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9 S.r' C '-': :■ • 'j ■ ■ ^ '■' 





CLASS OF 1828 



S1:1:K1NG THli G0L1)1:X PLBECE; 



in WHK li IS ANNJXl.r) 



Wn l{ AN A( ( nl \ I 111 




jXMIIl ]'l.\ II Si 

A. Roman t^' ('<)., San Kkancisco. 

Niw York, No. ii Huwarh St. 

i 1877. 

(- S dSO^^* crv-a-v 


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CuPYRU'.HT \*7(. 
BY A . ROMAN ^: t « » 

San Fk-vm.i.s<:c>: J'KiNihn nv Kuward Bi.>sori & ( «>. 

CLAY SlRLliT. (■()k. Lr.IUI-SI^OKM-. 








There are many Argonauts still living, and* more 
of their descendants, to whom the following pages 
bear more than a passing interest. To some they 
will restore the rapidly fading recollection of events 
in which they bore their part, and faces of com- 
panions who, one by one, have dropped into the 
Lethean stream. The reader will find little to found 
a claim for the writer to anything above the aver- 
age experience of his fellow pioneers ; but it w^as 
his fortune to have had his letters and journal pre- 
served through all the disasters by flood and fire 
that have proved so destructive to manuscript re- 
cords of that eventful year in California. The 
return from San Francisco, by the way of Central 
America, was written out at the end of the journey 
from notes kept by the way, but the first portion 
of the book is made up from letters written to 
friends at home. The writer asks for them the 
charitable consideration of the public. They were 
written in the careless confidence of affection, with- 
out the thought that the time would ever come 
when any portion of them would be of interest 


beyond the domestic hearth. A literary friend, 
whose judgment I respect and whose motives I 
cannot question, urged me, some years since, to 
give them to the public, and a portion of them was 
published in the Ove^'land Monthly, The favor- 
able reception they met with is my apology for 
reproducing them in the present form. 

If the pleasure to the reader derived from their 
perusal shall be equal to the pain experienced by 
the writer in re-perusing these old letters (stained 
as many of them are with tears, and upon which 
death long since set the seal of silence), it will be 
some compensation. 

I can repeat very appropriately the words of 
^neas to Dido : 

** Infandiim regina, jiibcs rc7iovarc dolorcm ; 
^ -:'c -jv qticeque ipse miser rim a vidi, 
Et quorum pa^^s magmx fui!' 

Perhaps no apology will be needed for intro- 
ducing an address delivered by me on a late cele- 
bration of the Pioneer Society. As a summary of 
the history of that eventful year, it seems a fitting 
introduction to the personal history that follows. 




Discomfort at sea — A storm — Brutality of the Captain — The 
Portuguese man-of-war — Flying fish — Narrow escape — 'J'ropi- 
cal rains — A shark — Phosphorescence of the sea — * ' Corpo- 
sants" — The "doldrums" — Diamond fish — Novel cloud phe- 
nomena — Signalizing a ship — Row with the Captain — Jim 
Morgan — Inhumanity at sea — Board a slaver — Land, ho! — 
The bark Architect — Encounter a Prussian armed brig — Arrive 
at Rio — Bring suit against the Captain — Life in Rio — Re- 
moval of Capuiu Tibbets — Captain Easterbrook. . . . Page 35 


Rio de Janeiro — Slavery — Festival day — Military review — Tiie 
Flmpress' birthday — The Emperor at mass — Rambles about 
the countrv — Prava Grande — The Botanic Gardens — Ascent 
of Corcovado — The aqueduct — Forests — The summit — On 
forbidden ground — Lose our way — Lake 'I agandes 64 

CfL\PTER in. 

Set sail — The Sarah McFartand — Gay tried by court-martial — 
Fined — Justice satisfied — Festus — Our new Captain — He 
findfj stores — Fishing — Marvin catches a " dolphin ** — Our 
'* state-rooms " — Off the Plata — A gale — Cape pigeons — Kelp 
— Another gale — Off the Horn — Run before the wind — Mr. 
Gager meets with an accident — Albatross — Sufferings — Es- 
cape from the Horn — Speak the John Petit — Discover more 
stores — Run away with by a black fish — Juan Fernandcs — A 
party goes for it — Their supposed loss and return — Their 
story — Description of the island 75 


The Andes — Overhauling shore clothes — Callao — Lima — The 
"' cheremoya'' — Excursion to San Lorenzo — Shoot sea-birtls — 


Wild potatoes — Tom Falls — Exciting news from California — 
The Cathedral — Pizarros skull — Champagne dinner — Water- 
spouts — Celebration of Independence Day — Sail, hoi — (}o 
for it — Krig Osceola — (Jrand reception — Return — Six months 
at sea — Head winds — Pass the ship Humboldt — Mope de- 
ferred — Signs of land — Ho, California ! — Old I^oreas comes 
on board — End of the Voyage — Landing. ......... Page y8 


Disappointment — Encamp in Happy Valley — The ship Brooklyn. 
Old Tibbets comes to grief — Burying the dead — The New 
l.ngland Mining and Trading Company disband — Up the 
Sacramento — S{)end a night in a whale boat — Lost in the 
tules — Our first camp — Arrive at Sacramento citv — Resolve 
to go to the head waters of the Sacramento — Joined by Capt. 
Haines and his party — Wild grapes — Grizzly bears — A confla- 
gration — A wildcat — Shoot a California vulture — Pa*>s an 
Indian town — Stopped by a war party — The fish wier — 
Numerous deer — Arrive at Chico Creek — Sickness anil des- 
pondency — How we didn't shoot a bear — Deer Creek — Trade 
our boat for ox teams and proceed by land — Meet C^•lpt. 
Haines at Red Bluff — Return to Sacramento 1 18 


Thoughts about California — A sad case — Ihiild a hos|)ital — 
Bayard Taylor — The rainy season— Suffering — 'The Hood — 
Burying the dead — A maniac — (^innon makes an ex{)criment 
and narrowly escapes drowning — The waters recede — Trinity 
River — Accounts from the mines — Experience of miners — 
Letter from a disappointed one — The overland men — See a 
woman — Approach of Spriiig — ?"ate of Potter — Mowers — 
Organization of a Medical Society — Slavery in California — 
Burglars I44 


Norris" ranch — First appearance of agriculture — Fate of Weld — 
Squatter rio's — Mayor Bigclow shot — The Assessor killed — 
Take Dr. Robinson pri.soner- Bur)' the dead under arms — 
Alarms — Death of the Sheriff —Escanc of his murderer. . . i68 



Homeward bound — A ride over Russian Hill — California ad- 
mitted — Cholera — Ship Plynwuih — Island of Guadalupe — 
Death and burial at sea — Remarkable adventure with a whale 
'I'edious calms — Dying dolphin — Drifting canoe — Approach 
to land — Departure of the whale — Volcano of Cosa^uina — 
Harbor of Realejo Page 1 80 


Realejo — Its capture by buccaneers — Impositions by fellow coun- 
trymen — An old church — A night on shore — Mounted forlhe 
journey — An involuntary companion — Chinandiga — Chain- 
gang — Our guide— Our party — Chichigalpa — Leon — Naga- 
rote — Another Californian robber — I^ike Managua — Beautiful 
scenery — Metearis — Kill a monkey — I'own of Managua. 197 


Doctor Rivas — Ancient ruins — In the forest — Cross a lava bed — 
Nindiri — Massaya — Religio-military celebration — A chamber 
of death — Buy a macaw — Granada — Dismiss our horses — 
Roast monkey — Embark on Lake Nicaragua — Boat swam}>ed 
and build another — Embark again and again swamped. .. 216 


Embark for the third time — Momotombo — A night on the lake — 
San Carlos — Fort San Juan — Down the San Juan River — A 
night in a canoe — Down the rapids — Night and storm and 
darkness — The crew mutiny — Greytown — Brig Mechawc — 
The Corn Islands — St. Andrews — Explore the island — A 
norther — Lose our anchor — Perilous situation — Saved bv the 
presence of mind of Captain Sisson — Leave the Captain on 
shore and stand off — The mate's bewilderment 229 


Quita Sneflo reef— Discover a wreck — A rescue — Coral reefs — 
Scene on board the wreck — Make a raft — A night on the 


sea — Blown off — Given over as lost — Lucky escape — Return 
to the brig — Second trip to the wreck — Death and burial of 
Wheelock — Piracy — Provisions fail — Make for Old Provi- 
dence — Barbarity of the officers of the Mechanic — We take 
refuge on the island I^age 250 


Old Providence Island — Take up our quarters at the residence 
of the Chief Magistrate — Our situation and prospects — Wild 
pigeons — A sail reported — Disappointment — Buccaneers' fort- 
ress — We storm it — Scene of Sir Edward Seward's wreck — The 
Polly Hinds — Rescue of the passengers left on the wreck of 
the Marlha Sanger — Arrange for passage to Baltimore in the 
Pollv Hinds — Eat the manchincel — Did not die — Arrive at 
Kev West 267 



Did Drake enter San Francisco Bay — Sources of cnir knowjedg-e 
respecting it — Opinion of Officers of the Coast Survey — Argu- 
ment from Natural History — La Perouse — Vancouver — I^mgs- 
dorff — Kotzebue — Beechey — Douglas — Belcher — Gov. Simp- 
son 285 


An account of the sufferings of a party of Argonauts who were 
compelled to abandon their vessel *'The Dolphin" on the 
Coast of Lower California, and seek their wav on fool 10 San 
Diego 327 



The lapse of a quarter of a century since the 
occurrence of the stirrin^j scenes in which you 
were all actors furnishes a proper occasion to take 
a retrospective view of them. 

A quarter of a century is but a moment in the 
life of a nation; but to us, as individuals, it has 
marked the best years we had to give — what re- 
mains to us, at best, is the memory of them. 
Twenty-five years ago, our brethren told us to go 
in freedom's name and possess the land — "to read 
no more history until you have made it." May 
we not now, in the waning light of the past meri- 
dian of our lives, read some of the pages of the 
history that we have made.'^ 

The progress of the human race within the his- 
toric period has not been uniform, like the operation 
of the laws that have governed it. This is true, 
in whatever direction we contemplate it: in re- 
ligion, government, social science, and in whatever 
constitutes the present condition of the civilized 
world. In nothing is this more manifest than in 
its migrations; gradually accumulating within given 
boundaries, tribes have suddenly burst their barriers 
and flowed out into new lands, submerging their 


previous inhabitants. These movements have been 
determined by some new condition or necessity. 
The evolution of new ideas in religion, and the 
tyrannical efforts to suppress them, peopled the 
shores of New England, where for two centuries 
the pent-up race was gathering its forces for the 
next movement; when the introduction of steam 
as a locomotive power gave to it a new impulse, 
which has spread it, in a time within the memory 
of men now living, across the whole breadth of 
the continent. Who of us that were reared on 
the Atlantic sea-board cannot remember the yearn- 
ings that came over us in our boyhood to try our 
fortunes in the pathless wilds of the great West, 
where our cousins had already gone, half regretful 
of the better fortune that kept us at home? Then 
the pine forests of the Alleghanies were the ultitiia 
tliide of our westward yearnings. 

The Erie Canal had just then opened the way 
to the fulfillment of Bishop Berkeley's prophetic 
lines. The Western Reserve, then Michigan and 
Wisconsin, became successively the "far west;' at 
length the railway, superseding the slow-paced 
locomotion of its predecessors, practically annihi- 
lated distance, and brought the long dissevered 
members of one family again into social relation. 
With the era of internal improvement, the Celt 
and the Scandinavian began their remarkable mi- 
gration that filled up our towns and spread out 
upon the prairies, closing up the avenues to emi- 
gration by the native born, by giving larger fields for 
enterprise in commerce and manufactures at home. 


The great valley of the Mississippi rapidly filled 
up with organized industries. A few hardy adven- 
turers had pushed their way over the desert slopes 
of the Rocky Mountains — 

*' To lose themselves in the continuous woods 
Where rolls the Oregon." 

And Texas still lured the heroic spirit to adventure 
and death; but the great heart of the nation was 
engaged in the various industries of civilized life, 
accumulating wealth, and consolidating its power — 
the poetic age of the North American pioneer 
seemed drawing to its close. 

Such was the state of affairs when the close of 
the war with Mexico opened a new field for enter- 
prise and an epoch in the history of the nation. 
The year was exceedingly favorable for great 
movements. The thunder of artiller}^ was yet re- 
verberating in the political sky, the air was full of 
the lightning of revolution, the public nerve was 
quick and apprehensive, Europe was heaving from 
center to circumference with the evolution of poli- 
tical ideas; France, having banished her King, had 
asserted the equality and brotherhood of man ; the 
Emperor of Austria was a fugitive from his capital 
among the Ty rolese, alone faithful ; roused by the 
matchless eloquence of Kossuth, the Hungarians 
had driven their oppressors from her soil ; the King- 
dom of Naples had forever banished the Bourbons 
from its borders; the Pope had fled from Rome 
before the triumphant Republicans; V^enice was in 
arms; the King of Bavaria abdicated his throne; 
the capital of Prussia was in a state of siege; a 


change of ministry alone saved the crown of Sax- 
ony; Spain, Portugal, and Sardinia, were saved 
from the ravages of revolution by concessions to 
the popular demand for larger liberty; Ireland, 
under the lead of Smith O'Brien, was in revolt; 
and India was bleeding at every pore in a death 
struggle for rights wrested from her by conquest. 
In short, everywhere throughout the world, wher- 
ever the seeds of civil liberty had been planted, 
the earth was heaving with their germinal energy. 

The region between the Snowy Mountains and 
the Pacific Ocean, acquired by the Treaty with 
Mexico, was at this time almost as little known as 
the heart of Africa. PVom the time of its discovery 
down to a recent period it had been closed to all 
strangers with ajapanese exclusiveness. The hardy 
Douglas had explored its mountains and revealed 
some of the wonders of their flora; its sea-ports 
had been visited by eastern traders to collect the 
hideSiand tallow of cattle raised in the vicinity of 
the missions; deserters from these and from whaling 
ships touching along the coast had found their way 
into the interior and taken grants of land in the wat- 
ered valleys of the Coast Mountains, or led a vaga- 
bond life about the sea-ports as "beach-combers." 

The trappers of Bonneville" told wondering 
listeners around their camp fires in the Rocky 
Mountains of personal adventures in California as 
in a region of enchantment, where it was always 
Spring or Summer, where the rivers were choked 
with salmon, and the plains swarming with game. 

♦See Irving's " Adventures of Captain Bonneville." 


In 1844 was published FarnhamV" ^'Travels in 
California." His *' Travels" may be considered as 
the exponent of all that was at that time known 
of the interior of California. He said: **Cali- 
fornia is an incomparable wilderness — a wilderness 
of groves and lawns, broken by deep and rich 
ravines. Along the ocean is a world of vegetable 
beauty, on the sides of the mountains are the 
mightiest trees of the earth, on the hights are the 
eternal snows lighted by volcanic fires." The val- 
ley of the San Joaquin he represents as the great 
hunting ground of the Californians; **vast herds of 
wild horses and elk are met with in all parts of it. 
The latter animal, the noble elk, is hunted by the 
Spaniards for his hide and tallow. These people 
go out in large companies with fleet horses and 
lasso them, as they do bullocks near the coast. 
The deer, also, and antelope, are found in great 
numbers, and are killed for the same purpose. The 
grizzly bear inhabits the mountain sides and upper 
vales; these are so numerous, fat. and large, that a 
common sized ship might be laden with oil from 
the hunt of a single season. A noble and valu- 
able vale is that of the San Joaquin; six hundred 
miles of prairie covered with grass and wild oats, 
cut by streams, shaded with lofty forests." 

Of the valley of the Sacramento he presented a 
still more fascinating picture. "The oak, the plain 

*Thomas J. Farnham was a teacher in Northern New York, afterwards a 
lawyer in Illinois, whence he made the overland journey to Oregon in 1840, 
returning by way of the Sandwich Islands and California. He returned to 
California in 1844-5, ^"^ ^'^^ ^^ San Francisco, September 13th, 1848. The 
New York Tribune says of his accounts, that " they arc the best ever written." 



fabulous river, the Buenaventura, that was sup- 
posed to have its rise in the Rocky Mountains, 
and, flowing westward, to discharge its waters into 
San Francisco Bay! His visit was short, but his 
account was authentic, and contributed powerfully 
to draw public attention to this country. ** Dis- 
tance lent enchantment to the view," and the Mexi- 
can flag alone saved it at that time from the inroads 
of our pioneers. Two years later Edwin Bryant 
crossed the Sierras and entered the valley of the 
Sacramento, on the track of Fremont. His jour- 
nal*"* was published in 1848, after possession had 
' been taken by the United States forces. It passed 
rapidly through several editions, and attracted uni- 
versal attention. Writing in early September, at 
Sutter's Fort, near the junction of the American 
Fork with the Sacramento, he said: **It is scarcely 
possible to imagine a more delightful temperature 
or a climate which is more agreeable and uniform. 
The sky is cloudless, without the slightest film of 
vapor apparent in all the vast azure vault. At 
night, so pure is the atmosphere, that the moon 
gives a light sufliciently powerful for the purposes 
of the reader or student who has good eye-sight. 
There is no necessity of burning the midnight oil. 
Nature here lights the candle for the bookworm." 
He told of wild horses in great droves, cjuietly 
grazing in bands of one or two hundred; of herds 
of elk numbering thousands; of beef so abundant 
that no one cared to hunt for game, which was so 
tame as scarcely to run from the traveler. 

* " What I Saw in California." D. Applcton & Co., N. Y. 


Such were the fascinating pictures presented to 
us of this, at that time, the least known and most 
inaccessible of any maritime country on the globe. 
What charm could have been added to the descrip- 
tion by poet's pen, or with what tint could fancy, 
*with her pencil dipped in the colors of the spec- 
trum, have touched the picture, to make it more 
fascinating, to stir more deeply the daring enthu- 
siasm of American youth? 

Grecian Arcadia was but a poet s dream. To 
us, in our green, sinewy youth, it had become pos- 
sible to gaze upon the true gardens of the Hes- 
perides in the far, far West, and no hundred-headed 
serpent to be encountered. 

As soon as the treaty with Mexico gave undis- 
puted authority to the United States over Upper 
California, arrangements were set on foot to open 
communications between it and the Atlantic's coast 
by a line of mail steamers, but, before these steam- 
ers could take their stations, and almost before 
they had left the port of New York, the spark that 
had been wanting to fire the magazine was struck. 

In October, 1848, private letters from California 
to the '* States" reported that there was great excite- 
ment throughout Upper California, on account of 
the discovery of gold on the American River, and 
that business was suspended, while all the male 
population had gone off to search for gold; but 
the accounts were not generally credited and at- 
tracted but little attention, though some ridicule. 

An officer of the navy wrote to the Richmond 
Enqtiirer, from La Paz, Lower California, with 


affected gravity : ** The riches of the Arabian Nights 
are not to be compared with the California gold 
mines, and, indeed, the wealth of the entire world 
is a mere drop when compared with the golden 
harvest of California. We shall visit the gold bed 
in our surveying expedition, and, if it only requires 
to be shoveled up, we will fill several sacks and 
take them on board!'* Those who first manifested 
symptoms of the "gold fever" were made the butts 
of ridicule and targets for the arrows of wit. **Do 
you know the meaning of the word California?*' 
said one. '*It is derived from the Indian words, 
Kali, signifying gold, ?Lnd forna-nf/iOy don't you wish 
you may get it.'*" 

The New Orleans Commercial Times, of Novem- 
ber 24th, published the first news of an official 
character confirming the rumors. The President's 
Message was given to the public on the 5th of 
December, and the report of Colonel Mason, Mili- 
tary Governor of California, accompanying it, ap- 
peared on the 8th. The effect was electric, though 
many still doubted ; but with every breeze that was 
borne from the shores of the Pacific came confir- 
mation of all that had been told, with still more 
startling revelations. Wherever explorations w-ere 
made throughout the region drained by the tribu- 
taries of the Sacramento and San Joaquin, gold 
was fr und in inexhaustible quantities. The Bay 
of San Francisco was thronged with vessels of 
every nation, abandoned by officers and crews, all 
intent on gold digging. A hundred dollars a day 
was said to have been the average reward to each 


man. Three-fourths of the houses in San Fran- 
cisco and Monterey were deserted. And still the 
excitement grew. 

Long before the intelligence had reached the 
United States, it had spread to all the shores and 
islands of the great Pacific, and the placers were 
overrun with Indians, Kanakas, Marquesans, Per- 
uvians, Chilanos, of all sorts and colors; in fact, 
with all the floating people wherever the birds of 
fame had flown with the seductive intelligence. A 
correspondent of a New York paper at the Sand- 
wich Islands, writing in November, 1848, stated 
that the excitenfent exceeded that at a Presidential 
election in the United States. Twenty-seven ves- 
sels had already left for San Francisco, carrying 
six hundred persons. Before the close of the year 
four thousand Chilanos were at the mines, and the 
numbers were only limited by the capacity of ves- 
sels available for transportation. The Winter rains 
closed the campaign on this motley throng at the 
mines. Without government or law it could not 
have been otherwise than attended by scenes of 
blood and violence; that there were not more than 
were reported could only have been accounted for 
on the theory that the earth yielded her treasures 
too readily to excuse robbery. 

The mail ships California, Pana^na,"^' and Ore- 
gon, the pioneer steamers that have survived all 
the dangers that have caused the destruction of so 
many of their successors, sailed from New York 

''^The Panamaf having been disabled by an accident to her machinery, put 
back to New York, and before she sailed again was overtaken by the storm. 


before the excitement began. Nineteen vessels 
cleared from the various ports of the United States 
before the end of the month, the most of them for 
Chagres and Mexican ports. With the opening of 
the New Year the fever had spread like a pesti- 
lence through every village and town throughout 
the land; on every side the notes of preparation 
for the long journey were sounding. The Ti^ibiuie, 
near the close of January, said **a resident of New 
York, coming back after a three months' absence, 
would wonder at the word 'California,' seen every- 
where in glaring letters, and at the columns of 
vessels advertised in the papers, fibout to sail for 
San Francisco. He would be puzzled at seeing a 
new class of men in the streets, in a peculiar cos- 
tume — broad, felt hats of a reddish brown hue. 
loose, rough coats reaching to the knee, and high 
boots. Californians throng the streets ; several of 
the hotels are almost filled with them, and, though 
large numbers leave every day, there is no appar- 
ent diminution of their numbers. Even those who 
have watched the gradual progress of the excite- 
ment are astonished at its extent and intensity. 
The ordinary course of business seems for the 
time to be changed; bakers keep their ovens hot 
day and night, turning out immense quantities of 
ship bread, without supplying the demand; the 
provision stores of all kinds are besieged by orders. 
Manufacturers of rubber goods, rifies, pistols, bowie 
knives, etc., can scarcely supply the demand." At 
the close of the month ninety vessels had sailed 
from the various ports, carrying nearly eight thou- 


sand men, and seventy more ships were up for 
passage. . 

Never since the Crusades was such a movement 
known; not a family but had one or more repre- 
sentatives gone or preparing to go. Every man 
was a walking arsenal, prepared for every emer- 
gency but that of not coming back loaded with gold. 
Though leaving home with all its endearments — 
fathers, mothers, sisters, wives and children — on 
a journey that could not occupy less than two 
years in time, to encounter perils by sea and land, 
from sickness, and all those dangers that environ 
the adventurer in a new land, yet all these consider- 
ations were overborne by that wild enthusiasm that 
found utterance in such extravagant song as that 
of which the following is a remembered stanza : 

'* I soon shall be in Frisco, 

And then Til look all 'round, 
And when 1 see the gold lumps there 

ril pick em off the ground ; 
I'll scrape the mountains clean, my boys, 

I'll drain the rivers drv, 
A pocket full of rocks bring home — 

So, brothers, don't you cry. 

Oh! California, 
That's the land for me, 
I'm bound for San Francisco, 
With my wash-bowl on my knee." 

The columns of the daily papers were filled with 
paragraphs giving accounts of the movement, lists 
of passengers gone or going, and advertisements 
of everything that could be sold to them, from 
California gingerbread to patent rockers, gold sift- 


ers, and patent medicines. Public lectures were 
given on the geological relations of gold and the 
means of testing, refining and assaying, with volun- 
tary advice from those who did not know to those 
who did not care how to preserve health. 

The following lines from a poem on California, 
by an anonymous bard, called out by the prevailing 
enthusiasm, will serve to illustrate the spirit of the 

From the sunny Southern Islands, from the Asiatic coast, 
Tlie Orient and the Occident are mingled in the host, 
The glowing star of Plmpire has forever stayed its way, 
And its western limb is resting oer San Francisco Bay. 

A hundred sails already swell to catch the willing breeze, 
A hundred keels are cleaving through the blue Atlantic seas, 
FulTmany a thousand leagues behind their tardy courses borne 
For a hundred masts already strain beyond the stormy Horn. 

Soon from the channel of St. George and from the Levant shore, 
To swell the emigrating tide, another host shall pour 
To that far land beyond the west where labor lords the soil. 
And thankless tasks shall ne'er be done by unrequited toil 

To the banks of distant rivers whose flashing waves have rolled 
For long and countless centuries above neglected gold, 
Where nature holds a double gift within lior lavish hand, 
And teeming fields of yellow grain strike root in golden sand. 

Companies for mining and trading were formed 
in every considerable town, and those who could 
not go subscribed to the stock and sent a repre- 
sentative. Editors, who in the columns of their 
papers had discouraged the movement and exhorted 
the young men to be satisfied with the slow gains 
of home industry and stand by their households, 
sold out, and, by virtue of their character as repre- 


sentatives of the Press, obtained extraordinary 
facilities for transportation, and anticipated the 
quickest of us at the gold mines by at least a 
month. Ministers of the gospel raised their voices 
against the danger of riches, and, like Cassandra, 
prophesied unutterable woes upon the country, 
and started in the first ship as missionaries to San 
Francisco. Physicians, impatient at the slow action 
of alterants, sold their horses, and, leaving their 
uncollected accounts with their families, procured 
a good supply of musket balls and Dupont s best 
rifle powder, and shoved off for the land of gold, 
to the tune of ''Oh, Susanna!" 

Human ingenuity was racked to invent huge 
labor-saving machines to facilitate the separation 
of the gold from the gravel and soil with which it 
was supposed to be mixed. Patented machines 
with cranks, pumps, overshot wheel attachments, 
and powerful engines, were constructed to be placed 
on scows and driven by steam, to dredge the beds 
of rivers, which were believed to be of almost pure 
gold; buckets, with auger and valve attachment at 
the bottom, and long iron handles, to prospect the 
subaqueous deposits; and even diving bells were 
constructed for deeper water. 

If the foundations of that part of San Francisco 
which was built upon the site of the anchorage of 
that day could be raised to view, in the blue mud 
would be revealed a world of curious and costly 
contrivances, that fell still-born over the ship*s side, 
unable to survive an instant s contact with the cold 
world of practical facts. 


As the Winter advanced, the excitement con- 
tinued to increase. At the Isthmus of Panama 
two or three thousand persons were collected wait- 
ing transportation ; every craft that could float was 
readily taken up at an extraordinary price and fitted 
up for the long voyage. Sometimes with canvas 
covering alone to their hatches, and without carry- 
ing capacity for their supplies, they set out with as 
many passengers as could hang on,^*' and, had the 
seas over which they sailed been as stormy as the 
Atlantic, few would ever have reached their des- 
tination. The steamer California, like all other 
vessels at San Francisco, was deserted, and mail 
communication was cut off. In the meantime, 
fevers and other tropical diseases were ravaging 
the defenseless emigrants. 

One party, in a small craft, having ascended the 
coast as far as Cape St. Lucas, and becoming dis- 
couraged at the difficulties encountered in the con- 
tinuous head winds and calms, which so success- 
fully baffled the nautical skill of the old Spanish 
voyagers two himdred years before, abandoned 
their vessel and pushed their toilsome way along 
the whole peninsula of Lower California on foot, 
subsisting on cacti and rattlesnakes, and, after 
enduring hardships and privations that seem in- 
credible, reached San Diego, naked and emaciated 
in the last degree. (See Appemiix A. ) 

At the approach of Spring, the main body of the 

*The schooner Pharnixy seventy tons and sixty passengers, was on^^ hundred 
and fifteen days on the passage; and the Tivo Friendsy cwo hundred and six 
tons, canicd one hundred and sixty-four passengers, and was five and a half 
months in reaching San Francisco. 


gold hunters were gathering along the frontier line 
preparing to take up the line of march across the 

This grand army, variously estimated at from 
twenty-five to forty thousand, covered the plains 
w^ith their canvas-covered wagons, representing 
every section of the Union, if not every town. 

On the appearance of grass upon the plains the 
grand march began. The long-geared prairie 
schooners'" of the veteran frontiermen of Missouri 
and Arkansas, commingled with the square-bodied 
wagons from the northwest, and the light, gaily 
painted ones, with all the modern improvements, 
from down east, poured a continuous line of march 
by every route leadinj^f to the South Pass of the 
Rocky Mountains. "Persons in every variety of 
circumstances were forming an unbroken column 
in carts, in wagons, on horses, on mules, and even 
on foot; men, women and children, even women 
with infants at their breasts, trudging along on 

The Asiatic cholera, which had made its appear- 
ance in the Atlantic seaboard early in the Winter, 
began its ravages on the parties moving by the 
southern routes. The mortality was fearful; whole 
companies were cut off, and others so reduced that 
they were compelled to return. While encamped 
at the frontier towns. Independence and St. Josephs, 
the mortality was very great, and it followed the 

*A name given to the wagons built on the model of the Santa Fe traders, so 
named from the great shear given to the bodies. 

fSt. Louis Union, May 25th. 


emigrants like wolves on the track of the buffalo; 
the camps were everywhere marked with hurriedly 
made graves. 

Swollen rivers were to be forded; bottom lands, 
miry with Spring rains, to be crossed, stalling the 
heavily loaded teams every hour; the plain was 
strewn with the debris of broken and abandoned 
wagons. The wagons were often unloaded and 
reloaded twenty times a day. Whole towns could 
have been fed with stores abandoned by the way. 
Harassed by hostile tribes of Indians, they passed 
the day in incessant toil, and the night in standing 
guard. Many, overcome by unexpected difficul- 
ties and hardships to which they were unaccus- 
tomed, abandoned the enterprise and returned 
home. But their absence could not be noticed in 
the immense throng that pushed on over every 

At length, as the higher and dryer ground was 
reached, somewhat more order was gained. Ex- 
perience had chastened their impatience and taught 
them how to apply their energies to the best re- 
sults, but, through inexperience ahd haste, the 
animals' strength were already exhausted, and they 
began to fall; and before they reached the Pass, 
the losses of stock became serious, and necessitated 
the abandonment of supplies whose loss became 
of grave consequence before the end of the jour- 
ney was reached. At the Mormon settlements, in 
the valley of the Great Salt Lake, they halted for 
several weeks for their stock to recuperate for the 
dreaded passage of the desert. Along the valley 


of the Humboldt, through the interminable sage 
plains, covered with alkali like a hoar frost, under 
a burning midsummer sun, they dragged their slow 
way, worn down with the hardships of the past, 
and dreading the still severer trials before them. 
The want of vegetable food now began to develop 
scorbutic disease among the emigrants; still, with 
brave hearts they pushed on; the valley of the 
Sacramento, the land of promise, was before them; 
its golden vision was their cloud by day and pillar 
of fire by night, to guide them through the wilder- 

So thoroughly were the animals of the emigrants 
worn out by the long journey that, when it be- 
came necessary to leave the friendly waters of the 
Humboldt and strike across the desert to the 
streams that flowed down to meet them from the 
Sierras, though the distance did not exceed forty 
to sixty miles, it was too great; it was the last 
ounce that proved too much for their endurance. 
No pen can describe the suffering endured on that 
terrible route; cattle were detached from the wag- 
ons,^ everything that could retard their flight was 
abandoned, in the despairing efforts to reach water. 
The ground was macadamized with guns, ox-chains, 
and every kind of things that had not already been 
abandoned; and to this day the plain in every 
direction is covered with the bleached bones of the 
faithful beasts that perished on that fatal desert. 
To the banks of the Carson and Truckee they 
staggered, and men and animals, in one common 
herd, rushed into the water with tongues swollen 


and eyes red and glaring. Men, having slaked 
their thirst, filled their canteens and returned to 
revive those that were exhausted on the way. 

Many trains, to avoid this desert, were induced 
to take a more circuitous route to the north, known 
as Lassen's Cut-off, which proved but a delusion 
and a snare. The snow of the Sierras overtook 
the rear of the column before they had crossed the 
mountains, and relief parties w^ere sent out from 
Sacramento to their assistance. 

When at last the valley of the Sacramento was 
reached, the supply of food suited to their wants 
was not to be obtained. The first arrivals of the 
fleet from the Atlantic ports, in June, found the 
harbor of San Francisco already covered with a 
fleet of foreigners, and by midsummer the Bay 
presented a scene that never has had and never 
can have its equal. Away to the mines, like cattle 
to water! In row-boats, crowded on the decks of 
schooners, brigs and barks (for the Sacramento was 
then navigable for such), they hurried to "get their 
pile" and return home before the Winter rains. 
Goods were sacrificed, because they could not be 
carried, or were not immediately required; and 
before the placers were reached many that had 
started from home with stores sufficient for a year 
found themselves without enough to sustain life 
for a week. Companies, formed at starting for 
mutual protection, fell apart like ropes of sand, and 
each man took the course that seemed to him best. 
Over those arid plains and hills, through chaparral 
and the poisonous rhus, with his pan, pick and 


bundle of blankets, sweating as it were great drops 
of blood, he plodded on in search of new and 
richer mines, from the Trinity in the north to King s 
River in the south, over wealth untold, in search 
of the El Dorado of his heated imagination. Sleep- 
ing upon the ground in regions infested with 
miasma, subsisting on food that would have de- 
stroyed the digestion of a coyote, he fell an easy 
prey to camp diseases with the first rains. Many, 
with becoming energy and forethought, provided 
shelter for themselves by building canvas or log 
cabins, but the greater number became dependent 
for shelter and sustenance at the cost of all they 
had to offer. 

Memor)^ draws a veil over the harrowing scenes 
of that memorable Winter, but through its tattered 
folds are revealed glimpses of misery more than 
enough; faces pale and haggard with wasting dis- 
ease; faces calm with the courage of despair; tears 
of beardless youth, overcome by home sickness 
and longing to return to their father's house, where 
they knew the fatted calf would welcome them 
back; the strong man dying, where no kind hand 
of woman administered to his wants, calling in 
muttered delirium upon the name of loved ones, 
who listened long and vainly for his returning 
footsteps; of heartless selfishness and the noblest 
charity; of the pietist turned fiend, and the outlaw 
transfigured to a saint; we wake from the reverie 
as from a troubled dream. As we revisit the scenes 
of those sorrowful reminiscences, we wonder if they 
can be the same ! 


When Spring again returned with healing on its 
wings, at least ten thousand young and hopeful 
hearts, who a year before had set out on the long 
journey with cheers and song, were sleeping their 
last sleep beneath the wild flowers. 

It was the memory of these terrible experiences 
endured by the early immigration that formed the 
basis of that bond of union that resulted in the 
organization of the Society of Pioneers, experiences 
of which those who entered the State at a later 
period can have no adequate conception. 

The estimates made by a Committee of the Con- 
stitutional Convention, in a memorial to Congress, 
in March, 1850, of which Hon. Wm. M. Gwin was 
Chairman, place the number that arrived at the 
port of San Francisco, from the iith of April to 
January ist, 1850, at 29,069, of which 22,069 were 
Americans, and 7,000 foreigners. They estimate, 
also, the number who arrived by sea prior to the 
I ith of April and after January ist, 1849, at 6,000, 
and 2,000 by land from Sonora, Mexico; and the 
number in California on the ist of January, 1849, 
at 26,000. They give the number who arrived by 
Santa Fe and the Gila at 8,000, and that by the 
South Pass at 25,000, the number of seamen who 
deserted the ships arriving in the country at 3,000, 
and the number of Mexicans arriving by land at 
6,000 to 8,000. 

The total population on the ist of January, 1850. 
could not have been less than 100,000, made up of 
every nation and language on the globe. The 
State Constitution was adopted, and the machinery 


of government under it put in motion on Novem- 
ber 13th, 1849, by the popular vote, and it seems 
to be the event whose anniversary should be cele- 
brated by us. The admission of the State into 
the Union ten months later was no act of ours, but 
a tardy recognition by Congress of an inevitable 
fact, which, if celebrated at all, should be by those 
who have been chiefly benefited, the manufacturing 
States. The advent of the American immigration 
was the advent of law and order; the darker races 
rapidly disappeared before the superior intelligence 
and energy of the rightful owners of the soil. Of 
the character of that immigration, all accounts 
agree with the high testimonial of the New York 
Tribune: "The class of our citizens which is leav- 
ing us for El Dorado is of the better sort, well 
educated, industrious and respectable, such as we 
regret to part with. The rowdies, whom we could 
well spare, cannot, as a general thing, fit them- 
selves out for so long a voyage."^ But with 
greater satisfaction we can now, after the lapse of 
a quarter of a century, point to results to vindicate 
the virtue and intelligence of the pioneers. 

Of those w^ho returned to their old homes to 
enjoy the fruits of their enterprise we know but 
little, we pity them much; their places have been 
filled by successors nurtured in the same school, 
and bred to the same love of our common country, 
ambitious of its development, jealous of its honor 
as of their own. To them and our children we 
leave this beloved land, sanctified to us by our 

♦New York Tribune^ January 26th, 1849. 


early sufferings and watered with our tears. We 
have not all realized the hopes that made radiant 
the morning of our lives and sustained us through 
so great hardships ; — fortune was ever a capricious 

Those whose pious prayers followed us in our 
long westward journey, and who waited so long 
our return, sleep in their honored graves. 

Our affections still linger with fond yearnings 
around our old homesteads — 

" Still dear to our hearts are the scenes of our childhood. 
When fond recollection presents them to view, 
The orchard, the meadow, the deep-tangled wild wood, 
And every loved spot which our infancy knew." 

Proud as we are of this glorious State we have 
founded, we turn, like the fire worshippers, our 
faces to the East, with the profoundest reverence, 
and pray, '*God bless our native land!" 



Discpmfort at sea — A storm — Brutality of the Captain — The 
Portuguese man-of-war — Flying fish — Narrow escape — Tropi- 
cal rains — A shark — Phosphorescence of the sea — * ' Corpo- 
sants" — The ''doldrums" — Diamond fish — Novel cloud phe- 
nomena — Signalizing a ship — Row with the Captain — Jim 
Morgan — Inhumanity at sea — Board a slaver — Land, hoi — 
The bark Architect — Encounter a Prussian armed brig — Arrive 
at Rio — Bring suit against the Captain — Life in Rio — Re- 
moval of Captain Tibbets — Captain Easterbrook. 

Ship Pacific, at Sea. 

February 26, iS^i^, 

We have now been thirty-four days out from 
New York, and, as we will be at Rio Janerio in a 
few days, I will use the opportunity while I have 
it to write you a brief account of our voyage. I 
shall quote chiefly from my journal : 

Our anchor was dropped in the lower bay, as the 
owner and Captain were left behind to disengage 
themselves from sundry attachments that had been 
served upon the ship by disaffected passengers. 
The ship was all in confusion; the deck piled with 
lumber, fore and aft, higher than our heads, and 
water-casks arrayed on both sides, leaving barely 
passage-ways, and the whole was covered by six 
inches of new-fallen snow. There was no fire to 


warm us, and we turned into our berths to avoid 
freezing. About eleven o'clock, at night, a tug 
came alongside with the Captain, Mr. Griffin, and 
a few passengers left behind. The Captain s voice 
was heard louder than the steam blowing off from 
the tug. "There goes my bag overboard," shouted 
one of the belated passengers; ** please, Captain.* 
won't you lower a boat and get my bag- -it con- 
tains all my clothes for the voyage?" **Go to h — 1 
with your baggage. Do you suppose Tm going 
to lower a boat to get your bag? Why don't you 
take care of it?" We tumbled up to see what was 
going on. It was very dark; we were all strangers 
to each other, and for the first time I saw Mr. 
Griffin, the owner. He had found a demijohn of 
brandy on the deck, and, taking a good draught, 
he passed it around, and all who were so disposed 
followed his example, until the precious contents 
were gone — no one knew at whose expense until 
the next morning, when the name of '*Fred Griffin, 

with the compliments of ," was found on the 

tag. This was the theme of some merriment, but 
what increased the enjoyment was the discovery 
that the bag of clothing lost overboard was the 
property of the Captain. Our anchor was up at 
four o'clock, in the morning, and we stood out past 
the Hook. 

Jamcary 2jd, iS^g, — Cold and cheerless. Many 
sea-sick; others silent, trying to get warm in their 
bunks. We have about ninety passengers. I 
would like to see a man that don't wish he was 
home again. I have not been sea-sick, but am 

Chap. I. A GALE. T^J 

dreadfully hungry, and can't get any decent food 
to quell the cravings. Captain an old Turk; tells 
us to go to h — 1, if we can't eat raw mush and 
**old junk." 

On the third day out the wind freshened from 
the southwest and continued to increase until night. 
As it increased, sail after sail was furled, until we 
w^ere running under double-reefed topsails and 
going at a furious rate. The Captain looked un- 
concerned, and it was not for me to worry, so I 
turned in, though not without some uneasiness, as 
the Captain, when he left the deck, told the mate 
to let no one sleep on his watch. There were 
others beside the watch who did not sleep that 

The next day was a very unhappy one. The 
gale still continued, the sea was rough, nine-tenths 
of the passengers were sick, and in all the ship 
there was not a cheerful sound. On the following 
morning the wind shifted to the northeast, but con- 
tinued so severe that no more sail was spread. 
This state of things continued until Monday, when 
the wind died away, and in the morning there was 
a general turn-out. The sick were spread out on 
the cabin roof — reading, writing, and music were 
the order of the day — some were towing fish-lines 
over the stern, others shooting at sea birds far Out 
of range. The wet sails flap against the mast, as 
the ship rolls lazily on the bosom of the ocean 
sobbing itself to sleep. 

In the afternoon the wind again sprang up from 
the southwest, and by the following morning we 

38 A STORM. Chap. I. 

were again under close-reefed topsails. The gale 
continued to increase until Thursday, about noon. 
This was by far the most exciting day that we 
have yet experienced. The barometer continued 
to fall, and the Captain, who had hardly left the 
deck during forty-eight hours, looked troubled. 
The ship rolled violently, and, though running be- 
fore the wind, we could make ourselves comfort- 
able in no situation. About two o'clock, a dark 
line was visible in the northwest horizon, and the 
Captain s quick eye caught the meaning. He took 
his station beside the capstan, and sent the first 
mate to the wheel. Twenty minutes had not passed 
when a scene was presented that defies description. 
As the gale came on, the tops of the waves were 
cut off and lifted and driven like drifting snow, 
filling the air with spray, so that we could not see 
twice the ship's length. It now seemed that the 
ship, heavily loaded as she was, had as much as 
she could bear, groaning through all her frame, and 
at every plunge it would appear that the next wave 
must bury us. Just as the squall struck us, the 
Captain called to the man at the wheel to **port," 
but so much noise did the wind make, that the 
order was not heard, and, before the course could 
be changed, our lee scuppers were under water. 
We were now in the trough of the sea, our scup- 
pers alternately under water, and everything in 
the cabin was thrown into confusion. In a few 
minutes the wind again blew steadily, and a most 
animated conversation was kept up for some time, 
when all took occasion to express the feelings that 


had been pent up in the excitement of the moment. 

February ist. — The weather has become mild, 
and heavy clothing is generally discarded. The 
wind has been fresh from the southwest, and we 
have been running to the eastward; think the Cap- 
tain is going to make the Azores. Some of the 
passengers are still sea-sick. I went to the Captain 
to ask for some gruel for Angel, who has not been 
able to sit up since we sailed. The old brute said 
**he might come to the table with the rest, or go 
without; this sea-sickness is all nonsense." 

February 2d, — We have sailed two thousand 
miles — are going about nine knots. A meeting of 
the passengers was called, to consider our treatment 
and devise a remedy, James Morgan in the chair. 
A Committee was appointed to draw up a remon- 
strance, and report to-morrow. Committee : J. Ross 
Browne, N. D. Morgan, and Hiram Bingham. 

The next day we met again and adopted a re- 
spectable remonstrance, stating our grievances — 
that we had paid for first class cabin passage, that 
we were to have the same fare as the Captain and 
family, instead of which we were fed on food that 
was coarse, badly cooked, and no better than that 
fed to the crew. When the Committee presented 
it, he stood on the after-deck and refused to receive 
it, abused us all roundly, and told us that if he had 
anymore trouble with us, he would fire the magazine 
and blow us all to h — 1 together. We don't fear the 
threat, and doubt his ability to accomplish the alter- 
native. Some of us have higher expectations. 

February yih. — To-day crossed the Tropic of 


Cancer; have fine weather. Yesterday the Cap- 
tain whipped Charley, Sherwood's negro boy, who 
shipped as assistant steward to work his passage. 
Sherwood remonstrated, for Charley was an old 
family domestic, who was born and reared in his 
fathers house. In the hurry to escape from the 
clutches of the law, the ship had left behind the 
steward and the assistant cook, and poor Charley 
had more duty to perform than he was capable of ; 
hence the flogging. Sooh after, the following 
notice was posted up: "Any person interfering 
with the Captain of this ship will be put in irons 
during the pleasure of the Captain. Signed, Tib- 
bets, ship Pacific!' The resources of the passen- 
gers for amusement seem inexhaustible, and in the 
moonlight evenings we have singing. Dr. Beale 
plays the violin, Mr. Gulick the accordeon, Allen 
the flute, and Stout the key-bugle. Dr. Beale 
sings well, too, and we get into the lower rigging 
and on the quarter-rail and sing, "Roll on Silver 
Moon," and all the songs we know. This running 
down the trades is delightful sailing. We have 
our awnings up, and almost as much sail as there 
is room for in the sky. Mr. Griffin has his wife 
and two children on board — a son and daughter. 
The latter is about three and a half years old, and 
she amuses us very much. She looked down the 
hatch just nQw, and said, "Doctor, what you 
writin'?" I told her I was writing her a love let- 
ter. She put her hands up to her eyes as if abashed, 
and said she would not tell anybody, and then ran 
off to her mother and told her. 


Angel, poor fellow, grows thin, and looks as if 
he would die. He has roused a desire among the 
passengers to leave the ship at Rio, and cross the 
continent, joining the ship at Valparaiso. I am 
very much in favor of it, if the Captain will put 
us ashore at Montevideo. The Captain will do it, 
for he will save more provisions, and be as glad to 
get rid of us as we are to get rid of him. ''But,'' 
says Gager, "what guarantee have we that he will 
stop for us at Valparaiso, after the experience we 
have had of his bad faith .'^*' 

February gth, — We are off the Cape de Verde; 
the air is fresh and balmy; the trade winds are 
bearing us on at the rate of eight miles an hour. 
We are all lounging about in the shade, writing, 
musing or reading. Few objects of interest pre- 
sent themselves. An occasional sail in the hori- 
zon ; the Portuguese man-of-war, with its filmy 
sail, now scudding before the wind, now tacking 
and running close hauled, and, though frequently 
capsized, as soon righting itself and going, no one 
knows where — thousands of miles from land, with- 
out chart or compass, he journeys on, and when 
storms come too roughly, folds his little sail and 
finds good roadstead in the blue regions below. 
Then you see something that looks like a swallow 
skimming along the surface of the waves; his wings 
and body glisten like silver, a little splash in the 
water, and you have seen the flying fish. Birds 
we see only at long intervals, perhaps a solitary 
gull, and it goes as suddenly as it came. The 
evenings are charming, the moon is so bright as 

<i '» 

42 ADVENT OK A " DAILY. Chap. I. 

to be dazzling, and forms what I never saw before, 
the lunar bow, and whenever a thin cloud passes 
over it, a circle is formed with all the colors of the 
spectrum. I have wished you could look in on us 
these moonlight evenings. We are well supplied 
with books, and are, bating thoughts of home, 
which come over us at times like Swiss home-sick- 
ness — a very contented company. 

February loih, — We are in latitude 15° 17' north, 
longitude 29°. We are but one day's run from the 
Cape de Verde Islands, and think we can almost 
smell the air from the Sahara Desert; it is hot 
enough. Yesterday we had a general muster on 
deck, and drilled with rifles. At night it was pro- 
posed to have a dance, as the deck has become 
more cleared, for we have emptied some of the 
water casks and found stowage below for much of 
the deck hamper. The dance was broken up by 
the Captain, who threatened, among other things, 
to drive spikes in the deck. Next a boxing-match 
was gotten up. This pleased the Captain ; it de- 
lighted him to see the passengers pound each other. 
To-day The Daily Pacific Journal made its ap- 
pearance, edited by J. Ross Browne. It gave us 
much amusement, and an opportunity to vent our- 
selves against each other and the ship without stint. 
We .struck into a school of flying fish; there were 
thousands of them. Two of them came on board, 
and Mr. French, the mate, caught them. The 
Captain heard of it, and called out, "Mr. French, 
where are those flying fish?" *Tn my berth, sir." 
*' Fetch them here, sir. What the devil do you 


mean by taking off them fish?" The old tyrant 
took them into his cabin and had them cooked for 
his mess. 

February nth. — We are still driving on with 
the northeast breeze. Last evening, the moon 
being very late and the weather thick and dark, 
Ave had a narrow escape. I was sitting on the 
weather-rail watching the phosphorescence in the 
water. The Captain had just ordered the watch 
to keep a sharp lookout to windward. It was not 
five minutes when the cry was given, **Sail, hoT 
I raised my eyes from the water, and a large ship 
was bearing down on our weather bow, within pis- 
tol shot. A collision seemed inevitable. The 
Captain, who was on deck at the time, called for a 
light and ordered the helm to port. The mate 
threw a burning fire-ball into the air, blinding us 
for a moment, and, when we recovered our sight, 
we saw the ship passing so near us that we could 
have thrown a biscuit on board of her. Another 
moment and she was gone in the thick gloom. 
The whole passed in the space of thirty seconds. 
" D — n such a watch," was all the Captain said, 
after the stranger passed. By this time all hands 
were on deck, and various were the surmises as to 
what could be the character of the strange intruder. 
It was the first vessel that had come within hailing 
distance since we left our pilot off Sandy Hook. 
The Captain thought she must be an East India- 
man bound to Europe. I think I express the sen- 
timents of all who saw the ship, when 1 say that 
we had a narrow escape. It was late before I 


could recover sufficiently from the shock to sleep, 
and to-day it is the chief subject of conversation. 

February i^th. — It is now three weeks since we 
weighed anchor in the Bay of New York. Our 
way is still south — on, on into the very eye of the 
sun. Our old familiar landmarks in the sky are 
changed or gone. Polaris no longer greets the 
eye of the wanderer; true to his trust, he still keeps 
his vigils over those who have been tnie to their 
natal star. Orion stretches his giant form directly 
over head. We are three degrees north of the 
equator, due south from the Cape de Verde. The 
trade winds that have been carrying us steadily on 
for fifteen hundred miles are to-day dying away, 
and we are sweltering under the fierce heat of the 
sun. Games and reading are the only means of 
killing time and trouble. Upon the whole, we are 
decidedly a reading community. 

February i^ih, — The trades have left us, three 
degrees from the equator. Rain has been pouring 
down. The ship is turned into a laundry; all 
hands are washing the salt out of their clothes. 
Mr. Packard came up on deck with a pitcher to 
catch some water that was running from the cabin 
deck, to have a fresh water wash. The Captain 
seized him by the throat, and dashed the pitcher 
upon the deck. He wanted to save the water for 
ship's use, and was filling some empty casks. Pas- 
sengers all very indignant. A rival paper was 
started by J. W. Bingham and Arthur M. Ebbets, 
The Pacific Evening Herald, To stop all grumb- 
ling, the Captain posted up the following: ''Bill of 

Chap. I. A SHARK. 45 

Fare — Monday, beef and pudding; Tuesday, pork 
and beans and apples; Wednesday, ham and rice; 
Thursday, beef and pudding; Friday, pork and 
beans and apples; Saturday, ham and rice; and the 
Captain will not consider himself called upon to do 
anything for the accommodation of any passen- 
ger.'' I asked him why he did not give us pickles 
or some other vegetables.'^ He said he intended 
to keep them until we got the scurvy! Thank 
God, we shall make a port where there is an 
American Consul, and we will have a reckoning 
with old Boreas! 

February i6th. — While several passengers were 
bathing from the bows, this morning, a large shark 
made his appearance among them. He has fol- 
lowed us all day. He refuses to be hooked, and 
an attempt to spear him was equally unsuccessful. 
Night came on, and we expected to see no more 
of the finny fiend. When it became dark, we 
looked over the tafifrail at the phosphorescent glow 
of the ship's wake, and there was our evil genius 
following us, enveloped in the blue light as the Evil 
One is said to appear to the wicked. He seems 
determined to have one of us before he leaves. 

February ijth. — The night has been oppressive; 
thermometer 82° between decks. As I went on 
deck, this morning, I witnessed the capture of the 
shark. He had been struck with a harpoon, and 
Once hooked and liberated himself, yet was as vor- 
acious as ever and seized another hook. He was 
raised alopgside, killed, and then cut loose as a 
thing too foul to touch the decks. 


At noon to-day we were fifty-two miles from the 
line. Thunder, lightning, rain and variable winds 
have been the order of the day. To-night the 
lightning is very vivid, and schools of porpoise 
and other .fish are playing about us, and may be 
seen by the lines of light they leave in the water 
more distinctly than by day. The sea is so phos- 
phorescent that fish lines when drawn up and rub- 
bed with the hand glow like phosphorous itself. 
Large luminous bodies in the water are very num- 
erous, the same as Commander Wilkes saw in 
these regions. Some of these are so bright, in a 
night like this, as to be mistaken for signal lights. 

This day's performances closed with that beau- 
tiful electrical phenomenon, called by the sailors 
"corposants," or jack-o'lantern, a ball of electrical 
light at the top of each mast, and at the end of 
each yard-arm. 

Febntary /<?/>i.-— The wind has been fresh from 
the southwest. We crossed the line about day- 
light; the wind shifted, and at noon we were eight 
miles north latitude, and at night we again stood 
south, so that we have crossed the equator three 
times to-day. There was some talk of a visit from 
Neptune, but the greenhorns are too many for old 
Nep. this time. 

February igtii. — To-day we are again in the 
** doldrums," a very uncomfortable place. The sea 
is of the same temperature as the air, and water 
gives us no relief We are using a cask of water 
that was caught from the cabin roof, which, in 
good weather, is a favorite resort for the tobacco- 

Chap. 1. THE DIAMOM) FISH. 47 

nists of the ship, and I find it difficult to drink it 
raw. To-day we had a visit from a strange mon- 
ster, called a ^'diamond fish;" its general form was 
indicated by its name, with the head shaped like 
that of a beetle, and measuring about five feet in 
length and the same in breadth. It moved slug- 
gishly about the ship, and was attended by the 
pilot fish, with zebra-like stripes, and several other 
fish known as suckers, very white, and which attach 
themselves like parasites to the great fish and get 
their protection from it. The diamond fish was 
harpooned and drawn alongside, but the instru- 
ment pulled out, in the attempt to hoist it out 
of water, and we had the great disappointment 
of seeing them all disappear together. I wit- 
nessed the whole scene from the mizzen-top, 
and a very exciting one it was. Few of the sea- 
men ever saw one of these fish before, and we 
were all very anxious to have a nearer inspection. 
Febf'uary 20th. — A vessel lay becalmed, about 
ten miles from us, and a couple of boats were 
manned with volunteers from among the passen- 
gers to go to her, but, a breeze springing up, we 
returned, after having gone about two miles. We 
are now sixteen miles south of the equator, in 
longitude 2\, Yesterday the sky had a very re- 
markable appearance. A bank of clouds extended 
entirely around us, with the same cloud level or 
base about three degrees above the horizon, and 
reaching up about ten degrees above it, with sum- 
mits of dazzling whiteness; all the rest of the sky 
was without a cloud, and this phenomenon remained 


without material change from morning till night. 
This morning the sun rose with an equally novel 
appearance. The whole eastern sky seemed a 
mass of purple and gold; it would have done an 
artist good to have looked upon it. This evening 
a breeze has sprung up, and we are made glad at 
the prospect of getting away from these dreaded 

February 21st, — My birthday. Enough said. 

February 22d, — Washington's birthday was cele- 
brated by firing at the birds and spearing the fish 
that hover around the bows to prey upon the poor 
flying fish, who seem to stand a poor chance of 
escaping from both. One of these little fish struck 
me as I stood at the ship's waist, this evening, and 
fell dead at my feet — sic semper, 

February 25th, — The weather is very hot, and 
it is almost impossible to sleep. Yesterday, when 
the dinner table was cleared, I slung a hammock 
over it and slept until ten o'clock, when I went on 
deck *'to woo the freshness that night diffuses." 
The Captain and mate were the sole survivors of 
the day, and the latter was nodding at his post on 
the windward rail. The oppressive heat between 
decks had driven many out, and they were lying 
around on the decks with a pillow and the bare 
planks beneath them. I seated myself near the 
mate. Every yard of canvas was spread, and we 
were gliding along at a rapid rate. The only 
sound to be heard was the remitting roar of the 
water as the ship plunged into the long swells of 
the South Atlantic, giving a sound like the roar of 


the surf on the beach. The new stars of the 
Southern Hemisphere are becoming famiHar, and 
shine brightly on our watery track. The Captain 
looked at the sails, at the light clouds, waked the 
mate, and retired. A vigilant man is the master. 
I feel a degree of confidence that I did not think 
possible at sea. I had been dreaming of home, 
and now my thoughts roamed over the world of 
waters toward that sweet place where anxious ones 
w^ere watching daily for news from the wanderer. 
With noiseless steps I paced the deck until my 
eyes grew heavy, and I, too, laid down on the bare 
planks, pillowed by my arms, and slept. 

