Orphan Train - Wisconsin

 

The Life of Charles Loring Brace
Copyright, 1894, by Charles Scribner's Sons

CHAPTER 1

Birth and Parentage --- His Aunts --- Pursuits and Early Education --- Boyish Journal --- College --- College Letters ---The Family Circle -- - His Sister Emma's Letters --- College and Vacation Letters --- Discussions in College --- College Friendships

Charles Loring Brace was born in Litchfield, Connecticut, June 19, 1826. New England may the whole stock of his hereditary qualities as her gift, for the family had lived in Hartford for almost two hundred years, and his mother's blood connected him with the widespread relationships of the Porter and Beecher families. She was Miss Lucy Porter of Maine, a descendant the Hon. Rufus King. Charles was named for Hon. Charles Loring, a lawyer of note in Boston, who married the only sister of Charles's father.

Mr. Brace was of Puritan ancestry, a descendant of Stephen Brace (sometimes written Bracy), a man of good standing and estate, [1] who came from England in 1660 and settled in Hartford, where the family has resided for seven generations. The Braces were among the leaders in the religious and political life of Connecticut, and members of the family have served the State on the bench, in the pulpit, and in the legislature. Capt. Abel Brace, the great-grandfather of Charles L., was an officer in the Revolutionary War and an oft-repeated representative to the General Assembly.

Although he was but seven years of age when his father moved from Litchfield to become principal of the Female Seminary in Hartford, the ties were so strong that bound John Brace and his children to Litchfield, that no account of the forces that moulded Charles is complete which omits to mention the Pierce family and homestead there.

John Brace's aunts, the Misses Pierce, had towards the end of the last century established a school which marked an epoch in the education of girls of that period, being one of the first schools where anything more than an elementary education could be acquired. These women, trained in part in New York through the assistance of an older brother, a man of position there, who had been paymaster under Washington during the Revolutionary War, impress one privileged to read their intimate family letters of those early days, as characters of unusual force and intelligence. They superintended the education of John Brace, and sent him to Williams College, where he studied with a half-formed intention of entering the ministry. But it was early evident that he was a born teacher, and be began the career which made his name honored in many Connecticut homes, as head teacher in his aunts' school in Litchfield. Mrs. Stowe, Mrs. Cyrus W. Field, the first Mrs. Marshall O. Roberts were a few women who felt the inspiration of his teaching, and Mrs. Stowe speaks of him in the life of her father as one of the most stimulating and inspiring instructors I ever knew. The interest of the historical recitations with a professor so widely informed and so fascinating as Mr. Brace extended than the class. Much of the training and inspiration of my early days consisted not in the thing which I was supposed to be studying, but in hearing, while seated at my desk, the conversation Brace with the older classes." [2]

He married in 1820, and in 1833 moved to Hartford. We know too little of Charles's mother, and greatly to be regretted that there is in the mass of correspondence no allusion anywhere to his relations with her. We cannot find that he was ever separated from her long enough for either of them to write. But in the family letters of this date we have glimpses of a self-devoted, anxious mother, with hardly strength enough for the many cares of her little home. Her cheerful courage was an example which helped her daughters when their turn came to take up the heavy responsibilities after her too early death. There is but one story about Charles in his childhood. His curiosity on subjects of history was insatiable, until his questions and his father's elaborate replies became a torment to the young ladies of the school. When, finally, the child selected the dinner hour to propound his queries, and their teacher laid down his carving knife and fork, and the roast grew cold, the pupils, after suffering thus, silent and hungry on several occasions, rebelled. Charles was threatened. If he did not stay away with his questions, he should be kissed. Dreading this terror, after the manner of small boys, he desisted. The story tells us a good deal of the nature of Charles's training.

His occupations and pursuits, although not unlike those of other boys, were very much under his father's eye. This was only according to the good and regular habit of authority familiar to that day, but owing to his father's enjoyment of teaching and the boy's eager intelligence, the relation was especially close. His mother, burdened with the charge of a younger, delicate boy, left Charles entirely in his father's care. She died in 1840, when Charles was fourteen.

