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Susan’s Travel Woes

Although Susan Wallace was known as a travel writer and traveled with her husband quite a bit, she didn’t always relish the experience. From seasickness to jostling around in a buckboard, Susan occasionally had a hard time with her travels.

In The Storied Sea, she writes, “At first I was wofully seasick.” She doesn’t delve much into the details in her book, but she goes into great detail in a letter she wrote to her sister during that journey.

Lew and Susan were on the Cunard liner S. S. Parthia, which carried them in 1881 from New York to Ireland.

My Dear Sister,

What misery they escape who never go to sea! This is the first morning I have gone to the table since we left New York. I set out to be waited on, and I have been. It was a proud consolation to have Lew go back and forth with plates of things I could not touch, and to see the chamber maid, who is a man, run for ice. . . Each morning I have struggled into my wrapper [house dress] and ulster [overcoat], clutched Lew and staggered upon deck where the wretched remains of a body I once fondly called my own, have lain in a reclining chair till the next time to make an effort to eat . . .

A black and white photo of the Cunard steamliner S. S. Parthia. Susan would travel on this ship to Europe.
Cunard steamliner S.S. Parthia

The servants and crew are English, of course, and I despise ‘em. I despise everything I see and mean to continue despising till the end of the voyage.. . The water splashes on one side of me and the engine pounds like a tremendous bass drum in my ears. Besides them there are divers [many] bells and whistles and calls for Edward. I don’t know who Edward is but a person of great consequence, no doubt, whoever he is, I hate him. . .

How I shall rejoice to see the dry land. I wonder what the Noah-chians did in that year ‘the Lord shut them in.’ . . .The land is not far off now. We have had a most calm and prosperous voyage, and thought of seeing the green earth again is inspiriting. The chief objection to the sea is that there’s so much of it. . . .The sea is ruinous, the breeze cracks your skin and reddens it like paint. . .”

Considering how much Susan suffered from seasickness, it’s little wonder that, upon returning back to the United States in 1884, she refused to go back with Lew to the Ottoman Empire for the remainder of his posting!

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