June 10, 2013

Cable: Do everything cheerfully

Cable in 1915
Novelist George Washington Cable was with the Union Club in Boston when he wrote home to his oldest son in New Orleans on June 10, 1881, offering his insight on good living (and a few specific commands for his daughters):

I must send you a line for your own dear self. I am anxious to hear from you as well as from sweet mother, and I hope I may get a word or two from your own hand.

I could not in a whole hour tell you all the things I have seen since we parted. But I can say that all the time I saw the beauties of land or sea or hill or valley, whether nature's work or man's, I was still thinking of my beloved ones far away on the mountains.

Yet I did not fret, for I know that the Good Shepherd keeps my little flock, and my prayer is that their souls may be precious in His sight. I pray that they may be sweet, gentle, obedient children, trying to do their parents' will before the parents have to express it.

Be careful to help each other. Be amiable each to each. Remember in everything you do you are serving God. Do everything cheerfully—gladly.

Tell Mary not to tease and to keep her face at least half clean.

Tell Lucy I wish I had her here now with a little salt and pepper and mustard. I would eat her for dinner.

Tell Margaret not to forget her breakfast in the morning, her dinner afterwards, nor her supper in the evening. Tell her not to be cross to Lucy and to mind mother as well as sister Louise.

Now, form in procession and each kiss mother as you pass by.

Here are four kisses for four sweet girls and four for their dear mother.

Cable began to feel uncomfortable in his native South as he wrote a series of controversial essays on Civil Rights. He eventually moved with his family to Northampton, Massachusetts, only a few years after this letter was written.


  1. I think it's touching how those 19th and early 20th century parents would write letters of "advice" to their children.

    Maybe we could use more of that today? Older is, sometimes, wiser....

  2. Part of the problem might be the general lack of letter-writing today. Perhaps someone can compile Facebook statuses or Tweets with parenting advice instead?!

  3. What an interesting man. I like his mustache.