The Papers of Jefferson Davis
The Papers of Jefferson Davis

Davis relaxing in Scotland, 1869 Mississippi Department of Archives and History


Jefferson Davis to Varina Howell Davis


Missi. City, Harrison Co. Missi.
 26th Feb. 1877

My dear, Dearest, Wife, Winnie,

On this day long ago, we exchanged vows and became one in the eye of the world and the law; as we had been in our hearts and hopes, our joys and sorrows.  Of the last we have drained the goblet to it’s dregs, but the first has been my solace, and remains my comfort.

Parted though we be, and I earnestly trust for your physical good; separated, in whatever belongs to our higher or tenderer nature we can never be.  The world goes wrong to me, men prove false, business affairs tend in other courses than would subserve my interest, the South my loved country is misrepresented, cheated & the fetters of oppression riveted upon her.  Yet from all these clouds the shadows of which are worse than the falling dews from the Upas, I turn, and am cheered by the memory of the day when a beautiful, gifted, accomplished girl, gave me her soft hand, and virgin heart, taking me for better or worse; and continues yet to say she has not regretted the compact then made. house for one on the coast are still pending.  Joe. Davis got quite well on a milk diet, but when he last came to see me he looked redder and winked more than I liked to see.  Jeff. handed to me your last letter to him, when I returned it to him, he asked if it was not a "fine letter", my answer was a "very sad one".  In pain which you can understand but which he could not I went to my room in order to be alone, with my sympathy in your wounded love and mortified pride.  My dear, we do not understand the boy, and I fear I never shall.  Let us however hold fast to all which is good in him, and there is much, hoping that experience may make him more like what we would have our Son to be.  He stays here, seems contented and has quit chewing tobacco.  Miss Mary Ellis a very bright and well educated girl occupies much of his time and does not appear to get tired of him.  Her cultivation and habit of reading may be good for him, it is at least a better association than the slangy girls of Memphis, and not so apt to be embarassing, in possible sequences.

AL (AU, Davis Coll.).  The manuscript is incomplete and has errant markings, including underlined text and the word “Important” (not in Davis’ hand) written in the left margin opposite the place and date line.  The marks may indicate text published in Davis, Private Letters, 450.

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