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Two Years Before the Mast by Richard Henry Dana

Part 4 out of 8

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left them, the aguardiente and annisou was pretty well in their
heads, and they were all singing and talking at once, and their
peculiar national oaths were getting as plenty as pronouns.

The next day, the two vessels got under weigh for the windward,
and left us in quiet possession of the beach. Our numbers were
somewhat enlarged by the opening of the new houses, and the society
of the beach a little changed. In charge of the Catalina's house,
was an old Scotchman, who, like most of his countrymen, had a pretty
good education, and, like many of them, was rather pragmatical,
and had a ludicrously solemn conceit. He employed his time in
taking care of his pigs, chickens, turkeys, dogs, etc., and in
smoking his long pipe. Everything was as neat as a pin in the
house, and he was as regular in his hours as a chronometer, but as
he kept very much by himself, was not a great addition to our
society. He hardly spent a cent all the time he was on the beach,
and the others said he was no shipmate. He had been a petty officer
on board the British frigate Dublin, Capt. Lord James Townshend,
and had great ideas of his own importance. The man in charge
of the Rosa's house was an Austrian by birth, but spoke, read,
and wrote four languages with ease and correctness. German was his
native tongue, but being born near the borders of Italy, and having
sailed out of Genoa, the Italian was almost as familiar to him as
his own language. He was six years on board of an English man-of-war,
where he learned to speak our language with ease, and also to read
and write it. He had been several years in Spanish vessels,
and had acquired that language so well, that he could read any
books in it. He was between forty and fifty years of age, and was
a singular mixture of the man-of-war's-man and Puritan. He talked
a great deal about propriety and steadiness, and gave good advice
to the youngsters and Kanakas, but seldom went up to the town,
without coming down "three sheets in the wind." One holyday, he
and old Robert (the Scotchman from the Catalina) went up to the
town, and got so cozy, talking over old stories and giving one
another good advice, that they came down double-backed, on a horse,
and both rolled off into the sand as soon as the horse stopped.
This put an end to their pretensions, and they never heard the last
of it from the rest of the men. On the night of the entertainment
at the Rosa's house, I saw old Schmidt, (that was the Austrian's name)
standing up by a hogshead, holding on by both hands, and calling out
to himself--"Hold on, Schmidt! hold on, my good fellow, or you'll
be on your back!" Still, he was an intelligent, good-natured old
fellow, and had a chest-full of books, which he willingly lent
me to read. In the same house with him was a Frenchman and an
Englishman; the latter a regular-built "man-of-war Jack;" a thorough
seaman; a hearty, generous fellow; and, at the same time, a drunken,
dissolute dog. He made it a point to get drunk once a fortnight,
(when he always managed to sleep on the road, and have his money
stolen from him,) and to battle the Frenchman once a week.
These, with a Chilian, and a half a dozen Kanakas, formed the
addition to our company.

In about six weeks from the time when the Pilgrim sailed, we had
got all the hides which she left us cured and stowed away;
and having cleared up the ground, and emptied the vats, and set
everything in order, had nothing more to do until she should come
down again, but to supply ourselves with wood. Instead of going
twice a week for this purpose, we determined to give one whole
week to getting wood, and then we should have enough to last us
half through the summer. Accordingly, we started off every morning,
after an early breakfast, with our hatchets in hand, and cut wood
until the sun was over the point,--which was our only mark of time,
as there was not a watch on the beach--and then came back to dinner,
and after dinner, started off again with our hand-cart and ropes,
and carted and "backed" it down, until sunset. This, we kept up for
a week, until we had collected several cords,--enough to last us for
six or eight weeks--when we "knocked off" altogether, much to my joy;
for, though I liked straying in the woods, and cutting, very well,
yet the backing the wood for so great a distance, over an uneven
country, was, without exception, the hardest work I had ever done.
I usually had to kneel down and contrive to heave the load, which
was well strapped together, upon my back, and then rise up and
start off with it up the hills and down the vales, sometimes through
thickets,--the rough points sticking into the skin, and tearing the
clothes, so that, at the end of the week, I had hardly a whole shirt
to my back.

We were now through all our work, and had nothing more to do until
the Pilgrim should come down again. We had nearly got through
our provisions too, as well as our work; for our officer had
been very wasteful of them, and the tea, flour, sugar, and molasses,
were all gone. We suspected him of sending them up to the town;
and he always treated the squaws with molasses, when they came
down to the beach. Finding wheat-coffee and dry bread rather
poor living, we dubbed together, and I went up to the town on
horseback with a great salt-bag behind the saddle, and a few reáls
in my pocket, and brought back the bag full of onions, pears, beans,
water-melons, and other fruits; for the young woman who tended
the garden, finding that I belonged to the American ship, and that
we were short of provisions, put in a double portion. With these
we lived like fighting-cocks for a week or two, and had, besides,
what the sailors call "a blow-out on sleep;" not turning out in the
morning until breakfast was ready. I employed several days in
overhauling my chest, and mending up all my old clothes, until I
had got everything in order--patch upon patch, like a sand-barge's
mainsail. Then I took hold of Bowditch's Navigator, which I had
always with me. I had been through the greater part of it, and now
went carefully through it, from beginning to end working out most
of the examples. That done, and there being no signs of the Pilgrim,
I made a descent upon old Schmidt, and borrowed and read all the
books there were upon the beach. Such a dearth was there of these
latter articles, that anything, even a little child's story-book,
or the half of a shipping calendar, appeared like a treasure.
I actually read a jest-book through, from beginning to end, in one
day, as I should a novel, and enjoyed it very much. At last,
when I thought that there were no more to be got, I found, at the
bottom of old Schmidt's chest, "Mandeville, a Romance, by Godwin,
in five volumes." This I had never read, but Godwin's name was enough,
and after the wretched trash I had devoured, anything bearing the name
of a distinguished intellectual man, was a prize indeed. I bore it off,
and for two days I was up early and late, reading with all my might,
and actually drinking in delight. It is no extravagance to say that
it was like a spring in a desert land.

From the sublime to the ridiculous--so with me, from Mandeville
to hide-curing, was but a step; for

Wednesday, July 18th, brought us the brig Pilgrim from the windward.
As she came in, we found that she was a good deal altered in her
appearance. Her short top-gallant masts were up; her bowlines all
unrove (except to the courses); the quarter boom-irons off her lower
yards; her jack-cross-trees sent down; several blocks got rid of;
running-rigging rove in new places; and numberless other changes
of the same character. Then, too, there was a new voice giving orders,
and a new face on the quarter-deck,--a short, dark-complexioned man,
in a green jacket and a high leather cap. These changes, of course,
set the whole beach on the qui-vive, and we were all waiting for the
boat to come ashore, that we might have things explained. At length,
after the sails were furled and the anchor carried out, the boat
pulled ashore, and the news soon flew that the expected ship had
arrived at Santa Barbara, and that Captain T----- had taken command
of her, and her captain, Faucon, had taken the Pilgrim, and was the
green-jacketed man on the quarter-deck. The boat put directly off
again, without giving us time to ask any more questions, and we were
obliged to wait till night, when we took a little skiff, that lay on
the beach, and paddled off. When I stepped aboard, the second mate
called me aft, and gave me a large bundle, directed to me, and marked
"Ship Alert." This was what I had longed for, yet I refrained from
opening it until I went ashore. Diving down into the forecastle,
I found the same old crew, and was really glad to see them again.
Numerous inquiries passed as to the new ship, the latest news from
Boston, etc., etc. S----- had received letters from home, and nothing
remarkable had happened. The Alert was agreed on all hands to be a
fine ship, and a large one: "Larger than the Rosa"--"Big enough to
carry off all the hides in California"--"Rail as high as a man's
head"--"A crack ship"--"A regular dandy," etc., etc. Captain
T----- took command of her, and she went directly up to Monterey;
from thence she was to go to San Francisco, and probably would not
be in San Diego under two or three months. Some of the Pilgrim's
crew found old ship-mates aboard of her, and spent an hour or two
in her forecastle, the evening before she sailed. They said her
decks were as white as snow--holystoned every morning, like a
man-of-war's; everything on board "shipshape and Bristol fashion;"
a fine crew, three mates, a sailmaker and carpenter, and all complete.
"They've got a man for mate of that ship, and not a bloody sheep
about decks!"--"A mate that knows his duty, and makes everybody
do theirs, and won't be imposed upon either by captain or crew."
After collecting all the information we could get on this point,
we asked something about their new captain. He had hardly been
on board long enough for them to know much about him, but he had
taken hold strong, as soon as he took command;--sending down the
top-gallant masts, and unreeving half the rigging, the very first

Having got all the news we could, we pulled ashore; and as soon as
we reached the house, I, as might be supposed, proceeded directly
to opening my bundle, and found a reasonable supply of duck,
flannel shirts, shoes, etc., and, what was still more valuable,
a packet of eleven letters. These I sat up nearly all the night
to read, and put them carefully away, to be read and re-read again
and again at my leisure. Then came a half a dozen newspapers,
the last of which gave notice of Thanksgiving, and of the clearance
of "ship Alert, Edward H. Faucon, master, for Callao and California,
by Bryant, Sturgis & Co." No one has ever been on distant voyages,
and after a long absence received a newspaper from home, who cannot
understand the delight that they give one. I read every part of them
--the houses to let; things lost or stolen; auction sales, and all.
Nothing carries you so entirely to a place, and makes you feel so
perfectly at home, as a newspaper. The very name of "Boston Daily
Advertiser" "sounded hospitably upon the ear."

The Pilgrim discharged her hides, which set us at work again,
and in a few days we were in the old routine of dry hides--wet
hides--cleaning--beating, etc. Captain Faucon came quietly up to
me, as I was at work, with my knife, cutting the meat from a dirty
hide, asked me how I liked California, and repeated--"Tityre, tu
patulae recubans sub tegmine fagi." Very apropos, thought I, and,
at the same time, serves to show that you understand Latin.
However, a kind word from a captain is a thing not to be slighted;
so I answered him civilly, and made the most of it.

Saturday, July 11th. The Pilgrim set sail for the windward, and left
us to go on in our old way. Having laid in such a supply of wood,
and the days being now long, and invariably pleasant, we had a
good deal of time to ourselves. All the duck I received from home,
I soon made up into trowsers and frocks, and displayed, every Sunday,
a complete suit of my own make, from head to foot, having formed
the remnants of the duck into a cap. Reading, mending, sleeping,
with occasional excursions into the bush, with the dogs, in search
of coati, hares, and rabbits, or to encounter a rattlesnake, and now
and then a visit to the Presidio, filled up our spare time after
hide-curing was over for the day. Another amusement, which we
sometimes indulged in, was "burning the water" for craw-fish.
For this purpose, we procured a pair of grains, with a long staff
like a harpoon, and making torches with tarred rope twisted round a
long pine stick, took the only boat on the beach, a small skiff,
and with a torch-bearer in the bow, a steersman in the stern, and one
man on each side with the grains, went off, on dark nights, to burn
the water. This is fine sport. Keeping within a few rods of the
shore, where the water is not more than three or four feet deep,
with a clear sandy bottom, the torches light everything up so that one
could almost have seen a pin among the grains of sand. The craw-fish
are an easy prey, and we used soon to get a load of them. The other
fish were more difficult to catch, yet we frequently speared a number
of them, of various kinds and sizes. The Pilgrim brought us down
a supply of fish-hooks, which we had never had before, on the beach,
and for several days we went down to the Point, and caught a
quantity of cod and mackerel. On one of these expeditions, we saw
a battle between two Sandwich Islanders and a shark. "Johnny"
had been playing about our boat for some time, driving away the
fish, and showing his teeth at our bait, when we missed him, and in
a few moments heard a great shouting between two Kanakas who were
fishing on the rock opposite to us: "E hana hana make i ka ia nui!"
"E pii mai Aikane!" etc., etc.; and saw them pulling away on a stout
line, and "Johnny Shark" floundering at the other end. The line
soon broke; but the Kanakas would not let him off so easily,
and sprang directly into the water after him. Now came the tug of
war. Before we could get into deep water, one of them seized him
by the tail, and ran up with him upon the beach; but Johnny
twisted round, turning his head under his body, and, showing his
teeth in the vicinity of the Kanaka's hand, made him let go and
spring out of the way. The shark now turned tail and made the
best of his way, by flapping and floundering, toward deep water;
but here again, before he was fairly off, the other Kanaka seized
him by the tail, and made a spring towards the beach, his companion
at the same time paying away upon him with stones and a large stick.
As soon, however, as the shark could turn, he was obliged to let go
his hold; but the instant he made toward deep water, they were both
behind him, watching their chance to seize him. In this way the
battle went on for some time, the shark, in a rage, splashing and
twisting about, and the Kanakas, in high excitement, yelling at the
top of their voices; but the shark at last got off, carrying away a
hook and liner and not a few severe bruises.


