Letter from William Henry Seward to Frances Miller Seward, November 24, 1834

  • Posted on: 10 March 2016
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Letter from William Henry Seward to Frances Miller Seward, November 24, 1834



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Letter from William Henry Seward to Frances Miller Seward, November 24, 1834

action: sent

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

location: Albany, NY

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

location: Auburn, NY

transcription: gew 

revision: ekk 2015-08-11

Page 1

Albany Monday evening Nov. 24th.
My dearest Frances, The telegraph as yet brings no intelligence from Auburn. I will not how-
ever anticipate evil tidings. My letter about these days will be rather a journal of visitings than
any thing else more important. I called in the morning at the American and found Mrs
Birth: 1814 Death: 1882
in the same little front parlour which she occupied the winter that we were board-
ers there. She does not look so pretty, but I was not less pleased with her. She inquired
very affectionately about you and the little boys
x Birth: 1830-07-08  Death: 1915-04-25  Birth: 1826-10-01  Death: 1876-09-11 
and Lazette
Birth: 1803-11-01 Death: 1875-10-03
.She said it was uncertain
whether she should spend the winter here, or in New York or in Washington. It is evi-
dently dull at the American, and I think she has an unprepossessing prospect; but
she is desirous to remain here this winter. On my way to the Capitol I met Judge
Birth: 1788-01-08 Death: 1855-05-17
coming down to see me. He seemed confounded by the disappointment of
his political labors. Judge Conklin
Birth: 1789-10-12 Death: 1874-02-05
fell in at the same time having just come
from my room. He too was a mourner, and I thought it best to pass on and not
gather any more desponding
Tasteless; destitute of taste; wanting the qualities which affect the organs of taste • Wanting spirit, life, or animation; wanting pathos, or the power of exciting emotions • Wanting power to gratify desire •
Whigs in front of the Regency offices.
After dinner Charles Kirkland
Birth: 1798 Death: 1883-08-07Certainty: Probable
of Utica and Cushman
Birth: 1800-05-08 Death: 1851-12-06
of Troy came in, both in bad
enough spirits, but the latter had a grief “beyond my art.” He was a candidate for the Whig nomination for Congressman in Renssalaer; but his Competitor obtain-
ed the nomination and was elected. So that Cushman now feels doubly mortified
by the evidence that if he had got the preliminary he would have secured the grand
object of his ambition. He tells me that he pulled the nose of one of the Trojans who
defeated the nomination, and I though he ought to be content with that glorious tri-
umph. I called in the evening at Miss Carter
’s to see Sarah Cary
. The three, or rather
three of the Miss Carters appeared to receive me, and they having been unanimous in
favor of my election no introduction was necessary. Sarah has improved very much
and is really quite pretty. She has become so much attached to the school that she
is unwilling to return to Batavia with Uncle Cary
Birth: 1787-08-11 Death: 1869-06-20
. She went with me to Mrs Brincker-
Birth: 1777-10-03 Death: 1868-07-25
. That estimable lady was confined to her room by the influenza. Maria
Birth: 1803-01-30 Death: 1887-04-23
as agreeable as she always is. I met there Mr
Birth: 1780-05-23 Death: 1841-01-23
and Mrs Dudley
Birth: 1783-10-01 Death: 1863-03-06
, and took tea with
them. I am compelled to say that I am not yet sufficiently in communion with the Carys
x Birth: 1788  Death: 1863-06-22  Birth: 1787-08-11  Death: 1869-06-20 

