W3328 TO REV. THOMAS BAKER FROM HIS SISTER SARAH PIKE
Oct 14 1879
To: Rev. Thomas Baker Brantford Township Brantford, Ontario
From: 35 Oxford Road Essex Road, Islington London, England
My beloved brother:
I trust this will find you and your family tolerably well; dear Mrs. Baker I fear is not quite well. The weather has been very cool this summer so that I have hoped you would not suffer from so much weakness as you generally do.
I have been wishing to write you for a long time but writing is to me quite a task, but I want to tell you what perhaps you have heard before you get it from me. I have had the pleasure of a visit from your grand daughter; 1 she is a dear girl, I am much pleased with her. She came on a Wednesday and was obliged to return on the following Saturday. I should have been glad for her to have staid [sic] longer, but her grandmamma is so afflicted and helpless that she could not be spared longer. Her aunt and uncle having gone to Brighton to live if they had not removed she could have had a longer holiday.
She arrived in London on a Wednesday about 2 o'clock. I was quite unable to go to meet her so I sent the person who attends to my concerns (Mrs. Wilson) to meet her. I was very pleased to meet her, but the sight so overcame me that could not refrain from weeping; the remembrance of that never-to-be-forgotten day when you and your dear family left England came so vividly before me that I was quite overcome. She came to Charing Cross station, and as that part contains large noble buildings, Nelson's monument, etc. she had the opportunity of seeing it before she reached my abode.
After tea she expressed a wish to go out and see the shops. We went together; she wished to purchase some little things. She said she was well-cared for; I enquired if she had a settled allowance of money; she said no, but when she wanted things she told them, and when her grandfer [sic] could spare a sovereign or two he gave them to her to buy what she wanted. He gave her two sovereigns to come to London with and to go to Madame Tussaud's Exhibition of Wax Works and also to the Zoological Gardens, but requested her not to allow me to pay for her.
On Thursday we went into the City to Cheapside; went to Guildhall, saw Gog and Magog and also the Museum Loft, ancient China dinner services and other things belonging to the Corporation. After leaving Guildhall we went to St. Paul's. After visiting the monuments it was time for the service. She was much pleased with the music and singing. I was so tired that I went to sleep and had a nice nap which refreshed me greatly. When we came out we went to a respectable coffee house not far from the Embankment. We next went to see Cleopatra's Needle; she was much interested with the sight of it and the river with the crowded steamers passing to and fro. After sitting there some time we got into a Bus and came home quite tired. I was glad to go to bed.
Next day, Friday, we went to the Zoological Gardens. As we had to go through Regent's Park we saw Shakespeare's tree. It is said that he used to sit under it and write his plays. We saw the Prince of Wales' tigers and lions which he brought home from India; they are very fine specimens. I think the male tiger is beautiful, the finest I ever saw. The Prince's animals have an apartment to themselves. Mrs. Wilson and Maud walked about, but I was glad to sit and look at the Tigers. Maud was very pleased with the Parrots and Monkeys but the latter are so impudent that ladies cannot stay long to look at them. We saw the elephants bathe; they had rare gambols in the water. I think they earn their own living by carrying people round the gardens. There were nine of them; they did not all go into the water. That evening, one of them, a very large one, walked up out of the water before his keeper told him to do so, but he had only to speak and show him a whip and he returned immediately as obedient and as a child.
We had not had tea but we had had cakes which we took with us for we had not time to stay for tea, but just as we were leaving a returned cab drove up. We engaged him to take us to Miss Pike's, Covent Garden. We partook of refreshment at her house and then went to look at the Market. Maud was very pleased with it; there was such a display of Flowers and Fruits. It is a pretty sight. She said she would tell her granfer about it for he would be so pleased that she had seen it as he knew something about that market.
Next day, Saturday, her last day, I had invited Mrs. Gorham to come during her visit, little thinking it would be so short, so I wrote stating how I was situated, and asked her to come and take a cold dinner with us and then go to Madame Tussaud's, so a little before 12 o'clock she came. I had some English Gamon of Bacon, Cucumber Marmalade tart and bread and cheese. We enjoyed it. Mrs. Gorham declined going to Madame Tussaud's she said it being Saturday she would be wanted at home so we had to go without her which we regretted but could not avoid. We got an [sic] bus very near our house and we soon got to Baker street. The lower part of the building is a bazaar for very hand-some fancy articles. We were much gratified with the sight for it was worth looking at. We then went upstairs to the Wax Works. Maude was astonished; she said this surpasses all that I have seen before, their lifelike size and rich dresses quite enchanted her. Mrs. Wilson went round with her and pointed out note-worthy characters. I was compelled to sit and quiet and rest. Uncle Tom is there; Mrs. Wilson could scarcely believe he was not alive. I was much pleased with a representation of Prince Albert, apparently holding conversation with his daughter Alice. He is seated with his arm on a table which his military cap is placed. He is dressed in full uniform. she is standing, apparently much interested in what he is telling her. She is dressed in cerise satin trimmed with white lace and an immense train. We staid [sic] there at Tussaud's too long, for Maud nearly lost her Train. When we came out we could not get any conveyance to take her to the station, Charing Cross, it being Saturday about six o'clock; business was over and the shops shut up. They each took hold of an arm and pulled me along as well as they could. At last I said I cannot go any further. Being all private residences I could not get in anywhere. At last we saw a poor man selling newspapers; we asked him to lend us his chair; I sat down on it and they ran to the station and were but just in time to save the Train; she was the last person they took in. I had some cakes which I gave her and she said she would get some ginger beer for we did not have time to get any refreshment. I was very anxious about her going thus for her journey cost 10/ and she had a return ticket which would have been useless if she had not gone that day.
