Archive for the ‘Weather’ Category

“only … rare occurences … make impressions on … memory”

SARAH EVE of Philadelphia continued in her journal to write about the weather comparing it to memory, in general, in which the unusual is remarked on and remembered while the usual, which is often fine, is either taken for granted or ignored. A philosophical young lady.

March 23rd. [1773] — A most fine day indeed, but as this is not uncommon at this season, I dare say, in a week it will be entirely forgotten, as in general it is only the rare occurences that make impressions on the memory. In this year we have had as yet but one day rendered memorable by its temperature, and that was the 21st of February, the extreme coldness of which made it so. . . .
It puts me in mind of those lines of our poet Godfrey*:
” The blazing meteor streaming thro’ the air,
” Commands our wonder, and admiring eyes
” With eager gaze we trace the lucent paths
” Till spent at last, it shrinks to native nothing,
” While the bright stars which ever steady glow
” Unheeded shine and bless the world below.”
The weather certainly may be said to be an emblem of mankind; there are few men in an age that are remembered after they are dead, and those few for being remarkable, like the days of the year, extreme in something, man for his goodness, wisdom, or ambition, for the service or disservice he has done a community, in common, with the weather only pleases or displeases for the present, all is forgotten when no more. It seems ingratitude so soon to forget those whose whole lives were made eminent by their social virtues, when perhaps another will be remembered and his name handed down to posterity for having been the best hair-dresser, or the best fiddle-maker of his time.

* Thomas Godfrey whose poems were published in 1765. Born in Philadelphia 1736, he died at the age of twenty-six. The lines quoted are from The Prince of Parthia, A Tragedy. Act I. Scene 2d.

In the next entry, however, Sarah is commenting again on the weather.

March 25th. — A most dreadful, rainy, windy day indeed. I am really afraid we shall hear of some damage done, as I think I never heard it blow harder. Alas! the poor Sailors, protect them, Heaven!

Source: Extracts from the Journals of Miss Sarah Eve, p 27-28.

posted January 16th, 2020 by Janet, comments (0), CATEGORIES: Eve, Sarah,Poetry,Weather

“it is very extremely excessive cold”

According to Mrs. Eva Eve Jones of Augusta, Georgia, who published “Extracts of Sarah Eve’s Journal” in 1881, a member of the family wrote of SARAH EVE: “Her hair, though red, was always fashionably dressed, and her appearance very stately.” Stately she may have been but she certainly had a sense of humor. As noted in the previous post Sarah began her journal in part, to record and comment on the weather. In February 1773, herewith these entries.

February 15th. — A delightful day. . . . This evening Isabel planted peas, concluding like the Young
Man in the Fable, from the exceeding fineness of the day, that summer was come; and as the death of the swallow and coldness of the weather which was so pleasant but the other day, convinced him of his mistake in prematurely selling his cloathes, so I fancy will the rottenness of the peas satisfy her that had they been planted six weeks later, it had been much better. However, as this haste only proceeds from an anxiety of having them before our neighbors, it may be termed an innocent, if not a laudable emulation.

Sarah is referring to the Aesop Fable titled “The Spendthrift and the Swallow.” The gist of it is that a young spendthrift, needing money, upon seeing a swallow, thought that spring had come, and so sold all of his clothes. A mistake. The weather turned cold, the swallow died, and the foolish man almost froze. The moral: “don’t draw a conclusion based on a single observation.”

February 21st. — The weather to day — but what shall I say of the weather? we have had ” very cold,” ” extremely cold,” ” excessive cold,” and ” exceeding cold,” as says this Book now, none of these separately is sufficient to convey the idea of the temperature of this day — it needs more than the superlative degree, it would take a super-superlative degree if there is such an one, for it is very extremely excessive cold, in short, they say that it has not been so cold since that winter the ox was frozen on the river. . . .

The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography Vol. 5, No. 2 (1881), pp. 191-205. From the Internet Archive, pp 20, 25. See details on the fable HERE.

posted January 10th, 2020 by Janet, comments (0), CATEGORIES: Eve, Sarah,Weather

“I keept Christmas at home this year”

Young Anna Green Winslow, whose parents lived in Nova Scotia, was being schooled in Boston and living with her aunt. In these excerpts she describes the weather on Christmas Eve 1771, how she spent Christmas itself, as well as January 1.

