The following lines were written by Mrs. Mattie J. Millee, of Beaumont, Texas, on perusing a package of old letters which she had carefully filed away as keepsakes. She is a sister of our esteemed fellow-citizen, S. H. Patillo, and is an invalid—not having been able to walk a step alone in years. [I believe Mattie’s last name may be misspelled in this article and is perhaps Miller. There is a Mattie Miller, aged 40 living in Beaumont TX in the 1870 census who was born in Georgia.]
For the Cartersville Express.
Here’s a package of old letters—come help me to unfold,
Tied together months ago, and prized as much as gold;
The first, ah! Let me read it: ‘Tis from the trembling hand
Of my dear sainted Brother, now in the better land;
Yes! ‘tis that precious letter, which he told me was “the last
That he would write again, his strength was failing fast.”
He said “his faith in God was strong, sufficient grace was given;”
And said “dear sister, do not fail to meet me up in Heaven.”
I’ve dried the tears by memory stirred, now let me read another:
This one, with scarce a dozen lines, is from my husband’s mother:
But if she’d written pages, as many as these lines,
They’d not produce more happy thoughts than those upon our minds;
For each one spoke the tenderness, of a fond mother’s heart,
And while I read them over, again the tear drops start,
Sweet memories of that mother, are mingled with a dread
That when we hear of her again, we’ll hear that “she is dead.”
Here are several from dear sisters, in the contents of some
Are many pleasing incidents, relating things “at home;”
These have called up recollections of those happy years
Spent at the dear old homestead, ere we wept the bitter tears,
Wept as we stood together ‘round a dying mother’s bed,
And felt our first great sorrow, when we knew that she was dead;
Ere time had soothed the sorrow, her loss to us had given,
Our Father left the homestead, to live with her in Heaven.
Here’s a letter that was written, over twenty years ago—
And that it has been often read, its worn-out folds will show.
But still I prize it highly, and again will read it over;
It brings to mind my boyhood days, and this devoted lover
Who wrote so much affection in this long cherished letter;
And though so many years since then, I love him now far better—
For with the various changes of my eventful life,
There’s been no change in his fond love, since I became his wife.
Here’s three dear precious letters, from the pen of Dr. Means,
That have brought back to my memory, the many happy scenes
Of years ago, even when so young I scarce could understand,
I loved to listen to his words of eloquence—so grand;
And years since then, his gentle voice has fallen on my ear
In tones of so much sweetness, that oft it would appear
Almost, as though an angel knelt beside my couch of pain,
To ask the Heavenly Father to restore my health again.
He was the best and dearest friend, my father had on earth,
And I prize his lasting friendship of inestimable worth;
Great, good, and honored is his name, a name that long will be
Remembered when his ransomed soul is in eternity;
Dear Dr. Means! How sad the thought that he is growing old,
His voice will soon be hushed in death, no more will we behold
His beaming face, lit up by joy, proclaiming Jesus’ love,
But, happy though, our loss will be his gain of heaven above.
This little childish letter, begging “mother please to come
And take her darling little girl, once more, to home –sweet home.”
She said “she loved her teacher, her books her school mates too,
But, Mother, I can never stay from dear papa and you;
I try to be good, Mother, and your commands obey,
But please, dear Mother, take me home and there do let me stay.”
That little girl’s a woman now, affectionate and mild,
And loves to stay with me at home, as well as when a child.
Let me see! Here are some letters all of more recent date
Than those just read, --and each and all some sad’ning news relate,
For they were written, ‘midst scenes of war and all its strife,
And tell of toils and sufferings, of the brave soldier’s life.
This one is from my Brother, I’ll read it o’er again;
He says “I am sick from long exposure, to cold and chilling rain,
Half-starved, and nearly bare of clothes, but I am willing still
To serve my country, trusting God, whatever be his will.
Here’s a letter from the Captain of this Brother—bearing date
One month later than his own—and telling me his fate;
It says “’Twas in a night attack, about two weeks ago,
My dear friend, your noble Brother was captured by the foe,
And he ought not, in his feeble health, been out at night at all,
But he is one who never shrinks from duty’s pressing call.
His brave and manly spirit, will sustain him anywhere;
Grieve not for him, altho’ it is a trial hard to bear.
Oh! I cannot check my tears of grief, and scarce can see to read
This letter from my darling boy, a true soldier, indeed
He says “The lines are forming now, for the expected fight,
But my trust is in the Lord of Hosts, who doeth all things right.
I have fought through many battles, but feel the time is near.
When I shall fall a victim—but do not shed a grievous tear,
Should you hear that in this battle, I am numbered with the dead.”
And he did fall, that awful day, pierced thro’ the head.
Four pages kindly written, to console my deep distress.
By one of Georgia’s noblest sons, the Hon. A. H. S.
His words of hope and sympathy, bright’ned the cloud of gloom,
That hung like a pall of mourning, around my dreary home;
And I cannot lay this letter by, without a grateful tear,
For this generous act of kindness, will be held in memory dear.
This man so great in goodness, with a heart so warm and kind,
Is Georgia’s “Little Aleck,” with his great gigantic mind.
Here are letters, quite a number, to tell what they all say,
Would not be interesting, and would tire me to-day;
For in looking these all over I find but two or three,
That contains sufficient merit, to transpose to poetry;
There are some from college misses, imploring me “to write
For them a composition, on a subject sweet and bright.”
Some from Editors and Doctors, and others by the score.
But now I am so weary, I will rest and write no more.
Beaumont, Texas, Aug. 15, 1868.