We kept up a constant connection with the Presidio, and by the close
of the summer I had added much to my vocabulary, beside having made
the acquaintance of nearly everybody in the place, and acquired some
knowledge of the character and habits of the people, as well as of
the institutions under which they live.

California was first discovered in 1536, by Cortes, and was subsequently
visited by numerous other adventurers as well as commissioned voyagers
of the Spanish crown. It was found to be inhabited by numerous tribes
of Indians, and to be in many parts extremely fertile; to which, of course,
was added rumors of gold mines, pearl fishery, etc. No sooner was the
importance of the country known, than the Jesuits obtained leave to
establish themselves in it, to Christianize and enlighten the Indians.
They established missions in various parts of the country toward the
close of the seventeenth century, and collected the natives about them,
baptizing them into the church, and teaching them the arts of civilized
life. To protect the Jesuits in their missions, and at the same time
to support the power of the crown over the civilized Indians, two
forts were erected and garrisoned, one at San Diego, and the other
at Monterey. These were called Presidios, and divided the command of
the whole country between them. Presidios have since been established
at Santa Barbara and San Francisco; thus dividing the country into
four large districts, each with its presidio, and governed by the
commandant. The soldiers, for the most part, married civilized
Indians; and thus, in the vicinity of each presidio, sprung up,
gradually, small towns. In the course of time, vessels began to
come into the ports to trade with the missions, and received hides
in return; and thus began the great trade of California. Nearly all
the cattle in the country belonged to the missions, and they employed
their Indians, who became, in fact, their slaves, in tending their
vast herds. In the year 1793, when Vancouver visited San Diego,
the mission had obtained great wealth and power, and are accused of
having depreciated the country with the sovereign, that they might
be allowed to retain their possessions. On the expulsion of the
Jesuits from the Spanish dominions, the missions passed into the
hands of the Franciscans, though without any essential change in
their management. Ever since the independence of Mexico, the missions
have been going down; until, at last, a law was passed, stripping them
of all their possessions, and confining the priests to their spiritual
duties; and at the same time declaring all the Indians free and independent
Rancheros. The change in the condition of the Indians was, as may be
supposed, only nominal: they are virtually slaves, as much as they
ever were. But in the missions, the change was complete. The priests
have now no power, except in their religious character, and the great
possessions of the missions are given over to be preyed upon by the
harpies of the civil power, who are sent there in the capacity of
administradores, to settle up the concerns; and who usually end,
in a few years, by making themselves fortunes, and leaving their
stewardships worse than they found them. The dynasty of the priests
was much more acceptable to the people of the country, and indeed,
to every one concerned with the country, by trade or otherwise,
than that of the administradores. The priests were attached
perpetually to one mission, and felt the necessity of keeping up
its credit. Accordingly, their debts were regularly paid, and the
people were, in the main, well treated, and attached to those who
had spent their whole lives among them. But the administradores are
strangers sent from Mexico, having no interest in the country;
not identified in any way with their charge, and, for the most
part, men of desperate fortunes--broken down politicians and
soldiers--whose only object is to retrieve their condition in
as short a time as possible. The change had been made but a few
years before our arrival upon the coast, yet, in that short time,
the trade was much diminished, credit impaired, and the venerable
missions going rapidly to decay. The external arrangements remain
the same. There are four presidios, having under their protection
the various missions, and pueblos, which are towns formed by the
civil power, and containing no mission or presidio. The most
northerly presidio is San Francisco; the next Monterey; the next
Santa Barbara; including the mission of the same, St. Louis Obispo,
and St. Buenaventura, which is the finest mission in the whole
country, having very fertile soil and rich vineyards. The last,
and most southerly, is San Diego, including the mission of the same,
San Juan Campestrano, the Pueblo de los Angelos, the largest town in
California, with the neighboring mission of San Gabriel. The priests
in spiritual matters are subject to the Archbishop of Mexico, and in
temporal matters to the governor-general, who is the great civil and
military head of the country.

The government of the country is an arbitrary democracy; having no
common law, and no judiciary. Their only laws are made and unmade at
the caprice of the legislature, and are as variable as the legislature
itself. They pass through the form of sending representatives to the
congress at Mexico, but as it takes several months to go and return,
and there is very little communication between the capital and this
distant province, a member usually stays there, as permanent member,
knowing very well that there will be revolutions at home before he
can write and receive an answer; if another member should be sent,
he has only to challenge him, and decide the contested election in
that way.

Revolutions are matters of constant occurrence in California.
They are got up by men who are at the foot of the ladder and in
desperate circumstances, just as a new political party is started
by such men in our own country. The only object, of course, is the
loaves and fishes; and instead of caucusing, paragraphing, libelling,
feasting, promising, and lying, as with us, they take muskets and
bayonets, and seizing upon the presidio and custom-house, divide the
spoils, and declare a new dynasty. As for justice, they know no law
but will and fear. A Yankee, who had been naturalized, and become a
Catholic, and had married in the country, was sitting in his house at
the Pueblo de los Angelos, with his wife and children, when a Spaniard,
with whom he had had a difficulty, entered the house, and stabbed
him to the heart before them all. The murderer was seized by some
Yankees who had settled there, and kept in confinement until a
statement of the whole affair could be sent to the governor-general.
He refused to do anything about it, and the countrymen of the
murdered man, seeing no prospect of justice being administered,
made known that if nothing was done, they should try the man
themselves. It chanced that, at this time, there was a company
of forty trappers and hunters from Kentucky, with their rifles,
who had made their head-quarters at the Pueblo; and these,
together with the Americans and Englishmen in the place, who were
between twenty and thirty in number, took possession of the town,
and waiting a reasonable time, proceeded to try the man according to
the forms in their own country. A judge and jury were appointed,
and he was tried, convicted, sentenced to be shot, and carried out
before the town, with his eyes blindfolded. The names of all
the men were then put into a hat and each one pledging himself
to perform his duty, twelve names were drawn out, and the men
took their stations with their rifles, and, firing at the word,
laid him dead. He was decently buried, and the place was restored
quietly to the proper authorities. A general, with titles enough
for an hidalgo, was at San Gabriel, and issued a proclamation
as long as the fore-top-bowline, threatening destruction to
the rebels, but never stirred from his fort; for forty Kentucky
hunters, with their rifles, were a match for a whole regiment of
hungry, drawling, lazy half-breeds. This affair happened while
we were at San Pedro, (the port of the Pueblo,) and we had all
the particulars directly from those who were on the spot. A few
months afterwards, another man, whom we had often seen in San Diego,
murdered a man and his wife on the high road between the Pueblo and
San Louis Rey, and the foreigners not feeling themselves called upon
to act in this case, the parties being all natives, nothing was done
about it; and I frequently afterwards saw the murderer in San Diego,
where he was living with his wife and family.

When a crime has been committed by Indians, justice, or rather
vengeance, is not so tardy. One Sunday afternoon, while I was
at San Diego, an Indian was sitting on his horse, when another,
with whom he had had some difficulty, came up to him, drew a long knife,
and plunged it directly into the horse's heart. The Indian sprang
from his falling horse, drew out the knife, and plunged it into
the other Indian's breast, over his shoulder, and laid him dead.
The poor fellow was seized at once, clapped into the calabozo,
and kept there until an answer could be received from Monterey.
A few weeks afterwards, I saw the poor wretch, sitting on the
bare ground, in front of the calabozo, with his feet chained to
a stake, and handcuffs about his wrists. I knew there was very
little hope for him. Although the deed was done in hot blood,
the horse on which he was sitting being his own, and a great
favorite, yet he was an Indian, and that was enough. In about a
week after I saw him, I heard that he had been shot. These few
instances will serve to give one a notion of the distribution of
justice in California.

In their domestic relations, these people are no better than in their
public. The men are thriftless, proud, and extravagant, and very
much given to gaming; and the women have but little education,
and a good deal of beauty, and their morality, of course, is none of
the best; yet the instances of infidelity are much less frequent than
one would at first suppose. In fact, one vice is set over against
another; and thus, something like a balance is obtained. The women
have but little virtue, but then the jealousy of their husbands is
extreme, and their revenge deadly and almost certain. A few inches
of cold steel has been the punishment of many an unwary man, who has
been guilty, perhaps, of nothing more than indiscretion of manner.
The difficulties of the attempt are numerous, and the consequences
of discovery fatal. With the unmarried women, too, great watchfulness
is used. The main object of the parents is to marry their daughters
well, and to this, the slightest slip would be fatal. The sharp eyes
of a dueña, and the cold steel of a father or brother, are a protection
which the characters of most of them--men and women--render by no means
useless; for the very men who would lay down their lives to avenge the
dishonor of their own family, would risk the same lives to complete
the dishonor of another.

Of the poor Indians, very little care is taken. The priests,
indeed, at the missions, are said to keep them very strictly,
and some rules are usually made by the alcaldes to punish their
misconduct; but it all amounts to but little. Indeed, to show the
entire want of any sense of morality or domestic duty among them,
I have frequently known an Indian to bring his wife, to whom he
was lawfully married in the church, down to the beach, and carry
her back again, dividing with her the money which she had got
from the sailors. If any of the girls were discovered by the
alcalde to be open evil-livers, they were whipped, and kept at
work sweeping the square of the presidio, and carrying mud and
bricks for the buildings; yet a few reáls would generally buy
them off. Intemperance, too, is a common vice among the Indians.
The Spaniards, on the contrary, are very abstemious, and I do not
remember ever having seen a Spaniard intoxicated.

Such are the people who inhabit a country embracing four or five
hundred miles of sea-coast, with several good harbors; with fine
forests in the north; the waters filled with fish, and the plains
covered with thousands of herds of cattle; blessed with a climate,
than which there can be no better in the world; free from all
manner of diseases, whether epidemic or endemic; and with a soil
in which corn yields from seventy to eighty fold. In the hands
of an enterprising people, what a country this might be! we are
ready to say. Yet how long would a people remain so, in such a
country? The Americans (as those from the United States are
called) and Englishmen, who are fast filling up the principal
towns, and getting the trade into their hands, are indeed more
industrious and effective than the Spaniards; yet their children
are brought up Spaniards, in every respect, and if the "California
fever" (laziness) spares the first generation, it always attacks
the second.


Saturday, July 18th. This day, sailed the Mexican hermaphrodite brig,
Fazio, for San Blas and Mazatlan. This was the brig which was driven
ashore at San Pedro in a south-easter, and had been lying at San Diego
to repair and take in her cargo. The owner of her had had a good deal
of difficulty with the government about the duties, etc., and her
sailing had been delayed for several weeks; but everything having been
arranged, she got under weigh with a light breeze, and was floating
out of the harbor, when two horsemen came dashing down to the beach,
at full speed, and tried to find a boat to put off after her; but there
being none on the beach, they offered a handful of silver to any Kanaka
who would swim off and take a letter on board. One of the Kanakas,
a fine, active, well-made young fellow, instantly threw off everything
but his duck trowsers, and putting the letter into his hat, swam off,
after the vessel. Fortunately, the wind was very light and the
vessel was going slowly, so that, although she was nearly a mile
off when he started, he gained on her rapidly. He went through the
water leaving a wake like a small steamboat. I certainly never saw
such swimming before. They saw him coming from the deck, but did
not heave-to, suspecting the nature of his errand; yet, the wind
continuing light, he swam alongside and got on board, and delivered
his letter. The captain read the letter, told the Kanaka there was no
answer, and giving him a glass of brandy, left him to jump overboard
and find the best of his way to the shore. The Kanaka swam in for
the nearest point of land, and, in about an hour, made his appearance
at the hide-house. He did not seem at all fatigued, had made three
or four dollars, got a glass of brandy, and was in fine spirits.
The brig kept on her course, and the government officers, who had
come down to forbid her sailing, went back, each with something
like a flea in his ear, having depended upon extorting a little
more money from the owner.

