Skip to main content
View PDF

[Benjamin] Franklin [Butler] to Harriet Allen Butler, c27 June 1818

My own dear wife

I have once more the pleasure of writing you. I hope however, that I may not enjoy it longer, for there is one which I greatly prefer to it, and that is the presence of the most affectionate wife in the universe. Dear creature how I love her. How I wish myself with her to enjoy the mild air of this delightful evening. Soon that pleasure will be mine. Speed on ye hours which are once more to give me to the bosom of my Harriet. 

We reached Sandy Hill about 5. p.m. Rode only 30 miles to day, but had several stops to make & the last was <oppressive> in the middle of the day. The little coat is very excellent for this weather. Without it, it would be intolerable. Find old Mr. Abbott in great alarm about the Bank but I believe we should get along without <illegible> difficulty. While we remain in this neighborhood, we shall make Sandy Hill our head quarters, and shall be comfortably situated while there. But there's nothing like home because you are there. I never knew what it was to be from home before for I never had one which was particularly dear to me (That is since I left K.H.) When I was absent from Alby, I sometimes wished to be there that my business might be attended to, but that was chiefly all. No Harriet was there in whose dearest society I could spend my hours, no wife with anxious care & open arms awaited my arrival. Attentions of that kind were centered in another place, and to that spot, true as the needle to the pole, my thoughts were ever ready to speed their course. Now how different how entirely ^entirely^ different, is the case. Now, Albany is to me a world. It holds all the world has dearest to me, & is ^in^ truth a dearer, sweeter spot than all beside. 

I don't yet know whether there will be preaching here tomorrow or not. I am afraid that there will not. There's a vast contrast between a ^"cotters"^ Saturday Night as described by Burns, & a Saturday night at Sandy Hill. And so there is between one at Alby & here. This is an irreligious place. The people appear to be utterly regardless of their state, as much so as heathens. But stop, I must not pass so great it a censure. I believe there are some of whom better things may be hoped for. Yet the number is lamentably small. How greatly inestimable are the privileges we enjoy. We know not how estimate them. Like dear & valuable friends, their worth is never realised until they are taken from us. In all those previous advantages we shall be compelled to give an account. May the Lord enable us to improve them to our present & eternal welfare. Dear Harriet we ought to pair <praise> our means of grace much higher than we do, we ought more earnestly to strive for an inheritance with the saints in life. We are too cold, too indifferent, we are too well satisfied with our state. We think it safe while we only view it externally. To be well assured, to have a good hope, through grace, we must examine it within. We must probe it to the bottom. We must drag to light every hidden sin, every "darling lust," and offer them as victims on altar of faith. We must do more, we must present ourselves, we must be offered up "a living sacrifice," we must choose whom & we will serve, and if we are for God, we must evince our sincerity, by fighting manfully under the banner of the cross and the captain of our Salvation. May the Lord make us faithful to our own souls, and faithful to himself. May he grant that we may grow in the grace & in the knowledge of our Lord & Saviour so that finally he may take us from sin & toil & sorrow & grant us "an abundant entrance" into his heavenly kingdom.

I shall retire pretty early this evening. Last night I was up till after 11. Mrs. Brown got along better than I expected, seeing she had more than a dozen to accommodate. I had a good bed to myself, much to my comfort & equally so, I presume to the Captains. Mr. Skinner & the Capt joke me about being compelled to leave you so shortly after marriage. Poor old bachelors both of them! Little so they know of the happiness of wedded love. I am willing to be laughed at, for I do think it a misfortune to live without you. If my wishes could be gratified we never should be separated for a single <illegible> day. 

I rose this morning at a quarter after 4. Shall be very industrious while here & begin to feel very well & to eat very heartily of ham & strawberries. They have a good many of the latter so far, and I hope they will hold out. Again I have to beg that you will be cheerful while I am gone & keep up your spirits & be happy. May Heaven protect & bless my dear wife. Your own Franklin.

Monday Morning 1/2 past 5. My dear Harriet. I am in perfect good health this morning, & I hope to use the language of the first letters we ever wrote "that you & sister my be enjoying the same blessing" We shall have our breakfast very soon, and shall then start immediately for our labours. Yesterday I wished myself very often at Albany. Mr. Hamilton preached twice & I heard him both times. In the morning his text was John 14th. 21st. Look at it. It certainly in the hands of an evangelical preacher would afford the subject of an excellent discourse. But as treated by Mr. H. it appeared only to enjoin a formal observance of our duty, a love of virtue, & an hatred of vice, to ensure us of the love of Gods. I left the church without having heard any thing of Christ, that personage whom should make the chief figure in every sermon, without having received any thing to edify or improve. In the afternoon his subject was the history of Joseph, a tale more touching & pathetic as related by the inspired historian, than any thing which fancy has produced or fiction embellished. It is filled with instruction & brings to the mind many interesting reflections. Mr. H's discourse was handsomely written & had a good many pretty things in it. Still there was nothing of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God the sinners hope, the sinners joy. Twice to be sure his name was mentioned in the sermon but once it was only to fill a period & the other was at the usual conclusion "which may the Lord grant for Christs sake amen." I could not help thinking that the congregation were in a bad way. No body to tell them they were sinners. Nobody to urge them to repent & believe. But a sort of preaching dealt out to them calculated to make them well pleased & well satisfied with themselves. In the afternoon there was a Methodist meeting. I went there & there had the pleasure to hear of Jesus Christ & him crucified. An honest sort of illiterate methodist delivered a discourse which professed more true evangelical religion, & was better calculated to do good, than ten thousand such as Mr. H's. 

I shall leave this letter with the tavern keeper to send. There is no mail until Wednesday. Tomorrow I shall hear from you as I hope & trust. I have eat up all the cake already, you know I cant keep a good thing very long. Give sister my best thanks for it, for it was excellent. Dear Harriet I must break off, with my best wishes for a happy return to your dear society & a repetition of my unalterable regard. Give my love to Sister & believe me your own

Franklin

Images for this document are currently unavailable.
Source: N New York State Library
Collection: Benjamin Franklin Butler Papers (N)
Series: Series 3 (17 February 1815-2 December 1821)