Ned Myers
James Fenimore Cooper

Part 3 out of 5

flew from the reef-band like a bit of muslin torn by a shop-boy. The brig
now had nothing set but a close-reefed main-topsail, and this I expected,
every minute, would follow the other canvass. It rained, blew
tremendously, and the sea was making constant breaches over us. Most of
the men were fagged out, some going below, while others, who remained on
deck, did, or _could_ do, nothing. At the same time, it was so dark that
we could not see the length of the vessel.

I now went aft to speak to Tibbets, telling him I thought it was all over
with us. He had still some hope, as the bay was deep, and he thought light
might return before we got to the bottom of it. I was of a different
opinion, believing the brig then to be within the influence of the
ground-swell, though not absolutely within the breakers. All this time the
people were quiet, and there was no drinking. Indeed, I hardly saw any one
moving about. It was an hour after the conversation with Tibbets, that I
was standing, holding on by the weather-main-clew-garnet, when I got a
glimpse of breakers directly under our lee. I sung out, "there's breakers,
and everybody must shift for himself." At the next instant, the brig rose
on a sea, settled in the trough, and struck. The blow threw me off my
feet, though I held on to the clew-garnet. Then I heard the crash of the
foremast as it went down to leeward. The brig rolled over on her
beam-ends, but righted at the next sea, drove in some distance, and down
she came again, with a force that threatened to break her up. I bethought
me of the main-mast, and managed to get forward as far as the bitts, in
order to be out of its way. It was well I did, as I felt a movement as if
her upper works were parting from the bottom. I was near no one, and the
last person I saw, or spoke to on board, was Tibbets, who was then
standing in the companion-way. This was an hour before the brig struck.

There might have been an interval of half a minute between the time I
reached the windlass, and that in which I saw a tremendous white foaming
sea rolling down upon the vessel. At this ominous sight, I instinctively
seized the bitts for protection. I can remember the rushing of the water
down upon me, and have some faint impressions of passing through a mass of
rigging, but this is all. When I came to my senses, it was in an Irish
mud-cabin, with an old woman and her daughter taking care of me. My head
was bandaged, and most of the hair had been cut off in front I was stiff
and sore all over me. Fortunately, none of my bones were broken.

The account given me of what had passed, was this. I was found by the old
man, who lived in the hut, a fisherman and the husband of my nurse, with
some other persons, lying on my face, between two shelves of rock. There
was nothing very near me, not even a bit of wood, or a rope. Two lads that
belonged to the brig were found not far from me, both alive, though both
badly hurt, one of them having had his thigh broken. Of the rest of the
fourteen souls on board the Susan, there were no traces. I never heard
that even their bodies were found. Tibbets and Wilson had gone with their
old prize, and anything but a prize did she prove to me. I lost a good
outfit, and, after belonging to her about three weeks, here was I left
naked on the shores of Ireland, I am sorry to say, my feelings were those
of repining, rather than of gratitude. Of religion I had hardly a notion,
and I am afraid that all which had been driven into me in childhood, was
already lost. In this state of mind, I naturally felt more of the
hardships I had endured, than of the mercy that had been shown me. I look
back with shame at the hardness of heart which rendered me insensible to
the many mercies I had received, in escaping so often from the perils of
my calling.

It was three days after the wreck, before I left my bed. Nothing could
have been kinder than the treatment I received from those poor Irish
people. Certainly no reward was before them, but that which Heaven gives
the merciful; and yet I could not have been more cared for, had I been
their own son. They fed me, nursed me, and warmed me, without receiving
any other return from me than my thanks. I staid with them three weeks,
doing nothing on account of the bruises I had received. The Susan's had
been a thorough wreck. Not enough of her could be found, of which to build
a launch. Her cargo was as effectually destroyed as her hull, and, to say
the truth, it took but little to break her up. As for the two lads, I
could not get as far as the cabin in which they had been put. It was two
or three miles along the coast, and, having no shoes, I could not walk
that distance over the sharp stones. Several messages passed between us,
but I never saw a single soul that belonged to the brig, after the last
look I had of Tibbets in the companion-way.

A coaster passing near the cabin, and it falling calm, the fisherman went
off to her, told my story, and got a passage for me to Liverpool. I now
took my leave of these honest people, giving them all I had--my sincere
thanks--and went on board the sloop. Here I was well treated, nor did any
one expect me to work. We reached Liverpool the second day, and I went and
hunted up Molly Hutson, the landlady with whom the crew of the Sterling
had lodged, when Captain B---- had her. The old woman helped me to some
clothes, received me well, and seemed sorry for my misfortunes. As it
would not do to remain idle, however, I shipped on board the Robert Burns,
and sailed for New York within the week. I got no wages, but met with
excellent treatment, and had a very short winter passage. In less than
three months after I left him, I was back again with my old landlord, who
gave me my hundred dollars without any difficulty. I had sailed with him
in the Sterling, and he always seemed to think of me a little differently
from what landlords generally think of Jack.

A good deal was said among my associates, now, about the advantages of
making a voyage to the coast of Ireland for the purpose of smuggling
tobacco, and I determined to try my hand at one. Of the morality of
smuggling I have nothing to say. I would not make such a voyage now, if I
know myself; but poor sailors are not taught to make just distinctions in
such things, and the merchants must take their share of the shame. I fear
there are few merchants, and fewer seamen, man-of-war officers excepted,
who will not smuggle.[13]

I laid out most of my hundred dollars, in getting a new outfit, and then
shipped in a small pilot-boat-built schooner, called the M'Donough, bound
to Ireland, to supply such honest fellows as my old fisherman with good
tobacco, cheap. Our cargo was in small bales, being the raw material,
intended to be passed by hand. We had seventeen hands before the mast, but
carried no armament, pistols, &c., excepted. The schooner sailed like a
witch, carrying only two gaff-topsails. We made the land in fourteen days
after we left the Hook, our port being Tory Island, off the north-west
coast of Ireland. We arrived in the day-time, and showed a signal, which
was answered in the course of the day, by a smoke on some rocks. A large
boat then came off to us, and we filled her with tobacco the same evening.
In the course of the night, we had despatched four or five more boats,
loaded with the same cargo; but, as day approached, we hauled our wind,
and stood off the land. Next night we went in, again, and met more boats,
and the succeeding morning we hauled off, as before. When we saw a boat,
we hailed and asked "if they were outward bound." If the answer was
satisfactory, we brailed the foresail and permitted the boat to come
alongside. In this manner we continued shoving cargo ashore, for quite a
week, sometimes falling in with only one boat of a night, and, at others,
with three or four; just as it might happen. We had got about two-thirds
of the tobacco out, and a boat had just left us, on the morning of the
sixth or seventh day, when we saw a man-of-war brig coming round Tory
Island, in chase. At this sight, we hauled up close on a wind, it blowing
very fresh. As the English never employed any but the fastest cruisers for
this station, we had a scratching time of it. The brig sailed very fast,
and out-carried us; but our little schooner held on well. For two days and
one night we had it, tack and tack, with her. The brig certainly gained on
us, our craft carrying a balanced reefed-mainsail, bonnet off the foresail
and one reef in, and bonnet off the jib. The flying-jib was inboard. At
sunset, on the second night, the brig was so near us, we could see her
people, and it was blowing fresher than ever. This was just her play,
while ours was in more moderate weather. Our skipper got uneasy, now, and
determined to try a trick. It set in dark and rainy; and, as soon as we
lost sight of the brig, we tacked, stood on a short distance, lowered
everything, and extinguished all our lights. We lay in this situation
three hours, when we stuck the craft down again for Tory Island, as
straight as we could go. I never knew what became of the brig, which may
be chasing us yet, for aught I know for I saw no more of her. Next day we
had the signal flying again, and the smoke came up from the same rock, as
before. It took us three days longer to get all the tobacco ashore, in
consequence of some trouble on the island; but it all went in the end, and
went clear, as I was told, one or two boat-loads excepted. The cargo was
no sooner out, than we made sail for New York, where we arrived in another
short passage. We were absent but little more than two months, and my
wages and presents came to near one hundred dollars. I never tried the
tobacco trade again.

Chapter XI.

I now stayed ashore two months. I had determined to study navigation, and
to try to get off the forecastle, in which wise course I was encouraged by
several discreet friends. I had fallen in with a young woman of
respectable character and agreeable person, and, to own the truth, was
completely in irons with her. I believe a mother is a good deal more on
the look-out than a father, in such matters; for I was overhauled by the
old woman, and questioned as to my intentions about Sarah, whereas the old
man was somewhat more moderate. I confessed my wish to marry her daughter;
but the old woman thought I was too wild, which was not Sarah's opinion, I
believe. Had we been left to ourselves, we should have got married; though
I was really desirous of going out once as an officer, before I took so
important a step. I have sometimes suspected that Sarah's parents had a
hand in getting me shipped, again, as they were intimate with the captain
who now proposed to take me with him as his second-mate. I consented to
go, with some reluctance; but, on the whole, thought it was the best thing
I could do. My reluctance proceeded from desire to remain with Sarah,
when the time came; though the berth was exactly the thing I wanted,
whenever I reasoned coolly on the subject.

I shipped, accordingly, in a vessel of the Costers', called the William
and Jane, bound to Holland and Canton, as her second-mate. My leave-taking
with Sarah was very tender; and I believe we both felt much grieved at the
necessity of parting. Nothing occurred on the passage out worth
mentioning. I got along with my duty well enough, for I had been broken-in
on, board the Sterling, and one or two other vessels. We went to the
Texel, but found some difficulty in procuring dollars, which caused us to
return to New York, after getting only twenty thousand. We had no other
return cargo, with the exception of a little gin. We were absent five
months; and I found Sarah as pretty, and as true, as ever. I did not quit
the vessel, however; but, finding my knowledge of the lunars too limited,
I was obliged to go backward a little--becoming third-mate. We were a
month in New York, and it was pretty hard work to keep from eloping with
Sarah; but I clawed off the breakers as well as I could. I gave her a
silver thimble, and told her to take it to a smith, and get our joint
names cut on it, which she did. The consequences of this act will be seen
in the end.

We had a little breeze on board the ship before we could get off; the
people refusing to sail with a new first-mate that had joined her. It
ended by getting another mate, when we went to sea. I believe that no
other vessel ever went out with such articles as our crew insisted on. The
men stipulated for three quarts of water a day, and the forenoon's watch
below. All this was put in black and white, and it gave us some trouble
before we got to our destination.

Our passage out was a very long one, lasting two hundred and ten days.
When we got into the trades, we stripped one mast after the other, to a
girt-line, overhauling everything, and actually getting new gangs of
rigging up over the lower-mast-heads. We were a long time about it, but
lost little or nothing in distance, as the ship was going before the wind
the whole time, with everything packed on the masts that were rigged.
Before overhauling the rigging, we fell in with an English ship, called
the General Blucher, and kept company with her for quite a fortnight.
While the two ships were together, we were chased by a strange brig, that
kept in sight three or four days, evidently watching us, and both vessels
suspected him of being a pirate. As we had six guns, and thirty-one souls,
and the Blucher was, at least, as strong, the two captains thought, by
standing by each other, they might beat the fellow off, should he attack
us. The brig frequently came near enough to get a good look at us, and
then dropped astern. He continued this game several days, until he
suddenly hauled his wind, and left us. Our ship would have been a famous
prize; having, it was said, no less than two hundred and fifty thousand
Spanish dollars on board.

We parted company with the Blucher, in a heavy gale; our ship bearing up
for Rio. After getting rid of some of our ballast, however, and changing
the cargo of pig-lead, our vessel was easier, and did not go in. Nothing
further occurred, worth mentioning, until we got off Van Diemen's Land.
Two days after seeing the land, a boy fell from the fore-top-gallant yard,
while reeving the studding-sail halyards. I had just turned in, after
eating my dinner, having the watch below, when I heard the cry of "a man
overboard!" Running on deck, as I was, I jumped into a quarter-boat,
followed by four men, and we were immediately lowered down. The ship was
rounded-to, and I heard the poor fellow calling out to me by name, to save
him. I saw him, astern, very plainly, while on the ship's quarter; but
lost sight of him, as soon as the boat was in the water. The sky-light-hood
had been thrown overboard, and was floating in the ship's wake. We steered
for that; but could neither see nor hear anything more of the poor fellow.
We got his hat, and we picked up the hood of the sky-light, but could not
find the boy. He had, unquestionably, gone down before we reached the spot
where he had been floating, as his hat must have pointed out the place. We
got the hat first; and then, seeing nothing of the lad, we pulled back to
take in the hood; which was quite large. While employed in taking it in, a
squall passed over the boat; which nearly blew it away from us. Being very
busy in securing the hood, no one had leisure to look about; but the duty
was no sooner done, than one of the men called out, that he could not see
the ship! Sure enough, the William and Jane had disappeared! and there we
were, left in the middle of the ocean, in a six-oared pinnace, without a
morsel of food, and I myself, without hat, shoes, jacket or trowsers. In a
word, I had nothing on me but my drawers and a flannel shirt. Fortunately,
the captain kept a breaker of fresh water in each boat, and we had a small
supply of this great requisite;--enough, perhaps, to last five men two or
three days.

