Letter from William Henry Seward to Frances Miller Seward, June 23, 1833

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Letter from William Henry Seward to Frances Miller Seward, June 23, 1833



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Letter from William Henry Seward to Frances Miller Seward, June 23, 1833

action: sent

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

location: Chester, England, UK

receiver: Frederick Seward
Birth: 1830-07-08  Death: 1915-04-25

location: Auburn, NY

transcription: obm 

revision: tap 2017-10-02

Page 1

Chester Sunday 23d June. My dearest Frances, I am almost lost in the land of romance. So much of all that is majestic
sublime beautiful or interesting has passed before me to day that I fear I shall not be able to recal it to my
mind in order to present you the mere outline of it. My father
Birth: 1768-12-05 Death: 1849-08-24
returned this morning from Manchester
I paid our bill at the Adelphi and having secured outside r seats upon the Coach we left for
Liverpool – As this bill would be more interesting to a plain Yankee than the bill of a play at
Drury Lane Theatre I transcribe it for you–
J. Radley’s
Birth: 1797
Adelphi Hotel Liverpool.
Good stabling & Post Horses
Live and dressed turtle sent to all
parts of the town and Country.
Mr Sewards, S.S.S
June 19 Turtle and Dinners 12’’0
Ale wine & Punch 10’’0
“20th Breakfast 4/ Teas and meat 4/c 8’’0
"Paid a Coach 5’’0
"Paid Porter 2’’6
"Brandy 1’’0
“21 Breakfast & Chips (mostly) 5’’6
"Turtle & Dinners 12’’0
"Brandy 1/2 Ale 6d 1’’6’
22 Breakfast & Ham 5’’0
Cab 6’’0
23d Breakfast & Ham 2’’6’
Lodgings 1’’0’’0
Waiter Chambermaid
& Porter 16’’0
Washing 8’’11
Paper ’’1
£ 5’’15’’ = $25.53

Editorial Note

This is the beginning of the second column of the bill WHS recounted. WHS wrote the bill in two columns, but we have transcribed it into one column for the sake of readability.
Besides this bill we paid the Porter for all messages, and had
only one ride in the Cab – We have travelled 16 miles to day
and the expense beside meals is as follows – For myself only
Paid porter for going to Stage Office to secure seats — 1’’0
Paid Coach fare 2’’6
Paid Porter for carrying trunks to Steam Boat 1’’0
Paid Porter carrying trunks from Boat to Stage 1’’0
Paid Coachman 1’’0
I would not object to a Private line ^about 1.50^ of stage here - But
I am trifling when subjects of interest demand attention.
At half past 10 we went on board the Steam Boat which
brought us eleven miles to Eastham Ferry – There is a Kind
of Bay or estuary at Liverpool – ^a mile and an half wide and extending to Eastham Ferry^ We came to the Ferry
which proved to be the head of navigation on the
Mersey. The land on the shores of the Mersey is flat
but the scenery was most interesting to us –The extraor-
dinary cultivation of the fields, the [ c ]


