This letter was written by John Perley, Jr. (1812-1895), the son of John Perley (1768-1843) and Mary Spaulding (1769-1861). His first wife was Eliza Walker (1808-1841). His second wife was Esther Carter Foster (1814-1889). At the time that John wrote this letter, he had two children: Benjamin Dudley Perley (b. 1835) by his first wife, and Eliza Jane Perley (b. 1845) by his second wife. Two other children — a boy and a girl — by his first wife both died while infants.
John wrote the letter to Sarah Burbank Carr (1826-1886), the daughter of Daniel Carr (1789-1862) and Mary Joy (1794-1878). Sarah married Henry Woodward (b. 1827) in February 1851 in Winthrop where they remained their entire lives, raising five children together.
The letter contains an original poem and a lock of hair (encased in yellow paper) of John and Esther’s infant daughter, Eliza Jane.
Addressed to Miss Sarah B. Carr, Winthrop, [Kennebec County] Maine
Unity [Waldo County, Maine]
April 12th 1846, Eve
Though but a few days have elapsed since I left your happy village and pleasant family, yet I think I would send back a few lines in token that the happy scenes of home sweet home have not lessened my obligation to my friends and patrons away. Had a most delightful ride home if quagmires, ditches, breaking stages, and plenty of mud can be delightful. Had I been going from home, I think it would have been less pleasant, but every movement connected with procedure home has its joys. I had the happiness of finding all the family well and all my affairs in a prosperous condition.
I expect to return the last of the week — perhaps Saturday — and my little boy will probably come with me. He is much elated at the idea of going with Papa.
The little prattler is just old enough to be interesting. If you loved the little one so well that belonged to another, how must we love the little cherub heaven has permitted us to call our own. But while I look upon her with all the fondness of a parent’s joy. I feel that she is but a lovely flower lent to bloom on the parent’s way liable to be nipped by the cold frost of death.
I said I thought of returning, but I can’t hardly think of it. To tear myself away from so endearing ties as twine thickly round the loved domestic circle, to leave my beloved and devoted wife, my happy little ones., my aged & doting mother, my kind brother, & confiding sisters, my brothers & sisters in the church, my kind and obliging neighbors with all the endearing associations of early life requires no ordinary effort, I assure you.
As you seem to have a taste for poetry and will doubtless excuse anything that may need excusing, I will send you a few thoughts.
Hail: Oh thou lovely season, all clothed in fine array
Long have we been impatient, at they so long delay
But lo in all thy glory, at length thou hast appeared
And at thy lovely visage, the drooping heart is cheered.
The rivers that were fettered, now burst their icy chains
The snow by copious showers, has been forced to leave the plains
And now to bid thee welcome, all nature tunes its voice
Yes at thy glorious coming, both woods and fields rejoice.
The rills of chiming waters, new pleasures to us bring
While gentle sounding zephyrs, touch a melodious string
All join in acclamations, throughout this spacious earth
To welcome thy arrival, and celebrate thy birth.
Though the bird and beast thy glory, in different ways express
Yet all in one sweet concert, declare thy loveliness
The birds in notes melodious, with music fill the air
While lambs with sportive motion, thy worthiness declare.
Lo shortly thou appeared all clothed in living green
Then Oh what writer’s pencil, can paint the glorious scene
The herbage from its bondage will gently then burst forth
And flowers with fragrant beauty will decorate the earth.
How charming is thy presence, when thus thou dost appear
Indeed thou mayst be styled, the beauty of the year
Leaves, flowers, and blossoms flourish, and everything looks gay
All nature bids thee welcome, and wishes for thy stay.
Spring, though a lovely season, will quickly disappear
For summer quick succeeds it, the glory of the year
Then Autumn next in order, to take away its bloom
Which quickly yields to winter, with cold and dreary gloom.
Youth is that flowery season, which quickly disappears
Twill pass like spring to summer, onward to riper years
Thence unperceived to age with grave and sober mien
Then cold concluding winter or death will close the scene.
Then Sarah, while in early life, for usefulness prepare
And seek the Savior’s pardoning grace with an unwav’ring care
May his kind hand the veil withdraw, his smiling face unfold
And write in his fair book of life, thy name in lines of gold.
— J. Perley
Our little prattlers have all retire and I am reminded that I should lay aside my pen. I cannot bring you our little Eliza Jane but I will send you a lock of her auburn curls, which will remind you perhaps of others. My love to all — particularly to your honored father and mother. And accept these hasty lines as a little moment from your friend, — J. Perley