All our boats had sails; but those of the pinnace had been spread on the
quarter-deck, to dry; and we had nothing but the ash to depend on. At
first, we pulled to leeward; but the weather was so thick, we could not
see a cable's-length; and our search for the vessel, in that direction,
proved useless. At the end of an hour or two, we ceased rowing, and held a
consultation. I proposed to pull in the direction of the land; which was
pulling to windward. If the ship should search for us, it would certainly
be in that quarter; and if we should miss her, altogether, our only chance
was in reaching the shore. There, we might find something to eat; of which
there was little hope, out on the ocean. The men did not relish the idea
of quitting the spot; but, after some talk, they came into my plan.

It remained thick weather all that afternoon, night, and succeeding day,
until about noon. We were without a compass, and steered by the direction
of the wind and sea. Occasionally it lightened up a little, so as to show
us a star or two, or during the day to permit us to see a few miles around
the boat; but we got no glimpse of the ship. It blew so heavily that we
made no great progress, in my judgment doing very little more than keeping
the boat head to sea. Could we have pulled four oars, this might not have
been the case, but we took it watch and watch, two men pulling, while two
tried to get a little rest, under the shelter of the hood. I steered as
long as I could, but was compelled to row part of the time to keep myself
warm. In this manner were passed about six-and-twenty of the most
unpleasant hours of my life, when some of us thought they heard the report
of a distant gun. I did not believe it; but, after listening attentively
some ten or fifteen minutes, another report was heard, beyond all dispute,
dead to leeward of us!

This signal produced a wonderful effect on us all. The four oars were
manned, and away we went before the wind and sea, as fast as we could
pull, I steering for the reports as they came heavily up to windward at
intervals of about a quarter of an hour. Three or four of these guns were
heard, each report sounding nearer than the other, to our great joy, until
I got a glimpse of the ship, about two miles distant from us. She was on
the starboard tack, close hauled, a proof she was in search of us, with
top-gallant-sails set over single-reefed topsails. She was drawing ahead
of us fast, however, and had we not seen her as we did, we should have
crossed her wake, and been lost without a hope, by running to leeward. We
altered our course the instant she was seen; but what could a boat do in
such a sea, pulling after a fast ship under such canvass? Perhaps we felt
more keen anxiety, after we saw the ship, than we did before, since we
beheld all the risk we ran. Never shall I forget the sensations with which
I saw her start her main-tack and haul up the sail! The foresail and
top-gallant-sail followed, and then the main-yard came round, and laid the
topsail aback! Everything seemed to fly on board her, and we knew we were
safe. In a few minutes we were alongside. The boat was at the davits, the
helm was up, and the old barky squared away for China.

We in the boat were all pretty well fagged out with hunger, toil, and
exposure. I was the worst off, having so little clothing in cool weather,
and I think another day would have destroyed us all, unless we had taken
refuge in the well-known dreadful alternative of seamen. The captain was
delighted to see us, as indeed were all hands. They had determined to turn
to windward, on short tacks, until they made the land, the best thing that
could have been done, and the course that actually saved us.

When we got into the latitude of Port Jackson, the crew was put on two
quarts of water a man, three quarts having been stipulated for in the
articles. This produced a mutiny, the men refusing duty. This was awkward
enough, in that distant sea. The captain took advantage of the men's going
below, however, to secure the scuttle and keep them there. He then
mustered us, who lived aft, six men and three boys, and laid the question
before us, _whether we would take the ship into Canton_, or go into Port
Jackson, and get some water. He admitted we were about seventy-five days
run from Cauton, but he himself leaned to the plan of continuing on our
course. We saw all the difficulties before us, and told him of them.

There were twenty men below, and to carry them eight or ten thousand miles
in that situation, would have been troublesome, to say the least, and
might have caused the death of some among them. We were armed, and had no
apprehensions of the people, but we did not like to work a ship of five
hundred tons with so few hands, one-third of whom were boys, so great a
distance. The crew, moreover, had a good deal of right on their side, the
articles stipulating that they should have the water, and this water was
to be had a short distance to windward.

The captain yielded to our reasoning, and we beat up to Port Jackson,
where we arrived in three or four days. The people were then sent to
prison, as mutineers, and we watered the ship. We were in port a
fortnight, thus occupied. All this time the men were in gaol. No men were
to be had, and then arose the question about trusting the old crew. There
was no choice, and, the ship being ready to sail, we received the people
on board again, and turned them all to duty. We had no further trouble
with them, however, the fellows behaving perfectly well, as men commonly
will, who have been once put down. No mutiny is dangerous when the
officers are apprized of its existence, and are fairly ready to meet it.
The king's name is a tower of strength.

We arrived at Canton in due time, and found our cargo ready for us. We
took it in, and sailed again, for the Texel, in three weeks. Our passage
to Europe was two hundred and eleven days, but we met with no accident. At
the Texel I found two letters from New York, one being from Sarah, and the
other from a female friend. Sarah was married to the very silversmith who
had engraven our names on the thimble! This man saw her for the first
time, when she carried that miserable thimble to him, fell in love with
her, and, being in good circumstances, her friends prevailed on her to
have him. Her letter to me admitted her error, and confessed her
unhappiness; but there was no remedy. I did not like the idea of returning
to New York, under the circumstances, and resolved to quit the ship. I
got my discharge, therefore, from the William and Jane, and left her,
never seeing the vessel afterwards.

There was a small Baltimore ship, called the Wabash, at the Texel, getting
ready for Canton, and I entered on board her, as a foremast Jack, again.
My plan was to quit her in China, and to remain beyond the Capes for ever.
The disappointment in my matrimonial plans had soured me, and I wanted to
get as far from America as I could. This was the turning point of my life,
and was to settle my position in my calling. I was now twenty-seven, and
when a man gets stern-way on him, at that age, he must sail a good craft
ever to work his way into his proper berth again.

The Wabash had a good passage out, without any unusual occurrence. On her
arrival at Canton, I told the captain my views, and he allowed me to go. I
was now adrift in the Imperial Empire, with a couple of hundred dollars in
my pocket, and a chest full of good clothes. So far all was well, and I
began to look about me for a berth. We had found an English country ship
lying at Whampao, smuggling opium, and I got on board of her, as
third-mate, a few days after I quitted the Wabash. This was the first and
only time I ever sailed under the English flag, for I do not call my other
passages in English vessels, sailing _under_ the flag, though it was
waving over my head. My new ship was the Hope, of Calcutta, commanded by
Captain Kid, or Kyd, I forget which. The vessel was built of teak, and had
been a frigate in the Portuguese service. She was so old no one knew
exactly when she was built, but sailed like a witch. Her crew consisted
principally of Lascars, with a few Europeans and negroes, as is usual in
those craft. My wages did not amount to much in dollars, but everything
was so cheap, they counted up in the long run. I had perquisites, too,
which amounted to something handsome. They kept a very good table.

The Hope had a good deal of opium, when I joined her, and it was all to be
smuggled before we sailed. As this trade has made a great deal of noise,
latterly, I will relate the manner in which we disposed of the drug. Of
the morality of this species of commerce, I have no more to say in its
defence, than I had of the tobacco voyage, unless it be to aver that were
I compelled, now, to embark in one of the two, it should be to give the
countrymen of my honest fisherman cheap tobacco, in preference to making
the Chinese drunk on opium.

Our opium was packed in wooden boxes of forty cylinders, weighing about
ten pounds each cylinder. Of course each box weighed about four hundred
pounds. The main cargo was cotton, and salt-petre, and ebony; but there
were four hundred boxes of this opium.

The sales of the article were made by the captain, up at the factory. They
seldom exceeded six or eight boxes at a time, and were oftener two or
three. The purchaser then brought, or sent, an order on board the ship,
for the delivery of the opium. He also provided bags. The custom-house
officers did not remain in the ship, as in other countries, but were on
board a large armed boat, hanging astern. These crafts are called Hoppoo
boats. This arrangement left us tolerably free to do as we pleased, on
board. If an officer happened to come on board, however, we had early
notice of it, of course. As third-mate, it was my duty to see the boxes
taken out of the hold, and the opium delivered. The box was opened, and
the cylinders counted off, and stowed in the bags, which were of sizes
convenient to handle. All this was done on the gun-deck, the purchaser
receiving possession of his opium, on board us. It was his loss, if
anything failed afterwards.

As soon as the buyer had his opium in the bags, he placed the latter near
two or three open ports, amidships, and hung out a signal to the shore.
This signal was soon answered, and then it was look out for the smuggling
boats! These smuggling boats are long, swift, craft, that have
double-banked paddles, frequently to the number of sixty men. They are
armed, and are swift as arrows. When all is ready, they appear suddenly on
the water, and dash alongside of the vessel for which they are bound, and
find the labourers of the purchaser standing at the ports, with the bags
of cylinders ready. These bags are thrown into the boat, the purchaser and
his men tumble after them, and away she paddles, like a racer. The whole
operation occupies but a minute or two.

As soon as the Hoppoo boat sees what is going on, it begins to blow
conches. This gives the alarm, and then follows a chase from an armed
custom-house boat, of which there are many constantly plying about. It
always appeared to me that the custom-house people were either afraid of
the smugglers, or that they were paid for not doing their duty. I never
saw any fight, or seizure, though I am told such sometimes happen. I
suppose it is in China, as it is in other parts of the world; that men
occasionally do their whole duty, but that they oftener do not. If the
connivance of custom-house officers will justify smuggling in China, it
will justify smuggling in London, and possibly in New York.

We not only smuggled cargo out, but we smuggled cargo in. The favourite
prohibited article was a species of metal, that came in plates, like tin,
or copper, of which we took in large quantities. It was brought to us by
the smuggling-boats, and thrown on board, very much as the opium was taken
out, and we stowed it away in the hold. All this was done in the day-time,
but I never heard of any one's following the article into the ship. Once
there, it appeared to be considered safe. Then we got sycee silver, which
was prohibited for exportation. All came on board in the same manner. For
every box of opium sold, the mate got a china dollar as a perquisite. Of
course my share on four hundred boxes came to one hundred and thirty-three
of these dollars, or about one hundred and sixteen of our own. I am
ashamed to say there was a great deal of cheating all round, each party
evidently regarding the other as rogues, and, instead of "doing as they
_would_ be done by," doing as they _thought_ they _were_ done by.

The Hope sailed as soon as the opium was sold, about a month, and had a
quick passage to Calcutta. I now began to pick up a little Bengalee, and,
before I left the trade, could work a ship very well in the language. The
Lascars were more like monkeys than men aloft, though they wanted
strength. A topsail, that six of our common men would furl, would employ
twenty of them. This was partly from habit, perhaps, though they actually
want physical force. They eat little besides rice, and are small in frame.
We had a curious mode of punishing them, when slack, aloft. Our standing
rigging was of grass, and wiry enough to cut even hands that were used to
it. The ratlines were not seized to the forward and after shrouds, by
means of eyes, as is done in our vessels, but were made fast by a round
turn, and stopping back the ends. We used to take down all the ratlines,
and make the darkies go up without them. In doing this, they took the
rigging between the great and second toe, and walked up, instead of
shinning it, like Christians. This soon gave them sore toes, and they
would beg hard to have the ratlines replaced. On the whole, they were
easily managed, and were respectful and obedient. We had near a hundred of
these fellows in the Hope, and kept them at work by means of a boatswain
and four mates, all countrymen of their own. In addition, we had about
thirty more souls, including the Europeans--Christians, as we were called!

At Calcutta we loaded with cotton, and returned to Canton, having another
short passage. We had no opium in the ship, this time, it being out of
season; but we smuggled cargo in, as before. We lay at Whampao a few
weeks, and returned to Calcutta. By this time the Hope was dying of old
age, and Captain Kyd began to think, if he did not bury her, she might
bury him. Her beams actually dropped, as we removed the cotton at Canton,
though she still remained tight. But it would have been dangerous to
encounter heavy weather in her.

A new ship, called the Hopping Castle, had been built by Captain Kyd's
father-in-law, expressly for him. She was a stout large vessel, and
promised to sail well. The officers wore all transferred to her; but most
of the old Lascars refused to ship, on account of a quarrel with the
boatswain. This compelled us to ship a new set of these men, most of whom
were strangers to us.

By a law of Calcutta, if anything happens to a vessel before she gets to
sea, the people retain the two months' advance it is customary to give
them. This rule brought us into difficulty. The Hopping Castle cleared for
Bombay, with a light cargo. We had dropped down the river, discharged the
pilot, and made sail on our course, when a fire suddenly broke up out of
the fore-hatch. A quantity of grass junk, and two or three cables of the
same material, were in that part of the ship, and they all burnt like
tinder. I went with the other officers and threw overboard the powder,
but it was useless to attempt extinguishing the flames. Luckily, there
were two pilot brigs still near us, and they came alongside and received
all hands. The Hopping Castle burnt to the water's edge, and we saw her
wreck go down. This was a short career for so fine a ship, and it gave us
all great pain; all but the rascals of Lascars. I lost everything I had in
the world in her, but a few clothes I saved in a small trunk. I had little
or no money, Calcutta being no place for economy. In a country in which it
is a distinction to be a white man, and _called_ a Christian, one must
maintain his dignity by a little extravagance.

