[Rev. John Watson has been appointed principal of the Methodist Training College in Manchester; Kate Watson has become engaged to Rev. Wilson Eccles.]
[to Eleanor Watson; envelope addressed
10 Lorne Street,
May 23rd. /93.
My very dear Friend,
I could make up a lengthy letter with apologies, but will not begin with them, only to say, if you have thought hardly of me for my long silence, I cannot complain.
Your last letter was a very bright one, bringing tidings of an event of peculiar interest to us all; and on this account, especially, I have thought my delay in writing must have appeared very unfeeling. I cannot describe the sensation and excitement the news produced in our little circle; and as it became more widely known the interest and pleasure that [was] here shown were, I am sure, all you could desire.
I thought, dear friend, that I knew something of your Mother [double underline] feelings, -- though as yet I have not had any appeal to my own in the same way - as well as those of your dear Child in this new experience of her life. It is late now to offer congratulations, but if the prayers, good wishes and sympathy of one, who only less than an own Mother loves her, are of any avail, then the happiness and well-being of the young people will be secured.
I do not know whether Kate will understand Stella's feeling when she knows that at first she could not seem to just realize how things actually stood between them. I fancy she thought she would have to vacate her own place in the affections of her dearest friend; but she was soon re-assured on that point and was able to see matters in their true light. Kate will only be amused at this, I know. You see she thought as she had formed no special ties, and as far as I can judge never thinks of such a probability, the same would apply to Kate; and, dear girl, she was also in a very delicate state when your letter arrived.
I know you would have been keenly touched could you have known how different was my state of mind on the reception of your letter from that of your own when you penned it. I was in exceedingly feeble health and had been for four months, and was sitting beside Stella, who was lying on our back verandah to get the air of a most balmy afternoon, almost the first time she had been out since her return from the Hospital; and seeing I was so grievously disappointed at the result of the operation, I was feeling particularly sad and depressed; still, dear friend, though I felt our Father was dealing differently with us, I was able to sincerely thank Him for your happiness.
I will give more particulars of Stella's case later on if I have time, and must express regret that I was led to introduce a painful subject at this stage of my letter, but you will understand how I was naturally reminded of it.
The appointment of Mr. Watson to his new position gives great satisfaction to the small section of Prim. Methodism on this side [of] the world - for ourselves you will allow me to say we regard it as the best selection that could have been made, knowing you both to be so well qualified for the duties that will fall to you respectively; and trust nothing will occur to becloud a most brilliant future: our only regret is that our young men here are debarred from Mr. Watson's assistance and training.
At the close of the last Con. we invited all the young ministers, married and single, to tea and spend what we hoped was a helpful day to them. On the whole they appeared as good a sample as could be looked for in their circumstances, and placed under the oversight of able and judicious Senior Ministers might become in several instances, at least, above the average of our men here; but you are aware that both from the quality of these and the nature of our circuits, they must, as those who have gone before, be left largely to their own devices. Mr. Howchin talked a good deal to them about the advantages of association similar to the Ministerial Ass'n in Eng., the meetings of which [are] to be held at the close of Con. and he is not without hope that something of the sort may be brought into existance [sic] next year.
Mr. Butler, of whom you will have heard, is doing good work in our Circuit. He is very industrious, both in study and work in general, and I am pleased to say that though possessed of a liberal amount of confidence is free from affectation and little pride, if you understand the term. As far as I know Mr. Thompson is fulfilling our expectations. He is not a Gilmore, but is certainly we think the best successor to him that could have been sent, so far as our acquaintance with the Ministerial Ranks at home go. He seems quite happy, but unless there should be a change in his feelings will be ready to return home at the expiration of six years.
Mrs. T. I am sorry to say is no more settled than the first day of her landing, and I think is even less prepared to be so. Whilst she is, I believe, a person of very amiable and gentle disposition, she is either so reserved or something else that she does not care for anybody to go there or to go out at all herself. Excepting at about one service on Sunday she is seldom seen in Church, even on special occasions, and does nothing she is not obliged to do, or so it seems. I am heartily sorry for her, not more so for the Church. You know how badly that sort of thing works in a Minister's wife and especially amongst colonials.
Mrs. Gilmore is of an opposite type, and though perhaps, in one sense, not a great Church worker, and with such a family - Nor could it be expected! Still she is of a very sociable, bright nature and to this, as well as to Mr. Gs popularity may, I think, be attributed largely the very generous treatment she has received in her bereaved condition, and it has also helped her to so bravely bear up under what to many would have proved almost, if not quite, a death-blow.
