Elegancies, Comforts and Pleasures

In 1807, New York attorney John Treat Irving was waiting for his case to be called in court, and used the time to write a letter to his brother-in-law, John S. Furman of Skaneateles. Furman had come to the village in 1806, and was practicing law. Alexander Beebe, mentioned in the letter below, was Furman’s law partner. As for the wit evident in the letter, perhaps it is a family trait; John Treat Irving was the brother of author Washington Irving, who he refers to elsewhere in the letter as “Wash.” But on to his description of Skaneateles:

“Alexander arrived a few days since, and has given us most flattering accounts of your Land of Canaan, which like that of old appears from his description to flow with milk and honey. He has also made honorable mention of the eleven [law] suits in your register, detailed to us a particular history of the Booths, with whom you are domesticated, not omitting sundry anecdotes of the Vredenburgs, closing with an account of the large house which the head of the family has lately erected. So that you see we know the whole annals of the village. I understand that you are making great progress in your legal pursuits, having been very near making a speech on some celebrated occasion, and at all times evincing great intrepidity provided you are allowed to face the enemy with green goggles…

“I expect your father will return with Alexander. He has heard so much of your beautiful lake, and Swartwout and Beebe have expiated so handsomely on the beauty of its borders, the clearness of its waters, and the richness and abundance of its fish, that he feels quite curious to behold a spot that concentrates so many elegancies, comforts and pleasures.”


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