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1853 June 2

New York

June 2nd 1853 

Dear Jack,

I hoped to have time this morning for a quiet letter but the time has been so broken up & occupied that now I am tempted to give up the attempt. But I will try a while. Agnes & Charlie have been here all day & I ought to be with her, so I cannot write long, & am trying again to write & rest at the same time; not improving to the hand writing is it! I wish I could write every days for I forget so what I want to tell you. Tuesday, I did not see your Father as I was out when he called here. He has been to hurried that I have scarcely seen him, & have had no opportunity of talking with him, as I wanted to do; tho’ I scarcely know what about. I quite miss his frequent long visits which I enjoyed when he was here last. He has been here every day tho; for a few moments. I hope something may be decided for you in all this business. I am rather sorry you seem now disinclined to Sibbald’s business, of course, I do not know the things that my have influenced you, nor the present state of the affair, but I thought I would be a pleasant thing for you a business you would like, & which would be advantageous to you in many respects. If this is the case, I shall be sorry if my letters have influenced you against accepting. How have they done so? Do not reject it hastily, dear Jack, tho’ I do not think you will do so. So many of our castles have fallen, that certainly in any shape would be agreeable.

These provoking letters. They will not be made to say exactly what one means, & I am afraid I have often written more than I meant in consequence. I do not wish to be understood as advising you to accept (illegible) business for I feel that I can know so little of what has occurred since we parted, that I cannot judge about it, but I do not wish what I have written in former letters. I can’t think what it is unless about Mother to influence you in rejecting an offer if you & your Father think it would be of advantage to accept it. Have I said too much dear Jack, or do you understand what I mean? I was a little surprised by what you said about remaining in N.Y. tho’ I ought not to have been. Ever since Carolina was talked of, it has seemed so settled (More in my own vague idea than in words) that we should go from here, that it has required quite an effort to contemplate the change. It would give Mother very great pleasure I know, more than pleasure - & that would satisfy me, but how would it suit you? Business here so hurried, so driven, could you stand it? I feel, dear Jack, that if you this, it will be a great sacrifice of your feelings. Still perhaps it is right & best. Certainly if your look out succeeds, we will determine to think so, but do not mean while neglect to take advantage of what other propositions may come before you. To use an old proverb, whether Miss Leslie approves it or not, “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.” And tho’ no doubt, employment here could be obtained, at the present moment it is still “in the bush.” Very well as long you have none more nearly “in the hand.” I feel as if I were writing about what I do not fully understand, consequently as if I ought to let it alone as now for something else.

Yesterday I staid at home almost all day, so did Mother. Agnes came in the afternoon & staid an hour leaving her John here all night. By the bye, Mother continues much the same. The cool weather makes her feel stronger, but she is still obliged to rest & looks so pale. Whenever she has to give up & lie down, she is not well; tho’ your Father does hint that it is affectation for which I almost scolded him. Last evening, Dolph, Oscar & I went to 3 sociables at Mrs. Schemerhorn’s. I had a very nice time talking to Mary Harvey, Mrs. S., Miss Hoseck. The rest of the party consisted of about a dozen juveniles. We talked, eat ice cream & strawberries – my! How they disappeared! & after that danced awhile. I suppose you will think I have broken my promise in waltzing with the Delafield boys – but I never thought of it till I reached home & then I could not blame myself. Why should not I amuse the children? And these boys who are so much here, really do not seem to be included with the rest of mankind. I don’t intend this as an apology, but an explanation. I brought the 2 Harveys & Julia Delafield home in my carriage, leaving the 4 young gents to walk. Mary urged me strongly to accompany them to the Regatta today, but I did not care enough about it, & the day has been so cool & cloudy that I have not regretted my decision. We have had Mrs. Swan & her son here most of the day. You may have heard of her as Christy McNaught, but could hardly have seen here as it is 16 years since she has been in N.Y. I must refresh my ideas by a look over your letter. As to hearing of summer plans from your father, he says none are decided on except that the girls are to come to Devasego for a while. I shall be very sorry if you cannot come there for a few weeks but I know you will if possible, and I will not urge you to neglect anything of importance for either my or your gratification. I think you can be trusted to yourself for a few months, in spite of Clemmie’s accusation of your flirting propensities. You must indeed be rejoiced to have completed those weary chronometric rates. I hope every other item if your long list will not detain you so long. 

