Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 2 (1869 - 1875)


Lt 17, 1871

White, W. C.

South Boston, Massachusetts

November 10, 1871

Previously unpublished.

Dear Willie:

We have just received and read your letter. We are glad you are getting along so well. We are now comfortably and pleasantly situated at Brother Stratton’s. We are driving our writing as fast as possible. Lucinda is copying. We have appointments Sabbath and Sunday, and in mid-week we write. 2LtMs, Lt 17, 1871, par. 1

Father is cheerful and free and enjoys his change well. We are in no hurry to return to Battle Creek. We can do tenfold more here than we can there. 2LtMs, Lt 17, 1871, par. 2

I had to break this off to go call on Dio Lewis. We found a very affable, social, open-hearted man. We took our seats upon a sofa and were elevated by steam power up four stories. When up at this distance we were in the doctor’s parlor. We were introduced to a portly, plain-looking lady, about my age. She was a sensible-minded, intellectual woman. Our interview was the most pleasant. We chatted as familiarly as though meeting friends of long acquaintance. The doctor invited us to visit the Athenium library. It is quite a sight,—curiosities in the form of books of almost every date. Some hundreds of years old. The style of type, margin of books, arrangements of matter, were a literary curiosity. Books, books, books on every shelf, from story to story, of every description, of every order. 2LtMs, Lt 17, 1871, par. 3

Dr. Dio Lewis talked out his peculiar case to us freely. He has been business surfeited until he is in danger of losing the balance and control of his mind. If business is mentioned to him, he says he becomes irritated and provoked, but on every other subject he is all right. I thought of your father. His case is similar. This is nothing more or less than a mental infirmity. Dr. Lewis says he can lecture with perfect ease from one to three hours every day. He can discuss; he can dictate to write with perfect ease, “but it is deplorable (said he) that I am going all to pieces. The organs that are called into exercise by thought on business matters are so irritated, I get mad fifty times a day at the most simple question asked me in the kindest manner. This infirmity is growing upon me and I am compelled to make a change. I shall go to the Pacific coast and have a change.” 2LtMs, Lt 17, 1871, par. 4

We invited him to tarry a while at Battle Creek at the Health Institute. 2LtMs, Lt 17, 1871, par. 5

But, Willie, I am thoroughly convinced that your father should not stay for any length of time at Battle Creek. Again, I am convinced that we should endeavor to perplex Father as little as possible. Father is happy, cheerful and free. I believe that he should have had a change ere this, but I failed to bring it about. Father, has, I believe, been very nearly unbalanced in some directions. But we may save his brain from permanent disease and insanity by a judicious course. We must be cheerful. We must be happy and patient and not be easily grieved or discouraged or disappointed, if Father cannot do exactly as we feel that he might. We must consider the business care, the continual, wearing tax upon his brain for twenty-five years. Yes, my son, we must look at these things carefully, candidly, and prayerfully. 2LtMs, Lt 17, 1871, par. 6

Some of these things are explained to me since I visited Dr. Lewis that I could not fully understand before. I hope to make a right use of all the light and knowledge I can obtain. Father has been overworked. A strain has been upon his brain so long that he feels it. I feel thankful that he is not entirely broken that he may yet recover or at least escape entire shipwreck. 2LtMs, Lt 17, 1871, par. 7

Willie, we had a good visit to Brother Harris. They have moved in a large quaint, old house that used to be a tavern. The location is good. It cost seven hundred dollars. There are three acres of land with the house. There is an excellent well of pure, soft water close by the house. This is invaluable. There is an excellent school in North Lancaster where Sister Harris lives. The boys attend school. We almost wish that you were here. We would board with Sister Harris and you attend school. But we know not how things may yet turn and where we may be. I like old New England for summer but it is too cold for winter. But the air is bracing and good. I am feeling first-rate except a cold taken on the cars in coming. Lucinda is quite smart. We have her go out every time we go; [we] ride on the street cars to Washington Street and back three miles, which makes six in going and coming. 2LtMs, Lt 17, 1871, par. 8

Willie, try to do your duty faithfully in every spot and place. Be faithful in the littles. Keep up good courage, preserve your integrity and trust wholly in God. 2LtMs, Lt 17, 1871, par. 9

Write us to South Boston as we shall be here till next Thursday. Father will go to Trall’s next Monday. Lucinda and self will remain here to Brother Stratton’s till he returns. I close with much love to you, my dear son, Willie. 2LtMs, Lt 17, 1871, par. 10

From your mother. 2LtMs, Lt 17, 1871, par. 11