1878 text

Hamilton

Jan. 6. 1878

My dearest Jacob,

While I am trying to write, I suppose you are telling to lost men the story of the Cross.  I wish tonight that my soul had a share of the love that the mention of that Cross should create.   But religion seems powerless now, and my soul dead, I was at church this morning and intended to go to Vespers this evening but a fight with a patient so overpowered me that I decided to remain in. I returned from home yesterday feeling much better than when I went.  I had a nice rest and a delightful visit, but found that trouble was not as far away as I fancied.  I am afraid Jacob by next week I shall have some very sad news to tell you So you think I shall not have Eva with me?  Well, Sir if I am here next year I expect Eva will be here.  When I got home the first thing I heard from Eva was “I have broken my engagement.”  I was astonished and horrified when she told me she was marrying him simply for his home and means, that she did not have and never had and that she was miserable and could not marry him, did not dare do it. She had weakly consented to the marriage and thought this the only chance of saving them both from a wretched life.  I was never more sorry for any-thing in my life.  I had fully decided to love Mr. McGillivrey as my brother and he is fearfully wounded.  He loved her fondly and had perfect confidence in her affection.  But it is all over now she is his “no more”, and not the least possibility of them being again united.  A friendship once broken is better left so.  Lovers once separated can never again be perfectly united, love once cooled can never again be as warm, confidence once shaken can never again be as strong.  Jacob I know this is true although I strive not to believe it. Although we love each other well are we the same tonight that we were a year ago tonight?  No, and never can be.  We may strive to live only in the present and future but we cannot forget the past. We may strive to enjoy the calm after the storm but we cannot close our eyes on the destruction.  Oh Jacob why cannot my love be as strong, as deep, as pure, as trusting as it was a year ago, I cannot love with my life as I then loved.  I try to act, to write and to feel the same but I cannot, and I do not deceive you.  I suppose we cannot help what it past, no doubt we each did what we thought was right though each to the other seemed cruelly unkind.

You speak about your throat troubling you.  I am very sorry Jacob.  and what if you have to give up preaching will I say “I am sorry” to that, I am afraid not dearest.  If I always feel as I have felt since I came from home I can never be a minister’s wife, and if I dared tell you all I would like you to know I think your faith would be so shaken that you would say “Give me nothing to do with the ministry.”  But my dear Jacob you will do God’s will I know and He will direct my heart.

If it be God’s will to unite my life with yours He will take away my sinful unbelief and hardness and mould my life to His purpose. If this be not His will He will send you one who can be worthy, and I care little what becomes of me as long a I escape the life my mother has lived.  This I must do or I shall not live at all.

Well dearest I’ve just had a glass of nice hot ginger tea and feel much better.  I would like to talk with you tonight Jacob.  Do come into my room for a short time. Let me sit close beside you and tell you how “the sorrows of others cast a shadow over me”.  Let me tell you how I would fain 1 cling to you as in the days gone by, how I would fain center my entire affection on you who so completely won the heart too proud to be won hitherto.  But Jacob our hearts are hard and stubborn, we can-not control them.  I am sincere when I say I love no man but Jacob Baker, nor do I think I ever shall.

I am afraid dear this letter is a very unsatisfactory one, but I want to get another letter from you soon is why I write tonight when I am not “in the spirit”
Forgive this time dearest and I will try to have a decent letter ready for you next week.

I did remember you as the old year was dying.  I was too tired to stay up all the evening, so I went to bed at ten and slept till half past eleven when the night nurse woke me.  I knelt alone by my bed and prayed earnestly for the peace and happiness of dear Jacob.  When I arose the old year was dead, it was ten minutes after twelve.  Then I turned out my gas and was soon sleeping soundly.  I am glad you did not forget me then.

New Year’s night we danced till half past twelve and I was off in the morning at half past seven.   Dear me Jacob I forgot to tell you that our entertainment was a grand success, we astonished every one, ourselves also.  They begin to hint about another one, but I can’t see the point just yet, until I get a little rest.

I am afraid , Jacob, that I can’t stand this work very long, guess I’ll go to Kansas and live with my grandfather then I won’t have to work hard. You may address your next letter as usual, I’ll stay that long.

Goodnight Jacob, and sweetest dreams.

Please write soon and believe me your loving girl

Ida

*****
 

Hamilton

Jan. 12. 1878

My own dear Jacob,

I hoped to have had a letter from home before this, but will not delay answering your letter until that comes for fear it will keep my letter late.  I cannot tonight write fully about matters in particular, but I can write about that Bible.  O Jacob, my dearest how could you guess so perfectly the desire and want of your Ida’s heart?  It is a lovely Bible and one I have wished for for years, but you cannot know how its preciousness is increased because it is a gift from my friend.  If this cherished gift cannot reclaim my heart from its wanderings nothing can, it will, it must lead me back to God to Heaven and happiness. Please accept for the gift my warmest thanks and fondest love and I trust that the eagerness with which I shall peruse its pages and the benefit my soul shall derive from it will prove my appreciation.

While I think of it, I don’t know of any other initials for Miss Cora than C.D.   She may have others but I don’t know them.

Well Jacob you want this to be a strange (when  I wrote that last word I was thinking of your remark concerning Eva) heart-letter.  I wish you could see my heart without me showing it you by reciting its feelings.  I am a “queer fish” and have a thousand different feelings in a day. When I think of you and you alone you seem more to me than life.  I know you love me, I know  you are true and worthy, and could you my dearly loved Jacob stand alone away from all circumstances my love, my life would be complete. But you know how everything reminds us of that memorable Springtime, then I think why it was so and the reason why leads me back to the cause of all the unhappiness I have ever known. If you wounded my heart I have forgiven you and would forget it all but were it not so closely connected with troubles that no one can forget.  This is why I cannot look on the bright side of the Spring question.  In regard to the Ministry O Jacob I wish with all my heart that I knew nothing of it and I might be glad for the work you have chosen.   Everytime I read the words “preaching” or “ministry”, like a flash the life of my parents comes before my mind and strings my heart to its very depths.  I think over the past, all is cruelty, dread and misery. I think of the present, unhappiness to both, one on one this side of “the line”, the other over, and no hope of a meeting until Death lands both in the Unknown Land.  By the time I write you again I am afraid the bond that makes these two my parents will be broken forever. O Jacob I would to god I had never lived to see this day.  I cannot express the bitter humiliation and sorrow I feel.  How can it ever again be happy. This is the news I expected to tell you, but wished to be more certain of it and know the particulars before mentioning it, however to save you the suspense I tell you this.

Now Jacob you know that no such separation could take place if the past were not crowded with bitter and horrible things, and can you wonder that I dread almost hate the ministry?
I must go now Jacob. Will write more tomorrow.
Goodnight beloved and sweetest dreams.

 

Sunday _
I have a short time before time for the patients’ dinner so I will devote it to you.  I am not going out to day but shall take some time to read from my Bible which is now surely the dearest of all books.  I cannot tell you Jacob how much I love you for that precious gift, and in the coming days the words read on its sacred pages may lighten my toil here and take a share of the bitterness from the sorrow that may be awaiting me and those I love.  Jacob dear I don’t know what I wrote last evening, I do not care to read it for today I feel comparatively happy.  It is needless, I know, for me to ask you not to entrust this to any friend, for the nature of the affair will suggest this. My friend if there is one thing today that I desire more than others it is that I might shake off the influence of this whole affair.  If my soul could but rise above it, all would be well.  What I have known from a mere child together with what I now hear from both father and mother blights every impulse and makes my heart hard as a stone.  Jacob I cannot be good.  I can’t be religiously happy.

Pa went to Chicago the day after I came here.  The Church expect him back at the end of this month, but we dont expect him back at all.  He went with the intention of not returning.
Now dearest I’ll tell you more. When I was home last week a note of four hundred dollars was asked for, with the notice “if not paid in this week the household furniture will be taken”. Only those who have heard such a sentence can understand the feeling it arouses. My pictures are all, except one small one, at home, and I am not willing to let them go under any considerations, not even to save my father’s honor, but they cannot do that.  My pictures are my own personal property and Ma is going to send them to me if there is any danger of loosing (sic) them.

I would not tell this to even you Jacob, if I did not know that before long all must know it. I can see no possible way of escape if there is a way I will hear of it this week from home and will more than gladly tell you.  I hope to know this week the particulars of everything.

And now Jacob can you understand not any better?  Can you not understand why my faith in man is so shaken?  /and/ why I shrink from being connected in any way from with the calling of my father?  This is true as I live.  I have seen one day the most horrible cruelty and the next day have heard from the same source, in God’s House, “Be ye clean that hear the vessels of the of the (sic) Lord”.  O Jacob to one such things are fearful, terrible!  When I can forget this then I can again enter into the work of Christ with my heart, now I cannot.  I don’t care for the financial side of the question. I value fine clothes [–] 2 now, because I cannot find the joy in religion I once could.  But could my soul look away to the Father of Lights and think of Him alone I should have no need of meaner, grosser pleasures.  Now Jacob I have written my heart as plainly as I can except that aside from all this I love my Jacob dearly.

