Mary Cummin's

Letters home to Lisburn

Edited by Jimmy Irvine 1982


Letter 22 Letter 23 Letter 24 Letter 25 Letter 26 Letter 27 Letter 28 Letter 29

Letter No. 21

  My dear Father,

December 20th, 1813. 
I embrace with pleasure another opportunity of writing to you, although the long letter which I wrote to Margaret last month has not left this country yet. I am sure my dear friends have been anxious about me for some time past, as I did not write for some months, owing to my bad health, but I have now the happiness of telling my dear Father I have got the better of all my complaints except a little fever now and then, which does not signify. Last week I was able to walk into Petersburg. We had a dinner-party yesterday and one the week before, this is to tell you I am able to run about as usual. William never enjoyed better health than he has done for the last twelve months, he is now very busily engaged buying tobacco to have ready to ship off when peace comes. When the much-wished-for event will take place it would be difficult to say. William thinks the war cannot continue much longer, we have all been anxiously expecting news from Washington for the last few days about the embargo, which Jimmy Madison wishes to lay on, but I trust most sincerely he and his party will be, disappointed in this as well as in many other of his schemes. (I am not afraid of this letter being opened, so that I make a little free with the old gentleman's name). The embargo has passed the House of Representatives on Wednesday last and the Senate have been debating on it ever since with closed doors. I hope to-morrow's mail will bring us the joyful news of their having rejected it.

Any event that in the smallest degree would hasten our return to my native country I wish for.

Men, women, and children are all politicians in this country, politics is the general topic of conversation among the gentlemen and even of the ladies of this place. Some of the females of my acquaintance are most violent democrats. I say nothing, but I assure you I do not feel pleasant when I hear old England spoken of disrespectfully. I have been very anxious for some time past for a letter from home. The last l had washout Rachel dated June. I am sure you have written to me often since that time, and I hope very soon to receive a large packet from home. I wrote to James Craig and to Mary Cumming last month, I had along letter from James at the time I received Rachel's. I wish I could think of some news that would entertain my dear Father, but I have been so little abroad lately that I fear I have not got any worth mentioning, but to me the most trivial circumstance that occurs at Strawberry Hill is interesting, so that as I have got nothing better I shall tell you anything that comes into my head, and think I am talking to you. How much I wish that I really was, and that happy time I hope is not very far distant. I know William will make outstay here at short as he possibly can, and if peace will be brought about soon I think we would take our departure from this country shortly after. I dread the summers we have. However we will leave this place early next Fall, and stay away during the sickly season, I hope we will travel northwards. I would like to spend some time in Baltimore and Philadelphia. If we do not go this route we intend going to some of the Springs which are very much frequented in the Fall. It is difficult to say what may take place before next summer, I have met with so many disappointments of late that I do not plan schemes of future happiness with the same hopes of success that I once did. However I try to hope for the best, but like Burns, some of my best laid schemes have gone "aftagley", and left me nought but "grief and pain for promised joy", but I still enjoy so many blessings that I must be resigned and hope for better days. I experience so much kindness from my dear William that I get over other disappointments far better than I would otherwise do. There are a few lines in Cowper's "Timepiece" which I admire very much, they are these:

"Happy the man who sees a God employed
In all the good and ill that chequer life".

William has begun to read Wilsons "Egypt" to me, I think it entertaining, but I always liked poetry better than prose, indeed I hope to acquire a better taste for history than I have at present. William is very fond of it, and remembers all he reads. I suppose you amuse yourselves in the winter nights at home in the same manner we used to do. How I wish we could join the happy party once more. William has got his early crop of potatoes put in a month ago. He will have peas sown the first week in January. Our garden produces very fine vegetables, and we have hired a gardener for the ensuing year, who will find constant employment, so that we will have everything in the nicest order, and I hope to make a great deal of money by the produce of our garden, for we cannot use one quarter of the vegetables and fruit which we raise, so that we send a quantity to market every morning. I generally receive from three shillings to four-and-six a day, which is my money. When Mrs. Bell lived here she once told me she made forty dollars by her asparagus alone. Almost everyone who has a garden raises vegetables for market and some make very large sums of money.

We have three cows, I intend vealing all my calves this year, and laying out my money in the purchase of tobacco, which I will have shipped off the first opportunity, so you see I mean to become merchant. William sometimes buys twenty hogsheads a day, he bought two last week which he says were the best he ever had, and paid a hundred dollars apiece for them. Some are to be had for forty dollars, but if this dreadful embargo passes it will be a terrible thing for us merchants.

I send you some althea and clematis seed which I wish you to plant somewhere in the garden, I suppose you know the althea, it is a pretty flowering shrub and seems to be very hardy, the flower is of different colours sometimes white.

The clematis I never remember seeing in, Ireland, I think it very handsome, it should be planted against a frame, in order to allow the stems to run up. It has a delicate little white blossom, and when that withers it assumes a beautiful silky appearance and remains so for a length of time. Walter Scott in the "Lady of the Lake" speaks of the clematis and "virgin's bower" as being the same plant, but he is wrong, for we have both in the garden, the latter is very much prized here, and is raised from slips. It is also a kind of vine, and bears a larger flower resembling the blue lupin. I shall try to get some seed next year and send it to you, for I have heard it will grow from seed, but there is one shrub in the garden which I admire more than all the rest, this is the Venetian sumac or sultan's feather. It grows to a considerable size and when in flower has an appearance which I cannot well describe. The flower is large and is something like a beautiful feather but is of so light and delicate a texture that at a little distance you would think there was a cloud over the tree. It is very difficult to propagate but I believe it can be raised from layers. The magnolia is grown very much since we came here, but I never expect to see it in flower.

