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Title: Stewart, Frances to Waller, Maria, 1847
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
DestinationAllenstown, Co. Meath Ireland
RecipientWaller, Maria
Recipient Genderfemale
Doc. No.
Partial Date
Doc. Type
Word Count2256
Genrelife in the colonies, family life
Transcript1847: May 5
To Mrs. Waller, Allenstown, Ireland

Auburn Wednesday Evening
5th May — 6 oclock

My own dear Aunt

Our early tea is over. Bessie has gone to her garden for a little while &
I will take the quiet time before all the labourers come in for their supper to tell you that last Friday I had the enjoyment of reading letters
from several dear friends dated 1 April.... What dreadful sickness there
is now. It seems quite as fatal as the starvation. Oh what a state that poor poor place is in!! I really fear the whole air of the island of Ireland will be polluted by the masses of putrefying bodies animals & also the rotten vegetables. I fear the pestilence may not be confined to those who have suffered from bad food, or no food, but that the very air they breath much be loaded with foulness. I sometimes wish all I love there were safe out here. But then I begin to recollect how very irksome a Canadian
life would seem to those who have been accustomed to elegance, ease &
refinement, How insupportable it would be to those who have lived in a
round of amusement or enjoyed intellectual or scientific society. What a
desolate wilderness it would seem to those who have enjoyed the privileges
of Christian conversation & intercourse with the Religious part of
the society at home, for alas! we have but little of that here. When I think of all these things I begin to find that I am selfish in wishing anyone to come here for few of my friends are not too well off at home not to make the change felt in some of the three ways I have mentioned, & yet does it not seem a contradiction to say that positively & truly I am as happy here as anybody need wish or expect to be in this world. I will even go farther & say that I do think I am much happier than most people I know
anywhere. In the first place I never have anything to do that is the least
fatiguing for my dear kind thoughtful husband never could bear to see
me exert myself & has always endeavoured to save me from the necessity
of doing anything that could hurt me & now my dear good children never
allow me to do anything but some very trifling part of the household
department & needlework or knitting. Not many have such thoughtful
affectionate husband & children. As for society or amusement I have lost
all relish for parties or anything of that sort & I am never at loss for variety for every hour there is so much going forward that there is constant change & movement going on. As for religious companionship I have
dear Mrs. Fowlis who is a treasure to us all & occasionally we have Mr. &
Mrs. Rogers & they refresh us delightfully. Then we have all your letters
& Mrs. Wilsons & some others which give us a fresh supply of interesting
matter every month besides all the books of which we read a small portion
every day, sometimes very small. But no day passes without some
serious or improving reading. Now have we not every thing to make
us happy? & we live so retired that we have nothing to do with politics
or Gossip or fashions or keeping up appearances which really in many
instances causes much trouble & plague. We always try to dress neatly &
to be clean & to have our tables decently & comfortably laid out & generally have a very plentiful supply of plain substantial wholesome food & what more ought we to require. We have now got abundance of oatmeal which for many years we never had at all & till now it was always very
difficult to procure. Now there are two good oat mills, one of them on
our own property, so we can always have it. We have also plenty of Indian
Meal & as both are liked, they use Indian Meal porridge for breakfast &
the oatmeal for supper. We have very substantial breakfasts as soon after
six oclock as all can be assembled. But as some are attending to horses or
cattle or pigs or fowl it is not easy to collect all to a moment. Then Tom
reads a portion of scripture & prayers. After that in come the smoking
Sepanne, the nice smiling potatoes, cold meat. Eggs, Toast Bread, butter,
2 large jugs of milk besides the tea pot &c & all set to work with much
energy according to their taste or fancy. But they don't waste any time
after it is over for all set off to their different employments & Bessie &
Kate carry out all the things & settle up the room & I sit at my reading
or knitting for a little while. The routine of work tho' simple is not at all monotonous now & sometimes I can't help wondering how Tom can go
on as he does keeping all going on in so many different departments
& thinking of such an extraordinary variety of different matters but he
never slackens or tires tho' he often looks weary & anxious. This is an
unusually backward season and every thing is some weeks later than
it ought to be. The ground was so lately covered with deep snow that
ploughing could not be done in low ground at all and consequently we
shall have but half the quantity of wheat sown which we otherwise w'd
have put in. However, we shall have enough for our own use tho1 none to
sell I fear, which is a loss as it will probably bring a good price next year having been too low in price for any profit last year.

