, my father finding enough out of doors,
in business or pleasure, to occupy him. And faithful she was in
teaching them the practical lessons of industry and economy; faithful
in dealing with their faults. The only one never checked was pride.
This she appealed to as a stimulant to every other virtue; for virtue
she esteemed it-–and virtue it is, in its proper place, and under
proper control.

My parents were brought up in the Episcopal church-–with a form
of godliness, without the substance. But the sufferings and death of
my eldest sister, who had become a true convert to the religion of
Jesus Christ, in the Methodist church, and who died rejoicing in the
hope of everlasting life, so impressed my mother that she, too, sought
and found the “one thing needful”-–which happy change, although it
took place late in life, was long enough to evince to her children the
genuineness of her faith, and the power of the Gospel in making the
“proud in spirit” meek and lowly at the feet of Jesus. She united with
the Presbyterian church a few years before her death; and now, as I
look back at the days of my childhood and youth, and call to mind all
the pleasant and sweet things which memory cherishes, there is nothing
so refreshing as the piety of my mother, and that of the dear sister,
who, like a pioneer, went before to show us the "straight and narrow
path” through the rugged scenes of this sinful world. Like an oasis in
the desert of life, it lives, fresh and green, and ever and anon
directs my vision above the storm and tempest to the pure and bright
realms of the redeemed.

With this short sketch of the life and character of my parents,
from which you can form an idea of the peculiar characteristics and
dispositions of their children, who now have become so intimately
associated with your grandfather, I will proceed to say, that, after
the death of my father, which occurred in June, just eleven months
after that of my mother, he at once became our loving and beloved head.
We took an affectionate leave of his dear parents, and removed into our
own "rented house;" and that you may be enabled to place us there, I
will describe our two best rooms, which were separated by a folding-door,
and used as parlor and dining rooms. They were neatly furnished,
with nice ingrain carpets, cane-bottom chairs, an extension dining
table, and very pretty, straw-colored Venetian window-blinds, trimmed
with dark blue cords and tassels. A mahogany work-stand--the only
article ordered from "the east," because it was a gift for his
wife--was placed in the parlor, for it was too pretty to stay up stairs,
(perhaps the emptiness of the parlor made me think so).

Now, my dear children, you may laugh, and, perhaps, feel ashamed
that your grandparents should have started in life with so little, and
that so plain, especially if you hear others boasting of the wealth and
grandeur of theirs. But, when I tell you that after awhile we had a
nice sofa, (bought at auction, because it was cheap), and that at
another time a small side-board was provided, in like manner, by that
dear grandpa, who always did the best he could; and when I tell you
that "grandma" was so happy, and so well satisfied; that nobody's
house--not even those furnished in the most expensive manner, with
the richest carpets, the most massive and elegant furniture, mirrored
and draped in costly brocatelle--looked half so sweet and pretty to
her; when you know, my dear children, and understand, that those people
who have so far deteriorated, by false teaching, and the glitter of the
world, as to esteem such things more highly than the far richer
treasures of the heart, which alone can garnish a home with unsullied
beauty, and feel the pity and contempt for them that I do, these
trifling baubles will take their appropriate place, and you will see
life as it is, and value it for what is pure and genuine--not for
that which is false and worthless.

On the 8th of November--exactly one year after our marriage
--your dear mother (then our sweet little Lizzie) was born. Not long
after this, I was taken extremely ill with a fever, which lasted many,
many weeks. My dear husband is now seen as the tender and devoted
nurse. With my sisters, he watched beside me, with his own hands
wringing out the flannels from strong, hot lotions, and applying them
to my aching limbs, which gave relief (but that only momentary) when as
hot as could be borne. No nurse could be procured. The few that were in
the city had left from fright when the cholera made its appearance
there that fall, and had not returned. But "grandpa" never wearied in
attentions to his wife. After the violence of my disease had abated,
and I was pronounced by my physicians "out of danger," I continued weak
and in a bad state of health for months. Still, how thoughtful, how
watchful and attentive he was! Often at night have I waked, and the
first object that would meet my eyes would be my husband, walking to
and fro with the baby in his arms, trying to hush her to sleep, lest
she should disturb me.

For at least six months after my partial recovery my limbs had to
be bandaged, to lessen the swelling. No one but he could do this
properly. At night he would prepare the bandages, by rolling them
tightly, and in the morning, immediately after returning from market,
(that he might not lose time from business), he would go through with
the tedious process of bandaging--meanwhile keeping up a cheerful
conversation, which is so reviving to the invalid; and, after
breakfast, he would return to my room, to bid me an affectionate adieu,
before leaving for the store.

During this sorrowful year, my dear husband lost both of his
sisters. Mrs. Wahrendorff died in November; Mrs. Kerr the May
following. In this severe dispensation he derived comfort from the
belief that they had exchanged this for a better world, for they both
had a well-grounded hope in the merits of a crucified Redeemer; and,
even while he mourned for his sisters, he was cheerful.

It is surprising how much real happiness we can have in the midst
of trouble, when the heart is right; and it is surprising, too, how
much real misery we can have in the midst of prosperity, when there is
everything apparently to make life pleasant and blissful, when the
heart is wrong.

You know the little song, "Kind words can never die." "Grandma"
realizes to-day that they never do; nor kind looks either, nor good
deeds. With the God of love, nothing is small. He stoops "to feed the
young ravens when they cry," and yet there are men, (not many, I hope),
who, from pride, selfishness, and ill-nature, imagine that, as "lords
of creation," it is utterly beneath them to minister with their own
hands to the sick and feeble, not even excepting the wife of their
bosoms. Life is made up of little things. "A cup of cold water" from
the hand of a loving, gentle, sympathizing friend, does more to
alleviate suffering than rich gifts bestowed by the unfeeling and the
proud; than many luxuries provided by the harsh and exacting.

I have first particularized, and then drawn a contrast, my dear
children, that you may be the better able to see the beauty and
excellency of true goodness; and that, like your grandfather, who has
gone to reap the reward, through grace, of a well-spent life, you may
be self-denying, gentle, loving, and kind.

Devotedly yours, GRANDMA.

Belmont, January, 1861.

Letter Seven

My Dear Grandchildren:

With a return of comparative good health, "grandma" is again
enabled to resume her duties as housekeeper, and is daily seen, with
"grandpa," presiding at their family board. Our sisters and brothers,
with two young men from "the store," (who, from motives of economy,
board with us), and our little daughter, who sits to the left of her
father, in her baby dining-chair, constitute the family. How cheerful
the scene, after months of sickness and anxiety! "Grandpa," at least,
is radiant with happiness and good-humor. No unpleasant word or look is
seen or heard during our family repast. Perhaps an awkward boy upsets
his cup of coffee, but the quaint remark, "accidents will happen in the
best regulated families," spoken with a native courtesy, rarely seen,
restores his equilibrium; and thus peacefully, (in the main), day after
day passes along, although many little perplexities and cares arise,
such as every family are subject to, especially where there are sons
just entering the dangerous and tempting paths of youth.

In my particular duties and unavoidable anxieties I had a warm
and sympathizing friend, and a good counsellor, in the person of my
precious husband. But I felt that I needed more than this to sustain me
in the cares, and trials, and sorrows of life. And, besides, I carried
about with me a troubled conscience. For, at the commencement of my
illness, in the fall of 1832, I was perfectly aware of the approach of
danger, and, as I took a look from this world into Eternity, all was
dark and void, and the thought of having to meet death thus alarmed me.
While a raging fever was fast making me wild, I drew the sheet up over
my face, and said, "Let me be quiet." All was stilled, no sound being
heard, save an occasional whisper from some loved one, (who was too
anxious to be mute), and my own quick breathing, while my heart was
struggling for communion with God. Vague as were my ideas of that
glorious Being, I prayed that He might spare my life, promising, most
solemnly, that if He should do so, I would, upon my recovery, turn my
attention to the consideration of Divine Truth; that I would search the
Scriptures, to know what they taught, and, should I be assured that the
Bible contained a revelation from Heaven, I would, in the future,
govern my life by its precepts and doctrines.

Weak and sinful as this prayer was, I believe the God of pity
heard and answered it; for, notwithstanding my disinclination to the
fulfilment of this vow, made under circumstances so appalling, He bore
with me, but never allowed me to forget it. Every appearance of evil
--and especially the return of the cholera in our midst the next fall
--seemed to me, "like the fingers upon the wall," ready to write my doom.
I often tried to become interested in reading the Bible, but that
sacred book possessed no charm to me. I found it a hard and unpleasant
task to read it at all. At length I summoned up courage to communicate
my difficulties and fears to my husband. Prompt in action, he
immediately purchased for me "Scott's Commentary," which, he said,
would aid me in understanding the Bible; the want of which, he thought,
was the reason I could feel no interest in it. He was right; for,
before I had finished the book of Matthew, with the systematic and
attentive reading of "the notes" and "practical observations," I was
convinced that this was none other than the word of that great Being
who had made and preserved me all the days of my life. This blessed
book--which, hitherto, had been a sealed book to me--now seemed to
glow with real life, and unwonted beauty! It was no difficult task for
me then, hour after hour, to pore over its sacred pages.

