Had a letter from Pa & Ma on Friday with every thing but encouraging news. Ma had been not very well but was gaining. It seems hard for her to be drawn from home & friends to be sick in a lonely city & alone. May Heaven maintain her & may she live to see better days. On every hand the prospects are to me full of dark forebodings but God knows the whole & I am in His protection.
May 6th  Wed Morn Ithaca. I returned last evening from Wlle & found Julia apparently better — her symptoms somewhat changed but seeming a little easier. This morning the letter just penned to W.S.F. will tell the change—
The exception made in my note of Monday to you obliges me to once more disappoint you.* But my beloved Wm think no more of disappointments from me for Heaven alone knows my destiny or can remove the dark & lurid gaze of full Despair as he throws from day to day around me his adamantine chains. No No think no longer of one who can yeild you no comfort or talk to you as in days that are gone — bright Halcyon days. What have I to do with the past — the present — the future — my last hope gone my doom sealed. — God knows all & may yet in the hidden mysteries of His Providence avert the blow but Omnipotence alone can do it. —— Monday Julia seemed gaining & her physicians; seemed encouraged — this morning she seems fast — Oh can it be — shall it be — fast leaving earth & her physicians give up all hope save a bare possibility. They will both be in this PM & will do what they can — but hope not — expect not but the worst. —— Gracious heaven & has it come to this & must she leave me — No I cannot think it. — she will yet remain.
Idle talk — then may I go with her & live together — together die. — She says nothing but I think her mind is fixed her hope thrown only upon the future — her face turned Heaven ward. — I can say no more my head seems confused & my mind no longer able to control my pen. — You will hear often from me & perhaps I may see you. — Think not of me — let other anxieties hold your cares & thoughts. Yours in distress A.M.P.
PS She has had a fever & we were in hopes that when it left her she would recover, but her disease has returned with great malignity to her lungs, & she is already extremely weak & debilitated — her constitution broken — her all — the spoils of that most dreadful victor Consumption.
Her way down will probably be rapid. Pray for her, for us all —
* The note promised him a visit on Thursday if Julia was no worse.
May 7th  Thursday A.M. This morning brings with it more comfortable appearances in Julia. She rested quietly & seems quite free from pain. — Yesterday was to me a day of deep anxiety & full of solemn interest. In writing to W.S.F. Henry & Mother I felt that I was making a last, sad, farewell to the bright prospects once before me & that I was loosing my attachments to earth in loosing the hope that my dear & affectionate Julia would not remain to cheer my way thro’ life. —— This morning I feel more reconciled to what I cannot help & encouraged by Julia’s present easy circumstances am ready to cling to hope again as a drowning man to a straw. Oh may God make her bed in sickness & put beneath her His sustaining hand giving her grace sufficient for her day. This morning standing at her bedside she asked me what the Dr thought of her. I told her he thought there was some inflammation on the lungs. Said she Does he say I shall never get well? I said he did not say in a tone meaning to give her neither encouragement or grounds for discouragement. She said no more for a time when feeling a great desire to know her mind I said, What do you think of yourself ? She replied— ‘I do not think my symptoms alarming at present except the turns of coughing & I cannot survive many of more.’
She also said as she has done before that unless she was better before fall she could not live. At another time said she– I may out-live you all, we cannot tell. — From these expressions I concluded she yet hoped she should recover but in reality feels very doubtful.
This morning she seems so comfortable & having coughed none since yesterday morning she appears to look & feel like herself. I attribute all to the effect of the morphine which she is taking in small doses every 2 hours & fear that her strength is nearly all artificial. She has no appetite & quite a sore mouth. Cannot sit up but is moved from one bed to another. May Heaven soon free her from this lingering state either in restoring her to us, or in removing her from this world of pain & death to the abodes of peace & joy beyond the dark vale of death.
But Oh the thought of parting with the wife of my bosom. The idol of my heart. Sooner part with life & live with her in the future. My feelings are so various from hope to fear & fear to despair & back again to hope that I cannot describe them or write what I most wish, my thoughts.
