This letter was written by Dr. Ralph Emms Elliott (1797-1853), the son of William Elliott (1761-1808) and Phoebe Waight (1771-1855) of Beaufort, South Carolina. Ralph sent this prayer and letter to his mother whom we learn was visiting in Charleston with Ralph’s sister, Phoebe Caroline (Elliott) Pinckney (1791-1864) — the wife of Charles Cotesworth Pinckney (son of Gov. Thomas Pinckney).
The Elliott’s and Pinckney’s had large cotton plantations near Beaufort, South Carolina. Ralph was married to Margaret Cowper Mackay (1807-1893) in June 1830. Though the letter is undated, I am going to conjecture that it was written in the late 1820s. [1827 was an epidemic year]
Addressed to Mrs. Phobe Elliott, Charleston, South Carolina
Beaufort, South Carolina
2 July [1820’s?]
Oh Lord, thou God of wisdom & of might, who has most graciously commanded us poor short-sighted creatures to commit our works unto thee and promised that our thoughts shall be established; to cast all our care upon thee, assuring us thou carest for us, mercifully receive our prayer which we now make unto thee. So perplexing are our affairs, so doubtful and wavering our minds what course to take, and by what method to extricate ourselves out of our difficulties, that our eyes are fixed upon thee as our only counselor. Teach us, we beseech thee, what we ought to do, and enable us to choose what, upon the whole, will most conduce to thy glory and our good. All things in heaven & earth we know are ordered and governed by thee, according to the council of thy own will and by a special providence thou makest all things work together for good to them that love thee. Imbue our souls with this grace of love to thee, through a knowledge of Jesus Christ that we may repose ourselves in thee and wait without anxiety of mind the event of the matter we have in hand. If the issue is prosperous to us with respect to this world, give us grace to ascribe our success wholly to thy undeserved mercy and to retain a grateful sense of it all the days of our life. But if it seemeth good to thee to turn our present suspense into certain adversity and bring upon us the thing we fear, grant us sufficient strength to behave aright under thy direction. In our affliction we may put our whole trust in thy mercy and so exercise ourselves in submission and humility, in faith and patience, that the propriety of our souls may be promoted by the continuance & weight of our troubles; and we may be finally able to say, Thou, Oh God of very faithfulness, hast caused us to be afflicted. Hear us, O thou God of peace, patience and consolation, whose kingdom ruleth over all, and whose dominion is from generation to generation, world without end. Amen.
We have just received the Pinckney’s letter & are happy to hear that the fever has left sister & that she has no other distressing symptoms than debility remaining. I hope that you will find her still better & that within a fortnight we may see you back again & in health. The family are quite well & send their love to sister & remain yours affectionately, — Ralph E. Elliott
N. B. If you determine to go to the North, I must accompany you because in the first place you must have a protector. In the second place, I leave it to yourself to determine how pleasant Beaufort will be to me if both Nancy & yourself leave it, & in the last place my character would suffer here as my declining to go would be attributed to the want of filial affection. You know my reluctance to go & I entreat you to consider well before you decide.