Two Years Before the Mast
Richard Henry Dana

Part 1 out of 8

Two Years Before the Mast
Richard H. Dana, Jr.


In 1869, my father, the late Richard Henry Dana, Jr., prepared a
new edition of his ``Two Years Before the Mast'' with this

``After twenty-eight years, the copyright of this book has
reverted to me. In presenting the first `author's edition' to the
public, I have been encouraged to add an account of a visit to the
old scenes, made twenty-four years after, together with notices of
the subsequent story and fate of the vessels, and of some of the
persons with whom the reader is made acquainted.''

The popularity of this book has been so great and continued that
it is now proposed to make an illustrated edition with new
material. I have prepared a concluding chapter to continue my
father's ``Twenty-four Years After.'' This will give all that we
have since learned of the fate of crew and vessels, and a brief
account of Mr. Dana himself and his important lifework, which
appears more fully in his published biography[1] and printed
speeches and letters.[2] This concluding chapter will take the place
of the biographic sketch prefixed to the last authorized edition.
There is also added an appendix with a list of the crews of the
two vessels in which Mr. Dana sailed, extracts from a log, and
also plates of spars, rigging and sails, with names, to aid the

In the winter of 1879-80 I sailed round Cape Horn in a full-rigged
ship from New York to California. At the latter place I visited
the scenes of ``Two Years Before the Mast.'' At the old town of
San Diego I met Jack Stewart, my father's old shipmate, and as we
were looking at the dreary landscape and the forlorn adobe houses
and talking of California of the thirties, he burst out into an
encomium of the accuracy and fidelity to details of my father's
book. He said, ``I have read it again and again. It all comes back
to me, everything just as it happened. The seamanship is
perfect.'' And then as if to emphasize it all, with the exception
that proves the rule, he detailed one slight case where he thought
my father was at fault,---a detail so slight that I now forget
what it is. In reading the Log kept by the discharged mate,
Amerzeen, on the return trip in the Alert, I find that every
incident there recorded, from running aground at the start at San
Diego Harbor, through the perilous icebergs round the Horn, the
St. Elmo's fire, the scurvy of the crew and the small matters like
the painting of the vessel, to the final sail up Boston Harbor,
confirms my father's record. His former shipmate, the late B. G.
Stimson, a distinguished citizen of Detroit, said the account of
the flogging was far from an exaggeration, and Captain Faucon of
the Alert also during his lifetime frequently confirmed all that
came under his observation. Such truth in the author demands truth
in illustration, and I have cooperated with the publishers in
securing a painting of the Alert under full sail and other
illustrations, both colored and in pen and ink, faithful to the
text in every detail.

Accuracy, however, is not the secret of the success of this book.
Its flowing style, the use of short Anglo-Saxon words,[3] its
picturesqueness, the power of description, the philosophic
arrangement all contribute to it, but chiefly, I believe, the
enthusiasm of the young Dana, his sympathy for his fellows and
interest in new scenes and strange peoples, and with it all, the
real poetry that runs through the whole. As to its poetry, I will
quote from Mrs. Bancroft's ``Letters from England,'' giving the
opinion of the poet Samuel Rogers:

``London, June 20, 1847.

``The 19th, Sat. we breakfasted with Lady Byron and my friend Miss
Murray, at Mr. Rogers'. . . . After breakfast he had been
repeating some lines of poetry which he thought fine, when he
suddenly exclaimed, `But there is a bit of American prose, which,
I think, has more poetry in it, than almost any modern verse.' He
then repeated, I should think, more than a page from Dana's `Two
Years Before the Mast' describing the falling overboard of one of
the crew, and the effect it produced, not only at the moment, but
for some time afterward. I wondered at his memory, which enabled
him to recite so beautifully a long prose passage, so much more
difficult than verse. Several of those present, with whom the book
was a favorite, were so glad to hear from me that it was as true
as interesting, for they had regarded it as partly a work of

In writing the book Mr. Dana had a motive which inspired him to
put into it his very best. The night after the flogging of his two
fellow-sailors off San Pedro, California, Mr. Dana, lying in his
berth, ``vowed that, if God should ever give me the means, I would
do something to redress the grievances and relieve the sufferings
of that class of beings with whom my lot has been so long cast.''
This vow he carried out in no visionary scheme of mutiny or
foolish ``paying back'' to the captain, but by awakening a
``strong sympathy'' for the sailors ``by a voice from the
forecastle,'' in his ``Two Years Before the Mast.''

While at sea he made entries almost daily in a pocket notebook and
at leisure hours wrote these out fully. This full account of his
voyage was lost with his trunk containing sailors' clothes and all
souvenirs and presents for family and friends by the carelessness
of a relative who took charge of his things at the wharf when he
landed in Boston in 1836. Later, while in the Law School, Mr. Dana
re-wrote this account from the notebook, which, fortunately, he
had not entrusted to the lost trunk. This account he read to his
father and Washington Allston, artist and poet, his uncle by
marriage. Both advised its publication and the manuscript was sent
to William Cullen Bryant, who had then moved to New York. Mr.
Bryant, after looking it over, took it to a prominent publisher of
his city, as the publishers at that time most able to give the
book a large sale. They offered to buy the book outright but
refused the author any share in the profits. The firm had
submitted the manuscript to Alonzo Potter, afterwards Bishop of
Pennsylvania, then acting as one of their readers. Bishop Potter,
meeting Dana in England years later, told him most emphatically
that he had advised the purchase at any price necessary to secure
it. The most, however, that the elder Dana and Bryant were able to
get from the publishers was $250, so that modest sum with two
dozen printed copies was all the author received at that time for
this most successful book. Incidentally, however, the publication
brought Mr. Dana law practice, especially among sailors, and was
an introduction to him not only in this country but in England.
Editions were published in Great Britain and France. Moxon, the
London publisher, sent Mr. Dana not only presentation copies but
as a voluntary honorarium, there being no international copyright
law at that time, a sum of money larger than the publisher gave
him for the manuscript. He also received kindly words of
appreciation from Rogers, Brougham, Moore, Bulwer, Dickens and
others, and fifteen years later his reputation secured him a large
social and literary reception in England in 1856. At last, in
1868, the original copyright expired and my father brought out the
``author's edition'' thoroughly revised and with many important
additions to the text including the ``Twenty-four Years After''
under a fair arrangement for percentage of sales with Fields,
Osgood and Co., the predecessors of the present publishers.

In reading the story of this Harvard College undergraduate's
experience, one should bear in mind, to appreciate the dangers of
his rounding the Cape, that the brig Pilgrim was only one hundred
and eighty tons burden and eighty-six feet and six inches long,
shorter on the water line than many of our summer-sailing sloop
and schooner yachts.

Richard Henry Dana.

[1] ``Richard Henry Dana, Jr.'' A Biography. By Charles Francis Adams.
In two volumes. Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin Company.

[2] ``Speeches in Stirring Times and Letters to a Son.'' Richard Henry
Dana, Jr., with introduction and notes by Richard Henry Dana, 3rd.
In one volume. Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin Company.

[3] Extracts from this book were chosen by the oculists of the
United States for use in testing eyes on account of its clearness
in style and freedom from long words.


The fourteenth of August[1] was the day fixed upon for the sailing
of the brig Pilgrim, on her voyage from Boston, round Cape Horn,
to the Western coast of North America. As she was to get under way
early in the afternoon, I made my appearance on board at twelve
o'clock, in full sea-rig, with my chest, containing an outfit for
a two or three years' voyage, which I had undertaken from a
determination to cure, if possible, by an entire change of life,
and by a long absence from books, with a plenty of hard work,
plain food, and open air, a weakness of the eyes, which had
obliged me to give up my studies, and which no medical aid seemed
likely to remedy.

The change from the tight frock-coat, silk cap, and kid gloves of
an undergraduate at Harvard, to the loose duck trousers, checked
shirt, and tarpaulin hat of a sailor, though somewhat of a
transformation, was soon made; and I supposed that I should pass
very well for a Jack tar. But it is impossible to deceive the
practised eye in these matters; and while I thought myself to be
looking as salt as Neptune himself, I was, no doubt, known for a
landsman by every one on board as soon as I hove in sight. A
sailor has a peculiar cut to his clothes, and a way of wearing
them which a green hand can never get. The trousers, tight round
the hips, and thence hanging long and loose round the feet, a
superabundance of checked shirt, a low-crowned, well-varnished
black hat, worn on the back of the head, with half a fathom of
black ribbon hanging over the left eye, and a slip-tie to the
black silk neckerchief, with sundry other minutiae, are signs, the
want of which betrays the beginner at once. Besides the points in
my dress which were out of the way, doubtless my complexion and
hands were quite enough to distinguish me from the regular salt
who, with a sunburnt cheek, wide step, and rolling gait, swings
his bronzed and toughened hands athwart-ships, half opened, as
though just ready to grasp a rope.

``With all my imperfections on my head,'' I joined the crew, and
we hauled out into the stream, and came to anchor for the night.
The next day we were employed in preparation for sea, reeving
studding-sail gear, crossing royal yards, putting on chafing gear,
and taking on board our powder. On the following night, I stood my
first watch. I remained awake nearly all the first part of the
night from fear that I might not hear when I was called; and when
I went on deck, so great were my ideas of the importance of my
trust, that I walked regularly fore and aft the whole length of
the vessel, looking out over the bows and taffrail at each turn,
and was not a little surprised at the coolness of the old seaman
whom I called to take my place, in stowing himself snugly away
under the long-boat for a nap. That was a sufficient lookout, he
thought, for a fine night, at anchor in a safe harbor.

The next morning was Saturday, and, a breeze having sprung up from
the southward, we took a pilot on board, hove up our anchor, and
began beating down the bay. I took leave of those of my friends
who came to see me off, and had barely opportunity for a last look
at the city and well-known objects, as no time is allowed on board
ship for sentiment. As we drew down into the lower harbor, we
found the wind ahead in the bay, and were obliged to come to
anchor in the roads. We remained there through the day and a part
of the night. My watch began at eleven o'clock at night, and I
received orders to call the captain if the wind came out from the
westward. About midnight the wind became fair, and, having
summoned the captain, I was ordered to call all hands. How I
accomplished this, I do not know, but I am quite sure that I did
not give the true hoarse boatswain call of ``A-a-ll ha-a-a-nds !
up anchor, a-ho-oy!'' In a short time every one was in motion, the
sails loosed, the yards braced, and we began to heave up the
anchor, which was our last hold upon Yankee land. I could take but
small part in these preparations. My little knowledge of a vessel
was all at fault. Unintelligible orders were so rapidly given, and
so immediately executed; there was such a hurrying about, and such
an intermingling of strange cries and stranger actions, that I was
completely bewildered. There is not so helpless and pitiable an
object in the world as a landsman beginning a sailor's life. At
length those peculiar, long-drawn sounds which denote that the
crew are heaving at the windlass began, and in a few minutes we
were under way. The noise of the water thrown from the bows was
heard, the vessel leaned over from the damp night-breeze, and
rolled with the heavy groundswell, and we had actually begun our
long, long journey. This was literally bidding good night to my
native land.

[1] [In the year 1834.]


The first day we passed at sea was Sunday. As we were just from
port, and there was a great deal to be done on board, we were kept
at work all day, and at night the watches were set, and everything
was put into sea order. When we were called aft to be divided into
watches, I had a good specimen of the manner of a sea-captain.
After the division had been made, he gave a short characteristic
speech, walking the quarter-deck with a cigar in his mouth, and
dropping the words out between the puffs.

``Now, my men, we have begun a long voyage. If we get along well
together, we shall have a comfortable time; if we don't, we shall
have hell afloat. All you have got to do is to obey your orders,
and do your duty like men,-- then you will fare well enough; if
you don't, you will fare hard enough,-- I can tell you. If we pull
together, you will find me a clever fellow; if we don't, you will
find me a bloody rescal. That's all I've got to say. Go below, the
larboard[1] watch!''

