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Van Tassel Family Papers: Transcripts - MS 689
Friday Afternoon-Time hangs heavily and moves tardily while I am lingering here, and I feel impatient to be at my post and engaged in the duties assigned me-A north wind prevails to day and we have cold weather in Savannah---------------------
You requested in one of your letters that I would note the incidents of my voyage and give you a sketch of the impressions made on my mind by the new objects and scenes which it presented. I did it and will now give it you knowing you will be interested with it notwithstanding all its imperfections---commencing at the time I went on bord (sic) the vessel---
New York, December 28, 1828 Just entered on board the ship Florian which is to transport me far away from scenes and objects endeared to my heart by the tenderest recollections and the strongest sympathies of nature. -Now I have done with farewells and given my parting embrace-- The long ardent and never to be forgotten embrace of my dear and only sister whom I leave perhaps forever-But I banish the distressing thoughts and feel a kind of assurance the we shall meet again in happier days! I say to her again farewell and God bless you-Waft ye winds to the loved object of this prayer this emanation offer again farewell and God bless you, bless you, bless you----
Tis the last Sabbath of 1828. The year is near its close and I seem commencing a new era in my existence-My heavenly Father in his wisdom has presented new prospects before me and called me to a new scene of actions-My greatest anxiety should be that wherever I go I may be devoted to his service and fill the sphere in which he places me with usefulness and fidelity-While I do so I may indulge the assurance that his almighty arms will encircle me and protect me in the midst of surrounding danger-A l---(?) carefully cultivate those pure and holy principles which his gospel inculcates, and which I have avowed to the world-let me see to it that every region, ever clime, shall find me pursuing the path which heavenly master [wisher (?)] points out to me. -------------------------------------------------------------
The setting of this day's sun finds me an inhabitant of a vessel just cleared from the wharf and moored in the Bay of New York. A perfect calm prevails-not a breeze to ruffle the face of the surrounding waters or to favor our onward passage--o(n) every side are yet seen the "Busy haunts and cheerful abodes of mens and I do not feel myself as yet separated from all the world except what this floating Bark contains.
The shades of evening have now encircled us as we lie fixed and motionless on the bosom of the waters. How calm and peaceful the scene around us- the still face of the waters like a mirror reflect from their bosoms the innumerable stars with which the author of heaven is decorated us while the night lamps on either shore add interest and brilliance to the scene. Had I never heard of the storms of the Ocean, of its tempestuous ravings and its angry surges I should think I had embarked on an element where peace was the presiding Duty. The hoarse voice of the Seamen is now no longer heard, the rattling of the cordage has ceased and nothing is passing to interrupt the train of reflections my situation is calculated to inspire.
Dec 29th I have now passed on a night on Shipboard and slept sweetly - this morning every object is concealed from view by a dense fog and the temperature of the air possesses all the softness and mildness of Spring. The Sun just bursting through the mist that has enveloped it, unfolds again the face of nature, smiling through stripped of its beauty and destitute of verdure.
Still a perfect calm prevails and we remain stationary on the watery element.
Monday evening closes in and the Florian still remains in the Bay of NY. Through the day all nature has been as calm and placid as the vernal season of Spring. So difficult to convince oneself that we have just passed the Winter Soltice, and that it is the season when in this lat- itude nature put on its dreariest aspect.
As I am about to commence an acquaintance with the wonders and dangers of the mighty deep and tomorrow expect for the first time to be presented with a view of the vast Atlantick, and for a short time to make my abode upon it, I hope the smooth and placid features now worn by water earth and air, may not prove indicative of approaching storms and commotions. May He who weighs the Mountains in scales and the hills in a balance, who saith to the Mighty Ocean "Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further and here shall thy proud waves be stayed" now manifest his power and goodness in settling the elements and directing the winds to waft our vessel in safety to her destined Port. But should he suffer storms and tempests to arise, I will still look to him with confidence and rejoice that He alone presides over all.
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Tuesday Morn Dec 30th with the bright rising of this mornings sun, favored by the winds of heaven our vessel is leaving the Bay of N.Y. and soon the shores that contain those that are nearest and dearest will have receded from my view. With this prospect immediately before me, I waft them my last embrace and leave them with their God and my God.
