Front Page Titles (by Subject) APPENDIX C.: A MONTH AT SEA. - Harriet Martineau's Autobiography, vol. 1
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APPENDIX C.: A MONTH AT SEA. - Harriet Martineau, Harriet Martineau’s Autobiography, vol. 1 
Harriet Martineau’s Autobiography, ed. Maria Weston Chapman (Boston: James R. Osgood & Co., 1877). 2 vols. Vol. 1.
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A MONTH AT SEA.
The following is an account of a real voyage, perfectly true, except in one respect. For obvious reasons the names are all changed. As to every other particular, the scene is presented exactly as it appeared to the eye and the imagination of a landswoman.
Some weeks before the sailing of the packet, I went on board, as she lay alongside the wharf on the East River, New York, to select my state-room. I engaged one for myself and Miss Saunders, who was one of the party with whom I had arranged to cross the ocean. I bore in mind the exhortation I had received from an experienced sailor, to secure a berth on the starboard side of the ladies’ cabin; for the sake, among other reasons, of being out of the way of the scents and sounds of the steward’s pantry. The state-room I secured was on the starboard side. The captain wrote my name and Miss Saunders’s on slips of paper, which he pinned to the curtains of the berths. He then introduced me to the stewardess, Margaret, a bonny, obliging Scotch girl, whose countenance and manner pleased me exceedingly.
The ship, which I shall call the Eurydice, was not so new, so clean, or so convenient, as most on the line; but there were considerations in favour of our going by her which overbalanced these objections. The high character of the captain, and his being a personal friend of some of our party, were the chief inducements to us to go by the Eurydice. She sailed too on the first of August, which was the season at which we wished to cross.
The day before we were to sail, I was informed that Miss Lamine, a passenger, had been to the ship, and had removed Miss Saunders’s ticket from the curtain of the berth, and substituted her own, on the ground of Miss Saunders’s passage having been only conditionally engaged. This was true; but it was no excuse for the lady’s ill-manners. As anything is better than squabbling anywhere, and particularly on board ship, where people cannot get out of each other’s way, I gave up the point, surrendering my berth to Miss Saunders, who was an invalid, and taking up with a state-room on the larboard side, which I had to share with a young orphan girl, Kate, who, being left destitute by the recent death of both her parents, was allowed by the captain’s kindness to work her way over to her friends in Wales, by assisting the stewardess.
My things were packed so as to occasion the least possible trouble to myself and the people on board. Some passengers are not so considerate as they should be about this. The ladies’ cabin is small enough at best; and it should never be crowded with trunks and bandboxes, for people to tumble over in rough weather. Such encumbrances are unsightly, too; and in a situation like that of being on board ship, every care should be taken to avoid offence to eye or mind. The ladies’ cabin should be as neat as any parlour in a private house. A carpet-bag and bandbox, such as the state-room will easily hold, may be made to contain all that is necessary for a month’s voyage; with the addition of a few good books, in which the owner’s name should be written, and which should not be too fine to be willingly lent.
I carried no stores. Everything requisite for good eating and drinking is so abundantly provided on board these packets, that it is useless to burden oneself with anything more. Some of the ladies found comfort in ginger lozenges, and each should have a vinaigrette. I do not remember that anything else was in request. Warm clothing is essential to comfort. While basking in a July sun on shore, it is difficult to believe how bitter the cold will be a few miles out at sea; but no amount of cloaks, furs, and woollen over-shoes can be too great for comfort during the first and last days of a voyage, usually the coldest of the term. There is much comfort in having two cloaks; one to wear, and another to wrap round the feet on cold days, and in a high wind.
The 1st of August was an intensely hot day: I looked with amazement at my boa, fur tippet, warm cloak and gown, and wondered whether it was possible that I should in a few hours be shivering, in spite of them all. About eleven o’clock, the passengers assembled on board a steam-boat which was to convey them to their ship. Some, of whom I was one, were attended by friends who meant to accompany them as far as Sandy Hook, the southern point of New York bay. It was a dismal morning, sad with the sorrows of parting. We tried to amuse ourselves after we had stepped on board by showing the ship to the children who were to return. I was rather dismayed to see the range of water-casks on deck, looking like a very ugly encumbrance. In the more modern packets they are out of sight.
We were towed out of the harbour by a steamer; and the motion was so smooth, the shores so bright, and the luncheon in the cabin so good, that the children evidently thought a voyage must be an extremely pleasant affair. They little knew how heavy were the hearts of their parents and friends round the table, with the parting glass at their lips, and parting emotions struggling in their hearts.
A certain square box of mine contained some papers of value; and this circumstance was mentioned to the captain by a mutual friend, without my knowledge. The captain said the box should not go down into the hold with the rest, but should stand under the table in the gentlemen’s cabin, where it would be in nobody’s way, and would be kept dry. It will be seen what grew out of this small circumstance.
The characters of the passengers will appear in the course of the narrative. At present they may be thus indicated. My own party consisted of Professor Ely and his lady; Miss Saunders; Mr. Tracy, a youth just from college, and going to travel in Europe with the professor and his lady; and Lieutenant Browning, of the American navy. With Miss Lamine was an old Dutch lady, Mrs. Happen. A very stout widow lady, with her two daughters, Irish, and strangers to us all, and Miss Taylor, the captain’s invalid sister, made up the number of ladies. An elderly Scotch gentleman, Mr. Bruce, appeared after two days, having been laid up in his berth with a bruised leg. Some young men from New Orleans and Mobile; Dr. Sharp, Mr. Simpson, Mr. Larkin, and Mr. Mann, were the only others that I now remember.
By four o’clock we were off Sandy Hook, and it was necessary for our New York friends to return. I promised to send them a minute journal of the events of our voyage. With a few suppressions and amplifications, the following is what I sent them: —
August 3. — Already I feel or believe myself able to write; if you can but manage to read an unsteady scrawl on damp paper. Fortified by chicken broth, red with cayenne pepper, I begin my journal: —
Before we had quite lost sight of your steamer the pilot began to be in a hurry off. “Haul away, boys, and no humbugging!” cried he. Soon after, he told the captain to “sail due east, and keep the white buoy on his weather bow,” and departed — too soon — before we were over the bar; and the captain was too anxious to go down to dinner. Mrs. Ely was too much of something else, and so sat still in the round-house (the sort of summer-house on deck, built round the head of the stairs leading down into the cabin.) Miss Saunders went down with me, still declaring that no Saunders was ever yet sea-sick since the world began. Presently, however, she said at table, “Shall I pass you?” and glad enough she was to get into the air. The motion of the ship now became unpleasant, and I was not sorry when the ladies left their dessert to repair to the deck.
I found that Mrs. Ely did not present a model of colouring for a portrait-painter; her eyes and lips being yellow, and her cheeks ash-colour. I tried to read the Boston newspapers I had received in the morning, but was too heavy at heart, and found them strangely uninteresting. Just before I went down for the night, at seven o’clock, I was cheered by a single charm in Miss Saunders — a precious look and gesture of fun in the midst of distress. O the worth of good-humour at sea! What a contrast was here to Miss Lamine, who made a noise all evening and night, such as was never heard in these upper regions before, I should think. She was evidently anxious that every one on board should know the extent of her sufferings. The captain told me in the morning that he had been explaining to his sister that “noise does no good, and is not fair.”
