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Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 9
Thoughts on a Polar Expedition--Objects of the present Voyage--Departure from New-York--Fourth of July--Crossing the Equator--Visit from Father Neptune--Arrival at St. Ann's Islands--Village of St. Joao de Macae--Cape Frio--Arrival at Rio Janeiro--Directions for Entering the Harbour--Description of St. Sebastian's--Its Trade and Commerce--Beauty of the surrounding Country--Natural Productions--Character of the Inhabitants . . 29
Departure from Rio Janeiro to survey the Coast of Patagonia--Cape Corrientes--White Bay--Rio Colorado--Rio Negro: Character and Manners of the Inhabitants, with Directions for entering the Harbour--Patagonia--Marvellous Stories--St. Matias's Bay--New Bay--Shooting Bullocks and other Game--St. George's Bay--Apology to the Reader--Cape Blanco--Port Desire, with Sailing Directions--Port St. Julian and Santa Cruz, with Instructions for approaching and entering--A Sabbath-day's Adventure--Description of the Natives, their Size, Dress, Mode of Living, Origin, &c.--Survey suspended--Arrival at the Falkland Islands--News of the Henry .. 37
The Falkland Islands--History, Description, and Natural Productions--Penguin, Albatross, &c.--Description of a South Sea Rookery--Arrival at Port Louis--Shooting Bullocks and Geese--Departure from Port Louis--A Search for the Aurora Islands--Perilous Situation among Icebergs--Kergulen's Land--Christmas Harbour--The Sea-elephant--Antarctic Seas, open and temperate in lat. 64 deg. 50' . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49
Desolation Island, or Kergulen's Land--Christmas Harbour--Natural Productions--Oceanic Animals--Departure from the Island, towards the South Pole--Cross the Antarctic Circle--Procure fresh Water from the Ice--Steer for Sandwich-land--Candlemas Isles--Southern Thule--Burning Volcanoes--Return to the Antarctic Seas--Mild Temperature of the Air and Water--No Field-ice in Lat. 70 deg. 14'--Ice-islands and Icebergs; their Formation--Practicability of reaching the South Pole--New South Greenland--Staten Land . . . . . . . . 62
Erroneous Ideas corrected--Staten Land--Strait of Le Maire--Natural History of the Fur-seal and Sea-elephant--Exaggerated Accounts of Cape Horn Dangers accounted for, and refuted--Doubling the Cape--Prevailing Winds and
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Weather in that Region--Diego Ramirez Islands--Ildefonso's Island--Christmas Sound--Western Entrance to the Strait of Magellan--The Wasp sails from Staten Land, and arrives at the Eastern Entrance, from the Atlantic--Enters the Strait, and anchors in the Harbour of Cape Negro . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71
Strait of Magellan--Face of the Country--Hailed by a Troop of Patagonians--Arrival at Port Famine--History of the Place--Ledger River--Natural Productions--An Excursion into the Interior--Ruins of Philipville--Cape Froward--Indians of the Highlands described--A Visit to their Village--The Visit reciprocated--Excursion up the River Capac, accompanied by two Chiefs--Adventures in returning--Filial Affection of a Chief's Son--Character, Manners, Habits, Customs, Employments, and Dress of the Natives--Their Canoes, Arms, &c.--Their Want of Cleanliness, moral Condition, and probable Origin--Enter the Pacific Ocean . . 82
Commence surveying the Western Coast of South America--Capes St. Isabel and St. Lucia--Strait of Conception--Cape St. Jago--St. Martin's Island--Byers's Strait--Island of Madre de Dios--Capes Three Points and Corso--Campana Channel and Island--Port St. Barbara--Cape Nixon--Guayaneco Islands--Interview with a tribe of Indians called the Caucaes--A brief Description of these Natives--The Fourth of July--The Wasp in a perilous Situation on a Rock--Damages repaired--Anchors converted into Rudder Irons--Set Sail for Mocha Island--Obtain fresh Provisions--Island of Santa Maria . . . . . . . . . . . . . 98
