2238 - James Watt (II) to Margaret Watt (II), 28 August 1787

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Birmmth 1787

Dear Peggy

I received your letter of July 4th which various
circumstances have prevented me from answering sooner
I am much concerned to hear of your Aunt's bad health
but hope their stay in the country will be of service to
them both, and all events they have my best and kindest
wishes for their welfare and happiness. My own health
& that of this family has been very indifferent all this year
the Children are now pretty well reestablished in theirs, & your
Mamma is very much better. She sets out for Scotland tomorrow
& I hope the Journey shall be of service to her. I have
written to Jemmy to come home & I expect he is now about
setting out. when I last heard from him he was very well
& said he was applying close to his Studies.

It always gives me pain to reprimand you & I am
very sorry to be obliged to do so on account of the letter
you wrote to your Mamma while I was in London. It
was throughout conceived in too disrespectful a manner
particularly in what regarded your account. Both your
Mamma & I have the first night to superintend your
actions & to demand an account of your expences, and
your Mamma only did her duty in insisting upon it. At
any rate your answer should have been respectful & submissive

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for however you may argue upon the subject, I must consider
every want of respect or of due deference towards her as want
of respect shown to me, and an attempt to wound my peace.

Your conduct towards her & consequently hers towards you
have given me the greatest pain. You have never taken means
to conciliate her affections & you seem by that letter to have no
wish to do so. It is not always possible for us to acquire
the love of others but it certainly is in our power to force
them to esteem us. In almost all cases I have found it better
to suppress my feelings of what I thought injuries than by resenting
them to provoke or increase the resentment of others, by which
conduct I have often made real friends of those who at one
time sought to injure me or if I could not do that I at
least procured a cessation of their illwill.

I earnestly entreat you to use every means to acquire
your Mamma's friendship which can only be done by acting
towards her with submission & respect & pleasing confidence
in her which I am sure she will never abuse. If your
own interest cannot prevail with you to do this I hope
that you will do it to prevent the evening of my life, which
has been a life of trouble and anxiety, from being rendered
unhappy by the differences of those whose study it ought
to be to render it pleasant.

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It is necessary to inform you that your Mamma made no observations
of any kind on your letter, & does not now know I am writing
to you, but I judged of her feelings by my own when I read it

As You cannot help knowing that no person can have or
perhaps ever will have either your happiness or your interest
more at heart than I have I hope what I have now said will
have its due effect on your conduct in future & that you will
put it in my power to write letters to you more pleasant to me
than this has been.

I beg both your Aunt's acceptance of my most affect.t
remembrances, & best wishes, with sincerest thanks for their kindness
to you, I have some hopes of seeing them & you this fall of
the year, but there is much uncertainty in my being able
to go so far from home as our business in Cornwall is in
the utmost disorder & danger of being lost which may require
my presence there.

With sincere prayers for your wellfare & good conduct
I remain, My Dear Daughter
Your affectionate Father
James Watt


James Watt (II) to Margaret Watt (II), 28 August 1787

He is concerned to hear of her aunts’ poor health and sends reports on the family to Margaret. He reprimands her for the letter she wrote to her stepmother (apparently in response to a request for an account of Margaret’s expenses). He hopes she will write letters in future that will allow him to write more pleasant letters to her. A copy letter.

Watt, James and Family Papers

MS 3219/4/1/1/8/8

Library of Birmingham





[Warwickshire] [England]