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The days pass on calmly and agreeably. The only objection I have to the life on board the “Canada” is the ex. cess of eating and drinking.
Monday, October 1. The tenth day on board. It has been somewhat less agreeable during the last few days : stormy and rough. We had yesterday what they call" a gale." I endeavored, but in vain, to stand on deck. I was not made to be a sailor. We are near Newfoundland. We steer so far northward to avoid the equinoctial storms on the more southern ocean. But we have had contrary winds, and considerable storms for some days, so that we have not progressed as favorably as the commencement promised. We shall not reach Halifax till to-morrow. We shall put in there for a few hours and send our European letters to the post (for this reason I am bringing mine into order), after which we steer direct south to New York.
I am perfectly well; have not been sea-sick for a moment; but can not deny but that it seems to me rather unpleasant when, in the evening and at night, the waves thunder and strike above our heads, and the vessel heaves and strains. Fortunately, the ladies are all well and cheerful; and in the evening three of them sing, two of whom met here for the first time in the world, the “old lady," who, after all, is not so old-only about fifty-and who has a splendid soprano voice, and the pale girl and her friend, with their clear voices, sing hymns and songs remarkably well together. It is very charming and beautiful. The tones remain with me at night like consolatory spirit-voices, like the moonlight on the swell of the waves.
Last night, when the sea was rough and there was even some danger, when every movable thing was tumbled about, and I thought of my home, and was in “a shocking humor," and acknowledged it even to my fellow-voyagers, those three voices sang hymns so exquisitely till about midnight, that every restless wave within me hushed itself to repose. To-day we have better weather and
wind, and are all in good spirits. Some little children, however, are so sick that it is pitiable to see them. This next night we shall come into dangerous water. One of the great steamers, which goes between Europe and America, struck amid the surf in the neighborhood of Halifax, and suffered considerable damage. But we must manage better than that. Our captain, Judkins, is considered to be a remarkably skillful seaman. An excellent, goodtempered, and kind-hearted man is he besides ; likes to come and sit in the saloon with the ladies, tells them stories, and plays with the children.
I read a deal here on board ; one can get through a vast many books on such an occasion. I have read Châteaubriand's " Confessions," but without much pleasure. What can one learn from an autobiography in which the writer acknowledges that he will confess nothing about himself which would be derogatory to his dignity? It was in a manner different to this that St. Augustine wrote his Confessions, regarding merely the external eye; in a different manner Rousseau, great and noble, at least in his desire to confess to the truth. Thus will I sometimes shrive myself; for every object and every consideration is mean, except this, the highest. Châteaubriand's French vanity spoils, for me, his book; nevertheless, I have retained some glorious descriptions, some occasional profound word or expression, as well as another fresh conviction of the weakness of human nature.
I have read here, also, Miss Martineau's “Life in the East." I like to study pictures of the East, and of the earliest period of the cultivation of our race in opposition to the West—that promised land which I am approaching with a thousand questions in my soul. But I am disturbed in Miss Martineau's book by her evident endeavor to force her own religious opinions upon the life and history of antiquity. Some great and beautiful thoughts, nevertheless, run through the book, like a refreshing
breeze. In them I recognize that noble spirit before which I often bowed myself in awe, and before which I bowed last when reading her "Life in a Sick-room."
The calmest day we have yet had on board! And this calm is really beautiful after the last day's storm. Little sparrows swarm around our vessel in the evening, with greetings from land. They remind me of the birds which brought to Columbus the first intelligence from the shores of the New World. What must have been his state of mind on seeing them!
To-morrow morning early we may set foot on American soil at Halifax; but as we there fall in again with “Old England,” I take the matter coolly. I have been on deck for a long time. Sea and sky are calm, and of an uniform light gray, like the every-day life of the North. We leave a broad, straight pathway behind us on the sea, which seems to fade away toward the horizon.
I have been annoyed to-day by the behavior of some gentlemen to a little storm-driven bird which sought for rest in our vessel. Wearied, it settled down here and there upon our cordage, but was incessantly driven away, especially by two young men, an Englishman and a Spaniard, who seemed to have nothing to do but to teaze this poor little thing to death with their hats and handkerchiefs. It was distressing to see how it endeavored again and again, upon its wearied wings, to follow the vessel, and again panting to alight upon its cordage or masts, only to be again driven away. I was childish enough to persecute these young men with my prayers that they would leave this poor little creature in peace. But it was to no purpose, and, to my astonishment, neither did any of the other passengers take the little stranger under their protection. I called to mind that I had seen in Swedish vessels little storm-driven birds treated differently-left in peace, or fed with bread-crumbs. The end of the pursuit here was, that after the bird had left its tail in the
hand of one of its tormentors, it was soon taken ; it was then put into a dark cage, where it died in a few hours.
I consider myself to be far from all excess of sensibility; but nothing angers me more, among human beings, than unnecessary cruelty to animals; and I know that a noble human nature abhors it. For the rest, I deplored over the cruel children in men's shape, because I believe in a Nemesis even in little things; and I believe that the hour may come when these young men may long for rest, and find none; and that then that hunted bird may make itself remembered by them. When I arrive in America, one of my first visits shall be to the Quakers, because I know that one of the beautiful traits of their religion is mercy to animals.
I once was also a cruel child, when I did not understand what suffering was, and what animals are. I received my first lesson in humanity to animals from a young, lively officer, who afterward died the death of a hero in the war against Napoleon. Never shall I forget his reproachful glance and tone, as he said to me, “ The poor worm !" It is now more than thirty years since!
I shall, my dear heart! write no more this time; but as soon as I reach New York I shall again write to you. And that which I long for there, is to hear from home. It is now so long since I had a letter.
Many feelings stir within me as I thus' approach the end of my voyage, feelings not easy to describe. What will be the end of it? That I do not know. however, I know: that I shall see something new ; learn something new; forget that which was of old ; and press onward to that which lies before me. There is much for me to forget and to be renewed. And this, also, I know : that friends will meet me in that foreign land ; and that one faithful friend comes to meet me on the shore. That is good!
Good-night, dear little sister. I embrace you and
mamma-kind greetings to relations and friends
and may she live in the New World as in the Old.
LETTER I I.
New York, October 4th, 1849. GOOD-MORNING, little sister mine! or, rather, good-evening in the New World, where I now set firm foot, after thirteen days rocking on the sea. I am lodging in the Astor House, one of the largest and best hotels of New York, and where the inhabitants are as numerous as in the capital of Iceland, namely, about five hundred.
Opposite to this Astor House I see a large so-called museum, with fluttering banners and green shrubs on the roof, and the walls covered with immense paintings, representing - The Greatest Wonders in the World,” in im. mense, wonderful animals, and extraordinary human beings, all of which may be seen in the house. Among these I observe a fellow who makes a summerset aloft in the air out of the yawning jaws of a whale; a “salto mortale," like the salt-prophet, Jonas; and many such like curiosities, which are still further trumpeted forth by a band of musicians from a balcony before the house. They play very well, and the whole looks very merry.
In front of the Astor House is a green space inclosed with trees, and in the centre a large fountain, which has a refreshing appearance, and there I have refreshed myself by walking an hour this afternoon. Astor House is situated in Broadway, the great high-street and thoroughfare of New York, where people and carriages pour along in one incessant stream, and in true republican intermixture. Long lines of white and gilded omnibuses wind their way at an uninterrupted rapid rate, as far as one can see, amid thousands of other vehicles, great and small.