W-MCP5-6.339 TO [DR.] CALVIN BROOKS MCQUESTEN from L.R.F. [Lizzie R. French]
Oct 6 1858
To: [Dr.] Calvin Brooks McQuesten, [Mercantile College], Buffalo, New York, [U.S.A.]
From: Milford, New Hampshire, [U.S.A.]
I wonder if "cousin Calvin" will be able to recognize my handwriting, or be obliged to search for the signature to ascertain who this may hail from. I've a great mind to omit that, and see how much of a "yankee" you'll prove yourself--but think you will not be troubled in the matter, though 'tis a long time since you have seen much of my writing.1
When I returned such a short answer to your "joint stock" letter, I fully intended to write you something worthy to be called an answer, before many weeks.--but time passed on and it was neglected. Then, when you sent me a paper from Buffalo, I was reminded of it again, and again resolved I would discharge said duty, but soon after, deciding to come east, I thought it very probable I might see you, and so deferred writing. In that I was disappointed. It seemed very odd indeed at Hamilton without you,--and your father and mother absent too. I suppose you have learned the particulars of my visit on this from Lizzie C.--or Willie McQ, so I'll not weary you with a repetition.
At Montreal, I had the pleasure of meeting with one old friend Mr. Mitchell, also Mr. Roper, though I did not see so much of the latter as of Mr. M. He spent one evening with us, and we passed it very pleasantly talking over "old times." I told him how many times I had made up my mind to write you and he urged me very strongly not to procrastinate in future, so you see I am following his advice. I was not aware, how good a friend of yours Mr. Mitchell was, but he said some things that eve that gave me some light on the subject. I am very glad you are in Buffalo, and in a fair way of becoming a "business man." Will you remain there after leaving college?2 Lizzie's letters have been received at such long intervals, during the last few months that I have heard but little of your plans and prospects. I shall always be glad to know of your prosperity. Your thoughtfulness of my happiness during the months I spent in your father's house, will ever be remembered by me with peculiar pleasure. I look back upon those hours as some of the happiest in my life. Since then, I have looked upon different phases of life, and not unfrequently life's picture has been overhung with clouds--still I have had "sunny morn ones" to cheer me in the darkest hours and among them, thoughts of Hamilton and the friends I made there are very prominent.
Had I visited the Falls, as I supposed we would when we left Bude,3 I should have made some endeavours to see you. As it was the Sabbath we should have been at the Falls, we spent at Hamilton--which I enjoyed exceedingly, of course, but which wanted on the old friends to make the circle and the charm complete. So many were away that it did not seem just like the olden time.
Our homeward trip was exceedingly pleasant, and I enjoyed it so much, and glad was I indeed to see the rocks hills and valleys of dear old New England once more. It seems now, as though I would never care to leave it again--but I presume my wandering propensities will return in time.
I came very near receiving a visit from William Fisher a few weeks before I left Bude. I was very very sorry that it happened he could not come, and Mr. McMillan too, I would have been very happy to have entertained them both on my return home. Has he returned to Buffalo? & if so, when you see him please say to him that I regretted the unfortunate arrangement of the trains, as it deprived me of what would have been a great pleasure. I hope he will not be contented to "give it up so" but try his fortune again in an easterly direction--perhaps he may be more successful. Perhaps another season you and he may take an eastern trip together.
I am writing much more than I intended when I commenced but that is such a common fault of mine that I never try to apologize for it, hoping I may hear from you when convenient, I remain,
Your sincere friend
Do you know who?
P.S. As I do not know any particular address, I venture to put M. C. in the corner though it may not steer the letter any straighter.
[Written on envelope:] L.R.F. [Lizzie R. French] Ans. 16/11/58
1 We can identify the writer by comparison with several other letters written by Lizzie French. Calvin Brooks wrote "L.R.F." on the envelope as the person to whom he replied; however, the writer signed the initials "P.L." A comparison of the handwriting shows that the writer is likely Lizzie [or Lissie] French, see also W-MCP5-6.341, W-MCP5-6.342, W-MCP5-6.343, all from Lizzie French. Lizzie French died young of consumption and Dr. Calvin Brooks McQuesten carried a picture of her in his wallet for the rest of his life.
2 This letter identifies that Dr. Calvin Brooks was at Mercantile College in Buffalo N.Y. in 1858. He did practice medicine in New York City and possibly in Buffalo and other parts of New York State, and in Washington for a time. He graduated in medicine from Dartmouth College in 1861 (Minnes 1).
3 Bude (BYOOD), town (1990 pop. 969), Franklin co., SW Miss., 32 mi/51 kmE of Natchez, on Homochitto R., and in Homochitto Natl. Forest; 31°°27'N 90°°50'W. In agr. (cotton, corn) and timber area; mfg. (apparel). Inc. 1912. "Bude United States." North American Gazeteer. November 13, 2003.
4 "Mercantile College" is written in the bottom left hand corner of the envelope. We have been unable to locate an address or any information for this establishment.