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Sylvan Rathbun


Albert Rathbun


Rich Gulch April 28th / 53 Dear Brother I received your letter of Febuary 28th, the other day giving a good account of things at home. It found me well and hardy and diging gold in the Old Gulch. I sent you a map [letter] the first of April with a few lines in it. Since, I sold my ranch for five hundred dollars. So after debts are all settled I will have about that much "ahead of the game” I have had another mule stolen since I wrote you last winter. Three others wer stole at the same time from some of the R. Gulch boys. They tracked the thief [him] to Sacramento found where he had sold them at [auction] and embarked on a steemer bound for Maryesvill for the purpose of packing. It is not likely that the animals will ever be recovered, but the boys have caught the thief and got him in Hill jail. His trial comes off to day. I think [that] the evidence [that] they have will convict him. Awful [buisiness] for a man to go into when he knows the punishment is hanging. I swaped [that] the old claim that was engulfed with earth for a bank claim which has paid very well. I think it will last some time longer. We have a prospect of a tom stream holding good for a month yet. I will continue working in this gulch for two or three months and perhaps all summer. I can not come home yet for the money I have would not be sufficient to meet the demands that I would require if I were there consequently I would get discontented. I think I might almost as well be heare as at home. The climate is more congenial, the chance for learning is good and like wise for making money it is true that the society is poor [I will at some other time give ou [ ] of some characters] but a library can fill its place. You must not think by what I say that I do not intend to come home. [No] I was a thousand times pleased with my Father and Mother's advice. They have the right idea of the subject. But to tell you the fact I don't feel a'bit like writing to say that my mind seems so queer that I cant think of 'nothin' T'is not because I have nothing to write it is because I have evry thing to write as I feel in a good [ ] to write and not to compose I will pen a few lines that have fell under my observation in a book on Combs’ Physiology that I have just bought. It reads as follows--------- Setting aside, for the present, hereditary tendencies to disease (which must have begun at first with some progenitor, from ordinary causes, and which, therefore, are not really unconnected with the inquiry), bad health maybe regarded in one of three different lights : First, As having no necessary connection with our conduct, but as being the result of circumstances entirely beyond our knowledge and control, and sent by a superintending Providence, not to urge us to more rational care, but to soften our hearts, and warn us from sin ; Secondly, As the result of accident alone, or of external influences which we can appreciate, but from which it is impossible to withdraw ourselves; or, Thirdly, As, in every instance, the result of the direct infringement of one or more of the laws or conditions decreed by the Creator to be essential to the well-being and activity of every bodily organ, and the knowledge and observance of which are to a great extent within our own power. According as one or other of these views shall be adopted, the most opposite practical results will follow. If the first be received as the truth, and health [and and health] and sickness be viewed as dispensed without reference to our bodaly conduct, but solely as a means of reclaiming us from sin, attention to moral and religious improvement alone will be our best protection, and any attempt to avert bad health, by studying and obeying the laws which regulate the bodily functions, will be entirely useless.* [Fowlers, note] “The religious world not only deserve no credit, but on the [other] contrary the severest rebuke, for inculcating the doctrine that [sickness]and death are providential visitations; for they thus divert attention from the true causes, and the only preventive of diseases” [Ed. Am. Edit If, again, the second principle be correct, and disease arise from accident and from influences beyond our control, then neither our moral nor our bodily conduct will avail us as a protection, and our only resource will be humble resignation to the will of God. But if the third be true, and the human frame be constructed by the Creator on principles calculated to carry on life for seventy years, and if de facto a large proportion of the race perish before attaining ten years of age, chiefly from infringing the conditions on which the due performance of the various vital functions depends, it then becomes an object of great interest to us to study the structure of our organs, to discover the laws which regulate their functions, and to yield to those laws that implicit obedience from which alone health can spring. Sylvan Rathbun


Rich Gulch [Mokelumne Hill Calif.]

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Letter from Sylvan Rathbun to Albert Rathbun 1853 April 28

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