Wallace in Drumelzier
Letter to Philadelphia
The Grandmother and Grandchild are Happily Met
Below is a letter written by the Rev. William Wallace, in Drumelzier to his brother John Wallace a merchant in Philadelphia, USA. Rev. Wallace had just received word about the death of John's young daughter and was writing to his brother to let him know about the recent death of their mother Christian Murray Wallace.
(Credit for the use of the following letter goes to the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.)
22 November 1755
Yours of the 28 August came to hand the 18th October. We all felt deeply for you and your wife in your loss of your little daughter and the distress of your part of the world by General Braddock's defeat. Since with time we have been refreshed in the accounts of General Johnson's success, we must be as life from the dead, if providence continues of favour this after attempts.
And now my dear brother, I must communicate to you the news of a private affliction and distress from our part of the world in that I know you will equally feel as being equally concerned. Our dear and worthy mother became pretty much indisposed on Tuesday night the 11th instant, which increased the day following by her appearing feverish.
Early on the Thursday, Nany sent for ye surgeon in Peebles, and an express for me to Edinburgh where I had gone on Monday to attend ye Synod. I reached home that night. I was not apprehensive of imminent danger.
However early on Saturday Dr. Grieve was called (for Friday was a perfect storm) who seemed to entertain very good hope of her recovery, however as she grew sensibly worse that evening, I wrote him directly the alteration of the symptoms. He sent up his partner in business with everything and direction he judged proper, at the same time by a letter expressing his fears.
On Sabbath evening and Monday morning the fever still increasing she became as I thought pretty much insensible with of pain or sickness and continued gradually wasting away 'till Tuesday last the 18th about four in the morning, when she fell asleep.
By her death we have all lost a most excellent parent, one who instead of being impaired by age seemed for the last 3 or 4 years of her life to improve (not withstanding her age) in prudence, in fortitude of mind, and every amiable virtue as indeed she grew every day in piety, in humility, and resignation to the will of God. She was an Honour to all of us, set the best example, and gave the wisest advice and poured out ye most fervent prayers for us.
You and we feel the odds between our own case and that of others. If your neighbour had lost a daughter about 12 months old you would readily suggest to him the unreasonableness of over-grief upon such an occasion. If our neighbour had lost a parent going 79, we would think it an easy task to satisfy him. But in our own case our passions which are part of our frame must have vent. It requires time as well as rational and religious reflection to break the force of that uneasiness which arises from the want of the object of our affection and love, even when our minds are satisfied with the fitness of yielding to the will of God.
I sent to Edinburgh for trappings necessary to the burying which was yesterday Friday 21st as I inclined to have everything as decent and genteel as might be.
Mr. Wallace our constant, steady friend came here the day before it and stays till Monday. Sir James Naesmyth showed ye great friendship and concern on this occasion.
I can say I never knew a woman of my mother's age more deeply or universally regretted. She has been living much in the expectation of death and preparation for it for several years past and I think God has granted to her what she often wanted, viz. that she might be removed before ever she became a burden to herself or others. Her brother Cardon's death, and her sister's in Edinburgh is happened several months ago seemed ever to lighten her mind. Her deep anxiety was about you and family that God might preserve and prosper you. But she had often made a surrender of you as well as of us to God and I am satisfied in that she found great comfort and serenity.
I rejoice that God spared and honoured me to do everything in my powers to make her life as easy as possible. She and I were always abundantly satisfied, had you been in my situation you would have acted the same part.
It always pleased her to know that no distance of time or place or alteration and change of condition every impaired in the least that duty and affection you had for her. How cheering every letter from you was to her we all know.
Now we must express our love to her that she is gone. In the case of Nany whom I may say was the only burden upon His spirits, but she doubted of neither you nor me if we were spared. I hope we shall all act under this trial with that spirit of which mother gave the highest proof under all which changes and trials of her life.
The assurance of God ordering the time and circumstances of our life and death with the hope of the resurrection of the dead is the most noble and triumphant foundation of resignation and the knowledge of which as well as the way of attaining that blessing is entirely owing to our blessed saviour and his gospel.
In that Kingdom of our God in Heaven, there are many mansions. There we have no ground to doubt by the grandmother and grandchild are happily met, tho never favoured to see one another in the world.
I am, my dearest brother,
your William Wallace