The Coast of Ireland

Mild weather greeted Eliza Baylies Wheaton on Sunday, April 27, and the ship’s crew announced sighting the Irish coast during breakfast.  Wheaton had attended religious services with other passengers that morning, and she was in her cabin reading her bible and a sermon about the ocean when Major Holman called her out onto the deck to see the view.  She declared it “novel and grand—a rockbound Coast surely.”  As the ship drew nearer the land she wrote, “We were able to see Huts and discern cultivated patches.”  Later she saw “a Church very like our N. Eng. Churches.”

In Queenstown Harbor, a small tug met the ship, which discharged the mails and a number of passengers who were taking a shorter route to London.  Wheaton described the process as “very exciting,” in contrast to “a phosphorescent display in the water,” which she found “not very brilliant.”

More impressive to her was what seemed the great heat of the ship’s smokestack, which they neared in order to dry themselves of sea spray.  “The chimney seemed very hot,” she noted, “and I felt sure they had put on all the steam they safely c[ou]ld to land before dark.”  Her anxiety returned.

Back in her stateroom, she located a life preserver and considered how to use it.  Wheaton was a small woman, and she thought the life preserver looked too big to be of use to her.  “However I rummaged up some strong twine with wh[ich] to tie it on,” she wrote, “+ inflated my own life preserver for the first time— and laid down and had considerable sleep—“

_______

Eliza Baylies Wheaton, Travel Journal, Wheaton Family Collection (MC089), Marion B. Gebbie Archives & Special Collections, Madeleine Clark Wallace Library, Wheaton College, Norton, MA.

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