Saturday, June 17, 2017

Theodocia Gilbert to William Still, 1851


WILLIAM STILL — Dear Friend and Brother — A thousand thanks for your good, generous letter!

It was so kind of you to have in mind my intense interest and anxiety in the success and fate of poor Concklin! That he desired and intended to hazard an attempt of the kind, I well understood; but what particular one, or that he had actually embarked in the enterprise, I had not been able to learn.

His memory will ever be among the sacredly cherished with me. He certainly displayed more real disinterestedness, more earnest, unassuming devotedness, than those who claim to be the sincerest friends of the slave can often boast. What more Saviour-like than the willing sacrifice he has rendered!

Never shall I forget that night of our extremest peril (as we supposed), when he came and so heartily proffered his services at the hazard of his liberty, of life even, in behalf of William L. Chaplin.

Such generosity! at such a moment! The emotions it awakened no words can bespeak! They are to be sought but in the inner chambers of one's own soul! He as earnestly devised the means, as calmly counted the cost, and as unshrinkingly turned him to the task, as if it were his own freedom he would have won.

Through his homely features, and humble garb, the intrepidity of soul came out in all its lustre! Heroism, in its native majesty, commanded one’s admiration and love!

Most truly can I enter into your sorrows, and painfully appreciate the pang of disappointment which must have followed this sad intelligence. But so inadequate are words to the consoling of such griefs, it were almost cruel to attempt to syllable one’s sympathies.

I cannot bear to believe, that Concklin has been actually murdered, and yet I hardly dare hope it is otherwise.

And the poor slaves, for whom he periled so much, into what depths of hopelessness and woe are they again plunged! But the deeper and blacker for the loss of their dearly might and new-found freedom. How long must wrongs like these go unredressed? “How long, O God, how long?” . . . . . . .

Very truly yours,
Theodocia Gilbert

SOURCE: William Still, The Underground Railroad: A Record of Facts, Authentic Narratives, Letters &c., p. 45

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