This home-thrust produced a great sensation. It was evident that the jury were disturbed. When the case was submitted to them, they were absent only a few minutes. They returned a verdict in our favor. Some of them afterwards came to me and admitted that they had been corruptly approached, but added that they were not low enough to be influenced in their verdict in that way. “Of course not,” I replied; though I had little doubt that it was only the fear of exposure which forced them to do right.
I have said that in those days everyone went armed; it would be more correct to say that this was true in the mining regions of the State and when travelling. I, myself, carried a Derringer pistol and a Bowie-knife until the Summer of 1854, though of course out of sight. I did so by the advice of Judge Mott, of the District Court, who remarked that, though I never abused a witness or a juror, or was discourteous to any one in court, there were desperate men in the country, and no one could know to what extremity they might go, as I would not be deterred by any considerations from the discharge of my whole duty to my clients. So, until the Summer of 1854, I carried weapons. And yet they were not such provocatives of difficulty as some of our Eastern friends are accustomed to think. On the contrary, I found that a knowledge that they were worn generally created a wholesome courtesy of manner and language.
I continued to occupy my small office and slept in its loft through the Summer and Fall of 1851, and felt quite contented with them. Twice I was summarily dislodged, being threatened by a fire on the other side of the street. On one occasion a most ludicrous incident occurred, which I cannot recall without a smile. A little after midnight we were aroused, on the occasion referred to, by a loud thumping at our door, accompanied by a cry of “fire.” My loft was shared with three others, and at the cry we all leaped from our cots and two of our number seizing whatever was convenient and portable carried it out of the house to a distance of about one hundred yards, where gathered a multitude of people, fleeing before the flames with all sorts of baggage, trunks, chairs, beds, and utensils of every kind which they had brought from their houses. I hastily threw the papers of sundry suits and a dozen law books, recently purchased, into a box, and with the assistance of the other occupant of my loft, carried it off. Just as we reached the crowd, a pair of young grizzly bears which the owner had kept in a cage near by were let loose, and they came towards us growling in their peculiar way. At their sight, there was a general stampede of men, women, and children, in all directions. Boxes and everything else portable were instantly dropped, and such an indiscriminate flight was never before seen except from a panic in battle.