February 26th, — At noon, to-day, the sun's de- 
clination was four minutes north, so that we were 
four miles too fast to see the sun exactly vertical, 
but it was as nearly so as is often seen by navi- 
gators. A strange land bird appeared on board 
last night of a beautiful brown and white plumage. 
It was killed, and its skin prepared by an orni- 
thologist on board. 

February 2yth, — To-day, for the first time, we 
signalized a ship, bound home. You may imagine 
with what satisfaction we saw the reply from her 
that she read our signal, and would bear home 
news of our near arrival at Rio. 

Friday^ March 2d, — We are in high times. For 
several days our fare has been very poor — salt 
junk and stewed apples for dinner one day, with 
panfuls of moldy sea-biscuit, and simple pork and 
beans, without even the condiment of pickles, for 
the next. This morning, our breakfast was ham. 


mush and molasses, and vinegar; the mush was 
raw and without sah, and we would not accept it. 
The imposition that has been played upon us has 
been borne with much grumbling, but now we are 
roused. We paid $300, each, for our passage; by 
our agreement, we were to have good cabin fare, 
to eat at the same table w^ith the owners — Captain 
Tibbets and Fred. Griffin- -and their families. 
Instead of this, we were herded together like a 
mass of convicts, damned and abused from one 
side of the ship to the other. The general tem- 
per of the passengers is mutinous, and there is 
danger of violence on a slight provocation. Some 
of the older men say that any attempt at redress 
by violent measures will subject us to a charge of 
mutiny, and we do not know our legal rights as 
passengers. We find no precedent in any of our 
books — if we were sailors before the mast, we 
know that we would have no redress — w^e are in 
doubt as to the position we would place ourselves 
in by resorting to force. I have agreed to go w^ith 
Jim Morgan and have a talk with the Captain, and 
see if he can not be brought to more reasonable 
terms. Jim is a loud fellow\ When I first saw 
him on board, his port eye was surrounded with 
an aureola that gave me the impression that his 
parting with some one had been a painful one. He 
is about thirty years of age, of good family in New 
York, of a bold, manly spirit, and of great deter- 
mination of character. He is full of sprightly 
humor, a fine singer, and contributes largely to the 
life of the ship; but he is one of the **boys," has 


seen much of the world, and has accumulated 
much of the bad with the good on the way, and 
when it comes to blowing and swearing, he is a 
match for the Captain. Many of our passengers 
are young and inconsiderate, but, take them all in 
all, it would be difficult to collect a better set of 
fellows. Many of them have left good positions 
to embark in this enterprise. I have a suspicion 
that the Captain is not as bad a man at heart as 
he appears. There is a radical evil in the disci- 
pline on board vessels on the high seas. As a boy 
the seaman is hazed about by everyone on board; 
he is never asked to do anything, but he is damned 
to do it. The master damns the mate, the mate 
damns the second mate, and the second mate damns 
the sailors, who damn each other and the cook. 
Our second mate one day stood before the bin- 
nacle and asked the man at the wheel what course 
he was heading, and because he did not reply im- 
mediately, he was abused outrageously, notwith- 
standing the man was doing his best to reply. Five 
minutes after, the master will treat the second mate 
in the same manner. In short, kindness is a thing 
I have not seen on board our ship, as far as the 
relations between seamen are concerned. Our 
Captain, having passed his life among seamen, is 
incapable of treating passengers any other way; 
though that does not excuse him for starving us, 
with his ship loaded with provisions. A poor sailor 
who has been suffering from dysentry ever since 
we left port, and whom we feared would die, and 
who was still too feeble to stand on deck, was 

52 A SQUALL. Chap. I. 

ordered aloft to reef sail. The Captain said he 
never had sick sailors with him long. I believed 
him. One evening, while talking with Douglass, 
the second mate, I told him the worst fault 1 found 
with him was his tyranny over the poor men. 
** Damn them," said he, ** I had to serve my ap- 
prenticeship at it." If a ship-master ever exhibits 
any gentlemanly spirit, he owes it to something 
else than the education he receives at sea. 

March jd, — We are within two days' sail of Rio. 
The wind is very fresh, and we almost fancy the 
smell of bananas and oranges. Yesterday, just as 
I left off writing, I went on deck in time to wit- 
ness a squall. All sails were set, including eight 
studding-sails, when the Captain came on deck, 
and, not liking the appearance of the clouds, ordered 
in one or two sails; but, before the order could be 
executed, the squall was upon us, and such a scene 
of confusion ! We were in no danger, but the sails 
were. No man knew from the multitude of orders 
what to do; four or five would run to pull in the 
slack of a rope, when but one was required, and 
one or two would struggle to get in a great sail 
that required the force of half a dozen; in the 
meantime, we were going at a fearful rate, careen- 
ing over till we had to hold on to something to 
keep our feet. The Captain forgot to give an 
order to the man at the wheel, and, as we almost 
ran our scuppers under water, he held on his way, 
just as he ought until he was ordered to do other- 
wise, and then the Captain swore at him, and called 
him a damned fool for not knowing enough to put 

Chap. I. BOARD A SLAVER. 53 

her about. Mrs. Griffin said, **Keep cool Cap- 
tain: our trust is in you." 

When we arrive at Rio, we shall see what can 
be done about going from Montevideo to Valpar- 
aiso by land, and, if it is practicable, there will be 
a company made up to undertake it. Our objects 
in going that way are to see the most we can, and 
avoid the demoralization and enervation of a pas- 
sage around the Horn. We have not much money 
to bear the expenses of the trip, but. if we have 
to make the journey on foot and subsist on what 
we chance to find on the way, even dogs and roots, 
it would be preferable to the fare on shipboard; 
and, then, we shall have some adventures to tell of. 
Only think of a journey across the pampas to 
Buenos Ayres, San Luis. Mendoza, Santiago, 
through the famous pass of the Andes! 

Monday, March ^tli, — Yesterday we hoped to 
see land, but the wind fell off. The air had a feel- 
ing of land, dew fell freely, the wind settled to a 
perfect calm. The boats were manned, and about 
twenty passengers went over to a brig that lay 
about five miles distant. She proved to be a Por- 
tuguese, the Pedro G^^ajtde, bound from Oporto to 
Rio. They thought us a man-of-war from the num- 
ber of men on deck, and were relieved to know 
that we were a California-bound ship. Our men 
were handsomely entertained by the officers. The 
brig had an armament of eight guns, and was built 
for a fast sailer. She remained in sight during the 
day. We are in belief that the brig is a slaver; 
she has a crew of forty men. To-day she is not 

54 LAND, HO ! Chap. I. 

to be seen, but land is reported from the head. I 
went aloft and climbed to the main-royal yard; but 
could not see land; I had hardly got on the stay 
to descend, when the yard came down by the run, 
a rope having broken. Several dolphins were 
caught, and we had the opportunity to see the won- 
derful changes of color they display in dying. 

* March 6th. — Land, ho! Who that has not had 
our experience can realize the delight of us all at 
seeing land once more.'* We do little but watch 
its varying outlines, too distant to distinguish any- 
thing else. The bark Architect^ from New Or- 
leans, full of California-bound passengers, ran down 
to us and rounded-to alongside beautifully. We 
were eager to give them three cheers, but waited 
for the formalities. Captain Gray hailed us, '*Ship, 
ahoy!" Our Captain stood on the quarter-deck 
with his trumpet in hand, but made no reply. A 
second hail from the Architect, when Captain Tib- 
bets raised his trumpet and said, "Can't you keep 
off?" 'T can keep off or not, as I please," was 
the answer; and soon after, "Who commands the 
Pacific f One of the passengers, who was up in 
the rigging out of the reach of the Captain, re- 
plied, "Captain Tibbets." "Who is that dares to 
speak aboard this ship.**" stormed the Captain. 
F'isk did not come down, and Tibbets did not go 
up, and nobody answered. Again wc heard from 
the Architect, "O, very well; I'll watch Captain 
Tibbets," and the Architect put herself in the 
same trim as the Pacific, and before night was out 
of sight ahead. We hope that Gray will give 
Tibbets a good thrashing on shore. 

Chap. I. AN ENCOUNTER. 55 

March yt/i, — All up before day. Before us is 
the great Saddle Mountain; its twin summits have 
a cloud resting upon them, and near by is a rock 
rising from the sea, called the ** Sugar Loaf." It 
is just perceptible to us from our position, and is 
seven miles from Rio. We have heard guns all 
day. To-night our head is put about, and we are 
again standing out to sea; we are too late to run 
in to-day. My mouth waters for the bananas, 
cocoanuts, oranges, and other luxuries of the new 

March 8th, — Early this morning found ourselves 
close in and running up the lower bay. Met a 
Prussian gun-brig, beating out. We were before 
the wind, and should have given way to the brig. 
The vessels were approaching — the brig hailed us 
twice. Our Captain made no reply, but held on 
his course, and down came the brig upon us — both 
vessels rolling in the heavy swells that were com- 
ing in from sea; a collision was imminent. The 
flying jib-boom of the Prussian made a complete 
circuit of our starboard quarter, and caught our 
flag hanging at the spanker gaff. Mr. Packard 
made an attempt to save it, but it was beyond his 
reach, and, leaning over, he caught from the jolly- 
boat under our stern a white utensil indispensable 
to a chamber set, and which was placed there with 
others for safety, and swinging it with the vigor of 
his powerful arm, he sent it careering through the 
air like a bombshell; striking the foresail, it fell in 
a thousand pieces upon the deck of the man-of- 
war. In an instant up went our lost ensign, under 

56 ARRIVAL AT RIO. Chap. I. 

the Prussian flag, with three cheers from the enemy. 
Forgetting that we were in the wrong, we longed 
for a gun to answer the insult, and asked the Cap- 
tain to lay us alongside and we would recover the 
flag; but the Captain had his back to the foe, and 
the cabin between it and danger, when, bang! came 
a gun from the brig, and our flag came back a 
blackened wad! As this battle will not, in all 
probability, be recorded in the history, of the bril- 
liant naval engagements of our countrymen, I 
have detailed it here. We propose to have a vase 
of peculiar shape engraved upon the arms of Mr. 
Packard, and dub him, **Squire Muggins." We 
are mad, we are ashamed, we are disgusted! 

As we approached the Narrows and came under 
the guns of the heavy fort that commands the en- 
trance, we were hailed, and the Captain, no doybt 
fearing a shot, let go his anchor before he knew 
what the purport of the question was, and so lost 
the tide, and we must lie here until to-morrow. 
The whale-ship Superior is lying near us, and a 
boat came off^ for a doctor, as the Captain was very 
sick. The wind was fresh, the bay was rough, 
rain was falling, and, as all the other four physicians 
on board refused to go, I climbed down by a rope 
and dropped into the boat. I found the master 
sick from an attack of cholera morbus, and, rum- 
maging his scanty medicine chest, found nothing 
that I wanted. I returned to the Pacific for the 
needed medicine, but, before I could get it. the 
boat was ordered away by the sentinel at the fort. 

Ma7'ch gill, — Here we are in the wildest excite- 


ment. California ships — a dozen — are anchored, 
or dropping their anchors, around us. Cheer 
answers cheer from every side; we are frantic with 
deHght. All doubts about our being allowed to 
land were removed. The Captain of the Port 
came alongside in a barge, and asked the usual 
questions; but old Tibbets wanted to know why 
in h — 1 he had to be kept four or five days in get- 
ting up to his anchorage. **What is the name of 
the ship?** said the urbane officer, in the gentlest* 
manner. *'Ship Pacific, ^xx^ ** You are not so 
pacific as she is," was the quiet reply. We are off. 

March i^t/i, — The steamer Panama, that put 
back to New York from damage to her machinery, 
came into port on the 1 7th, and brought news from 
the United States. The ship Capitol, which arrived 
the same day with us, sailed out soon after. 

For several days my time has been spent for the 
most part in trying to have our grievances against 
Captain Tibbets redressed. We found Lieutenant 
Bartlett in command of the Ewiitg here, and he 
has taken an active interest in our cause. We filed 
a complaint with our Consul, Mr. Gorham Parks, 
and our Minister, Mr. Todd. The Captain, find- 
ing he was in great danger of being removed from 
the command of his ship, became very humble and 
sorr)\ A compromise was proposed, and he agreed 
to sign such an agreement as would be satisfactory. 
The articles were drawn up, and he was to have 
signed them the next morning. The ship had 
been unable to get her supply of water, and the 
Captain thought we were the cause of it. That 


evening, about eight o'clock, a boat came on shore, 
and word was brought to us that the Captain had 
cleared his ship and intended to sail in the piorn- 
ing, and go to Valparaiso for water. Here was a 
fix. We were at the Hotel Rivot. We immedi- 
ately took a coach, and, accompanied by Lieut. 
Bartlett, set out to find the Consul, who lived out 
of town, at Botafogo Bay, and learn from him the 
state of the case. We found his house about mid- 
night, and roused him. He put a bottle of wine 
before us, and then told us, that, under the repre- 
sentations of the Captain, he had cleared the ship. 
Still, he thought something could be- done. He 
was a Democrat of the Jackson school, he said, 
and would not hesitate to take the responsibility. 
He then wrote an order to one of the Emperors 
Chamberlains, who bore a long list of titles, to 
"stop the ship, if he had to blow her out of water." 
We next rode to the residence of that nobleman. 
The porter told us, after knocking a long time, that 
he was not at home, but Lieut. Bartlett, who spoke 
the Portuguese well, told him that he knew he was, 
and that we must see him. Another long delay, 
and we were ushered into the presence of a tall 
man in a wrapper, and to him we gave the letter 
from Mr. Parks. He looked at it long, and then 
wrote for, what seemed to us, half an hour, folded 
the paper, and directed it to the commander of the 
upper fort, where we were to deliver it. We then 
drove back to the landing, took a boat and reached 
the fort, from which place the order was dispatched 
to the lower fort. Having accomplished this, we 


returned to our hotel and went to bed at four 
o'clock, well satisfied that if the ship Pacific at- 
tempted to go to sea as threatened, it would be as 
well for us that we were not on board. The next 
morning the Captain came on shore, and we met 
him at the Consul's office. We were all there 
when he entered. "Doctor," said he, **I thought 
this difficulty was all settled." I replied that it 
was in a fair way to be settled yesterday, but re- 
cent events had altered the aspect of things — that 
he had been acting in bad faith, and that he in- 
tended to put to sea and leave us, without comply- 
ing with his agreement. He denied it, but wit- 
nesses were sworn and examined, and the treachery 
was proved. The Committee then retired to de- 
liberate, and it was resolved to abandon the com- 
promise, and make the attempt to remove him 
from the command of the ship. The ship is under 
arrest, and the trial comes off next Monday. My 
fatigue and excitement have brought on an attack 
of sickness, and I came on board, resigning my 
position on the Committee, and J. Ross Browne 
has taken my place. I feel that we are but chil- 
dren in the world's ways. We are not without 
sympathy; we are toasted everywhere on shore; 
and, just now, while I have been writing this, the 
brig Cordelia passed us, on her way to sea, and 
cheered us, but said they could not cheer our Cap- 
tain. He is pretty roughly treated when he goes 
on shore; this he rarely does without escort. 

This is a delightfully curious place. The largest 
liberty is allowed to Americans on their way to 


California, by special edict of the Emperor. When 
we landed there were upward of fifteen hundred of 
us in port, and every place was full even to the 
billiard tables, and in the room where I lodged 
there were six beds on the floor. The currency 
here is droll enough. The first meal I took was 
at the Hotel Pharoux, and, when I had finished, a 
bill was presented to me like this: '^Coffee, 250 
reis; roll, 160; omelet, 500; total, 910 reis^ I 
looked at my bill with horror, and felt that I was 
ruined, and must go back to the ship bankrupt. I 
told the garfon that I had not so much money, and, 
pulling out all I had, held it out, willing to com- 
promise on any terms. He took out two half dol- 
lars and returned me fully two pounds of copper 
coin, each as large as two of our cents. These 
they call "dumps;'* and I went about with the 
dumps the rest of the day. There is no gold nor 
silver in circulation. 

There is no animation in Brazil — no social sound, 
no voice of mirth. You may hear, now and then, 
the broken notes of a guitar or piano, as you wan- 
der through the streets, or the rumble of a cart — 
the plaintive song of the slaves, as they go in 
gangs trotting to their own strange music, with 
bags of coffee or barrels of flour on their heads. 
These are nearly all the sounds that greet the ear, 
except when the great officers of state move about, 
or when religious processions take place, and these 
are very frequent. I asked myself, ''why is this; 
why is it that, in a country where Nature has com- 
bined her rarest qualities, and varying but endless 


Spring is so blended with Autumn as hardly to be 
distinguished, and Summer and Winter are but the 
pledge and fruition of the year — while health sits 
on ever>^ hill and spreads its blessings over all the 
land — that such gloom has settled its black mantle 
over the social life of the people?" It is because 
woman is a slave! She is illiterate and suspected. 
Women are not allowed to frequent the streets, 
day or night. Brazilians never laugh heartily, 
never hurrah, and very rarely get drunk ; but they 
seem amused by our enthusiasm, and wherever we 
go we are well treated, except by the Portuguese. 
Gardens and groves, public and private, are alike 
open to us. We are invited to enter the houses, 
and are treated handsomely, but do not see any 
females, except they are blacks. O, New England, 
land of my forefathers and mothers, God bless her ! 

The trial to-morrow will occupy me through the 
day. I shall continue this some time before we 
sail, and, if the trial terminates favorably to us, I 
shall have time to write much; but, if we fail to 
depose the Captain, he will put to sea as soon as 
possible. The only doubt about it is the power of 
the Consul; he wants to do it, but the Captain is 
half owner, and the other owner is with him. The 
laws seem to have been made for the protection of 
property only, and the Consul finds no precedent, 
and if he deposes the Captain, the necessities of 
the passengers and the protection of their lives 
must be his justification. 

March 21st, — I see that I wrote the last few 
lines very crookedly in the dark, but I hope I told 


a Straight story. We had our examination on 
Monday, and the Captain will make his defense 
to-day. In the meantime, we are making excur- 
sions in all directions around this charming region. 
All that the most fertile fancy can picture in land 
and water are surpassed by Nature here. 

March 2^t/i, — The long agony is over. Out- 
raged humanity has triumphed; Tibbets has been 
removed. It is decided that w^e shall not go to 
sea with him. The excitement during the day has 
been intense. A pow^erful diversion was made by 
some of his particular friends to effect another 
compromise. He promised to be a gentleman and 
treat us as gentlemen, and, w^hen promises failed, 
he threatened to dismantle the ship and let her rot 
at her anchor, and, by various means, he won over 
about forty of the passengers to sign a remon- 
strance against his removal, right in the moment 
of victory. The Consul, seeing these names on 
both petition and remonstrance, said he must treat 
them as canceling each other, and consider the fifty 
others as the only ones entitled to respect. The 
trial has been to the Committee one of life and 
death. The Consul told us this afternoon that he 
w-ould not go out with Captain Tibbets, after the 
part we had taken, for all the w^ealth in the ship. 
We are glad we are not imder the necessity. Yet 
the Consul \\n\\ be held to answer to his Govern- 
ment; this he expects, and we hope he will be 
sustained by his countrymen at home. Mr. Todd, 
our Minister, is a noble souled man. We are 
proud of him. And in this act they are both sus- 


tained by the unanimous voice of all people here 
whose opinion is worth anything. 

March 2jth, — To-day the Consul came on board 
with our new Captain in a man-of-war s boat. His 
name is Easterbrook. He is an experienced ship- 
master, and has been nine times around the Horn. 
The Corning sails for New York to-morrow, and 
Captain Tibbets will return in her. As he went 
over the ship s side, he is said to have shed tears. 
No one saluted him, and our men — who are always 
ready to give three cheers to ever}- thing American, 
if it was but a white pine log floating on the tide — 
parted with him in silence. 

64 RIO 1)E JANEIRO. Chap. II. 


Rio de Janeiro — Slavery — Festival clay — Military review — The 
Kmpress' birthday — The Emperor at mass — Rambles about 
the countrv — Prava Grande — The Botanic Gardens — Ascent 
of Corcovado — The aqueduct — Phoresis — The summit — On 
forbidden ground — Lose our way — Lake Tagandes. 

Rio Janeiro is near the southern Hmit of the 
torrid zone, but owing to the mountainous charac- 
ter of the country, we do not suffer from extreme 
heat. The mornings are sultry, but the sea-breeze 
sets in about eleven o'clock, when it becomes cool 
and comfortable. There has been no sickness 
amopg us other than is common to. the Summer 
season at home. The harbor, with the scenery 
around it, is celebrated all over the world. I 
don't know what could add to its beauty. I have 
roamed over its mountains, and paddled along its 
shores and among its islands day after day ; but 
the novelty of the scenery is varied with each 
day's adventures. 

You will make necessary allowance for that en- 
thusiasm which springs from the novelty, to us, of 
tropical scenery. 

There are many things worthy of note in Rio. 
Slavery is the conspicuous feature in its social or- 
ganization. The population is a mixture of the 
white and black races in every perceptible gradu- 


atlon. There is no distinction made jn this re- 
spect : all are treated with equal consideration, if 
they are free. Black and white soldiers are min- 
gled, and often commanded by a black officer; free 
blacks themselves become slaveholders. The Em- 
peror has around him chiefly Portuguese, though 
his family physician is a mulatto. The population 
under the present order of things must ultimately 
become mulatto. From the numerous tattooed faces 
to be seen in the streets, the recent importation of 
slaves from Africa must be great. On landing, 
they are the first objects that attract your attention, 
laboring nearly naked in the hot sun. These slaves 
seem, at first view, to comprise nine-tenths of 
the population. Farther into the town you see 
them bearing burthens of every description on 
their heads. Whether it is a sack of coffee or a cup 
of milk, it is carried on the head. The town is sup- 
plied with water from the mountains by an aque- 
duct. The water is distributed to several foun- 
tains, and from these fountains it is carried about 
the city, in kegs holding about ten gallons, on the 
heads of negroes. It is astonishing with what 
accuracy they balance these vessels of water with- 
out the least apparent care. When the kegs are 
empty, they are turned upon their sides, and car- 
ried in that way in the same manner. No filth is 
thrown into the streets or retained in sinks, but is 
carried in the same way to the shore and thrown 
into the water, where it is carried away by the tide. 
Carts are used to some extent, sometimes drawn 
by slaves and sometimes by mules. 


The Emperor s palace is a fine building, facing 
the Plaza, but is much inferior to the palaces of 
some of our merchant princes. Last Sunday was 
a gala day, and they are so common here that 
even the natives do not keep the run of them. 
The troops were under arms, and the imperial 
pair rode through the town in their coach of state, 
preceded by nobles and ladies of honor and fol- 
lowed by a regiment of cavalry, and all going at 
full speed. I followed the crowd to the palace, 
and here a general review of troops took place. 
The firing of cannon and musketr)^ the ringing 
of bells, and the glittering array of the Diplomatic 
Corps in their court dresses, even to our own Mr. 
Todd, made me forget that the day was Sunday. 
At the conclusion three cheers were given by the 
military to the Emperor, Empress and the Empire, 
but such a feeble cry I never heard before from 
such a crowd ; the boys from the Pacific could 
drown them out by sea or land. 

I was on shore on the Empress' birthday, and 
attended mass with the Imperial family. The pal- 
ace occupies both sides of the Ruo Dereiter and 
is connected by a corridor, and the chapel is con- 
nected with it, so that the populace may be shut 
out entirely from all participation in the privileged 
exercises. We saw the procession moving through 
the palace towards the church, and hastened to 
secure a place. The interior is most gorgeously 
decorated. First came the priests, bearing wax 
candles ; then a line of men in superb uniform — 
among them I recognized the heads of the several 


Departments of State; the Minister of War was 
dressed especially fine ; his coat was loaded with 
embroidery. These all opened their ranks, and 
then came down past them the Archbishop, with 
his yellow mitre and crozier, the skirt of his robe 
held by several priests. Next came the Emperor, 
a manly-looking youngster ; I have seen better 
looking ; his appearance seemed to be his greatest 
concern, and, as he came into view, he stopped to 
look around him, and give all us Democrats an 
opportunity to know how majesty looked ; then he 
advanced toward the altar, through the ranks of 
his body-guard in green uniforms, and mounted a 
sort of pedestal with a canopy over it, while all 
the nobles knelt on the open floor, and, amidst the 
thunder of cannon and the gleaming of spears, 
the Emperor bowed himself in humble prayer! 
It was the most magnificent worship I ever saw. 
He retired from the chapel in the same formal way. 
It is said that his sword scabbord is of pure gold 
and studded with diamonds. A man who rules by 
divine right sticks pretty close to the church that 
interprets the divine will. I saw Dom Pedro, the 
Emperor, marching along the street, on foot, in a 
procession of priests, holding a wax candle, and 
following an effigy in wax of the Saviour bearing 
his cross. 

The Brazilians are remarkably kind to us wher- 
ever we go. Soon after our arrival, we crossed 
over the bay to the beautiful little villages of St. 
Domingo and Praya Grande. For several miles 
beyond the country presented a continued succes- 

68 RAxMBLES. Chap. II. 

sion of orange groves intermingled with bananas, 
citrons and limes. At no place were we denied 
admission, and we rambled on through gardens 
and groves, helping ourselves to anything we 
wished, but we had to regret our inability to talk 
the language of the country. Very few of the 
beautiful flowers and fruits were known to us, and 
it was of no use to enquire. When interrupted in 
our course by hedges, we would pass through the 
houses. We came at length to the base of a 
mountain, and here the negroes made signs to inti- 
mate that we should not proceed. We saw the 
tall forests stretching away up the mountain side, 
and at its foot showy flowers, among which the 
most conspicuous was a large purple one, which 
looked at a distance like a Rhododendron. We 
followed along a narrow path, near the foot of the 
hill, to a cottage, where a Portuguese told us in 
French that we must not go farther, and we then 
retraced our steps. 

Our first object after landing was to find a place 
to sleep. The Hotel Pharoux was crowded to 
overflowing. At the Hotel de TUnivus we ob- 
tained a room for six dollars per day, but, on 
account of some ungracious treatment, we took 
quarters at the Hotel Revot, on Ruo do Ouvidor. 
The hotels are conducted much on the French 
style, but the mode of swindling practiced in them 
is purely Brazilian. 

There are two places which we were all anxious 
to visit — Mount Corcovado and the Botanic Gar- 
dens. One morning we procured a coach and four 


mules, with a driver and a muleteer, who is a man 
with immense boots and patent leather bell-crowned 
hat ; for this turnout we were to pay eight dollars, 
and off we started for the garden. Our route lay 
along the outer edge of the town to Botafogo. 
which is the shore of a bayo, lined with charming 
villas and gardens, and terraced for a carriage 
road. Near the Sugar Loaf Mountain the road 
turns inland, and on either side, for three miles, is 
one continuous succession of beautiful cottages and 
gardens. On the right, we passed the perpendicu- 
lar face of Corcovado, and on the left is Lake 
Tagandes. We drove on beyond the garden to 
an inn, where we ordered dinner, and then entered 
the garden. This garden was founded before the 
independence of Brazil, and contains some large 
trees, among which are the bread fruit, the jack 
fruit, which nearly resembles it, and palms in great 
variety. There is one kind planted in regular 
rows on each side of the main avenue, with beau- 
tiful green trunks, swelling at the base in the form 
of a cask, with circular bands like hoops. Nearly 
all the productions of the torrid zone are collected 
and cultivated here ; coffee, which grows profusely 
everywhere, tea, cloves, cinnamon, pepper, etc. ; 
cascades, fountains and green-houses ; hill, valley 
and stream ; all are combined to increase the 
beauty of this celebrated garden. 

But to me the ascent of Corcovado on the suc- 
ceeding day was far more interesting. The road 
to it lies along the aqueduct for several miles, 
winding among the hills, with a gradual ascent. 


and affording a series of views at every turn, sur- 
passing all that I had ever dreamed of in my most 
visionary moments. The aqueduct is a work of 
no small interest. It was begun some two hun- 
dred years ago, and is built of stone and cement, 
on the old Roman plan. Every two rods there is 
an iron gate and steps leading down to the water, 
with a cup, by means of which we were able at 
any time to get a drink. As it winds around the 
mountain, it gathers all the rivulets by means of 
earthen troughs laid in cement. After reaching an 
elevation of about eight hundred feet, we were 
obliged to leave the aqueduct and scramble up the 
steep sides of the mountain. The trail led through 
a wild forest obstructed by vines of great size, 
which twined themselves about the trees and each 
other like vast serpents, and send out branches in 
every direction. Orchids and other parasitic plants 
of great size and beauty hang from the trees. One, 
an orchid, with a long spike of pink flowers, I de- 
tached, but, like all the finest plants of the tropics, 
it is difficult to preserve. Birds were rare, but 
reptiles and beautiful butterflies were met with at 
every step, and a small black monkey grinned at 
us and was off without further explanation. The 
last five hundred feet was most toilsome, and the 
ascent could be effected only by way of a narrow 
ridge. The summit, when seen from below, seems 
too pointed to admit of standing room; it was cov- 
ered with a soft moss, and there was room for us 
all to stretch ourselves out on it. There was an 
old rickety fence around it ; it looked so treacher- 


ous that we tumbled it down the opposite face of 
the cliff and listened in vain to hear it fall. The 
view overlooking the bay and its numerous islands 
and vessels at anchor, the town and surrounding 
country in one direction, and the ocean on the 
other, was almost like looking down from a balloon. 
It was a sight that well repaid our day's toil, but 
Jim Morgan threw himself down on the moss 
without looking around him, and said, "It may be 
very fine, but if all the beautiful views on the earth 

were centered around this d d rock, I would 

not come up here again.'* The summit is now, as 
I write, visible above the clouds, like an index on 
the sky. 

March 2gth. — Started from the ship, eleven of us, 
in an iron life-boat, and rowed out past the Sugar 
Loaf, to find some new field to explore, as every 
spot in the inner bay had been ransacked that was 
accessible from boats. A smooth beach, extending 
from one mountain of solid granite to another, in- 
vited us to land. A little way back from the shore 
was a white wall running parallel to it, and back 
of this the dense forest that covers all the unculti- 
vated land that we have seen. As we came to the 
beach, we found the combers unexpectedly heavy, 
but we effected a landing by jumping overboard 
the moment the boat struck the beach, and hauling 
her up beyond the reach of the water, with no 
other accident than the breaking of the rudder, 
from the neglect of the steerer to unship it. 

We were engaged in picking up shells, when a 
soldier came down and spoke to us in a language 


we did not understand. We continued to stroll 
along, when another soldier reinforced him, who 
spoke English as his native tongue, and he in- 
formed us that no persons were allowed there; and 
that we must leave without delay. This was one 
of the possible approaches to the town of Rio, 
and was fortified. We were the more reluctant to 
go on account of the heavy surf ; but go we must. 
We watched our opportunity, and just as a heavy 
breaker washed up the beach, we ran the boat 
down until she floated, when all jumped in and 
seized their oars ; but, before we could get well 
under way. a comber came aboard and half filled 
us with water. We pulled away, however, and 
got out before another one caught us. We found 
much sand and some small fish in the boat, when 
we had bailed out the water. We then shaped 
our course around the Sugar Loaf, and landed on 
the shore of Botafogo Bay. Here there was no 
surf. We left our boat in charge of some negroes^ 
and started off on foot, along a road lined with 
orange trees in full fruit, with cottages and gar- 
dens at intervals, now and then a grassy lawn, and 
cattle feeding ; ruined walls and rocks overgrown 
with cactiy and trees with vines twining about them. 
We had thought that the novelty of the scener)^ 
about Rio was exhausted, but this charmed us. 
Much of our own scenery is beautiful in the fresh- 
ness of June, and I think of it now with emotions 
too deep for utterance. Its plain, utilitarian fea- 
tures correspond with the practical character of 
our people, and much of its interest to us, also, 


lies in its associations ; but for gardens and dis- 
play, for prodigal profusion of productions, and 
picturesque variety of surface, nothing, it seems to 
me, can surpass the scenery about Rio. 

The road led toward the sea by a gentle ascent, 
until it reached a pass, or a narrow defile between 
two granite mountains. At the summit was a 
massive stone arch, which seemed to have been 
built ages ago, and wlas pierced for cannon on the 
side toward the sea, and contained bomb-proof 
apartments for working the guns under cover. It 
was overgrown with trees, and dismantled cannon 
of large size lay scattered around. Here we 
spread out our luncheon, and, looking back, we 
could see the fleet of ships in the bay, and before 
us lay the ocean, with its long line of surf, dashing 
with a roar like thunder. On both sides of us, the 
mountains of solid granite rose to the clouds, 
naked as they were first made, except where tall 
spires of cadi clung to their rough surfaces, and 
large lizards ran or basked in the sun. A little 
way from the arch was perched a tiled cottage, its 
whitewashed mud walls peering through the light 
green of the bananas and the deeper green of the 
orange trees. As we passed, the family were 
gathered on the porch in a compact group of ten 
or eleven. We could distinguish the head of this 
copper-colored family only by a small, sharply de- 
fined mustache. They were looking at us in mute 
and motionless curiosity. 

The surf at the beach is the heaviest I ever 
saw. Storms we have not seen here, but the 

74 LOSE OUR WAY. Chap. H, 

southeast trades blowing so constantly drive a 
heavy swell from the southern Atlantic upon this 
shore. Do you remember the surf at Coney 
Island, how we let the combers break over us, how 
they carried you from your feet — do you remem- 
ber ? Here one might as well be under the foam 
of Niagara as under the combers; but the bath- 
ing was fine inside of these. After the bath, we 
wandered about the woods, and by the springs 
from the mountains, until we were lost. We 
reached a lake called Tagandes, and here the com- 
pany divided, for we could not agree as to the 
route back. Part of us crossed the lake in a 
canoe, and the others undertook to find the way 
back by the same route we had come. We wan- 
dered about until sundown before we reached the 

This long letter, the last from this place, must 
go ashore to-night, as we sail in the morning. 

Chap. III. SET SAIL. 75 


Set sail — The Sarah McFarJand — Gay tried by court-martial — 
Fined — Justice satisfied — Festus — Our new Captain — He 
finds stores — Fishing — Marvin catches a " dolphin " — Our 
*• state-rooms " — Off the Plata — A gale — Cape pigeons — Kelp 
— Another gale — Off the Horn — Run before the wind — Mr. 
Gager meets with an accident — Albatross — Sufferings — Es- 
cape from the Horn — Speak the John Petit — Discover more 
stores — Run away with by a black fish — Juan Fernandes — A 
party goes for it — Their supposed loss and return — Their 
story — Description of the island. 

At Sea, April 5th, — We were ready for sea on 
the first of April, but when the Captain went to 
the fort for the password, he was informed that 
our papers must be renewed. This caused a de- 
tention of two more days, but on the morning of 
the third we were early greeted with the sailors' 
farewell song, as they heaved at the windlass. 
We were soon floating away from scenes that will 
be ever memorable to all on board. There has 
been but little sickness among us, and it is remark- 
able, considering how much we had exposed our- 
selves ; but the climate was so uniformly sultry 
that our energies were nearly gone. We had 
eaten oranges and bananas until they had lost 
their relish — the scenery, so magnificent, had 
grown tiresome, and we were not sorry to leave 
this interesting place. 


As we passed the fort, we were saluted with a 
blast from the long trumpet that we had heard so 
often, but never but once so near. The Captain 
raised his short tube, and replied, "You are a liar." 
Now we shall catch it, thought I. But no ; that 
was the password. 

The land breeze in the morning was light, and 
a small steam-tug towed us down the bay. Before 
nightfall we saw the granite mountains fade away. 
The brig Sarah McFarland sailed in company 
with us. To-day the wind is light, and all are 
merry. Mr. Gay was telling how he cheated the 
landlord of the Hotel de L'Univers out of a night s 
lodging, when it turned out that the room in which 
he had lodged had been chartered by a party of 
our passengers, and it was the party he' had cheat- 
ed and not the landlord. A court was forthwith 
convened to try him for the fraud. Gay refused 
to acknowledge the authority of the court, and 
declined to put in an appearance. He was fined 
** Claret punch for the company." This would 
make a heavy drain upon Mr. Gay's stores, and 
he would not respond. An attachment was issued, 
and the wine for a pailful of punch was seized. 
Some of us thought it was rather hard on Gay, 
and a physician on board obtained a dose of tartar 
emetic for forty men, and a friend of Gay's, watch- 
ing his opportunity, slipped it into the punch while 
being prepared. Mr. Gay was never more gay 
than when, with his friends who did not drink 
punch, he was looking down through the after- 
hatch upon the assembled court administering jus- 


tice. The punch was good, evidently, for it was 
drank to the last drop. The marshal, Phil. Wal- 
dron, proclaimed the demands of justice satisfied, 
and the court adjourned, delighted with them- 
selves and with their mode of administering jus- 

Dame Justice, with, instead of the scales, a bot- 
tle of wine in her sinister hand, was winking sig- 
nificantly at several other gentlemen who had 
carelessly laid in stores of red wine for the long 
voyage before them. Twenty minutes passed. 
The hilarity that was so loud gave way to a pen- 
siveness. The loudest became the most thought- 
ful. Waldron came to the windward quarter-rail 
and cast his eyes into the deep blue sea in thoughtful 
mood, as if some painful memory haunted him ; 
before he left, he cast something else into the sea. 
Soon my room-mate, Sherwood, joined him, re- 


marking. ** That wine don't agree with me." 
** Something don't agree with me," replied Wal- 
dron. PLbbets walked briskly up to the rail as if 
he meant business. " Are you sick, too .'*" said 
they both in a breath. An awful suspicion crept 
over them. They looked at Gay ; Gay looked as 
serene as the moon among the trade-wind clouds. 
** Have you been putting ipecac in that punch ?" 
said one of them, fiercely. '* Gentlemen," said 
Gay, ** it is not my wine that disagrees with you, 
but it is justice that don't set well on your stom- 
achs. You are not accustomed to it ; you will do 
better by longer practice." The number soon in- 
creased alarmingly. A victim must be found. Gay 

78 *'FESTUS." Chap. III. 

was too calm, and it was known that he had not 
left the quarter-deck. A physician must have been 
the man ; no other could have so nicely appor- 
tioned the nauseating potion. Dr. Beale was 
charged with it. He looked alarmed, and denied 
all knowledge of it. The doctor who provided 
the drug tried to make them believe he did it, and 
for that reason they would not believe him, and it 
was in vain that Dr. Beale pleaded his innocence. 

April jth. — The* Sarah McFarland is still in 
company with us. A boat from her boarded us 

I have just finished reading ** Festus." I have 
read it with wonder and tears. It is a magnificent 
production, abounding in startling gleams that blind 
us for a moment and leave the soul reverberating 
with thunder. " Most noble Festus !'* How often 
is the lofty, aspiring spirit of youth led away from 
its early love by the syren song of the spirit of the 
world, until his heart loses capabilities for happi- 
ness and becomes hard and hollow. Fortunate is 
he who in his wanderings with the spirit does not 
lose sight of his great god — truth. " To the pure 
all things are pure ;" to the intelligent and virtuous 
the world is beautiful and good. Some men re- 
mind me of owls, who, blind in the effulgence of 
day, are with the air of profound wisdom talking 
of darkness and sin, and boding horrors in our 
dreams. Forgetful of the rose, they forever com- 
plain of the thorn. O, for larger views, more com- 
prehensive acquaintance with nature, with truth. 
The greatest foes to man are bigotry and intoler- 


ance. These have made the world wretched, and 
set the son against the father, and brother against 
brother. I thank God that here, at least, on the 
bounding sea, I am free, surrounded on every side 
by the incomprehensible, vast unknown. What 
lies beyond is all mystery : 

'* Once more on the sea, 
The type which God hath given, 
For e\^s and hearts loo earthlv, of his Heaven." 

We like our new Captain. He takes an inter- 
est in our welfare. He has broken into the hold 
and turned out good stores which Captain Tib- 
bets was keeping to sell in San Francisco, and we 
find butter, cheese, flour and pickles in abundance. 

Marvin, of Brooklyn, is an inveterate fisherman. 
When we were in Rio, he bought a stout cotton 
line, colored Indian red. It is big enough for sig- 
nal halyards, and when let out, which it is most of 
the time, it reaches as far as our ship's wake. He 
is not very successful, but very patient ; and so he 
passes the long intervals between meals seated 
upon the after-rail watching his line. As we near 
the coast he is more vigilant. 

The cry was raised this morning that some one 
forward had caught a fish; and, sure enough, there 
lay, thrashing the deck, a fine bonito. There was 
a rush forward — even Marvin left his line to see 
the prize of his more fortunate competitor on the 
flying jib-boom. The afterpart of the ship was 
almost deserted. Dill took Marvin's post at the 
line, and a few minutes afterward he called out to 
Marvin that there was something on his line. 


There was now a rush by all hands to the quarter- 
deck, and Marvin, with his face flushed with ex- 
citement, made all haste to pull in his line. *' IVe 
got him! I've got a dolphin!" he shouted. It 
came -heavily, with the unsteady rate characteristic 
of a catch ; but Marvin pulled away, hand over 
hand, fathom after fathom, tangling it around his 
legs and the tiller ropes until it was reduced to an 
inextricable snarl. Away back in the foaming track 
of the ship still struggled the resisting prize, now 
sheering to the right, now to the left, but ever>^ 
instant nearing the ship, till those in the rigging 
cried out that they saw it — *' it was a dolphin." 
Marvin grew more excited ; he was the hero of the 
moment. Soon we all saw it, as the occasional 
gleam of something green flashed in the deep blue 
of the sea. At length the line was hove short. 
Marvin paused. There hung, with the hook in its 
handle, the ghost of Packard's bombshell thrown 
on board the Prussian brig, or one very like it. 
Marvin looked over his shoulder at the laughter- 
convulsed crowd, with an expression of mingled 
disappointment and chagrin that was perfectly irre- 
sistible. Dill and Ebbets, the naughty boys, were 
not there. That utensil, the symbol of our naval 
glory, will be hereafter known among us as *' the 
dolphin !" 

There are too many passengers on our ship to 
be comfortable. It makes it so difficult to get 
away from the crowd. Our rooms are too warm 
and without ventilation, and the main cabin is too 
noisy. I am now perched on some lumber that is 

Chap. III. OUR ** STATE-ROOMS.'' 8 1 

Stowed on the quarter-deck and projects forward 
toward the main-mast and beneath the awning. I 
have Hfted the awning and propped it up with a 
piece of board placed endwise, and then made the 
place so small that two cannot get in. Here I 
read and write all day long, for fear some one will 
get in when I get out, and I can look down unob- 
served upon the crowd on deck. 

April nth, — I lost my roost three days ago, 
and find it difficult to write here in this little filthy 
cell, where a dim glimmer through a deck-light, 
half of the time covered by somebody's foot, shows 
the damp mold and proTound ugliness of the place 
we call our room. On one side are two shelves, 
six feet long and thirty inches wide, with an up- 
right board in front about a foot high, making of 
the whole a couple of troughs, in which are moss 
mattresses of the consistency of a pine board, And 
one inch and a quarter thick, pillows of similar 
proportions, and a blanket. These constitute col- 
lectively what we call our berths. Over the upper 
one are pieces of old sail-cloth, fastened by one 
edge to the deck overhead, and by the other down 
to the ship s side, to conduct the water that leaks 
from the deck down clear of our beds. At one 
end of this room hang various vicissitudes of cloth- 
ing. Above these is a shelf for books and traps ; 
below is a large chest, upon which I am seated. 
Before this is my large trunk, upon which is a stool 
serving me for a writing desk. On the side oppo- 
site hang towels and various implements of death, 
and below these are divers boxes and clothing bags. 


On the remaining side is the doorway; at the right 
of this is a broken looking-glass, which my room- 
mate put his hand through early in the voyage 
(but a fragment still remains), and tooth brushes, 
other brushes, and a small box shelf containing 
little notions in frequent requisition; overhead are 
hung guns, demijohns, and other fire-arms. The 
unoccupied space on the floor is two by three feet. 
We call this our state-room ; I don't know why, 
unless it is because it is a state-room — so the Cap- 
tain called it, when we paid our passage money. 

April 13th, — ^Off the mouth of the Rio de la 
Plata. The water is green as though we were on 
soundings, and immense numbers of birds cover 
it. The shotguns are out, and large quantities of 
shot are spent, resulting in the death of three 
birds. We are approaching the stormy region, and 
every preparation is being made by our fine little 
Captain for bad weather. The quarter-boats are 
taken in, and storm-sails rigged. The winds were 
most of the time from the southwest, and we were 
unable to keep as near to the land as is desirable, 
and shall go outside of the Falkland Islands. 

April 1 8th. — Two days ago we encountered a 
heavy gale from the southwest. It continued for 
twenty-four hours with uninterrupted fury. In the 
Outset it carried away our spanker gaff, and fore- 
topgallant back-stay; fortunately, the halyard parted 
at the same time, or we would have lost our top- 
mast. All sail was taken in, and the ship laid to 
with main spencer and stay-sail. I thought I had 
seen *' blows " at sea, but they were mere child's 


play to this one. No one laughed at another's 
fears. About midnight, the howling of the winds 
became less loud, and on the morning of the 1 7th 
we were close-hauled, with the wind west; but the 
waves were running so tremendously that we could 
make but little headway. We all felt the import- 
ance of having a good ship to trust our lives in, 
and are satisfied that the Pacific, unfortunate as 
she has been in some respects, is thoroughly sea- 
worthy. I confess that my ideas of a ship are 
much enlarged. I felt confident of our safety, if 
the ship .would not break in ; yet, it was hard to 
feel an assurance that she would not, the shocks 
were so dreadful ; but, it has passed, and we feel 
that we are veterans. You may form some idea 
of the drifting heaps of water, when you fancy 
yourself sitting between-decks under the after- 
hatch, and, looking up through the skylight, see 
the waves thirty degrees above the quarter-rail, and 
the davits underwater. For two nights there had 
not been a sleepy eye on board. The Captain 
assures me that we are not likely to have another 
such a storm on the voyage. 

To-day numerous " cape pigeons " are flying 
about us. They are beautiful black-and-white 
spotted birds of the gull family, and about the size 
of pigeons. They are accompanied by a gray 
petrel, a larger bird ; one that I caught measured 
three feet nine inches across the wings. We have 
a curious way of catching these birds. They fly 
around the stern to watch for food thrown over- 
board, and we fasten a bit of paper to a string and 

84 KELP. Chap. III. 

kt it fly a few rods ; soon one of the birds will 
strike the string with its wing, and it slips between 
the feathers until the paper is nearly reached, when 
it takes a turn around the wing, and the bird is 
hauled in. The famous albatross was seen for the 
first time to-day. A beautiful pigeon of snow-y 
whiteness, after flying about us for a while, lit in 
the rigging and was caught. We think it was 
blown off from the Falkland Islands in the late 

Ap7'il igth, — Early this morning the Falkland 
Islands were seen toward the west, distant seventy 
miles. The air is cold ; the thermometer ranges 
from 35° to 38°. The sea is always rough and 
covered with large patches of kelp. One species 
resembles at a little distance the root of the com- 
mon potato, and is called by the sailors " the cape 
potato." The other is long and flat, sometimes 
palmated, and stretches out over the water for sev- 
eral rods, undulating with the waves like a vast 

April 2 1st, — All writing is suspended, owing to 
the cold weather and general discomfort. The 
barometer has been falling for some days, which 
indicates another gale. The sky is clear, and as 
the sun set 4he yellow light shone to the zenith. 
All around looks fair, but the barometer stood at 
2<^ \\ and was falling. The Captain says he must 
believe his barometer, and is putting everything in 
readiness. Before dark the yards were sent down, 
additional lashings were used to secure the boats, 
and the deck load, as well as the baggage amid- 



ships, which suffered much in the gale, were made 

May gth. — I have not been able to continue the 
narrative of our voyage owing to stress of weather, 
and our log is laconic. The storm which was pre- 
dicted on the 2 1 St came at midnight. The in- 
creased motion of the ship awoke us. We heard 
the howlinr of the wind, and the word of com- 
mand given with the tmmpet, and by daylight we 
were in all the horrors of a storm as violent as the 
one we had so lately passed through. Hail and 
snow continued during the day, and night brought 
no relief ; no one dared to venture on deck, and 
our situation was an unenviable one. Our attempts 
to sleep would have been amusing to a disinter- 
ested spectator. All the rooms on the lee side 
were drenched with water from leaks in the deck. 
Doctors Edwards, Hall and Jones came to my 
room on the weather side. One sat against the 
door with his feet against the berth, the other against 
the berth with his feet against the door. Sher- 
wood was in his berth lashed fast, while Dr. Hall 
was wedged into my berth with me, and we were 
braced in opposite directions, and so managed to 
.keep our places. Thus we passed the night. No 
sooner would one fall into a doze than a sudden 
lurch of the ship would rouse him to a sense of his 
situation. Sometimes the ship would continue so 
long on her side that we would fear that the next 
wave would finish her. We would stare into each 
other s faces like owls, and as she righted would 
relapse again into drowsy indifference. Now and 

86 OFF THE HORN. Chap. III. 

then the ship would rebound and tremble as though 
we had struck an iceberg. This would be fol- 
lowed by the rushing of water across the deck and 
a heavy roll, as the vessel staggered under the 
load. Once during the night we were disturbed 
by loud talking and blows in the cabin. One of 
the passengers was quarreling with a little Malay 
waiter for his place on the table. The subject 
race having disappeared, the conqueror laid his 
mattress on the table and placed himself on it 
crosswise, griping the edge of the table with both 
hands ; but, after having been twice pitched off, 
head foremost, and his bed with him, he sat down 
on a box, the picture of despair. The cabin pre- 
sented in the morning an appearance that would 
be difficult to describe. Clothes and books, guns 
and bed-blankets, wet and mingled with broken 
jars of sweetmeats and bottles of precious wine, 
saved with great self-denial to cheer the weary 
hours yet to come, strewed the cabin floor, while 
the chairs and half the crockery were broken. We 
took our food in our hands, and kept our rooms. 
The only sails carried were the fore and main top- 
sails in ** goose wings," that is, the sails close-reefed 
and the weather ends furled, leaving a small corner 
down, and a stay-sail. 

The following day was calm, but cold and 
cloudy ; the next the wind was blowing a gale 
from the northeast, and the ship was run before 
it under close-reefed topsails. It continued to in- 
crease until our situation was again very bad. 
We suffered less from motion, but more from 


water. The greatest difficulty was experienced to 
prevent the ship from broaching-to, and the Cap- 
tain stood at the helm himself the entire day, and 
gave^orders that the passengers should keep be- 
low. I chanced to stand on deck, with two or 
three others, near the cabin door, when a heavy 
sea came over the quarter-rail and down the com- 
panion-way, in a blue sheet. Instantly we were up 
to our waists in water. I made a grab for the 
door and got fast, as did one other. The third 
was carried down, and for a moment we thought 
he was gone ; but, as the ship rolled on the other 
side, he caught the lashings on the after hatch, 
and we pulled him in. A great amount of water 
went into the cabin, and we were alarmed. The 
same sea drenched thq. men at the wheel, and car- 
ried the compass, which had bc^en taken out of the 
binnacle for convenience, down to larboard. It 
was so dark and wet below that I determined to 
make another stand on deck. I must see the mag- 
nificent view. I kept my hand on the door, to 
make my escape in haste. Mr. Gager came out 
after me, and said he would hold on to me, but 
had hardly stepped on the deck when his feet 
slipped from under him, and he fell across the 
deck upon his face, and slid like a dead man to 
the other side in the water. As the ship rolled to 
the other side, he came past me, and I grabbed 
him and dragged him in. I found his nose was 
badly broken and displaced, and his spectacles 
were broken and driven into his face. I did not 
go upon deck again during the gale. As it sub- 


sided, the Captain came below to cheer us. We 
have splintered up Mr. Gagers nose with storm- 
rigging, so that we think it will not be much de- 
faced. He thinks that had his nose not been d 
good fender, he would have had his brains 
knocked out. 

Another uncomfortable night passed. We were 
wet and cold, and the confined air where sixty 
persons were breathing made me feverish. I went 
on deck to get some water. It was pitchy dark 
and raining. My feet slipped, I fell, and returned 
unsuccessful. From that time until the first of 
May we were battling with head winds and 
storms, at which time we were not one hundred 
miles west. of Cape Horn. Great numbers of 
albatrosses were seen, and. with the blubber of a 
porpoise we caught many of them. The Captain 
has determined to go to Callao. 

On the 4th of April, a month ago, I wrote that 
we had suffered to our full capabilities from hope 
deferred. Longitude on the 5th, 73° 3^ For two 
days previously we were lying-to in a heavy 
southwester. The Captain has been ten times 
around the Horn, but never before saw so much 
heavy weather. The passengers are suffering 
much from the effects of the wet, cold, and want of 
exercise. Most of them have swollen hands and 
feet, and many of them have ulcers on the feet. 
We have no fire to dry our clothes, while all de- 
vices to rid ourselves of water are unavailing. 
The air on deck is continually filled with sleet and 
rain, which drives us down when we attempt to 


breathe it. All pride of person is lost, and men 
quarrel over their bread as though it was the last 
they were to eat. On the 5th, the sun shone out 
^bout noon,, and an observation was taken ; alti- 
tude of the sun, 15° 30'. How mournfully it re- 
minded me of the vast distance that intervenes 
between us and our homes ! 

We have become hardened to storms, but begin 
to fear that our supply of water will not hold out. 
The Captain has given orders to put all hands on 
an allowance. 

Last night, about midnight, the wind died away, 
and until daylight we were rolling in a heavy swell 
and a dead calm, which was even more disagree- 
able than a storm ; so violent was it, that fears 
were entertained that it would carry away our 
masts. Then a light breeze sprung up from the 
south, and as soon as we got steering-way we were 
all right. At breakfast we were all in fine spirits. 
The wind was fair, and there was a prospect that 
the head winds, which, with the exception of about 
eighteen hours, had prevailed for the last three 
weeks, were to be followed by something more 
favorable ; so far it has been all head work. 

To-day we are fairly free ; latitude 50° I5^ longi- 
tude 79° 11'. Our gratification at being released 
from this memorable cape can be conceived only 
by those who have been there when the sun is in 
the northern solstice. The air is yet cold, but the 
sea water is sensibly warmer. Albatrosses and 
cape pigeons still follow us in great numbers. 


" And a good south wind sprung up behind ; 
The Albatross did follow, 
And every day, for food or play, 
Ciime to the mariner's hollo!" 

The latter we have become much attached to ; 
they fly around us within reach of a cane, and alight 
in little fleets close under our side, and as they fall 
astern will return and drop into the water hard 
enough to knock their little wits out. They have 
the utmost confidence in us. It is a beautiful sight 
to see the little fellows riding the rought sea, so 
fleet and buoyant, with their black heads, spotted 
coats, and pure white vests. 

The wind is nearly south this evening, and w^e 
are still running before it, but a heavy swell has 
been making all day from the southwest, showing 
that our old enemy is raging down there. 

May 1 2th, — The weather was* pleasant and we 
made but little progress. Yesterday a sail was 
discovered to windward, and to-day she came down 
to us, and passed under our lee, as if to speak to 
us. It proved to be the John Petit, of New York. 
She entered the harbor of Rio the same day with 
us, saw us lose our flag, and knew of Captain Tib- 
bets' treatment of other vessels, but had not heard 
of his removal ; hence her shyness in hailing us, 
as she feared to be insulted. She left Rio nearly 
three weeks before us. As she passed ahead we 
gave her three cheers, which were returned. We 
had been under easy sail to enable her to come up, 
and, as we were anxious to clear up our bad char- 
acter, we hoisted fore and mizzen topgallants, fly- 
ing jib and main royal, and stood after her; but 


we could not get away with her. We kept in 
sight during the day, but parted at night. 

Until the 19th the wind was light and variable. 
The cabin roof has been cleared, and the boats re- 
placed on the davits. The main hatch was opened, 
and some valuable discoveries were made in the 
form of stores, that Mr. Griffin said were not on 
board. Now, he says, they were on as freight. 
They are marked *' stores," and the Captain knows 
what to do with them ! By this discovery, we have 
good butter (of which even the poor stuff we had 
been using was gone), and thirteen casks of water 
were raised on deck. All the desirable stores were 
put where they can be made available. The same 
day, to amuse us, the Captain ran a bottle up to 
the main topgallant yard, which we had leave to 
hit, if we could, with pistols. The double motion 
of the ship and the swinging bottle made it a diffi- 
cult feat. 

In the afternoon a boat was lowered, and a party 
went off, three or four miles, for the sake of the 
exercise. We picked up on the blade of an oar a 
Portuguese man-of-war, as the crew call it, but it 
is an animal known to naturalists as the Physalia. 
For closer inspection, I brought it on board, and, 
while doing so, one of its long blue tentacles that 
hung down from it like a chain of beads, touched 
the back of my hand and burned it as quickly as 
if it were done with a drop of hot oil. The scar 
remains still upon my hand. 

Friday, May i8th. — A school of black-fish came 
near the ship. These are a small species of whale. 

