|Stewart, Frances to Beaufort, Harriet, 1848
|Revisiting Our Forest Home, The immigrant letters of Frances Stewart [J. L. Aoki]
|Douro Township, Newcsatle District, Upper Canada
|friends (ex-pupil - ex-governess)
|news, family life
|1848: July 2923
To [Harriet Beaufort], Ireland
Auburn Thursday 29th July 1848
My own darling H. Good news! good pens! new paper! new Ink, new ink
bottle, & many other nice things! I have the pleasure of telling you that
my Box arrived here in safety on Tuesday evening & all its contents have
been examined & admired. And now I must try and express to you & my
other dear friends how truly & heartily grateful I am to all who contributed to the valuable contents of that same box, but all I can say seems to come far short of what I wish to say. All seems too cold, for my heart is full of love & thankfulness. I have also many messages from those who were so kindly thought of in this most acceptable & well chosen collection of useful & pretty things! — but all seem to centre in my breast
because it is for my sake that you all shew such kindness to my children.
As usual the Box was tedious in its passage from Montreal where it
arrived on the 16th of June, but having been detained above ten days at
Port Hope (only a days journey from this) it did not reach me till 25th
July. I had almost given up hopes of having it even so soon as the steamboat from Peterboro & Rice Lake had met with an accident. William had
gone into Peterboro Tuesday & fortunately took the waggon. Just as he
was leaving town he heard the steamboat bell & thought of going to see
if it was there.
At the landing place he met Charles Dunlop who did not know that
Willy was in town & was just coming here with my box. Was he not kind.
So Willy soon got it on board his waggon & drove off. Edward also
had gone to Peterboro that evening & had left Bessie here till he came
back. So it happened nicely that she could see the box opened & take her
own share of the goods home with her. Well, about 8 oclock in the evening, Bessie, Ellen Duffield & I were sitting at work at the drawing room window when we heard wonderful shouting & cheering on the road & presently saw two waggons coming along at a tearing rate. I knew the hindmost was Edward's. He & George had gone together & both were dressed in dark clothes. But the foremost waggon had 3 men in it, all without their coats, & one had his hat off & roared & cheered loudest of all.
The horses were galloping at a furious rate & I concluded they
were some of our neighbours who too often return from town drunk
& very noisy. But these people turned in & galloped straight up to the
Henry & Kate ran to open the gate for they saw before I did who
they were & what the cause of the noise was. They flung open all the
gates & cried out The Box! The Box! & the first waggon galloped round
the house & stopped at the veranda opposite the little parlour window.
Then I discovered the reason but I was nearly breathless with fright for
I was sure some accident would happen. I found the three men were
Will'm, Mr. Fowlis & Frank whom they had picked up on the road & he
had jumped up on the box wh' made him higher than the rest. The heat
& excitement had made them throw off their coats. The poor horses too
were equally excited & tried to run off before they had the box out of the
waggon but no one was hurt fortunately. No time was lost in removing
the tarpaulin covering but we did not take off the lid till W'm & Edward
had put their horses, as every man is his own groom here, & till John &
Charley had come in from the hay field where they were still working.
In about 20 minutes all were collected & the box was brought into the
parlour & put by the window. W'm opened it & handed out the contents.
Many ready hands were stretched to receive each article & lay it on the
table where Bessie & I were standing to receive them.
Shirts, sheets, shoes, parcels, bundles, boxes — all were laid on the
table, but not in silence I assure you. You never heard such gabbling &
exclaiming, such running & tramping backwards & forwards. But in the
midst of all, we all & each felt bitterly the blank there was! the loss of one who was ever foremost in the pleasure of opening the Dublin box! We
could not help feeling a pang in the midst of our joy. Anna & Ellen too & their husbands were always here before but
this time we could not manage to have them as it is now quite a piece
of [business] to fetch Anna & her 3 chicks & their maid all up & she
cannot leave them at home and as Ellen has no servant at present she
could not come. Bessie, however, was on this occasion the person most
concerned having so large a share in the property. So we decided to
proceed without delay.
