Letter from William Henry Seward to Frances Miller Seward, October 18, 1859

  • Posted on: 10 December 2021
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Letter from William Henry Seward to Frances Miller Seward, October 18, 1859



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Letter from William Henry Seward to Frances Miller Seward, October 18, 1859

action: sent

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

location: Vienna, Austria

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

location: Auburn, NY

transcription: msf 

revision: jxw 2021-09-23


Page 1


Editorial Note

William Henry Seward’s series of travel letters in 1859 are organized and listed by the date of each entry.
Vienna October 18th. 1859 Tuesday
We left Gratz on a cold rainy morning on the 16th. I had supposed
that we were already past the summit of the Alps but I soon
found that we had only crossed the Julian range. We followed
the valley of the Mür ascending often at the rate of one
foot in sixty, and sometimes even one foot in forty, and so
we climbed upwards and upwa higher, and higher, often
over fine and substantial aqueducts ^over ravines^ and as often
through tunnels in the mountains until we reached
the Semmering Pass of the Tyrolese Alps.
Where I had my first view of the Danube. The
journey occupied ten hours all but the last three
of which were spent in making our way over
and through the Alps. Trieste is Italian, a few
hours after we left the place we entered Croatia
and found the inhabitants to be chiefly Sclavians.
At Gratz we had decided entered Steyermarke
or Styria a decidedly German province — and
from that place our way lay in the Tryols

Of all the works of Internal Improvement I have seen
Page 2

this rail-road from Trieste to Vienna is the most
perfect a nd s well as the most stupendous. It is a
double track with heavy rails and stretches through
a mountainous region for near four hundred English
miles. There is not a rail passing through not less
than twenty tunnels — one of which is more than 5000
feet long. There is no wooden trellis work, or bronze.
Every structure of is of stone and is solid and massive
This work Austria has used to secure her way to
and the Mediterranean and her control over Venice
and Italy. It is a tideful sway that she carries
there, but she exerts it with an iron hand — over
a feeble and frivolous people there. Add to this
her immense army, of not less than 400,000 men
with armaments and military stores exactly propor-
tioned. Such are the vast efforts she has put
forth to consolidate under German sway an
empire composed of Croatians Dalmatians Greeks
Italians Slavonians and Hungarians. My conclusion
is that Austria gains strength instead of losing it
and that she is unconquerable and indivisible.
No army that I have ever seen surpasses hers in
the excellence of its appointments and discipline.
I do not wonder that her credit is endangered
Page 3

and her finances depressed when I contemplate
what she has done to establish and consolidate her
empire. But the People of Austria are laborious frugal
and persevering. It would seem that the agricultural
labor devolves almost exclusively on the women
so many of the men being withdrawn for the army.
But the agricultural labor does not therefore suffer
No part of the United States shows more perfect
cultivation. France a much inferior one and England
one that is not better. You no where see any symptoms
of poverty. The People, a peasantry as they are seem
contended and comfortable. The secret is that
the Germans produce every thing, make every thing
and sell every thing and they do all this well.
It is different in Italy. There they produce little, make
about nothing, and sell nothing. Besides the government
and people of Austria being faithful to the Pope
and the Catholic Church has an ally in the
Church in Italy and even in France itself. Whoever
may be Emperor in Austria her policy will be
always the same. Perseverance wins at last. But
on the other hand, Italy has no self sustaining power within
itself. The Church will be always the enemy of her freedom
and of course of her independence, and it is only when
a Napoleon reigns in France that France will favor
Page 4

Italy or resist Austria firmly. How many more
Napoleons can there be.
I am at the Hotel of the Archduke Charles
a good comfortable Hotel. Vienna is a fine town
of half a million people. Clean and neat and
substantial and There is no poverty in the streets.
Not a beggar has accosted me, no one has asked
a gratuity. Only a brother
of Charity calls and
asks a small contribution which he does not
stop to value when you give it to him for the
support of the poor in the city without distinction
of country or of religion. You will think I have
become German in my sympathies. I have indeed
but not any the more a lover of despotism. I
expect to see Germany become free and Republican
even before France — or Italy. I expect her to
be a bulwark of freedom on the continent of Europe.
Mr Jones
Birth: 1811-10-07 Death: 1878-03-24
^and his family
x Birth: 1843-06-09  Death: 1916-05-13  Birth: 1840-02-17  Death: 1923-07-02  Birth: 1837-09-13  Death: 1911-12-02  Birth: 1834-08-21  Death: 1885-12-06  Birth: 1803-08-04  Death: 1871-07-14 
the American minister are very hospitable
and kind. I have already ran through the
Parks, looked at some of the Churches, and made
some acquaintances, besides visiting the Opera.
Mr Winthrop
Birth: 1809-05-12 Death: 1894-11-16
, is here at this hotel with his
x Birth: 1834-12-07  Death: 1905-06-05 Certainty: Probable Birth: 1843-09-28  Death: 1923-11-29 Certainty: Probable Birth: 1838-05-13  Death: 1921-09-28 Certainty: Probable Birth: 1814  Death: 1861-04-26 Certainty: Probable
. I refer you to Frederick
Birth: 1830-07-08 Death: 1915-04-25
for information
as to my movements from here. I find already
Page 5

that a voyage through fifteen degrees of latitude in
the warmth of October produces a introduces one into
a colder climate. Even the tops of the Alps are
clothed with verdure. As yet there has been no frost,
but the forest is changing its color. It is more
beautiful in the change than it is the European
Autumn has credit for with us, but it is neverthe-
less inferior to our own.
Notwithstanding all we see of German fondness
for lager bier in America, and for their disregard
for Sunday, I see no intemperance and no idleness
here. Amusements are subordinate to business.