Main content

Title: Bruke, Thomas to Ould, Sir Fielding, 1766-67
CollectionIrish Immigrants in the Land of Canaan. Letters and memoirs from colonial and revolutionary America (1675-1815) [K.A. Miller et al.]
SenderBruke, Thomas
Sender Gendermale
Sender Occupationphysician
Sender Religionunknown
OriginNorthampton Co., Virginia, USA
DestinationDublin, Ireland
RecipientOuld, Sir Fielding
Recipient Gendermale
Relationshipnephew - uncle
Doc. No.
Partial Date
Doc. Type
Word Count2037
Genreappeal for recognition
TranscriptThomas Burke, Northampton County, Virginia, to Sir Fielding Ould, Dublin, ca. 1766– 1767
You may please to recollect that one of the last times I had the pleasure of visiting you, you refused to see me Since that day I have held a long struggle between Indignation and Natural affection The latter has at length prevailed and in Spite of every thing I must confess my Self full of Natures weak, Efeminate feelings: a Strong proof of it is my not being able to resist very Vehement Solicitations for the welfare of my relations in Ireland and Chiefly you next to my father and mother notwithstanding I have wrote several letters, and repeatedly requested some acct of domestic concern but I suppose I have had the Misfortune to be thought a troublesome and Insignificant correspond t best answered by Neglect. I cannot repine at this Fate when I consider it as common to all to whom Fortune has not been liberally Indulgent, but sure in my Example there have been circumstances of a peculiarly Melancholy reflection, without a Crime nor prone to any Vice, one almost free even from the Levity of Persons of <my> Age, abandoned, persecuted, denied even Justice, the common birth right of mankind but I would not willingly trouble either your Imagination or my own with those excruciating Scenes which I hope are forgotten by all except one upon whom they have made so deep an Impression as my self and quem semper acerbatum Semper honoratum Sic dii voluisti habebo My dear uncle after easing my Breast in this manner I will Venture to address you in the Manner Nature points out to me and first let me entreat you to forget the Boy of fifteen and consider much difference between him and the Man of twenty two I cannot without reluctance unbosom my self to one whom I so much reverence and regard, and yet I know not to whom I should more properly do it in Short Sir tho here placed in a Situation much fitter to provoke envy than Inspire Pitty having the first Men of a Country my Friends and Intimates and much more did not my Modesty prevent my Expression, I am far from being Happy, I want the Bosom of my Friends and my Native Country could I carry America to Ireland or bring Ireland hither I should be completely blest, but so tenderly am I attached to the one and So valuable and engaging are my connexions here that I should with much reluctance enjoy either at the Expence of the other You will no doubt wonder what should procure me the Situation I have above hinted For I dare say you know me none of the most forward or Insinuating of Mankind Indeed Sir I should wa<i>ve the Satisfying your Curiosity in this point were I not writing at the Distance of three thousand Miles and that gentleman on whom above all others I would wish to be informed of every thing concerning me, another plea I will make in Excuse is that it must give you the pleasure alway attending Surprise and novelty for what can be more unexpected than my being at the head of the Literati of America Esteemed the Patern of Taste and Prince of Genius I am sure the Surprise arising from the above relations must require your taking Breath ere you can read the Manner of my coming by Such regard in points so unlikely You must no doubt have heard of the American Stamp Act, the unanimous opinion of America was that it was Illegal inexpedient and opressive Such was mine, as Such I confess I strenuously from my very Soul detested exposed and oposed it, for I am and ever shall be avowedly a passionate lover of liberty, and Hater of Tyranny, the Essence of the former I take to be being govern’d by Laws made with constitutional consent of the community ultimately Judged by that community and enjo<y>ing and disposing of their Property only agreeable to Will, and the Latter is undeniably any thing Subversive of those Priviledges, how far the Stamp Act was so sufficiently appears upon the very Face of it, and I shall say no more of it having introduced it only to let you know how I became conspicuous. then Sir I commenced Politician and the Place where I reside having been most Strenuous and early in its Oppositions was also the first to celebrate its repeal with Singular Festivity on this Occation I wrote a prologue which I shewd to one of my Intimates being notwithstanding fully determined to conceal the Author as much as might be and to give the Honor if any resulted from it to him whom I designd to Speak <of> it before the op<e>ning of the Entertainment, but my hopes of remaining in obscurity were vain and in very few Hours it was not only in every Bodys Hands but even in every Mouth every one of my acquaintance were no less surprised than I believe you will be upon this relation, and those who had the Influence of Friendship over me prevail’d upon me to give a very reluctant assent to its appearing in print Indeed Sir I was not vain enough to think that any production of mine much less that of a Single Morning, which this was, could deserve Such regard and the Extravagant encomiums given it by my Friends I ascribed rather to their affection than Judgement, but no sooner did it get abroad in print than universal Approbation reached from every Corner, the author was look’d upon as a prodigy of Genius but tis Time to leave a Subject which a man can not write even decently upon, and which I declare is far from being pleasing to me, nor Should I have gone thus far were not my Grand Maxim Magis Amicus Veritas. I can with truth protest that I am not infected with the ridiculous Folly of Vanity, I am displeased at being more conspicuous than is consistant with my Humble Fortune and Wishes, the Esteem of my associates I had already acquired and the utmost of my Ambition always has been Secura Quies et nescia fallere Vita I make no doubt but your curiosity is much inflamed to See this Performance which produced such Miracles, it is too long or I would gratify you [but] I will venture to give you a passage or two heartily wishing it may please you but entirely Indifferent whether it does the World or not for being no Candidate for Fame it will be no disapointment to me not to acquire any the Pasages I shall quote shall be a<s> short as [is] Possible the Argument is an Exhortation to Festivity on so Joyous an Occation mention is Made of several Material circumstances and Mr Pitt is introduced in the following Manner