92 BLACK-FISH. Chap. III. 

large enough to furnish twenty barrels of oil, but 
very active, and more dangerous to boats, the 
whalemen say, than any others. It was proposed 
to go in pursuit of them, and the Captain con- 
sented to gratify us, not thinking that we would do 
more than have a little recreation. We took a 
gig, a kind of weapon used for killing porpoises, 
and about twenty fathoms of line. After about an 
hours trial, we fastened to one of the largest. 
When we saw the line straightened, and felt the 
boat moving through the water, we were all very 
much excited. It was great sport to be harnessed 
like old Neptune to the monsters of the deep, and 
going as though the old what's-his-name was after 
us. Our line was all out, and the end of the rope 
was made fast by a half-hitch to a ringbolt in the 
bow of the boat. There was so little confidence 
in our being able to fasten that they had not given 
us the means to kill the whale or get away. We 
had no knife or hatchet, and the whale was going 
to windward ; neither had we water or food in the 

As soon as we were fast, we were seen from the 
ship to be going without using oars, and the other 
boat was lowered and sent to us, in charge of the 
second mate. In the meantime, we were going 
faster than was pleasant away from the ship. The 
more we realized the situation, the less enjoyable 
it became ; and the rapid evokitions of our steed 
required the utmost efforts on our part to keep our 
boat right side up. He would go down and turn 
so quickly that we wished some one else had him. 


" Back water, all !'' " Give way on the starboard 
oars — hard !" " Back water on the starboard oars !'' 
Such were the orders and expedients to keep him 
from rising under us, and sending us where we 
wished him. Then away the whole school would 
go, as if they knew Mr. Douglass was coming. 
They would rise and blow all around us, and we 
would punch them with our oars to make them 
keep at a respectable distance, when they would 
slap water into our faces and go down. 

At one time, our whale raised his hogshead- 
shaped head square out of the water, not twenty 
feet from us, and we thought he was going to die ; 
but he settled away, and to our great relief went 
toward the ship, and soon brought us to the other 
boat. Mr. Douglass brought another harpoon. 
He took the line between us and the whale, and 
we untied our end of the line, that w^e could let go 
at a moment s notice. Douglass hauled in on the 
rope until he got near enough to the whale to 
throw his harpoon ; but the shank of the weapon 
bent, and the iron did not make fast. One of his 
party fired an ounce-ball into the whale, when he 
gave a sudden start, and having two boats with 
twenty men straining at the small iron that was 
fastened in his back, it pulled out, and the whale 
escaped. The ship was now almost hull down to 
windward, and we verified the truth of the old saw 
that **a stern chase is a long one." 

May 2 2d, — The Island of Juan Fernandez was 
visible on the morning of the 19th, like a small 
blue cloud on the horizon, in the northwest. After 


breakfast, a life-boat, with sail and eleven men, 
started for it, distant fifty miles. I had agreed to 
be one of the party, but too many got into the 
boat — twice as many as she ought to carry. They 
had orders not to lose sight of the ship, but as the 
wind fell off to a calm, they took to their oars, and 
before noon they were out of sight. In the mean- 
time, a breeze sprung up from the direction of the 
island, and we were compelled to beat up for it. 
This increased for two days, until it blew a gale, 
during which time we beat about the lee side of the 
island to find the boat. The Captain was sure it 
was wrecked, and the most gloomy forebodings 
filled the minds of all on board. 

Two sulphur-bottom whales joined us in the 
search, and kept us company all one afternoon, 
wearing ship whenever we did, and kept so close 
to the windward of us as to blow water into our 
faces. We saw no signs of life on the island, and 
now, at the close of the third day, as the clouds 
hung heavy and dark over the mountains, accom- 
panied by mist and rain, nearly all hope of their 
safety failed. Fred. Griffin (the owner), George 
Tibbets (son of the late Captain), J. Ross Browne. 
J. W. Bingham, Ebbets, Waldron, Dunham of our 
company, with others who were on the black-fish 
ride with me, were in the boat's company, and the 
characters of all are discussed with great serious- 
ness. Jim Morgan is more hopeful. He says that 
Fred. Griffin was born to be hanged, and can not 
be drowned ; that idea strikes us all as a very plausi- 
ble one, and gives a brighter view to the picture. 


Last night the wind changed, and we made for 
the north side of the island. As we opened up 
the north shore we discovered a h'ght, and a tre- 
mendous shout raised from our deck expressed the 
painful anxiety now suddenly relieved. We lay 
to all night, and this morning the ship was twenty 
miles north of the island, when we stood in with 
all sail set. When about five miles off, the boat 
was discovered coming out to us, and we took it 
on board. The Captain was angry, as were most 
of the passengers, at the delay and anxiety caused, 
but I did not regret the opportunity it gave us to 
see the celebrated island. By request of the Cap- 
tain, the Crusoes were received on board in silence. 

They stated that they lost sight of the ship about 
three o'clock on the day they quitted it, and they 
had nothing left then but to make for the island. 
Night fell when they were about twenty miles dis- 
tant from it. They worked all night at the oars 
until toward morning, when a squall came up, and, 
hoisting sail, they rounded the east end of the 
island, but could see only the abrupt shores and 
the fearful surf breaking upon them. They coasted 
along until they saw a light. This proceeded from 
a ship (the Brooklyn), ten days before us from 
New York, bound to California. On board this 
ship they stayed until after breakfast, and then 
went on shore. The Sai^ali JlfcFarland'Wdi'^ com- 
ing in for water as we left. 

Our Crusoes brought off a quantity of fish and 
dried peaches. They represented that the only 
inhabitants are an American named Pierce and five 


Chilenos and their families. The American is a 
suspicious character, and rules the others by su- 
perior sagacity and courage. They live in straw 
huts. There are numerous caves cut in the lava 
rock, but they are damp and cold ; our adventurers 
spent a night in one of them, said to have been 
inhabited by Selkirk. Wild horses, asses and 
goats are numerous, being the descendants of those 
introduced from the continent while the island was 
occupied as a penal colony. 

The appearance of the island at the distance of 
five miles is dreary enough. It seems to be but 
one mass of mountains, some two thousand feet 
high, ^nd the only accessible place is on the north 
side, where the longest ravines have united in a 
slope to the sea, which meets it in a little bay, 
where boats may land in safety. A large portion 
of the surface is naked lava rock, in some places 
softened by the elements, and is continually wash- 
ing down. The round stone pavement made by 
the prisoners is buried by this alluvium. The soil 
is exceedingly fertile, and peach and myrtle trees 
cover the watered slopes of the valleys. The 
peaches are very fine and large, but nearly out of 
season. The ground was covered by them in 
many places, in a state of decay. Quinces were 
brought on board, and are not unpleasant to the 
taste. Figs are among the fruits raised here. Gar- 
den vegetables are growing wild in great profusion, 
and Juan F'ernandez would not now, notwithstand- 
ing it has lost all the delightful romance with which 
childhood invested it, make a bad hermitage for 
one world weary ; but, for myself, I thought : 

' .' ' 



* . 

■ ■ ' l- ■ . . 

'■■■ ■■- - • 



■■• /• 


* * Oh, solitude ! where are the charms 
That sages have seen in thy face? 
Better dwell in the midst of alarms 
Than reign in this horrible place." 

The smaller island is only inhabited by goats, 
and these are in great numbers. It has no harbor, 
but many acres of table land, ccwered with a rank 
growth of wild oats and other grass. Fish are so 
numerous that they can be taken in any quantity. 
Dunham says he fastened a hook to his hat-string 
and hauled a fish into the boat, and they are so 
greedy that they will rise to the fingers when held 
in the water. Crawfish as large as our lobsters 
are taken in any quantity ; we found them a great 

On leaving the islands, we took " the trades," 
and are now, a week after, in latitude 15°. We 
expect to see land to-morrow. 

98 THE ANDES. Chap. IV. 


The Andes — Overhauling shore clothes — Callao — Lima — The 
'^ chtrtmoya" — Excursion to San Lorenzo — Shoot sea-birds — 
Wild potatoes — Tom Falls — Exciting news from California — 
The Cathedral — Pizarro's skull — Champagne dinner — Water 
spouts — Celebration of Independence Day — Sail, ho ! — Go 
for it — Brig Osceola — Grand reception — Return — Six months 
at sea — Head winds — Pass the ship Humboldt — Hope de- 
ferred — Signs of land — Ho, California ! — Old Boreas comes 
on board — End of the Voyage — Landing. 

May Jisty 184^, — We were out on deck early, 
looking for the expected land. The sun had not 
risen, and the eastern horizon appeared as usual. 
We all looked too low, for high up was the dim 
and distant outline of the phantom mountains, well 
defined against the sky. We were looking upon 
the giant Andes, more than a hundred miles off. 
After the sun rose, they disappeared ** like the 
baseless fabric of a vision ;" but this afternoon we 
are nearer, and the light is reflected from their 
snowy sides, white as the clouds, from which it is 
difficult to distinguish them. The vast peaks rise 
up into the very arch of heaven, too magnificent 
for description. A dispute arose as to our havin'g 
seen the mountains in the morning. In point of 
fact, we had not ; we saw the illuminated atmos- 
phere around them. As soon as the sun rose and 
lighted the atmosphere between us and the moun- 

Chap. IV. . CALLAC) LIMA. 99 

tains, they disappeared. We saw the mountains 
"negatively,'* as Humboldt called it. We can dis- 
tinguish them from the clouds that rest upon them 
by the fixed outline of the former, while that of the 
latter slowly changes. 

The scene on board is very amusing, as the pas- 
sengers come up on deck dressed in their shore 
clothes. Cape Horn had treated them badly. I 
don't know what I shall do for a hat. My only 
decent one was carefully strapped up to the deck 
over my berth, but an old rat bad appropriated it 
as her breeding-place, without my knowledge, and 
during the storms off the Horn the water drowned 
the young ones, and I did not discover the disaster 
until recently. Who will lend me a hat ? 

Callao, June 6th. — On the morning after our 
arrival, we took a shore boat and landed at the 
mole. After wandering about a short time, we 
found ourselves unexpectedly out of town. This 
is a squalid place. We were reminded of two 
characteristics of the country by the construction 
of the houses — the exemption from rain, and the 
liability to earthquakes. The market place is a 
square, with a few Indian women seated under 
umbrella-like awnings, having their fruit and other 
articles scattered around them on the ground. 

Here, four of us — Ross Browrfe, Dr. Beale and 
J. W. Allen, with myself— found ourselves apart 
from the rest, and concluded to go to Lima and 
return the same day. We walked three miles, 
when Dr. Beale gave out, and, when within a mile 
of the city, Allen followed suit. Browne and my- 


self continued on through the gates of the city. 
The distance was but seven miles, but we had been 
so long unaccustomed to travel that it was a severe 
trial. We stopped at the house of our Chargi 
d' Affaires to rest ourselves for an hour, and went 
on to find a hotel. Gave a 7'eal for a cheremoya as 
large as my two fists. It was delicious. Tropical 
fruits are all very abundant, but this is the ne plus 
ultra of fruits. Peru is said to be the only country 
where they grow to perfection. 

I will not occupy the space to describe Lima. 
You can get all that from books. We climbed the 
summit of Mont Christoval ; saw the famous Con- 
dor, the Bridge of Rolla, the wine presses, the 
hospital, the cathedral, with its altar of silver, the 
monasteries, and, with Mr. Falls, engineer of the 
Rimac, rode on horseback to the summit of the 
vast structures of unburnt brick, erected by the 
Peruvians under the Incas, from whose flat tops 
were offered up their human sacrifices. 

Yesterday Mr. Falls took a small party of us to 
the Island of San Lorenzo, which forms the pro- 
tection to the harbor from the sea, and is about one 
thousand feet high. Convicts are kept at work 
here, and we are obliged to get a permit to land. 
The potato is said to grow wild on its summit, and 
we were anxious to find it. The soil was v^vj 
heavy, being composed of guano. It was now dry 
and bare, but we dug some shriveled tubers that 
may be wild potatoes, but, if so, there must have 
been a great change effected by cultivation. As 
no rain falls, the soil must be watered by fogs. 


There was no water to quench our thirst, and when 
we descended to the outer shore to shoot sea lions, 
we nearly perished for want of it. We then re- 
turned to the boat and visited the south end, where 
is a burial place of the ancient Peruvians. We 
collected relics that had b^en exhumed, fired away 
all our powder and shot at sea birds, returned to the 
ship ver)' tired and hungry, and spent the evening 
in talking of the antiquities of Peru, of which Mr. 
Falls has much information. Besides Mr. Falls, 
there is another one of the Novelty Works boys 
on board of the Rimac — Peter Donahue, assistant 
engineer. They are delighted to see their country- 

California has drained the markets here of every- 
thing. Iodide of potassium, worth in New York 
$4, is here worth $32. Quinine is held at $12 an 
ounce, and there is hardly an ounce of it in Lima. 

Our friend. Captain Bartlett, came in this morn- 
ing with the Ewing, and sails with us to-morrow. 
This letter will be carried by private conveyance 
to the United States mail. The postage by Brit- 
ish steamer is $1.25 per ounce. 

Jum i^th, — At sea. A few thousand miles 
more, and this protracted voyage will be brought 
to a close. The same morning that we left Callao 
the British steamer arrived from Panama, with 
news of communication again opened by steam 
with San Francisco, but no news did it bring from 
home — not even a paper from the United States. 
By English papers, I learned that the propeller 
Hartford failed to come out to this coast, and 



some allusion was made to a speech by Mr. Clay 
on slavery. The latest dates from the United 
States were to February 1 7th. The news from 
California is very exciting ; the rush from all quar- 
ters is astonishing. They say that there are not 
Americans enough to hold the country, which is in 
a state of anarchy ; that 8,000 Mexicans from 
Sonora are driving our people before them. Wait 
until our fleet of California boys now in the Pacific 
j^ets there, and you will hear of fun. It seems we 
did not know half the truth when we left New 
York ; the whole world seems to have gone crazy. 
Some of our folks begin to feel uneasy lest gold 
will lose its rank as a precious metal. Jim Mor- 
gan has been figuring on an estimate of the prob- 
able result. If 100,000 people now in California 
and on their way get each 500 pounds of gold, 
what will gold be worth ? Jim swears he will go 
and hunt for an iron mine. 

It was nearly night when our anchor was again 
up, and we stood out for the open sea. Mr. Falls 
had come out in his boat to see us off, and I really 
pitied the poor fellow as he got down to go to his 
own vessel. He and his assistants were the only 
Americans here, except a Dr. Kenny, and, as he 
left, he said he would go and give himself thirty 
lashes and put himself in irons. He wore the 
uniform of the Peruvian navy, and it had been of 
great advantage to us. 

When we were in Lima and visiting the cathe- 
dral, our conductor, an old priest, showed us the 
bones of Pizarro, the conqueror of Peru, and for 


the small consideration of $1, he would give us as 
a memento the veritable skull of the old hero. 
Money was rather scarce with me just then, and 
the mysterious proposition was declined. Since 
we have been at sea there have been discovered 
not less than fourteen of these grim relics of the 
great conquistador, and all are guaranteed to be 
veritable skulls of Pizarro. What a Cerberus he 
must have been ! 

But few incidents enliven the voyage, now so 
tedious. A few days out we had a sumptuous din- 
ner, with champagne and roast turkey. Toasts 
and sentiments were indulged in, and a day passed 
with a great deal of good will and merriment. 
Another exhibition of a water spout gave rise to a 
great deal of discussion as to whether the water 
rose from the sea or fell into it. Each one saw 
the phenomenon just according to his bias. I 
was confirmed in my opinion that the water in a 
water spout does not rise, but falls into the sea, as 
if all the rain from a cumultts cloud were concen- 
trated into a small space and fell with such force 
as to cause a small fog-bank on the water. 

July 15th, — We crossed the equator on the 26th 
of June, at longitude 110°, without having shifted 
a tack since we hoisted our anchor. At 6° north, 
the winds became light and baffling. Disappointed 
in spending the 4th of July on le^-ra Jirma, we 
made great preparations to do honor to the day on 
board. For several days military drills were fre- 
quent, as, ii)4eed, they had been since the late news 
from California. A Committee of Arrangements 


was appointed, and everything was prepared for as 
grand a display as the limited field of our opera- 
tions would allow. Daybreak was announced by 
the firing of a volley down the main hatch, and a 
resolute determination on the part of the more 
patriotic not to allow the others to sleep. At sun- 
rise all were on deck. The New England Regi- 
ment, dressed with black pants, California hats and 
bright red shirts, fired thirteen volleys ; at the same 
time, our colors, with all the Hags and signals on 
board, went up to flaunt the skies, and three cheers 
from all on board hailed the glorious day. There 
was no echo to our glad shout, and we were re- 
minded what an atom we were in the v^st watery 
plain that separated us from the millions whose 
patriotic thunder was rolling from the Atlantic to 
the Pacific. At ten o'clock, a drum (improvised 
from a keg and the skin of a sheep killed on board) 
and fife called all hands on deck. Mr. Gager, who 
had held the rank of Brigadier-General, was Mar- 
shal of the Day. The New England Regiment, 
under Colonel N. D. Morgan, was divided into 
three companies, under Captains Strong, Cannon 
and Waldron ; Hale was Adjutant, and Masten 
Major. Mark Hopkins, who had held tlie rank 
of Brigade Inspector, having been overlooked in 
the arrangements, declined to serve in any other 
capacity than Assistant Surgeon, and so took his 
place with me on the Colonel's Staff. This regi- 
ment, twenty-five strong, formed on the starboard, 
and was a very soldierly corps. Beyond these the 
Easterbrook Guards — dressed like the others, in 


black hats and pants, and red shirts, with the let- 
ters " E. G." on the breast — were formed, twelve 
strong. On the left were the Hartford Brigade ; 
though only ten men, they were allowed to be a 
brigade, because they were armed with a pair of 
Colt s large pistols each. Beyond these was formed 
a company of such as were not connected with 
companies ; they were well dressed and discip- 
lined, and, as all were reviewed and making ready 
to march, the Ocean Rangers issued from the fore- 
castle, dressed in the order of the day, well armed, 
but with faces so altered by mustaches and imperials 
in burnt cork that it was not easy to identify them. 
They were under the command of Captain Cath- 
cart, of the New York Excelsior Club. The whole 
line presented arms as they filed by and took their 
place on thq extreme right. After marching down 
the windward and up the leeward, preceded by the 
Captain as President of the Day, General John S. 
Jones, o( Marion (Georgia), as Orator, the Reader, 
Poet and Committee of Arrangements, in citizens' 
dress, they were formed around the after-hatch. 
The band played " Hail, Columbia," and all 
thoughts of levity were laid aside. Half a dozen 
men, with blue shirts and stove-pipe hats, and stars 
on their breasts, acted as police, and stood around 
to keep order. 

The President announced the Reader of the 
Declaration of Independence, J. W. Bingham, who 
introduced the reading by some appropriate re- 
marks. After him followed General Jones, in a 
short but beautiful oration, in which his touching 


allusions to home and our peculiar situation brought 
tears to many eyes. The concluding music was 
very fine. The military then dispersed, and some 
amusement from the police kept up the interest. 
Douglass, the second mate — a stout, daring fellow 
— was in for a frolic. With an old, broken, high- 
crowned hat, boots over his trousers* legs, and 
both eyes* very ingeniously blackened, he came 
staggering about the quarter-deck, personating the 
character of **Sikesy," in the play of New York As 
It Is, Another character in the same play was 
represented by an agile, slender fellow, who is too 
full of fun to take anything seriously — Dunham, a 
member of our company. The police had endeav- 
ored in vain to catch Douglass — ^he is the most 
active sailor on board, and wherever there was a 
rope he was at home as thoroughly as a monkey 
in a tree; but his friend " Mose" was captured, and 
he called on Sikesy for a rescue. Sikesy responded 
to the call, but in the struggle that followed he 
was himself securely ironed; they were too many 
for him. 

Dinner was served in good style; the last of the 
turkeys were served up; pie was made from pre- 
served meat, which, with pastry and sweet pota- 
toes, of which we laid in a large supply at Callao, 
made us a good dinner. The baggage was all re- 
moved through the whole length of the cabin, and 
room was made for all on board at the table. 
When the cloth was removed, a tub of punch was 
brought on, and the company grew merry. The 
toasts were disposed of, and a few were beginning 

Chap. IV. SAIL, HO ! I07 

to feel the punch, when J. Ross Browne, who had 
been appointed Poet of the Day, jjave as a substi 
tute a satirical relation of the leading incidents of 
the voyage. It made some mirth at first, but as 
he was too personal to suit the occasion, he was 
interrupted. This broke up the good feeling and 
marred the otherwise excellent celebration. At 
sundown thirty volleys were fired, and our flags 
came down. The day ended by getting a Miller- 
ite drunk. It was a regular New York celebration 
on a small scale, and, to those on board, one never 
to be forgotten. 

At SeUf July 15th. — Two days after the cele- 
bration the wind was still light and ahead. The 
cry of **Sail, ho!*' was made, and a vessel was dis- 
covered too far ahead to make her out. The Cap- 
tain said, jocosely, that we had better lower a boat 
and go to her. I thought there was a little irony 
in the suggestion, referring to the foolhardiness of 
some of our excursions; but the proposition was 
taken seriously by most of the passengers, and a 
perfect storm was the result. They denounced it, 
and questioned the right of the Captain to send a 
boat off. The Captain felt that his authority was 
involved, and he told Brigham that if he would 
take his boat and get a crew, he might go and 
obtain the vessel's reckoning. A crew was soon 
made up. In a few minutes we were on our way 
in the Crusoe, as the boat was named after the 
trip to Juan Fernandez. We started off under a 
shower of abuse, groans, etc. The ship was going 
about four knots, only the upper sails drawing. 

108 WE GO FOR IT. Chap. IV. 

We had seven men and pulled five oars. One 
man had got into the boat uninvited; he was a 
bad oarsman, and to our. great mortification he 
cramped his oar badly, and we fell astern. Cheers 
now saluted us from the ship. We put another 
man in his place, and soon got ahead far enough 
to hoist a sail; but the wind so near the water 
was not strong enough to keep us ahead of the 
ship, and we kept four oars out. In two hours we 
could discern the vessel that we were in pursuit 
of; at noon her hull could be distinguished, but 
the strength of the party began to fail. It could 
not be perceived that we were gaining. Our men 
were reminded that we were relying too much on 
the sail — that it was the white ash alone that must 
be depended upon. It was urged that to return 
unsuccessful would be to expose us all to ridicule. 
A vote was taken whether we should go on or 
return. Two declared they were sick and unfit 
for the necessary exertion. Packard, foremost and 
fearless to embark, said w^e could not reach the 
vessel before dark. Ebbets looked back with 
longing to the ship. Bingham and myself were 
the only ones urgent for going on. It was de- 
cided that we should change every fifteen minutes, 
and pull for one hour with our utmost strength, 
when, if we were not agreed on continuing, we 
would return. We pulled away manfully, Bing- 
ham and myself pulling half-hour tricks for those 
who were sick, though my hands were blistered 
before noon. At the end of the hour it was not 
difficult to see that we had gained decidedly. We 


were now more than half way from our own ship 
to the stranger, and we could see neither of them 
except as we rode on the top of the swell. The 
almost vertical sun shone down with fierce heat; 
the wind died away until the surface of the sea 
was like glass. Now was our opportunity, and 
we redoubled our exertions. About half-past two 
we knew that we were discovered, by seeing the 
vessel back her topsails. She was a brig. Our 
flag was mounted in the mouth of our water demi- 
john. As we came nearer, we saw her lower away 
a boat. Not long after, we could get an occasional 
sight of it, when we were both on swells at the 
same time. All sickness and headache now dis^ 
appeared. They were soon in hailing distance, 
and they shouted, in a language we could*not mis- 
understand, **What boat is that?'* "From the ship 
Pacific'' we replied, *' bound for that brig; been 
out since eight o'clock this morning— short of wa- 
ter, and nothing to eat. What brig is that.'^'' 
''Osceola, from Philadelphia, bound for California." 
They all knew of the Pacific, as every vessel 
bound to California does. *' Three cheers for the 
boat from the ship Pacific T and those California 
hats went round with vigor. We peaked our oars 
in man-of-war style, and, standing up, gave them 
back as lustily. "Come on," said they, and pulled 
away to their vessel like men possessed. It was 
about four o'clock when we came up. The brigs 
boat got in first, as they had eleven fresh men, 
arfd passed up the word that we were passengers 
from the Pacific, Up to this time they had not 


seen our ship, and were under the impression she 
was lost and that we were the survivors. Seventy 
men were on the rail and house, and, O, heaven! 
how they did roar a welcome! They lifted us out 
of the boat, and crowded around us, eager to shake 
hands; and sore as our hands were, blistered with- 
in by the oars and blistered without by the sun. 
we had to go through with it. We were ushered 
into the cabin, and nearly smothered with the 
press. Each one of us was surrounded by a group 
of listeners. We told them the encouraging news 
we had learned at Callao; how we had seen gold 
passed, to the amount of several pounds, through 
a crowd in the street, with so little concern to the 
owner that he did not care to watch it; and we 
saw a Tump, weighing twenty-six ounces, passed 
around the breakfast table. We advised them of 
the probability of some fighting to re-establish the 
authority of our Government, and the necessity of 
looking to their arms. 

A table was soon spread for us, and we sat down 
to a dinner such as I never enjoyed before; that 
dinner was worth all the labor it cost us. Would 
you like to know what it was made of? Salt beef, 
pork, and Irish potatoes! The last article they 
obtained in Chile. While we were discussing the 
meal with coffee, they were discussing the news. 
We remained on board an hour and a half. The 
doctor produced the last of the brandy from the 
medicine chest, and I fear we left them destitute. 
The time admonished us to leave, and we em- 
barked in our own boat, received the three times 


three cheers for the Crusoe crew, returning the 
compliment, hoisted sail and ran down with a free 
Avind for our own ship, a mere speck on the hori- 
zon; but she was close on the wind and we before 
it, and we approached rapidly. Our guests prom- 
ised to return our visit in the morning, if we were 
in sight. We reached our vessel about half an 
hour after sundown. 

Our fellow passengers were all eager to know 
Avhat vessel it was, where from, where bound, etc. 
We had agreed to answer no questions; so as soon 
as we were on board and the boat secured, we re- 
paired to the Captain's cabin and made our report, 
and after we had kept them long enough in sus- 
pense to get even with them for their treatment of 
us in the morning, we went out and told them all, 
and delivered letters to several of them. A wind 
sprung up from the west at night, and in the morn- 
ing the brig could nowhere be seen. 

July ijtii, — The trades, which have been ad- 
verse since we first took them, are dying away. 
Our position yesterday was in longitude 128° 25^ 
latitude 25° 35'. In a few days we shall have 
been six months without news from our friends. 
You can imagine how anxiously we watch the 
compass and the wind. It would amuse you to 
see the various devices resorted to, to consume 
time. The great dining-table, under the main 
hatch, is the work-bench, where all sorts of trades 
are carried on. I have made a sail for my boat in 
a style that would not dishonor a sailmaker. 

Our ship is almost uninhabitable. We have 

112 HEAD WINDS. Chap. IV. 

abandoned our rooms and crowd our musty beds 
upon the tables, and every available space is occu- 
pied. Many of us purchased hammocks, and 
these are swung from the timbers between-decks. 
Bugs have increased so rapidly that we cannot 
sleep where we were accustomed to, and rats have 
lost all fear and respect for us. They run over 
our faces, and destroy everything they can put 
their teeth into. They have even destroyed my 
flag. They sampled Dr. Hall's nose! But this is 
nearly all over! Very soon our blankets will be 
spread on the pure earth and under the open sky. 
July Jist, — For three weeks we have beeh 
within six days* sail of our destined port; but the 
winds are always ahead. There is a degree of 
feverish anxiety that I have not before seen. - 
**How does she head.'^" is asked all day long and i 
every hour in the night. Anxious groups stand i 
around the binnacle with mournful looks, as though m. 
they were gazing upon the face of a dead child. ^ 
The wind does not "haul." I have been waiting "2 
for more quiet times to write, but as we are to ^ 
fight it out with head seas, I do the best I can; "2 
there is so much motion that I have to write on 
my knees, with ink in hand. One thing consoles 
me, our ship is never bea*ten on the wind. On 
the 19th, a sail was discovered from the cross- 
trees, directly to windward; on the next day she 
was seen from the top; on the 21st her hull could 
be seen from our deck. Exchanged signals, but 
could not distinguish hers. Early the next mofn- 
ing we were all roused to see the stranger; she 


was half a mile to windward, and we were coming 
up fast. She carried the flag of Hamburg, and 
was crowded with passengers. It was the ship 
Humboldt, from Panama, three hundred and twen- 
ty-five passengers and loi days passage. F'ew 
more interesting incidents occur on a long voyage 
than speaking a ship. Although very early, we 
were all out. As we dashed along on our con- 
verging paths, we gradually approached, until we 
were startled with the short, imperious call from a 
brazen throat, **Ship, ahoy!** "Ahoy!" we echoed, 
equally imperious, and a little shorter: "Where 
are you from?" The question in order would have 
been, "Where are you bound?" but this was un- 
necessary. "PVom Callao forty-two days; sailed 
out of New York. Where are you from ?" " Pan- 
ama seve;nty-three days. All well." "All well." 
We were now so far apart that we could not tell 
what was said, and three cheers from the red- 
shirted crowd on her deck was responded to by a 
similar looking crowd on our deck; three more for 
California were answered in a like manner, and she 
dropped across our wake and went to leeward. I 
thought I saw a man making signals to us from 
the bows, but it proved to be a shirt hung up to 
dry, and I got the laugh on me. We felt badly 
for the poor fellows, for we thought they were 
worse off than ourselves. The next morning we 
were out of sight. Another vessel was now seen 
on our lee bow; it was a small schooner trying 
hard to get up to us, with a large ensign of the 
stars and stripes. We could not afford to lose the 


time necessary to speak her, and before dark left 
her out of sight. On Tuesday last we were in 
longitude 136°, latitude 26°. Here the wind was 
baffling, and finally died out altogether. The next 
day it was west of north, and promised well. We 
were all in the best of spirits, and as it freshened 
we became boisterous; but about midnight it 
shifted to the same old quarter, and we continued 
on the starboard tack. Yesterday our position 
was in longitude 128° 50', latitude 34° 49'. We 
are quite confident of getting in. this week, but I 
cannot realize yet that we are so near the end of 
the voyage; so long have we been sailing with the 
port of our destination So far off, that we cannot 
make it seem near. It appears an age since we 
came on board this ship. Our friends would have 
difficulty in recognizing us as the same persons 
that sailed from New York last January. We 
have become reconciled to the privations of phy- 
sical comforts; we drink our bitter coffee, without 
milk, with relish; we never grumble at the salt 
beef and pork while we have soft bread and vine- 
gar, for we have "duff" or pie for dessert. We 
have no variety, for we have run short of most 
things. Butter and such delicacies are quite for- 
gotten, or come to us only in tantalizing dreams. 
We don't even ''know beans" any longer. 

Last night I read "Views Afoot'' in Dr. Halls 
room until late. We read the description of the 
palace at Munich, surpassing Aladdin's dreams, 
and when we came to the description of the bed- 
room, its magnificence exceeded our credulity. We 


Stopped, and I crawled into my hammock over the 
baggage, where I had tarred the ropes to prevent 
the rats from cutting me down, and, wondering 
whose daughter Cain s wife could have been, I fell 
asleep. The motion of the ship is bad, in conse- 
quence of the head seas. One word is written 
between each pitch, and if it is a long one, I have 
to cut it in two. 

August /fth, — We arose early this morning to 
look for land. The water is greener, showing that 
we are on soundings. Curious specimens of kelp 
are frequently met with. We caught one, which 
consisted of a rod forty feet long, with a hollow 
knob at one end tapering off to a long lash, the 
small end of which had been attached to the rocks 
on the bottom of the sea ; from the knob, which 
was filled with air to float it to the surface, grew a 
tuft of leaves two yards long and four inches wide, 
with corrugated edges. Pieces of wood are seen, 
and flocks of cormorants watched with intense in- 
terest. Columbus, when he approached the shores 
of America, could not have noted these signs of 
land with more intense interest than we do. Very 
many whales, seals and small fish, which we have 
not seen for a long time, are swimming about. Two 
or three vessels are in sight, one of which we 
boarded about two o clock. It proved to be the 
bark Isabel, of New Brunswick (New Jersey). 
From her we learned the sad news of our wreck 
off Cape Horn, and the loss of all on board. Fog 
shut out the sight of land, and at length night hid 
from our view the ocean, and we heard only the 

Il6 • ho! CALIFORNIA. Chap. IV. 

quiet ripple of the water and the cry of sea birds 
as we startled them from their repose. We turned 
in early, for we sought in the oblivion of sleep to 
shorten the night — the last night on board ! But, 
it was long before sleep would relieve us. The 
thought of so soon being able to hear from home 
oppressed me. Alternate hope and fear swelled 
into a painful anxiety. 

The morning of August 5th came, and the 
Golden Gate was before us. A thousand water 
birds were diving about, and a fine breeze bore us 
in. As the hills became more distinct, we distin- 
guished numerous cattle and horses grazing, and 
the rich green delighted us. The tide was with 
us. What hills, what an entrance, what a bay 
spread out ! We ran for a white island until we 
opened the shipping and stood for it, and dropped 
anchor in a crowd of vessels. The Captain of the 
Port came on board and took possession of the 
ship, and soon after ** Old Boreas '* came over the 
ship s side and stood on the deck. " Now, gentle- 
men, you are in California ; you can e^o on shore 
as soon as you please," was his first and only salu- 
tation. He had gone back to New York and re- 
turned over the Isthmus, anticipating our arrival 
some time, and was ready to take his ship. We 
were not waiting for an invitation to go on shore, 
but shall put our feet on terra Jirma as soon as 
God will let us. 

Thus ends our long and eventful voyage of 194 
days. We have had many difficulties, but have 
surmounted them all. We have lost no life, and 


had but little sickness. It is Sunday, and we are 
not able to get our letters. It would be difficult 
to describe the state of things here. They have 
no parallel in the history of the world. Instead of 
starvation, provisions are cheaper than at home ; 
instead of robbery and anarchy, as we expected, 
there is the best of order. There are millions of 
dollars' worth of goods lying about the hills (for as 
yet there are no regular streets), in the open air, 
without a guard, and the choicest goods are stored 
in tents ; yet no one thinks of losing anything by 
theft. The same state of things is said to exist 
throughout the country. 



Disappointment — Encamp in Happy Valley — The ship Brooklyn. 
Old Tibbets comes to grief — Burying the dead — The New 
England Mining and Trading Company disband — Up the 
Sacramento — Spend a night in a whale boat — Lost in the 
tules — Our first camp — Arrive at Sacramento city — Resolve 
to go to the head waters of the Sacramento — Joined by Capt. 
Haines and his parly — Wild grapes — Grizzly bears — A confla- 
gration — A wildcat — Shoot a California vulture — Pass an 
Indian town — Stopped by a war party — The fish wier — 
Numerous deer — Arrive at Chico Creek — Sickness and des- 
pondency — How we didn't shoot a bear — Deer Creek — Trade 
our boat for ox teams and proceed by land — Meet Capt. 
Haines at Red Bluff — Return to Sacramento. 

August rsth, i8^g, — In camp. As soon as pos- 
sible after our anchor was down we landed for our 
letters, but were told that it was not possible to 
get them on Sunday, as the Post Office was closed. 
I went to Alfred Robinson, agent for the Mail 
Steamship Company, to whom I had a letter of in- 
troduction from William H. Aspinwall, to see if he 
had any letters addressed to his care, or if some 
special favor could not be granted me that I might 
get my letters that day, but I found that I was no 
special man here. We returned to the ship to 
spend the night, as she had not been entered at 
the Custom House, and we could not remove our 
effects until she was. Early the next morning, by 
six o'clock, we were on shore and at the Post 


Office. We waited our turn in a long line, for 
several ships had arrived since the close of the 
Post Office on Saturday, and several hundred were 
there before us. Each one of our ship's company 
before me got his hands full of letters from home, 
but when my turn came, one lone letter was handed 
to me, postmarked May 26th. It was in the hand- 
writing of my mother. It told me that letters had 
been sent by private hands, but by whose hands, 
or where in the wide world that individual was, 

was hot told ; that W M was on his way 

in the Palmetto, but I had not heard of that ship. 
My disappointment was more than I could bear. 
For more than six months I had been looking for- 
ward to this day, to tell me all that had transpired 
during the long months that we had been upon the 
sea. I dropped out of the line and made my way 
as rapidly as possible to get out of sight and sound 
of anyone, to hide my disappointment. I went 
alone to the top of a hill that overlooks the en- 
trance to the bay, and looked down the straits for 
the Palmetto, but no ship was coming in. 

We are camped about half a mile south from the 
town, in Happy Valley. The sandy shore of 
the bay is in front of us, and around us are sand- 
hills covered with a low growth of evergreen oaks. 
We have four tents, and, though our fare is coarse, 
we are delighted to be on shore. Captain Tibbets 
woula give us no food on board, nor would he give 
us the stores that belonged to the company, and 
which were on board as freight. The first day 
after landing we had nothing to eat but salt pork 


(which we broiled at the camp fire on th6 end of 
sticks) and hard bread ; but we felt that we were 
free men and not slaves, and, when we had spread 
evergreens over the ground in our tents, and rolled 
ourselves up in our blankets, we had no fear that 
rats would disturb us in our sleep. 

You will hear all sorts of stories from this coun- 
try ; we do here. I will tell you in few words the 
situation of things. Provisions and goods of every 
description are cheaper than in New York. Labor 
is enormously high, though, from the great number 
of men who have not the means to go to the mines, 
it is not so high as it has been. I think the popu- 
lation of this place is about 5,000. More than 
half the houses are made of canvas, for lumber is 
very scarce. There is no law regarded but the 
natural law of justice ; and I never saw a more 
orderly state of society, where the genial influence 
of woman is not felt. I have not heard of a theft 
or crime of any sort amenable to the laws at home 
since I have been here. Fire-arms are thrown 
aside as useless, and are given away on the road. 
Game is said to be abundant, but no one has time 
to hunt. Manv who went to the mines returned 
unsuccessful, and report that the exertion in getting 
gold is too great. Some are leaving the country 
for the Sandwich Islands, in disgust. 

There are about one thousand men encamped 
along this beach, preparing to go to the mines, and 
there has been no sickness of note, although they 
have landed from a six months' voyage and are 
subject to diseases incident to the change of climate. 


The ship Brooklyn arrived yesterday. We left 
her at the Island of Juan Fernandez. Her pas- 
sengers are in a dreadful state of disease from 
scurvy ; two have died, and a dozen of them are 
buried in the sand on the shore up to their chins, 
a mode of treatment which the sailors think will 
cure them. 

One of the passengers who signed the protest 
against the removal of Captain Tibbets, at Rio de 
Janeiro, w^ent on board to look after his freight 
yesterday. He was ordered off by the Captain, 
and, thinking that he had forgotten the friendly 
act, he reminded him of it, but the ungrateful old 
Turk seized him by the throat, pushed him to the 
gangway, and threatened to throw him overboard, 
if he did not leave instantly. The man went 
ashore and made a complaint to the Alcalde, and 
old Tibbets was compelled to pay a heavy fine 

August 2^th, — It is ten days since I have writ- 
ten a line. The steamer arrived last Sunday, and 
brought letters for me. This is the Sabbath, and 
I have cleared out with a hatchet the interior of a 
clump of scrub oaks, so as to shelter me from the 
sun and yet allow the cool air to reach me, and 
where I can write without interruption. The air 
in the tent is suffocatingly warm. Yesterday I 
attended Court to give evidence in a suit against 
the Captain of the ship Brooklyn, brought by the 
passengers. Six of their number have died of 
scurvy, and many of them present a shocking ap- 
pearance. Such would have been our fate, had it 


not been for the strong love of justice shown by 
our Consul at Rio de Janeiro, unless we had killed 
the Captain and thrown him overboard before we 
passed Cape Horn, which would have been the 
alternative. Captain Richardson is tried by a Jury 
before the Alcalde, and I think he will have Jus- 
tice done him ; but what justice can be rendered 
the poor men who are dead and buried in the des- 
ert sands of this far-off shore ? It is a sad spec- 
tacle, this burial in a camp. No mourning relatives 
stand around ; we wind flags about their rough 
coffins, and bury them in the shallow graves we 
have dug for them in the sand. Who will here- 
after know their resting-place ? 

I expected the cholera in New York this season, 
and am relieved to know that it is no worse. I 
do not expect it here. Yes, tell me of the straw- 
berries and the delicious fruits, as they come and 
go with the circling year. Tell me of the fresh 
flowers; the old familiar faces; here all are strangers. 
As for fruit, I have not tasted any in California, 
and do not expect to ; even potatoes are sold at 
three shillings a pound. 

The company will wind up their affairs to-day 
and separate. I was just thinking of thti orations 
I had made at school on the wrongs of the poor 
Indian, and how wc prophesied that they would 
soon be driven to the shores of the Pacific. How 
little did I then think I would ever be here to 
drive them back, but it is even so. The Red 
man is falling eastward, and will be brought to 
bay far from here. The Pacific Ocean will not 
be his last resting-place. 


A "meeting is called to-day for the relief of those 
on their way overland ; they are said to be dying 
by hundreds from thirst and hunger upon the great 

Sacramento City, 

October 13th, 

The affairs of the company having been settled, 
it separated into small parties, and the camp at 
Happy Valley was broken up, after a stay of five 
weeks. I determined to attach myself to a com- 
pany of five friends, who had no particular plan in 
view further than to Winter in the mines. We 
purchased the company s boat — a Frances galvan- 
ized-iron one, twenty-four feet long, and five feet 
beam. Besides our tent and camp utensils, were 
rockers and other mining tools, and flasks of quick- 
silver, while all available space left was filled with 
provisions. We cut a hatchway into the forward 
air-chamber, into which we stowed our ammunition, 
medicines, and other choice articles. 

We set sail about eight o'clock on Sunday. Pass- 
ing through the crowd of shipping anchored off the 
shore, we stood out for the Island of Los Angeles, 
just discernible through the haze ; then we took 
the flood-tide and swept on into San Pablo Bay. 
The beautiful straits which connect this with Sui- 
sun Bay we nearly missed, and were being borne 
with a strong wind upon the flats to the left. The 
air was so smoky that the shores were indistinct, 
and but for the fact that a vessel was seen by 
us hugging the right shore, we might have been 

124 ^^ ^^^^^ SACRAMENTO. Chap. V. 

swamped on the flats. As it was, when we hauled 
up on the wind, the rollers were so heavy that 
our deeply-loaded boat shipped an uncomfortable 
amount of water. It was about three o'clock, in 
the afternoon, when we entered Suisun Bay. This 
we were told was dangerous to small boats. We 
overtook a whale boat, with one man in it, just 
before entering the bay, and I got in with him 
to assist in the management of his sail. His boat 
was poorly rigged, and altogether we had a bad 
time of it. The sea was very rough, but we ran 
before the wind, and managed to keep up pretty 
well with the other boat until about night-fall, 
when we reached the mouth of the river, the iron 
boat a little ahead. Her crew made signs to us 
to go on shore, and we hauled up to go to the 
same place with her. It was a muddy lee shore, 
and we could not get far enough into the tules 
to protect ourselves, so we were forced to haul 
off. We then stood for a small willow island op- 
posite. The iron boat reached it, but we could 
not manage our sail, and were driven off and com- 
pelled to continue our course. It was now^ so dark 
that those in the other boat could not see where 
we were, and thought it safest to renlain there 
until morning. We drifted on up the river four or 
five miles before we could find a place where the 
boat would lie well. At length we ran into the 
bushes and made fast. Here we ate what re- 
mained of our provisions — not enough for a coy- 
ote's supper— and, taking a pair of blankets, .we 
laid down in the bottom of the boat. I felt the 

Chap. V. NIGHT I\ A WHALE-BOAT. - 1 25 

loss of my blankets, which were in the other boat, 
for the wind was piercing cold, but my companion, 
as he tucked up the blankets around us, made his 
laconic prayer, ** May the Old Gentleman take 
good care of us," and before I had thought of such 
a thing, he was snoring lustily. I slept, too, as 
well as I could, rocking on the waves, with the 
dew drops from the bushes pattering on my face. 

We rose early the next morning and clambered 
up the largest bush to see whether in the night we 
had not taken the wrong way, as there were said 
to be many mouths to the river. We could see 
nothing but tule marshes. We endeavored to re- 
turn, but the wind was against us. Then came a 
suspicion that the iron boat might have passed us, 
so we kept on, and fastened to a brig anchored in 
the stream. This vessel had been lying there for 
three weeks, waiting for a favorable wind to get 
down. We found the Captain sick with fever, 
deserted by all but two of his men, and entirely 
destitute of provisions and quinine. His boat had 
gone down to San Francisco for relief, but had not 
returned. We had nothing for them not so 
much as a biscuit for ourselves. Learning that 
we were in the main river, we hoisted sail under 
the lee of the brig and stood off. The iron boat 
came up soon afterward. I stepped out of the 
stranger's boat, and we saw him no more. 

As we passed on, we got beyond the high winds, 
and had a delightful journey through the day. 
We passed many vessels aground that had started 
several days before us. The delta of this river is 

126 LOST IN THE TULES. Chap. V. 

very extensive, aad intersected with sloughs or 
branches that make the way difficult for those un- 
acquainted with it. We lost our way. and con- 
tinued on until two in the afternoon, but seeing no 
vessels or other signs that the stream was fre- 
quented, we stopped to lunch and deliberate. I 
never saw a more beautiful river; its banks here 
were lined with oaks, sycamores, willows, and other 
trees of genera with which my boyhood was famil- 
iar. Hawks, jays and blackbirds, cranes and 
ducks— birds of our own land — were frequent; 
and I could hardly realize at times, as we floated 
along, that I was so far from my native river. I 
climbed a sycamore to take a view of the country 
beyond the rivers banks. The timbered belt 
along the river is narrow, and beyond this the vast 
plain was covered, as far as the eye could reach, 
with tule. There were tracks of wolves and In- 
dians, but "nothing recent. Satisfied that we were 
on the wrong stream, we pulled back for ten miles 
and took another one. We soon came to what we 
thought was c2\\itA, par excellence, **The Slouch." 
For many miles we saw nothing but tule, or bul- 
rushes, about six feet high. At night-fall we came 
to another fork, and, doubtful which course to take, 
we hauled up to the shore where we saw a clump 
of trees. A dead tree made an open spot, where 
we effected a landing. With hatchet and lantern 
we cleared a place under the vines and bushes, 
built a huge fire of drift-wood, and made some cof- 
fee. By dint of pulling and lifting, we opened a 
place where we could spread our blankets, and 


spent an agreeable night — for fatigue makes sleep 
pleasant anywhere. The sun was just rising when 
we crept out of our camp; the sky was without a 
cloud, and the surface of the river was as smooth 
as a mill-pond. Away across it, the opposite bank 
was margined with bulrushes, or tule, as they are 
called here, and a white swan was sailing to and 
fro, watching, with curiosity, the strange intmsion 
on her solitude. Seeing us on the move, she dis- 
appeared among the tule. 

We started early the next morning, and were 
surprised to find that we had spent the night on 
the only piece of dry ground anywhere near. We 
were indebted in the darkness purely to accident. 
About nine o'clock, we found ourselves again in 
the main river, below where we had left it the day 
before. We continued on that day up the Sacra- 
mento — monotonous, but always beautiful -its 
banks everywhere bordered with stately trees and 
festooned with wild grape-vines so dense as to 
hide from view the back countr)\ The water was 
so clear that we could see the fish; where it was 
deep, it was of a rich green. At sundown we 
landed, built a fire, and prepared our supper. 
Soon after, a breeze springing up, we hoisted our 
sail, continued on all night, and arrived in good 
order the next morning at this canvas city. Dust, 
men, mules, oxen; bales, boxes, barrels innumera- 
ble, piled everywhere in the open air. The trees 
were all standing — magnificent great oaks — and a 
crowd of ships were fastened to the trees along the 
bank. We pitched our tent on the west bank, to 


escape from the -dustr and confusion on the other 
side. Several overland parties were camped near 
us. Here, for the first time. I saw a bird known 
as the magpie. Crows were numerous, and, un- 
like the crow at home, not afraid of being shot. 
While strolling about the camp, I was tempted to 
shoot one perched on the top of a large oak. I 
put a pistol ball through its body, and, in falling, 
it fell into the face of a man who was lying asleep 
under the tree. He was hid from my view by in- 
tervening bushes. He made such an unearthly 
outcry, that I thought I had done some dreadful 
thing, and ran up to the spot. His face and shirt- 
bosom were bloody, and he was perfectly bewil- 
dered. He thought himself shot, until the dead 
crow relieved his doubts. The affair was very 
funny, but he did not laugh a bit. 

We broke camp at Sacramento city on Sunday, 
September 15th. We stopped for the first night 
about two miles below Vernon, on a high bank, 
where we had a view of the extensive prairie, with 
its droves of wild cattle and horses; but we could 
not approach within cannon-shot of them. There 
were great numbers of quail, but none were killed. 
Vernon was the name given to a village on the 
right bank of the Sacramento, at the mouth of the 
Rio Plumas. Opposite was Fremont. A few 
tents composed these villages. Here we spent 
the most of the day in making inquiries as to our 
route. Accounts were somewhat discouraging, 
from the difficulties of the navigation of the river; 
snags, rafts, rapids and hostile Indians made the 


\ ' 

.• r 

J ■ 

> ' < 

! I 

» ' ' ' 

; ' ..I 


xresult doubtful. The last boat that tried to make 
^he trip had a conflict with Indians and returned, 
"but we resolved to attempt it. Above the mouth 
«f the Plumas, we stopped for dinner, and waited 
for another boat — the Alicia — with a party of 
seven Ohio men, led by Captain J. W. Haines, 
ivhom we met at the mouth of the Feather River, 
iind who had decided to accompany us. We ad- 
vanced ten miles farther, and went into camp for 
the night. 

The river was very winding, and rapids were 
frequent, with long reaches of still, deep water, 
walled in by unbroken and unvarying green. We 
were constantly driving up black cormorants and 
other varieties of ducks. Grapes were very abun- 
dant and of fine flavor; they were about the size 
of our fox-gfrape. but not so sour. We would run 
our boat under the overhanging trees, and one of 
us would go up and drop the fruit into the boat. 
We could gather a bushel in a few minutes. Our 
boats kept close together for protection, as we 
were now far from settlements of white men. 
Tracks of grizzlies and elk were frequent; few 
were the traces of men. Occasionally the dead 
embers of an old camp fire were met with on the 
banks, and they were the only evidences that any 
one had preceded us. We traveled in such a way 
as to escape the extreme heat of the midday sun. 
On Tuesday, we encamped for nooning in a dry 
ravine. The undergrowth about the place was 
very dense, and the accumulation of drift-wood 
made it impenetrable. Acting upon a wanton im- 

130 GRIZZLY BEARS. Chap. V. 

pulse, I applied a match, and in a few minutes the 
whole thicket was roaring and crackling in flames. 
The profound solitude of the place made it more 
startling, and we hurried away as fast as we could. 
I had no idea of the destmction that little fire 
would cause. In the afternoon we saw a grizzly- 
bear scrambling up the steep bank. We landed 
at the spot, and when the Alicia came up we all 
went into the thicket and surrounded the place 
where he entered. Haines and myself went in to 
beat him out, but he had made good his retreat. 
We found an oak from which he had stripped the 
acorns, and we were puzzled to tell how he did it. 
The ground was strewn with fresh leaves and little 
branches. Encamped that night on a high bank 
among vetch-vines. Signs of grizzlies were too 
plenty for our quiet repose. 

On Thursday we passed a stream coming in on 
the right, which we thought, from our directions, 
to be Butte Creek, but we afterward learned we 
were mistaken. A wildcat seated on the gravelly 
bar was fired at with a load of buckshot. Willie 
was certain he had killed the cat, and we were all 
sure that the cat sat there in the sun at the mo- 
ment he fired; but, upon examination of the spot, 
there was no trace of the beast, except some long 
scratches in the gravel. Just before night, Mark 
shot a large bird in the top of a tree, which we 
thought was a wild turkey. It was directly over 
our heads, and fell into the water alongside the 
boat. It measured nine feet from tip to tip of 
wings, and its head and neck were bare of feathers 


and of yellow color. It was of the vulture family, 
though we pronounced it a **golden eagle," for 
want of a better name. We made an early en- 
campment, in order to give the other boat time to 
get in before dark. 

The following day the current was less rapid, 
and considerable progress was made. The Alicia 
led, and went into camp early to have a hunt. 
Haines shot a fat doe about a mile from camp, and 
we had a good supply of the best of meat, of 
which we were in great need. Before sunrise the 
next morning, a thin film of mist extended over 
the undulating plain, but during the day we saw 
Indian signs, and kept a bright lookout. 

The following day, about ten o'clock, four In- 
dians stood suddenly on the bank; all naked, ex- 
cept one, who had a cap on his head. We spoke 
to them in Spanish, of which Whiting knew a lit- 
tle, but they made no reply, nor could we tell 
whether they were friendly or not. Soon after 
the number increased to something near a hundred 
men and boys, running along the bank to keep up 
wMth our boat. Soon the other bank was swarm- 
ing, and among them we distinguished one dressed 
in the Spanish costume; also another, an old man, 
with a blue shirt, who, from the deference paid 
him by the others, we concluded was the head 
chief His face had a benignant expfession, that 
prepossessed me in his favor. He asked in Span- 
ish, *'What do you want here?" Wc made no 
reply to his question, but rested on our oars, and 
asked him, in the most innocent manner, **How 


far is it to the head waters of the river?" He re- 
plied, **Who knows?'' Things looked threatening, 
but I could not help laughing when that old dis- 
tich popped into my mind: 

" O, Mister Indian, don't shoot me. 
For I've got a wife and small family." 

After eyeing each other for awhile, we threw 
some biscuit into the water, which a young Indian 
swam for. We pulled on, and they did not follow 
us farther. About noon we stopped for dinner. 
We put our arms in readiness, and when we started 
again every man had his gun at his side. Soon 
after, we saw two armed Indians walking tow^ard 
us on a bar close to which we were compelled to 
pass, and talking in a very serious and authorita- 
tive manner; but we could not tell what was 
meant. One speaker was dressed in blue shirt 
and pants, with a red sash; the other was naked. 
We stopped. One Indian after another appeared 
from the willows, until there were a dozen of them, 
all armed. Their weapons were bows and arrows 
and spears. We were confident that w-e could 
beat them in a battle, but fighting was not the 
business we came on; and, besides, we knew that 
they could ambuscade us at almost any bend of 
the river, and kill us all, sooner or later, so we 
were not long in coming to the conclusion that our 
policy was peace. As their object seemed to be 
to demand a parley, we pulled boldly up to the 
bar, jumped ashore, and shook hands. We gave 
them fish hooks, calico shirts, and other trifles. 
They gave us grapes, which they call vaiimee, and 


which were not so abundant as lower down the 
river. They put all the gifts into a pile, and each 
in turn took his choice, the chief taking a silk 
scarf. They put on their gay attire and trinkets 
of beads, strutted around awhile, and then, strip- 
ping themselves naked, swam across the river and 
returned toward the village we had passed. We 
were a little fearful of treachery, and for the first 
time we posted sentries. The night passed qui- 
etly, however, nor did we see any more of our 

On Friday we camped two miles below the In- 
dian fisher)', where the overland route by Lassen's 
cut-off touches the river. Here were many In- 
dians who had frequent intercourse with the whites, 
and from them we bought salmon. As yet we 
had not been able to catch any fish. The next 
morning we stopped at the fish weir. This is a 
strong dam, made of poles planted upright, and 
bound together with withes. It is the same that 
is described in "Wilkes' Exploring Expedition." 
Here, to our great regret, the Alida left us, to re- 
turn. The men were suffering much from fever. 

The Indians opened a place in their dam for our 
boat to crowd through, but in doing so we unship- 
ped our rudder and drifted down broadside upon 
the dam in the strongest part of the current. By 
getting a line ashore we succeeded in hauling off. 
We paid the Indians in fish-hooks for the damage 
we did them, and they were well satisfied. When 
we stopped for dinner, the Indians swam the river 
and gathered around us. When we had finished. 

134 NUMEROUS DEER. Chap. V. 

we tendered the remainder to them, which they 
devoured with avidity. 

We encamped late on a high bank, where was 
an extensive view of the prairie. Several of the 
party being indisposed, we spent two nights at this 
encampment. Our tent was pitched directly on 
the spot where deer had been accustomed to come 
to drink. They stood in a semicircle around us all 
the forenoon, well out of range. We could not 
get a shot at them for want of cover to approach 
them, and I suppose for want of skill. They were 
very shy. The second night we discovered the 
prairie on fire, and we could see the forms of 

Indians between us and the flames. We had seen 


Indians gathering acorns when ^we landed here, 
but they ran off as fast as they could. At first 
the flames spread toward us fast, but, finding that 
they were dying out, we all fell asleep. The tracks 
of bears that we saw so frequently were truly 
enormous. One that we saw here measured eight 
inches in breadth. The oaks were also very large ; 
one was nearly twenty-five feet in circumference. 
We broke camp early, and worked diligently at 
the oars, but made slow progress ; rapids occurred 
frequently. We found it necessary to get out into 
the water and tow, every half mile. The water 
was clear but cold. To-day our boat was carried 
upon a snag, broadside to the current, and all our 
efforts at extricating her were for a long time un- 
successful. At length we were brought to a com- 
plete stop. A raft of logs completely barred our 
way, and our axes were brought into play. The 


work was tedious, but finally we cut a channel for 
our boat. 

Indians were more numerous, but uniformly 
friendly when they were courageous enough to ap- 
proach us. Our efforts to get the boat along were 
almost incredible. VV^e worked with desperation, 
but with good spirits. We took some young In- 
dians to tow us along. It was great fun for them 
for a while, and they ran along shouting, but when 
they came to a sharp rapid their enthusiasm died 
out, and they stopped. It was too much like work. 
When we went into camp the Indians gathered 
around us in the best of humor. The revolver was 
new to them. We fired at a tree, and, as one bar- 
rel after another was fired, they continued to back 
off, until at length one of them started to run, and 
the rest, to prove their own courage, all laughed at 
him. We entertained them well, and when they 
left us they gave a general shout. Soon after we 
visited one of their villages. The acorns, which 
are a great article of food with the natives, were 
now ripe, and they were curing them for Winter 
store. They dry them with the shells off, and 
pack them in layers in willow cribs. Seeds are 
used by them, also, and the regular beat of their 
flails was heard by us early and late. We bought 
some salmon, and went on. 

