W0873 TO MARGARETTE B. [LERNED] MCQUESTEN from her friend Ann
Mar 8 1837
To: Margarette B. Lerned McQuesten, Brockport, New York, [U.S.A.]
From: Claremont, New Hampshire, [U.S.A.]
My dearest Mrs. McQuesten,
I am painfully aware that I have long, too long, neglected answering your condoling epistle of Nov. 1835. It came to me then like a sweet messenger of love with healing in its wings:--Yes! My dear friend I was then mourning the loss of an almost adored Father--once in an enfeebled state of health having been reduced to infantile weakness by a most severe & for a while hopeless case of Typhus fever. Under such melting & thrilling circumstances think how inexpressibly dear were the sympathies of our friends, especially of such as could participate in our heart-rending sorrows from actual experience. You Mrs. McQ. are not a stranger to grief & suffering, you have long since, & in the most extended sense known what were [?] woes! Oh the desolation and bitter, piercing agony that marks the mental path of such forlorn ones! But I must leave these gloomy reflections for even now they quite unnerve me.
You have doubtless ere this received from your Sister L. McA. [Louisa McAllaster] most of the particulars relative to my lamented father's sickness & demise. I will therefore only mention a few general things concerning our dear departed one & his family.--In the Summer of 1835 my father, sister S.L. & myself took a trip to Saratoga N.Y. for the benefit of my health, which had been reduced & assumed a rather alarming pulmonary aspect. After an absence of little more than a week we returned to our home apparently mutually benefited by the pleasant excursion. I immediately entered upon the duties of my school, with increased assiduity, yet I could not endure more than three or four hours labour pr. diem--at the expiration of 6 weeks I was obliged to commit the entire charge of my school to Sister S.C. in conseuqnece of Sister A.M.'s illness. She was attacked with the inveterate disease (Typhus fever) which was then prevailing in Ct--at that time 'tho a malignant epidemmick it was not mortal--none had died. Mother was very ill from an affection of the liver & good [?] [?], so of course I had almost the entire care of A.M. day & night--her sufferings were comparatively mild--at the termination of two long weeks she began to convalesce. Mother was still confined almost exclusively to her bed.
My dearest father at this time seemed drooping under his accumulated cares & anxieties--business at the Store daily increasing & suffering ever for his attention, as his partner was inexperienced in trade--the erection of his dwelling house &c &c. all conspired to reduce & enervate his constitution, which you know was always very delicate, but by temperance in all his habits his health was uniformly good. Before A.M. could leave the nursery I was most violently siezed [sic] & completely prostrated with fever--my speech & hearing & in short all my faculties failed me & the most eminent medical counsel thought me a victim for the immediate grave. At this awful juncture sister [L.F.?] fell a victim to the same disease--she was a very sick child--a few days subsequent my father was forced to yield to the fever, which one of our medical attendants (for we had two in almost constant employ) repeatedly assured him that he had had a confirmed case of Typhus for more than a week; but his parental solicitude was so good that he for a long time resisted all importunities & physical sufferings till at last he was compelled to take his chamber and even then, he came across the next day to gaze once more on his suffering children--his feeble steps were never more heard in the rooms of the sick--nay of one of his youngest born he then took his final adieu--she became convalescent ere he died but would not consent to be carried to his room--her little attenuated frame could not endure the last night of suffering--she even insisted on being carried across the yard to one of our best neighbors & there remain away from all affliction--of course we indulged her.
