A Voyage Across The Atlantic


A Voyage Across The Atlantic


Ships, Voyage, Travel, Journey, Atlantic Ocean


The narrator embarks on a sea voyage across the Atlantic Ocean to England. Her story serves as both a travel log for her daily activities as well as a account of her interactions with other
passengers. The interactions with the other passengers serves as a portrait of different groups within the United States.


Sedgwick, Catherine M., the author of "Hope Leslie" & c.


"A Voyage Across The Atlantic." By the author of "Hope Leslie" & c. United States
Magazine and Democratic Review [edited by John L. O'Sullivan] (September 1841):
23 6-49.


United States Magazine and Democratic Review




LBD, S. Riggins






A Voyage Across The Atlantic
By the author of “Hope Leslie” &c.

To the Editor of the Democratic Review:
Sir: --As you have done me the honor to publish pretty copious extracts from my journalizing letters about to be published by the Messrs. Harper, I send to you a letter written at sea, not included in that collection. C.M.S.

On board the St. James, bound to London,
May 6th, 1839

Well, my dear C—, did we not save one happy day from the chances of life by not sailing on the first? And we have lived through the parting with you and all the dear friends that came to the Hook with us! Who can tell the thoughts that are compressed into minutes when a life’s-love is in every beat of the heart? We talked cheerfully and laughed at M.’s lame joke, when he told me, jesting at our little home-stream, that he hoped I should find his sister’s House-a-tonic, --but the sounds struck upon faint, unanswering hearts. The parting [passing?] bell found us in the midst of our claret and crackers, and deprived poor— of his more solid lunch of ham and tongue, a raw material of feeling as well [236] as ideas, so pray do not blame him if he did not seem suitably sad afterward.
Never shall I forget the group of faces in your steamer. The little thing rose above and sank below the deck of our ship, and those blanched cheeks and glowing eyes seemed to speak from another world. I doubt if the last parting will be harder to me than this, for then sense will be dulled, and feeling abated, and faith in another world stronger, I trust, than my hopes of the Old World to which we are going.
How suddenly you glided away from us! How strangely the parting cheering broke upon the suppressed sobs around me! Every voice in our noble ship that could speak replied to you. Do you remember the beautiful flowers that Madame C. gave me? “You will treasure them,” said F., “long after they have faded, because they have grown in your in your home-earth.” I put them in water and had them carefully placed, and yesterday being tolerably recovered from my seasickness, I for the first time inquired for them. Of course they were gone-gone to deck the mermaids perhaps. So much for sentiment versus sensation.
I resisted the fast-coming malady for an hour after we parted. A light fair breeze sprang up. I sat down on the threshold of the round-house, and resolved to observe B.’s “dressing of the ship.” Venus was not attired by the Graces with more enthusiasm, but my dull eye saw neither form nor comeliness, and I very soon followed those who, one by one, had dropped away wretched enough into their berths, and there we stayed for three oblivious days.
After all there is compensation in this sea-sickness, that seems to me not to have been sufficiently considered. It comes at the right moment. It is an opiate for the aching heart, for homesickness, for all mental and moral ills; it is even potent against fear, for the magnificent dangers of the “great and wide sea” occurred to me yesterday, coward as I am, for the first time; and then, when it is over (as it is to most persons in three or four days), there is such a reaction of spirits, such a cheerful sense of escape and recovery, as to make you quite tolerant of all lesser sea-discomforts. It is a dark Lethean gulf between shore and sea-life, and once over, sea-pleasures, such as they are, begin.

