Irving, John to William Elphinstone Malcolm (1836/09/29)

H.M.S. “Edinburgh,”
Vourla Bay, Sept. 29, 1836.

I shall direct this to Toddenham, and trust, if you get it, you will be satisfied that I am just the same as you knew me in the “Belvidera,” and that my feelings towards you are by no means altered by three years’ absence; that I still consider you my greatest friend, and that one of my chief pleasures consists in recalling all that intercourse which was almost my sole occupation and my only pleasure while we were in the “Belvidera.” I look forward to seeing you again with much pleasure. I wrote to my father asking his opinion concerning my staying out on the station. He asked Sir George Clerk, and sent me his opinion. To my great joy it was that it was more advisable for me to come home; but if I particularly wished to stay out, I might use my own discretion. So of course I shall go home in the “ Edinburgh.” The Captain says he expects to be paid off in January at the latest, so I shall go on shore for a spell, having served as a mate for nearly three years. I hope to be able to meet you, as I shall have plenty of time, and can come to any part of the country you like for that purpose.

I have been very much distressed by the sad news of my brother, the minister, having lost his wife. She was safely delivered of a daughter, and my poor brother wrote me by the August packet that she was doing well, and how happy he was, and that he would call me Uncle John for the future. But by the September packet I got a letter from my father saying that ten days after the birth of the baby she suddenly turned very ill and died. Poor Lewie! He had been married only four years. She was only twenty-four years old, and he left a widower, with a little daughter, at the age of twenty-nine. They seemed made for each other. The manse of Abercorn will no longer be the cheerful and happy abode to which I always looked forward. However, I shall have great pleasure in comforting him and diverting his mind from his loss. The little girl too will take up his attention; but living in a manse for four years a life of happiness, as he did, he must feel the blow dreadfully: but he knows whence to derive strength and support to bear it. But I beg your pardon for taking up your time with what does not concern you.—Believe me, as much as ever, your affectionate friend,

John Irving.

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