This letter was written by Rev. Giles Doolittle (1794-1842), the son of Eliasaph Doolittle (1748-1817) and Mabel Potter (1752-1814) of New Haven, Connecticut. Rev. Doolittle married (1st) Bethany Brooks in 1823. After her death, he married (2nd) Electa Upham. Rev. Doolittle’s first-born child, Isaac Giles Doolittle, is mentioned in this letter.
This letter was written a couple of years after Doolittle graduated from Hamilton College and just prior to moving to Chautaugua County, New York, where he served as the minister of both the First Presbyterian Church (FPC) in Ripley, NY, and the FPC in North East, PA. He was paid 1/2 the time at a salary of $200 (payable half in cash, half in grain at cash price). The towns were about 10 miles apart.
Addressed to Mr. Apollos Warner, Post Master, Plymouth, Litchfield County, Connecticut
Westmoreland, New York
August 19, 1824
After so long a time I find I have in my possession the means of liquidating some of my debts. I accordingly transmit to you 28 dollars aware that it does not fully satisfy the amount of the note you hold against me but being all I can conveniently enclose in this letter. If you will make the proper account of this before Mr. Hart or Tertius Potter, I will endeavor to make up the remainder when you make the tour of the grand canal & visit us on the fertile shores of Lake Erie, Hither at present our destination appears to be. We are making preparations for the journey as fast as possible, & shall commence as soon as the necessary arrangements are made.
I am at present under obligation to preach as a candidate for settlement to the united societies of Ripleyin this state & North East in Pennsylvania. A great proportion of this country is new. Inhabitants are moving in fast. Generally speaking they are poor. They may perhaps comfortably maintain a poor preacher — especially if he be one who thinks more of the promise of divine support, than of the stipulations of a precious man.
They will probably in each society raise $100 in cash & as much more in produce. All this will undoubtedly be necessary to support a little family, But the minister of the gospel, while the conversion of souls is his great object, so it is also his great reward. Yes, that minister who has souls given him as the reward of his labor can afford to live poor as it respects what he shall east & what he shall drink. For he has in possession treasures which the light of eternity will show to be of inconceivable value. It is true ministers of the gospel are men, & being possessed of like passions with other men, their conduct is often influenced by the same motives. I acknowledge that the prospect of a pleasant & growing country as its full share of influence on my mind. But because thou who profess to be actuated by a spirit of good will to man are not always actuated by right motives, does not prove that the spirit of the gospel is not a spirit of genuine philanthropy.
The spirit of the gospel, which once sounded in angelic strains Glory to God & good will to man, does exhibit a nobleness of character, before which what this world calls great & noble vanishes/ The glory which Alexander or Caeser or Bonaparte sought was not the glory of God. Nor does the train of war & conquest & desolation which threw around them the glare of false grandeur, speak the language of good will to man. There — an immense distinction between the aspirings of worldly ambition & the glory of moral enterprise. The one has for its object — its sole object — the empty bauble, vanity. While the other has for its object the present plan & the everlasting good of our fellow mortals. And I think it cannot be a matter of hesitation in the mind of any rational man to decide which, in the light of the judgment, shall appear to have been best conformed to the requisition our Maker & judge.
I do not expect soon to see Connecticut again. The kindness of my friends there I think will be long remembered. May they never forget that love to God & man — constantly calling upon them for deeds of kindness — never be weary in well doing, for sure I am, that in supplying the wants of one fellow pilgrim, they do not prevent the necessity of aiding another.
Our friends here are well. They were comfortably well at Camden last week. Brother Eliasaph has an infant daughter. A____ I think will tell his own story in due time. Mrs. Doolittle & our babe, Isaac G., are well. Our respects to Mrs. Warner, the children, & all friends.
— G. Doolittle