1848: Seth Richardson Day to Cornelia L. Scott

This letter was written by Seth Richardson Day (1823-1869), the son of Horatio and Huldah (Richardson) Day. Seth attended the Jericho Academy and then studied to be a physician by attending lectures at Castleton and then Woodstock where he received the degree of M. D. in the fall of 1848. He then began a practice in Jericho but relocated to St. Albans Bay three years later. A couple of years later he relocated to Bakersfield but two years later returned to St. Albans to open a drug store. He married Martha Stilphin in June 1853.  while attending college at Woodstock, Vermont. He later became a physician and resided in St. Albans, Franklin County, Vermont.

Day wrote the letter to his friend and former classmate, Cornelia L. Scott (1827-1910), the daughter of Hon. Harry Scott (1790-1837) and Cornelia Wicker (1793-1874) of Isle La Motte, Vermont. Cornelia married Hon. Henry Clay Hill (1828-1896) in July 1852.

The letter contains a delightful description of early-day Woodstock on a moonlit winter’s evening.

1841 Letter

1848 Letter

Addressed to Miss Cornelia L. Scott, Bakersfield, Vermont

Woodstock [Vermont]
March 18th 1848

Dear Friend,

Once more I seat myself to pen a few lines to you. It is with a degree of delicacy, however, when I consider that the one whom I am addressing is teacher in Bakersfield Academy. But as said teacher has given full liberty, I have presumed to do so trusting that that good sense and sound judgment which I perceive she possesses no small degree of will not permit her to look down with the least tincture of disdain on a once fellow student, although the tide of fortune has wafted her one step up the ladder of honor and distinction.

Woodstock on a moonlit winter night; Mount Tom in background

Woodstock on a moonlit winter night; Mount Tom in background

Cornelia, I do not intend to write but a few lines this eve, as it is now past nine o’clock and I am somewhat weary with the labors of the day. But thought I would commence. This is a most lovely evening — perhaps there are few more so. Luna is walking forth — Empress of the night — with her numerous train of apparently inferior orbs causing the village of Woodstock and adjoining hills to present a pale golden color while ever and anon some fleeting clouds (which in scientific language would be called vellose) are passing over her golden face, seeming scarcely to obstruct a single one of her rays but, as it were, to screen her from the gaze of her numerous admirers. This is just the hour that I should like, with a choice spirit, to sit and gaze and in imagination soar to yon unexplored worlds and then earch, in turn, relate the discoveries of such an adventure.

I have been in Woodstock something more than two weeks. It is quite a pleasant village — some five or six churches, a courthouse, an academy, and the college. Most of these have a bell attached which makes fine music on some clear, pleasant mornings. The streets are very pleasant and a park with shade trees quite tastily arranged. Then it is almost surrounded by hills, some quite high, and others less som presenting when taken as a whole rather a sublime aspect. Or this is my present view of the place. I intend as soon as the snow and ice melts and evaporates and the hills become covered with flowers [and] the birds and frogs begin to sing, to clamber up some of these hills and view from their towering heights the village below.

I am very pleasantly situated here, have a good home with a room by myself, which is carpeted and comfortably furnished, a boy to bring in my wood, and a young lady to keep my room in order, trim my lamp, &c. But this is not all. I have to sit and hear six lectures in a day and am expected to retain and be able to pass an examination each day on the lectures of the preceding one, so I am obliged to reherse and refer to authors the remaining part of my time. And when Saturday night comes, I feel as though my bowers of intellect were nearly exhausted. But I do not complain as I believe I am improving in knowledge. (Judge not of this last statement by my letters.) There are five other students boarding in this house so I have company to make my studies more agreeable. Also three young ladies, two of them singers, and when I am weary of close application, I join them and soon while away an otherwise tedious hour.

I have written more than I supposed I should and as the God of Sleep is exerting rather a powerful influence over me, I must bid you a cordial good night and obey his summons.

Sabbath Eve. 19th.

Have been at church and heard two very good sermons. Oh! that that noble part were in such a frame as to be profited by the droppings of the sanctuary.

You speak of predilections formed in youth as being more pure and permanent than those of maturer age. No doubt it is so as a general rule. Perhaps, rather, I believe there are many a youth who grow up to manhood without ever having those kindlier feelings aroused and brought into action. At least but in a small degree youth mingling with a cold and heartless world, soon partakes of that selfish spirit which seems to be possessed by most of the human race. But you find an innocent, artless youth — one who has seen little or none of the cunning and craft of the many, and draw out those friendly feelings, and I [paper torn] it would be of the purer kind. We find many both young and old who make large pretentions to friendship, but Cornelia, look out for the counterfeit. Many hearts melt but as Young says, “melt like ice soon harder frozen.” Be not then eager in the choice, but sift and prove and when thou art sure thou hast found one, secure if thou canst for friends are few on earth — almost a miracle. Friends should beware that noxious weeds get into the human garden, such as jealousy, reserve, distrust, for if they take root, they will wound, mar, and of not plucked up will surely destroy.

I have not heard from Essex since I left M. Was then well. Saw her but a few minutes — perhaps an hour and a half — the eve before I left. Seemed to be quite glad to see her brother. Sis E. — came 7 miles with me to Jericho to visit some cousins. Is quite well. Yours was the first that I received and since from another friend. My sheet is near filled and I must close.

Yours truly, — S. R. Day

Those two young ladies of who I spoke and [obliterated by sealing wax] the students have made me a call. They all send their respects without knowing your name or place of abode. This is a different eve from last. Not a star is to be seen. They are all hidden by foggy clouds (stratose). Two weeks ago tonight you were engaged in writing what I now have before me. Should like to look into your room and see how you are employed this eve. Perhaps some choice and pleasing friend is entertaining you or vice versa. If so, I am enjoying the imagination part while another is enjoying the reality. And now by wishing you success in your late undertaking, I must bid you good night.

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