White, Edward Young
Manuscript Diary, Groton, Massachusetts, 1846

small quarto, original roan spine, heavy paper wrappers, front cover detached, 88 pages of manuscript entries dated from July 15, 1846 -December 5, 1846, neatly inscribed in a small, legible hand, very good.

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Manuscript diary of a well educated young man, his entries are detailed, literate and leave a sensitive, introspective record of White's thoughts and activities. White's diary is also of interest for its record of White's inner struggles, with his faith, and his own "worldly desires." White's diary entries and writing seem to help him tremendously as a source of release.

White is engaged in the practice of dentistry. He travels extensively, attends the latest social functions, and records his thoughts or day's events, while sitting by his window with pen and paper in hand surrounded by his books. White, born circa 1820, is a member of one of New England's oldest family's, one of his ancestors, Peregrine White, is said to have been born on the Mayflower in Provincetown Harbor, November 20, 1620, the first native-born New Englander.

Some examples of events in White's diary are as follows: Benjamin Haydon's suicide, a renowned schoolmarm by the name of "Whiting", long detailed descriptions of Boston, the New Swedenborgian Chapel, a rather famous architect named "Billings", White's visit to the Gallery of Paintings and Statuary, his witness of three men forcing a knife on another man, sailing on "Sandy Pond", a description of the city of Lowell, Van Amburgs' Caravan of trained animals, Indian Head Coffee House, the Souhegan River, the new foot bridges, the famous singing Hutchinson family, the Townsend Female Seminary, horseback rides, long walks, animal magnetism, ships coming into the wharf, etc.

White also includes a detailed description of two of his patients, sisters, who are Shakers, which is of interest.

On another occasion White gets a long personal "reading" from Mr. O.S. Fowler (Orson Squire Fowler) the well known phrenologist.  (White has included his "reading" within the pages of this journal.)

At another point some friends give him an arrow head that they found on Cape Cod which he traces on one of the pages in his diary and relates the circumstances of its discovery, along with the body of an Indian next to it.

He is also found visiting the Chinese Museum, while at the museum, he meets a Chinese artist who impresses White greatly, and seems captivated by him. He describes the way his hands move, the way he looks, his drawings. In fact, this man would also appear to sign White's journal.

 

Some sample entries follow:

July 21st

There were 97 deaths here last week. 12 from consumption.  Very much fatigued, operating all day.  Strolled this evening into Burnham's antiquarian books store and bought me what I have long wanted, Tupper's Proverbial Philosophy. If there be anything for long and covet, and with which I am tempted, it is books.  What a treat to step into Burnham's and search among the rare old volumes.  Saw Dr. Channing this morning.  He appears very easy and unrestrained.  He is very plain, wears his hair pretty long, and it falls in curls.  He slightly reminds me of Audubon. There have been several deaths some murders here lately, and the myriad dram shops of rum flows like a river.

 

July 23rd

Last evening I went out to Charleston and spent the night with Cousin Francis.  We walked to the monument. How solemn and grand the plain shaft bearing no inscription stands in its solitary Majesty.  The grounds around it have been much improved of late and buildings are being put up on the back of the hill next ______. Oh! Thou silent memorial of the departed brave.  I have unutterable thoughts from thee.  The shades of night forbid our going up.  Once, and the only time when on the summit, a fire broke out far down in the street below.  The men looked no bigger than bees about a hive.  We walked farther on in high street towards the convent ruins and came to a beautiful Gothic cottage occupying a commanding situation. Boston, Charleston, and the neighboring towns are in view.  I am half crazed with the love of the Gothic.....

 

July 25th

This morning when I awoke the rain fell fast and pleasantly.  I rose and looking from the windows saw high up in the clouds, the summit of the monument dim and almost imperceptible.  Like a dream shadow, the base shrouded in the thick clouds and mist. At the end of the long wharf lays a ship that brought in three hundred Dutch.  She was bound for Philadelphia but sprung a leak and was forced to put in here.  Their mate lost his life on the passage by the hands of some of the crew, who killed him with an ax.  They are now in custody.  Some of the poor immigrants, soaking their black miserable heads.  How wretched!  Poor suffering humanity, and yet they looked almost cheerful.  How I looked upon the poor widows in a foreign land.  Some of them wore wooden shoes thick and large, turning high up at the tow.  There seemed about them something honest and good-natured, but so ignorant so groveling.  How dimly must the spirit life burn in these.  Yet there are immensity's in and around them, as Carlyle says, and having souls, creation, eternity.  Words from wisdom's mouth that cannot be unspoken.  I love to loiter on the wharf where the harbor is in view, its islands, the distance sail on its bosom, and the strange sounds of foreign voices breaking on the ear, outlandish looking sailors in groups, and at work.  The shades of the evening have fallen and I'm still near the ships.

