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



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July 22, 2021

July 22nd

We are now not much more than 100 miles distant from Hongkong and if our present wind will but favor us we shall arrive there sometime tomorrow morning, but it is impossible to calculate on the winds here at present. This is Friday and last Sunday noon found us within less than an easy three days sail of our port. But our wind, which had been bringing us along for the last eight or ten days from 240 to 250 miles in a day, left us there suddenly, and we have, with the exception of eight hours, had to contend with a strong head wind and sea till last evening at six o’clock. And until the last hour or two (six o’clock this evening) we have continued to have a heavy head sea, making it almost impossible to do anything. I, in vain, tried to pack this morning. Had very soon to give it up but hope to do so tomorrow before getting in. It is disagreeable to leave it till afterwards on account of visitors. I shall be truly glad on all our accounts to live on shore again. If it be a week or two. We all need the change very much but most particularly glad will I be on Willie’s account. He seems tired of the monotony of sea life. He has never lived on board the ship more than five months. We hope to go immediately to Macao. Walking in that beautiful place, seeing and playing with children will indeed be a delightful change. He has suffered much with heat the last week or two and his little body is covered with the prickly heat.

About a week or ten days ago our poor little Willie had somewhat of a sad time as the evil in him was vying with the good. We had to punish him several times. One afternoon the poor little fellow was shut up in my room more than an hour before he could be in any manner subdued. I don’t know that I ever felt worse in my life.

Last week all my time had to be given to necessary sewing – which I had put off, constantly hoping that Williams’ ear would allow him to read every few days and then as he read, my sewing could be done. He has not been able, and we were rapidly approaching our Port so I had to go to work.

A week before last one of the Chinese passengers died. He had been ill in California and was not well when we left. He died rather suddenly. Williams only knew that he was ill about an hour before he died. I knew neither of his illness or death until the next day after he had been buried in the ocean many hours; Williams thinking there was no use in mentioning it.

My writing is much behind hand, have been able to write but very little this week, owing to having strained my side and back and afterwards taking cold in it. Had to lie on the settee two days and the most of a third.

July 24, 2021

Hong Kong

July 24th: Hongkong

Our favorable wind of day before yesterday soon left us and we had to contend with one directly ahead. Yesterday morning about twelve we took our pilot on board. Williams immediately dispatched the boat back with a little to be forwarded with all speed to Canton. After beating our own way up, we came to anchor at ten last evening. This coming into port is an exciting scene, was particularly so last night. I always feel glad and relieved (for I cannot help sharing my husband’s cares and anxiety) when it is well over, but last night, owing to our first officer’s carelessness, I fear for the superintending duty in casting anchor descended on him. Both anchors were foul. At the proper time, Williams gave orders to let go one of the anchors, of course, we expected to hear it immediately responded to but what seemed to me a little age elapsed. The order was loudly repeated, and then again with the addition that we should certainly run aground. Then it was lowered to my great relief. The order for lowering the other then was immediately given, the same delay ensued. The consequence was that we very nearly ran aground. As it was, Williams had to have a steamboat come early this morning and remove us from our position else the tide would swing us round on shore or rather aground. Last evening in order to guard against this, lines had to be passed from our vessel to one or two others stationed at no great distance, and then the gentleman, instead of feeling in the least sorry for what had happened, only braved it out and contradicted Williams again and again, up and down. Truly I wish we could get rid of him and supply ourselves with another officer for the homeward voyage. This one is getting to be rather too bad.

I went on deck last evening directly after tea, it was a beautiful sight, the sun just setting and the hills of China surrounded us on every side. The sunset was magnificent, by far the finest we have had this whole voyage. The colors varying and very brilliant and glowing, the clouds fantastic; some large and heavy, others of the lightest, most fleecy texture, and then when the moon rose to us, she rose beautifully over the high hills to the right, which are seen just before the ship enters the bay lying directly in front of the town.

Since our arrival here we learned that Mr. Nye is at Macao. He will not hear of our arrival from the letter dispatched yesterday morning and consequently our future movements will be somewhat retarded. I suppose we will go to Macao and very likely have Mr. Nye’s vacant house. That, I would like right well.

