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    Chapter 11

    Who the Stranger Was — Black List — Salt Shoveling — Peak of Pico — Voyage Ended — Visit my Family — Voyage to South America — Trade-winds — Sea-Fish — Rio Janeiro — Desperate Situation — Montevideo — Returning North — Cutting in a Whale — Resolved Never to Drink Ardent Spirits — Arrival in Alexandria — Preparations for Another Voyage — Visit my Family — Escape from a Stage — Sail for South America — Singular Fish — Arrival at Rio Janeiro — Sail for River La Plata — Dispose of my Cargo at Buenos Ayres — Catholic Host.

    THIS man was the ship’s corporal, or constable, in the opposite watch from me, and was captain of those unfortunate ones called “black list men,” subjected to perform the scavenger work of the ship, and also to scour the brass, copper, and iron, where and whenever it was called for. In this work he appeared delighted to honor the king. The ratan in his hand looked to me like the same one that he used to switch about some of those unfortunate men. I have before narrated, in part, how the first lieutenant (Campbell) threatened me with an unmerciful whipping if I did not move to suit him wherever I was stationed, because I had attempted to swim away from the St. Salvadore del Mondo, a few days before I was introduced on board the Rodney, as I have before shown. After watching me for more than a year to execute his threat, he was one day told there was a pair of trowsers between the mainmast head and heel of the topmast. I acknowledged they were mine, for which offense he kept me in the “black list” for six months.LELJB 140.1

    We had about two hours in a week to scrub and wash clothes in salt water; sometimes a few quarts of fresh water, if one could get it before the two hours closed. And no clothes were to be dried at any other time, except our hammocks, when required to scrub them. Every morning in the warm season we were required to muster with clean frocks and trowsers; if reported not clean, the penalty was the “black list.” If I could have obtained from the purser out of the slop chest the clothes I absolutely needed, I should never have been put to my wits’ end, as I was, to avoid the “black list.” I had at different times stated to the officer of our division how destitute I was in comparison with others, and begged of him to give me an order for clothing to muster in. In this I failed; and because my clothes were too much worn to be decent, I suffered as I did. I never knew any other reason for thus requiring me, as it were, to “make brick without stubble or straw,” than my first offense in attempting to swim away from their service. It was a government gain to serve clothes out to us, for they were charged to us at their own price, and deducted out of our scanty allowance of wages. I had an opportunity to know that it was not because I lived in ignorance of my duty as many others did, for the same Mr. Campbell promoted me more than once to higher stations, and I was told that my wages were increased in proportion. This corporal never used his ratan on me, but the way he “honored” me then, was to turn me out of my hammock (if I was so fortunate as to get into it after doing duty on deck from the midnight hour), and set me at work with the “black list” gang, until it was time for me to take my station in my watch on deck again, with no more liberty for sleep until the night watch was set. In this way I sometimes got the privelege of about five hours for sleep below, and oftener but four hours out of the twenty-four! I was well satisfied he could have favored me in this matter had he pleased; but we obeyed, knowing well if he reported us slack or disobedient, our task would have been made still harder and more degrading. And all this for attempting to dry a pair of trowsers that my name might appear on the clean list!LELJB 141.1

    Without gratifying his curiosity as to who I was, I learned from him the whereabouts of many of the officers and crew, for a great many of whom I felt a strong attachment. I employed two sturdy-looking Irishmen to shovel our salt out of the salt scows into the “ballast port,” a hole in the ship’s side. While progressing in their work I saw them leaning over their salt shovels. Said I, “What is the matter?” “Matter enough, sir; your men don’t shovel it away as fast as we shovel it in!” Some seven or eight men were shoveling it away from them into the ship’s hold. Said I, “What is the matter, men? are you not able to shovel the salt away as fast as these two men shovel it in?” They replied they were not. Said one of the Irishmen who was listening at the ballast port, “If we had as much meat to eat as you, then we would give you as much again salt.” “Why,” said one of my sailors, who seemed much troubled about this, “don’t you have any meat?” “No,” said they, “we have not had any this fortnight.” “What do you eat, then?” said the sailor. “Potatoes, sure,” was the reply. My sailors were then living on all the varieties that good boarding-houses afford in Liverpool. Many are of the opinion that meat imparts superior strength to the laboring class. Here, then, was one proof to the contrary.LELJB 142.1