Captain Kyd felt satisfied that the Lascars had set his ship on fire, and
he had us all landed on Tiger Island. Here the serang, or boatswain, took
the matter in hand, and attempted to find out the facts. I was present at
the proceeding, and witnessed it all. It was so remarkable as to deserve
being mentioned. The men were drawn up in rings, of twenty or thirty each,
and the boatswain stood in the centre. He then put a little white powder
into each man's hand, and ordered him to spit in it. The idea was that the
innocent men would spit without any difficulty, while the mouths of the
guilty would become too dry and husky to allow them to comply. At any
rate, the serang picked out ten men as guilty, and they were sent to
Calcutta to be tried. I was told, afterwards, that all these ten men
admitted their guilt, criminated two more, and that the whole twelve were
subsequently hanged in chains, near Castle William. Of the legal trial and
execution I know nothing, unless by report; but the trial by spittle, I
saw with my own eyes; and it was evident the Lascars looked upon it as a
very serious matter. I never saw criminals in court betray more
uneasiness, than these fellows, while the serang was busy with them.

I was now out of employment. Captain Kyd wished me to go on an indigo
plantation, offering me high wages. I never drank at sea, and had behaved
in a way to gain his confidence, I believe, so that he urged me a good
deal to accept his offers. I would not consent, however, being afraid of
death. There was a Philadelphia ship, called the Benjamin Rush, at
Calcutta, and I determined to join her. By this time, I felt less on the
subject of my disappointment, and had a desire to see home, again. I
shipped, accordingly, in the vessel mentioned, as a foremast hand. We
sailed soon after, and had a pleasant passage to the Capes of the
Delaware, which I now entered, again, for the first time since I had done
so on my return from my original voyage on the Sterling.

As soon as paid off, I proceeded to New York. I was short of cash; and, my
old landlord being dead, I had to look about me for a new ship. This time,
I went in a brig, called the Boxer, a clipper, belonging to John Jacob
Astor, bound to Canton. This proved to be a pleasant and successful
voyage, so far as the vessel was concerned, at least; the brig being back
at New York, again, eight months after we sailed. I went in her before
the mast.

My money was soon gone; and I was obliged to ship again. I now went as
second-mate, in the Trio; an old English prize-ship, belonging to David
Dunham. We were bound to Batavia, and sailed in January. After being a
short time at sea, we found all our water gone, with the exception of one
cask. The remainder had been lost by the bursting of the hoops, in
consequence of the water's having frozen. We went on a short allowance;
and suffered a good deal by the privation. Our supercargo, a young
gentleman of the name of Croes, came near dying. We went on, however,
intending to go into one of the Cape de Verdes. We got up our casks, and
repaired them, in the meanwhile. Off the Island of Fuego, we hove to, and
found we could get no water. We got a few goats, and a little fruit; but
were compelled to proceed. Luckily, it came on to rain very hard, and we
stopped all the scuppers, filling every cask we had, in this easy manner.
We began about eight at night, and were through before morning. Capital
water it proved; and it lasted us to Batavia. There, indeed, it would even
have brought a premium; being so much better than anything to be had in
that port. It changed; but sweetened itself very soon.

We first went into Batavia, and entered the ship; after which, we sailed
for a roadstead, called Terragall, to take in rice. The vessel was in
ballast, and had brought money to make her purchases with. We got our
cargo off in boats, and sailed for Batavia, to clear; all within a few
weeks. The second night out, the ship struck, in fair weather, and a
moderate sea, on a mud-bank; and brought up all standing. We first
endeavoured to force the vessel over the bank; but this did not succeed;
and, the tide leaving her, the ship fell over on her bilge; bringing her
gunwales under water. Luckily, she lay quiet; though a good deal strained.
The captain now took a boat, and four men, and pulled ashore, to get
prows, to lighten the vessel. We had but eight men before the mast, and
six aft. This, of course, left only nine souls on board. That night
nothing occurred; but, in the morning early, two piratical prows
approached, and showed a disposition to board us. Mr. Croes was the person
who saved the ship. He stuck up handspikes, and other objects, about deck;
putting hats and caps on them, so as to make us appear very strong-handed.
At the same time, we got a couple of sixes to bear on the prows; and
succeeded in keeping them at a safe distance. They hovered about until
sunset, when they left us; pulling ashore. Just as they were quitting us,
twenty-seven boats hove in sight; and we made a signal to them, which was
not answered. We set them down as enemies, too; but, as they came nearer,
we perceived our own boat among them, and felt certain it was the captain.

We discharged everything betwixt decks into the boats, that night, and got
the ship afloat before morning. We now hove clear of the bank, restowed
the cargo, and made sail for Batavia. The ship leaked badly, and kept us
hard at the pumps. As there were no means for repairing the vessel where
we were, it was resolved to take in extra hands, ship two box-pumps, and
carry the vessel to the Isle of France, in order to repair her. I did not
like the prospect of such a passage, and confess I played "old soldier" to
get rid of it. I contrived to get, on a sick ticket, into the hospital,
and the ship sailed without me. At the Isle of France, the Trio was
condemned; her hulk being, in truth, much worse than my own, docked
though I was.

Chapter XII.

As soon as the Trio was off, I got well. Little did I then think of the
great risk I ran in going ashore; for it was almost certain death for an
European to land, for any length of time, at that season. Still less did
I, or _could_ I, anticipate what was to happen to myself, in this very
hospital, a few years later; or how long I was to be one of its truly
suffering, and, I hope, repentant inmates. The consul was frank enough to
tell me that I had been shamming Abraham; and I so far imitated his
sincerity as distinctly to state, it was quite true. I thought the old
Trio ought to have been left on the bank, where Providence had placed her;
but, it being the pleasure of her captain and the supercargo to take her
bones to the Isle of France for burial, I did not choose to go so far,
weeping through the pumps, to attend her funeral.

As the consul held my wages, and refused to give me any money, I was
compelled to get on board some vessel as soon as I could. Batavia was not
a place for an American constitution, and I was glad to be off. I shipped,
before the mast, in the Clyde, of Salem, a good little ship, with good
living and good treatment. We sailed immediately, but not soon enough to
escape the Batavia fever. Two of the crew died, about a week out, and were
buried in the Straits of Banca. The day we lost sight of Java Head, it
came on to blow fresh, and we had to take in the jib, and double-reef the
topsails. A man of the name of Day went down on the bowsprit shrouds to
clear the jib-sheets, when the ship made a heavy pitch, and washed him
away. The second mate and myself got into the boat, and were lowered as
soon as the ship was rounded-to. There was a very heavy sea on, but we
succeeded in finding the poor fellow, who was swimming with great apparent
strength. His face was towards the boat, and, as we came near, I rose, and
threw the blade of my oar towards him, calling out to him to be of good
cheer. At this instant, Day seemed to spring nearly his length out of
water, and immediately sunk. What caused this extraordinary effort, and
sudden failure, was never known. I have sometimes thought a shark must
have struck him, though I saw neither blood nor fish. The man was
hopelessly lost, and we returned to the ship, feeling as seamen always
feel on such occasions.

A few days later, another man died of the fever. This left but five of us
in the forecastle, with the ship a long way to the eastward of the Cape of
Good Hope. Before we got up with the Cape, another foremast hand went
crazy, and, instead of helping us, became a cause of much trouble for the
rest of the passage. In the end, he died, mad. We had now only three men
in a watch, the officers included; and of course, it was trick and trick
at the helm. Notwithstanding all this, we did very well, having a good
run, until we got on the coast, which we reached in the month of January.
A north-wester drove us off, and we had a pretty tough week of it, but
brought the ship up to the Hook, at the end of that time, and anchored her
safely in the East River. The Clyde must have been a ship of about three
hundred tons, and, including every one on board, nine of us sailed her
from the eastward of the Cape to her port, without any serious difficulty.

I did not stay long ashore, for the money went like smoke, but shipped in
a brig called the Margaret, bound to Belfast. This vessel struck in the
Irish channel, but she was backed off with little difficulty, and got safe
into her port. The return passage was pleasant, and without any accident.

Such a voyage left little to spend, and I was soon on the look-out for a
fresh berth. I shipped this time as mate, in a brig called the William
Henry, bound on a smuggling voyage to the coast of Spain. We took in
tobacco, segars, &c. &c., and the brig dropped down to Staten Island. Here
I quarrelled with the captain about some cotton wick, and I threw up my
situation. I knew there were more ships than parish churches, and felt no
concern about finding a place in one, up at town. The balance of my
advance was paid back, and I left the smuggling trade, like an honest man.
I only wish this change of purpose had proceeded from a better motive.

My next windfall was Jack's berth on board a beautiful little schooner
called the Ida, that was to sail for Curaçoa, in the hope of being
purchased by the governor of the island or a yacht. I expected to find my
way to the Spanish main, after the craft was sold. We got out without any
accident, going into port of a Sunday morning. The same morning, an
English frigate and a sloop-of-war came in and anchored. That afternoon
these vessels commenced giving liberty to their men. We were alongside of
a wharf, and, in the afternoon, our crew took a drift in some public
gardens in the suburbs of the town. Here an incident occurred that is
sufficiently singular to be mentioned.

I was by myself in the garden, ruminating on the past, and, I suppose,
looking melancholy and in the market, when I perceived an English
man-of-war's-man eyeing me pretty closely. After a while, he came up, and
fell into discourse with me. Something that fell from him made me distrust
him from the first, and I acted with great caution. After sounding me for
some time, he inquired if I had any berth. I told him, no. He then went
on, little by little, until he got such answers as gave him confidence,
when he let me into the secret of his real object. He said he belonged to
the frigate, and had liberty until next morning--that he and four of his
shipmates who were ashore, had determined to get possession of the pretty
little Yankee schooner that was lying alongside of the Telegraph, at the
wharf, and carry her down to Laguayra. All this was to be done that night,
and he wished me to join the party. By what fell from this man, I made no
doubt his design was to turn pirate, after he had sold the flour then in
the Ida. I encouraged him to so on, and we drank together, until he let me
into his whole plan. The scheme was to come on board the schooner, after
the crew had turned in, to fasten all hands below, set the foresail and
jib, and run out with the land-breeze; a thing that was feasible enough,
considering there is never any watch kept in merchant-vessels that lie
at wharves.

After a long talk, I consented to join the enterprise, and agreed to be,
at nine o'clock, on board the Telegraph, a Philadelphia ship, outside of
which our schooner lay. This vessel had a crew of blacks, and, as most of
them were then ashore, it was supposed many would not return to her that
night. My conspirator observed--"the Yankees that belong to the schooner
are up yonder in the garden, and will be half drunk, so they will all be
sound asleep, and can give us little trouble." I remember he professed to
have no intention of hurting any of us, but merely to run away with us,
and sell the craft from under us. We parted with a clear understanding of
the manner in which everything was to be done.

I know no other reason why this man chose to select me for his companion
in such an adventure, than the circumstance that I happened to be alone,
and perhaps I may have looked a little under the weather. He was no sooner
gone, however, than I managed to get near my shipmates, and to call them
out of the garden, one by one. As we went away, I told them all that had
happened, and we laid our counter-plot. When we reached the Telegraph, it
was near night, and finding only two of the blacks on board her, we let
them into the secret, and they joined us, heart and hand. We got something
to drink, as a matter of course, and tried to pass the time as well as we
could, until the hour for springing the mine should arrive.

Pretty punctually to the hour, we heard footsteps on the quay, and then a
gang of men stopped alongside of the ship. We stowed ourselves under the
bulwarks, and presently the gentlemen came on board, one by one. The
negroes were too impatient, however, springing out upon their prey a
little too soon. We secured three of the rascals, but two escaped us, by
jumping down upon the quay and running. Considering we were all captains,
this was doing pretty well.

Our three chaps were Englishmen, and I make no doubt belonged to the
frigate, as stated. As soon as they were fairly pinned, and they
understood there was no officer among us, they began to beg. They said
their lives would be forfeited if we gave them up, and they entreated us
to let them go. We kept them about half an hour, and finally yielded to
their solicitations, giving them their liberty again. They were very
thankful for their escape, especially as I told them what had passed
between myself and the man in the garden. This fellow was one of the two
that escaped, and had the appearance of a man who might very well become a
leader among pirates.

The next day the two men-of-war went to sea, and I make no doubt carried
off the intended pirates in them. As for us seamen, we never told our own
officers anything about the affair, for I was not quite satisfied with
myself, after letting the scoundrels go. One scarcely knows what to do in
such a case, as one does not like to be the means of getting a
fellow-creature hanged, or of letting a rogue escape. A pirate, of all
scoundrels, deserves no mercy, and yet Jack does not relish the idea of
being a sort of Jack Ketch, neither. If the thing were to be done over
again, I think I should hold on to my prisoners.

