Letter from William Henry Seward to Cornelia Seward Allen, April 27, 1871

  • Posted on: 9 May 2018
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Letter from William Henry Seward to Cornelia Seward Allen, April 27, 1871



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Letter from William Henry Seward to Cornelia Seward Allen, April 27, 1871

action: sent

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


receiver: Cornelia Allen
Birth: 1862-09-11  Death: 1921-10-05

location: Unknown

transcription: dxt 

revision: tap 2018-04-05

Page 1


Editorial Note

Written by Olive Risley Seward for William Henry Seward.
Arabian Sea
April 27. 1871
My dear Nellie,
It is very long since I
received a letter from you, and
almost as long since I wrote one
to you. The Pacific Rail Road was
a very long journey of three thousand
miles. I don't remember that I saw
any birds the whole way except
some species of quails which they
tame and keep like chickens.
Some orioles and the pretty
musical bobolinks. A few years
ago the plains were covered
with buffaloes, bears and
elk and antelopes. All these
animals have disappeared
Page 2

except the cunning antelopes.
I hope your father
Birth: 1839-06-18 Death: 1920-04-29
will take
one home for you and Willie
Birth: 1864-11-10

when he returns from
San Francisco. The prarie
dog and the gophir or
ground squirrels are wise
little fur coated animals,
the prarie dogs build under-
ground cities often a hundred
miles through square. He is
grey, and sits up on his
Hind feet at the door of his
house, uses his fore feet like
hands and seems to regard
every person that passes by
Page 3

with as much curiosity
as the people of Auburn do
when they sit in their court-
yards and look out on the
Many sea gulls and
albatrosses followed us out
one or two hundred miles
on our way across the Pacific
ocean. we saw no more kinds
until we had come three
thousands miles, and there
the same ^kinds of^ birds met us to let
us know that we were in
the neighborhood of the
Sandwich islands.
Page 4

I need not tell you about
the [ porposes ]

Alternate Text

Alternate Text: porpoises
, how they roll
up and down showing their
backs above water always
traveling in shoals. but I wish
you could see the flying
fish; how they dart out of
the water and fly over the
sea, like so many swallows.
Once in a while one of them
doubtless much to his surprise
finds himself dropped
down in the deck. I always
like in such a case to
throw him back into the sea
but the sailors
prefer to
throw him into the frying pan.
Page 5

We saw a great many whales.
You know the whale is coming
by his blowing the water
through his nostrils in a
great shower ten times as
large and quite as high as
the jet of the fountain at
the foot of our terraces.
There are not many snakes
in China, some poisonous.
A little boy
waded into
a lake which we were
crossing and caught a
water snake by the tail.
we asked him to throw
it back into the water, but he
Page 6

said he wanted it for his
supper. We saw rats, cats and
dogs carefully dressed hanging
up in the markets in Canton
and advertised as delicacies
just as game is sold in our
markets at home. In China
they fasten a whistle on
the doves backs and let them
fly. the air as he cuts through
it blows the whistle and
whole flocks of these aerial
wind instruments musicians
afford great amusement
to the people of Peking.
Parrots like to live in the
nutmeg tamarind and
Page 7

mango trees in Java Ceylon
and India. They are as
plenty there and as bold
and free and a good deal
more noisy than the robins
in our garden. I have been
unable to see a living bird
of paradise. but I shall bring
you a preserved one for your
hat, it is very pretty, but not
half so pretty after all as our
own humming birds, of which
there is not one out of America .
They gave us in India sixty
elephants and three hundred
horses for the entrance of o-
ther persons into Pattialla.
The elephant doubles his four
Page 8

legs under him and
mount upon his back upon
a little ladder made just like
the steps which we use in our
libaray. When the elephant
straightens his ^full^ legs you think
you are going to fall off
behind, when he draws up his
hind legs, you have to take care
not to fall over his head but
it is all right when he moves on.
It is a curious thing to ride
through the city looking down
upon the houses and people
instead of looking up into the
doors and windows. They gave
us a combat of elephants
but they were not inclined to
fight and so withdrew
without hurting each other
They brought us two female
Page 9

elephants which they called
calves. it was curious to see
the calf suck the milk
with his mouth throw it back
into its trunk, let the milk
run down the trunk and then
take it back into the mouth.
We have seen lions, tigers,
leopards and panthers enough
to stop all the circuses in
the United States. When
they go to hunt the tigers or
the wild boar they ride in
a chair on the elephants
back. The elephant tramps
through the jungle
the wild beast starts up
Page 10

from his lair or his
dinner, and then they
shoot him. When they
hunt the lion, the sportsman
climbs a high tree near
the spring, and when the
lion comes to drink
he is shot and killed
if he is only wounded
it is a long while before
the huntsman dares to
come down out of
the trees. In Sumatra
they had great trouble
to keep the palm trees
which grow close down to
Page 11

the sea shore from
being washed away with
the roots and earth, and
making floating islands
almost as dangerous
t[ o ]


sailors as icebergs.
We are today for the
first time in sight of
Africa. The part of
it called Somala.
Tomorrow we enter the
straits of [ Babel Manbel ]

Alternate Text

Alternate Text: Bab-el-Mandeb

which means the strait
of tears.
Next week we go up the
Page 12

Red Sea. I dont think
that the chariot of Pharaoh
and his hosts will obstruct
our way.
Your affectionate
William H. Seward.
by Olive
Birth: 1844-07-15 Death: 1908-11-27

Miss Cornelia Seward