W0893 TO MARGARETTE B. [LERNED] MCQUESTEN from her friend Harriet H. McLure
May 25 1837
To: Margarette B. Lerned McQuesten, Brockport, New York, [U.S.A.]
From: Jacksonville, Illinois, [U.S.A.]
Your affectionate and interesting letter reached me a few days since, and I now hasten to answer it that I may assure you of its warm reception, and what more convincing proof can I give you than by so promptly replying to it. I had been anxiously hoping for its arrival that I might hear particularly of your health and welfare, and for you to confirm reports that we had heard from another source, but could scarcely credit them. Now there remains no doubt of their authenticity, and we anxiously await the consummation. You probably understand to what I allude. I sincerely hope she may do well. She has our best wishes for her prosperity, that they may both realise all the fond hopes they may have cherished and enjoy for many years the various pleasures of fostering as well as wedded bliss.
If Father's extreme anxiety should not take him to Windsor, I suppose he will soon be in this country, we look for him here next month. He cannot have a more delightful season for visiting it. All nature is now in its glory, and every spot is beautiful. The rich foliage of the trees, clustered in groups scattered here and there over the almost boundless prairies, make a beautiful diversity. In the wild flowers which adorn them and of which we eastern people have heard such unlimited praises, I have been disappointed, for I supposed their large blossoms with rich and gaudy colours would attract the eye from a distance but instead of this they are of the most delicate and tender kind, and so modest and retiring you only perceive them when in their midst. The soft covering and undulating surface of the prairie presents a pleasing picture, but nothing like the grand, majestic scenery of New England. As far as taste and imagination are concerned the wildness of those hills, with their pure streams winding among them cannot be equalled by any thing in this western world.
We have at last concluded to take up our abode in Jacksonville, for the present at least. In some respects I am much pleased with this arrangement, on account of my sister should choose it, before all others in the state, but I have a presentiment that my attachments here will never become strong, that warm and affectionate hearts are "few, and far between." Perhaps I judge too hastily, time must prove. The society is large and I think has quite too much of etiquette and fashion for my taste. Some live in very handsome, others in the most humble style. There are but few handsome houses, and many of the most respectable families are thankful for two rooms. Building is expensive and rents enormous. The small house Father built last summer of which you recollect we made so much sport, we should consider a great [prize?] in this country. Henry has been on the lookout for the last three weeks to find a shelter for us. I have made up my mind to be satisfied with any thing, even one small room, without cellar, garret, or clothes press. The distance we now are from town is too great for him when in business, as yet he is unsuccessful and we must wait for a change. I have long been anxious to commence housekeeping and when I write again shall be able to relate some of its pleasure and perplexities. I rejoice to hear of the increase and prosperity of the good ladies of Brockport. I fancy by this time the [Goodriches?] are fully able to realise the many changes one short year can produce. May they also realise their own duties and responsibilities. The very gentle hint you gave in your letter has awakened strong suspicions in my mind with regard to yourself. I too should like the fun of laughing at your little ladyship were we within speaking distance; do in your next let me know the true state of the case. If you are happy I rejoice with you and with all others in the same condition, but still more with myself that I am free and easy.
How do Mr. & Mrs. Holmes feel in their prospects? They must tremble for the result. What a miserable career that of Elder Davis, and for one of his profession, how disgraceful! Instead of winning souls to purity and bliss, leading them on in darkness and iniquity. It must be a great grief to Elder Putnam. How does Mrs. Davis bear her seclusion? Does she seclude herself from Church, as well as from society? Does Mrs. Morley continue her plan of colonising the west amid the prairies and wild flowers? She used to pour forth her eloquence on that theme so frequently. I am sorry Mr. Morse should suppose I had any prejudice against his wife. Mrs. Davis is not the one to prejudice me against one so far her superior as was Mrs. Morse; on the contrary I found it not only a pleasure but a benefit to cultivate the society of the latter. Her conversation was always agreeable, and edifying, and I regret I did not see her oftener. But (between you and I) I always felt like a wandering sheep when in that society, as if looked upon as a spy or intruder. When I parted with Mrs. Morse I knew it was for the last time; I felt that she must be very near the gate of Heaven, yet I was surprised and grieved to hear of her death. Why is it, that for this messenger we are never prepared however long we may anticipate the summons, it always comes unexpectedly. Please give my respects and sympathy to Mr. Morse. I believe his wife to have been universally beloved, if so how much more tenderly and devotedly by him. His loss must be great indeed, yet but a trifle, when compared to her inestimable gain. How are you pleased with your new minister? Has he a family? I am glad to hear Mrs. Arms is in better health and spirits and that your [?] at table is of a more agreeable stamp than the former [workmen?]. If Mrs. Arms has recovered her cheerfulness, Mrs. Lynn must be willing to save her from the grave a little longer. [?] King has not yet arrived. I have not seen Mrs. [Lusk?]. When I am in the village I shall probably become more extensively acquainted.
Henry Clay and Daniel Webster are expected in town next week, the former to visit his brother, who resides here, and the latter the governer [sic]. Of course some parade will be made for them. I wish you could be here to see. Mrs. Clay is already preparing her house for a grand party.
Mrs. Sweatt in her letter to me made no allusion to her husband's loss. Is he really obliged to relinquish his farm? Oh how unstable are all earthly hopes. Was Mother reconciled to her situation, and how does Father feel? Do let me know as soon as you hear from her. Give my love to Father if he is still in B. I have recieved [sic] Mrs. [Sadler's?] letter and shall answer it soon. She must be very solitary in her present situation. Remember me affectionately to all friends. Many many years must elapse ere the recollection of the warm hearts I found in B. will be effaced.
Do write me again soon, as long and particular a letter as before, only more of yourself, your health and happiness. Henry joins me in much love to yourself, your true and kind husband and all friends. He was at Mr. Webster's not long since. Mrs. Webster has a little son--all well. When is Peter [?] coming to Peoria? Does Mrs. Fields appear more contented and happy than formerly? Yours affectionately
Harriet H. McClure
[Envelope wrapper:] Mrs. Calvin McQuesten,
Brockport, New York
1 To learn more about Margarette Barker Lerned [McQuesten] please see W0609.