Saturday, July 2, 2016


Another post that I hope you find interesting. It is not specifically about Ohio County, but gives us a glimpse at life in Kentucky in the 1785-1800 period. I hope you enjoy.

The source for this post is:
Pioneer Life in Kentucky 1785-1800
Ohio Valley Historical Series, Number Six
By Daniel Drake, MD
Published 1870

        Dr. Daniel Drake was born in New Jersey in 1785 but spent most of his first 15 years in Kentucky with his parents and siblings. In 1800-1802 he moved to Cincinnati to further his education and to study medicine. While the Drake family did not live in Ohio County, I suspect his description of his early life would be close, or even the same, as life in Ohio County during 1785-1800. When he was about 60 years old, Dr. Drake wrote long letters to his children about his childhood in Mayslick, Kentucky (Mayslick, now known as Mays Lick, is located NE of Lexington and SE of Cincinnati in Mason County, about 12 miles from the Ohio River). 

        The following is a personal letter written in 1848 by Dr. Drake to his daughter, Dove, describing his early life:

To: Mrs. Elizabeth M. McGuffey
Louisville, January 13th, 1848.

My Dear Dove:

            When, two years ago, on the forty-fifth anniversary of my departure from home to study medicine, I yielded to the old man’s instinct to the past, and gave you, in twelve or fourteen pages, some account of that departure, the transition to a new kind of life, the beginning of a different career, I did not intend (for I did not even debate the matter with myself) to follow that letter up with any more of the same sort. Nevertheless, I have done it this winter, till passing round the family circle I have come to you, with whom I started, and now propose to write you a second time. In my former letter I told you that I was put to the study of medicine with out the requirements which are now made by the scholars of our most ordinary public schools. Of the opportunities under which I picked up what I knew, and of ’the want of opportunities for acquiring more, I propose, in the first part of this letter, to say something; allowing myself the privilege of digression and retrogression, not less than of progression.

            In the fall of 1817, when, at the age of five months, you were taken in your dear mother’s arms and mine to Lexington, I going thither as professor of Materia Medica in Transylvania University, the academical department was not, like the medical, in a forming state; for, although low in condition and character, it had existed, I believe, for at least twenty-five years, that is, from the time when I was a little boy. There were, moreover, classical and mathematical teachers scattered over the interior of that State, of whom I recollect the names of Filson, one of the proprietors of Cincinnati, Sharp, Clark, and Stubbs; but never knew any except the last. In that part of Kentucky, however, which lies north of Licking river—the counties of Mason, Fleming, and Bracken—there was not, as far as I can recollect, a single teacher of that kind. Most certainly there was none about Mayslick, and till after I commenced the study of medicine I never saw one of those distinguished personages. But had they been as numerous and cunning as the foxes which ate up our chickens, it would not have done me any great good, seeing that father had such urgent need of my assistance on the farm, that I could only have gone to school now and then; and seeing still further that he felt, and indeed was, too poor to pay more than fifteen shillings a quarter; a compensation for which a man of Education would not have given his services. The general rule as to my going to school was, to attend in winter, and stay at home for work the other parts of the year; but this was not rigidly observed. In my letter to sister Echo, I have mentioned the names of McQuitty, Wallace, and Curry, as my teachers till I was nine years old. Father then removed from the village, and my schooling was suspended. At the time it was broken off, I had luckily learned to read, and had begun to write large “joining hand,” and make capitals. Thus I was able to make some progress at home; and about half a mile from us there was a youth of sixteen or eighteen, who was a pretty good penman, and when he visited us, used to set me copies and mend my pen. I regret that my memory has allowed his name to pass away. Our teachers should never be forgotten, and, above all, those who gratuitously come forward in our destitution.

            Father and his neighbors were not indifferent to the education of their children; but they were all new settlers, all poor, and all illiterate, and hence had not the means or conception necessary to the establishment of a good school, even had it been possible to procure a competent teacher. In a year or two after our removal a small log school house was erected by the joint labor of several neighbors, about half a mile north from his house, and just beyond the “line” of his “place.” It was entirely in the woods, but one of the wagon roads leading into the Lick passed by its very door. In the winter, light was admitted through oiled paper by long openings between the logs; for at that time glass was not thought of. It was one story high, without any upper floor, and about sixteen by twenty feet in dimensions, with a great wooden chimney, a broad puncheon floor, and a door of the same material, with its latch and string. I give you these details, because they are equally descriptive of the common run of school houses at that time. I never heard a reason assigned for placing them generally by the road side; but the travel was not great, and such was the insulation of families, that I fancy the children were, by common consent and mere social instinct, placed under circumstances to see all that could be seen; and, perhaps, as they occasionally saw new aspects of things and persons, it was the best plan. In the year 1836, a little more than forty years after this school-house was built, I took you and your sister to the spot. We found a plowed field and no fragment of my first sylvan academy.

