W3771 TO REV. THOMAS BAKER from Catherine McIlwaine
Feb 1 1883
To: Rev. Thomas Baker. 3 Bold Street, Hamilton, Ontario.
From: Portrush, Ireland
My dear brother-
At the time I wrote to you last my mind was much disturbed so that I did not answer your kind satisfactory letter as I should have done, but I then intended if I did not say so that I would write you more fully soon again and I now take this guiet time of the year to commit a few thoughts to paper concerning my dearly loved Sister whose loss I never cease to mourn.
Some little thing is always turning up, to bring her fresh before my minds eye and I feel so sad that I have not that dear person to exprefs [sic] my feelings to when I feel troubled sometimes under my deep affliction friends have avoided the subject of my grief, thinking that they wd. [would] best cheer me by turning my mind to something else; but they little understood my feelings for nothing on earth could give me comfort or soothe my grief like the sympathy of those who could enter into it, and speak and talk to me of the loved ones departed! You have indeed been tried with a deep affliction in the loss of one so lovely in person, & yet so amiable and sensible in her disposition. I have reason to know her well as we were next each other in age she being two years my senior in lessons & plays we were always togther but oh how different our tempers how sweet & gentle she was- besides me, she grew up the favourite of all her brothers and sister and my poor Father's idol, but from reverse of circumstances and a continual worry from Mrs. Ewing for some of us to go to Canada Dear dear Mary got leave from my father to go on a visist with the promise of returning if not [likeing?] you are aware of the disappointment she met with, in the home she was invited to- and about to return when you interposed and I have a distinct recollection of the words she used in writing to me afterwards- she said "I could not describe my feelings of happiness & my gratitude to God, when I found myself Mistress of such a comfortable, happy home!" and never had she came to regret that union, which under the painful circumstance of separation from her was a source of deep & lasting comfort to my dear Father & all my brother and sisters.
I had no idea that she would be so suddenly removed from us, though her system must have been worn completely down, from the effects of long continued disease before she got the blood poisoning even- she has written to me what she came through with her [sick?] and so much blistering & Doctoring and no permanent relief- that if she had not had an excellent constitution she never would have stood it so long- and also the best of nursing and attendance, everything of the Doct, & nurse, & [?] that could be done for her.
When it was the will of our Father in Heaven to affect [sic] our dear with and so severe and cause His dear child to pass through the deep waters we should rejoice that it pleased him to remove her so gently at the last- and give her such an easy passage through the dark valley, in to the abodes of Eternal rest and joy! Where the inhabitants shall no more say they are sick- Nor can sorrow.
Dear Mr. Baker if I should attempt to comfort you it would be a vain thing- you have exprefsed [sic] yourself so well in the most satifactory manner (in perfect words) regarding your submission to the Divine Will while you feel the most poignant grief of soul- You know He doth not expect Willingly" He for our profit that we might be partakers of the holynefs [sic]- I will not cease to mention you in my humble petitions to a Throne of Grace and indeed when I am alone and sorrowing you are much on my mind. I don't know whether this is suitable to our dear departed one or not.
2nd- I thank you most sincerely for all the minute details of her last days & moments- of her looks after death, and of the beautiful spot where her precious dust lies, in hope of a joyful ressurection- This in keeping with all your other actions towards her getting the memorial stone so soon put over her grave.
I hope the letter reached you in safety with the desire & information &c &c. I do not call on you, nor do I expect an answer to this letter as I well know that it must grieve you exceedingly to write much about her. I remember a Couplet, composed by a Dublin Clergyman (long long ago) on this wife being removed suddenly
"We mourn her, but we praise her not,
To God, the praise be givem
Who sent her as a [??]
His Covenant of peace so show
Then accept her into Heaven"
I am glad to know that your health is pretty good, may it please God to continue that great blessing to you while He spares your life. As you observe the Kindnefs [sic] and attention of your dear daughter and her husband is a source of the greatest comfort to me when thinking about you and the prattle of the death little ones will tend to raise your thoughts at times over your own grief- I remember dear Mrs. [Gorham?] well when I was in Canada she was a great favourite of my dear Sisters & she would feel much in learning the sad news.
I have written to Mary about my dear brother's ilnefs [sic] and miraculous recovery, after the Doctor had given him up- It was a great relief to me- You read in the papers of the state of our unhappy Country to make it worse- at present some parts of it are suffering from almost famine- We might expect the Judgments of God to come upon it for the dreadful deeds of blood [?] in it. I must tell you something of the Holmes, as Mary was asking about them and it is a sad tale I have to tell you, "It seems that Elizabeth's Husband who was a head to the other girls and getting on very well and steady, some excellent situation he held in the Globe Office. He was an English mass and of respectable parentage about 5 years ago his father came from England to visit him. Well it appears Jon Fisher got Maleria Fever about two years ago and it seems that he never fully recovered the effects went to the brain when the cut softened and the Doctors ordered him a sea voyage to England as the only remedy for recovery. The Globe directors talked him so well that they got him his passage pd [paid] and money in hand- his father met him in Liverpool had a consultation of Doctors and they pronounced his case all but hopeless he was put into a first rate Assylum and was not [taken/ bother??]- this [?mere] outcome of what they have written to me of it- Frances has an excellent set in a telegraphing office &c. The youngest is a head teacher in a first rate school.
It seems- one of the two boys went to Manitoba, so you see how poor Thomas Holmes's children are scattered much. And how unfortunate he was going to Canada- is his [??] almost respectable in the County?
Hoping that the reception of this long tedious letter will not tire you and with deep sympathy,
Your affectionate Sister
1 Catherine uses the archaic 'fs' and the more modern 'ss' interchangeably in this letter.