Bay of Conception and Port of Talcaguano--City of Mocha, or New Conception--The River Biobio--Soil, Climate, and Natural Productions--Valparaiso Bay and City--Kindness of the American Consul, Mr. Hogan--Santiago, or St. Jago--Directions for entering the Harbour of Valparaiso--Climate, Winds, &c.--Valparaiso destroyed by an Earthquake--Amiable Character of Mr. Hogan--Arrive at Port Coquimbo--Captain Hutchins, of Baltimore--Heave down the Wasp to repair Damages--Directions for entering the Port of Coquimbo--Description of the Town--Caution to Shipmasters--Villanous Attempt at Imposition--Sail from Coquimbo--Pursued by an armed Force, which soon retreats--Islands of St. Ambrose and St. Felix--An Adventure promised in the next Chapter . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 107
A Discovery--Inexcusable Barbarity--Hopeless Sufferings and joyful Preservation--Lobos Afuero--Lobos de Terra--Indian Catamarans, and Balzas--River and Town of Tumbes--Pizarro in Peru--Port and Town of Tacames--Natural Productions--Volcanic Mountains--Height of Chimborazo--Cities of Quito and Cuzco--Monuments of ancient Splendour--Walls of the Temple of the Sun still standing--Ruins of the Incas' Palace--Gallapagos Islands--Elephant Tortoises--Island of Juan Fernandez--Natural Productions--Escape of the Convicts--Alexander Selkirk, or Robinson Crusoe . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 118
Island of Masafuero--The River Maule--Captain and Crew arrested--A Prison Scene--Symptoms of a bloody Crisis--Amicable Compromise--St. Valentine's Day--Guests of Distinction--A nautical Breakfast strangely interrupted--False Colours--Retaliation, or the Yankee Trick--Arrive at Valparaiso--The Wasp changes Masters--Embark for the United States--Pilot a Ship through Magellan's Strait--Touch at Pernambuco--Arrive at Salem--Gloomy Forebodings, terminating in a fatal Reality--Visit to Stonington--Affecting Meeting--A Father's Advice . . 130
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Preparations for the Second Voyage--The Schooner Tartar selected and purchased for the Purpose--A Matrimonial Contract--The Voyage commenced- Island of Fernando Noronha, and the Roccas--Bahia, or the Bay of All Saints--City of St. Salvador--Directions for entering the Harbour--Sail from Bahia--Island of St. Catharine's--Island of Lobos--Rio de la Plata--Monte Video and Buenos Ayres--The Falkland Islands--Strait of Magellan--Peninsula of the Three Mountains--Social Affections of Seals--Moral Reflections . . . . . . . . 143
Peninsula de Tres Montes, and the adjacent Islands--Natives of the Coast--Beneficial Effects of foreign Missionaries, promoting the Interests of Commerce--A new Field for Missionary Labours--Archipelago of Chonos--Island of Chiloe--Natural Productions--Town of St. Carlos--Religion, Character, and Manners of the Inhabitants--Dress of the Females--Employments, Accomplishments, and Amusements--Equestrian Exercises--Mode of Mounting their Horses-- Ponchos and Hammocks--The adjacent Country--Directions for Entering the Port . . 157
Bay and City of Valdivia--The Araucanians--Town of Pelchue--Retrospective Observations--Towns of Colema and Chilian--Province of Chilian--Arrive at Valparaiso--Continue the Survey of the Coast--Province and City of Copiago--Bay and Town of Pisco--Sailing Directions, &c.--The Bay or Roads of Callao--The Blockade and Siege of Callao--General Rodil refuses to Surrender--The Tartar enters without Ceremony . . . . . . . . . . . 163
The Port of Callao--Destruction of the Town in 1746--Condition of the Place in 1824--Closely invested by Land and Sea--Did not "catch a Tartar"--The City of Lima--Sail from Callao--Arrive at Quilca--Visit the City of Arequipa--Sail from Quilca--Arrive at Port Santa--Cruise along the Coast--Port of Guanchaco--City of Truxillo--Bay of Caraccas, and the surrounding Country--View of Chimborazo--A Nation in the Clouds--Volcano of Pinchinca--Eruption of Cotopaxi--Sail from Caraccas Bay--Arrive at Cocos Island . . . . . . . 178
