Washington May 1st 1838

 

Another month gone, how time flies I am now

wavering in the balance, a feather will turn the scale, particularly

if he be in that side, which inclines, toward the Exploring

Expedition. My head is full of that, and I think I shall so with

it, though I have not yet positively decided, a little while

longer, and I will know, a Frigate will be sent to the Mediteranean

this summer, in her, or for the South Seas I will embark, Caesar

& his fortunes, various are the reasons, why I now am desirous

to go exploring.  I like Captain Wilkes, which is important, (to me)

We will not attempt to discover "Symaes’ hole", but after going as

far South as practicable, and endeavoring to ascertain whether

there be land further S that 76° 30’ ( which has been the highest

lat reached) we will afterwards be entirely among those Islands

which are yet but little known & whose inhabitants are still in

tne most primeval condition, this will be deeply interesting.

we will partly follow in the footsteps & partly go beyond the

adventurous researches of the immortal Captain Cook, whose

narration has always possessed a romantic charm for me. May ours

be a different fate from his! As regards the commander & the

cruising ground Therefore I am perfectly satisfied, further the

Passed Midshipmen will perform the duties of Lieutenants, the

watches will not come every night, & I shall have attained almost

the height of my ambition "when I take the Trumpet & direct the

movements of the ship", if I be merely a Passed Mid'n my pay

will be $120 a year, which ie a consideration, but if as it is

most likely, I should get an Acting Mastership, the pay will be

$1600, lastly several officers are going, whom I should love to

sail with again. If I go to the Mediteranean, my duties would be

of a subordinate nature (in comparsion) & my pay would remain

unaltered. This Exploring Cruise, will pass away my years of

probation more agreeably & more profitably to myself, more

agreeable because my duties will be of a higher order, more

profitably, because it will make me a seaman, if I return, my

promotion I hope will be shortly afterwards, and as a Lieutenant

I will make ray second appearance in the Medeteranean. But, I have

not yet determined, "which of the two to choose" there are some

little things which I cannot tell you of, which have some weight

& infleunce on my decision, more perhaps than my own wishes or

desires.

 

May will go, from his letter, I think his love affair has

ended unfavourably: its commencement & progress was wild &

romantic, however that enough,, he wants to go where there is none

of womankind. It is most likely, I shall bear him company,

though I may not share his desperate motives. If I should

decide for the South Seas, I will be home in June or July, If

otherwise, not until August, which month I shall then spend

at home.

 

The debate on the duel question has been going on for some

time past, & has at intervals been of an interesting & exciting

nature. Yesterday Mr. Adage replied to Mr. Tancey, who had

made some personal remarks, the house was as still as if death

had been there.  No one moved, on the floor & in the galleries

all were listening, with breathless attention, his manner earnest

& vehement, his face working with emotion, his forefinger raised

& quivering & his words, which sometimes he screamed forth, kept

me in a perpetual thrill of almost painful interest. I would

not  have missed a syllable. The old man’s feelings & pride had

been touched, by the allusions in Mr. Tancey’s speech & he pro-

ceeded to cut that gentleman to pieces in a summary & expeditious

manner.  The Chair called him to order, “Well Sir, I will cease”

and the words came forth with a startling force, that seemed too

great for his frame to bear, “but that which I have said, in

comparison to that which I would have said, is Mercy!!” his

manner & its effect on the listeners is indescribable.

 

I shall not want to witness mock feeling portrayed on the

stage, plays, I will read, never will I hear, when they acting

under the impulses of their own passions, when all is real.

 

May 2nd, I have been to the Race, & was so disgusted &

wearied that I shall not go again, the Hotels are crowded with

strangers.

 

As I was coming Home! from the course, I stepped into a

Millenery store to buy a pair of gloves.  I was ina back room

trying on several.  When I heard voices in high tone in the front

shop, the parties were, the woman of the store, & a young

gentleman, the first words I distinguised were, “Madame if you

were a man I’d nail you to the ground.  I wish you were, oh!  I’d

tear you to atoms.”  I stepped to the doorway, for I did not know,

what was the cause of all this, & I thought that perhaps  he might

forget she was a woman, and lay hands upon her, he was in a tower-

ing rage, boiling & foaming with anger, and evidentally trying to

become calm, in his words & proceedings, but no sooner had he

quieted his reproaches a little, than his feelings would obtain

the mastery over his reason, & again he would be violent, almost

to madness.  I soon understood the affair, he had come to his

house from the race, dreaming of no ill, found his young wife in

a fit, this milliner had charged her with endeavouring to steal

a pair of gloves!  I need not write more, but do you read the

story of the “Household Wreck” iin a late number of Blackmoor,

the events of which occurred most vividly to my mind, you will find

there how a husband & a wife would feel, in such circumstances,

read it, show it to those of your own sex & years, that they may

likewise, ‘tis a lesson in life.

 

Another steam boat accident, most awful, horrible in

the catastrophy.  I had rather go on twenty exploring expeditions,

than once, up or down the Ohio or Mississippi, there is no honor

or glory, no comfort or philosophy, in paying for a passage

merely to be blown to pieces.  Another conflagration, half of

Charleston S.C. has been burnt.

 

There is a young lady living in the same house with myself,

to whom I have not spoken a syllable, beyond the mere courtesies

of the table, such as helping to sihes &c, she may be 17 and is

quite pretty.  I see her three times a day, at meals, her Father

sits between us, & has never introduced us, why I cannot

pretend to say.  She leaves the table & goes to her room, I leave

& go to the Obsy or Capitol, so it has been all along, & so it

very likely will continue.  We have a slight interchange of

glances every now & then, but that is all, she is a daughter

of Judge Beary of Beaver, Penn.  I have just seen the list

of the killed by the blowing up of the Moselle, Dr. Hughes

of the Army I knew very well!  I met him on board the Pennsylvania

at Philad’a, and was with him often.  He had been 8 years on the

Western frontier, living in Barracks, with his wife & brother

officers & their families, with the worls & all that was going on in

it, he was perfectly ignorant, he had forgotten all he had known,

it was most interesting & amusing to me, to listen to his simple

remarks, but there was a wisdom in them too, and he had many a

tale to tell of life in the wild praries of the west.  He was

sick when in Philad’a & almost his only visitor was myself.  I

took a fancy to him, for his goodness & heart & loneliness

was a sufficient cause for me to cheer his hours of sickness.  On

his way to rejoin his wife & children he has met his death, &

his home that was, will be one of misery & woe, not his only,

but many others.  Mr. Casey I supose was the Ogilby’s friend,

but the Parkes, could not have been from Carlisle?  tho’ the names

agree.

 

I shall go tomorrow to hear Mad. Caradon Aller.  I have

looked for a letter from you, but have not received one, write

soon & often & remember to be particular, with love to all

 

I am your affec brother

Wm. Reynolds