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W2987 TO JAMES ALFRED BAKER from Rev. Thomas Baker
Oct 22 1866
To: James Alfred Baker
From: Newmarket Ontario

My dear Son Alfred,

Your letter of the [?] was duly received, and as it seems to have been written under very unpleasant feelings and contains serious allegations against me, I feel myself under the necessity of replying to them, and then by showing you have wronged me. I have also delayed answering to the present time hoping that your health being inproved you would be in a better mood for receiving my statements.

And first, [?] I think you very unreasonable in your remarks concerning the time I allowed to elapse before answering your letter. I allowed but one day to pass and that Sunday without sending you an answer.-Pardon me, my son, you are mistaken. You received my letter on Saturday, and judging by the date of your reply 2nd Oct which was Tuesday, and as you stated you had found it difficult to write of having cut your finger mowing the day you write. I pleasantly remarked on what I supposed was your [dictatorship??]. If you had answered my letter immediately on receiving it you would have saved me from much anxiety, and yourself from inconvenience from your cut fingers. But something over [?] the duties. I was not expecting one, you wrote after your stopping all correspondence for [4/14??] months, when you must have known a kindly word would have been in season, more especially as I wrote the last letter to you. I then looked for a letter but was disappointed and had given up all hope of hearing from you but I again wrote.-"Might I not retort, my son, your father was old and in ill health, a letter form you would have been appreciated, more especially as your brothers for years have ceased from corresponding with him; and if you had valued his correspondence is it not resonable to suppose you would have answered his letter immediately, as he requested? True, you wrote me the last letter: it was to acknowledge the receipt of mine containing a post-office order for $20.00 therefore a reply was unnecessary. You must pardon me for thinking you earlier [premeditations??] in declining to correspond however you had written the last letter especially as our correspondence had generally been a letter in about six months. When I heard of your mishap and your [illness?] I wrote immediately, which I think was sufficient proof of my kindly feelings towards you.

You next inform me that Mr. Sewell had come to you with my letter. He did so at my request, as I did not hear from you for a week after writing to you. I feared you were dangerously ill, too ill to write, but you mind would be extremely anxious about your affair, and that an unsolicited offer of assistance would be kindly taken, relieve your mind and kindly facilitate your recovery. How greatly was I mistaken! - Your displeasure is excited as the following too plainly manifest. Having told Mr. Sewell Mrs. Fussell was to assist you in consequence of the failure of U.S. Bank, you proceed "If my father and my Wife's mother when I entered on [?] would not lend me enough to buy [land/sand?] with, and when I was burnt out in the middle of winter my few things burnt or partly destroyed all the assistance I received was 40 dollars and 50 cents. I did not myself feel I was used right then neither do I now. I never. I did not like doing alms before men, nor did I think it necessary that he should be made acquainted with the manner I got the money to pay the bank with, not but I would sooner. Mr. Sewell should know the work men; but he must wait till I can get more [Branches?], I will then try and pay him myself if I sell my little stock to do it."

Now all this is very inconsiderate of you: -your mind seems perfectly oblivious of the past, do permit me to refresh your memory. When you went upon "Cold Springs," I had money out at interest which brought me in $129.00 per annum. All this was called in and $175 of the last half year of Wright's rent over and above on account of the expenses of the Farm. I received for 8 long years very little rent, not enough to pay the interest of the sums loaned and expended, so that I may say the farm paid me nothing. During that time illness compelled me to resign my pastorate. By these untoward circumstances I was deprived of two thirds of my income. I wished to leave Newmarket. I had not sufficient means to live elsewhere; As your farm was well stocked and you had informed me you were not in debt except your ordinary store bills and wages to one of your hands and so little had been done for years I wrote to you for assistance, put before you the necessity of your doing something towards lessening your indebtedness to me. I received in reply from your wife "that it was impossible for Alfred to send me any money, that I should receive a letter next week." This promise was kept I did receive a lengthy document, carefully and deliberately written by Charlotte and signed by yourself, containing so much offensive misrepresentation, that to avoid a gravel I did not reply to it. I felt convinced that I was helplessly in the hands of my son-That I must receive only what he pleased to give me-when he pleased, or nothing if he pleased! You did in April send me a half year's rent $200.00 the last money I received from you though you remained 2 years longer on the Farm. Before that time However had elapsed I received a communication from Charlotte informing me that you were in great difficulties that you must sell some of your stock to pay your debts,-that if a sale was forced you would not have enough to go even upon a small town, -that when she expressed her desire that you having paid your debts, should remain on "Cold Springs," you became angry said she was as bad as others, that she wished you to do impossibilities,-that you must go on a smaller farm, and to make you do this you requested me to relinquish my claim, and if I would do so you would ask no more money from me. I complied with your request for I saw you could not succeed on Cold Springs. I was not then aware that a reckless speculation was the main cause of your difficulties. I never think but with grief that two of my sons having lived separately for years, on a farm in quality second to none in the county of [Brant??]can't not succeed upon it, but became so insolvent that to satisfy their conditions they had to sell their stock, and their father relinquish his claims. Thus have I been twice greatly impoverished, and alas! My sons have not thereby been benefited. I however hold myself guiltless in these matters for neither of my sons ever sought my advice, or followed it when given gratuitously.

I am exceedingly sorry to be compelled to write this to you, but I think it right to correct your misapprehension. You went to the States without my knowledge, I did not know the result of your sale or even that it had taken place till your wife sent me a newspaper several days after, yet when informed by her that you were ill I forwarded $26.00 to bring you home and $20.00 more before you left Cold Springs. Then you applied to me for the loan of $90.00 to buy and I could only send you $50 for very painful reason that I had done all that I could, I had only retained for myself [14.11 on??] a dollar. When you were burnt out in December I did not know it till informed by Mr. Sewell, I then immediately sent you $20.00, and soon after a second $20 informing you of my inability to do more as I had to send to my widowed sister the half yearly sum [I had?] promised her. What you received from others I know not but you have received from [one/me??] $130.00 whith not the other remittances made [?] greatly constitute a very considerable item to be taken from a small income.

