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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

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