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Two Years Before the Mast by Richard Henry Dana

Part 5 out of 8

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attempt. The next time we took care, and went off easily enough,
and pulled aboard. The crew came to the side to hoist in their
baggage, and we gave them the wink, and they heartily enjoyed the
half-drowned looks of the company.

Everything being now ready, and the passengers aboard, we ran up
the ensign and broad pennant, (for there was no man-of-war, and
we were the largest vessel on the coast,) and the other vessels
ran up their ensigns. Having hove short, cast off the gaskets,
and made the bunt of each sail fast by the jigger, with a man on
each yard; at the word, the whole canvas of the ship was loosed,
and with the greatest rapidity possible, everything was sheeted
home and hoisted up, the anchor tripped and catheaded, and the
ship under headway. We were determined to show the "spouter" how
things could be done in a smart ship, with a good crew, though not
more than half their number. The royal yards were all crossed at
once, and royals and skysails set, and, as we had the wind free,
the booms were run out, and every one was aloft, active as cats,
laying out on the yards and booms, reeving the studding-sail gear;
and sail after sail the captain piled upon her, until she was covered
with canvas, her sails looking like a great white cloud resting
upon a black speck. Before we doubled the point, we were going
at a dashing rate, and leaving the shipping far astern. We had
a fine breeze to take us through the Canal, as they call this bay
of forty miles long by ten wide. The breeze died away at night,
and we were becalmed all day on Sunday, about half way between
Santa Barbara and Point Conception. Sunday night we had a light,
fair wind, which set us up again; and having a fine sea-breeze on
the first part of Monday, we had the prospect of passing, without
any trouble, Point Conception,--the Cape Horn of California,
where it begins to blow the first of January, and blows all the
year round. Toward the latter part of the afternoon, however,
the regular northwest wind, as usual, set in, which brought in our
studding-sails, and gave us the chance of beating round the Point,
which we were now just abreast of, and which stretched off into the
Pacific, high, rocky and barren, forming the central point of the
coast for hundreds of miles north and south. A cap-full of wind
will be a bag-full here, and before night our royals were furled,
and the ship was laboring hard under her top-gallant sails. At eight
bells our watch went below, leaving her with as much sail as she
could stagger under, the water flying over the forecastle at every
plunge. It was evidently blowing harder, but then there was not a
cloud in the sky, and the sun had gone down bright.

We had been below but a short time, before we had the usual
premonitions of a coming gale: seas washing over the whole
forward part of the vessel, and her bows beating against them
with a force and sound like the driving of piles. The watch,
too, seemed very busy trampling about decks, and singing out at
the ropes. A sailor can always tell, by the sound, what sail is
coming in, and, in a short time, we heard the top-gallant sails
come in, one after another, and then the flying jib. This seemed
to ease her a good deal, and we were fast going off to the land
of Nod, when--bang, bang, bang--on the scuttle, and "All hands,
reef topsails, ahoy!" started us out of our berths; and, it not
being very cold weather, we had nothing extra to put on, and were
soon on deck. I shall never forget the fineness of the sight.
It was a clear, and rather a chilly night; the stars were twinkling
with an intense brightness, and as far as the eye could reach,
there was not a cloud to be seen. The horizon met the sea in a
defined line. A painter could not have painted so clear a sky.
There was not a speck upon it. Yet it was blowing great guns from
the north-west. When you can see a cloud to windward, you feel that
there is a place for the wind to come from; but here it seemed to
come from nowhere. No person could have told, from the heavens,
by their eyesight alone, that it was not a still summer's night.
One reef after another, we took in the topsails, and before
we could get them hoisted up, we heard a sound like a short,
quick rattling of thunder, and the jib was blown to atoms out of
the bolt-rope. We got the topsails set, and the fragments of the
jib stowed away, and the fore-topmast staysail set in its place,
when the great mainsail gaped open, and the sail ripped from head
to foot. "Lay up on that main-yard and furl the sail, before it
blows to tatters!" shouted the captain; and in a moment, we were
up, gathering the remains of it upon the yard. We got it wrapped,
round the yard, and passed gaskets over it as snugly as possible,
and were just on deck again, when, with another loud rent,
which was heard throughout the ship, the fore-topsail, which had
been double-reefed, split in two, athwartships, just below the
reefband, from earing to earing. Here again it was down yard,
haul out reef-tackles, and lay out upon the yard for reefing.
By hauling the reef-tackles chock-a-block, we took the strain
from the other earings, and passing the close-reef earing,
and knotting the points carefully, we succeeded in setting
the sail, close-reefed.

We had but just got the rigging coiled up, and were waiting to
hear "go below the watch!" when the main royal worked loose from
the gaskets, and blew directly out to leeward, flapping, and shaking
the mast like a wand. Here was a job for somebody. The royal must
come in or be cut adrift, or the mast would be snapped short off.
All the light hands in the starboard watch were sent up, one after
another, but they could do nothing with it. At length, John,
the tall Frenchman, the head of the starboard watch, (and a better
sailor never stepped upon a deck,) sprang aloft, and, by the help
of his long arms and legs, succeeded, after a hard struggle,--the
sail blowing over the yard-arm to leeward, and the skysail blowing
directly over his head--in smothering it, and frapping it with long
pieces of sinnet. He came very near being blown or shaken from
the yard, several times, but he was a true sailor, every finger
a fish-hook. Having made the sail snug, he prepared to send the
yard down, which was a long and difficult job; for, frequently,
he was obliged to stop and hold on with all his might, for several
minutes, the ship pitching so as to make it impossible to do
anything else at that height. The yard at length came down
safe, and after it, the fore and mizen royal-yards were sent
down. All hands were then sent aloft, and for an hour or two
we were hard at work, making the booms well fast; unreeving the
studding-sail and royal and skysail gear; getting rolling-ropes
on the yards; setting up the weather breast-backstays; and making
other preparations for a storm. It was a fine night for a gale;
just cool and bracing enough for quick work, without being cold,
and as bright as day. It was sport to have a gale in such weather
as this. Yet it blew like a hurricane. The wind seemed to come
with a spite, an edge to it, which threatened to scrape us off
the yards. The mere force of the wind was greater than I had
ever seen it before; but darkness, cold, and wet are the worst
parts of a storm to a sailor.

Having got on deck again, we looked round to see what time of
night it was, and whose watch. In a few minutes the man at the
wheel struck four bells, and we found that the other watch was out,
and our own half out. Accordingly, the starboard watch went below,
and left the ship to us for a couple of hours, yet with orders to
stand by for a call.

Hardly had they got below, before away went the fore-topmast staysail,
blown to ribbons. This was a small sail, which we could manage in
the watch, so that we were not obliged to call up the other watch.
We laid out upon the bowsprit, where we were under water half the
time, and took in the fragments of the sail, and as she must have
some head sail on her, prepared to bend another staysail. We got
the new one out, into the nettings; seized on the tack, sheets,
and halyards, and the hanks; manned the halyards, cut adrift the
frapping lines, and hoisted away; but before it was half way up
the stay, it was blown all to pieces. When we belayed the halyards,
there was nothing left but the bolt-rope. Now large eyes began to
show themselves in the foresail, and knowing that it must soon go,
the mate ordered us upon the yard to furl it. Being unwilling to
call up the watch who had been on deck all night, he roused out the
carpenter, sailmaker, cook, steward, and other idlers, and,
with their help, we manned the foreyard, and after nearly half an
hour's struggle, mastered the sail, and got it well furled round
the yard. The force of the wind had never been greater than at
this moment. In going up the rigging, it seemed absolutely to pin
us down to the shrouds; and on the yard, there was no such thing
as turning a face to windward. Yet here was no driving sleet,
and darkness, and wet, and cold, as off Cape Horn; and instead of
a stiff oil-cloth suit, south-wester caps, and thick boots, we had
on hats, round jackets, duck trowsers, light shoes, and everything
light and easy. All these things make a great difference to a
sailor. When we got on deck, the man at the wheel struck eight
bells, (four o'clock in the morning,) and "All starbowlines,
ahoy!" brought the other watch up. But there was no going below
for us. The gale was now at its height, "blowing like scissors
and thumb-screws;" the captain was on deck; the ship, which was
light, rolling and pitching as though she would shake the long
sticks out of her; and the sail gaping open and splitting, in
every direction. The mizen topsail, which was a comparatively
new sail, and close-reefed, split, from head to foot, in the
bunt; the fore-topsail went, in one rent, from clew to earing,
and was blowing to tatters; one of the chain bobstays parted;
the spritsail-yard sprung in the slings; the martingale had slued
away off to leeward; and, owing to the long dry weather, the lee
rigging hung in large bights, at every lurch. One of the main
top-gallant shrouds had parted; and, to crown all, the galley had
got adrift, and gone over to leeward, and the anchor on the lee
bow had worked loose, and was thumping the side. Here was work
enough for all hands for half a day. Our gang laid out on the
mizen topsail yard, and after more than half an hour's hard work,
furled the sail, though it bellied out over our heads, and again,
by a slant of the wind, blew in under the yard, with a fearful
jerk, and almost threw us off from the foot-ropes.

Double gaskets were passed round the yards, rolling tackles and
other gear bowsed taught, and everything made as secure as could
be. Coming down, we found the rest of the crew just coming down
the fore rigging, having furled the tattered topsail, or, rather,
swathed it round the yard, which looked like a broken limb, bandaged.
There was no sail now on the ship but the spanker and the close-reefed
main topsail, which still held good. But this was too much after
sail; and order was given to furl the spanker. The brails were
hauled up, and all the light hands in the starboard watch sent
out on the gaff to pass the gaskets; but they could do nothing
with it. The second mate swore at them for a parcel of "sogers,"
and sent up a couple of the best men; but they could do no better,
and the gaff was lowered down. All hands were now employed in
setting up the lee rigging, fishing the spritsail-yard, lashing
the galley, and getting tackles upon the martingale, to bowse it
to windward. Being in the larboard watch, my duty was forward,
to assist in setting up the martingale. Three of us were out on
the martingale guys and back-ropes for more than half an hour,
carrying out, hooking and unhooking the tackles, several times
buried in the seas, until the mate ordered us in, from fear of
our being washed off. The anchors were then to be taken up on
the rail, which kept all hands on the forecastle for an hour,
though every now and then the seas broke over it, washing the
rigging off to leeward, filling the lee scuppers breast high,
and washing chock aft to the taffrail.

Having got everything secure again, we were promising ourselves
some breakfast, for it was now nearly nine o'clock in the forenoon,
when the main topsail showed evident signs of giving way. Some sail
must be kept on the ship, and the captain ordered the fore and main
spencer gaffs to be lowered down, and the two spencers (which were
storm sails, bran new, small, and made of the strongest canvas)
to be got up and bent; leaving the main topsail to blow away,
with a blessing on it, if it would only last until we could set
the spencers. These we bent on very carefully, with strong robands
and seizings, and making tackles fast to the clews, bowsed them down
to the water-ways. By this time the main topsail was among the
things that have been, and we went aloft to stow away the remnant
of the last sail of all those which were on the ship twenty-four
hours before. The spencers were now the only whole sails on the
ship, and, being strong and small, and near the deck, presenting
but little surface to the wind above the rail, promised to hold
out well. Hove-to under these, and eased by having no sail above
the tops, the ship rose and fell, and drifted off to leeward like
a line-of-battle ship.

It was now eleven o'clock, and the watch was sent below to
get breakfast, and at eight bells (noon), as everything was
snug, although the gale had not in the least abated, the watch
was set, and the other watch and idlers sent below. For three
days and three nights, the gale continued with unabated fury,
and with singular regularity. There was no lulls, and very
little variation in its fierceness. Our ship, being light,
rolled so as almost to send the fore yard-arm under water,
and drifted off bodily, to leeward. All this time there was
not a cloud to be seen in the sky, day or night;--no, not so
large as a man's hand. Every morning the sun rose cloudless
from the sea, and set again at night, in the sea, in a flood of
light. The stars, too, came out of the blue, one after another,
night after night, unobscured, and twinkled as clear as on a still
frosty night at home, until the day came upon them. All this time,
the sea was rolling in immense surges, white with foam, as far as
the eye could reach, on every side, for we were now leagues and
leagues from shore.

