Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

Two Years Before the Mast by Richard Henry Dana

Part 6 out of 8

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 1.0 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

was a general favorite. "Oh, yes!" said the crew, "the captain
has let you off, because you are a gentleman's son, and have got
friends, and know the owners; and taken Ben, because he is poor,
and has got nobody to say a word for him!" I knew that this was too
true to be answered, but I excused myself from any blame, and told
them that I had a right to go home, at all events. This pacified
them a little, but Jack had got a notion that a poor lad was to be
imposed upon, and did not distinguish very clearly; and though I
knew that I was in no fault, and, in fact, had barely escaped the
grossest injustice, yet I felt that my berth was getting to be a
disagreeable one. The notion that I was not "one of them," which,
by a participation in all their labor and hardships, and having no
favor shown me, had been laid asleep, was beginning to revive.
But far stronger than any feeling for myself, was the pity I felt
for the poor lad. He had depended upon going home in the ship;
and from Boston, was going immediately to Liverpool, to see his
friends. Beside this, having begun the voyage with very few clothes,
he had taken up the greater part of his wages in the slop-chest,
and it was every day a losing concern to him; and, like all the
rest of the crew, he had a hearty hatred of California, and the
prospect of eighteen months or two years more of hide-droghing
seemed completely to break down his spirit. I had determined
not to go myself, happen what would, and I knew that the captain
would not dare to attempt to force me. I knew, too, that the two
captains had agreed together to get some one, and that unless I
could prevail upon somebody to go voluntarily, there would be no
help for Ben. From this consideration, though I had said that I
would have nothing to do with an exchange, I did my best to get
some one to go voluntarily. I offered to give an order upon the
owners in Boston for six months' wages, and also all the clothes,
books, and other matters, which I should not want upon the voyage
home. When this offer was published in the ship, and the case of
poor Ben was set forth in strong colors, several, who would not
have dreamed of going themselves, were busy in talking it up to
others, who, they thought, might be tempted to accept it; and,
at length, one fellow, a harum-scarum lad, whom we called Harry
Bluff, and who did not care what country or ship he was in, if he
had clothes enough and money enough--partly from pity for Ben,
and partly from the thought he should have "cruising money" for
the rest of his stay,--came forward, and offered to go and "sling
his hammock in the bloody hooker." Lest his purpose should cool,
I signed an order for the sum upon the owners in Boston, gave him
all the clothes I could spare, and sent him aft to the captain,
to let him know what had been done. The skipper accepted the
exchange, and was, doubtless, glad to have it pass off so easily.
At the same time he cashed the order, which was endorsed to him,(1)

1. When the crew were paid off in Boston, the owners answered
the order, but generously refused to deduct the amount from the
pay-roll, saying that the exchange was made under compulsion.
They also allowed S----- his exchange money.

and the next morning, the lad went aboard the brig, apparently in
good spirits, having shaken hands with each of us and wished us a
pleasant passage home, jingling the money in his pockets, and calling
out, "Never say die, while there's a shot in the locker." The same
boat carried off Harris, my old watchmate, who had previously made
an exchange with my friend S-----.

I was sorry to part with Harris. Nearly two hundred hours (as we
had calculated it) had we walked the ship's deck together, at anchor
watch, when all hands were below, and talked over and over every
subject which came within the ken of either of us. He gave me a
strong gripe with his hand; and I told him, if he came to Boston
again, not to fail to find me out, and let me see an old watchmate.
The same boat brought on board S-----, my friend, who had begun
the voyage with me from Boston, and, like me, was going back to
his family and to the society which we had been born and brought
up in. We congratulated one another upon finding what we had
long talked over and wished for, thus brought about; and none on
board the ship were more glad than ourselves to see the old brig
standing round the point, under full sail. As she passed abreast
of us, we all collected in the waist, and gave her three loud,
hearty cheers, waving our hats in the air. Her crew sprang
into the rigging and chains, answered us with three as loud,
to which we, after the nautical custom, gave one in return.
I took my last look of their familiar faces as they got over the
rail, and saw the old black cook put his head out of the galley,
and wave his cap over his head. The crew flew aloft to loose the
top-gallant sails and royals; the two captains waved their hands
to one another; and, in ten minutes, we saw the last inch of her
white canvas, as she rounded the point.

Relieved as I was to see her well off, (and I felt like one who had
just sprung from an iron trap which was closing upon him) I had yet a
feeling of regret at taking the last look at the old craft in which I
had spent a year, and the first year, of my sailor's life--which had
been my first home in the new world into which I had entered--and
with which I had associated so many things,--my first leaving home,
my first crossing the equator, Cape Horn, Juan Fernandez, death at
sea, and other things, serious and common. Yet, with all this,
and the feeling I had for my old shipmates, condemned to another
term of California life, the thought that we were done with it,
and that one week more would see us on our way to Boston, was a
cure for everything.

Friday, May 6th, completed the taking of our cargo, and was a
memorable day in our calendar. The time when we were to take
in our last hide, we had looked forward to, for sixteen months,
as the first bright spot. When the last hide was stowed away,
and the hatches calked down, the tarpaulins battened on to them,
the long-boat hoisted in and secured, and the decks swept down for
the night,--the chief mate sprang upon the top of the long-boat,
called all hands into the waist, and giving us a signal by swinging
his cap over his head,--we gave three long, loud cheers, which came
from the bottom of our hearts, and made the hills and valleys
ring again. In a moment, we heard three, in answer, from the
California's crew, who had seen us taking in our long-boat,
and--"the cry they heard--its meaning knew."

The last week, we had been occupied in taking in a supply of
wood and water for the passage home, and bringing on board the
spare spars, sails, etc. I was sent off with a party of Indians
to fill the water-casks, at a spring, about three miles from the
shipping, and near the town, and was absent three days, living at the
town, and spending the daytime in filling the casks and transporting
them on ox-carts to the landing-place, whence they were taken on
board by the crew with boats. This being all done with, we gave
one day to bending our sails; and at night, every sail, from the
courses to the skysails, was bent, and every studding-sail ready
for setting.

Before our sailing, an unsuccessful attempt was made by one of
the crew of the California to effect an exchange with one of our
number. It was a lad, between fifteen and sixteen years of age,
who went by the name of the "reefer," having been a midshipman in
an East India Company's ship. His singular character and story
had excited our interest ever since the ship came into the port.
He was a delicate, slender little fellow, with a beautiful pearly
complexion, regular features, forehead as white as marble, black
haired, curling beautifully, rounded, tapering, delicate fingers,
small feet, soft voice, gentle manners, and, in fact, every sign
of having been well born and bred. At the same time there was
something in his expression which showed a slight deficiency of
intellect. How great the deficiency was, or what it resulted from;
whether he was born so; whether it was the result of disease or
accident; or whether, as some said, it was brought on by his
distress of mind, during the voyage, I cannot say. From his own
account of himself, and from many circumstances which were known
in connection with his story, he must have been the son of a man
of wealth. His mother was an Italian woman. He was probably a
natural son, for in scarcely any other way could the incidents
of his early life be accounted for. He said that his parents did
not live together, and he seemed to have been ill treated by his
father. Though he had been delicately brought up, and indulged
in every way, (and he had then with him trinkets which had been
given him at home,) yet his education had been sadly neglected;
and when only twelve years old, he was sent as midshipman in the
Company's service. His own story was, that he afterwards ran
away from home, upon a difficulty which he had with his father,
and went to Liverpool, whence he sailed in the ship Rialto,
Captain Holmes, for Boston. Captain Holmes endeavored to get
him a passage back, but there being no vessel to sail for some
time, the boy left him, and went to board at a common sailor's
boarding-house, in Ann street, where he supported himself for a
few weeks by selling some of his valuables. At length, according
to his own account, being desirous of returning home, he went to
a shipping-office, where the shipping articles of the California
were open. Upon asking where the ship was going, he was told by
the shipping-master that she was bound to California. Not knowing
where that was, he told him that he wanted to go to Europe, and
asked if California was in Europe. The shipping-master answered
him in a way which the boy did not understand, and advised him to
ship. The boy signed the articles, received his advance, laid out
a little of it in clothes, and spent the rest, and was ready to
go on board, when, upon the morning of sailing, he heard that the
ship was bound upon the North-west Coast, on a two or three years'
voyage, and was not going to Europe. Frightened at this prospect,
he slipped away when the crew was going aboard, wandered up into
another part of the town, and spent all the forenoon in straying
about the common, and the neighboring streets.

Having no money, and all his clothes and other things being in
the chest, on board, and being a stranger, he became tired and
hungry, and ventured down toward the shipping, to see if the vessel
had sailed. He was just turning the corner of a street, when the
shipping-master, who had been in search of him, popped upon him,
seized him, and carried him on board. He cried and struggled,
and said he did not wish to go in the ship, but the topsails
were at the mast-head, the fasts just ready to be cast off, and
everything in the hurry and confusion of departure, so that he was
hardly noticed; and the few who did inquire about the matter were
told that it was merely a boy who had spent his advance and tried
to run away. Had the owners of the vessel known anything of the
matter, they would have interfered at once; but they either knew
nothing of it, or heard, like the rest, that it was only an unruly
boy who was sick of his bargain. As soon as the boy found himself
actually at sea, and upon a voyage of two or three years in length,
his spirits failed him; he refused to work, and became so miserable,
that Captain Arthur took him into the cabin, where he assisted
the steward, and occasionally pulled and hauled about decks.
He was in this capacity when we saw him; and though it was
much better for him than the life in the forecastle, and the
hard work, watching, and exposure, which his delicate frame could
not have borne, yet, to be joined with a black fellow in waiting
upon a man whom he probably looked upon as but little, in point
of education and manners, above one of his father's servants, was
almost too much for his spirit to bear. Had he entered upon his
situation of his own free will, he could have endured it; but to
have been deceived, and, in addition to that, forced into it,
was intolerable. He made every effort to go home in our ship,
but his captain refused to part with him except in the way of
exchange, and that he could not effect. If this account of the
whole matter, which we had from the boy, and which was confirmed
by all the crew, be correct, I cannot understand why Captain Arthur
should have refused to let him go, especially being a captain who
had the name, not only with that crew, but with all whom he had
ever commanded, of an unusually kind-hearted man.

The truth is, the unlimited power which merchant captains have, upon
long voyages on strange coasts, takes away a sense of responsibility,
and too often, even in men otherwise well-disposed, substitutes
a disregard for the rights and feelings of others. The lad was
sent on shore to join the gang at the hide-house; from whence,
I was afterwards rejoiced to hear, he effected his escape, and
went down to Callao in a small Spanish schooner; and from Callao,
he probably returned to England.

Soon after the arrival of the California, I spoke to Captain Arthur
about Hope; and as he had known him on the voyage before, and was
very fond of him, he immediately went to see him, gave him proper
medicines, and, under such care, he began rapidly to recover. The
Saturday night before our sailing, I spent an hour in the oven,
and took leave of my Kanaka friends; and, really, this was the
only thing connected with leaving California which was in any
way unpleasant. I felt an interest and affection for many of
these simple, true-hearted men, such as I never felt before
but for a near relation. Hope shook me by the hand, said he
should soon be well again, and ready to work for me when I came
upon the coast, next voyage, as officer of the ship; and told me
not to forget, when I became captain, how to be kind to the sick.
Old "Mr. Bingham" and "King Mannini" went down to the boat with me,
shook me heartily by the hand, wished us a good voyage, and went back
to the oven, chanting one of their deep monotonous songs, the burden
of which I gathered to be about us and our voyage.

Sunday, May 8th. This promised to be our last day in California.

