Yes my dear friend I must write a few lines,
though doubtless you are oppressed with the kindness of friends whose sympathy
shares in your sorrows without being able to mitigate
Truly do I mourn with you
over this second very deep wound
. Both are most mysterious – we must
adore now & we shall understand hereafter.
Mr. Stephen & Lord Teignmouth most feelingly communicated to me the last sad
intelligence. Written a fortnight ago!
Very pleasant were they in their
in their death they were not divided I had looked
to dear Bowdler as one of the principal stays you had to lean upon, a counsellor
& comfort to yourself & a monitor & example to your
But Gods Ways are not as our Ways. Poor dear Mary
Gisborne may He comfort her – no one else can
What an effort my dear
friend did you make to write me those few kind lines.
Mr. Melville – Whom I take to be a son of Lord Leven’s , finished the letter in a way that has
made him Stand high in my opinion. It was written in a fine
will you thank him for me
It would give you a sort of sad consolation to see how every
one who writes to me expresses themselves on the Subject of your beloved
makes even Lord Gambier eloquent.
Dunn who has been staying with us is always sublime
From men like these who could judge & feel his Merit one expected it but I was
pleased with an expression of the General feelings in more ordinary Men living in
the turmoil of trade which is apt to blunt the feelings, but whose Shop is crowded
with the first sort of Men.
I mean my
bookseller, Cadell, who writes thus ‘The death
of your distinguished friend has excited a sensation of grief, more general
& distressing than we remember to have witnessed’
This was said of the feelings of the world at large – my other letters being from
religious men. Said no more than was expected of them.
truly anxious about your health. Grace may enable you to subdue your mind but I
fear Your body will not be so submissive.
Every time you look on your
sweet children, this duty will be pressed homeward to you – in a way you will not
able or willing to resist. I know not yet whether you have returned to
Clapham. The events of these last three Weeks form the
Chief Subject of our conversation. I think much of you – at a time when I hope you
are not thinking of yourself – in the dead of night – for my nights are in general
We have paid to our departed friend the tribute of
wearing mourning – it is nothing to the dead, but may testify to the living who
are about us, our reverence for exalted piety & virtue.
friends have been very kind, they are naturally so full of their own sorrows that
is some time since I have heard especially of you.
Will you let one
of the little ones Send a line to say ‘Mama is better or
Poor Wilberforce he has lost a great part of himself – his right-hand in
all great & useful measures, heavily indeed will he go down to the
House of Commons without his ‘own peculiar friend’.
We all unite in prayers for your peace & comfort. May you continue to enjoy those
divine consolations which you have so graciously & so largely experienced – is
the Earnest prayer of my very dear friend
The letter is dated based on the reference to John Bowdler’s death, which occurred
in February 1815.
Mary Gisborne had been John Bowdler’s fiancee.
Lord Leven was uncle to Marianne Sykes Thornton’s children through his marriage to
Jane Thornton, Henry’s sister. Mr. Melville (there were five Melville sons) was a
first cousin to the Thornton children.
Wilberforce and Thornton had been close friends for many years, having lived together
as bachelors and helping each other find and develop their Christian faith. After
their respective marriages they and their families had remained emotionally as well
as physically near.