From Isabella Home Hopkirk to John and William Hopkirk, 9/8/1851


Aug 9, 1851

My dear John and William,

After long delay I have sat down to tell you that we have got certain word of David's death after sending everywhere we could think. I wrote to Mr Laidlaw, Liverpool who sought out the names of the owners of the ship he sailed in. Your Uncle in Berwick wrote them. They wrote him that he died at sea. They said something about great distress being in the ship that voyage, but not a word of any of his effects. I cannot help thinking that his death was concealed on purpose that they might his things. He had a great many good things. We got a full suit of black cloths just before he went away; he had six silk handkerchiefs, three of them new, a good watch, a quadrant, a good many books, and indeed he was well supplied with many things he needed. And besides money to carry him out, he had fifteen sovereigns sew up to keep them safe till he got out. Whoever opened his chest must have seen letters from us all whereby they could have known where to write had they wished it. Or had they put his name in one of the NewYork papers some of his friend there would have seen it and sent us words . How soon we got word of your sisters death, but they seem to have been like vultures ready to pounce on their prey. How unlike to the seamen of Britain. There is an office where every seaman's name is that belongs to the Merchant Service. One wrote to it and got an answer directly saying that they had not the names of those who sailed in foreign ships. But every one that died onboard a British vessel his things are taken care of, and if his friends are at a distance sold and the money sent them. But they whom my poor son fell among seem to have adopted the old adage keep what you have and catch what you can. I am thinking of writing Mr Liston New York tho I don't expect any thing by doing so it is doing all I can.  If any of you had been near NewYork you might have done something but we cant expect a stranger to take such an interest in what is another's. His money and other things were worth 30 pounds.

Now my dear children you will do what you consider will be best with his property if any of you take it. We don't need the money at present. Whether we may ever need it we can't say. God only knows. We are all in good health at present for which I thank God if we were as kind and loving to one another as God is to us how happy we would be. How little makes us fall out by the way. Whatever you do with David's property see that you agree about it. Let John or William or Walter take it as John said but don't differ. I would not have spoken this way had I not been accused of dealing partially, a thing I never did for you are all alike dear to me. And when memory call you up before me there you are all in your individual character and form, and I weep for the blanks that is made among you, and it would grieve me if a bone of contention was thrown among you, as the old house is like to be at home.

As soon as Grandfather died and the half of the house was settled on your father he made it over to Robert for the time he had wrought with him. It was all he had, only he was to have it for his life time. About 7 years ago Robert gave up shooting and fishing and then he wanted to give money to things your father did not think necessary and he agreed to give him wages 12 pounds a year. I furnished him in shirts and stockings. He bought his other clothes. When we bought the house and orchard I wished him instead of giving away his money to help us to pay it. He said he was not going to lay up treasure on earth and we might sell it again. David and your father then consulted and spoke of settling it on Alick and Alick was to pay it. The settlement next made Alick first paid fifty P and then we helped him to pay another fifty and there is above 20 to pay yet. Alick did not pay for his board in the meantime but he wrought in the orchard and at the shoes what we thought equivalent for that there was no word about it till since we repaired the house. And now Robert is for the half of it or to pay him above 100 P for what he wrought before he received wages. Both Alick and I would have had your father doing it for peace tho we did not see the justice of it. But your father would not move. Alick has promised to give him the half if ever he come to the possession of it. Yet he is not content. We might live in great comfort were it not for his temper. I can bear what he says to me. Your father does not bear it so well. But it is well God is saying to us by these things this is not your nest for it is polluted. And that God would raise our thoughts from dust which is ever a saving to us. When I think how much I have got to solace me I wonder how little progress I have made in the divine life. But it teaches me to look from self where nothing is good, to Jesus, for I find it is by looking at our patron that we shall be like him. May he by his Spirit keep us in the way.

I believe I wrote that your cousin Elisabeth Home(at) Berwick could not walk after being in that state more than a year. She got well all at once. Alice Easton has been ailing some time I fear she is like her Aunt Margaret. Your Aunt Nelly is looking as fresh as ever tho above 70. Your Aunt and Uncle at Melrose is well. The crop is looking well here but none of it will be ready by Lammas here this year. Thomas Currie died some months ago. Both the Jenny's that lived in our house are dead. We have none of it left. Jannet Matheson died in June. I had her to feed like a child for 4 months.

When you write, and don't be long, tell us about all your children. Nothing delighted your father so much as when David wrote to him of the sayings and doings of his grandchildren. How we would like to see them. Give our kind love to them all and oh bring them up in the fear of the Lord and teach them to love God as a kind Father rather than a sin avenging God for he wishes us to look to him as a Father. Our Saviour bids us say our Father. He wishes us to come him as our children come to us, not clan our love or bringing any thing to buy it, but taking all we give them and they loving in return. How many lessons we as parents might learn if we would take our children as our teachers and approach God in love and confidence . . . . . . . . us but. . . . . . . cannot do without divine aid and therefore our Saviour promised the Holy Spirit to those who ask him. We are quite helpless and feel the force of our Saviour saying "without me ye can do nothing"

. And why we cause our hands to work but we cannot bring our hearts to love. Never till we truly believe that he loves us and slays the enmity of our hearts and see him reconciled in Christ, then we love him because he first loved us. My dear children my hearts desire and prayers to God for you all is that you may be saved and I hope that you remember us, then I may continue steadfast unto the end. Which cannot now be long tho I think I am standing it better than your father.

O how we would like to see you all. I cannot yet write David my heart is yet too sore, but we cannot now be long parted. Alick is very kind and dutiful, and Robert too but at times when the evil spirit come on him. When you write don't allude to what I have said about him for if he knew I had said anything about him he would be in such a passion. He will write you himself. We have not heard from Walter for some time. If you write him tell him to write.

Now may the Blessing God which maketh rich and addeth no sorrow be on all my dear Children is the prayer of your affectionate Mother

Isabella Hopkirk

P. S. I send the names of the owners of the St Lawrence: Messrs Houland and Aspinwall

Addressed to: Mr John Hopkirk, Rome Post Office, Henry County, Iowa U. S. America

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