|Stewart, Frances to Parr Traill, Catharine, 1869
|Revisiting Our Forest Home, The immigrant letters of Frances Stewart [J. L. Aoki]
|Goodwood, Upper Canada
|Gore's Landing, Ontario, Canada
|Parr Traill, Catharine
|family, family life
|1869: July 21
To Catharine Parr Traill, "Clinton Atwoods, Esq're, near Gores
21st July 1869
My Dearest Mrs. Traill
Some weeks I have been intending to write to dear Annie to enquire how
you have been since your journey down there but many adverse causes have
come to present me from doing so. I grieve to say we have scarcely been free from anxiety and illness in our family since winter but as this must be a letter more of a business nature than one of domestic details I will at once proceed to the business department. This days post brought me a letter from my friend Mr. Edgeworth with some queries about plants which I think you can answer better than I can & also a commission to procure some seeds of the Pitcher Plant (Sarracenia Purpurea) and also seeds of the Sugar Maple.
He has written all his questions & directions on a separate paper
which I will enclose that you may see exactly what he wants as they are
for his friend Dr. Aitcheson who is anxious to introduce them into the
Himalaya District for cultivation & who is to leave England in Oct'r for
India, so that it is necessary if possible to have the package dispatched
about the middle of Sept'r, not later as he did not say what time in Oct'r
Dr. A. was to sail, but probably about the 1st.
I dare say you may be able to procure these seeds for me as you are
more in the habit of business of that kind than I am. I don't know if the
seeds will be ripe so soon but I look to you dear Friend for all necessary
information as well as the best way to pack them up secure from damp
&c &c. They want such a large quantity that I don't know where it can
be procured or found in such abundance but you or dear Kate will I am
sure let me know all particulars as soon as you can as I wish to answer his
letter & enquiries as soon as possible. Any expense there may be I shall
pay so let me know.
I long to hear how you have been since your removal to the Plains.
The air there always seemed to agree with you so much better than Lakefield and you always enjoy so much being with dear Annie and
Mr. Atwood. I hope soon to hear from you for tho' I may have appeared
to have been idle about writing, I have constantly had you & your dear
daughters in my mind & close to my heart, but really I am grown so slow
& stupid that letter writing is now quite a task to me & my hand is grown
so weak & shaky that sometimes I can scarcely write legibly. But I hope
you will make allowance for all faults & deficiencies.
Ever since this year began we have been from one trouble to another
& have had illness in our family. Dear Kate you know was for many weeks
in a very low state, all March & into April. Since that dear Mary Brown
has fallen into a very delicate state from having grown so rapidly. The
Drs. think her spine is a good deal affected & also the lungs & heart. Dr.
McNab has taken a very warm interest in her case & has her frequently
staying in his house that he may study the case & use the treatment he
finds best for her. She is not allowed to pursue her studies at school or to do anything in fact but to be as much out in the air as possible. Nothing can exceed the kindness she receives from all who know her. She is now staying at the McNabs & is better I hear. But we have a much deeper
source of anxiety & sorrow in the illness of Henry's wife dear Georgina
who has been laid down now for 7 weeks with a large inward tumour
which began beneath the liver but now extends to the back & has been
most painful & exhausting & the Drs. McNab & Burritt who are with her
every day have given up hopes of her recovery. Yet the last two days she
has appeared a degree stronger & more alive than she had been for three
weeks past but we cannot depend much on this for the great trial will
come when this abscess breaks & discharges which will we fear exhaust
her small supply of strength. She is quite kept up by the nourishment she
takes every hour, & sometimes sickness & other symptoms appear which
are most alarming at the time, but she has got over.
My dearest Friend. I began this letter yesterday & wrote [ ] under many
difficulties. Now my time is short for I have been detained by visitors calling even fho' it is early & I expect to hear every moment that my Grandson or Bessie are come to take me home. I have been spending a very happy time for a week with dear Anna who desires me to be sure & give her love to you, Kate & Annie. She has heard three times from Fan, once from
Ireland [where] she spent her first week with my sister and visited that
wonderful place, the Giants Causeway, & twice from Scotland. She has
been introduced to several of her relatives & was at a grand wedding of
one of her cousins where there were 120 persons present & at a Dejeaner
on the occasion. She writes in good spirits & seems to like all her friends.
I have had three visitors since I began this page & my hand shakes so
much that I can hardly guide my pen. I am afraid you will find it rather a
rambling production, for my brains seem all confused, having been so long
living so very much alone as I have lately at Goodwood & plunging at once
into Society & meeting so many old friends seems almost to bewilder me.
I had intended to write to Annie but I think I must wait till I am
again in my quiet corner at Goodwood. Pray give her my fond love &
kiss the dear children. I don't forget that I am in debt to dear Kate who
wrote me a kind letter before you left Lakefield. I also wish to write to
Jane Bird but not feeling sure of her whereabouts I have waited thinking
I would write to Annie Dalye to enquire how they all were. But the illness
of my dear daughter & having now the care of her baby, a dear boy of 16
months old, have taken up my time so much that I could not sit down to
write to anyone till now that this commission from Mr. Edgeworth has
made it necessary to apply to you my dear Friend for assistance as you
are much more accustomed & more capable of such business than I am.
I find I must stop. I have written the last few lines when two young
friends were talking to me & scarcely know what I am doing. Hoping it
may not cause you any extra trouble or inconvenience & that you will
pardon my so far encroaching on your kindness & patience.
I promised dear Anna to come to keep her company when her sons
& Fanny had left her in her loneliness but dear Georgina's illness & having
the Baby with us prevented me for some time. But lately two young
ladies, the Misses Holland, have been with us & they are so fond of our
baby they promised to take care of him while I spent a few days with dear
old Anna which is such a treat to me.
Dear Kate Brown has not been as strong as I would desire since the
summer. I can't complain of the hot weather for it has been but a few days.
But she has been obliged to let her maid go home to help her parents some time ago & has not since been able to hear of one. They cannot be had hereabouts and she is quite unable for the work of her household with that great heavy child on her hands constantly, for he is restless & fretful & she has not been well. I feel very anxious about her & also about dear Annie Stewart who is now in daily expectation of her confinement, the 8th! Did you know John is away in the States? He is well & she hears from him every fortnight.
Tommy is now settled with a farmer near his Uncle & seems very happy.
I must stop, dearest Mrs. Traill. Forgive this scrawl & never doubt
the fond love for you & all your belongings. Your affect' friend,