How moved, how interesting and brilliant is the scene around me numberless vessels of different kinds are now floating upon the waters, catching like ourselves the propitious breezes and eager to secure the advantages of the present hours. Mankind does not lack wisdom in reference to the things of time but watch and seize with avidity every opportunity of advancing their interests and improving their worldly fortunes. Were they but as wary and alert with respect to things of eternity, how bright and how certain the prospect before them.
A little past 9 Guided by our pilot we are passing the narrows between Long & Staten Islands Sandy Hook with its Light House in view and the prospect becoming every moment more and more extensive. And now the heights of Neversink (Navesink), the spot which first greets the glad eye of the Mariner as he approaches the shores of our western Hemisphere attract my attention. And now the grand object I have so long wished to behold is before me. The mighty, the magnificent Ocean, the great Atlantick (sp). Away to the South and East the view is is boundless, and to me the scene is almost overwhelming. O what am I among the works of that Being who spoke such a world into existence? Truly nothing and less than nothing-----------
While the magnificent scene is before me, I cannot but have the most exalted conceptions, of the power, the wisdom, and the goodness of the Creator of the Universe, while my heart delates (delights) with joy and gratitude at being permitted to be a Spectator of this grand display of his divine attributes.
What irresistible force does this mass of waters possess! How ceaseless, how beautifully majestick (sp) are its motions-Yet powerful as it is, Man possesses the art of compassing its mighty waves and the hardihood to traverse its most distant boundaries-- The Florian is not alone her outward bound course this bright morning-Just before us is a stately vessel her white white sails hoisted to the breezes, she rides proudly
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and gracefully over the waves and lightly dances upon the surface of the waters. O she is a specimen of perfect grace and elegance---She is bound to the eastern shores of the Atlantick (sic)---Prospering gales attend thee, Beautiful Vessel, as thou goest on thine errand of friendly intercourse performing thy part towards connecting and forming into one the different an distant families of the earth.
A brisk and piercing northwestern breeze is wafting us swiftly out upon the element to which I have hitherto been a stranger. The shores of Long Island on the north and the extended line of the Jersey shore with the far distant and deep blue mountains where the sun has his going down, are slowly receding form my view, and shortly no object will present wherever the eye can rest but on vast expanses of welling waters.
I look beyond the western wave and pierce the distance that lies still beyond, until in my imagination I reach the spot where dwells the friend, the Brother dearest to my heart. O could I clasp him to my bosom as I pass-But I'll waft him my embrace of pure sisterly affection, my blessing and my farewell in the strong ardent hope of being again restored to him in our Heavenly Father's own allotted time.
After about three hours sail the motion of the Vessel is beginning to produce its usual effect on inexperienced sailors, that of sea sickness. This I anticipated and it must for a time at least destroy my enjoyment of the scene that interests me so much.
Towards evening---The fine breeze that has filled our sails through the day and wafted us so pleasantly and rapidly on our course is beginning to die away, and our Vessel to roll and tumble lazily and sluggishly over the slowly rising and subsiding waves.
Dec 31st The last morning of 1828 has dawned upon me and finds me a voyager on the vast Atlantick (sic). How has the scene changed since last the closing day of the year passed
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over me. Then the lofty Kurtsberg intervened between me and the rising Sun, and the bleak mountains of the Delaware bounded my view. Now I am surrounded by the waters of the Ocean, steering my course away from every object and every scene endeared by the ties of nature and familiar acquaintance and bound to a land of strangers, hoping that something there awaits me that will compensate for the sacrifice I am making.