The between-decks being empty, several of us slept there in hammocks,
which are the best things in the world to sleep in during a storm;
it not being true of them, as it is of another kind of bed, "when the
wind blows, the cradle will rock;" for it is the ship that rocks,
while they always hang vertically from the beams. During these
seventy-two hours we had nothing to do, but to turn in and out,
four hours on deck, and four below, eat, sleep, and keep watch.
The watches were only varied by taking the helm in turn, and now
and then, by one of the sails, which were furled, blowing out of
the gaskets, and getting adrift, which sent us up on the yards;
and by getting tackles on different parts of the rigging, which were
slack. Once, the wheel-rope parted, which might have been fatal
to us, had not the chief mate sprung instantly with a relieving
tackle to windward, and kept the tiller up, till a new one could
be rove. On the morning of the twentieth, at daybreak, the gale
had evidently done its worst, and had somewhat abated; so much so,
that all hands were called to bend new sails, although it was still
blowing as hard as two common gales. One at a time, and with great
difficulty and labor, the old sails were unbent and sent down
by the bunt-lines, and three new topsails, made for the homeward
passage round Cape Horn, and which had never been bent, were got
up from the sailroom, and under the care of the sailmaker, were
fitted for bending, and sent up by the halyards into the tops, and,
with stops and frapping lines, were bent to the yards, close-reefed,
sheeted home, and hoisted. These were done one at a time, and with
the greatest care and difficulty. Two spare courses were then
got up and bent in the same manner and furled, and a storm-jib,
with the bonnet off, bent and furled to the boom. It was twelve
o'clock before we got through; and five hours of more exhausting
labor I never experienced; and no one of that ship's crew, I will
venture to say, will ever desire again to unbend and bend five large
sails, in the teeth of a tremendous north-wester. Towards night,
a few clouds appeared in the horizon, and as the gale moderated,
the usual appearance of driving clouds relieved the face of the sky.
The fifth day after the commencement of the storm, we shook a reef
out of each topsail, and set the reefed foresail, jib and spanker;
but it was not until after eight days of reefed topsails that we
had a whole sail on the ship; and then it was quite soon enough,
for the captain was anxious to make up for leeway, the gale having
blown us half the distance to the Sandwich Islands.

Inch by inch, as fast as the gale would permit, we made sail on the
ship, for the wind still continued a-head, and we had many days'
sailing to get back to the longitude we were in when the storm
took us. For eight days more we beat to windward under a stiff
top-gallant breeze, when the wind shifted and became variable.
A light south-easter, to which we could carry a reefed topmast
studding-sail, did wonders for our dead reckoning.

Friday, December 4th, after a passage of twenty days, we arrived
at the mouth of the bay of San Francisco.


Our place of destination had been Monterey, but as we were to the
northward of it when the wind hauled a-head, we made a fair wind
for San Francisco. This large bay, which lies in latitude 37° 58',
was discovered by Sir Francis Drake, and by him represented to
be (as indeed it is) a magnificent bay, containing several good
harbors, great depth of water, and surrounded by a fertile and
finely wooded country. About thirty miles from the mouth of the
bay, and on the south-east side, is a high point, upon which the
presidio is built. Behind this, is the harbor in which trading
vessels anchor, and near it, the mission of San Francisco, and a
newly begun settlement, mostly of Yankee Californians, called Yerba
Buena, which promises well. Here, at anchor, and the only vessel,
was a brig under Russian colors, from Asitka, in Russian America,
which had come down to winter, and to take in a supply of tallow
and grain, great quantities of which latter article are raised
in the missions at the head of the bay. The second day after
our arrival, we went on board the brig, it being Sunday, as a
matter of curiosity; and there was enough there to gratify it.
Though no larger than the Pilgrim, she had five or six officers,
and a crew of between twenty and thirty; and such a stupid and
greasy-looking set, I certainly never saw before. Although it
was quite comfortable weather, and we had nothing on but straw
hats, shirts, and duck trowsers, and were barefooted, they had,
every man of them, double-soled boots, coming up to the knees,
and well greased; thick woolen trowsers, frocks, waistcoats,
pea-jackets, woolen caps, and everything in true Nova Zembla
rig; and in the warmest days they made no change. The clothing
of one of these men would weigh nearly as much as that of half
our crew. They had brutish faces, looked like the antipodes of
sailors, and apparently dealt in nothing but grease. They lived
upon grease; eat it, drank it, slept in the midst of it, and their
clothes were covered with it. To a Russian, grease is the greatest
luxury. They looked with greedy eyes upon the tallow-bags as they
were taken into the vessel, and, no doubt, would have eaten one up
whole, had not the officer kept watch over it. The grease seemed
actually coming through their pores, and out in their hair, and on
their faces. It seems as if it were this saturation which makes
them stand cold and rain so well. If they were to go into a warm
climate, they would all die of the scurvy.

The vessel was no better than the crew. Everything was in the oldest
and most inconvenient fashion possible; running trusses on the yards,
and large hawser cables, coiled all over the decks, and served and
parcelled in all directions. The topmasts, top-gallant masts and
studding-sail booms were nearly black for want of scraping, and
the decks would have turned the stomach of a man-of-war's-man.
The galley was down in the forecastle; and there the crew lived,
in the midst of the steam and grease of the cooking, in a place
as hot as an oven, and as dirty as a pigsty. Five minutes in
the forecastle was enough for us, and we were glad to get into the
open air. We made some trade with them, buying Indian curiosities,
of which they had a great number; such as bead-work, feathers of
birds, fur moccasins, etc. I purchased a large robe, made of the
skins of some animals, dried and sewed nicely together, and covered
all over on the outside with thick downy feathers, taken from the
breasts of various birds, and arranged with their different colors,
so as to make a brilliant show.

A few days after our arrival, the rainy season set in, and,
for three weeks, it rained almost every hour, without cessation.
This was bad for our trade, for the collecting of hides is managed
differently in this port from what it is in any other on the coast.
The mission of San Francisco near the anchorage, has no trade at
all, but those of San José, Santa Clara, and others, situated on
large creeks or rivers which run into the bay, and distant between
fifteen and forty miles from the anchorage, do a greater business
in hides than any in California. Large boats, manned by Indians,
and capable of carrying nearly a thousand hides apiece, are attached
to the missions, and sent down to the vessels with hides, to bring
away goods in return. Some of the crews of the vessels are obliged
to go and come in the boats, to look out for the hides and goods.
These are favorite expeditions with the sailors, in fine weather;
but now to be gone three or four days, in open boats, in constant
rain, without any shelter, and with cold food, was hard service.
Two of our men went up to Santa Clara in one of these boats,
and were gone three days, during all which time they had a
constant rain, and did not sleep a wink, but passed three long
nights, walking fore and aft the boat, in the open air. When they
got on board, they were completely exhausted, and took a watch
below of twelve hours. All the hides, too, that came down in the
boats, were soaked with water, and unfit to put below, so that we
were obliged to trice them up to dry, in the intervals of sunshine
or wind, upon all parts of the vessel. We got up tricing-lines
from the jib-boom-end to each arm of the fore yard, and thence to
the main and cross-jack yard-arms. Between the tops, too, and the
mast-heads, from the fore to the main swifters, and thence to the
mizen rigging, and in all directions athwartships, tricing-lines
were run, and strung with hides. The head stays and guys, and the
spritsail-yard, were lined, and, having still more, we got out the
swinging booms, and strung them and the forward and after guys,
with hides. The rail, fore and aft, the windlass, capstan, the
sides of the ship, and every vacant place on deck, were covered
with wet hides, on the least sign of an interval for drying.
Our ship was nothing but a mass of hides, from the cat-harpins
to the water's edge, and from the jib-boom-end to the taffrail.

One cold, rainy evening, about eight o'clock, I received orders to
get ready to start for San José at four the next morning, in one of
these Indian boats, with four days' provisions. I got my oil-cloth
clothes, south-wester, and thick boots all ready, and turned into
my hammock early, determined to get some sleep in advance, as the
boat was to be alongside before daybreak. I slept on till all hands
were called in the morning; for, fortunately for me, the Indians,
intentionally, or from mistaking their orders, had gone off alone
in the night, and were far out of sight. Thus I escaped three or
four days of very uncomfortable service.

Four of our men, a few days afterwards, went up in one of the
quarter-boats to Santa Clara, to carry the agent, and remained
out all night in a drenching rain, in the small boat, where there
was not room for them to turn round; the agent having gone up to
the mission and left the men to their fate, making no provision
for their accommodation, and not even sending them anything
to eat. After this, they had to pull thirty miles, and when
they got on board, were so stiff that they could not come up
the gangway ladder. This filled up the measure of the agent's
unpopularity, and never after this could he get anything done by
any of the crew; and many a delay and vexation, and many a good
ducking in the surf, did he get to pay up old scores, or "square
the yards with the bloody quill-driver."

Having collected nearly all the hides that were to be procured,
we began our preparations for taking in a supply of wood and water,
for both of which, San Francisco is the best place on the coast.
A small island, situated about two leagues from the anchorage,
called by us "Wood Island," and by the Spaniards "Isle de los
Angelos," was covered with trees to the water's edge; and to
this, two of our crew, who were Kennebec men, and could handle
an axe like a plaything, were sent every morning to cut wood,
with two boys to pile it up for them. In about a week, they had
cut enough to last us a year, and the third mate, with myself
and three others, were sent over in a large, schooner-rigged,
open launch, which we had hired of the mission, to take in the
wood, and bring it to the ship. We left the ship about noon, but,
owing to a strong head wind, and a tide, which here runs four or
five knots, did not get into the harbor, formed by two points of
the island, where the boats lie, until sundown. No sooner had we
come-to, than a strong south-easter, which had been threatening
us all day, set in, with heavy rain and a chilly atmosphere.
We were in rather a bad situation: an open boat, a heavy rain,
and a long night; for in winter, in this latitude, it was dark
nearly fifteen hours. Taking a small skiff which we had brought
with us, we went ashore, but found no shelter, for everything was
open to the rain, and collecting a little wood, which we found by
lifting up the leaves and brush, and a few muscles, we put aboard
again, and made the best preparations in our power for passing
the night. We unbent the mainsail, and formed an awning with it
over the after part of the boat, made a bed of wet logs of wood,
and, with our jackets on, lay down, about six o'clock, to sleep.
Finding the rain running down upon us, and our jackets getting wet
through, and the rough, knotty-logs, rather indifferent couches,
we turned out; and taking an iron pan which we brought with us,
we wiped it out dry, put some stones around it, cut the wet bark
from some sticks, and striking a light, made a small fire in the
pan. Keeping some sticks near, to dry, and covering the whole
over with a roof of boards, we kept up a small fire, by which
we cooked our muscles, and eat them, rather for an occupation
than from hunger. Still, it was not ten o'clock, and the night
was long before us, when one of the party produced an old pack
of Spanish cards from his monkey-jacket pocket, which we hailed
as a great windfall; and keeping a dim, flickering light by our
fagots, we played game after game, till one or two o'clock, when,
becoming really tired, we went to our logs again, one sitting up
at a time, in turn, to keep watch over the fire. Toward morning,
the rain ceased, and the air became sensibly colder, so that we found
sleep impossible, and sat up, watching for daybreak. No sooner
was it light than we went ashore, and began our preparations for
loading our vessel. We were not mistaken in the coldness of the
weather, for a white frost was on the ground, a thing we had never
seen before in California, and one or two little puddles of fresh
water were skimmed over with a thin coat of ice. In this state
of the weather and before sunrise, in the grey of the morning,
we had to wade off, nearly up to our hips in water, to load
the skiff with the wood by armsfull. The third mate remained
on board the launch, two more men staid in the skiff, to load
and manage it, and all the water-work, as usual, fell upon the
two youngest of us; and there we were, with frost on the ground,
wading forward and back, from the beach to the boat, with armsfull
of wood, barefooted, and our trowsers rolled up. When the skiff
went off with her load, we could only keep our feet from freezing
by racing up and down the beach on the hard sand, as fast as we
could go. We were all day at this work, and towards sundown,
having loaded the vessel as deep as she would bear, we hove up
our anchor, and made sail, beating out the bay. No sooner had
we got into the large bay, than we found a strong tide setting
us out to seaward, a thick fog which prevented our seeing the
ship, and a breeze too light to set us against the tide; for we
were as deep as a sand-barge. By the utmost exertions, we saved
ourselves from being carried out to sea, and were glad to reach the
leewardmost point of the island, where we came-to, and prepared
to pass another night, more uncomfortable than the first, for we
were loaded up to the gunwale, and had only a choice among logs
and sticks for a resting-place. The next morning, we made sail at
slack water, with a fair wind, and got on board by eleven o'clock,
when all hands were turned-to, to unload and stow away the wood,
which took till night.

