Travel Letters: On The Steamship Servia (1882)

DEAR JOHNNY,- We have had a wonderful passage, and here we are just getting ready to see Fastnet light this afternoon. Doesn’t that bring back two years ago, and all the long dreary day between Queenstown and Liverpool? I hope that we shall have a more cheerful experience to-morrow. Dr. John Hall is aboard, and Dr. Lorimer, and Lawrence Barrett, and T. B. Aldrich, and four hundred and fifty more ; and we have had a bright, sunny, happy time. McVickar and James and I and Richardson and John Ropes make up a sort of party who sit together at the cabin table, and smoke together in one corner of the deck, and talk about whatever chooses to turn up.

And so the year of wandering has begun. It is not easy yet to realize that it is more than a mere summer’s journey, but every now and then it comes over me that the gap is to be so great that the future, if there is any, will certainly be something different in some way from the past. I don’t regret that, for pleasant as all these past years have been, they don’t look very satisfactory as one reviews them ; and although I am inclined to put a higher value on their results than anybody else would be likely to do, they have not certainly accomplished much. I should like to think that the years that remain, when I get home, would be more useful. There is surely coming, and it has partly come, a better Christian Day than any that we or our fathers for many generations have seen. One would like to feel before he dies that he had made some little bit of contribution to it.

Well, well, all that is far away ; and here come the stewards rattling the plates and getting ready for an immediate lunch, — soup and cold meat and prunes and baked apples ; that is the next step in this small floating world, and the future of Christianity does not interest any of them at this moment.

I wonder what is going on at home. Your Marion home must be almost done. I hope with all my heart you and yours may be very happy there in secula seculorum. Think of me sometimes, and when you think, write. My love to Hattie and the babies.

Ever affectionately, P.