Letter from William Henry Seward to Frances Miller Seward, September 21, 1833

  • Posted on: 10 March 2016
  • By: admin
Letter from William Henry Seward to Frances Miller Seward, September 21, 1833



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Distributor:Seward Family Digital Archive

Institution:University of Rochester

Repository:Rare Books and Special Collections


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Letter from William Henry Seward to Frances Miller Seward, September 21, 1833

action: sent

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

location: Le Havre, France

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

location: Auburn, NY

transcription: keh 

revision: ekk 2015-06-22

Page 1

Editorial Note

For the transcription of the underlying letter, see Letter from Benjamin Jennings Seward to Frances Miller Seward November 9, 1833

Havre 21st September 1833. My dearest Frances. The time lingers which intervenes before
our departure. The France the packet of the 24th is making ready to sail I write this
letter under great doubts whether I shall not have the pleasure the happiness of
embracing you and my dear boys
x Birth: 1830-07-08  Death: 1915-04-25  Birth: 1826-10-01  Death: 1876-09-11 
before it will arrive. The France is a small and
slow vessel and the period of her departure is less favorable than the day as-
signed for the departure of the Sully in which we have taken our passage for the first
of October. We arrived here on Sunday evening the 15th and the next day took lod-
gings in the family of Monsieur Jourdain
about a mile out of the compact
part of the town of Havre without the fortifications and in the beautiful
village of Ingouville

built upon the declivity of a hill which overlooks the
town of Havre and the Sea. Here we have yet nine long days to pass. How
think you do I dispose of time? The family in which we are located are
Catholic and French, they do every thing in their power to make us com-
fortable, but their style of living and their Catholic fast days bringing with
them soupmaigre and boiled fish are not exactly agreeable. Neverthe-
less as I am not a great epicure I manage the matter without feeling
discontent. I rise at seven in the morning and resume the task of writing out
my notes which brings me always into communion with you for I write for
you to read and rejecting what will not profit or please you and our
dear boys if they live to be able to read it. I dwell upon these subjects which
I think will interest you. Our breakfast of coffee (in a bowl with a table
spoon) bread and butter and eggs is served at 1/2 past 9 & After the dejeu-
ner is disposed of I return to my task which I pursue assiduously
until 3 O.Clock when dinner is served. This consists of soup of meats ex-
cept on fast days when we have soupmaigre that is made of milk or
vegetables without meat. After which potatoes or beans and a piece
of beef or mutton generally stewed. After this a dessert of pears peaches
or grapes with new nuts and wine. After dinner we walk an hour
or two upon some of the beautiful promenades in the vicinity of Ingou-
ville and look out upon the broad ocean which we are so soon to
traverse and think and converse of our dear friends and relatives whom
we hope so soon to meet. Having returned from our walk I take my
French Grammar and dictionary and endeavour to accomplish a
Page 2

lesson in the elements of the language before tea. Supper is served at 8 O. Clock
and consists of the cold meats preserved from the dinner table (except on
fast days). The family drink cider and wine but furnish us with tea to be
drank like our coffee in a bowl. After supper I take the French Journal
of the day and employ myself until 11 O.Clock in studying it for a French
lesson. In this way the time is made to pass away without being oppressive.
I experienced this evening a cruel disappointment . Our Captain came
in bringing two large packets of letters one addressed to me the other to
my father
Birth: 1768-12-05 Death: 1849-08-24
. I broke the seal of mine with impatience and found the contents
were a letter to myself from Jennings
Birth: 1793-08-23 Death: 1841-02-24
with a letter from my dear Fathhe
Birth: 1769-11-27 Death: 1844-12-11
and another from George
Birth: 1808-08-26 Death: 1888-12-07
both to my father. I awaited with great
impatience my fathers breaking the seal of his packet which I doubted
not contained your letter, but to my astonishment it consisted only of an
envelope and two letters of introduction from a friend in Liverpool to
a member of Parliament which had been left at our lodgings in Liver-
pool, then forwarded to our Bankers in London and thence forwarded
[ to ]


Reason: wax-seal
our Bankers in Paris who had sent them with our other letters to
[ thi ]