Our orange tree is loaded with fine looking fruit just now, the lemon tree has not so much. We have a kind of green-house under the back portico which does to keep them in during the winter. Mrs. Bell had excellent taste for gardening and spared no expense when she lived here in procuring all kinds of rare plants and shrubs, but she liked to keep all of this description to herself and could not bear to part with anything which she thought curious. When she went to Richmond she took a quantity out of the garden and since that time Mr. Bell wished to have the magnolia removed, but I would not part with it, for she told me in case we came here to live it should not be taken away and here it shall now remain as long as I stay. She has got no less than five layers from it and with these I think she maybe satisfied. I do not like such selfishness. I am raising a layer from it now for Mr. Freeland. Mrs. Bell had got a slip of the ivy which is prized very much here but before she went away had taken great pains (the gardener told William) to have it all rooted up for fear we should have any of the highly-valued plant, but as bad luck would have it some little bit of root remained which has since sprung up nd is growing so well that in another year I expect it will cover a frame which William is at great pains training it against. I wish when you write you would send me a few seeds of the board-leafed laburnum, I have not seen that kind in this country, indeed the common sort is very rarely to be met with, and is very much admired. We have a pretty winter flower called the India plant which blossoms when the frost makes its appearance, its colour is deep scarlet and when seen glittering with the frost looks very beautiful. It is raised from the root. When I leave this country I will endeavour to take some roots with me, the moss rose is invaluable here-and is seldom to be met with, I have not seen the auricula. I send you a flower of my own drawing, taken from one a lady lent me I have not met with the flower itself but have a great curiosity to see it. I am told it grows wild in some parts of Virginia, sometimes the flower is of the purest white, at others it is slightly tinged with pink. I fear my dear Father will be quite tired reading this long epistle, but I almost think I am talking to you. I hope you will all write very often to me, I shall let no opportunity escape me. Our weather till within these few days past has been remarkably dry and pleasant, now there is a deep snow on the ground, the air piercing cold, but this sort of weather agrees best with me. I know you will be pleased to hear I have got on flannel waistcoat and socks, which I find a great comfort. I do not know what we will do if the war lasts much longer, every article of imported goods is three times the price it used to be. We have now to pay five and three pence a yard for common printed calico, provisions are to be had as usual. I wish I could send you some of our fine flour, and some hams. We have got eighteen hogs lately, and will get more after Christmas. This is a troublesome business, but we cannot avoid it. I will not close this letter till William returns from town, I wish to tell you there is no embargo. William is returned, and brought the unwelcome news of the embargo having passed into a law, I do not know when I was so much disappointed, but I fear I will not hear of many opportunities of writing, but you must not be uneasy at not hearing often from me. I shall let no chance escape me of sending my letters and perhaps there may be cartels 1 going now and then. I hope you will continue to send yours to W. Brown. Mr. Cumming has heard often from him lately, indeed I have often been much disappointed when he would receive letters from him and none for me.

I hope my dear Father will write soon, it will be twelve months next March since your last letter was dated. William thinks the embargo will be continued till peace can be brought about. Jimmy Madison 2 has got his wish now, and a nice situation the country is in at present. After all, I see no people so happy nor no government so good as my own. They talk of this being a land of liberty and such stuff, but in my opinion it is not so much so as Great Britain.
Tell my dear Margaret it is a long time since I had a letter from her. I was very much pleased with Rachel's improvement in writing. William joins me in wishing you all health and happiness, and that we may all meet once more is the constant prayer of

Your ever affectionate           
Mary Cumming.
I wish you may all spend a happy Christmas. "Remember me".
Rev. A. Craig.
Co. Antrim.
via Louisiana

1 Cartels were ships employed in the exchange of prisoners.
2 See letter No. 11, note I.

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Letter No. 22

January 2, 1814

Many many happy returns of the year to my dear Margaret, and all the beloved inmates of Strawberry Hill. When or how this letter will be sent I know not, but as I intend it shall be a very long one I will write a little now and then till I hear of an opportunity of sending it. Occasionally I think of something which I wish to tell you, of which I forget when I am in haste to send off my letter. I wrote a very long letter to you in the beginning of November which has not left this country yet, and another to my Father last month which I expect he will receive before you get yours, as I sent it by another conveyance.

I have been very anxious to hear from home for a long time, and indeed if I did not know that vessels at this season of the year have sometimes very tedious passages I should be very uneasy. The last letter I had from home was from Rachel, dated June. The one she said you had written to me at the same time has not come to hand yet. Before I finish this letter I hope I shall have the happiness of telling you I have received a packet from Ireland. I am now so well that I was able to be at no less than two balls last week, one of them was at Major Taylor's, a very near neighbour of mine, the other was a public one held at the hall which is within a hundred yards of us. I danced a little but I have not the pleasure now I once enjoyed in that amusement. I get so soon tired owing to my want of strength that it is rather a toil for me to go through a reel, and I feel more pleasure to sit and look at others than to join them in the dance. "How you are changed" you will say, but believe me I have no idea my dancing days are over. When I go home you will see me I hope as active on the floor as ever. I do not like the reels they dance here, it is the same or nearly the same figure over and over again. They seem to me to pay no attention to the music and begin at the last of the line as soon as at the beginning. Country dances are not much liked here. In Richmond and the Northward cotillions are the most favoured dances, balls are always well attended and young and old join in the dance. It would amuse you to see Mrs. Moore going through a reel, she is an uncommonly large woman, dresses very gay, and seems to enjoy herself more than anyone I know. The American ladies in general dress very well, a good deal in the French style, which I do not admire. There are a number of very pretty girls in Petersburg, most of the American ladies I have seen are remarkably fair, with scarcely any colour, owing to the warmth of the climate, I suppose. My sweet little Agnes Freeland is an exception, she is as blooming as any Irish girl, she has beautiful hair and dark eyes, I have not seen her here so often of late, owing to her mother's health, which I am sorry to say is very bad. She is now confined to bed, and lam very much afraid her disease will end in a consumption. She has been long threatened with it, and she has met with so many misfortunes lately that I fear it has increased the complaint. Within the last year she lost her husband and an only sister. Mr. Freeland died very suddenly, her sister (who was a charming woman) died a few hour after the birth of her boy. Mrs. Freeland has an uncommonly strong mind, but I fear her health will suffer, I do not know what I would do if I was to lose her, she says she looks on me as if I was her daughter and she has always treated me as if I was really so, but I hope from my heart she will soon get better, I cannot bear to think of losing her. I have attended four funerals since I came to this country, I believe. The persons all died during the last year, they were all acquaintances of ours, and what is singular, all Scotchmen. I like the manner that funerals are conducted here very much, I think they are extremely solemn and impressive. It is a mournful subject, but as this is Sunday I will therefore tell you as well as I can how they are arranged. The day after the decease of the person their friends send notes to as many of their acquaintance as they wish to attend, mentioning at what hour the funeral will take place. The ladies all go in carriages, the men on horseback, when you get to the house every place looks mournful, the coffin put on a large table in the middle of the room, covered with white, the ends tied with black, all the pictures and mirrors are covered in like manner. When all the company have assembled the clergyman reads the funeral service, which is altogether the most affecting scene I have witnessed these many years. After he has finished six of the deceased's most particular friends bear the coffin to the hearse, the company attend to the place of interment, all alight and proceed to the graveyard where the clergyman again delivers a short prayer over the spot. No person could possibly help being affected during this solemn scene. 

There is always a quantity of what is called funeral cake, made on the occasion. II is like our Naples biscuits, each piece is rolled up in mourning paper and sealed with black. I think this a curious custom, even the baskets which it is handed round in are all coveted with white. I shall now bid my dear Margaret adieu for the present. 

