Letter from Tom Spencer to his son Percy Spencer, 1879

Parawai   Feb 28th 1879

My dear Percy.

Percy's Apprenticeship PapersI received your letter of Feb 13 in answer to mine about a letter received from Mr Wise.  I am glad to hear from you that you did not dislike your business, and from what you say it would be very imprudent for you to have your indentures cancelled before the time expires.   Having begun and got through the first steps it would be foolish for you now to relinquish the trade merely because you are told that you are not cut out for a Bookseller.

My advice to you is to be persevering in acquiring a knowledge of everything necessary to make you perfect .  Above all look after your masters interest.  Go to them and ask to have anything explained whenever they think you are deficient.  Nothing will be lost by having a good understanding so that you may always have their confidence.  I do not wish you to leave  for many reasons. In the first place it would tell against you in the future if it were known that you had left before your apprenticeship had expired, and every year you acquire more experience.  My notion has always been that you should in some way help and join Charlie in the Book Trade in one of the principle towns in N.Z.  At present Charlie is a wanderer and very unsettled, but he will settle down some day, and you could in my opinion work a business first rate together .  You do the shop work and keep the amounts and Charles with the photographic gallery.  The two concerns work so well together under one roof, but it will be some years I dare say before Charlie settles down, and you will want more experience before it would do to commence business on your own account.  Jack is at present with Charlie on his Photographic road.  This time Charlie has got a portable Photographic portrait Gallery.  Everything complete for portraits.  We took him down to Coromandel in the Memsahib with about a ton and a half of luggage.  From Coromandel he will go to the Waikato, Tauranga  Gisbourne and Napier and probably come down south again.  As I said Jack is with Charlie but I wish he was with you in Dunedin, tha’s if he could get into some store.  You might look out and see if you could find anything suitable for him in Dunedin.  We have made additions to the cottage in the gardens, and it is very comfortable.  I do not expect to go up the river for some time. Much as I should like to see you and have you at home it would be of little use at present, as everything is so dead here and nothing doing.  George is working the steamer up the river and tomorrow they launch a fine barge which is just finished.  

It will hold about 15 Tons and is for taking goods up the river.  I will try and come down to Dunedin next summer to see you and when you have finished your apprenticeship Charlie may have settled down and you could join him.  

We have had no rain here of any consequence since last October and everything is burnt up.  It has been the hottest and driest summer I ever remember in NZ.  Ted is very ill with a kind of low fever.  Some days he is better but can hardly walk about now .  His ankle too is very bad.  

All send our best love , from your affect. Father.  T.S.

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