Merry Christmas to all from Campbell House Museum! This week we post a letter that Anne Campbell wrote to her brother Hugh on Christmas Eve in 1842. Hugh sent it to Robert some months later with an additional letter. Anne is deeply worried about her niece Bessie, who had caused so much trouble in America that Hugh had sent her back to Ireland. Apparently she is causing trouble there too, because her father Andrew started drinking again after Bessie came home. Read all about the troublemaker of the family in Anne’s letter!
Aughalane Dec 24, 1842
My ever Dear Brother,
I recv’d sister Virginia’s very kind letter in this time as I may say I had no tidings ready at that time, at least none that would be agreeable to you.
Ten days after Bessie’s return home poor Andrew was sorry (as we all were at the event) and he again began in temperance in spite of all remonstrance he continued so late in Oct. since which time he has been strictly temperate. Time winter commenced he had a school for his family every night and is schoolmaster himself it is wonderful how the very youngest is progressing. But to return when Andrew began to drink Bessie grew quite uneasy and no wonder (as you and I know there is no being on earth that intemperance makes so great a change on) she told me there was two things she was undecided which to do, the last objectionable of which was that she would fly from her fathers and try to get service in some gentlemans family; I knew that this would not only blight her prospect for ever but blight the prospects of her youngest sister, therefore after consulting with my mother I told her should my days terminate in the workhouse she should e welcome to every kindness and attention it was in our power to pay her; she accepted and after being nearly three weeks in her fathers she came her permanently to reside. The task is more arduous than I expected but to save a family from desolation was my aim. My motives may be attributed to other causes. I expect no gratitude from anyone on this the atlantic and will think myself favored if I escape censure Mother is old and taking care of her would be enough for one advanced in life as I am yet I never could forgive myself if anything disgraceful had occurred and the Almighty that saw the purity of my intentions. I have no doubt will support me. Poor Bessie is to be pitied her misfortunes were some of her own choosing. I think Mr. Boyle was the cause of all for when brother Hugh was her in 1835 and ’36 he thought better not take any of Andrews children before that time he had certainly asked one of the children to educate it, and in another letter to make a little republic of it. I told Andrew he did not want any of his children as I was allowed, but there hopes were aroused by former invitations and this with Mr. Boyles advice made them send her and surely an educated lady in an obscure country place is a pitiable object. The first part of my life was chiquered [?] perhaps it is better for me now that it was not continued sunshine, yet of poor Bessie return has lain heavier on my heart than almost any occurrence of my life Mothers memory is not so good as usual but her health is pretty good Andrew and his family are well the clothes Bessie wears I washed in her fathers therefore we do not require a second girl.
Excuse dear brother so much of my own and other peoples affairs. I trust in God that you, sister Virginia and James Alexander well, that dear name, God bless him, and bless you all. You or brother Hugh are seldom many hours out of our minds, I feel pleasure thinking of you both, and foolishly conclude if I saw you every anxiety would vanish.
I am Dearest Robert,
Your affectionate sister
Jack Young’s daughter Eliza Jean went with a young man the name of Gray, last night who lives near Gortin, she will be brought to her fathers to night when the wedding day will be set the young man is wealthy.
We had a very pleasant Christmas in Andrews. James McFarlands child (Anne) is three months old all of them we hope will be with us as usual on Saturday brothers birthday.
The name of Annes child is Alexander it is interesting like herself.
March 9, 1843
This letter from Sister Ann explains and justifies Bessie in removing from her fathers house – but it is no apology for her indolence and refusing all kinds of useful employment. If she were only to teach her sisters wash her clothes or do anything to show filial affection gratitude or common sense, I would readily excuse her. I fear she will be indulged in her present course by our good mother and sister. She certainly required rigid control. Amongst them all she is likely to escape every restraint.
In Ann’s letter to me (inclosing this) she dwells on the financial affairs at great length. It appears that Richard Key’s has not paid in full. Ann does not like to have Andrew as a paymaster to her. In fact it appears he will neither pay her interest (according to our instructions) nor give himself any trouble about any debt due her. He considers all he gets as so much land off the sea – and doubtless thinks it would be like throwing it into the sea again to repay either the principal or interest! He is not likely to get any more from either of us.
After all perhaps it is as well that she directed the money to be collected from R. Keys. The fact is I doubt whether he is worth anything and believe it might have been totally lost if not then collected. It is better that poor Andrew should have it than such to be the cause.
I really do not know how to advise Ann to invest her money. She ought to avoid intimate friends – and she ought also to have real estate security. Whom do you think she should apply to for advice. She has now about $100 lbs. to invest.
You should write either to Ann or Andrew and give your views on all matters about which they have written. I will not write till after you have written.
Mr. Robert Campbell