Had Weld been less obtusely singleminded, he might have noted the little affectionate touches that Angelina could not always keep out of her letters. She made such "wry faces and outcries" about his wretched handwriting that he bought himself a new pen. She responded to his arguments so saucily that it seemed to him that he got a stinging earboxing with every letter. She was gravely concerned for his health, for he had lost ten pounds while working in the office and now weighed less than he did at the age of fifteen. She recommended that he read Andrew Combe on "Health and Mental Education," especially the chapter dealing with "Excessive Exercise of the Brain." Sarah's health was worrying Angelina, too, she confided to Weld. Sarah had suffered with a bad cough for several weeks, and Angelina was fearful that if she should be obliged to lay aside her work, their enemies would account it a judgment.

Weld was touched by Angelina's concern for his health, and assured her he was sound. His only complaint was an occasional ache in his throat, but it came only when "I act like a fool and get discussing in my screech owl style." He was more worried about the sisters than about himself, for they were unaccustomed to the treacherous New England winter that was coming on apace. He had read Combe and trusted to have got some benefit. Along with his other eccentricities Weld had adopted the dietary regimen of Sylvester Graham and recommended Graham's health rules to the sisters. This health expert was coming to Boston to lecture, and Weld hoped Angelina and Sarah could hear him.

Graham was a Yankee preacher and temperance lecturer who, from study of physiology and of the Bible, had evolved a formula for health and longevity. It might almost be said that he thought the way to salvation was through the stomach, or, as one of his disciples put it, that there was a physical as well as a moral "fall" in Eden for which only vegetarianism could atone. Many people of that day ate prodigiously of meat and starches, drank heavily, and rarely bathed. And from Weld's efforts in behalf of manual labor, we have seen that they took little exercise. Graham taught abstemiousness and cleanliness, and as a basis of diet prescribed bread made of the whole wheat kernel, unbolted and coarsely ground, instead of the baker's product. Meat, fish, butter, tea, coffee, pepper, indeed, all condiments and stimulants, came under his ban. Diet was only one of his concerns, for he wrote and lectured on what young men and women should know and sought to keep "American amativeness" within prudent and pious bounds. He advocated hard mattresses, open bedroom windows, cold baths, loose and lighter clothing, and daily exercise; and if his ideas drew jeers from the medical profession of his day, time would seem to have vindicated many of his pronouncements.

One day when Graham had partaken heartily of cucumbers, green corn, and watermelon at the home of a friend, expounding his peculiar ideas with his accustomed fervor the while, he was seized with intense pains in his stomach and colon. So dreadful was his agony that he threw himself on the floor and writhed; yet his enthusiasm and confidence were so invincible that between his spasms he ejaculated: "Yes, gentlemen! Posterity will do me justice! (Oh, my bowels! ) Yes, gentlemen! Posterity will build monuments to my memory! (Oh, these gripes!) Yes, gentlemen, my system will flourish and ultimately spread through the world!"

Graham was once mobbed by the allied butchers and bakers of Boston, but the bakers were finally persuaded to manufacture Graham bread, and numerous Graham boardinghouses were established throughout the country.

Weld confessed to Sarah and Angelina that Graham's was not altogether a pleasant personality. He was egotistical and lacked "the unction of spirituality." But he was fearless and independent, and Weld credited Graham's instruction with improving his health. Sarah and Angelina should hear him, for he would give them "more knowledge of the laws of life in lectures than you can get from books in six months."

Weld felt ashamed of wasting so many words about his own health. He was reallv quite all right, and wished to reassure the sisters on that score. Yet, he admitted, he was something of a faddist in this matter of careful living, and he had a long health lecture "in pickle" for them if they should ever meet again.

