My dear brother : A Confederate chronicle by Catherine Thom Bartlett
Richmond : Dietz Press, 1952. Inscribed by Catherine Thom Bartlett. Hardcover. xiii, 224 pages : illustrations, portraits ; 24 cm. In original tattered $5.00 dust jacket, inscribed by the author, small 2x4 inch clipping pasted down onto the flyleaf next to the inscription from a friend of the author. There is a faint musty smell on the interior of the book. Fading to cover cloth, light rubbing to cover, as well as a bit of minor soiling to edges. Otherwise, a good copy with tight binding, and free of markings.
MY DEAR BROTHER: A CONFEDERATE CHRONICLE BY CATHERINE THORN BARTLETT
A packet of old letters held together by a faded yellow ribbon, a search for rare old stamps, and a rainy evening with nothing pressing to be done, combined to produce this nostalgic and fascinating book.
Catherine Thorn Bartlett of Baltimore was clearing out a lifetime's accumulation of her uncle, Pembroke Thorn, from the loft of his country estate in Baltimore County, when she discovered the important packet of correspondence among old cancelled checks, receipted bills, clippings and other documents. She opened one of the musty letters and read a sentence about a horse named "Sir John" being ridden into battle. With aroused curiosity she opened several more of the old letter-sheets and soon realized the human and historical interest and importance of a real literary "find."
Here was history first-hand. Here was virtually a panorama of history with its curtain rising on Charles Edward Stuart, Pretender to the throne of England, landing on the coast of Scotland in 1745, to await the gathering of clans. Among the men of Cameron was one whose name was Alexander Thorn. Swiftly the drama unfolded in battle, flight, and refuge to foreign lands — to Virginia in the beautiful Piedmont section where a home was built, tobacco raised and slaves held; later marrying the lovely Elizabeth Triplett who bore seven sons.
More letters, and behind the red wax seals were the innermost secrets of an amazing family. They knew the fine art of belles lettres and expression, and even the little incidents make for exciting reading in this confused time of the mid-twentieth century. Descriptions of marriages, cake baking, courting, schooling, riding, traveling, sightseeing, and plantation life are exhilarating episodes which add charm to every chapter of this book.
As the dark clouds of the War Between the States cast ominous shadows over the land there is sensed a quickening tempo in the letters to "My Dear Brother" and to "My Dear Sister." The turbulence of the times is remarkably reflected in the personal letters of this period. Here they reach a height of intense interest and untold value. Propaganda is uncovered. Scenes shift quickly from Richmond to New Orleans, to Baltimore, to Mobile, to military prisons and even across the Atlantic to Paris. The letters always seem to pinpoint the scene of action—painting a fine picture of the Confederacy at war from its glamorous beginning to its tragic ending.
Obviously, in a work of this nature so skilfully handled by the author, the dramatis personae are the Virginians, the Marylanders, and the Kentuckians. The original authors— Alexander, Reuben and John Triplett Thorn, John's children, and Pembroke and Catherine wrote history without realizing it. Fortunately, their stories were not lost because of Catherine Thorn Bartlett and a raining evening.
Catherine Thorn Bartlett, compiler and editor of MY DEAR BROTHER, is the daughter of the late distinguished Hunt Mayo Thorn, well-known yachtsman and importer of tobacco from Cuba and Porto Rica. Her mother, Helen Hopkins Thorn, was, before her marriage, Helen Rolfe Hopkins. She was the great-niece of Johns Hopkins, founder of the hospital and university.
Mrs. Bartlett was born in Baltimore, the eldest of three sisters. She grew up in a home of culture and refinement in that city, spending summers on her father's farm on the Chesapeake Bay. In her girlhood she was taught by a governess, later studying at the Maryland Institute. She has two daughters and one granddaughter. Naturally, her hobbies are her grandchild, painting and gardening. Her husband is a well-known attorney.
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