LETTER: TO W.D.B. AND A.B.
LIVERPOOL, October 26, 1846
My dear sons: Thank God with me that we are once more on TERRA
FIRMA. We arrived yesterday morning at ten o'clock, after a very
rough voyage and after riding all night in the Channel in a
tremendous gale, so bad that no pilot could reach us to bring us in
on Saturday evening. A record of a sea voyage will be only
interesting to you who love me, but I must give it to you that you
may know what to expect if you ever undertake it; but first, I must
sum it all up by saying that of all horrors, of all physical
miseries, tortures, and distresses, a sea voyage is the greatest . .
. The Liverpool paper this morning, after announcing our arrival
says: "The GREAT WESTERn, notwithstanding she encountered
throughout a series of most severe gales, accomplished the passage
in sixteen days and twelve hours."
To begin at the moment I left New York: I was so absorbed by the
pain of parting from you that I was in a state of complete apathy
with regard to all about me. I did not sentimentalize about "the
receding shores of my country;" I hardly looked at them, indeed.
Friday I was awoke in the middle of the night by the roaring of the
wind and sea and SUCH motion of the vessel.
The gale lasted all Saturday and Sunday, strong from the North, and
as we were in the region where the waters of the Bay of Fundy run
out and meet those of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, afterwards we had a
strong cross sea. May you never experience a "cross sea." . . . Oh
how I wished it had pleased God to plant some little islands as
resting-places in the great waste of waters, some resting station.
But no, we must keep on, on, with everything in motion that your eye
could rest on. Everything tumbling about . . . We lived through it,
however, and the sun of Sunday morn rose clear and bright. A pilot
got on board about seven and at ten we were in Liverpool.
We are at the Adelphi. Before I had taken off my bonnet Mr. Richard
Rathbone, one of the wealthiest merchants here, called to invite us
to dine the next day . . . Mrs. Richard Rathbone has written that
beautiful "Diary of Lady Willoughby," and, what is more, they say it
is a perfect reflect of her own lovely life and character. When she
published the book no one knew of it but her husband, not even her
brothers and sisters, and, of course, she constantly heard
speculations as to the authenticity of the book, and was often
appealed to for her opinion. She is very unpretending and sweet in
her manners; talks little, and seems not at all like a literary
I like these people in Liverpool. They seem to me to think less of
fashion and more of substantial excellence than our wealthy people.
I am not sure but the existence of a higher class above them has a
favorable effect, by limiting them in some ways.