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Envelope:

Mr. John P. Ingledew

care of Mr. Thorne

Post Office

Alexandria

Egypt _________________________________________________________

December 27th. 1853

My dearest brother,

Your most welcome letter arrived today and I can scarcely tell you how glad we all were to see it for we were beginning to feel rather anxious about you, not having heard for so long. However we rejoice that you are safely landed at last. You appear dear John to have been far from well and you would feel it more from being all alone, and yet I should not say that for you have I trust found a better friend than ever we could prove to you, a friend whom every night I petition to protect and to comfort you and I feel from your letters during the last half year, you have been led to place your trust in that all powerful One who alone can supply the loss of friends to you.

We had a gentleman who travelled with you from Southampton to Gibraltar calling to see us yesterday. He asked for me and you would have been amused at the number of eager faces gathered round him. Could you but have seen us, for Christmas Day falling upon a Sunday this year we had our family party yesterday, Monday 26th., instead. Poor old gentleman, he spoke very kindly and feelingly of you and I fear you must have suffered a great deal during your voyage. I do wish I were with you, I have the very foolish feeling that no one can nurse you half as well as I can and I am quite sure no one could care for you more. The old gentleman - I have forgotten his name so I am obliged to designate him thus - had a glass of spirit and water and a piece of Aunt’s Yule cake and he told us how you used to take a spoonful or so out of his glass as you used to do out of Father's.

The bill you drew reached Father last Sunday week and he thinks you are too concerned. He is afraid you deprive yourself of many comforts that you ought to have, and he says he earnestly hopes his boy (your old name) will take care to make himself as comfortable as possible and want for nothing. Do bear this in mind for I assure you that to an invalid little luxuries and comforts are perfect necessities and go much farther than medicine. However, Father is going to write to you himself, though poor man he says he cannot write a letter about anything but business, and praises yours sky high. A ship will, it is expected, leave our port this week for Alexandria, and the Captain being a friend of Sep's has kindly offered to take charge of whatever we might wish to send you. So this afternoon, immediately upon the receipt of your letter, Father ordered a gallon of cod’s liver oil to be purchased and Sep himself took it down to the ship. I made a gingerbread loaf and got it soldered up in a tin case, thinking you might like a bit of English cake in that foreign land. I have taken care not to make it rich, just a nice homely loaf. Mr. Welford has sent you also a pistol, which do be careful of dear John. If I had had time I would have sent you some handkerchiefs. However I will have them ready in case another such opportunity occurs, and I am going to make nightshirts for you this winter. The name of the vessel is the Brig Richard Reynolds, Captain Taylor.

You appear by your letter to have received only one letter from us. I hope the others are not lost for I have written thrice and James thrice Wm. twice and Annie once. I hope you would get them for I know what a treat a letter from home is. Yesterday we kept our Xmas dinner. We had Mr. and Mrs. Cail three children and nurse, Mr. and Mrs. Welford, Mr. and Mrs. Daggett, and Mr. and Mrs. Umpleby, and only wanted you to complete our family party. We had fish, roast beef, boiled turkey and tongue; plum pudding, mince pies, jelly and custard and a handsome desert. We did not forget you, though the old gentleman’s account of you rather damped our spirits. We were all invited to Bennel tonight to dine at 5.30. However as Father is suffering from toothache he excused himself, and I am staying at home to keep him company and to write to you.

Tomorrow James and I are going to drink tea with Mr. Scurr, who bye the bye got a sheet of thin paper from me on Sunday for the purpose of writing to you. On Thursday we are going to drink tea at Eliza’s to meet the same family party, and next week Annie and Lizzie are going to have us. I only hope we may not get tired of each other at these family reunions. Last Thursday James and I were at Mr. Water’s to a small party. Don’t you remember you and I were invited last winter and could not go. We enjoyed ourselves so much and danced till three in the morning. Lizzie and Mr. Welford were there but left about 11.30. Mr. Thackeray from Cambridge was also there and asked so kindly after you. Mr. Spenser, the clergyman’s brother, Mr. Stubbs, the Watsons of Eldon Street and a few others. Jessie Hewett is very ill; I suppose a nervous fever; she has been looking so deadly pale for some time and the very last time I saw her I made the remark that she appeared about to take some serious illness. Poor girl, I hope she will soon be better. What fun we three used to have together, do you remember her taking some negus into your bedroom once; and another time going to spread a cloak over you. Hannah I never hear from now; I happened to be a long time in writing to her, so she wrote to Father to complain of me and got me, as James would say, into a row. I took the pet and our correspondence has dropped.

