The Papers of Jefferson Davis
 
The Papers of Jefferson Davis

Watercolor on ivory by George L. Saunders 1840s National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

 

 

Jefferson Davis to Sarah Knox Taylor


Fort Gibson [Arkansas Territory] Dec 16th 1834

Tis strange how superstitious intense feeling renders us. but stranger still what aids chance sometimes brings to support our superstition, dreams my dear Sarah we will agree are our weakest thoughts, and yet by dreams have I been latly almost crazed, for they were of you and the sleeping immagination painted you not such as I left you, not such as I could like and see you, for you seemed a sacrifice to your parents desire the bride of a wretch that your pride and sense equally compelled you to despise, and a [illegible] creature here, telling the on dits of the day at St Louis said you were "about to be married to a Doctor Mc" a poor devil who served with the Battalion of Rangers possibly you may have seen him--but last night the vision was changed you were at the house of an Uncle in Kentucky, Capt [Samuel] Mcree was walking with you when I met you he left you and you told me of your Father [Zachary Taylor] and of yourself almost the same that I have read in your letter to night. Kind, dear letter, I have kissed it often and it has driven many mad notions from my brain. Sarah whatever I may be hereafter I will ascribe to you. Neglected by you I should be worse than nothing and if the few good qualities I possess shall under your smiles yield a fruit it will be your's as the grain is the husbandman's.

It has been a soure productive of regret with me that our union must seperate you from your earliest and best friends, a test to which the firmness of very few are equal, though giddy with passion or bouant by the hope of reconciliation there be many who brave it, from you I am prepared to expect all that intellect and dignified pride brings, the question as it has occured to you is truly startling Your own answer is the most grattifying to me, is that which I should expected from you, for as you are the first with whom I ever ought to have one fortune so you would be the last from whom I would expect desertion. When I wrote to you I supposed you did not intend soon to return to Kentucky. I approve entirely of your preference to a meeting elsewhere than at Prarie-du-Chien and your desire to avoid any embarrassment might widen the breach made already cannot be greater than my own, did I know when you would be at St Louis I could meet you there. At all events we meet in Kentucky. Shall we not soon meet Sarah to part no more? oh! how I long to lay my head upon that breat which beats in unison with my own, to turn from the sickening sights of worldly duplicity and look in those eyes so eloquent of purity and love. Do you remember the "hearts ease" you gave me, it is bright as ever--how very gravely you ask leave to ask me a question. My dear girl I have no secrets from you, have a right to ask me any question without an apology. Miss Bullitt did not give me a guard for a watch but if she had do you supose I would have given it to Capt Mccree. But Ill tell you what she did give me, [manuscript torn] most beautifell and lengthy lecture on my and your charms, the which combined, once upon an evening at a "fair" in Louisville, as she was one of the few subjects of conversation we had apart from ourselves on that evening you can & I have left you to guess what beside a sensibility to your charms constituted my offence. the reporters were absent and the speech I made is lost.

Pray what manner of messages could la belle Elvin have sent you concerning me? I supose no attempt to destroy harmony. I laughed at her demonstrations against the attachment existing between myself a subaltern of Dragoons but that between you and I is not fair, gains it is robbing to make another poor, but No! She is too discerning to attempt a thing so difficult and in which sucess would be valueless. "Miss Elizabelth one very handsome; lady" Ah; Knox what did you put that semicolon between handsome and lady for? I hope you find in the society of the Prarie enough to amuse if not to please The griefs over which we weep are not those to be dreaded. It is the little pains the constant falling of thy drops of care which wear away the heart, I join you in rejoicing that Mrs McCree is added to your society. I admire her more than any one else you could have had Since I wrote to you we have abandoned the position in the Creek Nation and are constructing quarters at Ft Gibson

My lines like the beggars days are dwindling to the shortest span. Write to me immediately My dear Sarah My betrohed No formality is proper between us. Adieu Ma chere tres chere amie adieu au Recrire

Jeffn. 



 

From The Papers of Jefferson Davis, Volume 1, pp. 345-47. Transcribed from a privately owned original. This is the only known surviving piece of correspondence between Davis and Taylor.

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