John Newton to Elizabeth Cuningham

[in Newtons’ hand:]
Mrs Cunningham
for your much obliged J Newton [i.e. message to Henry Thornton]
[in another hand:]
Mrs Cunningham
H free Thornton [i.e. a free fank]
15 April 1783

My dear Sister

We return Miss Chalmers many thanks for her information by last night’s post. She is very kind in writing, and we earnestly request the continuance of her favours. Do not think my dear Sister that I greatly grieve about you, though I greatly love you. I cannot mourn over you, I rather rejoice. I should have been pleased to see you in London, but it will be better to meet in Heaven. You are going thither and we I hope shall follow in due time. If your release comes first, why should I envy you? Go, when the Lord calls, and see him face to face, whom having not yet seen you love. [1] Go, and drink of the rivers of pleasure which are at his right hand for evermore. You have been often a weeper, but he calls you to wipe away the tears from your eyes. Therefore when you are gone (if I survive you) though I shall feel the loss of a friend whom I dearly love, I shall consider that our loss is your gain, and I hope to acquiesce. I look to the Lord likewise to support your sister and I remember how gracious he has been to her under former trials, and trust he will be with her in the time of need, and in every time of need.

Your sweet Eliza [torn page – grows?] upon our affections daily. She is certainly better than she was. Her pulse is not [torn page] – her cough but little. She eats and sleeps well. And now the weather is moderate, she [?goes abroad – torn], sometimes walks, sometimes in a coach. She loves us, and we do and shall do everything in our power to make her happy. Betsy will come home to her on Thursday, for the Easter Holiday. I hope and believe they will love each other like sisters. Mr Smith is very frequent and kind in his attendance. [2]

I pray the Lord to keep and bless you, and to alleviate all your pains with the consolations of his love. Accept our joint best love, with Eliza’s duty. We present our respects to Miss Chalmers, and all the kind friends that are about you.

I remain your very affectionate brother

John Newton
15 April 1783
[in Mary Newton’s hand:]

I take notice what my dear says about dear Eliza’s music. We expect Captain [Alexander] Cuningham every day – the ship the trunk and parcel is on board is expected every tide. Mr Smith has the receipt and has undertaken to get them when the ship arrives. May the good Lord be ever with my dearest sister. Indeed I do rejoice in having such a sister. May I be a follower of her as she is of Jesus. The thought of parting is very painful. The Lord can support me. I hope he will. Our dear Eliza is very cheerful but she feels much at the thoughts of her dear Mama’s illness.

[1] 1 Peter 1:8 Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:
[2] For lack of any other references, one possibility could have been Hugh Smith (d 1790), who qualified in Edinburgh in 1755, and practised in London. 'He was accustomed to give two days of the week to the poor, from whom he would take no fee.' (DNB). Hugh Smith (1736?–1789), possibly son of the former, may be another option.

Lambeth Palace Library, MS 3096, f 84

Marylynn Rouse, 20/08/2019