This letter was written by George Moore Payne (1811-18xx), the son of Capt. Samuel Payne and his wife Nancy (d. 1860). George was married to Olive Maxwell (1814-1901).
Payne wrote the letter to Hiram Hayes Hobbs (1802-1884), a prominent judge, school committee member, and Berwick Academy trustee. He served as defense attorney in South Berwick’s 1854 murder case against William B. Smith.
The content of this letter suggests that Payne has received a letter from Hobbs, probably as an attorney for Jellison, claiming that Payne has libeled or slandered Jacob Thompson, the deceased South Berwick resident who froze to death on 12 February 1847 while in a drunken stupor. See Thompson’s death certificate in the footnotes.
Addressed to H. H. Hobbs, Esq., South Berwick, Maine
March 27, 1847
I have this day received a notice from you relating to Mr. Josephus Jellison. “To err is human, to rectify errors is always glorious.” The article alluded to in the Christian Herald, was published by request of a gentleman in York — a man in whom I rely the most implicit confidence for truth and veracity. If the statement was incorrect, there was nothing “malicious.” If correct, then nothing “malicious” as neither the gentleman alluded to nor myself entertain ought of malice against Mr. Jellison.
My only object was to subserve the cause of temperance — truth — and shew the depth of degradation to which men plunge themselves by drunkenness. If the statement was false I shall take much more pleasure in publishing that, than in the first.
(By the way, I was on the ground and saw the dead body of Jacob Thompson myself.)
I presume you will write me again after consulting with Mr. Jellison, as a friend, and if need be the gentleman above-named will attend to this. I shall send you communication to him by next mail. You may account for the delay in answering yours by the unfrequency of the mails here. We only get them three times a week.
Yours &c., — George Moore Payne