rudeness of the cotta-
ges, the antique appearance of the Churches and little
villas along the banks of the river delighted us beyond
all our most enthusiastic expectation – Arrived at the
ferry – we found the coach – bearing the name of the
"Princess Victoria" in readiness to carry us to this place
As our boat arrived at the dock I sought the coach-
man – but to my astonishment instead of the
plain attentive American stage driver I found the English “Whip
” a fat gentlemanly dressed man whom
I should sooner have believed an Alderman than a stage driver. Do you think did my Gentleman touch my trunks alas Not he!
I ought put my baggage upon the coach myself if I wanted it carried – so I employed the Porter and paid him for it –
As our object is to see the Country we had taken outside seats. For Outside seats the fare is 2 /6 – for inside seats 6/– each – The
delay in getting our baggage (or as here they call it) “luggage” gave time for the other passengers to take seats and I found
that all the outside seats were taken ^occupied^ and I was compelled to go inside – Women children and men had engaged
the seats upon the top – Although I have read frequently descriptions of the English Stage Coach I never before exactly
understood its construction – First It is not suspended upon long leather springs like the American Coaches but rests upon
very short wooden or iron spiral springs like the plainest of the American one horse waggons. The Coach body is not a long
frame but short as a common private Coach and has only two inside seats each of which will accommodate
three persons if they be not too larger than the ordinary size – The top as it is called – is a frame built up before – and
another built up behind and contain ^in^ g wide seats – the occupants of which sit on an elevation equal to the top of the coach body
When the number of passengers is great some are bestowed upon the trunks on the top of the coach body – a place entirely safe as
the roads are smooth and there is very little violence in the motion of the carriage – The roads are narrow. I think about two or
rods wide - serpentine - perfectly hard and smooth. The farm houses are built of brick or freestone – Those of the best style covered
by tile roofs, those of the inferior description are covered by thatch. In the whole distance I did not see one house which
appeared to have been built within 40 years – The houses with the exception of mansion Houses are one and an half
stories high – ancient in fashion ^ many antique windows with^ small panes of glass, and built in the cottage style of which we have so many engra-
vings in America. The road sometimes a mile in extent would seem to lead through a hamlet, the houses are so numerous – and–
then we passed miles without seeing a house – the land belonging to a rich proprietor whose tenants lived at a distance from the
road, I cannot describe to you so that you can realize the beauty of the English hedges, they are of thorn which grows
very luxuriantly and in intermingled with it and therein over it in some places almost like festoons are woodbine, sweet
briar and wild flowers of many beautiful species – The road we came traverses the County of Cheshire, which is the Cheese
manufactory I had almost said of the world – Every foot of land is cultivated with the closest attention. I think the hay (first is haymaking nearby)
which I saw gathered upon the meadows is one third greater than is obtained on the same extent of ground in America. I was agreeably
impressed by the great number of shade trees and the extent of the shrubbery. I had imagined the Country to be destitute except in par-
ticular spots of trees of every kind – but I find far more trees left in the fields than in the cleared fields in our own Country –
and groves of trees are sufficiently marvelous and extensive to diversify the aspect of the Country. You will recollect my dear Frances
how much we were delighted once by the ride from Brooklyn to Coney Island. Coney Island more nearly than any other part of the Country
with which I am acquainted resembles Old England – Bless me how slow I get along. Its already nine o,clock and I have but just
left the Ferry. A few miles from Eastham we passed the park and grounds of Sir Thomas Stanley but the mansion was hid
from our view by the trees. At the halfway house, the Coachman (you must not say driver) stopped – fastened his horses and very
deliberately dispatched his dinner after which he resumed the reins without having changed horses and brought us on to
this city – I grew so much in favor with him that he procured me an outside seat by promoting one of the deck passengers
to a place in the Cabin. I was bestowed among market women who like every body else I have met persisted in believing
me to be an Englishman – There was not either in or out of the coach a passenger who here would be called gentle unless
my father and myself be excepted. We passed on through a densely populous street half a mile when an arched stone gate-
way admitted us into the ancient limits of Chester – which is a city containing 20,000 inhabitants. The street
was very narrow and the houses were the appearance of the greatest antiquity – At an angle we turned in a passage way just wide
enough for only one carriage to pass and after driving a few miles the coach stopped at a house which bears the name of the
Page 2

White Lion.
Here Mr Coachman threw down his reins, the passengers descended from the Coach and each as he passed “Whip” dropped into his
hand a shilling – This is his established [ prequisite ]

