W0906 TO MRS. CATHARINE LERNED from her daughter and son-in-law Margarette and Dr. Calvin McQuesten
Oct 20 1837
To: Mrs. Catharine Lerned, Hopkinton, New Hampshire, [U.S.A]
From: Brockport, New York, [U.S.A.]
My dear Mother,
I cannot realise it is so late in the season, Summer to me has passed like a dream. I cannot realise either that five years have past away, since I saw you. Time must at your season of life altered [sic] your looks more than mine, but we have both grown five yrs. older. Care & anxiety of a family occupies your attentions so that your leisure moments can be but few compared to mine, yet I fear I do not realise sufficiently the goodness of God in removing obstacles to prevent my growth in grace. I have every privilege which health & retirement can give, and I am verily guilty in not appreciating them more fully. I am at the writing desk, Edward's portrait (in small dimension) hanging by my view, which he intends sending you the first opportunity. This is the third letter I have commenced for husband to finish, when he has news sufficient to guarantee the postage, I do not anticipate so much (tho' I have health & strength at the present time) as I otherwise should, had I not once been disappointed of my hopes. 1 Every thing looks encouraging, but there is one who knoweth what is best for all his creatures. Some need more trials than others, yet we will not distrust the goodness of God who has led us hitherto in his green pastures. I have been expecting to hear from sister Mary, or Louisa, hope we shall soon. It is sometime since we saw any one from the East. How is Mr. Dustin? Is Cath. at home, the next time I write hope to give her a letter. All my sisters I think much of--hope they are aiming to be wise, virtuous and usefull [sic], as that is the only way to be happy. I should be greatly pleased to have one of them with me this winter, but the distance renders it rather discouraging at this season of the year.
Dudley Bean, from Oswego, called here not long since to see Ed. I had a peep at him. Wish dear Mother you was here, I could tell you much which I know not how to pen on paper. It is growing so dark must close for to night, by wishing you health happiness, and all needed blessings.
Satur Morn. My apology for not writing you oftener is I think E. will interest you more, and he has written when I otherwise should. I thank sisters for all their letters, H. writes very handsomely, but Lucy seems to be in a hurry, as my writing indicates, I think she had better take a little more pains, for carefulness in a young lady, in whatever she undertakes, is not a good quality. I must beg my dear sisters to Elizabeth, to forgive my apparent neglect, for all their little attentions to me, in any way, I long to see them--and I love them well. I hope they are not coming up, like the gaudy sunflower, or painted butterfly--or overgrown weed--but more like those useful plants, which bring forth fruit, & rewards [sic] the cultivator for his labour. External accomplishments are but trivial importance to a well cultivated mind, and if the mind is judiciously balanced, and filled with knowledge, it will show itself, and throw out its benign influence to the critical beholder.
Ed. is to so much taken up with trifling things while he neglects the more solid, I am sorry to say it, but I find that early education is hard to wear away, even if it is false, painting & music attract his attention much more deeply than the sciences.3 He is deficient and unless the mind can have a desire for the knowledge it cannot be beat into it, by argument. However, brother has some very good qualities and he was greatly improved within two years. I want to see him an aspiring man--aspiring for wisdom & knowledge. I am thankful he has no vicious habits, and it is in little things I would see him improve--and there little things increase in time to great ones, and man's character will be estimated accordingly I think more of real merit--a confiding honest man, since I have been blest with such a partner, & it is my desire most earnestly to have E. upright and as void of deception in every respect. Such an one will gain the confidence the esteem, and respect of even the wicked. We endeavor to be faithful to him, to admonish &c. And my prayer is, that he may ever be kept from the pollution of this evil world, and saved by the grace of God to eternal Life. I know your anxiety for him an only son--it makes me doubly watchful over him, and tho' I am frank & often give a lecture [yet?] I trust he is convinced it is out of pure [distinterest?] [?]. We have been brought up in the same way, so we ought to [the?] charity, and many false impressions I received in early [education?] will, & is hard for me to efface. I must close or hus. will not have room to say a word. Good night dear Mother, your affect. daughter Margarette
Oct. 30--8 oclock P.M.
The time has come for the closing words of this letter. Five days since at this hour we became Parents of a little Son.3 He appears well and we hope will be spared to us. Margarette had a very easy time and has been very comfortable since although I manage her as I should if she was very sick. I have not yet let her sit in a chair to have her bed made but if you was to come into the room and not know what had happened you would not think she was sick but caution is the Parent of safety. I have devoted my time to her though it did not appear necessary but it was my choice to do so. The boy is a plump little fellow weighed 7 lbs 6 oz. The neighbour women call him very handsome but that is a small matter with me. I only mention on wife's account. We have a very good nurse a woman that has had a family of children.
Wife wishes to send Louisa word on receiving this and we will write her in a few days that you may all know how we prosper. We feel much encouraged but we well know we cannot look into futurity for even an hour yet we know we are in the hands of One who will do all things well.
C. McQuesten [Dr. Calvin McQuesten]
[Written down left side of page:] Wife sends love to Mary.
I wrote to Mary last, hope to hear good news from you all--health happiness &c. Much love to her family, and all friends where due.
[Envelope wrapper:] Mrs. Catharine Lerned, Hopkinton, NH
[Postmark October 30 or 31.]
1 Margarette had already been disappointed in childbirth with the death of her first son, Calvin Jr., who was born on Aug. 15, 1834 and died on Aug. 25, 1834. To learn more about Margarette Barker Lerned [McQuesten] please see W0609.
2 In 1835, Dr. Calvin McQuesten had agreed to supervise the education of Edward Lerned (the half-brother of his wife Margarette) and had made financial arrangements with Edward's legal guardian, Mr. Dustin. By the summer of 1838, however, Mr. Dustin was threatening legal action against Dr. McQuesten for money that he claimed was owed to Edward, which all parties hoped to settle outside of court. For details and links, see W-MCP4-6.233.
3 This part of the letter is dated October 30 and "five days since" would be October 25, however our records at Whitehern state that Calvin Brooks McQuesten was born on October 27, 1837.