It was now nearly three months since the Alert arrived at Santa
Barbara, and we began to expect her daily. About a half a mile
behind the hide-house, was a high hill; and every afternoon,
as soon as we had done our work, some one of us walked up to see
if there were any sail in sight, coming down before the regular trades,
which blow every afternoon. Each day, after the latter part of July,
we went up the hill, and came back disappointed. I was anxious for
her arrival, for I had been told by letter that the owners in Boston,
at the request of my friends, had written to Captain T----- to take
me on board the Alert, in case she returned to the United States
before the Pilgrim; and I, of course, wished to know whether the
order had been received, and what was the destination of the ship.
One year more or less might be of small consequence to others,
but it was everything to me. It was now just a year since we sailed
from Boston, and at the shortest, no vessel could expect to get away
under eight or nine months, which would make our absence two years in
all. This would be pretty long, but would not be fatal. It would
not necessarily be decisive of my future life. But one year more
would settle the matter. I should be a sailor for life; and although
I had made up my mind to it before I had my letters from home, and was,
as I thought, quite satisfied; yet, as soon as an opportunity was
held out to me of returning, and the prospect of another kind of life
was opened to me, my anxiety to return, and, at least, to have the
chance of deciding upon my course for myself, was beyond measure.
Beside that, I wished to be "equal to either fortune," and to qualify
myself for an officer's berth, and a hide-house was no place to
learn seamanship in. I had become experienced in hide-curing,
and everything went on smoothly, and I had many opportunities of
becoming acquainted with the people, and much leisure for reading and
studying navigation; yet practical seamanship could only be got on
board ship; therefore, I determined to ask to be taken on board the
ship when she arrived. By the first of August, we finished curing
all our hides, stored them away, cleaned out our vats, (in which
latter work we spent two days, up to our knees in mud and the
sediments of six months' hide-curing, in a stench which would drive
a donkey from his breakfast,) and got in readiness for the arrival
of the ship, and had another leisure interval of three or four weeks;
which I spent, as usual, in reading, writing, studying, making and
mending my clothes, and getting my wardrobe in complete readiness,
in case I should go on board the ship; and in fishing, ranging the
woods with the dogs, and in occasional visits to the presidio and
mission. A good deal of my time was spent in taking care of a
little puppy, which I had selected from thirty-six, that were born
within three days of one another, at our house. He was a fine,
promising pup, with four white paws, and all the rest of his body
of a dark brown. I built a little kennel for him, and kept him
fastened there, away from the other dogs, feeding and disciplining
him myself. In a few weeks, I got him in complete subjection,
and he grew finely, was very much attached to me, and bid fair
to be one of the leading dogs on the beach. I called him Bravo,
and the only thing I regretted at the thought of leaving the beach,
was parting with him.

Day after day, we went up the hill, but no ship was to be seen,
and we began to form all sorts of conjectures as to her whereabouts;
and the theme of every evening's conversation at the different houses,
and in our afternoon's paséo upon the beach, was the ship--where
she could be--had she been to San Francisco?--how many hides she
would bring, etc., etc.

Tuesday, August 25th. This morning, the officer in charge of
our house went off beyond the point a fishing, in a small canoe,
with two Kanakas; and we were sitting quietly in our room at the
hide-house, when, just before noon, we heard a complete yell of
"Sail ho!" breaking out from all parts of the beach, at once,--from
the Kanakas' oven to the Rosa's house. In an instant, every one
was out of his house; and there was a fine, tall ship, with royals
and skysails set, bending over before the strong afternoon breeze,
and coming rapidly round the point. Her yards were braced sharp
up; every sail was set, and drew well; the Yankee ensign was flying
from her mizen-peak; and having the tide in her favor, she came up
like a race-horse. It was nearly six months since a new vessel had
entered San Diego, and of course, every one was on the qui-vive.
She certainly made a fine appearance. Her light sails were taken
in, as she passed the low, sandy tongue of land, and clewing up her
head sails, she rounded handsomely to, under her mizen topsail,
and let go the anchor at about a cable's length from the shore.
In a few minutes, the topsail yards were manned, and all three
of the topsails furled at once. From the fore top-gallant yard,
the men slid down the stay to furl the jib, and from the mizen
top-gallant yard, by the stay, into the maintop, and thence to
the yard; and the men on the topsail yards came down the lifts
to the yard-arms of the courses. The sails were furled with
great care, the bunts triced up by jiggers, and the jibs stowed
in cloth. The royal yards were then struck, tackles got upon the
yard-arms and the stay, the long-boat hoisted out, a large anchor
carried astern, and the ship moored. Then the captain's gig was
lowered away from the quarter, and a boat's crew of fine lads,
between the ages of fourteen and eighteen, pulled the captain
ashore. The gig was a light whale-boat, handsomely painted,
and fitted up with cushions, etc., in the stern sheets.
We immediately attacked the boat's crew, and got very thick
with them in a few minutes. We had much to ask about Boston,
their passage out, etc., and they were very curious to know about
the life we were leading upon the beach. One of them offered to
exchange with me; which was just what I wanted; and we had only
to get the permission of the captain.

After dinner, the crew began discharging their hides, and, as we
had nothing to do at the hide-houses, we were ordered aboard to
help them. I had now my first opportunity of seeing the ship which
I hoped was to be my home for the next year. She looked as well
on board as she did from without. Her decks were wide and roomy,
(there being no poop, or house on deck, which disfigures the after
part of most of our vessels,) flush, fore and aft, and as white as
snow, which the crew told us was from constant use of holystones.
There was no foolish gilding and gingerbread work, to take the eye
of landsmen and passengers, but everything was "ship-shape and
Bristol fashion." There was no rust, no dirt, no rigging hanging
slack, no fag ends of ropes and "Irish pendants" aloft, and the
yards were squared "to a t" by lifts and braces.

The mate was a fine, hearty, noisy fellow, with a voice like a lion,
and always wide awake. He was "a man, every inch of him," as the
sailors said; and though "a bit of a horse," and "a hard customer,"
yet he was generally liked by the crew. There was also a second and
third mate, a carpenter, sailmaker, steward, cook, etc., and twelve,
including boys, before the mast. She had, on board, seven thousand
hides, which she had collected at the windward, and also horns
and tallow. All these we began discharging, from both gangways
at once, into the two boats, the second mate having charge of
the launch, and the third mate of the pinnace. For several days,
we were employed in this way, until all the hides were taken out,
when the crew began taking in ballast, and we returned to our old
work, hide-curing.

Saturday, Aug. 29th. Arrived, brig Catalina, from the windward.

Sunday, 30th. This was the first Sunday that the crew had been
in San Diego, and of course they were all for going up to see
the town. The Indians came down early, with horses to let for
the day, and all the crew, who could obtain liberty, went off
to the Presidio and mission, and did not return until night.
I had seen enough of San Diego, and went on board and spent
the day with some of the crew, whom I found quietly at work in
the forecastle, mending and washing their clothes, and reading
and writing. They told me that the ship stopped at Callao in
the passage out, and there lay three weeks. She had a passage
of little over eighty days from Boston to Callao, which is one of
the shortest on record. There, they left the Brandywine frigate,
and other smaller American ships of war, and the English frigate
Blonde, and a French seventy-four. From Callao they came directly
to California, and had visited every port on the coast, including
San Francisco. The forecastle in which they lived was large,
tolerably well lighted by bulls-eyes, and, being kept perfectly clean,
had quite a comfortable appearance; at least, it was far better than
the little, black, dirty hole in which I had lived so many months on
board the Pilgrim. By the regulations of the ship, the forecastle
was cleaned out every morning, and the crew, being very neat, kept
it clean by some regulations of their own, such as having a large
spitbox always under the steps and between the bits, and obliging
every man to hang up his wet clothes, etc. In addition to this,
it was holystoned every Saturday morning. In the after part of
the ship was a handsome cabin, a dining-room, and a trade-room,
fitted out with shelves and furnished with all sorts of goods.
Between these and the forecastle was the "between-decks," as high
as the gun deck of a frigate; being six feet and a half, under the
beams. These between-decks were holystoned regularly, and kept in
the most perfect order; the carpenter's bench and tools being in
one part, the sailmaker's in another, and boatswain's locker,
with the spare rigging, in a third. A part of the crew slept
here, in hammocks swung fore and aft from the beams, and triced up
every morning. The sides of the between-decks were clapboarded,
the knees and stanchions of iron, and the latter made to unship.
The crew said she was as tight as a drum, and a fine sea boat,
her only fault being, that of most fast ships,--that she was wet,
forward. When she was going, as she sometimes would, eight or
nine knots on a wind, there would not be a dry spot forward of
the gangway. The men told great stories of her sailing, and had
great confidence in her as a "lucky ship." She was seven years
old, and had always been in the Canton trade, and never had met
with an accident of any consequence, and had never made a passage
that was not shorter than the average. The third mate, a young
man of about eighteen years of age, nephew of one of the owners,
had been in the ship from a small boy, and "believed in the ship;"
and the chief mate thought more of her than he would of a wife and

The ship lay about a week longer in port, when, having discharged
her cargo and taken in ballast, she prepared to get under weigh.
I now made my application to the captain to go on board. He told
me that I could go home in the ship when she sailed (which I knew
before); and, finding that I wished to be on board while she was on
the coast, said he had no objection, if I could find one of my own
age to exchange with me, for the time. This, I easily accomplished,
for they were glad to change the scene by a few months on shore,
and, moreover, escape the winter and the south-easters; and I went
on board the next day, with my chest and hammock, and found myself
once more afloat.


Tuesday, Sept. 8th. This was my first day's duty on board the
ship; and though a sailor's life is a sailor's life wherever it
may be, yet I found everything very different here from the customs
of the brig Pilgrim. After all hands were called, at day-break,
three minutes and a half were allowed for every man to dress and
come on deck, and if any were longer than that, they were sure
to be overhauled by the mate, who was always on deck, and making
himself heard all over the ship. The head-pump was then rigged,
and the decks washed down by the second and third mates; the chief
mate walking the quarter-deck and keeping a general supervision,
but not deigning to touch a bucket or a brush. Inside and out,
fore and aft, upper deck and between decks, steerage and forecastle,
rail, bulwarks, and water-ways, were washed, scrubbed and scraped
with brooms and canvas, and the decks were wet and sanded all
over, and then holystoned. The holystone is a large, soft stone,
smooth on the bottom, with long ropes attached to each end, by which
the crew keep it sliding fore and aft, over the wet, sanded decks.
Smaller hand-stones, which the sailors call "prayer-books," are used
to scrub in among the crevices and narrow places, where the large
holystone will not go. An hour or two, we were kept at this work,
when the head-pump was manned, and all the sand washed off the
decks and sides. Then came swabs and squilgees; and after the
decks were dry, each one went to his particular morning job.
There were five boats belonging to the ship,--launch, pinnace,
jolly-boat, larboard quarter-boat, and gig,--each of which had a
coxswain, who had charge of it, and was answerable for the order
and cleanness of it. The rest of the cleaning was divided among
the crew; one having the brass and composition work about the capstan;
another the bell, which was of brass, and kept as bright as a
gilt button; a third, the harness-cask; another, the man-rope
stanchions; others, the steps of the forecastle and hatchways,
which were hauled up and holystoned. Each of these jobs must
be finished before breakfast; and, in the meantime, the rest
of the crew filled the scuttle-butt, and the cook scraped his
kids (wooden tubs out of which the sailors eat) and polished the
hoops, and placed them before the galley, to await inspection.
When the decks were dry, the lord paramount made his appearance
on the quarter-deck, and took a few turns, when eight bells
were struck, and all hands went to breakfast. Half an hour
was allowed for breakfast, when all hands were called again;
the kids, pots, bread-bags, etc., stowed away; and, this morning,
preparations were made for getting under weigh. We paid out on the
chain by which we swung; hove in on the other; catted the anchor;
and hove short on the first. This work was done in shorter time
than was usual on board the brig; for though everything was more
than twice as large and heavy, the cat-block being as much as a
man could lift, and the chain as large as three of the Pilgrim's,
yet there was a plenty of room to move about in, more discipline
and system, more men, and more good will. Every one seemed ambitious
to do his best: officers and men knew their duty, and all went well.
As soon as she was hove short, the mate, on the forecastle, gave the
order to loose the sails, and, in an instant, every one sprung into
the rigging, up the shrouds, and out on the yards, scrambling by one
another,--the first up the best fellow,--cast off the yard-arm gaskets
and bunt gaskets, and one man remained on each yard, holding the bunt
jigger with a turn round the tye, all ready to let go, while the rest
laid down to man the sheets and halyards. The mate then hailed the
yards--"All ready forward?"--"All ready the cross-jack yards?" etc.,
etc., and "Aye, aye, sir!" being returned from each, the word was
given to let go; and in the twinkling of an eye, the ship, which
had shown nothing but her bare yards, was covered with her loose
canvas, from the royal-mast-heads to the decks. Every one then
laid down, except one man in each top, to overhaul the rigging,
and the topsails were hoisted and sheeted home; all three yards
going to the mast-head at once, the larboard watch hoisting the
fore, the starboard watch the main, and five light hands, (of whom
I was one,) picked from the two watches, the mizen. The yards were
then trimmed, the anchor weighed, the cat-block hooked on, the fall
stretched out, manned by "all hands and the cook," and the anchor
brought to the head with "cheerily men!" in full chorus. The ship
being now under weigh, the light sails were set, one after another,
and she was under full sail, before she had passed the sandy point.
The fore royal, which fell to my lot, (being in the mate's watch,)
was more than twice as large as that of the Pilgrim, and, though I
could handle the brig's easily, I found my hands full, with this,
especially as there were no jacks to the ship; everything being for
neatness, and nothing left for Jack to hold on by, but his eyelids.

