Chapter 32



Putney, January 1, 1848.

DEAR Brother and Sister Cragin:
I have not felt in writing mood since our dispersion till this evening, though I have thought and talked and prayed about you and our dear companions in tribulation almost constantly. But what a time we have had! You must get from Mr. Miller a full description of our hair-breadth escapes from the adversary, who truly seemed to "go about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he might devour." But as you said, Mary, the temptations to thanksgiving and hopefulness preponderate over the temptations to despondency. We noticed with Ioy that God seemed in some way to soften every blow, however threatening it looked while impending over us; that he went with those who escaped, and stayed with those who were left. Since the "three woes"-the arrest, the flight, the dealings with the Committee-my heart has seemed to bound up, and I have not suffered in the center of life as before. The night the resolutions were published I involuntarily felt as Christ told his disciples: "Blessed are ye when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man's sake. Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy." We have been by the pressure of our enemies


forced to look to God alone for mercy and help; and with all the world hating I have said a thousand times, "If God does not love us and have respect unto our offering, we are truly of all men the most miserable" And, as might be expected, the necessity which drew out our faith has proved a blessing. I am sure that I never felt the love of God shed abroad in my heart and the hope that maketh not ashamed as I have since our troubles commenced.

It must be confessed that the time of our redemption looks distant, and that in many specific instances our hopes have not been realized, as for instance in respect to success in this town. But we can also say that our fears have not been realized, and that in many cases we have been helped and comforted beyond all expectation. The operation of the whole combined has been to bring us down where we can say heartily, "The cup which our Father has given us, shall we not drink it?" "Though he slay us, yet will we trust in him." As Iohn wrote to Mr. Mead, the affair has assumed an entirely transcendental aspect, and none but "He who rides upon the whirlwind and directs the storm~' can guide us through.

Don't you think Mr. Miller will have enough of the French Revolution to satisfy him? As George says, we are living now under the "law of the suspect." By the way, people began to be quite alarmed about George's health. Horatio said he would not live three months. But George sees a direct connection between our faith and the tree of life, and is renewing his strength.

I have filled this letter with egotistical details, but I know my heart is interested in the great battle now going on, and that affairs in Putney are but a tempest in a teapot. I know too that our Standard4)earer does not faint. Still, when and where Perfectionism will find rest for the sole of her foot I know not. Your operations in New York are signs of God's


preparation: the letters from the north are cheering; the Bradleys are cared for, Catherine and Iames have found as warm a home as could be asked in the bosom of Samuel Lord's family. These and many other things nourish faith and hope, and go to rebut the enemy's accusation that "because the Lord hated us he bath brought us forth out of the land of Egypt to deliver us into the hands of the Amorites to destroy us."

Your dear little boys behave well, and are loved by us all. I must close, for "Fredrika Bremer" is impatient.

Love, Love to you all.


Hamden, Connecticut, January 1, 1848.

Dear Mrs. Cragin:
Mrs. Dickerman is still fighting Mr. Noyes. She places him on the same ground with Joe Smith, and says that he has be-come brutish, and that God will take him away and put a pure man in his place. . . . She begins to think that we are all guilty, and Laura joins with her. Mother doubts it and is friendly, but fears the result, as Father is wide awake since the paper is stopped to know what the matter is. Laura says she shall tell him, if he asks her. I give my consent, for it is all about and he will soon hear. .

I have today come out to Mother, and told her that I approved of the course Mr. Noyes had taken, and that I was united to him and his followers with a tie that neither time nor distance could sever, and if they went to hell, I should go with them. She made no reply, but it was a great relief to me . . . If I am never permitted to see you again, I shall ever thank God that I visited you. . .

Yours with love,



New York, January 4,1848.

Dear Harriet A.:
My heart flows out to you all. I knew not the strength of my love to you until this separation. New York is dull. I have no taste for its amusements, its vanities. There are no attractions worthy to be named with those of our beloved circle. Yet there is great comfort in the belief that we are sowing the seeds of truth which will bring forth fruit unto eternal life.

I have spent some pleasant hours with a Mrs. Whitfield of Newark, a woman of much experience and possessing a lovely, teachable spirit. Mrs. Sherwood is in a beautiful state. Vic and I are taken right into her heart.

I was told today that I looked younger and handsomer than when I lived here. I don't doubt it. The grace of God is beautifying.



New York, January 4, 1848.

