Written by Himself.
Commenced April 23rd, 1845.
At school my classmate was a youth a few years older than myself Mr. William Wilkins of Pennsylvania who had an uncle living in Lexington, we commenced the Latin Grammar together and progressed rapidly as far as selecta -- during this summer, during the April vacation I was taken into my Cousin McCouns store with Mr. John Castleman his partner, while he took a trip to Philadelphia for more goods. The store house was a small frame building with the gable end to Main street opposite the court house. The stock of Goods was not large, Mr. Castleman was not very attentive & the main business fell to my share, I could often see people passing by & looking in when seeing no person but a small boy & few goods, they would not come in, I was staisfied that we did not sell enough to pay our board. This cured me of ever wishing to be a merchant, as I was convinced that I never was made for one, and no doubt saved me from ever having anything to do with a store, I slept in the back on a mattress against the door entering the store, Mr. McCoun had a black man and his wife who occupied the upper part of their house which was only one story and occasions they had negro visitors, one night a negro woman came down the steps & took the key from under my head & entered the store while I was asleep, I awakened soon after and turning over felt the door give way, being alarmed I seized the door to close it and found some person pulling it open I then seized a billet of wood in the fire place and was about to strike the person when the woman spoke and made apologies that she had only done it to alarm me, she had taken some few articles which I made her lay down and in the morning I found that she had taken some money from the drawer, she lived in the country and I got a horse and pursued her and finally by making treats [sic] of prosecution got a small sum back, visitors were debarred after this -- While living in the store I witnessed so much licentiousness among the young men in the adjoining store, that I came to a solemn resolution never to permit myself to be drawn after them and it has no doubt saved me from many difficulties in my after life--
The Election for Governor came on this year and Col. James Garrard being elected, Mr. Toulman was appointed Secretary of State & gave up the school which during his administration was never very large, The Trustees not being able to supply his place until the commencement of the October session, some time in the latter part of July I returned to my home residence to my Brother Sam'y McAfee who had in the meantime married Mary Cardwell the daughter of Mr. John Cardwell who had rented my place and soon after John B. Cardwell his son married my sister Anne, my brother occupied one room of the house and I stayed with him, old Mr. Cardwell had a large family of boys and girls, who were careless and mischievous, windows and doors were shattered and the mill was going to wreck my brother not having the inclination or means to keep it in repair, the dam was finally washed away & the bolting cloths torn off I felt these things sensibly but could say nothing.
Mr. Wilkins returned to Pennsylvania, his father living in the vicinity of Pittsburgh he was an amiable young man of fine Talents, and I never saw him again until March 1833, when he was preparing for his Russian Mission & I was on my way at the same time as Charg d Affairs to Bogota South America, we met in Washington City & were introduced by Col. R. M. Johnson, we renewed our early friendship, and could not help noticing the coincidences of our fates, when in the same year he was going North & me South in the service of our common country which had never crossed our thoughts when we were boys at the same college. While I remained at my Brothers I occasionally worked in his corn field, which under a hot sun made me prefer school, but it being only the closing of the work it did not last long. I now determined to learn to swim as I had a good opportunity as the young Cardwells, Wiltshire, Thomas, &c were in the River two or three times every day, I never ceased to visit the River a short distance below my Bridge until I had learned to swim well, which when once learned never can be forgotten--I was stimulated to this, by the recollection of a narrow escape I had from being drowned, which I have forgotten to relate. I think it was during the time I went to school to Mr. Forsythe, I was crossing Salt River on my fathers mill dam the water was running over it in several places & I was running carelessing along and when about two thirds of the way over, my foot slipt & down I went on the lower side over a very deep hole, when I caught the Top of the dam with the fingers of one hand only and held on until I drew myself up, and passed on Trembling at the danger I had just escaped from, If I had gone down into the water I must have been lost, as it was very deep & I could not swim, and no person saw me when I fell, my learning to swim saved my life after this at a most interesting period of my life which I will relate in its proper place--hence I seriously advise all parents to learn their boys to swim and girls too if they can, and If I had fifty sons I would never cease until they were all learned this most important art, as we know not what my Happen.
