Letter written by John Dunscombe to his son Cecil:
18 Bank St. New York 1/5 - 1911
Your letter of Dec 20 and that of Dec 25 - dear Cecil have reached me with a few days of each other - it made me glad to hear my little x mas present reached you on the very day - how wonderful considering the distance & all, it should (thus?) have occurred! I can well understand your feelings because from my fourteenth year till many years later, when Momma and I were married, I had practically no family x mas - I hope some of these days before long we may all be (more?) prosperous & all sit at one table - Carroll & Margaret have so little they have nothing to give - it is imperative for them to live as economically as possible - I am glad you remembered to get each something & if you send it home here it will arrive equally as well - any little trifle will do, it is not the intrinsic value but the remembrance which most pleases a parent. It is the parents (position?) to give rather than to receive - thank you for the (inclination?) to buy me a hat in Cuba but do not dear boy. I have several good hats amongst them a Panama I bought cheap. Will tell you about this when we meet. Godfrey came down from Andover to spend two holiday weeks with me. He has now returned to his school - while here he made the acquaintance of about a dozen of his cousins & two aunts - we had our x mas dinner at your Aunt Catherine's. I hope you managed to obtain a fair share of the good things provided by the Cherbourg tradesmen - that was certainly a fine idea - I doubt whether it would have entered the head of the service people over here! I am anxious not alone to live with Margaret & Carroll but to live in the home occupied by Momma - to see & touch the intimate things she cherished & to be near her last resting place - where someday I also hope to repose. Just now matters are not bright - but one hopes for a change - we must all live for that in view & be as cheerful as possible - and in the mean time if we live as we should there is the knowledge that we shall be united hereafter - have you ever considered that the battle of life having been well fought what a happy, gloriously happy meeting that will be!
I think if you could obtain a position in Washington you would do better than anything you could hope for in civilian life - I doubt whether you are well fitted for a business career - almost too old to begin & work up & a clerk ship in civilian life is about the last thing any man wants - when you return you can talk it over - but be prudent & do nothing rashly - save your money that is at present the great thing for you to do. Some begin early & some later, but no man who must make his own way ever did succeed untill (sic) he learned to save. Speculators who are really gamblers usually spend or loose quickly all they make & almost always die poor - I am greatly pleased you are learning French - any additional language is an additional stepping stone to help one along - just now S. America is growing into importance & will continue during your life time - possibly an opening may come to you in that direction & then Spanish will be a great help - take that up next - it will come easy after French - and then German which is also important - When ever you acquire a language continue to speak read & also write it constantly, other wise it will very soon leave you as it did me - and that is a great misfortune - All you have written about your experiences in Paris was very interesting - you did exactly right in going about - that is the, or one of the things you are out for just now - your letters will give them great pleasure to read I mean C. & M. So do not fail either to go when you have a chance nor to tell us about it afterwards. Thanks dear boy for all your kind wishes - whatever proves good for me will (prove?) good for my children - the greatest joy for me now is to feel that all are living such clean honest & upright lives as Momma could wish were she here to see - I often wonder whether she does not see us!
I wonder in case of my death whether you who by right should uphold & keep the family together will have so changed as to be enabled to do this - it is a mans part - to be accomplished only through love - you must first win their respect & their love - and this can only be accomplished by a change in heart - I wonder & wait - God accomplished great wonders - but none greater than changing a man by turning his thoughts - it requires great perseverance in eschewing all evil & doing good to all men - fine determination regardless of scoffing - How glorious it would be if your brothers & your sister could in time turn to you for help & shelter in need - knowing they could rely upon their elder brother as upon their Father when he was here - at least for sympathy & love - & encouragement - I hope to see this before I die - try & bring it about by ever being kind to each other & perfectly honest & truthful at all times and circumstances - it is the only way to win confidence.
Good night - be a good boy -
Your affectionate Father.
(Note: The letter below appears to be only part of a longer letter. The part which remains is undated. My guess is it was written by John Dunscombe to his son Cecil, although I do not know what the nature of the problem alluded to is:
You should communicate with M & she will arrange about the baby - I wish I could be of some assistance - when you see Marie give her my love & say to her how sorry I am. Tomorrow I will send you a little money - you will need it & you can take it now as my x mas present - When gone - (?) you know - & I will help you out all I can - I am glad & grateful that I can do even a little - much love from yr aff Father.