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Full text of "Letter from M.H. Beede, dated 1861-11-20"

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MH Beede to Rachel Stevens 


Pawtucket 11 month. 20 1861 


My dear friend, 

Rachel B. Stevens, 

While sitting in my quiet room to pen a line to an acquaintance; now, of many years; I 
am too feebly sensible of the work of disease upon me, holding me a prisoner most of the time 
for eight months, and latterly, to my house, even to hope to put on paper anything more than 
an indication of my deep sympathy for thee, and those around thee, under the infliction of a 
wound upon the maternal heart and one, carrying its pangs through the loved circle of home. 

Little indeed, when writing thee and thy beloved children, after our peaceful return 
from Vermont, could I have conceived for thee, a cup so near at hand, wrung out to fullness, 
and mingled, not only with gall, but overrunning with tears of sorrow. 

That a tenderly cherished son, in his ready association with persons who, at this sad 
time, feel no scruples in regard to self defense or to defensive warfare, should imbibe, by 
degrees, the sentiment, that the necessities of the nation must lay upon us a moral obligation 
which takes away the entire force of the Divine command; ' resist not evil, love your enemies;' 
and give that moral obligation a kind of over-strained religious sanction, is, to my mind nothing 
strange - it is in perfect conformity with the spirit of this world; the dust of whose tumultuous 
stir is found too frequently blinding to the eyes of older children than our sons. Still, the 
frequency of the evil is no more a mitigation of the anguish of heart which it brings, than, to the 
sinking sufferer by disease, would be the assurance that he is, only one of a thousand, who are 
languishing under the same fatal malady. 

To our short vision, the future is always wisely, and often mercifully had[?]. And few can 
say more honestly than thou; ' mv heart knoweth it right well.' Yet when seriously thinking of 
this dear child; I have remembered the quieting suggestion of Paul to the Master of Onessinus; 
'perhaps he departed from thee, for a season, that thou mightest receive him again, forever' - 
that is; no more to leave thee. 

Trust him, dear Rachel, in the hands of that most merciful being who numbers the very 
hairs of our heads and who suffers not unnoticed a sparrow to fall. There, doubtless, are many, 
there are thousands, to whom the carnage of the field will open scenes, that will not need a 
tongue to plead; and to whom the thunders of the siege, more awful than those which roll 
along the lightning-parted skies, will bring convictions of the worth and sacredness of human 
life, that will not leave needful another Sinai nor another appointed Law giver, to proclaim the 
sacredness of the Law, ' Thou shalt not kill.' 

I am aware of the impotent cavil of fighting men, in view of this command; that it is only 
a forbiddance of the Hebrew to kill a brother Hebrew; but with Gentiles they were under no 
restraint. Let it so be. But under the Gospel, we are all brethren; and One is our Marter 
[martyr]; whose kingdom is not of this world. And what a coment [comment] on Christianity 
have we before us? 

The Bishop with his clergy and his laymen; the minister of every Church, (besides us) 
with his flock; the sober nonprofessor, and the self-reliant infidel of the South, all harmonize in 
challenge to arms [?], to the same embodiments of the North; and with hands uplifted to the 

















same merciful Lord, who neither for his own nor for his follower's sake, would suffer, even, the 
ear of the Highpriest's servant to perish; they draw to the conflict; Christianity upon Christianity 
and Infidelity upon Infidelity inflicting death in the name of him who died, that, we might live!! 

I pause for comment and there is no more. But this we do know; that Heaven has no 
place for anger, wrath or malice or unforgiving souls. Let those give place to deeds of Love, of 
Mercy, all longsuffering gentleness and goodness; and the world may then trust in God, and not 
in princes, who, though esteemed as 'Gods, shall die like other men.' 

I have little hope of living to see the day when this dread contest will be ended. I use 
the passive form of the word - be ended . Because I apprehend no power less than 
Omnipotence, can decide the issue between contending millions, lately the most favored of 
nations. When we shall have sufficiently chastised ourselves, as a nation for our sins great and 
deep in dye; that arm; undoubtedly, will take hold for our rescue. But in what way and what 
ground, the Supreme Ruler of Nations, will alone determine. In the endless combination of 
human affairs, our wisest purposes are liable to fall short of or go beyond the end designed. 
Man may propose; but on our[?] Divine, can dispose of events according to the counsels of the 
Sovereign well. Strong as our desires and our preferences of heart and mind may be for the 
restoration of former tranquility, and with it universal freedom to our Race; we are called - 
called upon, even for these blessings, to regard the teachings of the past: that great changes 
effecting the good of man, have clearly been brought about by an enerring providence, with 
very little of human agency, in the work; and often, in a way, by us unseen and unlooked for. 

Thou will overlook and pardon this undesigned diversion from a merly [merely] social 
line; and if it may not be my privilege (and that I quietly leave) to meet thyself and thine again; 
you have, each, in this the near sympathy of my dearest Huldah and our united Love and the 
tender and affectionate farewell of thy poor friend and brother 


Most gladly would we receive a line from thee. 


M.H. Beede