I, being in the starboard or second mate's watch, had the
opportunity of keeping the first watch at sea. Stimson, a young
man making, like myself, his first voyage, was in the same watch,
and as he was the son of a professional man, and had been in a
merchant's counting-room in Boston, we found that we had some
acquaintances and topics in common. We talked these matters over--
Boston, what our friends were probably doing, our voyage, &c.--
until he went to take his turn at the lookout, and left me to
myself. I had now a good opportunity for reflection. I felt for
the first time the perfect silence of the sea. The officer was
walking the quarter-deck, where I had no right to go, one or two
men were talking on the forecastle, whom I had little inclination
to join, so that I was left open to the full impression of
everything about me. However much I was affected by the beauty of
the sea, the bright stars, and the clouds driven swiftly over
them, I could not but remember that I was separating myself from
all the social and intellectual enjoyments of life. Yet, strange
as it may seem, I did then and afterwards take pleasure in these
reflections, hoping by them to prevent my becoming insensible to
the value of what I was losing.

But all my dreams were soon put to flight by an order from the
officer to trim the yards, as the wind was getting ahead; and I
could plainly see by the looks the sailors occasionally cast to
windward, and by the dark clouds that were fast coming up, that we
had bad weather to prepare for, and I had heard the captain say
that he expected to be in the Gulf Stream by twelve o'clock. In a
few minutes eight bells were struck, the watch called, and we went
below. I now began to feel the first discomforts of a sailor's
life. The steerage, in which I lived, was filled with coils of
rigging, spare sails, old junk, and ship stores, which had not
been stowed away. Moreover, there had been no berths put up for us
to sleep in, and we were not allowed to drive nails to hang our
clothes upon. The sea, too, had risen, the vessel was rolling
heavily, and everything was pitched about in grand confusion.
There was a complete ``hurrah's nest,'' as the sailors say,
``everything on top and nothing at hand.'' A large hawser had been
coiled away on my chest; my hats, boots, mattress, and blankets
had all fetched away and gone over to leeward, and were jammed and
broken under the boxes and coils of rigging. To crown all, we were
allowed no light to find anything with, and I was just beginning
to feel strong symptoms of sea-sickness, and that listlessness and
inactivity which accompany it. Giving up all attempts to collect
my things together, I lay down on the sails, expecting every
moment to hear the cry, ``All hands ahoy!'' which the approaching
storm would make necessary. I shortly heard the raindrops falling
on deck thick and fast, and the watch evidently had their hands
full of work, for I could hear the loud and repeated orders of the
mate, trampling of feet, creaking of the blocks, and all the
accompaniments of a coming storm. In a few minutes the slide of
the hatch was thrown back, which let down the noise and tumult of
the deck still louder, the cry of ``All hands ahoy! tumble up here
and take in sail,'' saluted our ears, and the hatch was quickly
shut again. When I got upon deck, a new scene and a new experience
was before me.

The little brig was close-hauled upon the wind, and lying over, as
it then seemed to me, nearly upon her beam ends. The heavy head
sea was beating against her bows with the noise and force almost
of a sledgehammer, and flying over the deck, drenching us
completely through. The topsail halyards had been let go, and the
great sails were filling out and backing against the masts with a
noise like thunder; the wind was whistling through the rigging;
loose ropes were flying about; loud and, to me, unintelligible
orders constantly given, and rapidly executed; and the sailors
``singing out'' at the ropes in their hoarse and peculiar strains.

In addition to all this, I had not got my ``sea legs on,'' was
dreadfully sea-sick, with hardly strength enough to hold on to
anything, and it was ``pitch dark.'' This was my condition when I
was ordered aloft, for the first time, to reef topsails.

How I got along, I cannot now remember. I ``laid out'' on the
yards and held on with all my strength. I could not have been of
much service, for I remember having been sick several times before
I left the topsail yard, making wild vomits into the black night,
to leeward. Soon all was snug aloft, and we were again allowed to
go below. This I did not consider much of a favor, for the
confusion of everything below, and that inexpressible sickening
smell, caused by the shaking up of bilge water in the hold, made
the steerage but an indifferent refuge from the cold, wet decks. I
had often read of the nautical experiences of others, but I felt
as though there could be none worse than mine; for, in addition to
every other evil, I could not but remember that this was only the
first night of a two years' voyage. When we were on deck, we were
not much better off, for we were continually ordered about by the
officer, who said that it was good for us to be in motion. Yet
anything was better than the horrible state of things below. I
remember very well going to the hatchway and putting my head down,
when I was oppressed by nausea, and always being relieved
immediately. It was an effectual emetic.

This state of things continued for two days.

Wednesday, August 20th. We had the watch on deck from four till
eight, this morning. When we came on deck at four o'clock, we
found things much changed for the better. The sea and wind had
gone down, and the stars were out bright. I experienced a
corresponding change in my feelings, yet continued extremely weak
from my sickness. I stood in the waist on the weather side,
watching the gradual breaking of the day, and the first streaks of
the early light. Much has been said of the sunrise at sea; but it
will not compare with the sunrise on shore. It lacks the
accompaniments of the songs of birds, the awakening hum of
humanity, and the glancing of the first beams upon trees, hills,
spires, and house-tops, to give it life and spirit. There is no
scenery. But, although the actual rise of the sun at sea is not so
beautiful, yet nothing will compare for melancholy and dreariness
with the early breaking of day upon ``Old Ocean's gray and
melancholy waste.''

There is something in the first gray streaks stretching along the
eastern horizon and throwing an indistinct light upon the face of
the deep, which combines with the boundlessness and unknown depth
of the sea around, and gives one a feeling of loneliness, of
dread, and of melancholy foreboding, which nothing else in nature
can. This gradually passes away as the light grows brighter, and
when the sun comes up, the ordinary monotonous sea day begins.

From such reflections as these, I was aroused by the order from
the officer, ``Forward there! rig the headpump!'' I found that no
time was allowed for daydreaming, but that we must ``turn to'' at
the first light. Having called up the ``idlers,'' namely,
carpenter, cook, and steward, and rigged the pump, we began
washing down the decks. This operation, which is performed every
morning at sea, takes nearly two hours; and I had hardly strength
enough to get through it. After we had finished, swabbed down
decks, and coiled up the rigging, I sat on the spars, waiting for
seven bells, which was the signal for breakfast. The officer,
seeing my lazy posture, ordered me to slush the mainmast, from the
royal-mast-head down. The vessel was then rolling a little, and I
had taken no food for three days, so that I felt tempted to tell
him that I had rather wait till after breakfast; but I knew that I
must ``take the bull by the horns,'' and that if I showed any sign
of want of spirit or backwardness, I should be ruined at once. So
I took my bucket of grease and climbed up to the royal-mast-head.
Here the rocking of the vessel, which increases the higher you go
from the foot of the mast, which is the fulcrum of the lever, and
the smell of the grease, which offended my fastidious senses,
upset my stomach again, and I was not a little rejoiced when I had
finished my job and got upon the comparative terra firma of the
deck. In a few minutes seven bells were struck, the log hove, the
watch called, and we went to breakfast. Here I cannot but remember
the advice of the cook, a simple-hearted African. ``Now,'' says
he, ``my lad, you are well cleaned out; you haven't got a drop of
your 'long-shore swash aboard of you. You must begin on a new
tack,-- pitch all your sweetmeats overboard, and turn to upon good
hearty salt beef and ship bread, and I'll promise you, you'll have
your ribs well sheathed, and be as hearty as any of 'em, afore you
are up to the Horn.'' This would be good advice to give to
passengers, when they set their hearts on the little niceties
which they have laid in, in case of sea-sickness.

I cannot describe the change which half a pound of cold salt beef
and a biscuit or two produced in me. I was a new being. Having a
watch below until noon, so that I had some time to myself, I got a
huge piece of strong, cold salt beef from the cook, and kept
gnawing upon it until twelve o'clock. When we went on deck, I felt
somewhat like a man, and could begin to learn my sea duty with
considerable spirit. At about two o'clock, we heard the loud cry
of ``Sail ho!'' from aloft, and soon saw two sails to windward,
going directly athwart our hawse. This was the first time that I
had seen a sail at sea. I thought then, and have always since,
that no sight exceeds it in interest, and few in beauty. They
passed to leeward of us, and out of hailing distance; but the
captain could read the names on their sterns with the glass. They
were the ship Helen Mar, of New York, and the brig Mermaid, of
Boston. They were both steering westward, and were bound in for
our ``dear native land.''

Thursday, August 21st. This day the sun rose clear; we had a fine
wind, and everything was bright and cheerful. I had now got my sea
legs on, and was beginning to enter upon the regular duties of a
sea life. About six bells, that is, three o'clock P.M., we saw a
sail on our larboard bow. I was very desirous, like every new sailor,
to speak her. She came down to us, backed her main-top-sail, and the
two vessels stood ``head on,'' bowing and curveting at each other like
a couple of war-horses reined in by their riders. It was the first
vessel that I had seen near, and I was surprised to find how much
she rolled and pitched in so quiet a sea. She plunged her head into
the sea, and then, her stern settling gradually down, her huge bows
rose up, showing the bright copper, and her stem and breasthooks
dripping, like old Neptune's locks, with the brine. Her decks were
filled with passengers, who had come up at the cry of ``Sail ho!'' and
who, by their dress and features, appeared to be Swiss and French
emigrants. She hailed us at first in French, but receiving no answer,
she tried us in English. She was the ship La Carolina, from Havre,
for New York. We desired her to report the brig Pilgrim, from Boston,
for the northwest coast of America, five days out. She then filled
away and left us to plough on through our waste of waters.

There is a settled routine for hailing ships at sea: ``Ship
a-hoy!'' Answer, ``Hulloa!'' ``What ship is that, pray?'' ``The
ship Carolina, from Havre, bound to New York. Where are you
from?'' ``The brig Pilgrim, from Boston, bound to the coast of
California, five days out.'' Unless there is leisure, or something
special to say, this form is not much varied from.

This day ended pleasantly; we had got into regular and comfortable
weather, and into that routine of sea life which is only broken by
a storm, a sail, or the sight of land.

[1] Of late years, the British and American marine, naval and
mercantile, have adopted the word ``port'' instead of larboard, in
all cases on board ship, to avoid mistake from similarity of
sound. At this time ``port'' was used only at the helm.


As we have now had a long ``spell'' of fine weather, without any
incident to break the monotony of our lives, I may have no better
place for a description of the duties, regulations, and customs of
an American merchantman, of which ours was a fair specimen.

The captain, in the first place, is lord paramount. He stands no
watch, comes and goes when he pleases, is accountable to no one,
and must be obeyed in everything, without a question even from his
chief officer. He has the power to turn his officers off duty, and
even to break them and make them do duty as sailors in the
forecastle.[1] Where there are no passengers and no supercargo, as
in our vessel, he has no companion but his own dignity, and few
pleasures, unless he differs from most of his kind, beyond the
consciousness of possessing supreme power, and, occasionally, the
exercise of it.

The prime minister, the official organ, and the active and
superintending officer is the chief mate. He is first lieutenant,
boatswain, sailing-master, and quartermaster. The captain tells
him what he wishes to have done, and leaves to him the care of
overseeing, of allotting the work, and also the responsibility of
its being well done. The mate (as he is always called, par
excellence) also keeps the log-book, for which he is responsible
to the owners and insurers, and has the charge of the stowage,
safe-keeping, and delivery of the cargo. He is also, ex officio,
the wit of the crew; for the captain does not condescend to joke
with the men, and the second mate no one cares for; so that when
``the mate'' thinks fit to entertain ``the people'' with a coarse
joke or a little practical wit, every one feels bound to laugh.

