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Title: T. H. Wightman, Edinburgh, Scotland to his Mother, [U.S.A.?].
CollectionIrish Emigration Database
FileWightman, Henderson/148
SenderWightman, Henderson
Sender Gendermale
Sender Occupationstudent
Sender Religionunknown
OriginEdinburgh, Scotland
Recipient Genderfemale
SourceT 1475/1 p.16: Copied by Permission of Miss A. McKisack, 9, Mount Pleasant, Belfast.
ArchiveThe Public Record Office, Northern Ireland.
Doc. No.9006049
Partial Date
Doc. TypeLET
LogDocument added by JM 01:09:1993.
Word Count3360
26th December 1817
My Dear Mother,
It affords me the most heartfelt delight, that my long
narrative contributed so much to your entertainment, and the knowledge
that it did so, will be a most powerful inducement to my farther
exertion towards enlivening you in my absence. I most cordially
sympathize with you, regarding the safe arrival of William, I know
the great pleasure you must feel in his having escaped all the
dangers of the Atlantic Main, which though scarcely perceptible in the
eye of a Mariner are yet in the eyes of those unaccustomed to thinking
on such a vast body of waters, evils of no small moment, and I am
convinced in your view they must assumed a most serious magnitude.
I long to hear something more than about the excellence of the American
Apples. The intelligence of their safe arrival was a sufficient feast
in itself, without the introduction of a dessert; but this, I daresay
was by way of giving you a taste of the first fruits of the expedition.
Since I find you derived so much gratification from the early part of
my narrative, I will go on with the remainder. At Glasgow, as I have
already informed you, I had the good fortune to hear Dr. Chalmers, the
celebrated Orator of the North of the Tweed. It was on the day on
which the remains of the Princess Charlotte were interred. He had
been on a visit to his Father at a considerable distance, and was sent
for express to deliver the Funeral Sermon. Printed notices were posted
outside, that no strangers could be admitted, till the usual congregation
were accommodated. The doorkeepers, accordingly were at their post,
and those who applied for admission, if not known, were questioned, and
unless they could give a satisfactory account, obliged to stop outside.
I went up to the gallery door, and after waiting for some time with the
greatest patience, the doorkeeper, touched I suppose with the unassuming
weakness of my department, allowed me to step in on condition, that I
was to remain in the back part, till the arrival of the Preacher, when
I might move where I pleased. You might perhaps be led to think from
the favour conferred on me, that I had been permitted to take a seat.
This however, would have been too great a luxury, and Fortune sufficiently
smiled on me, in allowing me to stand for a couple of hours.
In fact, from the struggles made by the crowd assembled, the place
looked more like a Theatre, than a house of Worship. I remarked, to
a decent looking man, at my left hand, that Dr. C [Chalmers?] had been limited
very much as to time for preparing a discourse. Ah! said my neighbour
shaking his hand very significantly "A great mind like his, is never
at a loss". The people positively think him little less than a
Superior being. I have little doubt, that numbers suppose him to be
inspired, and if looks could at all influence the credulous, his might
favour the belief. His face is extremely thin - of a deathly pale,
and in his eyes there is a peculiar wildness of expression. The countenance
altogether is that off one who has studied and thought much. He
delivered a most animated discourse. The text, if I recollect right,
was "When the judgment of the Lord are abroad the inhabitants of the
earth learn righteousness." He took occasion to remark that there
were whole crowds, who flocked to Church on any occasion like the
present, when the service was connected with the State, or relating
to any political event, but that these very persons, who took care
never to be absent on occasions of the foregoing nature, were the
first to neglect their duties at the season of any of the awful
solemnities of the Christain religion. That there was a class of
men, who raised a cry of faction through the land, who were themselves
by the agency of a most corrupt example, and of the most profligate
lives, doing all in their power to insult the gospel of Christ, and to
spread impiety through the Kingdom. That in order to have a loyal people
we must have them throughly instructed in religious duty. For this
purpose, ten times as many Churches would become desirable. He wished
to see the time, when poor and rich would sit together promiscuously
in the house of God, and when all artificial distinctions, which existed
at present, would be abolished. There were numbers, whole multitudes,
who could not afford to pay for a seat, and who should not therefore
be prevented enjoying the consolations of public worship. In this
I perfectly coincided with him, but I thought that however just might
be his censure of some political parties, his allusion to them from
the pulpit was rather vehement. "Those are the men - he said - who
if the Preacher were to be absent from his post, on such an occasion
as the present, would denounce him as a dengerous and suspicious
character, but let me tell these subalterns in the den of partizanism
these vapouring swaggering loyalists, that they are the very men themselves,
who spread discontent and disseminate a spirit of disaffection"
The discourse, it must be confessed wandered very much from the disastrous
event which had occasioned it, and on account of which they had
all assembled. It evinced the boldness of the speaker, in delivering
his sentiments, but many of them might have been introduced with more
propriety at another season. The sermon has been since published at
the general request, and sought after with the same evidity as the
preceding works of this popular divine. But to return to his manner
and distinquishing characteristics, as an orator, he is a man, whose
powerful genius has overcome many obstacles, which were thrown in his
way by his physical constitution; for his apperance is far from being
