|Henderson Wightman, Malta to his Mother, [USA?].
|Irish Emigration Database
|T 1475/1 p.15: Copied by Permission of Miss A. McKisack, 9, Mount Pleasant, Belfast.
|The Public Record Office, Northern Ireland.
|Document added by JM 27:08:1993.
|Malta. 20th August 1816.
My dear Mother,
The pleasure I feel in addressing you is very great although I can
hardly look for the enjoyment of your reply. It is a sort of
solitary comfort which somewhat mitigates the pang of absence. Even in
writing the name of her who has been the shield of my infancy and the
guide of my youth, I feel something more than common, and strange indeed
would it be if I did not. I would endeavour to divert you my Dear
Mother, if I could, but I really know not how. All I can amuse you with
at present are my complaints against the heat of the place and I am
sure that they can afford you no entertainment. Were I to describe my
sensation regarding the heat adequately, my words would be flames.
I never before experienced anything like its intensity not even in Naples.
As chance would have it, I have arrived here in one of the
hottest summers which have been known for many years past. The spots
on the sun about which the astronomers are so occupied have consequently
had no power here as yet in cooling the atmosphere. The natives themselves
are oppressed by the heat, and what must a son of the North be?
The thermometer is seldom less than 82 in the shade, and some days as
high as 86, and that in the coolest apartments. I almost fancy myself
in the regions of Vulcan, broiling in one of his smith shops. Even so early, as 6.o.c [6 o'clock?] in the morning it is intolerably sultry. As for walking in the middle of the day for pleasure it is quite out When necessitated to be out of doors at that time, I creep along the
shady side of the street, and should a streak of sunshine cross any part
of my way, dart across it with the quickness of a bolt, that I may again
take shelter in the shade. About 6.o.c. [6 o'clock?] in the evening I venture
to step to the parade to take a short stroll and listen to the band, one
of which from the different regiments plays every night. The music
however is in general so bad that were it not for the concourse of persons
it occasions it would be no great acquisition. It is somewhat singular
that in this Island the warmth of the nights is almost as great as that
of the day, which makes a stranger feel the heat more perhaps than he
otherwise would do. The nights are beautiful but I thought them more so
at Palermo, where the continued and vivid flashes of lightning which
sported along the edge of the horizon illumined the hour of twilight
and had a most enchanting effect. I conform myself with the climate in
all things which a regard to health prescribes. Scarcely use any wine
and live chiefly on vegetables, cooling myself occasionally with ices
and lemonade. You see therefore I have adopted the saying "keep yourself
cool" for my maxim which I firmly abide by. I wish you would make
Nancy compare this description of the miseries of heat with that she
sent me some time ago of the cold during Christmas and then inform me which
of the miseries she thnks preferable, if one had to choose between two
evils. I have no doubt that she will say cold is worse. If so I know
nothing which would make her change her mind except by some magic she
could pay me a visit here for a few days which I heartily wish she could
not so much for the sake of the experience as on account of the extreme
happiness a sight of my dear sister would afford me.
It is probable that by the time this reaches you, William may
either have left or be on the point of leaving his friends. Such
an event will naturally affect you very much. Yet I trust my dearest
Mother you will not allow yourself to grieve on account of it, and
that you will only consider it as one of the dispensations of the
Almighty who frequently seperates bosom friends for the wisest of purposes.
By useless sorrow you may increase the violence of the headaches
with which you have been so long troubled, and thereby seriously injure
your health your possession of which is the greatest blessing that can befal
[befall?] your children. I beseech you therefore to be careful of what we
all have a common interest in. Besides I am sure your fondness for
William will make you suffer with patience anything which may be conductive
to his welfare. Although compared with him I scarcely deserve a
place in your heart yet may I hope that you still bestow a thought
on my poorself. Ah! My dear Mother I never sufficiently appreciate what
I owe to you. Your affection for me was more than maternal and to
you I am indebted for what alone gives a true value to life, a sense of
religion. Your own examples and instructions are still enshrined in my
heart, and will I trust live forth in my actions. I never knew the
extent of their utility till I grew up and mixed with the world, and then
I had often reason to thank the early monitor who beckoned to virtue.
Whatever may be my faults, be assured my heart is not corrupted, and
it might perhaps solace some bitter moment to know that your son Henderson
daily implores blessing on your head. May I trust that I am still
favoured by your good wishes. If I enjoy your blessing let the world
go as it may, I can't be otherwise than content. Without it I must be
miserable. I hope I have your forgiveness for whatever may have appeared
remiss at any time in my conduct towards you, or for any sort of negligence
May Heaven preserve you for many years to come
Your most affectionate
P.S. Have just received from London, two trunks left there which I wrote
for from Genoa, being very much in want of linen. I now wish they
had not come as my stay here is very uncertain, and they will only be an
additional encumbrance on my return. I find my memorandum in one of
them that Mr. Rose's letter was sent by Mr. Gibb to my uncle about Dec.
[December?] last. It cant however be of any service. I was quite rejoiced to
hear from Wm. [William?] that he was on the point of being united to an
amiable companion for life. This event will doubtless be a source of the
greatest gratification to you, and I am anxiously waiting to hear of its
having taken place.