Our forty thousand hides, thirty thousand horns, besides several
barrels of otter and beaver skins, were all stowed below, and the
hatches calked down. All our spare spars were taken on board and
lashed; our water-casks secured; and our live stock, consisting
of four bullocks, a dozen sheep, a dozen or more pigs, and three
or four dozen of poultry, were all stowed away in their different
quarters: the bullocks in the long-boat, the sheep in a pen on the
fore-hatch, and the pigs in a sty under the bows of the long-boat,
and the poultry in their proper coop; and the jolly-boat was full
of hay for the sheep and bullocks. Our unusually large cargo,
together with the stores for a five months' voyage, brought the
ship channels down into the water. In addition to this, she had
been steeved so thoroughly, and was so bound by the compression of
her cargo, forced into her by so powerful machinery, that she was
like a man in a straight-jacket, and would be but a dull sailer,
until she had worked herself loose.

The California had finished discharging her cargo, and was to get
under weigh at the same time with us. Having washed down decks and
got our breakfast, the two vessels lay side by side, in complete
readiness for sea, our ensigns hanging from the peaks, and our
tall spars reflected from the glassy surface of the river, which,
since sunrise, had been unbroken by a ripple. At length, a few
whiffs came across the water, and, by eleven o'clock, the regular
north-west wind set steadily in. There was no need of calling
all hands, for we had all been hanging about the forecastle the
whole forenoon, and were ready for a start upon the first sign
of a breeze.

All eyes were aft upon the captain, who was walking the deck,
with, every now and then, a look to windward. He made a sign
to the mate, who came forward, took his station, deliberately
between the knight-heads, cast a glance aloft, and called out,
"All hands, lay aloft and loose the sails!" We were half in the
rigging before the order came, and never since we left Boston
were the gaskets off the yards, and the rigging overhauled, in a
shorter time. "All ready forward, sir!"--"All ready the main!"--
"Cross-jack yards all ready, sir!"--"Lay down, all hands but one
on each yard!" The yard-arm and bunt gaskets were cast off; and
each sail hung by the jigger, with one man standing by the tie to
let it go. At the same moment that we sprang aloft, a dozen hands
sprang into the rigging of the California, and in an instant were
all over her yards; and her sails, too, were ready to be dropped at
the word. In the mean time our bow gun had been loaded and run out,
and its discharge was to be the signal for dropping sails. A cloud
of smoke came out of our bows; the echoes of the gun rattled our
farewell among the hills of California; and the two ships were
covered, from head to foot, with their white canvas. For a few
minutes, all was uproar and apparent confusion: men flying about
like monkeys in the rigging; ropes and blocks flying; orders given
and answered, and the confused noises of men singing out at the
ropes. The top-sails came to the mast-heads with "Cheerily,
men!" and, in a few minutes, every sail was set; for the wind
was light. The head sails were backed, the windlass came round
"slip-slap" to the cry of the sailors;--"Hove short, sir," said
the mate;--"Up with him!"--"Aye, aye, sir."--A few hearty and long
heaves, and the anchor showed its head. "Hook cat!"--The fall was
stretched along the decks; all hands laid hold;--"Hurrah, for the
last time," said the mate; and the anchor came to the cat-head to
the tune of "Time for us to go," with a loud chorus. Everything
was done quick, as though it were for the last time. The head
yards were filled away, and our ship began to move through the
water on her homeward-bound course.

The California had got under weigh at the same moment; and we
sailed down the narrow bay abreast and were just off the mouth,
and finding ourselves gradually shooting ahead of her, were on
the point of giving her three parting cheers, when, suddenly, we
found ourselves stopped short, and the California ranging fast
ahead of us. A bar stretches across the mouth of the harbor,
with water enough to float common vessels, but, being low in
the water, and having kept well to leeward, as we were bound
to the southward, we had stuck fast, while the California,
being light, had floated over.

We kept all sail on, in the hope of forcing over, but failing in
this, we hove aback, and lay waiting for the tide, which was on
the flood, to take us back into the channel. This was somewhat
of a damper to us, and the captain looked not a little mortified
and vexed. "This is the same place where the Rosa got ashore,"
observed the redheaded second mate, most mal-a-propos. A malediction
on the Rosa, and him too, was all the answer he got, and he slunk
off to leeward. In a few minutes, the force of the wind and the
rising of the tide backed us into the stream, and we were on our
way to our old anchoring-place, the tide setting swiftly up, and
the ship barely manageable, in the light breeze. We came-to, in
our old berth, opposite the hide-house, whose inmates were not a
little surprised to see us return. We felt as though we were tied
to California; and some of the crew swore that they never should
get clear of the bloody coast.

In about half an hour, which was near high water, the order was
given to man the windlass, and again the anchor was catted; but not
a word was said about the last time. The California had come back
on finding that we had returned, and was hove-to, waiting for us,
off the point. This time we passed the bar safely, and were soon
up with the California, who filled away, and kept us company.

She seemed desirous of a trial of speed, and our captain accepted
the challenge, although we were loaded down to the bolts of
our chain plates, as deep as a sand-barge, and bound so taught
with our cargo that we were no more fit for a race than a man
in fetters;--while our antagonist was in her best trim. Being
clear of the point, the breeze became stiff, and the royal masts
bent under our sails, but we would not take them in until we saw
three boys spring aloft into the rigging of the California; when
they were all furled at once, but with orders to stay aloft at the
top-gallant mastheads, and loose them again at the word. It was
my duty to furl the fore royal; and while standing by to loose
it again, I had a fine view of the scene. From where I stood,
the two vessels seemed nothing but spars and sails, while their
narrow decks, far below, slanting over by the force of the wind
aloft, appeared hardly capable of supporting the great fabrics
raised upon them. The California was to windward of us, and had
every advantage; yet, while the breeze was stiff, we held our
own. As soon as it began to slacken, she ranged a little ahead,
and the order was given to loose the royals. In an instant the
gaskets were off and the bunt dropped. "Sheet home the fore royal!
--Weather sheet's home!"--"Hoist away, sir!" is bawled from aloft.
"Overhaul your clew-lines!" shouts the mate. "Aye, aye, sir, all
clear!"--"Taught leech! belay! Well the lee brace; haul taught to
windward"--and the royals are set. These brought us up again; but
the wind continuing light, the California set hers, and it was soon
evident that she was walking away from us. Our captain then hailed,
and said that he should keep off to his course; adding--"She isn't
the Alert now. If I had her in your trim, she would have been out
of sight by this time." This was good-naturedly answered from the
California, and she braced sharp up, and stood close upon the wind
up the coast; while we squared away our yards, and stood before the
wind to the south-south-west. The California's crew manned her
weather rigging, waved their hats in the air, and gave up three
hearty cheers, which we answered as heartily, and the customary
single cheer came back to us from over the water. She stood on
her way, doomed to eighteen months' or two years' hard service upon
that hated coast, while we were making our way to our home, to which
every hour and every mile was bringing us nearer.

As soon as we parted company with the California, all hands were
sent aloft to set the studding-sails. Booms were rigged out,
tacks and halyards rove, sail after sail packed upon her, until
every available inch of canvas was spread, that we might not lose a
breath of the fair wind. We could now see how much she was cramped
and deadened by her cargo; for with a good breeze on her quarter,
and every stitch of canvas spread, we could not get more than six
knots out of her. She had no more life in her than if she were
water-logged. The log was hove several times; but she was doing
her best. We had hardly patience with her, but the older sailors
said--"Stand by! you'll see her work herself loose in a week
or two, and then she'll walk up to Cape Horn like a race-horse."

When all sail had been set, and the decks cleared up, the California
was a speck in the horizon, and the coast lay like a low cloud along
the north-east. At sunset they were both out of sight, and we were
once more upon the ocean where sky and water meet.


At eight o'clock all hands were called aft, and the watches set for
the voyage. Some changes were made; but I was glad to find myself
still in the larboard watch. Our crew was somewhat diminished;
for a man and a boy had gone in the Pilgrim; another was second
mate of the Ayacucho; and a third, the oldest man of the crew,
had broken down under the hard work and constant exposure on the
coast, and, having had a stroke of the palsy, was left behind at
the hide-house under the charge of Captain Arthur. The poor fellow
wished very much to come home in the ship; and he ought to have
been brought home in her. But a live dog is better than a dead
lion, and a sick sailor belongs to nobody's mess; so he was sent
ashore with the rest of the lumber, which was only in the way.
By these diminutions, we were short-handed for a voyage round
Cape Horn in the dead of winter. Besides S----- and myself,
there were only five in the forecastle; who, together with four
boys in the steerage, the sailmaker, carpenter, etc., composed the
whole crew. In addition to this, we were only three or four days
out, when the sailmaker, who was the oldest and best seaman on
board, was taken with the palsy, and was useless for the rest of the
voyage. The constant wading in the water, in all weathers, to take
off hides, together with the other labors, is too much for old men,
and for any who have not good constitutions. Beside these two men
of ours, the second officer of the California and the carpenter of
the Pilgrim broke down under the work, and the latter died at Santa
Barbara. The young man, too, who came out with us from Boston in
the Pilgrim, had to be taken from his berth before the mast and
made clerk, on account of a fit of rheumatism which attacked him
soon after he came upon the coast. By the loss of the sailmaker,
our watch was reduced to five, of whom two were boys, who never
steered but in fine weather, so that the other two and myself had
to stand at the wheel four hours apiece out of every twenty-four;
and the other watch had only four helmsmen. "Never mind--we're
homeward bound!" was the answer to everything; and we should not
have minded this, were it not for the thought that we should be
off Cape Horn in the very dead of winter. It was now the first
part of May; and two months would bring us off the cape in July,
which is the worst month in the year there; when the sun rises at
nine and sets at three, giving eighteen hours night, and there is
snow and rain, gales and high seas, in abundance.

The prospect of meeting this in a ship half manned, and loaded
so deep that every heavy sea must wash her fore and aft, was by
no means pleasant. The Alert, in her passage out, doubled the
Cape in the month of February, which is midsummer; and we came
round in the Pilgrim in the latter part of October, which we
thought was bad enough. There was only one of our crew who
had been off there in the winter, and that was in a whaleship,
much lighter and higher than our ship; yet he said they had man-
killing weather for twenty days without intermission, and their
decks were swept twice, and they were all glad enough to see the
last of it. The Brandywine frigate, also, in her passage round,
had sixty days off the Cape, and lost several boats by the heavy
sea. All this was for our comfort; yet pass it we must; and all
hands agreed to make the best of it.

During our watches below we overhauled our clothes, and made and
mended everything for bad weather. Each of us had made for himself
a suit of oil-cloth or tarpaulin, and these we got out, and gave
thorough coatings of oil or tar, and hung upon the stays to dry.

Our stout boots, too, we covered over with a thick mixture
of melted grease and tar, and hung out to dry. Thus we took
advantage of the warm sun and fine weather of the Pacific to
prepare for its other face. In the forenoon watches below,
our forecastle looked like the workshop of what a sailor is,--a
Jack at all trades. Thick stockings and drawers were darned and
patched; mittens dragged from the bottom of the chest and mended;
comforters made for the neck and ears; old flannel shirts cut up
to line monkey jackets; south-westers lined with flannel, and a
pot of paint smuggled forward to give them a coat on the outside;
and everything turned to hand; so that, although two years had
left us but a scanty wardrobe, yet the economy and invention
which necessity teaches a sailor, soon put each of us in pretty
good trim for bad weather, even before we had seen the last of the
fine. Even the cobbler's art was not out of place. Several old
shoes were very decently repaired, and with waxed ends, an awl,
and the top of an old boot, I made me quite a respectable sheath
for my knife.

There was one difficulty, however, which nothing that we could do
would remedy; and that was the leaking of the forecastle, which made
it very uncomfortable in bad weather, and rendered half of the
berths tenantless. The tightest ships, in a long voyage, from the
constant strain which is upon the bowsprit, will leak, more or less,
round the heel of the bowsprit, and the bitts, which come down into
the forecastle; but, in addition to this, we had an unaccountable
leak on the starboard bow, near the cat-head, which drove us
from the forward berths on that side, and, indeed, when she was
on the starboard tack, from all the forward berths. One of the
after berths, too, leaked in very bad weather; so that in a ship
which was in other respects as tight as a bottle, and brought her
cargo to Boston perfectly dry, we had, after every effort made to
prevent it, in the way of caulking and leading, a forecastle with
only three dry berths for seven of us. However, as there is never
but one watch below at a time, by 'turning in and out,' we did
pretty well. And there being, in our watch, but three of us who
lived forward, we generally had a dry berth apiece in bad weather.(1)

1. On removing the cat-head, after the ship arrived at Boston, it was
found that there were two holes under it which had been bored for the
purpose of driving tree-nails, and which, accidentally, had not been
plugged up when the cat-head was placed over them. This was sufficient
to account for the leak, and for our not having been able to discover
and stop it.

