East New Market


December 1847

Anthony L. Manning, to his father, Anthony Manning

(Collection of Karen Nicholson, Arlington, VA)

Carlisle 1847

Dear Father.

Your poor motherless son is now overwhelmed with grief, writing to his dear father the only friend he has upon earth that can afford him relief; and oh it cannot be possible that you will reject your poor friendly son's appeal to call him again to your sweet embrace from under the clutches of these heart breakers.

Robt. F. Thompson persuaded, and begged, me so hard to get you to let me come along with him that I without thought for I had no mother to check me, asked your consent to let me come with him, and by that means, I was led to make the step that has utterly undone me. Robert says every thing has so changed since he was here, that he is sorry that he persuaded me to ask you to let me come with him; and he also said that he would ask his father to let him return home, but for fear his father should say he had been here before and that he knew how it would be before he went back; and thus reject him. He says he had rather die than be rejected by his father, so he now sits sobbing and sighing and afraid to ask his father to let him return. Like him, I had rather die than be rejected by you dear father; I have a heart that is now fit to sink beneath the wail of grief, and if you are so cruel as to reject my proposal dear father it must certainly sink under the additional grief you heap upon this loving heart; for it ever has, and still continues to throb with indescribable love for you my only parent that remains above the soil. Robert Thompson wrote to his father that he was in fine spirits because he did not want to let his father know that he was sorry that he came for fear it might cause him uneasiness I hate to tell you that I am discontented with my severe change of life dear father, for fear it will grieve you; but father I will not tell you a lie about the matter; yet do not grieve for me. I tell you my situation not to grieve you, but to let you my only parent know the situation in which I am placed. Do not grieve noble father, for you have it in your power to release me from this suffering state at any moment. Since I have come on here I find that instead of the grammar school being all in one class, it is divided into the 1 prep class it being the furtherest advanced, and then comes the 2 prep class it being the next furtherest advanced and the 3 prep class which is the lowest class in the grammar school let alone the college, and where do you suppose my dearest father they put me to study, why in that mean place they call the 3 prep class; and when do you suppose that I shall be able to get into college? Why in about 7 years and not before no matter how hard I study; And since that is the case that we have to go in the third prep class you are at the expense of sending me here as Doct. Edmondson said to learn that which I can be taught at home under the cares of you I love, even more dearly than myself.

We never call students here by the first part of their names, so Mr. Lelmon who is now a junior told me that he believes and indeed he is almost sure that they keep them back longer than necessary. Mr. Deuval told me the same. It is the general belief throughout the College that this is the case. A student in the preps are scarcely considered a student because they are not in College.

The preps are not treated with that degree of politeness which is due them by some of the professors: It appears to me, that I am among savages more than enlightened men.

Oh dear father you cannot imagine how your wretched son feels away from your kindness. If you was ever placed in the situation in which your miserable son is now placed; you would, knowing his situation, call him immediately under your protection without his appeal.

Dear father you saw it reported in the newspapers that McClintock the man who was concerned, or at least was reported to be concerned, in the negro riot of this place had left College, and gone to another school. But it is not true; he still continues to be one of the professors on this miserable institution. But whatever you do, do not let any of them know that I told you, for if they were to know that I let the secret slip out they would almost mob me, because persons from the south would not send their children, and indeed some that are now here would be called home on that very account. When I said do not let any of them know it; I mean do not write anything to the professors concerning him or that matter, or anything which I have written concerning the College. Dear father as I am placed in the third prep class it will be at least 7 years before I graduate even if I study until my eyes are read with pain every night. Oh dear father is it possible, can it be possible, that you son will have to endure the conquering pain of being absent from you for 7 years except at intervals of a few days, and of those far days will appear like short moments to one who loves his father, as I love you.

Shut out from you by mountain and by waves

O fear before I see you, one of us will be slumbering in the grave.

Dear father I fear it will cause you uneasiness, when I tell you that I am almost grieved to death, and what I eat is forced.  Dear father I would not tell you for fear it will cause you trouble. But I want to know your situation and I suppose you wish to know my own, and I thought it was as well to let you know it now as at a future period.  Oh my father no one can tell what I have suffered since I have left your sunshine presence, and no one can tell what shocking feelings it causes ones heart to feel unless they have experienced the like themselves, and I do assure you, but few have ever experienced such feelings as I now, and ever have experienced since I left your fatherly bosom and Heaven grant that you my dear father, will never experience the feeling for me, that I have felt for you.

Oh dear father I bear I appeal to you in vain, for is was my own fault that you sent me; and it would not have been my fault, if I had not have been over persuaded; And oh dear father do not; please do not, harden you heart against your son. He has committed an error and oh for Heavens sake please forgive me this time, and again take me within the sounding of your sweet comforting voice. Do forgive me this time dear father, and take me home to your kind fatherly advice; If you will I will vow before Heaven that I will try my utmost to learn and do whatever conduces to your happiness, and do whatever you desire me to do that is in my power with pleasure and happiness; except it is to leave you, whom I love as son scarce ever loved a parent before.

