Who Was Littell?

April 27th

The “Star of the Union” is in sight again this morning. This is the third day since we met. Since then she has been in sight again and again and this state of things will probably last till we can get something of a wind. As it is we are carried along at the rate of three knots an hour. I have been much interested the last two or three days watching the wind, particularly on Monday. Sometimes “The Star” would gain upon us and then lose and sometimes disappear. At one time she had quite a good wind when it was nearly calm with us and she came up within three miles. At one time while I was watching our progress through the water (which seemed to me to be at times full five knots) I was puzzled enough on looking at the sails to see their miserable look hanging like great rags or flapping backwards and forwards. I went with my difficulty to Williams; he explained it by saying that we were just beyond, or rather at the extreme edge, of a circle of wind. It would touch our ship and send us shooting into the calm. This continued for some time, interesting me much. It is pleasant to know that a little world of human beings is within a few miles of us – even when we can have no intercourse with them. One can hardly understand this till they have been weeks upon the broad, solitary ocean. Our days are lovely and our evenings perfectly magnificent. The sun sets a little before six, then we have a delicious long twilight, after awhile the stars begin to show themselves and soon the heavens are thickly studded with them. A more glorious, beautiful sight cannot be conceived than a clear, southern starlight evening – so many stars of the first magnitudes – the Milky Way is truly magnificent. In these latitudes the atmosphere is so very clear that we see many stars when they first arise. I love to look round the horizon and see stars scatter here and there just above the water brink. At present we have a moon which, last night made its appearance a little before eight. We had enjoyed the beautiful starlight and we were not ready to welcome the queen of night. A bright red appearance heralded her approach. We stopped to watch her as she arose; I always love to do so at sea, and I have never yet become so accustomed to the sight, but that it claims all my thought and attention and produces feelings I can hardly discount. It even elevates my thoughts to that Being who so beautifully and wonderfully regulates the whole universe of which our little universe is a grain of sand. Oh what overwhelming ideas of power and wisdom crowd upon the mind if we but let our mind think and dwell upon these subjects. I love also to watch the sun set but that does not produce thought and feelings at all akin to those produced by a moon – or sunrise. When the sunset is beautiful it produces glowing, happy feelings of delight and admiration; the other affects me with feeling akin to awe and solemnity.

When Williams came down to dinner he told me that our companion ship was but a mile distant. She again having a wind while we were becalmed. During dinner he was obliged to go on deck; a squall coming on. I ran up to see the ship while but a mile distant. I was in time to see the approach of the shower. It seemed to leave “The Star” and come to us bringing us a nice breeze and leaving her becalmed. Ever since then we have been gaining on her, or were up to last accounts. The afternoon, I believe, will be a squally one. It is again raining – may this change end in a good strong trade wind.

This morning I have been reading “Plutarch’s Lives” and Gibbon. Williams read an hour or two to me this morning. We are reading an Irish story from “Littell” – well and powerfully written, very interesting, so much so that I can hardly help taking up the book and finish for myself – but that would not be fair. Williams would not like it.

The children with Mary are having a very merry time, playing hide and seek. Our little Cabin affords a nice place, owing to the plenty of trunks and bags piled up there and the merry laugh, particularly of Mary (who laughs with a hearty good will that I like much to hear) has made me leave my writing to see Willie stowed away in some funny place.