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Sunday, April 29, 2012

Dear Diary: I vow I will not move one step, unless carried away...

April 15, 1820

On the 15th fell the first shower of rain we had seen for six months, and on the 17th the thermometer rose to 77° in the shade. The whole face of the country was deluged by the melted snow. All the nameless heaps of dirt, accumulated in the winter, now floated over the very thresholds, and the long-imprisoned scents dilated into vapours so penetrating, that no retreat was any security from them. The flood descended into the cellar below our house, and destroyed a quantity of powder and tea; a loss irreparable in our situation. The noise made by the frogs which this inundation produced, is almost incredible. There is strong reason to believe that they outlive the severity of winter. They have often been found frozen and revived by warmth, nor is it possible that the multitude which incessantly filled our ears with its discordant notes could have been matured in two or three days.

~Captain John Franklin, from Narrative of a Journey to the Shores of the Polar Sea, Volume One

April 17, 1771

You see, Mamma, I comply with your orders (or at least have done father's some time past) of writing in my journal every day tho' my matters are of little importance and I have nothing at present to communicate except that I spent yesterday afternoon and evening at Mr Soley's. The day was very rainy. I hope I shall at least learn to spell the word "yesterday," it having occur'd so frequently in these pages! (The bell is ringing for good friday.) Last evening aunt had a letter from Unkle Pierce, he informs her, that last Lords day morning Mrs Martin was deliver'd of a daughter. She had been siezed the Monday before with a violent pluritick fever, which continued when my Unkle's letter was dated 13th instant. My Aunt Deming is affraid that poor Mrs Martin is no more. She hopes she is reconcil'd to her father—but is affraid whether that was so—She had try'd what was to be done that way on her late visits to Portsmouth, and found my unkle was placably dispos'd, poor Mrs Martin, she could not then be brought to make any acknowledgements as she ought to have done.

~Anna Green Winslow, age 10, from The Diary of Anna Green Winslow, a Boston Girl

April 26th, 1862

There is no word in the English language that can express the state in which we are, and have been, these last three days. Day before yesterday, news came early in the morning of three of the enemy's boats passing the Forts, and then the excitement began. It increased rapidly on hearing of the sinking of eight of our gunboats in the engagement, the capture of the Forts, and last night, of the burning of the wharves and cotton in the city while the Yankees were taking possession. To-day, the excitement has reached the point of delirium. I believe I am one of the most self-possessed in my small circle; and yet I feel such a craving for news of Miriam, and mother, and Jimmy, who are in the city, that I suppose I am as wild as the rest. It is nonsense to tell me I am cool, with all these patriotic and enthusiastic sentiments. Nothing can be positively ascertained, save that our gunboats are sunk, and theirs are coming up to the city. Everything else has been contradicted until we really do not know whether the city has been taken or not. We only know we had best be prepared for anything. So day before yesterday, Lilly and I sewed up our jewelry, which may be of use if we have to fly. I vow I will not move one step, unless carried away. Come what will, here I remain. We went this morning to see the cotton burning—a sight never before witnessed, and probably never again to be seen.

~Sarah Morgan Dawson, from A Confederate Girl's Diary

April 30, 1885

At last I am free! Seated in my own room at the hotel, I look back at that prison on the hill. I had won a little interest in the hearts of the nurses in our ward; they expressed regret at my leaving. Ellen Regan, who was the first to volunteer me any kindness, said, "We shall miss you, Mrs. Pengilly, for you always had a cheerful word for every one." I did not bid all the patients good-bye, for I hope soon to return and stay with them. I would like so much to look after these poor women, who are so neglected. I will ask the Commissioners to allow me to remain with them, if only one year, to superintend the female department, not under the jurisdiction of the present Superintendent, but with the assistance of the Junior Physician and the nurses, who each understand the work of their own departments, and will be willing to follow my instructions. I will teach them to think theirs is no common servitude—merely working for pay—but a higher responsibility is attached to this work, of making comfortable those poor unfortunates entrusted to their care, and they will learn to know they are working for a purpose worth living for; and they will be worthy of the title, "Sisters of Mercy."


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