This letter was written by John Kimball Young (1802-1875), the son of Nathaniel and Elizabeth Young, while a student at the Andover Theological Seminary in Andover, Massachusetts. Young graduated from Dartmouth College in 1821, was a teacher in his hometown of Dover, New Hampshire and in Charleston, South Carolina between 1822 and 1827; attended the Seminary in 1828-9, and was ordained a Presbyterian minister at the Park Street Church in Boston in September 1829. He was an agent for the American Education Society in 1829-31; pastor of the Meridith Bridge (now Laconia) Church from 1831-1867 and at Hopkinton from 1867-1874.
Young wrote the letter to his boyhood chum, Dr. Samuel Waitt Dow (1802-1837). Samuel was the son of Dr. Jabez Dow and Hannah Waitt. He married Elizabeth Abigail Wallingford in 1829.
Though this letter is not dated, I’m going to assume it was written in August of 1827 or 1828.
Addressed to Mr. Samuel Dow, Dover, New Hampshire
The apartment which I now occupy is so singularly & happily adapted to & so perfectly consonant with my own notions of convenience as a study, that I cannot, or if I can, I will not, forbear to attempt to give you a description of it. It was originally intended for a closet & as such contains two shelves — one of which silently groans under an unusual weight of bedclothes &c. The other is decked out with a pair of morocco shoes, shoe-bruches, blackball, liquid blacking & various other articles — all of which are arranged with the most complete irregularity. The sides of the closet are lined with pantaloons, coats, hats, hung on nails & inter-mingled with cobwebs. Besides these articles there are two pairs of shoes, two of slippers, a pair of boots, two pails, three wash-bowls, a pitcher, a mug, a chair, & a small table on which I am writing. All this furniture is contained in a room that is not more than three feet wife & four feet long on one side, & six on the other. Such are the delightful objects that engross my thoughts when I do not wish to fix them on different ones.
The prospect without doors, I speak seriously, is very pleasant. Conceive yourself on “pine hill” near perhaps ten or fifteen rods south of E. Perkin’s house. Now elevate yourself 50 feet in the air & look to the east & you will see a range of hills commencing about one mile from you & rising gradually as you turn your eyes to the north whense as you continue to turn to the west the range retains about the same height (which is apparently greater than that of the Blue Hills) and distance (which is probably 30 miles). Beyond these hills on the northwest, you see a number of rude heaven-reaching summits which mount up in grandeur & do much towards breaking the otherwise uniform beauty of the prospect. On this side, this range gently and beautifully slopes down & down until at last the descent ceases about half a mile distance from you, & forms in your view a vast amphitheater. Sometimes here there is a great mist which has frequent come up whether two or three weeks. All the country between this & the range appears like a vast ocean. The distant summits are little islands & look as if the waves would in every storm sweep over them with the tremendous fury. But I must stop for I know you are tired with things which require such a stretch of imagination merely to conceive of them. So if you have not already, I give you permission to come down from your elevated situation & attend to humbler views of things around you which you probably feel a deeper interest in than prospects which you never saw.
In the first place, how does the Addisonian Society flourish? 2dly, tell me what the prospects of the Sunday School are. 3dly, communicate such news upon every thing as your own wisdom shall deem proper. There is nothing which has transpired in Old Dover that I would not rejoice to hear.
Now I happen to think of it, give me leave to state that a society has been formed since I last came here upon the same — or nearly the same — principles that lie at the foundation of your Addisonian. [There are] 15 or 20 members — some of whom are among the first of the Seminary. Is not this a proof that my exertions to induce men to unite with us at Dover were unsuccessful rather from my own natural deficiencies than from a want of disposition in the young men who refused our invitations? One reason that induced me to state this last fact is that this young man who has done this is about my own age & has had no better opportunities than I have had. I now should have space enough left of this sheet to communicate to you my whole history since I was at Dover (it would consist chiefly of longings & yearnings for a return of the pleasures of last vacation) but I wish to propose a question for you to solve.
While I was at home in the vacation, I found nothing more difficult than to sit down for to or three hours to the close & attentive heversat of any book — it made but little difference whether it was a novel or a more serious work. I had no sooner read a few pages than I either fell asleep or three the book aside in disgust. This has been in a greater or less degree the case every vacation that I have passed at home. But what is more remarkable, on my return to College or to this place, all my dislike to books has invariably & immediately vanished. Now, if you can, with the aid of your own observation or experience, give me an explanation of this phenomenon — particularly the latter part of it — you will very much oblige me by the communication of your thoughts.
Let me trouble you with one other request. It is that you send me the rule & demonstration for Alligation, Medial [and Alternate] by Lacroix’s [Arithmetick], I believe. I make the request because I am at present unable to conceive how such a rule as you mentioned can be found upon the same principles with that in Webber. Should you not, however, recollect the rule, do not put yourself out in the least for the sake of procuring it.
You must excuse all inaccuracies for it is only by an economical arrangement of my time that I am ever able to devote a few moments to epistolary correspondence with my friends.
My respects to T. E. Lindsay — I believe that is his name. Tell T. C. that I do not consider his last half long enough & that he must write another without delay. Tell T. E. Sawyer that there is a letter due from him. Give my respects to all who may desire to receive them. Answer this as soon as your time will permit.
Your friend, — John K. Young