Your grandfather, at this time, was only a nominal believer. He
had not earnestly examined this all-important matter, and made it a
personal one. Engrossed in business, young and healthy, he no doubt
felt, like thousands of others, that there was time enough for him to
attend to the interests of his soul, (which, to the natural heart, is
insipid, if not distasteful); but, when he saw his wife so deeply
interested, he did all he could to encourage her. He knelt with her at
the bedside in secret prayer, conversed with her on the subject, went
with her to church, and sympathized with her; until, as a reward, I
truly believe, for all his kindness to me, at a time when I was ashamed
of myself--ashamed to let anyone know (even him) that I felt the
weight of unpardoned sin-–“God touched his heart as with a live coal
from off His altar." So, hand and heart, we went together.
Sweet is the memory of the ever-to-be-remembered day, when, "in
the presence of men and of angels, we avouched the Lord JEHOVAH to be
our God, the object of our supreme love and delight; the Lord Jesus
Christ to be our Saviour from sin and death, our Prophet, Priest, and
King; and the Holy Ghost, our Illuminator, Sanctifier, Comforter, and
Guide;" when we gave ourselves away in "a covenant, never to be
revoked, to be his willing servants forever, humbly believing that we
had been redeemed, not with corruptible things, as silver and gold, but
with the precious blood of the Son of God."

How different is the scene now presented at that fireside, where
no God had heretofore been acknowledged! For, morning and evening, we
surround the Throne of Grace; the Bible is read, a hymn sung, and that
sweet voice, which we shall hear no more on earth, with a full
confession of sin and unworthiness, humbly pleads with Him "in whom we
live, and move, and have our being." A blessing is asked at our meals;
preparations are made on Saturday for the holy Sabbath, that no
unnecessary work may be done on that day, and servants are exhorted to
improve its sacred hours.

After having dedicated ourselves to the service of the living
God, we took our little Lizzie--the dearest, richest treasure of our
heart and life--and presented her, in the solemn ordinance of baptism,
to that Saviour who, when all earth, "took little children in his arms
and blessed them," and there promised to pray with, and for her; to
impart to her the knowledge of God's holy word, and to bring her up,
not for this vain and perishing world, but for Heaven.

Now, my dear children, that I have given you a peep into the home
and household of your grandparents, when your mamma was a little
babe--before and after they became members of the Church--I will proceed,
by telling you that, during that summer, (in July, 1834), your beloved
grandfather met with another heavy bereavement, in the death of his
father. None were then left of all that united and happy family circle,
which caused the homestead to ring with mirth when "grandma," as a
bride, first became a member of it, excepting his mother, his brother
Edward, and himself. Deep sorrow pervaded our souls, most of all
because, before this sad event, we had learned to feel, most keenly,
the importance of a careful preparation for "the great change," which
we do not know that his father ever made. But, (as I once heard a
minister say at a funeral), "we will leave him where he left himself,
in secret with his God," with the hope that he was enabled, by that
grace which is rich in Christ Jesus, to "make his calling and election

Life is made up of lights and shadows, and, before closing this
letter, I will give you an account of a delightful little journey which
we made early in September of that year.

Your mamma, who was then just twenty-two months old, was quite
delicate, and we thought a little trip into the country would be of
service to her; and her papa, having some business in Illinois that
would cause an absence of ten or twelve days, concluded to hitch up our
little barouche and take us with him. So we started, in fine style, on
a beautiful morning--"grandpa," and "grandma," our little Lizzie; and
her nurse--which, with a small trunk, a carpet-bag, and a little
basket, containing some crackers, etc., for the baby, quite filled the

I’ll tell you there is no such traveling these days of railroads
and steam boats! Every body is in too great a hurry to stop and go
slowly, as we did in our little barouche, trotting gently along across
the prairies of Illinois. How balmy and bracing the air; how quiet the
scene; how beautiful the prairies! Some four, some ten, some twenty
miles in width--all covered with tall grasses and a profusion of large
autumn flowers that waved in graceful undulations before the sweeping
breeze. An apt representation of a gently swelling sea, upon whose dark
green waves, nature had emptied her lap of richly varied blossoms.
We traveled from twenty-five to thirty miles per day; starting
early in the morning--while yet the dew glittered before the rising
sun. We always took care to learn from our host, the distance and
situation of the next good stopping place, where we might dine, and
rest a few hours in the heat of the day, after which we would again
"hitch up" and start refreshed and strengthened for our evening ride.
What magnificent sunsets! How picturesque the woodland bordering
of these beautiful prairies, with here and there an humble residence,
and a cultivated field. We could not but lift our hearts in adoration
and praise.

“If God has made this world so fair, where sin and death abound,
How beautiful, beyond compare, will Paradise be found.”

On we went--passing occasionally through neat little villages,
sometimes large towns, such as, Springfield and Jacksonville--until we
reached Lewiston, where we spent the Sabbath and attended the village
church. In the afternoon of the next day we went to Canton which was
the end of our journey. And when "grandpa" had transacted his business
there we turned our faces homeward.

The first day upon our return, we lost our way--then appeared
clouds and mists, just enough rain falling, to make the high hills we
had to climb, slippery and hard upon our poor horse, who manfully
pulled away without flagging, until we found a shelter for the night;
which, although a wretched one we were very thankful for. From this
time, there is but a faint impression left upon my mind of our return,
until within a few miles of Alton, when, as the sun was fast sinking
into his glorious bed of cloud and fire (giving strong indications of
an approaching storm), my anxious husband, after having made a
strenuous but vain attempt to obtain a shelter for the night "whipped
up" his jaded horse and pressed forward.

It grew dark rapidly. As we passed from the open prairie into the
dense forest, we seemed to leave light and hope behind us--for cloud
and tempest, lightning, and loud claps of thunder quickly succeeded.
For awhile we could discern the road; at length, enveloped in total
darkness, it was to be seen, only by the flashes of lightning, which,
while it horrified our horse and ourselves, served to guide us and also
to show us our danger, from the tall trees as they swung to and fro
above and around us. About nine o'clock we discovered (as we thought)
in the distance a light from a window, of which we were soon assured
--and our fears allayed by hearing "the watch-dog's honest bark."

Next day we reached our snug little home, where we entertained
the family with the incidents of our trip--its pleasures, hair-breadth
escapes, &c. None were more delighted in that group than our sweet
Lizzie, who brought the roses of the prairie home upon her little
checks, which were more than a reward for a few untoward events of that
delightful and long remembered journey.

Affectionately yours, GRANDMA.

Belmont, January, 1861

Letter Eight

My Dear Grandchildren:

There is a circumstance connected with the death of my father
Charless, which I cannot pass over without omitting a very striking
feature in the character of my husband, delineating his unselfishness,
brotherly affection, and his strict sense of justice. I think his
father had deferred making his will until his last illness. At any rate
it was not until then that his son, Joseph, learned (from his
brother-in-law, Mr. John Kerr), the contents of his father's will, which
were, in substance, as follows: Joseph was to inherit all of his father's
estate, excepting a lot of ground, fronting on Walnut street, of sixty
feet, which was bequeathed to his mother. Thus his brother, Edward, was
disinherited. Eliza Wahrendorff, the only child of your grandfather's
sister, who afterwards became the wife of my brother, Taylor Blow,
had, by the death of her parents, inherited a beautifully improved lot
of sixty feet front, on Market street, which was the gift of Eliza's
grandfather to her mother, Ann Charless. Edward Charless had
unfortunately displeased his father; for, although he was a genial,
honorable, and kind-hearted man, he had, in early life, contracted
habits of dissipation, which clung to him through life, and which were
very displeasing to his father. He had been married a number of years,
too, but had no children. The information of Mr. Kerr, respecting the
will of my husband's father, was anything but pleasing to him--for he
loved his brother, and had a very tender regard for his feelings--and
as much as he valued the love and approbation of his father, he could
not enjoy it at the expense of his brother. He was very much worried,
and seemed scarcely to know what to do. Finally he repaired to the
bedside of his father, and, painful as it must have been to him, at
such a time, he gently, but earnestly, expostulated with him on the
subject. The old gentleman, for some time, persisted in saying, Joseph,
you are my favorite son; you have a child, too; while Edward has none.
I do not wish my property to be squandered, or to go out of my family:
but always received the reply, father, you have but two children, do
not, I beg you, make a difference between us, or something equivalent
to that. At length he prevailed, and his father had a codicil added to
his will, which made his brother an equal heir with himself, the
property to come into their possession after the death of their mother,
and should these brothers die, leaving no heirs, the estate should
belong to his granddaughter, Eliza Wahrendorff. I am sure you will
agree with me, dear boys, that your grandfather was right, but how
seldom do we see an exhibition of such firm integrity among men, (even
among brothers), of whom the poet truthfully says, "If self the wavering
balance shake, it's rarely right adjusted."

In the winter of 1836 my husband paid a visit to the eastern
cities, for the purpose of purchasing a stock of goods. Previous to
this I had always accompanied him, so that, excepting the time he went
for his sick brother, (Robert McCloud), to which I have alluded, we had
never been separated. He was absent seven weeks, during which time he
wrote me twenty-one letters, of which I will quote one entire, and give
a few extracts from others, that you may read from his own pen.

"Steamboat Potosi, below Cincinnati, Jan. 1st, 1836.

"A happy new year to my dear Charlotte and to all my dear friends
at home! I feel that I should be happy to spend today with you, but
though absent, still, in spirit, I am with you, for my thoughts have
dwelt all the morning with my dear friends in St. Louis. We left
Louisville last night at seven o'clock and are now passing "Rising
Sun," a village in Indiana, thirty-five miles below Cincinnati, which
we hope to reach by dinner time. I saw no one in Louisville that we
knew. Mr. B. was not there and I made no inquiries about his family, as
I do not know his partner, Mr. G., and we remained there but a few
hours. I read, this morning, the 46th chapter of Isaiah, and, from the
fact of this being new year’s day, my mind has been carried to the
goodness of God to usward, in granting all the blessings we enjoy:--His
infinite greatness, wisdom and mercy. I feel greater reliance on the
atonement of our divine Saviour, and a full assurance that if we are
faithful unto the end, we shall reap a crown of immortality and be
forever blessed by His presence. Let us then, dear Charlotte, endeavor
to realize more than we ever yet have done the reality of eternal
things, and fix our minds more on the attainment of the salvation, not
only of our own souls, but of all those who are near and dear to us.
Let us "seek first the kingdom," feeling assured that all things else
will be given us that is best for us. I am satisfied that love to God
will purify our souls, and make us better fitted for the trials of this
world, and will ensure eternal happiness to us hereafter.