to be at all prepossessed in favor of the Dudleys. From Mrs Brinckerhoffs I went
to R. H. Kings
Birth: 1795 Death: 1867-07-09
. Mrs K.
Birth: 1805-05-29 Death: 1878-01-10
has a sister
and another young lady
with her. She was very
agreeable and inquired of course with much particularity concerning you. She
is far advanced in that same way in which you recollect to have seen her not a
very long time since. The boys had my head upon their money and were of course
glad to see such a wonderful man. Both Judge Spencer and Mrs. S.
Birth: 1789-02-23 Death: 1868-10-10
were out
when I called there. I closed my tour of calls at Benedicts
Birth: 1785-11-07 Death: 1862-07-15
, where I need not say
I was cordially welcome. I have heard much gossip in these visits although doubt-
less much less then you would. Prominent among the topics is the failure of Richard
V. DeWitt
Birth: 1800-02-06 Death: 1868-02-07
(who married one of the Miss Walsh
Birth: 1805-12-20 Death: 1842-05-05
’s. He has gone through 150,000 dollars
as is said and is likely to ruin his aged father
Birth: 1756-12-26 Death: 1834-12-03
the Surveyor General. The whole family
including his father are to remove to Ithaca immediately. From my soul I pity them
Unfortunately I happened to tell Charles Kirkland who I though had persevered in
his widowed state that it appeared to me very strange that Samuel A Foote
Birth: 1790-12-17 Death: 1878-05-11
New York had his second wife
Birth: 1809 Death: 1867
at Mr Fowler
Birth: 1774-02-10 Death: 1861-01-11
’s (the father of his first wife
Birth: 1797 Death: 1832
). Kirkland
took fire, said it was the most natural thing in the world and was exemplified
in his own case. And still more that the second wife renders herself most of all endearing
by the affection she bestows upon the memory of the first. Heaven save the mark!
The two Misses Townsend
Unknown Birth: 1820-04-22  Death: 1845-09-08 
have called this evening.
Page 2

Tuesday evening. No letter yet my dear Frances to tell me that you and Fred are sur-
mounting the danger in which I left you. I have made the people at the Post Office
search busily to day for the letter which I was unwilling to admit had not
been sent. Of this day I have but a barren journal. The morning and the
entire day until dinner were spent in employments which exclude Ladies’
interest. At dinner I had Joshua A Spencer
Birth: 1790-05-13 Death: 1857-04-25
and Weed
Birth: 1797-11-15 Death: 1882-11-22
. The Champagne in
which we drowned recollection of our disappointment unfitted me for either
visits or readings. I took tea at Weed’s, and as a bright thought employed him
to make the bargain of exchanging your old fashioned clumsy watch for a
more modern and prettier one. He will be here to night to report progress.
Tracy told me this morning that except myself no person had darkened
his doors during his stay in the city. I think he may infer from this
small circumstance that the wages of political infidelity is political
desertion. I do not know whether I have told you that he publishes
to every body especially to Jackson
Birth: 1767-03-15 Death: 1845-06-08
men that he voted for John Tracy
Birth: 1783-10-26 Death: 1864-06-18

in preference to Stilwell
Birth: 1800-06-06 Death: 1881-05-16
for Lieut Governor.
Mr Bement
Birth: 1766-04-10 Death: 1841-01-18
has to day “Instituted” me into the possession of our old room.
It appears melancholy
Not placable; not to be appeased; incapable of being pacified; stubborn or constant in enmity • Incapable of being relieved or quieted; inextinguishable •
and I could, with very little courting ^of^ the blue in-
fernals sink into dejection. The room seems very large, now that you and
Augustus and Fred are not around the table. I intend, when Uncle Cary
comes up to ask him to take one of the beds. When I pass the nursery
door it revives all my recollections of the last winter.
I have had it in my mind to say every time I have been writing to you
that I have found here the directions for using Dr Nott
Birth: 1773-06-25 Death: 1866-01-25
’s stove which
you wished to get at Isaac Millers
Birth: 1791-04-30 Death: 1853-04-03
. The important thing to be com-
municated for the government of our household in this matter is that
the coal must be broken so that the pieces will not be larger than
a “piece of chalk” of the size of a hen’s egg. This particular will require
labor exceeding irksome to Peter, who has no penchant for employment
of that kind, but I hope you will not suffer him to bring any into the house
that is not thus prepared.
Mrs Taber
died quite suddenly yesterday of an inflammation of the bowels.
Mr Bain
Birth: 1790 Death: 1834-12-17Certainty: Probable
(who is now living with his family in the vicinity of Saratoga is
supposed to be rapidly declining in health.
Weed’s eldest daughter Harriet
Birth: 1819-02-06 Death: 1893-11-01
will return with me to Auburn. You re-
collect her, she is rather pretty, amiable
Worthy of love; deserving of affection; lovely; loveable • Pretending or showing love •
of course and I presume intelligent,
but she has been kept in the shade. It is not difficult ^to discern^ that the proposition
has found favor in the eyes of the mother and Weed would not hesitate
about it, if he was sure that her coming to our house would not trouble
us at all. I am arrived at the bottom of the page so for this evening
my dear F. adieu!
Page 3

