Letter from William Henry Seward to Frances Miller Seward, September 1833

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Letter from William Henry Seward to Frances Miller Seward, September 1833



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Letter from William Henry Seward to Frances Miller Seward, September 1833

action: sent

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


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

location: Auburn, NY

transcription: sss 

revision: crb 2015-09-01

Page 1

My dear Frances. I know the disappointment you will feel when you receive this short letter – short it
must be in comparison with the volumes contained in some I have written. Be assured dearest that
my regret for being obliged to read so short a letter will exceed yours in receiving it. You must imagine the
reasons which have compelled me to lay aside unfinished the large sheet I had commenced. My time
and the facility for writing are both too precious to be wasted in apology.
I wrote you a hasty line on arriving at Paris. I have only time now to give you a brief account of the occu-
pations of the week we have passed here. We took our lodgings at the Hotel Montmorence Boulevard
Montmartie. The location is excellent as we find ourselves almost in the centre of the most beau-
tiful and interesting part of the town. Much as we have been interested, constantly as has been the
excitement of our feelings since we left New York our arrival at Paris presented new and grand
subjects of interest. Unable to procure our letters at an hour so late as that of our arrival we
walked out without end or aim to look at any interesting object we might chance to see.
The Boulevards! You do not know what they are. They were formerly the boundaries of the City,
an open space between the buildings and the walls, but as the City increased it was extended
on the other side of the walls, leaving this, space still open and forming in the City and almost in
the centre in some places a very wide and beautiful street. The Parisians knew how to
take advantage of this fortunate reservation of ground. the Boulevards even converted into
the most beautiful street, the buildings on both sides are handsome than those in the other
streets, the centre is well paved - spacious side walks on both sides afford a fine prome-
nade and rows of elms the whole length of the Boulevards on both sides of the street under
these promenades the most delightful in the City. As almost the whole circular exterior
has been preserved in the manner I have mentioned the boulevards are almost seven miles
long. You may imagine how beautiful such a street must be in such a great City.
Like London the old parts of Paris contain very narrow dark and unpleasant streets.
fashion proscribes the Fauxbourgs which are the new parts of the town built outside of the
Boulevards in what were the suburbs of the City. Of course the Boulevards have become the
grand resort of the fashion gaiety
mirth; merriment; acts or entertainments prompted by, or inspiring merry delight • Finery; show •
and splendor. Every place in Paris exhibits melancholy
marks of the violence of the many Revolutions which the City has witnessed during the late forty
years. So it is with the Boulevards. During the revolution of 1820 the People cut down hundreds
of the majestic elms to make clubs for assailing the troops and thus these delightful promenades
were greatly despoiled. But the government has been prompt in its exertions to restore the beauty
of the favored streets, and the new trees are seen planted where ever any have been ^were^ removed.
The shops on the boulevards are splendid, and as all Paris live from home these streets
are crowded with Cafes/Coffee Houses/ and Restaurants or Eating Houses. The walls of these
Coffee Houses and Eating Houses are superbly ornamented with mirrors, and in the evening
they are brilliantly lighted. Here weve seen hundreds of persons at the tables, ladies, as well
as gentlemen all elegantly dressed drinking coffee, eating dinner, reading the news, discuss-
ing politics the news or the fashions. The sidewalks being very wide, rows of chairs are ar-
ranged under the elms, for two cents you are furnished with a chair and a newspaper
and every pleasant afternoon and evening the rich and poor of Paris are seen promenading
or sitting in these chairs enjoying the cheap luxuries of the Boulevards. Of course the Boulevards
present most promiscuous groups, all classes conditions and sorts of People great and low
rich and poor civil and military and people of all countries and languages. The shade
of the elms affords place for petty merchants vendors of all imaginable trifles, books pic-
tures ribbands gloves buckles fruits flowers, these merchants are generally females,
many of them very pretty, they cry though not too loud as to annoy you their articles of traffic
with the price demanded, and he must be a hard hearted man who can resist their im-
portunities for purchases. Besides these petty merchants the Boulevards exhibit all man-
ner of devices to please a people easily moved. Dancers, jugglers, buffoons, recitations, recitors
of humorous stories are seen in their stations exciting all their powers for the amusement
of the circle gathered around them and happy in receiving the few sous which the spectators
throw to them as a compensation. Does any one wish to see the beauties of Paris let him
make the tour of the Cafes eating houses and shops of Paris. Women carry on the whole busi-
ness and each merchant selects for foreman the young woman of the greatest beauty his
friends will enable him to employ. In every Coffee House a kind of throne is erected splendidly
adorned with mirrors and flowers. Here sits the damsel who presides. She must be politely
addressed when you enter and when you take your departure. She directs every thing and makes
Page 2