All this, however, was but anticipation. We were still in fine
weather in the North Pacific, running down the north-east trades,
which we took on the second day after leaving San Diego.

Sunday, May 15th, one week out, we were in latitude 14 56' N.,
long. 116 14' W., having gone, by reckoning, over thirteen hundred
miles in seven days. In fact, ever since leaving San Diego, we had
had a fair wind, and as much as we wanted of it. For seven days,
our lower and topmast studding-sails were set all the time, and our
royals and top-gallant studding-sails, whenever she could stagger
under them. Indeed, the captain had shown, from the moment we got
to sea, that he was to have no boy's play, but that the ship had
got to carry all she could, and that he was going to make up, by
"cracking on" to her, what she wanted in lightness. In this way,
we frequently made three degrees of latitude, besides something
in longitude, in the course of twenty-four hours.--Our days were
spent in the usual ship's work. The rigging which had become slack
from being long in port was to be set up; breast backstays got up;
studding-sail booms rigged upon the main yard; and the royal studding-
sails got ready for the light trades; ring-tail set; and new rigging
fitted and sails got ready for Cape Horn. For, with a ship's gear,
as well as a sailor's wardrobe, fine weather must be improved to
get ready for the bad to come. Our forenoon watch below, as I
have said, was given to our own work, and our night watches were
spent in the usual manner:--a trick at the wheel, a look-out on
the forecastle, a nap on a coil of rigging under the lee of the
rail; a yarn round the windlass-end; or, as was generally my way,
a solitary walk fore and aft, in the weather waist, between the
windlass-end and the main tack. Every wave that she threw aside
brought us nearer home, and every day's observation at noon showed
a progress which, if it continued, would in less than five months,
take us into Boston Bay. This is the pleasure of life at sea,
--fine weather, day after day, without interruption,--fair wind,
and a plenty of it,--and homeward bound. Every one was in good
humor; things went right; and all was done with a will. At the
dog watch, all hands came on deck, and stood round the weather
side of the forecastle, or sat upon the windlass, and sung sea
songs, and those ballads of pirates and highwaymen, which sailors
delight in. Home, too, and what we should do when we got there,
and when and how we should arrive, was no infrequent topic.
Every night, after the kids and pots were put away, and we had
lighted our pipes and cigars at the galley, and gathered about
the windlass, the first question was,--

"Well, Tom, what was the latitude to-day?"

"Why fourteen, north, and she has been going seven knots ever since."

"Well, this will bring us up to the line in five days."

"Yes, but these trades won't last twenty-four hours longer,"
says an old salt, pointing with the sharp of his hand to leeward,
--"I know that by the look of the clouds."

Then came all manner of calculations and conjectures as to the
continuance of the wind, the weather under the line, the south-east
trades, etc., and rough guesses as to the time the ship would be up
with the Horn; and some, more venturous, gave her so many days
to Boston light, and offered to bet that she would not exceed it.

"You'd better wait till you get round Cape Horn," says an old

"Yes," says another, "you may see Boston, but you've got to
'smell hell' before that good day."

Rumors also of what had been said in the cabin, as usual, found
their way forward. The steward had heard the captain say something
about the straits of Magellan, and the man at the wheel fancied
he had heard him tell the "passenger" that, if he found the wind
ahead and the weather very bad off the Cape, he should stick her
off for New Holland, and come home round the Cape of Good Hope.

This passenger--the first and only one we had had, except to go
from port to port, on the coast, was no one else than a gentleman
whom I had known in my better days; and the last person I should
have expected to have seen on the coast of California--Professor
N-----, of Cambridge. I had left him quietly seated in the chair
of Botany and Ornithology, in Harvard University; and the next I
saw of him, was strolling about San Diego beach, in a sailor's
pea-jacket, with a wide straw hat, and barefooted, with his
trowsers roiled up to his knees, picking up stones and shells.
He had travelled overland to the North-west Coast, and come down
in a small vessel to Monterey. There he learned that there was a
ship at the leeward, about to sail for Boston; and, taking passage
in the Pilgrim, which was then at Monterey, he came slowly down,
visiting the intermediate ports, and examining the trees, plants,
earths, birds, etc., and joined us at San Diego shortly before
we sailed. The second mate of the Pilgrim told me that they had
an old gentleman on board who knew me, and came from the college
that I had been in.

He could not recollect his name, but said he was a "sort of an
oldish man," with white hair, and spent all his time in the bush,
and along the beach, picking up flowers and shells, and such truck,
and had a dozen boxes and barrels, full of them. I thought over
everybody who would be likely to be there, but could fix upon no
one; when, the next day, just as we were about to shove off from
the beach, he came down to the boat, in the rig I have described,
with his shoes in his hand, and his pockets full of specimens.
I knew him at once, though I should not have been more surprised
to have seen the Old South steeple shoot up from the hide-house.
He probably had no less difficulty in recognizing me. As we left
home about the same time, we had nothing to tell one another;
and, owing to our different situations on board, I saw but little
of him on the passage home. Sometimes, when I was at the wheel
of a calm night, and the steering required no attention, and the
officer of the watch was forward, he would come aft and hold a
short yarn with me; but this was against the rules of the ship,
as is, in fact, all intercourse between passengers and the crew.
I was often amused to see the sailors puzzled to know what to make
of him, and to hear their conjectures about him and his business.
They were as much puzzled as our old sailmaker was with the captain's
instruments in the cabin.

He said there were three:--the chro-nometer, the chre-nometer,
and the the-nometer. (Chronometer, barometer, and thermometer.)
The Pilgrim's crew christened Mr. N. "Old Curious," from his zeal
for curiosities, and some of them said that he was crazy, and that
his friends let him go about and amuse himself in this way. Why
else a rich man (sailors call every man rich who does not work
with his hands, and wears a long coat and cravat) should leave a
Christian country, and come to such a place as California, to pick
up shells and stones, they could not understand. One of them,
however, an old salt, who had seen something more of the world
ashore, set all to rights, as he thought,--"Oh, 'vast there!--You
don't know anything about them craft. I've seen them colleges,
and know the ropes. They keep all such things for cur'osities,
and study 'em, and have men a' purpose to go and get 'em. This
old chap knows what he's about. He a'n't the child you take him
for. He'll carry all these things to the college, and if they
are better than any that they have had before, he'll be head of
the college. Then, by-and-by, somebody else will go after some
more, and if they beat him, he'll have to go again, or else give
up his berth. That's the way they do it. This old covey knows
the ropes. He has worked a traverse over 'em, and come 'way out
here, where nobody's ever been afore, and where they'll never
think of coming." This explanation satisfied Jack; and as it
raised Mr. N.'s credit for capacity, and was near enough to
the truth for common purposes, I did not disturb it.

With the exception of Mr. N., we had no one on board but the
regular ship's company, and the live stock. Upon this, we
had made a considerable inroad. We killed one of the bullocks
every four days, so that they did not last us up to the line.
We, or, rather, they, then began upon the sheep and the poultry,
for these never come into Jack's mess.(1) The pigs were left

1. The customs as to the allowance of "grub" are very nearly the
same in all American merchantmen. Whenever a pig is killed, the
sailors have one mess from it. The rest goes to the cabin. The
smaller live stock, poultry, etc., they never taste.

And, indeed, they do not complain of this, for it would take a great
deal to supply them with a good meal, and without the accompaniments,
(which could hardly be furnished to them,) it would not be much better
than salt beef. But even as to the salt beef, they are scarcely dealt
fairly with; for whenever a barrel is opened, before any of the beef
is put into the harness-cask, the steward comes up, and picks it
all over, and takes out the best pieces, (those that have any fat
in them) for the cabin.

This was done in both the vessels I was in, and the men said that it
was usual in other vessels. Indeed, it is made no secret, but some
of the crew are usually called to help in assorting and putting away
the pieces. By this arrangement the hard, dry pieces, which the
sailors call "old horse," come to their share.

There is a singular piece of rhyme, traditional among sailors,
which they say over such pieces of beef. I do not know that
it ever appeared in print before. When seated round the kid,
if a particularly bad piece is found, one of them takes it up,
and addressing it, repeats these lines: "Old horse! old horse!
what brought you here?"

--"From Sacarap to Portland pier
I've carted stone this many a year:
Till, killed by blows and sore abuse,
They salted me down for sailors' use.

The sailors they do me despise:
They turn me over and damn my eyes;
Cut off my meat, and pick my bones,
And pitch the rest to Davy Jones."

There is a story current among seamen, that a beef-dealer was
convicted, at Boston, of having sold old horse for ship's stores,
instead of beef, and had been sentenced to be confined in jail,
until he should eat the whole of it; and that he is now lying
in Boston jail. I have heard this story often, on board other
vessels beside those of our own nation. It is very generally
believed, and is always highly commended, as a fair instance
of retaliatory justice.

for the latter part of the voyage, for they are sailors, and can
stand all weathers. We had an old sow on board, the mother of a
numerous progeny, who had been twice round the Cape of Good Hope,
and once round Cape Horn. The last time going round, was very
nearly her death. We heard her squealing and moaning one dark
night, after it had been snowing and hailing for several hours,
and getting into the sty, we found her nearly frozen to death.
We got some straw, an old sail, and other things, and wrapped her
up in a corner of the sty, where she staid until we got into fine
weather again.

Wednesday, May 18th. Lat. 9 54' N., long. 113 17' W. The north-
east trades had now left us, and we had the usual variable winds,
which prevail near the line, together with some rain. So long as
we were in these latitudes, we had but little rest in our watch on
deck at night, for, as the winds were light and variable, and we
could not lose a breath, we were all the watch bracing the yards,
and taking in and making sail, and "humbugging" with our flying
kites. A little puff of wind on the larboard quarter, and then
--"larboard fore braces!" and studding-booms were rigged out,
studding-sails set alow and aloft, the yards trimmed, and jibs and
spanker in; when it would come as calm as a duck-pond, and the man
at the wheel stand with the palm of his hand up, feeling for the
wind. "Keep her off a little!" "All aback forward, sir!" cries
a man from the forecastle. Down go the braces again; in come
the studding-sails, all in a mess, which half an hour won't set
right; yards braced sharp up; and she's on the starboard tack,
close hauled.

The studding-sails must now be cleared away, and set up in the
tops, and on the booms. By the time this is done, and you are
looking out for a soft plank for a nap,--"Lay aft here, and square
in the head yards!" and the studding-sails are all set again on
the starboard side. So it goes until it is eight bells,--call
the watch,--heave the log,--relieve the wheel, and go below
the larboard watch.

Sunday, May 22d. Lat. 5 14' N., long. 166 45' W. We were now
a fortnight out, and within five degrees of the line, to which two
days of good breeze would take us; but we had, for the most part,
what sailors call "an Irishman's hurricane,--right up and down."

This day it rained nearly all day, and being Sunday, and nothing
to do, we stopped up the scuppers and filled the decks with rain
water, and bringing all our clothes on deck, had a grand wash,
fore and aft. When this was through, we stripped to our drawers,
and taking pieces of soap and strips of canvas for towels,
we turned-to and soaped, washed, and scrubbed one another down,
to get off, as we said, the California dust; for the common wash
in salt water, which is all Jack can get, being on an allowance of
fresh, had little efficacy, and was more for taste than utility.
The captain was below all the afternoon, and we had something
nearer to a Saturnalia than anything we had yet seen; for the
mate came into the scuppers, with a couple of boys to scrub him,
and got into a battle with them in heaving water. By unplugging
the holes, we let the soap-suds off the decks, and in a short time
had a new supply of rain water, in which we had a grand rinsing.
It was surprising to see how much soap and fresh water did for
the complexions of many of us; how much of what we supposed to
be tan and sea-blacking, we got rid of. The next day, the sun
rising clear, the ship was covered, fore and aft, with clothes
of all sorts, hanging out to dry.

