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Full text of "Two years before the mast : a personal narrative"






TWO -YEARS 



BE FORE -THE -MAST 













H'DANA'JR; 



9/0 



NY PUBLIC LIBRARY THE BRANCH LIBRAR ES 



3 3333 08125 0264 




,J9 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 



ILLUSTRATED COPYRIGHT EDITION 




DISLODGING THE HIDES (page 252) 



TWO YEARS 
BEFORE THE MAST 



A PERSONAL NARRATIVE 
BY RICHARD HENRY DANA, JR. 

WITH A SUPPLEMENT BY THE AUTHOR AND 

INTRODUCTION AND ADDITIONAL 

CHAPTER BY HIS SON 

" Housed on the wild sea, with wild usages " 

WITH ILLUSTRATIONS BY 
E. BOYD SMITH 






m&m&%. 




BOSTON AND NEW YORK 
HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY 

(Che llitiwsiDE press CambriDge 



COPYRIGHT, igil, BY RICHARD H. DANA 
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED 



CITY OF NEW YORK 



J 1 78784 

CONTENTS 

INTRODUCTION ........... ix 

Two YEARS BEFORE THE MAST ...... i 

TWENTY-FOUR YEARS AFTER ....... 462 

SEVENTY-SIX YEARS AFTER . . . . . . . 503 

By the Author's Son 

APPENDIX 

Extracts from Unofficial Log of Andrew B. Amazeenon 
Board the Alert on the Home Passage from San Diego, 
California, to Boston, Massachusetts ..... 527 

Crew Lists and Registers of Vessels ..... 530 
INDEX ............. 535 




ILLUSTRATIONS 

From drawings by E. Boyd Smith. 

DISLODGING THE HIDES (colored) (page 252) Frontispiece 

THE SHIP ALERT (vignette) Title-page 

HARVARD COLLEGE IN 1836 ix 

After a drawing by Eliza S. Quincy, in the "History of Harvard 
University" by Josiah Quincy. 

RICHARD HENRY DANA, JR. xii 

From a daguerreotype in 1842. 

THE BRIG PILGRIM SETTING SAIL i 

LECTURING THE CREW 4 

THE CAPTAIN ... 12 

SIGHTING A VESSEL 20 

WHALES AND GRAMPUSES 30 

FALLING OVERBOARD 42 

FACSIMILE FROM SHORT DIARY WRITTEN AT SEA . . 42 

From this, after the long diary was lost, the copy for the book 
was prepared. 

FACSIMILE OF THE UNOFFICIAL LOG OF THE ALERT . 42 
Kept by the Mate Amazeen. 

FACSIMILE OF MS. USED FOR THE BOOK .... 43 

MAN OVERBOARD! (colored) 44 

LANDING AT JUAN FERNANDEZ 49 

TARRING 58 

LANDING IN THE COMBERS .66 

IN A SOUTHEASTER . 76 

IN A SQUALL 82 



vi ILLUSTRATIONS 

MEXICAN OFFICERS OF THE CUSTOMS 89 

TRADING 93 

LANDING GOODS "CALIFORNIA FASHION" .... 106 

HIDE DROGHING (colored) 108 

FLOGGING . . . 121 

A HOLIDAY 139 

LANDING "OLD BESS" 149 

BACK WATER FOR YOUR LIVES 1 159 

HIDE-CURING 177 

KANAKAS FIGHTING "JOHNNY SHARK" .... 197 

BURNING THE WATER (colored] 206 

AN INDIAN FIGHT 209 

SWIMMING AFTER THE VESSEL 217 

HOLYSTONING THE DECK 225 

LOADING THE HIDES . . 249 

A DRY GALE 259 

WASHING DAY 281 

A SET-TO 292 

SITTING AROUND THE FORECASTLE 307 

READING "WOODSTOCK" 3 2 S 

FURLING THE FORE ROYAL (colored] 35 

WASHING OFF CALIFORNIA GRIME . . . . '. -353 

SHIPPING A HEAVY SEA 369 

FURLING THE TOPGALLANT-SAILS IN A BLIZZARD (colored) 378 

AMONG THE ICEBERGS (colored) ' . 384 

ICE ON THE LEE Bow 

"You BROWN" . 



ILLUSTRATIONS vii 

How QUIETLY THEY DO THEIR WORK (colored) . . . 422 

A NARROW ESCAPE 427 

PAINTING HER 437 

HOME AGAIN 450 

SAN FRANCISCO IN 1854, FROM THE HEAD OF SACRAMENTO 
STREET ... 462 

From a photograph by Sarony & Co. in "The Annals of San 
Francisco," by Frank Soule. 

4 BERKELEY STREET, CAMBRIDGE 503 

The Home of R. H. Dana, Jr., from 1852 to 1869. 

VESSELS: THEIR SPARS, RIGGING, AND SAILS, WITH NOTES 

AND KEYS 526 

Drawn for the ''Seaman's Friend " (1841) under the direction 
of the author, R. H. Dana, Jr. 

COURSE OF THE BRIG PILGRIM FROM BOSTON TO CALI- 
FORNIA, AND OF THE SHIP ALERT FROM CALIFORNIA TO 

BOSTON Front end papers 

CALIFORNIA COAST AND PORTS VISITED . Back end papers 

SHIP ALERT (colored") Cover 

From a painting by Sidney M. Chase, in the possession of the 
author's son, R. H. Dana. 




I 



INTRODUCTION 

N 1869, my father, the late Richard Henry Dana, 
Jr., prepared a new edition of his " Two Years 
Before the Mast " with this preface : 



" After twenty-eight years, the copyright of this book has re- 
verted to me. In presenting the first ' author's edition ' to the 
public, I have been encouraged to add an account of a visit to 
the old scenes, made twenty-four years after, together with no- 
tices of the subsequent story and fate of the vessels, and of some 
of the persons with whom the reader is made acquainted." 

The popularity of this book has been so great and 
continued that it is now proposed to make an illustrated 
edition with new material. I have prepared a concluding 
chapter to continue my father's " Twenty-four Years 
After." This will give all that we have since learned of 
the fate of crew and vessels, arid a brief account of Mr. 
Dana himself and his important lifework, which appears 
more fully in his published biography l and printed 

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



x INTRODUCTION 

speeches and letters. 1 This concluding chapter will take 
the place of the biographic sketch prefixed to the last au- 
thorized edition. There is also added an appendix with 
a list of the crews of the two vessels in which Mr. Dana 
sailed, extracts from a log, and also plates of spars, 
rigging and sails, with names, to aid the reader. 

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

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



INTRODUCTION xi 

con of the Alert also during his lifetime frequently con- 
firmed all that came under his observation. Such truth in 
the author demands truth in illustration, and I have co- 
operated with the publishers in securing- contempora- 
neous pictures of the places described, paintings of the 
Pilgrim and Alert, and other illustrations in pen and 
ink faithful to the text in every detail. 

Accuracy, however, is not the secret of the success of 
this book. Its flowing style, the use of short Anglo-Saxon 
words, 1 its picturesqueness, the power of description, the 
philosophic arrangement all contribute to it, but chiefly, I 
believe, the enthusiasm of the young Dana, his sympathy 
for his fellows and interest in new scenes and strange 
peoples, and with it all, the real poetry that runs through 
the whole. As to its poetry, I will quote from Mrs. Ban- 
croft's " Letters from England," giving the opinion of 
the poet Samuel Rogers : 

"LONDON, June 20, 1847. 

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

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



xii INTRODUCTION 

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

While at sea he made entries almost daily in a 
pocket notebook and at leisure hours wrote these out 
fully. This full account of his voyage was lost with his 
trunk containing sailors' clothes and all souvenirs and 
presents for family and friends by the carelessness of a 
relative who took charge of his things at the wharf when 
he landed in Boston in 1836. Later, while in the Law 
School, Mr. Dana re-wrote this account from the note- 
book, which, fortunately, he had not entrusted to the lost 
trunk. This account he read to his father and Washing- 
ton Allston, artist and poet, his uncle by marriage. Both 
advised its publication and the manuscript was sent to 
William Cullen Bryant, who had then moved to New York. 
Mr. Bryant, after looking it over, took it to a prominent 
publisher of his city, as the publishers at that time most 
able to give the book a large sale. They offered to buy the 
book outright but refused the author any share in the 
profits. The firm had submitted the manuscript to Alonzo 
Potter, afterwards Bishop of Pennsylvania, then acting as 
one of their readers. Bishop Potter, meeting Dana in 
England years later, told him most emphatically that he 
had advised the purchase at any price necessary to secure 




RICHARD H. DANA, JR., IN 



INTRODUCTION xiii 

it. The most, however, that the elder Dana and Bryant 
were able to get from the publishers was $250, so that 
modest sum with two dozen printed copies was all the 
author received at that time for this most successful book. 
Incidentally, however, the publication brought Mr. Dana 
law practice, especially among sailors, and was an intro- 
duction to him not only in this country but in England. 
Editions were published in Great Britain and France. 
Moxon, the London publisher, sent Mr. Dana not only 
presentation copies but as a voluntary honorarium, there 
being no international copyright law at that time, a sum 
of money larger than the publisher gave him for the man- 
uscript. He also received kindly words of appreciation 
from Rogers, Brougham, Moore, Bulwer, Dickens and 
others, and fifteen years later his reputation secured him 
a large social and literary reception in England in 1856. 
At last, in 1868, the original copyright expired and my 
father brought out the " author's edition " thoroughly 
revised and with many important additions to the text 
including the " Twenty-four Years After " under a fair 
arrangement for percentage of sales with Fields, Osgood 
and Co., the predecessors of the present publishers. 

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

RICHARD HENRY DANA. 




CHAPTER 
I 



T 



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

The change from the tight frock-coat, silk cap, and 
kid gloves of an undergraduate at Harvard, to the loose 
duck trousers, checked shirt, and tarpaulin hat of a sailor, 
though somewhat of a transformation, was soon made; 
and I supposed that I should pass very well for a Jack 
tar. But it is impossible to deceive the practised eye 
in these matters ; and while I thought myself to be look- 
ing as salt as Neptune himself, I was, no doubt, known 



[In the year 1834.] 



2 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

for a landsman by every one on board as soon as I 
hove in sight. A sailor has a peculiar cut to his clothes, 
and a way of wearing them which a green hand can 
never get. The trousers, tight round the hips, and thence 
hanging long and loose round the feet, a superabun- 
dance of checked shirt, a low-crowned, well-varnished 
black hat, worn on the back of the head, with half a 
fathom of black ribbon hanging over the left eye, and 
a slip-tie to the black silk neckerchief, with sundry other 
minutiae, are signs, the want of which betrays the be- 
ginner at once. Besides the points in my dress which were 
out of the way, doubtless my complexion and hands were 
quite enough to distinguish me from the regular salt 
who, with a sunburnt cheek, wide step, and rolling gait, 
swings his bronzed and toughened hands athwart-ships, 
half opened, as though just ready to grasp a rope. 

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

The next morning was Saturday, and, a breeze having 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 3 

sprung up from the southward, we took a pilot on board, 
hove up our anchor, and began beating down the bay. 
I took leave of those of my friends who came to see me 
off, and had barely opportunity for a last look at the 
city and well-known objects, as no time is allowed on 
board ship for sentiment. As we drew down into the 
lower harbor, we found the wind ahead in the bay, and 
were obliged to come to anchor in the roads. We re- 
mained there through the day and a part of the night. 
My watch began at eleven o'clock at night, and I re- 
ceived orders to call the captain if the wind came out 
from the westward. About midnight the wind became 
fair, and, having summoned the captain, I was ordered 
to call all hands. How I accomplished this, I do not 
know, but I am quite sure that I did not give the true 
hoarse boatswain call of " A-a-11 ha-a-a-nds ! up anchor, 
a-ho-oy ! " In a short time every one was in motion, 
the sails loosed, the yards braced, and we began to 
heave up the anchor, which was our last hold upon 
Yankee land. I could take but small part in these prep- 
arations. My little knowledge of a vessel was all at 
fault. Unintelligible orders were so rapidly given, and 
so immediately executed ; there was such a hurrying 
about, and such an intermingling of strange cries and 
stranger actions, that I was completely bewildered. There 
is not so helpless and pitiable an object in the world 
as a landsman beginning a sailor's life. At length those 
peculiar, long-drawn sounds which denote that the crew 
are heaving at the windlass began, and in a few minutes 
we were under way. The noise of the water thrown 
from the bows was heard, the vessel leaned over from 
the damp night-breeze, and rolled with the heavy ground- 
swell, and we had actually begun our long, long journey. 
This was literally bidding good night to my native land. 




II 



I 



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

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

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



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 5 

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

But all my dreams were soon put to flight by an or- 
der from the officer to trim the yards, as the wind was 
getting ahead; and I could plainly see by the looks the 
sailors occasionally cast to windward, and by the dark 
clouds that were fast coming up, that we had bad weather 
to prepare for, and I had heard the captain say that 
he expected to be in the Gulf Stream by twelve o'clock. 
In a few minutes eight bells were struck, the watch 
called, and we went below. I now began to feel the first 
discomforts of a sailor's life. The steerage, in which I 
lived, was filled with coils of rigging, spare sails, old 



6 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

junk, and ship stores, which had not been stowed away. 
Moreover, there had been no berths put up for us to 
sleep in, and we were not allowed to drive nails to hang 
our clothes upon. The sea, too, had risen, the vessel 
was rolling heavily, and everything was pitched about 
in grand confusion. There was a complete "hurrah's 
nest," as the sailors say, " everything on top and nothing 
at hand." A large hawser had been coiled away on my 
chest; my hats, boots, mattress, and blankets had all 
fetched away and gone over to leeward, and were jammed 
and broken under the boxes and coils of rigging. To 
crown all, we were allowed no light to find anything 
with, and I was just beginning to feel strong symp- 
toms of sea-sickness, and that listlessness and inactivity 
which accompany it. Giving up all attempts to collect 
my things together, I lay down on the sails, expecting 
every moment to hear the cry, " All hands ahoy ! " which 
the approaching storm would make necessary. I shortly 
heard the raindrops falling on deck thick and fast, and 
the watch evidently had their hands full of work, for 
I could hear the loud and repeated orders of the mate, 
trampling of feet, creaking of the blocks, and all the 
accompaniments of a coming storm. In a few minutes 
the slide of the hatch was thrown back, which let down 
the noise and tumult of the deck still louder, the cry 
of " All hands ahoy ! tumble up here and take in sail," 
saluted our ears, and the hatch was quickly shut again. 
When I got upon deck, a new scene and a new experi- 
ence was before me. 

The little brig was close-hauled upon the wind, and 
lying over, as it then seemed to me, nearly upon her 
beam ends. The heavy head sea was beating against 
her bows with the noise and force almost of a sledge- 
hammer, and flying over the deck, drenching us com- 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 7 

pletely through. The topsail halyards had been let go, 
and the great sails were filling out and backing against 
the masts with a noise like thunder; the wind was 
whistling through the rigging; loose ropes were fly- 
ing about ; loud and, to me, unintelligible orders con- 
stantly given, and rapidly executed; and the sailors 
" singing out " at the ropes in their hoarse and peculiar 
strains. 

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

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



8 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

and always being relieved immediately. It was an effectual 
emetic. 

This state of things continued for two days. 

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

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

From such reflections as these, I was aroused by the 
order from the officer, " Forward there ! rig the head- 
pump ! " I found that no time was allowed for day- 
dreaming, but that we must " turn to " at the first light. 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 9 

Having called up the " idlers," namely, carpenter, cook, 
and steward, and rigged the pump, we began washing 
down the decks. This operation, which is performed 
every morning at sea, takes nearly two hours ; and I 
had hardly strength enough to get through it. After 
we had finished, swabbed down decks, and coiled up 
the rigging, I sat on the spars, waiting for seven bells, 
which was the signal for breakfast. The officer, seeing 
my lazy posture, ordered me to slush the mainmast, 
from the royal-mast-head down. The vessel was then 
rolling a little, and I had taken no food for three days, 
so that I felt tempted to tell him that I had rather wait 
till after breakfast ; but I knew that I must " take the 
bull by the horns," and that if I showed any sign of 
want of spirit or backwardness, I should be ruined at 
once. So I took my bucket of grease and climbed up to 
the royal-mast-head. Here the rocking of the vessel, 
which increases the higher you go from the foot of the 
mast, which is the fulcrum of the lever, and the smell 
of the grease, which offended my fastidious senses, upset 
my stomach again, and I was not a little rejoiced when 
I had finished my job and got upon the comparative 
terra firma of the deck. In a few minutes seven bells 
were struck, the log hove, the watch called, and we went 
to breakfast. Here I cannot but remember the advice 
of the cook, a simple-hearted African. " Now," says he, 
" my lad, you are well cleaned out ; you have n't got a 
drop of your 'long-shore swash aboard of you. You 
must begin on a new tack, pitch all your sweetmeats 
overboard, and turn to upon good hearty salt beef and 
ship bread, and I '11 promise you, you '11 have your ribs 
well sheathed, and be as hearty as any of 'em, afore you 
are up to the Horn." This would be good advice to 
give to passengers, when they set their hearts on the 



io TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

little niceties which they have laid in, in case of sea- 
sickness. 

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

Thursday, August 2ist. This day the sun rose clear; 
we had a fine wind, and everything was bright an-d 
cheerful. I had now got my sea legs on, and was be- 
ginning to enter upon the regular duties of a sea life. 
About six bells, that is, three o'clock p. M., we saw a 
sail on our larboard bow. I was very desirous, like 
every new sailor, to speak her. She came down to us, 
backed her main-top-sail, and the two vessels stood 
K head on," bowing and curveting at each other like a 
couple of war-horses reined in by their riders. It was 
the first vessel that I had seen near, and I was sur- 
prised to find how much she rolled and pitched in so 
quiet a sea. She plunged her head into the sea, and 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 11 

then, her stern settling gradually down, her huge bows 
rose up, showing the bright copper, and her stem and 
breasthooks dripping, like old Neptune's locks, with the 
brine. Her decks were filled with passengers, who had 
come up at the cry of " Sail ho ! " and who, by their 
dress and features, appeared to be Swiss and French 
emigrants. She hailed us at first in French, but re- 
ceiving no answer, she tried us in English. She was 
the ship La Carolina, from Havre, for New York. We 
desired her to report the brig Pilgrim, from Boston, 
for the northwest coast of America, five days out. She 
then filled away and left us to plough on through our 
waste of waters. 

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

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




CHAPTER 
III 



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

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

The prime minister, the official organ, and the active 
and superintending officer is the chief mate. He is 
first lieutenant, boatswain, sailing-master, and quarter- 
master. The captain tells him what he wishes to have 



1 There is a doubt of his power to do the latter. 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 13 

done, and leaves to him the care of overseeing, of allot- 
ting the work, and also the responsibility of its being 
well done. The mate (as he is always called, par excel- 
lence) also keeps the log-book, for which he is responsi- 
ble to the owners and insurers, and has the charge of 
the stowage, safe-keeping, and delivery of the cargo. 
He is also, ex officio, the wit of the crew ; for the cap- 
tain does not condescend to joke with the men, and the 
second mate no one cares for ; so that when " the mate " 
thinks fit to entertain " the people " with a coarse joke 
or a little practical wit, every one feels bound to laugh. 

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

The steward is the captain's servant, and has charge 
of the pantry, from which every one, even the mate him- 
self, is excluded. These distinctions usually find him 
an enemy in the mate, who does not like to have any 
one on board who is not entirely under his control; the 



14 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

crew do not consider him as one of their number, so he 
is left to the mercy of the captain. 

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

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

An explanation of the " dog-watches " may, perhaps, 
be necessary to one who has never been at sea. Their 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 15 

purpose is to shift the watches each night, so that the 
same watch shall not be on deck at the same hours 
throughout a voyage. In order to effect this, the watch 
from four to eight p. M. is divided into two half-watches, 
one from four to six, and the other from six to eight. 
By this means they divide the twenty-four hours into 
seven watches instead of six, and thus shift the hours 
every night. As the dog-watches come during twilight, 
after the day's work is done, and before the night-watch 
is set, they are the watches in which everybody is on 
deck. The captain is up, walking on the weather side 
of the quarter-deck, the chief mate on the lee side, and 
the second mate about the weather gangway. The stew- 
ard has finished his work in the cabin, and has come up 
to smoke his pipe with the cook in the galley. The crew 
are sitting on the windlass or lying on the forecastle, 
smoking, singing, or telling long yarns. At eight o'clock 
eight bells are struck, the log is hove, the watch set, the 
wheel relieved, the galley shut up, and the watch off 
duty goes below. 

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

Before I end my explanations, it may be well to define 
a day's work, and to correct a mistake prevalent among 
landsmen about a sailor's life. Nothing is more common 
than to hear people say, " Are not sailors very idle at 
sea? What can they find to do?" This is a natural 
mistake, and, being frequently made, is one which every 



16 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

sailor feels interested in having corrected. In the first 
place, then, the discipline of the ship requires every man 
to be at work upon something when he is on deck, except 
at night and on Sundays. At all other times you will 
never see a man, on board a well-ordered vessel, standing 
idle on deck, sitting down, or leaning over the side. It is 
the officers' duty to keep every one at work, even if 
there is nothing to be done but to scrape the rust from 
the chain cables. In no state prison are the convicts 
more regularly set to work, and more closely watched. 
No conversation is allowed among the crew at their duty, 
and though they frequently do talk when aloft, or when 
near one another, yet they stop when an officer is nigh. 

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



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 17 

ting on, and mending the chafing gear alone, upon a 
vessel, would find constant employment for a man or 
two men, during working hours, for a whole voyage. 

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

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



1 8 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

ing in every direction, one will hardly ask, " What can 
a sailor find to do at sea ? " 

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

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

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

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

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



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 19 

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




CHAPTER 
IV 



ATER speaking the Carolina, on the 2ist of 
August, nothing occurred to break the monotony 
of our life until 

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

Sunday, September ?th. Fell in with the northeast 
trade-winds. This morning we caught our first dolphin, 
which I was very eager to see. I was disappointed in 
the colors of this fish when dying. They were certainly 
very beautiful, but not equal to what has been said of 
them. They are too indistinct. To do the fish justice, 
there is nothing more beautiful than the dolphin when 
swimming a few feet below the surface, on a bright day. 
It is the most elegantly formed, and also the quickest, 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 21 

fish in salt water ; and the rays of the sun striking upon 
it, in its rapid and changing motions, reflected from the 
water, make it look like a stray beam from a rainbow. 

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

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

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

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

September 22d, when, upon coming on deck at seven 



22 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

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

Wednesday, October 1st. Crossed the equator in Ion. 
24 24' W. I now, for the first time, felt at liberty, 



TWO^YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 23 

according to the old usage, to call myself a son of Nep- 
tune, and was very glad to be able to claim the title 
without the disagreeable initiation which so many have 
to go through. After once crossing the line, you can 
never be subjected to the process, but are considered as 
a son of Neptune, with full powers to play tricks upon 
others. This ancient custom is now seldom allowed, un- 
less there are passengers on board, in which case there 
is always a good deal of sport. 

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



24 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

never sat down on deck himself, and never permitted an 
officer to do so. 

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

At seven bells in the morning, all hands were called 
aft, and told that Foster was no longer an officer on 
board, and that we might choose one of our own num- 
ber for second mate. It is not uncommon for the cap- 
tain to make this offer, and it is good policy, for the 
crew think themselves the choosers, and are flattered 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 25 

by it, but have to obey, nevertheless. Our crew, as is 
usual, refused to take the responsibility of choosing a 
man of whom we would never be able to complain, and 
left it to the captain. He picked out an active and 
intelligent young sailor, born on the banks of the Kenne- 
bec, who had been several Canton voyages, and pro- 
claimed him in the following manner : " I choose Jim 
Hall ; he 's your second mate. All you 've got to do 
is, to obey him as you would me; and remember that 
he is Mr. Hall." Foster went forward into the fore- 
castle as a common sailor, and lost the handle to his 
name, while young fore-mast Jim became Mr. Hall, and 
took up his quarters in the land of knives and forks and 
tea-cups. 

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

As we ran in towards the coast, we found that we 
were directly off the port of Pernambuco, and could see 
with the telescope the roofs of the houses, and one large 



26 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

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

We met with nothing remarkable until we were in the 
latitude of the river La Plata. Here there are violent 
gales from the southwest, called Pamperos, which are 
very destructive to the shipping in the river, and are felt 
for many leagues at sea. They are usually preceded by 
lightning. The captain told the mates to keep a bright 
lookout, and if they saw lightning at the southwest, to 
take in sail at once. We got the first touch of one dur- 
ing my watch on deck. I was walking in the lee gang- 
way, and thought that I saw lightning on the lee bow. 
I told the second mate, who came over and looked out 
for some time. It was very black in the southwest, and 
in about ten minutes we saw a distinct flash. The wind, 
which had been southeast, had now left us, and it was 
dead calm. We sprang aloft immediately and furled 
the royals and top-gallant-sails, and took in the flying 
jib, hauled up the mainsail and trysail, squared the 
after yards, and awaited the attack. A huge mist capped 
with black clouds came driving towards us, extending 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 27 

over that portion of the horizon, and covering the stars, 
which shone brightly in the other part of the heavens. 
It came upon us at once with a blast, and a shower of 
hail and rain, which almost took our breath from us. 
The hardiest was obliged to turn his back. We let the 
halyards run, and fortunately were not taken aback. 
The little vessel " paid off " from the wind, and ran on 
for some time directly before it, tearing through the 
water with everything flying. Having called all hands, 
we close-reefed the topsails and trysail, furled the courses 
and jib, set the fore-topmast staysail, and brought her up 
nearly to her course, with the weather braces hauled in 
a little, to ease her. 

This was the first blow I had met, which could really 
be called a gale. We had reefed our topsails in the 
Gulf Stream, and I thought it something serious, but an 
older sailor would have thought nothing of it. As I 
had now become used to the vessel and to my duty, I 
was of some service on a yard, and could knot my reef- 
point as well as anybody. I obeyed the order to lay * 
aloft with the rest, and found the reefing a very excit- 
ing scene ; for one watch reefed the fore-topsail, and 
the other the main, and every one did his utmost to get 
his topsail hoisted first. We had a great advantage over 
the larboard watch, because the chief mate never goes 
aloft, while our new second mate used to jump into the 
rigging as soon as we began to haul out the reef-tackle, 
and have the weather earing passed before there was a 
man upon the yard. In this way we were almost always 

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



28 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

able to raise the cry of " Haul out to leeward " before 
them ; and, having- knotted our points, would slide down 
the shrouds and back-stays, and sing out at the topsail 
halyards, to let it be known that we were ahead of them. 
Reefing is the most exciting part of a sailor's duty. All 
hands are engaged upon it, and after the halyards are 
let go, there is no time to be lost, no " sogering," or 
hanging back, then. If one is not quick enough, another 
runs over him. The first on the yard goes to the weather 
earing, the second to the lee, and the next two to the 
" dog's ears " ; while the others lay along into the bunt, 
just giving each other elbow-room. In reefing, the yard- 
arms (the extremes of the yards) are the posts of honor; 
but in furling, the strongest and most experienced stand 
in the slings (or middle of the yard) to make up the bunt. 
If the second mate is a smart fellow, he will never let any 
one take either of these posts from him ; but if he is 
wanting either in seamanship, strength, or activity, some 
better man will get the bunt and earings from him, which 
immediately brings him into disrepute. 

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

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

Tuesday, November 4th. At daybreak, saw land upon 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 29 

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




CHAPTER 
V 



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

During the first part of this day (Wednesday) the wind 
was light, but after noon it came on fresh, and we furled 
the royals. We still kept the studding-sails out, and the 
captain said he should go round with them if he could. 
Just before eight o'clock (then about sundown, in that 
latitude) the cry of "All hands ahoy!" was sounded 
down the fore scuttle and the after hatchway, and, hurry- 
ing upon deck, we found a large black cloud rolling on 
toward us from the southwest, and darkening the whole 
heavens. " Here comes Cape Horn ! " said the chief mate ; 
and we had hardly time to haul down and clew up before 
it was upon us. In a few minutes a heavier sea was 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 31 

raised than I had ever seen, and as it was directly ahead, 
the little brig, which was no better than a bathing- 
machine, plunged into it, and all the forward part of her 
was under water; the sea pouring in through the bow- 
ports and hawse-holes and over the knight-heads, threat- 
ening to wash everything overboard. In the lee scuppers 
it was up to a man's waist. We sprang aloft and double- 
reefed the topsails, and furled the other sails, and made 
all snug. But this would not do; the brig was laboring 
and straining against the head sea, and the gale was grow- 
ing worse and worse. At the same time sleet and hail 
were driving with all fury against us. We clewed down, 
and hauled out the reef-tackles again, and close-reefed 
the fore-topsail, and furled the main, and hove her to, 
on the starboard tack. Here was an end to our fine pros- 
pects. We made up our minds to head winds and cold 
weather ; sent down the royal yards, and unrove the gear ; 
but all the rest of the top hamper remained aloft, even 
to the sky-sail masts and studding-sail booms. 

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

Thursday, November 6th. It continued more pleasant 
through the first part of the day, but at night we had 
the same scene over again. This time we did not heave 
to, as on the night before, but endeavored to beat to 
windward under close-reefed topsails, balance-reefed try- 



32 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

sail, and fore top-mast staysail. This night it was my 
turn to steer, or, as the sailors say, my trick at the helm, 
for two hours'. Inexperienced as I was, I made out to 
steer to the satisfaction of the officer, and neither Stim- 
son nor I gave up our tricks, all the time that we were 
off the Cape. This was something to boast of, for it 
requires a good deal of skill and watchfulness to steer 
a vessel close hauled, in a gale of wind, against a heavy 
head sea. " Ease her when she pitches," is the word ; 
and a little carelessness in letting her ship a heavy sea 
might sweep the decks, or take a mast out of her. 

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

The calm of the morning reminds me of a scene which 
I forgot to describe at the time of its occurrence, but 
which I remember from its being the first time that I 
had heard the near breathing of whales. It was on the 
night that we passed between the Falkland Islands and 
Staten Land. We had the watch from twelve to four, 
and, coming upon deck, found the little brig lying per- 
fectly still, enclosed in a thick fog, and the sea as smooth 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 33 

as though oil had been poured upon it ; yet now and 
then a long, low swell rolling under its surface, slightly 
lifting the vessel, but without breaking the glassy smooth- 
ness of the water. We were surrounded far and near 
by shoals of sluggish whales and grampuses, which the 
fog prevented our seeing, rising slowly to the surface, or 
perhaps lying out at length, heaving out those lazy, deep, 
and long-drawn breathings which give such an impres- 
sion of supineness and strength. Some of the watch were 
asleep, and the others were quiet, so that there was noth- 
ing to break the illusion, and I stood leaning over the 
bulwarks, listening to the slow breathings of the mighty 
creatures, now one breaking the water just alongside, 
whose black body I almost fancied that I could see through 
the fog; and again another, which I could just hear in 
the distance, - - until the low and regular swell seemed 
like the heaving of the ocean's mighty bosom to the sound 
of its own heavy and long-drawn respirations. 

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

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

Sunday, November yth. To-day the sun rose clear and 
continued so until twelve o'clock, when the captain got 
an observation. This was very well for Cape Horn, and 



34 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

we thought it a little remarkable that, as we had not had 
one unpleasant Sunday during the whole voyage, the only 
tolerable day here should be a Sunday. We got time to 
clear up the steerage and forecastle, and set things to 
rights, and to overhaul our wet clothes a little. But this 
did not last very long. Between five and six the sun 
was then nearly three hours high the cry of " All Star- 
bowlines x ahoy ! " summoned our watch on deck, and 
immediately all hands were called. A true specimen of 
Cape Horn was coming upon us. A great cloud of a 
dark slate-color was driving on us from the southwest ; 
and we did our best to take in sail ( for the light sails had 
been set during the first part of the day) before we were 
in the midst of it. We had got the light sails furled, the 
courses hauled up, and the topsail reef -tackles hauled out, 
and were just mounting the fore-rigging when the storm 
struck us. In an instant the sea, which had been com- 
paratively quiet, was running higher and higher; and it 
became almost as dark as night. The hail and sleet 
were harder than I had yet felt them ; seeming almost 
to pin us down to the rigging. We were longer taking 
in sail than ever before; for the sails were stiff and wet, 
the ropes and rigging covered with snow and sleet, and 
we ourselves cold and nearly blinded with the violence 
of the storm. By the time we had got down upon deck 
again, the little brig was plunging madly into a tremen- 
dous head sea, which at every drive rushed in through 
the bow-ports and over the bows, and buried all the for- 
ward part of the vessel. At this instant the chief mate, 
who was standing on the top of the windlass, at the foot 
of the spenser-mast, called out, " Lay out there and furl 
the jib!" This was no agreeable or safe duty, yet it 

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



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 35 

must be done. John, a Swede (the best sailor on board), 
who belonged on the forecastle, sprang out upon the bow- 
sprit. Another one must go. It was a clear case of 
holding back. I was near the mate, but sprang past sev- 
eral, threw the downhaul over the windlass, and jumped 
between the knight-heads out upon the bowsprit. The 
crew stood abaft the windlass and hauled the jib down, 
while John and I got out upon the weather side of the 
jib-boom, our feet on the foot-ropes, holding on by the 
spar, the great jib flying off to leeward and slatting so 
as almost to throw us off the boom. For some time we 
could do nothing but hold on, and the vessel, diving into 
two huge seas, one after the other, plunged us twice into 
the water up to our chins. We hardly knew whether we 
were on or off; when, the boom lifting us up dripping 
from the water, we were raised high into the air and then 
plunged below again. John thought the boom would go 
every moment, and called out to the mate to keep the 
vessel off, and haul down the staysail; but the fury of 
the wind and the breaking of the seas against the bows 
defied every attempt to make ourselves heard, and we 
were obliged to do the best we could in our situation. 
Fortunately no other seas so heavy struck her, and we 
succeeded in furling the jib "after a fashion"; and, 
coming in over the staysail nettings, were not a little 
pleased to find that all was snug, and the watch gone 
below; for we were soaked through, and it was very 
cold. John admitted that it had been a post of danger, 
which good sailors seldom do when the thing is over. 
The weather continued nearly the same through the night. 
Monday, November loth. During a part of this day 
we were hove to, but the rest of the time v/ere driving 
on, under close-reefed sails, with a heavy sea, a strong 
gale, and frequent squalls of hail and snow. 



36 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

Tuesday, November nth. The same. 

Wednesday. The same. 

Thursday. The same. 

We had now got hardened to Cape weather, the vessel 
was under reduced sail, and everything secured on deck 
and below, so that we had little to do but to steer and 
to stand our watch. Our clothes were all wet through, 
and the only change was from wet to more wet. There 
is no fire in the forecastle, and we cannot dry clothes at 
the galley. It was in vain to think of reading or work- 
ing below, for we were too tired, the hatchways were 
closed down, and everything was wet and uncomfortable, 
black and dirty, heaving and pitching. We had only to 
come below when the watch was out, wring our wet 
clothes, hang them up to chafe against the bulkheads, 
and turn in and sleep as soundly as we could, until our 
watch was called again. A sailor can sleep anywhere, - 
no sound of wind, water, canvas, rope, wood, or iron can 
keep him awake, and we were always fast asleep when 
three blows on the hatchway, and the unwelcome cry of 
" All Starbowlines ahoy ! eight bells there below ! do you 
hear the news? " (the usual formula of calling the watch) 
roused us up from our berths upon the cold, wet decks. 
The only time when we could be said to take any pleasure 
was at night and morning, when we were allowed a tin I 
pot full of hot tea (or, as the sailors significantly call it, 
" water bewitched ") sweetened with molasses. This, bad 
as it was, was still warm and comforting, and, together 
with our sea biscuit and cold salt beef, made a meal. 
Yet even this meal was attended with some uncertainty. 
We had to go ourselves to the galley and take our kid of 
beef and tin pots of tea, and run the risk of losing them 
before we could get below. Many a kid of beef have I 
seen rolling in the scuppers, and the bearer lying at his 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 37 

length on the decks. I remember an English lad who 
was the life of the crew whom we afterwards lost over- 
board standing for nearly ten minutes at the galley, 
with his pot of tea in his hand, waiting for a chance to 
get down into the forecastle ; and, seeing what he thought 
was a " smooth spell," started to go forward. He had 
just got to the end of the windlass, when a great sea 
broke over the bows, and for a moment I saw nothing 
of him but his head and shoulders; and at the next 
instant, being taken off his legs, he was carried aft with 
the sea, until her stern lifting up, and sending the water 
forward, he was left high and dry at the side of the 
long-boat, still holding on to his tin pot, which had now 
nothing in it but salt water. But nothing could ever 
daunt him, or overcome, for a moment, his habitual good- 
humor. Regaining his legs, and shaking his fist at the 
man at the wheel, he rolled below, saying, as he passed, 
" A man 's no sailor, if he can't take a joke." The duck- 
ing was not the worst of such an affair, for, as there 
was an allowance of tea, you could get no more from the 
galley ; and though the others would never suffer a man 
to go without, but would always turn in a little from their 
own pots to fill up his, yet this was at best but dividing 
the loss among all hands. 

Something of the same kind befell me a few days 
after. The cook had just made for us a mess of hot 
" scouse," that is, biscuit pounded fine, salt beef cut 
into small pieces, and a few potatoes, boiled up together 
and seasoned with pepper. This was a rare treat, and I, 
being the last at the galley, had it put in my charge to 
carry down for the mess. I got along very well as far 
as the hatchway, and was just going down the steps, 
when a heavy sea, lifting the stern out of water, and, 
passing forward, dropping it again, threw the steps from 



38 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

their place, and I came down into the steerage a little 
faster than I meant to, with the kid on top of me, and 
the whole precious mess scattered over the floor. What- 
ever your feelings may be, you must make a joke of 
everything at sea ; and if you were to fall from aloft and 
be caught in the belly of a sail, and thus saved from in- 
stant death, it would not do to look at all disturbed, or 
to treat it as a serious matter. 

Friday, November iflh. We were now well to the 
westward of the Cape, and were changing our course to 
northward as much as we dared, since the strong south- 
west winds, which prevailed then, carried us in towards 
Patagonia. At two p. M. we saw a sail on our larboard 
beam, and at four we made it out to be a large ship, 
steering our course, under single-reefed topsails. We at 
that time had shaken the reefs out of our topsails, as the 
wind was lighter, and set the main top-gallant sail. As 
soon as our captain saw what sail she was under, he set 
the fore top-gallant sail and flying jib; and the old whaler 
for such his boats and short sail showed him to be 
felt a little ashamed, and shook the reefs out of his top- 
sails, but could do no more, for he had sent down his top- 
gallant masts off the Cape. He ran down for us, and 
answered our hail as the whale-ship New England, of 
Poughkeepsie, one hundred and twenty days from New 
York. Our captain gave our name, and added, ninety-two 
days from Boston. They then had a little conversation 
about longitude, in which they found that they could not 
agree. The ship fell astern, and continued in sight dur- 
ing the night. Toward morning, the wind having be- 
come light, we crossed our royal and skysail yards, and at 
daylight we were seen under a cloud of sail, having royals 
and skysails fore and aft. The " spouter," as the sailors 
call a whaleman, had sent up his main top-gallant mast 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 39 

and set the sail, and made signal for us to heave to. 
About half past seven their whale-boat came alongside, 
and Captain Job Terry sprang on board, a man known 
in every port and by every vessel in the Pacific Ocean. 
" Don't you know Job Terry? I thought everybody knew 
Job Terry," said a green hand, who came in the boat, to 
me, when I asked him about his captain. He was indeed 
a singular man. He was six feet high, wore thick cow- 
hide boots, and brown coat and trousers, and, except a 
sunburnt complexion, had not the slightest appearance of 
a sailor; yet he had been forty years in the whale-trade, 
and, as he said himself, had owned ships, built ships, and 
sailed ships. His boat's crew were a pretty raw set, just 
out of the bush, and, as the sailor's phrase is, " had n't 
got the hayseed out of their hair." Captain Terry con- 
vinced our captain that our reckoning was a little out, 
and, having spent the day on board, put off in his boat 
at sunset for his ship, which was now six or eight miles 
astern. He began a " yarn " when he came aboard, which 
lasted, with but little intermission, for four hours. It 
was all about himself, and the Peruvian government, and 
the Dublin frigate, and her captain, Lord James Towns- 
hend, and President Jackson, and the ship Ann M'Kim, 
of Baltimore. It would probably never have come to an 
end, had not a good breeze sprung up, which sent him off 
to his own vessel. One of the lads who came in his boat. 
a thoroughly countrified-looking fellow, seemed to care 
very little about the vessel, rigging, or anything else, but 
went round looking at the live stock, and leaned over 
the pigsty, and said he wished he was back again tending 
his father's pigs. 

A curious case of dignity occurred here. It seems that 
in a whale-ship there is an intermediate class, called boat- 
steerers. One of them came in Captain Terry's boat, but 



40 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

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

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

This day we saw the last of the albatrosses, which had 
been our companions a great part of the time off the Cape. 
I had been interested in the bird from descriptions, and 
Coleridge's poem, and was not at all disappointed. We 
caught one or two with a baited hook which we floated 
astern upon a shingle. Their long, flapping wings, long 
legs, and large, staring eyes, give them a very peculiar 
appearance. They look well on the wing ; but one of the 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 41 

finest sights that I have ever seen was an albatross asleep 
upon the water, during a calm, off Cape Horn, when a 
heavy sea was running. There being no breeze, the sur- 
face of the water was unbroken, but a long, heavy swell 
was rolling, and we saw the fellow, all white, directly 
ahead of us, asleep upon the waves, with his head under 
his wing ; now rising on the top of one of the big billows, 
and then falling slowly until he was lost in the hollow 
between. He was undisturbed for some time, until the 
noise of our bows, gradually approaching, roused him, 
when, lifting his head, he stared upon us for a moment, 
and then spread his wide wings and took his flight. 




CHAPTER 
VI 



MONDAY, November ijth. This was a black 
day in our calendar. At seven o'clock in 
the morning, it being our watch below, we 
were aroused from a sound sleep by the cry of " All 
hands ahoy ! a man overboard ! " This unwonted cry sent 
a thrill through the heart of every one, and, hurrying on 
deck, we found the vessel hove fiat aback, with all her 
studding-sails set ; for, the boy who was at the helm leav- 
ing it to throw something overboard, the carpenter, who 
was an old sailor, knowing that the wind was light, put 
the helm down and hove her aback. The watch on deck 
were lowering away the quarter-boat, and I got on deck 
just in time to fling myself into her as she was leaving the 
side; but it was not until out upon the wide Pacific, in 
our little boat, that I knew whom we had lost. It was 
George Ballmer, the young English sailor, whom I have 
before spoken of as the life of the crew. He was prized 
by the officers as an active and willing seaman, and by 
the men as a lively, hearty fellow, and a good shipmate. 
He was going aloft to fit a strap round the main topmast- 
head, for ringtail halyards, and had the strap and block, 
a coil of halyards, and a marline-spike about his neck. 
He fell from the starboard futtock shrouds, and, not 






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TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 43 

knowing how to swim, and being heavily dressed, with 
all those things round his neck, he probably sank imme- 
diately. We pulled astern, in the direction in which he 
fell, and though we knew that there was no hope of sav- 
ing him, yet no one wished to speak of returning, and 
we rowed about for nearly an hour, without an idea of 
doing anything, but unwilling to acknowledge to ourselves 
that we must give him up. At length we turned the 
boat's head and made towards the brig. 

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



44 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

You miss his form, and the sound of his voice, for habit 
had made them almost necessary to you, and each of your 
senses feels the loss. 

All these things make such a death peculiarly solemn, 
and the effect of it remains upon the crew for some time. 
There is more kindness shown by the officers to the crew, 
and by the crew to one another. There is more quietness 
and seriousness. The oath and the loud laugh are gone. 
The officers are more watchful, and the crew go more 
carefully aloft. The lost man is seldom mentioned, or is 
dismissed with a sailor's rude eulogy, " Well, poor 
George is gone! His cruise is up soon! He knew his 
work, and did his duty, and was a good shipmate." Then 
usually follows some allusion to another world, for sailors 
are almost all believers, in their way; though their no- 
tions and opinions are unfixed and at loose ends. They 
say, " God won't be hard upon the poor fellow," and 
seldom get beyond the common phrase which seems to 
imply that their sufferings and hard treatment here will 
be passed to their credit in the books of the Great Captain 
hereafter, " To work hard, live hard, die hard, and go 
to hell after all, would be hard indeed! " Our cook, a 
simple-hearted old African, who had been through a good 
deal in his day, and was rather seriously inclined, always 
going to church twice a day when on shore, and reading 
his Bible on a Sunday in the galley, talked to the crew 
about spending the Lord's Days badly, and told them that 
they might go as suddenly as George had, and be as little 
prepared. 

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






n r 




MAX OVERBOARD ! 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 45 

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

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

As is usual after a death, many stories were told about 
George. Some had heard him say that he repented never 
having learned to swim, and that he knew that he should 
meet his death by drowning. Another said that he never 
knew any good to come of a voyage made against the 



46 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

will, and the deceased man shipped and spent his advance, 
and was afterwards very unwilling to go, but, not being 
able to refund, was obliged to sail with us. A boy, too, 
who had become quite attached to him, said that George 
talked to him, during most of the watch on the night 
before, about his mother and family at home, and this 
was the first time that he had mentioned the subject 
during the voyage. 

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

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

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

" What kind of a German ? " said the cook. 

" He belongs to Bremen," said I. 

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

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

" I 'm plaguy glad o' dat," said the cook. " I was 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 47 

mighty 'fraid he was a Fin. I tell you what, I been plaguy 
civil to that man all the voyage." 

I asked him the reason of this, and found that he was 
fully possessed with the notion that Fins are wizards, 
and especially have power over winds and storms. 1 
tried to reason with him about it, but he had the best 
of all arguments, that from experience, at hand, and was 
not to be moved. He had been to the Sandwich Islands 
in a vessel in which the sail-maker was a Fin, and could 
do anything he was of a mind to. This sail-maker kept 
a junk bottle in his berth, which was always just half 
full of rum, though he got drunk upon it nearly every 
day. He had seen him sit for hours together, talking to 
this bottle, which he stood up before him on the table. 
The same man cut his throat in his berth, and everybody 
said he was possessed. 

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

" Oh, no ! " said he ; " I 've seen too much o' dem men 
to want to see 'em 'board a ship. If dey can't have dare 
own way, they '11 play the d 1 with you." 

As I still doubted, he said he would leave it to John, 
who was the oldest seaman aboard, and would know, if 
anybody did. John, to be sure, was the oldest, and at 
the same time the most ignorant, man in the ship; but 
I consented to have him called. The cook stated the 
matter to him, and John, as I anticipated, sided with the 
cook, and said that he himself had been in a ship where 
they had a head wind for a fortnight, and the captain 
found out at last that one of the men, with whom he had 
had some hard words a short time before, was a Fin, 



48 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

and immediately told him if he did n't stop the head 
wind he would shut him down in the fore peak. The 
Fin would not give in, and the captain shut him down in 
the fore peak, and would not give him anything to eat. 
The Fin held out for a day and a half, when he could 
not stand it any longer, and did something or other which 
brought the wind round again, and they let him up. 
" Dar," said the cook, " what you tink o' dat ? " 
I told him I had no doubt it was true, and that it 
would have been odd if the wind had not changed in 
fifteen days, Fin or no Fin. 

" O," says he, " go 'way ! You tink, 'cause you been 
to college, you know better dan anybody. You know 
better dan dem as 'as seen it wid der own eyes. You 
wait till you 've been to sea as long as I have, and den 
you '11 know." 




CHAPTER 
VII 



WE continued sailing along with a fair wind 
and fine weather until 
Tuesday, November 2$th, when at day- 
light we saw the island of Juan Fernandez directly ahead, 
rising like a deep blue cloud out of the sea. We were 
then probably nearly seventy miles from it; and so high 
and so blue did it appear that I mistook it for a cloud 
resting over the island, and looked for the island under 
it, until it gradually turned to a deader and greener color, 
and I could mark the inequalities upon its surface. At 
length we could distinguish trees and rocks ; and by the 
afternoon this beautiful island lay fairly before us, and 
we directed our course to the only harbor. Arriving at 
the entrance soon after sundown, we found a Chilian man- 
of-war brig, the only vessel, coming out. She hailed us ; 
and an officer on board, whom we supposed to be an 
American, advised us to run in before night, and said that 
they were bound to Valparaiso. We ran immediately for 
the anchorage, but, owing to the winds which drew about 
the mountains and came to us in flaws from different 
points of the compass, we did not come to an anchor until 
nearly midnight. We had a boat ahead all the time that 
we were working in, and those aboard ship were continu- 



So TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

ally bracing the yards about for every puff that struck 
us, until about twelve o'clock, when we came to in forty 
fathoms water, and our anchor struck bottom for the 
first time since we left Boston, one hundred and three 
days. We were then divided into three watches, and 
thus stood out the remainder of the night. 

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

When all hands were called it was nearly sunrise, and 
between that time and breakfast, although quite busy 
on board in getting up water-casks, &c., I had a good 
view of the objects about me. The harbor was nearly 
land-locked, and at the head of it was a landing, pro- 
tected by a small breakwater of stones, upon which two 
large boats were hauled up, with a sentry standing over 
them. Near this was a variety of huts or cottages, nearly 
a hundred in number, the best of them built of mud or 
unburnt clay, and whitewashed, but the greater part Rob- 
inson Crusoe like, only of posts and branches of trees. 
The governor's house, as it is called, was the most con- 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 51 

spicuous, being large, with grated windows, plastered 
walls, and roof of red tiles; yet, like all the rest, only 
of one story. Near it was a small chapel, distinguished 
by a cross ; and a long, low, brown-looking building, sur- 
rounded by something like a palisade, from which an 
old and dingy-looking Chilian flag was flying. This, of 
course, was dignified by the title of Presidio. A sentinel 
was stationed at the chapel, another at the governor's 
house, and a few soldiers, armed with bayonets, looking 
rather ragged, with shoes out at the toes, were strolling 
about among the houses, or waiting at the landing-place 
for our boat to come ashore. 

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

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

After breakfast, the second mate was ordered ashore 
with five hands to fill the water-casks, and, to my joy, I 
was among the number. We pulled ashore with empty 
casks ; and here again fortune favored me, for the water 
was too thick and muddy to be put into the casks, and 



52 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

the governor had sent men up to the head of the stream 
to clear it out for us, which gave us nearly two hours of 
leisure. This leisure we employed in wandering about 
among the houses, and eating a little fruit which was 
offered to us. Ground apples, melons, grapes, strawber- 
ries of an enormous size, and cherries abound here. The 
latter are said to have been planted by Lord Anson. The 
soldiers were miserably clad, and asked with some in- 
terest whether we had shoes to sell on board. I doubt 
very much if they had the means of buying them. They 
were very eager to get tobacco, for which they gave 
shells, fruit, &c. Knives were also in demand, but we 
were forbidden by the governor to let any one have them, 
as he told us that all the people there, except the soldiers 
and a few officers, were convicts sent from Valparaiso, 
and that it was necessary to keep all weapons from their 
hands. The island, it seems, belongs to Chili, and had 
been used by the government as a penal colony for nearly 
two years ; and the governor, an Englishman who had 
entered the Chilian navy, with a priest, half a dozen 
taskmasters, and a body of soldiers, were stationed there 
to keep them in order. This was no easy task ; and, only 
a few months before our arrival, a few of them had 
stolen a boat at night, boarded a brig lying in the harbor, 
sent the captain and crew ashore in their boat, and gone 
off to sea. We were informed of this, and loaded our 
arms and kept strict watch on board through the night, 
and were careful not to let the convicts get our knives 
from us when on shore. The worst part of the convicts, 
I found, were locked up under sentry, in caves dug into 
the side of the mountain, nearly half-way up, with mule- 
tracks leading to them, whence they were taken by day 
and set to work under taskmasters upon building an 
aqueduct, a wharf, and other public works; while the 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 53 

rest lived in the houses which they put up for themselves, 
had their families with them, and seemed to me to be 
the laziest people on the face of the earth. They did 
nothing but take a paseo into the woods, a paseo among 
the houses, a paseo at the landing-place, looking at us 
and our vessel, and too lazy to speak fast; while the 
others were driven about, at a rapid tro^, in single file, 
with burdens on their shoulders, and followed up by their 
taskmasters, with long rods in their hands, and broad- 
brimmed straw hats upon their heads. Upon what pre- 
cise grounds this great distinction was made, I do not 
know, and I could not very well know, for the governor 
was the only man who spoke English upon the island, 
and he was out of my walk, for I was a sailor ashore as 
well as on board. 

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

A small boat which came from the shore to take away 
the governor and suite as they styled themselves 
brought, as a present to the crew, a large pail of milk, 



54 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

a few shells, and a block of sandal-wood. The milk, 
which was the first we had tasted since leaving Boston, 
we soon despatched; a piece of the sandal-wood I ob- 
tained, and learned that it grew on the hills in the centre 
of the island. I regretted that I did not bring away 
other specimens; but what I had the piece of sandal- 
wood, and a small flower which I plucked and brought 
on board in the crown of my tarpaulin, and carefully 
pressed between the leaves of a volume of Cowper's Let- 
ters were lost, with my chest and its contents, by an- 
other's negligence, on our arrival home. 

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



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 55 

soil, and its solitary position in the midst of the wide 
expanse of the South Pacific, as all concurring to give it 
its charm. 

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

There is an abundance of the best of water upon the 
island, small streams running through every valley, and 
leaping down from the sides of the hills. One stream 
of considerable size flows through the centre of the lawn 
upon which the houses are built, and furnishes an easy 
and abundant supply to the inhabitants. This, by means 



56 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

of a short wooden aqueduct, was brought quite down 
to our boats. The convicts had also built something in 
the way of a breakwater, and were to build a landing- 
place for boats and goods, after which the Chilian gov- 
ernment intended to lay port charges. 

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



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 57 

in running about after them. One of these gusts oc- 
curred while we were ashore, and afforded us no little 
amusement in seeing the men look round, and, if they 
found that their roofs had stood, conclude that they 
might stand too, while those who saw theirs blown off, 
after uttering a few Spanish oaths, gathered their cloaks 
over their shoulders, and started off after them. How- 
ever, they were not gone long, but soon returned to their 
habitual occupation of doing nothing. 

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

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

Thursday, November 2jth, upon coming on deck in 
the morning, we were again upon the wide Pacific, and 
saw no more land until we arrived upon the western 
coast of the great continent of America. 




CHAPTER 
VIII 



Awe saw neither land nor sail from the time 
of leaving Juan Fernandez until our arrival 
in California, nothing of interest occurred 
except our own doings on board. We caught the south- 
east trades, and ran before them for nearly three weeks, 
without so much as altering a sail or bracing a yard. 
The captain took advantage of this fine weather to get 
the vessel in order for coming upon the coast. The 
carpenter was employed in fitting up a part of the steer- 
age into a trade-room ; for our cargo, we now learned, 
was not to be landed, but to be sold by retail on board ; 
and this trade-room was built for the samples and the 
lighter goods to be kept in, and as a place for the general 
business. In the mean time we were employed in work- 
ing upon the rigging. Everything was set up taut, the 
lower rigging rattled down, or rather rattled up (accord- 
ing to the modern fashion), an abundance of spun-yarn 
and seizing-stuff made, and finally the whole standing- 
rigging, fore and aft, was tarred down. It was my first 
essay at the latter business, and I had enough of it; for 
nearly all of it came upon my friend Stimson and my- 
self. The men were needed at the other work, and Henry 
Mellus, the other young man who came out with us be- 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 59 

fore the mast, was laid up with the rheumatism in his 
feet, and the boy Sam was rather too young and small 
for the business ; and as the winds were light and regu- 
lar he was kept during most of the daytime at the helm, 
so that we had quite as much as we wished of it. We 
put on short duck frocks, and, taking a small bucket of 
tar and a bunch of oakum in our hands, went aloft, one 
at the main royal-mast-head, and the other at the fore, 
and began tarring down. This is an important operation, 
and is usually done about once in six months in vessels 
upon a long voyage. It was done in our vessel several 
times afterwards, but by the whole crew at once, and 
finished off in a day ; but at this time, as most of it, as 
I have said, came upon two of us, and we were new at 
the business, it took several days. In this operation they 
always begin at the mast-head, and work down, tarring 
the shrouds, backstays, standing parts of the lifts, the 
ties, runners, &c., and go out to the yard-arms, and come 
in, tarring, as they come, the lifts and foot-ropes. Tar- 
ring the stays is more difficult, and is done by an opera- 
tion which the sailors call " riding down." A long piece 
of rope top-gallant-studding-sail halyards, or something 
of the kind is taken up to the mast-head from which 
the stay leads, and rove through a block for a girt-line, 
or, as the sailors usually call it, a gant-lme ; with the end 
of this, a bowline is taken round the stay, into which the 
man gets with his bucket of tar and bunch of oakum ; 
and the other end being fast on deck, with some one to 
tend it, he is lowered down gradually, and tars the stay 
carefully as he goes. There he " swings aloft 'twixt 
heaven and earth," and if the rope slips, breaks, or is let 
go, or if the bowline slips, he falls overboard or breaks 
his neck. This, however, is a thing which never enters 
into a sailor's calculation. He only thinks of leaving no 



60 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

holidays (places not tarred), --for, in case he should, he 
would have to go over the whole again, or of dropping 
no tar upon deck, for then there would be a soft word 
in his ear from the mate. In this manner I tarred down 
all the head-stays, but found the rigging about the jib- 
booms, martingale, and spritsail yard, upon which I was 
afterwards put, the hardest. Here you have to " hang 
on with your eyelids " and tar with your hands. 

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



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 61 

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

Thursday, December 2$th. This day was Christmas, 
but it brought us no holiday. The only change was that 
we had a " plum duff " for dinner, and the crew quarrelled 
with the steward because he did not give us our usual 
allowance of molasses to eat with it. He thought the 
plums would be a substitute for the molasses, but we 
were not to be cheated out of our rights in that way. 

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

1 Haze is a word of frequent use on board ship. It is very ex- 
pressive to a sailor, and means to punish by hard work. Let an 
officer once say, " I '11 haze you," and your fate is fixed. You will be 
" worked up," if you are not a better man than he is. 



62 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

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



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 63 

But to return to the state of the crew. Upon our 
coming into the forecastle, there was some difficulty 
about the uniting of the allowances of bread, by which 
we thought we were to lose a few pounds. This set us 
into a ferment. The captain would not condescend to 
explain, and we went aft in a body, with John, the 
Swede, the oldest and best sailor of the crew, for spokes- 
man. The recollection of the scene that followed always 
brings up a smile, especially the quarter-deck dignity 
and elocution of the captain. He was walking the 
weather side of the quarter-deck, and, seeing us coming 
aft, stopped short in his walk, and with a voice and look 
intended to annihilate us called out, " Well, what the 

d 1 do you want now ? " Whereupon we stated our 

grievances as respectfully as we could, but he broke in 
upon us, saying that we were getting fat and lazy, 
didn't have enough to do, and it was that which made 
us find fault. This provoked us, and we began to give 
word for word. This would never answer. He clenched 
his fist, stamped and swore, and ordered us all forward, 
saying, with oaths enough interspersed to send the words 
home, " Away with you ! go forward every one of you ! 
I '11 haze you ! I '11 work you up ! You don't have 
enough to do ! If you a' n't careful I '11 make a hell of 
heaven ! . . . . You 've mistaken your man ! I 'm Frank 
Thompson, all the way from ' down east.' I 've been 
through the mill, ground and bolted, and come out a 
regular-built down-east johnny-cake, when it 's hot, 
d d good, but when it 's cold, d d sour and in- 
digestible ; and you '11 find me so ! " The latter part 
of this harangue made a strong impression, and the 
" down-east johnny-cake " became a byword for the rest 
of the voyage, and on the coast of California, after our 
arrival. One of his nicknames in all the ports was "The 



64 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

Down-east Johnny-cake." So much for our petition for 
the redress of grievances. The matter was, however, set 
right, for the mate, after allowing the captain due time 
to cool off, explained it to him, and at night we were 
all called aft to hear another harangue, in which, of 
course, the whole blame of the misunderstanding was 
thrown upon us. We ventured to hint that he would not 
give us time to explain ; but it would n't do. We were 
driven back discomfited. Thus the affair blew over, but 
the irritation caused by it remained; and we never had 
peace or a good understanding again so long as the cap- 
tain and crew remained together. 

We continued sailing along in the beautiful temperate 
climate of the Pacific. The Pacific well deserves its 
name, for except in the southern part, at Cape Horn, 
and in the western parts, near the China and Indian 
oceans, it has few storms, and is never either extremely 
hot or cold. Between the tropics there is a slight hazi- 
ness, like a thin gauze, drawn over the sun, which, with- 
out obstructing or obscuring the light, tempers the heat 
which comes down with perpendicular fierceness in the 
Atlantic and Indian tropics. We sailed well to the west- 
ward to have the full advantage of the northeast trades, 
and when we had reached the latitude of Point Concep- 
tion, where it is usual to make the land, we were several 
hundred miles to the westward of it. We immediately 
changed our course due east, and sailed in that direction 
for a number of days. At length we began to heave-to 
after dark, for fear of making the land at night, on a 
coast where there are no lighthouses and but indifferent 
charts, and at daybreak on the morning of 

Tuesday, January I3th, 1835, we made the land at 
Point Conception, lat. 34 32' N., Ion. 120 06' W. The 
port of Santa Barbara, to which we were bound, lying 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 65 

about fifty miles to the southward of this point, we con- 
tinued sailing down the coast during the day and fol- 
lowing night, and on the next morning, 

January iflh, we came to anchor in the spacious bay 
of Santa Barbara, after a voyage of one hundred and 
fifty days from Boston. 




CHAPTER 
IX 



CALIFORNIA extends along nearly the whole 
of the western coast of Mexico, between the 
Gulf of California in the south and the Bay 
of San Francisco on the north, or between the 22d 
and 38th degrees of north latitude. It is subdivided 
into two provinces, Lower or Old California, lying be- 
tween the gulf and the 32d degree of latitude, or near it 
(the division line running, I believe, between the bay of 
Todos Santos and the port of San Diego), and New or 
Upper California, the southernmost port of which is San 
Diego, in lat. 32 39', and the northernmost, San Fran- 
cisco, situated in the large bay discovered by Sir Francis 
Drake, in lat. 37 58', and now known as the Bay of 
San Francisco, so named, I suppose, by Franciscan mis- 
sionaries. Upper California has the seat of its govern- 
ment at Monterey, where is also the custom-house, the 
only one on the coast, and at which every vessel intend- 
ing to trade on the coast must enter its cargo before it 
can begin its traffic. We were to trade upon this coast 
exclusively, and therefore expected to go first to Mon- 
terey, but the captain's orders from home were tG 
put in at Santa Barbara, which is the central port 
of the coast, and wait there for the agent, who trans- 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 67 

acts all the business for the firm to which our vessel 
belonged. 

The bay, or, as it was commonly called, the canal of 
Santa Barbara, is very large, being formed by the main 
land on one side (between Point Conception on the north 
and Point Santa Buenaventura on the south), which here 
bends in like a crescent, and by three large islands op- 
posite to it and at the distance of some twenty miles 
These points are just sufficient to give it the name of a 
bay, while at the same time it is so large and so much 
exposed to the southeast and northwest winds, that it is 
little better than an open roadstead; and the whole 
swell of the Pacific Ocean rolls in here before a south- 
easter, and breaks with so heavy a surf in the shallow 
waters, that it is highly dangerous to lie near in to the 
shore during the southeaster season, that is, between 
the months of November and April. 

This wind (the southeaster) is the bane of the coast 
of California. Between the months of November and 
April (including a part of each), which is the rainy 
season in this latitude, you are never safe from it ; and 
accordingly, in the ports which are open to it, vessels 
are obliged, during these months, to lie at anchor at a 
distance of three miles from the shore, with slip-ropes on 
their cables, ready to slip and go to sea at a moment's 
warning. The only ports which are safe from this wind 
are San Francisco and Monterey in the north, and San 
Diego in the south. 

As it was January when we arrived, and the middle of 
the southeaster season, we came to anchor at the dis- 
tance of three miles from the shore, in eleven fathoms 
water, and bent a slip-rope and buoys to our cables, cast 
off the yard-arm gaskets from the sails, and stopped 
them all with rope-yarns. After we had done this, the 



68 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

boat went ashore with the captain, and returned with 
orders to the mate to send a boat ashore for him at sun- 
down. I did not go in the first boat, and was glad to 
find that there was another going before night ; for 
after so long a voyage as ours had been, a few hours 
seem a long time to be in sight and out of reach of 
land. We spent the day on board in the usual duties ; 
but as this was the first time we had been without the 
captain, we felt a little more freedom, and looked about 
us to see what sort of a country we had got into, and 
were to pass a year or two of our lives in. 

It was a beautiful day, and so warm that we wore 
straw hats, duck trousers, and all the summer gear. 
As this was midwinter, it spoke well for the climate ; 
and we afterwards found that the thermometer never 
fell to the freezing point throughout the winter, and 
that there was very little difference between the seasons, 
except that during a long period of rainy and south- 
easterly weather, thick clothes were not uncomfortable. 

The large bay lay about us, nearly smooth, as there 
was hardly a breath of wind stirring, though the boat's 
crew who went ashore told us that the long ground- 
swell broke into a heavy surf on the beach. There was 
only one vessel in the port a long, sharp brig of 
about three hundred tons, with raking masts, and very 
square yards, and English colors at her peak. We after- 
wards learned that she was built at Guayaquil, and 
named the Ayacucho, after the place where the battle 
was fought that gave Peru her independence, and was 
now owned by a Scotchman named Wilson, who com- 
manded her, and was engaged in the trade between 
Callao and other parts of South America and Califor- 
nia. She was a fast sailer, as we frequently afterwards 
saw, and had a crew of Sandwich-Islanders on board. 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 69 

Beside this vessel, there was no object to break the sur- 
face of the bay. Two points ran out as the horns of 
the crescent, one of which --the one to the westward 
was low and sandy, and is that to which vessels are 
obliged to give a wide berth when running out for a 
southeaster ; the other is high, bold, and well wooded, 
and has a mission upon it, called Santa Buenaventura, 
from which the point is named. In the middle of this 
crescent, directly opposite the anchoring ground, lie the 
Mission and town of Santa Barbara, on a low plain, 
but little above the level of the sea, covered with grass, 
though entirely without trees, and surrounded on three 
sides by an amphitheatre of mountains, which slant off 
to the distance of fifteen or twenty miles. The Mission 
stands a little back of the town, and is a large building, 
or rather collection of buildings, in the centre of which 
is a high tower, with a belfry of five bells. The whole, 
being plastered, makes quite a show at a distance, and 
is the mark by which vessels come to anchor. The 
town lies a little nearer to the beach, about half a 
mile from it, and is composed of one-story houses 
built of sun-baked clay, or adobe, some of them white- 
washed, with red tiles on the roofs. I should judge that 
there were about a hundred of them ; and in the midst 
of them stands the Presidio, or fort, built of the same 
materials, and apparently but little stronger. The town 
is finely situated, with a bay in front, and an amphi- 
theatre of hills behind. The only thing which dimin- 
ishes its beauty is, that the hills have no large trees 
upon them, they having been all burnt by a great fire 
which swept them off about a dozen years ago, and they 
had not yet grown again. The fire was described to 
me by an inhabitant, as having been a very terrible and 
magnificent sight. The air of the whole valley was so 



70 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

heated that the people were obliged to leave the town 
and take up their quarters for several days upon the 
beach. 

Just before sundown, the mate ordered a boat's crew 
ashore, and I went as one of the number. We passed 
under the stern of the English brig, and had a long pull 
ashore. I shall never forget the impression which our 
first landing on the beach of California made upon me. 
The sun had just gone down ; it was getting dusky ; 
the damp night-wind was beginning to blow, and the 
heavy swell of the Pacific was setting in, and breaking 
in loud and high " combers " upon the beach. We lay 
on our oars in the swell, just outside of the surf, wait- 
ing for a good chance to run in, when a boat, which 
had put off from the Ayacucho, came alongside of us, 
with a crew of dusky Sandwich-Islanders, talking and 
hallooing in their outlandish tongue. They knew that we 
were novices in this kind of boating, and waited to see 
us go in. The second mate, however, who steered our 
boat, determined to have the advantage of their experi- 
ence, and would not go in first. Finding, at length, 
how matters stood, they gave a shout, and taking ad- 
vantage of a great comber which came swelling in, rear- 
ing its head, and lifting up the sterns of our boats nearly 
perpendicular, and again dropping them in the trough, 
they gave three or four long and strong pulls, and went 
in on top of the great wave, throwing their oars over- 
board, and as far from the boat as they could throw them, 
and, jumping out the instant the boat touched the beach, 
they seized hold of her by the gunwale, on each side, 
and ran her up high and dry upon the sand. We saw, 
at once, how the thing was to be done, and also the 
necessity of keeping the boat stern out to the sea; for 
the instant the sea should strike upon her broadside or 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 71 

quarter, she would be driven up broadside on, and cap- 
sized. We pulled strongly in, and as soon as we felt 
that the sea had got hold of us, and was carrying us in 
with the speed of a race-horse, we threw the oars as 
far from the boat as we could, and took hold of the gun- 
wales, ready to spring out and seize her when she struck, 
the officer using his utmost strength, with his steering- 
oar, to keep her stern out. We were shot up upon the 
beach, and, seizing the boat, ran her up high and dry, 
and, picking up our oars, stood by her, ready for the 
captain to come down. 

Finding that the captain did not come immediately, 
we put our oars in the boat, and, leaving one to watch 
it, walked about the beach to see what we could of the 
place. The beach is nearly a mile in length between 
the two points, and of smooth sand. We had taken the 
only good landing-place, which is in the middle, it being 
more stony toward the ends. It is about twenty yards 
in width from high-water mark to a slight bank at which 
the soil begins, and so hard that it is a favorite place 
for running horses. It was growing dark, so that we 
could just distinguish the dim outlines of the two ves- 
sels in the offing ; and the great seas were rolling in in 
regular lines, growing larger and larger as they ap- 
proached the shore, and hanging over the beach upon 
which they were to break, when their tops would curl 
over and turn white with foam, and, beginning at one 
extreme of the line, break rapidly to the other, as a child's 
long card house falls when a card is knocked down at 
one end. The Sandwich-Islanders, in the mean time, 
had turned their boat round, and run her down into the 
water, and were loading her with hides and tallow. As 
this was the work in which we were soon to be engaged, 
we looked on with some curiosity. They ran the boat so 



72 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

far into the water that every large sea might float her, 
and two of them, with their trousers rolled up, stood by 
the bows, one on each side, keeping her in her right posi- 
tion. This was hard work ; for beside the force they had 
to use upon the boat, the large seas nearly took them off 
their legs. The others were running from the boat to 
the bank, upon which, out of the reach of the water, was 
a pile of dry bullocks' hides, doubled lengthwise in the 
middle, and nearly as stiff as boards. These they took 
upon their heads, one or two at a time, and carried down 
to the boat, in which one of their number stowed them 
away. They were obliged to carry them on their heads, 
to keep them out of the water and we observed that they 
had on thick woollen caps. " Look here, Bill, and see 
what you 're coming to ! " said one of our men to another 
who stood by the boat. ' Well, Dana," said the second 
mate to me, " this does not look much like Harvard 
College, does it ? But it is what I call ' head work.' ' 
To tell the truth, it did not look very encouraging. 

After they had got through with the hides, the Kana- 
kas laid hold of the bags of tallow (the bags are made 
of hide, and are about the size of a common meal-bag), 
and lifted each upon the shoulders of two men, one at 
each end, who walked off with them to the boat, when all 
prepared to go aboard. Here, too, was something for us 
to learn. The man who steered shipped his oar and stood 
up in the stern, and those that pulled the two after oars 
sat upon their benches, with their oars shipped, ready to 
strike out as soon as she was afloat. The two men re- 
mained standing at the bows ; and when, at length, a 
large sea came in and floated her, seized hold of the 
gunwales, and ran out with her till they were up to their 
armpits, and then tumbled over the gunwales into the 
bows, dripping with water. The men at the oars struck 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 73 

out, but it would n't do ; the sea swept back and left 
them nearly high and dry. The two fellows jumped out 
again ; and the next time they succeeded better, and, 
with the help of a deal of outlandish hallooing and bawl- 
ing, got her well off. We watched them till they were 
out of the breakers, and saw them steering for their 
vessel, which was now hidden in the darkness. 

The sand of the beach began to be cold to our bare 
feet; the frogs set up their croaking in the marshes, 
and one solitary owl, from the end of the distant point, 
gave out his melancholy note, mellowed by the distance, 
and we began to think that it was high time for " the old 
man," as a shipmaster is commonly called, to come down. 
In a few minutes we heard something coming towards 
us. It was a man on horseback. He came on the full 
gallop, reined up near us, addressed a few words to us, 
and, receiving no answer, wheeled round and galloped 
off again. He was nearly as dark as an Indian, with a 
large Spanish hat, blanket cloak or scrape, and leather 
leggins, with a long knife stuck in them. " This is the 
seventh city that ever I was in, and no Christian one 
neither," said Bill Brown. " Stand by ! " said John, 
'* you have n't seen the worst of it yet." In the midst 
of this conversation the captain appeared ; and we winded 
the boat round, shoved her down, and prepared to go 
off. The captain, who had been on the coast before, 
and " knew the ropes," took the steering-oar, and we 
went off in the same way as the other boat. I, being the 
youngest, had the pleasure of standing at the bow, and 
getting wet through. We went off well, though the seas 
were high. Some of them lifted us up, and, sliding from 
under us, seemed to let us drop through the air like a 
flat plank upon the body of the water. In a few minutes 
we were in the low, regular swell, and pulled for a light, 



74 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

which, as we neared it, we found had been run up to 
Dur trysail gaff. 

Coming aboard, we hoisted up all the boats, and, div- 
ing down into the forecastle, changed our wet clothes, 
and got our supper. After supper the sailors lighted 
their pipes (cigars, those of us who had them), and we 
had to tell all we had seen ashore. Then followed con- 
jectures about the people ashore, the length of the voy- 
age, carrying hides, &c., &c., until eight bells, when all 
hands were called aft, and the " anchor watch " set. We 
were to stand two in a watch, and, as the nights were 
pretty long, two hours were to make a watch. The 
second mate was to keep the deck until eight o'clock, 
all hands were to be called at daybreak, and the word 
was passed to keep a bright lookout, and to call the mate 
if it should come on to blow from the southeast. We 
had, also, orders to strike the bells every half-hour 
through the night, as at sea. My watchmate was John, 
the Swedish sailor, and we stood from twelve to two, 
he walking the larboard side and I the starboard. At 
daylight all hands were called, and we went through the 
usual process of washing down, swabbing, &c., and got 
breakfast at eight o'clock. In the course of the fore- 
noon, a boat went aboard of the Ayacucho and brought 
off a quarter of beef, which made us a fresh bite for 
dinner. This we were glad enough to have, and the 
mate told us that w r e should live upon fresh beef while 
we were on the coast, as it was cheaper here than the 
salt. While at dinner, the cook called " Sail ho ! " and, 
coming on deck, we saw two sails bearing round the 
point. One was a large ship under top-gallant sails, 
and the other a small hermaphrodite brig. They both 
backed their topsails and sent boats aboard of us. The 
ship's colors had puzzled us, and we found that she was 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 75 

from Genoa, with an assorted cargo, and was trading on 
the coast. She filled away again, and stood out, being 
bound up the coast to San Francisco. The crew of the 
brig's boat were Sandwich-Islanders, but one of them, 
who spoke a little English, told us that she was the 
Loriotte, Captain Nye, from Oahu, and was engaged in 
the hide and tallow trade. She was a lump of a thing, 
what the sailors call a butter-box. This vessel, as well 
as the Ayacucho, and others which we afterwards saw 
engaged in the same trade, have English or Americans 
for officers, and two or three before the mast to do the 
work upon the rigging, and to be relied upon for sea- 
manship, while the rest of the crew are Sandwich- 
Islanders, who are active and very useful in boating. 

The three captains went ashore after dinner, and came 
off again at night. When in port, everything is attended 
to by the chief mate ; the captain, unless he is also super- 
cargo, has little to do, and is usually ashore much of his 
time. This we thought would be pleasanter for us, as 
the mate was a good-natured man, and not very strict. 
So it was for a time, but we were worse off in the 
end ; for wherever the captain is a severe, energetic 
man, and the mate has neither of these qualities, there 
will always be trouble. And trouble we had already 
begun to anticipate. The captain had several times found 
fault with the mate, in presence of the crew ; and hints 
had been dropped that all was not right between them. 
When this is the case, and the captain suspects that his 
chief officer is too easy and familiar with the crew, he 
begins to interfere in all the duties, and to draw the 
reins more taut, and the crew have to suffer. 




CHAPTER 
X 



1 



"\HIS night, after sundown, it looked black at 
the southward and eastward, and we were 
told to keep a bright lookout. Expecting 
to be called, we turned in early. Waking up about mid- 
night, I found a man who had just come down from 
his watch striking a light. He said that it was begin- 
ning to puff from the southeast, that the sea was rolling 
in, and he had called the captain : and as he threw him- 
self down on his chest with all his clothes on, I knew 
that he expected to be called. I felt the vessel pitching 
at her anchor, and the chain surging and snapping, and 
lay awake, prepared for an instant summons. In a few 
minutes it came, three knocks on the scuttle, and " All 
hands ahoy ! bear-a-hand * up and make sail." We 
sprang for our clothes, and were about half dressed, 
when the mate called out, down the scuttle, " Tumble 
up here, men ! tumble up ! before she drags her anchor." 
We were on deck in an instant. " Lay aloft and loose 
the topsails ! " shouted the captain, as soon as the first 
man showed himself. Springing into the rigging, I saw 
that the Ayacucho's topsails were loosed, and heard her 



1 "Bear-a-hand" is to make haste. 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 77 

crew singing out at the sheets as they were hauling them 
home. This had probably started our captain ; as " Old 
Wilson" (the captain of the Ayacucho) had been many 
years on the coast, and knew the signs of the weather. 
We soon had the topsails loosed; and one hand remain- 
ing, as usual, in each top, to overhaul the rigging and 
light the sail out, the rest of us came down to man the 
sheets. While sheeting home, we saw the Ayacucho 
standing athwart our hawse, sharp upon the wind, cut- 
ting through the head seas like a knife, with her raking 
masts, and her sharp bows running up like the head of a 
greyhound. It was a beautiful sight. She was like a 
bird which had been frightened and had spread her wings 
in flight. After our topsails had been sheeted home, the 
head yards braced aback, the fore-topmast staysail hoisted, 
and the buoys streamed, and all ready forward for slip- 
ping, we went aft and manned the slip-rope which came 
through the stern port with a turn round the timber- 
heads. " All ready forward ? " asked the captain. " Aye, 
aye, sir ; all ready," answered the mate. " Let go ! " 
" All gone, sir " ; and the chain cable grated over the 
windlass and through the hawse-hole, and the little ves- 
sel's head swinging off from the wind under the force 
of her backed head sails brought the strain upon the 
slip-rope. " Let go aft ! " Instantly all was gone, and 
we were under way. As soon as she was well off from 
the wind, we filled away the head yards, braced all up 
sharp, set the foresail and trysail, and left our anchor- 
age well astern, giving the point a good berth. " Nye 's 
off too," said the captain to the mate; and, looking 
astern, we could just see the little hermaphrodite brig 
under sail, standing after us. 

It now began to blow fresh ; the rain fell fast, and it 
grew black; but the captain would not take in sail until 



78 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

we were well clear of the point. As soon as we left this 
on our quarter, and were standing out to sea, the order 
was given, and we went aloft, double-reefed each top- 
sail, furled the foresail, and double-reefed the trysail, and 
were soon under easy sail. In these cases of slipping for 
southeasters there is nothing to be done, after you have 
got clear of the coast, but to lie-to under easy sail, and 
wait for the gale to be over, which seldom lasts more 
than two days, and is sometimes over in twelve hours ; 
but the wind never comes back to the southward until 
there has a good deal of rain fallen. " Go below the 
watch," said the mate ; but here was a dispute which 
watch it should be. The mate soon settled it by sending 
his watch below, saying that we should have our turn 
the next time we got under way. We remained on deck- 
till the expiration of the watch, the wind blowing very 
fresh and the rain coming down in torrents. When the 
watch came up, we wore ship, and stood on the other 
tack, in towards land. When we came up again, which 
was at four in the morning, it was very dark, and there 
was not much wind, but it was raining as I thought I 
had never seen it rain before. We had on oil-cloth suits 
and southwester caps, and had nothing to do but to 
stand bolt upright and let it pour down upon us. There 
are no umbrellas, and no sheds to go under, at sea. 

While we were standing about on deck, we saw the 
little brig drifting by us, hove to under her fore topsail 
double reefed ; and she glided by like a phantom. Not 
a word was spoken, and we saw no one on deck but the 
man at the wheel. Toward morning the captain put 
his head out of the companion-way and told the second 
mate, who commanded our watch, to look out for a 
change of wind, which usually followed a calm, with 
heavy rain. It was well that he did; for in a few 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 79 

minutes it fell dead calm, the vessel lost her steerage- 
way, the rain ceased, we hauled up the trysail and courses, 
squared the after-yards, and waited for the change, which 
came in a few minutes, with a vengeance, from the 
northwest, the opposite point of the compass. Owing 
to our precautions, we were not taken aback, but ran 
before the wind with square yards. The captain coming 
on deck, we braced up a little and stood back for our 
anchorage. With the change of wind came a change 
of weather, and in two hours the wind moderated into 
the light steady breeze, which blows down the coast the 
greater part of the year, and, from its regularity, might 
be called a trade-wind. The sun came up bright, and 
we set royals, skysails and studding-sails, and were under 
fair way for Santa Barbara. The little Loriotte was 
astern of us, nearly out of sight ; but we saw nothing of 
the Ayacucho. In a short time she appeared, standing 
out from Santa Rosa Island, under the lee of which she 
had been hove to all night. Our captain was eager to 
get in before her, for it would be a great credit to us, on 
the coast, to beat the Ayacucho, which had been called 
the best sailer in the North Pacific, in which she had 
been known as a trader for six years or more. We had 
an advantage over her in light winds, from our royals 
and skysails which we carried both at the fore and main, 
and also from our studding-sails ; for Captain Wilson car- 
ried nothing above top-gallant-sails, and always unbent 
his studding-sails when on the coast. As the wind was 
light and fair, we held our own, for some time, when we 
were both obliged to brace up and come upon a taut 
bowline, after rounding the point ; and here he had us 
on his own ground, and walked away from us, as you 
would haul in a line. He afterwards said that we sailed 
well enough with the wind free, but that give him a taut 



80 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

bowline, and he would beat us, if we had all the canvas 
of the Royal George. 

The Ayacucho got to the anchoring ground about half 
an hour before us, and was furling her sails when we 
came to it. This picking up your cables is a nice piece 
of work. It requires some seamanship to do it, and to 
come-to at your former moorings, without letting go 
another anchor. Captain Wilson was remarkable, among 
the sailors on the coast, for his skill in doing this; and 
our captain never let go a second anchor during all the 
time that I was with him. Coming a little to windward 
of our buoy, we clewed up the light sails, backed our 
main topsail, and lowered a boat, which pulled off, and 
made fast a spare hawser to the buoy on the end of the 
slip-rope. We brought the other end to the capstan, 
and hove in upon it until we came to the slip-rope, which 
we took to the windlass, and walked her up to her chain, 
occasionally helping her by backing and filling the sails. 
The chain is then passed through the hawse-hole and 
round the windlass, and bitted, the slip-rope taken round 
outside and brought into the stern port, and she is safe 
in her old berth. After we had got through, the mate 
told us that this was a small touch of California, the like 
of which we must expect to have through the winter. 

After we had furled the sails and got dinner, we saw 
the Loriotte nearing, and she had her anchor before 
night. At sundown we went ashore again, and found 
the Loriotte's boat waiting on the beach. The Sandwich- 
Islander who could speak English told us that he had 
been up to the town ; that our agent, Mr. Robinson, and 
some other passengers, were going to Monterey with us, 
and that we were to sail the same night. In a few 
minutes Captain Thompson, with two gentlemen and a 
lady, came down, and we got ready to go off. They 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 81 

had a good deal of baggage, which we put into the 
bows of the boat, and then two of us took the senora in 
our arms, and waded with her through the water, and 
put her down safely in the stern. She appeared much 
amused with the transaction, and her husband was per- 
fectly satisfied, thinking any arrangement good which 
saved his wetting his feet. I pulled the after oar, so 
that I heard the conversation, and learned that one of 
the men, who, as well as I could see in the darkness, 
was a young-looking man, in the European dress, and 
covered up in a large cloak, was the agent of the firm to 
which our vessel belonged ; and the other, who was 
dressed in the Spanish dress of the country, was a 
brother of our captain, who had been many years a 
trader on the coast, and that the lady was his wife. She 
was a delicate, dark-complexioned young woman, of one 
of the respectable families of California. I also found 
that we were to sail the same night. 

As soon as we got on board, the boats were hoisted 
up, the sails loosed, the windlass manned, the slip-ropes 
and gear cast off; and after about twenty minutes of 
heaving at the windlass, making sail, and bracing yards, 
we were well under way, and going with a fair wind 
up the coast to Monterey. The Loriotte got under way 
at the same time, and was also bound up to Monterey, 
but as she took a different course from us, keeping the 
land aboard, while we kept well out to sea, we soon lost 
sight of her. We had a fair wind, which is something 
unusual when going up, as the prevailing wind is the 
north, which blows directly down the coast ; whence the 
northern are called the windward, and the southern the 
leeward ports. 




XI 



WE got clear of the islands before sunrise the 
next morning, and by twelve o'clock were 
out of the canal, and off Point Conception, 
the place where we first made the land upon our arrival. 
This is the largest point on the coast, and is an unin- 
habited headland, stretching out into the Pacific, and has 
the reputation of being very windy. Any vessel does 
well which gets by it without a gale, especially in the 
winter season. We were going along with studding- 
sails set on both sides, when, as we came round the point, 
we had to haul our wind, and take in the lee studding- 
sails. As the brig came more upon the wind, she felt 
it more, and we doused the skysails, but kept the weather 
studding-sails on her, bracing the yards forward, so that 
the swinging-boom nearly touched the spritsail yard. She 
now lay over to it, the wind was freshening, and the 
captain was evidently " dragging on to her." His brother 
and Mr. Robinson, looking a little disturbed, said some- 
thing to him, but he only answered that he knew the 
vessel and what she would carry. He was evidently 
showing off, and letting them know how he could carry 
sail. He stood up to windward, holding on by the back- 
stays, and looking up at the sticks to see how much they 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 83 

would bear, when a puff came which settled the matter. 
Then it was " haul down " and " clew up " royals, flying- 
jib, and studding-sails, all at once. There was what the 
sailors call a " mess," everything let go, nothing hauled 
in, and everything flying. The poor Mexican woman 
came to the companion-way, looking as pale as a ghost, 
and nearly frightened to death. The mate and some men 
forward were trying to haul in the lower studding-sail, 
which had blown over the spritsail yard-arm and round 
the guys, while the topmast-studding-sail boom, after 
buckling up and springing out again like a piece of 
whalebone, broke off at the boom-iron. I jumped aloft 
to take in the main top-gallant studding-sail, but before 
I got into the top the tack parted, and away went the 
sail, swinging forward of the top-gallant-sail, and tear- 
ing and slatting itself to pieces. The halyards were at 
this moment let go by the run, and such a piece of 
work I never had before in taking in a sail. After great 
exertions I got it, or the remains of it, into the top, and 
was making it fast, when the captain, looking up, called 
out to me, " Lay aloft there, Dana, and furl that main 
royal." Leaving the studding-sail, I went up to the cross- 
trees ; and here it looked rather squally. The foot of 
the top-gallant-mast was working between the cross and 
trussel trees, and the mast lay over at a fearful angle 
with the topmast below, while everything was working 
and cracking, strained to the utmost. 

There 's nothing for Jack to do but to obey orders, 
and I went up upon the yard; and there was a worse 
mess, if possible, than I had left below. The braces had 
been let go, and the yard was swinging about like a 
turnpike gate, and the whole sail, having blown out to lee- 
ward, the lee leach was over the yard-arm, and the sky- 
sail was all adrift and flying about my head. I looked 



84 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

down, but it was in vain to attempt to make myself 
heard, for every one was busy below, and the wind 
roared, and sails were flapping in all directions. For- 
tunately, it was noon and broad daylight, and the man 
at the wheel, who had his eyes aloft, soon saw my dif- 
ficulty, and after numberless signs and gestures got some 
one to haul the necessary ropes taut. During this in- 
terval I took a look below. Everything was in confu- 
sion on deck ; the little vessel was tearing through the 
water as if she had lost her wits, the seas flying over 
her, and the masts leaning over at a wide angle from 
the vertical. At the other royal-mast-head was Stimson, 
working away at the sail, which was blowing from him 
as fast as he could gather it in. The top-gallant sail 
below me Was soon clewed up, which relieved the mast, 
and in a short time I got my sail furled, and went 
below ; but I lost overboard a new tarpaulin hat, which 
troubled me more than anything else. We worked for 
about half an hour with might and main ; and in an 
hour from the time the squall struck us, from having 
all our flying kites abroad, we came down to double- 
reefed topsails and the storm-sails. 

The wind had hauled ahead during the squall, and we 
were standing directly in for the point. So, as soon as 
we had got all snug, we wore round and stood off again, 
and had the pleasant prospect of beating up to Mon- 
terey, a distance of a hundred miles, against a violent 
head wind. Before night it began to rain ; and we had 
five days of rainy, stormy weather, under close sail all 
the time, and were blown several hundred miles off the 
coast. In the midst of this, we discovered that our fore 
topmast was sprung (which no doubt happened in the 
squall), and were obliged to send down the fore top- 
gallant-mast and carry as little sail as possible forward. 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 85 

Our four passengers were dreadfully sea-sick, so that we 
saw little or nothing of them during the five days. On 
the sixth day it cleared off, and the sun came out bright, 
but the wind and sea were still very high. It was quite 
like being in mid-ocean again ; no land for hundreds of 
miles, and the captain taking the sun every day at noon. 
Our passengers now made their appearance, and I had 
for the first time the opportunity of seeing what a mis- 
erable and forlorn creature a sea-sick passenger is. Since 
I had got over my own sickness, the third day from 
Boston, I had seen nothing but hale, hearty men, with 
their sea legs on, and able to go anywhere (for we had 
no passengers on our voyage out) ; and I will own there 
was a pleasant feeling of superiority in being able to 
walk the deck, and eat, and go aloft, and compare one's 
self with two poor, miserable, pale creatures, staggering 
and shuffling about decks, or holding on and looking up 
with giddy heads, to see us climbing to the mast-heads, 
or sitting quietly at work on the ends of the lofty yards. 
A well man at sea has little sympathy with one who is 
sea-sick; he is apt to be too conscious of a comparison 
which seems favorable to his own manhood. 

After a few days we made the land at Point Finos, 
which is the headland at the entrance of the bay of 
Monterey. As we drew in and ran down the shore, we 
could distinguish well the face of the country, and found 
it better wooded than that to the southward of Point 
Conception. In fact, as I afterwards discovered, Point 
Conception may be made the dividing-line between two 
different faces of the country. As you go to the north- 
ward of the point, the country becomes more wooded, 
has a richer appearance, and is better supplied with 
water. This is the case with Monterey, and still more 
so with San Francisco; while to the southward of the 



86 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

point, as at Santa Barbara, San Pedro, and particularly 
San Diego, there is very little wood, and the country 
has a naked, level appearance, though it is still fertile. 

The bay of Monterey is wide at the entrance, being 
about twenty-four miles between the two points, Ano 
Nuevo at the north, and Pinos at the south, but narrows 
gradually as you approach the town, which is situated 
in a bend, or large cove, at the southeastern extremity, 
and from the points about eighteen miles, which is the 
whole depth of the bay. The shores are extremely well 
wooded (the pine abounding upon them), and as it was 
now the rainy season, everything was as green as nature 
could make it, the grass, the leaves, and all ; the birds 
were singing in the woods, and great numbers of wild 
fowl were flying over our heads. Here we could lie 
safe from the southeasters. We came to anchor within 
two cable lengths of the shore, and the town lay directly 
before us, making a very pretty appearance; its houses 
being of whitewashed adobe, which gives a much better 
effect than those of Santa Barbara, which are mostly left 
of a mud color. The red tiles, too, on the roofs, con- 
trasted well with the white sides, and with the extreme 
greenness of the lawn upon which the houses about a 
hundred in number were dotted about, here and there, 
irregularly. There are in this place, and in every other 
town which I saw in California, no streets nor fences 
(except that here and there a small patch might be fenced 
in for a garden), so that the houses are placed at random 
upon the green. This, as they are of one story, and of 
the cottage form, gives them a pretty effect when seen 
from a little distance. 

It was a fine Saturday afternoon that we came to 
anchor, the sun about an hour high, and everything look- 
ing pleasantly. The Mexican flag was flying from the 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 87 

little square Presidio, and the drums and trumpets of the 
soldiers, who were out on parade, sounded over the water, 
and gave great life to the scene. Every one was de- 
lighted with the appearance of things. We felt as though 
we had got into a Christian (which in the sailor's vocabu- 
lary means civilized) country. The first impression which 
California had made upon us was very disagreeable, 
the open roadstead of Santa Barbara ; anchoring three 
miles from the shore; running out to sea before every 
southeaster ; landing in a high surf ; with a little dark- 
looking town, a mile from the beach; and not a sound 
to be heard, nor anything to be seen, but Kanakas, hides, 
and tallow-bags. Add to this the gale off Point Con- 
ception, and no one can be at a loss to account for our 
agreeable disappointment in Monterey. Besides, we soon 
learned, which was of no small importance to us, that 
there was little or no surf here, and this afternoon the 
beach was as smooth as a pond. 

We landed the agent and passengers, and found sev- 
eral persons waiting for them on the beach, among whom 
were some who, though dressed in the costume of the 
country, spoke English, and who, we afterwards learned, 
were English and Americans who had married and settled 
here. 

I also connected with our arrival here another circum- 
stance which more nearly concerns myself; viz., my first 
act of what the sailors will allow to be seamanship, 
sending down a royal-yard. I had seen it done once or 
twice at sea ; and an old sailor, whose favor I had taken 
some pains to gain, had taught me carefully everything 
which was necessary to be done, and in its proper order, 
and advised me to take the first opportunity when we 
were in port, and try it. I told the second mate, with 
whom I had been pretty thick when he wa* before the 



88 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

mast, that I could do it, and got him to ask the mate 
to send me up the first time the royal-yards were struck. 
Accordingly, I was called upon, and went aloft, repeating 
the operations over in my mind, taking care to get each 
thing in its order, for the slightest mistake spoils the 
whole. Fortunately, I got through without any word 
from the officer, and heard the " well done " of the mate, 
when the yard reached the deck, with as much satisfac- 
tion as I ever felt at Cambridge on seeing a " bene " at 
the foot of a Latin exercise. 




CHAPTER 
XII 



I 



next day being Sunday, which is the 
liberty-day among merchantmen, when it is 
usual to let a part of the crew go ashore, the 
sailors had depended upon a holiday, and were already 
disputing who should ask to go, when, upon being called 
in the morning, we were turned-to upon the rigging, and 
found that the top-mast, which had been sprung, was to 
come down, and a new one to go up, with top-gallant 
and royal masts, and the rigging to be set. This was too 
bad. If there is anything that irritates sailors, and makes 
them feel hardly used, it is being deprived of their Sun- 
day. Not that they would always, or indeed generally, 
spend it improvingly, but it is their only day of rest. 
Then, too, they are so often necessarily deprived of it 
by storms, and unavoidable duties of all kinds, that to 
take it from them when lying quietly and safely in port, 
without any urgent reason, bears the more hardly. The 
only reason in this case was, that the captain had deter- 
mined to have the custom-house officers on board on 
Monday, and wished to have his brig in order. Jack is 
a slave aboard ship; but still he has many opportunities 
of thwarting and balking his master. When there is 
danger or necessity, or when he is well used, no one can 



90 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

work faster than he; but the instant he feels that he is 
kept at work for nothing, or, as the nautical phrase is, 
" Humbugged," no sloth could make less headway. He 
must not refuse his duty, or be in any way disobedient, 
but all the work that an officer gets out of him, he may 
be welcome to. Every man who has been three months 
at sea knows how to "work Tom Cox's traverse" 
" three turns round the long-boat, and a pull at the 
scuttled butt." This morning everything went in this 
way. " Sogering '' was the order of the day. Send a 
man below to get a block, and he would capsize every- 
thing before finding it, then not bring it up till an officer 
had called him twice, and take as much time to put things 
in order again. Marline-spikes were not to be found ; 
knives wanted a prodigious deal of sharpening, and, gen- 
erally, three or four were waiting round the grindstone 
ct a time. When a man got to the mast-head, he would 
come slowly down again for something he had left ; and 
after the tackles were got up, six men would pull less 
than three who pulled " with a will." When the mate 
was out of sight, nothing was done. It was all up-hill 
work ; and at eight o'clock, when we went to breakfast, 
things were nearly where they were when we began. 

During our short meal the matter was discussed. One 
proposed refusing to work; but that was mutiny, and 
of course was rejected at once. I remember, too, that 
one of the men quoted " Father Taylor " (as they call 
the seamen's preacher at Boston), who told them that, 
if they were ordered to work on Sunday, they must not 
refuse their duty, and the blame would not come upon 
them. After breakfast, it leaked out, through the offi- 
cers, that, if we would get through work soon, we might 
have a boat in the afternoon and go a-fishing. This bait 
was well thrown, and took with several who were fond 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 91 

of fishing; and all began to find that as we had one 
thing to do, and were not to be kept at work for the day, 
the sooner we did it the better. Accordingly, things took 
a new aspect ; and before two o'clock, this work, which 
was in a fair way to last two days, was done; and five 
of us went a-fishing in the jolly-boat, in the direction of 
Point Pinos; but leave to go ashore was refused. Here 
we saw the Loriotte, which sailed with us from Santa 
Barbara, coming slowly in with a light sea-breeze, which 
sets in towards afternoon, having been becalmed off the 
point all the first part of the day. We took several fish 
of various kinds, among which cod and perch abounded, 
and Foster (the ci-devant second mate), who was of our 
number, brought up with his hook a large and beautiful 
pearl-oyster shell. We afterwards learned that this place 
was celebrated for shells, and that a small schooner had 
made a good voyage by carrying a cargo of them to the 
United States. 

We returned bv sundown, and found the Loriotte at 

j 

anchor within a cable's length of the Pilgrim. The next 
day we were " turned-to " early, and began taking off 
the hatches, overhauling the cargo, and getting every- 
thing ready for inspection. At eight, the officers of the 
customs, five in number, came on board, and began ex- 
amining the cargo, manifest, &c. The Mexican revenue 
laws are very strict, and require the whole cargo to be 
landed, examined, and taken on board again ; but our 
agent had succeeded in compounding for the last two 
vessels, and saving the trouble of taking the cargo ashore. 
The officers were dressed in the costume which we found 
prevailed through the country, broad-brimmed hat, 
usually of a black or dark brown color, with a gilt or 
figured band round the crown, and lined under the rim 
with silk; a short jacket of silk, or figured calico (the 



92 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

European skirted body-coat is never worn) ; the shirt 
open in the neck ; rich waistcoat, if any ; pantaloons open 
at the sides below the knee, laced with gilt, usually of 
velveteen or broadcloth ; or else short breeches and white 
stockings. They wear the deer-skin shoe, which is of a 
dark brown color, and (being made by Indians) usually 
a good deal ornamented. They have no suspenders, but 
always wear a sash round the waist, which is generally 
red, and varying in quality with the means of the wearer. 
Add to this the never-failing poncho, or the serapa, and 
you have the dress of the Calif ornian. This last garment 
is always a mark of the rank and wealth of the owner. 
The gente de rason, or better sort of people, wear cloaks 
of black or dark blue broadcloth, with as much velvet 
and trimmings as may be; and from this they go down 
to the blanket of the Indian, the middle classes wearing 
a poncho, something like a large square cloth, with a hole 
in the middle for the head to go through. This is often 
as coarse as a blanket, but being beautifully woven with 
various colors, is quite showy at a distance. Among the 
Mexicans there is no working class (the Indians being 
practically serfs, and doing all the hard work) ; and 
every rich man looks like a grandee, and every poor scamp 
like a broken-down gentleman. I have often seen a man 
with a fine figure and courteous manners, dressed in 
broadcloth and velvet, with a noble horse completely 
covered with trappings, without a real in his pockets, 
and absolutely suffering for something to eat. 




