Tag Archives: G. Sproule

This Week In History: September 1

Bill Sub­let­te’s broth­er Mil­ton needs a cork leg (for the right or left?), busi­ness is phe­nom­e­nal, a trou­ble­mak­ing child, and Robert needs to thank his lucky stars for all of his good for­tune — this and more in today’s let­ter from Hugh Camp­bell to his lit­tle broth­er Robert in St. Louis.


Phi­la Sept 1835
My dear Robert
To any oth­er an apol­o­gy would be nec­es­sary for my long silence — to you I need only say that it was out of my pow­er to write you soon­er. I have nev­er been so much wea­ried in busi­ness as dur­ing the last six weeks — but our hur­ry is now over for the season.
Your favor of 6 and 13 inst. are duly to hand the lat­ter by this evening’s mail. I am pleased to find that the inter­mit­tent which was caused my impru­dent expo­sure is sub­sid­ing and that you are like­ly to be “your­self again” but it seems strange that you don’t name a time for com­ing on here. The sea­son at which I have been accus­tomed to see you and our friend Sub­lette approach­es — and you will aid us in spend­ing agree­ably some long win­ter nights if you appear in Philadel­phia about 1st Nov. or should you defer until lat­er about 8 Dec. for I must spend a week in Rich­mond in the lat­ter part of Nov. on busi­ness of the estate.

The atten­tion — the down­right broth­er­ly friends of Wm. L. Sub­lette is almost with­out a prece­dent. In this cold heart­less world, my dear Robert, it is like an oasis in the desert to meet with such a man — and I think his con­duct and that of his house­hold, to you, dur­ing your late dread­ful attack, is enough to cure the most obsti­nate mis­an­thrope. Per­haps it may one day or oth­er be in my pow­er to show him how grate­ful­ly remem­bered is such well timed friendship.

The cork leg for friend Mil­ton is not fin­ished but the work­man says it will be ready for deliv­ery in all this week. Mr. S. for­got to say whether it was for the right or left — and find­ing that to wait for an answer would require a month at least, I ordered a right leg to be made, at the same time, hav­ing occa­sion to write Mr. Dormell, I request­ed him to call on Mr. S. & cause him to write me on the sub­ject by return mail. I expect his let­ter before the cork leg is fin­ished, and can make an alter­ation in two days if it be want­ed for the left leg.

Not a sin­gle sen­tence from home for many months, except the brief let­ter men­tioned in my last from Andrew, mere­ly stat­ing that Sarah Dunn was mar­ried to Hugh Mac­Far­lane & request­ing atten­tion to her. In a P.S. to Mary’s last let­ter I told you what a strange “ket­tle of fish” this same mar­riage had like­ly to turn out — & the for­tu­nate result of my inter­fer­ence in the mat­ter. Before this reach­es you, I pre­sume you will have seen the hap­py pair, on their way to Gale­na. I real­ly feel inter­est­ed in their welfare.

You have been informed of the death — the very sud­den death of our cousin James B. Bor­land on his way from Jack­son to this city. The sur­viv­ing part­ner, James Lee, will of course wind up the busi­ness. I am sor­ry to learn from a let­ter received from our cousin in May last, while in Nashville, that J. Lee is a com­plete and irreclaimable drunk­ard. Of course my expec­ta­tions from the close of the busi­ness are extreme­ly mod­er­ate. I expect to hear from his father short­ly, and will take such mea­sures as may be in my pow­er to pro­tect the inter­est of the fam­i­ly should they send me a prop­er pow­er of atty. All the leisure moments I have late­ly had to spare were engrossed in pur­chas­ing for Mrs. Kyle a small assort­ment of dry goods, suit­ed for a coun­try town in the inte­ri­or of Mis­souri or Illi­nois. They have been for­ward­ed about ten days ago and the invoic­es amount­ing to $2850 have been enclosed to Mr. G. Sproule. When in St. Louis, I found that the fam­i­ly pre­ferred a small store to any oth­er kind of oper­a­tions and promised to send betwixt $1000 and $1500 of goods which I told them must be repaid in 1 2 and 3 years but it was impos­si­ble to get up any­thing like a vari­ety for that sum & I increased the amount accord­ing­ly; stip­u­lat­ing that the sur­plus over $1500 should be repaid from the first sales. If this start in busi­ness prove ser­vice­able all will be well & I shall be amply repaid, in the feel­ing of plea­sure which their suc­cess will afford. If not, I shall have done my duty & they must try some oth­er avo­ca­tion. I am anx­ious that they should make some arrange­ment with Mr. Edgar, the Messrs Ker­r’s or some oth­er house, for occa­sion­al sup­plies, — as it will be impos­si­ble for me to con­tin­ue to send goods from Philadel­phia. The fam­i­ly speak most kind­ly of you. I am pleased to find you so gen­er­al a favorite and that they seem to place so much reliance on your advice.

You are aware that I brought on lit­tle David W. Kyle with me on my return from St. Louis, intend­ing to place him one year at school in this city. He is a kind heart­ed, thought­less boy and a city is bad­ly fit­ted for improv­ing either his mind or morals. I have there­fore sent him this evening, in charge of a friend, to a school at Had­ly, near Northamp­ton Mass­a­chu­setts, where he will have no temp­ta­tions to mis­spend time & where he will be oblig­ed to study hard. Should he not prove a steady boy, I will not con­sent to his return to Mis­souri but I enter­tain great hopes of him.
Our busi­ness this fall has been very heavy. The sales of last month were more than $10,000 greater than those of any pre­ced­ing month since we com­menced. I believe it has been pros­per­ous too. Thank God every thing has gone on well with me and I have been blessed in all respects beyond my deserts. I have a good wife — a tol­er­a­ble broth­er — many kind friends — and a prospect of mod­er­ate inde­pen­dence. For all these, I admit I am not suf­fi­cient­ly grate­ful. You, dear Robert, should reflect on this pass­ing remark. I sel­dom speak on reli­gious sub­jects when writ­ing but for your late mer­ci­ful recov­ery from the very brink of the grave, your grat­i­tude should not be con­fined to the kind friends around you. Do not think me super­sti­tious when I tell you that I attribute much of our suc­cess in life to the prayers of our good moth­er and sis­ter! God bless them.

I have had a let­ter from Hugh Reed by this morn­ing’s mail dat­ed at New­burg N.Y. He is suf­fer­ing under an attack of inter­mit­tent fever & wish­es my advice (in oth­er words mon­ey) to go home by next pack­et. I will write him — but real­ly he has cost me so much already, that unless he wants mon­ey (for he had near­ly $100 on leav­ing home and has been mak­ing ever since) I will not send him one cent. I beg you will write me ful­ly on receipt of this. I am anx­ious to know your views and future prospects. In any case, Dear Robert, come on here as soon as you can trav­el with safe­ty. I wish to see you, apart from busi­ness. The approach­ing long win­ter night would pass pleas­ant­ly. We can talk over a thou­sand things. Mary can give you and Mr. S. a com­fort­able bed & I pledge myself you shall have more sol­id slices of bread than the trans­par­ent cuts you saw with us last sea­son. God bless you & make us both thank­ful for many kind dispensations!

Hugh Camp­bell