When in the morning with much toil I got myself on deck (the only lady,) the captain congratulated me on our rough sea and rapid progress: “very good for the sea-sick.” These favourable circumstances, however, sent me down before noon, to re-appear no more till evening. The captain is as kind as a brother, and as handy as a lady’s maid. In the midst of our distresses, Margaret’s innocent face and kind voice are a comfort to see and hear. To set against these solaces, the flies are almost intolerable, notwithstanding my state-room (which it was thought would not be wanted) being luxuriously hung with cobwebs. These flies must be of American extraction, to judge by the pertinacity of their disposition. Only two or three showed the breeding of English flies in keeping away after a certain number of rebuffs. What can be the reason of the difference between your flies and ours in pertinacity? If Margaret was driven at last to throw her apron over her face, what must have been the annoyance to us invalids? I lay on the sofa. I wish you had seen the august captain approach, pepper-box in hand, and followed by a cup of hot chicken-broth. I felt seasoned for half a century, and took to the ‘Life of Mackintosh,’ of which I read half a volume before laying the book down. Then I thought of three particularly pleasant things, which you said to me on Sunday and Monday. Can you remember or imagine what they were? I will only say that they were nothing personal. Then I toiled up on deck to see the sun set; admired him the minute before; and then forgot all about him till he had disappeared. Lieutenant Browning offered me the astronomical comfort of assuring me that I had really seen the last of the sun, and that it was only the refraction that I had missed. This was about as effectual as consolation usually is.
Thinking that the captain looked grave about his poor flock of ladies, and knowing that nothing is more dispiriting to the captain than the absence of passengers from the table, I plunged down into the cabin to tea, and staid an hour, beguiled by some pleasant conversation.
Some remarkable events have happened to-day. Mrs. Happen’s cat has caught a mouse. This opens a prospect of some unlooked-for provisions, in case of our voyage being three months long, and our stock failing. Professor Ely has donned his sea-dress, popping his head up the stairs in a cap, which must have been a grenadier’s. We dubbed him Captain Ely. Dr. Sharp is disconsolate for want of “two small buttons” for the straps of his pantaloons. He implored the steward to furnish him with some, — in vain. The under-steward, — in vain also. The captain. The captain was brought down into the cabin, to hear this petition; and offered that “two small buttons” should be cut off his own pantaloons for Dr. Sharp’s use; — which Dr. Sharp accepted! Miss Saunders saw a Portuguese-man-of-war before I did, which makes me jealous. Do you know why this little fish is thus called? I have endeavoured in vain to learn. Some wag says that it is because, as soon as a gale rises, it fills and goes down; but this must be said out of some special grudge against the Portuguese navy. I have seen these beautiful little mariners of the deep of various hues and sizes, some as large as my fist, some as small as my grandmother’s teacups. I have seen them of a rich violet, of a pale lilac, and of a dingy pink; their hue evidently not depending wholly on the sunshine or shade in which they may be gliding. Before I became acquainted with them, I fancied that they floated only in sunshine, and on a calm sea; but I have seen them in almost all weathers. They are most beautiful when shining on the surface of a deep blue sea; but they allow themselves to be tossed about on the crests of troubled waves, and turned over and over in rough weather, before “they fill and go down.” I never handled one. The sailors are unwilling to catch them; and when they do, are careful to fetch them up in bowls or nets, and to avoid touching the fish; as, on being touched, it discharges a fluid which raises a large blister on the skin, and is very painful. The part of the fish which answers to the shell of the nautilus is soft, — a mere membrane; but its form is that of a nautilus shell, and it floats like a tiny but substantial boat, the fibrous parts of the little fish depending and moving as it changes its direction. Except the dolphin, I think the Portuguese-man-of-war the prettiest of the inhabitants of the deep which come to the surface to delight the eye of the passenger.
I saw to-day two Mother Carey’s chickens. We shall have them now sporting about our ship all the way. I wish we could change our swarms of flies into these pretty creatures.
Mrs. Happen’s quick eye saw my box under the table in the gentlemen’s cabin. She says “If some people’s boxes are taken care of, so shall other people’s be;” and she has actually ordered the steward to bring up her trunks from between decks, and put them in the same place. Her jealousy being once roused, there will be no more peace in her mind all the voyage. She quarrelled with the captain at the dinner-table, for letting the lamp in the ladies’ cabin blow out at two in the morning. He answered by sending us the binnacle lamp, which cannot blow out. He is much too good to her. She is on bad terms with several of the passengers already.
The captain has been making war against the flies, sweeping thousands of them out of the skylight to the birds; so that they will be changed into Mother Carey’s chickens in a different way from what I meant. He brought me down a chick of Mother Carey’s brood. Pretty creature! with its long legs and yellow web-feet, and curious hooked beak! It stumbled and fluttered about the deck, and then we let it get away. I never could conceive before how these birds walked on the water, which I saw they certainly did. They never leave us, flitting about, apparently without rest, from the time we are out of sight of land, till we come near it again. They are in flocks of from two or three to thirty or forty. They feed on the refuse food thrown from the ship.
The captain lashed up a stool on the rail, to serve for the back of a chair. Here I sat in the breeze, enjoying some feelings of health again, and proceeding rapidly with “Mackintosh’s Life,” which is very interesting.
Mrs. Ely is on deck to-day, dizzy but better. The other ladies are still disconsolate, and show no disposition to be sociable.
4th. — A heavenly day: the perfection of sailing. It is unreasonable to expect more than one such a day in a month’s voyage. The wind was fair, mild, and balmy; the sea radiant in all directions. The captain gave orders to “square the yards” (a delightful sound always), and we cut steadily through the waves all day, — perceiving only in the cabin that we were on the sighing bosom of the deep. Our sails being all set, the captain and crew seemed quite at leisure. I saw no less than six Portuguese-men-of-war, wetting their lilac sails in the purple sea. I could not leave such a sight, even for the amusement of hauling over the letter-bags. Mr. Ely put on his spectacles; Mrs. Ely drew a chair; others lay along on deck to examine the superscriptions of the letters from Irish emigrants to their friends. It is wonderful how some of these epistles reach their destination; the following, for instance, begun at the top left-hand corner, and elaborately prolonged to the bottom right one: — “Mrs. A. B. ile of man douglas wits sped England.” The letter-bags are opened for the purpose of sorting out those which are for delivery in port from the rest. A fine day is always chosen, generally towards the end of the voyage, when amusements become scarce, and the passengers are growing weary. It is pleasant to sit on the rail, and see the passengers gathered round the heap of letters, and to hear the shouts of merriment when any exceedingly original superscription comes under notice. Though the ladies seem by this time all well, some of them show no disposition to render themselves agreeable; and the captain was thus tempted to an early development of all his resources of amusement.