On September 30th we arrived at Chico Creek, 
and went off about six miles from the river to a 
rancho, kept by a man named Potter, in order to 
procure some milk, of which we had not tasted for 
nine months, and of which some of our sick were 


in great need. We mef with no courtesy, and were 
refused any milk for less than $6 for a gallon. As 
we had not so much money about us, we returned 
without the milk. Here we got news from below. 
The Oregon had arrived, had brought no mail, but 
the very disagreeable news that the cholera was 
raging among my dear friends at home. We re- 
turned to camp, moved on about six miles, and 
encamped again. The two Hopkins' were taken 
sick with fever, and we were all very much worn 
down. Here the most gloomy feelings took pos- 
session of me, but after a couple of days my man- 
hood got the better of them. 

Our encampment was beautiful. The distant 
mountains began to show themselves, and wild 
ducks, geese and antelope were very numerous, 
while we were supplied with a profusion of grapes. 
The scenery on the river changed entirely. In- 
stead of alluvial soil, the banks were composed of 
hard clay mixed with pebbles, looking like con- 
glomerate rock ; the river bed became rocky, and 
willows and cottonwoods skirted the river about 
half the distance. That day we made some pro- 
gress, but lost our afternoon's work. We were 
nearly through a rapid when the current got a 
sheer on the boat, and, in spite of all we could do, 
we were thrown broadside on the bar. When we 
got our craft into the channel again, it was so late 
that we drifted down to our noon camp ground 
before we could find a fit place to spend the night. 
We passed a grizzly on the bank. He was close 
to the edge of the water in rank grass, and as we 


were drifting down upon him silently, we prepared 
to give him a volley. He did not see us, and we 
felt sure of him, when, just before we got within 
shot, Whiting took it into his head that he saw an 
^'animal" — it was almost dark — and fired at a crane 
standing in the water near. The bear raised his 
nose into the air and loped off into the willows. 
We were very much provoked, but made a dinner 
of the crane. 

We arrived, after three weeks of boating, at 
Lassens Rancho, at the mouth of Deer Creek. 
No boat had ever before ascended the river so 
far, and I doubt if six fools can be found who will 
do it again. Here we exchanged our boat with 
some overland men for two wagons and a small 
herd of oxen, intending to go on by land. Hun- 
dreds were coming in daily from over the moun- 
tains, sick, destitute, and almost starved. They 
met here with harpies to prey upon them, and they 
were often compelled to sell their teams for food 
enough to last them down to Sacramento city. 
Quinine was in great demand, for which they charged 
$ I a grain ! I gave away a great part of my 
supply to these poor fellows, and felt a consciousness 
of having done some good. At this camp the 
first rain of the season fell ; it continued three days, 
and was cold. The atmosphere, that had been so 
smoky as almost to obscure the sun, now cleared 
off, and a complete change came over the land- 
scape ; but with the fall of rain our spirits fell, and 
one after another had intermittent fever. With 
the improvement in the weather our spirits revived, 

138 TRADE OUR BOAT. Chap. V. 

and we set out to continue our journey up the 
valley by land. 

It was impossible to proceed further with the 
boat, as the river bed was full of bowlders, and the 
river itself was little better than a continous rapid. 
We therefore traded our boat away to a party of 
overland men, for two wagons and a small drove 
of worn-out oxen — honest, hard-working country- 
men of ours — Spot, Bright, Brandy, Polk and Dal- 
las, Lion, Dave, Bill, and others. I had a hand in 
driving them, tpo — "Gee, Bill!" *'Haw, Dave!" — 
but I could not beat the poor brutes, that had sur- 
vived the journey over the plains; and old Bright, 
I have no doubt, feels a heap of gratitude for the 
defense I made in his behalf when a nautical man 
in our company belabored him unmercifully for 
inability to clamber up the steep bank of the Yuba, 
with him on his back and a wagon at his heels, 
and the ability which he used, as any sensible crea- 
ture would have done, to throw the son of Nep- 
tune into his own element. 

We parted from our boat with regret — it had 
borne us in many an adventure by sea, and carried 
us safely through all the rapids and snags of the 
Sacramento, bruised and battered, but unbroken — 
crossed the creek and proceeded about three miles, 
when it was found that the sick could not endure 
the riding, and the teams were not strong enough 
for the load. We returned two miles below our 
old camp ground, where the animals could find 
grass. After two days' rest, we procured an addi- 
tional number of worn-out oxen, and continued our 


journey. Our progress was slow over the dry 
roads, and we camped from place to place as we 
found water and food for the cattle. Whiting was 
taken sick and placed with the baggage. At every 
place where the road came near water were camps 
of overland men, all sick, and sometimes so feeble 
as to be dependent upon passers-by for water. 
Few were well, and the farther we advanced the 
worse matters became. 

We forded the river and followed the. west bank 
until the road led over a hilly country, where the 
river banks became very high and the waters 
brawled far below among the bowlders. Near 
Cottonwood Creek we were met by Capt. Haines, 
who led the Alicia party, and who left us at the 
fish weir. He had returned to the city of Sacra- 
mento, exchanged his boat for mules, and entered 
the mountains three weeks before us. He had 
left his party scattered along the way, sick, and 
was returning alone, jaundiced and emaciated. 
We could rely implicitly on his statements, and 
though we were within one day's journey of the place 
of our destination, yet, from his representation of 
the poverty of the country in everything desirable — 
even for food necessary to support cattle for a sin- 
gle day, of the impracticability of supporting our- 
selves through the Winter, and other reasons— we 
took a vote on the question of proceeding, and. 
unanimously resolved to return. We immediately 
turned our teams about and directed our steps back 
to Sacramento city. 

I have not time to dwell on the events of the 


journey down. Our provisions were reduced to a 
little corn-meal, and that was sour — all the alkalies 
available in my medicine chest jvere exhausted to 
correct the evil. Cayenne pepper was the only 
condiment. At one of our camps we found the 
bones of an ox that had been stripped of its flesh 
and perfectly dried. Breaking the long bones 
with an axe, we extracted the marrow and made a 
soup, which we thickened with the meal, and made 
a good dinner. A few days after, Mark was so 
fortunate as to break the back of a young doe with 
a buckshot. While looking for grapes at a place 
where the road passed near a slough, I had a nar- 
row escape from a grizzly bear. I was unarmed, 
and if I had not been, it would probably have been 
the worse for me. Our road down was that taken 
by the overland men; they all cursed Lassen's cut- 
off, and said that it had cut off the lives of a great 
many of them. Little hillocks were common, with 
sticks planted in them, on which were written in 
pencil the names of the deceased — all to be swept 
away by the first rain. They were very melan- 
choly spots to us, these uncoffined graves. We 
went one hundred and fifty miles farther up the river 
than Wilkes' party reported the river navigable for 
boats; we endured much from fatigue, hunger, thirst 
and sickness, yet we never reached the gold mines. 
.We undertook too much; we relied upon our reso- 
lution to overcome difficulties of which we had no 
•experience. As soon as I arrived in town I went 
to a barber's shop and paid a dollar to be shaved, 
for the sake of reading the papers — a few numbers 


of old Tribunes and Heralds, I went on board 
the bark Phwuix, to see Mr. Niles, and ate pota- 
toes, squash, and bread and butter. The first, I 
had not eaten since the 4th of July; the second, 
since I left home; and the other, since— when. -^ 
He gave me a berth, and for the first time in four 
months I pulled off my clothes to sleep. The 
next day it rained, and I could not get back to our 
camp, which was across the American Fork. I 
returned after two days, attended by a diarrhcjta 
and chills and fever, of course. I then made ar- 
rangements to leave my nomad life, and returned 
to town. I had proposals from two physicians in 
practice here to join them in the establishment of 
a hospital. One of these propositions I accepted; 
but I had an attachment served upon me — in other 
words, I was taken down sick with fever. 

SacramentOy Ncnwmber iglJi,— Our house is a 
wooden one, and keeps off the rain. It is made 
of miscellaneous pieces of boards from dry goods 
boxes, and is about six feet wide by twelve feet 
long. A curtain drawn across the middle divides 
it into a sleeping-room and office. When I passed 
through this place, in September, there were not 
more than half a dozen wooden houses in the city, 
with a population, chiefly floating, of about five 
thousand. There are now several hundred build- 
ings, and the place is thronged with miners, who 
are driven from the mines by want of provisions, 
which are difficult to transport on account of the 
state of the roads. The early rains came heavier 
than expected and caught the miners unprepared; 


consequently, thousands more will be compelled to 
leave the mines and crowd the towns located on 
navigable streams. Building material cannot be 
obtained fast enough to efect shelter from the 
storms. Many persons are preparing to Winter 
in their tents, by covering them over with pitch. 
The consequence will be, that there must be a 
great amount of suffering and sickness this Winter. 

The number of cattle brought over by the over- 
land men was very large, and the supply of feed 
for them is so nearly exhausted that they die in 
immense numbers after they have successfully 
crossed the deserts and the Sierra. Many lie dead 
by the roads; and around ponds and sloughs, 
where they have gone for water, they lie in groups, 
having been too feeble to extricate their feet from 
the mire. Now the roads are so muddy that 
wagons are abandoned where they are mired, by 
men who have come down from the mines for sup- 
plies for their companies, and are unable to return. 

There is generally good order, and men bear up 
with cheerfulness. All who are settled in business 
are making money; but, alas! for the many unfor- 
tunates. You have heard of the Battle of Life — 
it is a reality here; the fallen are trampled into the 
mud, and are left to the tender mercies of the 
earth and sky. No longer ago than last night, I 
saw a man lying on the wet ground, unknown, 
unconscious, uncared for, and dying. To-day, 
some one, with more humanity than the rest, will 
have a hole dug for him; some one else will fur- 
nish an old blanket; he will be rolled up and 

Chap. V. DEPRAVITY. 1 43 

buried, and his friends at home, who may be as 
anxious about him as mine are about me, will never 
know his fate. Money, money, is the all-absorb- 
ing object. There are men here who would hang 
their heads at home at the mention of their heart- 
less avarice. What can be expected from stran- 
gers, when men s own friends will abandon them 
because they sicken and become an incumbrance? 
There is no government, no law. Whatever de- 
pravity there is in a man s heart now shows itself 
without fear and without restraint. 

144 MY OPINION. Chap. VI. 


Thoup^hts about California — A sad case — Build a hospital — 
Bayard Taylor — The rainy season— Suffering — The flood — 
Burying the dead — A maniac — Cannon makes an experiment 
and narrowly escapes drowning — The waters recede — Trinity 
River — Accounts from the mines — Experience of miners — 
Letter from a disappointed one — The overland men — See a 
woman — Approiich of Spring — Fate of Potter — Flowers — 
Organization of a Medical Society — Slavery in California — 

I know that many will inquire my opinion of 
California. I have thus far said but little, even 
new. It is not an unpleasant country for a resi- 
dence. With the comforts one could bring with 
him from the States, few places would be more 
desirable than a choice location on the banks of 
the Sacramento. The greatest drawback is the 
long dry season. The rains have been frequent 
since the first of the month, and grass is growing 
finely. The weather is cool, but we have not yet 
felt the want of fire. For several days it has been 
ver)'^ pleasant, and the roads are quite passable. 
The Spring is said to make a perfect flower garden 
of the whole country. Yet, there are few who 
intend to make this country a permanent residence; 
some are going for their families, and the society 
will be much improved. 

Chap. VI. A SAD CASE. 1 45 

So far as making money here is concerned, it is 
easily done by those who are calculated for it. Too 
large expectations and too little knowledge of diffi- 
culties to be encountered has caused so much dis- 
appointment and misfortune. It requires a great 
deal of determined perseverance under the most 
tr^'ing circumstances to insure success, and then 
one must have health. Those not thus qualified 
have succeeded by good luck, while the persevering 
and healthy have failed. 

One of our passengers— a young man of refine- 
ment and of excellent family in New York -asked 
me, the other day, if we could furnish him with 
employment in the hospital in any capacity. He 
had brought out a stock of goods, but, for want of 
energy, had allowed the season to pass, looking for 
fortune to come to. him, but such things do not 
happen in this country oftener than elsewhere. 

A most melancholy instance of the weakness of 
some young men, when the restraints and support 
of friends are removed, occurred last evening. A 
well dressed young man was seen, very drunk. 
lying on the ground, and a couple of bo\'s we have 
with us took him to a shelter and medical aid was 
rendered him, but he died and was buried. No 
one knew him. He had an ounce of gold in his 
pocket, a note book and a Hible. To-day he was 
recognized by these relics as coming from Hing- 
hampton (New York), the pride of the village- - 
noble, generous and gifted. He drank, gambled 
his money away, and drank deeper to drown his 
trouble. The friends, who claim his effects as his 


administrators, showed his Bible here to-night. It 
is the smallest edition, with gilt edges and tucks. 
In one place was a beautiful card, on which was 
written, with a lady s hand, ** Remember your 

friend and ." In another was a card, worked 

with worsted and mounted with silk ribbon, to be 
used as a book mark ; the motto was, " A sister s 
prayers go with you.'' It is a case well calculated 
to stir ones sympathies. If you have a friend 
who is anxious to come to California and he be 
not a man of stern virtue, advise him to stay at 
home. There will be an immense amount of gold 
dug next season, without a doubt, and there will 
be many going home discouraged and destitute. 
A few will go home with higher virtue and char- 
acters, formed in the refiner s fire ; but by far the 
greater number will return with gold, perhaps, but 
with morals and manners ruined, with feelings and 
habits that will make them poor members of society. 
The risk is too great for the reward. I can think 
of but very few men whom I would advise to come 
to California. 

We have agreed with Priest; Lee & Co. for the 
construction of a hospital building, on the corner 
of K and Third streets, to be substantially built of 
Oregon pine, fifty-five by thirty-five feet, one and 
a-half story high. There will be a main hall 
through the building, with an apothecary's office 
and dining-room on one side and eight private- 
wards on the other. The building will be of rouglu 
boards inside, as turned over to us, and we will 
line the private wards with muslin, the way houses 

Chap. VI. BAYARD TAYLOR. 1 47 

are finished off here interiorly. The rent will be 
$1,500 a month. We have engaged an apothecary 
at $300, and a cook at $250. a month. 

We had an election on the 1 3th, and carried the 
Free State Constitution by an immense majority. 

N(roember 2^th, — Bayard Taylor, the poet, called 
on me two or three days since, and spent the after- 
noon; took tea with me, and we talked all the 
evening. I am delighted with him. He called 
again last evening to take his leave, and gave me 
some papers. 

We board, until our building is finished, at Fow- 
ler s Hotel, and pay $24 a week for our meals. I 
have procured the prices of some sorts of provis- 
ions, in order to show what we eat, as well as what 
they cost. Beef, or grizzly bear, and onions, fifty 
cents a pound; elk, thirty; venison, twenty-five; 
potatoes, thirty; poor butter, one dollar and a half. 
Salt provisions and ship stores are too plenty to 
pay storage ; they are not in demand, on account 
of the prevailing bowel complaints, and are often 
used to fill sloughs where the roads cross them. 

No letters have yet come to hand, and I may 
have to go down to San Francisco for them, as 
every messenger disappoints me. The fare down 
is $40. 

December 2jd, — We are at last in our new hos- 
pital building. It is, without doubt, the finest 
building in Sacramento. We have just opened, 
and are not yet complete in our arrangements. 
It is said to have cost the proprietors $15,000, and 
is no better than a barn at home that could be 



built for $2,000. It is finished inside with bleached 
muslin, except the main ward, which is a garret, 
with half windows on the side and two full windows 
at each gable. 

The people at home can have no conception of 
the amount of suffering in the vicinity of this city. 
Hundreds are encamped in tents, through the rains 
and storms, scantily supplied with food and cover- 
ing. Many were driven from the mines for want 
of food, and are begging for employment, asking 
only subsistence. Yesterday there were twenty- 
five deaths. The sickness does not arise from the 
severity of the climate, which is no colder than 
November at home, but from a complication of 
causes. The intermittents of the Autumn are ag- 
gravated by overwork, scanty and bad food, dis- 
appointment, and home-sickness. Men, in the 
ravings of delirium, call upon friends who are far 
off, and, dying, mutter the names of their loved 
ones; men, wasting away with chronic disease, lose 
their manhood, and weep often, like children, to 
see their mothers once more. It is a great satis- 
faction to us to give them shelter and other things, 
for the want of which they are dying. Our enter- 
prise commands the respect of the people, and we 
are determined to deserve it, so that if we are 
bankrupted it will be in a good cause. I fancy ^ 

M wishing to help us with her needle!? 

Much need there was and is of needles, but w 
are becoming quite adept. I have sewed my fin 
gers sore. There are a number of respectabl 
women in the city, but we renegades from ou 


own have no claim upon them, and are banded 
together like monks. There is nothing here to 
remind me of Christmas; the thermometer stands 
at '* temperate," and rain is falling. 

January iithy 1850, — We are witnesses of 
another act in the great drama of Californian ad- 
ventures. Perhaps, before this reaches you, you 
will be informed of the calamitous flood that is 
now spreading destruction and death through the 
valley. We are all, about forty of us, in the upper 
stor}' of our hospital — Dr. Morse and myself writ- 
ing, Dr. Higgins (of Kentucky) reading Lamar- 
tine*s ** Raphael," the cook preparing something 
for breakfast, two or three other friends, quartered 
with us, talking in an under tone, some asleep, and 
a few patients muttering in delirium. A lone 
woman, sick and destitute, is curtained off in the 
corner of the room. She lost her husband on the 
plains, and has been supporting herself, with the 
assistance of a few friends, until the flood drove 
her out. She was brought here, with six men, the 
night before last. Some are dying on the floor; 
others, dead, are sewed up in blankets and sunk in 
the water in a room on the first floor. Dr. Morse 
pours some brandy in his ink, to give spirit to his 
letter; I pour from another bottle standing on the 
table, containing laudanum, to quiet the apprehen- 
sions that mine may awaken ; then we all laugh, 
and go on as before. 

January 12th, — The water is still rising. Tents, 
houses, boxes, barrels, horses, mules and cattle are 
sweeping by with the swollen torrent, that is now 

150 THE FLOOD. Cuap. VI. 

spread out in a vast sea farther than the eye can 
reach. There are few two-story houses, and as 
the water rose, which it did at the rate of six 
inches an hour, men were compelled to get out- 
side. To-day there is no first floor in the city 
uncovered, and but for the vessels in the river, 
now all crowded with people, there is no telling 
what numbers must have perished. 

What a night was that of the 9th of January! 
A warm rain from the south melted the snow on 
the Sierra, and the river during the day rose rap- 
idly, and about midnight began to overflow its 
banks. We took warning and cleared our first 
floor as fast as we could. Fortunately, our second 
floor is spacious, and by midnight everything was 
off* the lower floor that could be injured by water. 
As the flood continued to rise, we have continued 
to bring i^p things, so that as yet we have sus- 
tained no great loss, except, in the white linings 
and curtains of our private wards, in which we 
have taken so much pride. Men continue to come, 
begging to be taken in, or bringing some valuables 
for safe keeping. Now that the doorways are in- 
accessible, they come in boats to the second-story 
windows. We take only the sick, and none such 
are refused. To-day we went out in a boat to 
find some blankets, but in vain. We returned 
with some drift-wood for fuel. All sorts of mean 
are in use to get about — bakers' troughs, rafts, an 
India rubber beds. There is no sound of gong^^ 
or dinner bells in the city. The yelling for help^ 
by some man on a roof, or clinging to some wrecl<^ 


— the howling of a dog abandoned by his master — 
the boisterous revelry of men in boats, who find 
all they want to drink floating free about them— 
make the scene one never to be forgotten. After 
dark we see only one or two lights in the second 
city of California. I think the worst is now over, 
though the water is still gaining on us. The wind 
may rise and cause a heavy sea; this I conceive 
to be our greatest danger. We are in an ocean 
of water, and our building may be too frail to resist 
a strong wind with, waves. The steamer Saiator 
carried down all the people that could crowd on 
board, and we are in hopes of aid from below in 
time. I have some misgivings about our fate, but 
sure I am that we will not desert the sick, and if 
we are swept away, we will all go together. 

It is late, and for two days and nights I have 
not slept. I shall now lie down, and if the worst 
comes, I have taken precautions to have you get 
this letter. 

Sunday, yanuary ijt/t, — The water has not 
risen or fallen since yesterday, nor have we had 
any high wind. Yesterday we found it necessary 
to bury the dead. I spoke a whale boat that was 
passing, made an agreement for the use of it in 
the afternoon for $40, and deposited three bodies 
in it. They had been sewed up in blankets and 
sunk in the first story. We fished them up with 
a hook and line, and laid them in the bottom of 
the boat — two white men and a negro. Mr. Mul- 
ford — a yale College man, who is staying with us 
and watching the sick, and in other ways paying 


his board — Mr. Cannon, the druggist, and myself, 
with the two sailors owning the boat, started for 
land, which we could see with a glass from our 
window in a south-easterly direction from the town. 
Of course, coffins were out of the question, and we 
dug a large, square grave, at the foot of an oak. 
The two white men we placed side by side, and 
the black man across at their feet. In digging the 
grave we found a large root of the tree intersect- 
ing the pit in both directions, as if two sticks had 
been placed across each other at right angles, and 
had grown together in that position. By chop- 
ping it off at the ends, the root formed a perfect 
cross, which we planted at the head of the grave, 
and then covered the mound with the soft, green 
sod. The day was beautiful; the meadow larks 
and blackbirds were flying about us in great num- 
bers, and along the shores wild geese were feeding 
on the young grass. Sutter's Fort was about a 
mile distant. 

To-day two more poor emaciated remains have 
been deposited below. The weather is cooler and 
the water is falling a little. The vessels on the 
river are all crowded with people, and some cases 
of typhus or ship-fever have occurred. The high 
ground near the fort is covered with tents, dogs 
and cattle. In this vicinity there has been but 
little loss of human life by drowning, that I have 
heard of, though it seemed unavoidable. Had 
there been many women and children, results 
would have been otherwise. Cattle, however, 
have perished in immense numbers. 

Chap. VI. A MANIAC. 1 53 

On my return to-day from a visit to the bark 
Phoenix, to see a typhoid-fever patient, I found 
one of those admitted yesterday furiously insane. 
He broke a window and tried to jump out into 
the water, and, hailing a boat, offered fifty dollars 
to be taken to the bark Mousam, from which ves- 
sel he had been sent. Dr. Morse was making 
arrangements for putting him in a straight-jacket, 
and I went to him to find some solution for so 
sudden a paroxysm. He had seen the dying 
around him, and .the dead carried out in their 
burial blankets — for everything has to be done in 
one room— had become melancholy, and finally 
maniacal. I talked sympathizingly with him and 
tried to win his confidence. As I leaned over him 
he looked steadfastly in my face for a long time, 
and then said, *' Doctor, you have an honest face, 
but, O, my God !" — and he covered his face with 
his hands for some time; then, in a tone of awful 
mystery, he said there were strange things going 
on in the house. He spoke of his wife and chil- 
dren in Hudson, in a frenzy of affection, and said 
he should die and never see them more. When I 
turned from his bed, he took my hand in both of 
his, and begged me to be his friend, as I had a 
wife that I loved. I assured him that I would do 
anything in the world for him, if he would keep 
quiet and not disturb the other sick people. **0! 
Doctor, you can do all I want done for me. You 
see, I could jump from that window and drown 
myself, but then my family would lose the benefit 
of a life insurance for $i,ooo. Now," said he in a 


whisper that could not be heard at the next bed, 
"you can arrange it for me so that there will be no 
trouble. You can give me something in a cup of 
tea that will let me go, and my family will be all 
right.'' I assured Mm, in the same confidential 
tone, that the thing could be easily done if he was 
fiilly convinced that it was best; but the danger to 
me would be from his repentance when it would 
be too late, and in the agonies of death he would 
betray me; that I was not in a hurry to die, and, 
least of all, by the halter. He said he would keep 
the secret, and called on God to witness. After 
allowing him to persuade me for some time, I con- 
sented to grant his request on certain conditions. 
He should, when the tea was prepared, drink it 
without speaking, lie down immediately and make 
no sound, though he should suffer the tortures of 
the damned. The conditions were accepted. I 
then prepared a cup of black tea, and in it dis- 
solved a full dose of the sulphate of morphia, and 
with an air of unconcern I handed him the tea. 
He took it in his hand as he rose to a sitting pos- 
ture in his bed, and, looking with close scrutiny 
into my face, he said: *'You are fooling me!" 
"Give me the cup," I said, with an air of offended 
honor that gave him to understand that he had 
violated his oath. He instantly drank the con- 
tents of the cup, and fell back upon his pillow with 
his eyes closed. When I returned to him a half 
hour after, he was in a deep sleep. It is now two 
o'clock in the morning, my watch is up, my maniac 
is sleeping heavily, and I must sleep too. 


January 14th. — My portfolio arrived this after- 
noon by the last trip of the India-rubber bed, by 
means of which we have established a system of 
internal navigation between the various apart- 
ments on the first floor. We came near losing 
our apothecary to-day. He was experimenting 
with a new mode of navigation in the main hall of 
the building. He had procured a butter barrel, 
which had a square hole cut in the side big enough 
to admit his body by a little squeezing, and started 
off from the stairs, holding on to the siding for 
support. He had not gone many feet when he 
capsized and hung head down, unable to extricate 
himself Peter, who is a good swimmer, went to 
his rescue, and Cannon came out looking as if he 
was ashamed that he was not drowned. 

The water is falling a little. I have been read- 
ing to my maniac some passages of your last let- 
ter. He is quite rational and calm to-day, but it 
does not answer to lead his thoughts toward his 

January 2jcl, — The water has left the floor, 
though it is three or four feet in depth around the 
house. We found four barrels of pork, one of 
beef, and a case of wine on our premises, that were 
not there when the flood came. We don't hesi- 
tate to appropriate them as a contribution to the 
support of the many destitute people thrown upon 

January 24th, — All things go on swimmingly, 
but not in the same sense that they did early in 
the month. To-day, six more poor emaciated vie- 


tims of chronic diarrhoea were brought to us. 
They were found accidentally in a canvas house,^ 
when the inundation had reached their beds, and 
for two weeks have been lying on the wet ground, 
without fire; two days, they tell us, they were 
without food. We have purchased a bale of blan- 
kets, and are able to throw away many old ones, 
as we cannot get them washed. We have de- 
manded assistance from the City Council, for as 
yet we have not had a dollar from any quarter 
since the flood. Thus far we have had to pay our 
expenses by a few pay-patients and outside prac- 
tice. Of those who are destitute, and who get 
well, we take their notes; if they die, we take a 
check on Heaven. 

Sac7'amento City, ^afiuary jist. — It is well that 
we did not succeed, last Fall, in reaching the Trin- 
ity River. Strong, Hale and Pool followed us 
with mules, and got so well into the mountains 
that they were, unable to return before the rains 
set in. Their supply of provisions failing, they 
were sorely put to it for food, and were compelled 
to subsist on acorns and crows, for they were so 
hemmed in by Indians that they could not hunt, 
except in force, and that is not the way to get deer 

The river heretofore known as the Trinity, 
proves to be a branch only, and the other branches 
abound with the precious metal. Of this river but 
little has been known. A vessel is about to start 
for its mouth with stores and an armament for a 
fort. I have conversed with a man who visited 
the main Trinity, and he had so great success that 


he will return as soon as the roads are open. It 
rises among the mountains, near the head waters 
of the Sacramento, and flows west. The access 
to it has been over the mountains, by a difficult 
and dangerous route; but to. a true Californian, 
nothing is difficult or dangerous, except grizzlies. 

There seems to be a great delusfon at home 
about California, if I am to judge by the papers. 
I was deceived in some respects; the healthfulness 
and beauty of the country was exaggerated by the 
early explorers; but of its resources in gold, I as- 
sure you the half has not been told. There will 
be more gold dug the coming season than all that 
has been dug before. The few who have come 
down from the mines bring the most glowing ac- 
counts. The crowds of miners are sjjireading to 
the sources of tire streams and marking off their 
ground for operations when the season opens, and 
leaving their old grounds, where other men will go 
and work the claims over, and do as well, or bet- 
ter, than the first operators. Another reason why 
more gold will be obtained is, because more per- 
sons understand mining operations better. They 
know better what is wanted, and make their ar- 
rangements accordingly. 

I am not surprised that so many went home dis- 
gusted. One of the first lessons learned by a 
stranger, on landing here, is that gold washing is 
very hard work. That is what a large part of 
mankind do not relish, and many will not pursue 
fortune at such inconvenience. It suits them bet- 
ter to get it after some more laborious man has 


gathered it ; so, you see, society resolves itself 
here, as elsewhere, into two classes. The non- 
producing class lines the way that the man who 
has money must tread, and no devices are left un- 
tried to get it away from him. He is persuaded 
that the goods he has brought to the country are 
not worth the cost of landing, and is thus induced 
to sell at a sacrifice, which he is the more ready to 
do, because he is told that he is losing valuable 
time, and hurries away. to the mines to make his 
"pile." He hears the most conflicting statements 
about different mining regions, and after being 
fleeced the whole way, he gets to a place where he 
has been told the coveted stuff has been dug by 
the pound. He works half a day at a business he 
knows nothing about, and finds but a few grains in 
each panful; then tries somewhere else, and so 
spends half his time in ** prospecting.*' He gives 
it up in disgust, and is ready to go home, if he has 
the means to do it; if not, and the chances are that 
he has not, he will sit down and curse the country 
and the gold mines, or he is satisfied to become 
onofcof the above-mentioned secure class into which 
society is divided. 

I will transcribe a letter received a few days 
since by an inmate of the hospital, who is a grad- 
uate of Yale College. It is from a young man. 
with a fortune at home enough to keep him all his 
life in the indolence he has lived : 

San Francisco, December 7th. 
Dear Sir: I heard that you were in Sacramento 
city through Mr. C , of Honesdale. I have 


been in San Francisco about three weeks. I have 
been to the mines, was sick, made nothing, and 
returned. I cannot find any employment here, 
and wish myself out of this God-forsaken country. 
My object in writing to you is to inquire what 
chance there is for employment in Sacramento.. I 
don't know but I may come up there. It riddles 
a fellow's money out fast to live here without doing 
anything. There are four times as many people 
as can be employed, and more than ought to be in 
any one place. You being a business man, I did 
not know but you could give me some information 
about a chance for business in Sacramento. As 
ever, yours, -. 

The best part of the joke is that the man to 
whom the letter is addressed is no better off, being 
a hanger-on with us, waiting for something to turn 
up. Such cases are plenty here. They are of no 
account, except when they become a public charge. 
It is a hard trial for any man to be put ashore in a 
strange, new land, where no one knows him, or 
cares for him, and without money to shape his own 
destiny. He sees a multitude around him very 
busy, and in a hurry-skurry, like May day, only 
worse, and though any one of them might put him 
in the way to make money, they will only make 
use of him as far as they can — fleece him and let 
him go. He hears about great sums of money 
made, but does not see how it is done. He sleeps in 
a tent, on the ground, and fries his meat on the coals : 

** The pilot bread is in his mouth, 
The gold dust m his eje. " 

1 60 SEE A WOMAN. Chap. VI. 

He thinks, in his lonely, destitute condition, of 
the comforts he has left in his far-off home, and of 
the sympathizing friends there, and if he is not 
good pluck, he will go home if he can. 

The overland men came in destitute, in the 
midst of the sickly season, too late to secure Win- 
ter quarters, aod have suffered much from sickness 
and exposure, the most of them living in tents all 
Winter. These will be ready to operate in the 
Spring to advantage. They are the men for it; 
they are not afraid to work, and, with a long sea- 
son before them, will gather large sums. Shrewd 
operators here will make money out of the mon- 
eyed men at home who are so bold as to venture 

in the fickle, inflated trade. Auction sales will be 

heavy and commissions large — everything will go 
with a rush. 

February 14th. — We had a visit this week from 
a lady — a Mrs. Chandler — who came to see one oi 
our patients sick with . scurvy. It was the first 
time I have spoken to a woman since I saw Gen- 
eral Wilson's family in November. A few days 
ago, I took a walk out to the fort. It was delight- 
ful to tread upon the soft, green turf. I saw only 
two flowers — one a species of ranunculus, the other 
an arabis, I brought them home, and for awhile 
they flourished on my table. The weather for 
two weeks has been warm and clear, like May at 
home, and the lofty peaks of the Sierra show clear, 
white, and grand. The country is very healthy^ 
and the cases we have with us now are chiefljr 



scurvy and chronic disease of the bowels — a com- 
plication that is very fatal. 

February 15th. — This afternoon I took my gun 
and crossed the Sacramento on the ferry, to com- 
mune with nature in her sylvan solitudes. How 
unlike the place where we encamped last Septem- 
ber! Soft green fields, flowers and singing birds. 
It was late in the day, and I sat on the fallen trunk 
of one of those mighty woodland monarchs, and 
watched the sun as it went down behind the blue 
range of mountains between us and the sea. The 
oaks are yet bare, except with clumps of evergreen 
mistletoe, but the meadow was rich with grass and 
budding flowers, interspersed with ponds of water 
covered with thousands of wild ducks, feeding. It 
is the pairing season of these birds, and two by 
two they sail about and gabble their love notes. 
You would not have shot them, would you.'^ I 
could not, they were so wild! The jay blew his 
rough reed; he is not so pretty a bird as ours — he 
is too blue. The little woodpecker, that bores a 
hole in the bark of trees and fits an acorn in so 
tight that you have to cut the wood to get it out, 
cries like the dry axle of a wheelbarrow. The 
little "cher-whit" chirped and flitted about when 
the sun went down, as if vexed; but 1 missed the 
violets, claytonias, hepaticaSy and other familiar 
faces of the Spring-time. The sun was gone, the 
grass grew of a yellow green as the light was re- 
flected from the golden sky, and finally black. I 
heard only the ** peeping" of frogs and the sounds 
from the city, and returned. 


March 25th. — I have now a patient who has in- 
terested me very much. His nameCJs Potter, from 
New Haven, Connecticut. He i§ about thirty 
years of age. He has the prevailkig disease, and 
has become very much emaciated. ^ He had been 
urged long ago to return home, but was too hope- 
ful, until now his courage fails hiny^ He showed 
me his wife's portrait, read extracts from her let- 
ters, and gave way to the most extra^^agant grief 
as the conviction fastened itself upon him that he 
should see her no more. It seems that his family 
are in independent circumstances at home, but the 
enthusiasm of the hour caught him, and he joined 
a company bound to California. I have attended 
him daily for a month, and, though I have some- 
times been hopeful, his case is very discouraging. 
If milk were more abundant, more of these cases 
might be cured. 

I have almost forgotten what I used to eat at 
home. We have plenty of good food now, but not 
much variety; bread and beef are the staples. 
Hunters do not bring in much game at this time 
of the year; they are all off to the mines. Pota- 
toes are so poor that we do not use them. Eggs 
and milk are to be had — the former at six dollars 
a dozen, and the latter at one dollar a quart; we 
use them only for patients. Butter is down to one 
dollar a pound. Dried peaches have fallen, so that 
I have got a few pounds to-day, at fifty-five cents. 

Ap7'il 4th, — The river has risen nearly to an 
overflow and rain is falling. Yesterday I strolled 
out to the vicinity of the fort. Captain Sutter no 

Chap. V^. FI.OWERS. 1 63 

longer lives there, but has taken up his residence 
at Hock Farm, on the Feather River. It is im- 
possible to imagine a more delightful scene than 
the country presents at this time; it is a boundless 
meadow, covered with a soft, dense carpet of flow- 
ers. The slight elevations are perfectly crowded 
with flowers of every hue, some of them very 
pretty, and all new to me. I recognize a few by 
their generic forms as old friends — larkspurs, lu- 
pins and buttercups, but the species are all new. 
There are no bushes, except along the water 
courses, and you might travel all day over these 
meadows without interruption, startling the wild 
cattle, deer and geese. Meadow larks will start 
up and warble their sweet notes as they fly and 
alight again near by. Magpies and ravens, birds 
unknown to us at home, are mixed up with crows, 
"wake-ups," and other birds familiar to my boy- 
hood haunts, and make the old oaks vocal. 

May ^tlt. — My friend, Hiram Bingham, goes 
home by the next steamer. He was a member of 
our company. He has been leading the nomadic 
life of a miner, and has picked up about $2,000, 
which he will carry home. That seems small com- 
pensation for all the dangers and hardships passed 
through and the time spent; yet it is better than 
the average of the company have done. But what 
a letting-down from the expectations that were in- 
dulged in on the way out! The laziest man would 
have turned up his nose at a compromise on a 
hundred thousand dollars. 

We have just organized a medical society, called 


the Medico-Cliirtirgical Associatio7i, the first of the 
kind that has been formed in the ** Republic." 
Dr. Bay, of Albany, was chosen President; Doc- 
tors Morse and White, Vice-Presidents; Dr. J. R. 
Riggs, of Patterson (N. J.), Recording Secretary; 
and Dr. J. D. B. Stillman, Corresponding Secre- 
tary. When fully organized it will consist of 
about fifty members. So, you see, we are pretty 
well supplied with medical men. Many of them 
are men of high standing at home and advanced 
in years. Three of our officers have been Presi- 
dents of county societies at home. Dr. Morse is 
to deliver an address before the society on the 
2 2d. So, hurrah for our noble profession and the 
new Republic of the Pacific! 

Before now California may have been rejected 
as a State in the Union; if so, our Eastern friends 
will not be under the necessity of calling upon us 
to "stop that knocking." There are many here 
who have never entertained the idea of making 
this country their permanent home, who will do so 
should that step be taken. However, it is not 
generally believed that, when the crisis comes, 
Congress will reject the State. 

There are some reasons why I should like to 
live in California, independently of its charming 
climate. There is more intelligence and generous 
good feeling than in any country I ever saw\ 
Men are valued for what they are. There are 
great rogues here, it is true; but there is a smaller 
proportion of mean and dishonorable men, and one 
feels that he has a standing here that it takes a 

Chap. VI. MR. POTTEr's DEATH. 1 65 

man until he is old and rich to enjoy at home. 

May 12th, — How strange it seems to me, some- 
times, to be here in this last known country on the 
globe, where the extremest verge of the West dies 
out, and the East — where empire first began, and 
where it still holds its untroubled sway — confronts 
us. How little were we aware, when we first set 
our feet on these distant shores, what trials and 
dangers awaited us. We all went forward, confi- 
dently and rashly. It is true that we saw our fel- 
lows falling around us, "like leaves in Wintry 
weather;'* but we saw no difficulties but those that 
were passed. 

Mr. Potter, of whom I wrote as convalescent, 
died at the hospital last week. We buried him 
in the sandhill below the town, where I counted 
nearly eight hundred graves over which the grass 
had not grown. 

This evening, I called, in company with Dr. 

M , on Dr. Birdsall, an old army surgeon, who 

has a daughter, a very refined and accomplished 
girl. They live in a fine little cottage, elegantly 
.furnished. It is surprising how rapidly home 
comforts are increasing; but how few women there 
are — not enough to leaven the heavy mass of 
which society is composed. Quite a number of 
vile libels on the sex have found their way out 
here, and they were never so much honored before, 
not even before their fall. '" *''' It will not always 
be so : noble women will banish this moral dark- 
ness, and make this country what our own is, one 
of the most beautiful and happy in the world. 


I have been attending a trial to-day, in which 
slavery was the issue. It was the first time the 
issue has been made in the Territory. A South- 
erner brought a slave with him to this country; 
but the slave, discovering that he had rights here, 
left his master to provide for himself. The master 
claimed him, on the ground that he was here on 
business, and not a resident, and, as such, under 
the Constitution, had the right to pass through the 
State with his slave. On the other hand, it was 
argued that he brought the slave here for the pur- 
pose of working him as such, and had so worked 
him. The Court decided that the. negro was free. 
He was then arrested on the charge of resisting an 
officer at the time of his arrest. He was tried be- 
fore a Justice and acquitted, on the ground that 
the officer had no authority to arrest him, and re- 
sistance was justifiable under the circumstances. 

May i^th, — Some one came this morning into 
my room in the City Hotel, where three of us were 
sleeping, and despoiled my pockets of their con- 
tents, including a bag containing about $75 in gold 
dust. I am sorry to learn by such a sacrifice that 
thieves have arrived in the country. I have no 
doubt that there will be plenty of them here by 
and by. 

Among the acquaintances I have formed here is 
Captain Ringgold, of the navy; he is a brother of 
Major Ringgold, who was killed at the battle of 
Palo Alto, and whose half brother, a physician, I 
met at Callao. I have also been pleased with the 
acquaintance of Dr. Chamberlin, a surgeon in the 


Mexican war, and lately connected with the Mexi- 
can Boundary Survey, where he was associated 
with my old college friend, Charley Parry, botanist 
of the expedition. Charley is now on the Gila 
River. Ringgold was in command of the explor- 
ing party from Wilkes' expedition, that went up 
the Sacramento River as far as the fish weir. It 
would have been well for me if I had stopped there 

1 68 NORRIS' RANCH. Chap. VU. 


Norris' ranch — First appearance of agriculture — Fate of Weld — 
Squatter riots — Mayor Bigelow shot — The Assessor killed — 
Take Dr. Robinson prisoner— Bur}- the dead under arms — 
Night alarms — Death of the Sheriff' — Escape of his murderer. 

June 2d. — The city is dull, but the weather is 
charming, and sickness is almost unknown. A 
few chronic cases of last Winters disease still lin- 
ger on to their inevitable fate. Yesterday I rode 
out to Norris' ranch — the same that on Fremont s 
map is called Sinclair's. It is a very large estate, 
about six miles up the American Fork, and on the 
other side of it. It is stocked with about twenty 
thousand head of cattle and horses, and a great 
number of Indians. These are no better than 
slaves. Norris is their big chief, and seems to 
have absolute authority over them. Just after I 
left, one Indian stabbed another in the thigh; as 
the blood could not be stopped, he was sent into 
the town. The offender was hunted and lassoed, 
brought to the house, and was about to be shot, 
but the sentence was suspended until the result of 
the wound was known. Here I saw the first re- 
sults of agriculture, and I am perfectly astonished. 
I was shown fields of corn, wheat, barley, peas, 
etc., all looking well; the barley was so heavy that 


it could not stand up. Mr. H , one of the 

company that came out in the P/icenix, and the 
laziest man in the crowd — so shiftless, that when 
the company broke up no one would take him in 
— went out to N orris' ranch, and took the garden 
patch to cultivate vegetables, giving for rent only 
the vegetables the family want to use; and that 
fellow, at the present prices of vegetables, will 
make more money this Summer than any five men 
in his company. 

August loth, — Did you receive the paper con- 
taining the mournful lament of a gold-hunter, enti- 
tled "Adieu, but not forever!^" I did not know 
the author when I read it, but the experience he 
tells with such touching pathos has been the expe- 
rience of so many others, that it stirred up a deep 
sympathy for the writer. Lest the paper may 
have miscarried, I will quote one or two passages. 
After describing the farewell scenes on leaving 
home, he says: "We reached the steamer — her 
ponderous wheels are in motion — three cheers 
greet us as we cast off the last rope, and in a few 
short hours the wild waves roll between me and 
my native shore. One year and more has passed 
away. A long year of toil and unrequited labor it 
has been to that husband, and to his family a year 
of gloom. One who kissed these lips on that 
parting day is no more! A sweet, angelic daugh- 
ter, with fairy form and cherub eyes, and voice 
whose melody Heaven coveted, death snatched — 
snatched in a moment. Alas! who knoweth the 
agony of bereavement, save the bereaved them- 

1 70 FATE OF WELD. Chap. VII. 

selves! There are blighted hopes, and sorrowing 
spirits, and bitter woes, concealed under calm faces. 
O ! how many in this far-off land are bearing their 
burden in solitude; how many, whose bones strew 
these mountain shores, are sorrowed for at home 
with bitter lamentation!'* If you have not seen 
the article, this extract will give you an interest in 
the writer. When the last steamer sailed he was 
well ; this mail will carry home to that wife and 
family the crushing story. I have followed the 
author to his grave; his "unrequited toil" is at an 
end. I never spoke to Weld, but the article 
quoted made me feel wondrous kind toward him. 
When I was told that he was dead, I felt that I 
had lost a brother. I went to see his corpse, and 
as I gazed upon him alone, I thought it was the 
saddest case I had yet known. No one of that 
fond family was there — no hand of affection to put 
back the locks that fell over that broad forehead — 
and I venture to say that the only tears shed over 
his bier were from one who never knew him save 
by those few lines. 

We are in the midst of considerable excitement 
and must be until Congress does something for us. 
The whole country hereabouts seems to be covered 
with Mexican grants. The site of this city is 
claimed by General Sutter, and city lots have been 
sold under his title. The frontiersmen do not seem 
to understand how one man can lay claim to so 
much soil, and naturally look to the Government 
as the rightful owner of the new lands. The 
grant to Sutter has not been settled by the courts, 


and in the meantime the settlers take possession 
of unoccupied grounds, claiming that the grant did 
not cover the site of the city. Two or three days 
ago, they tore down a building erected by a man 
named Murphy on a lot claimed by one of their 
party, and then they fortified the place, and deter- 
mined to hold it against all contestants. A writ 
of ejectment was issued and about to be served. 
Yesterday the **squatters," as the settlers are called, 
were out in strong force, and declared the city 
under martial law. To-day the Sheriff, with a 
small party, surprised and took possession of their 
fortified place, with the garrison of five men and 
twenty stand of shotguns. Last month the Com- 
mon Council passed an order, making it a misde- 
meanor and imposing a heavy fine for any one, 
except the City Surveyor, to survey within the 
city limits. This was regarded as a high-handed 
outrage upon individual rights, and has done much 
to bring about the collision that is threatened. 

August ijth. — An attempt was made early this 
morning to fire the town. The County Attorney 
and one or two others are under arrest for treason. 
It is rather difficult to keep out of the excitement. 

August 1 6th. — The steamer that sailed yester- 
day will carry home an account of the events of 
the two preceding days that may be exaggerated. 
About noon, on the 14th, it was rumored that the 
squatters were about to rescue some persons con- 
fined on board the prison-brig lying moored at the 
mouth of the American River, and a party, under 
the Sheriff, repaired to the spot to resist them. 


The squatters, finding that the brig would be an 
ugly place to carry by assault, drew off and marched 
through the town to the number of about fifty. 
They were in military order, and fully armed. I 
was standing on the corner of Second and J streets ; 
they were on J street, near Third, and all the men 
had gone to follow the squatters, leaving me quite 
alone. Soon Mayor Bigelow rode up, and asked 
me to join the unarmed citizens and help to disarm 
the rioters. I told him that it could not be done 
in that way ; that I was acquainted with some of 
them, and I knew that they would fire. He said 
they would not, and rode on toward the crowd. 
About the time that the Mayor reached them, I 
heard a volley, and saw the crowd running in all 
directions. The Mayors horse came flying back 
without a rider. Now, I thought, we are in for it. 
I ran to my office (about half a block off), got niy 
double-barrel gun, powder flask, and a handful of 
balls, and hurried back, loading as I ran. When 
I got as far as J street, I could discover no armed 
men. I waited to see some one in authority until. 
Lieutenant-Governor McDougal rode up at full 
speed, his face very pale. Seeing me the only 
armed man on the street, he asked me to get all 
the armed men I could, and rendezvous at Fow- 
ler's Hotel, on the city front. I went to the place 
designated, and there found a few men, who had 
got an old iron ship's gun, mounted on a wooden 
truck ; to its axles were fastened a long dray rope, 
such as you see at home attached to a fire engine. 
The gun was loaded with a lot of scrap iron. It 


seemed we were expected to make a stand against 
the army of squatters that was said to be coming 
upon us. I wanted to know where McDougal 
was. We expected him to take the command and 
die with us. I inquired of Mrs. McDougal, who 
was stopping at the hotel what had become of her 
husband ? She said he had gone to San Fran- 
cisco for assistance. Indeed, he was on his way 
to the steamer Senator when I saw him, and he 
left his horse on the bank of the river. 

Finding that the fighting men did not rally, and 
fearing that the squatter force would come and 
catch us with that old gun, I strolled off up town 
to the scene of the firing. The Mayor had been 
taken to a house on Second street. He is badly 
wounded, and it is thought that he will die. He 
is shot in three places ; one ball went through his 
right side, another shattered his right hand, and a 
third grazed his cheek. Woodland, the Assessor, 
was killed by a ball in the abdomen, and lay dead 
as he fell. The commander of the squatters (a 
man named Maloney) had his horse shot under 
him ; he is said to have charged, sword in hand, 
into the crowd, and was killed by a pistol shot. 
One other man was killed, who seemed to be an 
overland man, and was supposed to have belonged 
to the squatters. Quite a number were wounded. 

A nmior soon spread that the squatters were 
gathering in large force on the outskirts of the 
town to renew the fight. The rumor was without 
foundation, but the excitement was ver)^ great. 
Some one told me Dr. Robinson was wounded, 


and hidden in a house on Fourth street. I re- 
ported the matter to B. F. Washington, Acting 
Marshal of the city, who directed me to procure 
what help I could, and take him, dead or alive. 
Dr. Robinson was the leading rioter, and had done 
more by his talents than any one among them to 
bring on the trouble. I took two men, armed like 
myself with double-barrel guns, and entered the 
house where he was said to be hidden. The pro- 
prietor stood at the head of the stairs leading to 
the second floor, and, presenting his shot-gun, 
threatened to shoot if we came up ; but one of the 
men who followed me, seeming to think this was a 
good chance to kill somebody, ** covered** the man 
with his gun, and told him to lay down his arms, 
or have a large hole made in his body. He obeyed, 
when we told him to go into a room, where we 
shut him up. Then we searched the house, and 
found the doctor in the back room, lying on a bed. 
I examined him, and found a bullet wound of small 
size in his loft side ; but it seemed to be super- 
ficial, and his pulse was not affected. However, 
as a matter of precaution, and to avoid any un- 
pleasant consequences to myself, I called in Doc- 
tors Birdsall and Riggs to examine him. They 
reported that his wound was superficial and gave 
the opinion that he could be removed without in- 
jury. So I pressed a cot and four men, under the 
war power conferred upon me (for the city was 
under martial law), and compelled the men to carry 
our prisoner to the prison-brig, while we escorted 
him to prevent a rescue. 


The town was now in undisputed possession of 
the constituted authorities, and a party set out to 
pursue the rioters, who had fled up the river. About 
five miles out, they overtook an Irishman, named 
Caulfield, one of the most desperate men among 
the squatters. Mr. Latson was with this party, 
ind he told me that he was in advance, and, as he 
rode up, he laid hold of Caulfield ; but, as they 
were both going very fast, he slipped his hold, 
when the fellow attempted to discharge his rifle at 
Latson. The gun missed fire, and Latson knocked 
the ruffian off his horse with a pistol. The party 
came down J street at a furious rate, with their 
prisoner tied on the saddle — his feet under the 
horse s belly, his hat off, arms tied behind him, and 
his face covered with blood and dust. They swept 
on down to the levee, and it was said they were 
going to hang Caulfield on a tree. 

I had no interest in this quarrel, but had taken 
my gun in defense of law and order, and these 
men were about to violate both, while professedly 
acting for both. I determined to have something 
to say about this, and ran on as fast as I could, 
following them to the bank of the river, but they 
took him to the prison-brig. Two or three more 
men were taken during the day, but no other note- 
worthy event has happened as yet. I now go to 
the rendezvous of Captain Sherwood's company 
(which is being organized for future emergencies), 
preparatory to burying the dead. 

August 22d. — The city is now as quiet as though 
nothing had happened. On Thursday last, the 


day I closed my last letter, we buried Mr. Wood- 
land under arms, Sherwood's company acting as 
infantry, followed by many armed citizens on horse- 
back. There was a rumor current that the squat- 
ters intended to bury their dead in the same place 
and at the same time. We were, therefore, directed 
to be provided with ten rounds of ammunition to 
each man. The burial ground is a sandy hill below 
the town, a couple of miles distant, where we have 
buried the most of our dead since the flood. No 
enemy appeanfti, and all passed off quietly. 
* As soon as the funeral services were over, Sher- 
iff McKenney, Dr. Wake Brierly, Eugene F. Gil- 
lespie, Captain M. D. Corse, David Milne. John 
Tracy. Colonel Kewen and J. S. Fowler, with a 
number of others who were present and mounted, 
started off at a rapid rate across the plains. It 
was said they were going to make an arrest of a 
party in arms on the American River, about seven 
miles from town. It was nearly night when we 
reached town and were dismissed. 

About nine o'clock that night, while the Com- 
mon Council was in session, Colonel Kewen rushed 
into the room and announced that the Sheriff and 
ten men were killed, and that reinforcements were 
needed, as the squatters in force were marching 
into town. A scene of the wildest confusion en- 
sued. The alarm was sounded; our company 
assembled at the drill room, and then marched to 
J street. The force was divided; the most of it 
was marched out toward Sutter's Fort. I was de- 
tailed, with four others, to patrol the south part o 

Chap. VII. NIGHT ALARMS. 1 77 

the town, to protect it from incendiaries. The 
mounted men were divided into two squads — one 
under Councilman J. R. Hardenberg, and the other 
under Councilman C. A. Tweed; these took sta- 
tions at the head of J and K streets, beyond the 
fort. The part of the town to which I was as- 
signed was that occupied by the few families living 
here, and I could not have had a pleasanter duty 
i{ I had been free to have my choice. My knees 
did not shake half so badly after the order was 
given. It may seem strange to yoy, but I did not 
like the idea of going out to shoot at squatters in 
t:he dark, when a fellow might just as well get shot 
liimself by mistake for some more maliciously dis- 
jDOsed person. The ladies were nearly frightened 
out of their wits; but we assured them that they 
Inad nothing to fear — that we were devoted to their 
service, and were ready to die at their feet; being 
"t:hus assured, they all retired into their cozy little 
c:ottages and securely bolted the doors. Then we 
patroled up and down the lonely streets, with fixed 
l>ayonets, stopping every man for the countersign, 
and if he could not give it, marching him home. 
About ten o'clock, in the morning, soon after the 
arrival of the steamer at the landing, a man came 
to me and said that Lieutenant-Governor McDou- 
gal wanted to speak to the patrol — -that he was 
sick at a house near by. I was poor McDougal's 
evil genius. When he arrived from San Fran- 
cisco, where he had gone for reinforcements, he 
found us in the midst of our second great scare. 
It was too much for him; he went right to bed. 



How Strange it was that I should be the man to 
see him there — I, whom he had denounced as a 
coward but the day before the outbreak, because I 
would not be put into a position to engage in an 
aggressive war. He was not so pale as when I 
saw him on his way to the boat. He said he was 
suffering very much from sickness, and wished me 
to report at headquarters the arrival of the Califor- 
nia Guard from below. I did not know where to 
find the headquarters; but I went to Warbas & 
Co.*s bank, which was a sort of rendezvous for our 
folk. The Guard was there before me. Two 
companies were reported — one under Colonel 
Geary, and the other under Captain William M. 
D. Howard. In the rear room I saw Sam. Bran- 
nan, the only man I knew out of the roomful. All 
were eager for the fray, and I thought if they 
fought as well as they swore, the country would be 
safe. I heard threats that a young man named 
McKune, who had been acting as an attorney for 
the squatters, should hang before sunrise. Here 
was law and order for you, with a vengeance! I 
knew where McKune's office was (it was in my 
beat), and hurried down to give him the alarm. I 
thumped away at his door, but could get no an- 
swer; so I concluded he had left, and that, if he 
was with the squatter force, the others might go 
and get him, and bide the fortunes of war. 

Atigust 2/i/L — I am tired of excitement and 
long for the quiet of home. 

*• Il's liame, and it's hame, hame fain would I be : 
O hame, hame, hame, in my ain countrce!" 


But to get home is almost as difficult as it was to 
get here. The steamers are all full for months to 

When I wrote last, I find, I did not complete 
the history of our night alarm. It turned out that 
the Sheriff was the only man of his party killed. 
He rode up to the house of a man named Allen, 
whom he wanted to arrest. Dr. Brierly, from 
whom I had an account of the affair, accompanied 
the Sheriff; the rest of the party remained a little 
way off. The Sheriff told Allen who he was, and 
demanded his surrender. Allen was behind the 
bar, and replied that he knew him; at the same 
instant he leveled a heavy duck gun and fired. 
The whole charge entered the Sheriff's breast, 
and killed him instantly. Brierly, who is a little, 
sprightly man, had dodged down, and instead of 
going for reinforcements, delivered his revolver 
several times at Allen, wounding him severely. 
Notwithstanding the whole party was there, Allen 
escaped to the river, and concealed himself so well 
that he has not been caught. A few days after 
we were again turned out to bury our brave young 
Sheriff. I had no personal acquaintance with him, 
but he was a great favorite. His wife was here 
to follow him to the grave, and it was a circum- 
stance that added much to the sympathy felt for 



Homeward bound — A ride over Russian Hill — California ad- 
mitted — Cholera — Ship Plymouth — Island of Guadalupe — 
Death and burial at sea — Remarkable adventure with a whale 
Tedious calms — Dying dolphin — Drifting canoe — Approach 
to land — Departure of the whale — Volcano of Cosaquina — 
Harbor of Realejo 

San Francisco, September, 1850. 

