“I have stood long in the vineyard”

One of the last letters Mercy Otis Warren wrote to Sarah Cary follows. (See previous post here.) In it she contemplates her death and counts her life’s blessings:

February 7th 1802 This day counts up to twelve months since I have been able to read a page or take up my pen. You who can contemplate the wisdom and goodness of divine dispensation, who have health and vigour both of body and mind, cannot be indisposed to write and haste to strengthen the mental views of a friend, whose outworks are weakened and corporeal sight darkened. But you have cares, lovely cares, a family who I hope promises to reward every attention that occupies the time of so good a mother. I, too, have had the important charge committed to me, of educating youth of the best disposition, and regret that it has not been executed in a more perfect manner, yet hope I have not lived in vain.

I have stood long in the vineyard and seen many, many indeed, drop around me younger than myself and perhaps better qualified for useful labour. You my dear, Mrs. Cary are almost the only female friend I have left, to whom I can without restraint pour out the flow of thoughts as they arrive, amidst the chequered hue of my span of life. But the first friend of my heart still lives, and enjoys as much health and happiness, as any one who has seen such a variety of change, who has consigned to the grave three dutiful and amiable sons, as accomplished friends in the zenith of usefulness & capacity that fed the fondest hopes of the parent. I will be silent on the theme,—and consider, the sovereign Lord of all who lent, “has took but what he gave.”

I have two sons yet left to smooth the pillow of age, who I hope will be spared to fill up a useful life, after they have closed the eyes of their affectionate parents.

Tell me in your next if there is not a probability, if we should both stand a year or two longer, that we may have another interview before we mix with our departed friends and innumerable rational existences, inhabitants of worlds unknown. I hope you do not think I write in a gloomy style. I do not feel as if I did. I tread down the remnant of life with a tolerable degree of chearfulness—my days are tranquil, my nights not wearisome: I wake in the morning with a mind [filled?] with gratitude that it is as well with me as it is.

Richards, Jeffrey H. and Sharon M. Harris, eds., Mercy Otis Warren Selected Letters (Athens, Georgia: University of Georgia Press, 2009), ONLINE, page 250.

posted June 23rd, 2014 by Janet, CATEGORIES: Children, Friendship, Warren, Mercy Otis


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