For seven years, despite all the absorbing duties of a teacher's life, his father read to him for two hours a day on historical subjects, varying them with Scott and Shakespeare. The Greek and Roman histories with which the course began were acted out in the boy's imagination by the aid of acorns, with which he represented contending armies.

Among his favorite pursuits with his father, trout fishing became an ingrained habit, and through all his life Charles was one of the most ardent followers of that apostolic occupation. For the rest, in addition to boys' games and plays, he loved rambles in the country. His home in Hartford was in a suburb, and within easy reach of streams and country walks, his letters written from college glow with memories, dwelt upon all through the winter, of his spring rambles and fishing expeditions at home.

We must speak also of his formal education in schooling and reading. Whatever limitations his training had, --- and we know that from the point of view of modern schooling it was completely defective in a scientific direction, --- it must have been, according to the light of Litchfield in 1830 at least, and exceedingly copious one. In consequence of his father's watchful attention to his development, he was ready for college at fourteen, and lingered outside till sixteen, studying French, German, and, it appears, Spanish, and reading history. He was all his life a good linguist, and was able, in his travels in Hungary, even to talk a little Latin at need, from his college preparation.

In a journal kept during the year before be entered college we find, among others, the following entries: ---

" Nov. 9, 1841. The sun rose clear, with the wind north-west; a few clouds around, but on the whole a beautiful morning. I've just got my Spanish lesson. Tooth don't ache at all. Voila une sentence Latine! 'Per tibicinem, qui coram Mose modulatus est' ---I think that could hardly have been from Horace. 'Das ist schones Wetter.' 'C'est un beau jour.' 'Hace bello tiempo.' Hier sie haben drei sprachen, Deutsche, Franzosisehe und Spanische. --- N'est-ce pas grand? I kicked football from five till dark. Emma [his sister] went to the temperance lecture this evening (like a goose!); also she made some calls."

"Nov. 30, 1841. The sun rose clear and bright. Wind N. W. and gave us a beautiful day. I studied part of the morning, and went to the Institute lecture in the evening, delivered by Elihu Burritt, or the learned blacksmith. He isn't thirty yet, and knows fifty-three languages. His lecture was on ‘Genius.' That there was no such thing as genius or native talent. He made use of one quotation that I must remember, 'It is nature that makes the rolling billows sleep and the sleeping billows roll."'

"Feb. 16, 1842. 1 will give my occupations now. First I get two pages of Xenophon and then one page of Cicero, and then my German and write in my journal. In the afternoon I get one hundred lines in the ‘AEneid,' and fifty-lines in the 'Georgics' (these are all reviews), and then sometimes study German. The rest of the time I devote to reading French and English works, or writing poetry!!! Evenings I give to reading or playing chess or backgammon."

"Feb. 20. Bushnell preached in the morning on the text 'Then went in also that other disciple.' A strange text! His subject was the 'secret and involuntary influences ' of every one. . . . He then illustrated it from the works of God. He said the earthquake's shock seemed a fearful thing in Nature. But the morning's light, whose dawn would not, awake an infant, had more influence than a thousand earthquakes. He then described the effect if that light were blotted out. How the earth, with its sister planets, would soon be icy balls floating in primeval darkness. How the earthquakes would be frozen their fiery caverns. (For a fuller description see Byron's poem on 'Darkness.') He ended with a solemn appeal to his hearers not to harden their hearts to his preaching."

This extract from the journal has been given in because the sermon referred to exercised so profound an influence on Mr. Brace. In a letter to a young friend, in 1886, after speaking of Bushnell and his influence on the young men of Hartford, be says, " That sermon on 'Unconscious Influence' affected my whole life."

The studious days were varied by whole days in the open air, trout- fishing, or bathing, or "loafing," as he says.

