Letter from William Henry Seward to Frances Miller Seward, December 5, 1834

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Letter from William Henry Seward to Frances Miller Seward, December 5, 1834



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Distributor:Seward Family Papers Project

Institution:University of Rochester

Repository:Rare Books and Special Collections


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Letter from William Henry Seward to Frances Miller Seward, December 5, 1834

action: sent

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

location: Albany, NY

receiver: Frances Seward
Birth: 1805-09-24  Death: 1865-06-21

location: Auburn, NY

transcription: anb 

revision: ekk 2015-08-17

Page 1

Albany, Friday evening, December (I believe the) 5th, The failure of your anticipated letter made me a gloomy morning
my dear Frances. But I recollected that although in entire health and prevented only from writing to you by pleasures
which reproached one for enjoying them alone. I had suffered a days detention of my last letter. And I deter-
minted to believe that you and Fred
Birth: 1830-07-08 Death: 1915-04-25
were as well as at the date of your previous letter. Tomorrow’s
mail will I hope assure me that you are better. Mr. Rutherford
Birth: 1810 Death: 1871
who left me this evening is now far
on his way with my letter and books. I have only to add the incidents of another day, which
I do not feel quite at ease in saying has passed like most of its predecessors. Day before yes-
terday Mr. John Townsend
Birth: 1783-06-14 Death: 1854-08-26
called and asked me to dine to day with him. Mr Cary
Birth: 1787-08-11 Death: 1869-06-20
, who was
invited, accepted and I of course could not decline, as I was kindly given to understand the dinner was
for me. We went at 3 We found Mrs Townsend
Birth: 1790-01-12 Death: 1849-08-17
, Mrs Judge Spencer
Birth: 1768-03-09 Death: 1807-05-18
and the Miss Parkers
xMiss Parkers

, Mr Stevenson
Birth: 1788-11-25 Death: 1852-07-03
Mr Walsh

Col Barnard
Birth: 1815-05-19 Death: 1882-05-14
Lewis Van Vechten
Birth: 1816-07-06 Death: 1901-04-09
, Judge Spencer
Birth: 1788-01-08 Death: 1855-05-17
Rufus B King
Birth: 1814-01-26 Death: 1876-10-13
Henry L Webb
Birth: 1795-04-05 Death: 1846-10-12
and one or two more friends. We
had a pleasant, very pleasant party. We sat until half past 6, and drowned the recollection of the untoward
result of the election. Mrs Townsend has her 13th child
Birth: 1834-02-17 Death: 1914-11-01Certainty: Probable
now only 6 months old. She appeared very well
and more agreeable than heretofore. It was proposed at length that we should go to Mr Knowles

benefit. I had had quite enough of theatricals, but assented to go provided Judge Spencer would
make one of the party. To the surprise and pleasure of us all he assented and we took one
of the private boxes. The play was the Wife. I cannot detain you with a description of it into which
I can throw none of the interest of the performance. Weed
Birth: 1797-11-15 Death: 1882-11-22
and Rathbone
Birth: 1791-08-02 Death: 1845-05-13
were at the play. I hoped
to see them after it was ended, but uncle
Birth: 1765-06-10 Death: 1847-04
and I had ^have^ a quiet room. He is reading the Journal
and I as you see, employing myself in that which wakes so much of my happiness. Dearest if it
seem to you from my letters that I am very dissipated
To scatter; to disperse; to separate into parts and disappear • To expend; to squander; to scatter property in wasteful extravagance • To scatter the attention •
do me the justice to remember that I attend
the Court of errors four hours a day, of which I make no mention in my letters because its
proceedings can by no possibility interest you. While I was out today Mr Knowles called
and left his card. I was sorry I did not see him.
Shall I tell you my dream last night. I was weary of dissipation
To scatter; to disperse; to separate into parts and disappear • To expend; to squander; to scatter property in wasteful extravagance • To scatter the attention •
my head pained
me, and as soon as I had finished my letter to you I retiredhoping that I should dream of you
and the boys. But I was restless. I coughed, it seemed as if I could not sleep although my
whole system was wearied and exhausted. I turned to the one side and the other but I was
cold, I grieved that I was along, that I was unworthy of your love, and of the favor of that benef-
icent being who gave you to me. I was quite disgusted with myself and all the world when
an individual whom least of all I love or esteem sat down by my bedside and endeavored
to soothe my perturbed spirits. All at once a malicious demon glowered upon me. I shook aghast
at his unearthly eyes and as I turned to my respected comforter I saw that he misled smiled in tri
umph over my apprehension. Then unnatural pain and ache seized my limbs. I mustered all
my philosophy and reasoned with myself that this visitation of odious beings, unnatural and
superhuman had no power to harm me and I would defy them, but still I could not sleep.
I could not lie at ease, I groaned and called on you as one that loved me and would con-
sole me. I made one bold exertion to rescue myself from my persecutors when I awoke and felt
that my feet were uncovered while a lurking devil had taken possession of the cavity of my
decayed double tooth. Mr Cary this morning inquired what made me so restless. I looked
at my tongue in the mirror and told him a fever. I have despite the temptations of Mr
Townsend’s dinner been abstemious to day and hope that I will be able to sleep soundly
to night. I am sure my dearest that if you are well enough to write me I will
have a letter tomorrow evening. You must hereafter send me a letter every three
days even if you have not time or strength to fill it as you would wish. Your health
is a subject of constant anxiety. I am growing womanish in fear for the safety of
that little family with which Providence has blessed me. I feel that I have been so
ungrateful that I shall be punished for my crime. Tell me in your own dear way that I am
loved and cherished in your heart as I used to be when I better deserved so happy a lot
Page 2