As soon as we were beyond the point, and all sail out, the order
was given, "Go below the watch!" and the crew said that, ever since
they had been on the coast, they had had "watch and watch," while
going from port to port; and, in fact, everything showed that,
though strict discipline was kept, and the utmost was required
of every man, in the way of his duty, yet, on the whole, there
was very good usage on board. Each one knew that he must be a
man, and show himself smart when at his duty, yet every one was
satisfied with the usage; and a contented crew, agreeing with
one another, and finding no fault, was a contrast indeed with
the small, hard-used, dissatisfied, grumbling, desponding crew
of the Pilgrim.

It being the turn of our watch to go below, the men went to work,
mending their clothes, and doing other little things for themselves;
and I, having got my wardrobe in complete order at San Diego,
had nothing to do but to read. I accordingly overhauled the
chests of the crew, but found nothing that suited me exactly,
until one of the men said he had a book which "told all about a
great highway-man," at the bottom of his chest, and producing it,
I found, to my surprise and joy, that it was nothing else than
Bulwer's Paul Clifford. This, I seized immediately, and going
to my hammock, lay there, swinging and reading, until the watch
was out. The between-decks were clear, the hatchways open,
and a cool breeze blowing through them, the ship under easy way,
and everything comfortable. I had just got well into the story,
when eight bells were struck, and we were all ordered to dinner.
After dinner came our watch on deck for four hours, and, at four
o'clock, I went below again, turned into my hammock, and read
until the dog watch. As no lights were allowed after eight o'clock,
there was no reading in the night watch. Having light winds and
calms, we were three days on the passage, and each watch below,
during the daytime, I spent in the same manner, until I had
finished my book. I shall never forget the enjoyment I derived
from it. To come across anything with the slightest claims to
literary merit, was so unusual, that this was a perfect feast to
me. The brilliancy of the book, the succession of capital hits,
lively and characteristic sketches, kept me in a constant state of
pleasing sensations. It was far too good for a sailor. I could
not expect such fine times to last long.

While on deck, the regular work of the ship went on. The sailmaker
and carpenter worked between decks, and the crew had their work to do
upon the rigging, drawing yarns, making spun-yarn, etc., as usual in
merchantmen. The night watches were much more pleasant than on board
the Pilgrim. There, there were so few in a watch, that, one being at
the wheel, and another on the look-out, there was no one left to talk
with; but here, we had seven in a watch, so that we had long yarns,
in abundance. After two or three night watches, I became quite well
acquainted with all the larboard watch. The sailmaker was the head
man of the watch, and was generally considered the most experienced
seaman on board. He was a thoroughbred old man-of-war's-man, had
been to sea twenty-two years, in all kinds of vessels--men-of-war,
privateers, slavers, and merchantmen;--everything except whalers,
which a thorough sailor despises, and will always steer clear of,
if he can. He had, of course, been in all parts of the world,
and was remarkable for drawing a long bow. His yarns frequently
stretched through a watch, and kept all hands awake. They were
always amusing from their improbability, and, indeed, he never
expected to be believed, but spun them merely for amusement;
and as he had some humor and a good supply of man-of-war slang
and sailor's salt phrases, he always made fun. Next to him in
age and experience, and, of course, in standing in the watch,
was an Englishman, named Harris, of whom I shall have more to
say hereafter. Then, came two or three Americans, who had been
the common run of European and South American voyages, and one who
had been in a "spouter," and, of course, had all the whaling stories
to himself. Last of all, was a broad-backed, thick-headed boy from
Cape Cod, who had been in mackerel schooners, and was making his
first voyage in a square-rigged vessel. He was born in Hingham,
and of course was called "Bucketmaker." The other watch was composed of
about the same number. A tall, fine-looking Frenchman, with coal-black
whiskers and curly hair, a first-rate seaman, and named John, (one name
is enough for a sailor,) was the head man of the watch. Then came two
Americans (one of whom had been a dissipated young man of property
and family, and was reduced to duck trowsers and monthly wages,)
a German, an English lad, named Ben, who belonged on the mizen
topsail yard with me, and was a good sailor for his years, and two
Boston boys just from the public schools. The carpenter sometimes
mustered in the starboard watch, and was an old sea-dog, a Swede
by birth, and accounted the best helmsman in the ship. This was
our ship's company, beside cook and steward, who were blacks,
three mates, and the captain.

The second day out, the wind drew ahead, and we had to beat up
the coast; so that, in tacking ship, I could see the regulations
of the vessel. Instead of going wherever was most convenient,
and running from place to place, wherever work was to be done,
each man had his station. A regular tacking and wearing bill
was made out. The chief mate commanded on the forecastle, and had
charge of the head sails and the forward part of the ship. Two of
the best men in the ship--the sailmaker from our watch, and John,
the Frenchman, from the other, worked the forecastle. The third
mate commanded in the waist, and, with the carpenter and one man,
worked the main tack and bowlines; the cook, ex-officio, the fore
sheet, and the steward the main. The second mate had charge of
the after yards, and let go the lee fore and main braces. I was
stationed at the weather cross-jack braces; three other light
hands at the lee; one boy at the spanker-sheet and guy; a man
and a boy at the main topsail, top-gallant, and royal braces;
and all the rest of the crew--men and boys--tallied on to the
main brace. Every one here knew his station, must be there when
all hands were called to put the ship about, and was answerable
for every rope committed to him. Each man's rope must be let
go and hauled in at the order, properly made fast, and neatly
coiled away when the ship was about. As soon as all hands are at
their stations, the captain, who stands on the weather side of the
quarter-deck, makes a sign to the man at the wheel to put it down,
and calls out "Helm's a lee'!" "Helm's a lee'!" answers the mate on
the forecastle, and the head sheets are let go. "Raise tacks and
sheets!" says the captain; "tacks and sheets!" is passed forward,
and the fore tack and main sheet are let go. The next thing is to
haul taught for a swing. The weather cross-jack braces and the lee
main braces are each belayed together upon two pins, and ready to
be let go; and the opposite braces hauled taught. "Main topsail
haul!" shouts the captain; the braces are let go; and if he has
taken his time well, the yards swing round like a top; but if he
is too late, or too soon, it is like drawing teeth. The after
yards are then braced up and belayed, the main sheet hauled aft,
the spanker eased over to leeward, and the men from the braces
stand by the head yards. "Let go and haul!" says the captain;
the second mate lets go the weather fore braces, and the men haul
in to leeward. The mate, on the forecastle, looks out for the
head yards. "Well, the fore topsail yard!" "Top-gallant yard's
well!" "Royal yard too much! Haul into windward! So! well that!"
"Well all!" Then the starboard watch board the main tack, and the
larboard watch lay forward and board the fore tack and haul down
the jib sheet, clapping a tackle upon it, if it blows very fresh.
The after yards are then trimmed, the captain generally looking
out for them himself. "Well the cross-jack yard!" "Small pull the
main top-gallant yard!" "Well that!" "Well the mizen top-gallant
yard!" "Cross-jack yards all well!" "Well all aft!" "Haul taught
to windward!" Everything being now trimmed and in order, each man
coils up the rigging at his own station, and the order is given--"Go
below the watch!"

During the last twenty-four hours of the passage, we beat off and
on the land, making a tack about once in four hours, so that I
had a sufficient opportunity to observe the working of the ship;
and certainly, it took no more men to brace about this ship's
lower yards, which were more than fifty feet square, than it did
those of the Pilgrim, which were not much more than half the size;
so much depends upon the manner in which the braces run, and the
state of the blocks; and Captain Wilson, of the Ayacucho, who was
afterwards a passenger with us, upon a trip to windward, said he
had no doubt that our ship worked two men lighter than his brig.

Friday, Sept. 11th. This morning, at four o'clock, went below,
San Pedro point being about two leagues ahead, and the ship going
on under studding-sails. In about an hour we were waked up by the
hauling of the chain about decks, and in a few minutes "All hands
ahoy!" was called; and we were all at work, hauling in and making
up the studding-sails, overhauling the chain forward, and getting
the anchors ready. "The Pilgrim is there at anchor," said some
one, as we were running about decks; and taking a moment's look
over the rail, I saw my old friend, deeply laden, lying at anchor
inside of the kelp. In coming to anchor, as well as in tacking,
each one had his station and duty. The light sails were clewed
up and furled, the courses hauled up and the jibs down; then came
the topsails in the buntlines, and the anchor let go. As soon as
she was well at anchor, all hands lay aloft to furl the topsails;
and this, I soon found, was a great matter on board this ship;
for every sailor knows that a vessel is judged of, a good deal,
by the furl of her sails. The third mate, a sailmaker, and the
larboard watch went upon the fore topsail yard; the second mate,
carpenter, and the starboard watch upon the main; and myself
and the English lad, and the two Boston boys, and the young
Cape-Cod man, furled the mizen topsail. This sail belonged
to us altogether, to reef and to furl, and not a man was allowed
to come upon our yard. The mate took us under his special care,
frequently making us furl the sail over, three or four times,
until we got the bunt up to a perfect cone, and the whole sail
without a wrinkle. As soon as each sail was hauled up and the
bunt made, the jigger was bent on to the slack of the buntlines,
and the bunt triced up, on deck. The mate then took his place
between the knightheads to "twig" the fore, on the windlass to
twig the main, and at the foot of the mainmast, for the mizen;
and if anything was wrong,--too much bunt on one side, clews too
taught or too slack, or any sail abaft the yard,--the whole must be
dropped again. When all was right, the bunts were triced well up,
the yard-arm gaskets passed, so as not to leave a wrinkle forward
of the yard--short gaskets with turns close together.

From the moment of letting go the anchor, when the captain ceases
his care of things, the chief mate is the great man. With a voice
like a young lion, he was hallooing and bawling, in all directions,
making everything fly, and, at the same time, doing everything well.
He was quite a contrast to the worthy, quiet, unobtrusive mate of the
Pilgrim; not so estimable a man, perhaps, but a far better mate
of a vessel; and the entire change in Captain T-----'s conduct,
since he took command of the ship, was owing, no doubt, in a
great measure, to this fact. If the chief officer wants force,
discipline slackens, everything gets out of joint, the captain
interferes continually; that makes a difficulty between them,
which encourages the crew, and the whole ends in a three-sided
quarrel. But Mr. Brown (the mate of the Alert) wanted no help
from anybody; took everything into his own hands; and was more
likely to encroach upon the authority of the master, than to
need any spurring. Captain T----- gave his directions to the
mate in private, and, except in coming to anchor, getting under
weigh, tacking, reefing topsails, and other "all-hands-work,"
seldom appeared in person. This is the proper state of things,
and while this lasts, and there is a good understanding aft,
everything will go on well.

