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Two Years Before the Mast by Richard Henry Dana

Part 3 out of 8

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Saturday night; but there was no song--no "sweethearts and wives."
A gloom was over everything. The two men lay in their berths,
groaning with pain, and we all turned in, but for myself, not to
sleep. A sound coming now and then from the berths of the two
men showed that they were awake, as awake they must have been,
for they could hardly lie in one posture a moment; the dim,
swinging lamp of the forecastle shed its light over the dark hole
in which we lived; and many and various reflections and purposes
coursed through my mind. I thought of our situation, living under a
tyranny; of the character of the country we were in; of the length
of the voyage, and of the uncertainty attending our return to
America; and then, if we should return, of the prospect of obtaining
justice and satisfaction for these poor men; and vowed that if God
should ever give me the means, I would do something to redress the
grievances and relieve the sufferings of that poor class of beings,
of whom I then was one.

The next day was Sunday. We worked as usual, washing decks, etc.,
until breakfast-time. After breakfast, we pulled the captain
ashore, and finding some hides there which had been brought down
the night before, he ordered me to stay ashore and watch them,
saying that the boat would come again before night. They left me,
and I spent a quiet day on the hill, eating dinner with the three
men at the little house. Unfortunately, they had no books, and
after talking with them and walking about, I began to grow tired
of doing nothing. The little brig, the home of so much hardship
and suffering, lay in the offing, almost as far as one could see;
and the only other thing which broke the surface of the great bay
was a small, desolate-looking island, steep and conical, of a clayey
soil, and without the sign of vegetable life upon it; yet which had
a peculiar and melancholy interest to me, for on the top of it were
buried the remains of an Englishman, the commander of a small merchant
brig, who died while lying in this port. It was always a solemn and
interesting spot to me. There it stood, desolate, and in the midst
of desolation; and there were the remains of one who died and was
buried alone and friendless. Had it been a common burying-place,
it would have been nothing. The single body corresponded well with
the solitary character of everything around. It was the only thing
in California from which I could ever extract anything like poetry.
Then, too, the man died far from home; without a friend near him;
by poison, it was suspected, and no one to inquire into it; and
without proper funeral rites; the mate, (as I was told,) glad to
have him out of the way, hurrying him up the hill and into the ground,
without a word or a prayer.

I looked anxiously for a boat, during the latter part of the
afternoon, but none came; until toward sundown, when I saw a
speck on the water, and as it drew near, I found it was the
gig, with the captain. The hides, then, were not to go off.
The captain came up the hill, with a man, bringing my monkey
jacket and a blanket. He looked pretty black, but inquired
whether I had enough to eat; told me to make a house out of
the hides, and keep myself warm, as I should have to sleep
there among them, and to keep good watch over them. I got
a moment to speak to the man who brought my jacket.

"How do things go aboard?" said I.

"Bad enough," said he; "hard work and not a kind word spoken."

"What," said I, "have you been at work all day?"

"Yes! no more Sunday for us. Everything has been moved in the
hold, from stem to stern, and from the waterways to the keelson."

I went up to the house to supper. We had frijoles, (the perpetual
food of the Californians, but which, when well cooked, are the best
bean in the world,) coffee made of burnt wheat, and hard bread.
After our meal, the three men sat down by the light of a tallow
candle, with a pack of greasy Spanish cards, to the favorite game
of "treinta uno," a sort of Spanish "everlasting." I left them and
went out to take up my bivouack among the hides. It was now dark;
the vessel was hidden from sight, and except the three men in the
house, there was not a living soul within a league. The coati
(a wild animal of a nature and appearance between that of the fox
and the wolf) set up their sharp, quick bark, and two owls, at the
end of two distant points running out into the bay, on different
sides of the hills where I lay, kept up their alternate, dismal notes.
I had heard the sound before at night, but did not know what it was,
until one of the men, who came down to look at my quarters, told
me it was the owl. Mellowed by the distance, and heard alone, at
night, I thought it was the most melancholy, boding sound I had
ever heard. Through nearly all the night they kept it up, answering
one another slowly, at regular intervals. This was relieved by the
noisy coati, some of which came quite near to my quarters, and
were not very pleasant neighbors. The next morning, before sunrise,
the long-boat came ashore, and the hides were taken off.

We lay at San Pedro about a week, engaged in taking off hides
and in other labors, which had now become our regular duties.
I spent one more day on the hill, watching a quantity of hides
and goods, and this time succeeded in finding a part of a volume
of Scott's Pirate, in a corner of the house; but it failed me at a
most interesting moment, and I betook myself to my acquaintances on
shore, and from them learned a good deal about the customs of the
country, the harbors, etc. This, they told me, was a worse harbor
than Santa Barbara, for south-easters; the bearing of the headland
being a point and a half more to windward, and it being so shallow
that the sea broke often as far out as where we lay at anchor.
The gale from which we slipped at Santa Barbara, had been so bad a
one here, that the whole bay, for a league out, was filled with the
foam of the breakers, and seas actually broke over the Dead Man's
island. The Lagoda was lying there, and slipped at the first alarm,
and in such haste that she was obliged to leave her launch behind her
at anchor. The little boat rode it out for several hours, pitching at
her anchor, and standing with her stern up almost perpendicularly.
The men told me that they watched her till towards night, when
she snapped her cable and drove up over the breakers, high and
dry upon the beach.

On board the Pilgrim, everything went on regularly, each one
trying to get along as smoothly as possible; but the comfort of
the voyage was evidently at an end. "That is a long lane which
has no turning"---"Every dog must have his day, and mine will
come by-and-by"--and the like proverbs, were occasionally quoted;
but no one spoke of any probable end to the voyage, or of Boston,
or anything of the kind; or if he did, it was only to draw out the
perpetual, surly reply from his shipmate--"Boston, is it? You may
thank your stars if you ever see that place. You had better have
your back sheathed, and your head coppered, and your feet shod,
and make out your log for California for life!" or else something of
this kind--"Before you get to Boston the hides will wear the hair
off your head, and you'll take up all your wages in clothes, and
won't have enough left to buy a wig with!"

The flogging was seldom if ever alluded to by us, in the forecastle.
If any one was inclined to talk about it, the others, with a delicacy
which I hardly expected to find among them, always stopped him,
or turned the subject. But the behavior of the two men who were
flogged toward one another showed a delicacy and a sense of honor,
which would have been worthy of admiration in the highest walks of
life. Sam knew that the other had suffered solely on his account,
and in all his complaints, he said that if he alone had been flogged,
it would have been nothing; but that he never could see that man
without thinking what had been the means of bringing that disgrace
upon him; and John never, by word or deed, let anything escape him
to remind the other that it was by interfering to save his shipmate,
that he had suffered.

Having got all our spare room filled with hides, we hove up our anchor
and made sail for San Diego. In no operation can the disposition of
a crew be discovered better than in getting under weigh.

Where things are "done with a will," every one is like a cat aloft:
sails are loosed in an instant; each one lays out his strength on
his handspike, and the windlass goes briskly round with the loud
cry of "Yo heave ho! Heave and pawl! Heave hearty ho!" But with us,
at this time, it was all dragging work. No one went aloft beyond
his ordinary gait, and the chain came slowly in over the windlass.
The mate, between the knight-heads, exhausted all his official
rhetoric, in calls of "Heave with a will!"--"Heave hearty, men!--
heave hearty!"--"Heave and raise the dead!"--"Heave, and away!"
etc., etc.; but it would not do. Nobody broke his back or his
hand-spike by his efforts. And when the cat-tackle-fall was strung
along, and all hands--cook, steward, and all--laid hold, to cat the
anchor, instead of the lively song of "Cheerily, men!" in which all
hands join in the chorus, we pulled a long, heavy, silent pull,
and--as sailors say a song is as good as ten men--the anchor came
to the cat-head pretty slowly. "Give us 'Cheerily!'" said the
mate; but there was no "cheerily" for us, and we did without it.
The captain walked the quarterdeck, and said not a word. He must
have seen the change, but there was nothing which he could notice

We sailed leisurely down the coast before a light fair wind, keeping
the land well aboard, and saw two other missions, looking like blocks
of white plaster, shining in the distance; one of which, situated on
the top of a high hill, was San Juan Campestrano, under which vessels
sometimes come to anchor, in the summer season, and take off hides.
The most distant one was St. Louis Rey, which the third mate said
was only fifteen miles from San Diego. At sunset on the second day,
we had a large and well wooded headland directly before us, behind
which lay the little harbor of San Diego. We were becalmed off this
point all night, but the next morning, which was Saturday, the 14th
of March, having a good breeze, we stood round the point, and hauling
our wind, brought the little harbor, which is rather the outlet of a
small river, right before us. Every one was anxious to get a view
of the new place. A chain of high hills, beginning at the point,
(which was on our larboard hand, coming in,) protected the harbor
on the north and west, and ran off into the interior as far as the
eye could reach. On the other sides, the land was low, and green,
but without trees. The entrance is so narrow as to admit but one
vessel at a time, the current swift, and the channel runs so near to
a low stony point that the ship's sides appeared almost to touch it.
There was no town in sight, but on the smooth sand beach, abreast,
and within a cable's length of which three vessels lay moored,
were four large houses, built of rough boards, and looking like the
great barns in which ice is stored on the borders of the large ponds
near Boston; with piles of hides standing round them, and men in
red shirts and large straw hats, walking in and out of the doors.
These were the hide-houses. Of the vessels: one, a short, clumsy,
little hermaphrodite brig, we recognized as our old acquaintance,
the Loriotte; another, with sharp bows and raking masts, newly painted
and tarred, and glittering in the morning sun, with the blood-red
banner and cross of St. George at her peak, was the handsome Ayacucho.
The third was a large ship, with top-gallant-masts housed, and sails
unbent, and looking as rusty and worn as two years' "hide-droghing" could
make her. This was the Lagoda. As we drew near, carried rapidly
along by the current, we overhauled our chain, and clewed up the
topsails. "Let go the anchor!" said the captain but either there was
not chain enough forward of the windlass, or the anchor went down
foul, or we had too much headway on, for it did not bring us up.
"Pay out chain!" shouted the captain; and we gave it to her; but it
would not do. Before the other anchor could be let go, we drifted
down, broadside on, and went smash into the Lagoda. Her crew were
at breakfast in the forecastle, and the cook, seeing us coming,
rushed out of his galley, and called up the officers and men.

Fortunately no great harm was done. Her jib-boom ran between our
fore and main masts, carrying away some of our rigging, and breaking
down the rail. She lost her martingale. This brought us up, and as
they paid out chain, we swung clear of them, and let go the other
anchor; but this had as bad luck as the first, for, before any one
perceived it, we were drifting on to the Loriotte. The captain now
gave out his orders rapidly and fiercely, sheeting home the topsails,
and backing and filling the sails, in hope of starting or clearing
the anchors; but it was all in vain, and he sat down on the rail,
taking it very leisurely, and calling out to Captain Nye, that he was
coming to pay him a visit. We drifted fairly into the Loriotte, her
larboard bow into our starboard quarter, carrying away a part of our
starboard quarter railing, and breaking off her larboard bumpkin,
and one or two stanchions above the deck. We saw our handsome
sailor, Jackson, on the forecastle, with the Sandwich Islanders,
working away to get us clear. After paying out chain, we swung
clear, but our anchors were no doubt afoul of hers. We manned
the windlass, and hove, and hove away, but to no purpose.
Sometimes we got a little upon the cable, but a good surge would take
it all back again. We now began to drift down toward the Ayacucho,
when her boat put off and brought her commander, Captain Wilson,
on board. He was a short, active, well-built man, between fifty
and sixty years of age; and being nearly twenty years older than
our captain, and a thorough seaman, he did not hesitate to give his
advice, and from giving advice, he gradually came to taking the
command; ordering us when to heave and when to pawl, and backing
and filling the topsails, setting and taking in jib and trysail,
whenever he thought best. Our captain gave a few orders, but as
Wilson generally countermanded them, saying, in an easy, fatherly
kind of way, "Oh no! Captain T-----, you don't want the jib on
her," or "it isn't time yet to heave!" he soon gave it up. We had no
objections to this state of things, for Wilson was a kind old man,
and had an encouraging and pleasant way of speaking to us, which
made everything go easily. After two or three hours of constant
labor at the windlass, heaving and "Yo ho!"-ing with all our might,
we brought up an anchor, with the Loriotte's small bower fast to it,
Having cleared this and let it go, and cleared our hawse, we soon
got our other anchor, which had dragged half over the harbor.
"Now," said Wilson, "I'll find you a good berth;" and setting both
the topsails, he carried us down, and brought us to anchor, in
handsome style, directly abreast of the hide-house which we were to
use. Having done this, he took his leave, while we furled the sails,
and got our breakfast, which was welcome to us, for we had worked
hard, and it was nearly twelve o'clock. After breakfast, and until
night, we were employed in getting out the boats and mooring ship.

