Sarah’s Journal2021-12-20T02:45:12+00:00



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May 13, 1853

May 13th

A fine, cool day, overcast. We are in latitude about sixteen or seventeen. Williams was right about our having the “Trade Wind”. It commenced the next day about noon – thus far it has been rather light. Until today the weather has been very warm. I have felt the heat very much. It has caused at all times a dull headache and made me feel nervous and restless. I cannot help a feeling of dread coming over me when I think of that hot voyage from San Francisco to China. I wish from all my heart that I was not so captious. Why cannot I be mild and gentle. If I would but stop to think, sure I am I should be for I do so much admire these qualities in others. They are very loveable but I fear I am sometimes harsh, rude and rough. I am too excitable, have too much action and impulse. I wish I could be quiet and calm. I have mentally resolved and resolved to try to be all these – but I really think I grow worse and worse. This is most discouraging and so in despair I write it all out on paper – hoping thereby to make some more lasting impression.

May 15, 1853

What is The Nitchie Service League?

May 15th

The Sabbath – a cool day and overcast but I have no Sabbath-like feeling or rest in my heart. This irritated pride makes me feel wretched and unhappy. My thoughts wander to home friends this morning, how pleasant it would be to see one of my sisters. When in New York they visited me frequently – but almost without exception other friends and acquaintances were either with them or would come in and so I could not enjoy their visits as I would like to have done. Both my visits home have been hurried and far too exciting for my enjoyment. I trust my next will be far different, else it will be anything but a pleasure. How much I shall enjoy a quiet home and the pleasant visiting of friends. I was particularly unfortunate about seeing my sister – two sisters Julia and Sophia several times came from a long distance to see me but those days I was surrounded by other friends, strangers to them, and so the visits ended in a most unsatisfactory manner – particularly with regard to my sweet sister Julia, she being much more deaf than I am cannot at all enjoy general conversation. She must sit close by and talk to but one person, otherwise it is little or no pleasure. It is about the same thing with regard to sister Lizzie. We are an unfortunate family as far as regard to the important sense of hearing – no less than five being so affected – and sister Margarette was deaf a long time before her death. Lovely, beautiful sister Margarette, it was a very sad trial to you, one so formed by nature to adorn society in every respect – a mind full of intellect and most highly cultivated and a form and face of no ordinary beauty. That face of thine was the most spiritual in its beauty of any I ever beheld and so many very many others thought so too. Though I knew thou wert happy, beloved sister, yet on my own account I used ever to mourn for thee – thou wert to me a great loss. Yet greatly as thou felt that sad trial I would give the world if I could but feel resigned as thou did. Sometimes I think a feeling of resignation is stealing over my rebellious heart, but thus far I have not found it to stand the test of trial. God grant that it may come. It is one of those trials that cannot be helped and must, to say the least, be endured. May I then not only feel resigned but may I also feel thankful to my heavenly father for doing what seemed to Him best. Oh what a delightful, what a truly happy feeling that must be when one can ever give thanks instead of tormenting themselves with present seeming evils and fancied ones to come. How very often I try to reason with myself on this subject. I know the good and evil of these states but I cannot feel I would fear and feel no evil but the very thoughts (and they will come) that my darling Willie may perhaps inherit this deafness that afflicts me. This is a sad picture of the human heart but a very true one and thus I fear it will feel till it is thoroughly changed. Will that time ever come? God in His great mercy grant that it may, for I feel myself utterly unable to help myself.

Our trade wind continues and we will probably make about two hundred miles. The latter part of a long voyage is the most disagreeable part. I suppose it is because we think much of the coming change and a feeling of restlessness takes the place of a former quiet.

Poor Colin Campbell has been quite unwell lately – from my heart I pity him. He looks very sad and for the last two or three days he has been troubled with a noise in his ears and deafness. Williams thinks it is merely owing to disordered stomach. I hope so. Some two or three years ago he tells me he was affected the same way.

May 19, 1853

Arabian Nights

May 19th

Cleaning seems to be quite the fashion at present. All things look beautifully clean on deck, having been freshly painted, even to the water casks. Yesterday and the day before the steward was regulating and cleaning his pantry. Today he has taken possession of the forward Cabin and is there performing the same kind of office. Until a few moments ago I was there writing for Williams. I could stand the steward scrubbing, but when it came to Mary’s ironing on the table, it was full time for me to retire. We have had fine weather for painting, the paint drying almost immediately.

Yesterday morning I spend in mending Willie’s toys and books and this proved no slight job. Our sailing for the last four days has not amounted to much, head winds, head currents, head sea. Four days ago we were eleven days ahead of last voyage but alas we have lost two days of that. The wind will take us west when our course is to go much more to the north than west. Our hopes and expectations were much raised, it is sad to have them thus disappointed. Today it is very mild and we have very little wind – so also was it yesterday. I am hoping from this some more propitious change. We have had a good many visitor birds for the last four days. They are a large dark brown bird and somewhat noisy. They seem very fond of floating on the water and we often have quite a number following us in this way. Their flight generally seems very low.

My birdie seems quite to enjoy this delightful change in the weather and is warbling stoutly this morning. I take the entire care of my bird – have done so for some time.

Williams has been reading the “Arabian Nights” for the last two or three days. He read two or three stories aloud to me and seems to find a re-perusal quite interesting. However, his cooler judgement is not a little shocked at the idea of placing them in children’s hands. I quite agree with him. In almost every story there is that which would make me shrink from reading or placing in either a son or daughter’s hands. I think I shall try the experiment of reading them myself to Willie when he is old enough and thus get the exceptional parts. I think I can manage to make it a treat for him to hear. As for myself, I have not read all these stories. When a child, my father, though he had the volumes, ever kept them locked up in his large lawyer’s writing desk. Never would allow me to read them. One volume I managed to borrow from a young school friend, the others I suppose she had not. That was the only one I read when a child. After my father’s death I happened one day when this desk was opened there lay the four little red volumes. I was eighteen then and supposing that no one would object, carried the volumes to my room. But I could not take pleasure or even interest in reading them. I suppose it was because they had been prohibited by a parent, dearly loved and now dead. I tried one or two and then gladly took them back to their long resting place in the desk, nor do I know whatever became of those what to me were once most mysterious volumes. Nor did I again ever touch the “Arabian Nights” till a few months before Willie was born. Being then at Portsmouth and having Frank and Horatia with me, I frequently read them a story. These volumes were Frank’s – new, bright red and full of illustrations. The charm was broken. They had not the forbidden effect of those very little dark red leather books. Even then I read on with little interest.

Seventy-two miles today, twenty-three to the North. I wish I could take more interest in writing my letters. All, and there are not a few, are written but two and these two ought certainly to be written and go with the rest from San Francisco. But it seems as if I could not possibly commence them. However, I must make a great effort, not today though.

Our little Willie has not been very well; his bowels somewhat disorderly. I think perhaps it is owing to his teeth, having four large ones to cut. Yesterday and today he seemed well.

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