[Written at top of envelope:] Robert Thomas Johnson
[Written at bottom left corner of envelope:] Mr. Arms
W-MCP5-6.242 TO MARGARETTE B. [LERNED] MCQUESTEN from her friend Mary Allen
Dec 21 1840
To: Margarette Lerned McQuesten, Hamilton, Upper Canada,
From: Brockport, New York [U.S.A.]
My Dear Mrs. McQuesten
I was very much gratified to receive your kind letter & intended answering it immediately but the situation of my family was such as prevented my attempting it at that time since I have been occupied with various matters. Society, Fair, Journeying, domestic cares be. Still they are not all a sufficient apology as so little letter time is requisite for writing a letter that I might have done it so many times were it not for my constant habit of procrastination. I saw Mr. Arms on Friday; P. Nike told me he was to leave on Monday for Hamilton & as I was much engaged on Saturday I concluded that I would not allow the present opportunity to pass unimproved & have taken this evening contrary to my usual custom for writing.
I very much regretted not having had the pleasure of seeing you on your return from the East--your husband too left without even giving us a call & did not know but he was in the village until he had been gone some weeks. I had hoped for the pleasure of seeing you in the fall with your little one in health & heard an account of your journey with our mutual friend [Miss] W. otherwise Mrs. Robinson--When I tell you I have not written to her since she visited me & that she has twice written to me since that time. I hope you will be disposed to forgive me (as you know how dear she is to all our family) the apparent neglect to yourself as I can truly assure you it has not been owing to want of friendship
And I will now say to you, you must not fine spun sentimental letters from me, they will be details of matters and things generally. As I have never at any time of my life been much given to moralizing in Epistolary writing I shall not attempt it much at this advanced age. If you are like me you would be better satisfied to hear of your friends than Letters of sentiment. particularly such as I should be likely to write.
To begin with details--We are much in the same state of health as we were when you were here sometimes comfortable sometime not quite so on the whole gradually wearing out the little constitutions we have left I speak particularly of my husband, self & Mary-Frances & George are about the same as when you saw them. My husband has suffered very much from ill health the past year particularly during the last winter he is at present feeble but for the most part of the time able to go to the store two or three times in a day--We [?] up the house last summer boarded Frances & George with Mr. H. Mary & myself journeyed principally on account of my Husband's health--We visited N. York, Connecticut, Philadelphia & my husband went as far as Washington--We left M. in Oneida County on our return where she remained until a few weeks since & would have done through the winter but we could not spare her longer & sent for her home--We were absent [?ing] of 6 weeks--left 1st of July--I have suffered occasionally from those nervous attacks & probably shall continue to do so whenever there is an exciting cause.
George is at present in Lima at school, will not probably be home until some time in May--We have about concluded to send Frances to Le Roy Seminary--term commences the second Wednesday in January, if we do we shall only have Mary with us--George Bond came to board with us on our return and will probably remain with us through the winter he has been in our [store?] the past summer.
We have no domestics, expecting a little girl ten years of age, daughter of Mr. Gill of this place. The girl I had with me was sent for by his sister. I have not been able to procure one since that time although we are much in need. We have however plenty of company as there are many families who are situated as we are--I sometime wished I lived in Canada where I could get supplied--I very much need some trusty faithful girl who can understand different kinds of kitchin [sic] work as any be able will not and more as I do [sic], as much as I should be glad if Mary could be a little more exempt from such duties.
I have [?] gone visiting my sister at Lewiston ever since my return but have not been able on account of not having anyone to leave [?]. Had I gone during the warm season I think you might possibly have had a visit from me as I very much desire to see you at your new place of residence. I intend as soon as roads are good if my Husband is able to go with me & I can arrange so as to leave home to go, but I shall not be willing to encounter cold weather any further than Lewiston & should not even there, were it not on account of sister and health.
Will you not visit at Brockport the ensuing season? We shall be pleased to see you together with Husband & little boy. You would find some changes even in the place of one & a half years, and one that you would probably feel as much as any, would be the death of your friend Mrs. Brewster. From the little acquaintance I have with her I thought her one of our most worthy & exemplary inhabitants. She lived, I believe the life of a devoted Christian & died in the triumph of faith. Doc. Thatcher has lost his second daughter which I suppose you have heard of. I shall leave it for Mr. Arms to give news of the village, as I have been so much of an egotist as to occupy this sheet almost entirely to myself.1 I would ask if you have taken residence permanently in Hamilton or do you design at some future day to return to Brockport? I hope you will answer in the affirmative as I should like to take occasionally one of my evening rambles and call in upon you. If you remain or as long as you remain shall be happy to have you visit as often as is consistent with other duties and beg you to pass on my regards to my [sisters?], as my writing will depend on few instances, not inclination. Please present respects to your husband & accept the best wishes of myself & family for your health & Happiness. Mary says she shall write [?]. Much love from her & Frances also. Your truly affectionate Friend,
[P.S.] Mary would have written Saturday but Mr. Fielding has his eldest son & she was [?] making articles for family. If you know of one of the best girls in the world & one that would be willing to come to Brockport, do send word--above all should I like one of good disposition. Yet would like other qualifications such as cleanliness, honest, knowledge of work general, of course such as one girl no would be difficult to be found there as will as here, but really I have not heard so much [?] [?] by every one as at the present time. I will you write very soon I shall endeavour to have it answered in something less than a year.
Ever Yours, M.A.
1 There is no added note on the sheet from Mr. Arms, although his name appears at the bottom left-hand corner of the envelope, which usually indicates that he is the person who will be carrying and delivering the letter. Perhaps his "news" was on a separate sheet.