May 8th  Friday. Thro’ the PM of yesterday Julia seemed drowsy but appeared very comfortable. She continued so thro’ the night resting easy but wakened by a word. The hectic flush was most alarmingly beautiful in the PM giving the sure & undoubted assurance that disease was at work within. Oh how dreadful how delusory is that almost purple glow, the seal of Consumption. She said nothing about herself & I know not how, when she seems so comfortable & probably expecting to recover again, to tell her that Hope has fled. And must I ever? The thought at times sets my brain on fire & I wish myself in her situation, soon to leave this scene of death & sorrow. Gladly would I recognize & acknowledge the hand of justice in her illness & say ‘Thy will be done’ relinquishing her forever from my embrace, but darkness & doubt fills my mind & I complain of Him who cannot do wrong. God of Mercy extend thine arm & draw away the veil of thick gloom, making all things seem so remote from the best good of those that love God.
Julia feared very much another turn of coughing this morning but has remained almost entirely free thus far (1/2 past 10 AM) I want much, very much to make known my feelings to her but it is a mountain I dare not climb, so long as there is the smallest hope left that she may ever return to her friends. Her physician says the comfortable state in which she remains gives a possibility, as it stays up the system & allows the inflammation to subside if it has any disposition so to do. He gives no other encouragement & as a straw we catch at this, yet almost knowing that she will soon ascend to heaven. The signet of Consumption flushed one cheek this morning causing our hearts to faint within us. I fear much that Mother follow ere long, as her steps are numberless & her care — heart breaking, silent & unknown save by the long drawn sigh. May Heaven sustain her, for with her rests the staff of the family.
May 9th  Saturday. In the PM of yesterday Julia expressed a wish for something to eat & thought a robin would be good. I left her & with Jehiel Williams went for some. We travelled from 4 till 7 & saw nothing of bird kind worth taking till within the last half hour in which we succeeded in taking one.
On my return she seemed about as usual but during the evening was very much exhausted & we trembled lest she might leave us unexpectedly.
She remained so until morning when there seemed a strong indication of her coughing but it passed over & she awoke from a slumber appearing quite easy. — I felt deeply oppressed with a desire to know fully her mind about recovering, & asked her if she had any hopes of getting well? She wondered why I asked that question again & I told her I had not asked that question, & after saying she thought I had (the questions I asked before were directed to the same point but indirect) she said – I have not thought I should ever get up since I was first taken down! meaning her last confinement. I felt that a burden was taken from my mind & burst into a Ft of weeping at which she said ‘Weep not for me — if one is taken & the other left all will be right for the same Hand that does the one does the other, & He will do justly.’
Being very weak she spoke only at intervals but calmly indeed pleasantly just like herself. Said she, You always thought too much of me & perhaps that is the reason I must leave you. I told her I had expected great happiness in life – her reply was we see or can learn I could not tell which – ‘that we must not place our affections on worldly things.’
She made some other remarks that have escaped my mind now – but from her looks & the calm happy smile that lit up her countenance I thought she too had removed a load from her mind. — Since that she has been very cheerful & meets me with a most heart cheering kiss.
— If consumption was contagious I should think I should have it as my lungs feel sore.
Julia has for the fore-noon felt very comfortable & happy. She has eaten more than for several days before. — This is comforting if it does not afford hope, that she should be so free from pain & feeling so easy. But poor Mother I pity her, for she seems to live alone with Julia & has appeared almost heart-broken this morning. —— I have just written a letter to my own dear Mother & regret most deeply that she may not be here. —— Evening 9 oclk The sick one, remains in her usual easy state, being rather stupid than other wise. Her pulse appears about as strong as for several days but her symptoms show the steady progress of disease.
May 10th  Sabbath. Thro’ the night especially about midnight & after Julia was quite disposed to cough & with considerable, were we able to quiet her. She slept little & has slept but little thro’ the day (5 oclk PM). Within two or three hours she has been very much depressed with some appearance of coughing. Her pulse has remained about the same as usual. It makes me tremble when I think of her coughing. Disease is evidently busy within & tho’ we may be able to keep her quiet she will notwithstanding soon go hence.
Seeing Elizabeth reading she asked what she was reading, it being the bible she requested her to read to her — Elizabeth Psalm — & after finished asked if she should read more Julia replying ‘not now for it tires me but another time perhaps I will.’