Last evening as usual we had members of Chinese boats surrounding our vessel. These, with the foreign vessels riding at anchor in the moonlit bay and with the many lights from the houses on shore, which looked at night as if they nestled directly under the dark high hills which rise so beautifully beyond, all joined to make a most pleasing and picturesque scene. Have had several visitors this morning – all strangers with the exception of Mr. Hunt. His familiar face looked really quite pleasant. Williams has been on shore and just returned, he seems tired, heated and unwilling to talk – would that he would make me more a share of his thoughts. 

August 1, 1853

A Sailor’s View
Clipper Ship Cards
Table Moving
Harry (Henry Sturgis) Drinker & Cecilia Beaux
Tanka Girls
Sedan Chairs
James Perkins Sturgis & His Gardens

August 1st: Macao

Tomorrow will be a week since we arrived at this place. We came directly to a house prepared for me and have been keeping house ever since and shall do so while here. I feel sad to think so long a time has passed without writing in thee my Journal but I have been too busy since being here, and while on shore at Hongkong the mosquitoes would neither allow me to read or write. I had to fight them all the time, but I must go back and continue my story.

On Sunday evening the 24th of July while our little party, with a visitor from shore, were sitting on deck enjoyed the cool, delightful sunset time, I turned Williams’ attention to the magnificent sunset, it was mild and singular. Williams’ answer was that it looked more fine than comfortable and appearances were strong for the typhoon. Just then Mr. Williams from Hongkong came on board; he immediately invited us to go on shore and remain at his house while at Hongkong – said we had better go immediately as there was every appearance of a storm and it would be most unpleasant in such weather to be shut down in the Cabin. In a moment Williams decided it was best to go and then followed for a moment, such a sense of hurry and haste as I never witnessed. Fortunately, almost everything was ready for a start. What was not, Mary, the nurse, afterwards went back and attended to. I threw nightdresses and brushes in the carpet bags, pointed out the trunks that were ready, and in a minute’s time from the first conclusion, we were hoisted over the ship and dancing about in the little eggshell of a boat on the water by the ship’s side. After Mary was safely down I looked to see my husband following but I had seen my last of him for that night. It was very rough and we were a long time reaching shore. We took the chairs on arriving and soon found ourselves in Mrs. Williams’ delightful parlor where we were most heartily welcomed by our hostess. Her acquaintance I had made some two years ago at Macao, she then being Miss Rowles. We spent a week at Hongkong, making a delightful visit – also living in the same house and belonging to the firm was Mr. Anthon of New York. I found him pleasant and intelligent. He has quite a talent for comic sketching and showed me his portfolio one evening. Many of the pieces are very amusing and he has a story to tell in connection with each.

Two evenings while there we tried the table moving but did not succeed. On reflection, I think the failure was owing to the tables both were stands and most probably top and stand were separate. There are a number just such in this house and in every case the top can be raised. I shall get Mrs. Williams who came with us to Macao to write home and make inquiries. The first evening we took a very small square one – Mr. and Mrs. Williams, Mr. Anthon and myself sitting round it. We tried it over an hour all to no purpose. The second evening we tried a similar stand, only much larger – a large party of eight or nine all young, or pretty young folks and two children. This trial continued most faithfully for more than an hour and proved a failure.

The morning after we came on shore my husband joined me and did not again return to the ship to remain. I made several new acquaintances while at Hongkong. Mrs. Holliday among the number. Mr. Howland knows her very well – they being acquaintances of many years, I cannot say that I was very pleased with her – her manners, and deportment towards me, were those of a perfect stranger, entirely indifferent of my acquaintance. I also met quite a number of my old Macao acquaintances – was welcomed in every instance with the greatest kindness and cordiality.

Williams, Willie and self spent a delightful day at Mrs. Drinkers, her little Harry and Willie are very nearly the same age not half a month’s difference. He was Willie’s chief and first little playfellow at Hongkong. Little Harry is a fine little fellow, and he and Willie had bright, happy and pleasant times together They met to walk and play nearly every day. They play more prettily together than he has done with any child here. I was sorry to have to part them, they seemed to love each other very much.

I was at Mr. Rowle’s (Mrs. Williams’ grandfather) several times. Last Sunday evening we took tea with them – met Mr. and Mrs. Holliday there.

While at Hongkong I gave Mrs. Williams nearly all my time – sitting in her room generally nearly all the morning. Willie after his nap would find his way there and was always welcomed. Mrs. Williams had a little black dog, Charlie. He and Willie became very good friends. Willie really enjoyed having a live dog to play with him. They would run together and Willie would feed him from his hand with the most perfect fearlessness.

