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The bitter and sorrowful experience occasioned by his rash marriage engagement will be related in Mr. Redfield’s own words. Speaking of this matter, he says:
“Gladly would I suppress this chapter of my life, were it not for the fact that the cause of Christ has suffered from the misrepresentations of it that have gone forth to the world. I might have told my story long ago and saved myself much misunderstanding, but I wished not to appear as the revealer of my family sorrows. If I had spoken, my enemies would have made capital of that, as they have made capital of my silence. Now at the close of my life I feel free to speak. I shall withhold much of the worse, and only state enough to give a specimen of what I have suffered. I ask the candid reader to make the case his own, and then ask himself if he would have done better. I have not borne all this in silence and alone, refusing to accept of that relief, which making known the facts would have given me, and making them known now in order to gain sympathy. It is too late for that; my only object is to correct unjust imputations on the cause for which I have labored. I must, as a last act of my life, do this. What I now give to the world of this unfortunate affair, is all that it will ever get, unless circumstances shall compel me to give more.
“I married one whom I thought would make me a happy home. I hired me a house at the desire and with the approval of my wife, but within three weeks was compelled to abandon it. I found she was no more fit than a child to take an interest in or care for a home. I saw no other way than to board. I could find but one place where I thought it at all proper to board, and that was at her own father’s home. But he soon told me I must take her away for he could no longer endure her. I hired another house. To make it at all possible to keep house I was obliged to hire housekeepers, but it was only to have them turned away as fast as I could hire them. In one week I hired six in succession and all were turned away within that time. I next sent for my sister, who came and tried to make my home tolerable; but in a few days I was compelled to permit her to go elsewhere to board until she could arrange to go home.
“I next tried to get along by doing the housework myself and hide from the world my misfortune; but neglecting to keep my doors fastened, I was caught doing my own cooking. When asked of the whereabouts of my wife, I could not tell, for I did not know. The fact of my being alone and doing my own cooking soon reached the ears of her parents, who, mortified by their daughter’s conduct, attempted to bring about a reform. I had kept all this to myself, not even telling them. Her father, learning that she often came to his home, and left me to do the work in mine, forbade her coming again without me. Of this I was ignorant for a long time.
“Late one night she told me she was going home and I must accompany her. I replied: “It is late, and your people will be in bed. I cannot go and disturb them, as there is no urgent need.” I then locked the door, put away the key and went to bed.
“I was soon aroused by the fall of a window. I immediately arose, and saw she was out of the house, and with a light in her hand was passing through the back way, going to her father’s house. I knew now there was fresh trouble for me. So, I staid up awaiting the results. I soon heard a heavy knock at the door. I went to it, opened it, and asked who was there and what was wanted. It was her father. Said he, “I will see if you are going to turn my daughter out of doors.” I had no light, and he tried to find me in the darkness. I knew by the tone of his voice that he was greatly exasperated, and determined to commit violence upon me. I ran into the parlor, and he followed. “Be quiet and calm, until can explain to you,” I said. But he was too excited to hearken to reason, and only knew my whereabouts when I spoke. I could hear his footsteps and thereby I kept out of his way. Thus I continued to avoid him until he so far cooled down as to pass out and go home. I then closed and fastened the door, fully resolved that I would never submit to have her return until the matter was fully understood and settled. I cooked my breakfast when the morning came, and went out to my business.
“About 10 o’clock she came and asked my forgiveness, and desired me to give her the key to the house. I told her she could not have the key until the last night’s difficulties were settled. “Well,” said she, “go down home with me and I will confess it all.” So down we went to her parents’ house. We found them in a very unpleasant mood. I spoke to her mother, calling her by that title. She said, “Don’t you call me mother as long as you treat my daughter as you have.”
“I replied, “Let your daughter tell her own story then.”
“I then asked her, “Did I turn you out of doors?”
“She answered, “No, sir.”
“Did you not leave the house when I was asleep?’ “Yes, sir.”
“Did I know you were going?”
“Did you not climb out of the window as still as possible, so as not to awaken me?”
“Then,” asked her parents, “why did you say to us, that he turned you out?”
“She answered, “Because you told me never to come home again unaccompanied by my husband, unless he should turn me out of doors. I made up the story so you would let me stay.”
“Now the whole indignation turned against her, until she called upon me to protect her. I felt sorry for her father, for if he got the right of a matter he had generosity and Christianity enough to induce him to do right. I could but feel that through this whole affair he was an honorable and right-minded man.
“I now permitted her to return. But the same state of things continued.
“Next I was suddenly called upon by a church committee to investigate matters that could not be tolerated longer. I said to them “Go on and find out all you can, for I am ignorant of the object of your investigation.”
