“My chains clank loud...”
~ 1840 ~
Lincoln County Kentucky
© 2005, TNGenNet, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


Stampless folded letter sheet.
Manuscript postmark:
       Stanford Ky
       Augt 18th
Manuscript rate:
       10
Docket:
       Single } mail
Addressee:
       Mr. Wm G. Barnett
       Nicholasville
       Ky.

Letter:
Stanford July 31” 1840
Dear & tried friend,
  Your favor came to hand in time and was read with interest. I have delayed now a long time to give you an answer hoping to give a more acceptable one than I find it now in my power to do.
  I attended the C. Court of Pulaski Co last week and was in hopes fortune would crown with success my devotion to her and that I should find it in my power to send you some money. But no. I am yet longer to be her sport before she frees or crushes me. I got some business it is true for the next term there but it does not relieve my present needs. I have also about forty dollars due her for proffessional services of which I am unable now to raise a shilling.
  You know that it grieves and shames me as much to be so circumstanced towards a friend as I am with you. I am much abased and self degraded by the ...reflection. but it stirs up the fire of my ambition and I feel its flames spreading wider and burning hotter within me. I must. I will succeed cost what it may -- are the fixed resolves of my mind. I can sacrifice a right arm or a right eye -- anything that offends or hinders! It is an awful and a fearful thing ! Such resolves and feelings -- how eagerly they feed upon every new and growing fiber of my heart! Do I not suffer all the horrors that are embraced in that olden fable? Oh, my friend, it is indeed a fearful thing!!
  I rejoices me to hear that you are happy and that yours is a substantial joy not subject to the many bitter disappointments of earth. I feel no enmity to God or religion so far as I know myself and wish only to disobey when his claims or precepts interferes with ambition --his vicious rival in my soul. You surely must hate me for my candor or rather for the hateful truths my candor tells. I know I am a slave - a hated slave -- hated of God and of his people. My chains clank loud and as the sound of frozen clods falling on the coffin in which he buried all ones fondest hopes so does their hollow spectral clanking cause an awful sinking of the soul as it falls at times upon the ears of conscience.
  But they are of my own forging. In the hot furnace of unsanctified and unrestrained affections they were shaped and fashioned -- disappointment and find pride wounded but not subdued -- fastened them on their victims forever! Nay not forever -- If that wounded pride recovers ever from the wound it suffered -- if it mounts high enough to over=look its inferiors and all who have seen or known what it has suffered -- if the warm rays of national and fortunate attachments fall kindly upon my fathers they may yield & I may yet be free -- Never till then and if that time may never come then NEVER!!
  Most gladly my dear sir, I would continue our correspondence. I shall have to hear from you again soon. Let me know when you have or whether you leave this fall. I think perhaps Mr Anderson will not crowd at present if you stay at least not immediately.
  If you will find he will let me know as soon as you ascertain and I must make a very desperate to raise the money. Why does Mr. Herman not write me. I did not design my letter to anoi him off or as a ‘scolding’ letter either. If it was of that order ’twas because it came to hand when this fit was on me. And I fancied ’twas to cold increduls and unconfidily. Tell him to try me again and if I don't do better then to drop me forever. But I assure him I cannot play hypocrite to save a friend. My respect __[torn] him and my other friends if I have any there and to the ladies in particular Miss Susan Miss Martha &c &c. I cannot come to N.ville until after our Sept Court unless business takes me to Versailles again which it may do. If so I shall call.
This from your wayward and
Unhappy friend
Prentiss

Mr. Wm G Barnett.
  P.S. When I left there was a light colored vest, marselles* hanging in our room or about there somewhere. I wish you would find it if it has not absquatulated and send it to me by return of mail per Lancaster. It will save me buying one.
_ P.
Sidebar:
       Reopened for P.S.


Note:
*marselles = probably piqûre de Marseilles, a very fine French style of needlework (quilting) practiced in Marseilles.

Transcription: © Diane Kelly 2005


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