The ravages of the cholera are so serious on 
the Isthmus that I have resolved to go by the way 
of Nicarauga, and had engaged passage by the 
Unicorn for Realejo, but her voyage to that place 
has been abandoned, and I shall find some sailing 
vessel going there. My baggage I put on board 
the schooner Alontagite to go around Cape Horn. 
I have had another attack of fever, followed by 
jaundice. I made my home with W. D. Niles, in 
charge of the Pacific Mail Campany*s shop in 
Happy Valley. It is a satisfaction to be with one 
who knows my family, and will report to them if I 
should be unable to do so. The song so popular 
when we came out — Oh, Californiay that's the land 
for me — I have not heard in a long time ; but I ^ 

often hear, as I pass the camps in the valley. Oh, 
carry me back to old Virginia shore! 

October loth, — Autumn in California is a very "^ 


melancholy season ; it is the season of death, and 

not of fruition, with none of the changing hues 

which Autumn at home brings with it. It is man 

here that passes into the sere and yellow leaf, as 

one will see in the jaundiced faces of those who 

at this time come down from the interior, and as is 

most marked in my own case. As a convalescent, 

I rode out on horseback to the Presidio. It was 

a bright October morning. The high winds that 

prevail on the coast during the Summer months 

were gone, but not a cloud had yet appeared in 

the sky. I rode to the top of one of the hills 

north of the town, overlooking the shipping, the 

entrance to the bay. and its wide expanse of water. 

The scenery on the bay is rather too heavy to be 

beautiful, and at this time of year too devoid of 

verdure. The sky is uniformly cold and dull. The 

gentle spirit of my steed was moved, too, by the 

sterile prospect before him, and. with head low 

bowed, he seemed for a long time dreaming of the 

flowery meadows where a few months before he 

rolled in luxury. Our reveries were simultaneously 

arrested by an intruder, and we continued our stroll 

down the opposite side of the hill. There was a 

fresh water pond nearly as low as tide water ; its 

banks were lined with linen bleaching in the sun. 

and Chinese and Mexicans were ranged in the 

water up to their knees, with a rude table before 

them, upon which they were rubbing, beating, 

thrashing, squeezing, and otherwise maltreating 

other people's clothes. A rivulet, small at this 

time, comes down between the hills, irrigating in 


its course various beds of lettuce and other vege- 
tables common in New York in the Spring. Just 
where I rode down to the brook my ear was saluted 
with the sound of a tiny waterfall. It was so 
strange a sound that it startled me. It was the 
voice of home, calling in tinkling cadence to the 
wanderer to go where anxious ones were waiting 
and watching. It revived many sad thoughts of 
scenes once familiar, now far away, so that I fan- 
cied my malady grew worse ; and, with the un- 
qualified approval of my traveling companion. I 
turned his head toward my lodgings. 

October igth, — I was so far recovered as to visit 
the ship on which I had engaged passage to Real- 
ejo. While on board of her, I heard heavy guns 
down the bay, and, in a few minutes after, the 
steamer Oregon, her rigging crowded with her gala 
dress of flags and signals, rode by the town, bel- 
lowing forth to right and left the joyous intelli- 
gence, "California is admitted." The news was 
shouted from vessel to vessel of that vast fleet 
anchored in the bay, and the Stars and Stripes ran 
up to every truck, until the sky was ablaze with 
bunting, and every reluctant, rusty gim was made 
to proclaim, far over the waters and away into the 
rocky fastnesses of the mountains, that California 
had taken her place as a golden star in the con- 
stellation of States. It is worthy of mention that 
the first response to the intelligence was a gun 
from a ship carrying the flag of St. George. 

October 2^tli. — The ship was ready for sea yes- 
terday — had cleared from the Custom House and 

Chap. VIII. CHOLERA. 1 83 

dropped down to an anchorage below the shipping 
— but was unable to proceed at once for want of 
sufficient seamen to navigate her. Only six men 
had been shipped, and half of this number were 
ordinary seamen; but to-day the Captain succeeded 
in getting two more able seamen, and at one 
o'clock we weighed anchor and beat out with a 
strong head wind and an ebb tide. We passed 
the ill-fated schooner Afontague, lying at quaran- 
tine. Of the company of forty men who came out 
from New Haven in her, more than one half died 
in a few months after her arrival. She had now 
started from Sacramento for Panama, and the Cap- 
tain, second mate and six passengers have died of 
the cholera. Yesterday the Health Officers boat 
passed to visit her, with a crew of four Kanakas, 
and to-day she had but two, the others having 
died, as we learn by the morning paper. Our ship 
passed rapidly through the Golden Gate, and be- 
fore night we lost sight of the land that had proved 
a grave to so many who but a year before had 
landed there, full of hope and daring. 

The ship Plyrnotctk, Captain Pousland. was 
bound for Panama, but has engaged to put into 
Realejo, at which place I had determined to land 
and take the route through the State of Nicaragua. 
There are, in all, one hundred and sixteen passen- 
gers, the most of them broken and disappointed 
miners. Many of them have just come in over 
the plains, and are disgusted with the prospect of 
gold digging — are sick with fever and its complica- 
tions, with barely any means to carry them home. 

184 . SHIP "PLYMOUTH." Chap. VIII. 

October 28th, — Off Cape Concepcion. Thus far 
we have had no cases of cholera, and think our- 
selves fortunate in the choice of the Plymouth, 
Captain Pousland is about forty years old, and has 
been contending with storms until his voice and 
hearipg are both cracked ; but his heart is big and 
his head clear. The ship is well provided, and our 
voyage promises to be a very pleasant one. Six 
of us occupy the Captain's cabin; Captain J. H. 
Titcomb, a venerable old ship-master, who came 
out in command of the brig Ceylon, from Boston, 
and whose head has been whitening in the frosts 
and suns of every clime for half a century; Captain 
Tatim, of New York, an intelligent, exemplary 
man, who also commanded a vessel out; a French- 
man, in search of health, who had been recom- 
mended by Cazenave, of Paris, to visit Antigua 
(W. I.), but, getting no better there, his physician 
advised him to return to France. He was next 
sent to Havana; but a physician there told him it 
was no place for him, and advised him to go to 
New Orleans. Arrived there, he was recom- 
mended to try the climate of St. Louis. He went 
as far as Lexington (Kentucky), where he spent 
some time at the Mammoth Cave, but was disap- 
pointed in the result, and his medical adviser 
thought the climate of Mexico preferable to any 
other. He accordingly went to Mexico, but got 
no better of his disease, and finally he came to 
California, where he nearly died, and is now going 
to seek the elixir of life in some new region, he 
knows not where. Another white-haired sea-king 


and his brother comprise the whole of the cabin 

October jist, — Early this morning it was an 
nounced that land would be visible on our weather 
bow in a short time, and about nine o'clock we 
descried the Island of Guadalupe. It was about 
three o clock, in the afternoon, when we were off 
the northeast point. A fresh wind was blowing 
from the northward, and the sky was overcast with 
clouds that had not permitted an observation since 
we left San Francisco. Against the north end of 
the island, which is about 1,200 feet high, the 
clouds had banked up in a gloomy mass, making 
it so dark on that side that we could scarcely dis- 
tinguish objects on shore, and were rolling away 
heavily on either side, like the sea before the bluff 
bows of our ship, leaving a broad wake of bright 
blue sky to leeward. As we passed the eastern 
promontory, a scene of great beauty burst upon 
us. Over the high crest of hills bounding the 
north end the vapor was pouring like a vast catar- 
act, hugging so closely to the mountain as to hide 
its face but reveal its form, and the sun shining 
full upon it lit it up in all the resplendence of a 
mountain of snow, which diffused itself into a thin 
mist in the calm, bright valley, covered with green 
pastures and scattered trees, like Spring in Cali- 
fornia. It was a rare sight to see the two sides of 
an island in such stronof contrast — the one dark 
and wrathful, the other like a place of enchant- 
ment, so calm, warm and verdant. To this island 
sea birds and turtles resort in great numbers, un- 


disturbed by the intrusions of man, and here they 
have been sole tenants since the Spirit of God first 
moved upon the face of the waters. There is 
something which excites the most intense interest 
in passing one of these lonely, uninhabited islands, 
a curiosity which fairly racks imagination. The 
water continues blue close up to the island, but in 
the deep bay on the eastern side there is said to be 
good anchorage, and the Captain had intended, in 
case the weather was calm, to go on shore and 
procure some turtles. But we passed it at the rate 
of nine knots, and, standing across the strip of 
blue sky to the leeward of the island, we were 
soon surrounded by the dull gray of the sea and 
sky, and the loom of the land was lost soon after 
in the gloom of night. Our course was directed 
to the Abejos rocks, a singular collection of sharp 
rocks, rising 1 1 2 feet from the sea, 290 miles south- 
east from Guadalupe. 

November isL — A young man from Illinois, who 
had been complaining for some days with fever, 
died last night. When I first saw him his case 
appeared bad, but the day before yesterday he felt 
himself quite '* smart," and his symptoms gave no 
indications of so sudden a termination. The fol- 
lowing night I was called up to see him ; he had 
violent congestion of the brain. His delirium was 
succeeded by a state of unconsciousness, and at 
eleven o'clock, last evening, he expired. To-day 
his body was committed to the deep. Sewed up 
in a blanket, with a bag of sand fastened to its 
feet, it was placed upon a board over the bulwarks 



amidships. All hands were called around, when 
my venerable friend, Captain Titcomb, after some 
appropriate remarks, made a short prayer. The 
inner end of the plank was Ihen raised, and our 
late fellow- voyager slid into his unfathomable 
grave. We heard the splash, caught a glimpse of 
something white in the deep blue, and turned with 
sadness to look upon the faces of the living. 

We were carried along with a fine breeze, and 
passed the Abejos rocks in the night. In latitude 
22^ north, longitude 1 1 T 30' west, is laid down on 
the chart a small island as doubtful. For this we 
next directed our course, but passed over the place 
without finding it, and we put it down as still more 

N^ovember ijth, — To-day we are one hundred 
miles south of Acapulco. Since passing Cape 
Corrientes we have seen at intervals, on the east- 
ern horizon, the clouds that usually hang over lofty 
mountains, and at night in the same direction 
flashes of lightning. Various land birds have 
visited us from time to time, such as hawks, owls 
and sparrows. A wren of beautiful species was 
so familiar as to pick flies from our clothes, but he 
would not allow any such familiarity on our part. 
At length, a hawk made a meal of him, and the 
Captain, as a matter of justice, ordered the maruder 
shot, and the sentence was forthwith put into exe- 

We are witnesses of a very remarkable exhi- 
bition of the social disposition of the whale. It 
is rarely that a whale is seen alone. A week ago 


to-day we passed .several, and during the afternoon 
it was discovered that one of them continued to 
follow^ us and was becoming more famih'ar, keep- 
ing directly under the ship and only coming out to 
breathe. A great deal of uneasiness was felt lest, 
in his careless gambols, he might unship our rud- 
der, or do some other damage. It was said that 
bilge-water would drive him off, and the pumps 
w^ere started, but to no purpose. At length more 
violent means were resorted to. and volley after 
volley ()( rifle .shots were fired into him ; billets of 
wood, bottles and bricks w^ere thrown upon his 
head with such force as to .separate the integu- 
ment, to all of which he paid not the slightest at- 
tention, and he .still continues to swim under us* 
keeping our exact rate of speed, whether in calm 
or storm, and rising to blow almost into the cabin 
windows. He .seems determined to stav with us 
until he can find better company. His length is 
about eighty feet; his tail measures about tw^clve 
feet across, and in the calm, as we look down into 
the transparent water, we see him in all his huge 

Xovcniber 22d, -A long and tedious interval of 
light airs, calms and swx'ltering sunshine, in which 
wx* have not averaged fifty miles in twenty-four 
hours. It was thought that the voyage w^ould not 
occupy more than twenty days, and, for the want 
of books, we employ ourselves in watching the 
signs of wind, hoping and predicting something 
better for thc^ morrow^ (), what is more trying to 
the patience - when the will is strong and the pulse 


bounding with eagerness to rejoin the friends from 
whom you have been separated so long — than to 
be caged up in your wooden prison at sea, with no 
hope but in the wind, and that refusing to blow a 
breath, notwithstanding all your signs and predic- 
tions ! " Unfailing indications " do fail every day, 
and. though you fret up and down the quarter-deck 
and threaten never to trust yourself on a sailing 
vessel again, still the breeze will not come. 

For the want of some better means of passing 
time, I would stretch myself on the transom, with 
my head out of the window overlooking the water, 
and watch the innumerable forms of animal life 
that floated past or followed in our wake. At long 
intervals a shark, that vulture of the ocean, would 
come prowling along; too rapacious to admit of a 
partnership, he roams the sea alone. Then, close 
to the surface, comes a school of "trigger fish," 
beautifully spotted, and about the size of the spread 
hand. The great size of the dorsal fin gives them 
a peculiar trotting motion as they wag along in 
our wake, visiting every floating fragment from 
the stewards quarters; many of them rose victims 
to the treacherous little hook. For several days 
past we have had a surfeit of fish, chiefly bonitos 
and dolphins. At one time our deck was like a 
fish market, bonitos from five to fifty pounds 
weight thrashing the deck in the strong agonies of 
death, intermingled with gay dolphins. They are 
caught by trolling a white rag attached to a hook, 
which they mistake for a flying-fish. There are 
many beautiful fish in the tropical seas, but there 


is none so celebrated for its beauty and gamy 
qualities as the dolphin. He has a fierce, man-of- 
war look. From the profile of his forehead you 
would think him a very intellectual fish; so bold is 
it, that his greatest width is in this region of the 
the head, though the gross stupidity of the white 
rag affair is very difficult to reconcile to your phre- 
nological notions, and then a bird's eye view of it 
confirms your skepticism of his great sagacity, for 
it is as thin and sharp as a broad-axe. He seems 
to have only those organs located on the median 
line, particularly reverence and firmness. On the 
former you may place great dependence, for, with 
all his bold airs, he runs from his superiors with 
the same readiness that he pursues his inferiors. 
You give him firmness large, and, for an illustra- 
tion, just coax him into the belief that the rag and 
hook are bona fide flying fish, as you skip it across 
the water. Ah! he does not see it. His sides 
yellow, inclining to green on the back; his tail 
long, forked, and richly tipped with yellow; his 
fins a brilliant blue. With a gallant, dashing air, 
he darts to and fro, driving the timid little flying 
fish out of the water. Now, see! quick as light 
he pursues his prey in its aerial flight, splitting the 
waves, and at the moment the poor little thing 
touches its element, it is gone. You can see him 
at a great distance, so pure is the medium, as he 
takes a wide circuit and returns. Now, be ready! 
His eye seems to sparkle with energy, and dark 
bars appear on his sides, like those of a perch. 
Quick as an arrow he has struck the hook, and is 


fast; and now, if your tackle is strong, you may 
revenge the flying fish. No sooner does he find 
himself fast, than his helm is put hard down, and 
every nerve is strained to resist the traction that 
is made with a strong hand. The whole broad- 
side of the captive is opposed to the water, and 
you cannot gain an inch; but the ship must pro- 
ceed on her voyage, and, though you have gained 
nothing, he is sensible of having lost ground, and 
makes a prodigious spring into the air, and before 
he again touches his element, he has neared the 
ship by several yards. Now he makes another 
effort in an opposite direction, and, after several 
such unavailing struggles, he yields exhausted and 
is raised on board, where he again renews his vain 
struggles, clearing a space in the curious crowd 
with the unsparing strokes of his tail, until he has 
covered the deck with his blood. Who has not 
heard of the dying dolphin ? The rapidly chang- 
ing hues of green and gold flash and fade at inter- 
vals; his blue fins stand out erect as in swimming, 
his surface is in a fine tremor, the colors seem more 
brilliant than ever, and all around exclaim, *'How 
beautiful!" But it is the last, and he lies at your 
feet lifeless, of a dull lead color, as homely as any 
other fish. 

Off the Gulf of Tehuantepec something was 
seen resembling a boat, about five miles off to 
windward. The Captain examined it with a glass, 
and thought he could distinguish two or more men 
in it making signals. The ship was put about, and 
a boat lowered and sent off to their assistance, in 


charge of the second mate. This was an incident 
to rouse the sympathy and interest of those who 
Hve in the consciousness that there is but a plank 
between them and a w^atery grave, and various 
were the speculations as to what it could mean. 
We were about three hundred Trniles from land ; 
the boat was evidently without oars or sails, but 
we could distinguish persons moving and occasion- 
ally shaking a white cloth to us. Some vessel had. 
doubtless, foundered, and these were the survivors 
of the crew. We pictured to ourselves their 
emotion at the sight of relief at hand, and an 
escape from the pangs of hunger and thirst. In 
about two hours our boat returned, and reported 
that it was a large canoe, old, rotten, half full of 
water, and the persons on board of her were sea 
birds, known as *' boobies.** The Captain looked 
fiercely at the mate, at the mention of the word 
*' booby," and gave the orders to '' hoist in the 
boat," and ** ready about." The next day the 
wind freshened to a gale and drove us off our 

A'ovcmbcr k'gtlL—;\^^ have been beating up with 
light winds for some days toward our port. For a 
day or two we have had views of the twin volcanic 
peaks of Guatemala ; to-day the water shows indi- 
cations of a near approach to land, and lofty moun- 
tain peaks arc visible to the northward. The bark 
KirkiL^ood hove in sight, and bore down to speak 
to us. When off a mile or two to leeward, our 
whale left us and went to the bark, but returned 
soon after. He showed great restlessness last 


night, and to-day, whenever we stood off on the 
outward tack, he kept close under us, only rising 
to blow, which he would do close under our quar- 
ter, and most commonly to windward ; but, when- 
ever we stood toward the land, he invariably hung 
back and showed discontent. This afternoon, in 
green water, he left us. It is twenty-four days 
since he attached himself to us, and during that 
time he has followed us as close as a dog to an 
emigrant s wagon. At first we abused him in every 
way that our ingenuity could devise, to drive him 
off, lest he might do us some mischief ; but, save 
some scratches he received from our ship s copper- 
ing and numerous sloughing sores caused by the 
balls that have been fired into him, no damage was 
done to either of us by his close companionship, 
though the white paint was badly blackened by the 
sulphur in his breath. We long ago ceased our 
efforts to annoy him, and had become attached to 
him as to a dog,'and named him " Blowhard.*' As 
the water grew shoaler he left us with regret, un- 
feigned on our part and apparently so on his. He 
joined us off Cape St. Lucas, and left us off Real- 
ejo. We had no evidence that he ate or slept 
during the whole time ; the regular puff of his 
blowing, resembling the exhaust in the steam-chest 
of the engine of a large steamer as heard between 
decks, being always perceptible to the ear. 

November jot/t, — For several nights past we 
have had bright flashes of lightning from the heavy 
clouds that hang over the land ; but last night we 
seemed to have got within the dominion of yEolus 


for with vivid flashes of lightning the thunder 
rolled, and a low black arch rose from the distant 
shore, betokening a squall of unusual violence. 
The light sails were taken in and the heavier ones 
reefed. As the wind freshened and the well de- 
fined edge of the arch reached the forw^ard cross- 
trees, the ship was hove to. The rain fell in large 
drops, and at every instant we expected the full 
fury of a tropical tornado to burst upon us. The 
sails were clewed down and shook in the wind, as 
if everything was going to ruin, while the ship 
paused in her course, waiting the final charge of the 
elements ; but it passed over, and we could not log 
it as anything more than a " stiff breeze.'* As the 
night was dark, we lay-to till morning, when the 
bark seen the day before was nowhere in sight ; 
but the vulcano of Viejo w^as before us, the land- 
mark for the port of Realejo. All sail w^as spread 
to take advantage of a favorable wind, but before 
noon we were becalmed in sight of the harbor. 
Toward night a light breeze from the seaward 
carried us in. We took a pilot who came off in a 
small boat with a confederate having fruit to ped- 
dle at exorbitant prices. The man who acted the 
part of the pilot was recognized as the notorious 
''Chris. Lilly," who killed McCoy, at Hoboken, 
some years since, and who fled for his country' s 

The entrance to the river is very obscure, but is 
easy and safe to one who has ever entered it. A 
small island lies across the mouth of the river, 
leaving a passage on either side ; but the one on 


the right is shoal, and the sea breaks in heavily. 
A few miles to the west of the harbor is the vol- 
cano of Cosaguina, which, though not so imposing 
as V^iejo, is famous for its recent eruption, one of 
the most terrific on record. Its sides are naked 
and deeply furrowed by the overflow of lava, pre- 
senting a very desolate appearance, though its fires 
are apparently slumbering. On entering this place 
from the southwest, no less than ten isolated vol- 
canic peaks, named on the sea chart, are visible. 
The highest of these is the one that lies back from 
the anchorage, and is the landmark to those enter- 
ing. Seen from the westward it is a perfectly 
formed cone ; like all the others, it is dormant, 
though a little cap of mist or cloud, which forms 
as fast as it is blown off, is mistaken by many for 

We passed quite a number of vessels at anchor 
in the river that had left San Francisco before us, 
but none with later dates, though we thought ours 
a very long passage. Before our anchor was down 
we were surrounded by canoes with fruit of almost 
every variety, of which we have been deprived for 
two years. Prices fell fast as competition rose ; 
dimes were in great demand, and a large amount 
of fruit changed hands. In two hours the ship's 
deck was covered with the refuse of bananas, 
oranges, pine-apples, mangoes, sepotas and sugar- 
cane, besides other little fancy fruits whose names 
I did not care to remember. The same reckless 
disregard for the preservation of health was shown 
that had marked the whole career of the gold 


hunters and sent so many of them to their graves 
Many of the natives looked amiable, butconvincec 

us that they were apt scholars in the arts of the 

outlawed North Americans that have settled amonj 

them. Though disposed to be very extortionatt 

in their prices, they were so quite innocently, an< 

were ver^' well satisfied if they got anything fo 

their commodities. The harbor of Realejo is th ^ ^ 

mouth of a small stream, which, though called a 

river, has no current, except such as is caused h^m^K=zDy 

the tides. The banks are low and covered wil ^th 

mangroves, but the scene appeared to us beautifi^ — iJ, 

and that place must be barren indeed that does n< ^t 

gladden the eyes that have looked only upon th 

blue sea for many weary weeks. We remained 

deck until the sun had set, and the canoes had 

left us to the reaction consequent upon a day 

excitement, to hear only the harsh scream of p« 

rots, the flapping of the solemn heron along tl 

shore, and the dull monotone of the distant sea. 

^ZThap. IX. REALEJO. 197 


ealejo — Its capture by buccaneers — Impositions by fellow coun- 
in men — An old church — A night on shore — Mounted for the 
journey — An involuntary companion — Chinandiga — Chain- 
gang — Our guide— Our party — Chichigalpa — Leon — Naga- 
roie — Another Californian robber — Lake Managua — Beautiful 
scenery — Meiearis — Kill a monkey — Town of Managua. 

That night was spent on board, and after break- 
st the following morning we took leave of Capt. 

F^oiasland, whose careful attentions and kindness of 
he3,rt will long be held in grateful remembrance. 
Th^ most of the passengers, tired of the sea voy- 
^gr^, determined to leave the ship here instead of 
8*0 i ng to Panama. A large canoe, called a bungo, 
^^^-<de from one of the immense trees this country 
'^^^ Irishes, received us and our baggage, and we 
P^c><:eeded up the river for six miles. The shores 
*^^ the whole distance were lined with mangroves, 
siix^ular trees, growing in some respects like the 
t>a.r>.yan, and extending their pendulous branches 

^ ^a considerable distance into the water. They 
^^"V^ er all the muddy shores so as almost to conceal 

f^^^m from sight, even at low tide. The river con- 

*^ Vaed to grow narrower, until at length our biuigo 
^^V:tld go no higher. Above us the river had 
indled to a noisy brook, where we tumbled out 


on some muddy honeycombed rocks and pick 
our way up into the town. On the high bank sto 
a group of copper-colored men, in dirty white co 
ton clothing, armed with old flint-lock musket 
representing Custom House officers. Near 
was a large one-story adobe building, with a ti 
roof, like all that I had seen in South America, 
few boxes were scattered about, and idlers we 
plenty. Our baggage was soon on the heads 
some natives, who led the way to the town, 
we followed on past a row of thatched cottag 
half concealed by the trees and cacti, for the d 
tance of half a mile, when we found ourselves ia ^ 

town of considerable size, but irregular, filthy ai"^ ^ 

Realejo was destroyed by a party of buccanee 
in the seventeenth century. Their chief obje 
was the capture of the city of Leon, fifty leagu 
distant inland. The evidences of former gre^- 
ness and wealth meet you at every step — here 
regular, substantial pavement, now disused, ar^ 
everywhere the foundations of large, strong wal 
of masonry, whose superstructure has given pla 
to thatched cottages, a few of the better class ha 
ing adobe walls. The ruins of a large convert 
whose solid masonry has withstood the storms 
nearly two centuries, still lift their broken arch. 
and dome, fissured by fire and earthquake ; ti 
is rendering them more imperishable, by bindi 
them up with climbing trees and vines, that cov^ 
them like the meshes of a net. 

The hotel where our baggage was carried \^ 

Chap. IX. IMPOSITIONS. 1 99 

of modern construction, having a second story with 
a veranda on all sides. This was called the 
"American/' and I recognized as the host Mr. 
Mulhado, formerly of San Francisco, and late of 
Sacramento. Tickets for dinner were furnished 
at the bar, and when we sat down to the table we 
regretted that we had not eaten our tickets and 
left the dinner to be consumed by our contempt. 
It was served up with a parsimony better suited 
to a prospecting party at the mines than to a coun- 
try overflowing with its abundance. The charges 
were extortionate. I left the table angry and 
hungry, and went out regretting that I could not 
talk the language of the country, as it made me 
in a measure dependent on these scoundrels, when 
chance led me to an old church, whose walls were 
crumbling with age and covered with lichens and 
grass. The niches in the front, where formerly 
statues were supposed to have stood, were almost 
obliterated. In a little thatched shed near by 
were three bells, which had evidently suffered the 
ordeal of fire and were badly broken, but were 
still made to ring out their matins and vespers as 
when they hung in the tower of the convent two 
hundred years ago. The church was accidentally 
left undestroyed by the pirates. The roof was of 
tile, supported on wide rafters, and the floor of 
square bricks. Notwithstanding the rude display 
of sculptured wood and gilded ornaments upon the 
altars and walls, it had a gloomy, saddening ap- 
pearance. On one side was a variety of gay flow- 
ers decking the image and shrine of the Virgin ; 

200 AN OLD CHURCH. Chap. IX. 

some were in wreaths and festoons, others were 
made into small bouquets and introduced into the 
mouths of broken glass bottles or earthenware. 
Opposite to this, where hung the wooden image of 
the crucified Saviour, was an old dusty skull and 
other human bones. Within the chancel was 
another altar, upon which were various toys and 
flowers — little offerings of piety such as school 
children bring to a favorite mistress. While I 
stood with uncovered head in this rude but solemn 
temple, a half-clad female entered and knelt in the 
middle of the floor. Fearing that my presence 
might be regarded as an intrusion, I removed my 
unsanctified feet from the floor, and, picking up a. 
large cluster of purple flowers that grew in th^- 
threshold,. I put it in the buttonhole of my coat^ 
and walked out into somebody's garden. 

Having helped myself plentifully to fruit, I re- 
turned to the hotel and engaged a hammock for" 
the night. At the time of the discovery of America- 
hammocks were in general use by the natives, and 
to this day they are the most conspicuous and use— 
ful article of furniture in every house. They are^ 
beautifully woven from a species of native grass^ 
and are both large and elastic. For comfort and 
cleanliness, I prefer them to any sleeping accom— 
modations that I have seen. Between the annoy- 
ance of mosquitoes and the disturbance occasioned 
by disorderly travelers, my first night on shor^ 
was passed very uncomfortably. Several partiei^ 
of men who have been to California have conspired 
here to waylay their more fortunate countryme 


by going into the forwarding business, and a more 
graceless set of swindlers never infested a Christian 

There are two modes of conveyance. One is 
by a clumsy two-wheeled vehicle, called a carreta, 
covered with raw-hides, and drawn by four oxen. 
The wheels are transverse sections of large trees, 
about six inches thick. To the end of the tongue 
is fastened a cross-piece, which is lashed to the 
horns of the wheel oxen, so that the carreta can 
not capsize without lifting one of the oxen from 
his feet. When the floor is covered with baggage 
there is just room for two or three men to crawl 
in between it and the raw-hide cover. Six men 
are furnished with one of these and a driver, who 
sits on the carreta armed with a long sharp goad, 
which he thrusts into the animals until they bleed, 
when he would urge them along, while a boy, ten 
or twelve years old, precedes them as guide, carry- 
ing a machete, or long knife, which is worn by 
nearly all the natives while on the road, and which 
serves the three-fold use of sword, axe and eating 
knife, and without which it would be difficult to 
penetrate the thickets. In this manner transpor- 
tation is performed to Granada, and the price asked 
for each person is $6. The other mode is on 
horseback, and the charge made is the full value 
of a horse. I obtained a good horse, and set out 
with one companion, on the morning of the 2d of 
December, accompanied by a guide. When about 
to start, my attention was arrested by a painful 
spectacle. The dead body of a returning Cali- 


fornian was borne along on a cart, like a dead dog, 
by the natives, unattended by a white man, and 
uncovered from the sun and dust. 

To anyone at all sensible of the responsibilities 
of the people of the United States to their less 
civilized neighbors, a journey in the path of Cali- 
fornia adventure will furnish many a humiliating 
lesson, if it does not cover him with shame. It is 
with pain that I think of the brutal conduct of 
many of my countrymen, as it was exhibited dur- 
ing the whole route through Central America. The 
character which the nation enjoys they arrogate to 
themselves, and abuse the confidence which it in- 
spires. With less claims as individuals to a char- 
acter for refinement, they perpetrate the most 
indecent outrages upon a people whom they call 
unenlightened, but who are greatly their superiors 
in every virtue that gives value to civilization. 

Leaving the town behind us, we urged our 
horses at a quick pace along the narrow and thickly 
wooded road, in hope of finding a more open, or 
at least a dryer one. We passed companies of 
girls dressed with calico skirts, secured just above 
the hips, leaving their bodies otherwise naked, 
carrying various kinds of produce upon their heads, 
or fowls in their hands, an extraordinary demand 
having been created for these last by the fastidious 
tastes of Californians, and no table could be con- 
sidered as set for them, unless it were supplied with 
eggs and chickens, for they had been for a long 
time without them. 

Soon after, we fell in with two natives, one of 


whom, by the peculiarity and elegance of his dress, 
we knew to be a priest, and, as we had heard much 
of the dangers of the road, though we had formid- 
able looking pistols in our belts, we still thought it 
might not be amiss to have one of his order in our 
company ; but, doubtless, for reasons to which I 
have already alluded, he did not appear to cherish 
a reciprocal desire for our society, and quickened 
his speed. ,At this time we would have parted 
company but for a curious incident. Our horses 
were all 'well acquainted with each other, had been 
in the habit of traveling together, and refused to 
be parted. When one went faster, the other was 
sure to follow, until an unfortunate slip of the 
priest s horse nearly threw him from the saddle, and 
left his sacredotal head-gear lying in the mud. Here 
we left him and his companion at a dead stand-still 
to their congratulations at having escaped from 
such bad company. 

The road was miry and greatly cut up with cart 
wheels, but there was much to interest us in the 
strange birds and flowers along the edge of the 
heavy forest that walled us in on both sides. The 
convolvulus, or morning glory, covered the border, 
and often climbed the tallest trees, and parrots flew 
back and forth screaming in alarm. A ride of 
three leagues brought us to the town of Chinan- 
diga. We had been furnished with a way bill to 
the agent for the men who owned the horses, and 
now presented it at the Fulton House, and, riding 
through the great gateway in the front, we dis- 
mounted in the court. At this place we were com- 

204 CHINANDIGA. Ciiap. IXI- 

pelled to wait until the next day for a guide and a- 
larger company. I spent the day in strolling about 
the streets, accompanied by a volunteer guide in. 
the person of a lad full dressed in a palm-leaf hac 
and a cheroot in his mouth. With the spirit of a- 
veteran smoker he chewed the stub of his cigair 
until he got a fresh one. He gamboled aroundl 
me, chatting in his jargon as fluently as though I 
understood every word of it, while the saliva- 
dropped from his chin and ran down his jolly little 
belly. While passing the cathedral, just before 
sundown, I met a party of a dozen soldiers con- 
ducting a chain-gang of two convicts to the guard- 
house ; one of them was a fat, jovial fellow, smok- 
ing a cigar and looking the very personification of 
contentment, wearing his chains with the dignity" 
of a commander. As I passed him, he asked me 
for another cigar. The officer in command grinned 
along his whole dental line, and said, *' good morn- 
ing," a chronological blunder, but in a good Eng- 
lish accent. In return, I said, '' Biienas noc/ics,*" 
On my return I passed the guard-house, where the 
soldiers were drawn up in a line with arms at sup- 
port, when the same officer again shouted out at 
the top of his voice, "good morning." The town- 
of Chinandiga is overrun with yellow dogs, almost 
too thin and gaunt to make a shadow, and so wealw 
that they often fall over in the effort to bark. 

The sun was just sinking over the Viejo vol-^ 
cano when the party, now reinforced to sixteen 
were in the saddle ready to start. .''In the saddle' 
must be understood as a figure of speech ; a saw 


horse would be more literal, and convey a truer 
idea of the machine. It was a frame over which 
a raw-hide had been stretched, long enough to 
carry double, and admirably suited to gall the poor 
animals between which it was interposed. The 
saddle that I had ridden thus far had been taken 
from me and sent back to decoy somebody else 
into the snare. However, I was determined not 
to allow my zest for a pleasant journey to be de- 
stroyed by impositions to which I had become so 
accustomed. A copious shower had fallen in the 
night, filling all the hollows with water, but it 
brightened the green leaves and revived the odors 
from innumerable flowers. The road was similar 
to that we had traveled the day before, though the 
trees were larger, and one variety was conspicuous 
from Its dark, glossy leaf, interspersed with small 
white flowers, and its branches often united over 
our heads. The inhabitants are collected in towns. 
I saw no dwellings by the way or break in the 
forest, and we pushed on in a disorderly squad 
along the cart road, which had never known an age 
of internal improvement. No one ever stops to 
fill a rut or remove a tree fallen across the road. 

Our guide is a Creole, dressed in white round- 
about and pants, with a dragoon's' sword and pis- 
tols at his side. He is a surly fellow, and rides at 
a slow pace, with his hands resting on his hips, in 
dogged silence, except when some one of the party 
attempts to pass him, then he sings out, '' Poco 
tiempo r which, in the language of the country, 
conveys the general idea of procrastination, and is 


in more general use than any other phrase. One 
hears it all hours of the day, whatever the occasion, 
or however urgent the need. I have thought it 
would be an appropriate motto on the arms of the 

Our party of Californians is dressed in ever)- 
variety of costume seen in California, and armed 
with various weapons, among which the heavy 
Missourian rifle is conspicuous. As we ride along 
the narrow, winding way, overarched with gigantic 
trees, animated by flocks of parrots and scarlet 
macaws, the view is highly picturesque, and it seems 
to me would do no injustice to a band of outlaws 
of the seventeenth century. 

We had traveled six leagues when we arrived at 
Chichigalpa, resembling the last town in size and 
general appearance, but more neat, while the cac- 
tus fences were more general and regular. We 
did not stop here, but rode on to Josoltega, two 
leagues farther, where we took dinner, and about 
three o'clock, in the afternoon, the spires and tur- 
rets of numerous churches appeared over the crest 
of an opposite hill. The guide pointed to them, 
and said, '* Leon." The road here led down a 
considerable ravine, with a noisy stream flowing 
through it. It \Vas about four o'clock when our 
dusty cavalcade filed through the silent streets of 
the capital city of Nicaragua, and stopped at the 
house of a native. 

Leon looks like a very old town, and was built 
of substantial masonry. The houses are mostly 
of one story, neat after the Spanish style, and some 

Chap. IX. LEON. 207 

of them very imposing. Under the Spanish rule 
this city was populous and weahhy, but now it is 
ruinous and desolate. The ravages of civil war 
meet your eye at every step, as fresh as though 
they were the work of yesterday, and there seems 
to be no disposition to repair the waste. The 
cathedral on the great Plaza is still a magnificent 
structure, but even this is speckled with gun-shots, 
and the plastered walls in the interior of the tower 
opposite the windows are badly defaced from the 
same cause. The buildings in the immediate neigh- 
borhood were destroyed, and the ruins are still un- 
disturbed. Those exposed to the fire from the 
cathedral reminded me of a board fence which had 
been long used as a target, and the window sashes 
are broken by musket balls. The houses on streets 
enfiladed by the artillery stationed in the Plaza 
show deep furrows in their walls, plowed by the 
shot, and even the iron balustrade to the windows 
of our hotel, through which a cannon shot had 
passed, has the broken ends of the iron rods still 
projecting as the ball left them. I could hardly 
believe that these were the effects of the revo- 
lutionary struggle which made the Spanish colonies 
free, nearly forty years ago. The scene produced 
upon me a feeling of melancholy. There did not 
appear to be a want of inhabitants, but it seemed 
that civilization had been blasted in the bud, that 
it expired in the convulsion that gave birth to free- 
dom. The evidences of the sanguinary war of the 
revolution, the success of the people afterward ifi 
maintaining their independence when the Mexican 

208 THE INN. Chap. IX. 

States, aided by the Guatemalian forces, sought to 
compel the other Central American States to join 
their confederation, and the successful resistance 
made by the city of Leon to the buccaneers, who 
were seldom foiled, proved the people to be not 
wanting in courage. But their geographical posi- 
tion has made them more and more obscure. As 
other States were more accessible to commerce, 
and, though they possessed a country unsurpassed 
for climate, beauty and fertility, there was no mar- 
ket for their productions, while it required but 
little to supply their wants, without stimilus their 
energies have become enervated. 

The inn at which we stopped contained a long 
range of rooms used for sleeping apartments, with 
massive walls and brick floors, with only one win- 
dow in each, revealing the smoky walls and raft- 
ers, hung with tapestry woven by spiders and 
breaking away under the accumulation of dust. 
The only furniture in these rooms consisted of 
narrow bedsteads covered with raw-hide, and on 
these, without even the luxury of a pillow, you 
were expected to make peace with Morpheus. A 
portico extended around the court, where the table 
was spread. In the evening a train of carretas 
arrived from the west, filled our inn to overflow- 
ing, and attracted an inquisitive crowd of natives 
to the door. A group of boys gathered about me 
while seated on the steps, and asked questions in 
a very friendly way, about our schools and boys, 
and attempted to show off" their acquirements by 
repeating a variety of English phrases and the 

Chap. IX. CHALLENGED. 209 

conjugation of the Latin verbs. They spoke 
highly of their schools, and gave me the impres- 
sion that they were very good boys. I asked one 
of them if he would go with me to North America. 
After some hesitation, he said he thought his father 
would not allow him to do so ; but he ran off, and 
soon after returned with a little naked fellow, ^bout 
five years old, who he said would go, having no 
father, mother, or other incumbrance. One of the 
boys was blind in one eye, and presented him- 
self with the utmost confidence to have me restore 
the sight, for which his father would give me mticha 
plata. I told him the sight was lost beyond re- 
storation. Soon after he reappeared, leading by 
the hand a poor and infirm old woman, as a subject 
for charity. He next volunteered to guide me to 
a better hotel. The streets are narrow and lighted 
only by a candle burning in a tin lantern over each 
door, and but for my little guide I would have been 
bewildered. Passing the Plaza, I heard a shouting 
behind me, repeated several times. The boy sig- 
nified that I must answer, or I would be shot. 
Not knowing in the darkness the source of my 
danger, I called out, " What is wanted ?" I was 
told to pass on, and the ring of a musket on the 
pavement told me I had somehow come under 
military rule. After wandering about nearly an 
hour, we came to an inn, with the American flag 
over the door, where I engaged a hammock and 
hung myself up for the night. There was to have 
been 2i fandango at this house, but the ladies, much 
to their credit, would not appear when Californians 

2 1 NAG AROTE. Chap. IX. 

were expected, and the gentlemen were having the 
fun all by themselves. I fell asleep to the music 
of the banjo and guitar. 

We left Leon about eight o'clock the following 
morning. A ride of a mile through a country' cov- 
ered with weeds brought us again into the forest, 
and we traveled in its shade eight leagues to the 
town of Puebla Nueva, a small and indifferent 
place. Here we found a very meagre dinner, and 
continued our journey to Nagarote. four leagues 
farther, where we stopped for the night at the 
house of an American. Here we met with the 
shabbiest treatment we had yet experienced. The 
man had hired the portico and one room of the 
house, with the privilege of the yard for the horses, 
for twenty dollars a month, and a native cook for 
a trifle, and in a country where provisions were 
abundant, he had the impudence to charge us 
higher rates than are paid in the best hotels of 
New York. The room was small and furnished 
with narrow bedsteads like those at Leon, but two 
persons were expected to occupy each one, and 
then one half of our company were compelled to 
take lodgings on the brick floor of the portico, for 
which he charged us half price.- To satisfy us with 
a bad supper we were promised a good breakfast, 
and we made our arrangements to start by break 
of day. There was great confusion among the 
fowls roosting in the orange trees that evening, 
and we heard notes of formidable preparation, 
under which pleasing illusion we slept well. It 
was said that the cocks continued to crow all night ; 


they certainly were in full chorus as we were roused 
to breakfast. One solitary chanticleer graced the 
table for twenty men, and he was so tough that he 
might have ruled the roost in the time of the Span- 
ish vice-royalty ; but with eggs, frijoles, and choco- 
late we made out to appease the cravings of our 
hunger. The excuse this time was, that he had 
not sufficient time to prepare for so early a statt. 
When ready to leave, we were told that we were 
expected to pay for the keeping of the horses, 
which was contrary to our stipulations. We then 
made up our minds unanimously to patronize no 
more American houses, and we told the guide that 
if he did not feed the horses at his own expense, 
they might go without food, and set out with a 
general denunciation upon impositions in general. 
It was near sunrise when we were again in the 
saddle. We had pursued our way through the 
forest down a gradual descent about three miles, 
when a broad sheet of water opened before us ; it 
was Lake Managua. The road laid along its shore 
for several miles, so close that the dash of its waves 
washed our horses feet. I was so capitivated by 
the wild beauty of the scene that I reined up my 
horse and allowed the cavalcade to pass on. A 
rocky cliff rose fifty feet high parallel to the shore, 
and in the deep shade of trees troops of red 
monkeys were swaying themselves from tree to 
tree, catching at a distant limb, now with the foot 
or hand, and now with the tail. Parrots flew from 
all parts, as if they meditated an attack upon our 
rear guard, though they kept at a respectful dis- 

2 12 METEARIS. Cii.\p. IX. 

tance, and only made a great outcry. Along the 
shore were great numbers of water fowl, from the 
white pelican to the snipe, both waders and divers, 
and so unaccustomed to attacks of men that one 
would nearly ride over them before they would fly. 
I dismounted to look for shells, but could find 
none. At length the road led up the hill side, and 
so charming was the scenery that I could have lin- 
gered along it for weeks with pleasure. Suddenly, 
while still enjoying the deep shade of the forest, 
we found ourselves in the midst of the town of 
Metearis, but not so suddenly that our arrival was 
not prepared for by the natives, for as soon as we 
had dismounted we were surrounded by vendors of 
fruit, chiclia, and whatever else they thought they 
could sell to travelers. There was a little naked 
lad with a large calabash full -of oranges. Holding 
them up, he said : " Compra ? Todos por media /' 
and here a little girl, half naked, with a calabash 
full of cigars, and a look of good natured innocence 
mixed with coquetry, also said, ** Compj^a r Her 
lip pouts, and she looks disappointed when you 
say, *' A-o euro,'' and withdraws reluctantly, as if 
she expected you to change your mind soon. 

After a repast on eggs and fruit, we resumed our 
way, which was diversified by hill and valley, wilder 
and more romantic than anything we had yet seen. 
Thus far from Realejo the soil was everyw^here 
\vell adapted to cultivation and free from rock ; but 
this day we passed many volcanic masses, and the 
road in places was cut through beds of ash-colored 
lava. Monkeys were numerous, and one of them, 


presuming too far on his relationship, was shot ; it 
was a large black one with a white face. The ball 
had passed through his heart, killirfg him instantly. 
There was such a look of humanity in the pale, 
dead face that everyone turned from it with a re- 
proach to the " Pike " who shot it. We crossed 
high ground which was called " The Volcano," but 
for what reason I could not learn ; it might have 
been the base of a mountain — I could not tell, so 
deeply were we buried in the forest. 

About the middle of the afternoon we heard the 
rumbling of distant thunder, and masses of dark 
clouds were shutting in the little strips of sky 
overhead. I was unwilling to get wet, and spur- 
red on ahead of the guide. He looked squally, 
too, and grumbled, *' Poco tiempo r I pointed to 
the clouds and hurried the faster. At length I 
reached the crest of a hill where was a bivouac of 
fruit venders. As I rode past, they, too, cried, 
" Poco tiempo r but I had ^ot clear of the guide, 
and I meant to keep him at a distance. He never 
passed a place where there was any excuse for 
stopping without doing so, but he seemed to fear 
the loss of his horse, and on he came as fast as 
his steed would carry him. At length I came to 
a descent so difficult that I was compelled to dis- 
mount and lead my horse. This continued for a 
quarter of a mile, and is the only difficult part of 
the route for wheel vehicles. At the foot of the 
hill was another shed for the accommodation of 
travelers. Here the inevitable rain and guide 
overtook me, followed by the party rattling down 

2 14 MANAGUA. Chap. IX. 

the rocky road, whooping and yelling. An old 
woman kept this "station,** and her only com- 
panion was a nfonkey of the common red kind, 
but very domestic. A western man in our party 
bought him, and he became one of our party. The 
parting between them was very touching. It is 
said that tears are confined to the human family, 
but my eyes deceived me, or that monkey wept. 

A short ride over a plain brought us to Mana- 
gua, an old and interesting town. We were met 
on the way by Senor Bruno, who conducted us to 
his hospitable inn, where we were made to feel the 
unbounded hospitality of the old Castilian blood. 
When I had satisfied the cravings of hunger, I 
strolled out to see what might be of interest in the 
town. Standing on the shore of the lake, where 
the trees on its margin threw their long shadows 
over its surface, how much I longed for the power 
to convey a correct impression of the interesting 
scene, combining all that was picturesque in nature 
with the innocent simplicity of a people but little 
removed from the pastoral state. Hundreds of 
women were gathering up the clothing which had 
been washed in the lake, or were frolicking in their 
evening bath. It seemed that all the younger 
portion of the inhabitants were carrying water, for 
there was an uninterrupted file of them, bearing 
on their heads jars holding from two to four gal- 
lons. It is in this way that all the water used in 
the town is obtained. Close by me was a group 
of girls hulling corn. The corn, having been 
previously soaked in ashes and water, was put into 


large wooden bowls, and the girls, with bare feet, 
tread it, changing the water frequently, until it 
looked white and delicious. I next went to the 
cathedral, an old, rude, but imposing edifice^ Buz- 
zards were perched in great numbers upon the tur- 
rets, but we were refused admission by an old 
priest, unless we would give a real. Returning 
toward the inn, I passed a rude stone statue on 
the corner of one of the streets, planted half way 
in the ground to serve as a post. I recognized it 
at once as of the same origin as those figured in 
works on Central America. I felt a thrilling in- 
terest in looking upon one of those mysterious 
relics of an unknown age and people. I wished 
to know where it was found, and, summoning all 
my Spanish to the undertaking, I approached a 
group of natives who were standing in a doorway 
opposite, and looking with as great curiosity at 
me. What I said I never knew, but it only raised 
a laugh, and I returned to renew my inspection of 
the figure in no better humor at having contributed 
to their amusement. 

2 1 6 DR. RIVAS, Chap. X. . 


Doctor Rivas — Ancient ruins — In the forest — Cross a lava bed — 
Nindiri — Massaya — Religio-military celebration — A chamber 
of death — Buy a macaw — Granada — Dismiss our horses — 
Roast monkey — Embark on Lake Nicaragua — Boat swamped 
and build another — Embark again and again swamped. 

On my return to the inn, I found an invitation 
from Dr. Rivas, a native of Managua, to spend 
the evening at his house. He was a young man, 
educated at Guatemala, which he termed the Paris 
of Central America, and his library was well sup- 
plied with books in the German, French, Spanish 
and Latin languages, but of English he knew 
nothing. He manifested the warmest interest in 
Americans, and did not. spare any effort to please. 
His uncle, an old priest, swung in a hammock all 
the evening without speaking, but two sisters of 
the doctor were very social, sang, danced, talked 
Spanish, smoked cigars, and spat fluently. 

The only means of communication between the 
doctor and myself was through the dead language 
of Virgil, which he spoke freely, but his pronunci- 
ation made it difficult for me to understand him. 
In that unsatisfactory way I gathered much that 
interested me. The statue which had attracted 
my notice, he said, was taken from an old ruin at 

i'HAP. X. MR. SQUIER. 217 

he foot of the steep hill I had passed in the after- 
loon. This ruin he represented as being very 
arge, and only partially explored. There were 
nany others on an islet in the lake. He proposed 
o me to remain with him, and visit these places. 
Nothing could have given me more pleasure, ex- 
:ept seeing home, than a few ^weeks' research in 
his interesting region. From the density of the 
brests the country is almost unexplored, and what 
nonuments of the greatest importance to the his- 
:ory of this continent are now lying concealed by 
:he thickets on the shores of these beautiful lakes ! 
How had my boyish imagination been fired to ex- 
plore these hidden mysteries, when thousands of 
miles away, and I had not the most distant hope 
of ever seeing the country in which they were 
said to exist ! I was now in their very midst, and 
about to leave without giving a single day to their 
examination, but time and hardship had tempered 
my archaeological fervor, and long wandering had 
made me weary of it. 

Of our late Consul, Mr. Squier, the doctor spoke 
with warmth as a man who had the entire confi- 
dence of his people, and he hoped he would soon 
be returned to them. To the people of the North 
American States he looked as to brothers, and he 
hoped the time was not distant when Nicaragua 
would become one of the confederation, when our 
citizens would settle in their fertile, beautiful coun- 
try, and their waste pjaces be made to blossom 
like the rose. He believed there were many bad 
men among us, but he had great confidence in the 

2l8 IN THE FOREST. Chap. X. 

lofty, generous spirit of the great American people. 

It was late when I -returned to the inn; the 
hammock which I had bespoken was occupied, and 
the doctor sent me the one I saw hanging in his 
house. This was too long for the room at the inn, 
and I suspended it in the porch opening on the 
yard. I was rousgd at an unreasonable hour by a 
mule pulling at the hammock strings. 

We set out after breakfast, making our ''adios' 
to our hosts of the evening before, and leaving a 
letter of recommendation for our landlord to those 
who were following us with the carretas. The 
doctor gave me a letter to Justo Lago, of the 
Spanish Hotel at Granada, and we plunged again 
into the forest. The road ascended gradually un- 
til we reached an elevation of several hundred feet, 
after a sharp ride of two or three hours. Here 
the crest of the hill was free of trees, and an exten- 
sive view was furnished of a large extent of coun- 
try lying between the twp lakes, buried in the dark 
green of the primeval forest. Not a sight or 
sound of life was there in all that vast space. Be- 
hind us was the Lake of Managua. As yet not a 
sail spots its surface, and man leaves uncontested 
the dominion of the forest to wild beasts and rep- 
tiles. A few miles farther brought us unexpectedly 
to an abrupt termination of all vegetation, and one 
of the most interesting points in our journey. 
Near the very spot where the road crossed was a 
volcanic fountain, from which had flowed a vast 
quantity of black lava, and its course could be 
traced for miles down the hill, where it had de- 


CThap. X. CROSS A LAVA BED. 219 

stroyed everything in its track, and in the distance 
5t appeared like the black loam of a swamp just 
Turned up by the plow; but nearer to us, the scene 
-w^as wild and rugged in the extreme. When 
"the flow of lava diminished, and the surface hard- 
<ined, the liquid part beneath continued to flow 
down, leaving a crust, which, having nothing to 
svipport it, tumbled in; and the whole appears like 
rock thrown up, on the spot, in all possible angles 
and shapes — black, glassy, and fused together at 
all points of contact. A large tree had been lying 
on the ground in the course of the fiery stream, 
and the lava had been cast around it, and as 
the tree was consumed, a hollow cylinder remained 
with the impression of the bark perfectly distinct 
on the inner surface. It is said that ninety 
years have elapsed since the eruption, and the 
lava flows of previous eruptions have formed a 
deep soil overgrown by a dense wood to the 
very edge of the recent deposit; yet these ninety 
years have not decomposed the volcanic mass suf- 
ficiently to give support to lichens or moss, and it 
looks as black and hard as though it was the work 
of yesterday. A short distance brought us in 
view of the volcano of Massaya on our right, and 
the distant waters of Lake Nicaragua on our left. 
Descending once more to the plain, the country 
exhibited more evidences of improvement than 
I had yet seen. Groves of plantains and fields of 
corn in every stage of growth announced our 
approach to another town, but one not down on 
my list. 1 was, therefore, surprised, but my 



Chap. X. 

surprise did not equal my astonishment. Never 
had my eyes rested upon a more captivating 
scene. The town was laid out in squares sep- 
arated *by avenues, and subdivided by hedge rows 
into smaller squares, in the center of each of 
which was a neat thatched cottage, and around 
the sides were groves of plantains or bananas, 
orange trees, loaded with fruit, and other tropi- 
cal fruits were interspersed, and high above the 
rest the cocoa-palm raised its ponderous fruit, and 
nodded tauntingly to the thirsty traveler. These 
inclosures are perfectly neat, not a dead leaf is 
allowed to remain on the ground, and the whole 
town resembled a carefully kept botanical gar- 
den more than the abode of thousands of human 
beings. It was a long mile that we rode through 
its principal street, and halted for the loiterers 
to join us. No one came out to sell fruit or salute 
us, as in other tow^ns through which we had 
passed. This place is called an Indian tow-n, and 
we had regarded the most of them as little else: 
for, though in larger ones there is more or less 
admixture of Spanish blood, the great mass of the 
population is purely Indian. But here they had 
retained all their primitive customs. A stone 
church, and an inclosure for a bull fight to take 
place that week, are all that could remind us 
that the Spaniard had been there and planted 
his faith and language. Their domestic uten- 
sils are all such as were used before the discovery 
of the continent. The corn is ground by being 
rubbed between two stones, one flat and a lit- 

Chap. X. MASSAYA. 22 1 

tie concave, and the other like a rolling-pin. 
Some of them were wrought with great labor, 
-were highly ornamented, and very ancient, hav- 
ing been handed down from generation to genera- 
tion as heirlooms, like their little homesteads. In 
two instances, I inquired when they were made, but 
the answer was, "'Quien sabeT' (Who knows?)'" 

A ride of four miles farther brought us to 
Massaya, a city said to have a population of 
30,000. An American met us, to persuade us to 
go to his house, which he assured us he had fitted 
up for our special accommodation; but we had 
experienced enough with his kind, and we went in 
a body to the house of a native. It was about an 
hour before noon when we passed the Plaza, 
the sine qua non of Spanish-American towns, and 
it presented an animating scene. Hundreds of 
Indian women, dressed in blue checked skirts, 
fastened about the waist, and with little white 

* £. G. Squier, who published his travels the year after this journal was written, 
thus apostrophizes this town : " Nindiri ! How shall I describe thee, beautiful 
Nindiri, nestling beneath the fragrant evergreen roof of tropical trees, entwining 
their branches above thy smooth avenues, and weaving green domes over the 
simple dwellings of thy peaceful inhabitants ! Thy musical name, given thee 
long ages ago, perhaps when Rome was young, has lost nothing of its melody ; 
Neenday water, Diria^ mountain — it still tells us in an ancient and almost forgot- 
ten tongue that thou slumbcrest now as of yore between the lake and the 
mountain ! Among all the fairy scenes qf quiet beauty which the eye of the 
traveler hath lingered upon, or that fancy has limned with her rosy-hued pencil, 
none can compare with thee, beautiful Nindiri, chosen alike of the mountain 
Fairies and forest Dryads, of the Sylphs of the lake, and the Naiads of the 
fountain! Nindiri, . . . quiet, primitive Nindiri! seat of the ancient 
caciques and their barbaric courts — even now, mid the din of the crowded city, 
and the crush and conflict of struggling thousands, amid grasping avarice and 
importunate penury, how turns the memory to thee as to some sweet vision of 
the night, some dreamy Arcadia, fancy-born and half unreal." 

222 **POCO TIEMPOT Chap. X. 

chemises only partly covering the chest, with 
palm-leaf hats on their heads, were offering their 
little stock in trade, which rarely consisted of 
more than a pound or two of chocolate, a small 
basket of corn, a grass hammock or two, a few 
quarts of cocoa, or a couple of calabash shells 
curiously wrought for dishes. The shops for re- 
tailing foreign goods are chiefly around the Plaza, 
and the contents of any one of them, consisting 
of the cheapest kinds of fancy articles, calicoes, 
etc., might be stowed into a common-sized cup- 
board. A game-cock tied by the leg at the door 
of each shop was the only external sign to point it 
out. Having only fifteen miles to go to reach 
Granada, the terminus of our land journey, we 
sent for our guide after dinner to get the horses 
ready, but guide and horses were gone. Two 
or three hours were spent searching for the 
deserter, when we found him arrayed in fine linen 
in the midst of a bevy of indigenous ladies. We 
were so indignant that we were tempted to collar 
him; but he put in his usual plea, "'poco tiempo — 
7nanana r and what could we do.'^ The ladies, 
too, thought it strange that we should be in 
such haste. We could not contend with them, 
and so resigned ourselves to the necessity of 
spending the day here. As soon as it was dark 
there arose a great uproar in the street, w^ith 
report of fire-arms. A crowd of boys were com- 
ing down the street swinging burning faggots 
around their heads, followed by a long procession 
of people bearing torches and firing small rockets. 