Mrs. Happen presently came up, and indulged in a passion of tears. Her cat is missing, and she is sure some cruel person has thrown it overboard, because somebody wrung her Poll-parrot’s neck on her first voyage. We suggested that it was more probable that pussy, feeling frightened, had hidden herself, and would re-appear. But the weeping lady was sure that all was over with pussy. At dinner, her eyes were much swollen, but she was disposed for some turkey, and sent her plate to Mr. Ely for some, begging that it might be without bone. He sent her a plump wing, which she returned with an order to him to take the bones out. In the evening there was a bustle on deck: all the stewards were running with hot water and cold, and the ladies with “eau-de-Cologne.” Mrs. Happen was hysterical, — fainting, from the news having been too suddenly imparted to her that her cat had re-appeared in the cabin. Mrs. Happen’s negromaid, Sally, has orders to keep her mistress’s state-room so shut up (in August) as that pussy may not hide herself again.
The two Miss O’Briens appeared today on deck, speaking to nobody, sitting on the same seats, with their feet on the same letter-bag, reading two volumes of the same book, and dressed alike, even to the yellow spectacles, which are so far unbecoming as that they make good grey eyes look grass-green. Their mother has not yet appeared at table, and keeps her pillows about her; but I twice saw her during dinner steal to the steward’s pantry, and come forth with a replenished plate, in addition to the lobster-salad we sent her. There is fear that she will not shrink materially, though she assures Mrs. Ely that “a spare diet is the only thing at sea.” In this opinion I do not agree with her. I have reason to think a full and generous diet necessary to health at sea, — and particularly during the season of sickness. The reason, I believe, why some do not think so, is that they feel ill and miserable after eating; but they should remember how ill and miserable they felt before eating; and how much more so they might have been without eating. Disagreeable as is the effort to eat during sea-sickness, I am persuaded that, where it can be made, it obviates much suffering.
We began to be uneasy about knowing nothing of the steerage passengers. To be in the same bottom, on the wide ocean, and to be strangers, cannot be right. If some of the ladies prefer alienation, so be it: but we mean to give the rest of the people the means of acquaintanceship with us, if we can do it without intrusion. What can these worthy folks, amidst their real privations, think of the story of Mrs. Happen’s troubles, if the tale should reach their end of the ship?
The stars came out softly in our wide sky; and the sun set amidst indications of continued fair winds. Mr. Browning shows me our place on the chart every noon. We are about 400 miles from New York; — going further from you, the more we exult in our fair breeze. We meant to have had a rubber to-night, but found the cabin too warm. Every body is on deck, except some gentlemen who are at cards. I am going to see how the dim ocean looks under the stars.
I found less dimness than light upon deck. The captain never knew so sultry a night in this latitude. The sea was luminous; the exquisite light spreading in a flood from every breaking wave. There were explosions of lightning from the cloudy west. We dashed through the sea, and made great progress during the night, having accomplished one-fifth of our voyage by morning.
What a loss has there been of this glorious day to such as were stormy within while all was bright around!
August 5th. — A day as disagreeable as yesterday was the contrary. Damp, stifling, with much rain, and rolling, which threw us back upon our patience. Miss Saunders is gentle and merry. Every body begins to praise her. The ship is very inferior to the one I came out in; — in stewards, and in all manner of arrangements; but I can scarcely regret this, as it is the means of displaying the captain’s virtues. We are in constant admiration of his patience, ingenuity, and consideration of everybody. Mrs. Happen’s insults only make him more generous.
Before breakfast, for two dreary hours, Mrs. Ely beguiled us with capital sketches of character; — oddities. She does this very well: a little coarsely, perhaps, and not absolutely simply; but with much power. I read the first half of her book in the proofs.
Mr. Simpson began talking to me to-day about some mutual acquaintance. He can tell me every thing about Mexico, where he has been living. He has a true understanding of the Texan cause. He says the Mexicans hate all foreigners, and call them all English. It is too bad to mix us up with the Texans; though, as I am sorry to say, there have been English in the Texan ranks.
An hour before dinner, the clouds parted, and the wind became fresher and drier. I fell asleep on the rail, while looking for seasights, and woke refreshed.
In the afternoon, Miss Saunders and I had a long talk on the rail on the difference between religion, spontaneous and artificial: natural and arbitrary; professionally and unconsciously administered; with examples: all this arising out of some lines she brought me about gradual and sudden death. I amazed her by telling her of the incessant conflict in —’s mind, between her free and joyous nature, and the separate, arbitrary religion which she has had imposed upon her; but which will not for ever prevent her discovering that religion has a natural affinity with whatever is free, pure, lofty and exhilarating. She is one who would certainly break loose, or grow hypocritical in time, if she could not get liberty for her devotional spirit.
Then followed, our own party having assembled, not a few tales of travel, I furnishing an account of my Michigan trip. In the evening, the Elys, Mr. Tracy and I played a rubber. They are slow and young players, but pleasant partners and adversaries. Tracy will play well. — On deck, to see that there was nothing to be seen this moonless night. So uncomfortable with the damp heat of the day as to be unwilling to go down; but it is against my conscience to keep the girls up; and they will not go to rest till we do. I slept pretty well after all.
6th. — I really cannot write down all Mrs. Happen’s freaks. The captain is now busy with hammer and nails, trying to please her. She is jealous of a bandbox of Kate’s, standing in the entire stateroom, which her negro maid is allowed to have. She cannot possibly spare the curtains from the berth in her state-room, that she does not sleep in; and so forth.
I like Mr. Browning. He has been telling me some anecdotes of greatness, all full of the richest moral beauty. When he was at Marseilles, he went about hunting for the house where Guyon died. Nobody knew anything about Guyon!
At breakfast, five or six of us had a long talk about dressing-boxes, of all things. This led to the display of our respective ones, which was very amusing. Mrs. Ely’s was the most nice and complete; and Lieutenant Browning’s perhaps the most commodious, — being nothing else than a stocking! He thinks us worthy to hear the whole truth about our voyage; and so tells us that to-day we are going slowly, four points out of our course; that we got too far south at the outset; that we shall not cross “the Banks,” and shall therefore see neither icebergs nor cod-boats; that we have got into a region of calms and light winds, and shall probably have a long voyage. My heart sank for a moment, — I had so long counted the days which had home at the end of them; but I esteem it a sin to let one’s countenance fall on board ship; and we all joked upon the matter.
Found on deck Mr. Bruce, who has been in his berth nursing a wounded leg, ever since we came on board. He is Scotch, acquainted with divers literary folk in London; droll, and pretty sensible: — an acquisition, particularly to the captain, as he has promised to turn his novelty to good account with Mrs. Happen, who has quarrelled with every body else. He is going to lay himself out to amuse her. He has written some things for “Hood’s Comic Annual.” He will get some fine new material here.
Dr. Sharp asks the captain to-day if rain is quite fresh at sea.
Mrs. Happen owns she had a prejudice against Mr. Tracy from the moment she saw him. — She supposes Mrs. Ely and I enjoy the voyage from knowing that we shall never be in such society again. — She begs Mr Browning to inform her rightly about our course; for she never saw such mates in her life. Miss Lamine is very nearly as bad. She complains of everything, and has nicknamed every body. The captain told her not to feel uneasy at being of the same party with Mrs. Happen, as no one supposed Miss Lamine to have anything to do with the old lady’s behaviour. Miss Lamine went directly, and told Mrs. Happen every word that the captain had said.
Scene. — Ladies’ Cabin.
