Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Margaret-Ellen on Winter, War, and Mr. Lincoln

Hillsborough, VA
March 3, 1861

My most beloved Adah,

Do not, Adah, curse yourself for the sake of a letter.  There are too many sorrows in this fallen world to afford ourselves causeless reproachment!  Every word of yours is precious to me, and I mind not waiting a few weeks longer if it means I may share your beloved thoughts.

I hope the weather in Alexandria is warmer than it has been here Between the Hills.  It is naught to match the hellish mountains of snow we had the winter your mother died, but this year ours is an imprisonment in Ice.  The weight of it has snapped many a young apple branch, the cold has taken two of our lambs, and in truth has reached to my very bones - Father has confined me to my room and a warm fire today for fear this troublous cough of mine will worsen.  But I look to the window and study the skeletal trees against the mournful sky and am reminded of the tribulations of Christ.  Surely winter is the Lord's sermon to us - on the grave of chilling sin wherein we all lie, and from which we are raised with Christ upon Easter's day!  We must lean more and more upon the Lord in these dark days.

Tomorrow they will swear in Mr. Lincoln.  If you and Timothy decide to attend, I hope you may write and describe the scene to me - the newspapers are sure to cast it in such a partisan light as to distort the import of every speech and the countenance of all.  If Timothy can contain his patriotic fever, I hope for my sake you shall go.  Father tells me that if Mr. Lincoln strikes a conciliatory stance, there is a good chance Virginia may not take as rash a course as the southernmost states.  But - Heaven prevent it - if he calls for a levy of troops Virginia will flee heart and soul into the bosom of the Confederacy, and will prove there a flower of chivalry and honor.

As much as we have both dreaded the outbreak of hostilities, Adah, I find myself weary of waiting for the storm clouds to either break or dissipate.  My family is ready to take-up the sword, and I pray God will bless our sacrifices as offered to His glory for the sake of our homes and neighbors.  Continue to pray for Mason, dear friend.  He has grown quieter on the subject of Mr. Lincoln as the storm has gathered, but I know his soul is still in the torments of conscience.  I wish, for his sake, that he will go West and avoid the conflict altogether if he cannot bear arms for a slave state.  I know I risk ridicule and shame for such a wish, but I hope God will forgive my womanish fears and my desire for my family to avoid the shame of Mason fleeing North, for he cannot stay here idle while all his friends go to the defense of the Old Dominion.  He is seeing much of Sally Mears lately and I hope she may speak such sense as he will heed.

There was a singing school at the Short Hill Church yesterday, and what a singing it was!  5 dozen voices lifted in praise of God - perhaps the desperation of our times made them even more plaintive and heavenly.  My prayer is to be found in "Mear," one of the last we sang: "Think of the tribes so dearly bought, With the Redeemers blood, nor let thy Zion be forgot, Where once they glory stood."  God will not forget us, Adah, and in war or peace His Justice will be done and His Mercy prevail.

I rejoice that your time of mourning has come to an end.  You must describe the party on the 17th in as much detail as ink and paper will allow!  With Mr. Fleming's return to school, the hard weather, and work here on The Hill I have had little society and miss you all the more.  I pray that God will guide your father's decision to move to Winchester, but you know which direction I would have you take did the question lie with me!  Though I do suppose you would mourn to be parted from Mr. McCarty, as I miss the company of Mr. Fleming.  Indeed, I fear you -must- come to us soon, for you insist on Mr. Fleming meeting your approval and hes has been writing the most -forward- letters of late!  I would not wish to take his hand without your seal, my dear friend.  He has asked that I send him a picture and a lock of hair - shall I send them?  Father smiles but will not say "yea" or "nay," while George is the most abominable tease - he threatens to have a tintype taken of hisself in a gown and sent to Mr. Fleming if I will not be so free as to send mine!  God preserve us from devils, Yankees, and brothers!

I pray you are well and free of any winter's infirmity!  Do write soon, for Mr. Fleming's sake.  May God bless you is ever the prayer of your friend,


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