We are off the Delaware, making slow progress on our voyage the wind so gentle as to produce but little motion of the Vessel, and were it not for sea sickness which paralyzes every faculty, the scene around me so placid and composed would afford real enjoyment-------------------------------
How interesting and impressive an object now presents itself to my view-The year is just expiring, its last Sun is about to go down. And where will he make his bed tonight? I'll watch his descending glories and see where he hides himself Will some high mountain with its snow clad summit serve him for his hiding place? or will screen his blazing glories behind the darkly waving branches of some impenetrable forest? or will he have himself beneath the verdant covering of some widely extended Landscape? No-Tis not the mountain tis not the forest nor the plain that will tonight conceal the glorious object from my view---But, standing at the entrance of my cabin, I fixed my eye upon the departing orb as he slowly and majestically descended. I gazed intently and earnestly to see what glory and beauty he was finishing his daily and his yearly course. It was nought I had ever before seen that to receive him; but it was an object next to himself in Majesty and grandeur 'Twas the deep blue wave of the great Atlantick (sic)! 'Twas a billow of the Ocean-I gazed as he neared the breast of the wave, when in a veil of purple and gold he shrouded his lovely face and sunk in an instant from my sight. The scene was so impressive, so deeply interesting, I could have wept in the
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fullness of the sensations it excited. O God of Nature, how perfect! how glorious and how lovely are all thy works! Let me never, O let me never cease to adore and love thee- but let that spark which I would humbly trust thou hast enkin dled in my breast and is an emanation, from thyself, live, glow and burn, till every impurity of nature is refined, and nought remains but can admire, adore and love.---
Savannah Jan 8th, 1829
My Dear Brother will not doubt me when I tell him I was most sadly disappointed at finding that his anticipated messenger of love had not preceded me to welcome my arrival and cheer my lonely heart--that timeliness which the Strangers heart must even feel when, on whatever side he turns his, no long loved familiar object meets it, no face as he approaches, lights up with the kindly glow of affectionate remembrance, no hand stretches forth to give the sign of cordial welcome. I still look for it, still believe it had been dispatched and that some unpropriotous occurrence occasions its delay-----
And I am in the city of Savannah: in ten degrees more indulgent skies than where my former life has been spent and several hundreds of miles South of you My Dear Brother, I can yet scarcely accustom myself to giving my thoughts on Northern Directions to find you; but believe the friends I've left behind will prove a magnet of sufficient power to attract and fix my thoughts in whatever clime I find myself.
This day was ushered in by the firing of artillery and the beating of drums---The different Companies of Military have been out but the day has been rainy and I thought was not celebrated with much feeling---I have not heard the name of the Hem (hymn?) mentioned except in one single instance (and I cannot tell on what occasion for it was as I was entering the drawing room) since I landed. There ar I presume a dozen or more gentlemen Boarders in the house, but Politcks has no share in their conver- sation. This is different from what I expected.-------------------
There are likewise a number of Ladies some of them from the North and all pleasant and agreeable and were it not for the unpleasantness attending a delay when one is anxious to go forward, and the unusual expense it will occasion me I would enjoy myself very well.--------------------
The rain has yet prevented my visiting any other part of the City except where I have taken lodgings, which happens to be in a pleasant part of it-The house where I am stands on the south east side in and through the center of which passes one of the principal streets, on each side of the street is a large enclosure ornamented with the live Oak and the Pride of India, a very beautiful tree bearing a blossom resembling the Lilach in scheme and fragrance. The streets are not paved, the soil sandy and in Summer the dust is described to be as great an annoyance as we have ever been accustomed to find it. I am particularly struck with the stillness and apparent order that prevails. I have not heard half the noise in the streets as you will hear in those of any of our country villages in the same time. One regulation
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however prevails which proves that although there is the appearance of peace and serenity, a secret apprehension exists which has its origin in slavery. At eight in the evening the beat of the drums is heard which summons every Black to his own quarters and if one is found by the watch after this hour without his pass he is confined in the guard house until morning and then some severe punishment awaits him----- So slavery is a bitter draught, let us mix with it as many softening ingredients as we will---
I do not know but winter has retires beyond the limits of the United States for I had seen little of it at the north and no appearance of it exists here-On the contrary the weather is like May in its softest mildest character-last night was very damp and chilly, but this evening has been perfectly comfortable without any fire. I may be greatly mistaken, but I still think I shall enjoy a Southern Climate.
