“Travelers and Traveling” from 1860

I stumbled across this article, “Travelers and Traveling” by Mary A. Denison in Peterson’s Magazine from 1860.

I rather enjoyed the first part, but then it took quite a twist.

“Think for a moment of the masses moving in every direction. From homes of wealth and of poverty they come – from the emigrant’s little cabin of mud by the wayside, and the palace of the titled noble – on the they throng, men, women, and children – sick and well – joyful and sorrowful. Some are in the first flush of wedded happiness, on their bridal tour – some are leaving the home of youth and childhood, where they have been sheltered and fondled, to seek a scanty living in a heartless world. Some go at the call of husbands to the land of the golden mountains – some to while away a leisure that is wearisome, to fill a void no earthly pleasure can satisfy. What endless packing of trunks and bags is perpetually in progress from the rising of the sun till its going down! Did you ever think of it, reader? How all th avenues of commerce are crowded with the constant coming and going of articles needed for transportation. Fourteen trunks carried off from the steps of our next door neighbor, who is going to show her two or three dozen new “loves” of dresses at Saratoga. “That place where really noblemen go sometimes, dear!” Truly man (and woman too) is a living locomotive, under full pressure, flying flashing from town to town, from country to country, never at rest, puffing and blowing, and steaming it through the world. Those who have pockets full of money, and can afford to wait for detention of boat or car, ought to enjoy all the delights of traveling. They can stop when they please, put up at the most expensive hotels, keep a hody-guard of waiters about them, all the time, by a liberal supply of the cash – be stared at, talked about, admired, and envied to their hearts’ content. To such, there is scarcely a higher pleasure than to make a sensation. They love to hear the sly side of communication, “Guess he’s rich.” They love to sit in state, on the right hand of the master of ceremonies – to have the wants of their wives and daughters attended to first, and themselves listened to as “Sir Oracles.” So, their little hearts are contented. Then they smack their lips, and talk smoothly of the little things, whose cognizance has chanced to pass through the avenue of their very limited brains. Others, languid and faint, to whom a straw is a burden, endure with indescribable anguish the discomforts of travel. How often have we seen some pale face, touching in its uncomplaining sorrow, leaning wearily upon the seat of car or steamboat! When the bosom is burdened with sighs, and brain and heart are throbbing with pain, the loud laugh of the throughtless, the chit-chat of the happy, the bounding steps of the little child – how strange they seem! One thought only fills the mind – one star shines through the deep gloom – it is the thought and the star of home! They are going home! The dear, old mother is there. At her touch the fires of the brain will sink into slumber; the heart will throb less heavily. The pillow and the couch are waiting there – the voice of love – the prayer of faith. So long the earth –weary for heaven! Sometimes there is a fugitive from justice on board, who sits in sullen silence, with clenched hands and teeth, and hat drawn over his brows. He dares not look at a single face, for he feels that on his own is branded an indelible mark. As the train nears the village or the town, he cowers in deadly fear, for he knows the very lightnings[sic] have proclaimed his guilt, and the officers of outraged justice are on his track. Poor, guilty wretch! was the paltry gain worth all this shame and anguish? The selfish traveler makes his mark. The windows shall be shut and opened, as his sovereign will dictate; though the winds, soothing to him, strike the chill of death through a tenderer frame, he never disturbs his precious self. He is an unabated nuisance – turn him out. It is passing strange, that many travelers, especially mothers with little children, will not take the precaution to provide themselves with water for the journey; a flask and dipper, or tumbler, would not take up an inconvenient amount of room, and would save much annoyance. Once, in traveling, we were seated near a little family, consisting of a mother and two children – one of whom was quite ill – and an aged grandparent. For the first part of the journey all went well, water could be obtained at the depots, to cool the parched lips of the little stranger. But night came on – a stormy night of wind and tempest, and the child grew very sick and impatient; we seem to hear her moaning little voice, faint, weak, and imploring; we see those large, languid blue eyes floating in tears. “Drink, mamma! – drink, drink, mamma!” resounded at constant intervals, accompanied sometimes with bitter cries. We wondered that we had not thought of obtaining water. The mother, worn out with watching and fatigue, burst into teas and sobbed piteously, while the little voice kept up its pleading, monotonous cry, “Drink, mamma, drink!” The fever burned her lips; her cheeks blazed; her breath was like fire – yet no water could be had for love or money, along the route of the rushing train. Think of it, the child was dying of thirst – absolutely perishing for water – and the thoughtless mother had no resort but teas. Could they but quench the poor child’s thirst, we could have wept till morning. Alas! when morning came the little sufferer had put on wing. She died in the cars, and – here we will leave the subject. It may induce some to think.”

Published in: on September 18, 2012 at 1:00 am  Comments (1)  
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  1. Reblogged this on If I Had My Own Blue Box: and commented:

    Today’s reblog


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