Monday, 27 March 2017

27th March 1817: Daniel Diggle writes to his family, from Nottingham Gaol

Nottingham County Gaol, March 27, 1817.


I take the opportunity of writing to you, hoping these few lines will find you in good health as they leave me better than ever I have been for many years, thanks be to God for it. I can die happy, for I put my trust in God—God is all my cry; night and day do I put my trust in him. I have now nearly finished another week, perhaps it may be my last week in this world, at least my last week will come. I shall not live another week on the earth; death is drawing nearer and nearer—it is sure to go, but how soon is uncertain. I might have been cut off in my mad career, then what would have become of me.


Think of my situation, and keep good company. Do not break the Sabbath-day, and go to some place of worship, that will be the best you can do; for if I had been ruled in time, I should not have been here—that you know too well. I was glad to hear of your getting your liberty once more; and now you have got it again, strive to keep it. If any one entice you to go to the ale-house, do not go with them, unless you know them to be good company, for good company is the best: take my advice, dear brother, that you may be a comfort to my dear father and mother as long as you live. If you take the advice, I am very sure you will take no harm. See what bad company has brought me to. I beg you will take my advice—let me beg and desire you will. If I been at a place of worship on the Sunday night, instead of going to do what I did, how much better a man should I have been. Give my advice to all my companions, that they may repent before it be too late, for there is no repentance in the grave. Lord, hear my prayer for them. There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked. An unpardoned sinner can have no peace with God. Dear brother, keep the Sabbath by all means, for that is the root of all.—But have I not sinned against God, and deserved this awful punishment? yes, my very heart is sinful, and the sins of my life are more than can be numbered. I have not indeed been what the world calls a great sinner; but oh! how often have I taken God's name in vain; how often have I broken the Sabbath by my sinful pleasure; how many times have I disobeyed my parents; how idle and legitimate have I been; how often have I coveted my neighbour’s goods; surely I must, in God’s sight, be a very great sinner; surely I have reason to fear, lest he should cast me into hell: now Christ is my only Saviour from this place of torment.


These letters were published in the Nottingham Review of 11th April 1817, having been "handed to us for publication".

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