Sunday, February 3, 2013

1863 January 28 Dingledale

                                               Dingledale, Wednesday Eve
                                                               January 28th 1863
My Dear Cousin Minnie
                                    Excuse this, you may term it, pro-
cipitate reply.  Your eagerly looked for but dilatory
letter reached me this morning and now int he quiet
nocturnal hours I seat myself to communicated with my
much loved cousin. You tell me to write you a long letter-
this precaution was unnecessary and you admitted it
by using the term "usually."  But, my cousin, why did you
not add force to the injunction by setting the example by
writing me a long letter?  Ah! I fear that you adhere too
strictly to the "lex talionis" -- that you are too exact in meting
out the same measurement meted to you.  do I accuse
wrongfully?  If so, I sincerely beg pardon. and may you prove
eloquently prove the accusation false by writing me lengthy
letters on every occasion without reference to the size of min.
Now, my good cousin, I intend that the present epistle shall
stand clear of the charge of brevity for three distinct reasons-
1stly - because it is your request that it be lengthy - 2ndly -
because it is my desire to engage in a protracted epistolary
chat with you, and 3rdly - because I hope a long letter will
elicit one equally as long from you. -- Disappoint me
not, - I pray you. --
   It is said that bashful lovers generally preface
their conversation by trite remarks on the weather - and
as this seems to be the universal & never-failing theme

[page 2]
on all occasions, I feel myself justified in resor
ting to it in the present instance by way of intro-
duction. The skies, the whole day long, have been sifting
upon us its fleecy product and the whole earth is now
covered with a wide "above expanse of vicious matter."
Were it not that the snow melts almost as soon as it falls
it would equal in depth the snow of last week. -
We had begun to think until quite recently that the
power of the wintry monarch was broken for the present
season but he is now teaching us a different lesson-
I, at this moment, hear  his emissary, the winds, whistling
around the house & sighing through every aperture, and
they seem to say that the ice-crown'd despot will rule with
relentless rigor until the gentle wooings of Spring will lure
him from his throne. -- Ah! this is the poetry of the stern
monarch's sway - to sit by the cosy[sic]  fireside and listen
to the howling blasts as they sweep past your door - but
you have met with a chapter or two of bitter prose during
the last week - and so have I. - I am not particularly anxious
to turn over those frosty leaves again. -
  Since you were so kind as to give me an outline nar-
rative of your journey I will also do the same.  And
if I am a little more minute than you, do not think
I am so, to weary you. - I could have wished that you had
dealt more profusely in particulars.  To begin "ab initio"
where you left me penning those lines at a friend in
Drapers Valley. - I took up my lonely journey - (how much
more pleasant would it have been with a congenial compan-
ion) in the morning - reached Wytheville at noon - saw

[page 3]
Bill a few moments - and at night drew rein before
the door of Rev Hawkins' hospitable house.  Tim was not
at home, but I was most agreeably entertained by the old
folks and especially the young ladies.  Indeed, one of
them made quite an impression on me, whereof, so strange
is the human heart, serious consequences may ensure. -
That man's heart, like the [miser's?] of Horace, is encased in
a shield of triple brass which is proof against the charms
of a beautiful woman!  On the morrow, a short drive
brought me to the door of Br. Mann's school house. -
His school was not yet "let out" - and I spent the interval
in seeing how he practiced the pedagogue's art.  You may
well imagine his surprise at seeing me for he had recd.
no intimations of m coming. - I found him surrounded
by about twenty five scholars off all sorts & sizes - among
which were several misses in their teens. - As this is the
school you are to take when Bro. M's term expires it would
be well for me to give a minute description but I shall
reserve this for a future task. - At present, go with us
home to M's boarding house and enjoy the kind hospitality
of its inmates.  Friday, the day on which you set out on your
travels, witnessed the furious clashing of the elements. -
Although I had intended in my proposed programme
to start homeward to-day - I was dissuaded from the under
taking by my friend & host, as well as by the storm which
represented to me in plain terms, if I did not wish to freeze,
I had better remain within doors. -- I took the advice, went
with my friend to his school room in the morning - where
we remained till noon-  he dismissed his school after a