We discharged our cargo of flour, and failing in the attempt to sell the
schooner, we took in dye-wood, and returned to New York. I now made a
serious attempt to alter my mode of living, and to try to get up a few
rounds of the great ladder of life. Hitherto, I had felt a singular
indifference whether I went to sea as an officer, or as a foremast Jack,
with the exception of the time I had a marriage with Sarah in view. But I
was now drawing near to thirty, and if anything was to be done, it must be
done at once. Looking about me, I found a brig called the Hippomenes,
bound to Gibraltar, and back. I shipped before the mast, but kept a
reckoning, and did all I could to qualify myself to become an officer. We
had a winter passage out, but a pleasant one home. Nothing worthy of being
recorded, however, occurred. I still continued to be tolerably correct,
and after a short stay on shore, I shipped in the Belle Savage, commanded
by one of the liberated Halifax prisoners, who had come home in the Swede,
at the time of my own return. This person agreed to take me as chief mate,
and I shipped accordingly. The Belle Savage was a regular Curacoa trader,
and we sailed ten or twelve days after the Hippomenes got in. Our passages
both ways were pleasant and safe, and I stuck by the craft, endeavouring
to be less thoughtless and careless about myself. I cannot say, however, I
had any very serious plans for making provision for old age, my maxim
being to live as I went along.

Our second passage out to Curacoa, in the Belle Savage, was pleasant, and
brought about nothing worthy of being mentioned. At Curacoa we took in
mahogany, and in so doing a particularly large log got away from us, and
slid, end on, against the side of the vessel. We saw no consequences at
the time, and went on to fill up, with different articles, principally
dye-woods, coffee, cocoa, &c. We got some passengers, among whom was a Jew
merchant, who had a considerable amount of money on board. When ready, we
sailed, being thirty souls in all, crew and passengers included.

The Belle Savage had cleared the islands, and was standing on her course,
one day, with a fair wind and a five or six knot breeze, under a
fore-top-mast studding-sail, everything looking bright and prosperous. The
brig must have been about a day's run to the southward of Bermuda. It was
my watch below, but having just breakfasted, I was on deck, and looking
about me carelessly, I was struck with the appearance of the vessel's
being deeper than common. I had a little conversation about it, with a man
in the forechains, who thought the same thing. This man leaned over, in
order to get a better look, when he called out that he could see that we
had started a butt! I went over, immediately, and got a look at this
serious injury. A butt had started, sure enough, just under the chains,
but so low down as to be quite out of our reach. The plank had started
quite an inch, and it was loosened as much as two feet, forward and aft.
We sounded the pumps, as soon as possible, and found the brig was half
full of water!

All hands were now called to get both the boats afloat, and there was
certainly no time to be lost. The water rose over the cabin-floor while we
were doing it. We did not stand to get up tackles, but cut away the rail
and launched the long-boat by hand. We got the passengers, men, women,
children, and servants into her, as fast as possible, and followed
ourselves. Fortunately, there had been a brig in company for some time,
and she was now less than two leagues ahead of us, outsailing the Belle
Savage a little. We had hoisted our ensign, union down, as a signal of
distress, and well knew she must see that our craft had sunk, after it
happened, if she did not observe our ensign. She perceived the signal,
however, and could not fail to notice the manner in which the brig was all
adrift, as soon as we deserted the helm. The strange brig had hauled up
for us even before we got out the launch. This rendered any supply of food
or water unnecessary, and we were soon ready to shove off. I was in the
small boat, with three men. We pulled off a little distance, and lay
looking at our sinking craft with saddened eyes. Even the gold, that
precious dust which lures so many souls to eternal perdition, was
abandoned in the hurry to save the remnants of lives to be passed on
earth. The Belle Savage settled quite slowly into the ocean, one sail
disappearing after another, her main-royal being the last thing that went
out of sight, looking like the lug of a man-of-war's boat on the water. It
is a solemn thing to see a craft thus swallowed up in the great vortex of
the ocean.

The brig in sight proved to be the Mary, of New York, from St. Thomas,
bound home. She received us kindly, and six days later landed us all at no
great distance from Fulton Market. When my foot touched the wharf, my
whole estate was under my hat, and my pockets were as empty as a vessel
with a swept hold. On the wharf, itself, I saw a man who had been
second-mate of the Tontine, the little ship in which I had sailed when I
first ran from the Sterling. He was now master of a brig called the
Mechanic, that was loading near by, for Trinidad de Cuba. He heard my
story, and shipped me on the spot, at nine dollars a month, as a forward
hand. I began to think I was born to bad luck, and being almost naked, was
in nowise particular what became of me. I had not the means of getting a
mate's outfit, though I might possibly have got credit; but at no period
of my life did I run in debt. Here, then, my craft got stern-way on her
again, and I had a long bit of rough water to go over.

The Mechanic sailed four or five days after the Mary arrived, and I
travelled the old road over again. Nothing happened until we got to the
southward of Cuba. But my bad luck had thrown me into the West India trade
at the very moment when piracy was coming to its height in those seas,
though I never thought on the subject at all. Off the Isle of Pines, one
morning, we made a schooner and a sloop, in-shore of us, and both bore up
in chase. We knew them to be pirates, and crowded sail dead before the
wind to get clear. The captain determined, if necessary, to run down as
far as Jamaica, where he expected to fall in with some of the English
cruisers. The schooner sailed very fast, and was for coming up with us,
but they made the mistake of setting a flying-topsail on board her, and
from that moment we dropped her. It was thought in our brig, that the
little craft buried too much, with such a pressure aloft. The chase lasted
all day, a Sunday, and a part of the night; but the following morning
nothing was to be seen of either of our pursuers. Our captain, whose name
was Ray, thought he knew who commanded the schooner, a man who had been
his enemy, and it was believed the pirates knew our brig, as she was a
regular trader to Trinidad. This made our captain more ticklish, and was
the reason he was off so soon.

When we found the coast clear, we hauled up, again, and made our port
without further molestation. The chase was so common a thing, that little
was said about the affair. We discharged, took in a new cargo, and sailed
for home in due time. Care was had in sailing at an early hour, and we
sent a boat out to look if the coast were clear, before we put to sea. We
met with no interruption, however, reaching New York in due time.

Captain Ray was desirous I should stick by the brig; but, for some reason
I cannot explain, I felt averse to returning to Trinidad. I liked the
vessel well enough, was fond of the captain, and thought little of the
pirates; and yet I felt an unaccountable reluctance to re-shipping in the
craft. It was well I had this feeling, for, I have since heard, this very
schooner got the brig the next passage out, murdered all hands, and burnt
the vessel, in sight of the port! I set this escape down, as one of the
many unmerited favours I have received from Providence.

My next berth was that of second-mate on board a new ship, in the
Charleston trade, called the Franklin. I made the voyage, and, for a
novelty, did not run in the southern port, which was a rare circumstance
in that place.

I got but twelve dollars, as dickey, in the Franklin, and left her to get
twenty, with the same berth, on board a ship called the Foster, commanded
by the same master as had commanded the Jane, in my former voyage to
Ireland. The Foster was bound to Belfast, which port we reached without
any accident. We took in salt, and a few boxes of linens, for Norfolk;
arrived safe, discharged, and went up the James river to City Point, after
a cargo of tobacco. Thence we sailed for Rotterdam. The ship brought back
a quantity of gin to New York, and this gin caused me some trouble. We had
a tremendous passage home--one of the worst I ever experienced at sea. The
ship's rudder got loose, and was secured with difficulty. We had to reef
all three of our top-masts, also, to save the spars; after which we could
only carry double-reefed topsails. It was in the dead of winter, and the
winds hung to the westward for a long time. The cook, a surly negro, was
slack in duty, and refused to make scous for us, though there were plenty
of potatoes on board. All the people but five were off duty, and it came
hard on those who kept watch. We determined, at length, to bring the black
to his senses, and I had him seized to the windlass. Everybody but the
captain took three clips at him; the fellow being regularly cobbed,
according to sea usage. This was lawful punishment for a cook.

We got our scous after this, but the negro logged the whole transaction,
as one may suppose. He was particularly set against me, as I had been
ringleader in the cobbing. The weather continued bad, the watches were
much fagged, and the ship gave no grog. At length I could stand it no
longer, or thought I could not; and I led down betwixt decks, tapped a
cask of gin, introduced the stem of a clean pipe and took a nip at the
bowl. All my watch smoked this pipe pretty regularly, first at one cask
and then at another, until we got into port. The larboard watch did the
same, and I do think the strong liquor helped us along that time. As bad
luck would have it, the cook's wood was stowed among the casks, and, one
morning, just as the last of us had knocked off smoking, we saw the wool
of this gentleman heaving in sight, through the hatch by which we went
down. Still, nothing was said until we came to be paid off, when the darky
came out with his yarn. I owned it all, and insisted we never could have
brought the ship in, unless we had got the gin. I do believe both captain
and owner were sorry we had been complained of, but they could not
overlook the matter. I was mulcted five-and-twenty dollars, and left the
ship. I know I did wrong, and I know that the owners did what was right;
but I cannot help thinking, bad as gin is on a long pull, that this did us
good. I was not driven from the ship; on the contrary, both master and
Owners wished me to remain; but I felt a little savage, and quitted their

That I did not carry a very bad character away with me, is to be proved by
the fact that I shipped, the same day, on board the Washington, a vessel
bound to London, and which lay directly alongside of the Foster. I had the
same berth as that I had just left, with the advantage of getting better
wages. This voyage carried me to London for the first time since I left it
in the Sterling. Too many years had elapsed, in the interval, for me to
find any old acquaintances; and I had grown from a boy to a man. Here I
got a little insight into the business of carrying passengers, our ship
bringing more or less, each passage. I stuck by the Washington a year,
making no less than three voyages in her; the last, as her chief mate.
Nothing occurred worth mentioning in the four first passages across the
Atlantic; but the fifth produced a little more variety.

The Washington had proved to be a leaky ship, every passage I made in her.
We had docked her twice in London, and it had done her good. The first
week out, on the fifth passage, the ship proved tight, but the weather was
moderate. It came on to blow heavily, however, when we got to the eastward
of the Banks; and the vessel, which was scudding under her close-reefed
main-topsail and foresail, laboured so much, that I became uneasy. I knew
she was overloaded, and was afraid of the effects of a gale. It was my
practice to keep one pump ready for sounding the wells, and I never
neglected this duty in my watch. When the gale was at the height, in my
forenoon's watch below, I felt so uncomfortable, that I turned out and
went on deck, in nothing but my trowsers, to sound, although I had sounded
less than two hours before, and found the water at the sucking-height,
only. To my surprise, it was now three feet!

This change was so great and so sudden, all of us thought there must be
some mistake. I carried the rod below, to dry it, and covered the lower
part with ashes. I could not have been busy in drying the rod more than
ten or fifteen minutes, when it was lowered again. The water had risen
several inches in that short period!

All this looked very serious; and I began to think a third raft was to
founder under me. After a short consultation it was determined to lighten
the ship. The foresail was hauled up, the men got into the rigging to keep
clear of the seas, and the vessel was rounded-to. We then knocked away the
wash-boards in the wake of the two hatches, and began to tumble the
barrels of turpentine on deck. I never felt so strong in my life, nor did
so much work in so short a time. During the labour I went below to splice
the main-brace, and, after putting a second-mate's nip of brandy into my
glass, filled it, as I supposed, with water, drinking it all down without
stopping to breathe. It turned out that my water was high-proof gin; yet
this draught had no more effect on me than if it had been so much cold
water. In ordinary times, it would have made me roaring drunk.

We tumbled up all the cargo from betwixt decks, landing it on deck, where
it rolled into the sea of itself, and were about to begin upon the lower
hold, when the captain called out avast, as the pumps gained fast. Half an
hour later, they sucked. This was joyful news, indeed, for I had begun to
think we should be driven to the boats. Among the cargo were some pickled
calf-skins. In the height of the danger I caught the cook knocking the
head out of a cask, and stowing some of the skins in a tub. Asking the
reason why he did this, he told me he wanted to take some of those fine
skins home with him! It was a pity they should be lost!

As soon as the pumps sucked, the ship was kept away to her course, and she
proved to be as tight as a bottle. Eight or ten days later, while running
on our course under studding-sails, we made a large vessel ahead, going
before the wind like ourselves, but carrying reefed topsails, with
top-gallant-sails over them, and her ensign whipped. Of course we neared
her fast, and as we came up with her, saw that she was full of men, and
that her crew were pumping and bailing. We knew how to pity the poor
fellows, and running alongside, demanded the news. We were answered first
with three cheers, after which we heard their story.

The vessel was an English bark, full of soldiers, bound to New Brunswick.
She had sprung a leak, like ourselves, and was only kept afloat by
constant pumping and bailing. She had put back for England on account of
the wind and the distance. Our captain was asked to keep near the
transport, and we shortened sail accordingly. For three days and nights
the two vessels ran side by side, within hail; our passengers and officers
drinking to theirs, and _vice versâ_, at dinner. On the fourth day, the
weather being fine, the wind fair, and our reckoning making us near the
channel, we told the Englishman we would run ahead, make the land, and
heave-to. We stood in so far that the poor fellows owned afterwards they
thought we had left them. This was not our intention, however, for we no
sooner made the land than we hauled up, and brought them the joyful news
of its vicinity. They cheered us again, as we closed with them, and both
ships jogged on in company.

