Pity My Weakness, My Friend, but Do Not Expose My Folly

in about Warren

Author: Miss Mercy Scollay

Undated, probably late April 1776

“To Mrs. Dix.

Will my Dear Mrs. Dix forgive her friend for leaving this house and not again visit the Chamber that had so often witnessed the joys and sorrows of her checqerd state – but I feard to pain your gentle nature by taking a formal leave and tho’t it best to come off silently (tho’ it had the appearance of stealing) that I might not increase the uneasiness I had procured you —Methinks I hear you say I give you joy Miss Scollay that you are again in the habitation of your parents [in Boston]. – thank you my friend for your good wishes but Boston does not yet appear like my home – I go from place to place in the house as if I was searching for something with great eagerness, and the return with a dejected heart and disappointment seated on my brow – I look upon the wreck of my poor friends [Joseph Warren’s] furniture that papa [John Scollay] took into his care, with weeping eyes but check the hasty torrent, as quick as I can least I should be observed, and return to company with a smile on my face, but my heart bleeding – I see every moment faces that I know, but the one I would give the world to behold is not visible among the grope, and I turn from them disatisfyd – I have seen none that beheld the breathless clay [i.e. Joseph Warren’s corpse] and tho’ wondered at still doubt – Pity my weakness my Friend but don’t expose my folly none but you shall know my present thots and when I am confirmed in my hopes or fears you shall know —  I have purchased you some Ice-cap but am apprehensive it will not exactly sute, it is a little spotted but the woman where I bought it says they will wear out – it is very cheap considering the times – I cant get Cousin Greens jagging irons and Polly says they laugh at her when she asks for them, but I will not give over my pursuit for them, or handle and latch which I will procure for you if they are to be purchased – I have bought some black gause for you and Mrs Duncan but fear the aprons will not be long eno’ for you, without peiceing the slope on the hips – I cant get any bowls yet but will be on the look out for some – The gause was 40/ [shillings] a yd and I got a yd and half – The bonnet paper was 50/ which I paid for out of the money Mrs Duncan gave me – Mama [Mrs. Mercy Scollay] desires her kind love to you says she longs to see you and hopes you and yours will be blessed to the latest generation, Papa joins in that hope, and says you will be rewarded – I think Mama looks a great deal more broke[n] that I expected and I fear will not long enjoy the blessing she has This many month’s been praying for – but our loss will be her gain and I shall not dare to murmur if she is immediately summond [by God from this world to Heaven] – Mrs Mellvill[e] and all my connexions begs to be rememberd in the kindest manner to you Mrs Duncan etc etc – I will write you again soon and be more circumstantial, kiss your dear little ones for me and believe me ever my dearest Mrs Dix yours

Most affectionately

M Scollay

I have not room to be particular but give my love to everybody”

Source: Mercy Scollay Papers (1775-1824) Cambridge Historical Society, Cambridge, MA. In archives this is placed, erroneously I believe, in the same folder and dated as an August 17, 1775 letter by Mercy Scollay to the same recipient.

Commentary: Just returning to Boston and her parents’ house from her refugee abode in Worcester during the Siege, Miss Mercy Scollay writes to her Worcester friend and confidant Mrs. Dix.  Mercy’s letters to the Dixes are unusually candid and personal, as compared to the scanty surviving personal letters and diaries of contemporary New England women. Mercy’s epistolary intimacy and comfort with Dr. and Mrs. Dix extended for the rest of Mercy’s life and to some of the Dix’s offspring as they grew to adulthood. Though the physical distance between Worcester and Boston was not that far, it remains unclear how frequently she saw or visited her friends the Dixes in subsequent years.

A close reading of this letter reveals or suggests several things:

  • Mercy did not attend the early April state funeral of her fiancé Dr. Joseph Warren, nor did she hear Perez Morton’s eloquent and widely reprinted eulogy. Separately, we know that her father John Scollay, a chief selectman of Boston, had been one of the pall bearers at Warren’s funeral.
  • She continued to be heart broken by Joseph’s demise. Her mind played tricks on her. Sometimes she secretly hoped that somehow he was not dead and that everything was a dreadful mistake.
  • Mercy was involved with domestic commercial needlepoint, sewing and the tailoring of women’s clothing.
  • She was concerned about her mother’s ill health and readily assumed the role of caretaker.

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