As we approached the line, the wind became more easterly, and
the weather clearer, and in twenty days from San Diego,--

Saturday, May 28th, at about three P. M., with a fine breeze from
the east-south-east, we crossed the equator. In twenty-four hours
after crossing the line, which was very unusual, we took the regular
south-east trades. These winds come a little from the eastward of
south-east, and, with us, they blew directly from the east-south-
east, which was fortunate for us, for our course was south-by-west,
and we could thus go one point free. The yards were braced so that
every sail drew, from the spanker to the flying-jib; and the upper
yards being squared in a little, the fore and main top-gallant
studding-sails were set, and just drew handsomely. For twelve
days this breeze blew steadily, not varying a point, and just so
fresh that we could carry our royals; and, during the whole time,
we hardly started a brace. Such progress did we make, that at the
end of seven days from the time we took the breeze, on

Sunday, June 5th, we were in lat. 19 29' S., and long. 118 01' W.,
having made twelve hundred miles in seven days, very nearly
upon a taught bowline. Our good ship was getting to be herself
again, had increased her rate of sailing more than one-third since
leaving San Diego. The crew ceased complaining of her, and the
officers hove the log every two hours with evident satisfaction.
This was glorious sailing. A steady breeze; the light trade-wind
clouds over our heads; the incomparable temperature of the Pacific,
--neither hot nor cold; a clear sun every day, and clear moon and
stars each night; and new constellations rising in the south, and
the familiar ones sinking in the north, as we went on our course,
--"stemming nightly toward the pole." Already we had sunk the north
star and the Great Bear in the northern horizon, and all hands
looked out sharp to the southward for the Magellan Clouds, which,
each succeeding night, we expected to make. "The next time we see
the north star," said one, "we shall be standing to the northward,
the other side of the Horn." This was true enough, and no doubt it
would be a welcome sight; for sailors say that in coming home from
round Cape Horn, and the Cape of Good Hope, the north star is the
first land you make.

These trades were the same that, in the passage out in the Pilgrim,
lasted nearly all the way from Juan Fernandez to the line; blowing
steadily on our starboard quarter for three weeks, without our
starting a brace, or even brailing down the skysails. Though we
had now the same wind, and were in the same latitude with the
Pilgrim on her passage out, yet we were nearly twelve hundred miles
to the westward of her course; for the captain, depending upon the
strong south-west winds which prevail in high southern latitudes
during the winter months, took the full advantage of the trades,
and stood well to the westward, so far that we passed within about
two hundred miles of Ducie's Island.

It was this weather and sailing that brought to my mind a little
incident that occurred on board the Pilgrim, while we were in the
same latitude. We were going along at a great rate, dead before
the wind, with studding-sails out on both sides, alow and aloft,
on a dark night, just after midnight, and everything was as still
as the grave, except the washing of the water by the vessel's side;
for, being before the wind, with a smooth sea, the little brig,
covered with canvas, was doing great business, with very little
noise. The other watch was below, and all our watch, except myself
and the man at the wheel, were asleep under the lee of the boat.
The second mate, who came out before the mast, and was always very
thick with me, had been holding a yarn with me, and just gone aft
to his place on the quarter-deck, and I had resumed my usual
walk to and from the windlass-end, when, suddenly, we heard a
loud scream coming from ahead, apparently directly from under
the bows. The darkness, and complete stillness of the night,
and the solitude of the ocean, gave to the sound a dreadful and
almost supernatural effect. I stood perfectly still, and my heart
beat quick.

The sound woke up the rest of the watch, who stood looking at one
another. "What, in the name of God, is that?" said the second mate,
coming slowly forward. The first thought I had was, that it might
be a boat, with the crew of some wrecked vessel, or perhaps the
boat of some whaleship, out over night, and we had run them down
in the darkness. Another scream, but less loud than the first.
This started us, and we ran forward, and looked over the bows,
and over the sides, to leeward, but nothing was to be seen or
heard. What was to be done. Call the captain, and heave the
ship aback? Just at this moment, in crossing the forecastle,
one of the men saw a light below, and looking down the scuttle,
saw the watch all out of their berths, and afoul of one poor
fellow, dragging him out of his berth, and shaking him, to wake
him out of a nightmare.

They had been waked out of their sleep, and as much alarmed at the
scream as we were, and were hesitating whether to come on deck,
when the second sound, coming directly from one of the berths,
revealed the cause of the alarm. The fellow got a good shaking
for the trouble he had given. We made a joke of the matter and
we could well laugh, for our minds were not a little relieved
by its ridiculous termination.

We were now close upon the southern tropical line, and, with
so fine a breeze, were daily leaving the sun behind us, and drawing
nearer to Cape Horn, for which it behoved us to make every
preparation. Our rigging was all examined and overhauled, and
mended, or replaced with new, where it was necessary: new and
strong bobstays fitted in the place of the chain ones, which were
worn out; the spritsail yard and martingale guys and back-ropes
set well taught; bran new fore and main braces rove; top-gallant
sheets, and wheel-ropes, made of green hide, laid up in the form of
rope, were stretched and fitted; and new top-sail clewlines, etc.,
rove; new fore-topmast back-stays fitted; and other preparations
made, in good season, that the ropes might have time to stretch
and become limber before we got into cold weather.

Sunday, June 12th. Lat. 26 04' S., 116 31' W. We had now lost
the regular trades, and had the winds variable, principally from
the westward, and kept on, in a southerly course, sailing very
nearly upon a meridian, and at the end of the week,

Sunday, June 19th, were in lat. 34 15' S., and long. 116 38' W.


There now began to be a decided change in the appearance of things.
The days became shorter and shorter; the sun running lower in its
course each day, and giving less and less heat; and the nights so
cold as to prevent our sleeping on deck; the Magellan Clouds in
sight, of a clear night; the skies looking cold and angry; and,
at times, a long, heavy, ugly sea, setting in from the southwards
told us what we were coming to. Still, however, we had a fine,
strong breeze, and kept on our way, under as much sail as our
ship would bear. Toward the middle of the week, the wind hauled
to the southward, which brought us upon a taught bowline, made the
ship meet, nearly head on, the heavy swell which rolled from that
direction; and there was something not at all encouraging in the
manner in which she met it. Being so deep and heavy, she wanted
the buoyancy which should have carried her over the seas, and she
dropped heavily into them, the water washing over the decks; and
every now and then, when an unusually large sea met her fairly
upon the bows, she struck it with a sound as dead and heavy as
that with which a sledge-hammer falls upon the pile, and took
the whole of it in upon the forecastle, and rising, carried it
aft in the scuppers, washing the rigging off the pins, and carrying
along with it everything which was loose on deck. She had been
acting in this way all of our forenoon watch below; as we could
tell by the washing of the water over our heads, and the heavy
breaking of the seas against her bows, (with a sound as though
she were striking against a rock,) only the thickness of the
plank from our heads, as we lay in our berths, which are directly
against the bows. At eight bells, the watch was called, and we
came on deck, one hand going aft to take the wheel, and another
going to the galley to get the grub for dinner. I stood on the
forecastle, looking at the seas, which were rolling high, as far
as the eye could reach, their tops white with foam, and the body
of them of a deep indigo blue, reflecting the bright rays of the
sun. Our ship rose slowly over a few of the largest of them,
until one immense fellow came rolling on, threatening to cover
her, and which I was sailor enough to know, by "the feeling of
her" under my feet, she would not rise over. I sprang upon the
knight-heads, and seizing hold of the fore-stay with my hands,
drew myself upon it. My feet were just off the stanchion, when
she struck fairly into the middle of the sea, and it washed her
fore and aft, burying her in the water. As soon as she rose out
of it, I looked aft, and everything forward of the main-mast,
except the long-boat, which was griped and double-lashed down
to the ring-bolts, was swept off clear. The galley, the pig-sty,
the hen-coop, and a large sheep-pen which had been built upon the
forehatch, were all gone, in the twinkling of an eye--leaving the
deck as clean as a chin new-reaped--and not a stick left, to show
where they had stood. In the scuppers lay the galley, bottom up,
and a few boards floating about, the wreck of the sheep-pen,--and
half a dozen miserable sheep floating among them, wet through,
and not a little frightened at the sudden change that had come
upon them. As soon as the sea had washed by, all hands sprung
out of the forecastle to see what had become of the ship and in
a few moments the cook and old Bill crawled out from under the
galley, where they had been lying in the water, nearly smothered,
with the galley over them. Fortunately, it rested against the
bulwarks, or it would have broken some of their bones. When the
water ran off, we picked the sheep up, and put them in the long-
boat, got the galley back in its place, and set things a little
to rights; but, had not our ship had uncommonly high bulwarks and
rail, everything must have been washed overboard, not excepting
Old Bill and the cook.

Bill had been standing at the galley-door, with the kid of beef in his
hand for the forecastle mess, when, away he went, kid, beef, and all.
He held on to the kid till the last, like a good fellow, but the beef
was gone, and when the water had run off, we saw it lying high and dry,
like a rock at low tide--nothing could hurt that. We took the loss
of our beef very easily, consoling ourselves with the recollection
that the cabin had more to lose than we; and chuckled not a little
at seeing the remains of the chicken-pie and pan-cakes floating in
the scuppers. "This will never do!" was what some said, and every
one felt. Here we were, not yet within a thousand miles of the
latitude of Cape Horn, and our decks swept by a sea not one half
so high as we must expect to find there. Some blamed the captain
for loading his ship so deep, when he knew what he must expect;
while others said that the wind was always southwest, off the Cape,
in the winter; and that, running before it, we should not mind the
seas so much. When we got down into the forecastle, Old Bill, who
was somewhat of a croaker,--having met with a great many accidents
at sea--said that if that was the way she was going to act, we might
as well make our wills, and balance the books at once, and put on
a clean shirt. "'Vast there, you bloody old owl! You're always
hanging out blue lights! You're frightened by the ducking you got
in the scuppers, and can't take a joke! What's the use in being
always on the look-out for Davy Jones?" "Stand by!" says another,
"and we'll get an afternoon watch below, by this scrape;" but in
this they were disappointed, for at two bells, all hands were
called and set to work, getting lashings upon everything on deck;
and the captain talked of sending down the long top-gallant masts;
but, as the sea went down toward night, and the wind hauled abeam,
we left them standing, and set the studding-sails.

The next day, all hands were turned-to upon unbending the old
sails, and getting up the new ones; for a ship, unlike people
on shore, puts on her best suit in bad weather. The old sails
were sent down, and three new topsails, and new fore and main
courses, jib, and fore-topmast staysail, which were made on
the coast, and never had been used, were bent, with a complete
set of new earings, robands and reef-points; and reef-tackles
were rove to the courses, and spilling-lines to the top-sails.
These, with new braces and clew-lines, fore and aft, gave us a
good suit of running rigging.

The wind continued westerly, and the weather and sea less rough
since the day on which we shipped the heavy sea, and we were
making great progress under studding-sails, with our light sails
all set, keeping a little to the eastward of south; for the captain,
depending upon westerly winds off the Cape, had kept so far to the
westward, that though we were within about five hundred miles of
the latitude of Cape Horn, we were nearly seventeen hundred miles
to the westward of it. Through the rest of the week, we continued
on with a fair wind, gradually, as we got more to the southward,
keeping a more easterly course, and bringing the wind on our
larboard quarter, until--

Sunday, June 26th, when, having a fine, clear day, the captain
got a lunar observation, as well as his meridian altitude, which
made us in lat. 47 50' S., long. 113 49' W.; Cape Horn bearing,
according to my calculation, E. S. E. 1/2 E., and distant eighteen
hundred miles.

