Letter from Jessie Benton Frémont to Francis Preston Blair, August 30, 1857

    Source citation
    Frémont, Jessie Benton, to Francis Preston Blair, 30 August 1857. As printed in The
    Letters of Jessie Benton Frémont
    , ed. Pamela Herr, Mary Lee Spence. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1993, p. 167-170.
    Author (from)
    Jessie Benton Frémont
    Recipient (to)
    Blair, Francis Preston
    Date Certainty
    Mike Gogoj
    Transcription date
    The following text is presented here in complete form, as it originally appeared in print.  Spelling and typographical errors have been preserved as in the original. 

    To Francis Preston Blair

    St. Germain en Lye
    Sunday the 30th of August [1857]

    My dear Mr Blair,

    Last night’s mail brought not only your letter of good tidings but one from Cousin Sarah giving me a feminine version of the same and equally welcome, almost, a letter from Father in which he shews me there is no longer any feeling in his heart against Mr. Frémont. As you say in yours “it was a shower of blessings from Heaven.” I have been more uneasy for Lizzie than I would even
    acknowledge to myself. I was already in bed when the letters came – it was after ten (I keep country hours) and seeing the great black seals on letters from Father my sight grew too troubled to recognize the next letter. I took the writing to be Mr. Frémont’s and had a moment’s wonder at hearing so soon from Panama, when I recognized it was Mr. Lee’s, which he had rather altered in writing larger than his ordinary style. That reassured me completely and I read the first few lines and found my sight gone again for I was crying so heartily that I could not read beyond “my grandson & your godson Preston Blair Lee.” Lizzie is so much a part of your life that much would have gone with her and for her Mother it would have been an entire loss of health. I could not bear to think what would have followed. Thank God it is not so. Everything is shining with new light around you. Frank is carrying out your work in Missouri and you are winning old laurels over again in person. I dared not believe in our success in Missouri until Father’s letter. I am so glad he is with you again – it was kindly done of Frank to refer to him as the head of a party. Father does not find pleasure in many things. You are very different but you understand
    him. Since Mother’s long illness shut off his affection and confidences in her, no one took her place. I tried, but while I grieved at being unable to succeed in giving Father that consolation, I could but honor his faithful heart that rolled the stone over the mouth of her grave. We have narrow channels for our love but terribly deep. If they cannot come to the surface they wear inward. Father has thrown himself violently into writing but work never yet filled the heart, it only uses up time. When I saw how he was embittered last summer it went to my heart that the injury, fancied as it was, should have come through me. I wanted success that I might put it at his feet and let him make use of it and feel his old power returned. Mr. Frémont was very good and very forbearing – and you know how he was hurt by the St. Louis speech in November. It was a sort of Brutus stab. I am afraid I am not of the right stuff for a political woman. I find myself thinking it was the “world well lost” since family harmony and peace for my Father’s old age has come out of defeat. Mr. Frémont has everything else – health and youth and in his home there is no blank and a moderate man might be contented with the vote he had last fall. I want the party to prevail. I am so very glad of its success in Missouri – only one thing makes me wish for Mr. Frémont’s being the candidate – or rather a successful one – and that is to triumph over the enemies who made it a personal matter last year. I see that now, in India, when there is a fight the English troops as they load pass the word “remember the ladies – remember the babies.” If I go into the fight again it will be with the same watchword “remember Mr. Frémont’s mother.” The sepoys in India have done nothing more brutal than did Mr. Wise and Mr. Toombs last year. Their speeches were worse, when you remember the difference of country and education and religion; and they are not forgotten.

    These are the first political souvenirs I have given way to since leaving New York. I came for rest and I have found it. “In these green solitudes” as my dear old favorite Héloise calls them.

    I devote all my time and all my energies to growing strong. We have miles and miles of old forest around us and I often walk there from seven to ten. The girls go every day with Charley and a servant – Mémé’s husband. All our old servants are back with us – there is nothing changed. God has even given me a child in place of the one born here. Frank is at this moment playing on the gravel walk before me, a great healthy boy with a crown of bright curls around his sun burnt face. I am writing in the garden with blue sky and trees around me. As it is Sunday we do not go to the forest today & our outdoor habits are so strong that seven o’clock finds us all spotted about. Lil near her rabbit & goat – she has a snow white goat fit to offer up to Jupiter – Nina with an India rubber ball taking exercise on the lawn & Charley building houses & stables in a remote corner given up to his litter. Frank has enough of the baby left in him to play near me in preference to ruder company. It is the most delicious weather possible, warm enough but cool & bracing. The country around is rejoicing in the great wine crop. This is one of the remarkably good years and following as it does so much agricultural distress it is doubly welcome. I am going ot take the girls the end of this month to Epernay – it is in the heart of the champagne wine district and only two hours & a half from Paris by railway. There, I am told, they have great rejoicings at the close of the vintage – real peasants dance real peasant dances and wear country clothes. You have no idea of the comfort of traveling here. Boilleau was very ill here in July, from engorgement of the liver. Father will have told you of their departure for India so much sooner than we had counted upon. The delay granted him for his illness was given to trying the benefit of the waters at Vichy where the baths have great effect on diseases of the liver. It is over two hundred miles from here to the south. I kept Pensée until it was time for them to leave there & then with only a servant took her to Susan. It is eight hours ride in the most luxurious of private chariots for eight dollars. For a little less price you have carriages of eight seats built like a great private carriage – cushioned and carpeted so that neither noise nor motion interrupts the pleasure of the ride.

    Susan is not strong. She insisted upon accompanying Boilleau although he left it to her to stay with me as I wished. On the other hand I am glad she is with him. Those long breaks in married life are dangerous – one must either be unhappy or indifferent & if one is bad the other is almost always worse.

    Susan will not be in an exposed place. Boilleau has every liberty given him and his tenderness and care for Susan are so great and so sincere that I have no fears of harm coming to her. She is very fortunate in her marriage.

    It is near church time – we have a little English chapel here with so small a congregation that we would make a breach by not going. Charley behaves very well there. This will be the first Sunday in many that I shall not feel my heart grow heavy when they pray “for all women in the perils of childbirth.” Thank you very much for your quick thought for me and with my warmest love to Mrs. Blair and Lizzie believe me my dear Mr. Blair yours most affectionately,

    Jessie Benton Frémont

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