            The first teacher who wielded the hickory mace in this academy was Jacob Beaden. You will think his name in true harmony with the house. He was a recent immigrant from the eastern shore of Maryland, and an ample exponent of the state of society in that benighted region. His function was to teach spelling, reading, writing, and cyphering as far as the rule of three; beyond which he could not go; and his attainments in that branch harmonized, as to quality and compass, with his erudition in the others. The fashion was for the whole school to learn and say their lessons aloud, and a noisier display of emulation has perhaps never since been made. This fashion was in those days common to all our schools, and although, at first view, it may seem absurd and at variance with all improvement, something may be said on the other side.

            1st. Children are naturally prone to speak or utter audibly when they are learning. I think it an instinct of their minds, and if so, it is not absurd. The final cause or end, if it be instinctive, may be to improve their speech, and to impress the matter upon them through the medium of a second sense—their own hearing.

            2d. In silent study an active and diligent child does not stimulate the more listless; but in audible study it does. When a boy would raise his voice and become more intense and rapid, others would do the same, and they would extend the impulse further, until the high excitement would be spread throughout the whole school; Master Beaden, the while, looking on with the satisfaction of one who sees his work going on with becoming energy.

            3d. The scholars, when accustomed to this mode of study, do not interrupt each other. They merely hear a noise, as Charlie hears the noises in the street, in front of Miss Bennet’s school room. They do not apprehend what is said by those around them. Now, there is an advantage of a permanent kind in becoming accustomed in early life to do “headwork” in the midst of noise; and in reference to myself, it was perhaps the greatest which Master Beaden conferred upon me. It enabled me afterward to prosecute my studies when you and Echo were talking, laughing, screaming, and crying round my table; it enables me to sit down and write or read in the midst of a steamboat hurleyburley. When I lodged in the University, there was at night a profound silence; where I now sit, only eight feet from a public street, and quite on its level, I hear the voices and footsteps of all the passers by, the play and shouts of boys, the loud and hearty laughter of negroes, and the rattle of drays and hacks, throughout the day and till twelve at night, and yet as far as I can judge, my mind is more active here than within those silent classic walls.

            4th. Children, like adults, when they sit still, breathe slowly, and their blood is not adequately purified by the atmosphere; which makes them nervous and fidgety. But this is obviated by their studying aloud, when they must of necessity breathe a great deal.

            5th. By this exercise the vocal organs are strengthened; and in my own case, I may perhaps, trace up my capacity for long, loud, and rapid utterance (a good substitute in most cases for sound knowledge and accurate thinking) to my ample practice in the log school-house.

            So, you see, I can raise a snug little argument in favor of one of the customs of my boyhood, still prevalent in the new settlements, but proscribed, I believe, in the older. Silent study is solitary, but audible may be made social. This was much the case in Master Beaden’s school. Two or more boys would get and say their spelling lessons together, and so of their reading lessons. The spelling book was Dilworth’s, an old English production, which I would like to get hold of once more. The reading book was the New Testament, in which we read verse about. When the time for “letting-out was at hand, the whole school were called up to spell, and then came the strife of glory—the turning down and going up head. When the dismissal was pronounced came the scramble for wool hats of all ages, sun bonnets, without pasteboard, of all materials, and dinner baskets of home manufacture; and as the rush through the door was effected, the dispersion was invariably in a run with hopping, jumping, and hallooing. I have never read one of the Waverley Novels, but remember once to have looked into Old Mortality, I think it was, at the house of a patient, and read in the opening of a chapter a description of the letting out of a country school in Scotland, which might have been drawn from that of Master Beaden’s; so much are children alike in all countries. Our school-house was about three hundred yards from the spring which supplied us with water, which was brought in a bucket by two boys; and the candidates for this duty were as numerous and vigilant as the candidates for professorships in our medical schools. The path lay through the woods, and the trip was one of talk, stopping to rest, and looking hither and thither.