The second mate is proverbially a dog's berth. He is neither
officer nor man. He is obliged to go aloft to reef and furl the
topsails, and to put his hands into the tar and slush, with the
rest, and the men do not much respect him as an officer. The crew
call him the ``sailor's waiter,'' as he has to furnish them with
spun-yarn, marline, and all other stuffs that they need in their
work, and has charge of the boatswain's locker, which includes
serving-boards, marline-spikes, &c., &c. He is expected by the
captain to maintain his dignity and to enforce obedience, and
still is kept at a great distance from the mate, and obliged to
work with the crew. He is one to whom little is given and of whom
much is required. His wages are usually double those of a common
sailor, and he eats and sleeps in the cabin; but he is obliged to
be on deck nearly all his time, and eats at the second table, that
is, makes a meal out of what the captain and chief mate leave.

The steward is the captain's servant, and has charge of the
pantry, from which every one, even the mate himself, is excluded.
These distinctions usually find him an enemy in the mate, who does
not like to have any one on board who is not entirely under his
control; the crew do not consider him as one of their number, so
he is left to the mercy of the captain.

The cook, whose title is ``Doctor,'' is the patron of the crew,
and those who are in his favor can get their wet mittens and
stockings dried, or light their pipes at the galley in the
night-watch. These two worthies, together with the carpenter (and
sailmaker, if there be one), stand no watch, but, being employed
all day, are allowed to ``sleep in'' at night, unless all hands
are called.

The crew are divided into two divisions, as equally as may be,
called the watches. Of these, the chief mate commands the
larboard, and the second mate the starboard. They divide the time
between them, being on and off duty, or, as it is called, on deck
and below, every other four hours. The three night-watches are
called the first, the middle, and the morning watch. If, for
instance, the chief mate with the larboard watch have the first
night-watch from eight to twelve, at that hour the starboard watch
and the second mate take the deck, while the larboard watch and
the first mate go below until four in the morning, when they come
on deck again and remain until eight. As the larboard watch will
have been on deck eight hours out of the twelve, while the
starboard watch will have been up only four hours, the former have
what is called a ``forenoon watch below,'' that is, from eight
A.M. till twelve M. In a man-of-war, and in some merchantmen, this
alternation of watches is kept up throughout the twenty-four
hours, which is called having ``watch and watch''; but our ship,
like most merchantmen, had ``all hands'' from twelve o'clock till
dark, except in very bad weather, when we were allowed ``watch and

An explanation of the ``dog-watches'' may, perhaps, be necessary
to one who has never been at sea. Their purpose is to shift the
watches each night, so that the same watch shall not be on deck at
the same hours throughout a voyage. In order to effect this, the
watch from four to eight P.M. is divided into two half-watches,
one from four to six, and the other from six to eight. By this
means they divide the twenty-four hours into seven watches instead
of six, and thus shift the hours every night. As the dog-watches
come during twilight, after the day's work is done, and before the
night-watch is set, they are the watches in which everybody is on
deck. The captain is up, walking on the weather side of the
quarter-deck, the chief mate on the lee side, and the second mate
about the weather gangway. The steward has finished his work in
the cabin, and has come up to smoke his pipe with the cook in the
galley. The crew are sitting on the windlass or lying on the
forecastle, smoking, singing, or telling long yarns. At eight
o'clock eight bells are struck, the log is hove, the watch set,
the wheel relieved, the galley shut up, and the watch off duty
goes below.

The morning begins with the watch on deck's ``turning to'' at
daybreak and washing down, scrubbing, and swabbing the decks.
This, together with filling the ``scuttled butt'' with fresh
water, and coiling up the rigging, usually occupies the time until
seven bells (half after seven), when all hands get breakfast. At
eight the day's work begins, and lasts until sundown, with the
exception of an hour for dinner.

Before I end my explanations, it may be well to define a day's
work, and to correct a mistake prevalent among landsmen about a
sailor's life. Nothing is more common than to hear people say,
``Are not sailors very idle at sea? What can they find to do?''
This is a natural mistake, and, being frequently made, is one
which every sailor feels interested in having corrected. In the
first place, then, the discipline of the ship requires every man
to be at work upon something when he is on deck, except at night
and on Sundays. At all other times you will never see a man, on
board a well-ordered vessel, standing idle on deck, sitting down,
or leaning over the side. It is the officers' duty to keep every
one at work, even if there is nothing to be done but to scrape the
rust from the chain cables. In no state prison are the convicts
more regularly set to work, and more closely watched. No
conversation is allowed among the crew at their duty, and though
they frequently do talk when aloft, or when near one another, yet
they stop when an officer is nigh.

With regard to the work upon which the men are put, it is a matter
which probably would not be understood by one who has not been at
sea. When I first left port, and found that we were kept regularly
employed for a week or two, I supposed that we were getting the
vessel into sea trim, and that it would soon be over, and we
should have nothing to do but to sail the ship; but I found that
it continued so for two years, and at the end of the two years
there was as much to be done as ever. As has often been said, a
ship is like a lady's watch, always out of repair. When first
leaving port, studding-sail gear is to be rove, all the running
rigging to be examined, that which is unfit for use to be got
down, and new rigging rove in its place; then the standing rigging
is to be overhauled, replaced, and repaired in a thousand
different ways; and wherever any of the numberless ropes or the
yards are chafing or wearing upon it, there ``chafing gear,'' as
it is called, must be put on. This chafing gear consists of
worming, parcelling, roundings, battens, and service of all kinds,--
rope-yarns, spun-yarn, marline, and seizing-stuffs. Taking off,
putting on, and mending the chafing gear alone, upon a vessel,
would find constant employment for a man or two men, during
working hours, for a whole voyage.

The next point to be considered is, that all the ``small stuffs''
which are used on board a ship-- such as spun-yarn, marline,
seizing-stuff, &c., &c.-- are made on board. The owners of a
vessel buy up incredible quantities of ``old junk,'' which the
sailors unlay, and, after drawing out the yarns, knot them
together, and roll them up in balls. These ``rope-yarns'' are
constantly used for various purposes, but the greater part is
manufactured into spun-yarn. For this purpose, every vessel is
furnished with a ``spun-yarn winch''; which is very simple,
consisting of a wheel and spindle. This may be heard constantly
going on deck in pleasant weather; and we had employment, during a
great part of the time, for three hands, in drawing and knotting
yarns, and making spun-yarn.

Another method of employing the crew is ``setting-up'' rigging.
Whenever any of the standing rigging becomes slack (which is
continually happening), the seizings and coverings must be taken
off, tackles got up, and, after the rigging is bowsed well taut,
the seizings and coverings be replaced, which is a very nice piece
of work. There is also such a connection between different parts
of a vessel, that one rope can seldom be touched without requiring
a change in another. You cannot stay a mast aft by the back stays,
without slacking up the head stays, &c., &c. If we add to this all
the tarring, greasing, oiling, varnishing, painting, scraping, and
scrubbing which is required in the course of a long voyage, and
also remember this is all to be done in addition to watching at
night, steering, reefing, furling, bracing, making and setting
sail, and pulling, hauling, and climbing in every direction, one
will hardly ask, ``What can a sailor find to do at sea?''

If, after all this labor,-- after exposing their lives and limbs
in storms, wet and cold,--

``Wherein the cub-drawn bear would couch
The lion and the belly-pinched wolf
Keep their furs dry,''--

the merchants and captains think that the sailors have not earned
their twelve dollars a month (out of which they clothe
themselves), and their salt beef and hard bread, they keep them
picking oakum-- ad infinitum. This is the usual resource upon a
rainy day, for then it will not do to work upon rigging; and when
it is pouring down in floods, instead of letting the sailors stand
about in sheltered places, and talk, and keep themselves
comfortable, they are separated to different parts of the ship and
kept at work picking oakum. I have seen oakum stuff placed about
in different parts of the ship, so that the sailors might not be
idle in the snatches between the frequent squalls upon crossing
the equator. Some officers have been so driven to find work for
the crew in a ship ready for sea, that they have set them to
pounding the anchors (often done) and scraping the chain cables.
The ``Philadelphia Catechism'' is

``Six days shalt thou labor and do all thou art able,
And on the seventh,-- holystone the decks and scrape the cable.''

This kind of work, of course, is not kept up off Cape Horn, Cape
of Good Hope, and in extreme north and south latitudes; but I have
seen the decks washed down and scrubbed when the water would have
frozen if it had been fresh, and all hands kept at work upon the
rigging, when we had on our pea-jackets, and our hands so numb that
we could hardly hold our marline-spikes.

I have here gone out of my narrative course in order that any who
read this may, at the start, form as correct an idea of a sailor's
life and duty as possible. I have done it in this place because,
for some time, our life was nothing but the unvarying repetition
of these duties, which can be better described together. Before
leaving this description, however, I would state, in order to show
landsmen how little they know of the nature of a ship, that a
ship-carpenter is kept constantly employed, during good weather,
on board vessels which are in what is called perfect sea order.


After speaking the Carolina, on the 21st of August, nothing
occurred to break the monotony of our life until--

Friday, September 5th, when we saw a sail on our weather
(starboard) beam. She proved to be a brig under English colors,
and, passing under our stern, reported herself as forty-nine days
from Buenos Ayres, bound to Liverpool. Before she had passed us,
``Sail ho!'' was cried again, and we made another sail, broad on
our weather bow, and steering athwart our hawse. She passed out of
hail, but we made her out to be an hermaphrodite brig, with
Brazilian colors in her main rigging. By her course, she must have
been bound from Brazil to the south of Europe, probably Portugal.

Sunday, September 7th. Fell in with the northeast trade-winds.
This morning we caught our first dolphin, which I was very eager
to see. I was disappointed in the colors of this fish when dying.
They were certainly very beautiful, but not equal to what has been
said of them. They are too indistinct. To do the fish justice,
there is nothing more beautiful than the dolphin when swimming a
few feet below the surface, on a bright day. It is the most
elegantly formed, and also the quickest, fish in salt water; and
the rays of the sun striking upon it, in its rapid and changing
motions, reflected from the water, make it look like a stray beam
from a rainbow.

This day was spent like all pleasant Sundays at sea. The decks are
washed down, the rigging coiled up, and everything put in order;
and, throughout the day, only one watch is kept on deck at a time.
The men are all dressed in their best white duck trousers, and red
or checked shirts, and have nothing to do but to make the
necessary changes in the sails. They employ themselves in reading,
talking, smoking, and mending their clothes. If the weather is
pleasant, they bring their work and their books upon deck, and sit
down upon the forecastle and windlass. This is the only day on
which these privileges are allowed them. When Monday comes, they
put on their tarry trousers again, and prepare for six days of

To enhance the value of Sunday to the crew, they are allowed on
that day a pudding, or, as it is called, a ``duff.'' This is
nothing more than flour boiled with water, and eaten with
molasses. It is very heavy, dark, and clammy, yet it is looked
upon as a luxury, and really forms an agreeable variety with salt
beef and pork. Many a rascally captain has made up with his crew,
for hard usage, by allowing them duff twice a week on the passage

On board some vessels Sunday is made a day of instruction and of
religious exercises; but we had a crew of swearers, from the
captain to the smallest boy; and a day of rest, and of something
like quiet, social enjoyment, was all that we could expect.

We continued running large before the northeast trade-winds for
several days, until Monday--

September 22d, when, upon coming on deck at seven bells in the
morning, we found the other watch aloft throwing water upon the
sails; and, looking astern, we saw a small clipper-built brig
with a black hull heading directly after us. We went to work
immediately, and put all the canvas upon the brig which we could
get upon her, rigging out oars for extra studding-sail yards,
and continued wetting down the sails by buckets of water whipped
up to the mast-head, until about nine o'clock, when there came
on a drizzling rain. The vessel continued in pursuit, changing
her course as we changed ours, to keep before the wind. The
captain, who watched her with his glass, said that she was armed,
and full of men, and showed no colors. We continued running dead
before the wind, knowing that we sailed better so, and that
clippers are fastest on the wind. We had also another advantage.
The wind was light, and we spread more canvas than she did,
having royals and sky-sails fore and aft, and ten studding-sails;
while she, being an hermaphrodite brig, had only a gaff topsail
aft. Early in the morning she was overhauling us a little, but
after the rain came on and the wind grew lighter, we began to
leave her astern. All hands remained on deck throughout the day,
and we got our fire-arms in order; but we were too few to have
done anything with her, if she had proved to be what we feared.
Fortunately there was no moon, and the night which followed was
exceedingly dark, so that, by putting out all the lights on board
and altering our course four points, we hoped to get out of her
reach. We removed the light in the binnacle, and steered by the
stars, and kept perfect silence through the night. At daybreak
there was no sign of anything in the horizon, and we kept the
vessel off to her course.

