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B[enjamin] F[ranklin] Butler to Harriet Allen, 15-16 August 1816

My dear Harriett,

Your letter by Mr. Stanton came in good time. It was received with the greatest pleasure. And I can assure you that I needed it. For the last two or three days I had been considerably disappointed in my expectations of hearing from you. I was vexed with Bingham & angry with myself for not sending my letter by Van Buren. On tuesday I calculated to a certainty upon a letter from my dear H. I waited the arrival of the Boat with the greatest impatience, for the Richmond, I thought her unusually slow. At last I heard the welcome news of her arrival, and ran to the Post Office. Finding nothing there, I enquired for the passengers, but no one had anything for me. I concluded either that you had gone into the country, or that you wished to punish me a little for not writing by Bingham. But don't think that I harbored the ^latter^ idea for more than a single moment. It was discarded as soon as suggested. I know that you was too well acquainted with my wishes, to suppose that I had failed in writing you except from mistake or necessity, and I hoped that you loved me too well not to forgive me upon my explanation of the cause. To night I felt confident that I should not be forgotten. Finding that Mr. & Mrs. Stanton had arrived, I made enquiries, found where they staid, but that Mr. Stanton had gone out. As this was after nine, considerably, I concluded to give up finding him till morning, & as I had understood that he had previously called at Mrs. Pepoons, I had no doubt of finding something very acceptable, for me upon my return. On my way I called upon Cornwall for a moment, & while we ^were^ taking a short walk, had the good fortune, as I thought it, to meet Mr. Stanton. He had just left Mr. Chester. After salutations &c &c (& very affectionate & polite they were, I can assure you, on the part of Mr. Cornwall) I was awaiting with anxious expectations to hear that he had been the bearer of a letter, but not a word did I hear of any thing of the kind. I left them in no very enviable condition & could not avoid expressing my amusement to Olcott, as well; perhaps, as some little of my chagrin & disappointment, when I was called by the <Domine>, and presented with your dear, sweet, letters. Need I tell you that they made amends for every thing? They restored me to life and animation. The effect was instantaneous. I mention this long story about my disappointment, to show you that I can form some estimate of your feelings, during the interview with Bingham, from my own experience, and to guard ^caution^ you, as well as myself, against dissatisfaction with each other, when we happen to be disappointed in the letters we expect to receive. We may expect many such, if we continue to keep up a correspondence, which nothing could now induce me to relinquish. And let me conjure my beloved girl, not to suffer any occurrences of this kind to give her any unnecessary pain, nor to induce her to doubt of my fidelity and attachment. Rely upon it, that I am happy in writing you, almost as much so as in receiving letters from you. And I sometimes can not but regret that we had not commenced our written acquaintance, much earlier than we did. I never knew till now, how much I had lost by it. Good night dear, dear Harriett.

16th Cornwall arrived in town the day before yesterday from the springs. And strange to tell the phlegmatic Albanians pass suffered this important event to pass over without one demonstration of respect. No bells were rung, the thunders of artillery were silent, all seemed unconscious of the honor which his Lordship had confered upon them. This visit has settled the point. Cornwall has seen the Swedish Minister & his plump daughters, and can tell your divers pretty stories of the great men of the day. If his head is not in some danger I am very much mistaken. He will be unable to bring himself down to the "vulgar level" of the city of Hudson. 

Mary Jenkins & Adeline have been here for more than a week. I have called on them three or four times. Indeed for the last fortnight I have been more of a Beau, than during my residence at Albany. before But the more general my acquaintance among the ladies, the more am I satisfied with my choice, and the more <fervently> attached to you. Harriett you have nothing to fear from inconstancy on my part. I can not forget you if I were inclined to the attempt. Would not "the memory of the joys that are past," the recollection of the scenes of happiness, of mutual confidence, & of fond endearments, of those delicious moments "when soul meets soul in rapture high,", haunt me forever? I am sure they would. And as it is in my own power to make the remembrance of those things, a sense of delight or of misery and horror, I can not be at a loss. 