The letters between Weld and the sisters were more frequent and voluminous than mere business required. Even though they were separated, they were coming to know each other intimately. Yet intermingled with Weld's pleasantries were candid criticisms. A woman's budding affection is often manifested in efforts to improve a man or make him over; but Weld usurped the prerogative with the Grimkés. He was sometimes almost brutally hypercritical, so much so that at last Angelina complained that she felt hurt.

With this Weld's resolution broke. He upbraided his own dim-witted earnestness, his merciless zeal. "Just enough pressure on the probe to reach the seat of the disease is kindness," he explained. "But to thrust through and through with a rude and lacerating violence--What shall I call it? Have I indeed done this to you Angelina?" he bemoaned.

And with that he confessed his love.

He had never intended to do it this side of heaven; and he foresaw that Angelina would be amazed. But from the time he read her letter in the Liberator he had felt her attraction, and with their acquaintance in New York he came to love her. Little could she know how he was tortured as he tried to still the yearnings of his heart. He had small hope that she could love him in return. Doubtless she esteemed him as a Christian brother, and respected his principles as a man. Perhaps she understood how he meant to help her when he pointed out her faults, even though he had been tactless and cruel. But he could hope for little more than her friendship and respect, and he was prepared to accept her answer, whatever it might be, as the will of God.

Weld's confession came indeed as a surprise, Angelina replied. And yet, in another way, it was no surprise at all. She was amazed at his power to mask his emotions, but she could account for the feeling in her own heart only as an answer to something in his own. When she noted that his last letter was marked private, she had steeled herself against another chastening; but she was most delightfully deceived. During their days together in New York she was frightened at her own bliss. Since their separation she had tried to think of him impersonally. She succeeded for a time, but lately the old feeling had come back. She had often gone to her knees, sometimes praying to be delivered from it, again asking God if it was wrong to love. Oh, how she rejoiced that Theodore had spoken out at last! To think that he had purposed to conceal his feelings, save in another world! The customs of society gave him privileges denied to her; yet, except for her pride, she might have spoken out herself. Still it was not pride alone that held her back. She had such confidence in his judgment and emotional balance that she was sure he would announce his feelings at the proper time. "I feel my Theodore," said she, "that we are the two halves of one whole, a twain one, two bodies animated by one soul and that the Lord has given us to each other."

Angelina and Sarah lay awake all night upon the receipt of Weld's letter, exchanging sisterly confidences; for Sarah was as overjoyed as Angelina.

But when Angelina's answer came to Theodore, it was he who tossed all night in sleepless rapture. He held the letter in his hand for a long time, not daring to tear it open. When he did, he would have liked to cry for joy, but he had no tears. The news was too good to be true. Angelina did not really know him. For four days he could not bring himself to answer her. "My heart aches for utterance," he finally wrote, "but oh not the utterance of words! . . . I have so long wrestled with myself like a blind giant stifling by violence all the intensities of my nature that when at last they found vent, and your voice of love proclaimed a deliverance so unlooked for, so full, so free, revealing what I dared [not] hope for, and what I had never for a moment dreamed to be possible--that your heart was and long had been mine--it was as the life touch to one dead; all the pent up tides of my being so long shut out from light and air, broke forth at once and spurned control." His chief pride was in self-mastery; yet Angelina's letter had so unmanned him that he now held himself a novice in self-restraint. Instead of being master of himself, he was like an artless, simple child. He felt humble, unworthy, imperfect.

It was an odd betrothal. Weld's emotions almost overpowered him. "You know something of my structure of mind," he wrote to Angelina, "--that I am constitutionally, as far as emotions are concerned, a quivering mass of intensities kept in subjection only by the rod of iron in the strong hand of conscience and reason and never laid aside for a moment with safety." Yet not one of his colleagues at the antislavery office had the least suspicion of his new estate. He was not ready to impart the news as yet, although Angelina pleaded with him to accept some one of his friends as a confidant. Their feelings were so sacred that she understood his unwillingness to reveal them to the common eye. But why struggle against the very laws of his being? Surely, if he was not ready to announce their secret to the world, at least he could trust Henry Stanton, or someone else in the office, so that he might have an outlet for his bliss.