CHAPTER 
XIII 



T 



next day, the cargo having been entered 
in due form, we began trading. The trade- 
room was fitted up in the steerage, and 
furnished out with the lighter goods, and with speci- 
mens of the rest of the cargo ; and Mellus, a young man 
who came out from Boston with us before the mast, was 
taken out of the forecastle, and made supercargo's clerk. 
He was well qualified for this business, having been clerk 
in a counting-house in Boston ; but he had been troubled 
for some time with rheumatism, which unfitted him for 
the wet and exposed duty of a sailor on the coast. For 
a week or ten days all was life on board. The people 
came off to look and to buy, men, women, and chil- 
dren ; and we were continually going in the boats, carry- 
ing goods and passengers, for they have no boats of 
their own. Everything must dress itself and come aboard 
and see the new vessel, if it were only to buy a paper of 
pins. The agent and his clerk managed the sales, while 
we were busy in the hold or in the boats. Our cargo was 
an assorted one ; that is, it consisted of everything under 
the sun. We had spirits of all kinds (sold by the cask), 
teas, coffee, sugars, spices, raisins, molasses, hardware, 
crockery-ware, tin-ware, cutlery, clothing of all kinds, 



94 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

boots and shoes from Lynn, calicoes and cotton from 
Lowell, crapes, silks; also, shawls, scarfs, necklaces, jew- 
elry, and combs for the women ; furniture ; and, in fact, 
everything that can be imagined, from Chinese fireworks 
to English cart-wheels, of which we had a dozen pairs 
with their iron tires on. 

The Californians are an idle, thriftless people, and can 
make nothing for themselves. The country abounds in 
grapes, yet they buy, at a great price, bad wine made in 
Boston and brought round by us, and retail it among 
themselves at a real (i2 l / 2 cents) by the small wine- 
glass. Their hides, too, which they value at two dollars 
in money, they barter for something which costs seventy- 
five cents in Boston; and buy shoes (as like as not made 
of their own hides, which have been carried twice round 
Cape Horn) at three and four dollars, and " chicken- 
skin boots " at fifteen dollars a pair. Things sell, on an 
average, at an advance of nearly three hundred per cent 
upon the Boston prices. This is partly owing to the heavy 
duties which the government, in their wisdom, with an idea, 
no doubt, of keeping the silver in the country, has laid 
upon imports. These duties, and the enormous expenses 
of so long a voyage, keep all merchants but those of heavy 
capital from engaging in the trade. Nearly two thirds of 
all the articles imported into the country from round Cape 
Horn, for the last six years, have been by the single house 
of Bryant, Sturgis, & Co., to whom our vessel belonged. 

This kind of business was new to us, and we liked it 
very well for a few days, though we were hard at work 
every minute from daylight to dark, and sometimes even 
later. 

By being thus continually engaged in transporting pas- 
sengers, with their goods, to and fro, we gained consid- 
erable knowledge of the character, dress, and language 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 95 

of the people. The dress of the men was as I have be- 
fore described it. The women wore gowns of various 
texture, silks, crape, calicoes, &c., made after the 
European style, except that the sleeves were short, leav- 
ing the arm bare, and that they were loose about the 
waist, corsets not being in use. They wore shoes of kid 
or satin, sashes or belts of bright colors, and almost al- 
ways a necklace and ear-rings. Bonnets they had none. 
I only saw one on the coast, and that belonged to the 
wife of an American sea-captain who had settled in San 
Diego, and had imported the chaotic mass of straw and 
ribbon, as a choice present to his new wife. They wear 
their hair (which is almost invariably black, or a very 
dark brown) long in their necks, sometimes loose, and 
sometimes in long braids; though the married women 
often do it up on a high comb. Their only protection 
against the sun and weather is a large mantle which they 
put over their heads, drawing it close round their faces, 
when they go out of doors, which is generally only in 
pleasant weather. When in the house, or sitting out in 
front of it, which they often do in fine weather, they 
usually wear a small scarf or neckerchief of a rich pat- 
tern. A band, also, about the top of the head, with a 
cross, star, or other ornament in front, is common. Their 
complexions are various, depending as well as their 
dress and manner upon the amount of Spanish blood 
they can lay claim to, which also settles their social 
rank. Those who are of pure Spanish blood, having 
never intermarried with the aborigines, have clear bru- 
nette complexions, and sometimes even as fair as those 
of English women. There are but few of these families 
in California, being mostly those in official stations, or 
who, on the expiration of their terms of office, have set- 
tled here upon property they have acquired; and others 



96 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

who have been banished for state offences. These form 
the upper class, intermarrying, and keeping up an 
exclusive system in every respect. They can be distin- 
guished, not only by their complexion, dress, and man- 
ners, but also by their speech ; for, calling themselves 
Castilians, they are very ambitious of speaking the pure 
Castilian, while all Spanish is spoken in a somewhat cor- 
rupted dialect by the lower classes. From this upper 
class, they go down by regular shades, growing more and 
more dark and muddy, until you come to the pure Indian, 
who runs about with nothing upon him but a small piece 
of cloth, kept up by a wide leather strap drawn round 
his waist. Generally speaking, each person's caste is 
decided by the quality of the blood, which shows itself, 
too plainly to be concealed, at first sight. Yet the least 
drop of Spanish blood, if it be only of quadroon or octo- 
roon, is sufficient to raise one from the position of a 
serf, and entitle him to wear a suit of clothes, boots, 
hat, cloak, spurs, long knife, all complete, though coarse 
and dirty as may be, and to call himself Espanol, and 
to hold property, if he can get any. 

The fondness for dress among the women is excessive, 
and is sometimes their ruin. A present of a fine mantle, 
or of a necklace or pair of ear-rings, gains the favor of the 
greater part. Nothing is more common than to see a 
woman living in a house of only two rooms, with the 
ground for a floor, dressed in spangled satin shoes, silk 
gown, high comb, and gilt, if not gold, ear-rings and 
necklace. If their husbands do not dress them well 
enough, they will soon receive presents from others. 
They used to spend whole days on board our vessel, ex- 
amining the fine clothes and ornaments, and frequently 
making purchases at a rate which would have made a 
seamstress or waiting-maid in Boston open her eyes. 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 97 

Xext to the love of dress, I was most struck with the 
fineness of the voices and beauty of the intonations of 
both sexes. Every common ruffian-looking fellow, with 
a slouched hat, blanket cloak, dirty under-dress, and soiled 
leather leggins, appeared to me to be speaking elegant 
Spanish. It was a pleasure simply to listen to the sound 
of the language, before I could attach any meaning to 
it. They have a good deal of the Creole drawl, but it 
is varied by an occasional extreme rapidity of utterance, 
in which they seem to skip from consonant to consonant, 
until, lighting upon a broad, open vowel, they rest upon 
that to restore the balance of sound. The women carry 
this peculiarity of speaking to a much greater extreme 
than the men, who have more evenness and stateliness of 
utterance. A common bullock-driver, on horseback, de- 
livering a. message, seemed to speak like an ambassador 
at a royal audience. In fact, they sometimes appeared 
to me to be a people on whom a curse had fallen, and 
stripped them of everything but their pride, their man- 
ners, and their voices. 

Another thing that surprised me was the quantity of 
silver in circulation. I never, in my life, saw so much 
silver at one time, as during the week that we were at 
Monterey. The truth is, they have no credit system, no 
banks, and no way of investing money but in cattle. 
Besides silver, they have no circulating medium but hides, 
which the sailors call " California bank-notes." Every- 
thing that they buy they must pay for by one or the 
other of these means. The hides they bring down dried 
and doubled, in clumsy ox-carts, or upon mules' backs, 
and the money they carry tied up in a handkerchief, fifty 
or a hundred dollars and half-dollars. 

I had not studied Spanish at college, and could not 
speak a word when at Juan Fernandez ; but, during the 



98 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

latter part of the passage out, I borrowed a grammar 
and dictionary from the cabin, and by a continual use 
of these, and a careful attention to every word that I 
heard spoken, I soon got a vocabulary together, and 
began talking for myself. As I soon knew more Spanish 
than any of the crew (who, indeed, knew none at all), 
and had studied Latin and French, I got the name of a 
great linguist, and was always sent by the captain and 
officers for provisions, or to take letters and messages to 
different parts of the town. I was often sent for some- 
thing which I could not tell the name of to save my life ; 
but I liked the business, and accordingly never pleaded 
ignorance. Sometimes I managed to jump below and 
take a look at my dictionary before going ashore ; or else 
I overhauled some English resident on my way, and 
learned the word from him ; and then, by signs, and by 
giving a Latin or French word a twist at the end, con- 
trived to get along. This was a good exercise for me, 
and no doubt taught me more than I should have learned 
by months of study and reading ; it also gave me oppor- 
tunities of seeing the customs, characters, and domestic 
arrangements of the people, beside being a great relief 
from the monotony of a day spent on board ship. 

Monterey, as far as my observation goes, is decidedly 
the pleasantest and most civilized-looking place in Cali- 
fornia. In the centre of it is an open square, surrounded 
by four lines of one-story buildings, with half a dozen 
cannon in the centre; some mounted, and others not. 
This is the Presidio, or fort. Every town has a presidio 
in its centre ; or rather every presidio has a town built 
around it; for the forts were first built by the Mexican 
government, and then the people built near them, fof 
protection. The presidio here was entirely open and un- 
fortified. There were several officers with long titles, and 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 99 

about eighty soldiers, but they were poorly paid, fed, 
clothed, and disciplined. The governor-general, or, as he 
is commonly called, the " general," lives here, which makes 
it the seat of government. He is appointed by the cen- 
tral government at Mexico, and is the chief civil and 
military officer. In addition to him, each town has a 
commandant who is its chief officer, and has charge of the 
fort, and of all transactions with foreigners and foreign 
vessels; while two or three alcaldes and corregidores, 
elected by the inhabitants, are the civil officers. Courts 
strictly of law, with a system of jurisprudence, they have 
not. Small municipal matters are regulated by the al- 
caldes and corregidores, and everything relating to the 
general government, to the military, and to foreigners, 
by the commandants, acting under the governor-general. 
Capital cases are decided by the latter, upon personal 
inspection, if near; or upon minutes sent him by the 
proper officers, if the offender is at a distant place. No 
Protestant has any political rights, nor can he hold prop- 
erty, or, indeed, remain more than a few weeks on shore, 
unless he belong to a foreign vessel. Consequently. 
Americans and English, who intend to reside here, be- 
come Papists, the current phrase among them being, 
" A man must leave his conscience at Cape Horn." 

But, to return to Monterey. The houses here, as 
everywhere else in California, are of one story, built of 
adobes, that is, clay made into large bricks, about a foot 
and a half square, and three or four inches thick, and 
hardened in the sun. These are joined together by a 
cement of the same material, and the whole are of a 
common dirt-color. The floors are generally of earth, 
the windows grated and without glass; and the doors, 
which are seldom shut, open directly into the common 
room, there being no entries. Some of the more wealthy 



ioo TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

inhabitants have glass to their windows and board floois; 
and in Monterey nearly all the houses are whitewashed 
on the outside. The better houses, too, have red tiles 
upon the roofs. The common ones have two or three 
rooms which open into each other, and are furnished with 
a bed or two, a few chairs and tables, a looking-glass, a 
crucifix, and small daubs of paintings enclosed in glass, 
representing some miracle or martyrdom. They have no 
chimneys or fireplaces in the houses, the climate being 
such as to make a fire unnecessary ; and all their cooking 
is done in a small kitchen, separated from the house. The 
Indians, as I have said before, do all the hard work, two 
or three being attached to the better house ; and the poor- 
est persons are able to keep one, at least, for they have 
only to feed them, and give them a small piece of coarse 
cloth and a belt for the men, and a coarse gown, without 
shoes or stockings, for the women. 

In Monterey there are a number of English and Ameri- 
cans (English or Ingles all are called who speak the Eng- 
lish language) who have married Californians, become 
united to the Roman Church, and acquired considerable 
property. Having more industry, frugality, and enter- 
prise than the natives, they soon get nearly all the trade 
into their hands. They usually keep shops, in which they 
retail the goods purchased in larger quantities from our 
vessels, and also send a good deal into the interior, taking 
hides in pay, which they again barter with our ships. In 
every town on the coast there are foreigners engaged in 
this kind of trade, while I recollect but two shops kept by 
natives. The people are naturally suspicious of foreigners, 
and they would not be allowed to remain, were it not that 
they conform to the Church, and by marrying natives, 
and bringing up their children as Roman Catholics and 
Mexicans, and not teaching them the English language, 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 101 

they quiet suspicion, and even become popular and lead- 
ing men. The chief alcaldes in Monterey and Santa Bar- 
bara were Yankees by birth. 

The men in Monterey appeared to me to be always on 
horseback. Horses are as abundant here as dogs and 
chickens were in Juan Fernandez. There are no stables 
to keep them in, but they are allowed to run wild and 
graze wherever they please, being branded, and having 
long leather ropes, called lassos, attached to their necks 
and dragging along behind them, by which they can be 
easily taken. The men usually catch one in the morning, 
throw a saddle and bridle upon him, and use him for the 
day, and let him go at night, catching another the next 
day. When they go on long journeys, they ride one horse 
down, and catch another, throw the saddle and bridle upon 
him, and, after riding him down, take a third, and so on 
to the end of the journey. There are probably no better 
riders in the world. They are put upon a horse when 
only four or five years old, their little legs not long 
enough to come half-way over his sides, and may almost 
be said to keep on him until they have grown to him. 
The stirrups are covered or boxed up in front, to prevent 
their catching when riding through the woods ; and the 
saddles are large and heavy, strapped very tight upon the 
horse, and have large pommels, or loggerheads, in front, 
round which the lasso is coiled when not in use. They 
can hardly go from one house to another without mount- 
ing a horse, there being generally several standing tied 
to the door-posts of the little cottages. When they wish 
to show their activity, they make no use of their stirrups 
in mounting, but, striking the horse, spring into the saddle 
as he starts, and, sticking their long spurs into him, go 
off on the full run. Their spurs are cruel things, having 
four or five rowels, each an inch in length, dull and rusty. 



102 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

The flanks of the horses are often sore from them, and 
I have seen men come in from chasing bullocks, with 
their horses' hind legs and quarters covered with blood. 
They frequently give exhibitions of their horsemanship in 
races, bull-baitings, &c. ; but as we were not ashore dur- 
ing any holiday, we saw nothing of it. Monterey is also 
a great place for cock-fighting, gambling of all sorts, 
fandangos, and various kinds of amusement and knavery. 
Trappers and hunters, who occasionally arrive here 
from over the Rocky Mountains, with their valuable 
skins and furs, are often entertained with amusements 
and dissipation, until they have wasted their oppor- 
tunities and their money, and then go back, stripped of 
everything. 

Nothing but the character of the people prevents Mon- 
terey from becoming a large town. The soil is as rich 
as man could wish, climate as good as any in the world, 
water abundant, and situation extremely beautiful. The 
harbor, too, is a good one, being subject only to one bad 
wind, the north ; and though the holding-ground is not 
the best, yet I heard of but one vessel's being driven 
ashore here. That was a Mexican brig, which went ashore 
a few months before our arrival, and was a total wreck, 
all the crew but one being drowned. Yet this was owing 
to the carelessness or ignorance of the captain, who paid 
out all his small cable before he let go his other anchor. 
The ship Lagoda, of Boston, was there at the time, and 
rode out the gale in safety, without dragging at all, or 
finding it necessary to strike her top-gallant-masts. 

The only vessel in port with us was the little Loriotte. 
I frequently went on board her, and became well ac- 
quainted with her Sandwich Island crew. One of them 
could speak a little English, and from him I learned a 
good deal about them. They were well formed and ac- 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 103 

tive, with black eyes, intelligent countenances, dark olive, 
or, I should rather say, copper complexions, and coarse 
black hair, but not woolly, like the negroes. They ap- 
peared to be talking continually. In the forecastle there 
was a complete Babel. Their language is extremely gut- 
tural, and not pleasant at first, but improves as you hear 
it more; and it is said to have considerable capacity. 
They use a good deal of gesticulation, and are exceedingly 
animated, saying with their might what their tongues find 
to say. They are complete water-dogs, and therefore very 
good in boating. It is for this reason that there are so 
many of them on the coast of California, they being very 
good hands in the surf. They are also ready and active in 
the rigging, and good hands in warm weather ; but those 
who have been with them round Cape Horn, and in high 
latitudes, say that they are of little use in cold weather, 
In their dress, they are precisely like our sailors. In ad- 
dition to these Islanders, the Loriotte had two English 
sailors, who acted as boatswains over the Islanders, and 
took care of the rigging. One of them I shall always 
remember as the best specimen of the thoroughbred Eng- 
lish sailor that I ever saw. He had been to sea from a 
boy, having served a regular apprenticeship of seven 
years, as English sailors are obliged to do, and was then 
about four or five and twenty. He was tall : but you only 
perceived it when he was standing by the side of others, 
for the great breadth of his shoulders and chest made him 
appear but little above the middle height. His chest was 
as deep as it was wide, his arm like that of Hercules, and 
his hand " the fist of a tar every hair a rope-yarn. ' : 
With all this, he had one of the pleasantest smiles I ever 
saw. His cheeks were of a handsome brown, his teeth 
brilliantly white, and his hair, of a raven black, waved 
in loose curls all over his head and fine, open forehead; 



104 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

and his eyes he might have sold to a duchess at the price 
of diamonds, for their brilliancy. As for their color, 
every change of position and light seemed to give them 
a new hue ; but their prevailing color was black, or nearly 
so. Take him with his well-varnished black tarpaulin, 
stuck upon the back of his head, his long locks coming 
down almost into his eyes, his white duck trousers and 
shirt, blue jacket, and black kerchief, tied loosely round 
his neck, and he was a fine specimen of manly beauty. On 
his broad chest was stamped with India ink " Parting 
moments," a ship ready to sail, a boat on the beach, 
and a girl and her sailor lover taking their farewell. 
Underneath were printed the initials of his own name, 
and two other letters, standing for some name which he 
knew better than I. The printing was very well done, 
having been executed by a man who made it his business 
to print with India ink, for sailors, at Havre. On one of 
his broad arms he had a crucifix, and on the other, the 
sign of the " foul anchor." 

He was fond of reading, and we lent him most of the 
books which we had in the forecastle, which he read and 
returned to us the next time we fell in with him. He 
had a good deal of information, and his captain said he 
was a perfect seaman, and worth his weight in gold on 
board a vessel, in fair weather and in foul. His strength 
must have been great, and he had the sight of a vulture. 
It is strange that one should be so minute in the descrip- 
tion of an unknown, outcast sailor, whom one may never 
see again, and whom no one may care to hear about ; 
yet so it is. Some persons we see under no remarkable 
circumstances, but whom, for some reason or other, we 
never forget. He called himself Bill Jackson ; and I 
know no one of all my accidental acquaintances to whom 
I would more gladly give a shake of the hand than to 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 105 

him. Whoever falls in with him will find a handsome, 
hearty fellow, and a good shipmate. 

Sunday came again while we were at Monterey ; but, as 
before, it brought us no holiday. The people on shore 
dressed and came off in greater numbers than ever, and 
we were employed all day in boating and breaking out 
cargo, so that we had hardly time to eat. Our former 
second mate, who was determined to get liberty if it was 
to be had, dressed himself in a long coat and black hat, 
and polished his shoes, and went aft, and asked to go 
ashore. He could not have done a more imprudent thing ; 
for he knew that no liberty would be given ; and besides, 
sailors, however sure they may be of having liberty 
granted them, always go aft in their working clothes, to 
appear as though they had no reason to expect anything, 
and then wash, dress, and shave after the matter is settled. 
But this poor fellow was always getting into hot water, 
and if there was a wrong way of doing a thing, was sure 
to hit upon it. We looked to see him go aft, knowing 
pretty well what his reception would be. The captain was 
walking the quarter-deck, smoking his morning cigar, and 
Foster went as far as the break of the deck, and there 
waited for him to notice him. The captain took two or 
three turns, and then, walking directly up to him, sur- 
veyed him from head to foot, and, lifting up his forefinger, 
said a word or two, in a tone too low for us to hear, but 
which had a magical effect upon poor Foster. He walked 
forward, jumped down into the forecastle, and in a mo- 
ment more made his appearance in his common clothes, 
and went quietly to work again. What the captain said 
to him, we never could get him to tell, but it certainly 
changed him outwardly and inwardly in a surprising 
manner. 




CHAPTER 
XIV 



ATER a few days, finding the trade beginning 
to slacken, we hove our anchor up, set our 
topsails, ran the stars and stripes up to the 
peak, fired a gun, which was returned from the pre- 
sidio, and left the little town astern, standing out of 
the bay, and bearing down the coast again for Santa Bar- 
bara. As we were now going to leeward, we had a fair 
wind, and a plenty of it. After doubling Point Pinos, we 
bore up, set studding-sails alow and aloft, and were walk- 
ing off at the rate of eight or nine knots, promising to 
traverse in twenty-four hours the distance which we were 
nearly three weeks in traversing on the passage up. We 
passed Point Conception at a flying rate, the wind blowing 
so that it would have seemed half a gale to us if we had 
been going the other way and close hauled. As we drew 
near the islands of Santa Barbara, it died away a little. 
but we came-to at our old anchoring ground in less than 
thirty hours from the time of leaving Monterey. 

Here everything was pretty much as we left it, the 
large bay without a vessel in it, the surf roaring and 
rolling in upon the beach, the white Mission, the dark 
town, and the high, treeless mountains. Here, too, we 
had our southeaster tacks aboard again, slip-ropes, 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 107 

buoy-ropes, sails furled with reefs in them, and rope- 
yarns for gaskets. We lay at this place about a fortnight, 
employed in landing goods and taking off hides, occa- 
sionally, when the surf was not high; but there did not 
appear to be one half the business doing here that there 
was in Monterey. In fact, so far as we were concerned, 
the town might almost as well have been in the middle 
of the Cordilleras. We lay at a distance of three miles 
from the beach, and the town was nearly a mile farther, 
so that we saw little or nothing of it. Occasionally we 
landed a few goods, which were taken away by Indians 
in large, clumsy ox-carts, with the bow of the yoke on the 
ox's neck instead of under it, and with small solid wheels. 
A few hides were brought down, which we carried off in 
the California style. This we had now got pretty well 
accustomed to, and hardened to also ; for it does require 
a little hardening, even to the toughest. 

The hides are brought down dry, or they will not be 
received. When they are taken from the animal, they 
have holes cut in the ends, and are staked out, and thus 
dried in the sun without shrinking. They are then 
doubled once, lengthwise, with the hair side usually in, 
and sent down upon mules or in carts, and piled above 
high-water mark ; and then we take them upon our heads, 
one at a time, or two, if they are small, and wade out with 
them and throw them into the boat, which, as there are 
no wharves, we usually kept anchored by a small kedge, 
or keelek, just outside of the surf. We all provided our- 
selves with thick Scotch caps, which would be soft to the 
head, and at the same time protect it ; for we soon learned 
that, however it might look or feel at first, the " head- 
work " was the only system for California. For besides 
that the seas, breaking high, often obliged us to carry the 
hides so, in order to keep them dry, we found that, as 



io8 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

they were very large and heavy, and nearly as stiff as 
boards, it was the only way that we could carry them with 
any convenience to ourselves. Some of the crew tried 
other expedients, saying that that looked too much like 
West India negroes ; but they all came to it at last. The 
great art is in getting them on the head. We had to take 
them from the ground, and as they were often very heavy, 
and as wide as the arms could stretch, and were easily 
taken by the wind, we used to have some trouble with 
them. I have often been laughed at myself, and joined 
in laughing at others, pitching ourselves down in the sand, 
in trying to swing a large hide upon our heads, or nearly 
blown over with one in a little gust of wind. The cap- 
tain made it harder for us, by telling us that it was " Cali- 
fornia fashion " to carry two on the head at a time ; and 
as he insisted upon it, and we did not wish to be outdone 
by other vessels, we carried two for the first few months ; 
but after falling in with a few other " hide droghers," 
and finding that they carried only one at a time, we 
" knocked off " the extra one, and thus made our duty 
somewhat easier. 

After our heads had become used to the weight, and 
we had learned the true California style of tossing a hide, 
we could carry off two or three hundred in a short time, 
without much trouble ; but it was always wet work, and, 
if the beach was stony, bad for our feet ; for we, of course, 
went barefooted on this duty, as no shoes could stand such 
constant wetting with salt water. And after this, we had 
a pull of three miles, with a loaded boat, which often took 
a couple of hours. 

We had now got well settled down into our harbor 
duties, which, as they are a good deal different from 
those at sea, it may be well enough to describe. In the 
first place, all hands are called at daylight, or rather 




HIDE DKOGHING 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 109 

especially if the days are short before daylight, as soon 
as the first gray of the morning. The cook makes his fire 
in the galley ; the steward goes about his work in the 
cabin ; and the crew rig the head pump, and wash down 
the decks. The chief mate is always on deck, but takes 
no active part, all the duty coming upon the second mate, 
who has to roll up his trousers and paddle about decks 
barefooted, like the rest of the crew. The washing, swab- 
bing, squilgeeing, &c. lasts, or is made to last, until eight 
o'clock, when breakfast is ordered, fore and aft. After 
breakfast, for which half an hour is allowed, the boats 
are lowered down, and made fast astern, or out to the 
swinging booms by geswarps, and the crew are turned-to 
upon their day's work. This is various, and its character 
depends upon circumstances. There is always more or 
less of boating, in small boats ; and if heavy goods are 
to be taken ashore, or hides are brought down to the 
beach for us, then all hands are sent ashore with an 
officer in the long-boat. Then there is a good deal to be 
done in the hold, goods to be broken out, and cargo to 
be shifted, to make room for hides, or to keep the trim of 
the vessel. In addition to this, the usual work upon the 
rigging must be going on. There is much of the latter 
kind of work which can only be done when the vessel is 
in port. Everything, too, must be kept taut and in good 
order, spun-yarn made, chafing gear repaired, and all 
the other ordinary work. The great difference between 
sea and harbor duty is in the division of time. Instead of 
having a watch on deck and a watch below, as at sea, all 
hands are at work together, except at mealtimes, from day- 
light till dark ; and at night an " anchor watch " is kept, 
which, with us, consisted of only two at a time, all the 
crew taking turns. An hour is allowed for dinner, and 
at dark the decks are cleared up, the boats hoisted, suppe: 



no TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

ordered ; and at eight the lights are put out, except in the 
binnacle, where the glass stands ; and the anchor watch is 
set. Thus, when at anchor, the crew have more time at 
night (standing watch only about two hours), but have 
no time to themselves in the day ; so that reading, mend- 
ing clothes, &c., has to be put off until Sunday, which is 
usually given. Some religious captains give their crews 
Saturday afternoons to. do their washing and mending in, 
so that they may have their Sundays free. This is a good 
arrangement, and goes far to account for the preference 
sailors usually show for vessels under such command. We 
were well satisfied if we got even Sunday to ourselves ; 
for, if any hides came down on that day, as was often the 
case when they were brought from a distance, we were 
obliged to take them off, which usually occupied half 
a day ; besides, as we now lived on fresh beef, and ate 
one bullock a week, the animal was almost always 
brought down on Sunday, and we had to go ashore, 
kill it, dress it, and bring it aboard, which was another 
interruption. Then, too, our common day's work was 
protracted and made more fatiguing by hides coming 
down late in the afternoon, which sometimes kept us 
at work in the surf by starlight, with the prospect of 
pulling on board, and stowing them all away, before 
supper. 

But all these little vexations and labors would have 
been nothing, they would have been passed by as the 
'common evils of a sea life, which every sailor, who is a 
man, will go through without complaint, were it not 
for the uncertainty, or worse than uncertainty, which 
hung over the nature and length of our voyage. Here 
we were, in a little vessel, with a small crew, on a half- 
civilized coast, at the ends of the earth, and with a pros- 
pect of remaining an indefinite period, two or three 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST in 

years at the least. When we left Boston, we supposed 
that ours was to be a voyage of eighteen months, or two 
years, at most; but, upon arriving on the coast, we 
learned something more of the trade, and found that, in 
the scarcity of hides, which was yearly greater and 
greater, it would take us a year, at least, to collect our 
own cargo, beside the passage out and home ; and that 
we were also to collect a cargo for a large ship belonging 
to the same firm, which was soon to come on the coast, 
and to which we were to act as tender. We had heard 
rumors of such a ship to follow us, which had leaked 
out from the captain and mate, but we passed them by as 
mere " yarns," till our arrival, when they were confirmed 
by the letters which we brought from the owners to their 
agent. The ship California, belonging to the same firm, 
had been nearly two years on the coast getting a full 
cargo, and was now at San Diego, from which port she 
was expected to sail in a few weeks for Boston; and we 
were to collect all the hides we could, and deposit them 
at San Diego, when the new ship, which would carry 
forty thousand, was to be filled and sent home ; and then 
we were to begin anew upon our own cargo. Here was 
a gloomy prospect indeed. The Lagoda, a smaller ship 
than the California, carrying only thirty-one or thirty- 
two thousand, had been two years getting her cargo ; and 
we were to collect a cargo of forty thousand beside our 
own, which would be twelve or fifteen thousand ; and 
hides were said to be growing scarcer. Then, too, this 
ship, which had been to us a worse phantom than any 
flying Dutchman, was no phantom, or ideal thing, but 
had been reduced to a certainty ; so much so that a name 
was given her, and it was said that she was to be the 
Alert, a well-known Indiaman, which was expected in 
Boston in a few months, when we sailed. There could 



ii2 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

be no doubt, and all looked black enough. Hints were 
thrown out about three years and four years; the older 
sailors said they never should see Boston again, but 
should lay their bones in California; and a cloud seemed 
to hang over the whole voyage. Besides, we were not 
provided for so long a voyage, and clothes, and all 
sailors' necessaries, were excessively dear, three or four 
hundred per cent advance upon the Boston prices. This 
was bad enough for the crew ; but still worse was it for me, 
who did not mean to be a sailor for life, having intended 
only to be gone eighteen months or two years. Three 
or four years might make me a sailor in every respect, 
mind and habits, as well as body, nolens volens, and would 
put all my companions so far ahead of me that a college 
degree and a profession would be in vain to think of: 
and I made up my mind that, feel as I might, a sailor I 
might have to be, and to command a merchant vessel 
might be the limit of my ambition. 

Beside the length of the voyage, and the hard and 
exposed life, we were in the remote parts of the earth, 
on an almost desert coast, in a country where there is 
neither law nor gospel, and where sailors are at their 
captain's mercy, there being no American consul, or 
any one to whom a complaint could be made. We lost 
all interest in the voyage, cared nothing about the cargo, 
which we were only collecting for others, began to patch 
our clothes, and felt as though our fate was fixed beyond 
all hope of change. 

In addition to, and perhaps partly as a consequence 
of, this state of things, there was trouble brewing on 
board the vessel. Our mate (as the first mate is always 
called, par excellence} was a worthy man. a more 
honest, upright, and kind-hearted man I never saw. 
but he was too easy and amiable for the mate of a mer- 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 113 

chantman. He was not the man to call a sailor a " son 
of a bitch," and knock him down with a handspike. 
Perhaps he really lacked the energy and spirit for such 
a voyage as ours, and for such a captain. Captain Thomp- 
son was a vigorous, energetic fellow. As sailors say, " he 
had n't a lazy bone in him." He was made of steel and 
whalebone. He was a man to " toe the mark," and to 
make every one else step up to it. During all the time 
that I was with him, I never saw him sit down on deck. 
He was always active and driving, severe in his discipline, 
and expected the same of his officers. The mate not 
being enough of a driver for him, he was dissatisfied 
with him, became suspicious that discipline was getting 
relaxed, and began to interfere in everything. He drew 
the reins tighter; and as, in all quarrels between officers, 
the sailors side with the one who treats them best, he 
became suspicious of the crew. He saw that things went 
wrong, --that nothing was done "with a will"; and in 
his attempt to remedy the difficulty by severity he made 
everything worse. We were in all respects unfortunately 
situated, captain, officers, and crew, entirely unfitted 
for one another; and every circumstance and event was 
like a two-edged sword, and cut both ways. The length 
of the voyage, which made us dissatisfied, made the cap- 
tain, at the same time, see the necessity of order and strict 
discipline; and the nature of the country, which caused 
us to feel that we had nowhere to go for redress, but 
were at the mercy of a hard master, made the captain 
understand, on the other hand, that he must depend 
entirely upon his own resources. Severity created dis- 
content, and signs of discontent provoked severity. Then, 
too, ill-treatment and dissatisfaction are no " linimenta 
laborum " ; and many a time have I heard the sailors say 
that they should not mind the length of the voyage, and 



ii4 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

the hardships, if they were only kindly treated, and if 
they could feel that something was done to make work 
lighter and life easier. We felt as though our situation 
was a call upon our superiors to give us occasional re- 
laxations, and to make our yoke easier. But the opposite 
policy was pursued. We were kept at work all day when 
in port; which, together with a watch at night, made us 
glad to turn-in as soon as we got below. Thus we had 
no time for reading, or which was of more importance 
to us for washing and mending our clothes. And then, 
when we were at sea, sailing from port to port, instead 
of giving us '" watch and watch," as was the custom 
on board every other vessel on the coast, we were all 
kept on deck and at work, rain or shine, making spun- 
yarn and rope, and at other work in good weather, and 
picking oakum, when it was too wet for anything else. 
All hands were called to " come up and see it rain," and 
kept on deck hour after hour in a drenching rain, stand- 
ing round the deck so far apart so as to prevent our talk- 
ing with one another, with our tarpaulins and oil-cloth 
jackets on, picking old rope to pieces, or laying up gaskets 
and robands. This was often done, too, when we were 
lying in port with two anchors down, and no necessity 
for more than one man on deck as a lookout. This is 
what is called " hazing " a crew, and " working their old 
iron up." 

While lying at Santa Barbara, we encountered another 
southeaster ; and, like the first, it came on in the night ; 
the great black clouds moving round from the southward, 
covering the mountain, and hanging down over the town, 
appearing almost to rest upon the roofs of the houses. 
We made sail, slipped our cable, cleared the point, and 
beat about for four days in the offing, under close sail, 
with continual rain and high seas and winds. No wonder, 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 115 

thought we, they have no rain in the other seasons, for 
enough seemed to have fallen in those four days to last 
through a common summer. On the fifth day it cleared 
up, after a few hours, as is usual, of rain coming down 
like a four hours' shower-bath, and we found ourselves 
drifted nearly ten leagues from the anchorage; and, having 
light head winds, we did not return until the sixth day. 
Having recovered our anchor, we made preparations for 
getting under way to go down to leeward. We had hoped 
to go directly to San Diego, and thus fall in with the 
California before she sailed for Boston ; but our orders 
were to stop at an intermediate port called San Pedro; 
and, as we were to lie there a week or two, and the 
California was to sail in a few days, we lost the oppor- 
tunity. Just before sailing, the captain took on board 
a short, red-haired, round-shouldered, vulgar-looking 
fellow, who had lost one eye and squinted with the other, 
and, introducing him as Mr. Russell, told us that he was 
an officer on board. This was too bad. We had lost 
overboard, on the passage, one of the best of our number, 
another had been taken from us and appointed clerk, 
and thus weakened and reduced, instead of shipping some 
hands to make our work easier, he had put another officer 
over us, to watch and drive us. We had now four 
officers, and only six in the forecastle. This was bringing 
her too much down by the stern for our comfort. 

Leaving Santa Barbara, we coasted along down, the 
country appearing level or moderately uneven, and, for 
the most part, sandy and treeless; until, doubling a high 
sandy point, we let go our anchor at a distance of three 
or three and a half miles from shore. It \vas like a ves- 
sel bound to St. John's, Newfoundland, coming to anchor 
on the Grand Banks ; for the shore, being low, appeared 
k> be at a greater distance than it actually was, and we 



ii6 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

thought we might as well have stayed at Santa Barbara, 
and sent our boat down for the hides. The land was of 
a clayey quality, and, as far as the eye could reach, en- 
tirely bare of trees and even shrubs ; and there was no sign 
of a town, not even a house to be seen. What brought 
us into such a place, we could not conceive. No sooner 
had we come to anchor, than the slip-rope, and the other 
preparations for southeasters, were got ready; and there 
was reason enough for it, for we lay exposed to every 
wind that could blow, except the northerly winds, and 
they came over a flat country with a rake of more than 
a league of water. As soon as everything was snug on 
board, the boat was lowered, and we pulled ashore, our 
new officer, who had been several times in the port be- 
fore, taking the place of steersman. As we drew in, we 
found the tide low, and the rocks and stones, covered 
with kelp and seaweed, lying bare for the distance of 
nearly an eighth of a mile. Leaving the boat, and pick- 
ing our way barefooted over these, we came to what is 
called the landing-place, at high-water mark. The soil 
was, at it appeared at first, loose and clayey, and, except 
the stalks of the mustard plant, there \vas no vegetation. 
Just in front of the landing, and immediately over it, 
was a small hill, which, from its being not more than 
thirty or forty feet high, we had not perceived from our 
anchorage. Over this hill we saw three men coming 
down, dressed partly like sailors and partly like Califor- 
nians ; one of them having on a pair of untanned leather 
trousers and a red baize shirt. When they reached us, 
we found that they were Englishmen. They told us 
that they had belonged to a small Mexican brig which 
had been driven ashore here in a southeaster, and now 
lived in a small house just over the hill. Going up this 
hill with them, we saw, close behind it, a small, low 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 117 

building, with one room, containing a fireplace, cooking- 
apparatus, &c., and the rest of it unfinished, and used 
as a place to store hides and goods. This, they told us, 
was built by some traders in the Pueblo (a town about 
thirty miles in the interior, to which this was the port), 
and used by them as a storehouse, and also as a lodging- 
place when they came down to trade with the vessels. 
These three men were employed by them to keep the 
house in order, and to look out for the things stored in 
it. They said that they had been there nearly a year; 
had nothing to do most of the time, living upon beef, 
hard bread, and frijoles, a peculiar kind of bean, very 
abundant in California. The nearest house, they told 
us, was a Rancho, or cattle-farm, about three miles off; 
and one of them went there, at the request of our offi- 
cer, to order a horse to be sent down, with which the 
agent, who was on board, might go up to the Pueblo. 
From one of them, who was an intelligent English sailor, 
I learned a good deal, in a few minutes' conversation, 
about the place, its trade, and the news from the 
southern ports. San Diego, he said, was about eighty 
miles to the leeward of San Pedro ; that they had heard 
from there, by a Mexican who came up on horseback, 
that the California had sailed for Boston, and that the 
Lagoda, which had been in San Pedro only a few weeks 
before, was taking in her cargo for Boston. The Aya- 
cucho was also there, loading for Callao ; and the little 
Loriotte, which had run directly down from Monterey, 
where we left her. San Diego, he told me, was a small, 
snug place, having very little trade, but decidedly the 
best harbor on the coast, being completely land-locked, 
and the water as smooth as a duck-pond. This was the 
depot for all the vessels engaged in the trade; each one 
having a large house there, built of rough boards, in 



ii8 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

which they stowed their hides as fast as they collected 
them in their trips up and down the coast, and when 
they had procured a full cargo, spent a few weeks there 
taking it in, smoking ship, laying in wood and water, 
and making other preparations for the voyage home. 
The Lagoda was now about this business. When we 
should be about it was more than I could tell, two 
years, at least, I thought to myself. 

I also learned, to my surprise, that the desolate-look- 
ing place we were in furnished more hides than any port 
on the coast. It was the only port for a distance of eighty 
miles, and about thirty miles in the interior was a fine 
plane country, filled with herds of cattle, in the centre 
of which was the Pueblo de los Angeles, the largest 
town in California, and several of the wealthiest mis- 
sions; to all of which San Pedro was the seaport. 

Having made arrangements for a horse to take the 
agent to the Pueblo the next day, we picked our way 
again over the green, slippery rocks, and pulled toward 
the brig, which was so far off that we could hardly see 
her, in the increasing darkness ; and when we got on 
board the boats were hoisted up, and the crew at sup- 
per. Going down into the forecastle, eating our supper, 
and lighting our cigars and pipes, we had, as usual, to 
tell what we had seen or heard ashore. We all agreed 
that it was the worst place we had seen yet, especially 
for getting off hides, and our lying off at so great a 
distance looked as though it was bad for southeasters. 
After a few disputes as to whether we should have to 
carry our goods up the hill, or not, we talked of San 
Diego, the probability of seeing the Lagoda before she 
sailed, &c., &c. 

The next day we pulled the agent ashore, and he 
went up to visit the Pueblo and the neighboring mis- 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 119 

sions; and in a few days, as the result of his labors, 
large ox-carts, and droves of mules, loaded with hides, 
were seen coming over the flat country. We loaded our 
long-boat with goods of all kinds, light and heavy, and 
pulled ashore. After landing and rolling them over the 
stones upon the beach, we stopped, waiting for the carts 
to come down the hill and take them ; but the captain 
soon settled the matter by ordering us to carry them all 
up to the top, saying that that was " California fashion." 
So, what the oxen would not do, we were obliged to do. 
The hill was low, but steep, and the earth, being clayey 
and \vet with the recent rains, was but bad holding 
ground for our feet. The heavy barrels and casks we 
rolled up with some difficulty, getting behind and put- 
ting our shoulders to them ; now and then our feet, 
slipping, added to the danger of the casks rolling back 
upon us. But the greatest trouble was with the large 
boxes of sugar. These we had to place upon oars, and, 
lifting them up, rest the oars upon our shoulders, and 
creep slowly up the hill with the gait of a funeral pro- 
cession. After an hour or two of hard work, we got 
them all up, and found the carts standing full of hides, 
which we had to unload, and to load the carts again 
with our own goods ; the lazy Indians, who came down 
with them, squatting on their hams, looking on, doing 
nothing, and when we asked them to help us, only shak- 
ing their heads, or drawling out " no quiero." 

Having loaded the carts, we started up the Indians, 
who went off, one on each side of the oxen, with long 
sticks, sharpened at the end, to punch them with. 
This is one of the means of saving labor in California, 
two Indians to two oxen. Now, the hides were to be 
got down; and for this purpose we brought the boat 
round to a place where the hill was steeper, and threw 



120 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

them off, letting them slide over the slope. Many of 
them lodged, and we had to let ourselves down and set 
them a-going again, and in this way became covered 
with dust, and our clothes torn. After we had the hides 
all down, we were obliged to take them on our heads, 
and walk over the stones, and through the water, to the 
boat. The water and the stones together would wear 
out a pair of shoes a day, and as shoes were very scarce 
and very dear, we were compelled to go barefooted. At 
night we went on board, having had the hardest and 
most disagreeable day's work that we had yet expe- 
rienced. For several days we were employed in this man- 
ner, until we had landed forty or fifty tons of goods, and 
brought on board about two thousand hides, when the 
trade began to slacken, and we were kept at work on 
board during the latter part of the week, either in the 
hold or upon the rigging. On Thursday night there was 
a violent blow from the northward ; but as this was off- 
shore, we had only to let go our other anchor and hold 
on. We were called up at night to send down the 
royal-yards. It was as dark as a pocket, and the vessel 
pitching at her anchors. I went up to the fore, and 
Stimson to the main, and we soon had them down 
" ship-shape and Bristol fashion " ; for, as we had now 
become used to our duty aloft, everything above the 
cross-trees was left to us, who were the youngest of the 
crew, except one boy. 




CHAPTER 
XV 



FOR several days the captain seemed very much 
out of humor. Nothing went right, or fast 
enough for him. He quarrelled with the cook, 
and threatened to flog him for throwing wood on 
deck, and had a dispute with the mate about reeving 
a Spanish burton ; the mate saying that he was right, and 
had been taught how to do it by a man who ^vas a sailor! 
This the captain took in dudgeon, and they were at swords' 
points at once. But his displeasure was chiefly turned 
against a large, heavy-moulded fellow from the Middle 
States, who was called Sam. This man hesitated in his 
speech, was rather slow in his motions, and was only a 
tolerably good sailor, but usually seemed to do his best ; 
yet the captain took a dislike to him, thought he was surly 
and lazy, and "if you once give a dog a bad name," 
as the sailor-phrase is, "he may as well jump over- 
board." The captain found fault with everything this 
man did, and hazed him for dropping a marline-spike 
from the main-yard, where he was at work. This, of 
course, was an accident, but it was set down against him. 
The captain was on board all day Friday, and everything 
went on hard and disagreeably. " The more you drive 
a man, the less he will do," was as true with us as with 



122 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

any other people. We worked late Friday night, and were 
turned-to early Saturday morning. About ten o'clock 
the captain ordered our new officer, Russell, who by this 
time had become thoroughly disliked by all the crew, 
to get the gig ready to take him ashore. John, the Swede, 
was sitting in the boat alongside, and Mr. Russell and 
I were standing by the main hatchway, waiting for the 
captain, who was down in the hold, where the crew were 
at work, when we heard his voice raised in violent dispute 
with somebody, whether it was with the mate or one of 
the crew I could not tell, and then came blows and 
scuffling. I ran to the side and beckoned to John, wha 
came aboard, and we leaned down the hatchway, and 
though we could see no one, yet we knew that the captain 
had the advantage, for his voice was loud and clear : 

" You see your condition ! You see your condition ! 
Will you ever give me any more of your jaiv?" No 
answer ; and then came wrestling and heaving, as though 
the man was trying to turn him. " You may as well keep 
still, for I have got you," said the captain. Then came 
the question, " Will you ever give me any more of your 
jaw?" 

" I never gave you any, sir," said Sam ; for it was his 
voice that we heard, though low and half choked. 

" That 's not what I ask you. Will you ever be im- 
pudent to me again ? " 

" I never have been, sir," said Sam. 

" Answer my question, or I '11 make a spread eagle of 
you ! I '11 flog you, by G d." 

" I 'm no negro slave," said Sam. 

" Then I '11 make you one," said the captain ; and he 
came to the hatchway, and sprang on deck, threw off his 
coat, and, rolling up his sleeves, called out to the mate: 
" Seize that man up, Mr. Amerzene ! Seize him up ! 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 123 

Make a spread eagle of him ! I '11 teach you all who is 
master aboard ! " 

The crew and officers followed the captain up the hatch- 
way ; but it was not until after repeated orders that the 
mate laid hold of Sam, who made no resistance, and 
carried him to the gangway. 

" What are you going to flog that man for, sir ? " said 
John, the Swede, to the captain. 

Upon hearing this, the captain turned upon John ; but, 
knowing him to be quick and resolute, he ordered the 
steward to bring the irons, and, calling upon Russell to 
help him, went up to John. 

" Let me alone," said John. " I 'm willing to be put 
in irons. You need not use any force " ; and, putting 
out his hands, the captain slipped the irons on, and sent 
him aft to the quarter-deck. Sam, by this time, was 
seised up, as it is called, that is, placed against the shrouds, 
with his wrists made fast to them, his jacket off, and his 
back exposed. The captain stood on the break of the 
deck, a few feet from him, and a little raised, so as to 
have a good swing at him, and held in his hand the end 
of a thick, strong rope. The officers stood round, and 
the crew grouped together in the waist. All these prep- 
arations made me feel sick and almost faint, angry and 
excited as I was. A man a human being, made in God's 
likeness fastened up and flogged like a beast ! A man, 
too, whom I had lived with, eaten with, and stood watch 
with for months, and knew so well! If a thought of 
resistance crossed the minds of any of the men, what 
was to be done? Their time for it had gone by. Two 
men were fast, and there were left only two men besides 
Stimson and myself, and a small boy of ten or twelve 
years of age; and Stimson and I would not have joined 
the men in a mutiny, as they knew. And then, on the 



124 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

other side, there were (beside the captain) three officers, 
steward, agent, and clerk, and the cabin supplied with 
weapons. But beside the numbers, what is there for 
sailors to do? If they resist, it is mutiny; and if they 
succeed, and take the vessel, it is piracy. If they ever 
yield again, their punishment must come ; and if they do 
not yield, what are they to be for the rest of their lives? 
If a sailor resist his commander, he resists the law, and 
piracy or submission is his only alternative. Bad as it 
was, they saw it must be borne. It is what a sailor ships 
for. Swinging the rope over his head, and bending his 
body so as to give it full force, the captain brought it down 
upon the poor fellow's back. Once, twice, six times. 
" Will you ever give me any more of your jaw ? " The 
man writhed with pain, but said not a word. Three times 
more. This was too much, and he muttered something 
which I could not hear; this brought as many more as 
the man could stand, when the captain ordered him to 
be cut down, and to go forward. 

" Now for you," said the captain, making up to John, 
and taking his irons off. As soon as John was loose, he 
ran forward to the forecastle. " Bring that man aft ! " 
shouted the captain. The second mate, who had been 
in the forecastle with these men the early part of the 
voyage, stood still in the waist, and the mate walked 
slowly forward ; but our third officer, anxious to show 
his zeal, sprang forward over the windlass, and laid hold 
of John ; but John soon threw him from him. The 
captain stood on the quarter-deck, bareheaded, his eyes 
flashing with rage, and his face as red as blood, swing- 
ing the rope, and calling out to his officers : " Drag him 
aft ! Lay hold of him ! I '11 sweeten him ! " &c., &c. 
The mate now went forward, and told John quietly to 
go aft; and he, seeing resistance vain, threw the black- 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 125 

guard third mate from him, .said he would go aft of 
himself, that they should not drag him, and went up 
to the gangway and held out his hands ; but as soon as 
the captain began to make him fast, the indignity was 
too much, and he struggled; but, the mate and Russell 
holding him, he was soon seized up. When he was 
made fast, he turned to the captain, who stood rolling 
up his sleeves and getting ready for the blow, and asked 
him what he was to be flogged for. " Have I ever re- 
fused my duty, sir? Have you ever known me to hang 
back, or to be insolent, or not to know my work ? " 

" No," said the captain, " it is not that that I flog you 
for; I flog you for your interference, for asking ques- 
tions." 

" Can't a man ask a question here without being 
flogged ? " 

"No," shouted the captain; "nobody shall open his 
mouth aboard this vessel but myself," and began lay- 
ing the blows upon his back, swinging half round be- 
tween each blow, to give it full effect. As he went on, 
his passion increased, and he danced about the deck, 
calling out, as he swung the rope : " If you want to 
know what I flog you for, I '11 tell you. It 's because I 
like to do it ! because I like to do it ! It suits me ! 
That 's what I do it for ! " 

The man writhed under the pain until he could en- 
dure it no longer, when he called out, with an exclam- 
ation more common among foreigners than with us : 
" O Jesus Christ ! O Jesus Christ ! " 

" Don't call on Jesus Christ," shouted the captain ; 
"he can't help you. Call on Frank Thompson! He's 
the man ! He can help you ! Jesus Christ can't help 
you now ! " 

At these words, which I never shall forget, my blood 



126 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

ran cold. I could look on no longer. Disgusted, sick, 
I turned away, and leaned over the rail, and looked 
down into the water. A few rapid thoughts, I don't 
know what, our situation, a resolution to see the cap- 
tain punished when we got home, crossed my mind ; 
but the falling of the blows and the cries of the man 
called me back once more. At length they ceased, and, 
turning round, I found that the mate, at a signal from 
the captain, had cast him loose. Almost doubled up 
with pain, the man walked slowly forward, and went down 
into the forecastle. Every one else stood still at his 
post, while the captain, swelling with rage, and with the 
importance of his achievement, \valked the quarter-deck, 
and at each turn, as he came forward, calling out to us: 
" You see your condition ! You see where I 've got you 
all, and you know what to expect ! " " You 've been 
mistaken in me ; you did n't know what 'I was ! Now 
you know what I am ! " "I '11 make you toe the 
mark, every soul of you, or I '11 flog you all, fore and 
aft, from the boy up ! " " You 've got a driver over 
you! Yes, a slave-driver, a nigger-driver! I'll see 
who '11 tell me he is n't a NIGGER slave ! " With this and 
the like matter, equally calculated to quiet us, and to 
allay any apprehensions of future trouble, he entertained 
us for about ten minutes, when he went below. Soon 
after, John came aft, with his bare back covered with 
stripes and wales in every direction, and dreadfully 
swollen, and asked the steward to ask the captain to let 
him have some salve, or balsam, to put upon it. " No," 
said the captain, who heard him from below ; " tell him 
to put his shirt on ; that 's the best thing for him, and 
pull me ashore in the boat. Nobody is going to lay-up 
on board this vessel." He then called to Mr. Russell to 
take those two men and two others in the boat, and pull 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 127 

him ashore. I went for one. The two men could hardly 
bend their backs, and the captain called to them to 
"give way," "give way!" but, rinding they did their 
best, he let them alone. The agent was in the stern 
sheets, but during the whole pull a league or more 
not a word was spoken. We landed ; the captain, agent, 
and officer went up to the house, and left us with the 
boat. I, and the man with me, stayed near the boat, 
while John and Sam walked slowly away, and sat down 
on the rocks. They talked some time together, but at 
length separated, each sitting alone. I had. some fears 
of John. He was a foreigner, and violently tempered, 
and under suffering; and he had his knife with him, 
and the captain was to come down alone to the boat. 
But nothing happened; and we went quietly on board. 
The captain was probably armed, and if either of them 
had lifted a hand against him, they would have had 
nothing before them but flight, and starvation in the 
woods of California, or capture by the soldiers and 
Indians, whom the offer of twenty dollars would have 
set upon them. 

After the day's work was done, we went down into 
the forecastle, and ate our plain supper ; but not a word 
was spoken. It was Saturday night; but there was no 
song, no " sweethearts and wives." A gloom was over 
everything. The two men lay in their berths, groaning 
with pain, and we all turned in, but, for myself, not to 
sleep. A sound coming now and then from the berths 
of the two men showed that they were awake, as awake 
they must have been, for they could hardly lie in one 
posture long; the dim, swinging lamp shed its light 
over the dark hole in which we lived, and many and 
various reflections and purposes coursed through my 
mind. I had no apprehension that the captain would 



128 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

try to lay a hand on me; but our situation, living under 
a tyranny, with an ungoverned, swaggering fellow ad- 
ministering it ; of the character of the country we were 
in ; the length of the voyage ; the uncertainty attending 
our return to America; and then, if we should return, 
the prospect of obtaining justice and satisfaction for 
these poor men ; and I vowed that, if God should ever 
give me the means, I would do something to redress 
the grievances and relieve the sufferings of that class 
of beings with whom my lot had so long been cast. 

The next day was Sunday. We worked, as usual, 
washing decks, &c., until breakfast-time. After break- 
fast \ve pulled the captain ashore, and, rinding some 
hides there which had been brought down the night be- 
fore, he ordered me to stay ashore and watch them, 
saying that the boat would come again before night. 
They left me, and I spent a quiet day on the hill, eating 
dinner with the three men at the little house. Unfortu- 
nately they had no books ; and, after talking with them, 
and walking about, I began to grow tired of doing noth- 
ing. The little brig, the home of so much hardship and 
suffering, lay in the offing, almost as far as one could 
see; and the only other thing which broke the surface 
of the great bay was a small, dreary-looking island, steep 
and conical, of a clayey soil, and without the sign of 
vegetable life upon it, yet which had a peculiar and 
melancholy interest, for on the top of it were buried 
the remains of an Englishman, the commander of a 
small merchant brig, who died while lying in this port. 
It was always a solemn and affecting spot to me. There 
it stood, desolate, and in the midst of desolation ; and 
there were the remains of one who died and was buried 
alone and friendless. Had it been a common burying- 
place, it would have been nothing. The single body 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 129 

corresponded well with the solitary character of every- 
thing around. It was the only spot in California that 
impressed me with anything like poetic interest. Then, 
too, the man died far from home, without a friend near 
him, by poison, it was suspected, and no one to inquire 
into it, and without proper funeral rites; the mate (as 
I was told), glad to have him out of the way, hurrying 
him up the hill and into the ground, without a word or 
a prayer. 

I looked anxiously for a boat, during the latter part 
of the afternoon, but none came; until toward sundown, 
when I saw a speck on the water, and as it drew near I 
found it was the gig, with the captain. The hides, then, 
were not to go off. The captain came up the hill, with 
a man, bringing my monkey jacket and a blanket. He 
looked pretty black, but inquired whether I had enough 
to eat ; told me to make a house out of the hides, and 
keep myself warm, as I should have to sleep there 
among them, and to keep good watch over them. I got 
a moment to speak to the man who brought my jacket. 

" How do things go aboard? " said I. 

" Bad enough," said he ; " hard work and not a kind 
word spoken." 

" What ! " said I, " have you been at work all day ? " 

" Yes ! no more Sunday for us. Everything has been 
moved in the hold, from stem to stern, and from the 
water-ways to the keelson." 

I went up to the house to supper. We had frijoles 
(the perpetual food of the Calif ornians, but which, when 
well cooked, are the best bean in the world), coffee made 
of burnt wheat, and hard bread. After our meal, the 
three men sat down by the light of a tallow candle, with 
a pack of greasy Spanish cards, to the favorite game of 
" treinte uno," a sort of Spanish " everlasting." I left 



1 30 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

them and went out to take up my bivouac among the hides. 
It was now dark ; the vessel was hidden from sight, and 
except the three men in the house there was not a liv- 
ing soul within a league. The coyotes (a wild animal of 
a nature and appearance between that of the fox and 
the wolf) set up their sharp, quick bark, and two owls, 
at the end of two distant points running out into the 
bay, on different sides of the hill where I lay, kept up 
their alternate dismal notes. I had heard the sound 
before at night, but did not know what it was, until one 
of the men, who came down to look at my quarters, 
told me it was the owl. Mellowed by the distance, and 
heard alone, at night, it was a most melancholy and 
boding sound. Through nearly all the night they kept 
it up, answering one another slowly at regular intervals. 
This was relieved by the noisy coyotes, some of which 
came quite near to my quarters, and were not very 
pleasant neighbors. The next morning, before sunrise, 
the long-boat came ashore, and the hides were taken 
off. 

We lay at San Pedro about a week, engaged in taking 
off hides and in other labors, which had now become 
our regular duties. I spent one more day on the hill, 
watching a quantity of hides and goods, and this time 
succeeded in finding a part of a volume of Scott's Pirate 
in a corner of the house; but it failed me at a most in- 
teresting moment, and I betook myself to my acquaint- 
ances on shore, and from them learned a good deal about 
the customs of the country, the harbors, &c. This, they 
told me, was a worse harbor than Santa Barbara for 
southeasters, the bearing of the headland being a point 
and a half more to windward, and it being so shallow 
that the sea broke often as far out as where we lay at 
anchor. The gale for which we slipped at Santa Bar- 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 131 

bara had been so bad a one here, that the whole bay, 
for a league out, was filled with the foam of the break- 
ers, and seas actually broke over the Dead Man's Island. 
The Lagoda was lying there, and slipped at the first 
alarm, and in such haste that she was obliged to leave 
her launch behind her at anchor. The little boat rode 
it out for several hours, pitching at her anchor, and 
standing with her stern up almost perpendicularly. The 
men told me that they watched her till towards night, 
when she snapped her cable and drove up over the 
breakers high and dry upon the beach. 

On board the Pilgrim everything went on regularly, 
^ach one trying to get along as smoothly as possible ; 
but the comfort of the voyage was evidently at an end. 
' That is a long lane which has no turning," " Every 
dog must have his day, and mine will come by and 
by," and the like proverbs, were occasionally quoted ; 
but no one spoke of any probable end to the voyage, or 
of Boston, or anything of the kind ; or, if he did, it was 
only to draw out the perpetual surly reply from his 
shipmate : " Boston, is it ? You may thank your stars 
if you ever see that place. You had better have your 
back sheathed, and your head coppered, and your feet 
shod, and make out your log for California for life!" or 
else something of this kind : " Before you get to Bos- 
ton, the hides will wear all the hair off your head, and 
you 11 take up all your wages in clothes, and won't have 
enough left to buy a wig with ! " 

The flogging was seldom, if ever, alluded to by us in 
the forecastle. If any one was inclined to talk about it, 
the others, with a delicacy which I hardly expected to 
find among them, always stopped him, or turned the 
subject. But the behavior of the two men who were 
toward one another showed a consideratior which 



132 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

would have been worthy of admiration in the highest 
walks of life. Sam knew John had suffered solely on 
his account; and in all his complaints he said that, 
if he alone had been flogged, it would have been noth- 
ing; but he never could see him without thinking that 
he had been the means of bringing this disgrace upon 
him; and John never, by word or deed, let anything 
escape him to remind the other that it was by inter- 
fering to save his shipmate that he had suffered. Neither 
made it a secret that they thought the Dutchman Bill 
and Foster might have helped them; but they did not 
expect it of Stimson or me. While we showed our sym- 
pathy for their suffering, and our indignation at the cap- 
tain's violence, we did not feel sure that there was only 
one side to the beginning of the difficulty, and we kept 
clear of any engagement with them, except our promise 
to help them when they got home. 1 

1 Owing to the change of vessels that afterwards took place, Captain 
Thompson arrived in Boston nearly a year before the Pilgrim, and was 
off on another voyage, and beyond the reach of these men. Soon after 
the publication of the first edition of this book, in 1841, I received a 
letter from Stimson, dated at Detroit, Michigan, where he had re- 
entered mercantile life, from which I make this extract: " As to your 
account of the flogging scene, I think you have given a fair history of 
it, and, if anything, been too lenient towards Captain Thompson for 
his brutal, cowardly treatment of those men. As I was in the hold at 
the time the affray commenced, I will give you a short history of it as 
near as I can recollect. We were breaking out goods in the fore hold, 
and, in order to get at them, we had to shift our hides from forward 
to aft. After having removed part of them, we came to the boxes, 
and attempted to get them out without moving any more of the hides. 
While doing so, Sam accidentally hurt his hand, and, as usual, began 
swearing about it, and was not sparing of his oaths, although I think 
he was not aware that Captain Thompson was so near him at the time. 
Captain Thompson asked him, in no moderate way, what was the 
matter with him. Sam, on account of the impediment in his speech, 
could not answer immediately, although he endeavored to, but as soon 
as possible answered in a manner that almost any one would, under 
the like circumstances, yet, I believe, not with the intention of giving 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 133 

Having got all our spare room filled with hides, we 
hove up our anchor, and made sail for San Diego. In 
no operation can the disposition of a crew be better dis- 
covered than in getting under way. Where things are 
done " with a will," every one is like a cat aloft ; sails 
are loosed in an instant; each one lays out his strength 
on his handspike, and the windlass goes briskly round 
with the loud cry of " Yo heave ho ! Heave and pawl ! 
Heave hearty, ho ! " and the chorus of " Cheerly, men ! ?: 
cats the anchor. But with us, at this time, it was all 
dragging work. No one went aloft beyond his ordinary 
gait, and the chain came slowly in over the windlass. 
The mate, between the knight-heads, exhausted all his 
official rhetoric in calls of " Heave with a will ! " 
" Heave hearty, men ! heave hearty ! " " Heave, and 
raise the dead ! " " Heave, and away ! " &c., &c. ; but it 
would not do. Nobody broke his back or his hand- 
spike by his efforts. And when the cat-tackle-fall was 
strung along, and all hands cook, steward, and all 
laid hold, to cat the anchor, instead of the lively song 
of " Cheerly, men ! " in which all hands join in the 
chorus, we pulled a long, heavy, silent pull, and, as 
sailors say a song is as good as ten men, the anchor 
came to the cat-head pretty slowly. " Give us ' Cheer- 
ly ! ' " said the mate ; but there was no " cheerly " for 
us, and we did without it. The captain walked the 
quarter-deck, and said not a word. He must have seen 
the change, but there was nothing which he could notice 
officially. 

We sailed leisurely down the coast before a light, fair 

a short answer; but being provoked, and suffering pain from the in- 
jured hand, he perhaps answered rather short, or sullenly. Thus com- 
menced the scene you have so vividly described, and which seems to 
me exactly the history of the whole affair without any exaggeration." 



134 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

wind, keeping the land well aboard, and saw two other 
missions, looking like blocks of white plaster, shining in 
the distance; one of which, situated on the top of a 
high hill, was San Juan Capistrano, under which ves- 
sels sometimes come to anchor, in the summer season, 
and take off hides. At sunset on the second day we 
had a large and well-wooded headland directly before us, 
behind which lay the little harbor of San Diego. We 
were becalmed off this point all night, but the next 
morning, which was Saturday, the I4th of March, hav- 
ing a good breeze, we stood round the point, and, haul- 
ing our wind, brought the little harbor, which is rather 
the outlet of a small river, right before us. Every one 
was desirous to get a view of the new place. A chain 
of high hills, beginning at the point (which was on our 
larboard hand coming in), protected the harbor on the 
north and west, and ran off into the interior, as far as 
the eye could reach. On the other sides the land was 
low and green, but without trees. The entrance is so 
narrow as to admit but one vessel at a time, the cur- 
rent swift, and the channel runs so near to a low, stony 
point that the ship's sides appeared almost to touch it. 
There was no town in sight, but on the smooth sand 
beach, abreast, and within a cable's length of which 
three vessels lay moored, were four large houses, built 
of rough boards, and looking like the great barns in 
which ice is stored on the borders of the large ponds 
near Boston, with piles of hides standing round them, 
and men in red shirts and large straw hats walking in 
and out of the doors. These were the Hide Houses. Of 
the vessels: one, a short, clumsy little hermaphrodite 
brig, we recognized as our old acquaintance, the Loriotte ; 
another, with sharp bows and raking masts, newly 
painted and tarred, and glittering in the morning sun, 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 135 

with the blood-red banner and cross of St. George at 
her peak, was the handsome Ayacucho. The third 
was a large ship, with top-gallant-masts housed and 
sails unbent, and looking as rusty and worn as two 
years' " hide droghing " could make her. This was the 
Lagoda. As we drew near, carried rapidly along by the 
current, we overhauled our chain, and clewed up the 
topsails. " Let go the anchor ! " said the captain ; but 
either there was not chain enough forward of the wind- 
lass, or the anchor went down foul, or we had too much 
headway on, for it did not bring us up. " Pay out 
chain ! " shouted the captain ; and we gave it to her ; 
but it would not do. Before the other anchor could be 
let go, we drifted down, broadside on, and went smash 
into the Lagoda. Her crew were at breakfast in the 
forecastle, and her cook, seeing us coming, rushed out 
of his galley, and called up the officers and men. 

Fortunately, no great harm was done. Her jib-boom 
passed between our fore and main masts, carrying away 
some of our rigging, and breaking down the rail. She 
lost her martingale. This brought us up, and, as they 
paid out chain, we swung clear of them, and let go the 
other anchor; but this had as bad luck as the first, for, 
before any one perceived it, we were drifting down upon 
the Loriotte. The captain now gave out his orders rap- 
idly and fiercely, sheeting home the topsails, and backing 
and filling the sails, in hope of starting or clearing the 
anchors ; but it was all in vain, and he sat down on 
the rail, taking it very leisurely, and calling out to Cap- 
tain Nye that he was coming to pay him a visit. We 
drifted fairly into the Loriotte, her larboard bow into 
our starboard quarter, carrying away a part of our star- 
board quarter railing, and breaking off her larboard 
bumpkin, and one or two stanchions above the deck. 



136 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

We saw our handsome sailor, Jackson, on the forecastle, 
with the Sandwich-Islanders, working away to get us 
clear. After paying out chain, we swung clear, but our 
anchors were, no doubt, afoul of hers. We manned the 
windlass, and hove, and hove away, but to no purpose. 
Sometimes we got a little upon the cable, but a good 
surge would take it all back again. We now began to 
drift down toward the Ayacucho; when her boat put 
off, and brought her commander, Captain Wilson, on 
board. He was a short, active, well-built man, about 
fifty years of age; and being some twenty years older 
than our captain, and a thorough seaman, he did not 
hesitate to give his advice, and, from giving advice, he 
gradually came to taking the command ; ordering us 
when to heave and when to pawl, and backing and 
filling the topsails, setting and taking in jib and trysail, 
whenever he thought best. Our captain gave a few 
orders, but as Wilson generally countermanded them, 
saying, in an easy, fatherly kind of way, " O no ! Cap- 
tain Thompson, you don't want the jib on her," or " It 
is n't time yet to heave ! " he soon gave it up. We had 
no objections to this state of things, for Wilson was a 
kind man, and had an encouraging and pleasant way 
of speaking to us, which made everything go easily. 
After two or three hours of constant labor at the wind- 
lass, heaving and yo-ho-ing with all our might, we 
brought up an anchor, with the Loriotte's small bower 
fast to it. Having cleared this, and let it go, and 
cleared our hawse, we got our other anchor, which had 
dragged half over the harbor. " Now," said Wilson, 
" I '11 find you a good berth " ; and, setting both the 
topsails, he carried us down, and brought us to anchor, in 
handsome style, directly abreast of the hide-house which 
we were to use. Having done this, he took his leave, 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 137 

while we furled the sails, and got our breakfast, which 
was welcome to us, for we had worked hard, and eaten 
nothing since yesterday afternoon, and it was nearly 
twelve o'clock. After breakfast, and until night, we 
were employed in getting out the boats and mooring 
ship. 

After supper, two of us took the captain on board the 
Lagoda. As he came alongside, he gave his name, and 
the mate, in the gangway, called out to Captain Bradshaw, 
down the companion-way, " Captain Thompson has come 
aboard, sir ! " " Has he brought his brig with him ? " 
asked the rough old fellow, in a tone which made itself 
heard fore and aft. This mortified our captain not a 
little, and it became a standing joke among us, and, in- 
deed, over the coast, for the rest of the voyage. The 
captain went down into the cabin, and we walked for- 
ward and put our heads down the forecastle, where we 
found the men at supper. " Come down, shipmates ! * 
come down ! " said they, as soon as they saw us ; and 
we went down, and found a large, high forecastle, well 
lighted, and a crew of twelve or fourteen men eating 
out of their kids and pans, and drinking their tea, and 
talking and laughing, all as independent and easy as so 
many " woodsawyer's clerks." This looked like comfort 
and enjoyment, compared with the dark little forecastle, 
and scanty, discontented crew of the brig. It was Satur- 
day night ; they had got through their work for the 
week, and, being snugly moored, had nothing to do until 
Monday again. After two years' hard service, they had 
seen the worst, and all, of California ; had got their 
cargo nearly stowed, and expected to sail, in a week or 
two, for Boston. 

1 " Shipmate " is the term by which sailors address one another 
when not acquainted. 



138 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

We spent an hour or more with them, talking over 
California matters, until the word was passed, " Pil- 
grims, away ! " and we went back to our brig. The 
Lagodas were a hardy, intelligent set, a little rough- 
ened, and their clothes patched and old, from California 
wear; all able seamen, and between the ages of twenty 
and thirty-five or forty. They inquired about our ves- 
sel, the usage on board, &c., and were not a little sur- 
prised at the story of the flogging. They said there 
were often difficulties in vessels on the coast, and some- 
times knock-downs and fightings, but they had never 
heard before of a regular seizing-up and flogging. 
" Spread eagles " were a new kind of bird in California. 

Sunday, they said, was always given in San Diego, 
both at the hide-houses and on board the vessels, a large 
number usually going up to the town, on liberty. We 
learned a good deal from them about the curing and 
stowing of hides, &c., and they were desirous to have 
the latest news (seven months old) from Boston. One of 
their first inquiries was for Father Taylor, the seamen's 
preacher in Boston. Then followed the usual strain of 
conversation, inquiries, stories, and jokes, which one 
must always hear in a ship's forecastle, but which are, per- 
haps, after all, no worse, though more gross and coarse, 
than those one may chance to hear from some well 
dressed gentlemen around their tables. 




CHAPTER 
XVI 



1 



*\HE next day being- Sunday, after washing 
and clearing decks, and getting breakfast, 
the mate came forward with leave for one 
watch to go ashore, on liberty. We drew lots, and it fell 
to the larboard, which I was in. Instantly all was prep- 
aration. Buckets of fresh water (which we were allowed 
in port), and soap, were put in use; go-ashore jackets and 
trousers got out and brushed ; pumps, neckerchiefs, and 
hats overhauled, one lending to another; so that among 
the whole each got a good fit-out. A boat was called to 
pull the " liberty-men " ashore, and we sat down in the 
stern sheets, " as big as pay-passengers," and, jumping 
ashore, set out on our walk for the town, which was 
nearly three miles off. 

It is a pity that some other arrangement is not made 
in merchant vessels with regard to the liberty-day. 
When in port, the crews are kept at work all the week, 
and the only day they are allowed for rest or pleasure is 
Sunday ; and unless they go ashore on that day, they 
cannot go at all. I have heard of a religious captain who 
gave his crew liberty on Saturdays, after twelve o'clock. 
This would be a good plan, if shipmasters would bring 
themselves to give their crews so much time. For 



140 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

young sailors especially, many of whom have been 
brought up with a regard for the sacredness of the day, 
this strong temptation to break it is exceedingly inju- 
rious. As it is, it can hardly be expected that a crew, on 
a long and hard voyage, will refuse a few hours of free- 
dom from toil and the restraints of a vessel, and an op- 
portunity to tread the ground and see the sights of society 
and humanity, because it is a Sunday. They feel no 
objection to being drawn out of a pit on the Sabbath 
day. 

I shall never forget the delightful sensation of being 
in the open air, with the birds singing around me, and 
escaped from the confinement, labor, and strict rule of a 
vessel, of being once more in my life, though only for 
a day, my own master. A sailor's, liberty is but for a 
day ; yet while it lasts it is entire. He is under no 
one's eye, and can do whatever, and go wherever, he 
pleases. This day, for the first time, I may truly say, 
in my whole life, I felt the meaning of a term which I 
had often heard, the sweets of liberty. Stimson was 
with me, and, turning our backs upon the vessels, we 
walked slowly along, talking of the pleasure of being our 
own masters, of the times past, when we were free and 
in the midst of friends, in America, and of the prospect 
of our return ; and planning where we would go, and what 
we would do, when we reached home. It was wonderful 
how the prospect brightened, and how short and tolera- 
ble the voyage appeared, when viewed in this new light. 
Things looked differently from what they did when we 
talked them over in the little dark forecastle, the night 
after the flogging, at San Pedro. It is not the least of 
the advantages of allowing sailors occasionally a day of 
liberty, that it gives them a spring, and makes them feel 
cheerful and independent, and leads them insensibly to 



TWO YEARS 'BEFORE THE MAST 141 

look on the bright side of everything for some time 
after. 

Stimson and I determined to keep as much together 
as possible, though we knew that it would not do to cut 
our shipmates ; for, knowing our birth and education, 
they were a little suspicious that we would try to put 
on the gentleman when we got ashore, and would be 
ashamed of their company ; and this won't do with Jack. 
When the voyage is at an end, you do as you please; 
but so long as you belong to the same vessel, you must 
be a shipmate to him on shore, or he will not be a ship- 
mate to you on board. Being forewarned of this before 
I went to sea, I took no " long togs " with me ; and 
being dressed like the rest, in white duck trousers, blue 
jacket, and straw hat, which would prevent my going 
into better company, and showing no disposition to avoid 
them, I set all suspicion at rest. Our crew fell in with 
some who belonged to the other vessels, and, sailor-like, 
steered for the first grog-shop. This was a small adobe 
building, of only one room, in which were liquors, " dry- 
goods," West India goods, shoes, bread, fruits, and every- 
thing which is vendible in California. It was kept by a 
Yankee, a one-eyed man, who belonged formerly to Fall 
River, came out to the Pacific in a whale-ship, left her 
at the Sandwich Islands, and came to California and set 
up a pulperia. Stimson and I followed in our shipmates' 
wake, knowing that to refuse to drink with them would 
be the highest affront, but determining to slip away at 
the first opportunity. It is the universal custom with 
sailors for each one, in his turn, to treat the whole, call- 
ing for a glass all round, and obliging every one who is 
present, even to the keeper of the shop, to take a glass 
with him. When we first came in, there was some dis- 
pute between our crew and the others, whether the new- 



H2 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

comers or the old California rangers should treat first; 
but it being settled in favor of the latter, each of the 
crews of the other vessels treated all round in their turn, 
and as there were a good many present (including some 
" loafers " who had dropped in, knowing what was going 
on, to take advantage of Jack's hospitality), and the 
liquor was a real (12^2 cents) a glass, it made somewhat 
of a hole in their lockers. It was now our ship's turn, 
and Stimson and I, desirous to get away, stepped up to 
call for glasses ; but we soon found that we must go in 
order, the oldest first, for the old sailors did not choose 
to be preceded by a couple of youngsters ; and bon gre, 
mal gre, we had to wait our turn, with the twofold ap- 
prehension of being too late for our horses, and of get- 
ting too much ; for drink you must, every time ; and if 
you drink with one, and not with another, it is always 
taken as an insult. 

Having at length gone through our turns and acquit- 
ted ourselves of all obligations, we slipped out, and went 
about among the houses, endeavoring to find horses for 
the day, so that we might ride round and see the coun- 
try. At first we had but little success, all that we could 
get out of the lazy fellows, in reply to our questions, be- 
ing the eternal drawling Quien sabe? (" Who knows? ") 
which is an answer to all questions. After several efforts, 
we at length fell in with a little Sandwich Island boy, 
who belonged to Captain Wilson, of the Ayacucho, and 
was well acquainted in the place ; and he, knowing where 
to go, soon procured us two horses, ready saddled and 
bridled, each with a lasso coiled over the pommel. These 
we were to have all day, with the privilege of riding them 
down to the beach at night, for a dollar, which we had 
to pay in advance. Horses are the cheapest thing in 
California ; very fair ones not being worth more than ten 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 143 

dollars apiece, and the poorer being often sold for three 
and four. In taking a day's ride, you pay for the use of 
the saddle, and for the labor and trouble of catching the 
horses. If you bring the saddle back safe, they care but 
little what becomes of the horse. Mounted on our horses, 
which were spirited beasts (and which, by the way, in this 
country, are always steered in the cavalry fashion, by 
pressing the contrary rein against the neck, and not by 
pulling on the bit), we started off on a fine run over 
the country. The first place we went to was the old 
ruinous presidio, which stands on a rising ground near 
the village, w r hich it overlooks. It is built in the form 
of an open square, like all the other presidios, and was 
in a most ruinous state, with the exception of one side, 
in which the commandant lived, with his family. There 
were only two guns, one of which was spiked, and the 
other had no carriage. Twelve half-clothed and half- 
starved looking fellows composed the garrison ; and they, 
it was said, had not a musket apiece. The small settle- 
ment lay directly below the fort, composed of about forty 
dark brown looking huts, or houses, and three or four 
larger ones, whitewashed, which belonged to the " gente 
de razon." This town is not more than half as large as 
Monterey, or Santa Barbara, and has little or no busi- 
ness. From the presidio, we rode off in the direction of 
the Mission, which we were told was three miles distant. 
The country was rather sandy, and there was nothing 
for miles which could be called a tree, but the grass grew 
green and rank, there were many bushes and thickets, 
and the soil is said to be good. After a pleasant ride of 
a couple of miles, we saw the white walls of the Mission, 
and, fording a small stream, we came directly before it. 
The Mission is built of adobe and plastered. There was 
something decidedly striking in its appearance : a num- 



144 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

ber of irregular buildings, connected with one another, 
and, disposed in the form of a hollow square, with a 
church at one end, rising above the rest, with a tower 
containing five belfries, in each of which hung a large 
bell, and with very large rusty iron crosses at the tops. 
Just outside of the buildings, and under the walls, stood 
twenty or thirty small huts, built of straw and of the 
branches of trees, grouped together, in which a few 
Indians lived, under the protection and in the service of 
the Mission. 

Entering a gateway, we drove into the open square, 
in which the stillness of death reigned. On one side 
was the church ; on another, a range of high buildings 
with grated windows ; a third was a range of smaller 
buildings, or offices, and the fourth seemed to be little 
more than a high connecting wall. Not a living crea- 
ture could we see. We rode twice round the square, in 
the hope of waking up some one; and in one circuit 
saw a tall monk, with shaven head, sandals, and the 
dress of the Gray Friars, pass rapidly through a gallery, 
but he disappeared without noticing us. After two 
circuits, we stopped our horses, and at last a man showed 
himself in front of one of the small buildings. We rode 
up to him, and found him dressed in the common dress 
of the country, with a silver chain round his neck, sup- 
porting a large bunch of keys. From this, we took him 
to be the steward of the Mission, and, addressing him as 
" Mayor-domo," received a low bow and an invitation to 
walk into his room. Making our horses fast, we went 
in. It was a plain room, containing a table, three or 
four chairs, a small picture or two of some saint, or 
miracle, or martyrdom, and a few dishes and glasses. 
" Hay alguna cosa de comer ? " said I, from my grammar. 
"Si, Senor!" said he. " Que gusta usted?" Mention* 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 145 

ing frijoles, which I knew they must have if they had 
nothing else, and beef and bread, with a hint for wine, if 
they had any, he went off to another building across 
the court, and returned in a few minutes with a couple 
of Indian boys bearing dishes and a decanter of wine. 
The dishes contained baked meats, frijoles stewed with 
peppers and onions, boiled eggs, and California flour 
baked into a kind of macaroni. These, together with 
the wine, made the most sumptuous meal we had eaten 
since we left Boston ; and, compared with the fare we 
had lived upon for seven months, it was a regal ban- 
quet. After despatching it, we took out some money 
and asked him how much we were to pay. He shook 
his head, and crossed himself, saying that it was charity, 
that the Lord gave it to us. Knowing the amount 
of this to be that he did not sell, but was willing to 
receive a present, we gave him ten or twelve reals, which 
he pocketed with admirable nonchalance, saying, " Dios 
se lo pague." Taking leave of him, we rode out to the 
Indians' huts. The little children were running about 
among the huts, stark naked, and the men were not 
much more; but the women had generally coarse gowns 
of a sort of tow cloth. The men are employed, most of 
the time, in tending the cattle of the Mission, and in 
working in the garden, which is a very large one, in- 
cluding several acres, and filled, it is said, with the best 
fruits of the climate. The language of these people, 
which is spoken by all the Indians of California, is the 
most brutish, without any exception, that I ever heard, 
or that could well be conceived of. It is a complete 
slabber. The words fall off of the ends of their tongues, 
and a continual slabbering sound is made in the cheeks, 
outside of the teeth. It cannot have been the language 
of Montezuma and the independent Mexicans. 



146 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

Here, among the huts, we saw the oldest man that I 
had ever met with ; and, indeed, I never supposed that 
a person could retain life and exhibit such marks of age. 
He was sitting out in the sun, leaning against the side 
of a hut ; and his legs and arms, which were bare, were 
of a dark red color, the skin withered and shrunk up 
like burnt leather, and the limbs not larger round than 
those of a boy of five years. He had a few gray hairs> 
which were tied together at the. back of his head, and he 
was so feeble that, when we came up to him, he raised 
his hands slowly to his face, and, taking hold of his lids 
with his fingers, lifted them up to look at us ; and, being 
satisfied, let them, drop again. All command over the 
lids seemed to have gone. I asked his age, but could 
get no answer but " Quien sabe ? " and they probably 
did not know it. 

Leaving the Mission, we returned to the village, going 
nearly all the way on a full run. The California horses 
have no medium gait, which is pleasant, between walk- 
ing and running ; for as there are no streets and parades, 
they have no need of the genteel trot, and their riders 
usually keep them at the top of their speed until they 
are tired, and then let them rest themselves by walking. 
The fine air of the afternoon, the rapid gait of the an- 
imals, who seemed almost to fly over the ground, and 
the excitement and novelty of the motion to us, who had 
been so long confined on shipboard, were exhilarating 
beyond expression, and we felt willing to ride all day 
long. Coming into the village, we found things looking 
very lively. The Indians, who always have a holiday on 
Sunday, were engaged at playing a kind of running 
game of ball, on a level piece of ground, near the houses. 
The old ones sat down in a ring, looking on, while the 
young ones men, boys, and girls were chasing the 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 147 

ball, and throwing it with all their might. Some of the 
girls ran like greyhounds. At every accident, or re- 
markable feat, the old people set up a deafening scream- 
ing and clapping of hands. Several blue jackets were 
reeling about among the' houses, which showed that the 
pulperias had been well patronized. One or two of the 
sailors had got on horseback, but being rather indiffer- 
ent horsemen, and the Mexicans having given them 
vicious beasts, they were soon thrown, much to the amuse- 
ment of the people. A half-dozen Sandwich-Islanders, 
from the hide-houses and the two brigs, bold riders, 
were, dashing about on the full gallop, hallooing and 
laughing like so many wild men. 

It was now nearly sundown, and Stimson and I went 
into a house and sat quietly down to rest ourselves be- 
fore going" to the beach. Several people soon collected 
to see " los marineros ingleses," and one of them, a 
young woman, took a great fancy to my pocket-hand- 
kerchief, which was a large silk one that I had before 
going to sea, and a handsomer one than they had been 
in the habit of seeing. Of course, I gave it to her, 
which brought me into high favor; and we had a pres- 
ent of some pears and other fruits, which we took down 
to the beach with us. When we came to leave the 
house, we found that our horses, which we had tied at 
the door, were both gone. We had paid for them to 
ride down to the beach, but they were not to be found. 
We went to the man of whom we hired them, but 
he only shrugged his shoulders, and to our question, 
" Where are the horses ? " only answered, " Quien sabe ? " 
but as he was very easy, and made no inquiries for the 
saddles, we saw that he knew very well where they 
were. After a little trouble, determined not to walk to 
the beach, a distance of three miles, we procured 



148 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

two, at four reals more apiece, with two Indian boys to 
run behind and bring them back. Determined to have 
" the go " out of the horses, for our trouble, we went 
down at full speed, and were on the beach in a few 
minutes. Wishing to make our liberty last as long as 
possible, we rode up and down among the hide-houses, 
amusing ourselves with seeing the men as they arrived 
(it was now dusk), some on horseback and others on 
foot. The Sandwich-Islanders rode down, and were in 
" high snuff." We inquired for our shipmates, and 
were told that two of them had started on horseback, 
and been thrown, or had fallen off, and were seen heading 
for the beach, but steering pretty wild, and, by the looks 
of things, would not be down much before midnight. 

The Indian boys having arrived, we gave them our 
horses, and, having seen them safely off, hailed for a 
boat, and went aboard. Thus ended our first liberty- 
day on shore. We were well tired, but had had a good 
time, and were more willing to go back to our old duties. 
About midnight we were waked up by our two watch- 
mates, who had come aboard in high dispute. It seems 
they had started to come down on the same horse, 
double-backed ; and each was accusing the other of being 
the cause of his fall. They soon, however, turned-in 
and fell asleep, and probably forgot all about it, for the 
next morning the dispute was not renewed. 




CHAPTER 
XVII 






HE next sound that we heard was " All hands 
ahoy ! " and, looking up the scuttle, saw 
that it was just daylight. Our liberty had 
now truly taken flight, and with it we laid away our 
pumps, stockings, blue jackets, neckerchiefs, and other 
go-ashore paraphernalia, and putting on old duck trousers, 
red shirts, and Scotch caps, began taking out and landing 
our hides. For three days we were hard at work in 
this duty, from the gray of the morning until starlight, 
with the exception of a short time allowed for meals. For 
landing and taking on board hides, San Diego is decidedly 
the best place in California. The harbor is small and 
land-locked; there is no surf; the vessels lie within a 
cable's length of the beach, and the beach itself is smooth, 
hard sand, without rocks or stones. For these reasons, it 
is used by all the vessels in the trade as a depot ; and, in- 
deed, it would be impossible, when loading with the 
cured hides for the passage home, to take them on 
board at any of the open ports, without getting them 
wet in the surf, which would spoil them. We took pos- 
session of one of the hide-houses, which belonged to our 
firm, and had been used by the California. It was built 
to hold forty thousand hides, and we had the pleasing 



ISO TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

prospect of filling it before we could leave the coast; 
and toward this our thirty-five hundred, which we brought 
down with us, would do but little. There was scarce 
a man on board who did not go often into the house, 
looking round, reflecting, and making some calculation 
of the time it would require. 

The hides, as they come rough and uncured from the 
vessels, are piled up outside of the houses, whence they 
are taken and carried through a regular process of 
pickling, drying, and cleaning, and stowed away in the 
house, ready to be put on board. This process is neces- 
sary in order that they may keep during a long voyage 
and in warm latitudes. For the purpose of curing and 
taking care of them, an officer and a part of the crew of 
each vessel are usually left ashore; and it was for this 
business, we found, that our new officer had joined us. 
As soon as the hides were landed, he took charge of the 
house, and the captain intended to leave two or three 
of us with him, hiring Sandwich-Islanders in our places 
on board ; but he could not get any Sandwich-Islanders 
to go, although he offered them fifteen dollars a month ; 
for the report of the flogging had got among them, and 
he was called " aole maikai " (no good) ; and that was 
an end of the business. They were, however, willing to 
work on shore, and four of them were hired and put 
with Mr. Russell to cure the hides. 

After landing our hides, we next sent ashore our 
spare spars and rigging, all the stores which. we did not 
need in the course of one trip to windward, and, in fact, 
everything which we could spare, so as to make room on 
board for hides; among other things, the pigsty, and 
with it " old Bess." This was an old sow that we had 
brought from Boston, and who lived to get round Cape 
Horn, where all the other pigs died from cold and wet. 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 151 

Report said that she had been a Canton voyage be- 
fore. She had been the pet of the cook during the 
whole passage, and he had fed her with the best of 
everything, and taught her to know his voice, and to do 
a number of strange tricks for his amusement. Tom 
Cringle says that no one can fathom a negro's affection 
for a pig; and I believe he is right, for it almost broke 
our poor darky's heart when he heard that Bess was to 
be taken ashore, and that he was to have the care of 
her no more. He had depended upon her as a solace, 
during the long trips up and down the coast. " Obey 
orders, if you break owners ! " said he, " break hearts," 
he might have said, and lent a hand to get her over 
the side, trying to make it as easy for her as possible. 
We got a whip on the main-yard, and, hooking it to a 
strap round her body, swayed away, and, giving a wink 
to one another, ran her chock up to the yard-arm. 
" 'Vast there ! Vast ! " said the mate ; " none of your 
skylarking ! Lower away ! " But he evidently enjoyed 
the joke. The pig squealed like the " crack of doom," 
and tears stood in the poor darky's eyes ; and he mut- 
tered something about having no pity on, a dumb beast. 
"Dumb beast!" said Jack, "if she's what you call a 
dumb beast, then my eyes a'n't mates." This produced 
a laugh from all but the cook. He was too intent upon 
seeing her safe in the boat. He watched her all the 
way ashore, where, upon her landing, she was received 
by a whole troop of her kind, who had been set ashore 
from the other vessels, and had multiplied and formed 
a large commonwealth. From the door of his galley 
the cook used to watch them in their manoeuvres, set- 
ting up a shout and clapping his hands whenever Bess 
came off victorious in- the struggles for pieces of raw 
hide and half-picked bones which were lying about the 



152 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

beach. During the day, he saved all the nice things, and 
made a bucket of swill, and asked us to take it ashore 
in the gig, and looked quite disconcerted when the mate 
told him that he would pitch the swill overboard, and him 
after it, if he saw any of it go into the boats. We told 
him that he thought more about the pig than he did 
about his wife, who lived down in Robinson's Alley ; 
and, indeed, he could hardly have been more attentive, 
for he actually, on several nights, after dark, when he 
thought he would not be seen, sculled himself ashore in 
a boat, with a bucket of nice swill, and returned like 
Leander from crossing the Hellespont. 

The next Sunday the other half of our crew went 
ashore on liberty, and left us on board, to enjoy the first 
quiet Sunday we had had upon the coast. Here were no 
hides to come off, and no southeaster to fear. We 
washed and mended our clothes in the morning, and 
spent the rest of the day in reading and writing. Sev- 
eral of us wrote letters to send home by the Lagoda. 
At twelve o'clock, the Ayacucho dropped her fore top- 
sail, which was a signal for her sailing. She unmoored 
and warped down into the bight, from which she got 
under way. During this operation her crew were a 
long time heaving at the windlass, and I listened to the 
musical notes of a Sandwich-Islander named Mahanna, 
who " sang out " for them. Sailors, when heaving at a 
windlass, in order that they may heave together, always 
have one to sing out, which is done in high and long- 
drawn notes, varying with the motion of the windlass. 
This requires a clear voice, strong lungs, and much 
practice, to be done well. This fellow had a very pecu- 
liar, wild sort of note, breaking occasionally into a fal- 
setto. The sailors thought that it was too high, and 
not enough of the boatswain hoarseness about it; but 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 153 

to me it had a great charm. The harbor was perfectly 
still, and his voice rang among the hills as though it 
could have been heard for miles. Toward sundown, a 
good breeze having sprung up, the Ayacucho got under 
way, and with her long, sharp head cutting elegantly 
through the water on a taut bowline, she stood directly 
out of the harbor, and bore away to the southward. 
She was bound to Callao, and thence to the Sandwich 
Islands, and expected to be on the coast again in eight 
or ten months. 

At the close of the week we were ready to sail, but 
were delayed a day or two by the running away of 
Foster, the man who had been our second mate and was 
turned forward. From the time that he was " broken,*' 
he had had a dog's berth on board the vessel, and 
determined to run away at the first opportunity. Hav- 
ing shipped for an officer when he was not half a sea- 
man, he found little pity with the crew, and was not 
man enough to hold his ground among them. The cap- 
tain called him a " soger," 1 and promised to " ride him 
down as he would the main tack"; and when officers 
are once determined to " ride a man down," it is a gone 
case with him. He had had several difficulties with the 
captain, and asked leave to go home in the Lagoda; 
but this was refused him. One night he was insolent 
to an officer on the beach, and refused to come aboard 
in the boat. He was reported to the captain; and, as 

1 Soger (soldier) is the worst term of reproach that can be applied 
to a sailor. It signifies a skulk, a shirk, one who is always trying to 
get clear of work, and is out of the way, or hanging back, when duty 
is to be done. " Marine " is the term applied more particularly to a 
man who is ignorant and clumsy about seaman's work, a greenhorn, 
a land-lubber. To make a sailor shoulder a handspike, and walk fore 
and aft the deck, like a sentry, is as ignominious a punishment as can 
be put upon him. Such a punishment inflicted upon an able seaman 
in a vessel of war might break down his spirit more than a flogging. 



154 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

he came aboard, it being past the proper hour he 
was called aft, and told that he was to have a flog- 
ging. Immediately he fell down on deck, calling out, 
" Don't flog me, Captain Thompson, don't flog me ! " 
and the captain, angry and disgusted with him, gave 
him a few blows over the back with a rope's end, and 
sent him forward. He was not much hurt, but a good 
deal frightened, and made up his mind to run away 
that night. This was managed better than anything 
he ever did in his life, and seemed really to show some 
spirit and forethought. He gave his bedding and mat- 
tress to one of the Lagoda's crew, who promised to keep 
it for him, and took it aboard his ship as something 
which he had bought. He then unpacked his chest, 
putting all his valuable clothes into a large canvas bag, 
and told one of us who had the watch to call him at 
midnight. Coming on deck at midnight, and finding no 
officer on deck, and all still aft, he lowered his bag into 
a boat, got softly down into it, cast off the painter, and 
let it drop down silently with the tide until he was out 
of hearing, when he sculled ashore. 

The next morning, when all hands were mustered, 
there was a great stir to find Foster. Of course, we 
would tell nothing, and all they could discover was 
that he had left an empty chest behind him, and that 
he went off in a boat ; for they saw the boat lying high 
and dry on the beach. After breakfast, the captain went 
up to the town, and offered a reward of twenty dollars 
for him ; and for a couple of days the soldiers, Indians, 
and all others who had nothing to do, were scouring 
the country for him, on horseback, but without effect; 
for he was safely concealed, all the time, within fifty 
rods of the hide-houses. As soon as he had landed, he 
went directly to the Lagoda's hide-house, and a part 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 155 

of her crew, who were living there on shore, promised 
to conceal him and his traps until the Pilgrim should 
sail, and then to intercede with Captain Bradshaw to take 
him on board his ship. Just behind the hide-houses, 
among the thickets and underwood, was a small cave, 
the entrance to which was known only to two men on 
the beach, and which was so well concealed that though, 
when I afterwards came to live on shore, it was shown 
to me two or three times, I was never able to find it 
alone. To this cave he was carried before daybreak in 
the morning, and supplied with bread and water, and 
there remained until he saw us under way and well 
round the point. 

Friday, March 2/th. The captain having given up all 
hope of finding Foster, and being unwilling to delay any 
longer, gave orders for unmooring ship, and we made sail, 
dropping slowly down with the tide and light wind. We 
left letters with Captain Bradshaw to take to Boston, 
and were made miserable by hearing him say that he 
should be back again before we left the coast. The 
wind, which was very light, died away soon after we 
doubled the point, and we lay becalmed for two days, 
not moving three miles the whole time, and a part of the 
second day were almost within sight of the vessels. On 
the third day, about noon, a cool sea-breeze came rippling 
and darkening the surface of the water, and by sundown 
we were off San Juan, which is about forty miles from 
San Diego, and is called half-way to San Pedro, where 
we were bound. Our crew was now considerably weak- 
ened. One man we had lost overboard, another had 
been taken aft as clerk, and a third had run away; so 
that, beside Stimson and myself, there were only three 
able seamen and one boy of twelve years of age. With 
this diminished and discontented crew, and in a small 



156 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

vessel, we were now to battle the watch through a 
couple of years of hard service ; yet there was not one 
who was not glad that Foster had escaped ; for, shiftless 
and good for nothing as he was, no one could wish to see 
him dragging on a miserable life, cowed down and dis- 
heartened ; and we were all rejoiced to hear, upon our re- 
turn to San Diego, about two months afterwards, that he 
had been immediately taken aboard the Lagoda, and had 
gone home in her, on regular seaman's wages. 

After a slow passage of five days, we arrived on 
Wednesday, the first of April, at our old anchoring- 
ground at San Pedro. The bay was as deserted and 
looked as dreary as before, and formed no pleasing con- 
trast with the security and snugness of San Diego, and 
the activity and interest which the loading and unloading 
of four vessels gave to that scene. In a few days the 
hides began to come slowly down, and we got into the 
old business of rolling goods up the hill, pitching hides 
down, and pulling our long league off and on. Nothing 
of note occurred while we were lying here, except that 
an attempt was made to repair the small Mexican brig 
which had been cast away in a southeaster, and which 
now lay up, high and dry, over one reef of rocks and 
two sand-banks. Our carpenter surveyed her, and pro- 
nounced her capable of being refitted, and in a few days 
the owners came down from the Pueblo, and having 
waited for the high spring tides, with the help of our 
cables, kedges, and crew, hauled her off after several 
trials. The three men at the house on shore, who had 
formerly been a part of her crew, now joined her, and 
seemed glad enough at the prospect of getting off the 
coast. 

On board our own vessel, things went on in the com- 
mon monotonous way. The excitement which immedi- 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 157 

ately followed the flogging scene had passed off. but the 
effect of it upon the crew, and especially upon the two 
men themselves, remained. The different manner in 
which these men were affected, corresponding to their 
different characters, was not a little remarkable. John 
was a foreigner and high-tempered, and though mortified, 
as any one would be at having had the worst of an 
encounter, yet his chief feeling seemed to be anger; and 
he talked much of satisfaction and revenge, if he ever 
got back to Boston. But with the other it was very 
different. He was an American, and had had some 
education ; and this thing coming upon him seemed 
completely to break him down. He had a feeling of the 
degradation that had been inflicted upon him, which the 
other man was incapable of. Before that, he had a good 
deal of fun in him, and amused us often with queer negro 
stories (he was from a Slave State) ; but afterwards he 
seldom smiled, seemed to lose all life and elasticity, 
and appeared to have but one wish, and that was for the 
voyage to be at an end. I have often known him to 
draw a long sigh when he was alone, and he took but 
little part or interest in John's plans of satisfaction and 
retaliation. 

After a stay of about a fortnight, during which we 
slipped for one southeaster, and were at sea two days, 
we got under way for Santa Barbara. It was now the 
middle of April, the southeaster season was nearly over, 
and the light, regular winds, which blow down the coast, 
began to set steadily in, during the latter part of each 
day. Against these we beat slowly up to Santa Bar- 
bara a distance of about ninety miles in three 
days. There we found, lying at anchor, the large 
Genoese ship which we saw in the same place on the 
first day of our coming upon the coast. She had been 



158 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

up to San Francisco, or, as it is called, " chock up to 
windward," had stopped at Monterey on her way down, 
and was shortly to proceed to San Pedro and San Diego, 
and thence, taking in her cargo, to sail for Valparaiso 
and Cadiz. She was a large, clumsy ship, and, with her 
topmasts stayed forward, and high poop-deck, looked 
like an old woman with a crippled back. It was now 
the close of Lent, and on Good Friday she had all her 
yards a'-cock-bill, which is customary among Catholic 
vessels. Some also have an effigy of Judas, which the 
crew amuse themselves with keel-hauling and hanging 
by the neck from the yard-arms. 