"I send you a kiss, which you must share with our dear little
girl, not forgetting aunt Loo's share. When you write, let me know how
the boys (my brothers Taylor and Wm.) get on at St. Charles, and the
news generally of all the family."


"I have just called on Dr. Drake and family, and find them very
pleasant people. We stay here but a few hours, and leave for Wheeling,
at 8 o'clock to-night. Remember me to mother, and to all our dear
friends at home. Yours truly, JOS. CHARLESS."

This is a very characteristic letter, and I will take occasion
here to acknowledge, with shame, that, with my ardent temperament, I
was not always pleased with my husband's universal care, and love, and
consideration of everybody, without a stronger expression of his
feelings for me. When he presented me with a set of pearls, before our
marriage, he brought two sets for me to select from, not being able
himself to decide which was the prettiest. As soon as I expressed a
preference, he handed that set to me, and the other to my sister,
politely asking her acceptance of it. While I was pleased to see my
sweet sister with a set of pearls, like mine, I would have been more
pleased with his attention if it had been directed to me only; and
often have I lost sight of his devotion to me--by every act of his
life, not less in his love to those most dear to me, than in thousands
of other ways--because he did not make a more marked difference in
his acts, and bestow upon me, in words, a stronger expression of his

But I have lived long enough to find out what empty things words
are: how poor and mean, compared with a life which, like "a living
epistle, is known and read of all men."

"A happy New Year to my dear C., and all my dear friend’s," etc.
His was a courtesy which sprung from the heart--which was seen alone
with his wife in the cordial New Year's greeting, or at the fireside,
with familiar loved ones there; that came from his pen, or flew upon
the telegraph; a courtesy that carried soul with it, and made everyone
feel the value of his friendship and love; not that which is the result
of false teaching, or a false heart--to be put on, or put off, as it
suits the place or the whim of its possessor.

But I promised to quote some extracts from other letters. Well,
here is one: "I hope, dear Charlotte, you have taken care of your
health in my absence, and that I shall have the happiness to see you
yourself again. I pray the Lord to be merciful unto us, and grant that
we may meet again, and that our hearts may once more be raised, with
our voices, around our family altar, to Him who purchased us by His
blood, and, as we hope, redeemed us unto a new life; and that His
blessing may extend to all who are near and dear to us; that all our
family may be united in serving the Lord fervently and affectionately."

Again he says: "I hope that, in the letters you have written, you
have told me all about the business of the store, and house, and farm,
and generally all the news of home, as I will not be able to receive an
answer to this, or any of my subsequent letters from the east."

My husband made me his confidant. He did not think me so far
beneath him as not to be able to understand, and to appreciate all that
interested him--his "business," his "farm.” At "the house" he ever
considered me the head, while he relieved me of every possible care, by
strict personal attention to all out-of-door work connected with
housekeeping. This little farm to which he refers was his delight; for
it served as recreation from the toils of mercantile life, and afforded
him unalloyed pleasure. He was fond of flowers, of fruits, of trees, of
meadows, and everything pertaining to country life. It was impossible
for him to stand and look at others who were at work in the garden. He
would throw off his coat, seize the spade or the hoe, and go to work
himself with the most intense relish. Not the most minute little wild
flower ever escaped his notice, or was ruthlessly trodden under foot;
but, stooping down, he would take up the tiny thing, and hold it up for
admiration, seeming to think that others could not but admire it as he
did. Oh, my husband! how sweet and pure was your life! Tears fall as I
think of thee.

Before this period in the history of your grandfather, we had
exchanged our old residence for a very delightful one, near to his
paternal home, on Market and Fifth streets. It had been built by Mr.
and Mrs. Wahrendorff, for their own use; had a large yard, and every
improvement necessary to make it second to none in the city. Here your
dear mother passed seven years of her happy childhood, and still
remembers what romps she used to have with her papa; how she would
watch for him at the alley-gate, with hands full of snow-balls to pelt
him with, and how he would catch her up in his arms, kiss her cheeks,
plunge them into the snowbank, and then give her a fair chance to pay
him back. She remembers what assistance he would render her in the very
grave business of catching pigeons, by creeping up behind them, and
sprinkling "a little fresh salt upon their tails." She has not
forgotten the happy Christmas mornings, when old Santa Claus was sure
to load her with presents; nor her school-girl parties, which would
have been no parties at all without "papa" to make fun for them; and
many other things, perhaps, which I never knew, or noticed, she could
tell you. But "grandma" remembers some things, which, as she wants you
to see "grandpa" just as he was, she will relate to you.

About this time, we had a dining-room waiter, who, one day, was
such a luckless wight as to be very impertinent to me. He was an
"exquisite," (in his way), although as black as the "ace of spades;"
wore a stiff shirt collar, that looked snow-white, from the contrast,
and combed his hair so nicely that it appeared as fleecy as
zephyr-worsted. He had, however, a habit of going off, without
anybody's knowing where, and staying a long time, neglecting his work,
and provoking "grandma." Upon his return, when she would inquire
where he had been, his answer invariably was, "To the barber’s,
ma'am"--accompanied by a bow, and an odoriferous compound of barbarous
perfumes, presenting altogether such a ludicrous picture that I could
not possibly avoid laughing; after which, of course, I would have to
excuse him, with the mild injunction not to stay so long again. Anthony
presumed upon this mode of treatment until it ceased to be amusing to
me, when, with a good grace, I was enabled to administer a severe
reproof, which he returned with the most unheard-of impudence. As soon
as his master came in, I related the fact to him. In an instant, as
Anthony was passing the dining-room door, my husband sprang at
him--caught him by the collar, shook and twirled him around into the
gallery, and pounded him with his bare fists to his heart's content.
In this changing world, I do not know but that, in the course of
time, you little Southerners may become fanatical abolitionists, and,
losing sight, in the above case, of the cause of provocation, in your
tenderness and sympathy for the slave, will attribute this
unceremonious treatment of poor Anthony to the fact that he was one of
those "colored unfortunates." Therefore, to set you right, at least,
with regard to the character of your grandfather, I will give you
another instance of his impulsiveness, which, perhaps, may be
considered a flaw in the character of this singularly pure and noble

Some years after the circumstance related above, a young friend
was living with us who had a hired white girl for a nurse. I soon
discovered that she was an unprincipled, saucy girl; but she was smart
enough to get on the "blind side" of this young mother, by nursing the
babe (as she thought) admirably well. When I could no longer put up
with her encroachments, I took the girl to one side, and laid down the
law; whereupon the enraged creature was excessively impertinent. After
finding that my dear little friend had not the moral courage to dismiss
the girl (which she might have done, for I offered to take care of the
baby myself until another could be procured), I suppressed my emotions,
and bore it as well as I could. From reasons of consideration for my
husband, who seemed much wearied that evening after returning home from
business, I concluded not to consult him about what was best to be done
until next morning, when, upon hearing the particulars of this little
episode in domestic life, he arose in great haste, and so excited as
scarcely to be able to get into his clothes. I begged him to be calm,
but there was no calmness for him until he got hold of the girl, ran
her down two flights of stairs, and out of the door into the street,
having ordered her, in no very measured terms, never again to cross his

In the course of his whole life, I witnessed but one (or perhaps
two) other instances of like impetuosity. They were rare, indeed, and
always immediately followed, as in the cases above referred to, by his
usual calmness and good humor, no trace being left of the storm within,
save a subdued smile, which had in it more of shame than triumph. I
have been told that, in his counting-room, he has occasionally produced
a sensation by like demonstrations, caused, in every case, by the
entrance of some person who, not knowing the stuff he was made of,
would venture to make an attack upon the character of some friend of
his; or, perhaps, would make a few insidious remarks, "just to put Mr.
Charless on his guard." But the slanderous intruder would soon find out
the quicker he was outside of the store the better for him, much to the
astonishment, and amusement, too, of his partners and clerks, who, but
for those rare flashes of temper, and an occasional "stirring up" of a
milder sort among the boys in the store, could not be made to believe
it possible that Mr. Charless could be otherwise than mild and genial
as a sunbeam.

