Letter from William Henry Seward to Frances Miller Seward, July 26, 1859

  • Posted on: 7 December 2021
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Letter from William Henry Seward to Frances Miller Seward, July 26, 1859



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Letter from William Henry Seward to Frances Miller Seward, July 26, 1859

action: sent

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

location: Paris, France

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

location: Auburn, NY

transcription: tml 

revision: vxa 2021-03-05

Page 1


Editorial Note

William Henry Seward's series of travel letters in 1859 are organized and listed by the date of each entry.
Tuesday July
26th. Paris.
La Martine
Birth: 1790-10-21 Death: 1869-03-01
as you know
by the popularity acquired by
his writings became the arbiter of
the Revolution of 1848 and was for a
period of three months the prominent Repub-
lican Ruler of France. Since that period the
Republic having been prematurely subverted he has
been in the shade and oppressed with pecuniary embar-
rassments such as Walter Scott
Birth: 1771-08-15 Death: 1832-09-21
endured until the accumula-
tion of cares and unequalled labors exhausted him and he
perished. Last night I sought this great and good man
who is to day as heretofore the recognized head of the
great Republican party in France. I found him in very
modest lodgings, on the ground floor - with his wife
Birth: 1790-03-13 Death: 1863-05-24
a small circle of friends of both sexes. All of them or
nearly so I recognized by reputations for republicanism
and for letters. He received me with distinguished
Kindness as one who not entirely unknown
to him by report. He is one of the
handsomest of men and of command-
ing presence, very dignified
but deferential and
Page 2

speaks English imperfectly but apprehended
all that I said, and he was pleased to say
that I had apprehended analyzed truly
the character and condition of France.
His wife is an English lady, who it seemed
to me was oppressed with cares, but
she has a noble spirit of devotion to
him and of faith in the ultimate triumph
of Liberty and Truth. She says and evidently
th evidently thinks that his financial
troubles resulted from the sacrifices he made
for the public during his brief but glorious
political ascendency. Her walls and tables
are embellished with pictures in oil
and statuary in marble, wood, and
porcelain, all exquisite and all the
work of her own hands. All of these he
showed to me with pride and pleasure.
I shall be tempted to try again the
fraternal hospitalities of these noble patriots.
Page 3

After I left
LaMartines, I
stopped at 1/2 past 10
at a cafe. It will seat
1000 persons, and late as the
hour was half that number, mixed
of both sexes were there - some playing
cards, others dominoes, others billiards
all having some refreshments, such as ices cakes
liqueurs. They were of all classes and dressed
promiscuously, some in high fashion, others are in blouses.
Not one word of discord was heard, and yet all were
in conversation- and this was only one of a thousand institutions
of the same sort filled at the same hour and more or less filled
every hour in the day. Why is it that the French are so social?
Why is it that the seamstress, and the laundress as well as the
Gentleman and the lady hope to be always in a crowd in the open
street, or in equally public places. I venture to guess a solution
Practically the French like every other people are politicians- and
want always to know the news. Other Free peoples learn theirs through
public journals, and they get at least the whole truth if they
get much more than the truth. The French People
practically have never had a free press. They
turn out into public streets highways and
other places to hear and to discuss
and this is why the Revolution
always begins in Paris
and is carried
to the end there.
The passion
Page 4

participation in public affairs cannot be suppressed,
I thought I saw in that crowd last night the
Birth: 1759-10-26 Death: 1794-04-05
and the Robespierres
Birth: 1758-05-06 Death: 1794-07-28
of some future revolution
and that not even a remote one, unless France
shall then be so fortunate as to have some other
La Fayette
Birth: 1757-09-06 Death: 1834-05-20
or some other La Martine to negotiate ^mediate^
when the crisis comes between the two conflicting
powers of Conservatism and Progress.
I must not omit to tell you of
the Gymnase. I dropped in last night to see
this great medical institution. It consists of
a great hall 100 feet long and sixty feet high
with hundreds of implements, weights ropes &
and a system of using them at the word of
command as soldiers are drilled. Invalids
of both sexes young and old recruit there and are
organized in classes of thirty. The Ladies at 10
in the morning dressed in the Bloomer Costume,
They exercise half an hour at games or in
such manner as to bring into activity every
muscle of the human body. The men and boys
in classes at other hours. They strip naked to
Page 5

wait and
apply themselves to
the exercises for half an
hour at the end of which the
perspiration flows freely and the
whole system is in a glow. There is nothing
coarse brutal or vulgar in the affair. I saw
there authors scholars bankers the finest men of Paris
in great numbers. If I could spare the time I would
go through a course myself.
In passing through the city to day I was
struck with the fact that the material improvement of Paris
disclo within the last twenty five years reveals itself
in embellishments vast and elaborate. Which on the
contrary in London ^the^ material improvement affected within
the same period discloses itself in the vast multiplica-
tion of residences and of course of population. England
has been a peaceful nation. France cherishes war,
Every monument celebrates a vict battle and a victory
and the mind wearies of wreaths columns
and inscriptions counting the heroes
of the Country. And yet what
has France now to show
for all the
heaps of
Page 6

and all the rivers of blood in these
battles which she celebrates. Only a small
and insignificant territory in Africa. Even that
little territory is paid for by the loss of civil
liberty. England has drawn the battle front.
Notwithstanding the recent alliance between
Great Britain and France was so highly valued
for a time in both countries it is evident now
that it was an unnatural one. Rivalry be-
between the two nations already rages, and
the common apprehension of mine now in
both countries is that within a year they
will be at war, and ^that^ that war will be
one which will engage all other nations.
They even predict that France will triumph. I
do not share their fears. So long as England
shall occupy the defensive and act the non-
offending part she is safe. The Emperor of France
at the head of hundreds of legions assaulting
England would fail as miserably as Napoleon
the first
Birth: 1769-08-15 Death: 1821-05-05
did in attacking Russia. The[ y ]


Reason: hole
Page 7

not tolerate
long or destructive
wars. Surely this
is enough of politics for one