    On account of prevailing westerly winds on our homeward passage, we came into the neighborhood of the Western Islands. Here we saw the towering Peak of Pico mingling with the clouds. By our observations at noon we learned that we were eighty miles north of it. By running toward it sixty miles we should probably have discovered its base. We arrived safely in Alexandria D. C., in the fall of 1820. As no business offered for the ship, I returned to my family in New England, having been absent some sixteen months.LELJB 143.1

    Early in the spring of 1821, I sailed again for Alexandria, taking charge of the Talbot, to perform a voyage to South America. The bulk of our cargo was flour. My position was more responsible now than before; for the whole cargo, as well as the ship, was now confided to me for sales and returns. My compensation for services this voyage was more than doubled. My brother F. was my chief mate. We cleared for Rio Janeiro, in Brazil. After a few hours’ sail from Alexandria, with a fair wind, we passed ex-President Washington’s plantation at Mount Vernon. Sailors say that it was customary with some commanders to lower their topmast sails as a token of respect when they passed his silent tomb. About one hundred and fifty miles from Washington, the variegated and pleasant scenery of the Potomac was passed, and we entered the Chesapeake Bay. We had an experienced and skillful pilot; but his thirst for strong drink, requiring the steward to fix him gin toddy and brandy sling so frequently, awakened our fears for the safe navigation of the ship, so that we deemed it necessary to put him on an allowance of three glasses of grog per day, until he had piloted the ship outside of the capes of Virginia.LELJB 143.2

    From the capes of Virginia we shaped our course east southerly for Cape Verde Islands (as is usual) to meet the north-east trade-winds to carry us clear of the north-east promontory of Brazil, or South America, down to the equator where we meet the trade-winds coming more southerly. In running down these north-east trades, one is struck with the brilliant pathway the ship keeps rolling up in her onward course during the darkness of the night. The light is so brilliant that I have been tempted to read by it at the midnight hour, by holding my book open facing the shining track. Were it not for the continual caving and tumbling of the sea to fill up the chasm under the stern of the ship, which bends the letters in the book, one could read common print by it in the darkest night. Some who have examined this strange phenomenon tell us it is because the sea, particularly there, is filled with living animals, or little shining fish, called animalcula. Doubtless these are food for larger fish. Further south we meet with another species of slender fish about a foot long, furnished with little wings. Suddenly a large school of them rise out of the sea, wheel sometimes clear round, and then drop into their element again. The cause of this, as seen sometimes, is a dolphin, with all the colors of the rainbow, darting along like a streak of light in pursuit of his prey, that have eluded his grasp by rising out of their element and taking an opposite course. In the night time they frequently fly on board the ship, affording the mariner a delicious breakfast.LELJB 144.1

    On our arrival off the capacious harbor and city of Rio Janeiro, we were struck with admiration while viewing the antique, cloud-capped, ragged mountains, and especially the towering sugar-loaf that makes one side of the entrance to the harbor. Here we disposed of a large portion of our cargo, and sailed for Montevideo, at the entrance to the river La Plata. A few days before our arrival, we encountered a most terrific gale and storm, at the close of which we were drifting on to a rock-bound, uninhabited part of the coast. The wind died away to a dead calm, the sea and current setting us on to the rocks. Our only resort was to clinch our cables and drop our anchors. Fortunately for us they held the ship. With my spy-glass I ascended the mast-head to survey the rocky shore. After a while I decided on the place, if we should break from our anchors and could get our ship headed for the shore, where we would plunge her, and if not overwhelmed with the surf, escape to the shore. After thus deciding, we made every necessary preparation, in case the wind should come on again in the night, to cut our cables and make a desperate effort to clear the rocks under our lee. After about thirty hours’ anxious suspense, the wind began to rise again from the sea; we raised our anchors, and before midnight we considered ourselves out of danger from that quarter.LELJB 145.1

    Soon after this event we arrived at Montevideo, and disposed of the balance of our cargo, and returned again to Rio Janeiro. I invested our funds in hides and coffee, and cleared and sailed for Bahia or St. Salvador. On the Abrolhos banks we fell in with the ship Balena, Capt. Gardiner, of New Bedford, trying out a sperm-whale which they had harpooned the day before. Capt. G. was recently from New Bedford, on a whaling voyage in the Pacific Ocean.LELJB 146.1

    After getting these huge monsters of the deep along-side of the ship, with sharp spades fitted on long poles, they chop off their heads, and with their long-handled “ladles” dip out the purest and best oil, called “head matter.” Some of these heads yield twenty barrels of this rich product, which sells sometimes for fifty dollars per barrel. Then with their great iron “blubber hooks” hooked into a strip of the blubber, to which the huge winding tackles are fastened, with the fall at the end of the windlass, the sailors heave it round while the spade men are cutting the strip down to the flesh. As the strip of blubber rises, the whale’s carcass rolls over until the blubber is all on board the ship. The carcass is then turned adrift, and soon devoured by sharks.LELJB 146.2