In the midst of this fiery train there was borne 
a palanquin, in which was seated some church 
dignitary in his official robes. The procession 
passed on to the cathedral and disappeared, but 
the fire-arms continued to whiz, blaze, and snap 
outside. The conclusion of the ceremony in the 
church was announced by the setting^ off a piece 
of fire-works stretched around the Plaza and 
exploding at the distance of every foot, and at 
the same instant a great number of rockets with 
variously colored lights were fired simultaneously, 
and, starting from the same point, shot their fiery 
arcs over the sky. It was a very respectable 
religio-military performance. In a few minutes 
the streets were as still as before, and I thoug^ht if 
our boys of Puritan descent could be privileged 
with fire-works to enliven the austerity of their 
religious ceremonies, it could not fail to strengthen 
their attachment to them, and make them as zeal- 
ous defenders of their faith as these Indian boys 

The room that I occupied that night was a 
small one, having a double gate opening into the 
street, large enough for loaded teams to enter. 
I was alone. The room adjoining communicated 
with it only by a large open space over a partition 
wall. The landlady's daughter was lying there 
sick, and her dying moans kept me awake for 
a long time; and when at length I had fallen 
asleep, I was roused by the creaking of the 
ponderous doors, and a man entered bearing a 
large lantern on a pole, followed by a priest with 

2 24 A CHAMBER OF DEATH. Chap. X. 

shaven and uncovered head, muttering rapidly in 
an under-tone. They passed along and disap- 
peared through a door opposite the one they 
entered; soon after, the same monotone was heard 
in the apartment of the sick girl, and it lulled 
me again to sleep. When I woke the next morn- 
ing, the moans of the sufferer were hushed, but 
the wild wailings of the bereaved mother that 
had taken its place told the sad result. It was 
a sound that I had not heard for years. I felt 
that I was getting home. 

I bought a scarlet macaw or Lapa; very gen- 
tle it would be, the kind woman told me, when it 
got acquainted with me. I procured a long pole, 
tied a cross-piece to the upper end, and secured 
my gaudy bird to it until such time as we should 
get acquainted; then, having procured a new 
guide, we set out for Granada. My attention was 
absorbed, during the mornings ride, by the unrea- 
sonable efforts of my prize to escape from the emi- 
nent position I had assigned it in the cavalcade, 
and **get acquainted with me." It bit off the 
leather strap from its leg, and was coming down; 
I would not throw it away, for it had cost me 
$2 50; it would soon cost me more, for its terrible 
bill nothing could resist, and its squawk of de- 
fiance raised its kindred, who flew from all quar- 
ters. Just as he came in dangerous proximity to 
my hands, a brilliant idea struck me. I passed the 
other end of the pole to a comrade and let go, 
when the bird to his astonishment found himself 
suddenly as high in the air as ever. This 

Chap. X. GRANADA. 225 

manoeuvre was repeated, from time to time until 
we came to a cabin, where we stopped, and throw- 
ing a jacket over his head, we again secured him 
to his perch with a hemp cord, when he employed 
his time in alternately biting and screaming for 
the rest of the journey. 

Granada is said to be the oldest town in Central 
America; it is near the head of Lake Nicaragua, 
and about a mile from its shore. It has a Euro- 
pean business aspect, and is therefore less interest- 
ing to me. There were no means at hand to 
descend the lake, but we found an enterprising 
countryman building a flat-bottom boat of boards, 
on the model often seen on our northern rivers, 
and we engaged it to take us down when it should 
be finished. 

On every house was a bill, printed in large cap- 
itals: "Viva Santa Maria, Virgen de Guada- 
lupe." On inquiring the meaning of it, we were 
told that it was the anniversary of the appearance 
of the patron saint of Granada, where she arrived 
in a dry goods box, after a rapid passage across 
the lake — so rapid that the fishermen could not 
overtake her in their boats. I received this tale 
at first with some grains of common salt, but upon 
further knowledge of the habits of the boatmen 
on the lake, I believe it. Fire-works in the even- 
ing, as at Massaya, and a comfortable night at the 
Spanish Hotel. 

The next day the carretas arrived, and our 
party were once more together. When gathered 
at the well-set table, we were very merry. Cap- 

2 26 ROAST MONKEY. Cuap. X. 

tain Titcomb sat next to me, and was helping 
himself very liberally to a leg of what he denomi- 
nated lamb. A suspicion flashed across my mind 
that it was not meat that was permitted to be 
eaten by the Levitical law or my little knowledge 
of comparative anatomy was at fault. Calling the 
host, I pointed to the dish, and asked him what 
it was. He innocently replied, ''Mono'' (monkey). 
The Captain looked contemplatively at the re- 
mains, then rose, with his face as pale as a boy s 
after his first essay at tobacco, and calling for 
a small coffin, retired. I thought anyone that 
could eat garlic ought to eat monkey without a 

When the boat was nearly ready, we collected 
our baggage on the shore to embark at the earli- 
est possible moment. Some large bungos and 
a small schooner arrived, and two of our company 
left us to take passage in the latter. Both died 
soon after from fever. Our boat was launched 
and the baggage put on board, but for some cause 
the owner did not appear until the day was 
too far spent to make a start. We slept on the 
shore, and awoke at daylight to find the boat was 
filled with water and our baggage soaked. Cap- 
tain Titcombs charts, chronometers, etc.. were 
ruined. The question now arose, if this boat 
could not live on the water without a single man 
in it, what were we to expect of a trip on the lake 
of a hundred miles. We had another boat built 
of twice the size of the first, and this required the 
delay of another week. In the meantime, bungo 


after bungo arrived* and departed, carrying fifty or 
sixty persons each, until five hundred had gone, and 
we were left almost alone. It was a novel sight 
to see the embarkation of these returning adven- 
turers, with their monkeys, pari*ots, macaws, blank- 
ets, and bags containing six days' provisions, etc. 
The scene upon that shore was one not easily for- 
gotten. We whiled away the time wandering 
along the shores and about the suburbs of the 
town. The natives are everywhere very kind, and 
saluted us as we passed with such English as they 
had acquired from their more civilized guests, and 
even the little ones would say, smiling with genu- 
ine good feeling, " Good-by — go to h — 11 !" A 
lad of twelve or fourteen years asked me for a 
cigar, which I gave him, and offered him the 
lighted one I was smoking to light his with, when 
he innocently put the whole one in his pocket and 
the other one in his mouth, and walked off with a 
^^muchas gracias'' entirely unconscious of having 
practiced a good joke. I walked a mile to find 
another light. The trade wind blows from across 
the lake, and Granada is therefore a healthy place. 
Miasma will not cross any considerable surface of 
water, and we slept in hammocks stretched be- 
tween trees on the shore of the lake with perfect 
impunity. The water of the lake is coolest at the 
surface, and is swarming with fish. Its beach 
is made up of magnetic iron-sand and pumice- 
stone. Our second boat was at length finished, and 
-we stowed our effects on board, with stores, and were 
ready to leave at short notice, on the arrival of the 

228 BOAT SWAMPED. Chap. X. 

morning breeze. At length the auspicious breeze 
came, but the pilot did not, and when he arrived 
the native that we had shipped for a crew had 
deserted. Noon had passed and the breeze had 
roughened the surface of the lake so that the 
waves all wore white caps, when our crew came 
with his arms full of strips of jerked beef and fat 
pork, and threw them into our laps. We pulled 
off from the shore and attempted to hoist a sail, 
when we found there was no cleet to which to 
fasten the sheet. The waves increasing, broke 
over the boat at both ends, wetting our provisions; 
my macaw "made the acquaintance*' of one of the 
men, and nearly Jbit his finger off. I lost confi- 
dence in our sea-captains nautical judgment; 
thought of something I had heard long ago, that 
sea-captains are generally drowned in small boats; 
and, in short, we were all on the verge of mutiny, 
and clamorous to put back. The boat s head was 
then turned toward the beach, and none too soon, 
for before we had got within one hundred feet of 
the shore, the boat filled and we went down. 
Fortunately we were on the soundings, and 
reached the beach without loss of life. We now 
procured tickets for the next trip of the schooner 
to sail three days hence. On the same day, the 
bungos returned for a fresh supply of provisions, 
not having been able to get five miles away fof 
want of a free wind (some of them had been pass- 
ing a week among the little islands under the lec;^ 
of a point of land in sight of us), and the tow 
was overrun with disappointed men. 

Chap. XI. EifBARK AG.-MN. 229 


Embark for the third time — Momotombo — A night on the lake — 
San Carlos — Fort San Juan — Down the San Juan River — A 
night in a canoe — Down the rapids — Night and storm and 
darkness — The crew mutiny — Greytown — Brig Mechanic — 
The Corn Islands — St. Andrews — Explore the island — A 
norther — Lose our anchor — Perilous situation — Saved bv the 
presence of mind of Captain Sisson — Leave the Captain on 
shore and stand off — The mates bewilderment. 

On the twelfth day of our arrival at Granada, 
we stowed ourselves away on board the schooner, 
and started for the last time. We crossed the 
shadow of Momotombo, with the rocky pinnacles 
of its awful crater in full relief on the sunset sky, 
and Ometep^t rose before us from the middle of 
the lake as symmetrical as a slightly truncated 
cone, about whose base the splendor of ancient 
civilization nestled long ages ago, secure in her 
watery defenses from barbaric invasion, and whose 
summit caught the last rays of the setting sun 
long after the purple shadows had settled over 
the landscape. The vessel was schooner-rigged, 
nine feet beam and thirty-four feet keel. It was 
stipulated that not more than thirty passengers 
should be put on board, but before the anchor was 
up, her little deck was covered with fifty. It was 
vain to remonstrate; we had paid our passage. 

230 A NIGHT OX THE LAKE. Chap. XI — 

$25, and we had no alternative but to submit, or* 
stay where we were. The little cabin was filled 
with our traps, and we all seated ourselves in two 
tiers — one around the cabin roof, which was raised 
about two feet from the main deck, and left a gang- 
way eighteen inches wide, all the way round, with- 
out waist-boards. This was occupied by the 
second tier, all so closely packed that there was 
not room for change of position, and those who 
occupied the lee side could not avoid dragging 
their feet in the water. The night passed with 
but little sleep, but a great deal of discomfort; 
once a squall, with a brisk shower, struck us, 
parted the sheets, and, during the confusion, a 
cageful of parrots went overboard. We were all 
locked together, so that no one could fall over- 
board while the one next him was awake. When 
morning broke, we counted noses, and found we 
were all there. We had laid in stores of ground 
parched corn, which, mixed with water and sweet- 
ened with brown sugar, is the pinole of the na- 
tives, and is their principal food when on journeys. 
The day wore by and another night came on, 
damp and chilly, and the tendency to §leep was 
quite overpowering; but the lake abounds with 
alligators and sharks, the dread of which kept us 
from falling overboard. After thirty-six hours in 
this position, we reached San Carlos, at the outlet 
of the lake. It was yet dark when we landed in 
the mud. A few reed huts were all that we could 
see to suggest a town. I found my way into one, 
where a light shone through the interstices, but 

Chap. XL SAN CARLOS. 23 1 

some one had anticipated me and had appropriated 
the only hammock in the cabin; so, having drank a 
dish of chocolate, I laid down on the earthen floor 
with several billets of wood for a pillow, but while 
I was contending with mosquitoes, day broke. In 
the short distance of ninety miles which we had 
come from Granada, the climate had undergone a 
great change. But little air was stirring, and that 
was humid; in fact, it rains so frequently that the 
ground is kept miry, and vegetation is more rank 
than in the country at the upper end of the lake. 
It had been stipulated with the owner of the 
yacht that canoes should be in readiness, on our 
arrival at San Carlos, to take us down the river, 
but none were here, and we determined that the 
yacht should go down the river, though it never 
returned. We told the Captain that if there were 
no canoes here by noon, the schooner must fulfil 
the contract and take us to San Juan, and we held 
her in custody. In the meantime, I took the 
opportunity to visit the ruins of the old Spanish 
fort, San Juan. I had heard it represented as 
being the most extensive work of the kind in the 
country. It was captured by General Calling, in 
1779, in whose expedition Lord Nelson, then Post 
Captain, won distinction. It was held by the En- 
glish until the pestilential atmosphere of the place 
had nearly exterminated their forces. I searched 
all over the point of land that seemed to command 
the passage of the river, but could find nothing to 
correspond to the works I was in search of. Some 
modern buildings built for barracks, a few heavy 

232 FORT SAN JUAN. Chap. XI. 

guns and pyramids of shot lying about, and one 
thirty-two pounder brass gun mounted — one of 
those mementos of the glory of old Spain, but 
spiked, no doubt to prevent its being turned upon 
its defenders — were all the evidences I could find 
of fortification of any era. Returning to the land- 
ing, I took a broader view of the landscape, and 
determined that a heavy wooded hill — the highest 
on the peninsula — was the one that ought to be 
fortified. And, as a final effort, I resolved to at- 
tempt to reach its summit. After laboring up 
through the most intricate labyrinth of trees and 
vines, with the aid of a long machete, I came to a 
rampart, and followed it for a long distance. On 
every side were substantial walls of masonry and 
heavy gims, around which large trees and creeping 
things had grown until the whole was bound to- 
gether for eternity. The air was so close and 
gloomy from the dense shade, and so loaded with 
mosquitoes, that respiration was difficult. Everj^ 
bush was armed with thorns that tore my best 
clothes, and every thorn had a venomous ant in- 
habiting it that issued forth at the slightest disturb- 
ance and inflicted a cruel sting. Finally, to cap 
the climax of my discomforts, a swarm of hornets 
issued from the mouth of a big gun that I was ex- 
ploring, and I sounded the recall. Returning to 
the landing, I found that one canoe had- arrived 
from below, and a grand pow- wow was going on as 
to who of the fifty should take precedence in going' 
on board. It was finally conceded that they should 
follow the order of their names on the way-bilU 


he bungo was filled with twenty-three and the crew 
f five Indians, and we cast off just brfore sun- 
down. The men at the oars seemed little disposed 
^o exert themselves, and we glided along not much 
faster than the current. The river is wider and 
deeper than I expected, and its banks are low, as 
is all the land at the east end of the lake, like an 
irreclaimable jungle. 

As night shut in the view, we heard cries of wild 
T^easts, which the natives with us would imitate, 
and say, ''Mucho malo^ Our bungo was so crank 
that the most of us were compelled to sit down on 
the floor, and the least change of position on the 
part of anyone would cause it to careen so far that 
the oars on that side could not be raised out of the 
water. Overpowered by the want of sleep, we 
settled away, one by one, into every imaginable at- 
titude simulating repose, but which was little more 
than a state of semi-insensibility, in which we were 
aware of floating down the stream, and, from our 
painful contortions of body, were kept conscious 
of our personal identity. The rain poured down 
upon us without producing any other effect than 
when it falls upon the cottagers roof; the men 
seemed to sleep the better for it. When daylight 
dawned, we found that we had floated eighteen 
miles from San Carlos. The forest was heavier 
than that seen the day before, and rose in a dead 
wall from the water s edge ; the current was more 

, We stopped at a place where the undergrowth 
had been cleared away to enable boats to land, for 


the sake of stretching our limbs and preparing 
chocolate, but everything was so wet that we found 
it impossible to build a fire. The ground was 
miry, and everything around us so gloomy and re- 
pulsive, that we were glad to get back to our boat^ 
and take a cold breakfast and wash it down with 
pinole. Soon after starting, we heard the roar of 
water. The Indians endeavored to impress upon 
us the danger of the rapids before us, but we 
thought what they did not fear was not worth fear- 
ing. As our chief dependence upon getting out 
of our misery was the current, we rather greeted 
the rapids with pleasure. We went down them 
without apprehension. Here was the first elevated 
ground we had seen since we left San Carlos, and 
upon it stands the new fort, St. John s, taken a few 
years since from the Nicaraguans by the English ; 
beneath it, close to the water, is a small house, th 
only human habitation on the river between th 
lake and the sea. Here, too, was moored a small 
American steamer, waiting for appliances to ascends 
the rapids. 

The current during the most of the day wa^- 
swift, and we went along at a fine rate, betweem- 
two walls of unbroken green, with now and then»- 
some showy Howers beyond our reach, and now^ 
and then a glimpse of a monkey in the tree tops 'Z^ 
and macaws, both scarlet and green, would startler 
us with their horrid squawk, worse than a fish-horrm 
at a wedding. Alligators, like half-rotten logs, la^-^ 
in the mud on the shore, and tumbled into th^r^ 
water with a sudden splash as we approached - 



Not a breath of air could reach us to mitigate the 
fierce displeasure of the sun, but an occasional 
drenching with rain kept us tranquil. Night again 
shut around us ; the fourth night on the water, and 
such a night ! The rains were more constant, and 
they came in torrents, while the roar of the wind 
was as though all the demons in the forest were 
abroad. Our constrained position became -positive 
torture, and, to make matters worse, a quarrel broke 
out between the master and his crew. At length, 
they refused to pull another stroke ; persuasion and 
threats were alike fruitless, and we were drifting 
toward the shore and under the low, overhanging 
trees, broadside to the current. If we should be 
caught by one of the limbs, capsizing would be 
inevitable. For myself, individually, I had settled 
into such a position on the floor of the canoe that 
my face was sheltered from the rain by the seat of 
one of the rowers, and, though I heard all that was 
passing, I was too much overpowered by want of 
sleep to make an effort at self-preservation, and if 
we had been actually overboard, I would have in- 
sisted on a little nap before I could have consented 
to be taken ashore. At length, two of them re- 
sumed their oars ; and, as the day began to dawn, 
we heard a distant roar like the tramp of another 
storm in the forest. The rain did not come ; but, 
the sound continuing, we concluded that it was the 
surf on the sea shore. The river San Juan, near 
its mouth, makes an acute angle with the shore- 
line ; so that we were nearer to the beach than to 
the mouth of the river. 

236 GREYTOWN. Chap. XI. 

This morning the character of the scenery was 
much changed ; the shores were low, swampy, and 
covered with sickly-looking palm-trees. We passed 
several boats on the river, and a party of European 
immigrants, bound up a branch of the river leading 
into the State of Costa Rica. About six o'clock 
we reached San Juan — or Grey town, as the Eng- 
lish call it — and a more disgusting place I never 
saw. It is on a low ridge that separates the river 
from an impenetrable swamp, swarming with rep- 
tiles and repulsive roots, and darnels,* rank and 

" And, hour by hour, when the air is still, 
The vapors arise that has power to kill." 

A few frame houses, and a flagstaff, from which 
floated the British flag, constituted the town. On 
landing, we were waited on by a dozen of Her 
Majesty's colored troops, called policemen, who re- 
quested us, on behalf of the people of the town, 
to deliver up to their keeping any fire-arms that 
we might have about us, until such time as we 
should leave the place. Some of the men com- 
pli(id; others refused, and expressed a determina- 
tion to give them up only with their lives. The 
officer in command \vas a white man, and he told 
us that no compulsion would be resorted to. 

There were but two small vessels in port when 
we arrived. One was an American brig, loading 
with logwood and deer skins. The British mail 
steamer had not arrived, and the war steamer 
stationed here had gone down to Chagres with 
several hundred passengers who had accumulated 

u »» 

Chap. XI. . BRIG "MECHANIC. 237 

here without shelter, and many of them sick with 
fever. It is well known that miasma is most active 
at night, and the danger is much less on the water 
than on the land. We were, therefore, impatient 
to get off from the shore, and, an American brig 
arriving in the course of the day, we lost no time 
in securing passage to New Orleans — for we cared 
little what port we landed at, provided it was in 
our native country — and went at once on board. 
It was named the Mechanic, of Bath (Me.), Cap- 
tain Lawrence. The cabin was small and badly 
furnished, but it gave us a home, and we turned in 
and slept long and violently. The jiext day the 
schooner Maria, fourteen days from New York,, 
arrived, and home, with all its comforts, of the 
smallest of which we had been deprived so long, 
seemed almost at hand. 

About this time, Captain Hutchinson, of the 
brig Union, arrived, having been picked up in 
an open boat, with his mate and two seamen. 
His brig had been wrecked about three weeks be- 
fore on Serrana Keys, while on his way from 
Chagres to New Orleans, with forty-five passen- 
gers — returning Californians. His passengers 
were all safely landed, and his brig had worked 
over the reef into still water; the stores were 
landed, and the company were as comfortable 
as they could be on a little bird island, without 
any prospect of speedy relief After eleven days, 
the captain took the long boat with a crew, and 
endeavored to reach an island eighty miles to lee- 
ward;, but, owing to the same defect in his chart 


which had caused his wreck, he missed it, and, af- 
ter great suffering and peril, he was picked up on 
the Mosquito Coast by a small coaster and 
brought to San Juan. He made an engagement 
with the Captain of the Mechanic to go to Serrana 
and take off his men. We had already eighty 
men on board, and, as this arrangement had been 
made without consulting the passengers, and as 
this enterprise appeared to be attended with great 
danger and delay, we complained of it as a viola- 
tion of his agreement with us. As we desired to 
put no obstacle in the way of relieving the 
wrecked men, we proposed to take some other 
conveyance home, if he would refund our passage- 
money; but this he would not do, and, by dint of 
misrepresentations and persuasions, we were in- 
duced to continue on board, and the next day — 
Christmas — we set sail. 

The brig had been anchored in fresh water, but 
before we had gone a mile we were pitching in the 
swell of the Caribbean Sea. The wind was off 
shore, so that in a few hours after our anchor was 
up we were out of sight of the low coast, and had 
escaped from the myriads of small mosquitoes that 
infest it. It was a great luxury to be once more 
on the open sea. Though we were crowded, and 
the vessel most wretchedly furnished, yet it was so 
refreshing to stretch our limbs out in a berth, with 
a pillow under our heads! Cheered with the pros- 
pect of a short voyage of only ten days to the soil 
of our own native land, we were all in the best of 

4, »> 


Captain Lawrence is a lazy, illiterate fellow. 
Though occasionally giving away to violent bursts 
of passion, under ordinary circumstances he has 
not energy or decision to govern his vessel. The 
mate, Mr. Sutter is, on the contrary, all decision 
and energy, without judgment or a tolerable share 
of sense. Vainglorious and boisterous, his voice 
is heard in everybody's mess, and the command of 
the vessel practically soon fell to him. Abusive 
and tyrannical to those he did not fear, he was 
very obsequious to those who, he thought, had the 
power to injure or benefit him. He was on his 
way to California, as he told me; was at Chagres 
when the Mecfianic was fitting out, and was offered 
the place of mate. He informed me that the brig 
had been wrecked at that place, was condemned, 
bought for a small sum by several gamblers, and 
sent up for passengers to San Juan, as a place 
where her character would not be known. He 
further stated that it was the intention of the Cap- 
tain to wreck the brig Union, and that he, as 
mate, expected to realize a fine sum as salvage. 
He was very communicative, and there were but 
few on board who did not have an opportunity to 
know the history of his whole life, as well as that 
of his family and his native town. There were 
not wanting those who would gratify his vanity for 
the sake of seeing the wonderful inflation it pro- 
duced, just as they would tease the sea porcupine 
with a straw to see the fish bloat. 

The land breeze failed, and then followed a 
calm. After that came the usual northeast trades. 


and we were compelled to stand ofif southeast. 
We beat about for eight days, endeavoring to get 
to windward in order to lay our course clear of 
Cape Qracias A Dios. We sighted the Corn 
Islands four times in as many days, a fine trade 
wind blowing all the time. At length the wind 
hauled more to the eastward, and we ran north 
until we made a group of keys and reefs between 
latitude 14° and 15° north, and longitude 82'' and 
83°. ' We sounded, and found eleven fathoms, 
when we went about. 

It began now to appear that not only was the 
vessel unseaworthy, but insufficiently supplied 
with provisions. The crew were mostly down 
with fever, and there was no medicine on board, 
except that in the hands of passengers. On the 
2d of January, in the morning, we made the island 
of St. Andrew's, and endeavored to beat up to it 
for the remainder of that day. During the follow- 
ing night we stood northwest by north until two 
in the morning, when we tacked, and made the lee 
side about eight o'clock. There was no informa- 
tion on board relative to this island, but it was 
necessary to get some water and fresh provisions. 
We were now only about 150 miles from San 
Juan, and at our rate of progression it was evi- 
dent that we should fall short of stores of every 
description. As we worked up nearer the island, 
we saw human habitations on the higher parts; 
then cocoa nut and plantain trees became distin- 
guishable. At the same time, the fearful surf which 
dashed upon its shores seemed to preclude all 


"Miope of a landing; but, to our great relief, just as 
^we were preparing to go about, a canoe was seen 
<!oming to us. The brig was at once hove to, and 
T:he best Spanish speaker was mounted conspicu- 
ously to act a*> interpreter. 

There was profound silence on board as the 
canoe came in hailing distance. " Tiene huei'os 
aqui?'' shouted our Spanish oracle. The black 
man with the paddle turned his broad face full to 
us, and, showing a double row of ivory, replied, 
"Yaas, but we ca-als um aigs, heah." Hurrah! 
these were our own people — they spoke English! 
They were taken on board, and the canoe hoisted 
in after them. The canoe was not unlike a hog- 
trough, about ten feet long and two feet wide, 
with large holes in the side where the wood had 
rotted away. It required constant bailing by one 
of the men to ke^3 the craft afloat while the other 
used the paddle. 

The canoemen piloted us into a small cove, 
where we let go our anchor in five fathoms, with 
coral bottom, at about a quarter of a mile from 
shore. The boats were got out, and a party of us 
were soon on land. There was no one at the 
landing place, and we followed a path that led to 
the summit through a low growth of lance-wood, 
limes, guavas, a species of the banyan, and a va- 
riety of other trees unknown to me. As we 
emerged from the woods we saw a neat cottage, 
occupied by an Englishman who had resided here 
for twenty years. He told us that Mr. Livingston, 
a missionary of the Lcight ^Street Baptist Church, 


and himself, were the only white men on the 
island, the population, four or five hundred in num- 
ber, being negroes of all the various shades. The 
language spoken is claimed to be English, but I 
could not recognize it at first as having any re- 
semblance to our tongue. The vowel sounds are 
distended to their utmost capacity of breadth and 
length, and the intonation is in the minor key. 
Though the island nominally belongs to New Gra- 
nada, it is not burdened with a government. 

Not knowing how short our stay might be, I set 
out to improve the time and explore the island as 
far as possible, following any road I saw. The 
native huts are like those of Central America, ex- 
cept that- the side walls are of bamboo, split and 
interwoven like basket-work. The people are very 
destitute of all the comforts of civilization, and 
subsist for the most part on the, spontaneous pro- 
duction of the soil. They are just emerging from 
a state of slavery in which blacks themselves are 
the slave holders. 

The arrival of a vessel is an event so rare, that 
the people are thrown into a state of excitement, 
such as the island had not witnessed for years. 
Everywhere, as we passed along the way, people 
were making preparation for trade. Oranges, 
limes, soursops, papaws, and cocoa nuts, were be- 
ing gathered for sale. We had gone several 
miles by a winding path, and being desirous of 
reaching the windward side of the island, in hope 
of finding shells, we stopped at a cottage to in- 
quire the road that would lead us to it. Four or 


"five young white women were seated around a 
neat room, dressed in clean calico made up in 
j\merican fashion, looking as prim and solemn as 
school girls expecting visitors. My first impres- 
sion w^as, that there was a death in the family, and 
they were awaiting the funeral ceremonies. The 
scene was so unexpected, that I was upon the point 
of retreating; but it soon became evident that they 
were not so surprised, and I summoned up courage 
to inquire the way to the beach. They made some 
reply, but whether they understood me, I could 
not tell. It was certain that I could not recognize 
the English in their vernacular; so we went on to 
another house, where we had better success, and 
obtained the services of a lad as guide. 

We passed several cultivated fields, and saw 
yams, cassava, cotton and cane growing finely; 
while cocoa nuts, guavas, tamarinds, and limes are 
everywhere in the woods in great profusion. There 
being no market for them, they are suffered to per- 
ish where they grow. 

After spending two or three hours along the 
beach, looking for shells and coral, we went to the 
hut of a native for food. Several dishes were 
prepared, but fried eggs and plaintains were all that 
we could reconcile to our not over fastidious ap- 
petites. Before we had concluded our repast, we 
were visited by nearly all the women in the neigh- 
borhood, all rigged out in their best attire. Two 
girls, quadroons — evidently regarded by their 
darker companions as capable of making an im- 
pression — were represented as orphans, left in pos- 


session of a considerable quantity of land, with 
tenants, slaves, and how many cocoa nut trees I 
do not remember. Even here, on this little Carib- 
bean isle, land monopoly is in full force. Land is 
valued at about two dollars an acre, and there is 
no part x)f the island that is not susceptible of high 
cultivation. Cocoanut trees are valued at seven 
dollars each. 

We returned to the harbor bv another road, 
having made almost a complete circle of the island. 
Our guide was a lad fully grown, yet he had never 
been off the island. I asked him how long he 
thought it was. He replied, ** Long enough." 
Being pressed to give his idea of the distance in 
miles, he said, ** About seven hundred!" 

We had filled our clothes with fruit, besides all 
we could carry in our hands, and sat down at the 
landing to wait for a boat. The island is protected 
from the sea on the windward side by a coral reef 
extending half way around it, and apparently a 
mile distant. The lee side is bold, having five 
fathoms of water close up to the coral rock, of 
which the island is composed, and which has been 
undermined by the waves, and much eroded by the 
water wherever exposed to its action. 

One of our party had filled his shirt above his 
belt with fruit picked up in the woods, to such an 
extent that he could not perform nautical evolu- 
tions with success. Not being very dexterous in 
handling ropes at any time, when he got alongside 
of our vessel, and the hand-rope was thrown to 
him to climb up, he could not get more than half 

Chap. XL A NORTHER. 245 

way, and then was without strength of limb to go 
farther, yet afraid to let go lest he would drop into 
the water. The sea was very rough, and the roll- 
ing of the brig kept the unhappy man bumping 
against her side until the last guava was -reduced 
to a pulp, and the cider ran fr«m his heels in a 
copious stream. Some wicked fellow told him 
there was a shark close by, and he begged for 
help. A noose was lowered and slipped around 
one of his legs, and he was at length hauled in. 

That night the wind hauled more to the north- 
ward, a heavy sea set into our anchorage, which 
increased the rolling very much. The next morn- 
ing the wind had increased, and the natives had 
congregated around the vessel with their produce, 
impatient to get it on board. A canoe, in attempt- 
ing to come off with a load of fruit, was swamped 
with four persons, and the natives on shore dared 
not venture to their assistance in their small canoes. 
The wrecked men clung to their boat, and shouted 
lustily for help; but the mate said he had no boat 
for the **d — d niggers." The Captain, however, 
after some time, went himself with the jolly boat, 
picked them up and carried them ashore. The 
long boat was used during the day for the embark- 
ation of provisions. 

At night the wind increased to a gale. Many 
trees were torn up, but we rode it out in safety, 
being under the lee of the island, though the roll- 
ing was so violent that fears were felt for our 
masts. When daylight came, it was decided to 
proceed on our voyage, as our position was dan- 


gerous. The anchor was hove short, the fore-top- 
sail was loosed, and we were just ready, to go, 
when signals were made to us from the shore 
so earnestly as to lead to the impression that some 
important intelligence had arrived from the wind- 
ward. The boals had been lashed fast, but one 
was lowered, and Captain Lawrence with Captain 
Hutchinson and three men pulled off for the 
shore. Scarcely had they entered the cove, when 
the heave of the sea, with the wind on our loos- 
ened topsail parted our cable close to the anchor. 
Immediately it was discovered that we were drift- 
ing rapidly toward the shore among the ragged 
corals. The mate, finding himself suddenly in 
command and in peril, lost his self-possession, and, 
instead of making sail to get out of the danger, 
ran forward to unlash the Qther anchor. In half 
of the time necessary to do this, no anchor could 
Jiave saved us. We were already but a few 
lengths from the rocks, upon which the sea was 
dashing furiously, and every moment the distance 
grew perceptibly shorter. To me it seemed inev- 
itable that we must strike, and I hurried down 
into the cabin for all that was left to me of a pair 
of boots, to enable me to leap upon the rocks the 
moment the vessel should strike, and before she 
could recoil. Captain Titcomb was below, but 
fortunately Captain C. C. Sisson, of Mystic,"^ who 
was one of our party, seeing the mate had lost his 
senses, took the wheel, and, deeming the occasion 

» z-^. 

Captain S'ksson, in 1873, commanded the clipper ship BriJge'watery and sub- 
sequently the Jercme Thompiorty out of San Francisco. 


one that did not admit of ceremony, told the men 
to hoist the jibs and sheet home the topsail. This 
was done at once, and as the vessel's head fell off 
and the head sails filled, command of the vessel 
was once more obtained. As soon as the mate 
discovered that the brig was saved, he ran back to 
the quarter-deck, pale and trembling, and called 
out, "All hands keep cool! Tm here myself!" 

It was impossible to heave to in our present situ- 
ation. It was as much as the brig could do to 
hold her own in such a sea with all the sail she 
could carry, and we stood off and on under reefed 
topsail and mainsail. 

We were now free from immediate danger, but 
what course to pursue we were at a loss to deter- 
mine. We were at sea, with the mate in com- 
mand, and he was totally incompetent to the 
responsibility that devolved upon him. The 
cabin passengers held a council in the cabin, and 
it was resolved that if the mate failed to recover 
the Captain within a reasonable time, it was due 
to ourselves to depose him, put one of our seamen 
passengers in command, and proceed to the near- 
est port. Our danger was increased by the failure 
of the pumps, and the increase of water in the 
hold, while the fever was prevailing to such a rate 
that but two of the crew were fit for duty. 

The mate evinced the greatest perplexity. As 
soon as we got clear of the land he brought the 
chart down into the cabin, and with a pair of 
dividers began to calculate! At length he asked 
Captain Titcomb what he should do, and ex- 


248 THE mate's bewilderment. Chap. XI. 

pressed a wish to stand ofif on the starboard tack 
till midnight, then on three hours and oflF four, 
until the wind should abate. This plan would 
have taken us back to the Mosquito shore by day- 
light. The Captain advised him to go about im- 
mediately, before we should lose sight of the 
island — for, having no chronometer on board, he 
doubted whether in that case he would be able to 
find it again — get as near the anchorage as was 
safe, and make short tacks until the boat s crew 
were picked up. This advice was followed, and 
before night Captain Lawrence was restored to 
his command. 

He had a funny story to tell. As he approached 
the landing, there was a great clamor set up by the 
few cocoanut merchants who had a stock left over, 
offering the balance at half price! He turned 
about with all the indignation that could be con- 
ceived; but what was his astonishment to see the 
brig with sails set,^ flying away from the island. 
Astonishment gave way to wrath, and one of the 
men with him told me that he poured out such a 
terrible shower of oaths as to beat down the sea, 
and for a time it became quite calm! Then he 
went back and damned the cocoanut merchants. 
He climbed to the top of the highest tree on the 
island, and watched the receding vessel until it 
was but a speck on the horizon. Then he retired 
to the Englishman's house to discuss mutiny, 
piracy, and other kindred" topics. 

As soon as the boat was taken in, we rounded 
the south end of the island, and steered southeast 


by east to clear the Southeast Keys, a dangerous 
reef twenty miles from St. Andrew's. The wind 
was now favorable for running to windward; but 
this new difficulty, with the want of confidence in 
our chart and the vessel, compelled us to run ofT. 
It really seemed that home grew farther off with 
each days effort to get there! Just three months 
had passed' since I left Sacramento with an eager, 
light heart, hoping soon to be at the end of all my 
adventures; but disappointment and long delays 
had fairly reduced hope to apathy, and home 
seemed like some vision of our childhood, every 
day more unreal and uncertain. 



Quila Snefio reef — Discover a wreck — A resrue— Coral reefs — 
Scene on board the wreck — Make a raft — A night on the 
sea — Blown off — Given over as lost — Lucky escape — Return 
to the brig — Second trip to the wreck — Death and burial of 
Wheelock — Piracv — Provisions fail — Make for Old Provi- 
dence — Barbarity of the officers of the Mechanic — We take 
refuge on the island. 

On the night of the 6th of January, the officer 
of the deck reported smooth water, and the -noise 
of many birds such as is not heard far from land. 
It was supposed that we had passed close under 
the lee of the Roncador Reef, where the brig 
Matamoras was reported at St. Andrew s to have 
bieen wrecked about two weeks before. If this 
were so, we should be able to make Serrana Key 
before the next night, as it was only forty-five 
miles north by west. About an hour after sun- 
rise, Captain Titcomb, who, notwithstanding his 
age, was the sharpest-sighted of us all, discovered 
breakers under our lee, and the Captain was in. 
formed of it. We continued to run on for .some 
time, when a brig was discovered about two points 
off our weather bow; she had all sail set, and was 
apparently bound the same way with ourselves. 
The breakers were now seen broad off our beam, 
and extending in a long white line far to the north 


and south. The order was then given to go 
about, for we were now almost upon the most 
dreaded reef on our route. This was "Quita 
Sueno*' (banish sleep), extending about twenty- 
five miles, with a strong current setting across 
it from the eastward, and having no land above 
water to afford a footing to those who are cast 
upon it. We were twenty-five miles west of our 

That day and the following night were spent in 
beating off, and the next morning, when it was 
supposed that we were in the longitude of Ser- 
rano, we stood north. About eight o'clock a sail 
was seen on* our lee bow, and soon after it was 
discovered that she was in distress, having lost 
her foremast, and her colors being set upon the 
mainmast '* Union down." One of the men from 
the wreck of the Union went aloft to determine 
whether it was not that vessel, but he could not 
recognize her, and reported breakers all around 
her. We stood on until she was off our beam, 
when the seas could be seen making completely 
over her, and by the help of a glass we discovered 
a man climbing the shrouds. It was now thought 
that this was the same vessel that we had seen the 
day before, that she was on the Quita Sueno, and 
that we had not gained five miles to windward in the 
twenty-four hours. The Captain at once deter- 
mined to do something for their relief. The men on 
Serrana could afford to wait, as they were on land 
and provisioned for six months, but these men 
must perish unless aid could reach them speedily. 


The only way to approach them was to get to the 
lee of the reef, so we squared away and ran 
around the south end. We found a bank, or sub- 
merged coral island, extending westward for ten 
or twelve miles. Over this bank we worked in 
smooth water, but among the coral rocks, as far as 
we could pick our way toward the wreck, and 
dropped anchor in ten fathoms, with fine corals 
projecting themselves to the surface on every side. 
The water was so clear that the bottom could be 
seen where we lay, and fish in great numbers 
could be distinguished feeding about the coral. It 
was now four o'clock, and too late in the day to 
attempt anything more than to make preparations 
for the next morning. That night was a strange 
one. We no longer heard the dash nor felt the 
heave of the sea beneath us, but our ears were 
filled with the distant sullen roar of breakers. 
Our little wandering hag of a vessel was anchored 
as if asleep, far from land or shelter from the gales 
that sometimes sweep the ocean. Our only an- 
chor was in the coral beds, and we drgaded to 
think of our fate should we be driven from our 
anchorage at night by such a wind as that we had 
encountered a few days before. But what con- 
cerned us most was the scarcity of provisions, 
which might yet compel us to put back. All the 
fishing tackle on board was put into requisition to 
increase the supply. We caught many fish of the 
genus Acani/iunis, weighing about a pound each. 
One species, the Chinirgus, was of a deep blue 
color, and armed on each side near the tail with 3 


lancet, which folded into the body at its narrowest 
part, and pointed forward. When the fish is seized 
back of its gills, as is usual in extricating the 
hook, and the tail is moved laterally, this lancet is 
thrown out so as to inflict a very ugly wound, and 
several passengers were badly hurt before the sur- 
gical character of the fish was known. This sport 
was kept up until dark, when some sea monsters 
carried off our lines. 

It was eight o clock the next morning before the 
boats were ready to be launched, and then one 
was discovered coming from the wreck with a 
blanket jaised for a sail. This contained the mate 
and two men of the Martha Sanger, from Chagres, 
bound to New Orleans, with ninety returning Cali- 
fornians. The three boats then put off, and spent 
the day, effecting nothing, except the rescue of the 
Captain (Robinson), with his large chest contain- 
ing his own valuables and as much gold dust as 
he could induce the men on board to intrust to his 
keeping, leaving all his passengers to the uncer- 
tainty of another night. He brought off also a 
keg containing whisky, and good spirits prevailed 
among the officers. The failure of the expedition 
to rescue any of the passengers was attributed to 
the impossibility of getting the long boat up 
against the strong breeze. 

The following day the three boats were con- 
nected by means of a line, and the small boats 
took the large one in tow. There were not oars- 
men enough on board to man the boats, and I vol- 
unteered to go with Captain Hutchinson and pull 

254 CORAL REEFS. Chap. XII. 

one of the two oars in his boat. We started off 
with enthusiasm, shaping our course directly to 
windward in order to get under the lee of the 
breakers in smooth water before the afternoon 
breeze freshened. The distance was only about 
five miles, but the utmost exertion was necessary 
to stem the current, wind, and waves. We en- 
countered a heavy squall when near the reef, but 
we made fast to a mass of coral. The boats were 
so ranged that one broke the force of the wind 
from the other two, and when its violence had 
abated we pulled in closer to the reef where the 
sea was smoother. • 

It was a rare opportunity to see the marine 
forests that was furnished us that day. Divesting 
one s self of the thoughts of danger, if possible, 
while floating over these submarine landscapes, it 
was enchanting. At one moment we would be 
over a deer valley whose bottom we could scarcely 
distinguish, and the next a hill would rise almost 
to the surface. Purple sea fans, like palm leaves 
spread out, undulated to the motion of the water; 
then suddenly a tree of white coral projected its 
flinty boughs, inflexible as the dead oak bleaching 
on the hill, all teeming with many-colored life. 
Algee took root in the shelly bottom, and looked 
green as our woods on terra jirnia, intermingled 
with sponges and the lower forms of/ hTe, red, 
brown, and yellow, which gave to the whole the 
glow of a tropical garden. Among these were 
fish of the most fantastic colors and forms, playing 
and chasing each other around. There one could 


expect, if anywhere, to see the Nereids sporting in 
the groves. A branch of coral which you raise is 
covered with the lower forms of animal life. In 
fact, the whole bank is one vast animated mass. 
But to the sailor these are all objects of terror. 
He sees these corals, like dead men's fingers point- 
ing from the grave, and threatening the thin cedar 
boards that separate the world above from that 
beneath the waters, and the daughters of Nereus 
he knows only in the character of sharks. 

We followed along the thundering line of seas, 
whose huge crests protected us from the wind- 
pulling *' hard starboard '' or ** hard larboard " to 
clear some lurking rock— until the middle of the 
afternoon, when we were close upon the wreck. 
The most difficult feat to accomplish was to get 
across the reef and through the surf to the vessel. 
At low tide the points of rock on the reef project 
slightly above the water, with race-ways or water- 
worn channels between, and the sea, as it breaks 
and rushes in tumultuous foam over the rocks, 
flows through these channels. Through one of 
these our boat must pass. The long boat was cast 
off and anchored, and Captain Hutchinson told us 
to **pull steadily and strong," on no account to look 
around us, but to keep our eyes steadily on the oars ; 
and we pulled as though our lives depended on 
each stroke. We entered a channel under the lee 
of the wreck, and slowly gained on the torrent. 
Our oars on both sides touched the coral, and, 
placing them against this firmer fulcrum, we forced 
ourselves through, when the retreating wave car- 



ried us over the turbulent, heaving mass of foam 
between the reef and the wreck, and alongside, 
among drifting spars and tangled rigging. As we 
came alongside, I jumped upon a. floating spar to 
reach the rope thrown to me from the deck; but 
the grip of my hands failed me, from the severe 
and unaccustomed efforts to which they had been 
subjected, and the returning wave rolled the spar 
from under my feet. I did not think of drowning, 
but the fear of being crushed among the floating 
debris, and of having a leg taken off* by a shark, 
gave me fearful energy. I remounted the spar ; 
a rope with a slip noose was thrown me, which I 
lost no time in placing under my arms, and was 
raised on board. 

The brig was broadside on the rocks ; the stern 
thrown well up, while the bows were held down in 
deeper water by the anchor, which had been thrown 
over before striking. The foremast had gone over- 
board, and in falling its foot had slipped out of the 
step and pried up the deck. The maintop mast 
was standing, tlie badge of woe torn and flying at 
the truck. The jib-boom was entire, and, as each 
sea lifted us and we. came down again upon the 
rocks, it would bend like a fishing rod. The whole 
vessel would crack and twist as in a dying agony, 
and the next moment a deluge of water would 
sweep her decks and pour over her lee rail. 

The passengers had crowded the after house so 
tliat it was almost inaccessible, and their joy at our 
arrival was the only agreeable feature in the scene 
of desolation. Ship stores, crockery, and every 

Chap. XII. MAKE A RAFT. 257 

species of valuables, strewed the deck, and the 
most wanton waste had been practiced by men 
who had been deserted by all their officers, except 
a sick second mate. Two men were found dead 
in their berths, and several others in a dying state. 
Among* the latter I recognized a Mr. Wheelock, 
who had been a passenger with me on board the 
Plymouth from San Francisco. To prevent the 
panic-stricken passengers from filling our boats, 
Mr. Sutter planted himself in the companion-way 
with a long knife, threatening instant death to all 
who attempted to pass. He outroared the surf, as 
if to awe the landsmen into the idea that old Nep- 
tune himself had assumed command. 

The day was far spent, and what was done had 
to be done quickly. The galley was cut away, 
and the doorway and windows were battened to 
convert it into a barge. This extemporized ark 
was slid overboard and floated over the reef, when 
the sick were first put into it, and then others were 
put on board as they drew their lots, until it was 
reported that the flooring was started. Those 
who were able were kept at work with pails to bail 
out the water. About twenty-five were stowed in 
the long boat, with a demijohn of water and a bag 
of bread. The small boat took three or four, and 
w'e left the remainder with the assurance that we 
would not desert them. In the effort to get on 
board the boat, I was a second time submerged, 
and owed my preservation to the grasp of Captayi 

The sun was nearly setting when we took the 


extemporized barge in tow, the jolly boat leading 
off as before. The boat belonging to the wreck 
was in command of the mate of that vessel, and 
after we -were under way he requested permission 
to return to the wreck to take in a few more men, 
run down to the Mechanic^ and return to our assist- 
ance. This plan was approved. He was, at the 
same time, directed to have lights set for us on the 
brig, and to bring us a kedge anchor to hold us in 
case of need. We pulled along the reef by the 
rays of the moon, whose light was sufficient to 
enable us to distinguish the discolored spots which 
indicated coral near the surface, until we supposed 
we were nearly to windward of the brig as she 
bore by compass before dark, and then squared 
away to run down before the wind. 

The barge presented a large surface to the 
wind, and we moved rapidly, straining our eyes 
for the boat and for the signal lights which were to 
guide us to our vessel. We had guns and powder 
taken from the wreck, and we fired signals continu- 
ally, but they met with no response. 

At length we made the lights from the brig, 
but they were to windward! We had squared 
away too soon. Where was the recreant mate.'* 
Why had he deserted us? Deep, dark curses 
went up with the smoke of the gunpowder, 
enough to have freighted a ship. But this did 
not help us. We were drifting rapidly toward the 
e(Jge of the bank, beyond which no anchor could 
avail. We put our head to the wind, the best 
men were put to the oars, and every effort was 


made to hold our own until assistance could reach 
us. We were broad to leeward, and, notwith- 
standing all our efforts, we were falling away fast. 
We shouted until our voices failed us. We knew 
they must hear us. Why did they not send the 
boat with the anchor.'* They did hear us, and 
watched with painful interest the firing as it flashed 
farther and farther to leeward; but the boat was 
gone, and there was no earthly power, so far as 
they knew, that could save us. The mate pro- 
posed to cut away the tow and save ourselves, but 
Captain Hutchinson refused to consent to it yet. 
The long boat had on board a cast-iron pinnace gun 
which had been used to anchor her on the reef, 
and this was now tied to the boat s painter and 
thrown overboard to act as a drag, the rope being 
too short to reach bottom, but to our great gratifi- 
cation it got tangled in the coral of some ledge 
over which we were drifting. This enabled us to 
disengage the small boat, which went with the two 
officers to the brig to get the anchor, and met on 
the way the missing boat with that symbol of hope 
on the way to our relief. 

The mate of the Martha Sanger, when he 
reached the brig, called upon his Captain to take 
the boat back to our relief. He was in too safe 
quarters, but offered a large sum to anyone who 
would go in the boat. Captain Lawrence at 
length, finding that no dependence could be 
placed in these men, went into the boat himself 
with two of his men who were invalids, and pulled 
away to windward, where he expected to find us; 


but failing, he returned, and, seeing our signals 
away to leeward, as soon as he had approached 
near enough to be heard, ordered the men to the 
windlass to heave up the anchor. Captain Tit- 
comb remonstrated; there was no officer in the 
brig, and the order was not obeyed. He repre- 
sented that with the vessels position among the 
reefs, it would be impossible to get her out at 
night without striking, and losing the brig. Cap- 
tain Lawrence, when he got on board, followed 
the advice given him, and sent his boat, with Cap- 
tain Sisson and Mr. Wolf, two volunteers of our 
traveling party, with the anchor. 

Mr. Sutter, when he left us to find the boat, 
continued on after meeting it to carry out his 
sworn pledge to kill the deserter. I doubt not he 
would have done it if he could; but the man who 
had distinguished himself by his tact in the art of 
self-preservation could not be caught, and, after 
pursuing him through the rigging for some time, 
amidst the cheers of the passengers, bellowing 
with rage, and armed with the knife with which he 
had overawed the men on the wreck, Sutter went 
below and took a drink. 

No sooner was it known on board that we were 
safe, and the cause of our danger made known, 
than the most hearty indignation was expressed. 
Some proposed to seize the wretch to the rigging 
aiid flog him ; others proposed to put him with his 
cowardly Captain into their own boat, and compel 
them to find land as best they Could; but the 
excitement wore away, and they passed unpun- 


ished. The small boats were employed until two 
o'clo(:k in the morning in conveying the men from 
the raft; and the long boat, relieved of a part of 
its load, last of all reached the brig. The warm 
congratulations of my fellow passengers made me 
fully realize the danger through which we had 

Next morning the boats were sent again to the 
wreck, reaching it just before sundown. The 
x^essel had changed her position so that it was im- 
p)Ossible for the boats to reach her, and the men 
"vvere compelled to come off with the aid of a line. 
^Fwenty-one of them were taken off and stowed 
flat in the bottom of the long boat. It is an 
^iwful thing to be out on the sea in an open boat at 
Tiight, without a beacon to guide you through the 
<larkness and the depths. I sympathized warmly 
"with the men in the boats that night, and as soon 
as it grew dark I ignited a preparation of tar and 
saltpeter on the top-gallant forecastle, which 
gleamed like a lighthouse over the sea, and en- 
abled them to direct their course without a com- 
pass and arrive safely by ten o'clock. An attempt 
was made to reach the wreck at an earlier hour by 
starting before day, but the sea was so rough that 
they were compelled to return. The breeze con- 
tinued for several days so fresh that it was not 
thought possible to reach the scene of the wTeck. 
In the meantime, our stores were nearly gone. 
Four barrels of bread, wormy, mouldy, and loath- 
some, were all that remained; the last barrels of 
beef, pork, and flour were broached, and this com- 


prised all the food on board, except two live hogs, 
for one hundred and sixty men. All who had been 
taken from the wreck, except the Captain and his 
mate, were put on the shortest allowance of food and 
water, and were crowded on the main-deck or into 
the damp and filthy hold. Poor Wheelock when 
first taken on board was delirious, but with a little 
attention he revived. One day he sent for me, and 
told me that he should never see land again, desired 
me to see his friends, tell them his fate, and deliver 
to them whatever I should find in his pockets — the 
address of his brother in New York he said was 
there. On the following day, word came to me 
that he was dead. I went to take charge of the 
trust, but the mate had already taken possession 
of his gold dust. The address of his brother I 
could not find, and his friends will never know his 
fate — there was some consolation in that! There 
was little room on board for the living, and none 
for the dead; his body was sewed up in some old 
canvas for burial. Thinking that some ceremony 
was necessary in committing the body to the deep, 
the Captain obtained a prayer book and attempted 
to read the burial service, but it was too much for 
him; after blundering through one sentence he 
closed the book with an air of disgust, and told 
the men to throw him overboard. The plank on 
which the body was placed went with it, and the 
mate, fearing it would be lost, bawled out, **Haul 
in that plank, G-d d-n it!" This concluded the 
ceremony as far as we were concerned. I looked 
over the side and down upon the coral sands 

Chap. XII. PIRACY. 263 

where the corpse lay in its winding-sheet, while 
round it gray finny phantoms were hovering and 
hiding it forever. 

All the rescued men who had money or gold 
dust were compelled to surrender it, and as much 
of it was taken by the Captain and mate as suited 
their purposes. From one man alone the sum 
of $1,450 was extracted as salvage. It would 
have seemed that this should have entitled them 
to some consideration and kindness, but their 
treatment after this was more brutal than before. 
The poor men had not been permitted to take 
their blankets with them from the wrecks and 
were not allowed to lie upon the quarter-deck, but 
were confined to the filthy main-deck with the 
Hogs, although most of them were sick and some 
were dying of fever and exposure. 

The nearest land was Old Providence, a small 
island sixty miles distant, but directly to leeward, 
and as we could run there in twelve hours, and all 
hope of reaching any port to windward was gone, 
we still hoped that one more effort would be made 
to rescue the remaining men, but to our great dis- 
appointment the order was given to get under 
way, and with heavy hearts we watched the unfor- 
tunate men as our sails filled in the wind and we 
vanished from their sight. 

Before noon the lofty summit of Old Provi- 
dence loomed up from the sea like a distant thun- 
der cloud. The mountains and promontories 
became more distinguishable, and about sundown 
we took a pilot, entered the barrier reef, and hav- 



ing passed the bold headland known as Morgan s 
Head, we dropped our anchor in a most pictur- 
esque lagoon-like harbor, protected on all sides 
but the west by mountains, and as smooth as a 
mill pond. No boats were allowed to come along- 
side, lest some man would escape with his gold 
dust who had not divided it with our piratical offi- 
cers. Soon after our anchor was down another 
poor fellow was found dead; he was at once 
brought up on deck to be thrown overboard, when 
the pilot, who was also Harbor Master, forebade it, 
and told the mate he would show him a proper 
placufcfor burial, upon which the brutal mate burst 
into a rage and ordered him off the vessel. He 
left, but the corpse was not thrown overboard. 
Among the sick men from the wreck was one who 
had attracted my attention from his youth, the 
gentleness of his manner, his delicately outlined 
features, and light-brown ringlets. He had been 
well bred, and for his years well educated. He 
was lying in the shade of the bulwarks abaft, 
when the mate drove him off. I represented to 
the mate that he was very ill. and begged that he 
might be permitted to lie during the heat of the 
day on the sail in the shade. The request was 
refused, and a place was secured in the folds of 
the mainsail on the main-deck. 

The island of Old Providence is rarely visited 
by a trading vessel, but fortunately the schooner 
Polly Hinds, Captain Price, of Baltimore, had 
stoj)ped to pick up w^hat turtle shell the natives 
had collected, and coniplete her cargo with oranges 

Chap. XII. THE " POLLV HINDS. 265 

and cocoa nuts. She immediately discharged a 
part of her cargo, and, taking Captain Robinson 
of the Martha Sanger and a couple of reef pilots, 
he was ready to undertake the rescue of the pas- 
sengers remaining on the wreck. I had just time 
to pencil a line to my friends at home to tell them 
that I was still living, and could be found were I 
sought for somewhere about this latitude, when she 
sailed out by moonlight, with three cheers from the 
passengers on our deck. A Committee now waited 
i^ipon Captain Lawrence to inquire what his inten- 
tions were in respect to further prosecution of the 
x^oyage. He said that he had no objection to tell- 
i ng us, but did not wish it mentioned to the other 
j>assengers. We told him that the passengers con- 
ssidered they had a right to know. He said he 
sshould go to Serrana to wreck the Union, if God 
spared. his life and he had the vessel under him. 
AV'e represented to him that no proper stores could 
l)e obtained here, that the vessel was not sea- 
^'orthy, and we demanded to be taken to the near- 
est port. Our demand met only with insolence. 

The rescued men were put on shore, destitute 
as they were. Captains Cathcart of Washington. 
Titcomb of Boston, Sisson and Wolf of Mystic 
(Ct), all former ship masters, and others of us, 
nine in numlxir, had our baggage put into canoes 
and paddled ashore, determined to trust ourselves 
to the uncertainties of the climate and the chance 
of an opportunity to get home, rather than be w^it- 
nesses of such barbarity any longer, or trust our 
lives in the keeping of such drunken pirates. 


As I passed over the deck I saw the sick boy 
still lying in the folds of the sail, but when I 
stooped to speak to him his voice was incoherent, 
and his eyes were staring away into that far-off 
world he was fast going to. 

After getting on shore, a remonstrance was drawn 
up and attested by the Chief Magistrate of the 
island. The Captain came on shore with the super- 
cargo the next day, armed to the teeth, when the 
protest was served upon him. He was very indig- 
nant at first, but as the formidable character of our 
proceedings began to grow upon his consideration, 
he became respec^tful and then cringiifg, as these 
sea tyrants always are on land. Having taken a* 
few hundred pounds of yams, squashes, and some 
fresh meat, the Mec/mnic went to sea, carrying our 
unfortunate fellow travelers, who would have been 
glad to stay with us had circumstances permitted 
them to leave the brig. 



