W3039 TO REV. THOMAS BAKER from his sister Sarah Pike
Sep 30 1873
To: Rev. Thomas Baker
From: 5 Clinger Street, High Street, Hoxton, London, England
My very dear Brother
I trust this will find you Mrs. Baker and all the family in health. I saw Mrs. Gorham last week and was pleased to hear from her that you are all well, stick at Toronto, thanks for the kind message in her letter, I spent last Wednesday with her, after dinner we walked to Highgate cemetery, it was a fine day and I enjoyed it very much. Mrs. G. desires me to say she is very pleased with Mrs. Baker's letter, and desires her love to you all.
My dear Brother I think I told you in my last letter that I thought of visiting Portsmouth, I received 2 pressing invitations from our cousins William and Louisa Strickland, and as I could have the house very comfortably I resolved on taking the advantage of the Excursion Trains, so I took a Ticket for eighteen days, which only cost me seven shillings is not this cheap travelling? Our cousins were very glad to see me, and they treated me very kindly, but they were so afflicted that I cannot enjoy being there, William has had bad legs for four years, and unable all that time to walk out of doors, he says they are comparatively well, to what they have been, there are five holes in the right foot and by now, his body has grown immensely stout, he appears to me to be Dropsical. Louisa has something the matter with her legs which causes her much pain, the doctor says it is a complaint of the sinus of the legs owing to too much standing. They are living in a very nice old fashioned House in Cumberland street, William bought it about five years ago, it is very nicely furnished, and they have every thing to make them very comfortable, but they have not health to enjoy it.
S. has a complaint of the Lungs that he dares not ride out in the north or north east winds, he always wears a respirator when he goes out, I think he will not live long, but I do not know the state of his mind he told me not to say any thing to him about religion, for he would not allow any one to talk to him on that subject for it was a matter between God and himself and no one has any thing to do with it besides. I often noticed that he seemed to be praying. He would look up and his lips move for some time but I never heard a sound, he seems to be very sober and moral in his conduct now and he speaks very much against the doings he once delighted in. I remarked that he did not always think so, he said I was right, but that now he could see it. and that if he had his time over again he would act very different, poor Louisa is quite a slave to him, she says she thinks no one ever had such a life as hers, always so much to do with sickness she is very deaf, she is more careful and saving than her Brother likes, they do not spend all their income. The [?] cost them a great deal of money, he calls twice and sometimes three times a Week, William has forty pounds a year from the Dockyard, and he disposed of his House and Business in Queen Street for an annuity for both lives for the same amount, he has 2 free hold Houses of his own now, besides some money in the Bank, he told me had made his Will and left me a Legacy of one hundred pounds but I do not think I shall ever have it, for I think Louisa is a much stronger person than I am, and although she is 2 years older than my self I think she will outlive me.
I went to the cemetery 3 times had the stones set upright, and washed, the man said it would not want any thing doing now for 2 years, it is a comfort to me having seen to it.
I drank tea with Aunt Betsy, she looks remarkably well, says she has nothing the matter with her only rather deaf. William Garnett told me she is nearly ninety years old, she seems very forlorn, her favourite niece with whom she went to reside after John's death, Elizabeth Garnett. Mrs. Ellis has been dead 2 years, Mr. Ellis, has so lost the power of articulation, through Paralytic seisure [sic] that she cannot understand a word he says, his eldest daughter is married, and the next eldest lives with her married sister, so there was only the youngest girl and two boys at home she says she is very dull, and her brother is seldom out of her thoughts, she told me his affairs were in Chancery and that the Lawyers expenses already amounts to fifteen hundred pounds and she could not tell how much more it would be, she said they had wasted a deal of money in unnecessary advertisements in the American and Canadian papers for Sarah Baker they wished to know if she was living, and when they were told she was dead, they would not believe it unless they could tell when she died, and where she was buried, she said it was dreadful to think how poor John's hard earnings and savings were being wasted, Joseph Orange is dead also Mary Ann his sister who was to have an annuity for her life out of the Estates, so there was only the Garnetts George and William and Marshall to divide it among. Mr. Smithers is living and he was to have a considerable amount. All the property is sold and I have heard that it did not sell for near the amount the family expected.
She inquired for you and the family I took her a piece of Mary's Wedding Cake, she was delighted with it, and said she wished her much happiness. I told her how Wilkes was married and that he is a Pappa, she sighed deeply, shook her head, she was silent for a few minutes and then said, I have given four hundred and fifty pounds to the little Chapel people say I have done wrong but Mr. [?] would say I have done right, I asked her, if she thought she had done right! she replied I often think I have given too much, but it is done I did not reply.
The young man who purchased Uncle Johns Business is in a Lunatic Asylum people say he was disappointed in the business Betsy asked me what your sons had done with their Legacies, I told her what Thomas did with his, she was much pleased said that was turning it to your account. I told how John had purchased some property and I supposed that helped to complete the purchase, she then asked for Alfred, I told her he was very affected and had had much trouble and I thought the Doctors had had a great deal of his money, she said she thought they all had made good use of it, and she hoped that those who would have larger legacies would make as good use of it, but she feared it, she told me John left her his furniture and plate, but that she had but a very small portion of it, only 6 tea spoons and the silver salver that was presented to him by the committee of the county. She said that they had been to her about the furniture, but she would not let them know of the spoons and salver and when they questioned her about the plate she told them to search for themselves, they valued her furniture even to the old blue chimney ornaments, which used to be in the dining room in Queen Street. She received me very graciously, indeed more affectionately than I ever knew her, said that she should have been much hurt if she had heard I had been down and had not have come to see her, at a former interview she as good as told me, she never wanted to see me again but I cannot help thinking her conscience is not quite at rest about your family.
