23 July, 1861
My best-beloved Margaret-Ellen,
Whatever admonishment you would have for me for allowing your letter to go so long unanswered, I beg you do not withhold any of it. You must not infer that my silence meant you were not in my thoughts, for nothing could farther from the truth. It must have been a thousand times that I sat down to write, only to be thwarted by something requiring my immediate attention – Timothy with a button to be sewn on, some biscuits needing saving from burning in the bake oven. And so it was these long five months.
You cannot begin to imagine how overjoyed we all were to receive your letter and the tidings of your recovery contained therein. My solemn prayer did not go unheeded by the Almighty – praised be His name! Timothy will be the first to tell you of how I dashed about the house and read it to anyone in the vicinity. To just see your hand upon the page, to know that you were well enough to write, was happiness indeed. O but I do mourn for the loss of your dear Cleo; I know how well your loved her.
It seems that all our joy now shall be tempered with sorrow. Margaret-Ellen, we are at war, with our own countrymen! You know that I did not harbor any strong feelings on secession before, but O! Mr. Lincoln has done away with any impartiality I may have felt. How can a man order his people to kill their brothers? How can he dare to call up first 75,000, then 500,000 men against their own country? And to further rub salt into the wound by proclaiming a blockade of our ports? If this is how he wishes to deal with the South’s secession, then perhaps it is indeed a far better thing for us to be our own country, to guard and secure our rights when she who claimed to be our mother country will not.
Margaret-Ellen, I pray you do not think my sentiments too harsh, but it is what I believe. It is never a subject which I speak of in public, especially as I do not wish to embarrass my father, We do still frequently dine with members of the congregation, and would not wish to arouse any unfriendliness in anyone. I have taken to keeping a diary into which I may pour all my thoughts and feelings upon these events. Perhaps someday I will show it to you, but for now I keep it well guarded, especially from Timothy.
I am afraid that dinner preparations call me away, my dear friend. Nellie and I are trying a new receipt from Mrs. Buton’s. Pray that it turns out well!
I hope soon that I shall have some good news of my own to share with you. But as I do not wish to speak too soon, that is all I shall say for now!
God bless you and keep you,