The Beehive: the official blog of the Massachusetts Historical Society

Lovers’ Tiff in Turkey

Sometimes you come across the completely unexpected when searching the MHS collections. Initially I hoped to highlight the food of the season, and began a search for an interesting menu from any date in the month of November. If turkey had been on any of the menus, that would be the subject of today’s post. Not finding a satisfactory menu  and determined to have some sort of turkey in this post -- be it fowl or country -- I started searching for descriptions of Turkey. With a subject search for “Istanbul (Turkey) – Description and travel” a collection finally caught my eye. 

What I found was a letter, written in 1830, containing a beautiful yet brief description of Constantinople in the Henry K. Loring papers. However, the depiction of mosques, minarets, and palaces was not the most intriguing excerpt from this letter. A lovers’ tiff revealed in the very same letter entirely captivated my attention!

Captain Loring’s passenger ship arrived in Constantinople (now Istanbul) on 27 November 1830. As a sailor abroad, Loring often wrote to his sweetheart Sarah Hichborn in Boston from his various destinations, including the Greek Islands, Italy, and Turkey. During this stop in Constantinople, he wrote to Hichborn on 18 December 1830 responding to a situation that she addressed in a prior letter, which is not among this collection of correspondence. She seemingly accused him of intentionally impressing ladies other than herself while he was last in Boston. The captain addressed the issue with such ostentation I am uncertain whether his sentiments are flirtation or vainglory:

Dear Sarah, as you observe, distance, does not seperate minds. May ours, never be seperated. But be always, united according to your good Wishes, I cannot recollect, were I took Tea, excepting it was at your house, I do not remember, any ladies, that I could possibly, have impressed them, with any Particular regards for me. I suffer it was on account, of my beauty, Gentlemanly appearance &c. I think you aught to have gratified me, by telling me who they were, Now by way of retaliation I shall not tell you, how near I come, loosing my heart, at Constantinople. The Turkish and Armenian ladies, are certainly very beautifull.

Ooh, trouble! I would advise the captain that retaliation is not always the best course of action in matters of the heart.

Dear readers, if you are worried about their relationship, let me reassure you. Captain Loring and Sarah Hichborn married on 21 March 1833.

permalink | Published: Saturday, 23 November, 2013, 1:00 AM


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