“I still feel a partiality for my native country”

In 1774, Peggy Hutchinson (see post here) had accompanied her father, Thomas Hutchinson former governor of Massachusetts, to London where, in exile, he tried to effect a reconciliation with the rebellious colony. She wrote the following letter to her sister-in-law Polly in America on October 29 describing a dispute after a dinner as to “which was the best country—New England, or Old?”

Papa, your husband [Peggy’s brother Elisha], and myself, were for the former : Mr. C[larke], and Billy [Peggy’s brother William] for the latter. I own I still feel a partiality for my native country. Papa could not help expressing his in very strong terms. Mr. C. said he never should lose the idea of the last winter : that the injuries he then received were too strongly impressed upon his mind ever to be erased. I told him I was surprised to find his affections so alienated from his country : that I thought the friends he had there, if nothing else, must make the place dear to him : and, as to climate, surely, said I, we have the advantage. They would neither of them allow it, but said the extremes of cold and heat were enough to ruin people’s constitutions. I, in return, had no mercy upon this, but exclaimed against it as cold, damp, dirty, and altogether disagreeable, and declared that I could not take a breath of air, but it gave me a cold and cough, which immediately fixed upon my lungs : and that if I lived here fifty years, I never should be reconciled to the climate, or to living in London; but could not but allow that the country was exceedingly beautiful, and struck me beyond anything I could imagine : but that only served to tantalize, as the ground was always so wet, (even in the middle of summer) that it was impossible to enjoy it by walking. We carried it on till it was time for them to go to the Play : and I believe Mr. C. was glad to get off with a whole skin. How happy should I be to see that country restored to a state of peace and quiet! not so much for my own sake as papa’s, who I think will be happier there. . . .

In a later letter Peggy writes “What joy would it give me if [Papa] could be the means of restoring peace to his native country, but I see no prospect of it : you are bent upon destruction.” Thomas Hutchinson’s attempts proved futile.

The letter can be found in The Diary and Letters of Thomas Hutchinson, Vol. 1, HERE, pages 276-77, 278.

posted March 10th, 2014 by Janet, CATEGORIES: Americans Abroad, Britain, Loyalists, New England, Weather

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