About the 1st of October I returned to school at Transylvania Seminary Still boarding Mr. Saml Ayers who always received me with kindness and only charged me sixty dollars a year which was very moderate--The Trustees had been able to secure the services of the Revd James Moore an Episcopalian preacher and one among the best men who ever lived, he had been superseceded by Mr. Toulman under circumstnaces calculated to wound his feelings, yet upon earnest solicitation from his friends he again took charge of the school, which brought to it a considerable increase of students , Mr. Toulman was a fine scholar, and as to learning was amply qualified for a Teacher, yet he was deficient in the natural tact necessary to make a Successful Teacher, his school had dwindled down to not more than eighteen or twenty scholars--
On the 3d day of October 1796, I resumed my Latin & added the study of Geography, & Occasionally Arithmetic, in a class consisting of Nathaniel Hart and John Cape, whose Mother lived adjoining the Seminary lot on the S E side The former was the brotherinlaw of the Honbl. H. Clay & was killed at the River Raisin, the day after the Battle of the 22d Jany 1813.
We commenced in the Latin Grammar again & Nat Hart & myself progressed rapidly but were somewhat delayed by our friend Cape who could not keep up with us without great trouble and Labor, we had a pretty full school and among those since distinguished were William Logan, Martin D. Hardin and John Marshall, Mr. Logan & Hardin only continued the First Session as they had been to school longer and were just completing their Education as I was Beginning mine. There was one trait in M.D. Hardin, which I deem it my duty to relate, he was a youth of remarkable sober and regular habit, and with all very pleasant and agreeable, he was universally known & called by the boys "The Priest" and would always answer to that name without taking offence, our amusements were palying marbles, and Ball against the North end of the lot, and of course we would have frequent disputes & wrangles about our play, which were uniformly refered To the "Priest" Hardin would hear the stories on both sides and then gravely decide it and such were the equity & Justice of his decisions that I never knew an appeal taken from his opinion, but all instantly acquiesced, until he seemed at length really our rightful judge. This event I afterwards thought had an influence on Mr. Hardin when in 1819 he was Speaker of the H. R. of Kentucky I was a member It was thought that he was rather too arbitrary in his decisions on questions of order, But he was one of the most correct upright men I ever knew as well as conscientious in all his acts--
We spent half the day only at our lattin and Geography the other half, filling the intervalls with writing, we had the use of Globes and a good Telescope among the Philosophical apparatus. The Revd Mr. Moore our President was attentive--was among the most Pleasant men I ever knew.
Mr. Ayres lived a long distance from the college, I had no separate room to stay in and was obliged to take my chance with his apprentice boys, but slept in the upper room of the house (next the roof) one or two of his apprentices were very wicked boys, but Mr. Ayres being a religious man & keeping family prayer night and morning in his house, (he was a Baptist) he kept a strict reign over his boys however they contrived to get cards and I learned to play, and on my way to school having to pass near a Billiard room & frequently called in until I had learned to play with great facility, I had no money and of course did not play for money except once I played with one of Mr. Ayres apprentices by the name of Ryland on tick until I won six or seven dollars from him, he never paid and here ended my gambling for money, I also once bet a small sum on a Horse race, This was not paid and I never bet again, my Billiard Playing was so amusing that I was in great danger from this, But I resolved that it should never interfere with my school hours, or cause me to neglect or loose a lesson and I faithfully kept it, on account of having no room to study in, when it was good weather I often went into the garden & sat in the shade until I learned my lesson in which which was always punctual, indeed I have no recollection of ever being called to account for any failure to say my lessons or for not saying them as well and many times better than my classmates--I was now weaned from home and did not care much about returning to see my friends, I dressed pretty fine and felt several degrees above any of my humble relations who often visited Lexington to purchase goods, I found this spirit take strong hold of me ever since I had been in my Uncle McCouns store as I frequently kept store for him on Saturdays or on other days when we had no school, I must here relate another anecdote which took place about this time which had an influence on me ever afterwards (as to the Fashions). The French Revolution had driven many Frenchmen to the U States and several came to Lexington, and as a Frenchman can live any where & support himself where an Englishman would starve they were greatly admired for their neatness of their dress, coats waistcoats and pantaloons fitting to the skin. This fashion soon took the town and all the young Merchant clerks followed suit, seeing this I determined not to be behind, I procured some fine corded stuff to make me a pair of Pantaloons and took it to Mr. McCullocks who was then The fashionable Tailor, and gave him special instructions to make them to the height of the Fashion