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Letter 2
To Mrs. Saville, England
Archangel, 28th March, 17-
How slowly the time passes here, encompassed as I am by frost and snow! Yet a second
step is taken towards my enterprise. I have hired a vessel and am occupied in collecting
my sailors; those whom I have already engaged appear to be men on whom I can depend
and are certainly possessed of dauntless courage.
But I have one want which I have never yet been able to satisfy, and the absence of the
object of which I now feel as a most severe evil, I have no friend, Margaret: when I am
glowing with the enthusiasm of success, there will be none to participate my joy; if I am
assailed by disappointment, no one will endeavour to sustain me in dejection. I shall
commit my thoughts to paper, it is true; but that is a poor medium for the communication
of feeling. I desire the company of a man who could sympathize with me, whose eyes
would reply to mine. You may deem me romantic, my dear sister, but I bitterly feel the
want of a friend. I have no one near me, gentle yet courageous, possessed of a cultivated
as well as of a capacious mind, whose tastes are like my own, to approve or amend my
plans. How would such a friend repair the faults of your poor brother! I am too ardent in
execution and too impatient of difficulties. But it is a still greater evil to me that I am
self-educated: for the first fourteen years of my life I ran wild on a common and read
nothing but our Uncle Thomas' books of voyages. At that age I became acquainted with
the celebrated poets of our own country; but it was only when it had ceased to be in my
power to derive its most important benefits from such a conviction that I perceived the
necessity of becoming acquainted with more languages than that of my native country.
Now I am twenty-eight and am in reality more illiterate than many schoolboys of fifteen.
It is true that I have thought more and that my daydreams are more extended and
magnificent, but they want (as the painters call it) KEEPING; and I greatly need a friend
who would have sense enough not to despise me as romantic, and affection enough for
me to endeavour to regulate my mind. Well, these are useless complaints; I shall certainly
find no friend on the wide ocean, nor even here in Archangel, among merchants and
seamen. Yet some feelings, unallied to the dross of human nature, beat even in these
rugged bosoms. My lieutenant, for instance, is a man of wonderful courage and
enterprise; he is madly desirous of glory, or rather, to word my phrase more
characteristically, of advancement in his profession. He is an Englishman, and in the
midst of national and professional prejudices, unsoftened by cultivation, retains some of
the noblest endowments of humanity. I first became acquainted with him on board a
whale vessel; finding that he was unemployed in this city, I easily engaged him to assist
in my enterprise. The master is a person of an excellent disposition and is remarkable in
the ship for his gentleness and the mildness of his discipline. This circumstance, added to
his well-known integrity and dauntless courage, made me very desirous to engage him. A