Pa left very early for Woodbury where he spent the day, took supper at the Tavern & returned home about twelve o’clock. I sat up by myself till he came, I reckon I sat for two hours thinking of a dear absent friend and didn’t dream it had been more than five minutes. Indeed I believe if I were not to be disturbed I could almost sit and think & dream of Him the balance of my days. – – The children spent the day at home shooting &c. – -Uncle Edmund has not returned from Balto. yet.
A very gloomy day indoors as well as out. It looked all day as though it would snow every moment. Ma and the children attended church, brother returned home with them to dinner, they didn’t get back until after four o’clock. The horses were quite wild, refused to draw several times and then stopped coming through the gate. Brother went home soon after dinner. He expects to start over to Richmond tomorrow morning. Pa decided positively this evening that Sister could not go under any circumstances with his consent nor ever should again. We all retired quite early. – – A great many changes have taken place within the last week, but I don’t think they have affected anything. I know I am no happier than I was a week ago. Oh! I could not well be much more miserable than I am. “Spirits” of peace, where are ye? Are ye all gone? And leave me here in wretchedness behind ye?”William Shakespeare, Henry VIII, iv. 2.
Quite an unpleasant day to us all. I have been in a state of suspense all day whether or not I could go to Walkerton, but decided at last that the wind blew too hard and gave it out. – – Sister and myself were invited over to Mrs. Hill’s to an oyster supper. I got ready, had the buggy hitched and all to go but gave it out afterwards, spent the evening up in my own room alone grieving over the past, instead of trying to do better in future. This has been a very unhappy evening to me. – – Pa spent the day at Woodbury, returned home to supper. Mrs. Hill sent Ma over some very nice oysters in shells. Zac found a wild duck out in the potato patch, something rather rare. – – Sister made the skirt to her mousdelaine. I cut out the lining to my red mousdelaine and a new body to my blue berage.
I arose quite early. Pa is better than he was, he left for Woodbury shortly after breakfast. Ma went down soon after and carried Clary, Hannah to have the floors scoured and windows washed. Sister spent the day with Mag, I have been quite lonely all day, wrote a long letter to Tave and one to Lilie also. This has been one of the most pleasant days we have had for a long while. – – I don’t know why, but an evening like this my heart feels I scarcely know how, will there ever come a moment when my heart will find breath and utterance for its visions? O for a superior being ever near me, kindly, serenely superior, yet human; not so much stronger than myself, as wiser, better, gentler, grand; the idea that I may sometime or other find such a being and that such will be to me a dear and ever present friend seems to give my soul wings; even the hope is a joy. – – The family returned home quite late. Sister is the most anxious person to go over to Richmond to the Fair I ever saw. I hope Pa will let her go as she is so anxious, but I am afraid not. He is so busy. Mag & brother had contemplated going over Friday, but the rain this week will prevent their going till Monday, on account of not having finished seeding his wheat. – – Bil caught an old “Mollie Hare.”
I arose as usual. Pa is still very much indisposed. Sister and myself have been quilting all day right steadily, we finished it tonight about ten o’clock, which I think was very quick work. It is quilted very nicely indeed. Uncle Edmund came by to see Pa on some business this evening, he expects to go to Baltimore tomorrow. Pa ventured to ride down to “Woodbury” with him this evening, but doesn’t feel so well from it tonight. This has been a steady rainy day. The children remained at home again. Bake has been unable to go at all during the week for want of shoes. I have commenced teaching Ed and Zac regularly again. The weather is too cold for them to go to Uncle Edmund’s anymore. Bil sent up some very nice cat fish from Woodbury.
We arose quite early as usual. Pa returned shortly after breakfast. He was quite sick at Woodbury last night. He went to bed as soon as he got home. Sent to school for Bil to go down to Woodbury and attend to seeding wheat. Mr. Rouse is sick at home. – – Sister put her quilt in the frame this morning, but we didn’t commence quilting until after dinner. I think it will be very pretty. She is quilting it in shells.
We arose very early. Pa returned home after breakfast, spent the night at Mr. Pollard’s. I truly wish Pa never could see Mr. Pollard again as long as he lives. I know he would be much happier and so would his family. He left for Woodbury as soon as he had eaten breakfast, but his “Friends” could not possibly permit him to pass the Ct. House, so he got down and there spent the day. Ma thinking he had gone down to Woodbury, went down there in the buggy soon after he left and spent the day, expecting him to return down every moment. Bartlett carried down a cut of meat meal, fish, vegetables, &c. for the workmen, sawyers and ditchers. Ma did not return till quite late, she came by to see Mag & brother. – – Sister received a letter from Lilie & one from Tave also, begging us to come over to the Fair. Ma has given her consent for us both to go, but Pa objects. – – I saw ice this morning a half inch thick. I don’t remember of ever seeing any as thick before in Octo. I am afraid we shall have a very severe Winter. It has been said by very aged persons that this was one of the warmest Summers ever known. Ma brought Woodbury keys home with her. Pa sent James up for them while we were at supper. He sent word he would spend the night down there. – – Clary finished today seven pair of every day pants for the boys. Their nice ones Ma has had made several weeks since she has also had all of the servants’ clothes made for two or three months.
- Friends has been actually underlined twice, with thick lines.↩
A more disagreeable day we couldn’t well have. It is cold as December and raining and blowing harder than I ever saw. The children all remained at home. Pa left for Court about twelve, it is now about the same hour at night and he has not yet returned. Sister and myself are going to sleep down in the chamber with Ma. The rest of the family have been asleep for two or three hours, but from some cause I never have any inclination to sleep. My mind is too much disturbed for it. I have been writing & reading all day.
I arose as usual. Mag, brother and all the family, save Pa, Ed, Zac and myself attended Jerusalem. Old Dr. Duval preached. Mag left dear little Herbert in my care, he is the best child I ever saw. She and brother returned home in the afternoon. I retired to my room shortly after they left. – – Oh! I never felt so perfectly lonely in my life. The Future, Oh! how dark.
Where are now the hopes I cherished
Where the joys that once were mine?
Gone forever, all have perished! (I fear)
I feel so wretched sometimes that I am almost tempted to commit suicide. I see no reason why I should desire to live a day longer. It has been a long while since I enjoyed any real happiness, aye very long and I don’t know how much longer it will be before I do. Perhaps never again.
True happiness is not the growth of earth
The soil is fruitless if you seek it there:
Tis an exotic of celestial birth
And never blooms but in celestial air
Sweet plant of paradise! It’s seeds are sown
It’s here and there a breast of heavenly mould
It rises slowly and buds, but ne’er was known
To blossom here —- the climate is too cold.
R. B. Sheridan
- The first three lines from ”Where Are The Hopes I Cherished” from the opera La Norma, by Vincenzo Bellini (1708-1783). The “I fear” is Rose.↩
- This frequently reprinted poem is most often attributed to simply “Sheridan.” The R.B. Sheridan here certainly refers to Richard Brinsley Sheridan (1751-1816).↩
I find myself very little better than I was yesterday, awoke this morning with a very bad headache. Spent the day making something, made 25. – – Mag & brother came down this evening, brought Herbert and spent the night. – – Pa took supper at Mr. Pollard’s, returned home about one o’clock. – – Mag is very anxious for us to go over to Richmond with her and brother next Saturday to the great “Agricultural Fair” but I know Pa will not agree for us to go.
- This Agricultural Fair was the proto-Virginia State Fair. It was held at the edge of Richmond at the Public Square, now Monroe Park.↩