Reason: wax-seal
s place. How much I have regretted my stupidity in telling you to
write only once a fortnight. I have had but half the letters I should have
received had I requested you to write once a week. I must leave Europe

without any further letters from you but my mind is put somewhat at ease
by a paragraph in mothers letter which states that Jennings had just
received a letter from you and that all were well. It has made me
very happy to learn that my dear mother was at the date of Jennings letter
about to set out for Auburn. I trust she will be there when we reach New
. As it is probably that there will be at least one more letter
from you I take this occasion to assure you that there is no danger
of its being lost or expired. Nothing can be more sure than the forward-
ing of letters on the Continent. Should such a letter arrive after my
departure it will without delay make the return voyage and find me
at your side.
I advert once more to the suspension of my letters by way of journal,
I hope you appreciate the exigency which compelled me to discontinue them
I am now endeavoring to write out my notes but the work is one of im-
Page 3

mense labour. I have been able thus far only to bring it down to the day
of our departure from Dublin. I shall pursue it with all the diligence in
my power because I know how difficult it will be to write on board the
ship as well as how impracticable it will be to add one word after my
return. For the present adieu - I reserve the residue of the sheet for the two
days which intervene before the sailing of the France and at present betake
myself to that most mystical of all studies, the study of the French pro-
nouns. Monday Evening 23d. September. My dearest Frances
as more of the dull long days are past one week from tomorrow we shall embark.
I know not how I should be able to endure the delay were it not for the hard la-
bour I have prescribed to myself. My journal I beginning to fear will never be ac-
complished. It has already swelled to an 125 pages like this and I have not
yet got away from Glasgow. As for the French I hope to go through the gram-
mar on my homeward passage. We yesterday made the round of the Ca-
thedrals in the City which however presented nothing worthy of particular
remark. In the afternoon and evening we attended the [hole] church
established by the American Seamens friend society where we met a small
Congregation of about an 100 English and Americans and heard two sermons
from a young Virginian educated at the Theological seminary at Princeton

who possesses all the faults of Mr Finney
Birth: 1792-08-29 Death: 1875-08-16
without any of his genius. Oh
I was vexed to see how the importance of such a position as this not
only in reference to our countrymen visiting Havre but France itself is
thrown away upon such a mere jackdaw as this preacher.
Our family here very devoutly attended mass in the morning, they are
pious Catholics. In the afternoon and evening they promenaded the
streets as every body here does on Sunday. They have explained to me
the reason of the great disregard in France to the observance of Sunday.
They have a commandment from the Church which in its collective
capacity they believe expresses the will and by the authority of God
to hear requiring them to attend masse once on Sunday. They hold that
this commandment is substituted in lieu of the 4th which is no longer
obligatory having been given to the Jews only. Thus it is that the Catholics
have fallen into the same disregard of the Sabbath with the irre-
Page 4

ligious part of the population. I have some hope my dearest that I may
yet receive one mere letter from you. The Havre packet of the 26th
September August has arrived. If the Liverpool packet had as
favorable a voyage her letters wil be received here within a few days.
You will perceive by this miserable scrawl that the moment I at-
tempt to write to you my impatience disables me. I have however great
hope that I shall receive this letter myself when I shall have arrived.
Again let me remind you not to anticipate for us a quick passage.
About 60 or 70 days before you feel the least alarm. Within that time I
trust to assure you in person of our safe navigation of the great
waters. My fathers health is very much improved and I think he
will very well endure the fatigues of the voyage. Again and for
the last time from this side of the water adieu my dearest.
Make my love to all the family and tell them how happy I shall
be to meet them so soon. Tell the little boys their Papa hopes they
have not forgotten him.
Hand Shiftx

Benjamin Seward

Birth: 1793-08-23 Death: 1841-02-24
Hand Shiftx

William Seward

Birth: 1801-05-16 Death: 1872-10-10
Benjamin J. Seward Esq.
Hand Shiftx

Benjamin Seward

Birth: 1793-08-23 Death: 1841-02-24
^Mrs Wm H Seward^
Hand Shiftx

William Seward

Birth: 1801-05-16 Death: 1872-10-10
American Sunday School Union
Nassau Street
Hand Shiftx

Benjamin Seward

Birth: 1793-08-23 Death: 1841-02-24
Hand Shiftx

William Seward

Birth: 1801-05-16 Death: 1872-10-10
New York
Hand Shiftx

Benjamin Seward

Birth: 1793-08-23 Death: 1841-02-24
^N. Y.^
Nov 9


Type: postmark

Hand Shiftx

Frances Seward

Birth: 1805-09-24 Death: 1865-06-21
1833 -