Wednesday, October 1st. Crossed the equator in lon. 24░ 24' W.
I now, for the first time, felt at liberty, according to the old
usage, to call myself a son of Neptune, and was very glad to be
able to claim the title without the disagreeable initiation which
so many have to go through. After once crossing the line, you can
never be subjected to the process, but are considered as a son of
Neptune, with full powers to play tricks upon others. This ancient
custom is now seldom allowed, unless there are passengers on
board, in which case there is always a good deal of sport.

It had been obvious to all hands for some time that the second
mate, whose name was Foster, was an idle, careless fellow, and not
much of a sailor, and that the captain was exceedingly
dissatisfied with him. The power of the captain in these cases was
well known, and we all anticipated a difficulty. Foster (called
Mr. by virtue of his office) was but half a sailor, having always
been short voyages, and remained at home a long time between them.
His father was a man of some property, and intended to have given
his son a liberal education; but he, being idle and worthless, was
sent off to sea, and succeeded no better there; for, unlike many
scamps, he had none of the qualities of a sailor,-- he was ``not
of the stuff that they make sailors of.'' He used to hold long
yarns with the crew, and talk against the captain, and play with
the boys, and relax discipline in every way. This kind of conduct
always makes the captain suspicious, and is never pleasant, in the
end, to the men; they preferring to have an officer active,
vigilant, and distant as may be with kindness. Among other bad
practices, he frequently slept on his watch, and, having been
discovered asleep by the captain, he was told that he would be
turned off duty if he did it again. To prevent his sleeping on
deck, the hen-coops were ordered to be knocked up, for the captain
never sat down on deck himself, and never permitted an officer to
do so.

The second night after crossing the equator, we had the watch from
eight till twelve, and it was ``my helm'' for the last two hours.
There had been light squalls through the night, and the captain
told Mr. Foster, who commanded our watch, to keep a bright
lookout. Soon after I came to the helm, I found that he was quite
drowsy, and at last he stretched himself on the companion and went
fast asleep. Soon afterwards the captain came softly on deck, and
stood by me for some time looking at the compass. The officer at
length became aware of the captain's presence, but, pretending not
to know it, began humming and whistling to himself, to show that
he was not asleep, and went forward, without looking behind him,
and ordered the main royal to be loosed. On turning round to come
aft, he pretended surprise at seeing the master on deck. This
would not do. The captain was too ``wide awake'' for him, and,
beginning upon him at once, gave him a grand blow-up, in true
nautical style: ``You're a lazy, good-for-nothing rascal; you're
neither man, boy, soger, nor sailor! you're no more than a thing
aboard a vessel! you don't earn your salt! you're worse than a
Mahon soger!'' and other still more choice extracts from the
sailor's vocabulary. After the poor fellow had taken this
harangue, he was sent into his state-room, and the captain stood
the rest of the watch himself.

At seven bells in the morning, all hands were called aft, and told
that Foster was no longer an officer on board, and that we might
choose one of our own number for second mate. It is not uncommon
for the captain to make this offer, and it is good policy, for the
crew think themselves the choosers, and are flattered by it, but
have to obey, nevertheless. Our crew, as is usual, refused to take
the responsibility of choosing a man of whom we would never be
able to complain, and left it to the captain. He picked out an
active and intelligent young sailor, born on the banks of the
Kennebec, who had been several Canton voyages, and proclaimed him
in the following manner: ``I choose Jim Hall; he's your second
mate. All you've got to do is, to obey him as you would me; and
remember that he is Mr. Hall.'' Foster went forward into the
forecastle as a common sailor, and lost the handle to his name,
while young fore-mast Jim became Mr. Hall, and took up his
quarters in the land of knives and forks and tea-cups.

Sunday, October 5th. It was our morning watch; when, soon after
the day began to break, a man on the forecastle called out, ``Land
ho!'' I had never heard the cry before, and did not know what it
meant (and few would suspect what the words were, when hearing the
strange sound for the first time); but I soon found, by the
direction of all eyes, that there was land stretching along on our
weather beam. We immediately took in studding-sails and hauled our
wind, running in for the land. This was done to determine our
longitude; for by the captain's chronometer we were in 25░ W., but
by his observations we were much farther; and he had been for some
time in doubt whether it was his chronometer or his sextant which
was out of order. This land-fall settled the matter, and the
former instrument was condemned, and, becoming still worse, was
never afterwards used.

As we ran in towards the coast, we found that we were directly off
the port of Pernambuco, and could see with the telescope the roofs
of the houses, and one large church, and the town of Olinda. We
ran along by the mouth of the harbor, and saw a full-rigged brig
going in. At two P.M. we again stood out to sea, leaving the land
on our quarter, and at sundown it was out of sight. It was here
that I first saw one of those singular things called catamarans.
They are composed of logs lashed together upon the water, the men
sitting with their feet in the water; have one large sail, are
quite fast, and, strange as it may seem, are trusted as good sea
boats. We saw several, with from one to three men in each, boldly
putting out to sea, after it had become almost dark. The Indians
go out in them after fish, and as the weather is regular in
certain seasons, they have no fear. After taking a new departure
from Olinda, we kept off on our way to Cape Horn.

We met with nothing remarkable until we were in the latitude of
the river La Plata. Here there are violent gales from the
southwest, called Pamperos, which are very destructive to the
shipping in the river, and are felt for many leagues at sea. They
are usually preceded by lightning. The captain told the mates to
keep a bright lookout, and if they saw lightning at the southwest,
to take in sail at once. We got the first touch of one during my
watch on deck. I was walking in the lee gangway, and thought that
I saw lightning on the lee bow. I told the second mate, who came
over and looked out for some time. It was very black in the
southwest, and in about ten minutes we saw a distinct flash. The
wind, which had been southeast, had now left us, and it was dead
calm. We sprang aloft immediately and furled the royals and
top-gallant-sails, and took in the flying jib, hauled up the
mainsail and trysail, squared the after yards, and awaited the
attack. A huge mist capped with black clouds came driving towards
us, extending over that portion of the horizon, and covering the
stars, which shone brightly in the other part of the heavens. It
came upon us at once with a blast, and a shower of hail and rain,
which almost took our breath from us. The hardiest was obliged to
turn his back. We let the halyards run, and fortunately were not
taken aback. The little vessel ``paid off'' from the wind, and ran
on for some time directly before it, tearing through the water
with everything flying. Having called all hands, we close-reefed
the topsails and trysail, furled the courses and jib, set the
fore-topmast staysail, and brought her up nearly to her course,
with the weather braces hauled in a little, to ease her.

This was the first blow I had met, which could really be called a
gale. We had reefed our topsails in the Gulf Stream, and I thought
it something serious, but an older sailor would have thought
nothing of it. As I had now become used to the vessel and to my
duty, I was of some service on a yard, and could knot my
reef-point as well as anybody. I obeyed the order to lay[1] aloft
with the rest, and found the reefing a very exciting scene; for
one watch reefed the fore-topsail, and the other the main, and
every one did his utmost to get his topsail hoisted first. We had
a great advantage over the larboard watch, because the chief mate
never goes aloft, while our new second mate used to jump into the
rigging as soon as we began to haul out the reef-tackle, and have
the weather earing passed before there was a man upon the yard. In
this way we were almost always able to raise the cry of ``Haul out
to leeward'' before them; and, having knotted our points, would
slide down the shrouds and back-stays, and sing out at the topsail
halyards, to let it be known that we were ahead of them. Reefing
is the most exciting part of a sailor's duty. All hands are
engaged upon it, and after the halyards are let go, there is no
time to be lost,-- no ``sogering,'' or hanging back, then. If one
is not quick enough, another runs over him. The first on the yard
goes to the weather earing, the second to the lee, and the next
two to the ``dog's ears''; while the others lay along into the
bunt, just giving each other elbow-room. In reefing, the yard-arms
(the extremes of the yards) are the posts of honor; but in
furling, the strongest and most experienced stand in the slings
(or middle of the yard) to make up the bunt. If the second mate is
a smart fellow, he will never let any one take either of these
posts from him; but if he is wanting either in seamanship,
strength, or activity, some better man will get the bunt and
earings from him, which immediately brings him into disrepute.

We remained for the rest of the night, and throughout the next
day, under the same close sail, for it continued to blow very
fresh; and though we had no more hail, yet there was a soaking
rain, and it was quite cold and uncomfortable; the more so,
because we were not prepared for cold weather, but had on our thin
clothes. We were glad to get a watch below, and put on our thick
clothing, boots, and southwesters. Towards sundown the gale
moderated a little, and it began to clear off in the southwest. We
shook our reefs out, one by one, and before midnight had
top-gallant sails upon her.

We had now made up our minds for Cape Horn and cold weather, and
entered upon the necessary preparations.

Tuesday, November 4th. At daybreak, saw land upon our larboard
quarter. There were two islands, of different size, but of the
same shape; rather high, beginning low at the water's edge, and
running with a curved ascent to the middle. They were so far off
as to be of a deep blue color, and in a few hours we sank them in
the northeast. These were the Falkland Islands. We had run between
them and the main land of Patagonia. At sunset, the second mate,
who was at the mast-head, said that he saw land on the starboard
bow. This must have been the island of Staten Land; and we were
now in the region of Cape Horn, with a fine breeze from the
northward, topmast and top-gallant studding-sails set, and every
prospect of a speedy and pleasant passage round.

[1] This word ``lay,'' which is in such general use on board ship,
being used in giving orders instead of ``go,'' as ``Lay forward!''
``Lay aft!'' ``Lay aloft!'' &c., I do not understand to be the
neuter verb lie, mispronounced, but to be the active verb lay,
with the objective case understood; as, ``Lay yourselves
forward!'' ``Lay yourselves aft!'' &c. At all events, lay is an
active verb at sea, and means go.


Wednesday, November 5th. The weather was fine during the previous
night, and we had a clear view of the Magellan Clouds and of the
Southern Cross. The Magellan Clouds consist of three small nebulae
in the southern part of the heavens,-- two bright, like the
milky-way, and one dark. They are first seen, just above the
horizon, soon after crossing the southern tropic. The Southern
Cross begins to be seen at 18░ N., and, when off Cape Horn, is
nearly overhead. It is composed of four stars in that form, and is
one of the brightest constellations in the heavens.

During the first part of this day (Wednesday) the wind was light,
but after noon it came on fresh, and we furled the royals. We
still kept the studding-sails out, and the captain said he should
go round with them if he could. Just before eight o'clock (then
about sundown, in that latitude) the cry of ``All hands ahoy!''
was sounded down the fore scuttle and the after hatchway, and,
hurrying upon deck, we found a large black cloud rolling on toward
us from the southwest, and darkening the whole heavens. ``Here
comes Cape Horn!'' said the chief mate; and we had hardly time to
haul down and clew up before it was upon us. In a few minutes a
heavier sea was raised than I had ever seen, and as it was
directly ahead, the little brig, which was no better than a
bathing-machine, plunged into it, and all the forward part of her
was under water; the sea pouring in through the bow-ports and
hawse-holes and over the knight-heads, threatening to wash
everything overboard. In the lee scuppers it was up to a man's
waist. We sprang aloft and double-reefed the topsails, and furled
the other sails, and made all snug. But this would not do; the
brig was laboring and straining against the head sea, and the gale
was growing worse and worse. At the same time sleet and hail were
driving with all fury against us. We clewed down, and hauled out
the reef-tackles again, and close-reefed the fore-topsail, and
furled the main, and hove her to, on the starboard tack. Here was
an end to our fine prospects. We made up our minds to head winds
and cold weather; sent down the royal yards, and unrove the gear;
but all the rest of the top hamper remained aloft, even to the
sky-sail masts and studding-sail booms.