Mrs. Jenkin passed away on 1st Inst. after painful and prolonged suffering from her old trouble, dysentry. Hers has been a most pathetic case, she being more or less of an invalid ever since her husband's death.
I keep on writing, though I fear when you have had the patience to read it all you will think it is to little purpose - you see I think it a pity the same news should be sent you twice, and as I feel sure that most things of interest to you will be mentioned by other correspondents, I have to content myself with chatting.
Our May Xmas[?] was commenced on Sun. with sermons by Rev. Wright (he keeps remarkably fresh, and is popular and I am sure beloved throughout Methodism in the Col.), Thompson & Goodwin, and the usual tea takes place to-morrow. Your late neighbour Mr. Fairey is in very poor health. A clipping from yesterday's "Register" will give you some idea of his state. On Sunday Mr. H. and I with Mr. & Mrs. Peters had tea with Mrs. Bullock. I do not think you would see any change in her if you could see her now. Mr. & Mrs. Smith enquired kindly about you all. We have so far had such a delightful Autumn - it has reminded me of the Springs we used to have in my part of Eng. so long ago, when they were better than they are now.
Do you know we have had the pleasure of seeing our dear and now old friends Mr. & Mrs. Almond from Gateshead? They stayed a short time with us both in going and returning from Mel. where they have a Daughter living. Oh it was a bit of brightness to us!! We all join in tenderest love to all. Edith is now so healthy, has grown so much lately and is also stout.
Your ever sincere friend
[to Kate Eccles nee Watson]
June 7th /11.
My very dear Kate,
I feel very sorry that such a long period has elapsed since your last very welcome and interesting letter reached me - though just how long ago that is I cannot now remember. I have a confession to make - your last letter and that of your Sister, along with some others to be answered were put, as I supposed, carefully aside, but though I have spent some time in looking for them, I had, for the present, had to give the search up as hopeless. This looks very careless. Does it not? We have had a great run of visitors the last few months (our last two left us only yesterday) and it has fallen to my lot to change from room to room, as seemed most convenient for sleeping purposes, and in clearing drawers, for the use of our friends, I must surely have overlooked where I last placed this particular packet.
In speaking about our visitors I am reminded to say that recently I had had [sic] brought to mind very vividly something of what I underwent years ago when your dear Parents with yourself and Annie went off to the Homeland and we were left feeling, Oh, I cannot tell you how sad and lonely. It is all so fresh in my recollection as I write. Then, shortly afterwards, your Uncle, and Aunt with their family removed away, and again we had a severe wrench. Passing over partings in the interval, some of which you know about, I am just beginning to realize the serious loss I have sustained through the last "changing time". Here you know this event takes place in April and this year it has been responsible not only for removing the family from next door, (you remember that is the Parsonage of Unley Circuit - our circuit now) with whom for four years we have lived on terms of greatest friendship - but others of my greatest personal friends in the Ministry have gone to other States - one family to Queensland and others to the West; and I am left feeling, as of yore, that their places can never be refilled. The elders I loved, but I think I shall almost miss the the [sic] young people most. In the absence of my own dear ones, no one knows, but myself, what I owe to these bright, fresh young lives - but I fear you will be thinking all this very tedious, and so I will try to get on to another subject.
At this moment another old friend - and this time it is someone you know - has come to mind - Rev. T. Weatherill. At Conference time he stayed with us, and, excepting that he begins to look older, he was much as when you knew him - hearty, bright and kindly. It was then arranged that he, Mrs. Weatherill and the only daughter - who is now unmarried and is living at home, should spend some time with us on their way to their new Circuit, which was in the Hills, but before that time arrived he had been laid aside with a very serious attack of appendicitis which was followed by equally serious complications, & for several weeks he was in great danger. Indeed, it is only a very short time since they were able to remove him from the Burra Hospital, to which he was taken, to the neighbouring Parsonage. He is recovering, but very slowly. Mabel, the oldest girl who was staying here when you left, and went with us to the boat, is married and has three children. She went to Canada on a visit - a Bro. of Mr. W. is a Minister there - and she married one of her Cousins. It is only during the last year that she came with her husband and family to Aus. You may be sure you are all remembered when we see any of your old friends. I remember Mr. W. wished me to send very loving regards to you &c. when I wrote. I may say the same of others I have had here recently. I dare say you have not forgotten Marion Martin - she is now Mrs. Stott, and her home is in the West, where also Mrs. Canute (Mrs. Robinson, as you knew her) lives with her family. She has just returned from paying a visit to this State and Sydney, and she wanted to know all, and even more than I could tell her about you all.
