Works of Annie Fields


 
Diary of a West Indian Island Tour
by
Annie Fields
1896

Part 10:  Miscellaneous Pages


[These pages are first in the microfilm of the archive folder.  Most, but not all, appear to be earlier drafts torn out of the bound journal.  When this seems helpful, notes indicate where similar material appears in the main journal.  Usually, Fields's dates mark the corresponding passages.]

Page 3

Jan 10th 1896.  We left the harbor of Brunswick, Georgia on a steam yacht Hermione* bound for "Jupiter Inlet" or Palm Beach.* (It was a fine ship {,} one of those since bought by the government during the war)*  We had an idea that a steamship bound on a pleasure excursion, with plenty of [time ?] and as short distances as possible to cover, would avoid most of the disagreeable experiences of ships bound on business; but we were fifteen hours ^in steaming^ from Brunswick to Jupiter Inlet, tossed in [the ?] stormiest of seas, the waves beating inside the bar when we reached it before dawn, in a way to make it dangerous to anchor and impossible to land.)  We were disappointed to find no resting place after such a night, but we steamed away again, cheerfully enough to Nassau where ^whither^ we arrived ^at last but only^ after an additional twenty-four hours on the unquiet seas. After We were glad to find shelter in that peaceful harbor.  The next day being Sunday we were happy to rest and do nothing.  Only very good amateur sailors can recover immediately after such a voyage. 

 Note

during the war:  That Fields refers to the Hermione as having been "bought by the government during the war" introduces a complication regarding the composition date of this passage.  While these pages appear to be earlier drafts of the diary that were rejected and removed, this one may have been written much later.  According to "The Yacht Photography of J. S. Johnston," the Hermione was sold to the United States Navy in 1898, converted into a gunboat, and renamed the Hawk; she then provided service in the Spanish-American War.  Almost certainly, then, this page was composed after the Spanish American War.  This would suggest that Fields may have intended to prepare at least some parts of the diary for publication, though perhaps she only meant to produce a more readable account for herself.


Monday ^Jan^ 13th  [Deleted words] Nothing could be more surpassingly satisfyingly tropical than the scene as we looked about us this morning{.}

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*The place was empty as the sky of clouds.  ^From this point we see that^ the whole island [Several deleted words] ^has^ grown ^up^ [Deleted word] on a coral reef and looking inland upon the almost impenetrable jungle we discover an untamed wilderness which is never entered except by hunters after beasts or game.  The whole island is full of pits {,} apparently [bottomless ?] salt water tombs for the reckless.  These pits are covered with branches at the top and any rider who is not very conversant with the place -- may disappear in various deep sea hollows and never be seen again.  The island is [filled ? unreadable word] of huntsmen who have disappeared slain by beasts or stung by serpents, but these treacherous hollows are a more likely solution of the [deleted word] ^mysteries^.  There seem to be few traces, if any of dangerous beasts upon the island the sea furnishing strange creatures enough as one may see in any of the numerous shell-shops along the shore of Nassau --

Jany 17.  We were rowed ashore under a clouded sky; a rare thing indeed to see clouds except during the rainy season.  The contrast to the brilliant sunshine of the past week was very restful --, and has softened



Page 5

one side and forests of cocoa palms interrupted by ^almost^ interminable Sisel [Sisal?] passes on the other, again interspersed by gardens of roses and pointsettia [poinsettia.]  The power of seeing could not keep pace with the wonders continually attracting us.  Ah, the roses!  after all, they were the chief joy and we returned to the ship at night laden down with these.  The first day in [deleted word] a new world can of course never be repeated, but day after day as we lingered in the harbor of Nassau the sense of a different world ^existence from any we had known^ became more and more distinct.  The questions which surround ^the people of the north^, the activity, the expenditure of nervous energy, all that makes the United States a living power such as the world has not seen before, is unheard of here

The following day we again went ashore. We Once more ^we^ saw again our pretty maiden sitting within an arbor of cocoa palms skilfully [skillfully] attached to the posts of the hotel piazza in such a way as to make a total defense against wind, sun, or observation.  Within her screen was a little table and coffee after dinner and someone tinkling the mandolin and now and then singing with ^a^ pleasant voice.  I was fascinated by the [deleted word] graceful picture, by the occasional song [deleted word] the tinkling strings, and above

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all, it must be confessed by the pretty girl.  We strolled about, not too near, enjoying the almond trees, the odors and the strange flowers, but always returning to our [unreadable word island ?] of vantage to [deleted word] ^watch^ the [deleted word] drama.  Presently, two figures arose and descended to the hall below, where the lady bade farewell to the gentleman ^[deleted word]^ who accompanied her ^farewell^.  Young as she was her manner was incomparable.  I am sure Juliet did no better for her Romeo in public!

