23 November 1864: “If Eva would only love, but I don’t think she does”

Item Description: Diary entry dated 23 November 1864 by Sarah Lois Wadley. She writes about her difficulties with teaching and the dynamics of her family.


Item Citation: Folder 5, Sarah Lois Wadley Papers, #1258, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Item Transcription:

Wednesday, Nov. 23rd. 1864.

I feel very sad and troubled, what I have long feared has come, I have been obliged to stop teaching Eva. I don’t know whether I am right or wrong, that is, whether my proceeding will have a good effect or not; I don’t see how I could do otherwise. There has not a day passed for the last week that she has not been insulting in her behaviour to me on no provocation at all, and it has tried me very much, yesterday I prayed as usual to be kept from my own passion and went into school determined to do right and if possible to avoid Eva’s anger. At first I hoped I should succeed, but I soon found that she was out of temper about her geranium, which had nearly frozen the night before. I had gone up into the school room early in the morning while she was up there and had poured cold water around one, which I thought was the best thing to do, she showed nothing but good humour then, but soon after we commenced school she said the water would kill them; I said I had done what I thought best. Eva kept increasing her irritation more and more but I tried not to notice it, and said nothing; but when I came to hear her geography (I think it was) she flew into a violent passion and used very abusive language to me, I was so much agitated that I have quite forgot what it was. Loring had been troubling me that morning, and I was quite weary of this oft recurring abuse of me when I do all I can for them, I was very indignant and I told Eva I would not teach her any longer unless she would apologize for her behaviour and promise not to repeat it, she did this, but in an extremely reluctant and sullen manner which increased the resentment I felt, all the rest of the morning she continued to annoy me in every possible manner. George too was violent and disobedient, this hurt me more than anything else, my feeling for him is tenderer than for any of the others, and his unkindness hurts me more, I was suffering from Eva’s conduct, and when he spoke so, my self command gave way; I made some incoherent exclamation about how they troubled and burst into a passion of tears. I know this was not right nor proper but my passionate nature when it does burst forth is so violent. I recovered my self command before George finished his lesson, but when I came downstairs my eyes were yet reddened, and my face troubled. After dinner I could no longer command myself, I came off into my room and it seemed to me as if my heart would break, all my exertions seemed useless, all my prayers unanswered. After awhile I went back into the dining room, and thought my emotion unnoticed untill Mother asked me what was the matter, and if the children were troubling me. I said not more than usual, but she asked if it was Eva and I said yes, and added with tears that I didn’t believe she cared anything for me. Father said I had better stop teaching the children; this hurt me worse than ever, it seemed a confirmation of my fears that I was doing them no good.

I sat at work for some time without anything more being said. I was very busy making some gloves for Willie. I meant to ask Mother not to say anything to Eva about it, but before Father’s going out had given me an opportunity (I did not like to speak before him) Eva came in and Mother told her she had better not go to school any more until she went to Homer if she could not behave herself properly. Eva has not spoken to me since, nor I to her; I cannot bear to seem to beg for that affection to which I have forfeited no right, if I had done wrong I would ask her pardon, but I have not, I think. If I thought she desired it, I would make advances to her, but she seems so coldly sullen to me that I cannot do it, and yet it seems to me I am hard hearted and wrong to continue in coldness which I am far from feeling. If Eva would only love, but I don’t think she does, I could not be more unkind to an enemy than she is to me. She does not know how it hurts me; I am afraid if she perseveres thus, I shall lose that love for her which I now feel.

This is such a bright, beautiful day, the landscape is all bright and glittering in the cold sunlight, many of the trees have lost all their leaves since Monday, the weather cleared Sunday evening, and has been brightly cold ever since. This morning it froze in our room, my geranium is warmly covered, I have been afraid to open it lest the cold should get in, but I don’t think it is frozen, our plants upstairs are only slightly hurt; the little tender heliotrope is killed.

Jimmy Stone called to see us Sunday afternoon as he was on his way to Trenton with the regiment; he had had a hard trip to and from Alexandria; their horses were for five days without food or grazing, many died, Jimmy’s two took the distemper and were perfect bags of bones. They had come up from Alexandria through all the mud and rain of last week with the horses in this condition. It seems an inexplicable move, this trip to Alexandria, they did not do a thing but ruin their horses. Jimmy says the soldiers are deserting terribly at Alexandria, there were fourteen shot in a week, this is appalling, many of them are the paroled Vicksburg prisoners who have been spoilt by staying at home too long. Dr. Furness came over Sunday evening to bid us goodbye, was ordered down to Alexandria, left yesterday morning.


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