Elizabeth, Letter 1-012: To Eliza Sadler

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Author: Elisabeth Ann Bailey Seton .
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Long Island 1st August 1797—

The great length of time since we heard from our dear Sad has now become a serious concern to me, and if our friend H[enry Sadler] had not written to one of his correspondants in N[ew] Y[ork] I should cer­tainly think that some new evil had seperated us still further from the desired point, for if ever we meet again it will be gaining a point to me on which hangs many of my favourite expectations—A Mr. Lawrence also has told my William that Mrs. Sfadler] was well two months ago, enjoying the agréments de Paris1, more in earnest than any one there, that she was in one continued scene of amusement—This was re­peated at the Breakfast table, on which my Sister addressed me with a look of sagacity “there you see what your gentle, sentimental friend has come to.” I observed that it was one of the fixed sentiments of my friend, to submit to all matters of necessity with a good grace and that as you probably would never see Paris again you were right in enjoy­ing all the good it affords. It has several times been insinuated to me that in your absence you will lose that interest you once took in a little retired uninformed personage, who possesses neither fashion nor fancy, but the idea has never given me a moments pain, for when I recieved the first carresses of my Sad she knew as much of the world as she does now, and I dread no alleniation from a Heart that values candour and nature more than refinement and grace, where they are not to be found—the only subject of reflection with me is, that you will find me in a situation which I fill with all the carelessness of an old possessor, whilst to you, unaccustomed to see me in it, every blemish will be instantly discovered, and of them (Heaven knows my con­sciousness and desire of doing better) there are too many—

My little Daughter2 is the object of all others which I most fear to present to you, tho’ I dare say she is the one you most wish to see, she possesses from her Mother a most ungovernable temper and with all my endeavours is past all management. My William leaves her to me. My Father tells me, conquer her by gentleness. Post and my Sister rec­ommends Wipping, which is to me an unnatural resource, and the last 1 shall have recourse to—Send me a word of advice on this subject, or rather make hast to set me right, and assist me in a case which de­mands more resolution, than any situation I have hitherto experi­enced—

10th August—

And where are all my dreams and fancys fled, you again delay your long wished for return,—and next spring promises what so many sea­sons have disappointed, that I scarcely dare look forward even to that—The happy Evenings I have pictured to my Imagination music, reading, all must be given to the winds, for I will not indulge expecta­tions which it is in the power of chance again to deprive me of—You speak of me as independant of you: do you not know that there is not an hour of my Life in which I do not want either the advice or soothings of Friendship, and I sacredly declare that you Eliza S. are the only person to whom I could commit the guidance of my conduct in preferance to the impulse of my own Judgement, therefore never again say that you are not necessary to me, for it is utterly impossible that any one else should fill that place in my estimation which affec­tion and experience has assigned to you. I know that this declaration is unnecessary but my heart has so often made it, that I can not refuse myself the indulgance of expressing it—

15th August

My beloved little William was very unwell when I wrote the above, and he has since been so ill, with inflamation in his bowells that my Father thought he could not recover.—Could I speak to you in the lan­guage of my feelings, should I attempt to express what passed in my Heart in any moment of that time whilst his recovery was uncertain, you would lament that Heaven had allowed me the privilege of being a Mother, for what is there in the uncertainty of human happiness to re­pay the agonizing convulsion of those twenty four hours in which I witnessed his sufferings.

yet it is all past, and he is quietly sleeping in his cradle—[unclear] forgetfulness of sufferings and appears as well as if he had not been ill. My bosom is yet trembling and dares not trust itself with the joyful emotions which present themselves, and takes the pleasures of the present hours with the same silent submission with which it has en­dured the past.—

I will write again very shortly, and tho’ time and chance and sorrow comes to all, and I must take my share, they all united will only draw me nearer to that friend to whom I look for comfort and Sympathy in all events, and with whom I hope to share much Peace and pleasure in time to come, in the meanwhile may they attend you every where—


  1. The pleasures of Paris
  2. Anna Maria Seton, Elizabeth’s oldest child

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