August 28, 1716
Dear Father,

Susan, Patrick and I miss you very dearly already. Each night before bed we recollect fond memories from the country side, and it makes me home sick. I often find myself wishing I was back in the kitchen with mother helping her prepare shepherd's pie, or with you tending to the chickens in the coup. Sometimes I think I made a mistake by coming here to London and leaving you and Mother behind, but I try to remember that you and Mother need money and this is the best way to make enough to keep food on the table for you.


Here in London we do not get to enjoy the subtleties of rural life, such as the open air and lush hills of Wales. Aunt Margaret's cooking is decent, but she does not have her own garden like mother, so all of the produce comes from the local market, which does not always have the freshest selection. Uncle Thomas has employed the three of us at his general store. We work long hours, but the work is not necessarily difficult. In fact, on numerous occasions I have had a chance to relax and do some reading. I have taken a particular interest in a newspaper titled The Original Weekly Journal. With Fresh Advices, Foreign and Domestick. It is one of the newspapers that Uncle Thomas carries in the store that comes in weekly. It inventories events from all over Europe! I know you do not have access to such newspapers, so I will try to keep you updated on major events from around the world.

The issue I read today addressed some problems between King Charles XII of Sweden and a coalition of anti-Swedish activists led by a man that people have started calling "Peter the Great". Apparently there has been conflict going on in the Baltic region for some time now between the lands surrounding the Baltic Sea. I have even heard people call it "The Northern War." One man named Johann Matthais von der Schulenburg was mentioned in the newspaper for his success in leading a Venetian defense against invading Ottoman Turks with far less men, calling him "a brave, a vigilant, and an enterprising commander." Uncle Thomas said I need not bother myself with petty wars fought in far away places, but the world around us is becoming more interdependent, and I fear that this conflict will have repercussions extending to Great Britain. I would think he would be more worried as well, considering much of his inventory is imported from all around Europe, but I suppose he is from a different time.

Moving to the city has shown me just how much Great Britain is advancing, and it is an exciting sight to behold. All around the city, there are singers, dancers, and performers around every corner and in every coffee house. I've never seen so much entertainment taking place on one street! Uncle Thomas told me he would take all of us to see a play at Drury Lane soon. I cannot wait to see a play performed by real actors in a real theatre! I will write to you again soon, hopefully with more extensive knowledge about theatre here in London!

With warm regards,
Your son Robert

October 5, 1716

Dear Father,

Thank you for writing me back! I am glad to hear that you are well, but I am deeply sad and concerned to hear that Mother is ill. It is these types of problems that makes me wish I could be back home helping around the house and tending to the land. I feel such guilt for leaving you alone with a sick wife, but I must admit I am enjoying my time in London greatly. I am getting more accustomed to urban life, and I continue to be amazed by the arts in the city. Uncle Thomas took us to the theatre at Drury Lane just like he said he would! We did not know what play was going to be performed, but I was extremely excited when I found out. Remember how I told you about Johann Matthais von der Schulenburg? How he defended the Venetians against Ottoman Turks? Well the play we saw was about him! Actually, it wasn't about him personally, but it was a story inspired by him set within the setting of the Old Testament.

The creator of this masterpiece is Antonio Vivaldi, an Italian composer. At Drury Lane the actors were all men, but from what I've learned through talking to theatre regulars is that he wrote it to be performed by all girls at an orphanage he worked at called the Conservatorio dell'Ospedale della Pieta. Even the male roles were supposedly played by the girls! The opera followed the story of Judith, a character from the bible's Old Testament in which the Assyrian king Nebuchadrezzar orders his troops to conquer the Israeli city of Bethulia on account of overdue tributes under the provision of a general named Holofernes. As the Assyrians lay siege to the town, a beautiful woman named Judith sets out to plead Holofernes for mercy on their city. Because of her stunning beauty, she is escorted directly to Holofernes. He is overtaken by her beauty and while he does not give in to her requests for mercy on her city, he insists that she sit next to his throne. After a feast and much wine was drank, Holofernes falls asleep and Judith beheads him just before she escapes to Bethulia, victorious.