Alternate Text

Alternate Text: prerequisite
. Did you wish to go elsewhere than to the White Lion you must carry your
baggage or procure a conveyance for it. Mr Whip having received his shilling pays no more attention to you than to a stranger.
We directed a dinner to be prepared and set out immediately to look at the Cathedral – Our way to it was across a street and then
through a passage way wide enough for a footpath only. Emerging from this dark alley we stood behind by the side of
an immense and lofty Gothic ruin ^the part which remains is^ built in the form of a cross. The materials of the structure are freestone –time has worked
fearfully upon this stupendous monument of human pride – Walls are crumbled and many pillars and buttresses are covered
with ivy, stones which were originally square and smooth are worn at the sides and are yielding to decay. Arches of stu-
pendous strength have fallen and left shapeless ruins disclosed to views. The Sexton
opened the door and we stood in silent
astonishment in the area of this immense pile. This part of it was in good preservation. I think the roof is 80 feet high and
instead of attempting to describe to you the architecture I have only to ask you to recal to your recollection the
cathedrals of which you have read in romances and then to imagine the real original of the modern attempts at
imitation of Gothic structure, and then still further to enlarge your conception of the pile beyond all restraint and you
can faintly realize the dimensions of this edifice. You are able to recollect that the roof it supported by enormous
arches thrown from the walls across upon stupendous Gothic pillars reared along through the center of the building
The roof has been repaired and ^as well as^ a great part of the building – the windows are made of the small panes of colored
glass. Images of Saints ^and monumental^ inscriptions are seen defaced and so much obliterated as to be generally illegible in all parts
of the structure – The marble floor has been relaid. Twenty feet above the spectator is a narrow gallery wide enough
for a passage way which was made through the stupendous pillars and arches. From this passage way small
dark doors or openings are seen which lead into recesses, of which the number is immense – Unlike modern churches
when once in the Cathedral you see the whole immense extent of the building – The rough oaken rafters bound
your vision above – and the walls of the building surround you – It is time for me to be more particular in my description
The Cathedral was built as is supposed in about the 7th Century and was connected with St Waberg’s Abbey in the Reformation it pas-
sed from the possession of the Catholics to the Protestant Church of England. A City in England is always the see of a Bishoprick
So Liverpool is only a town although it numbers 200,000 inhabitants while Chester with only one tenth as great a popula-
tion yet being the see of the Bishop of Chester
Birth: 1780-02-25 Death: 1862-09-06
is a city – With great good taste this ancient Cathedral has been carefully
preserved for the use of the Church – its stupendous dimensions rendered it unfit for modern worship but care has been taken
to improve as much as is necessary and preserve the rest. We passed first into the Choir after leaving the unoccupied space
of one ^transept of the building^ which await be not is not less than 300 feet long – The Choir has been repaired in entire conformity with the o-
riginal plan. There we saw the Bishops throne which was formerly the shrine of the pure and eminently favored of God
St Waberg. In ancient times this shrine was distinguished for the miracles which were witnessed there – In this Chapel is service
by the Choir every Sunday. It is the Chapel of the Bishop and is attended by the Ecclesiastics. In the rear of this Choir is
St. Mary’s Chapel – an old Roman Catholic Chapel preserved with very little alteration. There is the sarcophagus of the first
Earl of Chester whose name was Earl lupus ^Hugh Lupus, Hugh^ the Wolf – A wolf of the most grotesque sculpture with some illegible words
grace the freestone monument, In the Choir I have mentioned is an ^an embroidered^ copy of Raphaels