    The blubber is minced up into small pieces, and thrown into large iron “try-pots,” to be tried out. When the scraps are browned they throw them under the try-pot for fuel. The hot oil is then put into casks, cooled, coopered, and stowed away for a market. While this work is progressing, the cook and steward (if the captain thinks best) are at work at the flour barrels, rolling out bushels of doughnuts, which are soon cooked in the scalding oil as a general treat for all hands. Sailors call this having a good “tuck out.” The hot oil is as sweet as new hog’s lard.LELJB 147.1

    Capt. Gardiner furnished me with recent news from home, and left letters with me for the States. In a few days I arrived at Bahia, and from thence sailed for Alexandria, D. C.LELJB 147.2

    While on our passage home, I was seriously convicted in regard to an egregious error which I had committed in allowing myself, as I had done for more than a year, to drink ardent spirits, after I had practiced entire abstinence because I had become disgusted with its debasing and demoralizing effects, and was well satisfied that drinking men were daily ruining themselves, and moving with rapid strides to drunkards’ graves. Although I had taken measures to secure myself from the drunkard’s path by not allowing myself in any case whatever to drink but one glass of ardent spirits per day, which I most strictly adhered to, yet the strong desire for that one glass, when coming to the dinner hour (the usual time for it), was stronger than my appetite for food, and I became alarmed for myself. While reflecting about this matter, I solemnly resolved that I would never drink another glass of ardent spirits while I lived. It is now about forty-six years since that important era in the history of my life, and I have no knowledge of ever violating that vow, only in using it for medicinal purposes. This circumstance gave a new spring to my whole being, and made me feel like a free man. Still it was considered genteel to drink wine in company.LELJB 147.3

    We had a pleasant passage from Bahia to the capes of Virginia, and arrived in Alexandria about the last of November, 1821. A letter was awaiting me here from my wife, announcing the death of our only son. Mr. Gardiner, the owner of the Talbot, was so well pleased with her profitable voyage that he purchased a fast-sailing brig and an assorted cargo, in Baltimore, for me to proceed on a trading voyage to the Pacific Ocean, while the Talbot remained in Alexandria to undergo some necessary repairs. While preparations were being made for our contemplated voyage, I took passage in the mail stage from Baltimore to Massachusetts to visit my family. We left Baltimore on Wednesday, and arrived in Fairhaven, Mass., on first-day evening, after a tedious route of over four days, stopping nowhere only for a change of horses and a hasty meal, until we reached Rhode Island. While passing through Connecticut, in the night, the horses took fright and sheered on the side of a bank, upsetting the stage. A very heavy man on the seat with me held to the strap until it gave way, and fell upon me, crushing me through the side of the stage upon the frozen ground. If the driver had not leaped upon the bank as the stage was falling, and stopped his horses, we must have been killed. It was some weeks before I fully recovered. Still I rode on until I reached home.LELJB 148.1

    After remaining with my family a few weeks, I left them to return to Baltimore. As we were entering Philadelphia, about midnight, in a close winter coach having but one door and containing seven men as passengers, in passing over a deep gully the straps of the driver’s seat gave way, and the two drivers fell under the wheels, unknown to us who were snugly wrapt up inside. I asked why the horses were going with such speed. “Let them go,” said another, “I like to go fast.” I was not so well satisfied, but threw off my cloak, got the door open, and hallooed to the driver; but, receiving no answer and perceiving that the horses were going at full speed down Third Street, I reached around forward and found that the drivers were gone, and the lines trailing after the horses. I threw the step down, stepped out on it (perhaps a foot from the ground), and watched for an opportunity to jump on a snow-bank, but the horses yet kept on the pavement where the snow was worn off. The passengers from behind were urging me to jump, as they wished to follow before the stage was dashed in pieces.LELJB 149.1