Saturday night. I had hoped my dear Frances to occupy this page in answering a letter from you. But I am post-
poned until tomorrow morning. In the mean time I have no other recourse but to hope that your silence is not
occasioned by an unfavorable turn in your illness. Jennings
Birth: 1793-08-23 Death: 1841-02-24
came up in the last nights boat and
has passed the day with me. He says be left his family entirely well. Polidore
Birth: 1799 Death: 1872-04-23
it seems has worked
out his term at Round Hill and left home last Tuesday (as Jennings was informed by a letter from my
Birth: 1768-12-05 Death: 1849-08-24
) to go to New York to have Jennings find him a place to labor in some character I know not
what. Polidores trunk arrived at Jennings house with the letter written by our father, but
he had not been seen or heard from when Jennings left. I think he has gone off into some
distant part of the country where he will not probably be embarrassed by the interference
of his relations. Sister Lockey
Birth: 1805-07-15 Death: 1848-05-14
! I feel her misfortune - In that lonesome place with four
infant children to provide for and the entire responsibility of conducting the concerns of the
farm. I fear Polidore's case is hopeless. I should be willing he would go to sea on some
long whaling voyage or board a Temperance ship. There can be little hope of his being
reclaimed by any other means.
Jennings has heard generally that the family at Florida are well. He brings no intelligence
of importance other than I have mentioned. He is as earnestly and diligently employed as heretofore
in the prosecution of his sunday school mission. I believe he has very great success generally
in soliciting pecuniary
Relating to money • Consisting of money •
aid from the pious friends of that cause.
We have had our daily visits from Weed and Tracy
Birth: 1793-06-17 Death: 1859-09-12
The former has recovered all his usual buoyancy
of feeling and is as interesting as we used always to find him last winterThe latter is unhappy,
as may well be supposed being entirely deprived of all that heretofore constituted his happiness,
the sympathy and attentions of friends and admirers. You and I my dearest well know that he
does not derive from his worst intimate
Inmost; inward • Near; close • Close in friendship or acquaintance • One to whom the thoughts of another are shared without reserve • To share together • To hint; to suggest obscurely; to give slight notice of •
relation that happiness which abides with us when we are
separated. Always hitherto Weed Cary myself Birdsall
and others have ministered to his am-
bition as well as his worthier feelings. And besides us he has been regarded as the leader of
a pure zealous and confiding party. Now we the aforesaid trio vainly endeavour to conceal
the change of feeling which has come over us while all the 170,000 Whigs in the state now
are so poor as to do him reverance. Now too that the Election has passed by the Jackson
Birth: 1782-03-23 Death: 1835-04-13
no longer solicit his advice or seek his conversation. So true is it that men love the
offence which he has committed while they lose all respect for the offender. For my part,
it is a subject of quiet pleasure to me that I shall so soon be released from a situation in
which the recollection of most incidents renders my presence embarrassing to him. He has
during the last three or four days felt more keenly his condition that the Journal is open
to me and speaks of and for me and my sentiments while his altered relations compel
him to be estranged from it. But I will not dwell upon a theme which gives me no
pleasure. I cannot but regret this last delusion of my riper years is dispelled. I
try to forget the veneration I once indulged towards him.
Mr Sudam
Birth: 1782-03-23 Death: 1835-04-13
has left the Court after disgracing himself and the body to which he belonged
by being several consecutive days, offensively intoxicated in the Senate Chamber. He scarcely
submits to any restraint
You have not yet my dear F. given me your orders for the mantua maker and
milliners I hope they will come before I go to New York. You must not leave me to come home
without some New Year offering of that kind. You must find out what is wanted both by yourself
and our dear sister Lazette
Birth: 1803-11-01 Death: 1875-10-03
, and let me know in time to procure it.
It is a solitary place this chamber at half past 11 at night. How would a letter from you relieve
the gloom, and prepare my mind for the Sabbath, a day for which I think my veneration is reviving and
which besides all its other sources of interest has that of bringing your love immediately home to my heart. God
bless and preserve you.
Page 3