the bills which are always ready when demanded and what's never to the credit of the French as always
honest. I must explain a little farther about the Coffee Houses and Restaurants. In Paris many families never
take even their breakfasts at home, and every body dines and takes tea or coffee in these public places
A card is presented you as soon as you enter the house, the names of the dishes or other articles with
their prices are before you. You direct what you will have and it is immediately furnished at the
prices mentioned in the card. Every effort is made by the thousand competitors to excel in their
respective establishments and no city can present a more gay


Excited with merriment or delight • Having many or showy colors • An ornament •
scene than the afternoon when
every body visits these places. Well as I was saying we walked along the Boulevards until we
came to a street which led from the Boulevard to a large and splendid square in the centre of
which stood an immense obelisk ^column^ surmounted by a statue which we at once recognised
to be that of Napoleon. This street is now called the Rue de Napoleon. By that name it was called
during the dynasty of the Emperor
Birth: 1769-08-15 Death: 1821-05-05
. In 1814 when the Bourbons were restored the street was in petty
triumph christened the Rue du Paix, the street of Peace but since the expulsion of Charles the 10th


it has
again renamed the name of the Emperor. We walked down this street to the Square called the Place
Vendome where we had an opportunity to examine more closely and admire the Column. It is 141 feet
high and thirteen feet in diameter and is built of the cannon taken by Bonaparte from the Austrians
The pedestal is filled with bas reliefs composed of trophies of arms and at each angle is an eagle grasping
a crown of laurel. Upon the column one above another to the summit are bas reliefs representing accurately
the various events of the Campaign of 1805 from the breaking up of the camp at Boulogne till the peace
of Austerlitz. A spiral line separates the tablets containing these bas reliefs and bears the names of the
several battles which the divisions represent. The pedestal bears an inscription stating that the col-
lumn was erected by "Napoleon Emperor Augustus in honor of the French Army in the Campaign of
1805. In 1814 the statue of the Conqueror was taken down but after the Revolution of 1830 it was restored
and it now remains and I trust will long remain the proud monument of the Emperor who did
accomplished so much for Paris and for France. The column was commenced in 1805 now finished
in 1810 and cost 1,000,000 of franks (upwards of 200,000 dollars). Not less than an hundred persons came
to look at this monument during the time that we remained there. A noisy Frenchman
walked around it crying a pamphlet descriptive of the tablets upon it for two sous only - and for
the number of sales made while we were there we had no doubt he finds it a fair business. I bought
one from which I derived several of the above particulars. The base of the monument was covered
with green flowers in wreaths and single. My father
Birth: 1768-12-05 Death: 1849-08-24
asked who spreads these flowers here
and keep them always green. "Tout le Monde"/All the World" replied the Frenchmen, and so
in truth it is. The day has come when Napoleons crimes are forgotten by the French People. His
victories, his benefits conferred upon his Country and upon Paris are remembered only with his
unhappy fate. Had the young Duke of Reichstadt
Birth: 1811-03-20 Death: 1832-07-22
lived and inherited but a little of his fathers talents
and ambition I doubt not this enthusiastic admiration of his father would have raised him at the
first cries of popular commotion to the throne of France. It was night when we returned along the
Rue Napoleon and the Boulevards to our Lodgings. Nothing could exceed the beauty of the latter
awarded by the population of Paris, some walking, others sitting, sipping coffee reading the news
listening to the jugglers and the mountebanks and singers under the shades of the elms illuminated
by the thousand lamps in front of the Coffee Houses. But we hurried past them and having taken in
the most comfortable manner possible a warm bath - forgot in our sleep - Paris and France and
all the world but our friends at home whose letters we expected to find at our Bankers
on the
Our fvisit to our Bankers on Wednesday and the reading of the few letters we received
I mentioned in my former letter. After writing that letter we set out to see whatever we might find
in a walk without a guide. In the Rue Vivienne we found "the Bouise" (Exchange which we without
hesitation pronounced the finest public building we had seen in Europe. It is a long square
of white marble surrounded ^on all sides except the front^ by a colonnade of exquisite proportion and beauty consisting of sixty
four columns of the same height with the edifice and of the Corinthian order. In front is a vesti-
bule of 14 columns. The great Hall is 14 feet long and seventy five feet broad, and is capable
of containing 2000 persons. The Arch is embellished with paintings emblematical of the four
quarters of the earth in imitation of bas relief and so admirably executed that at first view I
supposed them to be marble. In another part of the building is the tribunal of commerce as
our visit was during the business houses we were gratified by seeing the Congregated merchants
of the Capital. Taking our place at the sailing of the gallery which surrounds the Chamber
we looked for an whole hour at the multitude assembled and engaged in the negotiations
and arrangements of the important trade of the City.
Page 3