When Mrs. Wilson had seen her safely off she came back for me and we found a coffeehouse in a back street and got our tea; how I wished I could have [?] some (food) [for Maud] for she would not get home till 10 o'clock.
I had a nice note from her on the following Tuesday; she got home allright. I did all I could to make her visit an agreeable one to herself. She said she had much enjoyed it far beyond her expectations.
I wished to give her something in remembrance of her visit to poor old Aunt Sally, and as I could not afford to lay out money to buy something worth her having, I resolved on presenting her with my Cornelian eardrops and Broach. I think you will remember them; I had them before you left England. She was pleased with them, but her ears had not been pierced. I took her to one of my former neighbours to get it done. Mrs. Gorham said it was a very handsome present for her. I also gave her a Book you gave me many years ago, "A Companion to the Bible." She said it was a book she had long wanted. Poor girl, she wants suitable society; I sympathise with her. She regrets that there is not any chapel excepting a Wesleyan and the old gentleman disapproved of her going there. She says the Church people seemed so stiff and stately that she cannot make friends among them. I am much pleased with her and hope she will be able to come again.
My Dear Brother, I have been very explicit but I thought I should like you to know all I could tell you about her visit, and now I shall endeavour to thank you for your nice letter of September 13th. I am sorry to learn that Mrs. Baker is still suffering with her old complaint. I thank you for what you copied from your Devotional Book about being God's child; it is beautiful. It comforted and delighted me very much I cannot realize that I am God's Child; I want to have clearer evidences and be able to read my Title clearly. Like yourself I am deaf that it is so few crumbs that I can pick up at the House of God and my old Christian friends are nearly all gone, I seem left alone. I have lost 3 this year. Our old Miss Vallance departed in August. I drank tea with her only a few days before her death. She seemed lively, and ran up and down stairs like a young girl. She rallied me for being so feeble and being such an old woman when I was 5 years younger that she. Her death caused by accident. She had got some ammonia to clean her black silk dress with, for she was preparing to go to the seaside, and by mistake took it instead of some medicine she used to take for Indigestion. She lingered only 3 days. She told me on the day I took tea with her that she would run a race with me; she was sure she should win for I was only a bag of bones now; said I used to have such a Bacon back--what had become of it. I little thought she would go before me, I miss her very much. Mrs. Gorham is a great comfort to me. She is visiting in Buckinghamshire, I shall be glad when she returns.
My dear Brother I am so sorry that you are suffering from toothache; it is a dreadful wearing-out pain, I have suffered much from it, but my teeth are all broken off now close to the gums and I get ease now I have lost their use. I think you could have something to destroy the nerves and not have them extracted; it would be too painful an operation at your advanced age.
I am glad you have had such favourable news from John. I should like to see him mounted on his charger. I think he is a noble looking fellow
The enclosed papers Mrs. Gorham cut out of the newspapers and folded them herself begging me to send them to you. She wishes your opinion on Newman Halls intended marriage. I think it must be wrong for him to marry.
Now for a little more about myself. My health has improved since I have lived in Islington. I eat pretty well, sleep very well, am not in any pain excepting great weakness and feebleness. I am taking an iron and quinine tonic to try if it will strengthen me. I frequently fall down, twice lately in the street but I was not hurt either time God takes such care of me--blessed be His Name.
After I got your last letter I got one from Maude; I am pleased with it. Her aunt had visited them and taken her to Ramsgate and also to a circus. She seems very pleased with Ramsgate. She talked about your daughter's dear little children;2 they are lovely little dears. She had a letter from Canada--all well and Granfer Baker too. Mrs. Gorham and I have laughed about her calling you granfer.
I hope you and Mrs. Baker saw the princess and her husband. I think it must have been a grand night. I regret that you would not go to the Presentation. I am thankful that you are so comfortable with your Daughter, Husband, and family. Please to them give my very kind love to them all and kiss the dear children for me; tell little Mary, (or rather Miss McQuesten) that I was so pleased with her writing to me, and I hope she will soon be able to write me a long letter.
I am sure it will try your patience to read all this, still I think it will interest you.
With kindest love to yourself, dear Mrs B. and all your dear family; may the Lord bless you all abundantly is the earnest daily prayer of your affectionate sister
P.S. This was begun more than a month ago. October 15th 79 Thanks to you for the newspapers. I get them regularly. I send you one every month. Thanks for the picture of your hall stove. Adieu.3
1 Maud (or Maude) Baker is Rev. Thomas Baker's granddaughter by his son James Alfred. James Alfred died in 1876 leaving his seven children in the care of his second wife Maria Mudge, who was not their mother. Rev. Baker heard rumours about Maria's immoral behaviour and set about placing his grandchildren elsewhere. Thus, Maude ended up in England with her maternal grandmother, Puckeridge and her husband Mr. Fussell. For more on the Baker grandchildren, see W3155, W2960 and others.
2 Mary Baker McQuesten had 4 children by 1879: Mary, Calvin, Hilda, Ruby. Three children were born after 1879. Muriel b. 1880 d.1882; Thomas b. 1882; Margaret Edna b. 1885. See Family Tree.
3 Date in Calendar is October 14, which we have used here.