On August 16, 1842, he says: ---

"This is quite an important day of my life, the day of my examination for college. . . . My examination lasted only about three-quarters of an hour. It was perfectly simple. . . . Finally they gave me my commission, and I am a ---Freshman of Yale College. Hurray! I lazed around, in a perfect agony for something to do all the afternoon. New Haven is a most beautiful place."

In October, 1842, we find him in college, well equipped, mentally and physically, to take his place among those to whom the college days remain to the last so happy a memory. "Intense earnestness in whatever he undertook was the characteristic and, one might say, the keynote of his life," says one of his friends, and we may add, whether it were boxing or football, classical studies or religious argument, the same enthusiasm showed in all he did. In December he writes to his father the following letter, which pictures to us his occupations and e days: ---thoughts in his early college days: ---

New Haven, December 11, 1842.

My dear Father: If there is one thing I miss especially here which I had at home, it is Mr. Bushnell's sermons. This thought occurred to me from looking over some old notices of Bushnell's sermons in my journal to-day. You must tell him how the Hartford boys (I am not the only one) miss him, and how much the students here would love to hear him; for his fame is pretty generally extended among them. . . . I think John's [3] father must be very rich, for John has a great deal of money. He treats fellows considerably to pies and that kind of thing, and is very generous with it. I have refused, except once or twice, to be treated, because I could not afford it in return (not that I ever said so), but he buys great quantities of confectionery, etc., and brings it into the room, where I must eat it. That is all well enough, for I furnish eatables, pies, etc., from home; but he has bought fencing foils, dumb bells, etc., and is going to buy boxing gloves, and bis father will probably get a good many of those kinds of things, which I shall enjoy as much as he. 'Now I want to know whether it will seem at all dependent in me to use these things. If the slightest expression that way should ever drop from him, I should separate from him immediately, but as it is, don't hardly think he considers it so at all. This last is all private. . . . I don't know but what you will find me somewhat rusty. I haven't been into society much this winter, and need some virtuous females to reform me. Father, I do envy you your youthful days in company as much as anything. I am afraid 'your worthy son is destined for something else in that line. However, never say die!

Last Sunday I joined the church, [4] and I humbly hope that with God's aid, I shall keep up to my professions. I have to be much more careful of myself than I would be at home, or than persons generally would, for John notices very particularly, and is influenced in his own conduct by what he sees in mine. Father, you talk a great deal about being old and that kind of thing, but you are not, and I expect many a pleasant fishing expedition yet with you. I hope you will not be so much of a gardener next summer that you'll forget fishing. It's too great a descent for a gentleman to take to digging after trout- fishing, and he at least ought to make the descent gradual, by dividing his time between them. . . . Bushnell gave the good people of New Haven quite a curious and certainly a splendid lecture. It has set the big-wigs in tremendous excitement. . . . Woolsey says the theory is wrong. The young men like it to distraction, ---they praise his originality, his liberality, and his independence.

His father replies: "You speak of my youthful days in company. Those days were not, after all, the most profitable ones of my life. I was led away by the ease with which I could 'set the table in a roar' to become light, and trifling in character. From early childhood I was surrounded by a changing variety of females that did not produce much permanency of feeling in my character. Had I possessed less fondness for female society, and less love of humor, my situation and destiny in life would have probably been far different. . . . I am very thankful that you have united with the Church, and I pray God to give you strength to adorn the profession. You have a high, though not a quick temper to control, much worldliness to contend with, and the downward example of the young men around you. --- . . I think I have great cause to be grateful for the character, conduct, and habits of my children.

The little family circle that Charles left on going to college consisted of his father, an older sister Mary, a devoted daughter to her lonely father and like a mother in the motherless home, a younger brother James, and a sister Emma, just two years his junior, with whom he had during her short life an intimacy of relation rare even in the happiest homes. She was so strong, so brave, so unmoved by anything disturbing, so sunny and merry, that it is easy to understand his close dependence upon her. During his college life, her sweet and merry letters came to him almost every week, in the "trunk" in economical New England fashion, carried his linen and pies to him with absolute regularity. One occasionally wonders whether the pies, consumed by the small circle of friends regardless of the hour, on the arrival of the trunk, did not cost more, at least in effects, than a modest weekly washing of linen!

