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



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June 8, 1853

June 8th

This morning the steamer was to have left early and carry letters, likewise Colin, on towards home but some accident happening to her steam pipes she will not leave till four this afternoon. So our friends will be kept waiting another day for our precious letters. If we had been but two hours earlier in arriving here they would now have been seven or eight days on their way.

Colin has come back to spend the day with us. Mrs. Gillespie spent part of the morning with us. We spent half an hour or more together very pleasantly when we were joined by Williams, Mr. Gillespie and Mr. Morgan. The subject of Unitarianism was introduced and discussed till they left. Mrs. Gillespie’s ideas were pretty much the same as my own till I became better acquainted with Unitarians and their doctrine. There are the good, pious excellent people among them and there are the worldly, same as in any church. The Unitarians have no creed, and they glory in it. But it has this difficulty, many calling themselves Unitarians, think very differently from each other and differ on points that are thought by all other Christians and by many among themselves I believe, to be most essential. This gives a false impression. The world is too apt to judge them in mass and so condemn.

Had a number of calls through the day. Mrs. Tiffingwill called just after tea. Her call was far too short. It brought dear friends to my remembrances to see her, but she had to hasten back to a sick husband. Mr. Haskell, Mrs. Sanford and Mr. Morgan spent the evening with us and a very pleasant evening it was.

June 10, 1853


June 10th

Spent the day yesterday with Mrs. Gillespie. Left the ship at half-past twelve and rode there. This extravagance was on account of a sore toe. I took Willie and Mary with me. Mrs. Gillespie has no children and contrary to my expectations Willie enjoyed himself very much. I took with me two of Willie’s books, one of a new one that he had never seen. These amused him for a long time and before he left there yesterday afternoon, the child could finish, after I had read the first few words, nearly every line – the book having some thirty verses. Since being here Willie has been very friendly with strangers. Mrs. Gillespie and he have become very good friends and yesterday afternoon they had a regular frolic together. Willie sang one or two songs to her great amusement. He learns the words fast enough, but I can’t say much for his tunes. Mrs. Gillespie had one of the crying doll babies. This she produced to the great amusement of Willie. We had a little dinner party, five gentlemen and us two ladies. Willie and Mary returned to the ship about half-past five. I remained to spend the evening. We had quite a party of gentlemen, our dinner friends also Mr. Morgan and Mr. Sanford. The evening passed away very pleasantly; we left at ten. Altogether it was a very pleasant day. Mrs. Gillespie is lively and pleasant.

Mr. Morgan has just called in. He tells me that another duel has been fought this morning and that one of the parties was shot through the heart. This dueling is carried to a dreadful extent here, no punishment whatever is suffered by the honorable murderer. He is allowed to go free like any other member of the community. Such a state of things is indeed dreadful. A singular satisfaction – must it afford two men to stand up and be shot at? What thinks that poor immortal soul thus carried away, uncalled, into the presence of his Maker? It is a sad, sad thought. I fear it will be a long time before this dreadful practice is done away with here.

I have just had a call from Mr. Adams. He thinks our Government had little or no honor in fulfilling its contracts and was highly indignant against it. The last Administration gave him the contract for building the new Customs House for San Francisco. It was going on fairly. This spring our new Administration coming in, all things connected with the building are at a standstill. No money to be had and debts constantly contracting, all this because Mr. Adams happens to belong to the opposite party or rather received his contract from it. He seems perfectly disgusted and is now trying to sell out. I trust he will not lose from this operation. What a pity it is that this party feeling is carried to such an extent by our Government. It makes it truly contemptible abroad. Every four years when a new president enters on his Administration, then, almost without exception, our foreign and domestic officers are recalled and others put in their places. This is miserable, particularly in our foreign relations. Just as a man has become well acquainted with, and understands the people with whom he is placed, and they in turn know, respect and feel confidence in him, then he has to leave them and when this happens, as it does very, very often where the officer is most worthy of his situation, foreigners look on in amazement. They cannot understand it and in consequence feel contempt for a Government who acts so much against its own interest. When will a better state of things reign amongst us?

Mr. Morgan sent me another pile of books this morning to read, and take home to his wife. There were seven volumes and instructive reading – no trash. Good books are a treasure everywhere – most particularly at sea. One can never be at a loss for spending time. I think we have a very good library with us – two pretty large bookcases filled to overflowing.

I have been rather fearful of this, but they say we cannot possibly leave tomorrow and Williams thinks it absolutely necessary to leave the first moment we can do so. I feel very, very sorry. I do not approve of this breaking of the Sabbath day. I trust no evil will come from it.

We shall carry 150 Chinese over to China with us. This will pay every expense of the ship to China; they are all put down between decks. This is the way the ships all carry them over. How they exist there during the hot voyage I know not.

I have been playing nurse a good part of the day. Mary having gone in search of some friends. Fortunately she found them and came home in very good spirits. I meanwhile taking charge of my darling Willie.

Mr. Morgan gave Willie this morning a beautiful colored engraving called “An American Farm Scene”. Willie is perfectly delighted with it. There are plenty of animals and that part pleases him most particularly. As usual, he wanted me to tell him the story so I make out stories to him most interesting, conveying every part of this picture. He would listen by the hour if I would let him. When he first saw this picture, which is quite large and was laid out on the table, he sat on his chair for more than an hour looking at it and talking about it. He has quite a fashion of talking to his pictures, also of chatting away to himself while he draws or rather scribbles away his old men, horses, etc. on paper. I have pasted this picture on some white cloth – this will make it very durable and Willie can keep it as long as he likes.

June 11, 1853

A Key to Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe

June 11th

Another duel was fought this morning, one of the opponents badly wounded. Mr. Morgan tells me that another one is to be fought tomorrow. This is indeed dreadful.

I did hope to go on shore for the last time today, but Williams and Mr. Morgan have been so very busy that I did not even hint a wish to them but hoped all day that Mr. Sanford would make his appearance. I certainly should have invited him to go to the exhibition room with me. I quite wanted to see “Samson and Delilah” again, but he did not come till evening and so I remained on board all day. I wrote Horatia and part of a letter to Mary in the morning. Scarce anyone was in and the morning was rather dull. I read considerable in “Key to Uncle Tom’s Cabin”, without a doubt all the statements are true but is it wise at this time for the authors to compile and send forth to the world such a statement? Will it not do away with, in great part certainly for the present, the good effects produced upon the Southern mind by her beautiful and deeply affecting tale of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”. It will occasion fear, a feeling of bitterness and tend to harden again the feelings so much softened by her former, wise, temperate and beautiful story – better to have left that alone to have worked its powerful and effective way. It may be the means of good, but it does not seem to me wise. I have a fear that her immense success has somewhat turned her head, and this trip to England will completely turn it. She will return a rabid abolitionist. It will be a pity, surely.

For awhile this evening our Cabin was full of company. Mr. Morgan, Sanford, Minturn and Hathaway spent the evening with us. Mr. Morgan and Mr. Sanford brought their China commissions, also their bundles of money – the first $500 and the other over $300. Truly all our commissions will keep us pretty busy. I enjoyed the evening very much. I like Mr. Minturn very much. He is very gentlemanly and pleasant.

Our Chinese passengers have been very busy all day getting their traps on board as this evening they take possession of their new quarters. I trust, we shall have no cause to regret taking them. Their passage money together with our freight will amount to $6,000. Hitherto our voyages from here to China have brought us nothing but been quite expensive owing to the large wages demanded by sailors here. The money paid for freight to San Francisco amounted to $52,500 this with the $6,000 is doing pretty well for five or five and one-half months. I trust from my heart that we shall be very successful in China and that this will be our last voyage around the world.

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