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the Hindoo mythology, and that you [will] be pleased at finding his elegant pen employed in giving that mythology an English dress.
Please to make my respects to the General and to the Major and his family. It is not from forgetfulness if we do not communicate oftener. I am, Madam, with perfect respect Your most obedient servant
The passion flower which I undertook to preserve was lost. I then desired Mrs. Craigie to preserve one, and she undertook it I have sent to her this afternoon for it but she has forgot, what book she put it in, but has promised to look for it and send it here. She was sorry for having mislaid it.
SAMUEL LATHAM MITCHILL TO MERCY WARREN
WASHINGTON, Novr. 28, 1808
MADAM, As one of the joint committee appointed by the two houses of congress to provide books for their Library, I do myself the pleasure of acknowledging the receipt of your history of the rise, progress and termination of the American revolution. By some oversight of the committee, it had happened, that your excellent performance had not been purchased. It has therefore arrived in good season and is the more acceptable to us. And they who search this collection, for the history of their country, will be sure to find the Volumes of Mrs. Warren on the same shelf, with those of Gordon, Ramsay and Marshall.
Permit me to assure you of my high and sincere respect. SAM. L. MITCHILL
JAMES WINTHROP TO MERCY WARREN
CAMBRIDGE, II Decr., 1808
MADAM, Tho' nothing is to be expected from me, on the melancholy occasion of the death of a friend,1 which is not already 1 General Warren died at Plymouth, November 27, 1808.
familiar to your own mind, yet as novelty is not always to be steered for, but the satisfaction of comparing ideas, and being reminded by our friends of the consolations, which we have administred to others in affliction, I hope you will not consider my condolence as impertinent. It is impossible that the habitual exchange of good Offices between you and General Warren, which continued for half a century, with unremitted attention on both parts, should now be suspended, without your feeling an important loss of happiness. Though we all admit that the necessity of parting with our friends must at some time or other operate, yet we are seldom prepared to say, that now is the right time. But let us endeavor to satisfy ourselves, upon almost any supposition, that a different time would be better, and we shall find so much greater inconveniences staring us in the face, as to oblige us to relinquish our amendment, and to confess that Providence has contrived the event better for us than we could for ourselves and that he does not willingly afflict his children. When we consider how soon the services of a valuable man are forgotten, even by those who knew him in his best days, we can hardly form a wish, that a friend should outlive his usefulness, and should for any length of time survive that energy of mind, which made us respect him. This is an inconvenience necessarily attached to extreme old age. On the other hand, it is exceedingly grievous to lose a friend in the vigor of life, and while there was a prospect of many years usefulness to others, and of enjoyment to himself. Between these extremes is the case before us. Having lived in times that required uncommon exertion, and acquitted himself with honor, having without any remarkable decay of either body or mind surpassed the age which even but few attain, he died peaceably in the bosom of his family, wept by them, and regretted by his other friends. If death can ever be a kindly visitant, it must I think be in such circumstances. I am sensible that at the first stroke, feelings must have their way, but if we can for a moment interrupt grief by the suggestions of reason, or the still more consoling prospects of another life, every succeeding effort will be better than the former, and the mind becomes tranquillized under our loss. I know that to press these things upon your well regulated mind, would not only
be impertinence but folly in me. You have so often been called by the loss of very valuable friends to fortify your mind, You are so well instructed in the doctrines of the bible, and in the principles and hopes of Christianity, that while you consider the parting of friends as an evil, you find it diminished by the idea of its being temporary. "We shall rest for a season, and stand in our lot in the latter days." Tho' death is the last enemy that will be overcome, yet he must at last submit, and we trust that ourselves with many who have gone before us, will have the benefit of the promise.
I trust you have seen a tribute of respect to the memory of the General in last Thursday's Chronicle. It would have found its way there sooner, if I had not expected it from some other quarter. My respects to your sons and connections. I am Madam with perfect respect Your most obedient Servant
For a rarity this letter was written without the aid of glasses and revised with them.
