21st. 11mo. 1858.
Your letter of the 8th reached me yesterday, 12 days from home, about the usual passage: and I am duly in receipt of others, all that you have written I presume, which have been acknowledged and my answers received before this I hope. – We have had several days of quite severe weather, the ground is white with a slight fall of Snow, and the river dark and dense with floating ice, impeding the steamers and threatening to shut us out from the eastern world at an Early day. – Standing upon the abrupt and crumbling shore of the Missouri, yesterday morning, I thought I had never seen a stronger picture of ideal desolation. The turbid and sluggish waters of the river, filled with discolored and rustling ice floating from the obscure, unpeopled tributaries in the far north; the snaggy sand – bars dark with pools of melting snow; the grisly, skeleton- looking cottonwood forests beyond: a Solitary crow perched on a half – submerged snag: a wedge of wild geese stringing swiftly southward with sonorous cries, across a gray and level sky
already heavy with the impending storm.-
Rationally the scene should have been melancholy and depressing, but it acted like an inspiration and I turned from it to my duties before his Honor, Justice Johnson, whose law=day it was, with a feeling of Elation that was prophetic of success. I had four cases to conduct, of no great importance to be sure, but affording an opportunity to advertise one’s skill and adroitness in that line of chicanery which is supposed to be characteristic of my profession. Business being slow, nearly all the population crowded the novel-court room and watched the contest, like the betters at a horse race. Mr. Richardson, the correspondent of the Borbon Journal, and a thoroughly good fellow though ridiculously ambitious of small honors, was my opponent in one case: the rest I had nearly all my own way and surprised the good people by some novel display of legal tactics. For my days work I charged about $15. I should have had another $5. But trusting to an infamous client who promised me an order for that amount in the morning, if I was successful, I was deluded. Just as he was leaving, I said “how about that order?” “Oh” said he “I aint going to pay you anything!” “Why!” “Oh, you did it so Easy it aint worth anything!” The rest of my
remarks having been rather more forcible than polite. I will not repeat them here. It was about as ludicrous as to was provoking, after all, and he or Somebody Else will have to pay me for the experience. I have the promise of five dollars in money tomorrow, and the balance of my day’s work goes to square the desk I have had made. As you suggest, my finances are running low, but want of money is only an inconvenience to me, and I have Endured it so long, that Even that phase has almost vanished. The expenses of my journey were about 12 dollars larger than I anticipated, and I have been obliged to buy a few thick underclothes – Some expensive medicines – the statutes of the territory – a sign and some cards – which together with board, washing and a few excursions to places hereabouts have reduced my cash assets to $10, prospectively increased to $15 tomorrow: as nobody pretends to pay anything here. I think I shall shut down, and then ten dollars will be as good as a fortune. I have considerable business on hand, and more contingent, so that I am convinced that any pecuniary inconvenience I may experience will be only temporary. I don’t remember whether I told you I had quite a large note sent me from Boston for collection against a party here.
The practice in our Courts is simple and liberal.
The Chief difficulty arising from the conflict of the two codes, adopted by two hostile legislatures, Each of which has adherents who call the other “bogus.” They are materially transcripts of the Missouri & the Ohio codes. the latter being adopted in the inferior courts and the other in the higher, presided over by his Honor Judge Lecompte. Future action will simplify and consolidate them into consistency.
The Probate Court combines the functions of the Eastern Courts of that name with those of the Common Pleas. Its head in this County is Judge Adams, a New Yorker by birth, a free state man in politics and a good ordinary lawyer. He is very pleasant, but not a person of great executive ability. I should judge: rather shy in his address. Common in appearance and about 35 years old. The Entire population of the County (Atchison) is about 5000, comprising 1000 polls, among which are 7 or 8 lawyers, who combine
law and land operations like myself. The two do not conflict at all, and a purely legal career in a country of such varied activities as this is merely impossible. – I have now on my list of property for sale, two quarter sections of land for farming purposes, well watered, heavily timbered, and richer than a New England Comfort = heap, one situated within a few 20 hr of the river, and the other a short distance interior. The 1st can be purchased at $25 pr acre and the other at $3. Besides these, other valuable town and improved farming property at great bargins. If you happen to know any dissatisfied Swain who aspires to the milk and honey of Kansas, who would exchange the granite quarries of Middleton for the black, inexhaustible mines of prairie fertility, who would dispense with the plough and the hoe and gain fabulous crops without labor, who would have winter mitigated by the skies of Italy and Summer tempered by perpetual breezes whose fragrance exhilitates without Satiety, who would grow rich while they slept and bequeath to their Children a certainty of wealth instead of their few cold, barren ancestral acres, if you know any such, I would be obliged if you would put me in correspondence with him, for the per cent on all sales here is
I do not forget that Thursday next, is the anniversary of our Thanksgiving, the first in which we as a family have been permanently separated. In thought I shall join the familiar circle and unite in the wonted festivities, remembering that though absence and distance may separate, they cannot divide: they interpose no obstacle to the passage of a happy memory and a fervent prayer. = The Pikes Peak fever is augmented Every day: rumors run like fire in grass or more appropriately like the brilliant, unexpected sparks I used to watch with so much interest, running their quick, thriftless Errands to and fro through the soot and tea kettle sides. Gold has been discovered in the upper Section of this County, near the Nebraska line and is also reputed a few miles west of this. Coal crops out Everywhere in great abundance and of excellent quality: it burns white & clean, like Carmel. In a few years, this business will become immensely profitable. Gigantic fortunes are waiting for somebody.
With regards to all at home, Very Truly,