Letter from William Henry Seward to Frances Miller Seward, November 3, 1859

  • Posted on: 16 December 2021
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Letter from William Henry Seward to Frances Miller Seward, November 3, 1859



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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 William Henry Seward to Frances Miller Seward, November 3, 1859

action: sent

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

location: Turin, Italy

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

location: Auburn, NY

transcription: amr 

revision: zz 2021-02-24


Page 1


Editorial Note

William Henry Seward’s series of travel letters in 1859 are organized and listed by the date of each entry.
Turin Thursday November 3d
Yesterday the Count Cavour
Birth: 1810-08-10 Death: 1861-06-06
being out of town
at a country seat forty or fifty miles distant,
I went there to visit him. The route is by rail
way to Livorno a large village. Thence by such
a vehicle as you can get to Leri the seat of
the Count, six or eight miles. Long negotiations
and much delay occurred in the business part
of the affair, but these served to bring me to a
knowledge of the habits and ways of life of the
country people in Italy. Nowhere have I ever seen
such universal courtesy and politeness. Ireland
itself could not furnish a meaner equip livery
than that with which I appeared in the Court
Yard of the ex Prime Minister of Sardinia the
chief Statesman of Italy. But it was the equal to
the best. A son
Birth: 1834-07-02 Death: 1900-01-18
of the Dictator
Birth: 1812-10-22 Death: 1866-08-01
of Modena was
before me and his livery was the same as
mine. The Counts estate seems to be a very
large one, but the land is low. The cultiva-
tion is good, but the outbuildings, stables yards
gardens and other appertences are mean
and coarse, to say nothing of uncleanness.
His home, ^chateau^ or rather the ^small^ part of it which he
personally occupies is in a better style
being quite new, there is a large tenantry

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manifestly poor, but courteous, respectful gentle
contented and happy. The great man was out
on his evening ride. I sauntered through the
little village of Leri, and entered the Church,
an ^young^ Italian woman
attended by her husband

brought her second or third baby
, a mere infant
up for baptism. How nicely she was dressed
how carefully the husband, how finely the
young Christian cadet was clothed in snowy
muslin, and its little face and hands brought
out to the light and air from amidst folds of
lace. How monstrously the Priest
the baptismal service, from and yet how reveren-
tially the parents followed in their responses
How happy they were when ^by^ their application of
not only consecrated water, but consecrated
oil and , and other substances This infant
and by the motions sign marking of the cross
the salvation of their child was assured
to them: The Christian Church has ^struck^ a deeper
root, into human society than the sceptic knows
of, the Catholic Church is the has its fortress
in the hearts of the humble peasantry of
At length the Count returned. He received
me quivery politely, very gratefully. He asked
Page 3

where I had been, and what opinions I had formed,
of men and things in Italy. I told him I thought
the Pope


pious sincere and determined to endure
rather than concede or conciliate, but I doubted
I thought the question whether he would be sustained
by the Roman Court in this policy would depend on
the measure of sympathy, he should receive from the Catholics of
Europe. While I refrained from repeating any thing that had
been said to me in Rome Venice or chamber by public men
in administration I told him how the Italian question
stood in my judgement. He was and of course gave him my
opinion of the characters of the sovereigns engaged. He
was pleased to confirm all the opinions I expressed,
except when I spoke of obstacles that seemed to me
at present difficult if not insurmountable. He was on the
contrary confident; I told him I was ^that I am^ deemed a
sanguine man at home, and such just now was the
character awarded to him in Europe. He says that
the Pope may be allowed to retain the City of Rome
as a see, but not a foot of territory outside of it
and that Austria must resign Venice. I doubted whether
so much would be obtained just now. He spoke of
Louis Napoleon
Birth: 1808-04-20 Death: 1873-01-09
guardedly yet in regard to in
temper, but frankly as to his policy. He thought
Louis Napoleons letter to the King of Sardinia
Birth: 1820-03-14 Death: 1878-01-09

Page 4

was moving and that the writer caused it to be
published by way of apology for the failure of
the policy it proposed. I thought so too and
I thereupon expressed the opinion that the publica-
tion would surely detract from Louis Napoleons
credit for wisdom and force as a statesman, to
this he assented. He hoped the Italian cause
had the sympathy of the American people. I did
not confess what I feel that slavery in the
United States stifles sympathy for ^with^ freedom
in Europe. He expressed himself freely about
our Minister
Birth: 1825-10-24 Death: 1865-03-30
here, saying that he regretted our
country is not better represented, that Mr
Daniels lives isolated, for five years that the
Count was Prime Minister he saw Mr. Daniels
only once. His sympathies are not with the friends of
progress in Italy. Our conversation was long and
free, but I cannot repeat it all. He understood
our system and generally our politics, and
asked many made many inquiries about our
administration, particularly the Slavery question
and the Lecompton matter. He thanked me for
coming to see him, and offered all he could to make
my stay pleasant. The interview confirmed the
opinion which I had received from the statements
of others that he although now in retirement [hole]
Page 5

would not compromise his consulency, is still in
fact the great leader of in public affairs in
Italy, and this Kingdom, as well as the Leader
of the popular cause in Italy.