Sunday afternoon Mrs. Williams and myself went to the English Church. The Bishop was away and a young man took his place. I could not judge of the sermon – as I heard just about nothing of it – indeed, my going to church now is of little comfort to me. Tis seldom if ever I can hear anything. Oh! This want of hearing, what a dreadful trial it is. I would willingly give every cent I own in this world could I but regain it. I feel as if I were a sort of cipher in society – not for want of ability to take my place, I have not that mistrust of my own powers but because of deafness, shut out and alone. Oh, my Willie, my own precious Willie, may you never be thus afflicted. As it is now, I cannot appear with any grace or ease – and worse than all, my husband cannot take that pride in me (if indeed he can take any), I once hoped a husband would. However, I ought to be thankful that it is no worse.

But to return to the church – the church itself is a fine large church, pleasant and cool. There were many of the British Officers present, and it looked strange to me seeing them come in with their long swords by their side which were ever taken off and stood by their side, or laid on the seat. Generally they were dressed, as is the custom here in summer, entirely in white. Some few had their red coats on. It really made one feel hot to look at them. After church, having seen but little of Hongkong, we ordered our coolies to take us a more roundabout way home. I was much delighted with that part of Hongkong in the neighborhood of the church. There are many pleasant looking dwelling houses, delightfully situated. I should like much to have seen more of the places, but the weather generally was not pleasant. There are some pleasant rides. I was in hopes, as they keep a carriage, that they would have invited us out to drive, but no mention was made of it.

On Thursday, July 28, we expected to leave for Macao and were up at five in the morning as the steamer expected to leave at dawn. It was raining hard and was also very windy, but Williams was constantly hoping that we would be able to leave and so was I, for all things were ready for us at Macao and I wanted to get settled, for our stay, at the longest, will not be very great. But we had to give it up at the last moment and wait till Monday morning when the next steamer would leave.

Monday morning came but it was raining and blowing. We all were most anxious to leave and this time we fairly got off. When we took our chairs the rain was lighter, and continued so till we took our seats in the boat that was to take us off to the steamer. Then it again commenced pouring and soon we had scarce a dry place to sit in. It was about the poorest tanka boat I ever was in and the bamboo cover leaked in several places, the rain meantime driving in behind with so much force that Williams’ umbrella hardly protected our backs. I had to sit with feet drawn up on my bench, chin resting on knee. Fortunately, we got Willie and Mary in a pretty dry corner. The rain continued when we left the boat, and we all got a pretty good drenching running up the steps of the steamboat. When there, we all went down to the Cabin. Not a dry spot was there on deck, the awning affording but little protection. But when Mr. and Mrs. Williams came on board they remained there – otherwise the lady would have been seasick. After remaining below about an hour, the rain being lighter, we all went on deck. After this I had to leave the deck once or twice on account of the rain. It was so rough many of the passengers were very sick and the sight of them made me feel sick and uncomfortable. Willie slept nearly all the last two hours on Mary’s lap on deck.

A little after one o’clock the miserable sail was over. Macao was before us – looking most familiar and pleasant. The rain had ceased some little time before and the sun was trying to peep out. As usual we were surrounded, as soon as the steamboat anchored by the tanka boats, the tanka girls making as much noise as ever, each recommending in their loudest tone the qualities of their own boat. In one of these boats we were soon seated and rowed to the beach. We found Mr. Nye and Mr. Perdie waiting to welcome us.

After a few words we were seated in our chairs and carried to the house, awaiting to receive me as its mistress for a time. Mr. Perdie, who walked by my side, introduced me to the house and parlor – all thing looked delightful. Soon Mr. Howland and Mr. Nye followed. Williams had but time to say a few words to the commodore, look around the pleasant rooms, and then bid us a hasty goodbye for he must go direct on with the steamboat to Canton. Mr. Nye also went. After they were gone and I had eaten some tiffin, we sent our many, many clothes to the wash. When that was all through, we were summoned to dinner.