Id Providence Island — Take up our quarters at the residence 
of the Chief Magistrate — Our situation and prospects— Wild 
pigeons — A sail reported — Disappointment — Buccaneers' fort- 
ress — We storm it — Scene of Sir Edward Seward's wreck — The 
PoUv Hinds — Rescue of the passengers left on the wreck of 
the Martha Sanger — Arrange for passage to Baltimore in the 
PoUv Hinds — Eat the manchineel — Did not die — Arrive at 
Key West. *^ 

We were now alone on this unfrequented and 
almost unknown little island, only two hundred 
:miles from the port from which we had sailed about 
^ month before, with a remote and uncertain pros- 
pect of being taken off. Old Providence, or, as it 
was known in the days of the buccaneers, Cata- 
lina, lies in latitude 13° 23' north, longitude 81° 22' 
west. It is about twelve miles in circumference, 
1,100 feet high, and surrounded by a coral reef 
from one half mile distant on the west to ten miles 
on the windward side. This reef forms a perfect 
protection to the shores of the island from the 
action of the waves, and nearly as good a one from 
every other enemy, there being but one entrance, 
narrow and difficult to find without a pilot, and 
altogether impassable, except for vessels of light 
draught. This is close under a bluff rock, known 
as Morgan s Head, so named from the celebrated 


buccaneer in the seventeenth century, who made 
this island his headquarters. It has been the scene 
of violent conflicts in the times of the pirates, but 
for the last hundred years it has entirely escaped 

This island was the scene of the shipwreck of 
Sir Edward Seward, whose narrative was written 
by Jane Porter. Since that time many other ships 
have been wrecked there, including two English j 

men-of-war. It is divided by a channel about ^ 

thirty feet wide. The northern division is still X 

called Catalina, and the bay on the west in which ^ 

we anchored is named Catalina Harbor. The 
bottom is of coral sand, and covered by a minute 
algae that gives to the water a remarkably green 
color. The shore is semicircular, and near the :^^e 
center is a cluster of cottages which represents ^=*^s 
what was a considerable town in the days of the :^^ le 
buccaneers. The hill that rises near the center of^ <zd{ 
the island seems to be of granite, and is split, as if^ 5 if 
by an earthquake, half way down. The two parts ^^^^ 
have separated, so as to leave a gap fifty feet wide, 
and the whole surface of the island, as seen from 
the anchorage, is delightfully diversified by bold 
rocky precipices, and mantled with forests where= 
it has not been cleared for cultivation. Groves ol 
plantains, mangoes and cocoanut trees are inter- 
spersed with the thatched cottages of the native 
in every direction, and often to the bases of the: 
cliffs. Cotton was once cultivated on the island 
by slave labor, but, as slavery became obsolete, the 
cotton fields fell into neglect, and a coarse species 


of grass, about three feet high, waves in unprofit- 
able luxury over almost the entire east side. 

We thought we had seen worse places to spend 
an indefinite term in exile. We were soon scat- 
tered about the island in small parties wherever 
quarters could be found. The Chief Magistrate, 
Mr. Taylor, who is of English descent, had in his 
youth spent some time in a Boston school, and re- 
tained well the impress of American character 
received there. Captain Titcomb and myself 
made arrangements with him to become inmates 
of his house during our stay on the island. His 
residence was on the east side, at a distance of 
several, miles. One of his nephews was sent off 
to procure some horses, and in the meantime we 
strolled along the shore to see the village. The 
houses and inhabitants are much like those of St. 
Andrews; but here the climate is more healthful, 
and, from its having been formerly an island of 
more consequence and more frequented by trad- 
ers, a class of its population is more intelligent. 
There is a community of interest between the 
two, and the distance between them is only forty- 
seven miles. 

As soon as it was known that a physician had 
taken up his residence on the island, I was at no 
loss to find friends. The lame, the halt, and the 
blind came from all parts with as great faith in my 
power to restore them as was ever known in 
Israel. While we were waiting for horses, 1 
mounted one that had been sent to me to visit a 
sick man at some distance. Half an hour brought 


me to his house on the crest of a hill overlooking 
the Sea to the eastward. The invalid was an 
old man who had been bed-ridden for twenty years 
from softening of the bones. The fingers and arms 
below the elbows were without true bones, and, 
from the greater strength of one set of muscles ^ 

than the other, the limbs were rolled up in the ^ 
direction of the stronger muscles. His legs were ^ 
much in the same condition. His health other- — 
wise seemed to be good, but he was perfectly ^^^ 
helpless, unable to stand or feed himself 

When I returned, the horses were waiting, and S 
we set but for home, leaving our baggage to go ^ 
round with a boat. Mr. Taylor and his nephew ^ 
took the lead; then the old Captain, with his gray " 
locks streaming in the wind; Mr. William Dill, of 
Orange County (New York) — who had been my 
traveling companion on our long and eventful voy- 
age around Cape Horn, and thus far on this one — 
and myself brought up the rear. The road was a 
mere trail and in the most wretched state, difficult 
for walkinij and worse for riding; but the horses 
had never known a better, and we, after a little 
practice, concluded to give them their way and be- 
stow our whol(^ attention to keeping the saddle, 
while they labored up the rocks or slumped 
through the mud up to their knees, dragging us 
through thorny bushes or under low-hanging' 
limbs of trees. After a ride of about four miles, 
we arrived at Mr. Taylors plantation. His houser 
was built of pine boards obtained from a vesseL 
wrecked on a reef in the vicinity. It was on a- 


rise of ground affording an extensive view of the 
sea to windward, and not so much elevated as to 
make access to the shore a fatiguing effort. At 
the foot of this hill was a forest of mangroves ex- 
tending out some distance into the water, and 
under the shelter of these was his landing, for he 
had a number of boats beautifully wrought from 

We were met by a woman as black as the ace 
of spades, whom Mr. Taylor introduced to us as 
his wife; she proved to be a good cook, and the 
other matter was no business of ours. Ham- 
mocks were stretched across the first floor, which 
Avas surrendered to us as a place to lounge by day 
"when weary, and sleep by night. Cigars had long 
since failed us, but we were furnished here with 
«i native leaf of mild and aromatic tobacco, 
^vhich we rolled into rude cheroots, and threw 
ourselves into the hammocks. The trade winds 
TdIow here constantly, but with var)-ing force and 
direction. They are lightest in the forenoon, but 
at all times soft and agreeable, though surcharged 
-with moisture from their long voyage across the 

Lying in our hammocks, our sight could range 
along the reefs that encircled the island, against 
which the surf was breaking in an uninterrupted 
line of foam, whose murmur was just audible in 
the distance, and beyond which the sea was of that 
deep blue which is only seen off soundings, rough- 
ened by white-capped waves, over whose surface 
shadows of trade clouds slowly passed. Within 


the reef the water was, in contrast with the sea 
outside, of a bright green, variegated by differing 
depths and beds of coral or algse that were inter- 
spersed, but nowhere breaking the smooth surface 
of this garden of the sea. 

That we were here was no fault of ours ; we had 
done our best to reach a port in our native coun- 
try, and had sent by two independent carriers let- 
ters to inform our friends of our situation, and our 
hope was that the steamer from Chagres to New 
York would be instructed to stop and take us off. 
This would require at least a month. In the 
meantime, we laid out plans for excursions for 
shells and fish among the reefs, and pigeon shoot- 
ing in the mountain. 

The season for fruit was over, but there can 
scarcely be want of food on this productive island. 
Yams and cassava — a root something like a pars- 
nip in form, but in taste and consistence more 
resembling the common potato, though somewhat 
harder — pork, beef, and chickens are plentiful. 
Fish are very abundant, and a canoe could be 
loaded with them in a few hours. Oranges and 
cocoanuts are always in season, and the latter are 
becoming an article of importance to the inhabit- 
ants. They are valued at $io a thousand, and are 
produced without labor, which is a matter of some 
consideration with these people. 

Two young men were sent off to shoot some 
pigeons for our dinner. Mr. Taylor admired my 
pistols- -a pair of single-barreled ten-inch rifled 
ones — with which I had won distinction as a dead- 


hot on several memorable but peaceful fields. 
I gave them to him for the use of his canoe while 
I staid on the island, on a guarantee from him 
tihat the descendants of the buccaneers on the 
place would do me no harm. The pigeons are 
delicious. They are of a dark-blue plumage, with 
^urhite feathers on the head. Formerly they were 
"very abundant, but the island was overrun with 
rats, and, in order to exterminate them, a large 
"but not poisonous snake was introduced from the 
continent, which has multiplied until rats and 
pigeons have become scarce, and even poultry are 
clifficult to preserve from their rapacity. 

The next day, soon after sunrise, we were 

thrown into commotion by the prolonged sound of 

the conch-shell that is blown by the lookout on 

the hill whenever a vessel is in sight. By this 

means it becomes known over the whole island at 

once. Here was hope of deliverance sooner than 

looked for. A messenger was posted off to the 

harbor, but returned in an hour or two to dispel 

our hopes. The vessel passed a long way off; 

and we settled down with the population into their 

accustomed tranquillity. They are a peaceful, 

happy people, so kind and generous that I wonder 

they are so unknown. Though they esteem it a 

blessing to be whitish, and it would be a violent 

presumption on our part to assume to ourselves 

anything more than that, they do not seem to feel 

it a degradation to be darker skinned. I thought 

if 1 were a free black man in the United States 1 

would go to this island and make it my home. 


The chief source of wealth is in the turtle fish- 
eries, which, during the Spring months, employ 
nearly all the male inhabitants. Turtles frequent 
all the keys and reefs in these seas, and feed on 
the algae growing among the coral. They are 
decoyed into nets by an imitation turtle of wood. 
Each turtle furnishes nearly eight pounds of shell, 
which is sold at $4 per pound. The flesh is not 
used for food, being regarded by the natives as 

Old Providence Island was well fortified by the 
buccaneers, and the batteries near the entrance to 
the bay still remain, though most of the guns were 
thrown into the water. On Catalina Island I was 
told that there was a considerable fortress that 
would repay a visit. I procured a boat at the^ 
village, and landed at the foot of a very steep crag — 
of trap rock, at the top of which the fort was said^ 
to be. After reconnoitering the place as well asi- 
the thickets would allow, I determined to scale ther 
wall in front, as presenting the least difficulty. Ther^ 
last part of the feat was performed with fingers and 
toes, uncontested, except by the lizards, which are^ 
as numerous in these warm countries as spiders are 
with us at home. Many heavy guns were scat- 
tered about the place, and it is a wonder how they 
were raised to their present position. The rock 
is about one hundred feet high, and is such a place 
as none but pirates or men equally desperate would 
think of fortifying. It was exposed to shells, and 
had no way of escape, except over the precipitous 
rocks, but it effectually commands the entrance to 



the bay, and any vessel attempting to pass was ex- 
posed to a plunging fire from this rock fortress. 
Its summit is now overgrown with a species of 
acacia-like shrub very abundant on the island, and 
known as the cockspur, from the peculiar shape 
and size of its thorn. This thorn is hollow, and 
inhabited by a venomous little insect, known as 
the cockspur ant, which is sure to resent the slight- 
est assault upon its dwelling. I recognized it as 
the same insect whose J^ing poisoned me severely 
^while rummaging about the ruins of the castle at 
San Carlos. This is said to be the only thing on 
the island whose sting or bite is poisonous. 

It was nearly night when I reached home. Dur- 
ing my absence, Mr. Dill had been out in the canoe 
on the east side of the island fishing, and had 
caught a large "Jew fish" that nearly filled the 
bottom of our canoe; it was like an immense chub. 
He was not very successful in finding shells ; a 
few specimens of the common Cypria of the 
West Indies and rock shells were all the deep 
water species he had to show. That night we made 
our arrangements to visit the chasm that separated 
the island into two parts, and near which Sir 
Edward Seward was wrecked. Here were said to 
be the caves where they found the pirates' trea- 
sures. I have never read the story, and doubt the 
authenticity of it, but Mr. Taylor says he was told 
by a British officer that this was the scene of 
Seward's adventures. 

On Sunday, January i8th, 185 1, while enjoying 
our morning lounge before starting on our excur- 


sion, a messenger arrived from the west side with 
the intelligence that the schooner had arrived with 
the men from the wreck. We at once mounted 
our horses and rode down to the bay. There we 
found the Polly Hinds at anchor, and the men 
that I saw last on the wreck were rejoicing at the 
privilege of once more treading the solid ground. 
Under the skillful guidance of the Negro reef pilots, 
to whom all the reefs and islands on the Mosquito 
shore are as well known as their own island, the 
schooner made its way up to the wreck of the 
Martha Sanger and rescued the men we had left 
in her, burned the wreck, and returned to the 
island, not being able to carry so large a number 
to Baltimore without discharging more of her cargo. 
We made a bargain with Captain Price for the 
cabin for our party of eight. Orange bins were 
emptied into the sea, bags of cocoa were landed 
until she could carry her passengers safely, and 
more water was taken in. While this was going 
on, I hurried along the beach to find some shells 
as mementoes of the island. I wandered along* 
the shore until I had reached the rocky point that 
partly incloses the bay, when I sat down under the 
shade of a tree to sketch an outline of the scener)% 
which was as beautiful as scenery could be. The 
shore line extended in a regular curve to the bold 
headland of Morgan's Head and the Castle on Cata- 
lina, which seemed continuous with the main island 
The smooth green waters of the bay were spread 
before me, with the Polly Hinds anchored abreast 
the cluster of thatched cottages, overhung with the 


rich green foliage of the bananas, the darker green 
of the forests mantling the hill-sides and glowing 
in sunlight, while rising above these were the 
rough, gray, precipitous rocks in deep shadow. 

Near me, scattered upon the ground, I noticed 
a small, yellow fruit, in form like a small apple. I 
had heard of a wild plum growing upon the island, 
and tasted of it, but its taste was insipid, and, per- 
ceiving nothing disagreeable, I ate the most of it 
and thought no more of it for half an hour, when 
a sensation of heat in the throat began to be felt, 
not unlike that of pepper. This became so insuf- 
f/srable that 1 several times rinsed my mouth and 
throat with sea water to relieve it, and then re- 
turned to see some natives, taking a specimen with 
me and learn what it was that 1 had eaten. 1 
entered a hut where a dozen natives were ; they 
seemed greatly alarmed, as I had eaten the man- 
chineel, the deadly upas of the West Indies, whose 
juice they said would blister the skin, while to sleep 
under the tree often caused death. One ran for 
oil, another for sea water, another brought me some 
milk, and I concluded to submit to their treatment, 
as it was a poison they were best acquainted with. 
I had indeed heard of the manchineel as a deadly 
poison, and was not a little alarmed to think that 
this, which should have been the last, proved un- 
fortunately to be the first thing that I had ventured 
to taste without knowing its properties. Every 
one of my medical attendants returned unsuccess- 
ful, except the one that ran for sea water, and that 
I had already used to allay the burning. 1 went on 

278 DID NOT DIE. Chap. XIII. 

board the schooner and "turned in." The burn- 
ing of the throat continued all night, and toward 
morning I was seized with cholera symptoms'; my 
mouth and throat were excoriated and swollen, and 
the act of swallowing was attended with excruci- 
ating pain. 1 went on deck ; the schooner, with a 
fresh breeze, was keeping her scuppers under 
water, and the firewood was floating about the deck 
on which I lay. The water washed over me, and 
its coolness was grateful. The natives said I would 
die, and I believed them. Let the breeze blow 
ever so high, it could not blow hard enough to take 
me to land. All that day and the following night my 
condition was much the same, I was unable to speak 
and indifferent to all that was passing. About the 
third day I was able to drink gruel, and then re- 
covered rapidly. My being alive at this time and 
able to give an account of the effects of the machi- 
neel is sufficient evidence that all who have writ- 
ten on its effects have greatly exaggerated them. 
On the fourth day from hoisting sail at Old 
Providence we were off Cape San Antonio, the 
western extremity of Cuba. We coasted along 
the north shore with light winds, until near Ha- 
vana, when we crossed over for Key West, passed 
the reef without knowing it, without a pilot, and 
entered the harbor by a new route on the 3 1 st of 
January. One of the men who came from the 
wreck died on the morning that we arrived. He 
was one of those that came off in the last trip of 
the boats from the Afec/ianic, and was compelled, 
by being fired upon by Mr. Sutter, to return to 


the wreck, in the effort to do which he was swamped, 
and was with difficulty rescued by the survivors 
on the wreck. He was taken down that night 
from the effects of fright and cold, and was now 
dead. I made an effort to have the body taken 
into port, but it was thrown overboard without 
ceremony, with a grindstone tied to its feet. At 
Key West the wrecked men were put on shore, 
and we continued our course to Baltimore, where 
we arrived on the loth of February, one hundred 
and thirteen days from San Francisco. 

The Captain of the Mechanic reconsidered his 
determination to go to Serrana, and made all haste 
for New Orleans, where he arrived in time to 
escape the justice that was trying to overtake 
him. Of the fate of the passengers of the Martha 
Sanger left at Old Providence 1 never heard, 
though we informed the Collector of the Port at 
Key West of their situation. If this narrative 
should meet the eyes of any one of them, it would 
afford the writer no small satisfaction to hear from 
him, and learn something of his subsequent history. 



Passengers of the Ship Pacific. 



James S. G. Canmom Brooklyn. N. Y 

Elihu BIattoon Brooklyn. N. Y 

Ben. F. Bird Coxnackie. N. Y 

William K. Shebwood.. New York 

W. J. BiGELow New York 

N. D. MoBOAK Brooklyn 

HiBAM BiNuH AM Brooklyn 

N. K. BfABTBH NewYork 

Db. J. D. B. Stillmak... New York 

E. H. Millrb Coxsackie.... 

J. S. Dunham :Brooklyn 

A. W. Hall Newark.N.J 

A. W. Gay Brooklyn 

J. C. Anoel Brooklyn 

H. D. Cook Hartford. Ck>nn 

Wabbrn S. Smith NewYork 

B. R. W. Stbono New Brnnawick, N.J. 

C. H. Williams Brooklyn. N. Y..... 

Mark Hopkins New York 

E. A. Hopkins NewYork 

E. W. Lbpfebts Brooklyn 

Phil E. Watj>bon NewYork... 

I. Lamtbence Pool New Branswiok, N.J. 

W. H. H. Bbown Troy, N. Y 

John Cheney Conneotioat 

J. B. Packabd Hartford 

John Inoals New Hamiwhire 

C. H. Humphreys Hartford 

Fbank Squirrh. New York 

John A. Arschman Switserland 

John Pettis. Jr Hartford 

£. C. Matthkwson Hartford 

Jesse Griffin Hartford 

John S. Jones Maoon, Ga 

G. W. Adamh Witherefleld. Conn . . 

F. ▲. P. Btradman Hartford, Conn 

Jamxs H. Gaorr NewYork 

J. W. ALLFJf St. Louis, Mo 

R. M. GULICK NewYork 

Ab'm Suloer Philadelphia. Penn. . 

J. Drake NewYork 

J. 8. Ferris NewYork 

Ro'D Matheson NewYork 

J. WiooiNH NewYork 

C. Detton Bremen 

A. D. Cartwuioht New York 

J. FisK MassachuHette 

W. LocKMAN New Jersey 


23 Unknown. 

, 2.^ Yaba County. Cal. 

, 20 Died. 

, 28 Died. 

25 Died. 
S2 NewYork. 
29 Died. 

27 San Francisco. 
, iO San Francisco. 

23 San Francisco. 
33 San Francisco. 
35 Loe Anseles. 
39 Brooklyn. 

28 Brooklyn. 
21 Died. 

, 32 Returned early. 

'2\ Returned early. 

21 Returned early. 

35 San Francisco.' 
2A Died. 

26 Lost in the mountains. 
25 NewYork. 
20 San Francisco. 

36 Returned early. 

22 Returned early. 
25 Unknown. 

20 Nevada. 

24 Unknown. 
19 Unknown. 

25 Unknown. 
22 Died. 
36 Unknown. 
31 Unknown. 

36 Returned early. 

22 Unknown. 

29 Unknown. 

37 San Francisco. 
SO Returned early. 

21 Drowned at Benida. 

27 Removed to Oregon. 
21 Returned early. 
21 Unknown. 
25 Died in battle at . 

28 Unknown. 

23 San Joaquin C')unty. Cal. 
28 San Francisco. 

24 Unknown. 

30 AUmeda,Cal. 




J. W. Bn«OHAM New York 25 

L. B. Thompson Gosheu. N. Y 25 

W. D. Bell Switzerlmnd 29 

W. H. JuLHTR PruMia 21 

D. W. C. Bbowm NewYork 22 

J. A. MoBOAN NewYork 28 

Db. H. H. Bralb NewYork 22 

J. Ron Browne Washington, D. C... 27 

Db. Kdwards Hall NewYork 30 

Dr. Richabo B. Hall New York 40 

Gkobgb J. P0WEB8 NewYork Ti 

Tfn Eyck Powebh., NewYork 21 

J. GUEiiNSET, Jb Connecticut 34 

E. 8ALZMAN Switzerlmnd 42 

PiEKBE Pecklin France 33 

Db. H. W. Jonbb NewYork 24 

W. B. JoNiS NewYork 29 

A. S.Clabk Savannah. Ga 22 

John Bowen NewYork 24 

Levi M. Kellooo Brooklyn, N. Y 19 

G. Reynolds NewYork 26 

A. S. Mabvin Brooklyn 23 

A. M. Ebbetb NewYork 19 

C. Thomas NewYork 22 

H. Caswell NewYork 37 

William Dill Newburg, N. Y 32 

H. MoBBiB NewYork 47 

Z. Sntdeb NewYork 53 

J. Leiohton NewYork 20 

B. Palmeb NewYork 40 

R.8,Hatch 26 


— Mabonet 24 

J. Lano 24 

P. H.8TOUT 28 

— Wrbtlock and 46 

Son 16 

Van Waoneb 35 

Van Wagner 20 

— Stacy 32 

William Emmons 28 

H. Emmons 22 

— Babbett 22 

J. O. McHenby 22 

Louis Colgate Rio 29 

Fbed'k Griffin A Wife. .Brooklyn — 

George Griffin Brooklyn 9 

Kate Griffin Brooklyn 5 

residence as far as known. 

Died in San Franciaco. 



Returned early. 

Buffalo. N. Y. 

Died in New York in 1^57. 

Died in MonUna in 1873. 

Died in Alameda 1875. 

Returned early. 

Centerville, Alameda, Cal. 

Marysville, Cal. 

Marysville, Cal. 




Lost on steamerGolden Gate— Burnt 

Returned early. [at sea. 


Died early in laM). 

Deputy Collector. San Franciaoo. 


l>ate firm Manrin Jk Hitchcock, S.F. 

San Francisco. 

Died in 1849. 

San Francisco. 

Returned early. 

Died in 1849. 

San Jose, Cal. 


Went to Sandwich Islands in 1851. 


VirRinia City, Nevada. 






San Francisco. 

Killed in a mine. 






Santa Barbara. 

Brooklyn— returned. 

San Francisco. 

Died on a coastwise voyaire. 

The foregoing is a list of the passengers who 
arrived at San Francisco in the ship Pacific, with 
their ages and residences, as preserved by Mr. 
Jas. H. Gager, one of the number, now resident 
in San Francisco. It may be unimportant now, 
but the time will come when it will be of interest, 


not as a matter of curiosity, perhaps, but as afford- 
ing a little material for analysis, out of which to 
draw some useful generalizations. 

One of the most striking facts that will arrest 
the attention is the youthful age of the greater 
number, the average of the whole being but little 
over twenty-six years, and many of them being 
mere boys. If similar lists have been preserved 
by any of the five hundred vessels that entered 
the port of San Francisco during the same year, 
they would enhance the value of this. About one- 
fifth of the foregoing are believed to be still living 
on the Pacific Coast, an equal number are known 
to have died, and a still larger proportion of names 
of others appear, of whose fate we have been 
unable to gather any information. Some of them, 
doubtless, perished in remote mining camps; butr 
the greater part, probably, returned to their old- 
homes, or died in the attempt to do so. Some 
others returned more or less successful in the 
object of their enterprise; others disappointed. 

Of those who remained, few, comparatively, 
acquired wealth, and none in the manner they 
anticipated when they set out on the voyage, or 
have succeeded any better, probably, than they 
would have done had they remained at their old 
homes, surrounded by family influences and the 
cooperation of friends. The disappointment in 
the early realization of their hopes did not dis- 
courage them all, and a longer residence in the 
new country gave them an opportunity to learn 
much of its advantages- for enterprise in numerous 


%^ays which they had not calculated on, and of 
hich they were not slow to avail themselves. 
They realized that they were in possession of a 
ountry whose climate, once fully understood, 
nfitted them ever after for the enjoyment of any 
other; where is found, free to all, what was 
regarded as an evidence of the extreme luxury of 
Rome in the Julian age — ** Winter roses and Sum- 
mer snows"; a soil as fruitful as the plains of 
Mesopotamia in the time of Herodotus; and a 
position of such commercial importance as to jus- 
tify the most extravagant prophecy. 

The analysis made of the passengers of the 
Pacific, it is not unreasonable to think, might be 
applied to the many thousands of their fellows 
who came to California at the same time. That 
those who survived and took up their permanent 
homes in California were not slow to perceive 
their advantages and profit by them will be mani- 
fest from a glance over the enterprises of greatest 
importance and most successful on the coast. 
They have acquired title to the best lands in the 
State, and a proportion of other property out of 
all ratio to their numbers. In railroad construc- 
tion and other engineering works, mining and 
farming on more extensive scale than ever before 
attempted, in manufactures and commerce, they 
have been foremost, and many of them have accu- 
mulated fortunes that are colossal. Others, less 
ambitious of wealth, have won the highest distinc- 
tion at the bar, on the bench, or in the forum. 
Seven of the ten Governors of California and all 



but two of our United States Senators were 
chosen from the men of '49, one of their number 
sits upon the Supreme Bench, and the commander 
of all our armies is proud of his experience as a 
pioneer of our State. These men are nearly all 
yet in the vigor of manhood — at most in green old 
age The results of their foresight are just mani- 
festing themselves; the future, with its vast possi- 
bilities, is before them. 




It has been remarked by travelers in a desert 
country that the eye acquires a wonderful power of 
discernment, from the constant search for objects 
on which to fix its attention and break the dull 
monotony of the landscape. So must the historian 
of California train his faculties to the discrimina- 
tion of insignificant material; for a history it can 
scarcely be said to have, it being only one hundred 
years since the first European settled upon its 
shores, and the first half of that period was passed 
in the quiet labors of a few missionaries to engraft 
their Christian faith upon the lowest type of 
savage life, in total exclusion from the civilized 

There can be no disputing the claim of Sir 
Francis Drake to be the oldest Pioneer of Alta 
California, the most successful gold hunter, the 
true Jason of modern times. There is no doubt 
that he was the first European that ever set foot on 
the shores of Upper California. He arrived with 
a freight of five million dollars, which he had taken 
with the strong arm from the enemies of his 


country along the Spanish coasts, and he carried 
away as much as he brought, which is more than 
many of the Argonauts of recent times can boast. 

Whatever we know of the discoveries and 
adventures of Drake and his companions are 
recorded in two accounts given by the adventurers 
themselves, and published, the first by Richard 
Hakluyt in 1600, and the other in a volume 
entitled The World Enco^npassed, compiled thirty- 
eight years later from notes by Francis Fletcher, 
chaplain to the expedition. It does not appear 
that Drake himself left any written account. Who- 
ever wrote the reports of the voyage, they must 
be judged by the internal evidence of the truth of 
the statements they contain, and as they are cor- 
roborated by facts since determined. 

Drake sailed from England in the year 1577, 
with a fleet of small vessels, to cruise against the 
Spaniards in the South Seas, as the Pacific Ocean 
was then called. His own flag-ship, the Pelican, 
afterwards known as the Golden Hind, a mere 
cock-boat of one hundred tons, was the only 
one of his squadron that entered it, the others 
having been abandoned, lost, or turned back, 
unable to endure the storms encountered in the 
passage. The year following his departure from 
England found him in the vicinity of Panama, 
freighted with plunder and anxious to find his way 
home with his treasure. He feared to return by 
the route he came lest he might be waylaid in the 
Straits of Magellan by his enemies, or fall a victim 
to the storms that had been so disastrous to his 


companions; he resolved, therefore, in order to 
" avoyde these hazards, to go forward to the 
Islands of the Malucos, and then hence to sail 
the course of the Portugals by the Cape of Buena 

" Upon this resolution he begunne to think of 
his best way to the Malucos, and finding himself 
where he was now becalmed, he saw that of 
necessitie he must be forced to take a Spanish 
course, namely to sayle somewhat northerly to get 
a winde. We therefore set saile and sayled six 
hundred leagues at the least for a good winde, and 
thus much we sailed from the i6 of April till the 
3 of June. The 5 day of June being in 43 degrees 
towards the pole Arctic, we found the ayer so cold 
that our men being greviously pinched with the 
same complained of the extremity thereof, and the 
further we went the more the cold increased upon 
us. Whereupon we thought it best for that time 
to seeke the land, and did so, finding it not moun- 
tainous but low, plaine land till we came within 38 
degrees towards the line. In which hieght it 
please God to send us into a fair and good Baye 
with a good wind to enter the same." 

The World Encompassed says that in " 38 
degrees 30 minutes they found a convenient and 
fit harbour," where they anchored on the 1 7th of 
June, '' and the people of the countrey having their 
houses close by the water side showed themselves 
unto us." From the same source we learn that 
the ship had sprung a leak at sea, and she was 
"graved," that is, keeled down, cleaned, and 



repaired ; and in order to do this, it was necessary 
to discharge the cargo. An entrenched camp was 
therefore formed on shore. 

" Neither could we at any time, in whole four- 
teen days together, find the aire so clear as to be 
able to take the height of sunne or starre on 
account of the thicke mists and most stinking 

" The next day after our coming to anchor in 
the aforesaid harborough the people of the country 
showed themselves — sending off a man with great 
expedition to us in a canow. Who being yet but 
a little from the shoare and a great way from our 
ship, spoke to us continually as he came rowing 

''After that our necessary businesses were all 
dispatched, our Generall with his gentlemen and 
many of his company made a journey up into the 
land to see the manner of their dwelling and to be 
better acquainted with the nature and commodities 
of the country. Their houses were all such as we 
have described, and being many of them in one 
place ; several villages (corresponding to the shell 
mounds as seen to-day) here and there. The 
inland we found to be farre different from the 
shoare, a goodly country and fruitful soyle stored 
with many blessings fit for the use of man ; infinite 
was the company of very large and fat deere 
(elk?) which we saw by thousands, as we supposed 
in a heard; besides a multitude of a strange kinde 
of conies by far exceeding them in numbers; 
their heads and bodies in which they resembled 


Other conies are but small; his tayle like the tayle 

of a rat exceedingly long, and his feet like the 

pawes of a want or moale; under his chinne on 

either side he hath a bagge, into which he gather- 

e^th his meate when he hath filled his belly abroade, 

that he may with it either feed his younge or feed 

Himself when he lists not to travaile from his 

burrough. The people eat their bodies and -make 

^reat account of their skinnes, for their king's 

liolidaies coate was made of them. This country 

our Generall named Albion, and that for two 

^:auses: the one in respect of the white banks and 

^iffs which lie towards the sea; the other that it 

might have some affinity even in name also with 

our own country which was sometime so called." 

** Not farre without this harborough did lye 
certain Hands (we called them the Hands of Saint 
James) having on them plentifull and great store 
of seals and birds with one of which we fell July 
24 whereon we found such provision as might 
competently serve our turne for a while." 

I have quoted above everything that can be 
supposed to have any bearing, however remotely, 
upon the vexed question as to the locality of the 
harbor where Drake spent the time from the i 7th 

•The white cJifFs referred to were more conspicious and more numerous in 
the memory of early cruisers now living than at present. Sea birds congregated 
in immense numbers on every islet and cliff along the whole coast inaccessible 
to their enemies. Alcatraz was called White Island in the sailing directions which 
many used in entering the Bay in 1849. Lime Rock in the entrance was so 
named for the same reason. The whiteness of the cliffs will disappear with the 
extermination of the birds, or when they arc driven to more remote shores. 
There is nothing in the account going to show that they had any relation as a 
landmark to Drake's harbor. 


of June until the 23d of July. This is all that has 
come down to us from any quarter. Nearly two 
centuries elapsed before the coast above Monterey 
was again visited by Europeans. The first dis- 
covery of the northwest coast was made from the 
Manila galleons. It was found that by keeping 
well to the north they had a more favorable wind 
for making the passage to the eastward as well as 
a more open sea. When land was discovered, 
they then ran off to the south with a following 
wind to Acapulco, their port of destination. In 
this way prominent headlands such as Mendocino 
and the Mountains of San Lucia were known and 
named by them. There is no evidence that they 
ever approached nearer to the land than was 
necessary to get their course. This practice 
resulted from the imperfect means the navigators 
possessed in those days of determining their longi- 
tude. A gr^at disadvantage was experienced by 
them from a want of knowledge of the coast and a 
port of refuge in distress. Therefore, early in the 
summer of 1542, thirty-seven years before Drake's 
visit, Juan Roderiques Cabrillo was dispatched 
with two vessels to obtain a knowledge of the 
unexplored coast of northern California. He suc- 
ceeded in reaching the latitude of Drake's harbor 
in November of the same year; saw the Moun- 
tains of Marin County north of the Golden Gate 
and Point Rey, which he named Cabo de Martin. 
He made no landing. 

Torquemada published, in 161 5, the account of 
Vizcaino's voyage, which was the second expedi- 




tion sent out by the Spaniards to explore the west 
coast of California that ever succeeded in reaching 
the latitude of Alta California. This was in 1602. 
More fortunate than his predecessor, Cabrillo, he 
survived the voyage, and his story is more fully 
told. Some time before the voyage of Vizcaino, a 
vessel had been sent by the Government of the 
Philippine Islands to explore the coast, and had 
been lost in the bay formed by Point Rey, and 
which seems to have taken the name of San Fran- 
cisco Bay, and held it until the new bay was found. 
Perhaps she was lost from a misapprehension in 
taking this harbor for the one which the account 
of Drake*s voyage called **a fair and good baye,'' 
as they knew of no other north of Monterey — 
Bodega, and San Francisco Bays not yet being 
known to them, nor either of them, for upwards 
of one hundred and seventy years after. 

Vizcaino anchored his own vessel in the bay, 
having on board the pilot of the wrecked ship, the 
Sa7t Augusiin; but, owing to stress of weather 
and apprehensions for his consort, he put to sea 
again and returned to Monterey. There seems to 
have been no doubt on jthe minds of Spanish 
navigators, for a century and a half after Viz- 
caino's voyage, that the roadstead under the lee of 
Point Rey was the Bay of Sir Francis Drake, for 
they knew no other in the vicinity. Lord Anson, 
in 1 742, captured a Manila ship, from which he 
obtained a chart of the California coast. A copy 
is appended to the quarto edition of his voyages. 
The Bay of San Francisco is there laid down in 



the latitude of 38°, as "a fair and good Baye/' 
opening wide through a narrow entrance, perfectly 
sheltered from all winds. From what source was 
that conception of the form of San Francisco Bay 
derived? Either it had been visited by some 
Spaniard prior to that time, or a chart-maker, more 
appreciative of the description of Drake s historian 
and the proprieties of the case, had drawn it as it 
must have been to his mind. 

I will now proceed to show that wherever the 
Bay viiglU have been, it could not have been 
under Point Rey that Drake s vessel was refitted. 
Point Rey is nearly in latitude 38°. Vancouver 
passed it from the north, as did Drake, in Novem- 
ber, I 792, and describes it as follows: "It stretches 
like a peninsula to the southwards into the ocean, 
where its highest part terminates in steep cliffs, 
moderately elevated, and nearly perpendicular to- 
the sea, which beats against them with great vio- 
lence. Southwards of this point, the shore, com- 
posed of low, white cliffs, takes, for about a league,, 
nearly an eastern direction, and there forms the 
north point of a bay extending a little distance tc^ 
the northward, which is entirely open and much 
exposed to the south and southwest winds. The 
eastern side of the bay is also composed of white 
cliffs, though more elevated. According to the 
Spaniards, this is the bay in which Sir Francis 
Drake anchored. However safe he might have 
found it, yet at this season of the year it promised 
us little shelter or security." 

What possible knowledge the Spaniards could 
have of the matter has already been shown. 


Beechy, thirty-four years afterwards, following 

the track of Vancouver, says: "The next evening 

Ave passed Punta de los Reyes, and awaited the 

return of day off some white cliffs which, from 

there being situated so near the parallel of 38° 

north, are in all probability those which induced 

Sir Francis Drake to bestow upon this country 

the name of New Albion. They appear on the 

eastern side of a bay too exposed to authorize the 

conjecture of Vancouver that it is the same in 

which Sir Francis Drake refitted his vessel." 

In the account of Drake's voyage, quoted, it 
appears that a native came off in a canoe, "who, 
being but a little from the shore and a great way 
from the ship, spoke to us continually as he 
came rowing on," which gives the idea of a bay of 
greater capacity and distance from the anchorage 
to the shore than is possible at Point Rey; nor 
could Drake be conceived as having any special 
reason to be grateful for a providential wind to 
enable him to enter it, when, during the whole 
time of his stay, a fresh northwest wind was blow- 
ing; he had only to run before it, and luff after 
passing the point, and his headway w^ould have 
sent him to the anchorage. 

The testimony of every practical seaman, 
familiar with the locality, that I have consulted, 
corroborates the opinion of Beechy. It is a safe 
anchorage during the summer months, while the 
prevailing wind is from the northwest; but even 
then a heavy groundswell from the southw^est is 
common, which would be fatal to a small vessel 


heeled down on the sandy shore. When it is 
considered that Drake was an experienced navi- 
gator; that he was upon a strange coast, without 
knowledge of the character of the winds, and with 
a certainty of destruction while he lay careened 


upon the shore, it seems strange that any one could 
be found to believe that he would have so exposed 
himself. Captain Rockwell, of the Coast Survey, 
who is perfectly familiar with the coast, assures 
me that it was not possible for Drake to have 
graved his ship in the harbor under Point Rey.^' 
It is not necessary to adduce any other fact to 
sustain the position taken ; but as some years 
ago I advanced an argument based on natural 
history,t which was new, and provoked some 
controversy and bad logic, I will restate it here 
more fully. 

*Office U. S. Coast Survey, 

San Francisco, Oct. 12th, 1876. 

Dear Sir : — In reply to your inquiries, regarding Sir Francis Drake*s Bay, 
etc., I have to say that I am familiar with most localities upon the coast, both 
from personal observation and study of our Coast Survey charts. 

Drake's Bay affords an excellent lee and good anchorage in northwest wea* 
ther, but certainly no navigator or seaman would think of laying a ship on shore- 
in that locality with any prospect of getting her off a^^ain. 

In my view, there is no place on the coast, within the latitude mentioned^ 
viz., 38°, that so fully answers all the conditions and the points of Drake^s nar- 
rative, both in coming in, staying, and going to sea, as does the Bay of Saa 
Francisco. Very truly yours, 

Cleveland Rockwell, 

J. D. B. StILLMAN. ytsit. U. S. C^mtt Survtj. 

Col. Davidson, Chief of the Pacific Coast Survey, saya in the Coast Pilot : "Sir 
Francis Drake visited California in 1579, and we are of the opinion that in this 
bay (San Francisco) he overhauled and repaired his vessel. In this harbor he. 
remained a month, * trimming* his ships, and taking possession of the country.** 

^O'ver land Monthly, October, 1868. 


The bay improperly named after Sir Francis 
Drake is in Marin County, which is bounded on 
the east by the Bay of San Francisco, and its 
northern limb, the Bay of San Pablo; on the north 
by Sonoma County; and on the west by the 
ocean. The eastern and western shores approach 
each other and join to form the northern post of 
the Golden Gate, from which a range of moun- 
tains extends through its whole length, attaining 
an elevation in Tamalpais of half a mile. These 
mountains, until a few years ago, were covered 
with a heavy growth of redwood and other forest 
trees, on their sides opposite the sea; and even 
now the growth offers, in connection with the 
abrupt mountain-sides, an almost impassable 
barrier to the pedestrian; without roads, it was no 
pastime then to a party of sailors, unaccustomed 
to mountaineering. Then they must have trav- 
eled more than twenty miles of this mountain 
region before they could have found a single 
specimen of the ground-squirrel, which is the 
only animal in the State that will bear, in any 
manner, the description of the **c6ny," as given. 
There is not one to be found in the County 
of Marin, nor is there any evidence that there 
ever were any there. It lives in vast com- 
munities, where it is found at all. It will 
not be found in the cold, foggy regions of the 
coast, nor in San Francisco County, making its 
first appearance south around the sunny slopes at 
the foot of San Bruno, in San Mateo County; 
south of that it becomes very numerous. Edward 



Bryant says that they were to be seen in the 
public square at San Jose, by hundreds or thou- 
sands, without fear or molestation, in 1846. It 
becomes very abundant on the dry grounds in 
Alameda County, east of the Bay. It is found in 
Sonoma County, in the warm valleys north of 
Petaluma. Dr. Eschscholtz, the Russian natural- 
ist, who spent several months in California, in the 
year 1824, making collections of the natural 
history of the coast, from Bodega Bay to the 
Bay of San Francisco, found no ground-squirrel, 
though he enumerates all the animals well known 
at this time. In many localities they have 
increased, where grain fields have furnished them 
an increased supply of food, and their natural 
enemies have been exterminated ; they have 
nowhere become extinct where they • once 
abounded. Wherever they have once colonized, 
they make such extensive burrowings that ages 
would not suffice to obliterate them from ground 
where it has not been tilled. These facts are well 
known to naturalists; and Dr. J. T. Cooper, the 
well known naturalist, among others, confirms the 
views here given. The natural habitat of animals 
is determined by physical causes. 

The only other roaent in the State that is 
numerous is the gopher; it is solitary, subterra- 
nean, never is seen above ground, or but rarely; 
it never goes abroad for its food, living on roots; 
has a short and obscure tail; it is discovered 
only by its ravages to roots, and small parcels 
of earth which it throws out where it breaks 

TIIK (lOPHER. 297 

the surface of the ground at night. In short, its 
habits are those of the mole, wherever found. 
Gophers can be secured only by traps peculiarly 
constructed and planted in their underground run- 
ways, or by poison. A whole tribe of Indians 
could not capture enough to make a coat of their 
skins in a lifetime. Few farmers, who suffer most 
from their ravages, have ever seen them, except 
they have killed them in the ways mentioned. 

On the other hand the ground-squirrel is a bold 
rover, gathering great stores of wheat in his bur- 
rows after he has ** filled his belly abroad." He is 
easily captured, and if he was as much valued as 
an article of food by Whites as he was by the 
Indians in Drakes time, could be made to supply 
no inconsiderable amount of animal food to our 
entire population.'^ 


Having shown that it was not only improbable 
but impossible that the Bay now known as Drake s 
could have been the harbor where his vessel lay, 
it remains to consider where it was possible and 

*Shermophilus Beecheyi. (Californ'u Ground-fquirrel.) Sp. Ch. — Size of the 
cat-squiirel S. cinereus. Tail more than two-thirds lung as the body. Lengthy 
9 to 1 1 inches ) tail, with hairs, 7 to 9 inches. This is the animal so well 
known in California under the name of ground-squirrel, as causing so much 
damage to the farmer by the depredations it commits on grain Aelds, and, in ^ct, 
almost every agricultural product, as well as by the disturbances of the soil by its 

TAomomys Bu/hii'crus. (California Gopher.) Sp. Ch. — Length of body, 
II inches; tail, ih inches, covered with close pressed hairs. Ext. from Bairifs 
Mammalia of N. America. 

See introduction to a new and beautiful edition of Palou''s Life of yunipero 
SerrOf by Hon. J. T. Doyle, San Francisco, 1874. I hope my friend Doyle 
will not gopher (go for) me again. 



There is a discrepancy in the two statements 
respecting the latitude of the place of thirty miles. 
If the latter is assumed to be correct it would have 
carried him to the northward of Russi^ River; a 
few miles south lies Bodega Bay. Though many 
of the objections to the supposition of this being 
Drake's Bay, they are not absolutely fatal object- 
ions like those that have been urged against Point 
Rey. The small size of Bodega forbids the sup- 
position that Drake entered it, and the entrance of 
Tomales bay, just south of it is barred by breakers 
during the prevalence of northwest winds, and 
the account state5> that the wind had been blow- 
ing from that direction for two weeks, as we 
can readily believe." There is one other, 
however, that is not without weight. The day 
after setting sail for the Maluccas, the account 
states, not far without this harbor they fell in with 
one of the Farallone Islands, where they procured 

* In an address delivered at the Centennial celebration of the founding of the 
Mission of San Krancisco, Gen. Vallejo, apparently foreseeing the impossibilty of 
nnaintaining any longer the Spanish tradition that Drake's Bay was at Point 
Rey, asserts positively that it was Tomales Bay that Drake entered. Having 
offered no reason for his assertion, he leaves it to be inferred that he has discov- 
ered the post that Drake set up with the inscription on sheet lead, claiming the 
country in the name of his sovereign. Perhaps "Spanish tradition " mav be 
stretched, like one of xhc'xr floating grants^ to cover this bay also. Though it 
appears that, for the period of time from the visit of Viscaino, in 1602, until 
1775, when Bodega y Quadra discovered the Bay of Bodega, no Spaniard had 
put his foot on shore north of San Francisco, and south of Trinity Bay ; and, even 
after the f«.undation of the Mis^ion at San Francisco, and until the visit of Van- 
couver in 1792, the north shore of the bay was utterly unknown, except as it 
had been xisited by a party of soldiers from the Presidio. Yet the General telli: 
us that Drake landed in Tcmales Bay, and, as if in confirmation of his state- 
ment, he assures us that he had himself seen there a fragment of the wreck of 
the San Augustine^ though the disaster occurred more than two hundred and 
seventy-five years ago ! 


a supply of fresh meat. These islands lie forty 
miles due south from Bodega Bay, and just as far 
out of Drake's course, while they lie twenty miles 
due west from San Francisco and directly in his 
route to the East Indies, and then as a reason that 
may influence some minds it is not in accordance 
with " Spanish tradition.'' 

The two accounts as to the latitude of the port 
where Drake anchored could not both be right, 
and the probability is that neither were entirely so. 
Hakluyt says ivithm 38° towards the line, twelve 
miles within would bring him to San Francisco, 
and there does not seem room for a doubt that it 
was in/ this Bay he repaired his ship; every diffi- 
culty is overcome on that supposition. 

Every one who has sailed in the Summer 
through the long and narrow entrance to the 
harbor of San Francisco, wmII appreciate the force 
of the -observation respecting the ''fair wind to 
enter the same." We now know that it rarely 
if ever fails the mariner during those months, and 
carries him through against the strongest tide. 

It has been urged that if Drake had made the 
discovery of a port so extraordinary, he would 
have made some observation to show his apprecia- 
tion of its importance; but under all the circum- 
stances it should not seem so strange. He had 
been for a year in seas never before traversed by 
an Englishman. To him evcry-thing w;as new 
and nothing strange but the "conies." One will 
find no observations in the account of his voyage 
calculated to throw much light on geography; he 


was not on a voyage of discovery; his was a busi- 
ness enterprise, and he had an eye to that alone; 
w^hat was not gold and silver was of small conse- 
quence to him. Nor does it seem probable that 
he knew the extent of the Bay of San Francisco. 
He had already concluded, as appears from his 
speculations on the cause of the extreme cold that 
he encountered, that there could be no Northw^est 
Passage; he had ascended the coast to 48°, and 
still the land extended away towards Asia, and he 
had abandoned the hope.^' To the charge of ignor- 
ance, made by a Spanish writer against Drake for 
the scarcity of information conveyed in his journal, 
Admiral Burney, a distinguished naval officer, 
replies: *' The accounts published of his voyage, 
it is true, are* as erroneous and defective in the 
geographical particulars as those of any of the 
early navigators. The purposes of discovery, or 
the advancement of science, were not among the 
motives of his voyage. "t 

His thoughts were bent on the best means of 
escape from the South Seas with his booty, and 
the desperation of his situation alone forced him 

■^^** And also from these reasons, we conjecture, that either there is no passag<^ 
at all through these northern coasts (which is most likely), or if there be, thaC 
yet it is unnavigable. Adde heieunto, that though we searched the coast dilli- 
gently, even unto the 48 dejr., yet found we not the land to trend so much a5 
one point in any place towards the east, but rather running on continually north- 
west, as if it went directly to meet with Asia j and even in that plight, when wc 
had a franke wind to have carried us through, had there been a passage, yet we 
had a smoothe and calmc sea, with ordinary flowing and reflowing, which could 
not have been had there been a frete ; of which we rather infallibly concluded 
than conjectured that there was none." — (Pjg^ ''9, ff^orld Enccmf*asscJ.) 

f History of Discoveries in South Sea. 



to repeat the exploit of putting a girdle about the 

After all the considerations that have been 
advanced, there does not seem to be room for a 
doubt that it was the Bay of San Francisco into 
which Drake entered, and where he dwelt for 
thirty-six days in the Summer of 1579. Though 
it is too late to bestow upon it the name of its 
discoverer, it is not proper that error should be 
perpetuated and history falsified by continuing the 
name of " the founder of England's naval glory " 
to that insignificant cove, whose silence, as in ages 
past, is broken only by waves dashing upon its 
shores, and where the still untrodden grass sways 
to fog-laden winds in eternal solitude. 

Two hundred years after Sir Francis Drake 
amazed the natives of New Albion with the sight 
of the first white men, whom they worshiped as 
gods, again a group of white men were seen over- 
looking our inland sea. It was Portala, with his 
Franciscan monks, the farthest ripple of that 
expiring wave of Spanish conquest that for centu- 
ries had been rolling along the Pacific shore. 

The story of the establishment of the missions, 
and the political and religious events of that half 
century, are foreign to the present purpose. Is it 
not written in cart-loads of archives,- moldering 
away in dark closets, of which few know the 
contents, or care to explore? And is it not 
printed in that old vellum-covered volume en- 
titled Relation Historica dc la vide y Apostolicas 
Tareas Del Venerable Padre Fray Junipero Serra ? 


Whatever is there recorded no one will be dis- 
posed to refute, and, if he were, he would be 
without the means, for the vox populi of that 
period has left no protest save in its silent dust. 

Sixteen years after the establishment of the 
missions in New California, the first visitor of a 
foreign nation made his appearance in the person 
of the famous La Perouse, the French explorer. 
He entered the port of Monterey, where he 
remained only ten days, in the month of Septem- 
ber, 1786; but his account of the natural resources 
of the country and its characteristics was never 
surpassed in fidelity by his successors. He was 
received by the authorities with the most marked 
attention, under orders from Spain; and during 
his short stay he made a good survey of the Bay 
of Monterey, which was published with his narra- 
tive, and also a rough sketch of San Francisco 
Bay, as furnished him by the missionaries. This 
sketch of San Francisco Bay is the earliest 
printed, and the southern shore is the only part 
that is even approximately correct. 

He was accompanied by a corps of naturalists; 
but the season of the year, the shortness of his 
stay, and perhaps a want of zeal on their part, 
prevented any important discoveries in a field 
entirely new. Among the novelties he introduced 
to the acquaintance of Europe was the crested 
quail, of which he furnished an excellent plate. 
The narrative of La Perouse will ever preserve a 
mournful interest, from the mysterious fate which 
afterwards befell him. 


In respect to the fertility of the soil, he ob- 
served: *' Every kind of garden plant thrives 
astonishingly. The crops of maize, barley, wheat, 
and peas can only be compared to those of Chili. 
Our European cultivators can form no conception 
of so abundant fertility.** Apart from the Missions, 
he states, there was not a white settler in all New 

His account of the administration and organiza- 
tion of the Missions especially arrests our attention, 
as the testimony of a Catholic concerning people 
of his own faith; and, therefore, the force of his 
observations is not to be averted on the score of 
religious prejudice. He was received into the 
church through a file of Indians, of both sexes; 
the edifice was adorned with pictures, copies of 
Italian paintings, among which his attention was 
drawn to one representing hell, in which were 
depicted scenes well calculated to strike terror 
into the minds of the savages. The habitations 
of the Indians consisted of about fifty huts, built 
in the same manner as described by Drake. They 
were the most wretched that could be imagined, 
about six feet in diameter, and four feet in height; 
into these were collected about seven hundred and 
fifty Christians, including women and children. 

The physical condition of these neophytes was 
in no respect changed by the influence of the 
missionaries; their filth was insufferable; and when 
this and the vermin rendered their habitations 
insupportable, they were in the habit of setting 
them on fire, and building new ones. The house 


of the missionaries and the store-houses were of 
brick, and plastered. He compared the establish- 
ment to a West Indian plantation, in which fetters, 
the stocks and the whip were not wanting to com- 
plete the picture. Men and women were treated 
alike to these punishments, except that the women 
were whipped in a distant enclosure, that their 
cries might not be heard by the males, for fear of 
a revolt. Neglect of the exercises of piety was 
punished with the lash; and he says: "Many sins, 
which in Europe are left to Divine justice, are 
here punished by irons and the stocks. The 
moment an Indian is baptized, the effect is the 
same as if he had pronounced a vow for life. IT 
he escapes, to reside with his relations in the inde- 
pendent villages, he is summoned three times to- 
return, and, if he refuses, the missionaries apply tc^ 
the Governor, who sends soldiers to seize him in. 
the midst of his family, and conduct him to the 
Mission, where he is condemned to receive a 
certain number of lashes with the whip." Repent- 
ance brought no reduction to the number of 
stripes. There was no attempt made to teach 
them the most common arts, and their grain was 
ground by women in the primitive Indian method 
of rubbing it with a roller upon a stone. He 
presented to the Mission a hand mill, which per- 
formed the labor of a large number of women. 

If any one is desirous of knowing what more 
La Perouse said of the Missions, he will find by 
consulting the narrative that I have not presented 
the darkest views, and he will draw the conclusion, 


after considering the fruits of the half century of 
missionary absolute government, that beneficent 
Christianity cannot precede civilization, nor suc- 
ceed without it. 

In November, 1792, six years after the depart- 
ure of La Perouse from Monterey, the equally 
renowned circumnavigator, George Vancouver, 
unfurled the banner of England in the port of San 
Francisco; and these, it would seem, were the 
only foreign visitors to Alta California after the 
time of Drake and before the beginning of the 
nineteenth century. 

Vancouver was received by the authorities, both 
civil and religious, with extreme hospitality, and 
during his stay of eight days made an excursion 
to the Mission of Santa Clara. The November 
rains had revived the verdure of the year, for 
along the coast of California that month witnesses 
the awakening of vegetation from its arid repose; 
in effect, is the first spring month. He was 
charmed by the beauty of the country, and his 
narrative glows with praises of it and the 
unbounded hospitality of the missionaries. His 
account of the brutal condition of the baptized 
Indians is corroborative of that of La Perouse. 
His description of the country is very correct, and 
cannot fail to be read at this day with great 

For twenty miles before reaching Santa Clara 
he says '* the country could only be compared to 
a park, which had originally been closely planted 
with the true old English oak. The underwood 


that had probably attended its early growth had 
the appearance of having been cleared away, and 
had left the stately lords of the forest in complete 
possession of the soil." As one rides along the 
same road to-day, through Fair Oaks, Menlo 
Park, and beyond, he looks upon the same noble 
oaks that awakened the enthusiasm of Vancouver. 
His ride was attended with much inconvenience 
from the burrows of the ground squirrels which 
had excited the attention of Sir Francis Drake, 
and doubtless over the same tract of country. 
His road back was taken on higher ground, but 
still through the forest of oaks, and as night was 
approaching his guide, to avoid the continued in- 
convenience and danger from the squirrel bur- 
rows, led him into the marshy ground bordering 
the bay. 

He visited Monterey, also, and was received 
with the same marked attention and unbounded 
hospitality. Menzies, who has inseparably woven 
his name into the nomenclature of our F*lora, 
accompanied Vancouver in this expedition as a 

The year following was spent in exploring the 
northern coast, when he returned to San Francisco 
only to receive a niost chilling reception where, a 
few months before, he had met so warm a welcome. 
He was denied communication with the shore, 
except on the most humiliating conditions; and 
he stood out of our bay to find himself equally 
repelled at Monterey, where he was given to 
understand that the hospitality he had received on 


his former visit was only for the occasion, and 
must not be taken for a precedent! The orders 
from Spain did not contemplate a second visit, and 
the traditionary jealousy of the local govern- 
ment could only be controlled by express orders. 
So the famous voyager turned his back in dis- 
gust from a Christian people, to find a more wel- 
come reception among the savages of Honolulu, 
and refit his vessels. 

Fourteen years more passed away, in which no 
foreign keel disturbed the solitude of our harbors 
or startled the fears of the pious Franciscans; 
their cattle multiplied and fattened on the hills; 
their wheat-fields ripened under cloudless skies; 
and their converts wallowed in their filth and more 
than barbarous degradation. 

Another flag now moved over the face of the 
waters, representing a people that had yet borne 
no part in the struggle with the Spanish for 
supremacy. On the twenty-eighth of March, 
1806, the Russian ship Jtuio entered the port of 
San Francisco, in quest of supplies for the fam- 
ishing colony of Sitka. For the most detailed 
account of the country and its population that had 
yet been given to the world, we are indebted to 
Langsdorff, an officer on board that vessel. The 
yinio lay forty-four days at anchor in the Bay of 
San Francisco, and the result of Langsdorff s 
observations is given in sixty-six quarto pages of 
his Voyages, 

So great was the jealous exclusiveness of the 
Californians, that he was compelled to practice a 


deception upon the commandant. Intelligence 
had been sent from Spain to California of an 
intended visit by Captain Krusenstern, with two 
Russian ships of war, and orders were given 
to receive them hospitably. The vessels never 
arrived, but the captain of the Juno gave a 
plausible reason why the ships had failed to do so, 
and stated that he had been sent in their stead. 
With this satisfactory statemeot he was permitted 
to communicate with the shore, and after an inti- 
macy had been established he ventured to broach 
the object of the voyage. 

