Letter from James Berdan to William Henry Seward, July 5, 1828

  • Posted on: 13 December 2017
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Letter from James Berdan to William Henry Seward, July 5, 1828



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Distributor:Seward Family Digital Archive

Institution:University of Rochester

Repository:Rare Books and Special Collections


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Letter from James Berdan to William Henry Seward, July 5, 1828

action: sent

sender: James Berdan
Birth: 1805-07-04  Death: 1884-08-24

location: New York, NY

receiver: William Seward
Birth: 1801-05-16  Death: 1872-10-10

location: Auburn, NY

transcription: jjh 

revision: jjh 2017-12-06

Page 1

No 85 Maiden Lane New York July 5th 1828.
Dear Seward,
The embarassed situation of my Father's
Birth: 1766 Death: 1821-12-20
estate, and other
difficulties of a domestic character have prevented me from discharging ma-
ny duties which I feel bound to satisfy, and among the rest, my promise
contained in the last letter I wrote you, to write you soon a longer & a
worthier one – The situation in which all of us at home are left, by the will
which my father made, is one which makes me feel as poor as the neediest
neighbour around in the midst of ^property^ which if differently invested and less
restricted would be ample and sufficient – The estate has always suffered by
the fetters which the will imposed upon it, but the executors have heretofore
been aided by outstanding debts, the collection of which has relieved them from
embarassment – but at present, these extraordinary means, are exhausted – there
are no longer any windfalls from abroad in their favour – and even the
property itself has declined, being situated in a part of the city whose rents
have receded – So that our little family at home have cares enough, which
we shall not be able to banish for months to come – Add to this, that we
have at the head of the family such a woman as my step mother
, who has
been partially deranged ever since the Death of my father – I beleive you
were made acquainted with her condition, by David
Birth: 1803 Death: 1827-07-20
– but he (as he never
lived at home, during this period, and as the family have strictly endear-
oured to keep the secret of their misfortune and the cause locked within
their own bosoms,) never knew the extent of the evil – It has lately
swelled beyond our control, and our powers of endurance – She has
for the last 3 months, appeared almost frantic – not from mere mental
aberration, but with a spirit which on one or two occasions has been
malicious – We succeeded the day before yesterday, in sending her
among her friends in Connecticut, and have only a faint hope that
she will improve – and unless such hope be realized we shall be obliged
to separate, by removing her to the Asylum —
These facts I have written
you in confidence, because my sister
 Death: 1832-10-05
and my aunt
are unwilling to
have them spoken of – they are more generally known however, than they
have an idea of – I would merely desire you not to mention the subject
except among those whose intimacy with the family would give them a right
to know them —
I have mentioned them to you here, to Save the necessity of
speaking of them hereafter, when I see you here – Your brother
Birth: 1793-08-23 Death: 1841-02-24
, said the other
day that you indulged some idea of settling here, and it immediately occurred
to me that I had a glorious opportunity of gaining an interest in your friendship
that would make it free and lasting, and resolved to be always awake to
secure it – I should think, you would have only to make up your mind
on the expediency of Such a removal to act upon it at once – and then
if you could connect yourself with one of our eminent practitioners, you
would never have occasion to regret your coming – As a Lawyer, your
practice would be of a character more congenial to your feelings, and much
more lucrative – and in the enjoyment of life, you would find all those
"thousand little things", which no one observes in the city, and all who leave it
miss the soonest, adding wonderfully to your happiness —
Birth: 1802-04-03 Death: 1876-02-25
& myself have often debated the propriety of removing to
the country, and do still talk of it together – But our case is far from ^being^ yours
Page 2

We have neither of us a home here – and are both, too straitened in our finances
to look with much patience on the slow advances we are making – We are
neither of us married – neither of us study here as we should do – and we
regard it as our duty, when we reflect upon it, to go somewhere where
we should be obliged and pinched to the onset – Then we are yearning
with all our bowels to support ourselves and relieve our estates from
the burden – Yet for all this, we have never thought our reasons co-
gent as we sometimes feel them to be, as conclusive enough to determine
us to go – and I do not believe we ever shall, unless peradventure some
opportunity yet unheard of awaits us —
For you, as I assured your brother, it seems to me
to be a step which your prospects here and your pride, make a duty
out of, for you to take – If you would be eminent – if you would
be independent, come to New York and enter the arena – It is a time
now, and will be until the present years for some time to come, when
a young man is listened to with interest, and cheered with congratulations
there are no great ones at the bar – and it seems as if the palms
would wither before those who now contend for it, shall have
deserved it –
Will you go to Schenectady at Commencement?
I have heard nothing about the Eulogy or the monument since
Birth: 1804 Death: 1866-09-04
forwarded the draft to the committee – and I have
seldom inquired about either, because my relation to the subject
has always made me feel awkward – A thousand times I have
thought to getting Barker to inquire for me, but something has
dashed me – I am more peculiarly situated in this matter,
because my own poverty prevented me from aiding the objects –
I have only been able to look on with a beating heart, while
the pious purpose was advancing in the hearts and exertions
of others like yourself – Willingly would I discharge the debt
of gratitude I owe, if I could –
I must beg of you as a favor, a
copy of your address, if you are not prevented from delivering it –
I do not fear you will refuse my request; – and I need not
say how valuable it will be – I intended to have read over
the letters, and sent extracts to you, but my feelings have been
so much depressed by ^the^ circumstances of which I have spoken
that I have hardly dared to open the portfolio in which they are
deposited – I will show you all when I see you – Will you not
visit the City after the commencement? – If you do, I hope to see you
after, and to see you acquainted with Irving who next to yourself
has the best place in the affection of my brother – I want
Page 3

also to talk with you about compiling the letters he has left – We
have stopped copying ^our own^ , because any arrangement will make them
useless – many scenes are described in letters to three or four corres-
pondents, and we shall not be able to decide which to insert or where
to place them, until we have collected them all –
Do answer this soon, and tell me if you will visit
New York – Yours Sincerely,
Jas Berdan
Page 4

William H. Seward
Counsellor at Law,
New York.


Type: postmark

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Hand Shiftx

William Seward

Birth: 1801-05-16 Death: 1872-10-10
James Berdan
5th July 1828