W0881 TO MARGARETTE B. [LERNED] MCQUESTEN from her friend Harriet H. McLure
Mar 20 1837
To: Margarette B. (Lerned) McQuesten, Brockport, New York, [U.S.A.]
From: Jacksonville, Illinois, [U.S.A]
You will doubtless wonder my dear friend, what strange being off in Illinois has presumed to address your ladyship without invitation or permission, and still more will you wonder what can have induced me after an acquaintance of one short year to address you thus familiarly: but how true it is that the best and almost the only test of our affections, is, to deprive them of the objects to which they are allied, and I assure you I little knew how strongly my interest and affections are connected with Brockport and the kind friends associated with it. Yet by the silence which they manifest towards me I am sometimes induced to believe I was but a cypher among them. Notwithstanding the repeated, and apparently sincere assurances of Mrs. Sadler that she would write me very soon, six months have rolled away and not one word yet. I have written a long letter to Mrs. Sweatt but have recieved [sic] no reply. Knowing her aversion to letter writing I very charitably attribute it to that; but let the case be as it will I think of you all a great deal, and feel very anxious to hear some particulars of the joy or sorrow that may attend you. And very often do I look in upon you my dear friend, and fancy you seated in your easy rocking chair by one of your pleasant windows with your kind husband, or some agreeable companion at your side to beguile a weary hour; and not unfrequently do I retrace the many pleasant hours I have passed in the same way, while the uncertainty of the future prompts this question, "shall I ever know the like again?" But I would not have you infer that I am homesick, by no means.
The affections and kindness of my sister and brother with whom we have passed the winter, has of itself been sufficient to dispel all feeling of that nature, but beside that, and that which weighs far more with me, is the health of Henry which I think has decidedly improved. The hope that it may be entirely restored would render any place pleasant; yet there is something chilling in finding one's self among strangers, recieving [sic] and returning those heartless formal calls, where total indifference on both sides is the most predominant feeling, but this is the way of the world and I suppose I must abide by it.
You have probably heard through Father of our journey to this place; it was long and part of the way tedious tho' on the whole we enjoyed it very much. The country looks much as I expected, in six or eight weeks we shall see it in all its beauty and can then judge of it better. The climate is very variable. Yesterday I took a long walk without a shawl and found the Sun oppressive, today a hot fire is comfortable. The most magnificent scene I have witnessed in this country was an extensive Prairie on fire, it was an object I had long been anxious to see and was highly gratified. We passed the night very near it, in a log cabin with but one room, that, in connection with the boundless plain around us and our companions all huddled together rendered the whole romantic in the extreme. My Sister's is a very retired and beautiful spot: her husband Prof. Post, is connected with the college, which is a mile from town.
The Society of Jacksonville as far as I can judge is very agreeable except the very great division existing among different denominations. Among the Congregationalists and Presbyterians there is a perpetual strife; and I feel more than ever grateful that I belong to a church where there is at least more harmony if not more purity, and I am very happy to be placed once more where I can enjoy the rites and services of that church; it's like embracing a dear and true friend from whom I have long been separated. In expressing these feelings I think I am addressing a heart that understands and appreciates them.
Here I am upon the last page of my letter without making a single enquiry of my friends, but writing is so much like talking with and [sic] old friend, that in the joy of meeting I forget half I would say. Henry has had but two letters from his Father and you know gentlemen seldom write news; he merely mentioned the failures and fire. Have the Sadler's [sic] established themselves again? What has become of Louisa, does she continue in the same house, and as domestic as in former days, does she continue as warm a friend to me as she once professed to be? You know there is a little spirit called Hypocrisy hovering about the hearts of some of the good people in B., and if tis not treason I wish you would answer that question. Is Mrs. P. Sweatt still at Mr. [Walkers?]? How is Mrs. Minot? Mrs. Burroughs and Fuller? I always liked the latter for her sincerity. How is your friend Mrs. Allen and Mary? When is Mary to be married? How are Elder Putnam's family? Are they to remain another year? Is Mrs. Morse living? She looked so miserably when I left I feared she could not continue long. I should like to know what additions Mrs. Robie and Williams have had to their families and how they are, and also Mrs. J. Sweatt. Have you seen her since her husband's failure, how does she bear it? How did she enjoy her solitary winter "down North"? I suppose long before this all past difficulties between her and the Dr. are forgotten. Does Jo [?] still board at his fathers? Does Frederic Brewster remain in B.? Father mentioned in his last that his wife had gone to Windsor. What induced her to undertake the journey at this season and how long is she to remain? Have you seen much of her this winter? Does she like the Brockport people better than formerly and how do they like her? I wish I could see you for a little while, I know you would tell me more than you can write but do write me all particulars of all friends particularly of yourself. How have you been through the winter, and how are you this spring? Does Mrs. Arons smile upon as often as she used to, and treat you to so many delicacies? What families board in the new Hotel? I am afraid I have wearied you with
my many questions, but I believe you would excuse them if you knew how anxious I am to hear. I have not heard of Col. Sanborn since mid-winter he had not then determined where to locate. Is the sewing society continued. Has Mr. Bennet built his new house or what new fashion is he dashing away upon?
You can't imagine how courageous and accomplished I have become out in this new country. I have learnt to fire off a Pistol or gun without trembling or hesitation, but Henry already repents teaching me, he fears I shall take him for my mark. Henry joins me in much love to yourself, your good husband and all friends. Do write me soon a good long letter. I am quite impatient to hear from you.
Harriet H. [McClure?]1
Mrs. Calvin McQuesten
Brockport, New York
1 The name is possibly McLean. See also W0914.
2 To learn more about Margarette Barker Lerned [McQuesten] please see W0609.