Letter from Benjamin Jennings Seward to William Henry Seward, August 12, 1835

  • Posted on: 10 March 2016
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Letter from Benjamin Jennings Seward to William Henry Seward, August 12, 1835



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Distributor:Seward Family Papers Project

Institution:University of Rochester

Repository:Rare Books and Special Collections


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Letter from Benjamin Jennings Seward to William Henry Seward, August 12, 1835

action: sent

sender: Benjamin Seward
Birth: 1793-08-23  Death: 1841-02-24

location: New York, NY

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

location: Mendham, NJ

transcription: sgl 

revision: ekk 2015-10-16

Page 1

New York 12 Augst. 1835
My dear Brother
Your kind letter of the 3rd inst.
came to hand on the 7th about an hour
before my leave of the city – and that of
the 7th came in this hour; just as I am
now in from Florida, where I left Marcia
Birth: 1794-07-23 Death: 1839-10-25

& her little folks
x Birth: 1828-10-07  Death: 1897-07-24  Birth: 1820-05-18  Death: 1889-05-08 
. I thank you a
thousand times for these kind long letters
and for the good feeling and brotherly love they
My good madam seems to be im-
proving every hour. We took huck &
rode up from New Burgh on Saturday to
Florida – had a delightful ride up & found
all well – except Pollydore
Birth: 1799 Death: 1872-04-23
– who it was
said, had taken an Emitic that morning:
& afterward, toward evening, he jumped
out of the window of Mothers
Birth: 1769-11-27 Death: 1844-12-11
sleeping room
& sot off home on foot – but came back
again to work on Monday morning.
Birth: 1768-12-05 Death: 1849-08-24
is quite smart for him – hardly
had occasion to lie down, during my stay.
On Saturday he was several hours out at
the Canal of the outlet – on Monday he was
out directing his haying in the morning
& in the afternoon took Mother & Marcia up to

[left Margin] to the higher claims of duty: and taking it for granted that no
Relating to money • Consisting of money •
sacrifice as asked of me beyond what I now make, I am
in view of anything. I know to accede to the wishes of our bond.

Page 2

Mr. Finn
Birth: 1785-05-01 Death: 1864-08-15
’s & seemed to enjoy the visit very
Mother is in fine health & spirits, for
her. She looks better than I have seen
her in several years, and her flesh is
coming upon her, greatly to her improve-
ment: insomuch that her girdle seems
to sink almost as deep as aforetime.
The dear old lady – I do love her exceedingly –
it does seem to me that there is no act which
I could do of the kind, that would give me so
much pleasure as to, as bestow upon her a
needful amount of pin money. It seems
to me that she said, you had offered her
something, but she declined to recieve it
because you have so many outgoes, & because
principally, your father does nothing for you.
I did what I could to dissipate
To scatter; to disperse; to separate into parts and disappear • To expend; to squander; to scatter property in wasteful extravagance • To scatter the attention •
her fears
that such a thing would embarrass you &
begged her of all things, to ask you, & to beg
you to keep a memorandum of all such sums
to be made up to you at another day. Poor
old lady – if she knew how certain it is that
no one will ever have right to look into such
items, she would not think, entries necessary.
Let me beg you to satisfy her mind on any
terms & furnish her – you can I trust do so
without abridging now or hereafter in the least the
comforts of your charming family: if this is not so
I pray you allow me the pleasure of joining in a
struggle to do so between us – I will cheerfully

[left Margin] About this, I shall know more soon. In a very few days I shall probably
be in Phil and learn all about & will communicate to you the

Page 3

do my part to some extent.
Clarence, also, is every day gaining health &
gaining consequence. It is almost impossible to
keep such a little fellow from being ruined by the
attentions & indulgence of Grd parents. With all
the boldness imaginable he will affirm that Cain
bore Enoch, for it is so in the bible, & give it as
his opinion Enoch Cain, was a very good man
for the bible says he was translated to Heaven.
In regard to the main topick of your letter (I wish
I had more room to treat of them) I will mention
that I read the first to Marcia, who had previously
given her cheerful consent (after determining upon
sacrifice) to turn her face to the West: but
the perusal
To read with attention • To observe; to examine with careful survey •
set her all aback – much of
the same character was its influence at first
upon my own mind. What you say with so
much kindness about the happiness & support
of different members in one family, & of my
being the elder, was well calculated to produce
such effect. I showed it, (there being nothing in it to
present) to the judge, with the feeling I described to
you I ^in which I^ should ask his judgment: and if you had been
a prophet & the son of a prophet you could not have
more exactly described, than you did when I saw you
the indifference he feels to the question measure. He said
nothing, of course, to weigh upon the question – said
those kind of things against it – which shewed that he
knew it would look decent to have a little interest
in such an event – recieved my intimations that I
wished it understood that I would not close
my ear to the voice of parental command
as though he heard it not, and at my instance
the conversation glided off smoothly into some other
topick without the slightest possible shoock of jealousy
^on either side^ or abatement of cheerfulness, leaving me the more
confirmed, in what I did not before doubt in the
least, that he thinks no more of my interest, comfort or
happiness than he does of mothers.

[left Margin] In the meantime while it is altogether uncertain as to the result, I
wish nothing said publickly. Your affectionate brother B. J. Seward

Page 4

I have read your letters both over in the hour
& pondered upon their contents & the subject they treat
of with deep solicitude. They have [ stagged ]

Alternate Text

Alternate Text: staggered
not a little, not so much because they shew in
what way my advantage is presented more by staying
than going, but because they wake up so many
sentiments of love and sweet communion with rel-
atives and friends: I have not felt my heart
so full in many days: I feel now as if I could
sit down & weep like a little child, if it would do any
good – but you must remember that I am left after
all, without a cheering ray of hope, emenating
from any other source thatn the prospect of greater personal
comfort, from associations with friends; & this will not
educate my boys. I do not follow “mere feeling”
in this matter: – if I did, I would certainly fall in with
your wishes & my own & stay. Nor do I mean to
lose sight of duty to my family, but I am willing
I think to sacrifice personal preference – even strong choices
William H. Seward Esq
care Geo. W. Seward
Birth: 1808-08-26 Death: 1888-12-07

New Jersey
New York


Type: postmark

Hand Shiftx

William Seward

Birth: 1801-05-16 Death: 1872-10-10
B. J. Seward
Aug. 1835