picture of Paul


rebuking Elymas
the Sorcerer – It is the first ancient painting ^embroidery^ I have seen and I am no longer astonished at the passion of visitors
for paintings. The ruins of St Weburghs Abbey still show in good presentation the Cloister of the Monks, their dining
rooms, ^and halls^ What cautions were mine when I traversed these walks where Religion had found a few sincere and Thousand
pretended penitents, where superstition had her seat and Hypocrisy her Court – Hea In St. Marys Abbey we saw the tomb in
which rest the ashes of Henry 4th of Germany who resigned this throne to his son and retired to the village of Handbridge across
the River ^Dee^ and dying there was buried in this Abbey. The ground beneath the Cathedral is now an entire cemetery. You wak
walk over the ashes of the dead, and their monuments blazoned with coats of arms and inscriptions of ponderous length
and leaving ^learning^ all the riches in the arches – Among others is a monument erected by a widow
in testimony of “her everlas-
ting love” of her deceased husband
“and his never dying honor.” The Sexton told us if we would come out ¼ before 4 he would give
us seats for the evening service of the Choir – (we had given this most respectable and really Gentlemanly man two shillings
sterling) We ate our dinner hastily and were punctual in keeping our appointment but he was employed in ro-
-bing the Ecclesiastics. Fearing we should be late we applied to another who seemed by his black robe and cassock
to be an inferior functionary. He showed us into an oaken pew in the wall above the pulpit – through the Gothic
allies work of which we found it difficult to see the congregation below – We withdrew from this incon-
vienent place and meeting our subaltern guide were conducted into a square pew which although equally
decorated as the others it was evident was considered as the place for the stranger and the humble – While there
we beheld the procession (The Bishop is now at London attending the House of Lords.) First came six little boys

dressed in white linen robes preceded by our subaltern – then eight or ten young men
similarly arranged then
six Ecclesiastics
asppiring to be Priests, and the procession was closed by our friend the Sexton bearing a
silver mace – He conducted the Priests to their respective places opening the door for each and then returned –
Here is a wretched attempt to give you an idea of the

Editorial Note

WHS created a drawing here

Choir. When seated a,b,c,d,e,f are prebendaries
of the Church. Each of whom reads or may read

Editorial Note

Text is part of the drawing
^Entrance of clergy & choir^
a portion of the service. A is the pew of the Bishops
family It is made in the gallery and adjoins the pulpit –
g is a Priest, l, is the Deacon
m, the Arch Deacon O
the reading desk B is the
Bishops Throne – Our
friend the Sexton now sought us out and inviting us forward ushered us into M – the seat of the Arch Deacon
. The service per-
formed was the Evening service of the Church. which varied from our own only in the prayers for the King
Birth: 1765-08-21 Death: 1837-06-20
and Royal family and in the introduction of a chant. Each of the Canons and Priests in attendance read a part of
the service. The whole of the psalms of the day for the evening service were chanted. The organs ^excellent^ good ^and the music of^ the choir is
admirable. I have never before heard an approach to sacred music – The service being ended we returned to our
hotel. But we could not be content to remain at rest when surrounded by antiquities so venerable. I [ des ]


Reason: hole
pair of giving you the faint-
est idea of the peculiarities of the town – There are four main streets perhaps two rods wide. These diverge from a centre–
all the other streets are lanes across from those and there and others many of the streets are not more
than one rod wide and two rods ^most^ of them not more than five or six feet wide being foot passages only – The Houses
all of great antiquity, built of brick and stone and only generally three and four stories high. Now what I have al-
ready said you will readily believe and such is the fact the town seems to a stranger to be a labyrinth. The streets
are paved like those of Johnstown with small round stone for sidewalks as well as the middle of the street
The Cartway is not different from the ordinary streets in other towns but the houses are built flush with the side
of the street. Then there has been an excavation which being walled – or rather the excavation being made of rock
one story of the house was thus made – but this ^underground apartment^ has an arched roof upon which is laid a firm floor of free stone
so that a not less than 12 or fourteen feet wide – These excavations are under all ^most of^ the houses and this floor is al-
ways laid upon the roof – now on the inside of this walk rises a wall and on the outside that is nearest the street
are erected brick or stone arches which support the front walls of the houses – Thus the streets have arcade walks
after this manner