CHAPTER 
XVIII 



f 



next Sunday was Easter, and as there 
had been no liberty at San Pedro, it was 
our turn to go ashore and misspend another 
Sunday. Soon after breakfast, a large boat, filled with 
men in blue jackets, scarlet caps, and various-colored 
under-clothes, bound ashore on liberty, left the Italian ship, 
and passed under our stern, the men singing beautiful 
Italian boat-songs all the way, in fine, full chorus. Among 
the songs I recognized the favorite, " O Pescator dell' 
onda." It brought back to my mind piano-fortes, draw- 
ing-rooms, young ladies singing, and a thousand other 
things which as little befitted me, in my situation, to be 
thinking upon. Supposing that the whole day would be 
too long a time to spend ashore, as there was no place 
to which we could take a ride, we remained quietly on 
board until after dinner. We were then pulled ashore in 
the stern of the boat, for it is a point with liberty-men 
to be pulled off and back as passengers by their ship- 
mates, and, with orders to be on the beach at sundown, 
we took our way for the town. There, everything wore 
the appearance of a holiday. The people were dressed 
in their best ; the men riding about among the houses, 
and the women sitting on carpets before the doors. Under 



160 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

the piazza, of a pulperia two men were seated, decked out 
with knots of ribbons and bouquets, and playing the 
violin and the Spanish guitar. These are the only instru- 
ments, with the exception of the drums and trumpets at 
Monterey, that I ever heard in California ; and I suspect 
they play upon no others, for at a great fandango at which 
I was afterwards present, and where they mustered all 
the music they could find, there were three violins and two 
guitars, and no other instruments. As it was now too 
near the middle of the day to see any dancing, and hearing 
that a bull was expected down from the country, to be 
baited in the presidio square, in the course of an hour or 
two, we took a stroll among the houses. Inquiring for an 
American who, we had been told, had married in the 
place, and kept a shop, we were directed to a long, low 
building, at the end of which was a door, with a sign 
over it, in Spanish. Entering the shop, we found no 
one in it, and the whole had an empty, deserted air. In 
a few minutes the man made his appearance, and apolo- 
gized for having nothing to entertain us with, saying 
that he had had a fandango at his house the night be- 
fore, and the people had eaten and drunk up everything. 

" O yes ! " said I, " Easter holidays ! " 

" No ! " said he, with a singular expression on his 
face ; ' I had a little daughter die the other day, and 
that 's the custom of the country." \ 

At this I felt somewhat awkwardly, not knowing what 
to say, and whether to offer consolation or not, and was 
beginning to retire, when he opened a side-door and 
told us to walk in. Here I was no less astonished ; for I 
found a large room, filled with young girls, from three or 
four years of age up to fifteen and sixteen, dressed all in 
white, with wreaths of flowers on their heads, and bou- 
quets in their hands. Following our conductor among 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 161 

these girls, who were playing about in high spirits, we 
came to a table, at the end of the room, covered with a 
white cloth, on which lay a coffin, about three feet long, 
with the body of his child. The coffin was covered 
with white cloth, and lined with white satin, and was 
strewn with flowers. Through an open door, we saw, in 
another room, a few elderly people in common dresses; 
while the benches and tables thrown up in a corner, 
and the stained walls, gave evident signs of the last night's 
" high go." Feeling, like Garrick, between Tragedy and 
Comedy, an uncertainty of purpose, I asked the man when 
the funeral would take place, and being told that it would 
move toward the Mission in about an hour, took my 
leave. 

To pass away the time, we hired horses and rode to 
the beach, and there saw three or four Italian sailors, 
mounted, and riding up and down on the hard sand at 
a furious rate. We joined them, and found it fine sport. 
The beach gave us a' stretch of a mile or more, and the 
horses flew over the smooth, hard sand, apparently in- 
vigorated and excited by the salt sea-breeze, and by the 
continual roar and dashing of the breakers. From the 
beach we returned to the town, and, finding that the fu- 
neral procession had moved, rode on and overtook it, 
about half-way to the Mission. Here was as peculiar a 
sight as we had seen before in the house, the one look- 
ing as much like a funeral procession as the other did 
like a house of mourning. The little coffin was borne 
by eight girls, who were continually relieved by others 
running forward from the procession and taking their 
places. Behind it came a straggling company of girls, 
dressed, as before, in white and flowers, and including, I 
should suppose by their numbers, nearly all the girls be- 
tween five and fifteen in the place. They played along 



162 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

on the way, frequently stopping and running all together 
to talk to some one, or to pick up a flower, and then 
running on again to overtake the coffin. There were a 
few elderly women in common colors ; and a herd of 
young men and boys, some on foot and others mounted, 
followed them, or walked or rode by their side, fre- 
quently interrupting them by jokes and questions. But 
the most singular thing of all was, that two men walked, 
one on each side of the coffin, carrying muskets in their 
hands, which they continually loaded, and fired into the 
air. Whether this was to keep off the evil spirits or not, 
I do not know. It was the only interpretation that I 
could put upon it. 

As we drew near the Mission, we saw the great gate 
thrown open, and the padre standing on the steps, with 
a crucifix in his hand. The Mission is a large and de- 
serted-looking place, the out-buildings going to ruin, and 
everything giving one the impression of decayed gran- 
deur. A large stone fountain threw out pure water, 
from four mouths, into a basin, before the church door; 
and we were on the point of riding up to let our horses 
drink, when it occurred to us that it might be conse- 
crated, and we forebore. Just at this moment, the bells 
set up their harsh, discordant clangor, and the proces- 
sion moved into the court. I wished to follow, and see 
the ceremony, but the horse of one of my companions 
had become frightened, and was tearing off toward the 
town ; and, having thrown his rider, and got one of his 
hoofs caught in the tackling of the saddle, which had 
slipped, was fast dragging and ripping it to pieces. Know- 
ing that my shipmate could not speak a word of Span- 
ish, and fearing that he would get into difficulty, I was 
obliged to leave the ceremony and ride after him. I 
soon overtook him, trudging along, swearing at the horse, 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 163 

and carrying the remains of the saddle, which he had 
picked up on the road. Going to the owner of the horse, 
we made a settlement with him, and found him surpris- 
ingly liberal. All parts of the saddle \vere brought back, 
and, being capable of repair, he was satisfied with six 
reals. We thought it would have been a few dollars. 
We pointed to the horse, which was now half-way up one 
of the mountains ; but he shook his head, saying, " No 
importa ! " and giving us to understand that he had plenty 
more. 

Having returned to the town, we saw a crowd col 
lected in the square before the principal pulperia, and, 
riding up, found that all these people men, women, 
and children had been drawn together by a couple of 
bantam cocks. The cocks were in full tilt, springing 
into one another, and the people were as eager, laughing 
and shouting, as though the combatants had been men. 
There had been a disappointment about the bull ; he had 
broken his bail, and taken himself off, and it was too 
late to get another, so the people were obliged to put 
up with a cock-fight. One of the bantams having been 
knocked in the head, and having an eye put out, gave 
in, and two monstrous prize-cocks were brought on. 
These were the object of the whole affair ; the bantams 
having been merely served up as a first course, to collect 
the people together. Two fellows came into the ring 
holding the cocks in their arms, and stroking them, and 
running about on all-fours, encouraging and setting them 
on. Bets ran high, and, like most other contests, it 
remained for some time undecided. Both cocks showed 
great pluck, and fought probably better and longer than 
their masters would have done. Whether, in the end, it 
was the white or the red that beat, I do not recollect, 
but whichever it was, he strutted off with the true 



164 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

veni-vidi-vici look, leaving the other lying panting on his 
beam-ends. 

This matter having been settled, we heard some talk 
about " caballos " and " carrera," and seeing the people 
streaming off in one direction, we followed, and came 
upon a level piece of ground, just out of the town, which 
was used as a race-course. Here the crowd soon became 
thick again, the ground was marked off, the judges sta- 
tioned, and the horses led up to one end. Two fine- 
looking old gentlemen Don Carlos and Don Domingo, 
so called held the stakes, and all was now ready. 
We waited some time, during which we could just 
see the horses twisting round and turning, until, at 
length, there was a shout along the lines, and on they 
came, heads stretched out and eyes starting, work- 
ing all over, both man and beast. The steeds came by 
us like a couple of chain shot, neck and neck ; and 
now we could see nothing but their backs and their 
hind hoofs flying in the air. As fast as the horses 
passed, the crowd broke up behind them, and ran to 
the goal. When we got there, we found the horses 
returning on a slow walk, having run far beyond the 
mark, and heard that the long, bony one had come in 
head and shoulders before the other. The riders were 
light-built men, had handkerchiefs tied round their 
heads, and were bare-armed and bare-legged. The 
horses were noble-looking beasts, not so sleek and 
combed as our Boston stable horses, but with fine 
limbs and spirited eyes. After this had been settled, 
and fully talked over, the crowd scattered again, and 
flocked back to the town. 

Returning to the large pulperia, we heard the violin 
and guitar screaming and twanging away under the 
piazza., where they had been all day. As it was now 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 165 

sundown, there began to be some dancing. The Italian 
sailors danced, and one of our crew exhibited himself in 
a sort of West India shuffle, much to the amusement of 
the bystanders, who cried out, " Bravo ! " " Otra vez ! " 
and ' Vivan los marineros ! " but the dancing did not 
become general, as the women and the " gente de razon " 
had not yet made their appearance. We wished very 
much to stay and see the style of dancing ; but, although 
we had had our own way during the day, yet we were, 
after all, but 'fore-mast Jacks ; and, having been or- 
dered to be on the beach by sunset, did not venture to 
be more than an hour behind the time, so we took our 
way down. We found the boat just pulling ashore 
through the breakers, which were running high, there 
having been a heavy fog outside, which, from some cause 
or other, always brings on, or precedes, a heavy sea. 
Liberty-men are privileged from the time they leave the 
vessel until they step on board again ; so we took our 
places in the stern sheets, and were congratulating our- 
selves upon getting off dry, when a great comber broke 
fore and aft the boat, and wet us through and through, 
filling the boat half full of water. Having lost her 
buoyancy by the weight of the water, she dropped heavily 
into every sea that struck her, and by the time we had 
pulled out of the surf into deep water, she was but just 
afloat, and we were up to our knees. By the help of a 
small bucket and our hats, we bailed her out, got on 
board, hoisted the boats, eat our supper, changed our 
clothes, gave (as is usual) the whole history of our day's 
adventures to those who had stayed on board, and, hav- 
ing taken a night-smoke, turned in. Thus ended our 
second day's liberty on shore. 

On Monday morning, as an offset to our day's sport, we 
were all set to work " tarring down " the rigging. Some 



i66 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

got girt -lines up for riding down the stays and back-stays, 
and others tarred the shrouds, lifts, &c., laying out on the 
yards, and coming down the rigging. We overhauled 
our bags, and took out our old tarry trousers and frocks, 
which we had used when we tarred down before, and 
were all at work in the rigging by sunrise. After break- 
fast, we had the satisfaction of seeing the Italian ship's 
boat go ashore, filled with men, gayly dressed, as on the 
day before, and singing their barcarollas. The Easter 
holidays are kept up on shore for three days ; and, being 
a Catholic vessel, her crew had the advantage of them. 
For two successive days, while perched up in the rig- 
ging, covered with tar and engaged in our disagreeable 
work, we saw these fellows going ashore in the morning, 
and coming off again at night, in high spirits. So much 
for being Protestants. There 's no danger of Catholi- 
cism's spreading in New England, unless the Church 
cuts down her holidays; Yankees can't afford the 
time. American shipmasters get nearly three weeks' 
more labor out of their crews, in the course of a year, 
than the masters of vessels from Catholic countries. As 
Yankees don't usually keep Christmas, and shipmasters 
at sea never know when Thanksgiving comes, Jack has 
no festival at all. 

About noon, a man aloft called out " Sail ho ! " and, 
looking off, we saw the head sails of a vessel coming 
round the point. As she drew round, she showed the 
broadside of a full-rigged brig, with the Yankee ensign 
at her peak. We ran up our stars and stripes, and, 
knowing that there was no American brig on the coast 
but ours, expected to have news from home. She 
rounded-to and let go her anchor ; but the dark faces on 
her yards, when they furled the sails, and the Babel on 
deck, soon made known that she was from the Islands. 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 167 

Immediately afterwards, a boat's crew came aboard, 
bringing her skipper, and from them we learned that 
she was from Oahu, and was engaged in the same trade 
with the Ayacucho and Loriotte, between the coast, the 
Sandwich Islands, and the leeward coast of Peru and 
Chili. Her captain and officers were Americans, and 
also a part of her crew ; the rest were Islanders. She was 
called the Catalina, and, like the vessels in that trade, 
except the Ayacucho, her papers and colors were from 
Uncle Sam. They, of course, brought us no news, and we 
were doubly disappointed, for we had thought, at first, 
it might be the ship which we were expecting from 
Boston. 

After lying here about a fortnight, and collecting all 
the hides the place afforded, we set sail again for San 
Pedro. There we found the brig which we had assisted 
in getting off lying at anchor, with a mixed crew of 
Americans, English, Sandwich-Islanders, Spaniards, and 
Spanish Indians ; and though much smaller than we, yet 
she had three times the number of men ; and she needed 
them, for her officers were Californians. No vessels 
in the world go so sparingly manned as American and 
English; and none do so well. A Yankee brig of that 
size would have had a crew of four men, and would 
have worked round and round her. The Italian ship 
had a crew of thirty men, nearly three times as many 
as the Alert, which was afterwards on the coast, and 
was of the same size; yet the Alert would get under 
way and come-to in half the time, and get two an- 
chors, while they were all talking at once, jabbering 
like a parcel of " Yahoos," and running about decks to 
find their cat-block. 

There was only one point in which they had the ad- 
vantage over us, and that was in lightening their labors 



i68 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

in the boats by their songs. The Americans are a time 
and money saving people, but have not yet, as a nation, 
learned that music may be " turned to account." We 
pulled the long distances to and from the shore, with our 
loaded boats, without a word spoken, and with discon- 
tented looks, while they not -only lightened the labor of 
rowing, but actually made it pleasant and cheerful, by 
their music. So true is it, that : 

" For the tired slave, song lifts the languid oar, 

And bids it aptly fall, with chime 
That beautifies the fairest shore, 
And mitigates the harshest clime." 

After lying about a week in San Pedro, we got under 
way for San Diego, intending to stop at San Juan, as the 
southeaster season was nearly over, and there was little 
or no danger. 

This being the spring season, San Pedro, as well as all 
the other open ports upon the coast, was rilled with 
whales, that had come in to make their annual visit 
upon soundings. For the first few days that we were 
here and at Santa Barbara, we watched them with great 
interest, calling out " There she blows ! " every time 
we saw the spout of one breaking the surface of the 
water; but they soon became so common that we took 
little notice of them. They often " broke " very near 
us, and one thick, foggy night, during a dead calm, 
while I was standing anchor-watch, one of them rose so 
near that he struck our cable, and made all surge again. 
He did not seem to like the encounter much himself, for 
he sheered off, and spouted at a good distance. We once 
came very near running one down in the gig, and should 
probably have been knocked to pieces or thrown sky- 
high. We had been on board the little Spanish brig, 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 169 

and were returning, stretching out well at our oars, the 
little boat going like a swallow; our faces were turned 
aft (as is always the case in pulling), and the captain, 
who was steering, was not looking out when, all at 
once, we heard the spout of a whale directly ahead. 
" Back water ! back water, for your lives ! " shouted the 
captain ; and we backed our blades in the water, and 
brought the boat to in a smother of foam. Turning our 
heads, we saw a great, rough, hump-backed whale slowly 
crossing our fore foot, within three or four yards of 
the boat's stem. Had we not backed water just as we 
did, we should inevitably have gone smash upon him, 
striking him with our stem just about amidships. He 
took no notice of us, but passed slowly on, and dived a 
few yards beyond us, throwing his tail high in the air. 
He was so near that we had a perfect view of him, and, 
as may be supposed, had no desire to see him nearer. 
He was a disgusting creature, with a skin rough, hairy, 
and of an iron-gray color. This kind differs much from 
the sperm, in color and skin, and is said to be fiercer. 
We saw a few sperm whales ; but most of the whales 
that come upon the coast are fin-backs and hump-backs, 
which are more difficult to take, and are said not to 
give oil enough to pay for the trouble. For this reason, 
whale-ships do not come upon the coast after them. 
Our captain, together with Captain Nye of the Loriotte, 
who had been in a whale-ship, thought of making an at- 
tempt upon one of them with two boats' crews ; but as 
we had only two harpoons, and no proper lines, they 
gave it up. 

During the months of March, April, and May, these 
whales appear in great numbers in the open ports of 
Santa Barbara, San Pedro, &c., and hover off the coast, 
while a few find their way into the close harbors of San 



170 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

Diego and Monterey. They are all off again before mid- 
summer, and make their appearance on the " off-shore 
ground." We saw some fine " schools " of sperm whales, 
which are easily distinguished by their spout, blowing 
away, a few miles to windward, on our passage to San 
Juan. 

Coasting along on the quiet shore of the Pacific, we 
came to anchor in twenty fathoms' water, almost out at 
sea, as it were, and directly abreast of a steep hill which 
overhung the water, and was twice as high as our royal- 
mast-head. We had heard much of this place from the 
Lagoda's crew, who said it was the worst place in Cali- 
fornia. The shore is rocky, and directly exposed to the 
southeast, so that vessels are obliged to slip and run for 
their lives on the first sign of a gale; and late as it was 
in the season, we got up our slip-rope and gear, 
though we meant to stay only twenty-four hours. We 
pulled the agent ashore, and were ordered to wait 
for him, while he took a circuitous way round the 
hill to the Mission, which was hidden behind it. We 
were glad of the opportunity to examine this singular 
place, and hauling the boat up, and making her well 
fast, took different directions up and down the beach, 
to explore it. 

San Juan is the only romantic spot on the coast. 
The country here for several miles is high table-land, 
running boldly to the shore, and breaking off in a steep 
cliff, at the foot of which the waters of the Pacific are 
constantly dashing. For several miles the water washes 
the very base of the hill, or breaks upon ledges and frag- 
ments of rocks which run out into the sea. Just where 
we landed was a small cove, or bight, which gave us, at 
high tide, a few square feet of sand-beach between the 
sea and the bottom of the hill. This was the only land- 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 171 

ing-place. Directly before us rose the perpendicular 
height of four or five hundred feet. How we were to 
get hides down, or goods up, upon the table-land on 
which the Mission was situated, was more than we could 
tell. The agent had taken a long circuit, and yet had 
frequently to jump over breaks, and climb steep places, 
in the ascent. No animal but a man or a monkey could 
get up it. However, that was not our lookout; and, 
knowing that the agent would be gone an hour or more, 
we strolled about, picking up shells, and following the 
sea where it tumbled in, roaring and spouting, among 
the crevices of the great rocks. What a sight, thought 
I, must this be in a southeaster! The rocks were as 
large as those of Nahant or Newport, but, to my eye, 
more grand and broken. Beside, there was a grandeur 
in everything around, which gave a solemnity to the 
scene, a silence and solitariness which affected every 
part! Not a human being but ourselves for miles, and 
no sound heard but the pulsations of the great Pacific! 
and the great steep hill rising like a wall, and cutting us 
off from all the world, but the " world of waters " ! I 
separated myself from the rest, and sat down on a rock, 
just where the sea ran in and formed a fine spouting 
horn. Compared with the plain, dull sand-beach of the 
rest of the coast, this grandeur was as refreshing as a 
great rock in a weary land. It was almost the first time 
that I had been positively alone free from the sense 
that human beings were at my elbow, if not talking with 
me since I had left home. My better nature re- 
turned strong upon me. Everything was in accordance 
with my state of feeling, and I experienced a glow of 
pleasure at finding that what of poetry and romance I 
ever had in me had not been entirely deadened by the 
laborious life, with its paltry, vulgar associations, which I 



172 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

had been leading. Nearly an hour did I sit, almost lost in 
the luxury of this entire new scene of the play in which 
I had been so long acting, when I was aroused by the 
distant shouts of my companions, and saw that they 
were collecting together, as the agent had made his 
appearance, on his way back to our boat. 

We pulled aboard, and found the long-boat hoisted 
out, and nearly laden with goods ; and, after dinner, we 
all went on shore in the quarter-boat, with the long- 
boat in tow. As we drew in, we descried an ox-cart and 
a couple of men standing directly on the brow of the 
hill ; and having landed, the captain took his way round 
the hill, ordering me and one other to follow him. We 
followed, picking our way out, and jumping and scram- 
bling up, walking over briers and prickly pears, until we 
came to the top. Here the country stretched out for 
miles, as far as the eye could reach, on a level, table 
surface, and the only habitation in sight was the small 
white mission of San Juan Capistrano, with a few 
Indian huts about it, standing in a small hollow, about 
a mile from where we were. Reaching the brow of the 
hill, where the cart stood, we found several piles of 
hides, and Indians sitting round them. One or two 
other carts were coming slowly on from the Mission, 
and the captain told us to begin and throw the hides 
down. This, then, was the way they were to be got 
down, thrown down, one at a time, a distance of four 
hundred feet ! This was doing the business on a great 
scale. Standing on the edge of the hill, and looking 
down the perpendicular height, the sailors 

" That walked upon the beach 
Appeared like mice; and our tall anchoring bark 
Diminished to her cock; her cock a buoy 
Almost too small for sight." 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 173 

Down this height we pitched the hides, throwing 
them as far out into the air as we could ; and as they 
were all large, stiff, and doubled, like the cover of a 
book, the wind took them, and they swayed and eddied 
about, plunging and rising in the air, like a kite when 
it has broken its string. As it was now low tide, there 
was no danger of their falling into the water; and, as 
fast as they came to ground, the men below picked 
them up, and, taking them on their heads, walked off 
with them to the boat. It was really a picturesque 
sight: the great height, the scaling of the hides, and 
the continual walking to and fro of the men, who looked 
like mites, on the beach. This was the romance of 
hide droghing! 

Some of the hides lodged in cavities under the bank and 
out of our sight, being directly under us ; but by pitch- 
ing other hides in the same direction, we succeeded in 
dislodging them. Had they remained there, the cap- 
tain said he should have sent on board for a couple of 
pairs of long halyards, and got some one to go down for 
them. It was said that one of the crew of an English 
brig went down in the same way, a few years before. 
We looked over, and thought it would not be a welcome 
task, especially for a few paltry hides ; but no one knows 
what he will do until he is called upon; for, six months 
afterwards, I descended the same place by a pair of top- 
gallant studding-sail halyards, to save half a dozen hides 
which had lodged there. 

Having thrown them all over, we took our way back 
again, and found the boat loaded and ready to start. 
We pulled off, took the hides all aboard, hoisted in the 
boats, hove up our anchor, made sail, and before sun- 
down were on our way to San Diego. 

Friday, May 8th, 1835. Arrived at San Diego. We 



174 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

found the little harbor deserted. The Lagoda, Ayacu- 
cho, Loriotte, all had sailed from the coast, and we were 
left alone. All the hide-houses on the beach but ours 
were shut up, and the Sandwich-Islanders, a dozen or 
twenty in number, who had worked for the other ves- 
sels, and been paid off when they sailed, were living on 
the beach, keeping up a grand carnival. There was a 
large oven on the beach, which, it seems, had been built 
by a Russian discovery-ship, that had been on the coast 
a few years ago, for baking her bread. This the Sand- 
wich-Islanders took possession of, and had kept ever 
since, undisturbed. It was big enough to hold eight or 
ten men, and had a door at the side, and a vent-hole at 
top- They covered the floor with Oahu mats for a car- 
pet, stopped up the vent-hole in bad weather, and made 
it their head-quarters. It was now inhabited by as 
many as a dozen or twenty men, crowded together, who 
lived there in complete idleness, drinking, playing 
cards, and carousing in every way. They bought a 
bullock once a week, which kept them in meat, and one 
of them went up to the town every day to get fruit, 
liquor, and provisions. Besides this, they had bought a 
cask of ship-bread, and a barrel of flour from the Lagoda, 
before she sailed. There they lived, having a grand 
time, and caring for nobody. Captain Thompson wished 
to get three or four of them to come on board the Pil- 
grim, as we were so much diminished in numbers, and 
went up to the oven, and spent an hour or two trying 
to negotiate with them. One of them, a finely built, 
active, strong, and intelligent fellow, who was a sort 
of king among them, acted as spokesman. He was 
called Mannini, or rather, out of compliment to his 
known importance and influence, Mr. Mannini, and 
was known all over California. Through him, the cap- 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 175 

tain offered them fifteen dollars a month, and one 
month's pay in advance; but it was like throwing 
pearls before swine, or, rather, carrying coals to New- 
castle. So long as they had money, they would not 
work for fifty dollars a month, and when their money 
was gone, they would work for ten. 

"What do you do here, Mr. Mannini?" 1 said the 
captain. 

" Oh ! we play cards, get drunk, smoke, do anything 
we 're a mind to." 

" Don't you want to come aboard and work ? " 

" Aolel aole make make makon i ka hana. Now, got 
plenty money ; no good, work. Mamule, money pan . 
all gone. Ah ! very good, work ! maikai, hana hana 
nuil" 

" But you '11 spend all your money in this way," said 
the captain. 

" Aye ! me know that. By-'em-by money pan all 
gone; then Kanaka work plenty." 

This was a hopeless case, and the captain left them, 
to wait patiently until their money was gone. 

We discharged our hides and tallow, and in about a 
week were ready to set sail again for the windward. We 
unmoored, and got everything ready, when the captain 
made another attempt upon the oven. This time he 
had more regard to the " mollia tempora fandi," and 
succeeded very well. He won over Mr. Mannini to his 
interest, and as the shot was getting low in the locker 
at the oven, prevailed upon him and three others to 
come on board with their chests and baggage, and sent a 
hasty summons to me and the boy to come ashore with 
our things, and join the gang at the hide-house. This 

1 The vowels in the Sandwich Island language have the sound of 
those in the languages of Continental Europe. 



176 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

was unexpected to me; but anything in the way of 
variety I liked; so we made ready, and were pulled 
ashore. I stood on the beach while the brig got under 
way, and watched her until she rounded the point, and 
then went to the hide-house to take up my quarters for 
a few months. 




CHAPTER 
XIX 



HERE was a change in my life as complete as 
it had been sudden. In the twinkling of an 
eye I was transformed from a sailor into a 
" beach-comber " and a hide-curer ; yet the novelty and the 
comparative independence of the life were not unpleasant. 
Our hide-house was a large building, made of rough 
boards, and intended to hold forty thousand hides. In one 
corner of it a small room was parted off, in which four 
berths were made, where we were to live, with mother 
earth for our floor. It contained a table, a small locker 
for pots, spoons, plates, &c., and a small hole cut to let in 
the light. Here we put our chests, threw our bedding 
into the berths, and took up our quarters. Over our 
heads was another small room, in which Mr. Russell 
lived, who had charge of the hide-house, the same man 
who was for a time an officer of the Pilgrim. There he 
lived in solitary grandeur, eating and sleeping alone 
(and these were his principal occupations), and commun- 
ing with his own dignity. The boy, a Marblehead hope- 
ful, whose name was Sam, was to act as cook ; while I, 
a giant of a Frenchman named Nicholas, and four Sand- 
wich-Islanders were to cure the hides. Sam, Nicholas, 
and I lived together in the room, and the four Sandwich- 



178 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

Islanders worked and ate with us, but generally slept at 
the oven. My new messmate, Nicholas, was the most 
immense man that I had ever seen. He came on the 
coast in a vessel which was afterwards wrecked, and now 
let himself out to the different houses to cure hides. 
He was considerably over six feet, and of a frame so 
large that he might have been shown for a curiosity. 
But the most remarkable thing about him was his feet. 
They were so large that he could not find a pair of shoes 
in California to fit him, and was obliged to send to Oahu 
for a pair; and when he got them, he was compelled to 
wear them down at the heel. He told me once that he 
was wrecked in an American brig on the Goodwin Sands, 
and was sent up to London, to the charge of the American 
consul, with scant clothing to his back and no shoes to his 
feet, and was obliged to go about London streets in his 
stocking-feet three or four days, in the month of January, 
until the consul could have a pair of shoes made for him. 
His strength was in proportion to his size, and his igno- 
rance to his strength, " strong as an ox, and ignorant 
as strong." He knew how neither to read nor to write. 
He had been to sea from a boy, had seen all kinds of 
service, and been in all sorts of vessels, merchantmen, 
men-of-war, privateers, and slavers ; and from what I 
could gather from his accounts of himself, and from 
what he once told me, in confidence, after we had become 
better acquainted, he had been in even worse business 
than slave-trading. He was once tried for his life in 
Charleston, South Carolina, and, though acquitted, was so 
frightened that he never would show himself in the 
United States again. I was not able to persuade him 
that he could not be tried a second time for the same 
offence. He said he had got safe off from the breakers, 
and was too good a sailor to risk his timbers again. 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 179 

Though I knew what his life had been, yet I never 
had the slightest fear of him. We always got along 
very well together, and, though so much older, stronger, 
and larger than I, he showed a marked respect for me, 
on account of my education, and of what he had heard 
of my situation before coming to sea, such as may be 
expected from a European of the humble class. " I '11 
be good friends with you," he used to say, " for by and 
by you '11 come out here captain, and then you '11 haze 
me well ! " By holding together, we kept the officer in 
good order, for he was evidently afraid of Nicholas, and 
never interfered with us, except when employed upon 
the hides. My other companions, the Sandwich-Island- 
ers, deserve particular notice. 

A considerable trade has been carried on for several 
years between California and the Sandwich Islands, and 
most of the vessels are manned with Islanders, who, as 
they for the most part sign no articles, leave when- 
ever they choose, and let themselves out to cure hides 
at San Diego, and to supply the places of the men left 
ashore from the American vessels while on the coast. In 
this way a little colony of them had become settled at 
San Diego, as their head-quarters. Some of these had 
recently gone off in the Ayacucho and Loriotte, and the 
Pilgrim had taken Mr. Mannini and three others, so that 
there were not more than twenty left. Of these, four were 
on pay at the Ayacucho's house, four more working with 
us, and the rest were living at the oven in a quiet way; 
for their money was nearly gone, and they must make 
it last until some other vessel came down to employ them. 

During the four months that I lived here, I got well 
acquainted with all of them, and took the greatest pains 
to become familiar with their language, habits, and 
characters. Their language I could only learn orally, 



180 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

for they had not any books among them, though many 
of them had been taught to read and write by the 
missionaries at home. They spoke a little English, and, 
by a sort of compromise, a mixed language was used on 
the beach, which could be understood by all. The long 
name of Sandwich-Islanders is dropped, and they are 
called by the whites, all over the Pacific Ocean, " Ka- 
nakas," from a word in their own language, signifying, 
I believe, man, human being, which they apply to 
themselves, and to all South-Sea-Islanders, in distinc- 
tion from whites, whom they call " Haole." This name, 
" Kanaka," they answer to, both collectively and indi- 
vidually. Their proper names in their own language 
being difficult to pronounce and remember, they are 
called by any names which the captains or crews may 
choose to give them. Some are called after the vessel 
they are in ; others by our proper names, as Jack, Tom, 
Bill; and some have fancy names, as Ban-yan, Fore-top, 
Rope-yarn, Pelican, &c., &c. Of the four who worked at 
our house, one was named " Mr. Bingham," after the 
missionary at Oahu ; another, Hope, after a vessel that 
he had been in; a third, Tom Davis, the name of his 
first captain ; and the fourth, Pelican, from his fancied 
resemblance to that bird. Then there was Lagoda- 
Jack, California-Bill, &c., &c. But by whatever names 
they might be called, they _were the most interesting, 
intelligent, and kind-hearted people that I ever fell in 
with. I felt a positive attachment for almost all of 
them ; and many of them I have, to this day, a feeling 
for, which would lead me to go a great way for the 
pleasure of seeing them, and which will always make 
me feel a strong interest in the mere name of a 
Sandwich-Islander. 
Tom Davis knew how to read, write, and cipher in 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 181 

common arithmetic; had been to the United States, 
and spoke English quite well. His education was as 
good as that of three quarters of the Yankees in Cali- 
fornia, and his manners and principles a good deal 
better; and he was so quick of apprehension that he 
might have been taught navigation, and the elements 
of many of the sciences, with ease. Old " Mr. Bing- 
ham" spoke very little English, almost none, and 
could neither read nor write ; but he was the best- 
hearted old fellow in the world. He must have been 
over fifty years of age. He had two of his front teeth 
knocked out, which was done by his parents as a sign of 
grief at the death of Kamehameha, the great king of 
the Sandwich Islands. We used to tell him that he ate 
Captain Cook, and lost his teeth in that way. That 
was the only thing that ever made him angry. He 
would always be quite excited at that, and say: 
"Aole!" (No.) "Me no eatee Cap'nee Cook! Me 
pickaninny small so high no more ! My fader 
see Cap'nee Cook ! Me no ! " None of them liked 
to have anything said about Captain Cook, for the 
sailors all believe that he was eaten, and that they 
cannot endure to be taunted with. ' New Zealand 
Kanaka eatee white man ; Sandwich Island Kanaka, - 
no. Sandwich Island Kanaka na like pit na haole, all 
'e same a' you ! " 

Mr. Bingham was a sort of patriarch among them, 
and was treated with great respect, though he had not 
the education and energy which gave Mr. Mannini his 
power over them. I have spent hours in talking with this 
old fellow about Kamehameha, the Charlemagne of the 
Sandwich Islands ; his son and successor, Riho Riho, who 
died in England, and was brought to Oahu in the frigate 
Blonde, Captain Lord Byron, and whose funeral he re- 



182 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

membered perfectly; and also about the customs of his 
boyhood, and the changes which had been made by the 
missionaries. He never would allow that human beings 
had been eaten there; and, indeed, it always seemed an 
insult to tell so affectionate, intelligent, and civilized a 
class of men that such barbarities had been practised in 
their own country within the recollection of many of 
them. Certainly, the history of no people on the globe 
can show anything like so rapid an advance from barbar- 
ism. I would have trusted my life and all I had in 
the hands of any one of these people; and certainly, 
had I wished for a favor or act of sacrifice, I would have 
gone to them all, in turn, before I should have applied 
to one of my own countrymen on the coast, and should 
have expected to see it done, before my own country- 
men had got half through counting the cost. Their 
customs, and manner of treating one another, show a 
simple, primitive generosity which is truly delightful, 
and which is often a reproach to our own people. What- 
ever one has they all have. Money, food, clothes, they 
share with one another, even to the last piece of to- 
bacco to put in their pipes. I once heard old Mr. Bing- 
ham say, with the highest indignation, to a Yankee 
trader who was trying to persuade him to keep his 
money to himself, " No ! we no all 'e same a' you ! 
Suppose one got money, all got money. You, sup- 
pose one got money lock him up in chest. No 
good ! " " Kanaka all 'e same a' one ! " This princi- 
ple they carry so far that none of them will eat any- 
thing in sight of others without offering it all round. 
I have seen one of them break a biscuit, which had been 
given him, into five parts, at a time when I knew he was 
on a very short allowance, as there was but little to rat 
on the beach. 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 183 

My favorite among all of them, and one who was liked 
by both officers and men, and by whomever he had 
anything to do with, was Hope. He was an intelligent, 
kind-hearted little fellow, and I never saw him angry, 
though I knew him for more than a year, and have seen 
him imposed upon by white people, and abused by inso- 
lent mates of vessels. He was always civil, and always 
ready, and never forgot a benefit. I once took care of 
him when he was ill, getting medicines from the ship's 
chests, when no captain or officer would do anything for 
him, and he never forgot it. Every Kanaka has one 
particular friend, whom he considers himself bound to 
do everything for, and with whom he has a sort of con- 
tract, an alliance offensive and defensive, and for 
whom he will often make the greatest sacrifices. This 
friend they call aikanc ; and for such did Hope adopt 
me. I do not believe I could have wanted anything 
which he had, that he would not have given me. In 
return for this, I was his friend among the Americans, 
and used to teach him letters and numbers ; for he left 
home before he had learned how to read. He was very 
curious respecting Boston (as they called the United 
States), asking many questions about the houses, the 
people, &c., and always wished to have the pictures in 
books explained to him. They were all astonishingly 
quick in catching at explanations, and many things 
which I had thought it utterly impossible to make them 
understand they often seized in an instant, and asked 
questions which -showed that they knew enough to make 
them wish to go farther. The pictures of steamboats 
and railroad cars, in the columns of some newspaperf 
which I had, gave me great difficulty to explain. The 
grading of the road, the rails, the construction of the 
carriages, they could easily understand, but the motion 



1 84 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

produced by steam was a little too refined for them. I 
attempted to show it to them once by an experiment 
upon the cook's coppers, but failed, probably as much 
from my own ignorance as from their want of apprehen- 
sion, and, I have no doubt, left them with about as 
clear an idea of the principle as I had myself. This diffi- 
culty, of course, existed in the same force with respect to 
the steamboats ; and all I could do was to give them some 
account of the results, in the shape of speed ; for, failing 
in the reason, I had to fall back upon the fact. In my 
account of the speed, I was supported by Tom, who had 
been to Nantucket, and seen a little steamboat which ran 
over to New Bedford. And, by the way, it was strange 
to hear Tom speak of America, when the poor fellow 
had been all the way round Cape Horn and back, and 
had seen nothing but Nantucket. 

A map of the world, which I once showed them, kept 
their attention for hours; those who knew how to read 
pointing out the places and referring to me for the 
distances. I remember being much amused with a 
question which Hope asked me. Pointing to the large, 
irregular place which is always left blank round the 
poles, to denote that it is undiscovered, he looked up 
and asked, "Pan?" (Done? ended?) 

The system of naming the streets and numbering 
the houses they easily understood, and the utility of it. 
They had a great desire to see America, but were afraid 
of doubling Cape Horn, for they suffer much in cold 
weather, and had heard dreadful accounts of the Cape 
from those of their number who had been round it. 

They smoke a great deal, though not much at a time, 
using pipes with large bowls, and very short stems, or 
no stems at all. These they light, and, putting them 
to their mouths, take a long draught, getting their 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 185 

mouths as full as they can hold of smoke, and their 
cheeks distended, and then let it slowly out through 
their mouths and nostrils. The pipe is then passed to 
others, who draw in the same manner, one pipe-full 
serving for half a dozen. They never take short, con- 
tinuous draughts, like Europeans, but one of these 
" Oahu puffs," as the sailors call them, serves for an 
hour or two, until some one else lights his pipe, and it 
is passed round in the same manner. Each Kanaka on 
the beach had a pipe, flint, steel, tinder, a hand of 
tobacco, and a jack-knife, which he always carried about 
with him. 1 

That which strikes a stranger most peculiarly is their 
style of singing. They run on, in a low, guttural, 
monotonous sort of chant, their lips and tongues seem- 
ing hardly to move, and the sounds apparently modu- 
lated solely in the throat. There is very little tune to 
it, and the words, so far as I could learn, are extempore. 
They sing about persons and things which are around 
them, and adopt this method when they do not wish to 
be understood by any but themselves ; and it is very 
effectual, for with the most careful attention I never 
could detect a word that I knew. I have often heard 
Mr. Mannini, who was the most noted improvisatore 
among them, sing for an hour together, when at work in 
the midst of Americans and Englishmen; and, by the 
occasional shouts and laughter of the Kanakas, who 
were at a distance, it was evident that he was singing 
about the different men that he was at work with. They 
have great powers of ridicule, and are excellent mimics, 
many of them discovering and imitating the peculiarities 

1 Matches had not come into use then. I think there were none on 
board any vessel on the coast. We used the tinder box in our fore- 
castle. 



186 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

of our own people before we had observed them our- 
selves. 

These were the people with whom I was to spend a 
few months;, and who, with the exception of the officer, 
Nicholas, the Frenchman, and the boy, made the whole 
population of the beach. I ought, perhaps, to except 
the dogs, for they were an important part of our settle- 
ment. Some of the first vessels brought dogs out with 
them, who, for convenience, were left ashore, and there 
multiplied, until they came to be a great people. While 
I was on the beach, the average number was about 
forty, and probably an equal, or greater, number are 
drowned, or killed in some other way, every year. They 
are very useful in guarding the beach, the Indians being 
afraid to come down at night ; for it was impossible for 
any one to get within half a mile of the hide-houses 
without a general alarm. The father of the colony, old 
Sachem, so called from the ship in which he was brought 
out, died while I was there, full of years, and was hon- 
orably buried. Hogs and a few chickens were the rest 
of the animal tribe, and formed, like the dogs, a com- 
mon company, though they were all known, and usually 
fed at the houses to which they belonged. 

I had been but a few hours on the beach, and the 
Pilgrim was hardly out of sight, when the cry of " Sail 
ho ! " was raised, and a small hermaphrodite brig rounded 
the point, bore up into the harbor, and came to anchor. 
It was the Mexican brig Fazio, which we had left at San 
Pedro, and which had come down to land her tallow, 
try it all over, and make new bags, and then take it in 
and leave the coast. They moored ship, erected their 
try-works on shore, put up a small tent, in which they 
all lived, and commenced operations. This addition 
gave a change and variety to our society, and we spent 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 187 

many evenings in their tent, where, amid the Babel of 
English, Spanish, French, Indian, and Kanaka, we found 
some words that we could understand in common. 

The morning after my landing, I began the duties of 
hide-curing. In order to understand these, it will be 
necessary to give the whole history of a hide, from the 
time it is taken from a bullock until it is put on board 
the vessel to be carried to Boston. When the hide is 
taken from the bullock, holes are cut round it, near the 
edge, by which it is staked out to dry. In this manner 
it dries without shrinking. After the hides are thus 
dried in the sun, and doubled with the skin out, they 
are received by the vessels at the different ports on 
the coast, and brought down to the depot at San Diego. 
The vessels land them, and leave them in large piles 
near the houses. Then begins the hide-curer's duty. 

The first thing is to put them in soak. This is done 
by carrying them down at low tide, and making them 
fast, in small piles, by ropes, and letting the tide come 
up and cover them. Every day we put in soak twenty- 
five for each man, which, with us, made a hundred and 
fifty. There they lie forty-eight hours, when they are 
taken out, and rolled up, in wheelbarrows, and thrown 
into the vats. These vats contain brine, made very 
strong, being sea-water, with great quantities of salt 
thrown in. This pickles the hides, and in this they lie 
forty-eight hours ; the use of the sea-water, into which 
they are first put, being merely to soften and clean them. 
From these vats they are taken, and lie on a platform 
for twenty-four hours, and then are spread upon the 
ground, and carefully stretched and staked out, with the 
skin up, that they may dry smooth. After they had 
been staked, and while yet wet and soft, we used to go 
upon them with our knives, and carefully cut off all the 



1 88 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

bad parts, the pieces of meat and fat, which would 
corrupt and infect the whole if stowed away in a vessel 
for many months, the large flippers, the ears, and all 
other parts which would prevent close stowage. This 
was the most difficult part of our duty, as it required 
much skill to take off everything that ought to come off, 
and not to cut or injure the hide. It was also a long 
process, as six of us had to clean a hundred and fifty, 
most of which required a great deal to be done to them, 
as the Spaniards are very careless in skinning their 
cattle. Then, too, as we cleaned them while they were 
staked out, we were obliged to kneel down upon them, 
which always gives beginners the back-ache. The first 
day I was so slow and awkward that I cleaned only 
eight; at the end of a few days I doubled my number; 
and, in a fortnight or three weeks, could keep up with 
the others, and clean my twenty-five. 

This cleaning must be got through with before noon, 
for by that time the hides get too dry. After the sun 
has been upon them a few hours, they are carefully gone 
over with scrapers, to get off all the grease which the 
sun brings out. This being done, the stakes are pulled 
up, and the hides carefully doubled, with the hair side 
out, and left to dry. About the middle of the afternoon 
they are turned over, for the other side to dry, and at 
sundown piled up and covered over. The next day they 
are spread out and opened again, and at night, if fully 
dry, are thrown upon a long, horizontal pole, five at a 
time, and beaten with flails. This takes all the dust 
from them. Then, having been salted, scraped, cleaned, 
dried, and beaten, they are stowed away in the house. 
Here ends their history, except that they are taken out 
again when the vessel is ready to go home, beaten, 
stowed away on board, carried to Boston, tanned, made 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 189 

into shoes and other articles for which leather is used, 
and many of them, very probably, in the end, brought 
back again to California in the shape of shoes, and worn 
out in pursuit of other bullocks, or in the curing of other 
hides. 

By putting a hundred and fifty in soak every day, 
we had the same number at each stage of curing on 
each day ; so that we had, every day, the same work to 
do upon the same number, a hundred and fifty to put 
in soak, a hundred and fifty to wash out and put in 
the vat, the same number to haul from the vat and put 
on the platform to drain, the same number to spread, 
and stake out, and clean, and the same number to beat 
and stow away in the house. I ought to except Sun- 
day ; for, by a prescription which no captain or agent 
has yet ventured to break in upon, Sunday has been 
a day of leisure on the beach for years. On Saturday 
night, the hides, in every stage of progress, are carefully 
covered up, and not uncovered until Monday morning. 
On Sundays we had absolutely no work to do, unless it 
might be to kill a bullock, which was sent down for our 
use about once a week, and sometimes came on Sunday. 
Another advantage of the hide-curing life was, that we 
had just so much work to do, and when that was through, 
the time was our own. Knowing this, we worked hard, 
and needed no driving. We " turned out " every morning 
with the first signs of daylight, and allowing a short 
time, at about eight o'clock, for breakfast, generally got 
through our labor between one and two o'clock, when 
we dined, and had the rest of the time to ourselves, 
until just before sundown, when we beat the dry hides 
and put them in the house, and covered over all the 
others. By this means we had about three hours to 
ourselves every afternoon, and at sundown we had our 



'190 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

supper, and our work was done for the day. There was 
no watch to stand, and no topsails to reef. The evenings 
we generally spent at one another's houses, and I often 
went up and spent an hour or so at the oven, which was 
called the "Kanaka Hotel," and the " Oahu Coffee- 
house." Immediately after dinner we usually took a 
short siesta, to make up for our early rising, and spent the 
rest of the afternoon according to our own fancies. I 
generally read, wrote, and made or mended clothes ; for 
necessity, the mother of invention, had taught me these 
two latter arts. The Kanakas went up to the oven, and 
spent the time in sleeping, talking, and smoking, and 
my messmate, Nicholas, who neither knew how to read 
nor write, passed away the time by a long siesta, two or 
three smokes with his pipe, and a paseo to the other 
houses. This leisure time is never interfered with, for 
the captains know that the men earn it by working hard 
and fast, and that, if they interfered with it, the men 
could easily make their twenty-five hides apiece last 
through the day. We were pretty independent, too, for 
the master of the house " capitan de la casa " had 
nothing to say to us, except when we were at work on 
the hides; and although we could not go up to the 
town without his permission, this was seldom or never 
refused. 

The great weight of the wet hides, which we were 
obliged to roll about in wheelbarrows; the continual 
stooping upon those which were pegged out to be 
cleaned; and the smell of the nasty vats, into which 
we were often obliged to wade, knee-deep, to press 
down the hides, all made the work disagreeable and 
fatiguing; but we soon became hardened to it, and 
the comparative independence of our life reconciled us to 
it, for there was nobody to haze us and find fault; and 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 191 

when we were through for the day, we had only to wash 
and change our clothes, and our time was our own. 
There was, however, one exception to the time's being 
our own, which was, that on two afternoons of every 
week we were obliged to go off for wood for the cook to 
use in the galley. Wood is very scarce in the vicinity 
of San Diego, there being no trees of any size for miles. 
In the town, the inhabitants burn the small wood which 
grows in thickets, and for which they send out Indians, 
in large numbers, every few days. Fortunately, the 
climate is so fine that they have no need of a fire in 
their houses, and only use it for cooking. With us, the 
getting of wood was a great trouble ; for all that in the 
vicinity of the houses had been cut down, and we were 
obliged to go off a mile or two, and to carry it some dis- 
tance on our backs, as we could not get the hand-cart 
up the hills and over the uneven places. Two after- 
noons in the week, generally Monday and Thursday, as 
soon as we were through dinner, we started off for the 
bush, each of us furnished with a hatchet and a long 
piece of rope, and dragging the hand-cart behind us, and 
followed by the whole colony of dogs, who were always 
ready for the bush, and were half mad whenever they 
saw our preparations. We went with the hand-cart as 
far as we could conveniently drag it, and, leaving it in 
an open, conspicuous place, separated ourselves, each 
taking his own course, and looking about for some good 
place to begin upon. Frequently, we had to go nearly 
a mile from the hand-cart before we could find any fit 
place. Having lighted upon a good thicket, the next 
thing was to clear away the underbrush, and have fair 
play at the trees. These trees are seldom more than 
five or six feet high, and the highest that I ever saw in 
these expeditions could not have been more than twelve, 



192 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

so that, with lopping off the branches and clearing away 
the underwood, we had a good deal of cutting to do for 
a very little wood. Having cut enough for a " back- 
load," the next thing was to make it well fast with the 
rope, and heaving the bundle upon our backs, and taking 
the hatchet in hand, to walk off, up hill and down dale, 
to the hand-cart. Two good back-loads apiece filled the 
hand-cart, and that was each one's proportion. When 
each had brought down his second load, we filled the 
hand-cart, and took our way again slowly back to the 
beach. It was generally sundown when we got back; 
and unloading, covering the hides for the night, and, 
getting our supper, finished the day's work. 

These wooding excursions had always a mixture of 
something rather pleasant in them. Roaming about in 
the woods with hatchet in hand, like a backwoodsman, 
followed by a troop of dogs, starting up birds, snakes, 
hajes, and foxes, and examining the various kinds of 
trees, flowers, and birds'-nests, was, at least, a change 
from the monotonous drag and pull on shipboard. Fre- 
quently, too, we had some amusement and adventure. 
The coyotes, of which I have before spoken, a sort 
of mixture of the fox and wolf breeds, fierce little 
animals, with bushy tails and large heads, and a quick, 
sharp bark, abound here, as in all other parts of Cali- 
fornia. These the dogs were very watchful for, and, 
whenever they saw them, started off in full run after 
them. We had many fine chases; yet, although our 
dogs ran fast, the rascals generally escaped. They 
are a match for the dog, one to one, but as the 
dogs generally went in squads, there was seldom a fair 
fight. A smaller dog, belonging to us, once attacked a 
coyote single, and was considerably worsted, and might, 
perhaps, have been killed, had we not come to his assist- 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 193 

ance. We had, however, one dog which gave them a 
good deal of trouble and many hard runs. He was a 
fine, tall fellow, and united strength and agility better 
than any dog that I have ever seen. He was born at 
the Islands, his father being an English mastiff and his 
mother a greyhound. He had the high head, long legs, 
narrow body, and springing gait of the latter, and the 
heavy jaw, thick jowls, and strong fore-quarters of the 
mastiff. When he was brought to San Diego, an Eng- 
lish sailor said that he looked, about the face, like the 
Duke of Wellington, whom he had once seen at the 
Tower; and, indeed, there was something about him 
which resembled the portraits of the Duke. From this 
time he was christened " Welly," and became the favor- 
ite and bully of the beach. He always led the dogs by 
several yards in the chase, and had killed two coyotes at 
different times in single combats. We often had fine 
sport with these fellows. A quick, sharp bark from a 
coyote, and in an instant every dog was at the height 
of his speed. A few minutes made up for an unfair 
start, and gave each dog his right place. Welly, at the 
head, seemed almost to skim over the bushes, and after 
him came Fanny, Feliciana, Childers, and the other fleet 
ones, the spaniels and terriers ; and then, behind, fol- 
lowed the heavy corps, bull-dogs, &c., for we had 
every breed. Pursuit by us was in vain, and in about 
half an hour the dogs would begin to come panting and 
straggling back. 

Beside the coyotes, the dogs sometimes made prizes 
of rabbits and hares, which are plentiful here, and num- 
bers of which we often shot for our dinners. Among 
the other animals there was a reptile I was not so much 
disposed to find amusement from, the rattlesnake. These 
snakes are very abundant here, especially during the 



194 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

spring of the year. The latter part of the time that I 
was on shore, I did not meet with so many, but for the 
first two months we seldom went into " the bush " with- 
out one of our number starting some of them. I re- 
member perfectly well the first one that I ever saw. I 
had left my companions, and was beginning to clear 
away a fine clump of trees, when, just in the midst of 
the thicket, but a few yards from me, one of these fel- 
lows set up his hiss. It is a sharp, continuous sound, 
and resembles very much the letting off of the steam 
from the small pipe of a steamboat, except that it is on 
a smaller scale. I knew, by the sound of an axe, that 
one of my companions was near, and called out to him, 
to let him know what I had fallen upon. He took it 
very lightly, and as he seemed inclined to laugh at me 
for being afraid, I determined to keep my place. I 
knew that so long as I could hear the rattle I was safe, 
for these snakes never make a noise when they are in 
motion. Accordingly I continued my work, and the 
noise which I made with cutting and breaking the trees 
kept him in alarm ; so that I had the rattle to show me 
his whereabouts. Once or twice the noise stopped for a 
short time, which gave me a little uneasiness, and, re- 
treating a few steps, I threw something into the bush, 
at which he would set his rattle agoing, and, finding 
that he had not moved from his first place, I was easy 
again. In this way I continued at my work until I had 
cut a full load, never suffering him to be quiet for a 
moment. Having cut my load, I strapped it together, 
and got everything ready for starting. I felt that I could 
now call the others without the imputation of being 
afraid, and went in search of them. In a few minutes 
we were all collected, and began an attack upon the 
bush. The big Frenchman, who was the one that I had 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 195 

called to at first, I found as little inclined to approach 
the snake as I had been. The dogs, too, seemed afraid 
of the rattle, and kept up a barking at a safe distance; 
but the Kanakas showed no fear, and, getting long sticks, 
went into the bush, and, keeping a bright lookout, stood 
within a few feet of him. One or two blows struck near 
him, and a few stones thrown started him, and we lost 
his track, and had the pleasant consciousness that he 
might be directly under our feet. By throwing stones 
and chips in different directions, we made him spring 
his rattle again, and began another attack. This time 
we drove him into the clear ground, and saw him glid- 
ing off, with head and tail erect, when a stone, well 
aimed, knocked him over the bank, down a declivity of 
fifteen or twenty feet, and stretched him at his length. 
Having made sure of him by a few more stones, we 
went down, and one of the Kanakas cut off his rattle. 
These rattles vary in number, it is said, according to 
the age of the snake; though the Indians think they 
indicate the number of creatures they have killed. We 
always preserved them as trophies, and at the end of 
the summer had a considerable collection. None of our 
people were bitten by them, but one of our dogs died of 
a bite, and another was supposed to have been bitten, 
but recovered. We had no remedy for the bite, though 
it was said that the Indians of the country had, and the 
Kanakas professed to have an herb which would cure it, 
but it was fortunately never brought to the test. 

Hares and rabbits, as I said before, were abundant; 
and, during the winter months, the waters are covered 
with wild ducks and geese. Crows, too, abounded, and 
frequently alighted in great numbers upon our hides, 
picking at the pieces of dried meat and fat. Bears and 
wolves are numerous in the upper parts of the coast, 



196 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

and in the interior (and, indeed, a man was killed by a 
bear within a few miles of San Pedro, while we were 
there), but there were none in our immediate neighbor- 
hood. The only other animals were horses. More than 
a dozen of these were owned by men on the beach, and 
were allowed to run loose among the hills, with a long 
lasso attached to them, to pick up feed wherever they 
could find it. We were sure of seeing them once a day, 
for there was no water among the hills, and they were 
obliged to come down to the well which had been dug 
upon the beach. These horses were bought at from 
two to six and eight dollars apiece, and were held very 
much as common property. We generally kept one fast 
to one of the houses, so that we could mount him and 
catch any of the others. Some of them were really fine 
animals, and gave us many good runs up to the presidio 
and over the country. 




XX 



ATER we had been a few weeks on shore, and 
had begun to feel broken into the regularity 
of our life, its monotony was interrupted by 
the arrival of two vessels from the windward. We 
were sitting at dinner in our little room, when we 
heard the cry of " Sail ho ! " This, we had learned, did 
not always signify a vessel, but was raised whenever a 
woman was seen coming down from the town, or an ox- 
cart, or anything unusual, hove in sight upon the road ; so 
\ve took no notice of it. But it soon became so loud and 
general from all parts of the beach that we were led to go 
to the door ; and there, sure enough, were two sails com- 
ing round the point, and leaning over from the strong 
northwest wind, which blows down the coast every 
afternoon. The headmost was a ship, and the other a 
brig. Everybody was alive on the beach, and all man- 
ner of conjectures were abroad. Some said it was 
the Pilgrim, with the Boston ship, which we were ex- 
pecting; but we soon saw that the brig was not the 
Pilgrim, and the ship, with her stump top-gallant-masts 
and rusty sides, could not be a dandy Boston Indiaman. 
As they drew nearer, we discovered the high poop, and 
top-gallant forecastle, and other marks of the Italian 



198 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

ship Rosa, and the brig proved to be the Catalina, which 
we saw at Santa Barbara, just arrived from Valparaiso. 
They came to anchor, moored ship, and began dis- 
charging hides and tallow. The Rosa had purchased the 
house occupied by the Lagoda, and the Catalina took 
the other spare one between ours and the Ayacucho's, 
so that now each house was occupied, and the beach, 
for several days, was all animation. The Catalina had 
several Kanakas on board, who were immediately laid 
hold of by the others, and carried up to the oven, where 
they had a long pow-wow and a smoke. Two French- 
men, who belonged to the Rosa's crew, came in every 
evening to see Nicholas; and from them we learned 
that the Pilgrim was at San Pedro, and was the only 
vessel from the United States now on the coast. 
Several of the Italians slept on shore at their hide- 
house; and there, and at the tent in which the Fazio's 
crew lived, we had some singing almost every evening. 
The Italians sang a variety of songs, barcarollas, pro- 
vincial airs, &c. ; in several of which I recognized parts 
of our favorite operas and sentimental songs. They 
often joined in a song, taking the different parts, which 
produced a fine effect, as many of them had good voices, 
and all sang with spirit. One young man, in particu- 
lar, had a falsetto as clear as a clarionet. 

The greater part of the crews of the vessels came 
ashore every evening, and we passed the time in going 
about from one house to another, and listening to all 
manner of languages. The Spanish was the common 
ground upon which we all met ; for every one knew 
more or less of that. We had now, out of forty or fifty, 
representatives from almost every nation under the sun, 
two Englishmen, three Yankees, two Scotchmen, two 
Welshmen, one Irishman, three Frenchmen (two of 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 199 

whom were Normans, and the third from Gascony), one 
Dutchman, one Austrian, two or three Spaniards (from 
old Spain), half a dozen Spanish-Americans and half- 
breeds, two native Indians from Chili and the Island of 
Chiloe, one negro, one mulatto, about twenty Italians, 
from all parts of Italy, as many more Sandwich-Island- 
ers, one Tahitian, and one Kanaka from the Marquesas 
Islands. 

The night before the vessels were ready to sail, all 
the Europeans united and had an entertainment at the 
Rosa's hide-house, and we had songs of every nation and 
tongue. A German gave us " Ach ! mein lieber Augus- 
tin ! " the three Frenchmen roared through the Mar- 
seilles Hymn ; the English and Scotchmen gave us " Rule 
Britannia," and " Wha '11 be King but Charlie?" the 
Italians and Spaniards screamed through some national 
affairs, for which I was none the wiser ; and we three 
Yankees made an attempt at the " Star-spangled Ban- 
ner." After these national tributes had been paid, the 
Austrian gave us a pretty little love-song, and the 
Frenchmen sang a spirited thing, " Sentinelle ! O 
prenez garde a vous ! " - and then followed the melange 
which might have been expected. When I left them, 
the aguardiente and annisou were pretty well in their 
heads, they were all singing and talking at once, and 
their peculiar national oaths were getting as plenty as 
pronouns. 

The next day, the two vessels got under way for the 
windward, and left us in quiet possession of the beach. 
Our numbers were somewhat enlarged by the opening of 
the new houses, and the society of the beach was a little 
changed. In charge of the Catalina's house was an old 
Scotchman, Robert, who, like most of his countrymen, 
had some education, and, like many of them, was rather 



200 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

pragmatical, and had a ludicrously solemn conceit 
of himself. He employed his time in taking care of 
his pigs, chickens, turkeys, dogs, &c., and in smoking 
his long pipe. Everything was as neat as a pin in the 
house, and he was as regular in his hours as a chronom- 
eter, but, as he kept very much by himself, was not a 
great addition to our society. He hardly spent a cent 
all the time he \vas on the beach, and the others said 
he was no shipmate. He had been a petty officer on 
board the British frigate Dublin, Captain Lord James 
Townshend, and had great ideas of his own importance. 
The man in charge of the Rosa's house, Schmidt, was an 
Austrian, but spoke, read, and wrote four languages with 
ease and correctness. German was his native tongue, 
but being born near the borders of Italy, and having 
sailed out of Genoa, the Italian was almost as familiar 
to him as his own language. He was six years on 
board of an English man-of-war, where he learned to 
speak our language easily, and also to read and write it. 
He had been several years in Spanish vessels, and had 
acquired that language so well that he could read books 
in it. He was between forty and fifty years of age, 
and was a singular mixture of the man-of-war's-man and 
Puritan. He talked a great deal about propriety and 
steadiness, and gave good advice to the youngsters 
and Kanakas, but seldom went up to the town without 
coming down " three sheets in the wind." One holiday, 
he and old Robert (the Scotchman from the Catalina) 
went up to the town, and got so cosey, talking over old 
stories and giving each other good advice, that they 
came down, double-backed, on a horse, and both rolled 
off into the sand as soon as the horse stopped. This 
put an end to their pretensions, and they never heard 
the last of it from the rest of the men. On the night 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 201 

of the entertainment at the Rosa's house, I saw old 
Schmidt (that was the Austrian's name) standing up by 
a hogshead, holding on by both hands, and calling out 
to himself : " Hold on, Schmidt ! hold on, my good 
fellow, or you '11 be on your back ! " Still, he was an in- 
telligent, good-natured old fellow, and had a chest full of 
books, which he willingly lent me to read. In the same 
house with him were a Frenchman and an Englishman, 
the latter a regular-built " man-o'-war Jack," a thorough 
seaman, a hearty, generous fellow, and, at the same 
time, a drunken, dissolute dog. He made it a point to 
get drunk every time he went to the presidio, when he 
always managed to sleep on the road, and have his 
money stolen from him. These, with a Chilian and 
half a dozen Kanakas, formed the addition to our 
company. 

In about six weeks from the time when the Pilgrim 
sailed, we had all the hides which she left us cured and 
stowed away; and having cleared up the ground and 
emptied the vats, and set everything in order, had noth- 
ing more to do, until she should come down again, but 
to supply ourselves with wood. Instead of going twice 
a week for this purpose, we determined to give one 
whole week to getting wood, and then we should have 
enough to last us half through the summer. Accord- 
ingly we started off every morning, after an early 
breakfast, with our hatchets in hand, and cut wood 
until the sun was over the point, which was our 
mark for noon, as there was not a watch on the beach, 

and then came back to dinner, and after dinner 
started off again with our hand-cart and ropes, and 
carted and " backed " it down until sunset. This we 
kept up for a week, until we had collected several cords, 

enough to last us for six or eight weeks, when we 



202 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

" knocked off " altogether, much to my joy ; for, though 
I liked straying in the woods, and cutting, very well, 
yet the backing the wood for so great a distance, over 
an uneven country, was, without exception, the hardest 
work I had ever done. I usually had to kneel down, 
and contrive to heave the load, which was well strapped 
together, upon my back, and then rise up and start 
off with it, up the hills and down the vales, sometimes 
through thickets, the rough points sticking into the 
skin and tearing the clothes, so that, at the end of the 
week I had hardly a whole shirt to my back. 

We were now through all our work, and had nothing 
more to do until the Pilgrim should come down again. 
We had nearly got through our provisions too, as well 
as our work ; for our officer had been very wasteful 
of them, and the tea, flour, sugar, and molasses were 
all gone. We suspected him of sending them up to 
the town ; and he always treated the squaws with 
molasses when they came down to the beach. Finding 
wheat-coffee and dry bread rather poor living, we clubbed 
together, and I went to the town on horseback, with 
a great salt-bag behind the saddle, and a few reals in 
my pocket, and brought back the bag full of onions, 
beans, pears, watermelons, and other fruits ; for the 
young woman who tended the garden, rinding that I 
belonged to the American ship, and that we were 
short of provisions, put in a larger portion. With 
these we lived like fighting-cocks for a week or two, 
and had, besides, what the sailors call a " blow-out on 
sleep," not turning out in the morning until breakfast 
was ready. I employed several days in overhauling 
my chest, and mending up all my old clothes, until I 
had put everything in order, " patch upon patch, like 
a sand-barge's mainsail." Then I took hold of Bowditch's 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 203 

Navigator, which I had always with me. I had been 
through the greater part of it, and now went carefully 
over it from beginning to end, working out most 
of the examples. That done, and there being no signs 
of the Pilgrim, I made a descent upon old Schmidt, 
and borrowed and read all the books there were upon 
the beach. Such a dearth was there of these latter 
articles, that anything, even a little child's story-book, 
or the half of a shipping calendar, seemed a treas- 
ure. I actually read a jest-book through, from begin- 
ning to end, in one day, as I should a novel, and enjoyed 
it much. At last, when I thought that there were no 
more to be had, I found at the bottom of old Schmidt's 
chest, " Mandeville, a Romance, by Godwin, in five 
volumes." This I had never read, but Godwin's name 
was enough, and, after the wretched trash I had devoured, 
anything bearing the name of an intellectual man was a 
prize indeed. I bore it off, and for two days I was up 
early and late, reading with all my might, and actually 
drinking in delight. It is no extravagance to say that 
it was like a spring in a desert land. 

From the sublime to the ridiculous-- so, with me, 
from Mandeville to hide-curing-- was but a step; for- 

Wednesday, July 8th, brought us the brig Pilgrim 
from the windward. As she came in, we found that she 
was a good deal altered in her appearance. Her short 
top-gallant-masts were up, her bowlines all unrove (ex- 
cept to the courses), the quarter boom-irons off her 
lower yards, her jack-cross-trees sent down, several 
blocks got rid of, running rigging rove in new places, 
and numberless other changes of the same character. 
Then, too, there was a new voice giving orders, and a 
new face on the quarter-deck, a short, dark-complex- 
ioned man, in a green jacket and a high leather cap. 



204 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

These changes, of course, set the whole beach on the 
qui-vive, and we were all waiting for the boat to come 
ashore, that we might have things explained. At length, 
after the sails were furled and the anchor carried out, 
her boat pulled ashore, and the news soon flew that the 
expected ship had arrived at Santa Barbara, and that 
Captain Thompson had taken command of her, and her 
captain, Faucon, had taken the Pilgrim, and was the 
green- jacketed man on the quarter-deck. The boat put 
directly off again, without giving us time to ask any 
more questions, and we were obliged to wait till night, 
when we took a little skiff, that lay on the beach, and 
paddled off. When I stepped aboard, the second mate 
called me aft, and gave me a large bundle, directed to 
me, and marked " Ship Alert." This was what I had 
longed for, yet I refrained from opening it until I went 
ashore. Diving down into the forecastle, I found the same 
old crew, and was really glad to see them again. Nu- 
merous inquiries passed as to the new ship, the latest 
news from Boston, &c., &c. Stimson had received let- 
ters from home, and nothing remarkable had happened. 
The Alert was agreed on all hands to be a fine ship, and 
a large one : " Larger than the Rosa," " Big enough 
to carry off all the hides in California," " Rail as high 
as a man's head," - " A crack ship," "A regular 
dandy," &c., &c. Captain Thompson took command of 
her, and she went directly up to Monterey; thence she 
was to go to San Francisco, and probably would not 
be in San Diego under two or three months. Some of 
the Pilgrim's crew found old shipmates aboard of her, 
and spent an hour or two in her forecastle the evening 
before she sailed. They said her decks were as white as 
snow, holystoned every morning, like a man-of-war's ; 
everything on board " ship-shape and Bristol fashion " ; 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 205 

a fine crew, three mates, a sailmaker and carpenter, and 
all complete. " They 've got a man for mate of that 
ship, and not a bloody sheep about decks ! " - " A mate 
that knows his duty, and makes everybody do theirs, 
and won't be imposed upon by either captain or crew." 
After collecting all the information we could get on this 
point, we asked something about their new captain. 
He had hardly been on board long enough for them to 
know much about him, but he had taken hold strong, as 
soon as he took command, shifting the top-gallant- 
masts, and unreeving all the studding-sail gear and 
half the running rigging, the very first day. 

Having got all the news we could, we pulled ashore; 
and as soon as we reached the house, I, as might be sup- 
posed, fell directly to opening my bundle, and found a 
reasonable supply of duck, flannel shirts, shoes, &c., and, 
what was still more valuable, a packet of eleven letters. 
These I sat up nearly all night reading, and put them 
carefully away, to be re-read again and again at my 
leisure. Then came half a dozen newspapers, the last 
of which gave notice of Thanksgiving, and of the clearance 
of " ship Alert, Edward H. Faucon, master, for Callao 
and California, by Bryant, Sturgis, & Co." Only those 
who have been on distant voyages, and after a long ab- 
sence received a newspaper from home, can understand 
the delight that they give one. I read every part of 
them, the houses to let, things lost or stolen, auc- 
tion sales, and all. Nothing carries you so entirely to a 
place, and makes you feel so perfectly at home, as a 
newspaper. The very name of " Boston Daily Adver- 
tiser " " sounded hospitably upon the ear." 

The Pilgrim discharged her hides, which set us at work 
again, and in a few days we were in the old routine of 
dry hides, wet hides, cleaning, beating, &c. Captain 



206 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

Faucon came quietly up to me, as I was sitting upon a 
stretched hide, cutting- the meat from it with my knife, 
and asked me how I liked California, and repeated, 

' Tityre, tu patulae recubans sub tegmine fagi." 

Very apropos, thought I, and, at the same time, shows 
that you have studied Latin. However, it was kind 
of him, and an attention from a captain is a thing 
not to be slighted. Thompson's majesty could not 
have bent to it, in the sight of so many mates and 
men ; but Faucon was a man of education, literary 
habits, and good social position, and held things at their 
right value. 

Saturday, July nth. The Pilgrim set sail for the 
windward, and left us to go on in our old way. Having 
laid in such a supply of wood, and the days being now 
long, and invariably pleasant, we had a good deal of 
time to ourselves. The duck I received from home 
I soon made up into trousers and frocks, and, having 
formed the remnants of the duck into a cap, I displayed 
myself, every Sunday, in a complete suit of my own 
make, from head to foot. Reading, mending, sleeping, 
with occasional excursions into the bush, with the dogs, 
in search of coyotes, hares, and rabbits, or to encounter 
a rattlesnake, and now and then a visit to the presidio, 
filled up our spare time after hide-curing was over for 
the day. Another amusement which we sometimes in- 
dulged in was " burning the water " for craw-fish. For 
this purpose we procured a pair of grains, with a long 
staff like a harpoon, and, making torches with tarred 
rope twisted round a long pine stick, took the only boat 
on the beach, a small skiff, and with a torch-bearer in 
the bow, a steersman in the stern, and one man on each 
side with the grains, went off, on dark nights, to burn 




BURNING THE WATER 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 20* 

the water. This is fine sport. Keeping within a few 
rods of the shore, where the water is not more than 
ihree or four feet deep, with a clear, sandy bottom, the 
torches light everything up so that one could almost have 
seen a pin among the grains of sand. The craw-fish are 
an easy prey, and we used soon to get a load of them. 
The other fish were more difficult to catch, yet we fre- 
quently speared a number of them, of various kinds and 
sizes. The Pilgrim brought us a supply of fish-hooks, 
which we had never had before on the beach, and for 
several days we went down to the Point, and caught a 
quantity of cod and mackerel. On one of these expe- 
ditions, we saw a battle between two Sandwich-Islanders 
and a shark. " Johnny " had been playing about our 
boat for some time, driving away the fish, and showing 
his teeth at our bait, when we missed him, and in a few 
minutes heard a great shouting between two Kanakas 
who were fishing on the rock opposite to us : " E hana 
hana make i ka ia null " " E pii mai Aikane! " &c., &c. ; 
and saw them pulling away on a stout line, and " Johnny 
Shark " floundering at the other end. The line soon 
broke; but the Kanakas would not let him off so easily, 
and sprang directly into the water after him. Now 
came the tug of war. Before he could get into deep 
water, one of them seized him by the tail, and ran up 
with him upon the beach ; but Johnny twisted round, 
and turning his head under his body, and showing his 
teeth in the vicinity of the Kanaka's hand, made him 
let go and spring out of the way. The shark now turned 
tail and made the best of his way, by flapping and floun- 
dering, toward deep water; but here again, before he 
was fairly off, the other Kanaka seized him by the tail, 
and made a spring toward the beach, his companion at 
the same time paying away upon him with stones and a 



208 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

large stick. As soon, however, as the shark could turn, 
the man was obliged to let go his hold; but the instant 
he made toward deep water, they were both behind him, 
watching their chance to seize him. In this way the 
battle went on for some time, the shark, in a rage, 
splashing and twisting about, and the Kanakas, in high 
excitement, yelling at the top of their voices. But the 
shark at last got off, carrying away a hook and line, and 
not a few severe bruises. 




CHAPTER 
XXI 



WE kept up a constant connection with the pre- 
sidio, and by the close of the summer I had 
added much to my vocabulary, beside hav- 
ing made the acquaintance of nearly everybody in the 
place, and acquired some knowledge of the character and 
habits of the people, as well as of the institutions under 
which they live. 

California was discovered in 1534 by Ximenes, or in 
T 536 by Cortes, I cannot settle which, and was subse- 
quently visited by many other adventurers, as well as 
commissioned voyagers of the Spanish crown. It was 
found to be inhabited by numerous tribes of Indians, 
and to be in many parts extremely fertile; to which, of 
course, were added rumors of gold mines, pearl fishery, 
&c. No sooner was the importance of the country 
known, than the Jesuits obtained leave to establish 
themselves in it, to Christianize and enlighten the In- 
dians. They established missions in various parts of 
the country toward the close of the seventeenth century, 
and collected the natives about them, baptizing them 
into the Church, and teaching them the arts of civilized 
life. To protect the Jesuits in their missions, and at the 
same time to support the power of the crown over the 



210 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

civilized Indians, two forts were erected and garrisoned, 
one at San Diego, and the other at Monterey. These 
were called presidios, and divided the command of the 
whole country between them. Presidios have since been 
established at Santa Barbara, San Francisco, and other 
places, dividing the country into large districts, each 
with its presidio, and governed by a commandante. 
The soldiers, for the most part, married civilized Indians ; 
and thus, in the vicinity of each presidio, sprung up, 
gradually, small towns. In the course of time, vessels 
began to come into the ports to trade with the missions 
and received hides in return ; and thus began the great 
trade of California. Nearly all the cattle in the country 
belonged to the missions, and they employed their In- 
dians, who became, in fact, their serfs, in tending their 
vast herds. In the year 1793, when Vancouver visited 
San Diego, the missions had obtained great wealth and 
power, and are accused of having depreciated the 
country with the sovereign, that they might be allowed 
to retain their possessions. On the expulsion of the 
Jesuits from the Spanish dominions, the missions passed 
into the hands of the Franciscans, though without any 
essential change in their management. Ever since the 
independence of Mexico, the missions had been going 
down ; until, at last, a law was passed, stripping them 
of all their possessions, and confining the priests to 
their spiritual duties, at the same time declaring all the 
Indians free and independent Rancheros. The change 
in the condition of the Indians was, as may be supposed, 
only nominal; they are virtually serfs, as much as the* 
ever were. But in the missions the change was com- 
plete. The priests have now no power, except in theii 
religious character, and the great possessions of tb-* 
missions are given over to be preyed upon by the harpies 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 211 

of the civil power, who are sent there in the capacity of 
administradores, to settle up the concerns; and who 
usually end, in a few years, by making themselves for- 
tunes, and leaving their stewardships worse than they 
found them. The dynasty of the priests was much 
more acceptable to the people of the country, and, in- 
deed, to every one concerned with the country, by trade 
or otherwise, than that of the administradores. The 
priests were connected permanently to one mission, and 
felt the necessity of keeping up its credit. Accordingly 
the debts of the missions were regularly paid, and the 
people were, in the main, well treated, and attached to 
those who had spent their whole lives among them. But 
the administradores are strangers sent from Mexico, 
having no interest in the country; not identified in any 
way with their charge, and, for the most part, men of 
desperate fortunes, broken-down politicians and sol- 
diers, whose only object is to retrieve their condition 
in as short a time as possible. The change had been 
made but a few years before our arrival upon the coast, 
yet, in that short time, the trade was much diminished, 
credit impaired, and the venerable missions were going 
rapidly to decay. 

The external political arrangements remain the same. 
There are four or more presidios, having under their pro- 
tection the various missions, and the pueblos, which are 
towns formed by the civil power and containing no mis- 
sion or presidio. The most northerly presidio is San 
Francisco, the next Monterey, the next Santa Barbara, 
including the mission of the same, San Luis Obispo, and 
Santa Buenaventura, which is said to be the best mis- 
sion in the whole country, having fertile soil and rich 
vineyards. The last, and most southerly, is San Diego, 
including the mission of the same, San Juan Capistrano, 



212 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

the Pueblo de los Angeles, the largest town in Califor- 
nia, with the neighboring mission of San Gabriel. The 
priests, in spiritual matters, are subject to the Arch- 
bishop of Mexico, and in temporal matters to the gov- 
ernor-general, who is the great civil and military head 
of the country. 

The government of the country is an arbitrary de- 
mocracy, having no common law, and nothing that we 
should call a judiciary. Their only laws are made and 
unmade at the caprice of the legislature, and are as 
variable as the legislature itself. They pass through the 
form of sending representatives to the congress at 
Mexico, but as it takes several months to go and return, 
and there is very little communication between the capi- 
tal and this distant province, a member usually stays 
there as permanent member, knowing very well that 
there will be revolutions at home before he can write 
and receive an answer; and if another member should 
be sent, he has only to challenge him, and decide the 
contested election in that way. 

Revolutions are matters of frequent occurrence in Cali- 
fornia. They are got up by men who are at the foot of 
the ladder and in desperate circumstances, just as a new 
political organization may be started by such men in our 
own country. The only object, of course, is the loaves 
and fishes ; and instead of caucusing, paragraphing, libel- 
ling, feasting, promising, and lying, they take mus- 
kets and bayonets, and, seizing upon the presidio and 
custom-house, divide the spoils, and declare a new 
dynasty. As for justice, they know little law but will 
and fear. A Yankee, who had been naturalized, and 
become a Catholic, and had married in the country, was 
sitting in his house at the Pueblo de los Angeles, with 
his wife and children, when a Mexican, with whom he 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 213 

had had a difficulty, entered the house, and stabbed him 
to the heart before them all. The murderer was seized 
by some Yankees who had settled there, and kept in 
confinement until a statement of the whole affair could 
be sent to the governor-general. The governor-general 
refused to do anything about it, and the countrymen of 
the murdered man, seeing no prospect of justice being 
administered, gave notice that, if nothing was done, they 
should try the man themselves. It chanced that, at this 
time, there was a company of some thirty or forty trap- 
pers and hunters from the Western States, with their 
rifles, who had made their head-quarters at the Pueblo; 
and these, together with the Americans and Englishmen 
in the place, who were between twenty and thirty in 
number, took possession of the town, and, waiting a rea- 
sonable time, proceeded to try the man according to the 
forms in their own country. A judge and jury were ap- 
pointed, and he was tried, convicted, sentenced to be 
shot, and carried out before the town blindfolded. The 
names of all the men were then put into a hat, and each 
one pledging himself to perform his duty, twelve names 
were drawn out, and the men took their stations with 
their rifles, and, firing at the word, laid him dead. He 
was decently buried, and the place was restored quietly 
to the proper authorities. A general, with titles enough 
for an hidalgo, was at San Gabriel, and issued a procla- 
mation as long as the fore-top-bowline, threatening de- 
struction to the rebels, but never stirred from his fort ; 
for forty Kentucky hunters, with their rifles, and a dozen 
of Yankees and Englishmen, were a match for a whole 
regiment of hungry, drawling, lazy half-breeds. This 
affair happened while we were at San Pedro (the port 
of the Pueblo), and we had the particulars from those 
who were on the spot. A few months afterwards, 



214 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

another man was murdered on the high-road between 
the Pueblo and San Luis Rey by his own wife and a man 
with whom she ran off. The foreigners pursued and shot 
them both, according to one story. According to another 
version, nothing was done about it, as the parties were 
natives, and a man whom I frequently saw in San Diego 
was pointed out as the murderer. Perhaps they were 
two cases, that had got mixed. 

When a crime has been committed by Indians, justice, 
or rather vengeance, is not so tardy. One Sunday after- 
noon, while I was at San Diego, an Indian was sitting 
on his horse, when another, with whom he had had 
some difficulty, came up to him, drew a long knife, and 
plunged it directly into the horse's heart. The Indian 
sprang from his falling horse, drew out the knife, and 
plunged it into the other Indian's breast, over his 
shoulder, and laid him dead. The fellow was seized at 
once, clapped into the calabozo, and kept there until an 
answer could be received from Monterey. A few weeks 
afterwards I saw the poor wretch, sitting on the bare 
ground, in front of the calabozo, with his feet chained to 
a stake, and handcuffs about his wrists. I knew there 
was very little hope for him. Although the deed was 
done in hot blood, the horse on which he was sitting be- 
ing his own, and a favorite with him, yet he was an In- 
dian, and that was enough. In about a week after I saw 
him, I heard that he had been shot. These few instances 
will serve to give one a notion of the distribution of jus- 
tice in California. 

In their domestic relations, these people are not better 
than in their public. The men are thriftless, proud, 
extravagant, and very much given to gaming; and the 
women have but little education, and a good deal of 
beauty, and their morality, of course, is none of the 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 215 

best ; yet the instances of infidelity are much less fre- 
quent than one would at first suppose. In fact, one vice 
is set over against another; and thus something like a 
balance is obtained. If the women have but little virtue, 
the jealousy of their husbands is extreme, and their re- 
venge deadly and almost certain. A few inches of cold 
steel has been the punishment of many an unwary man, 
who has been guilty, perhaps, of nothing more than 
indiscretion. The difficulties of the attempt are numer- 
ous, and the consequences of discovery fatal, in the bet- 
ter classes. With the unmarried women, too, great 
watchfulness is used. The main object of the parents is 
to marry their daughters well, and to this a fair name is 
necessary. The sharp eyes of a duena, and the ready 
weapons of a father or brother, are a protection which 
the characters of most of them men and women 
render by no means useless ; for the very men who 
would lay down their lives to avenge the dishonor of 
their own family would risk the same lives to complete 
the dishonor of another. 

Of the poor Indians very little care is taken. The 
priests, indeed, at the missions, are said to keep them 
very strictly, and some rules are usually made by the 
alcaldes to punish their misconduct ; yet it all amounts 
to but little. Indeed, to show the entire want of any 
sense of morality or domestic duty among them, I have 
frequently known an Indian to bring his wife, to whom he 
was lawfully married in the church, down to the beach, 
and carry her back again, dividing with her the money 
which she had got from the sailors. If any of the girls 
were discovered by the alcalde to be open evil livers, they 
were whipped, and kept at work sweeping the square of 
the presidio, and carrying mud and bricks for the build- 
ings; yet a few reals would generally buy them off. In- 



216 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

temperance, too, is a common vice among the Indians. 
The Mexicans, on the contrary, are abstemious, and 
I do not remember ever having seen a Mexican in- 
toxicated. 

Such are the people who inhabit a country embracing 
four or five hundred miles of sea-coast, with several good 
harbors ; with fine forests in the north ; the waters filled 
with fish, and the plains covered with thousands of herds 
of cattle; blessed with a climate than which there can be 
no better in the world ; free from all manner of diseases, 
whether epidemic or endemic ; and with a soil in which 
corn yields from seventy to eighty fold. In the hands 
of an enterprising people, what a country this might be! 
we are ready to say. Yet how long would a people re- 
main so, in such a country? The Americans (as those 
from the United States are called) and Englishmen, who 
are fast filling up the principal towns, and getting the 
trade into their hands, are indeed more industrious and 
effective than the Mexicans ; yet their children are 
brought up Mexicans in most respects, and if the 
"California fever" (laziness) spares the first generation, 
it is likely to attack the second. 




CHAPTER 
XXII 



SATURDAY, July i8th. This day sailed the 
Mexican hermaphrodite brig Fazio, for San 
Bias and Mazatlan. This was the brig which 
was driven ashore at San Pedro in a southeaster, 
and had been lying at San Diego to repair and take in her 
cargo. The owner of her had had a good deal of difficulty 
with the government about the duties, &c., and her sailing 
had been delayed for several weeks ; but everything having 
been arranged, she got under way with a light breeze, and 
was floating out of the harbor, when two horsemen came 
dashing down to the beach at full speed, and tried to 
find a boat to put off after her ; but there being none 
then at hand, they offered a handful of silver to any 
Kanaka who would swim off and take a letter on 
board. One of the Kanakas, an active, well-made young 
fellow, instantly threw off everything but his duck 
trousers, and, putting the letter into his hat, swam off, 
after the vessel. Fortunately the wind was very light, 
and the vessel was going slowly, so that, although she 
was nearly a mile off when he started, he gained on her 
rapidly. He went through the water leaving a wake 
like a small steamboat. I certainly never saw such 
swimming before. They saw him coming from the 



2i8 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

deck, but did not heave-to, suspecting the nature of his 
errand; yet, the wind continuing light, he swam along- 
side, and got on board, and delivered his letter. The 
captain read the letter, told the Kanaka there was no 
answer, and, giving him a glass of brandy, left him to 
jump overboard and find the best of his way to the 
shore. The Kanaka swam in for the nearest point of 
land, and in about an hour made his appearance at the 
hide-house. He did not seem at all fatigued, had made 
three or four dollars, got a glass of brandy, and was in 
high spirits. The brig kept on her course, and the gov- 
ernment officers, who had come down to forbid her sail- 
ing, went back, each with something very like a flea in 
his ear, having depended upon extorting a little more 
money from the owner. 

It was now nearly three months since the Alert ar- 
rived at Santa Barbara, and we began to expect her 
daily. About half a mile behind the hide-house was a 
high hill, and every afternoon, as soon as we had done 
our work, some one of us walked up to see if there was 
a sail in sight, coming down before the regular trades. 
Day after day we went up the hill, and came back dis- 
appointed. I was anxious for her arrival, for I had 
been told by letter, that the owners in Boston, at the 
request of my friends, had written to Captain Thomp- 
son to take me on board the Alert, in case she returned 
to the United States before the Pilgrim; and I, of 
course, wished to know whether the order had been re- 
ceived, and what was the destination of the ship. One 
year, more or less, might be of small consequence to 
others, but it was everything to me. It was now just a 
year since we sailed from Boston, and, at the shortest, 
no vessel could expect to get away under eight or nine 
months, which would make our absence two years in 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 219 

all. This would be pretty long, but would not be fatal. 
It would not necessarily be decisive of my future life. 
But one year more might settle the matter. I might 
be a sailor for life; and although I had pretty well 
made up my mind to it before I had my letters from 
home, yet, as soon as an opportunity was held out to 
me of returning, and the prospect of another kind of 
life was opened to me, my anxiety to return, and, at 
least, to have the chance of deciding upon my course 
for myself, was beyond measure. Beside that, I wished 
to be " equal to either fortune," and to qualify myself 
for an officer's berth, and a hide-house was no place to 
learn seamanship in. I had become experienced in hide- 
curing, and everything went on smoothly, and I had 
many opportunities of becoming acquainted with the 
people, and much leisure for reading and studying navi- 
gation ; yet practical seamanship could only be got on 
board ship, therefore I determined to ask to be taken 
on board the ship when she arrived. By the first of 
August we finished curing all our hides, stored them 
away, cleaned out our vats (in which latter work we 
spent two days, up to our knees in mud and the sedi- 
ments of six months' hide-curing, in a stench which 
would drive a donkey from his breakfast), and got all in 
readiness for the arrival of the ship, and had another 
leisure interval of three or four weeks. I spent these, as 
usual, in reading, writing, studying, making and mend- 
ing my clothes, and getting my wardrobe in complete 
readiness in case I should go on board the ship; and 
in fishing, ranging the woods with the dogs, and in 
occasional visits to the presidio and mission. A good 
deal of my time was passed in taking care of a little 
puppy, which I had selected from thirty-six that were 
born within three davs of one another at our house. 



220 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

He was a fine, promising pup, with four white paws, and 
all the rest of his body of a dark brown. I built a little 
kennel for him, and kept him fastened there, away from 
the other dogs, feeding and disciplining him myself. In 
a few weeks I brought him into complete subjection, 
and he grew nicely, was much attached to me, and bade 
fair to be one of the leading dogs on the beach. I called 
him Bravo, and all I regretted at the thought of leaving 
the beach was parting from him and the Kanakas. 

Day after day we went up the hill, but no ship was 
to be seen, and we began to form all sorts of conjectures 
as to her whereabouts ; and the theme of every evening's 
conversation at the different houses, and in our after- 
noon's pasco upon the beach, was the ship, where she 
could be, had she been to San Francisco, how many 
hides she would bring, &c., &c. 

Tuesday, August 2$th. This morning the officer in 
charge of our house went off beyond the point a-fishing, 
in a small canoe, with two Kanakas ; and we were 
sitting quietly in our room at the hide-house, when, just 
before noon, we heard a complete yell of " Sail ho ! " 
breaking out from all parts of the beach at once, 
from the Kanakas' oven to the Rosa's hide-house. In 
an instant every one was out of his house, and there 
was a tall, gallant ship, with royals and skysails set, 
bending over before the strong afternoon breeze, and 
coming rapidly round the point. Her yards were braced 
sharp up ; every sail was set, and drew well ; the stars 
and stripes were flying from her mizzen-peak, and, hav- 
ing the tide in her favor, she came up like a race-horse. 
It was nearly six months since a new vessel had entered 
San Diego, and, of course, every one was wide awake. 
She certainly made a fine appearance. Her light sails 
were taken in, as she passed the low, sandy tongue of 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 221 

land, and clewing up her head sails, she rounded hand- 
somely to under her mizzen topsail, and let go her 
anchor at about a cable's length from the shore. In a 
few minutes the topsail yards were manned, and all 
three of the topsails furled at once. From the fore top- 
gallant yard, the men slid down the stay to furl the jib, 
and from the mizzen top-gallant yard, by the stay, into 
the main-top, and thence to the yard ; and the men on 
the topsail yards came down the lifts to the yard-arms 
of the courses. The sails were furled with great care, 
the bunts triced up by jiggers, and the jibs stowed in 
cloth. The royal-yards were then struck, tackles got 
upon the yard-arms and the stay, the long-boat hoisted 
out, a large anchor carried astern, and the ship moored. 
This was the Alert. 

The gig was lowered away from the quarter, and a 
boat's crew of fine lads, between the ages of fourteen 
and eighteen, pulled the captain ashore. The gig was a 
light whale-boat, handsomely painted, and fitted up with 
cushions and tiller-ropes in the stern sheets. We im- 
mediately attacked the boat's crew, and got very thick 
with them in a few minutes. We had much to ask 
about Boston, their passage out, &c., and they were very 
curious to know about the kind of life we were leading 
upon the beach. One of them offered to exchange with 
me, which was just what I wanted, and we had only to 
get the permission of the captain. 

After dinner the crew began discharging their hides, 
and, as we had nothing to do at the hide-houses, we 
were ordered aboard to help them. I had now my first 
opportunity of seeing the ship which I hoped was to 
be my home for the next year. She looked as well on 
board as she did from without. Her decks were wide and 
roomy (there being no poop, or house on deck, which 



222 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

disfigures the after part of most of our vessels), flush 
fore and aft, and as white as flax, which the crew told 
us was from constant use of holystones. There was 
no foolish gilding and gingerbread work, to take the eye 
of landsmen and passengers, but everything was " ship- 
shape." There was no rust, no dirt, no rigging hanging 
slack, no fag-ends of ropes and " Irish pendants " aloft, 
and the yards were squared "to a t " by lifts and 
braces. The mate was a hearty fellow, with a roaring 
voice, and always wide awake. He was " a man, every 
inch of him," as the sailors said; and though "a bit of 
a horse," and " a hard customer," yet he was generally 
liked by the crew. There was also a second and third 
mate, a carpenter, sailmaker, steward, and cook, and 
twelve hands before the mast. She had on board seven 
thousand hides, which she had collected at the wind- 
ward, and also horns and tallow. All these we began dis- 
charging from both gangways at once into the two boats, 
the second mate having charge of the launch, and the 
third mate of the pinnace. For several days we were 
employed in this way, until all the hides were taken out, 
when the crew began taking in ballast, and we returned 
to our old work, hide-curing. 

Saturday, August 29th. Arrived, brig Catalina, from 
the windward. 

Sunday, August joth. This was the first Sunday that 
the Alert's crew had been in San Diego, and of course 
they were all for going up to see the town. The Indians 
came down early, with horses to let for the day, and 
those of the crew who could obtain liberty went off to 
the Presidio and Mission, and did not return until night. 
I had seen enough of San Diego, and went on board 
and spent the day with some of the crew, whom I found 
quietly at work in the forecastle, either mending and 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 223 

washing their clothes, or reading and writing. They 
told me that the ship stopped at Callao on the passage 
out, and lay there three weeks. She had a passage of 
a little over eighty days from Boston to Callao, which is 
one of the shortest on record. There they left the 
Brandywine frigate, and some smaller American ships 
of war, and the English frigate Blonde, and a French 
seventy-four. From Callao they came directly to Cali- 
fornia, and had visited every port on the coast, including 
San Francisco. The forecastle in which they lived was 
large, tolerably well lighted by bull's-eyes, and, being 
kept perfectly clean, had quite a comfortable appearance ; 
at least, it was far better than the little, black, dirty 
hole in which I had lived so many months on board the 
Pilgrim. By the regulations of the ship, the forecastle 
was cleaned out every morning; and the crew, being 
very neat, kept it clean by some regulations of their 
own, such as having a large spit-box always under the 
steps and between the bits, and obliging every man to 
hang up his wet clothes, &c. In addition to this, it was 
holystoned every Saturday morning. In the after part 
of the ship was a handsome cabin, a dining-room, and a 
trade-room, fitted out with shelves, and furnished with 
all sorts of goods. Between these and the forecastle 
ivas the " between-decks," as high as the gun-deck 
of a frigate, being six feet and a half, under the 
beams. These between-decks were holystoned regu- 
larly, and kept in the most perfect order; the car- 
penter's bench and tools being in one part, the sail- 
maker's in another, and boatswain's locker, with the 
spare rigging, in a third. A part of the crew slept here, 
in hammocks swung fore and aft from the beams, and 
triced up every morning. The sides of the between- 
decks were clapboarded, the knees and stanchions of 



224 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

iron, and the latter made to unship. The crew said she 
was as tight as a drum, and a fine sea boat, her only 
fault being that of most fast ships that she was wet 
forward. When she was going, as she sometimes would, 
eight or nine knots on a wind, there would not be a 
dry spot forward of the gangway. The men told great 
stories of her sailing, and had entire confidence in her as 
a " lucky ship." She was seven years old, had always 
been in the Canton trade, had never met with an ac- 
cident of any consequence, nor made a passage that was 
not shorter than the average. The third mate, a young 
man about eighteen years of age, nephew of one of 
the owners, had been in the ship from a small boy, and 
" believed in the ship " ; and the chief mate thought as 
much of her as he would of a wife and family. 

The ship lay about a week longer in port, when, hav- 
ing discharged her cargo and taken in ballast, she pre- 
pared to get under way. I now made my application to 
the captain to go on board. He told me that I could 
go home in the ship when she sailed (which I knew be- 
fore) ; and, finding that I wished to be on board while 
she was on the coast, said he had no objection, if I could 
find one of my own age to exchange with me for the 
time. This I easily accomplished, for they were glad 
to change the scene by a few months on shore, and, 
moreover, escape the winter and the southeasters ; and 
I went on board the next day, with my chest and 
hammock, and found myself once more afloat. 




CHAPTER 
XXIII 



1 



TUESDAY, September 8th, 1835. This was 
my first day's duty on board the ship ; and 
though a sailor's life is a sailor's life wher- 
ever it may be, yet I found everything very different here 
from the customs of the brig Pilgrim. After all hands 
were called at daybreak, three minutes and a half were 
allowed for the men to dress and come on deck, and if 
any were longer than that, they were sure to be over- 
hauled by the mate, who was always on deck, and making 
himself heard all over the ship. The head-pump was then 
rigged, and the decks washed down by the second and 
third mates ; the chief mate walking the quarter-deck, and 
keeping a general supervision, but not deigning to touch 
a bucket or a brush. Inside and out, fore and aft, upper 
deck and between-decks, steerage and forecastle, rail, 
bulwarks, and water-ways, were washed, scrubbed, and 
scraped with brooms and canvas, and the decks were wet 
and sanded all over, and then holystoned. The holystone 
is a large, soft stone, .smooth on the bottom, with long 
ropes attached to each end, by which the crew keep it 
sliding fore and aft over the wet sanded decks. Smaller 
hand-stones, which the sailors call " prayer-books," are 
used to scrub in among the crevices and narrow places, 



226 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

where the large holystone will not go. An hour or two 
we were kept at this work, when the head-pump was 
manned, and all the sand washed off the decks and 
sides. Then came swabs and squilgees; and, after the 
decks were dry, each one went to his particular morn- 
ing job. There were five boats belonging to the ship, 
launch, pinnace, jolly-boat, larboard quarter-boat, and 
gig, each of which had a coxswain, who had charge 
of it, and was answerable for the order and cleanness 
of it. The rest of the cleaning was divided among the 
crew ; one having the brass and composition work about 
the capstan ; another the bell, which was of brass, and 
kept as bright as a gilt button ; a third, the harness- 
cask; another, the man-rope stanchions; others, the 
steps of the forecastle and hatchways, which were 
hauled up and holystoned. Each of these jobs must be 
finished before breakfast; and in the mean time the 
rest of the crew filled the scuttled-butt, and the cook- 
scraped his kids (wooden tubs out of which sailors 
eat), and polished the hoops, and placed them before the 
galley to await inspection. When the decks were dry, 
the lord paramount made his appearance on the quar- 
ter-deck, and took a few turns, eight bells were struck, 
and all hands went to breakfast. Half an hour was 
allowed for breakfast, when all hands were called again ; 
the kids, pots, bread-bags, &c., stowed away; and, this 
morning, preparations were made for getting under way. 
We paid out on the chain by which we swung, hove in on 
the other, catted the anchor, and hove short on the first. 
This work was done in shorter time than was usual on 
board the brig; for though everything was more than 
twice as large and heavy, the cat-block being as much 
as a man could lift, and the chain as large as three of 
the Pilgrim's, yet there was a plenty of room to move 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 227 

about in, more discipline and system, more men, and 
more good-will. Each seemed ambitious to do his best. 
Officers and men knew their duty, and all went well. 
As soon as she was hove short, the mate, on the fore- 
castle, gave the order to loose the sails! and, in an 
instant all sprung into the rigging, up the shrouds, and 
out on the yards, scrambling by one another, the first 
up, the best fellow, cast off the yard-arm gaskets and 
bunt gaskets, and one man remained on each yard, hold- 
ing the bunt jigger with a turn round the tye, all ready 
to let go, while the rest laid down to man the sheets 
and halyards. The mate then hailed the yards, "All 
ready forward?" "All ready the cross-jack yards?'' 
&c., &c. ; and " Aye, aye, sir! " being returned from each, 
the word was given to let go ; and, in the twinkling of 
an eye, the ship, which had shown nothing but her bare 
yards, was covered with her loose canvas, from the royal- 
mast-heads to the decks. All then came down, except one 
man in each top, to overhaul the rigging, and the top- 
sails were hoisted and sheeted home, the three yards 
going to the mast-head at once, the larboard watch 
hoisting the fore, the starboard watch the main, and 
five light hands (of whom I was one), picked from the 
two watches, the mizzen. The yards were then trimmed, 
the anchor weighed, the cat-block hooked on, the fall 
stretched out, manned by " all hands and the cook," 
and the anchor brought to the head with " cheerly, 
men ! " in full chorus. The ship being now under way, 
the light sails were set, one after another, and she was 
under full sail before she had passed the sandy point. 
The fore royal, which fell to my lot (as I was in the 
mate's watch), was more than twice as large as that 
of the Pilgrim, and, though I could handle the brig's 
easily, I found my hands full with this, especially as 



228 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

there were no jacks to the ship, everything being for 
neatness, and nothing left for Jack to hold on by but 
his "eyelids." 

As soon as we were beyond the point, and all sail out, 
the order was given, " Go below, the watch ! " and the 
crew said that, ever since they had been on the coast, 
they had had " watch and watch " while going from port 
to port ; and, in fact, all things showed that, though 
strict discipline was kept, and the utmost was required 
of every man in the way of his duty, yet, on the whole, 
there was good usage on board. Each one knew that 
he must be a man, and show himself such when at his 
duty, yet all were satisfied with the treatment; and a 
contented crew, agreeing with one another, and finding 
no fault, was a contrast indeed with the small, hard-used, 
dissatisfied, grumbling, desponding crew of the Pilgrim. 

