This letter was written by Elizabeth Anne Bronson (1812-1845) to her brother, Rev. Thomas Bronson (1808-1851). They were the children of Bennett Bronson (1775-1850) and Anna Smith (1764-1819). Thomas married Cynthia Elizabeth Bartlett (1815-1846) in February 1839.
Rev. Thomas Bronson graduated from Yale College in 1829. He became a Congregational minister and a teacher. In this interesting letter, Anne consoles her brother who has apparently been recently rejected by the Deacon of the congregational society in Bloomfield, Connecticut, from further consideration as their new pastor. Making matters worse, the Deacon’s reasons for not hiring Thomas include his being yet a bachelor, his diminutive stature, and a lack of intellectual achievements at the tender age of 28. Anne encourages her brother to not be discouraged by such ignorance and stupidity.
Addressed to Rev. Thomas Bronson, Hartford, Connecticut
January 27, 1836
I received your letter yesterday afternoon and would have gladly set myself down to answer it immediately had I not deemed it my duty to fulfill an engagement previously made to spend the afternoon at Mr. C. Kingbury’s. I thought much of you during the afternoon & evening, so much I think that had the company been capable of reading my thoughts they would have considered themselves highly complimented by my visit. I hoped to get home in season to make a beginning at least to a letter but the usual consequences of going into company, dissipation of mind, & weariness of body, operated to prevent. I can say of a little visiting what Solomon says of much study — that tis a weariness to the flesh. My life is so uniform, so little subject to invasions from abroad that a little deviation from its accustomed quiet is extremely exciting. Though I do not intend my attachment to the lonely sequestered vale of life shall interfere with the active duties of life, yet I must confess that it often creates a disrelish quite incompatible with making those duties my pleasures. Knowing your displeasure to be similar to mine, I think there must be a good many sacrifices of feeling before you will be able with pleasure to enter into all the duties of your profession. It is some encouragement to us that we are creatures of habit but a better source of consolation we have in the reflection that as our day is, so shall our strength be.
I regret extremely that your ministerial qualifications were not such as to satisfy the demands of Bloomfield people. I would suggest that you forthwith equip yourself with the requisite appendages, wife &c. As to adding a cubit to your stature or forming any new mental faculty, I know not as it lies in your power. I at least can suggest no mode. I can only pity your misfortune.
I cannot express, dear brother, how grateful I was to receive your letter to learn the particulars concerning you. The feeling of possessing so much of your confidence which naturally arises on reading your letter is exceedingly gratifying and I am led by it to assure after the honor of possessing it more entirely, or rather an induced to become worthy of your confidence. How prone is human nature to sigh for one in whom he can confide & yet how deficient in the effort necessary to gain that confidence, or how slow to reciprocate it when once obtained. How sacred & what a source of pure delights might the ties of consanguinity become, if instead of perverting best things to their meaner use, they were rightly improved. You may smile at this moralizing strain but you will not, I think, ridicule it. The sentiment, I mean, of course.
I have been considerably amused at your description of the Deacon of Bloomfield, though somewhat distressed that you should have been doomed so soon to encounter human nature in so revolting a form. But there is a sweet to be extracted from every bitter as well as a thorn in every rose as I trust these specimens of human nature, together with others with which you may meet, will by assisting you to realize the abyss of depravity in which our world is sunk. Prepare your mind better to encounter future similar exhibitions among such a people as you describe. I can not well conceive how you have contrived to oppose meekness to so much perverseness, humility to so much conceit, activity to so much dullness. You have doubtless resorted to the Being who has the treasures of all wisdom & knowledge, but after all your efforts, I dare say the ignorance & stupidity of your people compelled you to exclaim with a celebrated author, how much knowledge & wisdom is requisite to make these things plain.
The strength of the benevolent principle must be very great in an individual if he would persevere in his efforts for the welfare of souls whose characters present nothing at all to interest, but everything to alienate & disgust. It is a very easy matter to endure ignorance and delightful to condescend to it if accompanied with docility on account of the opportunity furnished to contribute to the benefit and happiness of an immortal soul. But conceit, founded on ignorance, must be insupportable excepting as the mind & disposition have become thoroughly imbued with a spirit from above. I do not wonder that you were disheartened. I feel disposed to sympathize with you for that is all I can do. I entreat you, however, not give way to discouragement. These adverse winds will soon blow over. Allow yourself no unnecessary solicitude and consider me not officious, and I will add, “cast all thy care upon the Lord.” Let him “undertake for thee, acknowledge him in all thy ways and He shall direct thy paths.”
I am confident the present adverse circumstances will prove no detriment to you in the end. I feel also a pleasing assurance that you will ‘ere long occupy such a situation in the vineyards of the Lord as is adapted to your capacities, happiness, & personal improvement in all the virtues which compose the Christian character. Provocations you will not expect to escape in any situation. And how happy it would be for us if we could ever realize that our trials in whatever shape, constitute the discipline which our characters require in order to a happy life beyond the grave.
Things remain much as usual with us. A Mr. Grovener — one not long dismissed from Ashfield — preached for us Sabbath before last. I have understood since that he was recommended by Mr. [Leonard] Bacon as one that would be suitable for us when Mr. [Joel Ranney] Arnold leaves. I cannot find, however, as he was particularly admired. I for one was considerably interested in him. His manners were very agreeable and his sermons were what I should think might be called very pleasant though not at all abstruse. They were written too much in the style of exhortation, I suspect, to suit Pa. At least he was not particularly pleased, now that I know of any other one.
Let us hear again soon as possible. Shall feel very anxious unless you do. Yours, Anna