CHAPTER XWIDENING INTERESTS --- CINCINNATI, 1851
JANUARY 8, 1851.--Just returned from a New Year's visit
home--a happy one indeed. Many reflections crowd on
my mind, but the prominent scene is that of last night. After a
merry party at ----- , remained with ---- until 3:30
A. M. (! !) talking over and finally disposing of a long dream
of mingled happiness and pain. Glad I am that it is as it is. Yet
what a singular feeling of sadness, not grief or regret, steals
over me as I think of it. It is as if an era of my life--a period
of youth with its feelings, aye, and what is more with its capacity
to feel--is gone forever from me; as if an important portion
of life were wasted. And what a scene was that one of last
night! The more I think of it the sadder I feel. I asked her
to return my letters with as light a heart as I ever made the
simplest request. I cared nothing, absolutely nothing, for her
feelings towards me. I had come to consider her as unfitted by
temper and disposition for my bosom companion. No lingering
desire to gather again the broken threads that once bound us
to each other was hidden in the recesses of my heart. We talked
over our whole past intercourse. Everything was called up,
errors and misconstructions corrected, apologies, confessions,
and repentances exchanged, until all was clear again. I was
told with the emphasis of both hands clasped warmly over mine,
and a tearful eye and husky voice, again and again, that no
other man was or could be so esteemed--so liked as I still was.
It only was no longer love. I heard it with a smile, not of
triumph, but of sympathy and happiness that "the affair" could
end so happily.
I wished it so to end, had long wished it; and yet now, after
a day has passed, I am sad. I would not change it if I could.
No, no. Another bright vision that has long floated before my
waking and slumbering fancies, is beautiful before me--sweeter
(342)WIDENING INTERESTS, CINCINNATI, 1851 343
far than the harmony of verse; and yet the dead passion is to
me like a lost loved one. How she conjured me to beware of
wrecking my nobler nature on the rock of mercenary aims and
pursuits; not to throw away a good heart on an inferior woman!
Well, well, I shall ever think better of you for that night's ex-
planations. God bless you, God bless you!
"Fare thee well, thou first and fairest,
Fare thee well thou best and dearest,
Thine be ilka joy and treasure,
Peace, enjoyment, love, and pleasure!"
CINCINNATI, January 14, 1851.
DEAR UNCLE:--Since my trips to Columbus and Virginia
I have been a good deal employed. . . . Judge Reznor, a Mr.
Heaton of the City Bank, and myself closed a contract for a
portion of the coal lands which I visited soon after I wrote to
you. It will probably prove a good little operation. There is,
however, so much uncertainty about it that I would not have had
anything to do with it, but for the belief that my connection with
the other parties in the matter would prove of more benefit to
me in my profession, and in other ways, than the amount which
I can possibly lose if it turns out badly. Platt took the same
view of it that I did, only he seemed to consider the "spec" itself
as a better thing than I did. The money required to be paid
soon, in addition to what I took up to Virginia, is advanced for
me by the other parties, with the understanding that I am to do
the business (except expenses), and to pay my share when I can
do so, say a part in the spring and part in the fall. . . .
R. B. HAYES.
January 26.--Money and reputation have occupied my
thoughts the past three weeks, chiefly the former. The latter, I
care little about, except the good name which follows every good
life. Fame, I care nothing for--positively nothing. Health
344 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
certainly, brains possibly, is lacking to gain it. The woman I
think of often enough, the one with "the eye that reaches back
to the spirit," whoever she may be, is required to complete all
my visionary pictures of quiet bliss hereafter. Money is needed
to enjoy the essentials. So gold and love for the future! What
a firm! But yet I am prudent.
I read my lecture Wednesday, [the] 22d, to a full lodge. It
took and I was satisfied, perfectly. Friday, [the] 24th, found
a pair of charming sisters at Notre Dame. Queer, was it not?
COLUMBUS, January 29, 1851.
DEAR UNCLE:-- You will be pained to hear the sad intel-
ligence which brought me here this morning. We have just
returned from burying little Willie. He died Monday evening
after five or six days' illness with croup. He was regarded as
in a very critical situation two or three days before he died. You
knew him well enough to know what an affliction this is to Wil-
liam and Fanny. Still, they bear it as good parents ought. They
feel that they did all in their power to preserve his health and
make him happy. He was so good, so thoughtful, so considerate,
so kind for one of his years, that no treatment was required
towards him which would, now that he is gone, be remembered
with pain. Both say that all their recollections of him are
pleasant. A few days before he was taken sick, Fowler gave
them a chart of his head. The character was a beautiful one,
but he almost predicted what has occurred, as a consequence of
a too perfect development of brain at the expense of the bodily
powers. A more beautiful face and head than his were, even as
a corpse, could hardly be met with in a lifetime. His gentleness
and consideration for others in his sickness are delightful to
dwell upon. But he is gone; this cold, blustering 29th of Jan-
uary, Wednesday, buried in Green Lawn Cemetery on a spot,
near which last spring and summer he played many a day when
his father was engaged as one of the directors decorating the
grounds. He would have been seven years old March 3--
too old and too mature ever to be forgotten by any of us.
All the rest of the family are well. I shall stay about a week;
WIDENING INTERESTS, CINCINNATI, 1851 345
partly to comfort them, if possible, and partly on business for the
City Bank. Write. Love to Mrs. Valette.
R. B. HAYES.
Columbus, January 30, 1851.--Tuesday, the 28th of January,
on returning to my office after dinner, Herron handed me a let-
ter with the remark, "It is a lady's handwriting but not your
sister's." I took it and on opening it found the following: [A
letter from Miss Helen Gregory, a niece of Mr. Platt, announc-
ing the death of little Willie Platt.]
I read it as I might have read a paragraph in a newspaper--
no shock, no tears, no emotion. I thought of it a few moments
in silence, told it to Herron, remarked that I would probably go
to Columbus, inquired the time and found it was a few minutes
too late to go by the afternoon cars. Stem and Quimby came
in. I told them I should probably go to Columbus by the night
train, and the cause of it. Called on several friends, made some
slight arrangements, still not realizing the calamity at all. I met
Mr. Kelley of Columbus on the street, who spoke of Willie's
dangerous sickness. I told him I had heard of the death. Now
for the first time I found that tears were starting and hastened
on. During the afternoon and evening made a few needful
preparations for leaving home; spent the evening very pleasantly
at the Broadway Hotel with Mr. and Mrs. Latimer, and with
Herron at the office. Sat up until one A. M. and left in the rail-
road cars for Columbus. During the ride thought often
of Willie, of the feelings of his parents, their great loss, etc., but
it was purely intellectual. No emotion was stirred whatever.
I felt that I ought to feel, was ashamed to think that I did not
feel more. But in the morning, Wednesday, [the] 29th, as we
approached the depot ground at Columbus and I saw the place
where every morning Willie and his father before breakfast
skated and played, the tears started and I almost sobbed aloud.
Approaching the house that bitter cold morning, it looked so sad
and desolate. No Willie to greet me! I met Helen Gregory at
the door, and without a word turned into the parlor. Found a
large fire blazing and everywhere preparations for the funeral.
346 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
In a moment William came in and as our eyes met, we were
both overwhelmed. I never felt so drowned in grief in my
life. I went into the family room and saw my sister sitting in
her low rocking-chair in her accustomed corner, nursing little
Emily as usual--as I had seen her so often--but looking for-
ward so intently, so sorrowfully, as she raised her eyes and saw
me. She rose and bursting into tears and grief threw herself
into my arms exclaiming, "Oh, my Willie, oh my Willie, my
Willie," many times. They were glad and grateful that I had
come, had almost telegraphed me to come,--so afraid I would
not. We then talked of Willie, his sickness and death, his good-
ness, his beauty, his books, toys, hat, etc. We all went together
into the cold east chamber where he was laid out in his coffin.
Fanny [Junior] did not know what it meant. She prattled
sweetly in her musical little tones, and could not comprehend it.
We all looked down on him--Mother, William, Fanny, Laura,
little Fanny, and myself. Fanny said, "Let us never forget how
he looks." How beautiful a sight that was! His pure, white,
marble-like brow, his lovely face, his curling locks combed neatly
back, a tie of white ribbon under his chin with the collar turned
over, his hands crossed together clasping a bunch of flowers.
To be sure, those lovely, liquid, violet-colored eyes were hid,
closed in death, but the slight sinking of his cheeks brought out
more strongly the manly features, and made him look years older
than he was. Nothing in statuary or painting could excel it--
and he was dead, gone, lost! Oh God, what pangs would shoot
through me as I thought of him and looked at him!
We continued to talk of him. His father told what a happi-
ness Willie had been to him; how all recollections of him were
pleasant, only pleasant--none otherwise. What a thoughtful,
noble boy he was, how all loved him. Fanny spoke in a singular
tone of agreeable sadness of the effect of the affliction on her
mind--on William's; how their hearts were brought more near
together than ever before. William would so like to know where
his little spirit was gone! How such a modest little fellow
would feel alone among strangers!
The funeral at 2 P. M. Mr. Preston the clergyman. Many
familiar faces filled the rooms. A cold ride to Green Lawn
WIDENING INTERESTS, CINCINNATI, 1851 347
lifted down into the grave by Irwin, Champion, etc., etc. The
stone placed over the coffin, and we return in the carriage as
before, viz., William, Fanny, Willie Gilbert, Laura, and self.
William said to Laura, "That is the last you will ever see of
brother Willie." And so we left him that cold winter's evening,
in grounds now snow-covered and bleak, where he had played
so often among the leaves and flowers of summer and spring!
That evening we still talked of only him. I read De Quincey's
account of his "first affliction" of childhood. The evening was
a pleasant one, though so mournful. William and Fanny both
so felt it. William said: "None but a parent can realize such
happiness as we have had with Willie. He has been such a
treasure to us, and now that he is gone, he is a treasure to think
of." Fanny spoke of him as combining the choicest parts of
the two most dear to her, husband and brother; that as we were
stays to her now, she had begun to think of him as the stay of
her later period in life. "But alas! he is gone, the beauty, the
treasure, the sunbeam, and the hope of our house!"
Willie was born March 3, 1844, died January 27, 1851. When
he was born I was at Harvard Law School and must have seen
him first as a babe in the summer of 1844, when at home in vaca-
tion. My recollections of his infancy are few. He was a
large-headed, long-featured boy, with exceedingly fine eyes, large,
hazel. Some thought he resembled me and we often called him
"Uncle Ruddy." He soon grew to be very noble-looking and
was admired by everybody. His first daguerreotype shows him
well. He was remarkable in figures. "Stubborn as a Hayes,"
if wronged and roused, but other times gentle, kind, cheerful.
He was too open and honest for any deceit or guile. He could
keep nothing in the way of secrecy, would tell where he intended
to hide when playing bo-peep! Merry as fun itself. Persever-
ing, cheerfully so, beyond any boy I ever knew. A velocipede
was bought him. At first he could not stir it at all, but day after
day he worked until no one could be more expert. He was
fond of witty and queer things said or done. I once helped him
at table and said, "Now walk into it." How loudly he laughed
and repeated, "Uncle Ruddy says, 'now walk into it.'"
A short time ago when up home to spend New Year's, I at-
348 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
tempted to imitate the brogue and queerness of Davie in "Guy
Mannering," which I had seen represented on the stage; and
repeated to him "Capt'n Brunn of the Fusinileers don't know,
etc." The boy was delighted with it; he could not hear it too
often. He could play a little backgammon, chequers, well for
one of his age, and was learning to skate, on Lorenzo's skates,
when he died. The scenes of his last sickness were very touch-
ing. He was taken with a cold and hoarseness Sunday, the I9th,
was kept from school during the week, and tenderly watched
and cared for by his parents. He was weaker, seemed milder
than usual, but equally merry; was a happiness to the whole
house. Friday [he] grew worse. Saturday he heard a letter
from me read, in which I expressed a desire to have him write
to me. He got his mother to write for him. She wrote as he
During his whole sickness he was considerate and generous.
His father gave him an orange. He had it divided with all
present, sent some to absent friends, and desired all present to
eat it with him when he did. Dr. Case, when first called,
found the case was desperate; requested counsel, Dr. Smith.
Remedies were tried in vain. Willie was not told of his danger.
Monday evening, about 6 P. M., a paroxysm of choking came
on. Dr. Smith took him in his arms, held him a moment to his
breast, and after a momentary struggle handed him to his mother,
in whose arms he breathed lightly three or four times and his
"spirit returned to God who gave it"! After Willie was laid in
his coffin, Laura asked if she might place in his coffin two little
spoons belonging to a set of dishes which Willie was fond of.
It was done by Laura and they were buried with him.
COLUMBUS, February 3, 1851.
DEAR UNCLE:--. . . We are all quite well here now, and
William and Fanny are as composed and cheerful, almost, as
usual. We succeeded in finding a beautiful daguerreotype of
Willie at one of the artists' rooms which was taken at the same
time with the one I gave to you. We have had several beautiful
WIDENING INTERESTS, CINCINNATI, 1851 349
copies taken from it for lockets and breastpins for Willie's
friends. . . .
I shall stay here some time. Judge Reznor & Co. have several
bills before the Legislature which require constant watching to
keep them alive. The judge has been here some time, and on
my promise to stay a week longer, he has gone home. One of
the bills, for a dry dock company, if passed, will do great
things, it is thought, for our Mill Creek property. If Otis
knows any Loco members who would be more friendly by his
writing, I wish he would send me a letter of introduction, saying
that he will be obliged to them for any kindness and service done
My business is increasing considerably, but my expenses are
also somewhat larger than last winter. Herron will leave me
soon to go into partnership with one of the best offices. I shall,
for a time, retain the office alone which will increase my ex-
penses also. Not in any need at present, but shall want some
money soon after my return to Cincinnati. I do hope you will
come down shortly.
R. B. HAYES.
COLUMBUS, February 12, 1851.
DEAR SIR:--Your favor of the 7th, enclosing letters of intro-
duction to several members I received this morning, for which
accept my thanks.