Out of the mass of letters from Emma, we insert the following: ---

[Undated. Presumably 1842.]

You seemed to doubt, dear Charley, if I could sympathize with you in your feelings of ambition, but I can. I have felt it some, but I know it was not to such an extent as yours is. If I was placed in such a situation as you are, I should get so excited with ambition, for I have it in me. . . . My heart is with you. I cannot but urge you to place your standard high, and you'll get somewhere near it. I hope you will be able to get what you desire. Though you have noble antagonists, I should think you may attain, if not the first (which I hardly dare to hope), at least one of the first. . . . I suppose as a prudent sister I ought to urge you not "to be rash, " and to preach not to be imprudent in regard to your health, and above all, not to let it get the advantage over your duties to God. . . . But I do not see why you cannot be ambitious and at the same time have this feeling in subservience to God's will; why cannot you perform your duties to God at the same time, and ask his blessing upon your efforts. . . . I do not know as I shall be able to write you next time, as it will be just before examination and I shall be very busy. In five weeks is vacation. I anticipate it with a great deal of pleasure, for two weeks of it come at the same time yours do, and it will be grand. I have formed a nice plan. You know we shall want to go fishing, and so I move we have a wagon with two seats, and you, Mr. Colt, Jim, and I go. Mr. C. says he will! I think it will be capital. If you young gentlemen (ahem!) are afraid I shall talk too much, and disturb your deep meditations or logical reasoning, I will promise to be the best little girl that ever was, and hold up my hand every time I want to speak. But a truce to trifling; I say it must be carried into effect. The aforesaid gentleman is initiating me into the mysteries of the seventh book in "Virgil," so I quite enjoy his visits.

From the Same.

HARTFORD [1846].

My dear Charley: . . . And last, but not least in my opinion, is your humble servant with a sage, dignified countenance, hair put up on her head. Yes, Charley, your "youngest sister" has done all that externals can do to make her a young lady, with long dresses, and those lovely, fascinating, and exquisite sausages which hung down her neck, have at last been turned up, and the " lovely Miss Emma has grown so excessively dignified in consequence of such change that her friends would hardly recognize her. . . . I graduate three weeks from to-day, and no longer can I smile except, tell Henry, on some interesting Sophomore, who chances to cross my path. . . . The other evening Mr. Bushnell advised us to cultivate a devotional spirit as being the most improving one. He told us to rise early, and before the business of the day commenced and before the cares of this life distracted our thoughts, to kneel in humble devotion to God and pray fervently to him. I have tried it since then, and have risen quite early. I find that my thoughts do get distracted, even before I get dressed, and I do not enter into the spirit of the time enough, but I do hope it will do me good and draw me nearer to God daily.

She studied hard at the Seminary with the intention of becoming a teacher, and in 1846, even before Charles has begun life for himself, we find her courageously starting alone for Kentucky, full of eagerness to relieve her father of her support and to do her little part of usefulness in the world. The journey was by stage-coach, and might have daunted a less brave spirit. Her little school at Garrettsburg was very successful, and she bore the separation from those at home with cheerful courage, as the letters written soon after her arrival, to her father, and later to Charles, clearly show.

Emma Brace to J. P. Brace.

GARRETTSBURG, Aug. 8, 1846.

Dear Father: Your blue little picture of our never all being at home again, I just turned the back side foremost. Why gracious, pa, I expect many a merry time yet with our interesting family, and if Mary does get married, why, I'm looking forward to keeping house for you; and though I could not make you as comfortable and happy, yet I should enjoy it. If I cannot sing, I can be jolly; if I cannot cook, I can make believe and then laugh; and if I cannot darn, can sew up and botch, and, anyway, if the flesh don't show, what's the difference--- So here are my merits, and such as they are you're welcome to them.