After supper, two of us took the captain on board the Lagoda.
As he came alongside, he gave his name, and the mate, in the
gangway, called out to the captain down the companion-way--
"Captain T----- has come aboard, sir!" "Has he brought his brig
with him?" said the rough old fellow, in a tone which made itself
heard fore and aft. This mortified our captain a little, and it
became a standing joke among us for the rest of the voyage.
The captain went down into the cabin, and we walked forward and
put our heads down the forecastle, where we found the men at supper,
"Come down, shipmates! Come down!" said they, as soon as they
saw us; and we went down, and found a large, high forecastle, well
lighted; and a crew of twelve or fourteen men, eating out of their
kids and pans, and drinking their tea, and talking and laughing,
all as independent and easy as so many "wood-sawyer's clerks."
This looked like comfort and enjoyment, compared with the dark
little forecastle, and scanty, discontented crew of the brig.
It was Saturday night; they had got through with their work for the
week; and being snugly moored, had nothing to do until Monday, again.
After two years' hard service, they had seen the worst, and all,
of California;--had got their cargo nearly stowed, and expected to
sail in a week or two, for Boston. We spent an hour or more with
them, talking over California matters, until the word was passed--
"Pilgrims, away!" and we went back with our captain. They were
a hardy, but intelligent crew; a little roughened, and their clothes
patched and old, from California wear; all able seamen, and between
the ages of twenty and thirty-five. They inquired about our vessel,
the usage, etc., and were not a little surprised at the story of
the flogging. They said there were often difficulties in vessels
on the coast, and sometimes knock-downs and fightings, but they
had never heard before of a regular seizing-up and flogging.
"Spread-eagles" were a new kind of bird in California.

Sunday, they said, was always given in San Diego, both at the
hide-houses and on board the vessels, a large number usually
going up to the town, on liberty. We learned a good deal from
them about curing and stowing of hides, etc. and they were
anxious to have the latest news (seven months old) from Boston.
One of their first inquiries was for Father Taylor, the seamen's
preacher in Boston. Then followed the usual strain of conversation,
inquiries, stories, and jokes, which, one must always hear in a ship's
forecastle, but which are perhaps, after all, no worse, nor, indeed,
more gross, than that of many well-dressed gentlemen at their clubs.


The next day being Sunday, after washing and clearing
decks, and getting breakfast, the mate came forward with
leave for one watch to go ashore, on liberty. We drew lots,
and it fell to the larboard, which I was in. Instantly all was
preparation. Buckets of fresh water, (which we were allowed in
port,) and soap, were put in use; go-ashore jackets and trowsers
got out and brushed; pumps, neckerchiefs, and hats overhauled;
one lending to another; so that among the whole each one got a
good fit-out. A boat was called to pull the "liberty men" ashore,
and we sat down in the stern sheets, "as big as pay passengers,"
and jumping ashore, set out on our walk for the town, which was
nearly three miles off.

It is a pity that some other arrangement is not made in merchant
vessels, with regard to the liberty-day. When in port, the crews
are kept at work all the week, and the only day they are allowed
for rest or pleasure is the Sabbath; and unless they go ashore on
that day, they cannot go at all. I have heard of a religious captain
who gave his crew liberty on Saturdays, after twelve o'clock.
This would be a good plan, if shipmasters would bring themselves to
give their crews so much time. For young sailors especially, many
of whom have been brought up with a regard for the sacredness of
the day, this strong temptation to break it, is exceedingly injurious.
As it is, it can hardly be expected that a crew, on a long and
hard voyage, will refuse a few hours of freedom from toil and the
restraints of a vessel, and an opportunity to tread the ground and
see the sights of society and humanity, because it is on a Sunday.
It is too much like escaping from prison, or being drawn out of a
pit, on the Sabbath day.

I shall never forget the delightful sensation of being in the
open air, with the birds singing around me, and escaped from
the confinement, labor, and strict rule of a vessel--of being
once more in my life, though only for a day, my own master.
A sailor's liberty is but for a day; yet while it lasts it
is perfect. He is under no one's eye, and can do whatever,
and go wherever, he pleases. This day, for the first time,
I may truly say, in my whole life, I felt the meaning of a term
which I had often heard--the sweets of liberty. My friend S-----
was with me, and turning our backs upon the vessels, we walked
slowly along, talking of the pleasure of being our own masters,
of the times past, and when we were free in the midst of friends,
in America, and of the prospect of our return; and planning where
we would go, and what we would do, when we reached home. It was
wonderful how the prospect brightened, and how short and tolerable
the voyage appeared, when viewed in this new light. Things looked
differently from what they did when we talked them over in the little
dark forecastle, the night after the flogging at San Pedro. It is
not the least of the advantages of allowing sailors occasionally
a day of liberty, that it gives them a spring, and makes them feel
cheerful and independent, and leads them insensibly to look on the
bright side of everything for some time after.

S----- and myself determined to keep as much together as possible,
though we knew that it would not do to cut our shipmates; for,
knowing our birth and education, they were a little suspicious
that we would try to put on the gentleman when we got ashore,
and would be ashamed of their company; and this won't do with
Jack. When the voyage is at an end, you may do as you please,
but so long as you belong to the same vessel, you must be a
shipmate to him on shore, or he will not be a shipmate to you on
board. Being forewarned of this before I went to sea, I took no
"long togs" with me, and being dressed like the rest, in white duck
trowsers, blue jacket and straw hat, which would prevent my going
in better company, and showing no disposition to avoid them, I set
all suspicion at rest. Our crew fell in with some who belonged
to the other vessels, and, sailor-like, steered for the first
grog-shop. This was a small mud building, of only one room, in
which were liquors, dry and West India goods, shoes, bread, fruits,
and everything which is vendible in California. It was kept by
a yankee, a one-eyed man, who belonged formerly to Fall River,
came out to the Pacific in a whale-ship, left her at the Sandwich
Islands, and came to California and set up a "Pulperia." S----- and
I followed in our shipmates' wake, knowing that to refuse to drink
with them would be the highest affront, but determining to slip
away at the first opportunity. It is the universal custom with sailors
for each one, in his turn, to treat the whole, calling for a glass all
round, and obliging every one who is present, even the keeper of
the shop, to take a glass with him. When we first came in, there
was some dispute between our crew and the others, whether the
new comers or the old California rangers should treat first; but it
being settled in favor of the latter, each of the crews of the other
vessels treated all round in their turn, and as there were a good
many present, (including some "loafers" who had dropped in, knowing
what was going on, to take advantage of Jack's hospitality,)
and the liquor was a real (12½ cents) a glass, it made somewhat
of a hole in their lockers. It was now our ship's turn, and S-----
and I, anxious to get away, stepped up to call for glasses; but we
soon found that we must go in order--the oldest first, for the old
sailors did not choose to be preceded by a couple of youngsters;
and bon gré mal gré, we had to wait our turn, with the twofold
apprehension of being too late for our horses, and of getting
corned; for drink you must, every time; and if you drink with
one and not with another, it is always taken as an insult.

Having at length gone through our turns and acquitted ourselves
of all obligations, we slipped out, and went about among the
houses, endeavoring to get horses for the day, so that we might
ride round and see the country. At first we had but little success,
all that we could get out of the lazy fellows, in reply to our
questions, being the eternal drawling "Quien sabe?" ("who knows?")
which is an answer to all questions. After several efforts,
we at length fell in with a little Sandwich Island boy, who belonged
to Captain Wilson of the Ayacucho, and was well acquainted in
the place; and he, knowing where to go, soon procured us two
horses, ready saddled and bridled, each with a lasso coiled over
the pommel. These we were to have all day, with the privilege of
riding them down to the beach at night, for a dollar, which we had
to pay in advance. Horses are the cheapest thing in California;
the very best not being worth more than ten dollars apiece, and very
good ones being often sold for three, and four. In taking a day's
ride, you pay for the use of the saddle, and for the labor and
trouble of catching the horses. If you bring the saddle back safe,
they care but little what becomes of the horse. Mounted on our
horses, which were spirited beasts, and which, by the way, in this
country, are always steered by pressing the contrary rein against
the neck, and not by pulling on the bit,--we started off on a fine
run over the country. The first place we went to was the old
ruinous presidio, which stands on a rising ground near the village,
which it overlooks. It is built in the form of an open square,
like all the other presidios, and was in a most ruinous state,
with the exception of one side, in which the commandant lived,
with his family. There were only two guns, one of which was spiked,
and the other had no carriage. Twelve, half clothed, and half starved
looking fellows, composed the garrison; and they, it was said, had
not a musket apiece. The small settlement lay directly below the
fort, composed of about forty dark brown looking huts, or houses,
and two larger ones, plastered, which belonged to two of the "gente
de razón." This town is not more than half as large as Monterey,
or Santa Barbara, and has little or no business. From the presidio,
we rode off in the direction of the mission, which we were told was
three miles distant. The country was rather sandy, and there was
nothing for miles which could be called a tree, but the grass grew
green and rank, and there were many bushes and thickets, and the
soil is said to be good. After a pleasant ride of a couple of miles,
we saw the white walls of the mission, and fording a small river,
we came directly before it. The mission is built of mud, or rather
of the unburnt bricks of the country, and plastered. There was
something decidedly striking in its appearance: a number of irregular
buildings, connected with one another, and disposed in the form of
a hollow square, with a church at one end, rising above the rest,
with a tower containing five belfries, in each of which hung a large
bell, and with immense rusty iron crosses at the tops. Just outside
of the buildings, and under the walls, stood twenty or thirty small
huts, built of straw and of the branches of trees, grouped together,
in which a few Indians lived, under the protection and in the service
of the mission.

Entering a gate-way, we drove into the open square, in which the
stillness of death reigned. On one side was the church; on another,
a range of high buildings with grated windows; a third was a range
of smaller buildings, or offices; and the fourth seemed to be little
more than a high connecting wall. Not a living creature could we
see. We rode twice round the square, in the hope of waking up
some one; and in one circuit, saw a tall monk, with shaven head,
sandals, and the dress of the Grey Friars, pass rapidly through a
gallery, but he disappeared without noticing us. After two circuits,
we stopped our horses, and saw, at last, a man show himself in
front of one of the small buildings. We rode up to him, and found
him dressed in the common dress of the country, with a silver
chain round his neck, supporting a large bunch of keys. From this,
we took him to be the steward of the mission, and addressing him
as "Mayordomo," received a low bow and an invitation to walk
into his room. Making our horses fast, we went in. It was a plain
room, containing a table, three or four chairs, a small picture or
two of some saint, or miracle, or martyrdom, and a few dishes and
glasses. "Hay algunas cosa de comer?" said I. "Si Señor!" said he.
"Que gusta usted?" Mentioning frijoles, which I knew they must
have if they had nothing else, and beef and bread, and a hint for
wine, if they had any, he went off to another building, across the
court, and returned in a few moments, with a couple of Indian boys,
bearing dishes and a decanter of wine. The dishes contained baked
meats, frijoles stewed with peppers and onions, boiled eggs, and
California flour baked into a kind of macaroni. These, together
with the wine, made the most sumptuous meal we had eaten since we
left Boston; and, compared with the fare we had lived upon for
seven months, it was a regal banquet. After despatching our meal,
we took out some money and asked him how much we were to pay.
He shook his head, and crossed himself, saying that it was charity:
--that the Lord gave it to us. Knowing the amount of this to be
that he did not sell it, but was willing to receive a present,
we gave him ten or twelve reals, which he pocketed with admirable
nonchalance, saying, "Dios se lo pague." Taking leave of him,
we rode out to the Indians' huts. The little children were
running about among the huts, stark naked, and the men were not
much better; but the women had generally coarse gowns, of a sort of
tow cloth. The men are employed, most of the time, in tending the
cattle of the mission, and in working in the garden, which is a very
large one, including several acres, and filled, it is said, with the
best fruits of the climate. The language of these people, which is
spoken by all the Indians of California, is the most brutish and
inhuman language, without any exception, that I ever heard, or that
could well be conceived of. It is a complete slabber. The words
fall off of the ends of their tongues, and a continual slabbering sound
is made in the cheeks, outside of the teeth. It cannot have been
the language of Montezuma and the independent Mexicans.