Miss Pearson (Sophie) was here with her one day. She keeps house for her Father, her Mother having died about six years ago. She, too, was eager for all news of you. I may tell you that she made a little joke over Annie being married. I had forgotten, but she reminded me of what a bad way Horace was in when he heard about Annie going to Eng. - they played together some times - and she promised she would come back again and they would be married. For many years he has been in the West, and only a few days before she was here he had returned, and she thought he at any rate might have been ready to ["]fulfil his part". She did not say, though, that he remembered anything about it, and most likely Annie, too, has forgotten her childish, if kindly-meant promise. Give my love to her, please. I want to write to her, but unless I find the missing letters I shall have a difficulty in remembering her address.
You told me about your dear Winnie having grown &c. and also about the little man, but since then Stella has mentioned them a time or two, and once she told me she had received their likenesses. I love to hear about them and anything else you can tell me. I was greatly interested in your account of your trip to Switzerland - but most of all to know that you, darling, had been benefitted by it. I also read about it in "The Prim. Meth. World". There, too, we are always delighted to see any mention of your work in Guernsey, and rejoice with you in the success attending it; and how touched we always feel when the name of your beloved father, and our ever-esteemed friend appears, as it sometimes does. Please remember us very kindly to him, and tell him that he and his good works here are often referred to in various connections. You may be sure we still watch the movements of the dear old Connexion with deepest interest, and it was most gratifying to us to see in "The Register" yesterday that the Centenary Fund had reached the Sum of £290,000. A grand and noble effort truly. May the same prosperity attend every branch of its work!
I trust that you, dear, will get much good from the summer which is just upon you, and that your dear husband and the two young people are in the best of health. We are about as usual, and for people getting old, [double underline] perhaps, have not much to complain of. I scarcely know what to tell you about Stella that you do not know. We hear from her every time a mail from that part arrives. I am thankful to say that N. Z. is suiting Edith and her husband well, also the dear wee man, who seems to be getting on nicely - he has never ailed anything and is a particularly happy and contented baby.
You will remember Eva Peters? Did you know she was married about two years and a half ago? She now has three children - a little boy who will be two years in Aug. and twin daughters born in March. They are doing well and Eva has good health. In a few months her husband (Mr. Wilkinson) is to take charge of the Bank at Gawler[?]. Mrs. Peters and the rest are well - they are about leaving the beach for the winter. The Gilmores, too, are well.
Our winter has set in suddenly and is rather violent at present. It seems a pity that it should be so hot in London, now so many visitors are there.
I cannot hope for a speedy reply after my long delay, but let me say a letter from you is always a great pleasure to me. Mr. H. joins me in much love and best wishes to all.
Your ever aff[ectiona]te. friend,
[to sisters Kate Eccles and Annie Cowie (both nee Watson)]
Apl. 17th. /13.
My dear Kate & Annie,
Though not unexpected, the news that your beloved Father and our dear old friend had passed away cast deep sadness over our Spirits; but, as I know will be the case with yourselves as well as with us, this sorrow is greatly relieved as we realize, so far as we are able to do, the blessedness - the weight of glory which awaited him in the home to which he has gone.
Oh! my dears, his was a choice spirit, and his life was richly in accord, and for long its influence must be felt in the lives of the vast numbers who had a personal knowledge of him. The best that I could say of him would but feebly express his worth, as well as of our estimate of him. I may say that we fully endorse every word that Mr. Eccles and Professor Peake spoke of him.
Personally, I feel impressed not only with his beautiful life, but what I know must have been an equally beautiful death. There would be no shrinking, "but with calm delight" he would pass on to meet "and look" upon his God.
For his loved ones left behind I can utter no better prayer or wish than that they may follow in his foot-steps, and in the end triumph in like manner.
We have handed to the Editor of "The Christian Commonwealth" - the Methodist periodical here - "The Leader" containing the report of your Father's death, which reached us by the last English mail, that a notice may be inserted as an intimation to old friends who still cherish his memory and work here.
Will you please accept this not only as a joint letter to yourselves, but as coming from Mr. Howchin as well as myself? He also joins me in kind love to you both, and best regards to your dear, though to us, unknown husbands.
Your ever aff[ectiona]te. friend,