An effort is making to repeal the New Occupant Law. It
might have slipped through silently, but having an eye open for
my own matters, I chanced to see the little bill and called the at-
tention of several to it. It will certainly fail.
The compromise at one thousand three hundred dollars is
probably the best thing that can be done, though I am not sure
but we could take from them all the improved lots by the help
of the Occupant Law and our tax lien. However, lawsuits are
so uncertain that I should vote for the compromise.
I am succeeding very well so far with my legging, but it is a
very mean business for a man that has been well brought up
350 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
to engage in. It is the only way to get a bill from Cincinnati
through, so it must be done.
R. B. HAYES.
L. B. OTIS.
COLUMBUS, February 17, 1851.
DEAR UNCLE:--Your favor of the 9th was sent to Cleveland
by mistake and reached me here today. I am likely to remain
here some time longer. I have written to my Cincinnati friends
to get a discharge, but they insist that I shall stay until all our
matters are decided one way or the other. Two of the three
charters we are trying to get are now safe; the third, in which I
am most interested, is still in doubt, but I guess it will go.
Spink is here trying to get some railroad charter from Perrys-
burg to Sandusky by way of Fremont. He says the road from
Toledo to Fremont will not be built; that the letting of contracts
was only a bluff game to match the Sandusky project of a road
through Ottawa County. I think the town of Fremont is to be a
town and not a potato patch, as Watson used to say, but I fear
Judge J--is right in saying, it is too late for the old settlers.
The Legislature, Town Council, etc., etc., are going to Cleve-
land to spend the 22nd, if the railroad is finished, as they now
expect, by Thursday evening; then good-bye to the Mad River
road as a route for through travel; it will still be an important
freight road, and be well supported by way travel, and I hope
you may get it by the way of Fremont, as Spink says you will.
I am writing in a hurry. The Legislature is busy electing As-
sociate Judges for all the counties by the "People's Line," Whigs
for Whig counties, Locos for Loco counties, etc. I will write
you when I go home. Good-bye.
R. B. HAYES.
P. S.-- The road to Cleveland is through; the first handcar
crossed the gap this morning.-- (17th, P. M.)
The attempt to repeal the Occupying Claimant Law is killed.
WIDENING INTERESTS, CINCINNATI, 1851 351
The comittee reported against it unanimously Saturday. If you
have any interest in the matter left, you may thank me for this
result. I am pretty sure it would have silently stolen through
the House, if I had not called attention to it.
COLUMBUS, March 17, 1851.
DEAR UNCLE:--. . . General Hinton has written from the
lower Mississippi to his family that he is dead! a la Culver!
or in other words, he says that before the letter reaches Dela-
ware "the dark waters of the Mississippi will be rolling over
him." His death will discharge his bail from liability for his
not appearing at the trial. I think his own assertion ought to
be taken as proof of a fact which so nearly concerns him.
[John B.] Gough, the famous temperance lecturer, has been
turning the heads of the most hidebound old sinners in town.
Deshler, Wm. Sullivant, Platt, and men of that stamp are con-
verts. There is a little currant wine in the house and as the
whole family have signed the pledge not to drink nor to give
it away, there is trouble as to disposing of it. Platt would throw
it in the street but Mother thinks it a pity to lose it! Suppose
you come down and remove this bone of contention!
Guy Bryan will be here to spend a few weeks next month or in
May. We must be ready to do the hospitable and friendly in
our best manner.
The Whigs generally feel in great spirits at having elected a
senator and all the other officers. The Locos feel chapfallen,
especially poor Payne. He is cursed by his party because he
wouldn't resign, and let his friends play the same game which
the Whigs played so successfully, viz., keep offering candidates
to the Free Soilers until the bait took. The new Constitution
will not be opposed by the Whigs generally although they hate
Tell John R. not to give it up so. He is good for a long life,
I am sure. Regards to him and his.
The Free Bank bill is pretty sure to become a law; so if you
want state stocks, look out for them. They will be in demand
352 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
shortly. The bill which I have had most at heart, which was to
have made my fortune (!) and on account of which I am staying
here, more than for anything else, is pretty likely to be a failure.
Sorry for it, but can't help it. Your old friend, Farrer, has kept
it alive so far; but for him, it would have died a month ago. I
fear now that it is past praying for.
R. B. HAYES.
March 29, 1851.-- Returned the 26th from Columbus. Settled
up the next day the coal contracts with Todd. Yesterday called
with Mrs. Lester on Miss W -- [Webb]. Evening with Mc-
Dowell at C J. Wright's, a lively evening. Am now alone in
my office-- Herron having entered the office of King & Ander-
son as a partner. I have now no projects either for good or
glory immediately before me; my money-making schemes will
look out for themselves for a while, and I am at leisure for study
and improvement. I fear I am wasting, not my substance, but
what is even worse, my mental endowments. Let me prick up a
little of my ancient mettle and again at it. I see many of my
early friends and acquaintances of no greater promise than mine
evidently outstripping me in the race of life. Yet I feel that
I am not inferior to them. The gift of continuance, aye, and
health, I fear are lacking.
I find that with me low spirits and feeble health come and go
together. The last two or three months I have had frequent
attacks of the blues. They generally are upon me or within me
when I am somewhat out of order in bowels, throat, or head.
My prospects here are in some points of view not dark, and in
others not so bright as I would desire. I have made friends
and with them acquired some position -- some reputation -- and
yet I have next to no practice at all. It is only by practice that
I shall ever become a lawyer. To do it by mere study is plainly
not in me or my capacity.
WIDENING INTERESTS, CINCINNATI, 1851 353
CINCINNATI, March 29, 1851.
DEAR UNCLE:--. . . I received a good long letter from
Jesse Stem a few days ago. He has been wintering near San
Antonio, and has enjoyed tolerable health. He will return to
take his family down if he finds a suitable place to plant them
early in the summer. Mat Stem's wife is quite unwell. Ellen
Gardiner and Cleme Stem are both there now. Cleme is in
pretty good health and goes to school.
I hardly know what to say about your suit at Columbus.
There is no preparation required of any kind. My own impres-
sion is that perhaps it would be as well to let the thing go, and
commence on them in the State court. I do not see how Bos-
well can be kept out of possession more than one term longer,
without going to an expense greater than is worth while. If you
were here I could talk it up with you more in half an hour than
can be done in writing forty letters.
The weather is now beautiful. Jenny Lind will be here in
ten days or two weeks. Fanny and William are coming down
then. Guy Bryan will probably be here also. So do come.
R. B. HAYES.
March 31, 1851.--Heard Spalding, as Judge of the Supreme
Court, deliver an opinion in a chancery cause. He is a clear-
headed, able judge. With temperance and integrity he would
hardly be equalled as a judge by any man in the State. Hitch-
cock sat with him. They are trying for the third time James
Summons for the poisoning of his own family in the summer of
I have read today the accounts of the famous Crystal Palace
built for the World's Fair in Hyde Park. What colossal dimen-
sions for a structure of glass and iron--one thousand, eight
hundred feet long by four hundred broad, twenty-four, forty-
four, sixty-four, and one hundred feet high, covering eighteen
354 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
. . . Commenced reading today the law of insurance
April 4, 1851.--Another attack of cholera morbus. On the
lake shore, colds and sore throat were my enemies, now it is
disease of the bowels that disturbs my peace. I feel pretty well
today, considering. A prospect of a little business in addition
--the notary business of the City Bank.
Yesterday heard the closing arguments of Judge Walker in
the poisoning case, so often tried, of James Summons. Judge
Walker is not fluent, voice and manner not good, but he is im-
pressive and strong. The only beauties in his jury addresses
are his quotations from Shakespeare and Milton, which he re-
cites with a good deal of effect. He quoted:
"Some flow'rets of Eden ye still inherit,
But the trail of the Serpent is over them all."
Also a few lines from Milton--"Mask of Comus," I think--
showing the effect by means of habit of a sensual or pure course
of life; also Hamlet's, "What a piece of work is man," etc.
A strong man.
Judge Spalding is a very able man. His charge was on the
side of mercy but able. Moral insanity, he gave no quarter.
He spoke of drunkenness, his own besetting sin, as a vice that
would make a man choose to roll into hell rather than deny him-
self the bowl.
D'Israeli ("Amenities of Literature") says Saxon is a short
crooked sword, and that it gave a generic name to all the tribes
which poured into Britain about 450-600 A. D. If this is the cor-
rect etymology of the name, it is not bad as a symbol of the
manner in which the race was destined to extend its power.
April 9, 1851. -- Monday morning, the 7th, saw General Scott
for the first time. Great crowds of people thronged the streets
leading to the landing. The general came down the river on the
Pittsburgh packet. The uncertainty in the time of his arrival
prevented there being anything like a formal reception. The
old general stepped out in the fore-part of the boat, dressed in
full military costume with yellow plumes in his chapeau, etc.;
WIDENING INTERESTS, CINCINNATI, 1851 355
was cheered and bowed gracefully. As he descended from the
deck and made his way to the carriage, great numbers crowded
towards him and seized his hand and one Irishman embraced
Monday evening there was a class graduated by the Law
School at College Hall. General Scott was present. The orator
of the evening, B. Storer, alluded to General Scott, which
"brought the house down." The general then made a neat little
speech, saying that he could not venture to call himself a lawyer,
that he only practiced six months, but he had felt the benefit
of his law studies in every week of his life; and addressing the
class, he said: "You will find yourselves benefited by your
studies here whatever may be your subsequent careers. I wish
you all success in your profession. May your career in it be
far larger and more brilliant than mine was! Accept an old
soldier's prayer for your success."
He is a noble-looking man for a soldier -- six feet four inches
high, well proportioned, a clear, keen gray eye (or hazel), dig-
nified and commanding in person, his hair a little thinned on
the top of his head and slightly grizzled with age. He'll do for
Wednesday, April 17.-- Monday evening, heard Jenny Lind.
She is a charming girl, her voice aside. For simplicity, modesty,
apparent sincerity, and goodness, I have not seen her equal on
the stage. Abby Hutchinson is the nearest approach to her.
Her singing is doubtless without fault, her voice certainly is
excellent, but I was not moved--thrilled--by her singing.
Once, in singing "Sweet Home," she touched my feelings, only
that once. I have felt more a thousand times when listening to
good music. Her bird song, the imitation of the warble, was
wonderful and beautiful. Altogether I am not surprised that
she should be a favorite, perhaps the favorite of the musical
world; but to draw such houses at such exorbitant prices is
without adequate reason.
Uncle Birchard [has] been here since Wednesday evening,
[the] 9th. Left today. A good visit.
356 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
April 23.-- I was requested yesterday to deliver an address
before the Fulton Lodge of I. O. O. F. in two weeks from to-
morrow. If time were allowed me to prepare one, I think I
could perhaps reap some laurels. As it is, I must patch up some
sort of a thing, stuffed with other men's ideas, weakly cemented
by a few of my own. I hate to be "a thief of renown and
pilferer of fame." But I mean to attempt the address, and
must, "will ye nill ye," cram for it. The lodge was instituted
August 19, 1849, (No. 112) with fifteen members; now has one
May 9, 1851.--Got up my address, and yesterday in the
presence of a large assembly of ladies and gentlemen at the
McKechen Chapel got it off. Good. I must now to work again
righty lustily before the dog-days interfere. My voice was much
better than I anticipated. It held out unbroken for a good hour
of pretty loud talk -- open windows, locomotives, steam saw-
mill, and all to the contrary.
CINCINNATI, May 13, 1851.
DEAR UNCLE:--Your letter enclosing forty dollars was duly
Guy Bryan is now at Baltimore buying negroes to stock a
sugar plantation. He went direct from New Orleans to New
York by sea. He will probably not return by way of Ohio as
he must go with his negroes, unless he succeeds in shipping them
through to Galveston on a vessel. . . .
I wrote the enclosed article for Shoemaker to put in the
Gazette in reply to Cooke, but the railroad friends of Shoemaker
say he must not continue the controversy; but he says if you
will have it put into one of the Fremont or Norwalk or Toledo
papers, he will have it copied into the Gazette. If it is worth
publishing, see to it and send us copies of the paper containing
it. I have erased and interlined to suit your latitude, but a
decent compositor can set it up without rewriting.
R. B. HAYES.
WIDENING INTERESTS, CINCINNATI, 1851 357
May 15, 1851. --I yesterday heard of the suicide of an old
friend, a friend of boyhood, of college days, and of later times
--Linton W. Pettibone, of Delaware. I remember him as far
back as memory goes as a bright boy; a favorite of kind and
wealthy parents, almost envied by me--he was so furnished
with books and toys such as I prized, "Three-fingered Jack,"
"The Forty Thieves," etc. He was exceedingly bright as a boy.
At college, he being from the same town, we were more intimate
than otherwise we should have been. He was "fresh" when I
was senior. I knew him for a keen one, and old associations
made us friends. But he had been South "vagabonding" and
had become rough in his manners, profane and obscene, but not
guilty of any excesses. Still to me he was a good fellow and we
kept together. After leaving college I saw little of him for two,
three, or perhaps four years. When I saw him again he had im-
proved in every way -- manners, intelligence, and character. I at
once became strongly attached to him and we have been the last
five years firm friends. If I was in Delaware his office and room
were my headquarters; his clean collars, gloves, and vests were
at my service. If he came to my home, Fremont or Cincinnati,
the same was true. He was witty, sensible, intelligent, and
practical; fitted alike for a good companion and a successful
[lawyer]. That he was somewhat of a libertine, I knew; but I
regarded it as a vice which time and marriage would correct.
He told me last summer that he was engaged to Miss Annie
Wetmore, a young lady living near Cleveland, and seemed to be
quite happy in the prospect of wedded life.
Sometime during the winter he was here looking for his sister.
We visited all the hotels and boarding-houses in the city in
vain. He went with me to the theatre, and I was afterwards
told, visited an assignation house here and met this Miss Cowdell
who is now associated with the cause of his death. Three or
four weeks ago I heard that he was seen in Dayton with her,
passing her off for his wife. Yesterday I heard from Jud
Rhodes that he killed himself on Saturday by shooting himself
with a rifle through the temples. Sure work. He died in-
stantly. Horrible, horrible! It was the fear of being discarded
by Miss Wetmore, who was sure, he said, to hear of his amour
358 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
with Miss Cowdell. And so has gone to his long home one of
my earliest, most valued, and most promising friends. A young
lawyer of good prospects, of wealth, position, health, etc., cut
off in the bloom of life! Too bad, too bad!
And so I end here a volume of nothings, jotted down in the
past two years or nearly two years, by recording the tragical
end of one of my boyhood's playmates -- one of the most prom-
ising up to the hour of his death, one of the best, one of the
most loved; gone to the "[country from whose] bourne no travel-
ler returns" -- "unhousel'd, disappointed, unaneled." He studied
religious books; reflected upon it [religion], as I think, with a
desire to reach the truth, and, I think, concluded there was noth-
ing in it; that the future was at the best an unknown--per-
haps, a blank.
Cincinnati, May 17, 1851. -- Paid forty-five cents for this
blank book to begin another volume of odds and ends this sultry
Whether my new book shall be better than its predecessors,
sooner filled, more regularly posted, and all that, time will show.
My purposes now are good. To speak more of things in gen-
eral, of persons, thoughts, books, and events, great and small,
and have my journal less a mere logbook of my own movements,
I now intend. One good result I find in such jottings: It teaches
me how aimless are many of my efforts, and how weakly the
firmest resolves are pushed towards their results. To make
fewer plans, and carry out better those which are formed, I
must hereafter see to. There, what a sentence, --beginning and
ending with a "to" and slovenly in all its parts! I write either
on stilts a la Micawber or slipshod like a schoolboy. Must try
to mend that, too.
May 18. -- Last night heard Agassiz lecture on the egg -- the
type of all animal and vegetable matter. Until fifteen years ago,
it was not known that flesh, bone, etc., were formed in the same
way with vegetables by cellular formations. He traced the
whole process from the formation of the egg to the hatching of
the chicken. It was most interesting. . . .
WIDENING INTERESTS, CINCINNATI, 1851 359
May 20. -- Have just heard a great deal of interesting talk
from Judge Read. He came in about dark to borrow the 18th
Ohio Reports, to see the decision in regard to Sunday-made
contracts. I asked him how the case of his client, committed by
the mayor after an examination on Sunday, was decided. He
sat down and talked an hour, first giving his ideas and views of
the law governing the question. Then branching off into a dis-
cussion of science, generalization, the superficiality of attain-
ments in our day, the devotion to mere physical progress in this
country, etc., [he] finally spoke of our boy judges -- smart boys,
but you might as well try to stretch the arm of a child to the
length of that of a man as to make them comprehend a man's
ideas of law. Key, he ridiculed beautifully; he [Key] reminded
him of an old engine, hissing and groaning as if in agony with
the effort to think. It was idle to make a good argument be-
fore him. "It needs a fool to convince a fool," [he said]. "If
you would persuade an ignorant man, approach him through one
below yourself and not greatly above him. I would want six
degrees between myself and Key. I wouldn't hope to reach
the sixth. I would put the thought into the head of the first,
he into the head of the second, and so on down to Key, who
should be the polypus. I would like to have Agassiz lecture on
him. He would place him with the clam or, perhaps, the jelly-
He said when he was judge, Cropsy was prosecutor--"an
exhausted receiver, who sucked the intellectuality out of a man,
yes, the physical life even. He was on a dead level: no ebb or
flow of thought or feeling. One associate of mine, a feeble man,
died of him; one fell away in flesh (he was a fat man) ninety
pounds in six months. Once he spoke eleven hours in a murder
case. I went home exhausted, told my wife not to speak to me,
but to play me such tunes as she knew I loved. I lay down, was
just reviving when who should come out but Cropsy to inquire
after my health. I told him not to speak to me. My wife, not
to treat him rudely, opened conversation. I rose and took him
by the throat, told him it was a case of self-defense, and put
him out of the house. I told my wife I did not wish to wound
360 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
her feelings, but the man was killing me. A young lawyer not
ambitious should quit the profession."
Professor Agassiz said tonight that this is the year of the
seventeen-year locusts. In 1834 they were out, laid their eggs,
which hatched into grubs, which buried themselves under the
ground in roots of trees, have lain there as larvae ever since,
and will now come out as locusts for a few weeks to pass again
through the same state.
I must cultivate Judge Read's acquaintance. With all [his]
faults he has genius, intellect, and admiration for what is high
and pure. Strange man; so beastly in some propensities, so
godlike in some of his qualities. Speaking of Key, he said he
had learned one thing, that the greatest demon on earth was the
demon of sexual intercourse which pursues a man like a shadow
--his deadliest enemy. He said the difference between the in-
tellectual man and the mere mechanic was not in the nature of
his pursuit, but in the manner of following it. The man of
science pursues his course knowing and appreciating the reasons
and principles of it; the mechanic goes in the regular routine be-
cause it is so writ in the book. The man of intellect acts for
the delight he feels in the pursuit he is engaged in, the reward
in money is incidental; the man who skulks behind a grocery
bar acts for the gold alone. That is his result and he succeeds,
while too often the intellectual man is in debt for his books, his
rent, etc. His own case.
May 21. --Brother Alexander, Eagle Lodge, I. O. O. F., No.
1OO, just called and introduced me to C. L. Gano, Sharonville,
Hamilton County, who wishes me to address the "Rose of
Sharon" Lodge. Promised to do so three weeks from tonight,
Wednesday, and to write him on my return from Virginia.
Another blow-out, flourish of trumpets, etc. 'Twill do as an
CINCINNATI, May 22, 1851.
DEAR UNCLE:--Your letters and papers were duly received.
I shall hand one of them to Shoemaker for the Gazette, but as
someone at Fremont or elsewhere has already replied to Cooke's
WIDENING INTERESTS, CINCINNATI, 1851 361
article, I shall not be surprised if they decline publishing anything
more on the subject. If they do publish, I will send you a paper
or two. . . .
I have written Bartlett but received no reply as yet. I said
very little; alluded to the probability of a protracted litigation,
my hope that the thing could be adjusted, that I would probably
be at Fremont, etc., etc., and requested to hear from him.
All well at Columbus. You have of course heard the ac-
counts of Lint Pettibone's suicide. Pity --great pity.
R. B. HAYES.
Friday, May 23. -- A change in the weather from warm to
chilly. Don't like it at all. I am for warm weather, a warm
climate. I detest cold. It stops one's flow of spirits, dams up
the pores, thickens the blood and the juices, and [is] in short a
stupefier of all the functions, physical, emotional, and mental.
Last night walked a mile beyond the ferry in Covington to visit
a pretty cousin of L. W. W. [Lucy W. Webb]. Of course I had
good company. I like these Kentucky and Southern girls when
they are not too haughty and idle -- aristocrats, amusees, or
flirts, wasps, or butterflies. They are warmer of heart, more
cordial in their manners, apt to be pretty, quick, and graceful.
I guess I am a good deal in love with ----. I have suspected
it for some time. It grows on me. Her low sweet voice is
very winning, her soft rich eye not often equalled; a heart as
true as steel, I know.
Miss Clarinda Wright is right. A good heart is a higher
quality, a richer possession, than great intellect, especially in a
woman. The highest emotion [is] love for our Maker, or for
his highest attributes exhibited in his creatures. Well, on that
principle L[ucy] is certainly behind no one I have yet seen. In-
tellect, she has, too, a quick sprightly one, rather than a re-
flective, profound one. She sees at a glance what others study
upon, but will not, perhaps, study out what she is unable to see
at a flash. She is a genuine woman, right from instinct and
impulse rather than judgment and reflection. It is no use doubt-
362 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
ing or rolling it over in my thoughts. By George! I am in
love with her! So we go. Another bachelor's revery! Let
it work out its own results.
CINCINNATI, May 24, 1851.
DEAR UNCLE:--I have received a letter from Bartlett today.
He says he has full powers to sell or settle Boswell's claim. Is
anxious to do so. That there is a project to sell out the claim,
a part down and the balance contingent on the result of the
suit; that he don't like the scheme; prefers to settle with us;
that we must settle "soon" if we expect to deal with him; that the
town is injured by the controversy, etc., etc., and he wishes to
see it ended. In reply to this, I say to him, by this mail, that I
prefer settling with him to anybody else, that I anticipate diffi-
culty by reason of your pride in the matter, that I view it merely
as a dollar and cent affair to be decided by pecuniary interest,
that the fight is likely to ruin the property for all sides for a
long while, that a part now is better than the whole hereafter, and
that I will come out and talk the matter up with him about the
middle or 20th of June. I say to him that I have written you
that there is a probability of a settlement and that I am coming
up to see to it.
I go up to the coal region Tuesday. . . .
R. B. HAYES.
CINCINNATI, June 8, 1851.
DEAR FANNY:--Back again you see, safe, healthy, and sun-
burnt. A trip to the "mountain scenery" in May and June is
quite another affair from a journey in the winter. The sail up
"the beautiful river"--oh, it is glorious, most glorious. I didn't
know I was capable of enjoying so keenly nature's beauties. The
coal region, too, decked out in its summer gear, was delightful.
I attended a Virginia county court, witnessed many new kinks.
of practice, and made the acquaintance of several old-fashioned
Virginia lawyers. I returned Wednesday after an absence of a
little more than a week.
WIDENING INTERESTS, CINCINNATI, 1851 363
I shall go to Fremont next week--a week from tomorrow, I
think -- and shall stop at Columbus either coming or going. . .
I read the third volume of De Quincey's "Essays" while gone
to Virginia. There are some fine things in it. The "Vision of
Sudden Death" is thrilling, but ought not to be dwelt upon.
The effect is not, I think, wholesome. But the "Stage Coach" or
"Mail Coach" is capital, "Joan of Arc," so-so, and a "Roman
Dinner," amusing and good. . . . .
Write instanter. --Love to all.
MRS. W. A. PLATT.
Monday, June 9, 1851. -- Returned from Virginia last Wednes-
day. Had a delightful trip up the glorious Ohio, the "beautiful"
river, indeed, at this season of the year. Attended a Virginia
circuit court, Judge McComas on the bench. Heard a hog-
stealing case tried by John Laidley, of Guyandotte, for the State
and Moore and Leander Spurlock for the prisoner. Rode over
the hills; heard queer preaching, queer talk. The Moores, fine
men, all of them. Old man Moore "a character" to listen to and
learn from. Heard the subject of "onjust money" discussed.
This is when a judgment before a justice is collected of the
defendant, and thereupon the defendant turns round and sues
the plaintiff for "onjust money" --many magistrates claiming
that it is good ground of action.
Since my return home I have been getting up the by-laws for
the Washington Life Insurance Company, of Cincinnati, Ohio.
How will it succeed? Can't tell.
Tuesday, June 10.--A lovely day. Exercised an hour in the
gymnasium before dinner; ate rather too much and feel stupid
and sleepy in consequence. Have been reading Webster's speech
in reply to Calhoun, delivered in 1833, on the question of the
nature of our Constitution, the right of a State to "secede,"
"nullify," etc. It is a calm convincing argument, the very per-
fection of senatorial or judicial reasoning. Nothing can be added
to its completeness and strength. It deserves to be read often. I
364 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
never saw it before. Why is it not published with Webster's
other speeches? I must read Calhoun's speech. Have heard the
latter called his ablest speech and superior to Webster's best, by
a Southerner, Tom Harrison, of Houston; but it cannot equal
Webster's. So clear, plain, sensible, logical. Calhoun must be
sophistical; can't be sound in reply to such a speech. But hold!
Must not strike until both sides are heard. I will find Calhoun's,
Saturday, June 14, 1851.--"Happy as a king," "a lark," "a
clam," or any other the happiest being animate or inanimate
in this lower world; and that too in spite of a disturbing, or, at
least, vexing [disorder] yesterday and last night. (Cholera times
-- for we hear of frequent deaths by that dread disease.) Why,
then, this elation, elevation, hilarity of spirits, or rather quiet
joyousness and self-satisfaction? Do I know more now, have
I heard something new and unexpected, gratifying to my vanity,
feelings, or what not? Not exactly that either, for I felt it in
my bones, or head, or heart, or wherever else such happy fore-
shadowings abide, that it was, as I know now it is. "It," "it,"
what "it"? That little foolish pronoun means nothing. Yes, yes,
"it" means a great deal sometimes; "it" brings happiness, or "it"
makes miserable often. Well, well, out with "it," and not talk on
about "it," keeping back the fact concealed in "it," as a boy saves
his sugarplum gazing at and enjoying it in prospect before he
permits himself to ascend [to] the climax of fruition by an
ecstatic bite and gulp!
Last night, Friday evening,--Friday no longer an ill-starred
day in my calendar, (give me Fridays, such Fridays, or such
Friday evenings for aye, and I'll not change them for the luckiest
Thursday or Sunday, lucky days proverbially, that one lives
through in an age!) -- last evening [I say,] I went out on
Sixth Street, passing up from Fourth on the west side of Race,
when, just as I passed the corner of Race and Longworth, I
saw a magnificent horse plunging and leaping like mad, with a
buggy at his heels, along the sidewalk towards the corner I was
passing. --Let every one look and jump for his life! At the
moment I saw a lady, respectably dressed, apparently a married
WIDENING INTERESTS, CINCINNATI, 1851 365
lady, nearly at my side, in equal danger with myself. Involun-
tarily 1 threw my arms around her and hurried her back into
the friendly protection of the receding doorway of the engine-
house at the corner. She was alarmed, but accepted most
graciously my apology and thanked me for my gallantry. Why
do I speak of this? As a good omen, or what? The act was
quite as unpremeditated as another [act] which is the occasion
of all this gossip, and was almost as successful.
[I] went on my way rejoicing, an inch taller for this feat -- of
arms, shall I say?--and naturally turned into the gate south
side of Sixth, next house east of Dr. Prestley's church--a
blessed vicinity forever more in my memory--and soon was
chatting gaily with my--since a goodly time--"received ideal"
of a cheerful, truthful, trusting, loving, and lovable girl, who
might have been the original in many points of Hawthorne's
Phoebe -- the sunbeam in the "House of the Seven Gables";
or of the fairy in Ik Marvel's revery over the anthracite, with
the "deep eye reaching back to the spirit; not the trading eye,
weighing your purse; nor the worldly eye, weighing your posi-
tion; nor the beastly eye, weighing your appearance; but the
heart's eye, weighing your soul! An eye full of deep, tender,
earnest feeling. An eye which looked on once, you long to look
on again; an eye which will haunt your dreams; an eye which
will give a color, in spite of you, to all your reveries. An eye
which lies before you in your future, like a star in the mariner's
heavens, by which unconsciously you take all your observations."*
I listened carelessly, with a free and easy feeling, to her talk
"soft and low"--tones and voice just matching that otherwise
matchless eye; not matchless for its brilliancy, or magnetizing
power, or beauty even, but for its tenderness and goodness. We
finally spoke of Delaware, and then of the Agards, an humble
family of no special interest to me, except as joined in my
memory with dear recollections of childhood. I proposed to call
and see them. We stepped a few doors west into their domicile;
had a queer cordial welcome from the two old maids and Theron.
*The quotation was evidently written from memory. While sub-
stantially correct it is not textually accurate.
366 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
Oh, how fallen from the "big boy" as I remember him years ago!
After our return she, with the fine voice and eye, compared the
two spinsters to Dora's aunts in "Copperfield." We spoke of
different topics. I was sleepy from bad rest the night before,
told her so, but talked on.
On a sudden the impulse seized me -- unthought of, un[pre]-
meditated, involuntary, and (I was sitting in a rush-bottom rock-
ing-chair in front of her, she on a short sofa) I grasped her
hand hastily in my own and with a smile, but earnestly and in
quick accents said, "I love you." She did not comprehend it;
really, no sham; and I repeated [it] more deliberately. She was
not startled -- no fluttering; but a puzzled expression of pleasure
and surprise stole over her fine features. She grew more lovely
every breath, returned the pressure of my hand. I knew it was
as I wished, but I waited, perhaps repeated [my declaration]
again, until she said, "I must confess, I like you very well."
A queer, soft, lovely tone, it stole to the very heart, and I,
without loosing her hand took a seat by her side, and- - -,
and the faith was plighted for life!
A quiet, smiling, satisfied silence, broken by an occasional
loving word followed. She said, "I don't know but I am dream-
ing. I thought I was too light and trifling for you." I spoke
of friends. She said in reply to [my question], "What would
your mother think of her daughter's foolish act?" --"What
would your sister think of it?" And so, and so. -- [Her]
brother Joseph came in, and after a short while I went home
to dream of it all again and again.
June 17. -- Day of the election for or against the new Constitu-
tion. Felt favorable to the new Constitution but cared very
little about it. Should have voted for it but for the license or
rather anti-license clause. My temperance principles made me
feel a strong interest for the anti-license clause. I had no great
confidence in it; indeed, doubted its expediency, but took that
side as the side of my party. Accordingly I traded my vote at
the polls, voting against the Constitution, though inclined to
favor it, to get the vote of my friend against license though [he
was] inclined for it.
WIDENING INTERESTS, CINCINNATI, 1851 367
P. M. By railroad to Columbus. Remained until the 23rd.
Railroad to Shelby and Sandusky; next day to Fremont. There
settled with Bartlett Uncle's interminable lawsuit. Good. [On
the] 3rd of July returned, by way of Tiffin, and celebrated the
Fourth pleasantly at Latonia with the Literary Club. Evening
of Fourth with L. W. W. [Lucy W. Webb, his affianced].
COLUMBUS, June 22, 1851.
DEAREST LUCY:-- I know it is very wicked to spend this holy
Sabbath morning writing sweet nonsense to my lady-love, in-
stead of piously preparing to go to church with mother, as a
dutiful son ought to do, but then I'm hardly responsible. This
love is, indeed, an awful thing; as Byron said, "it interferes
with all a man's projects for good and glory." Besides, I am
only fulfilling my scriptural destiny in "forsaking father and
mother" -- and all that -- and -- and -- I can't quote any farther.
But the pith of it is -- leaving your mother to go alone to church,
and stealing off up into a quiet chamber to spoil good paper with
wretched scribbling to puzzle the eye of the dearest girl of all
the world. Well, you'll forgive the sin I hope. I know you will
if you have thought a tithe as much about me -- but you haven't
--as I have about you, the five or six days past,--and with a
pardon beaming from your -- I was a-going to say deep, and
then sweet, but no one adjective can describe it -- eye, I shall
feel a heathenish indifference as to any other forgiveness. For
"at this present," that eye has become to me, and I trust will
ever continue, "like a star in the mariner's heaven"--an eye
which is to give color, shape, and character to all my future
hopes, fancies, and "reveries." . . . .
To think that I am beginning to realize that revery [before the
glowing anthracite] ! To think that that lovely vision is an
actual, living, breathing being, and is loved by me, and loves in
return, and will one day be my bride--my abiding, forgiving,
trustful, loving wife--to make my happy home blessed indeed
with her cheerful smile and silver voice and warm true heart!
368 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
I don't know, Lucy dearest, what you think of it, but -- if I could
quote Tom Moore I would--
". . . if there be an Elysium of bliss
It is this,--it is this !"*
I thought when I began this letter I would talk only about
facts, persons, and such little bits of gossip as I have picked up
about our common friends and acquaintances here and at Dela-
ware, but behold I only talk of love, and tell you what I suppose
I shall tell you a million of times hereafter, how fast you are
becoming the "be-all and end-all" of my hopes, thoughts, affec-
tions, nay, existence. I was never of a melancholy turn of
thought or feeling. I should always have been selected, I think,
as one of the constitutionally happy. But really I begin to
suspect that I have never known much about living. Long be-
fore I thought the time had come to tell you of the warm feeling
that was nestling snugly in my heart, I had tried to form an
opinion of your sentiments towards me, and, to speak truly, I
always had a presentiment that Fate or Fortune, or Heaven
had linked our destinies together. Yet notwithstanding this
feeling, the being told so, the hearing it from your own lips, the
learning it from your own warmly clasped hand and granted
kiss, has made a happy fellow of me ever since. I can say with
a character in one of Milton's smaller poems,
"Such a home-felt delight
Such a sober certainty of waking bliss,
I never felt till now."
I feel that you will not only be the making of my happiness, but
also of my fortunes or success in life. The truth is I never
The quotation is from "Comus" and should read:
"And oh if there be an Elysium on earth,
It is this, it is this!"
*The quotation is from "Comus" and should read:
"But such a sacred and home-felt delight,
Such sober certainty of waking bliss,
I never felt till now."
WIDENING INTERESTS, CINCINNATI, 1851 369
did half try to be anything, or to do anything. There was no
motive--no "call," as you Methodists would say. I could be
respected, after a fashion, for the mere possession of certain
powers and acquirements without exercising them, and so I have
lived, not an idle, but a useless sort of life. Hereafter I hope
all that will be quite changed. Your position and happiness are
to depend on me, and no higher motive could now be named to
stimulate me to effort. Not that I am a-going all of a sudden
to become an ambitious schemer, struggling for a name, or an
avaricious dog, toiling for wealth. No, no. In the future as in
the past, happiness by quiet humble paths shall be the prize.
Only now I believe I shall have purpose and steadiness to keep
ever doing, looking to your happiness and approval as my best
reward. You will think me very egotistical to talk so much of
self and selfish motives, aims, and resolves; but, Lucy, I think
of these things and feel this way, and hereafter with you I mean
to think aloud and I wish you to do the same with me. If we are
to spend our lives with and for each other, the more intimately
and thoroughly we understand each other the better each will be
able to please the other.
I can not be vain enough to think that love will blind you to
my deficiencies and faults; but doubtless there are many which
I might remove or remedy if I could but fully know your
thoughts and tastes in regard to them. Some faults and im-
perfections we all have which cannot be got rid of; and with
such, sensible people will always cheerfully bear in those they
love; but I cannot help feeling surprise every day that friends
and lovers are not more true to their duties in aiding each other
in cultivating the graces of character and life which depend
more on education and habit than on the natural constitution.
Within certain limits the formation of character and manners,
tastes and disposition, is within our own control. If we do but
try--try heartily and cheerfully--we can be, for all the pur-
poses of every-day happiness, precisely what we would wish to
be. But I have sermonized too long even for a Sunday. If you
don't like such preaching, you must adopt my theory, and en-
deavor to break me of the habit. In future I am your pupil,
and if you do not form me to such character, tastes, and disposi-
370 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
tion, as will be congenial to your own, and make your life happy
with me, remember you must share in the responsibility.
Fanny noticed the ring on my finger and asked me where
I got it. I told her, when she replied, smiling archly, "I thought
it meant something." This is the only intimation I have given
as to what is what. Mrs. Dr. Little inquired particularly after
you, but I gave her no new light. Mrs. Solis too wanted to
have her eyes opened but I talked about Miss K- and hardly
said "Lucy" once. Nevertheless she rather suspects "rats," I
My old flame, Miss K--, was very inquisitive about that ring.
She was sure it was not worn without an object, I stoutly denied
all. Finally she said, "Give it to me." I said, "No, I will ex-
change," and took a ring from her finger which I knew her
"adored" had given her. She has bantered me a good deal, and
finally said I must bring you to see her when she came to Cin-
cinnati again. I promised to do so, if you would consent to
walk with me, "and then," she says, "I can tell." . . . .
Linton Pettibone's mother said she felt his death as "a judg-
ment" upon her, and suffered dreadfully in consequence. Miss
Wetmore died without hearing of Linton's suicide.
I hear that the two Agard girls -- your neighbors -- passed
themselves off in Indiana as deaf and dumb to excite sympathy
and get employment as seamstresses and scriveners. I don't
wonder they came to Cincinnati where they could use their
I shall go on north tomorrow without stopping at Delaware
as I intended. If you are to be in Springfield, you will write
me at Fremont, where I shall remain until the first of July.
There now, haven't I written you a long letter? If you are as
much puzzled with my pothooks and quail-tracks as some of
my friends have been you will have to wait till I return before
you know what I have written. You better try, however, to
spell it out. You must learn to read it sometime you know,
and for your consolation, I would remark that I can write a great
deal worse and not half try either!
So, Lucy, good-bye for a week or ten days longer. I think
WIDENING INTERESTS, CINCINNATI, 1851 371
of you constantly, and the more I think of you the deeper I am
in love with you. . . . .
Believe me faithfully yours,
MISS LUCY W. WEBB.
CINCINNATI, July 6, 1851.
DEAR UNCLE: -- I am again at home. . . . . I went with
Glenn over to our tract yesterday. The plank road is finished
to the creek from each direction which brings us right in town.
The bridge will be down shortly, and Glenn has so arranged it
as to make it ten feet lower than the former one and in other
respects better for our purposes. The whole affair gives an en-
tire new appearance to our property.
A letter from Guy tells me that Mrs. Perry, Eliza, and Stephen
are in Philadelphia and that he will come out to return with
them by the way of Ohio, in August or September probably.
R. B. HAYES.
July 9. -- Today asked if I would deliver a literary address
before one of the societies of Farmers' College. Would have
a great audience. Success would be a victory; failure, ruin.
Must think of it. If I do write, can I embody some of my
recent views on the comparative merit of the mechanical and
what are termed the "learned professions." The superiority of
material results over any other--not, of course, money-making
results, those I despise. Allude to the Fair at London. See
the last number of the Albion both for Bulwer's speech and the
other speech alluding to the same. The great literary lights,
what have they done for the substantial elevation of men? Not
writers, or talkers on benevolence, but the doers, the James H.
Perkinses, who are valuable. The making of books, a trade;
literature, a trade; law, theology, medicine. Look at the en-
gineer, the manufacturer, the farmer. Read the Lorgnette on
"Literary Lions," etc.
372 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
July 16.--P. M. Hot, hotter, hottest, and growing more so.
But there is a fine air stirring. My blood circulates healthfully.
I exercised an hour before dinner at the gymnasium, and feel
well, perfectly well. Am reading Ik Marvel's "Fresh Gleanings,"
--a pleasant book, dreamy and spirituelle, mixed with the spice
of close, homely observation; a good hash, served up with the
relish of pure, undefiled old English.
July 18.--Requested to deliver an address before the alumni
of Kenyon College two weeks from Wednesday. Should like
to do it if time and the weather would permit, but I can't get up
anything creditable and interesting when mind and body are
both debilitated by the excessive heat of these dog-days. If I
could start a vein or a flow, or even had a subject, I would at-
tempt it, but as it is I fear I must say them "nay."
It has been remarked, and the remark often repeated, that
there is no more affecting sight than a man seeking work, begging
for something to do. How would something of that sort do for
an opening to an address on the respective or relative dignity of
CINCINNATI, July 19, 1851.
DEAR UNCLE:--The young Mr. Wilder, who called on me
when you were here for a subscription to the Mill Creek bridge,
will probably sell to Glenn and myself five acres on his bottom
adjoining ours on the same terms upon which we bought the
other piece except that four or five thousand dollars must be
paid down instead of three thousand. There are especial reasons
operating with Wilder, who you know is a blockhead, which
impels him to make this offer, and which I need not mention.
The bargain is about as good a one as the former, and I would
like to share it if the thing can be done. It will not come to a
head under a couple of months if it does at all. What can be
done towards getting the money? . . .
I am invited to address one of the societies at Gambier the
first Wednesday in August. The time is too short to get up any-
thing creditable these sultry days and I shall decline, intimating
WIDENING INTERESTS, CINCINNATI, 1851 373
that another time on longer notice I would be pleased to comply
with the request. I may go to Gambier if money comes in fast
enough, and take Mother over from Delaware. . . .
R. B. HAYES.
July 23. -- City dull; clients scarce; bugs, mosquitoes, and ver-
min of all sorts plenty. Shall read in the forenoon the "States-
men of the Commonwealth." P. M. Examine questions. Why
this order? Simply, in the morning I can command my atten-
tion, but in the afternoon the stimulus of debate, a point to be
determined, is necessary to command my faculties these dog-days.
