W2321 TO DR. CALVIN BROOKS MCQUESTEN from his brother Isaac Baldwin McQuesten
Jan 21 1873
To: Dr. Calvin Brooks McQuesten, New York, [New York, U.S.A.]
From: Hamilton, Ontario, [Canada]
My Dear Brother,
Your letter was received yesterday, and the contracts carefully considered. As yet I have not handed the accompanying one for Mrs. McQ. to her. When I do so you may depend upon there will be a high old row. My idea is that it will do very well. I cannot see that it will need any "amendments."
The reason for delaying is that next week I go up for these plaguey examinations. Now it is not in the power of mortals--not even in her own power beforehand I believe--to say what the effect will be of her reading such a conciliatory love letter. It would be foolish just for the sake of a few days--to raise a row that would perhaps prevent my keeping at my books for the next seven days, possibly prevent my leaving home for four days, the time my exams will take, considering Sunday coming between them. As soon as I return I will feel unfettered and can drive ahead.
O.L.1 (to use your sobriquet) went to Wellington Square today; so father and I had a talk this afternoon. As to Clarence, he (father) is quite of your mind, says the child shall not commence going to school here, that neither he (Clarence) or any of them shall get a footing in this house.2 Of that he speaks quite determinedly--so much so that I am not at all alarmed on that score. Says if one of the two things had to be done, he would rather pay his board than have him live in the house.
A letter came for Mrs. McQ. from Dr. Ormiston this afternoon. So I presume you have paid the visit you referred to in your letter. I am truly glad to hear--at least such I infer from what you wrote--that he has given no leaning to her side, and if he takes father's part in this matter, it will make me eternally his debtor. Dr. O. knows that I have tried to prevent this break; and that I asked him if he could suggest any course by way it might be obviated, and that he could tell me of now. As far as we are concerned he has acted to the extent of my knowledge as a sincere friend and counselor.
Calvin, what the upshot of all this will be, I scarcely dare think. Til this last row I never knew her worst side. I had always judged her far far better than I can now. It had seemed to me more a defect of prudence and farsightedness, as well as an inability to judge dispassionately of the motives of others, on her part. But I never dreamt that underneath it all dwelt such a terrible fury. However, it has the more resolved me to "effect a deliverance" as the synod would say. If that can be done without scandal, all the better. If not why the worst must come to the worst. Father said today that she has commenced threatening to disgrace him and the whole family unless he gives her all the money she wants. Well we will see what the next few weeks will bring forth.
I've succeeded at last in bottling cider. What I did last fall is equal to any champagne in the row it kicks up. Now that I have been fortunate, I can take all the precautions another year. I have used no liquor of any kind since the middle of last October. And I must say my troublesome nose is not at all so red; though it will evince no small amount of bashfulness occasionally. If you see Dr. O. [Rev. Dr. Ormison] tell him I intend writing him soon; that we hope to see him when here in April; and that father wishes me to write him saying he looks forward to his making his home with us then, as any time when he may be here. If you can write me a note that will arrive before the 23rd, I would be glad to hear from you.
Your seal is not yet done. The chain is. It is not as heavy as intended, or as I thought it would be. But I like it. It is full 18c gold. You talked of jewelry being more lasting if a little baser. But there is more pleasure in having a thing of that kind rich than tawdry.
Yours as ever
[Isaac Baldwin McQuesten]
1 O.L. meaning "Old Lady" is the sobriquet the brothers have used for their step-mother, Dr. Calvin's third wife, Elizabeth Fuller McQuesten. She was demanding and ill-tempered, and would try to get what she wanted by making threats. See W-MCP5-6.351 for more on her rocky relationships with her husband and stepsons.
2 Isaac is likely referring to the McKeand family, relatives of Mrs. McQuesten whom she has brought into the house to stay with her. She had attempted to coerce her husband to build a house for them in Hamilton but he refused (W2348, W2368).