Friday Morn-Now the expected Messenger has arrived. How welcome the well known superscriptions-how much more cheering than any other object with which my eye has been greeted-But when O when again shall my heart be warmed and cheered by that messenger that shall [?] me that my dear Brother is happy, that the causes of disquiet and of pain that now but too truly exist are all removed.: O hasten, hasten the hour that shall bring peace to the heart of my own dear Brother--- Would I could answer your interrogations respecting Mary to your and my own satisfaction---I do not apprehend that she will be allowed to suffer, but she is in the power of one whose ideas of comfort correspond with every other feature of his character. I live in the hope that Providence will provide some way for her release from his mean tyrannical dominion-I did inform Mrs. Merritt of Mary's situation with a view only to secure her attention and assistance when they might be to Mary more than all the world beside. She said she should have been very sorry not to have known she was in the City and would call and see her soon-I feel more at ease than though I had not informed her of Mary's situation----- I still hope that Sister Olivia will go to her a few weeks before you leave Washington---I spent about three hours with Sister Rhoda while in New York. When I entered her door she threw her arms around my neck and the long close embrace told me that her heart was broke and that she was daily smarting under the pains of a wound that was incurable-Her husband soon came to the door and paused until I advanced towards him and gave him my hand--- For my dear Sister's sake I did that at which every feeling of my soul revolted. I called him brother and kissed him-The painful and shameful subject of his past conduct was not named.
Greensborough January 25th 1829
I must here break off my journal to acknowledge the receipt of another welcome messenger from my dear Brother, bringing me the grateful tidings of his own health and that of the dear ones still further distant. O that it were in my power to supply the place of a Mother to Mary! I feel deeply solicitous for her and regret that Olivia cannot make it consistent to go and remain with her until your return. I see not in what other way there is any prospect of her being in a comfortable state of preparation for the approaching illness. Do try to persuade Olivia to go to her, tell her the journey will be short in comparison to the one I have performed, that the separation from you will be short and that the consciousness of doing good will be a compensation for every privation she may endure. But I forget that before this reaches you the time of your stay in Washington will have nearly expired-and for the first time I feel reluctance and regret at the thought. I need not explain the cause
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But I think I shall feel myself much more alone after you leave Washington than I do now. I do not realize the distance at which I am separated from my friends and hope I never shall! I intend to think of it as a little as possible. My school I think will soon be so numerous as to occupy all my time and then it occupy all my thoughts. I find I shall have to exert myself to the utmost of my ability in order to establish a respectable school; it is, as the one in Delhi was, in ruin from long neglect; but my encouragement to exertion is far greater; and I have different people to deal with and different materials to work upon; though not altogether such as I should select were I at liberty to make it so. You were greatly mistaken my dear Brother when you supposed I had escaped the dominion of winter by coming to Georgia. I suffered more from the cold while in Sav. than at any time previous; On the night of the tenth ice was formed of the thickness of an inch, the ground was frozen hard and thawed very little in the Sun the following day. At this place the cold was more severe, the thermometer fell to twelve degrees below the freezing point. I suffered much from the cold on my journey from Augusta to this place and found all my winter garments insufficient to make me comfortable. The weather has been cold since my arrival until today, and is still enough so to make a pretty good fire necessary, especially when all the doors are kept open as is the fashion her here in the coldest weather- and a very great diminutive of my comfort I assure
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you, but the people think they cannot breathe with all the doors shut. Yesterday morning I received a call from his honor Judge Cobb, formerly Member of the House and I believe of the Senate from this State. He has recently been appointed or chosen one of the Board of Justus, and I suppose thought it incumbent upon him to pay me his respects. He is moreover a Widower and in his manner quite the gentleman.
Monday Morn 26-Rather than lose the mail of this day I shall here close my letter. Do write every mail while you can in Washington and by that means contribute largely to my happiness. Without an uninterrupted correspondence I shall be a little homesick I fear. Again I send my love to be transmitted by you to the North. Again I invoke the blessing of heaven to rest upon my dear Brother and all that pertains to him and say farewell.
Your affectionate Sister
I conclude(?) you will be willing to dispense with the rest of my journal.
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