Teaching, Meeting President Polk, James Buchanan
Dec. 22, 1845
Daniel Kendig was 21 years old when this was written.
Daniel Kendig died 65 years, 7 months, 9 days after writing it.
It was written 175 years, 28 days ago.
It was a Monday.
Sherwood Park, Baltimore County, Maryland
Monday, December 22, 1845
My Dear Wilson:
Where — in the name of all the Gods at once — where are you? Doth the earth still hold you? Do you lie sub under? or — worst of all fates — do you reside in grim Pluto’s dome? I do think to step from the ancient to the modern, that you, Shute, and myself are three most incorrigibly lazy fellows. Let me see — September, October, November & December — 4 blessed months and not one of the many [Greek phrase with an error] (erase that slip) which has passed through the ivory portal that guards the [?] of talk — not one of all those from one to either of use.
By this time, I dare say, you have looked at the heading of the letter and wonder why it is not Canonsburg. Let me tell you. I had no anticipation, although I could not speak positively, that I would not be able to go to Canonsburgh, until about the very last day of October (and I was to be in C. on the first of November). I got a letter from Father stating that it would be impossible for him at present to do it, and he could not say when he could be able. Here was a pretty job. But disappointments are not new matters to me. I have got to taking them as the eel does skinning — with just a little wiggle of the tail or so, and it is all over. I immediately determined that I would teach, and before one week, I had a situation partly engaged in a private family in Anne Arundale County, about half way between Washington & Baltimore. I was offered $200 per year with board &c. to teach three boys. Before this engagement was concluded, I effected another with the Rev. Mr. Yerkes (his family live near Hatboro in your neighborhood) — an old school Presbyterian clergyman who has a boarding school at this place. It is near Cockeysville on the Baltimore & York Railroad — 15 miles from Baltimore. It is in a fine wood of oaks (the holy tree of our Saxon fathers) and the owls with their “to whit”, “to whoo” (that’s Betty Foy’s idiot boy) bring on very reverential feelings for superstition, which at times still come over my spirit like a dream.
The school contains about 25 boys and the number is limited — the most being from Baltimore. There is nothing extraordinary about the school. We content ourselves with teaching whatever branches are necessary for college or business. Our highest Latin Class is in Horace; the highest Greek in Xenophon. We have a class in Virgil too, & one in Caesar. So you see, with what justice I can say with Horace:
Pareus deorum cultor et infrequens,
Insanientis dum sapientiae
Consultus erro, nunc restrorsum
vela dare atque iterare cursus
School hours are from, 8 1/2 or 9 till 1, and from 2 1/2 or 3 till 5. Other times I am free. The boys are at study and a few recite from 7 [to] 9 in the evening; but with this I have nothing to do. They are now out skating which gives me a semi holiday this afternoon. We generally take them out one or two afternoons every week. They are going to present a pair of skates to Mr. Yerkes & myself on Christmas. For my part, I would sooner they would give me something that I could use without running the risk of breaking my neck. But no matter. Mr. Yerkes — although he is a very good skater — likes cigars better and would sooner have them. He learned that bad habit at New Haven, I expect. He is a good scholar — especially in classics, and was offered a tutorship at New Haven when he graduated. But he wanted to study theology and be an Old School Parson. New Haven then stunk in our nostrils and he despised it. I expect he will be called to the Professorship of Latin in Centre College, Danville, Kentucky, next spring. If he should, the school [here] will pass into other hands, or be broken up. In this latter case, and perhaps in the former, I shall remove either to the South or Southwest; or if we should have a brush with Great Britain, enlist and be a “soger.”
But aside from joking, I am ready for any fate. If it is the Master’s Will that I should serve Him in the ministry, he will open the way. If it be not, I shrink from thrusting myself into the sacred office, and shall content myself with whatever it pleases him to impose upon me.
I was at Washington in September and saw President Polk, Buchanan, Walker, Bancroft etc. Walker looks equal to the whole pack. But John C. Calhoun will whip President, Cabinet & all in 1848, jump over all their heads and be President of these United States in the year of our grace 1849. Mr. Kerr had the honor of shaking hands with President Polk. I declined, and satisfied myself with a look of the man who by duplicity on the Tariff Question outstripped Henry Clay. He is the least intellectual man to be seen at Washington — at least among those who are in high office. But, notwithstanding all this, I have no doubt that his administration will be as efficient as if Old Hickory himself were at the head, and that is saying a great deal.
I don’t know whether Mr. Kerr and myself will not go to Washington again on Christmas. How would you like to meet us? I would guarantee you a pleasant visit. If you come to Baltimore, stop at Barnum’s till you call at Owen Book Store about a square from Barnum’s. The store is on the north side of Baltimore Street — two doors east of Calvert Street. If we shall have gone before you come, Owen will tell you all about it, and where we will stop at Washington. But I can tell you that myself — Gadsby’s — not the old Gadsby’s — that is now Coleman’s. But Gadsby near the Capitol. If we should not go before you come, I can go with you then, or we can enjoy ourselves in Baltimore if you wish. Bed & Board you shall have with me, and we will spend a merry time. Do come. It would rejoice my heart to see the Domine once more. But what if you don’t come? Just this. I will put as good a face on as possible, and expect a letter from you, telling me what you have been doing, what Shute (the lazy scoundrel) has been doing — Lord, and every body else. By the way, Lord promised to give me a copy of McClelland’s system of Hebrew Instruction — and he was to send it through you. If he should be in town, making pot hooks or scraping pots or, pottering in any other way, just jog his memory. Tell him I must have it. If he does not send it, I’ll have him brought up for breach of promise (he’ll never be charged with a very large breach of any other kind).
How is your history of Bucks County coming on? How is Shute’s Rhetoric? If I can get over my laziness, I shall write for the Whig Review next year.
I want you to write me a good long letter — telling me all about the college — about the Society. When I get richer, I mean to pay the Society what I owe them. I just remember I owe you something too. I mean to put you off till the last unless you become poorer than I do (which would be a tough matter). I get $300 here with board &c., and have a comfortable room with fire, and with all my poverty, I am contented and I would fill up this sheet, but the cars will soon be down with the mail from Baltimore and I must close. Come on if you can. Warmest regards to Shute & all the rest.
Affectionately yours, — Daniel Kendig
Correct the errors — I am in such a hurry.
Our address here is Golden P.O., Baltimore County, Maryland