W-MCP5-6.251 TO ISAAC MCQUESTEN from his friend William Bickford
Feb 23 1869
To: Isaac B. McQuesten, University College, Toronto, Ontario
From: Ingersoll, Ontario
Dear young antiquated youth,
I take my pen in hand to inform you that I am still in the land of the living and hope these few lines may find you the same.
Pilgrim, business is somewhat dull this stormy day, and methought I would while away a few minutes rather pleasantly, by writing you a bit of a letter.
So now, Ike--reformed cuss--listen while the aged pill discusseth to thee and lay up his words in the inmost
recesses of your heart; practise the precept herein set down for your practise and put your five cent bit into the missionary box every Sunday. Amen.
Now, my dear old cuss, let me unburden my mind of a little gossip before I plunge into the mazes of a letter. It will lighten my mind a good deal; and peradventure it may give the [frish?] [curago?] a light heart in the gloomy
recesses of your fagging shop. Hell, youth, here it is:
Went to Woodstock (do you mind?)--running out of
Registry Office, was assailed by John Matheson--he asked the
news from Toronto; of Ike, and of Mr. Boid--gave them.
Says he was in Paris the other day--saw the lovely Kate--says he, "By God, Bill, she's a lovely little girl--Poor Ike; poor Ike. But, oh, there's Angelina.1 I hear [Graham's?]
ahead there; is that so?" I informed John that I had the
pleasure of placing my optics on Mac and Ike times
innumerable--smoked with them ad lib--lodged with Bell--visited Ike I had a glimpse of Angelina, who looked radiant--Ike had quit her for a time, in order to heal her love for him &c.; and so on; ad lib ad infin: D.Capo.
To all this John cast his eyes mournfully heaven wards, drew forth his snuff box and gently tapping it, sighed, "Poor Ike, Katie should be his girl. God, she's charming."
I answered, "Yes, verily," and drew forth my own box and
took a heavy pinch for my own delectations. So ended our
short tete-a-tete. And now let me resume the thread of my discourse.
Holy Moses! Ike, I've quit smoking. Tobacco is a filthy, stinking, breath-polluting tooth-blackening, dirty, nasty, delusive devil-sent weed; and Meerschaum2 and L. D. are no better. Then we wept and longed for each other some weeks past. What glorious steadfast friends we were. Our little bickerings or differences were of short standing and soon settled whereupon we became better friends than ever. But my dear Ikey, boy, as you delight in a variety of
Desdemonas and mistresses, so do I delight in change of
mistresses. My Dulcinea now is in the shape of sweet
scented, [bounethe?] Maccaboy.3
She's a lively duck Ike, infinitely superior to
soporific Tobacco, and a most charming companion in
solitude. She is not expensive; each only a penny a
fortnight. She is not extravagant; for all the additions to my housekeeping arrangements were only a couple of Turkey-reds at 16 cts. a piece; which my lass in her providence declared would be absolutely indispensable to comfort and
economy in our new mode of life. But, Ike, she is fearfully jealous of my old concubine, Miss Tobacco; she fears a change in my affections--and so do I to tell the truth. N.B. this is confidential--in all other aspects she is a paragon of perfectino [sic]. Besides, I am somewhat
[sporney?] and awkward as may be quite pardonable during the honeymoon; and the way I pay her my little attention
sometimes provokes a smile from the uninitiated. (Strictly private) I take a nip at the old end occasionally though. It
goes gay and festive.
Pilgrim, after coming home, I was frustrated by a fit of indisposition poor man's bilious fever, induced by beer and "1/2 & 1/2", I say; the med. man says poor disposition. However, I'm all right again and will not trouble myself with solving the question.
I suppose you and Bill have some good old smokes
together. Holy Moses, I wish I were among you with my snuff
Youth, I go to church nearly every night and give a
cent to the Evangelists who preach here!!!!!!!!!
I dont what else to talk about [sic]--there's nothing going on here of any account; all snowed up cold as death's pecker hung in a well.
Write as soon as soon as convenient. Faggez-vous?
By the bye, how does the prices of baby-linens range in the city--no demand in the country for those things an [sic]
not wanted by simple men and Benedicts make provisions for
such contingent expenses.
[Several drawings in a line: skirt, bee, shirt,
triangle.] Cartoon found in the temple of Cheops. It has
baffled the skilled of savans [savants] to decipher it. Can you give a guess?
Bill [William Bickford]4
1 It is likely that this is a reference to Mary Baker, since one of Isaac's friends composed a humourous poem to "Angelina Baker" (W2795).(For the "Angelina" poem and mention of her in letters, see, W2259n, W2795, W-MCP5-6.254, W-MCP5-6.253, W-MCP5-6.251, W-MCP5-6.243).
2 A Meerschaum is a type of pipe for smoking tobacco. It is named for a very rare mineral, a kind of hard white clay which is a natural filter which absorbs the nicotine. The longer it
is smoked the more valuable it becomes (http://www.meerschaum.com/).
3 Maccaboy is a kind of snuff named after the district where
it is made in the Island of
Martinique.(www.probertencyclopaedia.com/A74.HTM - 58k)
4 William Bickford and Isaac were both lawyers, friends from University of Toronto. William often wrote long letters, often teasing Isaac. See W-MCP5-6.256 for more on Bickford.