Journal of Dr GFW
Monday, 23 November, 1829
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I have neglected to mention a visit to Guilford on the 10th inst. to see Doct. W.W. Tyler, who calculated to go in a few days to New York. Before we left that state we had bought on a credit a Bill of Medicine and a few books. And our obligations were given for the amount. I have not for some time put confidence in Tyler, and he had a small due bill against me for a case of instruments I had purchased of him in the Spring, and I wished to discharge it as I was calculating he would give it to an officer as soon as he left. So I called for it. He pretended to seek for said paper, but could not find it. This was in the night and was all a mere pretense to force me to pay to him my portion of notes in Geneva, New York. For this I had not the means and did not wish to pay it to him because these notes might be sent here while he was gone, and perhaps he would not ever return, and then I should lose the money paid him and the whole sum of the notes. I gave him this reason, at which he was not pleased, but did not say much. I now requested him to find the due bill. He said he had been examining his papers and had found several he had, but to me and which expected to have returned, as that was the understanding and I had bought the same articles; however, he insisted on my paying him for them, so I did. He now presses on me several books when I told him, "Tyler, you have treated me unjustly in these other articles and I have acquiesced in it. You now wish to extend that injustice further by compelling me to pay you for those books? I gave you the best books we purchased and you now wish me to purchase them from you? No, sir, because from my regard to you I submitted to one imposition. You must not expect I shall to another. My object is to deal justly with you and every other man, but when one imposition follows another in such rapid succession, I do not feel disposed to acquiesce. Consequently, these books you may dispose of where and when you can."
He now found the due bill and I paid him. I have mentioned this case that you may be on your guard at all times, both with those whom you may consider your friends as well as those you may think your enemies. Never have anything to do with any indivdual without having it distinctly stated on paper and acknowledged by signature, because an honest man will be perfectly willing to do and a dishonest should be made to do it. In the case above, Tyler in the absence of proof intended to make me pay several dollars which he had no right to expect or demand. From this time forward I set him down as a dishonest man and never wish to have anything more to do with him. So if you find a man to be in the least dishonest, wish to have anything more to do with him. So if you find a man to be in the least dishonest, never after, if you can avoid it, have the least to do with him. At once forsake him. He will bring you into difficulty, if he can, from which you may not escape unhurt. BE HONEST! I have thought often of the unhappy female mentioned a few days ago and do not feel altogether as comfortable in relation to her as I have supposed a man would feel if he had acted completely just. I have, however, heard that her infant died the next day after she left here.
Our amity still continued in all its pleasantness and our endeavors to make each other happy in full force. Though some momentary occurrences from mistaken ideas and preconceived notions seem to ruffle the placid surface of the domestic sea. Yesterday we were alone, freely indulging in anticipating the future and the general result of matrimonial pleasure, and that hereafter we should have to divide our attention, as objects accumulated and required our assistance, and the hours we now enjoy uninterrupted would be required to discharge the many duties we should have to discharge in teaching and conducting those that may come after us. From this a subject was introduced in relation to infant Baptism or the christening of children. I freely expressed my ideas on the subject; I in opposition to any such proceeding and declared it, in my opinion, as both erroneous and injurious, consequently ought not to be admitted because it was keeping up a foolish superstition, productive of no benefit whatever either to the child or the sponsors, but a probable injury to both. An injury to those who assumed the title of godfather or mother because the obligations thus agreed to are never, never fulfilled or thought of after. And to the child as it may induce it in after years to assume this as the ground of more perfection than those who have not received this ceremony and as the necessary qualification to entitle them to the appellation of goodness. And not only so, it was calculated to elongate a mere superstition which had already descended too far, and ignorance and folly would longer continue; and as long as people act to perpetuate these imaginary ceremonial traits of goodness, and leave the reality, so long will unhappiness be fastened and so, of course, continued and the sooner we abandon all these scenes of fancy alone, the better for society. No substantial reason can be designed for infant Baptism and it should be at once abolished. My companion listened with great attention to the recital of my ideas and her surprise was equal to her attention. She had imagined that a child could not live unless it had the ceremony of Baptism performed and exclaimed, My! my dear, how can you talk so. I should be ashamed to have a child and not have it christened. I asked why she wanted this ceremony said over an unconscious infant. Because, she said, I was baptized.
And is this all you can produce as a reason for it? No. Everybody has their children christened. Then, because you have had the rite performed to yourself and other people do so, too, you imagine to be sufficient cause and reason for you to follow it? But can you give one reason why this act is necessary? Does it make the child any better, wiser, or more healthy while it is an infant, or even when it grows up and arrives to the years of maturity? Will it then be any better? Or to take into consideration the point you have in view, will it be the more likely to be received by our Savious in consequence of its being baptized? All she could urge in favor of it was that other people had their children christened. Well, now you have given no reason for it except tradition, which proves that it is attended with injury, as it tends to perpetuate supersitious ignorance, and your children will use the same pleaas you do. Yet you cannot give up the idea that your children should live without it. Seeing then that some difficulty might arise, should we ever be brought to the test, I wish to have it decided before such a time may arrive, or it may cause difficulty at a time when we are the least prepared for it. We agreed that all the males, if we should have any, should be as I said, and the females as best suited her pleasure.
This day seems most unfortunate for me, and I may exclaim, well had it been for man had jealousy never entered the mind, for it is the poison of every peace or source of happiness to every individual that comes within the shade of its wide-spreading branches. Its vision is more acute than the Eagle and can see through all barriers; darkness is no barrier against its ocular powers. It possesses a power of magnifying so great that distance only seems to make everything more plain to its sight. Every action, thought, or word is plain to the jealous, though at one hundred miles distant. It appears to be omniscient, and I do not know but it is unchangeable. I much fear it has found an abiding place in the bosom of my wife and there seems disposed to remain. I left home to visit a few patients and among the number a slave of Jacob Conrad's. And from there I went directly above there. As the slave was not likely to recover, I had to see him again tonight. So I concluded to stop as I returned. Night came on becore I arrived at Mr. Conrad's. I called to see to the slave and tarried half an hour. It was past bedtime when I arrived at my own dwelling, with the fond hope of meeting a pleasant reception. But, alas, how different, how changed, how altered. Distressing looks, discontented mind, not a word, not a welcome, and nought but sullen silence and for nought.
What was the cause I could not imagine. I requested an explanation, but could receive none. Not the least satisfaction could be received. However, in some few hours, I ceased all solicitation and concluded to permit time to unfold the mystery. Now if there be no cause sufficient to produce such a disagreeable feeling in the mind, such conduct, without even the shadow of a cause, only in imagination, I see as the effect of a mind filled with erroneous insupportable and this the treatment of a wife who should use every exertion to make my house and home pleasant and agreeable.