He was never known to resent, in this kind of way, any indignity
shown to himself, which was rarely done by any one. Unfortunately,
however, on one occasion, he gained the displeasure of an Irishman,
(from whom he had borrowed some money), who was half lawyer, half
money-broker. Standing with a group of gentlemen, in conversation about
money matters, per centage, etc., your grandfather remarked that he had
borrowed a certain amount from Mr. M., for a certain per cent., (naming
it). One of the gentlemen asked, "Are you sure, Mr. Charless? for that
was my money Mr. M. lent you, and he informed me that you were to pay
him only so much," (naming the per cent., which happened to be less
than that agreed upon). Mr. Charless, perceiving his faux pas,
expressed a regret that he had so unwittingly mentioned what, it
seemed, should have been kept secret; which was all he could do. Mr.
M., of course, heard of it. He knew well that he could not revenge
himself upon him who was the innocent cause of his exposure, in St.
Louis; but in New York, where neither were so well known, he did all he
could to injure Mr. Charless' reputation. The friends of the latter,
having heard of Mr. M.'s unprincipled conduct, in insidiously striving
to undermine the confidence reposed in him there, informed him of it,
expecting that he would take some notice of the matter--which he did
not do. They came again, and protested against his allowing “that
fellow” to continue these aspersions. He smiled, and replied, “I am
not afraid of his doing me any harm; let him go on.” He did go on, and
after awhile he returned to St. Louis, when some mutual friend (poor
Mr. M. still had friends among gentlemen) informed him that certain
reports against Mr. Charless, which had reached St. Louis, as coming
from him, were doing him considerable injury; not Mr. C, for he stood
too high in the estimation of the community to be injured by slanderous
reports of any kind whatever. Whereupon Mr. M. denied having made
them, and expressed a determination to explain, and make the matter all
right with Mr. Charless. For this purpose, one day, as the latter was
passing a livery stable, where Mr. M. was waiting for his buggy to be
brought out, he called to Mr. Charless, who passed along without
noticing him. Again he called saying, “Mr. Charless, I want to speak
to you.” Mr. Charless waved his hand back at him, and went on.
Elevating his voice, said he, “Do you refuse to speak to me, sir?”
Still a wave of the hand-–nothing more. This was too much for the
hot-headed gentleman. His raving and abuse attracted the attention of
everybody about there to the hand, which still waved, as “grandpa”
walked on, and said, too plainly to be mistaken, in its silent
contempt, “ I can’t lower myself by speaking to such a dirty fellow as
you are.”

Without a word or circumstance from your grandfather, it
circulated from mouth to mouth, with considerable gusto; from which, I
need not say, Mr. M. had the worst of it.

It has given me some pain, my dear children, to speak of these
incidents; and, indeed, there are many things (some very sweet to me)
that I feel constrained to write which I would gladly keep secret and
sacred in my soul, but for a firm conviction that such a halo of light
as has shone about my path, from the pure life of your beloved
grandfather, should not be allowed to go out. And the faithful
historian cannot give the light without the shadows.

Affectionately yours, GRANDMA.

Belmont, February, 1861.

Letter Nine

My Dear Grandchildren:

Before the fire companies were properly organized in St. Louis,
or, perhaps, before there were any at all, I was perfectly miserable
whenever a fire occurred, for “grandpa” would be sure to rush to the
spot, and up, probably, to the most dangerous places on the tops of
houses, or anywhere else, to assist in protecting life or property.
Besides the fear that he might lose his life in this way, I felt
considerable anxiety on account of his health; for, after these
extraordinary exertions, he would return home nearly exhausted. No
entreaties or arguments, in urging him to desist, had any weight, until
he found that his services were no longer needed.

With this impetuosity of character, he possessed a large share of
moral courage. He dared to do right, or what he deemed right, always,
and that without display or fear, and entirely indifferent to the
opinion of the world. With a modest estimate of himself was blended a
quiet satisfaction in the discharge of duty. But not over-careful
about what others did or did not do, or at all dictatorial, he
cheerfully accorded to all what he claimed for himself, viz:
independence of thought and action. No one was more willing to give
advice, when asked; none more free from obtruding it uninvited.
Thankfully and courteously he always received it, even when pressed
upon him beyond what was proper; and although to some of it he might
not give a second thought, perceiving at once its invalidity; yet he
was too modest, and too polite to intimate the fact–-leaving an
impression upon the mind of the giver (without the slightest intention
to deceive) that he had conferred a favor: which, indeed, by
considering the kindness of the motive, he appreciated as such. This
was the result of a profound respect for the opinions and feelings of
his fellow-men, to whom he would listen patiently, even to the ignorant
and the weak, meanwhile giving kind and considerate responses, causing
them (no less than his equals) to feel satisfied with themselves and
with him, whom each one, high and low, rich and poor, esteemed as his
own particular friend: and all this without study, without an effort,
because the offspring of a kind, generous, and appreciative nature.

A circumstance occurs to my mind, which, perhaps will give you an
idea of your grandfather’s kindness and consideration towards those in
the humbler walks of life: One morning a plain, honest looking youth,
from whom he had purchased some marketing, accompanied him to the
house, for the purpose of bringing it. They went into the kitchen
together, to warm and dry themselves, and when, in a few moments
afterwards, breakfast was announced, “grandpa” asked me to have a plate
placed for the lad; to which I demurred, inquiring if I had not better
send breakfast to the kitchen for him? He replied, “No. The golden
rule directs us to do unto others as we would they should do unto us.”
Whereupon an argument ensued, I insisting that, according to that rule,
his breakfast should be sent out, as I had no doubt that the boy would
feel more at ease, and would enjoy his breakfast more in the kitchen
than he would at our table. Fixing his eyes upon me, with that kind
but reproving expression which was characteristic of him, he said:
“Charlotte, if we were to stop at the house of that young man’s father,
I doubt not but that he would give us the best place, and the best of
everything he has.” Even this did not convince me; when, with his usual
dislike to argument, and with that conciliatory kindness which ever
marked his intercourse with his family, he yielded the point,
gracefully, as though it was a matter of little consequence, so that
the young man was only well provided for; but not without a mild, and
well-merited reproof, in which he playfully reminded me of my “Virginia

And thus it ever was, my dear children, with your honored
grandfather. Firm in principle–-kind in action; but most kind to
those who had the first and highest claim upon him. Never afraid of
compromising his dignity or position as head of his family, he always
retained it unabated. How unlike some men, who, by attempting to
maintain their rights by an overbearing, arbitrary manner, and harsh
and unbecoming words, evince a weakness which makes them contemptible,
if not in the estimation of the wife and children, at least so in that
of others, who plainly discern that littleness, in some shape or other,
and not manly dignity and good sense, places them in their unenviable
position of “master of my own house.”

And yet how much do I regret, now, when it is too late to remedy
it, that I did not, readily and cheerfully, accede to every wish of
this dear friend, whose truly consistent and beautiful character shone
out most clearly at home. How much do I regret now, that I should have
allowed his few little foibles to annoy me. The greatest of these, and
the one that caused more unpleasant words between us than any and all
things else, was his carelessness in dress. I do not know that I am
scrupulously neat, but I did pride myself in the personal appearance of
my husband, which was sometimes seriously marred by an unshaved beard
or a soiled shirt. We were once traveling on a steamboat, and,
standing on the guards, I discovered him on the wheel-house, and called
to him to come to me. A lady asked if “that old gentleman” was my
husband, and said: “You look so young, I am surprised that you should
have married so old a man.” She seemed to be an unoffending,
simple-hearted woman, such as we frequently meet in traveling, and I
replied, with a smile, “He suits me very well, ma’am;” but made use of
the earliest opportunity to tell him of it–-really taking pleasure in
doing so-–for I had often expressed my own views on that subject,
assuring him that he looked at least twenty years older when he
neglected to dress with care, especially if he had not shaved.

Next morning he paid particular attention to making his toilet,
declaring it to be his intention “to create a sensation,” which he
certainly succeeded in doing, much to our mutual amusement; for the
same lady, eyeing him closely at breakfast; expressed to me afterwards
her amazement at the change, giving it as her opinion, that “he was the
handsomest young gentleman she had ever seen.”

I went too boldly to work in trying to correct his careless
habits in dress. I formed an idea that it was my duty and my
privilege, not only to attend to my husband’s wardrobe, but to direct,
too, how it should be disposed of; but soon found that he was not to be
made to do anything. And, as “straws show which way the wind blows,” I
learned, in most things, to influence him by silken cords. He was
willing to be led captive by love and tenderness. Why, when your dear
mamma was not more than four or five years of age, she had learned the
art of making “papa” do as she liked. I remember to have heard her say
once (slyly to one side), “I am going to make papa let me do it.” And
when asked “Make papa?” answered, “Yes, the way mamma does;” and
immediately turned to him with her most bewitching little smile, and
said, “Do please, dear papa, let me.”

O! what a joyous home we had! And what changes time has made!
The old Wahrendorff house has been rased to the ground, and stores
stand in its place. Where domestic peace and happiness reigned-–where
flowers bloomed-–where childhood held its sports and holidays, now is
seen the busy mart of this bustling, plodding world. The merry little
magnet of that grass-covered spot is now the mother of four children;
and the beloved father, upon whom her mother fondly hoped to lean, as
she tottered down the hill of life, lies low, at its base.

One of my dear sisters was there seen in her bridals robes, pure
and sweet. But now, she is among the angels (as I humbly trust,)
clothed in the white robe of a Saviour’s righteousness. The other
still lives to bless us with her presence and her love.

Our brothers have passed their truant school-boy days-–“sowed
their wild oats”–-have taken their stand among men, and are realizing
themselves now the blessedness of a home of conjugal and paternal
happiness, and begin to know something of the care and anxiety that has
been felt for them, and of the hopes which stimulate to duty. And
thus, Time, as he passes, leaves foot-prints, which make the children
of to-day the men and women of to-morrow; brings changes which blight
our fondest hopes, crush the heart, and leave us, in our tempest-tossed
bark, to weather awhile longer the storms upon the voyage of life.

But my mind still reverts to this home of my happy married life.
It is Sabbath morning there, and we are around the family altar. The
chapter has been read, and we are singing a favorite hymn of the one
who reads and prays. It is spring time, and the fresh air comes in
through the opened window, perfumed with the rose and the sweet-brier.
But we are singing:

“The rosy light is dawning,
Upon the mountain’s brow:
It is the Sabbath morning,
Arise, and pay thy vow.
Lift up thy voice to Heaven,
In sacred praise and prayer,
While unto thee is given
The light of life to share.