“Where’s the cat now?”
“In Missus’s state-room.”
“She’ll get away, as sure as she’s alive.”
(A groan from Sally.)
“Why don’t you tie her up?”
“I vow I will, if I can get a bit o’ cord.”
“Only, perhaps, your mistress will tie you up, if the cat happens not to like it.”
“Perhaps she will: only then she must get a pretty strong cord; that I can tell her.”
Scene. — Deck.
“I’ll tell you what, sir — we ’ve got this head-wind, all because you will keep catching Mother Carey’s chickens. If you go on catching them, we shall have a gale ahead.”
“In that case, I should advise your throwing the cat overboard.”
“Then we shall have a gale within ship that will last us all the way to Liverpool.”
11th. — Found it calm: chickens “tripping a ballet,” as Mrs. Ely says; and Lieutenant Browning predicting a fair wind, — which has this moment arrived. — The weather has been deplorable, and we have been rolled about, in the midst of one of those pelting rains which make every body busy in keeping dry without being stifled. Mr. Ely was wholly and happily absorbed in Southey’s “Cowper.” The rest of us talked and laughed in the round-house till poor Mrs. O’Brien (who begins to show herself a second Mrs. Happen) abruptly left the company, and burst into the cabin, exclaiming that we were all the lowest and most ignorant society she ever was in. For my part, I thought some of the conversation, particularly the captain’s, Mr. Browning’s, and Miss Saunders’s, very clever and entertaining. After a while, the weather conquered most of us. In vain the captain sent round his champagne, and his jokes, and kind sayings. Poor man! when the stars showed themselves, and the long tempest seemed over, and he was going to bed, after two days and a night of toil, the weather changed, and he could not leave the deck for hours. What a life it is!
Mr. Browning put on his sea-coat and went out into the storm, and came back, the rain streaming from his hat and chin, to praise the ship. He knew few that would stand such a wind under so much sail. I was glad to hear this, for certainly her inside is not to be praised. How strange it is to see music and lyres stuck up all over her, old and dirty as she is! and to see black coal buckets, with “Eurydice” painted on them! Miss Lamine lays down the law that “each passenger ought to have a whole state-room, twice the size of ours; but the people try to make money instead of accommodating the passengers.” The question is, whether she would like to pay accordingly. She never uses her berth, after all, but sleeps on the sofa.
Mrs. Happen could not perceive that there was any particular motion to-day. On the instant over went her rocking-chair on one side, throwing her into Miss O’Brien’s lap.
12th. — We do long for a little cheery weather. The captain is somewhat serious about it. He never knew so much damp, changeable weather at this season. We are past the Banks without having seen anything. Only one porpoise has shown himself. Only one ship has been hailed, and she did not answer; all which sounds very dull. I have been reading Southey’s “Cowper,” which has not mended the matter much. It is as interesting as possible, but most dismal.
I feel very small in the presence of the sailors. How they must look down upon us, fleeing in from every drop of rain; getting under the awning as soon as the sun shines, and going to bed comfortably every night, whatever the weather may be! I feel myself truly contemptible.
The captain and I had a full hour’s talk in the evening, when he was tired, after forty-eight hours of toil. He told me a great deal about his wife and children, and all about the loss of his brother last winter. The death of this brother has made a deep impression upon him. He asked me much about the degree of faith which it is possible to have in a future life, and gave me his own conceptions of it. I was heartily sorry when the tea-bell rang. The simplicity of this man, with all his other qualities, is beautiful. So serious, so funny (he has now been peeping down upon us through the skylight, with his round face in a lady’s long deck-bonnet;) so brave and cheerful, so amiable with his cross passengers, and his inefficient crew! Mrs. Ely says he is just as gentle with his crew in the midst of a stormy night, as with Mrs. Happen at table. Her room is where she can hear all that passes on deck. One miserable day, he looked himself to the making of the pea-soup, ordering the ham-bone in; then he mended the lock on Mrs. Ely’s room-door; then he came and talked of this life and other with me.
Mr. Browning is not in very good spirits. He says he has had more experience of bad company than ever before; and he now associates only with us. Poor Mrs. Happen sits all alone on deck. People speak kindly to her, but she makes no sort of answer. I am glad to see she reads a good deal.
The box of books, sent on board for the steerage by a benevolent gentleman, was brought up a few days ago, and immediately emptied. It is a fine resource for the idle men, and I like to see them perched on casks and chests absorbed in their books. We cannot succeed in making acquaintance with these people. Perhaps they have found out that our end of the ship is squally.
Yesterday the captain shouted, for the first time, “Splice the mainbrace” (Give out grog.) Mrs. Ely and I had previously done it in a small private way, without having so earned the comfort. The captain is now heard giving orders to kill the finest pig tonight. I think I shall ask him to shave and soap its tail first, and set the passengers to catch it. It might unite them in a common object, and restore good-humour. The cow was not milked on our two roughest days, at which the complainers profess to be very angry, and threaten to report the captain for it. If I were he, I would set them to try what milking cows in a rolling sea is like. Miss Saunders’s geranium pines, and will be as yellow as the mast before we land.
The captain told me this evening, what he does not wish the other ladies to know till we are within sight of port, lest they should be alarmed, that the mate behaved so ill as to be necessarily sent back with the pilot. The second mate was made first, and the carpenter second mate; and neither of them knows much of his business; so the captain has hard work to do. He says, “There is Lieutenant Browning to command, if anything should happen to me.”
Mr. Bruce gave me a dreadful account today of his sufferings from tic-douloureux, and of his cure, which he ascribes to his having taken nightly a pill consisting of three grains of mercury and one of stramonium. He is well now and very kind and agreeable.
15th. — Better news. For some hours we had a fair wind and delicious weather. We have been becalmed for days, between two winds, catching all the bad consequences of each, and none of the good. But these are the times for feeling that one stands between two worlds; looking forward and back upon the divisions of human society, and able to survey them without prejudice, and to philosophize upon them without interruption. These are the times for feeling as if one could do something for one’s race by toiling for it, and by keeping aloof from the storms of its passions and its selfish interests; humbly, not proudly, aloof. Such thoughts arise in the isolation of a voyage, as if they came up from the caverns of the deep. On the centre of the ocean one is as in another state of existence, with all one’s humanity about one.
Everybody’s ailments are gone, and all but the two unhappy old ladies look cheery this morning. I saw a whale yesterday. Mr. Bruce pronounced it “no orator, because it did not spout well;” but I was quite satisfied with its performances, — heaving its black carcase, and wallowing and plunging in the dirty-looking boiling sea. How different was everything the next morning. The sapphire sea, with its fleet of Portuguese-men-of-war; a single land-bird flitting and fluttering, from Newfoundland no doubt. Pity it had not faith to come on board, for I fear it will never get back.
I saw three flying fish — very pretty — leaping from the crest of one wave into another: but nothing was to me so beautiful as the transparent ripple, seen above the surface when the sun got low. After reading —’s capital sermon, I read no more, but sat with Miss Saunders on the rail all day, having much talk, with long intervals of silence. Mrs. Ely wrote all the morning; but I could not bear to lose a breath of balmy air, or a hue of the sweet sea. In the afternoon, we repeated poetry and sang, and promised each other scientific lectures on deck daily this next week. Do not laugh at us. You would have promised anything whatever on such an afternoon.
