Letter from Harriet Morgan Pitney to Frances Miller Seward, February 20, 1850

  • Posted on: 11 October 2017
  • By: admin
Letter from Harriet Morgan Pitney to Frances Miller Seward, February 20, 1850



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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 Harriet Morgan Pitney to Frances Miller Seward, February 20, 1850

action: sent

sender: Harriet Pitney
Birth: 1797-12-04  Death: 1862-05-06


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

location: Washington D.C., US

transcription: ahf 

revision: ahf 2016-11-30

Page 1

Auburn Feb, 20th/50
My Dear Friend
You are entitled to my sincere thanks for
your kind remembrance of me in the midst of so many more
important demands on your time. I think of you often and
long for your return home– This is certainly very selfish in
me when my loss is your infinite gain. But there are so
few in whose friendship I have found such sweet consolation
I can poorly afford to spare you– When I think of you being
absent for the most part of six years it really sad makes me
sad. Your Sister
Birth: 1803-11-01 Death: 1875-10-03
is so faithful in her devotion to your
Birth: 1772-04-11 Death: 1851-11-13
I see nothing of her unless I call at your house–
In one of my visits to her she kindly read a part of one of your
letters to me containing the description of your dinner to the
x Birth: 1815  Death: 1866  Birth: 1814-09-17  Death: 1897-09-09 
which was truly interesting–
I rejoice to learn that you find people and customs in
Washington so congenial to your taste.
It affords me no small gratification to see those I love in their
right place enjoying distinguished advantages when they are
capable of appreciating them and deriving from them much
information with which to adorn a life of usefulness and
complete the model of female excellance.
The usefulness of my Eyes has robbed me of much enjoy-
Page 2

ment this winter for it is the time I indulge myself the
most in reading. Housekeepers you know are less subject
to interruption in the evening than any other time.
However I have been much interested with what I have
been able to read in the papers respecting the proceedings
of Congress – particularly those of the Senate Chamber
You must have enjoyed a rich treat in listening
to those noble sentiments of Mr Clay
Birth: 1777-04-12 Death: 1852-06-29
expressed in his
Speech on the subject of ^the^ Compromise.
It cannot I think fail of producing a tranquilizing
effect on the spirit of discord, which evidently exists
in the minds of both the North and South on the subject
of Slavery.
I watch every discussion in which your husband
takes a part with mingled feelings of pride and pleasure
The personal attack from the Southern Member
Mr Seward
Birth: 1801-05-16 Death: 1872-10-10
aroused my indignation. Such abuse to a
Member of that dignified body reflects disgrace on his
constituants. They must be disgusted themselves
with it. I am much pleased that
Mr Seward treated it with silent contempt. This is
certainly the most respectable way of disposing of such
I suppose the simple reading of Mr Clay’s
speeches gives one a poor idea of his eloquence
Page 3

I was, unfortunately, in Washington at a time during
Mr Clay’s absence and when there were no interesting
discussions in the Senate.
The Nicaragua Canal is a very interesting project
opening a communication between the two Atlantic & Pacific–
The meeting of the waters will furnish a theme for a
Pact. This is truly an age of wonders– Shall I live to see
the many great projects (that now agitate the public mind)
Is Sir G. L. Bulwer
Birth: 1803-05-25 Death: 1873-01-18
interesting in conversation?
We are generally inclined to suppose that if a person can
write well they must be able to converse pleasantly–
This is not howevir always the case.
I see by the papers that Jenny Lind
Birth: 1820-10-06 Death: 1887-11-02
is expected to visit
this Country professionally next Summer–
It would be worth a journey to New York to hear her Sing.
I have an unconquerable desire to hear her sweet music
performed by herself. I have so ^a^ great passion for the
plaintive style of music.
I congratulate you most cordially on the expected visit
of your Son

Editorial Note

Either Augustus Henry Seward
Birth: 1826-10-01 Death: 1876-09-11
, Frederick William Seward
Birth: 1830-07-08 Death: 1915-04-25
, or William Henry Seward Jr.
Birth: 1839-06-18 Death: 1920-04-29
– I have only had three letters from
Birth: 1781-05-15 Death: 1855-08-25
since his arrival at California He went on to the
mines immediately– Stayed but a few days in San Francisco
He unfortunately got poisoned which confined him to his
Tent for two weeks – with this exception his health is good
Page 4

or was, at the date of his last letter which was Nov, 14th
He writes in good spirits & is doing something at commission
business but was too lame as yet to use the pickaxe and
Crowbar in digging Gold. The terrible state of things in
that Country together with the scarcity of provission fills
my mind ^with^ constant anxiety– What is such a state of
mind but a lingering death.
Instead of having a gay


Excited with merriment or delight • Having many or showy colors • An ornament •
and pleasant winter poor Mary

has been confined to her room most of the time since she
went to Albany. For twenty days she suffered much with
her Eyes– Since that her Feet have have been lame from
swelled joints– Your Sister has probably informed you
of the illness of Mrs Nelson Beardsly
Birth: 1815-03-06 Death: 1854-07-16
for the winter past–
She has just returned from the Utica asylum where she
has been for some time and her friends are ^now^ encouraged with
hopes of her recovery. While at the asylum when unobserved
by the woman who had the care of her she braided her hair
very neatly and took her Scissors and cut it off–
You will recollect how long & beautiful it was–
How melancholly it is, to see an interesting woman deprived
of her reason. This has spread a gloom over Auburn this win-
ter. I did not intend - when I commenced this - to inflict
such a lengthy epistle
A writing directed or sent, communicating intellegence to a distant person; a letter •
upon you - but your kind & gentle deal-
ings with the faults of ^your^ friends leads me to presum^p^tion– I hope it will
not prevent you from writing me again. Remember me kindly
to your Niece
Birth: 1826-12-12 Death: 1909-08-24
and make my best regards to Mr Seward and
believe me your much obliged Friend
H. Pitney–

[left Margin]
Hand Shiftx

Frances Seward

Birth: 1805-09-24 Death: 1865-06-21
Mrs Pitney
Feb 21 1850