Archive for the ‘Clarke, Charity’ Category

“where Virtue reigns”

Charity Clarke (1747-1838) was the daughter of Thomas Clarke and Mary Stillwell of New York City. See posts here and here. Her father was a retired major in the British army who had served in the French and Indian War. He had an estate in lower Manhattan named Chelsea, which Charity inherited. Despite her Loyalist roots, Charity was early disposed to the Patriot cause and carried on a lively exchange of letters with her cousin in England, Joseph Jekyll, on the events surrounding the American Revolution. In 1778, she married the Right Reverend Benjamin Moore who was the Episcopal Bishop of New York, the Rector of Trinity Church, and the President of Columbia College. They had one child, Clement Clarke Moore, who was a prominent biblical scholar and is thought to be the author of the poem A Visit from St. Nicholas.

You smile at our Routs & talk of Strange matamorpheses, but they are only supposed ones, yes the Rigid Beauties of N York frequent assemblies, where inocent amusement promotes good humour, where modesty may appear without a Blush, where Inocence has no foe, & where Virtue reigns; are the assemblies of Great Britain such? If they are, unjustly do we condemn them, as Fashion is an Usurper submitted to in most part of the Globe. America is not free from her Governmint, but then it is only the Habit she takes directions of; our manners are Governed by Reason, and Religion forms our principles—
That Spirit which led Americans to their distress, & made them clad themselves in Homespun, is not fled, & when cause is given will exert itself with double vigor, while we can with Honor wear the soft & ornamental Garbs which Britain furnishes us with, we will repay her for them,—But no sooner do they appear the Badges of disgrace & the marks of true submission to unjustifiable exertions of power than with disdain we will cast them from us, & shew you we can do without them.
[W]hen americans marry[,] affection founded on esteem unites them, Truth & Virtue their choice—Love & Constancy their reward; they marry not Gold nor form Alliances with Titles—so need not fear divorce. Coteries we know not the meaning of—affective patriotism & True Virtue will I trust distinguish America in every Age; and among every nation. —So my Dear Coz you see your fears are grownd[l]ess, America still practices the long (though unboasted) list of Virtues which the Generality of English men have scarce an Idea of. . . .
Many thanks for your care in having my orders (as you call them) so well executed, it will be the highest pleasure to me to have it in my power to execute any you may have in America—I wish you was near enough to mend my pen it has almost exhausted my patience, least it should have the same effect on you, I will hasten to conclude, with my best love to your Sister, Mr. & Mrs. Jekyll, & your uncle my best wishes always attend them & you, that you may long enjoy every blessing of Heaven, & obtain every wish of your [hear]t is the most earnest wish of your affectionate
your affectionat Cousin & friend
Cha Clarke
[New] York Octr 28 1771

The first part of the letter can be found on pages 9-10 of In the Words of Women, the latter part at the Columbia Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Columbiana Ms. 2, Moore Family Papers. The illustration of the mansion house of the Chelsea estate was made by Clement Clarke Moore’s daughter Mary C. Ogden for the first color edition of A Visit from St. Nicholas in 1855. It appears HERE.

posted May 21st, 2015 by Janet, comments (0), CATEGORIES: Clarke, Charity,New York,Patriots,Resistance to British

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