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Emma Alderson: Letter from Cincinnati.

Cedar Lodge 5 mo 19th 1844

My beloved Mother

I scarcely know whether a letter I dispatched a few days ago has yet left the city but as I find some difficulty in writing a letter consecutively I will make a commencement of one of my journalizing epistles especially as I find thy letters so written full of a fresh & lively interest I feel as if I half lived amongst you & could enter into thy daily sources of interest as though they were passing events with myself.

Thy last dated [blank] was especially acceptable and excites my warmest affection as I fear it might be a fanciful effort as thou mentions more than once thy suffering from headaches, thou also speaks of increasing mental infirmities, indeed dear mother it appears to me that thy mind is as vigourous as ever.

I am sure thy letters are a proof there is no failure there, thy heart is as warm and thy feeling and sympathy for others as strong as formerley & what a blessing this is. I shall keep thy eightieth birthday with feelings of reverential thankfullness.

We shall I know mutually think of each other & may our hearts be influenced to crave for each other admitance into that enduring & eternal life where neither sin nor sorrow pain nor death have entrance but all is purity & joy & peace in the presence of God for evermore.

Last fifth day when we were going to meeting we passed the chain-gang who are now working on our road macadamizing it. There were about 20 men black & white & each had a large heavy iron chain fastened round the right ankle to the end of which was attached a large can-non ball. They are condemned to this publicdegradation for different periods as punishment for such crimes as do not require their removal to the Penitentiary as the jails are called which is at Columbia the county town. Many are of opinon that it is not well thus to expose them.

It tends to harden them & cut off all return to society. Their labour however is profitable & really they do not look unhappy or miserable. As thou art interested about Brown who was condemned to die I will tell thee what I have heard. He has been repreived.

It is circulated that he is a man of bad character & had under pretence of love lured a black girl away but his real inten-tion was to carry her off & sell her for his own advantage. The judge who tried & condemned him is the same Brien who had the correspondence with Friends which I mentioned to thee as having been read at one of our

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Quarterly Meetings. Thy call him a "fine man" here But I have not much opinion of him. This is the American version of the story.

It may be true but they are very unwilling to speak the whole truth where slavery is concerned. I saw in a paper of this city whose princi-ples are dcidedly antislavery in an account of a dreadful steam-boat accident, mention of 7 servants of a Mrs Somebody having perished.

I knew they were probably with others, poor slaves chained & fastened down in the hold to whom death thus speedily gave freedom. But in the public paper no appeal was raised for the poor who are thus liable to be exposed to sudden & inevitable horror 7 death.

The opportunity of pointing out this as one awful consequence of this system of iniquity was omitted or left to the dispised & hated abolitionists. May the Lord bless & prosper them & give them grace & wisdom to carry forward their good work without blame in the face of a captious, cold & deriding world..

6th mo 14th Now this was to have been a daily record and here at near a month's interval I resume my pen to finish I hope this letter as Harrison says S. Neville has an opportunity of sending to England free of expence. I have been spending a few days with our kind cousins at Mount Auburn and whilst there received a most affectionate welcome letter from dear Anna full of interesting details & breathing that pure & pious sentiment which is so characteristic of her.

When I num-ber my blessings the privilege of hearing from you my beloved re-latives is indeed one of the highest. I always valued your corres-pondence but now at this distance that which serves from time to time to bring us so near & dear and renews with fresh & lively feelings all the love and intimacy that I feel your letters to produce is inestimable.

They are to me golden epistles and my warmest thanks flow to you for them. I often regret that my leisure is so very limited that I cannot when I would take up my pen and tell you all the thoughts & feelings & observations that pass before my mind and with which the idea of you is generally interwoven.

So far I have been without any assistance in the house except washing, & till lately ironing. We have engaged people from time to time, but they that is the class who go out are lamentably faithless. They are too independent to be bound by honour. Interest or any accident will prevent them fulfilling their engagements.

I often think of the English hiring of the ernest money & the sort of quiet confidence one felt that the servant would come at or near the time fixed. As far as our observation goes this universal equality does not essentially mote happiness. All are despite their assertions aiming at being higher.....

The middle class seek to be each as great & appear as well as the other & the poor are jealous & insolent towards their superiors whom they feel such though they will not ac-knowledge it. It is a great comfort to live in a country where abject poverty is unknown & where the destitute & distressed who are such from circumstance or accident are not so numerous but that the efforts of individual & united benevolence are adequate to their relief.

We often ssy it would be almost intolerable now to us to witness the pverty & suffering of the poor in England. Here we see no half starved ragged children, no signs of abject wretchedness on any hand & yet that quiet contentment that is instilled


as a religious duty into all classes that submitting & resigning them-selves to the simple faithful discharge of their own peculiar duties is little known here, hence that restless ever moving spirit which drives the inhabitants of the eastern states westwards & the residents of the West beyond the Mississipi into the wildernesses of Iowa & Oregon.

