folder 20: Diaries of Charles A. Hentz, Volume 2, 1848–1851

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[ Vol. 2 (formerly Vol. 6) ] [ 332, ... 6.3 ]

Port Jackson Florida

Friday night - Dec 8th , 1848 -

During the stay (longer or shorter, as Providence ordaineth) That I make in this place, I will be bereft , to a very great extent, of all congenial society, - to make up for which loss, Philosophy and I must be good companions. These mud dunked, unhewn walls will afford a good theatre for our revels - ; the "flow of reason and the feast of soul" shall be ours -- our table will be spread with strange, and seemingly incongruous dainties - our chief dish, and requiring most seasoning, will be the ills and ailings of the uncouth yeomanry of this portion of the Sunny South--; you serried rank of volumes, standing in strange silence (yet ever ready to speak) behind my saddlebags, will afford the reasoning--; they will tell us how to dispose of the motley contents of these shelves around -- their parcels, salves & vials -- your trunk peeping from beneath my comfortable couch, wll open a yet unscattered store of less weighty enjoyment -- [Some?] books -- ye companions of the companionless & ye speakers of the mighty dead--; my flute & clarionettpen and paper --&c. &c. &c-; These are ours --

Well -- I came down here on Monday last the 4th of December--; embarked on my professional career -- Capt. Brown & family left yesterday for the far far west - poor man, the ties that bound him here drew "like the roots of the Storm loosened tree" --

Mr & Mrs Rusk have moved down this afternoon -- They have fixed me up nicely in this my comfortable sanctum sanctorum -- 'tis a glorious night; mild & calm & balmy

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The chirrup of gladsome crickets lulls on the ear; the full bright moon shines softly oer the valley which lies before my open door; The cheerful boisterous chorus (sweetened by the distance) of boatmen, with the interrupted fall of wood, and occasional sigh of the steam pipe, comes up from the boat lying at the wood yard [belies]

I have just written a note of introduction for Dr Caldwell to judge P. T. Harris of Minden La -, whither Dr. C. is going also a letter to A. McMeakin Esq- containing $2 for his courier must have it, to give me a smattering, at least, of what the busy world is about-; received a little note today from Thaddy which has laid at the Post several days for me --; tis time to sleep - all is still about the place -; so I'll to bed.

Saturday night Dec 9th. A quiet rain is pattering on the clapboards overhead - withal tis quite bright without & calm - a fog lays on the surface of the river, still & white - the distant song of some negro comes from the far side of the Chattahouchee-; wandering perchance to pay his weekly visit to the plantation where abides his old 'ooman - his tudder half * * Caldwell had requested me to mark some boxes of Capt. Brown's to be shipped from the Port - so we went there after breakfast, & I did the thing for him - A much weightier task than I thot for - I got a couple of fishing poles from Friday (the chief cook & bottle washer there now) - spent the day at my office Read - fixed my physic etc-; had a kind of desperate mood, as Ptolemy T & I used to term them, - whilst pondering over the coarse, uncouth, immoral state of society, with which I must be surrounded, for the present long time to come. I have the comfort tho', of a nice example of human nature here. Mrs R is an amiable & intelligent lady - had she been educated in another sphere, would be an ornament for any circle -

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The genus [?????], verily, is divided into many very distinct varieties capable of being assimilated by very artificial means, without which however, how widely sundered * * Alas for poor Capt Brown his troubles cease not with his departure hence, a writ & attachment has stopped him & turned him aside to Marianna his son Matthew came over at dinner time for Hugh Rusk They both were detained by waiting for a third person, till supper time, when they left, three country gentlemen took supper here; a Mr Allen from Tallahassee dined today here a nice looking man. I wrote a letter to Thaddy by Rusk a short one -- Called in after supper, to see Mrs R. about her infirmities Studied much in the subject -- Manufactured [copaives] copaiva pills --