prepossessing. His action is completely unallied to grace, and may be
even pronounced awkward, and to sum up the whole of his natural
imperfections, his voice is rather weak, shrill and little susceptible of
variety of modulation. You may readily conclude, that his mental energies
are very great to counterbalance so many blemishes. He has indeed many of
the first requisites of an Orator - a powerful imagination, great
originality of thought, and uncommon enthusiasm. His whole
frame co-operates with the fervour of his mind, and he seems to exert
every muscle, both of face and body in the cause he is asserting. His
action by persons of refined taste would be styled excessive, and
extravagant. It must be admitted however, that on the body of the people
such excess has a wonderful effect, and contributes greatly to rouse
them from that topor, by which they are usually seized in the confined
air of a church. Although his tones are shrill, yet there are times
in which they produce a wonderful effect, not by pleasing, but by
awaking a deep emotion. Whilst with thoughts of the first order,
expressed in the most engrgetic language, he is hurrying from clause
to clause of a long sentence, his whole frame convulsed with agitation,
almost breathless in the violence of his emotion, and exiting a
similiar agitation in the breasts of his auditors, it is extraordinary,
what an effect he produces. It is on the same principles that a
musical instrument, from a continued recurrence of tones, not the most
agreeable in themselves, will produce the most powerful sensations, and
almost urge some individual to a patch of madness. His voice flows
through the deep stillness, which pervades the house, as a mighty
torrent pours its streams through the solitude of nature. In describing
the approaches of Death, and the late striking instance, which the
King of Terrors had given of his uncontrollable power, Dr. C. [Chalmers?] was
peculiarly energetic, almost terrifying the listening throng by the
force of his gestures, and the wildness of his cries. This latter
expression may seem perhaps somewhat ludicrous, but it is perfectly
correct. He gave a very feeling account of the sympathy, which the
poor are disposed to feel with their superiors, on occasion of any
domestic calamity; and how much it would contribute to the happiness
of the rich, if they would enter with a kindly interest in to the
concerns of their poorer brethern of mankind. It must be allowed that
he possessed an uncommon talent for the combination of ideas, giving the
aspect of novelty to whatever subjects as happens to touch on. If he also
possessed a greater power of close reasoning than he has, and were
less disposed to infringe on the purity of the English language, his
compositions would be admirable. A stranger who had never heard of
his fame, did he happen to hear him commencing the service, with a
broad Scotch dialect, which may be termed vulgar, and nothing remarkable
in his manner or delivery, would not be disposed to form the most
flattering opinion of him. It is only when he commences his sermons
that he resigns himself to the influence of his enthusiasm, and bursts
forth in astonishment on the listener. I have thought it necessary to
say something about a man, whose works have been so much the object
of admiration, and who has excited more of the public conversation
perhaps than any preacher who has held forth in Scotland, since the days
of John Knox. Nothing could exceed the solemn appearance which the
Church presented, there being scarcely one in it, who was not clothed
in deep mourning. It was indeed one scene of Sable, and all was the
most profound attention. It was on the stroke of four, when the
service was over. As the Coach was to set off at that hour, I was
obliged to lose no time in reaching the Inn, Imagine me to yourself,
hurrying from a scene of such affecting sorrow on an occasion fitted to
impress the mind with the most solemn thoughts hurrying away from the
place of worship to the bustle and uproar of a Mail-Coach, at the
moment of the vehicle setting off - the cries of the passengers bringing
their luggage and scrambling some inside and others on its top - the crack
of the whip, and the sound of the horn - such a scene of confusion agitation
and hurly-burly. It was such a transition as had never occured to me before,
and it was some time ere I could compose the current of my thoughts, which
had been so broken in the deepness and solemnity of their course. I mounted
up so precipitately to my elevated post,that the Porter of the Inn, who had
carried my Trunks, I suppose not being able to perceive me, was walking off
without his moiety of recompense. I shouted to him and threw down a sixpence,
which as fate would have it, winged its flight in a direction different from
that intended, and plumped right down into the dirty puddle of a gutter.
The man I dearsay had seen the colour of the silver, as it decended and
was dipping into the water. Though it had been but a halfpenny he
would most probably have thought it worth while "to pluck up a drowned
copper by the locks" from the miry bed in which it lay. Be that as
you please, he set his hands a diving for it with all their might and
main. Several of the bypassers, who had seen the descent of the coin,
had already stopped and others who beheld the group, and the man groping
so anxiously in the mire, swelled the number of the lookers on, so that
it grew in a short time to a very considerable assemblage. A greater
concourse could hardly be gathered together to witness the rescue of
a drowning man from his perilous state. What a trifler is man; every
insignificant circumstance can attract and fix his attention. Many of
those gazers had doubtless been returning from the Churches, and a
mere trifle was sufficient to engross their whole attention. We drove
on, leaving this silly multitude. I soon fixed my eyes on the moon,
which appeared in full splendour, an object of contemplation - how
beautiful how different from that I had quitted. My reveries were
speedily disturbed by a sort of sleepiness, which came over me, and
nothing strange occurred till the Coach-wheels rolled along the pavement
of the Metropolis, and the pride of Scotia.