Monday, June 27th. During the first part of this day, the wind
continued fair, and, as we were going before it, it did not feel
very cold, so that we kept at work on deck, in our common clothes
and round jackets. Our watch had an afternoon watch below, for the
first time since leaving San Diego, and having inquired of the third
mate what the latitude was at noon, and made our usual guesses as
to the time she would need, to be up with the Horn, we turned-
in, for a nap. We were sleeping away "at the rates of knots,"
when three knocks on the scuttle, and "All hands ahoy!" started
us from our berths. What could be the matter? It did not appear
to be blowing hard, and looking up through the scuttle, we could
see that it was a clear day, overhead; yet the watch were taking
in sail.

We thought there must be a sail in sight, and that we were about
to heave-to and speak her; and were just congratulating ourselves
upon it--for we had seen neither sail nor land since we had
left port--when we heard the mate's voice on deck, (he turned-in
"all standing," and was always on deck the moment he was called,)
singing out to the men who were taking in the studding-sails, and
asking where his watch were. We did not wait for a second call,
but tumbled up the ladder; and there, on the starboard bow, was a
bank of mist, covering sea and sky, and driving directly for us.
I had seen the same before, in my passage round in the Pilgrim,
and knew what it meant, and that there was no time to be lost.
We had nothing on but thin clothes, yet there was not a moment
to spare, and at it we went.

The boys of the other watch were in the tops, taking in the top-
gallant studding-sails, and the lower and topmast studding-sails
were coming down by the run. It was nothing but "haul down and
clew up," until we got all the studding-sails in, and the royals,
flying-jib, and mizen top-gallant sail furled, and the ship kept
off a little, to take the squall. The fore and main top-gallant
sails were still on her, for the "old man" did not mean to be
frightened in broad daylight, and was determined to carry sail
till the last minute.

We all stood waiting for its coming, when the first blast showed
us that it was not be trifled with. Rain, sleet, snow, and wind,
enough to take our breath from us, and make the toughest turn his
back to windward! The ship lay nearly over on her beam-ends; the
spars and rigging snapped and cracked; and her top-gallant masts
bent like whip-sticks. "Clew up the fore and main top-gallant
sails!" shouted the captain, and all hands sprang to the clewlines.
The decks were standing nearly at an angle of forty-five degrees,
and the ship going like a mad steed through the water, the whole
forward part of her in a smother of foam. The halyards were let
go and the yard clewed down, and the sheets started, and in a few
minutes the sails smothered and kept in by clewlines and buntlines.
--"Furl 'em, sir?" asked the mate.--"Let go the topsail halyards,
fore and aft!" shouted the captain, in answer, at the top of his voice.
Down came the topsail yards, the reef-tackles were manned and
hauled out, and we climbed up to windward, and sprang into the
weather rigging. The violence of the wind, and the hail and sleet,
driving nearly horizontally across the ocean, seemed actually
to pin us down to the rigging. It was hard work making head
against them. One after another, we got out upon the yards.
And here we had work to do; for our new sails, which had hardly
been bent long enough to get the starch out of them, were as stiff
as boards, and the new earings and reef-points, stiffened with the
sleet, knotted like pieces of iron wire. Having only our round
jackets and straw hats on, we were soon wet through, and it was
every moment growing colder. Our hands were soon stiffened and
numbed, which, added to the stiffness of everything else, kept us
a good while on the yard. After we had got the sail hauled upon
the yard, we had to wait a long time for the weather earing to
be passed; but there was no fault to be found, for French John
was at the earing, and a better sailor never laid out on a yard;
so we leaned over the yard, and beat our hands upon the sail to
keep them from freezing. At length the word came--"Haul out
to leeward,"--and we seized the reef-points and hauled the band
taught for the lee earing. "Taught band--Knot away," and we got
the first reef fast, and were just going to lay down, when--"Two
reefs--two reefs!" shouted the mate, and we had a second reef to
take, in the same way. When this was fast, we laid down on deck,
manned the halyards to leeward, nearly up to our knees in water,
set the topsail, and then laid aloft on the main topsail yard,
and reefed that sail in the same manner; for, as I have before
stated, we were a good deal reduced in numbers, and, to make
it worse, the carpenter, only two days before, cut his leg with
an axe, so that he could not go aloft. This weakened us so that
we could not well manage more than one topsail at a time, in such
weather as this, and, of course, our labor was doubled. From the
main topsail yard, we went upon the main yard, and took a reef in
the mainsail. No sooner had we got on deck, than--"Lay aloft there,
mizen-top-men, and close-reef the mizen topsail!" This called me;
and being nearest to the rigging, I got first aloft, and out to
the weather earing. English Ben was on the yard just after me,
and took the lee earing, and the rest of our gang were soon on
the yard, and began to fist the sail, when the mate considerately
sent up the cook and steward, to help us. I could now account
for the long time it took to pass the other earings, for, to do
my best, with a strong hand to help me at the dog's ear, I could
not get it passed until I heard them beginning to complain in the
bunt. One reef after another we took in, until the sail was close-
reefed, when we went down and hoisted away at the halyards. In the
mean time, the jib had been furled and the staysail set, and the
ship, under her reduced sail, had got more upright and was under
management; but the two top-gallant sails were still hanging in
the buntlines, and slatting and jerking as though they would take
the masts out of her. We gave a look aloft, and knew that our work
was not done yet; and, sure enough, no sooner did the mate see that
we were on deck, than--"Lay aloft there, four of you, and furl the
top-gallant sails!" This called me again, and two of us went aloft,
up the fore rigging, and two more up the main, upon the top-gallant

The shrouds were now iced over, the sleet having formed a crust
or cake round all the standing rigging, and on the weather side
of the masts and yards. When we got upon the yard, my hands were
so numb that I could not have cast off the knot of the gasket to
have saved my life. We both lay over the yard for a few seconds,
beating our hands upon the sail, until we started the blood into
our fingers' ends, and at the next moment our hands were in a
burning heat. My companion on the yard was a lad, who came out
in the ship a weak, puny boy, from one of the Boston schools,--
"no larger than a spritsail sheet knot," nor "heavier than a
paper of lamp-black," and "not strong enough to haul a shad
off a gridiron," but who was now "as long as a spare topmast,
strong enough to knock down an ox, and hearty enough to eat him."
We fisted the sail together, and after six or eight minutes of hard
hauling and pulling and beating down the sail, which was as stiff
as sheet iron, we managed to get it furled; and snugly furled it
must be, for we knew the mate well enough to be certain that if
it got adrift again, we should be called up from our watch below,
at any hour of the night, to furl it.

I had been on the look-out for a moment to jump below and clap on
a thick jacket and south-wester; but when we got on deck we found
that eight bells had been struck, and the other watch gone below,
so that there were two hours of dog watch for us, and a plenty of
work to do. It had now set in for a steady gale from the south-west;
but we were not yet far enough to the southward to make a fair wind
of it, for we must give Terra del Fuego a wide berth. The decks
were covered with snow, and there was a constant driving of sleet.
In fact, Cape Horn had set in with good earnest. In the midst of
all this, and before it became dark, we had all the studding-sails
to make up and stow away, and then to lay aloft and rig in all the
booms, fore and aft, and coil away the tacks, sheets, and halyards.
This was pretty tough work for four or five hands, in the face of
a gale which almost took us off the yards, and with ropes so stiff
with ice that it was almost impossible to bend them. I was nearly
half an hour out on the end of the fore yard, trying to coil away
and stop down the topmast studding-sail tack and lower halyards.
It was after dark when we got through, and we were not a little
pleased to hear four bells struck, which sent us below for two
hours, and gave us each a pot of hot tea with our cold beef and
bread, and, what was better yet, a suit of thick, dry clothing,
fitted for the weather, in place of our thin clothes, which were
wet through and now frozen stiff.

This sudden turn, for which we were so little prepared, was as
unacceptable to me as to any of the rest; for I had been troubled
for several days with a slight tooth-ache, and this cold weather,
and wetting and freezing, were not the best things in the world
for it.

I soon found that it was getting strong hold, and running over all
parts of my face; and before the watch was out I went aft to the
mate, who had charge of the medicine-chest, to get something for it.

But the chest showed like the end of a long voyage, for there was
nothing that would answer but a few drops of laudanum, which must
be saved for any emergency; so I had only to bear the pain as well
as I could.

When we went on deck at eight bells, it had stopped snowing, and
there were a few stars out, but the clouds were still black, and it
was blowing a steady gale. Just before midnight, I went aloft and
sent down the mizen royal yard, and had the good luck to do it to
the satisfaction of the mate, who said it was done "out of hand
and ship-shape." The next four hours below were but little relief
to me, for I lay awake in my berth, the whole time, from the pain
in my face, and heard every bell strike, and, at four o'clock,
turned out with the watch, feeling little spirit for the hard
duties of the day.

Bad weather and hard work at sea can be borne up against very
well, if one only has spirit and health; but there is nothing
brings a man down, at such a time, like bodily pain and want
of sleep.

There was, however, too much to do to allow time to think;
for the gale of yesterday, and the heavy seas we met with a
few days before, while we had yet ten degrees more southing to
make, had convinced the captain that we had something before us
which was not to be trifled with, and orders were given to send
down the long top-gallant masts. The top-gallant and royal yards
were accordingly struck, the flying jib-boom rigged in, and the
top-gallant masts sent down on deck, and all lashed together by
the side of the long-boat.

The rigging was then sent down and coiled away below, and everything
was made snug aloft. There was not a sailor in the ship who was not
rejoiced to see these sticks come down; for, so long as the yards
were aloft, on the least sign of a lull, the top-gallant sails were
loosed, and then we had to furl them again in a snow-squall, and shin
up and down single ropes caked with ice, and send royal yards down in
the teeth of a gale coming right from the south pole. It was an
interesting sight, too, to see our noble ship, dismantled of all
her top-hamper of long tapering masts and yards, and boom pointed
with spear-head, which ornamented her in port; and all that canvas,
which a few days before had covered her like a cloud, from the
truck to the water's edge, spreading far out beyond her hull on
either side, now gone; and she, stripped, like a wrestler for
the fight. It corresponded, too, with the desolate character
of her situation;--alone, as she was, battling with storms,
wind, and ice, at this extremity of the globe, and in almost
constant night.

Friday, July 1st. We were now nearly up to the latitude of Cape
Horn, and having over forty degrees of easting to make, we squared
away the yards before a strong westerly gale, shook a reef out of the
fore-topsail, and stood on our way, east-by-south, with the prospect
of being up with the Cape in a week or ten days. As for myself,
I had had no sleep for forty-eight hours; and the want of rest,
together with constant wet and cold, had increased the swelling,
so that my face was nearly as large as two, and I found it impossible
to get my mouth open wide enough to eat. In this state, the steward
applied to the captain for some rice to boil for me, but he only
got a--"No! d--- you! Tell him to eat salt junk and hard bread,
like the rest of them." For this, of course, I was much obliged
to him, and in truth it was just what I expected. However, I did
not starve, for the mate, who was a man as well as a sailor, and
had always been a good friend to me, smuggled a pan of rice into
the galley, and told the cook to boil it for me, and not let the
"old man" see it. Had it been fine weather, or in port, I should
have gone below and lain by until my face got well; but in such
weather as this, and short-handed as we were, it was not for me
to desert my post; so I kept on deck, and stood my watch and did
my duty as well as I could.

