Letter from Asbury Coward to his future wife Elise, October 12, 1856


Letter from Asbury Coward to his future wife Elise, October 12, 1856


Letter from Asbury to his future wife Elise while he is at King's Mountain. He mainly discusses the weather, the lack of letters from Elise and a sermon given by the new minister.


A2009.6, Box 2 Folder 1


The Citadel Archives and Museum



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York (S. C.)


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Yorkville October 12th 1856

My darling Elise

This is the evening of one of the most serenely beautiful days I have enjoyed, since I quitted your delightful presence. The Katydids and tiny tree-frogs are chirping their peculiar notes, and the agile little flying-squirrels are gamboling in the moonlight, not more than fifteen feet from my window. I have drawn my table and desk up to the window, in order to compound the pleasure of conversing with you, with that I enjoy from the beauty of the scene without. The moon, now nearly in her mature loveliness, and accompanied by the Vesper Star, is shining on the scenery from the zenith point. Her light, and the influence of this Sabbath day, calms and illumine the soul of man. Though the air is pleasantly cool, not a breeze disturbs the repose of the leaves, or lifts in sport, the straggling and uneven locks of my hair. There is but one thing which forbids perfect tranquility of my mind; and that is, the fact that I have not received a letter from you since last Tuesday afternoon. The frequent disappointments occasioned by carelessness in the Post Office arrangements, have somewhat immuned me to postpone the alarm a non reception of your letter is calculated to produce; but they can never render me wholly indifferent. Besides,

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you were scarcely recovered from your recent illness when you penned your last communication. Your Mother having written for you, when you were taken ill, and believing that she would again do so under similar circumstances, tends in a great measure to alleviate my fears. But the mind when alarmed, is so futile in fancies, that I can readily imagine a thousand circumstances which might deter her from so doing. She may be sick herself and you may be busy nursing her, or vice-versa, I pray that nothing of the kind be the case. - I might continue writing on this point until I occupy this whole sheet, and work my-self into feverish alarm; but such a course would be very unedifying to you, and exceedingly unfortunate for me. Therefore, I will desist in time.

Since last Tuesday week, we have had a succession of mild, clear and lovely days. Nature seems both to yield to the severities of Winter, and makes a fitful effort to rejuvenate her appearance. But her course is fixed, - she must follow it. Although the rose-trees which greeted the warmth of Spring, with a lovely abundance of their offerings, have again budded and bloomed with unwanted beauty; yet the russet leaves of the forest trees, yield to the passing breeze, and fall with quivering sadness to the earth. I enclose a little bud; - one of several handed to me by a friend, who collected them from the fairy garden of Col. Wright. Cherish it as the last that will be borne to you in these love mis-

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sives, before the consummation of our engagement. The Summer roses will soon be gone, - winter will soon be here with its train of snow, and cold and biting winds. You will come to Yorkville, while it is in its gloomiest garb; but this will only to render the more beautifull [sic] the contrast of Spring and Summer.

 This being the day of Mr. Gibson’s appointment, for Chester, I attended the Methodist Church this morning. The young minister, Mr. Lester preached from the parable of the lord of the vineyard who engaged laborers in the Marketplace at a penny a piece; - text “Why stand ye here idle, all the day?” After a long and circuitous introduction he wandered to the conclusion of the parable, “the first shall be last, and the last first.” His diction was pleasant and generally correct; but I must think his interpretation incorrect. He mentioned and repudiated many interpretations which have been made of it; and stated dogmatically that the happiness of all men will not be equal in Heaven. The “last” and the “first”, he made applicable to man’s temporal condition upon earth, citing, as illustration, the poor disciples, - the despised fishermen of Galilee; and the rich, but pious young man who came to learn of Jesus, what he should do to be saved, and others who enjoy the more of this life’s conveniences; and again, those whose whole life is spent in traveling the “narrow way”, - and those who repent just before death, he says, or rather intimates, do not enjoy an equality of bliss. This seems to me wholly irreconcilable

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with the spirit of the Gospel. St. John the Baptist says “Repent ye, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand” i.e. as a reward; and many other promises throughout the Gospel show, together with many instances, such as the repenting thief, that repentance and faith, are the requisites for salvation. Now, to be saved, is to “enter into the joys of the Lord” - to be received into Heaven - to obtain everlasting happiness. But the happiness of Heaven is perfect; and as such, any happiness less than perfect, cannot be the happiness of Heaven. Therefore, as those who repent just before death, are not as happy in Heaven, as those who live after the manner of the disciples; and as these can enjoy no higher joy than that of Heaven, which is perfect, the others cannot get to Heaven at all. A plain contradiction of the scriptures! I believe that the passage means the last shall be as the first and the first as the last that is there will be equality. Nor can it be [illegible] that my interpretation is calculated to encourage postponement. We are bound to repent and seek early for grace. We are commanded so to do “Now is the accepted time.” And besides, amid the hourly instances of uncertain mortality, who knows at what time the awful words may come, “You fool this night thy soul shall be required of thee?”

But I am nearing the end of my last page. I hope sincerely that tomorrow’s mail will relieve my mind with the joyful news of your perfect health and that of your family. Give my love to all. May God give us his grace to seek him at all times, and to walk ever after the spirit. His blessing rest upon you.

Your own Asbury.


Coward, Asbury, 1835-1925, “Letter from Asbury Coward to his future wife Elise, October 12, 1856,” The Citadel Archives Digital Collections, accessed July 15, 2024, https://citadeldigitalarchives.omeka.net/items/show/1578.