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Diary Of Laurent Clerc's Voyage From France To America In 1816
We ascended upon deck and I passed all the morning in copying the different pieces of the composition of M. Gallaudet, which are above. After dinner, I continued to copy and when I had finished, M. Gallaudet made me acquainted with the different pieces of American money and with the value of each, and after supper he related to me the history, or rather he gave me by signs, the description of the manner in which the seamen make the passengers pay their tribute to Neptune in passing the Equinox when they cannot give the former some bottles of wine. His account amused me much and excited my laughter a great deal. A moment before descending into our cabin, M. Wilder came to sit near me and proposed to me the questions which I am now going to insert.
How do you enjoy yourself on board a ship?
As much as it is possible. However, the time hangs heavy upon me.
You are fortunate not to be seasick.
Thanks to God, I have a good constitution.
You must have patience. You are under the protection of God who directs all human events.
Whilst I read, M. Wilder removed himself from me and descended into the cabin. I soon followed him there, and when we were all assembled, we prayed to God and went to bed, and I fell asleep as soon as I was in bed.
Saturday, June the 29th. After having washed and arranged my dress and breakfasted, I ascended upon deck and retired apart to write my journal of the preceding day. It was almost two o'clock when I finished. M. Gallaudet asked to see what I had done, but as I was a little fatigued, I proposed to him to delay correcting my English till after dinner. He consented to it and I walked and relaxed my mind. We dined and after dinner, we went to take the air upon deck during half an hour, after which we descended again into our cabin. We sat there side by side. I presented my blotted paper to him with the same fearfulness which a scholar feels when he shows his lesson to his master. In correcting my English, M. Gallaudet told me that I began to make fewer faults than formerly, and that if I continued to apply myself faithfully, in a short time I should not make any more. When he had finished the correction, he went to shave himself, and when he had done, I shaved myself in my turn. I employed much water. The steward perceived it and complained of it. He requested me to use it economically because it began to fail. I answered him that I must have considerable water everytime I shaved myself, but that for the future, I should do it with as little as possible. Supper was soon ready and we all took our seats at table. After supper I conversed with M. Gallaudet who gave me some lessons in English, and I retired after having prayed to God together with the rest.
Sunday, June the 30th. It is scarcely ever fair weather for two days together. Yesterday was fair so that I foresaw that the following day would be entirely bad. My foresight was realized. The morning of Sunday was cold, rainy and windy, which rendered us all sad; but we did not murmur. We resigned ourselves to the will of God who does all that he pleases. He is our Creator, our Lord, our Maker, and we ought to be submissive to him.
After breakfast I learned that yesterday evening a sailor had let a block tumble and that it had fallen behind Mr. Wilder, but without having touched him. He became pale, thoughtful and pensive. By little and little he took courage again and set his confidence in God whom he thanked for having preserved him from that accident. We joined our prayers to his, and immediately asked God to keep us all in safety, and we hope that he will protect us. Mr. Gallaudet having again become sick, could not preach as he did the pre- ceding Sunday. Everyone passed the day as best he could. For myself, having received from M. Gallaudet a little book entitled: "The Dairyman's daughter", an authentic and interesting narrative. I threw myself, all dressed, on my bed to read it with more attention. That religious work interested me infinitely and I read it till the end with much pleasure. I was moved to pity Elizabeth's letters to the Minister, her tender care towards her younger sister and towards her relations, the latter part of her life and her Christian life, all that was a happiness but seldom to be found. I have no doubt that she found in Heaven a deserved reward for her labours. If I should ever be so fortunate as to find a companion for my wife like Elizabeth of whom I read this day, happy indeed I shall be in this world as well as in the next. When I had finished the reading of this excellent work, I rose from my bed and ascended upon deck. The sun shone, but the wind continued to blow with violence and to be contrary. After dinner we passed all the evening up on deck; we walked and talked together till the hour of supper and as soon as we had prayed to God, we went to bed.
Monday, July the 1st. I did nothing extraordinary this day. Consequently the reader ought not to expect to find anything interesting in it. Nevertheless, if he wishes to know what I did, I shall tell him that I passed all the morning in writing my diary of yesterday, and the afternoon in transcribing my work in my journal, The rest of the evening was employed in conversing upon deck alternately with the companion of my voyage, either sitting, standing or walking, and if one desires to know the subject of our conversation, his curiosity will be satisfied in hearing that we spoke of American, of its inhabitants, of their manner, of their customs, of their habits, of their religion, of their domestic happiness and of the care which must be taken when one is in their society; not to offend the chaste ears or eyes of the ladies, not to excite their blushes. That information surprised me much, and so much the more as I never had seen, or heard anything like it, and as this singularity of the manners of the American ladies was a very striking contrast to those of the European ladies who are not so scrupulous in things of a like nature, and who tolerate all sorts of liberty in conversation, except licentiousness. But wishing to render myself agreeable to everyone, I shall endeavor to familiarize myself with the customs of those amiable persons.