 

*****

Hamilton

Jan. 21. 1878

My dearest Jacob,

I have just read your letter, but am at a loss to know how to answer.  “Shall we never fairly stand soul to soul as hand to hand?”

In the first place I must correct a mistake, did I speak of the ministry or the one particular minister as being the cause of this trouble?  They are very different Jacob, and while I admit there is happiness in some ministers’ families I cannot prevent the associa- tion of ideas.  When I hear of a minister’s home naturally my mind goes to ours and I judge and can’t help it. I would not dearest, have you swerve for a moment from the path you believe to be right, the fault is in my heart I know yet I am powerless to remove it.  I should have strength to overcome the hardening influences of this trouble, God knows I desire to have, for your sake and my own.  But I cannot, not now, what grace may be given I know not I only know that my soul seems void of every feeling but bitter sorrow and a deep love for my Jacob, which love nothing can shatter.

Jacob, is it in my power to remove these stern difficulties?  Tell me, in what way?  O  I could curse the Fate that places continually these barriers between us.  Why cannot we love and be happy!  Our could is scarcely lost to sight when another appears.

I did not read the notice in the Baptist you spoke of.  When Ma wrote last she said “I expect Pa home about the first of February for a few weeks to straighten up the business, then he will return to Illonois (sic) where he has engaged a church for the Summer.”  I am heartily thankful that he has decided to do this, for when the financial troubles are settled the world need know nothing or little about the other.  The creditors I spoke of have decided consented to wait till Pa’s return.

You say “you are a dear girl in spite of your trouble”.  Could it possibly make me less dear to your heart?  If I thought, but it cannot be!  Did I know that my Jacob’s heart was whelmed with bitter sorrow, scarce knowing where to flee for refuge would not my own be stirred with stronger sympathy and love?  Yes, the arrow that pierces your heart pierces mine. The joy that gladens yours gladens mine. You think I am “in the dark”, perhaps I am, but where can I find light?  It cannot be found. I have heard two sides of the question and drawn my own conclusions.  I desire to know no more, to feel no more.  I made matters as made as I possibly could to you, and do not see what there is in it that you cannot understand.  Yes Jacob you should know by my confidence how deeply I love you, and I feel still further that whatever may happen in the future this will be guarded sacredly.

Jacob what is the fearful goal to which we are drifting? I know there is something wrong but am I the cause of it?  No, not I, not I, for in myself, my very heart of hearts I am the same, still the fondly loving girl whose whole heart is yours alone.  I cannot help circumstances, I cannot prevent their effect on my soul.  I desire to be good, I long for the faith, in all that is good, that I felt in the past, when I prayed god to direct your feet to His work.  I asked Him to choose Jacob as one of His blessed servants.  What is there in me that is so changed?  I do not know.

My last letter to you was a little late, I delayed sending it a day, hoping to hear from home. This will leave in the morning.

I forgot to mention that I found Uncle Newton waiting to see me when I went home. He left however in an hour or two, and I had little chance for visiting with him.

I have given up looking for a letter from Miss Dorr. Received one from Annie Trotter lately. The poor girl does not seem to get any better. It will be, to her, a happy release when the Lord calls her to Himself. And so it would be to each one of us, were all our lives and hearts as spotless as hers.

Last week I feasted on Owen Meredith’s “Lucile”. It is grand, Jacob, you should read it if you have not read it, and if you have, reread it.

It seems a little lonely in my room this evening. The sky is cold, dark, void of the divinest ray from the sun. The twilight is deepening in my room, filling it with shadows This Year past, has truly “left its mark upon each brow, its shadow in each heart”. And dearest even we have not escaped.

My head is aching slightly this evening – caused by having a very sore tooth extracted. Did’nt I yell vigorously though?

It is nearly time for tea. I must bid you adieu for a little while, will write more this evening.

After tea.
I have spent some time in the room of a sick nurse. Several of our attendants are now ill, something very much like Dyptheria seems hanging around us. I do hope it is that horrible disease, I dont care to have it again. In your last you said nothing about your throat, I hope it is improving.

Well Jacob I have left your letter for a time to enjoy a hearty laugh.

While I was writing two of the housemaids brought in my room one of our worst patients. She was dressed in a nurses suit, collar cuffs, white apron, slippers and all, her hair bound with pink ribbon. I could scarcely “believe my eyes”. She bowed nicely and said “good evening ‘Mrs. Frisson’ “. We took her down stairs to the Matron’s room, where she sang and danced for nearly an hour. When she was through she said “Ladies you ought to give me some cake and whisky for all that.” This poor Philastina Bleu is called “a head case”. She has never gone to the dining room, until two days ago I asked the Dr. if I might take her out. he laughed at the idea, said I would be glad to ler her in again, but to the great astonishment of all she is very good – much better than most of the patients in the dining room. She is coming to the dance on Friday evening. She never seemd to me like a human being before last week, you dont know how it cheers me.

I have a little work to do this evening so must bid you goodnight my dearest. O may the Angel of love keep very near you, and “whatever changes time may bring I pray that to you he may bring constant love and happiness. O Jacob dear, I do so earnestly desire that your life may be all hat you could wish. The world is full of sorrow, but may God keep your life far from it; there are shadows falling continually, may none rest on your soul, and if it be God’s will to again divide us O Jacob my loved one may He spare your heart from bitter pain. O why did He unite us in heart if we can never be united in hand? Surely there is a mistake somewhere, but who dare attribute it to the Divine Guidance? Has He not led us and have we not gone astray somewhere? We must have missed the right way at sometime! But it may be His will to remove the clouds, and lead us again in the paths of peace. God only knows.

At present goodnight dear Jacob, God bless you, is ever the prayer of your loving Ida.

*****
Friday afternoon 3

I hope I have a long quiet time to write to you.  I don’t feel the best and dont want to be disturbed.  Well Jacob I did wake the morning after sleeping just six hours.  I have done most of my usual work today and will be quite better in a day or so.  I dont think I shall read your letter again now. Last evening I read it several times and some of it made me feel very blue.  You wrote plainly so I must answer in the same spirit.

Jacob, you ask me if I love you now as I once did.  I can say yes, the love is the same I mean as true as deep, but expressions may be different. I do not at all times feel the same towards you, I cannot Jacob and never can, although I love you as fondly as ever.  I never ponder over the experiences of Last Spring and Summer, but their affect can- not be wholly destroyed.  I do not cherish towards you one hard feeling. You are still truly loved, but my dearest Jacob I have learned that you are human.  There was a time when every thought and action of yours seemed too high and noble to be ranked with other men’s lives.  To me you seemed all goodness all generosity, all love.  I could see nothing but pure unselfishness. But Jacob you know at that time we came to a rough place in our path and we had to cross it, although that is the only rough spot and I do not fear that there are more in the future still I cannot forget that it is there, and that the way I had followed is not all smooth as I expected.  To me you are still and will ever be the noblest of men, the dearest of friends and the fondest of lovers, but O my dearest if you “love me 4” do not ask me to feel for you the same innocent and perfect trust I felt before, for that I can never feel for any one, no not for any one.  The romance has passed out of my life and with it a share of the warmth of my life heart.  Truly Jacob I cannot feel for anyone as I could, life is more matter-of-fact and that wonderful veil of trust which once hung so closely over my eyes, and through which I looked at everyone, is passing from before them, and I see people as they are. Ah “me”! you are looking at me just now with those fondly-speaking eyes, their light is as tendre 5 as ever their gaze as fond and lingering but the look that meets them may be colder than in olden times.  I do not wish it so, indeed I do not but hearts are strange objects and we have little control over them. But Jacob I am true, what there is of my heart is changeless and yours, and I shall be true as long as life lasts.  Night before last when I could not last sleep I lay for hours thinking of you.  The night nurse said to me “Miss Fitch you are not robust enough for this work, why dont you look for a comfortable home?”  I said “never  I’ll do it or die”, and I thought in either case I’ll have the hope of a happy home in the future. Yes, Jacob, six years or ten years, I will work  and love.  But enough of this.  I am faithful, and I love you still with all my heart.  Not with the same impulse and wildness, but with the same sincerity and fondness.

And now I must go to rest. The patients dance this evening, I have to play so must lie down until tea hour.  I wish I felt better and I could write an hour for I am excused from several duties.

Good bye dearest Jacob.

Believe me ever your
own loving girl

Ida

 

*****
Hamilton

March 20, 1878

 

My dearest Jacob,

This is such a delightful day, that is seems almost a sin to remain in doors, but I am so used to the house that it would seem strange to be out for an hour.  I go out for a few moments, once in a great while in the evening, have a short pleasant walk or a little sun with the Dr’s children, sweet innocent children, whose hearts are as happy as childlike.  This is one of the very few cases where childhood can truly be called happy.  I smile sometimes when I hear people say to children “these are you happiest days!”  This may be true of some children, but O how many are miserable wretched until old enough, wise enough, strong enough to “take arms against a sea of trouble” 6

I thank kind Providence that my childhood is past, and I have now but to make my own happiness, still I deny the fact that I make my own unhappiness, for this part of my life others must, in a measure, be accountable. But who is not happy?  I was never so gay in my life.