In the evening, five of us had a long conversation on European politics and American democracy, till the captain came to take me, first to the bows, to see the full sails swelling against the star-lit sky, and then to the stern, to see how bright a train of light we left behind us, as we dashed through at the rate of ten knots an hour. Professor Ely gave us a little history of the improvements in astronomy and navigation, the elements of these sciences being furnished by observation in the bright regions of the East to the foggy and scientific West. When these improvements are carried back to the starlit East, what may not the science become?
The captain brought me today a book, about the size of the palm of my hand, that I might look at a short poem, — rather pretty. He was very mysterious: the book was not published; was written by some one on board. We all guessed Mr. Bruce. But no; everybody had been told in a whisper, before two hours were over, that it was by Mr. Kitton, the artist and poet. Mr. Kitton was a poor sick gentleman, who had been in his berth ever since we sailed, and who now began to creep out into the sunshine. Dr. Sharp attended him professionally, and he had a friend to nurse him. We saw nothing of him except when he sat on deck in the middle of the day. He looked wretchedly, but I believe his complaints were not alarming.
Mrs. Happen treated the captain cruelly to-day. He looks grave, though he owns he ought not to mind her. The ship we saw on Thursday kept dallying about us for three days, and would not speak when hailed. I wish Mrs. Happen could have been put on board of her; they would suit exactly.
There is one thing interesting about the Miss O’Briens. They are very attentive and affectionate to their mother; which, considering how she sometimes treats them, speaks well for their tempers. She may well pronounce them “very steady girls.” But their conversation is of that kind which, however often one may hear it, one can scarcely credit on recollection. I set down one specimen, as a fair example. Dr. Sharp was called yesterday to one of the crew who was ill. As he returned, looking rather thoughtful, Mr. Mann observed to the O’Brien family that the doctor was quite a man of consequence to-day. Thereupon ensued, —
First Miss O.
“La! Doctor, how consequential you look!”
Second Miss O.
“Well! Doctor, how consequential you look!”
“Why, the Doctor does look consequential indeed!”
First Miss O.
(to Mr. Mann.) “La! Sir, how consequential the Doctor does look!”
Second Miss O.
“Now does n’t the Doctor look quite consequential?” — And so on, for above ten minutes.
The captain has just been unpacking a hundred towels; a goodly sight for those who rehearse drowning every morning (in salt water,) as I do. I am certain that no practice is so beneficial to health at sea as plenty of bathing, with friction afterwards. A large foot-bath, or small tub, may easily be procured; and the steward will draw up a bucket or two of sea-water every morning. A sea-faring friend told me this before I sailed; and I have often been thankful for the advice.
Our cargo is partly turpentine. The vessel leaks and so do the turpentine casks; and what comes up by the pumps is so nauseous as to cause much complaint among the passengers. There was no time at New York to get the copper bottom mended; and the crew are hard worked with the pumping. The captain says if the leak increases, he shall employ the steerage passengers at the pumps. Mr. Browning shows me the chart. We are rather more than half way. He considers it two-thirds, as the best is all to come. “All down hill now,” he says.
August 17th. — Going on most prosperously. We have never slackened on our course since I made my last entry. Kind-hearted Margaret came to my bed-side early this morning, to tell me that at four o’clock we were going twelve knots, right on our course. If we hold on till noon, we are pretty sure of being carried straight in by this blessed wind. All are well, and in better temper, unless it be Mrs. Happen. Yesterday, while all was bright and gleesome, she was “low.” She did not know that we should ever arrive! Betting is the order of the day with the idle young men. As the weather is not wet, and they cannot therefore bet upon the raindrops running down the cabin windows, they are obliged to find or make other subjects for bets. Yesterday at dinner they betted about whether they could roll up bits of bread so tight as not to break when thrown down on deck! Also whether they could swallow a pill of bread so rolled up, the size of the end of the thumb. They were so impatient they could not wait till the cloth was removed, but missed their dessert for the sake of this thumbed bread. They bet at cards, and one of them declared he had lost sixteen dollars, — £4. After having talked very loud over their cards, till just midnight, last night Dr. Sharp got his flute, and played execrably, till requested to be quiet till morning. It did not occur to him that he was disturbing anybody.
The captain is very grave, while all looks so prosperous. His sister says, with tears, that “it is a hard voyage to him;” but we tell her it will not matter a month hence, when his unamiable passengers will have dispersed to the four winds. He discovered yesterday that the stewards have been leaving the ice-house door open, so that the ice is nearly all gone; and he fears he shall lose some of his best joints of beef. Upon this he good-humouredly said, “Sea-captains are not intended to be good-tempered. It should not be looked for. At the top of a heap of little vexations, comes a gale; and then they should not be expected not to shout pretty sharply to their crews.” We do not believe he ever does. He showed good manners yesterday to a ship that we hailed. In the early morning, when the fog drew up, there was an ethereal vision of a ship on our horizon. We overtook her just at noon. (We overtake every thing.) She looked so beautiful all the morning, that we did nothing but watch her. As we approached we went to leeward, the captain explaining, in answer to our questions, that it is worth losing a little time to be civil. She was the St. Vincent of Bristol, thirty-three days from Jamaica. I pitied the poor ladies on board, of whom we saw many on deck. The captains each asked the other to report him, in case of arriving first Our young men laughed at the idea of our being reported by a ship thirty-three days from Jamaica; but our captain looked grave, and said it looked presumptuous to make sure of our having no accident; and uncivil to assure the St. Vincent that she could not, by possibility, be of any service to us. She could have spared us some limes; but it would have used up too much time to send a boat for them; so we dashed on, and she was out of sight westward before the afternoon. I never saw a greater press of sail than she carried; but her bows were like a breakwater, so square and clumsy.
In the afternoon I read “Much Ado about Nothing,” and watched a shoal of porpoises. They are welcome visitors in any weather; but they seem extremely lively in a rough sea, chasing one another, and shooting through the midst of a rising billow. They are sometimes caught and killed, to be eaten more as a curiosity than a delicacy. I am told that the meat resembles coarse and tough beef. The mate wounded one to-day; and its companions crowded on it to eat it up. Some Jaques on board asked me if this was not the way of the world; to which I indignantly answered, No!
18th. — Still dashing on. Mr. Browning expects that we shall get in on Tuesday of next week: the captain says Thursday or Friday. I listen to neither, knowing how little such calculations are to be depended upon.
21st, Sunday. — We have been rolling about so that it has been impossible to write. We have had a fine run for eight days now. Yesterday’s observation gave 220 miles for the twenty-four hours. The captain says we are pretty sure of running straight up to Liverpool. By to-morrow morning, we may see land. I dreamed last night that I saw it first; — a lovely Irish hill. It is almost too cold now to be on deck, with any amount of cloakage: a sign of being near land. The joke since we passed half-way, has been to annoy me by ascribing all evils whatever to the foggy English climate. Mr. Browning began; the captain carries it on; and the ingenuity with which they keep it up is surprising. Something of the sort drops from the captain’s lips, like a grave passing observation, many times a day. I shall have no respite now; for every one will be too cold till we land.
