W2398 TO DR. CALVIN BROOKS MCQUESTEN from his brother Isaac Baldwin McQuesten
May 23 1873
To: Dr. Calvin Brooks McQuesten, New York
From: Hamilton, Ontario
My dear brother,
There's no use of your talking of not coming on next month. When I last wrote you I thought, considering it would a very quiet affair at best, it would be too much to press you to take all the bother of a journey from New York here with no great inducement to offer. But after all, a fellow don't [sic] get married very often in a lifetime; and when he has only two near relatives in the world, it is too bad not to have them present. Moreover my fair one says you must be there. Whether you gave her to understand so last fall I don't recollect; but she says it will a great disappointment to her not to see you. Besides, bear in mind that you will thus be enabled to array your sylph-like form in gaudy apparel for the summer instead of having to wait for the fall, when you can re-array yourself, since the garden would mourn if you did not take away a little of its burden then. So write, like a good fellow, and promise me that you will come on the show of the 18th;1 and a few days before if you can for there are a good many things I would like to talk with you about.
As to what is going on at home, I'll let that wait till we meet. To go through all the different places would take a long time & wear your patience, and perhaps not very satisfactorily lay the matter before you then. Suffice it to say that I wouldn't be surprised to find that Mrs. McQ. became perfectly insane any day. I have urged father to sleep in a separate room & I think he will.2 He told me honestly the reason he did not want you to live in the same house with her, and he said the same thing applied to my being in the house with her: that it would perfectly ruin you to be brought daily in contact with such a woman; that she has injured us both enough without her doing any more. Now she is at him to make his will to suit her--a thing she has not hitherto broached--& to have the house and half the estate bequeathed to her. She is in a fair way to be cut off with a shilling, or what she can claim as dower. She didn't go to the Commission on Sunday & said she wouldn't if this matter was settled to her satisfaction. It is likely that father will spend the nights, and as much of the time as he can, where I live. After that she broke out worse than ever before, perhaps for the present you had better keep this entirely to yourself--not mentioning it even to Dr. O. [Rev. Dr. Ormiston]. So you see aside from a mere trip for pleasure, there are other reasons you had better put in an appearance.3 It is not a week since all this commenced; and the conclusion of it nobody knows.
I'll write you at the beginning of the month & send on your funds. Can you drop me a note between this and then? Must write the Dr. again in a few days. He is not quite sure that he can be here; but will make as much of an effort as he can. To have neither of you here would be too bad; to have him and not you would be disreputable.
There are quite a number of those champagne bottles I want you to go through, for I have determined a little time back on abstinence till I am forty years of age. I felt that there was too much risk in continuing to use liquor & felt so much better without, that I just voluntarily gave father a pledge at that time.4
As ever your brother
I.B. McQuesten [Isaac Baldwin McQuesten]
1 Isaac means his wedding to Mary Baker, which took place on June 18, 1873. Dr. Calvin Brooks did not attend the wedding in spite of Isaac and Mary's repeated invitations, see W2408.
2 Dr. Calvin McQuesten's third wife, Elizabeth Fuller McQuesten, could be very nasty and demanding and sometimes threatened to disgrace the family if her husband did not give her what she wanted. Her sister, Mrs. Currier, had been institutionalized around 1857 (W1216) and there have been allusions to the possibility that Elizabeth herself may be suffering from mental illness (W2436). For more details on Elizabeth's relationships with her husband and stepsons see W-MCP5-6.351.
3 Isaac had been trying to persuade his brother to move to Hamilton and live with their father, see W2328.
4 Isaac had some difficulties with alcohol which may have contributed to his early death at the age of 40. See W2520.