[AUTOGRAPH LETTER, SIGNED, FROM BENEDICT ARNOLD TO MRS. HENRY KNOX]
by Arnold, Benedict
Watertown, 1777. p. plus integral address leaf. Folio. Small loss in margin from wax seal, repaired. Minor soiling. Silked. Very good. In a blue half morocco and cloth clamshell case, spine gilt. An anxious letter written by a smitten Benedict Arnold to Boston society matron Lucy Flucker Knox, enclosing a letter for delivery to young Miss Betsy De Blois. The love-struck hero of Fort Ticonderoga writes: "Dear Madam, I have taken the liberty of incloseing a letter for the heavenly Miss Deblois, which by the favour of your delivering, with the trunk of gowns &c., which Mrs. Colburn promis'd me to send to your house, I hope she will make no objections against receiving them. I make no doubt you will soon have the pleasure of seeing the charming Mrs. Emery, and have it in your power to give me some favourable intelligence. I shall remain under the most anxious suspense until I have the favour of a line from you, who (if I may judge) will from your own experience, conceive the fond anxiety, the glowing hopes, and chilling fears, that, alternately possess [me]." In February 1777, in Mrs. Knox's drawing room, Arnold was introduced to Boston society and - more importantly - to the "beautiful...straight, tall, elegant" Tory belle, Elizabeth (Betsy) De Blois. A widower for a little over a year, Arnold immediately fell headlong in love with the sixteen-year-old Betsy - twenty years his junior - and asked Mrs. Knox to present his case. Delighted with her role as matchmaker, Lucy Knox dutifully delivered Arnold's ardent letters, along with a trunk of gowns and other lavish gifts, designed to show both his affection and financial solidity. He hoped that Betsy would accept these gifts as well as his desire to court her. Possibly owing to the vast difference in age, the "heavenly Miss Deblois" rebuffed Arnold's several advances, finally refusing to answer his dramatic and passionate love letters. Betsy had many subsequent suitors, but in the end, never married. Having failed to win the hand of Miss De Blois, Arnold began courting the lovely and vivacious Margaret (Peggy) Shippen in the summer of 1778, to whom he wrote equally ardent letters - one of which he lifted practically verbatim from a letter he had sent to Betsy De Blois. The two were wed in April 1779. (Inventory #: WRCAM42359)
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