I expect Eva to visit me next week, we are going to have a party while she is here.  She dances some I believe. No doubt, Jacob, you think I am much demoralized, well I am, but I am going to tell you one good thing I did.  Of course the folks here play cards.  The real cards too, and I learned.  I played for a few weeks and by a little(?) deception won several games.  Eva played late into the night, and when I was most interested I suddenly thought I was sinning and said “Ill not play anymore”  So cards have’nt been mentioned since.  If I felt so about dancing I would give it up also.

You will be sorry to know how very seldom I go to church – only once in the last two months.  This may be wrong, but I can’t help it. You don’t know how meaningless all such things seem.  It seems mockery to go into God’s house.

Another of our patients died last Friday.  I sat with her all night, and she was dying then. O Jacob I did not dream that the agonies of death could seem so terrible.  She must have suffered fearfully, and I assure you it was dreary enough for me.  The night nurse was out of the room much of the time.  The light was very dim, her eyes were fixed, her face cold, stiff and white, and her breath came O! so heavily.  I thought I was strong enough for anything, but that was almost too much for me. We uttered a little prayer for the poor friendless woman to Him who “from the burden of life and the bonds of death alone can deliver & set us free” 7

Ah!  Jacob dear I would tonight that I too were free, free from the burden of life – free from the bonds of death.  There is nothing in the one to desire but the mercy of God, there is nothing in the other to fear but the justice of God.  And if He be as just in death as He has been merciful in life where will my soul stand?  But His mercy will follow it through.  Happy indeed will be the hour when He takes from us this heavy burden of life, and happier still will be the hour when He looses the bonds of death.  I suppose we have a duty to perform in this world or we would before now have left it, and although we may not shrink from that duty, it is not a sin to wish it were done.  Tonight, dearest, I heartily wish my work was done.  I wish I were in Heaven. But what is the use of writing in this way, to you it will seem ignoble sentiment and I suppose it does no good to tell one’s troubles to another; if one has trouble!  Tis wise not to confess it.

Well I must to bed.  Whatever else I may not have I have a violent headache this evening, and a sore throat.  I have some sweet medicine to take, so will be well in the morning.

Goodnight Jacob.  May the Lord watch over thee alway. (sic)

Yours lovingly

Ida.

 

 

 

Hamilton

March 31, 1878

 

My own dear Jacob,

Another Sunday has nearly passed, but although I have not been to church I have sufficient excuse.  I have a very bad cold, so bad that for two or three days I have not been able to speak.  I am better this evening, and will be alright in a day or two.  I spent this afternoon very pleasantly.  Dr. Covernton 8 read  9 for us “The Fire Worshippers” 10.  I have read it several times before but I enjoyed it very much.  There was more than one tear shed.  My thoughts went back to one Saturday evening11when in Coal-Stove Hall, in the study I first heard of the “Fire Worshippers” from the lips of one I almost worshipped and my tears this afternoon were half for Hinda12 and her lover and half for mine and me.  Dear ‘me’ Jacob!  it seems a long time since I saw you in Coal-Stove Hall, and a long time since I saw you in Simcoe.  I shall truly rejoice when September comes if it will bring you to me.  I may be in Simcoe then.  I have strayed far from many of the old ways, and tonight my heart is as full of love for you as when we parted so sadly that Sunday night.  Ah Jacob, all this Joy I this moment feel I would love give for the pain of that parting, even that was J happiness.  There is an unsatisfied13 longing in the heart at times that nothing but the presence of the one most dearly loved can remove.  I would give all I possess of earthy treasures could I see you tonight.  I am not very rich, but I have for what I have wished for years, and how much happier am I?  When I was a few years younger I thought a gold watch, a silk dress, a fine set of jewellry would be all I should ask, tonight I have them, but when I think of the value of one short visit with Jacob I would gladly exchange.  Yes Sir, I begin to find that all is not gold that glistens.

I have had a visit from Eva. She came Tuesday, left yesterday. Oh!  Such a lovely time!  I felt like Ida Fitch – a feeling foreign to me since I came here.

We had a grand party last Wednesday night – danced until half past three.  I supposed I increased my cold that night for I was very warm and went to bed in a cold room.  I danced nearly all the time and could not have had a gayer time, and when the ball was over, in my own room I felt the truth of what you say “to be gay is not to be happy” I sat on my bed for some time thinking – I remembered the night we two sat by at the piano and sang “By Cool Siloam’s Shady Rill”14 and I thought “am I happy now as then?”  No, Jacob dear, I love you still, and beneath all the mockery which is only washed with happiness I feel the aching void that nothing but my true friend and lover can fill.  But enough of this, you will be quoting Tennyson’s words “too much love displeases more than hate”15

I was out to a party on Friday evening or night rather.  It was given in honor of Eva’s visit so I was obliged to go, although I was quite sick with a cold.  the rooms were chilly and  th Dr. Covernton prescribed dancing as a means of escaping cold, the host had engaged a fiddler so we danced.

I am very sorry to hear of your of your (sic) brother’s weakness.  Tis sad indeed to see one’s strength sinking – sinking until it is lost in the earth. I sincerely hope he may recover, and I beseech you Jacob what ever you do consider your heath16.  I prize education and culture as highly as anyone, but I should much rather you would stop just where you are than ch to go any farther and endanger your heath.17

The University course is certainly good, and but you will be none the less dear to me without it, and no more dear with it.  Of course Jacob you will not allow thoughts of me to influence you in either way. You will neither take nor give it up on my account.  Of course I am all right here, and can live in a whirl of excitement for ten years if necessary, yet I am not so wed to it than but18 I could not give it up at any time.  I may possibly go home this Summer to live with Ma until I go to live with someone else.

Tis late, I am tired and sleepy Will play you a goodnight on the guitar and dream.

Wishing you all happiness
I am ever your loving
Ida

 

*****
 

 

Goble’s Corners 19

 

My Dear Jake,

Back again to Goble’s!  I am so far on my homeward-bound journey. Expect to go to Simcoe on Monday & from there to Buda either Tuesday or Wednesday. Mamma is very weak & has given up the hope of coming East.  She has sent for me to come as soon as I can.  Of course, I cannot say when I will return, not until Mamma is able to come too or needs me no longer. I feel that I am going to face to terrible sorrow, how can I bear it!  Pray God to spare my dear Mother a little longer yet & if it is His will to take her to give us grace & strength

It is as well that I do not see you before I go.  There are too many partings all ready, my heart aches because of them!  I do not like to receive the letters, was glad your last was more cheerful, but you must not call me your ‘darling’, & I am not your ‘own’. When I say I will not be engaged to you at present I mean it, & you must write accordingly. & when I say I’m your sincere friend I mean that also.

Excuse haste, I am trying to make a dress before I go home.

I must bid you goodbye, Jake, but my blessing remains upon you.
Yours sincerely
Ida

 

*****
 

 

Simcoe

May 14, 1878

 

My dear Friend,

I hasten to reply to your kind letter, it was much kinder than I expected to receive under the circumstances.

Yes I will keep the ring, always, as a gift from “an old friend”, for I trust that the strongest links of friendship will ever bind us together, but more than that I cannot now promise.

In regard to my “vows”, I do not anticipate entering the Catholic Sisterhood, or anything of that kind, but I am determined to live a more honorable life.  I have not in the last year been upright and honorable to all men.  I have allowed those whom I did not love to believe I did love them, and even you I deceived in a measure for when I realized that you were not first in my heart I should have told you then instead of leaving it till now I still say I have not loved you with an undivided heart, and also that I have no lover, neither do I expect to have one.  There is someone in the world whom I love more than I now love you but this is all I know, and to me it is enough.  I have heard no confessions of love, neither do I expect to hear them. If my life be lonely I shall have the consciousness of having done right, and if I have lost a true lover, I have gained a clear conscience.

I cannot now promise you hopes for the future.  We may meet, I know not – the future alone must decide.  Neither can I tell you that you may see me in the Fall.  I do not know where I shall be nor how I shall feel towards you. Before we meet I must learn that I am “mistaken”.  I must prove the affection I have for another to be only a delusion, and I must have back again the old faith in religion.

Jacob I know there is a religion that has power to control peoples’ lives & to prevent the misery I have seen.  That religion I was taught to embrace has not20 done this, some religion surely can do it, and that I shall find and embrace. I believe in God and all His attributes and Him alone I shall always worship for “He, from the burden of life and the bonds of death, alone can deliver and set me free.”  It is useless for you to write on this subject, my course is decided.

