Sep 16, 2010

Family History Discovered - A love letter from Gawter to Sìleas

In houses as old as mine, one often discovers hidden treasures (along with what may possibly be considered junk) when going through ages old trunks or pieces of furniture.  I had decided that I would go through a very old desk down in my cask room last night and in doing so I found a small stack of nearly crumbling pages.  I carefully untied the small green ribbon holding them together and immediately found that they were letters from my many-times great grandfather, Gawter, to the love of his life, Sìleas.   
I have described the two of them to you before by sharing a dream I once had - so real.   The letter on the top of the stack was quite faded and worn, obviously read many times over.  

 My very dear Sìleas~

The indications are very strong that we shall move in a few days—perhaps tomorrow. Lest I should not be able to write again, I feel impelled to write a few lines that may fall under your eye when I shall be no more . . .

I have no misgivings about, or lack of confidence in the cause in which I am engaged, and my courage does not halt or falter. I know how strongly our Civilization now leans on the triumph of the our cause and how great a debt we owe to those who went before us through the blood and sufferings of many battles. And I am willing—perfectly willing—to lay down all my joys in this life, to help maintain this way of life, and to pay that debt . . .

Sìleas my love for you is deathless, it seems to bind me with mighty cables that nothing but Omnipotence could break; and yet my love of Clan and Country comes over me like a strong wind and bears me unresistibly on with all these chains to the battle field.

The memories of the blissful moments I have spent with you come creeping over me, and I feel most gratified to God and to you that I have enjoyed them for so long. And hard it is for me to give them up and burn to ashes the hopes of future years, when, God willing, we might still have lived and loved together, and seen our children grown up to honorable life, around us. I have, I know, but few and small claims upon Divine Providence, but something whispers to me—perhaps it is the wafted prayer of my little ones, that I shall return to my loved ones unharmed. If I do not my dear Sìleas, never forget how much I love you, and when my last breath escapes me on the battle field, it will whisper your name. Forgive my many faults and the many pains I have caused you. How thoughtless and foolish I have often times been! How gladly would I wash out with my tears every little spot upon your happiness . . .

But, O Sìleas! If the dead can come back to this earth and flit unseen around those they loved, I shall always be near you; in the gladdest days and in the darkest nights . . . always, always, and if there be a soft breeze upon your cheek, it shall be my breath, as the cool air fans your throbbing temple, it shall be my spirit passing by. Sìleas do not mourn me dead; think I am gone and wait for thee, for we shall meet again . . .

Yours forever~
 Sìleas - after she has read the letter from Gawter

I immediately scanned the rest of the letters in the stack and found that there were many dated after this one, so Gawter did not die on that battlefield that day, but once again came home to his beloved Sìleas.  How fortunate they were to be able to share this love with one another for many, many years.
Waiting.....praying for his safe return


OOC - I recently was made aware of this poignant letter from Sullivan Ballou to his wife, Sarah, just before the Battle of Bull Run (American Civil War) and found it to be so moving.  I wanted to bring it into the romantic history of Eva's family.  It has been changed VERY little in the above passage for it stands alone as a testament of this great love.   For original wording please go to this Civil War site.

I further encourage you to listen to the reading from Ken Burns' Civil War series posted here: