ESTABLISHING PRACTICE IN CINCINNATI, 1850
CINCINNATI, JANUARY 1, 1850. -- November 10, 1849, -- day
Pierpont Marsh was buried (Sunday),--[I] left Mrs.
Valette's, Fremont, Ohio, with Uncle to make a new home in
Cincinnati. Health and stimulus, my principal motives. Spent
a month in Columbus-- health bad. Prepared argument in Bos-
well case [involving title to lands long in the possession of his
uncle]; visited Circleville, Lancaster, and Chillicothe to get old
records. Found Judge Tilden was going to Cincinnati to reside.
To avoid the widowers' party at Columbus, left Columbus with
Judge Tilden and reached Cincinnati Christmas evening. Dined
Christmas day with Judge Tilden at Broadway Hotel.
Mem.:--At Columbus dreaded the widowers' party solely be-
cause there would be published accounts of it; and as Miss H---
had requested my escort, I feared to be heralded as her accepted
and intended, feeling quite sure that no acceptance is intended
at this present by her, nor much desired by myself; that flirtation
will never ripen into anything. It once bloomed but is now
pretty much sham and [on] both sides. I still talk love to her,
but it is habit and coquetry, not felt and true. So mote it be.
Am making a few acquaintances, seeking an office, etc., etc.
Called at Wesleyan College. Miss L[ucy Webb] not in.
CINCINNATI, January 4, 1850.
DEAR UNCLE:--. . . You would like, I suppose, to hear
of my doings, views, and prospects. After remaining a short
time at the hotel, I became satisfied that the advantages of being
in a public house would not, at least for the present, compensate
for the increased expense. I have accordingly commenced board-
ing with Mrs. Fulton on the southeast corner of Fourth and
Vine Streets. Mrs. Fulton is a very excellent widow lady --a
276 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
Presbyterian after Mother's own heart -- who has the reputation
(like General Taylor) of never deserting her sick and wounded.
There are about a dozen boarders, chiefly merchants. The
situation is pleasant and is next door to Mat Stem's boarding
place. So much for my eating and sleeping.
I came down with Judge Tilden, who soon got his partnership
(quite a respectable one) formed, but [I] found Mr. Meline had
made arrangements for the present at all events, to get along
by the aid of a clerk, so I have been since studying the ways and
means and probabilities of obtaining practice in a crowd by
myself; and although I would greatly prefer a connection with
an established lawyer, I yet am satisfied that, in due time, I
shall be able to wedge in. The tediousness of waiting a year
or two before I can reasonably expect much to do does not
trouble me. I shall spend it pleasantly enough brushing up and
preparing and making friends and acquaintances. I find Mr.
Jones very willing to aid me, and quite confident that, by holding
on, I will succeed. He will give me favorable introductions to
business men as fast as I want them. Judging by what I have
seen of the practice, the arangements of the several courts, and
the intercourse of the members of the bar, I shall be better suited
if I get practice, and have more to stimulate to exertion than I
ever could in the country.
I have not yet got into an office; there is some difficulty in
getting a good one, and I shall look about a good deal before I
take up with an indifferent one. I shall send to Edgerton for
my books as soon as I engage an office. In the meanwhile, time
is not wasted nor do I find it hanging on my hands. So far
as my position as to social pleasures is concerned, I am, as I
supposed I should be, most pleasantly situated. I can go in
society little or much, and in one circle or another pretty much
as suits my taste. New Year's day I made about a dozen calls-a
part with Jones and the remainder with a young brother chip.
In the evening I went to Mr. King's to a small gentlemen's
gathering where, among other notorious persons, I met Cassius
M. Clay, and to my surprise found him not only pleasant and
agreeable, but exceedingly unobtrusive and modest.
Judge Lane left here this morning. He was, of course, quite
BEGINS PRACTICE IN CINCINNATI, 1850 277
desirous of aiding me and spoke a good word or two for me
in some quarters where I am likely to get some benefit from it.
I hope you will be well enough to spend a part of the winter
here. Jesse Stem, Mrs. Stem tells me, is intending to be here
to stay the remainder of the winter. You, I am sure, would
enjoy it. In writing to me, direct simply to Cincinnati. I shall
get your letters, although not directed to anyone's care. I shall
write to you often, and shall be anxious to hear from you until
I know you are quite well again. My kindest regards and a
happy New Year to all Mr. Valette's family.
R. B. HAYES.
January 8, 1850.--This day I have gone into an office--a
good office--on Third Street with John W. Herron, not as a
partner but as a mere office chum. He is young, of good habits,
education, and mind --a good fellow, by accounts and by appear-
ance and "sign," as the hunters say. The arrangement is prob-
ably only temporary. We sleep on little hard mattresses in a
little room cooped off from one end of our office. Quite like
living my college life over again. Now for a period of waiting,
patience, perseverance, etc., etc.
CINCINNATI, January 14, 1850.
DEAR BROTHER:--I received your very satisfactory letter,
(bating the suspicion about the wine parties) in due season and
shall tomorrow take advantage of the permission given by draw-
ing for fifty dolars. After I have got such office "fixin's" as are
required, my expenses will be about thirty dollars per month,
not including clothing. I am very pleasantly located in an office
on the south side of Third Street, between Main and Sycamore,
directly opposite the Henrie House. Telegraphic communica-
tions should be sent to my office. I will enclose my cards in my
My office chum is quite another person from Mr. Heith M.
278 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
Ware! He was a classmate and chum of Henry Noble. We
share the office together until spring, and longer if no better
location then is open to me.
By the by, you folks must have given the wine at that gather-
ing a more important place than it deserved. I regarded the
quails and oysters as the crowning glory of the feast. It was as
far from a gentleman's wine party as anything of the kind I
I found Lucy Webb the other night. She had so far forgotten
me as not to recognize me, although I laughed and chatted with
her a long while before I relieved her curiosity by telling her my
name. Don't you think I read the Journal's description of the
soir'ee without discovering you and Fanny among the characters!
Lucy enlightened me on that score or I should never have known
what "a sterling and popular couple" you are.
I have heard from Fremont that Uncle is recovering his health
again. Love to all.
R. B. HAYES.
WILLIAM A. PLATT.
CINCINNATI, January 20, 1850.
DEAR CHUM:-- Quite like old times to get a letter from you,
although it was short and a good while coming. If ever I
abused long letters, it was when I had more clients than I now
have, or am likely to have, for some time yet.
Your information on the points touched upon was quite satis-
factory, especially that on the subject of ethnology (I think
that's what it's called). But there was one point of some im-
portance which you somehow omitted to speak of, viz., the
whereabouts of Miss Lucy Webb. Friend Jones has introduced
me to more than one charming damsel; but still, for a country-
bred boy, it's pleasanter to meet the natural gaiety of such an
one as I fancy Miss Lucy must have become by this time, than
any of the artificial attractions of your city belles. So that,
while I feel quite indebted for the intelligence that "Sam" or
"Jim" or "Jake" is not quite white, but nearly so--that his
father is dead and gone, and that his mother is so green as to
BEGINS PRACTICE IN CINCINNATI, 1850 279
swallow your pills, I still think you might have stretched your
patience and your letter long enough to have said a little for the
fair one referred to. However, I suppose you didn't want to
give it to me faster than I could bear it.
I have got me into a pleasant office, a pleasant boarding-house,
and an agreeable set of companions and damsels to match; all
that seems wanting is the sober reality of clients and business
to place me in a situation more after my own heart than any I
have ever been placed in. Without any business in hand, the
prospect in expectancy is so good that I am content to bide my
time, not forgetting to enjoy myself in the meanwhile. . . . .
R. B. HAYES.
P. S. -- Lest you should be troubled at not having mentioned
Miss Lucy's whereabouts, I would simply say that I found her as
soon as she returned from her holiday visit, and have enjoyed
the light of her gleesome smile and merry talk times not a few
nor far between.--H.
DR. JOHN A. LITTLE.
Cincinnati, January 25, 1850.--I have just finished reading
Bulwer's "Life of Schiller," prefixed to a translation of his poems
and ballads. It is very interesting, very instructive. I shall read
it again -- I had almost said -- and again. I am almost persuaded
to go stoutly to work and master the German; but no, perhaps
my strength better be preserved for the mastery of my profes-
sion, which, as Judge Story was fond of repeating, is "a jealous
mistress and will endure no rivals."
I am now living again a student, with abundant leisure and
few cares. Why may I not, by a few hours daily spent in sys-
tematic study, regain all I have lost in the last three or four
unfortunate years spent or wasted at the North? Let me awake
to my old ambition to excel as a lawyer, as an advocate. For
style and language read Webster and Burke, Byron (!) and
Bulwer (!). The last two are strange names to be heard in a
280 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
student's mouth, but to counteract the cramping effect of legal
studies and practice and to give one that copia verborum and
power of intense expression, which are so essential to success as
a jury advocate, what are better? For mental discipline, read
carefully and thoughtfully the most logical treatises on evidence,
pleading, on kindred topics.
January 27.--Heard Mr. Thompson, President of the Col-
lege at Delaware, preach a good, practical sermon today at the
Wesleyan Chapel. After dinner called on Mr. Jesse Stem and
lady at the Gibson House; walked with Jesse and A. M. Stem
down to the landing. The river is booming full. The fine
weather and busy scene on the quay with its crowds of Sunday-
dressed people presented a glorious sight for one accustomed to
the wintry weather and deserted streets of lake shore villages.
Returned and read a little Byron. Sick of that, then took up
Mrs. Adams' "Letters." What better shows the spirit and
character of the people of those times than the following. Speak-
ing of a body of two hundred men (a mob?) who came into
Braintree one Sunday evening to carry off the powder lest the
British should get it, she says:
"They put it to vote whether they should burn the warrants
taken from the sheriff, and it passed in the affirmative. They
then made a circle and burnt them. They then called a vote
whether they should huzza, but it being Sunday evening, it passed
in the negative." --Letter dated September 14, 1774.
Where in all history is there anything to parallel this little
January 31. --Last day of my first month in Cincinnati, and
the last day of the first month of the year. I have had no
business as yet; have, however, extended my acquaintance, and
think I can see streaks betokening the approach of day. My
studies have been pursued with tolerable diligence and earnest-
ness. Tonight heard a lecture on Louis Philippe's career and
fall by an old college acquaintance, J. D. French. At college,
I thought him the most promising and gifted of all my acquaint-
ances. I now think he is destined to fulfill his early promise.
Can as much be said of myself? Oh, the waste of those five
BEGINS PRACTICE IN CINCINNATI, 1850 281
precious years at [Lower] Sandusky! Shall I ever recover what
I have lost? I believe I can, and so will go on, high of heart
and full of hope, determined to do whatever my hand findeth to
do with my might.
February 4, 1850. -- Read all day -- Starkie on "Evidence,"
with occasional sips of Greenleaf and reported cases; Kent on
"Negotiable Papers," referring to our statute and the decisions in
Ohio; the Law Journals; a little German, and a little of Bulwer's
February 10. -- Finished Starkie on "Evidence" yesterday.
Shall tomorrow begin Greenleaf, reading it in connection with
the Ohio Reports. During the last week have read pretty dili-
gently with friend Herron Story's "Promissory Notes," in con-
nection with Ohio Reports. Shall continue it next week. Shall
also add logic and to speak German to my list of studies. I
have called on Dr. Schmidt, and from my conversation with him
think a little brushing up of my German may be well "worth my
This forenoon heard Dr. Humphrey, of Louisville, son of old
President Humphrey of Amherst, preach in the First Presby-
terian Church. He is a graceful, animated, and entertaining
speaker, without much depth or strength. This afternoon have
been reading Byron's truly imcomparable and matchless letters.
What a racy (I hate the word) way he has of hitting off a
thing. Witness the following: "Like other largish parties, it
was first silent, then talky, then argumentative, then disputatious,
then unintelligible, then altogethery, then inarticulate, and then
drunk." --October, 1815.
CINCINNATI, February 10, 1850.
DEAR UNCLE: -- I have been hoping to hear from you for some
time past, but suppose you do not get down to your office very
often this bad weather. I now get the Democrat regularly so
that I am likely to know if anything very extraordinary happens
to any of my friends at Fremont. Stem has not left here yet.
He is waiting for Poag and his wife and Judge Reznor and his
282 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
lady (all of whom are now here) to get ready to go down the
Glenn, I think, intends to make his fortune here by speculat-
ing in real estate. He is satisfied that the fortunes are not all
made that can be in that way, and I think he is quite right.
Judge Reznor bought a farm of about sixty acres five or six
miles from the city last fall, which would now sell for three
thousand more than he gave.
I called on Mrs. Glenn a few days ago. She seems to be
pleased with the place, but as she is yet boarding does not feel
quite at home. They expect to buy a house and go to house-
keeping in the spring.
I am really sorry that old Eddy didn't remain here. Those
qualities which in a small town render him somewhat of a bore
to his friends would here make him very valuable. He would
pry into everything--know who was compelled to sell out, who
was in want of money, or a lawyer, or anything of that sort.
But as it is, we have enough northern [Ohio] folks to make a
very respectable little society by ourselves. . . .
I suppose you have noticed by the papers that your lawsuit
has been submitted to the court. I now watch the papers pretty
closely to see the decision. It will be decided, I presume, within
two or three weeks; although of this I am not certain.
My office chum has this minute brought from the office a long
family letter from Fanny. She and William are coming down
here to spend one day when the first train of cars run from
Xenia, which will be in about a week. Fanny says she wrote
to Charlotte a few weeks ago and Charlotte not being at home,
Aunt Birchard replied sending with her reply "a volume of let-
ters received from Mary who is in Yazoo, Mississippi." Mary
in her letters tells her mother she intends to spend her sum-
mer with her friends in Ohio, and that she expects Uncle Sardis
to meet her at Sandusky, etc., etc. To this piece of information
Fanny adds that she thinks she can make it go off pleasantly
enough at Columbus, and (here I quote) "how I would like to
see Uncle when he hears of it! How he will stride across the
floor revolving means of escape!" Aunt Birchard says, "I hope
BEGINS PRACTICE IN CINCINNATI, 1850 283
you will all think of Mary in that wilderness in a log cabin with
niggers and write to her."
It was an old English lawyer's favorite maxim "never to stop
speaking until he had given the jury something to chew upon";
and as I think I have accomplished that for you now, I will stop.
Love to Mr. Valette's folks.
R. B. HAYES.
February 15. -- Attended last evening the most agreeable little
soir'ee at which I remember ever to have been present, --
at Mr. Key's. The ladies all were intimate with each other,
gentlemen ditto. No stiffness, nothing uproarious, all, all agree-
Yesterday received my first retainer in Cincinnati--five dol-
lars from a coal trader to defend a suit in the Commercial Court.
February 19. --Tuesday evening. --Just returned from the
lecture room of the Young Men's Mercantile Library Association,
where I heard a most eloquent and glorious lecture from [the]
Rev. Thomas Stockton. "Materialism the Foundation of Ir-
religion and Spiritualism the Corner-stone of Piety." Mr. Stock-
ton certainly resembles Henry Clay in personal appearance as
well as in genius.-- Attended last evening a pleasant little soir'ee
at Mr. John D. Jones'.
CINCINNATI, February 19, 1850.
DEAR UNCLE:--I received your letter of the 14th yesterday
I reply thus promptly because I have leisure and happen to feel
like writing. Besides, if you are housed up, you are no doubt
glad to have the monotony of an indoors life broken in upon
even by a letter which has nothing in it.
Mrs. Valette's thinking of my place of worship reminds me
that I have never given you a detailed account of my way of
living and spending time, and, therefore, thinking it may perhaps
interest her if it does not you, I will try to give you a picture of
284 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
my days. My office is in the "Law Buildings." The lower story
is occupied by two express offices, an auction store, and a tele-
graph office; the upper stories by about eighteen lawyers, three
or four architects, and a loafer or two, about one-third of whom
sleep in their offices or rooms adjoining. The rooms rent for
about ten dollars per month each. Our office is one of the best,
if not the best, in the building. In one corner of the room,
about twelve feet square is partitioned off for a bedroom, in
which are two husk mattresses on bunks the size of Mrs.
Valette's lounge, a washstand, a bureau, and divers pegs on
which hang divers dusty garments. In the morning about 5
o'clock, an Irishman (who is not a Son of Temperance) comes
in and builds a fire and sweeps out the office; about seven (more
or less) the newsboy comes with the daily paper, and we get up,
scratch open our eyes, read the news, and go to breakfast.
My boarding-house is three squares off. A very respectable
set of boarders;--one Old School Presbyterian clergyman, four
or five intelligent Scotch merchants, also Presbyterians (but not
members of our preacher's church), and strong on doctrinal
points, an agreeable lawyer and his lady (an old schoolmate
of Fanny's), a young Methodist New Yorker who is always get-
ting the worst of the argument from the Scotchmen, an insur-
ance broker from Connecticut, very like John Pease, and with
more sense than all the rest, two or three nondescripts, an old
widow lady, great on homoeopathy and Swedenborgianism, a
son of hers about forty who echoes his mother's sentiments
most dutifully, and myself.
While we are gone to breakfast, our Irishman and his wife
make up the beds, bring water, and brush off the dust, never
omitting to arrange all the books and papers on our tables right
After breakfast, I read law student-fashion till noon, when
one of us go to the postoffice and then read news and letters, if
there are any, until dinner. Every few days a forenoon is spent
in court, if anything interesting is going on. Dinner at one
o'clock. Remain in the office until near four, when we sally
out to call on friends or ladies--in short, in search of prey.
About half-past five, I go to the gymnasium where I often meet
BEGINS PRACTICE IN CINCINNATI, 1850 285
Mat Stem and occasionally Glenn; Glenn you know is pussy
[pursy]. He works hard and looks among the youngsters who
are seen there like a whale in Green Creek. About half our
evenings are spent in the office--one or two evenings a week
with the ladies, and one or two at lectures, Sons [of Temper-
ance], or something of that sort. Among the lawyers in this
building are Judge Walker, Judge Read, Tom Gallagher, Ghol-
son & Minor, etc.--all clever and social.
I attend church at Mr. Nicholson's (Episcopal). He is a very
showy, dashing declaimer, once a Methodist, who draws large
crowds of the younger sort. My Sunday resort is Mr. Jones's
(who, by the way, often mentions you). There I find often
some young lady or (now that George is East, his wife) with
whom I go to church in the morning and return to dine (mem.:--
great Sunday dinners Mrs. Jones gets up) and in the afternoon
to church again, or not, as suits the crowd. I belong to a de-
lightful little club, composed of lawyers, artists, merchants, and
teachers, which meets once a week--has debates, conversations,
(similar, I suppose, to those of the "Fremont Literary Associa-
tion, H. Everett, Secretary"), essays, and oysters.
All this looks well for enjoyment, but you would know the
prospect of [my] getting into business. This is not different
from what I expected when I came here. All who stay and are
found in their offices ready to do business, do get it. I think
I can see some symptoms of work. About a week ago a sub-
stantial coal dealer accidently stumbled in and gave me a five-
dollar retainer to defend a suit for which I shall charge him
twenty-five dollars when finished. Mr. Jones has given me a
lot of notes which will probably have to be sued; if so, there is
probably a hundred dollars more if I succeed in collecting them.
It is a difficult affair, but I feel pretty confident of collecting
them. I have two houses which wish to do for me what they can;
at present, their business is in the hands of regular attorneys and
they cannot change except by degrees and slowly. Their business
would support me. Stem, Baker & Co. also speak good words for
me occasionally. I met Horace Hunt at a party the other evening.
He wished to be remembered to you. By the way, I gave a
young German a letter to you and Buckland. He is agent of
286 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
the German Whig paper here. Will you see Buckland and have
the young man sent out to Woodville and aided in his work?
Dr. Schmidt is very friendly to me and says he will send me
some German clients. Dr. Schmidt, you know, is the proprietor
of the paper. It is now a large establishment and is making
money hand over hand.
Jesse Stem and company sailed on the Yorktown Saturday.
By a mistake which was much regretted, Poag and lady got on
the wrong boat, so they are separated after all their efforts to
keep together. Mr. Stanbery went on to Washington a short
time ago. He had not prepared any additional argument, I pre-
sume. Whether he will do so, I do not know. It may, accord-
ing to the way of doing business, be some time yet before your
case is reached. I have filled a good sheet full. My health is
fine.-- So, love to all.
S. BIRCHARD. RUD.
March 1, 1850 --Yesterday about 11 A. M., was surprised by
the entrance of my brother-in-law, William A. Platt, into my
office. He had just arrived on the first passenger train of cars
through from Columbus to Cincinnati --sister Fanny with him.
Her first visit to the City of Pigs. Strolled up and down Fourth
Street gaping at the windows of shops and houses; also over the
Burnet House -- not yet quite finished. Evening spent with
Mrs. Stem (A. M.) by my sister and William and with
and others by myself. A sleepless night, thinking of the silli-
ness of permitting such a brutish fellow as [to] count
himself among my friend's friends. No envy or jealousy in it,
for I know he is too "egregiously an ass" to win in that difficult
game. But then, the looks of the thing! Why, I should almost
hate my own sister if she were to permit such intimacy.
March 3.--Made my first speech in the Club last night.
So-so, but ratherish good, considering. Shall improve the privi-
leges of the Club in the future to the full. About ten adjourned.
Went to Masonic Hall with friend Collins just in time to witness
reception of the Legislature who had come down on the new
BEGINS PRACTICE IN CINCINNATI, 1850 287
railroad by invitation to have a spero or bender. Speeches made
by President of the City Council, Speaker Converse of the
Senate, Leiter of the House, Mr. Kelly, president of the road,
etc., etc.; after which oysters, roast turkey, champagne, etc.,
until midnight. Good, good. President of the City Council wel-
comed the Solons by wishing them a "safe and SPEEDY (!) re-
CINCINNATI, March 5, 1850.
DEAR UNCLE: -- I write to you again so soon to know about a
couple of matters and wish you would reply as quick as you con-
veniently can First, whether it will pay expenses (I don't mean
in money, but in pleasure to you and other friends) for me to
come to Fremont next court, and if so, when the court sits? I do
not want to be gone long, and would prefer to be back here
election day, the first Monday in April. If court sits about that
time, I will come up the week before court and stay the first two
or three days of court week and then come home. The other
matter is this: Mr. Jones had about seven hundred dollars of
notes intended to circulate as money issued by the Whitewater
Canal Company. He lost, by the acts of that company, fifteen
hundred dollars besides this money, and wishes to make the
stockholders individually liable on the money if possible. Mr.
Longworth, Judge Burnet, Judge Walker, and a score of the
other leading men of the city (friends of Mr. Jones) are the
stockholders. He did not wish to sue them in his own name,
and, accordingly transferred the legal title to the notes to me.
If Pease will permit me to use his name in collecting the notes,
it will oblige me and do him no harm. It is just and honorable
that the notes should be paid. I do not use my own name, be-
cause I wish to appear as attorney, and it will be pleasanter not
to be a party. I have spoken to Judge Walker (who, thanks to
Judge Lane's introduction, is very friendly to me) on the sub-
ject, and he, as one of the parties in interest, regards it as per-
fectly fair game, although he will be one of the losers if it goes
against him. I do not ask you for the use of your name, be-
cause, you, I hope, will be in Cincinnati so often, that it might
288 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
be unpleasant. Tell Pease all these things, and I have no doubt
he will give me his name. Good luck is in his name, you know,
and going to law is a matter of luck oftentimes. I may get along
without beginning suit at all, as one suit to try the same questions
is now pending; but if I sue it will be in a week or two, and I want,
therefore, a reply as soon as convenient.
William and Fanny came down last Thursday morning on the
first train of cars from Columbus. They returned the next day
after dinner. They were in raptures about the excellence of the
road and the pleasure of the trip. The weather was fine and
both appeared to enjoy their trip mightily. They avoided seeing
acquaintances except Mrs. Stem and (accidentally) Mr. Jones'
family. It seems no journey at all now. The members of the
Legislature are here with the Governor; Sam Medary, Mr. Kel-
ley, and others. I, of course, have hunted up all my friends
among them--among others, Dr. Bell, Sergeant at Arms, etc.
I see they now elect Whig associate judges at Columbus. Will
Sandusky County have a Whig? . . .
My health never was better, and of late years not so good as
S. BIRCHARD. R. B. HAYES,
Wednesday, March 6.-- Sunday evening [I spent] at Mrs.
Williams', visiting the Columbus girls. Monday afternoon,
likewise. Tuesday afternoon (5th) rode on to Mount Auburn
and to Spring Grove Cemetery. Evening in the rain to hear Mr.
Galloway lecture. Echo bad, speaking good. Shall devote this
week to the Columbus ladies. Fanny and William visited me
Thursday the 28th [of] February. Left Friday. How delight-
ful to be practically so near one's best friends! Six or eight
hours quite enough to find them in.
March 11. --Still tramping out to Sixth Street to see my
Columbus friends (?) . . . [To-day], called on them; had
a good chat (A. M.) with and agreed to give up letters,
but nothing to dampen or discourage in all this.
My busiest week during the time of my stay in Cincinnati-- I
BEGINS PRACTICE IN CINCINNATI, 1850 289
mean real business in addition to the business of "sparking." I
have had ten new claims in Commercial Court, one title to ex-
amine and make out papers, etc.
March 15.-- Night before last called with Mr. Drake on "the
girls" (credit Miss Sallie with that quotation); chatty until 9
o'clock. Then go to Colonel Bond's. Mr. Drake devoted to
Miss Lucy and I to Miss Ellen until 12. Colonel Bond read
the eloquent portions of Mr. Webster's speech on secession.
Well read. . . . Yesterday, sleepy and snoozy but no re-
freshing rest. P. M., walk with "cousin Ed," as sweet lips
sweetly call him, and evening spent at a little sociable at Mrs.
W --'s. War among the women (mem.: like them-- I mean
many of them). Mrs. W-- imagines that her sons--one,
sensible and agreeable, the other "a weak sister"--have been
neglected, and asks the girls, "Don't you think my sons respect-
able?" The discreet and unsuspecting Miss Sallie seems to fancy
that she owns "the girls" and that she alone is responsible for
and capable of promoting their happiness; intimates that but
for the assiduous attentions of Collins and myself, more agree-
able beaux would have attended to the sight-seeing with the
ladies. Ask pardon "girls"! As the old one crows the young
one "peeps." Her mother happened to be sitting at a table
reading. I at the other side of the room sat conversing with
some one in such a position that my back was towards Mrs. W--.
She construed this into intentional and inexcusable disrespect!
Human nature is mysterious enough, but woman nature is its
March 17. --As Byron says, "it is awful work this love and
prevents all a man's projects of good and glory." I have not
dared put on paper, even in my sacred diary, much of my love.
I have been afraid of profane eyes, and, with shame be it said,
that one day I might myself blush to see it; not the love, but
the repulse. Success, success even in affairs of the heart, is the
thing which crowns and ennobles. For almost two years I have
been in love with------. She has been at times "coy and hard
to please" and again yielding and kind, smiling sweetly upon my
protestations of affection. Woman nature is, indeed, "a mystery
290 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
past all finding out." I now fear she is thinking of another.
She asks for her letters but wishes to keep mine! To take from
my hands all proofs of her former feelings and to keep the evi-
dence which is good against me. To free herself and to keep me
in chains. As long as there is a hope, my love is so blindly strong
I must cling to it, though my pride prompts decision. When a
straw indicating a favorable "air from heaven" is seen, I am
happy as the angels; could strive and labor and learn, be good,
and, if in me there lies such power, great. When she frowns, the
world is drear and desolate; "man delights not me nor woman
neither." It is as "a blast from hell." I am more infirm of
purpose than a child, weaker than an infant. Shall I say to
her "now or never"? This suspense must have an end! If I
am wrecked and hurried o'er the shoals of disappointment, I
have elasticity and firmness and pride enough to quickly stand
erect and free. But then it may lose what patience and time
and suspense and suffering may win. What glory, hope, hap-
piness in the thought! I'll talk again with her--probe her yet
again. This giving up the letters severs a few more of the frail
strands which seem to hold us together; but that must be and
shall be --this night, if possible. She loves and don't love. She
has a weak longing for a dark eye and tawny brow. Hence her
insane penchant formerly for L-, whom no man, not to say
woman, else could see but with loathing and disgust. Hence
her endurance of D --, who is scarcely less disgustful to intel-
ligence and sensibility. Hence here is the ache! the alas!--her
apparent preference for who though gut genug is not the
man to fascinate by any other personal advantages. Foolish-
ness! Shall I tear the page? No, let it stay a little while.
April 12, 1850.-- The last three or four weeks have been
spent journeying to my old homes, Columbus and Fremont
Wednesday morning, March 20, left here at 6:30 A. M. in com-
pany with-----in the cars for Columbus. Met Mrs. E -- as
fellow passenger in the cars. How wise she tried to look!
Think of her asking my mother if I were engaged or not to----- !
A pleasant ride; talky and agreeable company. Poetry repeated
in which occurs the line, "There's beauty all around our paths."
BEGINS PRACTICE IN CINCINNATI, 1850 291
Query: Did she mean to pump? If so, a failure. Or was it
to tell me that she knew where a certain New Year's gift came
from? If the latter, O. K.--Afternoon spent at home with
April 17. -- Mother seemed more happy than usual. What a
happiness it is for her to have such a child as Laura [Platt, her
granddaughter,] to educate and train! She spoke of the gossip
concerning myself and a certain fair one in a sensible way that
pleased me very much. In the evening [of March 20] saw
"Brother John," Dr. Little. I do love him and Mrs. Solis. I am
getting to have a genuine regard for all coquettes from seeing
her. She was an exquisitely captivating one in her day, and now
what a patient, loving, and devoted wife. Her affection for a
man not overwinning or lovable (in my judgment) is in truth
beautiful to look upon and contemplate.
[The next morning], Thursday, [March] 21, early visit
Doctors Case and Little. After that, Miss Lizzie Baldwin, a
cheery, charming girl -- growing pass'ee, but as young and hard
to please as ever she was in the day of her most triumphant
coquetry. P. M. Met Mrs. --- on my way. She tells where to
find Miss ---. Spend the whole afternoon; give up my letters.
She reads from her "what-ye-may-call-it" the closing paragraphs
of my letter from Delaware in reply to hers requesting a discon-
tinuance of our correspondence; gives me the fanciful names of
her "friends," as she strangely enough terms her lovers; among
others "Rudolph Hastings," whom I take to be my humble self.
Then reproached herself with folly for letting me know she kept
such an article. After tea walked over to her sister's, spent a
half-hour and returned chatting lovingly (on my part) another
half-hour in the night air on the pleasant west balcony. 'Tis
plain to see and feel that she has grown coquettish, amazingly,
since I first began to love her. Had she then been such as now,
with all her "fascinating and admiring qualities," "however
talented and agreeable," I should probably never have "affected"
her much; but now I am
"Stepped in so far, that, should I wade no more,
Returning were as tedious as go o'er."
292 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
I feel now that this "affair of the heart" is degenerating into a
mere flirtation on both sides. How strange that I can feel so,
looking back. Less than a month ago I wrote in a very different
vein. Since that, seeing more of her and reflection on what I
had before seen, has led me to a feeling midway between love
and entire indifference. I still think her at heart estimable,
capable of deep and strong and lasting emotions. Of her intel-
lectual endowments there can be no difference of opinion. I
believe she will be a most faithful, affectionate, and angelic wife
to the man she loves. But my trip to Columbus with her, the
previous intercourse, and the observations then made have cured
me, at least for the time, thoroughly of everything like a weak
attachment for her. I am now regarded by many as the lucky
one. Better so than the opposite. And as long as she cares to
keep it going, I shall be happy to contribute my share to the evi-
dence which brings the gossips to that conclusion. I shall, as
opportunity offers, visit her, flirt with her, and talk love to her as
long as it is as agreeable, as it now appears to be, to her and to
myself. If I wish a wife before a change comes o'er the spirit
of her dream or of mine, I'll think naturally first of her. Other-
wise, otherwise. More content am I now with my own views,
feelings, and designs in this affair than at any time since the de-
[On] March 18, [I] saw Murdoch in the play "Lady of
Lyons" with------. She thought Pauline was too near yielding
at the last moment to relieve her father. She admires
"Shirley," and is not offended at being "likened unto" her. She,
as an excuse for encouraging my disposition to flirt with her, says
she needs a "counterirritant" to prevent gossip from settling
down upon another, and perhaps (?) to her less agreeable, quar-
ter. She detests coquettes, abuses them, and tries to fancy her-
self not one! Oh women, women, Byron knew ye after all.
Thursday evening, March 21, [I spent] at home, talking with
the family. Morrison Gregory, about to start for California,
made some sport, etc., etc. Mother alone sat up and talked
kindly and cheerfully until midnight,--when into the omnibus
over to the cars, and off to Xenia. Friday evening reach Tif-
fin and . . . Saturday, March 23 . . . [by} stage to Mr.
BEGINS PRACTICE IN CINCINNATI, 1850 293
Valette's near Fremont. Uncle and all well. Weather cold
as the frigid zone.
[Hayes remained at Fremont for ten days or so, renewing
old acquaintances there and in neighboring towns. April 5, he
went by rail from Tiffin to Springfield. From there, the next
day, by stage to Dayton whence he travelled by packet to Saint
Marys. After two days there and at Celina he took packet again
and in twenty-four hours reached Cincinnati, April 1O.]
CINCINNATI, April 18, 1850.
DEAR UNCLE:--I have just learned of the loss of the Bos-
well suit. I do not write by way of condolence; that would be
out of place with you, besides, I hate it as much as you can;
perhaps a good deal more; but I thought you might like to hear
my first impressions about the matter.
1. I understand the decision to be flatly in the teeth of our
state decision. I hope it is so, for in that case, tracts 7 and 9
are in the same boat, and the state court will ultimately be
forced either to back out or stand up in opposition to the United
States court. There will be no chance of holding one way as
to tract 7 and another as [to] tract 9.
2. I suppose the case will be remanded to the July term of
the Circuit Court. The case of tract 9 will then also be de-
cided and writs put into the hands of the marshall to turn you
all out. At that time, we must be ready to take the benefit of
the new occupying claimant law which is strongly in favor of
the defendants. There will probably be a struggle against this.
That's one fight ahead.
3. Then, going on the presumption that our state court will
stand firm, how to fight them and when to begin, is the ques-
tion. I don't give it up, and of course, you will not have any
thoughts of doing so. One thing, you have the control, I be-
lieve, of some lots in tract 9. Now, it may be worth while to get
a suit on one of them into the state court before any suit is
begun as to lots in tract 7. So that precisely the same title may
294 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
again come before the court which they have already ad-
Another thing. The sooner Boswell transfers his title to per-
sons residing in Ohio, the better; for if you beat a citizen in
the state court, he can not turn round and sue you in the federal
You will not need another attorney in conducting the future
proceedings. I can attend to it as well residing here as if I
were in Fremont--on some accounts, better. We have from
now until July to deliberate as to what is best. Before that
time I mean to master the whole subject.--Sincerely,
R. B. HAYES.
The rascals will soon get tired of it and want to compromise.
Ewing is always pinched for money, and you know how it is
with the others.
Friday, April 26. -- Governor Ford's Fast Day. Out of date
in this age, it seems to me. Yesterday saw an article in the
Republic charging Byron with having stolen his beautiful song
in the first canto of "Childe Harold" from Wolfgang, an ob-
scure German poet of 1797.
"Adieu, adieu, my native shore
Fades o'er the waters blue,"
and so forth, is an exact translation of the pretended extract
from the German. I suspected it was a hoax, and am now told
at the German Republican office that no such thing could well be.
"Speaking of "whales," how queer the coincidence! I had
just finished my very cool moralizing on my "affaire de coeur"
(bad French) when on calling at the postoffice, my blood was
sent leaping hotly through my veins by seeing her well known
superscription on the back of a letter mailed April 15, Colum-
bus. It proved to be simply a little tie of oak geranium and
white violet, signifying, I am told, "faithfulness and friend-
ship." The joyous play of the pulse which ensued showed but
BEGINS PRACTICE IN CINCINNATI, 1850 295
too plainly how thin is the coating of philosophy which covers
my attachment. [On the] 17th, wrote her "a thankee," with
a rather saucy letter mailed under cover to Dr. J. on the 18th.
Hardly expected a reply. Saw Miss Harriet yesterday. She
had received a letter from and said I was remembered;
probably since my writing--not "sartain."
It is time I was again at my studies. "Promissory Notes" in the
forenoon, Uncle's case P. M., Burke and German any time.
April 28. -- Last evening had a delightful meeting of the Lit-
erary Club. Several new members, viz. Dixon, Skinner, and
Pierce. In the course of the conversation on American prose
writers it was said that Prescott was nine years writing his
"Ferdinand and Isabella." Longfellow saw it at the end of the
first year, complete as far as the plan and scope of the work
went, but crude and imperfect in style, arrangement, and detail.
If published then it would have proved a failure and Mr. Pres-
cott would probably have attempted no other work. But he
was a man of wealth, could wait, and continued to write and
rewrite it until at the end of nine years from its commencement
it was published as we now see it-perfect and admirable.
May 4, 1850. -- Burnet House opened last night with a grand
soir'ee-- a ten-dollar affair. Did not attend. Thought I could
buy more gratification with my eagle in some other way. Herron,
my office chum, left for Chillicothe by way of Columbus this
morning to be gone a fortnight or so, visiting, sparking, and en-
joying his-self. I spent last evening with that charming, sweet
girl Miss L- [Lucy Webb]. Must keep a guard on my sus-
ceptibles or I shall be in beyond my depth.
Must map out my plan of study and exercise, diversion and
business, for the coming summer as soon as the office is thor-
oughly purified from the accumulation of dust and filth of the
My favorite lady acquaintances in the city viz, "the Sixth
Street girls," Miss C--, Miss L--, and the Misses Jones,
are gone or going, so I shall be left quite out of employment
"occupation gone" -- in that "ilk" of duties.
296 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
Sunday, May 5.--With Miss Lib S- from Covington to
the Wesleyan Female College, and with Miss Lucy thence to
Christ Church. See Will Howard. Dine with both the ladies
at Mrs. White's in Covington. Return with same P. M. and Mr.
Cameron (a banker of Covington) and lady and Miss Mary
Clemens to the Cathedral and so back to Covington. Evening
with Miss Harriet C- to Christ Church. A great day among
the women, all in all, for one in love and not "a lady's man."
Monday, [May] 6. -- Supreme Court call over their docket.
Trial of Jones for the murder of a police officer. Jesse Jones,
though a desperate character, is a good-looking, intelligent young
man. Nothing in his appearance or demeanor proclaims [the]
ruffian or murderer.
P. M. According to promise, with Miss C- to see the
Adoring Angel and Hope, two fine statues intended to ornament
the Cathedral. Introduce Howard to her (Miss C-), not the
marble, but the flesh and blood angel. After the departure of
Miss C-, and Miss S-, I am without anything do draw my
thoughts from the law. So, "wiggle waggle."
Saturday, May 11. -- This week I have been in the court-house
a good deal. In the Supreme Court two murder cases have been
tried. Jesse Jones, for killing a policeman (Brasham), and
James Summons, for poisoning a whole family -- his own
father's ! --during the cholera season. Judge Walker con-
ducted the prosecution. I could not but admire the manner
in which his ability is adorned by his constant courtesy. In
this respect I have nowhere seen his superior. This is a quality
to be imitated and cultivated.
There is much discussion in the political circles as to Mr.
Webster's recent movements on the slavery questions. I am one
of those who admire his genius but have little confidence in his
integrity. I regret that he has taken a course so contrary to that
which he has hitherto pursued on this subject. I saw the fol-
lowing lines by Whittier in the New Era which can only refer to
the godlike Daniel. [Here "Ichabod" is quoted.]
BEGINS PRACTICE IN CINCINNATI, 1850 297
CINCINNATI, May 13, 1850.
DEAR UNCLE: -- I send you by this mail a copy of Judge Mc-
Lean's decision of your case. It does not go so far as I supposed
from reading the note of the case in the newspapers. It only
decides the case of tract 7, and evades a decision of the point
which applies also to tract 9. He does not overrule the Ohio de-
cision but dodges it. It is not to be disguised that this course is
worse for you in your future litigation than if his decision had
covered all the points. He may now decide the case of tract 9
when it comes before him in July in the same way that the state
court did, and if he does, the state court will be far more likely
to follow him in the cases which you will hereafter bring before
them as to tract 7. There is nothing in the decision which ap-
plies to tract 9, and if that case is attended to, it may yet be won
even before Judge McLean. It would be better, as I have said
before, for you to have them all in "the same boat." It now
becomes more important than ever to you that Myers' New Occu-
pant Law, abominable as it is, should be sustained. I have writ-
ten to Judge Myers at Toledo on the subject-- as to where he got
it -- whether borrowed from another State, etc., and shall
probably hear from him on the subject soon. Watson says it is
unconstitutionaal beyond doubt. I have not yet satisfied myself,
but fear it will be so held.
Watson was here a few days ago on his return from a visit
to Boswell. I saw him by a mere accident. I think he was not
anxious to see me. He says you are reported to have been a good
deal excited when you learned the result, and talked about rais-
ing a little army and making resistance! etc., etc. He evidently
considers the decision to be in their favor on all the points, cov-
ering both tracts, and not on one point only, applicable solely to
tract 7. "Boswell," said he, "asked me the value of the property.
I told him I couldn't tell. It would be in litigation for ten years,
see-sawing between the state and federal courts, and no man in
Ohio would dare to buy it." Judge Tilden thinks the decision
wrong, but fears that Myers' law will not stand. However, I
shall study that out very soon. The owners of lots in [tract] 9
ought to have their attorneys engaged to attend to it. Neither
Buckland nor I are bound to do anything more.
298 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
Jesse Stem will be home in the course of this week. He will
visit you if the weather is good very soon. If you want to talk
over McLean's decision with anybody, Dr. Rawson is your man.
He will see through the whole difficulty as well as Judge Lane or
No news. I will write you again in a week or two. Booby
Johnson will be a good candidate. He is great on the stump and
among the people. If the Locos in the Convention go the radical
doctrines, Johnson will give Judge Wood a closer race than many
now imagine . . .
R. B. HAYES.
Monday, May 20.-- Last Friday morning Colonel Noble came
into my office and said there was a stranger on the pavement be-
low who wished to see me. Going down, I was agreeably sur-
prised to find Mother there. Called with her at various places,
etc., etc. On Saturday 18th, went with Garrard over to the
Queen City race-course to see the foot-race between a white man
Jackson (the American deer) and four Indians -- Canada, Cof-
fee, Armstrong, etc. My sympathies were all with the redmen.
Glory and success in such efforts seem appropriately and of right
to belong to them. They are not white men's gifts. Canada was
the favorite of the field at first. He ran light, leaping like a
deer. He had beaten Jackson before, but he was taken with a
cramp at the sixth mile and "let down." Coffee pushed the
white man until the ninth mile when he gradually fell behind,
losing the race by a minute. Time, ten miles, Jackson: 56
minutes and a few seconds. The training and dogged perse-
verance of the white man were more than a match for the greater
natural gifts of the red. Jackson is a small man, five feet six
inches high, weighing only one hundred seven pounds, but he is all
bone and muscle. His lungs are large --a full chest, muscular
neck and arms, and thin legs. I lost a dime on the race to Col-
Sunday [yesterday], heard Dr. Murray's first discourse with
BEGINS PRACTICE IN CINCINNATI, 1850 299
Mother. P. M. Heard Dr. Leland of South Carolina, the Mod-
erator of the Old School Presbyterian Convention [Assembly].
[This] evening with mother to hear Ralph W. Emerson's first
lecture. It was quaint and queer in expression, but suggestive
and pithy; rather a series of disjointed thoughts on the same
subject than a methodical, sustained chain of reasoning and dis-
course. His subject was "Natural Aristocracy," the aristocracy
founded on the ability to do something useful or admirable bet-
ter than anybody else. To speak well--the magnetism and
readiness which is eloquence; to fight well, or true courage; to
write well (here he named as those who would bring tears and
smiles in all ages, Shakespeare, Cervantes, Burns, Scott, and
now perhaps, Dickens); and, above all, the mark of gentleman
confers the distinction which admits its wearer into the natural
aristocracy, etc., etc.
Since or while writing the above, Judge Reed is hunting
through my Milton for some quotations for his speech in defense
of the poisoner Summons. Mem.: -- That's the way it's done.
"Whoever is a genuine follower of truth, keeps his eye steady
upon his guide, indifferent whither he is led, provided that she
is the leader."--"Natural Society," Burke.
The evils of "party spirit," "artificial law," "the law's delay,"
"the law's uncertainty," the anxieties which cluster about power,
the unsatisfying nature of pleasure, the unequal distribution of
the good things of earth between the industrious poor and the
idle rich, are topics all well handled in the capital burlesque or
"argumentum ad absurdurm" of Burke.
CINCINNATI, May 22, 1850.
DEAR UNCLE:--Mother came down here Thursday evening
last. She has remained at the Pearl Street House. Mr. Moody
and wife, Mr. Pennington and Walker with their families from
Tiffin are there also. So she has had company enough. She
appears to enjoy her visit very much. We were over to Ken-
tucky this morning calling on Mrs. White (Ann Williams for-
merly), to hear Mr. Emerson lecture last evening, and to divers
meetings. The Presbyterian Assembly for the United States is in
300 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
session here, and meetings and ministers are plenty as black-
berries. A good time for Mother to visit.
As I said in my former letter, Judge McLean's decision is less
favorable than I had supposed, but there is good ground for hope
yet. I believe he will decide tract 9 the same way. If he does,
we are just where we thought this decision placed us. If, how-
ever, he makes a distinction, there is still a chance to contest the
matter in the state court; for a careful examination of the Ohio
decision will satisfy any one that its principle covers both cases,
and that the court so intended it.
If, as Judge McLean says, the court of Ohio only decided the
proceedings valid as to the property actually in dispute, as merely
valid in rem, then Hawkins' decree could convey a good title
to only one-fourth of B. B. & W.'s interest in tract 9--not to
the whole of it, as our state court held. The decree is just as
valid to convey a title to tract 7, or any other property of the
defendant's, as it is to carry a good title to the extra three-
fourths of tract 9, which Hawkins did not pretend to have a
claim upon. This position is certainly sound, and unless our
state court is willing to swallow its former decision, there is still
a fair chance to keep up the conflict between the two jurisdic-
As to the Occupant Law, I find nothing which goes to show
that it is unconstitutional. I am sure it will stand. I only fear
that Judge McLean, and after him the Supreme Court, will hold
that you cannot take advantage of it because your litigation was
begun before the law was passed, and I don't see how that can
be done. I see no reason for it. What reason do Dr. Rawson
and Mr. Otis give for thinking the law will not control future
proceedings in the case? I can think of none.
Jesse Stem went home a few days ago. He heard me read
from one of the Indiana Reports what, I have no doubt, is the
law as to occupying claimants, and thinks from that as I do,
that the law is constitutional. He will see you soon after his
return if his health is good, as he means to ride about a good deal.
Remember me to Mr. Lincoln. I should like to see him here.
I could show him some of the prettiest girls above ground. Is
not that inducement enough to bring him here? Tell Pease that
BEGINS PRACTICE IN CINCINNATI, 1850 301
one of the Hungarian refugees who was here could beat Dr.
Schmidt and the best chess players here, and throw off a castle.
It satisfied me that I never had seen any one who knew the
alphabet of the game before
S. BIRCHARD. RUD.
Thursday, May 23.--Last night with Miss Emma Ruth to
hear Emerson's lecture on "Eloquence." Mr. Emerson is cer-
tainly a very entertaining lecturer; whether very instructive or
profound is another question. It strikes me that he shows him-
self a keen, close observer rather than a profound thinker.
Logic and method, he has none; but his bead-string of sug-
gestions, fancies, ideas, anecdotes, and illustrations, delivered in
a subdued, earnest manner, is as effective in chaining the attention
of his audience as the most systematic discourse could be. He has
great faith in the notion that men are what they are born; great
faith in the mysterious magnetism by which one man controls
another or others. He said when you meet a man of the same
tastes with yourself, but in greater strength, he will not only
rule you, but make you love your ruler. He regards the fanati-
cisms and occasional excitements of the day as the best teachers
of eloquence to those who are moved by them. The great ele-
ment of good speaking in a lawyer is statement, arrangement; if
to this he can add an agreeable manner, can, like Dickens, touch
the hidden cords which bind the emotions, he is perfect in his
vocation of advocate. A few phrases contain the pith of the
whole matter in most causes, and the correct and skilful hand-
ling of these will always command the verdict of the jury.
Burke is quite as remarkable for his use of epithets, often
low and vulgar but always significant, as for his gorgeousness of
diction. Witness the following: -- "Your ministerial directors
blustered like tragic tyrants here; and then went mumping with a
sore leg in America, canting and whining and complaining of
Friday, [May] 24. --Called on Ralph Waldo Emerson at the
Burnet House, in company with Collins and Spofford, as a com-
302 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
mittee to invite Mr. Emerson to meet the Literary Club on some
evening convenient to himself for the purpose of a free confab
on literary men and matters. Mr. Emerson is above the middle
height, a tolerable figure, but rather awkward; dresses in the
plainly genteel style--black surtout and pants, black satin vest
and cravat, common shoes. His head is not large, forehead low
and narrow, hair cut short--a brown color, eyes grayish blue,
a rather large nose with deep lines from the nostrils on either
side arching around the mouth, but not so as to give an un-
pleasant expression. Is agreeable in his manners and first ad-
dress. Talks, as he speaks, freely, and in a somewhat quaint way.
He spoke of the clubs of London. Said he, "The clubs are
London. One does not know London until he knows the clubs."
He was introduced to the Athenaeum as an honorary member.
"Only thirteen strangers can be introduced at the same time--
one from a nation. There are some twelve hundred members.
And to a bachelor his club is his all. It introduces him to an
agreeable society of the first men in London, to a good library
and reading-room -- the best selected library in London, to good
eating at cost prices. Entrance fee one hundred dollars and
thirty dollars per year. The bachelor's letters are sent to the
club hall, a noble building. He meets his friends here, invites
others to dine with him, gets the latest news, etc., etc. His club
"The Geological Club has a paper read before it once a fort-
night which is followed by speeches, etc., from Buckland, Lyell,
etc. The Reform Club is the finest club in London. Has the
grandest building in which to meet.
"English gentlemen affect a slowness and hesitancy of speech.
It is like the country--like a man just from his estate. To
speak fluently is too like an attorney, which is thought low.
"Macaulay was not a successful debater. His best efforts
were on the Reform Bill. He did not come into the debate until
near its close. After he had spoken, all the speeches on the
other side were in reply to him. Macaulay is the growth of
the present state of society in England. He is a cockney. All
the English are cockneys. He affects an elegance and youth-
fulness of style in his dress which is unfitting in a man who has
BEGINS PRACTICE IN CINCINNATI, 1850 303
gray hairs. I have an old grudge against him because of his
abuse of Bacon. He has abused all of England's noblest names.
His 'History' is a libel on the English character. No man is
found who escapes him. Sidney and Hampden are not spared.
His 'History' has the merit of proceding upon the principle that
the history of a nation is not the history of its officers but its
people--not an original notion with him, although Jeffrey very
ungenerously gives him credit for it. Jeffrey knew that Carlyle
had stated it long ago.
"I met Prince Albert in one of the clubs. Buckland was ex-
plaining to him some mechanism. He is a fine-looking man. I
have said I never saw a good-looking German, but he is one."
Such are a few points he spoke of in a half-hour's chat. He
has the common fault of his sect--the Transcendalists--of
thinking that the hearty, earnest, sincere benevolence in the
world is centred in themselves; that all others are so bigoted
as not to see the truth, or are too timid boldly to avow it; or, as
Mr. Emerson said, "have too little pluck to avow it." He spoke
of Henry Ward Beecher as one of the bold, hopeful reformers.
Bushnell he wished well, because he thinks well and hopes well
His lecture this evening was on "The Spirit of the Age."
There are three, or have been, three sorts of civilization: 1. The
Greek, or the age of the senses, when the senses were perfect.
2. The religious, Christian age, the ideal age -- everything
founded on religion. 3. This age, distinguished as an examin-
ing, analytical, arithmetical, critical age; an age which is turn-
ing the elements of nature into tools, which is looking to the
individual man --each into his own nature for the something.
The King of Sicily when recommended to adopt a new uniform
for his soldiers, said, "It matters not what uniforms they have,
they will surely run away."
Chris Anderson says Agassiz has discovered and proved that
Adam was not the father of the whole race but only of the Jews;
that he is glad of it, for he never liked the idea of having a
henpecked husband for his ancestor.
Sunday, [May] 26. -- This evening our Literary Club met and
received a visit from Mr. Ralph Waldo Emerson. He, after
304 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
being introduced to each member, sat down and began a free and
easy conversation on literary men and things in England. Talked
two and a half hours on all matters from letters to raising corn
and pigs. A very pleasant man. A few items I give:--
"There are in London, it is estimated, seventy thousand per-
sons who are considered 'good society'; and those who compose
it find such a variety of persons, ideas, facts, important and
trifling, always interesting in this great multitude, that the rest
of the world is scarcely thought of. America is like Turkey
or Hungary, interesting and talked of only when some particular
circumstance makes it an object of notice. These people are,
therefore, quite uninformed as to all the rest of the world--
that is, their local peculiarities, politics, and geography which are
usually known to travelled people. I spoke to Carlyle -- think-
ing he would have none of this narrow cockneyism about him--
of the future of the English race, and said that America was to
be the seat of the English. With a continent, a quarter of the
world at their command, to be peopled and improved by them,
in America would be their history. Carlyle was restive, vexed,
uneasy, couldn't think of it. They see so much wealth, power,
energy, and talent; they see the whole world passing in and out
of their gates, that they cannot realize or imagine the possibility
that there is any outside nation or people who shall ever be their
"In America there have been no creative, constructive, imagin-
ative men. They do not come much oftener than once in two
hundred years, and perhaps it is not our time yet to have one.
Wordsworth, Scott, and Shakespeare are creative men.
"Every author's writings are the transcript of his own life,
emotions, etc., --it is autobiography thinly veiled. George Sand,
the best living French novelist, has written nothing but her own
confessions, veiled under the names and characters of her
romances. The Mme. ----- is herself. Shakespeare had all
emotions and passions-- portrayed all in his dramas.
"lt is said of D'Israeli that he is like all his tribe-- a gatherer
of rags, a vendor of old clothes. Sharp saying and quite true.
He is a great fop.
"I never knew what people meant by 'Transcendental.' If it
BEGINS PRACTICE IN CINCINNATI, 1850 305
means those who believe with Plato in man's immortality, they
should be called Platonists. But that does not describe the class
to whom the term is applied --Coleridge and others. They are
men who believe in themselves, in their own convictions, and rely
upon them; these are the true men. I have some hope of such;
they hope for themselves, they believe there is something more
than this narrow scene in which we are to act. Men who are
self-trusting, self-relying, earnest, are called by the name Tran-
Mr. Emerson seemed quite puzzled, not to say vexed, when
speaking of this subject. It was forced upon him by questions
"Macaulay is a man whose wares are all marketable. He is
popular, simple, splendid in style. He has a prodigious memory,
but to what end? What good does he do?"
[Mr.] Stevenson asked, "What good has Carlyle done?"
"Why, Carlyle [replied Emerson] has done the good which
any man does who makes people think. He makes them feel
their immortality; a man can't think without feeling that.
"Children ought to have their imaginations cultivated. It
must be done while they are young. Some things must be im-
pressed on the mind when it is susceptible and tender, or they
never can be. If children want to hear a story, tell it to them
if you can, or get somebody that can do it if you cannot. Give
them the 'Arabian Nights,' attractive books; fill their minds with
glorious thoughts. Let them early learn what they are, spiritual
and immortal; and they must be when men such as they ought
Monday, [May] 27. --This evening Mr. Emerson lectured on
England. He gave England and Englishmen the high place in
the world's history. She [England] has the best working
climate, not too hot or cold; the best race of people -- the mettle
of the Danes, Norwegians, and Swedes, the Saxons, and Britons,
a good cross; the Normans, an improvement, men of physical
health and strength. There never was a duel at Oxford or
Cambridge with their thousands of students. He thinks Alfred,
the man of sense, learning, bravery, temper, skill, industry, laws,
etc., the type of the race; or Cromwell. Bishop or Chancellor
306 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
Wykeham founded in Winchester the school and college for
seventy persons each, which for seven centuries has existed, with
its motto, "Manners make the man." But the fault of England,
if she has one, is, her success is material. She has no mysticism,
no faith, no soaring. The Americans have more versatility,
adaptedness; they are the people of the future. England is
"mortgaged" to the past. But what a fate is hers! Like the
upas tree she has struck her roots, by her colonies, in India,
Australia, and America, into the four quarters of the globe,
establishing her laws, extending her language and her race wide
as the waters and the earth.
"Macaulay wrote a letter to his constituents dated 'Windsor
Castle.' He happened to be there once a half-hour and took that
opportunity to write the letter, or rather to date it, for he
carried it with him ready written. It has been thrown up to
him ever since. It was such a faux pas. A man like Macaulay,
too, with such a sense of the proper!" -- Emerson, in conver-
Tuesday, [May] 27 [28.] -- Mr. Emerson's lecture this evening
was on "Books." After speaking of the "uncounted multitudes
of books" in the great libraries of Europe he gave these rules
1. Read no book not a year old.
2. No book but a (I think) thin one.
3. No book but those you like --as Shakespeare says, "af-
"The better works are all translated and translatable, and I
would as soon swim a river when I could cross it in a ferryboat
or on a bridge, as blunder through a book in the original when
I could read it in a good translation."
There are five books of Greece which ought to be read. 1.
Homer, in the old translation. 2. Herodotus, with his good
stories. 3. AEschylus, "Prometheus," etc. 4. Plato, "the
book of books," and [5.] Plutarch--"Lives" and "Morals."
Also the "Banquets" -- Plato's, Xenophon's and Plutarch's (I
think); an easy history, Goldsmith's or Gillies', of Greece.
BEGINS PRACTICE IN CINCINNATI, 1850 307
The successors or followers of Plato six or seven hundred
years afterwards. Gibbon, easy, flowing, glorious, but not pro-
found, will bring you down to the fall of Constantinople. The
middle ages by Hallam. Dante.
Read autobiography, lives of great men, letters, etc. Charles
V and his contemporaries, Luther, Columbus, and so on down
to the Elizabethan age.
Cultivate the imagination --read Shakespeare, Milton, Bacon,
all but his apothegms. Read good novels.
The book containing the religion of every people, Bible, Koran,
and Confucius -- all named in "a lump"!-- to be read on bended
knee with throbbing heart.
Montaigne, Rousseau's "Confessions," Rabelais, "The Cid,"
Sharon Turner's "Anglo-Saxons," Goethe, Wordsworth, De
Quincey, etc., etc.
Let a club parcel out books to individuals who shall [each]
read and report honestly his impressions, and then each one can
judge of the fitness of the book to his own wants.
CINCINNATI, May 29, 1850.
DEAR UNCLE: -- Sebring handed me your letter containing
fifty dollars this morning for which many thanks.
If I understand it rightly, the question as to applying the new
Occupying Claimant Law to your case will be decided at the
July term, and if it is decided against you, I suppose there is no
doubt but you can appeal to the Supreme Court of the United
States. Under the new law, no jury need be sent out if the
parties can agree, and if they don't agree, the party who loses his
point in the disagreement as to values, must pay the cost of the
jury, which will be quite an item in this case.
As to warranties, you must pay the amount paid to you and
interest. You are entitled to nothing for the use of the lot. It
was not your lot but Boswell's (as the court has decided), and
if any one is entitled to rent, it is Boswell, though the new Oc-
cupant Law cuts that off too, as far as Boswell is concerned.