My dear Brother I felt pleased to go out it was a change for me, but I cannot tell you how glad I was to get home again, I felt grateful to you for taking care of me in travelling when there are so many accidents and bringing me home in safety, and grateful to my friends for their kindness to me formally they did their best for my comfort, but I did count the days to come home, the town is so changed, and almost every lady that I once knew are [sic] dead.
King Street Chapel is much changed Mr. Thomas, a Welsh gentleman is the Minister now, small congregation, only four persons that I knew, there is a fine handsome new congregational church at Southsea, stylish congregation, Mr. Bust the Ironmonger in Queen Street is one of the Deacons, the Minister was from home! You will remember where the Dock Mill was situated on the common that is all built over now and this new chapel is near it, Turner the Draper has moved his business from Queen Street to this new Southsea as it is now called, Allnutt the Druggist and several others also, the houses are very large and handsome, fit for very superior inhabitants I went to the Gun Wharf and saw the Armoury. It is well worth seeing they are so bright, and so tastefully arranged, saw a great number of cannon, I had a desire to see the shape of the Woolwich Infant as it is called, it is a great unshapely, ugly thing, not half so good looking as the old cannon that used to grace the ramparts. It is not loaded at the muzzle but at the other end I hope they will never be wanted for use. The Portsea walls are nearly levelled a fine new Military Hospital is erected on Milldam, with a beautiful Terrace for the convalescents to walk on, Lion Gates are removed. The Draw Bridge taken away, and the Moat filled in. There are very great alterations in Portsmouth, great part of the ramparts are taken down, [?] Bridge done away with. It is said that Land front gates will be taken down, and all the gates, they are not necessary now.
I did not go alone, and I was not quite well during the time. I went to Ryde one day, great improvements there. While I was waiting on the Pier at Southsea for Mr. Ryder Packet. I saw an elderly Sailor looking man looking much at me, there was a good breeze so I asked this old Sailor if he thought there was any danger he said not the least, he said I know you ma'am, I said I think you are mistaken my friend, I am from London, he said I was born in the Buildings where your father used to land and a good man he was, he said you lived in Marlborough Row, but said that I cannot remember your name. I mentioned it he said that is it he then told me that his Mother was a Widow, and she used to send him out to kick up coals, that one day just as fathers Boat came ashore he met with an accident, got his foot crushed, father saw it, came to him asked if he had a Mother and where she lived and then ordered two of his sailors to carry him to his Mother, and father followed, and gave his Mother some money to go to the Doctors to get something for it, and afterwards he often called to inquire how he was getting on, and always gave him a penny, he said he was a good man, it was a pleasure to me to hear it, it gave me something to think of. Surely our "Works follow us". I am sure this will please you, he told me he had been at sea nearly all his life, he had got the highest Pension, that he had a good wife, and they kept a chandlers Shop at Southsea, and doing well, he has bad health owing to his being in India a great deal. Our old friend Mr. Whaler is living, looks very aged, he seems ripe for Heaven he says he has a longing desire to depart which he endeavours to check for he fears it is sinful, but his earthly desires seem too much for him, his son is without a situation has a large family which he has to almost support, his grandson to whom he gave up his soy business has failed, and appears to be in deep Consumption, he is married, and has two children, the old gentleman labours hard in the good Cause yet, he is the only resident Deacon of the Church in St. Marys Street, he conducts the Bible Class, visits the Sick, and teaches in the Sunday school, he will be greatly missed whenever the Lord sees fit to summon him, the New Congregational Church at new Southsea has almost emptied the Church at Portsmouth, the congregation was principally composed of families living at Southsea, I was told they could hardly keep up the Minister's salary.
There is also a great change at Buckland the old Chapel where I heard you preach first has a larger Bill on it, To be sold or let, at a little distance from it, the good people have erected a very [?] gothic Chapel the High Harbour is greatly enlarged, and improved, there are so many New Streets, New Villas, that some part of it is called New Buckland the Church is without a pastor at present, and Betsy told me that W. Garnett had tried hard to get his Son-in-Law in them, but the people know better than to have him.
I hope dear Mary and her husband are quite well, I shall be so glad when you can go to them, you must feel so lonely without her especially in the Winter, so I shall have gained some good by going out. I have so much to be thankful for, that I ought not to murmur because I am obliged to live alone and have so little society.
We have delightful weather, quite warm, coals are exceedingly dear. Best, 41 shillings per Ton, more than double the price they used to be, every thing very dear, I paid 11 pence a pound for Pork [?] to day. I hear we shall have coals sent us from America soon, my House is full, I am very comfortable health good at present but I dread the cold Weather Present my kindest love to Mrs. B. Mary and her husband and all the Boys and accept the same yourself.
May the Lord bless you all is the sincere prayer of your affectionate sister.