W2383 TO DR. CALVIN BROOKS MCQUESTEN from his half-brother, Isaac
Apr 16 1873
To: New York City
From: Hamilton, Ontario
PROUDFOOT, JONES & MCQUESTEN
Solicitors in Chancery &c.
OFFICE No. 11 Main Street East
William Proudfoot, Q.C., John W. Jones
I.B. McQuesten, M.A.
My dear Brother,
Confound that fat belly of yours! If I had you here I'd roll you around for a while till I had you in a meditative frame of mind. Well, the fact is, Calvin, I wanted counsel and advice, and hoped you would think over the matter and write me somewhat of a long letter. This piece of business of ours is a difficult one to manage, and I am a good deal at sea about it. Now, Calvin, even if it is unpalatable to you to write, I want you to carefully weigh matters & write me the result of your deliberations. I'll take what was in your letters & because I oppose it I hope you'll not think me persnickety and fault-finding, but we must look at facts & reason, & not at mere chimaeras.
What you say about father's occupying a separate room, I quite agree with you in, & have urged him to do so; but he will only reiterate in return: "if she does me any harm she will most likely be found out"; and that is the only way he will look at it. So I can do no more there.
Then as to another question: that about appointing trustees for the estate. It is a difficult and delicate thing to touch. Of course it would have to be a purely free act on father's part. There is no course that in a matter of choice I should prefer. There are two objectives.
First: at a small calculation between one & two percent would be eaten up by these trustees. I have had more insight into estates than into any other department of law; and heaven help it when a Solicitor puts down his charge for every step taken and every cheque signed.
Secondly: To propose it to father would be insulting to him. It would virtually be saying: "you are not of an over-firm mind. Influences may be brought to bear upon you. You had better render yourself incapable of being affected by these influences." I have a feeling that it would be throwing a contempt upon a man that does not deserve it, and that has been very kind to both of us. Mind you, my only fear is in case of his sudden illness, and when in a comparatively helpless state--perhaps not knowing what he is doing--being led to sign documents documents [sic] that could in all probability be set aside, but fancy a whole family history of quarreling & strife coming out in open Court, as it would of necessity have to. For my part I could not propose to father to do it, and I doubt if you would be willing to yourself. So much for that.
Now for the other one: as to Mrs. McQ.'s walking. With the one exception of her drumming father to build McKeand a house,1 she has treated him a great deal better of late. So much so that unless she gets on her old tack, we would scarcely be justified in trying to get father's consent to a separation. And to tell the truth, Calvin, I somewhat dread such a move, the more I think of it. As Dr. Ormiston said, "if it is done, you've got to bear the brunt of it as far as public opinion is concerned." I don't care a row of pins for public opinion, except where it is perfectly right in its censure, and then any man ought to respect it. This separation between man & wife is getting fearfully common; and only ought to be resorted to from necessity. As matters stood last Fall, I felt it was not only justifiable, but the only course open to pursue. Now things have modified a good deal. And if father, after reflection, then could not make up his mind to consent to separation, is it at all likely that he will now. As I wrote you when the subject was first broached to him he strongly favoured it, only saying that the opposition would be on her side. But after considering, bad as matters were then, he could not bear to make up his mind to it.
There is something else. Perhaps by plotting we could cause a rupture between them. But this is a serious matter; and dare we justify ourselves in pursuing such a course? Hitherto I am convinced we have been thoroughly in the right. The aggravation has come from her side. I don't think you would nor would I, do a serious, deliberate act that might embitter our after-lives. There is no Christian reason why we should to any great extent consult her happiness, because she will consult the happiness of no man or animal except herself and even that in a very short-sighted way. With such a creature as that the only course is destroy or remove out of the way. But I doubt if we have a right to poke sticks in through the bars at a wild animal in order to make it savage.
The truth is I can only find fault with some of your plans. I cannot do what a person ought to be able to when he so finds fault: suggest something feasable [sic] in its place.
I suppose I am in the first place to blame, since one of us ought to live with father, I ought not to have so placed myself as to have to marry. However that is too late to be mended.2
I hope when you come home and come to talk with father that he will look at it in the light that he should, and urge you to stay at home. I know that the very first ill turn he has that will be the first thing he will want. Indeed not five weeks ago when he had the attack of influenza, he said "if I do not get better soon, you must write Calvin to come home." But on top of that, when he got better, he appeared afraid of the trouble it would create.
Now I've exhausted myself, give me a piece of your mind. The Dr. [Ormiston] has not written me when he is coming over in June.3 Has he told you yet? Come over, as long before the time as you can, so that we can have some time together. For pity's sake write a fellow, & believe me,
1 The McKeands (W4535) were likely relatives of Mrs. Elizabeth (Fuller) McQuesten, Dr. Calvin McQuesten's third wife. She had tried to pressure her husband to "buy a lot and build a house for them [McKeands] in Hamilton so that she could get them back near her" but he refused, (W2348, W2368, W2372). Nellie McKeand came to stay with Mrs. Elizabeth (Fuller) McQuesten when she and Isaac were in conflict over Dr. McQuesten's estate. Mrs. McKeand and Archie and Clarence were living at Wellington Square in Hamilton in April 1873 (W2354, W4323). It is likely that they returned to the United States when Elizabeth (Fuller) McQuesten retired there after Dr. McQuesten's death in 1885. For more on Dr. Calvin and Elizabeth Fuller McQuesten, see W-MCP5-6.351. See also Dr. McQuesten's Deed of Trust, W0234 to W0252.
2 This refers to Isaac's forthcoming marriage to Mary-Jane Baker (thereafter known as Mary Baker McQuesten) on June 18, 1873. Neither "The Dr." (Dr. Ormiston) nor Isaac's brother Calvin Brooks attended the wedding, see W1380. Perhaps Dr. Calvin's reason for not coming to the wedding, at least in part, is because of Isaac's suggestion in this letter that he should come home to live, and that his father would want him to do so.
3 Neither Calvin nor Dr. Ormiston attended Isaac and Mary's wedding. It is possible that Dr. Ormiston wished to distance himself from Isaac and the legal machinations involving Isaac's step-mother, Elizabeth Fuller McQuesten. For more on Elizabeth Fuller, see W-MCP5-6.351.
For Ormiston and letters dealing with Eliz. Fuller or Isaac's wedding plans from 1869 to 1874, see, W2383, W2306, W2308, W2311, W2321, W2325, W2333, W2344, W2354, W2364, W2389, W2408, W2398, W2401, W2405, W2408, W2428, W2451, W1410.
For other Ormiston letters, see: W-MCP5-6.300, W-MCP5-6.243, W-MCP5-6.365, W-MCP5-6.278, W-MCP5-6.279, W-MCP5-6.264, W-MCP5-6.306, W-MCP5-6.362, W-MCP5-6.364, W2711, W4292, W2304, W1559, W2483, W8422, W8730a.