We are fortunate in the officers of our ship. Captain S— is an able seaman on deck, a quiet gentleman in the cabin,--as to that, everywhere and at all times a gentleman. This is the first voyage he has made under the new régime of having no wine on the table but what is called for, and he says the quiet and comfort [237] resulting from it are inestimable. Nothing could be more grossly unjust than the old system, when ladies, invalids, and abstinents of all sorts, were obliged to pay for those who sat from three o’clock till ten, guzzling down liquors of every kind and quality. Nor was this the worst of it. Few people are content to pay for nothing, and many who were temperate at home tried at sea to drink their money’s worth; and before the voyage was ended there was much ill blood stirred, and many headaches and some fevers generated.
Everything is well ordered in Captain S.’ ship. The seamen have no liquor except on extraordinary occasions. They are required to be quiet, to tread the deck softly, and during the morning watch, in slippers; to use decent and civil language, and to call one another by their names, the universal soubriquet of “Jack,” and “I say, you,” being forbidden, for, as our mate, B., says, they are men, and have names, and should be treated like men.
B. in truth sails the ship. He has the entire confidence of every person on board, from the captain down to the most doubtful-minded----you may guess who that is. He should not be second in any ship.* He has all the virtues of a seaman, and a face befitting them,--a mouth with the most resolute and stern expression on deck, and the most winning smile in the cabin. There is the second mate just coming across the deck, the son of a rich Hamburgh merchant, with a face that a painter would choose if he would command your sympathies for a young sea-farer; and here is our steward, with a face befitting the steward of a benevolent society,--and here, too, is our stewardess, an English woman of forty-five, with such shining hair and teeth, as, I think, none but an Englishwoman of forty-five could show. Surely our commander is a fancier of faces!
An interruption, a racing across the deck-“A souffleur! a souffleur!” screams Madame P.-“A baléno!” shouts François, and “a dolphin! A dolphin!” cry a half dozen voices. I rush with Francois’ aid to the bulwarks, and see—a porpoise.
“Plenty of porpoises on the sea!” cries—, with his disagreeable cynical laugh.
“I am sorry for your disappointment!” said a kindly voice. I looked up into the faces of these two men, wondering if Heaven had infused the sweet and bitter into their dispositions in such different proportions, or if a man by his own determination could make his heart a fountain of good-will. The experiment is worth trying. [238]

*He has since been made captain of a packet-ship.

We have some forty steerage passengers. Their quarters are divided from ours by sail-cloth, which invidious barrier they may not pass. They are, for the most part, malcontent English, who, having been lured to the United States by dreams of an Eldorado, are disappointed to find that the universal law is in force there-----Providence’s stern decree, that prosperity must be paid for in the old-fashioned coin of industry and its kindred virtues. We have tried to stir up a spirit of mutual kindness with these people, making the first advances by giving apples and raisins to their children, but they do not meet us half-way. They are both shy and surly; and I observe in them what I have often observed in English people of their condition, an uncertainty as to their relative position, and an unquietness that is ready to break forth into presumption and insolence. The artificial distinctions in which they were bred have ceased—the forms and words by which they expressed deference are disused—the harness is taken off, the blinders are removed, and they are in possession of a liberty to which they are unaccustomed, and are in the midst of objects which they are unaccustomed, and are in the midst of objects which they have never measured and do not understand. Our people, not fenced out with briar hedges, not trained to a proscriptive and unmeaning civility, learn to measure themselves with others, and to respect natural elevations and real distinctions. We all agree to dispense with certain forms of European civilization, but I doubt if in your whole life you have been half-a-dozen times treated with premeditated disrespect by your inferiors in condition. There is one old pair among the steerage passengers who are quite an exception to the prevailing sulkiness. I have seen them whenever the weather has been tolerable, sitting placidly, and for the most part silently, together, seeming like people who have come to the last chapter of the book, have wound up its strong interests, and are but waiting for a foregone conclusion.
“You are old,” said I to the good woman, who had been telling me a dismal story of the discomforts of the people in the steerage, “you are old to be crossing the Atlantic.”
“Ah, indeed, ma’am, if it were for anything but to go home.”
“You are English?”
“Ah!” interposed the husband good-humoredly, “who would be anything else that could help it?”
“You should not say that,” replied his wife meekly, “since our children have chosen America for them and theirs.”
“Well, and to say the truth,” he resumed, “it is a fine country for the young, but it is not old England.”
“It is not our home, you should say,” replied his wife in an apologetic tone, and looking at me. [239]
“We all allow,” I said, “there is no place like home.”
“True, ma’am, we all say it; but to feel it one must cross the seas. Everybody wondered at us, but we could not get a contented feeling----the trees did not look natural----the rain on those new houses don’t sound as it did on the old thatched roof----the sun never seemed to rise nor set in the right place.”
“But you have left all your children there.”
“Yes, and all married and doing well on nice farms in Ohio; they are busy with the world, we have done with it—and we want to go home and lie down in the church-yard where all our dead lie—where are used to everything, and everything will look natural.”
“And your children were willing?”
“Yes—they are good children and kind,—yes—all but the youngest,—she was not willing—no, not willing; but when she saw us pine she was silent—poor Annie!—I wonder if the pear-tree is living you planted the day she was born, John? The shade of it killed the rose that you set for our eldest girl’s birthday.”
“Yes—God forgive me—I remember,” relied John, “but indeed, ma’am, the little place was so stifled with shrubs and flowers, and the like, that one could not set down a tree without killing them with the shade of it. There were more flowers clustered under our windows than you can find on all the big farms in Ohio. It will be a long day ma’am, before your country will look like old England.”
I too had my preferences, and my aching longings for home, and therefore I the more respected the old man’s, and the less wondered that he was going home in despite of all the excellent reasons the political economist might have given him for remaining in our more flourishing land. I should be very apt, like them, to go home, if but to die amid old familiar things.
While we were talking with the old pair, there was a tall, haggard man, with uncombed hair and a death-like paleness, stalking up and down in the narrow and encumbered space on the forward deck, as if all the world were indeed a stage, and he the only player. I could find out nothing from his fellow-passengers, but that this had been the way of his going on ever since we embarked, that he is muttering to himself sleeping and waking—and that he drinks more than he eats.