It being the turn of our watch to go below, the men set 
themselves to work, mending their clothes, and do- 
ing other little things for themselves ; and I, having got 
my wardrobe in complete order at San Diego, had noth- 
ing to do but to read. I accordingly overhauled the 
chests of the crew, but found nothing that suited me 
exactly, until one of the 'men said he had a book 
which " told all about a great highwayman," at the bot- 
tom of his chest, and, producing it, I found, to my sur- 
prise and joy, that it was nothing else than Bulwer's 
Paul Clifford. I seized it immediately, and, going to my 
hammock, lay there, swinging and reading, until the 
watch below was out. The between-decks clear, the 
hatchways open, a cool breeze blowing through them, 
the ship under easy way, everything was comfortable. 
I had just got well into the story when eight bells were 
struck, and we were all ordered to dinner. After din- 
ner came our watch on deck for four hours, and at four 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 229 

o'clock I went below again, turned into my hammock 
and read until the dog watch. As lights were not 
allowed after eight o'clock, there was no reading in the 
night watch. Having light winds and calms, we were 
three days on the passage, and each watch below, during 
the daytime, I spent in the same manner, until I had 
finished my book. I shall never forget the enjoyment I 
derived from it. To come across anything with the 
slightest claims to literary merit was so unusual that 
this was a feast to me. The brilliancy of the book, the 
succession of capital hits, and the lively and character- 
istic sketches, kept me in a constant state of pleasing 
sensations. It was far too good for a sailor. I could 
not expect such fine times to last long. 

While on deck, the regular work of the ship went on. 
The sailmaker and carpenter worked between decks, and 
the crew had their work to do upon the rigging, drawing 
yarns, making spun-yarn, &c., as usual in merchantmen. 
The night watches were much more pleasant than on 
board the Pilgrim. There, there were so few in a watch, 
that, one being at the wheel and another on the look- 
out, there was no one left to talk with ; but here we 
had seven in a watch, so that we had long yarns in 
abundance. After two or three night watches, I became 
well acquainted with the larboard watch. The sail- 
maker was the head man of the watch, and was gener- 
ally considered the most experienced seaman on board. 
He was a thorough-bred old man-of-war's-man, had been 
at sea twenty-two years, in all kinds of vessels, men- 
of-war, privateers, slavers, and merchantmen, every- 
thing except whalers, which a thorough man-of-war or 
merchant seaman looks down upon, and will always 
steer clear of if he can. He had, of course, been in 
most parts of the world, and was remarkable for draw- 



230 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

ing a long bow. His yarns frequently stretched through 
a watch, and kept all hands awake. They were amus- 
ing from their improbability, and, indeed, he never ex- 
pected to be believed, but spun them merely for amuse- 
ment; and as he had some humor and a good supply of 
man-of-war slang and sailor's salt phrases, he always 
made fun. Next to him in age and experience, and, of 
course, in standing in the watch, was an Englishman 
named Harris, of whom I shall have more to say here- 
after. Then came two or three Americans, who had 
been the common run of European and South American 
voyages, and one who had been in a " spouter," and, of 
course, had all the whaling stories to himself. Last of 
all was a broad-backed, thick-headed, Cape Cod 1 boy, 
who had been in mackerel schooners, and was making 
his first voyage in a square-rigged vessel. He was born 
in Hingham, and of course was called " Bucket-maker." 
The other watch was composed of about the same num- 
ber. A tall, fine-looking Frenchman, with coal-black 
whiskers and curly hair, a first-rate seaman, named John 
(one name is enough for a sailor), was the head man of 
the watch. Then came two Americans (one of whom had 
been a dissipated young man of some property and re- 
spectable connections, and was reduced to duck trousers 
and monthly wages), a German, an English lad, named 
Ben, who belonged on the mizzen-topsail yard with me, 
and was a good sailor for his years, and two Boston boys 
just from the public schools. The carpenter sometimes 
mustered in the starboard watch, and was an old sea-dog, 
a Swede by birth, and accounted the best helmsman in 
the ship. This was our ship's company, beside cook and 
steward, who were blacks, three mates, and the captain. 

1 Sailors call men from any part of the coast of Massachusetts south 
of Boston Cape Cod men. 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 231 

The second day out, the wind drew ahead, and we 
had to beat up the coast; so that, in tacking ship, I 
could see the regulations of the vessel. Instead of 
going wherever was most convenient, and running from 
place to place, wherever work was to be done, each man 
had his station. A regular tacking and wearing bill 
was made out. The chief mate commanded on the fore- 
castle, and had charge of the head sails and the forward 
part of the ship. Two of the best men in the ship, the 
sailmaker from our watch, and John, the Frenchman, 
from the other, worked the forecastle. The third mate 
commanded in the waist, and, with the carpenter and one 
man, worked the main tack and bowline ; the cook, ex 
officio, the fore sheet, and the steward the main. The 
second mate had charge of the after yards, and let go 
the lee fore and main braces. I was stationed at the 
weather cross-jack braces ; three other light hands at the 
lee ; one boy at the spanker-sheet and guy ; a man and a 
boy at the main topsail, top-gallant, and royal braces; 
and all the rest of the crew men and boys tallied 
on to the main brace. Every one here knew his station, 
must be there when all hands were called to put the 
ship about, and was answerable for the ropes committed 
to him. Each man's rope must be let go and hauled in 
at the order, properly made fast, and neatly coiled away 
when the ship was about. As soon as all hands are at 
their stations, the captain, who stands on the weather 
side of the quarter-deck, makes a sign to the man at 
the wheel to put it down, and calls out " Helm 's a 
lee' ! " " Helm 's a lee' ! " answers the mate on the fore- 
castle, and the head sheets are let go. " Raise tacks 
and sheets ! " says the captain ; " tacks and sheets ! " is 
passed forward, and the fore tack and main sheet are 
let go. The next thing is to haul taut for a swing. The 



232 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

weather cross- jack braces and the lee main braces are 
belayed together upon two pins, and ready to be let go, 
and the opposite braces hauled taut. " Main topsail 
haul ! " shouts the captain ; the braces are let go ; and if 
he has chosen his time well, the yards swing round like 
a top; but if he is too late, or too^soon, it is like drawing 
teeth. The after yards are then braced up and belayed, 
the main sheet hauled aft, the spanker eased over to lee- 
ward, and the men from the braces stand by the head 
yards. " Let go and haul ! " says the captain ; the second 
mate lets go the weather fore braces, and the men haul 
in to leeward. The mate, on the forecastle, looks out for 
the head yards. ' Well the fore topsail yard ! " " Top- 
gallant yard 's well! " " Royal yard too much ! Haul 
in to windward! So! well fAof/" "Well a///" Then 
the starboard watch board the main tack, and the lar- 
board watch lay forward and board the fore tack and 
haul down the jib sheet, clapping a tackle upon it if it 
blows very fresh. The after yards are then trimmed, 
the captain generally looking out for them himself. 
" Well the cross-jack 1 yard ! " " Small pull the main 
top-gallant yard!" "Well that!" "Well the mizzen 
topsail yard!" " Cross- jack yards all well!" "Well 
all aft ! " " Haul taut to windward ! " Everything 
being now trimmed and in order, each man coils up the 
rigging at his own station, and the order is given, 
" Go below the watch ! " 

During the last twenty-four hours of the passage, we 
beat off and on the land, making a tack about once in 
four hours, so that I had sufficient opportunity to ob- 
serve the working of the ship; and certainly it took no 
more men to brace about this ship's lower yards, which 
were more than fifty feet square, than it did those of the 

1 Pronounced croj-ac. 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 233 

Pilgrim, which were not much more than half the size; 
so much depends upon the manner in which the braces 
run, and the state of the blocks ; and Captain Wilson, 
of the Ayacucho, who was afterwards a passenger with 
us, upon a trip to windward, said he had no doubt 
that our ship worked two men lighter than his brig. 
This light working of the ship was owing to the at- 
tention and seamanship of Captain Faucon. He had 
reeved anew nearly all the running rigging of the ship, 
getting rid of useless blocks, putting single blocks for 
double wherever he could, using pendent blocks, and 
adjusting the purchases scientifically. 

Friday, September nth. This morning, at four o'clock, 
went below, San Pedro point being about two leagues 
ahead, and the ship going on under studding-sails. In 
about an hour we were waked up by the hauling of the 
chain about decks, and in a few minutes " All hands 
ahoy ! " was called ; and we were all at wotk, hauling 
in and making up the studding-sails, overhauling the 
chain forward, and getting the anchors ready. ' The 
Pilgrim is there at anchor," said some one, as we were 
running about decks; and, taking a moment's look over 
the rail, I saw my old friend, deeply laden, lying at an- 
chor inside of the kelp. In coming to anchor, as well 
as in tacking ship, each one had his station and duty. 
The light sails were clewed up and furled, the courses 
hauled up, and the jibs down; then came the topsails 
in the buntlines, and the anchor let go. As soon as she 
was well at anchor, all hands lay aloft to furl the top- 
sails ; and this, I soon found, was a great matter on board 
this ship; for every sailor knows that a vessel is judged 
of, a good deal, by the furl of her sails. The third mate, 
sailmaker, and the larboard watch, went upon the fore 
topsail yard; the second mate, carpenter, and the star- 



234 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

board watch, upon the main; and I, and the Eng- 
lish lad, and the two Boston boys, and the young Cape 
Cod man, furled the mizzen topsail. This sail belonged 
to us altogether to reef and to furl, and not a man was 
allowed to come upon our yard. The mate took us un- 
der his special care, frequently making us furl the sail 
over three or four times, until we got the bunt up to a 
perfect cone, and the whole sail without a wrinkle. As 
soon as each sail was hauled up and the bunt made, 
the jigger was bent on to the slack of the buntlines, 
and the bunt triced up, on deck. The mate then took 
his place between the knight-heads to " twig " the fore, 
on the windlass to twig the main, and at the foot of 
the mainmast for the mizzen ; and if anything was 
wrong, too much bunt on one side, clews too taut or 
too slack, or any sail abaft the yard, the whole must 
be dropped again. When all was right, the bunts were 
triced well up, the yard-arm gaskets passed, so as not 
to leave a wrinkle forward of the yard short gaskets, 
with turns close together. 

From the moment of letting go the anchor, when the 
captain ceases his care of things, the chief mate is the 
great man. With a voice like a young lion, he was hal- 
looing in all directions, making everything fly, and, at 
the same time, doing everything well. He was quite a 
contrast to the worthy, quiet, unobtrusive mate of the 
Pilgrim, not a more estimable man, perhaps, but a far 
better mate of a vessel; and the entire change in Cap- 
tain Thompson's conduct, since he took command of the 
ship, was owing, no doubt, in a great measure, to this 
fact. If the chief officer wants force, discipline slackens, 
everything gets out of joint, and the captain interferes 
continually ; that makes a difficulty between them, which 
encourages the crew, and the whole ends in a three- 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 235 

sided quarrel. But Mr. Brown (a Marblehead man) 
wanted no help from anybody, took everything into his 
own hands, and was more likely to encroach upon the 
authority of the master than to need any spurring. Cap- 
tain Thompson gave his directions to the mate in private, 
and, except in coming to anchor, getting under way, tack- 
ing, reefing topsails, and other " all-hands-work," seldom 
appeared in person. This is the proper state of things; 
and while this lasts, and there is a good understanding 
aft, everything will go on well. 

Having furled all the sails, the royal yards were next 
to be sent down. The English lad and myself sent 
down the main, which was larger than the Pilgrim's 
main top-gallant yard ; two more light hands the fore, 
and one boy the mizzen. This order we kept while on 
the coast, sending them up and down every time we 
came in and went out of port. They were all tripped 
and lowered together, the main on the starboard side, 
and the fore and mizzen to port. No sooner was she 
all snug, than tackles were got up on the yards and 
stays, and the long-boat and pinnace hove out. The 
swinging booms were then guyed out, and the boats 
made fast by geswarps, and everything in harbor style. 
After breakfast, the hatches were taken off, and every- 
thing got ready to receive hides from the Pilgrim. All 
day, boats were passing and repassing, until we had 
taken her hides from her, and left her in ballast trim. 
These hides made but little show in our hold, though 
they had loaded the Pilgrim down to the water's edge. 
This changing of the hides settled the question of the 
destination of the two vessels, which had been one of 
some speculation with us. We were to remain in the 
leeward ports, while the Pilgrim was to sail, the next 
morning, for San Francisco. After we had knocked 



236 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

off work, and cleared up decks for the night, my friend 
Stimson came on board, and spent an hour with me in 
our berth between decks. The Pilgrim's crew envied 
me my place on board the ship, and seemed to think 
that I had got a little to windward of them, especially 
in the matter of going home first. Stimson was deter- 
mined to go home in the Alert, by begging or buying. 
If Captain Thompson would not let him come on other 
terms, he would purchase an exchange with some one of 
the crew. The prospect of another year after the Alert 
should sail was rather " too much of the monkey." 
About seven o'clock the mate came down into the 
steerage in fine trim for fun, roused the boys out of the 
berth, turned up the carpenter with his fiddle, sent 
the steward with lights to put in the between-decks, and 
set all hands to dancing. The between-decks were 
high enough to allow of jumping, and being clear, and 
white, from holystoning, made a good dancing-hall. 
Some of the Pilgrim's crew were in the forecastle, and 
they all turned-to and had a regular sailor's shuffle till 
eight bells. The Cape Cod boy could dance the true 
fisherman's jig, barefooted, knocking with his heels, and 
slapping the decks with his bare feet, in time with the 
music. This was a favorite amusement of the mate's, 
who used to stand at the steerage door, looking on, 
and if the boys would not dance, hazed them round with 
a rope's end, much to the entertainment of the men. 

The next morning, according to the orders of the 
agent, the Pilgrim set sail for the windward, to be gone 
three or four months. She got under way with no fuss, 
and came so near us as to throw a letter on board, 
Captain Faucon standing at the tiller himself, and steer- 
ing her as he would a mackerel smack. When Captain 
Thompson was in command of the Pilgrim, there was 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 237 

as much preparation and ceremony as there would be in 
getting a seventy-four under way. Captain Faucon was 
a sailor, every inch of him. He knew what a ship was, 
and was as much at home in one as a cobbler in his 
stall. I wanted no better proof of this than the opinion 
of the ship's crew, for they had been six months under 
his command, and knew him thoroughly, and if sailors 
allow their captain to be a good seaman, you may be 
sure he is one, for that is a thing they are not usually 
ready to admit. To find fault with the seamanship of 
the captain is a crew's reserved store for grumbling. 

After the Pilgrim left us, we lay three weeks at San 
Pedro, from the nth of September until the 2d of 
October, engaged in the usual port duties of landing 
cargo, taking off hides, &c., &c. These duties were 
much easier, and went on much more agreeably, than on 
board the Pilgrim. " The more the merrier " is the 
sailor's maxim, and, by a division of labor, a boat's crew 
of a dozen could take off all the hides brought down in 
a day without much trouble; and on shore, as well as 
on board, a good-will, and no discontent or grumbling, 
make everything go well. The officer, too, who usually 
went with us, the third mate, was a pleasant young fel- 
low, and made no unnecessary trouble ; so that we gen- 
erally had a sociable time, and were glad to be re- 
lieved from the restraint of the ship. While here, I often 
thought of the miserable, gloomy weeks we had spent in 
this dull place, in the brig; discontent and hard usage 
on board, and four hands to do all the work on shore. 
Give me a big ship. There is more room, better outfit, 
better regulation, more life, and more company. An- 
other thing was better arranged here : we had a regular 
gig's crew. A light whale-boat, handsomely painted, 
and fitted out with stern seats, yoke and tiller-ropes, 



238 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

hung on the starboard quarter, and was used as the gig. 
The youngest lad in the ship, a Boston boy about fourteen 
years old, was coxswain of this boat, and had the entire 
charge of her, to keep her clean and have her in readiness 
to go and come at any hour. Four light hands, of about 
the same size and age, of whom I was one, formed her 
crew. Each had his oar and seat numbered, and we were 
obliged to be in our places, have our oars scraped white, 
our tholepins in, and the fenders over the side. The 
bowman had charge of the boat-hook and painter, and 
the coxswain of the rudder, yoke, and stern-sheets. Our 
duty was to carry the captain and agent about, and pas- 
sengers off and on, which last was no trifling duty, as 
the people on shore have no boats, and every purchaser, 
from the boy who buys his pair of shoes, to the trader 
who buys his casks and bales, was to be brought off 
and taken ashore in our boat. Some days, when people 
were coming and going fast, we were in the boat, pull- 
ing off and on, all day long, with hardly time for our 
meals, making, as we lay nearly three miles off shore, 
from thirty to forty miles' rowing in a day. Still, we 
thought it the best berth in the ship; for when the gig 
was employed, we had nothing to do with the cargo, 
except with small bundles which the passengers took 
with them, and no hides to carry. Besides, we had the 
opportunity of seeing everybody, making acquaintances, 
and hearing the news. Unless the captain or agent 
was in the boat, we had no officer with us, and often 
had fine times with the passengers, who were always 
willing to talk and joke with us. Frequently, too, we 
were obliged to wait several hours on shore, when we 
would haul the boat up on the beach, and, leaving 
one to watch her, go to the nearest house, or spend the 
time in strolling about the beach, picking up shells, or 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 239 

playing hop-scotch, and other games, on the hard sand. 
The others of the crew never left the ship, except for 
bringing heavy goods and taking off hides ; and though 
we were always in the water, the surf hardly leaving us 
a dry thread from morning till night, yet we were young, 
and the climate was good, and we thought it much 
better than the quiet, humdrum drag and pull on board 
ship. We made the acquaintance of nearly half Cali- 
fornia ; for, besides carrying everybody in our boat, 
men, women, and children, all the messages, letters, 
and light packages went by us, and, being known by our 
dress, we found a ready reception everywhere. 

At San Pedro, we had none of this amusement, for, 
there being but one house in the place, there was nothing 
to see and no company. All the variety that I had 
was riding, once a week, to the nearest rancho, 1 to order 
a bullock down to the ship. 

The brig Catalina came in from San Diego, and, being 
bound to windward, we both got under way at the same 
time, for a trial of speed up to Santa Barbara, a dis- 
tance of about eighty miles. We hove up and got 
under sail about eleven o'clock at night, with a light 
land-breeze, which died away toward morning, leaving 
us becalmed only a few miles from our anchoring-place. 
The Catalina, being a small vessel, of less than half our 
size, put out sweeps and got a boat ahead, and pulled 
out to sea during the night, so that she had the sea- 
breeze earlier and stronger than we did, and we had the 
mortification of seeing her standing up the coast with 
a fine breeze, the sea all ruffled about her, while we 
were becalmed in-shore. When the sea-breeze died away, 

1 This was Sepulveda's rancho, where there was a fight, during 
our war with Mexico in 1846, between some United States troops and 
the Mexicans, under Don Andre'as Pico. 



240 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

she was nearly out of sight; and, toward the latter 
part of the afternoon, the regular northwest wind set- 
ting in fresh, we braced sharp upon it, took a pull at 
every sheet, tack, and halyard, and stood after her in fine 
style, our ship being very good upon a taut bowline. 
We had nearly five hours of splendid sailing, beating up 
to windward by long stretches in and off shore, and 
evidently gaining upon the Catalina at every tack. 
When this breeze left us, we were so near as to count 
the painted ports on her side. Fortunately, the wind 
died away when we were on our inward tack, and she 
on her outward, so we were in-shore, and caught the 
land-breeze first, which came off upon our quarter, 
about the middle of the first watch. All hands were 
turned up, and we set all sail, to the skysails and the 
royal studding-sails; and with these, we glided quietly 
through the water, leaving the Catalina, which could 
not spread so much canvas as we, gradually astern, and, 
by daylight, were off Santa Buenaventura, and our com- 
petitor nearly out of sight. The sea-breeze, however, 
favored her again, while we were becalmed under the 
headland, and laboring slowly along, and she was abreast 
of us by noon. Thus we continued, ahead, astern, and 
abreast of each other, alternately; now far out at sea, 
and again close in under the shore. On the third 
morning we came into the great bay of Santa Barbara 
two hours behind the brig, and thus lost the bet; 
though if the race had been to the point, we should 
have beaten her by five or six hours. This, however, 
settled the relative sailing of the vessels, for it was ad- 
mitted that although she, being small and light, could 
gain upon us in very light winds, yet whenever there 
was breeze enough to set us agoing, we walked away 
from her like hauling in a line; and, in beating to 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 241 

windward, which is the best trial of a vessel, had much 
the advantage. 

Sunday, October 4th. This was the day of our ar- 
rival; and, somehow or other, our captain seemed to 
manage, not only to sail, but to come into port, on a 
Sunday. The main reason for sailing on Sunday is not, 
as many people suppose, because it is thought a lucky 
day but because it is a leisure day. During the six 
days the crew are employed upon the cargo and other 
ship's works, and, Sunday being their only day of rest, 
whatever additional work can be thrown into it is so 
much gain to the owners. This is the reason of our 
coasters and packets generally sailing on Sunday. Thus it 
was with us nearly all the time we were on the coast, and 
many of our Sundays were lost entirely to us. The Catho- 
lics on shore do not, as a general thing, do regular 
trading or make journeys on Sunday, but the American 
has no national religion, and likes to show his inde- 
pendence of priestcraft by doing as he chooses on the 
Lord's Day. 

Santa Barbara looked very much as it did when I left 
it five months before: the long sand beach, with the 
heavy rollers, breaking upon it in a continual roar, 
and the little town, embedded on the plain, girt by its 
amphitheatre of mountains. Day after day the sun 
shone clear and bright upon the wide bay and the red 
roofs of the houses, everything being as still as death, 
the people hardly seeming to earn their sunlight. Day- 
light was thrown away upon them. We had a few visit- 
ors, and collected about a hundred hides, and every 
night, at sundown, the gig was sent ashore to wait for 
the captain, who spent his evenings in the town. We 
always took our monkey-jackets with us, and flint and 
steel, and made a fire on the beach with the driftwood 



242 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

and the bushes which we pulled from the neighboring 
thickets, and lay down by it, on the sand. Sometimes 
we would stray up to the town, if the captain was likely 
to stay late, and pass the time at some of the houses, in 
which we were almost always well received by the in- 
habitants. Sometimes earlier and sometimes later, the 
captain came down ; when, after a good drenching in 
the surf, we went aboard, changed our clothes, and 
turned-in for the night, yet not for all the night, for 
there was the anchor watch to stand. 

This leads me to speak of my watchmate for nine 
months, and, taking him all in all, the most remark- 
able man I had ever seen, Tom Harris. An hour, 
every night, while lying in port, Harris and I had the 
deck to ourselves, and walking fore and aft, night after 
night, for months, I learned his character and history, 
and more about foreign nations, the habits of different 
people, and especially the secrets of sailors' lives and 
hardships, and also of practical seamanship (in which he 
was abundantly capable of instructing me), than I could 
ever have learned elsewhere. His memory was perfect, 
seeming to form a regular chain, reaching from his ear- 
liest childhood up to the time I knew him, without a link 
wanting. His power of calculation, too, was extraordi- 
nary. I called myself pretty quick at figures, and had 
been through a course of mathematical studies; but, 
working by my head, I was unable to keep within sight 
of this man, who had never been beyond his arithmetic. 
He carried in his head, not only a log-book of the voy- 
age, which was complete and accurate, and from which 
no one thought of appealing, but also an accurate regis' 
try of the cargo, knowing where each thing was stowed; 
and how many hides we took in at each port. 

One night he made a rough calculation of the num- 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 243 

ber of hides that could be stowed in the lower hold, be- 
tween the fore and main masts, taking the depth of hold 
and breadth of beam (for he knew the dimensions of 
every part of a ship before he had been long on board), 
and the average area and thickness of a hide ; and he 
came surprisingly near the number, as it afterwards 
turned out. The mate frequently came to him to know 
the capacity of different parts of the vessel, and he could 
tell the sailmaker very nearly the amount of canvas he 
would want for each sail in the ship ; for he knew the 
hoist of every mast, and spread of each sail, on the head 
and foot, in feet and inches. When we were at sea, he 
kept a running account, in his head, of the ship's way, 
the number of knots and the courses ; and, if the 
courses did not vary much during the twenty-four hours, 
by taking the whole progress and allowing so many 
eights southing or northing, to so many easting or west- 
ing, he would make up his reckoning just before the 
captain took the sun at noon, and often came very 
near the mark. He had, in his chest, several volumes 
giving accounts of inventions in mechanics, which he 
read with great pleasure, and made himself master of. 
I doubt if he forgot anything that he read. The only 
thing in the way of poetry that he ever read was Fal- 
coner's Shipwreck, which he was charmed with, and 
pages of which he could repeat. He said he could re- 
call the name of every sailor that had ever been his 
shipmate, and also of every vessel, captain, and officer, 
and the principal dates of each voyage; and a sailor 
whom we afterwards fell in with, who had been in a ship 
with Harris nearly twelve years before, was much sur- 
prised at having Harris, tell him things about himself 
which he had entirely forgotten. His facts, whether 
dates or events, no one thought of disputing; and his 



244 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

opinions few of the sailors dared to oppose, for, right or 
wrong, he always had the best of the argument with 
them. His reasoning powers were striking. I have had 
harder work maintaining an argument with him in a 
watch, even when I knew myself to be right, and he 
was only doubting, than I ever had before, not from his 
obstinacy, but from his acuteness. Give him only a 
little knowledge of his subject, and, among all the 
young men of my acquaintance at college, there is not 
one whom I had not rather meet in an argument than 
this man. I never answered a question from him, or ad- 
vanced an opinion to him, without thinking more than 
once. With an iron memory, he seemed to have your 
whole past conversation at command, and if you said a 
thing now which ill agreed with something you had said 
months before, he was sure to have you on the hip. In 
fact, I felt, when with him, that I was with no common 
man. I had a positive respect for his powers of mind, 
and thought, often, that if half the pains had been spent 
upon his education which are thrown away yearly, in 
our colleges, he would have made his mark. Like many 
self-taught men of real merit, he overrated the value 
of a regular educatfon; and this 1 often told him, 
though I had profited by his error; for he always 
treated me with respect, and often unnecessarily gave 
way to me, from an overestimate of my knowledge. 
For the intellectual capacities of all the rest of the 
crew, captain and all, he had a sovereign contempt. 
He was a far better sailor, and probably a better navi- 
gator, than the captain, and had more brains than all 
the after part of the ship put together. The sailors 
said, " Tom 's got a head as long as the bowsprit," and 
if any one fell into an argument with him, they would 
call out : " Ah, Jack ! you had better drop that as you 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 245 

would a hot potato, for Tom will turn you inside out 
before you know it ! " 

I recollect his posing me once on the subject of the 
Corn Laws. I was called to stand my watch, and, com- 
ing on deck, found him there before me ; and we began, 
as usual, to walk fore and aft, in the waist. He talked 
about the Corn Laws ; asked me my opinion about them, 
which I gave him, and my reasons, my small stock of 
which I set forth to the best advantage, supposing his 
knowledge on the subject must be less than mine, if, in- 
deed, he had any at all. When I had got through, he 
took the liberty of differing from me, and brought argu- 
ments and facts which were new to me, and to which I 
was unable to reply. I confessed that I knew almost 
nothing of the subject, and expressed my surprise at 
the extent of his information. He said that, a number of 
years before, while at a boarding-house in Liverpool, he 
had fallen in with a pamphlet on the subject, and, as it 
contained calculations, had read it very carefully, and 
had ever since wished to find some one who could add 
to his stock of knowledge on the question. Although it 
was many years since he had seen the book, and it was 
a subject with which he had had no previous acquaint- 
ance, yet he had the chain of reasoning, founded upon 
principles of political economy, fully in his memory ; 
and his facts, so far as I could judge, were correct; at 
least, he stated them with precision. The principles of 
the steam-engine, too, he was familiar with, having been 
several months on board a steamboat, and made himself 
master of its secrets. He knew every lunar star in 
both hemispheres, and was a master of the quadrant 
and sextant. The men said he could take a meridian 
altitude of the sun from a tar bucket. Such was the 
man, who, at forty, was still a dog before the mast, at 



246 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

twelve dollars a month. The reason of this was to be 
found in his past life, as I had it, at different times, from 
himself. 

He was an Englishman, a native of Ilfracomb, in 
Devonshire. His father was skipper of a small coaster 
from Bristol, and, dying, left him, when quite young, to 
the care of his mother, by whose exertions he received 
a common-school education, passing his winters at school 
and his summers in the coasting trade until his seven- 
teenth year, when he left home to go upon foreign voy- 
ages. Of this mother he spoke with the greatest respect, 
and said that she was a woman of a strong mind, 
and had an excellent system of education, which had 
made respectable men of his three brothers, and failed 
in him only from his own indomitable obstinacy. One 
thing he mentioned, in which he said his mother differed 
from all other mothers that he had ever seen disciplining 
their children ; that was, that when he was out of humor 
and refused to eat, instead of putting his plate away, 
saying that his hunger would bring him to it in time, she 
would stand over him and oblige him to eat it, every 
mouthful of it. It was no fault of hers that he was what 
I saw him ; and so great was his sense of gratitude for 
her efforts, though unsuccessful, that he determined, when 
the voyage should end, to embark for home with all the 
wages he should get, to spend with and for his mother, 
if perchance he should find her alive. 

After leaving home, he had spent nearly twenty years 
sailing upon all sorts of voyages, generally out of the 
ports of New York and Boston. Twenty years of vice! 
Every sin that a sailor knows, he had gone to the bot- 
tom of. Several times he had been hauled up in the 
hospitals, and as often the great strength of his consti- 
tution had brought him out again in health. Several 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 247 

times, too, from his acknowledged capacity, he had been 
promoted to the office of chief mate, and as often his 
conduct when in port, especially his drunkenness, which 
neither fear nor ambition could induce him to abandon, 
put him back into the forecastle. One night, when 
giving me an account of his life, and lamenting the 
years of manhood he had thrown away, " There," said 
he, " in the forecastle, at the foot of those steps, a 
chest of old clothes, is the result of twenty-two years 
of hard labor and exposure worked like a horse, and 
treated like a dog." As he had grown older, he began to 
feel the necessity of some provision for his later years, 
and came gradually to the conviction that rum had been 
his worst enemy. One night, in Havana, a young ship- 
mate of his was brought aboard drunk, with a dangerous 
gash in his head, and his money and new clothes stripped 
from him. Harris had been in hundreds of such scenes 
as these, but in his then state of mind it fixed his de- 
termination, and he resolved never to taste a drop of 
strong drink of any kind. He signed no pledge, and 
made no vow, but relied on his own strength of purpose. 
The first thing with him was a reason, and then a reso- 
lution, and the thing was done. The date of his resolu- 
tion he knew, of course, to the very hour. It was three 
years before I became acquainted with him, and during 
all that time nothing stronger than cider or coffee had 
passed his lips. The sailors never thought of enticing 
Tom to take a glass, any more than they would of talk- 
ing to the ship's compass. He was now a temperate 
man for life, and capable of filling any berth in a ship, 
and many a high station there is on shore which is held 
by a meaner man. 

He understood the management of a ship upon scien- 
tific principles, and could give the reason for hauling 



248 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

every rope; and a long experience, added to careful ob- 
servation at the time, gave him a knowledge of the ex- 
pedients and resorts for times of hazard, for which I 
became much indebted to him, as he took the greatest 
pleasure in opening his stores of information to me, in 
return for what I was enabled to do for him. Stories of 
tyranny and hardship which had driven men to piracy; 
of the incredible ignorance of masters and mates, and of 
horrid brutality to the sick, dead, and dying; as well as 
of the secret knavery and impositions practised upon sea- 
men by connivance of the owners, landlords, and officers, 
- all these he had, and I could not but believe them ; for 
he made the impression of an exact man, to whom ex- 
aggeration was falsehood; and his statements were al- 
ways credited. I remember, among other things, his 
speaking of a captain whom I had known by report, 
who never handed a thing to a sailor, but put it on 
deck and kicked it to him ; and of another, who was 
highly connected in Boston, who absolutely murdered a 
lad from Boston who went out with him before the mast 
to Sumatra, by keeping him hard at work while ill of 
the coast fever, and obliging him to sleep in the close 
steerage. (The same captain has since died of the same 
fever on the same coast.) 

In fact, taking together all that I learned from him 
of seamanship, of the history of sailors' lives, of practi- 
cal wisdom, and of human nature under new circum- 
stances and strange forms of life, a great history from 
which many are shut out, I would not part with the 
hours I spent in the watch with that man for the gift of 
many hours to be passed in study and intercourse with 
even the best of society. 




CHAPTER 
XXIV 



SUNDAY, October nth. Set sail this morning 
for the leeward ; passed within sight of San 
Pedro, and, to our great joy, did not come to 
anchor, but kept directly on to San Diego, where we 
arrived and moored ship on 

Thursday, October i^th. Found here the Italian ship 
La Rosa, from the windward, which reported the brig 
Pilgrim at San Francisco, all well. Everything was as 
quiet here as usual. We discharged our hides, horns, 
and tallow, and were ready to sail again on the following 
Sunday. I went ashore to my old quarters, and found 
the gang at the hide-house going on in the even tenor 
of their way, and spent an hour or two, after dark, at 
the oven, taking a whiff with my old Kanaka friends, 
who really seemed glad to see me again, and saluted me 
as the Aikane of the Kanakas. I was grieved to find 
that my poor dog Bravo was dead. He had sickened and 
died suddenly the very day after I sailed in the Alert. 

Sunday was again, as usual, our sailing day, and we 
got under way with a stiff breeze, which reminded us 
that it was the latter part of the autumn, and time to 
expect southeasters once more. We beat up against a 
strong head wind, under reefed topsails, as far as San 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

Juan, where we came to anchor nearly three miles from 
the shore, with slip-ropes on our cables, in the old south- 
easter style of last winter. On the passage up, we had 
an old sea-captain on board, who had married and set- 
tled in California, and had not been on salt water for 
more than fifteen years. He was surprised at the changes 
and improvements that had been made in ships, and 
still more at the manner in which we carried sail ; 
for he was really a little frightened, and said that 
while we had top-gallant-sails on, he should have been 
under reefed topsails. The working of the ship, and 
her progress to windward, seemed to delight him, 
for he said she went to windward as though she were 
kedging. 

Tuesday, October 20th. Having got everything ready, 
we set the agent ashore, who went up to the Mission 
to hurry down the hides for the next morning. This 
night we had the strictest orders to look out for south- 
casters; and the long, low clouds seemed rather threat- 
ening. But the night passed over without any trouble, 
and early the next morning we hove out the long-boat 
and pinnace, lowered away the quarter-boats, and went 
ashore to bring off our hides. Here we were again, in 
this romantic spot, a perpendicular hill, twice the 
height of the ship's mast-head, with a single circuitous 
path to the top, and long sand-beach at its base, with 
the swell of the whole Pacific breaking high upon it, 
and our hides ranged in piles on the overhanging sum- 
mit. The captain sent me, who was the only one of 
the crew that had ever been there before, to the top to 
count the hides and pitch them down. There I stood 
again, as six months before, throwing off the hides, and 
watching them, pitching and scaling, to the bottom, 
while the men, dwarfed by the distance, were walking 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 251 

to and fro on the beach, carrying- the hides, as they 
picked them up, to the distant boats, upon the tops of 
their heads. Two or three boat-loads were sent off, 
until at last all were thrown down, and the boats nearly 
loaded again, when we were delayed by a dozen or 
twenty hides which had lodged in the recesses of the 
bank, and which we could not reach by any missiles, as 
the general line of the side was exactly perpendicular, 
and these places were caved in, and could not be seen 
or reached from the top. As hides are worth in Boston 
twelve and a half cents a pound, and the captain's com- 
mission was one per cent, he determined not to give 
them up, and sent on board for a pair of top-gallant 
studding-sail halyards, and requested some one of the 
crew to go to the top and come down by the halyards. 
The older sailors said the boys, who were light and ac- 
tive, ought to go; while the boys thought that strength 
and experience were' necessary. Seeing the dilemma, 
and feeling myself to be near the medium of these 
requisites, I offered my services, and went up, with 
one man to tend the rope, and prepared for the de- 
scent. 

We found a stake fastened strongly into the ground, 
and apparently capable of holding my weight, to which 
we made one end of the halyard well fast, and, taking the 
coil, threw it over the brink. The end, we saw, just 
reached to a landing-place, from which the descent to 
the beach was easy. Having nothing on but shirt, 
trousers, and hat, the common sea rig of warm weather, 
I had no stripping to do, and began my descent by 
taking hold of the rope with both hands, and slipping 
down, sometimes with hands and feet round the rope, 
and sometimes breasting off with one hand and foot 
against the precipice, and holding on to the rope with 



252 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

the other. In this way I descended until I came to a 
place which shelved in, and in which the hides were 
lodged. Keeping hold of the rope with one hand, I 
scrambled in, and by aid of my feet and the other hand 
succeeded in dislodging all the hides, and continued on 
my way. Just below this place, the precipice projected 
again, and, going over the projection, I could see nothing 
below me but the sea and the rocks upon which it 
broke, and a few gulls flying in mid-air. I got down 
in safety, pretty well covered with dirt; and for my 
pains was told, " What a d- -d fool you were to risk 
your life for half a dozen hides ! " 

While we were carrying the hides to the boat, I per- 
ceived, what I had been too busy to observe before, that 
'heavy black clouds were rolling up from seaward, a 
strong swell heaving in, and every sign of a southeaster. 
The captain hurried everything. The hides were pitched 
into the boats, and, with some difficulty, and by wading 
nearly up to our armpits, we got the boats through the 
surf, and began pulling aboard. Our gig's crew towed the 
pinnace astern of the gig, and the launch was towed by 
six men in the jolly-boat. The ship was lying three 
miles off, pitching at her anchor, and the farther we 
pulled, the heavier grew the swell. Our boat stood 
nearly up and down several times; the pinnace parted 
her tow-line, and we expected every moment to see the 
launch swamped. At length we got alongside, our 
boats half full of water; and now came the greatest 
trouble of all, unloading the boats in a heavy sea, 
which pitched them about so that it was almost impos- 
sible to stand in them, raising them sometimes even 
with the rail, and again dropping them below the bends. 
With great difficulty we got all the hides aboard and 
stowed under hatches, the yard and stay tackles hooked 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 253 

on, and the launch and pinnace hoisted, chocked, and 
griped. The quarter-boats were then hoisted up, and 
we began heaving in on the chain. Getting the anchor 
was no easy work in such a sea, but as we were not 
coming back to this port, the captain determined not to 
slip. The ship's head pitched into the sea, and the 
water rushed through the hawse-holes, and the chain 
surged so as almost to unship the barrel of the wind- 
lass. ' Hove short, sir ! " said the mate. " Aye, aye ! 
Weather-bit your chain and loose the topsails! Make 
sail on her, men, with a will ! " A few moments served 
to loose the topsails, which were furled with reefs, to 
sheet them home, and hoist them up. " Bear a hand ! " 
was the order of the day ; and every one saw the neces- 
sity of it, for the gale was already upon us. The ship 
broke out her own anchor, which we catted and fished, 
after a fashion, and were soon close-hauled, under reefed 
sails, standing off from the lee shore and rocks against a 
heavy head sea. The fore course was given to her, which 
helped her a little; but as she hardly held her own 
against the sea, which was setting her to leeward 
" Board the main tack ! " shouted the captain, when the 
tack was carried forward and taken to the windlass, and 
all hands called to the handspikes. The great sail bellied 
out horizontally, as though it would lift up the main 
stay ; the blocks rattled and flew about ; but the force of 
machinery was too much for her. " Heave ho ! Heave 
and pawl ! Yo, heave, hearty, ho ! " and, in time with 
the song, by the force of twenty strong arms, the wind- 
lass came slowly round, pawl after pawl, and the 
weather clew of the sail was brought down to the water- 
ways. The starboard watch hauled aft the sheet, and 
the ship tore through the water like a mad horse, 
quivering and shaking at every joint, and dashing from 



254 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

her head the foam, which flew off at each blow, yards 
and yards to leeward. A half-hour of such sailing 
served our turn, when the clews of the sail were hauled 
up, the sail furled, and the ship, eased of her press, 
went more quietly on her way. Soon after, the foresail 
was reefed, and we mizzen-top men were sent up to 
take another reef in the mizzen topsail. This was the 
first time I had taken a weather earing, and I felt not 
a little proud to sit astride of the weather yard-arm, 
pass the earing, and sing out, " Haul out to leeward ! " 
From this time until we got to Boston the mate never 
suffered any one but our own gang to go upon the miz-, 
zen topsail yard, either for reefing or furling, and the 
young English lad and I generally took the earings 
between us. 

Having cleared the point and got well out to sea, we 
squared away the yards, made more sail, and stood on, 
nearly before the wind, for San Pedro. It blew strong, 
with some rain, nearly all night, but fell calm toward 
morning, and the gale having blown itself out, we 
came-to,, 

Thursday, October 22d, at San Pedro, in the old south- 
easter berth, a league from shore, with a slip-rope on 
the cable, reefs in the topsails, and rope-yarns for 
gaskets. Here we lay ten days, with the usual boating, 
hide-carrying, rolling of cargo up the steep hill, walking 
barefooted over stones, and getting drenched in salt 
water. 

The third day after our arrival, the Rosa came in 
from San Juan, where she went the day after the south- 
easter. Her crew said it was as smooth as a mill-pond 
after the gale, and she took off nearly a thousand hides, 
which had been brought down for us, and which we lost 
in consequence of the southeaster. This mortified us: 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 255 

not only that an Italian ship should have got to wind- 
ward of us in the trade, but because every thousand 
hides went towards completing the forty thousand which 
we were to collect before we could say good by to 
California. 

While lying here, we shipped one new hand, an Eng- 
lishman, of about six-and-twenty years, who was an 
acquisition, as he proved to be a good sailor, could sing 
tolerably, and, what was of more importance to me, had 
a good education and a somewhat remarkable history. 
He called himself George P. Marsh; professed to have 
been at sea from a small boy, and to have served his 
time in the smuggling trade between Germany and the 
coasts of France and England. Thus he accounted for 
his knowledge of the French language, which he spoke 
and read as well as he did English; but his cutter edu- 
cation would not account for his English, which was far 
too good to have been learned in a smuggler; for he 
wrote an uncommonly handsome hand, spoke with great 
correctness, and frequently, when in private talk with 
me, quoted from books, and showed a knowledge of the 
customs of society, and particularly of the formalities of 
the various English courts of law and of Parliament, 
which surprised me. Still he would give no other 
account of himself than that he was educated in a 
smuggler. A man whom we afterwards fell in with, 
who had been a shipmate of George's a few years before, 
said that he heard, at the boarding-house from which 
they shipped, that George had been at a college (proba- 
bly a naval one, as he knew no Latin or Greek), where he 
learned French and mathematics. He was not the man 
by nature that Harris was. Harris had made every- 
thing of his mind and character in spite of obstacles ; 
while this man had evidently been born in a different 



256 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

rank, and educated early in life accordingly, but had 
been a vagabond, and done nothing for himself since. 
Neither had George the character, strength of mind, or 
memory of Harris ; yet there was about him the re- 
mains of a pretty good education, which enabled him to 
talk quite up to his brains, and a high spirit and amena- 
bility to the point of honor which years of a dog's life 
had not broken. After he had been a little while 
on board, we learned from him his adventures of the 
last two years, which we afterwards heard confirmed 
in such a manner as put the truth of them beyond a 
doubt. 

He sailed from New York in the year 1833, if I mis- 
take not, before the mast, in the brig Lascar, for Canton. 
She was sold in the East Indies, and he shipped at 
Manilla, in a small schooner, bound on a trading voyage 
among the Ladrone and Pelew Islands. On one of the 
latter islands their schooner was wrecked on a reef, and 
they were attacked by the natives, and, after a desperate 
resistance, in which all their number, except the captain, 
George, and a boy, were killed or drowned, they sur- 
rendered, and were carried bound, in a canoe, to a 
neighboring island. In about a month after this, an 
opportunity occurred by which one of their number 
might get away. I have forgotten the circumstances, 
but only one could go, and they gave way to the cap- 
tain, upon his promising to send them aid if he escaped. 
He was successful in his attempt ; got on board an 
American vessel, went back to Manilla, and thence to 
America, without making any effort for their rescue, or, 
indeed, as George afterwards discovered, without even 
mentioning their case to any one in Manilla. The boy 
that was with George died, and he being alone, and there 
being no chance for his escape, the natives soon treated 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 257 

him with kindness, and even with attention. They painted 
him, tattooed his body (for he would never consent to 
be marked in the face or hands), gave him two or three 
wives, and, in fact, made a pet of him. In this way he lived 
for thirteen months, in a delicious climate, with plenty 
to eat, half naked, and nothing to do. He soon, how- 
ever, became tired, and went round the island, on differ- 
ent pretences, to look out for a sail. One day he was 
out fishing in a small canoe with another man, when he 
saw a large sail to windward, about a league and a half 
off, passing abreast of the island and standing westward. 
With some difficulty, he persuaded the islander to go 
off with him to the ship, promising to return with a 
good supply of rum and tobacco. These articles, which 
the islanders had got a taste of from American traders, 
were too strong a temptation for the fellow, and he con- 
sented. They paddled off in the track in which the ship 
was bound, and lay-to until she came down to them. 
George stepped on board the ship, nearly naked, painted 
from head to foot, and in no way distinguishable from his 
companion until he began to speak. Upon this the 
people on board were not a little astonished, and, 
having learned his story, the captain had him washed 
and clothed, and, sending away the poor astonished na- 
tive with a knife or two and some tobacco and calico, 
took George with him on the voyage. This was the 
ship Cabot, of New York, Captain Low. She was bound 
to Manilla, from across the Pacific ; and George did sea- 
man's duty in her until her arrival in Manilla, when he 
left her, and shipped in a brig bound to the Sandwich 
Islands. From Oahu, he came, in the British brig 
Clementine, to Monterey, as second officer, where, hav- 
ing some difficulty with the captain, he left her, and, 
coming down the coast, joined us at San Pedro. Nearly 



258 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

six months after this, among some papers we received by 
an arrival from Boston, we found a letter from Captain 
Low, of the Cabot, published immediately upon his arrival 
at New York, giving all the particulars just as we had 
them from George. The letter was published for the in- 
formation of the friends of George, and Captain Low 
added that he left him at Manilla to go to Oahu, and he 
had heard nothing of him since. 

George had an interesting journal of his adventures 
in the Pelew Islands, which he had written out at length, 
in a handsome hand, and in correct English. 1 

1 In the spring of 1841, a sea- faring man called at my rooms, in Boston, 
and said he wished to see me, as he knew something about a man I had 
spoken of in my book. He then told me that he was second mate of 
the bark Mary Frazer, which sailed from Batavia in company with the 
Cabot, bound to Manilla, that when off the Pelew Islands they fell in 
with a canoe with two natives on board, who told them that there was 
an American ship ahead, out of sight, and that they had put a white man 
on board of her. The bark gave the canoe a tow for a short distance. 
When the Mary Frazer arrived at Manilla, they found the Cabot there; 
and my informant said that George came on board several times, and 
told the same story that I had given of him in this book. He said the 
name of George's schooner was the Dash, and that she was wrecked, 
and attacked by the natives, as George had told me. 

This man, whose name was Beauchamp, was second mate of the 
Mary Frazer when she took the missionaries to Oahu. He became 
religious during the passage, and joined the mission church at Oahu 
upon his arrival. When I saw him, he was master of a bark. 




CHAPTER 
XXV 



SUNDAY, November ist. Sailed this day (Sunday 
again) for Santa Barbara, where we arrived on 
the 5th. Coming round Santa Buenaventura, and 
nearing the anchorage, we saw two vessels in port, a 
large full-rigged, and a small, hermaphrodite brig. 
The former, the crew said, must be the Pilgrim; but 
I had been too long in the Pilgrim to be mistaken in her, 
and I was right in differing from them, for, upon nearer 
approach, her long, low, shear, sharp bows, and raking 
masts, told quite another story. '' Man-of-war brig," said 
some of them ; " Baltimore clipper," said others ; the Aya- 
cucho, thought I ; and soon the broad folds of the beautiful 
banner of St. George white field with blood-red bor- 
der and cross were displayed from her peak. A few 
minutes put it beyond a doubt, and we were lying by 
the side of the Ayacucho, which had sailed from San 
Diego about nine months before, while we were lying 
there in the Pilgrim. She had since been to Valparaiso, 
Callao, and the Sandwich Islands, and had just come 
upon the coast. Her boat came on board, bringing Cap- 
tain Wilson ; and in half an hour the news was all over 
the ship that there was a war between the United States 
and France. Exaggerated accounts reached the fore- 



260 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

castle. Battles had been fought, a large French fleet was 
in the Pacific, &c., &c. ; and one of the boat's crew of 
the Ayacucho said that, when they left Callao, a large 
French frigate and the American frigate Brandywine, 
which were lying there, were going outside to have a bat- 
tle, and that the English frigate Blonde was to be umpire, 
and see fair play. Here was important news for us. 
Alone, on an unprotected coast, without an American 
man-of-war within some thousands of miles, and the 
prospect of a voyage home through the whole length 
of the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans! A French prison 
seemed a much more probable place of destination than 
the good port of Boston. However, we were too salt to 
believe every yarn that comes into the forecastle, and 
waited to hear the truth of the matter from higher au- 
thority. By means of the supercargo's clerk I got the 
amount of the matter, which was, that the governments 
had had a difficulty about the payment of a debt; that 
war had been threatened and prepared for, but not actu- 
ally declared, although it was pretty generally anticipated. 
This was not quite so bad, yet was no small cause of anxi- 
ety. But we cared very little about the matter ourselves. 
" Happy go lucky " with Jack ! We did not believe 
that a French prison would be much worse than " hide 
droghing " on the coast of California ; and no one who 
has not been a long, dull voyage, shut up in one ship, can 
conceive of the effect of monotony upon one's thoughts and 
wishes. The prospect of a change is a green spot in the 
desert, and the probability of great events and exciting 
scenes creates a feeling of delight, and sets life in mo- 
tion, so as to give a pleasure which any one not in the 
same state would be unable to explain. In fact, a more 
jovial night we had not passed in the forecastle for 
months. All seemed in unaccountably high spirits. An 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 261 

undefined anticipation of radical changes, of new scenes 
and great doings, seemed to have possessed every one, 
and the common drudgery of the vessel appeared contemp- 
tible. Here was a new vein opened, a grand theme of 
conversation and a topic for all sorts of discussions. 
National feeling was wrought up. Jokes were cracked 
upon the only Frenchman in the ship, and comparisons 
made between " old horse " and " soup meagre," &c., &c. 

We remained in uncertainty as to this war for more 
than two months, when an arrival from the Sandwich 
Islands brought us the news of an amicable arrange- 
ment of the difficulties. 

The other vessel which we found in port was the her- 
maphrodite brig Avon, from the Sandwich Islands. She 
was fitted up in handsome style; fired a gun, and ran 
h^r ensign up and down at sunrise and sunset ; had a 
band of four or five pieces of music on board, and ap- 
peared rather like a pleasure yacht than a trader; yet, 
in connection with the Loriotte, Clementine, Bolivar, 
Convoy, and other small vessels, belonging to sundry 
Americans at Oahu, she carried on a considerable trade, 
legal and illegal, in otter-skins, silks, teas, &c., as 
well as hides and tallow. 

The second day after our arrival, a full-rigged brig 
came round the point from the northward, sailed leis- 
urely through the bay, and stood off again for the south- 
east in the direction of the large island of Catalina. 
The next day the Avon got under way, and stood in the 
scime direction, bound for San Pedro. This might do 
for marines and Californians, but we knew the ropes too 
well. The brig was never again seen on the coast, and 
the Avon went into San Pedro in about a week with a 
replenished cargo of Canton and American goods. 

This was one of the means of escaping the heavy 



262 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

duties the Mexicans lay upon all imports. A vessel 
comes on the coast, enters a moderate cargo at Mon- 
terey, which is the only custom-house, and commences 
trading. In a month or more, having sold a large part 
of her cargo, she stretches over to Catalina, or other of 
the large, uninhabited islands which lie off the coast, in 
a trip from port to port, and supplies herself with choice 
goods from a vessel from Oahu, which has been lying off 
and on the islands, waiting for her. Two days after the sail- 
ing of the Avon, the Loriotte came in from the leeward, 
and without doubt had also a snatch at the brig's cargo. 
Tuesday, November loth. Going ashore, as usual, in 
the gig, just before sundown, to bring off the cap- 
tain, we found, upon taking in the captain and pulling 
off again, that our ship, which lay the farthest out, 
had run up her ensign. This meant " Sail ho ! " of 
course, but as we were within the point we could see 
nothing. " Give way, boys ! Give way ! Lay out on 
your oars, and long stroke ! " said the captain ; and 
stretching to the whole length of our arms, bending 
back again so that our backs touched the thwarts, we 
sent her through the water like a rocket. A few min- 
utes of such pulling opened the islands, one after an- 
other, in range of the point, and gave us a view of the 
Canal, where was a ship, under top-gallant-sails, stand- 
ing in, with a light breeze, for the anchorage. Putting the 
boat's head in the direction of the ship, the captain told 
us to lay out again ; and we needed no spurring, for the 
prospect of boarding a new ship, perhaps from home, 
hearing the news, and having something to tell of when 
we got back, was excitement enough for us, and we 
gave way with a will. Captain Nye, of the Loriotte, 
who had been an old whaleman, was in the stern-sheets, 
and fell mightily into the spirit of it. " Bend your 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 263 

backs, and break your oars ! " said he. " Lay me on, 
Captain Bunker!" "There she flukes!" and other ex- 
clamations current among whalemen. In the mean time 
it fell flat calm, and, being within a couple of miles 
of the ship, we expected to board her in a few min- 
utes, when a breeze sprung up, dead ahead for the 
ship, and she braced up and stood off toward the 
islands, sharp on the larboard tack, making good way 
through the water. This, of course, brought us up, and 
we had only to " ease larboard oars, pull round star- 
board ! " and go aboard the Alert, with something very 
like a flea in the ear. There was a light land-breeze all 
night, and the ship did not come to anchor until the 
next morning. 

As soon as her anchor was down we went aboard, and 
found her to be the whale-ship Wilmington and Liver- 
pool Packet, of New Bedford, last from the " off-shore 
ground," with nineteen hundred barrels of oil. A 
" spouter " we knew her to be, as soon as we saw her, 
by her cranes and boats, and by her stump top-gallant- 
masts, and a certain slovenly look to the sails, rigging, 
spars, and hull ; and when we got on board, we found 
everything to correspond, spouter fashion. She had 
a false deck, which was rough and oily, and cut up in 
every direction by the chines of oil casks; her rigging 
was slack, and turning white, paint worn off the spars 
and blocks, clumsy seizings, straps without covers, and 
" homeward-bound splices " in every direction. Her 
crew, too, were not in much better order. Her captain 
was a slab-sided Quaker, in a suit of brown, with a 
broad-brimmed hat, bending his long legs as he moved 
about decks, with his head down, like a sheep, and the 
men looked more like fishermen and farmers than they 
did like sailors. 



264 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

Though it was by no means cold weather (we having 
">n only our red shirts and duck trousers), they all had 
on woollen trousers, not blue and ship-shape, but of 
all colors, brown, drab, gray, aye, and green, with 
suspenders over their shoulders, and pockets to put their 
hands in. This, added to Guernsey frocks, striped com- 
forters about the neck, thick cowhide boots, woollen 
caps, and a strong, oily smell, and a decidedly green 
look, will complete the description. Eight or ten were 
on the fore topsail yard, and as many more in the main, 
furling the topsails, while eight or ten were hanging 
about the forecastle, doing nothing. This was a strange 
sight for a vessel coming to anchor; so we went up to 
them, to see what was the matter. One of them, a stout, 
hearty-looking fellow, held out his leg and said he had 
the scurvy ; another had cut his hand ; and others had 
got nearly well, but said that there were plenty aloft to 
furl the sails, so they were sogering on the forecastle. 
There was only one " splicer " on board, a fine-looking 
old tar, who was in the bunt of the fore topsail. He 
was probably the only thorough marline-spike seaman in 
the ship, before the mast. The mates, of course, and the 
boat-steerers, and also two or three of the crew, had 
been to sea before, but only on whaling voyages ; and 
the greater part of the crew were raw hands, just from 
the bush, and had not yet got the hay-seed out of their 
hair. The mizzen topsail hung in the buntlines until 
everything was furled forward. Thus a crew of thirty 
men were half an hour in doing what would have been 
done in the Alert, with eighteen hands to go aloft, in 
fifteen or twenty minutes. 1 

1 I have been told that this description of a whaleman has given 
offence to the whale-trading people of Nantucket, New Bedford, and 
the Vineyard. It is not exaggerated; and the appearance of such a 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 265 

We found they had been at sea six or eight months, 
and had no news to tell us, so we left them, and prom- 
ised to get liberty to come on board in the evening for 
some curiosities. Accordingly, as soon as we were 
knocked off in the evening and were through supper, we 
obtained leave, took a boat, and went aboard and spent 
an hour or two. They gave us pieces of whalebone, and 
the teeth and other parts of curious sea animals, and we 
exchanged books with them, --a practice very common 
among ships in foreign ports, by which you get rid of 
the books you have read and re-read, and a supply of 
new ones in their stead, and Jack is not very nice as to 
their comparative value. 1 

Thursday, November I2th. This day was quite cool 
in the early part, and there were black clouds about; 
but as it was often so in the morning, nothing was ap- 
prehended, and all the captains went ashore together 
to spend the day. Towards noon the clouds hung 
heavily over the mountains, coming half-way down the 
hills that encircle the town of Santa Barbara, and a 
heavy swell rolled in from the southeast. The mate 
immediately ordered the gig's crew away, and, at the 
same time, we saw boats pulling ashore from the other 
vessels. Here was a grand chance for a rowing-match, 

ship and crew might well impress a young man trained in the ways 
of a ship of the style of the Alert. Long observation has satisfied me 
that there are no better seamen, so far as handling a ship is concerned, 
and none so venturous and skilful navigators, as the masters and officers 
of our whalemen. But never, either on this voyage, or in a subsequent 
visit to the Pacific and its islands, was it my fortune to fall in with a 
whaleship whose appearance, and the appearance of whose crew, gave 
signs of strictness of discipline and seaman-like neatness. Probably 
these things are impossibilities, from the nature of the business, and I 
may have made too much of them. 

1 This visiting between the crews of ships at sea is called, among 
whalemen, "gamming." 



266 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

and every one did his best. We passed the boats of the 
Ayacucho and Loriotte, but could not hold our own with 
the long six-oared boat of the whale-ship. They reached 
the breakers before us ; but here we had the advantage 
of them, for, not being used to the surf, they were 
obliged to wait to see us beach our boat, just as, in the 
same place, nearly a year before, we, in the Pilgrim, 
were glad to be taught by a boat's crew of Kanakas. 

We had hardly got the boats beached, and their heads 
pointed out to sea, before our old friend, Bill Jackson, 
the handsome English sailor, who steered the Loriotte's 
boat, called out that his brig was adrift; and, sure 
enough, she was dragging her anchors, and drifting 
down into the bight of the bay. Without waiting for 
the captain (for there was no one on board the brig but 
the mate and steward), he sprung into the boat, called 
the Kanakas together, and tried to put off. But the 
Kanakas, though capital water-dogs, were frightened by 
their vessel's being adrift, and by the emergency of the 
case, and seemed to lose their faculties. Twice their 
boat filled, and came broadside upon the beach. Jack- 
son swore at them for a parcel of savages, and promised 
to flog every one of them. This made the matter no 
better; when we came forward, told the Kanakas to 
take their seats in the boat, and, going two on each 
side, walked out with her till it was up to our shoulders, 
and gave them a shove, when, giving way with their 
oars, they got her safely into the long, regular swell. 
In the mean time, boats had put off to the Loriotte from 
our ship and the whaler, and, coming all on board the 
brig together, they let go the other anchor, paid out 
chain, braced the yards to the wind, and brought the 
vessel up. 

In a few minutes, the captains came hurrying down, 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 267 

on the run ; and there was no time to be lost, for the 
gale promised to be a severe one, and the surf was 
breaking upon the beach, three deep, higher and higher 
every instant. The Ayacucho's boat, pulled by four 
Kanakas, put off first, and as they had no rudder or 
steering-oar, would probably never have got off, had we 
not waded out with them as far as the surf would per- 
mit. The next that made the attempt was the whale- 
boat, for we, being the most experienced " beach- 
combers," needed no help, and stayed till the last. 
Whalemen make the best boats' crews in the world for a 
long pull, but this landing was new to them, and, not- 
withstanding the examples they had had, they slewed 
round and were hove up boat, oars, and men all 
together, high and dry upon the sand. The second 
time they filled, and had to turn their boat over, and 
set her off again. We could be of no help to them, for 
they were so many as to be in one another's way, with- 
out the addition of our numbers. The third time they 
got off, though not without shipping a sea which 
drenched them all, and half filled their boat, keeping 
them baling until they reached their ship. We now 
got ready to go off, putting the boat's head out ; Eng- 
lish Ben and I, who were the largest, standing on each 
side of the bows to keep her head out to the sea, two 
more shipping and manning the two after oars, and the 
captain taking the steering oar. Two or three Mexicans, 
who stood upon the beach looking at us, wrapped their 
cloaks about them, shook their heads, and muttered 
" Caramba ! " They had no taste for such doings ; in 
fact, the hydrophobia is a national malady, and shows 
itself in their persons as well as their actions. 

Watching for a " smooth chance," we determined to 
show the other boats the way it should be done, and, as 



268 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

soon as ours floated, ran out with her, keeping her head 
out, with all our strength, and the help of the captain's 
oar, and the two after oarsmen giving way regularly and 
strongly, until our feet were off the ground, we tumbled 
into the bows, keeping perfectly still, from fear of hinder- 
ing the others. For some time it was doubtful how it 
would go. The boat stood nearly up and down in the 
water, and the sea, rolling from under her, let her fall 
upon the water with a force which seemed almost to 
stave her bottom in. By quietly sliding two oars for- 
ward, along the thwarts, without impeding the /owers, 
we shipped two bow oars, and thus, by the help of four 
oars and the captain's strong arm, we got safely off, 
though we shipped several seas, which left us half full 
of water. We pulled alongside of the Loriotte, put her 
skipper on board, and found her making preparations for 
slipping, and then pulled aboard our own ship. Here 
Mr. Brown, always " on hand," had got everything ready, 
so that we had only to hook on the gig and hoist it up, 
when the order was given to loose the sails. While we 
were on the yards, we saw the Loriotte under way, and, 
before our yards were mast-headed, the Ayacucho had 
spread her wings, and, with yards braced sharp up, was 
standing athwart our hawse. There is no prettier sight 
in the world than a full-rigged, clipper-built brig, sailing 
sharp on the wind. In a minute more our slip-rope 
was gone, the head-yards filled away, and we were off. 
Next came the whaler; and in half an hour from the 
time when four vessels were lying quietly at anchor, 
without a rag out, or a sign of motion, the bay was 
deserted, and four white clouds were moving over the 
water to seaward. Being sure of clearing the point, we 
stood off with our yards a little braced in, while the 
Ayacucbo went off with a taut bowline, which brought 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 269 

her to windward of us. During all this day, and the 
greater part of the night, we had the usual southeaster 
entertainment, a gale of wind, with occasional rain, and 
finally topped off with a drenching rain of three or four 
hours. At daybreak the clouds thinned off and rolled 
away, and the sun came up clear. The wind, instead 
of coming out from the northward, as is usual, blew 
steadily and freshly from the anchoring-ground. This 
was bad for us, for, being " flying light," with little more 
than ballast trim, we were in no condition for showing 
off on a taut bowline, and had depended upon a fair 
wind, with which, by the help of our light sails and 
studding-sails, we meant to have been the first at the 
anchoring-ground; but the Ayacucho was a good league 
to windward of us, and was standing in in fine style. 
The whaler, however, was as far to leeward of us, and the 
Loriotte was nearly out of sight, among the islands, up 
the Canal. By hauling every brace and bowline, and 
clapping watch-tackles upon all the sheets and halyards, 
we managed to hold our own, and drop the leeward 
vessels a little in every tack. When we reached the 
anchoring-ground, the Ayacucho had got her anchor, 
furled her sails, squared her yards, and was lying as 
quietly as if nothing had happened. 

We had our usual good luck in getting our anchor 
without letting go another, and were all snug, with our 
boats at the boom-ends, in half an hour. In about two 
hours more the whaler came in, and made a clumsy 
piece of work in getting her anchor, being obliged to let 
go her best bower, and, finally, to get out a kedge and a 
hawser. They were heave-ho-ing, stopping and unstop- 
ping, pawling, catting, and fishing for three hours ; and 
the sails hung from the yards all the afternoon, and were 
not furled until sundown. The Loriotte came in just 



270 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

after dark, and let go her anchor, making no attempt to 
pick up the other until the next day. 

This affair led to a dispute as to the sailing of our 
ship and the Ayacucho. Bets were made between the 
captains, and the crews took it up in their own way ; 
but as she was bound to leeward and we to windward, 
and merchant captains cannot deviate, a trial never took 
place; and perhaps it was well for us that it did not, 
for the Ayacucho had been eight years in the Pacific, in 
every part of it, Valparaiso, Sandwich Islands, Canton, 
California, and all, and was called the fastest merchant- 
man that traded in the Pacific, unless it was the brig 
John Gilpin, and perhaps the ship Ann McKim, of Bal- 
timore. 

Saturday, November iqth. This day we got under 
way, with the agent and several Mexicans of note, as 
passengers, bound up to Monterey. We went ashore in 
the gig to bring them off with their baggage, and found 
them waiting on the beach, and a little afraid about 
going off, as the surf was running very high. This was 
nuts to us, for we liked to have a Mexican wet with 
salt water; and then the agent was very much disliked 
by the crew, one and all ; and we hoped, as there was 
no officer in the boat, to have a chance to duck them, 
for we knew that they were such " marines " that they 
would not know whether it was our fault or not. Ac- 
cordingly, we kept the boat so far from shore as to 
oblige them to wet their feet in getting into her; and 
then waited for a good high comber, and, letting the 
head slue a little round, sent the whole force of the sea 
into the stern-sheets, drenching them from head to feet. 
The Mexicans sprang out of the boat, swore, and shook 
themselves, and protested against trying it again; and 
it was with the greatest difficulty that the agent could 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 271 

prevail upon them to make another attempt. The next 
time we took care, and went off easily enough, and 
pulled aboard. The crew came to the side to hoist in 
their baggage, and heartily enjoyed the half-drowned 
looks of the company. 

Everything being now ready, and the passengers 
aboard, we ran up the ensign and broad pennant (for 
there was no man-of-war, and we were the largest vessel 
on the coast), and the other vessels ran up their en- 
signs. Having hove short, cast off the gaskets, and 
made the bunt of each sail fast by the jigger, with a 
man on each yard, at the word the whole canvas of the 
ship was loosed, and with the greatest rapidity possible 
everything was sheeted home and hoisted up, the 
anchor tripped and cat-headed, and the ship under head- 
way. We were determined to show the " spouter " how 
things could be done in a smart ship, with a good crew, 
though not more than half his numbers. The royal 
yards were all crossed at once, and royals and sky-sails 
set, and, as we had the wind free, the booms were run 
out, and all were aloft, active as cats, laying out on the 
yards and booms, reeving the studding-sail gear; and 
sail after sail the captain piled upon her, until she was 
covered with canvas, her sails looking like a great white 
cloud resting upon a black speck. Before we doubled 
the point, we were going at a dashing rate, and leaving 
the shipping far astern. We had a fine breeze to take 
us through the Canal, as they call this bay of forty 
miles long by ten wide. The breeze died away at night, 
and we were becalmed all day on Sunday, about half- 
way between Santa Barbara and Point Conception. 
Sunday night we had a light, fair wind, which set us up 
again ; and having a fine sea-breeze on the first part of 
Monday we had the prospect of passing, without any 



272 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

trouble, Point Conception, the Cape Horn of Califor- 
nia, where, the sailors say, it begins to blow the first of 
January, and blows until the last of December. To- 
ward the latter part of the afternoon, however, the regu- 
lar northwest wind, as usual, set in, which brought in 
our studding-sails, and gave us the chance of beating 
round the Point, which we were now just abreast of, 
and which stretched off into the Pacific, high, rocky, 
and barren, forming the central point of the coast for 
hundreds of miles north and south. A cap-full of wind 
will be a bag-full here, and before night our royals were 
furled, and the ship was laboring hard under her top- 
gallant-sails. At eight bells our watch went below, 
leaving her with as much sail as she could stagger 
under, the water flying over the forecastle at every 
plunge. It was evidently blowing harder, but then 
there was not a cloud in the sky, and the sun had 
gone down bright. 

We had been below but a short time, before we had 
the usual premonitions of a coming gale, seas wash- 
ing over the whole forward part of the vessel, and her 
bows beating against them with a force and sound like 
the driving of piles. The watch, too, seemed very busy 
trampling about decks, and singing out at the ropes. 
A sailor can tell, by the sound, what sail is coming in; 
and, in a short time, we heard the top-gallant-sails come 
in, one after another, and then the flying jib. This 
seemed to ease her a good deal, and we were fast going 
off to the land of Nod, when bang, bang, bang on 
the scuttle, and " All hands, reef topsails, ahoy ! " 
started us out of our berths ; and, it not being very cold 
weather, we had nothing extra to put on, and were soon 
on deck. I shall never forget the fineness of the sight. 
It was a clear, and rather a chilly night; the stars were 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 273 

twinkling with an intense brightness, and as far as the 
eye could reach there was not a cloud to be seen. The 
horizon met the sea in a defined line. A painter could 
not have painted so clear a sky. There was not a speck 
upon it. Yet it was blowing great guns from the north- 
west. When you can see a cloud to windward, you 
feel that there is a place for the wind to come from; 
but here it seemed to come from nowhere. No person 
could have told from the heavens, by their eyesight 
alone, that it was not a still summer's night. One reef 
after another we took in the topsails, and before we 
could get them hoisted up we heard a sound like a 
short, quick rattling of thunder, and the jib was blown 
to atoms out of the bolt-rope. We got the topsails set, 
and the fragments of the jib stowed away, and the fore 
topmast staysail set in its place, when the great main- 
sail gaped open, and the sail ripped from head to foot. 
" Lay up on that main yard and furl the sail, before it 
blows to tatters ! " shouted the captain ; and in a mo- 
ment we were up, gathering the remains of it upon the 
yard. We got it wrapped round the yard, and passed 
gaskets over it as snugly as possible, and were just on 
deck again, when, with another loud rent, which was 
heard throughout the ship, the fore topsail, which had 
been double-reefed, split in two athwartships, just be- 
low the reef-band, from earing to earing. Here again 
it was down yard, haul out reef-tackles, and lay out 
upon the yard for reefing. By hauling the reef-tackles 
chock-a-block we took the strain from the other ear- 
ings, and passing the close-reef earing, and knotting 
the points carefully, we succeeded in setting the sail, 
close reefed. 

We had but just got the rigging coiled up, and were 
waiting to hear " Go below the watch ! " when the main 



274 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

royal worked loose from the gaskets, and blew directly 
out to leeward, flapping, and shaking the mast like a 
wand. Here was a job for somebody. The royal must 
come in or be cut adrift, or the mast would be snapped 
short off. All the light hands in the starboard watch 
were sent up one after another, but they could do noth- 
ing with it. At length, John, the tall Frenchman, the 
head of the starboard watch (and a better sailor never 
stepped upon a deck), sprang aloft, and, by the help of 
his long arms and legs, succeeded, after a hard struggle, 
the sail blowing over the yard-arm to leeward, and 
the sky sail adrift directly over his head, in smother- 
ing it and frapping it with long pieces of sinnet. He 
came very near being blown or shaken from the yard 
several times, but he was a true sailor, every finger a 
fish-hook. Having made the sail snug, he prepared to 
send the yard down, which was a long and difficult job; 
for, frequently, he was obliged to stop, and hold on with 
all his might for several minutes, the ship pitching so 
as to make it impossible to do anything else at that 
height. The yard at length came down safe, and, after 
it, the fore and mizzen royal yards were sent down. All 
hands were then sent aloft, and for an hour or two we 
were hard at work, making the booms well fast, un- 
reeving the studding-sail and royal and skysail gear, 
getting rolling-ropes on the yard, setting up the weather 
breast-backstays, and making other preparations for a 
storm. It was a fine night for a gale; just cool and 
bracing enough for quick work, without being cold, and 
as bright as day. It was sport to have a gale in such 
weather as this. Yet it blew like a hurricane. The 
wind seemed to come with a spite, an edge to it, which 
threatened to scrape us off the yards. The force of the 
wind was greater than I had ever felt it before; but 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 275 

darkness, cold, and wet are the worst parts of a storm, 
to a sailor. 

Having got on deck again, we looked round to see 
what time of night it was, and whose watch. In a few 
minutes the man at the wheel struck four bells, and we 
found that the other watch was out, and our own half 
out Accordingly, the starboard watch went below, and 
left the ship to us for a couple of hours, yet with orders 
to stand by for a call. 

Hardly had they got below, before away went the fore 
topmast staysail, blown to ribands. This was a small 
sail, which we could manage in the watch, so that we 
were not obliged to call up the other watch. We laid 
out upon the bowsprit, where we were under water half 
the time, and took in the fragments of the sail, and, as 
she must have some head sail on her, prepared to bend 
another staysail. We got the new one out into the 
nettings; seized on the tack, sheets, and halyards, and 
the hanks; manned the halyards, cut adrift the frap- 
ping-lines, and hoisted away; but before it was half- 
way up the stay it was blown all to pieces. When we 
belayed the halyards, there was nothing left but the 
bolt-rope. Now large eyes began to show themselves 
in the foresail, and, knowing that it must soon go, the 
mate ordered us upon the yard to furl it. Being un- 
willing to call up the watch who had been on deck all 
night, he roused out the carpenter, sailmaker, cook, ' 
and steward, and with their help we manned the fore 
yard, and, after nearly half an hour's struggle, mastered 
the sail, and got it well furled round the yard. The 
force of the wind had never been greater than at this 
moment. In going up the rigging, it seemed absolutely 
to pin us down to the shrouds 1 ; and, on the yard, there 
was no such thing as turning a face to windward. Yet 



276 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

here was no driving sleet, and darkness, and wet, and 
cold, as off Cape Horn; and instead of stiff oil-cloth 
suits, southwester caps, and thick boots, we had on 
hats, round jackets, duck trousers, light shoes, and 
everything light and easy. These things make a great 
difference to a sailor. When we got on deck, the man 
at the wheel struck eight bells (four o'clock in the 
morning), and "All Starbowlines, ahoy!" brought 
the other watch up, but there was no going below 
for us. The gale was now at its height, " blowing like 
scissors and thumb-screws " ; the captain was on deck ; 
the ship, which was light, rolling and pitching as 
though she would shake the long sticks out of her, 
and the sails were gaping open and splitting in every di- 
rection. The mizzen topsail, which was a comparatively 
new sail, and close reefed, split from head to foot, in 
the bunt; the fore topsail went, in one rent, from clew 
to earing, and was blowing to tatters ; one of the 
chain bobstays parted; the spritsail yard sprung in the 
slings ; the martingale had slued away off to leeward ; 
and, owing to the long dry weather, the lee rigging 
hung in large bights at every lurch. One of the main 
top-gallant shrouds had parted; and, to crown all, the 
galley had got adrift, and gone over to leeward, and 
the anchor on the lee bow had worked loose, and was 
thumping the side. Here was work enough for all 
hands for half a day. Our gang laid out on the mizzen 
topsail yard, and after more than half an hour's hard 
work, furled the sail, though it bellied out over our 
heads, and again, by a slat of the wind, blew in under 
the yard with a fearful jerk, and almost threw us off 
from the foot-ropes. 

Double gaskets were passed round the yards, rolling 
tackles and other gear bowsed taut, and everything 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 277 

made as secure as it could be. Coming down, we found 
the rest of the crew just coming down the fore rigging, 
having furled the tattered topsail, or, rather, swathed 
it round the yard, which looked like a broken limb, 
bandaged. There was no sail now on the ship, but the 
spanker and the close-reefed main topsail, which still 
held good. But this was too much after sail, and order 
was given to furl the spanker. The brails were hauled 
up, and all the light hands in the starboard watch sent 
out on the gaff to pass the gaskets; but they could do 
nothing with it. The second mate swore at them for a 
parcel of " sogers," and sent up a couple of the best 
men ; but they could do no better, and the gaff was 
lowered down. All hands were now employed in setting 
up the lee rigging, fishing the spritsail yard, lashing the 
galley, and getting tackles upon the martingale, to bowse 
it to windward. Being in the larboard watch, my duty 
was forward, to assist in setting up the martingale. 
Three of us were out on the martingale guys and back- 
ropes for more than half an hour, carrying out, hooking 
and unhooking the tackles, several times buried in the 
seas, until the mate ordered us in, from fear of our 
being washed off. The anchors were then to be taken 
up on the rail, which kept all hands on the forecastle 
for an hour, though every now and then the seas broke 
over it, washing the rigging off to leeward, filling the lee 
scuppers breast-high, and washing chock aft to the taff- 
rail. 

Having got everything secure again, we were promis- 
ing ourselves some breakfast, for it was now nearly nine 
o'clock in the forenoon, when the main topsail showed 
evident signs of giving way. Some sail must be kept on 
the ship, and the captain ordered the fore and main 
spencer gaffs to be lowered down, and the two spencers 



278 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

(which were storm sails, bran-new, small, and made of 
the strongest canvas) to be got up and bent; leaving 
the main topsail to blow away, with a blessing on it, 
if it would only last until we could set the spencers. 
These we bent on very carefully, with strong robands and 
seizings, and, making tackles fast to the clews, bowsed 
them down to the water-ways. By this time the main 
topsail was among the things that have been, and we 
went aloft to stow away the remnant of the last sail of 
all those which were on the ship twenty-four hours be- 
fore. The spencers were now the only whole sails on 
the ship, and, being strong and small, and near the deck, 
presenting but little surface to the wind above the rail, 
promised to hold out well. Hove-to under these, and 
eased by having no sail above the tops, the ship rose and 
fell, and drifted off to leeward like a line-of-battle ship. 

It was now eleven o'clock, and the watch was sent 
below to get breakfast, and at eight bells (noon), as 
everything was snug although the gale had not in the 
least abated, the watch was set, and the other watch 
and idlers sent below. For three days and three nights 
the gale continued with unabated fury, and with singu- 
lar regularity. There were no lulls, and very little varia- 
tion in its fierceness. Our ship, being light, rolled so as 
almost to send the fore yard-arm under water, and 
drifted off bodily to leeward. All this time there was 
not a cloud to be seen in the sky, day or night ; no, not 
so large as a man's hand. Every morning the sun rose 
cloudless from the sea, and set again at night in the 
sea, in a flood of light. The stars, too, came out of the 
blue one after another, night after night, unobscured. 
and twinkled as clear as on a still, frosty night at home, 
until the day came upon them. All this time the sea 
was rolling in immense surges, white with foam, as far 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 279 

as the eye could reach, on every side, for we were now 
leagues and leagues from shore. 

The between-decks being empty, several of us slept 
there in hammocks, which are the best things in the 
world to sleep in during a storm ; it not being true of 
them, as it is of another kind of bed, " when the wind 
blows the cradle will rock " ; for it is the ship that rocks, 
while they hang vertically from the beams. During 
these seventy-two hours we had nothing to do but to 
turn in and out, four hours on deck, and four below, 
eat, sleep, and keep watch. The watches were only 
varied by taking the helm in turn, and now and then 
by one of the sails, which were furled, blowing out of 
the gaskets, and getting adrift, which sent us up on the 
yards, and by getting tackles on different parts of the 
rigging, which were slack. Once the wheel-rope parted, 
which might have been fatal to us, had not the chief 
mate sprung instantly with a relieving tackle to wind- 
ward, and kept the tiller up, till a new rope could be 
rove. On the morning of the twentieth, at daybreak, 
the gale had evidently done its worst, and had some- 
what abated; so much so that all hands were called to 
bend new sails, although it was still blowing as hard as 
two common gales. One at a time, and with great diffi- 
culty and labor, the old sails were unbent and sent 
down by the buntlines, and three new topsails, made 
for the homeward passage round Cape Horn, which had 
never been bent, were got up from the sail-room, and, 
under the care of the sailmaker, were fitted for bending, 
and sent up by the halyards into the tops, and, with 
stops and frapping-lines, were bent to the yards, close- 
reefed, sheeted home, and hoisted. These were bent one 
at a time, and with the greatest care and difficulty. 
Two spare courses were then got up and bent in the 



280 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

same manner and furled, and a storm-jib, with the bon- 
net off, bent and furled to the boom. It was twelve 
o'clock before we got through, and five hours of more 
exhausting labor I never experienced ; and no one of 
that ship's crew, I will venture to say, will ever desire 
again to unbend and bend five large sails in the teeth of 
a tremendous northwester. Towards night a few clouds 
appeared in the horizon, and, as the gale moderated, the 
usual appearance of driving clouds relieved the face of 
the sky. The fifth day after the commencement of the 
storm, we shook a reef out of each topsail, and set the 
reefed foresail, jib, and spanker, but it was not until 
after eight days of reefed topsails that we had a whole 
sail on the ship, and then it was quite soon enough, for 
the captain was anxious to make up for leeway, the gale 
having blown us half the distance to the Sandwich Islands. 

Inch by inch, as fast as the gale would permit, we 
made sail on the ship, for the wind still continued ahead, 
and we*had many days' sailing to get back to the longi- 
tude we were in when the storm took us. For eight 
days more we beat to windward under a stiff top-gallant 
breeze, when the wind shifted and became variable. A 
light southeaster, to which we could carry a reefed top- 
mast studding-sail, did wonders for our dead reckoning. 

Friday, December 4th. After a passage of twenty days, 
we arrived at the mouth of the Bay of San Francisco. 




CHAPTER 
XXVI 



OUR place of destination had been Monterey, 
but as we were to the northward of it when 
the wind hauled ahead, we made a fair 
wind for San Francisco. This large bay, which lies in 
latitude 37 58', was discovered by Sir Francis Drake, 
and by him represented to be (as indeed it is) a mag- 
nificent bay, containing several good harbors, great depth 
of water, and surrounded by a fertile and finely wooded 
country. About thirty miles from the mouth of the bay, 
and on the southeast side, is a high point, upon which 
the Presidio is built. Behind this point is the little harbor, 
or bight, called Yerba Buena, in which trading-vessels 
anchor, and, near it, the Mission of Dolores. There was 
no other habitation on this side of the Bay, except a shanty 
of rough boards put up by a man named Richardson, 
who was doing a little trading between the vessels and 
the Indians. 1 Here, at anchor, and the only vessel, 
was a brig under Russian colors, from Sitka, in Russian 
America, which had come down to winter, and to take, 
in a supply of tallow and grain, great quantities of which 

1 The next year Richardson built a one-story adobe house on the 
same spot, which was long afterwards known as the oldest house in 
the great city of San Francisco. 



282 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

latter article are raised in the Missions at the head of 
the bay. The second day after our arrival we went on 
board the brig, it being Sunday, as a matter of curiosity ; 
and there was enough there to gratify it. Though no 
larger than the Pilgrim, she had five or six officers, and 
a crew of between twenty and thirty; and such a stupid 
and greasy-looking set, I never saw before. Although 
it was quite comfortable weather and we had nothing on 
but straw hats, shirts, and duck trousers, and were bare- 
footed, they had, every man of them, doubled-soled boots, 
coming up to the knees, and well greased ; thick woollen 
trousers, frocks, waistcoats, pea-jackets, woollen caps, and 
everything in true Nova Zembla rig; and in the warm- 
est days they made no change. The clothing of one of 
these men would weigh nearly as much as that of half 
our crew. They had brutish faces, looked like the an- 
tipodes of sailors, and apparently dealt in nothing but 
grease. They lived upon grease; eat it, drank it, slept 
in the midst of it, and their clothes were covered with 
it. To a Russian, grease is the greatest luxury. They 
looked with greedy eyes upon the tallow-bags as they 
were taken into the vessel, and, no doubt, would have 
eaten one up whole, had not the officer kept watch over 
it. The grease appeared to fill their pores, and to come 
out in their hair and on their faces. It seems as if it 
were this saturation which makes them stand cold and 
rain so well. If they were to go into a warm climate, 
they would melt and die of the scurvy. 

The vessel was no better than the crew. Everything 
was in the oldest and most inconvenient fashion possible: 
running trusses and lifts on the yards, and large hawser 
cables, coiled all over the decks, and served and parcelled 
in all directions. The topmasts, top-gallant-masts, and 
studding-sail booms were nearly black for want of scrap- 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 283 

ing, and the decks would have turned the stomach of a 
man-of-war's-man. The galley was down in the fore- 
castle ; and there the crew lived, in the midst of the steam 
and grease of the cooking, in a place as hot as an oven, 
and apparently never cleaned out. Five minutes in the 
forecastle was enough for us, and we were glad to get 
into the open air. We made some trade with them, buy- 
ing Indian curiosities, of which they had a great number ; 
such as bead-work, feathers of birds, fur moccasons, &c. 
I purchased a large robe, made of the skins of some 
animal, dried and sewed nicely together, and covered all 
over on the outside with thick downy feathers, taken from 
the breasts of various birds, and arranged with their dif- 
ferent colors so as to make a brilliant show. 

A few days after our arrival the rainy season set in, 
and for three weeks it rained almost every hour, with- 
out cessation. This was bad for our trade, for the 
collecting of hides is managed differently in this port 
from what it is in any other on the coast. The Mis- 
sion of Dolores, near the anchorage, has no trade at 
all ; but those of San Jose, Santa Clara, and others 
situated on the large creeks or rivers which run into the 
bay, and distant between fifteen and forty miles from the 
anchorage, do a greater business in hides than any in 
California. Large boats, or launches, manned by In- 
dians, and capable of carrying from five to six hundred 
hides apiece, are attached to the Missions, and sent down 
to the vessels with hides, to bring away goods in re- 
turn. Some of the crews of the vessels are obliged to 
go and come in the boats, to look out for the hides 
and goods. These are favorite expeditions with the 
sailors in fine weather; but now, to be gone three or 
four days, in open boats, in constant rain, without any 
shelter, and with cold food, was hard service. Two of 



284 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

our men went up to Santa Clara in one of these boats, 
and were gone three days, during all which time they 
had a constant rain, and did not sleep a wink, but passed 
three long nights walking fore and aft the boat, in the 
open air. When they got on board they were completely 
exhausted, and took a watch below of twelve hours. 
All the hides, too, that came down in the boats were 
soaked with water, and unfit to put below, so that we 
were obliged to trice them up to dry, in the intervals of 
sunshine or wind, upon all parts of the vessel. We got 
up tricing-lines from the jib-boom-end to each arm of the 
fore yard, and thence to the main and cross- jack yard- 
arms. Between the tops, too, and the mast-heads, from 
the fore to the main swifters, and thence to the mizzen 
rigging, and in all directions athwartships, tricing-lines 
were run, and strung with hides. The head stays and 
guys, and the spritsail yard were lined, and, having still 
more, we got out the swinging-booms, and strung them 
and the forward and after guys with hides. The rail, 
fore and aft, the windlass, capstan, the sides of the ship, 
and every vacant place on deck, were covered with wet 
hides, on the least sign of an interval for drying. Our 
ship was nothing but a mass of hides, from the cat-har- 
pins to the water's edge, and from the jib-boom-end to 
the taffrail. 

One cold, rainy evening, about eight o'clock, I received 
orders to get ready to start for San Jose at four the next 
morning, in one of these Indian boats, with four days' 
provisions. I got my oil-cloth clothes, southwester, and 
thick boots ready, and turned into my hammock early, 
determined to get some sleep in advance, as the boat 
was to be alongside before daybreak. I slept on till all 
hands were called in the morning; for, fortunately for 
me, the Indians, intentionally, or from mistaking their 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 285 

orders, had gone off alone in the night, and were far out 
of sight. Thus I escaped three or four days of very un- 
comfortable service. 

Four of our men, a few days afterwards, went up in 
one of the quarter-boats to Santa Clara, to carry the 
agent, and remained out all night in a drenching rain, 
in the small boat, in which there was not room for them 
to turn round ; the agent having gone up to the Mission 
and left the men to their fate, making no provision for 
their accommodation, and not even sending them any- 
thing to eat. After this they had to pull thirty miles, 
and when they got on board were so stiff that they could 
not come up the gangway ladder. This filled up the 
measure of the agent's unpopularity, and never after 
this could he get anything done for him by the crew ; 
and many a delay and vexation, and many a good duck- 
ing in the surf, did he get to pay up old scores, or 
" square the yards with the bloody quill-driver." 

Having collected nearly all the hides that were to be 
procured, we began our preparations for taking in a sup- 
ply of wood and water, for both of which San Francisco 
is the best place on the coast. A small island, about 
two leagues from the anchorage, called by us " Wood 
Island," and by the Mexicans " Isla de los Angeles," 
was covered with trees to the water's edge ; and to this 
two of our crew, who were Kennebec men, and could 
handle an axe like a plaything, were sent every morn- 
ing to cut wood, with two boys to pile it up for them. 
In about a week they had cut enough to last us a year, 
and the third mate, with myself and three others, were 
sent over in a large, schooner-rigged, open launch, which 
we had hired of the Mission, to take in the wood, and 
bring it to the ship. We left the ship about noon, but 
owing to a strong head wind, and a tide which here 



286 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

runs four or five knots, did not get into the harbor, 
formed by two points of the island, where the boats lie, 
until sundown. No sooner had we come-to, than a 
strong southeaster, which had been threatening us all 
day, set in, with heavy rain and a chilly air. We were 
in rather a bad situation: an open boat, a heavy rain, 
and a long night ; for in winter, in this latitude, it was 
dark nearly fifteen hours. Taking a small skiff which 
we had brought with us, we went ashore, but discovered 
no shelter, for everything was open to the rain ; and, col- 
lecting a little wood, which we found by lifting up the 
leaves and brush, and a few mussels, we put aboard 
again, and made the best preparations in our power for 
passing the night. We unbent the mainsail, and formed 
an awning with it over the after part of the boat, made 
a bed of wet logs of wood, and, with our jackets on, lay 
down, about six o'clock, to sleep. Finding the rain run- 
ning down upon us, and our jackets getting wet through, 
and the rough, knotty logs rather indifferent couches, 
we turned out ; and, taking an iron pan which we brought 
with us, we wiped it out dry, put some stones around 
it, cut the wet bark from some sticks, and, striking a 
light, made a small fire in the pan. Keeping some sticks 
near to dry, and covering the whole over with a roof of 
boards, we kept up a small fire, by which we cooked our 
mussels, and ate them, rather for an occupation than 
from hunger. Still it was not ten o'clock, and the night 
was long before us, when one of the party produced 
an old pack of Spanish cards from his monkey-jacket 
pocket, which we hailed as a great windfall ; and, keep- 
ing a dim, flickering light by our fagots, we played 
game after game, till one or two o'clock, when, becom- 
ing really tired, we went to our logs again, one sitting up 
at a time, in turn, to keep watch over the fire. Toward 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 287 

morning the rain ceased, and the air became sensibly 
colder, so that we found sleep impossible, and sat up, 
watching for daybreak. No sooner was it light than we 
went ashore, and began our preparations for loading our 
vessel. We were not mistaken in the coldness of the 
weather, for a white frost was on the ground, and a 
thing we had never seen before in California one or two 
little puddles of fresh water were skimmed over with a 
thin coat of ice. In this state of the weather, and before 
sunrise, in the gray of the morning, we had to wade 
off, nearly up to our hips in water, to load the skiff 
with the wood by armfuls. The third mate remained 
on board the launch, two more men stayed in the skiff to 
load and manage it, and all the water-work, as usual, 
fell upon the two youngest of us ; and there we were 
with frost on the ground, wading forward and back, from 
the beach to the boat, with armfuls of wood, barefooted, 
and our trousers rolled up. When the skiff went off 
with her load, we could only keep our feet from freezing 
by racing up and down the beach on the hard sand, as 
fast as we could go. We were all day at this work, and 
toward sundown, having loaded the vessel as deep as 
she would bear, we hove up our anchor and made sail, 
beating out of the bay. No sooner had we got into the 
large bay than we found a strong tide setting us out to 
seaward, a thick fog which prevented our seeing the 
ship, and a breeze too light to set us against the tide, 
for we were as deep as a sand-barge. By the utmost 
exertions, we saved ourselves from being carried out to 
sea, and were glad to reach the leewardmost point of the 
island, where we came-to, and prepared to pass another 
night more uncomfortable than the first, for we were 
loaded up to the gunwale, and had only a choice among 
logs and sticks for a resting-place. The next morning 



288 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

we made sail at slack water, with a fair wind, and got 
on board by eleven o'clock, when all hands were turned- 
to to unload and stow away the wood, which took till 
night. 

Having now taken in all our wood, the next morning 
a water-party was ordered off with all the casks. From 
this we escaped, having had a pretty good siege with the 
wooding. The water-party were gone three days, during 
which time they narrowly escaped being carried out to 
sea, and passed one day on an island, where one of 
them shot a deer, great numbers of which overrun the 
islands and hills of San Francisco Bay. 

While not off on these wood and water parties, or up 
the rivers to the Missions, we had easy times on board 
the ship. We were moored, stem and stern, within a 
cable's length of the shore, safe from southeasters, and 
with little boating to do; and, as it rained nearly all 
the time, awnings were put over the hatchways, and all 
hands sent down between decks, where we were at work, 
day after day, picking oakum, until we got enough to 
calk the ship all over, and to last the whole voyage. 
Then we made a whole suit of gaskets for the voyage 
home, a pair of wheel-ropes from strips of green hide, 
great quantities of spun-yarn, and everything else that 
could be made between decks. It being now midwinter 
and in high latitude, the nights were very long, so that 
we were not turned-to until seven in the morning, and 
were obliged to knock off at five in the evening, when 
we got supper; which gave us nearly three hours before 
eight bells, at which time the watch was set. 

As we had now been about a year on the coast, it was 
time to think of the voyage home; and, knowing that 
the last two or three months of our stay would be very 
busy ones, and that we should never have so good an 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 289 

opportunity to work for ourselves as the present, we all 
employed our evenings in making clothes for the pas- 
sage home, and more especially for Cape Horn. As soon 
as supper was over and the kids cleared away, and each 
man had taken his smoke, we seated ourselves on our 
chests round the lamp, which swung from a beam, and 
went to work each in his own way, some making hats, 
others trousers, others jackets, &c., &c., and no one was 
idle. The boys who could not sew well enough to make 
their own clothes laid up grass into sinnet for the men, 
who sewed for them in return. Several of us clubbed 
together and bought a large piece of twilled cotton, 
which we made into trousers and jackets, and, giving 
them several coats of linseed oil, laid them by for Cape 
Horn. I also sewed and covered a tarpaulin hat, thick 
and strong enough to sit upon, and made myself a com- 
plete suit of flannel underclothing for bad weather. 
Those who had no southwester caps made them ; and 
several of the crew got up for themselves tarpaulin 
jackets and trousers, lined on the inside with flannel. 
Industry was the order of the day, and every one did 
something for himself; for we knew that as the season 
advanced, and we went further south, we should have 
no evenings to work in. 

.Friday, December 25th. This day was Christmas ; 
and, as it rained all day long, and there were no hides to 
take in, and nothing especial to do, the captain gave us a 
holiday (the first we had had, except Sundays, since leav- 
ing Boston), and plum-duff for dinner. The Russian brig, 
following the Old Style, had celebrated their Christ- 
mas eleven days before, when they had a grand blow- 
out, and (as our men said) drank, in the forecastle, a 
barrel of gin, ate up a bag of tallow, and made a soup 
of the skin. 



290 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

Sunday, December 2jth. We had now finished all our 
business at this port, and, it being Sunday, we unmoored 
ship and got under way, firing a salute to the Russian 
brig, and another to the presidio, which were both an- 
swered. The commandante of the presidio, Don Gua- 
dalupe Vallejo, a young man, and the most popular, 
among the Americans and English, of any man in Cali- 
fornia, was on board when we got under way. He spoke 
English very well, and was suspected of being favorably 
inclined to foreigners. 

We sailed down this magnificent bay with a light: 
wind, the tide, which was running out, carrying us at 
the rate of four or five knots. It was a fine day ; the 
first of entire sunshine we had had for more than a 
month. We passed directly under the high cliff on' 
which the presidio is built, and stood into the middle 
of the bay, from whence we could see small bays mak- 
ing up into the interior, large and beautifully wooded 
islands, and the mouths of several small rivers. If Cali- 
fornia ever becomes a prosperous country, this bay will be 
the centre of its prosperity. The abundance of wood and 
water ; the extreme fertility of its shores ; the excellence of 
its climate, which is as near to being perfect as any in the 
world ; and its facilities for navigation, affording the best 
anchoring-grounds in the whole western coast of America, 
all fit it for a place of great importance. 

The tide leaving us, we came to anchor near the 
mouth of the bay, under a high and beautifully sloping 
hill, upon which herds of hundreds and hundreds of red 
deer, and the stag, with his high branching antlers, were 
bounding about, looking at us for a moment, and then 
starting off, affrighted at the noises which we made for 
the purpose of seeing the variety of their beautiful at- 
titudes and motions. 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 291 

At midnight, the tide having turned, we hove up our 
anchor and stood out of the bay, with a fine starry 
heaven above us, the first we had seen for many 
weeks. Before the light northerly winds, which blow 
here with the regularity of trades, we worked slowly 
along, and made Point Ano Nuevo, the northerly point 
of the Bay of Monterey, on Monday afternoon. We 
spoke, going in, the brig Diana, of the Sandwich Islands, 
from the Northwest Coast, last from Sitka. She was 
off the point at the same time with us, but did not get 
in to the anchoring-ground until an hour or two after 
us. It was ten o'clock on Tuesday morning when we 
came to anchor. Monterey looked just as it did when I 
saw it last, which was eleven months before, in the brig 
Pilgrim. The pretty lawn on which it stands, as green 
as sun and rain could make it; the pine wood on the 
south; the small river on the north side; the adobe 
houses, with their white walls and red-tiled roofs, dotted 
about on the green; the low, white presidio, with its 
soiled tri-colored flag flying, and the discordant din of 
drums and trumpets of the noon parade, all brought 
up the scene we had witnessed here with so much pleas- 
ure nearly a year before, when coming from a long voy- 
age, and from our unprepossessing reception at Santa 
Barbara. It seemed almost like coming to a home. 




CHAPTER 
XXVII 



THE only other vessel in the port was a Rus- 
sian government bark from Sitka, mounting- 
eight guns (four of which we found to be 
quakers), and having on board the ex-governor, who was 
going in her to Mazatlan, and thence overland to Vera 
Cruz. He offered to take letters, and deliver them to the 
American consul at Vera Cruz, whence they could be 
easily forwarded to the United States. We accordingly 
made up a packet of letters, almost every one writing, 
and dating them " January ist, 1836." The governor 
was true to his promise, and they all reached Boston 
before the middle of March ; the shortest communication 
ever yet made across the country. 

The brig Pilgrim had been lying in Monterey through 
the latter part of November, according to orders, wait- 
ing for us. Day after day Captain Faucon went up to 
the hill to look out for us, and at last gave us up, think- 
ing we must have gone down in the gale which we ex- 
perienced off Point Conception, and which had blown 
with great fury over the whole coast, driving ashore 
several vessels in the snuggest ports. An English brig, 
which had put into San Francisco, lost both her anchors, 
the Rosa was driven upon a mud bank in San Diego, 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 293 

and the Pilgrim, with great difficulty, rode out the gale 
in Monterey, with three anchors ahead. She sailed early 
in December for San Diego and intermedios. 

As we were to be here over Sunday, and Monterey 
was the best place to go ashore on the whole coast, and 
we had had no liberty-day for nearly three months, 
every one was for going ashore. On Sunday morning 
as soon as the decks were washed, and we were through 
breakfast, those who had obtained liberty began to clean 
themselves, as it is called, to go ashore. Buckets of 
fresh water, cakes of soap, large coarse towels, and 
we went to work scrubbing one another, on the fore- 
castle. Having gone through this, the next thing was 
to step into the head, one on each side, with a 
bucket apiece, and duck one another, by drawing up 
water and heaving over each other, while we were stripped 
to a pair of trousers. Then came the rigging up. The 
usual outfit of pumps, white stockings, loose white duck 
trousers, blue jackets, clean checked shirts, black ker- 
chiefs, hats well varnished, with a fathom of black ribbon 
over the left eye, a silk handkerchief flying from the 
outside jacket pocket, and four or five dollars tied up 
in the back of the neckerchief, and we were " all right." 
One of the quarter-boats pulled us ashore, and we 
streamed up to the town. I tried to find the church, 
in order to see the worship, but was told that there 
was no service, except a mass early in the morning; 
so we went about the town, visiting the Americans and 
English, and the Mexicans whom we had known when 
we were here before. Toward noon we procured horses, 
and rode out to the Carmel Mission, which is about 
a league from the town, where we got something in the 
way of a dinner beef, eggs, frijoles, tortillas, and some 
middling wine from the mayor-domo, who, of course, 



294 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

refused to make any charge, as it was the Lord's gift, 
yet received our present, as a gratuity, with a low bow, 
a touch of the hat, and " Dios se lo pague ! " 

After this repast we had a fine run, scouring the 
country on our fleet horses, and came into town soon 
after sundown. Here we found our companions, who 
had refused to go to ride with us, thinking that a sailor 
has no more business with a horse than a fish has with 
a balloon. They were moored, stem and stern, in a 
grog-shop, making a great noise, with a crowd of Indians 
and hungry half-breeds about them, and with a fair 
prospect of being stripped and dirked, or left to pass the 
night in the calabozo. With a great deal of trouble we 
managed to get them down to the boats, though not 
without many angry looks and interferences from the 
Mexicans, who had marked them out for their prey. 
The Diana's crew a set of worthless outcasts who 
had been picked up at the islands from the refuse of 
whale-ships were all as drunk as beasts, and had a 
set-to on the beach with their captain, who was in no 
better state than themselves. They swore they would 
not go aboard, and went back to the town, were robbed 
and beaten, and lodged in the calabozo, until the next 
day, when the captain brought them out. Our fore- 
castle, as usual after a liberty-day, was a scene of tumult 
all night long, from the drunken ones. They had just 
got to sleep toward morning, when they were turned-up 
with the rest, and kept at work all day in the water, 
carrying hides, their heads aching so that they could 
hardly stand. This is sailor's pleasure. 

