The George Beattie Project - A Poet Lost in Time


(Written by George Beattie in September, 1823)

   In the “Statement of Facts,” where my letter to Miss Gibson, of 8th May, 1823, is quoted: 
“I am sure you cannot forget what passed, upon that day I called at Stone of Morphie, on going to the Mills.”
   As the Statement was written out, and forwarded in the course of an afternoon;  it was impossible to notice all circumstances, and, as already mentioned, it refers only to what was in writing.  On this occasion, I found Miss Gibson by herself, and had been immediately left by Lieut. Wemyss.  She must recollect what passed betwixt us, and what was spoken about, while I remained.  She complained that I had been jaunting without her.  I mentioned, that it was not a pleasure, but business, and that the weather had been disagreeable.  On my rising to go away, after having remained past Mr. Jolly’s dinner hour, Miss Gibson went betwixt me and the door, and said that we must repeat our vows.
I mentioned that there could be no necessity for this, but that I could have no objection.
She said that this was needless, as to our marriage, but that something behoved to be understood as to the time, or near about it.  She then laid her hand in mine, and proposed repeating a solemn oath.  I said that I could have no objection, but that it bound us whether her parents might be agreeable or not.  She said, “they are quite agreeable;”  I told them of our former engagement, and it was just what they expected.
I then said “go on;” and she made me repeat these words:

“May I never know peace in this world, or see God in mercy, if I marry another than you; or, if I ever go south again without taking you along with me as my wife.”

She took a similar oath herself,  this, I am sure, Miss Gibson will not deny.  To recapitulate all the different communings and engagements, would be impossible.  From some empty envelopes, addressed to me, it will be seen that I had other letters, which were destroyed.  Others were destroyed, envelopes and all.  It was by mere chance any were preserved.
I shall proceed no further, but state that Mr. George Neill called on me, upon the 29th July, wishing up Miss Gibson’s letters, which I refused to give. 
I here refer to:
No. I.    Copy letter I wrote to him. 
I also refer to
No. II.   Copy letter sent to Miss Gibson, of the 11th August, evidently written in considerable mental distress,
No. III.  Letter from Mr. Gibson, of 13th August.  These are all tied together.  I sent no answer.


Montrose, 29th July, 1823.

   Dear Sir,  After your calling to-day, wishing up Miss Gibson’s letters, which I refused to give you, I became anxious, in case any misunderstanding might exist on the subject, although I expressed myself very plainly.  I beg leave to mention,  and if you think proper to communicate it to Miss Gibson, you may do so,  that I have never done,  nor intend to do any thing evasive of, or in violation of, the engagements betwixt her and me.  I shall be extremely sorry if she either has conducted, or shall conduct herself unbecoming one in her situation.  If she does so, I must state candidly and explicitly, that in justice to myself, and as due to my wounded feelings, I will, if I live, take steps for my own vindication;  nothing can possibly deter me from doing so.  This I have explicitly stated to herself, and to her father.  I can not say more,  the matter is known to her parents, and if she, with their consent, may be inclined to violate her engagements with me, it will be known who are to blame,  I am not.
No person can know the circumstances, nor the extent of the injury I have sustained but myself.  I hope nothing can diminish the friendship subsisting betwixt you and me. 
I am, Dear Sir, yours truly.

          (Signed)                                           Geo. Beattie.


Montrose, Monday, 11th August, 1823.

   Miss Gibson,  It is humiliating for me to be under the necessity of addressing you.  I beg you will hear me without reference to what is past;  no person knows the state I am in, nor do I wish it should be known.  On Friday last I executed a Settlement.
From the nature of the greater part of my small property, and from the state of my mind and health at present, the Settlement, I am afraid, would only be good, on my living 60 days after its date.  In the event of my dying before that time, David and my sister might be left unprovided for.  I am now satisfied it is your intention to break the engagements betwixt us.  
I can not prevail on myself to consent to this;  but as I can not prevent your doing so, it would be conferring a very great favour on me, if you would delay marrying another, till after the lapse of that period.  By the time it expires, I will be no more;  and I now look most anxiously forward to a termination of my woes,  may it be the commencement of your happiness.
In earnestly asking this favour, I do not mean to excite your pity, nor do I in consequence sanction any violation of these engagements;  on the contrary, should I be granted strength to support existence, which I have no reason to anticipate, I would, as I have already said, seek every redress within my reach, for these violations.  A single line, though unsigned, unaddressed, and without date, will be satisfactory, and if you wish it, I pledge myself to return it immediately.  This must appear strange, and it is so;  I can not help it.
If I could make myself otherwise than I am, I would do it.
I have struggled hard, but all is unavailing;  I see my fate very clearly, and it can not be avoided.
My whole endeavours shall be to reconcile myself to it.
O !  do not do anything to hasten it !   Not upon my own account, but on account of those who are dependent on me, and never have offended you;  I never intended to do so,  but I do not know myself.  Will you yet offer my best respects to your parents.
I will never see any of you again, nor the garden, &c.;  it is better I should not,  it would only make me worse.  These recollections are bitter.  Will you pray for me?


  Dear Sir,  May I trouble you, for this once, to deliver the enclosed to Miss Gibson.  To the best of my knowledge, there is nothing wrong in it:  and she, I have no doubt, will communicate the contents to you, if you wish it.


Kinnaber, 13th August, 1823.

    Dear Sir,  I have perused your letter to William.  Its contents surprise me very much indeed.  This world is made for disappointments and trials.  I thought you one of those men, that any thing of the kind would have cried buff on, and am sure you have more good sense than let any disappointment ever be known to the world, far less to interfere with your happiness or peace of mind.  There is as good fish in the sea as ever came out of it.
Do let us see you as before, and believe me yours truly,

(Signed)                                           Robert Gibson.


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