Dear Harriet A.:
Our hearts were made glad this morning by the arrival of dear Brother Miller with love and letters from home. I have only skimmed them, as this evening we are going to make a family party at Mr. Sherwood's and read them aloud for the benefit of all. Oh, Harriet, what times these are! How many times have I thought of what Christ said to his disciples:

"Behold, I send you forth as sheep among wolves." I feel a great deal of the time as though I was among literal wolves. Yet I rest in the assurance that more are they that are for us than they that are against us. I have thought much lately of


an article written by John entitled "Creation a Work of Faith." God requires nothing of us in this warfare hut what he himself has set us an example of; and we are constantly improving, coming nearer and nearer the Primitive Church. Heaven speed the approaching marriage!

I doubt not you have good times with the little ones, and that tIle fruits of your labor will be manifest in their deportment. I long to see them, hut find it easy to wait patiently.



New York, January 4, 1848.

Dear Charlotte:
I thank you for your letter. We were so eager when Mr. Miller handed them out, I wished I could read two at once and listen to him besides Iohn and George and Mr. Miller are having a feast of conversation at their room in Catherine Wadsworth's today. Before the session closes they will probably have matured some plan for future operations. It looks now as though we should make our new start here, hut God will direct.

The papers here keep discharging their cannon at us, little dreaming that we are right among them. We laugh at the shots. .

Evening.-Mr Miller, John and George have just left here to take a peep at the morals of the city. Oh, how glad we should be to keep Mr. Miller a week, but we will not rob the dear ones at home of his society'. I begged him to buy "Fredrika Bremer" a baby jumper, and he had intended to get one. You will find it a great relief.




Putney, January 5, 1848.

Dear Folks:
Mr. Fastman continues to "pump up muddy water." He and Israel T~eyes are plotting together. They met yesterday at Dr Iohn's, and spent an hour or two. Harriet says they "hatch and hatch and yet bring forth nothing.''

Harriet Ilall has not been as well for two days, and Mr. Hall sat up with her all night. He says worldly people visiting her is an inIury to her, and he will not have it if he has to put up a notice over the door He is certainly an enigma.

Mr. Samuel Lord seems some like Pharaoh. When he is under affliction he turns toward us and is very kind, but as soon as things go well he thrusts at us.

Rev. Foster had his donation party Tuesday evening and, if reports are to be believed, they are following the fashion of Perfectionists, for they plaved "button button," and Deacon Crawford and Mr. Grout were Iudged to kiss the company all round.

George said tonight that the truth grew brighter and brighter in his heart and he felt there would be some outlet to it soon. He thought we should be free to publish before long, and if no one else published and defended our views, he should. He is much strengthened.

I opened Mary's scrap-book the other morning to a list of passages encouraging us to ask blessings of God. The one that was marked for me was "Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord, if I will not open the windows of heaven and pour you out a blessing that there shall not be room to receive it." I gave myself and all I had and all I could do again to God, and said I would await his time for the reception of the promise. Last night


when Mr. Miller came home with letters and messages of love from Iohn and you, I came the nearest realizing that promise that I ever did. I was full of love and gratitude; and today the sympathy I feel for some suffering members of our body does not quench the fire in my heart. .

1 know that John will he directed by God in making arrangements for the future. About dividing our property I shall be satisfied any way. Yet, as far as I have any mind about it, since the people broke their engagement I have thought it best to wait to be pushed by them into going back to the world's way of living. On the principle of letting out line to the whale we have caught I don't know but we might go back.

1 feel contented to stay here all winter. Nevertheless you know of course I should be happy to visit you.

H. A. N.


Putney, January 5, 1848.

Dear Folks:
Since the newspapers are out upon us floods of letters pour in with the questions, "What is the matter with Putney ?" "Will you write us immediately and give us facts?" Monday morning one came to Harriet from Mrs. Ioslyn of Cambridge, Vermont. Harriet returned a good answer, referring her to Mr. Buruham, and saying she would find Iohn the same in this matter that she had in The Bereon; if she had confidence in him as the author of that, she might still have. Today came one from Mary's [Mrs. Cragin's] father. It is a curious affair, written in his peculiar style, ridiculing Iohn, our doctrines and our Association. He closes by saying: "It is strange what effects are produced by faith when Ioined with fanaticism, but the strangest of all to my mind is that you should keep such company.


We have also a letter from William H. Cook questioning the propriety of our retreat, insinuating that it was cowardice and that we had been premature.

Erastus H. Hamilton of Syracuse writes a very refreshing letter. He says that his confidence in us is undiminished, that he is not with those who step one side until the storm is over, that he has identified himself with us understandingly and has been blessed exceedingly in so doing, that he is willing to abide the result. The end will show, he says, whether those who are afraid to lose their lives have taken the wiser course or not.

Harriet received a letter from Mrs. Hancock last night making inquiries and expressing confidence. Her heart is with us, although she knows not our peculiar circumstances. She believes the triumph of the wicked will be short, and exhorts us to "stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free."