Nothing worthy of remark happened while we were 
here, except a little boxing-match on board our own 
ship, which gave us something to talk about. Our 
broad-backed, big-headed Cape Cod boy, about sixteen 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 295 

years old, had been playing the bully, for the whole 
voyage, over a slender, delicate-looking boy from one 
of the Boston schools, and over whom he had much the 
advantage in strength, age, and experience in the ship's 
duty, for this was the first time the Boston boy had been 
on salt water. The latter, however, had " picked up his 
crumbs," was learning his duty, and getting strength 
and confidence daily, and began to assert his rights 
against his oppressor. Still, the other was his master, 
and, by his superior strength, always tackled with him 
and threw him down. One afternoon, before we were 
turned-to, these boys got into a violent squabble in the 
between-decks, when George (the Boston boy) said he 
would fight Nat if he could have fair play. The chief 
mate heard the noise, dove down the hatchway, hauled 
them both up on deck, and told them to shake hands 
and have no more trouble for the voyage, or else they 
should fight till one gave in for beaten. Finding neither 
willing to make an offer of reconciliation, he called all 
hands up (for the captain was ashore, and he could do 
as he chose aboard), ranged the crew in the waist, 
marked a line on the deck, brought the two boys up to 
it, making them " toe the mark " ; then made the bight 
of a rope fast to a belaying-pin, and stretched it across 
the deck, bringing it just above their waists. ' No strik- 
ing below the rope ! " And there they stood, one on each 
side of it, face to face, and went at it like two game- 
cocks. The Cape Cod boy, Nat, put in his double- 
fisters, starting the blood, and bringing the black-and- 
blue spots all over the face and arms of the other, whom 
we expected to see give in every moment ; but, the more 
he was hurt, the better he fought. Again and again he 
was knocked nearly down, but up he came again and 
faced the mark, as bold as a Hon, again to take the 



296 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

heavy blows, which sounded so as to make one's heart 
turn with pity for him. At length he came up to the 
mark the last time, his shirt torn from his body, his face 
covered with blood and bruises, and his eyes flashing fire, 
and swore he would stand there until one or the other 
was killed, and set-to like a young fury. " Hurrah in 
the bow ! " said the men, cheering him on. ' Never say 
die, while there 's a shot in the locker ! " Nat tried to 
close with him, knowing his advantage, but the mate 
stopped that, saying there should be fair play, and no 
fingering. Nat then came up to the mark, but looked 
white about the mouth, and his blows were not given 
with half the spirit of his first. Something was the mat- 
ter. I was not sure whether he was cowed, or, being 
good-natured, he did not care to beat the boy any more. 
At all events he faltered. He had always been master, and 
had nothing to gain and everything to lose; while the 
other fought for honor and freedom, and under a sense 
of wrong. It was soon over. Nat gave in, apparently 
not much hurt, and never afterwards tried to act the 
bully over the boy. We took George forward, washed 
him in the deck-tub, complimented his pluck, and from 
this time he became somebody on board, having fought 
himself into notice. Mr. Brown's plan had a good effect, 
for there was no more quarrelling among the boys for the 
rest of the voyage. 

Wednesday, January 6th, 1836. Set sail from Mon- 
terey, with a number of Mexicans as passengers, and 
shaped our course for Santa Barbara. The Diana went 
out of the bay in company with us, but parted from us off 
Point Pinos, being bound to the Sandwich Islands. We 
had a smacking breeze for several hours, and went along 
at a great rate until night, when it died away, as usual, 
and the land-breeze set in, which brought us upon a taut 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 297 

bowline. Among our passengers was a young man who 
was a good representation of a decayed gentleman. He 
reminded me much of some of the characters in Gil Bias. 
He was of the aristocracy of the country, his family be- 
ing of pure Spanish blood, and once of considerable im- 
portance in Mexico. His father had been governor of 
the province, and, having amassed a large property, set- 
tled at San Diego, where he built a large house with a 
court-yard in front, kept a retinue of Indians, and set up 
for the grandee of that part of the country. His son was 
sent to Mexico, where he received an education, and 
went into the first society of the capital. Misfortune, 
extravagance, and the want of any manner of getting in- 
terest on money, soon ate the estate up, and Don Juan 
Bandini returned from Mexico accomplished, poor, and 
proud, and without any office or occupation, to lead the 
life of most young men of the better families, dissi- 
pated and extravagant when the means are at hand ; am- 
bitious at heart, and impotent in act; often pinched for 
bread ; keeping up an appearance of style, when their 
poverty is known to each half-naked Indian boy in the 
street, and standing in dread of every small trader and 
shopkeeper in the place. He had a slight and elegant 
figure, moved gracefully, danced and waltzed beautifully, 
spoke good Castilian, with a pleasant and refined voice 
and accent, and had, throughout, the bearing of a man 
of birth and figure. Yet here he was, with his pas- 
sage given him (as I afterwards learned), for he had not 
the means of paying for it, and living upon the charity 
of our agent. He was polite to every one, spoke to the 
sailors, and gave four reals I dare say the last he had 
in his pocket --to the steward, who waited upon him. 
I could not but feel a pity for him, especially when I saw 
him by the side of his fellow-passenger and townsman, a 



298 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

fat, coarse, vulgar, pretentious fellow of a Yankee trader, 
who had made money in San Diego, and was eating out 
the vitals of the Bandinis, fattening upon their extrava- 
gance, grinding them in their poverty ; having mort- 
gages on their lands, forestalling their cattle, and already 
making an inroad upon their jewels, which were their 
last hope. 

Don Juan had with him a retainer, who was as much 
like many of the characters in Gil Bias as his master. 
He called himself a private secretary, though there was 
no writing for him to do, and he lived in the steerage 
with the carpenter and sailmaker. He was certainly a 
character ; could read and write well ; spoke good Span- 
ish ; had been over the greater part of Spanish America, 
and lived in every possible situation, and served in every 
conceivable capacity, though generally in that of confi- 
dential servant to some man of figure. I cultivated this 
man's acquaintance, and during the five weeks that he 
was with us, for he remained on board until we ar- 
rived at San Diego, - - 1 gained a greater knowledge of 
the state of political parties in Mexico, and the habits 
and affairs of the different classes of society, than I 
could have learned from almost any one else. He took 
great pains in correcting my Spanish, and supplying me 
with colloquial phrases, and common terms and exclama- 
tions, in speaking. He lent me a file of late newspapers 
from the city of Mexico, which were full of the trium- 
phal reception of Santa Ana, who had just returned from 
Tampico after a victory, and with the preparations for 
his expedition against the Texans. " Viva Santa Ana ! " 
was the byword everywhere, and it had even reached 
California, though there were still many here, among 
whom was Don Juan Bandini, who were opposed to his 
government, and intriguing to bring in Bustamente. 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 299 

Santa Ana, they said, was for breaking down the Mis- 
sions ; or, as they termed it, " Santa Ana no quiere 
religion." Yet I had no doubt that the office of admin- 
istrador of San Diego would reconcile Don Juan to any 
dynasty, and any state of the church. In these papers, 
too, I found scraps of American and English news ; but 
which was so unconnected, and I was so ignorant of 
everything preceding them for eighteen months past, 
that they only awakened a curiosity \vhich they could 
not satisfy. One article spoke of Taney as Justicia 
Mayor de los Estados Unidos, (what had become of 
Marshall? was he dead, or banished?) and another made 
known, by news received from Vera Cruz, that " El 
Vizconde Melbourne " had returned to the office of 
"primer ministro," in place of Sir Roberto Peel. (Sir 
Robert Peel had been minister, then? and where were 
Earl Grey and the Duke of Wellington?) Here were the 
outlines of grand political overturns, the filling up of 
which I was left to imagine at my leisure. 

The second morning after leaving Monterey, we were 
off Point Conception. It was a bright, sunny day, and 
the wind, though strong, was fair; and everything was 
in striking contrast with our experience in the same 
place two months before, when we were drifting off from 
a northwester under a fore and main spencer. " Sail 
ho!'" cried a man who was rigging out a top-gallant 
studding-sail boom. " Where away ? " " Weather 
beam, sir ! " and in a few minutes a full-rigged brig was 
seen standing out from under Point Conception. The 
studding-sail halyards were let go, and the yards boom- 
ended, the after yards braced aback, and we waited her 
coming down. She rounded to, backed her main top- 
sail, and showed her decks full of men, four guns on a 
side, hammock nettings, and everything man-of-war 



300 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

fashion, except that there was no boatswain's whistle, 
and no uniforms on the quarter-deck. A short, square- 
built man, in a rough gray jacket, with a speaking- 
trumpet in hand, stood in the weather hammock net- 
tings. "Ship ahoy! "--"Hallo! " "What ship is 
that, pray?" "Alert." "Where are you from, pray?" 
&c., &c. She proved to be the brig Convoy, from the 
Sandwich Islands, engaged in otter-hunting among the 
islands which lie along the coast. Her armament was 
because of her being a contrabandista. The otter are 
very numerous among these islands, and, being of great 
value, the government require a heavy sum for a license 
to hunt them, and lay a high duty upon every one shot 
or carried out of the country. This vessel h#d no 
license, and paid no duty, besides being engaged in 
smuggling goods on board other vessels trading on the 
coast, and belonging to the same owners in Oahu. Our 
captain told him to look out for the Mexicans, but he 
said that they had not an armed vessel of his size in the 
whole Pacific. This was without doubt the same vessel that 
showed herself off Santa Barbara a few months before. 
These vessels frequently remain on the coast for years, 
without making port, except at the islands for wood and 
t water, and an occasional visit to Oahu for a new outfit. 

Sunday, January loth. Arrived at Santa Barbara, 
and on the following Wednesday slipped our cable and 
went to sea, on account of a southeaster. Returned to 
our anchorage the next day. We were the only vessel 
in the port. The Pilgrim had passed through the 
Canal and hove-to off the town, nearly six weeks before, 
on her passage down from Monterey, and was now at 
the leeward. She heard here of our safe arrival at San 
Francisco. 

Great preparations were making on shore for the 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 301 

marriage of our agent, who was to marry Dona Anita 
de la Guerra de Noriego y Corillo, youngest daughter of 
Don Antonio Noriego, the grandee of the place, and the 
head of the first family in California. Our steward was 
ashore three days, making pastry and cake, and some of 
the best of our stores were sent off with him. On the 
day appointed for the wedding, we took the captain 
ashore in the gig, and had orders to come for him at 
night, with leave to go up to the house and see the fan- 
dango. Returning on board, we found preparations 
making for a salute. Our guns were loaded and run out, 
men appointed to each, cartridges served out, matches 
lighted, and all the flags ready to be run up. I took 
my place at the starboard after gun, and we all waited 
for the signal from on shore. At ten o'clock the bride 
went up with her sister to the confessional, dressed in 
deep black. Nearly an hour intervened, when the great 
doors of the Mission church opened, the bells rang out a 
loud, discordant peal, the private signal for us was run 
up by the captain ashore, the bride, dressed in complete 
white, came out of the church with the bridegroom, fol- 
lowed by a long procession. Just as she stepped from 
the church door, a small white cloud issued from the 
bows of our ship, which was full in sight, the loud report 
echoed among the surrounding hills and over the bay, 
and instantly the ship was dressed in flags and pennants 
from stem to stern. Twenty-three guns followed in 
regular succession, with an interval of fifteen seconds 
between each, when the cloud blew off, and our ship lay 
dressed in her colors all day. At sundown another 
salute of the same number of guns was fired, and all the 
flags run down. This we thought was pretty well --a 
gun every fifteen seconds --for a merchantman with 
only four guns and a dozen or twenty men. 



'302 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

After supper, the gig's crew were called, and we rowed 
ashore, dressed in our uniform, beached the boat, and 
went up to the fandango. The bride's father's house 
was the principal one in the place, with a large court in 
front, upon which a tent was built, capable of containing 
several hundred people. As we drew near, we heard the 
accustomed sound of violins and guitars, and saw a great 
motion of the people witliin. Going in, we found nearly 
all the people of the town men, women, and children 
collected and crowded together, leaving barely room 
for the dancers; for on these occasions no invitations 
are given, but every one is expected to come, though 
there is always a private entertainment within the house 
for particular friends. The old women sat down in 
rows, clapping their hands to the music, and applauding 
the young ones. The music was lively, and among the 
tunes we recognized several of our popular airs, which 
we, without doubt, have taken from the Spanish. In 
the dancing I was much disappointed. The women 
stood upright, with their hands down by their sides, 
their eyes fixed upon the ground before them, and slided 
about without any perceptible means of motion ; for their 
feet were invisible, the hem of their dresses forming a 
circle about them, reaching to the ground. They looked 
as grave as though they were going through some re- 
ligious ceremony, their faces as little excited as their limbs ; 
and on the whole, instead of the spirited, fascinating 
Spanish dances which I had expected, I found the Cali- 
fornian fandango, on the part of the women at least, 
a lifeless affair. The men did better. They danced with 
grace and spirit, moving in circles round their nearly 
stationary partners, and showing their figures to ad- 



vantage. 



A great deal was said about our friend Don Juan 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 303 

Bandini, and when he did appear, which was toward the 
close of the evening, he certainly gave us the most 
graceful dancing that I had ever seen. He was dressed 
in white pantaloons, neatly made, a short jacket of dark 
silk, gayly figured, white stockings and thin morocco 
slippers upon his very small feet. His slight and graceful 
figure was well adapted to dancing, and he moved about 
with the grace and daintiness of a young fawn. An 
occasional touch of the toe to the ground seemed all 
that was necessary to give him a long interval of motion 
in the air. At the same time he was not fantastic or 
flourishing, but appeared to be rather repressing a strong 
tendency to motion. He was loudly applauded, and 
danced frequently toward the close of the evening. After 
the supper, the waltzing began, which was confined to a 
very few of the " gente de razon," and was considered a 
high accomplishment, and a mark of aristocracy. Here, 
too, Don Juan figured greatly, waltzing with the sister 
of the bride (Dona Angustias, a handsome woman and a 
general favorite) in a variety of beautiful figures, which 
lasted as much as half an hour, no one else taking 
the floor. They were repeatedly and loudly applauded, 
the old men and women jumping out of their seats in 
admiration, and the young people waving their hats and 
handkerchiefs. The great amusement of the evening 
owing to its being the Carnival was the breaking of 
eggs filled with cologne, or other essences, upon the heads 
of the company. The women bring a great number of 
these secretly about them, and the amusement is to break 
one upon the head of a gentleman when his back is 
turned. He is bound in gallantry to find out the lady 
and return the compliment, though it must not be done 
if the person sees you. A tall, stately Don, with immense 
gray whiskers, and a look of great importance, was stand- 



304 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

ing before me, when I felt a light hand on my shoulder, 
and, turning round, saw Dona Angustias (whom we 
all knew, as she had been up to Monterey, and down 
again, in the Alert), with her finger upon her lip, mo- 
tioning me gently aside. I stepped back a little, when she 
went up behind the Don, and with one hand knocked 
off his huge sombrero, and at the same instant, with the 
other, broke the egg upon his head, and, springing be- 
hind me, was out of sight in a moment. The Don 
turned slowly round, the cologne running down his face 
and over his clothes, and a loud laugh breaking out 
from every quarter. He looked round in vain for some 
time, until the direction of so many laughing eyes showed 
him the fair offender. She was his niece, and a great 
favorite with him, so old Don Domingo had to join in 
the laugh. A great many such tricks were played, and 
many a war of sharp manoeuvring was carried on be- 
tween couples of the younger people, and at every 
successful exploit a general laugh was raised. 

Another of their games I was for some time at a loss 
about. A pretty young girl was dancing, named after 
what would appear to us an almost sacrilegious custom 
of the country Espiritu Santo, when a young man 
went behind her and placed his hat directly upon her 
head, letting it fall down over her eyes, and sprang back 
among the crowd. She danced for some time with the 
hat on, when she threw it off, which called forth a 
general shout, and the young man was obliged to go out 
upon the floor and pick it up. Some of the ladies, upon 
whose heads hats had been placed, threw them off at 
once, and a few kept them on throughout the dance, and 
took them off at the end, and held them out in their 
hands, when the owner stepped out, bowed, and took it 
from them. I soon began to suspect the meaning of the 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 305 

thing, and was afterwards told that it was a compliment, 
and an offer to become the lady's gallant for the rest of 
the evening, and to wait upon her home. If the hat 
was thrown off, the offer was refused, and the gentle- 
man was obliged to pick up his hat amid a general laugh. 
Much amusement was caused sometimes by gentlemen 
putting hats on the ladies' heads, without permitting 
them to see whom it was done by. This obliged them 
to throw them off, or keep them on at a venture, and 
when they came to discover the owner the laugh was 
turned upon one or the other. 

The captain sent for us about ten o'clock, and we 
went aboard in high spirits, having enjoyed the new 
scene much, and were of great importance among 
the crew, from having so much to tell, and from the 
prospect of going every night until it was over; for 
these fandangos generally last three days. The next 
day, two of us were sent up to the town, and took care 
to come back by way of Senor Noriego's, and take a 
look into the booth. The musicians were again there, 
upon their platform, scraping and twanging away, and a 
few people, apparently of the lower classes, were danc- 
ing. The dancing is kept up, at intervals, throughout 
the day, but the crowd, the spirit, and the elite come in 
at night. The next night, which was the last, we went 
ashore in the same manner, until we got almost tired 
of the monotonous twang of the instruments, the drawl- 
ing sounds which the women kept up, as an accompani- 
ment, and the slapping of the hands in time with the 
music, in place of castanets. We found ourselves as 
great objects of attention as any persons or anything at 
the place. Our sailor dresses and we took great pains 
to have them neat and ship-shape --were much admired, 
and we were invited, from every quarter, to give them 



306 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

an American dance; but after the ridiculous figure 
some of our countrymen cut in dancing after the 
Mexicans, we thought it best to leave it to their imagi- 
nations. Our agent, with a tight, black, swallow-tailed 
coat just imported from Boston, a high stiff cravat, 
looking as if he had been pinned and skewered, with 
only his feet and hands left free, took the floor just 
after Bandini, and we thought they had had enough oC 
Yankee grace. 

The last night they kept it up in great style, and 
were getting into a high-go, when the captain called us 
off to go aboard, for, it being southeaster season, he was 
afraid to remain on shore long; and it was well he did 
not, for that night we slipped our cables, as a crowner 
to our fun ashore, and stood off before a southeaster, 
which lasted twelve hours, and returned to our anchor- 
age the next day. 




CHAPTER 
XXVIII 



MONDAY, February ist. After having been 
in port twenty-one days, we sailed for San 
Pedro, where we arrived on the following 
day, having gone " all fluking," with the weather clew of 
the mainsail hauled up, the yards braced in a little, and the 
lower studding-sail just drawing ; the wind hardly shifting 
a point during the passage. Here we found the Ayacucho 
and the Pilgrim, which last we had not seen since the nth 
of September, nearly five months ; and I really felt 
something like an affection for the old brig which had 
been my first home, and in which I had spent nearly a 
year, and got the first rough and tumble of a sea life. She, 
too, was associated in my mind with Boston, the wharf 
from which we sailed, anchorage in the stream, leave- 
taking, and all such matters, which were now to me like 
small links connecting me with another world, which I 
had once been in, and which, please God, I might yet 
see again. I went on board the first night, after supper ; 
found the old cook in the galley, playing upon the fife 
which I had given him as a parting present ; had a 
hearty shake of the hand from him ; and dove down 
into the forecastle, where were my old shipmates, the 
same as ever, glad to see me ; for they had nearly given 



308 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

us up as lost, especially when they did not find us in 
Santa Barbara. They had been at San Diego last, 
had been lying at San Pedro nearly a month, and had 
received three thousand hides from the pueblo. But 

" Sic vos non vobis " 

these we took from her the next day, which filled us up, 
and we both got under way on the 4th, she bound to 
San Francisco again, and we to San Diego, where we 
arrived on the 6th. 

We were always glad to see San Diego; it being the 
depot, and a snug little place, and seeming quite like 
home, especially to me, who had spent a summer there. 
There was no vessel in port, the Rosa having sailed for 
Valparaiso and Cadiz, and the Catalina for Callao, nearly 
a month before. We discharged our hides, and in four 
days were ready to sail again for the windward ; and, to 
our great joy for the last time! Over thirty thousand 
hides had been already collected, cured, and stowed 
away in the house, which, together with what we should 
collect, and the Pilgrim would bring down from San 
Francisco, would make out our cargo. The thought 
that we were actually going up for the last time, and 
that the next time we went round San Diego point it 
would be " homeward bound," brought things so near a 
close that we felt as though we were just there, though 
it must still be the greater part of a year before we 
could see Boston. 

I spent one evening, as had been my custom, at the 
oven with the Sandwich-Islanders ; but it was far from 
being the usual noisy, laughing time. It has been said 
that the greatest curse to each of the South Sea Islands 
was the first man who discovered it ; and every one who 
knows anything of the history of our commerce in those 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 309 

parts knows how much truth there is in this ; and that the 
white men, with their vices, have brought in diseases be- 
fore unknown to the islanders, which are now sweeping 
off the native population of the Sandwich Islands at 
the rate of one fortieth of the entire population annu- 
ally. They seem to be a doomed people. The curse of a 
people calling themselves Christians seems to follow them 
everywhere ; and even here, in this obscure place, lay two 
young islanders, whom I had left strong, active young 
men, in the vigor of health, wasting away under a disease 
which they would never have known but for their inter- 
course with people from Christian America and Europe. 
One of them was not so ill, and was moving about, smok- 
ing his pipe, and talking, and trying to keep up his spirits ; 
but the other, who was my friend and aikane, Hope, 
was the most dreadful object I had ever seen in my life, 
his eyes sunken and dead, his cheeks fallen in against 
his teeth, his hands looking like claws ; a dreadful cough, 
which seemed to rack his whole shattered system, a 
hollow, whispering voice, and an entire inability to move 
himself. There he lay, upon a mat, on the ground, 
which was the only floor of the oven, with no medicine, 
no comforts, and no one to care for or help him but a 
few Kanakas, who were willing enough, but could do 
nothing. The sight of him made me sick and faint. 
Poor fellow! During the four months that I lived upon 
the beach, we were continually together, in work, and in 
our excursions in the woods and upon the water. I 
felt a strong affection for him, and preferred him to any 
of my own countrymen there ; and I believe there was 
nothing which he would not have done for me. When 
I came into the oven he looked at me, held out his hand, 
and said, in a low voice, but with a delightful smile, 
"Aloha, Aikane! Aloha nui! " I comforted him as well 



310 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

as I could, and promised to ask the captain to help him 
from the medicine-chest, and told him I had no doubt 
the captain would do what he could for him, as he had 
worked in our employ for several years, both on shore 
and aboard our vessels on the coast. I went aboard and 
turned into my hammock, but I could not sleep. 

Thinking, from my education, that I must have some 
knowledge of medicine, the Kanakas had insisted upon 
my examining him carefully; and it was not a sight to 
be forgotten. One of our crew, an old man-of-war's- 
man of twenty years' standing, who had seen sin and 
suffering in every shape, and whom I afterwards took to 
see Hope, said it was dreadfully worse than anything he 
had ever seen, or even dreamed of. He was horror- 
struck, as his countenance showed ; yet he had been 
among the worst cases in our naval hospitals. I could 
not get the thought of the poor fellow out of my head 
all night, his dreadful suffering, and his apparently 
inevitable horrible end. 

The next day I told Captain Thompson of Hope's state, 
and asked him if he would be so kind as to go and see him. 

" What? a d d Kanaka? " 

" Yes, sir," said I ; " but he has worked four years 
for our vessels, and has been in the employ of our own- 
ers, both on shore and aboard." 

" Oh ! he be d d ! " said the captain, and walked off. 

This man died afterwards of a fever on the deadly 
coast of Sumatra; and God grant he had better care 
taken of him in his sufferings than he ever gave to any 
one else. 

Finding nothing was to be got from the captain, I 
consulted an old shipmate, who had much experience in 
these matters, and got a recipe from him, which he 
kept by him. With this I went to the mate, and told 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 311 

him the case. Mr. Brown had been intrusted with the 
general care of the medicine-chest, and although a driv- 
ing fellow, and a taut hand in a watch, he had good feel- 
ings, and was inclined to be kind to the sick. He said 
that Hope was not strictly one of the crew, but, as he 
was in our employ when taken sick, he should have the 
medicines; and he got them and gave them to me, with 
leave to go ashore at night. Nothing could exceed the 
delight of the Kanakas, when I came, bringing the med- 
icines. All their terms of affection and gratitude wert 
spent upon me, and in a sense wasted (for I could not 
understand half of them), yet they made all known by 
their manner. Poor Hope was so much revived at the 
bare thought of anything being done for him that he 
seemed already stronger and better. I knew he must 
die as he was, and he could but die under the medicines, 
and any chance was worth running. An oven exposed 
to every wind and change of weather is 'no place to take 
calomel ; but nothing else would do, and strong reme- 
dies must be used, or he was gone. The applications, 
internal and external, were powerful, and I gave him 
strict directions to keep warm and sheltered, telling him 
it was his only chance for life. Twice after this, I 
visited him, having only time to run up, while waiting 
in the boat. He promised to take his medicines regu- 
larly while we were up the coast, until we returned, and 
insisted upon it that he was doing better. 

We got under way on the loth, bound up to San 
Pedro, and had three days of calm and head winds, 
making but little progress. On the fourth, we took a 
stiff southeaster, which obliged us to reef our topsails. 
While on the yard, we saw a sail on the weather bow, 
and in about half an hour passed the Ayacucho, undeP 
double-reefed topsails, beating down to San Diego. Ar- 



312 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

rived at San Pedro on the fourth day, and came-to in 
the old place, a league from shore, with no other vessel 
in port, and the prospect of three weeks or more of 
dull life, rolling goods up a slippery hill, carrying hides 
on our heads over sharp stones, and, perhaps, slipping 
for a southeaster. 

There was but one man in the only house here, and 
him I shall always remember as a good specimen of a 
California ranger. He had been a tailor in Philadelphia, 
and, getting intemperate and in debt, joined a trapping 
party, and went to the Columbia River, and thence down to 
Monterey, where he spent everything, left his party, and 
came to the Pueblo de los Angeles to work at his trade. 
Here he went dead to leeward among the pulperias, gam- 
bling-rooms, &c., and came down to San Pedro to be 
moral by being out of temptation. He had been in the 
house several weeks, working hard at his trade, upon 
orders which he had brought with him, and talked much 
of his resolution, and opened his heart to us about his 
past life. After we had been here some time, he started 
off one morning, in fine spirits, well dressed, to carry 
the clothes which he had been making to the pueblo, 
and saying that he would bring back his money and 
some fresh orders the next day. The next day came, 
and a week passed, and nearly a fortnight, when one 
day, going ashore, we saw a tall man, who looked like 
our friend the tailor, getting out of the back of an 
Indian's cart, which had just come down from the 
pueblo. He stood for the house, but we bore up after 
him ; when, finding that we were overhauling him, he 
hove-to and spoke us. Such a sight! Barefooted, with 
an old pair of trousers tied round his waist by a piece 
of green hide, a soiled cotton shirt, and a torn Indian 
hat ; " cleaned out " to the last real, and completely 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 313 

" used up." He confessed the whole matter ; acknowl- 
edged that he was on his back ; and now he had a pros- 
pect of a fit of the horrors for a week, and of being 
worse than useless for months. This is a specimen of 
the life of half of the Americans and English who are 
adrift along the coasts of the Pacific and its islands, - 
commonly called " beach-combers." One of the same 
stamp was Russell, who was master of the hide-house at 
San Diego while I was there, but had been afterwards 
dismissed for his misconduct. He spent his own money, 
and nearly all the stores among the half-bloods upon the 
beach, and went up to the presidio, where he lived the 
life of a desperate ' loafer," until some rascally deed 
sent him off " between two days," with men on horse- 
back, dogs, and Indians in full cry after him, among the 
hills. One night he burst into our room at the hide- 
house, breathless, pale as a ghost, covered with mud, 
and torn by thorns and briers, nearly naked, and begged 
for a crust of bread, saying he had neither eaten nor 
slept for three days. Here was the great Mr. Russell, 
who a month before was " Don Tomas," " Capitan 
de la playa," " Maestro de la casa," &c., &c., begging 
food and shelter of Kanakas and sailors. He stayed with 
us till he had given himself up, and was dragged off to 
the calabozo. 

Another, and a more amusing, specimen was one whom 
we saw at San Francisco. He had been a lad on board 
the ship California, in one of her first voyages, and 
ran away and commenced Ranchero, gambling, stealing 
horses, &c. He worked along up to San Francisco, and 
was living on a rancho near there while we were in port. 
One morning, when we went ashore in the boat, we 
found him at the landing-place, dressed in California 
style, a wide hat, faded velveteen trousers, and a blan- 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

ket thrown over his shoulders, and wishing to go off 
in the boat, saying he was going to pasear with our 
captain a little. We had many doubts of the reception 
he would meet with; but he seemed to think himself 
company for any one. We took him aboard, landed 
him at the gangway, and went about our work, keeping 
an eye upon the quarter-deck, where the captain was 
walking. The lad went up to him with complete as- 
surance, and, raising his hat, wished him a good after- 
noon. Captain Thompson turned round, looked at him 
from head to foot, and, saying coolly, " Hallo ! who the 
hell are you ? " kept on his walk. This was a rebuff not to 
be mistaken, and the joke passed about among the crew 
by winks and signs at different parts of the ship. Finding 
himself disappointed at head-quarters, he edged along 
forward to the mate, who was overseeing some work 
upon the forecastle, and tried to begin a yarn ; but it 
would not do. The mate had seen the reception he had 
met with aft, and would have no cast-off company. The 
second mate was aloft, and the third mate and myself 
were painting the quarter-boat, which hung by the 
davits, so he betook himself to us ; but we looked at 
each other, and the officer was too busy to say a word. 
From us, he went to one and another of the crew, but 
the joke had got before him, and he found everybody 
busy and silent. Looking over the rail a few moments 
afterward, we saw him at the galley-door talking with 
the cook. This was indeed a come-down, from the high- 
est seat in the synagogue to a seat in the galley with the 
black cook. At night, too, when supper was called, he 
stood in the waist for some time, hoping to be asked 
down with the officers, but they went below, one after 
another, and left him. His next chance was with the 
carpenter and sailmaker, and he lounged round the after 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 315 

hatchway until the last had gone down. We had now 
had fun enough out of him, and, taking pity on him, of- 
fered him a pot of tea, and a cut at the kid, with the 
rest, in the forecastle. He was hungry, and it was 
growing dark, and he began to see that there was no 
use in playing the caballero any longer, and came down 
into the forecastle, put into the " grub " in sailor's style, 
threw off all his airs, and enjoyed the joke as much as 
any one ; for a man must take a joke among sailors. He 
gave us an account of his adventures in the country, 
roguery and all, and was very entertaining. He was 
a smart, unprincipled fellow, was in many of the rascally 
doings of the country, and gave us a great deal of interest- 
ing information as to the ways of the world we were in. 

Saturday, February ijth. Were called up at mid- 
night to slip for a violent northeaster; for this miserable 
hole of San Pedro is thought unsafe in almost every 
wind. We went off with a flowing sheet, and hove-to 
under the lee of Catalina Island, where we lay three 
days, and then returned to our anchorage. 

Tuesday, February 2$d. This afternoon a signal was 
made from the shore, and we went off in the gig, 
and found the agent's clerk, who had been up to the 
pueblo, waiting at the landing-place, with a package 
under his arm, covered with brown paper and tied care- 
fully with twine. No sooner had we shoved off than he 
told us there was good news from Santa Barbara. 
" What 's that? " said one of the crew; " has the bloody 
agent slipped off the hooks? Has the old bundle of 
bones got him at last ? " - " No ; better than that. The 
California has arrived." Letters, papers, news, and, 
perhaps, - - friends, on board ! Our hearts were all up 
in our mouths, and we pulled away like good fellows, 
for the precious packet could not be opened except by 



3i6 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

the captain. As we pulled under the stern, the clerk- 
held up the package, and called out to the mate, who 
was leaning over the taffrail; that the California had 
arrived. 

" Hurrah ! " said the mate, so as to be heard fore and 
aft ; " California come, and news from Boston 1 " 

Instantly there was a confusion on board which no 
one would understand who had not been in the same 
situation. All discipline seemed for a moment relaxed. 

" What 's that, Mr. Brown ? " said the cook, putting 
his head out of the galley ; " California come ? " 

" Aye, aye ! you angel of darkness, and there 's a 
letter for you from Bullknop 'treet, number two-two-five, 
green door and brass knocker ! " 

The packet was sent down into the cabin, and every 
one waited to hear of the result. As nothing came up, the 
officers began to feel that they were acting rather a child's 
part, and turned the crew to again; and the same strict 
discipline was restored, which prohibits speech between 
man and man while at work on deck; so that, when the 
steward came forward with letters for the crew, each 
man took his letters, carried them below to his chest, 
and came up again immediately, and not a letter was 
read until we had cleared up decks for the night. 

An overstrained sense of manliness is the character- 
istic of sea-faring men. This often gives an appearance 
of want of feeling, and even of cruelty. From this, if a 
man comes within an ace of breaking his neck and es- 
capes, it is made a joke of ; and no notice must be taken 
of a bruise or a cut ; and any expression of pity, or any 
show of attention, would look sisterly, and unbecoming a 
man who has to face the rough and tumble of such a life. 
From this cause, too, the sick are neglected at sea, and, 
whatever sailors may be ashore, a sick man finds little 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 317 

sympathy or attention, forward or aft. A man, too, can 
have nothing peculiar or sacred on board ship ; for all 
the nicer feelings they take pride in disregarding, both 
in themselves and others. A thin-skinned man could 
hardly live on shipboard. One would be torn raw un- 
less he had the hide of an ox. A moment of natural 
feeling for home and friends, and then the frigid routine 
of sea life returned. Jokes were made upon those who 
showed any interest in the expected news, and every- 
thing near and dear was made common stock for rude 
jokes and unfeeling coarseness, to which no exception 
could be taken by any one. 

Supper, too, must be eaten before the letters were 
read; and when, at last, they were brought out, they 
all got round any one who had a letter, and expected to 
hear it read aloud, and have it all in common. If any 
one went by himself to read, it was - " Fair play, there, 
and no skulking ! " I took mine and went into the sail- 
maker's berth where I could read it without interrup- 
tion. It was dated August, just a year from the time I 
had sailed from home, and every one was well, and no 
great change had taken place. Thus, for one year, my 
mind was set at ease, yet it was already six months 
from the date of the letter, and what another year would 
bring to pass who could tell? Every one away from 
home thinks that some great thing must have happened, 
while to those at home there seems to be a continued 
monotony and lack of incident. 

As much as my feelings were taken up by my own 
news from home, I could not but be amused by a scene 
in the steerage. The carpenter had been married just 
before leaving Boston, and during the voyage had talked 
much about his wife, and had to bear and forbear, as 
every man, known to be married, must, aboard ship; 



3i8 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

yet the certainty of hearing from his wife by the first 
ship seemed to keep up his spirits. The California 
came, the packet was brought on board, no one was in 
higher spirits than he; but when the letters came for- 
, ward, there was none for him. The captain looked 
again, but there was no mistake. Poor " Chips " could 
eat.no supper. He was completely down in the mouth. 
" Sails " (the sailmaker) tried to comfort him, and told 
him he was a bloody fool to give up his grub for any 
woman's daughter, and reminded him that he had told 
him a dozen times that he 'd never see or hear from his 
wife again. 

" Ah ! " said Chips, " you don't know what it is to 
have a wife, and " 

' Don't I ? " said Sails ; and then came, for the hun- 
dredth time, the story of his coming ashore at New 
York, from the Constellation frigate, after a cruise of 
four years round the Horn, being paid off with over 
five hundred dollars, marrying, and taking a couple 
of rooms in a four-story house, furnishing the rooms 
(with a particular account of the furniture, including a 
dozen flag-bottomed chairs, which he always dilated upon 
whenever the subject of furniture was alluded to), go- 
ing off to sea again, leaving his wife half-pay like a 
fool, coming home and finding her " off, like Bob's 
horse, with nobody to pay the reckoning" ; furniture 
gone, flag-bottomed chairs and all, and with it his 
;< long togs," the half-pay, his beaver hat, and white 
linen shirts. His wife he never saw or heard of from 
that day to this, and never wished to. Then followed a 
sweeping assertion, not much to the credit of the sex, 
in which he has Pope to back him. " Come, Chips, 
cheer up like a man, and take some hot grub! Don't 
be made a fool of by anything in petticoats! As for 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 319 

your wife, you '11 never see her again ; she was ' up 
keeleg and off ' before you were outside of Cape Cod. 
You 've hove your money away like a fool ; but every 
man must learn once, just as I did ; so you 'd better 
square the yards with her, and make the best of it." 

This was the best consolation " Sails " had to offer, 
but it did not seem to be just the thing the carpenter 
wanted; for, during several days, he was very much de- 
jected, and bore with difficulty the jokes of the sailors, 
and with still more difficulty their attempts at advice 
and consolation, of most of which the sailmaker's was a 
good specimen. 

Thursday, February 2$th. Set sail for Santa Barbara, 
where we arrived on Sunday, the 28th. We just missed 
seeing the California, for she had sailed three days be- 
fore, bound to Monterey, to enter her cargo and procure 
her license, and thence to San Francisco, &c. Captain 
Arthur left files of Boston papers for Captain Thompson, 
which, after they had been read and talked over in the 
cabin, I procured from my friend the third mate. One 
file was of all the Boston Transcripts for the month of 
August, 1835, an d the rest were about a dozen Daily 
Advertisers and Couriers of different dates. After all, 
there is nothing in a strange land like a newspaper from 
home. Even a letter, in many respects, is nothing in 
comparison with it. It carries you back to the spot 
better than anything else. It is almost equal to clair- 
voyance. The names of the streets, with the things 
advertised, are almost as good as seeing the signs ; and 
while reading " Boy lost ! " one can almost hear the bell 
and well-known voice of " Old Wilson," crying the boy 
as "strayed, stolen, or mislaid!" Then there was the 
Commencement at Cambridge, and the full account of 
the exercises at the graduating of my own class. A list 



320 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

of all those familiar names (beginning as usual with 
Abbot, and ending with W), which, as I read them over, 
one by one, brought up their faces and characters as I 
had known them in the various scenes of college life. 
Then I imagined them upon the stage, speaking their 
orations, dissertations, colloquies, &c., with the familiar 
gestures and tones of each, and tried to fancy the man- 
ner in which each would handle his subject. , 

handsome, showy, and superficial ; , with his strong 

head, clear brain, cool self-possession ; , modest, 

sensitive, and underrated ; , the mouth-piece of the 

debating clubs, noisy, vaporous, and democratic ; and, 
so, following. Then I could see them receiving their 
A. B/s from the dignified, feudal-looking President, with 
his " auctoritate mihi commissa," and walking off the 
stage with their diplomas in their hands ; while upon 
the same day their classmate was walking up and down 
California beach with a hide upon his head. 

Every watch below, for a week, I pored over these 
papers, until I was sure there could be nothing in them 
that had escaped my attention, and was ashamed to 
keep them any longer. 

Saturday, March ^th. This was an important day in 
our almanac, for it was on this day that we were first 
assured that our voyage was really drawing to a close. 
The captain gave orders to have the ship ready for get- 
ting under way ; and observed that there was a good 
breeze to take us down to San Pedro. Then we were 
not going up to windward. Thus much was certain, and 
was soon known fore and aft ; and when we went in the 
gig to take him off, he shook hands with the people on 
the beach, and said that he did not expect to see Santa 
Barbara again. This settled the matter, and sent a 
thrill of pleasure through the heart of every one in the 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 321 

boat. We pulled off with a will, saying to ourselves (I 
can speak for myself at least), " Good by, Santa Bar- 
bara! This is the last pull here! No more duck- 
ings in your breakers, and slipping from your cursed 
southeasters ! " The news was soon known aboard, and 
put life into everything when we were getting under 
way. Each one was taking his last look at the Mission, 
the town, the breakers on the beach, and swearing that 
no money would make him ship to see them again ; and 
when all hands tallied on to the cat-fall, the chorus of 
' Time for us to go ! " was raised for the first time, and 
joined in, with full swing, by everybody. One would 
have thought we were on our voyage home, so near did 
it seem to us, though there were yet three months for us 
on the coast. 

We left here the young Englishman, George Marsh, 
of whom I have before spoken, who was wrecked upon 
the Pelew Islands. He left us to take the berth of 
second mate on board the Ayacucho, which was lying in 
port. He was well qualified for this post, and his edu- 
cation would enable him to rise to any situation on 
board ship. I felt really sorry to part from him. There 
was something about him which excited my curiosity ; 
for I could not, for a moment, doubt that he was well 
born, and, in early life, well bred. There was the latent 
gentleman about him, and the sense of honor, and no 
little of the pride, of a young man of good family. 
The situation was offered him only a few hours before 
we sailed ; and though he must give up returning to 
America, yet I have no doubt that the change from a 
dog's berth to an officer's was too agreeable to his feel- 
ings to be declined. We pulled him on board the Aya- 
cucho, and when he left the boat he gave each of its 
crew a piece of money except myself, and shook hands 



322 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

with me, nodding his head, as much as to say " We 
understand each other," and sprang on board. Had I 
known, an hour sooner, that he was to leave us, I would 
have made an effort to get from him the true history of 
his birth and early life. He knew that I had no faith 
in the story which he told the crew about them, and 
perhaps, in the moment of parting from me, probably 
forever, he would have given me the true account. 
Whether I shall ever meet him again, or whether his 
manuscript narrative of his adventures in the Pelew 
Islands, which would be creditable to him and interest- 
ing to the world, will ever see the light, I cannot tell. 
His is one of those cases which are more numerous than 
those suppose who have never lived anywhere but in 
their own homes, and never walked but in one line from 
their cradles to their graves. We must come down 
from our heights, and leave our straight paths for the 
by-ways and low places of life, if we would learn truths 
by strong contrasts ; and in hovels, in forecastles, and 
among our own outcasts in foreign lands, see what has 
been wrought among our fellow-creatures by accident, 
hardship, or vice. 

Two days brought us to San Pedro, and two days 
more (to our no small joy) gave us our last view of that 
place, which was universally called the hell of Califor- 
nia, and seemed designed in every way for the wear and 
tear of sailors. Not even the last view could bring out 
one feeling of regret. No thanks, thought I, as we left 
the hated shores in the distance, for the hours I have 
walked over your stones barefooted, with hides on my 
head, for the burdens I have carried up your steep^ 
muddy hill, for the duckings in your surf ; and fol 
the long days and longer nights passed on your desolatf 
hill, watching piles of hides, hearing the sharp bark of 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 323 

your eternal coyotes, and the dismal hooting of your 
owls. 

As I bade good by to each successive place, I felt as 
though one link after another were struck from the 
chain of my servitude. Having kept close in shore for 
the land-breeze, we passed the Mission of San Juan 
Capistrano the same night, and saw distinctly, by the 
bright moonlight, the cliff which I had gone down by a 
pair of halyards in search of a few paltry hides. 

" Forsan et base olim," 

thought I, and took my last look of that place too. 
And on the next morning we were under the high point 
of San Diego. The flood tide took us swiftly in, and 
we came-to opposite our hide-house, and prepared to 
get everything in trim for a long stay. This was our 
last port. Here we were to discharge everything from 
the ship, clean her out, smoke her, take in our hides, 
wood, and water, and set sail for Boston. While all 
this was doing, we were to lie still in one place, the port 
a safe one, and no fear of southeasters. Accordingly, 
having picked out a good berth in the stream, with a 
smooth beach opposite for a landing-place, and within 
two cables' length of our hide-house, we moored ship, 
unbent the sails, sent down the top-gallant-yards and 
the studding-sail booms, and housed the top-gallant- 
masts. The boats were then hove out and all the sails, 
the spare spars, the stores, the rigging not rove, and, in 
fact, everything which was not in daily use, sent ashore, 
and stowed away in the house. Then went our hides 
and horns, and we left hardly anything in the ship but 
her ballast, and this we made preparations to heave out 
the next day. At night, after we had knocked off, and 
were sitting round in the forecastle, smoking and talk- 



324 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

ing, and taking sailor's pleasure, we congratulated our- 
selves upon being in that situation in which we had 
wished ourselves every time we had come into San 
Diego. " If we were only here for the last time," we 
had often said, " with our top-gallant-masts housed and 
our sails unbent ! " and now we had our wish. 
Six weeks, or two months, of the hardest work we had 
yet seen, but not the most disagreeable or trying, was 
before us, and then " Good by to California ! " 




CHAPTER 
XXIX 



WE turned-in early, knowing that we might 
expect an early call; and sure enough, be- 
fore the stars had quite faded, "All hands 
ahoy ! " and we were turned-to, heaving out ballast. A 
regulation of the port forbids any ballast to be thrown 
overboard; accordingly, our long-boat was lined inside 
with rough boards and brought alongside the gangway, 
but where one tubful went into the boat twenty went over- 
board. This is done by every vessel, as it saves more than 
a week of labor, which would be spent in loading the boats, 
rowing them to the point, and unloading them. When any 
people from the presidio were on board, the boat was 
hauled up and the ballast thrown in ; but when the coast 
was clear, she was dropped astern again, and the ballast 
fell overboard. This is one of those petty frauds which 
many vessels practise in ports of inferior foreign nations, 
and which are lost sight of among the deeds of greater 
weight which are hardly less common. Fortunately, a 
sailor, not being a free agent in work aboard ship, is not 
accountable ; yet the fact of being constantly employed, 
without thought, in such things, begets an indifference 
to the rights of others. 

Friday, and a part of Saturday, we were engaged in 



326 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

this work, until we had thrown out all but what we 
wanted under our cargo on the passage home; when, as 
the next day was Sunday, and a good day for smoking 
ship, we cleared everything out of the cabin and fore- 
castle, made a slow fire of charcoal, birch bark, brim- 
stone, and other matters, on the ballast in the bottom 
of the hold, calked up the hatches and every open 
seam, and pasted over the cracks of the windows, and 
the slides of the scuttles and companion-way. Wherever 
smoke was seen coming out, we calked and pasted and, 
so far as we could, made the ship smoke tight. The cap- 
tain and officers slept under the awning which was spread 
over the quarter-deck ; and we stowed ourselves away 
under an old studding-sail, which we drew over one side 
of the forecastle. The next day, from fear that some- 
thing might happen in the way of fire, orders were given 
for no one to leave the ship, and, as the decks were lum- 
bered up, we could not wash them down, so we had noth- 
ing to do all day long. Unfortunately, our books were 
where we could not get at them, and we were turning 
about for something to do, when one man recollected a 
book he had left in the galley. He went after it, and it 
proved to be Woodstock. This was a great windfall, and 
as all could not read it at once, I, being the scholar of 
the company, was appointed reader. I got a knot of six 
or eight about me, and no one could have had a more 
attentive audience. Some laughed at the " scholars," 
and went over the other side of 'the forecastle to work 
and spin their yarns; but I carried the day, and had the 
cream of the crew for my hearers. Many of the reflec- 
tions, and the political parts, I omitted, but all the nar- 
rative they were delighted with ; especially the descrip- 
tions of the Puritans, and the sermons and harangues of 
the Round-head soldiers. The gallantry of Charles, Dr. 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 327 

Radcliffe's plots, the knavery of " trusty Tompkins," 
in fact, every part seemed to chain their attention. 
Many things which, while I was reading, I had a mis- 
giving about, thinking them above their tastes, I was 
surprised to find them enter into completely. 

I read nearly all day, until sundown ; when, as soon 
as supper was over, as I had nearly finished, they got a 
light from the galley; and, by skipping what 'was less 
interesting, I carried them through to the marriage of 
Everard, and the restoration of Charles the Second, be- 
fore eight o'clock. 

The next morning, we took the battens from the 
hatches, and opened the ship. A few stifled rats were 
found ; and what bugs, cockroaches, fleas, and other 
vermin there might have been on board must have un- 
rove their life-lines before the hatches were opened. 
The ship being now ready, we covered the bottom of the 
hold over, fore and aft, with dried brush for dunnage, 
and, having levelled everything away, we were ready to 
take in our cargo. All the hides that had been collected 
since the California left the coast (a little more than 
two years), amounting to about forty thousand, had 
been cured, dried, and stowed away in the house, wait- 
ing for our good ship to take them to Boston. 

Now began the operation of taking in our cargo, which 
kept us hard at work, from the gray of the morning till 
starlight, for six weeks, with the exception of Sundays, 
and of just time to swallow our meals. To carry the 
work on quicker, a division of labor was made. Two 
men threw the hides down from the piles in the house, 
two more picked them up and put them on a long hori- 
zontal pole, raised a few feet from the ground, where 
they were beaten by two more with flails, somewhat 
like those used in threshing wheat. When beaten, they 



328 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

were taken from this pole by two more, and placed upon 
a platform of boards ; and ten or a dozen men, with their 
trousers rolled up, and hides upon their heads, were con- 
stantly going back and forth from the platform to the 
boat, which was kept off where she would just float. 
The throwing the hides upon the pole was the most 
difficult work, and required a sleight of hand which was 
only to be got by long practice. As I was known for a 
hide-curer, this post was assigned to me, and I continued 
at it for six or eight days, tossing, in that time, from 
eight to ten thousand hides, until my wrists became so 
lame that I gave in, and was transferred to the gang 
that was employed in filling the boats, where I remained 
for the rest of the time. As we were obliged to carry 
the hides on our heads from fear of their getting wet, 
we each had a piece of sheepskin sewed into the inside 
of our hats, with the wool next our heads, and thus were 
able to bear the weight, day after day, which might 
otherwise have \vorn off our hair, and borne hard upon 
our skulls. Upon the whole ours was the best berth, 
for though the water was nipping cold, early in the 
morning and late at night, and being so continually wet 
was rather an exposure, yet we got rid of the constant 
dust and dirt from the beating of the hides, and, being 
all of us young and hearty, did not mind the exposure. 
The older men of the crew, whom it would have been 
i imprudent to keep in the water, remained on board with 
the mate, to stow the hides away, as fast as they were 
brought off by the boats. 

We continued at work in this manner until the lower 
hold was filled to within four feet of the beams, when all 
hands were called aboard to begin steeving. As this is a 
peculiar operation, it will require a minute description. 

Before stowing the hides, as I have said, the ballast is 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 329 

levelled off, just above the keelson, and then loose dun- 
nage is placed upon it, on which the hides rest. The 
greatest care is used in stowing, to make the ship hold 
as many hides as possible. It is no mean art, and a 
man skilled in it is an important character in California. 
Many a dispute have I heard raging high between pro- 
fessed " beach-combers," as to whether the hides should 
be stowed " shingling," or " back-to-back and flipper^ 
to-flipper " ; upon which point there was an entire and 
bitter division of sentiment among the savans. We 
adopted each method at different periods of the stowing, 
and parties ran high in the forecastle, some siding with 
" old Bill " in favor of the former, and others scouting 
liim and relying upon " English Bob " of the Ayacucho, 
who had been eight years in California, and was willing 
to risk his life and limb for the latter method. At 
length a compromise was effected, and a middle course 
of shifting the ends land backs at every lay was adopted, 
which worked well, and which each party granted was 
better than that of the other, though inferior to its 
own. 

Having filled the ship up, in this way, to within four 
feet of her beams, the process of steeving began, by 
which a hundred hides are got into a place where 
scarce one could be forced by hand, and which presses 
the hides to the utmost, sometimes starting the beams 
of the ship, --resembling in its effects the jack-screws 
which are used in stowing cotton. Each morning we 
went ashore, and beat and brought off as many hides as 
we could steeve in a day, and, after breakfast, went down 
into the hold, where we remained at work until night, 
except a short spell for dinner. The length of the hold, 
from stem to stern, was floored off level; and we began 
with raising a pile in the after part, hard against the bulk- 



330 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

head of the run, and filling it up to the beams, crowding 
in as many as we could by hand and pushing in with 
oars, when a large " book " was made of from twenty-five 
to fifty hides, doubled at the backs, and placed one with- 
in another, so as to leave but one outside hide for the 
book. An opening was then made between two hides in 
the pile, and the back of the outside hide of the book in- 
serted. Above and below this book were placed smooth 
strips of wood, well greased, called " ways," to facilitate 
the sliding in of the book. Two long, heavy spars, called 
steeves, made of the strongest wood, and sharpened off 
like a wedge at one end, were placed with their wedge 
ends into the inside of the hide which was the centre of 
the book, and to the other end of each straps were 
fitted, into which large tackles l were hooked, composed 
each of two huge purchase blocks, one hooked to the 
strap on the end of the steeve, and the other into a dog, 
fastened into one of the beams, as far aft as it could be 
got. When this was arranged, and the ways greased 
upon which the book was to slide, the falls of the tackles 
were stretched forward, and all hands tallied on, and 
bowsed away upon them until the book was well en- 
tered, when these tackles were nippered, straps and 
toggles clapped upon the falls, and two more luff tackles 
hooked on, with dogs, in the same manner; and thus, 
by luff upon luff, the power was multiplied, until into a 
pile in which one hide more could not be crowded by 
hand a hundred or a hundred and fifty were often 
driven by this complication of purchases. When the 
last luff was hooked on, all hands were called to the 
rope, cook, steward, and all, and ranging ourselves 
at the falls, one behind the other, sitting down on the 

1 This word, when used to signify a pulley or purchase formed by 
blocks and a rope, is always by seamen pronounced ta-kl. 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 331 

hides, with our heads just even with the beams, we set 
taut upon the tackles, and striking up a song, and all 
lying back at the chorus, we bowsed the tackles home, 
and drove the large books chock in out of sight. 

The sailors' songs for capstans and falls are of a 
peculiar kind, having a chorus at the end of each line. 
The burden is usually sung by one alone, and, at the 
chorus, all hands join in, and, the loader the noise, the 
better. With us, the chorus seemed almost to raise the 
decks of the ship, and might be heard at a great dis- 
tance ashore. A song is as necessary to sailors as the 
drum and fife to a soldier. They must pull together as 
soldiers must step in time, and they can't pull in time, 
or pull with a will, without it. Many a time, when a 
thing goes heavy, with one fellow yo-ho-ing, a lively 
song, like " Heave, to the girls ! " " Nancy O ! " 
" Jack Crosstree," " Cheerly, men," &c., has put life 
and strength into every arm. We found a great differ- 
ence in the effect of the various songs in driving in the 
hides. Two or three songs would be tried, one after the 
other, with no effect, not an inch could be got upon 
the tackles ; when a new song, struck up, seemed to 
hit the humor of the moment, and drove the tackles 
"two blocks" at once. "Heave round hearty!" "Cap- 
tain gone ashore ! " " Dandy ship and a dandy crew," 
and the like, might do for common pulls, but on an 
emergency, when we wanted a heavy, " raise-the-dead ( 
pull," which should start the beams of the ship, there 
was nothing like " Time for us to go ! " " Round the 
corner," " Tally high ho ! you know," or " Hurrah ! 
hurrah ! my hearty bullies ! " 

This was the most lively part of our work. A little 
boating and beach work in the morning; then twenty or 
thirty men down in a close hold, where we were obliged 



332 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

to sit down and slide about, passing hides, and rowsing 
about the great steeves, tackles, and dogs, singing out 
at the falls, and seeing the ship filling up every day. 
The work was as hard as it could well be. There was 
not a moment's cessation from Monday morning till 
Saturday night, when we were generally beaten out, and 
glad to have a full night's rest, a wash and shift of 
clothes, and a quiet Sunday. During all this time 
which would have startled Dr. Graham we lived upon 
almost nothing but fresh beef; fried beefsteaks, three 
times a day, morning, noon, and night. At morning 
and night we had a quart of tea to each man, and an 
allowance of about a pound of hard bread a day; but 
our chief article of food was beef. A mess, consisting of 
six men, had a large wooden kid piled up with beefsteaks, 
cut thick, and fried in fat, with the grease poured over 
them. Round this we sat, attacking it with our jack- 
knives and teeth, and with the appetite of young lions, 
and sent back an empty kid to the galley. This was 
done three times a day. How many pounds each man 
ate in a day I will not attempt to compute. A whole 
bullock (we ate liver and all) lasted us but four days. 
Such devouring of flesh, I will venture to say, is not 
often seen. What one man ate in a day, over a hearty 
man's allowance, would make an English peasant's heart 
leap into his mouth. Indeed, during all the time we 
were upon the coast, our principal food was fresh beef, and 
every man had perfect health ; but this was a time of espe- 
cial devouring, and what we should have done without 
meat I cannot tell. Once or twice, when our bullocks 
failed, and we were obliged to make a meal upon dry bread 
and water, it seemed like feeding upon shavings. Light 
and dry, feeling unsatisfied, and, at the same time, full, 
we were glad to see four quarters of a bullock, just 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 333 

killed, swinging from the fore-top. Whatever theories 
may be started by sedentary men, certainly no men 
could have gone through more hard work and exposure 
for sixteen months in more perfect health, and without 
ailings and failings, than our ship's crew, let them have 
lived upon Hygeia's own baking and dressing. 

Friday, April itfh. Arrived, brig Pilgrim, from the 
windward. It was a sad sight for her crew to see us 
getting ready to go off the coast, while they, who had 
been longer on the coast than the Alert, were condemned 
to another year's hard service. I spent an evening on 
board, and found them making the best of the matter, 
and determined to rough it out as they might. But 
Stimson, after considerable negotiating and working, had 
succeeded in persuading my English friend, Tom Harris, 
my companion in the anchor watch, for thirty dol- 
lars, some clothes, and an intimation from Captain 
Faucon that he should want a second mate before the 
voyage was over, to take his place in the brig as soon as 
she was ready to go up to windward. 

The first opportunity I could get to speak to Captain 
Faucon, I asked him to step up to the oven and look at 
Hope, whom he knew well, having had him on board 
his vessel. He went to see him at once, and said that 
he was doing pretty well, but there was so little medicine 
on board the brig, and she would be so long on the coast, 
that he could spare none for him, but that Captain 
Arthur would take care of him when he came down in 
the California, which would be in a week or more. I 
had been to see Hope the first night after we got into 
San Diego this last time, and had frequently since spent 
the early part of a night in the oven. I hardly ex- 
pected, when I left him to go to windward, to find him 
alive upon my return. He was certainly as low as he 



334 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

could well be when I left him, and what would be the 
effect of the medicines that I gave him I hardly then 
dared to conjecture. Yet I knew that he must die 
without them. I was not a little rejoiced, therefore, and 
relieved, upon our return, to see him decidedly better. 
The medicines were strong, and took hold and gave a 
check to the disorder which was destroying him ; and, 
more than that, they had begun the work of extermi- 
nating it. I shall never forget the gratitude that he ex- 
pressed. All the Kanakas attributed his escape solely 
to my knowledge, and would not be persuaded that I 
had not all the secrets of the physical system open 
to me and under my control. My medicines, however, 
were gone, and no more could be got from the ship, 
so that his life was left to hang upon the arrival of the 
California. 

Sunday, April 24th. We had now been nearly seven 
weeks in San Diego, and had taken in the greater part 
of our cargo, and were looking out every day for the 
arrival of the California, which had our agent on board ; 
when, this afternoon, some Kanakas, who had been 
over the hill for rabbits and to fight rattlesnakes, came 
running down the path, singing out ''Kail ho!" with 
all their might. Mr. Hatch, our third mate, was ashore, 
and, asking them particularly about the size of the sail, 
&c., and learning that it was " Moku Nui Moku," 
hailed our ship, and said that the California was on 
the other side of the point. Instantly all hands were 
turned up, the bow guns run out and loaded, the en- 
sign and broad pennant set, the yards squared by lifts 
and braces, and everything got ready to make a fair ap- 
pearance. The instant she showed her nose round the 
point we began our salute. She came in under top- 
gallant-sails, clewed up and furled her sails in good 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 335 

order, and came-to within swinging- distance of us. It 
being Sunday, and nothing to do, all hands were on the 
forecastle, criticising the new comer. She was a good, 
substantial ship, not quite so long as the Alert, wall- 
sided and kettle-bottomed, after the latest fashion of 
south-shore cotton and sugar wagons ; strong, too, and 
tight, and a good average sailer, but with no preten- 
sions to beauty, and nothing in the style of a " crack 
ship." Upon the whole, we were perfectly satisfied that 
the Alert might hold up her head with a ship twice as 
smart as she. 

At night some of us got a boat and went on 
board, and found a large, roomy forecastle (for she was 
squarer forward than the Alert), and a crew of a dozen 
or fifteen men and boys sitting around on their chests, 
smoking and talking, and ready to give a welcome to 
any of our ship's company. It was just seven months 
since they left Boston, which seemed but yesterday to 
us. Accordingly, we had much to ask; for though we 
had seen the newspapers which she had brought, yet 
these were the very men who had been in Boston, and 
seen everything with their own eyes. One of the green 
hands was a Boston boy, from one of the public schools, 
and, of course, knew many things which we wished to 
ask about, and, on inquiring the names of our two Boston 
boys, found that they had been school-mates of his. 
Our men had hundreds of questions to ask about Ann 
Street, the boarding-houses, the ships in port, the rate 
of wages, and other matters. 

Among her crew were two English man-of-war's-men, 
so that, of course, we soon had music. They sang in 
the true sailor's style, and the rest of the crew, which 
was a remarkably musical one, joined in the choruses. 
They had many of the latest sailor songs, which had no! 



336 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

yet got about among our merchantmen, and which they 
were very choice of. They began soon after we came 
on board, and kept it up until after two bells, when 
the second mate came forward and called " the Alerts 
away ! " Battle-songs, drinking-songs, boat-songs, love- 
songs, and everything else, they seemed to have a com- 
plete assortment of, and I was glad to find that " All in 
the Downs," "Poor Tom Bowline," "The Bay of Bis- 
cay," " List, ye Landsmen ! " and other classical songs of 
the sea, still held their places. In addition to these, 
they had picked up at the theatres and other places a 
few songs of a little more genteel cast, which they were 
very proud of ; and I shall never forget hearing an old 
salt, who had broken his voice by hard drinking on 
shore, and bellowing from the mast-head in a hundred 
northwesters, singing with all manner of ungoverna- 
ble trills and quavers, in the high notes breaking 
into a rough falsetto, and in the low ones growling 
along like the dying away of the boatswain's " All hands 
ahoy ! " down the hatchway " O no, we never mention 
him." 

" Perhaps, like me, he struggles with 
Each feeling of regret; 
But if he 's loved as I have loved, 
He never can forget! " 

* 

The last line he roared out at the top of his voice, 
breaking each word into half a dozen syllables. This 
was very popular, and Jack was called upon every night 
to give them his " sentimental song." No one called 
for it more loudly than I, for the complete absurdity of 
the execution, and the sailors' perfect satisfaction in it, 
were ludicrous beyond measure. 

The next day the California began unloading her 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 337 

cargo ; and her boats' crews, in coming and going, sang 
their boat-songs, keeping time with their oars. This 
they did all day long for several days, until their hides 
were all discharged, when a gang of them were sent on 
board the Alert to help us steeve our hides. This was 
a windfall for us, for they had a set of new songs for 
the capstan and fall, and ours had got nearly worn out 
by six weeks' constant use. I have no doubt that this 
timely re-enforcement of songs hastened our work sev- 
eral days. 

Our cargo was now nearly all taken in, and my old 
friend, the Pilgrim, having completed her discharge, un- 
moored, to set sail the next morning on another long 
trip to windward. I was just thinking of her hard lot, 
and congratulating myself upon my escape from her, 
when I received a summons into the cabin. I went aft, 
and there found, seated round the cabin table, my own 
captain, Captain Faucon of the Pilgrim, and Mr. Robin- 
son, the agent. Captain Thompson turned to me and 
asked abruptly, 

" Dana, do you want to go home in the ship ? " 

" Certainly, sir," said I ; " I expect to go home in the 
ship." 

" Then," said he, " you must get some one to go in 
your place on board the Pilgrim." 

I was so completely " taken aback " by this sudden 
intimation that for a moment I could make no reply. 
I thought it would be hopeless to attempt to pre- 
vail upon any of the ship's crew to take twelve months 
more upon California in the brig. I knew, too, that 
Captain Thompson had received orders to bring me 
home in the Alert, and he had told me, when I was at 
the hide-house, that I was to go home in her ; and even 
if this had not been so, it was cruel to give me no no- 



338 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

tice of the step they were going to take, until a few 
hours before the brig would sail. As soon as I had got 
my wits about me, I put on a bold front, and told him 
plainly that I had a letter in my chest informing me 
that he had been written to by the owners in Boston to 
bring me home in the ship; and, moreover, that he had 
told me that he had such instructions, and that I was to 
return in the ship. 

To have this told him, and to be opposed in such a 
manner, was more than my lord paramount had been 
used to. He turned fiercely upon me, and tried to look 
me down, and face me out of my statement; but find- 
ing that that would n't do, and that I was entering upon 
my defence in such a way as would show to the other 
two that he was in the wrong, he changed his ground, 
and pointed to the shipping-papers of the Pilgrim, from 
which my name had never been erased, and said that 
there was my name, that I belonged to her, that he 
had an absolute discretionary power, and, in short, 
that I must be on board the Pilgrim by the next morn- 
ing with my chest and hammock, or have some one 
ready to go in my place, and that he would not hear 
another word from me. No court of star chamber 
could proceed more summarily with a poor devil than 
this trio was about to do with me; condemning me to 
a punishment worse than a Botany Bay exile, and to a 
fate which might alter the whole current of my future 
life; for two years more in California might have made 
me a sailor for the rest of my days. I felt all this, and 
saw the necessity of being determined. I repeated what 
I had said, and insisted upon my right to return in the 
ship. 

" I raised my arm, and tauld my crack, 
Before them a'." 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 339 

But it would have all availed me nothing had I been 
" some poor body " before this absolute, domineering 
tribunal. But they saw that I would not go, unless 
" vi et armis," and they knew that I had friends and in- 
terest enough at home to make them suffer for any 
injustice they might do me. It was probably this that 
turned the scale; for the captain changed his tone en- 
tirely, and asked me if, in case any one went in my 
place, I would give him the same sum that Stimson gave 
Harris to exchange with him. I told them that if any 
one was sent on board the brig I should pity him, and 
be willing to help him to that, or almost any amount ; 
but would not speak of it as an exchange. 

' Very well," said he. " Go forward about your busi- 
ness, and send English Ben here to me ! " 

I went forward with a light heart, but feeling as much 
anger and contempt as I could well contain between my 
teeth. English Ben was sent aft, and in a few moments 
came forward, looking as though he had received his 
sentence to be hanged. The captain had told him to get 
his things ready to go on board the brig next morning: 
and that I would give him thirty dollars and a suit of 
clothes. The hands had " knocked off " for dinner, and 
were standing about the forecastle, when Ben came for- 
ward and told his story. I could see plainly that it 
made a great excitement, and that, unless I explained 
the matter to them, the feeling would be turned against 
me. Ben was a poor English boy, a stranger in Boston, 
and without friends or money ; and, being an active, will- 
ing lad, and a good sailor for his years, was a general 
favorite. " O yes ! '* said the crew ; " the captain has 
let you off because you are a gentleman's son, and taken 
Ben because he is poor, and has got nobody to say a 
word for him." I knew that this was too true to be 



340 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

answered, but I excused myself from any blame, and 
told them that I had a right to go home, at all events. 
This pacified them a little, but Jack had got a notion 
that a poor lad was to be imposed upon, and did not dis- 
tinguish very clearly ; and though I knew that I was in 
no fault, and, in fact, had barely escaped the grossest 
injustice, yet I felt that my berth was getting to be a 
disagreeable one. The notion that I was not " one of 
them," which, by a participation in all their labor and 
hardships, and having no favor shown me, and never 
asserting myself among them, had been laid asleep, was 
beginning to revive. But far stronger than any feeling 
for myself was the pity I felt for the poor lad. He had 
depended upon going home in the ship; and from Bos-- 
ton was going immediately to Liverpool, to see his 
friends. Besides this, having begun the voyage with 
very few clothes, he had taken up the greater part of 
his wages in the slop-chest, and it was every day a los- 
ing concern to him ; and, like all the rest of the crew, 
he had a hearty hatred of California, and the prospect 
of eighteen months or two years more of hide droghing 
seemed completely to break down his spirit. I had de- 
termined not to go myself, happen what would, and I 
knew that the captain would not dare to attempt to 
force me. I knew, too, that the two captains had agreed 
together to get some one, and that unless I could prevail 
upon somebody to go voluntarily, there would be no 
help for Ben. From this consideration, though I had 
said that I would have nothing to do with an exchange, 
I did my best to get some one to go voluntarily. I of- 
fered to give an order upon the owners in Boston for six 
months' wages, and also all the clothes, books, and other 
matters which I should not want upon the voyage home. 
When this offer was published in the ship, and the case 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 341 

of poor Ben set forth in strong colors, several, who 
would not dream of going themselves, were busy in talk- 
ing it up to others, who, they thought, might be tempted 
to accept it; and, at length, a Boston boy, a harum- 
scarum lad, a great favorite, Harry May, whom we called 
Harry Bluff, and who did not care what country or ship 
he was in, if he had clothes enough and money enough. 
- partly from pity for Ben, and partly from the thought 
he should have " cruising money " for the rest of his 
stay, came forward, and offered to go and " sling his 
hammock in the bloody hooker." Lest his purpose 
should cool, I signed an order for the sum upon the 
owners in Boston, gave him all the clothes I could spare, 
and sent him aft to the captain, to let him know what 
had been done. The skipper accepted the exchange, and 
was, doubtless, glad to have it pass off so easily. At 
the same time he cashed the order, which was indorsed 
to him, 1 and the next morning the lad went aboard the 
brig, apparently in good spirits, having shaken hands 
with each of us and wished us a pleasant passage home, 
jingling the money in his pockets, and calling out " Never 
say die, while there 's a shot in the locker." The same 
boat carried off Harris, my old watchmate, who had 
previously made an exchange with my friend Stimson. 
I was sorry to part with Harris. Nearly two hundred 
hours (as we had calculated it) had we walked the ship's 
deck together, at anchor watch, when all hands were be- 
low, and talked over and over every subject which came 
within the ken of either of us. He gave me a strong 
gripe with his hand; and I told him, if he came to 
Boston, not to fail to find me out, and let me see my old 

1 When our crew were paid off in Boston, the owners answered the 
orders of Stimson and me, but refused to deduct the amount from the 
pay-roll, saying that the exchanges were made under compulsion. 



342 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

watchmate. The same boat brought on board Stimson, 
who had begun the voyage with me from Boston, and, 
like me, was going back to his family and to the society 
in which he had been born and brought up. We con- 
gratulated each other upon finding what we had long 
talked over and wished for thus brought about ; and 
none on board the ship were more glad than ourselves 
to see the old brig standing round the point, under full 
sail. As she passed abreast of us, we all collected in the 
waist, and gave her three loud, hearty cheers, waving 
our hats in the air. Her crew sprang into the rigging 
and chains, and answered us with three as loud, to which 
we, after the nautical custom, gave one in return. I 
took my last look of their familiar faces as they passed 
over the rail, and saw the old black cook put his head 
out of the galley, and wave his cap over his head. Her 
crew flew aloft to loose the top-gallant-sails and royals; 
the two captains waved their hands to each other; and, 
in ten minutes, we saw the last inch of her white can- 
vas, as she rounded the point. 

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



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 343 

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

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

Before our sailing an unsuccessful attempt was made 
by one of the crew of the California to effect an ex- 
change with one of our number. It was a lad, between 
fifteen and sixteen years of age, who went by the name of 
the " reefer," having been a midshipman in an East India 



344 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

Company's ship. His singular character and story had 
excited our interest ever since the ship came into the 
port. He was a delicate, slender little fellow, with a 
beautiful pearly complexion, regular features ; forehead 
as white as marble, black hair curling beautifully round 
it ; tapering, delicate fingers ; small feet, soft voice, gentle 
manners, and, in fact, every sign of having been well 
born and bred. At the same time there was something 
in his expression which showed a slight deficiency of in- 
tellect. How great the deficiency was, or what it re- 
sulted from ; whether he was born so ; whether it was 
the result of disease or accident ; or whether, as some 
said, it was brought on by his distress of mind during 
the voyage, I cannot say. From his account of himself, 
and from many circumstances which were known in con- 
nection with his story, he must have been the son of a 
man of wealth. His mother was an Italian. He was 
probably a natural son, for in scarcely any other way 
could the incidents of his early life be accounted for. 
He said that his parents did not live together, and he 
seemed to have been ill treated by his father. Though 
he had been delicately brought up, and indulged in 
every way (and he had then with him trinkets which 
had been given him at home), yet his education had 
been sadly neglected ; and when only twelve years old, 
he was sent as midshipman in the Company's service. 
His own story was, that he afterwards ran away from 
home, upon a difficulty which he had with his father, 
and went to Liverpool, whence he sailed in the ship 
Rialto, Captain Holmes, for Boston. Captain Holmer> 
endeavored to get him a passage back, but, there beinj^ 
no vessel to sail for some time, the boy left him, and 
went to board at a common sailor's boarding-house m 
Ann Street, where he supported himself for a few weeks 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 345 

by selling some of his valuables. At length, according 
to his own account, being desirous of returning home, 
he went to a shipping-office, where the shipping articles 
of the California were open. Upon asking where the 
ship was going, he was toH by the shipping-master that 
she was bound to California. Not knowing where that 
was, he told him that he w r anted to go to Europe, 
and asked if California was in Europe. The shipping- 
master answered him in a way which the boy did not 
understand, and advised him to ship. The boy signed 
the articles, received his advance, laid out a little of it 
in clothes, and spent the rest, and was ready to go on 
board, when, upon the morning of sailing, he heard that 
the ship was bound upon the Northwest Coast, on a two 
or three years' voyage, and was not going to Europe. 
Frightened at this prospect, he slipped away when the 
crew were going aboard, wandered up into another part 
of the town, and spent all the forenoon in straying about 
the Common, and the neighboring streets. Having no 
money, and all his clothes and other things being in 
his chest on board, and being a stranger, he became tired 
and hungry, and ventured down toward the shipping, to 
see if the vessel had sailed. He was just turning the 
corner of a street, when the shipping-master, who had 
been in search of him, popped upon him, seized him, and 
carried him on board. He cried and struggled, and said 
he did not wish to go in the ship ; but the topsails 
were at the mast-head, the fasts just ready to be cast off, 
and everything in the hurry and confusion of departure, 
so that he was hardly noticed ; and the few who did in- 
quire about the matter were told that it was merely a boy 
who had spent his advance and tried to run away. Had 
the owners of the vessel known anything of the matter, 
they would doubtless have interfered; but they either 



346 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

knew nothing of it, or heard, like the rest, that it was 
only an unruly boy who was sick of his bargain. As 
soon as the boy found himself actually at sea, and upon 
a voyage of two or three years in length, his spirits 
failed him; he refused to work, and became so miser- 
able that Captain Arthur took him into the cabin, where 
he assisted the steward, and occasionally pulled and 
hauled about decks. He was in this capacity when we 
saw him; and though it was much better for him than 
the life in a forecastle, and the hard work, watching, 
and exposure, which his delicate frame could not have 
borne, yet, to be joined with a black fellow in waiting 
upon a man whom he probably looked upon as but 
little, in point of education and manners, above one of his 
father's servants, was almost too much for his spirit to 
bear. Had he entered upon this situation of his own 
free will, he could have endured it; but to have been 
deceived, and, in addition to that, forced into it, was in- 
tolerable. He made every effort to go home in our 
ship, but his captain refused to part with him except in 
the way of exchange, and that he could not effect. If 
this account of the whole matter, which we had from 
the boy, and which was confirmed by the crew, be cor- 
rect, I cannot understand why Captain Arthur should 
have refused to let him go, especially as he had the 
name, not only with that crew, but with all he had 
ever commanded, of an unusually kind-hearted man. 
The truth is, the unlimited power which merchant cap- 
tains have upon long voyages on strange coasts takes 
away the sense of responsibility, and too often, even in 
men otherwise well disposed, gives growth to a disregard 
for the rights and feelings of others. The lad was sent 
on shore to join the gang at the hide-house, from whence, 
I was afterwards rejoiced to hear, he effected his escape, 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 347 

and went down to Callao in a small Spanish schooner ; 
and from Callao he probably returned to England. 

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

Sunday, May 8th, 1836. This promised to be our last 
day in California. Our forty thousand hides and thirty 
thousand horns, besides several barrels of otter and 
beaver skins, were all stowed below, and the hatches 
calked down. 1 All our spare spars were taken on board 
and lashed, our water-casks secured, and our live stock, 
consisting of four bullocks, a dozen sheep, a dozen or 

1 We had also a small quantity of gold dust, which Mexicans or 
Indians had brought down to us from the interior. It was not uncommon 
for our ships to bring a little, as I have since learned from the owners. 
I heard rumors of gold discoveries, but they attracted little or no at- 
tention, and were not followed up. 



348 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

more pigs, and three or four dozens of poultry, were all 
stowed away in their different quarters; the bullocks in 
the long-boat, the sheep in a pen on the fore hatch, the 
pigs in a sty under the bows of the long-boat, and the 
poultry in their proper coop, and the jolly-boat was full 
of hay for the sheep and bullocks. Our unusually large 
cargo, together with the stores for a five months' voyage, 
brought the ship channels down into the water. In ad- 
dition to this, she had been steeved so thoroughly, and 
was so bound by the compression of her cargo, forced 
into her by machinery so powerful, that she was like a 
man in a strait- jacket, and would be but a dull sailer 
until she had worked herself loose. 

The California had finished discharging her cargo, and 
was to get under way at the same time with us. Hav- 
ing washed down decks and got breakfast, the two 
vessels lay side by side, in complete readiness for sea, 
our ensigns hanging from the peaks, and our tall spars 
reflected from the glassy surface of the river, which, 
since sunrise, had been unbroken by a ripple. At 
length a few whiffs came across the water, and, by 
eleven o'clock the regular northwest wind set steadily 
in. There was no need of calling all hands, for we had 
all been hanging about the forecastle the whole forenoon, 
and were ready for a start upon the first sign of a 
breeze. Often we turned our eyes aft upon the captain, 
who was walking the deck, with every now and then a 
look to windward. He made a sign to the mate, who 
came forward, took his station deliberately between the 
knight-heads, cast a glance aloft, and called out " All 
hands, lay aloft and loose the sails ! " We were half in 
the rigging before the order came, and never since we 
left Boston were the gaskets off the yards, and the rig- 
ging overhauled, in a shorter time. " All ready forward, 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 349 

sir! " " All ready the main ! " -" Cross-jack yards all 
ready, sir ! J: - " Lay down, all hands but one on each 
yard!" The yard-arm and bunt gaskets were cast off; 
and each sail hung by the jigger, with one man standing 
by the tie to let it go. At the same moment that we 
sprang aloft, a dozen hands sprang into the rigging of 
the California, and in an instant were all over her yards; 
and her sails, too, were ready to be dropped at the word. 
In the mean time our bow gun had been loaded and run 
out, and its discharge was to be the signal for dropping 
the sails. A cloud of smoke came out of our bows; the 
echoes of the gun rattled our farewell among the hills 
of California, and the two ships were covered, from head 
to foot, with their white canvas. For a few minutes 
all was uproar and apparent confusion ; men jumping 
about like monkeys in the rigging; ropes and blocks 
flying, orders given and answered amid the confused 
noises of men singing out at the ropes. The topsails 
came to the mast-heads with " Cheerly, men ! " and, in 
a few minutes, every sail was set, for the wind was 
light. The head sails were backed, the windlass came 
round " slip slap " to the cry of the sailors; " Hove 
short, sir," said the mate; "Up with him!' ! -"Aye, 
aye, sir." A few hearty and long heaves, and the anchor 
showed its head. " Hook cat ! " The fall was stretched 
along the decks ; all hands laid hold ; " Hurrah, for 
the last time," said the mate ; and the anchor came to the 
cat-head to the tune of " Time for us to go," with a rol- 
licking chorus. Everything was done quick, as though 
it was for the last time. The head yards were filled 
away, and our ship began to move through the water on 
her homeward-bound course. 

The California had got under way at the same mo- 
ment, and we sailed down the narrow bay abreast, and 



'350 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

were just off the mouth, and, gradually drawing ahead 
of her, were on the point of giving her three parting 
cheers, when suddenly we found ourselves stopped short, 
and the California ranging fast ahead of us. A bar 
stretches across the mouth of the harbor, with water 
enough to float common vessels, but, being low in the 
water, and having kept well to leeward, as we were 
bound to the southward, we had stuck fast, while the 
California, being light, had floated over. 

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

In about half an hour, which was near high water, 
the order was given to man the windlass, and again the 
anchor was catted ; but there was no song, and not a 
word was said about the last time. The California had 
come back on finding that we had returned, and was 
hove-to, waiting for us, off the point. This time we 

1 This is a common expletive among sailors, and suits any purpose. 




FURLING THE FORE ROYAL 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 351 

passed the bar safely, and were soon up with the Cali- 
fornia, who filled away, and kept us company. She 
seemed desirous of a trial of speed, and our captain ac- 
cepted the challenge, although we were loaded down to 
the bolts of our chain-plates, as deep as a sand-barge, 
and bound so taut with our carg'o that we were no more 
fit for a race than a man in fetters; while our an- 
tagonist was in her best trim. Being clear of the point, 
the breeze became stiff, and the royal-masts bent under 
our sails, but we would not take them in until we saw 
three boys spring aloft into the rigging of the Califor- 
nia; when they were all furled at once, but with orders 
to our boys to stay aloft at the top-gallant mast-heads 
and loose them again at the word. It was my duty to 
furl the fore royal; and, while standing by to loose it 
again, I had a fine view of the scene. From where I 
stood, the two vessels seemed nothing but spars and sails, 
while their narrow decks, far below, slanting over by 
the force of the wind aloft, appeared hardly capable 
of supporting the great fabrics raised upon them. The 
California was to windward of us, and had every advan- 
tage; yet, while the breeze was stiff, we held our own. 
As soon as it began to slacken, she ranged a little ahead, 
and the order was given to loose the royals. In an in- 
stant the gaskets were off and the bunt dropped. " Sheet 
home the fore royal ! Weather sheet 's home ! " " Lee 
sheet 's home ! " - " Hoist away, sir ! " is bawled from 
aloft. " Overhaul your clew-lines ! " shouts the mate. 
" Aye, aye, sir ! all clear ! " " Taut leech ! belay ! Well 
the lee brace ; haul taut to windward," - and the royals 
are set. These brought us up again ; but, the wind con- 
tinuing light, the California set hers, and it was soon 
evident that she was walking away from us. Our cap- 
tain then hailed, and said that he should keep off to his 



352 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

course; adding, "She isn't the Alert now. If I had 
her in your trim she would have been out of sight by 
this time." This was good-naturedly answered from the 
California, and she braced sharp up, and stood close 
upon the wind up the coast ; while we squared away our 
yards, and stood before*the wind to the south-southwest. 
The California's crew manned her weather rigging, waved 
their hats in the air, and gave us three hearty cheers, 
which we answered as heartily, and the customary 
single cheer came back to us from over the water. She 
stood on her way, doomed to eighteen months' or two 
years' hard service upon that hated coast, while we were 
making our way to our home, to which every hour and 
every mile was bringing us nearer. 

As soon as we parted company with the California, all 
hands were sent aloft to set the studding-sails. Booms 
were rigged out, tacks and halyards rove, sail after sail 
packed upon her, until every available inch of canvas 
was spread, that we might not lose a breath of the fair 
wind. We could now see how much she was cramped 
and deadened by her cargo; for with a good breeze on 
her quarter, and every stitch of canvas spread, we could 
not get more than six knots out of her. She had no 
more life in her than if she were water-logged. The log 
was hove several times ; but she was doing her best. 
We had hardly patience with her, but the older sailors 
said, " Stand by ! you '11 see her work herself loose in a 
week or two, and then she '11 walk up to Cape Horn like 
a race-horse." 

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




CHAPTER 
XXX 



A eight o'clock all hands were called aft, and 
the watches set for the voyage. Some changes 
were made; but I was glad to find my- 
self still in the larboard watch. Our crew was some- 
what diminished ; for a man and a boy had gone in the 
Pilgrim ; another was second mate of the Ayacucho ; and a 
fourth, Harry Bennett, the oldest man of the crew, had 
broken down under the hard work and constant exposure 
on the coast, and, having had a stroke of the palsy, was left 
behind at the hide-house, under the charge of Captain 
Arthur. The poor fellow wished very much to come 
home in the ship ; and he ought to have been brought 
home in her. But a live dog is better than a dead lion, 
and a sick sailor belongs to nobody's mess ; so he was sent 
ashore with the rest of the lumber, which was only in the 
way. He had come on board, with his chest, in the morn- 
ing, and tried to make himself useful about decks ; but 
his shuffling feet and weak arms led him into trouble, and 
some words were said to him by the mate. He had the 
spirit of a man, and had become a little tender, perhaps 
weakened in mind, and said, " Mr. Brown, I always did 
my duty aboard until I was sick. If you don't want me, 
say so, and I '11 go ashore." " Bring up his chest," said 



354 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

Mr. Brown, and poor Bennett went down into a boat and 
was taken ashore, with tears in his eyes. He loved the 
ship and the crew, and wished to get home, but could not 
bear to be treated as a sogcr or loafer on board. This 
was the only hard-hearted thing I ever knew Mr. Brown 
to do. 

By these diminutions, we were short-handed for a voy- 
age round Cape Horn in the dead of winter. Beside 
Stimson and myself, there were only five in the fore- 
castle ; who, together with four boys in the steerage, the 
sailmaker, carpenter, cook, and steward, composed the 
crew. In addition to this, we were only four days out, 
when the sailmaker, who was the oldest and best seaman 
on board, was taken with the palsy, and was useless for 
the rest of the voyage. The constant wading in the 
water, in all weathers, to take off hides, together with 
the other labors, is too much for men even in middle 
life, and for any who have not good constitutions. (Be- 
side these two men of ours, the second officer of the 
California and the carpenter of the Pilgrim, as we after- 
wards learned, broke down under the work, and the lat- 
ter died at Santa Barbara. The young man, too, Henry 
Mellus, who came out with us from Boston in the Pil- 
grim, had to be taken from his berth before the mast and 
made clerk, on account of a fit of rheumatism which at- 
tacked him soon after he came upon the coast.) By the 
loss of the sailmaker, our watch was reduced to five, of 
whom two were boys, who never steered but in fine 
weather, so that the other two and myself had to stand 
at the wheel four hours apiece out of every twenty- four; 
and the other watch had only four helmsmen. " Never 
mind, we 're homeward bound ! " was the answer to 
everything; and we should not have minded this, were 
it not for the thought that we should be off Cape Horn 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 355 

in the very dead of winter. It was now the first part of 
May; and two months would bring us off the Cape in 
July, which is the worst month in the year there; when 
the sun rises at nine and sets at three, giving eighteen 
hours night, and there is snow and rain, gales and high 
seas, in abundance. 

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

During our watches below we overhauled our clothes, 
and made and mended everything for bad weather. 
Each of us had made for himself a suit of oil-cloth or tar- 
paulin, and these we got out, and gave thorough coatings 
of oil or tar, and hung upon the stays to dry. Our stout 
boots, too, we covered over with a thick mixture of melted 
grease and tar. Thus we took advantage of the warm sun 
and fine weather of the Pacific to prepare for its other face. 
In the forenoon watches below, our forecastle looked like 
the workshop of what a sailor is, a Jack-at-all-trades. 
Thick stockings and drawers were darned and patched; 



356 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

mittens dragged from the bottom of the chest and 
mended; comforters made for the neck and ears; old 
flannel shirts cut up to line monkey-jackets; south west- 
ers were lined with flannel, and a pot of paint smuggled 
forward to give them a coat on the outside; and every- 
thing turned to hand; so that, although two years had 
left us but a scanty wardrobe, yet the economy and in- 
vention which necessity teaches a sailor soon put each 
of us in pretty good trim for bad weather, before we had 
seen the last of the fine. Even the cobbler's art was 
not out of place. Several old shoes were very decently 
repaired, and with waxed ends, an awl, and the top of 
an old boot, I made me quite a respectable sheath for 
my knife. 

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



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 357 

of us who lived forward, we generally had a dry berth 
apiece in bad weather. 1 

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

Sunday, May i^th, one week out, we were in latitude 
14 56' N., Ion. 116 14' W., having gone, by reckoning, 
over thirteen hundred miles in seven days. In fact, 
ever since leaving San Diego, we had had a fair wind, 
and as much as we wanted of it. For seven days our 
lower and topmast studding-sails were set all the time, 
and our royals and top-gallant studding-sails whenever 
she could stagger under them. Indeed, the captain had 
shown, from the moment we got to sea, that he was to 
have no boy's play, but that the ship was to carry all 
she could, and that he was going to make up by " crack- 
ing on " to her what she wanted in lightness. In this 
way we frequently made three degrees of latitude, be- 
sides something in longitude, in the course of twenty- 
four hours. Our days we spent in the usual ship's work. 
The rigging which had become slack from being long in 
port was to be set up ; breast backstays got up ; stud- 
ding-sail booms rigged upon the main yard ; and royal 
studding-sails got ready for the light trades ; ring-tail 
set ; and new rigging fitted, and sails made ready for 
Cape Horn. For, with a ship's gear, as well as a sailor's 
wardrobe, fine weather must be improved to get ready 
for the bad to come. Our forenoon watch below, as I 



1 On removing the cat-head, after the ship arrived at Boston, it was 
found that there were two holes under it which had been bored for the 
purpose of driving treenails, and which, accidentally, had not been 
plugged up when the cat-head was placed over them. This provoking 
little piece of negligence caused us great discomfort. 



358 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

have said, was given to our own work, and our night 
watches were spent in the usual manner, a trick at 
the wheel, a lookout on the forecastle, a nap on a coil 
of rigging under the lee of the rail; a yarn round the 
windlass-end; or, as was generally my way, a solitary 
walk fore and aft, in the weather waist, between the 
windlass-end and the main tack. Every wave that she 
threw aside brought us nearer home, and every day's ob- 
servation at noon showed a progress which, if it contin- 
ued, would, in less than five months, take us into Boston 
Bay. This is the pleasure of life at sea, fine weather, 
day after day, without interruption, fair wind, and 
a plenty of it, and homeward bound. Every one was 
in good humor; things went right; and all was done 
with a will. At the dog watch, all hands came on deck, 
and stood round the weather side of the forecastle, or 
sat upon the windlass, and sung sea-songs and those 
ballads of pirates and highwaymen which sailors delight 
in. Home, too, and what we should do when we got 
there, and when and how we should arrive, was no infre- 
quent topic. Every night, after the kids and pots were 
put away, and we had lighted our pipes and cigars at 
the galley, and gathered about the windlass, the first 
question was, 

" Well, Dana, what was the latitude to-day ? " 
" Why, fourteen, north ; and she has been going seven 
knots ever since." 

" Well, this will bring us to the line in five days." 
" Yes, but these trades won't last twenty-four hours 
longer," says an old salt, pointing with the sharp of 
his hand to leeward ; " I know that by the look of the 
clouds." 

Then came all manner of calculations and conjectures 
as to the continuance of the wind, the weather under the 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 359 

line, the southeast trades, &c., and rough guesses as to 
the time the ship would be up with the Horn; and 
some, more venturous, gave her so many days to Boston 
Light, and offered to bet that she would not exceed it. 

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

" Yes," says another, " you may see Boston, but you 'v6 
got to ' smell hell ' before that good day." 

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

This passenger the first and only one we had had, 
except to go from port to port, on the coast was no 
one else than a gentleman whom I had known in my 
smoother days, and the last person I should have ex- 
pected to see on the coast of California, Professor 
Nuttall, of Cambridge. I had left him quietly seated 
in the chair of Botany and Ornithology in Harvard 
University, and the next I saw of him, he was strolling 
about San Diego beach, in a sailor's pea-jacket, with a 
wide straw hat, and barefooted, with his trousers rolled 
up to his knees, picking up stones and shells. He had 
travelled overland to the Northwest Coast, and come 
down in a small vessel to Monterey. There he learned 
that there was a ship at the leeward about to sail for 
Boston, and, taking passage in the Pilgrim, which was 
then at Monterey, he came slowly along, visiting the 
intermediate ports, and examining the trees, plants, earths, 
birds, &c., and joined us at San Diego shortly before 



360 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

we sailed. The second mate of the Pilgrim told me that 
they had an old gentleman on board who knew me, and 
came from the college that I had been in. He could not 
recollect his name, but said he was a " sort of an oldish 
man," with white hair, and spent all his time in the bush, 
and along the beach, picking up flowers and shells and 
such truck, and had a dozen boxes and barrels full of 
them. I thought over everybody who would be likely to 
be there, but could fix upon no one ; when, the next day, 
just as we were about to shove off from the beach, he 
came down to the boat in the rig I have described, with 
his shoes in his hand, and his pockets full of specimens. 
I knew him at once, though I should hardly have been 
more surprised to have seen the Old South steeple shoot 
up from the hide-house. He probably had no more diffi- 
culty in recognizing me. As we left home about the 
same time, we had nothing to tell each other; and, 
owing to our different situations on board, I saw but 
little of him on the passage home. Sometimes, when I 
was at the wheel of a calm night, and the steering re- 
quired little attention, and the officer of the watch was 
forward, he would come aft and hold a short yarn with 
me; but this was against the rules of the ship, as is, in 
fact, all intercourse between passengers and the crew. 
I was often amused to see the sailors puzzled to know 
what to make of him, and to hear their conjectures 
about him and his business. They were as much at a 
loss as our old sailmaker was with the captain's instru- 
ments in the cabin. He said there were three, the 
c/tro-nometer, the f/zr<r-nometer, and the the-nometer. 
The Pilgrim's crew called Mr. Nuttall "Old Curious," 
from his zeal for curiosities ; and some of them said that 
he was crazy, and that his friends let him go about and 
amuse himself in this way. Why else a rich man (sail- 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 361 

ors call every man rich who does not work with his 
hands, and who wears a long coat and cravat) should 
leave a Christian country and come to such a place as 
California to pick up shells and stones, they could not 
understand. One of them, however, who had seen 
something more of the world ashore, set all to rights, as 
he thought ; " O, 'vast there ! You don't know any- 
thing about them craft. I 've seen them colleges and 
know the ropes. They keep all such things for cur'osi- 
ties, and study 'em, and have men a purpose to go and 
get 'em. This old chap knows what he 's about. He 
a'n't the child you take him for. He '11 carry all these 
things to the college, and if they are better than any 
that they have had before, he '11 be head of the college. 
Then, by and by, somebody else will go after some more, 
and if they beat him he '11 have to go again, or else 
give up his berth. That 's the way they do it. This 
old covey knows the ropes. He has worked a traverse 
over 'em, and come 'way out here where nobody 's ever 
been afore, and where they '11 never think of coming." 
This explanation satisfied Jack; and as it raised Mr. 
Nuttall's credit, and was near enough to the truth for 
common purposes, I did not disturb it. 

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

1 The customs as to the allowance of "grub" are very nearly the 
same in all American merchantmen. Whenever a pig is killed, the 
sailors have one mess from it. The rest goes to the cabin. The smaller 
live stock, poultry, &c. the sailors never taste. And indeed they do not 



362 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

left for the latter part of the voyage, for they are sail- 
ors, and can stand all weathers. We had an old sow 
on board, the mother of a numerous progeny, who had 
been twice round the Cape of Good Hope and once 
round Cape Horn. The last time going round was very 
nearly her death. We heard her squealing and moan- 
ing one dark night after it had been snowing and hail- 
ing for several hours, and, climbing over into the sty, we 

complain of this, for it would take a great deal to supply them with a good 
meal; and without the accompaniments (which could hardly be furnished 
to them), it would not be much better than salt beef. But even as to 
the salt beef they are scarcely dealt fairly with; for whenever a barrel 
is opened, before any of the beef is put into the harness-cask, the stew- 
ard comes up and picks it all over, and takes out the best pieces (those 
that have any fat in them) for the cabin. This was done in both the 
vessels I was in, and the men said that it was usual in other vessels. 
Indeed, it is made no secret, and some of the crew are usually called 
to help in assorting and putting away the pieces. By this arrange- 
ment the hard, dry pieces, which the sailors call "old horse," come to 
their share. 

There is a singular piece of rhyme, traditional among sailors, which 
they say over such pieces of beef. I do not know that it ever appeared 
in print before. 'When seated round the kid, if a particularly bad piece 
is found, one of them takes it up, and addresses it thus: 

" ' Old horse ! old horse ! what brought you here? ' 
' From Sacarap to Portland Pier 
I've carted stone this many a year; 
Till, killed by blows and sore abuse, 
They salted me down for sailors' use. 
The sailors they do me despise; 
They turn me over and damn my eyes; 
Cut off my meat, and scrape my bones, 
And pitch me over to Davy Jones.'" 

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



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 363 

found her nearly frozen to death. We got some straw, 
an old sail, and other things, and wrapped her up in a 
corner of the sty, where she stayed until we came into 
fine weather again. 

Wednesday, May i8th. Lat. 9 54' N., Ion. 113 17' W. 
The northeast trades had now left us, and we had 
the usual variable winds, the " doldrums," which prevail 
near the line, together with some rain. So long as we 
were in these latitudes, we had but little rest in our watch 
on deck at night ; for, as the winds were light and va- 
riable, and we could not lose a breath, we were all the 
watch bracing the yards, and taking in and making sail, 
and " humbugging " with our flying kites. A little puff 
of wind on the larboard quarter, and then " larboard 
fore braces ! " and studding-sail booms were rigged out, 
studding-sails set alow and aloft, the yards trimmed, 
and jibs and spanker in ; when it would come as calm 
as a duck-pond, the man at the wheel standing with the 
palm of his hand up, feeling for the wind. " Keep her 
off a little ! " " All aback forward, sir ! " cries a man 
from the forecastle. Down go the braces again ; in come 
the studding-sails, all in a mess, which half an hour 
won't set right ; yards braced sharp up, and she 's on 
the starboard tack, close-hauled. The studding-sails 
must now be cleared away, and set up in the tops and 
on the booms, and the gear cut off and made fast. By 
the time this is done, and you are looking out for a soft 
plank for a nap, --"Lay aft here, and square in the 
head yards ! " and the studding-sails are all set again on 
the starboard side. So it goes until it is eight bells, 
call the watch, --heave the log, relieve the wheel, 
and go below the larboard watch. 

Sunday, May 22d. Lat. 5 14' N., Ion. 166 45' W. 
We were now a fortnight out, and within five degrees of 



364 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

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

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

Saturday, May 28th, at about three P. M., with a fine 
breeze from the east-southeast, we crossed the equator. 
In twenty-four hours after crossing the line, we took, 
which was very unusual, the regular southeast trades. 
These winds come a little from the eastward of south- 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 365 

east, and with us they blew directly from the east- 
southeast, which was fortunate for us, as our course 
was south-by-west, and we could thus go one point free. 
The yards were braced so that every sail drew, from the 
spanker to the flying-jib; and, the upper yards being 
squared in a little, the fore and main top-gallant stud- 
ding-sails were set, and drew handsomely. For twelve 
days this breeze blew steadily, not varying a point, and 
just so fresh that we could carry our royals; and during 
the whole time we hardly started a brace. Such progress 
did we make that at the end of seven days from the 
time we took the breeze, on 

Sunday, June $th, we were in lat. 19 29' S., and Ion. 
118 01' W., having made twelve hundred miles in seven 
days, very nearly upon a taut bowline. Our good ship 
was getting to be herself again, and had increased her 
rate of sailing more than one third since leaving San 
Diego. The crew ceased complaining of her, and the 
officers hove the log every two hours with evident satis- 
faction. This was glorious sailing. A steady breeze; 
the light tradewind clouds over our heads ; the incom- 
parable temperature of the Pacific, neither hot nor 
cold ; a clear sun every day, and clear moon and stars 
every night, and new constellations rising in the south, 
and the familiar ones sinking in the north, as we went 
on our course, " stemming nightly toward the pole." 
Already we had sunk the North Star and the Great 
Bear, while the Southern Cross appeared well above the 
southern horizon, and all hands looked out sharp to the 
southward for the Magellan Clouds, which, each suc- 
ceeding night, we expected to make. ' The next time 
we see the North Star," said one, " we shall be standing 
to the northward, the other side of the Horn." This 
was true enough, and no doubt it would be a welcome 



366 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

sight, for sailors say that in coming home from round 
Cape Horn, or the Cape of Good Hope, the North Star 
is the first land you make. 