Wednesday night. My dearest Frances, I have just returned from the Post Office with the answer
that I must wait until tomorrow for a letter from you or from somebody to relieve
the painful solicitude I feel concerning you. I cannot determine what to infer from
the entire silence of yourself and the family. Surely some person would write to me
if you were more severely ill than when I left home. This solicitude has oppressed
me all day and the whole time has been unprofitably spent for myself and
barren of interest for yourself. Weed and Benedict spent the afternoon with me.
Mr Foot who is attending the Court of Errors, has been anxious that I should
call upon him at Mr Fowler’s, less as was obvious for the sake of my visit to
him, than because, as he said, he wished me to make the acquaintance of his
wife. And yet that was the very reason why I was indisposed to go. It
seems to me that if men will change their wives as they do their side
boards they have no right to expect their friends to admire them as often
as they are changed. I saw enough to be satisfied that while my friend
Foot is uxorious, as was to be expected, his new wife is but a poor exchange for
the former.
Mrs Taber was buried to day. I was on my way to her funeral
when I was called another way to visit Mr
Birth: 1797-04-29 Death: 1885-04-27
and Mrs Hard
Birth: 1807-02-01 Death: 1864-09-15
at the Eagle.
Mr Hard is one of our Whig members of Congress on his way to Washington.
The aspect of the society here is changing so that in a short time many of your
acquaintances will not be found here. John T Norton
is desirous of selling his
beautiful house and goes in the spring to reside on a farm in Connecti-
. I am not surprised at this. He is rich but not given to fashion or
politics. I envy him his retirement from a scene in which he finds private
worth and integrity of so little value to one where the best moral influences
prevail. Mr Delavan
Birth: 1793-01-06 Death: 1871-01-15
is going rapidly from the sublime to the other
stage in the Temperance cause. The People here say (but in a malicious kind
of way) that one or two weeks ago he and Mrs Delavan
 Death: 1848
jointly brought forth
from their cellar seven hundred bottles of wine, which cost on an average
two dollars each being of a very choice quality, and poured the liquid treas-
ure upon the Earth. Whether there were 700 bottles in this oblation is doubt-
ful but it is certain that all the stores of their wine vault were thus wasted.
Now they are selling their house, so that they may not be hindered in
the great work of proselyting to temperance. They are to board it is said
at the Temperance House. Chief Justice Savage
Birth: 1779-02-22 Death: 1863-10-19
removes with his fam-
ily to Hudson to avoid a part of the great expense of housekeeping here.
Thus ends my dear for this letter written with many doubts whether
it will not find you in such a state of ill health that its levity
Lightness; the want of weight in a body, compared with another that is heavier • Lightness of temper or conduct; unsteadiness • Want of due consideration; vanity • Gaiety of mind; want of seriousness •
will make
me odious to you. I trust I may have my fears concerning you removed tomorrow
morning and am my dearest of all earthly friends your own Henry.
Page 4

Mrs. William H. Seward
Nov 27


Type: postmark

Hand Shiftx

Frances Seward

Birth: 1805-09-24 Death: 1865-06-21
Henry Dec