Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 6 (1889-1890)


Lt 81, 1889

Walling, Fred



Previously unpublished.

Mr. Walling:

I am sorry for you. I know you are not a happy man. I tried to do the very best thing I could for you in taking care of your children, but after I was gone to Europe, which fact you were fully acquainted with, you made a mistake in your action toward the children in my absence. No one would object to your visiting them, but your manner and the course pursued was not a right one. 6LtMs, Lt 81, 1889, par. 1

There had been a silence on your part for years. They seldom heard from you and had not seen you. I had the sole management of them. Would it, then, not have been a proper course to have communicated with me in regard to your children as to what plans I had in view for them? Certainly someone had to plan for them, someone had to devise as to the proper course for them in the future. My husband and myself had borne the burden of them, a heavier burden than I ever carried for my own children. 6LtMs, Lt 81, 1889, par. 2

I treated them in all their perversity of disposition as I wished the Lord to treat me. During the whole period of my care for your children I did not punish them but once, then I saw that nothing better could be done to correct certain evils that must be cured. Once I corrected Addie; once I punished May, and the object was gained. My manner was not to threaten, to drive, to scold and jerk them about, as some mothers do their children. I looked upon them as the younger members of the Lord’s family. To the Lord I must render my account for how I had dealt with these children. 6LtMs, Lt 81, 1889, par. 3

There can be no haphazard work brought into the education and training of children. Beating them is not the way to correct evils. Christ said, “Without me ye can do nothing.” [John 15:5.] The grace of Christ alone can cure the soul maladies and mold the character after the divine Pattern. I took up this work, to be faithful in it as I would in the articles I write for our papers and the discourses given before the congregation. I must meet my work in the judgment. You must meet your work, for all will be judged according to the deeds done in the body. Every secret thing, Mr. Walling, will then be brought to light, every hidden thing be revealed, every dishonest action and the motive underlying the action will appear just as it is. It takes grace to overcome evil influences and if we have not that grace, there is no telling how low we may conduct ourselves. I tried to fasten the truths of God’s holy Word in the minds of the children, not knowing how soon I might be called away from my work to rest in the grave in Mount Hope Cemetery beside my husband. I have done my work for your children, that they should keep eternity in view and live for the future, immortal life. 6LtMs, Lt 81, 1889, par. 4

When you wrote to your children in my absence to make no engagements, without the slightest reference to me, without consulting with me all these years, I unhesitatingly say it was not a correct course of action on your part. Did you expect [that] these children in my absence would throw themselves into your hands, when you were a comparative stranger to them, and separate their interest from me, who had taken care of them all these years, as though I should have no voice whatever in their future course of action? There had not returns been made to me from the children during the years of their minority, because I had nothing in writing to secure them to me until they were of age. 6LtMs, Lt 81, 1889, par. 5

Then I determined to exercise my own judgment and give these children a practical education, that if they were separated from me they would have the solid branches of education in science and in practical life. The want in this age is not so much a classical education or Greek scholarship as it is for a thorough knowledge of the duties so essential in practical life, for good health, morals, and self-government, and to determine what is truth by the cultivation of a constant reverence for the God of truth and His holy Word and by an earnest searching of the Scriptures. 6LtMs, Lt 81, 1889, par. 6

You accuse me of weaning the affection of your children from you. I did not make it in my line to dwell largely upon your virtues, and said nothing of your mistakes. There was nothing particularly noble and grand in character that I could present before the children for them to admire and imitate. I could not testify to falsehood. I simply repeated to them the expressed desire of yourself that they should become intelligent in school education, but above everything else know the science of housekeeping. This I repeated to them often and told them how surprised their father would be to find them at an early age able to make good bread and cook a good meal all themselves. Could I clothe you with all the moral acquirements and perfection of character as a pattern man, Mr. Walling, when I had not the knowledge that you were thus? For years we knew not where you were or what you were doing. But I deny the charges you have made that I alienated your children from you, for I surely did nothing of the kind. I said nothing of your mistakes and errors. 6LtMs, Lt 81, 1889, par. 7

You came to your children as a stranger. Then why did you not seek to present yourself as a father before your children, to make the best impression on their minds—first by your exterior, as this has influence to testify for our against the whole man, then to forebear criticism of the one who had been mother and father and bank to your children during the larger share of their lifetime? Your threatenings—what was in your power to do to hurt their Aunt Ellen if they did not comply with your request—was not calculated to inspire your children with the most profound reverence for their father. Inducements and threats were the weapons freely used to compel your children to do as you wished—to govern your children. 6LtMs, Lt 81, 1889, par. 8

The first rule to learn in government is to govern self. The educator must be a constant learner. Gain the confidence of children and youth and they can be managed easily. A birch rod or rattan held over their heads for any misdemeanor will intimidate but not reform or create genuine love. This is human nature. Constant censure and criminating, unjustly or justly, will never create love. 6LtMs, Lt 81, 1889, par. 9

If Mr. Walling had pursued a different course himself, his children would have entertained the same feelings they had ever cherished for him. The children have a high sense of decorum and nothing can embitter them so quickly as tantalizing them or finding fault with those whom they have every reason to respect and love, in whom they have had confidence. The father could not treat his children as he would have done twelve years ago. Though he had not cared for or heard from them for ten years, he commenced to lay his commands upon them to obey him in every respect as their father, to do exactly what he required of them as though they had no will or conscience of their own. Was there no possibility of his mingling injustice and wrong with his requirements? The children would not submit to this. If the children’s affections are alienated, he himself has done this. I have had no part nor lot in this matter. 6LtMs, Lt 81, 1889, par. 10