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

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



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 367 

The darkness, and complete stillness of the night, and 
the solitude of the ocean, gave to the sound a dreadful 
ind almost supernatural effect. I stood perfectly still, 
and my heart beat quick. The sound woke up the rest 
of the watch, who stood looking at one another. ' What, 
in the name of God, is that? " said the second mate, com- 
ing slowly forward. The first thought I had was, that it 
might be a boat, with the crew of some wrecked vessel, 
or perhaps the boat of some whale-ship, out over night, 
and we had run it down in the darkness. Another 
scream! but less loud than the first. This started us, 
and we ran forward, and looked over the bows, and over 
the sides, to leeward, but nothing was to be seen or 
heard. What was to be done? Heave the ship aback, 
and call the captain? Just at this moment, in crossing 
the forecastle, one of the men saw a light below, and, 
looking down the scuttle, saw the watch all out of their 
berths, and afoul of one poor fellow, dragging him out of 
his berth, and shaking him, to wake him out of a night- 
mare. They had been waked out of their sleep, and as 
much alarmed at the scream as we were, and were hesi- 
tating whether to come on deck, when the second sound, 
proceeding directly from one of the berths, revealed the 
cause of the alarm. The fellow got a good shaking for 
the trouble he had given. We made a joke of the mat- 
ter; and we could well laugh, for our minds were not a 
little relieved by its ridiculous termination. 

We were now close upon the southern tropical line, 
and, with so fine a breeze, were daily leaving the sun be- 
hind us, and drawing nearer to Cape Horn, for which it 
behooved us to make every preparation. Our rigging was 
all overhauled and mended, or changed for new, where 
it was necessary ; new and strong bobstays fitted in the 
place of the chain ones, which were worn out ; the sprit- 



3 68 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

sail yard and martingale guys and back-ropes set well 
taut; bran-new fore and main braces rove; top-gallant 
sheets, and wheelropes, made of green hide, laid up in 
the form of rope, were stretched and fitted; and new 
topsail clew-lines, &c. rove; new fore-topmast backstays 
fitted ; and other preparations made in good season, that 
the ropes might have time to stretch and become limber 
before we got into cold weather. 

Sunday, June I2th. Lat. 26 04' S., Ion. 116 31' W. 
We had now lost the regular trades, and had the winds 
variable, principally from the westward, and kept on 
in a southerly course, sailing very nearly upon a me- 
ridian, and at the end of the week, 
: , Sunday, June ipth, were in lat. 34 15' S., and Ion. 
Ii6 38' W. 




CHAPTER 
XXXI 



THERE began now to be a decided change in 
the appearance of things. The days be- 
came shorter and shorter; the sun running 
lower in its course each day, and giving less and less heat, 
and the nights so cold as to prevent our sleeping on deck ; 
the Magellan Clouds in sight, of a clear, moonless night ; 
the skies looking cold and angry; and, at times, a long, 
heavy, ugly sea, setting in from the southward, told us 
what we were coming to. Still, however, we had a fine, 
strong breeze, and kept on our way under as much sail 
as our ship would bear. Toward the middle of the week, 
the wind hauled to the southward, which brought us upon 
a taut bowline, made the ship meet, nearly head-on, the 
heavy swell which rolled from that quarter ; and there was 
something not at all encouraging in the manner in which 
she met it. Being still so deep and heavy, she wanted 
the buoyancy which should have carried her over the 
seas, and she dropped heavily into them, the water wash- 
ing over the decks; and every now and then, when an 
unusually large sea met her fairly upon the bows, she 
struck it with a sound as dead and heavy as that with 
which a sledge-hammer falls upon the pile, and took the 
whole of it in upon the forecastle, and, rising, carried it 



370 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

aft in the scuppers, washing the rigging off the pins, and 
carrying along with it everything which was loose on 
deck. She had been acting in this way all of our forenoon 
watch below ; as we could tell by the washing of the 
water over our heads, and the heavy breaking of the 
seas against her bows, only the thickness of a plank 
from our heads, as we lay in our berths, which an 
directly against the bows. At eight bells, the watch was 
called, and we came on deck, one hand going aft to 
take the wheel, and another going to the galley to get 
the grub for dinner. I stood on the forecastle, looking 
at the seas, which were rolling high, as far as the eye 
could reach, their tops white with foam, and the body 
of them of a deep indigo blue, reflecting the bright 
rays of the sun. Our ship rose slowly over a few of the 
largest of them, until one immense fellow came rolling on, 
threatening to cover her, and which I was sailor enough 
to know, by the " feeling of her " under my feet, she 
would not rise over. I sprang upon the knight-heads, 
and, seizing hold of the fore-stay, drew myself up upon it. 
My feet were just off the stanchion when the bow struck 
fairly into the middle of the sea, and it washed the 
ship fore and aft, burying her in the water. As soon 
as she rose out of it, I looked aft, and everything for- 
ward of the mainmast, except the long-boat, which was 
griped and double-lashed down to the ring-bolts, was j 
swept off clear. The galley, the pigsty, the hen-coop, 
and a large sheep-pen which had been built upon the 
fore-hatch, were all gone in the twinkling of an eye, 
leaving the deck as clean as a chin new reaped, and 
not a stick left to show where anything had stood. In 
the scuppers lay the galley, bottom up, and a few boards 
Boating about, the wreck of the sheep-pen, and half 
a dozen miserable sheep floating among them, wet through, 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 371 

and not a little frightened at the sudden change that 
had come upon them. As soon as the sea had washed 
by, all hands sprang up out of the forecastle to see what 
had become of the ship ; and in a few moments the 
cook and Old Bill crawled out from under the galley, 
where they had been lying in the water, nearly smothered, 
with the galley over them. Fortunately, it rested against 
the bulwarks, or it would have broken some of their 
bones. When the water ran off, we picked the sheep 
up, and put them in the long-boat, got the galley back 
in its place, and set things a little to rights; but, had 
not our ship had uncommonly high bulwarks and rail, 
everything must have been washed overboard, not ex- 
cepting Old Bill and the cook. Bill had been standing 
at the galley-door, with the kid of beef in his hand 
for the forecastle mess, when away he went, kid, beef, 
and all. He held on to the kid to the last, like a good 
fellow, but the beef was gone, and when the water had 
run off we saw it lying high and dry, like a rock at low 
tide, nothing could hurt that. We took the loss of 
our beef very easily, consoling ourselves with the recol- 
lection that the cabin had more to lose than we; and 
chuckled not a little at seeing the remains of the chicken- 
pie and pancakes floating in the scuppers. " This will 
never do!" was what some said, and every one felt. 
Here we were, not yet within a thousand miles of the 
latitude of Cape Horn, and our decks swept by a sea 
not one half so high as we must expect to find there. 
Some blamed the captain for loading his ship so deep 
when he knew what he must expect; while others said 
that the wind was always southwest, off the Cape, in 
the winter, and that, running before it, we should not 
mind the seas so much. When we got down into the 
forecastle, Old Bill, who was somewhat of a croaker, 



372 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

having met with a great many accidents at sea, 
said that, if that was the way she was going to act, we 
might as well make our wills, and balance the books at 
once, and put on a clean shirt. " 'Vast there, you bloody 
old owl ! you 're always hanging out blue lights ! You 're 
frightened by the ducking you got in the scuppers, and 
can't take a joke! What's the use in being always on 
the lookout for Davy Jones ? " " Stand by ! " says an- 
other, " and we '11 get an afternoon watch below, by this 
scrape " ; but in this they were disappointed, for at two 
bells all hands were called and set to work, getting lash- 
ings upon everything on deck ; and the captain talked of 
sending down the long top-gallant-masts; but as the sea 
went down toward night, and the wind hauled abeam, 
we left them standing, and set the studding-sails. 

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

The wind continued westerly, and the weather and 
sea less rough since the day on which we shipped the 
heavy sea, and we were making great progress under 
studding-sails, with our light sails all set, keeping a 
little to the eastward of south ; for the captain, depend- 
ing upon westerly winds off the Cape, had kept so far 
to the westward that, though we were within about five 
hundred miles of the latitude of Cape Horn, we were 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 373 

nearly seventeen hundred miles to the westward of it. 
Through the rest of the week we continued on with a 
fair wind, gradually, as we got more to the southward, 
keeping a more easterly course, and bringing the wind 
on our larboard quarter, until 

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

Monday, June 2?th. During the first part of this 
day the wind continued fair, and, as we were going be- 
fore it, 'it did not feel very cold, so that we kept at work 
on deck in our common clothes and round jackets. 
Our watch had an afternoon watch below for the first 
time since leaving San Diego; and, having inquired of 
the third mate what the latitude was at noon, and made 
our usual guesses as to the time she would need to be 
up with the Horn, we turned-in for a nap. We were 
sleeping away " at the rate of knots," when three knocks 
on the scuttle and " All hands, ahoy ! " started us from 
our berths. What could be the matter? It did not 
appear to be blowing hard, and, looking up through the 
scuttle, we could see that it was a clear day overhead : 
yet the watch were taking in sail. We thought there 
must be a sail in sight, and that we were about to heave- 
to and speak her; and were just congratulating our- 
selves upon it, for we had seen neither sail nor land 
since we left port, when we heard the mate's voice on 
deck (he turned-in "all-standing," and was always on 
deck the moment he was called) singing out to the men 
who were taking in the studding-sails, and asking where 
his watch were. We did not wait for a second call, 



374 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

but tumbled up the ladder; and there, on the starboard 
bow, was a bank of mist, covering sea and sky, and 
driving directly for us. I had seen the same before in 
my passage round in the Pilgrim, and knew what it 
meant, and that there was no time to be lost. We had 
nothing on but thin clothes, yet there was not a moment 
to spare, and at it we went. 

The boys of the other watch were in the tops, tak- 
ing in the top-gallant studding-sails and the lower and 
topmast studding-sails were coming down by the run. 
It was nothing but " haul down and clew up," until we 
got all the studding-sails in, and the royals, flying jib, 
and mizzen top-gallant-sail furled, and the ship kept off 
a little, to take the squall. The fore and main top-gallant 
sails were still on her, for the " old man " did not mean 
to be frightened in broad daylight, and was determined 
to carry sail till the last minute. We all stood wait- 
ing for its coming, when the first blast showed us that 
it was not to be trifled with. Rain, sleet, snow, and wind 
enough to take our breath from us, and make the tough- 
est turn his back to windward! The ship lay nearly 
over upon her beam-ends ; the spars and rigging 
snapped and cracked ; and her top-gallant-masts bent 
like whip-sticks. " Clew up the fore and main top-gallant- 
sails ! " shouted the captain, and all hands sprang to 
the clew-lines. The decks were standing nearly at an 
angle of forty-five degrees, and the ship going like a 
mad steed through the water, the whole forward part 
of her in a smother of foam. The halyards were let go, 
and the yard clewed down, and the sheets started, and 
in a few minutes the sails smothered and kept in by 
clewlines and buntlines. " Furl 'em, sir ? " asked the 
mate. " Let go the topsail halyards, fore and aft ! " 
shouted the captain in answer, at the top of his voice. 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 375 

Down came the topsail yards, the reef-tackles were 
manned and hauled out, and we climbed up to wind- 
ward, and sprang into the weather rigging. The vio- 
lence of the wind, and the hail and sleet, driving nearly 
horizontally across the ocean, seemed actually to pin us 
down to the rigging. It was hard work making head 
against them. One after another we got out upon the 
yards. And here we had work to, do; for our ne\v 
sails had hardly been bent long enough to get the stiff 
ness out of them, and the new earings and reef-points, 
stiffened with the sleet, knotted like pieces of iron wire. 
Having only our round jackets and straw hats on, we 
were soon wet through, and it was every moment grow- 
ing colder. Our hands were soon numbed, which, added 
to the stiffness of everything else, kept us a good while 
on the yard. After we had got the sail hauled upon the 
yard, we had to wait a long time for the weather earing 
to be passed; but there was no fault to be found, for 
French John was at the earing, and a better sailor never 
laid out on a yard; so we leaned over the yard and 
beat our hands upon the sail to keep them from freez- 
ing. At length the word came, " Haul out to lee- 
ward," and we seized the reef-points and hauled the 
band taut for the lee earing. " Taut band knot 
away," and we got the first reef fast, and were just going 
to lay down, when " Two reefs two reefs! " shouted 
the mate, and we had a second reef to take, in the 
same way. When this was fast we went down on deck, 
manned the halyards to leeward, nearly up to our knees 
in water, set the topsail, and then laid aloft on the main 
topsail yard, and reefed that sail in the same manner; 
for, as I have before stated, we were a good deal re- 
duced in numbers, and, to make it worse, the carpenter, 
only two days before, had cut his leg with an axe, so 



376 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

that he could not go aloft. This weakened us so that 
we could not well manage more than one topsail at a 
time, in such weather as this, and, of course, each 
man's labor was doubled. From the main topsail yard, 
we went upon the main yard, and took a reef in the 
mainsail. No sooner had we got on deck than " Lay 
aloft there, and close-reef mizzen topsail ! " This called 
me; and, being nearest to the rigging, I got first aloft, 
and out to the weather earing. English Ben was up just 
after me, and took the lee earing, and the rest of our 
gang were soon on the yard, and began to fist the sail, 
when the mate considerately sent up the cook and stew- 
ard to help us. I could now account for the long time 
it took to pass the other earings,. for, to do my best, with 
a strong hand to help me at the dog's ear, I could not 
get it passed until I heard them beginning to complain 
in the bunt. One reef after another we took in, until 
the sail was close-reefed, when we went down and 
hoisted away at the halyards. In the mean time, the 
jib had been furled and the staysail set, and the ship 
under her reduced sail had got more upright, and was 
under management ; but the two top-gallant-sails were 
still hanging in the buntlines, and slatting and jerking 
as though they would take the masts out of her. We 
gave a look aloft, and knew that our work was not done 
yet; and,, sure chough, no sooner did the mate see that 
we were on deck than " Lay aloft there, four of you, 
and furl the top-gallant-sails ! " This called me again, 
itirl two of us went aloft up the fore rigging, and two 
more up the main, upon the top-gallant yards. The 
shrouds were now iced over, the sleet having formed 
a crust round all the standing rigging, and on the 
weather side of the masts and yards. When we got 
upon the yard, my hands were so numb that I could not 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 377 

have cast off the knot of the gasket if it were to save my 
life. We both lay over the yard for a few seconds, beating 
our hands upon the sail, until we started the blood into 
our fingers' ends, and at the next moment our hands 
were in a burning heat. My companion on the yard 
was a lad (the boy, George Somerby), who came out in 
the ship a weak, puny boy, from one of the Boston 
schools, " no larger than a spritsail-sheet knot," nor 
" heavier than a paper of lamp-black," and " not strong 
enough to haul a shad off a gridiron," but who was 
now " as long as a spare topmast, strong enough to 
knock down an ox, and hearty enough to eat him." 
We fisted the sail together, and, after six or eight min- 
utes of hard hauling and pulling and beating down the 
sail, which was about as stiff as sheet-iron, we managed 
to get it furled; and snugly furled it must be, for we 
knew the mate well enough to be certain that if it got 
adrift again we should be called up from our watch be- 
low, at any hour of the night, to furl it. 

I had been on the lookout for a chance to jump 
below and clap on a thick jacket and south wester ; but 
when we got on deck we found that eight bells had been 
struck, and the other watch gone below, so that there 
were two hours of dog watch for us, and a plenty of 
work to do. It had now set in for a steady gale from 
the southwest; but we were not yet far enough to the 
southward to make a fair wind of it, for we must give 
Terra del Fuego a wide berth. The decks were covered 
with snow, and there was a constant driving of sleet. 
In fact, Cape Horn had set in with good earnest. In 
the midst of all this, and before it became dark, we had 
all the studding-sails to make up and stow away, and 
then to lay aloft and rig in all the booms, fore and aft, 
and coil away the tacks, sheets, and halyards. This 



378 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

was pretty tough work for four or five hands, in the 
face of a gale which almost took us off the yards, and 
with ropes so stiff with ice that it was almost impossible 
to bend them. I was nearly half an hour out on the 
end of the fore yard, trying, to coil away and stop down 
the topmast studding-sail tack and lower halyards. It 
was after dark when we got through, and we were not a 
little pleased to hear four bells struck, which sent us 
below for two hours, and gave us each a pot of hot tea 
with our cold beef and bread, and, what was better yet, 
a suit of thick, dry clothing, fitted for the weather, in 
place of our thin clothes, which were wet through and 
now frozen stiff. 

This sudden turn, for which we were so little pre- 
pared, was as unacceptable to me as to any of the rest ; 
for I had been troubled for several days with a slight 
toothache, and this cold weather and wetting and freez- 
ing were not the best things in the world for it. I 
soon found that it was getting strong hold, and running 
over all parts of my face ; and before the watch was 
out I went aft to the mate, who had charge of the 
medicine-chest, to get something for it. But the chest 
showed like the end of a long voyage, for there was 
nothing that would answer but a few drops of laudanum, 
which must be saved for an emergency ; so I had only 
io bear the pain as well as I could. 

When we went on deck at eight bells, it had stopped 
snowing, and there were a few stars out, but the clouds 
were still black, and it was blowing a steady gale. Just 
before midnight, I went aloft and sent down the mizzen 
royal yard, and had the good luck to do it to the satis- 
faction of the mate, who said it was done " out of hand 
and ship-shape." The next four hours below were but 
little relief to m*, for I lay awake in my berth the whole 




FURLING THE TOP-GALLANT-SAILS IN A BLIZZARD 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 379 

time, from the pain in my face, and heard every bell 
strike, and, at four o'clock, turned out with the watch, 
feeling little spirit for the hard duties of the day. Bad 
weather and hard work at sea can be borne up against 
very well if one only has spirit and health ; but there is 
nothing brings a man down, at such a time, like bodily 
pain and want of sleep. There was, however, too much 
to do to allow time to think ; for the gale of yesterday, 
'and the heavy seas we met with a few days before, while 
we had yet ten degrees more southing to make, had 
convinced the captain that we had something before us 
which was not to be trifled with, and orders were given 
to send down the long top-gallant-masts. The top-gallant 
and royal yards were accordingly struck, the flying jib- 
boom rigged in, and the top-gallant-masts sent down on 
deck, and all lashed together by the side of the long- 
boat. The rigging was then sent down and coiled away 
below, and everything made snug aloft. There was not 
a sailor in the ship who was not rejoiced to see these 
sticks come down ; for, so long as the yards were aloft, 
on the least sign of a lull, the top-gallant-sails were 
loosed, and then we had to furl them again in a snow- 
squall, and shin up and down single ropes caked with 
ice, and send royal yards down in the teeth of a gale 
coming right from the south pole. It was an interesting 
sight, too, to see our noble ship, dismantled of all her 
top-hamper of long tapering masts and yards, and boom 
pointed with spear-head, which ornamented her in port ; 
and all that canvas, which a few days before had cov- 
ered her like a cloud, from the truck to the water's edge, 
spreading far out beyond her hull on either side, now 
gone; and she stripped, like a wrestler for the fight. 
It corresponded, too, with the desolate character of hei- 
situation, alone, as she was, battling with storms, wimi. 



3 8o TWO YEARS- BEFORE THE MAST 

and ice, at this extremity of the globe, and in almost 
constant night. 

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

Saturday, July 2d. This day the sun rose fair, but 
it ran too low in the heavens to give any heat, or thaw 
out our sails and rigging; yet the sight of it was pleas- 
ant ; and we had a steady " reef-topsail breeze " from the 
westward. The atmosphere, which had previously been 
clear and cold, for the last few hours grew damp, and 
had a disagreeable, wet chilliness in it; and the man 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 381 

who came from the wheel said he heard the captain tell 
" the passenger " that the thermometer had fallen sev- 
eral degrees since morning, which he could not account 
for in any other way than by supposing that there must 
be ice near us ; though such a thing was rarely heard of 
in this latitude at this season of the year. At twelve 
o'clock we went below, and had just got through dinner, 
when the cook put his head down the scuttle and told 
us to come on deck and see the finest sight that we had 
ever seen. " Where away, Doctor? " x asked the first man 
who was up. " On the larboard bow." And there lay, 
floating in the ocean, several miles off, an immense, 
irregular mass, its top and points covered with snow, and 
its centre of a deep indigo color. This was an iceberg, and 
of the largest size, as one of our men said who had been 
in the Northern Ocean. As far as the eye could reach, 
the sea in every direction was of a deep blue color, the 
waves running high and fresh, and sparkling in the light, 
and in the midst lay this immense mountain-island, its 
cavities and valleys thrown into deep shade, and its points 
and pinnacles glittering in the sun. All hands were soon 
on deck, looking at it, and admiring in various ways its 
beauty and grandeur. But no description can give any 
idea of the strangeness, splendor, and, really, the sub- 
limity, of the sight. Its great size, for it must have 
been from two to three miles in circumference, and 
several hundred feet in height, its slow motion, as its 
base rose and sank in the water, and its high points 
nodded against the clouds; the dashing of the waves 
upon it, which, breaking high with foam, lined its base 
with a white crust; and the thundering sound of the 
cracking of the mass, and the breaking and tumbling 
down of huge pieces; together with its nearness and 

1 The cook's title in all vessels. 



3 82 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

approach, which added a slight element of fear, all 
combined to give to it the character of true sublimity. 
The main body of the mass was, as I have said, of an 
indigo color, its base crusted with frozen foam ; and as 
it grew thin and transparent toward the edges and top, 
its color shaded off from a deep blue to the whiteness 
of snow. It seemed to be drifting slowly toward the 
north, so that we kept away and avoided it. It was in 
sight all the afternoon; and when we got to leeward of 
it the wind died away, so that we lay-to quite near it 
for a greater part of the night. Unfortunately, there 
was no moon, but it was a clear night, and we could 
plainly mark the long, regular heaving of the stupen- 
dous mass, as its edges moved slowly against the stars, 
now revealing them, and now shutting them in. Several 
times in our watch loud cracks were heard, which sounded 
as though they must have run through the whole length 
of the iceberg, and several pieces fell down with a thun- 
dering crash, plunging heavily into the sea. Toward 
morning a strong breeze sprang up, and we filled away, 
and left it astern, and at daylight it was out of sight. 
The next day, which was 

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



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 383 

Monday, July 4th. This was " Independence Day " in 
Boston. What firing of guns, and ringing of bells, and 
rejoicings of all sorts, in every part of our country! 
The ladies (who have not gone down to Nahant, for a 
breath of cool air and sight of the ocean) walking the 
streets with parasols over their heads, and the dandies 
in their white pantaloons and silk stockings ! What 
quantities of ice-cream have been eaten, and how many 
loads of ice brought into the city from a distance, and 
sold out by the lump and the pound ! The smallest of 
the islands which we saw to-day would have made the 
fortune of poor Jack, if he had had it in Boston ; and I 
dare say he would have had no objection to being there 
with it. This, to be sure, was no place to keep the 
Fourth of July. To keep ourselves warm, and the ship 
out of the ice, was as much as we could do. Yet no 
one forgot the day; and many were the wishes and 
conjectures and comparisons, both serious and ludicrous, 
which were made among all hands. The sun shone 
bright as long as it was up, only that a scud of black 
clouds was ever and anon driving across it. At noon 
we were in lat. 54 2/ S., and Ion. 85 5' W., having 
made a good deal of easting, but having lost in our lat- 
itude by the heading off of the wind. Between daylight 
and dark that is, between nine o'clock and three 
we saw thirty-four ice islands of various sizes; some 
no bigger than the hull of our vessel, and others 
apparently nearly as large as the one that we first saw ; 
though, as we went on, the islands became smaller and 
more numerous ; and, at sundown of this day, a man 
at the mast-head saw large tracts of floating ice, called 
" field-ice," at the southeast. This kind of ice is much 
more dangerous than the large islands, for those can be 
seen at a distance, and kept away from ; but the field- 



384 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

ice, floating in great quantities, and covering the ocean 
for miles and miles, in pieces of every size, large, flat, 
and broken cakes, with here and there an island rising 
twenty and thirty feet, and as large as the ship's hull, 
this it is very difficult to sheer clear of. A constant 
lookout was necessary; for many of these pieces, com- 
ing with the heave of the sea, were large enough to 
have knocked a hole in the ship, and that would have 
been the end of us; for no boat (even if we could have 
got one out) could have lived in such a sea; and no 
man could have lived in a boat in such weather. To 
make our condition still worse, the wind came out due 
east, just after sundown, and it blew a gale dead ahead, 
with hail and sleet and a thick fog, so that we could 
not see half the length of the ship. Our chief reliance, 
the prevailing westerly gales, was thus cut off ; and here 
we were, nearly seven hundred miles' to the westward 
of the Cape, with a gale dead from the eastward, and 
the weather so thick that we could not see the ice, with 
which we were surrounded, until it was directly under 
our bows. At four p. M. (it was then quite dark) all 
hands were called, and sent aloft, in a violent squall of 
hail and rain, to take in sail. We had now all got on. 
our " Cape Horn rig," thick boots, southwesters com- 
ing down over our neck and ears, thick trousers and 
jackets, and some with oil-cloth suits over all. Mittens, 
too, we wore on deck, but it would not do to go aloft 
with them, as, being wet and stiff, they might let a 
man slip overboard, for all the hold he could get upon 
a rope: so we were obliged to work with bare hands, 
which, as well as our faces, were often cut with the hail- 
stones, which fell thick and large. Our ship was now 
all cased with ice, hull, spars, and standing rigging ; 
and the running rigging so stiff that we could hardly 




AMONG THE ICEBERGS 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 385 

bend it so as to belay it, or, still less, take a knot with 
it; and the sails frozen. One at a time (for it was a 
long piece of work and required many hands) we furled 
Jhe courses, mizzen topsail, and fore-topmast staysail, 
and close-reefed the fore and main topsails, and hove the 
ship to under the fore, with the main hauled up by the 
clew-lines and buntlines, and ready to be sheeted home, 
if we found it necessary to make sail to get to windward of 
an ice island. A regular lookout was then set, and kept 
by each watch in turn, until the morning. It was a 
tedious and anxious night. It blew hard the whole time, 
and there was an almost constant driving of either rain, 
hail, or snow. In addition to this, it was " as thick 
as muck," and the ice was all about us. The captain 
was on deck nearly the whole night, and kept the cook 
in the galley, with a roaring fire, to make coffee for him, 
which he took every few hours, and once or twice gave 
a little to his officers ; but not a drop of anything was 
there for the crew. The captain, who sleeps all the 
daytime, and comes and goes at night as he chooses, 
can have his brandy-and-water in the cabin, and his hot 
coffee at the galley; while Jack, who has to stand 
through everything, and work in wet and cold, can have 
nothing to wet his lips or warm his stomach. This was 
a " temperance ship " by her articles, and, like too many 
such ships, the temperance was all in the forecastle. 
The sailor, who only takes his one glass as it is dealt 
out to him, is in danger of being drunk ; while the cap- 
tain, upon whose self-possession and cool judgment the 
lives of all depend, may be trusted with any amount, to 
drink at his will. Sailors will never be convinced that 
rum is a dangerous thing by taking it away from them 
and giving it to the officers ; nor can they see a friend 
in that temperance which takes from them what they 



3 86 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

have always had, and gives them nothing in the place of 
it. By seeing it allowed to their officers, they will not 
be convinced that it is taken from them for their good; 
and by receiving nothing in its place they will not be- 
lieve that it is done in kindness. On the contrary, 
many of them look upon the change as a new instru- 
ment of tyranny. Not that they prefer rum. I never 
knew a sailor, who had been a month away from the 
grog shops, who would not prefer a pot of hot coffee 01 
chocolate, in a cold night, to all the rum afloat. They 
all say that rum only warms them for a time; yet, if 
they can get nothing better, they will miss what they 
have lost. The momentary warmth and glow from drink- 
ing it; the break and change which it makes in a long, 
dreary watch by the mere calling all hands aft and 
serving of it out ; and the simply having some event to 
look forward to and to talk about, all give it an impor- 
tance and a use which no one can appreciate who has not 
stood his watch before the mast. On my passage out, the 
Pilgrim was not under temperance articles, and grog was 
served out every middle and morning watch, and after 
every reefing of topsails; and, though I had never 
drunk rum before, nor desire to again, I took my allow- 
ance then at the capstan, as the rest did, merely for the 
momentary warmth it gave the system, and the change 
in our feelings and aspect of our duties on the watch. 
At the same time, as I have said, there was not a man 
on board who would not have pitched the rum to the 
dogs (I have heard them say so a dozen times) for a 
pot of coffee or chocolate ; or even for our common bev- 
erage, " water bewitched and tea begrudged," as it 
was. 1 The temperance reform is the best thing that 

1 The proportions of the ingredients of the tea that was made for us 
(and ours, as I have before stated, wae a favorable specimen of Ameri- 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 387 

ever was undertaken for the sailor; but when the grog 
is taken from him, he ought to have something in its 
place. As it is now, in most vessels, it is a mere sav- 
ing to the owners; and this accounts for the sudden in- 
crease of temperance ships, which surprised even the best 
friends of the cause. If every merchant, when he struck 
grog from the list of the expenses of his ship, had been 
obliged to substitute as much coffee, or chocolate, as 
would give each man a pot-full when he came off the 
topsail yard, on a stormy night, I fear Jack might 
have gone to ruin on the old road. 1 

But this is not doubling Cape Horn. Eight hours of 
the night our watch was on deck, and during the whole 
of that time we kept a bright lookout : one man on each 
bow, another in the bunt of the fore yard, the third mate 
on the scuttle, one man on each quarter, and another 
always standing by the wheel. The chief mate was every- 
where, and commanded the ship when the captain was 



can merchantmen) were a pint of tea and a pint and a half of molasses 
to about three gallons of water. These are all boiled down together 
in the "coppers," and, before serving it out, the mess is stirred up with 
a stick, so as to give each man his fair share of sweetening and tea- 
leaves. The tea for the cabin is, of course, made in the usual way, in 
a teapot, and drunk with sugar. 

1 I do not wish these remarks, so far as they relate to the saving of 
sxpense in the outfit, to be applied to the owners of our ship, for she 
was supplied with an abundance of stores of the best kind that are 
given to seamen; though the dispensing of them is necessarily left to 
the captain. And I learned, on our return, that the captain withheld 
many of the stores from Ui, from mere ugliness. He brought several 
barrels of flour home, but would not give us the usual twice-a-week 
duff, and so a? to other stores. Indeed, so high was the reputation of 
"the employ" among men and officers for the character and outfit of 
their vessels, and for their liberality in conducting their voyages, that 
when it was known that they had the Alert fitting out for a long voy 
age, and that hands were to be shipped at a certain time, a haL 
hour before the time, as one of the crew told me, sailors wert steering 
down the wharf, hopping over the barrels, like a drove of sheep. 



3 88 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

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

In the mean time the wet and cold had brought my 
face into such a state that I could neither eat nor sleep; 
and though I stood it out all night, yet, when it became 
light, I was in such a state that all hands told me I must 
go below, and lie-by for a day or two, or I should be laid 
up for a long time. When the watch was changed I went 
into the steerage, and took off my hat and comforter, and 
showed my face to the mate, who told me to go below at 
once, and stay in my berth until the swelling went down, 
and gave the cook orders to make a poultice for me, and 
said he would speak to the captain. 

I went below and turned-in, covering myself over with 
blankets and jackets, and lay in my berth nearly twenty- 
four hours, half asleep and half awake, stupid from the 
dull pain. I heard the watch called, and the men going 
up and down, and sometimes a noise on deck, and a cry 
of " ice," but I gave little attention to anything. At the 
end of twenty-four hours the pain went down, and I had 
a long sleep, which brought me back to my proper state ; 
yet my face was so swollen and tender that I was obliged 
to keep my berth for two or three days longer. During 
the two days I had been below, the weather was much 
the same that it had been, head winds, and snow and 
rain ; or, if the wind came fair, too foggy, and the ice 
too thick, to run. At the end of the third day the ice 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 389 

was very thick; a complete fog-bank covered the ship. 
It blew a tremendous gale from the eastward, with sleet 
and snow, and there was every promise of a dangerous 
and fatiguing night. At dark, the captain called all 
hands aft, and told them that not a man was to leave 
the deck that night; that the ship was in the greatest 
danger, any cake of ice might knock a hole in her, or 
she might run on an island and go to pieces. No one 
could tell whether she would be a ship the next morn- 
ing. The lookouts were then set, and every man was 
put in his station. When I heard what was the state of 
things, I began to put on my clothes to stand it out with 
the rest of them, when the mate came below, and, look- 
ing at my face, ordered me back to my berth, saying that 
if we went down, we should all go down together, but if 
I went on deck I might lay myself up for life. This was 
the first word I had heard from aft ; for the captain had 
done nothing, nor inquired how I was, since I went below. 
In obedience to the mate's orders, I went back to my 
berth ; but a more miserable night I never wish to spend. 
I never felt the curse of sickness so keenly in my life. 
If I could only have been on deck with the rest where 
something was to be done and seen and heard, where 
there were fellow-beings for companions in duty and dan- 
ger; but to be cooped up alone in a black hole, in equal 
Janger, but without the power to do, was the hardest 
trial. Several times, in the course of the night, I got 
up, determined to go on deck; but the silence which 
showed that there was nothing doing, and the knowl- 
edge that I might make myself seriously ill, for no pur- 
pose, kept me back. It was not easy to sleep, lying, as 
I did, with my head directly against the bows, which 
inight be dashed in by an island of ice, brought down by 
very next sea that struck her. This was the only 



390 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

time I had been ill since I left Boston, and it was th< 
worst time it could have happened. I felt almost will- 
ing to bear the plagues of Egypt for the rest of the voy- 
age, if I could but be well and strong for that one 
night. Yet it was a dreadful night for those on deck. 
A watch of eighteen hours, with wet and cold and con- 
stant anxiety, nearly wore them out; and when they 
came below at nine o'clock for breakfast, they almost 
dropped asleep on their chests, and some of them were 
so stiff that they could with difficulty sit down. Not a 
drop of anything had been given them during the whole 
time (though the captain, as on the night that I was on 
deck, had his coffee every four hours), except that the 
mate stole a pot-full of coffee for two men to drink be- 
hind the galley, while he kept a lookout for the captain. 
Every man had his station, and was not allowed to leave 
it ; and nothing happened to break the monotony of the 
night, except once setting the main topsail, to run clear 
of a large island to leeward, which they were drifting 
fast upon. Some of the boys got so sleepy and stupefied 
that they actually fell asleep at their posts; and the 
young third mate, Mr. Hatch, whose post was the ex- 
posed one of standing on the fore scuttle, was so stiff, 
when he was relieved, that he could not bend his knees 
to get down. By a constant lookout, and a quick shift- 
ing of the helm, as the islands and pieces came in sight, 
the ship went clear of everything but a few small pieces, 
though daylight showed the ocean covered for miles. At 
daybreak it fell a dead calm, and with the sun the fog 
cleared a little, and a breeze sprung up from the west- 
ward, which soon grew into a gale. We had now a fair 
wind, daylight, and comparatively clear weather; yet, to 
the surprise of every one, the ship continued hove-to. 
" Why does not he run ? " " What is the captain 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 391 

about ? " was asked by every one ; and from questions 
it soon grew into complaints and murmurings. When 
the daylight was so short, it was too bad to lose it, and 
a fair wind, too, which every one had been praying for. 
As hour followed hour, and the captain showed no sign of 
making sail, the crew became impatient, and there was a 
good deal of talking and consultation together on the 
forecastle. They had been beaten out with the exposure 
and hardship, and impatient to get out of it, and this un- 
accountable delay was more than they could bear in 
quietness, in their excited and restless state. Some said 
the captain was frightened, completely cowed by the 
dangers and difficulties that surrounded us, and was afraid 
to make sail ; while others said that in his anxiety and sus- 
pense he had made a free use of brandy and opium, and 
was unfit for his duty. The carpenter, who was an intel- 
ligent man, and a thorough seaman, and had great influ- 
ence with the crew, came down into the forecastle, and 
tried to induce them to go aft and ask the captain why 
he did not run, or request him, in the name of all hands, 
to make sail. This appeared to be a very reasonable re- 
quest, and the crew agreed that if he did not make sail 
before noon they would go aft. Noon came, and no sail 
was made. A consultation was held again, and it was 
proposed to take the ship from the captain and give the 
command of her to the mate, who had been heard to say 
that if he could have his way the ship would have been 
half the distance to the Cape before night, --ice or no 
ice. And so irritated and impatient had the crew 
become, that even this proposition, which was open 
mutiny, was entertained, and the carpenter went to his 
berth, leaving it tacitly understood that something seri- 
ous would be done if things remained as they were 
many hours longer. When the carpenter left, we talked 



392 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

it all over, and I gave my advice strongly against it. 
Another of the men, too, who had known something of 
the kind attempted in another ship by a crew who were 
dissatisfied with their captain, and which was followed 
with serious consequences, was opposed to it. Stimson, 
who soon came down, joined us, and we determined to 
have nothing to do with it. By these means the crew 
were soon induced to give it up for the present, though 
they said they would not lie where they were much 
longer without knowing the reason. 

The affair remained in this state until four o'clock, 
when an order came forward for all hands to come aft 
upon the quarter-deck. In about ten minutes they 
came forward again, and the whole affair had been 
blown. The carpenter, prematurely, and without any 
authority from the crew, had sounded the mate as to 
whether he would take command of the ship, and inti- 
mated an intention to displace the captain ; and the mate, 
as in duty bound, had told the whole to the captain, 
who immediately sent for all hands aft. Instead of vio- 
lent measures, or, at least, an outbreak of quarter-deck 
bravado, threats, and abuse, which they had every reason 
to expect, a sense of common danger and common suf- 
fering seemed to have tamed his spirit, and begotten in 
him something like a humane fellow-feeling; for he re- 
ceived the crew in a manner quiet, and even almost 
kind. He told them what he had heard, and said that he 
did not believe that they would try to do any such thing 
as was intimated ; that they had always been good men, 
obedient, and knew their duty, and he had no fault to 
find with them, and asked them what they had to com- 
plain of ; said that no one could say that he was slow to 
carry sail (which was true enough), and that, as soon as 
he thought it was safe and proper, he should make sail. 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 393 

He added a few words about their duty in their present 
situation, and sent them forward, saying that he should 
take no further notice of the matter; but, at the same 
time, told the carpenter to recollect whose power he was 
in, and that if he heard another word from him he 
would have cause to remember him to the day of his 
death. 

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

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



394 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

for nurse on board a vessel. Our merchant ships are 
always undermanned, and if one man is lost by sick- 
ness, they cannot spare another to take care of him. 
A sailor is always presumed to be well, and if he 's sick 
he 's a poor dog. One has to stand his wheel, and an- 
other his lookout, and the sooner he gets on deck again 
the better. 

Accordingly, as soon as I could possibly go back to 
my duty, I put on my thick clothes and boots and 
southwester, and made my appearance on deck. I had 
been but a few days below, yet everything looked 
strangely enough. The ship was cased in ice, decks, 
sides, masts, yards, and rigging. Two close-reefed top- 
sails were all the sail she had on, and every sail and 
rope was frozen so stiff in its place that it seemed as 
though it would be impossible to start anything. Re- 
duced, too, to her topmasts, she had altogether a most 
forlorn and crippled appearance. The sun had come up 
brightly ; the snow was swept off the decks and ashes 
thrown upon them so that we could walk, for they had 
been as slippery as glass. It was, of course, too cold to 
carry on any ship's work, and we had only to walk the 
deck and keep ourselves warm. The wind was still 
ahead, and the whole ocean, to the eastward, covered 
with islands and field-ice. At four bells the order was 
given to square away the yards, and the man who came 
from the helm said that the captain had kept her off to 
N. N. E. What could this mean? The wildest rumors 
got adrift. Some said that he was going to put into 
Valparaiso and winter, and others f hat he was going to 
run out of the ice and cross the Pacific, and go home 
round the Cape of Good Hope. Soon, however, it leaked 
out, and we found that we were running for the Straits 
of Magellan. The news soon spread through the ship, 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 395 

and all tongues were at work talking about it. No one 
on board had been through the straits ; but I had in my 
chest an account of the passage of the ship A. J. Don- 
elson, of New York, through those straits a few years 
before. The account was given by the captain, and the 
representation was as favorable as possible. It was 
soon read by every one on board, and various opinions 
pronounced. The determination of our captain had at 
least this good effect; it gave us something to think 
and talk about, made a break in our life, and diverted 
our minds from the monotonous dreariness of the pros- 
pect before us. Having made a fair wind of it, we were 
going off at a good rate, and leaving the thickest of 
the ice behind us. This, at least, was something. 

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

Sunday, July loth. Lat. 54 10', Ion. 79 of. This 
was our position at noon. The sun was out bright ; 
the ice was all left behind, and things had quite a cheer- 
ing appearance. We brought our wet pea-jackets and 
trousers on deck, and hung them up in the rigging, that 
the breeze and the few hours of sun might dry them a 
little ; and, by leave of the cook, the galley was nearly 
filled with stockings and mittens, hung round to be 
dried. Boots, too, were brought up; and, having got a 
little tar and slush from below, we gave them thick 
coats. After dinner all hands were turned-to, to get the 
anchors over the bows, bend on the chains, &c. The 
fish-tackle was got up, fish-davit rigged out, and, after 
two or three hours of hard and cold work, both the 
anchors were ready for instant use, a couple of kedges 



396 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

got up, a hawser coiled away upon the fore-hatch, and 
the deep-sea-lead-line overhauled and made ready. Our 
spirits returned with having something to do ; and when 
the tackle was manned to bowse the anchor home, not- 
withstanding the desolation of the scene, we struck up 
" Cheerly, men ! " in full chorus. This pleased the mate, 
who rubbed his hands and cried out, ' That 's right, 
my boys; never say die! That sounds like the old 
crew ! " and the captain came up, on hearing the song, 
and said to the passenger, within hearing of the man 
at the wheel, " That sounds like a lively crew. They '11 
have their song so long as there 're enough left for a 
chorus ! " 

This preparation of the cable and anchors was for 
the passage of the straits ; for, as they are very crooked, 
and with a variety of currents, it is necessary to come 
frequently to anchor. This was not, by any means, a 
pleasant prospect ; for, of all the work that a sailor is 
called upon to do in cold weather, there is none so bad 
as working the ground-tackle. The heavy chain cables 
to be hauled and pulled about decks with bare hands ; 
wet hawsers, slip-ropes, and buoy-ropes to be hauled 
aboard, dripping in water, which is running up your 
sleeves, and freezing; clearing hawse under the bows; 
getting under way and coming-to at all hours of the 
night and day, and a constant lookout for rocks and 
sands and turns of tides, these are some of the disa- 
greeables of such a navigation to a common sailor. Fair 
or foul, he wants to have nothing to do with the ground- 
tackle between port and port. One of our hands, too, had 
unluckily fallen upon a half of an old newspaper which 
contained an account of the passage, through the straits, 
of a Boston brig, called, I think, the Peruvian, in which 
she lost every cable and anchor she had, got aground 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 397 

twice, and arrived at Valparaiso in distress. This was 
set off against the account of the A. J. Donelson, and 
led us to look forward with less confidence to the passage, 
especially as no one on board had ever been through, 
and we heard that the captain had no very satisfactory 
charts. However, we were spared any further experi- 
ence on the point; for the next day, when we must 
have been near the Cape of Pillars, which is the south- 
west point of the mouth of the straits, a gale set in 
from the eastward, with a heavy fog, so that we could 
not see half the ship's length ahead. This, of course, 
put an end to the project for the present; for a thick 
fog and a gale blowing dead ahead are not the most 
favorable circumstances for the passage of difficult and 
dangerous straits. This weather, too, seemed likely to 
last for some time, and we could not think of beating 
about the mouth of the straits for a week or two, wait- 
ing for a favorable opportunity ; so we braced up on the 
larboard tack, put the ship's head due south, and stuck 
her off for Cape Horn again. 




for 
the 



CHAPTER 
XXXII 



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



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 399 

a moment was to be lost. The helm was hard up, the after 
yards shaking, and the ship in the act of wearing. Slowly, 
with the stiff ropes and iced rigging, we swung the yards 
round, everything coming hard and with a creaking and 
rending sound, like pulling up a plank which has been 
frozen into the ice. The ship wore round fairly, the yards 
were steadied, and we stood off on the other tack, leaving 
behind us, directly under our larboard quarter, a large 
ice island, peering out of the mist, and reaching high 
above our tops; while astern, and on either side of the 
island, large tracts of field-ice were dimly seen, heaving 
and rolling in the sea. We were now safe, and standing 
to the northward; but, in a few minutes more, had it 
not been for the sharp lookout of the watch, we should 
have been fairly upon the ice, and left our ship's old 
bones adrift in the Southern Ocean. After standing to 
the northward a few hours, we wore ship, and, the wind 
having hauled, we stood to the southward and eastward. 
All night long a bright lookout was kept from every 
part of the deck; and whenever ice was seen on the one 
bow or the other the helm was shifted and the yards 
braced, and, by quick working of the ship, she was kept 
clear. The accustomed cry of " Ice ahead ! " " Ice on 
the lee bow ! " " Another island ! " in the same tones, 
and with the same orders following them, seemed to 
bring us directly back to our old position of the week 
before. During our watch on deck, which was from 
twelve to four, the wind came out ahead, with a pelting 
storm of hail and sleet, and we lay hove-to, under a 
close-reefed fore topsail, the whole watch. During the 
next watch it fell calm with a drenching rain until day- 
break, when the wind came out to the westward, and 
the weather cleared up, and showed us the whole ocean, 
in the course which we should have steered, had it not 



400 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

been for the head wind and calm, completely blocked up 
with ice. Here, then, our progress was stopped, and we 
wore ship, and once more stood to the northward and 
eastward; not for the Straits of Magellan, but to make 
another attempt to double the Cape, still farther to the 
eastward; for the captain was determined to get round 
if perseverance could do it, and the third time, he said, 
never failed. 

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

From a northeast course we gradually hauled to the 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 401 

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



402 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

top hailed, and said he believed it was land, after all. 
" Land in your eye ! " said the mate, who was looking 
through the telescope ; " they are ice islands, if I can 
see a hole through a ladder " ; and a few moments 
showed the mate to be right ; and all our expectations 
fled ; and instead of what we most wished to see we had 
what we most dreaded, and what we hoped we had seen 
the last of. We soon, however, left these astern, having 
passed within about two miles of them, and at sundown 
the horizon was clear in all directions. 

Having a fine wind, we were soon up with and passed 
the latitude of the Cape, and, having stood far enough 
to the southward to give it a wide berth, we began to 
stand to the eastward, with a good prospect of being 
round and steering to the northward, on the other side, 
in a very few days. But ill luck seemed to have lighted 
upon us. Not four hours had we been standing on in 
this course before it fell dead calm, and in half an hour 
it clouded up, a few straggling blasts, with spits of snow 
and sleet, came from the eastward, and in an hour more 
we lay hove-to under a close-reefed main topsail, drifting 
bodily off to leeward before the fiercest storm that we 
had yet felt, blowing dead ahead, from the eastward. 
It seemed as though the genius of the place had been 
roused at finding that we had nearly slipped through 
his fingers, and had come down upon us with tenfold 
fury. The sailors said that every blast, as it shook the 
shrouds, and whistled through the rigging, said to the 
old ship, " No, you don't! "--" No, you don't! " 

For eight days we lay drifting about in this manner. 
Sometimes generally towards noon it fell calm ; 
once or twice a round copper. ball showed itself for a few 
moments in the place where the sun ought to have been, 
and a puff or two came from the westward, giving some 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 403 

hope that a fair wind had come at last. During the 
first two days we made sail for these puffs, shaking the 
reefs out of the topsails and boarding the tacks of the 
courses ; but finding that it only made work for us when 
the gale set in again, it was soon given up, and we lay-to 
under our close-reefs. We had less snow and hail than 
when we were farther to the westward, but we had an 
abundance of what is worse to a sailor in cold weather, 
drenching rain. Snow is blinding, and very bad 
when coming upon a coast, but, for genuine discomfort, 
give me rain with freezing weather. A snowstorm is 
exciting, and it does not wet through the clothes (a fact 
important to a sailor) ; but a constant rain there is no 
escaping from. It wets to the skin, and makes all pro- 
tection vain. We had long ago run through all our dry 
clothes, and as sailors have no other way of drying them 
than by the sun, we had nothing to do but to put on 
those which were the least wet. At the end of each 
watch, when we came below, we took off our clothes and 
wrung them out; two taking hold of a pair of trou- 
sers, one at each end, and jackets in the same way. 
Stockings, mittens, and all, were wrung out also, and 
then hung up to drain and chafe dry against the bulk- 
heads. Then, feeling of all our clothes, we picked out 
those which were the least wet, and put them on, so as 
to be ready for a call, and turned-in, covered ourselves 
up with blankets, and slept until three knocks on the 
scuttle and the dismal sound of " All Starbowlines ahoy ! 
Eight bells, there below ! Do you hear the news ? " 
drawled out from on deck, and the sulky answer of 
" Aye, aye ! " from below, sent us up again. 

On deck all was dark, and either a dead calm, with 
the rain pouring steadily down, or, more generally, a 
violent gale dead ahead, with rain pelting horizontally, 



404 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

and occasional variations of hail and sleet; decks afloat 
with water swashing from side to side, and constantly 
wet feet, for boots could not be wrung out like drawers, 
and no composition could stand the constant soaking. 
In fact, wet and cold feet are inevitable in such weather, 
and are not the least of those items which go to make 
up the grand total of the discomforts of a winter 
passage round Cape Horn. Few words were spoken 
between the watches as they shifted; the wheel was 
relieved, the mate took his place on the quarter-deck, the 
lookouts in the bows; and each man had his narrow 
space to walk fore and aft in, or rather to swing him- 
self forward and back in, from one belaying-pin to an- 
other, for the decks were too slippery with ice and 
water to allow of much walking. To make a walk, 
which is absolutely necessary to pass away the time, one 
of us hit upon the expedient of sanding the decks; and 
afterwards, whenever the rain was not so violent as to 
wash it off, the weather-side of the quarter-deck, and 
a part of the waist and forecastle were sprinkled with 
the sand which we had on board for holystoning, and thus 
we made a good promenade, where we walked fore and 
aft, two and two, hour after hour, in our long, dull, and 
comfortless watches. The bells seemed to be an hour 
or two apart, instead of half an hour, and an age to 
elapse before the welcome sound of eight bells. The 
sole object was to make the time pass on. Any change 
was sought for which would break the monotony of the 
time; and even the two hours' trick at the wheel, which 
came round to us in turn, once in every other watch, 
was looked upon as a relief. The never-failing resource 
of long yarns, which eke out many a watch, seemed to 
have failed us now; for we had been so long together 
that we had heard each other's stories told over and 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 405 

over again till we had them by heart; each one knew 
the whole history of each of the others, and we were 
fairly and literally talked out. Singing and joking we 
were in no humor for; and, in fact, any sound of mirth 
or laughter would have struck strangely upon our ears, 
and would not have been tolerated any more than 
whistling or a wind instrument. The last resort, that 
of speculating upon the future, seemed now to fail us; 
for our discouraging situation, and the danger we were 
really in (as we expected every day to find ourselves 
drifted back among the ice), "clapped a stopper" upon 
all that. From saying " zvhen we get home," we began 
insensibly to alter it to " if we get home," and at last 
the subject was dropped by a tacit consent. 

In this state of things, a new light was struck out, 
and a new field opened, by a change in the watch. One 
of our watch was laid up for two or three days by a bad 
hand (for in cold weather the least cut or bruise ripens 
into a sore), and his place was supplied by the carpen- 
ter. This was a windfall, and there was a contest who 
should have the carpenter to walk with him. As 
" Chips " was a man of some little education, and he 
and I had had a good deal of intercourse with each 
other, he fell in with me in my walk. He was a Fin, 
but spoke English well, and gave me long accounts of his 
country, the customs, the trade, the towns, what little 
he knew of the government (I found he was no friend 
of Russia), his voyages, his first arrival in America, his 
marriage and courtship ; he had married a country- 
woman of his, a dress-maker, whom he met with in Bos- 
ton. I had very little to tell him of my quiet, sedentary 
life at home ; and in spite of our best efforts, which had 
protracted these yarns through five or six watches, we 
fairly talked each other out, and I turned him over to 



4 o6 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

another man in the watch, and put myself upon my own 
resources. 

I commenced a deliberate system of time-killing, which 
united some profit with a cheering up of the heavy hours. 
As soon as I came on deck, and took my place and reg- 
ular walk, I began with repeating over to myself in 
regular order a string of matters which I had in my 
memory, the multiplication table and the tables of 
weights and measures; the Kanaka numerals; then the 
States of the Union, with their capitals; the counties 
of England, with their shire towns, and the kings of 
England in their order, and other things. This carried 
me through my facts, and, being repeated deliberately, 
with long intervals, often eked out the first two bells. 
Then came the Ten Commandments, the thirty-ninth 
chapter of Job, and a few other passages from Scripture. 
The next in the order, which I seldom varied from, came 
Cowper's Castaway, which was a great favorite with me ; 
its solemn measure and gloomy character, as well as the 
incident it was founded upon, making it well suited to a 
lonely watch at sea. Then his lines to Mary, his ad- 
dress to the Jackdaw, and a short extract from Table 
Talk (I abounded in Cowper, for I happened to have 
a volume of his poems in my chest) ; ' Ille et nefasto " 
from Horace, and Goethe's Erl Konig. After I had got 
through these, I allowed myself a more general range 
among everything that I could remember, both in prose 
and verse. In this way, with an occasional break by 
relieving the wheel, heaving the log, and going to the 
scuttle-butt for a drink of water, the longest watch was 
passed away; and I was so regular in my silent recita- 
tions that, if there was no interruption by ship's duty, 
I could tell very nearly the number of bells by my 
progress. 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 407 

Our watches below were no more varied than the 
watch on deck. All washing, sewing, and reading 
was given up, and we did nothing but eat, sleep, and 
stand our watch, leading what might be called a Cape 
Horn life. The forecastle was too uncomfortable to sit 
up in ; and whenever we were below, we were in our 
berths. To prevent the rain and the sea-water which 
broke over the bows from washing down, we were 
obliged to keep the scuttle closed, so that the forecastle 
was nearly air-tight. In this little, wet, leaky hole, we 
were all quartered, in an atmosphere so bad that our 
lamp, which swung in the middle from the beams, some- 
times actually burned blue, with a large circle of foul air 
about it. Still, I was never in better health than after 
three weeks of this life. I gained a great deal of flesh, 
and we all ate like horses. At every watch when we 
came below, before turning in, the bread barge and beef 
kid were overhauled. Each man drank his quart of hot 
tea night and morning, and glad enough we were to get 
it; for no nectar and ambrosia were sweeter to the lazy 
immortals than was a pot of hot tea, a hard biscuit, and 
a slice of cold salt beef to us after a watch on deck. 
To be sure, we were mere animals, and, had this life 
lasted a year instead of a month, we should have been 
little better than the ropes in the ship. Not a razor, 
nor a brush, nor a drop of water, except the rain and 
the spray, had come near us all the time; for we were 
on an allowance of fresh water ; and who would strip and 
wash himself in salt water on deck, in the snow and ice, 
with the thermometer at zero ? 

After about eight days of constant easterly gales, the 
wind hauled occasionally a little to the southward, and 
blew hard, which, as we were well to the southward, 
allowed us to brace in a little, and stand on under all the 



4 o8 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

sail we could carry. These turns lasted but a short while, 
and sooner or later it set in again from the old quarter; 
yet at each time we made something, and were gradually 
edging along to the eastward. One night, after one of 
these shifts of the wind, and when all hands had been 
up a great part of the time, our watch was left on deck, 
with the mainsail hanging in the buntlines, ready to 
be set if necessary. It came on to blow worse and 
worse, with hail and snow beating like so many furies 
upon the ship, it being as dark and thick as night could 
make it. The mainsail was blowing and slatting with 
a noise like thunder, when the captain came on deck 
and ordered it to be furled. The mate was about to 
call all hands, when the captain stopped him, and said 
that the men would be beaten out if they were called 
up so often ; that, as our watch must stay on deck, it 
might as well be doing that as anything else. Ac- 
cordingly, we went upon the yard; and never shall I 
forget that piece of work. Our watch had been so 
reduced by sickness, and by some having been left in 
California, that, with one man at the wheel, we had only 
the third mate and three beside myself to go aloft; so 
that at most we could only attempt to furl one yard- 
arm at a time. We manned the weather yard-arm, 
and set to work to make a furl of it. Our lower 
masts being short, and our yards very square, the sail 
had a head of nearly fifty feet, and a short leech, made 
still shorter by the deep reef which was in it, which 
brought the clew away out on the quarters of the yard, 
and made a bunt nearly as square as the mizzen royal 
yard. Beside this difficulty, the yard over which we 
lay was cased with ice, the gaskets and rope of the 
foot and leech of the sail as stiff and hard as a piece of 
leather hose, and the sail itself about as pliable as 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 409 

though it had been made of sheets of sheathing copper. 
It blew a perfect hurricane, with alternate blasts of 
snow, hail, and rain. We had to fist the sail with bare 
hands. No one could trust himself to mittens, for if 
he slipped he was a gone man. All the boats were 
hoisted in on deck, and there was nothing to be lowered 
for him. We had need of every finger God had given 
us. Several times we got the sail upon the yard, but 
it blew away again before we could secure it. It re- 
quired men to lie over the yard to pass each turn of the 
gaskets, and when they were passed it was almost im- 
possible to knot them so that they would hold. Fre- 
quently we were obliged to leave off altogether and take 
to beating our hands upon the sail to keep them from 
freezing. After some time which seemed forever 
we got the weather side stowed after a fashion, and 
went over to leeward for another trial. This was still 
worse, for the body of the sail had been blown over to 
leeward, and, as the yard was a-cock-bill by the lying 
over of the vessel, we had to light it all up to wind- 
ward. When the yard-arms were furled, the bunt was 
all adrift again, which made more work for us. We 
got all secure at last, but we had been nearly an hour 
and a half upon the yard, and it seemed an age. It 
had just struck five bells when we went up, and eight 
were struck soon after we came down. This may seem 
slow work ; but considering the state of everything, and 
that we had only five men to a sail with just half as 
many square yards of canvas in it as the mainsail of the 
Independence, sixty-gun ship, which musters seven hun- 
dred men at her quarters, it is not wonderful that we were 
no quicker about it. We were glad enough to get on 
deck, and still more to go below. The oldest sailor in 
the watch said, as he went down, " I shall never forget 



4 io TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

that main yard ; it beats all my going a-fishing. Fun is 
fun, but furling one yard-arm of a course at a time, off 
Cape Horn, is no better than man-killing." 

During the greater part of the next two days, the wind 
was pretty steady from the southward. We had evidently 
made great progress, and had good hope of being soon up 
with the Cape, if we were not there already. We could 
put but little confidence in our reckoning, as there had 
been no opportunities for an observation, and we had 
drifted too much to allow of our dead reckoning being 
anywhere near the mark. If it would clear off enough to 
give a chance for an observation, or if we could make 
land, we should know where we were; and upon these, 
and the chances of falling in with a sail from the east- 
ward, we depended almost entirely. 

Friday, July 22d. This day we had a steady gale 
from the southward, and stood on under close sail, with 
the yards eased a little by the weather braces, the clouds 
lifting a little, and showing signs of breaking away. In 
the afternoon, I was below with Mr. Hatch, the third 
mate, and two others, filling the bread locker in the steer- 
age from the casks, when a bright gleam of sunshine 
broke out and shone down the companionway, and 
through the skylight, lighting up everything below, and 
sending a warm glow through the hearts of all. It was a 
sight we had not seen for weeks, an omen, a godsend. 
Even the roughest and hardest face acknowledged its 
influence. Just at that moment we heard a loud shout 
from all parts of the deck, and the mate called out down 
the companion-way to the captain, who was sitting in 
the cabin. What he said we could not distinguish, but the 
captain kicked over his chair, and was on deck at one 
jump. We could not tell what it was; and, anxious as 
we were to know, the discipline of the ship would not 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 411 

alfow of our leaving our places. Yet, as we were not 
called, we knew there was no danger. We hurried to get 
through with our job, when, seeing the steward's black 
face peering out of the pantry, Mr. Hatch hailed him to 
know what was the matter. " Lan' o, to be sure, sir ! 
No you hear 'em sing out, ' Lan' o ? ' De cap'em say 'im 
Cape Horn ! " 

This gave us a new start, and we were soon through 
our work and on deck ; and there lay the land, fair upon 
the larboard beam, and slowly edging away upon the 
quarter. All hands were busy looking at it, the cap- 
tain and mates from the quarter-deck, the cook from 
his galley, and the sailors from the forecastle; and even 
Mr. Nuttall, the passenger, who had kept in his shell for 
nearly a month, and hardly been seen by anybody, and 
whom we had almost forgotten was on board, came out 
like a butterfly, and was hopping round as bright as a bird. 

The land was the island of Staten Land, just to the 
eastward of Cape Horn ; and a more desolate-looking 
spot I never wish to set eyes upon, bare, broken, and 
girt with rocks and ice, with here and there, between 
the rocks and broken hillocks, a little stunted vegetation 
of shrubs. It was a place well suited to stand at the 
junction of the two oceans, beyond the reach of human 
cultivation, and encounter the blasts and snows of a 
perpetual winter. Yet, dismal as it was, it was a pleas- 
ant sight to us ; not only as being the first land we had 
seen, but because it told us that we had passed the 
Cape, were in the Atlantic, and that, with twenty- 
four hours of this breeze, we might bid defiance to the 
Southern Ocean. It told us, too, our latitude and longi- 
tude better than any observation ; and the captain now 
knew where we were, as well as if we were off the end 
of Long Wharf. 



412 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

In the general joy, Mr. Nuttall said he should like to 
go ashore upon the island and examine a spot which 
probably no human being had ever set foot upon; but 
the captain intimated that he would see the island, speci- 
mens and all, in another place, before he would get 
out a boat or delay the ship one moment for him. 

We left the land gradually astern; and at sundown 
had the Atlantic Ocean clear before us. 




CHAPTER 
XXXIII 



IT is usual, in voyages round the Cape from the 
Pacific, to keep to the eastward of the Falkland 
Islands ; but as there had now set in a strong, 
steady, and clear southwester, with every prospect of 
its lasting, and we had had enough of high latitudes, 
the captain determined to stand immediately to the 
northward, running inside the Falkland Islands. Ac- 
cordingly, when the wheel was relieved at eight o'clock, 
the order was given to keep her due north, and all 
hands were turned up to square away the yards and 
make sail. In a moment the news ran through the ship 
that the captain was keeping her off, with her nose 
straight for Boston, and Cape Horn over her taffrail. 
It was a moment of enthusiasm. Every one was on the 
alert, and even the two sick men turned out to lend 
a hand at the halyards. The wind was now due south- 
west, and blowing a gale to which a vessel close hauled 
could have shown no more than a single close-reefed sail ; 
but as we were going before it, we could carry on. Ac- 
cordingly, hands were sent aloft, and a reef shaken out of 
the topsails, and the reefed foresail set. When we came 
to mast-head the topsail yards, with all hands at the hal- 
yards, we struck up " Cheerly, men," with a chorus 



414 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

which might have been heard half-way to Staten Land. 
Under her increased sail, the ship drove on through the 
water. Yet she could bear it well ; and the captain sang 
out from the quarter-deck, " Another reef out of that 
fore topsail, and give it to her ! " Two hands sprang 
aloft; the frozen reef-points and earings were cast 
adrift, the halyards manned, and the sail gave out her 
increased canvas to the gale. All hands were kept on deck 
to watch the effect of the change. It was as much as she 
could well carry, and with a heavy sea astern it took two 
men at the wheel to steer her. She flung the foam from 
her bows, the spray breaking aft as far as the gangway. 
She was going at a prodigious rate. Still everything 
held. Preventer braces were reeved and hauled taut, 
tackles got upon the backstays, and everything done to 
keep all snug and strong. The captain walked the deck 
at a rapid stride, looked aloft at the sails, and then to 
windward; the mate stood in the gangway, rubbing his 
hands, and talking aloud to the ship, " Hurrah, old 
bucket ! the Boston girls have got hold of the tow- 
rope ! '" and the like ; and we were on the forecastle, 
looking to see how the spars stood it, and guessing the 
rate at which she was going, when the captain called 
out " Mr. Brown, get up the topmast studding-sail ! 
What she can't carry she may drag ! " The mate looked 
a moment ; but he would let no one be before him in 
daring. He sprang forward. " Hurrah, men ! rig out 
the topmast studding-sail boom ! Lay aloft, and I '11 
send the rigging up to you ! " We sprang aloft into the 
top; lowered a girt-line down, by which we hauled up 
the rigging ; rove the tacks and halyards ; ran out the 
boom and lashed it fast, and sent down the lower hal- 
yards as a preventer. It was a clear starlight night, 
cold and blowing; but everybody worked with a will. 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 415 

Some, indeed, looked as though they thought the " old 
man " was mad, but no one said a word. We had had a 
iiew topmast studding-sail made with a reef in it, a 
thing hardly ever heard of, and which the sailors had 
ridiculed a good deal, saying that when it was time to 
reef a studding-sail it was time to take it in. But we 
found a use for it now; for, there being a reef in the 
topsail, the studding-sail could not be set without one 
in it also. To be sure, a studding-sail with reefed top- 
sails was rather a novelty; yet there was some reason 
in it, for if we carried that away we should lose only a 
sail and a boom ; but a whole topsail might have carried 
away the mast and all. 

While we were aloft the sail had been got out, bent 
to the yard, reefed, and ready for hoisting. Waiting 
for a good opportunity, the halyards were manned and 
the yard hoisted fairly up to the block; but when the 
mate came to shake the catspaw out of the downhaul, 
and we began to boom-end the sail, it shook the ship to 
her centre. The boom buckled up and bent like a whip- 
stick, and we looked every moment to see something go ; 
but, being of the short, tough upland spruce, it bent 
like whalebone, and nothing could break it. The car- 
penter said it was the best stick he had ever seen. The 
strength of all hands soon brought the tack to the 
boom-end, and the sheet was trimmed down, and the 
preventer and the weather brace hauled taut to take off 
the strain. Every rope-yarn seemed stretched to the 
utmost, and every thread of canvas; and with this sail 
added to her, the ship sprang through the water like a 
thing possessed. The sail being nearly all forward, it 
lifted her out of the water, and she seemed actually to 
jump from sea to sea. From the time her keel was laid, 
she had never been so driven ; and had it been life or 



416 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

death with every one of us, she could not have borne 
another stitch of canvas. 

Finding that she would bear the sail, the hands were 
sent below, and our watch remained on deck. Two men 
at the wheel had as much as they could do to keep her 
within three points of her course, for she steered as wild 
as a young colt. The mate walked the deck, looking at 
the sails, and then over the side to see the foam fly by 
her, --slapping his hands upon his thighs and talking 
to the ship, " Hurrah, you jade; you 've got the scent ! 
- you know where you 're going ! " And when she 
leaped over the seas, and almost out of the water, and 
trembled to her very keel, the ^pars and masts snapping 
and creaking, " There she goes ! There she goes, 
handsomely ? As long as she cracks she holds ! " 
while we stood with the rigging laid down fair for letting 
go, and ready to take in sail and clear away, if anything 
went. At four bells we hove the log, and she was going 
eleven knots fairly; and had it not been for the sea 
from aft which sent the chip home, and threw her con- 
tinually off her course, the log would have shown her to 
have been going somewhat faster. I went to the wheel 
with a young fellow from the Kennebec, Jack Stewart, 
who was a good helmsman, and for two hours we 
had our hands full. A few minutes showed us that 
our monkey-jackets must come off; and, cold as it 
was, we stood in our shirt-sleeves in a perspiration, 
and were glad enough to have it eight bells, and the 
wheel relieved. We turned-in and slept as well as 
we could, though the sea made a constant roar under 
her bows, and washed over the forecastle like a small 
cataract. 

At four o'clock we were called again. The same sail 
was still on the vessel, and the gale, if there was any 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 417 

change, had increased a little. No attempt was made to 
take the studding-sail in ; and, indeed, it was too late now. 
If we had started anything toward taking it in, either tack 
or halyards, it would have blown to pieces, and carried 
something away with it. The only way now was to let 
everything stand, and if the gale went down, well and 
good; if not, something must go, --the weakest stick or 
rope first, and then we could get it in. For more than 
an hour she was driven on at such a rate that she seemed 
to crowd the sea into a heap before her ; and the water 
poured over the spritsail yard as it would over a dam. 
Toward daybreak the gale abated a little, and she was 
just beginning to go more easily along, relieved of the 
pressure, when Mr. Brown, determined to give her no 
respite, and depending upon the wind's subsiding as the 
sun rose, told us to get along the lower studding-sail. 
This was an immense sail, and held wind enough to last 
a Dutchman a week, hove-to. It was soon ready, 
the boom topped up, preventer guys rove, and the idlers 
called up to man the halyards ; yet such was still the 
force of the gale that we were nearly an hour setting 
the sail ; carried away the outhaul in doing it, and came 
very near snapping off the swinging boom. No sooner 
was it set than the ship tore on again like one mad, and 
began to steer wilder than ever. The men at the wheel 
were puffing and blowing at their work, and the helm 
was going hard up and hard down, constantly. Add to 
this, the gale did not lessen as the day came on, but the 
sun rose in clouds. A sudden lurch threw the man from 
the weather wheel across the deck and against the side. 
The mate sprang to the wheel, and the man, regaining 
his feet, seized the spokes, and they hove the wheel up 
just in time to save the ship from broaching to, though 
as she came up the studding-sail boom stood at an angle 



4 i8 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

of forty-five degrees. She had evidently more on her 
than she could bear; yet it was in vain to try to take 
it in, --the clew-line was not strong enough, and they 
were thinking of cutting away, when another wide yaw 
and a come-to snapped the guys, and the swinging 
boom came in with a crash against the lower rigging. 
The outhaul block gave way, and the topmast studding- 
sail boom bent in a manner which I never before sup- 
posed a stick could bend. I had my eye on it when the 
guys parted, and it made one spring and buckled up so 
as to form nearly a half-circle, and sprang out again to 
its shape. The clew-line gave way at the first pull ; 
the cleat to which the halyards were belayed was 
wrenched off, and the sail blew round the spritsail yard 
and head guys, which gave us a bad job to get it in. A 
half-hour served to clear all away, and she was suffered to 
drive on with her topmast studding-sail set, it being as 
much as she could stagger under. 

During all this day and the next night we went on 
under the same sail, the gale blowing with undiminished 
violence ; two men at the wheel all the time ; watch and 
watch, and nothing to do but to steer and look out for the 
ship, and be blown along ; until the noon of the next 
day, 

Sunday, July 24th, when we were in lat. 50 27' S., 
Ion. 62 13' W., having made four degrees of lati- 
tude in the last twenty-four hours. Being now to the 
northward of the Falkland Islands, the ship was kept off, 
northeast, for the equator; and with her head for the 
equator, and Cape Horn over her taffrail, she went glo- 
riously on ; every heave of the sea leaving the Capo 
astern, and every hour bringing us nearer to home and 
to warm weather. Many a time, when blocked up in the 
ice, with everything dismal and discouraging about us, 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 419 

had we said, if we were only fairly round, and stand- 
ing north on the other side, we should ask for no more; 
and now we had it all, with a clear sea and as much 
wind as a sailor could pray for. If the best part of a 
voyage is the last part, surely we had all now that we 
could wish. Every one was in the highest spirits, and 
the ship seemed as glad as any of us at getting out of 
her confinement. At each change of the watch, those 
coming on deck asked those going below, " How does 
she go along? " and got, for answer, the rate, and the cus- 
tomary addition, " Aye ! and the Boston girls have had 
hold of the tow-rope all the watch." Every day the sun 
rose higher in the horizon, and the nights grew shorter; 
and at coming on deck each morning there was a sensible 
change in the temperature. The ice, too, began to melt 
from off the rigging and spars, and, except a little 
which remained in the tops and round the hounds of the 
lower masts, was soon gone. As we left the gale behind 
us, the reefs were shaken out of the topsails, and sail 
made as fast as she could bear it; and every time all 
hands were sent to the halyards a song was called for, 
and we hoisted away with a will. 

Sail after sail was added, as we drew into fine weather ; 
and in one week after leaving Cape Horn, the long top- 
gallant-masts were got up, top-gallant and royal yards 
crossed, and the ship restored to her fair proportions. 

The Southern Cross and the Magellan Clouds settled 
lower and lower in the horizon ; and so great was our 
change of latitude that each succeeding night we sank 
some constellation in the south, and raised another in 
the northern horizon. 

Sunday, July jist. At noon we were in lat. 36 41* 
S., Ion. 38 08' W. ; having traversed the distance o 
two thousand miles, allowing for changes of course, in 



420 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

nine days. A thousand miles in four days and a half! 
This is equal to steam. 

Soon after eight o'clock the appearance of the ship 
gave evidence that this was the first Sunday we had yet 
had in fine weather. As the sun came up clear, with 
the promise of a fair, warm day, and, as usual on Sun- 
day, there was no work going on, all hands turned-to 
upon clearing out the forecastle. The wet and soiled 
clothes which had accumulated there during the past 
month were brought up on deck; the chests moved; 
brooms, buckets of water, swabs, scrubbing-brushes, and 
scrapers carried down and applied, until the forecastle 
floor was as white as chalk, and everything neat and 
in order. The bedding from the berths was then spread 
on deck, and dried and aired ; the deck-tub filled with 
water; and a grand washing begun of all the clothes 
which were brought up. Shirts, frocks, drawers, trou- 
sers, jackets, stockings, of every shape and color, wet 
and dirty, many of them mouldy from having been 
lying a long time wet in a foul corner, these were all 
washed and scrubbed out, and finally towed overboard for 
half an hour; and then made fast in the rigging to dry. 
Wet boots and shoes were spread out to dry in sunny 
places on deck; and the whole ship looked like a back 
yard on a washing-day. After we had done with our 
clothes, we began upon our persons. A little fresh 
water, which we had saved from our allowance, was put 
in buckets, and, with soap and towels, we had what 
sailors call a fresh-water wash. The same bucket, to be 
sure, had to go through several hands, and was spoken 
for by one after another, but as we rinsed off in salt 
water, pure from the ocean, and the fresh was used only 
to start the accumulated grime and blackness of five 
weeks, it was held of little consequence. We soaped 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 421 

down and scrubbed one another with towels and pieces 
of canvas, stripping to it; and then, getting into the 
head, threw buckets of water upon each other. After 
this came shaving, and combing, and brushing; and 
when, having spent the first part of the day in this way, 
we sat down on the forecastle, in the afternoon, with 
clean duck trousers and shirts on, washed, shaved, and 
combed, and looking a dozen shades lighter for it, read- 
ing, sewing, and talking at our ease, with a clear sky 
and warm sun over our heads, a steady breeze over the 
larboard quarter, studding-sails out alow and aloft, and 
all the flying kites abroad, we felt that we had got 
back into the pleasantest part of a sailor's life. At sunset 
the clothes were all taken down from the rigging, - 
clean and dry, and stowed neatly away in our chests ; 
and our southwesters, thick boots, Guernsey frocks, and 
other accompaniments of bad weather, put -out of the 
way, we hoped, for the rest of the voyage, as we ex- 
pected to come upon the coast early in the autumn. 

Notwithstanding all that has been said about the 
beauty of a ship under full sail, there are very few who 
have ever seen a ship, literally, under all her sail. A 
ship coming in or going out of port, with her ordinary 
sails, and perhaps two or three studding-sails, is com- 
monly said to be under full sail; but a ship never has 
all her sail upon her, except when she has a light, steady 
breeze, very nearly, but not quite, dead aft, and so regu- 
lar that it can be trusted, and is likely to last for some 
time. Then, with all her sails, light and heavy, and stud- 
ding-sails, on each side, alow and aloft, she is the most 
glorious moving object in the world. Such a sight very 
few, even some who have been at sea a good deal, have 
ever beheld; for from the deck of your own vessel you 
cannot see her, as you would a separate object. 



422 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

One night, while we were in these tropics, I went out 
to the end of the fly ing- jib-boom upon some duty, and, 
having finished it, turned round, and lay over the boom 
for a long time, admiring the beauty of the sight before 
me. Being so far out from the deck, I could look at 
the ship as at a separate vessel ; and there rose up from 
the water, supported only by the small black hull, a 
pyramid of canvas, spreading out far beyond the hull, 
and towering up almost, as it seemed in the indistinct 
night air, to the clouds. The sea was as still as an in- 
land lake; the light trade-wind was gently and steadily 
breathing from astern; the dark blue sky was studded 
with the tropical stars; there was no sound but the rip- 
pling of the water under the stem ; and the sails were 
spread out, wide and high, the two lower studding- 
sails stretching on each side far beyond the deck; the 
topmast studding-sails like wings to the topsails ; the 
top-gallant studding-sails spreading fearlessly out above 
them ; still higher, the two royal studding-sails, looking 
like two kites flying from the same string ; and, highest of 
all, the little skysail, the apex of the pyramid, seeming 
actually to touch the stars, and to be out of reach of 
human hand. So quiet, too, was the sea, and so steady 
the breeze, that if these sails had been sculptured marble 
they could not have been more motionless. Not a ripple 
upon the surface of the canvas ; not even a quivering of 
the extreme edges of the sail, so perfectly were they dis- 
tended by the breeze. I was so lost in the sight that I 
forgot the presence of the man who came out with me, 
until he said (for he, too, rough old man-of-war's-man as 
he was, had been gazing at the show), half to himself, still 
looking at the marble sails, " How quietly they do their 
work ! " 

The fine weather brought work with it, as the ship was 












HOW QUIETLY THEY DO THEIR WORK. 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 423 

to be put in order for coming into port. To give a lands- 
man some notion of what is done on board ship, it may 
be truly said that all the first part of a passage is spent 
in getting a ship ready for sea, and the last part in get- 
ting her ready for port. She is, as sailors say, like a 
lady's watch, always out of repair. The new, strong sails, 
which we had up off Cape Horn, were to be sent down, 
and the old set, which were still serviceable in fine 
weather, to be bent in their place ; all the rigging to be 
set up, fore and aft ; the masts stayed ; the standing 
rigging to be tarred down ; lower and topmast rigging 
to be rattled down, fore and aft ; the ship scraped in- 
side and out, and painted ; decks varnished ; new and 
neat knots, seizings and coverings, to be fitted ; and 
every part put in order, to look well to the owner's eye, 
and to all critics, on coming into Boston. This, of 
course, was a long matter; and all hands were kept on 
deck at work for the whole of each day, during the 
rest of the voyage. Sailors call this hard usage ; but 
the ship must be in crack order ; and " We 're homeward 
bound " was the answer to everything. 

We went on for several days, employed in this way, 
nothing remarkable occurring; and, at the latter part of 
the week, fell in with the southeast trades, blowing 
about east-southeast, which brought them nearly two 
points abaft our beam. They blew strong and steady, 
so that we hardly started a rope, until we were beyond 
their latitude. The first day of " all hands " one of 
those little incidents occurred, which are nothing in them- 
selves, but are great matters in the eyes of a ship's com- 
pany, as they serve to break the monotony of a voyage, 
and afford conversation to the crew for days afterwards. 
These things, too, are often interesting, as they show the 
customs and states of feeling on shipboard. 



424 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

In merchant vessels, the captain gives his orders, as 
to the ship's work, to the mate, in a general way, and 
leaves the execution of them, with the particular order- 
ing, to him. This has become so fixed a custom that it 
is like a law, and is never infringed upon by a wise mas- 
ter, unless his mate is no seaman ; in which case the 
captain must often oversee things for himself. This, 
however, could not be said of our chief mate, and he 
was very jealous of any encroachment upon the borders 
of his authority. 

On Monday morning the captain told him to stay 
the fore topmast plumb. He accordingly came forward, 
turned all hands to, with tackles on the stays and back- 
stays, coming up with the seizings, hauling here, belay- 
ing there, and full of business, standing between the 
knight-heads to sight the mast, when the captain 
came forward, and also began to give orders. This 
made confusion, and the mate left his place and went aft, 
saying to the captain : 

" If you come forward, sir, I '11 go aft. One is enough 
on the forecastle." 

This produced a reply, and another fierce answer; 
and the words flew, fists were doubled up, and things 
looked threateningly. 

" I 'm master of this ship." 

" Yes, sir, and I 'm mate of her, and know my place ! 
My place is forward, and yours is aft." 

' My place is where I choose ! I command the whole 
ship, and you are mate only so long as I choose ! " 

" Say the word, Captain Thompson, and I 'm done ! 
I can do a man's work aboard! I didn't come through 
the cabin windows ! If I 'm not mate, I can be man," 
&c., &c. 

This was all fun for us, who stood by, winking at 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 425 

each other, and enjoying the contest between the higher 
powers. The captain took the mate aft ; and they had 
a long talk, which ended in the mate's returning to his 
duty. The captain had broken through a custom, which 
is a part of the common law of a ship, and without 
reason, for he knew that his mate was a sailor, and 
needed no help from him ; and the mate was excusable 
for being angry. Yet, in strict law, he was wrong, and 
the captain right. Whatever the captain does is right, 
ipso facto, and any opposition to it is wrong on board 
ship ; and every officer and man knows this when he 
signs the ship's articles. It is a part of the contract. 
Yet there has grown up in merchant vessels a series of 
customs, which have become a well-understood system, 
and have somewhat the force of prescriptive law r . To 
be sure, all power is in the captain, and the officers hold 
their authority only during his will, and the men are 
liable to be called upon for any service ; yet, by breaking 
in upon these usages, many difficulties have occurred 
on board ship, and even come into courts of justice, 
which are perfectly unintelligible to any one not ac- 
quainted with the universal nature and force of these 
customs. Many a provocation has been offered, and a 
system of petty oppression pursued towards men, the 
force and meaning of which would appear as nothing to 
strangers, and doubtless do appear so to many ' ' 'long- 
shore " juries and judges. 

The next little diversion was a battle on the fore- 
castle, one afternoon, between the mate and the stew- 
ard. They had been on bad terms the whole voyage, 
and had threatened a rupture several times. Once, on 
the coast, the mate had seized the steward, when the 
steward suddenly lowered his head, and pitched it 
straight into Mr. Brown's stomach, butting him against 



426 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

the galley, grunting at every shove, and calling out 
" You Brown ! " Mr. Brown looked white in the face, 
and the heaviest blows he could give seemed to have no 
effect on the negro's head. He was pulled off by the 
second mate, and Mr. Brown was going at him again, 
when the captain separated them ; and Mr. Brown told 
his tale to the captain, adding " and, moreover, he called 
me Brown!'' From this time "moreover, he called me 
Brown," became a by-word on board. Mr. Brown went 
aft, saying, " I 've promised it to you, and now you 've 
got it." But he did not seem to be sure which had 
" got it " ; nor did we. We knew Mr. Brown would not 
leave the thing in that equivocal position all the voyage, 
if he could help it. This afternoon the mate asked the 
steward for a tumbler of water, and he refused to get it 
for him, saying that he waited upon nobody but the cap- 
tain; and here he had the custom on his side. But, in 
answering, he committed the unpardonable offence of 
leaving off the handle to the mate's name. This enraged 
the mate, who called him a " black soger," and at it they 
went, clenching, striking, and rolling over and over; 
while we stood by, looking on and enjoying the fun. 
The darkey tried to butt him, as before, but the mate got 
him down, and held him, the steward singing out, " Let 
me go, Mr. Brown, or there '11 be blood spilt ! " In the 
midst of this, the captain came on deck, separated them, 
took the steward aft, and gave him half a dozen with a 
rope's end. The steward tried to justify himself, but he 
had been heard to talk of spilling blood, and that \vas 
enough to earn him his flogging; and the captain did 
not choose to inquire any further. Mr. Brown was sat- 
isfied to let him alone after that, as he had, on the whole, 
vindicated his superiority in the eyes of the crew. 




XXXIV 



I 



same day, I met with one of those nar- 
row escapes which are so often happening in 
a sailor's life. I had been aloft nearly all 
the afternoon, at work, standing for as much as an hour 
on the fore top-gallant yard, which was hoisted up, and 
hung only by the tie ; when, having got through my work, 
I balled up my yarns, took my serving-board in my hand, 
laid hold deliberately of the top-gallant rigging, took one 
foot from the yard, and was just lifting the other, when 
the tie parted, and down the yard fell. I was safe, by my 
hold upon the rigging, but it made my heart beat quick. 
Had the tie parted one instant sooner, or had I stood 
an instant longer on the yard, I should inevitably have 
been thrown violently from the height of ninety or a 
hundred feet, overboard; or, what is worse, upon the 
deck. However, " a miss is as good as a mile " ; a say- 
ing which sailors very often have occasion to use. An 
escape is always a joke on board ship. A man would be 
ridiculed who should make a serious matter of it. A 
sailor knows too well that his life hangs upon a thread, 
to wish to be often reminded of it ; so, if a man has an 
escape, he keeps it to himself, or makes a joke of it. I 
have often known a man's life to be saved by an instant 



428 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

of time, or by the merest chance, the swinging of a 
rope, and no notice taken of it. One of our boys, 
off Cape Horn, reefing topsails of a dark night when 
there were no boats to be lowered away, and where, if a 
man fell overboard, he must be left behind, lost his 
hold of the reef-point, slipped from the foot-rope, and 
would have been in the water in a moment, when the 
man who was next to him on the yard, French John, 
caught him by the collar of his jacket, and hauled him 
up upon the yard, with, " Hold on, another time, you 

young monkey, and be d d to you ! " and that was 

all that was heard about it. 

Sunday, August ?th. Lat. 25 59' S., Ion. 27 o' W. 
Spoke the English bark Mary Catherine, from Bahia, 
bound to Calcutta. This was the first sail we had fallen 
in with, and the first time we had seen a human form or 
heard the human voice, except of our own number, for 
nearly a hundred days. The very yo-ho-ing of the sail- 
ors at the ropes sounded sociably upon the ear. She was 
an old, damaged-looking craft, with a high poop and top- 
gallant forecastle, and sawed off square, stem and stern, 
like a true English " tea-wagon," and with a run like a 
sugar-box. She had studding-sails out alow and aloft, 
with a light but steady breeze, and her captain said he 
could not get more than four knots out of her, and 
thought he should have a long passage. We w r ere going 
six on an easy bowline. 

The next day, about three P. M., passed a large 
corvette-built ship, close upon the wind, with royals 
and skysails set fore and aft, under English colors. She 
was standing south-by-east, probably bound round Cape 
Horn. She had men in her tops, and black mast-heads ; 
heavily sparred, with sails cut to a t, and other marks of 
a man-of-war. She sailed well, and presented a fine ap- 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 429 

pearance ; the proud, feudal-looking banner of St. George 
the cross in a blood-red field waving from the miz- 
zen. We probably were nearly as fine a sight, with our 
studding-sails spread far out beyond the ship on either 
side, and rising in a pyramid to royal studding-sails 
and skysails, burying the hull in canvas and looking like 
what the whalemen on the Banks, under their stump 
top-gallant-masts, call " a Cape Horn-er under a cloud 
of sail." 

Friday, August I2th. At daylight made the island of 
Trinidad, situated in lat. 20 28' S., Ion. 29 08' W. 
At twelve M., it bore N. W. l / 2 N., distant twenty-seven 
miles. It was a beautiful day, the sea hardly ruffled by 
the light trades, and the island looking like a small blue 
mound rising from a field of glass. Such a fair and peace- 
ful-looking spot is said to have been, for a long time, the 
resort of a band of pirates, who ravaged the tropical seas. 

Thursday, August i8th. At three P. M., made the 
island of Fernando Noronha, lying in lat. 3 55' S., 
Ion. 32 35' W. ; and between twelve o'clock Friday 
night and one o'clock Saturday morning crossed the equa- 
tor, for the fourth time since leaving Boston, in Ion. 
35 W. ; having been twenty-seven days from Staten 
Land, a distance, by the courses we had made, of more 
than four thousand miles. 

We were now to the northward of the line, and every 
day added to our latitude. The Magellan Clouds, the 
last sign of south latitude, had long been sunk, and 
the North Star, the Great Bear, and the familiar signs of 
northern latitudes, were rising in the heavens. Next to 
seeing land, there is no sight which makes one realize 
more that he is drawing near home, than to see the 
same heavens, under which he was born, shining at night 
over his head. The weather was extremely hot, with the 



430 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

usual tropical alternations of a scorching sun and squalls 
of rain; yet not a word was said in complaint of the 
heat, for we all remembered that only three or four 
weeks before we woul\i bs.ve given our all to be where 
we now were. We had a plenty of water, too, which we 
caught by spreading an awning, with shot thrown in to 
make hollows. These rain squalls came up in the man- 
ner usual between the tropics. A clear sky; burning, 
vertical sun ; work going lazily on, and men about decks 
with nothing but duck trousers, checked shirts, and straw 
hats ; the ship moving as lazily through the water ; the 
man at the helm resting against the wheel, with his hat 
drawn over his eyes ; the captain below, taking an after- 
noon nap; the passenger leaning over the taffrail, watch- 
ing a dolphin following slowly in our wake; the sail- 
maker mending an old topsail on the lee side of the 
quarter-deck; the carpenter working at his bench, in the 
waist; the boys making sinnet; the spun-yarn winch 
whizzing round and round, and the men walking slowly 
fore and aft with the yarns. A cloud rises to windward, 
looking a little black ; the skysails are brailed down ; the 
captain puts his head out of the companion-way, looks 
at the cloud, comes up, and begins to walk the deck. The 
cloud spreads and comes on ; the tub of yarns, the sail, 
and other matters, are thrown below, and the sky-light 
and booby-hatch put on, and the slide drawn over the 
forecastle. " Stand by the royal halyards " ; and the man 
at the wheel keeps a good weather helm, so as not to be 
taken aback. The squall strikes her. If it is light, the 
royal yards are clewed down, and the ship keeps on her 
way; but if the squall takes strong hold, the royals are 
clewed up, fore and aft; light hands lay aloft and furl 
them ; top-gallant yards are clewed down, flying-jib 
hauled down, and the ship kept off before it, the man 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 431 

at the helm laying out his strength to heave the wheel 
up to windward. At the same time a drenching rain, 
which soaks one through in an instant. Yet no one puts 
on a jacket or cap; for if it is only warm, a sailor does 
not mind a ducking ; and the sun will soon be out again. 
As soon as the force of the squall has passed, though to 
a common eye the ship would seem to be in the midst 
of it, " Keep her up to her course again ! " - " Keep 
her up, sir," (answer.) 1 ''Hoist away the top-gallant 
yards ! " " Run up the flying-jib ! " - " Lay aloft, you 
boys, and loose the royals ! " and all sail is on her again 
before she is fairly out of the squall; and she is going 
on in her course. The sun comes out once more, hotter 
than ever, dries up the decks and the sailors' clothes^ 
the hatches are taken off; the sail got up and spread 
on the quarter-deck; spun-yarn winch set a whirling 
again ; rigging coiled up ; captain goes below ; and 
every sign of an interruption disappears. 

These scenes, with occasional dead calms, lasting for 
hours, and sometimes for days, are fair specimens of the 
Atlantic tropics. The nights were fine; and as we had 
all hands all day, the watch were allowed to sleep on 
deck at night, except the man at the wheel, and one, 
lookout on the forecastle. This was not so much ex- 
pressly allowed as w r inked at. We could do it if we did 
not ask leave. If the lookout was caught napping, the 
whole watch was kept awake. We made the most of 
this permission, and stowed ourselves away upon the rig- 
ging, under the weather rail, on the spars, under the 
windlass, and in all the snug corners ; and frequently 
slept out the watch, unless we had a wheel or a lookout. 
And we were glad enough to get this rest ; for under the 

1 A man at the wheel is required to repeat every order given him. 
A simple "Aye, aye, sir," is not enough there. 



432 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

" all-hands " system, out of every other thirty-six hours 
we had only four below ; and even an hour's sleep was a 
gain not to be neglected. One would have thought so 
to have seen our watch some nights, sleeping through a 
heavy rain. And often have we come on deck, and, find- 
ing a dead calm and a light, steady rain, and determined 
not to lose our sleep, have laid a coil of rigging down 
so as to keep us out of the water which was washing 
about decks, and stowed ourselves away upon it, cover- 
ing a jacket over us, and slept as soundly as a Dutchman 
between two feather-beds. 

For a week or ten days after crossing the line, we had 
the usual variety of calms, squalls, head winds, and fair 
winds, --at one time braced sharp upon the wind, with 
a taut bowline, and in an hour after slipping quietly 
along, with a light breeze over the taffrail, and studding- 
sails set out on both sides, --until we fell in with the 
northeast trade-winds ; which we did on the afternoon 
of- 

Sunday, August 28th, in lat. 12 N. The trade- wind 
clouds had been in sight for a day or two previously, 
and we expected to take the trades every hour. The light 
southerly breeze, which had been breathing languidly 
during the first part of the day, died away toward noon, 
and in its place came puffs from the northeast, which 
caused us to take in our studding-sails and brace up; 
and, in a couple of hours more, we were bowling glori- 
ously along, dashing the spray far ahead and to leeward, 
with the cool, steady northeast trades freshening up the 
sea, and giving us as much as we could carry our royals 
to. These winds blew strong and steady, keeping us 
generally upon a bowline, as our course was about north- 
northwest ; and, sometimes, as they veered a little to the 
eastward, giving us a chance at a main top-gallant 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 433 

studding-sail, and sending us well to the northward, 
until 

Sunday, September 4th, when they left us in lat. 22 
N., Ion. 51 W., directly under the tropic of Cancer. 

For several days we lay " humbugging about " in the 
Horse latitudes, with all sorts of winds and weather, and 
occasionally, as we were in the latitude of the West 
Indies, a thunder-storm. It was hurricane month, too, 
and we were just in the track of the tremendous hurri- 
cane of 1830, which swept the North Atlantic, destroying 
almost everything before it. 

The first night after the trade- winds left us, while we 
were in the latitude of the island of Cuba, we had a 
specimen of a true tropical thunder-storm. A light breeze 
had been blowing from aft during the first part of the 
night, which gradually died away, and before midnight 
it was dead calm, and a heavy black cloud had shrouded 
the whole sky. When our watch came on deck at twelve 
o'clock, it was as black as Erebus ; the studding-sails were 
all taken in, and the royals furled ; not a breath was 
stirring; the sails hung heavy and motionless from the 
yards; and the stillness and the darkness, which was 
almost palpable, were truly appalling. Not a word was 
spoken, but every one stood as though waiting for some- 
thing to happen. In a few minutes the mate came for- 
ward, and in a low tone, which was almost a whisper, told 
us to haul down the jib. The fore and mizzen top- 
gallant sails were taken in in the same silent manner ; 
and we lay motionless upon the water, with an uneasy ex- 
pectation, which, from the long suspense, became actually 
painful. We could hear the captain walking the deck, 
but it was too dark to see anything more than one's 
hand before the face. Soon the mate came forward 
again, and gave an order, in a low tone, to clew up the 



434 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

main top-gallant-sail ; and so infectious was the awe and 
silence that the clew-lines and buntlines were hauled up 
without any singing out at the ropes. An English lad 
and myself went up to furl it; and we had just got the 
bunt up, when the mate called out to us something, we 
did not hear what, but, supposing it to be an order 
to bear-a-hand, we hurried and made all fast, and came 
down, feeling our way among the rigging. When we 
got down we found all hands looking aloft, and there, 
directly over where we had been standing, upon the 
main top-gallant mast-head, was a ball of light, which the 
sailors call a corposant (corpus sancti), and which the 
mate had called out to us to look at. They were all 
watching it carefully, for sailors have a notion that if the 
corposant rises in the rigging it is a sign of fair weather, 
but if it comes lower down there will be a storm. Un- 
fortunately, as an omen, it came down, and showed itself 
on the top-gallant yard-arm. We were off the yard in 
good season, for it is held a fatal sign to have the pale 
light of the corposant thrown upon one's face. As it 
was, the English lad did not feel comfortably at having 
had it so near him, and directly over his head. In a 
few minutes it disappeared, and showed itself again on 
the fore top-gallant yard; and, after playing about for 
some time, disappeared once more, when the man on 
the forecastle pointed to it upon the flying-jib-boom-end. 
But our attention was drawn from watching this, by the 
falling of some drops of rain, and by a perceptible in- 
crease of the darkness, which seemed suddenly to add a 
new shade of blackness to the night. In a few minutes, 
low, grumbling thunder was heard, and some random 
flashes of lightning came from the southwest. Every 
sail was taken in but the topsails; still, no squall ap- 
peared to be coming. A few puffs lifted the topsails, 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 435 

but they fell again to the mast, and all was as still as 
ever. A moment more, and a terrific flash and peal 
broke simultaneously upon us, and a cloud appeared to 
open directly over our heads, and let down the water in 
one body, like a falling- ocean. We stood motionless, and 
almost stupefied ; yet nothing had been struck. Peal 
after peal rattled over our heads, with a sound which 
seemed actually to stop the breath in the body, and the 
" speedy gleams " kept the whole ocean in a glare of 
light. The violent fall of rain lasted but a few minutes, 
and was followed by occasional drops and showers ; but 
the lightning continued incessant'for several hours, break- 
ing the midnight darkness with irregular and blinding 
flashes. During all this time there was not a breath 
stirring, and we lay motionless, like a mark to be shot 
at, probably the only object on the surface of the ocean 
for miles and miles. We stood hour after hour, until 
our watch was out, and we were relieved, at four o'clock. 
During all this time hardly a word was spoken; no 
bells were struck, and the wheel was silently relieved. The 
rain fell at intervals in heavy showers, and we stood 
drenched through and blinded by the flashes, which broke 
the Egyptian darkness with a brightness that seemed 
almost malignant ; while the thunder rolled in peals, the 
concussion of which appeared to shake the very ocean. A 
ship is not often injured by lightning, for the electricity 
is separated by the great number of points she presents, 
and the quantity of iron which she has scattered in 
various parts. The electric fluid ran over our anchors, 
topsail sheets and ties; yet no harm was done to us. 
We went below at four o'clock, leaving things in the 
same state. It is not easy to sleep when the very next 
flash may tear the ship in two, or set her on fire ; or 
where the deathlike calm may be broken by the blast 



436 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

of a hurricane, taking the masts out of the ship. But 
a man is no sailor if he cannot sleep when he turns- 
in, and turn out when he 's called. And when, at seven 
bells, the customary " All the larboard watch, ahoy ! " 
brought us on deck, it was a fine, clear, sunny morning, 
the ship going leisurely along, with a soft breeze and all 
sail set. 