You may have had for me the sympathy in sorrow that my heart craved, but you did not allow me to see it, and how could it then comfort me?  You cannot deny that you treated in a light manner what was to me most serious and sad & bitter. Your motive I could not then see, when your remarks were so often equivalent to “well, what of it?”  I would have expected the world to treat such sorrows lightly, but I expected something far different from my lover.  However I now see that I was mistaken and will remember your motive, not your action. You must know, Jacob, that I have never yet been able to solve the mysteries of last Spring.  I told you in my letters and also in Hamilton that the effects of those events could never be destroyed. Where you wrote that sentence “O Ida, tell me the why of all this!” you may have felt as I felt last Spring, and as I was compelled to feel all through that dreary, heartless Summer.  If this is cruel, what was that?  Don’t say again “may God spare you from such” I have felt such.  You did not know of the long midnight hours that I sat alone by my window, praying the God, who had power to sway the universe of worlds to still the beating of my heart!  Jacob I could never understand your actions at that time, nor can I now.  but this too may be remembered among the things of the past and forgotten.

Your surely can see many reasons why I ask this separation, and if you will for a few moments let your reason govern your affection you will say “it is best”

I think  I shall leave Simcoe the first of June.  I do not know where I shall go nor what I shall do nor when I shall return.

I wish you would burn my letters. Of course they would be burned if you sent them to me and the trouble of sending them is not necessary.  I do not care to receive them, so please burn them.  If you wish yours I will return them, if not, please tell me and I will burn them.

In regard to a correspondence I will answer when I hear from you again.

It is not necessary to utter or even write that bitter word ‘farewell’ or even “goodbye”.  I know their bitterness when they come from the lips of one we love or must be said to one we love.  Let is pass.

I can only say it is possible that the future may unite us again. God only knows.  He will direct.

As ever your firm friend
Ida.

 

*****
 

 

Simcoe

May 31, 1878

My dear Friend,

I have only a few moments before I shall have to give a lesson to one of Eva’s pupils, but I wish to begin a letter to you before this month closes and I can finish it in June.  Your letter was very interesting, if it alone were to influence I certainly should decide on a correspondence with you.

However you may write occassionally (sic) and I will reply until I fully decide to give up corresponding with gentlemen. I shall not have much time for letter writing, but will devote a share of it to you, understanding of course that you will write as an ordinary friend.21

My letter is begun.  I must leave it now for an errand down town.

June 10, 1878

It is sometime since I began this letter, and I thought to have answered it before.  I suppose it was (sic) be wise for me not to write tonight, since I have broken the formal link that bound us, and am supposed to write a friendship letter.  Old feelings and cherished ones take possession of my heart tonight and I realize how hard it is to loose one’self (sic)  from the bondage of time-strengthened love.  Once I said to you “Jacob is stamped forever on my heart!” 22 If this can be any comfort to you under the circumstances you may know that it is true whatever else you I23  may have said or done. The name and thought of Jacob will until death awaken in my soul a chord that no other name or thought can touch. I am weary of the world and its pleasures.  My heart is sick for I know I have wounded yours, and if tonight you feel one half the pain I felt a year ago may God forgive me for what I have done.  I may have acted hastily, but I cannot revoke what I said, for the moment I acted consciencously  (sic), it is done.  I cannot give you the name you ask for, I would willingly do so if I had the remotest idea that my name would ever be put aside for that one, but now never. My By24 asking to be released from the promise I gave you I have forfeited all claim to your love.  I may never be yours, but I never shall be his or anyone else’s. Ida Fitch shall be Ida Fitch always. But this is little like a friendship letter, but let me once more assure you that although divided parted25 my affection is still yours.  I have taken my promise from you, but in the calm of this moment I find that I did not take my heart from you.  “Finis.”

We attended a large military funeral today which was very affecting.  I seldom think of Death, but today I did remember that I too must die.  I almost dread Death for the life I live, and yet I think I shall welcome it.

A few days ago I received a nice piece of music “Nearer my God to Thee”.26 It is lovely and I think you must have sent it for no one else is so kind to me.  If it came from Jacob please accept my sincerest thanks.

I do know that other gentlemen might make more mistakes as a husband than you have made as a lover, and I know too that no one would be as kind to this child as Jacob Baker would be, and I know also that I could not give my life as confidently unto anyone’s keeping as unto yours, notwithstanding all that has occured (sic)in the past. But I said “finis” before and here I am again.

Eva gave me27 a nicely bound copy of Goldsmith’s28 plays and poems. I enjoy reading them29 and I did not know that Goldsmith ever wrote anything as beautiful as the “Traveler”.  Since I came home I have read “Thackerays”30 “Paris Sketch Book”31 and “Adventures of Phillip”32 which is certainly one of the best novels I ever read.  I have those horrible chills yet so am good for nothing much and in a great deal.

Yes, but I am busy occassionally (sic).

Yesterday forenoon I went to church, had a chill all the afternoon and went to church in the evening, nearly burned up with the fever.

Today I have had one tooth extracted, attended a funeral, practiced an hour and a half, wrote six letters for Pa, and read part of Byron’s “Corsair”.33

Eva and Arthur have come from “Choral Society”, it is after ten and time for retiring.  I must say goodnight.

Ever your firm friend
Ida,

 

Eva is going to answer your letter soon – “twenty-four pages long” – she sends her love in this letter.

 

*****
 

 

Simcoe

Aug 13, 1878

 

My dear Friend

It is so long since I wrote you that you must have given up entirely looking for a letter.  I have tried several times to answer your last two letters, but I find it the hardest thing I ever tried to do _ to write you an ordinary friendship letter. I cannot do it, it is useless to try. But I have felt very unkind for being silent so long and I know it must have grieved you, so I write one more letter to you and let it be an old-time letter for I want you to know that now my heart is the same that it was three years ago when you found it was yours but my life is so changed that it can no longer be placed by the side of yours.

First, let me tell you that the affection which I fancied placed us apart is gone, it did its work, it showed more plainly the lasting love I have for you. That man’s kindness awakened a gratitude, his misfortunes awakened a pity and when these two are united they make a strong force, but it could not last.  I say this to clear myself I knew I could not be false to you and I fo when I found that you were again the sole occupant of my heart to remain there forever I was glad although I felt that we were apart forever.

Now Jacob, if it will be any comfort to you in this life you may know that you still possess and I firmly believe shall always possess the love of my soul.  What I once told you is true “Jacob is stamped forever on my heart”  I cannot crowd you out of my thoughts. Whether in the crowd or in solitude there is always something to bring you to my mind and although our lives may never be united I am happier silently34 living in this old love so strong yet tender than I could be in my second affair however convenient.  I love you Jacob today as I loved you two years ago when you discovered that my heart was yours. But this love is all that is left of the old Ida.  I am only the hard pupil of life and the world and utterly incapable of sympathizing with or aiding you in your life’s work.  The world is too much in my heart, Jacob, it crowds out religion and everything else but my love for you, that will remain.  It is not wise for us to meet, for feeling would outweigh Judgement and as long as our lives are so far apart they never can be – they must not be united. I know what the results would be – I have seen a similar case in my own house.  With my feelings views of religion and life I would certainly wound your feelings and hinder your work, I will not dampen the earnest zeal of any christian life.  I give you my love remain with you strong and true, I give you sp my spirit to follow you all through life.  These you have had for more than two years and shall always have, but as long as you follow the course you have chosen and I the one I have strayed into you never can have my hand. We must part for a few years at least.  I can find relief in a life of action, and you will be happy in living for God.  And O Jacob my cherished and best loved friend believe me that wherever I go whatever I do I shall cherish your memory, and the thought that you once loved me will light forever my life.  And could I know that35 wherever I go your spirit will be with me I should be happy, can you grant me this?  but no Jacob I will not ask it, forget me if you can, place your love on a worthy being who can in reality – not in dreams – share your life, and God grant that you may be happy.  I shall never forget you, I shall always love you, your image “serene and sublime in my heart rests unconscious of change & of time36, this is all.

I shall not promise to write you again.  I can’t do it. If you wish to answer, do so, but do not ask me to write.  You know my heart from this letter, ‘tis all I can promise.

Goodbye Jacob.
Always the same loving
friend
Ida

 

*****
 

Lemonville Sep.78

Dear Miss Fitch –

Your favor of the 28 just received.

I must acknowledge the kindly tone of your letter and in reply I beg leave to say that I have duly considered the contents.  I have considered what I think an injury done me. and the expression of regret for doing it.

I have also considered what I think will be best for “both parties” concerned. and having come to the conclusion that you are the same old Ida you used to be.  You may expect me along soon or some time in the future to “hug you up to my buzzim”37

Your only

J.J.

 

*****
 

Sept. 7. 1878

 

My dearest Jacob,

Last week I had a very welcome letter from you, saying you would leave Clarance on the 2nd, coming West, and would visit me.

I wrote you to Lemonville asking you to come if you could forgive your Ida and again receive her to your arms and to your heart.  Did you get my letter?  This week I have watched every train hoping to see you, and tonight when the last train for the week has come I cant help feeling a little (?) sad.