Thursday January 6th

I again take up my pen to have a little conversation with my dear Margaret, and to tell her we have all been on the tiptoe of hope and expectation for these last few days past. A cartel has arrived at Annapolis and brought a messenger from the British Government, who is now at Washington. The general opinion is that the message is of a pacific nature and that peace is not tar distant. From my soul I hope it is not. William is in fine spirits at the good news. If it does take place I think I shall see my beloved friends sooner than I once expected. Do you know I am going to commence tobacco merchant? William gave me for my Christmas gift a quantity which I intend shipping off when peace takes place. If I succeed in my first attempt I shall go on in the same manner till I return to Ireland. William and myself were talking of a plan if we should have peace which he would advise my Father to think of. It is for him to get James Cunning or some other person to purchase some fine and coarse linens, send them to W. Brown of Liverpool to be shipped to America. William will sell them for him and if he pleases lay the proceeds out in tobacco so that if all would turn out well my Father would make by both purchases. William says if we had peace many merchants will be ruined, some have speculated very largely in tea and sugar when both articles had got an exorbitant price in expectation that the war would last a long time. I am glad to say William never thought it would last very long. I have the happiness of telling you Mrs. Freeland is much better since I wrote last and I trust will soon be quite well. My acquaintance is now very numerous indeed, my health has been so bad lately that I have not been able to visit any except my most particular friends. There are about eight families with whom I am very intimate, and those are quite enough for me. I do not care for a large circle of acquaintances, a great many of wham I do not care for. Several of my most intimate friends are as elegant accomplished women as I ever met with, so much so that I can find no fault with them, but I must give you some description of Mrs. Taylor, a lady who visited me about a twelve month ago, and who is my nearest neighbour, as I have got nothing better at present to tell you. Perhaps it may amuse you. You must not say I am satrical, I shall not exaggerate nor "set down aught in malice". Often before I had the pleasure of knowing this lady I had heard of her. I was told she was extremely lively, witty, and sensible, keen in her remarks, and will have her laugh no matter at whose expense. From these accounts I thought I should feel rather afraid of her, but my opinion changed the first time she came to see me, I found her lively, cheerful, and agreeable, seemed very desirous.

I really think this long epistle will try your patience, but I wish you to send me one just as long. Peace is still spoken of as not being far off, I feel quite anxious now for William's return to hear all the news. If we have peace he will make a very handsome sum of money by a purchase of flour which he bought the other day, it was quite a sudden thought; he had heard some report of the good news, and therefore bought eight hundred barrels of flour at four dollars and a half a barrel. This was lower than it. has been here for a long time, and yesterday he would have got six for it. If we have peace it will be up to eight or nine dollars, so that at any rate he will make.

I have a delightful plan in view to expend the profits of this little speculation, and if all goes on well I hope to see it accomplished. I wish William to take me on in the gig next summer to Philadelphia, spend some time there, and get the man who made the gig to exchange it for a handsome carriage, as the former is of very little use to us now, since William is so much engaged. I should like to spend some time in Baltimore also. Carriages are very necessary in this country in the Summer to protect you from the immense heat and in Winter from the cold. We have had some piercing weather lately, but I do not mind, as I am always better in cold weather. It is the sudden changes we have which are so injurious. You have not said anything of the Cairds in your letters lately, I hope they are well. I do not know what all the Lisburn girls are about, not a girl of my acquaintance married since I left Ireland. Tell Margaret Byers I have not had a letter from her this long time. J.C. deserves his ears boxed. Oh, my beloved Margaret, how happy we shall all be when I return to Ireland. I suppose Dublin will be our place of residence, and then I will have you and Rachel always with me, or I will be with you. My dear Father must come very often and stay with me. I fancy Rachel will be his housekeeper before that time comes. I should like M. Cumming 1 to be mistress of the house at the bridge, as for Miss Rachel I want her to be planted in Dublin beside me. What do you think of these plans?

This is a great day in Petersburg, the inhabitants are to give a dinner to the volunteers. I was awakened this morning by the firing of cannon, some of the democrats have styled them "the Spartan band." I suppose it will be "Much ado about Nothing". William subscribed, but he would not dine with them. The suppers we have at the public balls are very superb. The ladies never pay, each gentleman's ticket is four dollars, and he may take as many ladies with him as he chooses. I like this plan, it is considered enough for them to honour the balls with their company without paying anything. The girls in general strip very much at these places, the frocks are made very low, without very often a shoulder strap; their hair, ever since I came to this country has been worn in what is called an Indian knot. It is twisted in this form as close to the neck as possible, I did not like this fashion much at first, but I am reconciled to it now. The Americans dress much more in the morning than is customary in Ireland, I have seen ladies fine enough to go into a ball-room paying morning visits. Perhaps this is owing in some measure to their using carriages so much. There is a beautiful kind of silk to be got in this country, called the French Levantine, it is much richer than the English sarsnet, as soon as I have an opportunity I will send you and Rachel frocks of it, for it is not to be had with you. I got a very handsome figured pink one for the last birth-night ball, which I paid fifteen shillings a yard for. Mercy upon us! how the cannons are firing! If they were going to give a dinner to Lord Wellington there could not be a greater fuss. I think they had better not waste any more powder, as they are very often at a short for some when they are fighting. I believe in my soul many Americans wish old England was sunk in the sea, but she will flourish great and free, the dread and envy of them all. 

You cannot conceive how very much my white tippet is admired, it is the only one in Petersburg of the kind. I have told many people how it was done, but they are afraid to begin so troublesome a job. Pelisses of fine cloth trimmed with gold and gold buttons are very much worn here. This I think too showy a dress for the street. I have never seen any velvet as handsome as mine. I send you a little bit of the trimming Agnes Freeland taught me to do. Perhaps Rachel or you will find out the way to do it, it is very easy, but I fear unless you saw it done you will not succeed. However you can try, and I will endeavour to give you the best description of how it is done that I can. You take a piece of cotton (the kind we used to knit with will do) about a yard long, put the one end of it between the first finger and thumb of the left hand, put the thread once around the left hand, and with the right take the other end and work the cotton which is over the left hand something like the way you make a button-hole. When you have about sixteen stitches on try if it will draw, which forms the little loop, which you may make large or small by putting more or less stitches on. The only trouble is to learn to make it draw, which you may be able to find out from what I have said, though I wish I could make it clearer to you. Do not be discouraged if you do not succeed at first, for I am sure I tried forty times before I could get it to draw with me. There area great variety of ways of making it, but this is the most simple kind I have sent you. I will with pleasure teach you all the others when you can do this, but you must learn to make it draw before you can do any kind, It is called tatting and makes a very neat trimming. I have done a great quantity of it. When your cotton gives out you must knot it close to the little loop.

January 9th. Sunday.

This is a very wet day. William is gone to town and I have been engaged writing to Mr. Gilmour. We had a snow storm last week, but if this rain continues it will soon disappear. I did a little bit of the tatting last night, which I send you, you will find if you draw the long end of the cotton which I have left it will form the little loop. This trimming makes a handsome finish to any kind of work, it always looks well round the sleeve or neck of a morning gown. If you cannot find out the manner in which it is done, as soon as I have an opportunity I will send you and Rachel some. Perhaps she could describe something she learned at school to me, so that I could find it out. What pleasure I shall take in teaching my beloved sisters all the little things I have learned during my stay in this country. I never saw such elegant baby-clothes as the ladies make here. I took much pains making mine the last time, but alas! I had no occasion for them. Tatting done with fine cotton looks very well round the ruffle of little shirts. You see I am telling these things as perhaps you may have use for them some time or other. I have got some beautiful patterns for working, which I would like to send you. Does Rachel make her frocks?

