W0849 TO MARGARETTE B. [LERNED] MCQUESTEN from her sister Catharine C. P. Lerned
Apr 11 1836
To: Margarette B. Lerned McQuesten, Brockport, New York, [U.S.A.]
From: Boston, Massachusetts, [U.S.A]
Your letter was received through the Lowell mail, March 18 and short as twas in compare [sic] with your usual letters, twas nevertheless "a token of friendship from thee to me." Yes, your letters are generally long, sentimental & on the whole, desirable. As to poor me, I write as well as I can; but poor indeed is the return I make for a good letter. The last words of Bassenger, a lamented officer (graduate at W.P. Institute) who was slain some months since in the Indian war, often occur to me, & serve as an impulse to action. "Boys! we'll do the best that we can"! A number of pieces of poetry have been founded on those words, and some of them "excellent--above mediocrity."
Our Seminary has closed, and ill health prevented my continuance as they wish'd. I feel some better now, and trust a little recreation will serve as a tonic. The latter part of my stay at C. was quite pleasant; and so was the first, yet not quite so agreeable. The Sat. previous to leaving, visited the State Prison, with Mr. Gleason, one of the superintendants [sic]. He presented me with a thimble case, in shape of an Acorn, made by a prisoner, from the Constitution--i.e. Old Ironsides. They are allowed 3/4 an hour each Sat. night to sing & prepare for Sunday. They had a bass viol & flute--both well played, & some good singers. The scene was solemn & impressive. The next Sunday, took a ride with Mr. [Bevins?] through Brighton, Roxbury, &c. In eve attended with him a [Concert?] at Boylston Hall. "The Pretoria David" was finely performed by the [Handel?] and Hadyn [sic] Society. Monday. April 4. went to the [Trennant?] Theatre, with Mr. & Mrs. Tebbets, Mrs. Willard, & Esq. Lovell. Wallach is now the centre of attraction. He played the part of "Ebenezer the Jew Goldsmith" & played it to perfection, in the Drama of the "Jewess" (Mrs. Barrette).2 Wednesday foll'ng there were [9?] fires in B. in P.M. and a Hotel consumed in Roxbury, in the eve. The flame & smoke alternately made streams of darkness dismal, then light terrific. Fires are of frequent occurrence.
Have visited the Riding School, but did not observe many good riders. The teacher was a fine looking man--put me in mind of Miss LeBaron, of whom I have previously made mention, as a teacher at C. She presented me a [?] of Miss Sigourney's letters when I left, and requested a correspondance [sic] with my ladyship.
[Written up left side of page:] The collar will, I fear, never be finished. I intend commencing this P.M. and [mean?] to work in earnest.
Last Thursday was fast throughout this state. I did not attend meeting but took a promenade &c. &c. Friday I rode in P.M. with Mr. Burns; & in eve attended a party, where I met a Custom House officer, Mr. [Bancore?]. Tell E. that he said the Haliburton family was of the first respectability & rich--that Mr. H. was subject to fits of insanity, but that he knew nothing against his sons.
I have just commenced learning to play chess. Find it difficult, but interesting; & think in time I shall learn to a [?]. Cards in all movements, seem to be the prime consideration of all parties in B. They are partial, yes extremely so, to playing for money--in fact, every where I've visited, they'll have 3 or 4 tables, a pool for the money, & some 8 or 10 smiling faces, seat themselves in a circle, giving or receiving the coin, as the case may require. The game of Whist seems extent; however, as I play no other, & never for money, I amuse myself with back-gammon, chatting &c &c.
Cousin E. Boynton left yesterday for Hopkinton. I sent home some lamp trimmings, & will cut & send you some the first opportunity. I am intending to hear Graham the coming Monday, & to visit the Senate on Tuesday, & hear the "say" of the House. Matt. Malony is clerk in a store in Hilly Street. Tis said that Mr. Holmes has failed, since his Eastern adventure. Henrietta Fletcher (that was) died some time since--left one child. Her mother died a month or two since. Martin B. Breck has a fine store No. 55 Hanover Street. Tell E. that Mr. Allen has commenced trade in the same street with Mr. Mann. Roxana Eaton has a home with 4 rooms, and lives very prettily. She altered my cinnamon silk dress, with a splendid silver vine interwoven in the meshes, & a white Satin under dress. It belonged to one of the city belles, Miss Benjamin; & cost $100. Twas to wear at [?] H. Perkins Ball, on the coming eve.
