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In the latter part of February, in company with her friend Polly Fishbourne, who had been making her a visit in Gwynedd, Sally goes down to Whitemarsh to spend a week with Polly's married sister Sarah, wife of George Emlen, with whom General Washington had made his headquarters a few months previously. An incident of particular interest in connection with this visit is her ascent of the "barren hills of Whitemarsh" and her reference to the "ragged huts, imitations of chimneys, and many other ruinous objects," remains of the encampment of the Army that she found there.
The 1st of March finds her back "at my old habitation at the Mill," but paper being scarce "in this part of the country" and her life uneventful she makes no further entries for this month.
With the advance of spring "the scene begins to brighten," and, during the remainder of the Journal, to Sally's delight but not to that of the older members of the family, who were becoming impatient of so much "quartering," a number of officers of the Continental Army appear at the Foulke mansion. Of these later comers none is more interesting and attractive to Sally than the gallant and picturesque Captain Dandridge, "the handsomest man in existence." There is no more charming bit of writing in the Journal than the picture she gives of him, and their passes of wit and raillery. Indeed, we fear for a time that the Major has a rival, but Sally assures us she escapes heart free.
In one of Sally's encounters with Dandridge an interesting light is thrown upon the attitude of the Wisters in the struggle for independence. As members of the Society of Friends they professed to take a neutral position and stood firmly by their testimony against war. That they wished to avoid the discussion of political questions is shown by an entry of Sally's, made December 11th. She relates that one evening after the officers had taken tea in the Wister parlor, "the conversation turned on politicks, a subject I avoid. I gave Betsy a hint. I rose, she followed, and we went" out of the room.
But although opposed to war the Wisters, like fully ninety per cent. of the Quakers, were at heart friends of liberty and silent sympathizers with their country's cause. There is no doubt as to the side that Sally takes. All through the Journal she reveals her sympathy for the Americans, and she is quick to repudiate Dandridge's accusation that she is a Tory.
Finally, on the 19th of June comes the welcome news that the British have withdrawn from the city. Sally can scarcely contain herself. "This is charmante! . . . It is true. They have gone. Past a doubt . . . May they never, never return." "I now think of nothing but returning to Philadelphia." With this, on the 20th of June, 1778, she brings to a close her North Wales Journal.
From later entries made in the back part of the manuscript book containing her Journal we learn that the family did not return to the city until July. Sally then writes:
"Philadelphia, July, 1778. -- It has at length pleased the Almighty to restore us to our friends and native city. May I be grateful for this & every other blessing. I will just relate a few circumstances that occur'd. We intended removing immediately to town upon my father's return from Lancaster, which did happen the third day after the evacuation of Phila, but our intentions were frustrated by a severe fit of illness, which my sister Betsy had; it held her two weeks. Thro' the goodness of providence she was again restor'd to us. We then bid adieu to the peaceful tho' solitary Shades of N. Wales, which for the space of -- months afforded us as undisturb'd a retirement as the unhappy situation of affairs wou'd admit. Ardent as my desires were to return to this dear city, I did not leave our good and obliging relations and quiet retreat, without regret. I sigh'd, and the starting tear stood trembling in my eye. A tear was a poor tribute to the many happy scenes I have enjoy'd there; yet they shall ever live in my memory. I will fondly cherish the idea of past happiness and shall often give a tear and [a] sigh to the remembrance of joyful hours beyond recovery fled.
"I had the satisfaction of finding my frds in possession of health and tolerable spirits. My heart danc'd and eyes sparkled at the sight of the companions of my girlish days. Add to this the rattling of carriages over the streets -- harsh music, tho' preferable to croaking frogs and screeching owls.
"I don't expect anything uncommon will mark my future life, therefore shall not continue this relation journal-wise, tho' sometime hence I may add a line or two."
The later jottings, which were made at long intervals, are not of sufficient interest to print in full, but from them we find that for a number of years she was kept informed of the doings of some of her soldier friends.
January 4, 1780, she has heard that "Gen'l[s] Smallwood and Guest, [and] Col. Wood are still in the Army, Col. Line [is] in Virginia, Capt Furnival in Maryland. The worthy Stodard is much indispos'd at his home in the last mention'd state. The mild Capt Smallwood and amiable Lipscomb are no longer inhabitants of this terrestrial world, snatch'd in the bloom of youth by unrelenting death from all earthly connexions. I experienc'd a good deal of pleasure in the transient acquaintance I had with these young men; but they are no more. I felt sorry when I heard of their deaths."
In the same year she notes: "Dandridge, the gay, the gallant, roving Dandridge is at last bound or on the verge of being bound in hymen's fetters. I hope the lady may possess prudence and discretion. . . ."
A little later she hears a false report of General Smallwood's death. "I am extremely sorry to make an addition to my journal upon an occasion so affecting and melancoly as the present. The amiable, worthy General Smallwood in full possession of the goods of this world and in the vigour of life fell in the battle with Cornwallis, August 16th, 1780. The British soldiery, with savage cruelty not contented with robbing the agreeable man of life us'd his breathless corse in the most shocking manner, mangling it with their bayonets. What a disgrace to human nature was such a barbarous procedure. I ardently hope, and make no doubt, that the General, whose soul I am confident was a stranger to such vices, is enjoying happiness inexpressible in the mansions of eternal felicity. Esteem'd and belov'd by all that knew him whilst living, in his death regretted and lamented not only as a loss to his family and friends, but to the public. The remembrance of his virtues and the happy hours I have spent in his company shall always be present to my mind. The following lines extremely applicable:
Happy The brave who sink to rest By all their countrys wishes blest; When spring with dewy fingers cold, Returns to deck their hallow'd mold, She there shall dress a sweeter sod; Than FANCYS feet have ever trod, By fairys hands their knell is rung, By forms unseen their dirge is sung. There HONOR comes a PILGRIM grey, To bless the turf that wraps their clay, And FREEDOM shall awhile repair, To dwell a weeping HERMIT there.
"May all those brave men who were companions in war and in death with General Smallwood enjoy eternal happyness."
But General Smallwood was destined for a milder death. Sally writes :
"Sept. 12th, 1780. -- It is with heartfelt pleasure I have heard that the report of Genl Smallwood's death was premature. He was not only favour'd to survive the engagement, but by signal acts of bravery has gain'd great honor. I wish the laurels he has gather'd may flourish with unfading lustre."
In August, 1781, she makes a record of Dr. Gould's death, which will be found included in the footnote on page 77.Previous page | Next page
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