A letter by Susan Augusta Fenimore Cooper to her sister written from Paris in 1830.
December 7th, 1830
I am sure you would have been gratified my dear sister could you have seen the very great pleasure with which your letter of the 1st of June was received—it contained so much that was interesting about those dear to us, that it was read and re-read repeatedly—and in the warmth of my gratitude, I determine ed to answer it instantly—but then came the hustle and confusion of packing up, for it reached me in the eve of our departure from Dresden, and I postponed it until we should be again established, the result of which is, that I am now writing to you four months afterwards—we quitted Rome the 15th of April, and travelled very pleasantly up the eastern side of Italy, sometimes very much fatigued, sometimes out of humor with the dirt or impositions we met with, bit often enchanted with the beautiful scenery and places of interest that we passed through—we crossed the Rubicon, over battle grounds of the Romans and the Carthaginians, stood on the port from whence Armies of Crusaders had parted from the Holy Land, made a pilgrimage to Loretto picked up shells on the shores of the Adriatic, gathered flowers on the summit of the Apennines and in short experienced all that variety of interest which this beautiful country offers to all who love nature or the arts. We made Venice our resting place for three weeks—and improved the time in getting our clothes washed, a thing very necessary after traveling for thirteen days successively and in exploring the wonders—we mounted the Tower of Galileo, descended into the dungeons of the state Inquisition, saw their Instruments of torture—visited
their magnificent churches, and their palaces falling into ruin and their splendid museums, and floated about in gondolas—we were fortunate in having brilliant moonlight nights and nothing can be more lovely than the Square of St. Marks viewed by a bright moon. We arrived in Dresden the 22nd of May and in the 25th commenced housekeeping in the land of our Sazon ancestors—on our way up we several times had great difficulty in making the people at inns understand us—they generally spoke French very indifferently, and sometimes not at all and we knew very little of German—we did better however than once during our travels in Switzerland, where Mr. Cooper was obliged to crow and William to cluck like a hen, to show that we wanted a chicken and eggs our breakfast. The neatness of Germany was delightful, and we enjoyed it the more from its contrast with Italy, where we used to ask ourselves sometimes, what would mother have done had she been placed in an Italian tavern, and seen the arrangements for her breakfast? In Germany the great evil was the short beds and the strange arrangements of the bedclothes—they put on an under sheet and the other is made with a bag, and all the rest of the bedclothes put in it and is very short, for a short bed. You will readily conceive the importance of Mr. Cooper and Willian, the latter particularly, who has legs like a colossus—we were three quite months in Dresden—the children were all at school, studying German except Paul, who is my scholar, and who you have advanced a year in his age, he will not be seven until February—in the course of our quite three months
however, we had a festival and a riot—the first was in honor of Luther, and very interesting his memory is fondly cherished by the Germans—in the Church to which we went his portrait was placed opposite the pulpit with an old and much used bible placed above it, which had probably been his. The festival was a centennial commemoration of the confession of Augsburg, and this was the third-it lasted three days; there were professions of the civil authorities of the several Literary Institutions, and the Private Schools—the churches were all ornamented, and addresses delivered by the Clergy—in the evening there were illuminations we lighted our windows , to show that we too were interested in the blessing of the Reformation and the children wore the medals, stamped with images of Luther and Melancthon—the riots commenced on the third night in consequence of some irritation on the part of the protestants, against the Catholics the latter though few in number, being most in favor at court, as the reigning family are catholic—the former thought some insult was offered to their believed Luther, and undertook to revenge it, and the government was very prompt in ordering out the military—the great square before our door was filled with soldiery, and the crown was patrolled for several nights- there was a great deal of excitement and between twenty and thirty killed and wounded—the popular feeling was smothered, for the time, to break out more violently afterwards—but this explosion, took place after our departure—we arrived here the 4th of September and the children are all busily employed with their
lessons, trying to recover the time they have lost, in our numerous changes of place, they are all well, and I feel grateful in being able to say. That my dear husband is better, than he has been for years. Poor Bill has been quite an invalid with the rheumatism at one time we were very anxious about him, as it threatened to attack his breast he is now quite well in this respect and only suffers with it in his knee where I fear it will trouble him more or less all winter. His mother wrote him a word, Eliza had been married five weeks, without saying to whom and we may possibly remain in ignorance, until we hear from you. I hope she has made a respectable connection, and, one that will add to her happiness. I suppose it is too late to congratulate Hannah on her marriage, but we all beg she will accept our affectionate wishes for her happiness in her new state. I can easily conceive my dear sister, the contradictory feelings you describe, on parting with a beloved child, under any circumstances it must be a painful moment to a parent and can you think we could voluntarily add to it by bearing our child among the corruptions of Europe, where fidelity in married life is a jest! Let me answer your question by asking another, could you do so yourself? We were presented to Mrs. Willard at General Lafayette’s, and since that have seen her repeatedly—she told us she had seen Georgeann lately and Hannah since her marriage, and she thinks Sue likes the latter.– remember us all affectionally to Maru and her family—write soon my dear sister and believe me with love from us all, to you all—most sincerely and truly your attached,
Susan Augusta Fenimore Cooper