My dear Alex
July 29, 1863
I & my husband truly sympathize with you & dear Andrea in your sorrow in the loss of your first born; I know what it is for I lost mine when only a week old & it was certainly the first real sorrow I ever knew. All other troubles of the past life faded into nothing before that. Poor Andrea too! how much she must have suffered! None but a woman can guess. You men certainly have the best end of the staff & ought to be amazingly kind & patient with your wives for you little know how much they have to bear & I hope Andrea will get over her next affair sooner & easier & that you will not again be disappointed. The Lord knows what is best for you both & if disappointments lead you to think more & seek to know more of Him you will not regret the trial but only rejoice as David did of old & say "it was good for me to be afflicted". The discipline of life is good for us, depend upon it, tho' we often try to escape its trials. God sends us day by day many blessings but these good things do not often lead us to Him & then He sends trials & we know not where to go or what to do but we can look up where none ever looked in vain & so we learn Him who delights in mercy & is full of love for He is love. May all your troubles lead you to God & when you can see Him in Jesus forgiving your sins & enabling you to say "Abba Father" then you will have that blessing without which earth's fairest & richest possessions can profit you nothing, & in the possession of which you can tread the world beneath your feet & know that as a son of the King of kings you possess all things for you are Christ's & Christ is God's.
War - horrid, wicked war, still rages in your fair country. How much sorrow do the evil passions of men bring on them. North & South have sinned & both now suffer the consequences. They talk of the brave men who are fighting the battles of their country. How much braver would they have been if instead of giving way to their anger & flying to arms against their brethren they had tried to control the desire for war that spread so fast thro' their country & had let the "erring sisters go in peace". Lincoln would have been truly great & brave had he pursued such a course. Future ages would have blessed him & how brave he would have proved himself by doing right when all would have opposed. It is the truest courage, the very highest ordeal of courage to walk contrary to the multitude - to face the torrent - to bear the smears--the taunts - the reproaches of friends and foes. What a different position would your country have been in if this war had never been entered on. And now what have you got by it? Many have lost life - many more friends & relatives dear as life. You have a debt it will take long to pay. You have lost liberty & will I expect lose more before you have done.
I have read the paper you sent me detailing the cruelties practised on Federal prisoners. I have read of equal - worse if possible, on the part of the Federals. The Federals have certainly far exceeded the Confederates in the savage barbarity with which they have carried on the war. I read both sides and keep myself well posted up in all your proceedings & cannot form any other conclusion than this. It is also the opinion of all Europe. Isolated cases of savage brutality such as you have sent me doubtless occur - [Indivi]duals of the lowest standards of morals with their passions inflamed to the highest pitch are engaged in the struggle on both sides, therefore such things are quite possible & the neglect of the dead & wounded may be quite unavoidable under many circumstances. It must be an immense difficulty to provide accommodations & necessary attendance on the wounded & certainly they would care first for their own. Even when it is their own they are caring for, the scenes are dreadful. I have read how the Federals neglect and ill-treat their own sick & wounded. How hundreds die in the dens they call hospitals when they might have been saved by ordinary care, but "those that play bowls must take the bruises" says the old proverb & you are feeling the truth of it.
You talk in your letter to Papa of England being changed in opinion respecting the war. That is a mistake. There is no change here. We cannot approve a war for empire & we should not be English if we desired the re-establishment of the Union which would use its first efforts to drag us into war.
I noticed the mention of a meeting at Stroud in a paper you sent me, but it was far from being a truthful account. I was present, & if you had been you would not have had your northern pride much flattered. The North was hooted & hissed as only Englishmen can. Then a few months ago a Southerner, thinking, I suppose, that as we were against the North we must be for the South, ventured on a meeting but only about 30 attended & when he acknowledged himself as an advocate of slavery, he found the best thing he could do was to escape, which he did most ignominiously. So you see, we are on neither side - tho' there is much we admire in the South, we won't swallow slavery.
I hope in some way or other peace will be brought about, for I am sure there is much suffering on both sides & at present for no good end. Poor Poland too is suffering but for that the North has now no sympathy. Such is man! How good it is to be able to look to One who can make the "wrath of man to praise Him" & who will bye & bye appear & make all wars to cease. It is He who is now punishing the South for their slavery & the North for her guilty participation in it.
Well now, I am glad you are getting on so well in circumstances & hope to hear next letter that Andrea is well. She need not fear another confinement - tell her - a first is often very trying, but the second may be very different & it is very likely too Andrea will not be well till she has had a second. So you need not be uneasy should her health not be what it was before. It will all come right when she once suckles a baby. I think the driving back of the milk into the system has something to do with the ill health usual after losing an infant. I was ill from the time I lost my first till Elijah was born. I believe now I have done. Maggie is 3½ years old & is still baby. She is a great pet, a very sweet child. I wish you would [could?] see her. She is quite a Murray.
All the rest are well & send their love to their Uncles, Aunts & Cousins over the water. My dear husband has been long suffering from a bad leg but is now better. He unites with me in love to you both. Believe me ever,
I send you a photograph of myself & husband. It is not good. The artist perched up my head on a brass [brace?] he had for the purpose which makes me look very unnatural & my husband has stuck up his lame leg in a singular manner but he can't help that - it will never be like the other one. The brooch I have on was made of the gold Walter sent me. I am much obliged to you for your present to my dear boy.
Your affectionate sister