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



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November 24, 1853

Bayard Taylor’s Description of the Sailing Conditions
The Middle Kingdom by S. Wells Williams

November 24th

Today at 12 o’clock found us within a few miles of the Equator. I trust with all my heart that we shall have no calms. I do so long to reach home. How very, very much I long to see our children and Molly dear.

I spend much of my time in reading; a part in sewing, etc. This morning finished the first volume of Mr. Williams’ book on China – six hundred closely printed pages. The latter part of this volume has a number of translated extracts from the Chinese literature. I have found them very interesting. There are some from the writings of Confucius, also of his disciple Mencius. Mr. Williams says Mencius flourished about eighty years after the death of his master and although in estimating his character it must not be forgotten that he had the advantages of his example, still in most respects he displayed an originality of thought, inflexibility of purpose and extensive view superior to Confucius and must be regarded as one of the greatest men Asiatic nations have ever produced. Mencius was born 400 B.C. in the city Tsan, now in the province of Shantung.

November 27, 1853

November 27th

Thus far a rainy day. Until a few minutes ago we have been going ten knots, now the wind is rather lighter, but we hope we have got the N.E. trade. On the evening of the 24th we again crossed the equator and I should not care if it were for the last time. In future traveling, north of the equator will quite suffice. We were all happy to cross it.

While I write, and indeed for the last hour or more, Willie sits on the settee by my side reading book after book from beginning to end. He reads thus by heart some three dozen books. All of them have a number of pages. His memory is uncommonly good. It is most amusing to hear him read. He enters most heartily into the spirit of the book and reads with much unction. In reading or repeating his hymns or books, his emphasis is excellent and he reads and recites more understandingly than many men and women. He ever gives me the idea that he fully understands all he recites.

Lately Willie has taken a great notion to play “store” and we play it about every day. First, his playthings, of which he has the greatest variety, are all nicely arranged in his playroom. He is storekeeper and I buyer. He always rises and makes a bow when I enter the shop, shows me his goods, advising me as to what little boys like, and as I take my departure, always invites me to return another day. He amuses me much when he offers me broken toys, telling me how much better and prettier they are in that state. Also, he frequently warns me not to let my little boy suck the paint off a toy, as it will poison him. In days gone by, he has thus been warned. He remembers and says it all of his own accord. This great desire is to be a big boy, and the first thing when he awakes in the morning is to have me take hold of his hands as he stands up in the berth to see how much he has grown since the day before. He is delighted as he finds that his head nearly touches the large beams. Dear lovely child, how precious he is.

Dreamed that we were at Valparaiso last night. I inquired for John Cobb, he not being there, and was told that he was dead. I woke up in great affliction and was glad to find it but a dream. Also dreamed of meeting a sister of some lady to whom he was engaged.

December 16, 1853

Bayard Taylor’s Description of the Sailing Conditions
The Middle Kingdom by S. Wells Williams
Journal of a Residence of Two Years and a Half in Great Britain by Jehangir Nowrojee and Hirjeebhoy Merwanjee
An Historical and Geographical Description of Formosa by George Psalmanazar

December 16th

Six days ago we had strong hopes of being in New York in two days, but alas our wind suddenly changed and was directly ahead, and here we are, going this way and that way; most of the time a heavy head sea. Yesterday we were but sixty miles nearer New York than we were six days ago. This is a sad trial of patience to us all. However, we try to submit with as good a grace as possible. With the exception of a day or two the weather has been truly delightful; cool enough to make us all feel well and enjoy a good run on deck, which Willie and I literally take for about an hour, morning and afternoon. The windows are all kept open and the skylights half off.

Lately have spend almost all my time sewing, making, with Mary’s assistance, clothes for Willie, altering, fixing, etc. Writing some for Williams in two of his “journals”. Have finished the “Middle Kingdom”. Found it a very interesting book, full of the information on China that I wanted.

Read a book lent to me by Mr. Taylor. It was written and given to him by a Parsee gentleman of Bombay. It is an account of that gentleman’s visit and travels in England. Indeed it is written by two Parsees. They are ship builders in Bombay. By desire of friends they wrote the book in English and published it before leaving England. The book is particularly intended for their countrymen in India for whom they translated it. The book is written very wide and has much information in it. The spirit of it pleased me much. While many of their remarks so full of childlike simplicity amused me much. They visited England for some three years in order to perfect themselves in their business. Mr. Taylor speaks of them as fine intelligent men.

I am now reading another book lent to me by Mr. Taylor. It is an old curious affair published in England in the year 1703. The book is written by an inhabitant of the Island of Formosa, he having been enticed away from his father’s house by a disguised French Jesuit priest who was his tutor. The idea of the tutor was to take him home with him and by argument or force, make a convert of him. He failed, and they being about to resort to the offices of the inquisition, he made his escape. After many wanderings and trials by many sects to convert him, he at last meets with a minister of the Church of England, who is the means of his conversation of which he gives a full account. The rest of the book contains an account of the history of the inhabitants etc. of the Isle of Formosa. As yet I have not finished it.

Our little Willie is very well, takes great delight and amusement impersonating different animals. Indeed, he is half the time in imagination a horse or some other animal. Lately he has talked a great deal of New York and of seeing dear brother and sister there, and dear, dear aunt Mamie. He says he will run up to them and put his arms round them and kiss them dearly. He is, and has been, a very good boy.

This afternoon there were twelve sails in sight from the mast, seven at one time from the deck. One a small coast vessel sent a boat off to make us a begging visit. The same boat visited another of the vessels – a whaler direct from the Sandwich Islands. They having nothing to spare induced them to call upon us. From the movements of this little vessel all thought she had just left the States and perhaps was coming to offer us some aid if in need of it; their hopes for news were consequently much raised. An utter disappointment was the consequence.

Towards night our wind became more favorable.

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