The Fannie Bolton Story


Letter 115, 1895, entire letter. (To Fannie Bolton, November 26, 1895.)

I cannot leave without saying a few words to you. You have let impulse and feeling be your master, else you could not have done as you have done while you have been connected with me. There is a very objectionable feature in your character, which is leading you, controlling you. It is the attainment of desired objects. Your estimate of yourself, if kept within proper bounds, is right. We as human beings are to estimate our abilities, our faculties, as the gift of God, to be kept, cherished, and appreciated because they are the gift of God, and to be kept pure and holy to be devoted to God. 2 Timothy 2:20, 22. FBS 51.3

I have had an interview with Willie. He says you told him that I had not stated things as they were told to me by you. Fannie, shall I come to the conclusion that no dependence can be placed in what you say? I have stated matters just as you stated them to me. I did not exaggerate, because that is not one of my faults. But you have been deceived by the enemy; you are deceived and are deceiving others. You made the statement to me that you prayed that if it was right for you to have Caldwell that his wife might obtain a divorce. When you heard that she had obtained a divorce you said, “I feel the Lord has heard my prayer, do not you think so, Sister White?” FBS 51.4

After you left I looked upon this matter with such feelings as are not easily described. The matter as it stands is a shock to me. You yourself have told your love story to Maggie Hare and to Sister Rousseau and to Sister Prescott. These I have talked with because it was my duty to do so. Your case is peculiar. I have had so many warnings—you making your statements that were not true that there was no attachment between you and Caldwell. He admitted he had thought a good deal of Fannie, but gave me to understand there was not anything of attachment between you. This has been going on since you and he worked in Willie’s office. FBS 51.5

Fannie, what do you say? You have now made the matter plain and asked my advice. You could but understand what that advice would be. You thought that he and you would be married and both take hold of my work. I told you this could never be. FBS 51.6

When I put the case of Walter Harper in your hand to copy, but felt as if an arm was stretched between you and me, I did not understand what it meant, but I do now. I could not harmonize your statements of nothing existing between you and Caldwell, and the light which the Lord was giving me. I must take the word of God, and I had no harmony with you. FBS 52.1

Harper’s case is not a parallel. Both cases have been presented to me at different times. Harper felt love, deep love, for his wife, and he has done everything a mortal man could do to save a divorce, for said he, “She will lose her soul.” He spent any amount of money on her. He tried to persuade her, but to no account. And she finally sent for him to visit her, and he was warned to be on guard. She locked the door on him and commenced to solicit a sum of money, and he knew she had an accomplice waiting by. He felt now was his time to need the Lord. He watched his opportunity and suddenly escaped—just how I do not remember—but she told him there was no escape for him. I think this was his last effort made in her behalf. He may have tried once more. I advised him, when she tried to get a divorce because of desertion, not to appear, for in no way could God be glorified by the statements coming into court. There was nothing like lust in the case, for he had not physical ability, so it was not in any way a comparison with your case, or with Caldwell’s. FBS 52.2

I have told you and him that he could not be released from his accountability until he should seek to do all in his power to be reconciled with his wife. He has left a stain on the cause of God in leaving her and his children. It was not she who left him, but he who left her. How strong must have been the temptation to a woman whom he married under promise he would give up the Sabbath if she would marry him and he did this until he was so thoroughly unhappy he commenced to keep the Sabbath again. But his power of endurance was small, and because his wife resisted the influences of the truth, he could not bear this. He can be quite unkind if those connected with him do not conform to his wishes. Although her course was trying and at times provoking, she might have been won to the truth if he had always been circumspect, keeping himself reserved as a married man, and had given her evidences that he did truly love her as his wife, for whom he at one point sold the truth to obtain her hand. All these things did not work favorably in her mind. When she opposed his going from home when he came to this country he heeded not, but left his two children and his wife. Had he been patient, had he stopped his criticisms and talked with her as a man should who respects his wife, she would have been won to the truth. She was convinced again and again, and was on the point of yielding, when some circumstances in his life, some words spoken, some disposition to be arbitrary and commanding, would surge over her and she would resist the striving of the Spirit of God. This domineering made her hard and cold and unlovely. FBS 52.3

I have spoken to Caldwell in regard to his freedom of deportment in company with young women and girls. If the wife does not remark and speak of these things it is because she is too proud to do it. Whatever were his trials, his grievances, if he understood the true inwardness of the matter, he would see how many times he has been the aggressor; but he does not charge these things to his own account which heaven charges to his account. The Lord has a controversy with Brother Caldwell. His love of self, his love of self-gratification, and his determination to have his own way, have made him unreasonable, overbearing, dictatorial. His practice of overeating has taxed his digestive organs, distended his stomach, and taxed nature to endure a burden that has reacted upon the brain, and his memory is weakened. He has the qualities of mind that if under the influence of the Holy Spirit would place him in altogether a different light than that in which he now stands. FBS 52.4

Passion makes him forget himself, and he will punish dumb animals that do not do just as he wished them to do, when it was the man who needed to be punished. Until he can see his past in a different light, he will be imperfect in character. FBS 53.1

He and you have evidenced your opinion of your own judgment—that it was more reliable than Sister White’s. Did you consider that Sister White has been dealing with just such cases during her life of service for the Master, that cases similar to your own and many varieties of cases have passed before her that should make her know what is right and what is wrong in these things? Is a judgment that has been under the training of God for more than fifty years of no preference to those who have not had this discipline and education? Please consider these things. FBS 53.2