This tale of heroism and glory against unjust invaders was exactly what was inspired by Schulenburg! I would have loved to have seen it performed by the orphan girls of the Conservatorio dell'Ospedale in Venice, alongside Vivaldi. What a proud moment that must have been for the Venetians who had the privilege to see this performed for them. I felt an overwhelming amount of pride during the performance, and I am from Wales!

It appears that reading The Original Weekly Journal has proven valuable. I would have known nothing, as I am sure you would have as well, about Schulenburg or his military accomplishments if it wasn't for that newspaper. Speaking of which, there were some interesting developments in this week's issue. I learned that the Ottomans are advancing into Holland, which violates a twenty year truce between the two. It seems as if conditions in the Baltic are escalating, and I only get more nervous about the ripples that could be coming from the Baltic Sea. However on the positive side of things, English and Dutch forces conquered a Turkish camp along the Baltic Sea. The newspaper claims that the English and Dutch seized a large amount valuable resources, such as 150 cannons, 8,000 tons of gunpowder, almost 12,000 wagons of oat, 400 horses, 2,000 camels, 40,000 sheep, 10,000 oxen and 200 women ranging from ages 14-20. I am curious as to what they intend on doing with these spoils of war. It makes me feel a little more comfortable knowing that forming an alliance with the Dutch makes England a very formidable foe for the Ottomans.

It was also detailed in this week's issue that France has placed restrictions on Christianity. I am not positive as to the extent of the restrictions or the severity of the punishments for violating the new prohibitions, but I know that preaching Christianity publicly and going to confession (except in very specific circumstances) is illegal. I imagine this is unwelcome news for your friend Jacques, last time I remember, he was a huge supporter of Christianity in France. I hope he finds peace and freedom in Christianity and is not persecuted for his beliefs. As a fellow Christian, it saddens me to see such laws prohibiting our sacred traditions.

Well, that's all I had to report to you, I hope this letter finds you and Mother in more desirable circumstances. I am excited to come home, but not before learning more about this new artistic culture that the grassy meadows of Wales lacks. I will write to you again soon with hopefully good news.

Your son,

Robert

January 15, 1717

Dear Father,

I am sorry it has been so long since I have written you. I have become so immersed in this culture I could hardly find the time to sit down and write this. I received your letter with much excitement. I am glad that Mother has regained her health and that you have more help with every day tasks. I hope your Christmas was as lovely as every other year. I can picture the honey baked ham and fresh vegetables on the table with the fancy silverware. I wish I could have been there, but Christmas in London is so pretty. The snow looks so beautiful throughout the streets. I want you and Mother to consider moving here, for good. I think both of you would love it. There is so much to do, from going to coffee houses to listen to poetry and dance to local music to going to plays and operas at any of the numerous theatres throughout London. I do not want you to live in isolation in Wales anymore, you deserve better than that loneliness. You would appreciate the energy and vibrance of the city. Uncle Thomas and Aunt Margaret say we have saved enough money to find a small place for us to live together, as a family again. I do not expect you to decide immediately, but I cannot in good conscience return to the country. I love it too much here, and I would miss the luxuries of London too dearly and would need to come back. I have developed a love for the theatre that cannot be undone. Writers such as Nicholas Rowe, Jonathan Swift, and Antoine Galland have inspired my love for literature and I yearn to experience all of it. I am positive that you and Mother would have similar feelings of fondness towards the theatre if you could experience it.

Being in the city has broadened my global perspective. I used to believe the world only reached from the hills sitting on the horizon to the ocean along the Welsh coast, but I have learned that there is so much more to it than that. There is so much more to enjoy in life than simply the pleasures of home. There is an entire world unknown in the confines of Wales to be found in the artistic sphere of urban life. Literature here in London is growing in popularity and quality, and I am lucky to be here to witness it. My readings of The Original Weekly Journal have introduced me to a wide range of worldly issues that I did not know existed back when I was with you and Mother. I feel so much more connected to the rest of the world, which is what living in London is all about for me. Susan and Patrick have been swept up in the joy of art as well, and they are excited about the idea of staying here for good. We miss you so much and wish you here to enjoy it with us. Please consider relocating here to London, and we can be a family again, but this time we can enjoy the luxuries of urban life together.

With love,

Robert


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