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



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March 4, 1853

The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon

March 4th

Made one hundred and fifty three miles today and at twelve were eighteen miles South of the Equator. A lovely day, not so warm as yesterday.

Read an hour and a half in Gibbon this morning. It is becoming much more interesting. This morning I have been reading more, particularly concerning the religious liberty allowed all their conquered nations by the Romans, so that there existed none of that intolerant religious feeling common in this day. Then instead of looking for all the differences that might exist, they only seemed to see the resemblances and concluded that though this manner of worship was various, yet it was the same deities that they all worshiped. Pity that there could not be more of such feeling in these days.

This morning after breakfast Willie sat by my side at the table playing most patiently with his “Noah’s Ark”. He would lay Noah and his family all down and hush them to sleep, then he would have them all standing up surrounded by the various animals, and then he would arrange them inside the rails of the ark and so pile them up till it was covered. Thus he sat quietly amusing himself a good part of the time I was reading.

Williams tells me that a Clipper Ship is in sight. We, of course, have gained on her. So I must say good morning to this and take a look at her – and then for “King Arthur” whom I hope will prove more interesting today. Otherwise I shall give it up for the present warm weather, concluding I am not in a fit state of mind to appreciate it and neither is Williams who has looked into it several times.

March 7, 1853

The Southern Sky
Fernando Neronha

March 7th

Two days have passed without my writing one word in my journal. Saturday, I was so much interested in “King Arthur” and Willie claimed so much of my attention, as also did other things, that I did not make any attempt, thinking that Sunday would give me plenty of time. But Sunday I have also allowed to pass. I have plenty of time but gave it to my reading. The reading was good and most interesting but I am now sorry that I so neglected this journal. It is miserable and poor, not what I would like to have it, and perhaps will do me no good, but I have commenced so let me have the virtue of perseverance, also of overcoming all spirit of procrastination, and write every day if it be only a few lines. I wish from my heart that this journal will have a good effect and help to cure me of many faults. Make me very thoughtful – not act, and speak as much on the impulse of the moment; thoughtful for others and unselfish; also aid me to improve my judgement and make me a better mother for my children and companion and helpmate for my own beloved husband, whom I fear thinks I am sadly wanting in many things. It is my earnest wish to improve, and be all that he could wish me to be, something that I could be even in some slight degree satisfied with; but this continuous sealife I do not think favorable for the developing of one’s character. However, let that be no excuse but let me endeavor to regulate – it wants it sadly – and improve my mind and judgment and to gain more independence of mind and character.

Yesterday, I read considerable in Mrs. Ware’s. I find it extremely interesting. She must indeed have been a very fine woman with much force of character, very energetic and very useful and with all very lovely and amiable, also one to have been sadly missed by family and friends, the object of her kindness and bounty. She was very pious, and one whose religion seemed to guide and influence her in all things. To read the life of such a woman humbles me to the dust and creates a longing to be far different from what I am. How much more useful even in my limited sphere at sea I might be, but I waste much time, accomplish nothing compared to what I might do. But I must think and arrange matters so as to be more systematic and I shall then accomplish more. I wish I could read and write faster than I do. I think that I am also a very slow reader, when I see what others do. If I like a passage much I read it over two or three times and often fix it in my mind so as never to forget it, but generally, though I read slowly, I doubt if I remember better than the generality of readers. I wish I could mend in this respect.

Last evening Williams and myself enjoyed quite a long walk of nearly two hours. Afterwards he read aloud to me for some time. Commenced the “Pastor’s Legacy” by Doct. Erskine Mason – read the “Memoir and first sermon”. We were both much interested. I am glad we have something of the kind to read on Sabbath evenings. In the morning Williams always reads the Episcopal service and some ten or a dozen chapters from the Bible.

We are having delightful weather – quite cool for such a near vicinity to the Equator. Our wind is good and favorable and we have every reason to be thankful for our so far pleasant and short passage. Saturday afternoon we passed the island of “Fernando Noronha” quite near enough to get an outline view, nothing more. We passed very close to this island on our first voyage and had a very fine view of it. Then I had all sorts of thoughts and feelings concerning it, it being the first foreign land I had seen but unhappily they are all forgotten.

