United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865; Bruen, Luther Barnett--Correspondence
Nokesville Va. April 26 64 My Dear Daughter: I am going to write you another letter today; it will perhaps be a long time before I can write you again, and it may be that this will be the last you shall even receive from me. This might, indeed, be said of every letter one writes, but we do not often write so strong a probability of soon being in very dangerous places. I hope therefore you will think the more of the letter, and any advice it may contain. If I should live to see you grown up, I would be very glad to believe you to be one of the best girls i ever saw; but- if I should not, I hope you will always have some one who will feel toward you as I do, and that you never cease trying to become what I will you to be. Few persons have so good a mother as you have, and if you should live to be a hundred years old, it would never cease to be a great comfort to you to remember that you always loved her dearly, and showed your love by always trying to please her, never willfully offending or disobeying her. If you earnestly try to please her you will never be disobedient, but will always try to do not only what she commands but what she wished you to do. I think I suggested in one of my letters that you should ask yourself, where on the point of doing anything about which you feel doubtful, whether mother would like you to do it. If you think she would not, then you may be very certain that it will be best for you not to do it. She is thinking all the time how she can best promote your real happiness, and when she attempts to restrain you, you must accustom yourself to acknowledge within your own mind that she is right and submit yourself without *murmuringt* to her greater wisdom and fuller experience. When once you acquire the habit of doing this, you will get along very smoothly and happily with her, and home will become so pleasant, that you will not care to leave it and will always be very glad to go back to it. Of one thing you are quite certain, that is, that quarreling with your little brothers is very much disliked by mother, and at the same time myself and to yourself and every one who sees it. One thing which you have to learn then is to play with them without quarreling. They are younger than you and they sometimes will be rude and uncomfortable but you do not need matter by getting angry and fighting with them. If you never suffer yourself to get out of temper, or at least to show it, you will find that it will not be so difficult to get along with them, for I do not think either has a bad disposition, atho' like yourself they are passionate and headstrong and often do what they should not. It is the pleasant thing in the world to see a little family of children living together without quarreling or fighting. It is not so common as it should be, but it would make me very happy to known that I had one of that kind. Now, you are the oldest, and I shall expect you to take the lead in making it such. Your example will have a great influence on Frank and Bobby and Mary and I want that example to be an excellent one. Will you try to please your mother and me, by setting them such an example? The tongue is called an unruly member and too often is rightly so called. It is so easy to say ugly and bitter things which wound the feelings and so difficult to find other words to heal the wounds they have made. Try to remember this, and check yourself when about to say anything for the purpose of making another feel bad. Home above all is the place where such things should never be said, and if you are careful not to say them there, you will soon lose the inclination to say them anywhere. Some persons are foolish enough to think it smart to make ugly speech, but generally fail to see the smartness when the words are spoken or thoughtless. When you feel tempted to make them, remember that your father will not be pleased, if you do, that you would feel bad if others would make them to you, and try to subdue the spirit that prompts them. You will think much better of yourself when you have thoughts, subdued it, and will be saved many painful reflections and unavailing regrets. My letter is growing too long, but I hope my dear the time may not soon come when you will wish it were still longer, and that you will never have cause to reproach yourself for disregarding the kind advice, I have given you in those letters. They were written in the hopes that they might help my dear little girl in her effort to become a good and noble woman and I trust that they will not altogether disappoint my hopes. Now, the last charge I give you is, always trust your mother; have no secrets from her, as long as you live; never promise not to tell her everything; never do anything which you are ashamed to tell her fully and frankly, and you will keep yourself out of much trouble and never do anything very wrong. Goodbye my dear daughter Your loving father L.B.Bruen Since I finished my letter I have gone into woods and gathered the wildflowers, which I enclosed.
Catharine Mitchill '31 Collection of Family Letters, Wellesley College Library, Special Collections