Both Angelina and Theodore had some misgivings that they might love each other more than they loved God. Yet their love must be of His making, they concluded. Weld wished to come to Boston to see her; but the sisters were scheduled to speak before a committee of the Massachusetts legislature which was considering petitions for the suppression of slavery in the District of Columbia; and Weld would not distract them from their duty.

Their first appearance was on February 21, 1838, about ten days after Angelina had received Weld's proposal of marriage. Sarah was scheduled to speak that day and Angelina the next, but Sarah fell ill and Angelina took her place. The novelty of the experience, the responsibility, and the emotional excitement of the past few days unnerved her, and her legs trembled when she rose to speak. But her old power returned, and she spoke for two hours. The abolitionists were delighted with her effort. She was thankful that Weld had not come, for his presence would have been too much for her, she wrote. She was so thrilled by Weld's letters that she did not know how she could stand it when he should put his arms around her. The pamphlets he had sent her were most helpful, she reported, and she was glad to learn that he was faithful in visiting his colored friends. When colored folk came forward after her speeches to press her hand in gratitude, she felt that she was overpaid for her work. Their thanks were more heartening than the praise of the rich and the great. She would speak to the legislative committee again on Friday afternoon, day after tomorrow. There would be a third hearing next week. Then she would be finished, and she hoped her Theodore would come to see her.

From the time of Angelina's first hearing before the legislative committee Weld had forborne to write, since he did not wish to add to her excitement. But the day before her third and last appearance he took pen in hand again, and poured forth his pent-up affection. Then he catalogued his faults, for he thought it unfair in any man to deceive his prospective bride. He could never marry with a curtain around his heart or a false gloss on his character. He was selfish, he declared, not in the money sense, but in wanting his own way. He was proud, impatient of contradiction, tempestuous in temper. His visage reflected a "deep wild gloom."

Weld claimed to be contemptuous toward opponents. He was self-indulgent, wilful, absent-minded. And in his craving for exciting forms of exercise he was as much of a "boy baby" as he was in the nursery.

Angelina had no idea of his deficiencies in education, he informed her. He had never learned arithmetic beyond the rule of three. Chemistry, geology, astronomy, botany, and all the other "ologies" and "ographies," even including geography, were beyond his ken, except for what information he had picked up. In Latin, Greek, and Hebrew he was somewhat better versed. Theology and sacred history were his strong points. He had also studied "Intellectual and Moral Philosophy," not under instruction, but by himself, with care, delight, and great profit.

Angelina was at something of a loss to match Weld's list of eccentricities and shortcomings. She confessed to selfishness, pride, impatience, and irritability. She was so impetuous that when she went walking she always outdistanced everyone, even the children. She loved to shout and hear the echo answer. She was not fond of children. She laughed when people called her learned. She often wounded Sarah; but after a spell of tearful remorse they soon made up again. Weld had already perceived a great many of her faults, she reminded him, and there was no need to enlarge on them. Indeed, in some of his chiding letters he seemed to peer into her soul. She agreed that those who would marry should know each other's failings. To perfect one another was an object of marriage. Blind love was transient and shallow. She intended to tidy Weld up when they were married, she warned him, but she did not really mind his dowdiness, as long as he was clean.