Saturday, July 2nd. This day the sun rose fair, but it ran too
low in the heavens to give any heat, or thaw out our sails and
rigging; yet the sight of it was pleasant; and we had a steady
"reef topsail breeze" from the westward. The atmosphere, which had
previously been clear and cold, for the last few hours grew damp,
and had a disagreeable, wet chilliness in it; and the man who came
from the wheel said he heard the captain tell "the passenger" that
the thermometer had fallen several degrees since morning, which he
could not account for in any other way than by supposing that there
must be ice near us; though such a thing had never been heard of
in this latitude, at this season of the year. At twelve o'clock
we went below, and had just got through dinner, when the cook put
his head down the scuttle and told us to come on deck and see the
finest sight that we had ever seen. "Where away, cook?" asked
the first man who was up. "On the larboard bow." And there lay,
floating in the ocean, several miles off, an immense, irregular mass,
its top and points covered with snow, and its center of a deep indigo

This was an iceberg, and of the largest size, as one of our men said
who had been in the Northern ocean. As far as the eye could reach,
the sea in every direction was of a deep blue color, the waves
running high and fresh, and sparkling in the light, and in the
midst lay this immense mountain-island, its cavities and valleys
thrown into deep shade, and its points and pinnacles glittering
in the sun.

All hands were soon on deck, looking at it, and admiring in various
ways its beauty and grandeur. But no description can give any idea
of the strangeness, splendor, and, really, the sublimity, of the sight.

Its great size;--for it must have been from two to three miles
in circumference, and several hundred feet in height;--its
slow motion, as its base rose and sank in the water, and its
high points nodded against the clouds; the dashing of the waves
upon it, which, breaking high with foam, lined its base with
a white crust; and the thundering sound of the cracking of
the mass, and the breaking and tumbling down of huge pieces;
together with its nearness and approach, which added a slight
element of fear,--all combined to give to it the character of
true sublimity. The main body of the mass was, as I have said,
of an indigo color, its base crusted with frozen foam; and as it
grew thin and transparent toward the edges and top, its color
shaded off from a deep blue to the whiteness of snow.

It seemed to be drifting slowly toward the north, so that we kept
away and avoided it. It was in sight all the afternoon; and when we
got to leeward of it, the wind died away, so that we lay-to quite
near it for a greater part of the night. Unfortunately, there was
no moon, but it was a clear night, and we could plainly mark the
long, regular heaving of the stupendous mass, as its edges moved
slowly against the stars. Several times in our watch loud cracks
were heard, which sounded as though they must have run through the
whole length of the iceberg, and several pieces fell down with a
thundering crash, plunging heavily into the sea. Toward morning,
a strong breeze sprang up, and we filled away, and left it astern,
and at daylight it was out of sight. The next day, which was

Sunday, July 3d, the breeze continued strong, the air exceedingly
chilly, and the thermometer low. In the course of the day we saw
several icebergs, of different sizes, but none so near as the
one which we saw the day before. Some of them, as well as we
could judge, at the distance at which we were, must have been
as large as that, if not larger. At noon we were in latitude
55 12' south, and supposed longitude 89 5' west. Toward night
the wind hauled to the southward, and headed us off our course
a little, and blew a tremendous gale; but this we did not mind,
as there was no rain nor snow, and we were already under close

Monday, July 4th. This was "independence day" in Boston.
What firing of guns, and ringing of bells, and rejoicings of
all sorts, in every part of our country! The ladies (who have
not gone down to Nahant, for a breath of cool air, and sight of
the ocean) walking the streets with parasols over their heads,
and the dandies in their white pantaloons and silk stockings!
What quantities of ice-cream have been eaten, and what quantities
of ice brought into the city from a distance, and sold out by the
lump and the pound! The smallest of the islands which we saw
today would have made the fortune of poor Jack, if he had had it
in Boston; and I dare say he would have had no objection to being
there with it. This, to be sure, was no place to keep the fourth
of July. To keep ourselves warm, and the ship out of the ice,
was as much as we could do. Yet no one forgot the day; and many
were the wishes, and conjectures, and comparisons, both serious and
ludicrous, which were made among all hands. The sun shone bright
as long as it was up, only that a scud of black clouds was ever
and anon driving across it. At noon we were in lat. 54 27' S.,
and long. 85 5' W., having made a good deal of easting, but having
lost in our latitude by the heading of the wind. Between daylight
and dark--that is, between nine o'clock and three--we saw thirty-
four ice islands, of various sizes; some no bigger than the hull
of our vessel, and others apparently nearly as large as the one
that we first saw; though, as we went on, the islands became
smaller and more numerous; and, at sundown of this day, a man at
the mast-head saw large fields of floating ice called "field-ice"
at the south-east. This kind of ice is much more dangerous than
the large islands, for those can be seen at a distance, and kept
away from; but the field-ice, floating in great quantities, and
covering the ocean for miles and miles, in pieces of every size-
-large, flat, and broken cakes, with here and there an island
rising twenty and thirty feet, and as large as the ship's hull;--
this, it is very difficult to sheer clear of. A constant look-out
was necessary; for any of these pieces, coming with the heave
of the sea, were large enough to have knocked a hole in the ship,
and that would have been the end of us; for no boat (even if we
could have got one out) could have lived in such a sea; and no man
could have lived in a boat in such weather. To make our condition
still worse, the wind came out due east, just after sundown, and it
blew a gale dead ahead, with hail and sleet, and a thick fog, so that
we could not see half the length of the ship. Our chief reliance,
the prevailing westerly gales, was thus cut off; and here we were,
nearly seven hundred miles to the westward of the Cape, with a gale
dead from the eastward, and the weather so thick that we could not
see the ice with which we were surrounded, until it was directly
under our bows.

At four, P. M. (it was then quite dark) all hands were called, and sent
aloft in a violent squall of hail and rain, to take in sail. We had
now all got on our "Cape Horn rig"--thick boots, south-westers coming
down over our neck and ears, thick trowsers and jackets, and some with
oil-cloth suits over all. Mittens, too, we wore on deck, but it would
not do to go aloft with them on, for it was impossible to work with
them, and, being wet and stiff, they might let a man slip overboard,
for all the hold he could get upon a rope; so, we were obliged to
work with bare hands, which, as well as our faces, were often cut
with the hail-stones, which fell thick and large. Our ship was
now all cased with ice,--hull, spars, and standing rigging;--and
the running rigging so stiff that we could hardly bend it so as
to belay it, or, still worse, take a knot with it; and the sails
nearly as stiff as sheet iron. One at a time, (for it was a long
piece of work and required many hands,) we furled the courses,
mizen topsail, and fore-topmast staysail, and close-reefed the
fore and main topsails, and hove the ship to under the fore,
with the main hauled up by the clewlines and buntlines, and ready
to be sheeted home, if we found it necessary to make sail to get
to windward of an ice island. A regular look-out was then set,
and kept by each watch in turn, until the morning. It was a tedious
and anxious night. It blew hard the whole time, and there was an
almost constant driving of either rain, hail, or snow. In addition
to this, it was "as thick as muck," and the ice was all about us.
The captain was on deck nearly the whole night, and kept the
cook in the galley, with a roaring fire, to make coffee for him,
which he took every few hours, and once or twice gave a little to
his officers; but not a drop of anything was there for the crew.
The captain, who sleeps all the daytime, and comes and goes at
night as he chooses, can have his brandy and water in the cabin,
and his hot coffee at the galley; while Jack, who has to stand
through everything, and work in wet and cold, can have nothing
to wet his lips or warm his stomach.

This was a "temperance ship," and, like too many such ships, the
temperance was all in the forecastle. The sailor, who only takes
his one glass as it is dealt out to him, is in danger of being drunk;
while the captain, who has all under his hand, and can drink as much
as he chooses, and upon whose self-possession and cool judgment the
lives of all depend, may be trusted with any amount, to drink at
his will. Sailors will never be convinced that rum is a dangerous
thing, by taking it away from them, and giving it to the officers;
nor that, that temperance is their friend, which takes from them
what they have always had, and gives them nothing in the place of
it. By seeing it allowed to their officers, they will not be
convinced that it is taken from them for their good; and by
receiving nothing in its place, they will not believe that
it is done in kindness. On the contrary, many of them look
upon the change as a new instrument of tyranny. Not that
they prefer rum. I never knew a sailor, in my life, who would
not prefer a pot of hot coffee or chocolate, in a cold night,
to all the rum afloat. They all say that rum only warms them for
a time; yet, if they can get nothing better, they will miss what
they have lost. The momentary warmth and glow from drinking it;
the break and change which is made in a long, dreary watch by
the mere calling all hands aft and serving of it out; and the
simply having some event to look forward to, and to talk about;
give it an importance and a use which no one can appreciate who
has not stood his watch before the mast. On my passage round Cape
Horn before, the vessel that I was in was not under temperance
articles, and grog was served out every middle and morning watch,
and after every reefing of topsails; and though I had never drank
rum before, and never intend to again, I took my allowance then
at the capstan, as the rest did, merely for the momentary warmth
it gave the system, and the change in our feelings and aspect of
our duties on the watch. At the same time, as I have stated,
there was not a man on board who would not have pitched the rum
to the dogs, (I have heard them say so, a dozen times) for a
pot of coffee or chocolate; or even for our common beverage--
"water bewitched, and tea begrudged," as it was.(1)

1. The proportions of the ingredients of the tea that was made for
us (and ours, as I have before stated, was a favorable specimen of
American merchantmen) were, a pint of tea, and a pint and a half
of molasses, to about three gallons of water.

These are all boiled down together in the "coppers," and before
serving it out, the mess is stirred up with a stick, so as to give
each man his fair share of sweetening and tea-leaves. The tea
for the cabin is, of course, made in the usual way, in a tea-pot,
and drank with sugar.

The temperance reform is the best thing that ever was undertaken
for the sailor; but when the grog is taken from him, he ought to
have something in its place. As it is now, in most vessels, it is a
mere saving to the owners; and this accounts for the sudden increase
of temperance ships, which surprised even the best friends of the
cause. If every merchant, when he struck grog from the list of
the expenses of his ship, had been obliged to substitute as much
coffee, or chocolate, as would give each man a pot-full when he
came off the topsail yard, on a stormy night;--I fear Jack might
have gone to ruin on the old road.(2) But this is not doubling

(2) I do not wish these remarks, so far as they relate to the
saving of expense in the outfit, to be applied to the owners
of our ship, for she was supplied with an abundance of stores,
of the best kind that are given to seamen;, though the dispensing
of them is necessarily left to the captain, Indeed, so high was
the reputation of "the employ" among men and officers, for the
character and outfit of their vessels, and for their liberality
in conducting their voyages, that when it was known that they had
a ship fitting out for a long voyage, and that hands were to be
shipped at a certain time,--a half hour before the time, as one of
the crew told me, numbers of sailors were steering down the wharf,
hopping over the barrels, like flocks of sheep.

Cape Horn. Eight hours of the night, our watch was on deck, and
during the whole of that time we kept a bright look-out: one man
on each bow, another in the bunt of the fore yard, the third mate
on the scuttle, one on each quarter, and a man always standing by
the wheel. The chief mate was everywhere, and commanded the ship
when the captain was below.

When a large piece of ice was seen in our way, or drifting near us,
the word was passed along, and the ship's head turned one way and
another; and sometimes the yards squared or braced up. There was
little else to do than to look out; and we had the sharpest eyes in
the ship on the forecastle. The only variety was the monotonous
voice of the look-out forward--"Another island!"--"Ice ahead!"--
"Ice on the lee bow!"--"Hard up the helm!"--"Keep her off a

In the meantime, the wet and cold had brought my face into such
a state that I could neither eat nor sleep; and though I stood it
out all night, yet, when it became light, I was in such a state,
that all hands told me I must go below, and lie-by for a day or
two, or I should be laid up for a long time, and perhaps have the

When the watch was changed I went into the steerage, and took off
my hat and comforter, and showed my face to the mate, who told me
to go below at once, and stay in my berth until the swelling went
down, and gave the cook orders to make a poultice for me, and said
he would speak to the captain.