After a time she said – What a devotional man David was. His psalms are beautiful – I loved to read the psalms. —— Being much depressed for a time & appearing more composed I said to her Do you realize that will leave us soon? She replied I cannot (or do not) expect to stay long with you. I may not get the precise words but so far as practicable had rather her expressions generally being clear & impressive. —— To see her depart is to see the departure of my brightest hopes of earthly happiness, but it pains me to see her suffer knowing I cannot in any alleviate her tyrant, leech-like pain – and I could wish her at peace.
May 11th  Monday. This has been a day of most awful consequence, a day that I shall remember with most peculiar minuteness.
I watched with Julia & felt thro’ the night that great events were hanging upon a few coming hours.
This AM about 10 oclk Julia being awake I commenced conversation with her & it being quite extended I cannot now reduce it to writing. She spoke with a free full voice & said much – much that I never expect again to hear. But I cannot write.
Julia has taken absolutely nothing save the morphine since about 9 or 10 last evening & it seems every time she takes the morphine it will be the last. Nothing supports her but that & O may God remove her from this bed of death. It is her birth-day & she may go before the day is over.
Yet when I look at her & see the most perfect composure, the calm sweet resignation my heart is still & I feel that all is right. In all her late confinement I have not seen her shed a tear but once this morning when conversing with me her eyes were full & she was deeply affected.
May 12th  Tuesday 1/4 past 3 PM The awful scene is thro’ — the last dread conqueror Death claimed his victim in one of the most ghastly haggard deathly struggle I ever before heard of or saw. Julia is happy — Albert is wretched.
May 13th  Wednesday. The sun rose in cloudless beauty & the sky without a spot looks calm as ever — spring is smiling & putting on her verdant & soft robe. The choristers of the air sing sweetly & all the world of nature knows no change save the steady unending tread of time.
With man — how different! The subject of changes — the being whose life knows nothing but the monotonous ever-changing, never-ending effect of God’s unknown unseen Hand — save by the for-ever past scenes in life.
Julia! Where is Julia? Oh where hast thou flown my dear, my own dear Julia! Hast thou gone forever? Wilt thou come no more back? Julia! dear Julia? say where art thou — tell me thou loved one — the better portion of my life.
She comes? Oh she comes? Ah & is it Julia — Imagination what doest thou why cheat me so? —— Silence. Silent — I wait — Solitude dreadful, where are thy charms — No soft step — no soft voice strikes my ear. But what is that I hear — there is a sound — it comes — it quickens it thunders thro’ my Soul awful as the crash of natures most awful thunders. Oh my Soul! What do I hear — dead! gone!! you see Julia no more!!!
Ah I know it is so — but my heart heeds not the tale. It seems not possible, it cannot be. She sleeps & will arise soon, more beautiful than before & will throw herself into my arms the picture of angel beauty, the possessor of Heaven’s happiness.
No more mine, yet mine most dear thou art indeed gone & tho’ the reality will not tell me so, yet I know thou art — else I had watched thy slumbers thro’ the vigils of the last night. I know for I saw thee fall asleep with a soft Farewell on those lips once so sweet. I know for they tell me so, yes & thou art gone for I have looked at the house in which thou hast lived. Closed — barred — silent — lonely — death-like is that house.
‘Tis thine no more! Why should I look upon it, why but because they tell me it was once Julia’s. And therefore why? Come back & open those windows, unbar those doors — make music within, let silence begone — let life be there & then! Oh then will I come & will call thee mine — mine most dear.
Fare-well & may I learn to live in view of a coming day when I too may leave this dreary world. Again comes that sound — it comes not as before but like a zephyrs breath — like angel’s whisper — it steals over my heart like the chill of death — yet comforting it comes & in it I hear the familiar voice as once it said — Weep not for me.
Why should I weep? Julia weeps no more but rejoices — happy in God — freed from earth she lives, her bosom swelling with rapture, her tongue tuned to the sweetest song of Heaven — the song of man’s redemption. —— Cursed be the day when Sin bred Death & when man became mortal. Had that day never dawned or its sun never rose, then would man been like the occupant of Paradise — living in a world when beauty reigns & where every law makes its servant happy.