CHAPTER 
XXXV 



FROM the latitude of the West Indies, until we 
got inside the Bermudas, where we took the 
westerly and southwesterly winds, which blow 
steadily off the coast of the United States early 
in the autumn, we had every variety of weather, and 
two or three moderate gales, or, as sailors call them, 
double-reef-topsail breezes, which came on in the usual 
manner, and of which one is a specimen of all. A fine 
afternoon; all hands at work, some in the rigging, and 
others on deck; a stiff breeze, and ship close upon the 
wind, and skysails brailed down. Latter part of the 
afternoon, breeze increases, ship lies over to it, and clouds 
look windy. Spray begins to fly over the forecastle, and 
wets the yarns the boys are knotting ; ball them up and 
put them below. Mate knocks off work and clears up 
decks earlier than usual, and orders a man who has been 
employed aloft to send the royal halyards over to wind- 
ward, as he comes down. Breast back-stays hauled taut, 
and a tackle got upon the martingale back-rope. One of 
the boys furls the mizzen royal. Cook thinks there is 
going to be " nasty work," and has supper ready early. 
Mate gives orders to get supper by the watch, instead of 
all hands, as usual. While eating supper, hear the watch 



438 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

on deck taking in the royals. Corning on deck, find it 
is blowing harder, and an ugly head sea running. In- 
stead of having all hands on the forecastle in the dog 
watch, smoking, singing, and telling yarns, one watch 
goes below and turns-in, saying that it 's going to be an 
ugly night, and two hours' sleep is not to be lost. Clouds 
look black and wild; wind rising, and ship working 
hard against a heavy head sea, which breaks over the 
forecastle, and washes aft through the scuppers. Still, 
no more sail is taken in, for the captain is a driver, and, 
like all drivers, very partial to his top-gallant-sails. A 
top-gallant-sail, too, makes the difference between a breeze 
and a gale. When a top-gallant-sail is on a ship, it is 
only a breeze, though I have seen ours set over a reefed 
topsail, when half the bowsprit was under water, and 
it was up to a man's knees in the lee scuppers. At 
eight bells, nothing is said about reefing the topsails, 
and the watch go below, with orders to " stand by for a 
call." We turn-in, growling at the " old man " for not 
reefing the topsails when the watch was changed, but 
putting it off so as to call all hands, and break up a 
whole watch below turn-in " all standing," and keep 
ourselves awake, saying there is no use in going to sleep 
to be waked up again. Wind whistles on deck, and ship 
works hard, groaning and creaking, and pitching into 
a heavy head sea, which strikes against the bows, with 
a noise like knocking upon a rock. The dim lamp in 
the forecastle swings to and fro, and things " fetch away " 
and go over to leeward. " Does n't that booby of a 
second mate ever mean to take in his top-gallant-sails? 
He '11 have the sticks out of her soon," says Old Bill, 
who was always growling, and, like most old sailors, 
did not like to see a ship abused. By and by, an order 
is given ; " Aye, aye, sir ! " from the forecastle ; rig- 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 439 

ging is thrown down on deck; the noise of a sail is 
heard fluttering aloft, and the short, quick cry which sail- 
ors make when hauling upon clew-lines. ;< Here comes 
his fore top-gallant-sail in ! " We are wide awake, and 
know all that 's going on as well as if we were on 
deck. A well-known voice is heard from the mast-head 
singing out to the officer of the watch to haul taut the 
weather brace. " Hallo ! There 's Ben Stimson aloft 
to furl the sail ! " Next thing, rigging is thrown down 
directly over our heads, and a long-drawn cry and a 
rattling of hanks announce that the flying-jib has come 
in. The second mate holds on to the main top-gallant-sail 
until a heavy sea is shipped, and washes over the fore- 
castle as though the whole ocean had come aboard ; when 
a noise further aft shows that that sail, too, is taking in. 
After this the ship is more easy for a time; two bells 
are struck, and we try to get a little sleep. By and by, 
bang, bang, bang, on the scuttle, " All ha-a-ands, 
aho-o-y ! " We spring out of our berths, clap on a 
monkey-jacket and south wester, and tumble up the lad- 
der. Mate up before us, and on the forecastle, singing 
out like 3. roaring bull ; the captain singing out on the 
quarter-deck, and the second mate yelling, like a hyena, 
in the waist. The ship is lying over half upon her 
beam-ends; lee scuppers under water, and forecastle 
all in a smother of foam. Rigging all let go, and wash- 
ing about decks ; topsail yards down upon the caps, 
and sails flapping and beating against the masts; and 
starboard watch hauling out the reef-tackles of the main 
topsail. Our watch haul out the fore, and lay aloft and 
put two reefs into it, and reef the foresail, and race with 
the starboard watch to see which will mast-head its top- 
sail first. All hands tally-on to the main tack, and 
while some are furling the jib and hoisting the staysail, we 



440 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

mizzen-top-men double-reef the mizzen topsail and hoist 
it up. All being made fast, " Go below, the watch ! " 
and we turn-in to sleep out the rest of the time, which is 
perhaps an hour and a half. During all the middle, and 
for the first part of the morning watch, it blows as hard 
as ever, but toward daybreak it moderates considerably, 
and we shake a reef out of each topsail, and set the top- 
gallant-sails over them; and when the watch come up, 
at seven bells, for breakfast, shake the other reefs out, 
turn all hands to upon the halyards, get the watch-tackle 
upon the top-gallant sheets and halyards, set the flying- 
jib, and crack on to her again. 

Our captain had been married only a few weeks be- 
fore he left Boston, and, after an absence of over two 
years, it may be supposed he was not slow in carry- 
ing sail. The mate, too, was not to be beaten by any- 
body; and the second mate, though he was afraid to 
press sail, was still more afraid of the captain, and, being 
between two fears, sometimes carried on longer than 
any of them. We snapped off three flying-jib-booms in 
twenty-four hours, as fast as they could be fitted and 
rigged out ; sprung the spritsail yard, and made nothing 
of studding-sail booms. Beside the natural desire to get 
home, we had another reason for urging the ship on. 
The scurvy had begun to show itself on board. One 
man had it so badly as to be disabled and off duty, and 
( the English lad, Ben, was in a dreadful state, and was 
daily growing worse. His legs swelled and pained him 
so that he could not walk; his flesh lost its elasticity, 
so that if pressed in it would not return to its shape; 
and his gums swelled until he could not open his mouth. 
His breath, too, became very offensive ; he lost all strength 
and spirit ; could eat nothing ; grew worse every day ; and, 
in fact, unless something was done for him, would be a 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 441 

dead man in a week, at the rate at which he was sink- 
ing. The medicines were all, or nearly all, gone, and if 
we had had a chest-full, they would have been of no use, 
for nothing but fresh provisions and terra firma has any 
effect upon the scurvy. This disease is not so common 
now as formerly, and is attributed generally to salt 
provisions, want of cleanliness, the free use of grease 
and fat (which is the reason of its prevalence among 
whalemen), and, last of all, to laziness. It never could 
have been from the last cause on board our ship ; nor 
from the second, for we were a very cleanly crew, kept 
our forecastle in neat order, and were more particular 
about washing and changing clothes than many better- 
dressed people on shore. It was probably from having 
none but salt provisions, and possibly from our having 
run very rapidly into hot weather, after our having been 
so long in the extremest cold. 

Depending upon the westerly winds which prevail off 
the coast in the autumn, the captain stood well to 
the westward, to run inside of the Bermudas, and 
in the hope of falling in with some vessel bound 
to the West Indies or the Southern States. The 
scurvy had spread no further among the crew, but 
there was danger that it might ; and these cases were 
bad ones. 

Sunday, September nth. Lat. 30 04' N., Ion. 63 
23' W. ; the Bermudas bearing north-northwest, distant 
one hundred and fifty miles. The next morning about 
ten o'clock, " Sail ho ! " was cried on deck ; and all 
hands turned up to see the stranger. As she drew 
nearer, she proved to be an ordinary-looking hermaphro- 
dite brig, standing south-southeast, and probably bound 
out from the Northern States to the West Indies, and 
was just the thing we wished to see. She hove-to for 



442 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

us, seeing that we wished to speak her, and we ran 
down to her, boom-ended our studding-sails, backed our 
main topsail, and hailed her : " Brig ahoy ! " " Hallo ! " 
" Where are you from, pray? " " From New York, bound 
to Curagoa." " Have you any fresh provisions to spare? " 
" Aye, aye ! plenty of them ! " We lowered away the 
quarter-boat instantly, and the captain and four hands 
sprang in, and were soon dancing over the water and 
alongside the brig. In about half an hour they returned 
with half a boat-load of potatoes and onions, and each 
vessel filled away and kept on her course. She proved to 
be the brig Solon, of Plymouth, from the Connecticut 
River, and last from New York, bound to the Spanish 
Main, with a cargo of fresh provisions, mules, tin bake- 
pans, and other notions. The onions were fresh; and 
the mate of the brig told the men in the boat, as he 
passed the bunches over the side, that the girls had strung 
them on purpose for us the day he sailed. We had 
made the mistake, on board, of supposing that a new 
President had been chosen the last winter, and, as we 
filled away, the captain hailed and asked who was Presi- 
dent of the United States. They answered, Andrew 
Jackson; but, thinking that the old General could not 
have been elected for a third time, we hailed again, and 
they answered, Jack Downing, and left us to correct the 
mistake at our leisure. 

Our boat's crew had a laugh upon one of our number, 
Joe, who was vain and made the best show of everything. 
The style and gentility of a ship and her crew depend 
upon the length and character of the voyage. An India 
or China voyage always is the tiling, and a voyage to 
the Northwest coast (the Columbia River or Russian 
America) for furs is romantic and mysterious, and if it 
takes the ship round the world, by way of the Islands 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 443 

and China, it out-ranks them all. The grave, slab-sided 
mate of the schooner leaned over the rail, and spoke to 
the men in our boat : " Where are you from ? " Joe 
answered up quick, " From the Nor'west coast.' 5 
" What 's your cargo ? " This was a poser ; but Joe was 
ready with an equivoke. " Skins," said he. " Here and 
there a horn?" asked the mate, in the dryest manner. 
The boat's crew laughed out, and Joe's glory faded. 
Apropos of this, a man named Sam, on board the Pil- 
grim, used to tell a story of a mean little captain in a 
mean little brig, in which he sailed from Liverpool to 
New York, who insisted on speaking a great, homeward- 
bound Indiaman, with her studding-sails out on both 
sides, sunburnt men in wide-brimmed hats on her decks, 
and a monkey and paroquet in her rigging, " rolling 
down from St. Helena." There was no need of his 
stopping her to speak her, but his vanity led him to do 
it, and then his meanness made him so awestruck that 
he seemed to quail. He called out, in a small, lisping 
voice, " What ship is that, pray ? " A deep-toned voice 
roared through the trumpet, " The Bashaw, from Can- 
ton, bound to Boston. Hundred and ten days out ! 
Where are you from ? " " Only from Liverpool, sir," he 
lisped, in the most apologetic and subservient voice. 
But the humor will be felt by those only who know the 
ritual of hailing at sea. No one says " sir," and the 
" only " was wonderfully expressive. 

It was just dinner-time when we filled away, and the 
steward, taking a few bunches of onions for the cabin, 
gave the rest to us, with a bottle of vinegar. We carried 
them forward, stowed them away in the forecastle, re- 
fusing to have them cooked, and ate them raw, with our 
beef and bread. And a glorious treat they were. The 
freshness and crispness of the raw onion, with the earthy 



444 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

taste, give it a great relish to one who has been a long 
time on salt provisions. We were ravenous after them. 
It was like a scent of blood to a hound. We ate them 
at every meal, by the dozen, and filled our pockets with 
them, to eat in our watch on deck; and the bunches, 
rising in the form of a cone, from the largest at the bot- 
tom, to the smallest, no larger than a strawberry, at the 
top", soon disappeared. The chief use, however, of the 
fresh provisions, was for the men with the scurvy. One 
of them was able to eat, and he soon brought himself 
to, by gnawing upon raw potatoes and onions ; but the 
other, by this time, was hardly able to open his mouth, 
and the cook took the potatoes raw, pounded them in a 
mortar, and gave him the juice to drink. This he 
swallowed, by the teaspoonful at a time, and rinsed it 
about his gums and throat. The strong earthy taste 
and smell of this extract of the raw potato at first pro- 
duced a shuddering through his whole frame, and, after 
drinking it, an acute pain, which ran through all parts 
of his body; but knowing by this that it was taking 
strong hold, he persevered, drinking a spoonful every 
hour or so, and holding it a long time in his mouth, until, 
by the effect of this drink, and of his own restored hope 
(for he had nearly given up in despair), he became so 
'well as to be able to move about, and open his mouth 
enough to eat the raw potatoes and onions pounded into 
a soft pulp. This course soon restored his appetite and 
strength, and in ten days after we spoke the Solon, so 
rapid was his recovery that, from lying helpless and 
almost hopeless in his berth, he was at the mast-head, 
furling a royal. 

With a fine southwest wind we passed inside of the 
Bermudas, and, notwithstanding the old couplet, which 
was quoted again and again by those who thought we 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 445 

should have one more touch of a storm before our 
long absence, 

" If the Bermudas let you pass, 
You must beware of Hatteras," 

we were to the northward of Hatteras, with good 
weather, and beginning to count, not the days, but the 
hours, to the time when we should be at anchor in 
Boston harbor. 

Our ship was in fine order, all hands having been 
hard at work upon her, from daylight to dark, every 
day but Sunday from the time we got into warm 
weather on this side the Cape. 

It is a common notion with landsmen that a ship is 
in her finest condition when she leaves port to enter 
upon her voyage, and that she comes home, after a 
long absence, 

" With over- weathered ribs and ragged sails; 
Lean, rent, and beggared by the strumpet wind." 

But so far from that, unless a ship meets with some 
accident, or comes upon the coast in the dead of winter, 
when work cannot be done upon the rigging, she is in 
her finest order at the end of the voyage. When she 
sails from port, her rigging is generally slack ; the masts 
need staying ; the decks and sides are black and dirty 
from taking in cargo; riggers' seizings and overhand 
knots in place of nice seamanlike work; and everything, 
to a sailor's eye, adrift. But on the passage home the 
fine weather between the tropics is spent in putting the 
ship in the neatest order. No merchant vessel looks 
better than an Indiaman, or a Cape Horn-er, after a 
long voyage, and captains and mates stake their reputa- 
tion for seamanship upon the appearance of their ships 



446 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

when they haul into the dock. All our standing rigging, 
fore and aft, was set up and tarred, the masts stayed, 
the lower and topmast rigging rattled down (or up, as 
the fashion now is) ; and so careful were our officers to 
keep the ratlines taut and straight, that we were obliged 
to go aloft upon the ropes and shearpoles with which the 
rigging was swifted in; and these were used as jury 
ratlines until we got close upon the coast. After thisi 
the ship was scraped, inside and out, decks, masts, booms, 
and all ; a stage being rigged outside, upon which we 
scraped her down to the water-line, pounding the rust 
off the chains, bolts, and fastenings. Then, taking two 
days of calm under the line, we painted her on the out- 
side, giving her open ports in her streak, and finishing 
off the nice work upon the stern, where sat Neptune in 
his car, holding his trident, drawn by sea horses ; and 
retouched the gilding and coloring of the cornucopia which 
oramented her billet-head. The inside was then painted, 
from the skysail truck to the waterways, the yards, 
black ; mast-heads and tops, white ; monkey-rail, black, 
white, and yellow ; bulwarks, green ; plank-shear, white ; 
waterways, lead-color, &c., &c. The anchors and ring- 
bolts, and other iron work, were blackened with coal-tar ; 
and the steward was kept at work, polishing the brass of 
the wheel, bell, capstan, &c. The cabin, too, was scraped, 
varnished, and painted; and the forecastle scraped and 
scrubbed, there being no need of paint and varnish for 
Jack's quarters. The decks were then scraped and var- 
nished, and everything useless thrown overboard ; among 
which, the empty tar barrels were set on fire and thrown 
overboard, of a dark night, and left blazing astern, light- 
ing up the ocean for miles. Add to all this labor the neat 
work upon the rigging, the knots, flemish-eyes, splices, 
seizings, coverings, pointings, and graftings which show 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 447 

a ship in crack order. The last preparation, and which 
looked still more like coming into port, was getting the 
anchors over the bows, bending the cables, rowsing the 
hawsers up from between decks, and overhauling the 
deep-sea lead-line. 

Thursday, September i$th. This morning the temper- 
ature and peculiar appearance of the water, the quan- 
tities of gulf-weed floating about, and a bank of clouds 
lying directly before us, showed that we were on the 
border of the Gulf Stream. This remarkable current, 
running northeast, nearly across the ocean, is almost 
constantly shrouded in clouds and is the region of 
storms and heavy seas. Vessels often run from a clear 
sky and light wind, with all sail, at once into a heavy 
sea and cloudy sky, with double-reefed topsails. A 
sailor told me that, on a passage from Gibraltar to Bos- 
ton, his vessel neared the Gulf Stream with a light 
breeze, clear sky, and studding-sails out, alow and aloft; 
while before it was a long line of heavy, black clouds, 
lying like a bank upon the water, and a vessel coming 
out of it, under double-reefed topsails, and with royal 
yards sent down. As they drew near, they began to 
take in sail after sail, until they were reduced to the 
same condition; and, after twelve or fourteen hours of 
rolling and pitching in a heavy sea, before a smart gale, 
they ran out of the bank on the other side, and were in 
fine weather again, and under their royals and skysails. 
As we drew into it, the sky became cloudy, the sea high, 
and everything had the appearance of the going off, or 
the coming on, of a storm. It was blowing no more 
than a stiff breeze; yet the wind being northeast, which 
is directly against the course of the current, made an 
ugly, chopping sea, which heaved and pitched the vessel 
about, so that we were obliged to send down the royal 



448 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

yards, and to take in our light sails. At noon, the ther- 
mometer, which had been repeatedly lowered into the 
water, showed the temperature to be seventy; which 
was considerably above that of the air, as is always 
the case in the centre of the Stream. A lad who had 
been at work at the royal-mast-head came down upon 
deck, and took a turn round the long-boat; and, look- 
ing pale, said he was so sick that he could stay aloft 
no longer, but was ashamed to acknowledge it to the 
officer. He went up again, but soon gave out and came 
down, and leaned over the rail, "as sick as a lady 
passenger." He had been to sea several years, and had, 
he said, never been sick before. He was made so by the 
irregular pitching motion of the vessel, increased by the 
height to which he had been above the hull, which is 
like the fulcrum of the lever. An old sailor, who was 
at work on the top-gallant yard, said he felt disagree- 
ably all the time, and was glad, when his job was done, 
to get down into the top, or upon deck. Another hand 
was sent to the royal-mast-head, who stayed nearly an 
hour, but gave up. The work must be done, and the mate 
sent me. I did very well for some time, but began at 
length to feel very unpleasantly, though I never had 
been sick since the first two days from Boston, and had 
been in all sorts of weather and situations. Still, I 
kept my place, and did not come down, until I had got 
through my work, which was more than two hours. The 
ship certainly never acted so before. She was pitched 
and jerked about in all manner of ways ; the sails seem- 
ing to have no steadying power over her. The tapering 
points of the masts made various curves against the sky 
overhead, and sometimes, in one sweep of an instant, 
described an arc of more than forty-five degrees, bring- 
ing up with a sudden jerk, which made it necessary to 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 449 

hold on with both hands, and then sweeping off in an- 
other long, irregular curve. I was not positively sick, 
and came down with a look of indifference, yet was 
not unwilling to get upon the comparative terra firma 
of the deck. A few hours more carried us through, and 
when we saw the sun go down, upon our larboard 
beam, in the direction of the continent of North America, 
we had left the banks of dark, stormy clouds astern, in 
the twilight. 




CHAPTER 
XXXVI 



F 



RIDAY, September i6th. Lat. 38 N., Ion. 
69 oo' W. A fine southwest wind; every 
hour carrying us nearer in toward the land. All 
hands on deck at the dog watch, and nothing talked 
about but our getting in; where we should make the 
land ; whether we should arrive before Sunday ; going to 
church ; how Boston would look ; friends ; wages paid ; 
and the like. Every one was in the best spirits ; and, the 
voyage being nearly at an end, the strictness of disci- 
pline was relaxed, for it was not necessary to order in a 
cross tone what all were ready to do with a will. The 
differences and quarrels which a long voyage breeds on 
board a ship were forgotten, and every one was friendly ; 
and two men, who had been on the eve of a fight half the 
voyage, were laying out a plan together for a cruise on 
shore. When the mate came forward, he talked to the 
men, and said we should be on George's Bank before to- 
morrow noon ; and joked with the boys, promising to 
go and see them, and to take them down to Marblehead 
in a coach. 

Saturday, ijth. The wind was light all day, which 
kept us back somewhat ; but a fine breeze springing up 
at nightfall, we were running fast in toward the laud. 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 451 

At six o'clock we expected to have the ship hove-to for 
soundings, as a thick fog 1 , coming up, showed we were 
near them ; but no order was given, and we kept on our 
way. Eight o'clock came, and the watch went below, 
and, for the whole of the first hour the ship was driving 
on, with studding-sails out, alow and aloft, and the night 
as dark as a pocket. At two bells the captain came on 
deck, and said a word to the mate, when the studding- 
sails were hauled into the tops, or boom-ended, the after 
yards backed, the deep-sea-lead carried forward, and 
everything got ready for sounding. A man on the sprit- 
sail yard with the lead, another on the cat-head with a 
handful of the line coiled up, another in the fore chains, 
another in the waist, and another in the main chains, 
each with a quantity of the line coiled away in his hand. 
"All ready there, forward?" "Aye, aye, sir!" 
" He-e-ave ! " " Watch ! ho ! watch ! " sings out the 
man on the spritsail yard, and the heavy lead drops 
into the water. " Watch ! ho ! watch ! " bawls the man 
on the cat-head, as the last fake of the coil drops from 
his hand, and "Watch! ho! watch!" is shouted by 
each one as the line falls from his hold, until it comes 
to the mate, who tends the lead, and has the line in 
coils on the quarter-deck. Eighty fathoms and no bot- 
tom! A depth as great as the height of St. Peters! 
The line is snatched in a block upon the swifter, and 
three or four men haul it in and coil it away. The after 
vards are braced full, the studding-sails hauled out 
again, and in a few minutes more, the ship had her whole 
way upon her. At four bells backed again, hove the 
lead, and soundings! at sixty fathoms! Hurrah for 
Yankee land! Hand over hand we hauled the lead in, 
and the captain, taking it to the light, found black mud 
on the bottom. Studding-sails taken in; after yards 



452 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

filled, and ship kept on under easy sail all night, the 
wind dying away. 

The soundings on the American coast are so regular 
that a navigator knows as well where he has made land 
by the soundings, as he would by seeing the land. Black 
mud is the soundings of Block Island. As you go toward 
Nantucket, it changes to a dark sand; then, sand and 
white shells; and on George's Banks, white sand; and 
so on. As our soundings showed us to be off Block 
Island, our course was due east, to Nantucket Shoals and 
the South Channel ; but the wind died away and left 
us becalmed in a thick fog, in which we lay the whole 
of Sunday. At noon of 

Sunday, i8th, Block Island bore, by calculation, N. 
W. Y^ W. fifteen miles ; but the fog was so thick all day 
that we could see nothing. 

Having got through the ship's duty, and washed and 
changed our clothes, we went below, and had a fine time 
overhauling our chests, laying aside the clothes we meant 
to go ashore in, and throwing overboard all that were 
worn out and good for nothing. Away went the woollen 
caps in which we had carried hides upon our heads, 
for sixteen months, on the coast of California ; the duck 
frocks for tarring down rigging; and the worn-out and 
darned mittens and patched woollen trousers which had 
stood the tug of Cape Horn. We hove them overboard 
with a good will ; for there is nothing like being quit 
of the very last appendages, remnants, and mementos of 
our hard fortune. We got our chests all ready for going 
ashore ; ate the last " duff " we expected to have on board 
the ship Alert; and talked as confidently about matters 
on shore as though our anchor were on the bottom. 

" Who '11 go to church with me a week from to-day ? " 

" I will," says Jack ; who said aye to everything. 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 453 

" Go away, salt water ! " says Tom. " As soon as I 
get both legs ashore, I 'm going to shoe my heels, and 
button my ears behind me, and start off into the bush, 
a straight course, and not stop till I 'm out of the sight 
of salt water ! " 

"Oh! belay that! If you get once moored, stem and 
stern, in old Barnes's grog-shop, with a coal fire ahead 
and the bar under your lee, you won't see daylight for 
three weeks ! " 

" No ! " says Tom, " I 'm going to knock off grog and 
go and board at the Home, and see if they won't ship 
me for a deacon ! " 

" And I," says Bill, " am going to buy a quadrant 
and ship for navigator of a Hingham packet ! " 

Harry White swore he would take rooms at the Tre- 
mont House and set up for a gentleman; he knew his 
wages would hold out for two weeks or so. 

These and the like served to pass the time while we 
were lying waiting for a breeze to clear up the fog and 
send us on our way. 

Toward night a moderate breeze sprang up; the fog, 
however, continuing as thick as before; and we kept on 
to the eastward. About the middle of the first watch, 
a man on the forecastle sang out, in a tone which showed 
that there was not a moment to be lost, " Hard up 
the helm ! " and a great ship loomed up out of the fog, 
coming directly down upon us. She luffed at the same 
moment, and we just passed each other, our spanker 
boom grazing over her quarter. The officer of the deck 
had only time to hail, and she answered, as she went 
into the fog again, something about Bristol. Probably 
a whaleman from Bristol, Rhode Island, bound out. 
The fog continued through the night, with a very light 
breeze, before which we ran to the eastward, literally 



454 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

feeling our way along. The lead was heaved every two 
hours, and the gradual change from black mud to sand 
showed that we were approaching Nantucket South 
Shoals. On Monday morning, the increased depth and 
dark-blue color of the water, and the mixture of shells 
and white sand which we brought up, upon sounding, 
showed that we were in the channel, and nearing 
George's; accordingly, the ship's head was put directly 
to the northward, and we stood on, with perfect confi- 
dence in the soundings, though we had not taken an ob- 
servation for two days, nor seen land ; and the difference 
of an eighth of a mile out of the way might put us 
ashore. Throughout the day a provokingly light wind 
prevailed, and at eight o'clock, a small fishing schooner, 
which we passed, told us we were nearly abreast of 
Chatham lights. Just before midnight, a light land- 
breeze sprang up, which carried us well along; and at 
four o'clock, thinking ourselves to the northward of Race 
Point, we hauled upon the wind and stood into the bay, 
west-northwest, for Boston light, and began firing guns 
for a pilot. Our watch went below at four o'clock, but 
could not sleep, for the watch on deck were banging 
away at the guns every few minutes. And indeed, we 
cared very little about it, for we were in Boston Bay; 
and if fortune favored us, we could all " sleep in " the 
' next night, with nobody to call the watch every four 
hours. 

We turned out, of our own will, at daybreak, to get a 
sight of land. In the gray of the morning, one or two 
small fishing smacks peered out of the mist; and when 
the broad day broke upon us, there lay the low sand- 
hills of Cape Cod over our larboard quarter, and before 
us the wide waters of Massachusetts Bay, with here 
and there a sail gliding over its smooth surface. As we 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 455 

drew in toward the mouth of the harbor, as toward a 
focus, the vessels began to multiply, until the bay seemed 
alive with sails gliding about in all directions ; some 
on the wind, and others before it, as they were bound 
to or from the emporium of trade and centre of the bay. 
It was a stirring sight for us, who had been months on 
the ocean without seeing anything but two solitary sails ; 
and over two years without seeing more than the three 
or four traders on an almost desolate coast. There were 
the little coasters, bound to and from the various towns 
along the south shore, down in the bight of the bay, and 
to the eastward ; here and there a square-rigged vessel 
standing out to seaward ; and, far in the distance, beyond 
Cape Ann, was the smoke of a steamer, stretching along 
in a narrow black cloud upon the water. Every sight was 
full of beauty and interest. We were coming back to our 
homes : and the signs of civilization and prosperity and 
happiness, from which we had been so long banished, 
were multiplying about us. The high land of Cape Ann 
and the rocks and shore of Cohasset were full in sight, 
the light-houses standing like sentries in white before 
the harbors; and even the smoke from the chimneys on 
the plains of Hingham was seen rising slowly in the 
morning air. One of our boys was the son of a bucket- 
maker ; and his face lighted up as he saw the tops of the 
well-known hills which surround his native place. About 
ten o'clock a little boat came bobbing over the water, 
and put a pilot on board, and sheered off in pursuit of 
other vessels bound in. Being now within the scope of 
the telegraph stations, our signals were run up at the 
fore; and in half an hour afterwards, the owner on 
'Change, or in his counting-room, knew that his ship was 
below; and the landlords, runners, and sharks in Ann 
Street learned that there was a rich prize for them down 



456 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

in the bay, a ship from round the Horn, with a crew 
to be paid off with two years' wages. 

The wind continuing very light, all hands were sent 
aloft to strip off the chafing gear ; and battens, parcel- 
lings, roundings, hoops, mats, and leathers came flying 
from aloft, and left the rigging neat and clean, stripped 
of all its sea bandaging. The last touch was put to the 
vessel by painting the skysail poles ; and I was sent up 
to the fore, with a bucket of white paint and a brush, 
and touched her off, from the truck to the eyes of the 
royal rigging. At noon we lay becalmed off the lower 
light-house; and, it being about slack water, we made 
little progress. A firing was heard in the direction of 
Hingham, and the pilot said there was a review there. 
The Hingham boy got wind of this, and said if the ship 
had been twelve hours sooner he should have been down 
among the soldiers, and in the booths, and having a 
grand time. As it was, we had little prospect of getting 
in before night. About two o'clock a breeze sprang up 
ahead, from the westward, and we began beating up 
against it. A full-rigged brig was beating in at the 
same time, and we passed each other in our tacks, 
sometimes one and sometimes the other working to wind- 
ward, as the wind and tide favored or opposed. It 
was my trick at the wheel from two till four; and I 
stood my last helm, making between nine hundred and 
a thousand hours which I had spent at the helms of our 
two vessels. The tide beginning to set against us, we 
made slow work; and the afternoon was nearly spent 
before we got abreast of the inner light. In the mean- 
while, several vessels were coming down, outward bound ; 
among which, a fine, large ship, with yards squared, 
fair wind and fair tide, passed us like a race-horse, the 
men running out upon her yards to rig out the studding- 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 457 

sail booms. Toward sundown the wind came off in flaws, 
sometimes blowing very stiff, so that the pilot took in 
the royals, and then it died away; when, in order to 
get us in before the tide became too strong, the royals 
were set again. As this kept us running up and down 
the rigging, one hand was sent aloft at each mast-head, 
to stand by to loose and furl the sails at the moment ol 
the order. I took my place at the fore, and loosed and 
furled the royal five times between Rainsford Island and 
the Castle. At one tack we ran so near to Rainsford 
Island that, looking down from the royal yard, the 
island, with its hospital buildings, nice gravelled walks, 
and green plats, seemed to lie directly under our yard- 
arms. So close is the channel to some of these islands, 
that we ran the end of our flying-jib-boom over one of 
the outworks of the fortifications on George's Island; 
and had an opportunity of seeing the advantages of that 
point as a fortified place ; for, in working up the channel, 
we presented a fair stem and stern, for raking, from 
the batteries, three or four times. One gun might have 
knocked us to pieces. 

We had all set our hearts upon getting up to town be- 
fore night and going ashore, but the tide beginning to run 
strong against us, and the wind, what there was of it, be- 
ing ahead, we made but little by weather-bowing the tide, 
and the pilot gave orders to cock-bill the anchor and 
overhaul the chain. Making two long stretches, which 
brought us into the roads, under the lee of the Castle, 
he clewed up the topsails, and let go the anchor; and 
for the first time since leaving San Diego, one hun- 
dred and thirty-five days, our anchor was upon bot- 
tom. In half an hour more, we were lying snugly, with 
all sails furled, safe in Boston harbor; our long voyage 
ended; the well-known scene about us; the dome of the 



458 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

State House fading in the western sky; the lights of the 
city starting into sight, as the darkness came on ; and at 
nine o'clock the clangor of the bells, ringing their accus- 
tomed peals ; among which the Boston boys tried to dis- 
tinguish the well-known tone of the Old South. 

We had just done furling the sails, when a beautiful 
little pleasure-boat luffed up into the wind, under our 
quarter, and the junior partner of the firm to which our 
ship belonged, Mr. Hooper, jumped on board. I saw him 
from the mizzen-topsail yard, and knew him well. He 
shook the captain by the hand, and went down into the 
cabin, and in a few minutes came up and inquired of the 
mate for me. The last time I had seen him I was in the 
uniform of an undergraduate of Harvard College, and 
now, to his astonishment, there came down from aloft a 
" rough alley " looking fellow, with duck trousers and red 
shirt, long hair, and face burnt as dark as an Indian's. 
We shook hands, and he congratulated me upon my re- 
turn and my appearance of health and strength, and said 
that my friends were all well. He had seen some of my 
family a few days before. I thanked him for telling me 
what I should not have dared to ask ; and if 

' The first bringer of unwelcome news 
Hath but a losing office; and his tongue 
Sounds ever after like a sullen bell," 

certainly I ought ever to remember this gentleman and 
his words with pleasure. 

The captain went up to town in the boat with Mr. 
Hooper, and left us to pass another night on board ship, 
and to come up with the morning's tide under command 
of the pilot. 

So much did we feel ourselves to be already at home, 
in anticipation, that our plain supper of hard bread and 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 459 

salt beef was barely touched ; and many on board, to 
whom this was the first voyage, could scarcely sleep. As 
for myself, by one of those anomalous changes of feeling 
of which we are all the subjects, I found that I was in a 
state of indifference for which I could by no means ac- 
count. A year before, while carrying hides on the coast, 
the assurance that in a twelvemonth we should see Bos- 
ton made me half wild ; but now that I was actually there, 
and in sight of home, the emotions which I had so long 
anticipated feeling I did not find, and in their place was 
a state of very nearly entire apathy. Something of the 
same experience was related to me by a sailor whose first 
voyage was one of five years upon the Northwest Coast. 
He had left home a lad, and when, after so many years 
of hard and trying experience, he found himself home- 
ward bound, such was the excitement of his feelings that, 
during the whole passage, he could talk and think of 
nothing else but his arrival, and how and when he should 
jump from the vessel and take his way directly home. 
Yet, when the vessel was made fast to the wharf and the 
crew dismissed, he seemed suddenly to lose all feeling 
about the matter. He told me that he went below and 
changed his dress ; took some water from the scuttle-butt 
and washed himself leisurely ; overhauled his chest, and 
put his clothes all in order ; took his pipe from its place, 
filled it, and, sitting down upon his chest, smoked it slowly 
for the last time. Here he looked round upon the fore- 
castle in which he had spent so many years, and being 
alone and his shipmates scattered, began to feel actually 
unhappy. Home became almost a dream ; and it was 
not until his brother (who had heard of the ship's 
arrival) came down into the forecastle and told him of 
things at home, and who were waiting there to see him, 
that he could realize where he was, and feel interest 



460 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

enough to put him in motion toward that place for 
which he had longed, and of which he had dreamed, for 
years. There is probably so much of excitement in pro- 
longed expectation that the quiet realizing of it pro- 
duces a momentary stagnation of feeling as well as of 
effort. It was a good deal so with me. The activity o( 
preparation, the rapid progress of the ship, the first 
making land, the coming up the harbor, and old scenes 
breaking upon the view, produced a mental as well as 
bodily activity, from which the change to a perfect still- 
ness, when both expectation and the necessity of labor 
failed, left a calmness, almost an indifference, from which 
I must be roused by some new excitement. And the 
next morning, when all hands were called, and we were 
busily at work, clearing the decks, and getting every- 
thing in readiness for going up to the wharves, load- 
ing the guns for a salute, loosing the sails, and manning 
the windlass, mind and body seemed to wake together. 
About ten o'clock a sea-breeze sprang up, and the 
pilot gave orders to get the ship under way. All hands 
manned the windlass, and the long-drawn " Yo, heave, 
ho ! " which we had last heard dying away among the 
desolate hills of San Diego, soon brought the anchor to 
the bows ; and, with a fair wind and tide, a bright sunny 
morning, royals and skysails set, ensign, streamer, sig- 
nals, and pennant flying, and with our guns firing, we 
came swiftly and handsomely up to the city. Off the 
end of the wharf, we rounded-to, and let go our anchor ; 
and no sooner was it on the bottom than the decks were 
filled with people : custom-house officers ; Topliff 's agent, 
to inquire for news; others, inquiring for friends on 
board, or left upon the coast; dealers in grease, besieg- 
ing the galley to make a bargain with the cook for his 
slush ; " loafers " in general ; and, last and chief, board- 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 461 

ing-house runners, to secure their men. Nothing can 
exceed the obliging disposition of these runners, and the 
interest they take in a sailor returned from a long voy- 
age with a plenty of money. Two or three of them, at 
different times, took me by the hand ; pretended to re- 
member me perfectly ; were quite sure I had boarded 
with them before I sailed; were delighted to see me 
back; gave me their cards; had a hand-cart waiting on 
the wharf, on purpose to take my things up ; would lend 
me a hand to get my chest ashore ; bring a bottle of grog 
on board if we did not haul in immediately ; and the 
like. In fact, we could hardly get clear of them to go 
aloft and furl the sails. Sail after sail, for the hun- 
dredth time, in fair weather and in foul, we furled now 
for the last time together, and came down and took the 
warp ashore, manned the capstan, and with a chorus 
which waked up half North End, and rang among the 
buildings in the dock, we hauled her in to the wharf. 1 
The city bells were just ringing one when the last turn 
was made fast and the crew dismissed ; and in five min- 
utes more not a soul was left on board the good ship 
Alert but the old ship-keeper, who had come down from 
the counting-house to take charge of her. 

1 [Sept. 21, 1836.] 



y- ?>*- ; Mi: 5 > f v T->&is^ 
^.^:mAv.:&:V.i^& 




TWENTY-FOUR YEARS AFTER 

IT was in the winter of 1835-6 that the ship Alert, in 
the prosecution of her voyage for hides on the remote 
and almost unknown coast of California, floated into 
the vast solitude of the Bay of San Francisco. All around 
was the stillness of nature. One vessel, a Russian, lay at 
anchor there, but during our whole stay not a sail came 
or went. Our trade was with remote Missions, which 
sent hides to us in launches manned by their Indians. 
Our anchorage was between a small island, called Yerba 
Buena, and a gravel beach in a little bight or cove of 
the same name, formed by two small, projecting points. 
Beyond, to the westward of the landing-place, were 
dreary sand-hills, with little grass to be seen, and few 
trees, and beyond them higher hills, steep and barren, 
their sides gullied by the rains. Some five or six miles 
beyond the landing-place, to the right, was a ruinous 
Presidio, and some three or four miles to the left was 
the Mission of Dolores, as ruinous as the Presidio, al- 
most deserted, with but few Indians attached to it, and 
but little property in cattle. Over a region far beyond 
our sight there were no other human habitations, except 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 463 

that an enterprising Yankee, years in advance of his 
time, had put up, on the rising ground above the land- 
ing, a shanty of rough boards, where he carried on a 
very small retail trade between the hide ships and the 
Indians. Vast banks of fog, invading us from the North 
Pacific, drove in through the entrance, and covered the 
whole bay ; and when they disappeared, we saw a few 
well-wooded islands, the sand-hills on the west, the grassy 
and wooded slopes on the east, and the vast stretch of 
the bay to the southward, where we were told lay the 
Missions of Santa Clara and San Jose, and still longer 
stretches to the northward and northeastward, where we 
understood smaller bays spread out, and large rivers 
poured in their tributes of waters. There were no settle- 
ments on these bays or rivers, and the few ranches and 
Missions were remote and widely separated. Not only 
the neighborhood of our anchorage, but the entire re- 
gion of the great bay, was a solitude. On the whole 
coast of California there was not a light-house, a beacon, 
or a buoy, and the charts were made up from old 
and disconnected surveys by British, Russian, and Mex- 
ican voyagers. Birds of prey and passage swooped 
and dived about us, wild beasts ranged through the oak 
groves, and as we slowly floated out of the harbor with 
the tide, herds of deer came to the water's edge, on 
the northerlv side of the entrance, to gaze at the strange 
spectacle. 

On the evening of Saturday, the I3th of August, 
1859, the superb steamship Golden Gate, gay with 
crowds of passengers, and lighting the sea for miles 
around with the glare of her signal lights of red, green, 
and white, and brilliant with lighted saloons and state- 
rooms, bound up from the Isthmus of Panama, neared 
the entrance to San Francisco, the great centre of a 



464 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

world-wide commerce. Miles out at sea, on the desolate 
rocks of the Farallones, gleamed the powerful rays of 
one of the most costly and effective light-houses in the 
world. As we drew in through the Golden Gate, an- 
other light-house met our eyes, and in the clear moon- 
light of the unbroken California summer we saw, on the 
right, a large fortification protecting the narrow entrance, 
and just before us the little island of Alcatraz confronted 
us, one entire fortress. We bore round the point 
toward the old anchoring-ground of the hide ships, and 
there, covering the sand-hills and the valleys, stretch- 
ing from the water's edge to the base of the great hills, 
and from the old Presidio to the Mission, flickering all 
over with the lamps of its streets and houses, lay a city 
of one hundred thousand inhabitants. Clocks tolled the 
hour of midnight from its steeples, but the city was 
alive from the salute of our guns, spreading the news 
that the fortnightly steamer had come, bringing mails 
and passengers from the Atlantic world. Clipper ships 
of the largest size lay at anchor in the stream, or were 
girt to the wharves ; and capacious high-pressure steam- 
ers, as large and showy as those of the Hudson or Mis- 
sissippi, bodies of dazzling light, awaited the delivery of 
our mails to take their courses up the Bay, stopping at 
Benicia and the United States Naval Station, and then up 
the great tributaries the Sacramento, San Joaquin, and 
Feather Rivers to the far inland cities of Sacramento, 
Stockton, and Marysville. 

The dock into which we drew, and the streets about 
it, were densely crowded with express wagons and hand- 
carts to take luggage, coaches and cabs for passengers, and 
with men, some looking out for friends among our hun- 
dreds of passengers, agents of the press, and a greater 
multitude eager for newspapers and verbal intelligence 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 465 

from the great Atlantic and European world. Through 
this crowd I made my way, along the well-built and 
well-lighted streets, as alive as by day, where boys in 
high-keyed voices were already crying the latest New 
York papers ; and between one and two o'clock in the 
morning found myself comfortably abed in a commodi- 
ous room, in the Oriental Hotel, which stood, as well 
as I could learn, on the filled-up cove, and not far 
from the spot where we used to beach our boats from 
the Alert. 

Sunday, August 141 h. When I awoke in the morning, 
and looked from my windows over the city of San Fran- 
cisco, with its storehouses, towers, and steeples ; its 
court-houses, theatres, and hospitals; its daily journals; 
its well-filled learned professions ; its fortresses and 
light-houses ; its wharves and harbor, with their thousand- 
ton clipper ships, more in number than London or Liver- 
pool sheltered that day, itself one of the capitals of 
the American Republic, and the sole emporium of a new 
world, the awakened Pacific ; when I looked across the 
bay to the eastward, and beheld a beautiful town on 
the fertile, wooded shores of the Contra Costa, and 
steamers, large and small, the ferryboats to the Contra 
Costa, and capacious freighters and passenger-carriers 
to all parts of the great bay and its tributaries, with lines 
of their smoke in the horizon, when I saw all these 
things, and reflected on what I once was and saw here, 
and what now surrounded me, I could scarcely keep my 
hold on reality at all, or the genuineness of anything, 
and seemed to myself like one who had moved in " worlds 
not realized." 

I could not complain that I had not a choice of places 
of worship. The Roman Catholics have an archbishop. 
a cathedral, and five or six smaller churches, French, 



466 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

German, Spanish, and English; and the Episcopalians a 
bishop, a cathedral, and three other churches ; the Meth- 
odists and Presbyterians have three or four each, and 
there are Congregationalists, Baptists, a Unitarian, and 
other societies. On my way to church, I met two class- 
mates of mine at Harvard standing in a door-way, one 
a lawyer and the other a teacher, and made appoint- 
ments for a future meeting. A little farther on I came 
upon another Harvard man, a fine scholar and wit, and 
full of cleverness and good-humor, who invited me to go 
to breakfast with him at the French house, he was a 
bachelor, and a late riser on Sundays. I asked him to 
show me the way to Bishop Kip's church. He hesitated, 
looked a little confused, and admitted that he was not as 
well up in certain classes of knowledge as in others, but, 
by a desperate guess, pointed out a wooden building at 
the foot of the street, which any one might have seen 
could not be right, and which turned out to be an African 
Baptist meeting-house. But my friend had many capi- 
tal points of character, and I owed much of the pleasure 
of my visit to his attentions. 

The congregation at the Bishop's church was precisely 
like one you would meet in New York, Philadelphia, or 
Boston. To be sure, the identity of the service makes 
one feel at once at home, but the people were alike, 
nearly all of the English race, though from all parts of 
the Union. The latest French bonnets were at the head 
of the chief pews, and business men at the foot. The 
music was without character, but there was an instructive 
sermon, and the church was full. 

I found that there were no services at any of the 
Protestant churches in the afternoon. They have two 
services on Sunday; at u A. M., and after dark. The 
afternoon is spent at home, or in friendly visiting, or 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 467 

teaching of Sunday Schools, or other humane and social 
duties. 

This is as much the practice with what at home are 
called the strictest denominations as with any others. 
Indeed, I found individuals, as well as public bodies, 
affected in a marked degree by a change of oceans and by 
California life. One Sunday afternoon I was surprised at 
receiving the card of a man whom I had last known, some 
fifteen years ago, as a strict and formal deacon of a Con- 
gregational Society in New England. He was a deacon 
still, in San Francisco, a leader in all pious works, de- 
voted to his denomination and to total abstinence, - - the 
same internally, but externally what a change! Gone 
was the downcast eye, the bated breath, the solemn, non- 
natural voice, the watchful gait, stepping as if he felt re- 
sponsible for the balance of the moral universe! He 
walked with a stride, an uplifted open countenance, his 
face covered with beard, whiskers, and mustache, his 
voice strong and natural, and, in short, he had put off 
the New England deacon and become a human being. 
In a visit of an hour I learned much from him about 
the religious societies, the moral reforms, the " Dash- 
aways," total abstinence societies, which had taken 
strong hold on the young and wilder parts of society, - 
and then of the Vigilance Committee, of which he was 
a member, and of more secular points of interest. 

In one of the parlors of the hotel, I saw a man of 
about sixty years of age, with his feet bandaged and 
resting in a chair, whom somebody addressed by the 
name of Lies. 1 Lies! thought I, that must be the man 
who came across the country from Kentucky to Monterey 
while we lay there in the Pilgrim in 1835, an< ^ made a 
passage in the Alert, when he used to shoot with his rifle 

1 Pronounced Leese. 



468 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

bottles hung from the top-gallant studding-sail-boom-ends, 
He married the beautiful Doiia Rosalia Vallejo, sister 
of Don Guadalupe. There were the old high features and 
sandy hair. I put my chair beside him, and began con- 
versation, as any one may do in California. Yes, he 
was the Mr. Lies; and when I gave my name he pro- 
fessed at once to remember me, and spoke of my book. I 
found that almost I might perhaps say quite every 
American in California had read it; for when California 
" broke out," as the phrase is, in 1848, and so large a 
portion of the Anglo-Saxon race flocked to it, there was 
no book upon California but mine. Many who were on 
the coast at the time the book refers to, and afterwards 
read it, and remembered the Pilgrim and Alert, thought 
they also remembered me. But perhaps more did re- 
member me than I was inclined at first to believe, for the 
novelty of a collegian coming out before the mast had 
drawn more attention to me than I was aware of at 
the time. 

Late in the afternoon, as there were vespers at the 
Roman Catholic churches, I went to that of Notre Dame 
des Victoires. The congregation was French, and a ser- 
mon in French was preached by an Abbe ; the music was 
excellent, all things airy and tasteful, and making one feel 
as if in one of the chapels in Paris. The Cathedral of 
St. Mary, which I afterwards visited, where the Irish at- 
tend, was a contrast indeed, and more like one of our 
stifling Irish Catholic churches in Boston or New York, 
with intelligence in so small a proportion to the number of 
faces. During the three Sundays I was in San Francisco, 
I visited three of the Episcopal churches, and the Congre- 
gational, a Chinese Mission Chapel, and on the Sabbath 
(Saturday) a Jewish synagogue. The Jews are a wealthy 
and powerful class here. The Chinese, too, are numer- 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 469 

cms, and do a great part of the manual labor and small 
shop-keeping, and have some wealthy mercantile houses. 
It is noticeable that European Continental fashions 
prevail generally in this city, French cooking, lunch 
=it noon, and dinner at the end of the day, with cafe noir 
after meals, and to a great extent the European Sunday, 

to all which emigrants from the United States and 
Great Britain seem to a'dapt themselves. Some dinners 
which were given to me at French restaurants were, it 
seemed to me, a poor judge of such matters, to be sure, 

as sumptuous and as good, in dishes and wines, as 
I have found in Paris. But I had a relish-maker which 
my friends at table did not suspect, the remembrance of 
the forecastle dinners I ate here twenty-four years before. 

August ijth. The customs of California are free; and 
any person who knows about my book speaks to me. 
The newspapers have announced the arrival of the vet- 
eran pioneer of all. I hardly walk out without meeting 
or making acquaintances. I have already been invited 
to deliver the anniversary oration before the Pioneer 
Society, to celebrate the settlement of San Francisco. 
Any man is qualified for election into this society who 
came to California before 1853. What moderns they 
are ! I tell them of the time when Richardson's shanty 
of 1835 not ms adobe house of 1836 was the only 
human habitation between the Mission and the Presidio, 
and when the vast bay, with all its tributaries and re- 
cesses, was a solitude, and yet I am but little past 
forty years of age. They point out the place where 
Richardson's adobe house stood, and tell me that the first 
court and first town council were convened in it, the first 
Protestant worship performed in it, and in it the first cap- 
ital trial by the Vigilance Committee held. I am taken 
down to the wharves, by antiquaries of a ten or twelve 



470 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

years' range, to identify the two points, now known as 
Clark's and Rincon, which formed the little cove of 
Yerba Buena, where we used to beach our boats, now 
filled up and built upon. The island we called " Wood 
Island," where we spent the cold days and nights of 
December, in our launch, getting wood for our year's 
supply, is clean shorn of trees; and the bare rocks of 
Alcatraz Island, an entire fortress. I have looked 
at the city from the water, and at the water and islands 
from the city, but I can see nothing that recalls the times 
gone by, except the venerable Mission, the ruinous Pre- 
sidio, the high hills in the rear of the town, and the great 
stretches of the bay in all directions. 

To-day I took a California horse of the old style, 
the run, the loping gait, and visited the Presidio. The 
walls stand as they did, with some changes made to ac- 
commodate a small garrison of United States troops. It 
has a noble situation, and I saw from it a clipper ship 
of the very largest class, coming through the Gate, 
under her fore-and-aft sails. Thence I rode to the Fort, 
now nearly finished, on the southern shore of the Gate, 
and made an inspection of it. It is very expensive and 
of the latest style. One of the engineers here is Custis 
Lee, who has just left West Point at the head of his 
class, a son of Colonel Robert E. Lee, who distin- 
guished himself in the Mexican War. 1 

Another morning I ride to the Mission Dolores. It 
has a strangely solitary aspect, enhanced by its surround- 
ings of the most uncongenial, rapidly growing mod- 
ernisms; the hoar of ages surrounded by the brightest, 
slightest, and rapidest of modern growths. Its old bel- 

1 This journal was of 1859 before Colonel Robert E. Lee became 
the celebrated General Lee in command of the Confederate forces in 
the Civil Wan 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 471 

fries still clanged with the discordant bells, and Mass 
was saying within, for it is used as a place of worship for 
the extreme south part of the city. 

In one of my walks about the wharves, I found a pile 
of dry hides lying by the side of a vessel. Here was 
something to feelingly persuade me what I had been, to 
recall a past scarce credible to myself. I stood lost in re- 
flection. What were these hides what were they not! 

to us, to me, a boy, twenty-four years ago? These 
were our constant labor, our chief object, our almost 
habitual thought. They brought us out here, they kept 
us here, and it was only by getting them that we could 
escape from the coast and return to home and civilized 
life. If it had not been that I might be seen, I should 
have seized one, slung it over my head, walked off with 
it, and thrown it by the old toss I do not believe yet 
a lost art to the ground. How they called up to my 
mind the months of curing at San Diego, the year and 
more of beach and surf work, and the steeving of the ship 
for home ! I was in a dream of San Diego, San Pedro, 
with its hill so steep for taking up goods, and its stones 
so hard to our bare feet, and the cliffs of San Juan ! 
All this, too, is no more! The entire hide-business is of 
the past, and to the present inhabitants of California a 
dim tradition. The gold discoveries drew off all men 
from the gathering or cure of hides, the inflowing popu- 
lation made an end of the great droves of cattle ; and 
now not a vessel pursues the I was about to say dear 

the dreary, once hated business of gathering hides 
upon the coast, and the beach of San Diego is aban- 
doned and its hide-houses have disappeared. Meeting a 
respectable-looking citizen on the wharf, I inquired of 
him how the hide-trade was carried on. " O," said he, 
" there is very little of it, and that is all here. The few 



472 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

that are brought in are placed under sheds in winter, 
or left out on the wharf in summer, and are loaded from 
the wharves into the vessels alongside. They form parts 
of cargoes of other materials." I really felt too much, 
at the instant, to express to him the cause of my inter- 
est in the subject, and only added, " Then the old busi- 
ness of trading up and down the coast and curing hides 
for cargoes is all over?" " O yes, sir," said he, "those 
old times of the Pilgrim and Alert and California, that 
we read about, are gone by." 

Saturday, August ioth. The steamer Senator makes 
regular trips up and down the coast, between San Fran- 
cisco and San Diego, calling at intermediate ports. This 
is my opportunity to revisit the old scenes. She sails 
to-day, and I am off, steaming among the great clippers 
anchored in the harbor, and gliding rapidly round the 
point, past Alcatraz Island, the light-house, and through 
the fortified Golden Gate, and bending to the south- 
ward, all done in two or three hours, which, in the 
Alert, under canvas, with head tides, variable winds, and 
sweeping currents to deal with, took us full two days. 

Among the passengers I noticed an elderly gentle- 
man, thin, with sandy hair and a face that seemed 
familiar. He took off his glove and showed one shriv- 
elled hand. It must be he! I went to him and said, 
" Captain Wilson, I believe." Yes, that was his name. 
" I knew you, sir, when you commanded the Ayacucho 
on this coast, in old hide-droghing times, in 1835-6." 
He was quickened by this, and at once inquiries were 
/nade on each side, and we were in full talk about the 
Pilgrim and Alert, Ayacucho and Loriotte, the California 
and Lagoda. I found he had been very much flattered by 
the praise I had bestowed in my book on his seamanship, 
especially in bringing the Pilgrim to her berth in San 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 473 

Diego harbor, after she had drifted successively into the 
Lagoda and Loriotte, and was coming into him. I had 
made a pet of his brig, the Ayacucho, which pleased 
him almost as much as my remembrance of his bride 
and their wedding, which I saw at Santa Barbara in 
1836. Doiia Ramona was now the mother of a large 
family, and Wilson assured me that if I would visit him 
at his rancho, near San Luis Obispo, I should find her 
still a handsome woman, and very glad to see me. How 
we walked the deck together, hour after hour, talking 
over the old times, the ships, the captains, the crews, 
the traders on shore, the ladies, the Missions, the south- 
easters ! indeed, where could we stop ? He had sold 
the Ayacucho in Chili for a vessel of war, and had 
given up the sea, and had been for years a ranchero. 
(I learned from others that he had become one of the 
most wealthy and respectable farmers in the State, and 
that his rancho was well worth visiting.) Thompson, he 
said, had n't the sailor in him ; and he never could laugh 
enough at his fiasco in San Diego, and his reception by 
Bradshaw. Faucon was a sailor and a navigator. He did 
not know what had become of George Marsh (ante, pp. 
255-258), except that he left him in Callao; nor could 
he tell me anything of handsome Bill Jackson (ante, p. 
104), nor of Captain Nye of the Loriotte. I told him all 
I then knew of the ships, the masters, and the officers. I 
found he had kept some run of my history, and needed 
little information. Old Sefior Noriego of Santa Barbara, 
he told me, was dead, and Don Carlos and Don Santi- 
ago, but I should find their children there, now in middle 
life. Doiia Angustias, he said, I had made famous by my 
praises of her beauty and dancing, and I should have from 
her a royal reception. She had been a widow, and re- 
married since, and had a daughter as handsome as her- 



474 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

self. The descendants of Noriego had taken the ancestral 
name of De la Guerra, as they were nobles of Old Spain 
by birth ; and the boy Pablo, who used to make passages 
in the Alert, was now Don Pablo de la Guerra, a Senator 
in the State Legislature for Santa Barbara County. 

The points in the country, too, we noticed, as we 
passed them, Santa Cruz, San Luis Obispo, Point Ano 
Nuevo, the opening to Monterey, which to my disap- 
pointment we did not visit. No; Monterey, the pretti- 
est town on the coast, and its capital and seat of cus- 
toms, had got no advantage from the great changes, was 
out of the way of commerce and of the travel to the 
mines and great rivers, and was not worth stopping at. 
Point Conception we passed in the night, a cheery light 
gleaming over the waters from its tall light-house, stand- 
ing on its outermost peak. Point Conception! That 
word was enough to recall all our experiences and dreads 
of gales, swept decks, topmast carried away, and the hard- 
ships of a coast service in the winter. But Captain Wilson 
tells me that the climate has altered ; that the southeasters 
are no longer the bane of the coast they once were, and 
that vessels now anchor inside the kelp at Santa Bar- 
bara and San Pedro all the year round. I should have 
thought this owing to his spending his winters on a 
rancho instead of the deck of the Ayacucho, had not 
the same thing been told me by others. 

Passing round Point Conception, and steering easterly, 
we opened the islands that form, with the main-land, the 
canal of Santa Barbara. There they are, Santa Cruz 
and Santa Rosa; and there is the beautiful point, Santa 
Buenaventura ; and there lies Santa Barbara on its plain, 
with its amphitheatre of high hills and distant moun- 
tains. There is the old white Mission with its belfries, 
and there the town, with its one-story adobe houses, 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 475 

with here and there a two-story wooden house of later 
build ; yet little is it altered, the same repose in the 
golden sunlight and glorious climate, sheltered by its 
hills ; and then, more remindful than anything else, there 
roars and tumbles upon the beach the same grand surf 
of the great Pacific as on the beautiful day when the 
Pilgrim, after her five months' voyage, dropped her 
weary anchors here ; the same bright blue ocean, and 
the surf making just the same monotonous, melancholy 
roar, and the same dreamy town, and gleaming white 
Mission, as when we beached our boats for the first time, 
riding over the breakers with shouting Kanakas, the three 
small hide-traders lying at anchor in the offing. But now 
we are the only vessel, and that an unromantic, sail-less, 
spar-less, engine-driven hulk ! 

I landed in the surf, in the old style, but it was not 
high enough to excite us, the only change being that I 
was somehow unaccountably a passenger, and did not have 
to jump overboard and steady the boat, and run her up 
by the gunwales. 

Santa Barbara has gained but little. I should not 
know, from anything I saw, that she was now a seaport 
of the United States, a part of the enterprising Yankee 
nation, and not still a lifeless Mexican town. At the 
same old house, where Seiior Noriego lived, on the piazza. 
in front of the court-yard, where was the gay scene of 
the marriage of our agent, Mr. Robinson, to Dona Anita, 
where Don Juan Bandini and Dona Angustias danced, 
Don Pablo de la Guerra received me in a courtly fash- 
ion. I passed the day with the family, and in walking 
about the place ; and ate the old dinner with its accom- 
paniments of frijoles, native olives and grapes, and 
native wines. In due time I paid my respects to Dona 
Angustias, and, notwithstanding what Wilson told me, I 



476 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

could hardly believe that after twenty- four years there 
would still be so much of the enchanting woman about 
her. She thanked me for the kind and, as she called 
them, greatly exaggerated compliments I had paid her ; 
and her daughter told me that all travellers who came 
to Santa Barbara called to see her mother, and that she 
herself never expected to live long enough to be a 
belle. 

Mr. Alfred Robinson, our agent in 1835-6, was here, 
with a part of his family. I did not know how he would 
receive me, remembering what I had printed to the world 
about him at a time when I took little thought that the 
world was going to read it; but there was no sign of 
offence, only a cordiality which gave him, as between us, 
rather the advantage in status, 

The people of this region are giving attention to sheep- 
raising, wine-making, and the raising of olives, just 
enough to keep the town from going backwards. 

But evening is drawing on, and our boat sails to- 
night. So, refusing a horse or carriage, I walk down, 
not unwilling to be a little early, that I may pace up and 
down the beach, looking off to the islands and the points, 
and watching the roaring, tumbling billows. How soften- 
ing is the effect of time ! It touches us through the 
affections. I almost feel as if I were lamenting the 
passing away of something loved and dear, the boats, 
the Kanakas, the hides, my old shipmates ! Death, 
change, distance, lend them a character which makes 
them quite another thing from the vulgar, wearisome 
toil of uninteresting, forced manual labor. 

The breeze freshened as we stood out to sea, and the 
wild waves rolled over the red sun, on the broad horizon 
of the Pacific; but it is summer, and in summer there 
can be no bad weather in California. Every day is pleas- 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 477 

ant. Nature forbids a drop of rain to fall by day or 
night, or a wind to excite itself beyond a fresh summer 
breeze. 

The next morning we found ourselves at anchor in the 
3ay of San Pedro. Here was this hated, this thoroughly 
detested spot. Although we lay near, I could scarce 
recognize the hill up which we rolled and dragged and 
pushed and carried our heavy loads, and down which we 
pitched the hides, to carry them barefooted over the 
rocks to the floating long-boat. It was no longer the 
landing-place. One had been made at the head of the 
creek, and boats discharged and took off cargoes from 
a mole or wharf, in a quiet place, safe from southeasters. 
A tug ran to take off passengers from the steamer to 
the wharf, for the trade of Los Angeles is sufficient to 
support such a vessel. I got the captain to land me 
privately, in a small boat, at the old place by the hill. 
I dismissed the boat, and, alone, found my way to the 
high ground. I say found my way, for neglect and 
weather had left but few traces of the steep road the 
hide-vessels had built to the top. The cliff off which 
we used to throw the hides, and where I spent nights 
watching them, was more easily found. The population 
was doubled, that is to say, there were two houses, instead 
of one, on the hill. I stood on the brow and looked out 
toward the offing, the Santa Catalina Island, and, nearer, 
the melancholy Dead Man's Island, with its painful tradi- 
tion, and recalled the gloomy days that followed the 
flogging, and fancied the Pilgrim at anchor in the offing. 
But the tug is going toward our steamer, and I must 
awake and be off. I walked along the shore to the 
new landing-place, where were two or three store-houses 
and other buildings, forming a small depot ; and a stage- 
coach, I found, went daily between this place and the 



478 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

Pueblo. I got a seat on the top of the coach, to which 
were tackled six little less than wild California horses. 
Each horse had a man at his head, and when the driver 
had got his reins in hand he gave the word, all the 
horses were let go at once, and away they went on 
a spring, tearing over the ground, the driver only 
keeping them from going the wrong way, for they 
had a wide, level pampa to run over the whole thirty 
miles to the Pueblo. This plain is almost treeless, with 
no grass, at least none now in the drought of mid- 
summer, and is filled with squirrel-holes, and alive with 
squirrels. As we changed horses twice, we did not 
slacken our speed until we turned into the streets of 
the Pueblo. 

The Pueblo de los Angeles I found a large and flour- 
ishing town of about twenty thousand inhabitants, with 
brick sidewalks, and blocks of stone or brick houses. 
The three principal traders when we were here for hides 
in the Pilgrim and Alert are still among the chief traders 
of the place, Stearns, Temple, and Warner, the two 
former being reputed very rich. I dined with Mr. Stearns, 
now a very old man, and met there Don Juan Bandini, to 
whom I had given a good deal of notice in my book. 
From him, as indeed from every one in this town, I met 
with the kindest attentions. The wife of Don Juan, who 
was a beautiful young girl when we were on the coast, 
Dona Refugio, daughter of Don Santiago Argiiello, the 
commandante of San Diego, was with him, and still 
handsome. This is one of several instances I have 
noticed of the preserving quality of the California cli- 
mate. Here, too, was Henry Mellus, who came out with 
me before the mast in the Pilgrim, and left the brig 
to be agent's clerk on shore. He had experienced vary- 
ing fortunes here, and was now married to a Mexican 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 479 

lady, and had a family. I dined with him, and in the 
afternoon he drove me round to see the vineyards, the 
chief objects in this region. The vintage of last year was 
estimated at half a million of gallons. Every year new 
square miles of ground are laid down to vineyards, and 
the Pueblo promises to be the centre of one of the 
largest wine-producing regions in the world. Grapes are 
a drug here, and I found a great abundance of figs, 
olives, peaches, pears, and melons. The climate is well 
suited to these fruits, but is too hot and dry for success- 
ful wheat crops. 

Towards evening, we started off in the stage-coach, 
with again our relays of six mad horses, and reached the 
creek before dark, though it was late at night before we 
got on board the steamer, which was slowly moving her 
wheels, under way for San Diego. 

As we skirted along the coast, Wilson and I recog- 
nized, or thought we did, in the clear moonlight, the 
rude white Mission of San Juan Capistrano, and its cliff, 
from which I had swung down by a pair of halyards to 
save a few hides, a boy who could not be prudential, and 
who caught at every chance for adventure. 

As we made the high point off San Diego, Point Loma, 
we were greeted by the cheering presence of a light- 
house. As we swept round it in the early morning, there, 
before us, lay the little harbor of San Diego, its low spit 
of sand, where the water runs so deep ; the opposite flats, 
where the Alert grounded in starting for home ; the low 
hills, without trees, and almost without brush ; the quiet 
little beach; --but the chief objects, the hide-houses, 
my eye looked for in vain. They were gone, all, and left 
no mark behind. 

I wished to be alone, so I let the other passengers go 
up to the town, and was quietly pulled ashore in a boat, 



480 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

and left to myself. The recollections and the emotions 
all were sad, and only sad. 

Fugit, interea fugit irreparabile tempus. 

The past was real. The present, all about me, was un- 
real, unnatural, repellant. I saw the big ships lying in 
the stream, the Alert, the California, the Rosa, with her 
Italians ; then the handsome Ayacucho, my favorite ; the 
poor dear old Pilgrim, the home of hardship and hope- 
lessness; the boats passing to and fro; the cries of the 
sailors at the capstan or falls ; the peopled beach ; the 
large hide-houses, with their gangs of men; and the 
Kanakas interspersed everywhere. All, all were gone! 
not a vestige to mark where one hide-house stood. The 
oven, too, was gone. I searched for its site, and found, 
where I thought it should be, a few broken bricks and 
bits of mortar. I alone was left of all, and how strangely 
was I here ! What changes to me ! Where were they 
all ? Why should I care for them, poor Kanakas and 
sailors, the refuse of civilization, the outlaws and beach- 
combers of the Pacific! Time and death seemed to 
transfigure them. Doubtless nearly all were dead ; but 
how had they died, and where? In hospitals, in fever- 
climes, in dens of vice, or falling from the mast, or 
dropping exhausted from the wreck, 

" When for a moment, like a drop of rain, 
He sinks into thy depths with bubbling groan, 
Without a grave, unknelled, uncoffined, and unknown." 

The light-hearted boys are now hardened middle-aged 
men, if the seas, rocks, fevers, and the deadlier enemies 
that beset a sailor's life on shore have spared them; and 
the then strong men have bowed themselves, and the earth 
or sea has covered them. 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 481 

Even the animals are gone, the colony of dogs, the 
broods of poultry, the useful horses ; but the coyotes bark 
still in the woods, for they belong not to man, and are 
not touched by his changes. 

I walked slowly up the hill, rinding my way among the 
few bushes, for the path was long grown over, and sat 
down where we used to rest in carrying our burdens of 
wood, and to look out for vessels that might, though so 
seldom, be coming down from the windward. 

To rally myself by calling to mind my own better 
fortune and nobler lot, and cherished surroundings at 
home, was impossible. Borne down by depression, the 
day being yet at its noon, and the sun over the old point, 
it is four miles to the town, the Presidio, I have 
walked it often, and can do it once more, I passed the 
familiar objects, and it seemed to me that I remembered 
them better than those of any other place I had ever 
been in ; the opening to the little cave ; the low hills 
where we cut wood and killed rattlesnakes, and where 
our dogs chased the coyotes ; and the black ground 
where so many of the ship's crew and beach-combers 
used to bring up on their return at the end of a liberty 
day, and spend the night sub Jove. 

The little town of San Diego has undergone no change 
whatever that I can see. It certainly has not grown. It is 
still, like Santa Barbara, a Mexican town. The four prin- 
cipal houses of the gente de razon of the Bandinis, 
Estudillos, Argiiellos, and Picos are the chief houses 
now; but all the gentlemen and their families, too, I 
believe are gone. The big vulgar shop-keeper and 
trader, Fitch, is long since dead ; Tom Wrightington, who 
kept the rival pulperia, fell from his horse when drunk, 
and was found nearly eaten up by coyotes ; and I can 
scarce find a person whom I remember. I went into a 



482 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

familiar one-story adobe house, with its piazza and earthen 
floor, inhabited by a respectable lower-class family by 
the name of Machado, and inquired if any of the family 
remained, when a bright-eyed middle-aged woman recog- 
nized me, for she had heard I was on board the steamer. 
and told me she had married a shipmate of mine, Jack 
Stewart, who went out as second mate the next voyage, 
but left the ship and married and settled here. She 
said he wished very much to see me. In a few minute? 
he came in, and his sincere pleasure in meeting me was 
extremely grateful. We talked over old times as long as 
I could afford to. I was glad to hear that he was sober 
and doing well. Dofia Tomasa Pico I found and talked 
with. She was the only person of the old upper class 
that remained on the spot, if I rightly recollect. I found 
an American family here, with whom I dined, Doyle 
and his wife, nice young people, Doyle agent for the 
great line of coaches to run to the frontier of the old 
States. 

I must complete my acts of pious remembrance, so I 
take a horse and make a run out to the old Mission, 
where Ben Stimson and I went the first liberty day we 
had after we left Boston (ante, p. 140). All has gone 
to decay. The buildings are unused and ruinous, and 
the large gardens show now only wild cactuses, willows, 
and a few olive-trees. A fast run brings me back in 
time to take leave of the few I knew and who knew me, 
and to reach the steamer before she sails. A last look 
yes, last for life to the beach, the hills, the low point, 
the distant town, as we round Point Loma and the first 
beams of the light-house strike out towards the setting 
sun. 

Wednesday, August 24th. At anchor at San Pedro by 
daylight. But instead of being roused out of the fore- 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 483 

castle to row the long-boat ashore and bring off a load 
of hides before breakfast, we were served with breakfast 
in the cabin, and again took our drive with the wild 
horses to the Pueblo and spent the day ; seeing nearly 
the same persons as before, and again getting back by 
dark. We steamed again for Santa Barbara, where we 
only lay an hour, and passed through its canal and round 
Point Conception, stopping at San Luis Obispo to land 
my friend, as I may truly call him after this long pas- 
sage together, Captain Wilson, whose most earnest invi- 
tation to stop here and visit him at his rancho I was 
obliged to decline. 

Friday evening, 26th August, we entered the Golden 
Gate, passed the light-houses and forts, and clipper ships 
at anchor, and came to our dock, with this great city, on 
its high hills and rising surfaces, brilliant before us, and 
full of eager life. 

Making San Francisco my head-quarters, I paid visits 
to various parts of the State, --down the Bay to Santa 
Clara, with its live oaks and sycamores, and its Jesuit 
College for boys ; and San Jose, where is the best girls' 
school in the State, kept by the Sisters of Notre Dame, 
a town now famous for a year's session of " The legis- 
lature of a thousand drinks," and thence to the rich 
Almaden quicksilver mines, returning on the Contra 
Costa side through the rich agricultural country, with 
its ranches and the vast grants of the Castro and Soto 
families, where farming and fruit-raising are done on so 
large a scale. Another excursion was up the San Joa- 
quin to Stockton, a town of some ten thousand inhabi- 
tants, a hundred miles from San Francisco, and crossing 
the Tuolumne and Stanislaus and Merced, by the little 
Spanish town of Hornitos, and Snelling's Tavern, at the 
ford of the Merced, where so many fatal fights are had. 



484 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

Thence I went to Mariposa County, and Colonel Fre- 
mont's mines, and made an interesting visit to " the 
Colonel," as he is called all over the country, and Mrs. 
Fremont, a heroine equal to either fortune, the salons 
of Paris and the drawing-rooms of New York and 
Washington, or the roughest life of the remote and wild 
mining regions of Mariposa, with their fine family of 
spirited, clever children. After a rest there, we went on 
to Clark's Camp and the Big Trees, where I measured 
one tree ninety-seven feet in circumference without its 
bark, and the bark is usually eighteen inches thick; and 
rode through another which lay on the ground, a shell, 
with all the insides out, rode through it mounted, 
and sitting at full height in the saddle; then to the 
wonderful Yo Semite Valley, itself a stupendous mir- 
acle of nature, with its Dome, its Capitan, its walls of 
three thousand feet of perpendicular height, but a 
valley of streams, of waterfalls, from the torrent to the 
mere shimmer of a bridal veil, only enough to reflect a 
rainbow, with their plunges of twenty-five hundred feet, 
or their smaller falls of eight hundred, with nothing at 
the base but thick mists, which form and trickle, and 
then run and at last plunge into the blue Merced that 
flows through the centre of the valley. Back by the 
Coulterville trail, the peaks of Sierra Nevada in sight, 
across the North Fork of the Merced, by Gentry's Gulch, 
over hills and through canons, to Fremont's again, and 
thence to Stockton and San Francisco, all this at the 
end of August, when there has been no rain for four 
months, and the air is clear and very hot, and the ground 
perfectly dry ; windmills, to raise water for artificial irri- 
gation of small patches, seen all over the landscape, while 
we travel through square miles of hot dust, where they 
tell us, and truly, that in winter and early spring we 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 485 

should be up to our knees in flowers; a country, too, 
where surface gold-digging is so common and unno- 
ticed that the large, six-horse stage-coach, in which I 
travelled from Stockton to Hornitos, turned off in the 
high road for a Chinaman, who, with his pan and washer, 
was working up a hole which an American had abandoned, 
but where the minute and patient industry of the China- 
man averaged a few dollars a day. 

These visits were so full of interest, with grandeurs 
and humors of all sorts, that I am strongly tempted to 
describe them. But I remember that I am not to write 
a journal of a visit over the new California, but to 
sketch briefly the contrasts with the old spots of 1835-6, 
and I forbear. 

How strange and eventful has been the brief history 
of this marvellous city, San Francisco! In 1835 there 
was one board shanty. In 1836, one adobe house on the 
same spot. In 1847, a population of four hundred and 
fifty persons, who organized a town government. Then 
came the anri sacra fames, the flocking together of 
many of the worst spirits of Christendom ; a sudden 
birth of a city of canvas and boards, entirely destroyed 
by fire five times in eighteen months, with a loss of six- 
teen millions of dollars, and as often rebuilt, until it be- 
came a solid city of brick and stone, of nearly one hundred 
thousand inhabitants, with all the accompaniments of 
wealth and culture, and now (in 1859) the most quiet 
and well-governed city of its size in the United States. 
But it has been through its season of Heaven-defying 
crime, violence, and blood, from which it was rescued 
and handed back to soberness, morality, and good gov- 
ernment, by that peculiar invention of Anglo-Saxon Re- 
publican America, the solemn, awe-inspiring Vigilance 
Committee of the most grave and responsible citizens, 



486 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

the last resort of the thinking and the good, taken to 
only when vice, fraud, and ruffianism have intrenched 
themselves behind the forms of law, suffrage, and ballot, 
and there is no hope but in organized force, whose ac- 
tion must be instant and thorough, or its state will be 
worse than before. A history of the passage of this city 
through those ordeals, and through its almost incredible 
financial extremes, should be written by a pen which 
not only accuracy shall govern, but imagination shall 
inspire. 

I cannot pause for the civility of referring to the many 
kind attentions I received, and the society of educated 
men and women from all parts of the Union I met with ; 
where New England, the Carolinas, Virginia, and the 
new West sat side by side with English, French, and 
German civilization. 

My stay in California was interrupted by an absence 
of nearly four months, when I sailed for the Sandwich 
Islands in the noble Boston clipper ship Mastiff, which 
was burned at sea to the water's edge; we escaping in 
boats, and carried by a friendly British bark into Hono- 
lulu, whence, after a deeply interesting visit of three 
months in that most fascinating group of islands, with 
its natural and its moral wonders, I returned to San 
Francisco in an American whaler, and found myself again 
in my quarters on the morning of Sunday, December 
nth, 1859. 

My first visit after my return was to Sacramento, a 
city of about forty thousand inhabitants, more than a 
hundred miles inland from San Francisco, on the Sacra- 
mento, where was the capital of the State, and where 
were fleets of river steamers, and a large inland com- 
merce. Here I saw the inauguration of a Governor, Mr. 
Latham, a young man from Massachusetts, much my jun- 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 487 

ior ; and met a member of the State Senate, a man who, 
as a carpenter, repaired my father's house at home some 
ten years before; and two more Senators from southern 
California, relics of another age, Don Andres Pico, 
from San Diego ; and Don Pablo de la Guerra, whom I 
have mentioned as meeting- at Santa Barbara. I had a 
good deal of conversation with these gentlemen, whc 
stood alone in an assembly of Americans, who had con- 
quered their country, spared pillars of the past. Don. 
Andres had fought us at San Pazqual and Sepulveda's 
rancho, in 1846, and as he fought bravely, not a common 
thing among the Mexicans, and, indeed, repulsed Kear- 
ney, is always treated with respect. He had the satis- 
faction, dear to the proud Spanish heart, of making a 
speech before a Senate of Americans, in favor of the 
retention in office of an officer of our army who was 
wounded at San Pazqual, and whom some wretched 
caucus was going to displace to carry out a political job. 
Don Andres's magnanimity and indignation carried the 
day. 

My last visit in this part of the country was to a new 
and rich farming region, the Napa Valley, the United 
States Navy Yard at Mare Island, the river gold work- 
Ings, and the Geysers, and old Mr. John Yount's rancho. 
On board the steamer, found Mr. Edward Stanley, for- 
merly member of Congress from North Carolina, who be- 
came my companion for the greater part of my trip. I 
also met a revival on the spot of an acquaintance of 
twenty years ago - - Don Guadalupe Vallejo ; I may say 
acquaintance, for although I was then before the mast, he 
knew my story, and, as he spoke English well, used to 
hold many conversations with me, when in the boat 
or on shore. He received me with true earnestness, and 
would not hear of my passing his estate without visiting 



488 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

him. He reminded me of a remark I made to him once, 
when pulling him ashore in the boat, when he was com- 
mandante at the Presidio. I learned that the two Val- 
lejos, Guadalupe and Salvador, owned, at an early time, 
nearly all Napa and Sonoma, having- princely estates. 
But they have not much left. They were nearly ruined 
by their bargain with the State, that they would put 
up the public buildings if the Capital should be placed 
at Vallejo, then a town of some promise. They spent 
$100,000, the Capital was moved there, and in two 
years removed to San Jose on another contract. The 
town fell to pieces, and the houses, chiefly wooden, were 
taken down and removed. I accepted the old gentle- 
man's invitation so far as to stop at Vallejo to breakfast. 

The United States Navy Yard, at Mare Island, near 
Vailejo, is large and well placed, with deep fresh water. 
The old Independence, and the sloop Decatur, and two 
steamers were there, and they were experimenting on 
building a despatch boat, the Saginaw, of California 
timber.. 

I have no excuse for attempting to describe my visit 
through the fertile and beautiful Napa Valley, nor even, 
what exceeded that in interest, my visit to old John 
Yount at his rancho, where I heard from his own lips 
some of his most interesting stories of hunting and 
trapping and Indian fighting, during an adventurous life 
of forty years of such work, between our back settle- 
ments in Missouri and Arkansas, and the mountains of 
California, trapping the Colorado and Gila, and his 
celebrated dream, thrice repeated, which led him to or- 
ganize a party to go out over the mountains, that did 
actually rescue from death by starvation the wretched 
remnants of the Donner Party. 

I must not pause for the dreary country of the Gey- 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 489 

sers, the screaming escapes of steam, the sulphur, the 
boiling caldrons of black and yellow and green, and the 
region of Gehenna, through which runs a quiet stream of 
pure water; nor for the park scenery, and captivating 
ranches of the Napa Valley, where farming is done on 
so grand a scale, where I have seen a man plough 
a furrow by little red flags on sticks, to keep his range by, 
until nearly out of sight, and where, the wits tell us, he re- 
turns the next day on the back furrow; a region where, 
at Christmas time, I have seen old strawberries still on 
the vines, by the side of vines in full blossom for the 
next crop, and grapes in the same stages, and open win- 
dows, and yet a grateful wood fire on the hearth in early 
morning; nor for the titanic operations of hydraulic 
surface mining, where large mountain streams are di- 
verted from their ancient beds, and made to do the 
work, beyond the reach of all other agents, of washing 
out valleys and carrying away hills, and changing the 
whole surface of the country, to expose the stores of 
gold hidden for centuries in the darkness of their earthy 
depths. 

January loth, 1860. I am again in San Francisco, 
and my revisit to California is closed. I have touched 
too lightly and rapidly for much impression upon the 
reader on my last visit into the interior; but, as I have 
said, in a mere continuation to a narrative of a sea-faring 
life on the coast, I am only to carry the reader with me 
on a revisit to those scenes in which the public has long 
manifested so gratifying an interest. But it seemed to 
me that slight notices of these entirely new parts of the 
country would not be out of place, for they serve to put 
in strong contrast with the solitudes of 1835-6 the de- 
veloped interior, with its mines, and agricultural wealth, 
and rapidly filling population, and its large cities, so far 



490 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

from the coast, with their education, religion, arts, and 
trade. 

On the morning of the nth January, 1860, I passed, 
for the eighth time, through the Golden Gate, on my 
way across the delightful Pacific to the Oriental world, 
with its civilization three thousand years older than that 
I was leaving behind. As the shores of California faded 
in the distance, and the summits of the Coast Range 
sank under the blue horizon, I bade farewell yes, I 
do not doubt, forever to those scenes which, however 
changed or unchanged, must always possess an ineffable 
interest for me. 



It is time my fellow-travellers and I should part com- 
pany. But I have been requested by a great many per- 
sons to give some account of the subsequent history of 
the vessels and their crews, with which I had made them 
acquainted. I attempt the following sketches in defer- 
ence to these suggestions, and not, I trust, with any undue 
estimate of the general interest my narrative may have 
created. 

Something less than a year after my return in the 
Alert, and when, my eyes having recovered, I was again 
in college life, I found one morning in the newspapers, 
among the arrivals of the day before, "The brig Pil- 
grim, Faucon, from San Diego, California." In a few 
hours I was down in Ann Street, and on my way to 
Hackstadt's boarding-house, where I knew Tom Harris 
and others would lodge. Entering the front room, I 
heard my name called from amid a group of blue-jackets, 
and several sunburned, tar-colored men came forward 
to speak to me. They were, at first, a little embarrassed 
by the dress and style in which they had never seen me, 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 491 

and one of them was calling me Mr. Dana. ; but I soon 
stopped that, and we were shipmates once more. First, 
there was Tom Harris, in a characteristic occupation. 
I had made him promise to come and see me when we 
parted in San Diego; he had got a directory of Boston, 
found the street and number of my father's house, and, 
by a study of the plan of the city, had laid out his 
course, and was committing it to memory. He said he 
could go straight to the house without asking a question. 
And so he could, for I took the book from him, and he 
gave his course, naming each street and turn to right 
or left, directly to the door. 

Tom had been second mate of the Pilgrim, and had 
laid up no mean sum of money. True to his resolu- 
tion, he was going to England to find his mother, and 
he entered into the comparative advantages of taking his 
money home in gold or in bills, a matter of some 
moment, as this was in the disastrous financial year of 
1837. He seemed to have his ideas well arranged, but 
I took him to a leading banker, whose advice he followed ; 
and, declining my invitation to go up and show himself 
to my friends, he was off for New York that afternoon, 
to sail the next day for Liverpool. The last I ever saw 
of Tom Harris was as he passed down Tremont Street 
on the sidewalk, a man dragging a hand-cart in the 
street by his side, on which were his voyage-worn chest, 
his mattress, and a box of nautical instruments. 

Sam seemed to have got funny again, and he and 
John the Swede learned that Captain Thompson had 
several months before sailed in command of a ship for 
the coast of Sumatra, and that their chance of pro- 
ceedings against him at law was hopeless. Sam was 
afterwards lost in a brig off the coast of Brazil, when 
all hands went down. Of John and the rest of the men I 



492 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

have never heard. The Marblehead boy, Sam, turned out 
badly ; and, although he had influential friends, never al- 
lowed them to improve his condition. The old carpenter, 
the Fin, of whom the cook stood in such awe (ante, p. 47), 
had fallen sick and died in Santa Barbara, and was buried 
ashore. Jim Hall, from the Kennebec, who sailed with 
us before the mast, and was made second mate in Fos- 
ter's place, came home chief mate of the Pilgrim. I 
have often seen him since. His lot has been prosperous, 
as he well deserved it should be. He has commanded 
the largest ships, and, when I last saw him, was going 
to the Pacific coast of South America, to take charge 
of a line of mail steamers. Poor, luckless Foster I have 
twice seen. He came into my rooms in Boston, after I 
had become a barrister and my narrative had been pub- 
lished, and told me he was chief mate of a big ship ; 
that he had heard I had said some things unfavor- 
able of him in my book; that he had just bought it, 
and was going to read it that night, and if I had said 
anything unfair of him, he would punish me if he found 
me in State Street. I surveyed him from head to foot, 
and said to him, ' Foster, you were not a formidable 
man when I last knew you, and I don't believe you are 
now." Either he was of my opinion, or thought I had 
spoken of him well enough, for the next (and last) time 
I met him he was civil and pleasant. 

I believe I. omitted to state that Mr. Andrew B. Amer- 
zene, the chief mate of the Pilgrim, an estimable, kind, 
and trustworthy man, had a difficulty with Captain Fau- 
con, who thought him slack, was turned off duty, and 
sent home with us in the Alert. Captain Thompson, 
instead of giving him the place of a mate off duty, put 
him into the narrow between-decks, where a space, not 
over four feet high, had been left out among the hides, 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 493 

and there compelled him to live the whole wearisome 
voyage, through trades and tropics, and round Cape Horn, 
with nothing to do, not allowed to converse or walk 
with the officers, and obliged to get his grub himself 
from the galley, in the tin pot and kid of a common 
sailor. I used to talk with him as much as I had op- 
portunity to, but his lot was wretched, and in every way 
wounding to his feelings. After our arrival, Captain 
Thompson was obliged to make him compensation for 
this treatment. It happens that I have never heard of 
him since. 

Henry Mellus, who had been in a counting-house in 
Boston, and left the forecastle, on the coast, to be agent's 
clerk, and whom I met, a married man, at Los Angeles 
in 1859, died at that place a few years ago, not having 
been successful in commercial life. Ben Stimson left 
the sea for the fresh water and prairies, settled in 
Detroit as a merchant, and when I visited that city, in 
1863, I was rejoiced to find him a prosperous and re- 
spected man, and the same generous-hearted shipmate 
as ever. 

This ends the catalogue of the Pilgrim's original crew, 
except her first master, Captain Thompson. He was not 
employed by the same firm again, and got up a voyage 
to the coast of Sumatra for pepper. A cousin and class- 
mate of mine, Mr. Channing, went as supercargo, not 
having consulted me as to the captain. First, Captain 
Thompson got into difficulties with another American 
vessel on the coast, which charged him with having taken 
some advantage of her in getting pepper; and then with 
the natives, who accused him of having obtained too much 
pepper for his weights. The natives seized him, one 
afternoon, as he landed in his boat, and demanded of him 
to sign an order on the supercargo for the Spanish dollars 



494 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

that they said were due them, on pain of being imprisoned 
on shore. He never failed in pluck, and now ordered his 
boat aboard, leaving him ashore, the officer to tell the 
supercargo to obey no direction except under his hand. 
For several successive days and nights, his ship, the 
Alciope, lay in the burning sun, with rain-squalls and 
thunder-clouds coming over the high mountains, wait- 
ing for a word from him. Toward evening of the fourth 
or fifth day he was seen on the beach, hailing for the boat. 
The natives, finding they could not force more money 
from him, were afraid to hold him longer, and had let 
him go. He sprang into the boat, urged her off with 
the utmost eagerness, leaped on board the ship like a 
tiger, his eyes flashing and his face full of blood, ordered 
the anchor aweigh, and the topsails set, the four guns, 
two on a side, loaded with all sorts of devilish stuff, and 
wore her round, and, keeping as close into the bamboo 
village as he could, gave them both broadsides, slam- 
bang into the midst of the houses and people, and stood 
out to sea! As his excitement passed off, headache, lan- 
guor, fever, set in, --the deadly coast-fever, contracted 
from the water and night-dews on shore and his mad- 
dened temper. He ordered the ship to Penang, and never 
saw the deck again. He died on the passage, and was 
buried at sea. Mr. Channing, who took care of him 
in his sickness and delirium, caught the fever from him, 
but, as we gratefully remember, did not die until the 
ship made port, and he was under the kindly roof of 
a hospitable family in Penang. The chief mate, also, 
took the fever, and the second mate and crew deserted; 
and, although the chief mate recovered and took the ship 
to Europe and home, the voyage was a melancholy dis- 
aster. In a tour I made round the world in 1859-1860, 
of which my revisit to California was the beginning, 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 495 

I went to Penang. In that fairy-like scene of sea and 
sky and shore, as beautiful as material earth can be, with 
its fruits and flowers of a perpetual summer, -- some- 
where in which still lurks the deadly fever, I found 
the tomb of my kinsman, classmate, and friend. Stand- 
ing beside his grave, I tried not to think that his life had 
been sacrificed to the faults and violence of another; I 
tried not to think too hardly of that other, who at least 
had suffered in death. 

The dear old Pilgrim herself ! She was sold, at the 
end of this voyage, to a merchant in New Hampshire, 
who employed her on short voyages, and, after a few 
years, I read of her total loss at sea, by fire, off the 
coast of North Carolina. 

Captain Faucon, who took out the Alert, and brought 
home the Pilgrim, spent many years in command of 
vessels in the Indian and Chinese seas, and was in our 
volunteer navy during the late war, commanding sev- 
eral large vessels in succession, on the blockade of the 
Carolinas, with the rank of lieutenant. He has now 
given up the sea, but still keeps it under his eye, from 
the piazza of his house on the most beautiful hill in 
the environs of Boston. I have the pleasure of meeting 
him often. Once, in speaking of the Alert's crew, in a 
company of gentlemen, I heard him say that that crew 
was exceptional ; that he had passed all his life at sea, 
but whether before the mast or abaft, whether officer or 
master, he had never met such a crew, and never should 
expect to; and that the two officers of the Alert, long 
ago shipmasters, agreed with him that, for intelligence, 
knowledge of duty and willingness to perform it, pride in 
the ship, her appearance and sailing, and in absolute 
reliableness, they never had seen their equal. Especially 
he spoke of his favorite seaman, French John. John, 



496 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

after a few more years at sea, became a boatman, and 
kept his neat boat at the end of Granite Wharf, and was 
ready to take all, but delighted to take any of us of the 
old Alert's crew, to sail down the harbor. One day 
Captain Faucon went to the end of the wharf to board 
a vessel in the stream, and hailed for John. There was 
no response, and his boat was not there. He inquired, 
of a boatman near, where John was. The time had 
come that comes to all! There was no loyal voice to 
respond to the familiar call, the hatches had closed over 
him, his boat was sold to another, and he had left not 
a trace behind. We could not find out even where he 
was buried. 

Mr. Richard Brown, of Marblehead, our chief mate in 
the Alert, commanded many of our noblest ships in the 
European trade, a general favorite. A few years ago, 
while stepping on board his ship from the wharf, he 
fell from the plank into the hold and was killed. If 
he did not actually die at sea, at least he died as a sailor, 
he died on board ship. 

Our second mate, Evans, no one liked or cared for, 
and I know nothing of him, except that I once saw him 
in court, on trial for some alleged petty tyranny towards 
his men, still a subaltern officer. 

The third mate, Mr. Hatch, a nephew of one of the 
owners, though only a lad on board the ship, went out 
chief mate the next voyage, and rose soon to command 
some of the finest clippers in the California and India 
trade, under the new order of things, a man of char- 
acter, good judgment, and no little cultivation. 

Of the other men before the mast in the Alert, I 
know nothing of peculiar interest. When visiting, with 
a party of ladies and gentlemen, one of our largest 
line-of-battle ships, we were escorted about the decks by 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 497 

a midshipman, who was explaining various matters on 
board, when one of the party came to me and told me 
that there was an old sailor there with a whistle round 
his neck, who looked at me and said of the officer, " he 
can't show him anything aboard a ship." I found him 
out, and, looking into his sunburnt face, covered with 
hair, and his little eyes drawn up into the smallest pas- 
sages for light, like a man who had peered into hun- 
dreds of northeasters, there was old " Sails " of the 
Alert, clothed in all the honors of boatswain's-mate. 
We stood aside, out of the cun of the officers, and had a 
good talk over old times. I remember the contempt 
with which he turned on his heel to conceal his face, 
when the midshipman (who was a grown youth) could 
not tell the ladies the length of a fathom, and said it 
depended on circumstances. Notwithstanding his advice 
and consolation to " Chips," in the steerage of the Alert, 
and his story of his runaway wife and the flag-bot- 
tomed chairs (ante, p. 318), he confessed to me that he 
had tried marriage again, and had a little tenement just 
outside the gate of the yard. 

Harry Bennett, the man who had the palsy, and was 
unfeelingly left on shore when the Alert sailed, came 
home in the Pilgrim, and I had the pleasure of help- 
ing to get him into the Massachusetts General Hospital. 
When he had been there about a week, I went to see 
him in his ward, and asked him how he got along. 
" Oh ! first-rate usage, sir ; not a hand's turn to do, and 
all your grub brought to you, sir." This is a sailor's 
paradise, not a hand's turn to do, and all your grub 
brought to you. But an earthly paradise may pall. 
Bennett got tired of in-doors and stillness, and was soon 
out again, and set up a stall, covered with canvas, at 
the end of one of the bridges, where he could see all the 



498 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

passers-by, and turn a penny by cakes and ale. The 
stall in time disappeared, and I could learn nothing of 
his last end, if it has come. 

Of the lads who, beside myself, composed the gig's 
crew, I know something of all but one. Our bright-eyed, 
quick-witted little cockswain, from the Boston public 
schools, Harry May, or Harry Bluff, as he was called, 
with all his songs and gibes, went the road to ruin as fast 
as the usual means could carry him. Nat, the " bucket- 
maker," grave and sober, left the seas, and, I believe, is 
a hack-driver in his native town, although I have not 
had the luck to see him since the Alert hauled into her 
berth at the North End. 

One cold winter evening, a pull at the bell, and a 
woman in distress wished to see me. Her poor son 
George, George Somerby, " you remember him, 
sir; he was a boy in the Alert; he always talks of 
you, he is dying in my poor house." I went with her, 
and in a small room, with the most scanty furniture, 
upon a mattress on the floor, -- emaciated, ashy pale, 
with hollow voice and sunken eyes, lay the boy 
George, whom we took out a small, bright boy of four- 
teen from a Boston public school, who fought himself 
into a position on board ship (ante, p. 295), and whom 
we brought home a tall, athletic youth, that might have 
been the pride and support of his widowed mother. There 
he lay, not over nineteen years of age, ruined by every 
vice a sailor's life absorbs. He took my hand in his 
wasted feeble ringers, and talked a little with his hol- 
low, death-smitten voice. I was to leave town the next 
day for a fortnight's absence, and whom had they to see 
to them? The mother named her landlord, she knew 
no one else able to do much for them. It was the name 
of a physician of wealth and high social position, well 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 499 

known in the city as the owner of many small tene- 
ments, and of whom hard things had been said as to his 
strictness in collecting what he thought his dues. Be 
that as it may, my memory associates him only with 
ready and active beneficence. His name has since been 
known the civilized world over, from his having been 
the victim of one of the most painful tragedies in the 
records of the criminal law. 1 I tried the experiment 
of calling upon him ; and, having drawn him away from 
the cheerful fire, sofa, and curtains of a luxurious par- 
lor, I told him this simple tale of woe, of one of his 
tenants, unknown to him even by name. He did not hesi- 
tate; and I well remember how, in that biting, eager 
air, and at a late hour, he drew his cloak about his thin 
and bent form, and walked off with me across the Com- 
mon, and to the South End, nearly two miles of an ex- 
posed walk, to the scene of misery. He gave his full 
share, and more, of kindness and material aid ; and, as 
George's mother told me, on my return, had with medical 
aid and stores, and a clergyman, made the boy's end as 
comfortable and hopeful as possible. 

The Alert made two more voyages to the coast of 
California, successful, and without a mishap, as usual, 
and was sold by Messrs. Bryant and Sturgis, in 1843, to 
Mr. Thomas W. Williams, a merchant of New London, 
Connecticut, who employed her in the whale-trade in 
the Pacific. She was as lucky and prosperous there as 
in the merchant service. When I was at the Sandwich 
Islands in 1860, a man was introduced to me as having 
commanded the Alert on two cruises, and his friends 
told me that he was as proud of it as if he had com- 
manded a frigate. 

I am permitted to publish the following letter from the 

1 (Dr. George Parkman.J 



500 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

owner of the Alert, giving her later record and her his- 
toric end, captured and burned by the rebel Alabama : 

NEW LONDON, March 17, 1868. 
RICHARD H. DANA, ESQ. : 

Dear Sir, I am happy to acknowledge the receipt 
of your favor of the I4th inst, and to answer your in- 
quiries about the good ship Alert. I bought her of 
Messrs. Bryant and Sturgis, in the year 1843, f r mv firm 
of Williams and Haven, for a whaler, in which business 
she was successful until captured by the rebel steamer 
Alabama, September, 1862, making a period of more 
than nineteen years, during which she took and delivered 
at New London upwards of twenty-five thousand barrels 
of whale and sperm oil. She sailed last from this port, 
August 30, 1862, for Kurd's Island (the newly discovered 
land south of Kerguelen's), commanded by Edwin 
Church, and was captured and burned on the pth of 
September following, only ten days out, near or close to 
the Azores, with thirty barrels of sperm oil on board, and 
while her boats were off in pursuit of whales. 

The Alert was a favorite ship with all owners, officers, 
and men who had anything to do with her; and I may 
add almost all who heard her name asked if that was 
the ship the man went in who wrote the book called 
" Two Years before the Mast " ; and thus we feel, with 
you, no doubt, a sort of sympathy at her loss, and that, 
too, in such a manner, and by wicked acts of our own 
countrymen. 

My partner, Mr. Haven, sends me a note from the 
office this P. M., saying that he had just found the last 
log-book, and would send up this evening a copy of the 
last entry on it; and if there should be anything of im- 
portance I will enclose it to you, and if you have any 



TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 501 

further inquiries to put, i will, with great pleasure, en- 
$eavor to answer them. 

Remaining very respectfully and truly yours, 

THOMAS W. WILLIAMS. 

P. S. Since writing the above I have received the 
extract from the log-book, and enclose the same. 

The last Entry in the Log-Book of the Alert. 

" SEPTEMBER 9, 1862. 

" Shortly after the ship came to the wind, with the 
main yard aback, we went alongside and were hoisted 
up, when we found we were prisoners of war, and our 
ship a prize to the Confederate steamer Alabama. We 
were then ordered to give up all nautical instruments 
and letters appertaining to any of us. Afterwards we 
were offered the privilege, as they called it, of joining 
the steamer or signing a parole of honor not to serve in 
the army or navy of the United States. Thank God 
no one accepted the former of these offers. We were 
all then ordered to get our things ready in haste, to go 
on shore, the ship running off shore all the time. We 
were allowed four boats to go on shore in, and when we 
had got what things we could take in them, were ordered 
to get into the boats and pull for the shore, - - the nearest 
land being about fourteen miles off, which we reached 
in safety, and, shortly after, saw the ship in flames. 

" So end all our bright prospects, blasted by a gang of 
miscreants, who certainly can have no regard for human- 
ity so long as they continue to foster their so-called pe- 
culiar institution, which is now destroying our country." 

I love to think that our noble ship, with her long 
record of good service and uniform success, attractive 



502 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

and beloved in her life, should have passed, at her death, 
into the lofty regions of international jurisprudence and 
debate, forming a part of the body of the " Alabam? 
Claims ";-- that, like a true ship, committed to her ele- 
ment once for all at her launching, she perished at sea, 
and, without an extreme use of language, we may say, 
a victim in the cause of her country. 

R. H. D., JR. 
BOSTON, MAY 6, 1869. 




SEVENTY-SIX YEARS AFTER 

BY THE AUTHOR'S SON 

IN the preceding chapter, my father contrasted the 
solitary bay of San Francisco in 1835, i ts one > or 
at most, two vessels and one board hut on shore, 
with the city of San Francisco in 1859 of nearly one 
hundred thousand inhabitants and a fleet of large clipper 
ships and sail of all kind in the harbor, which he saw on 
his arrival in the steamer Golden Gate bringing the " fort- 
nightly " " mails and passengers from the Atlantic world." 
The contrast from 1859 to 1911 is hardly less striking. 
San Francisco has now grown to over four hundred thou- 
sand inhabitants, has twelve daily trains bringing mails 
and passengers from across the continent and beyond, 
and steamers six to ten times the size of the Golden 
Gate. In visiting San Pedro in 1859 he speaks of the 
landing at the head of a creek where boats discharged 
and took off cargoes from a mole or wharf, and of 
how " a tug ran to take off passengers from the steamer 
to the wharf, for the trade of Los Angeles is sufficient 
to support such a vessel." From this landing, a stage- 



504 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

coach went daily to Los Angeles, a town of about twenty 
thousand inhabitants. Now there is a fine harbor at 
which large steamers themselves can land at San Pedro 
and a four-track electric road leading to Los Angeles, 
now a city of three hundred thousand inhabitants. Trains 
on this road go at the rate of sixty miles an hour. The 
picturesqueness, the Aladdin lamp character of the 
change, would not perhaps be heightened, but certainly 
the contrast is greater, if the days of 1835 be compared 
with 1911 instead of 1859, while the startling growth 
from 1859 to the present makes one pause to ask what 
will be the progress and the changes in the next fifty- 
two years. 

Of the fate of the vessels since my father wrote 
" Twenty-four Years After/' little has come to our knowl- 
edge. Of the brig Pilgrim, he says, " I read of her 
total loss at sea by fire off the coast of North Carolina.'' 
On the records of the United States Custom House at 
Boston is this epitaph, " Brig Pilgrim, owner, R. Haley, 
surrender of transfer 30 June 1856, broken up at Key 
West." Is it not romantic and appropriate that this 
vessel, so associated with the then Mexican-Spanish 
coast of California, should have left her bones on the 
coast of the once Spanish colony of Florida? 