And now my beloved Margaret, I shall bid you adieu! having told you everything I could think of, and I hope I may soon receive a letter from you, as long as this is. I shall write to Rachel very soon. God bless you my darling sister, and grant you every happiness, is the sincere prayer of your

Mary Cunning.
William sends a thousand loves to you all.

There is no address written on this letter, nor even a space for one-Editor.


1 Mary Cumming, her sister-in-law

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Letter No. 23.

March 9th, 1814.

  My dearest Rachel,

I embrace with the greatest pleasure another opportunity of writing to my beloved Sister; a cartel is to sail in a few days from New York to Gothenburg1 which will take this letter. I was very disappointed that I did not hear from any of my friends by the "Ann and Alexander," which arrived very lately from Liverpool. William had a letter from his brother James by her. I hope, however, I shall hear from home very soon, as I have not had a letter this long time. The last I received was from Margaret dated in July and September. I hope some of my letters have got to hand before this time, I was very sorry some of them were detained so long after they were sent away. I wrote a very long letter to my dear Margaret in January, which I suppose she will get before this arrives.

I know my dear Sister will be pleased to hear that my health this winter has been tolerably good, I have had a few returns of the ague and fever, and I hope will soon get entirely quit of it. William has not had an hour's sickness these twelve months, he is the picture of health and contentment, for since the good news from England has reached us he has been busily engaged purchasing tobacco, in expectation that peace will take place during the summer; most sincerely I hope it may, for then our return to dear Ireland will be sooner than it otherwise would be. Tobacco has risen in price very much of late, William has sold some here lately for double what he paid for it in the beginning of the winter. He has now more than a thousand hogheads2 on hand, the greater part is his own, the remainder he purchased for Mr. Oliver and Mr. Brown of Baltimore. If he can get this shipped off during the summer all will be well. 

W e propose leaving this place about the beginning of July, and spending a few months in Baltimore, and perhaps going to Philadelphia. I look forward with great pleasure to this jaunt, for though I have so often been disappointed in my plans of happiness yet I still continue to have the same fondness for castle-building which I formerly had, indeed it is a source of great amusement to me in planning my return to my beloved home once more. I very often dream of you all, and my earnest prayer is that I may live to return to Strawberry Hill, and find all its dear inmates well and happy. Mrs. Freeland is much better than she was when I wrote last, Agnes has been ill of the measles lately, she is now recovered, and I expect to have her here next week to stay some time with me. She is nearly about your age, I am sure you would like her very much.

William and I attended the birth-night Ball on the 22nd of last month, I never was at so crowded an assembly in my life, the hall is very large, yet it was so full of company there was hardly room to move; the supper was very elegant, I did not dance much, but was very much diverted with the novelty of the scene. I had the good luck to get beside my lively and entertaining friend, Mrs. Taylor, who by her wit and humour is sure to keep one in good spirits. I fancy I am a favourite of hers, as she is always extremely kind and attentive to me. I was highly diverted with a French gentleman, at the Ball. Mrs. Taylor and myself were chatting together when he came up, to whom he addressed himself, he spoke bad English. "Mrs. Taylor" he began.

"Does you intend dancing any to-night?" She said she believed not. "If you do" he replied, "You had much betterre take care of your toes, for as I was just dancing one reel and not attending very much to mine, a gentleman he first trod on one foot, and just as he was going to ask my pardonne Mr. Cameron he jump on the other one." I cannot write in the manner he spoke, but we were both very much diverted with him. I do not like the reels half as well as the country dances, I hope I shall be able to dance them when I return.

I have been amusing myself lately working caps and vandyles on India book muslin, it is much better than the common kind. I hope I shall soon be able to send you and Margaret some little things of my work.

The garden will soon be in nice order, our peas will soon be two or three inches above the ground. The gardener and old Matt find constant employment. Oh, dearest Rachel, I wish you could see old Matt at his work, he certainly is one of the natural curiosities of the place. Many a time I am diverted with him, his figure and face are very different from any negro I have ever seen, both formed in Nature's roughest mould, and to add another charm to his appearance he has got an old helmet somewhere, which he wears instead of his hat, and altogether you never beheld so comical a. figure as he is. I like him very much, he is perfectly good-natured and obliging.

William gathered a great number of cucumbers one day last summer, which when Matt saw, "Why, Master" he said, "Some of them cucumbers you have pulled have got `fever'," meaning they were too ripe and turning yellow. Jenny expects an increase to her family in Summer, I thought she would not have had any more, as Cora is seven years old, I would rather not have any more children about the house, but these things cannot be helped, and Jenny is a faithful honest creature as can be.

The Petersburg ladies have instituted an asylum, called the "Female Orphan Asylum", for the purpose of educating poor orphans who had no one to take care of them, it is about two years since the commencement of the plan and it seems to have met with great success. They have a President, Secretary, Treasurer, and twelve Directors. There is a meeting of all the subscribers once a year at which time they choose the different officers by votes. This meeting took place on Monday last, at which time I had the honour of being elected one of the Directors. William says I shall soon be a great character in this country.

I am anxiously waiting for another arrival in hopes of getting letters from Ireland, tell Margaret Byers I expect along one from her, I hope she and Miss McCully are well, give my kindest love to them. Do not, my dear Rachel, let any opportunity escape without writing to me, I was very much pleased to see your last letter so well written. Tell my dear Margaret I will expect a very long one from her for the enormous budget I sent her lately. I hope my darling James is well, when you write to him tell him to write a long letter to me. Give my love to Andy and Sally. Do you know I have taken it into my wise head that you will soon be Miss Craig if you are not so already. I am sure my dear James is very handsome young man, how I long to see you all! I wrote along letter to my Father in December, which I hope he will soon receive.

I have been a good deal amused reading the "Orlando Furioso" of Ariosto, Mrs. Taylor lent it to me. Will you ask my Father if he ever met with a book called "Salmagundi", written by three very clever men of New York, but whose names are not known.3 If he has not I will send it to him if I can, for I am sure he would admire it.

William joins me in a thousand loves to you all. God bless you, my dear, dear Sisters, is the sincere prayer of your

Mary Cunning.

I hope Mr. Neely is well, give my kind love to him. I wrote to Mr. Gilmour lately.


Miss Rachel Craig
        Co. Antrim.

1 Under Britain's orders in Council Sweden was me only European country to which ships were permitted to proceed without paying re-export tax. See Letter No. 11 fn. 1.  
2 A thousand hogsheads of tobacco would weigh about 40 tons.  
3 "Salmagundi" was a satirical miscellany written by Washington Irving(1783 - 1859) m conjunction with his brother and J. K. Paulding.