Commenced the "Statesmen," by John Forster, this morning.
Is there anything in which the people of this age and country
differ more from those of other lands and former times than
in this--their ability to preserve order and protect rights with-
out the aid of government? External, physical, forcible gov-
ernment is, viewed by the light of former ages, a marvel. We
are realizing the paradox, "that country is governed best which
is governed least." I no longer fear lynch law. Let the people
be intelligent and good, and I am not sure but their impulsive,
instinctive verdicts and sentences and executions, unchecked by
the rules and technicalities of law, are more likely to be accord-
ing to substantial justice than the decisions of courts and juries.
Thursday Morning, July 24.-- Have had a long talk with a
new acquaintance, one whom I have long admired in our club,
Dr. Warriner. He is what is usually thought or called a vision-
ary man; a Swedenborgian, a believer in clairvoyance, etc., but a
clear-minded, candid man, of a fine disposition, refined, cul-
tivated, and sensible. He says a German, by the aid of clairvoy-
ants, has discovered a subtle fluid, more subtle than electricity,
which pervades all things; is evolved from human beings, and is
the medium by [which] are communicated the sympathy, etc.,
which is preceived between persons. Dr. Reichenbach (also a
Mr. Gregory, of Edinboro,) writes and confirms the discovery.
374 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
He proves immortality by the reports of clairvoyants from the
I am fallen into the habit of using some profane words. It's
useless, vulgar, inexcusable, and perhaps is wicked. I must
CINCINNATI, July 26, 1851.
DEAR MOTHER: --You did not let me know in your last when
Fanny would start on the journey East. I expected her to leave
before this time. With the increased facilities for travelling, they
can hardly fail to enjoy the trip notwithstanding the number of
little folks, if they will only keep cool, be philosophical, and
not allow any small matters to fret them. They must expect to
lose a part of their "plunder" at every stopping place. This is
vastly vexatious, but with nurse girls and children it is to be
expected as much as the regular charges for travelling. I was
amused the other evening listening to the complaints of an excel-
lent old lady who had been to Kentucky caves with her family.
A few handkerchiefs, gloves, and a parasol left behind, lost, or
cabbaged, had entirely poisoned the pleasures of a trip which had
been anticipated for months and cost its two or three hundred
Jesse Stem returned from Texas yesterday. His health is not
very much improved. He will return with his family in the fall,
not permanently to reside but to see how they will be suited
with the country, society, and climate. He is not yet satisfied
that it is best for him and them to remove there. He saw a
good deal of frontier life, Comanches, etc.; among other dis-
coveries he found a tribe of undoubted cannibals living on the
upper waters of the Brazos--the river which flows by Guy
Bryan's home. Only four or five weeks ago he was in their
country. It seems strange to hear of such things, accustomed
as we are to regard them as very distant in place and far back
I heard from Uncle a few days ago. He is well pleased with
the settlement of his suit, thinks he has got more than he thought
he was getting at the time of the settlement. . . . .
WIDENING INTERESTS CINCINNATI, 1851 375
I do not expect to go to Gambier but may do so. . . . .
Lucy goes to Chillicothe by the way of Hillsboro. Write often.
R. B. HAYES.
MRS. SOPHIA HAYES.
Monday, July 28. -- Yesterday was the hottest day of the sea-
son. Today the eclipse, but too cloudy to be observed. It rains
but is still warm, warmer, hot.
Saturday evening, at the informal meeting [of the Club], Force
read a fine paper, witty, sensible, good. Force is a man.
P. M.-- My "dearly beloved" left the city this afternoon on
a visit to friends in the country. I do and shall feel quite lonely
without her. Pouring out one's thought and feelings into the
same kindly listening ear daily for a month, is enough to endear
the listener even without the aid of sex, beauty, and sweetness
to strengthen the tie. But when it is the apple of one's eye,
the guiding star, the beaming, lustrous face, the parting from
it is somewhat to make one sad. Not that I ordinarily have any
very strong or unusual feeling at what is termed the "parting
scene." I never do, if unsympathizing eyes behold it. I am as
cold in appearance and reality as they--not the eyes, but their
owners. But in a lonely parting I believe I feel as others do,
perhaps not so acutely. After it is over and the loved one gone,
then I feel the desolation, the heart-sinking, which belongs to
such events, sensibly and strong[ly] as any.
My loving, of course, grows with intercourse; but, what is bet-
ter for the permanency of the attachment, my good opinion, my
liking, gains with every day's acquaintance. I want to get nearer
to her mind. This was a difficulty I experienced before I had
fully fallen in love. It is much less now but still there is some-
thing of it. Her heart, her principle, her impulses are all good,
--good almost, perhaps humanly speaking, quite, to perfection.
Her mind too is a good one, better than I once thought, culti-
vated sufficiently by the study of school but not yet finished by
the better training of voluntary reading, conversation, and writ-
ing. Intercourse with the world will do this, joined to some
376 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
little encouragements from friends. She is now at that point
of intelligence and cultivation that a life spent with unintellect-
ual and uncultivated people would perhaps keep her at their
level, while the stimulus of higher association would raise her as
high as is desirable for any one. What kind of a schoolmaster
would I make? "Physician heal thyself" is a good old maxim,
and quite applicable to a sinner who neglects his own cultivation
as I do mine. Still to point such a charming pupil to the right
path, though too lazy or too weak to walk in it myself, is cer-
tainly no unpleasant task, possibly not a useless one. In such
company the search after intelligence and cultivation is
"Like a journey in the path to heaven."*
July 28 .--A cool rain. Change in the weather very
pleasant. Got "a shocking cold" (court-ing down in Tennessee).
Find a cold in summer more difficult to throw off than one taken
in the winter. Last night called on Mrs. George W. Jones.
Spent a pleasant evening with her and little Johnny. Called
also on Miss Clarinda Wright; ran over a great variety of topics.
Spent the forenoon looking back into the items connected with
Lucy in my diary, and thinking about her, and the great question
of "free will and fate." There is a difficulty about the matter
considered speculatively, in the abstract. Motives control the
will, but the motives we have no control of, etc. And yet we all
do know that the will is free to act as it will. How is this?
July 30. -- Fine weather-- the air cooled by the late rains.
Mem.:--Not to forget a good one on Dan and I. K. Seaman.
In August, 1846, John Plymer who lives in Virginia, five miles
south of Burlington, Ohio, lost two negroes. Plymer and John
Bromley of Wayne County, Virginia, pursued them into Ohio.
At Lower Sandusky they fell in with Dan Seaman. He told
them he had two negro boys he would sell to them, give them a
regular bill of sale and deliver them at Mr. Plymer's residence
in Virginia, in four days' time for four hundred dollars. That
he had a good close carriage, fast horses, etc. Could do it be-
*The quotation is from Milton's "Comus" and should read:
"It were a journey like the path to heaven."
WIDENING INTERESTS, CINCINNATI, 1851 377
cause he had done it; that his brother, I. K., at Woodville, had
the boys. Went out to Woodville and I. K. showed the boys to
Plymer and Bromley. -- Boys not taken as Plymer was con-
scientious about taking free negroes!
Thursday, July 31. -- Clear, cool, and bracing summer
weather. . . . . Read the rest of "Sir John Elliot's Life."
Died in the Tower, 1632, a victim to arbitrary power,--Charles
I and corrupt judges. Nothing very remarkable in his char-
acter, career, or fate. A learned, eloquent, constant man who
stood up to his duties and the responsibilities of his position
with unflinching courage. His style of writing and speaking,
like that of other eminent authors and orators of his time, was
too general and diffuse, with too little point and rhetoric, to
please modern taste. He was fond of classical quotations,
somewhat pedantic. In short, a good, brave man who bore well
his part as the Parlimentary leader of the liberal party.
Having read enough during afternoons on the metaphysical
dispute as to the will and "motives," I am a-going to sip a little
from Sterne's "Tristram Shandy," enough to learn at least the
manner of the thing, to test its qualities. One ought to read
these "of-course" books which everybody reads or claims to have
read, as "Don Quixote," which is good, "Gil Blas" which
ain't good, etc.
August 1, 1851.--Another delightful day. Heard Matson
make a good little speech at the Chippewa Club in favor of
General Scott for President in 1852.
CINCINNATI, August 4, 1851.
MY DEAR LUCY:--I feel very lonesome without you. Such
glorious moonlit evenings as we are now having only serve to
aggravate the feeling by contsantly reminding me of the happi-
ness your absence deprives me of. But I suppose I must phi-
losophize, as Mother always does in such circumstance: "It is
probably all for the best." I shall be the better able to appre-
ciate your society by being for a time "all alone by myself."
I am passing time, saving your absence, pretty much as usual.
378 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
I read a little, work a little, gossip a little, and sleep a good
deal. Only think that God's "reasonable creatures" devote full
one-third of their precious existence to the divine institution
The last three nights I have been sitting up with a friend
who is sick with a dysentery--not exactly my friend either, but
a very clever man, whose claim on me is based upon the fact
that he is a friend to divers of my uncles and aunts, and came
from the same old rookery of a village in Vermont which used
to shelter my father and mother "in days of auld lang syne,"
a sort of friendship that I have fallen heir to--a part of my
patrimony, not an estate that would rate high "on 'Change," yet
still it is one that I mustn't neglect. And, Lucy, what think ye
leads me to chat of this? Why simply to tell you of, and thank
you for, the assistance you were so good as to lend me in whiling
away the long and tedious watches of the night--those in-
terminable hours spent in a dimly lighted chamber fanning away
mosquitoes, administering cool drinks, and moistening with a
sponge the sick man's brow, were not so cheerless and gloomy
by half, or (to be arithmetically accurate in my fractions) five-
eights, as they would have been, if I had not in imagination had
you present, not precisely to hold a tete-a-tete with, but to "see
in my mind's eye" and to give direction and a subject to all the
shifting currents of my fancies. I have spent several of the small
hours of the night meditating about you, and about your many
and manifold perfections, the happiness already enjoyed, and
the still greater happiness which Providence has in store for us,
all by reason of a few accidental circumstances which com-
menced and have thus far continued our acquaintance without
any agency or contrivance of our own. Thinking in this way
led of course to a review in my own mind of all I could recollect
of you from the time I saw you in Delaware until now; and this
review led me to turn over the leaves of a very worthless volume
or two of which I am the author -- not yet published nor intended
for publication--and I there found what I shall here set down,
not because it is anything very fine, but hoping merely that it
will interest you as much as anything else which I am likely to
write in the nerveless and lazy humor which this warm afternoon
WIDENING INTERESTS, CINCINNATI, 1851 379
brings on me. I will give you each extract verbatim et punctuatim
et literatim et spellatim, and add such notes by way of com-
mentary as are suggested by the text.
The first mention I find of you in my diary is Vol. 1, p. 109:
--"July 8, 1847.-- Visited Delaware with Mother and Laura.
Attended a Sons of Temperance celebration; saw Miss L. Webb
and left for home next morning." Nothing very much like love
in that. Still it wouldn't have been written if I hadn't heard a
good deal about you from Mrs. Lamb, Hatty Solis, etc. I re-
member I thought you a bright, sunny-hearted little girl, not
quite old enough to fall in love with, and so I didn't. After this
I saw you no more for over three years. I occasionally heard of
you and thought I would manage to see you sometime. I knew
you were in Cincinnati when I made up my mind to come here
and made particular inquiries as to your whereabouts. Heard
it conjectured that you were engaged and all that, but made up
my mind to see you. . . . . But this is probably growing
tedious to you so I drop the subject merely quoting:
* * * * * * * * "for several virtues
Have I liked several women; never any
With so full soul, but some defect in her
Did quarrel with the noblest grace she owed,
And put it to the foil: but you, O you,
So perfect and so peerless, are created
Of every creature's best!"*
You of course will not feel too much flattered by these stolen
scraps of compliments, for though I most potently believe them
true; yet you, as a sensible girl (which you are), will think them
only the extravagance of a happy lover too much intoxicated
with his fortunes to be good authority on points of character.
I have noticed a number of heresies as to matters of love which
I propose to discuss with you. I think between us we can get
at the true orthodox doctrines on this subject. Emerson says:
"The accepted lover has lost the wildest charm of his maiden in
her acceptance of him. She was heaven whilst he pursued her
as a star: she cannot be heaven if she stoops to such a one
*Shakespeare, "The Tempest," III: i.
380 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
as he." This it seems to me is rank heresy. Instead of losing,
the "accepted" lover gains the wildest charm. Before, the star
was distant, cold, its heaven unappreciated and not understood;
--distance lends no enchantment but coldness rather. Mr. Em-
erson don't know anything. Talk about stars in heaven when
your sweetheart is leaning on your arm and her hand clasped
lovingly in yours!-- A man in love sees no stars at all com-
parable to his maiden's eyes. He knows no heaven more bliss-
ful than the certainty of her affection. Old Mr. Gregory, in his
wisdom, lectures his daughters, and tells them never to show as
much feeling as they have towards their lovers--no, nor even
towards their husbands when married. Pshaw! I should fear
that the feeling didn't exist if not shown. It is the people who
warm towards one in manner and words who are usually ardent
MISS LUCY L. WEBB.
August 8. --Brougham in his speech on the present state of
the law (1828) speaks of cases of long standing as "chronic
CINCINNATI, August 10, 1851.
DEAREST LUCY:--This is a Sunday morning, as fine a one as
the sun ever shone upon, and but for a determination I have
been rolling over in my mind for a week past to write to you
this morning (in case a letter from you did not induce me to
do so sooner), I would now be whirling out to the Duck Creek
camp-meeting, no very holy occupation in my case at least, where
the whole city has gone, or is going, to spend the -- as the
Puritans call it --Sabbath.
I have always thought in regard to my friendly correspondents
that whenever it becomes necessary to fill up the first page of a
letter with excuses for not writing sooner, or blaming and ac-
cusing of neglect the friend you are writing to, it was time the
correspondence should cease. I take it for granted that a friend
has a good enough reason for any apparent neglect in this re-
WIDENING INTERESTS, CINCINNATI, 1851 381
spect, and, of course, I shall not be more exacting with the one
I love best of all the world than I am with an ordinary friend.