Next morning, being well in with the land, and many vessels in sight, the
Englishmen desired us to make sail, as they could carry their bark into
Falmouth. We did so, and reached London, in due time. On our return to New
York, the Washington was sold, and I lost my preferment in that
employment, though I went with a character to another vessel, and got the
same berth.

Chapter XIII.

My next craft was the Camillus, a ship that was bound to Greenock, via
Charleston. We got to the latter port without accident, and took in a
cargo of cotton. The ship was all ready for sailing of a Saturday, and the
captain had gone ashore, telling me he would be on board early in the
morning, when we could haul out and go to sea, should the wind be
favourable. I gave the people their Saturday's night, and went into the
cabin to freshen the nip, myself. I took a glass or two, and certainly had
more in me than is good for a man, though I was far from being downright
drunk. In a word, I had too much, though I could have carried a good deal
more, on a pinch. The steward had gone ashore, and there being no
second-mate, I was all alone.

In this state of things, I heard a noise, and went on deck to inquire
what was the matter. My old ship, the Franklin, was shifting her berth,
and her jib-boom had come foul of our taffrail. After some hailing, I got
on the taffrail to shove our neighbour off, when, by some carelessness of
my own, I fell head-foremost, hitting the gunwale of the boat, which was
hanging, about half way up to the davits, into the water. The tide set me
away, and carried me between the wharf and the ship astern of us, which
happened to be the William Thompson, Captain Thompson, owner Thompson,
mate Thompson, and all Thompson, as Mathews used to have it. Captain
Thompson was reading near the cabin windows, and he luckily heard me
groan. Giving the alarm, a boat was got round, and I taken in. As the
night was dark, and I lost all consciousness after the fall, I consider
this escape as standing second only to that from the shark in the West
Indies, and old Trant's gun, the night the Scourge went down. I did not
recover my recollection for several hours. This was not the effect of
liquor, but of the fall, as I remember everything distinctly that occurred
before I went from the taffrail. Still I confess that liquor did all the
mischief, as I had drunk just enough to make me careless.

In the morning, I found myself disabled in the left arm, and I went to a
doctor. This gentleman said he never told a fellow what ailed him until he
got his whack. I gave him a dollar, and he then let me into the secret. My
collar-bone was broken. "And, now," says he, "for another dollar I'll
patch you up." I turned out the other Spaniard, when he was as good as his
word. Going in the ship, however, was out of the question, and I was
obliged to get a young man to go on board the Camillus in my place; thus
losing the voyage and my berth.

I was now ashore, with two or three months of drift before me. Since the
time I joined the Washington, I had been going regularly ahead, and I do
think had I been able to stick by the Camillus, I might have brought up a
master. I had laid up money, and being employed while in port, I was
gradually losing my taste for sailor amusements, and getting more respect
for myself. That fall from the Jaffrail was a sad drawback for me, and I
never recovered the lee-way it brought about.

I was more than two months ashore, behaving myself rationally on account
of my arm. At the end of that time, I went on board the Sally, a ship also
bound to Greenock, as her second-mate. This vessel belonged to Charleston,
and it was intended she should return to her own port. The voyage turned
out well, and my arm got as strong as ever. On reaching Charleston, I left
the craft, which was laid up, and shipped in a schooner of the same name,
bound to St. Domingo, as her chief mate. This was no great craft,
certainly, though she proved a tight, wholesome sea-boat. We went out
without any accident, arriving in safety at Cape Henry. After discharging
cargo, and smuggling on board a quantity of doubloons--four hundred and
eighty, it was said--we got under way for the island of Cuba. We intended
to go into Matanzas, and kept along the coast. After crossing the Windward
Passage, we reached Cuba; and were standing on, with a light wind, under
our square-sail, the morning of the third day out, when we saw a large
boat, carrying two sails, standing out from the shore, evidently in chase
of the schooner. We had on board eight souls, viz. the owner, a Frenchman,
who had been a dragoon in the service of his own country, but who was now
between seventy and eighty; the captain, myself, a boy, the cook, and four
men forward. We could see that there were nine men in the boat. We had no
arms in the schooner, not even a pistol, and the men in the boat had
muskets. We did not ascertain this last fact, however, for some time. I
thought the strangers pirates the moment I saw them come out from under
the land, but the captain maintained that they were turtle-men. The boat
was rowing, and came up with us, hand over hand. When near, they commenced
firing muskets at us, to drive us below. All the crew forward, with the
cook, ran down into the forecastle, leaving no one on deck but the
captain, the old Frenchman, and myself. The boy got into the

What the others did on deck, as these gentry came alongside, amusing
themselves with keeping up a smart fire of musketry, I do not know; but my
own occupation was to dodge behind the foremast. It was not long, however,
before they came tumbling in, and immediately got possession of the
schooner. One or two came forward and secured the forecastle hatch, to
keep the people down. Then they probably felt that they were masters. One
chap drew a fearful-looking knife, long, slender, sharp and glittering,
and he cut the halyards of the square-sail. All the men I saw in the
schooner struck me as Americans, or English, affecting to be Spaniards.
There is such a difference in the height, complexion, and general
appearance of the people of Spain, and those of the two other countries,
without reference to the manner of speaking, that I do not think I could
be mistaken. I saw but one man among these pirates, whom I took for a real
Spaniard. It is true their faces were all blacked to disguise them, but
one could get enough glimpses of the skin to judge of the true colour.
There was no negro among them.

The chap who cut away the square-sail halyards, I felt certain was no
Spaniard. The sail was no sooner down, than he ran his knife along the
head, below the bolt-rope, as if to cut away the cloth with the least
trouble to himself. I was standing near, and asked him why he destroyed
the sail; if he wanted it, why he did not take it whole? At this, he
turned short round upon me, raised his arm, and struck a heavy blow at me
with his fearful-looking knife. The point of the deadly weapon struck
square on my breast-bone! I fell, partly through the force of the blow,
and partly from policy; for I thought it safest to be lying on my back. I
got several hearty kicks, in addition to this fierce attack, together with
sundry curses in broken Spanish. I spoke in English, of course; and that
the man understood me was clear enough by the expression of his
countenance, and his act. The wound was slight, though it bled a good
deal, covering my shirt and trowsers with blood, as much as if I had been
run through the heart. An inch or two, either way, in the direction of the
knife, would certainly have killed me.

I do not know what might haye been the end of this affair, had not one of
the pirates come forward, at this critical instant, and checked my
assailant by shaking a finger at him. This man, I feel very certain, I
knew. I will not mention his name, as there is a doubt; but I cannot think
I was mistaken. If I am right, he was a young man from Connecticut, who
sailed one voyage to Liverpool with me in The Sterling. With that young
man I had been very intimate, and was oftener with him ashore than with
any other of the crew. His face was blackened, like those of all his
companions, but this did not conceal his air, manner, size, eyes and
voice. When he spoke, it was in a jargon of broken English and broken
Spanish, such as no man accustomed to either language from infancy would
have used. The same was true as to all the rest I heard speak, with the
exception of an old fellow in the boat, whom I shall presently have
occasion to mention, again.

The man I took to be my old shipmate, also seemed to know me. I was but a
lad when I quitted the Sterling, it is true; but they tell me I have not
altered a great deal in general appearance. My hair is still black; and
then, when I was in the very prime of life, it must have been easy to
recognize me. So strongly was I impressed, at the time, that I saw an old
acquaintance, I was about to call him by name, when, luckily, it crossed
my mind this might be dangerous. The pirates wished clearly to be unknown,
and it was wisest to let them think they were so. My supposed shipmate,
however, proved my friend, and I received no more personal ill treatment
after he had spoken to his companion. I sometimes think he was the means,
indeed, of saving all our lives. He asked me if there was any money, and,
on my denying it, he told me they knew better: the schooner was in
ballast, and must have got something for her outward cargo. I refused to
tell, and he ordered me into their boat, whither the captain had been sent
before me. In doing all this, his manner wore an appearance, to me, of
assumed severity.

The poor old Frenchman fared worse. They seemed to know he was owner, and
probably thought he could give the best account of the money. At any rate,
he was unmercifully flogged, though he held out to the last, refusing to
betray his doubloons. The boy was next attacked-with threats of throwing
him overboard. This extracted the secret, and the doubloons were soon

The captain and myself had been stowed under a half-deck, in the boat, but
as soon as the money was found, the old Spaniard, who stood sentinel over
us, was told to let us out, that we might see the fun. There were the
eight scoundrels, paraded around the trunk of the schooner, dividing the
doubloons. As soon as this was done, we were told to come alongside with
our boat, which had been used to carry us to the piratical craft. The
captain got on board the Sally and I was ordered to scull the rogues, in
one gang, back to their own craft. The scamps were in high spirits,
seeming much pleased with their haul. They cracked a good many jokes at
our expense, but were so well satisfied with their gold, that they left
the square-sail behind them. They had robbed the cabin, however, carrying
off, for me, a quadrant, a watch, and a large portion of my clothes. The
forecastle had not been entered, though the men had four hundred dollars
lying under a pile of dirt and old junk, to keep them out of sight.

My supposed shipmate bore me in mind to the last. When we reached his
craft, he poured out a glass of brandy and offered it to me. I was afraid
to drink, thinking it might be poisoned. He seemed to understand me, and
swallowed it himself, in a significant manner. This gave me courage, and I
took the next nip without hesitation. He then told me to shove off, which
I did without waiting for a second order. The pirates pulled away at the
same time.

We were a melancholy party, as soon as we found ourselves left to
ourselves. The old Frenchman was sad enough, and all of us pitied him. He
made no complaint of the boy, notwithstanding, and little was said among
us about the robbery. My wound proved trifling, though the old man was so
bruised and beaten that he could scarcely walk.

As soon as a breeze came, we went into Charleston, having no means to buy
the cargo we had intended to get at Matanzas. This was the first time I
was ever actually boarded by a pirate, although I had had several narrow
escapes before. The first was in the Sterling, off the coast of Portugal;
the next was in the William and Jane, outward bound to Canton; the third
was on the bank, in the Trio, off the coast of Java; and the fourth, in
the Mechanic, on the other side of Cuba. It was not the last of my affairs
with them, however, as will be seen in the sequel.

I went out in the Sally again, making a voyage to Matanzas and back,
without any accident, or incident, worth mentioning. I still intended to
remain in this schooner, the captain and I agreeing perfectly well, had I
not been driven out of her by one of those unlucky accidents, of which so
many have laid me athwart-hawse.

We were discharging sugar at Charleston, in very heavy casks. The tide
being in, the vessel's rail was higher than the wharf, and we landed the
casks on the rail, from which they were rolled down some planks to the
shore. Two negroes were stationed on the wharf to receive the casks, and
to ease them down. One of these fellows was in the practice of running up
the planks, instead of standing at their side and holding on to the end of
the hogsheads. I remonstrated with him several times about the danger he
ran, but he paid no attention to what I said. At length my words came
true; a cask got away from the men, and rolled directly over this negro,
flattening him like a bit of dough.

This was clearly an accident, and no one thought of accusing me of any
connection with it. But the owner of the black looked upon him as one
would look upon a hack-horse that had been lamed, or killed; and he came
down to the schooner, on hearing that his man was done for, swearing I
should pay for him! As for paying the price of an athletic "nigger," it
was even more impossible for me, than it would seem it is for the great
State of Pennsylvania to pay the interest on its debt; and, disliking a
lawsuit, I carried my dunnage on board another vessel that same afternoon,
and agreed to work my passage to New York, as her second-mate.

The vessel I now went on board of was the Commodore Rodgers, a regular
liner between the two ports. We sailed next morning, and I paid for the
poor "nigger" with the fore-topsail. The ship's husband was on board as we
hauled out, a man who was much in the habit of abusing the mates. On this
occasion he was particularly abusive to our chief mate; so much so,
indeed, that I remonstrated with the latter on his forbearance. Nothing
came of it, however, though I could not forget the character of the man
who had used such language. When we reached New York, our chief mate left
us, and I was offered the berth. It was a little hazardous to go back to
Charleston, but wages were low, and business dull, the yellow fever being
in New York, and I thought, by a little management, I might give my
"nigger owner" a sufficient berth. I accordingly agreed to go.

When we got back to Charleston, our ship lay at her own wharf, and I saw
nothing of my chap. He worked up town, and we lay low down, But another
misfortune befel me, that led even to worse consequences. The ship's
husband, who was so foul-mouthed, was as busy as ever, blackguarding right
and left, and finding fault with everything. Our cargo was nearly out, and
this man and I had a row about some kegs of white lead. In the course of
the dialogue, he called me "a saucy son of a b--h." This was too much for
my temper, and I seized him and sent him down the hatchway. The fall was
not great, and some hemp lay in the wake of the hatch; but the chap's
collar-bone went. He sung out like a singing-master, but I did not stop to
chime in. Throwing my slate on deck in a high passion, I left the ship and
went ashore. I fell in with the captain on the wharf, told him my story,
got a promise from him to send me my clothes, and vanished. In an hour or
two, half the constables in Charleston were in chase of me. I kept so
close they could not find me, lying snug for a couple of days.