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Letter No. 24

June 4th, 1814 

And can it be possible that my beloved Sister is no longer Margaret Craig? is a question I often ask myself. This happy event I have expected this some time past, and about a week ago I received the long-looked-for letter, telling me you were to change your name in March. I had a letter from you at the same time dated December. Oh, how I long to hear of the wedding, it seems to me so strange that I should not have been with my darling Margaret at that time. Any person who had seen me when I read your letter would have supposed I had heard some very mournful news. I am sure I wept for an hour after it. I cannot account for my being so much affected, for I felt most delighted at your prospect of happiness, and Oh, my beloved Sister, may it be lasting; and exempt from all sorrow, is my sincere prayer. William desires me to give you and my new brother 1I his most hearty congratulations on the joyful occasion. I have not written a letter to you this long time past in such good health and spirits as I am in at present. I know this will give my dear Margaret great pleasure. I have had tolerably good health for some time past and I think it has been much better since I received the last letter from home. You will wonder how it could have such an effect. In the first place I am delighted at my dear Margaret's happiness, but it is the delightful prospect of soon witnessing it that makes my spirits so good and my health better. You must not be too sanguine, for I have a year to stay here yet, but my dear Mr. Cumming has promised to take me home next Spring or Summer, and it is this delightful prospect in view that makes me feel so happy and contented a present. I think of it during the day, and at night it almost prevents me from sleeping. I think the heat will not be so oppressive to me this Summer as I formerly found, I can bear it much better now, as I trust it will be for the last time, and I expect to discover new charms in this country which I have overlooked when I thought of remaining in it for a much longer time. You need not be afraid of my health this Fall, for I mean to ensure it by making my escape from Blandford for three or four months. I am now as busy as possible making preparations for our departure next month, we are going to take a charming excursion, from which I hope to enjoy health and a great deal of pleasure. We propose going to Balltown, 2 a place I suppose you have heard William speak of. It is the most frequented gay place in America for a few months in the year. I shall there drink plenty of Saratoga water, which I have no doubt will complete my restoration, as I have found great benefit from some William had brought in bottles from the Springs. Balltown is six hundred miles from this place. What a journey, my dear Margaret, would this once have appeared to me! Now I think nothing of it. William says my ideas of distance have enlarged since I came to this great country. The truth is, the people here think nothing of travelling five or six hundred miles; however, we shall go a great part of the way by water, which will make the journey much pleasanter. We purpose taking a carriage from this to Baltimore, spending some time there with our friends as we go on, and on our return also. From there we take the steamboat to Philadelphia, staying a few days to see the sights of that delightful place, again go by the same conveyance to New York, where we will remain a short time, and from there go to Balltown. We must return the same way. Do not you think this will be a delightful trip? and I have an idea that in all probability I shall be visiting all these fine places for the last time, which will not render the journey the least affecting to me.

On the contrary, it will add a charm to it. Indeed I often wonder at myself when I look at this charming place, how I can wish so much to leave it, but I do most anxiusly, for it does not possess that first of all blessings - health. I sometimes think that it would be too great happiness for me to see you all well and happy again without some drawback. Oh, Margaret, had my two lovely children been spared to me how proud I would have been to have taken them home, but I must not repine, for I do enjoy so many blessings that I must expect some sorrow.

We have had the greatest profusion of strawberries and cherries this season I ever saw. We shall be away during peachtime, however we shall get finer fruit where we are going. As this letter is to be sent to Boston I shall defer writing to my dear Father and my sweet Rachel till I go to New York or Baltimore. Give my kindest love to them and thank them for writing to me. I know they will see this epistle. Rachel's letter gratified me very much, her hand is so good and the style excellent. How I long to see her fine figure. You must write very often, my dear Margaret, and tell me how you are fixed, etc. I know you will make a good wife. Give my best love to my new brother James, and tell him I think he was very fortunate in getting you, though I say it that should not, and if you live together as happily as William and I do I shall be quite satisfied. Give my kindest love to Miss McCully and Cousin Meg. Tell them I will answer their kind letters very soon. I want very much to be at Meg's wedding.

Tell my Father I hope he will plant a great many potatoes next year, and sow an additional quantity of oats, for I verily believe I will live on these two things when I go home. Oh, that delightful word makes me so happy, I do believe I shall be crazed when I again set foot on Irish ground, the rapture I shall feel in again seeing you all will compensate for all the shaking I have had from the ague.

I am sure my brother James is a fine-looking young man, he must come and see me immediately on my return.

I will not be satisfied till we are all once more under the same roof. Many is the castle I build, I hope they will not all prove without foundation. Give my love to Mrs. J. Ward and Mrs. Telfair. I trust Mrs. Ward will be fortunate this time. Do you go to Strawberry Hill every day? If I lived so near I would be a daily visitor.

The weather has not been very hot as yet, but we may soon expect to be almost fried. Thank Providence it is the last time for me. Rejoiced and happy as I will be to leave America I will feel great regret at parting "to meet no more" with many of the inhabitants of Petersburg, for whom I feel a very great regard. The society is extremely agreeable and I have met with the greatest kindness and attention from my friends here which I will always remember with gratitude.

I suppose Rachel spends a great part of her time with you, she is Miss Craig now. We expect James Cumming here next Fall. I hope to receive a great many letters by him from all at home. I wish he would bring a wife with him. Mr. John Brown of Baltimore went to Ireland not very long ago, and returned home lately with a little Irish girl.3

William joins me in wishing you and your good man every happiness this world can bestow. God bless you, my ever darling Sister, is the prayer of

M. Cunning.

Rev. A. Craig.
        Co. Antrim.

1 In March 1811 Mary's sister Margaret married James Ward of Lisburn. His mother was Margaret, n�e Wightman. elder sister of the John Wightman in whose house Andrew Craig lodged when he first went to Lisburn.
2 Balltown, now Ballston Spa, lies 150 miles up the Hudson River, between Amsterdam and Saratoga Springs.
3 Isabella. daughter of John Patrick of Ballymena, who was both doctor and linen merchant. Dr. Patrick lived in Bridge Street  over his warehouse and consulting roam. c.1840 he purchased Birney's bleachhouse at Dunminning. Cullybackey.


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Letter No. 25

July 24th, 1814.

I embrace with pleasure another opportunity of writing to my beloved Father, to tell him we are in good health and spirits, and ready to sets off this week for the North, there to lay in a store of health for the Winter. I promise myself much pleasure from our jaunt. In a letter I wrote to Margaret in the beginning of June I gave her a description of the route we should take.

The weather this summer has not been so warm as the last, in the early part of the year we had a great deal of wet and cold, and at present everything is burned up for want of rain, at the same time the heat is not half so oppressive as I have felt it, I have not had a return of the ague these many months, and I begin to hope it has taken its departure altogether.