I went below and turned-in, covering myself over with blankets
and jackets, and lay in my berth nearly twenty-four hours, half
asleep and half awake, stupid, from the dull pain. I heard the
watch called, and the men going up and down, and sometimes a
noise on deck, and a cry of "ice," but I gave little attention
to anything. At the end of twenty-four hours the pain went down,
and I had a long sleep, which brought me back to my proper state;
yet my face was so swollen and tender, that I was obliged to keep
to my berth for two or three days longer. During the two days I
had been below, the weather was much the same that it had been,
head winds, and snow and rain; or, if the wind came fair, too foggy,
and the ice too thick, to run. At the end of the third day the ice
was very thick; a complete fog-bank covered the ship. It blew a
tremendous gale from the eastward, with sleet and snow, and there
was every promise of a dangerous and fatiguing night. At dark,
the captain called all hands aft, and told them that not a man was
to leave the deck that night; that the ship was in the greatest
danger; any cake of ice might knock a hole in her, or she might
run on an island and go to pieces. No one could tell whether she
would be a ship the next morning. The look-outs were then set,
and every man was put in his station. When I heard what was the
state of things, I began to put on my clothes to stand it out
with the rest of them, when the mate came below, and looking at
my face, ordered me back to my berth, saying that if we went down,
we should all go down together, but if I went on deck I might lay
myself up for life. This was the first word I had heard from aft;
for the captain had done nothing, nor inquired how I was, since I
went below.

In obedience to the mate's orders, I went back to my berth; but a
more miserable night I never wish to spend. I never felt the curse
of sickness so keenly in my life. If I could only have been on deck
with the rest, where something was to be done, and seen, and heard;
where there were fellow-beings for companions in duty and danger--but
to be cooped up alone in a black hole, in equal danger, but without the
power to do, was the hardest trial. Several times, in the course of
the night, I got up, determined to go on deck; but the silence which
showed that there was nothing doing, and the knowledge that I might
make myself seriously ill, for nothing, kept me back. It was not
easy to sleep, lying, as I did, with my head directly against the
bows, which might be dashed in by an island of ice, brought down
by the very next sea that struck her. This was the only time I
had been ill since I left Boston, and it was the worst time it
could have happened. I felt almost willing to bear the plagues
of Egypt for the rest of the voyage, if I could but be well and
strong for that one night. Yet it was a dreadful night for those
on deck.

A watch of eighteen hours, with wet, and cold, and constant anxiety,
nearly wore them out; and when they came below at nine o'clock for
breakfast, they almost dropped asleep on their chests, and some
of them were so stiff that they could with difficulty sit down.
Not a drop of anything had been given them during the whole time,
(though the captain, as on the night that I was on deck, had his
coffee every four hours,) except that the mate stole a potful of
coffee for two men to drink behind the galley, while he kept a
look-out for the captain. Every man had his station, and was not
allowed to leave it; and nothing happened to break the monotony
of the night, except once setting the main topsails to run clear
of a large island to leeward, which they were drifting fast upon.
Some of the boys got so sleepy and stupefied, that they actually
fell asleep at their posts; and the young third mate, whose station
was the exposed one of standing on the fore scuttle, was so stiff,
when he was relieved, that he could not bend his knees to get down.
By a constant look-out, and a quick shifting of the helm, as the
islands and pieces came in sight, the ship went clear of everything
but a few small pieces, though daylight showed the ocean covered for
miles. At daybreak it fell a dead calm, and with the sun, the fog
cleared a little, and a breeze sprung up from the westward, which soon
grew into a gale. We had now a fair wind, daylight, and comparatively
clear weather; yet, to the surprise of every one, the ship continued
hove-to. Why does not he run? What is the captain about? was asked
by every one; and from questions, it soon grew into complaints and
murmurings. When the daylight was so short, it was too bad to
lose it, and a fair wind, too, which every one had been praying
for. As hour followed hour, and the captain showed no sign of
making sail, the crew became impatient, and there was a good deal
of talking and consultation together, on the forecastle. They had
been beaten out with the exposure and hardship, and impatient to
get out of it, and this unaccountable delay was more than they
could bear in quietness, in their excited and restless state.
Some said that the captain was frightened,--completely cowed,
by the dangers and difficulties that surrounded us, and was afraid
to make sail; while others said that in his anxiety and suspense
he had made a free use of brandy and opium, and was unfit for
his duty. The carpenter, who was an intelligent man, and a
thorough seaman, and had great influence with the crew,
came down into the forecastle, and tried to induce the crew to
go aft and ask the captain why he did not run, or request him,
in the name of all hands, to make sail. This appeared to be a
very reasonable request, and the crew agreed that if he did not
make sail before noon, they would go aft. Noon came, and no sail
was made. A consultation was held again, and it was proposed to
take the ship from the captain and give the command of her to the
mate, who had been heard to say that, if he could have his way,
the ship would have been half the distance to the Cape before
night,--ice or no ice. And so irritated and impatient had the
crew become, that even this proposition, which was open mutiny,
punishable with state prison, was entertained, and the carpenter
went to his berth, leaving it tacitly understood that something
serious would be done, if things remained as they were many hours
longer. When the carpenter left, we talked it all over, and I gave
my advice strongly against it. Another of the men, too, who had
known something of the kind attempted in another ship by a crew
who were dissatisfied with their captain, and which was followed
with serious consequences, was opposed to it. S-----, who soon
came down, joined us, and we determined to have nothing to do
with it. By these means, they were soon induced to give it up,
for the present, though they said they would not lie where they
were much longer without knowing the reason.

The affair remained in this state until four o'clock, when an
order came forward for all hands to come aft upon the quarter-
deck. In about ten minutes they came forward again, and the
whole affair had been blown. The carpenter, very prematurely,
and without any authority from the crew, had sounded the mate
as to whether he would take command of the ship, and intimated
an intention to displace the captain; and the mate, as in duty
bound, had told the whole to the captain, who immediately sent
for all hands aft. Instead of violent measures, or, at least,
an outbreak of quarter-deck bravado, threats, and abuse, which
they had every reason to expect, a sense of common danger and
common suffering seemed to have tamed his spirit, and begotten
something like a humane fellow-feeling; for he received the crew
in a manner quiet, and even almost kind. He told them what he
had heard, and said that he did not believe that they would try
to do any such thing as was intimated; that they had always been
good men,--obedient, and knew their duty, and he had no fault to
find with them; and asked them what they had to complain of--said
that no one could say that he was slow to carry sail, (which was
true enough;) and that, as soon as he thought it was safe and
proper, he should make sail. He added a few words about their
duty in their present situation, and sent them forward, saying
that he should take no further notice of the matter; but, at the
same time, told the carpenter to recollect whose power he was in,
and that if he heard another word from him he would have cause to
remember him to the day of his death.

This language of the captain had a very good effect upon the crew,
and they returned quietly to their duty.

For two days more the wind blew from the southward and eastward;
or in the short intervals when it was fair, the ice was too thick
to run; yet the weather was not so dreadfully bad, and the crew had
watch and watch. I still remained in my berth, fast recovering,
yet still not well enough to go safely on deck. And I should
have been perfectly useless; for, from having eaten nothing for
nearly a week, except a little rice, which I forced into my mouth
the last day or two, I was as weak as an infant. To be sick in a
forecastle is miserable indeed. It is the worst part of a dog's
life; especially in bad weather. The forecastle, shut up tight
to keep out the water and cold air;--the watch either on deck,
or asleep in their berths;--no one to speak to;--the pale light of
the single lamp, swinging to and fro from the beam, so dim that
one can scarcely see, much less read by it;--the water dropping
from the beams and carlines, and running down the sides; and the
forecastle so wet, and dark, and cheerless, and so lumbered up
with chests and wet clothes, that sitting up is worse than lying
in the berth! These are some of the evils. Fortunately, I needed
no help from any one, and no medicine; and if I had needed help,
I don't know where I should have found it. Sailors are willing
enough; but it is true, as is often said--No one ships for nurse
on board a vessel. Our merchant ships are always under-manned,
and if one man is lost by sickness, they cannot spare another
to take care of him. A sailor is always presumed to be well,
and if he's sick, he's a poor dog. One has to stand his wheel,
and another his lookout, and the sooner he gets on deck again,
the better.

Accordingly, as soon as I could possibly go back to my duty,
I put on my thick clothes and boots and south-wester, and made
my appearance on deck. Though I had been but a few days below,
yet everything looked strangely enough. The ship was cased in
ice,--decks, sides, masts, yards, and rigging. Two close-reefed
top-sails were all the sail she had on, and every sail and rope
was frozen so stiff in its place, that it seemed as though it
would be impossible to start anything. Reduced, too, to her top-
masts, she had altogether a most forlorn and crippled appearance.
The sun had come up brightly; the snow was swept off the decks,
and ashes thrown upon them, so that we could walk, for they had
been as slippery as glass.

It was, of course, too cold to carry on any ship's work, and we had
only to walk the deck and keep ourselves warm. The wind was still
ahead, and the whole ocean, to the eastward, covered with islands
and field-ice. At four bells the order was given to square away
the yards; and the man who came from the helm said that the captain
had kept her off to N. N. E. What could this mean? Some said that
he was going to put into Valparaiso, and winter, and others that
he was going to run out of the ice and cross the Pacific, and go
home round the Cape of Good Hope. Soon, however, it leaked out,
and we found that we were running for the straits of Magellan.
The news soon spread through the ship, and all tongues were at
work, talking about it. No one on board had been through the
straits, but I had in my chest an account of the passage of the
ship A. J. Donelson, of New York, through those straits, a few
years before.

The account was given by the captain, and the representation was
as favorable as possible. It was soon read by every one on board,
and various opinions pronounced. The determination of our captain
had at least this good effect; it gave every one something to
think and talk about, made a break in our life, and diverted our
minds from the monotonous dreariness of the prospect before us.
Having made a fair wind of it, we were going off at a good rate,
and leaving the thickest of the ice behind us. This, at least,
was something.

Having been long enough below to get my hands well warmed and
softened, the first handling of the ropes was rather tough; but a
few days hardened them, and as soon as I got my mouth open wide
enough to take in a piece of salt beef and hard bread, I was all
right again.

Sunday, July 10th. Lat. 54 10', long. 79 07'. This was our
position at noon. The sun was out bright; the ice was all left
behind, and things had quite a cheering appearance. We brought
our wet pea-jackets and trowsers on deck, and hung them up in
the rigging, that the breeze and the few hours of sun might dry
them a little; and, by the permission of the cook, the galley
was nearly filled with stockings and mittens, hung round to be
dried. Boots, too, were brought up; and having got a little tar
and slush from below, we gave them a thick coat. After dinner,
all hands were turned-to, to get the anchors over the bows,
bend on the chains, etc. The fish-tackle was got up, fish-davit
rigged out, and after two or three hours of hard and cold work,
both the anchors were ready for instant use, a couple of kedges
got up, a hawser coiled away upon the fore-hatch, and the deep-sea-
lead-line overhauled and got ready. Our spirits returned with having
something to do; and when the tackle was manned to bowse the anchor
home, notwithstanding the desolation of the scene, we struck up
"Cheerily ho!" in full chorus. This pleased the mate, who rubbed
his hands and cried out--"That's right, my boys; never say die!
That sounds like the old crew!" and the captain came up, on hearing
the song, and said to the passenger, within hearing of the man at
the wheel,--"That sounds like a lively crew. They'll have their
song so long as there're enough left for a chorus!"

