Gosport, Va. January 1st 1837

 

My Dear Sister,

 

I hope that you have passed a happy

Christmas, and that you are now enjoying a merry New Year's,

so runs the old ‘time out of mind’ phrase,  but, will it

answer now?  Who can be merry on Sunday?  Even if it be

New Years’ day, ‘tis against all my religious principles,

to be other than serious & devout on holy days, ( I am holey

myself on all days ) & therefore to day (for ‘tis now a little

past the hour of midnight.  I watched the old year out &

welcomed the new in, in persron, an eventful year twill prove

to me)I will not be merry. I will go to church, with Miss

Mary Stark however, & will there undergo the suffering

penance, of hearing, dull drawling, stupid, Mr. Wingfield,

for two mortal hours, oh! but there is the organ & singing

included & such singing, mention it not, Ada's nay Sharp's

bark are sweet sounds to it, but no wonder, if you could

see the throat it comes from, toothless, but oh, not

tongueless, but yet, 'tis melody, for Portsmouth women,

melody for a Portsmouth congregation, a fit accompaniment

for a Portsmouth sermon, now, when my New Years Sunday is

to be passed in this ' midst, can I be merry, were I so

inclined? No, 'tis settled, you need not send back my wish

to you? perhpas tho it be Sunday, you all, will be happy if

not merry, were I with you, I would be happy too & the next

day if the wine was good, might become merry, but as I am

here, the morrow I shall become stupid with Bowditch, he &

I are almost inseparable, if he looked a little more decent,

he should answer for my prayer book & go to church, 'tis the

Midshipman's Bible you know, studied more, tho forgotten as

soon.  Well, but did you have a happy Christmas Eve, a

merry New Years Eve?  you must tell me all about it.  By

the way, Maxwell must mean Virginia, when he was speaking

of the eggnog parties, & the way the ladles drink it, in a

neighboring state,  I have been to a dozen lately & the

ladies do drink, strong & deep.  I drank lastingly, 'tis so

good, & a waltz afterward, which was better.  One old lady,

having so many beaux in her family (&such Beaux too) had one

of these delightful parties, Christmas Eve & the way I talked

& drank & played cards, & eat cakes &c & danced & drank again

& again, & as they say here, I did all with the most

extravagant looseness, went it with a perfect frivolity.  The

fact is the ladies here, have had the excellent taste to

discover & duly appreciate my general agreeability & the

best of the other good qualities of mine & I have been

dragged into Society, when I would have avoided it altogether,

but when I cenfered the favor, you know I could not refuse,

& as it does not interfere with my studies, & whiles away

an hour pleasantly.  I do not regret it very much, now do not

say I am vain, you know this is the talk of the outward man,

& that vanity is not within me, therefore I care not, what I

write to you so I fill up the letter, but facts are facts &

they are stubborn things, & as I said before, these meetings

cost me nothing & are quite delightful success to them, at

them I have met with a young lady, who has passed the two

last winters in Carlisle, & knows Mr. Hopkins very well,

Miss Norah Tucker by name, she has a brother in the Navy, &

as she is living just opposite to us, I now see her often -

en passant.  The names of the young ladies here are quite

romantic, we have, Miss Honoria & Miss Norah -Imogens' -

Priscilla's - Saccharissa's – PHOEBE’S & a hundred others too

long to write, but very sweet to pronounce, though I have to

laugh sometimes, for the persons & names are not always

appropriate, where the devil some of them were found, the

names, I mean, I cannot imagine.  I have a string of Puns

on the whole of them, but will not Punnish you by writing them

down.