Having furled all the sails, the royal yards were next to be sent
down. The English lad and myself sent down the main, which was
larger than the Pilgrim's main top-gallant yard; two more light
hands, the fore; and one boy, the mizen. This order, we always
kept while on the coast; sending them up and down every time we
came in and went out of port. They were all tripped and lowered
together, the main on the starboard side, and the fore and mizen,
to port. No sooner was she all snug, than tackles were got up
on the yards and stays, and the long-boat and pinnace hove out.
The swinging booms were then guyed out, and the boats made fast
by geswarps, and everything in harbor style. After breakfast,
the hatches were taken off, and all got ready to receive hides
from the Pilgrim. All day, boats were passing and repassing,
until we had taken her hides from her, and left her in ballast
trim. These hides made but little show in our hold, though they
had loaded the Pilgrim down to the water's edge. This changing
of the hides settled the question of the destination of the two
vessels, which had been one of some speculation to us. We were
to remain in the leeward ports, while the Pilgrim was to sail,
the next morning, for San Francisco. After we had knocked off
work, and cleared up decks for the night, my friend S----- came
on board, and spent an hour with me in our berth between decks.
The Pilgrim's crew envied me my place on board the ship, and seemed
to think that I had got a little to windward of them; especially in
the matter of going home first. S----- was determined to go home on
the Alert, by begging or buying; if Captain T----- would not let
him come on other terms, he would purchase an exchange with some
one of the crew. The prospect of another year after the Alert
should sail, was rather "too much of the monkey." About seven
o'clock, the mate came down into the steerage, in fine trim for fun,
roused the boys out of the berth, turned up the carpenter with his
fiddle, sent the steward with lights to put in the between-decks,
and set all hands to dancing. The between-decks were high enough
to allow of jumping; and being clear, and white, from holystoning,
made a fine dancing-hall. Some of the Pilgrim's crew were in the
forecastle, and we all turned-to and had a regular sailor's shuffle,
till eight bells. The Cape-Cod boy could dance the true fisherman's
jig, barefooted, knocking with his heels, and slapping the decks
with his bare feet, in time with the music. This was a favorite
amusement of the mate's, who always stood at the steerage door,
looking on, and if the boys would not dance, he hazed them round
with a rope's end, much to the amusement of the men.

The next morning, according to the orders of the agent, the Pilgrim
set sail for the windward, to be gone three or four months. She got
under weigh with very little fuss, and came so near us as to throw
a letter on board, Captain Faucon standing at the tiller himself,
and steering her as he would a mackerel smack. When Captain T-----
was in command of the Pilgrim, there was as much preparation
and ceremony as there would be in getting a seventy-four under
weigh. Captain Faucon was a sailor, every inch of him; he knew
what a ship was, and was as much at home in one, as a cobbler in
his stall. I wanted no better proof of this than the opinion of
the ship's crew, for they had been six months under his command,
and knew what he was; and if sailors allow their captain to be a
good seaman, you may be sure he is one, for that is a thing they
are not always ready to say.

After the Pilgrim left us, we lay three weeks at San Pedro, from the
11th of September until the 2nd of October, engaged in the usual port
duties of landing cargo, taking off hides, etc., etc. These duties
were much easier, and went on much more agreeably, than on board
the Pilgrim. "The more, the merrier," is the sailor's maxim; and a
boat's crew of a dozen could take off all the hides brought down in
a day, without much trouble, by division of labor; and on shore,
as well as on board, a good will, and no discontent or grumbling,
make everything go well. The officer, too, who usually went with
us, the third mate, was a fine young fellow, and made no unnecessary
trouble; so that we generally had quite a sociable time, and were
glad to be relieved from the restraint of the ship. While here,
I often thought of the miserable, gloomy weeks we had spent in
this dull place, in the brig; discontent and hard usage on board,
and four hands to do all the work on shore. Give me a big ship.
There is more room, more hands, better outfit, better regulation,
more life, and more company. Another thing was better arranged
here: we had a regular gig's crew. A light whale-boat, handsomely
painted, and fitted out with stern seats, yoke, tiller-ropes, etc.,
hung on the starboard quarter, and was used as the gig. The youngest
lad in the ship, a Boston boy about thirteen years old, was coxswain
of this boat, and had the entire charge of her, to keep her clean,
and have her in readiness to go and come at any hour. Four light
hands, of about the same size and age, of whom I was one, formed the
crew. Each had his oar and seat numbered, and we were obliged to be
in our places, have our oars scraped white, our tholepins in, and the
fenders over the side. The bow-man had charge of the boat-hook and
painter, and the coxswain of the rudder, yoke, and stern-sheets.
Our duty was to carry the captain and agent about, and passengers
off and on; which last was no trifling duty, as the people on shore
have no boats, and every purchaser, from the boy who buys his pair
of shoes, to the trader who buys his casks and bales, were to be
taken off and on, in our boat. Some days, when people were coming
and going fast, we were in the boat, pulling off and on, all day long,
with hardly time for our meals; making, as we lay nearly three
miles from shore, from forty to fifty miles' rowing in a day.
Still, we thought it the best berth in the ship; for when the
gig was employed, we had nothing to do with the cargo, except
small bundles which the passengers carried with them, and no
hides to carry, besides the opportunity of seeing everybody,
making acquaintances, hearing the news, etc. Unless the captain
or agent were in the boat, we had no officer with us, and often had
fine times with the passengers, who were always willing to talk and
joke with us. Frequently, too, we were obliged to wait several hours
on shore; when we would haul the boat up on the beach, and leaving
one to watch her, go up to the nearest house, or spend the time in
strolling about the beach, picking up shells, or playing hopscotch,
and other games, on the hard sand. The rest of the crew never left
the ship, except for bringing heavy goods and taking off hides;
and though we were always in the water, the surf hardly leaving us
a dry thread from morning till night, yet we were young, and the
climate was good, and we thought it much better than the quiet,
hum-drum drag and pull on board ship. We made the acquaintance
of nearly half of California; for, besides carrying everybody in
our boat,--men, women, and children,--all the messages, letters,
and light packages went by us, and being known by our dress,
we found a ready reception everywhere.

At San Pedro, we had none of this amusement, for, there being but
one house in the place, we, of course, had but little company.
All the variety that I had, was riding, once a week, to the
nearest rancho, to order a bullock down for the ship.

The brig Catalina came in from San Diego, and being bound up to
windward, we both got under weigh at the same time, for a trial
of speed up to Santa Barbara, a distance of about eighty miles.
We hove up and got under sail about eleven o'clock at night, with
a light land-breeze, which died away toward morning, leaving us
becalmed only a few miles from our anchoring-place. The Catalina,
being a small vessel, of less than half our size, put out sweeps
and got a boat ahead, and pulled out to sea, during the night,
so that she had the sea-breeze earlier and stronger than we did,
and we had the mortification of seeing her standing up the coast,
with a fine breeze, the sea all ruffled about her, while we
were becalmed, in-shore. When the sea-breeze died away, she was
nearly out of sight; and, toward the latter part of the afternoon,
the regular north-west wind set in fresh, we braced sharp upon it,
took a pull at every sheet, tack, and halyard, and stood after her,
in fine style, our ship being very good upon a taughtened bowline.
We had nearly five hours of fine sailing, beating up to windward,
by long stretches in and off shore, and evidently gaining upon the
Catalina at every tack. When this breeze left us, we were so near
as to count the painted ports on her side. Fortunately, the wind
died away when we were on our inward tack, and she on her outward,
so we were in-shore, and caught the land-breeze first, which came
off upon our quarter, about the middle of the first watch. All hands
were turned-up, and we set all sail, to the skysails and the
royal studding-sails; and with these, we glided quietly through
the water, leaving the Catalina, which could not spread so much
canvas as we, gradually astern, and, by daylight, were off
St. Buenaventura, and our antagonist nearly out of sight.
The sea-breeze, however, favored her again, while we were becalmed
under the headland, and laboring slowly along, she was abreast of
us by noon. Thus we continued, ahead, astern, and abreast of one
another, alternately; now, far out at sea, and again, close in under
the shore. On the third morning, we came into the great bay of
Santa Barbara, two hours behind the brig, and thus lost the bet;
though, if the race had been to the point, we should have beaten
her by five or six hours. This, however, settled the relative
sailing of the vessels, for it was admitted that although she,
being small and light, could gain upon us in very light winds,
yet whenever there was breeze enough to set us agoing, we walked
away from her like hauling in a line; and in beating to windward,
which is the best trial of a vessel, we had much the advantage of

Sunday, Oct. 4th. This was the day of our arrival; and somehow
or other, our captain always managed not only to sail, but to come
into port, on a Sunday. The main reason for sailing on the Sabbath
is not, as many people suppose, because Sunday is thought a lucky
day, but because it is a leisure day. During the six days, the crew
are employed upon the cargo and other ship's works, and the Sabbath,
being their only day of rest, whatever additional work can be thrown
into Sunday, is so much gain to the owners. This is the reason of
our coasters, packets, etc, sailing on the Sabbath. They get six
good days' work out of the crew, and then throw all the labor of
sailing into the Sabbath. Thus it was with us, nearly all the
time we were on the coast, and many of our Sabbaths were lost
entirely to us. The Catholics on shore have no trading and make
no journeys on Sunday, but the American has no national religion,
and likes to show his independence of priestcraft by doing as he
chooses on the Lord's day.

Santa Barbara looked very much as it did when I left it five months
before: the long sand beach, with the heavy rollers, breaking upon
it in a continual roar, and the little town, imbedded on the plain,
girt by its amphitheatre of mountains. Day after day, the sun shone
clear and bright upon the wide bay and the red roofs of the houses;
everything being as still as death, the people really hardly seeming
to earn their sun-light. Daylight actually seemed thrown away upon
them. We had a few visitors, and collected about a hundred hides,
and every night, at sundown, the gig was sent ashore, to wait for
the captain, who spent his evenings in the town. We always took
our monkey-jackets with us, and flint and steel, and made a fire
on the beach with the driftwood and the bushes we pulled from the
neighboring thickets, and lay down by it, on the sand. Sometimes we
would stray up to the town, if the captain was likely to stay late,
and pass the time at some of the houses, in which we were almost
always well received by the inhabitants. Sometimes earlier and
sometimes later, the captain came down; when, after a good drenching
in the surf, we went aboard, changed our clothes, and turned in for
the night--yet not for all the night, for there was the anchor watch
to stand.

This leads me to speak of my watchmate for nine months--and,
taking him all in all, the most remarkable man I have ever
seen--Tom Harris. An hour, every night, while lying in port,
Harris and myself had the deck to ourselves, and walking fore
and aft, night after night, for months, I learned his whole
character and history, and more about foreign nations, the habits
of different people, and especially the secrets of sailors' lives
and hardships, and also of practical seamanship, (in which he was
abundantly capable of instructing me,) than I could ever have
learned elsewhere. But the most remarkable thing about him, was
the power of his mind. His memory was perfect; seeming to form a
regular chain, reaching from his earliest childhood up to the time
I knew him, without one link wanting. His power of calculation,
too, was remarkable. I called myself pretty quick at figures, and
had been through a course of mathematical studies; but, working by
my head, I was unable to keep within sight of this man, who had
never been beyond his arithmetic: so rapid was his calculation.
He carried in his head not only a log-book of the whole voyage,
in which everything was complete and accurate, and from which no
one ever thought of appealing, but also an accurate registry of
all the cargo; knowing, precisely, where each thing was, and how
many hides we took in at every port.

One night, he made a rough calculation of the number of hides that
could be stowed in the lower hold, between the fore and main masts,
taking the depth of hold and breadth of beam, (for he always knew
the dimension of every part of the ship, before he had been a month
on board,) and the average area and thickness of a hide; he came
surprisingly near the number, as it afterwards turned out. The mate
frequently came to him to know the capacity of different parts of
the vessel, so he could tell the sailmaker very nearly the amount
of canvas he would want for each sail in the ship; for he knew the
hoist of every mast, and spread of every sail, on the head and foot,
in feet and inches. When we were at sea, he kept a running account,
in his head, of the ship's way--the number of knots and the courses;
and if the courses did not vary much during the twenty-four hours,
by taking the whole progress, and allowing so many eighths southing
or northing, to so many easting or westing; he would make up his
reckoning just before the captain took the sun at noon, and often
came wonderfully near the mark. Calculation of all kinds was his
delight. He had, in his chest, several volumes giving accounts
of inventions in mechanics, which he read with great pleasure,
and made himself master of. I doubt if he ever forgot anything
that he read. The only thing in the way of poetry that he ever
read was Falconer's Shipwreck, which he was delighted with,
and whole pages of which he could repeat. He knew the name
of every sailor that had ever been his shipmate, and also,
of every vessel, captain, and officer, and the principal dates
of each voyage; and a sailor whom he afterwards fell in with,
who had been in a ship with Harris nearly twelve years before,
was very much surprised at having Harris tell him things about
himself which he had entirely forgotten. His facts, whether dates
or events, no one thought of disputing; and his opinions, few of
the sailors dared to oppose; for, right or wrong, he always had
the best of the argument with them. His reasoning powers were
remarkable. I have had harder work maintaining an argument with
him in a watch, even when I knew myself to be right, and he was
only doubting, than I ever had before; not from his obstinacy,
but from his acuteness. Give him only a little knowledge of his
subject, and, certainly among all the young men of my acquaintance
and standing at college, there was not one whom I had not rather meet,
than this man. I never answered a question from him, or advanced
an opinion to him, without thinking more than once. With an iron
memory, he seemed to have your whole past conversation at command,
and if you said a thing now which ill agreed with something said
months before, he was sure to have you on the hip. In fact,
I always felt, when with him, that I was with no common man.
I had a positive respect for his powers of mind, and felt often
that if half the pains had been spent upon his education which
are thrown away, yearly, in our colleges, he would have been
a man of great weight in society. Like most self-taught men,
he over-estimated the value of an education; and this, I often
told him, though I profited by it myself; for he always treated
me with respect, and often unnecessarily gave way to me, from an
over-estimate of my knowledge. For the intellectual capacities
of all the rest of the crew, captain and all, he had the most
sovereign contempt. He was a far better sailor, and probably
a better navigator, than the captain, and had more brains than
all the after part of the ship put together. The sailors said,
"Tom's got a head as long as the bowsprit," and if any one got
into an argument with him, they would call out--"Ah, Jack! you'd
better drop that, as you would a hot potato, for Tom will turn
you inside out before you know it."

