Letter from John Carlin to Frances Miller Seward, October 31, 1843

  • Posted on: 1 December 2017
  • By: admin
Letter from John Carlin to Frances Miller Seward, October 31, 1843



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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 John Carlin to Frances Miller Seward, October 31, 1843

action: sent

sender: John  Carlin
Birth: 1813-06-15  Death: 1891-04-23

location: Newburgh, NY

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

location: Auburn, NY

transcription: csh 

revision: crb 2017-06-13


Page 1

NewBurgh Oct 31/43.
My dear Madam.
“Mille pardons” for my past long silence,
for it is already a year since your mansion, whose genial
glow of hospitality I now still feel its warmth; and since
I departed from Albany, where, indeed, to my unutterable
sorrow I found the ever fickle Dame Fortune “dead asleep”
almost as a dead fish, not one letter even a word has
been, according to my promise, sent to you.
For that crime I deserve a lash or two of Censure. For that
“breach of promise”— not that of Marriage, but that of Friendship,
I deserve the “damages” declared against me. These “damages”
are not a thousand dear dollars, (how savory a dish!)
as an unlucky heart-trifler is obliged to choose the alternative:
to hand those metallic drops pressed out of his heart to the
fair forlorn plaintiff, or to endure the horrors of the four bare
walls and the Epicurean luxury of Bread and Water. But
the “damages” thereof I spoke are a thousand more letters, to
be handed regularly to you in certain successive periods of
my remaining existence. Ere the lash be justly inflicted
upon my back, upon my knees I crave your forgiveness.—
Oh Yes, my sweet hearted friend, Yea, I know your heart
but too well to dread a refusal flat as a flounder, or a
shutting of the door just unto my nasal promontory. As
regards the “damages,” I will cheerfully forward every
letter with possible despatch hereafter.— Tis scarcely
necessary to assure you and Your highly-esteemed husband
Birth: 1801-05-16 Death: 1872-10-10

Page 2

of my good health and spirits, for perhaps your “little” nephew
Birth: 1828-10-07 Death: 1897-07-24
, tho’ in facto a sunflower in growth, has told you
how your thin-visaged “mute friend” looks. The horrible
mirror of Truth gives me to understand that I am decidedly
improving—not in looks, for I am waxing every day older and
older.—but in size. In confirmation to its assertion, my
coat’s buttonholes are obviously beginning to crack, and
the buttons, to drop
Like the fair maiden’s limpid tears.
How is it to be accounted for this budding corpulence? I don’t
know how to attribute it to such causes in existence, unless, as
I have had speculated in petto various conjectures, I may
attribute it to one, which seems, at least, most probable, in
spite of the notion, as:
By constant heavings of romantic sighs,
The Lover’s made a living skeleton.
But, indeed, I do not feed now upon fond hopes, inquiet fears,
wild raptures, cruel doubts, and other things whatever lovers
please to name; but I am now feeding with the composure of
an ox in a pasture upon the prospects of Domestic Happiness
which draws nigh by: for I am to lead my sweet blooming
Birth: 1818
to the Hymenial altar in the course of the last month
of this year. Enough of Nonsense. Now, as to gratify your
curosity in regards to my past business, I will here give you
a few condensed words, as follows; I remained at Springfield,
doing a pretty good business through the whole winter, and I
left there some day in search for Hartford with too sanguinely
indulged hopes of a similar run of success; but when I handed
Gov: Sewards’ introductionary letters to Ex Gov: Ellsworth
Birth: 1791-11-10 Death: 1868-01-15
and Mr. Webb
Birth: 1802-02-08 Death: 1884-06-07
Page 3

I learned from them that were several artists there, and they
expressed their fears that I would not meet much encouragement
as might be anticipated. During my two months’ sojourn there,
I had but a very little to do, insomuch that I was almost
driven to Insanity. I came to N York to try my luck again,
but, alas, I came in such a season which drove the wealthy out
of town—of course I had almost nothing to do, and the worse
say that while my soul felt the touch of Objectedness, several of
my customers forgot paying me for their miniatures. but I freely
forgive them.—A rich lady
Birth: 1787-11-17 Death: 1877-02-13
called on and engaged me to come
to NewBurgh, to paint some miniatures. Accordingly I came here
and found a fine run of business in miniature painting. That
kind lady is Mrs Roe whom Gov: Seward ^may^ perhaps no know.
[ Bes ]


Reason: hole
ides the miniatures I painted for her family, Mr Rogers
Mr Hasbrouck
Birth: 1800-08-23 Death: 1870-11-05
, and others, I painted four small original
oil paintings for Mr Roe Jr
Birth: 1811-08-07 Death: 1876
, illustrating two scenes in

Editorial Note

John Carlin is referencing paintings done for various essays in Washington Irving's "Sketch Book
Author: Washington Irving Publisher: C.S. Van Winkle Place of Publication:New York Date: 1819-1820
Van Winkle, one in King Philip, and one in the veteran angler.
The business of miniature painting ^in^ which I am well skilled
and I resumed again, is far more lucrative than that of
portrait painting. I am to proceed to N York. City, ^on the 9th of Nov:^ to fulfill
several engagements, and then to Hyde Park, and Albany,
where I may remain during the Session, and lastly
establish myself at Rochester at Col Stone’s
Birth: 1792-04-20 Death: 1844-08-15
advice, as he
has relations and friends there.
Before I conclude this, I shall venture on to hope that you, my
dear friend, will feel so cheerful as to write me before long, and for that
I shall certainly be happy, and it will give me another pleasure to write
you again. Give my regards to Gov: Seward, your sons
x Birth: 1839-06-18  Death: 1920-04-29  Birth: 1830-07-08  Death: 1915-04-25  Birth: 1826-10-01  Death: 1876-09-11 
, nephew, and the
late private secretary
Birth: 1820-03-09 Death: 1893-07-07
. God bless you. Your sincere friend. John Carlin

[left Margin] My address at N York city is No 171 Fourth St. to the care of Mrs Wayland
Birth: 1789-06-22 Death: 1864-07-12

Page 4

Mrs William H. Seward
New York


Type: postmark

Hand Shiftx

Frances Seward

Birth: 1805-09-24 Death: 1865-06-21
John Carlin