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Catharine Parr Strickland to Susanna Moodie
July 26 1849
Traill Family Collection (National Archives of Canada)

26 July l849

My Dear Susan

I have just received the box from my friend Mr Wood1 containing the Reydon parcels with one from himself – I did not like to detain yours till James could go in to Coburg which I know he can not do before Saturday week, so desired our friend W. Brown to see it safely sent by Wellers Stage which comes to the landing every day – I hope you will [get it] safe and in as good order as it left me, and that the contents may prove acceptable. I had one of a similar size – something more bulky it might be and there was one for Sam – The expences on the box were heavier than usual for its size being £2.13.9 from Montreal to Coburg – the freight [etc.] was paid as usual. I do not think that your portion was quite a quarter of it. Sam's I think was. Ours I think was more than the half as Mr Woods portion contained some heavy cotton sheeting table cloths and some merino and books for the children, also some German silver spoons and a metal teapot and two coats for the boys, a nice remnant of velveteen and some sundries in small wares, a few needles, cottons, thread and a fine pair of cutting shears, also some towelling very useful and valuable. Agnes sent me a very excellent Scotch plaid winter gown of her own which I was very glad of as it was ready made and fits me well and will be a great comfort to my poor rheumatic arm which is daily getting worse and worse – I cannot now lift my hand to my head without great pain, nor can I put it back without being forced to scream out with the agonizing pain I endure in moving it – and yet I cannot rest it for one day! I leave you my dearest Suze to consider what you judge your portion of the box comes to, certainly not the fourth part of the whole so do not cheat yourself by over liberality. I sincerely hope you may find the contents such as may be useful. I will tell you what mine are, sixteen yds of pale blue calico for frocks for the girls, l2 checked muslin de laine, l4 good grass cloth, about l8 yds white cotton, l2 blue check shirting very useful for the boys, some flannel which I judge to be about ten yds, some red chinzam, a dress, which I shall endeavour to pay old Zinney some washing arrears with, some plain cap net, two chimizetts from Agnes always valuable to poor me and some cap ribbon from Agnes, six pairs of white stockings, some yards of clean striped muslin a good pair of boots for myself most acceptable for I was literally shoeless and bootless, and two small pairs for Will and Walter who were dit, dit, – the fourth vol of the Queen's and a copy of the new Scrapbook2 – this with some half pound of cotton a few tapes, and pins and needles, are the contents of our box and very acceptable the things will be for I was beginning to think with wonder how I should find clothing for these poor children, now reduced to worse than bareness – and now I only want the aid of half a dozen good pair of hands to sew for me for very little can I do in the course of the day lamed as I am and with nine to work for besides the daily toil of a large house and many children – I suffer at times great pain in my right knee from a swelling which has slowly been forming upon one of the main tendons. At times the pain is so very acute darting through the joint and down the leg that I cry out, but it is less painful when I stand or walk than sitting still or lying. It is worst in bed. The tumour is increasing but no inflamation attends it. I fear it will work me woe and I must have it looked to, but I know that rest is my best physician for all my ailments and that I cannot have –

The hooping cough is nearly gone, sometimes one or another get a fit but on the whole it has been more merciful to us than to many other families. Our neighbours the Browns have had it dreadfully. The high, dry spot on wh[ich our] house stands far from the vapours of the lake must be one thing in our favour. Kate had frequent returns of intermittent along with it which kept her weak but now she is stouter and more healthy. The poor boys had to work hard all the time and James is not over strong. He grows tall and I think better looking than he was a year ago. He had a great swelling in his face for some time which alarmed me but it proved to be gumboil only, poor boys they need more nourishing diet than I often have to give them. We feel the misconduct of our cows greatly. We make no butter the young cows milk is poor and the stripper stays away and gives but little so that we are – what never happened before – without butter and cannot buy – This is a great privation. Our Spring wheat will be but a light crop – the dry weather has burnt up our garden too very much. The hay, not a good crop is all in –

    I have not heard from Reydon since I had Jane's letter last March (Agnes wrote by the by in the box in April) so that I know nothing of what is going on about the legacy matter. I dare not think of another failure on that score. We have received many mercies at Gods hands. Why should I then fear now – My dear Susan, I beg you will give our kindest love to your dear husband and all your beloved children. I shall be glad to hear of the safe arrival of the parcel. Assure yourself of my sincere affection.

Ever your loving sister
C.P. Traill

Leigh3 has been over from Douro. You will be glad to hear that Maria has given birth to a lovely girl and was doing well when he left, but the poor thing has had dreadful suffering from broken hearts before the birth of the child. Pray excuse all faults, it is very late and I write with some difficulty.

    Friday morng – Traill has calculated as fairly as he can and thinks 3 dollars will be about your share if you do not object to it –


1. The Reverend Mr Wood was a Suffolk clergyman who, according to Annie Atwood, 'took a great fancy to my Mother' (TFC, Vol. 6, 9611) and sent a yearly box to the Traills. It was Wood who sent Traill a copy of Nuttal's Birds of the United States and Canada in 1836, thus opening up her organized study of ornithology. Atwood reports that he died suddenly in 1858 (TFC, Vol. 6, 9666).

2. In 1849 Jane Margaret Strickland edited the Juvenile Scrap-book. A Gage d'Amour for the Young which contained several pieces by Agnes.

3. After a period at Sam Strickland's agricultural school, Edward Leigh, an Englishman, had settled in North Douro in the 1840s.


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