Throughout the night it stormed violently,-- rain, hail, snow, and
sleet beating upon the vessel,-- the wind continuing ahead, and
the sea running high. At daybreak (about three A.M.) the deck was
covered with snow. The captain sent up the steward with a glass of
grog to each of the watch; and all the time that we were off the
Cape, grog was given to the morning watch, and to all hands
whenever we reefed topsails. The clouds cleared away at sunrise,
and, the wind becoming more fair, we again made sail and stood
nearly up to our course.

Thursday, November 6th. It continued more pleasant through the
first part of the day, but at night we had the same scene over
again. This time we did not heave to, as on the night before, but
endeavored to beat to windward under close-reefed topsails,
balance-reefed trysail, and fore top-mast staysail. This night it
was my turn to steer, or, as the sailors say, my trick at the
helm, for two hours. Inexperienced as I was, I made out to steer
to the satisfaction of the officer, and neither Stimson nor I gave
up our tricks, all the time that we were off the Cape. This was
something to boast of, for it requires a good deal of skill and
watchfulness to steer a vessel close hauled, in a gale of wind,
against a heavy head sea. ``Ease her when she pitches,'' is the
word; and a little carelessness in letting her ship a heavy sea
might sweep the decks, or take a mast out of her.

Friday, November 7th. Towards morning the wind went down, and
during the whole forenoon we lay tossing about in a dead calm, and
in the midst of a thick fog. The calms here are unlike those in
most parts of the world, for here there is generally so high a sea
running, with periods of calm so short that it has no time to go
down; and vessels, being under no command of sails or rudder, lie
like logs upon the water. We were obliged to steady the booms and
yards by guys and braces, and to lash everything well below. We
now found our top hamper of some use, for though it is liable to
be carried away or sprung by the sudden ``bringing up'' of a
vessel when pitching in a chopping sea, yet it is a great help in
steadying a vessel when rolling in a long swell,-- giving more
slowness, ease, and regularity to the motion.

The calm of the morning reminds me of a scene which I forgot to
describe at the time of its occurrence, but which I remember from
its being the first time that I had heard the near breathing of
whales. It was on the night that we passed between the Falkland
Islands and Staten Land. We had the watch from twelve to four,
and, coming upon deck, found the little brig lying perfectly
still, enclosed in a thick fog, and the sea as smooth as though
oil had been poured upon it; yet now and then a long, low swell
rolling under its surface, slightly lifting the vessel, but
without breaking the glassy smoothness of the water. We were
surrounded far and near by shoals of sluggish whales and
grampuses, which the fog prevented our seeing, rising slowly to
the surface, or perhaps lying out at length, heaving out those
lazy, deep, and long-drawn breathings which give such an
impression of supineness and strength. Some of the watch were
asleep, and the others were quiet, so that there was nothing to
break the illusion, and I stood leaning over the bulwarks,
listening to the slow breathings of the mighty creatures,-- now
one breaking the water just alongside, whose black body I almost
fancied that I could see through the fog; and again another, which
I could just hear in the distance,-- until the low and regular
swell seemed like the heaving of the ocean's mighty bosom to the
sound of its own heavy and long-drawn respirations.

Towards the evening of this day (Friday, 7th) the fog cleared off,
and we had every appearance of a cold blow; and soon after sundown
it came on. Again it was clew up and haul down, reef and furl,
until we had got her down to close-reefed topsails, double-reefed
trysail, and reefed fore spenser. Snow, hail, and sleet were
driving upon us most of the night, and the sea was breaking over
the bows and covering the forward part of the little vessel; but,
as she would lay her course, the captain refused to heave her to.

Saturday, November 8th. This day began with calm and thick fog,
and ended with hail, snow, a violent wind, and close-reefed

Sunday, November 9th. To-day the sun rose clear and continued so
until twelve o'clock, when the captain got an observation. This
was very well for Cape Horn, and we thought it a little remarkable
that, as we had not had one unpleasant Sunday during the whole
voyage, the only tolerable day here should be a Sunday. We got
time to clear up the steerage and forecastle, and set things to
rights, and to overhaul our wet clothes a little. But this did not
last very long. Between five and six-- the sun was then nearly
three hours high-- the cry of ``All Starbowlines[1] ahoy!'' summoned
our watch on deck, and immediately all hands were called. A true
specimen of Cape Horn was coming upon us. A great cloud of a dark
slate-color was driving on us from the southwest; and we did our
best to take in sail (for the light sails had been set during the
first part of the day) before we were in the midst of it. We had
got the light sails furled, the courses hauled up, and the topsail
reef-tackles hauled out, and were just mounting the fore-rigging
when the storm struck us. In an instant the sea, which had been
comparatively quiet, was running higher and higher; and it became
almost as dark as night. The hail and sleet were harder than I had
yet felt them; seeming almost to pin us down to the rigging. We
were longer taking in sail than ever before; for the sails were
stiff and wet, the ropes and rigging covered with snow and sleet,
and we ourselves cold and nearly blinded with the violence of the
storm. By the time we had got down upon deck again, the little
brig was plunging madly into a tremendous head sea, which at every
drive rushed in through the bow-ports and over the bows, and
buried all the forward part of the vessel. At this instant the
chief mate, who was standing on the top of the windlass, at the
foot of the spenser-mast, called out, ``Lay out there and furl the
jib!'' This was no agreeable or safe duty, yet it must be done.
John, a Swede (the best sailor on board), who belonged on the
forecastle, sprang out upon the bowsprit. Another one must go. It
was a clear case of holding back. I was near the mate, but sprang
past several, threw the downhaul over the windlass, and jumped
between the knight-heads out upon the bowsprit. The crew stood
abaft the windlass and hauled the jib down, while John and I got
out upon the weather side of the jib-boom, our feet on the
foot-ropes, holding on by the spar, the great jib flying off to
leeward and slatting so as almost to throw us off the boom. For
some time we could do nothing but hold on, and the vessel, diving
into two huge seas, one after the other, plunged us twice into the
water up to our chins. We hardly knew whether we were on or off;
when, the boom lifting us up dripping from the water, we were
raised high into the air and then plunged below again. John
thought the boom would go every moment, and called out to the mate
to keep the vessel off, and haul down the staysail; but the fury
of the wind and the breaking of the seas against the bows defied
every attempt to make ourselves heard, and we were obliged to do
the best we could in our situation. Fortunately no other seas so
heavy struck her, and we succeeded in furling the jib ``after a
fashion''; and, coming in over the staysail nettings, were not a
little pleased to find that all was snug, and the watch gone
below; for we were soaked through, and it was very cold. John
admitted that it had been a post of danger, which good sailors
seldom do when the thing is over. The weather continued nearly the
same through the night.

Monday, November 10th. During a part of this day we were hove to,
but the rest of the time were driving on, under close-reefed
sails, with a heavy sea, a strong gale, and frequent squalls of
hail and snow.

Tuesday, November 11th. The same.

Wednesday. The same.

Thursday. The same.

We had now got hardened to Cape weather, the vessel was under
reduced sail, and everything secured on deck and below, so that we
had little to do but to steer and to stand our watch. Our clothes
were all wet through, and the only change was from wet to more
wet. There is no fire in the forecastle, and we cannot dry clothes
at the galley. It was in vain to think of reading or working
below, for we were too tired, the hatchways were closed down, and
everything was wet and uncomfortable, black and dirty, heaving and
pitching. We had only to come below when the watch was out, wring
our wet clothes, hang them up to chafe against the bulkheads, and
turn in and sleep as soundly as we could, until our watch was
called again. A sailor can sleep anywhere,-- no sound of wind,
water, canvas, rope, wood, or iron can keep him awake,-- and we
were always fast asleep when three blows on the hatchway, and the
unwelcome cry of ``All Starbowlines ahoy! eight bells there below!
do you hear the news?'' (the usual formula of calling the watch)
roused us up from our berths upon the cold, wet decks. The only
time when we could be said to take any pleasure was at night and
morning, when we were allowed a tin pot full of hot tea (or, as
the sailors significantly call it, ``water bewitched'') sweetened
with molasses. This, bad as it was, was still warm and comforting,
and, together with our sea biscuit and cold salt beef, made a
meal. Yet even this meal was attended with some uncertainty. We
had to go ourselves to the galley and take our kid of beef and tin
pots of tea, and run the risk of losing them before we could get
below. Many a kid of beef have I seen rolling in the scuppers, and
the bearer lying at his length on the decks. I remember an English
lad who was the life of the crew-- whom we afterwards lost
overboard-- standing for nearly ten minutes at the galley, with
his pot of tea in his hand, waiting for a chance to get down into
the forecastle; and, seeing what he thought was a ``smooth
spell,'' started to go forward. He had just got to the end of the
windlass, when a great sea broke over the bows, and for a moment I
saw nothing of him but his head and shoulders; and at the next
instant, being taken off his legs, he was carried aft with the
sea, until her stern lifting up, and sending the water forward, he
was left high and dry at the side of the long-boat, still holding
on to his tin pot, which had now nothing in it but salt water. But
nothing could ever daunt him, or overcome, for a moment, his
habitual good-humor. Regaining his legs, and shaking his fist at
the man at the wheel, he rolled below, saying, as he passed, ``A
man's no sailor, if he can't take a joke.'' The ducking was not
the worst of such an affair, for, as there was an allowance of
tea, you could get no more from the galley; and though the others
would never suffer a man to go without, but would always turn in a
little from their own pots to fill up his, yet this was at best
but dividing the loss among all hands.

Something of the same kind befell me a few days after. The cook
had just made for us a mess of hot ``scouse,''-- that is, biscuit
pounded fine, salt beef cut into small pieces, and a few potatoes,
boiled up together and seasoned with pepper. This was a rare
treat, and I, being the last at the galley, had it put in my
charge to carry down for the mess. I got along very well as far as
the hatchway, and was just going down the steps, when a heavy sea,
lifting the stern out of water, and, passing forward, dropping it
again, threw the steps from their place, and I came down into the
steerage a little faster than I meant to, with the kid on top of
me, and the whole precious mess scattered over the floor. Whatever
your feelings may be, you must make a joke of everything at sea;
and if you were to fall from aloft and be caught in the belly of a
sail, and thus saved from instant death, it would not do to look
at all disturbed, or to treat it as a serious matter.

