The romance, if ever there was, of long voyages is rather gone these days… The excitement of people leaving for months or years, with no possible contact but the odd letter (which may or may not correspond with letters sent by the other party), cannot exist in today’s world.
Here is a short excerpt of a letter written by Edward B. Hooker to Helen Yale Smith just after she left for Europe in 1873. A bit of background, she had just turned 18, he was a senior in highschool. They were close friends, but nothing more; although a passing comment in one of Edward’s letters suggests that he would have been happy to be more… In regards to context consider also that this letter to Helen could not have possibly reached her for several weeks, as it would have been on the next mail boat and would then have had to be forwarded to which-ever hotel she was in. All unknowns.

“My gracious how I did yell and cheer when the Baltic left the dock. You must have heard me. Didn’t you? I saw you and Mattie waving your handkerchiefs to a part of the dock entirely remote from our position. Then I up and yelled and I think you saw us for you waved in our direction. I proposed three cheers and gave most of them myself. I don’t see how I managed to stand up on those beams I was so excited. As a last farewell my little deringer made himself heard. Did you hear it?
We all kept up bravely while we were on (could see) the ship, but when she gradually faded away and grew beautifully less and less there was a general caving in. In fact I own to a slight dampness myself. Then the sad remains of us went back.”

Edward would be in Europe during 1875, but they did not see each other again for over two years, though many letters went back and forth. His letters still exist, though not hers, and we see a shift in them from a bouncing teenager to a young man.