and as tight as the skin & for fear he would forget it, I repeated my request several times. When the Pantaloons were ready, I had great difficulty in getting them on, and I could not bend my knees, not yet having to learn to stand like a Frenchman and lean over or back as circumstances required--however they were made according to order and I could say nothing; away I went to the College and at Play time I went to playing Marbles as usual, but I was greatly annoyed, I though I would try Ball & in a little time running round I stumbed my toes against a Brick bat and down I come with both my knees out of my Breaches, my folloy now rose before me, and when I went to my Boarding house at Night, I had both knees tyed up in Handkerchiefs I have never since given a Tailor orders to make my clothes after the full fashion. My instructions to follow common sense and comfort, and I never have been a Fashionable man since and hope I never will--
Being now located permanent at school I will take a short retrospect of the state of society, Politics, & religion, of my family connections--My Ancestors on my Fathers side were cultivators of the soil as far back as I can trace them, and were generally owners of the land they lived on, my great Grandfather owned a good stone house in the county of Armah in Ireland, and on which Grandfather lived with his mother previous to his removal from that country to the U States, none of my progenitors, followed any other profession or calling on that side of the house but farming, my Grandfather McCoun emigrated from the county of Antrim in Ireland and on his Side of the house followed Trading and selling goods--In religion they were Covenantors and after the restoration of Charles the 2d and at the accession of James the 1st of England and the 6th of Scotland They had suffered severely the persecutions carried on against them and emigrated to the North of Ireland the precise year I never have been able to ascertain, but they were in Ireland previous to the Revolution of 1688 & took sides with William & Mary, There residence previous to this emigration was in Scotland between Edinburgh & Glasgow, and in the vicinity of the latter, my father and uncles were staunch Whigs during the revolutionary war, my Uncle James was a Lieutenant on several campaigns previous to his emigration to Ky, and my uncle William commanded a company on Clarks campaign of 1780 when he was killed as already related and my uncle Saml McAfee was the A Justice of the peace and the first or second Sheriff of Mercer county when the State was organized, he was a Justice of the peace when the county was organized in 1786 & voted for its first Clerk Thomas Allin--These were the principal offices held by any members of the family, in the early days of Kentucky, The family were noted for enterprise and a love of independence, opposed to tyranny or an invasion of their religious rights and like the Scotch strongly attached to their family clans, These considerations with the great distance to the Seat of Government in Virginia, induced them to espouse the side of an early separation from that State, as the wilderness was always dangerous from the attack of the Indians, my father & uncles attended the first convention called to consider this subject and voted for the separation & petition to the Virginia Legislature in 1785, but they had no idea of such a separation as would exclude them from the Confederation so as to unite with any Foregin State or Government either Spanish, French or English, as has been since charged, which induced the Spanish Government to pension Judge Sebastian, such an opinion never was entrusted to any of the family altho, John Brown, Isaac Shelby and Saml McDowell, then and until their deaths stood high with the family yet in after times George Nichols and John Breckenridge were the Political friends of the family. As to Sebastian, he never had their confidence and my earliest prejudices were drawn from this source against him our familywere devoted to the doctrines of Mr. Jefferson & against Hamilton yet Genl Washington had their warmest gratitude & admiration. My fathers death happened previous to the full development of party principles and divisions, The family have ever since been consistent Democrats, and I hope ever will be which their distinctive principles are the Soverignity of the people, equality of rights & no exclusive Privileges to any class or party, aiming at the greatest happiness of the greatest number at the same time obedience to all constitutional laws, together with a strict construction of the Federal constitution, possessing delegated power only--
The first settlers on Salt River were nearly all connected by family tyes or became so in a few years, and of course the greatest friendship & equality subsisted between them, and being generally of the Presbyterian persuasion They had a fixed regular state of Society at first, which has continued ever since, but still as their families grew up and increased, little difficulties would arise which were soon settled, one matter only led to a serious division which occurred between my Grandfather and uncles James McAfee on account of their land boundaries. There was a vacant space of forty poles between the original 400 acre Surveys of 1773 which was to be divided between them in laying their Settlements & preemptions, but a misunderstanding took place when it was surveyed & my Grandfather got the whole. This divided the family and became the cause of different burying ground, yet no other serious difference grew out of it.