Yet I have seen so much difficulty--the current of true love
so often disturbed by misunderstandings arising out of real or
fancied neglect in correspondence--that I think we ought to
know exactly each other's wishes and feelings on this subject.
I will give you mine: -- When we are separated, I want to hear
from you just as often as you can, without great inconvenience,
write to me, and though I am very fond of long, very long,
letters, I shall be satisfied even if they are as brief as that shortest
verse in the Bible, "Jesus wept." And especially whenever you
change your place of tarrying, or plans of travel,- and women
do change their minds occasionally, -- you must "give me a note
of it," so I may always know where you probably are and what
you are doing. There is pleasure even in that. I can visit you
in imagination (a very unsatisfactory sort of visit, I grant you,)
and sympathize with you, but when you are off "skylarking"
about, I know not where, it puzzles me. I do not know how to
get up a revery about you. I can't give it "a local habitation."
In case of such a change of place you mustn't be punctilious and
not write because I happen to owe you a reply to your last, but
be generous and double the debt. Now, this is all reasonable, is
it not? I'll promise to deal this way by you.
And now excuse a word as to present matters. I did expect
most confidently to hear from you while you were at Colum-
bus. I couldn't tell where to write to you. You might be in
Delaware, still at Columbus, or at Chillicothe. I should certainly
have written you a week ago if I had not been sure of hearing
from you first. But I make no complaints. I know your aver-
sion to putting pen on paper, one which you will, I feel sure,
overcome one of these days, and what is better, I feel sure that
your heart is in the right place whatever your fingers may be
doing. . . .
A friend from Fremont has been down here "spying out" a
faithless damsel who after an engagement of a twelvemonth
dropped him for a gay beau of the city. He brought down a
cord of letters, presents of jewelry, books, and "kickshaws" to
exchange for those he had given her, in case he failed to awaken
382 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
once more the first love. Being his only acquaintance, I was, of
course, his confidant, had the perusal of the correspondence. It
was a very warm one I assure you. I don't wonder it burnt out
speedily. I got one good idea. On the morning of his birth-
day, the 22d, she, instead of beating him twenty-two blows, gave
him as many sweet kisses. I shall be entitled to somewhat more!
and if I were with you on the 28th (or is it the 18th?) I would
see to it that you received your nineteen (as they say of the cat-o'-
nine-tails on shipboard) "well laid on."
Well, my friend failed -- exchanged trinkets, and went home
"a sadder and a wiser man." And she is a pious (seemingly),
sensible girl. Oh, you women! you do raise Ned sometimes
with a man's hopes and calculations, if all that's said of ye is
half true. But then I say to myself: "Thank heaven, my be-
loved is all truth and heart-as reliable as she is lovable. Neither
doubt nor fear, suspicion nor jealousy can enter my thoughts
when my meditations are of her."
I had a long chat with your mother the other evening and told
her what I had been saying to her daughter. She told me she
hardly believed you when you mentioned it first, that she thought
she had you very secure for a great while yet, could not think
of losing you, would keep you four (!) or five (!) years yet. I
told her I was in no situation to hasten matters, that no doubt
it could all be arranged very satisfactorily when the time came.
A very excellent mother that is of yours, and she thinks her
daughter a very precious bit of humanity, in which opinion I,
somehow or other, happen most heartily to concur.
I heard from Fanny a week ago. She had reached Buffalo
very safely and happily with all her little flock. Her "rooted
sorrow" still tinges with its melancholy hue her happiest mo-
ments. I have yet to receive a letter of any length in which she
does not allude to her sore affliction. She says in the last: "I
think of the present and the absent--of mother and you and
Willie -- our own dear Willie -- with mingled emotions." I
hope she is now enjoying the delightful air and scenery of that
loveliest of towns--Burlington, Vermont.
One lazy afternoon early last week I thought I would write
you, albeit you seemed to forget me, and wrote you the long,
WIDENING INTERESTS, CINCINNATI, 1851 383
slovenly letter enclosed herewith. I doubt your ability "to do
them into English," as our Greek professor called translating,
but you are at leisure, I suppose, and can afford to tax your eyes
on my scrawls now better than any other time.
One thing, Lucy, dear, don't be perverse but make my heart
glad by sending me (a good long one I'd prefer) a reply about
the quickest. I know you would do it if you knew how I have
felt at your not writing before. Tell me anything -- everything,
how you feel. Let me see your heart. God knows I love you
as my life, and shall ever.
MISS LUCY W. WEBB.
August 12. -- Sunday, the 10th, mailed a pair of letters to L-;
shall look for an answer by Thursday or Friday.
Today saw Mr. Gano, my Odd Fellow friend, of Sharon. Am
invited to the dinner, etc., of "Rose of Sharon Lodge" on the 3rd
Today received a letter from Mother and another from Fanny.
Fanny is in raptures with Jenny Lind whom she heard at Buffalo.
Have seen no more enthusiastic description of the angel than
Fanny's. The death of Willie, or rather Willie lost, is still in
August 13. -- Finished Sterne's "Tristram Shandy" yesterday.
An amusing book, it seems to me not a great one. Sterne's fame
rests upon it. "Tom Jones," "Gil Blas," "Don Quixote," etc.,
are none of them books which I like. "Don Quixote" is by far
the best. The rest are bawdy, show great knowledge of human
nature in its lower developments, but [are] not great, pure, high,
eloquent, or holy. One thinks less hopefully of man and woman
after reading them. I am now attacking the "Sentimental Jour-
ney," another of the same ilk.
August 14, 1851. -- Spent the afternoon with a recent graduate
of Kenyon, L. S. Lodell, of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Attended
a convention of the Free Democracy. Heard speeches from
384 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
Sam Lewis, S. P. Chase, etc. Lewis is an "uncut diamond";
with a rough exterior and style of address, there is a great
deal of real strength. Chase speaks without much power, very
pure, forcible English, but unimpassioned and spiritless. His lan-
guage is not unlike Webster's. He appeared embarrassed and
awkward, lisped slightly. Not by any means so good a speaker
as I expected to find him.
CINCINNATI, August 16, 1851.
DEAR UNCLE:--Enclosed I send you a letter from Laura
[Platt] to Mother. It is very like a logbook, no reflections, no
raptures, simply facts. Not a single exclamation point even at
Niagara, but while her mother and father were up in the observa-
tory looking at the falls she was looking at "some birds" and
a beast with "two heads"! Let Mother, if she will, send me
back the letter. You know I have Grandmother Hayes' habit of
saving all such curiosities. . . .
I want to go to the State Fair in Kentucky at Lexington. You
may go along if you will furnish funds. It will be delightful. See
old Hal [Henry Clay] and all the other famous Kentuckians, their
horses, cattle, and hemp; also father Beatty, and your friend, Mr.
Boswell. The crazy man we saw in Brazora, "Cold Huckleberry
Pudding," will show us the hospitality of a corn-cracker at his
S. BIRCHARD. R. B. HAYES.
August 16.--Finished Sterne today. Witty, clever, slipshod,
loose. His "Sentimental Journey" is too bawdy for our times.
I feel that I have read too much light reading, too little that is
useful, instructive, solid, of late. I must gird up my mental
habits, become more energetic by tough reading. Let my lightest
for a time be biographies and miscellanies, such as Channing or
the Statesmen of Cromwell's time.
Not heard from L- yet, the "perverse" little angel! Do
not know where she is even. Her mother is equally in the dark.
I must school her a trifle in this thing of letter writing. She
WIDENING INTERESTS, CINCINNATI, 1851 385
thinks it a horrible task, little less than martyrdom, while I do
not doubt that if the imagination was right, she would write as
easily as most women. I did feel vexed about it, but am clear of
that feeling now.
I have commenced the "Life, etc., of Wm. E. Channing." A
beautiful life it is. I must prepare as fine a summary [as pos-
sible] of his virtues and fine qualities to point his noble eulogy
of my candidate for the Presidency, in case I shall be called to
speak for him from the stump,--General Scott.
August 18.--Rain last evening, cool and cloudy today. Sat-
urday evening debated the question "Whether Christ Revealed
Any New Truth." Stated by the negative that various nations
had just notions of a God; that the Pharisees believed in the
immortality of the soul, future rewards, etc., resurrection, and
final judgment; that most of the system of government, laws,
etc., of Moses were taken from Egypt; that the Essenes asserted
and practiced all those fine moral precepts which Christ pro-
claimed--proved by Josephus, etc.
If there was a time when Channing first became a Christian,
it was when he went out into the meadow north of Judge Dana's
and felt as if he passed through a new spiritual birth. His
thoughts turned to the female sex, that they ruled the world, and
if they were right all would be fitly arranged. "I sat down," says
he, "and wrote to this lady" (then but fifteen years of age),
laying his hand upon his wife's arm, "but I never got courage to
send the letter, and have it yet"! A young and true lover.
"In my view, religion is but another name for happiness, and I
am most cheerful when I am most religious." "Happiness is
another name for love," etc.
What a pure, good man, so spiritual and spotless, Dr. Chan-
ning was. If I am ever to be a religious being, it must be with
a faith not unlike his. The gloomy theology of the orthodox-
the Calvinists--I do not, I cannot believe. Many of the notions
--nay, most of the notions--which orthodox people have of the
divinity of the Bible, I disbelieve. I am so nearly infidel in all
my views, that, too, in spite of my wishes, that none but the most
liberal doctrines can command my assent. Dr. Channing de-
scribes the effect which some of the terror-striking dogmas pro-
386 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
nounced [by] a positive Calvinist had upon his feelings. "This
can't be true," thought he. "If it were, all cheerfulness would be
ended." But his religious uncle said, "sound doctrine, all
sound"; went home, took off his coat, and began to read a news-
paper and talk politics. He [Channing] then thought, this
[doctrine] is practically disbelieved; and here began those re-
flections which ultimately led him to that catholic liberality of
religious belief which in his after life he preached.
No word from L--yet. Don't even know where
is. Oh, the perverseness of these "young wimmin"!
August 19.-- Cold, wet, dark. Bones aching, spirits breaking.
Slept tolerably well; dreamed John W. Andrews and myself
were defending the Michigan gang of conspirators at Delaware.
I made a long, loud, impassioned, and it seemed to me, able
speech (opening the defense before the testimony was brought
forward) deprecating prejudice, passion, etc., closing by ex-
pressing my confidence that we should show the innocence of the
accused, that we had no fears of the result, and capping my last
"The minds we sway by and the hearts we bear
Shall never sink with doubt nor shake with fear."
Thought Andrews complimented me on the speech. Listened
to his speech attentively, thought it good, but that with practice
I could equal it.
August 20.--Just returned from Newport, where I attended
the wedding of Miss Keturah ("Coo") Tibbotts, daughter of
Colonel John W., to a Mr. Hodge, of Maysville. The first
Kentucky gathering I have seen. Gay, free, noisy, drinky. All
sorts of people, dressed in all sorts of ways. Tall men numerous.
The ceremony was performed by Dr. Rice, Presbyterian. Miss
Cary Ellis one of the bridesmaids, Miss McRae another. After
the "let no man put asunder," the kissing, and congratulating were
over, cake and wine were brought in. Then refreshments for the
democracy, alias, males, in the garden; a long table with cold
ham, bread, cake, watermelons, cantaloups, wines, and brandy.
In the rooms below, for the gentry, the usual fixin's of such oc-
WIDENING INTERESTS, CINCINNATI, 1851 387
casions. Ceremony performed at 10:30 or 11 A. M., and home
by 1 P. M., friend McDowell's frisky mare to the contrary not-
Now a few words of piety, purity, and spirituality from Chan-
ning by way of sauce to all this worldliness.
By the by-------has written her friends but not me; will
give her fits when seen. See if I don't.
August 21.--Letter number one from L-----received this
morning and answered at once. What a spirit-rouser such an
event is--your first letter from your sweetheart, your only sweet-
heart, the one who is to make smooth the rough passages of life.
A good one, too, for all her modesty and trembling.
I shall probably be called upon to give a lecture soon to our
lodge. I will try to throw together a few good notions on the
true character, or the best character, in everyday life-acting
in ordinary circumstances under the influence of common mo-
tives. I may entitle it "The True Odd Fellow." My ideal of
one, etc. Gather and quote from Channing for purity and good-
ness; [from] Ik Marvel for manners, etc., and [from] Shake-
speare and Burns and Milton for embellishment.
CINCINNATI, August 21, 1851.
DEAREST:--. . . . I was made happy--very--by get-
ting your letter; mailed yesterday (only think of that), about
twenty minutes ago. And you talk about not writing letters,
being a pupil, and all that. But I will not speak the truth for
fear you may begin to think your letters, as well as yourself,
of too great "importance," and so fancy that one of yours is
worth several of mine. I don't deny but your one gives me more
pleasure than a good many others I have had; still I must insist
upon "turn about" as fair play. I will hereafter, as now, reply
to yours as soon after I receive them as possible. May you
imitate my example! Don't wait to write long ones, if the in-
terruptions are likely to postpone them. I am not in the habit
of scolding any of my correspondents (least of all, shall I you)
about the way they perform their share; but if I did get out of
388 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
humor it would be more likely to be for the infrequency rather
than the brevity of their letters.
I call to see your mother often. She is getting quite out of
patience with your long silence. Judging by all I hear, you are
of "some importance" in that quarter. You have quite finished
the conquest (if it were as yet unfinished) of your friends, the
Warrens, by writing them. . . . .
Fanny is enjoying her trip vastly; was at Burlington, Vermont,
when last heard from. She attended one of Jenny Lind's con-
certs at Buffalo and was bewitched with her as much so as any
one could possibly be. I do regret that you did not hear her.
It is rumored that she is to make another tour through this
country with a large opera troupe of her own selection. If true,
your chance is good yet.