“I permitted her to tell her own story uncorrected. They found it entirely a matter of misrepresentation. She confessed the whole to be false. She had reported that I would not make any provision for her wants. That I had starved her by not providing the necessaries of life. When the committee found plain bread, meat, and all kinds of provisions in abundance, her mother greatly mortified, asked her how long these things had been in the house, she answered,
“I have never been out of them.”
“Then, what could you mean thus to report what is false?”
“Oh!” said she, “I wanted some oysters, and he said he could not find them, and I didn’t believe him.” The committee knew it was the season when there were none in the market.
“Again, her mother, deeply mortified, upbraided her severely, when she turned to me for protection, saying, “I wonder how you can live with me?”
“I was exonerated by the committee of course, and one of them said to me, “No one can blame you if you leave that woman, for such conduct is past all forbearance.”
“But all I could do was to wait for deliverance in God’s time. Nothing but the consciousness that I was enduring the result of my own disobedience made my case endurable. And my conscientiousness would not allow me to take legal steps to get rid of her.
“I was now taken violently sick, and was brought nigh unto death. It was the first of the cholera season, and I was the only one afflicted with the disease in that section who survived. I passed into what is called the stage of collapse; but I felt, I have not yet done my work, and I cannot die. I then felt, I shall not die. Shortly after this I was restored to health.
“Still my family trouble continued. Now and then my wife would have a religious streak. One night after making a great disturbance and giving me a terrible scolding, she suddenly turned upon me and commanded me to pray as her father prayed. To this I replied, “I cannot think of mocking God by any mixture of prayer with such wicked and violent manifestations of temper.” I saw she took it in ill part, but I thought it best to drop the matter and go to rest, still keeping a disguised but vigilant watch of her. When she supposed me to be asleep, I saw her come near enough to me to get a clear view of me and how and where I lay. She then took the light and set it back so it would not shine in my face. I could see her movements, however, all the better. She then went to the fireplace and took up a pair of heavy brass-mounted tongs, and taking a good hold of them with both hands, she came softly within a few feet of me, and then darted upon me with great fury and began to strike with heavy blows at my head. Having seen the whole operation, I was prepared for it; and by holding the bedclothes over my face and head, I received the blows upon my arms.
“For some time after, I felt I had reason to fear much more violence from her. I kept up a vigilant watch, but unbeknown to any one else. I could not inform even her own parents of this, much less others.
“Several times, by accident or intentionally, she burned up her dresses, and then came to me and demanded more. I think her mother must have known that she burned them; for once she came to me and asked me to furnish her with one or two cheap ones to keep peace. Then when I did this the mother made a fuss about it, and went among their relatives with a subscription to buy her daughter a more expensive suit, declaring that I refused to dress her in a becoming manner.
“When my friends came to see me she would tell them to leave for they could not be harbored there. My troubles had now become so great, and having none to whom I could tell them, I cried, “O Lord, my punishment is greater than I can bear.” I was unfit for business, and in short was so broken in spirit that I could not attend to business as it was necessary to do, and was obliged to fail. I gave up all I had to the last chair and spoon. I had nothing left. I could not hire a room, nor would my wife stay if I did.
There was only one place where I could procure shelter for the night, and that was her father’s house. What to do or where to turn was more than I could tell. I might have found some employment, but no place for permanent board, as no one would board my wife. Her father would only engage to board her until we could leave town and rid them the mortification to which they were subject on her account. I believe they felt truly sorry for me when they saw me in this distressed condition. They advised me to take up some business with which I could travel and hoped that my wife being among strangers might do better. I borrowed money enough to get out of town, and went where she was not known, and soon procured a place to board; but shortly I saw from the deportment of the people that something was amiss. I knew my only way was to keep perfectly still and wait for matters to develop. We had staid in this place about four weeks when the lady of the house informed me that we could not stay longer. I found this had come from misrepresentations of me. I had known it was going on, but I had thought it best not to attempt to correct it until I was compelled to; for I utterly despised the man who would reveal the afflictions to which he was subjected by a bad wife. When the truth came out the lady of the house expressed her sympathy for me, and said “You are welcome to stay as long as you please, but I cannot have my house so disturbed by that woman; you must take her away.” I secured another place but could stay only one week. I then procured a team and took her some thirty or forty miles away among strangers again. I found a place in a genteel family. Here we staid twelve weeks.
