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MY DEAR MRS. TICKNOR, Although I hardly know what to say to you by way of condolence in your affliction, yet I cannot bear to say nothing ; I am so desirous you should know how truly and deeply I sympathize with you, who have been near and most kind to me in my greatest trials.
Your last severe affliction a good deal resembles my last; except that Providence, in taking one brother, has left you another, and has left beloved sisters also. When my poor brother fell, I was bereft of everything near to me in blood, except the little saplings of my own household. But I know that in these cases the heart does not reconcile itself to its loss by recollecting what it retains, though sometimes it clings the closer to what remains. In the ordinary losses of life, in disappointed hopes, in loss of fortune, and the whole train of common ills, a firm and elastic spirit gathers consolation and new hopes from various sources. But for that anguish of the heart which the death of beloved objects creates, there is no solace but Christian resignation ; no balm, but in the soft effusions of that spirit which can say, " Not as I will, but as thou wilt ! " Affliction, I am persuaded, properly borne, not only purifies but elevates the mind. Its tendency is to strengthen religious feeling, and to bring into more vigorous exercise, and to increase by such exercise, that devout trust which teaches us that all is in His hand, and assures us the end will be right.
I pray you, my dear friend, to believe that, from the moment I first heard of Mr. Eliot's death, I have thought of you constantly and most affectionately, and I could not longer forbear some expression of my sympathy and regard. I implore for you and yours the best blessings of Heaven.
Perhaps Mr. Ticknor will sometimes write me; I shall be very desirous of hearing from some of you.
When a proper time comes, and you have a fit opportunity, I beg you to mention me to Mrs. Dwight, and tell her I share her sorrows.
My own health, which has at various times since I left home, suffered from the prevailing epidemic, is now good. The court commences to-morrow. Judge Story has not arrived, but is looked for soon. I feel anxious about him, only because the weather has been so severe, and the journey by land is so tedious.
With my most cordial regards to your husband, and love to your little ones, I am, dear Mrs. Ticknor,
Truly and affectionately yours,
- Daniel Webster
- Private Correspondence of Daniel Webster, Edited by Fletcher Webster, Volume I, 1857