W-MCP5-6.308 TO MISS ESTIMATE RUTH ESTHER BALDWIN [MCQUESTEN] from C.E. Fisher
Jan 5 1834
To: Estimate Ruth Esther Baldwin, Nashua, New Hampshire, [U.S.A]
From: Geneva Lycium, Geneva, Ontario County, New York, [U.S.A.]
I have been waiting for some weeks for intelligence from you which I did not obtain till last evening. I read down the first page of your short with deep expectation, as you held my mind between hope and fear, and I can assure you, I was not a little disappointed when I learned your decision.
I have been hoping with considerable confidence, that you would conclude to make Geneva your home, at least for a time, and further, that you might soon be directing your course this way; but the contents of your letter, instead of the arrival of yourself, have told me that you will not become a resident here at present. I know Maria will regret your decision very much, for her expectations were raised almost to confidence. I will inform Maria of your decision, and your reasons for it, in a few days, but shall not see her for some months.
As Maria may have given you some erroneous statements relative to the school, I will give you a description of it as far as I am able. By the circular that I sent, you will have seen the number of scholars that attended during last year, including all that were members of the Seminary in the course of the year. At this time, there are one hundred and sixty young ladies, members of the school, more by twenty than there have been at any permanent time. I suppose the teachers remain much as they were last year, only they probably have more [resistant?] pupils.
Mrs. Ricard is a lady of the first degree of talents, a very accomplished lady and generally beloved by her pupils; her health is very delicate by reason of which, she is unable to be in her school all of the time. Miss Thursting the vice principle, is a sister of Mrs. Gasset, formerly a missionary to Bombay, who went out there and married Mr. Judson, after whose death she married Mr. Garret. Miss Thursting is esteemed very highly as a teacher, and as a person in whatever capacity she acts. Four of the assistant teachers, I am personally acquainted with, and I think them to be young ladies of very great worth, and they are devoted Christians.
I should think the association, at this Seminary, was as good as could be found at any place; and I suppose the school stands as high in the estimation of the public, as any other one in our land, except Miss Grant's. there are other schools more fashionable than this, where more studies are attended to merely for accomplishment, but so far as useful, intellectual, and moral culture is concerned, I suppose no institution of this character is equal to it, in this State. The Seminary is situated in a delightful part of the paradise of Western New York. I say paradise, for I have never seen a place situated so pleasantly. It is situated on Seneca Lake, running, or rather laying north and south, which is called by those who visit the place the most clear and beautiful collection of water known; and contains three thousand inhabitants. Main street runs parallel with the lake, but so much higher that a person can have a delightful prospect for several miles. In the midst of this street is the Seminary, a noble edifice.
The society of Geneva is the best, or perhaps equally good with that of any other village to be found. If you had come here, or should you conclude to come at any future time, you will find a friend and a mother in Mrs. Ricard; and should you be sick, probably no place, but a mother's home would be offered you more kind attention.
But I cannot say our word, or hold out one inducement for you to break your resolution. That to act contrary to the wishes of your friends, and especially of your mother, but I do think you should find it a most delightful spot of this western paradise. You spoke of coming alone as not being safe. I can assure you, that it is not safe for a young lady to travel unprotected, and I would not let one of my sisters do it upon any consideration, for there are thousands of demons in human form, and of a gentlemanly appearance, who are employed to destroy the innocent, mistress and confiding young female; perhaps it is more so at the west, than at the east; and for but neither there nor here can a young lady unprotected by some tried friend, be so arrested against all abuse, while traveling upon our public roads, or cannot; and for this reason, I hope you will never be obliged to came to Geneva alone. I have known enough on this point within a short time to pain the heart of any one, who here has the feelings of humanity.
In regards to the probability of obtaining employment as a teacher, I will say what I know. One of the assistant teachers told me that Mrs. Ricard gave as much encouragement in your case, as she did to her, or as she ever had done in any case, to any one, and she thought as much as could be given to any one, with whom she was altogether unacquainted.
I suppose it is not an established custom, that young ladies must be pupils for six months before they become teachers. I know, indeed, that one of the present teachers began to teach in three months after she became a member of the school. But I suppose Mrs. Ricard has never engaged anyone, unless she has become acquainted with them as teacher pupils!
Although I never have had the pleasure of becoming very much acquainted with you, yet I had anticipated much pleasure in seeing you here, and knowing that there is one with whom I have formerly had an acquaintance. I am about seventy miles from Warsaw, my home, and I am alone, that is, there is none of my friends or acquaintances here, only those I have formed since I came here. [?] I find that there are many valuable persons here, and I have formed several pleasant acquaintances, and it has now become a second home to me.
You have undoubtedly decided as you thought best, in regard to coming here, and I cannot say any word to induce you to come; but if the inducements of which I have spoken should lead you to alter your mind; and should you wish for any further information in regard to the school I will aid you as far as I can. I shall be here till the latter part of July.
Maria spoke to me about your going west to teach and I thought a situation in this Seminary would be much more favourable to your delicate constitution, than to go into some more western section of the country, and take charge of a school yourself. There is nothing further relative to the school, that occurs to my mind which would be advantageous to you.
Miss Baldwin, Maria informs me that you are not a Christian or at least that you do not profess to be. I have never had sufficient acquaintance with you to learn that, but suppose your case to be as Maria says. She told me that you acknowledged the claims of the gospel to be just, and that they are binding upon you, but yet you do not yield to them. As one who loves your soul, let me ask, can you continue to resist these claims; given the Holy Spirit, that tender messenger, wound the dear Saviour and cause his sacred blood to flow afresh? What greater ingratitude can you be guilty of?
I suppose you intend to become a Christian at some further time. If so how ungrateful to him, and spend the best, and most precious part of your life in direct opposition to him, whose favour you hope at some point further in time to obtain. If this is your case, you are doing that daily for which you intend to repent: "Behold now is the accepted time, behold now is the day of Salvation!" I entreat you, as a friend to strive as if [it is at hand]. I shall be very much gratified to hear from you again. Yours affectionately
Miss E.R.E. Baldwin1
1 Estimate Esther Ruth Baldwin (1816-1851) became the second wife of Dr. Calvin McQuesten in 1844. She is the mother of Isaac Baldwin McQuesten 1847-1888 and of David 1849-1854.