My picture has not yet come from the framers, so I have not seen it for a week & cannot tell you about the likeness. You do tell splendid stories of your strawberries. Those we have here are quite small yet. I have seen larger ones than the picture you drew & I think you have a most erroneous idea of the capacity of your mouth if you think you would be obliged to take two bites of that berry.  I guess I could take it in one, & if “comparisons were not odorous,” as Mrs. Malaprop says,* I should insinuate that yours might contain it without difficulty. Don’t tell me I have misunderstood you. I always comprehend your meaning well enough, but it amuses one sometimes to as what very opposite meanings the simplest sentences may bear. However, after being called “near perfection,” I’ll be very good, read Miss Leslie, eschew slang phrases, & try to deserve such commendation. Really Jack, you are “foolish,” but you are not selfish. I will say that much for you tho’ I have a horror of paying compliments.__ Had to stop for dinner, and not ½ past 10, must go on a while. We have had fun & Vernon here this evening & Mr. Toll.* Mother made sundry efforts to get him an invitation to the Regatta, but at so late an hour, that she did not hear whether her messages were successful. He came tonight to tell what an agreeable day he had & to thank her for her kindness. Dear Mary Harvey obeyed my entreaties to take charge of him & introduced him to a number of ladies, so he had a delightful time he says. He says there were so many beautiful ladies on board the steamer. He never saw as many beauties before. The gentlemen too were very polite to him. I am very glad he was invited for it seems to have given him great pleasure. He is to leave tomorrow or Saturday for Boston, & to sail from there for Liverpool next Wednesday. He carries back with him most favorable and pleasant feelings towards this country, and says he has learned a great deal during his stay and has everywhere met with so much politeness and attention as has been very gratifying.

We are to have the Square set here tomorrow for the last time this year, strictly the Set only about 36 invited & I suppose about 20 will be here. Strawberries & Icecream [sic] the only refreshments. Mother will have no extra trouble about it so I do not object. I have asked Sue Leroy, but do not know whether she will come. If she does, Mr. Toll & Charlie Nott will both be here & as they are both 6 ft. tall or more, I think she will be able to converse with them.* I did not tell you of my visit to her did I? I forget what day it was; I went first to the Aymar’s,* where I saw Mrs. Gaillard, & had a very pleasant talk with her, then to the Leroy’s where I sent up my card. Sue Leroy came down & there I sat for half an hour about. She looks very well 7 says that in July they are going first to Sharon then to Niagara & to Newport for August & Sept. I left a card at the Kernochan’s,* saw Mrs. B.R. Winthrop, Eliza not being visible & left a cart for Mrs. Fish, who was engaged. So I have finished the 2nd Avenue till next Fall. I hope Su L. will come for I get woefully weary when only the dancing boys & girls are here. I have arranged a very nice talking set if they all come. Mary Harvey, Sue Drake, Sue Leroy & T, Messrs Nott, Toll, Gllilan, Shippen, & perhaps Dr. Church.* Won’t we have a cozy time? They are all grand talkers, except Miss Leroy & all “easy to talk to,” so even if they do not know each other, they will soon grow sociable. Don’t you wish you could join us? I do. So with this useless wish, I’ll top & say good night.  June 3rd I have been going about after Mother all this morning making useless efforts to induce her to rest & spare herself, but she persists in going from one thing to another till I know she scarcely stand & she will not stop. If she knew or would believe how her perseverance distresses me, I think she might rest. but she only says, “pooh, nonsense, I’ll rest when I can’t do anything else. It wearies me to death to see her exert herself so when her health requires care. At last she is lying down, so I feel quite relieved. I intended going out early this morning but concluded to wait till afternoon, & now I am hoping to get a letter from you before closing this, meanwhile I have really nothing to say. I think writing without anything to say must cultivate a very diffuse, rambling style, which I was once taught carefully to word, so if my style of composition is spoiled, I think you will have to bear the blame; as you certainly must of this habit of crossing I have adopted. It is almost 2 oclock so I must send off this. 

Love to the girls. Mother sends her love to you & them. I am ever,

Your most affectionate,


Jeanie’s reference to Mrs. Malaprop indicates she was familiar with Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s comedic play, The Rivals that was first performed in 1775 at the Theatre-Royal in London. (Richard Brinsley Sheridan, The Rivals, A Comedy. As It Is Acted in The Theatre-Royal in Covent Garden, Second Edition. (London: St. Paul’s Churchyard), 1775. 

John Toll is listed as having arrived on the ship Niagara on October 24, 1852 from Liverpool. His occupation is listed as a merchant, which is in keeping with the Smedberg social circle. However, the list indicates that John Toll was an American, which contradicts Jeanie’s statements regarding Toll that imply he was an Englishman. ( Boston Passenger and Crew Lists, 1820-1943 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2006.)

There are several Aymar families living in New York City at this time. Two pieces of evidence help to determine that Jeanie called on the family of John Q. and Elizabeth Dickson Aymar. The latter was a merchant and they lived within proximity of the LeRoys who Jeanie called on afterwards. However, the clincher is the couple had two daughters, Mary and Elizabeth. Both were close in age to Jeanie. In 1853, Mary Dickson Aymar married Joseph Gaillard, Jr. on the 21st of April. Mrs. Gaillard was, in fact, Jeanie’s friend the former Mary Aymar. (1850 Census New York Ward 15 Eastern Half, New York, pg. 200B and New York Society Library Marriage and Death Notices) (Viewed online – 6 June 2011) 

Jeanie probably called on the Josephine and Margaret Kernochan, daughters of Joseph Kernochan and his late wife Margaret. Joseph was a retired merchant who was originally from Ireland. The family resided at 146 Second Avenue. (1850 Census, New York Ward 17, New York, pg. 230B and Trow’s 1857 New York City Directory, pg. 446.) Dr. William Church resided at 24 West 23rd Street near the Leroy family. (Trow’s 1857 New York City Directory, pg. 151)