Daniel Webster's eldest son is engaged to Miss White of B; & Mary Ann (Ezekiel W's daughter) is married to Mr. Gregg, a teacher at the West. Her child, Francis, aged 6 years is to remain at Salisbury. D. Fletcher W. (aforesaid) is the father of the girl, born when its Mother was but 14 years old. Daniel's only daughter, Julia, is not handsome, but good natured--short &c &c.
The Woods made Boston people half crazy--suppose you have e'er this heard of their last night's reception. Never were people so blind, in my estimate to pay such immense sums on the choice of boxes. At the close of the play, bunches & wreaths of flowers were thrown upon Mr. & Mrs. W. as they appeared to say, "Farewell." Ostinelli, (whose wife supports herself by teaching Musick) leader of the Orchestra, threw at her feet a $500. wreath, of the choicest & fairest flowers. Young Sullivan was excessive in his demonstration of affection.
He threw from the stage box a splendid wreath--cost $300? & many boquets [sic]. Mr. & Mrs. Wood were literally showered with flowers; & as she left the stage, her arms were encircled with many a wreath, & her brow with many an honor. So much for the greatest vocalists in this world of wonders.
Wednesday Morn. 13th. This letter was to have been finished Sunday, but it showed signs of fair weather in P.M. & Messrs [Bevins?] & Dike [?] on Mrs. W. & self to the [?] Bethel. The house was crowded to excess, & Taylor as ever, preached well. Of Mr. D. I had heard much, but was not till then introduced. He has been rather attentive to Miss P. Malony; & since his faith has wavered, she throws all [?] on Mr. [Bevins?]; while in fact Mr. D. only thought of her as a companion for a walk or ride, not for life & marriage too. He is quite agreeable, but not "[extree?]."
Graham & Prof. [Silliman?] are both repeating their course of lectures on diet & Chemistry--the former at Congress Hall--the latter at the Odeon, in Federal Street. (Formerly a Theatre, now a Cong'l church, of which Mr. Rogers, who married Adelia [?], of Leominster, is pastor).
Monday Eve, heard Graham. Bread was his subject, & he exclaimed against Bakers most unmercifully. Said their bread was only fit for poison--that we must bake our own, and [?] ground wheat--that Physicians were either devils--or [?] administer a pill, some valerian &c. whiles patients would [?] poison, & snuff bladders full of death & damnation into their heads." (A cut to snuff takers.) He spoke of large loaves, that when warm we could deposit in our pockets; & when cold, twould fill a large water pail. Such bread, he said, was pronounced "first rate," while in it cavities shining & tough with Alum, a party of Bats might roam at pleasure. He dwelt particularly on neatness, & though he used harsh expressions & exaggerated greatly, yet I think his doctime half right. Last eve heard him at the Charlestown Lyceum, lecture on Life. Not very interesting. He is fine looking, and a good speaker.
Now sister M. I am at Mr. J.C. Tebbets, in Chamber Street No. 65. When you write you must direct to the Care of Mr. T. else I shall not recieve [sic] it in due time. How long I remain here is uncertain; if all things favour 3 months. I will send you a paper after I conclude, & then shall anticipate a letter. Take lessons on the Piano of Mr. Smith, one of the first teachers; & he says I begun to learn wrong, & now must be willing to learn the principles of the science. Mrs. W. takes lessons also, and we have a good Piano for practising, with her parlor to ourselves. Have not heard from Mother of late--am anticipating a letter very soon. Tell Edward that I do not think twould greatly intrude upon his anatomical researches should he he [sic] write me a line or two. Cousin H. & R. Eaton send him their very best love. Tell E. when opportunity presents, & inclination wills, he must send R. a present. Tell him to keep the ring, & wear it also.
And now must my letter end, as tis nearly two (our dinner hour). Best love to your husband self & E. respects to friends & acquaintances, & best wishes for your health & happiness. Dear M. I remain
Yours in true friendship,
Catharine [C. P. Lerned]
[Envelope wrapper:] Mrs. Margarette B. McQuesten, Brockport, New York
1 The second digit of the postmark is faint. We have read the date to be April 11, 1836.
2 This series of entertainments was criticized by Catharine's sister Margarette, and Catharine justifies her actions in W0853.
3 To learn more about Margarette Barker Lerned [McQuesten] please see W0609.