Friday, November 14th. We were now well to the westward of the
Cape, and were changing our course to northward as much as we
dared, since the strong southwest winds, which prevailed then,
carried us in towards Patagonia. At two P.M. we saw a sail on our
larboard beam, and at four we made it out to be a large ship,
steering our course, under single-reefed topsails. We at that time
had shaken the reefs out of our topsails, as the wind was lighter,
and set the main top-gallant sail. As soon as our captain saw what
sail she was under, he set the fore top-gallant sail and flying
jib; and the old whaler-- for such his boats and short sail showed
him to be-- felt a little ashamed, and shook the reefs out of his
topsails, but could do no more, for he had sent down his
top-gallant masts off the Cape. He ran down for us, and answered
our hail as the whale-ship New England, of Poughkeepsie, one
hundred and twenty days from New York. Our captain gave our name,
and added, ninety-two days from Boston. They then had a little
conversation about longitude, in which they found that they could
not agree. The ship fell astern, and continued in sight during the
night. Toward morning, the wind having become light, we crossed
our royal and skysail yards, and at daylight we were seen under a
cloud of sail, having royals and skysails fore and aft. The
``spouter,'' as the sailors call a whaleman, had sent up his main
top-gallant mast and set the sail, and made signal for us to heave
to. About half past seven their whale-boat came alongside, and
Captain Job Terry sprang on board, a man known in every port and
by every vessel in the Pacific Ocean. ``Don't you know Job Terry?
I thought everybody knew Job Terry,'' said a green hand, who came
in the boat, to me, when I asked him about his captain. He was
indeed a singular man. He was six feet high, wore thick cowhide
boots, and brown coat and trousers, and, except a sunburnt
complexion, had not the slightest appearance of a sailor; yet he
had been forty years in the whale-trade, and, as he said himself,
had owned ships, built ships, and sailed ships. His boat's crew
were a pretty raw set, just out of the bush, and, as the sailor's
phrase is, ``hadn't got the hayseed out of their hair.'' Captain
Terry convinced our captain that our reckoning was a little out,
and, having spent the day on board, put off in his boat at sunset
for his ship, which was now six or eight miles astern. He began a
``yarn'' when he came aboard, which lasted, with but little
intermission, for four hours. It was all about himself, and the
Peruvian government, and the Dublin frigate, and her captain, Lord
James Townshend, and President Jackson, and the ship Ann M'Kim, of
Baltimore. It would probably never have come to an end, had not a
good breeze sprung up, which sent him off to his own vessel. One
of the lads who came in his boat, a thoroughly countrified-looking
fellow, seemed to care very little about the vessel, rigging, or
anything else, but went round looking at the live stock, and
leaned over the pigsty, and said he wished he was back again
tending his father's pigs.

A curious case of dignity occurred here. It seems that in a
whale-ship there is an intermediate class, called boat-steerers.
One of them came in Captain Terry's boat, but we thought he was
cockswain of the boat, and a cockswain is only a sailor. In the
whaler, the boat-steerers are between the officers and crew, a
sort of petty officers; keep by themselves in the waist, sleep
amidships, and eat by themselves, either at a separate table, or
at the cabin table, after the captain and mates are done. Of all
this hierarchy we were entirely ignorant, so the poor boat-steerer
was left to himself. The second mate would not notice him, and
seemed surprised at his keeping amidships, but his pride of office
would not allow him to go forward. With dinner-time came the
experimentum crucis. What would he do? The second mate went to the
second table without asking him. There was nothing for him but
famine or humiliation. We asked him into the forecastle, but he
faintly declined. The whale-boat's crew explained it to us, and we
asked him again. Hunger got the victory over pride of rank, and
his boat-steering majesty had to take his grub out of our kid, and
eat with his jack-knife. Yet the man was ill at ease all the time,
was sparing of his conversation, and kept up the notion of a
condescension under stress of circumstances. One would say that,
instead of a tendency to equality in human beings, the tendency is
to make the most of inequalities, natural or artificial.

At eight o'clock we altered our course to the northward, bound for
Juan Fernandez.

This day we saw the last of the albatrosses, which had been our
companions a great part of the time off the Cape. I had been
interested in the bird from descriptions, and Coleridge's poem,
and was not at all disappointed. We caught one or two with a
baited hook which we floated astern upon a shingle. Their long,
flapping wings, long legs, and large, staring eyes, give them a
very peculiar appearance. They look well on the wing; but one of
the finest sights that I have ever seen was an albatross asleep
upon the water, during a calm, off Cape Horn, when a heavy sea was
running. There being no breeze, the surface of the water was
unbroken, but a long, heavy swell was rolling, and we saw the
fellow, all white, directly ahead of us, asleep upon the waves,
with his head under his wing; now rising on the top of one of the
big billows, and then falling slowly until he was lost in the
hollow between. He was undisturbed for some time, until the noise
of our bows, gradually approaching, roused him, when, lifting his
head, he stared upon us for a moment, and then spread his wide
wings and took his flight.

[1] It is the fashion to call the respective watches Starbowlines
and Larbowlines.


Monday, November 17th. This was a black day in our calendar. At
seven o'clock in the morning, it being our watch below, we were
aroused from a sound sleep by the cry of ``All hands ahoy! a man
overboard!'' This unwonted cry sent a thrill through the heart of
every one, and, hurrying on deck, we found the vessel hove flat
aback, with all her studding-sails set; for, the boy who was at
the helm leaving it to throw something overboard, the carpenter,
who was an old sailor, knowing that the wind was light, put the
helm down and hove her aback. The watch on deck were lowering away
the quarter-boat, and I got on deck just in time to fling myself
into her as she was leaving the side; but it was not until out
upon the wide Pacific, in our little boat, that I knew whom we had
lost. It was George Ballmer, the young English sailor, whom I have
before spoken of as the life of the crew. He was prized by the
officers as an active and willing seaman, and by the men as a
lively, hearty fellow, and a good shipmate. He was going aloft to
fit a strap round the main topmasthead, for ringtail halyards, and
had the strap and block, a coil of halyards, and a marline-spike
about his neck. He fell from the starboard futtock shrouds, and,
not knowing how to swim, and being heavily dressed, with all those
things round his neck, he probably sank immediately. We pulled
astern, in the direction in which he fell, and though we knew that
there was no hope of saving him, yet no one wished to speak of
returning, and we rowed about for nearly an hour, without an idea
of doing anything, but unwilling to acknowledge to ourselves that
we must give him up. At length we turned the boat's head and made
towards the brig.

Death is at all times solemn, but never so much so as at sea. A
man dies on shore; his body remains with his friends, and ``the
mourners go about the streets''; but when a man falls overboard at
sea and is lost, there is a suddenness in the event, and a
difficulty in realizing it, which give to it an air of awful
mystery. A man dies on shore,-- you follow his body to the grave,
and a stone marks the spot. You are often prepared for the event.
There is always something which helps you to realize it when it
happens, and to recall it when it has passed. A man is shot down
by your side in battle, and the mangled body remains an object,
and a real evidence; but at sea, the man is near you,-- at your
side,-- you hear his voice, and in an instant he is gone, and
nothing but a vacancy shows his loss. Then, too, at sea-- to use a
homely but expressive phrase-- you miss a man so much. A dozen men
are shut up together in a little bark upon the wide, wide sea, and
for months and months see no forms and hear no voices but their
own, and one is taken suddenly from among them, and they miss him
at every turn. It is like losing a limb. There are no new faces or
new scenes to fill up the gap. There is always an empty berth in
the forecastle, and one man wanting when the small night-watch is
mustered. There is one less to take the wheel, and one less to lay
out with you upon the yard. You miss his form, and the sound of
his voice, for habit had made them almost necessary to you, and
each of your senses feels the loss.

All these things make such a death peculiarly solemn, and the
effect of it remains upon the crew for some time. There is more
kindness shown by the officers to the crew, and by the crew to one
another. There is more quietness and seriousness. The oath and the
loud laugh are gone. The officers are more watchful, and the crew
go more carefully aloft. The lost man is seldom mentioned, or is
dismissed with a sailor's rude eulogy,-- ``Well, poor George is
gone! His cruise is up soon! He knew his work, and did his duty,
and was a good shipmate.'' Then usually follows some allusion to
another world, for sailors are almost all believers, in their way;
though their notions and opinions are unfixed and at loose ends.
They say, ``God won't be hard upon the poor fellow,'' and seldom
get beyond the common phrase which seems to imply that their
sufferings and hard treatment here will be passed to their credit
in the books of the Great Captain hereafter,-- ``To work hard,
live hard, die hard, and go to hell after all, would be hard
indeed!'' Our cook, a simple-hearted old African, who had been
through a good deal in his day, and was rather seriously inclined,
always going to church twice a day when on shore, and reading his
Bible on a Sunday in the galley, talked to the crew about spending
the Lord's Days badly, and told them that they might go as
suddenly as George had, and be as little prepared.

Yet a sailor's life is at best but a mixture of a little good with
much evil, and a little pleasure with much pain. The beautiful is
linked with the revolting, the sublime with the commonplace, and
the solemn with the ludicrous.

Not long after we had returned on board with our sad report, an
auction was held of the poor man's effects. The captain had first,
however, called all hands aft and asked them if they were
satisfied that everything had been done to save the man, and if
they thought there was any use in remaining there longer. The crew
all said that it was in vain, for the man did not know how to
swim, and was very heavily dressed. So we then filled away and
kept the brig off to her course.

The laws regulating navigation make the captain answerable for the
effects of a sailor who dies during the voyage, and it is either a
law or a custom, established for convenience, that the captain
should soon hold an auction of his things, in which they are bid
off by the sailors, and the sums which they give are deducted from
their wages at the end of the voyage. In this way the trouble and
risk of keeping his things through the voyage are avoided, and the
clothes are usually sold for more than they would be worth on
shore. Accordingly, we had no sooner got the ship before the wind,
than his chest was brought up upon the forecastle, and the sale
began. The jackets and trousers in which we had seen him dressed
so lately were exposed and bid off while the life was hardly out
of his body, and his chest was taken aft and used as a
store-chest, so that there was nothing left which could be called
his. Sailors have an unwillingness to wear a dead man's clothes
during the same voyage, and they seldom do so, unless they are in
absolute want.

As is usual after a death, many stories were told about George.
Some had heard him say that he repented never having learned to
swim, and that he knew that he should meet his death by drowning.
Another said that he never knew any good to come of a voyage made
against the will, and the deceased man shipped and spent his
advance, and was afterwards very unwilling to go, but, not being
able to refund, was obliged to sail with us. A boy, too, who had
become quite attached to him, said that George talked to him,
during most of the watch on the night before, about his mother and
family at home, and this was the first time that he had mentioned
the subject during the voyage.

The night after this event, when I went to the galley to get a
light, I found the cook inclined to be talkative, so I sat down on
the spars, and gave him an opportunity to hold a yarn. I was the
more inclined to do so, as I found that he was full of the
superstitions once more common among seamen, and which the recent
death had waked up in his mind. He talked about George's having
spoken of his friends, and said he believed few men died without
having a warning of it, which he supported by a great many stories
of dreams, and of unusual behavior of men before death. From this
he went on to other superstitions, the Flying Dutchman, &c., and
talked rather mysteriously, having something evidently on his
mind. At length he put his head out of the galley and looked
carefully about to see if any one was within hearing, and, being
satisfied on that point, asked me in a low tone,--

``I say! you know what countryman 'e carpenter be?''

``Yes,'' said I; ``he's a German.''

``What kind of a German?'' said the cook.

``He belongs to Bremen,'' said I.

``Are you sure o' dat?'' said he.

I satisfied him on that point by saying that he could speak no
language but the German and English.

``I'm plaguy glad o' dat,'' said the cook. ``I was mighty 'fraid
he was a Fin. I tell you what, I been plaguy civil to that man all
the voyage.''

I asked him the reason of this, and found that he was fully
possessed with the notion that Fins are wizards, and especially
have power over winds and storms. I tried to reason with him about
it, but he had the best of all arguments, that from experience, at
hand, and was not to be moved. He had been to the Sandwich Islands
in a vessel in which the sail-maker was a Fin, and could do
anything he was of a mind to. This sail-maker kept a junk bottle
in his berth, which was always just half full of rum, though he
got drunk upon it nearly every day. He had seen him sit for hours
together, talking to this bottle, which he stood up before him on
the table. The same man cut his throat in his berth, and everybody
said he was possessed.

He had heard of ships, too, beating up the gulf of Finland against
a head wind, and having a ship heave in sight astern, overhaul,
and pass them, with as fair a wind as could blow, and all
studding-sails out, and find she was from Finland.

``Oh, no!'' said he; ``I've seen too much o' dem men to want to
see 'em 'board a ship. If dey can't have dare own way, they'll
play the d---l with you.''

