Yours of the 9th of Sept. as well as a previous letter, came to hand since I last wrote to you. I assume my pen with a variety of feelings and motives which it would be difficult to describe on paper. On you I cheifly depend for news from Lykens valley & Millersburg in particular You have told me much, but you have left in doubt & silence much that I wished to know. Of your own family in M. you tell nothing satisfactory. Your words would seem to imply that they are in trouble — from sickness or what else is left to conjecture. Tell me more of them. I feel a deep solicitude for their welfare. You say Josiah has moved back into that dark corner of Lykens. I am astonished that he, after giving his boys a good education, should bring them into association with the bipeds of that Botean locality.
I approve much of your resolution to visit the West. If you do, you will never regret it. The change of scenery from those rocky mountains & rolling valleys of Penn. to first, the deep forests, & then the level wide spread praries of Illenois, with their coats of green, their deep rich soil & their multitudinous sweet smelling flowers would give verse to a post. You say you often picture to your mind my erattic professional course, as I ride from house to house, now slow, & again on the lope as I leave for another point where my services are required. Your indulgence in such reveries is a high compliment to the estimate you must have of myself. But suffer me a moment to describe the reality as near as I can. My first care of a summer morning is to feed my horses. After breakfast I mount & take the road; having escaped the timber, I strike into the prarie & steer for a distant arm of the river well wooded for miles; into this forest I plunge & after doing my buissness on its near side, I take across to the other, & again emerge on an endless expanse of green: here the tools of the art are again employed, & again I mount for some far distant point. In the afternoon a different direction is persued and as night sees me again at home, & claims repose after the fatigues of the day: I draw bridle for a new day and the exertions under another sun is contemplated for future hours. But ere my foot is out of the stirrup, here comes a man at full gallop with his coat of Jean fluttering in the evening breeze. Some one is bad. I must go with all haste, and soon the forest echoes with the rappid footfalls of our high mettled horses.
The practice of medicine here is not what it is in Millersburg. I can picture to myself the deportment of the Doctors there. The anxiety & joy each feels over each patient they get, and the deep malice they feel for one another — and all this for a living. I can assure you I often shudder when I think of what I underwent in M. No consideration could ever draw me back to practice medicine there; to bear the insolence of some purse proud tool, or the tittle tattle of the old women and the suspicious regard of the young men, is more than I ever wish to be burthened by again. Here I walk a lord of the soil. The Doctor is the greatest man in the country, and though however ample the means of the merchant, the farmer, or the grazier, it is their
16interest to acquire the good will of the physician. This state of things is pleasant and though no feeling of dogmatism is in me yet it is pleasant to do good & see a community grateful for the benefits. Here is none of the tittle tattle: the low mean malice of the envious nor the loud dogmatism of the powerful. You know M. perhaps better than me; & you know one thing, that the more useful the man, and the more prosperous his affairs, the greater and bitterer his enemies will be. I do not claim for the people here an immunity from the evil natures of men, but I beleive there is a great difference in different communities. I have been taken by the hand here and have now the professional buissness of nearly the whole country.
You speak of health, of your fears of a sickly country. Health in Illenois has this season been good. In this section of the country, however it has been about the same as other years. It began about mid July and ended about the middle of this month — duration, 3 months. The principal complaint was remittant & billious fever; mostly remittant however. I had a few difficult cases but the common run was easily cured. Generally it was not necessary to visit a patient more than once or twice. I was confined to bed 4 or 5 days with the fever in Sept but have since that been quite well and able to pursue my buissness. I lost no patients no way — none died nor none left me for anybody else. Indeed I have lost but one patient since I have been in the country & that was a child which died of Thrush. I am enabled to persue a much better and bolder practice here than in M. The people here call in time & take medicine as it is prescribed. There is no clique of old Dutch women over the patient, laying the medicine aside and brouching instead. Sickness here attacks those mostly who live on coarse food and in open houses: those who live comfortably are seldom sick. I beleive that in 20
17or 30 years this will be the most healthy country in the West. My practice in July, Sept and Oct. amounts to about $150 per month. August rates at $227. For the remainder of the year it will be small. Next year I expect to sweep the board. I have now nearly all the good families in the country. Excuse me for this tedious exposure of my own affairs. I have little else to write about and therefore am priveledged to be garulous.
When you come here come in the summer, when all nature is in bloom; you will then see the green West — our luxuriant forrest land; and if you are not improved by the trip, both in body and mind, I am no prophet. Your present location in Tartarrus, cooped up by mountains and poor land, is enough to make any man sick. The land of Lykens valley in this country would be called barren; nobody would pretend to till it. The roads are prime in summer, fall & winter but in the spring they are dreadful.
I perceive Pennsylvania is completely Tyierized; the news reached me in 9 days after the election. Had the election in Illenois taken place after the veto not one Whig would have been returned to Congress. As it is we have 2 out of 3. There is a general cry here for a U.S. Bank. The utility of such an institution in the West is incalculable. Money is scarce. Crops are good and but little market for them. Many farmers haul their wheat 180 miles to the lakes where it is $1 per bushel.
Remember me to all enquiring friends & write soon
N.B. I was not aware that you did not receive my letters free. I shall endeavor to rectify the error this time. I am glad you hold
18the office. Enjoy life to the best advantage where you are but do not forget to visit the West. Emigration is going on at a great rate to Iowa: immense numbers pass through this place rolling on to the Far West.