Great Nebraska

Naturalists and Scientists

Edith Schwartz Clements

Letters, 1911

Aug. 29, 1911



August 29 1911

A lovely afternoon on the Cornwall coast! Not beeing smitten with an English love of inserting strong tea, bread butter
& jam into a stomach, not yet recovered from its noon-day duties, we lounged on the
cliff while the rest partook. The clouds had cleared, and the sea was clear pale green
in the sunlight. We watched the tide rush in dashing over the rocks and gaining foot
by foot. Fritz admits that he can like a rocky coast, & perhaps, someday, we shall see La Jolla — that is if the sun will shine there for us. We had quite a rough crossing yesterday
from Cork to Plymouth. The boat was small, & bobbed about like a cork. Fritz looked ghastly pale about ten o’clock of the evening, so I insisted on his trying
our carefully cherished seasick remedy



and going to bed. There were only four and six-berth cabins, so he bunked with five
other men, while Mrs. Cowles & I roomed with two strange women. It seems as tho’ the steamship managers do their
best to create proper conditions for sea-sickness. Of course the more people sick,
the fewer meals to provide, and the more fees for steward & stewardess! So we are
furnished various and sundry smells, & warm water to drink. The bunks are made up
with the covers folded in at the sides on top

of the mattress, so one gets into a sort of bag and after a normal amount of turning over during the night, soon has all the covers in
a heap, while he spills out at the ends & edges. Then the blanket is arranged with
the folded edge at the top & one must either have all the covers on or none at all. The pillows! Hard? I am sure a pillow fight with them
would be deadly thing! Mrs. Cowles woke up with a very stiff neck, and I



August 29

spent most of the night punching mine (pillow) to soften it. We both smothered with the heat. I finally at 2:30 a.m. re-made my
bunk in a more Christian fashion & put my head next to the port-hole. I think I slept
four hours, but fared as well as most. Sand fleas left their marks also tho I did
not know it till morning! After breakfast, people rapidly disappeared into their cabins.
Fritz and I had both begun to feel the effects of our “stuffing” during the Irish trip,
and were fine subjects for disturbance even on land. We both felt fine till breakfast time which was very late. We both sat down;
Fritz took a mouthful & hastily excused himself. I followed to give him a pill & see that
he did not faint; returned & tried a mouthful of toast. I was not in the least hungry,
but thought I



ought to eat. Do you know I could not swallow one mouthfull? My mouth was absolutely
lacking in saliva. I felt just a little squeamish, & thought it a good time to test
the pills. They worked like a charm! I got up in half an hour & enjoyed the rest of
the trip, lunch & all. Fritz too, appeared on deck after his nap, fresh & rosy & we watched the sea from the most
active parts of the boat-bow & stern without a qualm. Some of the men of the party
kept their berths all day, others after breakfast. To-day​, the sea is calm again but it shall have no more terrors for me, armed with “Mothersill’s
Pills”! I am conviced tho’ that a great deal of sea-sickness could be avoided by paying
attention to one’s diet beforehand. Deary me! how they did stuff us in Ireland! Out last meal there, however,
was very dainty & delicious — a lunch given by a wealthy brewer, who has a passion
for gardening, & who has, in consequence, built up a beautiful one, containing many
rare plants, & the finest rock garden we have yet seen. Such an



August 29

enthusiastic man as our host was! He met us at the train, smiling hearty, with a warm
Irish manner, with the query whether we would have lunch at once, or look at the garden
first. We murmured that we had breakfasted at six & would like lunch first, but, apparently
the murmur was inaudible, or else the question was perfunctory, for we were rushed
along in a body from one rare plant to another, our host beaming & discoursing on
its rarity & beauty; not even the nasty drizzle dampering his ardor. A good shower
did permit of momentary shelter in a pavilion wher I decided to stay & to keep Fritz as we both had slight colds & the wet grass & wetter air were not the best treatment.
The rest of the party “did” the rest of the garden “weather or no.” however. We were
glad to do this after lunch, when the weather had



cleared somewhat. We did have lunch at last, in the charming, ivy-covered country-home.
Mrs. Praeger, the wife of our Irish guide (or rather of the botanist in Ireland who did the honors for the country) had told me we probably would not see our host’s
wife at all, as she was a famous beauty, society belle, with a General for a father
& very haughty withal. We did see her, however, & she was very gracious indeed. A
beauty? Yes of the Juno type (“cowlike”)Fritz calls it) Young, large, stately — blue eyes, black lashes, cherry lips (touched up
a little, I think) perfect complexion. She wore a dull blue gauzy gown, immense broad brimmed blue
hat, & carried a tiny spaniel. After dinner, smoked many cigarettes! (has had a case
of nicotine poisoning from excessive smoking). She was supported by a friend & neighbor-tailored,
golden-haired, forty, also a smoker. The lunch was dainty & delicious & the toasts

