The author of this letter signed his name “Thomas” which makes it difficult to nail down his identity with certainly. I think it likely he was a brother-in-law of Jane’s.
Thomas wrote the letter to Jane Barsheba Sherley (1809-1882), the daughter of Lewis Sherley (1793-1867) and Elizabeth Harris Broaddus (1791-1828). Jane married John Shirley (1800-1831) in 1825. John was the son of William Shirley (1772-1854) and Betsey Clore (1779-1875).
Addressed to Mrs. Jane B. Sherley, Clay Village, [Shelby County] Kentucky
Thursday, January 11th 1849
My dear Sister,
There was a certain man and his name as Hobson, and in the course of human events, it so happened that he had but one article out of which to choose, and therefore it was that; or nothing, and “Hobson’s Choice” became a proverb. Fortunate Mr. Hobson, upon what a small pivot is celebrity predicated. Men labor at the foundation of society, while the lowly lark, unseen and little prized sits hard by, in his nest on the earth, feathering straight to bear his song up to the sun. Slowly rise basement and monumental isle, column and as ch____, dome and lofty tower, and when the cloud piercing spire is burnished with gold, and the fabric stands perfect and wondrous, up springs the forgotten lark, with airey wheel to the pinnacle, and standing poised and wending on his giddy perch, pours out his sweet music till his bright footing trembles with harmony. And when the song is done, mounting upwards, he soars away to fill his exhausted heart at the fountain at the sun. The dwellers in the towers below look up to the gilded spire and shout — not to the burnished shaft, but to the lark lost from it in the sky. I have taken in my wild imaginings such a lofty, such an aerial flight, that like the stork in the fable, I am afraid that in my descent, I am afraid I will fracture those two uprights, vulgarly known as legs.
Well to be serious, you and I have often spoken of and wondered how we could so arrange it that Hiram would “set to,” and court Emily. Well by a word now and then, in general, and “masterly inactivity” as they say, in the war department in particular, he has at length done so, and she very sensibly accepted him, and they are to be married and wait only for you to come down and assist her in the arrangement, as she says she would not consider herself married unless you were here to counsel and assist her. So you will see the necessity of coming soon, as Hiram is already growing impatient, and you know how disagreeable one can make themselves under such circumstances, and they might be split asunder and event to be deplored.
Your Father was in yesterday, all well. Mr. & Mrs. Jeffries are in the country. Harriet has no servant yet. No news to give you. Write immediately and as I am very busy, Good bye. Remember me to all and my love to yourself, while I remain ever,
Your ____ friend, — Thomas