I recollect his posing me once on the subject of the Corn Laws.
I was called to stand my watch, and, coming on deck, found him
there before me; and we began, as usual, to walk fore and aft,
in the waist. He talked about the Corn Laws; asked me my opinion
about them, which I gave him; and my reasons; my small stock of
which I set forth to the best advantage, supposing his knowledge
on the subject must be less than mine, if, indeed, he had
any at all. When I had got through, he took the liberty of
differing from me, and, to my surprise, brought arguments and
facts connected with the subject which were new to me, to which
I was entirely unable to reply. I confessed that I knew almost
nothing of the subject, and expressed my surprise at the extent
of his information. He said that, a number of years before,
while at a boarding-house in Liverpool, he had fallen in with
a pamphlet on the subject, and, as it contained calculations,
had read it very carefully, and had ever since wished to find
some one who could add to his stock of knowledge on the question.
Although it was many years since he had seen the book, and it was
a subject with which he had no previous acquaintance, yet he had
the chain of reasoning, founded upon principles of political
economy, perfect in his memory; and his facts, so far as I
could judge, were correct; at least, he stated them with great
precision. The principles of the steam engine, too, he was very
familiar with, having been several months on board of a steamboat,
and made himself master of its secrets. He knew every lunar star
in both hemispheres, and was a perfect master of his quadrant and
sextant. Such was the man, who, at forty, was still a dog before
the mast, at twelve dollars a month. The reason of this was to
be found in his whole past life, as I had it, at different times,
from himself.

He was an Englishman, by birth, a native of Ilfracomb, in Devonshire.
His father was skipper of a small coaster, from Bristol, and dying,
left him, when quite young, to the care of his mother, by whose
exertions he received a common-school education, passing his
winters at school and his summers in the coasting trade, until his
seventeenth year, when he left home to go upon foreign voyages.
Of his mother, he often spoke with the greatest respect, and said
that she was a strong-minded woman, and had the best system of
education he had ever known; a system which had made respectable
men of his three brothers, and failed only in him, from his own
indomitable obstinacy. One thing he often mentioned, in which he
said his mother differed from all other mothers that he had ever
seen disciplining their children; that was, that when he was out
of humor and refused to eat, instead of putting his plate away,
as most mothers would, and saying that his hunger would bring
him to it, in time, she would stand over him and oblige him to
eat it--every mouthful of it. It was no fault of hers that he
was what I saw him; and so great was his sense of gratitude for
her efforts, though unsuccessful, that he determined, at the
close of the voyage, to embark for home with all the wages he
should get, to spend with and for his mother, if perchance he
should find her alive.

After leaving home, he had spent nearly twenty years, sailing upon
all sorts of voyages, generally out of the ports of New York and
Boston. Twenty years of vice! Every sin that a sailor knows, he
had gone to the bottom of. Several times he had been hauled up in
the hospitals, and as often, the great strength of his constitution
had brought him out again in health. Several times, too, from his
known capacity, he had been promoted to the office of chief mate,
and as often, his conduct when in port, especially his drunkenness,
which neither fear nor ambition could induce him to abandon, put him
back into the forecastle. One night, when giving me an account of his
life, and lamenting the years of manhood he had thrown away, he said
that there, in the forecastle, at the foot of the steps--a chest
of old clothes--was the result of twenty-two years of hard labor
and exposure--worked like a horse, and treated like a dog. As he
grew older, he began to feel the necessity of some provision for
his later years, and came gradually to the conviction that rum had
been his worst enemy. One night, in Havana, a young shipmate of
his was brought aboard drunk, with a dangerous gash in his head,
and his money and new clothes stripped from him. Harris had seen
and been in hundreds of such scenes as these, but in his then state
of mind, it fixed his determination, and he resolved never to taste
another drop of strong drink, of any kind. He signed no pledge, and
made no vow, but relied on his own strength of purpose. The first
thing with him was a reason, and then a resolution, and the thing
was done. The date of his resolution he knew, of course, to the
very hour. It was three years before I knew him, and during all
that time, nothing stronger than cider or coffee had passed his
lips. The sailors never thought of enticing Tom to take a glass,
any more than they would of talking to the ship's compass. He was
now a temperate man for life, and capable of filling any berth in
a ship, and many a high station there is on shore which is held by
a meaner man.

He understood the management of a ship upon scientific principles,
and could give the reason for hauling every rope; and a long
experience, added to careful observation at the time, and a
perfect memory, gave him a knowledge of the expedients and resorts
in times of hazard, which was remarkable, and for which I became
much indebted to him, as he took the greatest pleasure in opening
his stores of information to me, in return for what I was able to
do for him. Stories of tyranny and hardship which had driven men
to piracy;--of the incredible ignorance of masters and mates,
and of horrid brutality to the sick, dead, and dying; as well
as of the secret knavery and impositions practised upon seamen
by connivance of the owners, landlords, and officers; all these
he had, and I could not but believe them; for men who had known him
for fifteen years had never taken him even in an exaggeration, and,
as I have said, his statements were never disputed. I remember,
among other things, his speaking of a captain whom I had known
by report, who never handed a thing to a sailor, but put it on
deck and kicked it to him; and of another, who was of the best
connections in Boston, who absolutely murdered a lad from Boston
that went out with him before the mast to Sumatra, by keeping him
hard at work while ill of the coast fever, and obliging him to
sleep in the close steerage. (The same captain has since died
of the same fever on the same coast.)

In fact, taking together all that I learned from him of seamanship,
of the history of sailors' lives, of practical wisdom, and of human
nature under new circumstances,--a great history from which many are
shut out,--I would not part with the hours I spent in the watch with
that man for any given hours of my life passed in study and social


Sunday, Oct. 11th. Set sail this morning for the leeward; passed
within sight of San Pedro, and, to our great joy, did not come
to anchor, but kept directly on to San Diego, where we arrived
and moored ship on.

Thursday, Oct. 15th. Found here the Italian ship La Rosa, from
the windward, which reported the brig Pilgrim at San Francisco,
all well. Everything was as quiet here as usual. We discharged
our hides, horns, and tallow, and were ready to sail again on the
following Sunday. I went ashore to my old quarters, and found the
gang at the hide-house going on in the even tenor of their way,
and spent an hour or two, after dark, at the oven, taking a whiff
with my old Kanaka friends, who really seemed glad to see me again,
and saluted me as the Aikane of the Kanakas. I was grieved to find
that my poor dog Bravo was dead. He had sickened and died suddenly,
the very day after I sailed in the Alert.

Sunday was again, as usual, our sailing day, and we got under weigh
with a stiff breeze, which reminded us that it was the latter part
of the autumn, and time to expect south-easters once more. We beat
up against a strong head wind, under reefed top-sails, as far as San
Juan, where we came to anchor nearly three miles from the shore,
with slip-ropes on our cables, in the old south-easter style
of last winter. On the passage up, we had an old sea captain
on board, who had married and settled in California, and had
not been on salt water for more than fifteen years. He was
astonished at the changes and improvements that had been made
in ships, and still more at the manner in which we carried sail;
for he was really a little frightened; and said that while we had
top-gallant sails on, he should have been under reefed topsails.
The working of the ship, and her progress to windward, seemed to
delight him, for he said she went to windward as though she were

Tuesday, Oct. 20th. Having got everything ready, we set the
agent ashore, who went up to the mission to hasten down the
hides for the next morning. This night we had the strictest
orders to look out for south-easters; and the long, low clouds
seemed rather threatening. But the night passed over without
any trouble, and early the next morning, we hove out the long-boat
and pinnace, lowered away the quarter-boats, and went ashore to
bring off our hides. Here we were again, in this romantic spot;
a perpendicular hill, twice the height of the ship's mast-head,
with a single circuitous path to the top, and long sand beach at
its base, with the swell of the whole Pacific breaking high upon
it, and our hides ranged in piles on the overhanging summit.
The captain sent me, who was the only one of the crew that had
ever been there before, to the top, to count the hides and pitch
them down. There I stood again, as six months before, throwing
off the hides, and watching them, pitching and scaling, to the
bottom, while the men, dwarfed by the distance, were walking to
and fro on the beach, carrying the hides, as they picked them up,
to the distant boats, upon the tops of their heads. Two or three
boat-loads were sent off, until, at last, all were thrown down,
and the boats nearly loaded again; when we were delayed by a dozen
or twenty hides which had lodged in the recesses of the hill, and
which we could not reach by any missiles, as the general line of
the side was exactly perpendicular, and these places were caved
in, and could not be seen or reached from the top. As hides are
worth in Boston twelve and a half cents a pound, and the captain's
commission was two per cent, he determined not to give them up;
and sent on board for a pair of top-gallant studding-sail halyards,
and requested some one of the crew to go to the top, and come down
by the halyards. The older sailors said the boys, who were light
and active, ought to go, while the boys thought that strength and
experience were necessary. Seeing the dilemma, and feeling myself
to be near the medium of these requisites, I offered my services,
and went up, with one man to tend the rope, and prepared for the

We found a stake fastened strongly into the ground, and apparently
capable of holding my weight, to which we made one end of the
halyards well fast, and taking the coil, threw it over the brink.
The end, we saw, just reached to a landing-place, from which the
descent to the beach was easy. Having nothing on but shirt,
trowsers, and hat, the common sea-rig of warm weather, I had
no stripping to do, and began my descent, by taking hold of the
rope in each hand, and slipping down, sometimes with hands and
feet round the rope, and sometimes breasting off with one hand
and foot against the precipice, and holding on to the rope with
the other. In this way I descended until I came to a place which
shelved in, and in which the hides were lodged. Keeping hold of
the rope with one hand, I scrambled in, and by the other hand
and feet succeeded in dislodging all the hides, and continued on
my way. Just below this place, the precipice projected again,
and going over the projection, I could see nothing below me but
the sea and the rocks upon which it broke, and a few gulls flying
in mid-air. I got down in safety, pretty well covered with dirt;
and for my pains was told, "What a d--d fool you were to risk your
life for a half a dozen hides!"