August 1st (At the Chinese Museum)

...the most interesting object to me after all was ISOW CHAOONG. Who was seated by a desk with his box and brushes before him.  Writing cards for those who wished their name being in English and Chinese.  I conversed with him some and he made himself somewhat intelligible in English, said he would let me have some Indian ink when his, which was just sent for, came from China, which would be some months first. He wore his hair after the manner of his countrymen.  One long cue from the back of the head all the rest shaved.  His cue was about 4 feet in length.  He had rather an intelligent countenance.  As he sat, his form was not much exposed but the fine blue silk dress with loose sleeves, from which came two such delicate beautiful, formed hands.  So very comfortable, easy, that I began to covet.  Nails half or an inch long.  Some say they are false, I don't know. But those hands! Taper fingers!!

August 3rd

Been in a hurry, and whiry to get ready to go up to Littleton tomorrow.  So I leave Boston again and I am not sorry, yet I love sometimes to be here and muse among the crowd.  I always see a poor orange woman at the corner of the street were I pass daily sitting patiently as if her trust was all in providence. Poor wretch, with a soul and all its immensities.  How much misery, opulence, in this great city.  My thoughts are on the end of the earth, and for sympathy.

August 16th

Coming down "the hill" in the shades of evening such a view of the past is welling up. Strange mysterious life. Fearful to live, fearful to die, fearful to think. The nights at home seem more beautiful, more filled with spiritual light. Again how shall I speak of so wonderful a spirit, one whose soul over flows it's banks and over throws me, and then---- Why is it? Shall I even ask? And never know? My heart is faded by its heat.

August 31st

This afternoon I have been in a hop yard. The "Pickers" merrily worked and gaily sung, old friends they were, all wedded to past memories. In the evening we sat in the door with the moon so softly looking in upon us chatting of the dear past of our characters heads, the hearts left out. As we sat there, sweetly conversing in the moonlight, I repeated some lines, they called them beautiful. One said she remembered some lines of mine, she thought the mine. How she came by them, I don't "keu" nor care, so the "dreamy past" does not die.  We arose and walked standing on the rustic bridge.  We sang.  The still waters gave back, all the bright splendor of the "mother of the wildly working visions". The dim shadowy outline of the wood laying in rich masses of light and shadow.  Our voices sang out in the silent night, and our hearts with, "an inward melody." Half stayed in the magic scene as we came slowly to my carriage.  I am seated.  They stand before me, five of them; they're happy faces now beautiful in this a poet's day.  They must go.  He turns to them.  They are silent.  He speaks. "The vision and the voice are one.  Their influence carried away, like music over a summer lake at the golden close of day.

September 5th

My patients this afternoon have been three Shakers, two sisters and brother.  The oldest sister, Olive, is quite intelligent, a reader, thinker and a proctess, but sociable and agreeable. The youngest sweet flower of celibacy, is really pretty, eighteen or twenty. Summery, a beautiful specimen of humanity.  They examined my humble collection of books with great interest.  They are believing in phrenology at their request I noticed the cerebral of Warren.  The character agreed in all points with the description given. Olive's description was as satisfactory. Both well marked heads. They gave me a very handsome invitation to call upon them at their board, Harvard South house.  They expressed in a courteous and handsome manner the satisfaction with their operations I performed for them.

September 17th

Came home this afternoon and am in a world full of books, instruments and thoughts getting ready to go to Milford, the first of the week.  Some friends have just returned from a visit to Wellfleet on Cape Cod with a glowing description of the place.  He gave me an Indian arrow found on the high land of the Cape.  I regarded with the utmost pleasure as a relic of an exterminated race.  It is of a kind of a brown flint and in this form (this is where he draws the picture). Within a few years, the skeleton of what was apparently an Indian chief was found near the place from which the arrow came.  The sand had blown off and head being exposed was discovered.  It was buried in a standing posture.  There are many relics of the Indians found on the cape.