May 14th  Thursday. The last & closing services to the relics of the departed one are going on — from every thing that is said or done — are the evidences known that the last sad scene will soon be over. Friends call & make their willing & kindly intentioned sympathies known — lending the hand to help — when needed, & speaking a consoling word to those who mourn.
Oh that my dear friend Wm were here — how lonely do I feel & welcome would be his presence. His dearest, most affecting letter how tender & touching are those lines how nearly my loss is shown & with what heart-felt affection does he at once anticipate my every thought. Tho’ dear beyond expression is that dear friend, yet one there is that will be ever mine who can heal every wound & cure every pain. In him let me trust, & in His grace let me live — live to die die as Julia died — dying happy. Happy as the Christian dies.
The very thought of leaving this more than parental roof is painful in the extreme — but to think of going to Elmira away from friends, among strangers & far from those whose hearts are love — this is too much.
To think of going back to the room prepared for Julia & see her comfort, or preparations for her comfort & those living letters fixed on all She is gone Oh this is scarce endurable. But with grace from heaven & the resolution drawn from Julia’s own request I go.
May 15th ‘40 Friday. The night has fled & morning is present with us — the morning preceding one of the most interesting scenes in life. — Preparations — mournful preparations fore-token the last services due the departed. But Oh the contrast. Nearly eight months agone — stood Albert & Julia upon the same spot where now lies the remains of the then lovely bride — now the bride of Death. Smiling & affectionate she imprinted the wife’s first kiss where now those lips lie silent — saluting friends, dear friends — where friends salute but once again & in place of laughing smiles — a tribute of tears. O can it be indeed true? Julia! for-ever departed! Has death shut those eyes for-ever & will they no more greet me in their radiant & soul-enlivening rays! Will a few more hours separate from me all that is now left of my dear wife — my dear Julia? Truly this is true & I must live no more for her. It seems not so & yet again I feel fully the solemn reality.
May 16th  Saturday. Day after day rolls away & bring to me but the melancholy tidings of the absence of Julia. But Oh what an hour was that of yesterday that carried to perfection the heart-breaking contrast, — the contrast wrought not in imagination’s dull view — standing out in bold relief upon the canvass of reality.
In the morning it was warm with every appearances of being a warmer day than Thursday & it was considered imprudent to defer the funeral any longer for Henry. In the PM the sky was over cast & it rained almost constantly until 5 oclk the hour appointed. Br A.F. & Maria came & were quite wet, with many others. It soon gave way & when night came the sky was clear & beautiful.
May 17th ‘40 Sabbath. This day hallowed by the God that rules the world — hallowed by the duty we owe to Him that gives us our life — hallowed by the duty we owe to ourselves & others — & to me hallowed as the first sabbath that Julia has spent in Heaven, if the thought that our earthly sabbaths are known beyond the tomb — be true & hallowed to me as the return of one of those thousand blessings still extended to one unworthy their enjoyment — the day that ever brings associations dear to every Christian heart — but especially dear to me when I think of my absent wife.
Another lesson too I learned — the uncertainty of life — this lesson we know so well & feel so little — In the church was a newly married couple whose days of matrimonial joys had been few — they looked happy & were so without doubt (Noel Kellogg & wife) — but Ah was not Albert & Julia too? The Sabbaths glided smoothly — usefully — pleasantly away — then sickness came & alone I wended my way to church — alone came home — then came Death — Alone I went to church Alone came I back but Ah where was Julia — yet all this was my lot — not the tale of years — only but months! & where may that fair couple be when eight short months will be gone. They may be happy — so let them be — & they may be separated — one in the dark future the other left to mourn the absent.
May 18th  Monday Yesterday & to-day thus far (10 oclk AM) have been two sultry days. (1/2 past 9 PM) The weather of to-day has been like that of July.