I yesterday attended the wedding of Miss Coo Tibbotts and a
fine-looking, near-sighted, somewhat deaf, young lawyer from
Maysville--Mr. Hodge. It was a morning wedding, the rooms
darkened by shutting out heaven's light and illuminated by the
aid of cotton and the essence of whale's blubber. This is after
the New York fashionable soirees called in French, I believe
"matinees." The effect was agreeable, the party a great one,
gay, lively, talky, uproarious, all-togethery, and I fear with many,
drunken. But a very fine gathering, all in all.
I want very much to see the best part of Kentucky, her produc-
tions and people, and would like if possible to go to the State
Fair at Lexington next month; shall go if "the sign" is right.
My friend John McDowell wants to go, having an old (or
young) flame in that quarter; but this is all uncertain as yet.
To drive dull care away, I have filled up my leisure hours
reading (when not thinking of you) Sterne's works, the "Life,
etc., of Tristram Shandy" and the "Sentimental Journey." This
Mr. Sterne was a clergyman, witty and a shrewd observer of the
worst parts of human nature. Such funny, dirty, worthless
trash as delighted the good old times in which he wrote, would
now not be tolerated in decent society, except as picturing to
one the manners of the olden time. And yet, in the classic age
of English literature, a clergyman could write these books with-
out serious damage to his reputation. When I see the immeasur-
WIDENING INTERESTS, CINCINNATI, 1851 389
able changes which a century or two have produced, it gives me
heart to throw my little efforts in favor of the good projects of
the age, however slow their apparent progress. Nothing great
is accomplished in a day, but gradually the strong hours conquer
I have read another book--not yet finished--calculated to
fill one with hope, "The Life and Works of Dr. Channing." The
doctor may be in error as to some doctrinal points, but the great
features of his system are founded on the rock of truth. If
ever I am made a Christian, it will be under the influence of views
like his. He says the test of Christianity is the state of the heart
and affections, not the state of a man's intellectual belief. If a
man feels the humility becoming one prone to sinfulness, looks
above for assistance, repents of what he does that is wrong, as-
pires to purity of intention and correctness of conduct in all the
relations of life, such a man is a Christian for he adopts the
spirit of Christ's teaching and imitates His example; this too in
spite of his faith, whether it be Calvinistic, Unitarian, Universal-
ist, or Papist. That I can comprehend. The half of the ortho-
dox creeds, I don't understand and can't fully believe.
When you feel lonely hereafter on a gloomy country summer
Sunday, I would prescribe writing to your humble servant as a
sovereign remedy. Just take up a pen, no matter how wretched
a one, dip it into the ink, never mind its color or "consistency"
(that's a word they use in speaking of glue), and write right on.
Write the blues or your sorrows, your hopes or your fears, facts
or fancies, fold up the sheet or sheets and mail them to me.
They will find a willing reader, they will go to a sympathizing
heart, one whose every pulsation will, if that be possible, be in
harmony with your own. If there be one person in the world to
whom I would unbosom my thoughts, my feelings, even my
weaknesses and failings, that person is yourself. Nay more, I
believe now I could open to you any part of my own nature
which I dare to look upon myself. For sooner or later it must
all be known to you; and the more that is known of a true heart
the better will a true heart love it. This proves the fallacy of
Emerson's notion that the charm of the maiden is gone when her
consent is known. For until that consent is known the lovers are
390 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
both in some sense playing a game of deceit. Each wishes to
conceal from the other supposed defects of whatever sort. But
after the word is spoken and the spirit of genuine trustfulness
awakened, then the discovery of trifling spots which do not reach
the soul's purity is no longer to be dreaded. It only endears the
loved one the more. There is a positive happiness in having
something to overlook, to forgive, to set off against one's own
shortcomings. To be linked to a perfect being in every sense
would not be an equal and therefore not a happy union.
I can speak of your perfections and not exaggerate. Such, so
great, and so many are the substantial and sterling qualities you
own, that whatever defects there may be are dwarfed by them,
like spots on the sun lost in the surrounding brightness. I do
not fear the growth of your self-esteem or I might, as you ad-
vise me, be guarded in the expression of my sentiments and feel-
ings; but if you have any failing it is the lack of a rational self-
confidence in small matters. In important things I do not doubt
that your fine sense of duty will always overcome easily any of
those modest misgivings which sometimes annoy you; but these
trifles with which conscience, duty, and good sense have very
little to do, such as writing letters for example, you will, I am
led to suppose, sometimes neglect from a sensitive shrinking
you feel lest they should not be as well done as you think they
ought to be done, or, as you suspect, may perhaps be anticipated.
Now, it don't need me to tell you that so far as the probability
of your succeeding goes, this apprehension is all moonshine;
but the feeling which you have is a substantial reality, and it can
only be conquered by what Miss Tox calls (in "Dombey and
Son") "an effort," that is to say, by doing the thing you dread
to do until the feeling leaves you.
Take the example, letter-writing. Write away, hit or miss.
If the sentence or the page or the letter suits you, very well. If
you find it has mistakes, don't burn or blot; send it as it is
"with all its imperfections on its head." If you have correspond-
ents whose eyes are keen and greedy to fall upon blemishes, like
beasts of prey upon their victims, why, drop the correspondence
in tot in toto, or let your letters be "like angels' visits"; but if you
have a friend who cares not a straw what is written, or how it is
WIDENING INTERESTS, CINCINNATI, 1851 391
written, so that Lucy writes it, why, practice on her or him until
habits of composing are formed which prevent inaccuracies, or,
better still, a self-confidence which in your case would be a
cure-all. And if there is no such friend male or female, who
possesses eyes so catholic and so charitable, you have, Lucy, the
address of a lover whose affection is a mantle broad enough to
cover and conceal whatever there may be which persons less
deeply interested might feel inclined to criticize and expose. Of
course, I do not tell you all this because I discover in your letter
any ground for the dread you seem to have of ill-natured or
even good-natured criticism; for, indeed, I think you write with
a great deal of ease so far as expression goes, and this is the
merit of letter-writing; and if the manual exercise of writing
is irksome, why, the best thing I can say is write carelessly.
Don't think of the looks, or whether it can be read. It is of
importance to write without effort. No fears of your writing
what I can't read, and that is a higher compliment than you
can pay me.
Well, Lucy, Mother Lamb did perhaps do us a great service.
I am glad you couldn't call her "old," but I rather guess that
Heaven had the matter in hand also. I felt quite as melancholy
as you could after you left, not that I had your gloomy fore-
bodings. I always in such cases look forward to happy meet-
ings. I have given you a task of "translating"-- would give you
more if I had time before the mail closes. Write, write. My
heart is with you, "For where the [your] treasure is, there will
the [your] heart be also."
Miss Lucy W. WEBB.
August 26.--Yesterday sent five pieces of music to L--,
as a sort of birthday present, the only thing I could send by mail
conveniently. Nineteen the 28th. God bless you!
.... Sunday, received a call from my old college class-
mate, Lorin Andrews. He stood first among us as a student,
ambitious, enthusiastic, hopeful, with great industry, a capacity to
acquire easily. He yet never seemed to have unusual powers
392 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
of mind, and now I feel sure has not. His hobby now is common
schools. He is traversing the State, lecturing, organizing teach-
ers' associations, and aiding in various ways the work.
CINCINNATI, August 27, 1851.
DEAR UNCLE: - The State Fair in Kentucky is on the 9th of
September at Lexington. There will also be a great fair almost
equal to the State Fair at Paris, Bourbon County, the week fol-
lowing. So eminent an agriculturist, both practically and scien-
tifically, as you are will of course be treated with distinguished
consideration on such an occasion! Ahem! As for the company,
that will of itself secure you a welcome reception in all the
polite circles of the elite of Kentucky aristocracy ! Ahem, again
On the 8th we are to have a grand turnout, etc., etc., of fire-
men from all quarters. A spree that is repeated only once in
four years, so, of course, it will be a grand one.
Have you seen the article in the Tribune on Presidential nomi-
nations? If not, get it at once. It is in the Daily Tribune of the
23d and will be in the weekly of the 30th. The letters of dis-
tinguished political wire-workers are more interesting than any-
thing of the kind that has appeared, not excepting Ben Butler's
and John Van Buren's correspondence published a few years
ago. This exposure will kill the chances of Sam Houston if his
competitors choose to use it. He is laid out cold as a wedge.
Read it. You will laugh. My congratulations to Otis. [I] sup-
pose of course he will be elected. How happens it that Horace E.
Clarke beats Homer? It sounds queer, very. . . . .
As to this fair business, don't come unless you feel like it.
I think you will enjoy it. I have no doubt we can arrange it so
as to get quarters undisturbed by the crowd. I have had divers
propositions on the subject. . . . .
Can't you get a few sensible Democrats like Coles, Pease (not
very sensible on politics,) Glick, etc., to scratch off from the
Loco ticket such hard cases as John Corwin, another Judge
Read in morals, habits, etc., etc., and such a bigot as Tom Bart-
ley? I think they will both be beaten by Storer and Andrews
since the Free Soilers have nominated them. Thurman on the
WIDENING INTERESTS, CINCINNATI, 1851 393
Loco ticket is a good man and a good lawyer. I will vote for
him in preference to either Converse or Way.
Love to Mother and the kin.
R. B. HAYES.
Saturday, August 30.--Not a word from L--. Really
peeved [?] again. Wish [she] were here; getting lonesome
again these fine evenings.
Have spent the last two days in thinking about politics, attend-
ing ward and county meetings. Have learned but little. Tried
my powers as a talker in a little speech in the County Temperance
Convention. The question was on organizing a temperance party.
I earnestly opposed it. Found it an easy thing to speak in such
bodies. The thing is energy, brevity, and sound positions, clear-
ness in argument, and control of temper. A very little joking may
do, enough to show one's good nature and give an impression of
cleverness (in the American sense) is well; but any more fun-
making than this does not succeed in such businesslike bodies.
The question was decided against my views, the political tem-
perance men having packed the convention "to order." It will,
I think, prove a very disastrous step. The Loco meeting was
boisterous but respectable after all. The Cuban meeting was large
but cold, composed of unsympathizing spectators, not people ex-
cited and indignant.
CINCINNATI, September 9, 1851.
DEAR Lu:--This is the day of the great parade of the fire-
men, and yet so self-denying and devoted is my affection for you,
that I willingly give up the ecstatic bliss of "running with the
machine," to reply to your long looked-for letter of the 5th,
received yesterday. I hope you will duly appreciate the sacrifice
(?) I am making and evince your gratitude by your works.
Your letter came just in time to turn away the pent-up wrath
which had been gathering for a fortnight. You have no notion
how naughty I was beginning to feel towards you. A few days
394 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
more and I should, perhaps, have been wicked enough to have
written you a stream of scorching and withering talk that would
have been quite harrowing to my feelings to write, and to yours
to read; but now the blood-red wrathful sun has gone down,
the stars have risen and the night is holy! Excuse me if I read
you my lectures too often, but I must give you "line upon line"
until the end I am bent upon attaining is reached. If your cour-
age oozes out (not upon your paper) before your letters get
their growth send me the dwarfs. I prefer an unfinished half
page in three days to four sides filled and crossed after a delay
of two or three weeks. As a matter of habit, I think it would
be better for you to make up your mind when you take your
pen that you will write only a very short letter and finish and mail
it at once. You will soon find your epistles growing, in spite of
I have always thought letter-writing one of the most important
branches of a young lady's education. Next to the cheerful
manners and presence which can shed, as it were magnetically,
happiness around the home circle, I know of no power more
valuable than that by which we are made for a moment to feel
the real presence of loved ones absent. The sunbeam quality
(and to have an idea of the high estimate I place upon this en-
livening, inspiring, happifying influence, you ought to read Mrs.
Hemans' beautiful little poem "The Sunbeam"), as I have told
you many a time, and shall probably repeat a thousand times
more, you possess beyond any woman I ever knew. A real
angel it makes of you. If your other charms were a thousand-
fold less than they are, this evidence, which can't be counterfeited,
of a good true heart within would fill me with an eager longing
to fold you to my bosom as my cherished ideal of whatever I
could most enjoy or hope for in a companion for life. This
magnetism no man or woman can write or print upon a cold
page. Yet we can by frequent practice--careless, easy practice
--almost acquire this power. You can, to as good a degree as
any one, I feel sure. I can see you all through your letter, even
down to the modest good-bye, where you ask me to "think as
kindly of you as David did of Dora." Think kindly of you?
WIDENING INTERESTS, CINCINNATI, 1851 395
Aye! until all good angels leave me I shall think more kindly of
you than any David ever did of any Dora. But the comparison
is not to you a just one. You are as far above Dora in all that
makes a woman as I am below the original David (Dickens) in
whatever makes an author. So, dearest, don't fancy yourself a
Dora. If you must compare yourself with others, let it be with
Agnes, or Carry*, or Phoebe even; though I would not exchange
my Lucy for either one of them, or for the charms of all united
in one. Don't think me too extravagant. I never thought you a
"Miss Perfection," but take you for all in all you are such an one
as I love to think of, talk of, to write to, to talk to, to be near,
to live with; and so as I can talk about you to almost nobody
else, here I am pouring myself into your ears, and wishing that
you may love me as well as I do you, and wondering if you ever
will. A truce to this sort of talk, if I don't run into it again.
And now a little gossip . . . . .
I went to two Daguerrean galleries intending to have my
features done onto plate, but could think of no way of sending it,
or you would have had another birthday gift. I accordingly
mailed you some music, forgetting at the moment (such is my
ignorance of such things) that piano music may not be adapted
to a guitar.
I "assisted" Mr. Doughty to get into the well of matrimony
with Miss Fingland last week, Wednesday. I was partnered
with Miss Mitchell, and got up quite an agreeable acquaintance
with her. She is a very considerable woman, very. I spent the
afternoon and morning very pleasantly with her, saw many of
you Methodist brethern and sistren at the wedding. Miss Noble
and a cousin from Brookville were there. The cousin (a Miss
T--something) was teased incessantly about Mr. Herron--with
what grounds I do not know. . . . .
Mrs. Warren is not the only one who will be exceedingly glad
to see Miss Lucy Webb. I do not wish to take you from the
country, where I am pleased to hear you are getting almost fat.
I wish you might. Yet these moonlight nights seem wasted, lost,
and lonesome without you.