From the Exchange we went to Galignani's a large book store and reading room established for the
accommodation of English and Americans. For maugre
In opposition; in spite of • To defy •
all their prejudices against each other
here it is and must continue to be that in Paris as well as throughout the Continent these unloving
brethren are classed together. Here we found American newspapers the Commercial Advertiser
the American, The Evening Post of dates as late as the 15th of July. The Messrs Galignani also
publish daily an English newspaper. as it has been more than a month that we had been
without news from home we devoured the contents of these journals with great avidity. Hours
passed away unheeded and when we left the Reading room time only remained to take our din-
ner after the fashion here at a Restaurateurs Thus ended the second day at Paris.
On Thursday we commenced with the aid of a guide in good earnest to see the sights of
Paris. Our first visit was to the Louvre ^containing^ the most splendid collection of ^in^ the world of the works
of great masters of Antiquity in Sculpture and Painting. But as it is doubtful whether I shall be able to
describe at present any part of this interesting exhibition I will first tell you about the Palace which
contains it. The Louvre is the most ancient of the Royal Palaces in France. It existed in the time of Dagobert.
It was destroyed by the Normans but was rebuilt by Louis the Young. It formerly contained an im-
mense town of a gloomy construction in which all the feudatories of the crown were compelled
to assemble at stated times to pay homage to their King and review their oaths of allegiance. In case
of disobediance the recusants were imprisoned in the tower. This tower gave so gloomy an appear-
ance to the Palace and the Prison came to be the subject of so many frightful stories that many
of the kings refused to reside at the Louvre. It was destroyed many years ago. The Louvre has been
the subject of the care of the French Monarchs for the last two hundred years and has but recently
been completed in the style which it at present exhibits. It is built around a square 1600 feet
in circumference the North side is a bas relief representing Minerva encouraging the
sciences, on the de a representation of the genius of France replacing the mischiefs of war by the art ion Marine and Commerce on the East side are the aims of France and on
the Westside victories. Upon one of the Facades are statues of Piety Justice Victory Justice
and Power. Over the re statues of Moses Numa Iris and Manco Capac the Peruvian Legis-
lator. In another pediment are statutes emblematic of victory and Abundance, strength and wisdom.
Other pediments contain statutes emblematic of the muses, Poetry and the arts. The Eastern front
is a columade 525 feet long built by Louis 14th
Birth: 1638-09-05 Death: 1715-09-01
and is called the grandest monument of the
reign of that monarch. In the centre are bronze folding doors built by Napolean of great beauty.
The Colunnade is surmounted in the Centre by a pediment which contains the best of Louis 14th
Minerva is seen placing the bust upon a pedestal and History is writing underneath Ludovic
Magus "(to Louis the Great.) Henry the 4th commenced the erection of a great gallery of immense length to
connect the Louvre with the Palace of the Tuileries. It was continued by Louis 13th
Birth: 1601-09-27 Death: 1643-05-14
and finished by Louis
the 14th. Bonaparte intending to build a visitor gallery parallel so as to enclose a square commenced
the work and had finished about one third of it when he was dethroned. Louis Philippe
Birth: 1773-10-06 Death: 1850-08-26
who views
justly to appreciate the genius of Bonaparte is completing this as well as many other unfinished works of the Em-
peror. The vestibule leads on the left to "the Hall of the French" so called because it contains Stat-
ues of illustrious Frenchmen. Conde, Turenne, Tourville, Duquesne, Luxembourg, Vauban, Dugay-Trouin
&c. I must leave to such plates as I can procure the further task of giving you any correct idea of the
magnitude and splendor of this immense palace - and if I cannot describe this how shall I hope
to enable you to form any just conception of the glories of the Royal Museum, which it contains
The Louvre in its present state contains more than 1200 pictures by the most celebrated painters of
all the nations of Europe. Splendid however as this collection now is it lost much of its
glory in 1814 when upon the Capture of Paris the Louvre was made to surrender to Holland