Having now taken in all our wood, the next morning a water-party
was ordered off with all the casks. From this we escaped, having
had a pretty good siege with the wooding. The water-party were
gone three days, during which time they narrowly escaped being
carried out to sea, and passed one day on an island, where one
of them shot a deer, great numbers of which overrun the islands
and hills of San Francisco Bay.

While not off, on these wood and water parties, or up the rivers
to the missions, we had very easy times on board the ship. We were
moored, stem and stern, within a cable's length of the shore, safe
from south-easters, and with very little boating to do; and as it
rained nearly all the time, awnings were put over the hatchways,
and all hands sent down between decks, where we were at work,
day after day, picking oakum, until we got enough to caulk the ship
all over, and to last the whole voyage. Then we made a whole suit
of gaskets for the voyage home, a pair of wheel-ropes from strips
of green hide, great quantities of spun-yarn, and everything else
that could be made between decks. It being now mid-winter and
in high latitude, the nights were very long, so that we were not
turned-to until seven in the morning, and were obliged to knock
off at five in the evening, when we got supper; which gave us
nearly three hours before eight bells, at which time the watch
was set.

As we had now been about a year on the coast, it was time to think
of the voyage home; and knowing that the last two or three months
of our stay would be very busy ones, and that we should never have
so good an opportunity to work for ourselves as the present, we all
employed our evenings in making clothes for the passage home, and more
especially for Cape Horn. As soon as supper was over and the kids
cleared away, and each one had taken his smoke, we seated ourselves
on our chests round the lamp, which swung from a beam, and each one
went to work in his own way, some making hats, others trowsers,
others jackets, etc., etc.; and no one was idle. The boys who
could not sew well enough to make their own clothes, laid up grass
into sinnet for the men, who sewed for them in return. Several of
us clubbed together and bought a large piece of twilled cotton,
which we made into trowsers and jackets, and giving them several
coats of linseed oil, laid them by for Cape Horn. I also sewed
and covered a tarpaulin hat, thick and strong enough to sit down
upon, and made myself a complete suit of flannel under-clothing,
for bad weather. Those who had no south-wester caps, made them,
and several of the crew made themselves tarpaulin jackets and
trowsers, lined on the inside with flannel. Industry was the order
of the day, and every one did something for himself; for we knew
that as the season advanced, and we went further south, we should
have no evenings to work in.

Friday, December 25th. This day was Christmas; and as it rained
all day long, and there were no hides to take in, and nothing
especial to do, the captain gave us a holiday, (the first we had
had since leaving Boston,) and plum duff for dinner. The Russian
brig, following the Old Style, had celebrated their Christmas
eleven days before; when they had a grand blow-out and (as our
men said) drank, in the forecastle, a barrel of gin, ate up a
bag of tallow, and made a soup of the skin.

Sunday, December 27th. We had now finished all our business at
this port, and it being Sunday, we unmoored ship and got under
weigh, firing a salute to the Russian brig, and another to the
Presidio, which were both answered. The commandant of the Presidio,
Don Gaudaloupe Villego, a young man, and the most popular, among the
Americans and English, of any man in California, was on board when
we got under weigh. He spoke English very well, and was suspected
of being favorably inclined to foreigners.

We sailed down this magnificent bay with a light wind, the tide,
which was running out, carrying us at the rate of four or five
knots. It was a fine day; the first of entire sunshine we had
had for more than a month. We passed directly under the high
cliff on which the Presidio is built, and stood into the middle
of the bay, from whence we could see small bays, making up into
the interior, on every side; large and beautifully-wooded islands;
and the mouths of several small rivers. If California ever becomes
a prosperous country, this bay will be the centre of its prosperity.
The abundance of wood and water, the extreme fertility of its shores,
the excellence of its climate, which is as near to being perfect as
any in the world, and its facilities for navigation, affording the
best anchoring-grounds in the whole western coast of America,
all fit it for a place of great importance; and, indeed, it has
attracted much attention, for the settlement of "Yerba Buena,"
where we lay at anchor, made chiefly by Americans and English,
and which bids fair to become the most important trading place on
the coast, at this time began to supply traders, Russian ships,
and whalers, with their stores of wheat and frijoles.

The tide leaving us, we came to anchor near the mouth of the bay,
under a high and beautifully sloping hill, upon which herds of
hundreds and hundreds of red deer, and the stag, with his high
branching antlers, were bounding about, looking at us for a moment,
and then starting off, affrighted at the noises which we made for
the purpose of seeing the variety of their beautiful attitudes
and motions.

At midnight, the tide having turned, we hove up our anchor and
stood out of the bay, with a fine starry heaven above us,--the
first we had seen for weeks and weeks. Before the light northerly
winds, which blow here with the regularity of trades, we worked
slowly along, and made Point Año Nuevo, the northerly point of
the Bay of Monterey, on Monday afternoon. We spoke, going in,
the brig Diana, of the Sandwich Islands, from the North-west Coast,
last from Asitka. She was off the point at the same time with us,
but did not get in to the anchoring-ground until an hour or two
after us. It was ten o'clock on Tuesday morning when we came
to anchor. The town looked just as it did when I saw it last,
which was eleven months before, in the brig Pilgrim. The pretty
lawn on which it stands, as green as sun and rain could make it;
the pine wood on the south; the small river on the north side;
the houses, with their white plastered sides and red-tiled roofs,
dotted about on the green; the low, white presidio, with its soiled,
tri-colored flag flying, and the discordant din of drums and trumpets
for the noon parade; all brought up the scene we had witnessed here
with so much pleasure nearly a year before, when coming from a
long voyage, and our unprepossessing reception at Santa Barbara.
It seemed almost like coming to a home.


The only other vessel in port was the Russian government bark,
from Asitka, mounting eight guns, (four of which we found to be
Quakers,) and having on board the ex-governor, who was going in
her to Mazatlan, and thence overland to Vera Cruz. He offered
to take letters, and deliver them to the American consul at
Vera Cruz, whence they could be easily forwarded to the United
States. We accordingly made up a packet of letters, almost every
one writing, and dating them "January 1st, 1836." The governor
was true to his promise, and they all reached Boston before the
middle of March; the shortest communication ever yet made across
the country.

The brig Pilgrim had been lying in Monterey through the latter part
of November, according to orders, waiting for us. Day after day,
Captain Faucon went up to the hill to look out for us, and at last,
gave us up, thinking we must have gone down in the gale which we
experienced off Point Conception, and which had blown with great
fury over the whole coast, driving ashore several vessels in the
snuggest ports. An English brig, which had put into San Francisco,
lost both her anchors; the Rosa was driven upon a mud bank in
San Diego; and the Pilgrim, with great difficulty, rode out the
gale in Monterey, with three anchors a-head. She sailed early
in December for San Diego and intermedios.

As we were to be here over Sunday, and Monterey was the best place
to go ashore on the whole coast, and we had had no liberty-day for
nearly three months, every one was for going ashore. On Sunday morning,
as soon as the decks were washed, and we had got breakfast, those who
had obtained liberty began to clean themselves, as it is called,
to go ashore. A bucket of fresh water apiece, a cake of soap,
a large coarse towel, and we went to work scrubbing one another,
on the forecastle. Having gone through this, the next thing was
to get into the head,--one on each side--with a bucket apiece,
and duck one another, by drawing up water and heaving over each
other, while we were stripped to a pair of trowsers. Then came
the rigging-up. The usual outfit of pumps, white stockings,
loose white duck trowsers, blue jackets, clean checked shirts,
black kerchiefs, hats well varnished, with a fathom of black
ribbon over the left eye, a silk handkerchief flying from the
outside jacket pocket, and four or five dollars tied up in the
back of the neckerchief, and we were "all right." One of the
quarter-boats pulled us ashore, and we steamed up to the town.
I tried to find the church, in order to see the worship, but was told
that there was no service, except a mass early in the morning; so we
went about the town, visiting the Americans and English, and the
natives whom we had known when we were here before. Toward noon
we procured horses, and rode out to the Carmel mission, which is
about a league from the town, where we got something in the way
of a dinner--beef, eggs, frijoles, tortillas, and some middling
wine--from the mayordomo, who, of course, refused to make any
charge, as it was the Lord's gift, yet received our present,
as a gratuity, with a low bow, a touch of the hat, and "Dios
se lo pague!"

After this repast, we had a fine run, scouring the whole country
on our fleet horses, and came into town soon after sundown.
Here we found our companions who had refused to go to ride
with us, thinking that a sailor has no more business with a horse
than a fish has with a balloon. They were moored, stem and stern,
in a grog-shop, making a great noise, with a crowd of Indians and
hungry half-breeds about them, and with a fair prospect of being
stripped and dirked, or left to pass the night in the calabozo.
With a great deal of trouble, we managed to get them down to the
boats, though not without many angry looks and interferences from
the Spaniards, who had marked them out for their prey. The Diana's
crew,--a set of worthless outcasts, who had been picked up at the
islands from the refuse of whale-ships,--were all as drunk as beasts,
and had a set-to, on the beach, with their captain, who was in no
better state than themselves. They swore they would not go aboard,
and went back to the town, were stripped and beaten, and lodged in
the calabozo, until the next day, when the captain bought them out.
Our forecastle, as usual after a liberty-day, was a scene of tumult
all night long, from the drunken ones. They had just got to sleep
toward morning, when they were turned up with the rest, and kept at
work all day in the water, carrying hides, their heads aching so that
they could hardly stand. This is sailor's pleasure.

Nothing worthy of remark happened while we were here, except a little
boxing-match on board our own ship, which gave us something to talk
about. A broad-backed, big-headed Cape Cod boy, about sixteen
years old, had been playing the bully, for the whole voyage,
over a slender, delicate-looking boy, from one of the Boston
schools, and over whom he had much the advantage, in strength,
age, and experience in the ship's duty, for this was the first
time the Boston boy had been on salt water. The latter, however,
had "picked up his crumbs," was learning his duty, and getting
strength and confidence daily; and began to assert his rights
against his oppressor. Still, the other was his master, and,
by his superior strength, always tackled with him and threw him
down. One afternoon, before we were turned-to, these boys got
into a violent squabble in the between-decks, when George (the
Boston boy) said he would fight Nat, if he could have fair play.
The chief mate heard the noise, dove down the hatchway, hauled them
both up on deck, and told them to shake hands and have no more
trouble for the voyage, or else they should fight till one gave
in for beaten. Finding neither willing to make an offer for
reconciliation, he called all hands up, (for the captain was
ashore, and he could do as he chose aboard,) ranged the crew
in the waist, marked a line on the deck, brought the two boys
up to it, making them "toe the mark;" then made the bight of a
rope fast to a belaying pin, and stretched it across the deck,
bringing it just above their waists. "No striking below the
rope!" And there they stood, one on each side of it, face to
face, and went at it like two game-cocks. The Cape Cod boy, Nat,
put in his double-fisters, starting the blood, and bringing the
black and blue spots all over the face and arms of the other,
whom we expected to see give in every moment: but the more he
was hurt, the better he fought. Time after time he was knocked
nearly down, but up he came again and faced the mark, as bold as
a lion, again to take the heavy blows, which sounded so as to
make one's heart turn with pity for him. At length he came up
to the mark for the last time, his shirt torn from his body, his
face covered with blood and bruises, and his eyes flashing fire,
and swore he would stand there until one or the other was killed,
and set-to like a young fury. "Hurrah in the bow!" said the men,
cheering him on. "Well crowed!" "Never say die, while there's
a shot in the locker!" Nat tried to close with him, knowing his
advantage, but the mate stopped that, saying there should be fair
play, and no fingering. Nat then came up to the mark, but looked
white about the mouth, and his blows were not given with half the
spirit of his first. He was evidently cowed. He had always been
his master, and had nothing to gain, and everything to lose;
while the other fought for honor and freedom, under a sense of
wrong. It would not do. It was soon over. Nat gave in; not so
much beaten, as cowed and mortified; and never afterwards tried
to act the bully on board. We took George forward, washed him
in the deck-tub, complimented his pluck, and from this time he
became somebody on board, having fought himself into notice.
Mr. Brown's plan had a good effect, for there was no more quarrelling
among the boys for the rest of the voyage.

