My dear Alexander:
[Date missing, probably August 1866]
We duly received your letter of the 18th of July and were extremely pleased with its contents, chiefly because it evinced unabated love for your parents, which neither time nor any other circumstance has caused to change. "Time but the impression stronger makes, as streams their channels deeper wear"; and truly this is a universal accompaniment of "true love" of any kind -- faithful to its first bent, so it remains forever. Try by this standard attachment to wife, to parents, to country, and you will find fidelity under any and all circumstances the best of the truth of the passion, and 'tis well it is so; as it is intended to last forever.
I am glad you can survive the misrepresentations arising from and out of contending parties -- falsehood is a light matter when a purpose is to be served, so they agree to construe the matter; for my part, I am so old-fashioned as to consider truth as an imperative obligation and frequently please neither friend nor foe by adhering to its dictates. I too have lost by misrepresentations and lost my election by combination of parties, but I gain as much by undivided attention to my own business -- and not having to attend to parochial matters, that it is probable that I shall "wipe my hands of parochial politics" and leave those who gain by them "in meal or in malt" to follow them.
I certainly did admire the style of "American Neutrality" -- very much -- and consider it about on a par with British Neutrality -- for we did what we professed, that is nothing. The Alabama to the contrary notwithstanding -- for her actions we were not responsible -- her escape being an accident, I cannot see the justice for the outcry.
The Prussians here are "lords of the ascendent". They have finished a war in six weeks, which in former times would have taken even years to settle. Their needle gun, in the hands of intelligent and educated men, has worked wonders.
[This is presumably the Austro-Prussian War, declared on 14 June 1866 and ended by the Treaty of Prague on 23 August. JCC]
The French have --- [torn] --
still he's done without the sacrifice of Sardinia for Mexico. I rejoice that Maximilian is to be ousted, and I think it wise in Napoleon not to interfere further; for as the Americans are situated, it is easy for them to eject the French and I think they would be cowards if they did not. He had no right there at first -- and his going thither was a manifest taking advantage of the American Civil War, and the American movement is simply a deserved moral retribution.
[Ferdinand Maximilian Joseph (1832-67), brother of Austro-Hungarian emperor Franz Josef, was established as emperor of Mexico under French auspices in 1864. In 1867, however, Napolen III was forced to withdraw his support as a result of US pressure and Maximilian was confronted by a popular uprising led by Benito Juarez. His forces proved unable to resist the rebels and he was captured and executed. JCC]
I am happy to see you so well situated in your new house, with "ample space and room enough", a good garden well stocked and withal a farm yard on a small scale - a "Rus in Urbe" - the advantages of the country blended with a residence in town - and the "mystery" of milking - mentioned with the next, why I early got over that and have many a time with a full tug [dug?] milked it into my neighbour's eye.
I am very pleased with the contemplation of your happiness with Andrea. Domestic felicity, or "connubial" rather, is the very highest of human enjoyments - at least it stands first with me. If, as I sincerely hope and trust I may, -- if I live to my 50th marriage year, and I have but two years on the 25th of October to attain this "golden" year - I will have a real Jubilee, - and treat myself to a day's enjoyment with the participation blessed with seeing either of my sons with their wives here my happiness will be complete. I should die in peace.
[The Thurtell-Murrays' 50th wedding anniversary would have been on 25 Oct 1868, so we are surely in 1866. The letter of 18 July would probably not have arrived in July, and if it had, the writer would probably have written "18th inst." If he had been writing in September, he would probably have said "next month" rather than "October". This suggests the letter may have been written in August 1866. James did not, in fact, make it to his 50th wedding anniversary, dying on 1 Dec 1867. JCC]
Give my love to Andrea, she deserves it for the love she bears my son - and tell her I hope kind fortune has yet in store for me the sight of my sons in England. Herbert Brown is here, having left in his 16th year, 25 years ago; the government at the Cape gave him a farm for his services in the Caffre war - which he has recently sold for 2500 pounds. Dreadful are the goings[-on] in Caffre land. I think an abstract thereof would amuse if they did not instruct you in the Rifle and the Bowie knife; and lately Colts Revolvers are their gentle instruments by which they rule.
Believe me to be, dear Alexander
Mr Alexander Murray
Your affectionate father