We had a prodigious run last night. While we were at our rubber, the news spread (as news does on board ship) that the captain was on deck, taking in sail, ordering in the dead-lights (the shutters which block up the cabin-windows in the stern,) and “expecting a blow.” Under the idea that it was raining, I was, for once, about to retire to my room without running up on deck; but the captain came for me, thinking I should like to see what was doing: and indeed he was right. Though he had taken in the studding-sails, mainsail, and royals, we were flying through at the rate of twelve knots. The clouds were blown down the eastern sky, — and the stars so bright, they looked as if they were coming down. But below us, what a sight! The dazzling spray was dashed half a mile off, in a level surface which looked like a white marble floor, gemmed with stars. The captain says, people talk of the monotony of the sea; but the land is to him monotonous in comparison with the variety in which he revels in his night-watches. It is evidently a perpetual excitement and delight to him. But, truly, the contrast between the deck and the cabin is wonderful. When I came down at midnight, I thought it possible that some of the ladies might be alarmed; and I therefore told Margaret, in a voice loud enough to be heard by any who might be trembling in their berths, that the captain said it would be a fine night, and that the stars were already bright. Half an hour after, when I was asleep, Miss Saunders came down, and the following took place: —
A trembling voice from somewhere cried, “Miss Saunders! Miss Saunders!”
Miss Saunders peers into all the ladies’ rooms, and finds it is Miss O’Brien who calls.
“Miss Saunders, is the storm very bad? — is there much danger?”
“There is no storm, ma’am: only a brisk, fair wind. I heard nothing of any danger.”
When Miss Saunders is falling asleep, she is roused by another call. She puts on a cloak, and goes to Miss O’Brien’s room.
“O, Miss Saunders! have n’t we shipped a sea?”
looks round the cabin. “No, ma’am: I do not see any sea.”
Before she is quite asleep, she hears Miss Lamine’s voice from the sofa, to which the captain has kindly lashed chairs, to prevent her falling off; as she persists in sleeping there, though retaining her berth.
“O, Mrs. Happen! Mrs. Happen!”
“Well! what do you want?”
“We are sinking, ma’am. I feel the ship sinking!”
Miss Saunders wakes up to assure the ladies that the ship is on the surface. Mrs. Happen grumbles at her first sleep being broken. She slept no more; and of course is out of humour with the whole universe to-day. Nothing is on her lips but that Miss Lamine broke her first and only sleep.
I have had a talk, prodigious for its breadth, length, depth, and earnestness, with Mr. Browning, about the duty of republicans exercising the suffrage; brought on by his saying that he had never voted but once in his life. I believe we said an octavo volume between us, — I hope to some purpose. He is a good man, with a warm simple heart, a full sense of what he owes to his excellent wife, and a head which only wants to be put a little in order. He is full of knowledge, and fond of thinking.
Mrs. O’Brien has, we suppose, kept her temper in check as long as she can; for now it is coming out worse than Mrs. Happen’s, if that be possible. At dinner, the other day, she began to scold her daughters, in the presence of passengers and servants: but the captain warded it off by saying that he would not have the young ladies found fault with, for that I had been telling him that I thought them very attentive and affectionate daughters. She looked gratified and complacent; but not for long. In the evening, she complained to Mrs. Ely, who was on the sofa, very unwell, of her own sensibilities; and confessed she felt very hysterical. The confession from her lips is always a signal for the cabin being cleared; every one dreading a scene. It was so now; and there were no hysterics. This morning, however, the sensibilities thus repressed have broken out; and a most unsanctified scene has disgraced our Sunday. The lady was cold in the night. Margaret was sorry: would have been happy to supply her with as many blankets as she pleased, if she had but asked for them. The lady would perish rather than ask Margaret for anything. She would have no breakfast. Margaret entreated: the daughters implored, with many tears. The lady compelled them to go to the breakfast-table with their swollen eyes; but no breakfast would she have. Margaret, in the kindness of her heart, prepared a delicate breakfast, — strong tea, hot buttered roll and sliced tongue. The woman actually threw the breakfast at the girl’s head! Margaret was fluttered, and said she did not know whether to laugh or cry. I advised her to do neither, if she could help it. At breakfast, the captain, knowing nothing of this scene, called — “Margaret, why don’t you carry Mrs. O’Brien some breakfast?” “I did, sir,” replied the girl in a whisper; “and she hove the bread at me.” “O ho!” said the captain. Presently, he strode down the room, and into the ladies’ cabin, both doors of which he shut. He soon came forth, looking his gravest. The lady was very “hysterical” all day. Every heart ached for her weeping daughters.
We have been asking Mr. Browning to propose the captain’s health, with an expression of thanks and friendship on the part of the passengers, the day before we land. This is the usual practice, we believe, when the captain has done his duty. Mr. Browning heartily consents, saying that it is only the captain’s temper which has kept any order at all. We hope that Mrs. Happen may be so overawed as not to dare to move an amendment.
Afternoon. — Mr. Browning says he fears we must give the matter up. The young men have been abusing the captain so grossly over their wine, — particularly for not having the cow milked these two days, and for letting Mr. Tracy have a room to himself, that something disagreeable would certainly arise out of any attempt to gratify our good friend. Our acknowledgments must be made individually. Mr. Bruce drew up a very good letter of thanks; but any formal proceeding from which one-third of the passengers would probably choose to exclude themselves, would give the captain as much pain in one way as pleasure in another.
We took our seats at the bottom of the table at the outset, to avoid any contention about precedence. It is well we did; for the captain’s immediate presence is required to keep the conversation from being really offensive: it ’s being very silly, even the captain cannot prevent. Here is a specimen or two.
“Mr. A. has so many bales of cotton for sale this year.”
“I am sure I have not got that number of bales of cotton.”
“No; because you are a bale of cotton yourself.” (Roars of laughter.)
“Somebody always says to me at tea-time, ‘Sir, will you have black tea or green tea?’ I expect somebody will say to me some day, ‘Sir, will you have red tea or yellow tea?’ ” (Roars of laughter.)
Since I came on board, I seem to have gained a new sense of the value of knowledge, of an active, reasonable mind, as well as of a disciplined and benevolent temper. Notwithstanding the occasional mirth of these people, and their ostentatious party merriment, I think I never saw persons so unhappy. No suffering from poverty or sickness ever struck me so mournfully as the misery of these ship-mates, from vacuity of mind; from selfishness, with all its little affectations; from jealousy, with its intolerable torments. How they get on in their homes I have no means of knowing; but the contrast at sea between them and such of their fellow-passengers as are peaceable, active, employed, and mutually accommodating is one of the most striking and instructive spectacles I ever witnessed. The mischief has not stopped with their immediate suffering from ennui and ill-humour: some have been led to plot crime, which it is no merit of their own that they do not execute. I cannot enter here upon this part of their disgusting history: suffice it that the captain’s vigilance and authority are too strong for them.
