Philadelphia 4th July 1835. Saturday
My Dear Robert
I arrived in safety and in good health on day before yesterday, after a pleasant tour of about eleven days from St. Louis, in company with Mary and her little brother David, who we brought on here for the purpose of placing at school for a short time and otherwise preparing him for being useful to the family. You can scarcely imagine how comfortable home feels to us after our tiresome journey – I say tiresome because in addition to the actual fatigue of traveling there was the anxiety which must always be felt while traveling through a sickly country – and such has been our lot since we left home – for the cholera prevails from Nashville to St. Louis and thence eastward to Wheeling – but in some places to a greater extent than in others.
Perhaps it was partly owing to this cause that we did not enjoy the society of St. Louis. Mary was there three weeks and I was there four days – and except our good and unchangeable friend Mr. Sublette no one offered us any hospitality. I confess I felt disappointed in this respect and so does Mary although she attributes it to the unhealthiness and gloom which prevailed while we were there. It may be so but you will pardon me for repeating a formerly expressed opinion. I do not like St. Louis and I believe it deficient in the warm hearted society elsewhere found in the [?]____ (USA maybe?)
Enclosed you have Andrew’s last letter to any of us. I was received before my departure westward and I had laid it aside to take along but omitted it in packing. I then wrote Mary to send it, but she had left here before my letter reached her. It will still be new to you however and will reach St. Louis long before you are likely to return there. You will see by the P.S. of Betty that your very acceptable donation had been received. Andrew (poor fellow) writes as he speaks – and if we could only persuade him to adopt some system and care in his business there is no person of whom we would feel more proud as a brother. What will become of his house full of daughters? I certainly must take one of the young ones. What think you? [End of pg 1]
[Side of first page] The family spoke most kindly of you in St. Louis. I was gratified to hear so much said on the subject and am sure you deserved it. I think it likely they will soon remove to a country town where their expenses will be lessened and the means of support be procured with less sacrifices than in the extravagant city of St. Louis
[pg 2] My western journey as anticipated places it out of my power to cross the Atlantic during the summer. At present I cannot say whether I will be at liberty to avail myself of the winter vacation for we like school boys have our seasons of relaxation. My time is equally the property of my partners and self. Should they not object I will certainly go and I intend proposing the trip after a few weeks. Before your return from the mountains I will probably be able to “see how the land lies” and I trust they will make no objections to an absence which will certainly not exceed four months – say betwixt Nov and March Next.
Mr. Gill has been on a visit to his brother Robert for some days and of course we have not seen him since our return. The society of our little circle is greatly changed since we left here in May last. Mr. Gill has broken up housekeeping and sold out his furniture. Mr. and Mrs. Baker and Miss Harriet Campbell have embarked for France (as I have already written you) and Mr. G and Arch are boarding. John is an [?]_____ (looks like inmate?) of my little family at the urgent request of Mr. G. I consented with much reluctance for I fear it will be no easy matter to manage him. Should it prove so, I will not have him a single day after he becomes troublesome.
Mr. Sublette seemed desirous to obtain the store house in which K and Edgar did business but was disappointed. He thinks it a good stand and so do I – yet it is only so for a retail business. From all I have seen of St. Louis I would be inclined to prefer a different location, either on Front street or higher up on Main Street. Should you enter into business in St. Louis, the only prospect of doing well is in selling wholesale for at the moment I do not believe that the retail is either more expensive or less profitable in Richmond (the worst point in the country) than it is in St. Louis, owing to the great competition which now exists there. My own opinion is that a stand is not important and that you can enter slowly and cautiously into business, with more advantage in a more retired house than that occupied by K and E. uniting of course with a general wholesale business, a good and commanding stock of Indian goods, in which you will have no formidable rivalry. [End of pg. 2]
[Left side of 2nd page] Mary directs me to speak of her and says that I do not mention her half enough when writing you. This is all nonsense. I beg you will suppose (and you cannot exaggerate) that she values you much.
Perhaps you will not comprehend the meaning of “slowly and cautiously” as connected with a piece business. The first year I would not wish to sell more than half the quantity of goods you calculate on being your average take. The second year the sales may be moderately increased and not untill the third year ought you to calculate on extending fully your business to its legitimate extent.
I know you will be surprised at my contradicted views but they [?]_____ (dark spot and big crease) from experience and I felt muc reluctance at first in admitting them. [?]______ (dark spot and big crease) not done so in this city. Had we not declined selling in many instances where others would have been glad to do so we should not have succeeded in [?]______ (dark spot and big crease) others would have been glad to do so, we should not have succeeded in this city. I will at a future time explaine the causes which lead me to these conclusions. At present it suffices to say that I wish you to enter into business [?]_____ (dark spot) or dash and to make an exceeding small amount of credit sales the first year.
Mr. Sublette sent on an order which has been carefully supplied during my absence by my partners. The goods had reached St. Louis on 20th June in less than 3 weeks from this city. They are design[?]______ (dark spot and big hole) small outfit which I fancy you will meet in your return.
Goods of every description are scarce and high – Domestics particularly. It is believed that heavy orders have been sent out to England and France and [?]_____ (dark spot) the quantity of imported goods will exceed the demand. If so (but one cannot know in less than 60 to 80 days hence) there will be sacrifices in many [?]_____ (dark spot) about the close of the full sales in Oct and Nov and I think it probable that a [?]_______ (dark spot) assortment could then be laid in. Domestic goods (a most important [?]_____ of every stock in St. Louis) I fear will be high and even advance on present price. In short the market is in an unpleasant state just now, so far as prices are concerned – yet there appears to be a good demand for everything.
I have purposely avoided Irish news – for one of the best reasons – I have none to give! The last date is the enclosed and I hope before my next I shall be enabled to say that I heard from some of them. God bless you.
[Left side of 3rd page] I had a letter from Hugh Reed dated at Newberg (New York) where he was at work. I pity the poor fellow but can do nothing for him. He has neither a good trade, nor an education to fit him for business and to crown all he will not go westward.
[Left side of page] At my request Mr. Sublette put up and sealed two bottles of water from his sulphur spring. If I am not greatly mistaken it is precisely the same as the celebrated white sulphur of Virginia. Professor Rogers is under some obligations and I will cause him to have the water [?]_____ (looks like armalized?) His brother (professor in William and Mary College Virginia) [?]______ the Virginia springs last season and has published a work on this subject.
[Right side of page] I thank you for a number of letters written immediately before your departure from the settlements. Your several favors of 4th 9th 16th 21st 26th April have been received the contents of which were particularly acceptable. As usual I will try to be punctual and it will go hard with me if you do not have quite as many to read on your return. I only wish I could make my letters as amusing and entertaining to you as two of yours have been to me.
[Middle] 4th July 1835
Mr. Robert Campbell
Care of Mr. Wm. L. Sublette