While we were carrying the hides to the boat, I perceived, what I
had been too busy to observe before, that heavy black clouds were
rolling up from seaward, a strong swell heaving in, and every sign
of a south-easter. The captain hurried everything. The hides were
pitched into the boats; and, with some difficulty, and by wading
nearly up to our armpits, we got the boats through the surf, and began
pulling aboard. Our gig's crew towed the pinnace astern of the gig,
and the launch was towed by six men in the jolly-boat. The ship was
lying three miles off, pitching at her anchor, and the farther we
pulled, the heavier grew the swell. Our boat stood nearly up and
down several times; the pinnace parted her towline, and we expected
every moment to see the launch swamped. We at length got alongside,
our boats half full of water; and now came the greatest difficulty
of all,--unloading the boats, in a heavy sea, which pitched them
about so that it was almost impossible to stand in them; raising
them sometimes even with the rail, and again dropping them below
the bends. With great difficulty, we got all the hides aboard and
stowed under hatches, the yard and stay tackles hooked on, and the
launch and pinnace hoisted, checked, and griped. The quarter-boats
were then hoisted up, and we began heaving in on the chain.
Getting the anchor was no easy work in such a sea, but as we
were not coming back to this port, the captain determined not
to slip. The ship's head pitched into the sea, and the water
rushed through the hawse-holes, and the chain surged so as almost
to unship the barrel of the windlass. "Hove short, sir!" said
the mate. "Aye, aye! Weather-bit your chain and loose the
topsails! Make sail on her, men--with a will!" A few moments
served to loose the topsails, which were furled with reefs,
to sheet them home, and hoist them up. "Bear a hand!" was the
order of the day; and every one saw the necessity of it, for the
gale was already upon us. The ship broke out her own anchor,
which we catted and fished, after a fashion, and stood off from
the lee-shore against a heavy head sea, under reefed topsails,
fore-topmast staysail and spanker. The fore course was given
to her, which helped her a little; but as she hardly held her
own against the sea which was settling her leeward--"Board the
main tack!" shouted the captain; when the tack was carried forward
and taken to the windlass, and all hands called to the handspikes.
The great sail bellied out horizontally as though it would lift up
the main stay; the blocks rattled and flew about; but the force of
machinery was too much for her. "Heave ho! Heave and pawl! Yo,
heave, hearty, ho!" and, in time with the song, by the force of
twenty strong arms, the windlass came slowly round, pawl after pawl,
and the weather clew of the sail was brought down to the waterways.
The starboard watch hauled aft the sheet, and the ship tore through
the water like a mad horse, quivering and shaking at every joint,
and dashing from its head the foam, which flew off at every blow,
yards and yards to leeward. A half hour of such sailing served our
turn, when the clews of the sail were hauled up, the sail furled,
and the ship, eased of her press, went more quietly on her way.
Soon after, the foresail was reefed, and we mizen-top men were
sent up to take another reef in the mizen topsail. This was the
first time I had taken a weather earing, and I felt not a little
proud to sit, astride of the weather yard-arm, pass the earing,
and sing out "Haul out to leeward!" From this time until we got
to Boston, the mate never suffered any one but our own gang to
go upon the mizen topsail yard, either for reefing or furling,
and the young English lad and myself generally took the earings
between us.

Having cleared the point and got well out to sea, we squared away
the yards, made more sail, and stood on, nearly before the wind,
for San Pedro. It blew strong, with some rain, nearly all night,
but fell calm toward morning, and the gale having gone over,
we came-to,--

Thursday, Oct. 22d, at San Pedro, in the old south-easter berth,
a league from shore, with a slip-rope on the cable, reefs in the
topsails, and rope-yarns for gaskets. Here we lay ten days,
with the usual boating, hide-carrying, rolling of cargo up the
steep hill, walking barefooted over stones, and getting drenched
in salt water.

The third day after our arrival, the Rosa came in from San Juan,
where she went the day after the south-easter. Her crew said it was
as smooth as a mill-pond, after the gale, and she took off nearly
a thousand hides, which had been brought down for us, and which
we lost in consequence of the south-easter. This mortified us;
not only that an Italian ship should have got to windward of us in
the trade, but because every thousand hides went toward completing
the forty thousand which we were to collect before we could say
good-by to California.

While lying here, we shipped one new hand, an Englishman, of about
two or three and twenty, who was quite an acquisition, as he proved
to be a good sailor, could sing tolerably, and, what was of more
importance to me, had a good education, and a somewhat remarkable
history. He called himself George P. Marsh; professed to have been
at sea from a small boy, and to have served his time in the smuggling
trade between Germany and the coasts of France and England. Thus he
accounted for his knowledge of the French language, which he spoke
and read as well as he did English; but his cutter education would
not account for his English, which was far too good to have been
learned in a smuggler; for he wrote an uncommonly handsome hand,
spoke with great correctness, and frequently, when in private talk
with me, quoted from books, and showed a knowledge of the customs
of society, and particularly of the formalities of the various
English courts of law, and of Parliament, which surprised me.
Still, he would give no other account of himself than that he
was educated in a smuggler. A man whom we afterwards fell in with,
who had been a shipmate of George's a few years before, said that
he heard at the boarding-house from which they shipped, that George
had been at college, (probably a naval one, as he knew no Latin
or Greek,) where he learned French and mathematics. He was by
no means the man by nature that Harris was. Harris had made
everything of his mind and character in spite of obstacles;
while this man had evidently been born in a different rank,
and educated early in life accordingly, but had been a vagabond,
and done nothing for himself since. What had been given to him
by others, was all that made him to differ from those about him;
while Harris had made himself what he was. Neither had George
the character, strength of mind, acuteness, or memory of Harris;
yet there was about him the remains of a pretty good education,
which enabled him to talk perhaps beyond his brains, and a high
spirit and sense of honor, which years of a dog's life had not
broken. After he had been a little while on board, we learned
from him his remarkable history, for the last two years, which we
afterwards heard confirmed in such a manner, as put the truth of
it beyond a doubt.

He sailed from New York in the year 1833, if I mistake not, before
the mast, in the brig Lascar, for Canton. She was sold in the East
Indies, and he shipped at Manilla, in a small schooner, bound on
a trading voyage among the Ladrone and Pelew Islands. On one of
the latter islands, their schooner was wrecked on a reef, and they
were attacked by the natives, and, after a desperate resistance,
in which all their number except the captain, George, and a boy,
were killed or drowned, they surrendered, and were carried bound,
in a canoe, to a neighboring island. In about a month after this,
an opportunity occurred by which one of their number might get
away. I have forgotten the circumstances, but only one could go,
and they yielded to the captain, upon his promising to send them
aid if he escaped. He was successful in his attempt; got on board
an American vessel, went back to Manilla, and thence to America,
without making any effort for their rescue, or indeed, as George
afterwards discovered, without even mentioning their case to any
one in Manilla. The boy that was with George died, and he being
alone, and there being no chance for his escape, the natives
soon treated him with kindness, and even with attention. They
painted him, tattooed his body, (for he would never consent to
be marked in the face or hands,) gave him two or three wives;
and, in fact, made quite a pet of him. In this way, he lived
for thirteen months, in a fine climate, with a plenty to eat,
half naked, and nothing to do. He soon, however, became tired,
and went round the island, on different pretences, to look out
for a sail. One day, he was out fishing in a small canoe with
another man, when he saw a large sail to the windward, about a
league and a half off, passing abreast of the island and standing
westward. With some difficulty, he persuaded the islander to go
off with him to the ship, promising to return with a good supply
of rum and tobacco. These articles, which the islanders had got
a taste of from American traders, were too strong a temptation
for the fellow, and he consented. They paddled off in the track of
the ship, and lay-to until she came down to them. George stepped
on board the ship, nearly naked, painted from head to foot, and in
no way distinguishable from his companion until he began to speak.
Upon this, the people on board were not a little astonished; and,
having learned his story, the captain had him washed and clothed,
and sending away the poor astonished native with a knife or two
and some tobacco and calico, took George with him on the voyage.
This was the ship Cabot, of New York, Captain Low. She was bound
to Manilla, from across the Pacific, and George did seaman's duty
in her until her arrival in Manilla, when he left her, and shipped
in a brig bound to the Sandwich Islands. From Oahu, he came,
in the British brig Clementine, to Monterey, as second officer,
where, having some difficulty with the captain, he left her,
and coming down the coast, joined us at San Pedro. Nearly six
months after this, among some papers we received by an arrival
from Boston, we found a letter from Captain Low, of the Cabot,
published immediately upon his arrival at New York, and giving all
the particulars just as we had them from George. The letter was
published for the information of the friends of George, and Captain
Low added, that he left him at Manilia to go to Oahu, and he had
heard nothing of him since.

George had an interesting journal of his adventures in the Pelew
Islands, which he had written out at length, in a handsome hand,
and in correct English.


Sunday, November 1st. Sailed this day, (Sunday again,) for
Santa Barbara, where we arrived on the 5th. Coming round St.
Buenaventura, and nearing the anchorage, we saw two vessels in port,
a large full-rigged, and a small hermaphrodite brig. The former,
the crew said must be the Pilgrim; but I had been too long in the
Pilgrim to be mistaken in her, and I was right in differing from
them; for, upon nearer approach, her long, low shear, sharp bows,
and raking masts, told quite another story. "Man-of-war brig,"
said some of them; "Baltimore clipper," said others; the Ayacucho,
thought I; and soon the broad folds of the beautiful banner of
St. George,--white field with blood-red border and cross,--were
displayed from her peak. A few minutes put it beyond a doubt,
and we were lying by the side of the Ayacucho, which had sailed
from San Diego about nine months before, while we were lying there
in the Pilgrim. She had since been to Valparaiso, Callao, and the
Sandwich Islands, and had just come upon the coast. Her boat came
on board, bringing Captain Wilson; and in half an hour the news was
all over the ship that there was a war between the United States
and France. Exaggerated accounts reached the forecastle.
Battles had been fought, a large French fleet was in the Pacific,
etc., etc.; and one of the boat's crew of the Ayacucho said that
when they left Callao, a large French frigate and the American
frigate Brandywine, which were lying there, were going outside to
have a battle, and that the English frigate Blonde was to be umpire,
and see fair play. Here was important news for us. Alone, on an
unprotected coast, without an American man-of-war within some
thousands of miles, and the prospect of a voyage home through the
whole length of the Pacific and Atlantic oceans! A French prison
seemed a much more probable place of destination than the good port
of Boston. However, we were too salt to believe every yarn that
comes into the forecastle, and waited to hear the truth of the
matter from higher authority. By means of a supercargo's clerk,
I got the account of the matter, which was, that the governments
had had difficulty about the payment of a debt; that war had been
threatened and prepared for, but not actually declared, although it
was pretty generally anticipated. This was not quite so bad, yet
was no small cause of anxiety. But we cared very little about the
matter ourselves. "Happy go lucky" with Jack! We did not believe
that a French prison would be much worse than "hide-droghing" on
the coast of California; and no one who has not been on a long,
dull voyage, shut up in one ship, can conceive of the effect of
monotony upon one's thoughts and wishes. The prospect of a change
is like a green spot in a desert, and the remotest probability
of great events and exciting scenes gives a feeling of delight,
and sets life in motion, so as to give a pleasure, which any one
not in the same state would be entirely unable to account for.
In fact, a more jovial night we had not passed in the forecastle
for months. Every one seemed in unaccountably high spirits.
An undefined anticipation of radical changes, of new scenes,
and great doings, seemed to have possessed every one, and the
common drudgery of the vessel appeared contemptible. Here was a
new vein opened; a grand theme of conversation, and a topic for all
sorts of discussions. National feeling was wrought up. Jokes were
cracked upon the only Frenchman in the ship, and comparisons made
between "old horse" and "soup meagre," etc., etc.

We remained in uncertainty as to this war for more than two months,
when an arrival from the Sandwich Islands brought us the news of an
amicable arrangement of the difficulties.

The other vessel which we found in port was the hermaphrodite brig
Avon, from the Sandwich Islands. She was fitted up in handsome style;
fired a gun and ran her ensign up and down at sunrise and sunset; had a
band of four or five pieces of music on board, and appeared rather like
a pleasure yacht than a trader; yet, in connection with the Loriotte,
Clementine, Bolivar, Convoy, and other small vessels, belonging to
sundry Americans at Oahu, she carried on a great trade--legal and
illegal--in otter skins, silks, teas, specie, etc.

The second day after our arrival, a full-rigged brig came round
the point from the northward, sailed leisurely through the bay,
and stood off again for the south-east, in the direction of the
large island of Catalina. The next day the Avon got under weigh,
and stood in the same direction, bound for San Pedro. This might
do for marines and Californians, but we knew the ropes too well.
The brig was never again seen on the coast, and the Avon arrived
at San Pedro in about a week, with a full cargo of Canton and
American goods.

This was one of the means of escaping the heavy duties the Mexicans
lay upon all imports. A vessel comes on the coast, enters a
moderate cargo at Monterey, which is the only custom-house,
and commences trading. In a month or more, having sold a large
part of her cargo, she stretches over to Catalina, or other of the
large uninhabited islands which lie off the coast, in a trip from
port to port, and supplies herself with choice goods from a vessel
from Oahu, which has been lying off and on the islands, waiting for
her. Two days after the sailing of the Avon, the Loriotte came
in from the leeward, and without doubt had also a snatch at the
brig's cargo.

