Tag Archives: Matthew Clark

This Week in History: November 1

This week’s let­ter shows some broth­er­ly ban­ter as Hugh ribs Robert about writ­ing let­ters, his wild lifestyle out West, and the slow-to-write fam­i­ly back in Ire­land.  Also, Hugh seems to be pop­u­lar with Irish immigrants.….and any­body else who needs a buck (espe­cial­ly Matthew Clark).


Philadel­phia 3 Novem­ber 1834 (Mon­day)

Dear Robert,

Yours of 22nd ult is received.  More than a page is tak­en up in the very laud­able effort to con­vince me that you are the most punc­tu­al, & I the most neg­li­gent of let­ter writ­ers.  In reply I have only two remarks to make — first I deny the fact in toto — and sec­ond­ly I think the first page of your let­ter could have been much more use­ful­ly & agree­ably filled.  Before I dis­miss this sub­ject, it may be as well to observe — once for all — that you are wrong in thus cre­at­ing a wind­mill & Quixote like fight­ing against it.  Should any cause of offense exist, you shall be the first to hear it from me — & until I tell you that such is the case, you err very much in either talk­ing or writ­ing about it.  Remem­ber Robert, we are broth­ers, and recall to mind whether any word or act of mine jus­ti­fies you in plac­ing me in any oth­er posi­tion towards you, then such as a broth­er should maintain.

Canal Street, New York 1834

Last week I spent two days in New York, but did not obtain any fresh infor­ma­tion rel­a­tive to the price, or demand for furs.  The cir­cle in which I move there, know noth­ing on that sub­ject.  I sent you a state­ment of the last sales — since when it appears, unfavourable accounts have been received of the pub­lic sales in Lon­don.  Every­thing con­nect­ed with your busi­ness, from trap­ping to sell­ing, is con­duct­ed with such secre­cy that it is almost impos­si­ble for the unini­ti­at­ed to know any thing of the pro­ceed­ings.  I am pleased to learn that you have mad a ship­ment — for I shall be cer­tain of see­ing both you and Mr. Sub­lette here, to attend to its dis­pos­al.  I shall make it a point to return from VA before 1st Decem­ber so as to be here at the time named in your let­ter for your visit.

What will you think of our friends in Ire­land, when I tell you, that six months & upwards have elapsed since I had a line from any of the fam­i­ly?  I begin to fear that they con­sid­er postage on Amer­i­can let­ters as a heavy tax — and doubt­less it is so — for I have not made a remit­tance for more than a year — & then only a small sum for Moth­er & Andrew.  They have been duly advised of your return.  If they knew how very par­tic­u­lar you are on the mat­ter, I am sure they would write; — but with me they know from long expe­ri­ence, that they can, with per­fect impuni­ty, study their own con­ve­nience; — receive a scold or two in reply; — & have all forgotten.

In busi­ness at this sea­son of the year, we have lit­tle to do.  Time pass­es rather heav­i­ly — for we have not here the excit­ing rou­tine of par­ties & wed­dings described in your let­ter.  The qui­et plea­sures of a com­fort­able home — the care­ful over­haul of our fall trans­ac­tions — and an occa­sion­al chat on the news of the day occu­py us, morn­ing, noon, & night.  For such dull employ­ments, would you not con­sent to change your mode of living?

It grieves me to dis­cov­er that you are resolved to per­se­vere in the moun­tain busi­ness.  I admit that with your inti­mate acquain­tance with its nature & chances, it holds out stronger induce­ments than oth­er occu­pa­tions; — but on the oth­er hand, I main­tain that with the utmost facil­i­ty, you can enter on a steady pur­suit; & with the same appli­ca­tion — less risk of per­son and cap­i­tal — and greater cer­tain­ty of ulti­mate gain — you can now set­tle down in life, and for­ev­er aban­don a pur­suit so very objec­tion­able to almost all your friends.  I am aware that this is noth­ing more than a rep­e­ti­tion of sen­ti­ments often expressed; yet I can­not avoid recall­ing your atten­tion to it again; — per­haps, like the wid­ow in the scrip­tures, I may be heard for my impor­tu­ni­ty.  Before you final­ly decide on anoth­er expe­di­tion, I sin­cere­ly hope I shall see you & Mr. S. and we can then com­pare notes on this sub­ject much more to our sat­is­fac­tion than any thing I can say on the present occasion.

Mary is quite well & looks for­ward with plea­sure to the time when we shall see you here.  I pre­sume you have heard that my own health has not been good dur­ing the sum­mer.  At present I feel much bet­ter and my throat (though not so musi­cal as that of our friend Miss Speak­man) is near­ly as well as ever.  Mr. Gill & A. Camp­bell are quite well & desire their respects to you and Mr. Sub­lette.  My friend Miss Har­ri­ett Camp­bell will prob­a­bly go on to VA with us about a fort­night hence.  Our stay in Rich­mond will be very brief.

Per­haps I should remark in the way of busi­ness, that woolens of near­ly every descrip­tion are high­er than when Mr. S. was last in the city.  The impor­ta­tions gen­er­al­ly have been light this sea­son & almost every kind of for­eign goods have advanced.  In many arti­cles required for your trade, you will not per­ceive the change, because such goods are not in gen­er­al demand & are lit­tle affect­ed by the fluc­tu­a­tions of market.

Of our com­mon acquain­tances I can say lit­tle or noth­ing in addi­tion to for­mer let­ters.  I had a let­ter from Matthew Clark dat­ed at Boston.  He was in want of mon­ey.  I sent him what he asked for & at the same time told him that I nei­ther wished to see nor hear from him again.  He left Ire­land in June & I believe has some of his ille­git­i­mate chil­dren with him.  Dr. John McFar­land has not writ­ten me for many months.  He has cost me over $100 which of course I do not expect to have repaid.  H. Reed is still deal­ing in cat­tle & I believe is doing well.  I lent him some funds which enables him to get along pret­ty smooth­ly & inde­pen­dent­ly.  Nan­cy Divine & anoth­er Irish girl from Glen­rone are our ser­vants.  You per­ceive my nation­al attach­ments are unchanged — and to con­fess the truth I am some­times hearti­ly tired of them.  Scarce­ly “a neigh­bour’s child” with­in miles of home, but favours me with a call — and some­how or oth­er all of them have wants to be sup­plied.  After all, I must not com­plain — some of them are grate­ful & all have some redeem­ing traits of char­ac­ter wor­thy of esteem.  Good bye!

H. Camp­bell