As I still doubted, he said he would leave it to John, who was the
oldest seaman aboard, and would know, if anybody did. John, to be
sure, was the oldest, and at the same time the most ignorant, man
in the ship; but I consented to have him called. The cook stated
the matter to him, and John, as I anticipated, sided with the
cook, and said that he himself had been in a ship where they had a
head wind for a fortnight, and the captain found out at last that
one of the men, with whom he had had same hard words a short time
before, was a Fin, and immediately told him if he didn't stop the
head wind he would shut him down in the fore peak. The Fin would
not give in, and the captain shut him down in the fore peak, and
would not give him anything to eat. The Fin held out for a day and
a half, when he could not stand it any longer, and did something
or other which brought the wind round again, and they let him up.

``Dar,'' said the cook, ``what you tink o' dat?''

I told him I had no doubt it was true, and that it would have been
odd if the wind had not changed in fifteen days, Fin or no Fin.

``O,'' says he, ``go 'way! You tink, 'cause you been to college,
you know better dan anybody. You know better dan dem as 'as seen
it wid der own eyes. You wait till you've been to sea as long as I
have, and den you'll know.''


We continued sailing along with a fair wind and fine weather until--

Tuesday, November 25th, when at daylight we saw the island of Juan
Fernandez directly ahead, rising like a deep blue cloud out of the
sea. We were then probably nearly seventy miles from it; and so
high and so blue did it appear that I mistook it for a cloud
resting over the island, and looked for the island under it, until
it gradually turned to a deader and greener color, and I could
mark the inequalities upon its surface. At length we could
distinguish trees and rocks; and by the afternoon this beautiful
island lay fairly before us, and we directed our course to the
only harbor. Arriving at the entrance soon after sundown, we found
a Chilian man-of-war brig, the only vessel, coming out. She hailed
us; and an officer on board, whom we supposed to be an American,
advised us to run in before night, and said that they were bound
to Valparaiso. We ran immediately for the anchorage, but, owing to
the winds which drew about the mountains and came to us in flaws
from different points of the compass, we did not come to an anchor
until nearly midnight. We had a boat ahead all the time that we
were working in, and those aboard ship were continually bracing
the yards about for every puff that struck us, until about twelve
o'clock, when we came to in forty fathoms water, and our anchor
struck bottom for the first time since we left Boston,-- one
hundred and three days. We were then divided into three watches,
and thus stood out the remainder of the night.

I was called on deck to stand my watch at about three in the
morning, and I shall never forget the peculiar sensation which I
experienced on finding myself once more surrounded by land,
feeling the night-breeze coming from off shore, and hearing the
frogs and crickets. The mountains seemed almost to hang over us,
and apparently from the very heart of them there came out, at
regular intervals, a loud echoing sound, which affected me as
hardly human. We saw no lights, and could hardly account for the
sound, until the mate, who had been there before, told us that it
was the ``Alerta'' of the Chilian soldiers, who were stationed
over some convicts confined in caves nearly half-way up the
mountain. At the expiration of my watch, I went below, feeling not
a little anxious for the day, that I might see more nearly, and
perhaps tread upon, this romantic, I may almost say classic,

When all hands were called it was nearly sunrise, and between that
time and breakfast, although quite busy on board in getting up
water-casks, &c., I had a good view of the objects about me. The
harbor was nearly land-locked, and at the head of it was a
landing, protected by a small breakwater of stones, upon which two
large boats were hauled up, with a sentry standing over them. Near
this was a variety of huts or cottages, nearly a hundred in
number, the best of them built of mud or unburnt clay, and
whitewashed, but the greater part Robinson Crusoe like,-- only of
posts and branches of trees. The governor's house, as it is
called, was the most conspicuous, being large, with grated
windows, plastered walls, and roof of red tiles; yet, like all the
rest, only of one story. Near it was a small chapel, distinguished
by a cross; and a long, low, brown-looking building, surrounded by
something like a palisade, from which an old and dingy-looking
Chilian flag was flying. This, of course, was dignified by the
title of Presidio. A sentinel was stationed at the chapel, another
at the governor's house, and a few soldiers, armed with bayonets,
looking rather ragged, with shoes out at the toes, were strolling
about among the houses, or waiting at the landing-place for our
boat to come ashore.

The mountains were high, but not so overhanging as they appeared
to be by starlight. They seemed to bear off towards the centre of
the island, and were green and well wooded, with some large, and,
I am told, exceedingly fertile valleys, with mule-tracks leading
to different parts of the island.

I cannot here forget how Stimson and I got the laugh of the crew
upon us by our eagerness to get on shore. The captain having
ordered the quarter-boat to be lowered, we both, thinking it was
going ashore, sprang down into the forecastle, filled our jacket
pockets with tobacco to barter with the people ashore, and, when
the officer called for ``four hands in the boat,'' nearly broke
our necks in our haste to be first over the side, and had the
pleasure of pulling ahead of the brig with a tow-line for half an
hour, and coming on board again to be laughed at by the crew, who
had seen our manoeuvre.

After breakfast, the second mate was ordered ashore with five
hands to fill the water-casks, and, to my joy, I was among the
number. We pulled ashore with empty casks; and here again fortune
favored me, for the water was too thick and muddy to be put into
the casks, and the governor had sent men up to the head of the
stream to clear it out for us, which gave us nearly two hours of
leisure. This leisure we employed in wandering about among the
houses, and eating a little fruit which was offered to us. Ground
apples, melons, grapes, strawberries of an enormous size, and
cherries abound here. The latter are said to have been planted by
Lord Anson. The soldiers were miserably clad, and asked with some
interest whether we had shoes to sell on board. I doubt very much
if they had the means of buying them. They were very eager to get
tobacco, for which they gave shells, fruit, &c. Knives were also
in demand, but we were forbidden by the governor to let any one
have them, as he told us that all the people there, except the
soldiers and a few officers, were convicts sent from Valparaiso,
and that it was necessary to keep all weapons from their hands.
The island, it seems, belongs to Chili, and had been used by the
government as a penal colony for nearly two years; and the
governor,-- an Englishman who had entered the Chilian navy,-- with
a priest, half a dozen taskmasters, and a body of soldiers, were
stationed there to keep them in order. This was no easy task; and,
only a few months before our arrival, a few of them had stolen a
boat at night, boarded a brig lying in the harbor, sent the
captain and crew ashore in their boat, and gone off to sea. We
were informed of this, and loaded our arms and kept strict watch
on board through the night, and were careful not to let the
convicts get our knives from us when on shore. The worst part of
the convicts, I found, were locked up under sentry, in caves dug
into the side of the mountain, nearly half-way up, with
mule-tracks leading to them, whence they were taken by day and set
to work under taskmasters upon building an aqueduct, a wharf, and
other public works; while the rest lived in the houses which they
put up for themselves, had their families with them, and seemed to
me to be the laziest people on the face of the earth. They did
nothing but take a paseo into the woods, a paseo among the houses,
a paseo at the landing-place, looking at us and our vessel, and
too lazy to speak fast; while the others were driven about, at a
rapid trot, in single file, with burdens on their shoulders, and
followed up by their taskmasters, with long rods in their hands,
and broad-brimmed straw hats upon their heads. Upon what precise
grounds this great distinction was made, I do not know, and I
could not very well know, for the governor was the only man who
spoke English upon the island, and he was out of my walk, for I
was a sailor ashore as well as on board.

Having filled our casks we returned on board, and soon after, the
governor dressed in a uniform like that of an American militia
officer, the Padre, in the dress of the gray friars, with hood and
all complete, and the Capitan, with big whiskers and dirty
regimentals, came on board to dine. While at dinner a large ship
appeared in the offing, and soon afterwards we saw a light
whale-boat pulling into the harbor. The ship lay off and on, and a
boat came alongside of us, and put on board the captain, a plain
young Quaker, dressed all in brown. The ship was the Cortes,
whaleman, of New Bedford, and had put in to see if there were any
vessels from round the Horn, and to hear the latest news from
America. They remained aboard a short time, and had a little talk
with the crew, when they left us and pulled off to their ship,
which, having filled away, was soon out of sight.

A small boat which came from the shore to take away the governor
and suite-- as they styled themselves-- brought, as a present to
the crew, a large pail of milk, a few shells, and a block of
sandal-wood. The milk, which was the first we had tasted since
leaving Boston, we soon despatched; a piece of the sandal-wood I
obtained, and learned that it grew on the hills in the centre of
the island. I regretted that I did not bring away other specimens;
but what I had-- the piece of sandalwood, and a small flower which
I plucked and brought on board in the crown of my tarpaulin, and
carefully pressed between the leaves of a volume of Cowper's
Letters-- were lost, with my chest and its contents, by another's
negligence, on our arrival home.

About an hour before sundown, having stowed our water-casks, we
began getting under way, and were not a little while about it; for
we were in thirty fathoms water, and in one of the gusts which
came from off shore had let go our other bow anchor; and as the
southerly wind draws round the mountains and comes off in
uncertain flaws, we were continually swinging round, and had thus
got a very foul hawse. We hove in upon our chain, and after
stoppering and unshackling it again and again, and hoisting and
hauling down sail, we at length tripped our anchor and stood out
to sea. It was bright starlight when we were clear of the bay, and
the lofty island lay behind us in its still beauty, and I gave a
parting look and bade farewell to the most romantic spot of earth
that my eyes had ever seen. I did then, and have ever since, felt
an attachment for that island together peculiar. It was partly, no
doubt, from its having been the first land that I had seen since
leaving home, and still more from the associations which every one
has connected with it in his childhood from reading Robinson
Crusoe. To this I may add the height and romantic outline of its
mountains, the beauty and freshness of its verdure and the extreme
fertility of its soil, and its solitary position in the midst of
the wide expanse of the South Pacific, as all concurring to give
it its charm.

When thoughts of this place have occurred to me at different times,
I have endeavored to recall more particulars with regard to it.
It is situated in about 33░ 30' S., and is distant a little more
than three hundred miles from Valparaiso, on the coast of Chili,
which is in the same latitude. It is about fifteen miles in length
and five in breadth. The harbor in which we anchored (called by
Lord Anson Cumberland Bay) is the only one in the island, two small
bights of land on each side of the main bay (sometimes dignified
by the name of bays) being little more than landing-places for boats.
The best anchorage is at the western side of the harbor, where we
lay at about three cables' lengths from the shore, in a little
more than thirty fathoms water. This harbor is open to the N. N. E.,
and in fact nearly from N. to E.; but the only dangerous winds being
the southwest, on which side are the highest mountains, it is
considered safe. The most remarkable thing, perhaps, about it is
the fish with which it abounds. Two of our crew, who remained on
board, caught in a short time enough to last us for several days,
and one of the men, who was a Marblehead man, said that he never
saw or heard of such an abundance. There were cod, bream,
silver-fish, and other kinds, whose names they did not know, or
which I have forgotten.

There is an abundance of the best of water upon the island, small
streams running through every valley, and leaping down from the
sides of the hills. One stream of considerable size flows through
the centre of the lawn upon which the houses are built, and
furnishes an easy and abundant supply to the inhabitants. This, by
means of a short wooden aqueduct, was brought quite down to our
boats. The convicts had also built something in the way of a
breakwater, and were to build a landing-place for boats and goods,
after which the Chilian government intended to lay port charges.

