Had you only loved me

The letters of 18th-century colonist Louise Dupon, writing from Québec to her husband back in France

November 1702

My dear husband,

I am writing to you from my bed, where I have been for ten days. I was very ill with the flu and a fever, and in terrible pain. They thought I would give birth to my child because of the terrible pain I was in, but, thank God, the fever is falling, although my flu is still there. They did not dare to give me medicine because of my pregnancy.

I hope everything will be well. All the world is ill at the same time, in every house. The chickenpox is everywhere. The adults are much sicker than the children. Mrs Roy thought she would die of it; she has six people who are sick, only Mr Crispain is well enough to look after everybody. Your children have not had the chickenpox yet; I watch over them as best I can. My illness makes me ask you for a basin to put under a sick person in the bed; I have had much trouble trying to find one.

We have the most beautiful weather you can imagine. I hope you will not have a long passage. If I believed that your return would be just as pleasant, I would comfort myself, but the grief over your absence never leaves me. I beg you, look after yourself. Write to me with the first ship, but only send it with the fleet. Farewell my dear husband; I have to stop so they can give me a bloodletting.

Remember me, your dear wife,

Louise Dupon

(Your son and your daughter send you kisses)

 

December 1702

My dear husband,

All I can do to make you give me your news is to send you mine. I have been better for a few days. Around me, everyone is very sick with the chickenpox. So far, it has not taken anyone, although, every day, someone falls ill.

Mrs [?] has died since I wrote my last letter, if not from the chickenpox, then from something else. An officer by the name of Mr Mondion has also died – and Mr Dugai. They have just carried Mrs de Baiencourt out of her house, dead; she had died from the flu.

All your children are well. I keep them locked up in the house to protect them from this evil. Madelon asks you not to forget her little sewing case. She talks to her mama about it every day to distract her. She talks about all the things that you are going to bring her.

Do not forget the basin that I asked you for in my first letter, if you find a good one. Please send us a nice pot of fresh, white goose fat. I ask you for a little apron dress for your daughter, so she looks pretty. If you want to bring one for me too, that would make me happy.

I beg you not to put yourself in danger just to take the first ship in case the war continues. I would prefer for you to arrive later than live with you being taken prisoner. If you love me a little, you will spare me the sorrow of your absence next time. I assure you that I am very unhappy, and I cannot reconcile myself to it. I beg you to arrange your business in a way that you do not have to leave me anymore. I hope you will do so, if you have a little love for the one who is your wife with all her heart.

Louise Dechamins

[Postscript in another hand] My dear father, I begged my dear mother until she let me assure you of my most humble respect and tell you that I am with respect your dear daughter, Madelon Dupon.

 

April 1703

[This letter is mostly illegible]

My dear husband,

(...) I do not doubt that it is only thanks to all the prayers that were said for me that I am still alive; I would never have survived it otherwise.

Our poor children were very ill. I am left with only Madelon and your son, and I thought I would lose them, too. It was because of the chickenpox that I gave birth in my sixth month...

Many people have died. The number was so high that I would have had trouble counting them. We have had funerals for 15 people at a time! I would not have believed that I would escape; I thought I would never see you again...

Farewell, my dear husband! Look after yourself. I kiss you a thousand times and am with all my heart your dear wife,

The Duponts

 

November 1703

[This letter is mostly illegible]

My dear husband,

Despite my decision not to write to you again, I cannot stop myself from telling you once more how much sorrow your absence is causing me.

I think that you would have spared me the worries that I have out of love, had you only loved me a little. I cannot stop myself from taking offense. What can I do? I am not the master of the house!

I hope that you can put an end to my pain. I expect you in the month of May. I believe that nothing can stop you. If you want to do something, you do it!

Farewell, my dear husband. I kiss you a thousand times.

Your dear wife,

The Duponts

 

Archival reference: The National Archives HCA 32/1828/3


translated from the French for the Prize Papers Project

by Annika Raapke