H. A. N.


Putney, January 14, 1848.

Dear Brother and Sister: . . .
We have not been assaulted by the powers that be since you left, but we have had enough fighting with principalities and powers in the spiritual world to keep our armor bright.

Shall the happy household which used to collect last summer evenings ever be gathered again? The will of the Lord be done We are all together in the purpose of our hearts, the establishment of God's kingdom in this world

George Noyes was much strengthened by the trials he endured before you left. He has taken a Iourney to Boston with his wife. He thinks the girls are gaining some. Their talk has not much edge. Emma has been with Mr. Woolworth to visit


his relatives. Had a pleasant time, they say; no talk on particular subjects. . .



Putney, January 17, 1848.

Dear Friends: . . .
James and Catherine Baker are here making us a visit. .

James has had a plain talk with his father today. When his father spoke ill of John, James said he did not wish to hear such talk. His father said he had hoped, when Iames got away from Mr. Noyes's influence, he would give up the principles which were offensive. Iames replied that he might give up that hope, for he never should. He then informed his father that people had not gained anything by sending Iohn away, for he was doing a greater business than ever. .

I think if there is anything left undone, the people will be excited to do it, for just as James has had this talk with his father there is no small stir about trade. Mr. Miller thinks if he had goods he could sell a hundred dollars' worth in a day. The other merchants are watching. Mr. Chandler's clerk has made several errands into our store today, probably to see who was in. Mr. Miller is more distressed by this turn of affairs than he was by his loss of trade. He thinks it will enrage our enemies to pounce upon us again, and is at a loss whether to get more goods or not. He has been thoughtful and anxious about our property of late. It seems to me God is showing him how easily he can prosper our worldly affairs if he chooses. . . . Mr. Miller said, after he got out of this murky atmosphere and was refreshed by your presence he felt well; but when he got home the horrors came upon him worse than ever. I have thought he might be going through some such strait as George did. If so,I hope it will turn out as well.


Harriet and Mr. Skinner have just returned from Mr. Miller's. They have been talking about trusting in God for our living from day to day. Charlotte says she herself is much like her father-wants to see what we are going to depend upon and have something on hand before she needs. I think the prospect of losing all our property was necessary for her and Mr. Miller's education, if for nothing else.

Mr. Miller feels better. He says Chandler and Grout have helped to give him custom by the course they have taken through the summer. They agreed together to raise their prices, and now Mr Miller gets his goods for cash lower than they do, so there is a great difference in their selling prices. Mr. Chandler tells folks that goods have fallen since he was in market, and Mr. Grout tells them it is not respectable to trade at our store. .

Dr. Campbell has been confined to his house some days with the jaundice. I believe that disease is the overflowing of the gall-quite natural in his case. .

With love from us all,
H. A. N.


Putney, January 17, 1848.

Dear Folks:
Mother and Mary are here. They came in the stage. Mother looks rather long-faced. We have not begun the mooted question yet; we use our language to conceal our thoughts. I suppose Mother will take independent ground, but I imagine it will be as easy to convert her back from the Brattleboro ideas as it was to convert her to them. I feel quite sufficient for it, but perhaps I have not calculated the power that is in possession of her mind.

Your letters by Mr. Miller and one since by mail were extremely edifying, building us up in our most holy faith. I have


had temptations to think that when Harriet goes to New York those of us who are left here will settle down into a humdrum life. But I believe from the past that God will still keep us in school, that his word so plentifully sown in our hearts liveth and abideth forever, and that we shall be able to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God that worketh in us to will and to do. We cannot really retrograde.

Erastus Hamilton in a beautiful letter quotes the passage:
"That which thou sowest is not quickened except it die," which I think may reconcile us to the apparent dissolution of the Putney Association It was certainly a perfect seed. The people here have done what they could to put it under ground and harrow it in.

I have just bowed to George and Helen returning from Boston. We never loved George as we do now.

Yours in love,

Reviewing in her Recollections her sojourn in Brattlehoro Mrs. Polly Noyes wrote: "It was a dark time for me. After about five weeks Mrs. Mead went with me to Putney The first night I said nothing, and was in great distress. But in the morning no sooner had Harriet opened her mouth and begun to preach to me her faith than the bubble burst and I was restored to my usual confidence. When I wrote to John of the change in my mind, and put in twenty-five dollars for his use, his wife leaped for Ioy."


New York City, January 18, 1848.

Dear Brother Miller:
Mr. Noyes says he does not yet see the necessity of a division, nor how a division will satisfy the people if we still continue to be united in heart and principles; yet if it shall appear that a division is necessary, he has no objection on his


own account. If that step be taken, he will not be satisfied to have it done on selfish, worldly principles; it must be done on the principle that the strong shall help the weak. He offers in case a division takes place to deed his half of the Campbell farm to W. H. Woolworth, and the printing-office and printing materials to S. R. Leonard.