From Emma to Charles. [5]

GARRETTSBURG, Dec. 29, 1846.

. . . How little you understand me, Charley. If you only knew the perfect rush of happiness that comes across me when I think of home, and that this time next year I may be there, you'd not dream of accusing me of want of feeling. I'm not homesick, if I could get home to-morrow; I wouldn't do it; but when my time is out (and how long that shall be I leave for father to determine), the way I shall allow feelings full play! 'Tisn't worth while to be discontented while I stay, is it? That is the impression that I meant to convey in my former letters, for really I have nothing to be displeased with here, as much at home as in old "Yankee land." You know, anywhere you can find subject enough to cavil at, if you have the disposition, but not more anywhere. Now do you fully understand my feelings? There are more inducements to stay here, which can't operate at home. For instance, I should have more inducements to do good, as the children placed under my care here will perhaps never have another opportunity to learn their duty, and to hear of God and his mercies; and isn't that something in the scale--- The motive father attributes to me --- that of making money --- is unworthy of a thought almost. My only desire is not to be a burden to father any longer, and that I should not be with the salary be offers me, and there I should have all the pleasures and advantages of being at home, and perhaps might be some assistance to Mary. So if father says so, I shall be home next summer, and the way we'll spree it!

To return to Charles's correspondence with his father, he writes from college in January, 1843: ---

" It is Sunday, and from some thoughts I have had, I thought I would ask your advice. All today, at the most solemn times, I have thoughts come over me which completely carry me away. These thoughts are principally on ambition, my studies, and things connected with them, and I want to know whether a person can be ambitious and still attend to his Christian duties. It will not do, evidently, to neglect my studies and everything of that kind, and yet it ought not to be, as it is now, that my last thought going to sleep is on my lesson, and my first in the morning on the worldly duties of the day. I think it is rather a trait of my character that whenever a certain feeling comes over it, either like that or different from it, it occupies all my thoughts, excluding everything else. Now to-day I would try to. fix my attention on the sermon, but in a moment I would be thinking of the dire struggle going on between this and that fellow, and so it was all the time. I can not prevent those thoughts from entering my mind, but I can find out and perhaps prevent the causes of them. I wonder whether I couldn't study the motives of doing good; for the reputation of a good scholar here certainly does give a man more influence than anything else. I should like to know whether you, when a young man, had such feelings come over you, and exclude everything else. But enough of myself for the present.

“ I presume you would like to know the state of religion here. A short time ago I thought there was a general revival commencing, but it seems now to be at a standstill. Professor Goodrich told us to- night that we were the pioneers of religion in the college, and that our motto should be 'Aspera non terrent.’ We have a general church meeting Monday night to consider and pray over the state of things in college.

“Whatever Taylor's theology may be, he is certainly a most interesting, yes, something more than that preacher. By the way, if you ever have time to sketch a few of your most powerful arguments against Taylor's system, I would like to see them. Don’t be alarmed! I am not going to turn Taylorite; in fact, I don't know the difference yet between except that some Taylorite at our table said that the opposite (as I understood it) party believed in the damnation of infants. Whereat, though I didn't care much, I thought it rather improbable, to say the least, that they went to hell. Please not tell Mr. Eliphalet Terry, Esq., etc., etc., that, as he would regard it as the first symptoms of Taylorite principles working in me, and then might not send his son here. Though it would be a perfect blessing if that son of his ever meddled with theology at all. You never yet have told me whether you thought it extravagant or not, going to that other club. I think you should tell me the truth exactly. If you can find time, please tell me a little about Shelley, if you can,--- his reputation, writings, etc. . . . You have been pleased to compliment me, several times, on my 'frugality and economy.' You needn't suppose that they are virtues which I have, for I have as much inclination for spending as any one, but I think I would be rascally indeed if I was spending money here while you were working like a dog at home, and all of you perhaps stinting yourselves for me. . . . Many thanks for the pie."