to Germany and to Italy all the spoils with which Bonaparte had endowed it except those
paintings of which copies remained in those Countries. Previous to this most just restoration the
Louvre contained nearly all every celebrated work of painting and sculpture in the world.
Then it contained 1250 of the most celebrated pictures. Of these it surrendered 1000, and of ancient works
of sculptures brought from all parts of Italy it yielded almost the whole. Any other nation after
such a reverse would have closed these Halls and in despair abandoned an institution
thus despoiled. Not so the French, with admirable zeal and energy the Palace and churches in
France and private collections were ransacked, the vacant places were filled with works
Page 4

of the most rare went and He Paris though it no longer boasts the possession of all the Chef doeuvre of
the arts does truly boast the possession of the finest collection in the world. Besides the works
the French Masters here are preserved many of the first pictures of Albano Berghen Caraccis
Birth: 1560-11-03 Death: 1609-07-15
pange Corregio Cortona Cuyp
Birth: 1620-10-20 Death: 1691-11-15
Del Sarto Dominchino


Guercino Guido Murillo
Birth: 1617-12 Death: 1682-04-03




Romano Rubens
Birth: 1577-06-28 Death: 1640-05-30
Ruysdael Salvatore Rosa, Snyder Teniers Tintoretto Titian


Birth: 1599-03-22 Death: 1641-12-09

Paul Veronese
 Death: 1588-04-09
and Leonardo de Vinci. But dearest, my paper is almost full It is 11 at night, to-
morrow I must send this letter so that it may be sure to go by the packet of the 8th from Havre. We
must for the present part at the very door of the newsroom of the Louvre. I am sorry it is so. I have
learned not to be an amateur, but to look at fine paintings with an interest I never knew before -
In good time however I will try to write or tell you all I remember about this splendid collection
Till then we must leave it with my unfinished letters concerning the House of Commons and the House
of Lords in England. You press me much to see Bulwer
Birth: 1803-05-25 Death: 1873-01-18
! I did see him and have just an on

this sheet to gratify or disappoint your curiosity by telling you how much I saw him. The Gentleman to
whom my letter was addressed, soliciting him to introduce me to Bulwer, was not in town and you well
understand that it was an impossibility to wait another day or go an extra mile even to see so great
a man as Bulwer or even Brougham
Birth: 1778 Death: 1868
. I went to the House of Commons and while we stood at the
door waiting for Mr Hume
Birth: 1777 Death: 1855
to pass on his way to enter the Hall who was to give us admission
(for (another parenthesis) No spectators are admitted to either house except by buying a ticket at two crowns
or by being introduced by a member) the members of the Commons passed rapidly through the Anti-
Chamber to take their seats in the Hall. My curiosity was on tip toe, who is that? said I as
the members passed who is that? who is that? and who are those? My cicerone
replied giving me
the names of "Colonel this," "Sir John such an one & "Lord such an one" giving me names all unknown
to fame - among the rest however a tall well dressed Gentleman with black hair and a
long nose and intelligent countenance which possibly I might recognize ^again^ passed by with a rapid
step as if he feared he should be late in his place. And who is that, said I. That said the Cicerone
is one of the Bulwers! Ah ha said I have I got you at last Mr Bulwer. Now dearest I verily be-
lieve I had better tell you what I afterwards found to be the very truth that this was not only
"one" of the Bulwers but was the Author of Pelham
Author: Edward Bulwer Lytton Publisher: J. & J. Harper Place of Publication:New York City Date: 1828
himself. He left the House very soon and did not
return during my stay, but you may rest assured that it was he himself and not his brother Adieu my best beloved!
Mrs. William H. Seward
New York

OCT 23


Type: postmark

[right Margin]
No day is yet fixed for our embarkation. It will not be as late
I think as the first day of October. I shall give you the earliest
notice. I hope my dear Augustus
Birth: 1826-10-01 Death: 1876-09-11
is a good boy and has made
much progress this summer in his studies. I shall bring him some
nice little French books and shall expect him pretty soon to begin
to learn French so that he will be able in a year or two to teach
French to his brother Fred
Birth: 1830-07-08 Death: 1915-04-25
. My love to Clary
Birth: 1793-05-01 Death: 1862-09-05
& Lazette
Birth: 1803-11-01 Death: 1875-10-03
& Grandma
Birth: 1751 Death: 1835-10-03

and remember dearest while reading this I shall be on the
waves coming home to you. Your own Henry.