Wednesday, January 6th. Set sail from Monterey, with a number of
Spaniards as passengers, and shaped our course for Santa Barbara.
The Diana went out of the bay in company with us, but parted from
us off Point Pinos, being bound to the Sandwich Islands. We had a
smacking breeze for several hours, and went along at a great rate,
until night, when it died away, as usual, and the land-breeze set in,
which brought us upon a taught bowline. Among our passengers was a
young man who was the best representation of a decayed gentleman
I had ever seen. He reminded me much of some of the characters
in Gil Blas. He was of the aristocracy of the country, his family
being of pure Spanish blood, and once of great importance in Mexico.
His father had been governor of the province, and having amassed a
large property, settled at San Diego, where he built a large house
with a court-yard in front, kept a great retinue of Indians, and set
up for the grandee of that part of the country. His son was sent
to Mexico, where he received the best education, and went into the
first society of the capital. Misfortune, extravagance, and the
want of funds, or any manner of getting interest on money,
soon eat the estate up, and Don Juan Bandini returned from
Mexico accomplished, poor, and proud, and without any office
or occupation, to lead the life of most young men of the better
families--dissolute and extravagant when the means are at hand;
ambitious at heart, and impotent in act; often pinched for bread;
keeping up an appearance of style, when their poverty is known to
each half-naked Indian boy in the street, and they stand in dread of
every small trader and shopkeeper in the place. He had a slight and
elegant figure, moved gracefully, danced and waltzed beautifully,
spoke the best of Castilian, with a pleasant and refined voice
and accent, and had, throughout, the bearing of a man of high
birth and figure. Yet here he was, with his passage given him,
(as I afterwards learned,) for he had not the means of paying
for it, and living upon the charity of our agent. He was polite
to every one, spoke to the sailors, and gave four reáls--I dare
say the last he had in his pocket--to the steward, who waited
upon him. I could not but feel a pity for him, especially when I
saw him by the side of his fellow-passenger and townsman, a fat,
coarse, vulgar, pretending fellow of a Yankee trader, who had
made money in San Diego, and was eating out the very vitals of
the Bandinis, fattening upon their extravagance, grinding them in
their poverty; having mortgages on their lands, forestalling their
cattle, and already making an inroad upon their jewels, which were
their last hope.

Don Juan had with him a retainer, who was as much like many of
the characters in Gil Blas as his master. He called himself a
private secretary, though there was no writing for him to do,
and he lived in the steerage with the carpenter and sailmaker.
He was certainly a character; could read and write extremely well;
spoke good Spanish; had been all over Spanish America, and lived in
every possible situation, and served in every conceivable capacity,
though generally in that of confidential servant to some man
of figure. I cultivated this man's acquaintance, and during
the five weeks that he was with us,--for he remained on board
until we arrived at San Diego,--I gained a greater knowledge
of the state of political parties in Mexico, and the habits
and affairs of the different classes of society, than I could
have learned from almost any one else. He took great pains in
correcting my Spanish, and supplying me with colloquial phrases,
and common terms and exclamations in speaking. He lent me a file
of late newspapers from the city of Mexico, which were full of
triumphal receptions of Santa Ana, who had just returned from
Tampico after a victory, and with the preparations for his expedition
against the Texans. "Viva Santa Ana!" was the by-word everywhere,
and it had even reached California, though there were still many
here, among whom was Don Juan Bandini, who were opposed to his
government, and intriguing to bring in Bustamente. Santa Ana,
they said, was for breaking down the missions; or, as they termed
it--"Santa Ana no quiere religion." Yet I had no doubt that the
office of administrador of San Diego would reconcile Don Juan to
any dynasty, and any state of the church. In these papers, too,
I found scraps of American and English news; but which were so
unconnected, and I was so ignorant of everything preceding them
for eighteen months past, that they only awakened a curiosity which
they could not satisfy. One article spoke of Taney as Justicia
Mayor de los Estados Unidos, (what had become of Marshall? was he
dead, or banished?) and another made known, by news received from
Vera Cruz, that "El Vizconde Melbourne" had returned to the office
of "primer ministro," in place of Sir Roberto Peel. (Sir Robert
Peel had been minister, then? and where were Earl Grey and the Duke
of Wellington?) Here were the outlines of a grand parliamentary
overturn, the filling up of which I could imagine at my leisure.

The second morning after leaving Monterey, we were off Point Conception.
It was a bright, sunny day, and the wind, though strong, was fair;
and everything was in striking contrast with our experience in the
same place two months before, when we were drifting off from a
northwester under a fore and main spencer. "Sail ho!" cried a
man who was rigging out a top-gallant studding-sail boom.--"Where
away?"--"Weather beam, sir!" and in a few minutes a full-rigged
brig was seen standing out from under Point Conception. The
studding-sail halyards were let go, and the yards boom-ended,
the after yards braced aback, and we waited her coming down.
She rounded to, backed her main topsail, and showed her decks
full of men, four guns on a side, hammock nettings, and everything
man-of-war fashion, except that there was no boatswain's whistle,
and no uniforms on the quarter-deck. A short, square-built man,
in a rough grey jacket, with a speaking-trumpet in hand, stood in
the weather hammock nettings. "Ship ahoy!"--"Hallo!"-- "What ship
is that, pray?"--"Alert."--"Where are you from, pray?" etc., etc.
She proved to be the brig Convoy, from the Sandwich Islands,
engaged in otter hunting, among the islands which lie along
the coast. Her armament was from her being an illegal trader.
The otter are very numerous among these islands, and being of
great value, the government require a heavy sum for a license to
hunt them, and lay a high duty upon every one shot or carried out
of the country. This vessel had no license, and paid no duty,
besides being engaged in smuggling goods on board other vessels
trading on the coast, and belonging to the same owners in Oahu.
Our captain told him to look out for the Mexicans, but he said
they had not an armed vessel of his size in the whole Pacific.
This was without doubt the same vessel that showed herself off
Santa Barbara a few months before. These vessels frequently
remain on the coast for years, without making port, except at
the islands for wood and water, and an occasional visit to Oahu
for a new outfit.

Sunday, January 10th. Arrived at Santa Barbara, and on the
following Wednesday, slipped our cable and went to sea, on account
of a south-easter. Returned to our anchorage the next day. We were
the only vessel in the port. The Pilgrim had passed through the
Canal and hove-to off the town, nearly six weeks before, on her
passage down from Monterey, and was now at the leeward. She heard
here of our safe arrival at San Francisco.

Great preparations were making on shore for the marriage of our
agent, who was to marry Donna Anneta De G----- De N----- y C-----,
youngest daughter of Don Antonio N-----, the grandee of the place,
and the head of the first family in California. Our steward was
ashore three days, making pastry and cake, and some of the best
of our stores were sent off with him. On the day appointed for
the wedding, we took the captain ashore in the gig, and had orders
to come for him at night, with leave to go up to the house and see
the fandango. Returning on board, we found preparations making for
a salute. Our guns were loaded and run out, men appointed to each,
cartridges served out, matches lighted, and all the flags ready to
be run up. I took my place at the starboard after gun, and we all
waited for the signal from on shore. At ten o'clock the bride went up
with her sister to the confessional, dressed in deep black. Nearly an
hour intervened, when the great doors of the mission church opened,
the bells rang out a loud, discordant peal, the private signal for
us was run up by the captain ashore, the bride, dressed in complete
white, came out of the church with the bridegroom, followed by
a long procession. Just as she stepped from the church door,
a small white cloud issued from the bows of our ship, which was
full in sight, the loud report echoed among the surrounding hills
and over the bay, and instantly the ship was dressed in flags
and pennants from stem to stern. Twenty-three guns followed in
regular succession, with an interval of fifteen seconds between
each when the cloud cleared away, and the ship lay dressed in her
colors, all day. At sun-down, another salute of the same number
of guns was fired, and all the flags run down. This we thought
was pretty well--a gun every fifteen seconds--for a merchantman
with only four guns and a dozen or twenty men.

After supper, the gig's crew were called, and we rowed ashore,
dressed in our uniform, beached the boat, and went up to the
fandango. The bride's father's house was the principal one in the
place, with a large court in front, upon which a tent was built,
capable of containing several hundred people. As we drew near,
we heard the accustomed sound of violins and guitars, and saw
a great motion of the people within. Going in, we found nearly
all the people of the town--men, women, and children--collected
and crowded together, leaving barely room for the dancers; for on
these occasions no invitations are given, but every one is expected
to come, though there is always a private entertainment within the
house for particular friends. The old women sat down in rows,
clapping their hands to the music, and applauding the young ones.
The music was lively, and among the tunes, we recognized several
of our popular airs, which we, without doubt, have taken from
the Spanish. In the dancing, I was much disappointed. The women
stood upright, with their hands down by their sides, their eyes
fixed upon the ground before them, and slided about without any
perceptible means of motion; for their feet were invisible, the hem
of their dresses forming a perfect circle about them, reaching to the
ground. They looked as grave as though they were going through some
religious ceremony, their faces as little excited as their limbs;
and on the whole, instead of the spirited, fascinating Spanish
dances which I had expected, I found the Californian fandango,
on the part of the women at least, a lifeless affair. The men
did better. They danced with grace and spirit, moving in circles
round their nearly stationary partners, and showing their figures
to great advantage.

A great deal was said about our friend Don Juan Bandini, and when he
did appear, which was toward the close of the evening, he certainly
gave us the most graceful dancing that I had ever seen. He was
dressed in white pantaloons neatly made, a short jacket of dark
silk, gaily figured, white stockings and thin morocco slippers
upon his very small feet. His slight and graceful figure was
well calculated for dancing, and he moved about with the grace
and daintiness of a young fawn. An occasional touch of the
toe to the ground, seemed all that was necessary to give him a
long interval of motion in the air. At the same time he was not
fantastic or flourishing, but appeared to be rather repressing a
strong tendency to motion. He was loudly applauded, and danced
frequently toward the close of the evening. After the supper,
the waltzing began, which was confined to a very few of the "gente
de razón," and was considered a high accomplishment, and a mark of
aristocracy. Here, too, Don Juan figured greatly, waltzing with the
sister of the bride, (Donna Angustia, a handsome woman and a general
favorite,) in a variety of beautiful, but, to me, offensive figures,
which lasted as much as half an hour, no one else taking the floor.
They were repeatedly and loudly applauded, the old men and women
jumping out of their seats in admiration, and the young people
waving their hats and handkerchiefs. Indeed among people of the
character of these Mexicans, the waltz seemed to me to have found
its right place. The great amusement of the evening,--which
I suppose was owing to its being carnival--was the breaking of
eggs filled with cologne, or other essences, upon the heads of
the company. One end of the egg is broken and the inside taken
out, then it is partly filled with cologne, and the whole sealed
up. The women bring a great number of these secretly about them,
and the amusement is to break one upon the head of a gentleman
when his back is turned. He is bound in gallantry to find out
the lady and return the compliment, though it must not be done
if the person sees you. A tall, stately Don, with immense grey
whiskers, and a look of great importance, was standing before me,
when I felt a light hand on my shoulder, and turning round, saw Donna
Angustia, (whom we all knew, as she had been up to Monterey, and down
again, in the Alert,) with her finger upon her lip, motioning me
gently aside. I stepped back a little, when she went up behind
the Don, and with one hand knocked off his huge sombrero, and at
the same instant, with the other, broke the egg upon his head,
and springing behind me, was out of sight in a moment. The Don
turned slowly round, the cologne, running down his face, and over
his clothes, and a loud laugh breaking out from every quarter.
He looked round in vain, for some time, until the direction of
so many laughing eyes showed him the fair offender. She was his
niece, and a great favorite with him, so old Don Domingo had to
join in the laugh. A great many such tricks were played, and many
a war of sharp manoeuvering was carried on between couples of the
younger people, and at every successful exploit a general laugh
was raised.

