W2436 TO DR. CALVIN BROOKS MCQUESTEN from his brother Isaac Baldwin McQuesten
Feb 17 1874
To: Dr. Calvin Brooks McQuesten, New York
From: Hamilton, Ontario
My Dear Brother,
It is as well to commence and take items of your letter in order, so as not to omit any. As to the 'dorg,' if the bitch is known to have been sired with a thorough-bred of her own kind, would like quite as well to have her: but unless that be the case beyond much doubt, should prefer to get a pup, if a dog grown up cannot be obtained.
As to acquainting the O.L.1 with the arrangement of father's property, I must quite differ with you. In the first place, he can not reclaim it "without our acquiescence." The primary intention in the deed2--and what made it so difficult to draw up safely--was to still give father absolute power over his property, with this one qualification: that no influence brought to bear just at the moment should be of any avail; & therefore it was provided that Proudfoot, you & myself should be present to witness any revocation or alteration; that notice should be sent you by mail; and therefore that at least about three days for deliberation must be taken by father. Thus time for consideration would be allowed him; and when it came to the point he would be brought face to face with the people whom he most loves (you and myself) and in whose judgment he has the most confidence (Proudfoot's). So you see that all has been pretty well arranged for our safety, and yet not to place father in any humiliating position.
In the next place whether father's property were irrevocably out of his hands or not, if she found out about this she would lead him a perfect dog's life. She is a----I wouldn't like to disgrace woman by calling her one--without reason, judgment or kindness. It is self, self, all over. And there is no use using the calculations as to what results might flow from certain courses of conduct towards her. Threaten her, & she is ugly. Treat her kindly, & she is ugly. Use a middle course, & her native ugliness comes out: So the only way to do, Calvin, is to fight shy of her; have just as little to do with her as possible, and give her just as little information or data to go upon as is in your power. For myself, the last thing I want in the world is to be on terms of friendship with her. Nothing less than a direct communication from God Almighty would make me believe I could ever trust her. This is not from an un-Christian feeling towards her. It is the result of experience. I feel convinced that, struggle against it as I might, the only result of being brought into contact and intercourse with her would be to rouse all that is evil in any nature. Nor is this my verdict alone. It is that of most that know her. As to Mary, she & Mrs. McQ. are so entirely different in nature, that Mary does not want to even have to associate with her except in the most formal manner. Father's only look-out seems to be that he notices more & more appearances in her, such as with her sister, Mrs. Currier, preceded her insanity.3 Perhaps I have made more out of this than you intended; but I thought it more satisfactory to you to be explicit.
As to Mr. Proudfoot, I intended & thought I had in my first letter to you stated the time he had been drinking. He assured me--& from all evidences I could find, I think it was the case--that it had only been going on about two weeks. Dr. Henwood, who has always been his physician, quite concurred in this. His excessive drinking was only for about three or four days;--not an approach to what it had been on former occasions. On Monday night it was stopped. Till the preceding Friday he had been in the office every day, & no human being had the slightest suspicion. Moreover till the Friday he had had family worship every night--nothing wrong; and it was only on Saturday that Annie said he was in such a state as to be utterly unable. From that time for the two following days he was drinking incessantly. So you see it had been but for that duration. I do not think he is using any at all now. Were he, you would almost certainly plainly detect it. I know he took none with him. He did not even pack his trunk. I think Annie has made up her mind to return with her father, and trust she will not change it. Has the Dr. got Eliza Sawyer there in addition to Mr. P. and Annie? Where in the world can he stow them all?
I have posted up your patient's lecture card on "Maleocracy." Does she pay her bills among her other virtues or is that beneath one occupied with such lofty themes. Now, my youth, methinks I have answered all your inquisitions to the best of my ability--perhaps too much so for your satisfaction if your time is very valuable.
You did not tell me, you beggar, whether you relished those cigars enough to make it worth while to get a box for your perusal when you next come home. So I saw Jack Turner in the street today, & told him if he had another box to keep it for me, & you shall have it unopened when you come home. My smokes are few; but when I do take them, Mary insists on my staying in the house & making myself comfortable. She's a pretty good sort of a girl, if she does blow a little about what she does not allow me to do. She hinted once about never receiving a letter you spoke several times of writing.4 She keeps very well. Indeed much better than she was for a long time before she married, and says that the prospect of her "little show" does not trouble her at all.5 Dr. Mullins called in two or three times to see her; & she likes him very well, much better on acquaintance. This will do for the present.
Most affec'y your brother
I.B. McQuesten [Isaac Baldwin McQuesten]
There is a good deal of talk about irregularities in newspaper postage postage [sic]. Will send you a paper today with one cent stamp on, tomorrow with none; tell me if you get either & what you have to pay.
1 The "Old Lady" is Elizabeth Fuller McQuesten, third wife of Dr. Calvin McQuesten and step-mother to Isaac and Calvin Brooks McQuesten.
2 On October 13, 1873, a Deed of Trust was drawn up and signed by Dr. Calvin McQuesten, his two sons Isaac and Calvin Brooks and Isaac's law partner William Proudfoot (W0234). This was to ensure that Elizabeth Fuller McQuesten could not pressure her husband into leaving her all of his property, particularly at the expense of Calvin Brooks and Isaac. See W-MCP5-6.351 for more details about the feud between Elizabeth Fuller McQuesten and her stepsons.
3 See W1216 for a letter about Elizabeth Fuller's sister.
4 Perhaps Isaac is referring to a letter Mary later thanks Dr. Calvin Brooks for in W1404 answering her questions about giving birth.
5 Mary's first child, Mary Baldwin McQuesten, was born on March 20, 1874. See also W2440.