Maria Mitchell In Her Own Words

Maria Mitchell, ca. 1865

November 30th. {1857} France did not burst upon me suddenly as I had hoped. We took the route from Folkstone to Boulogne, and when we arrived in Folkstone the sea was awfully rough . . . But we came into Paris in the dark. I came to the Boarding School, and was met by servants who chattered away like parrots but they understood “eau chaud” {hot water} and “feu” }fire}, two very important considerations, for France seems to me the coldest country I ever knew . . . .

Being cold seems to have been a theme for Maria Mitchell while in Europe. Given the warmer but damp climate in which she grew up on Nantucket, I always find it slightly humorous that she complains about the cold. But France, Paris in particular, is a place she took in full stride and loved very much, exclaiming that she saw nothing because there was so much to see and noting how there was so much space in Paris that she could see everything and take in buildings fully. Whereas in crowded London “A building . . . is seen by corners.”

NOTE: I chose and wrote this commentary a few weeks ago, before the incidents in Paris.  I have no good words.  Except PRAY to your higher being and PEACE.  We all live in this tiny space together.