Our gossip-stewardess has given me some further particulars of the man who excited my curiosity last evening. He is an Englishman, and has been a thriving carpenter in New York. He [240] came on board in a fit of madness, compounded of jealousy and alcohol. This has, in a degree, subsided, but he is still incessantly murmuring something of his wrongs,--at one moment swearing to return and murder his wife and her lover, and then remembering he has all his money with him, resolving he will leave them, as the stewardess elegantly expresses it, “to starve it out together.”
“Their love or their life, stewardess?”
“Their love—their love, ma’am—such love is short-lived, anyway;--but I think the poor man wrongs her and himself; it’s the delirium-tremens the poor fellow has, and that makes him conceit everything. His wife followed him to the ship begging him to go home with her—an innocent pretty woman, and she sat on an old box on the end of the wharf, with her baby in her arms, and the tears streaming down her cheeks, looking most desolate-like, —he swearing till the mate stopped him, and shut him down below.


Well, our Othello has finished his drama—not thrown himself into the sea, but the means whereby he lived, one hundred and twenty-five sovereigns. This our stewardess considers a far more unquestionable proof of madness than a felo-de-se. The poor fellow threw the money overboard last evening, and it has had the effect to sober him. He awoke this morning to a consciousness of his pennyless condition, and he begins to suspect he has been in a delusion about his wife. The passengers are all astir with the incident. One might imagine a morning paper had come in. What outside creatures most men and most women are!—they live upon what is enacted; the world within, with its ever-loving and inscrutable mysteries, has nothing novel or curious for them.


Oh, ye dear friends, who “live at home at ease”—whose senses unlock in the morning to the singing of spring birds—to the crowing of cocks and cackling of hens—to the stroke of the gardener’s he hoe in the upturning earth—to all cheerful domestic sounds; who look out upon the waving trees, and bursting blossoms, and inhale earth’s sweetest odors—oh, think of us wretches waked to the swashing of the water on the side of the ship almost into our ears, who see the blessed light of day only through the little glass eye of our state-room, and for the music of nature, the many voices of the glad earth, hear the “swabbing” of the decks, and for its sweetness have a congregation of pestilent odors that make us wish for the idol’s noses “that smell not!” [241] Then comes the necessity of dressing, a most comfortless process in this confined air and with these odious ship-odors. Think of washing one hand while you hold on with the other, staggering from side to side amid waving towels and curtains; grasping comb and tooth-brush, and the tedious process lengthening as you go. But while I am worrying and fretting, K— is sleeping as quietly as if an angel’s wing were brooding over her. What matters it, whether on sea or land, while the wing plumed with health, youth, and cheerfulness, broods over us.
You should come to sea to know what a pleasant incident in every day’s chapter is the breakfast,—coming out from our little, dark, noisome dens to fresh air, cheerful faces, and cheerful voices. If Columbus is permitted to look down upon this Western ocean whose ways he opened, he must smile as he contrasts these floating hotels, and tables covered with the luxuries of every clime, with his little ship of two hundred tons burthen, and his salt and scanty fare. Here we have for breakfast fowls, beef-steaks, hot-rolls, hot-cakes, stewed fruit, &c.; and for dinner, what have we not?


