Francis Eppes to William E. Eppes

My dear Will

Since the recpt of yours conveying to us the sad news of the loss of your little innocent, I have been much hindered and so have not replied as soon as I desired to do, but I am consoled in the disappointment by the reflection that nothing that I could say, could in any wise strengthen the calm resignation & sorrow full of blessed hope, which you express. I know what you feel my dear Will, for I have passed through the same fiery ordeal, and I who have felt both can tell you that there is no other loss like it, save one—the wife of your own bosom; and humbly and gratefully do I feel that there is but one Comfort in both, in calm surrender to God, and undoubting belief that His will, is best. There is no comfort but this. And well do I know that you feel it, and are built upon its truth. May the Lord make you to know & feel more & more its blessed import. You ask me to pray for you. Oh my dear son since your dear mothers death, the charge she left me has been the burden of my prayers, that I might however feebly supply her place to you all—and for long, long years not a day has passed over my head that has not seen each one of my children, borne by name morning and evening before the throne of grace—that the merciful Lord our Heavenly Father would cause His Holy Spirit to strive with each one of you however unworthy until you were made forever His—that not one of you might be lost—that we may all meet again, around our Fathers throne, and make one happy family in Heaven. And since you have dedicated your all to the Lords service, how earnestly have I prayed, that you might be faithful—full of love & good fruits—not a sectarian, but loving to all ‘who love the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity’—and that you might have grace to win many souls to Christ, in every portion of the Lords vineyard that you may be called to labour. May the prayers be answered but no one can tell until that great day which shall uncover the secrets of all hearts what the result will be. But I humbly hope & trust that however weak & sinful my performances may be the Lord in his mercy will accept the earnest desire to serve Him with which His love has filled the heart of his poor erring servant. We are but unprofitable servants dear Will & although we do our best do but our duty—the longer I live the more I feel it.

The Rev. Mr E. and the Bp. being away I went to hear bro. Debose & what subject think you greeted my ears—the doctrine of imputation! and a hard statement of it. But the preacher was earnest & eloquent & I gathered from his context that he differs more from the Bible teaching more in statement than in thought. On the whole I was pleased & liking the man so much, derived more profit perhaps, than I might otherwise have done. John & Jeff. & Josephine went over last week to St. Augustine, the last to remain some time the others to return on Saturday next. Theo. & child are still in Jefferson. John Craig Fann & Bett left for Athens on the 2d I tried to persuade John to pay you a visit, & to extend his visit to the falls. I am sure I shld prefer such a trip to a sojourn among the fashionables, at the Springs. And I think were it not for the staging he would adopt the suggestion. Jane is well now—but has been suffering much of late. Rea & Ma. send much love with us all to you & Em. & Carrie says ‘tell bro. Will I want him to come up here & if he dont I wont go to see him.’ Frank & Nic are in their usual good health & Vierge—all send love to you & the children & Em. No news here but of War, War, War. Genl. Whit Smith has just had quite a success at Cedar Keys. With a small Steam Boat, he captured 4 loaded Schooners (one of ours with 15 prisoners recaptured, loaded with RR Iron) & has sent the crews & their Capt. Lieut Selden to this place. The men are in Jail now, guarded by our volunteers & the Lieut is at large on parole. Selden is a Virginian & a relation of Col. Gamble! He was on board the Massachusetts that captured our vessel, near the mouth of the Mississipi, & was on his way to Key West with his prizes, when he was arrested by the Cedar Key boys. St. Marks is effectually blockaded now by the mohawk, and our companies from this place & vicinity are alternately at Ft. Williams, watching her motions. There is much talk of an invasion here in the fall, but I cannot believe the War will last much longer than that, for I think that one or two sound drubbings at the hands of our able generals & brave boys in Va will set the yankees to calculating the gains of a peaceful recognition, and the certain & ruinous losses of the contrary course in a protracted war. I almost dread to hear of the sanguinary battle that must follow the first contact between Johnson & Cadwallader, whc reached us only yesterday. If the yankees do not run too fast they will be “River-carried-away” in their own blood—

Dear love to Em. & a kiss for Matie & the little ones. Tell Matie not to forget Big. Pa. May the Lord bless & keep you all, is the fervent prayer of yr father—ever & affly yrs

F. Eppes
RC (Poplar Forest: Moss Collection of Eppes Letters).