The landscape, lately shrouded
By evening’s paler ray,
Smiles beauteous and unclouded
Before the eye of day;
So let our souls, benighted
Too long in folly’s shade,
By the kind smiles be lighted
To joys that never fade.

O, see those waters streaming
In crystal purity;
While earth, with verdure teeming,
Give rapture to the eye.
Let rivers of salvation
In larger currents flow,
Till every tribe and nation
Their healing virtue know.”

The morning is past–-we have been to church, and dined; and now
our little daughter is listening, most eagerly, to the Bible story,
which was promised her as a reward for good behavior.

The afternoon has passed. We have had an early tea, and again we
surround the Throne of Grace before going to church. The same loved
voice is heard again joining in another favorite hymn:

“Sweet is the light of Sabbath eve,
And soft the sunbeams lingering there:
For this blest hour the world I leave,
Wafted on wings of faith and prayer.

The time, how lovely, and how still!
Peace shines and smiles on all below;
The vale, the wood, the stream, the hill,
All fair with evening’s setting glow.

Season of rest, the tranquil soul
Feels the sweet calm, and melts to love:
And while these peaceful moments roll,
Faith sees a smiling Heaven above.

Nor shall our days of toil be long;
Our pilgrimage will soon be trod,
And we shall join the ceaseless song,
The endless Sabbath of our God.”

Affectionately yours, GRANDMA.

Belmont, February, 1861.

Letter Ten

My Dear Grandchildren:

I see in casting a glance back, that I have passed over a good
deal in the life of your grandfather, which will, perhaps, be of
interest to you; without which, at any rate, this sketch would not be
complete. And I intended, when I closed my last letter, to commence
this with his career as a business man, and to continue the narrative
to the close of his life; and then to give you a distinct account of
his influence and deeds in the Church, and in the world, as a
Christian. But I do not know, upon further reflection, that it is best
to divide up his life in that way; and, indeed, it seems to me rather a
difficult and unnatural task to do so, for he strictly followed the
injunction of the Apostle: “Be diligent in business, fervent in spirit,
serving the Lord.” The dividing line, therefore, would be hard to
find, if there was one at all.

And these letters, which are a pleasant recreation to me while I
write them–-and of profit, too, I hope, as I carefully review the life
of him who, “though dead, still speaketh”–-would, I fear, become a
task, should I change the simple and pleasing plan I have adopted of
recalling the past, with the incidents as they occurred, and from them
selecting such as I think will best unfold to your view the real,
every-day life of him, which, if fairly seen, cannot fail to plant in
your young hearts a just pride for such an ancestor, and a holy desire
to walk in his steps. With this view, I will retrace, and bring up,
briefly and in order, the omissions to which I have alluded.

You remember, I mentioned to you the fact, that your grandfather
commenced life, as a business man, by becoming the partner of his
father in the drug business. His father had, a few years previously,
given up his interest in the “Missouri Republican” to his son Edward,
and commenced a business which was new to him, and that upon a small
capital. He found it so profitable, however, that he prevailed on
Joseph to abandon his profession, (the practice of which he had but
just commenced), and to join him, believing that it would ultimately be
more to his advantage to do so. From the profits arising from this
business–-which regularly increased, with the increase of the city,
and that of the country, from the rapid emigration to the Western
States-–combined with his success in an occasional speculation in
land, I doubt not, if “grandpa” had been at all given to the love of
money, or had been ambitious of attaining to great wealth, and had bent
his powers of mind and body in that direction, he would have reached
the desired goal, perhaps to becoming a millionaire.

But very different from this were the tendencies of his nature.
He appreciated money as the means of adding to the sum of human
happiness; and, while he was by no means reckless in the use of it, it
was a source of great pleasure to him to have it in his power to
indulge his family in having what they desired and in living as they
pleased, and still to have something over to distribute to the
necessities of the indigent. To the Church of Christ he cheerfully
contributed to the extent of his ability, esteeming it one of his
highest privileges. Pursuing this course, his business meanwhile
widening, and constantly becoming more profitable, in the year 1837 or
’38, he decided to take a partner, and offered the situation to my
brother Henry, which was gladly accepted. After this, (I do not know
exactly how long), he purchased a valuable piece of ground in the city,
upon a part of which “the firm” determined to build an oil and lead
factory. This proved to be a very expensive and arduous undertaking;
and, although it promised, after being fairly established, to be a most
profitable investment, yet the capital of “the firm” was not sufficient
to complete and to carry it on successfully until it should reach a
self-sustaining point, without doing serious injury to “the store,” by
depriving it of the necessary capital for its success.

During this state of things, which grew worse every day, my
husband discerned a portentous cloud in the sky of his commercial
prosperity, which resulted after days and nights of anxiety and
overtaxed strength of body and mind, in a low state of health and
spirits that almost unfitted him for his accumulated business, which,
nevertheless, he continued to prosecute with avidity. This was about
the year 1841. I do not recollect how long his ill health lasted, but
I well remember how his flesh went away–-how pale he was–-how he
perspired at night, from nervous prostration, and how his skin seemed
to cleave to his bones. He was still amiable and uncomplaining; but
his elasticity, his free-hearted joyousness was gone.

After pressing him for some time to tell me his troubles and
difficulties, and sympathizing with him because of them, until a far
deeper concern took possession of me on account of his health, and,
finding that moderate expostulations did not better things, I
determined to make an effort by trying a wife’s skill in arousing him
from this state of despondency, which threatened such serious
consequences; for I might well feel that fortune would be nothing to me
without my husband-–my husband as he ever had been. And “if the worst
came to the worst,” if he only had sufficient means to pay his debts,
(which he said, without doubt, he had), I cared for nothing better than
to begin life afresh, with such a husband as I had, with health, youth,
business capacity, and a good reputation.

This conversation was not without effect; and he determined, by
way of recruiting, to “knock off” from business, and to make an
excursion into the country. This little trip–-which was not simply
without aim, other than for his health, as he had some business to
attend to on the way-–acted like a charm, by restoring his wasted
energies and his cheerfulness. He returned, in ten or fifteen days,
more like himself than he had been for months. After this, he soon
recovered entirely; and never again did he lose his equanimity for
more, perhaps, than a day or two at a time, although the dreaded blow
did come, but not before he had taken a step in the divine life, which
served to buoy him up above the ills of this checkered existence.

During the year 1839, about five years after we became members of
the Church, your grandfather was ordained “Ruling Elder” in the Second
Presbyterian church. We united with the “First Presbyterian church”
(which I believe, I told you in a previous letter), which was then the
only one in the city, but were induced, from a sense of duty, to go
out, with a few others, to assist in strengthening a small colony that
had been struggling for existence almost from the time it had left the
mother church, some two or three years previous. In the building up of
this church he was one of its most efficient agents. Besides having
the duties of an Elder to perform, he was appointed a Trustee, and,
with others, was very active in planning, and carrying forward to its
completion, a large and expensive building, bearing a heavy part of the
debt of it for years, until the means were provided for his relief,
which was not until long after he had met with heavy pecuniary losses.
He was regularly in his place at all the meetings of the church, both
for spiritual and secular purposes.

Now, my dear children, if you have conceived an idea, from the
insight I have given you, of the numerous occupations of your
grandfather, that he must have been bustling about, having so much to
do--hurrying things at home, and having no time for pleasure or
recreation-–you are greatly mistaken. A day rarely passed that he did
not take a ride with his family, or some member of it, to “the farm,”
(except during the period of his ill health, when he oftener sought
repose in the afternoon), enjoying, with the fresh air, exercise, and
charms of the country, the society of those so dear to him. He never
came home with a surly look–-like some people who want to make an
impression that they have the world on their shoulders-–to talk about
hard work, and hard times, or disagreeable matters, or to recount all
the wonderful things he had done, or had to do. But, with a step and a
countenance that seemed to say, “What a blessed and happy man I am!”
his presence always brought with it happiness and peace. He was not a
great talker, but he generally had something pleasant to say, or an
interesting anecdote to relate; for, with a keen perception of the
ludicrous, he possessed a talent for telling anecdotes admirably well,
and a humor that was irresistibly pervasive. No one could help feeling
its influence, and being all the happier for it.

I wish I could remember some of his anecdotes, and do them
justice in the relation; but I know the attempt would be futile: for
there was so much in the look and manner that gave a zest to his
conversation, and rendered it attractive, that it would be impossible
to convey a correct idea of it in words. None can feel, or fully
appreciate it, without having had the privilege of being in his
presence. A friend, to whom he was much attached, and at whose house
he frequently visited, mentioned to me, since his death, that he and
his wife had, from their early acquaintance with him, been in the habit
of referring often to what “Mr. Charless” would say, recalling his
conversation, and talking so much about him, that one day he asked,
“Wife, how is it we cannot help talking of Mr. Charless?–-what is
there about him that impresses us so? It is not really what he says,
but the way he says it. It is his humor, his benevolence of manner,
his inimitable pleasantry, etc.”

With these qualities, I need not say that he was an acquisition
to society. He enjoyed it at home or abroad; at the evening party, or
with a few friends around the social board. With a genial nature, he
had a facility for adaptation, so that it was easy for him to feel
perfectly at home, and unrestrained, with all classes and conditions of
men, young or old, gay or grave. He was particularly fond of young
people, and generally had a “little sweetheart” among the girls, with
whom he would occasionally carry on a spirited flirtation.