Decr 24th.— … today is by far the coldest we have had since I have been in New England. (N.B. All run that are abroad.) Last sabbath being rainy I went to & from meeting in Mr. Soley’s chaise. … Every drop that fell froze. … The walking is so slippery & the air so cold, that aunt chuses to have me for her scoller [scholar] these two days. And … tomorrow will be a holiday, so the pope and his associates have ordained. … *

Decr 27th.—This day, the extremity of the cold is somewhat abated. I keept Christmas at home this year & did a very good day’s work. …

1st Jany 1772—I wish my Papa, Mama, brother John Henry, & cousin Avery & all the rest of my acquaintance … a Happy New Year. I have bestow’d no new year’s gift as yet.** But have received one very handsome one … [a book]. In nice Guilt and flowers covers. This afternoon being a holiday I am going to pay my compliments in Sudbury Street.

* Anna’s remarks reflect the Puritan dislike for Christmas.
** Gift-giving, if it prevailed at all in Puritan New England, took place on New Year’s Day.
For another excerpt from Anna’s journal, click here.

These excerpts are from a reprint of The Diary of Anna Green Winslow—A Boston School Girl of 1771, edited by Alice Morse Earle (Bedford, Massachusetts: Applewood Books, originally in 1894), pages 9-10, 13. The image is of a miniature owned by Elizabeth C. Trott, Niagara Falls, New York.

“that phenomenon of Nature; a blaizing ocean”

ABIGAIL ADAMS continues her description of details of her voyage to England for her sister MARY CRANCH.

If I did not write every day, I should lose the days of the month, and of the week, confined all day . . . on account of the weather; which is foggy, misty, and wet. You can hardly judge how urksome this confinement is; when the whole ship is at our Service; it is little better than a prison; we Suppose ourselves near the western Islands [the Azores]. . . .

July 8thAn other wet drisly day, but we must not complain, for we have a fair wind; our sails all square and go at 7 knots an hour. I have made a great acquisition, I have learnt the Names and places of all the masts and sails; and the Captain compliments me by telling me that he is sure I know well enough how to steer to take a trick at Helm; I may do pretty well in fair weather, but tis your masculine Spirits that are made for Storms. . . .

I went last evening upon deck, at the invitation of Mr. Foster to view that phenomenon of Nature; a blaizing ocean. A light flame Spreads over the ocean in appearence; with thousands of thousands Sparkling Gems, resembling our fire flies in a dark Night. It has a most Beautifull appearence. I never view the ocean without being filled with Ideas of the Sublime, and am ready to break forth with the psalmist, “Great and Marvellous are thy Works, Lord God Almighty; in Wisdom hast thou made them all.”

* Abigail is describing phosphorescence, or more properly bioluminescence, caused by the slow oxidation of material found in certain marine organisms.

“Abigail Adams to Mary Smith Cranch, 6 – 30 July 1784,” Founders Online, National Archives, accessed April 11, 2019, https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Adams/04-05-02-0204. [Original source: The Adams Papers, Adams Family Correspondence, vol. 5, October 1782 – November 1784, ed. Richard Alan Ryerson. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1993, pp. 358–386.]

posted June 18th, 2019 by Janet, comments (0), CATEGORIES: Adams, Abigail,Cranch, Mary (Smith),Ocean Voyages,Weather

“The Sea running mountain high . . . “

On a voyage across the Atlantic in 1784 to join her husband John in London, ABIGAIL ADAMS kept a journal intended for her sister MARY CRANCH. Once her seasickness had abated Abigail took charge and supervised the cleaning of the passenger rooms on the ship Active.

Latitude 44 Long 24 on Board the Ship Active twesday July 6 1784
from the ocean
No sooner was I able to move; than I found it necessary to make a Bustle amongst the waiters, and demand a Cleaner abode; by this time Brisler was upon his feet; and as I found I might reign mistress on Board without any offence I soon exerted my Authority with scrapers mops Brushes, infusions of viniger; &c. and in a few hours you would have thought yourself in a different Ship. Since which our abode is much more tolerable and the Gentlemen all thank me for my care; our Captain is an admirable Seaman—always attentive to his Sails, and his rigging, keeps the deck all night, carefull of every body on Board; watchfull that they run no risks, kind and humane to his Men; who are all as still and quiet as any private family, nothing cross or Dictatorial in his Manners, a much more agreable Man than I expected to find him; he cannot be called a polished gentleman; but he is so far as I have Seen; a very clever Man.

The cleaning having been accomplished Abigail turned her attention to her fellow passengers.