I am in a lodging at present where the people are very
attentive. It is with a Mr. Skill No 4 Crichton St in case any friend
should come over during the winter and wish to see me - a thing however,
I don't think very likely. There is vacation for ten days at the
College, but that takes up very little of my time, as I only attend
the Moral Philosophy class, the Mathematical class which I proposed
attending, having unluckily been at the same hour. But I believe
it is well I do not attend it. I hope you spent a more agreeable
Christmas yesterday than I did. You could not have passed a more
solitary one. I went in the morning to the English Chapel, no regard
being paid by the Kirk of Scotland to the day, more than a common
week-day,and spent the evening with Milton, reading his beautiful Hymn on
the Nativity, and his poem of Paradise Regained. The verses signed
H.W. in the Dublin paper were not mine. A Monody has lately appeared
here, entitled the "Blighted Rose of Albion" to which I have a stronger
claim. I was induced to put my name at length, that any defects in the
poem might not be saddled on poor people, who are entirely innocent
and that I might bear the load of censure on my own shoulders. I have
printed it at my own expense and fear I will be considerably out of
pocket. This will sufficiently prove, that it was not written with
any venal view, but from a pure and unmixed feeling, which is perhaps
more than the most famed son of the muses in this part, could say were
he to write on a similar occasion. It consists of nearly 400 lines. I
have copied as much as I could at present for your perusal. With my
love to all at home.
I am your most affectionate Son,
T. H. Wightman.

