Copy of a very Curious Letter from a Cotton Spinner in Canada,
to his friends in this Country, containing a particular invitation
to all men going out to America to take a Cotton Mill Lass
along with him, as they make the far best Wives there; with
many other curious particulars.?12th Feb 1827.
New Perth. Upper Canada, Sept.12,1826.
Dear Brother - I recevied your long looked for letter.
and we are happy to hear that you are all well, as this leaves
us at present, think, be to the Author of all good you
will recieve this letter from John ?, who will inform
you particularly concering us and the state of the country.
for he has been eight.years in this country and you know I
have been only three. But for the short time I have been,
we have prospered well?we have had two children since,
John and Jean. They are thriving very well.We have
about eighteen screw of clear land, and twelve of them un-
der crops we have above fifty [ ] of wheat, Scoth mea-
sure, a great quantity of potatoes, barley Indian corn, me-
lons, cucumbers, pumpkin,and tobacco one; one milk cow, two
stirks, and a pair of oxen,we had some hardships the
first year, but now it in all over. We have no angry land-
lord craving his rent?every lives under his own vine
and plenty of food of the of the best sort. We have nine pigs and
44 sheep. We will always have plenty of wool. Our cou-
sin Rab has not come on so well as me for all his braw
country lass, which you will see by the following story which
happened of late between him and me, and an Englishman,
You know that he often said that I would be ruined when I
married. Jean but of the cotton mills, for the mill lasses
were good for nothing at all: that I need not offer to take
one of them so America, except I wanted to starve but I
think its rather reversed now.
Well, you trust know that an Englishmen, a neighbour
Of ours,of the name of Holden, and Rab and me, met one
day in a public house in New Perth. We had a hearty
glass, and through our conversation about our wives, every
one was for hauding out that his own was the best. So, as
we were only about three miles distant from each other, we
Beat a gallon of rum,agreeing that the person who had the
laziest, the dirtiest; and most uncivil, wife,and clartiest
house, was ot pay the rum?so away we went to our cou.
sin Rab's as it was the first on our road: and when we
came to Rab's door we could hardly get in for muck?but
save us, such a house and such a wife wi' dirt, you never
did see the like with your-eyes. No wonder though they
call the Scotch dirty, for her and her house were a disgrace
to our country and I must say most of the braw country
lasses. when they become wives are little better.You know
she has black hair, it was all loose, hanging down, the neck
and side of her head; her mutch and face were like as it they
had been sinoked up the lum for half a year; her blue-plaid.
ing petticoat, once of true blue, was shamed into black wi'
greim, the cogs, luggies, plares and spoons, were all-bark-
ened owre wi' kail and porridge, for I suppose she never
washed them. She had two bairns half- dressed, trailing,
through the ashes. She asked. me for Jean, and the littie
bodies, and if Jean was aye as p[ ]fn' aud braw as she used
to be. Yes, praise be thankit, said I, from my heart, gien'
a glance athwart the house. The re awfu' folk thae cotton
mill women, said she, for gaun clean and braw. " O Jenny,
said I,"cleanliness is no pride." But a' this,time she
never asked us to eat or drink, Rab then asked her if there
was any spirit in the house. She said there was but'a wee
drap in a bottle, and the bairns needed that, for they whiles
took a sair wime. The Englishm gave a smile and a
wink to me. Rab looked very sulky. I told them we must
go away, so off we went to the Englishman's, and left Jenny
scolding us for taking Rob wi' us. O, said Rab, I ken I'll
need to pay the bet ,but for a that I must say that I never
saw Jenny and her house so dirty before. We then pro-
ceeded to the Englishman's dweling, where we found and-
ther sort of a house and wife than Rab's. All was very
neat and clean, and the wife tidy, kindly, frank, and civil,
and at once bestirred herself to give us a hearty welcome,
by laying bread and cheese before us, and well filled rum
bottel. So. we took a slice of bread and cheese, and a glass
or two of good stuff, and then set off for my house. And
sure enough when we went into my house every thing was
in good order?just like a little palace jean was frank,
clean, and decent,as usual.
Here's my cotton Mill Lass, said to the Englishman;
whether do you think more of her ot of Rab's country girl.
Faith, said plain spoken John Bull, there is a mighty differ-
ence; the one is like an angel of lighty, and the of her like an
angel of darkness. Before we could look about us, Jean
set down plenty of tea, and bread, and butter?and when
that was done, plenty o' gude tody to man a' comfortable
and pleasant We were all very hearty but Rab: but the-
rum soon overcame his dulness, for we boused away till
morning. Then off we would all go for to drink the gallon
of him at New Perth, as we were as solved to mak'.Rab pay
for it, as he was so positive about his braw country Jenny.
but before we parted we made him convinced of his error.
So my advice to you is, John, to come
out to this country as soon as ever you can
in the spring, and bring my sister Mary
with you, she need not care about leaving
her lads? for there's more men than women
here, and she stands a chance to get a bet-
ter match here than at home. And I would
advise you John to take out a wife out with
you, and if you have not fixed your mind
on one already, I would advise you to
choose one out of Deanston Cotton Mill,
(Stirlingshire) as I think them preferable to
any of your country lasses round and round
and round for cleanliness and keeping a
house in order. Indeed I must, however
say, there are some cotton lasses, about
Glasgow and Paisley, that I could not re,
commend to any friend or acquaintance?
but as for Deanston Mill lasses, I would re-
commend them before any common lass in
the country, for washing, sewing, knitting,
carding and spinning, Keeping a house in
order, and right able to bring up a family
of bairns clean and decent. so I have told
you all my mind.
John Muir printer.
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Date of publication:
1808-1827 shelfmark: L.C.Fol.73(094)
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