    I finally sprang forward with the going of the stage with all my strength, and just saw the hind wheels clearing my body, when I pitched upon my head, and how many times I tumbled after that before I stopped I cannot tell. I found I had gashed the top of my head, from which the blood was fast flowing. I heard the stage rattling most furiously away down the street. By the aid of the moonlight I found my hat, and followed on after the stage. I soon came to Mr. G., my owner’s son, who was in company with me from Boston. In his fright he had jumped square out of the stage, and was seriously injured. After getting him under a doctor’s care, I started to learn the fate of the other five, and our baggage. I met the horses with a driver, returning with the stage broken down on the wheels. Four other passengers followed our example, and were not much injured. The last man out was a very heavy one, and he jumped out, after the carriage left the pavement, on the sand, uninjured. The horses ran to the river and turned suddenly under a low shed, crushing the stage upon the wheels, which would in all probability have killed every passenger who had dared to remain. We learned in the morning that the drivers but just escaped with their lives, the stage wheels crushing the fingers of one, and taking a hat from the other’s head. After a few days we were enabled to proceed, and arrived in Baltimore.LELJB 149.2

    Soon after my return to Baltimore, I was placed in command of the brig Chatsworth, with an assorted cargo, suitable for our contemplated voyage, with unlimited power to continue trading as long as I could find business profitable. Fire-arms and ammunition were also furnished to defend ourselves in cases of piracy and mutiny. My brother F. was still my chief mate. We cleared for South America and the Pacific Ocean, and sailed for Baltimore Jan. 22, 1822. In a few weeks we were passing Cape Verde Islands, bending our course for the Southern Ocean.LELJB 150.1

    In the vicinity of the equator, in moderate weather and calms, we meet with a singular species of fish (more numerous than in higher latitudes), furnished with something analagous to oars and sails. Naturalists sometimes call them “Nautilus.” They are a kind of shell-fish. With their great, long legs for oars to steady them, they rise and swell out above the water from four to six inches in length, and about the same in hight, very much resembling a little ship under full, white sail. They sail and sheer round about the ship, fall flat on the sea, as though they were upset by a squall of wind, rise erect again, and glide ahead with their accustomed speed, seemingly to show the mariner that they, too, are ships, and how they can outsail him. But as soon as the wind rises their courage fails them; they take in all sail and hide under water until another calm. Sailors call them “Portuguese men-of-war.”LELJB 151.1

    About the 20th of March we arrived and anchored in the harbor of Rio Janeiro. Finding no demand for the whole of our cargo, we sailed again for the river La Plata. As we approached the northern entrance of the river, in the stillness of the night, although some three miles from the shore, we could distinctly hear the sea-dogs (seals) growling and barking from the sand-beach, where they had come up out of the sea to regale themselves. The next day we anchored off Montevideo to inquire into the state of the markets, and soon learned that our cargo was much wanted up the river at Buenos Ayres. In navigating this, to us, new and narrow channel in the night, without a pilot, we got on to the bottom, and were obliged to lighten our vessel by throwing some of her cargo into the sea before she would float into the channel again. On our arrival at the city of Buenos Ayres, our cargo sold immediately at a great profit.LELJB 151.2

    While lying at Buenos Ayres, at the head of ship navigation, a heavy “norther” blew all the water out of the river for many leagues. It was singular to see officers and crews of ships passing from one to another, and to the city, on hard, dry bottom, where but the day before their ships were floating and swinging to their anchors in fifteen feet of water. But it was dangerous to travel many miles off, for the dying away of the wind, or a change of wind at the mouth of the river, rushed the water back like the roaring of the cataract, and floated the ships in quick time again to swing to their anchors.LELJB 152.1

    Until the suppression of the Inquisition in 1820, no religion but the Roman Catholic was tolerated in Buenos Ayres. It was singular to notice, as we had frequent opportunities to do, with what superstitious awe the mass of the inhabitants regarded the ceremonies of their priests, especially the administering of the sacrament to the dying. The ringing of a small table-bell in the street announces the coming of the Host, generally in the following order: A little in advance of the priest may be seen a black boy making a “ding-dong” sound with this little bell, and sometimes two soldiers, one on each side of the priest, with their muskets shouldered, with fixed bayonets to enforce the church order for every knee to bow at the passing of the Host, or subject themselves to the point of the soldier’s bayonet. I was told that an Englishman, refusing to bend his knee when the Host was passing him, was stabbed with the soldier’s bayonet. Persons on horseback dismount and kneel with men, women, and children in the streets, and at the threshold of their dwelling-houses, groceries, and grog-shops, while the Host, or the priest, is passing with the wafer and the wine. We foreigners could stand at the four corners and witness the coming of the Host, and pass another way before they reached us.LELJB 152.2

    Some thirty miles below the city of Buenos Ayres is a good harbor for shipping, called Ensenado. To this place I repaired with the Chatsworth, and prepared her for a winter’s voyage round Cape Horn.LELJB 153.1

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