Section of Unsigned Letter


Dublin Core


Section of Unsigned Letter


Sky; Storms; Boats; Travel


This incomplete letter, probably written by Martha, is written aboard a ship traveling to Yokohama. The author describes the views from the boat, including the sunset and the stars. The author also talks about the various passengers and what they have been up to.


Kerr, Martha Noyes


Loose, The College of Wooster, Special Collections, Noyes Collection






Council on Library and Information Resources Hidden Special Collections Grant




eng (English)





Text Item Type Metadata


To night it is lovely outside
Bright moonlight with
fleecy [illegible] clouds
shifting about over the sky
Miss Ballard Dr Sites and
I went out to the stern of the
vessel to watch the [?spray?]
which is thrown up by the
movements of the screw
I suppose we were about
30 ft from the water. At least
that was the Dr's judgement
If so the waves dashed up
at least 38 ft during the
storm. I never witnessed a
real storm before at least
not such a one as this was.
Hitherto hath the Lord helped
us. It seems almost strange
that we shall see land to
morrow - I wonder if you
have a minister yet. It
hardly seems possible there must
be a change --

[Note: Missing a page?]

which is the highest part of
this ship except the masts.
I was however mercifully
kept from all fear. Oh I wish
you could have seen old ocean
in its majestic fury. It seemed
so wonderful that man could
construct any thing that would
be able to ride these rolling
waves in safety. At sunset
they began to cal down
and before bed time it was
comparatively smooth sailing
This morning was up early
saw the sun rise, watched the
clouds a long time, the came
down and prepared for breakfast
People are beginning to
well I was using a borrowed
ink bottle which has just had
to go back to its owners so the
pencil must come out again
After dinner - Well people
are beginning to what to get
ready for going ashore.
We expect to get into Yok
ahamma to morrow

[Note: Missing a page?]
had come for us and was
completely tired out. Do not
know where we had been
but our anxiety was to get
home on his account .
I am writing at the table
in the Saloon where we take
our meals. The boys are dusting
and cleaning up things generally
A tin of scourging dust and
a cloth seems to be the outfit
of these fellows - these they have
always in hand -
Nov 1[--9--]1th Oh we had such a beau
tiful sunset last night. The
after glow over the clouds was
splendid. Then the moon and
venus were magnificent. We
were up on deck until after 9
oclock. I watched the dipper
[?Pleades?] the V and Lyric for
a long time and sung Jesus
Lover of my soul and some other
hymns. I mean to sing all of
our hymns as we cross the ocean
I enjoy going out along and
lying in my long chair with nothing

but sea and sky about me
and thinking of you all .Last
night dreamed that a party were
coming to our house in pursuit
of me . I was to be seized and
killed do not know what for. Went
out to the barn and when they
arrived they came out Mary being
with them As we were going back
to the house the was an opportu
nity for me to escape - but just as
I was about to avail myself ot it
thought they would then take
Mary instead. I said to myself if
in going away anything happen
ed to her so I remained. At that
point I awoke with the feeling
that I was not yet fitted for a
martyr. This morning went up on
deck before breakfast to find it
raining and every thing in a
state of disagreeable moisture.
This wind is not so favorable
so we shall not make as much
progress as yesterday. Well we
shall reach Japan just when it
is best and that is enough is it

Nov 12th - This morning was
up early, went out to the stern
of the vessel and sat a long time
looking at the waves which were
larger than I had yet seen. How
I wished you could have seen
them as they three up showers of
spray - with the lovely changes of
color mad by the sun shining
upon them. The motion was very
considerable but I like sitting
there along. Can sing as much
as I like without disturbing any one
could scarcely get down from the
high seat without falling came
in quite "stuck up" but went
to breakfast all the same. Dr Sites
and I have funny times trying to
get down stairs without a down
fall. He told me to-day it was
well he had me to steady him
but - I think he has a little fear
that he may not be able to man-
age so much [?avoirdupois?] as your
correspondent possesses in a
graceful manner.