I had a letter from Miss Marsden of Durham last week to ask after you and also to enquire your address, as she said her brother would like to write to you as they thought your complaints were so similar. I sent the address and said I was sure you would be very happy to hear from him. I have got an attack of my old complaint the tic tonight and am going to have a warm bath and a little brandy and water before I go to bed. It is about half past nine now; Father has gone into Mr. Hamond’s to tell them about your letter; and James has gone to Harry Scott’s to tea. Our little cook has been making many enquiries concerning you and has just been letting me know how kind you were in shaking hands with her when you went away. Dear John, how do you contrive to make everybody love you? We had Captn. and Mrs. Henzell to tea last week, and had America talked over again; you are such a favourite with them; Mrs. Henzell calls you a nice creature. What would Hannah say if she heard that, for before she went away she was (as you forewarned me in London) telling me how fond you were of them, and she wondered how you could like a married woman so much.

We have according to the usual custom received divers and sundry hampers, a small barrel of oysters, a cheese, 2 turkeys, 2 hares, a pheasant, a goose, a blue black and white puddings, yule cakes and apples: better than the fare you told me you would get: stewed hippopotamus and fried ibis. The Gateshead Fell Ball takes place on the 12th. of January; Wm. is one of the stewards. I am going with Annie if we do not hear worse accounts of you, for we could not be happy dancing there if we thought you were ill. I am so glad dear John you have remembered your promise to me of giving us an exact account of your health. Let me intreat you to be rigidly exact for it is mistaken kindness to disguise anything from us. Frank Seymour has been getting into terrible scrapes lately; he is still addicted to his old habit of absenting himself for a few days occasionally, and more than that he has embezzled about 12 lbs of Father’s money. But take no notice of this; I feel sorry for him, though I cannot but blame him. I suppose Mr. Henry Turner is in considerable difficulties. In fact it is rumoured he is out of his head in consequence. I heard also the other day that Mr. Scott the fugitive overseer has been seen alive and the report of his death was a hoax.

I had Maria and Mary Dawson calling yesterday but being over head and ears in business, I brought out wine and cake and left James to entertain them. Daggett and I get on no better, he is constantly taking liberties and I do not choose to put up with it and James is turning rebellious to him also and won’t stay longer than the other clerks and Mr. Daggett is obliged to yield. We don’t want him to have too much authority in the office. Father constantly asserts that nothing has gone right since you left. The ground is quite white with snow and has been so since December 30th. Tuesday. Last Tuesday is not so thick as last February but still not far off it. We are going to have an oyster supper tonight, and Mr. Herring is to be invited in to join us. They have not heard any news of their boy yet; I wonder what can have become of him. You will probably light upon him in your travels somewhere or other. How funny you would feel when you had an Arab guard about you; I don’t think my nerves could have sustained such a thing. I sent Mrs. Temple a turkey yesterday for her new year’s dinner; I understand James Temple has had a fall in the slippery streets and has severely cut his forehead. Miss Murray and I correspond regularly; she never fails to ask after you in her letters. The Miss Dunns have returned from Paris quite Frenchified. Mr. Hall I suppose is not going any more and young Erickson goes every night. William I have not seen but I hear he dresses so smartly and is an embryo fop.

We seldom see our neighbours the Hamonds, Mr. Hamond has only been twice in our house since my return from London. About a week since there was a grand soiree in St. Nicholas’ schoolroom in aid of the reading room. Father was there in the chair of course being president, and also Lizzie, Eliza and myself. I think dear John I have now said all I can think of, but for the future I am going to follow your plan, and write a little bit whenever I have anything to say. Take every care of yourself and be sure and want for nothing necessary to your comfort. Be careful in avoiding these night dens and go as much into society as you can get. Do not for one instant allow yourself to get low spirited and do not sit and think, but whenever you feel a little dull just jump up and do something, or read something, or talk to somebody and do not listen to much conversation about your health. If there is anything you want for, pray let us know as soon as you can and if possible you shall have; and now my dear brother with my best wishes for your improved health and enjoyment and a happy new year to you.

Believe me

Yr. affectionate sister

Margaret Daggett Ingledew