Main content

Title: Stewart, Frances to Noble, Maria, 1851
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
RecipientNoble, Maria
Recipient Genderfemale
Doc. No.
Partial Date
Doc. Type
Word Count2136
Genrefamily life
Transcript1851: August 25
To Maria [], Ireland

Goodwood — Monday
25 Aug't 1851

My own dear Maria

I have now come to this sweet place where all is peace & comfort so very
much to my taste & I have longed for this rest after some months of busyness, much more than I have had for above 20 years! How true it is that
strength is always given for the situation we are placed in & the duties
we have set before us. How much this must encrease our confidence in
Gods many and loving kindness which indeed in my case & all through
my life has been so peculiarly shewn. I often wonder why? But certain
it is that from my birth on, through a life of some vicissitude & trial, the Lord has sustained me & been with me in a way so plain that my eyes
must have been covered [ ] with scales not to perceive it. Oh — may He
increase my love and keep me closer to Him in Spirit!...
I have had many letters lately from my own loved friends at home
all giving me useful & judicious advice as to my arrangements as to my
future residence & these are all helps & in many aspects are quite in unison with my own sentiments....
You all know that for some years back I have felt the responsibility
and expense of keeping up such an establishment as ours was, far beyond
my powers. And I have long wished for some way of making a change.
This has been brought on at length by Williams marriage. Some new
arrangement must take place. I have always observed that it never does
well for two families to live together & therefore I had made up my mind
to make a separation but as I could not see how it was to be done I came
to the resolution of spending some time with my daughters & as Bessie
requires me now it answered best for all parties and as this place seems
best suited to me in every way dear Edward & Bee begged I would return
here after visiting Anna & Ellen & spend the winter here or live here
with them as long as I wished. This was great temptation and I selfishly
thought it was all right & I had consented & I thought I would retain my right of being Mistress of Auburn & return there as my home whenever I
liked or let it be a home for sons as long as they were unmarried keeping
Kate always along with myself wherever I was. Dear William & Louisa
would not hear of my having any other home & Louisa always treated
me as the Mistress & head of the establishment & never seemed to wish
or think of placing herself forward in the smallest degree. Indeed she is
a very amiable sweet creature & I thought we should all do nicely but my
mind has been changed since by considering every side of the question
& now conscience tells me that selfishness guided me too much in that
plan for I did not consider my dear boys. Frank & John are coming home
in Autumn. Frank has his own house to go to but of course it is not just
in a proper state for him to return to nor has he any provisions or furniture to begin with so he must have "a home" to come to. So must John &
I feel that they cannot make Auburn their home when I am not there. If
my home & Kates is really at Goodwood & only nominally at Auburn I
fear my sons could never feel really comfortable nor could I at all conveniently manage about their washing & mending of clothes, &c &c even
tho' I paid Wm. & Louisa a sum annually to entitle them to it. So now
I have been thinking & weighing the business in every way & I believe
my wisest plan is to have a house of my own for my children to be with
me till they all have homes of their own. I have some idea next month
of giving up Auburn to the young couple & taking for myself & my own
little flock a very nice cottage adjoining the Auburn property. It is hardly a mile from the house & very near Johns farm & as near to Franks as it is to Williams place. The house is new but [ ] & pleasantly situated and
I believe conveniently laid out there on 10 acres of land with it, which
would enable me to keep a cow & have potatoes & other little matters.
George will be his own master next June & I think he would like to have
a quiet home to return to so that I do think it is my best plan to take that place for two or three years or from year to year as life is uncertain & my boys will either settle or disperse in the course of some years. But in the meantime it would be exceedingly inconvenient to me to have my party
divided between Auburn & Goodwood and would I think make the
young men feel uncomfortable & be almost an unreasonable addition to
Louisas cares & labours. I think with Kate & a servant I can attend to all the housekeeping of my small establishment & I shall find it much less
expensive. And I think when the Auburn party is so reduced William
will find it much easier to keep the place in good order & it will no longer be the Hotel d'Amitie it always has been too much.
There is quite furniture enough in the house to make a division and I
think reducing the beds when the family is reduced will be favourable to
them as there will not be so many then for "droppers in."
I shall not have very much to buy and now I hope this plan may meet
with the approbation of all my dear people at Allenstown & Rockfield. I
am sure Catharine will like it when she hears it too & I hope Harriet &
