Last Journal Entry…December 20th!
March 9, 1853
153 miles, slow and sure.
I don’t know what is the matter with Willie; he is so cross and fretful. I think most probably it is his teeth. He is not sick however and I know he should not be allowed thus to fret, but how to prevent it is the thing. The only trouble I ever have with Willie is this occasional fretting. I have had to punish him two or three times for it when I was as sure as I could be that he was perfectly well but at other times I try to shame him, laugh him or amuse him out of it. I am often very successful, but not today. I must try to be patient; it is seldom that I am troubled in this way.
Yesterday I came very near losing my beautiful little birdie. Through the carelessness of someone, his door was left unfastened and birdie made his escape to the deck, but fortunately Williams caught him. His music would indeed have been a loss. I love to stand by his cage and pick the meat from his seed and let him take it from my finger or lip. He does it as daintily and prettily as possible.
This morning I called Noah to say his lessons. He hesitated. I asked him if he did not know them and his answer was that he did not wish to learn anymore. I told him, very well, that of course I did not wish to force him. He is naturally very indolent but he has shown much more of it since last leaving New Jersey. He has learned his lesson or not as it suited him – always trying to excuse himself in some way. This has made me ask him once or twice lately if he did not wish to study. His answer has ever been, “oh yes”. It has provoked Williams and lately he has much wished me to give it up but when I once undertake a thing I cannot bear to give it up of myself. But now this is done, never to be resumed.
March 11, 1853
Gave letters all my writing time yesterday. I commenced a letter to Sophie and continued Horatia’s.
It has rained a great deal today and the sea part of the time pretty high. Rainy weather at sea is most disagreeable, particularly in warm weather.
Read a long sermon this morning by Dr. T. Parker of Boston on the death of Webster. The latter part was perfectly outrageous. It seemed to me to have been written and delivered for the purpose of gratifying his own malicious and spiteful feelings. I wonder that he could have found an audience to have heard him patiently. In some place he expressed the highest admiration and love for the man. I suppose for a cloak to hide as he thinks, his own bitter, unchristian feelings; this to dwell upon and set forth to the world every fault private or public that has ever been charged to him and at such a time shows him to be, under his flimsy mask, a bitter, mean, contemptible and cowardly foe. Such a sermon cannot injure the object – only the writer of it.
Williams read considerably to me in Professor Tappan’s book this morning. I meanwhile sewing. We like the book very much. There is so much good sense and just appreciation of things in it. It shows a healthy vigorous mind. It is his first visit to Europe and the first part of the book made me think frequently of a happy and joyous boy let loose from school; so happy joyous and pleased does he seem. The conversation with an Englishman on the vexing subject of slavery, I think, is very good, clear and just. Also the chapter on Oxford, the latter part particularly – subject education – but the whole as far as we read is good.
My Gibbon progress: read about twenty pages or more, so that with Willie, sewing, writing and other reading, I could not afford it more. I wish I could accomplish more. I seem to be about something or other pretty much all the time but on the whole I accomplish precious little. I wish I could find out the secret some people possess of accomplishing a great deal and yet have plenty of time. I know this is a great deal in being systematic and I try to be so as much as possible but one can’t be very much so when there is a darling of a child that loves his Mama dearly and wants to be with her and have pictures shown him and stories read and a thousand other things done for him. But here comes Williams and we spend our evenings together.
The rain is pouring down in torrents. I have just been up in the house. It looks dark, and dismal enough out except when the lightning flashes. Then it is so brilliant the eyes shut involuntarily. I fear Williams will get very wet – notwithstanding his rain clothes. I hope his poor side will feel no ill effects from it. Our reading this evening was cut short by squalls. Williams having to betake himself to the deck where there certainly is a great deal of noise – ropes pounding about, sailors singing and thumping on the deck with their heavy shoes; but Willie sleeps through it all for which thanks.
We have been reading this evening Professor Tappan’s trip through Scotland, very interesting. Oh, how I long to visit those old and beautiful places so connected with the past. Associating scenes and places with bygone times, personages and events I think would be one of my great pleasures in visiting the old world. With us, all things are too new to admit much of this feeling. I have had some idea of it once or twice, particularly when I visited Mount Vernon. I think if we live and fortune favors us to something of a fortune we shall yet visit those scenes I so long to behold. From my childhood up I have ever had an intense desire to visit Europe and the East. A good book of travel was a book that I luxuriated over. I never shall forget the feelings with which I laid down “Hadley’s Letters from Italy” the first time I read the book. It was a New Year’s day, and for some reason not wishing to see our calling friends, I kept my room with this book for company. On finishing I was like one in a blissful dream that could not be broken and when reality came back I could not but weep for the thought that I might never visit these and other scenes I so longed to behold and have feelings awakened that I longed to feel. It made me too sad. I then felt as if I could not die in peace if this longing were not gratified. But if circumstances will allow, I think my wish will be granted for Wiliams, my husband, would like much to revisit scenes in the old world and behold others new to him as well as myself.
March 12, 1853
Have had my evening walk with Williams; saw a flying fish on deck. It was dead having struck on the side of the vessel so hard as to cause death in a few moments. It was a pretty little fish – wish that Willie could have seen it but the little fellow was fast asleep. When I first went on deck my attention was attracted to a very dark, long and narrow cloud, slightly arched, extending along the heavens at a great distance above the water – and so it remained for a long time.