« IndietroContinua »
Among the letters of my father, which follow below, it must be borne in mind that some of them were written when he was a mere boy of sixteen, and are published both to show the bent of his mind at this early age and because they indicate so plainly that affectionate disposition which (as his contemporaries have informed me) so endeared him to all with whom he came in contact.
Your grandfather was a man of unusually good judgment and possessed, in a rare degree, the power of inspiring confidence. The hundreds of letters now in the possession of the family amply prove this. He is addressed by men his seniors in age and rank in a tone of affectionate esteem, which speaks volumes for the precocity of his character and the intellectual status he enjoyed in the army-whither circumstances had called some of the best minds of the day. The first striking example we have of this is the plan (referred to in the extract from the Historical Magazine) submitted to General Putnam for the cutting off of provisions from the enemy's vessels. This plan was adopted and proved successful.
After your grandfather's letters I publish a few letters relating to the early part of the war, or containing points of special interest, and then pass on to the miscellaneous collection of letters found among his papers.
The numerous pieces of verse, I have printed in a mass, as I have his family letters and dinner invitations. These latter will be found to be of great interest to his descendants, as showing the terms of intimacy on which he stood with the well-known characters of the day.
MISCELLANEOUS LETTERS OF GENERAL SAMUEL B. WEBB.
SUNDAY EVENING, 8 o'clock. DEAR SISTER :-1 have since I last wrote you passed a very disagreeable week at New London. I keep at the Coffee House, tho’ repeated invitations to lodge at ye Cott'e. I returned last Tuesday Evening. My first enquiry was to know if there was any letters for me from Boston and was much disappointed to find none. Last evening Mr. Joyce from Wethersfield bro't me your letter dated April 22. Where it had been so long I cannot imagine.
After attending church this day I mounted my horse and came to Wethersfield ab’t dusk and am now sitting with my brother. He has sent a servant to Hartford for your letter. When he returns I flatter myself I shall have the pleasure of receiving a large package from you. Till then, I'll turn the subject.
Now, my dear Sally, if ever, this is the season to be in the country. It's impossible for you to form a true idea of beautiful Spring. Never has it been known for twenty years back, the spring to be so forward. All nature is in full glory. I want words to tell you what I think. Surely you have not forgot the beautiful meadows at Middletown. I came thro' there this evening just as bright Phoebus was taking his nightly leave of us. I stop'd short my horse and for many minutes sat musing on the goodness of the Almighty. How beautiful all the fields looked! The tender grass shooting upwards for the use of ye beasts, and fruits of various kinds for man’s refreshment. There was ye apple, ye peach, ye pear, and ye apricot full of blossoms, giving us warning what in due time they will bring forth; and altho' you are not here to see the present appearance, you undoubtedly will be to reap some of ye fruit from these blossoms. No more till ye servant returns from Hartford.
MONDAY MORN.-I intended last night to have finished my letter, but soon after I wrote the above Sister Libby who was going to bed in the opposite chamber, ran in to her brother in a surprise and told us there was a fire in the garden. We instantly ran down and found ye smoke house had caught fire. Lucky it was we found it before we went to bed, otherwise my dear sister, in all probability both houses must have been consumed. Thanks to our God for his protection. I was very much chagrined and disappointed when I found neither you nor Hettie had said a word to me. I was almost tempted to commit the above scrawl to the flames, but upon the whole thought it would not be brotherly.
Joe calls and says he must send the letters immediately to Hartford or the post will be gone, and Hetty will (perhaps) think I have not rec'd a very long letter from her if I do not answer it. My best respects to all the ladies, especially to Miss H—d, as I fancy I am most acquainted with her. I know not how many errors there are in this letter, nor have I time to look over it, but must let it go and doubt not you will correct errors yourself. I am dear Sally, your friend and very affectionate brother
SAM'L B. WEBB.
New London, Sunday Evening, Dec'r 13, 1772. My Ever DEAR SISTER :-Is it possible, can it be, that I am going to leave my native shore-that I am not to see nor hear from you this winter? It is and must be so, Hetty! I have rec'd a letter from you since I have been here. 'Twas pleasing to me. Would now write each of my sisters a letter, but time will not admit. It is now almost a week since I have been here with my horses on board ready to put to sea.
But the winds have been contrary, & the old seamen have not liked the looks of the weather.
This evening the wind is shifted to northwest, and no doubt we shall put to sea in the morning; 3 or 4 days sickness is what is expected when I first go out. Happy shall I think myself if no other sickness attends me than sea sickness. Happy, did I say? That's impossible when I'm absent from my dear Brothers and Sisters.
I have altered my voyage and shall sail direct for Kingstown in Jamaica. If either of you should hear of any vessel that was bound there within three weeks from this or to Cape Nicholas Mole, I bog you'll not forget your Brother.
Adieu, My Dear, Dear Sister,
SAM'L B. WEBB,
MONDAY MORN., 14th Dec'r:-No wind. It looks more like May than Decr.
I am overwhelmed with a very feeling and tender melancholy to think of going off. We must part ; so our adverse fate compels, & God only knows whether we ever meet again. This is necessarily precarious from the utter uncertainty of life. All ages are liable to the arrest of death, and when the thread of life is spun to its utmost length, how short even then is the space from the cradle to the grave. 'Tis a solemn certainty that every breast now warm with hope, or busy with design, will shortly lie cold and inanimate in the grave. The eye that reads this will be closed in death, and the hand that writes it will crumble in to dust. Oh, my sister, consider this as dictated by the ties of nature, & inspired by the affectionate regard I bear you. Let me confine you to live mindful of, & with a wise reference to the important future realities of Death, Judgment and Eternity. Let us, my dear sisters, live in such manner that we may glide serenely thro' the vale of Life without the gloom of terror or trepidation of doubt, meet our fate cheerfully and quit the stage like those who neither wish to live or fear to die, that the survivors of us may mourn the others' loss, yet may have this reflection to console us, that our separation, tho' painful, is but momentary, while our reunion in the realms of bliss will prove eternal. Remember what Dr. Parnell tells us:
"Absent or dead, still let a friend be dear,
S. B. WEBB.
Dear Sisters: It is not half an hour since I wrote ye above. My Captain calls. Says there is a fair wind and we must make sail immediately. This I write you from on board my vessel, the schooner Dolphin, Capt. Sam'l Crowell, commander.
Adieu, my dear Sisters; May Heav'n bless and preserve you prays your affec. Brother,
SAM’L B. WEBB.
SUNDAY EVENING, Oct. 16, 1774. MY DEAR SISTER:—Since I wrote, poor Sam has dislocated his ankle,--say on Tuesday morning last,-otherwise, before this I should have been at or on my road to Boston. A very faithful attendance has got it so that I walk tolerably well, and on the morrow, if Doctor Porter is willing, I set off on my intended tour. Several very pressing invitations from Mr. Pease, a little business, &c., has determined me to take New Port and Providence in my way. Should I set off to-morrow I go as far as Norwich in company with Mr. John Chester. This censorious world, my dear sister, will, should Miss H— be at Newport, charge my visit that way on her account, although determined on long before any knowledge of her intentions