We have for passengers a Col. Norten, who is a grave sedate Man, of a Good Natural understanding, improved by Buisness, and converse with Mankind; his litterary accomplishments not very great. A Mr. Green, a scotch Man I am persuaded, high perogative Man plumes himself upon his country; haughty and imperious, but endeavours to hide this with the appearence of politeness; which however he is too apt to transgress upon any occasion; whenever any subject arises, which does not intirely agree with his sentiments. He calls himself an english Man, has been in the British Service during the war as a secretary on Board some of the British Admirals; he is a Man of sense and of reading, the most so of any we have on Board. Next to him is Dr. Clark to whom we are under obligations for every kindness, and every attention that it is in the power of a Gentleman and a physician to shew. Humane Benevolent tender and attentive, not only to the Ladies, but to every one on Board, to the servant, as well as the master, he has renderd our voyage much more agreeable and pleasent than it possibly could have been without him, his advice we have stood in need of, and his care we have felt the Benifit of, a Brother could not have been kinder, nor a parent tenderer, and it was all in the pleasent easy cheerfull way, without any thing studied Labourd, or fullsome, the natural result of a good Heart, possesst with a power of making others happy.
Tis not a little attention that we Ladies stand in need of at sea, for it is not once in the 24 hours that we can even Cross the cabbin; without being held, or assisted. Nor can we go upon deck without the assistance of 2 Gentlemen; and when there, we are allways bound into our Chairs: whilst you I imagine are scorching under the mid summer heat; we can comfortably bear our double calico Gowns; our Baize ones upon them; and a cloth cloak in addition to all these.
Mr. Foster is an other passenger on Board [a part owner of the ship Active], a Merchant; a Gentleman soft in his manners; very polite and kind, Loves domestick Life, and thinks justly of it. I respect him on this account. Mr. Spear brings up the Rear, a single Gentleman; with a great deal of good humour, some wit; and much drollery, easy and happy blow high or blow low, can sleep and laugh at all seasons. These are our Male companions. I hardly thought a Leiut. Mellicot worth mentioning . . . tho he keeps not with us, except at meal times, when he does not behave amiss. My Name sake [Love Lawrence Adams] you know, she is a modest pretty woman; and behaves very well.

Abigail described the ocean and the weather and their effects on the ship for her sister Mary.

I have accustomed myself to writing a little every Day when I was able; so that a small motion of the Ship does not render it more unintelligible than u[sua?]l.
But there is no time since I have been at sea; when the Ship is what we call still; that its motion is not equal to the moderate rocking of a cradle. As to wind and weather since we came out; they have been very fortunate for us in general, we have had 3 Calm days, and 2 days contrary wind with a storm, I call’d it, but the Sailors say it was only a Breeze. This was upon the Banks of Newfoundland, the Wind at East. Through the day we could not set in our Chairs, only as some Gentleman set by us, with his Arm fastned into ours; and his feet braced against a table or chair that was lashed down with Ropes, Bottles, Mugs, plates crasshing to peices, first on one side; and then on the other. The Sea running mountain high, and knocking against the sides of the vessel as tho it would burst the sides. When I became so fatigued with the incessant motion; as not to be able to set any longer; I was assisted into my Cabbin, where I was obliged to hold myself in; with all my might the remainder of the Night: no person who is a Stranger to the sea; can form an adequate Idea, of the debility occassiond by sea Sickness. The hard rocking of a Ship in a storm, the want of sleep for many Nights, alltogether reduce one to such a lassitude, that you care little for your fate. The old Sea men thought nothing of all this, nor once entertaind an Idea of danger, compared to what they have sufferd; I do suppose it was trifling, but to me it was allarming and I most heartily prayed: if this was only a Breeze; to be deliverd from a storm.

More from Abigail’s journal of her voyage written for her sister in the next post.

“Abigail Adams to Mary Smith Cranch, 6 – 30 July 1784,” Founders Online, National Archives, accessed April 11, 2019, https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Adams/04-05-02-0204. [Original source: The Adams Papers, Adams Family Correspondence, vol. 5, October 1782 – November 1784, ed. Richard Alan Ryerson. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1993, pp. 358–386.] In the Words of Women by Louise North, Janet Wedge, and Landa Freeman (Lanham, Maryland: Lexington Books, 2011), 259.

posted June 3rd, 2019 by Janet, comments (0), CATEGORIES: Adams, Abigail,Cranch, Mary (Smith),Ocean Voyages,Weather

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