Here, among the huts, we saw the oldest man that I had ever seen;
and, indeed, I never supposed that a person could retain life and
exhibit such marks of age. He was sitting out in the sun, leaning
against the side of a hut; and his legs and arms, which were bare,
were of a dark red color, the skin withered and shrunk up like
burnt leather, and the limbs not larger round than those of a boy
of five years. He had a few grey hairs, which were tied together
at the back of his head; and he was so feeble that, when we came
up to him, he raised his hands slowly to his face, and taking hold
of his lids with his fingers, lifted them up to look at us;
and being satisfied, let them drop again. All command over the
lid seemed to have gone. I asked his age, but could get no answer
but "Quien sabe?" and they probably did not know the age.

Leaving the mission, we returned to village, going nearly all the
way on a full run. The California horses have no medium gait,
which is pleasant, between walking and running; for as there are
no streets and parades, they have no need of the genteel trot,
and their riders usually keep them at the top of their speed until
they are fired, and then let them rest themselves by walking.
The fine air of the afternoon; the rapid rate of the animals,
who seemed almost to fly over the ground; and the excitement and
novelty of the motion to us, who had been so long confined on
shipboard, were exhilarating beyond expression, and we felt willing
to ride all day long. Coming into the village, we found things
looking very lively. The Indians, who always have a holyday on
Sunday, were engaged at playing a kind of running game of ball,
on a level piece of ground, near the houses. The old ones sat
down in a ring, looking on, while the young ones--men, boys and
girls--were chasing the ball, and throwing it with all their
might. Some of the girls ran like greyhounds. At every accident,
or remarkable feat, the old people set up a deafening screaming
and clapping of hands. Several blue jackets were reeling about
among the houses, which showed that the pulperias had been well
patronized. One or two of the sailors had got on horseback,
but being rather indifferent horsemen, and the Spaniards having
given them vicious horses, they were soon thrown, much to the
amusement of the people. A half dozen Sandwich Islanders,
from the hide-houses and the two brigs, who are bold riders,
were dashing about on the full gallop, hallooing and laughing
like so many wild men.

It was now nearly sundown, and S----- and myself went into a
house and sat quietly down to rest ourselves before going down to
the beach. Several people were soon collected to see "los Ingles
marineros," and one of them--a young woman--took a great fancy to
my pocket handkerchief, which was a large silk one that I had
before going to sea, and a handsomer one than they had been in
the habit of seeing. Of course, I gave it to her; which brought
us into high favor; and we had a present of some pears and other
fruits, which we took down to the beach with us. When we came
to leave the house, we found that our horses, which we left tied
at the door, were both gone. We had paid for them to ride down
to the beach, but they were not to be found. We went to the man
of whom we hired them, but he only shrugged his shoulders, and
to our question, "Where are the horses?" only answered--"Quien
sabe?" but as he was very easy, and made no inquiries for the
saddles, we saw that he knew very well where they were. After a
little trouble, determined not to walk down,--a distance of three
miles--we procured two, at four reals apiece, with an Indian boy
to run on behind and bring them back. Determined to have "the go"
out of the horses, for our trouble, we went down at full speed,
and were on the beach in fifteen minutes. Wishing to make our
liberty last as long as possible, we rode up and down among the
hide-houses, amusing ourselves with seeing the men, as they came
down, (it was now dusk,) some on horseback and others on foot.
The Sandwich Islanders rode down, and were in "high snuff."
We inquired for our shipmates, and were told that two of them
had started on horseback and had been thrown or had fallen off,
and were seen heading for the beach, but steering pretty wild,
and by the looks of things, would not be down much before midnight.

The Indian boys having arrived, we gave them our horses, and
having seen them safely off, hailed for a boat and went aboard.
Thus ended our first liberty-day on shore. We were well tired,
but had had a good time, and were more willing to go back to our
old duties. About midnight, we were waked up by our two watchmates,
who had come aboard in high dispute. It seems they had started to
come down on the same horse, double-backed; and each was accusing
the other of being the cause of his fall. They soon, however,
turned-in and fell asleep, and probably forgot all about it,
for the next morning the dispute was not renewed.


The next sound we heard was "All hands ahoy!" and looking up the
scuttle, saw that it was just daylight. Our liberty had now truly
taken flight, and with it we laid away our pumps, stockings,
blue jackets, neckerchiefs, and other go-ashore paraphernalia,
and putting on old duck trowsers, red shirts, and Scotch caps,
began taking out and landing our hides. For three days we were
hard at work, from the grey of the morning until starlight,
with the exception of a short time allowed for meals, in this duty.
For landing and taking on board hides, San Diego is decidedly the
best place in California. The harbor is small and land-locked;
there is no surf; the vessels lie within a cable's length of
the beach; and the beach itself is smooth, hard sand, without rocks
or stones. For these reasons, it is used by all the vessels in the trade,
as a depot; and, indeed, it would be impossible, when loading with
the cured hides for the passage home, to take them on board at any
of the open ports, without getting them wet in the surf, which
would spoil them. We took possession of one of the hide-houses,
which belonged to our firm, and had been used by the California.
It was built to hold forty thousand hides, and we had the pleasing
prospect of filling it before we could leave the coast; and toward
this, our thirty-five hundred, which we brought down with us,
would do but little. There was not a man on board who did not
go a dozen times into the house, and look round, and make some
calculation of the time it would require.

The hides, as they come rough and uncured from the vessels, are
piled up outside of the houses, whence they are taken and carried
through a regular process of pickling, drying, cleaning, etc., and
stowed away in the house, ready to be put on board. This process
is necessary in order that they may keep, during a long voyage, and
in warm latitudes. For the purpose of curing and taking care of
these hides, an officer and a part of the crew of each vessel are
usually left ashore and it was for this business, we found, that our
new officer had joined us. As soon as the hides were landed, he
took charge of the house, and the captain intended to leave two or
three of us with him, hiring Sandwich Islanders to take our places
on board; but he could not get any Sandwich Islanders to go,
though he offered them fifteen dollars a month; for the report of
the flogging had got among them, and he was called "aole maikai,"
(no good,) and that was an end of the business. They were, however,
willing to work on shore, and four of them were hired and put with
Mr. Russell to cure the hides.

After landing our hides, we next sent ashore all our spare spars
and rigging; all the stores which we did not want to use in the
course of one trip to windward; and, in fact, everything which we
could spare, so as to make room for hides: among other things,
the pig-sty, and with it "old Bess." This was an old sow that we
had brought from Boston, and which lived to get around Cape Horn,
where all the other pigs died from cold and wet. Report said
that she had been a Canton voyage before. She had been the
pet of the cook during the whole passage, and he had fed her with
the best of everything, and taught her to know his voice, and to
do a number of strange tricks for his amusement. Tom Cringle
says that no one can fathom a negro's affection for a pig; and I
believe he is right, for it almost broke our poor darky's heart when
he heard that Bess was to be taken ashore, and that he was to have
the care of her no more during the whole voyage. He had depended
upon her as a solace, during the long trips up and down the coast.
"Obey orders, if you break owners!" said he. "Break hearts," he
meant to have said; and lent a hand to get her over the side,
trying to make it as easy for her as possible. We got a whip up on
the main-yard, and hooking it to a strap around her body, swayed
away; and giving a wink to one another, ran her chock up to the
yard. "'Vast there! 'vast!" said the mate; "none of your skylarking!
Lower away!" But he evidently enjoyed the joke. The pig squealed
like the "crack of doom," and tears stood in the poor darky's eyes;
and he muttered something about having no pity on a dumb beast.
"Dumb beast!" said Jack; "if she's what you call a dumb beast,
then my eyes a'n't mates." This produced a laugh from all but
the cook. He was too intent upon seeing her safe in the boat.
He watched her all the way ashore, where, upon her landing, she was
received by a whole troop of her kind, who had been sent ashore from
the other vessels, and had multiplied and formed a large commonwealth.
From the door of his galley, the cook used to watch them in their
manoeuvres, setting up a shout and clapping his hands whenever Bess
came off victorious in the struggles for pieces of raw hide and
half-picked bones which were lying about the beach. During the day,
he saved all the nice things, and made a bucket of swill, and asked
us to take it ashore in the gig, and looked quite disconcerted when
the mate told him that he would pitch the swill overboard, and him
after it, if he saw any of it go into the boats. We told him that
he thought more about the pig than he did about his wife, who lived
down in Robinson's Alley; and, indeed, he could hardly have been
more attentive, for he actually, on several nights, after dark,
when he thought he would not he seen, sculled himself ashore in a
boat with a bucket of nice swill, and returned like Leander from
crossing the Hellespont.

The next Sunday the other half of our crew went ashore on liberty,
and left us on board, to enjoy the first quiet Sunday which we
had had upon the coast. Here were no hides to come off, and no
south-easters to fear. We washed and mended our clothes in the morning,
and spent the rest of the day in reading and writing. Several of us
wrote letters to send home by the Lagoda. At twelve o'clock the
Ayacucho dropped her fore topsail, which was a signal for her
sailing. She unmoored and warped down into the bight, from which
she got under way. During this operation, her crew were a long
time heaving at the windlass, and I listened for nearly an hour to
the musical notes of a Sandwich Islander, called Mahannah, who
"sang out" for them. Sailors, when heaving at a windlass, in order
that they may heave together, always have one to sing out; which is
done in a peculiar, high and long-drawn note, varying with the
motion of the windlass. This requires a high voice, strong lungs,
and much practice, to be done well. This fellow had a very peculiar,
wild sort of note, breaking occasionally into a falsetto. The sailors
thought it was too high, and not enough of the boatswain hoarseness
about it; but to me it had a great charm. The harbor was perfectly
still, and his voice rang among the hills, as though it could have
been heard for miles. Toward sundown, a good breeze having
sprung up, she got under weigh, and with her long, sharp head
cutting elegantly through the water, on a taught bowline, she
stood directly out of the harbor, and bore away to the southward.
She was bound to Callao, and thence to the Sandwich Islands,
and expected to be on the coast again in eight or ten months.

At the close of the week we were ready to sail, but were delayed
a day or two by the running away of F-----, the man who had
been our second mate, and was turned forward. From the time
that he was "broken," he had had a dog's berth on board the
vessel, and determined to run away at the first opportunity.
Having shipped for an officer when he was not half a seaman,
he found little pity with the crew, and was not man enough to
hold his ground among them. The captain called him a "soger,"(1)

1. Soger (soldier) is the worst term of reproach that can be applied
to a sailor. It signifies a skulk, a sherk,--one who is always
trying to get clear of work, and is out of the way, or hanging back,
when duty is to be done. "Marine" is the term applied more
particularly to a man who is ignorant and clumsy about seaman's work
--a green-horn--a land-lubber. To make a sailor shoulder a handspike,
and walk fore and aft the deck, like a sentry, is the most ignominious
punishment that could be put upon him. Such a punishment inflicted
upon an able seaman in a vessel of war, would break his spirit down
more than a flogging.

and promised to "ride him down as he would the main tack;" and when
officers are once determined to "ride a man down," it is a gone
case with him. He had had several difficulties with the captain,
and asked leave to go home in the Lagoda; but this was refused him.
One night he was insolent to an officer on the beach, and refused
to come aboard in the boat. He was reported to the captain; and
as he came aboard,--it being past the proper hour,--he was called
aft, and told that he was to have a flogging. Immediately, he fell
down on the deck, calling out--"Don't flog me, Captain T-----;
don't flog me!" and the captain, angry with him, and disgusted
with his cowardice, gave him a few blows over the back with a
rope's end and sent him forward. He was not much hurt, but a
good deal frightened, and made up his mind to run away that
very night. This was managed better than anything he ever did
in his life, and seemed really to show some spirit and forethought.
He gave his bedding and mattress to one of the Lagoda's crew,
who took it aboard his vessel as something which he had bought,
and promised to keep it for him. He then unpacked his chest,
putting all his valuable clothes into a large canvas bag, and told
one of us, who had the watch, to call him at midnight. Coming on
deck, at midnight, and finding no officer on deck, and all still
aft, he lowered his bag into a boat, got softly down into it,
cast off the painter, and let it drop silently with the tide
until he was out of hearing, when he sculled ashore.

