Francis Eppes to William E. Eppes

My Dear Willy

I can hardly explain to myself how it has happened that I shld so long have delayed writing, but so it is, and I find there is not a very distant prospect of my entering into another year without a line sent to acknowledge yr. last kind favours. All that I can plead is that I have been unusually troubled in these hard times, when all but the rich in gold & silver find, it difficult to provide any but the commonest things of life! Add to that an over anxious mind about the things that are coming to pass, and a crippled hand, whc causes me to write still with difficulty, and I believe you have the ‘sum totum’ of obstacles. But I repent & will try to do better. I was glad to learn by yr. last that Em. & you and the children are doing so well, in the great blessing of health, and quiet. what blessing so great as peace? He only who has seen trouble, or been threatened with it, can tell. I am sure you would both have thought so, if you had been with me a few mornings ago. A poor lady & daughter, just arrived from Port-Royal, sent for me to advise her in her great distress. She had just escaped with the loss of her plantation and 60 slaves, & her crop, & brought only her house servants 12 in no. with her. Her only son had gone to manassus, & having no male protector she was unable to save her property from the destroyers, & so in her old age is reduced to poverty; but her greatest distress seemed to be that she cannot now provide, for four little orphan children thrown upon her care just at this time, by the death of her daughter & son in law. she seemed indeed greatly distressed, but in the midst of it all, I could see that she felt & possessed, a quiet trust in God that was worth more than she had lost. There was a sweetness, & dignity, & patience, in her bearing, that was truly touching. Having formerly been intimate with her husband (whom you recollect in by gone years—Old Mr Verdier) the old lady addressed me with the cordiality of an old friend. She much resembles in appearance & manners, your own sainted Aunt Lucy. When we remember that this is only one of the sad instances occurring through the length & breadth of our land, it is but natural, to look upon the Still unbroken circles of family love as peculiarly blessed of the Lord—and long may yours still so continue, my dear Will. I have often thought of yr present peace, & contrasted it with what might have been, had you followed the bent of inclination & landed yourself & little ones again in Arkansas—or left them to take care of themselves, and gone to minister to the Spiritual wants of the suffering soldiers. If you keep up with the news, you must know how dreadful the condition of affairs is now on the border states to the West; & I infer from what I have heard of the personal experience of several chaplains, that the little good whc they can do is more than counterbalanced, by the effects of the blasphemy & intemperance to which they are the unwilling witnesses. May the Lord preserve you from such an undertaking. I suppose you have heard of Jacks return. His position was a peculiar one, & he thought he was justified in resigning. Since his return the Governor has given him the appointment of Pay-master General, & his situation is much improved by it. I have obtained also an appointment for Nic. in the State, but am doubtful whether he will be permitted to return. I have just heard from Nic. and he is quite well. John & Josephine will be hear here tomorrow. Jeff left us about a week ago & was quite well. By the way, Bettie informs me that you have as a neighbour the son of an old friend & relation of mine, Dr Trist. His mother & I were born in the same house, four weeks apart, and are the children of sisters, and were playmates the greater part of childhood; and there are not many in the world that I love more. His Father too and I are, old friends & acquaintances. As he has emigrated to the south I hope I may some day have the pleasure of meeting him. Tell him if he ever comes in striking distance he must come & stay with me. He is not aware I dare say, that I have been in some sort a patient of his. I met in the Am. Med. Journal, an article of his on the treatment of Rheumatism by the magneto-Electric fluid & procured a double current battery from N. York, & not only relieved my self but some others from several violent [. . .] attacks of Rheumatism with it—and that when nothing else would afford relief.

Well my dear Will, I rejoice that you & Em. & the wee-bit ones are secure, & removed from Wars & Warrs alarms. Here we might be forced to leave any day, for there are constant ‘rumours of War,’ & theres no telling, when a ‘raid’ from our coast may come off. John & Fann have sat down cozily in the country & the rest of the Home folks are well & send love to you & Em. Kiss Matie & the rest Clee, & Frank, for me & talk to them of Big pa sometimes—May the Lord bless you & yours dear Will—yrs affly

F. Eppes

The Bp sends kind regards. Remember me to Sarah & Ellick

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