Benjamin Franklin Butler to Harriet Allen, 1-2 October 1816

[Benjamin Franklin] Butler to Harriet Allen, 1-2 October 1816


My dear Girl

I have been somewhat fearful this evening, that the Wednesday Boat might speed her course to the South, without conveying you a letter. I did think that the indispensable employments of the office would compel me to forego the pleasure of fulfilling any engagements. And if had failed in writing you would you not have attributed it, at once, to indifference or inattention? I am rather suspicious that you would. And yet you may assure yourself that the disappointment to me would have been as great as to you. But fortunately I am able to spend the remains of the evening (it is now between 10 & 11) with my dear dear, Harriet, without disconcerting my arrangements, or neglecting my official concerns. But first let me give you ten thousand thanks for writing me on Saturday, and for your precious & interesting letter. If you knew how much pleasure it afforded me, you could never have spoken in such terms as you did of your correspondence. Do you know that I will be angry with you if you make any more such comparisons like the one upon that subject? I certainly,. and assuredly will. When I ^last^ wrote you, I believe that Mrs Van Buren, & the children were expected. All are now here except Mrs. Goes, or Mrs Hoose. (The Dutch spell it with a G!) I have not yet joined them, but shall in a day or two. I am afraid that my little friend John & myself will be unable to agree upon the terms of kissing. I have refused to bestow any upon him, unless he will subscribe to certain condition. He obstinately refuses to admit them, and to night we parted in mutual dissatisfaction. How it will end time only can determine. Of one thing however you may make yourself certain, we will not come to blows. You may make yourself easy on that score. How much you have gratified me by choosing neither to remain at your studies, than to mix with the gay parties of the Tea table & the Ballroom. It has served once more to convince me that you was the same good, sensible and judicious girl, I ever thought you. But I wanted no further evidence. Scepticism in itself must long since have been convinced that such was the fact. But yet I am sorry that you did not go. That is, if you was influenced in remaining at home, by an idea that I would like you the better for doing so. You know that I never did, & never can wish, that you should abridge yourself at all in your pleasures & recreations on my account. On the contrary I desire that you should mix as much as your inclination prompts, in company. Because it may render your time more pleasant & agreeable. Not that I would love you the better if you spent your time as some ladies do in a constant round of visits, parties, Balls, (tho by the bye, you don't have a chance of attending many at Hudson) and other fashionable amusements. Such a life, in one I loved, I should lament. But I know you too well to think of suspecting that you have any wishes to tread in such a path. 

Mr. Van Buren is quite an adept in drawing postscripts. I wish I could put my name to ^the^ important disclosures, which he received, but since I am unable to do that, I will ^join him in^ saying and saying with truth, earnestness, pleasure & hope, that I am forever young. I wish I could have seen Ann H. I have no doubt she looked charmingly, but I am certain she could be not have appeared so lovely in my eyes, as when she presented the roses to my dear Harriet & me. Don't you think she looked remarkably interesting? I thought ^so^ at the time. If it had not been so public I should caught her in my arms & kissed her in your presence. My heart was for doing it. But stop, what I have I been saying? Perhaps Harriet may be, No, she can not, she will not mistake the emotions that spring from love to her, for ^evidence of^ an attachment to another. I am obliged to you for your news. Miss Williams I think is not much to be envied for her admirers. I should think suppose it rather unpleasant "to be so pestered by such popinjays." But "every one to her liking" as Sancho Panza says. How much, how infinitely superior is Abbott to all these fellows? He is in reality a [fe]llow of sterling merit. There's no base metal, no alloy about him. He is made of the right good old fashioned materials, will wear forever, and acquire, polish & splendor from the rubbings of the world. I am not much surprised at your liking Dr. Bradford. "He is a scholar & a ripe and good one." And to the excellency of his literary attainments he adds a voice which is harmony itself, & a delivery elegant and pleasing. But his sermons "resemble more the music than the thunder of the spheres." He has not sufficient animation, force, nor energy. His voice becomes monotonous & his manner seems too cold, too uninteresting, ^there is^ not sufficient warmth nor enthusiasm about him. Still he is a great preacher & his faults are those of manner not of matter. It is now quite late & I must bid you adieu.

good night


I will add a postscript in the morning.

You say you have determined not to write more than once a week. And yet you ask me to write four times! If I did not know of a certainty that you are a very sensible girl, I should suppose that you were beside yourself. Four letters a week from a Student at law, love letters too! it will never do. Flak, Blackstone, Mansfield, Coke & Bacon from the shelves of the library call out No. So that you perceive my dear girl, that you must be contented with the moderate number of two pretty long letters a week. And if your decision is not unalterably fixed, I beg to be considered as an appehlant. I demur (as a lawyer) to one letter a week. But if I can have no more, let that one be long, very long.

Has Eliza Hathaway returned? If she has, do tell me tomorrow whether her health has improved by the visit. Mrs. Van Buren is very anxious to hear from her. She is much attached to her. She has said a great deal to me about Mrs. Stanton & yourself, and I presume if she knew that I wrote so frequently to Hudson, would desire to be remembered to you. She has been very much engaged since she came here, yet she has been treated with very great politeness, and is already pleased with Albany. My love to all, but reserve the best part, the greatest part and the most desirable part for yourself. 


[In unknown hand.]

Recd Oct. 2d. 1816 

Editorial Process Complete