W-MCP5-6.255 TO ISAAC BALDWIN MCQUESTEN from his school friend, William Bickford
[Written at top of letter:] "Greeting with proper respect"
British North America
Aug 29 1869
To: Isaac Baldwin McQuesten
From: Ingersoll, Ontario
On last Saturday I wended my way, just as Aurora in her rosy chariot lighted up the portals of the east, to an unfrequented boreal stream within a few miles of the City of London and there engaged on piscatorial pastime for the space of one day. On Sabbath I was secured under the tent of an hospitable friend and then entertained to strawberries and the society of a charming young damsel whose eyes sparkled like Clicquots Champagne and who is a perfect mistress of the glorious art of equitation. There, like Ulysses on the island, was I enchanted till late on the following Monday evening, even unto the departure of the midnight train when by a desperate effort the spell was broken, and I wended my way homeward with a bright image haunting me as I dozed on my bed. But farewell, ye themes of fallacious bliss; may I not be like Anaerion of old--the wine and women bring bard of [?], who exclaims:--
I'd sing of Atreus and I'd sing
Of Cadmus too, the Theban King;
But hark! my lyre the theme confounds
And love's fond note alone resounds.
No sir: I can yet tell you in plain prose and in a distinct considered style how many trout we caught--here it rained like hell all day Saturday--how d...d wet I got--how hungry I became--and how I swore at the kind hearted little little mosquitoes who sought to calm my angry passions, but singing their choicest and most plaintive tunes around any human system encased in soaking habilements which I earnestly desired to pursue piscation [sic] without the aid of music to distract my attentions. Mighty Moses! it was annoying. About nibbles--a mosquito sings and alights plumb on the back of my hand, while another settles on the tip of my nose. The latter has got rid of by a dexterous upward puff of breath from my oral crevice but the other filled with bloodthirsty intentions stuck bill in flesh and clings pertinaciously to the "head-hook." It's unsufferable--fish may go to the deuce, but mosquito must be smashed. Accordingly, the other hand goes up, and comes down with a whack that shivers the offender to pieces, and when you come to attention with a steady hand again, no fish are to be found.
Brother Law-limb I greet you. Can you fold and endorse papers properly yet? You don't forget to stick in "said" and "aforesaid" pretty often do you? It gives an ordinary document great legal weight and a solemn high-sounding tone when those words are fully used. "Thereas" is another very good word likewise. In special conveyancing you would do well to follow this rule: Rule I.--Commence each paragraph with a "whereas" written in black letters: at every third word insert [word blotted out] or "aforesaid" as the style may require; make free use of obsolete words and terms: invert the natural order of your sentences as much as possible, so that none but yourself can make out your meaning: name the parties & put on the consideration, and be sure to add "of lawful money of Canada" without this a conveyance, I apprehend, would be null and void & finish up by saying that it was "signed sealed &c. on the day and the year first [?] written": attach your seal or seals and you have finished a perfect, valid conveyance. (Fee--$10.00).
Now, my dear old cuss, I have considered your invitation in all its bearings, and beg to say that I (this youth) extremely regret that your letter did not come to hand sooner. On the second day of July, at 10 am and insolvent goes up for his discharge & Brown & Wells his attorneys ad likem. I drew up all the necessary papers, and will have to attend. On the next day, there is an appointment before the County Judge in Chambers on the case of William [Underwood?] Jr., Landlord vs. John Keating, Tenant, wherein I the said Landlord must appear. Therefore, the week's visit you command will be impossible and must be deferred to another time. I couldn't stay a week until the long vacation. There is to be a big time in Woodstock on Dominion Day, and opening the Agricultural Grounds here, so old pill do you freight yourself for station on the morning of that day and I will await thy coming on the platform of the station aforesaid, even at the arrival of the 11.40 train and greet thee in becoming style.
I should like so very much to see you and hold civil converse with you face to face. D--d your lazy carcass, can't you get up on the train that leaves Hamilton about 6 p.m. so that we shall have a whole day to ourselves. We can then go to Woodstock or to Hamilton where there is to be a grand civic picnic at the Londoners: or we can commune privately on our own means. If you can come write by the 11:40 train (Ingersoll Time) and I will meet you in the evening. If you don't scratch, I'll look for you on the 11:40 Thursday. Here in fail not at your peril.
Bill [William Bickford]1
1 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.