Letter from William Henry Seward to Frederick William Seward, May 11, 1871

  • Posted on: 9 May 2018
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Letter from William Henry Seward to Frederick William Seward, May 11, 1871



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Distributor:Seward Family Digital Archive

Institution:University of Rochester

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Letter from William Henry Seward to Frederick William Seward, May 11, 1871

action: sent

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

location: Cairo, Egypt

receiver: Frederick Seward
Birth: 1830-07-08  Death: 1915-04-25

location: Unknown

transcription: lmd 

revision: tap 2018-04-05

Page 1


Editorial Note

This is a copy of a letter written by Lazette Miller Worden and sent to Augustus Henry Seward of a letter dictated by William Henry Seward and transcribed by Olive Risley Seward. We include the copy because we do not have the original letter. Lazette included a note to Augustus dated June 30, 1871.
Cairo May 11th 1871
My dear Frederick
A special train sent down by the Viceroy
Birth: 1830-12-31 Death: 1895-03-02

met us at Suez on Friday last. It brought Mr. Butler
Birth: 1840 Death: 1886-05-11
the United
States Consul, his private Secretary
Birth: 1845
and Janissary
with Col.
Birth: 1814-03-17 Death: 1894-05-21
of Virginia (rebel Army) and Charles Knapp of Wash-
& was under the care of the viceroy's superintendent
of Rail roads in Lower Egypt his Excellency Betz Bey
Birth: 1818-03-01 Death: 1901-09-27
. We
left Suez at ten Oclock on Saturday and arrived here, a dis-
tance of 80 miles, at 8 P. M. making stops at Ismailla and
other places to examine the Suez Canal. It is a great work
likely to modify the commerce and the policies of Europe
& Asia, but as a financial measure it is still experimental.
We saw ships of 4000 tons pass through it with steam, averaging
three miles and a half an hour. The tolls of the ship and
the passengers amounted to more than $3000, but the ca-
nal as yet pays less than the expenses of its management
The road from Suez for more than a hundred miles
traverses the Arabian desert, without a single oasis. Sixty
miles from Cairo we entered the "land of Goshen" – a large
portion of that fertile district has been usurped by the
desert – but what remains exhibits unsurpassed fertility
I want to tell you that Suez as well as Port Said

is supplied
with fresh water by a canal from the Nile at Cairo. At a
station out of the city, the Vice Roy's Chamberlain
met us
and welcomed us to Egypt and announced to us that with
my party, I was to be the guest of his Highness. We were formally
installed on our arrival in this palace called the Kasera
Nudjha, a pleasure palace. It is spacious, sur-
rounded with fine gardens, and has a kiosk or
summer house in the grounds. The house is richly
Page 2

furnished and we are cared for, by twenty or thirty servants

The viceroys carriage drawn by two or four horses, as we
elect are constantly at our service. I was honored with
an audience with the viceroy on Sunday at 11 o'clock
A. M. at his palace at Ghiza – he returned my visit within
an hour after I had reached home. This attention on his part
is said to be a compliment never before paid by him to
a person not a sovereign or a heir to a sovereign. The Con-
sul and his secretary and Betz Bey are my guests in
this house. I invite friends to dinner and to day I dine with the
minister of foreign affairs
Birth: 1815-03-05 Death: 1871-09-07
and the minister of the interior
– On
Monday we driove to the Pyramids of Ghiza. Since my former visit
there, a fine carriage road shaded with accacias, has been ex-
tended the whole distance and a pretty and substantial cottage
has been built at the great pyramid. So the visit to the pyra-
mids, which was when I first made it, a toil and danger
has been converted into a pleasure. We saw the pyramids, inside
and out, and spake to the Sphinx who gave us no answer – And
we explored the tombs and the temple all were opened & especially
curious & interesting. On Tuesday we visited the citadel and
the great mosque, more majestic than any temple I have
yet seen except St. Peters and the Pantheon. The citadel dates
from the reign of Saladin and is memorable in all the military
movements of Egypt down to Bonapart
Birth: 1769-08-15 Death: 1821-05-05
's invasion and the massacre
of the Janissaries. While I was visiting some portions of the for-
tifications Olive
Birth: 1844-07-15 Death: 1908-11-27
& her sister
Birth: 1850-03-05 Death: 1925-07-27
were having a cordial and brilliant
reception by the ladies
of the Harem. They had music and dancing
by Circassian slaves
. We have visited Heliopolis and the city of
On described in the book of Exodus – and we found there a
granite column-obolisk which dates from the period of that
writing. It is covered with inscriptions which have been
deciphered. This relic however is far less a matter of
admiration than the pyramids & the Sphinx. Historians agree
Page 3

that no writing or picture has ever been found in those monuments
from this fact it is inferred that they were all of them, erected
before mankind had learned to write by the Alphabetic letters
or even by pictures of hieroglyphics. How strange that these mon-
uments should have survived not only the art of writing but also
the much later discovery the art of writing with the electric pen.
We have visited other curious places in Cairo. The city is in a
transition state. The Moorish or Saracenic structures which
occupy two thirds of the town are in strong contrast with the
modern style which is soon destined to become universal –
The Viceroy or Khedive as he is called, is a man of immense
energy and immense wealth. He has transformed Egypt
into a European state. By the way we learn from our Consuls

throughout Syria that the Sultan
Birth: 1830-02-08 Death: 1876-06-04
of Turkey has ordered my re-
ception and travels as a guest of the Turkish Empire every
where, while the government of Egypt professes to known noth-
ing of such a ferman while he entertains ^us^ on his own ac-
count in so magnificent a manner – Tomorrow we go by
special train up the valley of the Nile 180 miles to the present
terminus of the road. A small steam boat has been furnished and
supplied to receive us at the end of the road. and to convey us as
far up the river as we shall desire to travel – certainly to Thebes &

, and perhaps to Phile above the first cataract. We are
warned of excessive heat, but our experience of Egypt thus far
is that it is the most delightful climate in the month of May,
in the world – Our voyage may consume ten or twelve days
Page 4

We shall proceed from here to Palestine

, where the Turkish
Governor announces that he is ready to receive us – This
letter is designed for all the members of the family and is
a remembrance of my constant affection for them in-
dividually Although I do not name them. Will it not
be a strange thing in my history that if living I cele-
brate my 70th birthday amid the ruined temples and
gates of ancient Thebes? If that should be the case and we shall
be able to write we will tell you what are our emotions on
that occasion –
William H. Seward
O. R. S.
We see in the San Francisco papers William
Birth: 1839-06-18 Death: 1920-04-29
's arrival and
movements there from which we are encouraged to hope he is better