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W-MCP3-6.055 TO [DR.] CALVIN BROOKS MCQUESTEN from J. C. Learned
Sep 9 1859
To: TO [DR] CALVIN BROOKS MCQUESTEN Meriden, New Hampshire Cambridge
From: Cambridge, Massachusetts

My friend McQuesten:

I was made happy in the receipt of your kind note a day or two since, which reached me [?] [?] [?] stopping a short time in Dublin.

I rejoiced to hear of the great [?] [?] the school, but wonder why Raymond came back. Is he more popular than last term? Has [?] repair of his delinquencies and thus secure him [?] [?] a berth at M. Your [mo?] to

Mrs. Duncan now, will I suppose [pair?] you admission occasionally into the unsought presence of the fair ones. If you call at her [?] don't let her flatter you too [?] [?] [?] least keep up with her. That's quite a pleasant and convenient place to call when one's out of sorts and wishes to be treated well. Does she speak as highly of the Dr. as she used to do? I am glad you keep my secrets so well and shall of course expect you to keep me posted in all matters of interest. You know it is quite amusing to hear people speculate on things they know nothing of. Also if you hear anything new of the "rush to California." A certain lady has been urged to delay a little and go at the same time with Mr. Clark (Ward's uncle) who is supposed still to be in search of a wife, if not already married & as he also starts in Oct. for Honolulu. Would not that be a great one? Somebody might be disappointed and feel bad. Strange things occur daily. And by the way has Ward returned to his three years' course? Do they have a Glee Club this term?

We are delightfully situated here, pleasant, quiet and retired rooms lighted with gas, in the midst of beautiful grounds and shady trees. The new Laboratory of Prof. Agassis is within a few paces and fast going up. The Gymnasium is complete, with its Professor (a Negro) and now open to students for instruction and exercise. A negro professor would hardly suit your notions would he?

The grand contest at fastball, between the Freshmen & Sophs came off on Monday [?] after tea.. One of the most exciting and harshest things I ever witnessed. Spectators were numbered by thousands. It ended as it always does with the defeat of the Freshmen, for the Sophs are well trained and work together, knowing their leaders while the Fresheys do not even know each other having just come together. This year the first onset of the Freshmen was so furious that they drove all before them and the Sophs unprepared for such a shock lost ground and the ball was driven over in spite of them, but afterwards they were successively victorious. The Freshmen are bullied into this every year so that the Sophs may get opportunity to bruise them, and come away with sometimes not a whole garment on their backs, [boots that la?] shins, black & blue, bloody noses, and some heads--perhaps having a few teeth the less, or broken limbs. I saw some so exhausted or injured as to be unable to leave the grounds without assistance. After three trials, the Juniors and Seniors work sides for three more, when their men about 400 engaged in the same brutal conflict.

When does the Philadelphia open? Foster got in without difficulty here. I notice "Tutor" Field, a member of the Law School, I think.

Let me hear from you again, while I remain,

Very Truly Your Friend

J. [C.] Learned


[written at top of first page] Will you inquire of [?] of my Mail Mailed 4 wks ago detained or Mailed. If so please [?] to 15 Cambridge.

1 J.C. Learned wrote 4 letters to [Dr.] Calvin Brooks McQuesten during the Fall of 1859. This letter suggests that Dr. Learned had been at Meriden and that they have many mutual friends there. We have no record that they were related although Calvin Brooks's mother was named Lerned. (see also: W-MCP5-6.337, W-MCP5-6.338,W-MCP5-6.382).


J.C. Learned's obituary in The Christian Register reads (in part): Dr. J.C. Learned (August 7, 1834 to December 8, 1893) graduated from the Harvard Divinity School in 1862. He was born in Dublin, N.H. and his name suggests that he came of Calvinistic stock. He entered the ministry in Exeter where a new church was build and he gathered a strong congregation. He was a wise instructor and a faithful friend. From 1870 until his death he was the beloved minister of the church of the Unity in St. Louis. He was radical in his theology, and the gravitation of his mind was to the ethical aspects of his religion. He was a scholar of the Unitarian tradition. The columns of Unity have been enriched by his pen. In his bearing there was a genial gravity, a simple heartiness, that was most engaging and he was an excellent mentor. He left a wife and three children. It was a marriage of true minds. (Obituary in The Christian Register, December 14, 1893).

Unity December 14, 1893, also carried an obituary notice which reads (in part): He was the most unflinching, equable soul we have ever known. Integrity and loyalty were his conspicuous attributes. A fearless thinker, a tireless seeker, was John Learned. Noblest Roman of them all! He contributed a hymn to the Radical and every line of it was written with his heart's blood. The hymn Saving Faith is quoted at the end of the obituary.

A further obituary was provided in the same magazine on December 21, which stated that his was "A Ministry of Thought by a Prophet of the Rational Faith. Learned was descended in the eighth generation from William and Goodith Learned, the first to come to America probably in 1632, sturdy New England men. He was the second child of Calvin Learned and Hannah Dunster Barrett. (Information and obituaries supplied by Harvard University Archives, Pusey Library, January 5, 2004)

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