Saturday, October 8, 2016

Mary Louisa Mitchell Binckley to John Milton Binckley, March 3, 1865

[Mary Louisa Mitchell/Michel Binckley at Eastville, Virginia, to John Milton Binckley at Washington City, March 3, 1865].

Your sad, sad letter, my dearie, came to me this evening and I cannot -- words cannot tell the depth of pitying tenderness -- the love unutterable with which my heart yearned over my lonely, desolate darling.

Your lot is so much harder than mine! My separation is softened. I have our parents and our children around me, and cheerful healthful work, but you, alone and such wearisome dispiriting labor, and more than all "our sorrow" we cannot bear together.

Oh Milton I echo the wail that came up from the innermost depths of your heart. I am resigned, I bear my grief, but grieve I must. Years can never bring any more comfort than I have now. 

They tell me this child would win me from my longing for the lost one. But "these baby fingers waxen touches" can never "Press his rival down." As long as my heart beats, Her corner in it will break and throb. You remember in Baltimore you said you would see her just as she was. Read & keep the enclosed verses. I picked them out of a torn paper.

Milton, are you quite well? your expression, "My energies flag, and hour after hour goes by without doing anything" disturbed me, If I only had you away from that brain work, late hours, long times of despondency. Indeed you must give it up before the hot weather comes. Your health is more precious than any money you could make. 

If the Good Lord will only prosper me in the work of my hands your debts will be paid, and then you can leave that dreadful city.

You say not a word about coming down soon -- have you no idea of it? You say if I want more money I must let you know before the 8th of March, and I hung thereon a slender hope that you might be coming. 

About money. I wrote you the other day giving a list of expenditures so far. Have yet to buy corn fodder, and cow, and pigs, have almost as many fowls as I want, hope to raise 40 turkeys by next fall.

I have just called Mother in and we have held a council of war and decided we will get along with the money now in hand and consequently not call on you for more. We have enough for what has to be bought here at once. As to guano, that will not be needed until April ans as there is a good deal of stable manure here, and 3 barrels of hen manure which we brought from Markon, I may be able to save some of this guano to begin the cotton.

I hope as gold has fallen the price of guano will also. By-the-way, if cotton continues to fall, do you still wish a large crop put in? In your present position you can form a pretty good guess as to its future price.

The weather is very trying. Such continual rain, but must practice patience, tho' when I think how much depends on the potatoe [sic] crop, I can scarcely have patience.

But, my dearie, your admonition will not be forgotten, in little matters of daily life I must be "Faithful to my Faith."

Good night, my absent one, May the Divine Peace and Comfort be with you. And remember you believe and know that Time is short, and soon we will hold in fond embrace Our Angel.

Your Wife 

[p.s.] Your mother is pretty well again. All send love. Nellie says "give papa my kisses, & tell him I sit in my own little rocking-chair and hold little brother in my arms and rock and sing him to sleep." And she does it really beautifully.

[p.p.s.] I send you a copy of a little paper just started here. Suppose you Exchange with the Editor just for fun it would charm him.  Mother is very thankful for the paper with Uncle Joe's report.

[p.p.p.s.] Did I tell you Dr. Yerby was dead? [I]t is a very sickly winter here. Have you seen Helen lately? Why don't she write?

[Poetry in fourth paragraph: "Locksley Hall" (1835, 1842), Alfred Tennyson (1809-1892)
John Milton Binckley (1821-1878)
Mary Louisa Mitchell/Michel Binckley (1838-1930)
Parents = Harvey Mitchell/Michel (1799-1866) and Jane Mary Wood Mitchell/Michel (1811-1892) and Charlotte Stocker/Charlotta Stoker Binckley (1788-1877)
Harvey Mitchell Binckley (1864-1928)
Nellie = Nella Fontaine Binckley (1860-1951)
Our Sorrow/Our Angel = Rosalie Binckley (October 1862-June 15, 1864)]

Original manuscript in the John Milton Binckley Papers, 1816-1943. Library of Congress Manuscript Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA. This is my rough transcription. 

Many thanks to William Myers for sending scanned copies of the documents from the Binckley papers, and also to Mary Davy and Sally Young for their assistance.  

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