The vacations were as busy and as happy to Charles as the college days, with visits to the old Litchfield home and long days of fishing, either with one of his college friends or alone. These experiences, which filled each summer brimful of enjoyment, are described in the following letters, which are inserted together, although written during different vacations: ---

To his Father.

SHARON, September, 1843.

Dear Father: . . . After a very hot walk of about four hours, I arrived in Litchfield. . . . I was welcomed by all most cordially, and we conversed till quite late. They got talking about your " hobbies, "and Aunt Sarah said that gardening was your present one, and you engaged in that as furiously as you once searched after bugs. . . . Thursday there was very hot, even in their cool house. I suspect it must have been a roaster in H. I started about a quarter of six next morning for Sharon. It was cloudy and looked like rain. When I had got on some eight or nine miles, it begin to rain briskly, and as I had arrived at a trout brook, I fished, and had decent luck; then I went to another flowing into the Housatonic. I should have had splendid success, if it hadn't been for the rain, which came down in floods. As it was, I caught some very fine ones; one must have weighed a pound or more. I took dinner on three-fourths of a pie and a cup of coffee, which warmed me up well. Then on I went, through as hard a rain as I ever saw,--- soon not a dry thread on me. I kept up my spirits while I gulped down the workings of the apple pie in my stomach, for a long while, by singing (ahem!) or composing, or pleasant imaginings. I think it would have been rich to have seen me ---such a forlorn looking object, trying to croak forth "Let us be joyful!” or “Thou reignest,” etc. The contemplative-looking geese and stolid-faced pigs that I met seemed to look at me, as though they took a sort of pleasure in my sufferings. One impudent little squirrel sat and watched me a long while, as though he did think I was foolish in coming out in that drizzle. However, on I went, and arrived at Sharon in the beginning of the P.M. completely chilled through. . . . My expedition here has cost me thirty-one and one-half cents (you paid fifty cents) for the trunk, and twenty-two cents for eatables. To- morrow I shall trout, and expect great luck.

To the Same.

LITCHFIELD, Sept. 3, 1844.

Dear Father : I arrived here last night about seven, pretty considerably tired. How those hills do accumulate just before Litchfield! --- it seems as if one would never reach the top of that range. My first nine miles I accomplished in two hours, and reached Farmington before seven o'clock --- pretty good walking that! Mr. Whitman recognized me as your son principally from my fishing-basket. Nothing particular happened except a countryman in the tavern told me I should be unlucky, for "the sign was in my legs." What the deuce he meant I don't know. His sign, I could have told him, was decidedly in his nose, which looked ominously red.

Late in 1843 we find Charles's thoughts turning more and more strongly to moral questions, and we begin at this time to discover the first signs of awakening of the humanitarian side of his character, which grew steadily throughout his college course, so that one of his friends says be addressed him soon after leaving college as "My dear philanthropist." The following series of letters give us slight glimpses of this, mingled with pictures of the varied interests of the young man's life.

To his Father.

COLLEGE, December, 1843.

Dear Father: I write in haste to tell you our subjects for Prize Composition. The first was " The Influences of Poetry," next "The Influences of History" and third, " Philosophy. " This last we can take up either generally, or in each of its branches, as for example, Intellectual, Moral, Political, etc.” I have concluded to take “Moral Philosophy” as my subject both because it is more difficult and more beneficial for me to write upon, and because I like it. I consider “Moral Philosophy” to be the science of the principles of duty and of the obligations of man. I do not propose to consider it theoretically, as to the grounds of moral obligation and freedom of will, etc., etc., neither to give a history of its progress as a science, but to view it practically. Something in this way: Moral Philosophy as the studies or inquires or attempts that have for their object the knowledge and necessities (i.e. arising from the relations of man to society, to himself, and his God, and from many other things which I haven’t thought of yet) of this science. Secondly, The influences of it. Thirdly, The objects of it; and a conclusion either on its future influence co-operating with Christianity or on the continued improvement it is destined to have, or its influence on the evils now threatening our country. This, of course, is but a slight skeleton of the manner I intend to treat it; interspersed with objections, etc., etc. I wish you would either suggest some of your own thoughts on this, or tell me of some good reading on it. There will be a great struggle for the prizes, and I am anxious to do well. Please not mention I am trying.

