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B[enjamin] Franklin B[utler] to Harriet Allen, 3 February 1818

My dear dear Harriet,

I am now amply compensated for all the anxiety I have felt, for I have four letters lying on my table & all of them unanswered. The two first I received on Sunday morning, just as I was going to Church. I merely looked at the date to be assured of your health, was relieved from my apprehensions & kept them until evening when I read them with great delight. Mr. Stanton handed me another last evening at the Tea table, & the last was obtained a short time ago at the Post Office. And you are now within 8 ms. of me. Why am I not flying to embrace you? I certainly am as anxious to see you as I well can or ought to be, and I know that a meeting would be as joyful to you as to myself. The truth however is, that I am resolved on seeing you at Hudson in the course of next week, and I shall then have a better opportunity of enjoying the pleasure which your company affords me, and the visit will be far more satisfactory & delightful to both of us so that I shall rest quite contentedly at home although I am acquainted with your nearness to Albany. I wonder why the Post Master didn't send my letter in the River mail, as I intended. If I recollect right I wrote it in very plain, rough characters on the back of it. No wonder you thought me forgetful & every thing that was bad. I am glad however that you are now convinced of the sincere pleasure with which I endeavour to contribute to your happiness & that since I have adopted my new plan of writing a little every day my letters are more pleasing than they used to be. I am sorry I didn't send you a letter by the mail this evening but I deferred writing until I should hear from you to know the truth about your visit to Schodack. I did prepare the paper for a letter last evening, after I returned from our Forum which is at last organized with Dr. Beck (principal of the academy) at its head on a very respectable footing, but it was late & I was interrupted by a visitor & I don't think I should have put ^it^ in the mail this evening even if it was prepared. And by Thursday afternoon or evening I have no doubt this will become a very well filled sheet to be opened by your own fair hand on Friday. I am sorry that you took so much pains to assure me of your good intentions about writing & of your sorrow for the anxiety which your silence had occasioned, because I am so perfectly satisfied with the warmth & by sincerity of your affection for me that nothing can shake it & I should not have felt alarmed about your silence if your health had been good. If it had not been for that circumstance I should have attributed my misfortune to accident or mistake. But it's all over now. You are well and my fears are removed. Your health is of more importance than a thousand letters. What a dissipated place Hudson must be according to your account. And what a blessing to you that you are saved from the vortex of fashion & the miserable folly (I can use no softer terms) of a life of gaiety & pleasure? And may I not also add with the greatest truth, what a blessing to me too, that the person who is destined to become "the joy of my joys & life of my delights" is willing to abandon the gay scenes of fashionable enjoyment, for the "purer pleasures of domestic life?" But again with more truth than ever, How happy is it for you, considered as an immortal & an accountable being, that you are restrained from the "lying vanities of life" & reserved from the downward path which though strewed with roses yet leads to the chambers of despair. What a rich blessing is this, how should both of us rejoice in it & call upon our souls in the language of the Psalmist to bless the Lord & all that within us is to praise his holy name. But its high time to break off for tonight. Dear H. Good night B. F. B.

Thursday 2. P. M. For a variety of reasons I did not write you the you last evening & in order to make up for that deficiency I will talk so much the more to you to day. By this time I presume you are on your way to Hudson & perhaps very near there. I hope your visit has been pleasant & the ride agreeable, that the good honest people at Uncle Bills are as happy & as easy as ever. How did you enjoy yourself while there? The girls, are they as homely as ever? I should have been glad to have met you there for the place would have revived several pleasant recollections. Did you go through K Hook town, or by my fathers? I shall go to the City of Hudson on Thursday the 12th inst. and remain with you until Saturday. I don't like to be away on the Sabbath. On Wednesday of next week I am to sp speak in our society & all the week after I shall be engaged at home. 

After all this will be one of my short letters. I am ashamed to send you such an one after my promises, but so it is dear. Just as I was engaged in conversing with you, my brother arrived from Kinderhook and as he ^was^ only to remain here during the afternoon I was obliged to stop, to take him up to the Capitol & talk with him till Dinner time & after dinner I had to go with a man from Kinderhook up to the colonie, merely to make myself security for this man who wanted to purchase 50 or 60 dollars of worth of stuff on credit from a man in the colonie. While they were making the bargain I was obliged to stay, in so I entered into conversation with the Daughter & found her a very sociable sort of person. (It was not at a store but at the house of a Mr. Shaw who kept twine for sale & Ropes &c.) Before I got back it was dusk, & it is now 1/2 after 5 & the mail closes at 6. I now reproach myself for not writing you yesterday, for if I had then spent half an hour or so in conversing with you I would not have been reduced to the unpleasant necessity of sending you a short letter. The young lady (Miss Truax) who was lost has been found. She went away on Tuesday & was brought home on Tuesday last, just one week, during which time her parents & friends suffered every thing that fear anxiety & despair could occasion. Parties were formed & every part of the Country scoured with the closest attention, hills & dales were searched, but all to no effect. Monday brought in her shawl from Pittstown about 20 miles East of Albany. It seems she had wandered or travelled there, & hired herself out to a farmer. The report of a lady being lost reached the place & they got her shawl & sent it in to ascertain whether she was the person lost. It is supposed that she was insane. If she was not insane her conduct was cruel & barbarous in the extreme, for her parents & sister have been in the greatest misery imaginable on account of her absence. Dear H. I am my desirous of seeing you again, as much so I believe as you can be of meeting me, but we'll not dispute about this matter, for I believe we have always got along without quarrelling of any kind and we'll not quarrel about the extent of our respective attachment. Next week we shall see each other, again I shall enjoy the delightful privilege of pressing to my bosom the maid I love, and the lips of the boy in a love kiss unite, with the lips of the maid whom his bosom holds dear." When we next part I hope we may be permitted to seal our wishes for each others welfare with the kiss of love which at our last parting we were not permitted to indulge in. In the latter part of your last letter you request me very particularly to write you on Wednesday. I don't know that you will understand unless I tell you now that when I got your letter it was too late to comply with your request the mail being closed & I had not prepared a letter previously because I thought I could wait ill you yours was received. You also make another very singular & extraordinary request & that is that I should love you. Love you dear, then you <want> me to love you, do you? What will you give me as a reward for my affections? Will you give me your heart? If you will I will promise to love you as long as life lasts with all the sincerity & ardor I am capable of. 

In Haste your own


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Source: N New York State Library
Collection: Benjamin Franklin Butler Papers (N)
Series: Series 3 (17 February 1815-2 December 1821)