Cocos Island--Gallapagos Islands--Eruption of a Volcano on Narborough Island--Critical Situation of the Tartar--A fruitless Search for Gallego and other imaginary Islands--Arrive on the Coast of California--Island of Guadaloupe--Cerros Island--Bay of St. Francis--Near to our native Land, and yet far from it--The Gulf of California and River Colorado--A new Route from the United States to the Pacific Ocean--Old California--Cenezos Island--Port San Diego in New California--Character of the Inhabitants, &c. . . . . . . . 191
A hunting Excursion--The Party attacked by a hostile Tribe of Indians--A desperate Battle--Victory doubtful--The Savages defeated--A safe Return to St. Diego--Sail to the North--Arrive at Monterey--Mission of San Carlos and San Antonio--Mutiny on board the Asia sixty-four--Farallone Islands--Port St. Francisco--Description of the Country and Inhabitants--Mission of St. Clara--Cape Blanco in the Oregon Territory--Change our Course to the South-- Island of Socorro--Steer for the West--Sandwich Islands . . . . . . . . 202
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Sail from the Sandwich Islands--Northern Polynesia--Bird's Island--Man-of-war Rock--Lisiansky Island--Caution to Navigators--Pearl and Hermes Island--Byers's Island--An unknown Island--Steer towards the Continent--Clipperton's Rock--A Wild-goose Chase for St. Vincent Island--Arrive at the Gallapagos Islands--Return to the Coast of Peru--Bay and Town of Sechura--City of Piura--Directions for entering the Port of Sechura--Bay and Town of Payta--Port of St. Pedro--Bay and Town of Ferrol--Natural Productions--Cinchona, or Peruvian Bark--Animals, &c.--Arrive at the Port of Chorillos . . . . . . . . . . . 215
Isthmus of Darien--Letter from a Traveller--Town of Porto Bello--How to prevent a wet Jacket--An excellent Dinner, and Wine with an Excellency--Canoe Navigation--Gloomy Prospects--Town and River Chagres--Ascending the River--Crossing the Isthmus--Town of Cruces--The Pizarro Road--Coming to an Anchor--Emotions excited by a first View of the Pacific--City of Panama--Importance of a Passport--Projected Canal across the Isthmus--Ruins of old Panama--An Earthquake--The Gulf of Panama . . . . . . . . . . . 231
Surrender of the Castles of Callao, by General Rodil, to the Patriots--Dreadful Effects of the Siege--General Quintanilla surrenders the Island of Chiloe--Visit the Ruins of Pachamcamac, a magnificent Temple of the Sun--Homeward-bound--Strait of Magellan--Two Excursions into the Interior--Entertained by a Tribe of Patagonians--Their Stature and Hospitality--Human Skeletons of a gigantic Size--Touch at the Falkland Islands--A fruitless Search for Island Grande--Arrive at New-York . . . . . . . . . . . . . 243
The Schooner Antarctic, built expressly for this Voyage--Sails from New-York--Reflections on leaving Land--A vertical Sun--Arrive at the Cape Verd Islands--General Description of the Group--Island of St. Antonio, with its natural Productions--St. Lucia--St. Vincent--St. Nicholas--Natural Productions--Indolence and Slavery--A Peep at the Interior--Condition of the Slaves--The Influence of Music--Abundance of Fish--Island of Sal--Dreary Aspect of the Country--Arrive at the Island of Bonavista . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 253
Island of Bonavista--Town and Harbour--Interview with the Governor--The Art of Begging illustrated--View of the Island--Natural Productions--Sailing Directions--The Leton Rocks--Island of Mayo--St. Jago, or Santiago--Port Praya--Breakfast with the Captain-general--A walk with the Ladies--A Peep at the Country--View the Fortifications--Military Establishment--A Dinner-party--Bay and Anchorage--Volcano of Fogo, or Fuego--Island of Brava--Imaginary Dangers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 254