In the year 1783 In the fall the Revd David Rice came to Kentucky and settled near Danville then a small village & next spring collected a church called Concord, and next spring 1784 collected another church on Salt River & Cane Run three miles S. E. of Harrodsburgh and built a log cabbin on John Haggins land for a school house & meeting house & in March 1785, twelve of the Salt River people viz
|James McAfee||John Armstrong|
|James Buchanan||George McAfee|
|John Magee||Joseph Lyon|
|George Buchanan||William Armstrong|
|Saml McAfee||Robert McAfee|
|James McCoun Sr||James McCoun Jr|
met near the present N. Providence church & agreed to build another house near that place to be used for the double purpose of a school & for Preaching, both of these churches afterwards in the same year elected two Elders George Buchanan and James McCoun for N. Providence & afterwards George Buchanan was transferred to Cane Run, with James Curry and John Haggin who was afterwards for some cause deposed, when George Buchanan was Transfered to Cane Run William Armstrong was elected for N. Providence--George Buchanan, John & William Armstrong removed to Kentucky in the fall 1784, N. Providence was called after a church of the same nmae in Virginia of which my uncle Geo. Buchanan was a member--
The Revd David Rice preached at Providence once a month until about 179(?). In the fall of 1789 the N. Providence people met & agreed to build a large house of Hewed logs & in the year 1790 a double hewed log house 50 feet by thirty was erected by subscription each person furnishing a portion of the logs and other materials. This was again enlarged on the south side in 1805 and finally pulled down in 1821 and the Present Brick church was erected in its place, I have thus hastily stated facts which may point out the gradual progress of things, and I have been more particular as to early years in order to show the various circumstances which were an influence on my future life, & finally fixed my character & prospects, I will not detain the reader with a minute detail of events & will only enter into detail of events when I may deem them important--
I remained at school at Transylvania Seminary in Lexington from the 3d of October 1796 to the 19th November 1797, during which time with my two classmates Nat. Hart and John Cape, made rapid progress in the Latin language Geography & other branches, devoting half of our time only to the Latin, we had pretty well mastered Virgil, during this time I boarded with Mr. Saml Ayers from whom and his worthy lady I was treated with as much attention as if I had been their own son--It was during this time that I lived with Mr. Ayers, that an unfortunate occurrence took place with a Mr. Barrett a celebrated Baptist Preacher, who had an amiable family especially a daughter who was young and handsome as well as the Belle of Lexington Mr. Barrett lived about two or three miles below the Town on a farm in the country but visited town almost every day and as Mr. Ayers was a leading Baptist Mr. Barrett always put up at his house and frequently preached there at night, he was a good speaker, very fluent with his tonge, and made himself very agreeable indeed he became very popular with the Merchants & their clerks, so much so that he had access to their stores and houses at all times, things went on swimmingly for eight on nine months, I was a particular favorite of his and several times visited his house where he lived in the first style. In this time he contrived to steal from all most every house or store to which he had access, Mr. Ayers would often open his desk were he kept his money and leave Barrett to write or pretend to write letters, and notwithstanding he frequently missed small sums of money he had no suspicion of his brother Barrett, he also began to miss watches from his silversmith shop, which gave him great uneasiness as he had to pay for some of them, Barrett generally wore a heavy surtoot coat with large pockets and would go into the stores on Main Street and whenever he found none