Bessie's sheets, shifts &c were laid on one end of the sofa & mine on
the other & all the parcels on the table to be opened. Bessie & Ed'd were
of course much delighted & overpowered with admiration & gratitude
Indeed they w'd be heartless creatures if they were not but they have
hearts that can feel & appreciate the kindness of such friends. Everything
was so nice, good & beautiful & handsome, useful & substantial of their
It was late as you may suppose when all were taken out & opened but
the Browns were obliged to go home, late as it was, as Edward was to be
out at his hay field at five in the morning. So we put back the nice bonnet
& black silk & scarves & shawl & all the small things of Bee's into the tin
box & put it & the larger articles into the large box. Edward fastened the
lid & put it into his waggon. He next put in his little wifey & then drove
off. There was so much hurry I only had a sight of Bessie's nice things
but they have invited me to go as soon as I can to spend days with them
& look over everything quietly.
The beautiful writing case was a most unexpected present & a most
useful one indeed. It is a very handsome one & just what they particularly
wanted as neither of them had any desk or box to keep papers or
writing materials in & this [answers] for both so well. It was indeed very
kind of dear Louisa to think of it. I am sure Bessie will write her own
thanks for every thing better than I can. I have not seen any of the things
which were inside of it yet. Thank dear Lou too for the [B-] dress. It is
exceedingly pretty & cool & light for summer.
The bonnet fits Bessie very well. She says it is the most comfortable
fit she ever had. It looks nice & the ribbon is very handsome. Thank you
my dear for that & the other pretty things, the [ ] shirt &c &c. But I have
only seen them as yet by candlelight. The Black silk seems very nice & a good one I think the material for my dress beautiful. It is so soft & fine. I must have it made by a dress maker to do it justice. Was the beautiful Shetland scarf for Bessie — it is not on the list.
W'm is greatly pleased with his knife & [ ] which he says are capital
& he is truly thankful for them.
George has been in quite a fever of expectation about his treasures
& you never saw a boy so delighted as he is. The beautiful box of instruments & the books too! the exact kind he wanted! He says he is quite
made up now. From the time his books & box were taken out he had
no eyes, ears or interest for anything else. He sat looking at them & the
books & I could hardly get him to bed at half past twelve oclock
I must now come to my own share & thank you dearest for the Books
The numbers of Chambers Miscellany are a delightful addition to our
own stock. We have now twenty volumes complete, a nice library. I gave
them to Willy as a Birthday present each year as they came. Kate has been busy reading Uncle Sam’s money box & Henry has taken a fancy
to Orlandino so I think I must give it to him for he is a very good little
fellow & deserves a little present now & then. They all seem to prize any
thing sent from home as peculiar treasures. I have not had time to look
into any of them yet.
You asked if you had sent me Sir Walter Raleighs life but it has never
come. Thanks for the black stockings. The cotton ones are very nice &
the silk ones guite a luxury. We can't get any such things here unless
we pay extravagantly for them & even then so badm mere cobwebs. We
can only get worsted which are too warm for summer so those are most
acceptable & so are the black gloves & thank you for this nice paper, wafers, envelopes & the lozenges & the brown stick which I am sure is good for coughs. It is so like old [Danesous] lozenges.
Thanks thanks thanks to all dear friends for all & to Maria Noble
too for the nice little pen knife which I was really in want of. It is hard
to meet with good cutlery here. I think I could fill sheet after sheet in
thanking my kind friends & saying how much pleased I am with every
flung but I must write my thanks separately to my other friends another
day. This is Friday 28th. Yesterday I was annoyed at being interrupted in this letter but it was very well for I had your letter in the evening of the 7th of July, only 20 days from the date.
I have been very comfortable for some time past as Ellen Duffield
saves me all trouble in household affairs & I have more time for quiet
enjoyment, She is no needle worker so she does not assist me in that
way but I have very little work now compared to former times. Alas!
the numbers of those I worked for are much decreased & the quantities
of made up things sent out the last two years from home have helped