A Monody
Hark! does November's desolating blast
Wail piteously fair Claremonts groves along;
Or, do the woods lament their verdure past
In Nature's dirge-like melancholy song?

The trees again in pride may blossom,
and spring may twine her charming braid,
Tho' withering in the earth's dark bosom,
Forms of celestial brightness fade.
Alas! 'tis not the wailing of the year,
For all her beauteous [tin-s?] departed;
But the deep sob, which broken-hearted
Anation pours beside a Royal bier;
For she is gone - the fairest Flower,
That ever bloomed in Britain's bower;
The richest brightest purest Gem
That ever graced a diadem!
And there is written on each grief struck face,
"What can this void e'er fill - this heavy loss

Throughout this land each Family
Hath lost a member, though fate tore
From Feeling's heart a dearest tie,
And left it bleeding at its core,
Ev'n Labour's hardy offspring melt
and tears adorn each toil-worn cheek
Their honest sympathhy bespeak.
Oh! be the stroke in meek endurance felt-
Let us the Chastening Hand adore!
Yet still her loss our fruitless sighs deplore,
To whom is fond idolatry
Each in the heart's warm homage knelt
As tho'a Seraph glided by-

Snatches from this world, in youthful bloom,
To the dark mansions of the tomb
In life's gay prime, when countless pleasures
Before her spread their choicest treasures
Whilst round the golden visions flew
Bright as Aurora's loveliest hue,
She saw the future seasons roll,
And streams of happiness expand,
Beneath her guardian mild control,
Over a cheerful smiling land
When her beneficence - unbounded-
Would scatter blessings o'er her Realms:-
How sweetly then these accents sounded,
The faint voice of that rapture, which o'erwhelming
Mild Virtue's picturings, the spotless breast:-

Of Britain's Daughter I am surely happiest"
Sweet innocence of soul, which thus could keep
Communion with benevolent intent,
Most hapless people, fated not to reap
The Harvest of a soil, which richest promise lent!

From gilded palaces of pride,
Ev'n to the humblest straw-roofed shed,
Hath rolled Afflictions bitter tide,
Far darker than the sable show
The garb "the mockery of woe"
Within the heart's recess is spread
A settled gloom. The cypress shade
Blackly overhangs each British hearth
As though the hopes which round her play'd
Lay buried with her in the earth.

This alludes to the affecting exclamation, which
the Princess has been heard to make
"That she was the most happy woman in
her father's Dominions"

For she appeared - a beauteous light,
Beaming from its exalted height
Across the billows of the main;
Which as the tempests wildly sweep
Driving their night-beclouded bark,
Poor Mariners - so wistful - mark,
With hope, but hurried o'er the deep,
They lose and never aee again!
Albion! lament, your Princess is no more!
Wail -Caledonia! round your rocky shore;
And, Erin wake your Harp's most melting tone,
For Charlotte the beloved - Alas for ever gone!

Sent to the world - she seemed as if to bless,
With bright examples, Grandeur's thoughtless train,
Through Pleasure's maze passing phantoms vain
Of every Virtue the mild monitress.
In her life's Crystle mirror, Britain's fair -
Gazing had found each moral beauty there,
And in her royal home, domestic worth
Blossoming had shed the sweetest fragrance forth.

'Tis in Adversity's hard lot,
In wants oft needed intercourse,
Within the Peasant's simple cot
Affection resigns with stronger force;
And hard it is among the great
Slaves to the cruel forms of State,
Which sunder nature's links, to find
The soft endearments of the kind
But tho' in Charlotte's breast there rushed
Pure blood of royalty, yet never
More limpid springs of kindness gushed
than flowed in Sparkling currents there;
And laved her downy plume - the Snow-white Dove

Of Sympathy, within that stream of blandest love.

Ye bowers of Claremont! ye have withnessed oft
The secret gifts her lily hand bestowed,
In showers of bounteousness, overflowing soft
On Poverty's obscure and chill abode -
Like dew descening on the desert drear
Of the poor widow's loneliness, who bade
Her little ones out-spread their hands in prayer
For the good giver of such timely aid
That Benefactress like the morning breeze
Whose life balm all may breathe, but none it's light from sees.

How she will fair upon her fine arch'd brow,
As polished ivory clear sat [-andour?] - Truth!
Expression warmed each lineament. In sooth,
she was as perfect as an Angel's vow!

Grace hung o'er every motion bending
Each look an inborn entity possessed,
Yet there a sweetness, gently blending
The gaze of each be holder blessed,
As Heaven's bright bow, on whose majestic sweep
The softest beauties of the sun-beam sleep!


Here follows a description of her [?] happiness.
The sudden change at Claremont from joyful preparations to
mourning - description of the Mother and Infant laying dead,
address to Death - anguish of Prince Leopold, the loss which
Britain has sustained, anticipation of the probable glories of
her reign, the excellence of her moral principles - Bishop
[Portous?] blessing, conclusion. This is an outline of what is
contained in the remainder of the Poem. I am sorry I have no
opportunity of sending you a printed copy. The above will however,
serve for the present. It was originally upwards of 500 lines, but
I curtailed it as much as possible.

Direct to the College as usual.
I beg you will accept my best wishes on the approach of the New
Year. It is too late to wish you a Merry Christmas.