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Knox, Henry (1750-1806) to John Hancock

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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC02437.03449 Author/Creator: Knox, Henry (1750-1806) Place Written: New York, New York Type: Autograph letter signed Date: 11 February 1787 Pagination: 6 p. : docket ; 32.5 x 20.2 cm.

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Summary of Content: Writes a lengthy letter of condolence on the death of Hancock's child. Explains that only those parents who have suffered that loss can understand how it feels. Expounds upon his understanding of God, death and the afterlife, the human role in the universe, and the nature of the soul. Assures him "of the sincere participation of myself and Mrs. Knox in your sorrow."

Full Transcript: [draft]
New York 11 February 1787

My dear sir
Were it possible for you and your amiable companion to derive consolation from the genuine sympathy of your numerous friends [struck: and real ...well wishers] the grief and affliction which [struck: fill] [inserted: agonize] your souls would [inserted: soon] dissipate [struck: and][inserted: or] become more tolerable. But no person can enter truly into your situation but those who have been similarly circumstanced in all respects - [struck: those] [inserted: they] are but few and therefore your case is the more singular.
The duration of the mortal pact of man is [struck: of] short [struck: duration] and quite a contemptible thing - His soul however is of a more sublime texture, and being [struck: of a nature] uncompounded & [indissoluble] nature is therefore immortal - of little import is it to us whether we exist in this stage or that of our journey through a successive series of time, or [inserted: strikeout] eternity, provided our changes be for the better - [struck: who] but then who is to be the judge of [2] Then who is to be the judge of the [inserted: proper] time [struck: when we shall] [inserted: of] removal from one stage to another - The human father, and mother, or the supreme director of the universe? Those who [inserted: are all darkness & who] cannot foretel the least circumstance that shall happen the next moment, [struck: and] [inserted: or] he who is [inserted: light itself and] omnipresent throughout all creation? surely surely there can be no hesitation - Impressed and acted upon as we are by [struck: a thousand] [inserted: myriads of] invisible causes, shall we have the presumption to prescribe conduct to the Sovereign God? An acquiescence to if not a chearful, an humble acquiescence is our true interest, - [struck: It is hard and unpleasant to] It may be [inserted: a] weakness perhaps inseparable from human nature, but it can not be true wisdom and [struck: grea] greatness of mind to be unlimitedly afflicted for events that we cannot controul - Nature has her Laws, the chain is perfect the links are all in gradual and proper precision and we know by invariable experience that [3] no age is exempt from the call to another form of existence When a person [struck: filled] [inserted: dies] [inserted and struck: stained] [inserted: polluted] with crimes, who has [inserted: illy] acted his [struck: part badly] on this theatre of action, [struck: is summoned away,] we may rationally conclude that his soul, is immersed in the misery consequent on bad [struck: conduct and] habits - But when an infant, a youth [struck: unpolluted] [inserted: unstained] [inserted: or an adult of benevolent habits & true virtue] by [struck: bad illegible] [inserted: these] changes its situation, the soul in the next state [struck: must desire feel, the greatest happiness when facilitated and accelerated in the paths of happiness] [inserted: will be undogged light and ready [struck: to be] [inserted: prepared] for in the pursuit of its new condition.] If this be your belief and that of your bosom friends, as it is my fair conviction, you may be persuaded that your [struck: late] affliction, may be [illegible], & that instead of grieving for the profound loss of yr son, to a [higer] grade in the scale of intelligent beings, [struck: that] you should [struck: rejoice deserve] [struck: substantial satisfaction that it has adore pleased] adore the great director of events so [struck: take your darling boy] that he has been pleasd so early to remove him from [4] this world, which the experience of the wisest have pronounced contemptibly defective as a [struck: final] place of final abode - [struck: Let every man have recourse to his own feelings under the influence of the passions, and let him examine the conduct of others, and he will find the result to be that he is very far inferior to beings of which his imagination can form, a consistent opinion]
[inserted and struck: I have been]
Immense prospects are before us - your lately invaluable [struck: child] [inserted: son] [struck: is] [strikeout] is, - he [struck: must] must be well, for whose protection is he under? The parent of the universe.
I sat down to write you a line of condolence, and to assure you of [struck: of my] the sincere participation [inserted: of myself and Mrs. Knox] in your sorrow - [struck: My mind strikeout] In contemplating the cause [struck: of your sorrow] [inserted and struck: unhappiness] [struck: I may have] [inserted: my mind has] gone rather out of the common course - but perhaps for we are in a [struck: wide] field wide enough [5] for abundant conjecture - it may be nearly right - If it should have the least effect in soothing [struck: your] the [inserted: illegible] of your grief it will afford real satisfaction to him who is my dear Sir with very particular respect & esteem your sincere friend and humble Servant

The honorable
[struck: His Excellency] John Hancock Esqr

Few doubt of the immortality of the soul - its future existence seems to be as well [struck: established grounded] [inserted: supported by] philosophie as [inserted: it is firmly established] religious principles - a scale of intelligent existence, is as rational philosophy, as the scale of magnitude from an atom, up to a world, a system, a [struck: collection] connection of systems, or [inserted: an] universe [struck: But of] But of little import is it -

To J Hancock Esqr
11 February 1787
on the loss of his
only son, and child -
See More

People: Knox, Henry, 1750-1806
Hancock, John, 1737-1793
Knox, Lucy Flucker, 1756-1824

Historical Era: The New Nation, 1783-1815

Subjects: ReligionRevolutionary War GeneralDeathChildren and FamilyPhilosophyWomen's History

Sub Era: Creating a New Government

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