Letter from William Henry Seward to Frances Adeline Seward, June 29, 1859

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Letter from William Henry Seward to Frances Adeline Seward, June 29, 1859



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Letter from William Henry Seward to Frances Adeline Seward, June 29, 1859

action: sent

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

location: Warwick, England, UK

receiver: Frances Seward
Birth: 1844-12-09  Death: 1866-10-29

location: Auburn, NY

transcription: msf 

revision: amc 2020-11-30


Page 1

Leamington June 29 th, evening
My dear Fanny
Leamington is in Warwickshire about
the middle of England. Although I spoke of it this
morning as being rural – it is nevertheless a large town,
a watering place — and very neatly and substantially
built, resembling a great square of London — But
it was not Leamington I came here to see or that
you need to know much about. Follow me in
my "fly" for the day that is just closing.
First to Warwick Castle. It is an old
baronial castle renowned in history as you
already know. The old village of Warwick was
built as a dependency on the castle and
once was fortified, you still pass by though
not under the gates of the walls. The gates
are well preserved – the wall nearly gone —
the castle of course is Gothic in its architecture
and it is a noble pile — Its walls and buttresses
and towers still perfect and looking majestically
down upon the Avon. The castle after submitting
to the mischances of civil war many hundred
years at length became [ untentable ]

Alternate Text

Alternate Text: untenable
and was
going to ruin, when a modern des inheritor repaired
renewed and restored it in its original forms and
character — Its gardens, and lawns are
Page 2

magnificently beautiful and spacious — It is
occupied by its noble proprietor, but he is now
absent, All the English nobility are attending parlia-
ment yet in London. Its apartments suited
to the taste and wealth of a prince and
filled with armor, hereditary in the family
and gathered from all battlefields in all
countries in all times. So also with statuary
and paintings of every school and of every age.
There are antiques, from Rome Greecepictures
from Modern Italy, Holland, Venice, and
there is Power's Prospero
. There are antique
relics of the Crusades and the bed of
Queen Anne — The Castle is suggestive of
the power and pride of the Nobility of
England in its rudest state, its martial one —
but it is still the tasteful home of the illustra-
tive of the wealth and refinement of the
modern Aristocracy of Britain –
We leave it and following up the
Avon on the five miles we find on its opposite
side another castle of more vast extent and
even greater interest. This is Kenilworth. It is
royal in its dimensions and magnificent in proportion.
Page 3
Built around three sides of a square of ^cut^ free stones
it encloses a space of five acres and its outer
walls must include ten acres. Its towers are
square ^and^ high and once were strong. The masonry is
fine and the style ornamental – But Kenilworth
is now only a ruin – Only the Porters lodge
(itself as great and noble as one of our
fines churches) is saved and that is occupied
by the farmer of the estate to which the whole
belongs – Nevertheless, it is not so completely
ruined as to defy your reach — You stand
in spacious squares, halls, and chapels and
even ascend winding stairs in towers, but you
look through windows and doors unobstructed
and out into the open sky — There is no roof
and on the other hand the ivy luxuriates every
where and even large trees stand sure and firm
on the very arches of the portals. What a
royal gift it was to Leicester — And there is
his marble fireplace bearing his arms
and name interweaved with those of Elizabeth
Seen from any front, in any light, Kenilworth
Page 4

is wonderful — It tells however of Royalty while it was
yet a power in England, and of Aristocracy while
it was yet unconscious of unconscious of its mortality
There is scarcely a nobleman in England who could
now build such a home. There certainly is not
one who could close its gates to the common
people — much less oppress them — When you grow old
enough it will be well to come to England
and see Warwick Castle and Kenilworth.
Such structures will be built no more — and
an hundred years hence the aristocracy will
have crumbled into ruins as mournful as these
castles — Here is some ivy from the walls of Kenilworth
And now we will follow the
Avon down its winding way through the meadows
and find other and more cheerful and
more touching moments — This pretty but quaint
old village is Stratford-upon-Avon — I am
now in the low upper chamber built of logs
and stone where the wizard youth
Birth: 1564-04-26 Death: 1616-04-23
was born.
It has been saved entire — Now I am sitting
in the chimney corner against the bacon cupboard
Page 5

where he sat by the winters fire and learned
the fairy and the witch stories and the tragical
histories which he wrought up into such wonder-
ful instructions for mankind — Blessed be
that old fireplace — may it be kept forever –
And here are his dressing case, his table, his
bureau, his iron-strong box that held his will
deposited therein by his own hand – and here are
boxes curiously wrought of a tree planted by his
own hand — Here We pass on, and creep through
the meadows a mile or two, and here I
am drinking from the very spring that Ann
Birth: 1556 Death: 1623-08-06
drew water from, to give to her Will
when he came a courting. The cup is given to
me by the hand of a collateral descendant

yet named Hathaway — and she speaks
the Warwickshire dialect that Ann did —
She says "eart" for "heart" and "Hann" for
Ann. She is poor — but the fees of the pilgrims
make her comfortable – Here is a bedstead
as old as Shakespeare's days and here are
carefully preserved linen sheets and pillow
cases spun and worked by Ann herself
The old cottage is still preserved complete.
Page 6

Here are some leaves from the well of Ann Hathaways
cottage. Perhaps derived from bushes planted
by herself —
Back again now to the town. Here
I stand on the very graves of Shakespeare
and his wife, and his beloved daughter
Birth: 1583 Death: 1649-07-16

Here I read beneath my feet, his curse against
those who should move his bones – I could
linger here for many days — But who would be
content to linger in such scenes alone —
Stratford is reviving on the revenue, derived
from pilgrims – of whom the Americans constitute
a large portion. I met seven there to day
The English indicate our propensity to couple
great names with small things. But the
taverns and shops in Stratford all
Shakespeare's magic name as purposely as
Americans could — Here is a specimen
"John Stoks
. Shakespearian Iron
Monger and brass founder"
Tomorrow I go North to Birmingham
and so through manufacturing towns
Ever your affectionate Father
Page 7

No 9
June 29