W. Gaston.
Mrs. Mary Stanford

Mr. Graves will please bring this letter back when he comes


Washington April 10th 1816.

     I know not, my dear Madam, how to perform the melancholy duty which has devolved upon me.  I am unable to find expressions which are suited to a communication of the terrible calamity which has befallen you.  My hope- my trust is that the fortitude and resignation which are inspired by religion, will sustain you under this awful visitation of Providence.
     On the evening of Sunday, the 31st March, Mr. Stanford was attacked by a seemingly slight cold and fever.  The succeeding day he took a little medicine, kept his room and got better.  On Tuesday he imprudently went to the House, and on his return was seized with a violent chill and fever: on Wednesday the Erisyplas, or St. Anthony's Fire made its appearance on his face, and learning from him that he had been formerly plagued by the same disease, we had no fear as to the result.  It continued, however, to be very severe for several days, and on the day before yesterday (Monday) it became apparent that his brain was highly affected by it.  Apprehending then a disastrous termination, I wrote on the following morning to Mr. Peck entreating that he would appraise you of Mr. Stanford's alarming situation, by way of preparing you for the fatal event we dreaded.  Our worst fears, Madam, have been realized.   All efforts to remove the inflammation of his brain failed, and at half past three o'clock last evening, his soul forsook its mortal tenement.

     I neglected no attention which during his illness I could believe useful.  The last night of his existence, I watched with him and I witnessed his expiring groan.  After his illness became severe, he was entirely unconscious of his situation and insensible to pain. 


     No man esteemed Mr. Stanford more sincerely than myself-- none more cordially sympathizes in the distresses of his wife and beloved children.  I shall esteem it my bounden duty to take care of his effects here, and in all things coming under my view to manifest by my cares and exertions, the strength and fidelity of my friendship.

      With the highest respects and the most cordial sympathy in your calamity, I have the honor to be Madam,

                    Your most Obedient Servant,

                        Will Gaston.



Washington, April 10th, 1816.

Dear Sir:

      The fatal event, which in my letter of yesterday morning was anticipated as probable, has actually occurred.  Our friend Stanford breathed his last sigh at half past three o'clock in the afternoon of yesterday.  I take the liberty of sending under cover to you a letter to his bereaved widow communicating the heartrending intelligence.  I rely on your prudence to manage that she shall receive it so as to be as little shocked as possible.
       Mr. Stanford complained of indisposition on the evening of Sunday, the 31st of March.  He kept his room on Monday, took some medicine and got better.  On Tuesday he imprudently went to the House.  I saw him in the morning, and finding that he thought of leaving his chamber, entreated him not to do so.   But he, most conscientiously scrupulous in attending to his public duties, and highly interested in some of the provisions of the new Tariff then under consideration which he thought oppressive to the Agricultural Interest, he would not stay at home when he supposed himself able to take his seat.  The House adjourned rather earlier than was expected.  The carriage in which he was accustomed to ride to and from the Capital had not arrived, and he walked about a quarter of a mile to meet it.  The weather was cold and the wind keen.  He was seized with a severe chill which was that night followed by fever.  In the course of Wednesday the Erysipelas or St. Anthony's Fire broke out on his face, and as this was a complaint that he had before experienced, his physicians and himself thought there was no cause for alarm.
      The inflammation was severe, but for a day or two exhibited to unusual symptoms.  About Saturday he seemed to be a little delirious at times.   His alienation of mind increased on the following day.  On Monday it became evident that the inflammation had seized on his brain, and no effort was afterwards of any avail to remove it.  He died almost without a struggle, and I believe during all the violence of his disease had scarcely a consciousness of pain.  I sat up with him during his last night of existence, and was with him when his spirit fled.  Congress have taken order about his interment, and every mark of respect will be shown his memory.
      I offer to you and to his other friends around you, the poor consolation of sympathy.  There are few, very few, who entertained a more cordial esteem of the deceased, or loved him more affectionately than myself.
      Very respectfully Sir, Your Obedient Servant,
                    Will Gaston

I leave the direction of my letter to Mrs. Stanford blank, and request you to fill it.