The wind blew us on gloriously all day; and there was every expectation at bed-time that we might see land at daybreak. In the evening, we sketched out European tours, by the map, for such of our party as were going to travel; and we were all in fine spirits. The young men at the upper end of the table had an argument as to whether Sunday was over, so that they might go to cards. They appealed to Miss Lamine whether Sunday was not over when the sun set. She decided in the negative; so Dr. Sharp began doling forth a Report of a Charity, in the most melancholy voice imaginable; and the whole coterie moved off very early to bed.
22nd. — The young men are making up for last evening’s abstinence. They are busy at cards, almost before breakfast is cleared away. What can they suppose religion is?
I have seen some Irish earth. On sounding, we find sixty fathoms; and some sand came up on the lead. Mr. Browning thinks it not so clean and neat as American sand. A calm fell at five o’clock; and we are moving very slowly. There is fog at a distance; but we have seen a faint, brief line of coast. I do hope the sun will come out, and the wind freshen at noon. Meantime, the sea has lost its deep blue beauty, and we have not arrived at the beauty of the land; so I think it an excellent time for writing.
You should see how faded and even rotten our dresses look, from head to foot. To-morrow or Wednesday we hope to have the pleasure of dressing so as not to be ashamed of ourselves and one another. But it is a piece of extravagance, which none but silly people are guilty of, to dress well at sea, where the incessant damp and salt ruin all fabrics and all colors. Silks fade; and cottons cannot be washed; stuffs shrink and curl. Dark prints perhaps look neat the longest. Mrs. Ely’s drawn bonnet, of gingham, looks the handsomest article of dress now on board; unless it be Miss Taylor’s neat black-print gown.
23rd. — The rest of yesterday was very interesting. On going up, before noon, I found Ringan Head visible at forty-five miles off; and three other points of high land. At one, a favourable breeze sprang up, and lasted till evening, when it died away. We drew nearer and nearer to land, till we were within twelve miles. This was off the Point of Kinsale, where we were when the calm fell. The captain called me up after dinner, to show me where the Albion was lost; the packet commanded by Captain Williams, which was lost, with all the crew and passengers but two or three, I think, some ten or twelve years ago. I could see the spot distinctly; a bay between two high points of land. The captain ran into this bay in thick weather, and was unable to get out again. If the Albion had struck a few rods further on, she would have gone on a sloping sand-beach, and the passengers might have got out, almost without wetting their feet. As it was, she struck against a perpendicular wall of rock.
The captain stayed talking with me all the afternoon, and we watched for the kindling of the light on the high Point of Kinsale, 400 feet above the sea. It looked so beautiful and so friendly that we could attend to nothing else. The last light I saw was the Fort Gratiot light, on the wild evening when I left lake Huron in a thunder-storm. How familiar did the Kinsale light look in comparison! The captain’s heart was quite opened by it. “I shall stand here,” he had declared, “till I see that light. It is of no consequence to me; I know where I am, and how to steer, but it is pleasant to me to see those lights. They ought to have kindled it by this time. I wonder we don’t see it. There! there it is! You can’t see it well yet. It will be deep red presently. So many pleasant thoughts belong to such a light — so many lives saved — so many feelings made comfortable!” I felt it like the first welcome home. The dim outline of land in the morning was pleasant but mute: here were human hands at work for us. It was, to all intents and purposes, a signal; and I could not turn my eyes from it.
We saw, this afternoon, a fishing-boat with its dark brown sails. Through the glass, I discerned two men in her, and cried out that I had seen two Irishmen. Everybody laughed at me. To be sure, we have more than that on board; and you may meet 100 per hour in New York; but that is not like seeing them in their own boat, fishing in their own sea. Sail hovered about us all day. Mrs. O’Brien is busy in the cabin among her bandboxes, quilling and trimming. I shall not take out any of my land-clothes yet, to get mildewed, when we may still be some time in reaching port. I am afraid of growing restless if I prepare for shore too soon. One would shun the heart-sickness of hope deferred when one can. Pouring rain to-night; so we sit down to our rubber as if we had not seen the land. This is chiefly (as it has been throughout) for Mr. Ely’s sake. He is very poorly, and reads quite enough by daylight. He seems to enjoy his rubber in the evening.
This morning the weather is not favourable. The wind has been round to every point of the compass during the night, and is now blowing from the north-east, “right a-head.” I do not feel very impatient at present. Miss Saunders is rather glad of the delay. She dreads landing among strangers, though she knows they are already friends.
Mrs. Ely has been very bold this morning with Mrs. O’Brien (as the lady had no buttered roll by her) about the fees to the stewardess. The stewardess depends solely upon the fees paid by the lady passengers; and the service is so important, and so extremely fatiguing, that it ought to be well paid. The stewardess has to attend upon the ladies, night and day, in their sea-sickness; to keep their state-rooms; to wait at meals in the large cabin; to be up before all the ladies, and go to rest after them. Among such a company of ladies, there are usually some who rise early, and always some who go to rest very late; and commonly a few who cannot be easily pleased, and who keep their attendant on the foot at all hours, without any consideration. When all this is considered, and it is remembered how helpless and uncomfortable the ladies would be without such a servant, it is clear that the stewardess should be handsomely paid. The captain interested us particularly for Margaret, by telling us that she was extremely poor, as she sent every shilling she could spare from her absolute wants to her old father and mother in Scotland. Judging by what we knew to have been done in similar cases, we agreed that Margaret should have a sovereign from each of us. Miss Lamine, and Miss Taylor, and the ladies of our party paid this; but Mrs. O’Brien declared she would pay nothing, as Margaret had shown her no attention at all! It will be too bad if, in addition to the many crying fits this woman has occasioned to the poor girl, and all the toil she and her daughters have imposed upon her, night and day, she defrauds her of the money she has fairly earned. Mrs. O’Brien became so “hysterical” that Mrs. Ely had to desist for this time; but she does not mean to let the matter stop here. As for Mrs. Happen, she not only refused to give anything, but, in her passion at being asked, sent the plate down the whole length of the table. There is something really terrifying in such tempers. Mrs. Ely changed colour as if she had been in the wrong, instead of the right. Mr. Browning says there are occasions on which people show their real selves, — in the treatment of their servants. I own that I was as much surprised as I was indignant, to find that people of good property, as these ladies both are, could stoop to accept the hard service of a very poor girl, with the knowledge all the time that they meant to defraud her of her wages. They might at least have given her warning, that she might know that she was conferring charity upon them in serving them. I trust they will think better of the matter, and repair their injustice to her at last.
We are now between Cork and Milford Haven, out of sight of land.
25th. — Now, did you not expect that the next entry would be of our arrival? Far from it. There is much to be said first. I was obliged to quit my writing, last time, by the rolling of the ship; and for the rest of the day, we were treated with a gale, far more stormy than any we had during the voyage. It blew tremendously from the north-east. With the tide in our favour, and every sail snug, we were driven in the direction of the Devonshire coast; and thankful we were that we had plenty of sea-room. Mrs. Ely and others were as sick as ever; and at dinner there was the well-remembered scene of every thing solid slipping about the dishes, and every thing liquid being spilled: though the frames were on, — the wooden frames, made to fit the tables, with holes for the bottles and glasses. It was a truly uncomfortable day, though there was nothing to occasion fear in any but the most timid persons.
