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Letter from William Macewen to J.W.Allan


This letter describes the feelings of friends on Allan's departure for China.

"13 Bath Street, March 5 1872.

James W. Allan.

My dear Friend,
I have received with much pleasure the news, both of the telegram and the letter; each in this season; announcing your safe arrival at the proximal extremity of your China journey. And I will weary till I have a telegram from Liverpool intimating your safe return.
I cannot describe to you, the feeling of that walk home on Sunday night. There seemed to be a wonderful lack of words, and a silent confusion pervaded all of us, as we tottered slowly down the streets, until, last of all, the silence began to be quite unbearable, and each tried to speak: but, the broken, semi-spasmodic sentences, which were uttered, only showed, too plainly, that our minds were on a very different subject from our tongues. Sutherland, remained quietly on the sofa, for a long time, and at last gave vent to a queer expression, emanating from the depths of the trachea, then a faint smile, lit for a moment his swarthy face, but only to make the dull eyes, still more dull and dismal, as if the lower part of his face was masking the upper: and shifting himself uneasily on the sofa he said “Hell man! Jamie is really away to China.” “It’s queer isn’t it.” And after a short interval, all of us, by one desire, wanted to separate. We wanted to be alone. So Archie and I drawing closer to each other than usual & holding each others arms firmer than our want, passed slowly down to the bridge, and for a little time looked sadly into the dark flowing river, which reflected the flickering lights and with promises to meet soon, grasped hands and departed; and the sorrow in Archie’s eye I still see: calm and deep.
There is a sort of dread hanging over me, which I hope will soon vanish. We may never meet again, here. You or I may leave this earth ere from ____, one sent into the past: but if it should be, we will know: whoever goes, that it will only be to participate the sooner in the mysteries of the eternal. One thing will never be shaken [:] our love for each other.

May God be with us.

William Macewen."


William Macewen


c. 1872


RCPSG 10/1A/5/1

Letter from William Macewen to J.W.Allan


Letter from William Macewen to J.W.Allan
Letter from William Macewen to J.W.Allan



William Macewen, “Letter from William Macewen to J.W.Allan,” Heritage, accessed July 15, 2024,