In the afternoon with the [deleted word] idea of "doing something", rather [unnecessarily ?] brought to this island, we took a longer drive to the opposite shore [deleted word] ^in order to see^ some strange caves fronting the [deleted words] ^ocean^ upon this side.  Prospero and Miranda were cognizant of this place, not unworn by the feet of Caliban, a strange silent shore.* [deleted word] now, however where only the traces [deleted words] whither no [deleted letters] human beings have much reason to stay ^go^.  Perhaps the sponge divers who pursue ^their^ [deleted word] "dreadful trade" about these reefs may sometimes land here or a wrecker or smuggler hide his unlawful possessions in these coral caves but in the sunny light of a summer, although January afternoon


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the most desirable spot for a residence in the English possessions here.  It is certainly pretty enough if it were not speechless and vacuous -- but this is doubtless changing rapidly.  Whether the distance from England makes this a difficult office to fill or whether the military station [is of  ?] great importance I cannot say, but the remuneration is not small.  The salary of the Governor is two thousand pounds a year beside the house and grounds.  This income is not a high price ^to receive^ for a life of exile, but it is rather high for compared with the expense of living in Nassau where to a casual observer it would seem to be necessary "to lay waste and destroy" the whole place before ^in order to spend^ one fourth of the amount.

            The true lover of the South however need ^will^ not consider these things.  Here is constantly reserved the grace and charm of ^men's^ existence ^may be felt if anywhere^.  Every growing thing moves ^touches^ the spirit to ^with^ a new delight.  The first leaf of the oleander he espies will move him to worship and to love.  At every turn he will stand speechless with ^silent before^ the increasing unceasing beauty.  As we drove that afternoon with the sea all great and bare on the


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the almond trees and the delicate stains of color on walls and gates and town wherever they were seen peeping out between or above the foliage.

In the afternoon we skirted along the shore of the island, passing a huge constabulary barracks for soldiers, and business [three deleted words] ^establishments^ also certain pretty walled gardens with small houses in them overlooking the sea.  When we remembered that this is the month of January, we reflected upon the comfort in existence one might find, embowered here among flowers, near enough to the sea ^ocean^ to feel no excessive heat; no telephone, no business, nothing to break the current of the hours.  Here ^such [unrecognized word] are^ only too near the Kingdom of Nirvana to be of ^general^ value to the people of this world, but it is [left ?] ^such^ ^they^ must from time to time attract the individual who has ^with^ a special work to do which requires retirement, or the invalid [deleted letter] who ^can^ bring his own companions.  There really seems to be a very small contingent in Nassau to satisfy the social instinct.  The [deleted word] Governor ^of the Bahama Islands^ lives here holding an office of no small [political ?] and who is a [deleted word]  Therefore we may conclude that the island of New Providence along the north shore of which Nassau stretches for three miles and a half  [deleted word] for three or four miles, is


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its splendors by an impenetrable frame-work of dark.  A "silk-cotton" tree of gigantic size especially attracted our wonder.  It is own cousin to the elephant -- its ^his^ prototype in plant life.  The huge bulk and the strange gray wrinkled surface of the bark gives one a sense that arm is a proboscis and will soon be approaching to ask a biscuit.  Its huge pedestal so to speak, for it is ^was^ too unlike an ordinary tree-trunk to be called by that name, was a giant foundation from which a whole ^green^ world  [two deleted words] ^or^ bird land stretched up above.  We had never seen so huge a tree nor one more beautiful in its upper kingdom of greenery in spite of a sense of monstrosity below.

[Deleted word]  Why should one sit inside anywhere on such a day!  The "patio" or "compound" of the hotel ^as it might be called^ was evidently the true gathering ground for a small group of Nassau people.  A young girl in a white muslin dress with two or three gentlemen of ranging hues of complexion especially attracted me.  The soft olive tint of her skin and the real charm of manner she possessed apart from a certain beauty compelled me to turn for an instant in her direction whenever the least chance offered.  She was [deleted word]  Her native loveliness was the human expression to which we had been led up by the soft air.  The Hibiscus blossoms


Notes
 
The place was empty as the sky of clouds:  In the main journal, the events of this section are dated January 12 - 16.

Prospero and Miranda ... Caliban:  These people are main characters in William Shakespeare's The Tempest.



