Letter from Stockton Strawbridge to George S. Ledyard, 1855

This is a  letter from Stockton Strawbridge Strawbridge, written to George Strawbridge Ledyard, a son of Jane Strawbridge Ledyard, and a first cousin of Stockton. George lived from 1825 to 1890. This letter was sent to me by cousin Theckla Ledyard from Cazenovia, New York. The letter mentions the death of George’s mother (Stockton’s aunt), Jane Strawbridge Ledyard, who died in February 1855. Here is the letter, transcribed from a copy of the handwritten original:

31 Oct. 1855

Dear George:

Your very welcome letter of 31 July came to hand 1 Sept.. I wrote Lincklaen by Steamer of 20 Sept. (I think) and have waited till now to acknowledge your’s, and to thank you for the acceptable present of the Meerschaum pipe. I have tried it several times, but not being able to find Tobacco good enough to smoke in it, have cleaned it up and laid it away in my trunk, contenting myself with the common clay pipe. In fact I am afraid of spoiling your pretty gift.

Thank you, my dear Cousin, for your kind expressions of regard, to which I most cordially respond, and assure you I am as desirous as you can be to keep up the Cazenovia correspondence, which was for so many years the source of such pure gratification. I shall consider the letters of yourself and Lincklaen as favors tho’ I can promise but little in return.

The event which we all deplore tho’ to your dear Mother one of unspeakable gain, is to be always remembered with sadness. Time, in bringing fresh sources of grief and trouble, enables us to bear with a resignation we once thought impossible, the deep affliction caused by the decease of friends — we will love to dwell on her excellence — to remember her goodness and kindness to all — the interest she manifested in the welfare of her friends. It was, I think, a prominent feature in her character, that she was so entirely free from selfishness — that unamicable defect which is so widespread, yet so unsuspected by those who most display it. As a daughter, I am old enough to remember her untiring devotion to her mother — for months a helpless invalid. After death had closed this scene and she became an inmate of her brother’s family, she exhibited the same affectionate interest in it — her nephews and nieces will never forget her tender care.

Her after life, as wife, mother and friend presents the same beautiful picture of fulfilment in all the relations of life, and now, “with every earthly duty done,” she has gone to her everlasting rest. She passed many happy years in the bosom of her family — every thing around her the object of her fostering care — seeing her children, in whom she justly took so much pride, all settled happily near her, and repaying her love and care by the most devoted attention. In her letters to me she often expressed her grateful sense of the many blessings granted to her — that her lines had fallen in pleasant places. It would be wrong to say there are few such women — the world has very many like her — more than we can know, for they look for happiness in their own homes, and find it in the performance of their domestic duties and the cultivation of social interests and affections, avoiding with contempt the glitter and display of fashionable life. Her tastes were of the most refined order — these united to a cultivated intellect and an unerring judgment, were the source of much happiness in embellishing the home she loved so well. You will do right, my dear George, in preserving the pretty grounds about the home, as far as possible, in the situation they were when her eyes closed on them for ever. Keep all unchanged — the impress of Time will produce alterations, but constant care and watchfulness may prevent these from being very apparent. You will all be happier for so doing.

As I write I cannot but feel how inadequate language is, at times, to expression. I seem to have collected a mere jumble of words. I am unable to convey the deep sense I have, and ever shall cherish, of her kindness to me — her steady unwavering affection. I had been so accustomed to think and speak of my dear “Aunt Jane,” that when the sad news came I felt as if entirely alone and abandoned in the world with nothing to hope or care for. But her children are left as objects of my warm regard, and that I may have opportunities to serve them is my earnest desire. It will indeed be a pleasure to me to contribute in any way to their welfare and happiness.

I am sorry to see by a letter, this mail, from my sister Anne, that your Father’s health is not reestablished, and that he had gone to some springs to try their efficacy. These little trips are all very well, but do you not think a long journey — a total change of scene — would be the best thing for him? There can be nothing in the way of business now to hinder him, and Lincklaen could attend to every thing as well as he could himself. I really do think that if he and Cousin Helen were to take five or six months for a trip to Europe, it would be of the greatest service to them. But I suppose he would laugh at the suggestion. Jack is, I believe, now fairly launched into employment with I. Dorrs Co. I have not seen either ——– or him for some days. Mr. Remsden is still here — talking of going “up the country,” I suspect not very well off for funds. He showed me a letter lately received from Miss Sophia M.

Tell Linkclaen I have had the pleasure of reading his contribution to Putnam — his review of Miss Cooper’s book. The article strongly reminded me of one on “Selby’s Ornithology” in Blackur which I read years ago — but I would like to put in a word for “the clumsy thrush” as he calls our Robin. He was always an object of my boyish admiration, and have often watched him darting among the cedar bushes and feeding on their berries. I must enter a modest protest against the word clumsy. If L. is in the habit of writing regularly for the Magazines or is only “an occasional contributor,” I should like [to] know on whom he bestows his literary favors, that I might procure the Magazine. Please “make a note” of this request.

I am sorry your factory operations make out so poorly. You must, first and last, have lost a good deal of money. If you could get out of it square, I would recommend your trying something else. I hope Denise is making the farm profitable. You do not mention what reception you had from the English Ledyards. The John Bulls are generally not a very hospitable people. I wish I could “claim kindred” with some of those rich old Yeomen in “the Midland counties,” we have heard of, “warm men, sir, warm men!” but our stock is Irish — and guineas are scarcer than bog-water in Ireland. There is no prettier coin than the sovereign — far beyond our Spread Eagle. A few thousand of the former would be very acceptable in these hard times. I have but room to send my kind regards to all the family and subscribe myself

Most truly Your friend S.S.

4th Nov. By last mail I sent Lincklaen the Oct. No. of “The Pioneer” containing an article — “The Mother of Ledyard,” which may interest you all — By this steamer I send L. the Nov. No. I have not had time to read it — there is a “geological” article, Plutonic Rocks, which is all in his line of study. — S.S.