Every room of this house too, calls up something of the past & brings to mind happy days — gone for ever. Solemn yet interesting thought — In the room where I now write (Henry’s) once filled with happy faces around the table spread for the nuptial feast, reminds one of Sept 18th — directly the room (parlor) where love first grew apace & affections ripened & in the one directly back (sitting room) the place where the vow of plighted love first witnessed the exchange rings & the kiss that sealed the vow — where first I found the lovely bride — where last I saw the beloved wife — where death claimed her as his own & broken the golden bowl, & loosed the silver cord — where the wheel at the cistern was stopped & life resigned itself into the arms of the dark future. Where my dear Julia last bid us a farewell.
May 22d  Friday Elmira. Seated in the room full of the most interesting associations I now feel truly that I am alone. Oh the solemn & solitary feelings produced by every object & every thought. Words, language of mine can tell nothing of my sensations.
May 23d  Saturday. Elmira. Weather charming. Everything I see & hear reminds me of my loss — this morning began to regulate my room Mrs. Luce having moved & changed the place of nearly everything in the room from where they were when I left it, & in returning it again brought to my imagination the few short weeks that was spent here with Julia.
Saw an old friend this A.M. A O Hyde from the west & this PM wholly unexpected on going to the livery stable to have a ride we found a barouche ready as I supposed for some one else & getting in expected but a turn, then to take another carriage — we were carried to the Court House & Hyde asked me to go in which I did & found the Misses Tuthills in waiting. I was lost — bewildered — & before I could get an excuse to free me from going out we were ready.
I went & the ride was pleasant sociable & delightful — well enough in itself but I fear what others unacquainted with the circumstances may say. —— This evening I have been preparing Julia’s & my letters for copying & find I have in our correspondence sent Julia about 50 letters & rec’d about 35 or perhaps more, & tho’ fewer in number & with much less matter yet much more valuable. They bring back other days when love first grew in my heart, & brings the many scenes of our acquaintance court-ship & marriage before me.
Commenced business to-day in buying about 20 bunches shingles. May Heaven be propitious & may I be grateful.
May 24th 1840 Sabbath. In the dispensations of Providence another sabbath is nearly gone & to me it has been like a dream.
Every hour brings back to me a word of sorrow — a thought of Julia, a remembrance of happy days. Oh how gladly would I weep, a luxury would it be to pour out my aching heart in tears — I cannot weep — I may smile & talk & perhaps seem to others as if I had lost nothing, but ah there is a load upon my breast. Could I but melt it away in tears I should feel relief. Sometimes I lose myself & think not but I shall be with my dear wife after a few days & feel for the moment like myself — then comes the sick-bed — the bride’s-bed — wife’s-bed & the bed of death in quick succession & the dream gives place to the dreary scene of the present most dreadful reality.
Gone rings thro’ my soul & I start at the sound.
Mother Sage told me that I would feel her loss more after getting here than while at Ithaca — & she knew well my heart — these sisters — once sisters — spoke the words of comfort & made every effort to divert my mind — but how changed — Here all reminds me of her I loved — & scarcely do I meet a man but he says — Mr. Potter you have lost your wife — Yes sir & I may pass along without a word of that sympathy so dear to one in affliction. —— But perhaps I do wrong to mourn so much her departure as a loss to myself, yet how can I forget the thousand scenes & sunder the thousand cords that bind me to her as my soul is bound to itself.
This PM attended the funeral services of dearly loved wife (Mrs. Birdsall) who was called away in the prime of life & the passage just quoted was the text. How appropriate to myself.
I have just made an effort at writing to Mother S— but my mind will not allow me to say anything as I feel it, or anything I would be glad to say. I have succeeded in filling a sheet with disconnected & meaningless (when compared with my feelings) expressions. For the present I feel as if I could easily renounce all correspondence for it can bring no relief to my heart, yet I may derive comfort & will make an effort to sustain myself as a correspondent, thereby getting the correspondent’s reward.
May 25th  Monday. This has been a pleasant day. Business dull except plenty of duns from bills contracted last season. As a general thing however every one manifests a perfect willingness to wait as long as possible. — I had hoped to get a letter from Ithaca but none came & I shall of course wait till Wednesday. Feel very desirous of hearing from the family. Have written to Pa & Ma Br A.F.P. & H.W.S. to-day & this evening have been copying a letter of Julia’s. Was forcibly struck with the correctness & comprehensiveness of many of her expressions. In speaking of the rapid flight of Time she would almost seem to refer to herself as doing her work quickly, being admonished by the revolving sun & succession of the seasons, of the decay of the structure of man, carrying him soon to the silent grave. — Little did she think that the grave would so soon finish her labors here.
