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Title: Stewart, Frances to Beaufort, Harriet, 1824
CollectionRevisiting Our Forest Home, The immigrant letters of Frances Stewart [J. L. Aoki]
SenderStewart, Frances
Sender Genderfemale
Sender Occupationhousewife
Sender Religionunknown
OriginDouro Township, Newcsatle District, Upper Canada
RecipientBeaufort, Harriet
Recipient Genderfemale
Relationshipfriends (ex-pupil - ex-governess)
Doc. No.
Partial Date
Doc. Type
Word Count2019
Genrefamily life, life in the colonies
Transcript1824: January 27 and February 5
To Harriet Beaufort, Ireland

Douro, Jan. 27, 1824

My dear Harriet,

I began a long letter to Louisa on New years day which I have never
yet had time to finish from some unforeseen circumstances which have
added a good deal to my domestic employments, & which make it necessary
that I should now begin this new sheet to you without waiting to
finish hers. Well then I must begin regularly & tell you my circumstances
which are these. My paragon Betty, the maid who was so useful & such
a treasure, has turned out (like all other paragons) to be a most abominable little animal & has left me against our consent & after pouring
out such a heap of the most abusive lies as you could never imagine any
one could invent. I have found that she has been for months deceiving
me. I need not enter into the detail of her artifice & ingratitude but will
proceed to state my necessities to you, in hopes that you may in some
time send me the remedy. Here I am without any maid. I cannot in this
busy country get a servant girl without paying wages much too high for
our means, as the lowest wages given are from 4 to 5 dollars a month, or
£12 or £15 a year. So I must do without one till you or some one else can
send me out two little girls. I should like to have 2 if possible as I can
find abundant employment for them. I wish to have the oldest not more
than 14 or 15 years old, but strong for that age & healthy, clean & good
humoured. I should wish that they had never been at service & should be
unacquainted with the ways of servants. Perhaps you might find such as I
want at some school. 1 should like that she should know how to spin well,
for spinning will in a short time become one of our household employments.
Indeed spinning & washing are the only accomplishments that I
am particularly anxious these girls should have, for cooking, baking &c I
can easily teach them after they come. As for needle work I don't expect
them to do much but if they are good workers it will be no objection. I
should like to have them bound to me for 4 or 6 years. They should be bound in Ireland & I can have indentures drawn up & signed here likewise.
Perhaps Mrs. Stewart or Mrs. Wilson might know of a family going
who would take charge of them.
Your Sept'r letters reached me last month so I may reasonably soon
expect more. I hope you had Mrs. B. & Lu. with you at Christmas. Ours
passed cheerfully & our new year begins pleasantly. At least we have no
reason to think that our expectations of success will not be realised, but
we find that everything must go on "step by step" as you used to say to me,
& we do not raise our expectations too high. I believe when I last wrote in
Dec'r Tom was just going to Cobourg by the new road. He found it rather
a tedious journey as his sleigh was drawn by oxen & the new road was so
bad that he was all the first day going 9 miles. It was Saturday. That night he slept at an old highlander the husband of my femme sage, as he took the old lady home with him. They live within 2 miles of Mr Rubidge's &
on Sunday Tom went there & spent the night & day there. Tom reached
Cobourg quite safely & crossed Rice Lake in his sleigh for the first time.
He returned in Mr. Henrys sleigh as far as Rice Lake & it left him on the
other side of it where he was to wait till his own [ ] sleigh came up. This
was so slow that he waited & walked about on the lakeshore for a long
time, Si then he thought he would go back part of the way across the lake
& listen if they were coming. When he had proceeded some way from
the shore one of those sudden thick snow showers came on which you
sometimes have at home accompanied by high wind. Poor Tom could
not see land on any side nor could he hear any sound to direct him which
way to steer his course. He was surrounded by an atmosphere of snow &
the wind was most intensely cold. He tied down the ears of his cap & buttoned his coat tight round him & tried to gain an island which he knew
was near. At last he became uneasy for he did not know where he was,
or how to find his way back, & he was growing too cold for pleasure. In
this very uncomfortable situation he was considering what to do, when
he thought he heard some one call out. He lifted up his cap & distinctly
heard a call which he answered & very soon a man came up to him &
told him that Major Anderson (who lives on this side of the lake) begged
he would come to his house as he would certainly perish if he staid out.
He very kindly sent his sleigh out for Tom & brought him safely to Terra Firma once more. Major A. did not know where the person was, he had
just distinguished a figure & guessed that it was some poor passenger
who had lost his way. He was very kind and hospitable. Tom soon saw
