A Step from the New World to the Old and Back Again by Professor Henry Tappan

March 11th

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.