Home  »  A Library of American Literature  »  The Young Divine’s First Home

Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

The Young Divine’s First Home

By Lyman Beecher (1775–1863)

[From Autobiography of Lyman Beecher. Edited by Charles Beecher. 1864.]

SOON after our marriage we were riding together from Sag Harbor. With great good-nature we were reconnoitring to find if there were any faults in each other which might be the occasion of trouble. I told her I did not know as I had any faults—unless one: that I was passionate, quick, and quick over; but if she answered quick we might have trouble. Her face overspread with a glow of emotion, and tears flowed; and that single thing prevented the realization of the evil forever. If she saw I was touched, she never said a word—she appreciated the thing; she entered into my character entirely.

I scarcely ever saw her agitated to tears. Once, soon after we had moved into our new house, the two pigs did something that vexed me; I got angry and thrashed them. She came to the door and interposed. The fire hadn’t got out. I said quickly, “Go along in!” She started, but hadn’t more than time to turn before I was at her side, and threw my arms round her neck and kissed her, and told her I was sorry. Then she wept.

In the spring of 1800 I bought a house and five acres of ground for $800. It was a two-story framed house, shingled instead of clapboarded on the sides, the gable end to the street. I laid new pitch-pine floors, had a new fireplace made, and finished the back rooms and chambers, also a small bedroom below.

There was not a store in town, and all our purchases were made in New York by a small schooner that ran once a week. We had no carpets; there was not a carpet from end to end of the town. All had sanded floors, some of them worn through. Your mother introduced the first carpet. Uncle Lot gave me some money, and I had an itch to spend it. Went to a vendue, and bought a bale of cotton. She spun it, and had it woven; then she laid it down, sized it, and painted it in oils, with a border all around it, and bunches of roses and other flowers over the centre. She sent to New York for her colors, and ground and mixed them herself. The carpet was nailed down on the garret floor, and she used to go up there and paint. She also took some common wooden chairs and painted them, and cut out figures of gilt paper, and glued them on and varnished them. They were really quite pretty.

Old Deacon Tallmadge came to see me. He stopped at the parlor door, and seemed afraid to come in.

“Walk in, deacon, walk in,” said I.

“Why, I can’t,” said he, “’thout steppin’ on’t.” Then, after surveying it a while in admiration, “D’ye think ye can have all that, and heaven too?”

Perhaps he thought we were getting too splendid, and feared we should make an idol of our fine things.

Well, we got nestled down in our new house, Grandmother Foote, Roxana, Mary, and I. Aunt Ruth, our good nurse, took tea with us the first evening; and when we sat down at our own table for the first time, I felt strong emotion, very much like crying.

Soon after our first child was born. I shall never forget my feelings when Grandma Foote put her in my arms. “Thou little immortal!” was all I could say.