In the fall of 1841, immediately after his period of dejection,
and consequent ill health, your grandfather and myself mutually agreed
that it would be best for us, by way of lessening our expenses, to sell
our furniture, and break up housekeeping for a few years. My health,
which had never been good since that severe illness, of which I have
spoken, was the palpable cause; for my husband had often expressed a
desire to try the effect of rest from the cares and fatigue of
housekeeping, and now, that one sister and two of my brothers were
married and settled, there was not difficulty in the way of our doing
so. This proved to be a very fortunate step, for at the time things,
almost anything, sold well. The city was prosperous, and everybody
felt rich. Our furniture, of which we reserved sufficient to furnish
two bed-rooms, besides our valuables of plate, etc., sold for as much,
some of it for more, than we paid for it when new. And in one year
from that time, suddenly, there was a monetary pressure, which brought
every kind of property down to less than half of its value or original
cost. It was one of those pecuniary tornadoes which occasionally sweep
through the whole length and breadth of the land, levelling and
blighting everything as it passes, putting a stop to the wheels of
commerce, and bringing terror into almost every family. It came with
an astounding effect upon St. Louis. Many who felt themselves rich
were in a few days reduced to a state of poverty, not having the means
wherewith to pay their honest debts.

The firm of “Charless & Blow” were compelled to “suspend
payment.” This reverse came upon them like a shock, for,
notwithstanding my husband’s fears, a year or two previous, with regard
to his mercantile affairs, he had informed me, but a short time before,
that he had no doubt now but that they would be enabled to get through
with the difficulties that had been pressing him down; for, as he
expressed it, “we begin now to see our way clear.” They had had no
apprehensions with regard to their endorser (for whom they also
endorsed), for “his house” was one of the oldest and (it was thought)
one of the most opulent in the city. But when the fact was known that
Mr. T had failed, and when his creditors called upon the firm of
“Charless & Blow” to respond to his notes, which were then due, it was
too much for them. At first my husband (pale from emotion) thought all
was over!–-all for which he had been toiling for years; reduced to
poverty, his reputation as a merchant, perhaps, greatly weakened; and,
what was worse still, (not knowing the extent of his losses by Mr. T.),
he might not be able, after sacrificing everything he had in the world,
to pay his debts!

In a crisis like this, developments are exceedingly rapid, and
revulsion of feeling just as much so. The excitement is too intense to
endure delay. The best and the worst must be known, if possible, and
that at once. It was soon ascertained, therefore, in the case of
“Charless & Blow,” that their loss, by the failure of our good and
honorable old friend, was not much; and the chief difficulty with them,
as with all other sufferers, lay in the loss of confidence between men,
and the consequent scarcity of money in circulation.

Your grandparents passed one troubled night in consequence of
this event, in which sleep–-“tired nature’s sweet restorer”-–forsook
them. But the next afternoon found them taking a drive in grandpa’s
buggy, calmly talking about their new circumstances, and resolving,
with a courageous heart, to meet them, whatever they might be. Of
course, I did all I could to encourage him, (else I would not have been
worthy the name of wife); became very self-sacrificing for a lady–-willing
to part with my tea service, and all my silver-ware-–any and
everything I had of value, except my bridal gifts; and then began to
speculate upon how very nice it would be to live in a neat little
cottage, etc., etc. For I was not too old to be romantic; and I do
really believe now, as I recall my enthusiasm on the subject, that I
would have been disappointed had anything occurred to prevent me from
exhibiting to my husband how cheerfully I could submit to misfortune.
No such test came; for the very next day a widow, who had deposited a
few hundred dollars with “the firm” for safe keeping, hearing of their
reverses, called to get her money. They had none; and my husband,
remembering my offer, sent a messenger, with a note, requesting me to
send the tea-service, with which to secure her. Cheerfully–-for I was
glad it was in my power to secure the widow against loss, and to
relieve the mind of my husband to some little extent-–but with a
beating heart, (for this was a birth-day gift from him), I parted with
my beautiful tea-service, and have never seen it since. It was sold to
pay that debt.

Our dear old mother was greatly afflicted because of our reverses
in fortune, and wept like a child; but her amazement was to see me so
unmoved. I thought then it was Christian submission that enabled me to
bear up so well; but I see now there was a great deal of human love,
and sympathy, and human pride, too, mixed with it.

Although we were not keeping house, at that time, we were very
delightfully and happily situated, for we were boarding (as an especial
favor) at our eldest brother’s. He had a sweet wife, and they lived in
their beautiful new house, which, years after, “grandpa” purchased. It
was there your dear mamma passed her young lady days-–where she was
married-–where her little sons, Charless, Louis and Edward, were born;
and where their loving grandpa breathed away his precious life. But
the same reasons which made it necessary for us to submit to loss and
inconvenience, made it incumbent on my brother to sell his residence.
Consequently, we accepted the kind invitation of our mother to occupy a
part of her house; and, by strict economy in every practicable thing
-–paying her a very low price for our board, which the old lady would
receive, but “not a cent more”-–we passed three of the happy years of
our life, at the end of which time, we had regained a considerable
amount of our losses; and, what was better still, your dear grandfather
had become firmly and prosperously re-established in business, without
having lost an atom of his reputation as a judicious and energetic

“The suspension” of Charless & Blow did not result in a complete
failure, by any means. They solicited an examination into their
affairs, exhibited their books, making a complete and full exposition
of the condition of their business, and it was unanimously agreed upon,
by the committee chosen for the purpose, that it would be greatly to
the advantage of their creditors for “the firm” not to close up, but to
continue the business, each binding himself to extract, for the two
succeeding years, only a small (stated) sum for private use, from the
proceeds of the store.

As soon as the adverse condition of “C. & B.” was relieved, and
they had regained their former position-–which, I think, was in about
two years from the time of the crisis-–they made up their minds to
dissolve partnership: one to take “the store;” the other, “the oil and
lead factory.” Accordingly, terms of dissolution were drawn up. Mr.
Charless, being the elder, had the privilege of choosing, and, after
reflection, decided upon retaining the store. My two younger brothers
afterwards became his partner in the business, and remained as
“Charless, Blow & Co.” until dissolved by the death of their beloved

This is a long letter, my dear children, and I will close it,
with the promise of letting you know something more about our three
years’ sojourn at your great-grandmamma’s: in which I hope to show you
how happy we can be under adverse circumstances, and how much less the
evil of “coming down in the world” is, than generally is supposed.

Affectionately yours, GRANDMA.

Letter Eleven

My Dear Grandchildren:

Man is naturally aspiring, and the more he attains to in life,
the more earnestly he reaches after something higher still. And it is
well that it is so, for, without this spirit, there would necessarily
be but little or no advance in the world. The old land-marks would
stand unmolested, forever; and the human family, instead of developing,
could not but deteriorate, from generation to generation. But for the
fall of man, his highest aim would have been such as the angels have,
viz: to see, and to be with God, whose exceeding greatness and glory
would tend to ravish the soul with delight, enlarge its capacity, and
yet keep it at an humble distance, reverent and lowly. But I am
stepping beyond my reach, and will come back again to what is, not what
might have been.

As soon as you observe at all, you must perceive what a constant
struggle there is going on here below. Some aim at “fortune’s gaudy
show,” while others strive to catch the wreath of fame, and crown
themselves with that. Few are so indifferent, unless besotted by
ignorance and degradation, as not to aspire, in some shape or other, to
something more or better than they ever had, or better than others
have; and, in this age of the world-–at any rate in this country-–money
seems to be esteemed the chief good. Not the miser’s money, for,
while that is locked up, and he hoards, and hoards, and still locks it
up, it narrows down the soul, and expunges from it all the milk of
human kindness. What are the orphan’s tears, or the widow’s groans–-what
is human suffering to him? Gold! gold! His precious gold fills
the contracted, dark place, which the soul, made in the image of its
Creator, has forsaken, and leaves him more brute than man.

Money is a good and valuable possession, but not to the
spendthrift, to whom it becomes a temptation to vice. Better be poor
forever, and, by the sweat of the brow, eat your daily bread,
maintaining, at the same time, a pure and unblemished character, than
to have a fortune that only induces idleness and self-indulgence,
opening to you an avenue for the destruction of soul and body; and,
perhaps, too, as is often the case, cause you to blindly drag your wife
and children with you, if not to vice, at least to want and to
disgrace. Money is only good when properly valued, and properly used.
It is desirable as a means of education, and of refinement; for the
cultivation of one’s taste in the field of nature, or in the arts and
sciences. It is gratifying, and not wrong, to have handsome houses and
grounds, tasteful furniture, fine paintings, or statuary, libraries,
and everything pertaining to an elegant establishment. It is very good
when used to make people happy who, in the providence of God, are not
supplied with the necessaries of life. “The poor ye have always with
you”-–why if not to keep the stream of benevolence running fresh and
sweet? And money helps materially, perhaps too much, toward giving one
position in society. All things considered, it is hard to lose it. It
is trying to feel, as you pass along, people are saying, “There goes
poor Mrs. A., or B. She has come down in the world!” Some malicious
ones will say, “Well, she deserved it, for she was very extravagant,
and she held her head too high.” Women, no doubt, are more susceptible
to suffering and mortification, from reverses in fortune than men are;
yet there are many ways in which they feel it, too-–according to their
characters and dispositions. And, my dear children, if I were to say
that we had not felt or cared for the reverses in life of which I told
you in my last letter, it would not be true. We did feel it, and that
in many ways. My husband was humbled, and disappointed, but entirely
submissive to the will of God; for he believed that adversity, as well
as prosperity, came from His loving hand, and was designed for the
highest good of His people. Instead of having the effect to lessen, it
strengthened his faith. Instead of making him more anxious and
striving for the accumulation of wealth, he was less so; and he
continued to be less so throughout the remainder of his life.
Notwithstanding he was quite as industrious, just as energetic; yet
there was less of dross mixed up with the pure metal in his soul. To
me, it was evident that he advanced rapidly in the divine life; of
which I felt the influence, if I caught none of its spirit.