The next morning, when all hands were mustered, there was a
great stir to find F-----. Of course, we would tell nothing, and all
they could discover was, that he had left an empty chest behind him,
and that he went off in a boat; for they saw it lying up high and dry
on the beach. After breakfast, the captain went up to the town,
and offered a reward of twenty dollars for him; and for a couple
of days, the soldiers, Indians, and all others who had nothing to do,
were scouring the country for him, on horseback, but without effect;
for he was safely concealed, all the time, within fifty rods of
the hide-houses. As soon as he had landed, he went directly to
the Lagoda's hide-house, and a part of her crew, who were living
there on shore, promised to conceal him and his traps until the
Pilgrim should sail, and then to intercede with Captain Bradshaw
to take him on board the ship. Just behind the hide-houses,
among the thickets and underwood, was a small cave, the entrance
to which was known only to two men on the beach, and which was so
well concealed that, though, when I afterwards came to live on
shore, it was shown to me two or three times, I was never able to
find it alone. To this cave he was carried before daybreak in the
morning, and supplied with bread and water, and there remained
until he saw us under weigh and well round the point.

Friday, March 27th. The captain, having given up all hope of
finding F-----, and being unwilling to delay any longer, gave
orders for unmooring the ship, and we made sail, dropping slowly
down with the tide and light wind. We left letters with Captain
Bradshaw to take to Boston, and had the satisfaction of hearing
him say that he should be back again before we left the coast.
The wind, which was very light, died away soon after we doubled the
point, and we lay becalmed for two days, not moving three miles the
whole time, and a part of the second day were almost within sight
of the vessels. On the third day, about noon, a cool sea-breeze came
rippling and darkening the surface of the water, and by sundown
we were off San Juan's, which is about forty miles from San Diego,
and is called half way to San Pedro, where we were now bound.
Our crew was now considerably weakened. One man we had lost
overboard; another had been taken aft as clerk; and a third had
run away; so that, beside S----- and myself, there were only three
able seamen and one boy of twelve years of age. With this
diminished and discontented crew, and in a small vessel, we were
now to battle the watch through a couple of years of hard service;
yet there was not one who was not glad that F----- had escaped;
for, shiftless and good for nothing as he was, no one could wish
to see him dragging on a miserable life, cowed down and disheartened;
and we were all rejoiced to hear, upon our return to San Diego,
about two months afterwards, that he had been immediately taken
aboard the Lagoda, and went home in her, on regular seaman's wages.

After a slow passage of five days, we arrived, on Wednesday,
the first of April, at our old anchoring ground at San Pedro.
The bay was as deserted, and looked as dreary, as before, and formed
no pleasing contrast with the security and snugness of San Diego,
and the activity and interest which the loading and unloading of four
vessels gave to that scene. In a few days the hides began to come
slowly down, and we got into the old business of rolling goods up
the hill, pitching hides down, and pulling our long league off and
on. Nothing of note occurred while we were lying here, except
that an attempt was made to repair the small Mexican brig which
had been cast away in a south-easter, and which now lay up, high
and dry, over one reef of rocks and two sand-banks. Our carpenter
surveyed her, and pronounced her capable of refitting, and in a
few days the owners came down from the Pueblo, and, waiting for
the high spring tides, with the help of our cables, kedges, and crew,
got her off and afloat, after several trials. The three men at the
house on shore, who had formerly been a part of her crew, now
joined her, and seemed glad enough at the prospect of getting off
the coast.

On board our own vessel, things went on in the common monotonous
way. The excitement which immediately followed the flogging scene
had passed off, but the effect of it upon the crew, and especially
upon the two men themselves, remained. The different manner in
which these men were affected, corresponding to their different
characters, was not a little remarkable. John was a foreigner
and high-tempered, and, though mortified, as any one would be at
having had the worst of an encounter, yet his chief feeling seemed
to be anger; and he talked much of satisfaction and revenge, if he
ever got back to Boston. But with the other, it was very different.
He was an American, and had had some education; and this thing coming
upon him, seemed completely to break him down. He had a feeling
of the degradation that had been inflicted upon him, which the
other man was incapable of. Before that, he had a good deal of
fun, and mused us often with queer negro stories,--(he was from
a slave state); but afterwards he seldom smiled; seemed to lose
all life and elasticity; and appeared to have but one wish,
and that was for the voyage to be at an end. I have often known
him to draw a long sigh when he was alone, and he took but little
part or interest in John's plans of satisfaction and retaliation.

After a stay of about a fortnight, during which we slipped for
one south-easter, and were at sea two days, we got under weigh for
Santa Barbara. It was now the middle of April, and the south-easter
season was nearly over; and the light, regular trade-winds, which blow
down the coast, began to set steadily in, during the latter part of
each day. Against these, we beat slowly up to Santa Barbara--a
distance of about ninety miles--in three days. There we found,
lying at anchor, the large Genoese ship which we saw in the same
place, on the first day of our coming upon the coast. She had been
up to San Francisco, or, as it is called, "chock up to windward,"
had stopped at Monterey on her way down, and was shortly to proceed
to San Pedro and San Diego, and thence, taking in her cargo, to sail
for Valparaiso and Cadiz. She was a large, clumsy ship, and with
her topmasts stayed forward, and high poop-deck, looked like an
old woman with a crippled back. It was now the close of Lent,
and on Good Friday she had all her yards a'cock-bill, which is
customary among Catholic vessels. Some also have an effigy of
Judas, which the crew amuse themselves with keel-hauling and
hanging by the neck from the yard-arms.


The next Sunday was Easter Sunday, and as there had been no
liberty at San Pedro, it was our turn to go ashore and misspend
another Sabbath. Soon after breakfast, a large boat, filled with
men in blue jackets, scarlet caps, and various colored under-clothes,
bound ashore on liberty, left the Italian ship, and passed under
our stern; the men singing beautiful Italian boat-songs, all the way,
in fine, full chorus. Among the songs I recognized the favorite
"O Pescator dell' onda." It brought back to my mind pianofortes,
drawing-rooms, young ladies singing, and a thousand other things
which as little befitted me, in my situation, to be thinking upon.
Supposing that the whole day would be too long a time to spend
ashore, as there was no place to which we could take a ride,
we remained quietly on board until after dinner. We were then
pulled ashore in the stern of the boat, and, with orders to be on
the beach at sundown, we took our way for the town. There,
everything wore the appearance of a holyday. The people were
all dressed in their best; the men riding about on horseback among
the houses, and the women sitting on carpets before the doors.
Under the piazza of a "pulperia," two men were seated, decked out
with knots of ribbons and bouquets, and playing the violin and
the Spanish guitar. These are the only instruments, with the
exception of the drums and trumpets at Monterey that I ever heard in
California; and I suspect they play upon no others, for at a great
fandango at which I was afterwards present, and where they mustered
all the music they could find, there were three violins and two
guitars, and no other instrument. As it was now too near the middle
of the day to see any dancing and hearing that a bull was expected
down from the country, to be baited in the presidio square, in the
course of an hour or two we took a stroll among the houses.
Inquiring for an American who, we had been told, had married in the
place, and kept a shop, we were directed to a long, low building,
at the end of which was a door, with a sign over it, in Spanish.
Entering the shop, we found no one in it, and the whole had an
empty, deserted appearance. In a few minutes the man made his
appearance, and apologized for having nothing to entertain us with,
saying that he had had a fandango at his house the night before,
and the people had eaten and drunk up everything.

"Oh yes!" said I, "Easter holydays?"

"No!" said he, with a singular expression to his face; "I had a
little daughter die the other day, and that's the custom of the

Here I felt a little strangely, not knowing what to say, or whether
to offer consolation or no, and was beginning to retire, when he
opened a side door and told us to walk in. Here I was no less
astonished; for I found a large room, filled with young girls,
from three or four years of age up to fifteen and sixteen, dressed
all in white, with wreaths of flowers on their heads, and bouquets
in their hands. Following our conductor through all these girls,
who were playing about in high spirits, we came to a table, at the
end of the room, covered with a white cloth, on which lay a coffin,
about three feet long, with the body of his child. The coffin was
lined on the outside with white cloth, and on the inside with white
satin, and was strewed with flowers. Through an open door we saw,
in another room, a few elderly people in common dresses; while
the benches and tables thrown up in a corner, and the stained walls,
gave evident signs of the last night's "high go." Feeling, like
Garrick, between tragedy and comedy, an uncertainty of purpose
and a little awkwardness, I asked the man when the funeral would
take place, and being told that it would move toward the mission
in about an hour, took my leave.

To pass away the time, we took horses and rode down to the
beach, and there found three or four Italian sailors, mounted, and
riding up and down, on the hard sand, at a furious rate. We joined
them, and found it fine sport. The beach gave us a stretch of a mile
or more, and the horses flew over the smooth, hard sand, apparently
invigorated and excited by the salt sea-breeze, and by the continual
roar and dashing of the breakers. From the beach we returned to
the town, and finding that the funeral procession had moved, rode
on and overtook it, about half-way to the mission. Here was as
peculiar a sight as we had seen before in the house; the one looking
as much like a funeral procession as the other did like a house of
mourning. The little coffin was borne by eight girls, who were
continually relieved by others, running forward from the procession
and taking their places. Behind it came a straggling company of
girls, dressed as before, in white and flowers, and including, I should
suppose by their numbers, nearly all the girls between five and fifteen
in the place. They played along on the way, frequently stopping
and running all together to talk to some one, or to pick up a flower,
and then running on again to overtake the coffin. There were a few
elderly women in common colors; and a herd of young men and boys,
some on foot and others mounted, followed them, or walked or rode
by their side, frequently interrupting them by jokes and questions.
But the most singular thing of all was, that two men walked,
one on each side of the coffin, carrying muskets in their hands,
which they continually loaded, and fired into the air. Whether
this was to keep off the evil spirits or not, I do not know.
It was the only interpretation that I could put upon it.

As we drew near the mission, we saw the great gate thrown open,
and the pádre standing on the steps, with a crucifix in hand.
The mission is a large and deserted-looking place, the out-buildings
going to ruin, and everything giving one the impression of decayed
grandeur. A large stone fountain threw out pure water, from four
mouths, into a basin, before the church door; and we were on the
point of riding up to let our horses drink, when it occurred to us
that it might be consecrated, and we forbore. Just at this moment,
the bells set up their harsh, discordant clang; and the procession
moved into the court. I was anxious to follow, and see the ceremony,
but the horse of one of my companions had become frightened, and
was tearing off toward the town; and having thrown his rider, and
got one of his feet caught in the saddle, which had slipped, was fast
dragging and ripping it to pieces. Knowing that my shipmate
could not speak a word of Spanish, and fearing that he would get
into difficulty, I was obliged to leave the ceremony and ride after
him. I soon overtook him, trudging along, swearing at the horse,
and carrying the remains of the saddle, which he had picked up
on the road. Going to the owner of the horse, we made a settlement
with him, and found him surprisingly liberal. All parts of
the saddle were brought back, and, being capable of repair, he was
satisfied with six reáls. We thought it would have been a few
dollars. We pointed to the horse, which was now half way up one
of the mountains; but he shook his head, saying, "No importe!"
and giving us to understand that he had plenty more.