May 26th  Tuesday. This has been a charmingly pleasant day & spring has clothed the vegetable world in its loveliest garb.
Business quite dull. This PM I commenced a letter to W.S.F. & cannot but think it strange that I have not heard from him long before now.
Went out this PM with Mrs. Luce & Harriet to get flowers & returned laden with spoils.
May 27th  Wednesday. Spring under ordinary circumstances, would when like this, be the most enchanting & delightful season of one’s life — but this tho’ uncommonly pleasant has yet appeared gloomy & almost repulsive to my feelings. Autumn would be far more congenial.
This PM I had most confidently expected a letter from Ithaca but none came & I must wait yet two days & then perhaps be disappointed.
I have heard not a word from any quarter & almost feel disconsolate.
Have finished a letter began yesterday for W.S.F. & know not what to think of a silence from him at such an hour as this. This time of all others that I need his comfort I am obliged to buffet my way alone without a cheering word from any sympathising heart. In heaven I have a store & from thence I can draw comfort when other sources fail.
May 29th  Friday. No news yesterday from any quarter.
Last evening & this morning I have been copying the letter which contained my declaration of affection for Julia, & could but notice the deep solicitude felt, in hearing from her a favorable answer as if that was to seal my future happiness. This was well to a certain extent, but the thought that I might soon be called to part with her, even tho’ she became mine seems not to have had a place in my mind.
May 30th  Saturday AM. I was so fortunate as to get a letter from Mother Sage yesterday PM. In it was an expression (so far as she could give) of a mothers bereavement & her most tender sympathy for myself. Her anxiety too seems increased on account of my loss & I doubt not it is, for when Julia lived & I was alone she knew I had the satisfaction of thinking I should see her again & could tell her my feelings — now she knows full well that I am alone & that I feel myself bereft of my fondest hopes of happiness here & her heart is burdened for me. I wish it were not so, enough for her that she should think of a mother’s loss. God bless her.
I wrote in the PM to Elizabeth & filled a sheet & a half. I attempted a description of my feelings but I failed, & yet I could give an expression that would have some likeness to them. In the letter from Mother was also a few kind words from Elizabeth & Carry. They manifest the tenderness & love of a sister’s heart & if sympathy could make me whole they would let me feel no loss. This cannot be.
Last evening we had a most brilliant phenomenon belonging to the Aurora Borealis. A line thus extended from E.S.E. to W.N.W. reaching from hill to hill. Bright & plain as could be a thick & white cloud being quite narrow at first & gradually widening until it spread over the entire concave. In the north the Au Bor were quite splendid. An occasional meteor could be seen shooting from point to point making together a scene beautiful & splendid beyond comparison with any I ever saw before, of this character.
I should prophesy a long & dreary rain after a few days. — Had a letter from Pa this evening. He writes more favorably than I expected. May Heaven bless his labors & give him peace & comfort in the remainder of his life. He has done too much already.
May 31st 1840 Sabbath. Sage called on me to-day. I was heartily glad to see him & yet I was sorrowful at his appearance. Sabbath day for me I would in no case devote to mere purposes of visiting or business. ‘Tis wrong — sinful — wicked. His sight too bro’t others to mind & I thought of Julia. Oh Julia how often has thou prayed for that parent–like affectionate brother. May Heaven answer them & he yet become as active for Christ as now for acquiring wealth. — He spent only an hour or hour & a half & was gone. I felt sorry that he must go, but he thought it impracticable. I was glad to hear that the family were well. I feel great solicitude about Mother, & fear that her grief will yet be the means of sapping the last remains of her health.
Her grief is deep — heart-breaking — soul-absorbing — that grief that tells upon the health. — I should be most heartily glad could I but spend an evening in Ithaca occasionally. How gladly would I if possible be with them now in that room where every object brings to mind so many affecting associations. Where every face would be those of dear friends. Where Mother is, & where the sisters are. Where Julia was. Where Julia never again will be. Oh that room!
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