In a letter from him, dated that fall, soon after our removal to
his mother’s, he says: “The scenery of the Mississippi, from the rapids
north, is very beautiful. The frost having changed the color of part
of the leaves, the forest presents an endless variety of colors; and
the great number of farms and villages add much to the beauty of the
landscape. But everywhere I find the people complaining, and many
suffering from actual want. Although Providence has provided a most
bountiful harvest, many, who have been accustomed to have every
comfort, and many luxuries, around them, are now almost destitute. It
makes me feel more resigned to our losses and poverty, seeing we are so
much better off than thousands who are more deserving than we. They,
it seems, are resigned, and submit most cheerfully to all the
dispensations of their Heavenly Father. Let us, dear Charlotte,
hereafter endeavor to show, in our lives, greater devotedness to Him
who has done so much for us, and who promises to be our support and
stay in every hour of need; who will never desert any who put their
trust in Him.

“Let us, therefore, exhort one another, and provoke each other to
well-doing, in the service of our God. Let us love each other more and
more, and make Jesus the great object of our praise and prayer. I hope
and pray that the chastenings of our blessed Lord, in depriving us of
our worldly possessions, may be sanctified to us, and lead us, more
earnestly and undoubtingly, to seek for possessions in that Kingdom
where all is joy, and peace, and love. Oh! That we may be enabled,
with all our dear kith and kin, and kind friends, to attain unto this
glorious and happy state, to dwell forever in the presence of our God,
and enjoy Him throughout eternity. Dear C., are not these things worth
our most strenuous efforts? And yet how little do we do! How poor our
best attempts to serve Him who has done everything for us.”

With these earnest desires for closer communion with God, and for
those treasures which fade not away, he necessarily had a hard struggle
to prosecute his worldly affairs, under circumstances so
disadvantageous as that of carrying on a large business without the
necessary capital, greatly weakened, in fact, by pecuniary losses, and
more still by the misfortune of being compelled to “suspend payment,”
and the consequent exposure of the internal difficulties with which
“the firm” had to contend. Anxious and toiling, week after week, he
was always rejoiced when Saturday night came, that he might, as he
generally expressed it in his prayer that night, “lay aside the world,
and engage in the delightful exercises of the holy Sabbath.” And I
will here mention, for the benefit of those among you (if there are any
such) who, in your eager pursuit of wealth, or honor, or are battling,
as he was, with the untoward events of life, are tempted to desecrate
the Sabbath to secular purposes, that I have often heard your
grandfather say (about that time) that on Monday his mind was clearer,
and his hopes stronger of success, than at any other time. And towards
the close of the week, after his mental energies had been on the
stretch for days, things looked darker; that sometimes he felt as
though he must give up; that it would be impossible to meet his
payments; but that on Monday, with both mind and body invigorated from
the holy rest of the Sabbath day, the mists had cleared away, and
everything looked bright again-–so bright that he often felt surprised
that he should have been in such a desponding condition on Saturday.

There is sound philosophy in this; but I will leave it for you to
work out the problem, and will proceed to say, that with the opening of
the spring of 1843, business prospects really did brighten. And our
new home, though humble, we had found vastly comfortable. It looked
familiar and home-like, too; for the furniture to which we had been
accustomed had been removed into our suite of rooms, one of the
bedsteads minus only the cornice and the feet, which had to be taken
off to accommodate it to the height of the ceiling-–of which, for
awhile, I had so constant and disagreeable an impression that often,
when rising suddenly from my chair, I would dodge, from fear of bumping
my head against it. And no wonder! For this was an old house, built in
“the year one,” before people (poor things!) found out the necessity of
having their ceilings pitched so high above them! But our front room
was otherwise capacious; for several partitions had been knocked down,
which added a small room and part of a hall to the main one, and
extended it entirely across the front of the house. It was so large
that it accommodated the piano, and a pier-stand, besides every
necessary article for a completely furnished bed-room. The piano and
pier-stand-–the latter of which was a particular object of attraction
to your mamma (for bon-bons were kept in that)-–gave to the room the
air somewhat of a parlor. At least, we esteemed it so cosy, and
appropriate for the purpose, that we more frequently received the calls
of friends there than in our mother’s little reception-room.

What right had we to murmur? It would have been ungrateful if we
had done so; for, although not by any means elegant, we were
comfortable. True, my nice carriage and beautiful horses had been
sold; but mother had quite a nice little carriage, and a fine old gray
horse, that would have appeared very respectable, if (as the stable boy
said) the calves had not “chawed of his tail!” However, that was a
source of amusement. We rode often, for both mother and I needed the
exercise; and the rides were delightful, as ‘Joseph’ was generally our
driver; and a merry chase he would lead us sometimes, for when he no
longer had “the farm” to go to, (that had likewise been sold), he
seemed determined to find out the merits, or demerits, of every road in
the vicinity. This made quite a variety for us, for, besides the
change of scenery, it usually called forth ejaculations from his
mother, and answers from him, which were very amusing. She saw no
sense in ”rambling the country over, going into every nook and corner,
and jolting people to death!” But he would earnestly assure her that
he had not gone into half yet-–looking round at her with a provokingly
mischievous expression, which seemed to intimate that he meant to try
it, though-–and as for the roads, he could “find much worse roads than
that! And as to driving–-he hadn’t begun to show how many stumps he
could go over, without upsetting.” This playful, jocose, merry mood of
her son, frequently recalled to the old lady’s mind some incidents of
early times, when she was young, and Joseph was a boy, which she would
relate, and laugh all over at, shaking her fat sides most merrily.
And, notwithstanding her outbursts of hastily spoken words of
disapprobation to him for his temerity, she always wondered, after
being safely landed at home, why she enjoyed her rides so much more
when Joseph drove!

When we think about it, there are really no enjoyments in this
wide world equal to home enjoyments. And when we have to go away from
that hallowed spot, to seek for some longing of the soul which we
cannot find there, or return to it with distaste, after having dipped
into the pleasures (even the refined and reasonable ones) of the world,
we are to be pitied, greatly pitied; for we are strangers to the purest
and sweetest joys that are known this side of Paradise. And, thank
God! this happiness is not confined to the mansion of the rich and the
great. Perhaps it is less felt there than in the cottage of the
virtuous and intelligent poor.

At our mother’s we had quite as much of domestic peace and
happiness as we had ever known. Our little daughter, who, to us at
least, looked just as sweet and pretty in her bit calicos as she had
ever done in better and more expensive clothes, beguiled a portion of
our evenings with her music. She played delightfully on the piano, for
a child of her age; and then she had conceived an idea (perhaps from
something her father or mother had said) that the day might come when,
by teaching music and French, she would be their support in old age.
This was a new and beautiful stimulant to study, and we were no less
pleased with this virtuous devotion of her young life, because we
confidently believed that no such necessity would ever arise.

We enjoyed society, too–-not quite so much or half as often as
when we could return civilities; but there was an abandonment of
feeling, or freedom from care, when we did participate; something like
that expressed by a clerical friend of ours, who, upon beholding the
beautiful grounds of a wealthy gentleman, congratulated himself upon
his capacity for enjoying them as much as the proprietor could,
“without having his responsibility and care,” which, in some measure,
compensated us.

And, then, your grandfather found out what “a jewel of a wife” he
had; how, as with a magic touch, she could make old things perfectly
new, in which she appeared more charming to his eye than ever before.
We are really not dependent upon external circumstances for happiness.
That ingredient of life is found within us; and every one has a share
in promoting it. One gentle, patient, unselfish, cheerful member of a
household, can do wonders towards making the whole atmosphere of home
redolent with his soul-reviving influences.

From what you have seen of your grandfather, you will readily
imagine that he must have been a good son. He was: one of the best, if
not the best, I have ever known. But facts speak for themselves. I
have never once heard him speak a hasty or unkind word to his mother.
He was her staff, upon whom she lovingly leaned; and yet, at her
bidding, he was her boy, obedient, and respectful. As she declined in
life, “when they shall be afraid of that which is high, and fears shall
be in the way,” and many infirmities made her irritable and exacting,
the charm of his loving voice, playfully and skillfully giving a turn
to the current of her feelings, would alternately soothe, comfort, and
amuse her. He was thoughtful of her every wish and comfort, and did
all that he could to fill the void which death had made in that aged

Some of the most striking proofs of his pure and elevated
character, of his disinterested friendship and love, delicacy forbids
me to speak of, as there are those living who might be touched by them.
But I have given facts enough to show that he was no ordinary man. He
was fond of reading, quick of perception, and given to investigation.
There were but few subjects with which he was not more or less
acquainted. For, notwithstanding his close business habits, he found
much time for his favorite occupation of reading; by which means he
kept up with the religious, political, and literary news of the day.
He was a good historian, and possessed a retentive memory. I never
thought of referring to an encyclopedia, or to a dictionary, when he
was present; for I found it so much easier, and more pleasant, to
obtain needed information from him. As regards the intellectual
character of his mind, however, I do not think it was of the highest
stamp. Of all practical things he had a decided opinion. His judgment
was sound. Not marred by prejudice, nor warped by self-love, or
self-praise, or self-aggrandisement, he was enabled coolly to exercise
his powers of mind in forming a just estimate of men and things. He
possessed strong common sense, which, being balanced by a high moral
tone, and refined sensibilities, enabled him to be quick in discerning
the characters of men, but tenderly careful of their feelings and
reputation. I do not think his mind was of a metaphysical cast. He
never willingly engaged in argument of any kind, nor conversed upon
abstruse subjects. He might have said, with David, “Lord, my heart is
not haughty, nor mine eyes lofty, neither do I exercise myself in great
matters, or in things too high for me.” Yet he had a profound respect,
and great admiration, for the highly gifted, and the learned;
especially for those who, with these extraordinary gifts and
attainments, possessed sincere piety. He enjoyed learned disquisitions
just as he did a fine painting, the excellencies and beauties of which
he appreciated, and could point out, without knowing how to use the
brush or the pencil.