Putney, January 19, 1848.

Dear Brother Noyes: If you supposed that in proposing a division I wished to look out for myself, you entirely misunderstood me, for God knows as long as I have a dollar it is at the disposal of the Community. All the property I have belongs to God to be used as he directs. And as the property of God it belongs to all of his children as much as it does to me. God forbid that I should ever view it in a different light I know that in heart I am one with the household of faith, and of course can have no separate interest in property. I hope to prove that my love is not in word but in deed. . .

The whole town is in commotion on our account. The Pharisees and hypocrites see us prospering even beyond our own expectations after all they have done to make an end of us. The people, all the better part, have more confidence in us now than ever. Several have inquired about you with apparent


interest since my return. I tell them frankly where you are and answer any proper questions; and they do not seem disposed to ask any others. How we are coming out I cannot say, but it looks now as though this town would surrender before spring. But I expect much hard fighting first.

I thought it might be well for all concerned to change the sign over the store even if we did not divide the property; hut if you think best to change the sign back and go on as we did before, I shall do it Be it known once for all that I have no private feelings to gratify. I shall give you freely and frankly my view of things, but not with a determination to have my policy pursued Father than not follow the truth I would see our farms as desolate as Sodom and Gomorrah and all our property in the bottom of the sea.

Yours as ever and forever,


Putney, January 20, 1848

Dear Brother Noyes: . . .
There are many things now which look encouraging. To my great surprise, when I got my little stock of new goods open, customers began to flock in and buy. Every hour would present some new face. Those even who have been bitterly opposed and have said much to injure us began to show themselves at the store, both ladies and gentlemen. It has been amusing. Ladies would come into the store with faces as long as a yardstick, and leave with their prettiest smile. It is very evident that those who used to trade with us are anxious to get back. Many are trying to stop it, but if they come within reach they are magnetized and drawn in themselves. People begin to say: "Well, I shall trade with you, let folks say what they will." One lady will come in, and that will give another


courage to come. Last Saturday, the store being open in the evening so that the ladies could come in under cover of night, we had our store full all the eveiling . . . I have secured the trade of both paper mills, and their paper will pay for all the West Indies' goods I want. We could trade more by keeping the store open evenings, but I am determined to close the store at dark and also stick to the cash system.

On the other hand there are some things against us. Mr. Walker of Saxton's River spent two or three days here looking up testimony. Our most bitter enemies grow more and more mad as they see symptoms of our prosperity. And-that is all I can think of.

As you do not seem to see the necessity of dividing the property, as I do, I think I will say nothing more about it at present. I am satisfied that before it is necessary to make any such move we shall see the subIect alike and be able to act in perfect harmony'

Mr. Lamb's suit, which I told you was against George, is against J. H. N, G. W. N. and J. R. M. "for enticing Lucinda away to the serious injury and expense of her father."

Mother is staying with us for the present. Harriet and Charlotte say that she is improving very fast.

Yours truly,


New York, January 21, 1848.

Dear Friends:
The best thing I can do for you is to give you a view of our position as seen from my standpoint, which perhaps is more favorable to clear vision than yours. My desire is to see things as God sees them, hating the fire-eye of fanaticism on the one hand and the fish-eye of unbelief on the other.


Our warfare is an assertion of human rights: first, the right of man to be governed by God and to live in the social state of heaven: second, the right of woman to dispose of her sexual nature by attraction instead of by law and routine and to bear children only when she chooses; third, the right of all to diminish the labors and increase the advantages of life by association. These are certainly the dearest of all human rights, and we cannot spend or be spent better than in their defense.

The governments of this world positively forbid the social state of heaven. These governments will never of their own accord give place to the Kingdom of God. Hence the Kingdom of God, when it comes, must come without leave and contrary to law.

We have drawn the issue deliberately, and as humanely as possible. No one has been injured; no one directly concerned makes any complaint. All within our own circle are conscious of benefit. We have moved out of the fashion of this world soberly, cautiously, conscientiously, and after a long, severe course of preparatory education.

Our position is defended on the spiritual side by open manifestations of the power and wisdom of God attending us; on the intellectual side by a complete and splendid theory of sextial rights and relations; on the moral side by great improvement in our characters; and on the physical side by many cases of healing and a general advance of health among us promising ultimate victory over death

The head and front and whole of our offense is communism of love. No other charge is brought against us by our enemies. If this is the unpardonable sin in the world, we are sure it is the beauty and glory of heaven


Chapter 34: Fusion of the Perfectionists in Central New York | Contents