1 March 1773198

    Charleston, South Carolina March 1st 1773

    The first emotion of my heart is,—gratitude to Heaven,—the second—love to my friend nearer than a brother.—How much, my dear wife, we owe to God, can only be known by reflection on the felicities we have enjoyed, those we hope:—the pleasures of our union, the dread of our seperation,—and the iminent dangers from which I have been delivered. A voyage more disagreable, dangerous, and terrible perhaps was never passed than that which landed me on this distant shore.199

    I omit lesser hardships, disappointments and affliction. I cannot say that I was ever well at sea, although I was not always very ill. My dear partner, what cause have we of thankfulness. I had not the least expectation of ever seeing you or my dear boy again. I was fully convinced that we must perish. Heaven has gratified me with satisfying a frequent wish of my heart, that I might once see Death before my eyes, as striking his dart—that I might know if possible the stability of what I lean on.—Whether the pillared firmament or rottenness.

    How often did I wish that my first and best friends knew my hazards that they might share my calamities. How often did I rejoice that ignorance freed them from pain on my account and that long expectation of hearing from me would lessen the weight of what length of time would convince them of. How often did I imprint the loss of seperation, and look forward200 to that ‘bourn’ from whence ‘no traveller returns’!201 How frequently clasp my dear boy, and view him in a wide, corrupt world, destitute of the instruction, vigilance, care, and protection of a father!

    You will doubtless wish to know what real damage our vessel sustained: and when I tell you but a very trifle to her rigging, you may be surprised. But the wonder may cease when I inform you that our ship was remarkably well found, new sails, rigging and in very fine order, active, and good seamen, and a most incomparable commander. Such precaution before danger, such vigilance, activity and firmness in it were truly astonishing. We passengers almost idolized him. But before the storm was over, all were nearly beat out–master and mariners:—as good as ever steped between stem and stern of a ship. But I must have done. The last eve202 at dusk I landed here, in better health than could be expected, especially when you are told that the wet of the Cabin, and dampness of my bed, were so great, as that the one was flowing, and the other might have been wrung. This town makes a most beautiful appearance as you come up to it, and in many respects a magnificent one. I have not been here twenty hours, although I have traversed the most populous parts of it, I can only say in general, that in grandeur, splendor of buildings, decorations, equipages, numbers, commerce, shipping, and indeed in almost everything it far surpasses all I ever saw or ever expect to see in America. Of their manners, literature, understanding, spirit of true liberty, policy and government, I can as yet form no adequate judgment. But some omen forbade ill touching the truly great, and able. All seems at present to be trade, riches, magnificence, and great affectation of state is every thing: much gaiety and dissipation. . .

    There are such a multitude of ghosts and shadows here that I make not so bad a figure on comparison. I shall give you an account of my health when I can with certainty; every thing looks favourable at present that way.203 At sea, sometimes it was extreme hot, but here the weather has been uncommonly cold. Snow and hail in plenty this last week. Want of paper compels me to put an end to converse with her, with whom I could commune with pleasure all the day long. I do not want room to say

    I am the same Josiah Quincy junr.