Having returned to the town, we saw a great crowd collected in
the square before the principal pulperia, and riding up, found that
all these people--men, women, and children--had been drawn together
by a couple of bantam cocks. The cocks were in full tilt,
springing into one another, and the people were as eager, laughing
and shouting, as though the combatants had been men. There had
been a disappointment about the bull; he had broken his bail, and
taken himself off, and it was too late to get another; so the people
were obliged to put up with a cock-fight. One of the bantams having
been knocked in the head, and had an eye put out, he gave in, and
two monstrous prize-cocks were brought on. These were the object
of the whole affair; the two bantams having been merely served up
as a first course, to collect the people together. Two fellows came
into the ring holding the cocks in their arms, and stroking them,
and running about on all fours, encouraging and setting them on.
Bets ran high, and, like most other contests, it remained for some
time undecided. They both showed great pluck, and fought probably
better and longer than their masters would have done. Whether,
in the end, it was the white or the red that beat, I do not recollect;
but, whichever it was, he strutted off with the true veni-vidi-vici look,
leaving the other lying panting on his beam-ends.

This matter having been settled, we heard some talk about "caballos"
and "carrera" and seeing the people all streaming off in one direction,
we followed, and came upon a level piece of ground, just out of
the town, which was used as a race-course. Here the crowd soon
became thick again; the ground was marked off; the judges stationed;
and the horses led up to one end. Two fine-looking old gentlemen
--Don Carlos and Don Domingo, so called--held the stakes, and all
was now ready. We waited some time, during which we could just see
the horses twisting round and turning, until, at length, there
was a shout along the lines, and on they came--heads stretched
out and eyes starting;--working all over, both man and beast.
The steeds came by us like a couple of chain-shot--neck and neck;
and now we could see nothing but their backs, and their hind hoofs
flying in the air. As fast as the horses passed, the crowd broke
up behind them, and ran to the goal. When we got there, we found
the horses returning on a slow walk, having run far beyond the mark,
and heard that the long, bony one had come in head and shoulders
before the other. The riders were light-built men; had handkerchiefs
tied round their heads; and were bare-armed and bare-legged.
The horses were noble-looking beasts, not so sleek and combed as
our Boston stable-horses, but with fine limbs, and spirited eyes.
After this had been settled, and fully talked over, the crowd
scattered again and flocked back to the town.

Returning to the large pulperia, we found the violin and guitar
screaming and twanging away under the piazza, where they had
been all day. As it was now sundown, there began to be some
dancing. The Italian sailors danced, and one of our crew exhibited
himself in a sort of West India shuffle, much to the amusement of
the bystanders, who cried out, "Bravo!" "Otra vez!" and "Vivan
los marineros!" but the dancing did not become general, as the
women and the "gente de razón" had not yet made their appearance.
We wished very much to stay and see the style of dancing; but,
although we had had our own way during the day, yet we were,
after all, but 'foremast Jacks; and having been ordered to be on the
beach by sundown, did not venture to be more than an hour behind
the time; so we took our way down. We found the boat just pulling
ashore through the breakers, which were running high, there having
been a heavy fog outside, which, from some cause or other, always
brings on, or precedes a heavy sea. Liberty-men are privileged
from the time they leave the vessel until they step on board again;
so we took our places in the stern sheets, and were congratulating
ourselves upon getting off dry, when a great comber broke fore and
aft the boat, and wet us through and through, filling the boat
half full of water. Having lost her buoyancy by the weight of the
water, she dropped heavily into every sea that struck her, and by
the time we had pulled out of the surf into deep water, she was but
just afloat, and we were up to our knees. By the help of a small
bucket and our hats, we bailed her out, got on board, hoisted the
boats, eat our supper, changed our clothes, gave (as is usual) the
whole history of our day's adventures to those who had staid on
board, and having taken a night-smoke, turned-in. Thus ended
our second day's liberty on shore.

On Monday morning, as an offset to our day's sport, we were all
set to work "tarring down" the rigging. Some got girt-lines up
for riding down the stays and back-stays, and others tarred the
shrouds, lifts, etc., laying out on the yards, and coming down
the rigging. We overhauled our bags and took out our old tarry
trowsers and frocks, which we had used when we tarred down before,
and were all at work in the rigging by sunrise. After breakfast,
we had the satisfaction of seeing the Italian ship's boat go ashore,
filled with men, gaily dressed, as on the day before, and singing
their barcarollas. The Easter holydays are kept up on shore during
three days; and being a Catholic vessel, the Crew had the advantage
of them. For two successive days, while perched up in the rigging,
covered with tar and engaged in our disagreeable work, we saw these
fellows going ashore in the morning, and coming off again at night,
in high spirits. So much for being Protestants. There's no danger
of Catholicism's spreading in New England; Yankees can't afford the
time to be Catholics. American shipmasters get nearly three weeks
more labor out of their crews, in the course of a year, than the
masters of vessels from Catholic countries. Yankees don't keep
Christmas, and ship-masters at sea never know when Thanksgiving
comes, so Jack has no festival at all.

About noon, a man aloft called out "Sail ho!" and looking round,
we saw the head sails of a vessel coming round the point. As she
drew round, she showed the broadside of a full-rigged brig, with
the Yankee ensign at her peak. We ran up our stars and stripes, and,
knowing that there was no American brig on the coast but ourselves,
expected to have news from home. She rounded-to and let go her
anchor, but the dark faces on her yards, when they furled the sails,
and the Babel on deck, soon made known that she was from the Islands.
Immediately afterwards, a boat's crew came aboard, bringing her skipper,
and from them we learned that she was from Oahu, and was engaged in
the same trade with the Ayacucho, Loriotte, etc., between the coast,
the Sandwich Islands, and the leeward coast of Peru and Chili.
Her captain and officers were Americans, and also a part of her crew;
the rest were Islanders. She was called the Catalina, and, like all
the others vessels in that trade, except the Ayacucho, her papers
and colors were from Uncle Sam. They, of course, brought us no news,
and we were doubly disappointed, for we had thought, at first,
it might be the ship which we were expecting from Boston.

After lying here about a fortnight, and collecting all the hides the
place afforded, we set sail again for San Pedro. There we found
the brig which we had assisted in getting off lying at anchor,
with a mixed crew of Americans, English, Sandwich Islanders,
Spaniards, and Spanish Indians; and, though much smaller than we,
yet she had three times the number of men; and she needed them,
for her officers were Californians. No vessels in the world
go so poorly manned as American and English; and none do so well.
A Yankee brig of that size would have had a crew of four men,
and would have worked round and round her. The Italian ship had a
crew of thirty men; nearly three times as many as the Alert, which
was afterwards on the coast, and was of the same size; yet the Alert
would get under weigh and come-to in half the time, and get two
anchors, while they were all talking at once--jabbering like a parcel
of "Yahoos," and running about decks to find their cat-block.

There was only one point in which they had the advantage over us,
and that was in lightening their labors in the boats by their songs.
The Americans are a time and money saving people, but have not yet,
as a nation, learned that music may be "turned to account." We pulled
the long distances to and from the shore, with our loaded boats,
without a word spoken, and with discontented looks, while they not
only lightened the labor of rowing, but actually made it pleasant
and cheerful, by their music. So true is it, that--

"For the tired slave, song lifts the languid oar,
And bids it aptly fall, with chime
That beautifies the fairest shore,
And mitigates the harshest clime."

We lay about a week in San Pedro, and got under weigh for San Diego,
intending to stop at San Juan, as the south-easter season was
nearly over, and there was little or no danger.

This being the spring season, San Pedro, as well as all the other
open ports upon the coast, was filled with whales, that had come in
to make their annual visit upon soundings. For the first few days
that we were here and at Santa Barbara, we watched them with
great interest--calling out "there she blows!" every time we saw the
spout of one breaking the surface of the water; but they soon became
so common that we took little notice of them. They often "broke"
very near us; and one thick, foggy night, during a dead calm, while
I was standing anchor-watch, one of them rose so near, that he
struck our cable, and made all surge again. He did not seem to like
the encounter much himself, for he sheered off, and spouted at a
good distance. We once came very near running one down in the
gig, and should probably have been knocked to pieces and blown
sky-high. We had been on board the little Spanish brig, and were
returning, stretching out well at our oars, the little boat going like a
swallow; our backs were forward, (as is always the case in pulling,)
and the captain, who was steering, was not looking ahead, when, all
at once, we heard the spout of a whale directly ahead. "Back water!
back water, for your lives!" shouted the captain; and we backed
our blades in the water and brought the boat to in a smother of
foam. Turning our heads, we saw a great, rough, hump-backed whale,
slowly crossing our fore foot, within three or four yards of the
boat's stem. Had we not backed water just as we did, we should
inevitably have gone smash upon him, striking him with our stem
just about amidships. He took no notice of us, but passed slowly on,
and dived a few yards beyond us, throwing his tail high in the air.
He was so near that we had a perfect view of him and as may be
supposed, had no desire to see him nearer. He was a disgusting
creature; with a skin rough, hairy, and of an iron-grey color.
This kind differs much from the sperm, in color and skin, and is said
to be fiercer. We saw a few sperm whales; but most of the whales
that come upon the coast are fin-backs, hump-backs, and right-whales,
which are more difficult to take, and are said not to give oil
enough to pay for the trouble. For this reason whale-ships do not
come upon the coast after them. Our captain, together with Captain
Nye of the Loriotte, who had been in a whale-ship, thought of
making an attempt upon one of them with two boats' crews, but
as we had only two harpoons and no proper lines, they gave it up.

During the months of March, April, and May, these whales appear in
great numbers in the open ports of Santa Barbara, San Pedro, etc.,
and hover off the coast, while a few find their way into the
close harbors of San Diego and Monterey. They are all off again
before midsummer, and make their appearance on the "off-shore
ground." We saw some fine "schools" of sperm whales, which are
easily distinguished by their spout, blowing away, a few miles to
windward, on our passage to San Juan.

Coasting along on the quiet shore of the Pacific, we came to anchor,
in twenty fathoms' water, almost out at sea, as it were, and directly
abreast of a steep hill which overhung the water, and was twice as
high as our royal-mast-head. We had heard much of this place, from
the Lagoda's crew, who said it was the worst place in California.
The shore is rocky, and directly exposed to the south-east, so that
vessels are obliged to slip and run for their lives on the first
sign of a gale; and late as it was in the season, we got up our
slip-rope and gear, though we meant to stay only twenty-four hours.
We pulled the agent ashore, and were ordered to wait for him,
while he took a circuitous way round the hill to the mission,
which was hidden behind it. We were glad of the opportunity to
examine this singular place, and hauling the boat up and making
her well fast, took different directions up and down the beach,
to explore it.

San Juan is the only romantic spot in California. The country
here for several miles is high table-land, running boldly to the shore,
and breaking off in a steep hill, at the foot of which the waters of the
Pacific are constantly dashing. For several miles the water washes
the very base of the hill, or breaks upon ledges and fragments of
rocks which run out into the sea. Just where we landed was a small
cove, or "bight," which gave us, at high tide, a few square feet of
sand-beach between the sea and the bottom of the hill. This was
the only landing-place. Directly before us, rose the perpendicular
height of four or five hundred feet. How we were to get hides down,
or goods up, upon the table-land on which the mission was situated,
was more than we could tell. The agent had taken a long circuit,
and yet had frequently to jump over breaks, and climb up steep
places, in the ascent. No animal but a man or monkey could get up
it. However, that was not our look-out; and knowing that the agent
would be gone an hour or more, we strolled about, picking up shells,
and following the sea where it tumbled in, roaring and spouting,
among the crevices of the great rocks. What a sight, thought I, must
this be in a south-easter! The rocks were as large as those of Nahant
or Newport, but, to my eye, more grand and broken. Beside, there
was a grandeur in everything around, which gave almost a solemnity
to the scene: a silence and solitariness which affected everything!
Not a human being but ourselves for miles; and no sound heard but
the pulsations of the great Pacific! and the great steep hill rising
like a wall, and cutting us off from all the world, but the "world of
waters!" I separated myself from the rest and sat down on a rock,
just where the sea ran in and formed a fine spouting horn.
Compared with the plain, dull sand-beach of the rest of the coast,
this grandeur was as refreshing as a great rock in a weary land.
It was almost the first time that I had been positively alone--free
from the sense that human beings were at my elbow, if not talking
with me--since I had left home. My better nature returned strong
upon me. Everything was in accordance with my state of feeling,
and I experienced a glow of pleasure at finding that what of poetry
and romance I ever had in me, had not been entirely deadened by the
laborious and frittering life I had led. Nearly an hour did I sit,
almost lost in the luxury of this entire new scene of the play in
which I had been so long acting, when I was aroused by the distant
shouts of my companions, and saw that they were collecting together,
as the agent had made his appearance, on his way back to our

We pulled aboard, and found the long-boat hoisted out, and nearly
laden with goods; and after dinner, we all went on shore in the
quarter-boat, with the long-boat in tow. As we drew in, we found
an ox-cart and a couple of men standing directly on the brow of the
hill; and having landed, the captain took his way round the hill,
ordering me and one other to follow him. We followed, picking our
way out, and jumping and scrambling up, walking over briers and
prickly pears, until we came to the top. Here the country stretched
out for miles as far as the eye could reach, on a level, table surface;
and the only habitation in sight was the small white mission of San
Juan Capistrano, with a few Indian huts about it, standing in a
small hollow, about a mile from where we were. Reaching the brow
of the hill where the cart stood, we found several piles of hides,
and Indians sitting round them. One or two other carts were coming
slowly on from the mission, and the captain told us to begin and
throw the hides down. This, then, was the way they were to be got
down: thrown down, one at a time, a distance of four hundred
feet! This was doing the business on a great scale. Standing on
the edge of the hill and looking down the perpendicular height,
the sailors,

--"That walk upon the beach,
Appeared like mice; and our tall anchoring bark
Diminished to her cock; her cock a buoy
Almost too small for sight."