            All the scholars brought their dinner, and it was generally a social meal, with cronies and squads on the benches in winter—on old logs in the adjoining woods, at other seasons. The meal over, then came the play and romps, in many of which the boys and girls mingled together; but sometimes the rudeness of the former drove the latter for one “dinner spell” by themselves. Swinging by grape-vines was, in general, a joint amusement, as was hunting nuts, haws, pawpaws, and other fruits, when in season. The boys climbed trees after bird’s nests and grapes, and for the enterprise. It was sometimes a matter of ambition to see who could climb the highest. Now and then several would ascend the same tree, and be clinging to its trunk at the same time; or two would start on the opposite sides of one tree and strive for the greater elevation. Occasionally a luckless squirrel would be driven up a detached tree, when, if it were not too lofty, he was assailed with clubs and stones, by which (rarely) he would be killed; but more commonly led to jump from its top, when not very high, and run for a taller tree. Such is the sagacity of self-preservation - such the knowledge of nature which may be acquired by direct intercourse with her. Throwing at a squirrel or a bird’s nest, or to knock down grapes or walnuts, was an admirable exercise for the arm; indeed, for the whole body, and a fine discipline for the eye. Sometimes the boys brought bows and arrows, and competed for superiority in shooting at a mark. Pitching quoits was a substitute for marble playing. Making whistles in spring out of pawpaw or hickory bark, and blowing on them, was the practice of the fine arts in the midst of our athletic sports. Many of them, like some of which have been named, required equal effort and activity. This was the case with that admirable game, a favorite at all country schools, corner ball. Running races was another; hop, skip and jump another; and prison base, as Webster calls it, known by us, however, as prisoner’s base, was racing in high and complex perfection. Now, if you contemplate these exercises as performed in an open and pure air, under embowering trees, festooned with grape-vines and choral with little birds, and compare them with the marble playing of city boys on a brick pavement, or the feats of a gymnasium with glass windows, hemmed in by high houses, you will admit, I think, that the rural influences are far more propitious to the firm growth of both body and mind, than the civic. It is true that the union of boys and girls within and without a country school-house is not free from objections, but it is natural; and if the latter hear some things which they should not, and form some habits not befitting their sex, they become better prepared for the rough and tumble of life, in which the most favored may be involved; their constitutions are hardened; and their knowledge of the character of the other sex increased; while the feelings and manners of the boys are to some extent refined by the association.

            In all the schools of the period now under review, there was a custom never seen in cities, but still prevalent in remote places, which I highly approve. When the scholars arrived, after the master had taken his seat, the boys were required, on entering the door, to take off their hats and make a bow, the girls to curtsy. In some schools the same was commanded on leaving the house in the evening. But this is not what I just referred to, and to which I now come. It was further inculcated on them to take off their hats and bow and curtsy to all whom they met, either coming or going. Even during play hours, if a man or woman rode near the groups, it was regarded as a duty to give the salutation. Thus I have often run to the roadside with other boys to make my bow; and when a dozen of us, or more, might be returning together, if a man overtook or met us, we all stepped aside, stopped in a row, took off our hats, and made our bows, as near as possible at the same time. This was that cultivation of reverence and good manners, which, fifty years afterward, I find so ominously neglected.

            Of my progress at this school of voice, manners, and rural sports I can say but little, for after the lapse of fifty-one or two years, I recollect ­but little. My impression is, that in the matter of order I was not a great offender; and I certainly never loitered or played truant. Indeed, I do not remember that I ever perpetrated the latter offense while attending any school. I recollect, however, that I was sometimes flogged or feruled, the summary punishment of those days, and, of course, had violated some law. Concerning studies, I took a great deal of pleasure in spelling, and was ranked among the better class of urchins in that acquirement. My first studies in cyphering were here, and my voice and fluency enabled me to say the multiplication table in the style of a real declaimer. Of the extent of my penetration into the domain of numbers, I can not speak positively; but think my conquests were limited to addition, multiplication, subtraction, and division, with a few hacks at reduction, all in round ­numbers. Of my progress in writing I remember nothing; but of reading I can speak more positively. Loudness and fluency were my characteristics. Of pronunciation, emphasis, and cadence, or a correct understanding of the subject, I can not boast with the same good conscience. I was
fond of getting outside of the house with some other boy, and reading verse about with. him in the. New Testament, and have at this moment a lively recollection of being thus seated in the after
noon of a bright and pleasant summer day, with the green woods just before us, while we read, with voices which echoed among the leaves, the fifth chapter of the first Epistle to the Thessalonians, remarkable as you are aware for the number of its short verses; the reason, I presume, of  my remembering the incident.

            I can not tell you how long, by interrupted continuity, vulgo, fits and starts, or, in the commoner dialect of the day, “by spells,” I was the pupil of Master Beaden; but think it was through a part of my tenth and perhaps the whole of my eleventh year.

            My next school-master was Kenyon, a Yankee! at that time a rara avis in Kentucky. He was a man of some personal appearance, and, in point of manners, not less than attainments, much superior to Beaden. He taught at the Lick in Uncle Cornelius Drake ’s still-house. Under him I made some progress. He taught me the rule of three, and I remember to have been puzzled for a day, with the following poetically expressed sum:

“If from a measure three feet high,
The shadow five is made,
What is the steeple’s height in yards
That’s ninety feet in shade.”

