1780 March 29
Jane Attwater, Bodenham, to Thomas and Caroline Whitaker, Bratton, [Wednesday], 29 March 1780.
I thank you Sir for admitting me a place in your paper to speak to my dear absent Friends often as we surround in social chat the chearful fire you [&] my sister are the subject of our discourse & we wish for you to join our little circle but as absence deprives us of that pleasure & we are forbidden to communicate our thoughts to each other in any other way but thro’ ye chanel of paper conveyence why should we not make use of the happy art to speak to those we love or by an assurence of each others welfare I think (If I may judge by [my] own feelings) we shall receive mutual pleasure – I much wish to have a letter from my Dear Sister & to hear that you have regaind your wanted Health & chearfulness – beg you my dear Friend not to cherish that regret & sorrow wch will in time injure your Constitution you say nothing to me so that I am ready to fear your spirits are to much depressd to admit you to write – I sincerely wish you the best of Blessings & was it in my power should rejoice to administer consolation – I tenderly simpathize with you & share your sorrow nor wd I wish to forget the treasure we once possess’d no my sister the unforbiden tear should flow for uncommon merit – ’tis due to humanity – ’tis due to peculiar affection – I wd not wish to see you nor be myself a stoick or possess that apathy wch rendors incapable of knowing either pleasure or pain in its extensive sense but as my dear Silvia once observd “with those keen sensations may we be all resign’d” adore the goodness of our Heavenly Father tho we cannot clearly develop all the dispensations that await us yet we may rest assured that all is ordered in Infinite wisdom & the day the Eternal day approaches when we shall perfectly know those things wch are now hid in darkness & only seen by the sovereign disposer of fortuitous events – in the meantime may [we in] chearful resignation acquiesce with the will of God & trust with fiducial confidence in Him that all shall be ordered for our real good. Sanctified afflictions are great blessings a continued series of prosperity & an accomplishment of all our fond fond wishes are often productive of the worst of consequences – with what submission should we then seek for every temporal good knowing our own shortsightedness we cannot be assured what will be best for us or what will tend most to promote our real welfare be it then our chief concern to secure an Interest in the divine favor then we may rejoice in ye assurence that all shall work together for good we have lately had an awful Instance of mortality a young girl about 18 just in the bloom & vigor of youth who used constantly to attend our Meeting cut off by the fatal distemper the fever – her person was agreeable – her mind tho’ uncultivated by art yet was beautified by virtue & religion. She fell a blooming victim to the powerful hand of Death think of this my dear Sister & behold the Flower arrived to still greater Maturity yet the weeping parents were calld to part with this the prop of their declining years[ – their grief must be great but how does her present Happiness exceed their tenderest sorrow – Let the joy the uninterupted Felicity that await all who sleep in Jesus let a consideration of what such injoy banish every thought of woe & let us look forward with humble hope dilligent preparation & joyful Expectation to that happy period that shall finish our course here & admit us to the assembly of perfect amity to ye Company of our dear Friends & relatives no more to be separated by ye Icy hand of Death nor disturbd by the distructive power of Sin. –
Adieu my dear Sister a letter from you would afford me real Satisfaction. I have dwelt chiefly on ye subject wch I believe to be nearest your heart consequently which is most grateful to your Ear my thoughts are very frequently employd on it nor can I think yours are less so our Dear & hond parent I bless God is tolerable well now & with paternal Affectn often talks of you unites with me in Love & best wishes to you Mr Whitaker & all the dear children I am with sincere affectn
ever yours J Attwater
Text: Attwater Papers, acc. 76, II.B.2.(j.), Angus Library; for an annotated edition of this letter, see Timothy Whelan, ed., Nonconformist Women Writers 1720-1840 (London: Pickering & Chatto, 2011), vol. 8, pp. 154-55. The above letter is attached to a letter by Gay Thomas Attwater, Bodenham, to his cousin, Thomas Whitaker, Bratton, 29 March 1780. Address: Mr | Thomas Whitaker | Bratton | near Westbury Wilts | (pr favour of Mr George Head). Reference is made to the recent death of Caroline’s young daughter, Anne, a foreshadowing of Attwater's own experience in 1809, when her only daughter, Annajane, would die of consumption at the age of sixteen. Poetic line taken from Mary Steele’s poem, "To Myrtilla, 1773."