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The consul's house was not far away but the heat seems to make walking impossible.  it is built as usual with houses in this part of the world of limestone or cement or both with shingled roof.  The blinds were of course closed everywhere, the function being to keep out heat.  The consul's wife was born in Nassau and although she thinks the climate of Inagua delightful, the solitude is evidently terrible indeed.  There is no physician and very little of anything here.  Everything must be sought in a sailing vessel crossing the frightful seas three or four hundred miles in extent between Inagua and Nassau.  The ^now^ disused salt works of this island seemed to be the most interesting point for strangers to visit and just before noon we started for a drive in open carriages.  In spite of our umbrellas and the month of January, the intolerable rays of the sun dazzled and made one faint.  At last after ^passing^ a long ^great^ distance we came upon long level stretches of sand separated by low dykes where the water had been shut in and left to evaporate in the scorching heat.  The whole scheme was a failure, but the wild wide stretches of sand and shallow water were very impressive even at noon day.  Strange effects indeed must be seen here at sunset and under the moon


Note

This material appears in the main journal in the entry for January 23.



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money and what they must have is usually earned in the neighborhood of the hotel.  They supply fruit and flowers and eggs and chickens and labor and appear to be trusted and trustful and by no means of the lowest types.  Leaving these villages we drove through a track in the wilderness half desert and half forest. As we again approached the sea the palmetto trees assumed a more wonderful beauty than elsewhere.  The sun was near its setting and touched the waving branches with gold.  We stopped to listen to the stillness and to see as far as the eye could reach these vast gently moving boughs.  wherever a breeze reached them  They ^trees^ did not grow too close to each other but were interspersed with Sisel which grows ^stands^ low and must be a protection with its long ^sharp^ swords.  A climbing shrub or vine was just bursting into yellow blossoms about us.  The peo natives called it "blossoming elder."  It gave a gayety to the scene.  We began to hear the calling of the waves as we drove on and knew that we were again near the coast.  How beautiful it

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was as we suddenly reached it  Only those really know who have been [deleted word] ^lost^ for a while in a wood and find themselves unexpectedly face to face with the light and splendor of the sea.

            At nightfall our good impressions of the colored people were corroborated.  Somewhere during our long excursion the precious "code" book for telegraphic messages had been dropped and one of the party insisted upon going back, taking fresh horses and searching the whole ground until it should be found.  This proposition in the darkness of the night seemed preposterous but returning to the hotel a little child ^girl^ was seen running with something in her hand.  It was the precious book which fell from the carriage in passing through one of the villages and the child ran the whole distance in order to find us before we sailed away. 

We sailed away from Nassau the 20th day of January.  For nearly three days and two nights we were tossed ^perpetually^ in the roughest of seas.  In the afternoon of the third day we dropped anchor in the roadstead of the Island of Inagua a large but very sterile island.


Note

This material appears in the main journal in the entry for January 20.


Page 13

We lay on deck [deleted word] breathing the delicious air, but too weak after the voyage to do more than lazily look about us.  The American consul visited the ship inviting us to land, but we were too tired to do more than [deleted word] promise a visit to the Consulate on the following day.  Happily each new place was a stimulus to [deleted letters] ^our^ curiosity.

Jan. 23d  It was ten o'clock before we left the ship.  Early enough in the North, but the pitiless sun was already sending piercing darts upon our heads.  The Consul was [deleted word] ^waiting^ on the beach to welcome us but there was no more arrangement for landing than there was in the days of Columbus [nor when this ?] island was first created.  All night we had listened to the waves as they dashed upon a neighboring cliff or rolled upon the beach, and the breakers were still high although there had been no storm.  Some of the gentlemen leaped upon from the boat while some of the ladies were carried [deleted letters] by the [deleted word] captain; others deftly leaped and ran to the dry verge.

Note

This material appears in the main journal in the entry for January 23.


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There was a certain magnificence in the scene as we came out, [deleted word] the Governor and his party were escorted home by in state by the colored soldiers --

All the afternoon was spent in the open air.  We found a strange wild gap cut from the shore and leading inland up to a stone stairway called the Queen's Staircase on the top of which is said to be the highest point of the island.  There is also a small half-ruined castle called Fincastle nearby.  Doubtless this was once a place of refuge and defense; the peaceful name of the Queen's Staircase [evidently ?] belonging ^perhaps^ to later days.  The cool fresh wind blowing on the height was a great invigoration to mind and body.  We never found the same again during our trip except for one brief day in the mountains of Jamaica --  We walked until sunset descending slowly by winding paths until we found ourselves again among [jessamine and roses ?]. 

