Intrepid Morse



Download Full Text (7.9 MB)


Intrepid Morse apologizes to Mary Stenhaurer for the ridiculousness of his last letter. He updates her on his journey in Steubenville.




Steubenville, Ohio


Steubenville, Mary Steinhaurer


Mrs. Mary Steinhauer

Chillicothe, Ohio

Steubenville April 14, 1821

Dear Mary,

And so my “pathetic complaints”- the very dolorous repinning of my best letter “afforded you not a little diversion”? Well, I had much rather you would laugh than weep, albeit the laugh were at my own expense; yet at the same time it must be confessed, I had much rather myself laugh with than be laughed at. However, as Dr. Johnson says- one step beyond the sublime becomes the ridiculous, I only take credit to myself for having been too sublime, and will take care hereafter to keep within due bounds provided you will forgive the past flights of oratory so expressive (as I thought) of all the eloquence of grief on my part and so productive it seems of mirth on yours. These puny whinings and sickly sensibilities are indeed contemptible, and I should despise myself were I obliged to descend to the stuff of novelists and romance for expression of my feelings. If on all mankind a common doom is pass’d if all are fools and lovers first or last- I at least will strive to mix some wisdom with my folly. If with me that time already have arrived, I will endeavor not wholly to surrender the reins of judgment and reason into the hands of passion. I will be the philosophic, or rather the Christian lover, whose affection is not bounded by time, but expands throughout eternity- whose esteem is not produced by the beauty of form, but by the graces of mind, and therefore shall exist undecayed and unimpaired when beauty is no more when mind alone survives.

Verily it is not good for man to be alone. I would have a friend in my solitude; and like Adam, I would have that friend an helpmate- yea, bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh.

Do you not remember an expression of mine in a sermon on the creation of man? It was to this effect. Beneath his arm, from near his heart was woman taken, and wherefore but to teach him he should be her Guardian and her friend. I trust you are convinced of my friendship: when shall follow the guardianship? When shall I be permitted to call you mine? O when will Providence remove the obstacles which now divide our paths and prevent their joining into one? Do not think me too impatient. No, I will be patient as the man of us for a better wife than he had. I will be the calm, the rational, the philosophic lover: whose passion, if it rise not into exstacies and transport, will be less liable to sink into despondency and declension and bid fairer for permanent durability. I remember Couper’s fable, ‘[?] thine anticipated,” and had a melancholy example of its fulfilment before my eyes during my late journey to this place. “Pour birds!” thought I, when the rain descended, and the snow fell, and the winds blew, “poor birds, how unwise and thoughtless have you been!” Thus are the blossoms of hope and expectation chilled by the cold maxims of prudence. And thus are we made wise at a less cost than our own experience. Which of these sentiments is most appropriate? To the subject, I leave you to judge. For myself, I think both proper.

Some time since I was sleeping in a cabin, where the portions were very slight, and awoke myself in the morning by saying “Dear Mary! My own Mary.” This trifling circumstance I should not mention to any but yourself; and to you only as it proves. What is the subject of my thoughts sometimes by night as well as by day. In visions of sleep, so in day dreams.

And do not you sometimes think of him who in journeyings often encounters perils by land and perils by water, for the sake of the Church of God and the perishing souls of his brethren? If the present is to be the last year of my missionary life, by God’s grace and blessing, it shall be an active one and diligently employed. Accordingly, since my arrival here, I have held service five times in the neighboring towns, Smithfield, Springfield, Wellsburg and Wheeling; and next week, expect to go out about twenty miles west on a similar occasion and duty. Rev’d Mr. Armstrong is very popular among all denominations at W. and the church is commenced on a large scale. His son is expected back from England in July, and we hope will settle somewhere in the west. I also look for two Clergymen from N.Y. in the course of the summer. They were formerly my fellow students and chums. If one of them would take charge of [?]. I then could confine myself entirely to this parish and St. James: All goes on well here.

If nothing prevent, I shall be in C. about the middle of June but my stay will, of necessity, be short- yet it shall be my endeavours that Mr. S and yourself have a long [?] than before. Do not neglect writing to me early next month at L. and let me know respecting the health of Mrs. S. I of all your joys and all your sorrows, if you have any: for I both rejoice and sympathise with you, and feel a deep solicitude to hear from you daily were it possible.

Tell your dear Mother that if I become her son-in-law, her daughter’s happiness shall be my constant and earnest care: and if we meet not in this world, yet it shall be our hope this Christ to meet, with joy, in the world to come,never more to be separated.

And now farewell. May the good God ever bless and keep you! May he cause the brightness of his face to shine upon you now and ever is the fervent prayer of your affectionate and sincere friend,

Intrepid Morse

Letter to Mary Steinhaurer



Rights Statement

No Copyright - United States