Herron put the question as to the validity of the new
308 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
law to Thurman and Judge Whitman at Chillicothe. The first
was doubtful, but the judge said it was constitutional beyond a
S. BIRCHARD. [R. B. HAYES.]
May 31.-Today Cousin Mary Birchard, Miss Knight, and
[Miss] Walker, Vermont girls who have been teaching in Mis-
sissippi, reached here.
Tonight heard the second of Mr. Emerson's methaphysical
lectures on the identity of "Intellect and Nature." He spoke
of the analogy between mental processes, etc., and those of
vegetables. How thoughts grow and ripen, how [they are] im-
proved, enlarged, beautified, etc., by cultivation, manuring, etc.
Also the analogy of animal growth, etc. Minds improved by
crossing--the memory answering to the belly, digesting, etc.
How the great world is an animal assimilating all things to it-
self--bellowing in its caves, breathing in its ocean, prespiring,
etc. He soon wandered from his subject, and after speaking
of the similarity between men and beasts, hardly returned to it.
"The whole history of man is a series of conspiracies to win
from nature some advantage without paying for it." E. g.:
If a man could master the stores in the minds of great men
around him--the facts and figures of the historian and statis-
tician, the science of the chemist, etc.--what a prodigious ad-
vantage could be gained! Magnetism attempted this-to let
a man steal into the brain of the sleepy subject and rob him of
his wealth; to make the plunderer rich, indeed, and not make
the robbed the poorer."
Judge Walker mentioned in his speech in the Summons case
as the most affecting incident in literary history the killing of
Charles Lamb's mother by his sister. Its concealment from her
and from the world; the breaking off of his engagement with a
beautiful woman to devote his life to his sister, etc.
Monday, June 3, 1850. -- Yesterday or day before Mr. Orms-
bee told me a story of friend Pease's early life which I never
heard before. Pease was an agent of Fessenden of Brattleboro
BEGINS PRACTICE IN CINCINNATI, 1850 309
to obtain subscriptions for a Bible, or Bible Commentary, he was
about to publish. Pease called on a Dr. Campbell of Putney,
Vermont, to solicit a subscription. Dr. Campbell was an expert
card-player, and finding Pease not averse to a game they were
soon "a-shuffling." They finally began to bet. Pease put up
Bibles against the doctor's "Mexicans"; before morning Dr.
Campbell had "chiseled" Pease out of twelve Bibles at twelve
dollars each. Pease with a poor face told the doctor to put his
name down which was done with alacrity. Now Pease "had"
him. The collecting agent of Fessenden knew nothing of the
matter, would believe nothing of it, and the doctor was compelled
to pay the hundred and forty-four dollars for Bibles he did not
want. A just punishment for seducing a mere boy into gaming.
CINCINNATI, OHIO, June 6, 1850.
DEAR Guy: -- Yours of the 10th, mailed the 18th, ult., I
received this morning and shall begin a reply now as I hope to
see this afternoon some gentlemen who can tell me something
about the characters who are supposed to be connected with the
bank at Galveston.
Of course you are the better judge as to the wisdom of divid-
ing Texas into two or more States. What I wrote as to my
wishes in view of your personal prospects was penned on the
supposition that the division was a thing likely soon to occur,
and one which would be agreeable to the people of your State.
If you deem the measure bad, you will oppose it; but if beaten,
I would still keep "my eye on the main chance."
I really can not tell, nor have I the slightest recollection of
what I said to General Harrison on the subject indicated by
you. That something was said is quite probable, for he was,
or appeared to me to be, a great gossip and talked on all matters
of personal history which could possibly come within the range
of ordinary conversation. One thing I am quite sure of, I was
not at all communicative or confidential in talking to him. My
replies on such topics must have meant as near nothing as I
could make them, for I, as well as our whole party (your sister,
310 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
Mrs. Joel Bryan will recollect this), had a most thorough dis-
like of the man. I must exempt a lively and, I thought, rather
frivolous, lady from New York who separated, I think, from
her company here and went from this city to New York with
I think you ask too much for your claims in New Mexico.
Don't haggle too much about price. Just now the North is good-
humored and liberal and you should make the best bargain you
can, but make it now the first chance. There is no telling but
gold placers will be found there, and if so you will be swamped
by an influx of Northern workers such as crowded slavery out
of California. The cry of disunion is grown to be very sense-
less and harmless. The thing is shown to be impossible. The
border States will not permit it. No man could live in political
strife [life?] anywhere along the line who would uphold the
Nashville Convention. It may be a good hobby further South
and off North but where the division line is to be run, the feel-
ing is in opposition to it.
Joe Lake's friends have not lost entire confidence in him even
since the failure of the Wooster bank. He is a shrewd operator
and was regarded as a man of integrity until within a few years.
But he has had too many irons in the fire for safety. That is
perhaps his greatest fault. What is his connection with the
Galveston bank, of course I do not know, but he is thought to
have a controlling interest in it. His son-in-law, Mr. Clem, ha
charge of the office at New Orleans, and has been considered a
good man. S. M. Williams, another chief manager, you know
all about. The charter of the bank at Galveston is regarded a
great piece. The idea which has been circulated in Ohio about
it is that real estate is the basis of circulation and no redemption
required until the final winding up. Bills will have to be re-
deemed to give the thing credit, but it is said the law or charter
does not require it. The upshot of it is, I would be careful
about embarking my good name on such a craft with such a
crew. In fair weather all will be well enough, but if trouble
Where is Henry now? You have not mentioned him in any
BEGINS PRACTICE IN CINCINNATI, 1850 311
of your letters for a long time. Give my regards to all your
family--not forgetting a kiss for little Mary.
R. B. HAYES.
GUY M. BRYAN,
June 10.--I am daily introduced to so many persons that I
am quite unable to remember the names of all whom I would
desire to recollect, although I rarely forget a face. . .
A good one on Emerson and a lady of kindred intellectual
habits is told as follows: They were witnessing one of Fanny
Elssler's dances. Miss--- [Fuller] said to Emerson: "Waldo
that, is poetry." To which Emerson replied: "Margaret, it is
CINCINNATI, June 1O, 1850.
DEAR UNCLE:--Mary Birchard arrived here from the South
a week ago last Thursday, and left yesterday for Columbus in
company with Mr. Stem. I think I may safely undertake to
relieve your mind from any great anxiety or trouble on her ac-
count. She appears decidedly well, --kind, amiable, grateful for
civility, and ladylike. I must confess to an agreeable disap-
pointment in regard to her good qualities. She came up the
river in company with two other Yankee girls--Miss Knight
of Dummerston, who is, I fear, dying of consumption, and an-
other from Wardsboro, Miss Walker. The two others went on
without stopping, and Mary remained with Mr. Ormsbee's
family, with whom she seemed very welcome and very pleasantly
situated. I did all I could, consistently, to make her stay as
happy as possible. Fanny is determined to make her like Colum-
bus and will, no doubt, succeed, as Mary does appreciate good
treatment. She is going to Circleville to make a visit and ex-
pects, I should think, to remain in Ohio several weeks. Her
father has written that he intends to come West this summer.
If he should do so, Mary will go home with him. Stem and
312 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
his wife, with Charlotte Gardiner, are going to Green Spring to
spend a good part of the summer.
Judge Johnson made his opening speech last week. He is a
capital speaker to please the masses. He has none of Tom
Corwin's fine strokes of wit and pathos, but he has a good-
humored, honest, droll way of speaking that is hardly less effec-
tive with a common audience. If it was a year of excitement, he
would be most formidable as a stumper.
I called on Mrs. Shoemaker this morning. She is boarding
over at the Henrie House. I imagine Mr. Shoemaker will find
enough to do in the vicinity of this city to fasten him here the
rest of his days. He said he would like to run your line from
Wellington to Toledo, if it is a thing you feel an interest in,
but he is overwhelmed with business here. One likes to hear a
pleasant thing from a man of sense, if it does smack of flattery;
speaking of Boalt, he said, he lacked soul; that there was more
heart in your finger nail than in Boalt's whole composition. . .
From present appearances, there is no prospect of an adjourn-
ment of the Constitutional Convention until after the Circuit
Court of the United States in July. If so, I will postpone going
to Columbus until that time. Love to friends.
R. B. HAYES.
CINCINNATI, June 12, 1850.
DEAR FANNY: -- I do not think I shall visit you until the July
term of the circuit court when I suppose Uncle will also be at
Columbus to look after his immortal lawsuit. I wish to be with
you sometime before Mary leaves for the East, and if anything
occurs to send her home before that time I hope you will give
me seasonable notice of it.
Mr. Jones came home yesterday leaving his family at New
Haven. I was gratified to hear that Aunt Emily and Mrs.
Fitch had called on Mrs. Jones. Not having received a reply
to my letter, I was fearful that Yankee civility, as too often
happens in the large towns of the East, was "nowhere." He and
BEGINS PRACTICE IN CINCINNATI, 1850 313
George will return in about a fortnight to spend the remainder
of the summer.
I more than half suspect that you manifest an interest in Mr.
Emerson, more for the purpose of affording me an excuse to
branch out on topics which have been uppermost in my circles
the last few weeks, than because of any great attractiveness you
discover in the subject. I can say, as I heard Mr. Emerson say
of Carlyle, that I have gossipped so much about him lately that
I am almost ashamed to open my lips about him. His qualifica-
tions and peculiarities as a lecturer or essayist on miscellaneous
subjects are quite a different affair --stand quite differently in
my estimation-- from his opinions (not opinions, either, but)
impressions or "inspirations" in regard to religious subjects. On
general subjects such as "the gentleman," "eloquence," "Eng-
land," etc., he is a charming, but not, in an equal degree, an
instructive lecturer. He strikes me, contrary to my preconceived
notions of him, as a close, keen observer, rather than a profound
thinker. There is no logic or method in his essays or lectures.
A syllogism he despises. The force of a connected chain of
reasoning, his mind seems incapable of appreciating. There is
no such thing as one of his thoughts following from another.
The natural result of this lack of logic is that one finds it next
to impossible to grasp and hold fast what he says. When you
leave the lecture-room, you remember that he said many witty,
sensible, pretty, and some deep things, but you feel at a loss
where to begin in attempting to recall them. The whole lecture
seems but a bead-string of suggestions, fancies, ideas, anecdotes,
and illustrations having no connection with each other except that
they are upon the same subject. They are all either quaint, para-
doxical, sensible, humorous, or have some other element which
gives them interest if not positive value. They are expressed
in a terse, singular style -- Saxon -- but not at all Carlylish, and
delivered in a subdued earnest tone which is in perfect keeping
with the style and thought.
Mr. Emerson is middle-aged, modest, but self-possessed, of a
good-humored, honest strain, which gives one a favorable im-
pression of his heart and character. He gesticulates scarcely at
314 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
all, and awkwardly. I never knew one who could hold more
undivided attention of his audience. The matter of his lectures
-the substance of them-is contained in a few leading ideas
which pervade all his productions. The filling up, the season-
ing, is, of course, new and different in different lectures, and
his lectures are remarkable for being stuffed with thoughts;
but still the great stratum which underlies and supports all he
writes and says consists of a very few notions which are repeated
and reappear over and over again a thousand times in his
various writings. Reading any one book or even lecture will
make you master of nearly all of them. They are such as the
following: That men are born with a certain portion of mag-
netism or divinity in them, which determines their rank among
their fellows. That a man should have faith in this divinity -
faith in himself; that he in fact does have this faith in propor-
tion to the amount of magnetism which belongs to him. That
all uneasiness and striving is vanity. If a man strives after what
is not in him he can never attain to it. If he appears to win it
by effort, he is after all a sham. He may deceive the world but
he doesn't deceive himself; for when in the presence of another
who has the true magnetism both know and feel where the real
power is. This is a sort of fatalism, but it is comfortable:
it is satisfying to a man whatever is his condition. I remember
one of his sentences expressing this notion: "When you meet
a man with the same tastes with yourself but with greater mag-
netism he will not only rule you but make you love your ruler."
If your tastes are not the same your strength does not work on
the same level; you are not antagonists -- you do not come in
collision. Mr. Emerson says Macaulay is a cockney; that his
memory is a prodigy like Jenny Lind's voice; but to what pur-
pose is it? He is the greatest conversationalist in England ex-
cept Charles Austin, an eminent advocate of London. Macaulay
has no faith in high souls; high destiny. His "History" is a libel
on English character. He touches no great name in history
that he doesn't daub; for example, Penn, Sidney, Bacon, and
others. D'Israeli is a fop. He has strung together in his novels
things beautiful and true from the literatures of all languages.
Like all his tribe he is a vendor of old clothes collected from a
BEGINS PRACTICE IN CINCINNATI, 1850 315
thousand backs, soaped and washed and varnished to look like
He is a worshipper of Carlyle but says that in temper and
manners, particularly to strangers, Carlyle is a bear. Mr.
Emerson was a Unitarian clergyman. Now he has some misty
notions on religion resembling the German philosophy. He de-
livered three lectures, "Instinct and Inspiration," "Nature," and
, of which no one could make out anything definite or valu-
able. I guess at the ideas in this wise: (If what I say seems
foolish, don't suppose Emerson said the same, for he don't say
at all-- he hints or intimates or walks around about what he
would say but don't say.) The common distinction between mind
and matter, -- there is nothing in it. Matter is spirit with certain
attributes superadded, as color, weight, hardness, etc., etc. Spirit
in the abstract, without these attributes,-- there is no such thing.
Matter in the abstract, not based on spirit, is an absurdity. Mat-
ter and spirit are identical, in a certain sense, therefore. Spirit
is the subtle essence which pervades all things. There is no
personal creative God; but spirit which is diffused through all,
which is a part of man and beast, is God. The highest mani-
festation of spirit is man. Man differs from mere matter in
this: His spirit is self-conscious. Therefore, man is nearer
than any other object in nature to an impersonation of Deity.
And it may be said with more truth of man than of anything
else, that he is God; there is more God in him than in anything
else. It is of the nature of spirit to be creative -- to work itself
out into material forms. This spirit is like an all-pervading
yeast which foments incessantly, working out new and constantly
improving forms of what is called matter. Men die but the
spirit which was in their bodies takes to itself new attributes of
a higher and more perfect nature, or mixes with the spirit of
all things--with God, and goes on bubbling to all eternity a
drop in the great caldron of spirit, which is at once God and the
Now, in all this account of Mr. Emerson's theology (!), I have
not said a word or used an illustration that I ever heard him use,
but if I could comprehend what he would have said if he had
come down out of the clouds or up out of the mists, the notions
316 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
I have given you are like those he would have expressed. The
German philosophers with Coleridge, Carlyle, Emerson, etc., are
called by some "Pantheists" or "Transcendentalists." Mr. Emer-
son hates those terms. He says "Platonists" would be more ac-
curate but yet not precisely so. He classes the writings of Plato,
Mahomet, Confucius, the Bible, and the religious books of all
nations in the same category -- all valuable as exhibiting the stir-
rings of the human mind after a knowledge of Deity, or of
themselves. He speaks of the feelings awakened by music, by
the sight of a boundless landscape, the ocean, the skies, etc., etc.,
as the longing of the spirit in us to mingle with the great ocean
of spirit of which every being has a part.
