This letter was written by Hannah Treadwell (Sands) Robinson (1767-1848), the widow of Jesse Robinson (1766-1808). Hannah was the daughter of Edward Sands and Anna Niles of New Shoreham, Newport, Rhode Island. Jesse Robinson was the son of Christopher Robinson (1727-1807) and Ruhamah Champlin (1736-1783) of Charlestown, Washington, Rhode Island.
Hannah wrote the letter to her son, Capt. Edwin Robinson (1801-1843), who was married to Mary M. Corner in 1833. Hannah wrote the letter upon receiving news of the death of Edwin’s older brother, Capt. Matthew Robinson (1794-1833), who was married to Mary D. Shields in 1828. She asks Edwin to be a father to Matthews children as well as his own. Edwin was a shipping merchant whose business was on Commerce Street, south of Lombard in Baltimore. In 1839, he advertised the availability of 930 bags of coffee from Rio de Janeiro to the Baltimore market. He died on 19 August 1843 at the age of 42.
An obituary for Capt. Matthew Robinson appeared in the Baltimore Gazette and Daily Advertiser on 7 February 1833:
From the Kingston (Jamaica) Chronicle. Died in this city [on the 9th of January of yellow fever], Matthew Robinson, Esq. [age 39], Master of the American Brig, Mary, of Baltimore. The premature death of this gentleman is a melancholy occurrence which effects the circle of friends to which from his conciliating and gentlemanly deportment he had successfully endeared himself. A wife and two children are left to mourn his loss, and what is still more disconsolate id their being separated from him in his last dying moments. [Robinson was a native of South-Kingston, Rhode Island.]
Also mentioned in the letter are Hannah’s daughters, Mary Ann (Robinson) Johnson (1803-1875) and Sarah Ann (Robinson) Bailey (1807-1865).
Addressed to Capt. Edwin Robinson, Baltimore, Maryland
Pawtucket, Rhode Island
February 17th 1833
My Dear Edwin & Mary,
As I am called to address you on a subject so painful and agonizing to my heart, I hardly know what to say as comfort to you on this sorrowful dispensation. My better faculties has left left me. My mind is illy prepared for the task — but sincerely console you on the loss of our dearest Matthew. It is almost too much for me to su_____t — was it ____ I could not have borne it, but it one who responds to my sorrowful moan — be still and know that I am God. How I wish I could mingle my tears with you both, but a Providence has placed us so far from each other, we must endeavor to look above for consolation and resign our case and ourselves wholly to the will of God. He will not afflict us more than we are able to bear. He has promised to be a friend to the widow and a father to the fatherless, and I can only recommend you to Jehovah, for by experience in him there is strength. He has a balm to heal the wounded soul, and can bind up the aching heart if we will put our whole trust in God. Our minds will be more composed in the events of life. We plainly see this is not our abiding place. We live in a world of sorrow, changes and uncertainties. With regard to ourselves, our wisest schemes are frequently thwarted and our fairest hopes. Therefore, there is only one principle that can sustain and solace the mind — it is holy confidence in God. Nothing occurs perchance; God governs the world. His people are his care and nothing can essentially injure them as all things are working for the good of our souls.
Let us cast all our care upon the Lord and recline our heads and hearts on the soft bosom of Providence and say I know not whether I am going; I know not with whom. My God shall be my guide. He is infallible. I resign my child — the best of children’s children up to God. He was the choicest gift of heaven. This earth was no longer worthy of him. His resignation to the Lord’s will is a comfort and I trust he was wafted to heaven by holy angels singing holy to the Lamb of God and there admitted to a blissful seat in Heaven where all trouble ceaseth and sorrow is known no more. May we all be sanctified by this dispensation — we know not what we can bear till we are tried when time of need comes, then comes the grace to help. And it is always to be sufficient for them. Therefore, we must not despair of the Lord’s mercies. He can support in any situation however distressing.
I must close — the subject is too painful for me to dwell upon. Oh, my Edwin, had you not returned at this time, I could not have supported this catastrophe and I hope you and Mary will endeavor to comfort each other and them dear little children. I hope you will be a father to them as well as her and the Lord will be your reward. Your sisters and families are well. Sarah and her husband stay to go and see Mary Ann knowing her to be lonely but the riding was so bad obliged them to return. I shall not leave here until I get another letter from you. It seems if I ought to have a letter everyday. Sarah and William feel our loss and console you on the occasion. They unite with me in our kind love to you both. I shall write Mary as I can. Kiss the children for me. Adieu. May you ever be guided and guarded by the heavenly protector is your mother’s prayer. — H. T. Robinson
Excuse this unconnected as it is. Write me every particular. Send me ____ and paper if anything is said of him. When can you come. Write by return of mail as I hope to be able to go home.