Thursday morning - 10 oclock. Good morning my dearest Aunty.
Here is a most lovely day, warm & bright, the birds & insects & everything
seeming to rejoice. The vegetation has commenced & is making
rapid progress, the lilacs are all bursting into leaf, the grass growing
green & the forest trees all changing from the stiff wintry grey to a reddish tinge which will soon change to green.
We have had great difficulty in getting into Peterboro for some time
past. The bridge was ricketty & dangerous all through the winter but
at last gave way to the increasing force of the river which always rises
in spring & it was carried off one day. Fortunately no person was on it. Tho' horses were not able to cross it for a long time, yet people used to
walk over. Edward Brown had just come over & was not far on this side
when he heard it cracking & going off. There are boats for passengers to
get across but they are not well manned & the charge is too high. Our
boat here is not in good order so we are obliged to borrow one but these
difficulties will soon be over for some means of crossing must be established for the public. Our river has risen unusually high this year & has overflowed the banks to a great distance & has partially injured all the Mill, dams & races so that there is great plague about having flour but it will soon go down & these injuries will be repaired. My own dear Aunt
I think you have been much too generous in your contribution this year
for our box commissions. I assure you I feel it is wrong where you have
so many calls on your purse, so very urgent as they are this miserable
year but as it is done I must only try to express my thankfulness to you
which indeed I cannot find words for. £10 is quite too much but I am
sure Harriet will lay it out to the best of her judgement. Pray tell my dear Maria she need not have said one word about her not sending her usual
gift. Oh I am glad she did not for I do feel I am a continual tax & drain
on your purse & heart my ever dear & kind friends. Mrs. Hay & Dr. Hays
sisters & cousins are sending out a box to Anna. They (like you) seem to
be always thinking of useful things to send & it is very delightful to find
them all so kind to Anna. The good old lady is I find sending out some
books too & desired Anna "to choose out one for each of her six brothers
& for little Kate" Is not this very great kindness. She writes beautiful
advice to Anna, as a mother, & gives her many good hints about early
leading little fames to know & love the Lord.
I heard from Mrs. Wilson of Maryville that the two Kirkpatricks had
hooping cough very mildly. I hope dear Catharine may not take it. I am
not sure whether she ever had it. We shall have another mail in a few
days & I hope for good acc'ts of all. Surely we have reason to be thankful
for generally having pleasant news of my friends.
I am happy to say all my dear children & grandchildren in both
families are well. I have just heard that Anna & the children & the little
maid were at the opposite side yesterday trying to get over to us but there
was no boat. Little Fanny has just got over the weaning most easily & prosperously without any trouble or ever being taken from her Mama
except for a few nights when she slept with the maid. She is a most sweet
dispositioned gentle infant. She has got two teeth. I was amused at your
sending the old linen for Baby purposes. Indeed I believe it will all come
into requisition towards the end of the year for I am sure poor Anna is
in that way & I suspect Ellen is beginning also. They are rather hasty I
think but I hope the Lord sends them for blessings as mine are to me.
Ellen walked over to see us the day before yesterday. Poor dear her heart
seems with us still tho' she has every comfort she can require & the best
of husbands & she thinks no one like him. She is very thin but that does
not signify. Little Mary is growing more engaging every day & Ellen says
"has sense beyond her age!! She thinks & reasons in her mind." We have
all had colds. I have had my usual tedious cough & found my [ ] lozenges
a great comfort. Poor Willy has had several attacks of ague but
we generally stop it with Quinine, first giving Calomel & sometimes an
Emetic. He looks very thin & washy & is very weak. He has just had a
pretty smart attack & it disheartens him not to be able to do his share of
the work now when so much is to be done & the season so far advanced.
They are sowing a good deal of oats & pease & turnips. We will plant a
couple acres of potatoes as we have good seed but expect next time will
be worse than the last. Will you thank Aunt Sutton for her kind letter &
for all her kindness about everything on money matters. Oh she is very
very kind to us. I wrote a fortnight ago in a letter Bessie wrote to Mary
Rothwell so I will not write to anyone but you dear Aunt.
A few lines I must write to Harriet if you have the goodness to send
them on to her. Poor dear she wrote to me but I fear it must have hurt her
greatly. There is still a great deal of sickness in the country here, principally ague & bilious fever. All who had it in Autumn have it again now & many people are kept from attending to their Spring work which is a
serious loss here where all depends on industry.
We find the supply of Quinine most useful & will probably require a
small supply again during the summer. Little Flora Macdougall has got
ague again & old Mrs. Reid & James Reid which is a great loss as he is
the head worker there. He is terribly reduced. Poor Dr. Hutchison has
had another bad attack of apoplexy. I have not heard for some days but his life hangs by a cobweb & Dr. Hay attends him. I am sorry poor Mrs.
Blakeney's recovery is not so rapid as was at first hoped but at her age it
could hardly be expected. Tell me how all the Blakeneys & [Battersbys]
out here are going on. We never hear of them at all. They are a long way
from us & many like that west country best. Thank you dear Aunt for
sending me those nice Sermons. I suppose the Box is now near starting.
Poor Harriet must have employed someone to do it for her. I hope she
may not have hurt herself for my sake. I am glad she has that nice useful
Nanny. My paper says stop & so I must. Give loves in loads to all my dear
people beginning at home & extending by Athboy to Rockfield & everywhere.
Ever your own fond F. Stewart & grateful child...