Down this height we pitched the hides, throwing them as far out
into the air as we could; and as they were all large, stiff,
and doubled, like the cover of a book, the wind took them, and they
swayed and eddied about, plunging and rising in the air, like a kite
when it has broken its string. As it was now low tide, there was
no danger of their falling into the water, and as fast as they came
to ground, the men below picked them up, and taking them on their
heads, walked off with them to the boat. It was really a picturesque
sight: the great height; the scaling of the hides; and the continual
walking to and fro of the men, who looked like mites, on the beach!
This was the romance of hide-droghing!

Some of the hides lodged in cavities which were under the bank and
out of our sight, being directly under us; but by sending others down
in the same direction, we succeeded in dislodging them. Had they
remained there, the captain said he should have sent on board for
a couple of pairs of long halyards, and got some one to have gone
down for them. It was said that one of the crew of an English brig
went down in the same way, a few years before. We looked over,
and thought it would not be a welcome task, especially for a few
paltry hides; but no one knows what he can do until he is called
upon; for, six months afterwards, I went down the same place by
a pair of top-gallant studding-sail halyards, to save a half a
dozen hides which had lodged there.

Having thrown them all down, we took our way back again,
and found the boat loaded and ready to start. We pulled off;
took the hides all aboard; hoisted in the boats; hove up our anchor;
made sail; and before sundown, were on our way to San Diego.

Friday, May 8th, 1835. Arrived at San Diego. Here we found the
little harbor deserted. The Lagoda, Ayacucho, Loriotte, and all,
had left the coast, and we were nearly alone. All the hide-houses
on the beach, but ours, were shut up, and the Sandwich Islanders,
a dozen or twenty in number, who had worked for the other vessels and
been paid off when they sailed, were living on the beach, keeping up
a grand carnival. A Russian discovery-ship which had been in this
port a few years before, had built a large oven for baking bread,
and went away, leaving it standing. This, the Sandwich Islanders
took possession of, and had kept, ever since, undisturbed. It was
big enough to hold six or eight men--that is, it was as large as
a ship's forecastle; had a door at the side, and a vent-hole at
top. They covered it with Oahu mats, for a carpet; stopped up the
vent-hole in bad weather, and made it their head-quarters. It was
now inhabited by as many as a dozen or twenty men, who lived there
in complete idleness--drinking, playing cards, and carousing in
every way. They bought a bullock once a week, which kept them
in meat, and one of them went up to the town every day to get
fruit, liquor, and provisions. Besides this, they had bought
a cask of ship-bread, and a barrel of flour from the Lagoda,
before she sailed. There they lived, having a grand time,
and caring for nobody. Captain T----- was anxious to get
three or four of them to come on board the Pilgrim, as we were
so much diminished in numbers; and went up to the oven and spent
an hour or two trying to negotiate with them. One of them,--a
finely built, active, strong and intelligent fellow,-- who was
a sort of king among them, acted as spokesman. He was called
Mannini,--or rather, out of compliment to his known importance
and influence, Mr. Mannini--and was known all over California.
Through him, the captain offered them fifteen dollars a month,
and one month's pay in advance; but it was like throwing pearls
before swine, or rather, carrying coals to Newcastle. So long
as they had money, they would not work for fifty dollars a month,
and when their money was gone, they would work for ten.

"What do you do here, Mr. Mannini?"(1) said the captain.

1. The letter i in the Sandwich Island language is sounded
like e in the English.

"Oh, we play cards, get drunk, smoke--do anything we're a mind to."

"Don't you want to come aboard and work?"

"Aole! aole make make makou i ka hana. Now, got plenty money;
no good, work. Mamule, money pau--all gone. Ah! very good, work!--
maikai, hana hana nui!"

"But you'll spend all your money in this way," said the captain.

"Aye! me know that. By-'em-by money pau--all gone; then Kanaka work plenty."

This was a hopeless case, and the captain left them, to wait
patiently until their money was gone.

We discharged our hides and tallow, and in about a week were
ready to set sail again for the windward. We unmoored, and got
everything ready, when the captain made another attempt upon the
oven. This time he had more regard to the "mollia tempora fandi,"
and succeeded very well. He got Mr. Mannini in his interest, and
as the shot was getting low in the locker, prevailed upon him and
three others to come on board with their chests and baggage, and
sent a hasty summons to me and the boy to come ashore with our
things, and join the gang at the hide-house. This was unexpected
to me; but anything in the way of variety I liked; so we got ready,
and were pulled ashore. I stood on the beach while the brig got
under weigh, and watched her until she rounded the point, and
then went up to the hide-house to take up my quarters for a few


Here was a change in my life as complete as it had been sudden.
In the twinkling of an eye, I was transformed from a sailor into a
"beach-comber" and a hide-curer; yet the novelty and the comparative
independence of the life were not unpleasant. Our hide-house was a
large building, made of rough boards, and intended to hold forty
thousand hides. In one corner of it, a small room was parted off,
in which four berths were made, where we were to live, with mother
earth for our floor. It contained a table, a small locker for pots,
spoons, plates, etc., and a small hole cut to let in the light.
Here we put our chests, threw our bedding into the berths, and took
up our quarters. Over our head was another small room, in which
Mr. Russell lived, who had charge of the hide-house; the same man
who was for a time an officer of the Pilgrim. There he lived in
solitary grandeur; eating and sleeping alone, (and these were his
principal occupations,) and communing with his own dignity.
The boy was to act as cook; while myself, a giant of a Frenchman
named Nicholas, and four Sandwich Islanders, were to cure the hides.
Sam, the Frenchman, and myself, lived together in the room, and the
four Sandwich Islanders worked and ate with us, but generally slept
at the oven. My new messmate, Nicholas, was the most immense man
that I had ever seen in my life. He came on the coast in a vessel
which was afterwards wrecked, and now let himself out to the
different houses to cure hides. He was considerably over six
feet, and of a frame so large that he might have been shown
for a curiosity. But the most remarkable thing about him was his
feet. They were so large that he could not find a pair of shoes
in California to fit him, and was obliged to send to Oahu for a
pair; and when he got them, he was compelled to wear them down at
the heel. He told me once, himself, that he was wrecked in an
American brig on the Goodwin Sands, and was sent up to London,
to the charge of the American consul, without clothing to his
back or shoes to his feet, and was obliged to go about London
streets in his stocking feet three or four days, in the month
of January, until the consul could have a pair of shoes made
for him. His strength was in proportion to his size, and his
ignorance to his strength--"strong as an ox, and ignorant as
strong." He neither knew how to read nor write. He had been
to sea from a boy, and had seen all kinds of service, and been
in every kind of vessel: merchantmen, men-of-war, privateers,
and slavers; and from what I could gather from his accounts of
himself, and from what he once told me, in confidence, after we
had become better acquainted, he had even been in worse business
than slave-trading. He was once tried for his life in Charleston,
South Carolina, and though acquitted, yet he was so frightened that
he never would show himself in the United States again; and I could
not persuade him that he could never be tried a second time for the
same offence. He said he had got safe off from the breakers, and was
too good a sailor to risk his timbers again.

Though I knew what his life had been, yet I never had the slightest
fear of him. We always got along very well together, and, though
so much stronger and larger than I, he showed a respect for
my education, and for what he had heard of my situation before
coming to sea. "I'll be good friends with you," he used to say,
"for by-and-by you'll come out here captain, and then you'll haze me
well!" By holding well together, we kept the officer in good order,
for he was evidently afraid of Nicholas, and never ordered us,
except when employed upon the hides. My other companions,
the Sandwich Islanders, deserve particular notice.

A considerable trade has been carried on for several years between
California and the Sandwich Islands, and most of the vessels are
manned with Islanders; who, as they, for the most part, sign no
articles, leave whenever they choose, and let themselves out to
cure hides at San Diego, and to supply the places of the men of the
American vessels while on the coast. In this way, quite a colony
of them had become settled at San Diego, as their headquarters.
Some of these had recently gone off in the Ayacucho and Loriotte,
and the Pilgrim had taken Mr. Mannini and three others, so that
there were not more than twenty left. Of these, four were on pay
at the Ayacucho's house, four more working with us, and the rest
were living at the oven in a quiet way; for their money was nearly
gone, and they must make it last until some other vessel came down
to employ them.

During the four months that I lived here, I got well acquainted
with all of them, and took the greatest pains to become familiar
with their language, habits, and characters. Their language,
I could only learn, orally, for they had not any books among them,
though many of them had been taught to read and write by the
missionaries at home. They spoke a little English, and by a sort
of compromise, a mixed language was used on the beach, which could be
understood by all. The long name of Sandwich Islanders is dropped,
and they are called by the whites, all over the Pacific ocean,
"Kanákas," from a word in their own language which they apply to
themselves, and to all South Sea Islanders, in distinction from
whites, whom they call "Haole." This name, "Kanaka," they answer to,
both collectively and individually. Their proper names, in their
own language, being difficult to pronounce and remember, they are
called by any names which the captains or crews may choose to
give them. Some are called after the vessel they are in; others
by common names, as Jack, Tom, Bill; and some have fancy names,
as Ban-yan, Fore-top, Rope-yarn, Pelican, etc., etc. Of the four
who worked at our house one was named "Mr. Bingham," after the
missionary at Oahu; another, Hope, after a vessel that he had been
in; a third, Tom Davis, the name of his first captain; and the fourth,
Pelican, from his fancied resemblance to that bird. Then there was
Lagoda-Jack, California-Bill, etc., etc. But by whatever names
they might be called, they were the most interesting, intelligent,
and kind-hearted people that I ever fell in with. I felt a positive
attachment for almost all of them; and many of them I have, to this
time, a feeling for, which would lead me to go a great way for the
mere pleasure of seeing them, and which will always make me feel a
strong interest in the mere name of a Sandwich Islander.

Tom Davis knew how to read, write, and cipher in common arithmetic;
had been to the United States, and spoke English quite well.
His education was as good as that of three-quarters of the Yankees
in California, and his manners and principles a good deal better,
and he was so quick of apprehension that he might have been taught
navigation, and the elements of many of the sciences, with the most
perfect ease. Old "Mr. Bingham" spoke very little English--almost
none, and neither knew how to read nor write; but he was the
best-hearted old fellow in the world. He must have been over fifty
years of age, and had two of his front teeth knocked out, which was
done by his parents as a sign of grief at the death of Kamehameha,
the great king of the Sandwich Islands. We used to tell him that he
ate Captain Cook, and lost his teeth in that way. That was the only
thing that ever made him angry. He would always be quite excited
at that; and say--"Aole!" (no.) "Me no eat Captain Cook! Me
pikinini--small--so high--no more! My father see Captain Cook!
Me--no!" None of them liked to have anything said about Captain
Cook, for the sailors all believe that he was eaten, and that,
they cannot endure to be taunted with.--"New Zealand Kanaka eat
white man;--Sandwich Island Kanaka--no. Sandwich Island Kanaka
ua like pu na haole--all 'e same a' you!"

