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

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



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Distributor:Seward Family Digital Archive

Institution:University of Rochester

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

action: sent

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

location: Verona, Italy

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

location: Auburn, NY

transcription: smc 

revision: zz 2021-02-18


Page 1


Editorial Note

William Henry Seward’s series of travel letters in 1859 are organized and listed by the date of each entry.
Verona Saturday Oct 29
My dear Fanny,
Verona contemporaneous with Venice, once
free like her, was conquered by her four hundred years
ago and identified with the Venetian state. At some
respectful distance, she followed her example, grew
rich, proud and pious, cultivated trade and the arts
and expended her gains in building palaces and churches
and convents. I am lodged here in ^what is now^ the “Imperial
Hotel of the two towns,” but once was a palace of
some of the Nobility of the feudal republic. The town here
would be sadly declined, but that it is as it
has long been the seat of the Military Austrian operations
of Austria in Italy. Works of unimaginable magnitude
and cost have been erected here and in the vicinity
and an army is always maintained here. So that
from Verona is enriched and restored
by the expenditures incident to the subjugation of Italy.
Verona is the frontier between ^ Lombardy Italy &^ progress in the West and
Austria and Despotism in the West. The late war rolled
over Lombardy and stopped only at the gates of Verona.
Thus far I have seen only the latter force on display. To-
morrow I shall have a view of the other and more
pleasing one. Mean time I must tell you briefly
of Veronese Antiquities and classics. You have
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already heard my description of the world wide
celebrated Coliseum at Rome. You do not know, nor
did I that this provincial town of old Rome possesses
a Coliseum, which is contemporaneous with the other
is but inconsiderably less in dimensions and equally
instructive and interesting. This ^was^ one hundred feet high
and the arena and outer circumference nearly equal
to those of Rome, built in the same manner and
arranged in the same way. It is a ruin, like
the one at Rome. But fortunately it is better preserved
and the parts which remain are just those which
have been lost in the Coliseum at Rome. While
it has lost most of what the Roman one retains,
only seven or eight arches a closed of fortress
One hundred and fifty feet long of the outward wall
Remains. And this is now detached from the ruined
building. But it is perfect from the very base to the
top from which the army stretched across the exterior
to protect the spectators. For all respects it is
just like the one at Rome and equal in strength
and elegance. But on the other hand all the
stone seats in circular rooms are preserved
exactly as they were including the Imperial seats
and all the chambers beneath them which
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lodged the ferocious actors beasts and men.
How ^ much ^ Italy much Italy has dwindled since the era of
Roman greatness may be inferred from the fact that
one the Coliseum would hold full one half
of the present population of Verona.
It would be impossible for me to describe
so as to bring up before you the magnificent tombs of
the Scaligeri families once the Dukes or Feudal
lords of Verona. Fortunes or estates that would satisfy
a modern grandee were expended in building them
They were built four or five hundred years ago
and are of most elaborate design and execution
Each They are ofall of exquisite marble, three
stories high – and flatter the pride of the dead
by preserving them in effigy as dead, and mounted
mounted on horseback and in armor as in life –
Statues go on in circles. Our cemeteries in A-
merica are reproductions of those of the middle
ages, with variations. Doubtless they will seem
as strange 500 years hence as these do now.
I must not wait to describe Churches and
porches. Suffice that here in Lombardy Venetian
Lombardy I find the Gothic ^church^ architecture in all
its original magnificence. The Cathedral is an
illustration of the past ^and ^ , of the middle ages.
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The porch bears on its parts the walls
the friezes of the famed but fabulous Knights
Orlando and Olivero
Author: Lodovico Ariosto Publisher: John Hoole Place of Publication:London Date: 1783
, and the prince has his
a dio sword drawn on which you read its
name Durindane – rendered so familiar to us
by Ariostos great poem, the Orlando,
Author: Lodovico Ariosto Publisher: John Hoole Place of Publication:London Date: 1783

The Veronese are proud of having furnished to
Shakespeare the subject, of his for his genius. I
found the vil palaces of the Montagues
and the Capulets, the house and the church
of Juliet and even her tomb, but the latter
is apocryphal. At Present, they are both ^all^ are
taverns, ^and^ of the lowest order. So ^It is so that^ the modern
use the moments of the monuments of their prede-
cessors. The great Coliseum I have ^just^ described
to you is now used as a stable for Austrian
horses Cavalry. My time is up, and I
must be off to new scenes. Farewell to
Verona, not only ^to^ the “two gentlemen
x Birth:   Death:   Birth:   Death:  
” but to all
the Gentlemen of Verona – to Church of Cinders
to tombs of lovers, and to the theater of
the Romans.
Page 5

Mrs William H Seward
Birth: 1805-09-24 Death: 1865-06-21

State of New York.
United States of America.


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No 301


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Bureau Martini[ que ]


Reason: hole



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