Letter from William Henry Seward to Frances Adeline Seward, December 5, 1859

  • Posted on: 10 November 2021
  • By: admin
Letter from William Henry Seward to Frances Adeline Seward, December 5, 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 Adeline Seward, December 5, 1859

action: sent

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

location: Brussels, Belgium

receiver: Frances Seward
Birth: 1844-12-09  Death: 1866-10-29

location: Auburn, NY

transcription: vxa 

revision: amr 2021-01-30


Page 1


Editorial Note

William Henry Seward’s series of travel letters in 1859 are organized and listed by the date of each entry.
Brussels Dec 5. Sun Monday.
I breakfasted yesterday with Mr
Birth: 1809-07-04 Death: 1886-12-23
& Mrs Fair
Birth: 1826-09-24 Death: 1880-09
, (the
American Minister) went with them to the English
mission Church which adopts the American prayer
for the President
Birth: 1791-04-23 Death: 1868-06-01
, visited Mr Bille
Birth: 1819-12-25 Death: 1883-05-13
and family

formerly constituting the Danish Legation at Wash-
, now representing Dansk at this court.
Leopold I
Birth: 1790-12-16 Death: 1865-12-10
, the King of Belgium

, was a
Prince of Saxe Coburg without a Kingdom of any
account. He was a handsome graceful and
good man, and secured the hand of the Princess
Birth: 1796-01-07 Death: 1817-11-06
daughter of Geo 4
Birth: 1762-08-12 Death: 1830-06-26
of England and
heir apparent to the throne of Great Britain. Her
death in child bed left him wifeless and
childless. He was elected by the Belgian
Parliament to be King of this little but very
independent state about 1835. He married
a daughter
Birth: 1812-04-03 Death: 1850-10-11
of Louis Philippe
Birth: 1773-10-06 Death: 1850-08-26
, then King of France
who also is dead. He has two sons
x Birth: 1837-03-24  Death: 1905-11-17  Birth: 1835-04-09  Death: 1909-12-17 
Duke of Brabant and the Duke or Count of Flanders
and the a ^family^ connected by marriage to the
reigning families of Russia and Austria. The
King of Belgium has a pension of 250,000 dollars
from England and is rich as an heir of Louis Philippe
Page 2

He is brother to an Aunt ^the mother
Birth: 1786-08-17 Death: 1861-03-16
of the King of England

Editorial Note

Queen Alexandrina Victoria was on the English throne at this time, thus there was no King of England. However, Leopold I was the brother of Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, who was the mother of Queen Alexandrina Victoria. WHS probably just confused matters a little bit here.
is held in high esteem at that Court. The
Prince Royal
Birth: 1831-10-18 Death: 1888-06-15
of Prussia and the Princess
Birth: 1840-11-21 Death: 1901-08-05
of the present Queen
Birth: 1819-05-24 Death: 1901-01-22
has been visiting England and
had appointed to arrive here on Saturday to
visit their Uncle the King. His majesty had
appointed me an audience ^for^ yesterday evening/morning
But he excused himself from that engagement and
invited me instead to dine yesterday at
the Palace at a party given in honor of
his Royal guests. I went at 6, o clock, and
found a party of thirty eight persons The hosts
were the King, the Duke & Duchess
Birth: 1836-08-23 Death: 1902-09-19
of Brabant.
(He is heir apparent) and the Count and Duchess of
Flanders, the guests The Prince & Princess Royal
of Prussia, the Prussian minister
Birth: 1812-09-10 Death: 1861-12-19
and his wife


The British Minister Lord Howard de Walden
Birth: 1799-06-05 Death: 1868-08-29

and his wife
Birth: 1807 Death: 1899-07-29
, The American Minister and his
wife, several ladies of honor to the Count
and to the Princess, the Ministers of the State
and others.
We were all received in a large drawing
room – and waited until perhaps ten minutes after six
Page 3

When his majesty and the Royal party entered. His majesty
with great dignity and propriety of manner passed
down the line of his guests formed on either side
of the room speaking with and welcoming them. The
Ladies of the Court recognized in like manner their
female acquaintances. When the King reached me I
was presented to him by Mr Fair and he
spoke to me a few complimentary words chiefly
expressing his satisfaction that I had been
good enough to stop and visit him. In the
course of the hour I was also presented to the Dukes
and to the Chief ministers and of the p others
of the party. At seven the doors were thrown open
and the party repaired to dinner, under the
inspiration of music from a very excellent
band. Of course the party had their places
arranged according to their ranks. I had the good
fortune ^a honor^ to be seated at the right of the Countess
Birth: 1810 Death: 1869

of Hohenthal Maid of Honor to the Princess
Fredrick William; and next to me a Belgian General

covered with stars and other insignia of distinction
both of these persons were very agreeable.
The dinner lasted an hour and more, and
was quite elaborate. Fine soft music entered the
Page 4

the chamber throughout the whole feast, and the
Belgian and Prussian favorite airs were not forgotten.
At length we rose, and repaired to the Drawing room
where coffee and liquors were served. The Ladies
drew themselves into a circle and were seated
at the upper end of the salon. The Gentlemen
formed themselves in line below near the
wall as before dinner. His majesty the two
Dukes and Prince then came down the line and
entered into conversation with the guests successively
passing none, but engaged stopping longer with some
than others. When the King came to me he renewed
his compliments and thanks, and then said that my
visit was especially agreeable to him for he
has a great respect for the United States and
desired always to have a very good understanding
with us. I told him that the feeling was reciprocated
That Belgium is a Constitutional Kingdom a free
country, one of a very few on the Continent, and
that we sympathized with the in his frie state
and respected him for his fidelity to the principles
of free government; He expressed his satisfaction and
said that if at any time I should see or know
Page 5

any thing which would serve to bring the two people
into a nearer acquaintance he hoped I would suggest
it. I replied, that since he had emboldened me to
speak I thought I could suggest to him a
way in which he could make a profound
and pleasing impression on the People of the
United States, that England & the United States
had dispensed with passports – convinced
that their institutions were safe without maintaining
a police against strangers. That the passport
system which we encounter every where on
the continent is annoying to us and very
offensive. That I knew that other ^continental^ states cannot
give it up – nor need he in regard to
them but that by treaty with the United States
he can do it in regard to us. He thanked
me, said he understood it perfectly. There
was no need for passports for police in
England & the United States, and none in Belgium.
I said the two branches of the English race
on the opposite sides of the Atlantic were
chiefly charged with the peaceful civilization
of the world, and Belgium was worthy to
rank with us.
Page 6

He said that my suggestion struck him favorably,
and then enquired about the progress of things in
America and whether we saying that he supposed
that the people of America were devoted to ^their own government^ and
absorbed by the cares of their own position I
replied that we belong to a sphere entirely
separate from Europe – and have occupation enough
to hold up our own country and regulated
by our influence without foreign affairs on
our own continent. He was very happy to
know that I was conservative in my principles
and said that time and education of
the People would do their work, that the
great badge of a strong government was that it
could tolerate discussion free discussion of
what it was doing, and this it was the misfortune
of the French system Imperial system that it
could not endure debate, and so he thought
France had retrograded instead of advancing
within the last fifty years. I said yes, in its
system, but I cannot believe that it has in
the thoughts and sentiments of the people – but
Louis Napoleon
Birth: 1808-04-20 Death: 1873-01-09
must come to an end some time
Page 7

and then – France would be restored from her dream of
glory to the train of liberty. He said I was
quite right. The conversation of the King with me
was very so long as to excite remark and
produce a canvass of my character position
and principles among the lookers on, according
to General Fair. Equally kind and free
was the conversation of the Dukes ^& Count^ and it
was marked in the same spirit. All of the
Royal party gave me their hands at parting
wishing me a safe voyage and hoping that I
would remember their good wishes in my own
country. The Royal party being completed
their tour around the chamber, the Ladies rose
and the Ro King and Party retired. The
guests left as their carriages were announced
and I was at hom my hotel at 1/2 past nine.
The King of Belgium is now 69 years old.
In manner active constitution, even figure
and I think in ability Luther Bradish
Birth: 1783-09-15 Death: 1863-08-30
a good copy of him.