[page 4]
brilliant display of declamational oratory by the
urchins and we returned home to spend the evening
by the fireside in discussing "auld Lang syne" and
in - what do you think? - making matches - do not
mistake me now, - I mean Lucifer not matrimonial
(what a contrast in the two words) matches. - You
need not be surprised to see Bro. M. coming round some
of these days with a peddler's pack on his back and
crying "matches for sale, matches for sale" a box for a dollar,
come and buy!"  But after witnessing his experiments in
the match=making line - I concluded that he had better
relinquish the art, satisfied that his abilities were better
displayed in giving the finishing stroke to matches which
ad passed through their incipient stages under the manage-
ment of other hands.  by the way, I suppose you noticed
an example of his handiwork in the "Lutheran" of last week -
Saturday was one of the bitterest days of the year.  It required
little persuasion to cause me to defer my return trip a
while longer. - did you not suffer travelling on that day-
I was much surprised when I learned that you had decided
to brave the storm on Friday - but on comparing notes with
the folks here I conclude that there were several degrees dif-
ference in the temperature between the sheltered valley of the Roanoke
and the airy summits of Smythe during those two days.
We (he and I) mounted our horses in the morning, cold as
it was, and made a circuit of a small scope of country -
passed by one of his new churches, an neat edifice, con-
trasting strangely with the antique structure close by, erected
in the times of Father Flohr the pioneer of Lutheranism

[page 5]
in Western Va.  I could not resist the inclination
to enter the old building and mounting the pulpit
clinging like a swallow's nest to the wall midway between
the ceiling and floor. -- a thousand fancies came rushing
into my mind during the brief period I stood there, where
the impassioned eloquence of the venerable Flohr had oft
held enchained the rapt attention of his audience, the
ancestors of the young race which now worships in the new
church - under the ministering of the "young preacher".-
We dined with one of Bro. M's parishioners.  After enjoying
the hospitable cheer of the farmer's board and an hour's
pleasant chat with the young ladies (one of whom is con
sidered quite handsome) by a blazing log fire, we went home,
and started that evening for Mr M's former boarding house
in the vicinity of which he is to preach tomorrow.  We suffered
considerably on the way, it being intensely cold, but a roaring
fire soon brought vitality to our numbed limbs.-
On the next day I had the second opportunity of ever listening to Bro. M.
in the pulpit - According to previous notice he gave his
hearers a sermon on "Extortion", the theme of the times, and
one which has been so much handled and battened about
that it has lost all novelty.  M. treated his subject well
and probably rendered the consciences of some of his hearers less
obdurate than before. - After services he read extracts from
the editorial in the "Lutheran" relative to its finances which
was responded to by the presentation of eleven subscriber's
names. - Were all the other congregations in the church south

[page 6]
to do as well, the Editors would not have to resort to the
mortifying necessity of suspending operations.  I sincerely
hope this will not be the case.  What is the "Lutheran's" circulation
in Augusta?  Can you not contribute your mite of influence
to its support there?  Before I leave Mr M. I must tell you that he
made me the bearer of his love to you, - now, do not prize it too highly or I will become

^ Sunday ever after church I proceeded on my journey
jealous. -
as far as Mr Hawkin's. Of course I could not pass by this
place. Tim was at home this time.  After a repetition of the
same kindnesses I had recd. before, and, perhaps, the impression
above referred to being deepened somewhat, I bid adieu and
Tim & I drove to Wytheville together. - Here I tarried till the
next day (Thursday). - I took tea with my friend Dr Will and
spent the evening with Bell -- Here I must tell you of a sin-
gular phenomenon which was made apparent in College a
few days before I got there.  It was a strange & unaccount-
able knocking or ticking which was heard regularly every
morning & evening in a post of one of the beds - a singular
place for a spirit to lodge itself. The girls who occupied
the bed first discovered it Thursday morning before day.-
They in the commenced asking it questions & were surprised
to find that it beat "rapped" regularly in response. - they became a-
larmed and called in Mr Roedel, but it was silent in his
presence. - Nothing could induce it to continue its rappings
whilst he was about.  I went in to satisfy myself on the sub-
ject, but failed to do so. - Mr Roedel things it may be at-
tributed to mesmeric influence - but the examination was so un-
satisfactory to me that I am unable to form an opinion in
regard to it.  I have heard nothing of it since I left.
I assure it has disturbed my dreams very little since I heard of it.