            You’ll observe the catch in this. If the height of the steeple had been given to find the length of shade, the statement of the case would have been easy. In my perplexity he declined assisting, and I even doubted whether he could; such was the obscurity with which my obtuseness had invested it, although I was twelve years old. I didn’t, however, give it up, and when I was in the woods on my way home in the evening, the truth suddenly flashed upon me. In my joy (as great as that of Archimedes when he discovered a method of detecting the alloy in the crown of the Sicilian monarch) I lost all shame for my dullness, and hastening home, boasted to my father and mother of the achievement, which, in their profound ignorance of the subject, they seemed to regard as highly auspicious. Sometime afterward, I was confirmed in my suspicion of Kenyon’s ignorance; for, continuing to cypher, I reached the double rule of three, and came at length to a sum which neither of us could work out. My studies with him were the same in kind as they had been before, but extended in degree. Of grammar, geography, and definitions, I presume he knew nothing; still he was of superior scholarship to Beaden, and might have done me considerable good; but in the midst of business he perpetrated a crime and ran away. Here was interruption; but constancy of attendance on school was not my destiny; and therefore but little was thought of it.

            Sometime afterward I returned, for a while, to the old sylvan academy, which now had a new dominie—Master Smith. I have forgotten his country, but think it was Virginia. He had a son, Charles (with club foot, who is, or was not long since alive in the same county), with whom I contracted a boy’s friendship, and from whom, some years since, I received a letter. Many other companionships also sprung up here. The mother of Dr. Threlkeld, and her brothers, Neil and Jack Waller, the Bassetts, and the Glovers (one of whom, then a small boy, but now an iron founder in this place and a trustee of our University), were of the number. All were the children of poor people, or persons in very moderate circumstances; but these details will not interest you, and I’ll stop them.

            With Master Smith I began my classical studies. True, he knew nothing of grammar, etymology, geography, or mathematics; but he had picked up a dozen lines of Latin poetry, which I had an ambition (carried out) to commit to memory. I was much taken with the sounds of the words- the first I had ever heard beyond my mother tongue. From the few I now recollect, I presume the quotation was from the eclogues of Virgil. Master Smith changed his locality, and another long vacation ensued.

            My next school-house was east of Mayslick, but in the edge of the village, about a mile and a quarter from father’s. It was kept in a cabin built by Lawson, a tenant of his while living in the Lick, and my playground now was, in part, the cucumber patch in which Tom and I stole the cucumbers. I went to this school in winter, and had many a cold tramp through deep snows, which filled my shoes in spite of old stocking legs drawn over them. Of my progress here I can not recol­lect anything. I only know that I did not enter on any new study, and that I extended the old a little. Two incidents, however, remain my memory, and I will mention them as illustrating my character at that time. A boy by the name of Walter, from mere mischief (for we had a quarrel), struck me a hard blow and cut one of my lips, which I did not resent, as most boys would have done; but quietly put up with it. When I went home at night, and was asked the cause of the assault, father blamed and shamed me for my cowardice. I felt mortified, but was not aroused to any kind or degree of revenge. The other incident was this. In the open field in which the school-house stood, the boys were accustomed to roll great balls of snow, and then dividing them selves into two parties, one was to have possession of the mass, and the other try to take it from them. On one of these occasions, when I belonged to the former battalion, the battle waxed hot enough to melt all the snow in the field. But it was, in fact, a little softened already, and hence our balls were hard and heavy. With these missiles we came to very close quarters, and the small boys, like myself, were sorely pelted on head and face by the larger. However, I never thought of flinching, and if it had come to fists, feet, and teeth, I am quite certain I should have fought until placed hors de combat by some overpowering contusion; yet I am equally certain that the admonition of father did not prompt me on this occasion, in which I was hurt much worse than I should have been in half a dozen ordinary school boy fights.

            Now, how are these two displays of character to be reconciled? They appear to stand in direct opposition. As they involve principles which have run through my whole life, I will offer you my speculations concerning them. Naturally, I took no pleasure in witnessing a combat of any kind, not even that of dogs or game cocks, the fights of which were in those days common amusements. The fights of men, which I often saw, also affected me unpleasantly. Thus, I had not a pugnacious temper. Again, I was rather slow to anger, that is, to the point of resentment. Again, mother had taught me to regard fighting as wicked, and had not established in my mind any distinction between fighting in aggression and fighting in defense. She was, in extenso, a non-combatant. Finally, when not adequately aroused, I was timid, and the aggressions which are so often productive of fights among boys did not arouse me. The opposite emotion counteracted my anger. In the snowballing my ambition, not my anger, was up. I was under an adequate motive, one which excited me, and no fear or thought of personal danger came into my mind. I will illustrate this subject by an incident which occurred about four years afterward, in the early period of my studies with Dr. Croforth. I had a fellow-student, and two boys from a neighboring town were boarding and lodging at the Doctor’s, to go to school. The older and largest, corresponding to me in age and size, offered me various insults, and spoke against me behind my back, but at the time of giving the insults I did not resent them. At length, one morning, when the other two had gone down stairs, and we were partly dressed (for we all lodged in the same room), it came into my mind and heart to whip him, although he had not then said a word to me. So at it we went, and in half a minute he cried out enough! a cry which I should not have uttered by the next morning: and still he would have fought at any time under a provocation which would not have moved me to retaliation, but perhaps made me afraid.

