Henry Livingston, Jr.
Henry Livingston's Letters

Transcription - Illinois State Archives
Chief Justice Sidney Breese Collection

From the bottom of my soul I do most sincerely love you my Child- Is absence a foe to love? No friendly, by Hyman its friendly; while I was with you at Stanford I had not any idea of my loving you so very intensely as I now find I do- I think of you all day long; I think of you the evening throughout; and as I have placed your dear profile in my Bedroom and as the last face I see I am sure to dream of you at least five times a week– This last [accident] is a clever affair. I assure you & gives me much consolation- Believing You tote me to Believe that I am not altogether indifferent to you I inclose you my own profile such as my sister Joanna took it an evening or two ago. You will see if it is a likeness; if it is, look on it and think of me that lives only to be yours-

Oh! Sally how versatile are all sublunary things! Yesterday I attended the remains of Mrs. Beardsley, formerly Miss Caty Brooks of Hartford to her final home- -Followed the corpse of one, that but a few months before was the picture of health & mirror of vivacity; was hansome without vanity, gay without indelicacy, & [xx] without [yy]- I feel distressed for the friend department; she had not one relation of her own by blood near her, no mother, no sister, not themost distant couzin to drop the tear of real distress- alto there was tears dropt for she had friends- I could not help thinking of you my love; if you should be [xx xx] here, so far from the place of your nativity if you should--------My heart bleeds I will not think any more on it– But if you should my dear, the God of all nature will take care of his particular jewels, He will my dear, & will bless you and will delight to make all your ways, ways of peace– And your Husband will be to you instead of every other relative-

I expect every day to receive a letter from you. I have never yet received one- Strange! That we should have commenced an acquaintance have formed the most cordial friendship and sworn to each other the most undissembled Love, and yet you have never wrote me one single letter! At least as yet I have never received any- Does it proceed from want of affection Sally? Does it? I can't speak my heart & say I think it does. I think you have to much goodness & upright honesty to tell me you loved when you did not love- If you do not my dear creature love me better than any man upon earth beside, If you do not think You will not only make me happy by marrying, but that you will make yourself so too; speak not at once my love- I can rather bear misery than you- But I think this makes you uneasy, I do most sincerely believe that I am the man of your [contest] and most unbiased choice & that you have laid your plans of happiness with & you joined to mine- Believe me Sally that my love to you is sable as the Earth, permanent as the skies- while I live I shall love you. I every moment am renewing my vows of fidelity to you.

I tell my acquaintance who ask me, without any the lease reserve that I am to be married to a Connecticut Lady One Miss Sally Welles daughter to Parson Welles of Standford next May, & that she is to come up with me the same month- Those who are in love with keeping these things carefully secret and imagine every one else must be so too will not believe me- But whether they believe me or not I am certain if health & life is mutually retain'd twill happen as sure as "Bright Pheobus doth Illuminade------

Your sister met mine in town hope she is pleas'd with them; their hearts I trust are good tho their taste & manners may perhaps not be altogether so much refin'd as my sister Maria could wish– They tell me my Sister here that they are much delighted with Molly & think her a fine girl– don't let the Romp know how much they & myself love & esteem here least she should be puffed up with vanity and [ightly] consider the maildens of her acquaintance– Heaven bless her. She is a sweet girl & next to thee my sweet there is never her peer in Connecticut. My sister Theodosia I believe I shall also speak a word or two to after thee– Altho I am sixty miles from her I yet think and think with pleasure of my ssiter Theodosia-

[Could Mary Sylvester Welles be Molly? She was 20 at the time. He says his sister Theodosia, who would be Sarah's sister, and she was 16 at the time.]

What would I not give my darling for one evening social converse with the woman I esteem highest upon Earth, one short Evening– A few hours– One hour! I wonder I did not lett you when I was with you much better than I did how very much I lov'd you, how I even Idolized you, How the contemplation of you & your charms was my very life.-- I am afraid my addresses were too languid, too lifeless to please you. I [xx xx xx] to be apprehensive that you imagine I do not love you enough– That you may think I left you too soon, that I ought to have staid at Stanford a few weeks longer & have told the tale of love over and over and over again- - - I told you then my Dear my reason for going so soon (I must mention this my dear because I think you thought it a little strange) My Interest Sally you know is now yours, and every step I take to secure it, is in some measure an Indication of my love to my [xx] -My family was left to the care of a perhaps not altogether the best qualified for an overseer upon earth and whose want of circumspection might have been injurious to me before spring had I not been near him to direct- which I believe would have been the case- For on my return I found I had been quite long enough gone for the health of my father- You will be perhaps displeased at my writing to you in this familiar domestic manner as if you were already my wife- But you must pardon this among the rest of my errors- - - when I write to you I mean to lay open an undisguised [xx] to you in the same manner as if we were in a tate a tate- It's the life of Epistolary correspondence to exchange hearts freely & rather study to tell all we know and feel than how to tell when we sometimes feel & [pant] out a letter of what we know– I would have you to copy from me in nothing but in honest fervent love, and writing long and familiar letters, the genuine feelings of a good heart;-- Believe me every sentiment, every word from you shall be as Calm to my [love?] Soul- I will [recur] to them again and again, dwell on every thought, consider every word and contemplate every syllable, not with the temper of a [captreas] observor but with all the Candour of a plain Man, and all the generousity of a Lover- You cannot write any thing to me my Love that that can fail to please me; could it be possible for you to write nonsense twould be the nonsense of one I loved and therefore would give delight-

- Good news my Dearest [xx xx] but 3 weeks and the winter will be past & then but 2 short months (You know April has but 30 days) when we shall meet again, and meet I hope never to be parted! When as our hearts have long since been, so then our hands will be [indejialably] joined; and may the Almight Father of Being make us his private care & bless us–

-Serenely may you lay down to rest my Love and may thy slumbers be the sweet respite of well employed waking hours– Angels guard thy pillow; and gentle dreams entertain thy amiable fancy thy vivacious imagination– When you awake, may you awake to scenes of happiness and domestic joy and may all around you smile when you my Cherub smile--

-My mother gives her love to you, my Sister too- I send you her profile (Joanna's) I guess you can distinguish between hers & mine–

I love thee Sarah as I love my own soul- Believe thy H. Livingston Jun-

Poghkeepsie Feby 8th 74
To Miss Sally Welles

Sally was still living at home with her parents, Rev. Noah Welles and Abigail Woolsey, the daughter of Rev. Benjamin Woolsey and Abigail Taylor.

Don Foster found that the phrase "Happy Christmas" first appears in print in 1823, in "A Visit From St. Nicholas," published in the Troy Sentinel. And here, fifty years earlier, Henry uses it in a letter to his dear Sally.


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