The Cape of Good Hope--A Brief History and Description of the Colony--Saldanha Bay--St. Helen's Bay--Berg or Mountain River--The Vale of Drakenstein--Oliphant or Elephant River--Koussie River--Cape Voltas--Volcanic Productions--Projected Speculation--The Gariep or Orange River--Angras Juntas Bay--Whale Bay--Possession Island--Elizabeth Bay--A Peep at the
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Interior--Angra Pequena, or Santa Cruz--Ichaboe Island--Mercury Island--Intercourse with the Natives--Bird Island--Sandwich Harboar--Walwich Bay . . . . . . . . . 278
Excursion into the Interior--Description of the Natives--Face of the Country--Natural Productions--Sudden and transitory Vegetation--Droves of Elephants--Return to the Vessel--Sail from Walwich Bay--Arrive at Mercury Island--A most afflicting Disaster, in the Loss of Ogden--Tribute to his Memory--Arrive at Point St. Helen--Wreck of the English Brig Columbine--An Offer to save her Cargo rejected--Arrive at Table Bay--Description of the Place--Sailing Directions--Phenomenon of the Tablecloth--Sail from Table Bay, and again steer to the North . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 300
Robben or Penguin Island--Dassen or Coney Island--Arrive at Angra Pequena--Sand-winds, and a moving Column of Sand--Intercourse with the Natives--The Guinea-worm--A Horde of Macasses, or Makosses--Ogden's Harbour--Cape Frio, or Cold Cape--Great Fish Bay--A Tribe of the Cimbebas--Excursion into the Interior--Port Alexander--St. Philip Benguela--St. Philip's Bonnet--Province, Bay, and Town of Benguela--Anchorage, Landing, Sail, Climate, Productions, Water, &c.--Animals, Vegetables, and Minerals--Description of the Coast--Sailing Directions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 311
Visit to a Slave Brig--Cruelty and Suffering--Slaves flogged to Death--Strength of conjugal Affection in an African--An affecting Scene--Beard the Tigers in their Den--Cowardice of Guilt--How to abolish the Slave-trade--English Colony of Sierra Leone--United States' Colony of Liberia--Sail from Benguela--Homeward-bound--Island of Ascension--The Fourth of July, and a vertical Sun--Arrive at New-York--Kind Reception by the Owners, and a still kinder one by somebody else . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 324
A Sister's Inquiry for her Brother--An Evasive Answer--The Fatal Truth disclosed--A Mourning Family--Pious Resignation--A Funeral Sermon--Discharge the Cargo--Visit Stonington--Preparations for another Voyage in the Antarctic--Domestic Affairs--A Wife resolved to accompany her Husband--Vain Expostulations--Arguments pro and con--The Embarkation--The Pilot dismissed . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 334
Departure of the Antarctic--Good Qualities of the Schooner--The Captain's Wife on board--Beauties of a dying Dolphin--Sudden Death of Francis Patterson--Arrive at Bonavista--Arrive at Porto Praya--Steer for the South--The Crew assailed by Fever--The Lady suffering under the same Disease--Distressing Situation of the Antarctic--Death of Mr. Geery--Death of Mr. Spinney--The Prospect darkens--A Wife's dying Request to her Husband--A Dawn of Hope--The Sick begin to recover--Arrive at Tristan d'Acunha, and procure Refreshments . . . 341
Island of Tristan d'Acunha--King Lambert--Governor Class--Gough's Island--Kerguelen's Land--Cape Desolation--Lord Auckland's Group--New-year's
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Festivities--Learning to walk--Natural Productions of the Island--The Schooner Henry, Captain Johnson, their probable Fate--The Snares--Stewart's Isle, or South Cape of New-Zealand--Molyneux's Harbour--Intercourse with the Natives of New-Zealand . . . 352