My father's sickness was of only 3 weeks duration--the first two of which he was to all appearance what is often termed "comfortably sick"--no serious apprehensions were entertained of his recovery until the week preceding his dissolution:--when his physicians & nurses & friends fondly hoped he was about to recover, a fatal & dreadful relapse came, on which in a few days terminated his existence--hopes of returning health were however cherished both by himself & others till almost the latest breath--still I think father thought his case nearly hopeless the day before he died. The first indications of danger were sudden & overpowering--he was of a moment siezed [sic] with ague, then followed in regualr succession hemorrhage of the bowels, intense fever, profuse perspiration & the most deathlike exhaustion--this dreadfully appalling succedaneum [sic] continued till life was no more; with some abatement to be sure, for the attacks of cold though periodical, were often alleviated or thrown off, by the most unremitted vigilance--one or two most faithful nurses & the same number of physicians were in close attendance day & night--counsel after counsel, but the pain absence at home was held, but the behest of the Almighty had gone forth & vain was all human prayer to detain the spirit of our dear, lost one--he was blessed with the perfect possession of his intellectual & mental powers throughout his entire sickness--he conversed much on spiritual things these were his theme & delight--for the last two days of his life his articulation was very imperfect--his respiration was exceedingly difficult, still we could comprehend most that was uttered--his views of Heaven & heavenly things were astonishingly bright & glorious--of Eternity most exalted--of himself most humbling & self-abasing--of the atonement most clear & the message sublime compassion & condescension of the Saviour his only hope of future blessedness.
You & your husband are both aware that in health your friend was never given to [?], even so in sickness & wrath--he was calm & serene as an Italian sky--tender & devoted as long as he could see the objects of his fondest earthly love around him--exhorting his attendants who were not pious to make their peace with God their best friend & after looking for a moment on Mother so earnestly, so full of heaven-born tenderness as she stood weeping over him--he said trust in God & instantly turned from her--then after moistening his parched lips with a little coffee uttered one more--now let me die--his pulsations & respiration became more & more feeble & intermittent, till without a struggle or a groan "he smiled, was exhaled & went to Heaven."
You see my dear Mrs. McQuesten that in the midst of our deepest sorrows we had much to comfort. Yes & still the Widow's God and Orphan's friend looks benignantly upon his unworthy bereaved ones. Alas! May we never again provoke Him to frown on "the shorn Lambs," but may he come sanctified & fitted for the home of the blest above where we may rejoin our sainted friend & father.
Now my very dear friend I again beg of you to write me often as possible & every particular of your health & happiness--you and your husband were ever most dear to us, but now, you are more sacred than ever. My father never ceased to love & remember & pray for you so long as he had strength. In his last days he spoke much affectionately of you [?] all.
I have devoted my time to my dear Mother & younger sisters for the last 18 mos--in April I expect to visit Boston &c. Mother enjoys good health--sisters generally. She sends very much love to Dr. McQ & yourself--little sisters join in this. May we not hope for a visit from you next season? We long to meet you again--do come to our new abode. Write often I beseech you & wait not for me to reply. I have much to attend to business &c for Mother.
Dear Margarette I have not [?] to say half to you I wish--but allow me to thank you a thousand, thousand times for the tender interest you manifest in our welfare & for your very kind attentions. I have received two no. of the Moral Reformer from you1--am deeply obliged & most heartily interested in the cause which they advocate. I cannot at present become a subscriber but may I ask you to forward me all the numbers you have no other use for. I hope eventually to contribute my [?] towards the [noble?] enterprise. Our family is at present very small--the three eldest of my sisters are absent--S.G. is assistant at H. Seminary--S.L. visiting in the Eastern part of the state--& L.H. at Exeter & [?]--health not good as formerly--
From [?] ardent [?] friend [?]
[To] Calvin McQuesten M.D., Brockport, N.Y.
For Mrs. McQuesten
1 During the 1830s and 1840s, middle-class women in New England and the Middle Atlantic states organized Female Moral Reform societies in order to attack the sexual double standard. The documents in this project, drawn largely from moral reform newspapers published in New York and Boston, examine the appeal and tactics of the movement, arguably the first social movement in the United States to be led by and consist largely of women. http://womhist.binghamton.edu/fmrs/abstract.htm See W0877 for a description of meetings "conducted solely by Ladies," and "where none but females are present."
2 To learn more about Margarette Barker Lerned [McQuesten] please see W0609.