This is a letter sent by my 3x great grandfather Reverend William Duff to his wife Jane Elizabeth Fairbanks. The Reverend Duff was 38 years old, and his wife was only 23. In the letter, my grandfather complains that some church politics are going to keep him away from home for another week, and expresses his disappointment that he has not received a letter from his wife.
A transcription of the letter follows. Click on the images to enlarge or download them.
The letter is courtesy of my cousin Catherine Duff and her family.
St. John’s Newfoundland, 25 Sept 1846
My Dear Jane,
Here I am arrested for another fortnight, and I have only time barely to tell you so. I was ready to be off when a committee of the congregation came after me to urge this point. Mr. Martin had written by last mail offering to send an establishment now? – a Mr. MacDonald from the other province, which would have the effect of setting them all by the ears again. [“To set them by the ears” is an old expression meaning “to put them at odds with each other”.] They agreed upon this ground as well as others the necessity of my remaining for the next steamer in the expectation that an arrangement may be gone into respecting the church property before then, which would prevent further dispute. I did not think that I was altogether warranted in leaving them in the face of this, although I am nearly as sick of N.F.L. [Newfoundland] as I am desirous to be again in Nova Scotia. You may be assured that no difficulties here will prevent my return, if well, by the following packet. I did not hear *from* you, but from Mr. Robb I heard *of* you and with a minuteness of detail
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which implies a knowledge of human nature on his part. I was relieved and delighted to hear that you were well and looking well. It would have been still more satisfactory to have had all this confirmed under your own hand and seal. Indeed I was somewhat suspicious of the accuracy of the postmaster, for this I believe is the most blundering office in British North America, where all are bad.
Mr. Robb writes me that some kind friend had spread the rumor in Lunenburg that I had no intention of returning and that then was some dissatisfaction in consequence. This is either an episcopalian or a residuary effort which will not succeed. I have written to one of the elders on the subject and also in reference to house repairs. I hear that they have been at work in it, and I trust that it may by this time be habitable,
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and that in the course of a few weeks it may be inhabited.
I regret that I did not arrange with Mr. Robb to remain here these few weeks and I could have taken change in Halifax in this way. I should not have been so pressed for time.
I have felt very well since landing here. The long and stormy passage, although disagreeable enough at the time, I think has been very beneficial to me. While under the pestering care of my dear friend Mrs. Fraser I have regained more than my former strength. You have no idea how many hints and hard rubs I get about my manifest anxiety to leave for Nova Scotia. They give me but little credit. When I assign as the cause any *public* duty, and I should have some fears to have my motives analyzed at this point.
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I find that I shall be too late for the mail bag, so I must enclose this in a parcel for Mr. Robb and entrust it to someone on board.
Believe me, dearest love, ever yours affectionately,