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



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August 17, 1853

August 17th

Another warm bright day, but in my house so airy and large with windows on every side, I keep very comfortable. Willie and I are again alone; our best and dearest friend has gone from us and we missed him much at the breakfast table. My little darling is fast asleep but before his bath he and mama had a fine play running and hiding about our big rooms. Also he scribbled while sitting by my side two or three sheets full of horses, etc. He says he is going to write to dear Papa every day. Just received what seemed to be a letter for Williams. Understanding an answer was wanting, I opened it. It was an invitation to dinner from His Excellency, the Governor of Macao. An answer being requested and waited for, I then had to answer – only hope it was written in the right style. But now I must commence writing home letters.

August 18, 1853

Macao Walks
Bayard Taylor

August 18th

Tuesday, the morning after Williams left, commenced a letter to Mary – did diverse other things. Mrs. Fischer and daughter called. They are English people. The call did not amount to much. She told Williams that she intended to invite me to spend a day with her. I most sincerely hope she won’t.

In the afternoon joined Mrs. Nye and party. I soon left my chair and walked by Mrs. Nye’s side. The kind of chair she uses, and used by many other of the ladies, is something entirely new since I was at Macao two years ago. Generally, they are a large bamboo chair made for this purpose and entirely open – can only be used late in the afternoon when there is no sun. They are fastened as the other chairs to two long poles. I rode one afternoon in Mrs. Nye’s – found it a very delightful way of traveling. When out on the road some distance, overtook little Willie riding with one of Mrs. Hunter’s little girls. He wanted very much to go with mama, so I had him put in my chair much to the delight of the coolies who seem to have a particular affection for children, and thus I walked on, Mrs. Nye on one side, Willie on the other. We would round the hill towards the Point and just as we were taking the new road we met Mrs. Hunter in her chair – an open one – accompanied by Mr. Otis. We all left our chairs remaining in this lovely place some time. Willie playing with Pauline and Helen Munroe. The atmosphere was very clear as much so as the afternoon before when there with Williams. The moon high up in the heavens was shining beautifully. Jupiter was over our heads and Venus now the evening star was looking upon us most gloriously, most beautifully. It was a perfect evening and a fit place to be in to enjoy its glory. I hated to leave. Mr. Munroe came to me twice to make a move for home saying it was getting very late for the children. At last I walked towards the chair but not before Mrs. Hunter had engaged us all for the evening. The coolies raised the poles and carelessly sat the chair on Willie’s little foot. Dear little darling, it hurt him sadly, but I kissed it and rubbed it and soon it was well. However, I hurried the coolies on, leaving the rest of the party behind.

Venus was before us all the way home and Willie looked at it with delight. We meantime talking together all the time. The little darling sat most of the time with his arm tight round my neck and every little while would look up in my face and say “my own dear, dear mama”. My blessed one – I could but shower kisses on him.

A few moments after I returned, Commodore Perry and Captain Adams were announced. They made me a very pleasant call. The Commodore takes possession of his house on Friday – tomorrow morning. He will then leave his band from the Susquehanna here. Their music will be truly delightful these moonlight nights. We spoke of Bayard Taylor, of his intention of returning with us. The Commodore spoke highly of him as a pleasant intelligent companion. Moreover, he told us that Mr. Taylor promised before he consented to take him, not to write anything concerning his visit to the Japan Empire – there being a gentleman connected with the squadron on whom develops all this business and even his writings have all to be inspected by the Commodore.

After they took their leave, I dressed for Mrs. Hunter’s, where I went with Mrs. Nye. Found Mr. Otis there who told me that I looked extremely like his sweetheart, a Miss Parker of Boston, and added to our amusement by saying that she was a very beautiful young lady. After tea, Mr. and Mrs. Munroe joined us and the evening passed away most pleasantly in conversation and music. Mrs. Munroe playing – her husband and Mr. Otis joining her in singing.

Yesterday morning wrote awhile then went out and made two calls, both ladies out – was glad to hurry back – the weather being intensely warm. Too warm to continue writing, so read in MacFarlane’s “Japan”. In the afternoon concluded to write instead of walking. Had just excused myself by note to Mrs. Nye when Mrs. Williams walked in. She wanted me to walk with her. I told her I was not going to walk and inwardly groaned over my poor letters. Before leaving, she made me promise to spend the evening with her.

I then had my writing table placed on the cool piazza and commenced a letter to Helen. I wrote a page when Bayard Taylor’s card was presented. I was delighted with the idea of seeing him. I invited him out on the piazza and there we took our seats. He made me a most pleasant call and I think he enjoyed himself for his call extended to nearly two hours. We talked of his travels of the last two years which have been very extensive, of Macao. And I told him of places he certainly must see here, and we talked for a long time concerning Japan, its people and his visit there. He gave me a most interesting sketch of his visit there with a promise to fill it up if he returns with us in the “Sea Serpent”. I hope he will as I like him very much. He told me of a castle that he and his party discovered. It was in a ruinous state, far away on a high hill densely surrounded by forest. Its existence was even unknown to the Japanese. Also he made up one with the party who dined with the governor of Lew Chew.

