Derby Line [Vermont], May 1, 1843 [1844?]. Stampless cover, 2 pages on a single leaf, 11.88 x 8 inches, approx. 750 words. Docketed in ink, “Ruth May 1st, 1844 [sic?],” with the additional later ink inscription, “Uncle Albert gave me this letter of my Mother’s Mary 1st 1879.”. Small tear from original wax seal, affecting a few letters (but no loss of sense); a couple of small holes at the original folds; some light foxing and soiling; in very good condition, easily legible. Item #19280
“I think you would not be surprised that I have been somewhat interested in Mr Miller’s theory if you could understand all the influences which have been exerted upon my mind since coming here. They argue & with some appearance of rationality that every Christian will understand & believe his doctrine & that it is duty to do so. If it is duty I wanted to believe it. But now I am fully settled that I must devote all my powers to the service of Chr[ist] & living by faith in this way. . . . Be assured my brother that a belief in this doctrine is by no means the road to popularity.” A detailed and evocative letter from the Vermont village bordering on Canada East, giving news among other family business (she writes for updates of their mother’s health) of the 22-year-old Mason’s adherence to the Adventist doctrines of William Miller and recent excitement among fellow Adventists: “ You asked for information relative to the manner in which the Advent believers spent the nights of the 13th & 14th. I must here say that I gave you wrong information though it was such as I received. The most of them here looked for it on the night of the 13th They had watch meetings in different places & some families watched that night & the following one till after 1 o’clock. Some were very much disappointed but I do not learn as any of them give up their religion. They have gone about their business through they do no abandon the Advent theory. Their meetings were stopped for some days but they hold them now. Do not credit every thing you hear for though there is some very strange conduct there are many falsehoods circulated respecting them.” The allusion here to Advent believers spending the night awaiting the coming of Christ suggests acquaintance with Millerite adherents in Vermont—though the chronology here seems a little muddied, given that the best-known gathering of watch meetings occurred in late 1844. Miller had opened the window for Christ’s return on March 21, 1843 and suggested the supposed the Advent would occur within a year of that date—though at least one revision in the wake of the March, 1844 disappointment had moved the date to April 18, 1844, which brings us closer to the possible date Mason discusses here. In any case, Mason’s account is suggestive of the diversity of opinion around Christ’s return during the ferment of the 1843-1844 season and the curiosity that attended the news of any Adventist disappointments, which seemed to pop up with the frequency of dandelions across the broad lawn of 1843-1844. With a preliminary typescript.