Politics, fire, and legal matters


Date Written

March 17, 1829

Calvin Tilden was 23 years old when this was written.
The recipient, Theodore Cobb, was 25 when it was received.

Calvin Tilden died 2 years, 8 months, 5 days after writing this.
It was written 194 years, 6 months, 16 days ago.
It was a Tuesday.

South Boston 17 March 1829

My friend,

I will not attempt to apologize for my long silence, easy as it is to write a letter in the midst of any avocation, the neglect is inexcusable. When I received your last, I was somewhat engaged, the Court of Pleas being in session and divining business in such a manner as to require the constant watching of every person who had anything on their docket. Since then I have had the good fortune to have my share of business with my competitors so that I have in fact been more engaged than at any former time since I have been here.

I have been in hopes of seeing your father this spring but have not heard of his being in town. The Court of Pleas sits at Plymouth on the 13th April. The new docket is called in our court on the 14 and I shall have some business here which I think will require my presence. Much therefore as I desire to visit Hanson next month, it is doubtful whether I shall find it consistent with my interest. Under these circumstances if I find it impossible for me to attend Plymouth Court (as I fear I shall) I will write to any gentleman your father may name to attend to his action against Ramsdell for me. It will be no additional expense to your father, being a thing which is frequently done among lawyers. I suppose all that will be necessary in this action will be to see that it is defaulted, demurred, or continued for judgment as the case may be.

I should like to receive instructions from your father, as to when he would wish me to write, which instructions you can give in your next. How things may change between this & Court I know not but at present I have these actions on the continued list in which trials are threatened and that list will be taken up on the very week of Plymouth Court.

You have seen by the papers that since you were here we have had a plentiful supply of fires & a still greater list of alarms. Our first fire in South Boston happened last eve. I was sitting in my office quietly toasting my feet at a sea coal fire ruminating on things, past, present, and to come, when the bell struck & the cry was raised of fire in South Boston. I proceeded to the spot and a finer situation for a fire you can hardly conceive. It was a manufacturer of turpentine, camphor, a pile of wood and brick stored with combustibles. The buildings stood near the water & being plenty of vacant land there was noble chance to witness the operations of the fire department. Presently they came over from the city in great style, ran out there hose, went to work & played steady streams upon the fires for about two hours before completely conquering it. A small wooden building stored full of turpentine which stood leeward of the fire & immediately contiguous to the buildings burnt was saved. It was a treat to stand dog shod & witness the spirit & alacrity of the "up and down boys." The only assistance in which they asked is that you should stand out of the way for the members of the department was sufficiently numerous to effect all their designs.

A new engine called the New York process, by the late mayor, threw a stream large enough to extinguish a volcano.

Enough of fires and the transition is easy from that subject to politics. He who should invent some engine to extinguish party violence would deserve more precious than even Mr. Quincy for organizing the fire department. I believe they had a livelier time in town last eve than we had at the fire. An attempt was made to effect an union between the Jackson folks and the Republican party, a sort of reorganization of the whole, for you know the effect of the late Presidential contest has been to obliterate in a great manner old party landmarks and perhaps in that respect it has been productive of good effects. Of course that old gentleman who has before afforded me so much merriment, Clough, who for drolling comes near old Killam, took a part. The attempt proved abortive & the meeting adjourned without effecting anything. I understand they got pretty warm-"you lie" & "you lie" & "aren't you the man that was the white cockade," was bandied about among them pretty freely. For my own part, having no particular affections for either of the parties, I had no tears at the sight of this.

Fire & politics---I must try to have some cooling ingredient in this---I will turn to what is called a____though I shall not better myself by that. The editor (of the) Anti-Universalist was acquitted of his libel case last week & I understand, though I vouch not for the truth of this report that Mr. Ballou who attended the trial, says that had he been on the jury he could have done no other. His paper however is not a whit the better for that and is regarded as disgraceful by the better classes of the orthodox themselves. It has been trying to provoke the Trumpet to a controversy but I am glad to perceive that the T. does not condescend to notice it.

I hope you will not imitate me in delaying to answer this. I have not often been complained of as a negligent correspondent & will try not to be in your case. Let me know all the Hanson news. Give my respects to your parents. Remember me to your sisters--our society--and our friends one and all & believe me yours truly

Calvin Tilden

Please to tell my sister that I have rec'd a letter from her which should have been answered before this and that she shall hear from me before long.

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