Hillary H. Land’s letter to his mother (1838)

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Hillary H. Land’s letter to his mother (1838)


Hillary H. Land’s (HSC Class of 1841) letter to his mother, Mrs. Ann Burrughs in Norfolk, Virginia.


Hampden-Sydney Archives & Special Collections




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Original Format



Norfolk December 7th 1838.

Dear Mother,

The promise to write a letter when I should have more leisure time, may have led you to expect the fulfillment of that promise long since. I make no apology for the nonperformance of that obligation heretofore; but proceed to discharge it is a becoming manner, and to gratify your expectations arising from that circumstance. Perhaps I ought to say, if I am able to gratify that expectation; for I must confess my imbecility and incapacity to afford you such a letter as you may reasonably expect. I know that I am bound by the greatest obligations of gratitude for the privileges of education which I possess. And I sincerely desire to bring forth words indicative of that gratitude, and to exhibit proofs of those inestimable privileges. Though I am a weak and sorry creature in many respects, yet I wish to become worthy of my race. As the year is drawing to a close, we may perhaps look back into the region of the past to review the works of our hand, or we, who profess to make advancement in the literary world, of our minds: And I think upon such a review with all things shining in their proper light, some of us would shrink back, and hide from our sight the frightful scenery. When I make this remark I do not mean to exclude myself from the force of it altogether, as I know that I am not so diligent and studious as to make every moment tell its value. Christmas is hastening on, when all schoolboys like myself will have holyday. They look forward to this period, and think it is a long and tedious time before they shall indulge in their merry-making and Christmast (sic) festival. It is true that I anticipate the hope of mingling in the social circle, and participating with you in rural pleasures; but the time seems to me to approach with inconceivable rapidity, and is now at the very door. Our school will close on the Friday before Christmast (sic). I went over to Portsmouth on Monday last, and had the pleasure of seeing Cousin John in good health. He says he does not like to come out in the country now, because things are so much changed, and people have moved away. I also went to Mr Simmon’s, who appears to be snugly situated in his neat little house which is not quite finished. William is in town tonight, from whom I was pleased to hear respectting your good health. I was very glad to hear that Laura is __________, and recovering her vigour and sprightliness. I would like very much to see little Laura in her cheerful and lively mood. James has gone to William’s, as he met him and Henry will on his way to town. I heard concerning Virginia and the girls not long since. Edgar was well when I last saw him. We are also well. I will send the coat out tomorrow, and would have done so last Saturday if it had been finished in time. Good will and respects to all. May happiness and good feeling pervade your dwelling, and blessings rest upon your heads, is the desire of your humble and unworthy son,

Hillary H Land





“Hillary H. Land’s letter to his mother (1838),” Hampden-Sydney College Digital Repository, accessed June 23, 2024, https://dams.hsc.edu/items/show/403.