            But I must return to the school-house, where I shall not detain you long. The next teacher's name was Kneeland, and he also, was a Yankee, and soon afterward “put off,” but under what opprobrium I do not now remember. My last tutor before commencing the study of medicine, was my old Master Smith, who now ruled the boys and girls in another log school-house, under a great shell-bark hickory among the haw trees, on the banks of the Shannon, about two miles west of father’s. To him I was sent, more or less, through the spring, summer, and early autumn of the year 1800, when I was in my fifteenth year. As my destiny to the profession of medicine was now a fixed fact, I was taking the finishing touches; and yet spelling, reading, writing, and cyphering con-
stituted the curriculum of Master Smith’s college. Among my schoolmates were many of my old companions, and many new ones, including the family of Gen. Desha, afterward governor of Kentucky. His son, who murdered Baker, in 1823, between the Blue Licks and Mayslick, that he might get his horse and saddle, was one of them. His brother, now Gen. Robert Desha of Mobile, a former brother-in-law of Dr. Fearn, and a gentleman whom you saw at Nashville, and afterward in Gallatin, Tenn., was another. He, as far as I know, of all my school-fellows, then or before, is the only one who has attained to any distinction in society. Judge McLean’s father, however, once resided at Mayslick a little while, when I was about seven or eight years old, and the Judge and I might then have gone to the same school. I have never thought to ask him. When I went to Master Smith the second time, I felt more than I had ever done before, the necessity of application. I felt anxious concerning the future, knew that my deficiencies were great, and really sought to make the most of my time.

            You might ask, how I could know of deficiencies in my preparation for the study of medicine, a science of which I was so ignorant? My answer is at hand, and will involve a notice of  my cousin, Dr. John Drake.

            He was the younger son of Uncle Abraham Drake, the tavern-keeper, merchant, and rich man of the family. John was five, six or seven years older than myself. When I was four or five, he used to excite my wonder and that of the other children, with stories of Jack the Giant-Killer, Bluebeard, and other great men, for which he had a remarkable talent. From the number of his classical books, now in my possession, I infer that he had been sent to school in Washington to some good scholar who might have been there. He went to the study of  medicine in that town with Dr. Goforth, about the year 1795 or ’6. His progress as a medical student was rapid. His talents were various. In the Thespian corps he maintained a high rank, and in the debating society his eloquence was enviable. In manners he attained to ease and grace. His person was rather small and delicate, but his presence, I well recollect, was highly prepossessing. In the autumn of 1798 or ’9 he went to Philadelphia to attend lectures, and when I did the same thing in the fall of 1805, and wrote my name on Prof. Barton’s register, he immediately inquired after my namesake, and spoke of him in high terms. That the Professor should have remembered him so long depressed my spirits, for I felt how greatly behind him I must be; seeing that the idea of being thus remembered could not be entertained by me for a moment. John spent the spring and summer at home in Mayslick with his father, diligently pursuing his studies, and, I believe, adding the Latin language to the medical sciences. He was to attend lectures the following winter, and then establish himself in Mayslick, when I was to become his pupil. Now it was from him, in various conversations, and from looking into his classical and medical books, that I came to an apprehension of my inadequate preparation for the enterprise on which I was about to enter. His constitution was frail, and in the month of July he was seized with a slow fever of the typhus kind. The physicians of Washington, Drs. Johnson and Duke, attended him; but he gradually got worse. At length his father, who doted on him, dispatched our cousin Jacob Drake to Cincinnati for Dr. Goforth; but the doctor could not come; and about the time Jacob got back, riding all night, through a tremendous and awful thunderstorm, with some advice in his pocket, John expired; and his remains now repose in the old village church yard. A young man of the brightest genius and the noblest qualities of heart, he would have conferred distinction on our name; and his memory should be transmitted in the family. All his books and manuscript notes came into and remain in my possession.