August 30″ On the way to Portsmouth

The Excursion part is practically over & we are on the way to the Association meetings
at Portsmouth. We have cer-



The Caerthilian Hotel,
The Lizard.
Aug. 29, 191

tainly had a “glorious” trip, but every one is to sleepy & tired & just a little homesick. We all look forward to a week in one spot
& freedom from repacking every night.

We certainly enjoyed the rocky coast at Lizard’s Head & the neighborhood. The sea proved more attractive to me than the plants & I snatched
every opportuniry to sit & watch the great waves rush in & crash on the sand or against
the cliffs.

At Truro, a men’s club entertained the men of our party at dinner. Mrs. Cowles & I were not included in the invitation, but a Miss Paull, of the town, had asked us to a family dinner. We were sorry to miss the final one
for the party, as the farewell speeches & grand finale took place. Fritz reported that there were eighteen speeches! and the eating part was hurried so to
leave time for the speeches, that he succeeded in getting only one of the five desserts!
Father Clements would certainly be pleased at his son’s attitude at all these many dinners, wher
ehe is the only one who refuse one &



all of the many wines, champagnes & various alcoholic beverages provided. It is the
subject of much good-natured chaffing on both sides. It is most interesting to note,
however, that tho’ the men drink the stuff, they have a sneaking respect for one who
does not & openly express their admiration or stive to explain or excuse their own
short-comings. I have been a little puzzled & somewhat disconcerted by the way Mr. Tansley looked askance at me & seemed to avoid me, especially in Ireland. Especially was this marked when I went into a compartent on the train where he was
smoking alone, & sat down to chat. He almost precipitately got up & left me! The mystery
has been clearer since Fritz confessed to having told him shortly before that I admitted to my innermost circle
of friendship only the nicest men who did not smoke! I have been chagrined & puzzled
on more than one occasion during the trip to find how awkwardly I fit into social
functions. I fear one can neither be sincere nor earnest & be a social success. I
have been studying Mrs. Cowles methods. She is dumpy, dowdy, plain & yet is always the centre of attraction. Here
success seems to be built upon the fat plan of putting herself forward into



The Caerthilian Hotel,
The Lizard.
Aug. 29, 191

the centre of the stage from the start. She then holds it by means of talking persistently
in a strong compelling voice, which charms her hearers because she is always sure
to agree with them & echo their opinions & also to spread on just as much “soft-soap”
as possible in regard to their possessions & what they are doing for her. Moreover,
she never spoils her tale by any regard to facts, & has a way of raising a laugh by
an exaggeration or unexpected phrase, or perhaps an apt story. I have come to the
conclusion that social chit-chat must consist mainly of bromidic statements. They
bore me to death, but whenever in desperation I try to insert an earnest topic of conversation, or answer
a query, according to my honest convictions, it seems to cast a damper on the cheerful
bromidic atmosphere. At least this was so last night at Miss Paulls’s family party. I will not be insincere, at least any more so than politeness demands
& I will not be any more of a Bromide than I can



possibly help, so I must resign myself to being a social failure. Mrs. Cowles is a very amusing study for one who is with her for any length of time, but she certainly
can hood wink people who see just a little of her, or who are not keen! It is a funny
trick of fate that has thrown me together for this trip, for she is one of the very
few people to whom I took a dislke at our very first meeting — several years ago;
a dislike confirmed at every subequent meeting. It has been very broadening to be
“nice” to her; we are thoroughly uncongenial. But enough of this. I never talk unfavorably
of people, except to Fritz & I am breaking my rule. It is doubtless uninteresting to you, anyhow.

P.S. Sara writes that the first page of the fourth letter was missing when it reached her.
Will you all please look it up, or better, the last one who had the complete letter.