When Mrs. and Miss Nye came in they made me a long and pleasant call. It was my first introduction to Miss Nye, with whom I was much pleased with further acquaintance confirming me in this. She seems very kind and good-hearted. In the afternoon Willie went with little Emmie Nye for a walk. I was too tired to go out but while sitting in the rocking chair thought that I would take a look over my possessions. And here I must give a particular description. You enter a gate from the street, walk through a covered and open court, ascend a long flight of steps and enter a hall. The first door that presents itself leads you into the parlor, an immense room with a high domed ceiling. Opposite to the two entrances from the hall are three very large arched windows opening to the floor. From these you step out on the piazza. From there your eyes rest upon trees, flowers and beautiful green grass. The garden is very large and it is indeed beautiful. Walks and steps carry you hither and thither up and down, for the garden has a very irregular surface. This beautiful garden, so full of trees and flowers, meets the view from every window of my house. The dining room, in nearly all respects like the parlor, adjoins it. The dining room has four windows; two front; two at the end, all overlooking the garden. My room adjoins the parlor on the opposite side of the dining room. It has a very large ceiling arched the same as the dining room; two windows overlooking the garden, two over the court. It is furnished most comfortably with everything I could desire. Mary’s, a good-sized room, adjoins mine. At the end of her room is a large door leading into a long hall lighted with two large windows, having deep old-fashioned window seats, in whichever stand one or two plates of fruit, small jars of jelly, a box of cake, etc. etc. In the second story is one very large, immense room having two windows on each side. This room is delightfully cool and airy. I sometimes take my writing and sit there, as the coolest spot. I call it my sky parlor and Willie’s playroom. However, he is not at all confined there, his playroom being the house and garden.

My household consists of first the commodore, the head servant. He is Mr. Nye’s, but they wish him to attend to all that is necessary in my house. Then we have two boys, two coolies and a cook. I forgot to mention that this house is built in such a manner that two families can live in it, yet never meet or see each other. Mrs. Sturgis, the owner of the house, keeps one part. I, however, have the largest and finest – having this beautiful garden all to myself, whereas she has to content herself with the view of the street.

Since being here I have enjoyed myself very much. Every day at half past five we go out to walk. Willie and Mary going with Emmie Nye and her nurse. They are soon joined by other children. Willie enjoys his walks very much. Twice I have walked with him – once to the beach to gather shells for his dear sister and Mother. He enjoys it very much, said he liked better to go with dear mama than with the little children. The second time I had had Mrs. Williams and her little children to spend the day with me. In the afternoon all went to Bishop’s Bay, a beautiful place, with a beach to walk on, and many shells. That afternoon Willie and the little boys delighted themselves with throwing stones in the water. Usually I join Mrs. Nye’s party for the afternoon walk – there is Mrs. and Miss Nye; Mrs. Munroe, Mrs. Nye’s sister; and Mr. Perdie, engaged to Miss Nye. It is a pleasant party, we always take our chairs and ride or walk as we choose.

Sunday, I went with them to church. We mistook the hour and did not get there until more than half an hour after the service had commenced. Our ride home from church was truly delightful, it being a little after six in the afternoon. This Macao is a lovely place, abounding in picturesque scenes – and we had one or two very beautiful ones, entirely new to me (as it is a new road) in this short ride, but I hope hereafter to give some pen sketches of this beautiful place in this. Sunday evening after seeing my Willie to bed I was going into Mrs. Nye’s when a letter from Canton was handed me. It announced much to my satisfaction and joy Williams’ coming. In two hours or less he was with me, and oh how happy I was to have him again by my side. Dear Williams, how sadly he is missed when away.

Monday we dined and took tea at Mrs. Nyes’. At the usual walking hour we all went our various ways. Mr. Nye offered his carriage to Williams and me and we gladly accepted. I took my chair as far as the Praia as the streets are too narrow for a carriage. We took quite a long and pleasant ride, met several parties on horseback and two or three other carriages. We passed some beautiful soiled looking spots – high banks or hills rising directly from the roads covered in a most picturesque manner by huge rocks and overhanging trees. Part of our ride was by the side of the beach – the air from the water was delightfully cool. And there wherever you look, be it over land or water, you see picturesque looking hills – many topped by old Chinese forts. When we reached home it was quite dark. Saw our little Willie to bed, and then went into Mrs. Nyes’ to tea. Spent pretty much all the evening looking over prints. Had some ice cream which tasted good and came home at half past ten.

Yesterday morning received a note from Mrs. Hunter asking Willie there to tea. It was one of her little girls’ birthday and they had a little party. Mary said Willie enjoyed himself very much; he certainly came home highly delighted. This was Willie’s first party. During the evening Mrs. Hunter gave him a little china basket, but he soon let it fall and it broke to pieces. She them gave him two figures, Chinese, which he is to call for this afternoon.

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