After he left I went immediately to Mrs. Williams. After tea we sat out on the terrace overlooking the Praia and Bay. It was a glorious night, the moon shining most beautifully on the water and sand of the beach. It was delightfully cool and the surf as it washed up below sounded most refreshingly. Here we sat and talked till nearly half past ten. I could have sat an hour longer so much did I enjoy it all but it was time to go. I longed for Williams as I returned along the moonlit Praia and was sure if he were with me we would take a walk round our favorite hill. While sitting with Mrs. Williams on the terrace, our attention was many times attracted to the large parties of Portuguese passing below – men, women and children. They really seemed to enjoy the glorious night. Indeed their parties generally consisting of about twenty, were the only passersby.

This morning directly after breakfast I wrote Williams, then commenced my Journal and have written thus far amid many interruptions. Have had three calls; Madame Loureiro, Manuel Pereira, and the Rev. Mr. Happer of Canton. Madame Loureiro was very pleasant – she and her husband have known Williams a long time. She is a native Portuguese of Macao, her husband is from Portugal. She told me that she had eleven children living – had lost five – she does not look more than forty-five. One of her daughters is engaged to the governor of this place. My Journal is finished up, now come my letters, which I wish from my heart were all written.

August 20, 1853

August 20th

After I had finished writing in this on the 18th, I received a note from Mrs. Spooner inviting Willie there to tea which I accepted. In the afternoon Mr. Munroe called and as the ladies in there were variously engaged, we started alone for the afternoon ride and walk. I merely rode to the Praia then left my chair. We walked out to the Padre’s Garden, entered and took a short stroll there. It looked very different from what it did when I was there before, two years ago. Now parts of it look ruinous and little or no attention is paid to the plants. It is for sale, the poor Padre having spent all that he was worth and indeed much more upon it.

On our return we talked of Chinese burying customs. I mean burial of their dead, their coffins, etc. Mr. Munroe mentioned that at Shanghai the principal stores were coffin stores. These are made for the rich, very elegant and of a very hard and durable wood. The top always round and ornamented. With the rich it is very difficult to select a place for their dead and their bodies often remain in consequence weeks and months in their houses. He also mentioned that they did not dig graves for the dead but placed the coffins on the ground, making a mound over them with the earth. With the poorer classes the coffins are merely placed on the ground not even having earth thrown over them. Quantities of quick lime are always thrown over the bodies thus preventing the ill effects that would otherwise arise. The weather soon destroys those that are left thus exposed.

Just as we reached the corner by Mr. Spooner’s where we turn up from the Praia – Mrs. Spooner and Mrs. Nye drove up. The little party of children above stairs were making a prodigious noise, and, as Mrs. Spooner invited us, we all walked up and a happy little company presented themselves to our eyes. Willie enjoyed himself with the rest but the moment the little darling saw his own dear mama, everything was left to come to her. Nor could the oft-repeated invitations of his little friends induce him to leave my side or hand which he kept tight within his own precious one. That evening I spent alone writing. It was nearly nine when Willie returned. He was highly delighted with his evening.

Yesterday morning I wrote Williams as usual, then read awhile in MacFarlane’s. Went into Mrs. Nye’s a little after twelve. Found Mrs. Munroe just coming to spend the morning with me. So after staying a few moments with the other ladies, we came in. She spent two hours with me. The time passing away very pleasantly. Mrs. Munroe gave me a long interesting account of her life and experience at the West – she having spent the first year and a half of her married life in Ohio.

In the afternoon I joined the Nyes in their walk. We walked to the point. There we sat for some time trying to court some cool breeze but in vain. It was as quiet as if a “typhoon” was in reserve for us. We saw the moon rise. It looked very red and very large. We amused ourselves by comparing its size with some known object with us. The difference of opinion among he party was really amusing. Mr. Munroe and I were the only ones that could at all agree. The vision of the others being most contracted. On our return we had some of the most vivid heat lightning I ever saw; it was almost blinding. The evening I spent alone.

Yesterday received a short hurried note from Williams, my only one since he left. In it he mentioned the death of Mr. Turnbull – poor man, how very sad thus to die – far from friends and home. Williams saw him the day before but mentioned no particulars.

Last night was one of Willie’s wakeful ones. He woke up when I went to bed at half past ten and never closed his eyes till after five this morning and then slept for only three hours. Dear child I tried again and again through the night to sing or hush him to sleep, but ended in every case by putting myself in that state. Occasionally he would wake me by laying his little face on mine or laying his little arm on me and then I would again try to compose him to sleep. Sometimes he would let me sleep two hours and then I would awake and find him talking to himself as good as good could be. I tried to get him to tell me what he was thinking about for it was very evident that his little mind was on the stretch, but he would only say I don’t know. He is now fast asleep, has been for the last two hours and I shall not awaken him but let him have his sleep out. Immediately after breakfast I wrote Williams, read awhile and have written up my Journal.

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