Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 1 (1844 - 1868)


Lt 6, 1866

White, J. E.

Battle Creek, Michigan

December 8, 1866

Portions of this letter are published in 2Bio 156.

Dear Son Edson:

Your father seems much improved. He is gaining victories in regard to his eating. We could not ask him to do better than he has been doing. He seems more like himself—interests himself in matters transpiring around him and is more social. I am greatly encouraged in his case. I have been out riding with him almost every day the past week. Have visited Richard [Godsmark], Brother Graves twice, Sister Sawyers, and Eliza Bovee. I shall stand by your father in his efforts to overcome. I know that he has a hard struggle and needs the help of God. 1LtMs, Lt 6, 1866, par. 1

Dear Edson, your visit to Battle Creek left rather a disagreeable impression upon my mind. I was glad to see you, as I ever am, but your lack of thoroughness was so evident it left a weight of sadness upon me. I cannot see that you have improved in that matter. I noticed it particularly; but it is so unpleasant to point out your faults, knowing that your father has been so sensitive in regard to them. But still I feel that as a mother it is my duty kindly to set before you these failings, for I fear they are becoming habitual to you, or chronic faults of long standing. 1LtMs, Lt 6, 1866, par. 2

You seem to be scattered in your acts. You handle tools, but there is scarcely an instance where you think you have time to put them in their place. As a result you waste hours looking for articles which it is impossible to find. Much money is expended upon tools and items which, when once in your possession, are no longer of sufficient value to you for you to afford time to take care of them. You seem to be always in a hurry when we desire to have things done. 1LtMs, Lt 6, 1866, par. 3

I can explain all this to myself [even] if I do not convince you of it. Let me name one thing. In the first place, you do not have system in what you do. You do not consider the night before what is to be done the next day, or if you leave your considerations until morning, what is to be done in the day before you. You commence to do things just as they present themselves, and often when the day closes there are many things left undone which should have been done. 1LtMs, Lt 6, 1866, par. 4

In the second place, you do not feel the responsibility resting upon you as a son at your age. You do not realize that your time is ours, and that every moment is due us just as much as though we had employed you by the month or by the day. You seemed on your last visit to show a wonderful lack of interest, which grieved me and left this disagreeable impression on my mind. Your mind was not exercised as to how you could do and what you could do while at home, to tell to the best advantage, that we might feel your absence as little as possible; but you seemed to be all awake to look out for that which would amuse, divert, and please yourself. There did not seem to be any study with you how to economize your time and labor so that we should not have to be paying out means all the time. I have taken up between two and three hundred dollars since our return home. Your dentist bill and items of clothing cost something over fifty dollars, besides means which was handed to you to pay your expenses at Albion. 1LtMs, Lt 6, 1866, par. 5

Considering these things, Edson, and taking into account that your labors are worth, or should be worth, to us two dollars a day, and we deprive ourselves of your labor and are to great expense on your account, I think you should consider and show that you have some interest in home and the home affairs. You left, and here stand grapes untouched, and many things I shall have to pay for having done, which it was your duty to do, and you left undone to please and gratify yourself by going to town or to the institution. You may think that your time was pretty well filled but, Edson, you would use up an hour here and an hour there, and these short days a few hours lost takes about the whole day. Now these grapes I expect will be chilled and spoiled for bearing next year. 1LtMs, Lt 6, 1866, par. 6

The cow is here to be attended to, horses to tend, the horses to be harnessed and unharnessed once a day, and Sanford laboring early and late to do these things. You left the horses in bad condition, with at least a load of manure in their stables. We paid Sanford for three or four hours’ work in shoveling out manure in order that the horses’ hind feet might not stand one foot higher than their forefeet. You used the new horse blanket to ride horseback, took no care of it but threw it down and Sanford picked it up from under the horses’ feet. 1LtMs, Lt 6, 1866, par. 7

You should have tried to see all that needed to be done to relieve me. Here is the carriage all out of order. While you were here and there where it was not necessary for you to be, you could have been getting leathers to fix the carriage curtains with. You could have done this as well as anyone. Now I shall have to do it. The seat needs fixing, the standard of the carriage is all out of order. If you had attended to these things you would have lightened my burdens, but it was evident your interest was not here. Your mind was scattered somewhere where we had no benefit of it. 1LtMs, Lt 6, 1866, par. 8

