172 years ago this past Wednesday, Lucy Ann Kyle wrote an important letter to Robert Campbell. The wealthy Campbell had sent a letter to her asking to marry Lucy’s daughter, 16 year old Virginia Jane Kyle. Most widows faced with the possibility of marrying their daughter to a rich man that loved them in the 1830s would have jumped at the chance. Robert certainly thought she would. But Lucy was different from most. Read all about Lucy’s thoughts on her daughter’s marriage and her conditions in this fascinating and important family letter!
Mr. Robert Campbell
Care of Gill Campbell & Co
Raleigh Jan 13th 1838
The important subject of your communication of the 7th inst. which now lies before me certainly demands an immediate reply. My mind was not at all prepared to receive such intelligence, it came like an electric shock. Tis time I knew of your attachment for Virginia some eighteen months ago, but never until [sic] yesterday did I have the slightest intimation of her feelings towards you. I have frequently endeavored in different ways to find out, but she would never speak with me at all on the subject but turned it off in some light, frivolous way. I am at a loss to conjecture how it is such a great change has taken place, and that too without consulting her mother even on the most important event of her life. Mr. Campbell you have made a request, no less than the Gift of my darling Virginia, the granting of which is like tearing my heart strings asunder. I never before conceived I should have such feelings.
[Pg. Break] No I can not give away my child, by so doing my fond anticipations so long cherished would be forever blasted. Yes with what a devotion of heart have I looked forward to the time of the completion of my daughters education, when we can again be united around our own fireside and in our own house and at least for a few years to enjoy their undivided confidence, joys, and sorrows. Think me not hard in saying I can not give away my child, for I verily believe all the devotion of all the men in the world is not half equal to a mothers love. Was Virginia of an age which in my opinion would justify her marrying, my mind might change, but as it is I feel bound by the strongest ties of maternal affection to keep her with me.
As to your primary affairs I have no inquire’s to make, wealth over a compatency is productive of more evil than good, and I trust Virginia will never be influenced by such a motive, she has an independence of her with which prudence will support her through life.
You say “That you are ware that my only objective is to see my daughters happily situated in life,” if you mean married and settled I beg leave to differ
[Pg. Break] from you, this is the very point at present I most fear and least desire. Mr. Campbell, I know you admire candor, I will therefore impress one more sentiment. It will be useless for you to urge this matter as I can never consent for Virginia to marry under the age of eighteen.“This resolution has been long formed and for which I could assign many substantial reasons, should Virginia disregard this opinion, she will not have the promise of her Heavenly father to obedient children nor the blessing of her mother.
Lucy Ann Kyle