W2372 TO DR. CALVIN BROOKS MCQUESTEN from his brother Isaac B. McQuesten
Apr 2 1873
To: Dr. Calvin Brooks McQuesten
From: Hamilton, Ontario
My dear Brother
Affairs have taken a different turn than I had supposed they would do, and this youth is slightly non-plussed. After writing you my opinion about father's probably preferring that you should come home; that opinion being based upon what his remarks had certainly always been for some time past: that if I was not in the house he wanted you to be there:--though generally when he made those remarks he had not been feeling in his usual health. I say after writing you, & rereading your letter to me, asking what would be the best course, I thought it would be safer to broach the question to father & find out his opinion in some measure.
Well, I did. And somewhat to my surprise father said that you mustn't come home at present; that it wouldn't do at present; that there would be a terrible state of affairs, &c.1 After the gist of his former remarks, this astonished me. The reason to my mind is perfectly clear. And it is the reason that gives me some cause of alarm. That reason plainly is that he is becoming afraid of Mrs. McQ. & dreads an out and out fight with her. If you were here we could talk more satisfactorily; & when you come over in June, we must consider it earnestly. However look it over, along with another fact that I will mention further on, & think what course we must both pursue. As you know, there was a time when there was a good deal of hostility between father & you. For a shorter time there was between him & me. As you also know that feeling as to you and myself has long ceased to exist; and for more than two years back his feelings towards you have been becoming more and more--it is not too strong a word to use--tender. When he finally disposed of his property; he reiterated to me the verbal trust, as to giving me the house, that I must do all in my power to make it a home for you as well as myself. That you would not probably marry, and that you ought to live with me. Also that, as I have before said, if I left the house you must come into it. Very well, Mrs. McQ. has found that out, and he probably fears what she may do if it is carried out. But it is more necessary that it should be so than I before imagined. And here is the other fact that I alluded to above. Mrs. McQ. has been dinging it into his ears of late (this father told me yesterday) that he must buy a lot and build a house for Lizzie & Archie. This he of course says positively and flatly he will not do. Nor will he make them any gift. Archie got his thousand pounds & lost it.2 Now I don't doubt but that, indeed I know that father is perfectly sincere in what he says. But you know how as a man becomes older & frailer he hates all the more, steadily and pertinaciously refusing a thing to & opposing persons constantly around him. Mrs. McQ. has got the children there to have them brought before his attention as much as possible. None of them are there now, nor have been for some weeks back. But I apprehend before long Clarence will make his appearance again. Father has a perfect right to do as he wishes. But you & I could equally hate to see any of that breed get any start. Father himself has dreaded what influence might be brought to bear upon him in case of sudden and severe illness if neither of us was there. And the question simply is, what are we to do. With Mrs. McQ.'s crowd around, with neither of us there to defend ourselves, our character will be constantly damned. I'm not afraid if they stick to the truth, of what they may say of you or me. But they will stick at nothing. Just the other evening I had gone to Rod & Nellie Hills to play a game of eucre [sic], & Mrs. Mc [sic] informed father, so he told me next day, that I was at old Bigelow's drinking wine & soaking with him, as I was frequently in the habit of doing. Of course he placed no weight on her statement & told her so. But let me deliberately set to work, & keep a man surrounded with my creatures, and I'll damn the character of any angel in heaven in tune with that man. Now, Calvin, we're in the same position. He may just reverse matter if he wishes: placing you where I am, I where you are, & I haven't the slightest objection in the world. Nay, he may give the bulk of his property for any public purposes, anything provided it is not to Mrs McQ. or her ilk & I care very little. But I don't want to see this latter done. I'm perfectly aware my feelings towards her are not the most christian [sic]. But be they what they may, she has by her bitter, unwomanly treatment of me driven me to them. And in this matter we are both right--perfectly right--in using all legitimate means to prevent her from accomplishing an object that she can only accomplish illegitimately. Had I supposed this could be the upshot, I should have delayed my marriage for some time, as the only alternative. Now, however, I cannot in honourable treatment to my fair one put it off to any extent. Nor would it be wise. If I didn't marry before long, I probably never would. And its [sic] enough for you to do that without both of us pursuing the same course. Some way I feel that we can arrange this matter. Give me your counsel upon it. I believe on its being properly laid before father that he will change his opinion. But both of us must bring to bear, not one of us alone. We have time enough to consider. Write me soon. I think perhaps a little after the middle of June my show3 will come off. Have a house that will do me, though rather small. Dr. O. [Ormiston] says he will come over. If you talk with him you had better give him the substance of this letter and not shew [sic] it. It had better be between us two.
Yours in hope
1 Isaac had written to his brother on several occasions implying, if not stating outright, that he ought to come up from New York to live with their father. See W2328.
2 The McKeands were apparently related to Elizabeth and were likely from the United States. Elizabeth herself was American. Although she often visited with them and had them over for dinner, Dr. McQuesten rarely spoke or dined with them as he did not appreciate their company; Elizabeth, however, paid her husband's discomfort no mind and insisted he bring them to Hamilton permanently (W2348, W2368). For more on Elizabeth Fuller McQuesten, see W-MCP5-6.351.
3 Isaac's wedding to Mary Jane Baker, which took place on June 18, 1873. Mary and Isaac were terribly disappointed that Calvin Brooks did not attend, see W1380, W2408.