W2169 TO ISAAC BALDWIN MCQUESTEN from William Dunn
Jul 1 1884 Saturday 7 P.M.
To: [Hamilton, Ontario]
From: Cooper Institute [New York City]
It is with the greatest reluctance I trouble you again after detaining you so long this afternoon. But wishing to put myself right and to avoid misinterpretation causes me to thus impose on your time in reading this. You were evidently annoyed when being asked if I could run an Engine and I replied that I could be better than that. In this reply I did not intend to convey any contempt for the (to me) implied or rather possible offer for such situation. But both from practiced experience accustomed habits associations, education and in fact every element, I could not fill such position as satisfactorily as the most illiterate laborer presented with ordinary observance who had been engaged for a few months shovelling coal into the Furnace. Although conversant with the theory of Engines, I am not sure that I could pass an examination and thus become a qualified Licensed Engineer. And I have always held that any man running an Engine should be held strictly accountable for accidents arising from or can be traced in the slightest degree to his negligence or ignorance. Also believing that the Employer is equally culpable by employing a man that has not been examined and credited with the proper credentials. This is my reason for not entertaining the idea of any such employment.
Respecting the offer of the $10.00, I spoke the truth when I said it would not be of much use to me and gave my reasons. I might [have?] taken it, and said it made me comparatively happy, but this would not have been the fact. It is time I was and am in as pleasant a position as a person possibly could be placed in, [being?] in a strange city, literally among strangers. The position might not have been so bad had I known in the morning what the result of the interview was to be, for then I could have Telegraphed to those who have always responded Cheerfully to any requests I have made. In the morning I spoke of this, as what I would have, in the event of your not being able to assist me, to do. It is needless to say I now regret not carrying out my intention of the morning. However I must try to meet the difficulty in the best [manner?] possible for myself. With regards to selling the Couplers I [cannot?] member, [a move?] made by me but it [would] be objected to in some form, and the idea of accepting of a small amount was not mooted to me. This I was always in favor of. This possibly can be realized yet, however, I do not entertain large anticipations but hope for the best. For your sake I trust something may be realized out of it. For myself, I am indifferent [as] I do not expect to devote hopeful thoughts or time to it unless directly requested to do so, and there is some signs of fulfilment.
Of the Sett I will not say much, having gone over the ground fully before I came here to introduce. I did so at an expense of which $120. will replace, that is, at the cost of 17 machines, and my own time. With the competition and opposition met with the labor was not pleasant, nor at all such as makes me crave to pursue it. But there is no disguising from myself the fact that I succeeded in establishing the fact, that I was the originator of the best machine that had ever been put on the market. Acknowledged to be so by those thoroughly competent to judge, and whose opinion is worthy of credence. It has been the experience of every manufacturer I have met and I seen a few [sic], that it requires a large amount of time to perfect a new machine, a large [outlay?] to successfully manufacture, and some expenditure to introduce. This has also been my experience. The machine has been perfected, the tools made for manufacturing, and has been sufficiently introduced to give it a reputation. With regard to a demand for it. If there is any machine that there is a general demand for, without introduction or attention being drawn to it, in some way I have never heard of it nor expect to. My knowledge of machinery and the methods of selling forbid such expectation. Respecting these other tools, it is not necessary for me to say why I give them up, having explained that fully. I saw and knew that the more articles that an agent handled directly in the same line The more certain he would be in making the [?] remuneration. This is so plain to those conversant with selling machinery that it is hardly necessary to consider such opinion as disputable. Whether there is profit enough or not in these articles I will not debate. All I know is this, that I would not start out again without something to warrant current expenses being paid, unless I had some fund to call on. Ere the returns came in from the sale of Setts and I hardly think that a person can be found to do it. I have as much faith in the Setts as any one can have. But know that it has to be sold as other machinery usually is, on approval and 30 days time. And I do think it will be rather hard to find any one who will endeavour to keep the expenses as low as I strove to do, while introducing it. Of the merits of any or all the machines, it is useless to say anything. For I consider myself capable of judging without assistance of the judgement of my [own?]. It is needless to say I intend making these latter articles, whether by the assistance of friends, or by acting in conjunction with another party. I shall decide by Monday. I have spent considerable time on the subject and cannot afford to abandon it. Be the results what it may. I hope it will not place me in the humiliating position of a beggar. With regard to the ultimate disposition of the Setts &c. I have no suggestions to offer, whatever you wish done, and is practicable. I shall attend to, if it can be done, without disrespect to myself. That is all I ask. That I cannot devote a great deal of time to the matter under existing circumstances is obvious to you.
In my last letter to Hamilton, I stated what I could do and wanted to do.1 I would further say, that I am anxious that you should get every cent that possibly can be got out the whole of the transactions, until you are entirely recouped. But looking the matter squarely in the face, I do not see how remuneration can be got out of it without my aid. This I would cheerfully give, but it will not be in my power, if forced to turn my attention to other objects, and engage in cooperation with others. You can see, that I could not hold myself in a position to engage on the Setts the very day that a man was found that came up to what was required. No matter how decisive I might be (not for the positive) to do anything to please you in the matter. If you can agree to proportion in the latter mentioned and the ($200) amount is not returned within [70?] days from the receipt, I will give you a confession of judgement for all there is and [also?]. And give two months tie to wind up the matter and get it in proper shape for others to handle, I can offer nothing else unless it be to give you my eldest Brother as surety. I have not written him. But know he will do anything I ask him. The only thing is the loss of time in arranging such a matter. I can add nothing more.
There was one expression frequently made use of during our interview. That I must say grated rather harshly, I was and am not starving, having too many friends to come to that position. Hence I would not like that opinion to be entertained. It is true that I was short of money, but it is also true I had those from whom I could borrow. If I had not, my position to-night would be unenviable. Hoping you will favor with an answer.
I.B. McQuesten Esq.
5th Ave. [?]
1 This statement may be the means of dating this letter as Dunn's relationship with Isaac and Calvin McQuesten was deteriorating at this time. On October 29, 1883, Dunn wrote a very long letter to Isaac outlining what he was prepared to do to try to recoup losses for Isaac and Calvin, and he also replied to criticisms so as to justify his handling of the various patents, including the Saw Set (W2537). And a subsequent letter from Isaac to Calvin appears to follow it (W2648). In W2648 Isaac turns the matter over to Calvin who suggests that Dunn might be able to work at some labouring job to recoup some of the losses.