Editorial Note

WHS creates another drawing here
over sub 1st story and supporting the front walls
The sidewalks for such in fact they are or promenade cover the cellar ^or 1st^ and support the 3d & 4th stories of the
house. These cellars communicate with each other and curious passages unite the floors. These shops and
stores are entered from these porticoes – and the cellars from another row of shops with different tenants
The tradition is that these subterranean dwellings were provided as security in case of attacks from the Welch who are–
to depredate upon this part of the Country.
Chester is the only walled city in England and I will now do myself the honor to wait upon you in a promenade
upon the walls erected by the Romans in order to preserve their conquest, a wall undoubtedly trod by Julius
. Its width at the top is about five feet sufficiently spacious and the The old Romans ^or their successors^ very prudently carried up the
Page 3

outside of the wall four feet above the floor & and there recesses the ^wooden^ English with equal care have erected a strong wooden railing
^on the inside^ so that there is no danger of falling. We will go from the White Lion turn to the right pass through the “war” to the next corner – turn through
a narrow passage – cross to another street, down that until we see immediately before us an arched gateway – that is the wall
Turning to the right we find a stone stairway perfectly safe but necessarily circuitous – now we have reached the top of the
wall and find ourselves looking down upon the dwellings – the wall is here 40 feet – the houses are built sometimes against it
at other places a street is left open and in other places the wall forms the street. Just before is a tower upon the wall – now
shut up. It is about 30 feet high and is moss covered – it is very ruinous. Decypher the inscriptions – there is but one legible – That is
“King Charles


stood on this tower Sept 24. 1645 and saw his army defeated on Rowton Moor” – Passing underneath the wall
not here is the Nantwick Canal a beautiful work excavated twenty or more feet in solid rock – We pass on to the
Northern gate – Here is a platform. Let us ascend it. What a prospect. Here we have a view of the Channel across
the stupendous hills of and far away you see the meandering of the Dee – I had heard so much of the
Dee that I confess I was disappointed. Instead of a large deep navigable stream imagine my surprise at seeing
a stream about the width of the Owasco Creek. Navigable only in high tide and then only for boats of a size much
half the size of our own Canal boats – still in England the Dee is a beautiful river – and the People richly deserve praise
and prosperity and honor who have made themselves Masters of Europe although located on an inhospitable island
without a river of the tenth size of Continental rivers. Passing on we come to another town with a flanking tower
nearly 100 feet in height – This protected the most exposed angle in the wall but it was forced by Cromwell
Birth: 1599-04-25 Death: 1658-09-03
– See
here is an inscription intended to perpetuate the fact that Queen Anne caused the wall to be repaired and also
to give to future ages the names of those persons who were Mayors and Justices of the peace when this work was
done by good Queen Anne. The Lions head and the Unicorns now are both gone – their sort is to be guessed for – and
the names of the Mayors are already obliterated although the dates of 1702, 03 & 4 remain
Here we have pausing our walk aimed at a beautiful Common – the guide tells us here was a cross erected to
consecrate this ground. Look narrowly and you will see it in ruins. This flat common is called the Roundel
and although the cross yet protects it has been long appropriated for a race course – If those who carried on
merchandize in the temple deserved so severe reproof what ought to be the punishment of the wretched who
violate the sanctity of this ground – And now we come to the Castle – It has been rebuilt – It is a modern
Armory built of the ruins of an Ancient Roman Castle – What immense extent – We shall never have passed
it Tomorrow we will go though it – Here is a breach in the wall – troops are now rebuilding it – Look
over and you will see the place where King Edgar landed from his barge rowed by his princely cabinet
eight in number – This took place in 649 or thereabout. If from these antiquities you will turn your eye a moment
you will see the new stone bridge over the River Dee the largest arch in the world but it is modern
if you prefer antiquities look up to the southwestern gate and behold rebuilt a Roman bridge which re-
tained its place until 1827 – and look over upon that little village and behold the retirement of Henry 4th
now we have the chiming of bells. It is curfew rung from the Cathedral at the setting of the sun – We have
now made the circuit of the city upon its walls – we will return to the White Lion –
It is now a quarter past 12 midnight – We have given directions to be awakened tomorrow morning at ½ past 5 to
look for further wonders— Until I have time to record them farewell.