May 22, 2014 - Sale 2351

Sale 2351 - Lot 1

Price Realized: $ 9,375
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 4,000 - $ 6,000
WOOING HIS 18-YEAR-OLD FUTURE WIFE (AMERICAN REVOLUTION.) BENEDICT ARNOLD. Autograph Letter Signed, "B Arnold," to his future wife ("Peggy"), expressing his affection for her, hoping that his feelings are mutual, and noting that he has written her father for approval of his advances. 4 pages, 4to, written on a folded sheet; horizontal fold through signature with minor loss, minor scattered foxing with some touching signature, separations at folds with one at center vertical fold nearly complete. Np, 25 September 1778

Additional Details

"Twenty times have I taken up My Pen to write to you, and as often has my Trembling hand refus'd to obey the Dictates of my Heart, A Heart which tho' Calm and Serene, amid'st the Clashing of Arms, and all the Din and horrors of Warr, trembles with Difidence and the fear of giving offence when it attempts to address you On a subject so important to Its happiness. Dear Madam your Charms have lighted up a Flame in my Bosom which can never be extinguish'd, Your Heavenly Image is too deeply impres'd ever to be Efac'd, . . . . Do you feel no Pitty in your Gentle Bosom for the Man who would die to make You happy . . . . Friendship and Esteem you Acknowlidge, Dear Peggy, Suffer that heavenly Bosom (which cannot know itself the Cause of Pain without a simpathetick pang) to Expand with a Sensation more soft, more Tender, than Friendship; A Union of Hearts is undoubtedly Necessary to happiness . . . .
". . . Pardon me Dear Madam for Disclosing a Passion I could no longer Confine in my Tortured Bosom . . . ."
On April 8, 1779, Margaret ("Peggy") Shippen and Arnold were married. Shortly after the marriage, Arnold utilized the Shippen family's connections to British headquarters in New York City to contact British General Henry Clinton and offer his service to the Crown.