March 22, 1844. . . . I should like to know, father, whether you have any process of thinking ---I mean on some subject you are going to write about. Now I never can think out a subject merely by thinking, but I have, if it's at all of a metaphysical subject, to commence by examining what its effects or results would be on me, what its causes would be in my case; or, if it is a subject of a different kind, I have to refer in mind to history for similar facts, and from these draw my conclusion or see the influence of the topic I am treating of, upon the nations of the world. I have to look much at analogies to commence my reasoning --- now is this the right way--- Give me your opinions, if you please, upon this. I send you up a composition, hastily copied, so that you may have some trouble with it, and, I am afraid, rather hastily written. It strikes me I have got into rather too dry a way of writing --- great beads and little heads very manifest ---too sermon like, numberless heads and horns.. . . I should like to make a kind of plan of what --- Deo juvante --- I'll do in vacation:

First for reading: ---Some of Byron. Some of Scott's poetry. Bancroft, if I have time. Some of Swift (Tale of a Tub and Gulliver). Carlyle’s Miscellanies. Copy off some of Macaulay and Irving. Attempt to write some. Prescott, perhaps. Study German, if possible, with Emma. May study a little ahead in Conic Sections (???). Stephen's Miscellanies. Constitution of U. S. Tariff Question. Political characters I must know. Trout-fish (in Windsor) If possible, etc., go up to Litchfield to try the pickerel with you.

I have great expectations of a large revival of religion here even in the few remaining weeks. There have been some most remarkable conversions, --- showing the power of religion as I have never seen it before, --- some of the most signal and especial answers to prayer.. . . There are many other cases which I haven't time to mention, and many symptoms of a great change. God only knows whether it will take place. By the way, Mary C--- has become a Christian, and in rather a singular manner, which I will tell you, but don't mention it. It seems she has somehow become acquainted with several of our very pious students. Well, as she was to leave for New York on Saturday last, they concluded something must be done. On Friday evening they induced her to go to a meeting, which, however, didn't affect her much. On Saturday one of them had a long religious conversation with her, but produced no effect except to induce her to stay and go to a meeting, on Sunday night. That night her friends sat up till one o'clock praying for her, and the next morning by ten o'clock, as one of them expressed it to me, "She was rejoicing in hope." I trust it will prove a true conversion.

SPRING! SPRING!

'Tis Spring, 'tis Spring, I know it is, For the little pigs are out, etc."

May, 1844. . . . I do not think I should ever have cared one snap for green fields and trees and Woods and all that kind of thing, if I had never trout-fished. I hope you'll write me of all the fishing scrapes that come off this summer.

How does your school come on --- any fuller--- I am very sorry I spent the money I did in vacation ---it was very foolish and wrong. I might have spent it, even if I could have afforded it, for much better objects. However, regret will do no good. All I shall do will be not to spend any this term. I am resolved neither to take or give a treat this session, not even a glass of soda-water or beer. I want to know, father, whether you can't afford Emma a French teacher. If you cannot, situated as you now are, let me know immediately. I think I can arrange it so as to save you some dollars or so. I can board very cheap indeed if I choose. Emma ought to have an education certainly.