Lou may also when they consider that I found it too arduous a task to
keep up the great establishment at Auburn. A large house in Canada is
different from home for the ladies must be their own housemaids here
generally & all suitable furniture to make such a house bear a consistent appearance would be expensive, then the offices, stalling & sheds &
houses for cattle for such a farm! & for Willeys Lime & Quarry establishment also! & then the keeping the garden & ground in proper order, it would require an active & systematic master as well as an active & prudent & wealthy mistress. As long as I resided at Auburn & kept the name
of mistress I know Willey would take no interest or care of the place. He
has good taste & cleverness enough but he is indolent in some things &
likes to attend to the quarry better than the farm. I wanted him to give
me up the farm & keep the quarry himself but he said he must have the
land to keep his horses & people. So I thought my best plan to give all up
to him & let him make the most of it & have the benefit of it to himself.
And I think the small house & garden & a few fields will give me
employment & occupation without the onerous task & struggle to keep,
yp a large place. It is too much for a female unless she can arrange it
for her own convenience which I could not do without casting my dear
William out of his own rights or making some uncomfortable impressions
arise in his mind.
I wrote to Aunt Sutton & Richard last week & mentioned my new
plan to them so perhaps you have heard of it already. The more I think
of it the more I feel convinced that it is the best thing I can do & most
for the comfort & happiness of my sons which must be my leading
object & impulse.
I have had these matters pressing on my mind for some weeks past
and I could think of nothing else night or day almost. It is difficult to
know how to steer amidst so many interests & drawings of heart.
Your visit to Mrs. Nicholson at Rostrevor must have been very pleasant.
It is very useful to the mind to move about & change the Society we
live in. It opens new views & ideas and refreshes the mind. I see the bad
effects of the want of some change of that sort very evident in many people
here who never can leave their own homes. I remember Rostrevor
perfectly well as it was 41 years ago. The village & the country around
must be much improved since then but the natural beauties of the place
must be much the same. I spent five months there in 1809 & went along
the coast to Newcastle & Tollymore Park. I remember it as well as if it has
been only a few years ago. I think I never have written since the arrival of my precious cargo nor thanked you & our beloved Mother for your kindness in contributing so much to the contents of the Box. Harriet mentioned you had sent her some money to add to the stock I had of my own & indeed you were very very kind. I never can say half what I wish to express but I am sure you know I am deeply sensible of your kindness & grateful for it. 1 don't know who sent those five strong blue shirts. They are most acceptable & came in very good time to meet my boys who I expect home in Autumn
tho' I have some of the former set still untouched but all these nice new
ones will save me a great deal of sewing. Thanks also for all the books
& Tracts which are a most valuable part of the gifts. I have not yet had
time to look into many, for weddings and Bazaar & then arrangements
about new plans &c & being as much as possible with poor Anna Hay
has broken up my quietness of mind & time & I have not been able to
read. You have divided the little books so nicely amongst us that I shall
have some of them wherever I go & those little tracts & small books are
so convenient. One can take them up in little "gussets of time" & are a
nice size for putting into a pocket. Pray give my kindest thanks to dear
Mrs. Blakeney for her very valuable present which I prize most highly &
which I am sure will do good.
The Bazaar succeeded very well beyond our expectations & we hope
to be in our own church in November. Nearly £230 was cleared after paying
all expenses. The pretty articles contributed by the Rothwells were
greatly admired and added considerably to my share.
What a nice contrivance that Hydraulic Dam must be. It is such a
comfort to have water convenient.
I see my Charlie coming along & I have some thoughts of going to
Auburn this evening & returning here tomorrow evening as Bessie has
her nurse now staying here. She is 1 am happy to say very well & quite
active & alert & not tensed with head aches as she used to be. I hope &
trust all may go on prosperously & that in a little time hence I may have
some good news to give. I hardly think she will be confined for ten days
or a fortnight yet but it might come sooner & as this place is 5 miles from
a Doctor we think it safest to have the nurse here beforehand. I have had
some asthma but that I must expect. We have had a great deal of hot damp weather but the harvest is plentiful & good; all crops are excellent
except potatoes which in most places about here seem bad. The leaves
are all black & shrivelled & no roots.
Dear little Tom Hay has had a most tedious & dangerous illness but
after all hopes were gone he rallied & has been recovering the last week.
Poor Anna has gone through much fatigue but I hope may not suffer. She
is very anxious always about her children....
Your ever affect' sister love
F Stewart
2 oclock Monday — 25th August