Mr. Emerson said one thing that would please Laura. Speak-
ing of the duty of cultivating the imaginations of children:
"Give them glorious stories to read. If they want you to tell
them stories do it if you can; if you can't, get some one else to
do it for you."
I have run on so that I have no room to speak of lesser items.
I do not know Mr. Perkins but from all I hear I would advise
Miss Helen to catch him if she can. He is of good family, has
talent, scholarship, and wealth; and is probably in all other
respects a more "eligible" match than is found twice in a life-
time. I want Miss Helen to see Mary. I once told her that
Mary looked some like her. Don't you think she does?
Love to her and all.
Carlyle said America had twenty millions of bores. Here is
a specimen of my nationality.
MRS. W. A. PLATT.
CINCINNATI, June 27, 1850.
DEAR FANNY:--I intend, or expect, nothing more from the
scrawl I shall give you this morning than that it will answer
me for a bait to draw a reply from you. Three or four days
ago, during that very hot weather, there were a few deaths by
cholera--perhaps fifteen or twenty in the three days, Saturday,
BEGINS PRACTICE IN CINCINNATI, 1850 317
Sunday, and Monday,--but as there have been no new cases
since that time there is no excitement or alarm about it.
I am very glad to hear that you are so delighted with Cousin
Mary and that she seems to enjoy herself at Columbus. I hope
she will not go to Circleville until after my visit to you which
will probably be about the 10th of next month. I can not tell
certainly but suppose I can stay with you as long as I desire to
The Jenny Lind hat is not paid for and I suppose its owners
regard it as lost property. Of course you can return it if you
Your views of certain matters, indeed all matters hinted at
in your letter, quite correspond with my own. I should think
there would be no difficulty in preliminaries which is, of course,
all you would desire to have a finger in. . . . Love to all.
Sincerely, your brother,
MRS. W. A. PLATT.
July 4, 1850. --Spent with the Literary Club and a few in-
vited guests at Latonia Springs over in Kentucky. An oration
by Spofford, poem by Guilford, speeches, toasts, songs, nine-
pins, and fun generally by the whole club. A glorious day-
Dodd, Lieutenant Collins, John McDowell, Baker, Garrard,
Pierce, Cross, Guilford, Spofford, Wilson, Blackwell.
After a hot pleasantly spent day and a fight for our "bus,"
got home safely, 8 P. M.
Friday, [July] 5.-- Cars to Columbus. Find friends all abed,
but too hot for sleeping. Cousin Mary and the rest got up and
chatted until midnight.
COLUMBUS, July 9, 1850.
DEAR UNCLE:--I left Cincinnati Friday afternoon. The
cholera is slowly increasing there --some sixty or eighty deaths
a day. The courts have all wound up business and very little is
doing, so that I shall probably not return for some time.
318 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
The Circuit Court will sit here as usual next Monday. Mr.
Stanbery says that your case can be continued; if so, I would
prefer to do it. I do not know the practice of the court but Mr.
Stanbery does, and I, therefore, suppose your case can be con-
tinued; so you need not come unless you desire it. But please
send me the opinion of Judge McLean which I sent you, and
also tell me what to do about the tract 9 suits. Shall I defend
them? I would as soon do it as not, even though not paid for it.
The convention have made a stampede of it. Mr. Orton can
give you the particulars.
Mary Birchard goes to Circleville tomorrow for a visit of two
weeks. Alvin Austin will go with his family East in about
three weeks, and Mary will probably go with him home. All
our folks here like her very much. All will be glad to see you
and expect you, but be sure to send me that opinion and write if
you don't come.
Sincerely, your nephew,
R. B. HAYES.
COLUMBUS, June [July] 11, 1850.
DEAR UNCLE:--. . . Mary Birchard left for Circleville
this morning; will be back in a week or two, and then goes
straight home. She is quite a charming little body, and has made
great friends of all from Mr. Platt down to little Fanny.
Cholera is disappearing in Cincinnati and there is none here
now. Old Zack's death is felt as a really great calamity. Her-
ron writes me that it caused the greatest gloom in Cincinnati
among all parties. I would come out and write up your letters
for you, if I thought 'twould pay expenses. Love to all.
Yours--R. B. HAYES.
Thursday, [July] 18.-- This morning my sister gave birth to
a daughter. I last evening played backgammon with her. I
thought Fanny never looked so handsome as then. No portrait
could flatter her as she then appeared.
BEGINS PRACTICE IN CINCINNATI, 1850 319
I am gradually and systematically discontinuing my attentions
to the lady I alluded to April 12 . I am satisfied, perfectly
satisfied, that she is not the person I thought she was when I first
became interested in her. Either she has greatly changed, as she
says, or her natural temper is developing with years and inter-
course with society. Her sense of religious obligation has al-
most disappeared. In short, she is no longer my charmer. But
with her many good qualities which I shall never be blind to, her
friendship is to be prized and, if possible, preserved. Can I let
her preceive that I am not a lover nor an ardent admirer with-
out offending? I'll try it.
July 27. -- Have seen Miss -- several times, and had one
good old-times talk with her since I last wrote. I am free,
quite free -- and happy, most happy in my freedom. She treated
me as of old, and exhibited some curiosity to know my sentiments
towards her. In a laughing way I told her the precise truth,
rallied her not a little on her coquetry, told her I should never
have dreamed of loving such a flirt as she now is, that when I
was charmed by her she was a modest, sincere, pious young girl,
differing toto coelo from the present. It all went off with a
laugh, and now I am again at my ease with any lady; can con-
verse with my ancient glibness. Good, good. When I am in
again, t'will be with another sort of person, I trow.
COLUMBUS, August 1, 1850.
DEAR UNCLE: -- I had intended to go north before now, but
the cholera has been so much worse here for the last week, and
the family being unable to leave on account of Fanny's confine-
ment, I thought it best to remain with them. I went up to Dela-
ware and staid over one day. . . . . Judge Johnson made
a capital speech the day I was at Delaware. Some think he will
be elected. Galloway will, I think, be the Whig candidate for
Congress here. Dennison is not seeking it.
Mr. Platt and Fanny's nurse are both a little unwell. I shall
stay here until all are well. There is no cholera in this neigh-
borhood. You remember this is the first ward, and can judge
320 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
of the health of this part of town by the reports of the Board
of Health. Ten died yesterday in town; four in Franklinton;
there have been eleven deaths here today. I speak of cholera
deaths, for some others have died of fevers, etc. All who are
ever in the habit of leaving town have gone, but there is not
much panic. If the cholera abates soon, and the family are
well, I shall go to Fremont; if not, I shall return to Cincinnati
without visiting you. If I come at all, 'twill be the last of next
S. BIRCHARD. R. B. HAYES.
FREMONT, August 22, 1850.
DEAR MOTHER:--. . . I am well and busy with both
business and pleasure. I shall be kept here necessarily a week
longer. Shall probably get home to Cincinnati the last of next
I am glad to find that you are all mistaken in supposing that
Uncle was much affected by the loss of his suit at Washington.
He does not feel [it] at all, this I am fully satisfied of. I today
placed in the way of final settlement a difficulty with one of his
tenants which I am sure troubled him ten times as much as the
loss of his great suit. I before thought that possibly you were
right but I now know you are not. . . . Love to all.
R. B. HAYES.
MRS. SOPHIA HAYES.
CINCINNATI, September 7, 1850.
DEAR UNCLE: -- I reached home safely Monday evening. A
great many of my friends and acquaintances are still away from
the city and very little is doing as yet. The courts begin again in
October, and lawyers and others will nearly all be at home by
that time. John Little's wedding is the week before the session
of the court, and I shall go up at that time. I saw Cousin Austin
at Xenia. He will insist upon your stopping there either going
or returning from Columbus.
I omitted to tell you to bring along your tax deed or cer-
BEGINS PRACTICE IN CINCINNATI, 1850 321
tificate for tract 7. It may be of use. I think you will have a
lien on the tract for all taxes. I am quite sure of it if you
bought it since March, 1831. . .
R. B. HAYES.
CINCINNATI, September 15, 1850.
DEAR FANNY:-- I don't see that the eleven years of married
life, or the birth of a fifth "responsibility" has done anything to
dull the interest of your letters. You are one of the very lucky
ones. We often see people who retain youthful looks and some-
times those who keep their "memory green," but it is rare indeed
for one to be young in appearance and reality both, after being
the parent of such a flock as yours. May you be equally happy
long, long after years have written their wrinkles on your brow.
I was, as you would suppose, pleased and amused with Willie's
letter. It was even more droll than Lollie's first. Boys haven't the
knack of composing near as early as girls. They really ache
with their efforts to think ideas into words and fasten them on-
Since my return I have been busy attending to little scraps of
business and renewing my acquaintance with various friends. I
spent one evening with Anne White. She is more lovable the
more one sees her and knows her. There is a good prospect, I
think, that Mr. White will settle down on the old Williams farm
"up the run," leave off preaching, and enjoy himself the rest of
his days. I hope he will for his family's sake. He is a queer
compound of weaknesses and good qualities, but is upon the whole
a man to be liked.
I have had some additions to my docket and have hopes of
more erelong. That sort of friends are not so easily gained as
the other, but as those I have constantly tell me, I suppose more
will "come by and by."
I have called on but one young lady as yet, and shall not get
very deeply into that business this fall. We are to have, among
the folks that one knows, some twenty weddings in the next
month or two. I have no desire to get into that round and shall
322 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
so demean myself as to get reputably out of it if possible. We
are to have no lectures, no courts, no anything until sometime
By the new contract between Barnum and Jenny Lind it is
feared that the West is to be cheated out of their concerts, and
some talk very vigorously of the inducements which Western
spirit should hold out to the little pleasant Dutchy-looking girl
to favor us with her warbling.
I see by the papers that Dr. Jones is expected to come down
here this winter. I wonder if he means to move his family also.
Dr. Hoge is expected shortly too, so I suppose we shall not be
without Columbus people visiting friends here the coming winter.
Glad to see them always. It is like home.
I shall go up to Columbus in the afternoon train next Satur-
day, the 21st, if nothing occurs to prevent, so as to be in time to
go up to Delaware with Dr. Little on the occasion of his wed-
ding. Mr. Stem thinks his wife will be ready to come back with
me when I return. Enclosed are notes to Willie and Lollie.
Love to all.
MRS. W. A. PLATT. RUTHERFORD.
Wednesday, September 18, 1850.-- Yesterday called with W.
C. McD-- on Miss Hand, of Hillsboro, at City Hotel. Met
there Dr. Dawson of the Covington Hospital. Last evening
visited with J. H. McD- at Judge McL-'s at Clifton. Reached
there at 6 P. M.; knocked at three doors; first turned out to be
dining-room, second, library, third, the one. Received no reply;
heard Mrs. McL-- talking to a workman in the yard; entered
and all right. . . Spent a pleasant evening after tea and
returned to city half-past eleven.
I have just commenced reading Shakespeare again--my
favorite plays at least--beginning with that beautiful vision,
"The Tempest." It has less of proverbial, sententious, quotable
wisdom than some other plays, but is after its kind most "exqui-
site fine fancy." Prospero, telling Miranda of his escape from
the cruel fate to which he was destined by his usurping brother,
BEGINS PRACTICE IN CINCINNATI, 1850 323
says he was put in a "rotten carcass of a boat, . . . the
very rats instinctively had quit it." And here too is the oft-
quoted sentence: "Misery acquaints a man with strange bed-
fellows." But, perhaps, the truest bit of beauty and nature is
Ferdinand's love-making address to Miranda.
Friday, September 20.-- Just finished "Merry Wives of Wind-
sor." Great in many points, it is like the last deficient in pithy
sentences which effect a lodgment in the brain to be quoted on
occasion, and point a passage in speech or letter. In describing
slander he is said to have "a little wee face, with a little yellow
beard, a Cain-colored beard." Cain and Judas in old pictures
were represented with yellow beards.
October 4, 1850.--Another birthday's ensuing. How fast
the years are chasing one another. Today at the great State
Fair. This forenoon at the law. Tonight tired, stupid, sleepy.
Some good purposes I have in mind resolved: To improve in
mind, manners, character, and to find if possible a sweetheart.
How crotchety one grows on that subject as years bring wisdom
and experience and at the same time temper passion's heat. Some
I wot of whom a year since I almost loved and quite admired,
and now the same would not suit at all. So we go.
CINCINNATI, October 6, 1850.
DEAR FANNY: --I don't know what to talk about this morn-
ing. I could tell some snake stories that would amuse Laura
or Willie about the monstrous specimens of animal and vegetable
productions which were exhibited at the fair, or the machines,
the music, the flowers, and the crowds of people; but for your
amusement I think they may be dispatched in a single sentence.
The Episcopal Convention brings to town a great many sleek,
well-fed people whose appearance reminds one of the cattle and
horses exhibited at the fair, looking as if to feed and primp were
the most important duties and occupations of life. One of the
most extraordinary changes I ever knew to be wrought in any-
body has been "experienced," as the Methodists say, by our
Member of Congress from Sandusky County, Amos E. Wood.
324 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
William will recollect him as a farmer-like, uncultivated speci-
men of Black Swamp life who thought himself supremely blessed
as the Representative in the Legislature of a few of the north-
western counties a winter or two ago. He lost his wife about a
year since, went to Washington last winter as an "M. C." and
made his first appearance in this city last Thursday. We had
hardly shaken hands before he "opened" up the subject which
seemed to burden his conscience most, to wit, the flirtations he had
carried on with three of four of our city belles whom he had met
in Washington, and which he intended to continue here; and to
explain that neither large oxen, fat hogs, or imported sheep have
been the attraction which brought him to the city, but a showy
niece of Judge McLean's, a daughter of Nibob Johnson's, or
some other young beauty whose smiles had beguiled the tedium
of his widowerhood. And true enough, in an incredibly brief
space, he was to be seen parading Fourth Street, driving fast
horses towards the fair and dancing at the Burnet with delicate
damsels just "out," and apparently tickling them with his delicate
flattery in a way to excite the envy of young bachelors "tre-
mendously." I couldn't but think of the contrast. Two years
ago he kept a tavern in the Swamp on the banks of Carrion
River, justly so called.
Just at this point a friend came and took me to church to
hear Bishop Hopkins. Well, he preached only a middling sort
of sermon. I went home to dine with Jones. His father has
just returned from New Haven and says that two weeks ago
today Mrs. Fitch died very suddenly. Truly the Trowbridges
have been an afflicted family.
This afternoon I have heard Dr. Stowe of Brooklyn. He is
another chuckleheaded, strong, but uninteresting preacher. So
I've not made much out of the grand convention after all. I
shall keep trying until I hear somebody. . . . Love to all.
R. B. HAYES.
MRS. W. A. PLATT.
BEGINS PRACTICE IN CINCINNATI, 1850 325
CINCINNATI, October 10, 1850.