Yesterday morning we had the alternative of being sick below, or half-sick and half-frozen on deck. We preferred the latter, and were ere long repaid. We were going over the ground lost the day before, standing in for the Irish coast. There were large flocks of Neptune’s sheep (waves breaking into foam;) and the sky was so clear, that Mr. Browning, with his malicious eye-glass, could not discern a streak of English fog all day.
About noon, the outline of the Dungarvon Mountains appeared, and the bay of Tramore, with three white towers at one extremity, and one at the other, and the town of Tramore, at the bottom of the bay. We saw, too, the high lighthouse at the extremity of Waterford Bay, and a steam-boat in the entrance. Seven other sail were about us, and we felt in the midst of society once more. Before we tacked we came near enough to see the recesses in the sharp-cut rocks or cliffs on the shore, and the green downs sloping up from their summits. With the glass I could distinguish the windows of three large houses in Tramore. The outline of the mountains behind was very fine, and the lights and shadows on them delicious to behold. We tacked all day, and amused ourselves with watching the points of the shore, advancing and receding; with speaking the ship “Georgia of Boston,” bound to New York, which we hope will report us to you; and with admiring the clear setting sun, and the rising moon, almost at the full. She never looked finer since she was first set spinning.
There was some sad nonsense among us, even on this important and pleasurable day. Mrs. O’Brien looked cold, as she sat on the rail, in the breeze, and Mr. Simpson caused his warm broad-cloth cloak to be brought for her. Mrs. Happen, who was sitting on deck, sheltered and in the sun, growled out, “You never offered me your cloak.” Immediately after dinner, when the gentlemen were at their wine, she sent Sally down for Mr. Simpson’s cloak, and wore it all the afternoon.
The captain promised us the quietest night we had had since we left New York; and I accordingly went to sleep, nothing doubting, though the last thing I was aware of was that there was a prodigious tramping upon deck, which I concluded was from the crew shifting the sails. I slept till daylight, and thus missed a scene, partly dreadful, partly ridiculous. This tramping excited the attention of the ladies; and Mrs. Ely next heard a cry of distress from the deck, and then another, a sort of scream. The gentlemen rushed from their rooms, and up on deck; the ladies screamed, and said it was fire, the ship sinking, running foul of another ship, and much besides. Miss Taylor (still very delicate) heard every voice calling “Captain! Captain!” and naturally supposing that something had happened to her brother, fainted away in her berth, where she was found some time after still insensible. One gentleman brought out his pistol, and Mrs. Happen entreated that she might not be shot. Mrs. Ely and Miss Saunders remained in their rooms, and were presently told that there was no danger, that it was all over. The captain put forth his authority, and ordered every body to bed. How much the passengers really knew of the cause of this bustle I cannot say; but the affair was this. The captain had a bad crew. Yesterday, at the instigation of a mischievous fellow among them, there was a sort of mutiny about their beef; a silly complaint, particularly foolish when preferred almost within sight of port. Mr. Browning knew that the captain meant to shut up the ringleader in the ice-house (now as warm as any part of the ship) at midnight, when the passengers should be asleep. The man resisted, making so much noise over the passengers’ heads, that the captain sent him into confinement in the forepart of the ship: but it was too late for secrecy. The captain is much annoyed at the confusion created; and I do not think he is aware that any of us know the cause.
All is quiet enough this morning. It is bright and cold. We are off Tusca lighthouse, the extreme south-east point of Ireland; and the little wind there is is fair. This mutiny is a good hint. If we grow dull, I shall propose a mutiny about the handles of the milk pitchers, which were broken off in the gale; the pitchers being thus rendered inconvenient to hold.
At this moment, Mr. Tracy brings news that the captain expects to be off Holyhead this evening; so I jump up, and run to unpack and arrange for landing, that I may have the last few hours free. O, with what pleasure I took out gown, shawl, bonnet and gloves for to-morrow! packing up books; putting away everything sea-spoiled, and being completely at liberty by dinner-time!
In the afternoon, the captain found a dry seat on the binnacle for Miss Saunders and me; and then went and stood by himself, too much excited for conversation. Mr. Browning told us we could not understand the emotions of the captain of a ship on concluding his voyage. We talked of our homes on either side of the water; and looked out through the fog and rain, dimly discerning a ship which we supposed to be the packet of the 24th. — After tea we played, for Mr. Ely’s sake, our final rubber: but we could not attend to our cards, and were glad to throw them away. At half-past ten o’clock, we ran up to see the Holyhead light. As we passed in the dark, there could be no telegraphic communication to Liverpool of our approach, and we must give up the hope of seeing our friends on the pier.
26th. — At six, Miss Saunders came to my room, dressed, and talked for an hour, the cabin being in great confusion with the preparations of the ladies. We sent Margaret to learn where we were. About thirty miles from Liverpool; but the tide would not allow us to get to port before eleven. Every body was assembled early on deck, dressed for landing; and each, as he appeared, more spruce than the last. The cook could not be prevailed upon to let us have a slovenly breakfast early, that we might be wholly at leisure at the last. By a little after nine, however, the steams of breakfast ascended; and before that time I saw, through the glass, the church steeples of Liverpool. The Welsh mountains looked lovely through the thin haze, which Mr. Browning chose to call a fog.
Mr. Bruce gratified me by a piece of truly kind consideration. He said that, from the absence of notice of our approach from Holyhead, my friends would not probably be awaiting me. He was alone, with time to spare. If I would give him a line to my friends, he would be the first to step ashore, and would bring them to me. I promised to accept his good offices, if, after reasonable waiting, no familiar faces appeared on the pier.
Soon after breakfast we saw the floating lights and the castle at the mouth of the Mersey; then New Brighton, with its white houses, trim gardens and plantations; and then some golden harvest-fields. The post-office boat was soon seen coming towards us — a sign we were expected. Then came the custom-house boat, to deposit an officer on board. We pointed out to Miss Saunders the gable of a house covered with ivy; — a plant which she had read of, since she could read at all, but never seen, as it does not grow in America. She was surprised at the narrowness of the Mersey; Mr. Bruce apologized for it; — a bad habit which he had learned in America, we told him.
As we hove alongside the pier groups began to assemble; chiefly work-people from about the docks. All had their hands in their pockets; and Miss Saunders asked me, laughing, whether she was to conclude that all Englishmen carried their hands there. In a few minutes breathless gentlemen came running down the Parade. Among them I found the face I was looking for. A watchman had given notice, from the top of the Exchange, that the Eurydice was coming up the river, and in an incredibly short time the news spread over the town. With eager kindness the captain fixed the plank, and handed me on shore.
I am sure this gentleman must by this time have more of your esteem and regard than ever. We, his passengers, feel that we are more deeply indebted to him than he knows of; not only for his professional qualities and hospitality, but for a lesson on the value of good temper, and the dignity of greatness of mind.
As for the rest, they kept up their characters to the end. Miss Lamine’s last act on board was ordering the steward to throw overboard Miss Saunders’s geranium, brought from Dr. Channing’s garden in Rhode Island, and kept alive through the voyage by great care. Wherever these ladies may have gone (and we have heard nothing of them since,) they carry with them our sincerest pity. Others of the company of shipmates have since repeatedly met, and enjoyed, as shipmates do, the retrospect of the brighter days of their Month at Sea.