W5508 TO THE MCQUESTEN CHILDREN from their sister Ruby McQuesten
Jun 20 1906 Friday afternoon,
To: The McQuesten Children at Whitehern Whitehern, Hamilton, Ontario
From: Ottawa Ladies' College
My dear children,
I hope you're living in peace and friendship and not needing Watts' lines about dogs delight etc.1 We've been living the fighting life lately, it seems to me. I feel like Van Sykes' dog "Pichou" with the black eye who loved peace but his life was spent in warfare.2
However, we've won various things that the girls are not to have an open dance on the last Wed., to which Dr. Armstrong had given his consent,--I suppose because he likes to please the girls and of course anything they'd ask would be all right. Well, the other teachers thought it was no use doing anything since Dr. A.'s consent had been given & he was away. However, it seemed that if I let it go without a word I would be to blame, so I talked with the teachers & Miss Curry, yet they all agreed except Miss Middleton & Miss Airth that it shouldn't be done here. So in teachers' meeting I spoke out very decidedly & Gallaher and Boyd chipped in & we're a fierce trio & Miss Airth said nothing & Miss Needham was so convinced of the right of our argument that she decided that no matter what Dr. A. said she would tell the girls the matter had been thought over & it would be impossible for them to have their dance.3
Then number Two: Her ladyship when she was annoyed at something blurted out and the matter had not been mentioned: "Anyway I'm not going to have anything to do with those Torrey-Alexander meetings, I don't believe in them & I'm not going to have the girls going to them etc., etc.4 Well I was just so angry I think I frightened her when I said, "Mrs. Needham you'll be taking a terrible responsibility if you keep these girls from going. I would be afraid to take it etc., etc." Then the next morning it was loudly announced by her ladyship that "the two noted Evangelists T & A were coming to the city, they had done a great work etc., etc., and if a girl had permission from home she should certainly have the opportunity of going." It nearly took my breath away. But we realize that she is afraid of us when we're dead in earnest over something & so after the fight is over you'd think she had always been on our side. And so Gallaher, Boyd and I are the fighting trio. The others help us more or less but they are not all duty teachers & they don't have so many questions to deal with. But there must be a good reason for it all and so I fight on now quite naturally & my nose will be up for good I'm afraid.
However, the girls understand us now though they see right through Mrs. Needham & so long as we deal with them ourselves there is no misunderstanding. But it will all come right some day. As to those meetings of Torrey & Alexander, really Tousie [Hilda] I think they're perfectly fine. I just thoroughly enjoy them. Really, I'd go every night. I can't understand all the unfavorable criticism of Dr. Torrey. It seems to me it is the message first decidedly--he has the Scripture at his fingers' end and he speaks very plainly & strongly and fluently. But he is most dignified & reverent in his delivery, nothing to shock ascetic tastes though he denounces evil in a way most refreshing & wholesome. Ottawa needs something like that so badly and the people have weakened so. People like Mrs. Needham have condescended to countenance these meetings as because Lord Grey 5 gave a garden party the first Sat. afternoon to Dr. Torrey & Mr. Alexander & then Lord & Lady Grey attended the first meetings. The meetings are in Grey's rink, the largest place here, a great round building & the place is fuller every night & yet you can hear Dr. Torrey so distinctly. The girls I have taken so far have been so interested & in some cases really touched by the meetings that I'm trying to take them as often as I can.
Well Cal dear, I've been cramming Madeline Sauvalle for her Matric. She is trying her Latin now & I'm anxiously waiting to see her paper.
Thank you very much for sending the book so promptly.
Well, Mikey Boo [Edna]--What are you up too. I guess your family wish they'd left you here when they find out all your sins. I guess you're afraid to write to me and tell me all your wickedness. Never mind I'll be seein' you soon & it will all come out.
And Mary dear, and how goes life? Has Hilda Belle been proud & 'aughty or have you both been too busy to enjoy any tiffs. I have a feeling that you're both far too thin & tired from working too hard. But summer is coming and you'll have a good rest, I trust.
Well children, dear, I think my time & news is up. I can't write to my dear little Mither for I don't know where she is but give her a good hug for me when she arrives home. You'll have to nearly squeeze her to death.
I had a bright letter from Cal the other day. To-morrow I hope to do a little letter writing.
With much love to each and all,
Your loving sister,
1 Ruby's reference is to a poem by Isaac Watts:
ON QUARRELING AND FIGHTING
by Isaac Watts
Let dogs delight to bark and bite,
For God hath made them so:
Let bears and lions growl and fight,
For 'tis their nature, too.
But, children, you should never let
Such angry passions rise:
Your little hands were never made
To tear each other's eyes.
Let love through all your actions run,
And all your words be mild:
Live like the blessed Virgin's Son,
That sweet and lovely child.
His soul was gentle as a lamb;
And as his stature grew,
He grew in favor both with man,
And God his Father too.
Now, Lord of all, he reigns above;
And from his heavenly throne
He sees what children dwell in love,
And marks them for his own.
2 This reference is to Henry Van Dyke's short story: "A Friend of Justice." (American writer and Poet, 1852-1933)
3 Presbyterians at this time did not allow dancing. See the account of Dr. Wilkie's charge against a missionary, Miss Sinclair, who was accused of dancing, W5172, W7678.
4 Torrey-Alexander were a team of evangelists who were preaching American Fundamentalist Theology. Reuben Archer Torrey (1856-1928) was the preacher, and Charles M. Alexander was the song-leader. They travelled internationally to Europe and Asia and also held revival meetings in Canada.
5 Lord Grey was Governor-General of Canada from 1904 to 1911: "Earl Grey was a very active Governor General. He was in constant contact with the Prime Minister, offering ideas for social reform. He sought greater political inclusion for all, and worked to reach as many ordinary Canadians as possible. In fact, he was so dedicated and involved that then prime minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier said Lord Grey gave "his whole heart, his whole soul, and his whole life to Canada." (http://www.craigmarlatt.com/canada/government/grey.html)