On board the Franziska October 21, 1869.
My most reverend friend (Pastor Thiel), I have already written many letters to those in our dear homeland, and yet I haven’t addressed one to you despite my promise to write you real soon. And there hasn’t been any lack of things to write about. We have, indeed, experienced much that was joyous, splendid, sublime, but also many an hour when our hearts rose into our,throats.
I hope, you will have received my letter from the roadstead. The pilot took it back to Bremerhafen. It was dated Monday, the eighth of October. We had a strong wind and the good fortune to reach the open sea on this day. I say good fortune because toward evening a storm rose that could have endangered us if we ha been close to shore. Already during the day the passengers, with rare exceptions, suffered from seasickness.
Although, in general, this ailment is not as bad as the people on land believe, it is ‘unpredictable and difficult to treat, striking now a weak man, now a strong woman. There are men who courageously withstand it; women, as a rule, are more susceptible to it. The average passenger suffers one to one and a half days from it; however, there are from six to ten individuals who suffer as long as two weeks. Our family was fairly lucky; Von Rosenberg (father) suffered very little. But back to our storm of the eighth. In our cabin everyone lay in their berth, sick and dejected. The ship was thrown from one side to the other. Everything movable was thrown about or fell; the turmoil was horrible, but the seasickness had so sapped everyone’s strength that we could not grasp the frightfulness of the situation in its entirety. I lay exhausted, but inexplicably calm. I was resigned, and then I thought of all my friends in the homeland, and. all the frightfulness around me disappeared; all was peace and calm within me until a frightful wave struck against the side wall of my cabin and put a sudden end to my tranquillity.
None of you, my friends, can imagine the feelings that surge through us. As much as I should like to give you a description of our life,~my pen will probably be unable to depict all the little annoyances, but also all that is sublime and magnificent; however, I shall try.
One should first be aware that here in the cabin there is much, much distraction, but our Franziska ceaselessly carries us forward with a rocking motion. It is a beautiful, a splendid ship, our Franziskall The following day the storm subsided somewhat;
actually we had stormy weather for a week. On the 9th and lOth the wind was gusty and unfavorable, and we made no progress. The North Sea was full of activity, with ships passing continually. On the evening of the 10th the wind turned very favorable, and with surprising speed we reached the English Channel on the evening of the llth; naturally, the wind had to be very strong for us to cover this most dangerous part of the voyage so quickly. So, we entered the Channel during the night from the llth to the 12th. Again we couldn’t sleep; the ship was cast to and fro. We had trouble keeping to the cabin, and, in addition,.there was_the fear that the danger was significantly greater in the Channel. During that stormy night the open sea offered us safety. But this night passed and the following day too, and after 35 hours we had negotiated the narrow Channel and, full of thanks and joy, were entering the broad ocean.
How shall I describe, dear friends, how magnificent the scene is that the sea presents. Imagine our beautiful ship with swelling sails, towering to the sky, contending with the mountainous waves. Above the upper cabin is the quarterdeck. I have climbed up there only rarely because of the height; but I have often sat below the balcony of this deck, later always, with the charming, ever repeated scene before me. The waves, whipped up by the wind, rise like mountains; our little ship dips its bow, and the surging waves are about to reach, flood, and cover it, ‘but the beautiful vessel rises graciously, with dignity, and the waves sink away powerless. Again the ship arches its bow, and again the waves seek to bury it, but the Franziska rises, and the waves pass by; roaring and hissing with spray and foam. Often, though, the waves crash overboard and `baptize the passengers generously with water, and then laughter and merriment spread through the ship. Sometimes, however, we don’t find them so funny, these waves plunging across.the deck.
For hours, even days, one can watch this rising and sinking of the ship’s bow; for me it has an indescribable fascination. No one thinks of danger. Last week we had a strong, unfavorable wind. The discomfort was repeated, and seasickness in a milder form set in; the_passengers lost their appetite, etc. Now, however, with a moderate wind the voyage is proceeding at a slow but pleasant rate.
Last Sunday, after a stormy week, we had a memorable forenoon; the sailors were busy and the sea was running high when the bell called all the passengers on deck. The captain, standing before a festively decked crate, read a beautiful and fitting song from a Reformed-Church hymnal and then in a loud, vigorous voice read a beautiful, uplifting poem from the Meerestempel (temple of the sea)
with the title, “The Storm.” The poem described the situation of the emigrant from the weak child to the vigorous man, the dangers of the voyage, the storm, the rescue, the new, often disheartening, conditions in the new home. It was so moving that the eyes were flooded with tears, and forgotten were the presence of the heaving ocean, the rising and falling ship, and the, in part, poorly attired steerage passengers, who were sitting with reverent, pale faces (from seasickness) at the feet of the captain, whose words, having been written in an elevated style, they surely failed to understand.
Never yet has a ‘ship set sail with so many well-educated passengers on board. These are not only the ones occupying the 45 cabins, but in steerage there are a number of educated people. I could write letters. pages long, if II were to describe for you all that we have experienced and our surroundings. l Our steward is an extremely talented, clever, witty, young man (married), who serves his cabin passengers, seemingly without effort. The service is good, the food good and often very ample. In the morning we are given coffee — but without cream -, black bread, zwieback, and now and then ship’s zwieback however, the first will soon be exhausted. Until now it has been good, though old; in addition, either cheese, eggs, or ham.
At noon we have fresh beef soup — but that has stopped f-, and roast. A few times we had good sauerbraten (marinated meat). Friday we had pea soup, salt bacon, smoked sausage, fresh cabbage, and potatoes.
Saturday, wine soup with barley, dried cod with brown butter. Today was an exception. After the reading of verses, which again were very beautiful, in the manner of last Sunday, we had lunch consisting of two bottles of port wine, two bottles of Madeira, some Malaga for about 18 persons including 5 children. In addition, there were confectioners’ cake, crack-almonds (Knuck-
mandeln), figs, and raisins. At noon we had chicken soup, sauerbraten, rice pudding, and again wine. You can see, therefore, that we aren’t suffering want. At three in the afternoon we were served coffee – black, of course, but with plenty of sugar. The evening ‘meal is simple, usually white and black bread and tea, now and then there is also some meat. When_ in these days the food is often not to our taste, this is due in part to our physical state and in part to the manner of preparation not appealing to us. A I Since we have been sailing _farther south, the rains and hail storms have stopped, but it is not really warm yet. We are not far from the Azores. Yesterday there was moonlight, and the sea was very calm. We had gone to the upper deck; the moon lit up the great expanse of the sea, on which our ship seemed a single point. The white sails contrasted strangely with the dark sea. On the ship’s deck below us, a loud chorus composed of many young men were singing beautiful songs, now solo, now with many voices. Oh, it was a beautiful,_ inspiring evening; there were only Wilhelm (von Rosenberg), his wife (Auguste Anders-Herzberg), Lina (von Rosenberg), and myself sitting up there. The moon’s narrow crescent formed a broad band of light in the water toward us; all else lay in darkness. Below the white, rippling sails in the nocturnal darkness stood the young men, loudly singing their merry songs. Only the glowing cigars, like fireflies, betrayed their individual movements. Who of you, friends in the dear homeland,_have experienced such an evening?