“I soon saw that something was going wrong, but waited again for developments to indicate my course of action. It continually became more evident that my time was coming to a close. One day the lady said to me: “Such has been the reports by your wife concerning you that I have believed you to be a bad man. But I have found out where the trouble lies, and though I deeply sympathize with you in your affliction, yet, we can endure her no longer.” Of course I expected this, and I could not blame them for turning me into the street. What to do I could not tell; houseless and homeless, and almost without money and no place to get board where my wife was known, I must leave town to find a place for shelter. So we took stage to a place about fifty miles away. Here we got board in a public house; but after only a few hours she positively refused to stay a day or a night. Now I did not know what to do. Finally I said to myself: ‘I will try one more experiment; I will take her to my father’s house; her own father will not take her, and every boarding house refuses to keep her or bear with her. I took the next stage and brought her to my father’s. I went on some fifty miles farther, and here my funds were exhausted and I was in great distress of mind though I managed to hide my sufferings from others. I soon found that my good old father and mother could not endure her conduct, and they told me I should not live with such a woman. I felt this was my last experiment and if this failed the Lord knows I don’t know what to do next. I saw nothing but agony and the poorhouse as the final winding-up of my calamity. My spirit utterly sank within me. I was advised to leave her and get a bill of divorcement from her; but while I was in this suspense, and wondering what to do next, all at once she resolved to go home to her father’s house and demanded the money to go with. My funds were exhausted, but she insisted on going, and actually started on foot for a hundred miles through mud and snow. When I found she was fully bent on going I went after her, and promised to see if I could send her in any way. So I sold my watch to pay for the hire of a horse to carry her home. I took care not to go myself. Now I felt a little relief at being free for a short time of my trouble. Very soon, however, a letter came from her father saying she was very penitent and sorry for having left me, and would promise to change her conduct if I would take her back. I wrote back that I had suffered enough, and tried experiments enough, and I could do no more. I felt that the last bond of attachment had snapped, and that if the offense of not living with her should bring me to the state’s prison I would go there.
“In the spring I started for the West. I passed through the place where her father lived, and where she then was; but I could not bear the thought of seeing her. So I passed on about three hundred miles, and located in Lockport, N. Y. After I was settled, I wrote to her father, to let him know where I was, and to inquire after the wretched woman. And now he beset me to take her back, saying he believed she would behave herself. I wrote back that I had no confidence in her reform, and could on no condition take her back. I was finally overcome by his entreaties, however, and thought it might be possible after all that she would do better, as she had professed to become religious. So I wrote him that he might bring her about half way, and I would meet him and her there, and would make one more trial. I went in due time to the place and found them there. I took her to my place of residence and to make all as favorable as possible for a successful trial we went to a first-class hotel to board. We staid one night only when she pointblank refused to stay any longer. So off I went and found a private boarding house. Before the week ended she was turned out into the street. The lady of the house forbade her returning on any terms. She said to me, “You are an unfortunate man, and are welcome here as long as you wish to stay; but that woman must not come in at all. A lady of the place helped us to obtain another boarding place, and we found shelter for the night. We had staid here but a few weeks when I was again warned to leave. I pleaded to be permitted to stay from day to day until I could write to her father and ask what could be done.
“The lady of the house told me she was a bad woman, for she had seen men follow her off into by-places. I could not say anything in her defense for I had found her once in the embrace of one of the boarders, and another who thought me to be away came in the night to my room. He tried to excuse himself as best he could, but I believe him to have been none too pure for the commission of great evil. I told her how improperly she was acting, in taking such liberties, when she gave me to understand that she should do as she pleased without my consent.
“Not knowing what to do or where to go, I was nearly distracted. I was again informed that she must leave the house. Suddenly she said she would go home to her father’s; and I must take her to the boat, about fifteen miles away. I did so, but when we arrived at the place the boat was gone and no other would go until the next week. I must take her back; but there was no place to stay for a single night, except at a public house. I thought I will at least have one more night in which to contrive what course next to take. In the morning we started back to the place we had left, and she promised to let me take a room and keep house, and she would not leave me; but just before we entered the village, she suddenly resolved she would not stay, but would go home at once, and I must take her that night to Rochester where she could take the cars. I knew it was useless to attempt to persuade her to stay even for the night. So I borrowed the money and we left that night in the stage. When we arrived at Rochester, I gave her the money to pay her fare all the way home. As soon as she had gone I felt such a sense of relief that I fainted, and could with great difficulty stagger along to a place where I could lie down. A high nervous fever set in, and for fifteen days I was not able to be moved. A physician, like a good Samaritan attended me faithfully, whom I owe a debt of gratitude which I can never pay. I sank lower and lower until I was near death. Two consulting physicians came to visited me. They told my nurse, I must die, and they most make ready to bury me in two days. They told the people where I was staying that my sickness must have been caused by some deep trouble. I knew not their decision, but I saw them leave me to my fate.
“The old subject of duty now came up, and I inwardly felt, God will not permit me to die; I shall live to preach the gospel. At once I began to mend. In a few days after they left me to die I walked into the doctor’s office. They stared at me as though I had come out of the grave. They then told me the conclusion of their council.”
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