            Had he lived, I should not have gone to Cincinnati to study medicine, and of a consequence never resided there. In fact, humanly speaking, my whole course of life might have been entirely different from what it has been. I should probably have become a country doctor and a member of the General Assembly! His death did not turn father aside from the determination that I should study physic, and I still continued to make my way daily through two miles of woods to the log school-house on the banks of the Shannon. We had, however, a great deal of work to do on the farm, and I felt that as I was not only soon to leave father, but become an expense to him, I ought to tax myself to the utmost. Thus I rose early and worked in the field till breakfast-time, and after that very commonly ran the two miles, to be in time. But my health was good, my endurance great, and we always retired early at night.

            In the midst of this last effort, however, a family affliction arose, which greatly interrupted my studies. Father got a severe injury on his foot, which partially mortified, and three or four of the children were taken down with the ague and fever—the first time that that disease had even invaded us. In my letter two years ago, I must have mentioned these facts, but probably did not tell you (boastingly) that when the care of every thing turned on mother and myself, my heart grew big with the emotions which such calamities naturally inspire, and with the feeling of responsibility that was quite as natural, producing in my actions their proper fruits; and that father and mother commended me for my labors, both indoors and out. To speak of the whole matter frankly, I look back, even from this distant point of time, forty-seven years, to my conduct with approbation and pleasure. What a precious reward (referring to this life only) there is in striving to do what trying occasions require of us! As old age is ruminant, youth ought to prepare for it as many savory cuds as possible.

            Well! I have given you an unpremeditated and unbroken, though very imperfect, narrative of my opportunities for scholastic learning before I commenced the study of medicine; but I had some of a collateral and incidental kind, to which I must refer

            During my boyhood there was in the country, except among wealthy emigrants from Old Virginia (of whom, however, there were none about Mayslick), a great deficiency of books. There was not a single book-store north of Licking river, and, perhaps, none in the State. All the books imported were kept in what were called the stores, which were magazines of the most primitive character, variety shops, if not curiosity shops—comprehending dry-goods, hardware, glass and earthenware, groceries, dyestuffs, and drugs, ammunition, hats, manufactures of leather, books, and stationery; the last consisting generally of coarse foolscap, wafers, slates, and pencils. The era of division of labor and distribution of commodities on sale, had not yet arrived; and, of course, no particular branch was pushed very far; and least of all, that which ministered to intellectual improvement, for its articles were least in demand. Bibles, hymn-books, primers, spelling books, arithmetics, and almanacs, in fact, composed, in most instances, the importation, which was always from Philadelphia, the only city of the seaboard which maintained any commercial intercourse with the infant settlements of the interior. Our preachers and teachers were, in general, almost as destitute as the people at large, many of whom could neither read or write, did not send their children to school, and, of course, kept no books in the house. Of our own library I have already spoken incidentally. A family Bible, Rippon’s Hymns, Watts’ Hymns for Children, the Pilgrim’s Progress, an old romance of the days of knight-errantry, primers, with a plate representing John Rogers at the stake, spelling books, an arithmetic, and a new almanac for the new year, composed all that I can recollect, till within two or three years of my leaving home. Now, comparing myself with other boys of my age, I think I had a taste for study rather greater than the bulk of them, and if books had been within my reach, it is probable that I should have made some proficiency by solitary study at night and on rainy days. When I was about twelve or thirteen years old, father purchased of a neighbor living a mile down Absalom, a copy of Love’s Surveying, which I well remember afforded me great pleasure.  Its definitions and diagrams, triangles, trapeziums, and rhomboids, now come up pleasantly in the vista through which I am reviewing the past; and I even went so far as to plat tracts of land according to courses and distances. But I was not a young Paschal. I had a taste rather than a talent for geometry, and did not go on conquering and to conquer. Ten years afterward, however, the propensity to that science recurred, and finding Euclid’s Elements among the books which had belonged to cousin John Drake, I put at them, but stopped again after I had solved the forty-seventh proposition; being delighted to observe that it was by a rule dependent on that problem that I had, with others, squared the corners of small cabins and out houses, while I was on the farm. My capacity for arithmetic was, I suppose, up to the mean heat, for before I went from home I had learned decimals and vulgar fractions, gauging, position, and heard of algebra. Many years afterward curiosity prompted me to look a little into that science, but I found it rather hard, and not so much to my taste as geometry, and stopped after going through the binomial theorem. Limited and superficial as were these dippings into mathematical science, they have not been without their value, for they taught me what the objects and (to some small extent) the processes of that science are; and enabled me to understand some things in my studies, which would otherwise have been unintelligible. Another book which fell into my hands (I can not tell how) when I was twelve or thirteen, was Guthrie’s Grammar of Geography, the study of which was undoubtedly of service; though, as it was not intended for children, much of it was beyond my comprehension, and its hard technical terms pestered me a great deal, not only as to their meaning, but their pronunciation. The phrase, “Brazen meridian” which I ejaculated with a strong accent on the penultimate, was one of those “posers.” The very title of the book puzzled me, for I had read in the spelling-book that grammar related to words, and I could not therefore understand its connection with the description of the earth. My first crude ideas of latitude and longitude, of the equator and the rotundity of the earth, were derived from the study of this work. We had in the family a tradition that our great namesake Sir Francis Drake (possibly we were relations) was the first man who sailed round the world. I had long been perplexed to know how that could be, but now understood it. An old hunter who visited at father’s had spoken of the noction line. I saw in Guthrie that it was equinoctial, and could laugh at his ignorance. I feel grateful to Mr. Guthrie for his patient teachings of so dull a pupil, and would like to meet with him again. Before I fell in with the grammar of geography, I was advanced from Dilworth’s to Webster’s Spelling-book, and was greatly interested in its augmented vocabulary of new and hard words, and in the new reading it afforded, especially in the account of the boy who pronounced to his father an opinion in favor of the superior pleasures of each of the four seasons, as they successively arose. I was in sympathy with him, and now know that I then had, in a germinal state, a trait of character which, in expansion, has remained with me ever since. It is an aptitude to become interested in any study or any pursuit, and to derive from it as much pleasure, pro tempore, as from any other.

