Letter from William Henry Seward to Frances Miller Seward, May 20, 1859

  • Posted on: 4 May 2021
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Letter from William Henry Seward to Frances Miller Seward, May 20, 1859
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transcriber

Transcriber:spp:cnk

student editor

Transcriber:spp:sts

Distributor:Seward Family Digital Archive

Institution:University of Rochester

Repository:Rare Books and Special Collections

Date:1859-05-20

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Letter from William Henry Seward to Frances Miller Seward, May 20, 1859

action: sent

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

location: London, England, UK

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

location: Auburn, NY

transcription: cnk 

revision: amr 2021-02-08

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Editorial Note

William Henry Seward’s series of travel letters in 1859 are organized and listed by the date of each entry.
1
London May 20 th 1859.
It would be tedious and unprofitable to recite at length
the progress of my voyage. Suffice it that we entered the British
Channel at noon yesterday, and bore away Northward passing
Dartmouth, Plymouth and other ports with headlands
and bays familiar in writing but all unseen by me until
we took a pilot this morning at five oclock and
two hours afterwards entered Cowes situated on the
Northern end of the Isle of Wight. The shores of the interior
are abrupt and lofty, not a little resembling Mack-
inaw
at the junction of Lake Michigan with Lake
Huron, with the difference that the rocky coast of
Wight is or seems to be formed of pure chalk – Often
as I had heard I had never seen the white cliffs
of England. We anchored in the harbor of Cleves and
we transferred there to a small steamer which
conveyed us over the “Southampton Water” some twelve
miles to Southampton. The shores on either side from
the Channel passing Cowes to Southampton are covered
with beautiful villas – You will understand them
quite justly if you imagine them quite like the
banks of the Hudson River, and the shores of Staten
Island
in the vicinity of New York. Southampton a
principle station of steamers and other vessels engaged
in the Indian Trade is a very large fine town. When
the Ariel left us, the passengers and crew made the
shores ring with queer cheers and other expressions of
kindness and affection. It was not until she had
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passed quite beyond hearing on her way across the
channel towards Havre that I was left to discern
that now indeed I was left in a foreign country
unknown and alone – By dint of great industry I se-
cured the examination of my baggage at the Custom House
and a seat in the railway cars at half past 11
for London. Arriving at three ‘o clock at the Waterloo
station, I took a cab which I employed in
searching for Baring Brothers my bankers – The driver
Unknown

carried me through the Strand, passing St Pauls
Pall Mall, Charing Cross, and other portions of the
city kindly remembered through twenty years and
yet unchanged – I recognized Mr Bates
Birth: 1788-10 Death: 1864-09-24
of this house
but manifestly he had no memory of me – I found
a letter there from my friend
Unknown
who had ^come by in^
by the Corsecan informing me of his arrival – and
then I came through the City to the West end –
where my hotel is situated – A hasty survey satisfied
me that the English “Friends” whom I saw assembling
at a “Meeting House” here preserved their integrity
and earnestness far better than the society in
America – secondly, that there is a basis of truth
in the eccentric and extravagant deliniations of
classes in the English novelists, which I had not be-
lived before. I could recognized the origins
of hundreds of the characters delineated by
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Dickens
Birth: 1812-02-07 Death: 1870-06-09
and Thackery
Birth: 1811 Death: 1863
and Bulwer
Birth: 1803-05-25 Death: 1873-01-18
, and even the
very caricatures of Cruikshank
Birth: 1792-09-27 Death: 1878-02-01
. Mind that whereas
twenty five years ago, London seemed built of stone
and New York of brick, now the latter surpasses
its great pictotype in magnificence and splendor
of architecture, if you except the monumental statues
which seem to me rather as relics of a civilization
past the features of an existing society.
It was near five when I reached Pentunes
Hotel and received a room dark, cold and
cheerless – but London is every where covered with a
damp coal smoke atmosphere to day. My room
is situated on a Court, quite away from the streets.
New Haven is one of the most respectable, but it is ^even^ painfully
quiet. The American Hotel at Auburn has twice
as many lodges – but it demands diners where this
Hotel exacts dollars for its guests. The day was
Hot It has beaff A bath, a dinner and the
reading of the newspapers here brought the day to an
end – Tomorrow I am to hold a consultation with
friends
Unknown
and decide on my course of travel. Parliament’s
not in session London’s deserted, and dull – Shall
I nevertheless stay and see it at its most, or shall
I go on the continent for some weeks and then return
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here to see it under more favorable auspices. This
is the question for tomorrow.