Another singular custom I was for some time at a loss about.
A pretty young girl was dancing, named, after what would appear to
us the sacrilegious custom of the country--Espiritu Santo, when a
young man went behind her and placed his hat directly upon her
head, letting it fall down over her eyes, and sprang back among
the crowd. She danced for some time with the hat on, when she
threw it off, which called forth a general shout; and the young
man was obliged to go out upon the floor and pick it up. Some of
the ladies, upon whose heads hats had been placed, threw them off
at once, and a few kept them on throughout the dance, and took
them off at the end, and held them out in their hands, when the
owner stepped out, bowed, and took it from them. I soon began
to suspect the meaning of the thing, and was afterward told that
it was a compliment, and an offer to become the lady's gallant
for the rest of the evening, and to wait upon her home. If the
hat was thrown off, the offer was refused, and the gentleman was
obliged to pick up his hat amid a general laugh. Much amusement
was caused sometimes by gentlemen putting hats on the ladies' heads,
without permitting them to see whom it was done by. This obliged
them to throw them off, or keep them on at a venture, and when they
came to discover the owner, the laugh was often turned upon them.
The captain sent for us about ten o'clock, and we went aboard in
high spirits, having enjoyed the new scene much, and were of great
importance among the crew, from having so much to tell, and from the
prospect of going every night until it was over; for these fandangos
generally last three days. The next day, two of us were sent up to
the town, and took care to come back by way of Capitan Noriego's
and take a look into the booth. The musicians were still there,
upon their platform, scraping and twanging away, and a few people,
apparently of the lower classes, were dancing. The dancing is kept
up, at intervals, throughout the day, but the crowd, the spirit,
and the élite, come in at night. The next night, which was the last,
we went ashore in the same manner, until we got almost tired of the
monotonous twang of the instruments, the drawling sounds which the
women kept up, as an accompaniment, and the slapping of the hands
in time with the music, in place of castanets. We found ourselves
as great objects of attention as any persons or anything at the
place. Our sailor dresses--and we took great pains to have them
neat and shipshape--were much admired, and we were invited, from
every quarter, to give them an American sailor's dance; but after
the ridiculous figure some of our countrymen cut, in dancing after
the Spaniards, we thought it best to leave it to their imaginations.
Our agent, with a tight, black, swallow-tailed coat, just imported
from Boston, a high stiff cravat, looking as if he had been pinned
and skewered, with only his feet and hands left free, took the
floor just after Bandini; and we thought they had had enough of
Yankee grace.

The last night they kept it up in great style, and were getting
into a high-go, when the captain called us off to go aboard,
for, it being south-easter season, he was afraid to remain on
shore long; and it was well he did not, for that very night,
we slipped our cables, as a crowner to our fun ashore, and stood
off before a south-easter, which lasted twelve hours, and returned
to our anchorage the next day.


Monday, Feb. 1st. After having been in port twenty-one days,
we sailed for San Pedro, where we arrived on the following day,
having gone "all fluking," with the weather clew of the mainsail
hauled up, the yards braced in a little, and the lower studding-sails
just drawing; the wind hardly shifting a point during the passage.
Here we found the Ayacucho and the Pilgrim, which last we had not
seen since the 11th of September,--nearly five months; and I really
felt something like an affection for the old brig which had been my
first home, and in which I had spent nearly a year, and got the
first rough and tumble of a sea life. She, too, was associated,
in my mind with Boston, the wharf from which we sailed, anchorage
in the stream, leave-taking, and all such matters, which were now
to me like small links connecting me with another world, which I
had once been in, and which, please God, I might yet see again.
I went on board the first night, after supper; found the old
cook in the galley, playing upon the fife which I had given him,
as a parting present; had a hearty shake of the hand from him;
and dove down into the forecastle, where were my old ship-mates,
the same as ever, glad to see me; for they had nearly given us up
as lost, especially when they did not find us in Santa Barbara.
They had been at San Diego last, had been lying at San Pedro
nearly a month, and had received three thousand hides from the
pueblo. These were taken from her the next day, which filled
us up, and we both got under weigh on the 4th, she bound up to
San Francisco again, and we to San Diego, where we arrived on
the 6th.

We were always glad to see San Diego; it being the depot, and a
snug little place, and seeming quite like home, especially to
me, who had spent a summer there. There was no vessel in port,
the Rosa having sailed for Valparaiso and Cadiz, and the Catalina
for Callao, nearly a month before. We discharged our hides, and in
four days were ready to sail again for the windward; and, to our
great joy--for the last time! Over thirty thousand hides had
been already collected, cured, and stowed away in the house,
which, together with what we should collect, and the Pilgrim
would bring down from San Francisco, would make out her cargo.
The thought that we were actually going up for the last time,
and that the next time we went round San Diego point it would
be "homeward bound," brought things so near a close, that we
felt as though we were just there, though it must still be the
greater part of a year before we could see Boston.

I spent one evening, as had been my custom, at the oven with the
Sandwich Islanders; but it was far from being the usual noisy,
laughing time. It has been said, that the greatest curse to each
of the South Sea islands, was the first man who discovered it;
and every one who knows anything of the history of our commerce
in those parts, knows how much truth there is in this; and that
the white men, with their vices, have brought in diseases before
unknown to the islanders, and which are now sweeping off the native
population of the Sandwich Islands, at the rate of one fortieth of
the entire population annually. They seem to be a doomed people.
The curse of a people calling themselves Christian, seems to follow
them everywhere; and even here, in this obscure place, lay two
young islanders, whom I had left strong, active young men, in the
vigor of health, wasting away under a disease, which they would
never have known but for their intercourse with Christianized Mexico
and people from Christian America. One of them was not so ill; and
was moving about, smoking his pipe, and talking, and trying to keep
up his spirits; but the other, who was my friend, and Aikane--Hope,
was the most dreadful object I had ever seen in my life: his eyes
sunken and dead, his cheeks fallen in against his teeth, his hands
looking like claws; a dreadful cough, which seemed to rack his whole
shattered system, a hollow whispering voice, and an entire inability
to move himself. There he lay, upon a mat, on the ground, which was
the only floor of the oven, with no medicine, no comforts, and no
one to care for, or help him, but a few Kanakas, who were willing
enough, but could do nothing. The sight of him made me sick,
and faint. Poor fellow! During the four months that I lived
upon the beach, we were continually together, both in work, and
in our excursions in the woods, and upon the water. I really
felt a strong affection for him, and preferred him to any of my
own countrymen there; and I believe there was nothing which he
would not have done for me. When I came into the oven he looked
at me, held out his hand, and said, in a low voice, but with a
delightful smile, "Aloha, Aikane! Aloha nui!" I comforted him
as well as I could, and promised to ask the captain to help him
from the medicine-chest, and told him I had no doubt the captain
would do what he could for him, as he had worked in our employ for
several years, both on shore and aboard our vessels on the coast.
I went aboard and turned into my hammock, but I could not sleep.

Thinking, from my education, that I must have some knowledge of
medicine, the Kanakas had insisted upon my examining him carefully;
and it was not a sight to be forgotten. One of our crew, an old
man-of-war's man, of twenty years' standing, who had seen sin
and suffering in every shape, and whom I afterwards took to
see Hope, said it was dreadfully worse than anything he had
ever seen, or even dreamed of. He was horror-struck, as his
countenance showed; yet he had been among the worst cases in
our naval hospitals. I could not get the thought of the poor
fellow out of my head all night; his horrible suffering, and his
apparently inevitable, horrible end.

The next day I told the captain of Hope's state, and asked him
if he would be so kind as to go and see him.

"What? a d----d Kanaka?"

"Yes, sir," said I; "but he has worked four years for our vessels,
and has been in the employ of our owners, both on shore and aboard."

"Oh! he be d----d!" said the captain, and walked off.

This same man died afterwards of a fever on the deadly coast of
Sumatra; and God grant he had better care taken of him in his
sufferings, than he ever gave to any one else! Finding nothing
was to be got from the captain, I consulted an old shipmate, who
had much experience in these matters, and got from him a recipe,
which he always kept by him. With this I went to the mate, and told
him the case. Mr. Brown had been entrusted with the general care of
the medicine-chest, and although a driving fellow, and a taught hand
in a watch, he had good feelings, and was always inclined to be kind
to the sick. He said that Hope was not strictly one of the crew,
but as he was in our employ when taken sick, he should have the
medicines; and he got them and gave them to me, with leave to go
ashore at night. Nothing could exceed the delight of the Kanakas,
when I came bringing the medicines. All their terms of affection
and gratitude were spent upon me, and in a sense wasted, (for I
could not understand half of them,) yet they made all known by
their manner. Poor Hope was so much revived at the bare thought
of anything's being done for him, that he was already stronger
and better. I knew he must die as he was, and he could but die
under the medicines, and any chance was worth running. An oven,
exposed to every wind and change of weather, is no place to take
calomel; but nothing else would do, and strong remedies must be
used, or he was gone. The applications, internal and external,
were powerful, and I gave him strict directions to keep warm
and sheltered, telling him it was his only chance for life.
Twice, after this, I visited him, having only time to run up,
while waiting in the boat. He promised to take his medicines
regularly until we returned, and insisted upon it that he was
doing better.

We got under weigh on the 10th, bound up to San Pedro, and had
three days of calm and head winds, making but little progress.
On the fourth, we took a stiff south-easter, which obliged us
to reef our topsails. While on the yard, we saw a sail on the
weather bow, and in about half an hour, passed the Ayacucho,
under double-reefed topsails, beating down to San Diego.
Arrived at San Pedro on the fourth day, and came-to in the old
place, a league from shore, with no other vessel in port, and the
prospect of three weeks, or more, of dull life, rolling goods up
a slippery hill, carrying hides on our heads over sharp stones,
and, perhaps, slipping for a south-easter.

There was but one man in the only house here, and him I shall
always remember as a good specimen of a California ranger.
He had been a tailor in Philadelphia, and getting intemperate
and in debt, he joined a trapping party and went to the Columbia
river, and thence down to Monterey, where he spent everything,
left his party, and came to the Pueblo de los Angelos, to work
at his trade. Here he went dead to leeward among the pulperias,
gambling rooms, etc., and came down to San Pedro, to be moral by
being out of temptation. He had been in the house several weeks,
working hard at his trade, upon orders which he had brought with him,
and talked much of his resolution, and opened his heart to us about
his past life. After we had been here some time, he started off
one morning, in fine spirits, well dressed, to carry the clothes
which he had been making to the pueblo, and saying he would bring
back his money and some fresh orders the next day. The next day
came, and a week passed, and nearly a fortnight, when, one day,
going ashore, we saw a tall man, who looked like our friend the
tailor, getting out of the back of an Indian's cart, which had
just come down from the pueblo. He stood for the house, but we bore
up after him; when finding that we were overhauling him, he hove-to
and spoke us. Such a sight I never saw before. Barefooted, with an
old pair of trowsers tied round his waist by a piece of green hide,
a soiled cotton shirt, and a torn Indian hat; "cleaned out," to the
last reál, and completely "used up." He confessed the whole matter;
acknowledged that he was on his back; and now he had a prospect of a
fit of the horrors for a week, and of being worse than useless for
months. This is a specimen of the life of half of the Americans
and English who are adrift over the whole of California. One of
the same stamp was Russell, who was master of the hide-house
at San Diego, while I was there, and afterwards turned away
for his misconduct. He spent his own money and nearly all
the stores among the half-bloods upon the beach, and being
turned away, went up to the Presidio, where he lived the life
of a desperate "loafer," until some rascally deed sent him off
"between two days," with men on horseback, dogs, and Indians in
full cry after him, among the hills. One night, he burst into our
room at the hide-house, breathless, pale as a ghost, covered with
mud, and torn by thorns and briers, nearly naked, and begged for
a crust of bread, saying he had neither eaten nor slept for three
days. Here was the great Mr. Russell, who a month before was "Don
Tomàs," "Capitán de la playa," "Maéstro de la casa," etc., etc.,
begging food and shelter of Kanakas and sailors. He staid with
us till he gave himself up, and was dragged off to the calabozo.