Angelina touched lightly on sex. "Why is it," she inquired, "that those of our own sex cannot fill up the void in human hearts?" Weld had never thought about the matter, he replied. He had never intended to marry and had purposely avoided the contemplation of "that relation of the sexes out of which the institution springs." Now he was giving it thought. "I feel like a simple child on the whole subject," he confessed, "and in all artlessness will sit down at any bodys feet and receive most gratefully the least crumb of true teaching on the subject." Weld was as much in the dark as was Angelina about the "philosophy" of sex. But he believed he could explain some of the facts. Sex must be an auxiliary to the higher affections, "bringing to their aid as allies the resources of the compound nature in its every department, pouring itself through channels of which the mind is not aware and producing effects, the cause of which the mind has not the least consciousness of. I suppose this to be a law and a necessity of our human nature, body and mind in one, our mingled nature with mingled a[finities and tendencies mutually acting upon and moulding each other. I suppose that persons of the same sex cannot so intensely be drawn toward each other by a love that baffles all expression .... In a word my dearest," and here Weld put it neatly, "I suppose you and I feel for each other more absorbing affinities than tho' we were of the same sex . . . from that law of our nature sublimely assigned by God as the reason for creating a difference of sex."

With the conclusion of Angelina's labors before the Massachusetts legislature, Weld planned to visit her at Brighton, where she was staying at the home of friends. He hoped she would meet him alone, he wrote, and that they might be alone for a while. He warned her that he might seem haggard and emaciated from loss of weight, but she must not worry because he really felt very well.

It was a joyful visit, filled with precious days. Weld admitted later that he had to keep "an extinguisher" on his spirit. Angelina confessed: "I never could get near enough to thee." They planned to be married about two months later at the home of Angelina's sister, Mrs. Anna R. Frost, "3 Belmont Row, Spruce Street," in Philadelphia. Theodore would try to find a house somewhere near New York, and Sarah would come and live with them. All too soon it was time for Weld to go. He had work to do in New York, and Sarah and Angelina must begin a new series of lectures, this time at the Odeon, in Boston.

There they were to draw their largest crowds. The main floor and the four galleries that rose tier on tier above it were filled. People sat in the aisles. Angelina spoke with her usual effectiveness, but Sarah was having trouble with her throat. It was so serious, in fact, that her Odeon speech was her last public appearance.

Back in New York again, Weld started house-hunting. There were plenty of large houses to be had, with high rent, and also plenty of cottages; but seven- or eight-room houses, such as they wanted, outside the city but within commuting range, were hard to find. The depression which had begun in 1837 still gripped the country, and many city workers with reduced incomes had located their families in the country, where living costs were lower. Weld must have a house with some ground, for he planned to raise enough vegetables to pay the rent. Angelina was marrying a farmer, he would have her know, and he recalled with pride how, when he was fourteen years old, he had had entire charge of a hundred-acre farm. He had found a house that they could share with another family, he wrote to Angelina; but he and Sarah and Angelina were "a strange trio, different from all the world I do believe." It would be venturesome to try to live with others.

Weld also looked at furniture, but decided not to buy until he obtained a house. The matter of furniture presented difficulties, too, inasmuch as everything was "so tricked out and covered with carved work or bedizoned and gew gawed and gilded and tipt off with variegated colors." They must have simple furniture; for Angelina was a Quaker and Weld hated ostentation. Simplicity in dress, equipage, manners, furniture, and style of living was with him "a very witchery of ravishment"; and by plain living they would bear testimony against the garish frippery of their day.

Their marriage, too, must be an example, Weld explained. Each of them was blessed with unusual powers, although it might seem immodest to admit it; and each of them was widely influential. They had uncommon notoriety, Angelina especially, for at the moment she was probably the best known female in the country. They were identified with powerful moral movements: abolition, temperance, woman's rights, the whole great battle with "factitious life." Theirs was a crisis age, and their marriage would be a crisis in itself. As a public lecturer to mixed assemblages, Angelina was a cynosure. Many men thought she was utterly spoiled for domestic life. A man had said to Weld not long ago that he supposed a woman like Angelina would never marry--at least he hoped she would not. Her forwardness unfitted her for home life. She would be "an obtrusive noisy clamorer." This person was destined for a surprise, asserted Weld, yet he suspected that even many abolition men harbored similar thoughts. Marriage would be a challenge to Angelina.