I have got far into the pleasant depths of a childhood friendship with a little girl in the steerage; and had a hearty greeting from one of the sailors, who having heard me say I was from Massachusetts, told me he was a Boston lad. We anchored upon “Father Taylor,” and were friends at once. He likes, he says, “to tramp it over the world, but he does not mean to be a common sailor always.” No Eastern man does, nor is long, as our mate says. He pronounces them the best seamen in the world; but says you cannot keep them before the mast—they will go ahead. Happy the country where this principle is sown at broad-cast, and takes such root as in ours. When we parted my compatriot promised to “pull the ropes for me.” There are certain harmonies between human beings that may be brought out and are worth studying. God gives a natural touch and an ear for this music; but if the living instrument were studied but half as much as is a piano or a paltry guitar, excellent harmonies, that make glad the heart of man, would often burst forth.


Saturday, May 11th.—I have enjoyed two hours exquisitely, looking over the bulwarks, while the yeasty waves are bounding and leaping round the ship, throwing off jets of jewels, images of beauty and joy. The ship is gliding with a power that seems spiritual. The girls have been singing and shouting, and we forget all sea-troubles. So far the sea has not been the scene of discomfort, ennui, and wretchedness it was described to us. We keep employed and good-natured.
Monday, 13th.-Saturday night we sat on deck till 12. Our singing trio were in their best voice, as their applauding public of some half-dozen thought; and when, at 12, our stewardess warned us to bed, we bade the bright stars and bright mirror below them an unwilling good-night, and parted in the expectation of passing the next evening in the light of the new moon. But Seged’s decree of happy days was not more presumptuous that a mariner’s promise of fair hours. Each hour had its individual, elemental character. In the morning the ship was pitching at such a rate that it was not without difficulty that we got into the round-house. Black, smoky clouds curtained the western horizon, and squally ones scudded before us, giving blasts for greetings. Captain S— will not let us call it a gale—nothing more that a gallant breeze. I have no aspirings to see anything grander on the ocean; it sublimities have too much of the element of terror for my taste. The girls are standing at the bulwarks; Captain S— assures me there is do danger, and they enjoy it all the more for the dashing they get, as we now and then ship a sea. Their merry shouts are a pleasant home-sound amid the roaring of the ocean. The poor steerage passengers are obliged to hide their heads in their dismal berths, as the water is dashing over the bowsprit.
The sailors are my constant admiration—their obedience, promptness, calmness, and intrepidity. When I see these men mounting in all this hurly-burly to the round-top, fearless as birds, and trundling the ropes on the right use of which our lives depend, as calmly as we, in our quiet homes, pull the threads of our sewing, I cannot but laugh at certain bold theories about the sexes. What may be in the future developments of society we know not—the possible is in the impenetrable obscurity of the future; but what a young lady embroidering a bell-rope, and what a sailor reefing a sail in a storm, actually are, we know. There are, it is true, some striking exceptions to the general destiny and character,--that magnanimous creature, ‘Grace Darling,’ for example.