I am afraid that your brother’s serious illness has detained you at home. I earnestly pray God to be near him38 as he passes through the ‘valley of the shadow of death’ and to receive him in Heaven. And may His presence comfort you, my loved friend.  If your soul is sad tonight, dear Jacob, may the God of all love pour therein the oil of gladness.

My prayers tonight are all for you, my love goes all to you, and my thoughts are full of you.  I have learned this week more perfectly than ever that my heart is Jacob Baker’s alone.  Will you never come to claim it?  or is it now all unworthy your possession?

If so, come not to press your finger on the wound that I have made.  I was foolish, I was wrong, I need to suffer.

It is late.  I have worked hard today and am very tired.  Tomorrow is Sunday, O my friend I do wish you were here to spend it with me.  I enjoy the Lord’s day more now than I have enjoyed them lately, but it would be more pleasant if you were here.

Goodnight, God bless you ever, my faithful friend.
Always your loving,
Ida.

 

*****
 

Sept. 22. /78

My dear Jacob,

This is Sunday so

I cannot write a long letter, for I have but a few moments before Sunday School.  I have the infant class, and you never saw a group of sweeter little girls in your life.  I have a perfect “Maud and Dodle”39 only they are “Lilly and Birdie”.

I am sorry you cannot come to Simcoe now but would not for a moment think of you leaving your poor brother.  Give him your presence as long as you can, for the dark Journey must be taken alone, no not alone thank God, for His presence will be there a light in the darkness.  O my friend, life may seem long and dreary and all may not be able to enjoy it but surely we all can endure it for the sake of what comes after.  That ‘after’ seems long in coming sometimes but each day brings it nearer. Is it only the weak hearts that long to be free from the burden of life?  Only the weak hearts that quail and sink while looking at the untold agony of those we love.?  By the grace of God I could suffer intensely if I could suffer alone, but to see vulnerable lives wrecked, loving hearts broken and stand by powerless to aid – O this is awful!  But that God who is “too wise to err, too good to be unkind”  may have mercy on us all and shorten our days, this is the only earthly hope!  And then that glorious hereafter! O can it be that there is happiness then for us?  O blessed Saviour lift our souls to Thee and tell  us that Thou will restore unto us in that sweet Evermore the long-lost Joy of this “grief-shadowed present”!  May we have grace to wait God’s time!

We expect to move on the second day of October, it will be about the middle of the month before we get nicely settled, but if you can come before then I shall be glad to see you of course.  I think I shall be in Simcoe at Christmas.

Next Sunday is Papa’s last in Simcoe.  He leaves the first of next month for the Winter at least we are not going to move from Simcoe understand, but are going to let a larger family have this house.

Goodbye for the present Jacob.  I hope you are well and happy, perfectly happy.  Believe me still
Yours most lovingly
Ida –

 

*****
 

Simcoe

Oct. 21, 1878

My dearest Jacob,

You wrote last, so here is an answer. I am giving a painting lesson in the other end of this room, but I believe any interest is in this corner.  When this lesson is over I am going, in the country to stay this week, and would rather write here than there.

I like to be alone when I write to you, to feel perfectly free to pen my thoughts.  Now I am willing that you should see my heart in my letters. I do love you Jacob as fondly and as truly as when you first held me close to your heart.  Indeed when you left me on Friday I thought you never seemed so dear, and even in that parting, sad as it was to me, I felt more Joy than I have felt for more than four months.  O I have been miserable without the light of your love and I tell you honestly life was becoming almost unendurable. I saw that the Doctor was surely winning from me all that was left, Eva, and I was more wretched.

But now I am perfectly happy again, my life is “complete and glad” once more.

I have not deserved this happiness for I have wandered far from God but by His help my life shall from this time be given again to Him.  I do desire to be nobler, holier and more useful, and with your love dear Jacob, to lighten my life it cannot fail to be brighter. Your faith is strong, how mine has wavered in the last two years!  Could I but have preserved my faith, simple but strong, my feet would not have strayed so far from the ways of righteousness, but God is forgiving.  He can remove my sins from me “as far as the East is from the West.” 40

You know I am a sort of a desperate girl when I get “off the track”, and no one but yourself seems capable of bringing me back.  You are just the man to keep me “straight”.  Some one says “the great moral combat between human life and each human soul must be single,” but I believe that one soul can help another a great deal in this fight.  I know a soul strong and loving that reaches close to mine and assists it in many a victory.  And I know a heart tendre (sic) and true whose warmest throbs I believe are for me.  Well Jacob here is a heart as tender, as true that beats for you alone and beats as warmly, as wildly as two years ago, when “hungry lips” were first satisfied.

Last Saturday evening the Dr. gave Eva a handsome present, a ring, not very large but set with four rubies and five diamonds.  It is a beauty. She was as much surprised as pleased.  Fancy a diamond ring in this house!  Eva always said she would marry a rich man, but she does not think much about it now I fancy.  If the Dr.’s health is sufficiently improved they will spend a year in Europe.  This is all very nice, but I would not exchange the wealth of affection I have received for ten times that amount of worldly possessions. While I am happy as I am now I ask for no more.

“Dinner!”

x    x   x   x   x    x    x     x

After this week I must work, we will have two or three boarders for a time and I am housekeeper,  so until Saturday I am going to frolic.  When twelve miles away from home I shall be quite at liberty to do as I wish, I’ll visit every nook and corner in that farm, and come home laden with Autumn leaves and two red roses.

Do you expect to be in Toronto next May?  Eva is anxious to know, she will probably be there for a few days in that month.  How strange it will seem to have a married sister! Clara says she can go up to the Dr’s for a swing then, and I shall be Miss Fitch.

Well well!  I have just found while looking in my portfolio for your last letter, a few verses that were written when somebody was no as happy as she is today _

“ I remember the promise my young lips gave and the love that to each was given. But the deep, still joy of our souls that night comes nevermore this side Heaven.”

That is one verse and doubtless as much as you can “stand” for this time. The whole affair seems extremely sorrowful when I read it now, so I put it aside for something more cheerful.  For if ever in my life I was truly happy I am happy now.  And Jacob my beloved has the sorrow all gone from your heart? Can you truly me that you feel today the joy you felt when you first called me your Ida?  I know you have forgiven me, but I want to know that the shadow I cast on your heart is all gone.  If you knew now how tenderly and deeply I love you, Jacob, you would be happy, if my love has any power over your soul.  For my life give out to you in all its strength and fondness.

(You know I always admired Miss Dorr, so I’ll finish my letter in her style)  I believe you said you do not know Miss McLaughlin’s address, it is 134 George St. you may wish to call.  Arthur has had a heavy chill chill (sic) today, poor fellow, and is burning with fever.  I really must leave you now, and prepare for my journey into a far country. I’ll find the prettiest little fern in all the woods and send to you. In the meantime I bid you goodbye.

That you may be happy as I am is the best wishes I can make.  Goodby (sic), “a thousand times” goodbye, dearest.
I am still your own loving Ida.

 

*****
 

Simcoe
November 2 /78
My dearest Jacob,

It is two weeks today since you left me.  Since then my life has run along smoothly, but Death has come near unto you and one of your loved ones in gone. Believe me Jacob, you have my deepest sympathy now, and may this sorrow bring you nearer to God and to Heaven.  While your brother was living I prayed God to be near him as his soul passed through the “dark valley” but it is all over now and life’s long, bitter griefs can nevermore reach him.  It is indeed sad to think that your home circle is broken on earth, but it is Joy to think that it is begun in Heaven.

Your brother’s death makes me think again of the gratitude I owe to God.  I want to feel and show more gratitude.  Every day I see christians41 who are sorely tired praising and serving God, while I who am so blessed stand almost idly by “Create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me.”

You don’t know with what a thrill of pain I read your brother’s prophecy.  It was so strange but Jacob, it cannot be so.  The all-wise God would not take you now.  You have a work to do for Him, and if my most earnest prayers are heard you will live many, many many years yet.  O Jacob I could not live without you!  It seems to me scarcely possible for you to die.

Now I will answer some of your questions.  No sir, there is not in my heart a wish that I had loved a rich man.  Eva’s ring is nice, and I would rather am glad it is on her finger instead of on mine.  I think she values it more than I should.  There is a small gold band on my finger which I value far more highly than I should value the most brilliant diamond ring which came from another source.

Sometimes I fancy you can read my thoughts, but you read wrongly if you think you see in my heart a wish that I had loved any one different from Jacob Baker, or a feeling of dissatisfaction because he does not possess more of this world’s goods.  I am perfectly satisfied, and if you keep your promise to take me over you farm I shall have no desire to go to Europe.

“Is there perfect confidence restored between us?”  I cannot answer for you, Jacob, but for my own heart I truthfully say yes. I can I do trust you entirely, but do not blame you if you cannot trust me, although I did hope and still hope you do.

There is no fear in the heart “that what a fellow once did he might do again, and of the fear about the “girl”  I cannot answer. I only hope tonight that you trust and love me as wholly as I trust and love you.  I am satisfied in regard to the affection you have given me sufficient evidence.