DEAR UNCLE: -- I reached here in time for the fair and other
great doings connected with it. In the more farming part of
the exhibition, as cattle, horses, etc., etc., I think people were
generally disappointed; but fruits, flowers, and mechanical fabrics
were as superior as anyone could expect. Since the excitement
of the fair, the election has kept the city in an uproar. It was
shamefully managed on the part of the Whigs and the result is
an overwhelming defeat. However, it was expected that Wood
was to be Governor. For once, it seems as if Mr. Ewing was
a-going to be in luck. I can hardly believe that the Whigs have
carried the Legislature, but it really looks like it now.
I have spent nearly the whole time since my return in the in-
vestigation of your tax title. I am a good deal encouraged about
it. I have found the law under which Boswell obtained his
patent. It is the same that you and Bartlett supposed it was.
I feel quite confident, therefore, that your title is good, if there
are no substantial defects in the auditor's proceedings. I think
it is likely, however, that it will not avail you in the present suit.
It will probably be held to be an equitable not a legal title, inas-
much as the legal title to the tract was in the Government at
the time it was forfeited to the State of Ohio. It is possible
that the court may do better and say that, as the legal title was
in Boswell at the time of the sale to you, it was conveyed to
you by the sale; but I think it will be otherwise as intimated
above. The important matter now is, to see if the preliminary
proceedings are regular. Let me hear from you as to that.
I hope you have carried your railroad vote. I enclose a few
of the important points in a tax title.
R. B. HAYES.
CINCINNATI, October 16, 1850.
DEAR UNCLE:--I write in some haste. Bartlett has written
me that he and Ewing will be at Columbus November I, and
insist upon a disposition of the case. You will see Judge Lane
326 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
and inform him of it in time to be on hand. I have been figur-
ing away at your tax title and the abstract you sent me. From
1820 up to the time you bought, there were two or three laws
passed every year affecting more or less such matters as taxing,
duties of auditors, collectors, etc., etc., so that there is many a
chance for a slip. But still I have a good deal of hope and
some confidence that your tax title will save you yet. I find
nothing very bad in the abstract. I send you on a slip of paper
a couple of things I want looked into, and the result made known
to me as soon as convenient.
I am sorry your railroad vote is lost. It may not, however, be
so bad as it looks now. I will write soon again.
R. B. HAYES.
Tuesday, October 24. -- By letter today from Fanny learn
the sudden death of Sarah Wasson, a second or third cousin.
She was not so near to me nor our acquaintance so intimate, as
that this sad news sent such a pang through me as otherwise the
death of so fine, so joyous, and so healthful a young lady would
have done. Yet so many recollections of childhood are con-
nected with her, she appears so often in every scene of early days
which memory recalls, that her death fills me with peculiar emo-
tions--leads to many a train of sad reflection. She was the
first-born of one who was of our family when I was born and
through the days of infancy and early childhood. I remember
her mother's wedding as one of the first I ever saw--perhaps
the first. Sarah I saw the morning of her birth, tasted wine
given me by her father after looking at her as she lay wrapt in
flannel on the hearth rug (the first wine I remember to have
tasted), the first new-born babe I ever saw. I thought as they
told me she was found in the woods in a log, that there was
something of joke in it from their smiling, but yet I wondered if
it were true or not! I nursed and played with her and have seen
her at every stage of life until she was a bright, happy, blooming
woman with hosts of beaux and admirers. A few weeks ago
BEGINS PRACTICE IN CINCINNATI, 1850 327
at Delaware I called on her one evening and found a beau who
seemed confused at being seen with her; for roguery, I gave her
a smacking buss, knowing she would relish the joke if not the
kiss. And now she is gone from earth to be seen no more
How strange a scene is this in which we are such shifting
figures, pictures, shadows. The mystery of our existence-- I
have no faith in any attempted explanation of it. It is all a
dark, unfathomed profound.
CINCINNATI, October 30, 1850.
DEAR UNCLE: -- All your letters have been received, I suppose,
but as my telegraphic dispatch must have failed to reach you,
judging by the letter Platt got from you yesterday morning, I
am not sure that my letter even has been received. There seems
to have been a sort of fatality about it. Every communication
likely to disturb the nerves of your timid friends, as well as
your own, was duly received, while everything soothing and
quieting in its tendency, seems to have lost its way. You had a
right to be a good deal vexed with those who were so fearful
of losing their improvements "by the carelessness of your law-
yers." After all the expense and trouble you have been at in
defending the suit, and considering that two, at least, of your
attorneys have never had the reputation of being fools, it strikes
me as very silly for grown-up men to go about the streets whin-
ing on any information so notoriously uncertain as a telegraphic
dispatch, especially when coming from the other side.
If you received my letter written from Columbus, you know
that the case comes up next May in the same manner sub-
stantially, and on precisely the same question that everybody who
knew anything at all about the matter supposed it would come up
last July; viz.: on the question of the Occupant Law. What has
been done by the manoeuvring of the last term is merely a further
delay of the case, and that is all that anybody had any reason
to expect. The tax title is altogether an afterthought, which
none of your tenants were ever told to rely upon. We looked
it up on the principle that a drowning man catches [at] a straw.
328 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
We were satisfied that the United States Court would not regard
it a moment--that there was not the slightest legal claim for a
new trial, and yet, Stanbery acting under instructions, coolly
told the court that we had a perfectly good tax title, and insisted
upon a new trial so pertinaciously to the last, and appeared so
astonished when it was decided against him, that the court did
not force him into the argument of the question of the Occupant
Law, and in this way only was the delay obtained which we now
have. If there is anybody complains after hearing how it is,
tell them to hire their own lawyers and see if they can do any
better. Let them try Bartlett, if he is such a great gun. I'll
insure their getting his services even now for one hundred dol-
lars and expenses, notwithstanding he is so nearly in possession
of tract 7, improvements and all.
I have been thinking over your tax documents, and if we have
now got them all, I do not feel much confidence in it. If it can
be sustained anywhere, it will be in the state court out of regard
for long possession, had in good faith, etc., and there is some
hope of that.
Well, after all the fuss, as it is now over, I hope you will not
let yourself be vexed by it any more. "Study philosophy and
live low" was the advice of a wise one to a rejected lover. I
guess you had better practice on it. You will see Jesse Stem
soon, I suppose. My regards to him. Write to me soon. I
am anxious to hear that the alarm among your tract 7 tenants is
over. I returned here last evening.
R. B. HAYES.
October 31.-- Since writing last I have had one of the most
delightful little visits to my friends at home that I ever made.
Thursday morning, a week ago, Judge Lane called, telling me I
must go up to Columbus to look after Uncle's land suit in the
Circuit Court. I was off by railroad immediately after dinner
and reached home that evening. A good chat with Fanny who
was awake and uneasy about me. Mother gone to Delaware
BEGINS PRACTICE IN CINCINNATI, 1850 329
to carry comfort if possible to Mrs. Wasson in her affliction.
Spent three or four days figuring about the suit, calling on old
friends, etc., etc. Dr. Little returned from his wedding tour
with his sweet wife, happy and hopeful. Only to think that I
have been too busy to put down a word about his wedding!
Thus it is, things which occupy my thoughts the most find
smallest space in this my "book." Well, a few days before the
24th [of] September, I went up to Columbus and Delaware. At
Delaware on Tuesday evening Dr. Little and Cary Williams
"assisted" by Lib Starling and Linton Pettibone and Miss Lucy
Webb and self were joined in the holy bonds of wedlock by
Rev. William C. French, in the Episcopal church. At the party
in the evening were my sister and her "goodman" and all the
old acquaintances of boyhood. Fanny and myself "promenaded"
among them with peculiar feelings. Another peculiar feeling
was awakened too by the bright eyes and merry smiles of that
lovely girl whose image is now so often in my thoughts. But
whither am I straying? I sat down to write of the glorious an-
niversary meeting of the Literary Club, of which "more anon."
November 3, 1850.--Last Tuesday left Columbus at 2:15
P. M. to be at home in time for the anniversary meeting of the
Literary Club. At about 9 P. M. reached the city and found at
Grundy's building, northwest corner Fifth and Walnut [Streets],
the club assembling. Order of exercises: 1. A song by James
K. Wilson and the McDowells. 2. A poem smoothly written,
of the Pollock's "Course of Time" class, but too long, by William
Ferguson. This was interrupted in a most ludicrous way by the
announcement by Herron of 3. "Oysters." Some thirty sat
down to a good supper, liquors, etc., etc. 4. Cloth removed,
W. C. McDowell, being chairman, announced the toasts-- one at
a time -- some member responding to each: -- First toast, by
Blackwell in capital poem --spoken. Second, a history of the
club well told by I. C. Collins. Third, Zachos made a good
speech on teachers; White ditto; Sam Thompson, on lawyers;
Hoadly, ditto; Sam Keys told a good story to show his opinion
of literary clubs, viz., "the picture of Daniel in the lion's den";
retort, witty, by Garrard, viz., "We admire your honesty but
330 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
damn your politeness." "Thomas Carlyle," by Spofford, giving
the witty saying of said Thomas, "that from eighteen to twenty-
five young men should be balmed"; "Emerson," beautifully and
spiritually spoken to by Warriner; "Jefferson," by Pierce;
"Shakespeare," by Force, finely done; "Shadow of the State
House," an impromptu toast for self; a witty speech by Cross;
a good one on "Truth" by Sheldon; a short one by Herron --
suffering with toothache.
November 4.-- I am now almost ready to attack winter work,
winter reading, and winter amusements. Sunday, Monday, and
Tuesday evenings, I can devote to friends, lectures, or studies,
as seems fitting at the time; Wednesdays, I think better be de-
voted to my Old Fellows brethren; Thursdays, to "Sons of Tem-
perance" ditto; Fridays are as Tuesdays, etc., and Saturdays, the
best of all, to the Club. In the last I mean to speak every op-
portunity, and on each occasion "put the best leg foremost." I
am not a good speaker for such a body. I must have the
stimulus of an audience or of a cause, an object, or I am a tame
talker. This I shall try to mend for the sake of the exercise. I
must not forget, too, "to show my hand" oftener in the "Division
Room" and the "Lodge."
Days I must visit court, visit friends, and add to the list of my
acquaintances. My course of law reading, I have not marked
out for the winter; of that hereafter.
CINCINNATI, November 7, 1850.
DEAR FANNY: -- I suppose you need an excuse for writing to
me, and that you may no longer find yourself without one I will
write again although you are still on my list among those who
"owe me one."
I reached home in company, as I anticipated, with Lieutenant
Collins in time to attend a very gay meeting of our Literary
Club held in honor of its first anniversary. The good things
that were read, spoken, sung, toasted, and eaten, were quite "too
numerous to mention in one advertisement," making no allusion
to "things" good or evil which were smoked and drunk. Suffice
BEGINS PRACTICE IN CINCINNATI, 1850 331
it, that the ceremonies beginning at nine o'clock P. M. did not
"taper off until" after two A. M., nor till all were satisfied that
we had had "one of the times we read of." Since then nothing
has occurred to disturb the usually tranquil current of my affairs
I have got me a sign, newer, larger, showier and more richly
gilt than any other on the front of the Law Building,
albeit its face was adorned before with more numerous and
gaudy shingles than any other in the city. Whether the staring
gold capitals on a field of lemon will draw more flies into my
web than are wont to stray in thither, Time, that daring navigator
in the unexplored seas of the future, can alone discover; but as
I have earned enough since my return to pay for this bit of
extravagance, I think I shall be able to await the result with true
philosophical coolness. I am not naturally a quack --am not,
either constitutionally or by education, "A bag of wind"; yet I
have a proper appreciation of the advantages and superiority of
this character over mere unpretending merit. And so, for thrift's
sake, I mean deliberately and decidedly "to cut" in future all
my old ideas on this head. I don't think modesty "pays." It
is a good quality in a family, it is a domestic virtue, it makes a
home happy after you have got a home, but it is not potent in
getting homes. It is not a money-maker, neither is it lucky in
gaining a reputation. I am of the impression that gaseous bodies
do better. Don't be alarmed after all this talk lest you shall
hear that I am blown up in an explosion, or gone off in a vapor.
No, I mean to begin with creeping and ascend gradually to the
enviable height of a decided "blow."
I was the other day at a little dinner party of half a dozen
young men at Dr. Richards'. One son invited a couple of his
Kenyon friends, to wit, myself and another, and the other a
couple of his Yale college friends. The conversation fell upon the
democracy which prevails at colleges, where scholarship and
service is more valued than family, etc., etc. Mrs. Richards was
shocked (most excellent lady though she seems) to hear that the
bosom crony of one of her guests was a son of a landlord, viz.,
of Colonel Noble! Great "fixin's," this family pride! Isn't
it a pity that Eve was the mother of landlords as well as doctors?
332 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
I called on the Bonds t'other night. They had on an in-
ordinate quantity of bad taste, and talked "a power" on their
Eastern trip and other subjects without either "grace or unction."
I saw Pot Hoge last night. She seems happy enough and her
father was interesting, bordering on funny. They are cooped
up in a wee house whose parlor is at once hall, study, and sitting-
room, a state of things not at all to the taste of young men who
make calls, still less, if they wish to "take off their things and
stay awhile."--Love to all.--Good-bye.
R. B. HAYES.
MRS. W. A. PLATT.
CINCINNATI, November 8, 1850.
DEAR UNCLE:--I would not write to you again before hear-
ing from you, but I have a "suggestion, or perhaps a motion to
make. I am not clear in my own mind which I shall do" (Samp-
son Mason), which I hope will induce you to make me a visit.
Glenn, you know, is building a plank road into the city from the
west. It crosses Mill Creek bottoms, about a half mile above
the present lowest bridge. Near the middle of the bottom, and
not over a hundred rods from a thickly built part of the city, is
a piece of land of about ten acres, which never overflows but has
never been laid out into town lots, because there was no getting
to it except by crossing the bridge away below it and going up
on the west side of the creek. Glenn's road now brings, or
will bring, it in direct connection with the principal streets of
the city. It belongs to a house-joiner, three old maids, and some
minor heirs. They were offered three thousand dollars per acre
for it a year ago and refused it. They will now sell five acres
for twenty thousand dollars--four thousand dollars in hand
and the balance in ten years with interest. Glenn is timid about
real-estate operations, but is inclined to go halves with anybody
else. I suspect it is a great speculation. The five acres can
be cut into about eighty town lots of twenty-six feet front. This
at ten dollars a foot would pay expenses; but no lots half as
favorably situated as these will be when the plank road is fin-
ished, are ever sold for less than thirty dollars or forty dollars.
That these five acres can be cut up and sold for fifty thousand
BEGINS PRACTICE IN CINCINNATI, 1850 333
dollars within three years--one-fourth in hand and the balance
in installments payable in two, three, and five years, I fully be-
lieve. I know how easy it is to figure up profits on paper, but
I've no doubt if you were here, you would think the speculation
worth looking up. A bargain like this can be made probably:
That the purchasers may go on and get a partition of the property
so that the owners can give a clear title to the five acres owned
by the brother and old maids, and then if the purchasers wish to
take the land on the terms mentioned, they can do it, or, if not,
back out on paying the expenses, say thirty dollars, of the parti-
tion. By that time it can be known definitely whether the pur-
chase will pay or not. This is altogether the best speculation
that I have heard of since I came here. The moment it is gen-
erally known that a good bridge and road are to be built over
the bottom, this property will double in value and price; it can't
be otherwise. Lots over two miles further off have been sold
this summer for twenty dollars per foot. It is within less than
half a mile of the Hamilton & Dayton Railroad depot, and the
first ground this side of it that is above the floods, now rents at a
valuation of fifty dollars per foot. I think a voyage down here
wouldn't hurt you, even if nothing comes of it, and perhaps it
Judge Justice sent me a dollar to buy him a book on dreams,
witchcraft, etc., which is not now in town. There will be a new
supply in a week or two, when I will send it along. Please tell
I wrote to Abner Root, Land Officer at Defiance, and to Joseph
H. Larwill of Wooster for information and documents about
tract 7. I told them it was for you and they replied very promptly
and fully, so you may thank them when you see them, or treasure
it up in their favor.