Elizabeth is come back to reside with us. Her school became so small that it did not seem worthwhile to continue it & as she is inclined to be useful to us I really find her return an advantage & on many accounts prefer her being with us. I think she is much improved by her residence & experience in the city, besides, I believe she has some very good advisers here & in England I am sure she had some very bad ones, so I can make allowances & hope for the best.

I must tell thee dear mother of an association we have lately formed amongst the mothers of the meetimg & there are many young & older of this class to aid us in the great work of training & educating our children as religious, moral & intellectual beings & to bring them up as good consistent Friends.

We are scarcely organised but our last meeting was a very encouraging & interesting one. We had the company of a dear friend from Mount Pleasant, Rebecca Uptagraph the daughter of Jonathan Taylor. She is a zealous anti-slavery woman & one who is ready to go heart & hand into every good word & work, a most able minister, too good for many in this land.

Well the subjects under discussion were religious instruc-tions & the moral influences on the minds of children, of indulgence in dress & living, as also the desirableness of simpli-city in these things in order that the precious time of mothers might not be unecessarily consumed and occupied.

We had a deal of good advice & much useful information From R.U. & in conclusion a most beautiful & pathetic prayer. I believe there were none there but felt it a pri-vilege to be present. For a month past the market has been abundant-ly supplied with early vegetables & fruit. We had excellent green pease in the early part of 5th mo., strawberries have been very plentiful. It was said in the season 300 bushels came to market every morning mostly from Kentucky. They sold at a fip a quart that is 6 cents.

I had some sent to me which I preserved. They are a fine scarlet & more acid than ours and make a delicious preserve. Raspberries are anow as plenti-ful & about the same price. We have a tolerable supply & as many of the very finest red currants I ever saw. This is indeed a fine country overflowing with every good gift of Providence. When I contrast the past when the price of an extra tea-cake or bunn was really an object & every little superfluity felt as almost a questionable encroachment on the rigid econonmy I used to think necessary, with the plentiful stores I can now command, milk, butter, cream poultry, eggs, pork, vegetables, fruit of the best & rarest kinds all our own produce & other things so low that in England they would create astonishment.

Coffee at something under 5d, sugar 3 1/2d loaf do. 6 1/2 a quarter of lamb 10d etc I often wish those I dearly love & to whom the painful virtue of economy is still so requisite could partake with us in our abounding blessings. Besides the country is so beautiful the people so kind that except the separation from you I feel in everything we are gainers.

Oh dearst mother that I could introduce thee to some of our dear Friends here, kind, warm heart refined, yet simple in their habits & manners I am sure thou wouldst love them & they thee. We often talk of thee together & they enquire after thee & about thee like an old acquaintance.

Thou must not suppose because I have no woman girl or help as they are called here that I am oppressed thanks to a kind good Providence. Work which at first was a heavy burden is become easy by habit besides my own kind dear husband

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will do aything however menial to lighten my toil & assist me & I often feel that love & kindness enobles & dignifies the mean-est offices & make us happy in the midst of much personal ex-ertion. I never had my health better, nor moved with a lighter step & heart than I ave done this spring & summer & were it not for the prospect I have before me nothing should induce me to have a servant.

The children are well & happy. Agnes & Charley send their love & W.C. says I must tell thee that when he is a man he will go & see thee & bring thee here to live with us. We have a parlour which we often say thou wouldst delight to call thy room if thou wast here.

Dost thou re- member in the sketch of our house the front porch which is two storied, it is now garlanded with the most beautiful wild rose I ever saw; it is called te prairie rose & grows so lux uriantly that it would if trained soon cover a house.

The flowers are a deep rose pink & grow in clusters of from 10 to 12. It is though simple a splendid plant. The roses in this neighbourhood are very various & very beautiful many, I think must have been brought from France as I do not remember to have seen the same kinds in England & the climate is so favourable to flowers that they bloom with a luxuriance & profusion that astonishes me. The blossom of the Catalpa is just passing away but it has been most beautiful. Our trees werestudded with large clusters of the fine white flowers which look noble amongst the broad light green leaves & these in contrast with the dark junipers & feathery locust were to my taste a rich & continual feast of beauty.

I shall venture to enclose one single flower of the catalpa its snowy white-ness is gone but the figuring of purple & yellow remains. The flower is about the size of a common foxglove & I should think there are 50 of them clustered together in one spike & 500 of these on one tree.

I have not said one word about dear Mary. I often think of them & shall write as soon as possible. Dear Harrison sends his endeared love. I have not said half I want to tell thee but must conclude as my paper is full. Thy warmly attached & most affectionate daughter

Emma Alderson

[Addressed to:]

Ann Botham
Old England

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