but the clerk or store boy, he would make some few purchases and ask for some articles which they would not have & then ask the boy to step out to another store to get them for him & he would stay until they came back he would then fill his pocketts with such articles as he wanted, he would also find articles outside of their doors and remove them to the next door, and request a place to put them until his return next day, I recollect one day while I was keeping store for Mr. McCoun he came in and gave me a fourpence asked me to run across the street and buy him some apples, I done so, but did not like the sign as he had his big pocketts on, I was very expeditious about it, yet I have no doubt that he helped himself to such things as he could by his hands on at length he stole a saddle from one of the stores, and made off down the street with it, and after crossing below Main Cross street to nearly opposite the old Baptist Church and burying ground he was pursued and overtaken, and the saddle taken from him he protesting his innocence declaring he had purchased it from a man in the street he was permitted to go home, but that evening several merchants who had lost articles in a mysterious manner issued a warrant against him and also a search warrant, when the constable approached his house early next morning Barrett made his escape and he proceeded to search his house, and to the astonishment of every person a considerable store was found of almost every kind of merchandise or articles kept in store for sale and among the rest, several of Mr. Ayers lost watches. This explained his rascality in the full, in a day or two he was arrested in a Rye field in vicinity & brought to Lexington, the news flew in every direction and I witnessed his introduction into the court house he had leather leggons on & was wet above his knees, he was tried and found guilty & I think he was punished by branding & whipping--he afterwards removed to Green county where some of his descendants became respectable citizens, but he was a rascal as long as he lived, I believed he finally removed to Cumberland county where he died--
My reason for leaving Lexington were that my finances were getting low and my brother having purcahsed a tract of Land (now including one half of Salvisa) was not able to provide the necessary funds, It was necessary for me to accomodate myself to my circumstances & a Presbyterian Preacher by the name of William Mahan having purchased a farm of 95 acres from My uncle George McAfee on Salt River now including McCoun & Kennady's Mill and also having taken charge of N. Providence Church he had opened a small school to aid in his support, Mr. Mahan was a fine scholar having graduated at Princeton (N. Jersey) under the celebrated Doer Witherspoon was fully qualified to teach the Languages and every other science, he was a Virginian by birth and had married a Miss Venable a highly respectable Virginia family--Previous to my leaving Transylvania, President Moore took an opportunity to give me his advice, he urged to perseverance & assured me that I had talents which would some day give me distinction, and that by pursuing a correct course specially looking to and relying on a kind Providence, I would be an honor to my friends, This friendly adivce sunk deep into my heart, and when I left him I fully resolved to avoid all vice, and never to play cards or Billiards again, and I have kept my promise to this day, My recollection of this kindness from my Perceptor, deeply impressed me with the importance of Parents, guardians & friends to give advice to those under their care it is like "Bread cast on the waters It will be found after many days" children are never too young to receive good advice, Hence I have always paid particular attention to little boys and girls especially those who give promise of sprightliness, and I have had my reward in many of them in after years reminding me of the advice I gave them which I had forgotten, This has made me somewhat of an enthusiast in the cause of Education.
