W2328 TO DR. CALVIN BROOKS MCQUESTEN from his brother Isaac B. McQuesten
Feb 17 1873
To: Dr. Calvin Brooks McQuesten
From: Hamilton, Ontario
My dear Brother
I received on Saturday a characteristically short epistle from you. I fancy after writing it you got my note and draft, which were sent last Tuesday. If you have not received them telegraph me at once so that I can tell the Bank people at the earliest moment to stop payment. Otherwise they might object to being responsible. When I wrote you I had not talked with Mrs. McQ. Last Thursday evening I had a swell little confab with her. Upon thinking the matter over I did not hand her your note. I told you the game she was playing: to try and excite the commiserations of her friends. Now if she had from you or me any written document, she might, by putting her own construction on it to people, gain a little on her side, and do us some harm; consequently I thought it better not to let her get it in her possession: as I could not demand it back. I can still do so however if you think best. I informed Mrs. Mc. in the plainest possible terms that it depended entirely on the way she conducted herself for the next few months towards father, whether, when I left the house, you should or should not come in. She informed me she was quite aware that that had been my place, but she didn't think Calvin would stay in that house. I told her it was the extreme of folly to talk in that way; that it did not lie in her power to prevent your coming & staying at house if father wished it, and he would wish it unless she changed her tactics; that if you did come you would in all probability take almost entire control over the household affairs; that we both know exactly how far we could go; and her best and only course was so to conduct herself as not to necessitate it. She kept pretty cool this time. I think she felt all was not mere talk; that it would probably be carried out. If she can be sufficiently brought to her senses to remember the course unnecessary, I shall be glad.
Looking at it in any way you like, Calvin: for you or me to be there all the time is going to make that house perfect hell. If that must be done in order to afford father piece and quiet, why it will have to be done; that's all. But if it can be avoided better that it should be.1 There is another consideration; and that is on your own account. You would not now pass the examinations necessary to entitle you to practice in Canada; and you would be an unhappy man to give up your profession entirely; and have no special object to occupy your time. In a few years it might not be as serious an injury to give up business; but for your own pleasure that ought not to be done at present.2 However these are merely my own opinions; you know your own case better than I possibly can; and I don't pretend from my experience of myself to lay down any rule for your guidance. Let me hear anything that may suggest itself to you. Perhaps some ideas may come up, that would change the present course. Two heads are better than one, you know. I didn't get plucked at my exam, as you asked about it.3 If I had, you sinner, I would have wrung your neck for asking me about it in such plain language. Business has been pretty lively in the office most of the time since I came back.
My fair one wants to be remembered to you, and says that when the final show comes off, whoever else may or may not be there, you must be.4 Tho' [sic] when that is to be this deponent cannot precisely state [sic]. The fact is, Miss Mary took a great fancy to you; & I'm very glad of it for I wanted you to be the best of friends, & hope you always will be. Write soon, & believe me
Sincerely your brother
1 Elizabeth Fuller McQuesten, Dr. Calvin McQuesten's third wife, was often unpleasant, even nasty and demanding. Isaac, who was about to be married, was planning to move out but communicated with his brother about coming up to Hamilton to stay with their father and keep an eye on Elizabeth. This however, never occurred. See W-MCP5-6.351 for more details on Elizabeth and her relationships with her husband and stepsons.
2 Despite his concerns in this letter about his brother's career prospects in Hamilton, Isaac repeatedly writes about the possibility of him moving up from New York to live with their father. This did not happen, however, and Calvin Brooks did not even attend Isaac's wedding on June 18, 1873 (see W1380, W2348, W2354, W2372, W2398, W2408, W2410, W2416).
3 "Plucked" in this context means to fail an exam.
4 "[T]he final show" refers to the wedding of Isaac Baldwin McQuesten and Mary Jane Baker (who was thereafter known as Mary Baker McQuesten). Apparently, despite the invitations, Dr. Calvin Brooks did not attend his brother's wedding on June 18, 1873, see W2408.