            A couple of years, or thereabouts, before leaving home, I got Entick’s (a pocket) Dictionary, which was, of course, a great acquisition. I also obtained Scott ’s Lessons, which afforded me much new reading, and I used to speak pieces from it at Master Smith’s school, when I went to him the second time. In addition (but not to my school library), father purchased I remember (when I was twelve or thirteen) the Prompter, Esop’s Fables, and Franklin’s Life—all sterling books for boys. The first was a collection of proverbs and maxims. A puzzle growing out of the last was his being called doctor, when he had not studied physic.

            Occasionally, father borrowed books for me of Dr. Goforth. Once he bought me the Farmer’s Letters, a work by Dickinson, secretary to congress during the Revolutionary war. Much of it was above my comprehension, but it made the mind strain forward; an effect produced about the same time by Guthrie’s Grammar.

            Another book from the same source, borrowed, I think, a year or so earlier, was Lord Chesterfield’s Letters to his son, inculcating politeness. This fell in mighty close with my tastes, and not less with those of father and mother, who cherished as high and pure an idea of the duty of good breeding as any people on earth. The principle of politeness was deeply rooted in both; and their manifestation of it, in the form of deference, in their way, was sometimes, as I thought (even at that early period) carried too far. I was always, however, prone to be deferential, and was never inclined or able to act with rudeness or nonchalance in the presence of my seniors or superiors. Time, of which the elements are observation and reflection, has convinced me that our natural deference ought to be cherished, and that we should cultivate a feeling of respect for what is respectable, while we manifest suavity and kindness to all.

            In the olden time newspapers, now the cumbersome pests of so many families, were almost as scarce among the country people around us as Sibylline leaves, and no tracts were spoken of in any house, but those of land. The first newspaper published in the State of Kentucky was begun at Lexington in 1787, the year before our immigration. It was called the Kentucky Gazette, and was edited, printed and published by John Brad- ford. Another was started in Washington, when I was eight or nine years old; but father did not take it. It was called the Palladium. Occasionally a number of it fell into my hands and was, from its novelty and variety, a great treat, although much of it was, of course, unintel­ligible to me. It spoke, I remember, a great deal about the French Revolution, Bonapart, and the war between France and England; in reference to which father and his neighbors were in close sympathy with the French. I recollect getting a number of it when I was about eleven years old. It was soon after corn planting, and I was sent into the cornfield to keep out the squirrels. I took the paper with me, and leaving the young corn to defend itself as it could, sat down at the root of a large tree near the center of the little field (where of course the squirrels would not disturb me), and beginning at the head of the first column on the first page, read it through, advertisements and all. This may seem to you rather laughable, but it was all right (the neglect of the corn excepted), for it gave me a peep into the world and excited my curiosity.

