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Here’s one which paints a picture of the realities of 18th Century travel, of an Albany still forested, as the Marquis de Chastellux describes a Revolutionary War winter visit to General Schuyler’s mansion.
Envision this world—so green, so cold! All you have between you and Old Man Winter is wool, felt and hide, and your feet and hands are continually numb. The Hudson flows like slate under an only single shade-up grayscale sky. A twinkle of snow sinks into the surface. The pines hiss, and the wind picks up as we are ferried across the water, the drifting ice striking the boat and icy droplets of water strike our face.
~Daines Barrington, 28 September 1769, report to the Secretary of the Royal Society in London.
I was happy to read that the little boy was allowed to have time with a favorite cat, that Leopold Mozart (“Papa”) didn’t play the martinet and order Wolfgang straight back to the piano. Like little boys today playing with cars, little Mozart would, in his imagination, ride horses.
I’m thinking, really excellent ones, matched, of course, maybe white or dappled gray…”
It’s understandable—not to snoopy writers and historians, of course— that wives of men judged ‘famous” by their contemporaries often burned and bowdlerized their husband’s surviving letters—all and any they could lay their hands on. In deference to those wives, whose spirits have been so forthcoming to their humble servant, here is a brief sample of something I'd rather not have read:
Here's a happier excerpt (a flirtatious double entendre) from Nov 19, 1798, some years after his infidelity, sent by Hamilton to his wife: "I am always happy My Dear Eliza when I can steal a few moments to sit down and write to you. You are my good genius; of that kind which the ancient Philsophers called a familiar; and you know very well that I am glad to be in every way as familiar as possible with you."