I sincerely hope Jacob that we may live happily until the end of our lives.  I have learned a few lessons from the experience of others as well as a short one of my own.  I know why people situated as we are sometimes fail to be happy, and I have also learned why people, more intimately connected than we are, often fail. I tell you Jacob this is not the sweetest lesson to learn, but it is most valuable.

Yes I am taking music lessons from Miss Fitch, and if I am a good girl this Winter she says I may take from Mrs. York in the Spring.  The next time you come to Simcoe I will play for you until you say “stop!”  And this reminds me that Christmas is coming.  We have promised Clara some sport for Christmas eve, can you not be here that night?  There will just be yourself, Dr. York and the rest of us, we want a grand old time Christmas eve and day.

Please tell me if you think you can promise Christmas with us. Many thanks for that “phiz42 of the Pastor”  My!  how eloquent he looks!  Well, really Jacob I could scarcely believe it was intended to represent you.  It does look ministerial certainly, but more like some other ministers than the one.

I had a fine week in the country, but got homesick & the folks had to bring me home. 43 (“Excuse that blot please” or blame this popped corn I am trying to eat)  While away I had the pleasure of attending a grainger’s tea-meeting.  Miss Barber, the lady with whom I was visiting and I walked a mile and a half alone in the dark to attend this tea-meeting.  It was “fun alive”. We were not at all frightened O no!  but going home it seemed darker and the fun was all behind us, and there was an ugly black dog before us, that barked (think of it!) and would not allow us to go farther, then we moved restlessly about the road for sometime, until a stranger in a comfortable carriage chanced to pass that way, and my company in a very expressive tone, called “Mis..mister!”  “Who, ho! ride, ladies?”  Well, we did’nt know but we would, of course, “we were’nt  afraid”, but it was getting late, and we were anxious to get home.

We spent the next day in the woods gathering leaves and ferns.  That was a lovely day!  I saw the sun rise, I churned, I milked a cow, all in one week!

This is Saturday night, I have a few duties to attend to so must bide you good night.  I will send a small picture when I write next time.

I wish you a happy day tomorrow Jacob.

With warmest love I remain
Ever your
Ida.

*****
 

                                    Simcoe

Nov. 16.1878

 

My dearest Jacob,

What a blessing that Miss Baber did’nt come for her painting lesson today! I have two hours alone in my own room.  This is what I enjoy. I have to go down town before tea and this evening I am going to take my work and go up to Lizzie Perry’s.  There will be Mary Chadwick with her sewing.  Edith Chadwick with her sewing, May Young with her sewing and Liz and T— Perry with their sewing.  We do not admit any gentlemen to these sewing parties and do not remain later than half past ten.  I am going to stay all night with the girls tonight and they are coming to my Church tomorrow morning.

I wish you could call next Wednesday evening.  The leader of our Choral Society, our first basso, and first sopranos are coming in.  We will sing from seven until half past ten. These musical gatherings are bright stars in their firmament of our life.  Every day I become more fond of music, I see more beauty in it than ever before. I do not unwillingly study it I assure you, although I know it is now a duty for I expect to take most of Eva’s class in the Spring.

We had some fine fun here last Saturday about midnight. Eva’s friend was here.  When Arthur and I retired we locked all the doors and hid the keys. We retired, left our room doors open and tortured ourselves by remaining awake to hear the fun.  At midnight that parlor door creaked.  The goodnight was said (I heard it) and then “Why Ev. this door is locked and the key is gone!” “That miserable Id. has done that!”  Well they searched and searched, and at last Eva got furious and come to me for the key.  It was no easy task to waken me and “I had’nt the slightest idea where the key was” gone.  After some time she succeeded in bring Arthur (sic) sufficiently to himself to say he didn’t lock the door!  It was heaps of fun. They say “never mind!  Christmas is coming”  That is the only retaliation.

I am afraid I shall not have my photos before the last of next week.  I will send one as soon as I get them.

I will turn to your letter. You did feel rather blue when you wrote that first sheet. Why you dear old boy.  I thought you couldn’t feel blue!  If I had been with you then I would have put my arms about your neck, touched your lips and say “Dont be sorrowful darling!:  But I was44 not there and I am not there, and O dear! it makes me blue to think I cannot be there.

Yes Jacob I should very much like to study in Toronto. You know it is difficult for me with not very much money to wade through that University.  I know it is impossible for one with no money to even enter. No Jacob as long as I am Ida Fitch I shall work for Mamma, and all I can earn must go for her comfort. My college days are over.

You seem to think that I would very much rather you would take the university course.  I will love you just as much and be just as willing to share your life if you do not remain one more day in Toronto, if that course can help you to do more good for Christ I would like you to have it.  Truly Jacob I desire it only as a means to a good end.  As far as personal interest is concerned.  I am as well pleased with or without it.  The more a person knows the more good he can do I suppose, but after all I dont know as it is so much the mind as the heart that makes the man and does the work.  And I dont know that it is always best for a man to spend the best of his years in preparing for work.  Well Jacob this is like your trip to Brantford, there are strong arguments in favor of each side.  But dearest choose what you think to be the better way, and I shall be well satisfied.

Sunday evening.

If Mr. Alexander had not spoken fifty-five minutes this evening I would a nice long time to write to mon aimè amour.  but the sermon was beautiful “for in such an hour as ye think not He will come” O Jacob it made my heart rejoice to hear of the coming of our blessed Lord.  And “we shall see Him as He is” and “be like Him”.  Surely it is true that “the sufferings of the present time are not worthy to be compared to the glory that shall be revealed in us”. It seems to me that the greatest Joy of Heaven will be our freedom from sin.  What delight to revel in the society of spirits made perfect!  No sir, this will be Heaven enough for my soul.  And pain and grief never can reach us there, and no parting!  O Jacob dear will there a day come when we shall forever clasp hand in hand as soul to soul?  Will our spirits be joined in Heaven?  Tonight I fain would know if my soul shall be dearer to thine in Heaven as it is dearer on earth, and if we shall wander together in sweet commission through those boundless regions of all perfection! I wonder if earthly loves do die with Death!  But I cannot know this.  Sufficient the hope that your soul shal and mine shall have a home with God, and our joy shall be full.  Heaven seems very near to my soul tonight, and I almost long for an entrance there, but death is the gate and there is nothing in itself for us to desire while life is sweet, Death may be desired because it brings rest for the weary, releif (sic) to the sufferer and balm to the broken heart and there is something terrible in death from which, I believe, the strongest Christian shrinks. But when our faith can grasp the glory that lies beyond we long to be there.  Dear me!  Jacob I do wish I could work as easily as I can dream, I might win some soul for Christ!

I wish I could talk with you tonight instead of writing.  It seems along (sic) since we looked over that time-table together. Where are you now Jacob?  What are you doing?  Is there a longing in your heart just now to hold in your arms one whose heart is beating warmly and wildly and all for you?  I believe affection is like all else in nature, it must be fed.  Heart and lips are crying for food, and arms are extended to receive.  Jacob come to me tonight, it seems to me I cannot live without your presence for I love you with my very life and I long to rush to your arms again. now.  But you are far away, I may long and may dream but that is all tonight.

I must retire for if tomorrow it will bring work.  We are going to tear the house down Xmas Eve and are anxious for your help. Jacob will you please tell me if this sentence is written correctly “De cruce glorior”45?

Goodnight, goodnight, and as many kisses as you can imagine
from your truly loving
Ida.

 

*****
 

                  Simcoe

Nov. 23.1878

 

My own dear Jacob,

Eva and Dr. are going to have a visit this evening and I am going to chat “pen-and-inkly” with you.  O if Xmas ever comes this pen and ink will be thrown aside and nestling close to that great warm heart I will speak my thoughts.  I wish I could tell how much I love you but when my head is pillowed where it loves most to be, it seems that my heart speaks to thine and you must know how how much I love you. Yes, Jacob, hearts do know each other, and tonight I know that you love me for I remember the complete Joy I feel when your arms enfold me close to that loving heart.  O Jacob mime46 can you not come tonight and satisfy the longings of my yearning soul? It seems to me I never loved you as I love you now.  The passion and love of all these years seem rushing from my heart tonight and I cannot live without you.  The past is past, and although storms may ruffle our ocean of life those storms can never return.  Others may disturb the surface but I shall never be the one.

No, Jacob, you must not keep your blue thoughts all to yourself.  I have written you many a blue sheet, and if you are sad I desire to know it.  You are more than willing for me to share in your gladness, and when troubled thoughts come you must not turn aside from me to hide them.  I may not be able to help you greatly but I can show you that I am not void of sympathy with for you.  I tell you in this one thing a great many people err sadly – hiding the inner life from each other.  The pleasant thoughts are not the only thoughts that should be interchanged.

No doubt I have more time for letter-writing than you have, and writing to you is the most delightful task I have.  I do enjoy giving you pleasure, more especially when in so doing I give myself pleasure also.  O the selfishness of the human heart!