Another, and a more amusing specimen, was one whom we saw at San
Francisco. He had been a lad on board the ship California, in one
of her first voyages, and ran away and commenced Ranchéro, gambling,
stealing horses, etc. He worked along up to San Francisco, and was
living on a rancho near there, while we were in port. One morning,
when we went ashore in the boat, we found him at the landing-place,
dressed in California style,--a wide hat, faded velveteen trowsers,
and a blanket cloak thrown over his shoulders--and wishing to go off
in the boat, saying he was going to paseár with our captain a little.
We had many doubts of the reception he would meet with; but he
seemed to think himself company for any one. We took him aboard,
landed him at the gangway, and went about our work, keeping an eye
upon the quarter-deck, where the captain was walking. The lad
went up to him with the most complete assurance, and raising his
hat, wished him a good afternoon. Captain T----- turned round,
looked at him from head to foot, and saying coolly, "Hallo! who
the h--- are you?" kept on his walk. This was a rebuff not to
be mistaken, and the joke passed about among the crew by winks
and signs, at different parts of the ship. Finding himself
disappointed at headquarters, he edged along forward to the mate,
who was overseeing some work on the forecastle, and tried to begin
a yarn; but it would not do. The mate had seen the reception he
had met with aft, and would have no cast-off company. The second
mate was aloft, and the third mate and myself were painting the
quarter-boat, which hung by the davits, so he betook himself to
us; but we looked at one another, and the officer was too busy
to say a word. From us, he went to one and another of the crew,
but the joke had got before him, and he found everybody busy and
silent. Looking over the rail a few moments afterward, we saw him
at the galley-door talking to the cook. This was a great comedown,
from the highest seat in the synagogue to a seat in the galley with
the black cook. At night, too, when supper was called, he stood in
the waist for some time, hoping to be asked down with the officers,
but they went below, one after another, and left him. His next
chance was with the carpenter and sail-maker, and he lounged round
the after hatchway until the last had gone down. We had now had
fun enough out of him, and taking pity on him, offered him a pot
of tea, and a cut at the kid, with the rest, in the forecastle.
He was hungry, and it was growing dark, and he began to see that
there was no use in playing the caballero any longer, and came
down into the forecastle, put into the "grub" in sailor's style,
threw off all his airs, and enjoyed the joke as much as any one;
for a man must take a joke among sailors. He gave us the whole
account of his adventures in the country,--roguery and all--and
was very entertaining. He was a smart, unprincipled fellow, was at
the bottom of most of the rascally doings of the country, and gave
us a great deal of interesting information in the ways of the world
we were in.

Saturday, Feb. 13th. Were called up at midnight to slip for
a violent north-easter, for this rascally hole of San Pedro is
unsafe in every wind but a south-wester, which is seldom known
to blow more than once in a half century. We went off with a
flowing sheet, and hove-to under the lee of Catalina island,
where we lay three days, and then returned to our anchorage.

Tuesday, Feb. 23d. This afternoon, a signal was made from the
shore, and we went off in the gig, and found the agent's clerk,
who had been up to the pueblo, waiting at the landing-place, with a
package under his arm, covered with brown papers and tied carefully
with twine. No sooner had we shoved off than he told us there was
good news from Santa Barbara. "What's that?" said one of the crew;
"has the bloody agent slipped off the hooks? Has the old bundle of
bones got him at last?"--"No; better than that. The California
has arrived." Letters, papers, news, and, perhaps,--friends, on
board! Our hearts were all up in our mouths, and we pulled away
like good fellows; for the precious packet could not be opened
except by the captain. As we pulled under the stern, the clerk
held up the package, and called out to the mate, who was leaning
over the taffrail, that the California had arrived.

"Hurrah!" said the mate, so as to be heard fore and aft;
"California come, and news from Boston!"

Instantly there was a confusion on board which no one could account
for who has not been in the same situation. All discipline seemed
for a moment relaxed.

"What's that, Mr. Brown?" said the cook, putting his head out of
the galley--"California come?"

"Aye, aye! you angel of darkness, and there's a letter for you
from Bullknop 'treet, number two-two-five--green door and brass

The packet was sent down into the cabin, and every one waited
to hear of the result. As nothing came up, the officers began
to feel that they were acting rather a child's part, and turned
the crew to again and the same strict discipline was restored,
which prohibits speech between man and man, while at work on
deck; so that, when the steward came forward with letters for
the crew, each man took his letters, carried them below to his
chest, and came up again immediately; and not a letter was read
until we had cleared up decks for the night.

An overstrained sense of manliness is the characteristic of
seafaring men, or, rather, of life on board ship. This often
gives an appearance of want of feeling, and even of cruelty.
From this, if a man comes within an ace of breaking his neck
and escapes, it is made a joke of; and no notice must be taken
of a bruise or cut; and any expression of pity, or any show of
attention, would look sisterly, and unbecoming a man who has to
face the rough and tumble of such a life. From this, too, the sick
are neglected at sea, and whatever sailors may be ashore, a sick
man finds little sympathy or attention, forward or aft. A man, too,
can have nothing peculiar or sacred on board ship; for all the nicer
feelings they take pride in disregarding, both in themselves and
others. A thin-skinned man could not live an hour on ship-board.
One would be torn raw unless he had the hide of an ox. A moment of
natural feeling for home and friends, and then the frigid routine
of sea-life returned. Jokes were made upon those who showed any
interest in the expected news, and everything near and dear was
made common stock for rude jokes and unfeeling coarseness, to which
no exception could be taken by any one.

Supper, too, must be eaten before the letters were read; and when,
at last, they were brought out, they all got round any one who had
a letter, and expected to have it read aloud, and have it all in
common. If any one went by himself to read, it was--"Fair play,
there; and no skulking!" I took mine and went into the sailmaker's
berth, where I could read it without interruption. It was dated
August, just a year from the time I had sailed from home; and every
one was well, and no great change had taken place. Thus, for one
year, my mind was set at ease, yet it was already six months from
the date of the letter, and what another year would bring to pass,
who could tell? Every one away from home thinks that some great
thing must have happened, while to those at home there seems to
be a continued monotony and lack of incident.

As much as my feelings were taken up by my own intelligence
from home, I could not but be amused by a scene in the steerage.
The carpenter had been married just before leaving Boston, and
during the voyage had talked much about his wife, and had to bear
and forbear, as every man, known to be married, must, aboard ship;
yet the certainty of hearing from his wife by the first ship, seemed
to keep up his spirits. The California came, the packet was brought
on board; no one was in higher spirits than he; but when the letters
came forward, there was none for him. The captain looked again,
but there was no mistake. Poor "Chips," could eat no supper.
He was completely down in the mouth. "Sails" (the sailmaker)
tried to comfort him, and told him he was a bloody fool to give
up his grub for any woman's daughter, and reminded him that he
had told him a dozen times that he'd never see or hear from his
wife again.

"Ah!" said "Chips," "you don't know what it is to have a wife, and"--

"Don't I?" said Sails; and then came, for the hundredth time, the story
of his coming ashore at New York, from the Constellation frigate,
after a cruise of four years round the Horn,--being paid off with
over five hundred dollars,--marrying, and taking a couple of rooms
in a four-story house,--furnishing the rooms, (with a particular
account of the furniture, including a dozen flag-bottomed chairs,
which he always dilated upon, whenever the subject of furniture was
alluded to,)--going off to sea again, leaving his wife half-pay,
like a fool,--coming home and finding her "off, like Bob's horse,
with nobody to pay the reckoning;" furniture gone,--flag-bottomed
chairs and all;--and with it, his "long togs," the half-pay,
his beaver hat, white linen shirts, and everything else. His wife
he never saw, or heard of, from that day to this, and never wished
to. Then followed a sweeping assertion, not much to the credit of
the sex, if true, though he has Pope to back him. "Come, Chips,
cheer up like a man, and take some hot grub! Don't be made a fool
of by anything in petticoats! As for your wife, you'll never see
her again; she was 'up keeleg and off' before you were outside of
Cape Cod. You hove your money away like a fool; but every man
must learn once, just as I did; so you'd better square the yards
with her, and make the best of it."

This was the best consolation "Sails" had to offer, but it did not
seem to be just the thing the carpenter wanted; for, during several
days, he was very much dejected, and bore with difficulty the jokes
of the sailors, and with still more difficulty their attempts at
advice and consolation, of most of which the sailmaker's was a
good specimen.

Thursday, Feb. 25th. Set sail for Santa Barbara, where we arrived
on Sunday, the 28th. We just missed of seeing the California, for she
had sailed three days before, bound to Monterey, to enter her cargo and
procure her license, and thence to San Francisco, etc. Captain Arthur
left files of Boston papers for Captain T-----, which, after they had
been read and talked over in the cabin, I procured from my friend
the third mate. One file was of all the Boston Transcripts for
the month of August, 1835, and the rest were about a dozen Daily
Advertisers and Couriers, of different dates. After all, there is
nothing in a strange land like a newspaper from home. Even a letter,
in many respects, is nothing, in comparison with it. It carries you
back to the spot, better than anything else. It is almost equal to
clairvoyance. The names of the streets, with the things advertised,
are almost as good as seeing the signs; and while reading "Boy lost!"
one can almost hear the bell and well-known voice of "Old Wilson,"
crying the boy as "strayed, stolen, or mislaid!" Then there was
the Commencement at Cambridge, and the full account of the
exercises at the graduating of my own class. A list of all
those familiar names, (beginning as usual with Abbot, and ending
with W., ) which, as I read them over, one by one, brought up their
faces and characters as I had known them in the various scenes of
college life. Then I imagined them upon the stage, speaking their
orations, dissertations, colloquies, etc., with the gestures and
tones of each, and tried to fancy the manner in which each would
handle his subject, *****, handsome, showy, and superficial; *****,
with his strong head, clear brain, cool self-possession; *****,
modest, sensitive, and underrated; *****, the mouth-piece of the
debating clubs, noisy, vaporous, and democratic; and so following.
Then I could see them receiving their A. Bs. from the dignified,
feudal-looking President, with his "auctoritate mihi commissâ,"
and walking off the stage with their diplomas in their hands;
while upon the very same day, their classmate was walking up
and down California beach with a hide upon his head.

Every watch below, for a week, I pored over these papers, until I was
sure there could be nothing in them that had escaped my attention,
and was ashamed to keep them any longer.

Saturday, March 5th. This was an important day in our almanac,
for it was on this day that we were first assured that our voyage
was really drawing to a close. The captain gave orders to have
the ship ready for getting under weigh; and observed that there
was a good breeze to take us down to San Pedro. Then we were not
going up to windward. Thus much was certain, and was soon known,
fore and aft; and when we went in the gig to take him off, he shook
hands with the people on the beach, and said that he never expected
to see Santa Barbara again. This settled the matter, and sent a
thrill of pleasure through the heart of every one in the boat.
We pulled off with a will, saying to ourselves (I can speak for
myself at least)--"Good-by, Santa Barbara!--This is the last pull
here--No more duckings in your breakers, and slipping from your
cursed south-easters!" The news was soon known aboard, and put
life into everything when we were getting under weigh. Each one
was taking his last look at the mission, the town, the breakers
on the beach, and swearing that no money would make him ship to
see them again; and when all hands tallied on to the cat-fall,
the chorus of "Time for us to go!" was raised for the first time,
and joined in, with full swing, by everybody. One would have thought
we were on our voyage home, so near did it seem to us, though there
were yet three months for us on the coast.

