This week in history: October 13 — October 19

Octo­ber 15, 1841 let­ter to Mrs. Robert Camp­bell from Bessie Campbell.

Bessie Camp­bell is Robert’s niece, the eldest child of his broth­er Andrew and the only daugh­ter not to have chil­dren .  Born in 1823, she was sent to live with her Uncle Hugh in Amer­i­ca.  Offi­cial­ly, Andrew want­ed Bessie to be edu­cat­ed, but more like­ly hoped she would find an Amer­i­can hus­band.  Unfor­tu­nate­ly, Bessie act­ed  clos­er to the teenagers of today than the well-behaved Vic­to­ri­an woman her fam­i­ly, espe­cial­ly Uncle Hugh, hoped she would become.  Final­ly in 1842, Hugh sent her back to Ire­land, where she became a com­pan­ion for her Aunt Ann at Augh­a­lane house.  This let­ter is writ­ten just 8 months before Bessie is sent back home.  It’s also ref­er­enced in “The Camp­bell Quest” by Bessie’s great-great-nephew, Patrick MacCulloch


Philadel­phia Octo­ber 15th 1841
My Dear Virginia
I have just perused your very kind let­ter and to sig­ni­fy my appro­ba­tion of its excel­lence I have made a prompt reply.  We are tru­ly grat­i­fied to know that my uncle and your­self enjoy health and hap­pi­ness, although I had almost for­got that your cry­ing shall over M’s let­ter does not quite jus­ti­fy my attribut­ing the lat­ter bless­ings unal­loyed to your Lady­ship’s per­fect hap­pi­ness nor can­not expect if we do we are sure to be dis­ap­point­ed.  You express very nat­ur­al sur­prise at the ear­ly mar­riage of my sis­ter Anne I assure you dear Vir­ginia I can­not and will not believe it until I shall see it ver­i­fied in my father’s own writ­ing I have always con­sid­ered both my next sis­ters mere chil­dren and I was per­fect­ly thun­der­struck when I received such very unex­pect­ed intel­li­gence.  I can­not sup­pose her mar­riage received the appro­ba­tion of my father or any mem­ber of my fam­i­ly, may aunt Ann wrote my uncle h. a let­ter dat­ed only 3 days pre­vi­ous to the date of the news­pa­per and mere­ly said the chil­dren are all well nev­er allud­ing to a mar­riage in the fam­i­ly.  [End of pg. 1]

[Left side of pg. 1] Mrs. Oak­man looks very interesting.

[Pg. 2] I have only to hope it may prove a desir­able one on her account she was one of my favorite sis­ters a more gen­er­ous clever crea­ture nev­er exist­ed Mr. McFar­land is said to be very rich a per­son men­tioned to me some time since when allud­ing to the mar­riage that “the hills were cov­ered with his cat­tle and the fam­i­ly jaunt­ing car was a beau­ti­ful one.”  You desired to know what I have been read­ing of late I have just com­plet­ed the Life of har­ri­et Duchess of St. Albans by Mrs. G.B. Wil­son in spit of all crit­ics [?]______ peo­ple say to con­demn to flim­sy a com­pi­la­tion of anec­dotes I assure you it is a most amus­ing work.  She began life as Har­ri­et Mel­lon a base and not very pret­ty actress of very low parent­age her moth­er being a mill­ners maid she had tal­ents for cer­tain char­ac­ters in Com­e­dy such as bar maids, [?]______ young ladies etc. etc. she was [?]______ good natured mar­ried old Mr. Caults the rich mil­lion­aire and sub­se­quent­ly William Aubrey de Vere Beau­clerk Duke of St. Albans [?]_____ heiress is her niece Miss Bur­dette one of the rich­est ladies in Great Britain she is said to be engaged to J.G. Lock­hart the son-in-law of Sir Wal­ter and hus­band of his eldest and favorite daugh­ter Sophia Scott who died 3 or 4 years ago.  I have also been read­ing dai­ly por­tions of Shiers French Rev­o­lu­tion in Eng­land and por­tions in French. [End of pg. 2]

[Left side of pg. 2] We received  a vis­it from your uncle Win­ston we were all delight­ed with news he is a very excel­lent man.

[Pg. 3] All our friends here are well Mr. Bak­er is now with mr. Gill on a vis­it to Fishkill.  Mrs. B is going on as usu­al.  Mr. And Mrs. Oak­man now live in one of Mr. Gill’s new hous­es in this street halfway between 13th and Broad­way about 1/2 square above us the house is quite an ele­gant one the par­lor car­pets need the rich rechoche lasony [?] instead of the mod­er­ate man­ner Mrs. O said she would fur­nish “san mison” [?] I imag­ine she will eclipse her pre­de­ces­sors in ele­gance she will have every­thing quite comel le faut [?].  The expect­ed pro­pos­al has not been yet announced so I sur­mise has not yet been made.  Matil­da is and looks very well.  I am sor­ry to inform you of good old Mr. Miller’s death which took place the week before last he was high­ly esteemed here and one of the most gen­tle­man­ly men of his day [?]______ of the haute ton were at his [?]______.  Mr. Richard Will­ing was his inti­mate friend the Inger­salls [?]_____ Lear­gents etc. etc.  The Lewis fam­i­ly (Mrs. A. C’s) are thrown into the great­est afflic­tion by the sud­den death of poor Gner­al B. Irvine of a most vio­lent fever he was deliri­ous from the moment of his seizure and refused all med­i­cines.  He was interred with hon­ors the Naval offi­cers and Army offi­cers etc. he paid my aunt a morn­ing vis­it 4 days only pre­vi­ous to his death.  It will be a very seri­ous loss to the Lewis fam­i­ly.  [End of pg. 3]

[Left side of pg. 3]  I am joined by all our fam­i­ly in love to my uncle and your­self pray write me all approve nov­el  [?]_____ and believe me your sin­cere friend and niece
Bessie Campbell