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23

GENERAL LESLIE COMBS

At a later date, he aided the public libra- ry by a large donation, considering his limited means; stimulated the establish- ment of public free-schools; and a female orphan asylum; all of which are now con- ferring inestimable benefits upon the com- munity. Not a church has been erected in Lexington, for whites or blacks, to which he did not contribute his mite. In 1833, he passed through the severest or- deal of his life. When the Asiatic chol- era first made its appearance on this con- tinent, (in Canada, we believe,) scattering death in its path and all around, an almost universal panic seized upon the public mind. The alarm seemed to increase ae- cording to the distance from the scene of its first desolation, and prevaded to a great extent the Community of General Combs’ residence as well as others, although the medical faculty there assured the people that they were in no danger; that their po- sition was so elevated and healthful, that if it should even “rain pestilence upon them, it would run off.” The consternation ofthe community 1nay be easily imagined, when, in June, 1833, that mysterious disease burst forth in all its fury in their midst, sparing neither age nor sex; old men and children, master and slave, seeming alike subject to its sudden and fatal visitation. Its first known demonstration was in General Comb’s own family, upon tl1e person of a favorite servant, who died in a few hours; thence it spread among his immediate neighbors. Thousands lied to the mountains, leaving their houses deserted or in care of their slaves, who, being thus abandoned, became more alarmed, and consequently more liable to the fell disease. Many thought it contagious, and would not even visit their relatives and dearest friends. A high duty seemed to devolve upon Mr. Combs. With a calm and determined front he met it, and went to work to study the disease, endeavor to arrest its progress, and relieve its subjects. He never stopped, except for brief periods of rest, day or night, for more than thirty days, devoting himself wholly to the sick and suffering; rich and poor, black and white, bond and free, friend and foe, alike received his services, sometimes in the most menial and disgustful ofliees at their bedsides. It may be justly claim- ed for him that he was the instrument of hope, of relief, of prolonged life to many.        

He had a full sweep of vengence upon his enemies—he had a few such—and upon his political persecutors, by helping them when they could not help themselves, and felt as if they were abandoned by every friend on earth.  “It was a glorious triumph,” is the language of Mr. Combs. “I would not now exchange it for a victory on the battle field, or the highest political promotion—so help me God !”

The entire population of Lexington was almost decimated in a month. Mr. Combs had met the British and the Indians in hos- tile array ; had been wounded, and a prison- er, subjected to every savage barbarity ; but he had never betbre found such a foe as the cholera of 1833, so horrid, relent- less and terriiie, in act and aspect. His escape from it, exposed as he was, seemed almost miraculous; for he was not touch- ed till near the close of the season of the epidemic, and then not very violently. His health is still perfect, and he retains all the vigor and elasticity of early man- hood.

In all the relations of life, General Combs has discharged the obligations grow- ing out of those relations with scrupulous fidelity. Enterprising and public-spirited, he has ever been among the foremost in promoting any scheme having for its ob- ject the public good, and has liberally used his means in contributing to every project calculated to advance the public prosper- ity. As a member of the Legislature of Kentucky, and Chairman of the Commit- tee of internal Improvenients in 1833, he strenuously advocated a system of internal improvements, which by his influence, was partially adopted, and which has done much towards placing the State in its pres- ent high position. Asa private citizen, within the last few years he has devoted himself to the work of arousing the pub- lic mind to the importance of railroad communication; and by his addresses, and through the press, has done more, perhaps, than any other man, in awakening the people of Kentucky to the necessity of prompt and vigorous action in this behalf The result is seen in the various lines of road projected and new under progress, and by which the entire State will, in the course of a few years, be traversed. Such indeed has been his characteristic energy and zeal in matters of this sort, that when        

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