            And now, my dear Dove, I have given you as full a detail as memory permits of my scholastic opportunities and home studies. If I add any thing to my narrative, it must be drawing on my imagination, as others have done who are the heroes of their own histories. And this brings to my recollection that the Life of Robinson Crusoe (greatest of autobiographers) was among my early readings. I have not read it for forty-five or fifty years, but long and often threaten to do it yet. I neglect to hunt it up, and it never falls in my way. From the size, it must have been an abridgment that I read in days of yore; but it was so well executed that the whole was to me a living reality. So it appears, I presume, to other children; for I remember that when your brother was a child, he came in one evening in a great flurry, and told his mother and myself that he had just seen Robinson Crusoe down in Broadway. I asked how he knew it was Robinson, and he said because he was dressed in skins; getting his copy, at the same time, and showing me a frontispiece which represented the hero in that costume. I then told him that the life was a mere tale, a story, and not a true account; but he could not believe me, and gave as a reason that there was so much of it. Thus it is that circumstantiality, under the hand of genius, leads to irresistible conviction. In common with other children, I experienced in my boyhood all this, when reading the Pilgrim’s Progress. Although it was declared to be a dream, all the characters became to me as real personages as if they had been dramatis personae acting before me.

            By an association of ideas which I cannot understand, I am now reminded of a very wee book, the title of which does not come up with the story. It told of two little children, a brother and sister, being in captivity somewhere in eastern Africa or Arabia, and after a long separation, being brought accidentally together and lodged in the same bed, with a man between them; and how they pressed and locked each other’s hands over his body. The effect on my feelings, I well remember, was so agonizing, as to indicate not only great intensity of fraternal love and tenderness, but an apt personation of character by me. The latter has remained with me ever since, and is one reason why all works of fiction raise in me emotions so powerful that I am obliged, in a great degree, to avoid their perusal.

            Father, as well as myself, was aware that I was about to go to the study of medicine without due scholastic preparation, and if there had been a classical school in our neighborhood, I should, no doubt, have been sent to it, for some months at least. Under the conviction which I have assigned to him, he stipulated with Dr. Goforth that I should be sent to school for six months, to learn Latin; but by some great absurdity this was not done till I had studied for eighteen months that which, for want of Latin, I could not understand. But to dwell on this would be foreign to my present object. In making a deliberate and, as far as might be expected, a candid estimate of my natural and acquired preparation for the study and practice of medicine, I am led to the conclusion, that both kinds of qualification were more in the moral than the intellectual elements of my character.

            I was free from gross vices, or even a tendency to them, and was protected by some degree of conscientiousness. I was still further defended by a love of approbation and praise, which was far from being either dilute or easily clogged; but I was not  made vain, self-conceited, or a spoiled child by its administration. On the contrary, the pleasure it afforded was mingled with a kind of regret that I did not deserve more of the same savory aliment of the soul, and a renewed resolution to earn additional supplies by greater exertions in the line of duty. This was a salutary effect of commendation, and indicated a low state of pride. That passion was, indeed, never strong; and, moreover, was counterpoised by a humility which always suggested how far short I came of the excellence which ought to be attained. With these traits, if I had been born a slave, I should have become a rebel, but conforming to my condition, rendering diligent service, have acquired the confidence of my master. I had patience without apathy, and endurance without insensibility. My curiosity was keen, and my desire for knowledge much stronger than my consciousness of a capacity for acquiring it. I thought how pleasant it would be to know a great deal but dared not hope that my talents would procure for me the gratification. I had an idea that those who had studied science deeply, and written books, or become otherwise distinguished, had not only been favored with greater opportunities, but far greater talents than myself. As to my actual attainments in learning, they were certainly quite limited, and yet I could read and examine a dictionary for the meaning of words; and here is the starting point of all improvement. My intellectual preparation consisted less, perhaps, in my actual scholarship, than in the want of those habits of sustained application and that strength of memory which (in ordinary minds) can only be acquired in boyhood. I had, it is true, an ability to engage readily in any study, but, at the same time, might be easily diverted from it to any other. I had not been disciplined into the constancy of attention which it is an office of the school-master to establish within the wall of the school, where nature, my greatest teacher, is shut out. Now, as nature teaches by the works and events which, in the embodiment, constitute the best definition of the word itself, it follows, from her complex character, that her pupils are instructed in many things at the same time or in quick succession, and that, although the faculty of observation, from continued exercise, may acquire much strength, the attention is not drilled into concentrated protracted devotion to one subject. It results, then, from all I have said, that when I engaged in the study of medicine, I had a natural and acquired preparation to become a useful physician, but not to enlarge the boundaries of medical science, by the discoveries and inventions of genius.

            And now, my dear Dove, I have written you through yesterday afternoon and that of to day (it is now 9 o’clock) a very long letter, longer than that to any other member of the family (though not elongated through design), a longer letter than you ever received before, or will ever receive again; and yet, a number of things which I expected to put into it have not been reached. An old man’s pen, once turned upon the days of his youth, is a siphon, with one end in the great reservoir of the past, and the other on his paper, through which the current will flow on till the vessel is exhausted. That you at my age may have as good children to receive the outpourings of your reminiscential hours, is the prayer of your affectionate    FATHER.

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