I am really at a loss to understand why you should be so displeased that Mr. Sewell should know that assis- [sic] came from me. I am sure he is as good, probably a better man than Hugh Wright, yet you were not displeased with me for his informing me in your [permision?] that he had your note for $100.00 and asked would I pay it? I doubted him immediately to give [??] in past payment of rent, and on handing it to you, you received it very pleasantly and defaced it. If there was no wrong then, what is the wrong now?

You do "not like doing alms before men." Nor do I, as a general rule it is improper-and I assure you that I do not consider anything I have sent you as alms, but as kind helps to which you are heartily welcome. And I do further assure you that it grieves me greatly that I should be compelled by my son to make the forgoing statements to clear my character from misrepresentation. I wish I could stop here but you go on "when I heard my children crying for a piece of bread to eat with this invitation I thought my mother would have said 'send him the other thirty, it will do us no harm, he worked hard for us many a day he has soon to provide for with his own hands, we always had something coming in and found it hard then, it is only doing work other as you would be done by': I do not feel inclined to beg for Mr. Sewell when I wrote not when I heard my children crying for bread and could but give them a potato?"

Of course you intend the forgoing as a keen reflection on your father, and possibly upon more I will endeavor to reply to it. A short time after I sent you the $50.00, I received a letter from Charlotte informing me, not that you or your children wanted bread, but that your hired man had left you taking his [ofer??] with him, that you were therefore in great trouble and wished me to lend you $30.00. I informed you I could not comply with your request for though I had obtained the interest upon the money I had out at we got as it was little more than half what you required and I had some time to wait before I could obtain my retired pay, and still [?] the merchant in where [??] all my available funds had been unable to meet the claims of his [condt?] at the proper time and that they had granted him thirty months to liquidate his debts and that I had been compelled to fall in with that arrangement.-Your mother was a noble woman I shall ever cherish her memory with fond affection. She would doubtless have striven to the uttermost to assist either of her children, but as I never knew her by a wish to be able to double her finance I do not so far deemed it her understanding as to suppose she could if prevent have told me to send you $30.00 when she will know we had in our possession only half that sum, and that our means of increasing it has been securly cut off-Nor do I know how she could have said "He worked hard for us many a day," for she knew that I had always worked hard late and early to maintain my family, and that the income of the pastorate was always added to that from the government for their support. Withal we "found it hard" I admit, chiefly because our efforts were very indifferently [seconded??] by our children. -So hard indeed did we feel it that that devoted mother under the pressure of circumstance, often said "When the farm is once paid for never shall you undertake such another affair by my consent." Alas! There was [heavy??] trail after her decease.

Your children you heard cry for bread. Is not this exaggeration? Can it be possible that in your hearing they cried with hunger and they were permitted to suffer it when their Mother's mother and Mother's brother was within a few moments walk of them? Or did Charlotte apply to them, and they were deaf to her entreaties? I cannot think so, but that you unreasonably and unconventionally refused their aid, in like manner as you have [equate??] mine.

If your statement was also intended as a minted reflection on her who so well supplies the plan of your loved mother, it was most ungenerously and very[worthy?] bestowed. His money willingly handed over to me time and again relived me and mine from otherwise insurmountable difficulties-It largely contributed to pay off the last installment due upon "Cold Springs"-It largely aided John when at [Dr. Rolph's??] Medical School, and also did much to clear his way at the [University/Ministry??]-Last not least you had $312.00 of it to enable you to purchase a span of horses when you were going on Cold Springs. My son, you should not "throw about firebrands"

I am not aware that any person has required you to beg for Mrs. Sewell, of this I am certain I have not. I understood from Mr. Sewell you were dangerously ill and your rent unpaid. He spoke kindly and respectfully of you; and I promptly and kindly [though?] [unsolicited?] proffered you aid, and you promptly and uncourteously refused it. I sincerely hope the result of your conduct will not be that your children again "cry for bread"

"I cannot help thinking, you write, your remarks on my finger and the word on your doctor were not dictated by kindness or good tastes." Had you, my son, been in good humor you would not have so misconstrued my language. As to your finger I replied to that change before-As to the second and more serious charge [imparting?] your medical attendant you can if you please, show what I wrote to Dr. [Dipon?], I merely stated to you that Mrs. Parks had tried Whiskey without effect and had discontinued it, that I and Mary had used Cod-liver oil with considerable benefit, and I may never add that on account of illness since I last wrote you I have again had reason to it with benefit, that spirits were injurious to the liver, but that I did not, nor do I now, dispute the wisdom of your Doctor, he must know your complaint much better than I could even were I a physician so far away from you.-In speaking of your house you say I feel I shall not want one long. In this I hope you are mistaken, and that you will be long spared [?] an a [?] to your family. With such a feelings I deeply deplore the state of your mind for if I may judge of it by the tone of your letter you are ill at ease in yourself and not very such pleased with others. I pray God to relieve you from such uncomfortable feelings raise you up again to health and well-being. That you will forever by this [??] that you have [?] me. I forgive you and pray that God and mine from my heart and pity in his mercy may bestow on you and yours every [?] blessing both fortune and eternity. With kind [?] to you, Charlotte and family in which Mrs. Baker unites, I am my dear for your affectionate father Thomas Baker.

1 For more information about the ongoing financial troubles of James Alfred Baker see W2960, especially the footnote, W2957, W2964, W3013.

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