It is a matter of discussion
whether it is Thurs or Friday
at this present moment It is
now [?3?] oclock and we have just
crossed the 180° so will drop Friday
and get up Sat morning. Have
been up on deck for a little while
feel as if I was bidding good bye
to something more that bound me
to America for now we must take
up Yokohamma time. Dr sites
is writing at another table and
we just now have the dining
salon all to ourselves. He is
very busy when not sea sick
reads Chinese and I imagine is
preparing work for the future. He
has missed the conference at
Fuchau by losing the last steamer
and his thoughts are there now as
the Conference is now in session
later One of our passenger claims it
is Friday eve, but I will not agree
with her - for I want to think of the
prayer meeting at home Wish so
much I could be there -

Sat morn Nov. 14th Must say Sat
I suppose though we have had but
5 days this week as yet. We are
getting down into the warmer
latitudes. the sky looks quite
tropical- and we sit out on deck
without any thing around us. My
green dress is almost too warm
but we shall need all our wraps
when we get to Japan. Have I told
you any thing about or newspa-
per correspondent-?- She sailed
from New York to San Francisco
by way of the isthmuses and goes
on to [?Ceylon?]. Is the special
correspondent of 6 papers so I sup-
pose we shall all get done up.
Miss Annie Ballard, a very pro
nounced character. She has been
on the staff of the New York Sun
for 2 years says she has been able
to make excellent engagements
for the trip. She takes sea life
very systematically and [--phylisoph--]
philisophically - fires her questions
at you with a precission that

makes you feel you must tale
heed how you answer them lest
you should be responsible for a
false statement. She would like
to go up to Canton I am certain
but I do not feel at liberty to ask
her to become our guest. The
fact is I doubt if we are a very
popular class of community with
the lad. Mr McCormick the gentle
man from N.Y. a good christian
business man I have urged to
give us a few days if possible. He
goes out to Manilla in the interest
of some machinary which has been
sent on before and needs atten-
tion. The people there do not in
some way understand how to make
a practical use of it so he is en
route to enlighten them. Quite a
long distance to travel for the
purpose is it not-?- Opened my
black trunk to day for the first
time. Could not bear to touch the
things which were lying just as they
were packed in the dear old parlor
at home but it had to be done

I never knew how hard it would
prove to be this leaving home.
You can not know how what
A wrench it has been. Good night
God bless you all.
Nov 16th Yesterday we had
service on board. Dr Sites talked
upon the 1st Chapter of Acts -
We sang at the Captains sug-
gestion nearer my God to Thee
and Rock of Ages. None of the
ladies would undertake to play so
we sang without an instrument
Not much of a loss when we
consider what a wheezing old tea
kettle of a [illegible] we have
The Dr led in the first singing
and called upon me to start the
2nd - I was so surprised I did
not look at the [?tune?] in the book
but sung our good old one - found
afterwards it was not the one set
to the words - but was glad I did
not notice the other. It was very
warm. In the afternoon read the first
sermon in the book father gave me

It was from the middle of
Sampson. and the the dif-
ferent lions Christians have to
meet. It is a very helpful
sermon. I found out some
of the special lions I had to
fight. Have commenced
reading spurgeons evening
book so Edward and I will
think about the same verse
every night. It is such a pleas
ure to me to have that tie
and when I can get to my
trunks can read with father
in the morning. Mr Sites and
I had another nice talk to
day. He would be a nice
pastor to have I think - so
kind and helpful. He told me
he had enjoyed a very happy ex
perience since coming on
board - a new coming into the
light - a renewed amounting for
his work. Good night sung and played
[Note: Written sideways]
our sabbath hymn

We hope to get into Yokahamma
next sabbath - may remain until
Wednesday. Will have an oppur
tunity to send this immediately
from there. The American
steamers do not carry mail now
as the United States have withdrawn
the subsidy. The English strms
take it as freight - so we can
hope for letters only once a
month until some arrangement
is made to the contrary. These
men say they will not take it
as freight would rather lost the
little they would thus make than
to do it. Two [--day--] weeks from
to day I expect to go up to Canton
if all is well.
Nov 20th - Yesterday we ex
perienced a storm at sea
The waves were piled up
almost mountain high and
we rolled about fearfully -
Water came into the room
on the upper deck - and
billows washed over the very
top of the social hall

Original Format



Kerr, Martha Noyes, “Section of Unsigned Letter,” Letters from Harriet Noyes: Missionaries and Women's Education in Nineteenth Century China, accessed August 15, 2022,

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