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tainments during the first two years of the war, except at the White House and at the residence of the Secretary of State. Beginning with the winter of 1863-64 Washington became gayer than ever before. The regular state occasions at the Seward house were the formal dinners to the members of the Cabinet, to the Diplo matic Corps, and to the Supreme Court.' Distinguished foreign visitors were sure to receive from the Secretary of State attentions that showed a happy combination of formality and cordiality. Prince Jerome Napoleon, the Prince de Joinville, the Comte de Paris, and the Duc de Chartres, the officers of the Russian fleet, the Queen of Hawaii, a commission from Japan, some special envoys from China, and other famous personages, were given formal dinners or receptions, or both. Most men worthy to be Secretary of State would have been worried or bored by such obligations; but Seward saw their sunny side, and found something enjoyable in them. Yet he was most happy and vivacious when he had about a dozen guests, sufficiently well acquainted and congenial to allow a general conversation. One Thursday in the summer of 1863 Archbishop Hughes called on him, and was invited to dinner on the next evening. His Grace suggested that the day would not be a good one for banqueting. The Secretary answered, "Never mind; I shall see that you will be provided for." Secretaries, generals, and others were present to meet the clerical guest, but there was not a particle of meat on the table. The Archbishop considered it the most delicate compliment he had ever received.
As a talker Seward had very uncommon and attractive qualities. Whether with one, a few, or many persons, he was persuasive, interesting, vivacious, or merry, according to his purpose. His talk was much oftener
1A contemporary account of one of these dinners says that there were seventeen courses and five kinds of wine.
scintillating and surprising than solemn or profound; for to him conversation was perhaps the greatest of his pleasures. The London Times correspondent described him as "a subtle, quick man, rejoicing in power, given to perorate and to oracular utterances, fond of badinage, bursting with the importance of state mysteries." Richard Henry Dana, Jr., after spending an evening alone with Seward, in April, 1864, wrote: "His conversation always interests me, although it is strange and not always dignified; still it is natural and peculiar." Seward's public utterances were studiously discreet; in private he frequently spoke with reckless freedom sometimes in earnest, but often-oftener than his hearers imagined—in playful extravagance. Charles A. Dana once described' a dinner given by the Secretary to Goldwin Smith, who did the cause of the Union great service by his articles and speeches in England. At this dinner Seward advanced and maintained, with a solemn face, the proposition that a republican form of government was a failure. Some guests, taking Seward seriously, attacked his position with great vigor, and the debate continued until about eleven o'clock. Those unacquainted with the Secretary's fondness for a paradox, or his love of an artificial encounter of this kind, were much surprised by the unrepublican opinions expressed by their host. Ex-Senator John B. Henderson, who has probably seen more than any other man of the best side of politico-social life in Washington during the
1 In conversation with the author, August 19, 1894.
2 Under date of December 7, 1894, Professor Smith wrote to the author: “Thirty years have now elapsed since I had the honor and pleasure of being Mr. Seward's guest. I do not recollect his introducing the proposition that republican government was a failure. If he did, it must have been for the purpose of starting a debate, or in the way of playful paradox, an exercise of wit to which he was given. He would sometimes give utterance to a playful paradox or a startling proposition with an air of seriousness which might lead his hearers to
past thirty-five years, said1 that he never knew any one that could surpass Seward in ability to entertain a whole company of ladies and gentlemen at dinner; that, although Seward often monopolized the talk, he held his monopoly artfully, not tyrannically or pompously, like Benton or Conkling. The preserved bits of Seward's table-talk' during six months near the end of his life, although not brilliant, indicate that he kept his mind occupied with cheerful, interesting, and philosophical thoughts. He had also a keen sense of humor, which was increased by his close and almost daily association with Lincoln. He told a story well, and joined heartily in the laughter that his narrative created. His wit was exceedingly bright at times, but his fondness for eccentric remarks was likely to misdirect it, and cause him to be entirely misunderstood, as has been noticed. Perhaps his best and most characteristic witticism was the reply to a lady who, noticing his silence during a discussion as to the probable purpose of a secret movement of troops, had asked: "Governor Seward, what do you think about it? Which way is the army going?" "Madam, if I did not know, I would tell you," he answered, with a smile.
Seward's rare social qualities were a distinct element in his success as Secretary. His ability to create and retain pleasant and even intimate relations with political and diplomatic opponents was of great value at many a critical moment. His good-humor and tact in all per
think that he was in earnest." [Professor Smith illustrates this point by recounting the Seward-Newcastle incident.] "In his social hours Seward spoke with great freedom on all subjects, and sometimes said what, had it been maliciously repeated, might have done harm. Fortunately for him, in those days the rule of social confidence still prevailed, and a man could not have betrayed the hospitable board without forfeiting his position as a man of honor."
1 In conversation with the author.
'3 Seward, 470-504.
sonal matters during his entire career were unfailing.' The true Seward was vividly described by Dicey:
"In our English phrase, Mr. Seward is good company. A good cigar, a good glass of wine, and a good story, even if it is tant soit peu risqué, are pleasures which he obviously enjoys keenly. Still, a glance at that spare, hard-knit frame, and that clear, bright eye, shows you that no pleasure, however keenly appreciated, has been indulged in to excess throughout his long, laborious career; and more than that, no one who has had the pleasure of seeing him amongst his own family can doubt about the kindliness of his disposition. It is equally impossible to talk much with him without perceiving that he is a man of remarkable ability; he has read much, especially of modern literature, travelled much, and seen much of the world of men, as well as of books." "
1 Charles A. Dana related to the author the following incident, which occurred some time after Seward retired from public life. Dana and Seward, in the accustomed room at the Astor House, were enjoying their reminiscences over a bottle of brandy when the card of Archbishop Hughes was brought up. Seward checked the conversation, ordered the servant to remove the brandy and place a pitcher of ice-water in its stead; then to his guest he said, “Dana, good-bye,” and to the servant, "Let his Grace enter."
21 Federal States, 230.
TRAVELS AND SUNSET, 1869-72.-SOME CONCLUSIONS
SEWARD resolved to employ in extensive travel the better part of the strength and time that were likely to be his after retirement, March 5, 1869. His friends were surprised, and politely hinted that he could not endure the fatigue of a long journey. Although physically a brokendown old man, who could not get on without a valet, he seemed to be as unwilling as ever to recognize that anything was impossible for him. Formerly, his trips had generally been undertaken to indulge a fancy or to satisfy a taste while escaping from the routine of politics or law. Now, he wished to observe natural phenomena, to study questions, to see places and nations that had long been of great interest to him. Of course Alaska attracted his attention. Then, too, the Pacific Railroad, an enterprise to the advancement of which he had given much time and thought, had just been completed. It passed through states and territories that he had never seen, although he was long their antislavery champion. To the south lay Mexico, barely recovered from the disorders wrought by European soldiers and the dreamy, unfortunate Maximilian. She had already invited Seward to pay her a visit as the guest of the nation, for she knew who had done most to save her both from murderous assailants and from friends that would have come as allies, but might have remained as conquerors. Beyond the Pacific were many peoples and civilizations