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John Moodie to Susanna Moodie
April 24 1839
Patrick Hamilton Ewing Collection of Moodie-Strickland-Vickers-Ewing Family Papers (National Library of Canada)

24th April 1839

My Dearest Susie,

You will think me unkind in not writing you before now. – The fact is my Dearest I have been sadly bothered lately with various matters connected with my duty so that I could find no time to attend to my private matters. As soon as I received your letter respecting the seizure of the cattle I wrote to Bethune who promised to stop the proceedings telling me at the same time that the expenses would be very trifling. I have sent you my beloved Susie a box containing various articles of wearing apparel by the stage – directed to Traill at Peterborough.

£ s d   Bought at
viz. 12 Yards striped Ginham at 1/1    - 13 -
12 do. Check trousering at 1/4 " 16 "
1 Dress Mouseline de laine 1. 3. 6
(a new article here)
1 Crape Hankf 7. 6
  Turn over
£ s d Bought at
9 yards light Chintz 1/3 " 11 3
10 Do. Dark Do. 1/- " 10. "
8 Do. Muslin 1/2 9. 4

I have also sent you two pair of boots, one pair such as are now worn, and a strong pair. I could get no shoes for the dear children, God bless them, but have ordered some to be made of different sizes. You should have sent their measures and your own, silly old woman perhaps you thought I should know the length of your foot by this time. If they do not fit send them back and I will send others. Now, My poor old widow in the bush, don't scold me if I have not made a good choice of the articles, for you know I am no great judge of these matters, and I had no female at hand to choose for me. I have put Mrs Bayley's little book in the box – I think she would be pleased if you gave her a little 'Soft Sawder' as Sam Slick calls it,1 or wrote her a few lines. She is a very lady li[ke] kind unaffected woman, and very sensible – she doats on F. W. N. Did you know him? Verb. Sat. &c. The Baron is about to be married to a young lady of Sixteen Miss Ridley our doctor's daughter. I think he might have done better every way but he is not in very good health and wants a young person to nurse him. We have just been giving him a dinner – it was a queer scene a fine subject for a sketch which might be called 'The Rival Presidents' for we had two presidents, and one at each end of the table, speechifying both at once for about an hour and a half, – one a Militia Colonel on half pay and the other a Major on full: as the wine began to operate sundry missiles such as decanters, candlesticks glasses &c were discharged – I passed safely thro' the ordeal with the exception of getting a little wine in my face from a bottle on its passage to another head. We had some splendid transparencies. There was Sir Francis Head riding in a state of primitive nudity in the character of St George with a very vulgar looking Dragon clawing at him. And there was St Patrick honest man!, kicking the snakes out of Ireland. And last not least St Andrew scratching himself on a rather clumsily made cross while a whole forest of thistles were growing up in irksome contiguity with his bare legs. Orders have come for discharging one half of each company, and further orders will be given before the remainder of the six months has expired Viz. the 12th of May. I believe there is little doubt that some companies will be kept up in which case I shall of course be continued but I shall know more after the 12th of May. The officers have been required to give in the names of men desirous of extending their period of service. This does not look like peace tho' the good folks in England take matters cooly with regard to this Colony. If I see any chance of being retained on duty I shall take a small house and get you down here. I should not wonder if we were removed to Presqu' Isle harbour, where it is believed two forts will be built immediately. If I possibly can manage it I shall take a run up and see you my Dearest love, for I long to see you and my sweet babes again. I sometimes wish I had my flute with me, as I might amuse myself more rationally with a little music in the evening than among a parcel of vulgar minded animals who have no way of passing their time but in drinking. Send me my flute therefore and all the music you can find. There is one lady here (they are rather scarce here) who plays the piano very sweetly and I could spend a evening now and then very pleasantly there. I wish you would send me also some of the 'Palladiums' with articles of Yours & mine such as lines on the 'Caroline' and the Essay of Gynerocracy &c.

    Now my Dearest I must wish you good bye for the present. Write me soon and kiss my dear Katie Aggy Dunbar Donald and little Jack for me.

    Remember me most kindly to the Traills &c &c I remain, My Dearest Susie

Your every affectionate husband
J.W. Dunbar Moodie

P.S. I shall be much bothered for some time till the men are discharged, and settling with the Commissariat. I find the business easy now, and I have not yet made a single mistake of any consequence. Lawrie has been dunning me a little but he cannot do anything for many months by which time I hope to be able to sell some shares of the Cobourg. She is paying now at the rate of 18 Per Cent on the original stock. I have been thinking of buying a farm in this quarter. I think it not unlikely that I may be able to make an exchange of Melsetter for a beautiful farm here on the Bay Shore of 200 acres with about 100 cleared if not more. The buildings and Offices are excellent with a capital orchard and every bit of the land excellent. The country is beautiful along the Bay of Quinte with excellent fishing and sailing etc. &c. &c. The farm I allude to is worth £1000. I think I might offer a good deal of wild land to boot for it besides Melsetter. This is the most desirable situation in Upper Canada in my opinion in every respect excepting the population which is rather very much disaffected but the worst are clearing out as fast as they can get rid of their farms. Now is the time particularly if there should be war, to get farms cheap here as all the Radical Republicans will leave the Colony. I believe Clark told us a — when he said this part of the country was unhealthy. Every one denies this, – and their looks confirm what they say of the healthiness of the country.

I send you 5 Dollars dear it is as much as I can spare. God bless you My love




1. A reference to Thomas Chandler Haliburton's The Clockmaker; or, The Sayings and Doings of Samuel Slick, of Slickville (Halifax 1836)


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