Wednesday, 15th. --We have just speaking an English ship from Barbadoes, which lay to, awaiting us. It is a stirring scene on the lonely track, when you seem cut off from the human race, suddenly to come upon fellow-beings, with wants, projects, sympathies answering to your own, as face to face,—to see and hear them for an instant, and then to part for ever!
The passengers were all on deck, B— manoeuvring the ship, [243] and Captain S---exchanging greetings through the speaking trumpet, when I felt my gown grasped, and, turning round, saw little Sarah L.’s nurse, pale and panic-struck. “Thank the Almighty!” she exclaimed, “we are safe. I thought they were pirates. I heard the word from them, ‘You must give up!’” B—laughing, exclaimed, “Pirates!--they have one red cap on the starboard quarter, one monkey, two perroquets, three oranges, and no bananas!” A harmless equipage, truly!--but I am the last person that should scorn groundless fear.
Thursday, 16th.---Last night appeared “the Northern Lights,” the first number of our paper, with a capital caricature vignette by one of our artists. M---is the editor; it was read aloud, and what with the writers for our audience, the reader’s piquant emphasis and flashing eyes, and an atmosphere of amour proper, it went off charmingly. Afterward, our three musicians fell to their guitars and songs, while a merry set of our messmates formed themselves into a gallery audience, stood at the skylight, and showered down applauses, encores, and prunes, on our performers. So you see our ship-life is not so dismal as you may imagine.
Friday, 17th.--We have been on deck to see the setting sun. It set clear for the first time since we left New York, dropped its golden light into the ocean, and was gone. I have heard all my life of sunset at sea. Now that I have seen it, it seems to me not comparable in beauty to a sunset among our hills with a wavy horizon of trees and mountains, every ray caught and reflected by the varied landscape, the good-night beams burnishing the windows of happy homes, dancing on the topmost branches of that shade these homes, reflected on the soft blue smoke that curls up from the hospitable chimneys, glowing on the harvest hill-side, shining back from the steel-like lake, and finally dying away on the mountain tops. Here all is sea and sky, sky and sea—unity and grandeur to be sure, God in his wonderful works, not in his tender fatherly visitation to man, and lingering in his truest symbol with his social children.
At ten o’clock we went again on deck to see a night far more beautiful than the setting sun. There was a mass of heavy clouds shrouding the western horizon, like the outspread wing of a demon brooding over terrors and danger. There was an indistinctness, a depth of gloom, a shadowing forth of the dark passage from time to eternity. Above this cloud, shining in a bright field, with a thousand stars around her, was the moon, five days old. A faint silvery light, at first but a speck, shone on the edge of the dark cloud. V.B. said it was the evening star, and while we were debating whether it were or were not, could or could not be, [244] this most beautiful of the planets shot out, and—I don’t know why, but that it produced the sensations that young, bright, and tender things do—L. and I exclaimed in the same breath, “It reminds me of dear little H—!”
The celestial melodrama (pardon the belittling designation) was not over. At twelve, we had a brilliant aurora-borealis. The lights streamed up from that same black cloud as if touched by the divine hand it had opened, and sent up their bright tokens from the world it hid. I have seen splendid northern lights before. Do you remember those of the winter of ’37, when, on first looking out of the window, we thought the country was lit up with some great conflagration? Our snowy hills were tinted with the reflection of the rose-colored hues that extended quite to the zenith. I remember that, in spite of the mercury having fallen to sixteen below zero, the village street rang with voices. It seemed like a general turn-out of a moonlit summer’s evening. But last night’s spectacle was sublime. The column of light was reflected on the ocean—it was element discoursing to element a revelation from another world. To-day the curtain has fallen, we have returned to our general ill luck of easterly winds, drizzling rains, and leaden skies, so I am not like to bore you with any more sea scenery.
Thursday, 23d.--I was awoke this morning by what Captain S— indulges me in calling a gale, though it proved a very short one. Our stewardess came early to my state-room to comfort me with her staple consolations: ‘It was a king of a day to any Miss A. had when she was no board the St. James--it didn’t blow a thimble-full!’ and like chambermaid assurances. I hurried on my clothes and went on deck. Madeline Grey stood there wrapped in her gray cloak. She, with her half-inspired old face, was a fit impersonation of the queen of the elements; and M—, his melancholy eye for once lighted, bent with a poet’s earnestness on the lashed waves. Captain S— was as courteous and composed as if he had been in a drawing-room. Nobody else was stirring save the sailors, and they were stirring enough. . . The tremendous roar of the ocean most struck me. There was a Divine power in its might voice. The effect was more astounding than the sound of Niagara. There you are encompassed with quiet objects, the softly breathing woods, the immovable hills, the steadfast rocks, --but here rushes from every quarter the mighty sound. No recession, no hiding-place, no rest, no repose!—you move on, and, seeming to grow louder, the roar follows you.