He had a keen appreciation of natural beauty, and of the art
which could represent it, either on canvas or in marble. He was fond
of poetry. But of all the poets, Burns stood first in his estimation.
He could enter so easily into the spirit of this writer, because, in
some respects, they were kindred spirits. Burns’ touching pathos, his
humor, his love and pity for man and beast, penetrated his own humorous
and nature-loving soul. When the centenary celebration of the birth of
this great poet took place in St. Louis, a few years ago, he was
absent, and I attended, not only for personal gratification, but that I
might, upon his return, give him an account of it. In a letter to your
mother (who was at Belmont) I alluded to the celebration, and said, “It
only needed ‘father’ to read the ‘Cotter’s Saturday Night’ to have made
it complete in interest.” He did read those poems beautifully; and
many of his anecdotes embodied Scotch and Irish nature, and every-day
life, which he would relate with all their native simplicity and humor,
using the brogue of the one, and the accent and provincialism of the
other, to perfection.

He was fond of music; but that, like his love of poetry, was a
simple taste, his decided preference being for Scotch and Irish
ballads. He could speak and read French well-–very well, when in

In much weakness, my dear children, but looking up to God to
guide me into all truth concerning this matter, I have endeavored to
give you a faithful history of the life (as far as it goes) and
character of your beloved grandfather. I am afraid it does not do him
justice, for I have often felt how meager words are to convey an idea
of what he really was. But look at his portrait, and that benevolent,
honest, cheerful countenance, may, in some measure, make up to you what
my pen has failed to do.

I do not believe I have spoken to you of his kindness to the
poor. But ask, in St. Louis, who were among those who wrung their
hands and wept big tears around his cold remains, and you will find he
was the poor man’s friend.

I have made but slight allusions to his self-denying labors in
the Church of Christ, because I know comparatively, but little of them.
He never spoke of his good works, as such, not even to me. “Let not
thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth” was no difficult task
for one who, alone conscious of his “many infirmities,” was kept truly
humble before the eye of the heart-searching God. His humility was his
crowning virtue. It adorned all the rest, and gave a certain kind of
grace, even to his greatest faults.

Affectionately yours, GRANDMA.

Letter Twelve

My Dear Grandchildren:

In this simple sketch of the life of an unpretending Christian
man, whose highest aim was to discharge his duties, as such, in the
position in which God had placed him, I am aware there is nothing
particularly interesting, or congenial, to the feelings or taste of the
worldling. By “the worldling” I mean a man, or woman, who-–perhaps
without deliberately weighing things as they exist, and regardless of
the future-–is content with the short-lived pleasures and advantages
of this world. But I cannot better describe the worldling than in the
language of your grandfather, taken from a letter which lies open
before me. In speaking of a certain lady who expressed to him a regret
that she had not fifty thousand dollars per annum to spend in living,
he says: “She is a poor, worldly woman, whose chief end in life is to
dash!–-shine, and out-shine-–consequently envies those who have more
means, or appear to out-shine her. I would not swap my old woman for
as many of such as could stand between this and Mobile, and the fifty
thousand per annum in the bargain!” To such among you (God forbid that
there should be such!) I do not write; for I know how the world blinds
by its dazzle, and you could see no beauty or use in living for the
glory of that Being who made and preserves you, and before whom you
must stand to be judged. Made in His image, with an immortal soul, you
might dwell forever with the Redeemer, in the mansions he has gone to
prepare. But, like the butterfly, you fritter away your earthly
existence, and, by so doing, throw away the only cup of real,
unadulterated pleasure of this present life; and, when Time, with all
its fleeting joys, has passed away forever, where, oh, where! do you
expect to dwell?

But for those who are the worthy descendants of him who lived the
life of the righteous, and who find pleasure in reading these imperfect
letters, I will recommence a review of the past, recording, as I have
done, such facts as I think will interest you, and acquaint you still
better with him. You have seen his Christianity exhibited in many
ways; and I have not kept from your view his faults and imperfections.
You have seen him as a son, and as a brother, a friend, and a husband.
As a father, you know but little of him; and now I will relate the
circumstances which led to a temporary separation from his child and
her mother, and will quote from his letters, that you may learn, from
himself, his views and desires as a father, and his manner of
intercourse with this only child of his heart.

During the winter of 1846–-after we had removed from your
great-grandmamma’s, and were again enjoying a home of our own--my health
gave way, to an alarming extent. Although able to go about the house,
it was evident (declared so by my physicians) that I was in a decline.
When I grew no better from the concentrated wisdom of three of the
Faculty, my husband determined to try the effect of a change of air and
scene, first having consulted the doctors as to the expediency of it,
and having been assured by them that, if it did me no good, it could do
me no harm. With his accustomed dispatch he hastened to the river,
secured our passage on a boat, which was to leave in three days, and at
dinner asked me if I would not like to take a trip to Havana? The
question startled me, for there was more business done in March and
April than in any other two months of the whole year, and I could not
see the practicability–-indeed, it had previously seemed almost
impossible for him to leave home at that time. But his answer to my
exclamations of surprise-–“Business is of no importance compared to
health,” and the question, “Can you be ready by day after tomorrow?”
accompanied by the assurance that our state-rooms were already engaged
–-put a stop to further discussion, and set my sister earnestly to work
to get me ready. “Lizzie must leave school,” (”papa” said), “for she,
too, may go along to help take care of mamma”-–and never was a mamma
better taken care of, with two such nurses as she had.

This arrangement acted like a charm, for I began to mend before
we started, from the effect upon my mind, in being drawn off from
myself and my ailments to the necessary thought required in giving
directions for the packing of trunks, and in making arrangements
generally for leaving home. After reaching New Orleans, we were
advised that it was too late in the season to visit Havana, and we
determined to steer our course toward Pensacola; but, upon our arrival
in Mobile, our friends there suggested Pascagoula, as a better place,
and, as it was more accessible than the former, we decided upon trying
the effect of the sea-breeze there. It was early in the season to
visit a watering-place, but we were not the less welcomed by the
proprietors of a delightful hotel, (which has since been burned down),
for, as it happened, they were old acquaintances of ours. This hotel
was a commodious, and cheerful looking establishment, with its large
dancing saloon attached, and had every convenience for the amusement
and comfort of the gay crowd that assembled there in the summer months
for pastime or health. It stood on an eminence, and commanded a
beautiful view of the bay. The large yard in front, which gradually
sloped down to the beach, was planted with evergreens and shrubbery,
presenting a gay contrast, which, with the flowered vines, so prettily
trained around the pillars of the long piazza, made it rurally
picturesque, and filled the air with odors of the sweetest kind. But
nothing was so sweet to me as the unadulterated sea air, which I
delighted to drink in, every breath of which seemed to send vigor into
my wasted and weakened frame. At first, I could walk but a little way
along the beach; but soon, by leaning on the arm of my husband, I could
walk half a mile out on the pier, and, sitting down in a chair
(provided for me), would remain there, with the rest of the party, for
hours, as deeply interested in fishing as ever that famous old angler,
Sir Izaak Walton, could have been. And if he had been as successful as
we were in hooking and pulling out the great variety of fish, large and
small–-with an occasional monster of the deep, which caused us to open
our eyes in amazement-–I am sure he could not have ruminated to his
heart’s content, as he did, and made the world so much the wiser for
his having lived and angled in it.

Pascagoula, as it was then, was by far the most fascinating place
I had ever seen. Besides its natural beauties and advantages, (its
health-giving influences being, no doubt, the greatest to the invalid),
we had a pleasant little society of cultivated people, all bent on
pleasure and sport. Sometimes we would go rowing, and then sailing.
At other times we would course up the Pascagoula river-–a beautiful
little stream, all studded with the gardens of cottagers. One of these
was an Italian, who, devoted to the land of his birth, had, as it were,
transplanted the home of his heart to this romantic spot in the far-off
world. It looked decidedly foreign; but its greatest beauty (to my
taste) was the background, which was composed a grand old forest of
towering pines.

In contrast with this little river, were the island which dotted
the bay, adding beauty to the scene and affording tempting attractions
to those who are fond of pic-nics. One especially-–“Island Casot,”
formed by the beautiful bayou of the same name-–is shaded by immense
live-oak trees, and lies just south on the border of the finest oyster
bed (for flavor) in the South. We spent a whole day there, having
first amply provided ourselves with every luxury, even to comforts and
pillows to lounge on. Your grandfather admired this beautiful little
island so much that he thought seriously of purchasing it, to improve
in a cheap and simple way, to be used as an occasional resort for
health and pleasure. He and your mother were evidently as much charmed
with Pascagoula, and its surroundings, as I was. Both were the picture
of happiness. They engaged in many amusements, of which I was
incapable, and could only look on and laugh at-–such as catching
crabs, and speering flounders by torchlight. They bathed and swam,
too, (the latter with a life-preserver), but they were afraid to
venture out too far, on account of sharks, which were occasionally seen
near the shore. At a certain season of the year there was frequently
heard, near the bath-houses, a strain of music, like the Aeolian harp,
which had never been satisfactorily accounted for, although many wise
heads had pondered ov

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