Negotiations for the purchase of grain having 
been completed about the twelfth of April, an 
attempt was made with their boats to reach the 
Mission of San Jos6, but it was defeated by 
storms. Another effort was made soon after, by 
Langsdorff, with a small boat, accompanied by a 
sailor and a hunter. He succeeded in effecting a 
landing at the mouth of what is now known as 
Alameda Creek; and after a time spent at the 
Mission, of which he gives a very interesting 
account, he set out to return, but a strong north- 
west wind confined him in the mouth of the creek, 
surrounded with mud, and wet to the skin, unable 
to advance or return. As darkness had overtaken 
him, he was compelled to pass the night in the 
boat, without food or fresh water. When the day 
returned the wind had lulled, but the low tide had 
left him in the mud, <Lnd with the tlood tide the 
wind returned. Thus was he baffled in his 
attempts to reach the, ship, and, discovering the 


well wooded eastern shore, he rowed across the 
bay. But here the same difficulty was encoun- 
tered — an impassable marsh, covered, as now, with 
salt weed, which prevented him from reaching the 
wood. After a long effort he succeeded, but how 
great was his disappointment in finding that the 
source from whence the trees quenched their thirst 
was inaccessible to him. And here, in sight of his 
ship, without food or water for two days, he lay 
down under the trees in despair. At night his 
ears were greeted with the croaking of a frog. 
** Never," says the narrator, *'did the tuneful notes 
of the nightingale sound half so grateful to the 
ears of the poet or lover as did the voice of this 
animal now sound to us. We started up, and, 
following the noise, found ourselves at length, in 
the darkness of the night, by the side of a little 
stream of excellent water." After having been 
two days without the means to quench their thirst, 
they fell to with such eagerness that in two hours 
they drank fourteen bottlesful. Having built a 
fire, they waited till midnight, when, with a full 
moon, they set out to return to their boat. They 
encountered both bears and wild bulls on their 
way, but frightened them away with their guns. 
The channel through the mud flats that they fol- 
lowed to get into the bay was full of sea-otters, 
swimming about or basking on the banks. 

He remarks that in the whole bay and its 
tributaries the Spaniards possessed not a single 
boat, and their only knowledge of the country* was 
derived from the excursions of their soldiers into 


such parts as were accessible by land, and where 
they had been accustomed to **hunt for converts/' 
Thus they had discovered the San Joaquin, and 
from its banks had descried the snowy peaks of 
the Sierra Nevada. In consequence of the want 
of boats, the author states that the Spaniards w^ere 
entirely separated from the north shore of the bay, 
of which they possessed no knowledge. In that 
day it required two months for a courier to make 
his way from Mexico to San Francisco, who 
brought news from Europe six months old, though 
stations were kept by the military all the way. 

Langsdorfif observed, at this early period, that 
the new mode of life of the Mission Indians, with 
the retention of all the most unwholesome of their 
savage vices, was having a serious effect upon 
their health, and disease was speedily diminishing 
their numbers. The monks complained that upon 
the least illness' the Indians became depressed and 
rejected the advice given them. The missionaries 
were unprovided with medicines, except some 
emetics and cathartics, which, fortunately for the 
Indians, they kept solely for their own use. 

Kotzebue, the distinguished Russian discoverer, 
entered the harbor of San Francisco,*on the first 
day of October, 1816, with the Ritrick, accompa- 
nied by Chamisso as naturalist. He stayed one 
month for repairs, but added little to the knowl- 
edge of the country. He states that no trading 
vessel is allowed to enter any port of California, 
and several Russian prisoners were here in con- 
finement for violation of the laws. These were 


from Ross, the Russian fort built near Bodega four 
years before. 

In the year 1824 Kotzebue entered for the 
second time the port of San Francisco. In the 
meantime California had declared its independ- 
ence of Spain. The missionaries, no longer 
sustained by the authority of the mother country, 
lost their power over the soldiery whose sword 
had given efficacy to their prayers; and anarchy 
aided disease to bring to a close what has been 
admiringly called the patriarchal age of California. 
As Kotzebue passed the fort, he was hailed through 
an immense trumpet by the sentinel. The sharp 
interrogatory; the sight of the cannon pointed on 
his track; the military drawn up as for battle, 
imposed upon him the impression of a power capa- 
ble of resisting a ship of war. A salute was fired 
from the ship, but no answering gun returned the 
civility. At length an officer from the shore came 
on board to beg a sufficient quantity of powder to 
return the salute; which accomplished, the garri- 
son, even to the sentinel, left the fort and mingled 
with the curious gazers on the shore. The weak- 
ness of the country had evidently opened the mind 
of Kotzebue to its surpassing beauty and import- 
ance, and throughout his narrative there is betrayed 
a purpose in his present visit not incompatible 
with the interest of Russia. On his way to Santa 
Clara he remarks : *' The death-like stillness of 
these beautiful fields is broken only by the wild 
animals which inhabit them, and as far as the eye 
can reach it perceives no trace of human existence; 


not even a canoe is to be seen upon the surround- 
ing waters." 

How prophetic is the following: "It has hitherto 
been the fate of these regions, like that of modest 
merit, or humble virtue, to remain unnoticed; but 
posterity will do them justice; towns and cities 
will hereafter flourish where all is now desert. 
The waters, over which scarcely a solitary boat is 
seen to glide, will reflect the flags of all nations, 
and a happy, prosperous people, receiving with 
thankfulness, what prodigal Nature bestows for 
their use, will disperse her treasures over every 
part of the world." 

That prophecy was fulfilled sooner than he could 
have anticipated, but by another race than the one 
he contemplated, as we can infer from the follow- 
ing: " I confess I could not help speculating upon 
the benefit this country would derive from becom- 
ing a province of our powerful empire, and how 
useful it would prove to Russia." 

Kotzebue in this voyage was accompanied by 
Eschscholtz, the botanist, after whom was named 
the golden yellow flower known as the California 
poppy, so common over the whole country. 

They visited Santa Clara and the Mission of 
San Jose, and he adds much information of the 
Mission as well as of the country. He informs us 
that Mission Bay was called Yerba Buena, and 
that it was there that V^ancouver anchored for con- 
venience of getting wood and water. He landed 
on Goat Island, which he says was probably 
never before trodden by the foot of man. 


He describes an Indian convent at Santa Clara 
as a large quadrangular building, without windows 
and only one carefully secured door, resembling a 
State prison. *' These dungeons are opened two 
or three times a day, but only to allow the prison- 
ers to pass to and from the church. I have 
occasionally seen the poor girls rushing out eagerly 
to breathe the fresh air, and driven immediately 
into the church like a flock of sheep by an old 
ragged Spaniard armed with a stick. After mass 
they are in the same manner hurried back to their 
prisons.'* Yet he observed **the feet of some of 
the fair ones encumbered with bars of iron — the 
penal consequences of detected transgressions.** 

The unmarried males of the flock were permitted 
to choose a wife from the convent, but as the girls 
were never allowed to associate with their own 
people until after marriage, their choice of a com- 
panion must have resembled somewhat the selec- 
tion that one makes in what is commonly called a 
•* grab-bag " in a modern church fair. 

Accompanied by the commandant of San Diego, 
Don Jose Maria Estudillo, and a small party, he 
set out to visit the Russian settlement at Bodega. 
He landed at San Rafael, and his journey is of 
intense interest to the student of the history of our 
State as the first account of exploration by land of 
that picturesque region now known as Marin 
County. He will recognize the same features of 
the landscape, the stream on the mountain where 
Kotzebue passed the night, the hills ** thickly 
covered with rich herbage;" the '* luxuriant trees" 


Stand in *' groups as picturesque as if they had 
been disposed by the hand of taste " as then, but 
the ** stag as large as a horse " that snuffed the 
strangers from the hill-tops is missing in the land- 
scape, and the '' Indianos bravoSy' of whom the 
Spaniards had a wholesome dread, have left no 
trace save in that sluggish stream where their 
blood flows mingled with that of the ''gente 
rationale,'' He says, also : • 

** To the east of the Russian settlement, extend- 
ing far inland, lay a valley called by the Indians 
the valley of the White Man. There is a tradi- 
tion among them that a ship was once wrecked on 
this coast, that the white men chose this valley for 
their residence and lived there in great harmony 
w^ith the Indians. What afterwards became of 
them is not recorded." By Estudillo he was 
informed that the Missions were supplied with 
converts by sending dragoons into the mountains 
to catch the free heathens. This was done with 
the lasso, with which they were dragged to the 
Mission, and **once there they are immediately 
baptized and they then become forever the prop- 
erty of the monks." 

Making all needful allowance for the prejudices 
which evidently colored his observations on the 
administration of the Missions, there remains a 
fearful array of evidence confirmed by the repre- 
sentatives of three grand divisions of Christen- 
dom — witnesses of the Roman Catholic, Protes- 
tant, and the Greek faith — that for half a centurv 
or more the missionary monks of California pur- 


sued a system of oppression under the name of 
Christianity that depopulated the country of its 
primitive inhabitants, without leaving a solitary 
testimonial of benefits conferred. No mill for 
grinding corn, save the hand mill presented by La 
Perouse, was seen during all this period in Califor- 
nia; not even a blacksmith; and the commonest 
>vants of civilized life were not supplied to miti- 
gate the rigorous despotism. 

Yet it should be said in extenuation of the 
treatment of these Indians, that it is doubtful 
"whether a milder discipline would have been 
attended wirh any better results. They seemed 
to have been a race insusceptible to moral influ- 
ences, and extermination was their inevitable fate, 
and whether it came by the hand of the mission- 
aries, through confinement, bean soup, and long 
prayers, or whisky and the rifle of their successors, 
the ultimate result was the same. Hut as the sal- 
vation of their souls was the primary object of the 
former, let us hope they were successful. Van- 
couver says of them, '* if we except the inhab- 
itants of Terra del Fuego, and those of Van 
Dieman's Land, they are certainly a race of the 
most miserable beings, possessing the faculty of 
human beings, I ever saw. Their faces ugly, pre- 
senting a dull, heavy, and stupid countenance, 
devoid of sensibility or the least expression.'' 
Their houses were so ''abominably infested with 
every kind of filth and nastiness, as to be rendered 
no less offensive than degrading to the human 
species." Their conversion had effected no 
change in their filthy habits. 


The early visitors to California tell of some 
remarkable examples of their cunning, worthy of 
the best type of savages. They had a method of 
stalking deer that was very successful. An Indian 
would clothe himself in the skin, head, and horns 
of a deer, and so well imitate the form and motion 
of one of these animals as to deceive one of La 
Perouses hunters, who was upon the point of 
shooting him down. In this disguise they wouid 
enter a herd of deer, and shoot them with their 
arrows until a wounded one would put the rest to 
flight. Having no boats, but such as they could 
make from bull-rushes, they were expert swim- 
mers, and with a bunch of dried grass or rushes 
floating on the water and concealing their heads, 
they would float out among the water fowl, and 
taking them by .the feet pull them under water, 
wring their necks, and tuck their heads under a belt 
worn about the waist. They would continue this 
game until they had secured the desired number, 
and return to land without having excited the fears 
of the survivors. 

Kotzebue set out to explore the rivers that were 
said to discharge themselves into the bay at the 
north, and in the month of November he actually 
ascended the Sacramento to the latitude of 38° 37^ 
nearly as high as where the State capital now 
stands; but the violence of the rains compelled 
him to return. The time spent by Kotzebue in 
these explorations of the waters of San Francisco 
Bay was about two months. 

With the Mexican Revolution the more than 


Japanese exclusiveness of the Government of Cali- 
fornia passed away. As fast as long-established 
customs would permit, the ports were opened to 
trade, and the visits of strangers were more com- 
mon. California became in the minds of men the 
ultima thule of travel, and to have been there was 
to carry a passport to the wondering admiration of 
ones countrymen. Thomas Campbell, when he 
would surround his hero Waldegrave with the halo 
of romantic adventure, says : 

**0f late the equator's sun his cheek had tanned, 
And California's gales his roving bosom fanned." 

Lovers of natural science penetrated these un- 
explored regions. The distinguished botanists, 
Coulter, Nuttall, Drummond, and Douglas, are 
mentioned as traversing the mountains of the 
interior about this time. But of all the pioneers 
of California, the name of David Douglas holds a 
prominent place. Often, with his inseparable 
Scotch terrier, alone he penetrated to the most 
inaccessible regions : first, from the north — follow- 
ing the tributaries of the Columbia; making friends 
of hostile Indians by kindly offices; depending 
upon his gun for food; loaded with specimens of 
plants; unsheltered from the winter rains; bruised 
and lacerated by falls or for days stretched sick 
upon the ground, and encountering perils from 
every source, he persevered, and enriched the 
herbariums of the Royal Society with specimens 
of the cones of our famous pines and an incredible 
number of plants new to science. The Pmus 


Sabmiana and Gra7idis were, with others, contrib- 
uted by him. Whole weeks he spent in the groves 
of the sugar-pine in unabated admiration of their 
grandeur. He ransacked the mountains as far as 
Santa Lucia, in Monterey, between the years 1826 
and 1831 ; and his journal, which furnished material 
for one of the most entertaining books of adventure 
ever written, was published many years after his 
death, by his friend Dr. Hooker, of the Royal Gar- 
dens, in the Companio?t to the Botanical Magazine, 

His enthusiasm for his favorite science is illus- 
trated in a quotation from a letter to his friend 
and patron. Dr. Hooker, written at Monterey, in 
1 83 1. He had just met Dr. Coulter, who had 
penetrated from Central America in . a similar 
pursuit. '' I do assure you from my heart, it is a 
terrible pleastcre to me thus to meet a really good 
man, and one with whom I can talk of plants." 

His adventurous life was closed in a most 
tragical manner. He was at the Sandwich Islands 
on his return to London, and while on an excur- 
sion into the interior, he fell into a pit dug by the 
natives to catch wild cattle. A wild bull had been 
caught by falling through the false turf that con- 
cealed it, and it is supposed that Douglas must 
have accidentally lost his balance when looking in 
upon the captive, for he w^as found dead, torn and 
stamped by the infuriated beast, until, when his 
body was rescued, it could scarcely be recognized. 
His little dog, the companion of all his wanderings, 
was found at the brink of the pit, the sole spectator 
of his master's horrible fate. 


The well-known tree that we use for piling in 
our harbor, Tsuga Dotiglasii, will forever bear his 
name and perpetuate his memory. 

The only published record of Dr. Thomas 
Coulter's observations that I find, is a memoir 
read before the Royal Geographical Society, and 
which appears in the fifth volume of their 
*' Journal." It is accompanied by a map in which 
he represents the Tule lakes as discharging into the 
the Bay of San Francisco at San Jose ! The range 
of his travels extended from San Francisco on the 
north to the Tule lakes on the east, and south to 
the southern boundary of the State. The pine 
bearing the heaviest cone of all the pine-trees 
known perpetuates his name. He must not be 
confounded with Dr. John Coulter, who published 
two volumes of adventure, several chapters of 
which were devoted to California. The latter was 
a whaler, and it is very doubtful \Yhether he ever 
saw the country, and his narrative is so bare- 
threaded a tissue of lies, that it is only mentioned 
here to prevent any one from confounding the 
author with the eminent man whose name he bears. 

In 1826, Beechey, in command of H. M. ship 
Blosso7n, visited San Francisco and Monterey, but 
added little to our knowledge of the country that 
could not have been gathered from the published 
accounts of his predecessors. He surveyed the 
bay as far as Benicia, and his pleasantly-told 
account of the country tempted the cupidity of 
Britain and attracted increased attention to Cali- 


Bcechey's visit was made soon after the close of 
of the Spanish rule and of the patriarc/ml age 
in California, and fifty years after the foundation 
of the Mission of San Francisco, and he had an 
opportunity of witnessing the fruits of half a cen- 
tury of Christian culture upon the natives. They 
had been taught in many of the useful arts, and 
** there was in almost every Mission weavers, tan- 
ners, shoemakers, bricklayers, carpenters, black- 
smiths, and other artificers;*' still the rigorous 
system of slavery was strictly enforced. "The 
services of the Indian for life belonged to the 
Mission, and if any neophite should repent of his 
apostacy from the religion of his ancestors and 
desert, an armed force is sent in pursuit of him, 
and drags him back to punishment, apportioned to 
the degree of aggravation attached to his crime." 
Their attempts to escape were rarely successful, as 
the Mission lands were surrounded by gentile 
Indians, who entertained great hatred and con- 
tempt for those who had once entered the Chris- 
tian fold. Nine years before, the Mission of San 
Francisco contained a thousand converts, now it 
was reduced to one-fourth of that number, and 
they were in a deploroble condition. Their hovels 
afforded scarcely any protection from the weather. 
Some of them were sleeping on the filthy floor, 
others were grinding parched acorns to make into 
cakes, after the manner of their forefathers. 
''Having served ten years in the Mission, an 
Indian might claim his liberty, provided any 
respectable settler would become security for his 


good conduct; but he was never wholly free from 
the establishment, as part of his earnings must 
still be given to it. We heard of very few to* 
whom this reward for servitude and good conduct 
had been granted." The dull monotony of the 
religious life of these children of nature was 
sometimes relieved by an excursion into their 
native wilds. Captain Beechey relates the par- 
ticulars of one that occured during his visit. 
A launch was fitted out at the San Jose Mission, 
under the superintendence of an Alcalde, well 
armed, and proceeded up through San Pablo 
bay into the San Joaquin river, which they 
followed until they came into the country of a 
tribe known as the Cosemenes, intending to make 
an attack upon them. They disembarked with 
their cannon, and went into camp near the Gentile 
village; but the Gentiles, not liking the mode of 
conversion, anticipated their enemy, and routed 
them. Some regained their launch, others found 
their way to the Mission by land, but thirty-four 
never returned; and the field-piece was left as 
spoil on the field of battle. 

An expedition was set on foot to chastise and 
strike terror into the victorious tribe. 

The Mission furnished the supplies and the 
Presidio supplied the troops, headed by Jose 
Antonio Sanchez. The expedition set out by 
land on the 19th of November, and returned 
on the 27th of the same month. The result 
is given in the following dispatch by Sanchez 
to his commander-in-chief. ** On the morning 

32 2 A WAR PARTY. 

of the 20th the troop commenced its march, and, 
after stopping to dine at Las Positas, reached 
the river San Joaquin at eleven o'clock at night, 
when it halted. This day s march was performed 
without any accident, except that neighbor Jos6 
Concha was nearly losing his saddle. The next 
day the Alfarez determined to send forward 
the auxiliary neophytes to construct balsas (of 
rushes) for the troop to pass a river that was in 
advance of them. The troop followed, and all 
crossed in safety; but among the last of the horses 
that forded the river was one belonging to soldier 
Leandro Flores, w^ho lost his bridle, threw his 
rider, and kicked him in the face and forehead; 
and as poor Flores could not swim, he was in a 
fair way of losing his life before he came within 
sight of the field of battle; assistance was speedily 
rendered, and he was saved. As Sanchez w-ished 
to surprise the enemy, he encamped until dark to 
avoid being seen by the wild Indians, who were 
travelling the country; several of whom were met 
and taken prisoners. At five they resumed their 
march ; but neighbor Gexbano Chaboya being 
taken ill with a pain in his stomach, there w^as a 
temporary halt of the army ; it however soon set 
forward again, and arrived at the river of Yachi- 
cume at eleven at night, with only one accident oc- 
casioned by the horse of neighbor Leandro Flores 
again throwing up his heels, and giving him a for- 
midable fall. The troop lay in ambush until five 
o'clock the next evening, and then set out, but here 
they were distressed by two horses running away. 


"They were, however, both taken after a short 
march, which brought them to the river San Fran- 
cisco, near the rancheria of their enemy, the Cos- 
emenes, and where the Alfarez commanded his 
troops to prepare for battle, by putting on their 
armor. The 23d, the troop divided, and one 
division was sent around to intercept the Cosem- 
enes, who had discovered the Christians, and were 
retreating, some of whom they made prisoners, 
and immediately the firing began. It had lasted 
about an hour, when the musket of Jose Maria 
Garnez burst and inflicted a mortal wound in his 
forehead; but this misfortune did not hinder the 
other soldiers from firing. The Gentiles also 
opened their fire of arrows, and the battle became 
g^eneral. Towards noon a shout was heard in the 
north quarter, and twenty Gentiles were seen 
skirmishing with three Christians, two on foot and 
one on horseback; and presently another shout 
was heard, and the Christians were seen flying, 
and the Gentiles in pursuit of them, who had 
already captured the horse. 

"It was now four o'clock, and the Alfarez seeing 
that the Gentiles who were in ambush received 
little injury, disposed everything for the retreat of 
the troops, and having burnt the rancheria, and 
seen some dead bodies, he retreated three quarters 
of, a league, and encamped for the night. On the 
24th, the troops divided into parties, one charged 
with booty and prisoners, amounting to forty-four 
souls, mostly women. All the wounded that fell 
into their hands, were slain without mercy. 


" The Other party went with the veteran Sanchez 
to the rancheria to reconnoitre the dead bodies, of 
which he counted forty-one, men, women, and 
children. They met with an old women there, the 
only one that was left alive, who was in so mis- 
erable a state that they showed their compassion 
by taking no account of her. The Alfarez then 
set out in search of the cannon that had been 
abandoned by the first expedition. The whole of 
the troop afterwards retreated, and arrived at the 
Mission of San Jose on the night of the 27th." 

On that day the veteran Sanchez made a tri- 
umphant entry, escorting fifty miserable women 
and children, the gun that had been lost in the first 
battle, and other trophies of the field. The vic- 
tory, so' glorious, according to the idea of the con- 
queror, was gained with the loss of only one man, 
who was mortally wounded by the bursting of his 
own gun. 

The prisoners were immediately enrolled in the 
list of the mission, where they were converted, 
and duly taught to repeat the Lord's Prayer and 
hymns in the Spanish language. 

A few days after. Captain Beechey attended 
High Mass, in commemoration of the patron 
Saint. All the converted Indians were compelled 
to attend. After the bell had done toiling, several 
alguazils went around to the huts, to see if all the 
Indians were at church, and if they found any 
loitering within them, they exercised with tolerable 
freedom a long lash, with a thong at the end of it. 

**The congregation was arranged on both sides 


of the building, separated by a wide aisle passing 
along the center, in which were stationed several 
alguazils, with whips, canes, and goads, to preserve 
silence and maintain order, and what seemed more 
difificult than either, to keep the congregation jn 
their kneeling position. 

**The goads were better adapted to this purpose 
than the whips, as they would reach a long way 
and inflict a sharp puncture without making any 
noise. The end of the church was occupied by a 
guard of soldiers under arms, with fixed bayonets; 
a precaution which experience had taught the 
necessity of observing.'' 

Sir Edward Belcher, who accompanied Beechey, 
revisited San Francisco in command of H. M. 
ship Sulphur, in the year 1837, and renewed the 
attempt to survey the Sacramento. He failed to 
find the San Joaquin River, and doubted its exist- 
ence. He had as a guide ** one of those trained in 
former days to hunt for Christians^' but he was 
equally at loss. The farthest limit of Belchers 
explorations fell short of those of Kotzebue, about 
one-fifth of a mile, allowing the observations of 
both navigators to have been correct, and a whole 
month was occupied in the work. 

In 1841, Governor Simpson, of the Hudson Bay 
Company, made a considerable stay in San Fran- 
cisco on his way around the world, and in his 
*' Journey" has devoted a lengthy space to infor- 
mation abour the country and general gossip about 
its people. He met here De Mofras, sent out 
by the French Government to report upon the 


country. De Mofras gave undoubtedly the most 
thorough historj' of California, both political and 
physical, that had ever been condensed into one 
work. The same year Commander Wilkes, with 
a United States squadron, appeared upon the 
scene. His report is familiar to us all. H. M. 
ship Herald called here in the year 1846, but 
Monterey had already fallen into the hands of the 
Americans, and she sailed away disgusted. The 
voyage of the Herald was written by Seeman the 
botanist, and was published in two volumes. 
Under the sway of the great Republic and the 
discovery of gold which soon followed, a new era 
was opened to California, and the day of the so- 
called Pioneers began. 

it -. '» 


An Account of the Sufferin(;s of a Party of 

Argonauts who were compelled to abandon 

THEIR VESSEL " The Dolphin/' on the 

Peninsula of Lower California, 

and seek their way on foot 

TO San Dieoo. 

The statement on page 26 that a party bound to the gold 
regions had landed on the Peninsula of Lower California and 
made tlieir way to San Diego on foot was made on the authority 
of one of the number, who was sick in Sacramento, in the 
Winter of 1849. ^ ^^^'^ not seen him since, but the publica- 
tion of the statement resulted in my being put in possession 
of some interesting details from other sources, which I have 
thought worthy of preservation. The adventures of the Com- 
pany who sailed in the Sart Blazina, from Mazatlan, and landed 
at Cape St. Lucas, were published in llie Ovt-rland Monthly 
for September, 1875. 

The steamer Falcon sailed from N^w Orleans 
in December, 1848, for Chagres, with some of the 
earliest adventurers who left the United vStates for 
California, after the discovery^ of gold there. 
Arriving at Panama, and finding no prospect of 
speedy conveyance from that port, a number of 
them purchased an old schooner, called the Dol- 


////;/, of about one hundred tons burthen, and put 
her up for passage to California. J. S. K. Ogier, 
afterwards Judge of the United States Court for 
the Southern District of California, was appointed 
Captain, and she sailed with a company of about 
forty-five men. on the loth of January, 1849, of 
which the following are now living in San Fran- 
cisco : A.W.Von Schmidt, Charles Baum, Conrad 
Prag, Henry M. Lewis, E. Friedmann and J^. H. 
Jenkins. A short stay was made at the island of 
Tobago, to complete their outfit for the voyage. 
The most serious difficulty was experienced in get- 
ting a supply of water casks for so long a voyage, 
and it was considered prudent to keep close in 
shore, to enable them to replenish their supply^ of 
water, if it should be found necessary. The second 
day out the wind fell off, and they were ten da^y^s 
making the port of Puenta Arenas. Fearing the 
great peril of falling short of supplies of both pro- 
visions and water in seas so subject to calms, they 
set themselves seriously at work to fit out more 
liberally for the voyage that promised to prove 
longer than they had anticipated. A large square 
tank was constructed below deck with a capacity 
sufficient to contain an abundant supply of water, 
and they laid in a suj:)ply of such provisions as the 
place afforded, mostly of a perishable nature, such 
as dried beef, yams, pumpkins and fruit, and after 
a delay of a month they resumed their voyage. 
The vessel proved too leaky, her rigging old and 
rotten, and their progress was tedious. For two 
weeks they lay becalmed in sight of the twin vol- 


canic peaks of Guatemala. Each day the land 
breeze carried them forward, but, the breeze fail- 
ing at night, the current from the north set them 
back as much as they had gained during the day. 
Their provision again began to fail them, owing to 
its perishable nature, and it was discovered that 
the tank on which they had placed their chief de- 
pendence for water leaked, and they were again 
under the necessity of putting all hands under an 
allowance of food and water. Near the southern 
boundary of the Gulf of Tehuantepec they caught 
a strong breeze off shore that sent them well on 
their way, but it increased the leak and compelled 
them to greater labor at the pump. After the gale 
they stood in closer to the land in order to find 
some place where they could renew their supply of 
water, but the shore was everywhere guarded by the 
surf dashing high upon the rocks, or rolling in 
thunder upon the long reaches of sandy beach. At 
length they reached Manzanillo, where they found 
water, and obtained from the British ship of war, 
Calypso^ a couple of barrels of provisions, and 
continued their voyage to Mazatlan, which they 
reached in eighty-four days from Panama. There 
they sold the vessel, and the greater number of 
them took passage in the bark Matilda, for San 
Francisco, where they arrived on the sixth day of 

At Mazatlan large numbers of men were arriv- 
ing from the overland journey through Mexico, and 
every means of transportation had been engaged 
for passage up the coast. 


The party who purchased the Dolphin imme- 
diately put her up for passeng^ers. They found 
but six water barrels on board, and no others to be 
had, and as the tank had proved unserviceable, they 
procured two large canoes and secured them, one 
on each side, on deck, filled them with water, and 
covered them over with boards. The space below 
deck was fitted up witTi berths, and such provisions 
as the market afforded, as jerked beef, beans, rice, 
pumpkins, etc., were procured. The city had been 
stripped of all proper ships' stores by vessels that 
had preceded them. One of the company was a 
man named Rossiter, who had successfully navi- 
gated a schooner on the Hudson river, and upon 
him was devolved the responsible duty of steering 
the Dolphin to California; but when the time ar- 
rived to conjply with the terms of the sale, it was 
found that the required amount of money could 
not be collected. In this emergency, one Captain 
Winslow, proposed to take her off their hands, and 
they were to pay their passage money to him- 
Sixty-eight persons, including officers and crew, 
were stowed away in this small vessel, among 
them the following well-known citizens of Cali- 
fornia: James McClatchy, of the Sacramento Bee, 
Lewis H. Bonistell, of Hodge & Co.. Alonzo 
(jreen, late Cireen & Markley; Gideon Reynolds, 
of the firm of Kelty & Reynolds, Santa Clara; 
Charles Brown, Santa Cruz; John McAUis, of 
Smartsville; J. W. Griffith, with Niles & Co., and 
J. B. Whitcomb, San Francisco; Samuel P. Crane, 
Sacramento; and others whose names will appear 


in the narrative, but of whose fate I am not further 

The history of the cruise has been furnished to 
me in two manuscripts, written by John W. Griffith, 
of San Francisco, and Samuel P. Crane, of Sacra- 
mento. The former was a journal written at the 
time, and the latter from memory. They sailed 
out of Mazatlan on the 15th of April; and, in 
order to avoid the error of his predecessor in 
getting becalmed under the land, the Captain stood 
off to the westward, with the intention of making 
his longitude, and then standing in for his destina- 
tion on one tack. For twenty-five days they sailed 
on their course, and had gone about one thousand 
miles, w^hen, having but two barrels of water left 
in the hold, it was thought best to broach that in 
the canoes on deck, w^hen, to their consternation, 
it was found to be so impregnated with the bitter 
and nauseating properties of the w^ood, that it was 
wholly unfit for use, even for cooking purposes. 
All hands were immediately put on a daily allow- 
ance of a pint to each man, and the vessel was 
headed for San Diego; but it became soon more 
than doubtful whether they could reach land at all, 
unless they took the wind free. The Captain 
insisted upon making the attempt to go to San 
Uiego; the passengers remonstrated, and finally 
broke out into mutiny, deposed the Captain, and 
put the mate, Mr. Rossiter, in command, and 
the course was laid to the nearest land on the 
peninsula of Lower California. A guard was 
placed over the water, and the strictest economy 


was enforced. Fresh provisions were quite gone, 
and the chief part of the supply consisted of rice 
and beans, which they were compelled to cook in 
sea water. With a fresh breeze, there was little 
doubt that their supply of water would last until 
they could reach land; but should it fall off to a 
long-continued calm, they anticipated great suffer- 
ing. After about ten days of these sufferings, and 
apprehensions of still greater ones, they sighted 
an island and ran to it. A boat was sent on shore, 
and after four hours of unsuccessful search, it 
returned; no sign of fresh water could be found. 
The next day they made the main land, and the 
search for water was renewed. For seven days 
they coasted along, landing at every available spot 
to renew the search, but nowhere was a drop of 
fresh water to bci found. Their situation was now^ 
very critical. They estimated their distance from 
San Diego to be about three hundred miles south. 
They had lost seventy miles lee-way in the last 
three days. Everywhere the coast presented the 
same forbidding, inhospitable appearance; barren, 
rocky cliffs, where, if rain ever fell, it was evapo- 
rated at once by the heated rocks. A grave con- 
sultation was held on deck. What dreadful alter- 
natives presented themselves.'* To the south there 
was not a drop of fresh water until they should 
pass Cape St. Lucas, and that was too far off to 
afford a hope of reaching it, and if they could, 
what could thev do in their destitute state.'* The 
poor succ(^ss of the schooner in beating up to the 
north, her leaky condition, that made it necessary 


for all hands to take their turn at the pump that 
never rested, and her sails and rigging becom- 
ing every day more dilapidated and unservice- 
able, gave small hope that they could look farther 
north for succor; certainly not with the large number 
of persons on board. A vote was taken, and forty- 
eight resolved to take their chances on shore, with 
such necessities as they could carry on their backs. 
This included nearly all the able-bodied passen- 
gers. Some of them were too much exhausted 
from long-continued sea-sickness and starvation to 
endure the hardship that would be necessarily 
encountered. There were still left four days' rations 
of water to those remaining on board, allowing a 
pint a day to each person. A landing was effected 
on the 28th of May, under the protection of a point 
of rocks. The first boat contained Crane, John R. 
Clark, James H. Clark, and Robert J. Melville. 
They landed in safety, and set out in different 
directions for water. Nearly all were landed before 
dark, and each boat-load, as it landed, was swamped 
in the surf; but a fire was built on the shore, and 
all were rendered comfortable. Those who landed 
first had explored the country about five miles in 
every direction, but they reported no signs of 
water. There was no time to be lost. They each 
had a bottle of the bitter water from the schooner, 
and that was their only resource until they should 
find more. They set out the same evening, and 
traveled about three miles, and unable to proceed 
further, from the darkness, they laid dow^n upon 
the top of a hill. Here the atmosphere was 


warmer, and undisturbed by the motion of the 
vessel, they all slept soundly. The next morning, 
after the best breakfast they could prepare, they 
renewed their journey, in hope of crossing a trail 
that their chart told them led up the peninsula not 
far off. They were all enervated by the life on 
board ship, and by their scanty allowance of food 
for so long a time, and their halts were frequent 
and progress slow over the sharp, loose rocks. 
There was no soil on the surface, and the rocks 
had the appearance of having been burned, and 
either red or black. Amongst them grew various 
species of cactiy the only vegetation. About mid- 
day the heat became oppressive, and in their 
distress they began to throw away everything that 
encumbered them. After crossing a high hill, they 
entered a deep ravine, at the bottom of which they 
had strong hopes of finding water. Three of the 
[)arty, who had started without water, preferring^ to 
take the risk of not finding it on shore rather than 
to take the nauseous fiuid from the schooner, gave 
out -two brothers named Smith, and one Goss. a 
lawyer — and were left behind. At the bottom of 
the canon they fixed their camp, in the shadow of 
a rock— for the heat was very great — and scattered 
about in search of water, their great necessity, but 
none could be found, and they continued down the 
ravine, which seemed to have been the bed of a 
torrent in the rainv season. 

About four o'clock in the afternoon they came 
to a small canon where the rocks were damp, and 
they dug in various places but found no moisture. 


They licked the moist rocks in their distress, and, 
with their lips and mustaches covered with mud, 
gave it up to renew the search. A bull dog, owned 
by one of the party named Houghton, commenced 
pawing the ground about fifty yards off, and by his 
persistence attracted the attention of the men, and 
with a small spade which had been brought along, 
they commenced to dig, and after sinking about 
four feet they found an abundant supply of good 
water. The stragglers were all called in, and there 
was general rejoicing. They were fearful of drink- 
ing too much, but, having satisfied their thirst, they 
all fell to cooking their rice and whatever food they 
had saved, in their drinking cups. Their next 
thought was of those who had given out on the way. 
Crane and three others set out, with canteens filled, 
to their relief. They were found where they had 
halted; two were unable to speak from the swollen 
condition of their tongues. Their joy was very 
great at the unlooked-for relief. They were al- 
lowed to drink but sparingly at first, but after a whik 
they were able to drink moderate draughts, and 
were assisted on to the camp, at the well. Crane s 
account relates that the most of the party remained 
here all the next day, cooking and eating till they 
had nothing left. Twelve of them, including Grif- 
fith, started on and camped in a ravine, without 
water, where they waited for the remainder to join 
them, and then continued their course up the ravine. 
'*The whole country," 1 quote from Griffiths 
journal, *' has the appearance of having been black- 
ened by volcanic fires. On the sides of the ravine 


we now met with a few green shrubs. In our 
course we came to a very high mountain, which it 
seemed necessary that we must cross, but as we 
came nearer, we found a deep ravine interposed, 
and into this we must go ; it seemed an almost 
hopeless undertaking, as we had to get down by 
holding on to whatever we could, and jumping 
from rock to rock. When part of the way down we 
saw a stream of water. In their eagerness to 
reach it many threw away their baggage to lighten 
their loads — blankets, shirts, and every disposable 
thing; some were so imprudent as to dump on the 
ground rice, which others, more provident or more 
destitute, picked up ; every ounce was a pound to 
us, having been on an allowance of food, with 
little or no exercise on shipboard, and the heat 
made everything a burthen to us. Our route 
could be traced by the articles we had thrown 
away. How great was our disappointment on 
reaching the bottom of the canon to find the 
water brackish and unfit to drink. Here another 
consultation was held and another unburdening 
took place, as we found climbing over high hills 
and down into deep ravines, with nothing to en- 
cumber us, no easy thing. Some, more avaricious 
than others, picked up what had been thrown away, 
but after carrying them awhile were glad to drop 
them. In leaving articles to lighten my load, I 
hesitated before throwing away two things ; one 
was a bible given to me by my wife previous to 
leaving home, the other was her daguerreotype ; 
after a little while I laid the bible on the ground ; 


a man, named Gray, picked it up and carried it 
several days, and was about to leave it on the 
ground, when I took it again. Our course con- 
tinued up the ravine for some miles, and at noon 
we rented under the shade of some bushes. Some 
one, thiriking it was not hot enough, set them on 
fire, and being very dry, they burned furiously and 
drove us out. Some few of us started on ahead, 
and late in the afternoon found tracks of mules in 
the sand, at first a few^ and further on they increas- 
ed in number. Our hopes were raised, as they were 
taken as signs of some habitation near. Some 
were of the opinion that they were the tracks of 
wild animals, but the prints of horseshoes deter- 
mined that question. Many amusing scenes oc- 
curred in this ravine, as all were in good spirits at 
the near approach to a settlement. Our advance 
party camped, at sundown, on a bluff at a bend in 
the ravine, where w^e found good water. We cooked 
our supper and laid down, concluding that the rest of 
the party would not come up that night, but they 
made their appearance about nine o'clock, when a 
grand counsel was called. Many were the specu- 
lations indulged in. Some were of the opinion 
that we were near some Indian village, others that 
the prints of horseshoes were purely imaginary, 
and that the animals were wild. Those who had 
carefully observed the sides of the ravine saw no 
possible way in which an animal could get into it 
except at this point. Many of us had looked for 
the entrance of the trail, but we could not find it. 
It proved afterwards to have been hidden by the 


On the following morning a party of recon- 
noisance was started out, with the understanding 
that the remainder of the party should not move 
until their return: but, owing to some misunder- 
standing, they pushed on up the ravine. When 
the reconnoitering party returned, they found us 
all gone, and hurried after to stop us. They had 
found a trail leading northwest, and we retraced 
our steps to follow it. It proved to be the one we 
were in search of. The day's march had been 
over much marshy ground, and our feet were wet 
the most of the time. We had lost one day's hard 
work, and camped at night within a stone's throw 
of the last camp ground. Some rattlesnakes were 
killed and eaten. In the morning we were up 
early, and followed the trail out of the ravine. 
After going two or three miles we came to a 
stream of pure water, from which we drank freely. 
My task was a hard one, for my joints were 
attacked with rheumatism from the effects of wet 
feet. W ith a long staff I managed to follow on; 
but I could not keep up with the party, and was 
comj)clled to camp alone for several nights. I 
did not fear wild beasts, for I thought the country 
could not sustain them. 

The provisions of many were now quite gone. 
One of a part)' of four managed to shoot a small 
bird, of which they made soup. This was all they 
had for twentv-four hours. We were now on a 
trail leading, in all probability, to some settlement. 
With what anxiety everything was noted that 
could inform us where we were! We would now 


and then discover horse chips — some old and 
bleached, others quite fresh; we thought we could 
discover occasionally the print of a sandal. Some 
of the croakers were constantly complaining of our 
situation; but there was no use in crying; there 
was nothing but death behind us, no hope where 
we were, and nothing was left us but to move on; 
some would have lain down to die, but for the 
encouragement of the more hopeful. At one time 
I was so lame that I had fallen behind all the 
others, as I thought; it was very hot, and I laid 
myself down under the shade of a large cactus tree 
to cook my last rice. I had not laid long when 
James H. Clark came along, and asked me if I 
was not going on to join the main party. I told him 
no, but advised him to do so; but he preferred to 
stay with me. I was anxious to have him go on, 
so that I might enjoy my rice alone, for I could 
not cook and eat it in his presence without sharing 
it with him; but finding that he would not go, I 
said to him, *Jim, I Ve got some rice.* * Have 
you ? ' said he ; and you never saw a poor fellow s 
face light up as his did. After cooking and eating 
the rice, we hurried on in hopes of overtaking the 
main party, and again rested awhile; then I 
started on alone. 1 was now out of water, having 
upset my flask; but I substituted the Turks-head 
Cactus, which I could cut open with a hatchet I 
carried. The inside was of a pulpy consistence, 
and contained water not unlike that of a water- 
melon. The only food now to be had was the 
fruit of the prickly pear. The great drawback to 


them is that they are full of fine thorns, but inside 
they are filled with a mucilaginous substance quite 
nutritious. My mouth and hands were full of 
these thorns. Some would not eat them for fear 
of their being poisonous, and others because of the 
thorns. Neiar sundown some one discovered a 
horse near the trail. We could not catch him, so 
we drove him down into a ravine where there was 
w^ater, and shot him. Crane states that the horse 
was in miserable condition, ver}' poor, and the 
entire portion of his back covered by the saddle 
being a mass of corruption, he had been turned 
out from some train to die. Having skinned him, 
we commenced cutting from the fore-quarter, some 
one saying that was the rule in regard to horse 
flesh. After eating sufficient to satisfy our wants, 
we cured the rest by roasting on the coals. Find- 
ing the old horse saved the dog. for the only 
reason we had not eaten him before was the great 
attachment the owner had for him, he having, 
during the period of short rations, divided his 
water with him. *'It was now Sa^^irday night," 
says (Griffith's journal, "and it was spent in curing 
our meat, whiclv was to be our reliance in the 
future; but some were so voracious that on Sun- 
dav morniner thev had eaten all their meat. I was 
lucky in having a little bag of pepper and salt with 
which to season mine. I gave away some of my 
meat with salt on it, and soon had demand for all 
my pepper and salt. The result of this surfeit of 
horse flesh was that some were taken sick. One 
man, named Melville, who had butchered the meat, 


was SO ill that we were compelled to leave him 
behind, with two or three others. We provided 
for them as well as we could under the circum- 
stances. A little rice was mustered for them, and 
they were furnished with arms and some ammuni- 
tion, so that in case they saw anything to shoot, 
they w^ould be prepared, and with the understand- 
ing that relief would be sent to them as soon as 

It was now necessar)' that the strongest and 
best walkers should push ahead. I had now my 
haversack full of horse meat to carry. This day, 
Sunday, June 3d, several snakes were killed and 
made into soup; one had ten rattles. Started on 
ahead, and kept so for about ten miles, when I 
stopped to rest, the main party passing by. Some 
of the stragglers urged me on, but I was too tired, 
and camped alone until Mr. Austin came up and 
stopped with me. We made some tea. 

Monday, 4II1. — Arose before daybreak and 
pushed on, eating my fill of prickly pears as we 
walked. After crossing a high mountain, came to 
a ravine, in hopes of finding water; found some 
of the party resting. A note was found directing 
them down the ravine about one and a half miles 
to water. Here, in this ravine, we found nuts and 
wild plums. As we go north the country looks 
better. Fhis was my worst day's travel, as I was 
quite lame, and hardly able to move along, but 
persevered. My horse flesh I could not eat. Sev- 
eral applied to me for some; at last I gave it all 
away, glad to get rid of it. My reliance is the 


42 A DREAM. 

prickly pear. We have to carr}' our water, not 
knowing when we will come to it again. 

Crossed quite a plain, and about sunset camped 
in a ravine alone, the party being all in advance. 
I laid down and soon fell asleep. I dreamed that 
I heard guns and the ringing of bells, and awoke 
chilled through. The moon was shining beauti- 
fully. I started up and followed the trail by the 
light of the moon, and increased my pace to over- 
come the benumbing effects of the cold. In a 
short time I thought I saw the ruins of an old 
building, but it was an illusion; it proved to be a 
projecting point of rocks. Passing it. I pressed 
on, in hopes of reaching the camp of the main 
party. At last came into a valley or a plain 
spread out, and thought I could see a light in the 
distance, but made up my mind not to be deceived 
again, and hurried on. The lights grew plainer; 
then the ruins of an old church came in view. 
The roof was fallen in. I feared my senses were 
deceiving me. Then the lights appeared to move; 
that could not be an illusion. At last saw the 
form of a man moving, and his shadow on the 
ground; as I approached him he shouted, 'Hallo, 
Cirif. is that you?' I had found the party in 
camp and what a camp! I was piloted across a 
strc^am and taken into an old adobe. There lav 
my companions, stretched out upon the dirty floor, 
wrapped in their blankets, in two rows, with 
a passage-way between. Some were snoring 
soundly, others awake. Hovering over a fireplace 
in the room were three or four, boilinor or roastine 


corn, which had been obtained of Mexicans who 
had preceded us on the trail, and whose abandoned 
horse we had eaten. They were from Moleje, on 
the Gulf, bound to FA Rosario. They at first 
refused to part with their corn, as they had only a 
peck, and that was to last seven men and one 
woman ; but when they heard their story of starva- 
tion, they gave one-half of their corn. It was the 
determination of some to take it by force, if it was 
refused. Each man had dealt out to him his 
allotted share; but not being there at the time, my 
share was not considered. But I lost nothing, for 
when I came in quite a number gave me a contri- 
bution, so that in fact I had a better share than 
the others. The guns and ringing bells, of which 
I thought I dreamed, were realities. The old bell 
at the Mission was set ringing, and guns were 
fired by the boys, to bring in the stragglers, and 
to express their joy. 

This was the Valley and Mission of San Fer- 
nando. It is capable of being made a beautiful 
spot, has been highly cultivated, and is easy of 
irrigation. It is two miles long. At the Mission 
w^ere two bells, one on the ground and the other 
hung in the Mission tower; the dates upon them 
were 1761 and 1767. There seemed to be a room 
in the old ruins which was kept in some order, as 
I could see through the keyhole gilding, painting, 
and the altar. About a mile below the old ruin 
there was an Indian's hut; he had a small patch 
of wheat, not ripe, which we compelled him to 
pull and thrash and make into mush, which he 


was well paid for; this gave us half a pint each. 
The old fellow did not like to do it. We also 
obtained some little meal from him to help us on 
our journey to El Rosario, twelve leagues off. 

Started on our journey for El Rosario about 
two o'clock, and crossing a high mountain, came 
to what was apparently the crater of a volcano. 
We could look down and see vegetation while 
we were on the brink of a precipice. Arrived in 
camp alone about ten o'clock; beautful moonlight. 

Thursday, ynnc ^tli, — Continued our journey- 
about daylight — Rosario said to be six and a half 
leagues distant —the Mexican and party with us. 
Came to another high mountain, crossed it, and 
struck into a ravine which led us into another 
valley, which might be made very fertile by irri- 
gating. Continued on, very tired and sore-footed; 
at last came in sight of the long-looked-for place; 
hardly able to move along. We came to an 
Indian's hut; he had some mush, made out of 
something; that tasted much like the earth. We 
did not ask what it was made from, but devoured 
it, and we felt rested and refreshed. 

It seemed as though we would never get to 
Rosario- - it appeared so near, and yet was so far. 
At length, about 4 r. m., we arrived. Those who 
had preceded us prepared dinner, and it was ready 
waiting us, and it was the best dinner I ever ate; 
it was of beans and corn bread. It was the first 
meal eaten in twenty days. We killed a beef, had 
supper on it, and camped under fig and apple 
trees, close to the bank of the river. 

A FEAST. 345 

Wednesday, d///.— Breakfasted on meat and tor- 
tillas: spent the morning in drying what was left 
of the beef, and barbecued the ribs for dinner. 
The people are quite friendly, the women good- 
looking. Had some more of the good corn cake. 
Some of the party have started on for San Diego. 
Horses and provisions have been sent to the sick 
man and party. It seems as though the men 
would never get enough to eat. We are enjoying 
our rest finely, and our feet are getting well. 

TImrsday, yth. — Part of the company have 
crossed the river and camped. It is a beautiful 
valley. One could make a comfortable home here. 
The coast is about five miles distant. Some, who 
have money, are trying to buy horses, but they 
are held high, as those that have preceded us have 
bought all that could be spared. I tried to buy a 
peck of pinola of a woman, for which I offered 
her a dollar, which she refused, but wanted my 
shirt. As I had on two, I gave her one. 

Saturday, 9///. -Crossed the river, preparatory 
to a start. About six o'clock in the morning 
breakfasted on bread and milk; saw about one 
hundred head of sleek, fat cattle. Started on the 
trail about three o'clock; followed up a* ravine 
until we came to a table land; crossed it, and 
camped near the shore of the ocean, in a little 
ravine that protected us from the cold winds 
of the coast. It was*a little spot, not more than 
twenty feet square, and full of holes. McAllis, 
my companion, says: * You are not going to camp 
here, are you, Grif ? ' I said, * Yes ; why not ? * 


'Why, it's full of rattlesnakes!' * Nonsense/ 
I said; *we can lay our blankets down and keep 
them in their holes/ We proceeded to build a 
fire to cook our supper. McAllis was scraping 
some brush to feed the fire, when he disturbed a 
good sized rattlesnake; he jumped half-way across 
the ravine and shouted, * Hallo, Grif, I thought 
you said you would keep all those rattlesnakes in 
their holes/ Soon others of the party came up, 
and, finding no other ground for camping, joined 
us. The ocean beach was not far distant; how- 
ever, we slept soundly, notwithstanding the roar 
of the surf. 

We were told, on leaving Rosario, that w^e 
should not find water for some distance. We had 
used up all our water that night, and had none for 
breakfast. We soon came to the ocean shore, and 
followed it some distance. About nine o'clock 
came to a place where there had been water, but 
it was all dried up now ; here we rested, tired and 
hungry. After resting some time, I thought I 
would take a look around. I saw, at the distance 
of twenty or thirty miles, a range of mountains, 
from whence I knew there must be a stream of 
water, and it must naturally come to the ocean. 
I confidently predicted water in the direction, and 
was laughed at. Feeling hurt. I picked up my 
baggage, and asked Mac if he would accompany 
me, but he ])r(,*ferred stopping there. I had not 
gone more than two miles before I came to a 
beautiful stream of water. I thought to myself. 
Shall I make my breakfast, while the others are 


parched up for want of water, while here there is 
plenty ? I soon unburdened myself, and walked 
back, expecting to hear them shout at the news ; 

but no, I was answered, 'It's all a d d lie!* 

I turned about and left them. McAllis soon over- 
took me and told me what they said. We had 
about got through w4th our breakfast when the 
rest of the party came up. They looked very 
sheepish, and well they might ; it was no easy 
thing for me to walk four miles extra, after having 
traveled since daylight, tired hungry and footsore, 
merely to give them new-s that water was near, 
and then to be abused for it ! 

We started on in the afternoon, and followed 
the beach, but had not proceeded far before we 
discovered two vessels lying in under the shore, a 
good distance off; saw a dead whale on the 
beach ; about sunset came to a house, and the 
two vessels proved to be the Paradiso — of Genoa — 
and our schooner the Dolphin, Nearly all hands 
were ashore. Mr. Graves determined to go in 
her on account of sore feet. Captain Rossiter 
advised me not to go, as she leaked badly. 

Monday, nth, — Nearly the w^hole party have 
gone on by land; distance to San Francisco, six 
hundred and fifty miles. They are unable to get 
horses, and are on foot. McAllis has gone on 
board the schooner to get his baggage, believing 
she will never get to San Francisco. The Para- 
diso sailed this morning, with some ef the passen- 
gers from the schooner. We sent on board of her 
for some provisions, but the boat was swamped 
and all were lost." 

348 Melville's sufferings. 

Melville had been left sick on the trail, in com- 
pany with Crane and John R. Clark. They were 
without medicines of any kind, and his sufferings 
were very great. During the paroxysms of his 
pain they laid him upon the ground, but the des- 
peration of the situation compelled them to bear 
him along in the intervals. In this way they pro- 
ceeded about four miles, when Crane went back to 
the horse camp for a supply of water, and to get 
a blanket that he remembered seeing there, thrown 
away, and which they now nc^^ded. That night 
they camped on the the trail, and the following 
day proceeded as before. 

They were strong in the hope of aid from the 
advance party by this time, and their fears were 
growing that they had lost the trail for it was 
very obscure, from the light travel on it. It was 
agreed that Clark should start ahead and hold the 
trail by every possible means. " Being left alone 
with the sick man," Crane says, *' and the canteen 
nearly empty, we camped, having made about four 
miles. I arranged the blanket for a shade, and 
went back again to the horse camp. My desire to 
eat was very great, for having lived so long on 
short rations, it appeared that when I commenced 
eating I could not satisfy myself: and as my stock 
of cured meat was exhausted, I trimmed off more 
from the bones of the old horse, and cut a little 
nearer parts which had been refused before; but it 
looked so bad, having been exposed for two days, 
that I preferred some jMeces. crisped or partly 
burned, which I picked up in the vicinity of the 


various fires, and that had been thrown aside by 
the boys when they were curinjj. By this means 
I obtained some three or four pounds, and returned 
to camp. About nine or ten o'clock we were sur- 
prised at seeinjj^ a man coming along the trail 
towards us. We started to our feet, and he halted, 
when he took his rifle by the muzzle, trailed it 
along the ground, and approached, saying he was 
'' Christ 11X710^ He was an old Mission Indian, of 
pleasant and generous features, and told us in 
Spanish, so that we could understand him a little, 
that he lived at the deserted Mission of San Fer- 
nando; that he had met Clark, and that the main 
party had passed on to El Rosario, a small settle- 
ment about forty miles distant from his place. He 
took from a girdle which was tied about him some 
pinola, a kind of flour made of wheat, parched, 
and ground on stones, and we soon mixed some 
for Melville, who could eat but little. The old 
man asked me if I was hungry, and, upon my 
showing him my meat, he gave a look of disgust, 
and told me to bring wood, whilst he cut the 
stalks from a species of Cactus very much resem- 
bling cornstalks, at the same time digging from 
the LTi'ound with his knife the bulbous root of 
another species. After I had collected a pile of 
dried Cactus, the old man cut the stalks into pieces 
about two feet in length, and, throwing them on 
th(^ pile, set fire to it. In about thirty minutes the 
heat had burned the outside off, and the inner part 
was about the consistence of a banana, and I 
thought it the best food I had ever tasted. He 


then dug a small hole in the ground, into which 
he placed the roots, and built a fire over them. 
In about two hours they were sufficiently cooked, 
and they resembled the sweet potato in taste. 
The effect of eating it was like that of drinking 
wine after dinner. I need not say that after this 
I ate no more horse meat. Soon after our bene- 
factor scooped out a trench in the ground, and, 
lying down in it, drew the sand over his limbs and 
prepared to go to sleep. I gave him one of the 
blankets; my generosity seemed to confound him, 
for I had already given him a couple of boxes of 
caps for his rifle. At daybreak the old Indian left 
us, to go some miles distant, with the promise to 
return during the day and assist us to his place, if 
we were not able to get there before. 

During the day Clark returned with some food. 
He reported that the advance party had been 
unable to procure any animals, but they had 
sent the Indian to their assistance, and hoped to 
extend better aid from El Rosario. They resumed 
their journey, and later in the day met a native 
leading a horse. Upon this Melville was securely 
tied, and they reached a rancherio about midnight. 
Here the Indian women practiced their medical 
art upon the invalid, unsuccessfully. Early the 
next day they resumed their journey towards El 
Rosario. At this place, a small collection of adobe 
houses, they joined the main party. The medical 
skill of this place affording no aid to the sufferer, 
they continued their journey to the sea-coast, 
where, as has been already stated, the Dolphin 


lay at anchor, and Melville was placed on board 
of her, wh(.*re he rect^ved such attentions that he 
was partially restored to health. 

The party continued their journey up the coast, 
sometimes following the line of the sea-shore and 
sometimes over spurs of the mountains, meeting 
evervwhere with kindness from the natives, and 
obtaininjj^ from them such supplies of food as their 
necessities recjuired. Animals were found for 
those who were unable to travel on foot from 
the effects of cactus thorns and sharp rocks on 
feet inadecjuately protected, and they continued 
their journey until the twenty-fourth of June, when 
they arrived at San Diego. Hungry, ragged, and 
destitute, they saw above the military station at 
that place the Stars-and-Stripes flying, which they 
'greeted with a hearty good will.* 

The Dolphin renewed her endeavor to reach 
San Francisco, and succeeded in working as far 
north as to be within sixty miles of Monterey, 
where they landed for supplies of wood and water. 
Some cattle were found here and one was killed 
and taken on board. 

Adverse winds are more violent north of point 
Conception, and the schooner was driven back so 
far that the mttn who remained with her abondoned 
all hope of ever reaching San 1' rancisco, and bore 
away for San Diego, where they arrived with the 
vessel in a sinkini^ condition. Melville died the 
day before her arrival, and was buried there. He 
is represc!nted by his companions as having been 
a young man, intelligent, kind, a good companion 



and a true friend. His heroic fortitude, under in- 
tense and long-continued suffering, endeared him 
to all. 

The wreck was condemned and sold, the pro- 
ceeds being divided amongst the passengers and 
crew, who made the best of their way to San 

I have presented this account without any 
attempt at adornment, believing that its unaffected 
simplicity is a stronger testimonial of its truthful- 
ness than the elegant clothing with which even an 
Irving could have invested it. 




■ 1 



not; »iEna(NED Td the library on 

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