Monday morning December 8th. I do not like to write to you under the pressure of the closing of the mail. But I have
as usual excuses as thick as blackberries for being driven to this extremity. Your letter of Sunday, Monday and Tuesday came yesterday morning and brightened one entire day for me. I was relieved from such a weight
of anxiety concerning you that I gave up to a cheerfulness of heart almost unbounded although to day the
singular and unaccountable symptoms of Fredericks pain alarm me much. I was not without hope
my dear F. that the blight of my political prospects would be regarded by Mrs Porter
Birth: 1800-04-12 Death: 1886-03-29
as complete
and that she would fall off among the number of those who would be less your friends than now than
if you had shared the elevation to which our friends wished to advance me. In plain truth I see
that the end of the matter will be that Mrs H
. and Mrs P. will in the end seek to involve you in
their rupture. I should not be unprepared now to decide between them if it were to choose. I think
Mrs. H must the better of the two in mind and heart although she has foibles which expose her
to the ridicule of terrible people every day of her life. Mr P. is supremely selfish Mrs H su-
premely vain. You understand my dear F. your own proper course. It is to withhold yourself as far
as possible from the confidence of either. You are both wiser and better than both of them and en-
titled to be independent of both. Now it will be so far impossible to pursue this course of refusing
the confidence of both of the belligerents that you will be unable to keep your ear from either.
But you must do it as well as you can and in the embarrassment in which they will
involve you will be slight in the exact measure in which you have succeeded in that purpose.
But dearest do not think I am reading you a lecture. I ran into this vein from thinking upon the
character of our two dear neighbours. And here I quit it.
It is all right to get that table at John Richardson
Birth: 1780-12-19 Death: 1849-04-14
’s. You will of course keep me advised
as far as you can learn them yourself of the arrangements for the important event in connec-
tion with which you wrote concerning the table. I can scarcely feel reconciled to have you
thrown upon the change which that Devil will work when I am so far from home. You will
need my assistance and sympathy. But I do not say this by way of asking postponement.
It is quite uncertai[ n ]


Reason: wax-seal
at what precise time I can return, and as far as I am person[ ally ]


Reason: wax-seal

concerned it were be[ st ]


Reason: wax-seal
[ t ]


Reason: wax-seal
hat I were absent than present to grace an event which will br[ eradicated ]


Reason: wax-seal

joy in which I can [ participa ]


Reason: wax-seal
te. My only desire is not to leave you to the solitude and response-
bility of the position in which that event will place you.
Rathbone called yesterday evening for Uncle Cary and myself to go to Mr. Welch
Birth: 1794 Death: 1870
’s church. Cary
went with him and Jennings and myself went to Mr Campbells
Church where we heard a
very powerful sermon from that gentleman upon the evidence furnished by the prophecies,
of the Christian Religion. I felt happy very happy that for once my bias was with the preacher
in this argument and I felt not the least desire to controvert a Proposition so important to
be believed. I had hoped to spend the day in profitable study and reflection suited to it.
But Rathbone in the morning gave us an invitation to dine with him. I could not decline if it was de-
sirable. for Jennings part to go. I threw the responsibility on him not doubting that his religious
feelings would induce him to decline. But to my surprise he accorded, It was however under
the mistake that Rathbone was a householder and we was to have a cold and quiet dinner
At one o clock we were at nt’s and I need not say that the invited guests and the wine were of
such a quality that we could not leave have until almost 5 o'clock. When we came from there
Rufus H. King
and Mr. Bloodgood
Birth: 1768-07-18 Death: 1840-03-05
(mayor) were in our room. I staid with Cary to entertain them
while Rathbone went with Jennings to church. On their return all staid till 1/2 past 10. Jennings
“put his feet upon the stove” and commenced one of those long brotherly talks about father
mother brothers sister and cousin which chained me in my place until one o'clock. I went
to my bed regretting the loss of a day but with the determination that this letter should not lie
over to days mail. I am impatient to quit this kind of life and you will find me a very contented
lover on my return to you. Remember me in all your letters to my dear Sister Lazette. Jennings of
course desires to be commended to you in all brotherly love. Kiss both the little boys
x Birth: 1830-07-08  Death: 1915-04-25  Birth: 1826-10-01  Death: 1876-09-11 
and say
to them that I shall wish to know how much they have learned in my absence. Keep me in all
your thoughts and above all in all your prayers and believe me ever faithful.
Page 4

Mrs. William H. Seward
Hand Shiftx

Frances Seward

Birth: 1805-09-24 Death: 1865-06-21
Henry Dec. 5th