I was always fond of reading from my earliest recollection and while at school in Lexington I had collected a little Library of more than fifty volumes, mostly small histories & novels costing about twenty five cents each which was generally the extent of funds, which I generally applied in this way, among my books as a matter of course I had "Robinson Crusoe & Gullivers Travels," I have often satt up until past midnight reading my little books after I had got my school lessons, These books increased my appetite for reading and filled my head with Romantic notions which I afterwards corrected by more solid reading, but I would not advise young people to indulge too much in novel reading It will give them a taste for reading but it must be checked in order that we may form plain common sense opinions as to the affairs of this world, my list of novels were none of them immoral, but many of them inculcated extravagant notions of the heroes or heroines of the Book which do not exist in human nature--
I boxed my books & clothes together & meeting with a waggon under the care of Mr. Fielding Delany (a son of the old gentleman who formerly owned McCouns Ferry on the Kentucky river) I left Lexington on the 19th of Nov 1797, and we camped by the side of the road about two & a half miles this side of town near a branch of fine water, and next evening I arrived safe at my Brothers on the Frankfort road (just above the present college of Salvisa), and on the 2d day of December I commenced going to school with Mr. Mahan on Salt River, who had but a few scholars I had for my classmates, two young gentlemen who were preparing for the Ministry Joshua L. Wilson & Joseph B. Lapsley, both of whom afterwards became Presbyterian Preachers, The Revd Mr. Lapsley settled in Bowlingreen where he died about the year (?) and The Revd Mr. Wilson first settled in Bardstown and afterwards removed to Cincinnati where he had and now has charge of the 1st Presbyterian church as is now the Revd Doctr Wilson both of these young men had Talents and were numbered among my best friends, We were soon after joined by Mr. John Simpson of Shelby county a young man of six feet seven Inches high he was afterwards in the year 1810-11 Speaker of the H. R. of the Kentucky Legislature and commanded a company in Col. John Allens Regt in the Battle of the River Raisin where he was killed on the 22d January 1813--Thus it has been my good fortune to have been the classmate of boys who afterwards became distinguished men.
My Brother Saml, Then lived in a plain log cabbin 18 feet by twenty with only one room and I had occasionally to sleep in the loft if any company came which was pretty frequent as he lived on a main public road to Frankfort But I was cheerful and felt happy as I was once more with my relations Mr. Wilson & Lapsley being advanced in their learning about as far as I was we went on together and during the year 1798 we applied ourselves assidously and I made some progress in the Greek but gave it up as I was firmly determined to study law & become a politician, I studied surveying, Euclids Elements, natural Philosophy & having procurred Morses large Edition of his universal Geography I reviewed that branch of my Studies--when I commenced Euclide I could not get along. I could not comprehend the use of Mathematics & once or twice concluded to give it up but upon reflection I determined that I would not be outdone as I had never yet failed to master any science that was deemed useful to me, I concluded to memorize the propositions & demonstrations whether I could understand them or not, and in this way I got along for several days but before I reached his fifth proposition I began to understand him and new light broke in upon my mind, that I was able to take the lead of my class & never ceased until I became what was then considered a good Mathematician.
I was again without a room to study in and often had to get my lessons in the chimney corner or out in my Brothers guardian [sic], my classmates lived at Capt John Armstrongs Senr near N. Providence & had a separate room to themselves, Mr. Wilson was twenty two years of age and Mr. Lapsley eighteen or nineteen while I was only fourteen, but regularly kept up with them in our class, this somewhat ruffled their pride & while reading the old of Horace they concluded to give me a Specimen of their superiority, we had agreed upon our lesson and when on next morning we had finished it, I was aksed if I could read another ode! I replied go on, and read my part well, I was again bantered for another! go on was my reply, and when through and hearing no farther challenge, I said to them "Boys let us read another which was declined, & Mr. Wilson laughingly remarked "He has caught us in our own Trap" no more manouvers were ever made upon me and I was afterwards admitted to full equality. Mr. Mahan was delighted with the whole scene and ever after treated me with marked attention--
The truth is I had in some way suspected the whole affair from something that had dropped from them & instead of getting three odes (which were short) which was our Lesson, I got six that morning & they had only learned five, which gave me unexpectedly the victory. We made it our daily practice to speak the Latin tonge to each other and this way when I completed my studies I was considered a first rate Latin scholar as I could converse in the language and write it correctly--As the Spring of 1798 advanced we made a stand and benches under some beach Trees at the foot of the hill now directly in front of McCoun & Kennedys mill house which we dignified with the name of "Beach College" here in the open air we studied our lessons & every Friday evening delivered our orations in the presence of such of the neighbors as choosed to attend & sometimes we had large and respectable audiences.
