William Erskine to Alex. Shields, Glover, % Capn James Trumbel, Craftsbury March 20. P.M. New York May 18. Dated Galston Feb.28th 1844
We received your letter of the 18th October. We feel for your son’s (Wm’s) loss but as we must all sooner or later pay the Debt of nature and as our time here is but short and uncertain may we be enabled through the Grace of God assisting us to improve it. We were glad to hear of the rest of you being in good health. Your Brother Robert is still getting sillier and his sight worse. He is very ill at standing the cold although he is still walking about and fishing when the weather will allow. Betty is not very strong; she had a son on the 17th of Dec.r last. He took the influenza on the 24th and Dyed on the 27th of the same month. She never recovered compleatly although she is mostly going about. The rest of our friends so far as I know are all well with the exception of Francis Young who I am sorry to state has for some weeks past been deprived of the use of his reason. He was a little in arrears with his Laird and some other people and took much thought about lossing his farm. That is thought to be the reason; however, Alex.r Young of Meadowfoot and James Woodburn got a settlement with the creditors and paid the compound and is going to keep them in the farm for some time and the last account I got he is more composed.
Before I forget, I will give you Andrew Young‘s adress, I thought I had sent it long ago. It is Townshipe of Binbrook Gore, District Hamilton, Lake Ontario, Upper Cannada. You may likewise state in your next if you know any thing of Nelson as his Brother in Kilmarnock is anxious to get some information about him.
You wish me to state what your Brother Hugh‘s Board was by the week: that, I believe to be difficult, as none of us paid any atentien nor ever anticapated anything like half remuneration for what we were doing for him. However, I shewed your lettir to your Brother John and some of our other friends, and the agreed with me in thinking that 3/ per week was far below value for meat washing and mending his Cloths, etc. but even at that for between 8 & 9 years amounts to between 60 and 70 Pounds besides house rent. But I do not wish to be misunderstood; we never meant to ask any thing from our friends, neither do I demand– I mean to say I make no demand of– you to pay the fifth of that or any stated sume, only you are more able and as near related as any of us and I only make an Apeal to your own consideration (and I think with reference to your former lettir that I can do it with honour) To send a few pounds and if you think you are not able or not entitled to give as well as take I do not want it. You like wise state what you thought was the value of his Books 25 years ago which for any thing I know may be correct as it is not above the half of that since I saw them. He had indeed upwards of 300 vols. but there was above 100 of them that was either tracts bound together, odd vols. and magazines.
Now you are aware these brings very little when offered for sale and a number of the rare ones is republished since the church question was so much agitated; for instance Rutherford’s Lex Rex about 2 years ago sold at 1 guinea, its now selling new at 6/. Browns Apologetical relation 18/ is now at 5/6 and a number similar; besides, you know there is a difference between buying and selling books, and he had not a single large folio and only one large quarto: it was Durham on the Revelation, which can be got in the regular trade 5/ now. Your Brother says he once had a number of them, and with regard to his ading yearly to them, I need only state to you as you are as well aquainted with what his nature was as well as me; if he had been enabled to do that he would not been owing Mrs. Young 1 Pound 5 shillings for nearly 12 years that he borrowed from her, besides other small debts. However, be that as it may, I am satisfied that I sold them all to the best advantage if I had got the price of them, but I was simple enough to entrust near to £10 worth to James Dow, as he was again living with his wife Helen Youngin Glasgow, and making great proffessions of repentance. He however about the time I wrote you last comenced drinking and keeping bad company and the wife was obliged to leave him and come to Meadowfoot and the last time I was in Glasgow he was in the Police Office. John is through all his mony and is so much adicted to drink that he can not keep a situation when he has it. He is living with his mother in a small apartment in Glasgow; she is in a very wretched condition. The money I lost with James was included in my last letter. Now I leave of this subject and I never mean to resume it, leaving you to think for yourself.
I must try for some news now that will be more amusing to you. In the first place, we have got a neat little Gas work in Galston. We have got the Gas into our house and likes the light well, and we are cheaper than with oil or candle. We have likewise got a Free Kirk built here, and minister Placed this day, but with regard to their progress in Reformation Principles I am at a loss to say much. Every party of discenters is for claiming kindred with them and thinking the should join with them and likewise part of our church is of the same mind. But for my part I think it is premature as the have published no manifesto to the world what the opinions the hold are, neither in civil or religious matters. My opinion is the will come to a division among themselves as there was some of them went so far as to state at the last assembly when the were discussing the right of females voting for their minister, if that females got that privelege it would be a matter of consideration whether they would abide by it or not. The likewise still continue Praying for the prosperity of the present government and the are silent on the binding obligations of the covenants, and a number of other things, so that I think before them and us can join we must either go back or the must advance considerably. The is, however, a few but I fear it is only a few that are willing to go to the full length of 1638 & 49, but I may be enabled to give you a more full account of them by the next time I write. There is also a sect and I believe a dangerous sect making very rapid progress here: we stile them Morrisonians. The call themselves Believers or Evangelical Society men, but in reality the hold the same doctrines as James Arminius taught. The maintain that Christ died for all mankind alike, that man has a free will to save himself if he pleases, and that faith is just a simple assent of the mind, and if you just think Christ died for you it is enough to save you and all that is required. The likewise boast much of their peace of mind and their readiness to meet death without fear and many such like high pretensions, but I fear if the be not hypocrites, they are the delusions of the Devel. I likewise fear their last end will be worse than their begining: the have also a meeting house and a stated minister in this village.
Trade in this Place is much plentier than for some time past, and provisions moderate: oat meal in particular is cheap. The last we got was £1-4 Per bol, cheese and beef from 7/6 to 9/- per stone and other things in proportion. But I must shortly conclude with regard to my coming to America, in present circumstances I cannot say a word. I once had a strong desire to come, when we were all younger and more able, but under present circumstances I think it would be unatural and ungratful to leave grandfather here alone or to insist on him to undertake a voyage that would probably stand hard with him, but should we never meet on this earth may we meet in that haven of rest where all sorrow and sighing shall flee away, is the desire of your friend and servant,