I wish this fine sea air would have the same effect on poor Colin Campbell, that it has on the rest of us, but poor child he is far from well, and from his own account has been much worse since being at sea. I wish on his own account he was safe home with his mother. He feels miserable and I fear pretty homesick. I give him interesting books to read and he reads most of the time, but he reads so fast they will not last a great while.

Yesterday two hundred and twenty-seven miles; today one hundred and sixty-six.

This evening, after seeing my Willie to bed, took a delightful walk with Williams of nearly two hours. The evening was delightful, perhaps a little cool for thin Equator clothing. This, I suppose, was owing to our being so near soundings. The heavens were perfectly magnificent with not a cloud to be seen. Our Southern heavens are indeed beautiful and magnificent on a clear starlight night, but oh, the Southern ones far surpass; imagination can hardly conceive of anything so splendid as the heavens seen last evening. Most particularly the “Milky Way”, the Southern Cross, with its twin pointer of the first magnitude, our own beautiful Orion, which is in these latitudes, I think by far the most brilliant constellation in the heavens. My beautiful changing star and a thousand others. Oh! The heavens declare the glory of God and his goodness and love in permitting us to see it. Our conversation turned to these subjects, particularly the “spirit-land” and the occupations of its blest inhabitants, on which we, or rather I, speculated. Williams does not think as I do about the occupations of spirits, upon wondrous knowledge they would acquire of the many glorious worlds up to which we were looking and all things else which their Father had made. Also the workings of this providence in connection with themselves and this world. There it will be all spread out as a perfect and beautiful whole – but here how different and incomprehensible it often appears to us. Blessed are they who have that perfect trust and faith, even to feel that their Father doeth all things well. I wish my beloved husband thought as I do about the recognition of spirits and of the peculiar love they will continue to feel for those beloved on earth. The feelings of the blessed will surely be those of love for all but I believe that those who have dearly loved each other here, will on meeting there, have a different feeling for each other than that entertained for other spirits. They will be far more drawn to each other. Oh, I would not give up this belief for worlds. Would I meet my parents, my own beloved husband, my Willie as I would a strange spirit – never, never.

March 8, 1853

March 8th

153 miles – a lovely day, delightfully cool and pleasant.

All well except Colin. He complains much of his head, chest and side – also of feeling very weak. I am surprised he does not gain more strength. He certainly looks much better than he did and his appetite is quite good. Williams has said for some days that it was because he would not take exercise and I begin to believe so too. I have urged the necessity of his walking out ever since he has been able to go on deck, but all to no purpose. He wants to sit or lie still all the time and read some story book. I have been recommending Abbott’s histories to him, and give him those with other reading.

We have much less wind today for that I am sorry. I am so very desirous our ship should make a very short passage.

Williams to my joy has at last finished his newspapers and this morning commenced reading aloud. He has also read awhile this evening though not much as it is rather squally and he has to go on deck quite frequently. Our book “A Step from the New World to the Old” by Professor Tappan is in two volumes. I think and hope we shall like it.

Had our usual walk this evening. Our conversation after awhile turned upon a New York friend and his family where the want of proper management in some way or other is sadly seen. I fear her children will cause her much anxiety. My thoughts then led to Willie and his hereafter if he should be spared us and, as we walked on in silence, I could not but feel that the responsibility upon me was very, very great but I looked up to my husband and felt rejoiced that I had such a one as he to assist and strengthen me. It was a relief. May God in His mercy enable us to bring up this beloved child all right so that he shall be a blessing to all. My greatest desire for him is that he shall be a good and holy man. Heavenly Father, grant it. And now that Willie is of an age to receive first impressions to distinguish between right and wrong I must be very watchful, careful and constantly seek for wisdom from above. Willie already begins to say and do things for which I am sorry. Not that they in themselves are of much consequence only if not checked will surely lead to something more. I have thought much for the best way to do this. I have tried to show him it was not pretty to do so – that Papa and Mama did not like to have him do or say so. It has produced little effect but for the last day or two I have thought of a plan which I shall try. He is very fond of having me read and tell him stories. I will tell him stories introducing these very things and in such a way as to endeavor to produce a good effect. I must be very, very gentle, very patient and very firm and kind. Oh, that I may be enabled to do so.

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