We also organized a debating Society at N. Providence which was dignified by the name of "Free Society" by Mr. Wilson, almost the whole neighborhood round Providence & for four or five miles round became members, we met every third Saturday & debated such questions as were selected by a committee & among them such political questions as then agitated the country of course the Alien & Sedition laws were debated & John Adams standing army as well as our relations with France then in a critical situation, our Teacher Mr. Mahan was a Federalist, in favor of the Policy of President Adams & against Mr. Jefferson, who he said was an Infidel, he however said but little on political subjects, but what he did say was to me and for a time I felt very much inclined to think with him, but all my relations & indeed every body else who I heard spek on the subject were Republicans and also understanding that Col. Nicholas & Breckinridge took the Republican side, This at once decided my mind & I became a staunch Jeffersonian in Politics altho I did not then fully comprehend the theory of our Government I had however learned to Hate the British for their outrages during the Revolutionary War & highly respect the French--In our debating society I did not make a speech for some time, until reflecting that I was preparing to study law, I must of course speak young as I was, with this view I memorized a speech on the French question, and when I got up to speak I became blind but on I went pell mell until I was through, and was told I had made a pretty good speech altho I was so alarmed that I really hardly knew what I said, being encouraged for my first effort, I soon afterwards could make short speeches without being much embarrassed. The experience I derived from this society was useful to me in after life--
In September 1798 we had an exhibition and public speaking at our Beach College including several scenese of dialogues This was a great day with us, we had a large Audience, and a pretty respectable shoe to the satisfaction of all present our school continued until the 1st of April 1799. In the meantime on Saturdays during the winter I aided my brother in making sugar at his sugar camp on Cheese Lick creek in the N. West corner of Mercer county, and our Reacher requiring us to write a composition, my first effort after much cognition was to write upon the nature of the Sugar Tree and the mode of making sugar; It was a lame affair. It consisted of a detail of facts with but very little reasoning or argument in it, I was conscious of its defects, but I had not learned to analyze my Ideas or to draw conclusions, however, it cost me much pain and I had almost determined never to try to write again but Mr. Mahan encouraged me to persevere, which I did and was soon able to write with tolerable facility and in after life to write with great fluency and ease to myself, The first great rule is to understand the subject on which you write, before you put your pen on paper--I name this to encourage other young ment to persevere and never to abandon anything because it is hard to accomplish, reflection, study, and a firm resolve will make many things easy, which at first appear impossible or hard to do--
The time I spent at this school was the happiest of my life, we were all in moderate circumstances, tis true I had a handsome land Estate left to me and my younger Brother by my fathers will, yet our unfortunate law suit with Williams including lawyers and clerks fees took all the money we could raise by the rent of my fathers place and, I never had any surplus money beyond what the most pressing necessities demanded and another change was rapidly approaching. Our Preceptor Mr. Mahan began to loose the confidence of his church at Providence, as he preached half his time there and the other half at the upper Benson church in Franklin county, he was unhappy in his domestric relations, he had a number of Black women and having no employment for all of them within doors, of course several of them had to work out in the corn field, Mrs. Mahan tho otherwise a pleasant good woman was Hypochondrial and seldom left her room and when Mr. Mahan was absent, the servants were negligent and disobedient, of course numerous complaints were made on his return which compelled him to correct them, sometimes severely, and after night they would visit the neibors [sic] houses and make desperate complaints of their hard usage, showing their backs and arms, and complaining that they neither had enough to eat or to wear--when the truth was they were the worst set of negroes I ever saw as well as too lazy to work even to feed or clothe themselves, scarcely ever trying to do right, I have known one of his women when laying off corn ground to make her rows like a half moon merely to show her contempt of her masters orders, and besides they were encouraged and told by some white families that they ought not to work out, It was no wonder then that Mr. Mahan was driven to drink to drown his difficulties which he indulged in secretly at home but never or seldom when abroad, He was however cited before his Presbytery, and finally silenced a year or two afterwards, I was called as a Witness but declined to attend on account of my high respect for the old gentleman--
Go to Part 9 - 1799 - 1801.
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