I do wish I had more time for reading and study.  I love books, but cannot devote as much time to them as I should like, they cannot destroy grief but they bring an oblivion that is sweet while it lasts.  Many a heart has rested from sorrow while the mind has been lost in study.  “Tis the mind’s own feelings give the Joy, pleasures she gathers in her own employ.” 47

Many thanks for your correction both in English and Latin.  Hereafter I shall write “In cruce glorior”48 and “written”.

I feel very selfish when urging your to be with me on Xmas day.  Your mother has the first claim, Jacob, and if she desires your presence on that day as badly much as I desire it why, O dear I don’t know what!  Well, if you should spend Xmas at home can you not be here for New Year’s day?  Xmas will be on Wednesday, could you come the following Thursday, Friday or Saturday? If you can, we will leave the house standing until then so you can help tear it down.

I think Eva is not likely to change her mind before Spring unless she should decide to change her name before then. The Dr. is not at all well and on this account may be compelled to go South before the Winter is over, if so Eva will go with him.

I warn you Jacob, if it should rain many more days you will need to bring stilts when you come to Simcoe.  I went down town this afternoon and I declare I tried thru crossings and gave them up.  It rains constantly these days.  “The day is cold and dark and dreary, it rains and the wind is never weary.”49 It requires a very bright heart to enjoy these heavy, dark days. But then the beautiful sunsets? I ask not, my loved one, that the days of your life may be cloudless, but that there may not be one more cloud than is necessary to make a glorious sunset.  And in the evening may we together watch the darkest clouds edged with crimson and gold.  O I do pray that we may together watch the daylight fade and the shadows of evening draw near, and as our faces grow dim in the deepening twilight may we still firmly clasp our hands and enter the darkness together.  But into that darkness of Death each soul must go alone, no not alone, for the spirit of our god will be with all the souls that trust in Him.

“Tick! tick! tick! Our life seconds numbering!”50  It will soon be Sunday morning, and I am still writing.  I cannot say “goodnight” yet.  My lips are held up for one more kiss and these arms refuse to loose their clasp. Take me to your arms once more dear Jacob, let me pillow my head on that faithful breast, let my arms be twined about your neck, let my lips be pressed to thine and then I am happy. Yes this is perfect happiness, but how seldom it comes to the longing heart! But there will a day come when I shall be all yours and you will be all mine, and then O then –

I must leave you now.  If you were with me tonight I would give you a kiss warm enough to melt an icicle and long enough to reach into the middle of next week.

Goodnight Jacob, I will dream of you until I sleep, and then until I wake.  May the God of all goodness shield you ever in his arms of love, and give to your soul perfect peace.

Monday morning,

The morning work is done, I have had my music lesson and can finish my letter before preparing dinner.

It is snowing, raining, hailing freezing and melting, and I must go down town this afternoon in all this storm to get my teeth filled. How I dread it!  If it were not for the looks of the thing I would not have them touched.

Well, Elder, did you have a happy day yesterday?  I had.  The service in the morning was nice and I had a most delightful class in s.s.51  Two lady friends took tea with us and we sang for two hours.  I did enjoy it, only we had no tenor.

In the evening, Eva went to Methodist church and I played for her.  Unfortunately we have a minister whom it is impossible to please in the music line.  He has “a few suggestions” in this direction nearly every Sunday. Last evening there were three of our choir absent, and even then I thought we made too much noise for music.  But at the end of the first verse the parson “lifted up his voice and said” “Can’t we have better singing that that?” I remarked “try it yourself and see how it goes” (and he did try it) He then addressed his remarks to audience “There are not half of you singing, you are like so many dumb dogs.” I waited until all had sufficiently recovered from shock and then began.  O how we yelled!  I drew every stop on the organ and it puffed for certain. I was afraid the machine was (sic) go off like a rocket, it did’nt but it took a very long time for the steam to go off when they hymn was finished.  If next Sunday sermons are as long as yesterdays were I think there may be “a few suggestions offered the minister.

But seriously, Jacob, the sermon last evening was fine.  We heard about the Judgements of the saints. It is a blessing to know that the questions “guilty or not guilty?” will have been answered for us long before we came into the presence of our God.  There will be “no condemnation for we have passed from death unto life”.52  What has the Christian to fear either in this life or the life that is to be? There is only one thing more that I desire to be perfectly happy, it is a full consecration of my life f to Christ.  There are too many Christians satisfied with the mere hope of reaching Heaven. I want some sheaves53 to lay at the feet of my Master.  There is so much in every day life to draw our minds from god, and my heart is a wandering one.  But the grace of God is sufficient, pray, dear Jacob, that I may be able to walk continually in the path of rightousness. (sic)

Arthur will soon be in for his dinner and if it is’nt ready __

Goodbye for the present. Take great care of your throat, and don’t preach it if is sore. Let one of the deacons “expound” for a change.  Adieu!  As ever your
own girl
Ida.

*****
 

                           Simcoe

Dec 9 1878

My dearest Jacob,

Your letter is just received and I have only few minutes for writing. I am glad your exams are so long before Xmas and again I ask you to be with us on that day if possible.  Since I do not know Mr. White’s address will you please tell him we will be glad to see him with you.  He will be very welcome.  And Jacob please be here for Xmas eve if you can.  You know that is the grandest time of the year and our hearts are fixed on that day.

We have a concert tomorrow evening, a tea meeting Thursday evening, and I have to give a drawing & painting lesson each two hours long every day this week and now I have to write while the rest are finishing dinner.  I can have more time for practicing (–) after N.Y.  We want to have a grand old evening while you are here.  The leader of our Choral will come in some evening.

I will write again as soon as I can steal away for more than five minutes.

If you cant come Xmas, come as soon after as you can.

Kindest regards to Mr. White and the warmest love to your own dear self from your
loving
Ida

 

 

*****
 

Simcoe

Dec. 16, 1878

My dearest Jacob,

This is “blue-Monday”, and nothing to do until evening.  I am glad our Choral Society comes on Sunday evenings, else there would be no break in the monotony of this day.  Our Choral Concert came off last Tuesday evening, and as grand success it was, your humble servant sang “The Lost Chord” and got such a big enchore (sic) I was “scared”, however I recovered and sang “Dreams of Thee”.  I saw one or two gentlemen smile, but I said “it doesn’t mean you”.  We are going to have a grand musical convention next month.  I think Dr. Root54 from Chicago will be conductor.  I am longing for the time to come when we can sing four days and four evenings.

We are going to sing at a country tea-meeting tomorrow evening, six of us, you know that is the place to go for fun.

So you walked home with a Presbyterian lady, did you? Ha! ha!  you (—)55 you can’t get a head (sic) of me, listen to this!

A week ago last Wednesd (sic) evening I met at a Methodist social, a handsome Presbyterian56 gentleman he took me to tea and walked home with me.  The following Tuesday evening he walked home with me from the concert.  I said “Will you come in?”  No, it was late, would I be in the following evening? “Yes”.  Of course he spent Wednesday evening with me.  Last evening he was at our Church and walked home with me.  We were home first and found the doors locked so took a walk around town. We arrived home in safty (sic) [54. safety] & my Presbyterian gentleman came into the parlor for an hour.  He is extremely pleasant, but I guess we will not fall in love with each other.  Now Jacob Baker can your Presbyterian
lady beat this?  But I’ll stop or you will be mad.

I suppose you are plodding away at examinations now.  I wish you every possible success Jacob, but don’t work yourself to Death please.  The (sic) is a wretched little note, but is blue Monday and I cant write decently to anyone.  Please tell me when you expect to arrive in Simcoe, as our arrangements will depend on this.

I’m off now, good bye_
with fondest love
Yours
Ida

 

  1. gladly (from the Old English, faegen)
  2. two undecipherable characters
  3. I’m not sure if this letter is in fact the continuation and final part of the letter dated January 21st – it was found nestled into the letter dated in December 9th 1878, however in this letter Ida refers to the “night nurse” and to “the patients” so it must have been written while she was working in the hospital in Hamilton. The letter dated January 21st  does not have a typical closure, so until something further is discovered, it is plausible that this is the final part of that letter.
  4. “me” was written in superscript
  5. This may be a spelling error, however “tendre” is the Middle English spelling, eg. “The tendre croppes..”  from the Canterbury Tales, 14th century, by Geoffrey Chaucer
  6. From Hamlet’s soliloquy:

    “To be, or not to be, that is the question:
    Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
    The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
    Or to take arms against a sea of troubles
    And by opposing end them. To die—to sleep,
    No more; and by a sleep to say we end
    The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
    That flesh is heir to: ’tis a consummation
    Devoutly to be wish’d. To die, to sleep;
    To sleep, perchance to dream—ay, there’s the rub:
    For in that sleep of death what dreams may come,
    When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
    Must give us pause—there’s the respect
    That makes calamity of so long life.”
    (Hamlet 3.1.55-68)