This state of things could not last for ever. The constables were not half
so ferocious as they seemed; for one of them managed to get me off, on
board a coaster, called the Gov. Russel; where I engaged, I may say, as
chief mate and all hands. The Gov. Russel was a Buford trader, making
trips about fifteen or twenty leagues long. This was the smallest
navigation, and the smallest craft, a gun-boat excepted, with which I ever
had anything to do. The crew consisted of two negroes, both slaves to the
owner, while the captain and myself were aft. Whether she would have held
so many, or not, I never knew, as the captain did not join, while I
belonged to her. The schooner lay three miles below the town; and, in so
much, was a good craft for me; as no one would think of following an old
Canton trader into such a 'long-shore-looking thing. We busied ourselves
in painting her, and in overhauling her rigging, while the ship's husband,
and his myrmidons, amused themselves in searching for me up in town.

I had been on board the Gov. Russel three days, when it came on to blow
from the southward and westward, in true southern style. The gale came on
butt-end foremost; and was thought to be as severe, as anything seen in
the port for many a year. Most of the shipping broke adrift from the
wharves; and everything that was anchored, a man-of-war and a
revenue-cutter excepted, struck adrift, or dragged. As for ourselves, we
were lying at single anchor; and soon began to walk down towards the bar.
I let go the spare anchor; but she snapped her cables, as if they had been
pack-thread; and away she went to leeward. Making sail was out of the
question, had any been bent, as ours were not; and I had to let her travel
her own road.

All this happened at night; when it was so dark, one could not see,
between the spray, the storm and the hour, the length of the craft. I knew
we were going towards the ocean; and my great cause of apprehension was
the bar. Looking for the channel, was out of the question; I did not know
it, in the first place; and, had I been a branch-pilot, I could not find
it in the dark. I never was more completely adrift, in my life, ashore or
afloat. We passed a most anxious hour, or two; the schooner driving,
broadside-to, I knew not whither, or to what fate. The two blacks were
frightened out of their wits; and were of no assistance to me.

At length, I felt the keel come down upon the sands; and then I knew we
were on the bar. This happened amid a whirlwind of spray; with nothing
visible but the white foam of the waters, and the breakers around us. The
first blow threw both masts out of the steps; ripping up the decks to a
considerable extent. The next minute we were on our beam-ends; the sea
making a clear breach over us. All we could do, was to hold on; and this
we did with difficulty. I and the two blacks got on the weather-quarter of
the schooner, where we lashed ourselves with the main-sheet. As this was a
stout rope, something must part, before we could be washed away. The craft
made but two raps on the bar, when she drifted clear.

I now knew we were at sea, and were drifting directly off the coast. As we
got into deep water, the sea did not make such terrible surges over us;
though they continued to break over our quarter. The masts were thumping
away; but for this I cared little, the hold being full of water already.
Sink we could not, having a wept hold, and being built, in a great
measure, of pine. The schooner floated with about five feet of her
quarter-deck above water. Her bows had settled the most; and this gave us
rather a better chance aft.

Fortunately, we got the worst of this blow at the first go off. The wind
began to lessen in strength soon after we passed the bar, and by day-light
it only blew a stiff breeze. No land was in sight, though I knew, by the
colour of the water, that we could not be a very great distance from the
coast. We had come out on an ebb-tide, and this had set us off the land,
but all that southern coast is so low, that it was not to be seen from the
surface of the ocean at any great distance.

The day that succeeded was sad and dreary enough. The weather was fine,
the sun coming out even hot upon us, but the wind continued to blow fresh
off the land, and we were drifting further out, every instant, upon the
bosom of the ocean. Our only hope was in falling in with some coaster, and
I began to dread drifting outside of their track. We were without food or
water, and were partly seated on the rail, and partly supported by the
main-sheet. Neither of us attempted to change his berth that day. Little
was said between us, though I occasionally encouraged the negroes to hold
on, as something would yet pick us up. I had a feeling of security on this
head that was unreasonable, perhaps; but a sanguine temperament has ever
made me a little too indifferent to consequences.

Night brought no change, unless it was to diminish the force of the wind.
A short time before the sun set, one of the negroes said to me, "Masser
Ned, John gone." I was forward of the two blacks, and was not looking at
them at the time; I suppose I may have been dozing; but, on looking up, I
found that one of the negroes had, indeed, disappeared. How this happened
I cannot say, as he appeared to be well lashed; but I suppose he worked
himself free, and being exhausted, he fell into the water, and sunk before
I could get a glimpse of him. There was nothing to be done, however, and
the loss of this man had a tendency to make me think our situation worse
than it had before seemed to be. Some persons, all good Christians I
should suppose, will feel some curiosity to know whether a man in my
situations had no disposition to take a religious view of his case, and
whether his conscience did not apprise him of the chances of perdition
that seemed to stare him in the face. In answer to this, I am compelled to
say that no such thoughts came over me. In all my risks and emergencies, I
am not sensible of having given a thought to my Maker. I had a sense of
fear, an apprehension of death, and an instinctive desire to save my life,
but no consciousness of the necessity of calling on any being to save my
soul. Notwithstanding all the lessons I had received in childhood, I was
pretty nearly in the situation of one who had never heard the name of the
Saviour mentioned. The extent of my reflections on such subjects, was the
self-delusion of believing that I was to save myself--I had done no great
harm, according to the notions of sailors; had not robbed; had not
murdered; and had observed the mariner's code of morals, so far as I
understood them; and this gave me a sort of _claim_ on the mercy of God.
In a word, the future condition of my soul gave me no trouble whatever.

I dare say my two companions on this little wreck had the same
indifference on this subject, as I felt myself. I heard no prayer, no
appeal to God for mercy, nothing indeed from any of us, to show that we
thought at all on the subject. Hunger gave me a little trouble, and during
the second night I would fall into a doze, and wake myself up by dreaming
of eating meals that were peculiarly grateful to me. I have had the same
thing happen on other occasions, when on short allowance of food. Neither
of the blacks said anything on the subject of animal suffering, and the
one that was lost, went out, as it might be, like a candle.

The sun rose on the morning of the second day bright and clear. The wind
shifted about this time, to a gentle breeze from the southward and
eastward. This was a little encouraging, as it was setting the schooner
in-shore again, but I could discover nothing in sight. There was still a
good deal of sea going, and we were so low in the water, that our range of
sight was very limited.

It was late in the forenoon, when the negro called out, suddenly, "Massa
Ned, dere a vessel!" Almost at the same instant, I heard voices calling
out; and, looking round I saw a small coasting schooner, almost upon us.
She was coming down before the wind, had evidently seen us some time
before we saw her, and now ranged up under our lee, and hove-to. The
schooner down boat, and took us on board without any delay. We moved with
difficulty, and I found my limbs so stiff as to be scarcely manageable.
The black was in a much worse state than I was myself, and I think twelve
hours longer would have destroyed both of us.

The schooner that picked us up was manned entirely with blacks, and was
bound into Charleston. At the time she fell in with us, we must have been
twenty miles from the bar, it taking us all the afternoon, with a fair
wind, to reach it. We went below, and as soon as I got in the cabin, I
discovered a kettle of boiled rice, on which I pounced like a hawk. The
negroes wished to get it away from me, thinking I should injure myself;
but I would not part with it. The sweetest meal I ever had in my life, was
this rice, a fair portion of which, however, I gave to my companion. We
had not fasted long enough materially to weaken our stomachs, and no ill
consequences followed from the indulgence. After eating heartily, we both
lay down on the cabin floor, and went to sleep. We reached the wharf about
eight in the evening. Just within the bar, the schooner was spoken by a
craft that was going out in search of the Gov. Russel. The blacks told her
people where the wreck was to be found, and the craft stood out to sea.

I was strong enough to walk up to my boarding-house, where I went again
into quarantine. The Gov. Russel was found, towed into port, was repaired,
and went about her business, as usual, in the Buford trade. I never saw
her or her captain again, however. I parted with the negro that was saved
with me, on the wharf, and never heard anything about him afterwards,
either. Such is the life of a sailor!

I was still afraid of the constables. So much damage had been done to more
important shipping, and so many lives lost, however, that little was said
of the escape of the Gov. Russel. Then I was not known in this schooner by
my surname. When I threw the ship's husband down the hold, I was Mr.
Myers; when wrecked in the coaster, only Ned.

Chapter XIV.

Notwithstanding my comparative insignificance, there was no real security
in remaining long in Charleston, and it was my strong desire to quit the
place. As "beggars cannot be choosers," I was glad to get on board the
schooner Carpenter, bound to St. Mary's and Philadelphia, for, and with,
ship-timber, as a foremast hand. I got on board undetected, and we sailed
the same day. Nothing occurred until after we left St. Mary's, when we met
with a singular accident. A few days out, it blowing heavy at the time,
our deck-load pressed so hard upon the beams as to loosen them, and the
schooner filled as far as her cargo--yellow pine--would allow. This
calamity proceeded from the fact, that the negroes who stowed the craft
neglected to wedge up the beams; a precaution that should never be
forgotten, with a heavy weight on deck. No very serious consequences
followed, however, as we managed to drive the craft ahead, and finally got
her into Philadelphia, with all her cargo on board. We did not lose a
stick, which showed that our captain was game, and did not like to let go
when he had once got hold. This person was a down-easter, and was well
acquainted with the Johnstons and Wiscasset. He tried hard to persuade me
to continue in the schooner as mate, with a view to carrying me back to my
old friends; but I turned a deaf ear to his advice. To own the truth, I
was afraid to go back to Wiscassett. My own desertion could not well be
excused, and then I was apprehensive the family might attribute to me the
desertion and death of young Swett. He had been my senior, it is true, and
was as able to influence me as I was to influence him; but conscience is a
thing so sensitive, that, when we do wrong, it is apt to throw the whole
error into our faces.

Quitting the Carpenter in Philadelphia, therefore, I went to live in a
respectable boarding-house, and engaged to go out in a brig called the
Margaret, working on board as a rigger and stevedore, until she should be
ready to sail. My berth was to be that of mate. The owner of this brig was
as notorious, in his way, as the ship's husband in Charleston I had heard
his character, and was determined, if he attempted to ride me, as he was
said to do many of his mates, and even captains, he should find himself
mounted on a hard-going animal. One day, things came to a crisis. The
owner was on the wharf, with me, and such a string of abuse as he launched
out upon me, I never before listened to. A crowd collected, and my blood
got up. I seized the man, and dropped him off the wharf into the water,
alongside of some hoop-poles, that I knew must prevent any accident. In
this last respect, I was sufficiently careful, though the ducking was very
thorough. The crowd gave three cheers, which I considered as a proof I was
not so very wrong. Nothing was said of any suit on this occasion; but I
walked off, and went directly on board a ship called the Coromandel, on
which I had had an eye, as a lee, for several days. In this vessel I
shipped as second-mate; carrying with me all the better character for the
ducking given to the notorious--------.

The Coromandel was bound to Cadiz, and thence round the Horn. The outward
bound cargo was flour, but to which ports we were going in South America,
I was ignorant. Our crew were all blacks, the officers excepted. We had a
good passage, until we got off Cape Trafalgar, when it came on to blow
heavily, directly on end. We lay-to off the Cape two days, and then ran
into Gibraltar, and anchored. Here we lay about a fortnight, when there
came on a gale from the south-west, which sent a tremendous sea in from
the Atlantic. This gale commenced in the afternoon, and blew very heavily
all that night. The force of the wind increased, little by little, until
it began to tell seriously among the shipping, of which a great number
were lying in front of the Rock. The second day of the gale, our ship was
pitching bows under, sending the water aft to the taffrail, while many
other craft struck adrift, or foundered at their anchors. The Coromandel
had one chain cable, and this was out. It was the only cable we used for
the first twenty-four hours. As the gale increased, however, it was
thought necessary to let go the sheet-anchor, which had a hempen cable
bent to it. Our chain, indeed, was said to be the first that was ever used
out of Philadelphia, though it had then been in the ship for some time,
and had proved itself a faithful servant the voyage before. Unfortunately,
most of the chain was out before we let go the sheet-anchor, and there was
no possibility of getting out a scope of the hempen cable. Dragging on
shore, where we lay, was pretty much out of the question, as the bottom
shelved inward, and the anchor, to come home, must have gone up hill.[14]

In this manner the Coromandel rode for two nights and two days, the sea
getting worse and worse, and the wind, it anything, rather increasing. We
took the weight of the last in squalls, some of which were terrific. By
this time the bay was well cleared of craft, nearly everything having
sunk, or gone ashore. An English packet lay directly ahead of us, rather
more than a cable's length distant, and she held on like ourselves. The
Governor Brooks, of Boston, lay over nearer to Algesiras, where the sea
and wind were a little broken, and, of course, she made better weather
than ourselves.

About eight o'clock, the third night, I was in the cabin, when the men on
deck sung out that the chain had gone. At this time the ship had been
pitching her spritsail-yard under water, and it blew a little hurricane.
We were on deck in a moment, all hands paying out sheet. We brought the
ship up with this cable, but not until she got it nearly to the better
end. Unfortunately, we had got into shoal water, or what became shoal
water by the depth of the troughs. It was said, afterwards, we were in
five fathoms water at this time, but for this I will not vouch. It seems
too much water for what happened. Our anchor, however, did actually lie in
sixteen fathoms.

