Written by: Jan – Volunteer
One day while assisting in the Collections department, I came across a letter that was dated June 24th 1827. It had been written in pen, in iron gall ink and the lettering was so beautiful, so flowing and consistent throughout the three pages, I just knew I had to read it. That proved to be a bit tricky since the letter had a tiny piece missing and was quite faded, but I was determined.
The gist of the letter from I. Marshall was a farewell letter to a friend, Thomas Mildeal (as best I could determine) about to leave Scotland for America.
At first I thought this letter was from a female, it was passionate “I only wish that I was your companion in your undertakings through productivity or adversity. I could endure either with fortitude…..” I pictured a young woman with tears in her eyes, pacing the floor, dreading her lover was leaving without saying goodbye.
Upon further reading, perhaps the writer had been a male friend, somewhat envious of his friend’s future adventure. “you will feel not a little embarrassed in mind at parting with all your friends” and “if any of your acquaintances was going with you, to help pass away the dreary hours, I may say, of solitary confinement while on board” and “ to take the last fairwell (sic) after a glass of mountain due” (mountain due refers to Scotch)
In any event, this was an old friend “one whose attachment of long admiration has been so unabating” and this friend was sincere in wishing Thomas good fortune. The closing lines read as follows:
“Fare thee well and if forever
Still forever fare thee well
I only know we love in vain
I only feel – farewell, farewell”
I enjoyed this project that I had set for myself, and hope to work on similar projects in the future.