Spring, 1844. As for myself, I am getting along as usual, except that I have had one toothache sickness. However, I have never enjoyed such good health in my life as this summer, and have never exercised more. I have read some little, particularly in Carlyle. I do think he has some thoughts which we rarely meet elsewhere ---a real philosophical poet's mind. But I do not like his religious sentiments. Not that he's infidel at all, but I do not believe he knows any of the consolations of religion. He analyzes a character splendidly, showing remedies for defects, and evidently knows more than most of the sources of poetic feeling, yet there are some feelings he knows not of. Do you recollect the part here he speaks of Scott when bankrupt--- How he girded himself to meet his misfortunes like a proud, strong man of the world? --- " It was a hard trial. He met it proudly, bravely, with a noble cheerfulness, while his life strings were cracking; he grappled his task and wrestled with it years long, in death grips, strength to strength, --- and it proved the stronger, and his life and heart did crack and break; cordage of a most strong heart!" He then tells us of Scott's refuge, instead of struggling --- the refuge of "acknowledging himself wrong." But who would or could choose such a refuge --- it would give no satisfaction. The only refuge for such a man as Scott in misfortune was in religion, to come humbly to his Father in Heaven, to confess he had laid up his treasure elsewhere than in heaven, to thank God for this his paternal chastisement, and to resolve to place his happiness where he should find no disappointment. If Scott had been a religious man, with his noble heart he would have done this, and found that "peace which the world cannot take away." If Carlyle had been a religious man, he would have spoken of that best refuge. But don't you admire Scott's character, -- - that warm-hearted enthusiasm and that strength too--- . . . You feel too much about your children suffering from poverty. Bless me! what poverty have we suffered--- I have had many more luxuries than were good for me, and more advantages than some of the richest fellows. I believe even our little self-denial has been the very best thing for us. I am conscious if I had had wealth I should have been even much worse than now. Besides, if I am going to do any good in life, I must begin by denying myself now. I am afraid, father, you are not as happy nowadays as I could wish. I know you have many troubles, but do not let thoughts of your children distress you. I need not tell you, for you know it well, how deep is my love for you --- how much do I owe to you! It used to make me very sad when you spoke of dying so soon, but now I have somewhat of a hope we shall all meet in Heaven. So cheer up, do, father.

His life during the last year in college, the winter of '45---'46, grew more filled with content in his friendships and his work. Besides following the studies required, a small set of friends worked in Professor Silliman's laboratory, " to the profit of some, and to the solid satisfaction of all. We read and studied and talked and experimented beyond anything required by the regular courses. College students always get a large and valuable part of their education from each other, and perhaps this set to which he belonged did this more than most. We discussed things endlessly." So writes Mr. Kingsbury, a classmate and life-long intimate, and he goes on to say,

Brace's mind was wonderfully receptive and unprejudiced. He was never opinionated nor dogmatic. How does it strike you?' and 'What do you think of it?’ and 'What should you say to this?' indicate his mental attitude on almost every subject that came up, and there were very few subjects that did not come up, at one time or another, in our discussions. . . . Of course, religion, theoretical and practical, general and personal, entered largely into these discussions." Another friend says, in 1848, this small coterie: "You speak in your letter of old college friends. They were a glorious set, Charley; we shall never meet their like again. We cannot expect to find again such sympathy of spirit and such congeniality of taste and feeling, as we met with in those whose objects, interests, and hopes were for the time identical with ours." And Charles writes in 1846 to F. J. Kingsbury: ---

"Yes, your remark is correct. We are a most uncommon set of common friends. I find myself falling into the conviction occasionally that ' we are the saints' and no mistake' I believe I am more thankful for friends than almost anything in this world. Do you remember Carlyle's remark about wealth--- 'A man's wealth is in the number of things he loves and blesses, which he is--- loved and blessed by.' Good, isn't it--- The last two years have been very, very pleasant. The first part I was green, no mistake. There hasn't been anything like this last winter though. Oh, how different it has made me I Don't you find yourself, Fred, enjoying your religion more now than you used to--- I do. I never had quite such feelings before. I never felt so much before what a good God was over me. I never believed so before in the reality of an eternal life."

1. "'Early Puritan Settlers," R. R. Hinman. Hartford, 1852.

2. Mrs. Stowe, in "Old Town Folks,” has pictured some of his methods himself in the character of Rossiter.

3. John H. Olmsted, one of the Hartford boys, a friend of Charles's before they entered college.

4. The Congregational.

5. Unfortunately, scarcely any letters from Charles to his sister have been found.

to Chapter 2

transcribed by Tina Vickery from the original

 

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