We left here the young Englishman, George Marsh, of whom I have
before spoken, who was wrecked upon the Pelew Islands. He left us
to take the berth of second mate on board the Ayacucho, which was
lying in port. He was well qualified for this, and his education
would enable him to rise to any situation on board ship. I felt
really sorry to part from him. There was something about him which
excited my curiosity; for I could not, for a moment, doubt that he
was well born, and, in early life, well bred. There was the latent
gentleman about him, and the sense of honor, and no little of the
pride, of a young man of good family. The situation was offered
him only a few hours before we sailed; and though he must give up
returning to America, yet I have no doubt that the change from a
dog's berth to an officer's, was too agreeable to his feelings to
be declined. We pulled him on board the Ayacucho, and when he left
the boat he gave each of its crew a piece of money, except myself,
and shook hands with me, nodding his head, as much as to say,--"We
understand one another," and sprang on board. Had I known, an hour
sooner, that he was to leave us, I would have made an effort to get
from him the true history of his early life. He knew that I had
no faith in the story which he told the crew, and perhaps, in the
moment of parting from me, probably forever, he would have given me
the true account. Whether I shall ever meet him again, or whether
his manuscript narrative of his adventures in the Pelew Islands,
which would be creditable to him and interesting to the world,
will ever see the light, I cannot tell. His is one of those cases
which are more numerous than those suppose, who have never lived
anywhere but in their own homes, and never walked but in one line
from their cradles to their graves. We must come down from our
heights, and leave our straight paths, for the byways and low
places of life, if we would learn truths by strong contrasts;
and in hovels, in forecastles, and among our own outcasts in
foreign lands, see what has been wrought upon our fellow-creatures
by accident, hardship, or vice.

Two days brought us to San Pedro, and two days more (to our
no small joy) gave us our last view of that place, which was
universally called the hell of California, and seemed designed,
in every way, for the wear and tear of sailors. Not even the last
view could bring out one feeling of regret. No thanks, thought I,
as we left the sandy shores in the distance, for the hours I have
walked over your stones, barefooted, with hides on my head;--for
the burdens I have carried up your steep, muddy hill; for the
duckings in your surf; and for the long days and longer nights
passed on your desolate hill, watching piles of hides, hearing
the sharp bark of your eternal coati, and the dismal hooting of
your owls.

As I bade good-by to each successive place, I felt as though one
link after another were struck from the chain of my servitude.
Having kept close in shore, for the land-breeze, we passed the
mission of San Juan Campestráno the same night, and saw distinctly,
by the bright moonlight, the hill which I had gone down by a pair of
halyards in search of a few paltry hides. "Forsan et haec olim,"
thought I, and took my last look of that place too. And on the
next morning we were under the high point of San Diego. The flood
tide took us swiftly in, and we came-to, opposite our hide-house,
and prepared to get everything in trim for a long stay. This was
our last port. Here we were to discharge everything from the ship,
clean her out, smoke her, take in our hides, wood, water, etc.,
and set sail for Boston. While all this was doing, we were to
lie still in one place, and the port was a safe one, and there
was no fear of south-easters. Accordingly, having picked out
a good berth, in the stream, with a good smooth beach opposite,
for a landing-place and within two cables' length of our hide-house,
we moored ship, unbent all the sails, sent down the top-gallant
yards and all the studding-sail booms, and housed the top-gallant
masts. The boats were then hove out, and all the sails, spare spars,
the stores, the rigging not rove, and, in fact, everything which
was not in daily use, sent ashore, and stowed away in the house.
Then went all our hides and horns, and we left hardly anything
in the ship but her ballast, and this we made preparation to
heave out, the next day. At night, after we had knocked off,
and were sitting round in the forecastle, smoking and talking
and taking sailor's pleasure, we congratulated ourselves upon
being in that situation in which we had wished ourselves every
time we had come into San Diego. "If we were only here for the
last time," we had often said, "with our top-gallant masts housed
and our sails unbent!"--and now we had our wish. Six weeks, or
two months, of the hardest work we had yet seen, was before us,
and then--"Good-by to California!"


We turned-in early, knowing that we might expect an early call;
and sure enough, before the stars had quite faded, "All hands ahoy!"
and we were turned-to, heaving out ballast. A regulation of the port
forbids any ballast to be thrown overboard; accordingly, our long-boat
was lined inside with rough boards and brought alongside the gangway,
but where one tub-full went into the boat, twenty went overboard.
This is done by every vessel, for the ballast can make but little
difference in the channel, and it saves more than a week of labor,
which would be spent in loading the boats, rowing them to the point,
and unloading them. When any people from the Presidio were on
board, the boat was hauled up and ballast thrown in; but when the
coast was clear, she was dropped astern again, and the ballast
fell overboard. This is one of those petty frauds which every
vessel practises in ports of inferior foreign nations, and which
are lost sight of, among the countless deeds of greater weight
which are hardly less common. Fortunately a sailor, not being a
free agent in work aboard ship, is not accountable; yet the fact
of being constantly employed, without thought, in such things,
begets an indifference to the rights of others.

Friday, and a part of Saturday, we were engaged in this work,
until we had thrown out all but what we wanted under our cargo
on the passage home; when, as the next day was Sunday, and a
good day for smoking ship, we cleared everything out of the
cabin and forecastle, made a slow fire of charcoal, birch bark,
brimstone, and other matters, on the ballast in the bottom of
the hold, calked up the hatches and every open seam, and pasted
over the cracks of the windows, and the slides of the scuttles,
and companionway. Wherever smoke was seen coming out, we calked
and pasted, and, so far as we could, made the ship smoke tight.
The captain and officers slept under the awning which was spread
over the quarter-deck; and we stowed ourselves away under an old
studding-sail, which we drew over one side of the forecastle.
The next day, from fear that something might happen, orders were
given for no one to leave the ship, and, as the decks were lumbered
up with everything, we could not wash them down, so we had nothing
to do, all day long. Unfortunately, our books were where we could not
get at them, and we were turning about for something to do, when one
man recollected a book he had left in the galley. He went after
it, and it proved to be Woodstock. This was a great windfall,
and as all could not read it at once, I, being the scholar of
the company, was appointed reader. I got a knot of six or eight
about me, and no one could have had a more attentive audience.
Some laughed at the "scholars," and went over the other side
of the forecastle, to work, and spin their yarns; but I carried
the day, and had the cream of the crew for my hearers. Many of
the reflections, and the political parts, I omitted, but all the
narrative they were delighted with; especially the descriptions
of the Puritans, and the sermons and harangues of the Round-head
soldiers. The gallantry of Charles, Dr. Radcliffe's plots,
the knavery of "trusty Tompkins,"--in fact, every part seemed to
chain their attention. Many things which, while I was reading,
I had a misgiving about, thinking them above their capacity, I was
surprised to find them enter into completely.

I read nearly all day, until sundown; when, as soon as supper was
over, as I had nearly finished, they got a light from the galley;
and by skipping what was less interesting, I carried them through
to the marriage of Everard, and the restoration of Charles the
Second, before eight o'clock.

The next morning, we took the battens from the hatches, and opened
the ship. A few stifled rats were found; and what bugs, cockroaches,
fleas, and other vermin, there might have been on board, must have
unrove their life-lines before the hatches were opened. The ship
being now ready, we covered the bottom of the hold over, fore and
aft, with dried brush for dunnage, and having levelled everything
away, we were ready to take in our cargo. All the hides that had
been collected since the California left the coast, (a little more
than two years,) amounting to about forty thousand, were cured,
dried, and stowed away in the house, waiting for our good ship
to take them to Boston.

Now began the operation of taking in our cargo, which kept us hard
at work, from the grey of the morning till star-light, for six weeks,
with the exception of Sundays, and of just time to swallow our meals.
To carry the work on quicker, a division of labor was made. Two men
threw the hides down from the piles in the house, two more picked
them up and put them on a long horizontal pole, raised a few feet
from the ground, where they were beaten, by two more, with flails,
somewhat like those used in threshing wheat. When beaten, they were
taken from this pole by two more, and placed upon a platform
of boards; and ten or a dozen men, with their trowsers rolled
up, were constantly going, back and forth, from the platform to
the boat, which was kept off where she would just float, with the
hides upon their heads. The throwing the hides upon the pole was
the most difficult work, and required a sleight of hand which was
only to be got by long practice. As I was known for a hide-curer,
this post was assigned to me, and I continued at it for six or
eight days, tossing, in that time, from eight to ten thousand hides,
until my wrists became so lame that I gave in; and was transferred
to the gang that was employed in filling the boats, where I remained
for the rest of the time. As we were obliged to carry the hides
on our heads from fear of their getting wet, we each had a piece
of sheepskin sewed into the inside of our hats, with the wool next
to our heads, and thus were able to bear the weight, day after day,
which would otherwise have soon worn off our hair, and borne hard upon
our skulls. Upon the whole, ours was the best berth; for though the
water was nipping cold, early in the morning and late at night,
and being so continually wet was rather an exposure, yet we got
rid of the constant dust and dirt from the beating of the hides,
and being all of us young and hearty, did not mind the exposure.
The older men of the crew, whom it would have been dangerous to
have kept in the water, remained on board with the mate, to stow
the hides away, as fast as they were brought off by the boats.

We continued at work in this manner until the lower hold was filled
to within four feet of the beams, when all hands were called aboard
to commence steeving. As this is a peculiar operation, it will
require a minute description.

Before stowing the hides, as I have said, the ballast is levelled
off, just above the keelson, and then loose dunnage placed upon it,
on which the hides rest. The greatest care is used in stowing, to make
the ship hold as many hides as possible. It is no mean art, and a man
skilled in it is an important character in California. Many a dispute
have I heard raging high between professed "beach-combers," as to
whether the hides should be stowed "shingling," or "back-to-back,
and flipper-to-flipper;" upon which point there was an entire and
bitter division of sentiment among the savans. We adopted each
method at different periods of the stowing, and parties ran high
in the forecastle, some siding with "old Bill" in favor of the
former, and others scouting him, and relying upon "English Bob"
of the Ayacucho, who had been eight years in California, and was
willing to risk his life and limb for the latter method. At length
a compromise was effected, and a middle course, of shifting the ends
and backs at every lay, was adopted, which worked well, and which,
though they held it inferior to their own, each party granted was
better than that of the other.

Having filled the ship up, in this way, to within four feet of
her beams, the process of steeving commenced, by which an hundred
hides are got into a place where one could not be forced by hand,
and which presses the hides to the utmost, sometimes starting the
beams of the ship, resembling in its effects the jack-screws which
are used in stowing cotton. Each morning we went ashore, and beat
and brought off as many hides as we could steeve in the course of
the day, and, after breakfast, went down into the hold, where we
remained at work until night. The whole length of the hold, from
stem to stern, was floored off level, and we began with raising
a pile in the after part, hard against the bulkhead of the run,
and filling it up to the beams, crowding in as many as we could
by hand and pushing in with oars; when a large "book" was made
of from twenty-five to fifty hides, doubled at the backs, and put
into one another, like the leaves of a book. An opening was then
made between two hides in the pile, and the back of the outside
hide of the book inserted. Two long, heavy spars, called steeves,
made of the strongest wood, and sharpened off like a wedge at
one end, were placed with their wedge ends into the inside of
the hide which was the centre of the book, and to the other end
of each, straps were fitted, into which large tackles were hooked,
composed each of two huge purchase blocks, one hooked to the strap
on the end of the steeve, and the other into a dog, fastened into
one of the beams, as far aft as it could be got. When this was
arranged, and the ways greased upon which the book was to slide,
the falls of the tackles were stretched forward, and all hands
tallied on, and bowsed away until the book was well entered;
when these tackles were nippered, straps and toggles clapped
upon the falls, and two more luff tackles hooked on, with dogs,
in the same manner; and thus, by luff upon luff, the power was
multiplied, until into a pile in which one hide more could not
be crowded by hand, an hundred or an hundred and fifty were often
driven in by this complication of purchases. When the last luff
was hooked on, all hands were called to the rope--cook, steward,
and all--and ranging ourselves at the falls, one behind the other,
sitting down on the hides, with our heads just even with the beams,
we set taught upon the tackles, and striking up a song, and all
lying back at the chorus, we bowsed the tackles home, and drove
the large books chock in out of sight.