October 8th

The Hutchinson family pretend to be tea tottlers but an individual told me this morning, that last evening, Judson told him in the p____ that he wished he had some wine or brandy to drink and said "I've had some two or three times already today." So much for his tea totalism.... Yesterday a patient lately from Peoria Indiana gave me the tusk of a wild boar which he shot on the high lands between ___________ and the Mississippi.  The boar came suddenly upon him as he was charging his rifle.  He ran for a tree from which he shot him, but not till it had killed his dog in the battle....

October 16th

Last evening, I walked to Milford and heard O. S. Fowler lecture.  He does not speak with the ease of his brother L. It is the matter alone that makes his lectures interesting.  In personal appearance he is plain, and awkward in his movements. Tall, thin, high narrow forehead.  His remarks were first upon the skin, its' nerves and network....

October 19th 

Here I am again in my room at the hotel at Amherst.  It is a pleasant one, large and fronts to the east.  I am snugly seated with books, instruments, writing material &c. and now let me look back.  As I come down to cross the Souhegan on the little footbridge, the Hutchinson's are just coming over; they were leaving for a singing tour of several months.  Ace come first and in his hand carrying his base viot and bookery, so bright and impulsive, he bowed smitingly. I half magnetized him. Abby came next and a lady with her.  I never saw her so near before, her eyes are as blue or gray, just a moment....

October 22nd

For days, weeks, I've had a kind of morbid nervousness, and it has not passed all way yet.  But I am decidedly better.  I am aware that most of my sufferings rise from as Fowler says, "superabundance of brain" to highly wrought.  My motto must be "keep cool" and the more muscular.  Tea and coffee for the president or laid aside and very little liquid taken during meals.

October 23rd

All is very quiet and still here in Amherst.  Two new enterprises are just now moving the citizens at little; one is the erection of a steam mill, the other the Souhegan Railroad. I called today professionally at the Atherton's. The family mansion is a little out of the village, but in a rather pleasant location.  It possesses for me, one charm, at least, it is large.  The room in which I was shown was high and spacious.  Glass sideboards, containing books, covered one center side of the room.  Nothing is more disgusting to me then small contracted rooms.  In all my fancy pieces are large old rooms, long galleries, wide stairways and the books. Books and the other soul, but tis an air drawn dagger.

October 24th

Been operating today at the Atherton's for Miss Mary Ann. The "honorable" just made his appearance.  The house is so spacious and so filled with books that I vaguely realize; some half forgotten dream.  This patient of mine is subject to fits, it is said, but the family do not acknowledge it. The family is the first on the place and of course aristocrats.  Finished my operation at the Atherton's at five this afternoon quite fatigued.  I gathered up my things and rode in the cold night air to Milford....

November 1st

This evening, the Reverend Mr. Seymour lectured about the sufferings and difficulties attending the missionaries who labor among the Indians.  He has been with the Chippewa's near the sources of the Mississippi.  For four years a plants flower was the only bed or the softest he had.  I was quite interested in his remarks.  He gave a true account of the Indian revenge, and how precisely like the whites with the same amount of intellect.  Human nature all.  Once he built his fire and lay down in the solitary wilderness far from any human being....

I live in much solitude of soul. I have untold aspirations, but I fear they are too selfish.  I thirst for knowledge, thirst.  It is a burning thirst.  Vivid drowning thoughts almost darken the mind by their numbers.  The come and carry me along in their wild rushings

November 21st,

I  pass out of the quiet sedate Amherst and am now rising the high land, which separates the two villages.  On the left is a wood to the north and west lay a wide prospect, Mount Vernon is seen in the distance.  A traveler is approaching.  He has on his back I little bundle of clothes.  His dress is very coarse but whole and clean.  I will say a word to cheer him in life's rough way.  He stops and speaks kindly.  He is simple.  He is going to the north.  I wish him a pleasant and happy journey, as he passes along he half turns and says, "May you have success now and in the world to come....

December 4th,

I found my Chinese I so loved before, Isow Chaoong in his old place writing with his beautiful tapered fingers. He is the same gentle unassuming being.  He wonderfully excites my sympathies and my friend seemed interested with his appearance.  He had procured the Indian ink he had sent to China for and he gave me the cake he promised me.  It is excellent.  I asked him to sell me to brush such as he used, he gave me one and presenting it smiled so pleasant that I shall never forget the gentle stranger.  So with another call at a daguerrean room, result a good picture, we past on...to dream land once more."