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.