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[Benjamin] Franklin [Butler] to Harriet Allen, 2 December 1817

My dearest Harriet 

The long letter which I promised to give you has not yet been commenced. I have been so much engaged while at NewYork that I concluded to defer any despatch until after the passage was commenced, knowing that the hours of dulness usually spent on board the Steam boat would be rendered agreeable by devoting them to you. Dear Harriet I am almost resolved never again to visit NewYork or any other place without you. Every new journey I make I become more & more convinced of the necessity of your presence to render the moments happy. While I was at N. Y. altho' it was only for three days, I felt the want of you so much that sometimes I was almost love sick. I was disappointed about your brother coming on board. I was mistaken in saying that Mr. Norman informed me he would come on board at Hudson. He alluded to Mr. Sol. Allen of Philadelphia, who came on board at Albany & went down with us to N. York. We had a very pleasant company on Saturday, and between the society on board & Scotts bible which belongs to the Steam Boat I made out to spend my time very pleasantly. We arrived at NewYork before day on Sunday, & as soon as the public houses were open I took up my quarters at the City Hotel, a large establishment which has lately been fitted up in a style of elegance & splendor that exceeds any thing of the kind I ever saw. I went to hear the celebrated Dr. Mason in the morning who has but recently returned from Europe. He presented from Matthew 5th 17. to 20. I was much pleased with his manner & with the substance of his discourse. He is a fine looking man of a very dignified appearance, possesses a Stentorian voice & preaches with great force & energy. He abounds in forcible expressions, in common aphorisms & singularly humorous observations. But he turns every thing into gold. He preaches the truth as "it is in Jesus," with great plainness & ability. His eloquence is rather over bearing than persuasive, resembling at times the thunder but never "the music of the spheres." And yet it is of no ordinary kind. It is vigorous, animated & impressive. In the afternoon I went to Dr. <Romeyns> church and was delighted with the exercises. His text was from the 5th Chapter of Micah ^Micah^ & 4th verse. Oh Harriet how I wish you could have heard him. He is truly eloquent in parts of his discourse. I was more pleased with him than with Dr. Mason. Less authoritative & dogmatic, more affectionately persuasive than Dr. Mason, he came to us in the fulness of the gospel of peace & delivered as I fondly hoped a word in season to many a perishing soul. In the evenig I went again to Dr. Mason, where he addressed a very crowded audience from Peters 2d. epistle 1 ch. 10th. ^&11th.^ verses, a very important subject to all who profess the name of Christ. His sermon was a very able one. It was entirey practical. He enforced on Christians the necessity of adding to their faith virtue, & to virtue temperance & to temperance Godliness & to Godliness patience & brotherly kindness & charity that they might glorify their father who is in heaven & walk worthy of their high vocation. After returning to the City Hotel I accidentally entered into conversation with a gentleman who lodged at the house, who I soon found to be a fine scholar and a ^very^ great traveller. He ^had^ visited many parts of Great Britain & had climbed the Alps & the Appenines. I became very much interested in his conversation and after conversing on a variety of topics, we at last touched on the subject of religion. We soon became engaged in a controversy. I found him to be an antitrinitarian, we talked until 12 o.Clock without being at all aware of the lateness of the hour. He then informed me that he was a Boston clergyman, a Mr. Lowell. What a variety of sects divide & distract the Christian world! How is the seamless garment of our Lord & Saviour torn insunder by the violence of conflicting parties. My discussion with Mr. Lowell convinced me of the necessity of cultivating a spirit of love & charity towards those who differ from us, while we hold fast to the form of sound words & are always ready to give a reason for the hope that is in us with firmness & decision, we should yet be careful not to judge lest we should be judged, and above all to beware how we denounce those who differ from us in opinion as heretics & unbelievers. Yesterday I dined with Mr. Barker & was hospitably received by his family. To day I have been running about a great deal so that when the boat started I was very much fatigued. By tomorrow at Eleven O.Clock we shall pass the city of Hudson, and if the weather is clear & pleasant I shall be favored with a distant view of my dearest dearest H. I saw so many ladies strolling about the streets, and so many persons basking in their smiles that I longed for the company of one who would have made me as happy as the happiest & "lit up a smile on the aspect of" indifference. How happily could we have spent the hours. I have had a pretty pleasant visit, though it has been so short that I have been unable to visit many of my friends, or to attend to any thing but my business. 

Wednesday mornig. I was too much fatigued last evening to fill the sheet. I had been deprived of rest the night before by the carousals of a large party of Scots who were celebrating the birth day of St. Andrew, and having walked a great deal was glad to retire at an early hour. In a few hours I shall see you as I hope & trust though at so great a distance that we can neither unite in the kiss which love holds dear & renders sacred nor hear the sound of each others voice. I know you will be gratly disappointed at the failure of my promise, and sometimes I fear that you will be dissatisfied. But dear H. you must believe me when I say that I did intend most assuredly to stop, and tho' I do most sincerely long for an interview, and that nothing but necessity has compelled me to forego the pleasure of pressing you once more to my bosom. I must be at Albany as soon as possible. Business and duty require it. I have tried several times while on my passage down & while at NewYork to make myself believe that two days would make no difference & that I might steal so many from the week without injury to my concerns, or negligence in duty. But dear I can't. I must get back as soon as possible. I have purchased two or three little articles which I shall send by Robert and which you will accept as a token of remembrance. I was at a great loss what to get. I wanted to give you some evidence to prove that I had not forgotten you, altho seperated by distance & surrounded by a thousand objects calculated to engross & occupy the mind. After deliberating a good deal on the subject I at last concluded to get two or three little trifles which would be not great loss if they should prove useless or unneeded. And I knew too that value would not be regarded by you in a present from your Franklin, and that any thing dictated by his affection would meet with your approbation. Accept them there as a little tribute of affection & regard presented by one who has ever loved and never can forget you. I calculate much on the pleasure of receiving a letter as we pass your city. Last night I dreamed that we passed Hudson & that I had not the pleasure of seeing you on the hill nor of receiving a letter from you. I hope that it may not be realised for if it is I shall become superstitious. You will readily conclude that I must thought a good deal on this subject or I would not have carried it along with me to rest. I shall certainly see you during the holidays & if my time will allow it we will make the visit to my fathers which you propose. I have no doubt that it will be agreeable to all of us. In the meant time let us dwell with gratitude & wonder on the many blessings which are daily showered on our heads, and in the remembrance of those let us forget the inconveniences & privations we may be compelled to suffer. Our situation is infinitely more favourable to the enjoyment of happiness than either of us deserve, perhaps too more prosperous & happy than a few years ago either of us expected. To repine them under such circumstances would be highly criminal. It would be but a poor return to that beneficent being from whose kind hand we have received so many bounties. That we may both of us be preserved from such a sin & may be enabled to "love the Lord our God with all our hearts & minds & strength," and to delight more & more in his service & adoration is the sincere wish of 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)