[page 7]
Tuesday, you remember well, and so do I. I have it marked
in my almanac - "weather indescribable combination of rain,
sleet,snow & storms" - It was decidedly one of the most un-
comfortable days I ever experienced.  The storm came full
in my face all day - as the sailors say I had "the wind in my
teeth" - and I know I had plenty of sleet & snow in my face
I think you did perfectly right in keeping close within -
doors on that day.
   A journey of two more days through the clogging snow
brought me home. - Upon arriving home I found  Pernia
quite unwell - she was suffering considerably with her throat
She is now nearly well. -- There is a great deal of sickness
around here, especially amongst the soldiers.  The Court House &
Town Hall are crowded with the sick. I learned that the re were three
dead this morning and that several more were doubtful of recovery.
We have a soldier with us very low - He has the fever & his case I fear is
a hopeless one. - He is from one of the North Western counties & has a
wife & several children.  How distressing is it to see a man called
away under these circumstances. - Old Mrs Chapman left this world
on last Sunday after having suffered a great deal in it for a number
of years. --Capt Porter, Mr Grigsby's father-in-law - died last week
His funeral was preached by Dr Bittle on Sunday last.
Mr Utz, the recent purchaser of "Waverly" died suddenly last night
Truly these afflictions admonish us to have our lamps trimmed
and burning - for we know not who will be the next victim
to the insatiable archer. --How blessed is the consolation of those
who love Christ - that though they may be separated on earth - though
one may be taken and the other left - there is the ever-abiding belief
that the good will meet & recognize each other in heaven. -- This
I believe will be one of the chief ingredients in the cup of heavenly joy
Though there are some who doubt whether there is any such thing
as recognition of friends in heaven, I cannot & would not believe
otherwise & I think the doctrine is taught int he Scriptures -
It surely heightens our conceptions of heavenly bliss - and were it
removed from our creed, Faith would lose one of its strongest props

[page 8]
                                       on the subject
I have a beautiful scrap of poetry ^ which I clipped
from a newspaper not long since. -- I enclose it for your
perusal - asking your sentiments on the subject--
      My brother David is sick in Richmond
and my father expects to start for him tomorrow
It is thought another battle will shortly occur near Fred-
ericksburg. --I hope our battling days are nearly over -
and we shall no longer be disturbed by rumors of an ap-
roaching battle. --
      Well "Cousin Minnie", have you made the
acquaintance of "Sister Minnie."? - If so , how do you like
her? - I am now being very much entertained by a pe-
rusal of Abbott's "Napoleon Bonaparte". - I borrowed the
work form the W.F.C. Library.
      I shall to-night read the tenth chapter of Luke.
Am I keeping pace with you?  Do you in pursuing these
readings - send a thought after him who sometimes, perhaps,
may scan the same lines at the same moment with yourself,
and breathe a prayer for his welfare?  I do not think it
wrong thus to aid in building each other up in the most
holy faith. Verily, we poor, feeble mortals need every extraneous
help we can find to assist us in ascending the mountains
of Beulah. - When I am conscious of having in my be-
half the prayers of a fervent, righteous believer, I feel strength
ened for the conflict.-
  I have now verified my intention of writing a long
letter - I have tried to interest you and render myself deser-
ving of a reply equally as long. - and I know that when
I throw myself on your benevolence I shall be rewarded,
Write very soon & you will render me happy---
                                  Yours Affectionately

[in top margin of page 5]
You did not give me your first impressions of the Stone neighborhood - How do you
like Lizzie & Sue? - your partiality to [Joe?] I already know.  did you observe the school -
room which for one winter was the theater of my operations? And what think you of the natural
scenery of "Stone"?  And what did cousin Annie have to say? I know she was surprised to see
you. When does she speak of visiting Roanoke again? - She is one of my girls.--

[underlining in pencil at a later date]

William McCauley "Porte" ,, Co. E. 42nd Virginia "Dixie Greys" to his future wife Margaret Jane "Cousin Minnie"

MSS 14953

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