*A charming character in "Reveries of a Bachelor."
396 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
Will Telfair is just in to get me to go see the parade. So, a
loving good-bye. Write soon. Do, Lucy dearest.
Miss Lucy W. WEBB.
September 10, 1851.-The Firemen's parade with its scarlet,
gilding, paint, banners, arches, music, procession, balls, dinners,
cannon, rockets, "noise and confusion," passed off pleasantly
September 11.--Attended the wedding party of Miss Augusta
Lewis and Mr. Lindsay (or Lindsley), at Newport, last evening.
The ceremony was performed in the Methodist church. Went
over with the relations by invitation of Miss Lewis. Spent the
evening pleasantly and returned about 10:30 P. M. Good party
season. By the way is the phrase "in good season" correct?
Tod's W. and S. ["Words and Synonyms"] says season means
"a fit time." You are here "in good time" is like it; perhaps not
strictly correct but common.
Today finished the Works, or Life, rather, of William Ellery
Channing. The Life [of] one of the noblest, purest men who
ever lived. His Life here shows less of his private, personal,
domestic character and feeling that it ought. Do not great
men neglect --
September 12. - Hottest weather of the season. Roasting
weather since the first of the month. Can't "do any good." Must
read "Yeast," by the author [Charles Kingsley] of "Alton
CINCINNATI, September 19, 1851.
DEAREST: -I have just heard of the return to Columbus of
Mother and the rest of the family, and am now meditating in-
flicting my presence upon them tomorrow, Saturday, afternoon,
with the intention of continuing the punishment through the
whole or greater part of next week. I therefore write you that
you may not be in ignorance of my whereabouts, and make that
WIDENING INTERESTS, CINCINNATI, 1851 397
an excuse, in addition to the thousand and one others you are
in the habit of making, for not remembering to write me. I
sometimes begin to think you forgetful, negligent, naughty, and
unloving, and con over the bitter things I must say to you. But
then it occurs to me that we all have faults to be overlooked and
forgiven, and you having so few others it would be hard, indeed,
if we mortals who are bristling all over with faults, should be
incessantly picking at this little one. There, is that not a
Christian spirit? Give me credit quick or I may turn and unsay
it all in a "jiffy," as Mother says.
I went to Dayton yesterday and back, celebrating the completion
of the railroad which makes Dayton a suburb of Cincinnati.
Only two hours and a half to Dayton! Shades of departed
coaches, "buses," and canal-boats, hide forever your diminished
heads! The "iron-horse" has taken away your occupation, to
keep it until aerial ships take away his!
John W. [Herron] has returned; brings a large dish of gossip
as to our matters from all points of the compass; says you stood
a cross-examination very creditably but still believes it true.
. . . John W. was (or affects it) entirely unsuspicious of
the matter; says we never did act like it, not a particle, but now
remembers how you and I took a walk the evening before you
left, and how I knew of your going in some very mysterious
way, etc., etc. So he now is inclined to think it true, and I am
inclined to think he is in the same interesting predicament. Who
his Dulcinea may be I do not know, some Indiana lady, I
fancy. . . . .
Did I tell you of being at Miss Lewis' wedding in Newport
and how pleasant it was, and how I proposed to Miss Tinor and
was almost accepted, and think I would have been if I had urged
the question a few minutes, and how Mr. Ferguson is sparking
Miss Noble, a bosom friend of Miss Tinor, and how Miss Noble
asks Mr. Ferguson if I am not a quiz, and all that? Because if I
have not told you about it, I should have done so, if you had not
neglected your duty in answering my last letter. A sin of omis-
sion which I shall be apt to treasure up against you, unless you
write me--directed to Columbus - so I can get it by Wednes-
day or Thursday of next week. Until which time vengeance is
398 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
suspended; after that you will please remember I am only,
As ever yours,
Miss Lucy W. WEBB.
October 13, 1851.--A whole month since I have written a
word. Well, [September] 24th, etc., visited friends at Columbus.
Met uncle and other friends at the State Fair, a glorious "institu-
tion" - a glorious exhibition of cattle, pretty girls, and "things."
Fanny and family all well and happy, save only the "rooted sor-
row" of the lost Willie.
On the 4th of October, my birthday, I was with Herron at
Larz Anderson's, nursing him through an attack of dysentery.
In the evening, Saturday, the birthday of the twin boys of Mr.
Anderson was celebrated by a small party of little and old folks
below, which I attended, not remembering that is was also my
birthday till the day after!
My dearly beloved returned last week, looking more beautifully
than ever. Good health, that master blessing, seems now to be
During the past fortnight have made six stump speeches and
one Odd Fellow address. These were my first attempts at
political speaking--a very easy kind of talking. The first half
or three-quarters, with my speaking faculties, should be spent
in calm, dispassionate, sensible talk. I then seem to have estab-
lished a sort of relationship or sympathy with my audience, and
also to have acquired a warmth which enables me to branch out
into humorous and impassioned speaking with tolerable success.
I think I have made very favorable impressions. I spoke first
twenty minutes, next about forty-five, next an hour, and so on
until I reached an hour and three-quarters.
I now mean to bend all my energies to the law for the coming
[winter], acquiring, mastering, etc.; [to] study harder than be-
fore in years. I now know that with a well-furnished mind
I can make an impression as a speaker. To work, then, to work!
October 14.-- Another election day almost gone. I slept badly
last night; as a consequence, have had the dumps today. Feel
WIDENING INTERESTS, CINCINNATI, 1851 399
in low spirits, less hopeful of good results than is reasonable,
expect defeat in the election. No difference to me. I must work
on, on and on, as a lawyer; prepare myself for the duties of life
--a family, marriage, and all that ar. No place like a home
of your own; no other persons like "wedded wife and child."
For that good I am now striving. Let me do it stoutly, manfully.
October 15.--Election all wrong. Democrats take all and
would have taken more if there had been more to take. But it
will be all the same ten years hence--no great importance any-
how. "Sour grapes." Now for law, love, and learning; money
and business, too, if possible. Let me begin a regular habit of
doing all things as of yore--only better.
October 17, 1851.--And now under this beautiful October
sun, mild, calm, heavenly, let me resolve to do what I ought to
do for the six months coming. In law, read by course some
standard text-book referring to authorities within my reach,
especially to the Ohio cases. Examine to the bottom every point
of practice or point of law in my own business which occurs
In general literature, read Burke, Shakespeare, and the stand-
ard authors constantly, and always have on hand some book of
worth not before perused. Avoid occasional reading of a light
character. Read always as if I were to repeat it the day after-
Exercise daily at the gymnasium. Prepare to speak at the
Club always, and to speak well. Prepare an address or lecture
for the I. O. O. F. during the winter. Make no new female
acquaintances; avoid soirees; call on old friends occasionally.
Write good letters to absent friends, and attend church once
CINCINNATI, October 18, 1851.
DEAR UNCLE:- Stephen and Eliza Perry and their cousin
Miss Brown, of Delaware, left for home today. They made no
stop at Columbus and only a short one here. Eliza looks quite
natural, not much paler or thinner than when we saw her. Both
had a great deal to say about you. They wish you to come again
400 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
this winter to Texas. Mr. Perry will be especially pleased to
see you . . . . Guy goes to the Legislature again without
I see a long letter in the papers from Vice-President Dallas,
directed to Guy, on "Southern Rights," etc.
Altogether the visit was a very pleasant one, but too short.
They will go from Louisville with Rev. Mr. McCulloch, the
heroic clergyman of San Antonio. He is now at the head of a
fine school in Galveston. He has married a young wife and is
taking her home to Texas. . . . .
Good-bye. Write. In haste.
R. B. HAYES.
[October] 21.--Douglas Jerrold, in "A Man Made of
Money," says: "Dogmatism is puppyism come to its full
Gregory's "Letters on Animal Magnetism" begun. Mean to
read it carefully, with a disposition to judge impartially of the
facts, etc., contained in the book with a view to the formation
of settled notions upon the whole subject, so far as may now be
done. Heard Murdoch in Evelyn in Bulwer's "Money" last
evening. A noble play. He is a fair actor, does not strike me
as a star of the first magnitude.
November 1, 1851.- Reading Gregory's "Animal Magnetism."
Last evening thought of a topic for lecture to the Odd Fellows:
The indisposition to form new opinions, learn new facts, credit
new discoveries and inventions, of old people. In short, the
importance of preserving both mind and heart young. Mem.:--
Dickens', "Lord keep my memory green."
November 7. - One of the most remarkable instances of spon-
taneous clairvoyant prevision is that related of M. Cazotte who
predicted the terrors of the French Revolution four or five years
previous, specifying the manner in which numbers of persons
present at a dinner party would die in that awful time. They
were scoffing at religion and rejoicing in the approach of the
"reign of reason." He then astonished them by a picture of the
"reign of terror." I do not feel satisfied that the prediction
WIDENING INTERESTS, CINCINNATI, 1851 401
preceded the event, although there is much evidence, only not
proof, that it did.
I have finished Dr. Gregory's book on "Animal Magnetism."
The doctor is, perhaps, too credulous to be a safe guide in such
investigations, but the effect upon my own mind of the facts
and speculations contained in his apparently fair, truthful work
is to a belief in the leading claims of magnetism, clairvoyance,
etc. I have hitherto disbelieved [in] clairvoyance, not doubting
the unnatural sleep, called magnetic. I now am inclined to think
there is much more in it. I am prepared to believe Reichenbach's
doctrine of the subtle fluid, odyle, or any other theory which will
consist with what I esteem the wonderful facts of animal
November 9.-- Commenced reading Pope's "Iliad." Noble,
elevated, and sublime beyond any rhyme I ever read; only not
superior to "Paradise Lost."
CINCINNATI, November 11, 1851.
DEAR UNCLE:--Just received yours of the 8th. Called on
Gilmore & Brotherton; was told that last week gold was very
scarce, as banks were preparing for quarterly statement; that
it was difficult to get it even at one per cent; that at this time
gold is worth somewhat less than one per cent; they would sell
today at 3/4 per cent, and will sell you gold at any time at the
market rates. I called in upon McDowell and asked him what
he would give me a thousand dollars in gold for; he replied
one thousand and eight dollars. So I suppose you will gain
nothing by sending to brokers instead of the City Bank. . . .
Mother and Laura were both to hear Jenny Lind. Mother was
pleased and Laura delighted. Laura writes: "She sang 'Coming
through the Rye' and I liked that best of any because she smiled
and sang it so funny and when she went out she curtsied out
backwards, and they applauded her so she came back and sang
it over again, and I felt as if I wanted to run up to her and kiss
her and then I could go back satisfied." Love to all.
Yours, R. B. HAYES.
402 RUTHERFORD BIRCHARD HAYES
November 18.-- My chum McDowell starts for Chillicothe this
morning on a sparking campaign. If Miss D-- and the fates
smile on him he will return blessed; otherwise, otherwise. I
hardly know what to wish for him; if she is correctly reported
to me, failure will be no great calamity. While he is gone I
shall have the office to myself, and must during this week ham-
mer out a lecture on "Happiness," to be read two weeks from to-
morrow night before Eagle Lodge, a task which will require
fast work. So to it--to it!
December 5-Received the Detroit Daily Advertiser contain-
ing the marriage notice of my old college friend, "Trow"
[Trowbridge]. Well, I hope he has made a ten-strike. I do not
much doubt that he has. And speaking of good luck in such
matters, I wonder who has fallen on a more precious prize than
my own sweet L-. She today happened accidentally to hear of
a family in great distress--the father sick, the mother working
from 3 o'clock A. M. until 12 P. M. for fifteen or twenty cents,
making corsets. No help but a little girl of eight or nine years
old. No wood, no furniture, no food. A bundle of straw in one
corner. L- shed "some natural tears," but not stopping with
tears, she stirred herself, got bedclothes, dishes, food, wood,
medicine, etc., etc. Blessed angel! I loved her doubly for it.
Delivered my lecture, or preached my sermon, according to
appointment. Audience apparently pleased; at all events they
requested me to repeat it before the lodge -- wives, sisters, sweet-
hearts to be invited--the next Monday, which I did last evening
with reasonable success, I thought. The next time I do the like
I will be more animated in manner, that is, I'll wag my head
and shake my arms a little more violently. Think perhaps 'twould
be an improvement; and my next lecture before the same audience
shall be, I think, on Benjamin Franklin. A good subject for
that sort of an audience, I suspect.
Received a letter from Fanny full of joy that I should have
written so hopefully a few days ago. What a beautiful love is
that which my sister bears for me! Blessings on her and all
beneath her roof! L--reminded me of her when I had that
WIDENING INTERESTS, CINCINNATI, 1851 403
good talk with her a few days ago. The discovery of resem-
blance between -----
December 10.--Reading an article in the October Edinburg,
combating Sir Charles Lyell's attack on the theory of the suc-
cessive development of animal life as shown by "ransacking the
catacombs of nature." No use for one of the laity to attempt to
form an opinion on these great questions while the high priests
are thus at loggerheads. Sir Charles' "Principles" and "Man-
ual," I must buy and read when I can conveniently.
December 21, 1851.--Shortest day in the year. News of the
new revolution in France. Crossed on the ice to Covington with
Herron this (Sunday) morning after breakfast.
CINCINNATI, December 21, 1851.
DEAR UNCLE:--I this morning crossed the river to Covington
on the ice, the second time in thirty years that the thing has been
possible. Thousands of people will cross today and I think
horses, etc., will be able to do so before night. It is rough, broken
pieces joined together and frozen, not smooth ice.
I am sorry you cannot come to Columbus before New Year's,
but shall hope to see you soon. I go up on Wednesday to stay
about eight days, till after New Year's.
I am not in want of any money, and hope not to call upon
you any more. I am certainly getting into business.
I think you have a decided advantage over the Junction Rail-
road people. The new radical Legislature will not I think be
disposed to grant them any favors. I have no doubt that the
Bellevue and Republic people could even procure a repeal of the
charter under which the Green Spring route is to be built, upon
making a strong effort. . . .
R. B. HAYES.
Hurrah for Louis Napoleon! Glorious republicans those