            We drove one day back from the coast among a series of little villages where the negroes have established themselves in rose-covered cottages and where their children enjoy an undisturbed idyllic life.  They require very little

Note

This material appears in the main journal in the entry for January 19. 




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^The next morning was supremely beautiful after the rain.^ [seven deleted words, the last of which is Nassau]  There was nothing to do but what we had ^already^ done  Therefore we confined ourselves to loitering and basking ^on the upper deck of the yacht, watching the changing peacock^ [next words inserted down the right margin] hues of the water with [vessels ?] and boats coming and going in the fresh breeze  [Four deleted lines]

 The Victorian Anthology was a great stay to our spirits.  Landor's lovely poems with which the book opens seemed to belong to the spot{,} "The Hamadryad" "The Death of Artemedora" and the rest, [deleted letter] indestructable {indestructible} creations, were born out of kindred beauty.

 Again in the full loveliness of the afternoon we went ashore and again loitered by the bayside, gathering roses and buying shells and fossils.  The little shell-shop opened to the sea at the back where sun-burned fishermen or "spongers" might be seeing watching our proceedings at times or gazing out to sea.  Color [deleted word] shining, blossoms every where and a stillness only to be imagined.  Even the colored children were collected like flies on a honey jar where ever we were stood silently observing us.

Sunday [howe] presented the variety of church-going.  In the brilliant morning light the [unrecognized word] [forms ?] of the ^colored^ soldiers drawn up to attend the Governor shows^ne^ resplendent.  The colored beadle at the

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door ^also a negro^ was swelling with pomposity.  He bore a long silver-topped rod of office and allowed no chance for ceremony to escape him -- The building itself was quaint place enough having gathered under its consecrated roof for long years all the English inhabitants with their joys and sorrows and a large proportion of their negro dependents.  The walls were covered with inscriptions of a character perfectly astounding to the minds of this generation; but in view of many of the unhappy exiles who have lived and died here{,} the victims of war and climatic diseases{,} they are probably not so extraordinary as they appear to our uninitiated eyes.  Carved in stone where all may read, we learn that one died of chronic dysentery and -- a woman -- three weeks after the birth [unreadable words] [deleted word] ^side by side with^ the countless records of [deleted words] soldiers who have earned their place to such small remembrance as a stone may give.

The sermon could not be called inspiring; any sense of the brotherhood of man, the subject of all others [deleted letters] needed in such a spot, seems to be an undiscovered thought and we got out into the free air with a sense of relief.  The [bright spot ?] in the service was the singing in which we joined, the fervor of the colored people giving it an uplift worth all the rest --

Note

This material appears in the main journal in the entry for January 18.



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The sea was the clearest; light greens and blues of intense color; the cocoa-palms waving their feathery tops, or by turns seeming to float like the birds in the still air.  Brown boys pressed about the ship of every shade as to skin, and every from of meagerness as to drapery.

The Captain caused the electric launch to be made ready, and as we sped rapidly to land without apparent effort a crowd collected to see the wonder; but the a large proportion of the white-toothed [deleted word] ^company^ was much more interested in watching their chances to earn a few cents by diving or standing on their heads, or other devices known to their class than in studying our craft.  Observation is not common to this class.  Their easy sensuous life disinclines them to the effort of thinking about anything.

The day was soft ^mild^ and warm with a pleasant breeze; the soft stone of the embankment, apparently of volcanic origin swarmed with black beetles, but happily they did not trouble themselves about us and we soon found ourselves walking with open umbrellas under trees and among shrubs and flowers which threw us into an ecstacy [ecstasy] of enjoyment.  The scarlet Hibiscus was in full bloom with its flame-like blossoms{.}  The "rash gazer" had no need to "wipe his eye" for nature had [unrecognized word].*

Notes

This material appears in the main journal in the entry for January 12-13.

"rash gazer" had no need to "wipe his eye"
:   See George Herbert, "Vertue."
VERTUE.

SWEET day, so cool, so calm, so bright,
The bridall of the earth and skie :
The dew shall weep thy fall to-night ;
                                For thou must die.

Sweet rose, whose hue angrie and brave
Bids the rash gazer wipe his eye,
Thy root is ever in its grave,
                                And thou must die.

Sweet spring, full of sweet dayes and roses,
A box where sweets compacted lie,
My musick shows ye have your closes,
                                And all must die.

Onely a sweet and vertuous soul,
Like season'd timber, never gives ;
But though the whole world turn to coal,
                                Then chiefly lives.