This preparation of the cable and anchors was for the passage
of the straits; for, being very crooked, and with a variety of
currents, it is necessary to come frequently to anchor. This was
not, by any means, a pleasant prospect, for, of all the work that
a sailor is called upon to do in cold weather, there is none so
bad as working the ground-tackle. The heavy chain cables to be
hauled and pulled about the decks with bare hands; wet hawsers,
slip-ropes, and buoy-ropes to be hauled aboard, dripping in water,
which is running up your sleeves, and freezing; clearing hawse
under the bows; getting under weigh and coming-to, at all hours
of the night and day, and a constant look-out for rocks and sands
and turns of tides;--these are some of the disagreeables of such
a navigation to a common sailor. Fair or foul, he wants to have
nothing to do with the ground-tackle between port and port. One of
our hands, too, had unluckily fallen upon a half of an old newspaper
which contained an account of the passage, through the straits, of a
Boston brig, called, I think, the Peruvian, in which she lost every
cable and anchor she had, got aground twice, and arrived at
Valparaiso in distress. This was set off against the account of
the A. J. Donelson, and led us to look forward with less confidence
to the passage, especially as no one on board had ever been through,
and the captain had no very perfect charts. However, we were spared
any further experience on the point; for the next day, when we must
have been near the Cape of Pillars, which is the south-west point
of the mouth of the straits, a gale set in from the eastward, with a
heavy fog, so that we could not see half of the ship's length ahead.
This, of course, put an end to the project, for the present; for a
thick fog and a gale blowing dead ahead are not the most favorable
circumstances for the passage of difficult and dangerous straits.
This weather, too, seemed likely to last for some time, and we
could not think of beating about the mouth of the straits for a
week or two, waiting for a favorable opportunity; so we braced up
on the larboard tack, put the ship's head due south, and struck
her off for Cape Horn again.


In our first attempt to double the Cape, when we came up to the
latitude of it, we were nearly seventeen hundred miles to the
westward, but, in running for the straits of Magellan, we stood so
far to the eastward, that we made our second attempt at a distance
of not more than four or five hundred miles; and we had great hopes,
by this means, to run clear of the ice; thinking that the easterly
gales, which had prevailed for a long time, would have driven it
to the westward. With the wind about two points free, the yards
braced in a little, and two close-reefed topsails and a reefed
foresail on the ship, we made great way toward the southward and,
almost every watch, when we came on deck, the air seemed to grow
colder, and the sea to run higher. Still, we saw no ice, and had
great hopes of going clear of it altogether, when, one afternoon,
about three o'clock, while we were taking a siesta during our
watch below, "All hands!" was called in a loud and fearful voice.
"Tumble up here, men!--tumble up!--don't stop for your clothes--
before we're upon it!" We sprang out of our berths and hurried
upon deck.

The loud, sharp voice of the captain was heard giving orders,
as though for life or death, and we ran aft to the braces,
not waiting to look ahead, for not a moment was to be lost.
The helm was hard up, the after yards shaking, and the ship
in the act of wearing.

Slowly, with stiff ropes and iced rigging, we swung the yards round,
everything coming hard, and with a creaking and rending sound, like
pulling up a plank which had been frozen into the ice. The ship
wore round fairly, the yards were steadied, and we stood off on the
other tack, leaving behind us, directly under our larboard quarter,
a large ice island, peering out of the mist, and reaching high above
our tops, while astern; and on either side of the island, large tracts
of field-ice were dimly seen, heaving and rolling in the sea. We were
now safe, and standing to the northward; but, in a few minutes more,
had it not been for the sharp look-out of the watch, we should have
been fairly upon the ice, and left our ship's old bones adrift in
the Southern ocean. After standing to the northward a few hours,
we wore ship, and the wind having hauled, we stood to the southward
and eastward. All night long, a bright lookout was kept from every
part of the deck; and whenever ice was seen on the one bow or the
other, the helm was shifted and the yards braced, and by quick
working of the ship she was kept clear. The accustomed cry of
"Ice ahead!"--"Ice on the lee bow!"--"Another island!" in the
same tones, and with the same orders following them, seemed to
bring us directly back to our old position of the week before.

During our watch on deck, which was from twelve to four, the wind
came out ahead, with a pelting storm of hail and sleet, and we
lay hove-to, under a close-reefed main topsail, the whole watch.
During the next watch it fell calm, with a drenching rain, until
daybreak, when the wind came out to the westward, and the weather
cleared up, and showed us the whole ocean, in the course which we
should have steered, had it not been for the head wind and calm,
completely blocked up with ice. Here then our progress was stopped,
and we wore ship, and once more stood to the northward and eastward;
not for the straits of Magellan, but to make another attempt to
double the Cape, still farther to the eastward; for the captain
was determined to get round if perseverance could do it; and the
third time, he said, never failed.

With a fair wind we soon ran clear of the field-ice, and by noon
had only the stray islands floating far and near upon the ocean.

The sun was out bright, the sea of a deep blue, fringed with the
white foam of the waves which ran high before a strong south-wester;
our solitary ship tore on through the water, as though glad to be
out of her confinement; and the ice islands lay scattered upon the
ocean here and there, of various sizes and shapes, reflecting the
bright rays of the sun, and drifting slowly northward before the
gale. It was a contrast to much that we had lately seen, and a
spectacle not only of beauty, but of life; for it required but
little fancy to imagine these islands to be animate masses which
had broken loose from the "thrilling regions of thick-ribbed ice,"
and were working their way, by wind and current, some alone,
and some in fleets, to milder climes. No pencil has ever yet
given anything like the true effect of an iceberg. In a picture,
they are huge, uncouth masses, stuck in the sea, while their chief
beauty and grandeur,--their slow, stately motion; the whirling
of the snow about their summits, and the fearful groaning and
cracking of their parts,--the picture cannot give. This is the
large iceberg; while the small and distant islands, floating on
the smooth sea, in the light of a clear day, look like little
floating fairy isles of sapphire.

From a north-east course we gradually hauled to the eastward, and
after sailing about two hundred miles, which brought us as near to
the western coast of Terra del Fuego as was safe, and having lost
sight of the ice altogether,--for the third time we put the ship's
head to the southward, to try the passage of the Cape. The weather
continued clear and cold, with a strong gale from the westward,
and we were fast getting up with the latitude of the Cape, with a
prospect of soon being round. One fine afternoon, a man who had
gone into the fore-top to shift the rolling tackles, sung out, at
the top of his voice, and with evident glee,--"Sail ho!" Neither
land nor sail had we seen since leaving San Diego; and any one who
has traversed the length of a whole ocean alone, can imagine what
an excitement such an announcement produced on board. "Sail ho!"
shouted the cook, jumping out of his galley; "Sail ho!" shouted
a man, throwing back the slide of the scuttle, to the watch below,
who were soon out of their berths and on deck; and "Sail ho!"
shouted the captain down the companion-way to the passenger in
the cabin. Besides the pleasure of seeing a ship and human beings
in so desolate a place, it was important for us to speak a vessel,
to learn whether there was ice to the eastward, and to ascertain the
longitude; for we had no chronometer, and had been drifting about
so long that we had nearly lost our reckoning, and opportunities
for lunar observations are not frequent or sure in such a place as
Cape Horn. For these various reasons, the excitement in our little
community was running high, and conjectures were made, and everything
thought of for which the captain would hail, when the man aloft sung
out--"Another sail, large on the weather bow!"

This was a little odd, but so much the better, and did not shake
our faith in their being sails. At length the man in the top
hailed, and said he believed it was land, after all. "Land in
your eye!" said the mate, who was looking through a telescope;
"they are ice islands, if I can see a hole through a ladder;" and a
few moments showed the mate to be right and all our expectations
fled; and instead of what we most wished to see, we had what we
most dreaded, and what we hoped we had seen the last of. We soon,
however, left these astern, having passed within about two miles
of them; and at sundown the horizon was clear in all directions.

Having a fine wind, we were soon up with and passed the latitude
of the Cape, and having stood far enough to the southward to give
it a wide berth, we began to stand to the eastward, with a good
prospect of being round and steering to the northward on the
other side, in a very few days.

But ill luck seemed to have lighted upon us. Not four hours had
we been standing on in this course, before it fell dead calm;
and in half an hour it clouded up; a few straggling blasts,
with spits of snow and sleet, came from the eastward; and in
an hour more, we lay hove-to under a close-reefed main topsail,
drifting bodily off to leeward before the fiercest storm that we
had yet felt, blowing dead ahead, from the eastward. It seemed
as though the genius of the place had been roused at finding that
we had nearly slipped through his fingers, and had come down upon
us with tenfold fury. The sailors said that every blast, as it
shook the shrouds, and whistled through the rigging, said to the
old ship, "No, you don't!"--"No, you don't!"

For eight days we lay drifting about in this manner. Sometimes,--
generally towards noon,--it fell calm; once or twice a round copper
ball showed itself for a few moments in the place where the sun ought
to have been; and a puff or two came from the westward, giving some
hope that a fair wind had come at last. During the first two days,
we made sail for these puffs, shaking the reefs out of the topsails
and boarding the tacks of the courses; but finding that it only made
work for us when the gale set in again, it was soon given up, and we
lay-to under our close-reefs.

We had less snow and hail than when we were farther to the westward,
but we had an abundance of what is worse to a sailor in cold
weather--drenching rain. Snow is blinding, and very bad when
coming upon a coast, but, for genuine discomfort, give me rain
with freezing weather. A snow-storm is exciting, and it does not
wet through the clothes (which is important to a sailor); but a
constant rain there is no escaping from. It wets to the skin,
and makes all protection vain. We had long ago run through all
our dry clothes, and as sailors have no other way of drying them
than by the sun, we had nothing to do but to put on those which
were the least wet.

At the end of each watch, when we came below, we took off our clothes
and wrung them out; two taking hold of a pair of trowsers,--one
at each end,--and jackets in the same way. Stockings, mittens,
and all, were wrung out also and then hung up to drain and chafe
dry against the bulk-heads. Then, feeling of all our clothes,
we picked out those which were the least wet, and put them on,
so as to be ready for a call, and turned-in, covered ourselves
up with blankets, and slept until three knocks on the scuttle
and the dismal sound of "All starbowlines ahoy! Eight bells,
there below! Do you hear the news?" drawled out from on deck,
and the sulky answer of "Aye, aye!" from below, sent us up again.

On deck, all was as dark as a pocket, and either a dead calm,
with the rain pouring steadily down, or, more generally, a violent
gale dead ahead, with rain pelting horizontally, and occasional
variations of hail and sleet;--decks afloat with water swashing
from side to side, and constantly wet feet; for boots could not
be wrung out like drawers, and no composition could stand the
constant soaking. In fact, wet and cold feet are inevitable
in such weather, and are not the least of those little items
which go to make up the grand total of the discomforts of a winter
passage round the Cape. Few words were spoken between the watches
as they shifted, the wheel was relieved, the mate took his place
on the quarter-deck, the look-outs in the bows; and each man had
his narrow space to walk fore and aft in, or, rather, to swing
himself forward and back in, from one belaying pin to another,--
for the decks were too slippery with ice and water to allow of
much walking. To make a walk, which is absolutely necessary to
pass away the time, one of us hit upon the expedient of sanding
the deck; and afterwards, whenever the rain was not so violent
as to wash it off, the weatherside of the quarter-deck and a part
of the waist and forecastle were sprinkled with the sand which we
had on board for holystoning; and thus we made a good promenade,
where we walked fore and aft, two and two, hour after hour, in our
long, dull, and comfortless watches. The bells seemed to be an
hour or two apart, instead of half an hour, and an age to elapse
before the welcome sound of eight bells. The sole object was to
make the time pass on. Any change was sought for, which would
break the monotony of the time; and even the two hours' trick at
the wheel, which came round to each of us, in turn, once in every
other watch, was looked upon as a relief. Even the never-failing
resource of long yarns, which eke out many a watch, seemed to have
failed us now; for we had been so long together that we had heard
each other's stories told over and over again, till we had them
by heart; each one knew the whole history of each of the others,
and we were fairly and literally talked out. Singing and joking,
we were in no humor for, and, in fact, any sound of mirth or laughter
would have struck strangely upon our ears, and would not have been
tolerated, any more than whistling, or a wind instrument. The last
resort, that of speculating upon the future, seemed now to fail us,
for our discouraging situation, and the danger we were really in,
(as we expected every day to find ourselves drifted back among the
ice) "clapped a stopper" upon all that. From saying--"when we get
home"--we began insensibly to alter it to--"if we get home"--and at
last the subject was dropped by a tacit consent.

Book of the day: