The Best Passenger


Monday, September 9, 1833

“The road from Liverpool to New York, as they who have travelled it well know, is very long, crooked, rough, and eminently disagreeable. Good company even, Heaven’s best gift, will scarce make it more tolerable…

“The letter-bag is our captain’s best passenger. He neither eats nor drinks, and yet pays, at least in Liverpool, a passenger’s fare. Captain [William] Hoxie tells me that he usually carries between 4000 and 5000 letters each way. At the New York Post Office they count his letters and pay him two cents for every one. At Liverpool two pence. The last time he received in Liverpool £39 for them.

“Loud winds last night, but the ship swam like a waterfowl betwixt the mountains of sea. The wise man in the storm prays God, not for safety from danger, but for deliverance from fear. It is the storm within which endangers him, not the storm without.”

— From the journal of Ralph Waldo Emerson, written aboard the ship New York, excerpted in Across the North Atlantic (1973) by Clement C. Sawtell


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