Stephen F. Austin to Mrs. Joseph H. Hawkins, 04-20-1824

Summary: Condolence on death of her husband. Austin's philosophy. Condition of the colony.

Brazos River Province of Texas April 20. 1824

Dr. Madam,

I scarcely know in what language to express how much I sympathise with you for the great loss you have sustained in the death of your kind and affectionate husband—I have so long esteemed Mr Hawkins as a brother, as a bosom friend that indeed I feel too much in need of consolation myself for his loss to be able to offer it to others. I had anticipated many years of tranquil happiness in his and your Society and that of my family in this Country, the past fatigues and exposures I have endured would then have been forgotten or only afforded subject for amusement, but fleeting and illusory are all human calculations—he is gone, and we must console ourselves with the hope that he has passed from a world of trouble and care to one of peace and happiness— The friendship I had for Mr Hawkins was of a nature that cannot be easily or soon forgotten, while living I viewed him as a brother, and as such lament him

I have written to Mr Nathaniel Cox relative to Mr. H. affairs in this country presuming from the known intimacy and friendship between them that he would probably have the settlement of the Estate, but have never recd any answer—I believe it was Mr. H's intention to move to this country, but presume that at this time you will not think of such a thing—indeed I could not advise it; the country is yet new and wild, we have no luxuries, few comforts, tho abundance of the common necessaries of life— I have however dispatched my brother to Missouri to move on my mother and Sister and Aunt, (the sister of my mother) all widows; and should your situation not be agreeable and [should you] think that a removal here would better it, the same accomodations shall be made for your family that are for mine.

If Mr H. did not dispose of the interest he held with me here I think it will be a handsome fortune for his family at no very distant period and I assure you that my desire is that they and they alone should reap the benefit of it. I shall not willingly consent to see any advantages resulting from my labors appropriated to the discharge of his old debts when it could be much better applied in supporting his widow and children-—I therefore request that you would write to me with frankness as to a sincere friend and inform me of your situation and future wishes, and how I can serve you.

I expect that my mother and sister and several other families will leave Herculanium in Missouri for this Country some time in October next—might we not form a little circle a kind of isolated world of our own amidst these wilds and hope that happiness would become our presiding goddess? I have thought it practicable— perhaps it was a romantic dream—perhaps the symplicity of a rural life would be dull monotony, its peaceful quiet scenes be lost in vain regrets for past enjoyments in the gay and bustling world, and the proud independence of a farmer be viewed as degrading servitude. The mind of man is of too unstable a texture to found even a theory of happiness upon. When oppressed with cares, harrassed by unfeeling creditors, agonized by the ingratitude of friends and driven to madness by the prospect of a starving family, a desert would be a paradise to him if it only afforded sustenance; but when the effervescence of the mind had subsided this desert would be as loathsome as a dungeon—perhaps however if he found a small circle of honorable minded men who had like himself passed through the school of adversity and learned fortitude to meet the privations of their situation, philosophy to find contentment in a plain and comfortable competancy without the glitter of wealth, and charity to do unto their neighbors as they would be done by—and if female society like a celestial halo could also shed its mild effulgence around them— perhaps, in such an event he might find happiness—and perhaps the evil passions of the human heart would soon prove the fallacy of all such dreams—For my own part I feel disposed to try the experiment and shall endeavor to collect my scattered family to one point—The Earth from which we sprung will yield us food and raiment, and the privations of our situation I think can be better borne than the unfeeling indifference and contemptuous mockery which the unfortunate generally receive from the fashionable world and which (for fashions sake) is called friendship—

The affairs of this colony are prosperous and highly flattering— last year we were threatened with starvation, this year we have a superabundance of corn, so much so that it can be purchased for 37 1/2 cents pr bushel—All goes on well—The Government of the Mexican nation has settled down on the Federal Republican System and our prospects are bright from every quarter—I think that my labors in these wild deserts will result advantageously to many of my fellow beings and that you and family will in the end be greatly benefited by them—at least such is the earnest wish of your sincere friend

Stephen F. Austin.