his own equipage arrive & he proceeded to Mr. Rubidge's where he slept
& came home safe & sound next day, heartily tired of his oxen sleigh & of
the new road, which was so badly made that no horse sleigh can come up
here without great difficulty for in consequence of the snow & frost there
are many trees lying across the road uncut. I mean by this very confused
sentence that in consequence of the snow, the men could not cross cut
the logs which had fallen across the road & every sleigh has to jolt over
them. Some of them are I daresay 2 or 3 feet in diameter. These nice little
jolts we called Hop overs, & they are very common I hear in the roads
thro' the woods. But indeed the best of our "Bush" roads scarce deserve
the name for they are but paths.
I am sure you are in misery about me now, my dear Mamma's &
think I am killing myself with all sorts of hard work now that I am without
a maid. But you need not be uneasy for I do not indeed do anything
more than my ordinary business, or at least nothing fatiguing. Mr. & Mrs.
Reid have very kindly given me their eldest daughter Mary & she is very
good natured & know how to do every [sic]. She is excessively anxious
poor little girl to save me & is always trying to get everything before me,
that I may have nothing to do but nurse my "Papousie." Maria, besides
sends the servant girl here every Monday to wash, so you can see I am
well off only that I feel quite ashamed to let poor Mary do all Betty's work & I know it must be very inconvenient to Maria to give her to me, & it
must continue for so many months, before any of your little girls could
come. But both she & Mr. Reid are very good natured & assure me they
are very glad that Mary should be here. She cooks & cleans the kitchen
& washes the eating utensils. I bake & make the beds & sweep the twp_
rooms, which with my care of the little buntling & my constant supply
of needle work fill up every moment of every day, & at this moment
I am sitting up waiting for my bread to be baked & taking advantage
of the silent midnight hour to write to you my dear. I generally read
a little to myself while I am nursing babe, the only time I have now to
read. Sometimes I get a good deal of time for this indulgence as she has not yet taken any thing except what I could offer her & consequently is
very often with me. She thrives fairly & is strong & fat & sleeps well in
general. She has been my bedfellow since her birth & I have taken the
entire care of her since she was a week old. It seemed very odd to me at
first & I trembled every day when I was washing & dressing such a tiny
creature, but now I am become quite expert & am a very good nurse. She
was vaccined on Sunday when our little Doctor paid us a passing visit.
He improves on acquaintance very much & we like him better every time
he comes. I have really told you all my occupations so don't be uneasy
for constant employment is very good for me. The servant boy who we
brought with us was very bad, idle & impudent & at last ran away, but
in a month he came back & is now much better & is improved in many
ways. He carries in all the water for our cookings & washing, cleans the
pans & kettles & makes up fires & when we want assistance in lifting any
heavy thing, he & his master are always near & willing to help us. I never
half thanked you my dear for all your delightful presents which are &
were & will be most useful. They were just in time for my Papousie who
has some frocks of the pink gingham & nightcaps &c of the longcloth.
Tom admires the bombazine very much. Even the linen covering of the
box was most useful for [ ] which we cannot get even tolerable here. The
books are wonderful comfort not only to us but to many others, for Mr.
Rubidge & Dr. Hutchison have borrowed many from us.
Wed. Feb. 5, V* before 12. Tom goes to Cobourg tomorrow & he must
have this to put in the post office. I wrote the former part when I was
fast asleep. Our winter has on the whole been remarkably fine & mild so
far. We have had very cold nights once or twice but till within this week
nothing like last winter & we have had a great deal of thawing weather,
very unusual here & not so pleasant I think as the clear frosty weather.
However I think we shall have some real frosty Canadian weather now,
for the ther'r has not been many degrees above zero this week, & is now
16° below zero. But the days are sunny & pleasant & we have fine fires.
We have 2 cows going to calve so we shall have a fine store of butter &
milk for spring. There is no danger of our being exposed to the miseries
described by Capt'n Franklin in this "most deplorable of all climates" as
he calls it. I envy you all those interesting books & having time to read them. Oh! I am become a famous Tailor! I have just made up a nice pair
of frieze pantaloons for Tom & am to make him a waistcoat of the same
materials. I think then he will be a complete Paddy. He is so fond of this
frieze that he is determined to have a whole suit of it & it is very comfortable in this climate. I think next year we must get a piece or two out & a pair of good blankets & some linen sheeting, but at present we could not compass it. Good night & may God bless all my dearly loved mama's, pray your own child — F.S.