Robert F. Thompson says that he will buy that part of everything I have bought, and pay the same price that I gave for them, so you will be at but trifling cost if you will call me home now, and dear father I advise you to call me home, for if you keep me here you will be at a tremendous expense for no benefit, Because I cannot learn for thinking of my sweet home, for there is no place like home; I am telling you the truth dear father if ever I spoke it, for I have tried my utmost to study, and to forget home, or at least not to think of that sweet peace which contains you; but I have tried in vain; and instead of me getting better, it is daily, hourly, momently, and even secondly, increasing upon my poor affectionate yet almost broken heart in the extreme. Another thing dear father, is, I have not got long to stay with you, ever if I now was with you; because you are now old, and cannot expect to live by the course of nature, is one great thing why I want to be with you as long as the Lord will permit me. Oh how happy I should be if I was again permit to behold you dear father. You are now growing old and helpless, and I can never forget to pray to the living God with my little tongue, to strengthen your limbs, to relieve you of your diseases, and to extend his protecting hand over you all that I may be permitted if alive, again to behold my sweet father and friends alive. I must now pause dear father for a flood of tears must suddenly flow. I will again proceed, but dear father this piece of paper I now send has been wet in many places with my tears that flow from a fountain of grief that seem as if it would never run dry. If you do not believe this part I now write, I call on Robert and even Heaven if necessary to attest the truth of my bible (?) assertion, for I scarcely have strength enough to assert it. Oh dear father do call me home, and I will promise and adhere to my promise steadfastly, that I will if it is the will of God, ever be with, or about you tending to your wishes or wants until the grave opens to receive one or the other of us into its icy embrace. I have no dear mother to influence you in my favour, for she is now numbered with the dead, and if you reject her poor son that is now far away from you with an almost broken heart, His lip like that of his poor mother's must soon be cold, and as silent, as the solid marble, that knows no speech, that cannot speak.

Oh how oft dear father since I have been here, have I thought of my dear mother sleeping in the grave, and as I think of her, I think where should I be, if providence should snatch you from me; And as these thoughts come over me, and indeed they are nearly always over me, my cheeks are bathed in tears. Scarce one hour has passed but what my tears for you have followed it. At night there is scarce any sleep for me, but as my almost senseless head falls on the pillow, my eyes they stream with tears, and my heart it burns with almost quenchless fire. There is but one on this earth that can quench this raging fire before it destroys my loving heart, and that is you my beloved father, and as there is but one, and that is you that can extinguish this destructive fire, of course you will not hesitate to quench the fire that is about to destroy this motherless heart. Dear father, sweet father if you wish to hear of your poor son's death; you can do it by rejecting your once loving wife's son who is now sleeping in her dusty bed to wake no more. Oh if my dear Aunt Nancy was alive I know she would pleade in my favour, but she like that of my innocent mother, now lies embalmed within the tomb . Oh noble father if you object to my coming home, my eye must soon be glazed in death and my quivering lip must cease to move. Dear Father the monster death seems to be lurking in my path, and it appears to me as though I almost hear his angry growls, and see his vision beckoning me to the silent tomb. O Father what a shocking situation is this of your son's, but you cannot imagine one quarter of its horrors. You might think that I speak from the impulse of the moment; but I have been here too long for you to think that I speak and act from impulse. You must think, and indeed I speak from my situation, which ever has and continues to be my awful feelings. There is not a day which rolls its revolutionary course over my head, but what I had rather be slumbering in the grave than enduring the pains and sorrows of this gloomy situation When I was home my situation was like unto a summer's day, which was exquisitely mild and calm; the sky without a cloud, and even the green foliaged trees seemed to smile beneath the cheerful sun, But what is now my awful situation; why that day which was once mild and calm, is stormy; the sky which was without a cloud, now overspreads (?) this feeble frame with a cloud of inky blackness while the thunder peals burst forth from it with explosions that would make the most deaf to hear, and trembling sink to earth; and the green trees which seemed to smile beneath the cheerful sun, is now torn up by roots with this angry storm which heaves, and swells, the stormy sea and dashes the foaming spray almost to Heaven But there is a being who can quell this angry storm, and lull the raging son to rest. Dear Father a son whose bosom throbs with love for his dear parent that he has left behind him in the distance cannot help from being in my wretched situation an continuing to be so. Deprive him of these and you extinguish the light of his existence. The few flowers that are strewn along his path through life, would disappear; and that agreeable variety, "the spice of life" which is found only in the society of his father and friends, would no where greet him. He finds nothing here to awaken pleasant emotions and impart vigor to his sinking frame. All is cold, gloomy, and comfortless. Those affections which are the life of his soul, lie dormant. It may be and indeed it is, that I am torn from those with whom I have been linked together by the chain of nature, and the chain of fatherly affection, and thrown among persons, with whom I have no common sympathy.