“As I have nothing else to do . . .”

Don’t you love holiday traffic when everyone seems to be on the same road, at the same time, going the same way? Imagine if you were at the mercy of the weather–or more exactly, the wind.

Recently added to our collections is a poem, penned by Alexander Bushnell (1771-1838) while on a ship traveling from Long Island back to Connecticut.  Bushnell had just been visiting his friend William Wells (1773-1855) of  Southold, Long Island. Alexander married William’s sister, Sarah in 1796. The poem tells a wonderful story, and also illustrates just how frustrating travel could be in the 18th century. No outboard motors in those days!

Bushnell wrote that the “wind was faint, and contra too out from the East it gently blew”, but they were still moving. That is until “the wind did die away and we did quick come to a stay where we did stand and look around to see the calm and silent sound”. The ship had left at 6:00 am and was becalmed soon after, until about noon.  Resignedly, Alexander wrote, “This seems my luck always to be when I set out my Friends to see to have the wind ahead or none, so I am Long in getting home.” But he did indeed make it home, and was able to send the poem to William although he had no sealing wax or wafer on board to seal the letter, as he explained on the back.

Page one of the poem.

His comment about lacking sealing wax is in the left bottom corner, opposite the address.

This entry was posted in Collections, Manuscripts and tagged , by Barbara. Bookmark the permalink.

About Barbara

Barbara Austen is the Archivist at CHS and is responsible for all of the incoming manuscripts, which means she gets to read people's diaries or mail. She has a master's Degree in Library and Information Science and has been working in the museum and historical society world for 30 years.

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