HARRISON GRAY OTIS TO MERCY WARREN
BOSTON, 4 feby., 1809
MY DEAR AUnt, - If I could allow the right of any person to interrogate me as to "what I am about," you may well suppose that there is no individual of your political party, whom I would prefer for a confessor to your much respected self. But it certainly must occur to you that if I have really turned conspirator against the State, I ought not to put it even in your power to hang me; nor even to write a letter which under the present arbitrary government, might by a forced construction, if found by accident, be construed into evidence of treason. Your enquiry therefore if it extends to my secret machinations, you must permit me to decline, and if it applies only to my overt acts, it is superfluous, as they will appear on record in the public and political bodies with which I am associated.
1 December 8.
To be serious, my dear Aunt, my respect and affection for you, are so utterly at variance with the political views and party attachments which to my great sorrow and mortification, you have been led to embrace; that I have for twenty years, studiously evaded all discussions of the last, lest the former might be brought into jeopardy. And from this determination I cannot consent to be diverted, at this late period of your existence, when my duty and your afflictions equally require, that all the sentiments which I have an opportunity to express to you, should breath nothing but tenderness consolation, and respectful love. To mingle with these the acidulating, corrosive ingredients of political creeds, would be to turn the milk of human kindness into poison. I will not engage in such a process. I will not disturb the vale which is consecrated to repose, and bedewed with sorrow, by the noisy echos of party disputes. I will not agitate the groves of cypress and weeping willows by the noise and bustle of excited passions. When I enter these retirements I will put off my shoes. When I write to them my letters shall not be bearers of the "fierce debate and tart reply," but so far as depends on me, they shall be the messengers of affection and of peace.
It was my firm intention to have made you a visit soon after the death of my uncle, but I have been constantly overwhelmed with the concerns of others from which I have not been at liberty to escape. Whether I live in vain or even worse than in vain, I can truly say, I have not yet had a chance of living much for myself, nor for the pleasures and advantages of sweet communion with any particular connections. I sometimes am so sanguine as to hope that these blessings are not forever alienated from me even in this world, but the hours fly, and my white hairs become daily more discernible.
My family all unite with me, in the sincere assur[ance] of regard and duty to you and yours, with w[hich] I am, dear Madam, Your dutiful Nephew,1
H. G. OTIS
1 A letter from Elbridge Gerry to Mrs. Warren, June 5, 1809, is in 5 Collections, IV. 498.
JAMES WINTHROP TO MERCY WARREN
Sept. 4, 1809
MADAM, -When I wrote last, and to which your very polite answer of 19 Aug. has been received, I did not mean to waste any of your time in wandering through the mazy nonsense of heathenism, but only to suggest that in the origin of society consecration to religious uses was one of the arts used to preserve useful knowledge and useful things from being destroyed by an unthinking people. The consecration lasted in many cases longer than the reason on which it was founded. Many useful improvements were preserved among the Hebrews by being applied to the service of the tabernacle. Now in a cultivated state of Society it would be superstitious to accumulate things of the kind in churches, when there are so many reasons for preserving them in other places. Hence I rather consider the heathen idolatry, as exceeding the reason on which it was founded, and lasting much longer than any consecration reasonably required. Some things in it were too gross to admit even of this palliation and we can only say with the Apostle, that they were times of ignorance. Since the Gospel has appeared and brought with it light to all nations, this ignorance has been gradually decreasing, and I think we stand a good chance to see the bible universally allowed to be preached in all countries. The vast extension of European Colonies within a few years past, and the pains taken to distribute the bible in the native language of each country are circumstances which promise speedily to realize the Universality of the Gospel.
I am a little apprehensive that the passion flower suffered on its journey. It is very tender, and is hardly ever, when left upon the vine, found expanded on the second day. If any body in Plymouth has Martyn's botany, there is an handsome figure of it, and if the plates are colored, as is sometimes the case, It is a good likeness.
My Brother's catalogue 1 is not sent to the press and it seems to me that he aims at an ideal perfection which prevents us from having it at all. He is now gone to Brunswick commencement. You must not let any despondency cloud the evening of
I William Winthrop and a manuscript catalogue of Harvard graduates.