Tuesday, Nov. 10th. Going ashore, as usual, in the gig, just
before sundown, to bring off the captain, we found, upon taking
in the captain and pulling off again, that our ship, which lay
the farthest out, had run up her ensign. This meant "Sail ho!"
of course, but as we were within the point we could see nothing.
"Give way, boys! Give way! Lay out on your oars, and long stroke!"
said the captain; and stretching to the whole length of our arms,
bending back again, so that our backs touched the thwarts, we sent
her through the water like a rocket. A few minutes of such pulling
opened the islands, one after another, in range of the point, and gave
us a view of the Canal, where was a ship, under top-gallant sails,
standing in, with a light breeze, for the anchorage. Putting the
boat's head in the direction of the ship, the captain told us to lay
out again; and we needed no spurring, for the prospect of boarding a
new ship, perhaps from home, hearing the news and having something
to tell of when we got back, was excitement enough for us, and we
gave way with a will. Captain Nye, of the Loriotte, who had
been an old whaleman, was in the stern-sheets, and fell mightily
into the spirit of it. "Bend your backs and break your oars!"
said he. "Lay me on, Captain Bunker!" "There she flukes!" and
other exclamations, peculiar to whalemen. In the meantime, it
fell flat calm, and being within a couple of miles of the ship,
we expected to board her in a few moments, when a sudden breeze
sprung up, dead ahead for the ship, and she braced up and stood
off toward the islands, sharp on the larboard tack, making good
way through the water. This, of course, brought us up, and we
had only to "ease larboard oars; pull round starboard!" and go
aboard the Alert, with something very like a flea in the ear.
There was a light land-breeze all night, and the ship did not come
to anchor until the next morning. As soon as her anchor was down,
we went aboard, and found her to be the whaleship, Wilmington and
Liverpool Packet, of New Bedford, last from the "off-shore ground,"
with nineteen hundred barrels of oil. A "spouter" we knew her to
be as soon as we saw her, by her cranes and boats, and by her stump
top-gallant masts, and a certain slovenly look to the sails, rigging,
spars and hull; and when we got on board, we found everything to
correspond,--spouter fashion. She had a false deck, which was
rough and oily, and cut up in every direction by the chimes of
oil casks; her rigging was slack and turning white; no paint on
the spars or blocks; clumsy seizings and straps without covers,
and homeward-bound splices in every direction. Her crew, too,
were not in much better order. Her captain was a slab-sided,
shamble-legged Quaker, in a suit of brown, with a broad-brimmed
hat, and sneaking about decks, like a sheep, with his head down;
and the men looked more like fishermen and farmers than they did
like sailors.

Though it was by no means cold weather, (we having on only our red
shirts and duck trowsers,) they all had on woollen trowsers--not blue
and shipshape--but of all colors--brown, drab, grey, aye, and green,
with suspenders over their shoulders, and pockets to put their hands
in. This, added to guernsey frocks, striped comforters about the
neck, thick cowhide boots, woollen caps, and a strong, oily smell,
and a decidedly green look, will complete the description. Eight or
ten were on the fore-topsail yard, and as many more in the main,
furling the topsails, while eight or ten were hanging about the
forecastle, doing nothing. This was a strange sight for a vessel
coming to anchor; so we went up to them, to see what was the matter.
One of them, a stout, hearty-looking fellow, held out his leg and
said he had the scurvy; another had cut his hand; and others had
got nearly well, but said that there were plenty aloft to furl the
sails, so they were sogering on the forecastle. There was only one
"splicer" on board, a fine-looking old tar, who was in the bunt of
the fore-topsail. He was probably the only sailor in the ship,
before the mast. The mates, of course, and the boat-steerers,
and also two or three of the crew, had been to sea before, but
only whaling voyages; and the greater part of the crew were raw
hands, just from the bush, as green as cabbages, and had not yet
got the hay-seed out of their heads. The mizen topsail hung in
the bunt-lines until everything was furled forward. Thus a crew
of thirty men were half an hour in doing what would have been
done in the Alert with eighteen hands to go aloft, in fifteen
or twenty minutes.

We found they had been at sea six or eight months, and had no news
to tell us; so we left them, and promised to get liberty to come
on board in the evening, for some curiosities, etc. Accordingly,
as soon as we were knocked off in the evening and had got supper,
we obtained leave, took a boat, and went aboard and spent an hour
or two. They gave us pieces of whalebone, and the teeth and other
parts of curious sea animals, and we exchanged books with them--a
practice very common among ships in foreign ports, by which you
get rid of the books you have read and re-read, and a supply of
new ones in their stead, and Jack is not very nice as to their
comparative value.

Thursday, Nov. 12th. This day was quite cool in the early part,
and there were black clouds about; but as it was often so in the
morning, nothing was apprehended, and all the captains went
ashore together, to spend the day. Towards noon, the clouds
hung heavily over the mountains, coming half way down the
hills that encircle the town of Santa Barbara, and a heavy
swell rolled in from the south-east. The mate immediately
ordered the gig's crew away, and at the same time, we saw boats
pulling ashore from the other vessels. Here was a grand chance
for a rowing match, and every one did his best. We passed the
boats of the Ayacucho and Loriotte, but could gain nothing upon,
and indeed, hardly hold our own with, the long, six-oared boat of
the whale-ship. They reached the breakers before us; but here
we had the advantage of them, for, not being used to the surf,
they were obliged to wait to see us beach our boat, just as,
in the same place, nearly a year before, we, in the Pilgrim,
were glad to be taught by a boat's crew of Kanakas.

We had hardly got the boats beached, and their heads out, before our
old friend, Bill Jackson, the handsome English sailor, who steered
the Loriotte's boat, called out that the brig was adrift; and, sure
enough, she was dragging her anchors, and drifting down into the
bight of the bay. Without waiting for the captain, (for there
was no one on board but the mate and steward,) he sprung into
the boat, called the Kanakas together, and tried to put off.
But the Kanakas, though capital water-dogs, were frightened by
their vessel's being adrift, and by the emergency of the case,
and seemed to lose their faculties. Twice, their boat filled,
and came broadside upon the beach. Jackson swore at them for
a parcel of savages, and promised to flog every one of them.
This made the matter no better; when we came forward, told the
Kanakas to take their seats in the boat, and, going two on each
side, walked out with her till it was up to our shoulders, and gave
them a shove, when, giving way with their oars, they got her safely
into the long, regular swell. In the mean time, boats had put off
from our ships and the whaler, and coming all on board the brig
together, they let go the other anchor, paid out chain, braced the
yards to the wind, and brought the vessel up.

In a few minutes, the captains came hurrying down, on the run;
and there was no time to be lost, for the gale promised to be a
severe one, and the surf was breaking upon the beach, three deep,
higher and higher every instant. The Ayacucho's boat, pulled by four
Kanakas, put off first, and as they had no rudder or steering oar,
would probably never have got off, had we not waded out with them,
as far as the surf would permit. The next that made the attempt was
the whale-boat, for we, being the most experienced "beach-combers,"
needed no help, and staid till the last. Whalemen make the best
boats' crews in the world for a long pull, but this landing was
new to them, and notwithstanding the examples they had had, they
slued round and were hove up--boat, oars, and men--altogether,
high and dry upon the sand. The second time, they filled, and had
to turn their boat over, and set her off again. We could be of no
help to them, for they were so many as to be in one another's way,
without the addition of our numbers. The third time, they got off,
though not without shipping a sea which drenched them all, and half
filled their boat, keeping them baling, until they reached their
ship. We now got ready to go off, putting the boat's head out;
English Ben and I, who were the largest, standing on each side of
the bows, to keep her "head on" to the sea, two more shipping and
manning the two after oars, and the captain taking the steering
oar. Two or three Spaniards, who stood upon the beach looking
at us, wrapped their cloaks about them, shook their heads, and
muttered "Caramba!" They had no taste for such doings; in fact,
the hydrophobia is a national malady, and shows itself in their
persons as well as their actions.

Watching for a "smooth chance," we determined to show the other
boats the way it should be done; and, as soon as ours floated,
ran out with her, keeping her head on, with all our strength, and
the help of the captain's oar, and the two after oarsmen giving
way regularly and strongly, until our feet were off the ground,
we tumbled into the bows, keeping perfectly still, from fear of
hindering the others. For some time it was doubtful how it would
go. The boat stood nearly up and down in the water, and the sea,
rolling from under her, let her fall upon the water with a force
which seemed almost to stave her bottom in. By quietly sliding
two oars forward, along the thwarts, without impeding the rowers,
we shipped two bow oars, and thus, by the help of four oars and
the captain's strong arm, we got safely off, though we shipped
several seas, which left us half full of water. We pulled
alongside of the Loriotte, put her skipper on board, and found
her making preparations for slipping, and then pulled aboard our
own ship. Here Mr. Brown, always "on hand," had got everything
ready, so that we had only to hook on the gig and hoist it up,
when the order was given to loose the sails. While we were on
the yards, we saw the Loriotte under weigh, and before our yards
were mast-headed, the Ayacucho had spread her wings, and, with yards
braced sharp up, was standing athwart our hawse. There is no prettier
sight in the world than a full-rigged, clipper-built brig, sailing sharp
on the wind. In a moment, our slip-rope was gone, the head-yards filled
away, and we were off. Next came the whaler; and in a half an hour from
the time when four vessels were lying quietly at anchor, without a
rag out, or a sign of motion, the bay was deserted, and four white
clouds were standing off to sea. Being sure of clearing the point,
we stood off with our yards a little braced in, while the Ayacucho
went off with a taught bowline, which brought her to windward of us.
During all this day, and the greater part of the night, we had the
usual south-easter entertainment, a gale of wind, variegated and
finally topped off with a drenching rain of three or four hours.
At daybreak, the clouds thinned off and rolled away, and the sun
came up clear. The wind, instead of coming out from the northward,
as is usual, blew steadily and freshly from the anchoring-ground.
This was bad for us, for, being "flying light," with little more
than ballast trim, we were in no condition for showing off on a
taught bowline, and had depended upon a fair wind, with which,
by the help of our light sails and studding-sails, we meant to
have been the first at the anchoring-ground; but the Ayacucho
was a good league to windward of us, and was standing in, in fine
style. The whaler, however, was as far to leeward of us, and the
Loriotte was nearly out of sight, among the islands, up the Canal.
By hauling every brace and bowline, and clapping watch-tackles upon
all the sheets and halyards, we managed to hold our own, and drop
the leeward vessels a little in every tack. When we reached the
anchoring-ground, the Ayacucho had got her anchor, furled her
sails, squared her yards, and was lying as quietly as if nothing
had happened for the last twenty-four hours.

We had our usual good luck in getting our anchor without letting go
another, and were all snug, with our boats at the boom-ends, in half
an hour. In about two hours more, the whaler came in, and made a
clumsy piece of work in getting her anchor, being obliged to let
go her best bower, and finally, to get out a kedge and a hawser.
They were heave-ho-ing, stopping and unstopping, pawling, catting,
and fishing, for three hours; and the sails hung from the yards all
the afternoon, and were not furled until sundown. The Loriotte came
in just after dark, and let go her anchor, making no attempt to pick
up the other until the next day.

This affair led to a great dispute as to the sailing of our ship
and the Ayacucho. Bets were made between the captains, and the
crews took it up in their own way; but as she was bound to leeward
and we to windward, and merchant captains cannot deviate, a trial
never took place; and perhaps it was well for us that it did not,
for the Ayacucho had been eight years in the Pacific, in every part
of it--Valparaiso, Sandwich Islands, Canton, California, and all,
and was called the fastest merchantman that traded in the Pacific,
unless it was the brig John Gilpin, and perhaps the ship Ann McKim
of Baltimore.

Saturday, Nov. 14th. This day we got under weigh, with the agent
and several Spaniards of note, as passengers, bound up to Monterey.
We went ashore in the gig to bring them off with their baggage,
and found them waiting on the beach, and a little afraid about
going off, as the surf was running very high. This was nuts to
us; for we liked to have a Spaniard wet with salt water; and then
the agent was very much disliked by the crew, one and all; and we
hoped, as there was no officer in the boat, to have a chance to
duck them; for we knew that they were such "marines" that they
would not know whether it was our fault or not. Accordingly,
we kept the boat so far from shore as to oblige them to wet their
feet in getting into her; and then waited for a good high comber,
and letting the head slue a little round, sent the whole force of
the sea into the stern-sheets, drenching them from head to feet.
The Spaniards sprang out of the boat, swore, and shook themselves
and protested against trying it again; and it was with the greatest
difficulty that the agent could prevail upon them to make another

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