This letter also appears on the Victorian Web
This letter is a chatty 'social' letter written in very flowery language. It was written by Charles Storer in Hingham, a town in Massachusetts, situated in a small bay to the south of Boston Harbour. It is addressed to Mr Thomas Atkinson, 5 Newman Court, London — this still exists and is located in what is now Finchley, London.
There are no postal markings to show that the letter has originated in America. Other postal markings are
Now to the letter, which begins with no greetings, just straight into the letter. It sounds as if it is written by an old man, but the writing is beautifully clear and legible. Some of the words are spelled differently from the way we spell them nowadays, so I have reproduced it as he wrote it, beginning with health problems.
Hingham, 19th August, 1822
Often have I been with you, my good friend, in my mind's eye and as often would I have made it known to you by a written token, but listless, lifeless, & spiritless, by reason of many ails and infirmities, my pen has refused its wonted office & has escaped my hand, I am sorry for this seeming remissness in not replying to, nor even noticing your kind favor of February last. Excuse me when I say my spirit has been willing but the flesh has been weak. Still my active powers are circumscribed, and I remain the same solitary invalid, seeing no hopes of convalescence, I have therefore only to make myself as comfortable as I can & await the event.
I can truly simpathise with you in the sudden bilious attacks which have repeatedly brought you to your bed, but am relieved by your assurance that they are not deemed dangerous. May you long injoy the health which you say is now restored to you
I am very glad that a settlement has been made with your Uncle & with J.A. & Son and lament that it has not been more agreeable to your feelings & interest, which ought in an especial manner to have been primarily considered. I know that your demand was large and was glad it was secured on might be considered ostensibly good property, presuming there would be wanting no good will in a fair & amicable adjustment & settlement. That you should think you have sufficient cause to think otherwise I very much regret — and as much admire your candour & benevolence, in suppressing further unfriendly thoughts that might interrupt the harmony of families so near akin. May you long enjoy the pleasurable effect of so virtuous a sentiment.
Note: from an internet contact (Gus Widmayer) in Boston, Mass., I have learned that the Atkinson and Storer families were related by marriage and that John Atkinson from England married Elisabeth Storer from Boston. This paragraph therefore may concern a family business. The Storer family was well known and well represented in the trades directories of Boston in the 1800's, but the houses in which they lived no longer exist — - their place having been taken by Court Houses. The next paragraph is very intriguing, as it sounds as though George has left Boston in order to 'forget' a young lady.
I am much gratified in the information of the general health of your family & of your Uncle Francis & particularly that George has been so fortunate in his new connection. I hope his studies will not impair his health. Should they have this effect, you will know where to dispose of him, since where he has been once cured he may be again. Will you accompany him, & shake off your bilious humors into the Atlantick? If you think George's spirits will bear it, you may communicate to him, what I learn from a late Boston Paper — - that Miss Cornelia Romana Susanna Little is married to a Mr Brown. I send this to you that you may break it to him by degrees, fearing lest he may accidentally hear of it, and the shock overset him. This may wean him from the 'North End' of our town (Now a City,) in case he visits us again.
Note: I find the next paragraph very interesting, because of the reference to the Americans — - my Oxford English Dictionary defines a Yankee as an inhabitant of New England, and I am surprised to see it used by an American as long ago as 1822. Also the writer's ironic comment on the reputation of the Americans.
It is with pleasure that I have your assurance that my young friend Mr Coolidge has in some measure done away the prejudice which English folks allow themselves to indulge against us poor Yankees. We bear it hardly, but hope that time & further acquaintance may obtain us more credit. We might select adventurers here from your Country, whom you would not allow us to call the pride of your Island, nor would we hold them up as true samples of Englishmen. Let us be candid & praise where we can. Mr Coolidge's family are much gratified at the favor Joseph has gained. He will be in England again next Winter, and I hope his acquirements on the Continent will not make him otherwise than the Modest American a character that may exist — Make my regards to him.
We are much shocked at the distressing accounts, detailed in our Papers, of the sufferings in Ireland. I am much at a loss to account for this, since the Commonalty of that Country are so easily fed, and the soil so productive.
My sister, Mrs Johnson is at present at the Falls, & will visit Middletown, New Haven, & N. York this fall — after which she will pass the winter here with me. I may need her aid, and she would not be absent when it should be required.
Note: He ended the letter with comments on international and then family affairs showing that the news from Ireland was known in Boston. From an historian friend I have learned that the potato crop failed in November 1821; by June 1822, fever was spreading through the west of Ireland, hitting the families who were already weakened by the famine. It seems to have been "just" a crop failure — nothing like the Famine of 1845-9.
He then closed the letter with usual greetings
To your good Mother & family present my cordial good wishes for health & happiness, and to yourself the sincere esteem of N. Thomas
Yr Frd & Humb Servt
Note: however on the outside of the letter has been written :- Geo Storer — Hingham Aug 19 1822 — not Chas Storer who actually signed the letter inside.
|John Atkinson||Elisabeth Storer|
By one of those co-incidences that happen in life, Gus was talking to a friend in the public library, and explained he was looking for the Storer family details. Surprisingly, she told him that she was researching the Atkinsons who married into the Storer family. Later, she kindly e-mailed me pictures of John Atkinson from Kirby Moreside in England and Elisabeth Storer of Boston, both of whom died and were buried in Vermont.
Although I have not managed to confirm details of the writer it is possible that he was a son of Ebenezer Storer (who was later treasurer of Harvard) and and if so this interesting passage from "John Adams" by David McCullough, Simon & Schuster, 2001, p. 274 may refer to him.
U.S. President John Adams traveled to France to negotiate the Treaty of Paris with the British in October 1782. With him were John Thaxter, [former law clerk of Adams's and tutor to his children], and an additional new secretary for the work at Paris, Charles Storer, a recent graduate of Harvard.
Alan W. Robertson: The Ship Letter Stamps of Liverpool & Great
Britain Post Roads, Post Towns and Postal Rates 1635-1839.
Willcocks & Jay: The British County Catalogue of Postal History (London)
Addendum 17th January 2006.
I was contacted by a visitor to this site Peter Jangaard who kindly gave me this confirmation.
Charles STORER was born in 1761 in Boston, Suffolk Co., Massachusetts and died on 10 September 1829 in Boston, Suffolk Co., Massachusetts at age 68. He was a graduate of Harvard College in 1779; was Secretary of Legation to John Quincy Adams, Minister to France in 1779. He came to Bellows Falls, Vermont about 1790 in the interest of himself and his brother-in-law John Atkinson in connection with their investments in Vermont lands and property.
He was intimately connected with the Atkinsons in the building and management of the Bellows Falls Canal up to 1814, and was clerk of the corporation from 1804 to 1814. He lived in a small house standing on the island about where the Bellows Falls Machine Company's manufacture does at the present time (1907). He was a very cultivated man and spent most of his time among his books. He returned to Boston and died there in1829. He never married. (Hayes 1907).
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