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Title: W.K. Harshaw, Paterson NJ, to John Harshaw, Ringclare, Co Down
CollectionIrish Emigration Database
FileHarshaw, W. K/19
SenderHarshaw, W.K.
Sender Gendermale
Sender Occupationunknown
Sender Religionunknown
OriginPaterson, New Jersey, USA
DestinationCo. Down, N.Ireland
RecipientHarshaw, John
Recipient Gendermale
SourceT 1505/3: Copied by Permission of Ulster Folk Museum, Cultra Manor, County Down. #TYPE EMG W.K. Harshaw, Paterson, N.J. [New Jersey?], America, to John [Harshaw?], [Ringclare, County Down?], 24 Oct.[October?] 1895.
ArchivePublic Record Office, Northern Ireland
Doc. No.9005215
Partial Date
Doc. TypeEMG
Log22:05:1990 JMR created 20:08:1991 SE input 21:08:1
Word Count1415
TranscriptTo: "Master John," [Ringclare, County Down?]
W.K. Harshaw
Paterson N.J. [New Jersey?] America’

Oct [October?] 24th 1895

Master John
A letter from Robert last week
gives an account of his visit to the north, from
which he had just returned. He speaks of the
appearance of the old Milltown house and
surroundings, and of the many traces of decay
which appear to be settling on everything thereabouts
abouts. He also speaks of his visit to you and
your household, and of the favorable impression
he got of everyone connected therewith, some
of whom he had never met before. But when he
got to speak of yourself he did not report so
favorably of your health. Heretofore when he has
been saying anything about you it has always been
"how strong and [v?]igorous you were - how many
miles you had walked rather than be hampered
with a conveyance; and what even spirits you
maintained, whether at home or abroad - out for
relaxation or at home with your friends!" So that
now to hear of your being to, some extent, disabled
and forced to lie by, is contrary to all our ideas
about you. I cannot associate the idea of weakness
or decrepitude with any recollection of you -
you who were always so strong and robust and
compact! It seems but a brief time since I
saw you, and such as I saw you then is my idea
of you now, and everything that mars this
recollection of you and represents you as changed
and weakening seems unnatural, and almost
impossible to be realized by me. And besides, you
occupy such a central position in regard to the
rest of the family that we all seem to gravitate
around you - to rest upon you with confidence,
as on a sure foundation, and to look to you in every
uncertainty and emergencies as "guide philosopher
and friend." As my father stood a head and shoulders
above all his children in all the attributes of
conduct and character, so I include all of
us, since my father's and mother's time, have
regarded you in his place, the head and examplar [exemplar?]
and director to all of us. And as we are aware,
and no doubt have experienced, that it is the mother
that chiefly keeps alive the home feeling, and is the
centre to which the children specially gravitate, so
since my mother's death, you have in great measure,
constituted that home centre of mother feeling
to which we all turned with a restful and confident
dent home feeling. It would be a great calamity
an unsettling of the ancient landmarks if any
thing should occur to you to weaken this commanding
and exclusive relation that you occupy towards
all of us. It would be, indeed, dissolving ties
that never could be renewed - it would be
removing the last rays of light and glory reflected
from the beautiful past that still linger
about the Loughorne and Milltown and Ring-clare
hill. Early days, early associations, early
enjoyments - the places and faces that made all these
ever memorable to us, all these are represented
and personified to us specially in you, and if you
should be taken away how much of the life of all
of us would go with you; and how intensely all of
us remaining would realize that a new world
had opened to us that had little relation and but
little resemblance to that beautiful world of memory
to which you and I and others of Milltown
nativity belong. "Sheep without a Shephard [Shepherd?]" would
be the position of those near you and dependant on your
guidance and advice, while to myself and to those
away from Milltown home influences it would
be the sense of a strong protector withdrawn,
a reliable counsellor removed.
In connection with the possible breaking
down of your health, the thought comes over one as
a cloud of how little I have been able - [shall I
say, permitted] to do towards aiding you through
some of the hard conditions of life that, I suppose
have fallen to your lot. Looking back now from
the standpoint of the present, and from an American
standard, how little, it seems, would have been
necessary to have smoothed some of the roughplaces,
and ministered to your comfort and enjoyment,
How intently I have wished, month after month,
year after year, that God would have enabled me
to be the agent of such ministration. But the
decision of fate was otherwise, and the hopes of my
heart, my thoughts and dreams and longings in this
direction have all been destined to disappointment.
Truly the ways of Providence are only to be seen
as in a glass darkly! And however much our judgment
and our reason may incline, we are forced to
conclude that His ways are not as our ways or His
thoughts as ours. It has been and is a favorite
argument, and generally accepted as a conclusive,
one in support of immortality - future existence -
that God had emplanted [implanted?] in the human soul
desires - longings for such a future state, and the
argument is that God would not have emplanted [implanted?] such
feelings in the human soul unless he had intended
gratifying them. He would not have emplanted [implanted?] the
faculty unless He had designed the state and conditions
adapted to the exercise of the faculty. But how weak
and inconclusive this argument seems in the face of
many of our experiences. How particularly weak it
appears in the presence of my own experience! Here
I have been formed with most intense home-feelings -
feelings that cluster around all home associations with
a deep and yearning longing beyond conception; and
that would have made the comfort, the advancement,
the prosperity of those connected with the old Milltown
home the greatest earthly enjoyment of my life.
Yet here it is that this faculty of enjoyment emplanted
[implanted?] in my nature, and developed under the most
favorable conditions of development, is not allowed,
seemingly, to have any scope or opportunity for its legitimate
exercise. The faculty is here but circumstances
are such that it is held back, and rigidly
excluded from the indulgance [indulgence?] of its proper exercise.
Is it Addison that says: "whence this pleasing hope,
this fond desire, this longing after immortality!"
with equal reason I might say: "Ah, this pleasing
hope, this fond desire, this longing after more
intimate association with those of my father's house,
and into more helpful relations towards them!" In
my case the "longing" has been but imperfectly
satisfied. are the intimations of the cravings of the
human soul for a continued, or pensioned existence
equally unreliable and inconclusive!
How the years rush on us! Sixteen years
ago I saw you and others about Donaghmore,
strong and vigorous, with no symptoms of age
upon you. Now the prospect is changed and you
are all reported as growing old and growing feeble.
I cannot think of you otherwise than as I
saw you last. And even this recollection of you is
blended with recollections of you as you were in the
old Milltown days when all the days were golden,
and a better race peopled the earth. How short
the space seems in looking back to '79 [1879?] or even
the earlier period referred to. Although I myself
am approaching the three-score-and-ten limit,
yet I cannot fully realise that the allotted period
of a life time is behind me, and behind so
many of you who started on the journey about the
same times. Harder still is it to realise that a
change, the change of advancing years will
come to all of you no matter how fixed and
vivid the pictures of you carried in our memories
may be. You yourself are so identifed with the
roads and fields about the Milltown, Loughorne,
Ring-clare, Annabawn, Ardkeragh &c. that we
cannot think of you not being able to walk
those ways, and I know they would not be the
same to me if I ever I should be priviledged [privileged?] to
visit them again and not find you there.
If the weakened state that Robert speaks
of your having put on when he saw you has passed
away I wish you would write to me. Nobody
gives the local news as succinctly as you do
But I will be more interested in hearing about
yourself, and exultingly interested if you are able
to report great improvement in your health
and strength and spirits-
Ever Sincerely.
W. K. Harshaw