I am very anxious to hear from home again, I want an account of my dear Margaret's wedding, which I suppose has taken place long before this time. I can hardly believe she is no longer an inmate of Strawberry Hill, I am sure you must feel the want of her society very much, but she is so very near you I should think you would see each other every day, and I know my dear Rachel is a very delightful companion. Tell her the last letter she wrote to me gratified me extremely, and I will write a long letter to her when I return, and tell her about our journey. An arrival from England is most anxiously looked for by every one just now. Peace is expected and I believe, most truly hoped for by the people of this country, they are quite tired of war, and now that John Bull has it in his power to injure us so much I believe the most violent would like to be on friendly terms with him again. 1

William is almost certain we shall have peace soon, I sincerely hope we may, for then we shall return to dear Ireland next summer. Oh, my dear Father, it is impossible to express the heartfelt pleasure I feel at the idea of so soon seeing my beloved friends again. I sometimes think it will be too great happiness for me to see realised, but I shall hope for the best. I shall see the Olivers, as we purpose spending some time in Baltimore with Mr. Brown's family. Agnes Freeland will go as far as Georgetown with us, on a visit to some of her friends who live there, I am sure she would be a great favourite with you, she is so lively and pleasing. I shall feel great regret at parting with her, and many more of my acquaintance, for whom I feel a great regard, but the thoughts of the dear friends I shall meet on the other side of the Atlantic will soon banish sorrow from my heart.

It is a long time since I had a letter from my dear James, I hope he is well and happy, tell him to write to me soon. We expect James Cumming out in the Fall, and by him I hope to receive letters from all my friends.

Many is the time I wish for some of the fine gooseberries you have at home now, we had a few here which were ripe six weeks ago, but they are not so good as those in Ireland. I wish I could send you a few water melons which are beginning to ripen, I think you would like them very much. I hope, my dear Father, you will set a plentiful crop of potatoes next year, and have a good store of oatmeal when I return, we have no meal here. I like the Indian meal very much now, it is very different from what I remember seeing at one time in Ireland, I will take some home with me and show you how we make cakes of it here. William joins me in the kindest love to you, my dear Sisters and brother, and wishing every happiness this world can bestow, I am your most affectionate,

Mary Cumming.

Rev. A. Craig.
        Co. Antrim.


1 With Napoleon�s abdication in April 1814, England could dispatch troops in strength to North America.

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Letter No. 26.


Near Baltimore.
October 14th, 1814

My dear Father, 

On the 11th inst. I was made very happy by the receipt of your letter of the 30th April, along with several others from my dear friends at home. It was along time since I had heard from you before, and most happy I am to hear you are all well. William and I left home for the Springs about the latter end of July, where we spent some time, but whether it was owing to the fatigue of travelling or some other cause I did not derive the benefit from them which I expected; on the contrary I think I got weaker during my stay but as there is no subject I dislike so much to dwell on as my own bad health, I shall say no more about it, only that I am much better and hope soon to be quite well again. 

We arrived here about a fortnight ago, and on Wednesday last William set off for Petersburg alone. The reason he left me was this: - my journey from New York to Baltimore fatigued me so much he was afraid of me undertaking as long a one as from this to Petersburg until I got stronger, and he had some business that required his immediate return. My dear Father will have heard long before this reaches him that all hope of peace between America and England is at an end, perhaps for many years. By the arrival of the "John Adams" about a week ago we heard the unwelcome intelligence that the American ministers were about to return without being able to bring about an honourable peace for this country. This was a sad disappointment to us, for now it is impossible to say when that event may take place. I never in all my life saw any person bear disappointments better than my dear William does, he always keeps up his spirits and hopes for happier days.

To my great joy he has now determined on returning to Ireland in the course of next Summer, there will be little or no business to do in this country now, and I suffer so much from the climate that he will not run the risk of keeping me longerin it. The thought of this happy event which I have so long and ardently wished for makes me feel very happy, and I feel convinced my beloved friends at home will feel so too. I expect to be able to return to Petersburg about the beginning of next month, I shall be very anxious to see William, as it is the first time we have been separated for so long. We expect James Cumming here some time soon, I shall return with him or one of Mr. Brown's sons. I feel quite at home here, indeed the family pay me the greatest attention imaginable. I saw Mr. John Oliver here the other evening, he and his brother's family are all well, they are all very intimate with the Browns. Mr. John Oliver showed me a letter which he received from you lately. Mrs. Oliver called to see me since I came here, she is a very pleasing lively woman. Their country house is a very short distance from this. Mr. Brown has a very elegant carriage which I have the use of when I wish to go out. I am very pleased with Mrs. John Brown, who came out to this country this Spring. She is daughter to Dr. Patrick of Ballymena, whom I dare say you have met with, she and I have long conversations about Ireland. Her husband's friends are all very much pleased with her.

You will have heard long before this reaches you of the capture of Washington, and the attack made on Baltimore by the British. Mr. Brown's family went into the country till the alarm had subsided, two of his sons are in the army, they had to remain. We are almost now in the middle of a camp, nothing to be heard but the discordant fife and drum. The inhabitants are all busily engaged in preparing for another attack, which is feared will be made on them, how dreadfully situated this unfortunate country is. I hope and trust it will soon have a termination. I think the late demands of Great Britain have served to unite the people in favour of the war more than any other event that could have taken place.

I mentioned in one of my letters of a purchase of flour which William made in Summer, and I am now happy to tell you that he made a large profit by the sale.2 This is pleasant, and helps to keep up his spirits in these gloomy times, but he is of so cheerful a temper that he will never despond.

I thank you for the seeds which you sent me, which I shall distribute among my friends, for I never hope to see them arrive at any perfection. I shall endeavour to collect as many roots and seeds for you as I can. If I have good health this winter will pass quickly away, for I trust and hope it is the last I shall spend in America. How delighted I am to hear of the happiness of my beloved Margaret! Long may it continue, and may I find all my dear friends well and happy on my return is my sincere prayer.

I shall answer all my other letters when I get home and feel stronger. How proud I am at the flattering accounts I hear of my dear James and my sweet Rachel. I am very sorry to hear that Margaret Byers is in delicate health, I hope she is better long before this time. Remember me very affectionately to her and Miss McCully and to all my other friends. I know my dear Father will not neglect any opportunity of writing to me. The surest way always is to send your letter to W. Brown of Liverpool.

The weather at present is very pleasant, and the woods beginning to assume their bright Autumnal tinge, which is beautiful beyond description. I envy Margaret that she lives near all her friends, but I cannot expect everything as I would wish.

Give my kindest love to her and Rachel, and in wishing you every happiness

I am, my dear Father,

Your affectionate
M. Cunning.


Rev. Andrew Craig.
        Co, Antrim.

(Belfast Ship letter).

1 Springfield was a farm a few miles outside Baltimore which Alexander Brown bought in 18 15 as a country residence. About  1850 it was demolished to make room for the encroaching streets of the growing town. It was situated close to where the John Hopkins Hospital now stands.  
2 See page 112.  


