Elizabeth, Letter 1-009: To Eliza Sadler

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Author: Elisabeth Ann Bailey Seton .
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August 1796

Do you not think that after all the anxiety I have lately known on your Account, I kissed the letter and placed it in my Bosom, which told me that you were quietly living among all the tumults which sur­round you1. The first of June was also a later date than I expected, and from some other circumstances also this dear letter conveys a greater Joy to my Heart than any I have recieved since we parted. You love me, and yet call me dearestThe longer I live and more I reflect and know how to value the realities of Friendship, the more precious that distinction becomes, and. I look forward to the dear Hope that my Sweet Child2 will also enjoy it—You need not fear to lose me—no my Sad every hour I pass shows me the Instability of every expectation which is not founded on reason. I have learnt to commune with my own Heart, and I try to govern it by reflection, and yet that Heart grows every day more tender and softened, which 1 in great measure I attrib­ute to the state of my Williams Health3, that Health on which my every Hope of Happiness depends and which continues me either the most perfect Human felicity or sinks me in the lowest depths of sor­row—That Health certainly does not mend and I often think very much decreases, and altho’ it is my fixed principle both as a Christian and a reasonable Being never to dwell on thoughts of future events which do not depend on myself, yet I never view the setting sun or take a solitary walk but melancholy tries to seize me, and if I did not fly to my little Treasure4 and make her call Papa and kiss me a thousand times I should forget myself—This disposition is also increased by the expectation of another precious Sharer of my self5 whether it be happy or the reverse; therefore my Sad I am become a looker-up which is certainly the only remedy for my description of sorrow. Yes dear Sad I shall have an Ang[el] in each hand to recieve you—and how will you express your emotion—who will you fix your eye on—how often will you say dear dear Eliza—

Next November will be the month of my confinement and in that time how many thoughts of my Sad will be mixed with others dear and interesting. Mama Fiter has no longer the same cares and attentions for me, without being particularly the reverse. My William dines and sups with her constantly and every office of good will and kindness is fulfiled quietly and uniformly. It is all right and perhaps the failure on her part is greatly owing to my not having the same leisure I once had for Intercourse of a different discription—But on my Part my Sad (You are not to be decieved) I am Irrecoverably lost to Her and where Esteem does not exist how can I express friendship—the moon might as well meet the Sun—but be assured I never will forget that she is in Years—a Stranger—and has fought many a hard battle for me added to which her kindness and attention have been those of a Mother, feel­ing these things as I do, do not fear—

Julia6 is a little vain Shadow and never Interests me but when she is in sickness or sorrow—then I fly to her, hold her in my Bosom till the Storm is past, and only care enough for her to hold the chain together until it comes round again W.C.7 is the best and most valuable Male Friend I have in the world except my two bests8, I do not know his equal and never before saw a man who I would so readily choose for a Brother[.] every body who knows him thinks well of him and he rather seems to enjoy the respect given to a man of forty, settled in Life than the passing Approbation generally bestowed on men so young and in-experienced—

Do you know that it is two months since I have written to you and yet those months are spent in scenes familiar to you and which forever remind me of you. I cannot Spell you the place that is past my art, but it is certainly one of the pleasantest and best calculated for real retirement of any I ever met with. You remember your situ­ation on Long Island9 with Mrs.White[.]10 I am about two miles nearer the Narrows11, enjoying every comfort of the country with­out a single Interruption of visitors, servants or any other diffi­culty—My Will12 comes three times a week, and when the moon shines every evening—

You are surprised to hear we are not at Mr. [John] Wilkes or rather I believe you forsaw it would be so—however my William has man­aged it so as not to give offence and my Daughter having the Lax13 with cutting her teeth made the necessity for Sea-air evident—I never before enjoyed the pleasures of the country so perfectly. Sister Post14 is within a hundred yards on one side and if I but had you my Sad, the other I should have every charm of society—My Father is Health offi­cer of New York and runs down in his Boat very often to see us, and when he meets me and little love he says there never was such a pair, that he sees no such cheerful welcome expression in any other eyes in the world—You may believe it for there never was truer affection in any Heart than in Mine towards him—

You do not tell me if you preserve your Health—I well remember those violent head-achs you used to suffer and my friend Henry Sadler] is he merry and cheerful as ever? You must tell me many many things my Sad, if we are still to be so long separate—and may you long enjoy the singing of sweet Birds, but not in Europe, come here and hear my Bird sing, it has the sweetest voice—and you may take it Home and enjoy it both Summer and Winter—

I am very glad that I have written you to day as I find a vessel sails on Sunday and so much I have at heart your Remembrance of me as your Dearest that I would not have missed the chance of your hearing from me on any account W[illiam] C[raig] was to tell me where to write you, but he is a man of business and I forgive him, tho’ in future I will write if only five lines by every opportunity as I am sure you will have many anxieties for me—

Dearest Sad may every blessing of a contented mind be yours think of me as one who often thinks of you and who hopes notwithstanding all the changes and chances, to meet you soon with the welcome of true affection—

most Sincerely
Your E.A.S.

  1. Elizabeth may have been referring to the fact that military and political tensions hetween Britain and France in the 1790s led the French to declare that all United States ships en route to Britain were subject to search.
  2. Anna Maria Seton. Elizabeth’s oldest child
  3. Tuberculosis ran in the Seton family. William Magee Seton was beginning to show signs of it.
  4. Anna Maria Seton
  5. Elizabeth’s second child was due in November.
  6. Julianna [Julia) Sitgreaves Scott (1765-1842) was the first daughter of William and Susanna Dcshon Sitgreaves. She was horn in Philadelphia and after her marriage to Lewis Allaire Scott January 15,1785. she lived in New York. The couple had two children, John Morin Scott and Mafia Litchfield Soon. Julia moved from New ‘York to Philadelphia in 1798 shortly after her husband’s death and lived with her sister, Mrs. Charlotte Sitgreaves Cox. She was a lifelong confidante and benefactor whose friendship Elizabeth Seton cherished. They carried on an extensive correspondence until Elizabeth’s death in 1821.
  7. William Craig was the brother of Eliza Craig Sadler. He later married Elizabeth’s half-sister, Charlotte Amelia Bayley.
  8. William Magee Seton, Elizabeth’s husband, and Or. Richard Bayley, her father
  9. The Sadlers had a summer home on Long Island, an island roughly parallel to the shore of New York and Connecticut.
  10. A neighbor of Elizaheih
  11. A strait connecting upper and lower New York Bay and separating Staten Island from Brooklyn
  12. William Magee Seton worked in the city while Elizabeth and her daughter were at a summer home on Long Island.
  13. A nineteenth century term for diarrhea
  14. Mary Magdalen Bayley Post (1768-1856), Elizabeih’s sister, was the oldest daughter of Dr. Richard and Catherine Charlton Bayley. She married Dr. Wright Post in 1790 and had nine children, seven of whom lived, Edward. Lionel (Lee), Catherine Charlton, Richard Bayley. Eugene, Mary, and Emily .

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