Sunday Dec 10th Date of my first professional call --; the rain, so long pending, set in today -- I spent a quiet Sabbath at home -- reading my Bible Pollok's "Course of Time" -- Abercrombie's hints for proper regulation of the mind wrote a letter to Betty in the a mild gleam of sunshine -- returned & wrote to Miss Mary. read in Scott's Commentaries -- Took up H. K. White's poems & my pipe, & lay down for a quiet, easy smoke -- Smoked too much, or my system becomes more impressible for I smoked comfortably, after breakfast, before walking to the Port; how sick I did get -- Farewell to my meerschaum -- I would'nt risk that horrible nausea again for all the short cut ever manufactured --, I drank water largely to relieve it, sweated it out immediately & rapidly and eat a hearty supper; which was hardly swallowed ere I recd summons to go in haste to Wood's place, 5 miles hence, to the relief of a negro woman who was very bad off almost dying -- I hurried off galloped the whole way, the roads very full of water

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I found poor old Huldey in a bad fix sure enough-; she was relieved. This ere long -- was easy again - , I had a long chat with Mr Wood, & for fear of a return of Huldey's ailing, remained there all night --

Monday - Dec 11th - Rose early - visited Huldey & found her quite easy - prescribed a little more -- had my horse brot out, and sped homeward, Through a heavy drizzle which made my garments rather ponderous - Mrs Rusk's smoking coffee & her smiling countenance were equally grateful, after such a ride, without overcoat, leggins or umbrella -- Had another call this morning - to go 6 or 7 miles to see a poor & worthless piney woodsman -- I was preparing to go, when, most opportunely, Crawford's mischief-making mule again let the horses out of the lot - mine amongst the rest, they dashed by in a regular stampeded , & did not return till the medicine I had prepared, was far on its way to the sick man -- Had a long confab with Edwards about his epileptic attacks -, promised to physic the poor fellow. Spent all afternoon & evening in my office - reading -, have enjoyed a fine feast of reading - Dr Caldwell came back just before supper - rode from Campbelltown today - 40 miles - weary enough -- & miserable, so he says - natural enough for one of his disposition &c. has been raining, raining -- is yet raining, raining -- some rascally, quarrelsome dogs have been [wrangling?] around the doors tonight, making incessant horribly disturbing noises -- I discharged my gun amongst them without effect just now - since writing have been out twice - just this moment sent a load of squirrel shot against one of the offenders - exciting in him great exercise of his vocal and locomotive organs tis late - the dogs & my books have kept me up.

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5 Tuesday Dec 12th Had to go & see Megen this morning Found him a used up sort of a patient has neglected himself for years has a spleen that fills nearly all his abdomen liver perfectly torpid &c &c Gave him 8 drops of croton oil, some spts nitri dulc &c; Waited at the house till an hour after dinner a rough set they are out there; a pretty little Susan Octavia, the only interes ting object about, she gave ne some corn beads for "my little girl", left Megen asleep & better, his physic not yet operated, promising to call next morning. I shot a bitch this morning; the "fons et origo" of all the noise last night Dr Caldwell & I went to the spot at about dusk, drove off the disconsolate troop of dogs who watched devotedly around, and cut her open taking some viscera home for dissection, we sat up late proposed mutually a trade of horses Mine will not do me He is a skittish fool I must have his Tom Wednesday Dec 13th Went again to Megen's found him better had been purged tremendously, wanted to eat a dish of hog brains & greens I prescribed, & told them if he eat the brains not to send for me for I would'nt go Dr Caldwell & I made a trade an extravagant one, on my side, one might say, who knew nothing of the merits & demerits of the case We swapped horses & I gave him my note for one hundred dollars so that Tom when paid for, will have cost 215 dollars or 220 I think Ill be able to pay for it, with Toms aid The Dr & I went gunning around the cotton field after dinner He shot two hawks which I have deprived of their soft parts for the purpose of skeletonizing We saw the new Fashion pass by, as we were at the river, towing a barge a very pretty vessel Dr Mitchell of Marianna came in after supper came down to the Port on the Boston has been up in Ala is going to settle in Glenview, Barbour Co I got a table & calico to cover it with from Friday found a cowbell in the field &c &c &c

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