The Past is a Foreign...Something

I Feel Warm

Or, your daily dose of archival intrigue.


Two notes, One sheet:

First hand (top of page)

Will you do me the favour to destroy the papers I sent you last night — I may have spoken more unnreservedly of a third person than I ought — It is growing colder — will you have a fire.”

Second hand (bottom of page):

My dear Madam

I considered your paper precious to me, and I thought it better to keep it, but since you express a wish to have it destroyed, I will comply. No need of fire. I feel warm.”

I found the above in the microfilm edition of the Papers of William H. Seward. Really, it’s just a scrap of paper. There are two different hands — one on top, on one the bottom. It has no date, but since it’s filed with the other December 1841 stuff, I think it’s safe to assume the note dates from then.

A label on the very bottom of the sheet, probably written by an archivist, identifies the note as written by one John Carlin. Carlin was Seward’s son-in-law – so if the archivist is correct, then it is probably a note between Carlin and the young Miss Seward, and that’s how it came into WHS’s papers.  Ho hum.

I prefer to imagine something a bit more exciting — something worthy of the second writer’s dramatic language. An affair, perhaps, or at the very least some secret courting, done on the sly. Alas, we shall never know. Or, if we did, it would probably be less interesting than what we imagine.

At least that’s my thoughts on a chill gray morning.

No need of fire. I feel warm.

Cite: The Papers of William H. Seward (Woodbridge, CT: Research Publications, 1982), Reel 126, Folder no. 5090.

Image cite: Daniboy_999, “feuer 2,” Flickr, CC License

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