The GOSPEL TRUTH
CHARLES G. FINNEY
To Mary Lamson
2 March 1865
[MS in Finney Papers 2/2/1]
Oberlin 2d March 1865
My Dear Sister Lamson
Yours of the 25th ult. was recd last evening.
In regard to the report you mention I
reply 1. I am not aware that my Dear Wife
ever took opium in any form or in any
quantity while she lived with me. She never,
to my knowledge, kept the article in the house.
She never spoke of needing it. Manifested no
tendency toward its use. The only use I ever
heard of her making of ^ was, her son told me
that just before her death when she was at
Brooklyn, under the direction of a physician,
her nurse gave her 10. drops of Laudanum.
This he told me on my express enquiry in regard
to all they had done for her.
2. There was enough for gossipers to make a story almost
The facts were these. Before she was my wife she had
a severe attack of inflamation of the brain. For
this she was treated but never altogether recovered.
She was su[b]ject, before I married her, to seasons of
such fearful head aches as quite distracted her.
Nothing was found to relieve her but a powerful
stimulant. On some occasions these stimulants
had been administered too freely. So great was
her suffering that she would take any thing
from which she hoped to find relief. She would
take any powerful stimulant which might be obtained
in small quantities & repeat the dose often
until she found relief. It had sometimes happened
that she had taken so much as to stupefy her.
Of this I knew nothing until after I was engaged
to marry her. When our engagement was known at Rochester
some of my friends, who had heard some gossip that
had got abroad about this matter, wrote me
about it. She gave me a frank statement of the
matter. Those best acquainted with her entirely
concurred in her statement. So did her Physicians.
These paroxisms occurred during the delicate health
that followed her great bereavements, & as she was
at that age that rendered her health precarious.
I was quite satisfied with what I learned &
married her. I saw no tendency in her to use
stimulants. She seemed not to need them appeared
not to care for them in any form. When her health
began to decline towards the close of her
life, her fearful headaches returned
with the same symptoms as manifested before
I married her. If servants were left to take
care of her, in her desperation she would call
for remedies so frequently as occasionally to get
too much, for she could bear but little.
If I, or her daughter was with her, all would
be right, as we knew how much she could
bear. When in one of those paroxisms she was
totally unable to judge as to what she could
bear, & would sometimes take any thing she
could lay her hands on, being quite
beside herself - Her consumptive tendencies
directed our attention at last from her head.
I had feared apoplexy. She fell once while
at her toilet, in the morning. After that she
could never lie in a certain position without
an unindurable swiming & virtigo of the
brain. After she left home the ulcer in her
lungs discharged freely & then the disease
in her brain took on a fatal type. During her
last two or three days at Syracuse, her sons inform
me that she called often for stimulants
which they administered in small doses but
without effect. From this they engendered
a story, as I heard in Syracuse, that she
died of delirium tremens. I never heard
any thing of her taking opium until you
mentioned it in your letter. There is a Mrs. Burrell
living here, who was from Andover & who was there
last summer. She was a friend of Mrs. F. & should
not think she would say such a thing. There are
several families of that name within 20 miles of
Oberlin. The talk about her hear was set on foot
by some highered ^ girls & especially by one who
became offended with Mrs. F. without any good
reason, & left in a rage, & took much pains to
injure her. Mary, My Dear wife was what you
saw her to be. She was certainly one of the
best & most pure & useful of women.
Give my kindest love to Brother Lamson & love
& kisses to all the children. Give my love
also to Delia Woods. Julia will write.
I hope you will have a great revival.
We are still enjoying a blessed work.
My health is quite good. I preach as
usual. Do come & see us.
God bless you all forever
C. G. Finney
D. L. Leonard, in his "Notes upon Talks with Pres. Fairchild" Vol. 2, 1 July 1897, p. 19, wrote of Finney's wife: "Had queer spells wd shut hers. up & was thot by some th she 'took something'. Died off E. in such a spell, in hotel."