Triumph America thy patriot Voice
has made the greatest of Mankind rejoice
Immortal Pitt, ever glorious Name!
Far, far unequalled in the rolls of Fame!
What Breast? (for Virtue is by all approved
And Freedom even by Asia’s Slaves beloved)
What Breast but glows with Gratitude to thee
Boast of Mankind! great Prop of Liberty!

after this America is represented as pa<y>ing gratefull Homage to her guardian raised by his Hand and flourishing beneath his care, and even now recovering and smiling with fresh verdure under his Shade after which the Speaker burst into the following rapture

Would ‘twere in Pity to mankind decreed
That Still a Pitt should to a Pit Succeed
When proud Oppression would subvert the Laws
That Still a Cambden should defend the Cause
Nor let’s forget the gallant Barre’s Merrit
His Tullys Periods and his Cato’s Spirit
His too an Honest independent Heart
Where fear nor Fraud nor avarice have part

Sir Will m Meridith is after wards respectfully Mentioned and the rapture is resumed

Proceed great Names! your mighty Influence Join
your country’s arts and Pollicies refine
Assist great Conway and reform the State
Bid peacefull Commerce resume her Seat
Bid British Navies whiten every Coast
And British Freedom every Country boast

I shall Pass on now Sir to give you the address to the Ladies with which it concludes

and you, ye fair, on whom our Hopes depend
Our future Fame and Empire <to> Extend
Whose fruitfull Beds shall dauntless Myriads yield
To fight for Freedom in some future Field
Resign each Dear [... ]
Today let gladness beam in every Face
Soften each smile and brighten every Grace
While the glad roofs with lofty Notes resound
With Grace Harmonious move the Mazy round
Make our Hearts feel the long forgotten Fire
Wake into Flame each spark of soft desire
Too long Indignant Tumults and alarms
Have made us heedless of your lovely Charms
But now beneath the downy wings of Peace
With Freedom blest our care will be to please
Each day the genial pleasure to improve
and add new Sweetness to connubial love

I am Sensible nothing here will appear to you worthy of the regard I have mention<ed> But the Subject was Popular and it came from a plant the least promising of such fruit true it was not my first Essay, for I have lisp’d in Numbers But I took all possible care to conceal my propensity having always dreaded the Idle Character of a Rhimer, but after this it were in vain to deny it and I have no hope of emerging from Ink befor my Emigration from America for tho by my knowledge of Short Hand I have been able to conceal every thing Heretofore yet I am not now able to resist the Importunity of my Friends for Such I will be bold to say I have you are I suppose desirous of knowing what Studies chiefly engage me, Moral and Natural Philosophy are my favorites but chiefly the Latter on acct of its utility in the Study and practice of Physic which I make entirely my Business I proceed on the certain Method of demonstration of Experiment, reject all Theory not reducible to proof, I have endeavoured to acquire an accurate knowledge of The Animal Mechanism and econimy, the properties of aliments and Medicine<,> Medicinal Phenomena, History of diseases and Medicinal operations, I am no Stranger to the Newtonian Principles and their application in Medicine In a word Sir I am and Shall be indefatigable in observations and reading the best Authors I can procure, and am determined if I ever shall be happy Enough to See Europe again to endeavour for a degree in Some of the first Colleges, while I am writing this I cannot help Lamenting that I cannot wth any certainty promise my Self an Answer which if I should be favor’d with I would wish to contain an account of every domestic occurrence of moment it were endless to Mention every person by Name I should wish to be dear to, but a far more than ordinary regard is due for me to Mrs Kath: Ould and I hope I am incapable of Ingratitude She cannot wish me more Affectionate to her than I am I hope my Parents are well but I dread to mention them, let me request you Sir to make Mention of me to Mr Shaw and his Lady and in a particular Manner to Miss Sidney That amiable young Lady has made herself doubly dear to me and I am certain she will be the last Person in Ireland or even the World whom I shall forget if any of my Cozens remember me it must be your Son William I wish him to be a good, Great, and Happy Man I am at length constrain’d to take leave of you Indeed tho my Life is a chearfull one, I have never Spent an Hour So agreeably Since my departure from Ireland as this wherein I have held conversation tho Imaginary with you, I wish you long Life, Health and prosperity and hope you will never have reason to doubt or Indignate my being your most dutifull and affectionate

Nephew and humblest
Tho Burke