Of the wood, I can only say that it appeared to be abundant; the
island in the month of November, when we were there, being in all
the freshness and beauty of spring, appeared covered with trees.
These were chiefly aromatic, and the largest was the myrtle. The
soil is very loose and rich, and wherever it is broken up there
spring up radishes, turnips, ground apples, and other garden
fruits. Goats, we were told, were not abundant, and we saw none,
though it was said we might, if we had gone into the interior. We
saw a few bullocks winding about in the narrow tracks upon the
sides of the mountains, and the settlement was completely overrun
with dogs of every nation, kindred, and degree. Hens and chickens
were also abundant, and seemed to be taken good care of by the
women. The men appeared to be the laziest of mortals; and indeed,
as far as my observation goes, there are no people to whom the
newly invented Yankee word of ``loafer'' is more applicable than
to the Spanish Americans. These men stood about doing nothing,
with their cloaks, little better in texture than an Indian's
blanket, but of rich colors, thrown over their shoulders with an
air which it is said that a Spanish beggar can always give to his
rags, and with politeness and courtesy in their address, though
with holes in their shoes, and without a sou in their pockets. The
only interruption to the monotony of their day seemed to be when a
gust of wind drew round between the mountains and blew off the
boughs which they had placed for roofs to their houses, and gave
them a few minutes' occupation in running about after them. One of
these gusts occurred while we were ashore, and afforded us no
little amusement in seeing the men look round, and, if they found
that their roofs had stood, conclude that they might stand too,
while those who saw theirs blown off, after uttering a few Spanish
oaths, gathered their cloaks over their shoulders, and started off
after them. However, they were not gone long, but soon returned to
their habitual occupation of doing nothing.

It is perhaps needless to say that we saw nothing of the interior;
but all who have seen it give favorable accounts of it. Our
captain went with the governor and a few servants upon mules over
the mountains, and, upon their return, I heard the governor
request him to stop at the island on his passage home, and offer
him a handsome sum to bring a few deer with him from California,
for he said that there were none upon the island, and he was very
desirous of having it stocked.

A steady though light southwesterly wind carried us well off from
the island, and when I came on deck for the middle watch I could
just distinguish it from its hiding a few low stars in the
southern horizon, though my unpractised eyes would hardly have
known it for land. At the close of the watch a few trade-wind
clouds which had arisen, though we were hardly yet in their
latitude, shut it out from our view, and the next day,--

Thursday, November 27th, upon coming on deck in the morning, we
were again upon the wide Pacific, and saw no more land until we
arrived upon the western coast of the great continent of America.


As we saw neither land nor sail from the time of leaving Juan
Fernandez until our arrival in California, nothing of interest
occurred except our own doings on board. We caught the southeast
trades, and ran before them for nearly three weeks, without so
much as altering a sail or bracing a yard. The captain took
advantage of this fine weather to get the vessel in order for
coming upon the coast. The carpenter was employed in fitting up a
part of the steerage into a trade-room; for our cargo, we now
learned, was not to be landed, but to be sold by retail on board;
and this trade-room was built for the samples and the lighter
goods to be kept in, and as a place for the general business. In
the mean time we were employed in working upon the rigging.
Everything was set up taut, the lower rigging rattled down, or
rather rattled up (according to the modern fashion), an abundance
of spun-yarn and seizing-stuff made, and finally the whole
standing-rigging, fore and aft, was tarred down. It was my first
essay at the latter business, and I had enough of it; for nearly
all of it came upon my friend Stimson and myself. The men were
needed at the other work, and Henry Mellus, the other young man
who came out with us before the mast, was laid up with the
rheumatism in his feet, and the boy Sam was rather too young and
small for the business; and as the winds were light and regular he
was kept during most of the daytime at the helm, so that we had
quite as much as we wished of it. We put on short duck frocks,
and, taking a small bucket of tar and a bunch of oakum in our
hands, went aloft, one at the main royal-mast-head, and the other
at the fore, and began tarring down. This is an important
operation, and is usually done about once in six months in vessels
upon a long voyage. It was done in our vessel several times
afterwards, but by the whole crew at once, and finished off in a
day; but at this time, as most of it, as I have said, came upon
two of us, and we were new at the business, it took several days.
In this operation they always begin at the mast-head, and work
down, tarring the shrouds, backstays, standing parts of the lifts,
the ties, runners, &c., and go out to the yard-arms, and come in,
tarring, as they come, the lifts and foot-ropes. Tarring the stays
is more difficult, and is done by an operation which the sailors
call ``riding down.'' A long piece of rope-- top-gallant-studding-sail
halyards, or something of the kind-- is taken up to the mast-head
from which the stay leads, and rove through a block for a girt-line,
or, as the sailors usually call it, a gant-line; with the end of
this, a bowline is taken round the stay, into which the man gets
with his bucket of tar and bunch of oakum; and the other end being
fast on deck, with some one to tend it, he is lowered down gradually,
and tars the stay carefully as he goes. There he ``swings aloft 'twixt
heaven and earth,'' and if the rope slips, breaks, or is let go, or
if the bowline slips, he falls overboard or breaks his neck. This,
however, is a thing which never enters into a sailor's calculation.
He only thinks of leaving no holidays (places not tarred),-- for,
in case he should, he would have to go over the whole again,-- or
of dropping no tar upon deck, for then there would be a soft word
in his ear from the mate. In this manner I tarred down all the
head-stays, but found the rigging about the jib-booms, martingale,
and spritsail yard, upon which I was afterwards put, the hardest.
Here you have to ``hang on with your eyelids'' and tar with your

This dirty work could not last forever; and on Saturday night we
finished it, scraped all the spots from the deck and rails, and,
what was of more importance to us, cleaned ourselves thoroughly,
rolled up our tarry frocks and trousers and laid them away for the
next occasion, and put on our clean duck clothes, and had a good
comfortable sailor's Saturday night. The next day was pleasant,
and indeed we had but one unpleasant Sunday during the whole
voyage, and that was off Cape Horn, where we could expect nothing
better. On Monday we began painting, and getting the vessel ready
for port. This work, too, is done by the crew, and every sailor
who has been long voyages is a little of a painter, in addition to
his other accomplishments. We painted her, both inside and out,
from the truck to the water's edge. The outside is painted by
lowering stages over the side by ropes, and on those we sat, with
our brushes and paint-pots by us, and our feet half the time in
the water. This must be done, of course, on a smooth day, when the
vessel does not roll- much. I remember very well being over the
side painting in this way, one fine afternoon, our vessel going
quietly along at the rate of four or five knots, and a pilot-fish,
the sure precursor of a shark, swimming alongside of us. The
captain was leaning over the rail watching him, and we went
quietly on with our work. In the midst of our painting, on--

Friday, December 19th, we crossed the equator for the second time.
I had the sense of incongruity which all have when, for the first
time, they find themselves living under an entire change of
seasons; as, crossing the line under a burning sun in the midst of

Thursday, December 25th. This day was Christmas, but it brought us
no holiday. The only change was that we had a ``plum duff'' for
dinner, and the crew quarrelled with the steward because he did
not give us our usual allowance of molasses to eat with it. He
thought the plums would be a substitute for the molasses, but we
were not to be cheated out of our rights in that way.

Such are the trifles which produce quarrels on shipboard. In fact,
we had been too long from port. We were getting tired of one
another, and were in an irritable state, both forward and aft. Our
fresh provisions were, of course, gone, and the captain had
stopped our rice, so that we had nothing but salt beef and salt
pork throughout the week, with the exception of a very small duff
on Sunday. This added to the discontent; and many little things,
daily and almost hourly occurring, which no one who has not
himself been on a long and tedious voyage can conceive of or
properly appreciate,-- little wars and rumors of wars, reports of
things said in the cabin, misunderstanding of words and looks,
apparent abuses,-- brought us into a condition in which everything
seemed to go wrong. Every encroachment upon the time allowed for
rest appeared unnecessary. Every shifting of the studding-sails
was only to ``haze''[1] the crew.

In the midst of this state of things, my messmate Stimson and I
petitioned the captain for leave to shift our berths from the
steerage, where we had previously lived, into the forecastle.
This, to our delight, was granted, and we turned in to bunk and
mess with the crew forward. We now began to feel like sailors,
which we never fully did when we were in the steerage. While
there, however useful and active you may be, you are but a
mongrel,-- a sort of afterguard and ``ship's cousin.'' You are
immediately under the eye of the officers, cannot dance, sing,
play, smoke, make a noise, or growl, or take any other sailor's
pleasure; and you live with the steward, who is usually a
go-between; and the crew never feel as though you were one of
them. But if you live in the forecastle, you are ``as independent
as a wood-sawyer's clerk'' (nauticÚ), and are a sailor. You hear
sailors' talk, learn their ways, their peculiarities of feeling as
well as speaking and acting; and, moreover, pick up a great deal
of curious and useful information in seamanship, ship's customs,
foreign countries, &c., from their long yarns and equally long
disputes. No man can be a sailor, or know what sailors are, unless
he has lived in the forecastle with them,-- turned in and out with
them, and eaten from the common kid. After I had been a week
there, nothing would have tempted me to go back to my old berth,
and never afterwards, even in the worst of weather, when in a
close and leaking forecastle off Cape Horn, did I for a moment
wish myself in the steerage. Another thing which you learn better
in the forecastle than you can anywhere else is, to make and mend
clothes, and this is indispensable to sailors. A large part of
their watches below they spend at this work, and here I learned
the art myself, which stood me in so good stead afterwards.

But to return to the state of the crew. Upon our coming into the
forecastle, there was some difficulty about the uniting of the
allowances of bread, by which we thought we were to lose a few
pounds. This set us into a ferment. The captain would not
condescend to explain, and we went aft in a body, with John, the
Swede, the oldest and best sailor of the crew, for spokesman. The
recollection of the scene that followed always brings up a smile,
especially the quarter-deck dignity and elocution of the captain.
He was walking the weather side of the quarter-deck, and, seeing
us coming aft, stopped short in his walk, and with a voice and
look intended to annihilate us called out, ``Well, what the d---l
do you want now?'' Whereupon we stated our grievances as
respectfully as we could, but he broke in upon us, saying that we
were getting fat and lazy, didn't have enough to do, and it was
that which made us find fault. This provoked us, and we began to
give word for word. This would never answer. He clinched his fist,
stamped and swore, and ordered us all forward, saying, with oaths
enough interspersed to send the words home, ``Away with you! go
forward every one of you! I'll haze you! I'll work you up! You
don't have enough to do! If you a' n't careful I'll make a hell of
heaven! . . . . You've mistaken your man! I'm Frank Thompson, all
the way from `down east.' I've been through the mill, ground and
bolted, and come out a regular-built down-east johnny-cake, when
it's hot, d---d good, but when it's cold, d---d sour and
indigestible;-- and you'll find me so!'' The latter part of this
harangue made a strong impression, and the ``down-east
johnny-cake'' became a byword for the rest of the voyage, and on
the coast of California, after our arrival. One of his nicknames
in all the ports was ``The Down-east Johnny-cake.'' So much for
our petition for the redress of grievances. The matter was,
however, set right, for the mate, after allowing the captain due
time to cool off, explained it to him, and at night we were all
called aft to hear another harangue, in which, of course, the
whole blame of the misunderstanding was thrown upon us. We
ventured to hint that he would not give us time to explain; but it
wouldn't do. We were driven back discomfited. Thus the affair blew
over, but the irritation caused by it remained; and we never had
peace or a good understanding again so long as the captain and
crew remained together.

We continued sailing along in the beautiful temperate climate of
the Pacific. The Pacific well deserves its name, for except in
the southern part, at Cape Horn, and in the western parts, near
the China and Indian oceans, it has few storms, and is never either
extremely hot or cold. Between the tropics there is a slight haziness,
like a thin gauze, drawn over the sun, which, without obstructing or
obscuring the light, tempers the heat which comes down with
perpendicular fierceness in the Atlantic and Indian tropics. We
sailed well to the westward to have the full advantage of the
northeast trades, and when we had reached the latitude of Point
Conception, where it is usual to make the land, we were several
hundred miles to the westward of it. We immediately changed our
course due east, and sailed in that direction for a number of
days. At length we began to heave-to after dark, for fear of
making the land at night, on a coast where there are no lighthouses
and but indifferent charts, and at daybreak on the morning of--

Tuesday, January 13th, 1835, we made the land at Point Conception,
lat. 34░ 32' N., lon. 120░ 06' W. The port of Santa Barbara, to
which we were bound, lying about fifty miles to the southward of
this point, we continued sailing down the coast during the day and
following night, and on the next morning,

January 14th, we came to anchor in the spacious bay of Santa Barbara,


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