This letter was written by Emma Palmer (1798-1841) who wrote the letter to Thomas Robinson Wells (1784-1853) of South Kingstown, Washington County, Rhode Island. Though somewhat obtuse in its meaning, the letter equates to the acceptance of a proposal to become Thomas’ wife. Thomas’ first wife, Maria Potter (1790-1831), died in July 1831.
Emma was the daughter of Capt. Amos Palmer (1747-1816) and Sally Rhodes (1761-1832) of Stonington, New London, Connecticut.
Emma and Thomas were married in Stonington, Connecticut on 10 October 1833 — some six weeks following this letter. Emma and Thomas had one child, Amos Palmer Wells (1834-18xx). It appears that Amos lived in Rhode Island until he graduated from college. He received his grammar school education in East Greenwich, and attended Brown University from 1852 to 1854 without graduating. He then took a position as a cashier in the Landholder’s Bank (Kingston) for some time between 1853 and 1856, then he traveled throughout the country until at least 1865, during this time serving in the Union army as an officer with the 20th New York Regiment of Colored Infantry. He was mustered out at the end of the war, and then may have settled in New York. He died from disease contracted during the war, but his death date is unknown.
Addressed to Thomas R. Wells, Kingston, Rhode Island
August 21, 1833
I seize almost the first moment I could call my own to answer yours of the 8th — each word of which I have perused and reperused again and again. Perhaps it was peculiarly acceptable for being received amid confusion and bustle for were I asked, “What is gratitude?” I would answer, not to be alone for thus we may enjoy sometimes the most delightful communion, but to be alone, for thus we may enjoy sometimes the most delightful communion, but to be unavoidably in the midst of a crowd and feel that not one heart beats in unison; not one feeling responds to our own.
It was during the celebration of the 14th and under the influence of such feelings that your letter was handed me and I could not but think that friendship is the green and fertile spot amid this world’s waste on which the heart may recline. It is the real fruit found amid the husks of this world, pleasures on which if reasonably and rationally enjoyed the soul can feed and never satiate.
You have, I suppose, before this received the answer of my dear brother to your letter. Tho’ he was always kind, he was in this instance more manifestly so than ever. Did not raise an object. Merely observed I must recollect it was a subject involving much in which my happiness was concerned, and as that was what mainly in this interested him as well as my other brothers, he wished me first to consider the subject and then decide for myself. Thus casting — as I expected he would — the responsibility back on myself. And in view of it all, I feel disposed to cast the care of it all on him who so kindly permits and invites us to declaring he careth for us, praying him to direct in wisdom.
I believe it was commenced, has been continued, and I hope will be concluded by prayer. We are told thus to “commit our ways to the Lord” and are assured, “He will direct our paths.” I do feel disposed to take the lowest place before him realizing my incompetence, my insufficiency. The language of my heart is: “If thy blessing go not with me take me not up hence.” That delightful passage sometimes rests on my mind. “My presence shall go with thee, and that to bless thee.” Were I sure I could apply it to myself without presumption, I would not hesitate to say to you as did Ruth to Naomi; “Where thou dwellest, I will dwell; thy people shall be my people, &c.”
I am sitting where I can see the sun declining in the west and am by it reminded that the hour is approaching consecrated to Heaven, and May I not add, to each other, for I think after the agreement we have made of meeting each other at the throne of grace at that time, we could hardly refrain from thinking of and supplicating mutual blessings for each other. I have uniformly enjoyed the hour and when bowed before the throne of the Heavenly grace have felt that I had much to ask involving not only my own happiness, perhaps, but that of others. Requests to make, big with interest, not only for time perhaps, but eternity. And when we consider how inadequate we are owing to our ignorance of the future and other circumstances to the guidance of ourselves how inestimable the privilege that we may cast ourselves into the arms of infinite wisdom and love and repose there with perfect confidence; a privilege I would not exchange for all the world calls good and great.
It is said, “Prayer moves the hand that moves the universe” and tho’ Heaven is praise, I have sometimes thought prayer is Heaven. “A soul in commerce with her God is Heaven.” Producing the heavenly fruit of love and peace and joy. I have often thought of those delightful moments spent in supplicating, unitedly, the throne of grace. I felt that our motives, purposes, and desires were one. May they ever be according to the will of our Father in Heaven.
Please present my love to your family and believe me with much esteem your friend, — Emma Palmer
P. S. The doctor is absent at New London. i first thought I would direct this and put in the post office at Westerly but as it is uncertain when I would have an opportunity of taking it there, have concluded to put it into the office here. You can, of course, act your pleasure about directing to me. — E. P.