The Broken Heart That Would Not Give Up

At the risk of making fun of someone who is long gone from this world, I’m publishing a letter from a lovelorn soul to Aunt Tillie, whom you’ve met before in “Mending the Heart“, “Dating, Nineteenth Century Style“,  and “Looking Through the Past into the Future“.  (Tillie had been widowed about 10 years before and had a son of about 11 or 12.)

The poor letter-writer has been spurned by she whom he imagined would be his wife, and there are a lot of letters between them on the subject .  Aunt Tillie remains firm, however, as you will see in future posts, and Mr. Daniel simply does not give up.

Matilda Norman Cavitt in about 1890

Aunt Tillie Cavitt in about 1890

photograph from Willyerd in Bryan, Texas

Following is the text of the letter:

Bryan, December 3, 1886

Dear Mrs. Cavitt,

I have just received your letter- so kind, and hence so characteristic of yourself.  That I appreciate its spirit, I know you are well aware, without my pausing to give you the assurance:  and yet its closing words enter my life, like the Sound of a Death Knell.

The very first indulgence of hope, on my part, now seems the height of folly; for how could I expect, under all the circumstances, that you would be disposed to enter into any nearer, and dearer relations with myself than those which your letter suggest?

True, my hopes had overleaped the thought of a disparity of our ages; under the suggestion that wedded happiness is, at least, more a matter of congenial natures than equality of ages: and particularly so, when the parties are influenced by those higher Spiritual motives, that hold in first consideration the Glory of God, through their mutual help, in His service.  And when I thought of Your many precious gifts in this respect; and my own great need of another life in full Sympathy and accord, with my own, I could but feel that we would make each other happy, as together we entered the bright and beautiful fields of Christian usefulness, which, it seems to me, the Lord is but beginning to open before us in the great State of Texas.

In addition to this, I had Sought the Divine direction, with all my heart!  And in humble trust in the guidance of Him, on Whom I had always depended:  and feeling the desire for your companionship is caused, rather than suppressed by what I conceived to be the infusion of His Spirit (oh! was I mistaken!)  I sought an opportunity, under the Sanctions of duty, as well as uncontrollable feelings, to give expression to Sentiments that Seemed a part of life itself.  But you find it impossible to reciprocate them; and their expression has pained you deeply; for doubtless your generous nature has Suffered intensely, under the question as how but to maintain your own position, and, at the same time, amid giving pain to another-.  The whole tone of your letter indicates this; and Oh: the thought of your distress, is not the least of the elements of bitterness, that mingle in the cup, that the hand of Mystery places to my lips!

I will not give you additional pain by a recital of my own Sufferings in the past, or by depicting the gloom of the outlook of the future- patiently, and submissively will I seek the Grace of my Father in Heaven, and endeavor to accept the Mission of Suffering which His Wisdom ordains.

I cannot express to you my estimate of the kind offer of your personal friendship; and while I accept this boon (To me, so precious!)  I will endeavor to prove myself worthy of it, by observing the restraints that your wishes require.  How much I regret, now, that I have ever ventured beyond these boundaries!  And yet, I cannot regret a Sentiment that, I feel, has ennobled me; now repress a feeling of gratitude, that I am even capable of loving the virtues you impersonate.  I only regret that I have not loved them in Silence, and truly Saved you the pain which has followed their expression.  And now, I will not tax you further with this painful Subject; but how shall I write the final word?  The word that must Seal my heart and my lips forever?  And, yet, your Slightest wish is law in this case, and so it must be written.  And what Shall it be?  – God bless you!!

Truly and Sincerely Your Friend,

T. J. Daniel

I will admit that Mom and I could not stop laughing at how Mr. Daniel went on and on, way past when he should have stopped.  But, which one of us has not done the same thing at one time or another?

Dec 3, 1886 letter to Tillie Cavitt from T. J. Daniel

Last page of letter from Mr. T. J. Daniel