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Susanna Moodie to John Moodie
June 01 1839
Patrick Hamilton Ewing Collection of Moodie-Strickland-Vickers-Ewing Family Papers (National Library of Canada)

My dearest Love –       June 1st 1839 –

I did not get your letter until this morning, more than a week after date. You cannot imagine how anxious I have been to hear from you – and I had really determined on bringing Johnnie down with me, and paying you a visit, to see whether you were still in the land of the living. I am so tired of living alone, that this must be the last winter of exile and widowhood, another long separation from you would almost break my heart – Oh how dearly welcome you will be to your home. How I shall count the 'leaden footed hours'1 until you come. If I knew but the day you would come up, I would be in Peterboro' to meet you. Poor Mrs Traill has been very ill for the last fortnight. Traill wrote me a long letter enclosing yours. He seems in wretched low spirits. Mr Bridges has left for the West Indies. He offered Traills his house rent free with all its ample stores of provision. The crops in the ground, the use of the cows and sheep &c. Traill has let it slip through his fingers, and now seems very desponding on the subject. I am sorry he left his old place. I fear they will be long before they settle again. He wrote to Dr. Bartlett about Texas. The answer he received was tolerably satisfactory but in conclusion the Dr throws cold water on the whole scheme by saying – 'Be pleased to give my kind regards to Mrs Traill, Mr and Mrs Moodie and family, and tell them to stick to John Bull, as long as they can for I find with all its faults, that he has more sterling honesty and good principle in him, than all the world beside – '

    I am pretty much of the Dr'[s] opinion, and if you should desert poor Canada in her day of distress, let us go to the Cape at once, and have naught to do with brother Jonathan and his scampish progeny – But if our debts were all paid, we might live happily enough here and rear up our children in the fear and love of God –

    I was right glad, to hear you talk of selling the Steamboat stock. It would be better policy to sell it, and pay our debts than to derive from it, a precarious income. The farm will feed us at any rate. I am at Issue with the Godards and have taken the farm out of their hands. Perhaps, I was rather severe, but on the whole I am not sorry for it. I cannot enter into particulars here.2 I am not in their debt, but they clear off the old score this week when they have ploughed and put in half an acre of potatoes, which I think as many as we shall require. If you think otherwise you can plough a small piece more when you return and Jenny can get them in. Sam tells me, that if we summer fallow the fields at the head of the clearing this month and draw the quantity of straw out of the barn and burn it upon the ground, and drag in wheat early in September we should in all probability have a first rate wheat crop and as we have no wheat land for next year, I think it would be a good plan. Godards are still willing to do this on shares, ploughing it twice and burning the weeds. Shall I accept it, or will you do it yourself on your return? If your stay should be prolonged till the end of this month you must write and let me know – As to Jory's, you must not return without money for them. I have been obliged to stave them off with promises until their patience is exhausted, and their present distress renders them doubly urgent. Do not dearest buy any more things for me. I have a new straw bonnet, which will do well enough for the bush. A few yard of towelling to wipe your hands upon is a greater necessary. Ask for Huckebuck towelling. A dozen Yds. would last us for some years. Mrs Hague, begged me to request you to bring her 15 Yds. of the black checked boys trowsering 1/4 per Yd. You will remember the stuff. She will repay you on delivery. I should be glad to oblige her, she has been so good to our little Agnes. Hague bought her two pretty frocks, and they keep her very genteelly clad. If we remain in Douro, I believe Mrs H. will petition to keep her longer –

    I hope to be able to pay Garbut myself, and to buy poor old Jenny, who is behaving very well, some necessary articles of clothing. I sent by Cyprian Godard two small MSS. down to Mr. Lovel the Editor of the Garland, for which I asked 5£. He has returned me a very kind gentlemanly answer, accepting the MSS and promising to transmit the money the first week in June. He likewise hopes that any papers I can spare I will send him putting upon each a price and if they can possibly afford to purchase them they will. Though they are not able to offer much, yet this will open up a little fund for me which may enable me to pay Jenny's wages and get a few necessaries for the children. How great is the goodness of God toward us. I hope I am grateful even for these seeming small mercies, but great, in our depressed circumstances. But I am a very rich woman. You love me, my friends are kind to me – my dear children are well and happy, and we have united hearts and interests. Can poverty, ever outweigh these blessings? No dearest no? – We will defy temporary evils, and still enjoy the existence given us to improve for a better state of being, and be firm friends through a happy eternity, though the endearing tie which now unites us should be severed by death –

    I have got a present, of the finest cattle dog, I ever saw. Poor Mrs Lloyd sent him up to me – Not a beast can come near the place. He races and he chases them. The pigs tremble in their very skins for him, and I dont think he would let you come up to the house at night without biting you. You must call him Rover and coax him, if you should come after we are in bed. A great bear haunts the top of the clearing. Jenny has met him twice. And he has roared upon her lustily. Mr Bruin is waiting upon you to send him after his wife – So says Katie and Dunbar, and they are good authority.

    The whole township is ringing with poor Copperthwaites misfortune. The sly Yorkshireman has been outwitted by a woman after all. I told you of his marriage three months ago, with the charming Christie Wright – a fortnight ago, she was put to bed. The child undeserved by Copperhead who never suspected the matter till the babe was born. He is mad with rage, and sent away the child the day after it was born to its father a man that worked on her father's land. The same morning as her sister Miss Ellen was safely brought to bed in Cavan the child by a working wheelwright of the name of Luckie. He yesterday married her, and the wedding and the christening I suppose took place on the same day. Erskine is miserable. His wife and Mrs Savene, loud in their lamentations and all the world laughing at and pitying poor Copperhead by turns – So there's a choice bit of scandal and true to boot. George Caddy has brought up his little wife and very sweet baby. It is a far handsomer child than Mrs Hagues, and if it lives I think from its fine eyes and features will be a beauty, though a dark one. George doats upon Miss Elinor and Mary Ann, who often comes to see me looks very interesting as a Mother. Mrs Acton, left our dear Mary Gooding 100£ per annum for life. Are not you glad. Mrs Childs wrote a long letter to Catharine, it was full of kind enquiries respecting us. Poor Rachel Wales died in childbed of twins, a girl and boy. The children are well and thriving. Poor dear Rachel. I could not forget her for some days. All at Reydon were well –

    Stricklands are very kind, quite affectionate. Mrs S— was saying she quite longed to see you again. Mrs Wolsley is a nice lively kind creature. Very hospitable cheerful and intelligent. I am sure you will like her very much. She is making great improvements in the place. You will hardly know it again. Young Casement, is a quiet nice lad. He sings well, and plays upon the flute. On the whole I think them very good neighbours, and they are very friendly with me. You will come dearest to an empty house for we are out of meat, but we have plenty of good flour and oatmeal, and Brine ...


1. Possibly a reference to John Milton's 'leaden-stepping hours' from his sonnet 'On Time'

2. See RIB, 494.


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