 

I hope that you received my letters by Edwin

Jeffries, I saw him aboard the Steam Boat just as she was

leaving the wharf I was on board with some officers from

Philadelphia, one of whom had the letter to drop in the P.O.

there, but I transferred it to Jeffries, your last came a

few days afterwards.  I was not aware that much time had

passed without my writing, however that letter would tell

you I had not been unwell, my health is excellent, the weather

has been very mild with the exception of one or two days, but

I hug the fire, night & day.  I think some of my letters

must have miscarried, you spoke of Mother's writing to me,

the same day with yourself, but I have not had her letter yet,

the last two papers came yesterday, did you send them together

or as heretofore, do not forget them ever, & send the New

Years address.  I had to stop here & go to bed, & 10! this

morning is a rainy one.  I cannot go to church, nor see Miss

Stark & therefore will finish this letter.

 

Do you recollect Mr Frase's being taken in by a

person in Pittsburg, who said he had sailed with me,&c &c.

He was committed to jail in Washington for stealing from a

fellow lodger at Gadsby's. He is indeed a 'feller' to the

lodgers there.  The evidence against him was mostly circum-

stantial & the other day ' rec'd a letter from his lawyer,

saying that Evans had refered to me & some other officers

here, for his character, as to honesty &c, while on board the

Delaware, & that the Prosecuting attorney had consented to

receive as evidence in the court, letters from such Naval

Officers az the prisoner had sailed with in regard to his

character.  Now while he was on bard the ship he never

stole to my knowledge, but he was in a situation of no trust,

A Midshipman's mess boy, why, no one thought of him but to

abuse him, no one cared for his character, but he was aware

that we knew nothing predudicial to him in that respect, while

he was with us, & therefor counted on our opinion to clear

nia, but there’s many a slip between the cup and the lip,

little did be think I knew of his cheating Mr Fraser at

Pittsburg, & he must have been astonished when he saw the

whole circumstance detailed in my letter to his counsel, &

my belief in black & white, that be now is a dishonest man.

I am afraid that he will be consigned to that ignominious

punishment, from which, his lawyer & himself, expected my

letter to save him.  It seems to me somewhat singular, that

the written opinion of anyone, should be considered as

evidence  in a Court of Justice, & in a penitentiary crime,

without the form of an oath or affldavit, but it is reposing

a confidence in the honour & uprightness of an officer,

which would be denied to others, who were equally unknown,

but which the general chivalric & high minded character of

officers, justly entitles them to, so much for officers.

I rejoice more I more every day that I am one, 'tis a sure

passport in this part of the country, for an acquaintance

with any family & abroad, I do not wish for a prouder

title than that of an American Naval Officer. As Mr Fraser

was annoyed at being swindled & unable to catch the perper-

trater it may please him to know, that, that very circum-

stance has been the cause of his punishment for another & a

similar crime, complicated & singular are the ways of the

world & the world's people. Fate is Fate, I myself am a

pious believer in Fatalism, you know     ahead, was my motto

& trust to luck for the consequences.

 

Who is it writes Poetry at Hardwick, this I asked

you long ago, who is Ella, who figures so extensively &

moralizes so manly on the character of her countrymen, if

‘tis a woman she is a fool, if a man, he writes to no

purpose. Who is the curious nonsensical old Batchelor who

fills three of four columns, with old school boy tricks, &

a ridiculous love story, he should be ashamed to dignify it

with such a name, tell him for me, not to try again as he

has threatened, unless he improves. Have you seen published

a Fire at Sea, if you have preserve it, this I asked long

ago, & it is your not answering my questions, that leads me

to think some of my letters have just gone astray. How

does Mr Findlay & Miss S-- & how is every one else, have you

no conversations to repeat to me. I like to hear what the

Folks say. as well as how they are, so be particular, & fill

your letters do not miss any of the young ladles, & in

certain cases, be minute, you understand. Remember me to

any of them, who may ask after me, I promised Miss Wooley

you should do so to her & so do it, when you next see her,

those down in the country also, when you see them, write

often.  I wrote to Jim Ogilby the other day, in answer to

one letter from him, date Nov 17th,, he was well & now having

arriv at the end of the sheet I am, your Brother

 

William

 

I wrote to Sam two or three days ago.

 

PS For a particular reason preserve that Red handkerchief,

I gave you, from the East Indies until I return, do not

wear it again.