We find that, on July 24, 1858, Morse sailed with his family, including his three young boys, his mother-in-law and other relatives, a party of fifteen all told, for Havre on the steamer Fulton; that he was tendered a banquet by his fellow-countrymen in Paris, and that he was received with honor wherever he went. Travelling with a large family was a different proposition from the independence which he had enjoyed on his previous visits to Europe, when he was either alone or accompanied only by his wife and niece, and he pathetically remarks to his brother Sidney, in a letter of September 3, written from Interlaken: “It was a great mistake I committed in bringing my family. I have scarcely had one moment’s pleasure, and am almost worn out with anxieties and cares. If I get back safe with them to Paris I hope, after arranging my affairs there, to go as direct as possible to Southampton, and settle them there till I sail in November. I am tired of travelling and long for the repose of Locust Grove, if it shall please our Heavenly Father to permit us to meet there again.”
[Illustration: MORSE AND HIS YOUNGEST SON]
Before returning to the quiet of his home on the Hudson, however, he paid a visit which he had long had in contemplation. On November 17, 1858, he and his wife and their two younger sons sailed from Southampton for Porto Rico, where his elder daughter, Mrs. Edward land, had for many years lived, and where his younger daughter had been visiting while he was in Europe. He describes his first impressions of a tropical country in a letter to his mother-in-law, Mrs. Griswold, who had decided to spend the winter in Geneva to superintend the education of his son Arthur, a lad of nine:—
“In St. Thomas we received every possible attention. The Governor called on us and invited Edward and myself to breakfast (at 10.30 o’clock) the day we left. He lives in a fine mansion on one of the lesser hills that enclose the harbor, having directly beneath him on the slope, and only separated by a wall, the residence of Santa Anna. He was invited to be present, but he was ill (so he said) and excused himself. I presume his illness was occasioned by the thought of meeting an American from the States, for he holds the citizens of the States in perfect hatred, so much so as to refuse to receive United States money in change from his servants on their return from market.
“A few days in change of latitude make wonderful changes in feelings and clothing. When we left England the air was wintry, and thick woolen clothing and fires were necessary. The first night at sea blankets were in great demand. With two extra and my great-coat over all I was comfortably warm. In twenty-four hours the great-coat was dispensed with, then one blanket, then another, until a sheet alone began to be enough, and the last two or three nights on board this slight covering was too much. When we got into the harbor of St. Thomas the temperature was oppressive; our slightest summer clothing was in demand. Surrounded by pomegranate trees, magnificent oleanders, cocoa-nut trees with their large fruit some thirty feet from the ground, the aloe and innumerable, and to me strange, tropical plants, I could scarcely believe it was December....