The sailor's songs for capstans and falls are of a peculiar kind,
having a chorus at the end of each line. The burden is usually
sung, by one alone, and, at the chorus, all hands join in,--and
the louder the noise, the better. With us, the chorus seemed
almost to raise the decks of the ship, and might be heard at
a great distance, ashore. A song is as necessary to sailors
as the drum and fife to a soldier. They can't pull in time,
or pull with a will, without it. Many a time, when a thing
goes heavy, with one fellow yo-ho-ing, a lively song, like "Heave,
to the girls!" "Nancy oh!" "Jack Cross-tree," etc., has put life
and strength into every arm. We often found a great difference in
the effect of the different songs in driving in the hides. Two or
three songs would be tried, one after the other; with no effect;--not
an inch could be got upon the tackles--when a new song, struck up,
seemed to hit the humor of the moment, and drove the tackles "two
blocks" at once. "Heave round hearty!" "Captain gone ashore!" and
the like, might do for common pulls, but in an emergency, when we
wanted a heavy, "raise-the-dead" pull, which should start the beams
of the ship, there was nothing like "Time for us to go!" "Round
the corner," or "Hurrah! hurrah! my hearty bullies!"

This was the most lively part of our work. A little boating and
beach work in the morning; then twenty or thirty men down in a
close hold, where we were obliged to sit down and slide about,
passing hides, and rowsing about the great steeves, tackles,
and dogs, singing out at the falls, and seeing the ship filling up
every day. The work was as hard as it could well be. There was
not a moment's cessation from Monday morning till Saturday night,
when we were generally beaten out, and glad to have a full night's
rest, a wash and shift of clothes, and a quiet Sunday. During all
this time,--which would have startled Dr. Graham--we lived upon
almost nothing but fresh beef; fried beefsteaks, three times a
day,--morning, noon, and night. At morning and night we had a
quart of tea to each man; and an allowance of about a pound of
hard bread a day; but our chief article of food was the beef.
A mess, consisting of six men, had a large wooden kid piled up
with beefsteaks, cut thick, and fried in fat, with the grease
poured over them. Round this we sat, attacking it with our
jack-knives and teeth, and with the appetite of young lions,
and sent back an empty kid to the galley. This was done three
times a day. How many pounds each man ate in a day, I will not
attempt to compute. A whole bullock (we ate liver and all) lasted
us but four days. Such devouring of flesh, I will venture to say,
was seldom known before. What one man ate in a day, over a hearty
man's allowance, would make a Russian's heart leap into his mouth.
Indeed, during all the time we were upon the coast, our principal
food was fresh beef, and every man had perfect health; but this
was a time of especial devouring; and what we should have done
without meat, I cannot tell. Once or twice, when our bullocks
failed and we were obliged to make a meal upon dry bread and
water, it seemed like feeding upon shavings. Light and dry,
feeling unsatisfied, and, at the same time, full, we were glad
to see four quarters of a bullock, just killed, swinging from
the fore-top. Whatever theories may be started by sedentary
men, certainly no men could have gone through more hard work and
exposure for sixteen months in more perfect health, and without
ailings and failings, than our ship's crew, let them have lived
upon Hygeia's own baking and dressing.

Friday, April 15th. Arrived, brig Pilgrim, from the windward.
It was a sad sight for her crew to see us getting ready to go off
the coast, while they, who had been longer on the coast than the
Alert, were condemned to another year's hard service. I spent an
evening on board, and found them making the best of the matter,
and determined to rough it out as they might; but my friend S-----
was determined to go home in the ship, if money or interest could
bring it to pass. After considerable negotiating and working,
he succeeded in persuading my English friend, Tom Harris,--my
companion in the anchor watch--for thirty dollars, some clothes,
and an intimation from Captain Faucon that he should want a second
mate before the voyage was up, to take his place in the brig as
soon as she was ready to go up to windward.

The first opportunity I could get to speak to Captain Faucon,
I asked him to step up to the oven and look at Hope, whom he
knew well, having had him on board his vessel. He went to
see him, but said that he had so little medicine, and expected
to be so long on the coast, that he could do nothing for him,
but that Captain Arthur would take care of him when he came down
in the California, which would be in a week or more. I had been
to see Hope the first night after we got into San Diego this last
time, and had frequently since spent the early part of a night in
the oven. I hardly expected, when I left him to go to windward,
to find him alive upon my return. He was certainly as low as he
could well be when I left him, and what would be the effect of the
medicines that I gave him, I hardly then dared to conjecture.
Yet I knew that he must die without them. I was not a little
rejoiced, therefore, and relieved, upon our return, to see him
decidedly better. The medicines were strong, and took hold and
gave a check to the disorder which was destroying him; and, more
than that, they had begun the work of exterminating it. I shall
never forget the gratitude that he expressed. All the Kanakas
attributed his escape solely to my knowledge, and would not be
persuaded that I had not all the secrets of the physical system
open to me and under my control. My medicines, however, were gone,
and no more could be got from the ship, so that his life was left
to hang upon the arrival of the California.

Sunday, April 24th. We had now been nearly seven weeks in San Diego,
and had taken in the greater part of our cargo, and were looking out,
every day, for the arrival of the California, which had our agent
on board; when, this afternoon, some Kanakas, who had been over
the hill for rabbits and to fight rattlesnakes, came running down
the path, singing out, "Kail ho!" with all their might. Mr. H.,
our third mate, was ashore, and asking them particularly about
the size of the sail, etc., and learning that it was "Moku--Nui
Moku," hailed our ship, and said that the California was on the
other side of the point. Instantly, all hands were turned up,
the bow guns run out and loaded, the ensign and broad pennant set,
the yards squared by lifts and braces, and everything got ready to
make a good appearance. The instant she showed her nose round
the point, we began our salute. She came in under top-gallant
sails, clewed up and furled her sails in good order, and came-to,
within good swinging distance of us. It being Sunday, and nothing
to do, all hands were on the forecastle, criticising the new-comer.
She was a good, substantial ship, not quite so long as the Alert,
and wall-sided and kettle-bottomed, after the latest fashion of
south-shore cotton and sugar wagons; strong, too, and tight, and a
good average sailor, but with no pretensions to beauty, and nothing
in the style of a "crack ship." Upon the whole, we were perfectly
satisfied that the Alert might hold up her head with a ship twice
as smart as she.

At night, some of us got a boat and went on board, and found
a large, roomy forecastle, (for she was squarer forward than
the Alert,) and a crew of a dozen or fifteen men and boys,
sitting around on their chests, smoking and talking, and ready
to give a welcome to any of our ship's company. It was just
seven months since they left Boston, which seemed but yesterday
to us. Accordingly, we had much to ask, for though we had seen
the newspapers that she brought, yet these were the very men who
had been in Boston and seen everything with their own eyes. One of
the green-hands was a Boston boy, from one of the public schools,
and, of course, knew many things which we wished to ask about, and
on inquiring the names of our two Boston boys, found that they had
been schoolmates of his. Our men had hundreds of questions to ask
about Ann street, the boarding-houses, the ships in port, the rate
of wages, and other matters.

Among her crew were two English man-of-war's-men, so that, of course,
we soon had music. They sang in the true sailor's style, and the
rest of the crew, which was a remarkably musical one, joined in the
choruses. They had many of the latest sailor songs, which had not
yet got about among our merchantmen, and which they were very choice
of. They began soon after we came on board, and kept it up until
after two bells, when the second mate came forward and called "the
Alerts away!" Battle-songs, drinking-songs, boat-songs, love-songs,
and everything else, they seemed to have a complete assortment of,
and I was glad to find that "All in the Downs," "Poor Tom Bowline,"
"The Bay of Biscay," "List, ye Landsmen!" and all those classical
songs of the sea, still held their places. In addition to these,
they had picked up at the theatres and other places a few songs of
a little more genteel cast, which they were very proud of; and I
shall never forget hearing an old salt, who had broken his voice
by hard drinking on shore, and bellowing from the mast-head in a
hundred northwesters, with all manner of ungovernable trills and
quavers in the high notes, breaking into a rough falsetto--and in
the low ones, growling along like the dying away of the boatswain's
"all hands ahoy!" down the hatch-way, singing, "Oh, no, we never
mention him."

"Perhaps, like me, he struggles with
Each feeling of regret;
But if he's loved as I have loved,
He never can forget!"

The last line, being the conclusion, he roared out at the top of
his voice, breaking each word up into half a dozen syllables.
This was very popular, and Jack was called upon every night to
give them his "sentimental song." No one called for it more
loudly than I, for the complete absurdity of the execution,
and the sailors' perfect satisfaction in it, were ludicrous
beyond measure.

The next day, the California commenced unloading her cargo; and
her boats' crews, in coming and going, sang their boat-songs,
keeping time with their oars. This they did all day long for
several days, until their hides were all discharged, when a gang
of them were sent on board the Alert, to help us steeve our hides.
This was a windfall for us, for they had a set of new songs for the
capstan and fall, and ours had got nearly worn out by six weeks'
constant use. I have no doubt that this timely reinforcement of
songs hastened our work several days.

Our cargo was now nearly all taken in; and my old friend, the Pilgrim,
having completed her discharge, unmoored, to set sail the next morning
on another long trip to windward. I was just thinking of her hard
lot, and congratulating myself upon my escape from her, when I
received a summons into the cabin. I went aft, and there found,
seated round the cabin table, my own captain, Captain Faucon of
the Pilgrim, and Mr. R-----, the agent. Captain T----- turned
to me and asked abruptly--

"D-----, do you want to go home in the ship?"

"Certainly, sir," said I; "I expect to go home in the ship."

"Then," said he, "you must get some one to go in your place on
board the Pilgrim."

I was so completely "taken aback" by this sudden intimation, that for
a moment I could make no reply. I knew that it would be hopeless to
attempt to prevail upon any of the ship's crew to take twelve months
more upon the California in the brig. I knew, too, that Captain
T----- had received orders to bring me home in the Alert, and he
had told me, when I was at the hide-house, that I was to go home
in her; and even if this had not been so, it was cruel to give me
no notice of the step they were going to take, until a few hours
before the brig would sail. As soon as I had got my wits about me,
I put on a bold front, and told him plainly that I had a letter in
my chest informing me that he had been written to, by the owners
in Boston, to bring me home in the ship, and moreover, that he
had told me that I was to go in the ship.

To have this told him, and to be opposed in such a manner, was more
than my lord paramount had been used to.

He turned fiercely upon me, and tried to look me down, and face me
out of my statement; but finding that that wouldn't do, and that I
was entering upon my defence in such a way as would show to the other
two that he was in the wrong,--he changed his ground, and pointed
to the shipping papers of the Pilgrim, from which my name had never
been erased, and said that there was my name,--that I belonged to
her,--that he had an absolute discretionary power,--and, in short,
that I must be on board the Pilgrim by the next morning with my chest
and hammock, or have some one ready to go in my place, and that he
would not hear another word from me. No court or star chamber could
proceed more summarily with a poor devil, than this trio was about
to do with me; condemning me to a punishment worse than a Botany
Bay exile, and to a fate which would alter the whole current of
my future life; for two years more in California would have made
me a sailor for the rest of my days. I felt all this, and saw
the necessity of being determined. I repeated what I had said,
and insisted upon my right to return in the ship.

I "raised my arm, and tauld my crack,
Before them a'."

But it would have all availed me nothing, had I been "some poor
body," before this absolute, domineering tribunal. But they saw
that I would not go, unless "vi et armis," and they knew that I
had friends and interest enough at home to make them suffer for
any injustice they might do me. It was probably this that turned
the matter; for the captain changed his tone entirely, and asked
me if, in case any one went in my place, I would give him the same
sum that S----- gave Harris to exchange with him. I told him that
if any one was sent on board the brig, I should pity him, and be
willing to help him to that, or almost any amount; but would not
speak of it as an exchange.

"Very well," said he. "Go forward about your business, and send
English Ben here to me!"

I went forward with a light heart, but feeling as angry, and as
much contempt as I could well contain between my teeth. English Ben
was sent aft, and in a few moments came forward, looking as though
he had received his sentence to be hung. The captain had told him
to get his things ready to go on board the brig the next morning;
and that I would give him thirty dollars and a suit of clothes.
The hands had "knocked off" for dinner, and were standing about the
forecastle, when Ben came forward and told his story. I could see
plainly that it made a great excitement, and that, unless I explained
the matter to them, the feeling would be turned against me. Ben was a
poor English boy, a stranger in Boston, and without friends or money;
and being an active, willing lad, and a good sailor for his years,

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