It would test Weld, too. He was known as a man of wilful obstinacy and his marriage would "be scrutinized with argus eyes," he said. He was totally unused to contradiction. He had always been deferred to as a leader--at school, at Oneida, at Lane, and in the antislavery office at the present time. "I always loathed and spurned it," he explained, "and from a child have always refused all office and worked in the ranks as a common soldier and yet in reality did actually control and give shape to a thousand things with which I seemed to have nothing to do. This has arisen from the fact that those around me and most intimate with me have always had unlimited confidence in me, have probably overestimated my talents, the correctness of my opinions, my wisdom, judgment, far sightedness, integrity, conscience, fearlessness, and freedom from unworthy motives." This must have affected his character and made him headstrong, he thought. He must learn to be compliant.

Angelina did not fear the test. She recognized her peculiar position. She knew what men thought of her. But they did not know what an ordeal it was for her to lecture. She yearned for privacy. She would joyfully renounce the platform for the kitchen. And in so doing she would show forth the versatility of woman. Their marriage would be proof that "well regulated minds can with equal ease occupy high and low stations and find true happiness in both."

Meanwhile, Weld had found a house. It was at Fort Lee, New Jersey, a little way up the Hudson River from New York City. It overlooked the river, and the grounds were in thick greensward. A little boat, the Echo, provided regular steamboat service to and from the city. Weld went up every afternoon to put in garden and supervise painting, plastering, and other repair work. Sometimes he stayed all night. As evening gathered, while he sat at the open window looking out over the Hudson, his thoughts turned wistfully to Angelina. The river stretched away below him in a broad and shimmering sheet. Light faded into shadow where the forest overhung the opposite shore a mile and a half away. As night fell, the silent, brooding river gleamed with moonbeams. Watch-fires glimmered from the bows of little fishing boats. Sloops and shallops dropped down with the tide.

Weld wrote with dithyrambic pen as he tried to bring the scene to Angelina. "The tall cliffs and thick woods that pallisade the shore, combine in a group that can be taken in at a glance, the lineaments of a night scene that could hardly be heightened in beauty by the pencil of fancy tho' dipped in her deepest hues.

Four steamers have just shot past, plunging like warhorses up the current and strewing their myriad fire-flakes upon the still air. Each seems like the Spirit of the mighty stream or like the Genius of the joyous spring, unloosing its evening tresses upon the bosom of the tide and flinging its starry robe all abroad upon the waters. I have just come in from an hours stroll along the beach. I had no eye for its beauties nor ear for the lulling music of the tide's soft pulsations upon the sand, nor the gentle plash of the oar, or the deep mellow song of the boatman. The moon was cloudless, and the kindled torches of the firmament flamed in glory above me, but still I paced wearily in sadness and tears, for YOU were not with me, and I wept with very longing for you My Love, Life of my life."

Their wedding day, May 14, approached. Their secret was out at last, and the abolition brotherhood was ecstatic. Delegates and visitors were pouring into New York to attend the annual convention of the American Antislavery Society, and it seemed that every one must see Weld to congratulate him. Angelina and Sarah had gone to their sister's home in Philadelphia, where the annual convention of Antislavery Women would assemble on the day set for the marriage. Weld's wedding suit was giving Angelina concern, and even he was showing unwonted interest in fine tailoring. Angelina recommended a brown coat to match her wedding dress-frock, if he wished to depart so far from his custom--a white cravat (her sister Anna would tie it for him), white waistcoat, white or light colored pantaloons, white stockings, and shoes lower in the instep than those he usually wore.

White vest and pantaloons impressed Weld as "a little buckish and dandyish," but he followed Angelina's instructions to the letter, availing himself of the choice she left him in the matter of pantaloons, however, by selecting light drab instead of white ones.

Angelina was delighted with Weld's description of their house. But he should not concern himself with furniture, she told him.