Mr. Bingham was a sort of patriarch among them, and was always
treated with great respect, though he had not the education and energy
which gave Mr. Mannini his power over them. I have spent hours in
talking with this old fellow about Kamehameha, the Charlemagne
of the Sandwich Islands; his son and successor Riho Riho, who died
in England, and was brought to Oahu in the frigate Blonde, Captain
Lord Byron, and whose funeral he remembered perfectly; and also
about the customs of his country in his boyhood, and the changes
which had been made by the missionaries. He never would allow that
human beings had been eaten there; and, indeed, it always seemed
like an insult to tell so affectionate, intelligent, and civilized
a class of men, that such barbarities had been practised in their
own country within the recollection of many of them. Certainly,
the history of no people on the globe can show anything like so
rapid an advance. I would have trusted my life and my fortune in
the hands of any one of these people; and certainly had I wished
for a favor or act of sacrifice, I would have gone to them all,
in turn, before I should have applied to one of my own countrymen
on the coast, and should have expected to have seen it done,
before my own countrymen had got half through counting the cost.
Their costumes, and manner of treating one another, show a simple,
primitive generosity, which is truly delightful; and which is often
a reproach to our own people. Whatever one has, they all have.
Money, food, clothes, they share with one another; even to the
last piece of tobacco to put in their pipes. I once heard old
Mr. Bingham say, with the highest indignation, to a Yankee trader
who was trying to persuade him to keep his money to himself--"No!
We no all 'e same a' you!--Suppose one got money, all got money.
You;--suppose one got money--lock him up in chest.--No good!"--
"Kanaka all 'e same a' one!" This principle they carry so far,
that none of them will eat anything in the sight of others without
offering it all round. I have seen one of them break a biscuit,
which had been given him, into five parts, at a time when I knew
he was on a very short allowance, as there was but little to eat
on the beach.

My favorite among all of them, and one who was liked by both officers
and men, and by whomever he had anything to do with, was Hope.
He was an intelligent, kind-hearted little fellow, and I never
saw him angry, though I knew him for more than a year, and have
seen him imposed upon by white people, and abused by insolent
officers of vessels. He was always civil, and always ready,
and never forgot a benefit. I once took care of him when he was ill,
getting medicines from the ship's chests, when no captain or officer
would do anything for him, and he never forgot it. Every Kanaka has
one particular friend, whom he considers himself bound to do
everything for, and with whom he has a sort of contract,--an
alliance offensive and defensive,--and for whom he will often make
the greatest sacrifices. This friend they call aikane; and for such
did Hope adopt me. I do not believe I could have wanted anything
which he had, that he would not have given me. In return for this,
I was always his friend among the Americans, and used to teach
him letters and numbers; for he left home before he had learned
how to read. He was very curious about Boston (as they call the
United States); asking many questions about the houses, the people,
etc., and always wished to have the pictures in books explained to
him. They were all astonishingly quick in catching at explanations,
and many things which I had thought it utterly impossible to make
them understand, they often seized in an instant, and asked
questions which showed that they knew enough to make them wish to
go farther. The pictures of steamboats and railroad cars, in the
columns of some newspapers which I had, gave me great difficulty
to explain. The grading of the road, the rails, the construction of
the carriages, they could easily understand, but the motion produced
by steam was a little too refined for them. I attempted to show it
to them once by an experiment upon the cook's coppers, but failed;
probably as much from my own ignorance as from their want of
apprehension; and, I have no doubt, left them with about as clear
an idea of the principle as I had myself. This difficulty, of course,
existed in the same force with the steamboats and all I could do was
to give them some account of the results, in the shape of speed; for,
failing in the reason, I had to fall back upon the fact. In my account
of the speed I was supported by Tom, who had been to Nantucket,
and seen a little steamboat which ran over to New Bedford.

A map of the world, which I once showed them, kept their attention
for hours; those who knew how to read pointing out the places
and referring to me for the distances. I remember being much
amused with a question which Hope asked me. Pointing to the large
irregular place which is always left blank round the poles, to
denote that it is undiscovered, he looked up and asked.--"Pau?"
(Done? ended?)

The system of naming the streets and numbering the houses, they
easily understood, and the utility of it. They had a great desire to
see America, but were afraid of doubling Cape Horn, for they suffer
much in cold weather, and had heard dreadful accounts of the Cape,
from those of their number who had been round it.

They smoke a great deal, though not much at a time; using pipes
with large bowls, and very short stems, or no stems at all. These,
they light, and putting them to their mouths, take a long draught,
getting their mouths as full as they can hold, and their cheeks
distended, and then let it slowly out through their mouths and nostrils.
The pipe is then passed to others, who draw, in the same manner,
one pipe-full serving for half a dozen. They never take short,
continuous draughts, like Europeans, but one of these "Oahu puffs,"
as the sailors call them, serves for an hour or two, until some one
else lights his pipe, and it is passed round in the same manner.
Each Kanaka on the beach had a pipe, flint, steel, tinder, a hand
of tobacco, and a jack-knife, which he always carried about with him.

That which strikes a stranger most peculiarly is their style of
singing. They run on, in a low, guttural, monotonous sort of chant,
their lips and tongues seeming hardly to move, and the sounds modulated
solely in the throat. There is very little tune to it, and the
words, so far as I could learn, are extempore. They sing about
persons and things which are around them, and adopt this method
when they do not wish to be understood by any but themselves;
and it is very effectual, for with the most careful attention I never
could detect a word that I knew. I have often heard Mr. Mannini,
who was the most noted improvisatore among them, sing for an hour
together, when at work in the midst of Americans and Englishmen;
and, by the occasional shouts and laughter of the Kanakas,
who were at a distance, it was evident that he was singing about
the different men that he was at work with. They have great powers
of ridicule, and are excellent mimics; many of them discovering and
imitating the peculiarities of our own people, before we had seen
them ourselves.

These were the people with whom I was to spend a few months;
and who, with the exception of the officer, Nicholas the Frenchman,
and the boy, made the whole population of the beach. I ought,
perhaps, to except the dogs, for they were an important part of our
settlement. Some of the first vessels brought dogs out with them,
who, for convenience, were left ashore, and there multiplied,
until they came to be a great people. While I was on the beach,
the average number was about forty, and probably an equal, or
greater number are drowned, or killed in some other way, every year.
They are very useful in guarding the beach, the Indians being afraid
to come down at night; for it was impossible for any one to get within
half a mile of the hide-houses without a general alarm. The father
of the colony, old Sachem, so called from the ship in which he was
brought out, died while I was there, full of years, and was honorably
buried. Hogs, and a few chickens, were the rest of the animal tribe,
and formed, like the dogs, a common company, though they were all
known and marked, and usually fed at the houses to which they

I had been but a few hours on the beach, and the Pilgrim was
hardly out of sight, when the cry of "Sail ho!" was raised, and a
small hermaphrodite brig rounded the point, bore up into the harbor,
and came to anchor. It was the Mexican brig Fazio, which we
had left at San Pedro, and which had come down to land her tallow,
try it all over, and make new bags, and then take it in, and leave the
coast. They moored ship, erected their try-works on shore, put up
a small tent, in which they all lived, and commenced operations.
They made an addition to our society, and we spent many evenings in
their tent, where, amid the Babel of English, Spanish, French, Indian,
and Kanaka, we found some words that we could understand in common.

The morning after my landing, I began the duties of hide-curing.
In order to understand these, it will be necessary to give the whole
history of a hide, from the time it is taken from a bullock until it
is put on board the vessel to be carried to Boston. When the hide
is taken from the bullock, holes are cut round it, near the edge,
by which it is staked out to dry. In this manner it dries without
shrinking. After they are thus dried in the sun, they are received by
the vessels, and brought down to the depot at San Diego. The vessels
land them, and leave them in large piles near the houses.

Then begins the hide-curer's duty. The first thing is to put them
in soak. This is done by carrying them down at low tide, and making
them fast, in small piles, by ropes, and letting the tide come up
and cover them. Every day we put in soak twenty-five for each
man, which, with us, made an hundred and fifty. There they
lie forty-eight hours, when they are taken out, and rolled up,
in wheelbarrows, and thrown into the vats. These vats contain brine,
made very strong; being sea-water, with great quantities of salt thrown
in. This pickles the hides, and in this they lie forty-eight hours;
the use of the sea-water, into which they are first put, being merely
to soften and clean them. From these vats, they are taken, and lie on
a platform twenty-four hours, and then are spread upon the ground,
and carefully stretched and staked out, so that they may dry smooth.
After they were staked, and while yet wet and soft, we used to go
upon them with our knives, and carefully cut off all the bad parts:--
the pieces of meat and fat, which would corrupt and infect the whole
if stowed away in a vessel for many months, the large flippers,
the ears, and all other parts which would prevent close stowage.
This was the most difficult part of our duty: as it required much
skill to take everything necessary off and not to cut or injure the hide.
It was also a long process, as six of us had to clean an hundred and
fifty, most of which required a great deal to be done to them, as the
Spaniards are very careless in skinning their cattle. Then, too,
as we cleaned them while they were staked out, we were obliged to
kneel down upon them, which always gives beginners the back-ache.
The first day, I was so slow and awkward that I cleaned only eight;
at the end of a few days I doubled my number; and in a fortnight or
three weeks, could keep up with the others, and clean my proportion

This cleaning must be got through with before noon; for by that
time they get too dry. After the sun has been upon them a few
hours, they are carefully gone over with scrapers, to get off all the
grease which the sun brings out. This being done, the stakes are
pulled up, and the hides carefully doubled, with the hair side out,
and left to dry. About the middle of the afternoon they are turned
upon the other side, and at sundown piled up and covered over.
The next day they are spread out and opened again, and at night,
if fully dry, are thrown upon a long, horizontal pole, five at
a time, and beat with flails. This takes all the dust from them.
Then, being salted, scraped, cleaned, dried, and beaten, they are
stowed away in the house. Here ends their history, except that
they are taken out again when the vessel is ready to go home, beaten,
stowed away on board, carried to Boston, tanned, made into shoes and
other articles for which leather is used; and many of them, very probably,
in the end, brought back again to California in the shape of shoes,
and worn out in pursuit of other bullocks, or in the curing of
other hides.

By putting an hundred and fifty in soak every day, we had the
same number at each stage of curing, on each day; so that we had,
every day, the same work to do upon the same number: an hundred
and fifty to put in soak; an hundred and fifty to wash out and put
in the vat; the same number to haul from the vat and put on the
platform to drain; the same number to spread and stake out and
clean; and the same number to beat and stow away in the home.
I ought to except Sunday; for, by a prescription which no captain
or agent has yet ventured to break in upon, Sunday has been a day
of leisure on the beach for years. On Saturday night, the hides,
in every stage of progress, are carefully covered up, and not
uncovered until Monday morning. On Sundays we had absolutely
no work to do, unless it was to kill a bullock, which was sent
down for our use about once a week, and sometimes came on Sunday.
Another good arrangement was, that we had just so much work to do,
and when that was through, the time was our own. Knowing this,
we worked hard, and needed no driving. We "turned out" every
morning at the first signs of daylight, and allowing a short time,
about eight o'clock, for breakfast, generally got through our labor
between one and two o'clock, when we dined, and had the rest of the
time to ourselves; until just before sundown, when we beat the dry
hides and put them in the house, and covered over all the others.
By this means we had about three hours to ourselves every afternoon;
and at sundown we had our supper, and our work was done for the day.
There was no watch to stand, and no topsails to reef. The evenings
we generally spent at one another's houses, and I often went up and
spent an hour or so at the oven; which was called the "Kanaka Hotel,"
and the "Oahu Coffee-house." Immediately after dinner we usually
took a short siésta to make up for our early rising, and spent the
rest of the afternoon according to our own fancies. I generally
read, wrote, and made or mended clothes; for necessity, the mother
of invention, had taught me these two latter arts. The Kanakas went
up to the oven, and spent the time in sleeping, talking, and smoking;
and my messmate, Nicholas, who neither knew how to read or write,
passed away the time by a long siésta, two or three smokes with
his pipe, and a paséo to the other houses. This leisure time is
never interfered with, for the captains know that the men earn it
by working hard and fast, and that if they interfered with it,
the men could easily make their twenty-five hides apiece last
through the day. We were pretty independent, too, for the master
of the house--"capitan de la casa"-- had nothing to say to us,
except when we were at work on the hides, and although we could
not go up to the town without his permission, this was seldom or
never refused.