You drop things just where it seems handy. I found Sanford’s screwdriver on the ground in the front yard. You probably meant to have taken care of it but never did. The mouse traps Jenny found by the gate on the ground. There was thirty cents carelessly left as of no account. No doubt you intended to bring them in the house some time, but after once out of your hands that is the last thoughts you have of them. 1LtMs, Lt 6, 1866, par. 9

Lack of thoroughness has been one of your greatest faults. I fear that you will not appreciate your time now in Albion, but will think you can acquire an education easily, or any time you wish, and will not apply yourself closely and make the most of your time while there. Let me tell you, Edson, that in all probability you never will be as favorably situated to acquire knowledge at any future period as now. In the summer we must not, cannot, depend on hire. You must be our dependence. In the winter you can improve your mind. You will not be of sufficient experience or qualified to engage in any business whatever without sinking much until you learn to save the littles, to take care of little things, and educate yourself in thoroughness in all you do. Without this experience your education will not be worth a straw to you. When will you bring your life into harmony with what you well know? 1LtMs, Lt 6, 1866, par. 10

I do not write thus because it is a pleasure for me to do so but because I know it to be my duty as your mother. We want you to be a useful young man. If you are so you must reform in many things. Deny yourself of amusements and seek how you can be useful. 1LtMs, Lt 6, 1866, par. 11

Edson, you need to become a conscientious Christian, then you can or will work from a religious standpoint. But while you are seeking your pleasure or taking a course such as worldlings take, your future life will not give me much encouragement. I do not flatter myself much on your account. God has given you much light. He holds you accountable for the light which you now have and which has already shone upon your pathway. While you refuse to become a Christian, a soldier of Jesus Christ, you are no less than a rebel, and can be nothing else but a rebel to God’s government, for you are in rebellion to His government. God help you to consider seriously the unsafe and dangerous position you occupy, without God or hope in the world. Should sickness come upon you, should your reason be clouded and you go down into the grave without hope, life with you will have been an entire mistake. 1LtMs, Lt 6, 1866, par. 12

This life at the best and longest is none too good or too long to be spent in seeking to obtain the higher, eternal life, and yet one will chase phantoms all his life, and others will follow his example, and in the end find they have spent their life for naught. They have sown to the flesh and reap what—honors, fame, and wealth? It may be, as far as this world is concerned; but in the end, when they have no more to do with anything that is done under the sun, what have they gained? Corruption. They cannot say with Job, “Though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God.” Job 19:26. He could look forward to the time when he would be resurrected and made immortal and stand before the Judge of both quick and dead. 1LtMs, Lt 6, 1866, par. 13

Edson, I dare not let you rest in carnal security. Think of your eternal interest. You make many mistakes and errors here, manifest a great lack of thoroughness, and I fear will at last make a final, irreparable mistake and find you have lost everything—lost heaven, lost eternal life. And your final destiny will be with the wicked, as though you had not been. 1LtMs, Lt 6, 1866, par. 14

Can you afford to blunder along with your mistakes where eternal consequences are involved? Can you afford to sell heaven so cheaply because you will not be earnest, energetic, and thorough enough to secure your soul’s salvation? Will you refuse to become an heir of glory, a joint heir with Jesus Christ to the immortal inheritance, because it requires effort, self-denial, and sacrifice of your wishes and desires thus to become a lawful heir? Is heaven of no consequence to you? 1LtMs, Lt 6, 1866, par. 15

You will be judged according to the deeds done in the body. Not only will you be required to render an account for the wrongs you have done but for the good you ought to have done and did not do. 1LtMs, Lt 6, 1866, par. 16

I will not weary you. Think seriously of these things. I wish to hear from you. Write as often as you can. If you have vacation and your interest can be at home, come home. If not, you can just as well save the expense. If you come home, we shall expect it is to see us and to be interested in your home. 1LtMs, Lt 6, 1866, par. 17

In much love, from your Mother, who feels the most intense interest for you. 1LtMs, Lt 6, 1866, par. 18