I shall be out of funds one of these days unless clients come in
a little faster, so if you are not coming down--but do come if it
is not risking your health -- I would like you to send me a trifle
when it is convenient. I am thinking some better of your tax
title to tract 7 than I did. Mr. Coles says tract 7 is not on the
sale list of 1827. I think it must be there. The reason he gives
334 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
for its not being there is not a good one. The list is a very
long one, and he may have overlooked it. If it is there, the
greatest defect I now see in the tax title is removed, and I repeat,
it must be there, although it has been twice overlooked. Write.
Love to all.
R. B. HAYES.
November 10.--Since writing the above I have looked over
the whole ground of our proposed speculation again, and am still
pleased with it. I send you a hasty plot of the ground. The
ten acres is the square in the horseshoe bend of Mill Creek. By
looking at the map of the city in the newspaper I sent to you a
few days ago, you can see precisely how it is. It is six hundred
yards by the way of Gest street across Mill Creek to the east line
of the ten-acre lot from Freeman Street which is one of the
greatest streets in the city. All the sanguine people predict that
in ten years Freeman will be the main street. You need not
put yourself out to come down, for if a conditional bargain can
be made, such as I mentioned, Glenn and myself have determined
to make it, and think of the next step any time in the next six
months. -- H.
Saturday, November 16. -- The first snow of the season.
Heard from John G. C. of the marriage of his brother J. A.
to a lady of my acquaintance [in the] East whom I formerly
"affected" somewhat. Regret to hear that she is so out of
health that he has been delayed in bringing her West. Success
to him for her sake and his own, health and happiness to both!
But still it was fortunate that my "affair" went no farther than
it did. Singular, that the sweet smile which beams so lovingly
in features now familiar to dreams and "reveries," was in con-
trast or comparison with this lady's charms in my thoughts over
three years ago, when the one was a "bonnie" schoolgirl of six-
teen and the other a blooming woman of twenty-two or upwards.
Now as then the preference for the former is sufficiently decided,
only more so.
BEGINS PRACTICE IN CINCINNATI, 1850 335
Tuesday, November 19. -- Opened up at a temperance meet-
ing in Rev. [James] Prestley's church (Associate Reformed
Presbyterian) between Race and Elm [Streets]. Have no idea
how the speech took. There were present not to exceed six of my
acquaintances; only one crony, McDowell. The only indication of
success: I overheard a young lady, as I was coming out of
church, say, "I wish I could get the young man who lectured
first for a beau." The remarks were extempore, being the first
speech of the kind I ever made to a mixed audience. It is not
very difficult; requires more preparation of the particular dis-
course, so as to fasten the heads of it in my mind, or a better
knowledge of the subject without any previous preparation for
the particular speech. In time, I fancy, I can make a decent tem-
CINCINNATI, November 20, 1850.
DEAR FANNY:-- I suppose it is time I should write again if I
want a Sabbath day's journal from you. A letter from you is
always regarded as one of the necessaries of life,--luxury, and
sometimes rarity, though it is. I feel this more just now as
Uncle is too busy to write. I have not received one of his laconic
epistles since I first returned from Columbus three weeks ago.
He is, I learn "collaterally," going into the private banking busi-
ness with Mr. Otis. They have been building a brick banking
house with its vaults and mysteries and expect to go to financier-
ing extensively soon. Otis is a close, successful money dealer
and with Uncle's credit and influence the firm is no doubt a very
good one. Good luck to them. Something of the kind was
much needed at Fremont and will be more necessary now that
they have undoubtedly secured at least one railroad, to be com-
menced in a few weeks, with a good prospect of one or two
more after [a] while.
I called to see Mrs. Ormsbee evening before last. She says
it is common rumor that Charlotte [Birchard] is to be married
to the Mr. DeWitt who went home with Mary. Mr. Ormsbee
says, on the other side, that the Fayetteville gossip is not good
authority, and that if Charlotte is not a desperate flirt, the Rev.
336 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
Mr. Plympton, Presbyterian clergyman in Fayetteville, is the
happy (?) man. The last named gentleman he describes as a
young man of talent, "human beauty, and moral perfectibility";
also a great favorite with his congregation generally and with
Uncle Austin in particular.
Little "Sard" is bright, good-looking, and gloriously spoiled,
rules the whole household with despotic sway. Charles is suffer-
ing from a combination of the vapors, idleness, and ill health.
It is doubtful which of these elements predominates. Charity
would say the last. Truth probably would insinuate the first.
Uncle Austin really takes as much interest in the store as ever,
and is probably a silent partner. He is in good spirits and is
gradually exchanging politics for religion as the topic of thought,
study, and conversation.
Mike Sullivan has been here dancing attendance on Miss Eliza
Carson of Chillicothe. She is represented as witty, intelligent,
and aspiring. Which of these qualities would determine her to
smile favorably on Mr. Sullivan's claims, I cannot say. She is
withal fine-looking and the selection of her for his lady-love is
very creditable to Mr. Sullivan. Mr. Sullivan reports a feud
between the house of Deshler and "the castle," as Mr. Deshler
was in the habit of familiarly styling the "premises" on Broad
Street. I hope for "the castle's" sake that the report is true.
How is it? The "empressment" that was lacking in Miss H--'s
greeting to you must have been wasted on me, for at both our
meetings I fancied her more cordial than usual.
I have just stopped writing long enough to read Mr. Clay's
speech to the Legislature of Kentucky, at Frankfort. I find it
in the morning paper. You will see it soon. It is worth read-
ing even for a mother looking after her flock.
In pursuance of my recently adopted system of blowing my own
trumpet, I last night made a temperance speech in one of the
Presbyterian Churches on Sixth Street. By stoutly denying my
identity with the "Hayes" named in the bills, I succeeded in
getting off my speech with only one of my cronies in the audi-
ence and not over half a dozen of my acquaintances. I got
along quite decently "considering." The only remark indicat-
ing how it took, (except the matter-of-course congratulations of
BEGINS PRACTICE IN CINCINNATI, 1850 337
my acquaintances) was a remark I heard a young lady make to
her companions on the way home: "Well, I wish I could get
that young man who spoke first for my beau!" It was too
dark to distinguish features or I might have offered her "that
I see Miss Hoge and have a good laugh with her occasionally.
She must be blue enough at times with nobody but well-behaved
old folks to listen to. They are about changing their abode to the
Walnut Street House. Just think of Dr. Hoge shifting about
from "pillar to post" in a town like this, as if he were a strolling
bachelor! A pregnant proof of the falsity of the saying that
"a prophet is not without honor save in his own country."
I am told that Mrs. Webb is coming here to keep house in a
week or two, so I shall see somebody soon.
I wrote to Uncle William a long letter, and, upon mature
deliberation enclosed to him your letter to me and also Lollie's
containing an account of the Bell Ringers. I am not sure that
the last named young lady will be pleased with such a freedom
with her correspondence and perhaps you better not mention
it to her. Your letter seemed to me a very proper one for such
a purpose. Your naming Miss H - was the only thing that
made me hesitate. But it meant nothing and can be easily
explained if questions are asked.
Write.--Love to all.
Affectionately, your brother,
R. B. HAYES.
Tell Laura I was much pleased with her account of the Bell
Ringers and will reply to her letter soon.
MRS. W. A. PLATT.
Thursday, [November] 21.-- Wake with a sore throat-- old
complaint. Have many fears that it will be my ruin if not my
death. Linton W. Pettibone and self went to all the principal
hotels and most of the boarding-houses in search of the husband
of his sister Estelle --J. J. Richardson. The full name of ----
is "L. W. W." [Lucy Ware Webb.]
338 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
Friday, [November] 22.--Nothing on hands this afternoon.
Received a case to examine and argue from friend T--. Shall
seek such opportunities as often as possible. Learn legal prin-
ciples, their application, and the most forcible method of stating
them; besides the advantage of notoriety which it will afford me.
I am now to work my way almost unaided. Push, labor, shove,
--these words of great power in a city like this. Two years
must find me with a living and increasing business, or I quit the
city and probably the profession.
I am a sincere but not extreme or violent friend of the temper-
ance cause. I mean to prepare myself to speak on the subject
by accumulating and arranging in my memory as many interesting
facts, arguments, and statistics as I can; also by jotting down my
own ideas on the subject as they occur to me. The learning to
speak as well as the notoriety (not to speak of the good I may do)
are objects worthy of the pains.
Reading "Twelfth Night or What You Will." I find much
beauty, much wit. Gossip in all times: "As you know, what
great ones do, the less will prattle of." . . . A capital love
story, good plot, good characters and beauty all over.
CINCINNATI, November 25, 1850.
DEAR UNCLE: -- Yours of the 22nd with the enclosed came
safely to hand yesterday. I was not sorry to have confirmed,
what I had previously learned by rumor, that you and Otis are
about starting a private bank. If you are to spend your time in
Fremont, the occupation will, no doubt, be a pleasant one; and,
as Glenn said, "with your popularity and Otis figuring," it must
succeed. With the amount of deposits you can command and
the prospect of greatly increasing business at Fremont, the enter-
prise must be a capital one.
Judge Reznor reports from Columbus that the railroad proj-
ects have finally settled down precisely as I suppose you would
wish. This is attributed in part to the fact that Judge Lane is
interested with you at Fremont! I am afraid that our "horse-
shoe" (so called from the shape of the land) speculation will not
succeed. The fellow who manages for his sisters has taken the
BEGINS PRACTICE IN CINCINNATI, 1850 339
hint, and is changing his terms very materially. Glenn thinks there
is still hope of his settling down on a fair proposition, but I am
pretty will satisfied that he thinks he might as well cut it up into
lots himself. Had Glenn been as quick on the trigger as you
would have been, we should, perhaps, have got it. He is timid
in real-estate matters. For example, Gregory offered him a
chance to go into a "spec" with him, which I, with no other
means than I have, would have embraced at once; Glenn was
afraid of it, and now it has turned out in Gregory's hands ahead
of anything we read of in California. In six weeks from the
time of purchase, he has sold one-twentieth of the land for fifty
per cent more than he gave for the whole of it. But this is one
chance in a million. I mean to tell Gregory that when he hears
of good offers requiring not more than I can probably borrow
of some of my friends, to let me know.
I am glad you are coming down; don't give up if you can
help it. I had some business in Paris, Kentucky, and wrote to
the gent who was so frightened by your "Cold Huckleberry Pud-
ding" that night at Brazoria. I alluded to our chance meeting
there. He replied very politely, inviting me to come to see him,
and attending to my business without any fee. So much for
being polite to crazy men.
I had a long talk with the "human mind" on the street the
other day. He was quite tickled at meeting me. Love to all.
R. B. HAYES.
Sunday, December 1.--Unshaved and unshirted, spent the
day in reading "David Copperfield." Read the last half of the
book; very fine-- very. Dickens "is the fellow yet." Traddles
says, "the society of the girls is very delightful but not profes-
sional." But the lesson of the book is in David's philosophizing
on his marriage to Dora, his "child wife." In the words of the
doctor's Annie (Mrs. Strong): "There can be no disparity in
marriage like unsuitability of mind and purpose." She was
thankful for being saved from "the first mistaken impulse of
my undisciplined heart."
340 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
A hateful female would be a cross between Miss Murdstone
and Miss Rosa Dartle.
CINCINNATI, December 5, 1850.
DEAR UNCLE:--Glenn will tell you about our purchase, or
bargain, for the Mill Creek tract. I expected to raise the means
at Columbus, so you need not be troubled on my account. It
is considered a capital hit, and if the cholera will only let us alone
next summer, we shall doubtless do well with it.
You send some Plank Road certificates to be struck off. This
leads me to suggest that possibly, if you want to borrow money
in New York at five per cent for your banking, it can be done
by pledging Plank Road stock to good advantage.
. . . There is an excellent chance to get a "spec" in real
estate that would take about three thousand five hundred dollars,
so if you come down soon, please put your hand in the safe and
take out about that amount, as I am sure I can satisfy you of
a way to invest it better than private banking, though I have no
doubt that is good. How cozy you will be in your little counting-
room; it is quite "a green spot to think about," as Lizzie Baldwin
would say. Love to friends.
R. B. HAYES.
December 9. -- Yesterday afternoon, Sunday, went up to
Columbia with Mr. Gossin and Mr. Tuttle and made a tem-
perance speech in the church. Not hard to face an audience
now, but I ought to have something good to say. Must be pre-
pared for such sudden calls. Should think with a good collec-
tion of ideas, facts, etc., I could make a tolerable speech. The
audience seemed attentive and pleased; will try to improve.
Saturday, December 14.-- Just returned from the National
Theatre where I saw Miss Cushman in "Meg Merrilies." Can
anything be more grand, more perfect, more awful? Can't write
about it, but most glorious it is, indeed.
BEGINS PRACTICE IN CINCINNATI, 1850 341
CINCINNATI, December 17, 1850.
DEAR UNCLE: -- Glenn and Orton have told you all about me
and I only write to tell you that I start to Columbus tomorrow
to remain there and at other places two weeks--until the day
after New Year's. Ormsbee has some little matters that will
pay expenses to Circleville. I have another matter at Ports-
mouth and must go to Delaware probably to get my money, so
I shall make quite a round of it going and coming.
Sincerely, R. B. HAYES.
P. S.--Tell Mrs. Valette "Copperfield" is the best book
Dickens has written. I would send it if I supposed it was not
CINCINNATI, December 22, 1850.
DEAR UNCLE: -- You will be surprised to see that I have
returned from Columbus so much sooner than I expected when
I left. Yesterday I received a dispatch from Judge Reznor de-
siring me to come down immediately. I accordingly took the
first train of cars and reached here last night. I shall start for
western Virginia tomorrow morning in company with one of the
parties in an enterprise of this sort: A large body of land has
been contracted for; a small proportion of it is common farming
land worth from five to fifteen dollars per acre; the balance is re-
garded by its former owners as waste and wholly worthless.
They sell the whole tract for what would be about a fair price for
the tillable land, so that the average rate per acre is only sixteen
cents. The waste land has been examined and is found to be
valuable for coal and iron. I am to go up and see to titles, etc.,
etc., and to have the privilege of going in as one-fourth partner.
The amount of money required is very small; still, I care nothing
about it at present, but I wish you would, if you can, come down
here about the 5th of January. I shall be home in ten days
again, and if you are coming down at all this winter, you can,
perhaps, come as well at that time as any other. . . . Write
and tell me whether you will come, and do come.
R. B. HAYES.
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