The great weight of the wet hides, which we were obliged to roll
about in wheelbarrows; the continual stooping upon those which
were pegged out to be cleaned; and the smell of the vats, into which
we were often obliged to get, knee-deep, to press down the hides;
all made the work disagreeable and fatiguing;--but we soon got
hardened to it, and the comparative independence of our life
reconciled us to it; for there was nobody to haze us and find fault;
and when we got through, we had only to wash and change our clothes,
and our time was our own. There was, however, one exception to the
time's being our own; which was, that on two afternoons of every
week we were obliged to go off and get wood, for the cook to use
in the galley. Wood is very scarce in the vicinity of San Diego;
there being no trees of any size, for miles. In the town,
the inhabitants burn the small wood which grows in thickets,
and for which they send out Indians, in large numbers, every few days.
Fortunately, the climate is so fine that they had no need of a fire in
their houses, and only use it for cooking. With us the getting of
wood was a great trouble; for all that in the vicinity of the houses
had been cut down, and we were obliged to go off a mile or two,
and to carry it some distance on our backs, as we could not get the
hand-cart up the hills and over the uneven places. Two afternoons
in the week, generally Monday and Thursday, as soon as we had got
through dinner, we started off for the bush, each of us furnished
with a hatchet and a long piece of rope, and dragging the hand-cart
behind us, and followed by the whole colony of dogs, who were
always ready for the bush, and were half mad whenever they saw
our preparations. We went with the hand-cart as far as we could
conveniently drag it, and leaving it in an open, conspicuous place,
separated ourselves; each taking his own course, and looking about
for some good place to begin upon. Frequently, we had to go nearly
a mile from the hand-cart before we could find any fit place.
Having lighted upon a good thicket, the next thing was to clear
away the under-brush, and have fair play at the trees. These trees
are seldom more than five or six feet high, and the highest that I
ever saw in these expeditions could not have been more than twelve;
so that, with lopping off the branches and clearing away the underwood,
we had a good deal of cutting to do for a very little wood. Having cut
enough for a "back-load," the next thing was to make it well fast
with the rope, and heaving the bundle upon our backs, and taking
the hatchet in hand, to walk off, up hill and down dale, to the
hand-cart. Two good back-loads apiece filled the hand-cart;
and that was each one's proportion. When each had brought down
his second load, we filled the hand-cart, and took our way again
slowly back, and unloading, covering the hides for the night,
and getting our supper, finished the day's work.

These wooding excursions had always a mixture of something
rather pleasant in them. Roaming about in the woods with hatchet
in hand, like a backwoodsman, followed by a troop of dogs; starting
up of birds, snakes, hares and foxes, and examining the various kinds
of trees, flowers, and birds' nests, was at least, a change from
the monotonous drag and pull on shipboard. Frequently, too,
we had some amusement and adventure. The coati, of which I have
before spoken,--a sort of mixture of the fox and wolf breeds,--fierce
little animals, with bushy tails and large heads, and a quick, sharp
bark, abound here, as in all other parts of California. These,
the dogs were very watchful for, and whenever they saw them,
started off in full run after them. We had many fine chases;
yet, although our dogs ran finely, the rascals generally escaped.
They are a match for the dog,---one to one,--but as the dogs
generally went in squads, there was seldom a fair fight. A smaller
dog, belonging to us, once attacked a coati, single, and got a good
deal worsted, and might perhaps have been killed had we not come to
his assistance. We had, however, one dog which gave them a good
deal of trouble, and many hard runs. He was a fine, tall fellow,
and united strength and agility better than any dog that I have
ever seen. He was born at the Islands, his father being an English
mastiff, and his mother a greyhound. He had the high head, long legs,
narrow body, and springing gait of the latter, and the heavy jaw,
thick jowls, and strong fore-quarters of the mastiff. When he was
brought to San Diego, an English sailor said that he looked,
about the face, precisely like the Duke of Wellington, whom he had
once seen at the Tower; and, indeed, there was something about him
which resembled the portraits of the Duke. From this time he was
christened "Welly," and became the favorite and bully of the beach.
He always led the dogs by several yards in the chase, and had killed
two coati at different times in single combats. We often had fine
sport with these fellows. A quick, sharp bark from a coati, and in
an instant every dog was at the height of his speed. A few moments
made up for an unfair start, and gave each dog his relative place.
Welly, at the head, seemed almost to skim over the bushes; and after
him came Fanny, Feliciana, Childers, and the other fleet ones,--
the spaniels and terriers; and then behind, followed the heavy
corps--bulldogs, etc., for we had every breed. Pursuit by us was
in vain, and in about half an hour a few of them would come panting
and straggling back.

Beside the coati, the dogs sometimes made prizes of rabbits and
hares, which are very plentiful here, and great numbers of which
we often shot for our dinners. There was another animal that I
was not so much disposed to find amusement from, and that was the
rattlesnake. These are very abundant here, especially during the
spring of the year. The latter part of the time that I was on shore,
I did not meet with so many, but for the first two months we seldom
went into "the bush" without one of our number starting some of them.
The first that I ever saw, I remember perfectly well. I had left my
companions, and was beginning to clear away a fine clump of trees,
when just in the midst of the thicket, not more than eight yards from
me, one of these fellows set up his hiss. It is a sharp, continuous
sound, and resembles very much the letting off of the steam from
the small pipe of a steamboat, except that it is on a smaller scale.
I knew, by the sound of an axe, that one of my companions was near,
and called out to him, to let him know what I had fallen upon.
He took it very lightly, and as he seemed inclined to laugh at me for
being afraid, I determined to keep my place. I knew that so long
as I could hear the rattle, I was safe, for these snakes never make
a noise when they are in motion. Accordingly, I kept at my work,
and the noise which I made with cutting and breaking the trees kept
him in alarm; so that I had the rattle to show me his whereabouts.
Once or twice the noise stopped for a short time, which gave me a
little uneasiness, and retreating a few steps, I threw something
into the bush, at which he would set his rattle agoing; and finding
that he had not moved from his first place, I was easy again.
In this way I continued at my work until I had cut a full load,
never suffering him to be quiet for a moment. Having cut my load,
I strapped it together, and got everything ready for starting.
I felt that I could now call the others without the imputation of
being afraid; and went in search of them. In a few minutes we
were all collected, and began an attack upon the bush. The big
Frenchman, who was the one that I had called to at first, I found
as little inclined to approach the snake as I had been. The dogs,
too, seemed afraid of the rattle, and kept up a barking at a safe
distance; but the Kanakas showed no fear, and getting long sticks,
went into the bush, and keeping a bright look-out, stood within a
few feet of him. One or two blows struck near him, and a few stones
thrown, started him, and we lost his track, and had the pleasant
consciousness that he might be directly under our feet. By throwing
stones and chips in different directions, we made him spring his
rattle again, and began another attack. This time we drove him
into the clear ground, and saw him gliding off, with head and tail
erect, when a stone, well aimed, knocked him over the bank, down a
declivity of fifteen or twenty feet, and stretched him at his length.
Having made sure of him, by a few more stones, we went down, and one
of the Kanakas cut off his rattle. These rattles vary in number it
is said, according to the age of the snake; though the Indians think
they indicate the number of creatures they have killed. We always
preserved them as trophies, and at the end of the summer had quite
a number. None of our people were ever bitten by them, but one of
our dogs died of a bite, and another was supposed to have been bitten,
but recovered. We had no remedy for the bite, though it was said that
the Indians of the country had, and the Kanakas professed to have an
herb which would cure it, but it was fortunately never brought to the test.

Hares and rabbits, as I said before, were abundant, and, during the
winter months, the waters are covered with wild ducks and geese.
Crows, too, were very numerous, and frequently alighted in great
numbers upon our hides, picking at the pieces of dried meat and fat.
Bears and wolves are numerous in the upper parts, and in the interior,
(and, indeed, a man was killed by a bear within a few miles of
San Pedro, while we were there,) but there were none in our
immediate neighborhood. The only other animals were horses.
Over a dozen of these were owned by different people on the beach,
and were allowed to run loose among the hills, with a long lasso
attached to them, and pick up feed wherever they could find it.
We were sure of seeing them once a day, for there was no water
among the hills, and they were obliged to come down to the well
which had been dug upon the beach. These horses were bought at,
from two, to six and eight dollars apiece, and were held very much
as common property. We generally kept one fast to one of the houses
every day, so that we could mount him and catch any of the others.
Some of them were really fine animals, and gave us many good runs
up to the Presidio and over the country.


After we had been a few weeks on shore, and had begun to feel
broken into the regularity of our life, its monotony was
interrupted by the arrival of two vessels from the windward.
We were sitting at dinner in our little room, when we heard the cry
of "Sail ho!" This, we had learned, did not always signify a vessel,
but was raised whenever a woman was seen coming down from the town;
or a squaw, or an ox-cart, or anything unusual, hove in sight upon
the road; so we took no notice of it. But it soon became so loud
and general from all parts of the beach, that we were led to go
to the door; and there, sure enough, were two sails coming round
the point, and leaning over from the strong north-west wind,
which blows down the coast every afternoon. The headmost was a
ship, and the other, a brig. Everybody was alive on the beach,
and all manner of conjectures were abroad. Some said it was the
Pilgrim, with the Boston ship, which we were expecting; but we soon
saw that the brig was not the Pilgrim, and the ship with her stump
top-gallant masts and rusty sides, could not be a dandy Boston
Indiaman. As they drew nearer, we soon discovered the high poop
and top-gallant forecastle, and other marks of the Italian ship Rosa,
and the brig proved to be the Catalina, which we saw at Santa Barbara,
just arrived from Valparaiso. They came to anchor, moored ship,
and commenced discharging hides and tallow. The Rosa had purchased
the house occupied by the Lagoda, and the Catalina took the other
spare one between ours and the Ayacucho's, so that, now, each one
was occupied, and the beach, for several days, was all alive.
The Catalina had several Kanakas on board, who were immediately
besieged by the others, and carried up to the oven, where they had
a long pow-wow, and a smoke. Two Frenchmen, who belonged to the
Rosa's crew, came in, every evening, to see Nicholas; and from them
we learned that the Pilgrim was at San Pedro, and was the only other
vessel now on the coast. Several of the Italians slept on shore at
their hide-house; and there, and at the tent in which the Fazio's
crew lived, we had some very good singing almost every evening.
The Italians sang a variety of songs--barcarollas, provincial airs,
etc.; in several of which I recognized parts of our favorite operas
and sentimental songs. They often joined in a song, taking all the
different parts; which produced a fine effect, as many of them had good
voices, and all seemed to sing with spirit and feeling. One young
man, in particular, had a falsetto as clear as a clarionet.

The greater part of the crews of the vessels came ashore every
evening, and we passed the time in going about from one house to
another, and listening to all manner of languages. The Spanish was
the common ground upon which we all met; for every one knew more or
less of that. We had now, out of forty or fifty, representatives
from almost every nation under the sun: two Englishmen, three Yankees,
two Scotchmen, two Welshmen, one Irishman, three Frenchmen (two of
whom were Normans, and the third from Gascony,) one Dutchman,
one Austrian, two or three Spaniards, (from old Spain,) half a
dozen Spanish-Americans and half-breeds, two native Indians from
Chili and the Island of Chiloe, one Negro, one Mulatto, about twenty
Italians, from all parts of Italy, as many more Sandwich Islanders,
one Otaheitan, and one Kanaka from the Marquesas Islands.

The night before the vessels were ready to sail, all the
Europeans united and had an entertainment at the Rosa's hide-house,
and we had songs of every nation and tongue. A German gave us
"Och! mein lieber Augustin!" the three Frenchmen roared through the
Marseilles Hymn; the English and Scotchmen gave us "Rule Britannia,"
and "Wha'll be King but Charlie?" the Italians and Spaniards screamed
through some national affairs, for which I was none the wiser;
and we three Yankees made an attempt at the "Star-spangled Banner."
After these national tributes had been paid, the Austrian gave us
a very pretty little love-song, and the Frenchmen sang a spirited
thing called "Sentinelle! O prenez garde a vous!" and then
followed the melange which might have been expected. When I

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