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W-MCP5-6.253 TO ISAAC BALDWIN MCQUESTEN from his school friend William Bickford
May 4 1869
To: Isaac Baldwin McQuesten University College, Toronto, Ontario
From: Ingersoll, Ontario

Despondent Bugger!

When the third sun shall have illuminated the portals of the east, fringing the fleecy clouds of heavens canopy with gold and crept stealthily through the window of thy dormitory one Isaac Baldwin McQuesten {(pluckandus) [but, pass??], pass.} shall arise from his couch, linger in a sitting position thereon, remove the night's accumulation of mucilage from his proboscis and, in a half wakeful mood, with his strong right hand, grope around in search of his unmentionables. The time is 6 a.m. The scene is exquisite--sublimely [ridiculous?], with a tinge of the pathetic. His customary morning ablutions are neglected. The capillary appearance which flourishes on the apex of his intellectual cranium is unkempt and unshorn, with every hair erect on its own support, totally independent and regardless of the condition of its neighbor; beckoning an abnormal activity of the brain and entire disregard of matters and things sublunary save and except the idioms, and translation of the language of those wonderful people whom Caesar cruelly drove ab aris et focis into the morasses and forests of there fatherland. No fire cheereth his sinking soul; no sandals are bound to his feet; no well fitting coat protects his shivering frame; no nourishment passeth his oral crevice; the welcome sound of the breakfast bell is unheard. Alone in his shirt sleeves sitteth Isaac, the son of Calvin; his underjaw drooping, his pipe unsmoked, for he hath no appetite even for the solacing weed; his eyes scanneth intently a page of Gallic literature; he even "speaketh" not, as was his wont; the incomparable tableau of the lovely Angelina1 scarcely forces a flash of joy across his melancholy visage. Amuk's dust hath been suffered [tracum mutato?] on this Palladium of Isaac's future felicity whereby no beauteous model of her earthly tabernacle is sorely disfigured. He at length, "draws a dial from his poke" and arising himself from his stupor "says very wisely it's ten o'clock." Forthwith he proceeds on at all speed to array his human system in his usual dress and his academical habitements [sic]. But hark! a sound is borne to his Tympanum while he was engaged in giving the last touches to the occiputal [occipital] parting of his hair. The brush drops from the hand; the second mirror is hastily laid aside; and donning mortar board, he marcheth slowly, sadly in the direction of the Convocation Hall, keeping time with the "Dead March in Saul" as played by old Rex on the knell which cometh to Isaac as the last trump of the Archangel Gabriel.

He entereth the dread portals, and gazeth upon Rhadaman thus sitting in judgment; he throws himself into a seat, uninvited; he cries out "paper, paper" and he getteth a paper which produces a relaxation of the facial muscles; down falleth the jaw again; up goeth his eyes heavenward, to gaze at the ceiling; hands arrested deep in breeches pocket. Isaac then feels that there is no sociability between him and the paper. But at last he manages to blacken 3 or 4 pages of Univ. paper with a line and a half on each page. "Sign your papers, gentlemen"--and Isaac's knees smite one another as he totters to the desk with his 3 pages of material.

Time rolls on apace--it is whispered that "old Ike" has been relieved of his winter's growth of feathers, as geese are wont to be denuded at the commencement of the hot season--especially at Univ. of Toronto2 (N.B.:-note-a.(B). X {(8)}, Beaver attempts to show that he is a pluckist.)

Well, Ike, don't get mad now, for I like to tease you, old bloke. The above is the fruit of imagination and in litteratoor is called fickshun [sic] . "A word." But I fear there may be a slight foundation in fact for the vast fabric I have raised in imagination.

Wretched creation, methinks that one can manage to take a trip this approaching summer, before the dog-star punches the ground, dries up rivers, kills fish, and scorches the descendants of Deucalion and Pyrrha. A piscatorial hour I propose. What sayest thou? Preliminaries arranged soon I hope? I don't associate with denuded geese nor yet with Cund. B.A.'s who leave Toronto in a state of nudity. So human.


I wrote Lance the other day, but I am afraid he won't get it if he has gone to Cleveland. Confound him! now I suppose he won't go anywhere else this summer. The removal of the troops, and the expected departure of the Fort Adjutant and family may have something to do with the Lance's fleeing from his native city and pouring out his grief in a foreign land. "[?] Jerusalem I forget, strike part from my right hand"--singeth the Lance. The old villain! we'll have to mother him Ike.

Don't read late my boy; if you do wear [spectacle]. Work moderately but steadily. Don't perambulate King St. with [cane] and [dog] and [pipe]. Don't spend too much time with [girl]. Don't lie in [bed] too late. Keep within [door]s and go to [church] regularly. Write me a [letter] soon &c.3

Bust all things another way of papers &c. in all departments especially in Lith. Let old (Fig. 7[with drawing of a fire cracker under the 7])*'s alone or hell bust you.

No more from the old Pill today--

*Note--Fig 7 is intended for a fire cracker.

[William (Bill) Bickford]4

1 It is likely that this is a reference to Mary Baker, since one of Isaac's friends composed a humourous poem about "Angelina Baker" (W2795). Isaac married Mary Baker on June 18, 1873. (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 Bickford is making a clever allusion to being "plucked," a colloquial term for failing a test.

3 In this paragraph the writer has drawn little pictures instead writing the actual words "spectacles," "dog," etc.

4 Although the letter is unsigned, the handwriting and playful teasing tone is virtually identical to several others from the same person, William Bickford (see W-MCP5-6.254, W-MCP5-6.255, W-MCP5-6.256).

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The development of this website was directed by Mary Anderson, Ph.D. and Janelle Baldwin, M.A.
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