Sunday Evening, 26th.--We have been pitching and tumbling all day. At 2, Mr. H---preached a sermon to us, and sweet voices blended in sacred music. Mr. H. is a Scotch Wesleyan Methodist [245] missionary, who has been twenty years in the West Indies, and he is well fitted to be a preacher of righteousness all over the world. He is a most cheerful and instructive member of our ship’s company; and his calling, instead of being in any way offensive, rather gives value and currency to his good sense and good humor. All on board, black spirits and gray, honor the old veteran, and admire the resolution with which he endures a racking cough, night and day.
If you have read my journal up to this point without skipping, you are pretty well acquainted with our dramatis-personæ, and do you not think we get on famously, considering we have sixteen womankind in this narrow space? Elements of discord no doubt these are, if there were an evil spirit to bring them out. We might fight like cats for the only two sofas, the greatest luxury on ship-board, which some of us certainly do enjoy in a horizontal position an undue portion of time. Then there is --------’s taste for general dictation (going to the length of hints to the captain how to manage his ship!) which has won for her the sobriquet of ‘commodore;’ and poor old Madeline Grey’s just complaints of the stewardess’ favoritism; and above all, the little nuisance “Jolly” who our mate declares is worse than a snow-storm. There! while I am writing about him, he has had a tumble out of the swing, and one of the gentlemen asks with a mischievous smile, “Will the wound prove fatal?” Parents who make their children odious should be classed with those felons who poison water-sources, for they spoil the sweetest things that Heaven has given us.
Our three young artists are continually on deck noting and enjoying every fresh aspect of sea scenery. V.B. is the only one of them, or of the ship’s company, who has had zeal enough to set up all night to see the moon set and the sun rise. These three interesting men are on their way to Rome to study their art,----we daily rejoice in the fate that made them of our company. There may be quackery, affectation, and pretence, about art in the old world, but I think there is little of it with us. We have not enough of the real thing to give value to its counterfeit; and in our money-seeking community, where every nerve is strained to get riches, as if riches were an end and not a means, there is something truly noble in young men starting in a career that holds out no lure of wealth, that at most promises but the means of pursuing their art, and those means ever moderate and often insecure. They show themselves, in the start, capable of rising above the gross material world; and without any of those outside things that give value to life in common eyes, and distinction to common men, they rise at once to a rank far above them, and form an aristocracy to which [246] deference is due, and will be paid even on the broad platform of our society-unquestionable deference, when to talent for art are added the high morals and attractive manners of our shipmates.
While V.B. was out watching the stars, our kind mate, according to his promise, tapped at my door. It was just before the morning watch. I called the girls, and we went on deck to see the sun rise—it was a glorious sight to see, but not by a thousand-fold so lovely as when it comes over our own eastern hill—so comfort yourselves, ye idle stayers-at-home!
Monday, 27th.--We had a religious service on deck yesterday. The sea was as calm as our “Mountain Mirror.” Worship is surely a natural voice in such a scene. I looked to see our steerage passengers avail themselves of their first opportunity of coming on the quarter-deck. Out of the forty-two, there were but my friends the old pair and three or four women who passed the sail-cloth barrier--“the line of demarcation,” as one of the steerage ladies called it with a toss of her head. Poor creatures! I do not blame them. I wonder that the necessary, and above all, the unnecessary disparities of life do not oftener produce dislike and exasperation in those who are thrust to the outer side of the “sail-cloth” barrier of society. Faith in God cometh by inspiration—it takes a long course of moral cultivation to perfect faith in man.
Tuesday, 28th.--Still beating against the east wind. “A hardhearted wind” B. truly calls it. I do not perceive that seamen are more weatherwise than we land-folk. For the last ten days, captain, mate, and all, have been at fault in their predictions. The prolongation of our voyage makes me feel too vividly the distance between us. Home-faces pass before me as distinctly as the ghostly procession before Macbeth. The dear familiar places appear too. The garden-door in the long parlor is open, and the budding honeysuckle, creeping around it. I see the trees with their half-grown leaves, their thin May foliage, on the mountain-side—the "great bridge"—the meadows—the early flowers! I have dreamed, almost every night since I have been ship-board, of our dead. And this is not alone my experience. Every morning I hear some one of the women recounting a dream of some long-gone friend of whom she "has not dreamed for years,"--is not this enough to make one superstitious? It is said that as we approach death we recur to the associations of our childhood; even Falstaff, world-worn as he was, "prattled o' green fields" in his extremity. The dead and the distant are, alas! equally beyond our reach—equally lights in our firmament.

