W-MCP2-4.052 TO THOMAS MCQUESTEN from his mother, Mary Baker McQuesten
May 18 1905
To: Thomas McQuesten 22 Grosvenor St. Toronto Ontario
My dearest boy,
Will begin a letter though I have been thinking perhaps to hear from you as to your success1 and whether to expect you home this week. As you left so recently of course there is not much to tell. In either Monday or Tuesday "News" there was a capital article by W.A. Fraser on American and English Magazines and Novels. It gave the novel writers Mrs. Humphrey Ward, Anthony Hope [Hawkins], and others a fine dressing down, for their founding their tales on immoral characters and it was every word true. I wish the authors could read his article and I trust many young people may read it. People are becoming accustomed to read and speak of the vilest lives without being at all shocked. Just as everybody read "Trilby" and discussed it too, and young gentlemen presented it to young ladies. It was simply disgraceful2.
By a piece of good luck I got hold of Willie Stuart yesterday to cut the grass but he is engaged all the time by Mr. Ptolemy so I must look for someone else. This evening we saw Mrs. Mullin off at the station on her way to Baltimore. On Saturday the steamers Macassa and Modjeska3 both commence running and time table is changed. They leave here at 8:30 a.m., 2 p.m., and 5:15 p.m.--and Toronto at 9 a.m., 2 p.m., amd 5:15 p.m., so you must remember that.
Well this is Friday morning and as have heard nothing by post will enclose your tickets in case you decide at last minute to come up. We are busy housecleaning. May God bless you! With much love.
1 Tom was writing exams.
2 William Alexander Fraser (1859-1933) engineer, began his writing career with stories published in the Detroit Free Press. Most of his writing life was spent in Georgetown and Toronto, Ontario. He wrote popular fiction such as: The Lone Furrow (1907), Bulldog Carney (1919). "He wrote with a strong air of moral didacticism" (OCCL 433).
Fraser's article covers three columns and provides commentary on many magazines and authors' works in Canada, America and England. He finds American and Canadian literature morally superior to English: "there is next to no market for degrading literature, unless, unfortunately, it has had a previous great success in England." He applauds Canadian literature because "In the first place Canadians are a clean-living, God-fearing people; they have little inclination to filth either in their literature or in their lives" (The News, Toronto, May 15, 1905).
Of Mary August Ward (Mrs. Humphrey Ward) (1851-1920), Fraser found her work "exotic" and hoped that editors "would eliminate useless depravity or refuse" it altogether. He also criticizes Ward, Charlotte Bronte, and Marie Corelli because they "take great cognizance of the legs of Churchmen." The OCEL notes that Ward was a social activist and embodied in her most famous novel, Robert Elsmere (1888) her view that Christianity could be revitalized by emphasizing its social mission and discarding its miraculous element (OCEL 871).
Sir Anthony Hope Hawkins (1863-1933) was the "author of The Prisoner of Zenda (1894), Rupert of Henzau (1898), The Dolly Dialogues (1894) and other novels and plays" (OCEL 373). Trilby, a novel by George Louis Palmella Busson DuMaurier (1894) is about "an amiable artist's model in Paris, with whom various young English art-students fall in love" (OCEL 832). These books are not in the Whitehern library.
3 The Macassa, Modjesca and the Turbinia were steamships that carried passengers between Hamilton and Toronto across Lake Ontario (Campbell 247). It was a very convenient method of travel. Mary used the ships for visits to friends and to her dentist in Toronto (W5665). The trips cost: "on the Macassa we can get 10 trips for a dollar or 25 cents return. The Turbinia 50 cents" (W5313). Meals could be purchased in the dining room on board. Tom reports that the Royal Hotel in Hamilton took the overflow from a medical convention in Toronto, and that the convenient travel by steamship made this possible (W8193).