W8756 TO REV. CALVIN MCQUESTEN from his mother, Mary Baker McQuesten
Mar 17 1914
To: Calvin McQuesten 'The Manse' Bracebridge Ontario
My dearest Calvin,
I received your two letters since I wrote you and note all you say. First of all I want to say that anyone who knows anything of nervous prostration would know that your health could only be restored by months of rest and they would feel that a small uncertain congregation could not stand it, but it was most unChristian and cruel to give no expression of appreciation of your services, of gratitude for all you had done, or of regret at losing you. I wonder you did not leave them on the spot, and I wish with all my heart you had realized your condition and resigned of your own free will before it came to that.
There is one side of this question which you do not seem to be looking at. After you had taken six months' rest, what sort of congregation would you come back to? How could your friends keep it going with no regular minister and a section of the church--and hitherto the most active-- against them? You would return, you would [?] have the attraction of being a new man, it would be a tremendous strain, because you would be on your mettle, to reorganize, and by the end of 5 or 6 mos. you would be a wreck, and your friends would be disappointed & sick of it. You have no right to take any such period of rest from a people with whom you have been such a [?].
Now I want you to look back. You have not been a minister for two years till April. In your first year you took your month's holiday, you exchanged pulpits and through illness you were absent ten weeks. In your second year you took your month's holidays in July then there were exchanges and in less than five months, counting from August1st you were used up. When you came home at Christmas, you were quite worn out. Now we all knew you had used yourself up in a good cause and perhaps it seemed your duty to do it, but on the other hand the actual work of the church comes first, and when your strength is limited one can understand that the patience of the managers or elders might be exhausted, but if they had not been common [?] unsympathetic men, they could not have expressed it in such a cold-blooded way. Now as to Dr. Mc[G?yle] and Mr. [Kinsey?], the doctor is [not rich?] and has always seemed too busy to do anything in the church, it would be impossible for a doctor. Mr. [Kinsey?] may be liberal, I never saw him but once in the church, he could not help you in the prayer-meeting or in the S.S.[Sunday School]. Who will superintend in the S.S? What will you do when Mrs. Thompson and Mrs. Bastedo leave the Ladies' Aid Auxiliaries?
I have a feeling you think me chiefly anxious as to your monetary support, no indeed, I want to be sure who is going to support you in the work of the church, do the Laymen's work? Have you any guarantee that these new people who, you think, will come in, will be able to do so? I cannot imagine who these business men are, to whom you refer, and I thought I had found out all the Presbyterians; if they had been worth any thing, surely they would have come to the church, even tho' they would not take office with these bad men, I have very little confidence in that sort of Christian myself. In the summer and as long as fine weather lasts the lake is such an attraction, that it seems impossible to overcome it and all the work must be crowded into the winter months.
But to go back, the chief point is, that it would be wrong for you to ask for six months' rest, it would be asking too much of your supporters to leave them with the burden of keeping up the church, and that you have not the temperament to endure the severe mental and physical strain of re-organizing and working up a scattered congregation, who are really as a whole most indifferent.
I feel so afraid of wounding your feelings but my dearest son, you know how anxious I am for your best interests and I feel I must lay the truth of the circumstances before you, no one but myself could do it, your best friends cannot venture to speak plainly and I am so afraid of your being led away into a great mistake by people who like you, patting you on the back to encourage you and afterwards be absolutely useless. So just let them know that after careful consideration you feel it would not be fair or wise to ask for such a prolonged rest. I do hope you will see it as I do. Surely Bracebridge is not the only church in the country and it would be too much altogether to ask them to wait so many months whilst the church goes to pieces1. With fondest love.
Your loving mother
M. B. McQuesten
[P.S.] Sent your jersey to-day.
1 On March 30, 1914, Mary suggested to Calvin that he take an ocean voyage to the old country: "You come home fast as you can and talk it over" (W8752). It is doubtful if he took the voyage and, since there are no letters, he appears to have been at home. He was home "playing bowls as usual" in the summer of 1914 (W6805), and on December 10 he was back at Bracebridge for a brief time (W8785). In December 1914 he accepted a "call" as co-presbyter in Buckingham, Quebec (W8748, W9153).