A pilot from the Scylla islands spoke us this morning, bringing with him fresh fish, potatoes, and that staple of life to all American mankind—a newspaper! He tells us the wind has blown from the east for six weeks, and as the east wind in this latitude blows on an average two months out of the twelve, we may hope for an end of it in a fortnight! "Patience is a great help." We have taken out our life-preservers, and had a merry time blowing them up. We have not thought of them before since we left New York, when R.W. made himself so merry, fancying us girdled with them, and spurred and mounted on sea-horses, careering about the Atlantic ocean!

Saturday, June 1st.--Still beating about in the Channel. We passed very near the Eddystone light-house this morning, and the ladies were not called up to see it, because, forsooth, the deck was wet! This is suffering from very delicateness, indeed; and thus women are cut off from half the uses and enjoyments of life, lest they should soil a dress, or damp their feet—poor things! Since breakfast we have seen land. England! But, alas! by writing the word, and putting the boldest stroke of my pen under it, I cannot send the thrill through your heart that went through mine at this first sight of the home of our fathers. The outline of the shore is bold and rocky; some points resemble the Palisadoes, and others remind me of the boldest steeps in our Hudson-river highlands. Now and then there is a recession of the hills and we descry a road, a village. Dr. M— sees the hedge-rows. L—, bless the senses of fifteen! can smell the violets, and see the children jumping over the hay-cocks! Our artists are charmed with the novelty of the outlines, and our English friend is clapping her hands, as if these green hills were living friends.


Sunday, 2d.--Our fifth Sunday on board! We had a last sermon from our good friend My. H---, full of the spirit of our religion of peace and love. What a pity it is that clergymen so often lose such golden opportunities as this, on shipboard, of commending their religion by inspiring regard for its preachers! Mr. H— has been one of the most cheerful members of our social compact—and who should be so cheerful as those whose business it is to fit us for a happier world? Mr. H— has not professional pedantry, technically, or sanctimony. His religion is an every-day-garment; he wears it easily and gracefully as if he were used to it.

Monday, 3d.--A clear sun at last! The Needles in sight—a fair breeze, and a good hope of landing in a few hours.

Tuesday, 4th.---Our evil luck of head-winds pursued us to the last. I had hardly written down our fair breeze, when it turned upon us, and we crawled round the Needles and cast anchor on the Mother Bank. Our vision of clean sheets and ample beds vanished, and we were in the condition of many poor fools who are spoiled by flattering anticipations for a very comfortable reality. A droll spectacle was our ship this morning, with dressing up and packing up. We hardly knew some of our shabby shipmates when they came forth all shaven and shorn (their sloughs cast), in velvet waistcoats, gold chains, brushed hats, the women in their land gear, and poor "Jolly" absolutely made over, recast, with a pretty clean dress, a new straw hat, a whip in one hand, and a trumpet in the other. "Three cheers for Jolly!" cried the gentlemen, and three were given, accompanied with a blast of Jolly's trumpet. M.'s appearance on deck caused quite as much sensation as Jolly's, but of a different kind. She has been confined to her berth almost invariably since we left New York—sea-sick five weeks!—and yet when we, who have had the deck, the table, and all possible sea-board varieties, to alleviate our condition, have chafed and fretted, she has been uniformly cheerful and agreeable. A notable triumph this, of the morale over the physique, is it not? There is much heroism that is never chronicled.
Boat after boat came alongside to convey our passengers to Portsmouth. Our artist-friends, the London picture galleries already dancing before their eyes, were the first to be off. G— kept up his humorous affectation of Dalgettyism to the last, and declaring in a melting appeal to his fair young fellow-passengers, that he had no breakfast, they abstracted bread and crackers from the steward's pantry and sent down upon him, and he grasped the shower of manna, fixing his laughing eyes on his patron-saints, and bowing his head like a mandarin,--and off they went amid hurras and the waving of caps, handkerchiefs, and G—'s troubadour cloak. The captain's cutter came at last, and we left the ship with a blessing on every plank of the good St. James. It was a sad parting—it seemed like a bit of home, for the feet of our mess-mates with whom we have been for a month separated from all the world, and involved in a common destiny.
Of all remedies for a mind diseased, inflamed with passion, irritated with petty resentments, discolored with envy, or inflated with vanity, I would recommend a sea voyage. You seem in some sort to have passed away from the world; you judge others dispassionately, yourself fairly; your prejudices fade away, your desires are calmed, your regrets are softened, your resentments vanquished—you are at peace with all men!




Sedgwick, Catherine M., the author of "Hope Leslie" & c., “A Voyage Across The Atlantic,” Sedgwick Stories: The Periodical Writings of Catharine Maria Sedgwick, accessed October 5, 2022, https://sedgwickstories.omeka.net/items/show/25.

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