Benjamin Franklin Butler to Harriet Allen, 30 July 1816
B[enjamin] F[ranklin] Butler to Harriet Allen, 30 July 1816
July 30th. 1816
My dear Harriet,
I wrote you yesterday by Miss Olcott, but as I had a great many things to say to you, I intentionally avoided saying any thing more of your letter by Laura, than that I had received it. But now permit me to express if I can how much I am indebted to you. Never did any thing of the kind afford me such heartfelt pleasure. The unreserved, frank, and manly expression of your affection, almost transported me with joy and gratitude. Never can I forget it, never ^will^ I cease in my endeavours to deserve it. But how can I make myself worthy of so rich a blessing. The more I know of you, the more I am satisfied of your claims to my whole heart,
but ^and^ the more fully am I convinced of my unworthiness to possess you. But I am satisfied, I am believed by you, and I will continue to cherish the hope, that we were designed for each other. And if the study of a whole life can make any return for the treasure you have bestowed upon me, that you shall have. Nothing can prevent f me from loving you, and I am firm in the belief, that nothing can ever lessen the order of my attachment. <And> Believe it Harriet, hearts like ours, so long accustomed to unity of sentiment of wishes & of hopes, can not easily be wrenched asunder. Our attachment was always mutual. It commenced early, when our minds were flexible, and easily susceptible of lasting impressions. And for myself I can say that neither absence, lapse of time, nor a greater knowledge of what is called the world, have ever caused me for a moment to wish that my attentions to you might be recalled. On the contrary, my attachment for you, has acquired strength and stability from time. If it has less romance it has more stability and firmness. If it ^be^ be so controlled by ^the^ imagination, and less influenced by a Passion, it is more under the guidance of reason and of judgment. They now approve and sanction it, perhaps they were not consulted two years ago. And have you not some right to expect fidelity? Can you not repose with confidence in the continuance of my affection.
Pardon me for having doubted that your Brother was friendly to my intimate acquaintance with you. I could not know what he thought of it, and I feared the worst. The want of fortune, tho' I know his noble soul too well, not be convinced that he is above any considerations of the kind in forming his estimate of character, might yet be thought by him an objection to the person who aspired to his sisters hand. He can not but wish, when a sister dear as you are enters into so important a conversation, that she should be above want. He will be uninfluenced by the warm emotions we feel towards each other, and will judge more coolly on the subject. I have never lost sight of things. And though I am satisfied that you will never be able to move in such a sphere, as your virtues would deserve, yet I firmly believe, that you will never be compelled to endure those destressing calamities which often follow a marriage for love, when neither of the partisans possessed of fortune. Your letter has removed all doubts and fears on this head. And I think I ought to be satisfied that your <
illegible> Mother has no great objections to me, for she gave me your letter herself. Coming from such a source, increased the pleasure I should otherwise have derived from it. And her conduct towards me, has always been so kind and affectionate, that I flatter myself that I have some small share in her regard.
I broke off my letter here to call upon your Ma. I found her at Mrs. Jenkins', surrounded by company. Mrs. Mayoress had quite a fashionable party of married ladies and gentlemen. Her <room> was however graced by the presence of the dear Miss Bloodgood, a great Belle, and her sister, the little Beauty. They are ladies of family & fortune and of course favorites with the Gentlemen. I saw your Ma in a new situation at the party. And I ^was^ most forcibly struck with the dignified plainness & the unaffected ease of her manners. What a contrast, between her, and the gaudy butterflies of fashion, who are to be found in the higher circles of polished society. She has been much admired here, by all who have conversed with her. Who can know
h without esteeming her. How much did I wish that you had supplied the place of Miss B. For with all her beauty, accomplishments and wealth, she is far from being an interesting girl. At least I thought so, for tho' I have known her for more than a year, I have hardly exchanged ten words at a time with her ladyship.
I have called several times on Mr Allen, but not as often as I could have wished.
to have done And I hope you will attribute the little politeness I have endeavoured to shew her, to its true course, a real and sincere esteem, without taking into consideration her relationship to you, or designing to ingratiate myself with your Ma.
I believe I have attended to all your letters. The bearer of one of them (your friend the Revd. Mr Covert) gave us a second edition of "Did you see nothing more?" to the great amusement and admiration of the Albanians. Fortunately I escaped the punishment. "From such apostles, O ye mitred heads! Preserve the church, and lay not careless hands, On skulls that can not teach, and will not learn." One of your letters ^<illegible>^ to Miss Edmonds,
are arriving too late, I shall send it by Laura, to whom I shall give this. What a sweet girl she is? I am sure I shall always love her. I think she must be quite a pleasant companion to you.
I am glad you are pleased with the Books. Dear Harriet, cherish always your fondness for reading. From this ^source^ I calculate for great happiness with you, and I am confident I shall not be mistaken. Without sentiment and taste what is love?
I told Caroline you had sent her a great package of love, & she desires to send you as much in return. She is a good girl, but I fear she is to be afflicted, in the illness of her mother. Her health has been very bad lately, & does not appear to improve.
You say your thoughts are rambling about love. I shall be glad to find them, for I am in want of some. Mine are carried off by every breeze from the North.
I know you are rather fond of long letters. And that is one reason why this is so inconsiderate. Another is, that I shall not soon have so fine a chance of writing you. But perhaps the best of all is, but I won't pester you with reasons, for I am sure you will forgive me without racking my brain for excuses. Give my love to Lydia & Mrs C. I congratulate myself on having had a full explanation with your sister. I was always her friend, tho' she once thought otherwise. Remember me to your Brother, & Ann Olcott. I do not know when I shall have the happiness of meeting you at Hudson, till I do I must content myself with saying by letter, that I am with sincerity of heart your affectionate
P.S. If you know Abbot well as I do, you would esteem him for his own sake. He admires you. You will write me again, when you have a good opportunity, if only five lines, won't you? Perhaps it would not do for me to receive letters from you, too often. For I was so much pleased with the last, that it was remarked by our people at dinner, that some joyful event had happened to me. I dont ask you to remember me to Caroline Talman, for fear you should suppose I only did it because you talked with me on the subject. <
illegible> Yet I do esteem her cordially. Good night dear dear girl & may Heaven protect you! 12 O.Clock