Tuesday, June 22d. I spent the morning in writing farewell letters, and making the final preparations for leaving. At one o’clock I went on board the “Manhattan,” which was still quite empty. In order to have something to do by which to while away the slow dull hours yet remaining, I commenced writing a letter. None of my friends or acquaintances being with me, I bid all my farewells by note. But such writing! Though the vessel was locked to the pier by immense cables, still she was anything but steady. As passengers began to multiply, acquaintances were formed. By and by the stewart came around, and assigned to us our berths. Ship government is monarchic in form. The officers have almost absolute authority, and the passengers, like bashful pupils, do their best to learn the new rules and regulations and adapt their conduct to them, as soon as possible, so that nobody may find occasion for making observations or passing remarks. All these things remind one very much of a first day at school. As
The Parting Hour
approaches, large numbers of the friends and relatives of some of our passengers, came upon deck to bid good-by. Some cried, others laughed, and many more tried to laugh. Some that seemed to relish repetition, or were carried away by enthusiasm and the excitement of the hour, shook hands over, and over again with the same person. At 3:00 o’clock p.m., the gangway was lowered and the cables were removed. A shock, a boom, and the vessel swung away and glided into the river! The die was cast, and our fate was sealed. Shouts and huzzas rent the air, as the steamer skimmed proudly over the waves, while clouds of handkerchiefs, on deck and upon the receding shore, waved in the air as long as we could see each other. Down, down the river glided the steady “Manhattan,” and our thoughts began to run in new channels. “Good-by! dear, sweet America,” thought we a hundred times, while we watched the retreating shores; perhaps our thoughts were whispers! Europe with its innumerable attractions, its Alps, Appennines and Vesuvius, its castles, palaces, walled towns, fine cities, great battle fields, ancient ruins and a thousand other milestones of civilization, lay before us; but a wide Ocean, and all the dangers and perils of a long sea voyage lay between us and that other—longed for shore.
The question whether we would ever realize the pleasure of a visit to the Old World, was now reduced to the alternatives of success, or failure by accident or disease.