 

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although it became still more gray and thunderous in the afternoon the natives insisted that it would not rain.  We sat however under the shelter of the lofty piazza of the hotel built high above the ground floor and watched the lovely sky.  It was like the marshalling of clouds for a summer tempest at home.  Here there was no tempest; a few drops of rain fell, but softly and with none of the frightful winds which accompany such storms in others seasons upon these islands.  As evening approached we drove in the darkness and occasional soft gusts of rain to a strange phosphoric lake{,} one of the wonders of the place.  It is strange enough.  We drove out to the lake over a fine lime-stone road, with limestone walls on either hand, overhung ^happily^ with rich verdure which must temper the light when the sun shines upon the intolerable whiteness of the road way.  Now and then the walls were interrupted by fields stretches of unimproved land; or open gates which gave glimpses into the ^usually^ poor but cheerful houses of the colored people ^negroes^.  Among the other buildings was a gaily lighted school-house where some festivities were going on and ^we passed^ two or three churches where the passion for singing hymns was common to the negro was being indulged ^in^ to the full.  With these exceptions we drove on in stillness through the [deleted word] dimly lighted at first by the dying light ^down^ of the sun, but the

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blackness of the night was intense by the time we reached the strangely lighted lake{.}  Upon our arrival at the lake we were at once surrounded by small negroes asking if they might throw themselves into the water to make moonlight for our pleasure.  One leaped into a boat scattering light with every movement and others swam about as if they were made of white glory.  For once Blake's little black boy would have thought himself already in heaven.*  It was a weird and wondrous scene.  The blackness and silence all around and the [deleted letters] whiteness of the water wherever it was touched ^stirred^ made the landscape all around like some ^a^ thing of the imagination.  It was no longer the common world and the scene did not belong altogether to the senses --

            The "Hermione" never looked so gay as when we returned later that evening.  The clouds had vanished; stars and new moon were  hanging above us; and flowers and men in uniform were really swaying about or reflected in the clear water, clear beyond imagination.  The glamour of the yacht life under such circumstances must for once be admitted

Note

This material appears in the main journal in the entry for January 17.

Blake's little black boy:  Almost certainly, Fields alludes to William Blake's "The Chimney Sweeper" in Songs of Innocence," but it is possible that she also had in mind the poem of the same title in Songs of Experience.



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Something that neither sunset nor moonlight [deleted word: exactly, overtly ?] ^are likely to^ furnish ^however^ was given to us in the silver shimmering heat.  As we gazed far away over the dazzling sands we saw a^n^ [deleted word and inserted word] of red flamingoes, looking as tall as men and standing ^still^ in long ranges reflected like people ^rosy^ sunset clouds in the wet surface beneath.

 The scene has left an ineffaceable memory.  The intolerable heat, the wild shore, the endless sand, -- and these birds, glowing innumerable, untameable, [deleted word] furnish [deleted letters] a new chamber of wonder ^recollection^ for the imagination to wander in.

             That same evening we weighed anchor and left Inagua.

 Note

This material appears in two parts of the main journal.  In the entry for January 23, Fields records the departure from Inagua, but in the entry for January 24, she inserts a description of the beach of Inagua and the flamingos she saw there.



Pages 21 - 24


[These pages fairly clearly are not part of the journal.  As the transcription of p. 21 shows, pages 21, 23-4 appear to be from a piece of fiction.  Page 22 is a diary entry dated Monday, March 11,1907 and reports a luncheon at the home of Annie Fields.  A transcription of this page appears in Chronological Collection of letters from, to, and about Jewett 1907.

 Transcription of p. 21

-- to the shore together and watched the tumbling sea.  The [unrecognized word] house is a [unrecognized word] -- Small means but perfect taste and the effect is most lovely. 

            But first and last over and above all here is the weight and shadowy death which hangs upon Charlotte -- She has a cancer we fear eating at her heart ---- Twice it has been destroyed but the [two unrecognized words] serpent seems to be gnawing at her heart -- [Such ?] pathos as there is in it --  [Such ?] power and sweetness and courage!  Poor soul!  The valley looks very [unrecognized word] dark to her but she struggles on and on, making the days sunshiny for others which are often frightfully dark to herself.

            Who can tell us what the end shall be!

 

Edited by Terry Heller, Coe College.
The original of this diary is in the collection of the Massachusetts Historical Society.  My copy is from a microfilm, available courtesy of the University of Kansas Libraries, Lawrence Kansas:  Annie Adams Fields Papers 1852-1912. Folio PS 1669.F5 Z462 1986, Reel 2.


 
Works of Annie Fields

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