Man asks that feeble horse be allowed to live life out grazing in his meadow

Date Written

Aug. 5, 1843

Samuel Freeman Headley was 35 years old when this was written.
The recipient, Richard Miller Acton, was 33 when it was received.

Samuel Freeman Headley died 25 years, 11 months, 19 days after writing this.
It was written 175 years, 11 months, 12 days ago.
It was a Saturday.

Berwick
August 5, 1843

Friend Acton

It is now ten days since you left your Sorrel horse with me and took my favorite Ratter with you; I am quite anxious to her how you are pleased with him, and my anxiety to have you satisfied has led me to fear that you might not be yet. I cannot imagine any probable cause for this fear, unless it be the result over anxiety. Should you from any cause be dissatisfied, let me know, and I will either so arrange it as to get back my horse, or have you fully satisfied. I only parted with him to accommodate you, and so it must be. I must while speaking of him repeat what I told you here, that Rattler when in flesh is a choice family horse, being good looking, a good hauler, and perfectly kind and safe, under all & every circumstance in which I ever tried him. He has been worked hard, but a little rest will soon restore his lightfootness.

I did not intend when I began this letter to have said so much about Ratter. My object was to write about your horse whose name I do not know. Upon two occasions after you left we thought he was about dying but he recovered from the same and is now able to stand up most of the day& to walk around a little. The next day after you left, he had an intense inward fever; we did not like to give him as large quantities of water as he wished, in the afternoon we bled him copiously, and when about two quarts were drawn from the veins he turned his head to the bucket and drank it up, such was his thirst and he thus drank about 3 gallons of his ow blood. This made him very sick, but did more to relieve him from pain than any other thing which we gave him from that time to this; he has been slowly mending, and I think that he is now in a situation to form a tolerably correct judgement of the result of his case. He is poor in flesh, his skin worn through by laying in many places, his breast almost shrank to the bone, one fore leg tightly swollen and both quite stiff, his shoulders look as if they were swenied for life—in a word, he will never be able to travel again unless a very short distance at very moderate gate (so far as his present appearance indicates) and it will be a longtime before he can be used for anything. Now I wish your advice as to what is best to do with him. I can sell him to some poor man to drive in his wagon or pull at his boat, where he will drag out a painful existence and for the sum of $20 or $25. If you so direct—For my own part, I have formed an affectionate feeling for the poor creature from the fact of witnessing and striving to alleviate his suffering (the greatest part of which was caused by driving after he was foundered & not by the founder itself) and would prefer myself losing that sum to see him decently buried, before I could consent to see him suffer or be abused. I must here remark especially as I am fond of mentioning the intelligence of horses, that he became sensible of my attention & kindness to him and when I would approach him, always manifested it by a corresponding look & motion of the head. But to the question, what shall be done with him; I will give you my judgement—Let him run in my meadow and should he ever get fit to plow and to go to mill to which he may do after a time, and after having special attention, then let some good natured farmer have him or I may possibly keep him for that purpose myself. The disposal of him shall however be as you direct. I have given a full statement of facts upon which you may decide. I am willing as I said above, to allow you $20 or $25 on account of him, though he should never do a days work in preference to his being sold to any man who might compel him to work, though he were ever so much crippled.

I never saw but one horse in anything like this situation and he was ever after a poor cripple, and to all appearances now this one will be so. It is possible nevertheless that in time he will get better than I now imagine, but such is my candid opinion of his [?] that were I called to purchase him under any other circumstances, I would not give $10 for him. I would not buy him at any price other persons might give. More than I have stated if you direct him sold for what he will bring, I will get all I can for him, that may be $15, $20, or possibly $30, although you would not give one dollar for him. If he should be able to draw at a coal boat, even part of a season, he may brig $30. If you direct me to use my own judgement & feeling in the matter, I will not have him sold, but shall keep him, as before stated and in that case you can send me in letter such sum as under circumstances you may think right and write a word concerning “Ratter” ad I am yours truly,

S. F. Headley

Scans of Letter