  7. From “The Great Fourfold Waterfall” by M.J. Walhouse, published first in Fraser’s Magazine, volume 17, January 1878, pp. 32-45 (Also published in Little’s Living Age, volume 136, issue 1758, 1878, and a few months later in the Friends’ Review, volume 31, number 34, 1878) .
    The same article from which this quotation was cited includes the following “The account of his wanderings in the form of letters to a friend was thought worthy of translation into English, and deservedly; it is full of close observation, accurate description and quaint remark.” (p.33)
  8. This may be Dr. C.W. Covernton who in 1880 was a member of the founding committee of the Ontario Medical Association.
  9. Originally written as “red” and corrected with the insertion of “a” in superscript.
  10. “The Fire Worshippers” is the third tale of Lalla Rookh written by Thomas Moore.  Published in 1817, it is the story, told in verse, of a young Cashmerian poet, Feramorz, hired to accompany and entertain the Indian princess, Lalla Rookh, as she traveled from Delhi to Cashmere where she was to be married to the king of Bucharia.   Over the course of the trip, the poet tells four tales, and as he does, the princess falls in love with him.  Luckily for them both, the poet turns out to be the Bucharian king to whom she has been promised.
  11. “evening” is written in superscript signalled by a caret insertion mark
  12. Hinda is the main female character of “The Fire Worshippers” in which she and her love find fates similar to that of Romeo and Juliet.
  13. “unsatisfied” was originally written as “unsatisfying” with the “-ying” written over with “-ied”
  14. An 1812 hymn written by Reginald Heber (1783-1826), with music by William Gardiner (1750-1853).
  15. footnote pending.
  16. sic
  17. sic
  18. Written in superscript above the struck out “than”.
  19. Undated. Gobles Corners, before it was known as Arnold, was a small village in Blandford-Blenheim Township in Oxford County. It lies south-west of Hamilton, and therefore a reasonable stop on a trip from Hamilton to Simcoe which is in Norfolk County, near Lake Erie. Since the next letter dated in 1878 was written from Simcoe, this letter might be considered in this sequential place.
  20. ‘not’ was added in superscript using a caret insertion mark
  21. “friend” was written below “ordinary”, to squeeze it in as the final word of the page
  22. In her letter of August 13, 1878, Ida will once again refer to this expression. In lines 2609-18, Part 1, of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s Faust, Faust talks of Margarete who has just walked away from him, rejecting his offer of an escort and leaving him standing in the street – just before Mephistopheles appears:
    FAUST. By God, that girl is a real beauty!
    I’ve never seen one quite like her
    She is all modesty and virtue,
    and yet there’s a bit of pertness too.
    As long as I live I won’t forget
    those glowing cheeks and ruby lips!
    Even the way she lowered her eyes
    is stamped forever on my heart;
    as for the brusqueness of her manner,
    that was especially delightful!
    Enter MEPHISTOPHELES
  23. “I” is written in superscript above the stricken out “you”.
  24. “By” was written in superscript above the struck over “My”.
  25. “parted” is written in superscript above the struck over “divided”.
  26. Written in 1841 by Sarah Flower Adams (the sixth verse is credited to Edward H. Bickersteth. It is said to be based loosely on the book of Genesis (28:11-19), which tells the story of ‘Jacob’s dream’. In the dream, a ladder appears before Jacob reaching up toward heaven, allowing the angels to travel between heaven and earth.
  27. “me” is written in superscript signalled by a caret insertion mark
  28. Oliver Goldsmith (1730-1774) born in Ireland, spent his early adulthood begging and busking (playing the flute) as he travelled through Europe. He would become famous as a playwright and novelist. His major works include The Traveller (1764) – poem that gained him respect as a serious writer – The Vicar of Wakefield (1766), She Stoops to Conquer (1773), and A Citizen of the World (1762).
  29. “them” is written in superscript signalled by a caret insertion mark
  30. The quotation marks surrounding Thackeray’s name appear in the original letter.
  31. The Paris Sketchbook was written by William Makepeace Thackeray (1811-1863) in 1840
  32. Another of Thackeray’s works, The Adventures of Philip was written between 1860 and 1862.
  33. A leading poet of the Romantic movement, George Gordon Byron (1788 – 1824), the 6th Baron Byron, gained notoriety also for his political activities and his personal life. When “The Corsair” was first published in February of1814 it sold out its entire first run of 10,000 copies in a single day in London. “The Corsair” is a semi-autobiographical tale of a pirate who risks his lover’s life in order to rescue the chief slave in a Turkish harem.
  34. written in superscript with an insertion caret mark below
  35. It appears that Ida had first written “what” and then wrote a “t” over the word initial “w”
  36. A citation from Lucile, by Owen Meredith(the pen name of Edward Robert Bulwer Lytton,1831 –1891). It is from Canto V, Stanza IX, in which the Comtesse de Nevers tells Lord Alfred Vargrave of her memory of her dead lover, lines 34 to 46 are as follows:
    The Being I loved is no more.
    What I hear in the silence, and see in the lone
    Void of life, is the young hero born of my own
    Perish’d youth: and his image, serene and sublime
    In my heart rests unconscious of change and of time,
    Could I see it but once more, as time and as change
    Have made it, a thing unfamiliar and strange,
    See, indeed, that the Being I loved in my youth
    Is no more, and what rests now is only, in truth,
    The hard pupil of life and the world: then, oh, then,
    I should wake from a dream, and my life be again
    Reconciled to the world; and, released from regret,
    Take the lot fate accords to my choice.’
    (as posted by the Project Gutenberg)
    Lucile, a novel written in verse, was first published in 1860 in England and the U.S. Until the time is went out of print, in 1938, it was published by nearly 100 American publishers, in apparently almost 2,000 editions and issues (see the “Lucile Project”)
  37. “buzzim” is likely a reference to a Victorian spelling of “bosom’ used in fiction to emphasize a character’s lack of education or social stature (see chapter IV, Mysteries of London by George W.M. Reynolds (1844))
  38. It appears that Ida had originally written “Him” and then changed the capital to a lower case ‘h’.
  39. Perhaps a reference to the characters of Maud and Dudley in Sheridan Le Fanu’s novel “Uncle Silas”, published in 1864 and set in England.
  40. Psalm 103:12 “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.”
  41. “christian” was written with a lower case “c”
  42. “phiz” is a colloquial British English expression meaning the face (according to the Oxford dictionary, an abbreviation of phiznomy from physiognomy)
  43. An ink splotch approx. 1cm x 1cm. When I read this letter for the first time, I was eating some popcorn – I nearly choked when I read the next line.
  44. wast with the “t” struck through
  45. See footnote no. 45 on page 69.
  46. mime:  to act out with gestures and body movement
  47. The source of this citation appears to be Letter XXIV in The Borough, by George Crabbe (1754-1832).  The paragraph from which these two lines are drawn is, as posted by the Project Gutenberg

    No! ’tis not worldly gain, although by chance

    The sons of learning may to wealth advance;

    Nor station high, though in some favouring hour

    The sons of learning may arrive at power;Nor is it glory, though the public voice

    Of honest praise will make the heart rejoice:

    But ’tis the mind’s own feelings give tho joy,

    Pleasures she gathers in her own employ –

    Pleasures that gain or praise cannot bestow,

    Yet can dilate and raise them when they flow.

    This same paragraph is cited in Proceedings of the Ceremony of the Laying the Foundation Stone (April 23 ,1842) and At the Opening of the University (June 8, 1943), University of King’s College, Toronto, Upper Canada (1843), p.72.  This may suggest that Jacob became acquainted with the poem and introduced Ida to the writings of George Crabbe and his treatise on the importance of education and self-education.

  48. “In cruce glorior” can be translated as “I glory in the cross”.  Jacob must have pointed out that Ida had used the wrong preposition when in her letter of November 23rd, she asked for a translation of “De cruce glorior”.
  49. These are the opening verses of “TheRainy Day” by the American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) published in Ballads and Other Poems (1842).  He was esteemed as a teacher as well as a leading American poet.
  50. This may be a misquoted reference to the ballad “Grand-father’s Clock” written by the American Henry Clay Work (1832-1884) in 1876, in which the chorus begins with “Ninety years without slumbering, (tick, tick, tick, tick); His life seconds numbering (tick, tick, tick, tick)” University of Toronto Libraries’ “Representative Poetry Online”
  51.  i.e. Sunday School.
  52. Possibly a reference to John 5:24 “24Verily, verily I say unto you, he that heareth My Word and believeth in Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life and shall not come into condemnation, but is passed from death unto life. (as quoted from the King James version).
  53. cereals are bound into large bundles called sheaves
  54. Most likely George Frederick Root, (1820 – 1895), composer, music teacher, partner in music publishing firm Root & Cady (co-founded by his older brother).  His most famous song is considered to be “Battle Cry of Freedom”, 1864.  He taught music in New York (including Abbott Institute for Young Ladies) and in Boston.  (Source: Chicago History Museum’s Biographical Dictionary, available at www.encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org)
  55. An undecipherable word, approximately four letters long.
  56. “Presbyterian” was written in superscript and signalled with a caret mark below.