A schoolmate of mine dwelling at Yokohama tells us 
of the fate of the ship Lagoda. This is the vessel that 
Captain Thompson of the Pilgrim came aboard and 
"brought his brig with him " (page 137), and to which 
poor Foster fled (page 154), in fear of being flogged. 
The Lagoda was under three hundred and forty tons, 
built at Scituate, Mass., in 1826, of oak with " bluff bows 
and square stern." Later she was sold to a New Bedford 
owner, converted into a bark and turned into a whaler. 
In 1890, she came to Yokohama much damaged, was 



SEVENTY-SIX YEARS AFTER 505 

officially surveyed and pronounced not worth repair, was 
sold at auction and bought as a coal hulk for the Cana- 
dian Pacific Company's steanjers at that port, and in 
1899 was sold to the Japanese, burned and broken up 
at Kanagawa. The fate of these vessels, with that of 
the Alert burned at sea by the Alabama, illustrates how 
vessels, as Ernest Thompson Seton says of wild animals, 
seldom fail to have a hard, if not a tragic, ending. 

It may be interesting to state that the Ayacucho (pro- 
nounced I-ah-coo-tsho) was named after the battle fought 
December 9, 1824, in Peru, South America, in which the 
Spaniards were defeated by the armies of Columbia and 
Peru, which battle ended the Spanish rule in America. 
What became of her after she was sold to the Chilian 
government as a vessel of war, we do not know. 

The Loriotte, we learn, was built at Plymouth, Mass., 
in 1828, was ninety-two tons, originally a schooner and 
later changed into an hermaphrodite brig. Gorham H. 
Nye, her captain and part owner, was born in Nantucket, 
Mass. 

As to persons, there is little to add about Captain 
Thompson. Captain Faucon gave it as his opinion that 
Thompson was not a good navigator and that Thompson 
knew his sailors knew it, and to this cause he attributed in 
some measure Thompson's hard treatment of the men. His 
navigation of the Alert some twelve or fifteen hundred 
miles westward of the usual course around Cape Horn 
on the return passage was an instance. It was much 
criticised by his sailors and officers. It not only greatly 
lengthened the total distance but brought the vessel into 
currents that were more antarctic and more frequented with 
ice than those currents nearer the southwest coast of 
South America, usually taken advantage of on the trip 
west to east. In 1880, on my visit to the scenes of " Two 



5o6 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

Years Before the Mast," I met a nephew of Captain 
Thompson at Santa Barbara. He was then the propri- 
etor of the hotel at which I stayed. He invited me to walk 
with him Sunday afternoon. When we started out together 
I noticed he had a large, thick cane, while I had none. 
Could it be he was to wreak vengeance on the son of 
the man who had exposed his uncle? I was strong and 
athletic after a year as stroke of the Freshman crew and 
three years as stroke of the University crew at Harvard. 
I kept my weather eye open and took care to be a little 
behind rather than ahead of -my companion. At last 
he began on my father's story, " Two Years Before the 
Mast," and his uncle. Now it is coming, thought I, 
but to my surprise and relief he detailed a family trouble 
in which the uncle had tried to get into his own pos- 
session land which belonged in part to his brothers and of 
which he, the captain, had been placed in charge, and 
my friend, for so I could then think of him, wound up 
with saying my father had done his uncle perfect jus- 
tice. The year of Captain Thompson's death was 1837. 
The chief mate of the Pilgrim on her outward voyage, 
Mr. Andrew B. Amerzeen, was born at Epsom, N. H., 
June 7, 1806. After returning in the Alert in 1836, as 
described by my father, his mother prevailed on him 
to give up long voyages, owing to the fact that his 
father, a ship owner and master, had been lost at sea 
with his ship a year or two before. Mr. Amerzeen then 
made several short voyages to the West Indies and in 
the fall of 1838 his ship was dismasted in a storm some- 
where below Cape Hatteras. He was ill with yellow 
fever and confined to his stateroom at the time. The 
ship was worked into one of the southern ports, Savan- 
nah I am told, and there Mr. Amerzeen died September 
27, 1838, from this fever. 



SEVENTY-SIX YEARS AFTER 507 

" Jim Hall," the sailor who was made second mate of 
the Pilgrim in Foster's place, after several years' suc- 
cessful career as Captain and Manager of the Pacific 
Steamship Navigation Company on the west coast of 
South America with the title of Commodore, returned 
to this country, having saved a competence, and settled 
at East Braintree, Massachusetts. He called on me at 
my office some ten years after my father's death. He 
was six feet tall, a handsome man of striking appearance, 
with blue eyes, nearly white hair, a ruddy countenance, 
and a very straight figure for one of nearly eighty years 
of age. He was born at Pittston, Maine, July 4, 1813. 
He is said to have commanded twenty-seven different 
vessels, steam and sail, and never to have had an acci- 
dent, " never cost the underwriters a dollar." He died 
April 22, 1904. His wife (Mary Ann Kimball of Hook- 
set, N. H.) survived him. 

Of George P. Marsh, the new hand shipped at San 
Pedro October 22, 1835, the Englishman with a strange 
career, we have heard in a letter from Mr. Samuel C. 
Clarke of Chicago, passenger with Captain Low on 
the ship Cabot when she took Marsh from the Pelew 
Islands. Mr. Clarke kept a journal at the time, which 
confirms in almost every detail the story as told by 
Marsh, with one or two very minor exceptions but one 
important difference. He told them when first rescued 
that he was " a native of Providence, Rhode Island " 
in America, while to his shipmates in California he al- 
ways said he was a native of England and brought up 
on a smuggler. By a letter from his nephew, Edward 
W. Boyd, we learn that his real name was George 
Walker Marsh, that he was the eldest son of a retired 
English army officer and his wife, and was born in St. 
Malo, France, hence his knowledge of the French Ian- 



508 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

guage. He went to sea against their will but communi- 
cated with them several times afterwards. After he 
left to join the Ayacucho in Chili, all trace of him was 
lost at Valparaiso. 

Captain Edward Horatio Faucon, who took out the 
Alert and brought back the Pilgrim, continued, after my 
father's last chapter, to live at Milton Hill where he 
still kept " the sea under his eye from the piazza, of his 
house." He was occasionally employed by Boston marine 
underwriters on salvage cases, going to many places, from 
St. Thomas, W. I., and the Bermudas, to Nova Scotia 
in the north. He was a constant reader, chiefly interested 
in history, political economy and sociology. He made 
visits, annually or oftener, on my mother until his death 
on May 22, 1894. We all remember his keen eye, erect 
figure, quiet reserve, and old-time courtesy of manner, 
and his personal interest in those who come and go in 
ships, and more particularly in those of the Alert, his 
favorite ship. He was born in Boston, November 21, 
1806. His father, Nicolas Michael Faucon, was a French- 
man of Rouen, who fought in the Napoleonic wars with 
distinction as Captain of the Second Regiment of the 
Hussars, and came to this country, where he married 
Miss Catherine Waters at Trinity Church, Boston. He 
was instructor in French at Harvard, 1806-1816. Our 
Captain Faucon left a widow and daughter, and a prom- 
ising son, Gorham Palfrey Faucon, a Harvard graduate, 
a well-trained civil engineer in the employ of large rail- 
roads, and, like his father, interested in literature and 
public problems. He died in 1897, in the early primo 
of life. 

The third mate, James Byers Hatch, whom Captain 
Faucon in a letter to us called " one of the best of men," 
continued to command large sailing vessels on deep sea 



SEVENTY-SIX YEARS AFTER 509 

voyages with some mishaps and narrow escapes. While 
in California on one of these voyages he found James 
Hall on board another ship at the same wharf, and in a 
letter to Captain Faucon written June, 1893, says, " I 
persuaded him to take the first officer's berth, and what 
an officer he was ! ! Everything went on like clockwork. 
I do not think I ever found the least fault with him 
during the whole time he was with me." Captain Hatch 
lost his only son, a lad of seven, on a voyage to Cal- 
cutta. " The boy," said he, " fell from the top of the 
house on the poop deck and died in about a week." His 
wife and married daughter both died in 1881. He him- 
self settled in Springfield, Mass., his birthplace, and lost 
almost all he had saved in some unsuccessful business 
venture in that city, and lived a rather lonely and sad 
life. In the above letter he said, " I am now ready and 
anxious to leave this earth and take my chance in the 
next." He died at Springfield soon after 1894. 

Benjamin Godfrey Stimson, the young sailor about my 
father's age, was born in Dedham, Mass., March 19, 1816. 
It came naturally to him to go to sea, for his great-uncle 
Benjamin Stimson commanded the colonial despatch 
vessel under Pepperell, in the siege of Louisburg. After 
settling in Detroit in 1837, he married a Canadian lady 
(Miss Ives), owned many lake vessels, including the 
H. P. Baldwin, the largest bark of her day on the great 
lakes, and was Controller of that city from 1868 to 1870, 
during which time the city hall was built by him at less 
than estimated cost. He died December 13, 1871, leav- 
ing a widow and two sons, Edward I. and Arthur K. 
Stimson. The agent Alfred Robinson died in 1895. 

Jack Stewart I met in San Diego on my visit there ic 
1 88 1, as I have stated in the Introduction. He was quite 
a character in the " old " town and made a good deal of 



5io TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

his being one of the crew of the Alert. He died January 
2, 1892, leaving children and grandchildren. Henry 
Mellus, who went out before the mast and left the Pilgrim 
to be agent's clerk ashore, and whom my father met at 
Los Angeles in 1859, was made mayor of that city the 
very next year. 

Last, but not least, from the point of view of friend- 
ship, was my father's "dear Kanaka" (Hope), whose 
life my father saved (by getting ship's medicines from 
the mate, after Captain Thompson had refused to give 
them), and for whom he had so much real affection. 
The last mention we have of Hope is found in my 
father's journal under date of May 24, 1842. 

"Horatio E. Hale called. Been away four years as Philologist 
to the Exploring Expedition. Was in San Francisco three months 
ago and saw the Alert there collecting hides. Also saw 'Hope' 
the Kanaka mentioned in my 'Two Years.' Hope desired his 
Aikane to me Remembered me well. Hale said his face 
lighted up as soon as my name was mentioned to him." 

As to all the rest of the officers and crews, they have 
doubtless all handed in their last account and taken pas- 
sage across the Unknown Sea to the other world. 

Of the " fascinating " Dona Angustias de la Guerra, 
whose graceful dancing with Don Juan Bandini in Santa 
Barbara during the ceremonies attending the marriage of 
her sister, Dona Anita with Mr. Robinson, the Agent, 
in January, 1836, my father describes (pages 300^305), 
something more is to be said. 

On my visit to Santa Barbara in 1880, I had the privi- 
lege of seeing her. I was much impressed with her grace- 
ful carriage, her face still handsome, though she was 
then sixty-five years of age, with her dignity, calm self- 
possession, and above all with her true gentility of man- 
ner and evidently high character and purpose, together 



SEVENTY-SIX YEARS AFTER 511 

with a delightful humor, which shone in her eyes. 
General Sherman, in a letter as late as 1888, says of her, 
she " was the finest woman it has been my good fortune 
to know," and Bayard Taylor in El Dorado (Putnam's 
edition of 1884, page 141) writes, " she is a woman whose 
nobility of character, native vigor and activity of intel- 
lect, and above all, whose instinctive refinement," etc. 

In 1847, when our officers took possession of California, 
she, a Mexican, of the first Mexican family of California, 
took care of the first United States officer who died in 
Monterey, Lieutenant Colville J. Minor, an enemy to her 
country, for which service she received a letter of thanks 
from the First Military Governor, dated August 21, 1848. 

She died January 21, 1890, at the age of seventy-five. 
The name of her first husband was Don Manuel Jimeno 
and of her second Dr. Ord. Caroline Jimeno was the 
daughter " as beautiful as her mother " that Mr. Dana 
met in 1859, then a young lady of seventeen. Her 
daughter by the second marriage, Rebecca R. Ord, 
an " infant in arms " when my father saw her in 1859, 
married Lieutenant John H. H. Peshine of the United 
States Army, who in 1893 was made First Military 
Attache to the Court of Madrid. 

The de la Guerra family of California, I am told, is 
dying out in the male line and will soon leave no 
representative. 

As to Richard Henry Dana, Jr., 1 the author of the book, 
the reader may wish to know something. He came back 
from his two years' trip in 1836 " in a state of intellec- 
tual famine, to books and study and intercourse with 



1 He was Richard Henry Dana, Jr., when he wrote his book, and 
continued to be called so through life, for his father, a poet and littera- 
teur, lived to the age of ninety-two, and died but three years before 
his son. 



512 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

educated men." He had left his class at Harvard at 
the end of the sophomore year (1833), on account of 
the trouble with his eyes and sailed about a year later. 
When he returned, September, 1836, his class had gradu- 
ated in the summer of 1835, but with a little study he 
passed the examinations for the then senior class, which he 
entered late in the autumn of 1836. On graduation in 
1837 he not only stood first, but " had the highest marks 
that were given out in every branch of study." He took 
the Bowdoin prize for English prose composition and 
the first Boylston prize in elocution. He then entered 
the Law School and became instructor in elocution under 
Professor Edward T. Channing, and during this period 
wrote the " Two Years Before the Mast." In February. 
1840, he went into the office of Charles G. Loring and 
in the following September opened his own office and 
began the active practice of law. He was born August 
i, 1815, at Cambridge, Mass., with a line of ancestors 
reaching back to the early days of the Massachusetts 
Bay Colony, with several colonial governors in the ma- 
ternal lines. His great grandfather, Richard Dana, was 
one of the early patriots, a " Son of Liberty," who fre- 
quently presided at the meetings at Faneuil Hall at which 
Otis, Adams and others spoke. This man's son, my 
father's grandfather, Francis Dana, was several times 
member of the State Colonial Legislature and of the 
Continental Congress. He was one of the signers of the 
Articles of Confederation and married Elizabeth Ellery, 
the daughter of William Ellery, one of the signers of 
the Declaration of Independence. Francis Dana had been 
sent abroad on a special mission to England in 1774 be- 
fore the breaking out of the Revolutionary War, to sound 
English public opinion, for which he had unusual ad- 
vantages. He returned in the late spring of 1776 advis- 



SEVENTY-SIX YEARS AFTER 513 

ing independence, and soon after this the Declaration of 
Independence was signed. Francis Dana was also ap- 
pointed on a special mission to Paris and Holland with 
John Adams, later was made Minister to Russia, and 
after the peace with Great Britain was made Chief Jus- 
tice of Massachusetts. Mr. Dana's own father, Richard 
Henry Dana, Senior, was a poet and literary critic and a 
founder of the " North American Review." Young Rich- 
ard was brought up in very moderate circumstances. His 
grandfather, who had accumulated a good deal of prop- 
erty, lost the larger part of it through unfortunate in- 
vestments in canals by a relation, in which he had 
himself become more deeply involved than he supposed. 
I remember my father's saying that his spending money 
for one whole term consisted of twenty-five cents, which 
he carried in his pocket in cases of emergencies. He 
walked to and from Boston to save omnibus fares, had 
no carpet on his college room and had no chore-man to 
black his boots and fetch his water and fuel. This, 
however, was the usual custom in his day with all but 
the rich collegian. The necessities of life did not then 
demand so high a rate of " living wage " as to-day. 

He entered on this sea experience with his eyes open. 
He had the opportunity of going on a long voyage as 
a passenger, but he refused it, and resolutely took the 
harder way of accomplishing his purpose of toughening 
himself. A little incident of his boyhood gives a hint of 
his pluck. His schoolmaster, angry at what he chose 
to call " disobedience " on the excuse of a " pretended " ill- 
ness, told the boy to put out his left hand. " Upon 
this hand/' wrote Dana years afterward, '" he inflicted 
six blows with all his strength, and then six upon 
the right hand. I was in such a frenzy of indignation 
at his injustice and his insulting insinuation, that I 



514 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

could not have uttered a word for my life. I was too 
small and slender to resist, and could show my spirit 
only by fortitude. He called for my right hand again, 
and gave six more blows in the same manner, and then 
six more upon the left. My hands were swollen and in 
acute pain, but I did not flinch nor show a sign of suf- 
fering. He was determined to conquer, and gave six 
more blows upon each hand, with full force. Still there 
was no sign from me of pain or submission. I could have 
gone to the stake for what I considered my honor. The 
school was in an uproar of hissing and scraping and 
groaning, and the master turned his attention to the 
other boys and let me alone. He said not another word 
to me through the day. If he had I could not have 
answered, for my whole soul was in my throat and not 
a word could get out. ... I went in the afternoon to 
the trustees of the school, stated my case, produced my 
evidence, and had an examination made. The next morn- 
ing but four boys went to school, and the day following 
the career of Mr. W. ended." 

That Dana had a keen sense of injustice not merely when 
he himself was concerned, but whenever he was brought 
face to face with injustice, the reader of this book has 
discovered for himself, and that a high sense of honor 
and right was a controlling passion of his life will ap- 
pear when one knows his career after he returned from 
his long voyage. It rendered his attitude toward his 
profession, that of a lawyer, very different from that 
of a man merely seeking a livelihood. 

Beside his work for the sailors to which I refer later 
there was another class of peculiarly helpless sufferers to 
make even stronger demand upon his sense of justice. 
By his social relations and by his strong antipathy to 
violence of every kind, Dana would naturally have found 



SEVENTY-SIX YEARS AFTER 515 

his place amongst the men who in politics prefer orderly 
and regular and especially respectable associations. He 
came into active life when a small band of earnest men 
and women were agitating for the abolition of slavery. 
Some among them were also attacking the church, and 
proposing all sorts of changes in society. But Dana was 
a man of strong religious principles and feelings, and he 
had little faith in any violent change in the social order. 
His diaries and letters of the period show that he was 
annoyed by the temper of the Abolitionists. They were 
not his kind. Nevertheless he was not a man to steer 
between two parties. In a great moral crisis he was 
sure to take sides. He took sides now and came out 
as a member of the Free Soil party. He made a dis- 
tinction, which was a clear one, between the Free Soil 
party and the uncompromising Abolitionists. But in the 
rising heat of political feeling, other people did not make 
a like distinction, and Dana, a young lawyer, married 
now, and with a family growing up about him, found 
himself put out into the cold by the well-to-do, the suc- 
cessful, and the respectable. 

Dana had a keen scent for politics, and he looked with 
the strongest interest upon the great political movement 
which was stirring the country; but he did not espouse 
the cause of free soil because he expected to profit by 
it politically. On the contrary, he knew that he was 
shutting himself out from political preferment by such a 
course, and at the same time was imperilling his profes- 
sional success. It was the act of a man who stood up 
for the cause of righteousness, without counting the cost, 
In like manner he now had the opportunity of illustrat- 
ing afresh his attitude toward the law, for he held that 
law was for the accomplishment of justice, and that it 
was most glorious when its strong arm protected and 



Si6 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

defended the weak and downtrodden. By a natural 
course, therefore, he became a prominent counsel for 
those unfortunate negroes who, at this time, in Boston, 
were held as fugitive slaves. While the ingenuity of 
some was expended in putting the law on the side of the 
strong and the rich, Dana, who was convinced in his mind 
that the law of the state was honestly to be invoked in 
defence of the fugitive slave, gave himself heart and 
soul to the work of applying the law, and received 
no remuneration for his services in any fugitive 
slave case. Instead, he received at the close of one of 
the most important cases, a blow from a blackguard 
which narrowly missed maiming him for life. It is 
worth while to read what Dana wrote after rendering all 
the aid he could in the defence of Anthony Bums : " The 
labors of a lawyer are ordinarily devoted to questions of 
property between man and man. He is to be congratu- 
lated if, though but for once, in any signal cause he can 
devote them to the vindication of any of ^the great 
primal rights affecting the highest interests of man." He 
was a member of the noted Free Soil Convention at Buf- 
falo of 1848, and presided at the first meeting of the 
Republican party in Massachusetts. 

It may be a source of wonder to some that Dana, who 
achieved a great literary success in the book which he 
wrote when a young man, did not pursue literature as an 
avocation, if not as a vocation. He published but one 
other book, a narrative of a trip to Cuba made in 1859, 
and he wrote a few magazine articles. The expla- 
nation must be found in the temperament and character 
of the man. His " Two Years Before the Mast " is a vivid 
representation of what he saw and experienced at a most 
impressionable age. He put his young life into it; he 
was not thinking of literature when he wrote it, and thus 



SEVENTY-SIX YEARS AFTER 517 

the book takes rank with those books which are bits of 
life rather than products of art. Afterward he was im- 
mersed in his law practice, and he was a prodigious 
worker. He saw with great clearness the points in the 
cases he took up, and he was untiring in his industry to 
cover the whole case. He did all the work himself ; 
he did not lay the details on others, and avail him- 
self of their diligence. His time, moreover, as we have 
shown, was very much at the disposal of those who 
could pay him little or nothing for his services, and he 
gave months of labor to the unremunerative defence of 
the fugitive slave. Moreover, his deep religious convic- 
tion and his high sense of legal honor often stood in the 
way of his profit. So it was that his life was one of 
hard work and little more than support of his family. 
There was scant time for any wandering into fields of 
literature. 

Yet he left behind him some other writings which 
show well that the hand which penned the " Two Years " 
never lost its cunning. He made an interesting visit to 
Europe, and, later in life, in 1859-60, made a journey 
round the world. The record which he kept on these 
journeys has been drawn upon largely in the biography l 
prepared by Charles Francis Adams, who was in his early 
days a student in Dana's office, and there one finds page 
after page of delightfully animated description and narra- 
tive. He wrote for his own pleasure and for that of his 
family, and his writing was like brilliant talk, the outflow 
of a generous mind not easily saved for more common use. 
He published notes to Wheaton's " International Law," 
several of which are quoted in all new works on the sub- 
ject to this day. 

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



518 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

The journey which he took round the world was for 
the purpose of restoring his health, which had been 
greatly impaired. He came back in improved condition, 
and entered upon the excited period of the war, when 
he held the office of United States District Attorney. 
During this time he argued the famous prize causes be- 
fore the United States Supreme Court, and his argument 
was the one that turned the Court, which was democratic 
in its politics, to take the unanimous view that the United 
States Government had a right to establish blockade and 
take prizes of foreign vessels that were breaking this 
blockade. Had it not been for this decision, so largely in- 
fluenced, as the Court itself generously states, by Mr. 
Dana's argument, the Civil War would have been greatly 
prolonged, with possibly another, or at least a doubtful 
issue. He afterward served in the Massachusetts legis- 
lature, and there made several noted speeches, among 
others his argument on the repeal of the usury laws, a bill 
for which was unexpectedly carried in that body as the 
result of this speech which has been reprinted for use 
before legislatures of other states. 

He accepted a nomination to Congress, chiefly as a pro- 
test against the nomination of B. F. Butler, who was 
running on a paper money and repudiation platform 
against the principles of his own party, but Mr. Dana 
was defeated. In 1876 he was nominated by President 
Grant minister to England, but his nomination was 
not confirmed by the Senate, for his nomination had 
been made without consulting the Senatorial cabal and 
also he had bitter enemies, who carried on a warfare 
against him upon terms which he was too honorable to 
accept. 

A selection of Mr. Dana's speeches, the most inter- 
esting historically or those of most present value, have 



SEVENTY-SIX YEARS AFTER 519 

been published, together with a biographical sketch, 1 sup- 
plementing the Life written by Charles Francis Adams. 

Two years later, broken now in health, but with his 
mind vigorous, he resolved to give up the practice of law 
and devote himself to writing a work on international 
law. For this purpose, and as a measure of economy, he 
went to Europe, and for two years applied himself 
diligently to his plan for a book which he believed would 
give some fundamentally new views on international 
law. He had made many notes and had begun to write 
the first few chapters when he died, after a short illness, 
from pneumonia, in Rome, January 6, 1882. He was 
buried in the beautiful Protestant cemetery of that city. 

His wife, who was Sarah Watson of Hartford, Conn., 
survived him, and he left five daughters and a son. 
There are now ten of his grandchildren living (four of 
them Dana grandsons), and also four great-grandchildren. 

Finally, what did Mr. Dana accomplish for sailors? 
In the preface to the first edition (1840) he said, " If it 
shall . . . call more attention to the welfare of seamen, 
or give any information as to their real condition which 
may serve to raise them in the rank of beings, and to 
promote in any measure their religious and moral im- 
provement, and diminish the -hardships of their daily life, 
the end of its publication will be answered." And after 
the flogging at San Pedro, there was his vow (page 125), 
" that, if God should ever give me the means, I would do 
something to redress the grievances and relieve the suf- 
ferings of that class of beings with whom my lot had 
so long been cast." For redressing individual grievances 
he took the part of the sailor in many a lawsuit where 
his remuneration was often next to nothing, and by which 

1 Speeches in Stirring Times and Letters to a Son. Richard H. 
Dana, Jr. Boston and New York: Houghton, Mifflin Company, 1910. 



520 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

action he incurred the ill will of possible future rich 
and influential clients. In his journal December 14, 1847, 
he says, " I often have a good deal to contend with in the 
slurs or open opposition of masters and owners of ves- 
sels whose seamen I undertake to defend or look after," 
though he adds there were honorable exceptions. These 
cases he fought hard and bravely, and into them he put 
his whole mind, heart and soul. He could not have 
done better in them if he had been paid the highest fees 
known to the Bar. He settled as many of these cases 
out of court as he could. He believed any reasonable 
settlement better for the sailor than a legal contest, though 
his own fees would be less. Beside taking the part of 
the individual seamen, he published the " Seamen's 
Friend," a book giving the full legal rights of sailors as 
well as their duties, a set of definitions of sea terms, 
which to this day is quoted in all the dictionaries, and 
much information for the use of beginners. He drew 
up a petition and prepared an accompanying leaflet ad- 
dressed to Congress for " The More Speedy Trial of 
Seamen." He wrote numerous articles for the press and 
delivered many addresses on behalf of seamen, or for 
institutions for their benefit such as " Father " Taylor's 
Bethel and for a more cordial reception of sailors in the 
church. He wrote the introduction of Leech's " A Voice 
from the Main Deck," but above all it was the indirect 
influence of his " Two Years Before the Mast " which 
did the most to relieve their hardships. 

While on a trip in Europe in 1875-76, I spent some 
weeks in London and visited Parliament frequently to 
study the proceedings and see and hear its leading men. 
By a strange coincidence at my very first visit, made at 
the invitation of the late Sir William Vernon Harcourt, 
after I had sent in my card and was ushered into the 



SEVENTY-SIX YEARS AFTER 521 

inner lobby, I saw a man, evidently a member, rushing 
out into this lobby, and, to quote from my journal written 
at the time, " in a wild state of excitement, throwing about 
his arms and shaking his fists, with short ejaculations such 
as ' I '11 expose the villains, all of them/ and I heard the 
words ' Cheats ! ' and I think ' Liars ! ' " This was a 
strange introduction to the then decorous British House 
of Commons, for this was before the active days of Par- 
nell. I saw poor, blind Henry Fawcett 1 and others trying 
to calm the man. The lobby was immediately cleared 
of strangers, so I saw no more just then, but I was later 
admitted into the House and learned that this man was 
the famous Plimsoll (1824-1898). He had become en- 
raged because his Merchants' Shipping Bill had just been 
thrown out by Disraeli, then Prime Minister, on this day 
of the so-called " Slaughter of the Innocents," that is, 
the day when the Government abandoned all bills which 
they were not to carry out that session. Justin McCarthy, 
in his " History of Our Own Times " (Vol. IV, page 24, 
et seq.), gives a full account of this scene. PlimsoH's 
Bill was a measure for the protection of seamen against 
the danger of being sent to sea in vessels unfit for the 
voyage. To understand the whole situation of the sailor 
in civilized countries, one must know that the only way 
allowed by law or custom for him to get employment is 
to sign articles sometimes without even knowing the 
name of the vessel, and almost always without an oppor- 
tunity to examine or even see her. Once having signed 
these papers, sailors are by law compelled to keep their 
contracts and can be imprisoned and sent aboard if they 
try to escape. Every other person in every other kind 
of employment, since the abolition of slavery, signing 
similar papers has a right to refuse to carry out his 

1 The political economist and M. P. 



522 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

agreement, with no other penalty than a suit for damages. 
He cannot be forced to carry out the contract in person. 
If this were not so, there would be a sort of contract 
peonage or slavery endorsed by the law. It is otherwise, 
however, with the sailors. The United States Supreme 
Court in the case of Robertson r. Baldwin (165 U. S. 
275, 1896) decided, Judge Harlan dissenting, that not- 
withstanding the thirteenth amendment to the Constitu- 
tion which, it was supposed, had prohibited involuntary 
servitude except as punishment for crime, sailors could 
be forced on board of vessels, and the facts that the 
vessel was unfit for living, the food bad, and the master 
brutal were no defences. The headnote of the case says, 
" The contract of a sailor has always been treated as 
an exceptional one involving to a certain extent the sur- 
render of his personal liberty during the life of his 
contract." Mr. Plimsoll was rightly convinced that 
unseaworthy vessels left port for the sake of insurance 
money on valued policies, that the lives of the seamen 
were thereby imperilled, and that the poor sailor had 
no redress before the law. The bill that had just been 
thrown out by Disraeli provided that if one-quarter of 
the seamen appealed on the ground of unseaworthiness 
a survey would be ordered, the vessel detained till 
the survey was made, and if she were unseaworthy or 
improperly provisioned the sailors would be relieved 
from their contract unless those defects were cured. It 
also had other minor provisions for the benefit of the 
sailors. In Parliament that night, it was thought that 
PlimsolPs wild conduct had destroyed his reputation as a 
sane man and had ruined the chances of ever passing his 
bill, but outside of Parliament the effect was just the 
reverse. The public was aroused to a full understanding 
of the essential merits of his bill and the government 



SEVENTY-SIX YEARS AFTER 523 

was forced to put it on the calendar and carry it through 
that session in its substantial features, and the following 
year (1876) a more complete and perfected act covering 
the same points was passed. 

In the United States, a most interesting character, 
Andrew Furuseth, a Norwegian, himself a sailor, and 
without much education but a man of wonderful force, 
has succeeded, largely by the aid of labor unions, in 
forcing through Congress bills by which no American 
seaman can any longer be forced against his will into 
this servitude nor any foreign seaman on domestic 
voyages. Another evil tending to degrade and enslave 
the sailor was the allowance made by law of three months' 
advance wages on beginning a voyage. This apparently 
harmless and, to the Credulous and inexperienced legis- 
lator, beneficial provision gave a chance to the sailors' 
boarding-house keeper and runner, or " crimp," as he or 
she is called, to " shanghai " seamen and put them aboard 
drunk or drugged, with little or no clothing but what 
they had on their backs and rob them of this advance 
money. The " crimps' ' share of this money in San 
Francisco alone has been calculated at one million dollars 
a year, or equal to eighty per cent of the seamen's entire 
wages. Part of this had to be shared with corrupt police 
and politicians and some of it has been traced to sources 
" higher up." So common was this practice that vessels 
sailing from San Francisco and New York had so few 
sober sailors aboard, that it was customary to take long- 
shoremen to set sail, heave anchor and get the ship 
under way, and then send them back by tug. This is 
precisely what happened on the well-equipped and new 
ship on which I sailed from New York in 1879 for Cali- 
fornia, and the same situation is described by Captain 
Arthur H. Clark in his account of seamen in his " Clipper 



S2 4 TWO YEARS BEFORE THE MAST 

Ship Era." These poor sailors, without proper clothing, 
had to draw on the ship's " slop chest " for necessary 
oilskins, thick jackets, mittens and the like, and used up 
almost all the rest of their wages. The small balance 
was wasted or stolen, or both, at the port of arrival, and 
off they were shipped again by the " crimp " with no 
chance to save or improve their condition. After years 
of agitation by the friends of sailors the advance pay is 
now wholly abolished in the coastwise trade in America 
and the three months' advance cut down to one in the 
foreign trade, immensely to the benefit of the sailor and 
the discouragement of the " crimp." The argument that 
without this system of bondage and " crimpage " it would 
be impossible to secure crews is fully answered by the 
experience of Great Britain since tWe passage of the Plim- 
soll Acts and in the United States since the recent acts 
of Congress. On the contrary, these measures tend to 
secure a better class of sailors and compel improvement of 
the conditions under which they do their work. I was 
told when in England that Plimsoll, who himself was 
not a sailor, was influenced among other things by my 
father's book " Two Years Before the Mast." 



THE END 



APPENDIX 




A SHIP'S SAILS 



Fore topmast staysail. 
Jib. 

Flying jib. 
Fore spencer. 
Main spencer. 
Spanker. 
Foresail. 
Fore topsail. 
Fore topgallant sail. 
Fore royal. 



I 

a 

3 
4 
5 
6 

7 
8 

9 

10 

1 1 Fore skysail. 

12 Mainsail. 

13 Main topsail. 

14 Main topgallant sail. 
I 5 Main royal. 

1 6 Main skysail. 

1 7 Mizzen topsail. 



1 8 Mizzen topgallant Sail. 

19 Mizzen royal. 

20 Mizzen skysail. 

21 Lower studdingsail. 
2 la Lee ditto. 

22 Fore topmast studdingsail. 
22a Lee ditto 

23 Fore topgallant studdingsail 
238 Lee ditto. 

24 Fore royal studdingsail. 
248 Lee ditto. 

25 Main topmast studdingsail. 
2511 Lee ditto. 

26 Main topgallant studdingsail. 
26* Lee ditto. 

27 Main royal studdingsail. 
27* Lee ditto. 



THE SPARS AND RIGGING OF A SHIP 



I Head. 

l Head -boards. 

3 Stem. 

4 Bows. 

5 Forecastle. 

6 Waist. 

7 Quarter-deck. 

8 Gangway. 

9 Counter. 

10 Stern. 

11 Tafferel. 

I 2 Fore chains. 
i 3 Main chains. 

14 Mizzen chains. 

1 5 Bowsprit. 

1 6 Jib-boom. 

1 7 Flying jib-boom. 

1 8 Spritsail yard. 

19 Martingale. 

20 Bowsprit cap. 

2 i Foremast. 

22 Fore topmast. 

23 Fore topgallant mast 

24 Fore royal mast. 

25 Fore skysail mast. 

26 Mainmast. 

27 Main topmast. 

28 Main topgallant mast. 

29 Main royal mast. 

30 Main skysail mast. 

31 Mizzenmast. 

32 Mizzen topmast. 

33 Mizzen topgallant 

mast. 

34 Mizzen royal mast. 

35 Mizzen skysail mast. 

36 Fore spencer gaff. 
36 Main spencer gaff. 

38 Spanker gaff. 

39 Spanker boom. 

40 Fore top. 

41 Foremast cap. 

41 Fore topmast cross- 
trees. 

43 Main top. 

44 Mainmast cap. 

45 Main topmast cross- 

trees. 

46 Mizzen top. 

47 Mizzenmast cap. 



48 Mizzen topmast cross 

trees. 

49 Fore yard. 

50 Fore topsail yard. 

51 Fore topgallant yard. 

52 Fore royal yard. 

53 Main yard. 

54 Main topsail yard. 

55 Main topgallant yard. 

56 Main royal yard. 

57 Cross-jack yard. 

58 Mizzen topsail yard. 

59 Mizzen topgallant yard 

60 Mizzen royal yard. 

6 1 Fore truck. 

62 Main truck. 

63 Mizzen truck. 

64 Fore stay. 

65 Fore topmast stay. 

66 Jib stay. 

67 Fore topgallant stay. 

68 Flying-jib stay. 

69 Fore royal stay. 

70 Fore skysail stay. 

71 Jib guys. 

72 Flying-jib guys. 

73 Fore lifts. 

74 Fore braces. 

75 Fore topsail lifts. 

76 Fore topsail braces. 

77 Fore topgallant lifts. 

78 Fore topgallant braces. 

79 Fore royal lifts. 
!o Fore royal braces. 
!l Fore rigging. 

82 Fore topmast rigging. 
(3 Fore topgallant shrouds. 

Fore topmast backstays. 
?5 Fore topgallant back- 
stays. 
?6 Fore royal backstays. 

Main stay. 
!8 Main topmast stay. 

Main topgallant stay. 

90 Main royal stay. 

91 Main lifts. 

92 Main braces. 

93 Main topsail lifts. 
14 Main topsail braces. 

95 Main topgallant lifts. 



96 Main topgallant 

braces. 

97 Main royal lifts. 

98 Main royal braces. 

99 Main rigging. 

100 Main topmast rigging. 

1 01 Main topgallant rig- 

ging- 

1 02 Main topmast back- 

stays. 

103 Main topgallant back- 

stays. 

1 04 Main royal backstays. 

105 Cross-jack lifts. 

1 06 Cross-jack braces. 

107 Mizzen topsail lifts. 

1 08 Mizzen topsail braces. 

109 Mizzen topgallant 

lifts. 

:io Mizzen topgallant 
braces. 

111 Mizzen royal lifts. 

112 Mizzen royal braces. 

113 Mizzen stay. 

114 Mizzen topmast stay. 

115 Mizzen topgall't stay. 

1 1 6 Mizzen royal stay. 

117 Mizzen skysail stay. 

118 Mizzen rigging. 

119 Mizzen topmast rig- 

ging- 

1 2O Mizzen topgallant 

shrouds. 

Mizzen topmast back- 
stays. 

Mizzen topgallant 
backstays. 

123 Mizzen royal back- 

stays. 

124 Fore spencet vangs. 

125 Main spencer vangs. 

26 Spanker vangs. 

27 Ensign halyards. 

28 Spanker peak hal- 

yards. 

129 Foot-rope to fore yard. 

130 Foot-rope to main 

yard. 

31 Foot-rope to cross, 
jack yard. 



121 



122 




SHIP 






FULL-RIGGED BRIG 



HERMAPHRODITE BRIG 



SHIP. A ship is square-rigged throughout ; that is, she has tops, and carries 
square sails on all three of her masts. 

BARK. A bark is square-rigged at her fore and mainmasts, and differs from 
a ship in having no top, and carrying only fore-and-aft sails at her 
mizzenmast. 



. A full-rigged brig is square-rigged at both her masts. 

HERMAPHRODITE BRIG. An hermaphrodite brig is square-rigged at her fore- 
mast ; but has no top, and only fore-and-aft sails at her mainmast. 

HERMAPHRODITE BRIGS sometimes carry small square sails aloft at the main ; 
in which case they are called BRIGANTINES, and differ from a FULL- 
RIGGED BRIG in that they have no top at the mainmast, and carry a 
fore-and-aft mainsail instead of a square mainsail and trysail. 



APPENDIX 

EXTRACTS FROM UNOFFICIAL LOG OF ANDREW B. AMAZF.EN 
ON BOARD THE ALERT ON THE HOME PASSAGE FROM 
SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA, TO BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS. 

N. B. The nautical day in a ship's log always runs from noon of 
one day to noon of the next, and is called by the calendar day on 
which it ends, while the day in Mr. Dana's journal is a land day, 
running from midnight to midnight. This explains the difference 
of dates which occasionally appears, as for example, in Mr. Dana's 
journal they leave San Diego Sunday afternoon, May 8th, while in 
the log it is on Monday, May 9th. 

Monday 9 day of May 1836 

Lying at Port Diego At noon got underway with a fine 
breeze from the westward in running out the Harbour got on 
a sand bank Shortly after floated and stood to sea in Compv 

with Ship California (p 350 ante) at 

5AM carried away F. Top Mast Studding Sail Boom 

Saturday 14 day of May 1836 

Fresh Trades and fine weather all drawing sail set 

Sundy ^d day of July 1836 

Commences with strong breezes and heavy Squalls of rain 
and Snow Shortened Sail Now here comes trouble at I p. M. 
Discovered a great Number of Islands of Ice ahead At 3 do. 
Counted 18 Islands of Deck at Sun Set we were com- 
pletely surrounded this may seem incredible to some per- 
sons but it is a positive fact Midnight Squally & Islands 
of Ice all around Hove to to avoid running into it (p 382 
ante) 

Mondy 4/ h day of July 1836 

Islands of Ice all around in sight here We have to Cut and 
Shear like a struck Dolphin 9-30 p. M. thick Weather and in 
the midst of danger hove too not being safe to run Midnight 
Squally 4 Islands of Ice in sight Day light kept away Ice 



528 APPENDIX 

still in sight and very large highest of these IsM of Ice from 
the water is from 150 to zoo feet and ^ mile in length 
rather more 
Tuesdy 5 th day of July 

Strong breezes and Squally with Snow and plenty of Ice in 
Sight 6 P. M. hove too under Close reefd Maintop Sail it not 
being Safe to run on account of the Ice Midnight heavy 
breezes Kept away to run clear of an Island of Ice & hove too 

on the other tack Several Islads of Ice in 

sight 
Tbursdy 7 ib day of July 1836 

At i P. M. Saw Several Large Isld of 

Ice and Shortly afterwards we were completely surrounded by 
an innumerable Number of Small ones Mid- 
night heavy gale & Cloudy Several Islds of Ice 

in Sight 
Friday %tb day of July 1836 

Saw an Isld of Ice on the weather Bow 

wore Ship and hove too The Capt. is frightened and in a 
quandary he says there is no prospects of Making a passage 
around Cape Horn but that is all nonsense if he would 
take courage make Sail and Crack on when there is a 
Chance we should soon get out of this our Situation is 
dangerous tis true, but I think it better to try to get out of 
Dangers way than to Stand and let him run over us Morning 

wore Ship one Island of Ice in sight Just 

enough to keep the Capt. in the quivers 
Saturdy gtb day of July 1836 

Commences fresh breezes and rainy Ship still Lying too 
The Capt. thinks it to dangerous to un- 
dertake to go round Cape Horn on account the Ice therefore 
be has Concluded to go through the Straights of Magellan 
he is not acquainted there and it being in the winter & the 
Ship very deep I think it is jumping out the Frying pan Slap 

into the Fire (p 394 ante) At 

10 A. M. Light breezes from the Sd and Ed kept away & made 
sail for the Straits 



APPENDIX 529 

Sundy 10 Jay of July 1836 

Employed getting the anchors on the Bows 

Ends light airs and very pleasant I hope the Ice 

has bid us adieu (p 396 ante) 
Monday I \tb day of July \ 836 

At 3 P M the wind being ahead to proceed 

for the Straights the Capt. altered his mind and Bore 

away for the Cape (397 ante) 
Tbursdy l\th day of July 1836 

I p M Saw a Small Isld of lea ahead 

Wore Ship Ship under Short Sail 

Sundy I 7 day of July 1836 

Fine breezes and pleasant weather 2 p M Saw a Large Island 

if Ice on the lee Bow & 2 Smaller ones ahed 
Friday 22 day of July 1836 

8 A. M. Clear Weather made Staten 

Land bearing N W per Compass Dist 3 5 miles Passed a 

large Island of Ice & this I hope is the fag End of the Ice 
Satdy 23 day of July 1836 

4PM Cape St. Johns bore W 

N W Dist 20 Miles 
Tbursdy 4 day of August 1836 

from 6 to 8 heavy rain attended 

with Sharp Lightn'g and a Ccmplizant ' at the-Fore & Main 

royal mast heads 
Sundy 7 day of August 1836 

SAM spoke the English Barque Mary Catharine from Ba 

hia Bound to Calcutta (p 428 ante) 
Mondy 8 day of August 1836 

10 A M Passed a Large English Ship Standing to the Sd & 

Ed (p 428 ante) 
Friday 12 day of August 1836 

. . . .5A.M. Saw the Island Trinidad bearing per Compass 

N y z W Dist about 40 miles (p 429 ante) 

1 Meaning corposant (Corpo Santo, holy body) or St. Elmo's light, "a vola- 
tile meteor or ignis fatuus, sometimes seen, in dark nights, about the deck or rig- 
ging of a ship." Worcester's Dictionary (p. 434-5 ante). 



530 APPENDIX 

Tuesday 16 day of August 1836 

Midnight Squally Carried a<.v ay the flying jib-boon\ 

(p 440 ante). 

Weddy i 7 day of August 1836 

Midnight Carried away another flying jib-boom It 

seems that these trades dont approve of a flying jib being Set 
and I think he is half right However they are making prepa- 
rations to give him another (p 440 ante). 

Friday 19 day of August 1836 

3 P M. made the Island Ferdinand Noronha 

bearing per Comp. 3 N N W Dist 30 Miles (p 429 ante) 

Satdy 20 day of August 1836 

ggg" 27 days from Statten Land 

that is going the whole figure (p 440 ante) 

Monday iz day of Sept. 1836 

At 8 A.. M. Spoke the Brig Solon 

from N York bound to Curacoa & Supplied us with Some 
vegetables (p 441-2 ante) 

Sun Jay 18 Jay of Sept 1836 

at 10 Do Struck Soundings in 65 fath- 
oms Muddy Bottom (p 45 i ante) 

Mondy 19 day of Sept 1836 

4 A. M. 40 fathoms Sandy Bottom (p 451-2 ante) 

CREW LISTS AND REGISTERS OF VESSELS 

The following lists were copied in 1892 from the United States 
Custom House records at Boston. These records have since been 
destroyed. 

The "purser's names," that is the names and data on shipping 
lists, are often inaccurate. Sometimes men enlist under names not 
their own. If an error once occurs on the official rolls the error is 
handed down, as the name for each new voyage must correspond 
with the transfer papers from which it is taken. This may explain, 
for example, the height of James Hall, put at five feet ten (probably 
his height when younger). He was about six feet. 

The index gives the references to the persons in addition to what 
is found in the following notes. 



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INDEX 



INDEX 



A. J. Donelson, ship, 395, 397. 

Adams, Charles Francis, his Rich- 
ard Henry Dana, 517. 

Administradores (civil governors) in 
California, 211. 

Adobes, 99. 

Aikane, in Kanaka parlance, 183. 

Alabama, Confederate cruiser, 500. 

Albatrosses, off the Cape, 40, 41. 

Alcatraz Island, 464, 470, 472. 

Alert, Indiaman, expected on the 
coast, 1 1 1 ; arrives at Santa Bar- 
bara, 204; Capt. Thompson 
transferred to, 204; enthusiastic 
descriptions of, 204, 205; ex- 
pected at San Diego, 218; her ar- 
rival, 220, 221; described, 221, 
222, 223, 224; her officers and 
crew, 222; her fast outward trip, 
223; a lucky ship, 224; D. ex- 
changes to, 224; routine of sea- 
duty on, 225 Jf.; her boats, 226, 
237, 238; sails from San Diego, 
226 Jff.; crew of, well-used and 
contented, 228; pleasant night- 
watches on, 229; the larboard 
watch, 229, 230; excellent disci- 
pline on, 231; tacking ship on, 
231, 232; easily worked, 232, 
233; anchors at San Pedro, 233; 
furling sails, etc. on, 234, 235; 
receives hides from Pilgrim, 235; 
merry-making on, 236; contrast 
between Pilgrim and, 237; 
beaten by Catalina to Santa 
Barbara, 239, 240; at San Diego, 
249; at San Juan, 249, 250; in a 
southeaster, 252-254; at Santa 
Barbara, 259; in gale there, 269; 
dispute as to comparative sailing 



qualities of, and of Ayacucho, 
270; sails for Monterey with 
Mexican passengers, 270; in 8- 
day gale off Point Conception, 
272-279; arrives at San Fran- 
cisco, 280; a mass of hides from 
end to end, 284; sails from San 
Francisco to Monterey, 291 ff.; 
and up and down the coast, 307- 
323; at San Diego, cleaning out 
for homeward voyage, 325 jf.; 
loading hides on, 327 /.; the 
last hide taken aboard of, 343; 
her cargo for home, 347 and n M 
348; getting under way, 348, 
349; delayed by the tide, and 
forced to anchor again, 350; 
again under way, 350, 351; trial 
of speed with California, 351; 
watches for the voyage, 353 ; crew 
of, diminished in number, 353; 
divers leaks in, 356, 357 and n.; 
fine southward voyage of, 357^- 
livestock on, 361, 362; fine sail- 
ing qualities of, 365 ; preparations 
for the Horn, 367, 368, 372; 
change of weather conditions, 
369 /.; story of the boisterous 
voyage around the Cape, 374^-J 
icebergs, 381, 398, 399 ; a "tem- 
perance ship," 385; quality of 
stores on, 387 n.; discontent of 
crew, and suggestions of mu- 
tiny, 390 /.; running for Magel- 
lan Straits, 394, 395; in the At- 
lantic at last, 411; running inside 
Falklands, 413; Capt. T. piles 
sail on, 414, 415; rapid sailing of, 
419, 420; putting in order for 
making port, 423, 446; scurvy 



538 



INDEX 



on, 441, how cured, 443, 444; 
in the Gulf Stream, 447-449; 
nearing home, 451 jf.; anchors in 
Boston harbor, 45 7 ; at the wharf, 
460; her subsequent history, 499 
jff.; captured and burned by the 
Alabama, 500; last entry in her 
log, 501. 

Almaden mines, 483. 

Amazeen. See Amerzene. 

American sailors, fail to appreciate 
advantage of music, 168. 

Americans, in California, 100, 216. 

Amerzene, Andrew B., mate of the 
Pilgrim, trouble brewing be- 
tween Capt. Thompson and, 75; 
his character, 112, 113; too easy 
and amiable for the berth, 112, 
113; Capt. T. dissatisfied with, 
113; and the flogging of Sam and 
John, 122 fi.\ sent home in the 
Alert, 492; treatment of, by 
Thompson, 492, 493; his subse- 
quent history and death, 506; 

3, 76, 77, 78, 133- 
Anchor watch, 74, 109. 
Anchoring between port and port, 

repugnance of sailors to, 396. 
Ann M'Kim, ship, 39, 270. 
Anson, Lord, 52, 55. 
Argiiello, Dona Refugio, wife of 

Bandini, 478. 

Argiiello, Don Santiago, 478. 
Arthur, Capt., of the California, 

3*9, 333, 346, 347, 353- 

Atlantic Ocean, sailing northward 
on, 413 /. 

Atlantic tropics, typical weather 
in, 429-432, 433-436. 

Avon, brig, a Sandwich Island 
smuggler, 261, 262. 

Ayacucho, brig, at Santa Barbara, 
68; dispute as to comparative 
sailing qualities of, and of the 
Alert, 270; named for battle of 
A., 505 ! 74, 76, 77, 79, 80, 117, 



I3S, 136, 153, 259, 260, 266, 267, 
268, 269, 307, 311, 321, 472, 473. 

Ballmer, George, his character, 42; 
lost overboard, 42, 43; ayction 
of his effects, 45; stories told of, 

45, 46- 

Bandini, Don Juan, passenger on 
the Alert, 297, 298, 299; his sec- 
retary, 298, 299 ; at Robinson's 
wedding, 3035475, 478. 

Ben ("English lad"). See English 
Ben. 

Bennett, Harry, 353, 354, 497, 498. 

Bermudas, 437, 441, 444. 

Big Trees, California, 484. 

"Bingham, Mr.," Sandwich-Is- 
lander, 180, 181, 182,347. 

Block Island, 452. 

Blonde, English frigate, 260. 

Boat-steerers, 39, 40. 

Boston Courier, 319. 

Boston Daily Advertiser, 319. 

Boston Harbor, 456, 457. 

Boston Light, 454, 456. 

Boston Transcript, 319. 

Bowditch, Nathaniel, his Naviga- 
tor, 105. 

Boxing-match at Monterey, 294, 296. 

Boyd, Edward W., 507. 

Bradshaw, Capt. of the Lagoda, 
is sarcastic at Capt. T.'s ex- 
pense, 137; 155, 473. 

Brandywine, frigate, 260, 355. 

Bravo, D.'s puppy, 219, 220; death 
of, 249. 

Bread, difficulty over allowance of, 
63, 64. 

Brown, Bill, 73. 

Brown, Richard, mate of the 
Alert, and Captain Thompson, 
2 34, 2 35; a d the quarrel be- 
tween Nat and George, 295, 296; 
and "Hope," 311; and Bennett, 
353, 354J an d D.'s swollen face, 
380, 389; and the suggestion of 



INDEX 



539 



mutiny, 392; controversy with 
Thompson as to executing or- 
ders, 424, 425; quarrel with 
steward, 425, 426 ; not to be 
beaten in carrying sail, 440; 
death of, 496; 222, 236, 275, 316, 

343, 348, 373, 374, 375, 3Q6, 408, 
410,414,416,417,433,450. 

Bryant, Sturgis, & Co., owners of 
the Pilgrim and Alert, 94, 205, 
387 n., 499. 

"Bucket-maker," on the Alert. 
See Nat. 

Bulwer-Lytton, Sir E., Paul Clif- 
ford, 228, 229. 

Burns, Anthony, D.'s defence of, 
516. 

Bustamente, 298. 

Butler, Benjamin F., defeats D. for 
Congress, 518. 

Cabot, ship, 257, 258 and n., 507. 

California, geography of, 66; pecu- 
liar features of trading in, in 
1835, 94; quantity of silver in 
circulation in, 97; no credit sys- 
tem and no banks in, 97; hides 
and silver only circulating me- 
dia, 97; government of, 99, 212; 
discovery and early history of, 
209 jf.; frequent revolutions in, 
212; lawlessness in, 212 jf.; In- 
dians treated more severely than 
whites, 214; domestic relations of 
her people, 214-216; D.'s second 
visit to, in 1859, 462 Jf.; summer 
in, 476. 

California, ship, in, 115, 117, 315, 
316, 318, 319, 333, 334, 335, 336, 

337, 343, 348, 349, 35, 35*, 3S 2 - 
California, Gulf of, 66. 
"California bank-notes." See 

Hides. 
Californians, domestic relations of, 

214, 215. And see Indians, and 

Mexicans. 



Cape Ann, 455. 

Cape Cod, 454. 

"Cape Cod boy," on the Alert. 
See Nat. 

Cape Horn, Pilgrim reaches neigh- 
borhood of, 29; description of 
the rounding of, to the west- 
ward, 30 Jf.; dread of winter pas- 
sage round, 354, 355; approach- 
ing from the westward, 369 jf.; 
boisterous passage round, 374$. ; 
divers attempts to double, 
blocked by head winds and no 
wind, 387 /., 398, 400, 402 /.; 
over the taffrail at last, 411, 413. 

Cape Horn life, a, 407. 

Cape Horn rig, 384. 

"Cape weather," 30 /.; life on 
shipboard in, 36, 37. 

Captain, merchant. See Merchant 
captain. 

Carmel Mission, Monterey, 293. 

Carolina, ship, 10, n. 

Carpenter, duties of, 14, 19. 

Carpenter of the Alert. See 
"Chips." 

Carpenter of the Pilgrim, 42, 47. 

Castle, the (Boston Harbor), 457. 

Catalina, beats Alert to Santa Bar- 
bara, 239, 240; 166, 167, 197, 
198, 199, 222, 308. 
'; Catamarans, 26. 

Chafing gear, 16, 17. 

Channing, Prof. Edw. T., 512. 

Channing, George E., and Capt. 
Thompson, 493, 494. 

Chatham Lights, 454. 

Chief Mate. See Mate, the. 

Chili, and Juan Fernandez, 52. 

Chinese in San Francisco in 1859, 
468, 469. 

"Chips," carpenter of the Alert, 
favors requesting captain to 
make sail, 391 ; sounds mate as to 
taking charge of ship, 392, 393; 
D.'s familiar talks with, 405; his 



54 



INDEX 



history, 405; 230, 317, 318, 319, 

375- 
Christmas, on board (1834) 61; at 

San Francisco (1835), 289. 
Churches in San Francisco in 1859, 

465, 466, 467, 468. 
Clark, Arthur H., the Clipper Ship 

Eva, 523, 524. 
Clark's Camp, 484. 
Clark's Point, 470. 
Clarke, Samuel C., 507. 
Clementine, brig, 257. 
Cock-fighting at Santa Barbara, 

163, 164. 
Cohasset, 455. 
Contra Costa, 465. 
Convicts, at Juan Fernandez, 51, 

52, 53- 

Convoy, brig, 261, 299, 300. 

Cook, or "doctor," the patron of 
the crew, 14; duties of, in harbor, 
109. 

Cook of the Alert, 371. 

Cook, the, of the Pilgrim, 9; on 
Ballmer's death. 44; D.'s talk 
with thereon, and on supersti- 
tions, 46-48; and Old Bess, 151, 
152. 

Corn Laws, Tom Harris on, 245. 

Corposants, 434. 

Cortes, Fernando, 209. 

Cortes, whaler, 53. 

Cowper, W., his Castaway, Lines to 
Mary, Address to tlie Jackdaw, 
Table Talk, 406. 

Coyotes, at San Diego, 192, 193. 

Craw-fish, "burning the water" 
for, 206, 207. 

Crew, of a merchantman, duties of, 
14 jf.; divided into watches, 14; 
"day's work" of, 15 jj. ; re- 
quired always to be at work at 
something, when on deck, 16, 17; 
picking oakum, 18; Sunday 
routine of, in fair weather, 21; 
effect on, of death on board, 44; 



unwillingness of, to wear dead 
man's clothes, 45; duties of, in 
harbor, io8jf. 

Crew of the Alert, for homeward 
voyage, 354; murmur against the 
captain, because of his failure to 
make sail, 390, 391; carpenter 
urges action by, 392; return to 
duty, 393; excitement among, 
394; improved spirits of, 396; 
fearful of passage through the 
straits, 396, 397; high spirits of 
on nearing home, 452, 453; Capt. 
Faucon's favorable judgment of, 
495; details concerning various 
members of, 495 jf. 

Crew of the Pilgrim, irritability 
and discontent of, 61; remon- 
strance of, to Capt. Thompson, 
on question of bread-allowance, 
63, 64; his abusive reply to, 
63, 64; irritation of, with Capt. 
T. never allayed, 64; disap- 
pointed of shore leave at Mon- 
terey, 89; resort to "sogering," 
90; discontented under Thomp- 
son's severity, 113, 114; effect of 
floggings of Sam and John on, 
127, 128, 157; diminished in 
number, 155; ill-disposition of, 
manifested in getting under way 
for San Diego, 133; on shore at 
San Diego, 141 /., 147, 148; de- 
tails concerning subsequent his- 
tory of, 490-493. 

Cumberland Bay (Juan Fernan- 
dez), 55. 

Dana, Elizabeth Ellery. See El- 

lery, Elizabeth. 
Dana, Francis, D.'s grandfather, 

Si 2 , 5*3- 

Dana, Richard, D.'s great-grand- 
father, 512. 

Dana, Richard Henry, D.'s fa- 
ther, 513. 



INDEX 



DANA, RICHARD HENRY II, sails 
for Pacific on brig Pilgrim (Aug. 
14, 1834), i; his first watches, 2, 
3 ; first watch at sea, 5; first taste 
of discomforts, 5, 6; "All hands to 
take in sail!" 6, 7; mal de mer, 7, 
8, 9; sea-duty begins in earnest, 
9; cook's advice to, 9; gets his sea- 
legs on, 10; crosses the Equator, 
and becomes a true son of Nep- 
tune, 22, 23; his first gale, 26, 27; 
his progress in seamanship, 27; 
experiences in rounding the 
Horn, $o/.; took his trick at the 
helm throughout, 32; furling jib 
in a gale, 35; life on shipboard in 
"Cape weather," 36, 37; disaster 
with the "scouse," 37, 38; talks 
with the cook on Ballmer's death, 
and on superstitions, 46-48; too 
eager to land on Juan Fernan- 
dez, 51; on shore, 52, 53; "tar- 
ring down," 58-60; painting 
ship, 60; second crossing of the 
Equator, 61; and Stimson, shift 
quarters to forecastle, 62; and 
the bread-remonstrance, 63; on 
shore at Santa Barbara, 70 JT.; 
impressions on first landing in 
California, 70; shortening sail in 
a squall, 83, 84; favorable im- 
pression of Monterey, 87; first 
experience of sending down a 
royal yard, 87, 88; threatened 
mutiny at Monterey, 90, 91 ; goes 
a-fishing, 91; learns to speak 
Spanish, 98; advantage of his re- 
putation as a great linguist, 98; 
uncertainty as to length and 
nature of voyage, no, in; his 
prevision of his future, 112; load- 
ing hides at San Pedro, 119, 120; 
royal-yards again, 120; how af- 
fected by the flogging of Sam 
and John, 123, 125, 126; on 
shore at San Pedro, watching 



hides, 128, 129; a lonely night, 
130; acquaintances on shore, 
130; his account of the floggings 
confirmed by Stimson, 132 n.; 
on board the Lagoda, 137, 138; 
on shore leave at San Diego, 139 
jf.; at the mission, 143-146; at 
the villages, 146-148; loading 
hides at San Diego, 150; a quiet 
Sunday on board, 152; ashore at 
Santa Barbara, 159-165; alone 
on shore at San Juan, 170, 171; 
his reflections, 171, 172; left be- 
hind, at hide-house at San Diego, 
J 75> *76; life at the hide-house, 
177 Jf.; his companions, 177, 178; 
relations with Nicholas, 179, and 
with the Kanakas, 179 ff.; and 
"Mr. Bingham," 181, 182; his 
confidence in the Kanakas, 
182; "Hope," his favorite, 183; 
the duties of a hide-curer, 187 
jf.; soon hardened to the work, 
though disagreeable, 190, 191; 
"wooding excursions," 191, 192; 
encounters with coyotes, 192, 
193, and with rattlesnakes, 193- 
195; straying in the woods, 202; 
buying supplies, 202; studying 
navigation, 203; return of the 
Pilgrim to San Diego, 203; re- 
ceives letters from home, ex 
Alert, 204, 205; and Capt. 
Faucon, 206; in the hide-house 
again, 206 /.; "burning the wa- 
ter" for craw-fish, 206, 207; pro- 
gress in Spanish, 209, and in 
knowledge of the character and 
habits of the people and of their 
institutions, 209 jf.; anxiously ex- 
pecting the Alert, and why, 218, 
219; employment of leisure 
interval, studying, refitting, and 
puppy-training, 219, 220; on 
board the Alert, 221, 222, 223; 
effects exchange to the Alert, 



542 



INDEX 



224; his duties in his new berth 
described, 225 /.; Bulwer's Paul 
Cli/ord, 228, 229; enjoys the 
night-watches, 229; his friends 
in the larboard watch, 229, 230; 
sending down royal-yards on the 
Alert, 235; life on the Alert, 
pleasanter than on the Pilgrim, 
237, 238; advantages of a big 
ship, 237; in the gig's crew, 238, 
239; his only amusement at San 
Pedro, 239; once more at Santa 
Barbara, 241; and Tom Harris, 
242; rescues hides at San Juan, 
251, 252; first takes a weather 
earing, 254; an evening aboard a 
whaler, 265 ; describes 8-day gale 
off Point Conception, 272-279; 
collecting hides and wood and 
water at San Francisco, 282-288; 
easy life on shipboard, 288; pre- 
paring for the homeward voyage, 
288, 289; prophesies concerning 
the future of the Bay of San 
Francisco, 290; on shore at 
Monterey, 293^.; and Bandini's 
secretary, 298, 299; at Agent 
Robinson's wedding, 301 jf.; 
finds Pilgrim at San Pedro, 307, 
308; at San Diego again, 308 /.; 
and "Hope," the Kanaka, 309- 
311; letters from home at San 
Diego, 315, 317; at Santa Bar- 
bara reads of Harvard Com- 
mencement of 1835, 319, 320; 
rejoices in Boston papers, 320; 
indications of end of voyage, 
320, 321; at San Diego, prepar- 
ing for homeward voyage, 325 
ff.; reads Woodstock aloud, 326; 
six weeks of loading hides, 327 
jff.; credited with curing "Hope," 
334; enjoys music on the Cali- 
fornia, 335, 336; ordered back to 
the Pilgrim, 337; discussion with 
Capt. T. thereanent, and the re- 



sult, 337-339; and English Ben, 
339; crew charges favoritism, 
339, 340; tries to purchase an ex- 
change, 340; induces May to 
take his place, 341 andn.; part- 
ing with Harris, 341; good-by to 
the Pilgrim, 342; on shore at San 
Diego, filling water-casks, 343; 
parting with " Hope " and others, 
347; getting underway, 348 /.; 
homeward bound, 352; again in 
the larboard watch, 353; prepar- 
ing for the Horn, 355, 356; and 
Prof. Nuttall, 360; third crossing 
of the Equator, 364; furling and 
reefing in a gale, 374 ff.\ tooth- 
ache and swollen face, 378 JT.; 
the captain's indifference, 380; 
working under difficulties, 380 
Jf.; forced to keep his berth in a 
gale, 388, 389; inopportuneness 
of his first illness since leaving 
Boston, 389, 390; refuses to take 
part in proposed remonstrance 
of crew, 392; returns to work, 
395 ; conversations with " Chips," 
405; adopts a system of time- 
killing, 406; repeating by mem- 
ory, 406; furling the mansail un- 
der difficulties, 408-410; Staten 
Land the Atlantic at last, 
411; a press of sail in heavy 
weather, 414 Jf.; employment of 
the first fair Sunday, 420; nar- 
row escape of, on top-gallant 
yard, 427; fourth crossing of the 
Equator, 429; seasick in the 
Gulf Stream, 448; in Boston Har- 
bor, 456, 457; and Samuel 
Hooper, 458; personal appear- 
ance of, 458; the last night on 
board, 458, 459; home, 461. 

His second visit to California, 
463 jf.; and Mr. Lies, 467, 468; 
known on the coast through this 
book, 468, 469; invited to speak 



INDEX 



543 



before Pioneer Society, 469; vis- 
its to various points, 470^.; sen- 
sations evoked in, by hides, 471 ; 
sails down the coast on the Sena- 
tor, 47 2 Jf.; renews acquaintance 
with Capt. Wilson, and hears of 
old friends, 472, 473; at Santa 
Barbara, 474-476; at San Pedro, 
477; old friends at Los Angeles, 
478; emotion of, on revisiting 
San Diego, 479-481; at the Mis- 
sion there, 482; excursions from 
San Francisco, 483-485; trip to 
Sandwich I'ds, on the Mastiff, 
which is burned, 486; in Sacra- 
mento, 486, 487, and the Napa 
Valley, 487, 488; at the Geysers, 
489; farewell to California, 400; 
his journal quoted, concerning 
"Hope," 510; sketch of his after 
life, in literature, in politics, and 
at the bar, 511 jf.; what he ac- 
complished for the sailor, 519$. 

Dana, Richard Henry III, D.'s 
son, and Capt. Thompson's 
nephew, 506; and Dona Augus- 
tias, 510; describes scene in 
House of Commons on Plim- 
soll's Merchant Shipping Bill, 
520,521. 

Dana, Sarah Watson, D.'s wife, 



Disraeli, Benjamin, 521. 
Dancing, at Robinson's wedding, 

303, 34- 
Dash, Marsh's schooner, 158 n. 

"Davis, Tom," Sandwich-Is- 

lander, 1 80, 181, 184. 
Day's work, a, on shipboard, de- 

scribed, 15, 16. 
Dead Man's Island, 128, 477. 
Death at sea, solemnity of, 43; ef- 

fect of, on crew, 44. 
Decatur, sloop-of-war, 488. 
Diana, brig, crew of, at Monterey, 

294; 291, 296. 



"Doctor." See Cook. 

Dog-watches, 14, 15. 

Dogs, at San Diego, 186, 191, 192, 

193- 

"Doldrums," the, 363. 
Dolores, Mission of, in 1835, 281, 

283, 462; in 1859, 470, 47 1. 
Dolphins, 20, 21. 
Domingo, Don, 303, 304. 
Donner Party, the, 488. 
Doyle family (San Diego), 482. 
Drake, Sir Francis, 281. 
Ducie's Island, 366. 
"Duff," served on Sundays, 21. 

Ellery, Elizabeth, D.'s paternal 

grandmother, 512. 
Ellery, William, 512. 
Englishman in California, 100, 216. 
English Ben, ordered to replace D. 

on the Pilgrim, 339, 340; May 

joins her in his place, 341; sick 

with scurvy, 440; 230. 
English lad. See Ballmer, George. 
Equator, crossing the, 22, 23, 61, 

364, 429. 
Evans, second mate of Alert, 440, 

496. 

Falkland Islands, 29, 32, 33, 413. 
Fandango, the, in California, 160; 
at Robinson's wedding, 302, 

33- 

Faucon, Capt. Edward H., super- 
sedes Thompson in command of 
the Pilgrim, 204; first impression 
of, 205, 206; responsible for light 
working of Alert, 233; and 
"Hope," 333; subsequent career 
of, 495, 508; and French John, 
495, 496; on Capt. Thompson, 
505; his death, 508; 236, 237, 292, 

337, 473, 49, 492. 
Faucon, Gorham P., 508. 
Faucon, Nicholas M., 508. 
Fawcett, Henry, 521. 



544 



INDEX 



Fazio, Mexican brig, ashore at San 
Pedro, 116 ; hauled off, 156; 
crew, 167 ; at San Diego, 186, 
187 ; vain attempt to prevent 
her sailing, 217, 218. 

Fernando Noronha (island), 429. 

Field-ice, 383, 384. Sec Icebergs. 

Fins (Finns), undesirableness of , as 
shipmates, 47,48. 

Fitch (San Diego), 481. 

Floggings, on the Pilgrim at San 
Pedro, i23/.; 131, 132 and n., 



Flying Dutchman, the, 46. 

Food, allowance of, on merchant- 

men, 361 n. 
Forecastle, the, effect of bunking 

and messing with crew in, 62; 

disadvantage of, as a hospital, off 

Cape Horn, 393. 
Foster, second mate of the Pilgrim, 

his history, 23; persona non grata 

to captain, 23; asleep on watch, 

24; deposed, 24, 25; his request 

for shore leave at Monterey, 105; 

runs away from the Pilgrim, 153 

Jff.\ ships on the Lagoda, 156; in 

Boston, 492; 91, 132. 
France, report of war between 

U. S. and, 259 Jf. 
Franciscans, succeed Jesuits in 

California missions, 210. 
Fremont, Mrs. Jessie B., 484. 
Fremont, John C., 484. 
French, John. See John the 

Frenchman. 
Furuseth, Andrew, 523. 

Genoese ship. See Rosa. 

George ("Boston boy"). See 

Somerby. 

George's Bank, 452. 
George's Island, 457. 
Geute de razon, dress of, 92. 
Geysers, the, 487, 488, 489. 
Godwin, William, Mandeville, 203. 



Goethe, J. W. von ; his Erl Konig, 

406. 

Golden Gate, the, 464, 472, 483. 
Golden Gate, steamship, 463, 464. 
Grant, Pres. U.S., 518. 
Grey, Earl, 299. 
Grog, distinction between captain 

and crew as to, 385, 386, 387. 
Guerra, Don Pablo de la, 474, 475, 

487. 

Guerra, de la. See Noriego. 
Gulf Stream, 447, 448, 449. 

Hale, Horatio E., 510. 

Hall, James, second mate of Pil- 
grim, vice Foster, deposed, 25; 
his subsequent history and 
death, 507; 70, 72, 74, 87, 88, 
124, 492, 509. 

Haole, Sandwich-Island name for 
whites, 180. 

Harbor duties on shipboard, lo&Jf. 

Harcourt, Sir William V., 520. 

Harlan, John M., Justice U. S. 
S. C., 522. 

Harris, Tom, D.'s watch-mate on 
the Alert, 230; his character and 
history, 242^.; his extraordinary 
all-round talents, 243, 244, 245; 
his experience of the world, 246, 
247, 248; his parting with D., 
341; in Boston, 490, 491; 255, 

256, 333- 

"Harry Bluff." See May, Harry. 
Harvard, Commencement of 1835, 

news of, at Santa Barbara, 319, 

320. 
Hatch, James B., third mate of the 

Alert, 334, 390, 410, 411, 496, 

508, 509. 

Hatteras, Cape, 445. 
"Hazing" on shipboard, 61 and n. 
"Head-work" (carrying hides), 

107, 108. 

Helen Mar, ship, 10. 
Hide-curing, described, 



INDEX 



545 



"HIde-droghing," 173. 

Hide-house, at San Diego, D.'s life 
at, 177 jf.; description of, 177. 

Hide-houses, uses of, 149, 150. 

Hides, methods of loading, at vari- 
ous places on the coast, 71, 72, 
107, 108, 119, 120, 149, 150, 156, 
172, 1 73; only circulating medium 
besides silver in California, 97; 
"California bank-notes," 97; 
scarcity of , 1 1 1 ; process of drying 
and curing, 107, 108, 150; res- 
cued byD.at San Juan, 251,252; 
loading, in heavy sea, 252, 253; 
collecting of, managed differ- 
ently in San Francisco, 283 /.; 
loading, for homeward voyage, 
327 /.; "steering," 329, 330; 
sensations evoked by, in D.'s 
mind, in 1859, 471; trade in, van- 
ished in 1859, 471, 472. 

Hingham, 455, 456. 

Holmes, Capt., of the Rialto, 344. 

Holystoning, 225. 

Hooper, Samuel, of Bryant, Sturgis 
& Co., 458. 

Hooper, Sam (Marblehead boy), 
left at San Diego with D., 175, 
177; 492. 

"Hope," Sandwich-Islander, 180; 
D.'s favorite, 183; his intelli- 
gence and amiability, 183; adopts 
D. as his aikane, 183; his curios- 
ity, 183, 184; pitiful state of, 
309, 310; Capt. Thompson and, 
310; Mate Brown and, 311; im- 
proved condition of, 333, 334; re- 
covery of, 347, 510; parting with 
D., 347- 

Horace, his llle el nefasto ode, 406. 

Horn, the. See Cape Horn. 

Hornitos, 483. 

Horse-racing at Santa Barbara, 164. 

Horses, the cheapest thing in Cali- 
fornia, 142; their gaits, 145; at 

, San Diego, 196. 



Icebergs and ice-islands, 381 Jf., 
398, 399, 401, 402. And see 
Field-ice. 

Idleness, unknown on deck in a 
well-ordered vessel, 16. 

Independence, frigate, 488. 

Independence day off the Horn, 383 . 

Indians, of California, language of, 
145; Sunday sports of, 146, 147; 
justice meted out to, less tardily 
than to whites, 214; entirely 
lacking in morality and de- 
cency, 215; intemperance com- 
mon among, 216; "100, 209, 210. 

Isla de los Angeles. See Wood 
Island. 

Italian sailors, at Santa Barbara, 
159, 161, 165, 166; at San Diego, 
198. 

Jackson, Pres. Andrew, 39, 442. 
Jackson, Bill, on the Pilgrim, 103- 

105, 136, 266, 473. 
Jesuits in California, 209, 210. 
Jews in San Francisco in 1859, 468. 
Jimeno, Don Manuel, first husband 

of Dona Angustias de Noriego, 

5"- 

"Joe," anecdote of, 442, 443. 

John the Frenchman, rescues a 
ship's boy, 428; 230, 231, 274, 
495, 496. 

John the Swede, the best sailor on 
the Pilgrim, 35; on Finns as 
shipmates, 47, 48; spokesman 
for crew to captain, 63; and the 
flogging of Sam, 122, 123; put in 
irons, 123; flogged by Capt. T., 
124-126, 131, 132 n.; effect of 
flogging on, 157; in Boston, 491; 

73, 74- 

John Gilpin, brig, 270. 

Juan Fernandez, Pilgrim puts in 
at, 49 ,/T.; characteristics of, 50, 
51, 54-57; a Chilian penal col- 
ony, 52; convicts at, 52, 53. 



546 



INDEX 



Juan Fernandez, governor of, 51, 

52, S3, 57- 

Justice, unequal distribution of in 
California, 212-214. 

Kamehameha, the Charlemagne of 
the Sandwich Islands, 181. 

"Kanaka," meaning of word, 180. 

"Kanaka Hotel," at San Diego, 
190. 

Kanakas. See Sandwich Islanders. 

Kip, Bishop, 466. 

La Plata, River, 26. 

Lagoda, ship, collision of Pilgrim 
with, at San Diego, 135; her later 
history, 504, 505; 102, in, 117, 
118, 137, 154, 155, 156,472. 

Landing, difficulties of, 70, 71. 

" Larboard," superseded by "port," 
4n. 

Larboard watch, 14. 

Lascar, brig, 256. 

Latham, Gov., of California, inau- 
guration of, 486. 

Lawlessness in California, 212 ff. 

"Lay," use of the word on ship- 
board, 27 n. 

Lee, Custis, 470. 

Lee, Robert E., 470 and n. 

Liberty-day, on a merchantman, 

139; 140- 

Lies, Mr., pioneer, 467, 468. 

Log of the Alert, last entry in, 501. 

Loring, Charles G., 512. 

Loriotte, crew of, 102, 103; colli- 
sion of Pilgrim with, at San 
Diego, 135, 136; adrift, 266, 268, 
269; 75. 77, 78, 79> So, 81, 91, 
117, 169,472,505. 

Los Angeles, 117, 118, 212; in 1859, 

477, 478, 479; n iQ"> S3, 

504. 
Low, Capt., of the Cabot, 257, 258 

and n., 507. 
Lower California, 66. 



McCarthy, Justin, History of Our 

Own Times, 521. 
Magellan, Straits of, Alert runs 

for, 394, 395; preparations for 

anchoring in, 396. 
Magellan Clouds, 30, 365, 369, 429. 
Mahanna, Sandwich-Islander, 152, 

153- 

" Mahon soger," 24. 
"Man overboard," 42. 
Mannini, Mr., Sandwich-Islander, 

his singing, 185; 174, 175, 181," 

347- 

Mare Island, 487. 

Mariposa County, Cal., 484. 

Marsh, George Walker, alias 
George P., ships on the Alert at 
San Pedro, 255; contrast between 
Harris and, 255, 256; his re- 
markable adventures, 256-258, 
258 n., 473, 507, 508; last sight 
of, 321, 322. 

Mary Catherine, bark, the first sail 
spoken after leaving the Pacific 
coast, 428. 

Mary Frazer, bark, 258 n. 

Massachusetts Bay, 454. 

Mastiff, ship, burned while D. was 
sailing to Honolulu on her, 486. 

Mate, the (chief), his powers and 
duties, 12, 13; the prime minis- 
ter, 12; responsible for the log, 
13; ex off. the wit of the crew,i3; 
commands larboard watch, 14; 
duties of, in harbor, 109; charged 
with execution of captain's or- 
ders, 424. 

Mate of the Alert. See Brown, 
Richard. 

Mate of the Pilgrim. See Amer- 
zene. 

Mate, second, his is proverbially 
a dog's berth, 13; the sailor's 
waiter, 13; commands starboard 
watch, 14; second, duties of, in 
harbor, 109. 



INDEX 



547 



Mate, second, of the Pilgrim. See 
Foster and Hall. 

Mate, second, of the Alert. See 
Evans. 

Mate, third, of the Alert. See 
Hatch. 

May, Harry, joins Pilgrim at San 
Diego, in D.'s place, 341, 498. 

Melbourne, Lord, 299. 

Mellus, Henry, made supercargo's 
clerk, 93; in 1859, 478, 479; 
mayor of Los Angeles, in 1860, 
510558, 59, 354, 493. 

Merced River, 483. 

Merchant captain, is Lord para- 
mount on board, 12; extent of his 
power, 12; gives orders through 
the mate, 424, 425. 

Merchantmen, American, descrip- 
tion of duties, regulations, and 
customs of, 1 1 JF. ; practice on, as 
to giving and executing orders, 
424; appearance of, on entering 
home port, 445, 446. 

Mermaid, brig, 10. 

Mexican passengers on the Alert to 
Monterey, 270, 271. 

Mexican revenue laws, 91. 

Mexican revenue officers, at Mon- 
terey, dress of, 91, 92. 

Mexican women, dress of, 95; their 
fondness for dress, sometimes 
their ruin, 96. 

Mexicans, no working class among, 
92; an idle, thriftless people, 94; 
their character, dress, and lan- 
guage, 94 JF.; beautiful voices 
of, 97; not given to intoxication, 
216. 

Minor, Lieut. C. J., 511. 

Missions, in California, origin and 
growth of, 209, 210. 

Monterey, trading at, 93 jf.; the 
pleasantest and most civilized- 
looking place in California, 98; 
description of, 98 JF.; the Presi- 



dio at, 98; style of houses at, 09, 
100; English and Americans at, 
too; abundance of horses at, 101, 
102; sports and amusements at, 
102; excellent harbor of, 102; 
Alert arrives at, from San Fran- 
cisco, 291; shore leave at, 292 JF.; 
boxing match at, 294-296; 66, 
67, 86, 475. 

Monterey, Bay of, Pilgrim arrives 
in, 85, 86. 

Monterey, Presidio of, 210, an. 

Music, at the San Diego hide- 
house, 199; on the California, 
335,336. 

Nantucket Shoals, 452, 454. 
Napa Valley, 487, 488, 489. 
"Nat" (Cape Cod boy), boxing 
match with George, 294-296; 

230, 455. 456. 

Neptune, son of, 23. 

Newspapers, Boston, 319, 320; 
Mexican, 298, 299. 

"Nicholas," at San Diego with D. f 
177; his great size, 178; his past 
life, 178; relations with D., 179; 
190, 194, 198. 

Nightmare on the Alert, 366, 367. 

Noriego y Corillo, Dona Angus- 
tias de, Mrs. Robinson's sister, at 
R.'s wedding, 303, 304 ; in 1859, 
475, 476; in 1880, 510; Gen. 
Sherman and Bayard Taylor 
on, 511 ; her two marriages, 
511 ; her death, 511 ; 473, 475. 

Noriego y Corillo, Dona Anita de la 
Guerra de, marries A. Robinson, 
301 Jf. 5475. 

Noriego, Don Antonio, 301, 302, 

473,475- 

North Star, 365, 366, 429. 
Northeast trades, 20, 21, 357, 358, 

432. 
Nuttall, Prof., passenger on the 



54 8 



INDEX 



Nye, Capt. Gorham H., of the 
Loriotte, 75, 77, 135, 169, 262, 
263, 473, 55- 

"Oahu Coffee-House," at San 

Diego, 190. 
"Oahu puffs," 185. 
Oakum-picking, always to be done 

when other work fails, 18. 
"Old Bess" (sow), 150, 151. 
Old Bill, 371. 

"Old Curious." See Nuttall. 
Olinda (Brazil), 26. 
Ord, Dr., second husband of Dona 

Angustias de Noriego, 511. 
Ord, Rebecca H., daughter of Dona 

Angustias, and wife of John H. 

H. Peshine, 511. 

Oriental Hotel, San Francisco, 465. 
Otter, smuggling of, 300. 

Pacific Ocean, deserves its name, 
64. 

Pamperos (southwest gales), 26, 27, 
28. 

Parkman, Dr. George, 498, 499. 

Patagonia, 29. 

Peel, Sir Robert, 299. 

Pelew Islands, Marsh's adventures 
in, 256-258, 321, 322, 507. 

"Pelican," Sandwich-Islander, 180. 

Penang, 494, 495. 

Pernambuco, 25. 

Peruvian, brig, 396, 397. 

Peshine, John H. H., 511. 

"Philadelphia Catechism, the," 18. 

Pico, Don Andres, 487. 

Pico, Dona Tomasa, 482. 

Pilgrim, brig, D. ships on, for voy- 
age to Pacific, 1-3; chased by a 
mysterious brig, 22; in the pam- 
peros, 26, 27; nearing the Horn, 
2 9 '> puts in at Juan Fernan- 
dez, 103 days from Boston, 49 Jf.; 
leaves J. F., 54, 57; from J. F. to 
California, 58 jf.; put in order for 



coming on the coast, 58-60; 
makes land at Point Conception, 
64, and drops anchor at Santa 
Barbara (Jan. 14, 1835), 158 
days from Boston, 65; method of 
anchoring, at Santa Barbara, 67, 
68; in gale at Santa Barbara, 76 
JT.; in squall off Point Concep- 
tion, 82 Jf.; arrives in Bay of 
Monterey, 86; trade-room on, 93 ; 
cargo of, 93, 94; uncertainty as 
to length and nature of her voy- 
age, 1 10-112; trouble brewing 
on, 112, 113, 114; over-officered, 
115; at San Pedro, 115 Iff.; ar- 
rives at San Diego, 134; collides 
with Lagoda and Loriotte there, 
J35, J 36; manceuvred to an an- 
chorage by Capt. Wilson, 136; 
up and down the coast, collect- 
ing hides, etc., 156 /.; returns to 
San Diego, in command of Capt. 
Faucon, 203, 204; on the coast 
again, 206; D. exchanges to 
Alert from, 224; her working 
compared with Alert's, 232, 233; 
at San Pedro, 233; transfers hides 
to Alert, 235; sails to windward, 
236; waiting for Alert at Mon- 
terey, 292; at San Pedro, 307, 
308; at San Diego, 333; D. nearly 
has to rejoin, 337-341; last 
sight of, 342 ; her return to 
Boston, 490; her later history, 

495, 54- 

Pioneer Society, D. invited to 
speak before, 469. 

Plimsoll, Samuel, the "Sailor- 
Friend," 521, 522. 

Plum-duff, on Christmas, 61; 289. 

Point Ano Nuevo, 86, 291. 

Point Conception, Pilgrim makes 
land at, 64; dangers of, 82; di- 
viding line between different 
faces of the country, 85, 86; 67, 
106, 272 /., 299,474. 



INDEX 



549 



Point Loma, 479, 482. 

Point Pinos, 85, 86, 106. 

Point Santa Buenaventura, 67. 

"Port," substituted for "lar- 
board," 4 n. 

Poughkeepsie, whaler, 38^. 

Presidios, primary purpose of, 210. 

Priests, government of, in Cali- 
fornia, 210, 211. 

Prize Causes, 518. 

Pueblo de Los Angeles. See Los 
Angeles. 

Quincy, Josiah, Pres. of Harvard, 
320. 

Race Point, 454. 
Rainsford Island, 457. 
Rattlesnakes, at San Diego, 193- 

195- 

"Reefer, the," history of, 343 /.; 
attempts to exchange from the 
California to the Alert, 343, 346; 
escapes from hide-house, 346, 

347- 

Reefing, 28. 

Revolutions, frequent occurrence 
of, in California, 212. 

Rialto, ship, 344. 

Richardson, his shanty the only 
habitation in San Francisco in 
1835, 281 and n.; 463, 469. 

Rigging, running, 16. 

Rigging, standing, "setting up," 
16, 17. 

Riho, Riho, son of Kamehameha, 
181. 

Rincon Point, 470. 

Robert, in charge of Catalina's 
hide-house at San Diego, 199, 
200. 

Robertson v. Baldwin, 522. 

Robinson, Alfred, agent of Bryant, 
Sturgis & Co., on the coast, un- 
popular with crew of Alert, 285; 
his marriage, at Santa Barbara, 



301 /.; his death, 509; 80, 82, 91, 
118, 119, 127, 170, 270, 334, 337, 

475, 476- 
Rosa, Genoese ship, 74, 75, 157, 

158, 159, 197, 198, 199, 249, 254, 
292, 308. 

Rope-yarns, 17. 

Royal-yards, D.'s first experience 
in sending down, 87, 88, 120. 

Russell, Mr., joins Pilgrim at 
Santa Barbara, 115, 116; dis- 
liked by the crew, 122; and the 
flogging of John, 123 /.; in 
charge of curing hides at San 
Diego, 150, 177, 179; dismissed 
for misconduct, 313; pursued and 
arrested, 313. 

Russian bark, home letters sent by, 
292. 

Russian brig, at San Francisco, 
281, 282, 283; crew of, 282; 
Christmas celebration on, 289. 

Sachem (dog), 186. 

Sacramento, in 1859, 486, 487. 

Saginaw, despatch-boat, 488. 

Sail at sea, first sight of, 10. 

"Sail ho!" significance of cry, at 
San Diego, 197. 

Sailmaker, duties of, 14. 

Sail-maker, of the Alert. See 
"Sails." 

Sailor's life, character of, 44. 

Sailors, peculiar cut of clothes of, 
2; can sleep anywhere, 36; super- 
stitions of, 46-48; Catholic and 
Protestant, 166; overstrained 
sense of manliness of, 316, 317; 
capstan songs of, 331; food of, 
during loading, 332; on a "tem- 
perance ship," 385, 386; quality 
of their tea, 386 and n.; repug- 
nance of, to working "ground- 
tackle" between port and port, 
396; what D. accomplished for, 
. And see Crew. 



550 



INDEX 



"Sails," sail-maker of the Alert, 
taken with palsy, 354; 229, 230, 

^ 3 J 8, 319, 497- 

Salt meat, an element of discontent 
among the crew, 61. 

"Sam," from the Middle States. 
See Sparks, Samuel. 

"Sam," Marblehead boy. See 
Hooper, Samuel. 

San Diego, Pilgrim arrives at, 134; 
description of, 134; hide-houses 
at, 134; collision at, 135, 136; 
D. on shore leave at, 139 /.; ad- 
vantages of, for landing and 
loading hides, 149, 150; Sand- 
wich Islanders, at, 174, 175; D. 
left behind at, 175, 176; D.'slife 
as a hide-curer at, 177 Jj.\ arri- 
val of Fazio brig at, 186, and of 
Rosa and Catalina, 197, 198; 
polyglot assemblage of hide- 
curers at, 198, 199; Spanish then 
common speech, 198; Europeans 
give entertainment at, 199; Pil- 
grims make brief visit to, 203- 
206; fishing for sharks at, 206, 
208; Alert arrives at, 220, 249; 
"our last port," 323 /.; in 1859, 
479 /; 66, 67, 117, 118, 173, 
3<>8 /. 

San Diego, Mission of, 143-147. 

San Diego, Presidio of, 143, 210, 
211. 

San Francisco, method of collect- 
ing hides at, 283 ff.\ in 1836 and 
in 1859, 463 /.; shipping of, 465; 
places of worship in, 465, 466; 
marvellous history of, 485, 486; 
growth of, 1859 to 1911, 503; 66, 
67. 

San Francisco, Bay of, Alert ar- 
rives in, 281, 282; rainy season 
at, 283; magnificence of, 29o;D.'s 
prophecy concerning, 290; in 
1836 and in 1859, 462, 463 /.; 
66. 



San Francisco, Presidio of, in 1835, 
210, 211, 281; in 1859, 470. 

San Gabriel, Mission of, 212. 

San Joaquin River, 483. 

San Jose, 483, 488. 

San Jose, Mission of, 283, 284. 

San Juan, Pilgrim anchors at, 170; 
description of coast at, 170 jf.; 
loading hides at, 172, 173, 250 

^ 251. 

San Juan, Mission of, 170, 171. 

San Juan Capistrano, Mission of, 
134, 211,479. 

San Luis Obispo, Mission of, 211. 

San Pazqual, battle of, 487. 

San Pedro, port of Los Angeles, 
Pilgrim anchors at, 115; descrip- 
tion of, 116, 117; wrecked Eng- 
lishmen at, 117; furnished more 
hides than any port on the coast, 
1 1 8; loading hides at, 119, 120; 
great numbers of whales at, 168, 
169; in 1859, 477; in 1911, 503, 
504; 156, 167, 233, 254, 307 /.; 
3i2/., 322. 

Sandwich-Islanders, characteristics 
of, 102, 103; at San Diego, 174, 
175; D.'s relations with, 179, 
180; their language, 179; proper 
names among, 180; their curios- 
ity, 184; great smokers, 184, 185; 
their style of singing, 185; and 
sharks, 207, 208; vice-borne dis- 
eases of, 309; 68, 70, 71, 72. 

Sandwich Islands, trade of, with 
California, 179. 

Santa Ana, Antonio L.de, 298, 299. 

Santa Barbara, Pilgrim drops 
anchor at, Jan. 13, 1835, 65; de- 
scribed, 69; D. on shore at, 70 Jf.; 
beach at, 71; southeasters at, 
76Jf., 114, 115, 267, 268; funeral 
at, 161, 162; cock-fight at, 163; 
horse-racing at, 164; good-by to, 
321; in 1859, 474 /.; io6/., 157, 
241, 242, 259, 3/-, 3*9, 320. 



INDEX 



Santa Barbara, Bay, or canal, of, 

67, 68, 69. 

Santa Barbara, Mission of, in 1835, 
^ 69, 106, 162; in 1859, 474, 475. 
Santa Barbara, Presidio of, 210, 

211. 
Santa Buenaventura, Mission of, 

211. 

Santa Clara, 483. 
Santa Clara, Mission of, 283, 285. 
Santa Rosa Island, 79. 
Schmidt, in charge of Rosa's hide- 
house at San Diego, 200, 201. 
Scott, Sir W., The Pirate, 130; 

Woodstock, 326. 
Scripture, repetition of passages 

from, to kill time, 406. 
Scurvy, on the Alert, 440^.; cured 

by fresh vegetables, 444. 
Scuttled butt, 15. 
Sea-sickness, cure for, 9; in the 

Gulf Stream, 447-449. 
Second mate. See Mate, second. 
Senator, steamer, D. visits old 

scenes on, 472$. 
Sepulveda's rancho, 239 and n., 

^ 487- 

Shark-hunting at San Diego, 207, 

208. 
Ship, full-rigged, under full sail, 

beauty of, 421, 422. 
Singing, Kanakas' peculiar style of, 

185- 
"Small stuffs," all made on board 

ship, 17. 
Smuggling on the coast, 261, 262, 

300. 

Snelling's Tavern, 483. 
" Sogering " on board, 90, 153. 
So'on,brig, supplies Alert with po- 
tatoes and onions, 441, 442. 
Somerby, George ("Boston Boy"), 

boxing-match with "Nat," 294- 

296 ; 377, 498, 499- 
Somerby, Mrs., 498. 
Songs, 331, 336. 



Soundings on American coast, 452. 

Southeast trades, 364, 365, 366, 
423- 

Southeaster, bane of Californian 
coast, 67. 

Southern Cross, 30, 365. 

Spanish, the common speech of all 
the hide-curers at San Diego, 
198. 

Spanish Americans, loafers, 56, 57. 

Spanish blood, in Californians in 
Mexico, 95, 96. 

Sparks, Samuel, flogging of, i2i/., 
131, 132 n.; effect of flogging on, 
157; in Boston, 491; his death, 
491. 

Spun-yarn, 17. 

Stanislaus River, 483. 

Stanley, Edward, 487. 

Starboard watch, 14. 

Staten Land, 29, 32, 33, 411, 412. 

Stearns, Mr. (Los Angeles), 478. 

Steerage, disadvantages of living 
in, 62. 

Steering in a gale, 32. 

Steeving hides, process of, de- 
scribed, 329, 330. 

Steward, functions of, 13, 14; king 
of the pantry, 13; duties of, in 
harbor, 109. 

Steward of the Alert, quarrel of, 
with Mate Brown, 425, 426; 411. 

Stewart, Jack, x, 416, 482, 509, 5 10. 

Stewart, Mrs. Jack, 482. 

Stimson, Benjamin Godfrey, D.'s 
shipmate on the Pilgrim, 32; 
his comment on D.'s account of 
the floggings, 132 n. ; on shore 
leave with D. at San Diego, 140 
/.; wishes to exchange to the 
Alert, 236; buys his exchange to 
the Alert, 333; joins Alert at San 
Diego, 342; his later history and 
death, 509; 51, 58, 62, 84, 120, 
123, 132, 204, 354, 392, 439, 482, 
493- 



552 



INDEX 



Stockton, Cal., 483. 

Studding-sail, setting, in a gale, 
414,415,417, 4i8. 

Studding-sail gear, 16. 

Sumatra, death of Capt. Thomp- 
son on coast of, 493, 494. 

Sunday, at sea, 4, 21; off Cape 
Horn, 34; at Monterey, 89, 90, 
105; harbor-duty on, no; at 
San Diego, 139; a day of leisure 
in hide-curing, 189; the first, 
after rounding the Horn, 420, 
421. 

Sunrise at sea, 8. 

Superstitions, sailors', 46-48. 

Swimming, a Kanaka performance, 
217, 218. 

Tailor, the, at San Pedro, 312, 313. 
Tallow, method of loading, 72. 
Taney, Chief Justice Roger B., 

299. 
"Tarring down," described, 59, 60, 

165, 166. 
Taylor, Edward T. (" Father "), 90, 

138- 

Tea, quality of, on the Alert, 386 
and n. 

"Temperance ship," the Alert a, 
385; the subject considered, 387 
and n. 

Temple, Mr. (Los Angeles), 478. 

Terra del Fuego, 401. 

Terry, Capt. Job of the Pough- 
keepsie, 39. 

Thompson, Francis A., captain of 
the Pilgrim on outward voyage, 
his speech to the crew, 4; and 2d 
mate Foster, 23, 24; deposes 
Foster, 24, and appoints Hall, 
25; sells Ballmer's effects, 45; his 
reply to remonstrance of the 
crew concerning bread-allow- 
ance, 63, 64; a " Down-east John- 
ny-cake," 64, 65; irritation be- 
tween crew and, never allayed, 



64; trouble brewing between, and 
the mate, 75; and Foster's re- 
quest for shore leave at Mon- 
terey, 105; contrast between his 
character and Mate Amerzene's, 
113; unduly severe, 113, 114; 
his ill-humor at San Pedro, and 
its results, 121 jff.; the flogging 
of Sam, 123, 124, and of John the 
Swede, 125, 126, 132 n.; his vio- 
lent rage, 126; orders D. to 
watch hides at San Pedro by 
night, 1 29; and the collisions at 
San Diego, 135, 136; and Capt. 
Bradshaw's sarcasm, 137; and 
Foster, 154; leaves D. behind at 
hide-house at San Diego, 175; 
brings the Alert to San Diego, as 
captain, 221; assents to D.'s ex- 
change, 224; and Mate Brown, 
234; and "Hope," 310; orders D. 
to rejoin the Pilgrim, 337; experi- 
ences a change of heart, 338, 
339; and D.'s swollen face, 380; 
murmurings of crew against, be- 
cause of failure to make sail, 
390, 391; his speech to the crew, 
39 2 , 393; excitement as to his 
plans, 394, 395; running for Ma- 
gellan Strait, 394; carrying sail 
for home, 414; controversy with 
Mate Brown as to executing or- 
ders, 424^"., 425; Captain Wil- 
son on, 473; his treatment of 
Amerzene, 492, 493; subsequent 
career of, 493, 494; dies on coast 
of Sumatra, 494; not a good 
navigator, said Faucon, 505, 506; 
25, 26,31,38,39, 57,58,61,68, 
7i, 73, 76, 77, 78,80,82,83,89, 
127,128, 133, 172, 174, 236, 251, 
253, 262, 273, 276, 277, 314, 348, 

35, 351, 352, 372, 374, 396, 398, 
408, 411, 412, 433, 441, 442, 458. 
Thompson, brother of Capt. T.. 81, 
82. 



INDEX 



553 



Thompson, Mrs., wife of Capt.T.'s 

brother, 81,82. 
Thompson, nephew of Capt. T., 

506. 
Thunder-storm, a typical tropic, 

433-436. 

Todos Santos, Bay of, 66. 
"Tom Cox's traverse," 90. 
Trading at Monterey, described, 

93 / 

Trade-winds. See Northeast trades 
and Southeast trades. 

Trinidad, 429. 

Tuolumne River, 483. 

"Two Years before the Mast," 
much read in California, 468, 
469; written in 1840, 512; char- 
acterized, 516, 517; indirect in- 
fluence of, did much to relieve 
hardships of sailors, 520$. 

United States, report of war be- 
tween France and, 259 jf. 
Upper California, 66. 

Vallejo, Don Guadalupe, com- 
mandante of Presidio of San 
Francisco, 290, 487, 488. 

Vallejo, Dona Rosalia, wife of 
Lies, 468. 

Vallejo, Don Salvador, 488. 

Vallejo, town, 488. 

Vigilance Committee, 469, 485. 

Warner, Mr. (Los Angeles), 478. 
Watches, on shipboard, division of 



time into, 14, 15. And see 

Anchor watch, and Dog-watches. 
Waters, Catherine, mother of 

Capt. Faucon, 508. 
Watson, Sarah, marries D., 519. 
Wellington, Duke of, 299. 
"Welly" (dog), 193. 
Whalers, peculiarities of, 264 and 

n. 
Whales, breathing of, 32, 33; at 

San Pedro, 168, 169. 
White, Harry, 453. 
Williams, Thomas W., buys the 

Alert, 499; letter of, to D., 500, 

501. 
Wilmington and Liverpool Packet, 

whaler, at Santa Barbara, 263; 

her crew, 263, 264; an evening 

aboard, 265; her boat capsized, 

267; poor seamanship on, 269. 
Wilson, Capt., of the Ayacucho, 

manoeuvres the Pilgrim at San 

Diego, 136; in 1859, 472; his 

opinion of this book, 472, 473; 

68, 77, 79, 80, 233, 259, 479, 483. 
Wood Island, collecting wood and 

water at, 285-288. 
Wooding excursions, 201, 202. 
Wrightington, Tom (San Dieg- 

481. 

Ximenes, 209. 

Yerba Buena, 281, 470. 
Yosemite Valley, the, 484. 
Yount, John, 487, 488. 



CAMBRIDGE . MASSACHUSETTS 

U . S A 




e> 



85