W6472 TO REV. CALVIN MCQUESTEN from his sister, Ruby
Jul 3 1909
To: Rev. Calvin McQuesten Glenhurst, Saskatchewan
From: Whitehern, Hamilton, Ontario
Having extorted a fine soft pencil from Tom, I'll leave the ink for you. I've been going to write to you for ages, but I've gotten into a bad habit of not writing lately, only sending wireless.1 If you were a properly spiritual being and not so earthly you'd be satisfied with that kind of thing but I'm afraid you're a regular Esau and will have to be fed with my choice tid-bits of letters. Lately to be sure you'd be a somewhat emaciated Esau and feeling somewhat like the prodigal son, but then that roundup of babies ought to be more than sufficient joy for any one bachelor. The only thing is, can you stand the overwhelmingness of the thing--the joy I mean. I should think it might be the opposite of Ulysses feeling, but equally intense, when he shrank back in horror saying, "how can I suffer Hades having not first suffered death."
But really, we've been very interested in your letters and I like my birthday letter very much.
Somehow your kind of work seems the genuine thing. Do you know it really seems to me more inspiring, more really worth while--the opportunity to come in genuine touch with a limited number of interested earnest people with few opportunities and distractions, than to preach to the crowded city church. It's very inspiring in some respects to the great mass of people perhaps. But in some respects, so many city people hear so much and are so thoughtless and busy all the time that sermons seem wasted on them. I used to think in Calgary, there was Knox Church crowded every Sunday with many people who had never spoken to Mr. Clarke, though they had gone for years. A minister must feel this to be unsatisfactory--he can't help it but it would with me take away from the inspiring effect of the multitude. Perhaps it is because I'm a teacher but I like to really influence a few or have a try at it--they have many whom you have no chance at. And of course I know some people say country congregations are stolid and hard to move but personally I always found the country girls far more intelligent and satisfactory to teach than the thoughtless superficially bright city girls.
I don't know whether this comes in here specially but it reminds me of the little bit of Carlyle I once read-- in Heroes & Hero-worshippers--I have to spout my learning you know--he is speaking of worship--the Arabs fall down and openly worship the sun, and moon, the stars, the spirits of the rushing rivers and of the trees. We don't do this,--why?--is it because of our 'superior insight'?--no, it is because of our 'superior levity.' We use electricity, harness it, give it a name and cease to reverence it, though we know nothing more really about its actual source than did our heathen forefathers. And as for little me, I have the feeling that this 'superior levity' is more prominent in the cities.
Did you know the Robinsons, Marion & Helen, are probably now in the 'briny deeps.' They suddenly decided to go this year as next year civil servants will be able to get only three weeks holidays. Chris is to go over with his chief too this summer. So altogether they're quite sporty. Marion said she had a very nice letter from you.
Well, I think the prodigal will have had enough by this time. Do you remember dear little fat Dandy when he was a tiny puppy and had just swallowed all the milk he could get and would go waddling around the room. I wasn't really thinking of you, I was just thinking that some things have a satisfactory way of showing when they've had enough. With much love, my dear boy.
Your affec'ate sister,
1 Ruby's writing habits appear to change after her return home from Calgary in late March. She is now writing in pencil likely because she is in bed or reclining and ink would be a hazard. Also, she may be finding that letter writing is exhausting. With the exception of this letter most of her letters are very brief until she goes to Muskoka to another sanatorium.
For more information on Ruby and her treatment for Consumption (Tuberculosis), see W6135, and see her biographical sketch by clicking on "Family" on the Home Page and then clicking on her picture.