We had hardly paid out the cable, before the ship came down upon the
bottom, on an even keel, apparently, with a force that almost threw those
on deck off their feet. These blows were repeated, from time to time, at
intervals of several minutes, some of the thumps being much heavier than
others. The English packet must have struck adrift at the same time with
ourselves, for she came down upon us, letting go an anchor in a way to
overlay our cable. I suppose the rocks and this sawing together, parted
our hempen cable, and away we went towards the shore, broadside-to. As the
ship drifted in, she continued to thump; but, luckily for us, the sea made
no breaches over her. The old Coromandel was a very strong ship, and she
continued working her way in-shore, until she lay in a good substantial
berth, without any motion. We manned the pumps, and kept the ship
tolerably free of water, though she lay over considerably. The English
packet followed us in, going ashore more towards the Spanish lines. This
vessel bilged, and lost some of her crew. As for ourselves, we had a
comfortable berth, considering the manner in which we had got into it. No
apprehension was felt for our personal safety, and perfect order was
observed on board. The men worked as usual, nor was there any extra
liquor drunk.

That night the gale broke, and before morning it had materially moderated.
Lighters were brought alongside, and we began to discharge our flour into
them. The cargo was all discharged, and all in good order, so far as the
water was concerned; though several of the keelson bolts were driven into
the ground tier of barrels. I am almost afraid to tell this story, but I
know it to be true, as I released the barrels with my own hands. As soon
as clear, the ship was hove off into deep water, on the top of a high
tide, and was found to leak so much as to need a shore-gang at the pumps
to keep her afloat. She was accordingly sold for the benefit of the
underwriters. She was subsequently docked and sent to sea.

Of course, this broke up our voyage. The captain advised me to take a
second-mate's berth in the Governor Brooks, the only American that escaped
the gale, and I did so. This vessel was a brig, bound round the Horn,
also, and a large, new craft. I know of no other vessel, that lay in front
of the Rock that rode out this gale; and she did it with two hempen cables
out, partly protected, however, by a good berth. There was a Swede that
came back next day to her anchorage, which was said to have got
back-strapped, behind the Rock, by some legerdemain, and so escaped also.
I do not know how many lives were lost on this occasion; but the
destruction of property must have been very great.

Three weeks after the gale, the Governor Brooks sailed. We had a hard time
in doubling the Cape, being a fortnight knocking about between Falkland
and the Main. We were one hundred and forty-four days out, touching
nowhere, until we anchored at Callao. We found flour, of which our cargo
was composed, at seven dollars a barrel, with seven dollars duty. The
Franklin 74, was lying here, with the Aurora English frigate, the castle
being at war with the people inland. Our flour was landed, and what became
of it is more than I can tell.

We now took in ballast, and ran down to Guayaquil. Here an affair occurred
that might very well have given me the most serious cause of regret, all
the days of my life. Our steward was a Portuguese negro, of the most
vicious and surly temper. Most of the people and officers were really
afraid of him. One evening, the captain and chief mate being both ashore,
I was sitting on deck, idle, and I took a fancy to a glass of grog. I
ordered the steward, accordingly, to pour me out one, and bring it up. The
man pretended that the captain had carried off the keys, and no rum was to
be had. I thought this a little extraordinary; and, as one would be very
apt to be, felt much hurt at the circumstance. I had never been drunk in
the craft, and was not a drunkard in one sense of the term, at all; seldom
drinking so as to affect me, except when on a frolic, ashore.

As I sat brooding over this fancied insult, however, I smelt rum; and
looking down the sky-light, saw this same steward passing forward with a
pot filled with the liquor. I was fairly blinded with passion. Running
down, I met the fellow, just as he was coming out of the cabin, and
brought him up all standing. The man carried a knife along his leg, a
weapon that had caused a good deal of uneasiness in the brig, and he now
reached down to get it. Seeing there was no time to parley, I raised him
from the floor, and threw him down with great force, his head coming
under. There he lay like a log, and all my efforts with vinegar and water
had no visible effect.

I now thought the man dead. He gave no sign of life that I could detect,
and fear of the consequences came over me. The devil put it into my head
to throw the body overboard, as the most effectual means of concealing
what I had done. The steward had threatened to run, by swimming, more than
once, and I believe had been detected in making such an attempt; and I
fancied if I could get the body through one of the cabin-windows, it would
seem as if he had been drowned in carrying his project into execution. I
tried all I could first to restore the steward to life; but failing of
this, I actually began to drag him aft, in order to force his body out of
a cabin-window. The transom was high, and the man very heavy; so I was a
good while in dragging the load up to the necessary height. Just as I got
it there, the fellow gave a groan, and I felt a relief that I had never
before experienced. It seemed to me like a reprieve from the gallows.

I now took the steward down, upon one of the lower transoms, where he sat
rubbing his head a few minutes, I watching him closely the whole time. At
length he got up, and staggered out of the cabin. He went and turned in,
and I saw no more of him until next day. As it turned out, good, instead
of harm, resulted from this affair; the black being ever afterwards
greatly afraid of me. If I did not break his neck, I broke his temper; and
the captain used to threaten to set me at him, whenever he behaved amiss.
I owned the whole affair to the captain and mate, both of whom laughed
heartily at what had happened, though I rejoiced, in my inmost heart, that
it was no worse.

The brig loaded with cocao, in bulk, at Guayaquil, and sailed for Cadiz.
The passage was a fine one, as we doubled the Horn at midsummer. On this
occasion we beat round the cape, under top-gallant-sails. The weather was
so fine, we stood close in to get the benefit of the currents, after
tacking, as it seemed to me, within a league of the land. Our passage to
Cadiz lasted one hundred and forty-one, or two, days, being nearly the
same length as that out though much smoother.

The French had just got possession of Cadiz, as we got in, and we found
the white flag flying. We lay here a month, and then went round to the
Rock. After passing a week at Gibraltar, to take in some dollars, we
sailed for New Orleans, in ballast. As I had been on twenty-two dollars a
month, there was a pretty good whack coming to me, as soon as we reached
an American port, and I felt a desire to spend it, before I went to sea
again. They wished me to stick by the brig, which was going the very same
voyage over; but I could not make up my mind to travel so long a road,
with a pocket full of money. I had passed so many years at sea, that a
short land cruise was getting to be grateful, as a novelty.

The only craft I could get on board of, to come round into my own
latitude, in order to enjoy myself in the old way, was an eastern
schooner, called the James. On board this vessel I shipped as mate, bound
to Philadelphia. She was the most meagre craft, in the way of outfit, I
ever put to sea in. Her boat would not swim, and she had not a spare spar
on board her. In this style, we went jogging along north, until we were
met by a north-west gale, between Bermuda and Cape Hatteras, which forced
us to heave-to. During this gale, I had a proof of the truth that "where
the treasure is, there will the heart be also."

I was standing leaning on the rail, and looking over the schooner's
quarter, when I saw what I supposed to be a plank come up alongside! The
idea of sailing in a craft of which the bottom was literally dropping out,
was not very pleasant, and I thought all was lost. I cannot explain the
folly of my conduct, except by supposing that my many escapes at sea, had
brought me to imagine I was to be saved, myself, let what would happen to
all the rest on board. Without stopping to reflect, I ran below and
secured my dollars. Tearing up a blanket, I made a belt, and lashed about
twenty-five pounds weight of silver to my body, with the prospect before
me of swimming two or three hundred miles with it, before I could get
ashore. As for boat, or spars, the former would not float, and of the last
there was not one. I now look back on my acts of this day with wonder, for
I had forgotten all my habitual knowledge of vessels, in the desire to
save the paltry dollars. For the first and only time in my life I felt
avaricious, and lost sight of everything in money!

It was my duty to sound the pumps, but this I did not deem necessary. No
sooner were the dollars secure, or, rather, ready to anchor me in the
bottom of the ocean, than I remembered the captain. He was asleep, and
waking him up, I told him what had happened. The old man, a dry, drawling,
cool, down-easter, laughed in my face for my pains, telling me I had seen
one of the sheeting-boards, with which he had had the bottom of the
schooner covered, to protect it from the worms, at Campeachy, and that I
need be under no concern about the schooner's bottom. This was the simple
truth, and I cast off the dollars, again, with a sneaking consciousness of
not having done my duty. I suppose all men have moments when they are not
exactly themselves, in which they act very differently from what it has
been their practice to act. On this occasion, I was not alarmed for
myself, but I thought the course I took was necessary to save that dross
which lures so many to perdition. Avarice blinded me to the secrets of my
own trade.

I had come all the way from New Orleans to Philadelphia, to spend my four
hundred dollars to my satisfaction. For two months I lived respectably,
and actually began to go to church. I did not live in a boarding-house,
but in a private family. My landlady was a pious woman, and a member of
the Dutch Reformed Church, but her husband was a Universalist. I must say,
I liked the doctrine of the last the best, as it made smooth water for the
whole cruise. I usually went with the man to church of a morning, which
was falling among shoals, as a poor fellow was striving to get into port.
I received a great deal of good advice from my landlady, however, and it
made so much impression on me as to influence my conduct; though I cannot
say it really touched my heart. I became more considerate, and better
mannered, if I were not truly repentant for my sins. These two months were
passed more rationally than any time of mine on shore, since the hour when
I ran from the Sterling.

The James was still lying in Philadelphia, undergoing repairs, and waiting
for freight; but being now ready for sea, I shipped in her again, on a
voyage to St. Thomas, with a cargo of flour. When we sailed, I left near a
hundred dollars behind me, besides carrying some money to sea; the good
effects of good company. At St. Thomas we discharged, and took in ballast
for Turk's Island, where we got a cargo of salt, returning with it to
Philadelphia. My conduct had been such on board this schooner, that her
commander, who was her owner, and very old, having determined to knock off
going to sea, tried to persuade me to stick by the craft, promising to
make me her captain as soon as he could carry her down east, where she
belonged. I now think I made a great mistake in not accepting this offer,
though I was honestly diffident about my knowledge of navigation. I never
had a clear understanding of the lunars, though I worked hard to master
them. It is true, chronometers were coming into general use, in large
vessels, and I could work the time; but a chronometer was a thing never
heard of on board the James. Attachment to the larger towns, and a dislike
for little voyages, had as much influence on me as anything else. I
declined the offer; the only direct one ever made me to command any sort
of craft, and remained what I am. I had a little contempt, too, for
vessels of such a rig and outfit, which probably had its influence. I
liked rich owners.

On my return to Philadelphia, I found the family in which I had last lived
much deranged by illness. I got my money, but was obliged to look for new
lodgings. The respectable people with whom I had been before, did not keep
lodgers, I being their only boarder; but I now went to a regular sailor's
boarding-house. There was a little aristocracy, it is true, in my new
lodgings, to which none but mates, dickies, and thorough salts came; but
this was getting into the hurricane latitudes as to morals. I returned to
all my old habits, throwing the dollars right and left, and forgetting all
about even a Universalist church.

A month cleaned me out, in such company. I spent every cent I had, with
the exception of about fifteen dollars, that I had laid by as nest-eggs. I
then shipped as second-mate, in the Rebecca Simms, a ship bound to St.
Jago de Cuba, with flour. The voyage lasted four months; producing nothing
of moment, but a little affair that was personal to myself, and which cost
me nearly all my wages. The steward was a saucy black; and, on one
occasion, in bad weather, he neglected to give me anything warm for
breakfast. I took an opportunity to give him a taste of the end of the
main-clew-garnet, as an admonisher; and there the matter ended, so long
as I remained in the ship. It seemed quite right, to all on board, but the
steward. He bore the matter in mind, and set a whole pack of quakers on
me, as soon as we got in. The suit was tried; and it cost me sixty
dollars, in damages, beside legal charges. I dare say it was all right,
according to law and evidence; but I feel certain, just such a rubbing
down, once a week, would have been very useful to that same steward.
Well-meaning men often do quite as much harm, in this world, as the
evil-disposed. Philanthropists of this school should not forget, that, if
colour is no sufficient reason why a man should be always wrong, it is no
sufficient reason why he should be always right.

The lawsuit drove me to sea, again, in a very short time. Finding no
better berth, and feeling very savage at the blindness of justice, I
shipped before the mast, in the Superior, an Indiaman, of quite eight
hundred tons, bound to Canton. This was the pleasantest voyage I ever made
to sea, in a merchantman, so far as the weather, and, I may say, usage,
were concerned. We lost our top-gallant-masts, homeward bound; but this
was the only accident that occurred. The ship was gone nine months; the
passage from Whampao to the capes having been made in ninety-four days.
When we got in, the owners had failed, and there was no money forthcoming,
at the moment. To remain, and libel the ship, was dull business; so,
leaving a power of attorney behind me, I went on board a schooner, called
the Sophia, bound to Vera Cruz, as foremast Jack.

The Sophia was a clipper; and made the run out in a few days. We went into
Vera Cruz; but found it nearly deserted. Our cargo went ashore a little
irregularly; sometimes by day, and sometimes by night; being assorted, and
suited to all classes of customers. As soon as ready, we sailed for
Philadelphia, again; where we arrived, after an absence of only
two months.