When they were all together at Fort Lee they would decide just what they wanted, and have it made by the cabinetmaker he had told her about, who lived two miles away. The only thing that troubled her was Sarah's room. Their large apartment seemed wonderful, but from the dimensions he had given her, Sarah's room appeared to be very small. However, she had a solution. It was for Theodore to take the little room and let the sisters have the large apartment. "Look in at the windows of my soul," she added coyly, "and see if I am in earnest."

Wedding preparations went forward. The invitations had been sent; but from time to time they remembered other friends who must be asked. Angelina had ordered the cake baked by a colored confectioner who used nothing but "free sugar" in his products. Weld must stay in New York until the antislavery convention was over--except for the agents' convention, it was the first one he ever artended--then he would come to Philadelphia. Those who made a practice of attending conventions agreed that this was the best one ever held. Weld would not know, he said--at least the crowds were immense. But Weld was bored. He was present only about a third of the time. He tried to listen to the speeches and reports, but he kept looking at his watch, and, whenever a mail was due, he slipped out and ran to the postoffice to see if there was a letter from Philadelphia.

At last the great day came, and the guests assembled. Garrison was present, well-groomed as usual, beaming benignly through his spectacles and looking to Henry B. Stanton like the prophet Isaiah in a rapt mood. The massive man with the mellow voice, large brilliant eyes, and soft brown hair, overhanging the Byronic collar, was Gerrit Smith. He seemed to be in good health and spirits today--he was so often ill with colds and fevers, rheumatism, headaches, giddiness, or hemorrhoids, that admirers of his oratory accounted it extraordinary that a harp which gave out such noble music could be so easily put out of tune.

The Birneys, the Lewis Tappans, the John E. Fullers were there. Stanton, Amos Dresser, Hiram Wilson, and George A. Avery made up a Lane contingent. The tall, spare man in the mussy white suit was Charles Callistus Burleigh. His bushy black beard was somewhat better combed than usual, and his dark hair hung to his shoulders in womanish curls. He was the most bizarre of all the abolitionists in appearance, and also one of their best orators and logicians.

The tall lady with the steel-blue eyes and well-balanced head crowned with light brown hair, which was twisted into dangling curls in front and twined into a projecting bun behind, was Maria Weston Chapman, who reminded the poet Whittier of Joan of Arc without her casque. The little Quaker lady with the well-shaped lips and somewhat stringy hair pulled back over her ears to the nape of her neck was Abby Kelley, whom we shall encounter later. Whittier was there. He would step outside when the ceremony began, for to remain would be a breach of Quaker discipline punishable by excommunication. Angelina and Sarah were certain to receive this punishment, Angelina for marrying a Presbyterian, and Sarah for attending the wedding; but both were reconciled to it.

Weld's brother Lewis came down from Hartford. And standing about somewhat self-consciously in spite of everybody's efforts to put them at ease, were several colored persons, two of them liberated slaves who had belonged to Judge Grimké. "They were our invited guests," Sarah explained, "and we thus had an opportunity to bear our testimony against the horrible prejudice which prevails against colored persons, and equally awful prejudice against the poor." There were some forty guests in all.

The ceremony was unorthodox. In keeping with Quaker custom, Angelina would not suffer a minister to perform the rites, and Weld deferred to her wishes. By the law of Pennsylvania, a marriage could be solemnized without benefit of clergy, or even a magistrate. if witnessed and attested by twelve persons. "Neither Angelina nor Theodore felt as if they could bind themselves to any preconceived form of words," wrote Sarah in describing the nuptials, "and accordingly uttered such as the Lord gave them at the moment." Weld renounced all those rights to Angelina's person and property with which the law endowed a husband, save such as the influence of love might give him. Angelina professed to love him "with a pure heart fervently." Then each offered a prayer for enlarged usefulness and continued faith in God. A colored Presbyterian minister also prayed, and then a white clergyman. Garrison read the marriage certificate, which all the wimesses signed. The simple ceremony was over. The twain were one.


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