I dont think it fair in Ann, to wish to take you off to the sultry climate of the South. I shall never consent to it. And I so think she ought to have known better. What would become of me? Ask her to take these things into consideration, & either to let you remain & also to make me an appendage to her family. I am happy to find that you have no great objections to the name, & that my own good taste is confirmed. As to the bet with the black eyed girl, I know not what to say. I hope you may lose it. If in my power you should be compelled to purchase the gloves tomorrow. But I am satisfied, even if fortune did not now interpose an inseperable bar to the consummation of our happiness, that prudence would suggest the propriety of waiting a short time. In my present situation, you know how absolute is the necessity. Much as I love you, I would not in my present situation, marry you, for the world. "Not that I love you less," but that I ^also^ love your happiness and comfort in this world, and because I have long since resolved that neither shall be jeopardized by me. We are both both young, and if we possess sufficient constancy in our attachments it will be no injury to either of us to wait till the happy moment will arrive. It will be but a short time to us, if we continue to love. Time flies away rapidly. Look at the last year. It seems but as yesterday to me. Less than a year & I am in business. If it is good, I shall be for calling upon Mr. Stanton immediately. But upon the whole I think friend Conwall's guess is a pretty good one. In the mean time, we have an admirable opportunity to test the sincerity of our love, and to become well acquainted with each other. If you should meet with Mary P. you may tell her that I have given Caroline a good scolding, and that she has promised amendment. She will write her by Monday, if not before. Whether Olcott is fond of Mary, be not I can't say. While I was gone to New York, he was very attentive to her & I know that he esteems her much. Indeed she was a very great favorite with all of us, and I think deservedly so. Do you know that we are Cousins? Tell her that Cousin Franklin sends his love to her. She will understand it. 

I agree in all you say of Mr. Stanton. If I had time I would attempt a sketch of what I conceive the prominent points in which he differs from Mr. C. In my opinion he ^is^ infinitely his supreme in every thing. In clear and energetic reasoning, powerful appeals, and pathetic eloquence, he surpasses every man I have heard, except his great model & instructors Dr. A.H. Of Mrs Stanton tho' I esteem her very highly, I am yet unwilling to believe that she ^possesses^ "all the qualities I wish to find in a wife." At any rate I am sure she would ^not^ suit me as well as your dear self. 

Did you ever hear such impudence as Mrs Coffin has been guilty of? Tell her unless she behaves herself remarkably well, she shall not only be neglected & forgotten at our wedding, but shall also have none of the plumb cake & the other grincracks usual before such an interesting occasions. (You may give her my compliments by way of softening this severe threat of mine, otherwise I am afraid it would break her heart.) I am really sorry to hear such bad news of Laura's health. She is a good girl, and no small favorite of mine I assure you. If I see any of her family I will inform them of her illness and advise them to send for her. Have the goodness to ask his Excellency Mr. Bingham whether he did not engage to be at the Steam Boat wharf at 9 o.clock, and whether he did not leave Albany some time before the Boat. If he says no, to these enquiries I will admit that I have no one to blame but myself. However I have forgiven him, for your last letters were so much more than I expected that it was impossible for me to do otherwise. I am glad that you corrected the mistake in writing the word "trouble." You know that I shall be delighted with hearing from ^you^ always. But I insist upon it that you by ^must^ not give yourself "trouble" in writing to me. My dear Harriet, let me entreat you to be careful of your health. I know you will. You don't know how much pain it gives me to hear that you are unwell. Give my love to Lydia & your mother. I am very much obliged, indeed, to Miss Talman, & shall always remember her with esteem. I think I have written you a pretty long letter. (If my letters are tedious you must say so.) But you will observe that the first sheet is a very small one. Olcott lent it to me but told me it was rather "a stingy one." He will gladly embrace the ^his^ first visit to Hudson to become acquainted with a girl who is the constant object of my admiration & regard your own


B. F. Butler 


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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)