I now got my wages for the Canton voyage; but they lasted me only a
fortnight! It was necessary to go to sea, again; and I went on board the
Caledonia; once more bound to Canton. This voyage lasted eleven months;
but, like most China voyages, produced no event of importance. We lost our
top-gallant-masts, this time, too; but that is nothing unusual, off Good
Hope. I can say but little, in favour of the ship, or the treatment.

On getting back to Philadelphia, the money went in the old way. I
occasionally walked round to see my good religious friends, with whom I
had once lived, but they ceased to have any great influence over my
conduct. As soon as necessary, I shipped in the Delaware, a vessel bound
to Savannah and Liverpool. Southern fashion, I ran from this vessel in
Savannah, owing her nothing, however, but was obliged to leave my
protection behind, as it was in the captain's hands. I cannot give any
reason but caprice for quitting this ship. The usage was excellent, and
the wages high; yet run I did. As long as the Delaware remained in port, I
kept stowed away; but, as soon as she sailed, I came out into the world,
and walked about the wharves as big as an owner.

I now went on board a ship called the Tobacco Plant, bound to Liverpool
and Philadelphia, for two dollars a month less wages, worse treatment, and
no grog. So much for following the fashion. The voyage produced nothing to
be mentioned.

On my return to Philadelphia, I resolved to shift my ground, and try a new
tack. I was now thirty-four, and began to give up all thoughts of getting
a lift in my profession. I had got so many stern-boards on me, every time
I was going ahead, and was so completely alone in the world, that I had
become indifferent, and had made up my mind to take things as they
offered. As for money, my rule had come to be, to spend it as I got it,
and go to sea for more. "If I tumbled overboard," I said to myself, "there
is none to cry over me;" therefore let things jog on their own course. All
the disposition to morality that had been aroused within me, at
Philadelphia, was completely gone, and I thought as little of church and
of religion, as ever. It is true I had bought a Bible on board the
Superior, and I was in the practice of reading in it, from time to time,
though it was only the narratives, such as those of Sampson and Goliah,
that formed any interest for me. The history of Jonah and the whale, I
read at least twenty times. I cannot remember that the morality, or
thought, or devotion of a single passage ever struck me on these
occasions. In word, I read this sacred book for amusement, and not
for light.

I now wanted change, and began to think of going back to the navy, by way
of novelty. I had been round the world once, had been to Canton five
times, doubling the Cape, round the Horn twice, to Batavia once, the
West-Indies, on the Spanish main, and had crossed the Atlantic so often,
that I thought I knew all the mile-stones. I had seen but little of the
Mediterranean, and fancied a man-of-war's cruise would show me those seas.
Most of the Tobacco Plants had shipped in Philadelphia, and I determined
to go with them, to go in the navy. There is a fashion in all things, and
just then it was the fashion to enter in the service.

I was shipped by Lieutenant M'Kean, now Commander M'Kean, a grandson of
the old Governor of Pennsylvania, as they tell me. All hands of us were
sent on board the Cyane, an English prize twenty-gun ship, where we
remained about six weeks. A draft was then made, and more than a hundred
of us were sent round to Norfolk, in a sloop, to join the Delaware, 80,
then fitting out for the Mediterranean. We found the ship lying alongside
the Navy-yard wharf, and after passing one night in the receiving-ship,
were sent on board the two-decker. The Delaware soon hauled out, and was
turned over to Captain Downes, the very officer who had almost persuaded
me to go in that ill-fated brig, the Epervier.

I was stationed on the Delaware's forecastle, and was soon ordered to do
second captain's duty. We had for lieutenants on board, Mr. Ramage, first,
Messrs. Williamson, Ten Eick, Shubrick, Byrne, Chauncey, Harris, and
several whose names I have forgotten. Mr. Ramage has since been cashiered,
I understand; and Messrs. Ten Eick, Shubrick, Chauncey, Harris, and Byrne,
are now all commanders.

The ship sailed in the winter of 1828, in the month of January I think,
having on board the Prince of Musignano, and his family, who were going to
Italy. This gentleman was Charles Bonaparte, eldest son of Lucien, Prince
of Canino, they tell me, and is now Prince of Canino himself. He had been
living some time in America, and got a passage in our ship, on account of
the difficulty of travelling in Europe, for one of his name and family.
He was the first, and only Prince I ever had for a shipmate.

Chapter XV.

Our passage out in the Delaware was very rough, the ship rolling heavily.
It was the first time she had been at sea, and it required some little
time to get her trim and sailing. She turned out, however, to be a good
vessel; sailing fairly, steering well, and proving an excellent sea-boat.
We went into Algesiras, where we lay only twenty-four hours. We then
sailed for Mahon, but were met by orders off the port, to proceed to
Leghorn and land our passengers. I have been told this was done on account
of the Princess of Musignano's being a daughter of the ex-King of Spain,
and it was not thought delicate to bring her within the territory of the
reigning king. I have even heard that the commodore was offered an order
of knighthood for the delicacy he manifested on this occasion, which offer
he declined accepting, as a matter of course.

The ship had a good run from off Mahon to Leghorn where we anchored in the
outer roads. We landed the passengers the afternoon of the day we arrived.
That very night it came on to blow heavily from the northward and
eastward, or a little off shore, according to the best of my recollection.
This was the first time I ever saw preparations made to send down lower
yards, and to house top-masts--merchantmen not being strong-handed enough
to cut such capers with their sticks. We had three anchors ahead, if not
four, the ship labouring a good deal. We lost one man from the starboard
forechains, by his getting caught in the buoy-rope, as we let go a
sheet-anchor. The poor fellow could not be picked up, on account of the
sea and the darkness of the night, though an attempt was made to save him.

The next day the weather moderated a little, and we got under way for
Mahon. Our passage down was pleasant, and this time we went in. Captain
Downes now left us, and Commodore Crane hoisted his broad-pennant on
board us. The ship now lay a long time in port. The commodore went aloft
in one of the sloops, and was absent several months. I was told he was
employed in making a treaty with the Turks, but us poor Jacks knew little
of such matters. On his return, there was a regular blow-up with the
first-lieutenant, who left the ship, to nobody's regret, so far as I know.
Mr. Mix, who had led our party to the lakes in 1812, and was with us in
all my lake service, and who was Mr. Osgood's brother-in-law, now joined
us as first-lieutenant. I had got to be first-captain of the forecastle, a
berth I held to the end of the cruise.

The treatment on board this ship was excellent. The happiest time I ever
spent at sea, was in the Delaware. After Mr. Mix took Mr. Ramage's place,
everybody seemed contented, and I never knew a better satisfied ship's
company. The third year out, we had a long cruise off Cape de Gatte,
keeping the ship under her canvass quite three months. We took in supplies
at sea, the object being to keep us from getting rusty. On the fourth of
July we had a regular holiday. At four in the morning, the ship was close
in under the north shore, and we wore off the land. Sail was then
shortened. After this, we had music, and more saluting and grog. The day
was passed merrily, and I do not remember a fight, or a black eye, in
the ship.

I volunteered to go one cruise in the Warren, under Mr. Byrne. The present
Commodore Kearny commanded this ship, and he took us down to the Rock. The
reason of our volunteering was this. The men-of-war of the Dutch and the
French, rendezvoused at Mahon, as well as ourselves. The French and our
people had several rows ashore. Which was right and which wrong, I cannot
say, as it was the Java's men, and not the Delaware's, that were engaged
in them, on our side. One of the Javas was run through the body, and a
French officer got killed. It was said the French suspected us of a design
of sending away the man who killed their officer, and meant to stop the
Warren, which was bound to the Rock on duty. All I know is, that two
French brigs anchored at the mouth of the harbour, and some of us were
called on to volunteer. Forty-five of us did so, and went on board
the sloop.

After the Warren got under way, we went to quarters, manning both
batteries. In this manner we stood down between the two French brigs, with
top-gallant-sails furled and the courses in the brails. We passed directly
between the two brigs, keeping a broadside trained upon each; but nothing
was said, or done, to us. We anchored first at the Rock, but next day
crossed over to the Spanish coast. In a short time we returned to Mahon,
and we volunteers went back to the Delaware. The two brigs had gone, but
there was still a considerable French force in port. Nothing came of the
difficulty, however, so far as I could see or hear.

In the season of 1830, the Constellation, Commodore Biddle, came out, and
our ship and Commodore were relieved. We had a run up as far as Sicily,
however, before this took place, and went off Tripoli. There I saw a
wreck, lying across the bay, that they told me was the bones of the
Philadelphia frigate. We were also at Leghorn, several weeks, the
commodore going to some baths in the neighbourhood, for his health.

Among other ports, the Delaware visited Carthagena, Malta, and Syracuse.
At the latter place, the ship lay six weeks, I should think. This was the
season of our arrival out. Here we underwent a course of severe exercise,
that brought the crew up to a high state of discipline. At four in the
morning, we would turn out, and commence our work. All the manoeuvres of
unmooring, making sail, reefing, furling, and packing on her again, were
gone through, until the people got so much accustomed to work together,
the great secret of the efficiency of a man-of-war, that the officer of
the deck was forced to sing out "belay!" before the yards were up by a
foot, lest the men should spring the spars. When we got through this
drill, the commodore told us we would do, and that he was not ashamed to
show us alongside of anything that floated. I do not pretend to give our
movements in the order in which they occurred, however, nor am I quite
certain what year it was the commodore went up to Smyrna. On reflection,
it may have been later than I have stated.

Our cruise off Cape de Gatte was one of the last things we did; and when
we came back to Mahon, we took in supplies for America. We made the
southern passage home and anchored in Hampton Roads, in the winter of
1831. I believe the whole crew of the Delaware was sorry when the cruise
was up. There are always a certain number of long-shore chaps in a
man-of-war, who are never satisfied with discipline, and the wholesome
restraints of a ship; but as for us old salts, I never heard one give the
Delaware a bad name. We had heard an awful report of the commodore, who
was called a "burster," and expected sharp times under him; and his manner
of taking possession was of a nature to alarm us. All hands had been
called to receive him, and the first words he said were "Call all hands to
witness punishment." A pin might have been heard falling among us, for
this sounded ominous. It was to clear the brig, only, Captain Downes
having left three men in it, whom he would not release on quitting the
vessel. The offences were serious, and could not be overlooked. These
three chaps got it; but there was only one other man brought regularly to
the gang-way while I was in the ship, and he was under the sentence of a
court, and belonged to the Warren. As soon as the brig was cleared, the
commodore told us we should be treated as we treated others, and then
turned away among the officers. The next day we found we were to live
under a just rule, and that satisfied us. One of the great causes of the
contentment that reigned in the ship, was the method, and the regularity
of the hours observed. The men knew on what they could calculate, in
ordinary times, and this left them their own masters within certain hours.
I repeat, she was the happiest ship I ever served in, though I have always
found good treatment in the navy.

I can say conscientiously, that were my life to be passed over again,
without the hope of commanding a vessel, it should be passed in the navy.
The food is better, the service is lighter, the treatment is better, if a
man behave himself at all well, he is better cared for, has a port under
his lee in case of accidents, and gets good, steady, wages, with the
certainty of being paid. If his ship is lost, his wages are safe; and if
he gets hurt, he is pensioned. Then he is pretty certain of having
gentlemen over him, and that is a great deal for any man. He has good
quarters below; and if he serve in a ship as large as a frigate, he has a
cover over his head, half the time, at least, in bad weather. This is the
honest opinion of one who has served in all sorts of crafts, liners,
Indiamen, coasters, smugglers, whalers, and transient ships. I have been
in a ship of the line, two frigates, three sloops of war, and several
smaller craft; and such is the result of all my experience in Uncle Sam's
navy. No man can go to sea and always meet with fair-weather, but he will
get as little of foul in one of our vessels of war, as in any craft that
floats, if a man only behave himself. I think the American merchantmen
give better wages than are to be found in other services; and I think the
American men-of-war, as a rule, give better treatment than the American
merchantman. God bless the flag, I say, and this, too, without the fear of
being hanged!

The Delaware lay two or three weeks in the Roads before she went up to the
Yard. At the latter place we began to strip the ship. While thus employed,
we were told that seventy-five of us, whose times were not quite out, were
to be drafted for the Brandywine 44, then fitting out at New York, for a
short cruise in the Gulf. This was bad news, for Jack likes a swing ashore
after a long service abroad. Go we must, and did, however. We were sent
round to New York in a schooner, and found the frigate still lying at the
Yard. We were hulked on board the Hudson until she was ready to receive
us, when we were sent to our new vessel. Captain Ballard commanded the
Brandywine, and among her lieutenants, Mr. M'Kenny was the first. This is
a fine ship, and she got her name from the battle in which La Fayette was
wounded in this country, having been first fitted out to carry him to
France, after his last visit to America. She is a first-class frigate,
mounting thirty long thirty-two's on her gun-deck; and I conceive it to be
some honour to a sailor to have it in his power to say he has been captain
of the forecastle in such a ship, for I was rated in this frigate the same


Back to Full Books