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Letter No. 27

February 9th, 1815 

My beloved Margaret will be surprised when she sees where I date my letter from. I am very sorry to tell you bad health has detained me here all this Winter, the last letter I wrote home was to my Father in October, at which time my health was very delicate, but I thought I would get better in a short time as the weather was getting healthy and I had the best advice that could be got in Baltimore. I was disappointed, however, as I have frequently been, I got weaker everyday. We came into town the latter end of October, where I have been coned to my room, mostly to my bed, for the last four months: how this may terminate, my dear Sister, God only knows. At present I am extremely weak and thin, more so, I think, than I ever was before. My principal complaint now is a very weak stomach which prevents me gaining strength. Dr. Brown attends me every day and if it is possible to do anything for me he will be able to effect it, for he is the most skilful physician in Baltimore, and has always paid me great attention. Indeed I have met with the most uncommon kindness and attention from this good family j ever experienced in my life from any people. I am .a thousand times better attended than if I had been in Blandford, it was extremely fortunate I did not return in the Fall, for never was that unfortunate place so unhealthy as it has been this year. My dear William has been twice to see me since he first left me, he was here for three weeks lately. He is the very picture of health, and if his poor Mary was well would be of happiness.

I am happy to tell you that among all the rest of my complaints I have not the smallest symptom of either a breast or a liver complaint, the spleen in my side is much better and if I could but get the better of this excessive weakness all might yet be well. I have come through such dreadful sickness since I came to this country that my hopes are very sanguine that Providence will yet be kind and generous to me. But my dear Sister and friends, if it should please that great Disposer of events to think fit to take me from this world at present, we must all try and bear it with resignation, and think it for my happiness. My views of this world have changed a good deal of  late, though it is still inexpressibly dear to me yet I have not the same dread of leaving it as I had a few months ago. In all probability if that event should take place my darling husband would pay his native country a visit (I hope along one) in that case my last and most earnest request to you and my friends at home will be to transfer the kindness and affection which I well know you would have bestowed on your poor Mary to her adored William, whose study during the short time I have been with him has ever been my happiness and welfare.

But these are all sad and gloomy thoughts, it will do me good to turn to something more lively, and all may yet be better than I am sometimes inclined to think.

I intend sending this letter by a ship which will sail from this port in a few days, I have not heard a word from Ireland since I received the large packet giving me an account of my dear Margaret's wedding. Since I wrote last there has been most wonderful news arrived, no more nor less than that there is peace between this country and Great Britain. Had I been in good helath this news would almost have put me crazy, as it is I feel truly rejoiced. There are to he great illuminations to-night, indeed every one seems to participate in the general joy. There will now be plenty of opportunities of vessels going from every port we may wish. If my health was a little better-but that I have great fears of, however I shall hope for the best.

From what Margaret Byers hinted in her letter I have every reason to believe that my dear Margaret is a Mama before this time. If so God grant that you and your little charge are as well and happy as I wish you. I shall expect you will call one of your daughters for me; I must not look back though I have lately thought I ought to be very thankful, for I now am convinced that whatever is is for the best though we cannot think so at the time. I would give worlds to see you all again, but know this is impossible until I get a little more strength.

I intended writing to my beloved Rachel by this conveyance, but I will have to send my letter off to-day. It requires a long time for me now to write one, however there will soon be a number of opportunities to send letters and I shall soon write to her, the sweet darling! This I believe is her birthday. 1 Oh, may every happiness attend her wherever she goes is the prayer of her sister!

Since I began this letter I cannot say I am much better or worse, I suffer very little pain, have a tolerable appetite, and get a good deal of rest. My wishes are almost anticipated before formed, so that it will not be for the want of the greatest care and attention if I do not recover.

We had great rejoicings and illuminations here last night, on account of the victory gained over the British at New Orleans. We will have them repeated some night soon again on account of the peace. Nothing can be greater than the general joy and satisfaction on this blissful occasion. T expect to get letters from Ireland some day soon by the ship that brought the happy news. Mrs. J. Brown got letters from her friends; mine, of course, if there were any would go to Petersburg, and I have not had time to get them sent to me again.

And now, my beloved Sister, my paper draws to a close, if my health will admit you have a prospect of seeing me in Spring. If it pleases Providence to dispose of me otherwise we must be resigned to His Will. I do not feel the same reluctance at quitting this world which I did a few months ago, and I trust we will all meet in a better land never more to part.

Give a thousand loves to my beloved Father, Brother and Sister: to your good man, Miss McCully and Margaret.

That every blessing and happiness may attend you all is and will be the constant prayer of your

Mary Cumming.

Mrs. James Ward.
        Co. Antrim.

1 Rachel's birthday was on 15th February.   

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Letter No. 281 

My ever beloved and darling Sisters,

15 March, 1815 

As I have been getting weaker every day since I wrote to my dear Margaret, I again take up my pen to try and write a few lines. Thank God that I feel a little stronger today than I have done for some time past. Oh my beloved Sisters, I too well know what you will all feel when this letter reaches you, but I hope and trust that Providence will enable you to bear the mournful news with composure. I hope I shall be quite so before Providence thinks fit to remove me out of this world of care and sorrow. I do all I can to be so. I find it a hard trial to think of leaving this world with all the prospects of felicity which I thought I had to find in it. These are now all over and I must try and prepare myself for another and better state where I believe I am now soon going.

My dear dear friends I have a great deal to say to you. I wish I had strength sufficient to write to you all but that I have not at present.

It is possible that this letter will be given you by my beloved darling William. Oh my friends, if ever you loved your poor Mary, show it in your attention to one that was nearer to her than life. Try to cheer and comfort his poor dear heart which I know will oppress him for the loss of one whom he always treated with the most unremitting affection, kindness and regard, but I know you will do this with the greatest pleasure. His own worth will secure him the regard of all who have the happiness of knowing him. Talk to him of me for this will please him. He has been my comfort and support during all the sickness and sorrow which I have had and he is now the soother of every moment of my life. I hope and trust we may be united in a better world, never more to part. I cannot speak of the happiness I promised myself on my return this Spring to my native country and to the beloved friends I left, that is over now.

William will take you a few seeds and roots. My dear Rachel will show him what I once called my garden where I want them to be planted. Let him have it to cultivate when he is with you. He is fond of flowers and this will help to amuse him. Try and keep him with you in Ireland, I think he would be much happier than here. I know my ever dear and beloved Father will do all in his power to comfort and amuse one so every way deserving of his kindness and affection.

My illness has not been a severe one. I hardly suffer any pain as yet. It seems to be a kind of gradual decline. For this I am, I hope, very thankful and it will be a consolation to all my friends to know that I have had the very best advice that America could give. I have met with every attention from this family that I could have had even at home and if an All Wise Providence now thinks fit to take me, I trust to a better world, I must endeavour to be resigned to his Will. My attachment to this world was very great, it is so still, but my dear friends, I look forward to a blessed reunion. Any and every circumstance you may wish to hear, my dear William will take pleasure in telling you, if you ask him.

There are a few little trifles which it is my wish should go to you to be divided between you in any way you think right. It is not for their value but that there is a good deal of your poor Mary's work on them.

I send back my dear James's brooch which I have always kept with great regard. Give him now a sister's blessing who always adored him. Tell him I hope he will prove an ornament to his family and name. Give him some of my hair which you will receive by my love.

But what shall I send to my adored Father, that father who took such pains with me? Oh that I could think of something. He will require nothing, nothing to remind him of me. I hope all his good instructions have not been bestowed on me in vain. I can leave him nothing but my blessing, and may every blessing this world can bestow light on his beloved head. God bless him.

You would wonder if you saw how thin I am, that I could write with such a steady hand, but so it is. You will give my most affectionate love to my dear and very kind friends in Armagh, to my ever kind and most attentive relation Miss McCully, and to my once lively and dear early companion and friend Margaret Byers. I think with great affection and regard on the many many friends I have left in Lisburn, please remember me to them all.

Do not you remember, my beloved Sisters, some kind of Spring Evenings I used to be particularly fond of? They were in the latter end or beginning of April. On some such evening as I shall attempt to describe take a walk to Charles Grove with my dear William and talk of me. Soft, mild and calm, the twilight stealing on, the Bat flittering about and the Beetle humming through the air. You will think then of me.

I gratify myself writing these lines and this moment I feel quite composed and perhaps I am more fanciful than usual.

May God bless, protect, help and support you all through this transient world and grant us all a happy meeting in a better beyond the grave, is and will be, the last prayer of

M. Cunning.

1 This is a Transcript of the original letter, made by Mary's brother James.



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Letter No. 291


March 24th, 1815 

My ever beloved and darling William,

When these few lines will be given to you the writer of them will be at rest and peace. They are, in all probability, the last that will ever be written by me; I therefore wish them to belong to you. I leave them as a little token of remembrance to you. I feel at present quite collected and entirely free from any pain. When my ever-beloved William reads these lines I well know how his affectionate heart will grieve (or the loss of his poor Mary; but, my dear and ever kind Husband, think I am happy, as I firmly trust in the Almighty I shall be, free from all care and sorrow, from pain and sickness, at rest and peace with my Blessed Saviour. Try and be resigned to the will of Providence. Think that in a few years we shall be united in another and far better world, never never more to part, to know any sorrow or care. Let this comfortable thought sustain you. Had it pleased God to have spared me with you a little longer how happy I should have been; but that I must not repine at. You have ever been the most affectionate, kind, attentive friend and husband to me that it was possible to be. Let this console you that it was always your study to make me happy. If I ever offended you, forgive me for it; but, alas! why need I say so? We were almost too happy with one another.

Go to our beloved native country, 2 there you will find peace. Talk to my beloved friends of me. Tell them we will all meet in a better world. If I can I will hover round and bless you wherever you go.

You are gone out to Springfield,3 Margaretta 4 will give you these few imperfect lines when I am at rest and in happiness. I know my ever-beloved William will value them for I well know he loved the poor writer. I believe I have given all the directions I wish for.

I enclose you a lock of my hair, which I wish you to keep for yourself. You will like it better as my hands have put it up for you. The rest will be given to my beloved Sisters.

I did not intend writing so much, but I can hardly bring myself to bid you farewell.

My adored, beloved, dearest William could you but be blessed and happy as I would have you to be. May the God of all consolation be yours in all your trials in this world. Think your dear Mary is gone to prepare a place in Heaven for you. Oh, God bless, bless, my ever adored William, will be the last last prayer of his own own

Mary Cumming.

  I was always proud of that beloved name.

We shall be extremely happy in Heaven. Tell them at home how much I loved them. God be your comfort, my love.

We'll be resigned when woes betide,
Patient when favours are denied,
            And pleased with favours given.
This is the wise, the virtuous part,
This is that incense of the heart,
            Whose fragrance reaches Heaven.
                                        (Once more, God bless you!)

But cease, my William, cease to grieve,
            Repress each murmur and each sigh,
Nor once distrust His ample love,
            Who lives and reigns supreme on high.
                                                    (for i shall be happy)


1 Only a transcript of the original letter survives, made by Mary's father, and annotated. "Transcribed Septr,  25th 1815. A. Craig"  
2 After Mary�s death, William did go over to Ireland to visit his father-in-law at Strawberry Hill. On his return to America he wrote the following lever to advise Andrew Craig of his safe arrival in Baltimore, where doubtless he again stayed with the Browns.
3 See Letter No. 26 fn I.  
4 It would be most satisfactory if we knew to whom it was that Mary entrusted the delivery of this her most faction,           Definitive. but alas This is not the case. As Alexander and Grace Brown had no daughter, ( see page 47 ) it is probably that Marguaretta was a servant in their Baltimore household. That she was a trusted one is clear from Alexander�s letter to his son William in Liverpool, dated Baltimore. 7th May 1813 Describing the state of tension there caused by the arrival of several British men of war at the mouth of  �our River�, he wrote, "Ann ( William's baby daughter) is as well as you could wish her. We purpose sending her Marguaretta and Ellen to the country in the meantime and the rest of the family will follow should the danger become serious", (A Hundred years of Merchant Banking" reprinted by Arno, Press Inc , 1978, page 37).

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  "Baltimore." 8th December. 1815.

  My dear Sir.

By the aid of Divine Providence I arrived in this city on 4th Instant after a tolerably moderate passage of 38 days from Liverpool. Mr John Oliver sailed from hence about five weeks since in the ship Belvidere for Cowes. All our other friends m this place are in pretty god health. Brother James reached this about two weeks since and is gone to Petersburg and there are letters from thence to A. Brown and Sons from J. Cumming. Jun, which mention his being well.

It is fortunate your money was not invested in linens as that article, as well as all other kinds of English and Irish manufactures have become a mere dreg all over these States and will not command first cost and charges. I understand tobacco is very high at this moment in England and here it is also exceedingly high. Mr. Oliver was so kind as to take charge of the trunk of wearing apparel which, as he was to land at Cowes, would I fear, put him to much inconvenience in getting it conveyed round to Belfast. There is also a small trunk lying at William and James Brown, Liverpool, with a few articles in it which I took with me, and had ordered it forwarded to you along with the other when it reached there. I shall now desire these Gentlemen to forward it by first opportunity.

There is nothing at all new in this country. Our National Legislature have met but nothing of consequence has yet been done by that Body.

I shall leave this in two or three days for Petersburg and shall write you again in the course of three or four weeks. Be pleased to make my love to Mr. and Mrs. Ward and Rachel. Meantime, I remain, Dear Sir,

Yours most affectionately.

            William Cumming


Rev. A. Craig.
        Co. Antrim                                                                                                                         ..2/2
            Ireland.                                                                                                                           LIVERPOOL
                                                                                                                                                  SHIP LETTER"
via Liverpool  

In April the following year William himself died in Petersburg.  

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