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Smithfield Preston Foundation

Papers, 1784-1881, n.d., Ms1997-002

October 20, 1838 -- letter from Thomas Lewis Preston to Susan S. McDowell in Lexington, Virginia

---- Oct. 20th 1838

My Dear Sister

The spirit has been moving me for several days to write to you, & as I am ---- inclined to check its impulses, I yield to its pleasant influence. Some time has passed now since you have received a work from my hands, but that silence is no indicator of an absence from my thoughts. Often, often do, I turn to you. I fill my heart with the recollection of that affection which has bound it so closely to every thing connected with you. And then your dear children, how much I love them. How frequently I recall their gleesome laughs & ---- looks! I can almost fancy that I see Sue now, with her ---- eyes & pouted lips, fresh from a ---- & waiting the watchward for mom frolic, & Tom with his early hair, bashful ----, looking timidly at the partial changes, where he desires yet dreads to approach. But I love all your children as I ---- ----- over from James downward can scarcely say which has the greatest share of my affections. May God grant that each & all of them may prove a blessing & are ---- to their parents. James & Sally are now nearly grown & will soon be called upon to take their positions in society, & assertain their standing not by the exertions of their parents, but by their own merit.

Time alone can show how well they will preserve this beautiful inclination which your directing hand has given them. From my knowledge of their characters I ---- only good, & although I know a mothers heart can never be free from ---- yet I think you have every reason to be thankful & feel yourself blest in these as well as in your other children. Would that I could see them were it only for a little while, & ---- with you around the five-side, gaze again upon their guiltless & happy faces. Has Sue forgotten the "good ---- cider" & "little boy blue". Ah! I could soon bring them back to her mind, & win Tom I think from his accustomed ----. You do not know how much pleasure I derive from thus ---- to & dwelling upon the happy scenes that hallow you house in my memory. I sometimes fear that I linger over them too often & too fondly but there cannot be harm in contemplating scenes that leave the heart softer, fullfull of gentleness; & those moments can ---- be said to be wasted which assist in preserving all fresh & green the sound ties of a brothers love. In the quiet of this Sabbath evening any thoughts are with you & although an ---- stranger & solitary in a large city yet I do not feel alone, & from my desk I will arise as one refreshed by sweet conversation with those he loved.

Of my hands you have doubtless heard some little occasionally from those at home have followed me thro' England and Scotland back to ---- England again. The last letters I wrote were to our brothers & ---- in Edinburgh & to them I gave an account of some of the things I saw, since I left the metropolis of the Erwiald Isle. To you however, I will just mention at present some of the results of my observations as I have whisked thro' the country. For of a truth I have hurried along at too rapid a rate & staid not long enough at any one place to become thoroughly acquainted with it. My chief object in traveling this summer, however, was to gain a knowledge of the appearance of this mighty Island & of the position of some of its principle places, intending at some future period, of time & opportunity allowed to examine more minutely into its condition & the ---- of its people. Thus for my travels have been highly gratifying & have impressed me more favourably with "England & the English" than I was expected to be. The country is a garden thruoghout, & more beautiful than description or painting can give an idea of. You know it is not bold or studied ---- many wonderful objects of nature like our own. Its ---- attraction is its richness, its ----, its high cultivation & its soft & ever varying landscapes. There is scarcely a mile of road in any part of the country dreary. Scarcely a position from which the eye may not rest upon some pretty object. In traveling along the high ways one is seldom out of sight of a village spine, & it is beautiful to see these emblems of a christian worship using clear & distinct against the distant horizons in what ever portion of the country we may be placed. England is indeed a land of pastoral beauty & it is not wonderful that so many have sung her ---- that heart must must indeed be calaus which does not throbe with pleasure when the eye rests upon the ---- beauty of an English landscape. But it must be seen to be appreciated. I do not presume to paint it to your imagination, I only express the impression it has made upon me. It would require an abler pen than mine to convey a full & perfect picture of England to the mind of one far away. Of the people I can only say they are very different from the ideas I had conceived of them & much more agreeable in every repect. The ---- selfishness that make them as a nation, is not perceptable in the individuals except of a particular two way elevated glass. They are generally very hospitable, & kind to strangers & save in some of the manufacturing places as communicative as any person could desire. I have met with nothing but kindness in truth since I have been in her Magesty's dominions, and my conclusion is that either the English have been very much ---- or wlse the whole nation has been reformed. From the date of my letter you will ---- I am in the heart of the manufacturing country. But it is not my intention to remain here long, not even long enough to experience the great straw shops, & see the process of manufacturing & disposing of the finest cloath in the world. I am impatient to get ----, more so now, since I have heard of the arrival of the Great Western Steam shop, & feel assured she has brought out many letters for me. I will not receive them till I get to London & tell me if that alone is not reason enough to surge ---- forward. You will probably get this by the return of the same ----, & I am ---- the greater having to write but I may miss so good an opportunity. If my information is correct that she does not sale till the 29th of this month it is highly probable I will have these letters for haven written ----. Kiss all your children for me. Give my best love to Mr. McDowell. Remember me kindly to our relations around you. Do write to me soon & believe me as ever

your truly affectionate brother.
Thomas L. Preston

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