W2275 TO ISAAC B. MCQUESTEN from his friend Robert Hope
Aug 29 1869
To: Isaac Baldwin McQuesten, Hamilton, Ontario
From: 24 Cathcart Street, Montreal, Quebec
My dear Ike,
Doubtless you have supposed I have never received your letter, but it came to hand in due course and imagine--if you can--my feelings upon opening the same to find how I am pitched into in your first few sentences. You forsooth to talk about drinking! You who in "days to memory dear" were wont to be called the "mighty mingler" as well as drinker of "strong drink."1 Grief, astonishment and dismay held alternate possession of my soul when I thought, and has it come to this--already--alas! So young too, and so fair, truly, yes it must be--verily much learning--even legal lore hath turned poor Isaac's brain!!
It is customary when people have been remiss in answering correspondence, but my dear boy you know I never bore a good character for promptness in replying to letters. However I have not much fear of your displeasure; sure am I that your old face will beam with smiles from the fact of getting--tardy tho' it be--this acknowledgement of your very welcome long, and amusing letter.
But before going further, allow me to congratulate you in having at last with credit to yourself and college passed that Gulf which separates the undergraduate from the full-fledged Bachelor. I should have liked well to have been present at Convocation to see you "turned off." Inclination said go, but business cried here thou art and here thou must remain until winter sets you free again!!
Goodwin Gibson I have not seen this summer in fact with the exception of Markland when on his way to the old country I saw no Upper Canadian friends this year. Of course, Bob etc. were here but only for a few hours. I always expected to see your manly countenance come in upon me some day, but have looked and sighed and sighed and looked in vain. Surely the Law has not taken such complete hold of you but that you might have taken a run down for a day or two. I thought perhaps it might be possible to take out a writ of habeas corpus and thus get possession of the youth!
I had a letter from Bob a few days ago in which he gives me an account of some of his doings since leaving Canada. Apparently he and Markland had a "high old time" together. They went into the Continent and in the short time they were there got over a good deal of ground--took a run up the Rhine, were in Switzerland, France, etc. I understand our people will be leaving for home next--Wednesday 1st Sept.
It will perhaps be satisfactory to you to know that the Pig Iron business is flourishing. We have done it up in style this year, and by about middle of next week something like 9,000 [?] will have passed through my hands representing in value over $200,000!! I am looking forward to the time once again, we two shall meet and hold sweet converse amid clouds of our own making.
I trust the "Farmer boy" is in good health and that he is not applying himself too closely in studying the right proportions of mixing manures. Tell him from me to beware as it would be a sad thing to hear that he had fallen a victim (while inspecting the dung heap) from the gases which proceed therefrom. Died while in the pursuit of knowledge--what an epitaph! Rather let him turn his attention to raising stock it may be thro' the Farm or by marriage both means are good in their way. For my part I should prefer the former as in the latter you would require a wife, hence trouble, annoyance and--Bairns!!!
When writing or when you meet any of my old friends please remember me to them. I suppose by the time I reach home you will have studied enough Law to floor me in any argument. However go on in your virtuous way and you will be happy! Remember it is but a short time before you will be called before the Bar, and as in all likelihood--immediately after passing--you will be asked (owing to your great gravity and steadiness) to accept a seat upon the Bench.
See that you take care to support the dignity in a suitable and becoming manner!
As paper is about out I will conclude and leave you to your meditations.
1 This is one of the early signs of Isaac's dependency on alcohol, which was a contributing factor in his bankruptcy and death in 1888. See, W-MCP5-6.256, W2511, W4327, W1592 and others.