Spent the day yesterday with Mrs. Gillespie. Left the ship at half-past twelve and rode there. This extravagance was on account of a sore toe. I took Willie and Mary with me. Mrs. Gillespie has no children and contrary to my expectations Willie enjoyed himself very much. I took with me two of Willie’s books, one of a new one that he had never seen. These amused him for a long time and before he left there yesterday afternoon, the child could finish, after I had read the first few words, nearly every line – the book having some thirty verses. Since being here Willie has been very friendly with strangers. Mrs. Gillespie and he have become very good friends and yesterday afternoon they had a regular frolic together. Willie sang one or two songs to her great amusement. He learns the words fast enough, but I can’t say much for his tunes. Mrs. Gillespie had one of the crying doll babies. This she produced to the great amusement of Willie. We had a little dinner party, five gentlemen and us two ladies. Willie and Mary returned to the ship about half-past five. I remained to spend the evening. We had quite a party of gentlemen, our dinner friends also Mr. Morgan and Mr. Sanford. The evening passed away very pleasantly; we left at ten. Altogether it was a very pleasant day. Mrs. Gillespie is lively and pleasant.
Mr. Morgan has just called in. He tells me that another duel has been fought this morning and that one of the parties was shot through the heart. This dueling is carried to a dreadful extent here, no punishment whatever is suffered by the honorable murderer. He is allowed to go free like any other member of the community. Such a state of things is indeed dreadful. A singular satisfaction – must it afford two men to stand up and be shot at? What thinks that poor immortal soul thus carried away, uncalled, into the presence of his Maker? It is a sad, sad thought. I fear it will be a long time before this dreadful practice is done away with here.
I have just had a call from Mr. Adams. He thinks our Government had little or no honor in fulfilling its contracts and was highly indignant against it. The last Administration gave him the contract for building the new Customs House for San Francisco. It was going on fairly. This spring our new Administration coming in, all things connected with the building are at a standstill. No money to be had and debts constantly contracting, all this because Mr. Adams happens to belong to the opposite party or rather received his contract from it. He seems perfectly disgusted and is now trying to sell out. I trust he will not lose from this operation. What a pity it is that this party feeling is carried to such an extent by our Government. It makes it truly contemptible abroad. Every four years when a new president enters on his Administration, then, almost without exception, our foreign and domestic officers are recalled and others put in their places. This is miserable, particularly in our foreign relations. Just as a man has become well acquainted with, and understands the people with whom he is placed, and they in turn know, respect and feel confidence in him, then he has to leave them and when this happens, as it does very, very often where the officer is most worthy of his situation, foreigners look on in amazement. They cannot understand it and in consequence feel contempt for a Government who acts so much against its own interest. When will a better state of things reign amongst us?
Mr. Morgan sent me another pile of books this morning to read, and take home to his wife. There were seven volumes and instructive reading – no trash. Good books are a treasure everywhere – most particularly at sea. One can never be at a loss for spending time. I think we have a very good library with us – two pretty large bookcases filled to overflowing.
I have been rather fearful of this, but they say we cannot possibly leave tomorrow and Williams thinks it absolutely necessary to leave the first moment we can do so. I feel very, very sorry. I do not approve of this breaking of the Sabbath day. I trust no evil will come from it.
We shall carry 150 Chinese over to China with us. This will pay every expense of the ship to China; they are all put down between decks. This is the way the ships all carry them over. How they exist there during the hot voyage I know not.
I have been playing nurse a good part of the day. Mary having gone in search of some friends. Fortunately she found them and came home in very good spirits. I meanwhile taking charge of my darling Willie.
Mr. Morgan gave Willie this morning a beautiful colored engraving called “An American Farm Scene”. Willie is perfectly delighted with it. There are plenty of animals and that part pleases him most particularly. As usual, he wanted me to tell him the story so I make out stories to him most interesting, conveying every part of this picture. He would listen by the hour if I would let him. When he first saw this picture, which is quite large and was laid out on the table, he sat on his chair for more than an hour looking at it and talking about it. He has quite a fashion of talking to his pictures, also of chatting away to himself while he draws or rather scribbles away his old men, horses, etc. on paper. I have pasted this picture on some white cloth – this will make it very durable and Willie can keep it as long as he likes.