New-Zealand--Intercourse with the Natives--Their Habitations, Apparel, Working tools, and Weapons--Eating Human Flesh--Face of the Country--Banks's Peninsula--Cook's Cape, Harbour, and Strait--Visit from the Natives--Women an Article of Traffic--East Cape--Mercury Bay--Great Utility of Missionaries--Bay of Islands--Royal Visiters--Visit to the Mission--Orderly Arrangement--Sail to the North--The New-Hebrides--Hope Island--Steer to the West--New Discoveries anticipated . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 365
New Discoveries--Westervelt's Group--An ominous Dream--A perilous Situation--Extricated by a dexterous nautical Manoeuvre--Bergh's Group discovered--Livingston's Island--Arrive at Manilla--Philippine Islands--Luconia--City and Bay of Manilla--A Hint to the Ladies . . 376
Sail from Manilla for the Feejee Islands--Discover Skiddy's Shoal--Islands of Los Matires--Visit Bergh's Group--Discover Skiddy's Group--Visit Young William's Group--Interview with the Natives--Intended Treachery defeated--Visit Monteverdeson's Islands--Description of the Natives--Indications of Hostilities--An Attempt to board the Antarctic--Continuation of the Voyage--Discovery of the Massacre Islands--Friendly Disposition of the Natives . . 387
Massacre Islands--Commence building a House--A Garden planted--Friendship of Henneen, the Island Chief--Friendly Disposition of the Natives--Precautions against Surprise--Symptoms of Perfidy, Duplicity, and Dissimulation--Drawn into an Ambuscade--Disarm a Host--Amity and Confidence restored--Specious but hollow Professions of Good-will--The Alarm--The Massacre-- The Battle--The Rescue--Cannibalism--Deplorable Situation of the Survivors--Sail from the Islands--Arrive at Manilla . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 403
Sail from Manilla for the Massacre Islands--The Bay and Town of Taal--Port and Town of St. Joseph's--Ladrone Islands--Arrive at Bergh's Group--Friendship of the Natives--Their Canoes, Fishing Implements, &c.--Beauty of the Women--Strength and Agility of the Men--Theological Notions--Marriages, Deaths, Wars, &c.--Description of their Weapons, Houses, and Villages--Domestic Arrangements--Fertility and Capabilities of the Soil--Importance of this Discovery--Equipments necessary for a Voyage to these Islands--Depart for the Massacre Islands . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 416
Monteverdeson's Group--Treachery of the Natives--Attack on the Antarctic repulsed--Wholesome Chastisement--Arrive at the Massacre Islands--Assailed by the Cannibals, who are repulsed with Loss--Fire upon the Town--Beneficial Result--Leonard Shaw, supposed to have fallen in the general Massacre, alive, and liberated from a horrid Slavery--Excitement of the Crew--Purchase of an Island--A Castle in the Air--Suspicious Movements--A brief Sketch of the Sufferings of Leonard Shaw, during a Captivity of more than Fifteen Weeks among the Cannibals . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 435
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Massacre Islands--More Treachery--Wallace's Island invaded--The Castle attacked--The Assailants defeated--Henneen slain--Massacre Island evacuated by the Natives--The Antarctic's Crew land--Interment of the Martyrs' Sculls--Holmes's narrow Escape--The Enterprise abandoned--Sail for Bouka Island--St. George's Channel--New-Ireland--The Natives--Fertility and natural Riches of the Country--New-Britain--Dampier's Island . 448
New-Britain--New-Guinea--Dekay's Bay--Description of the Natives--Natural Productions--Birds of Paradise--Requisites for a Voyage thither--Livingston's-Cape--Burning Mountains, with Volcanic Eruptions--Cape Woodbury, and Woodbury Harbour--Another new Discovery--The Antarctic attacked--The Natives astonished--Sunday and Monday taken--Return to Manilla--Health and Fidelity of the Crew--Directions to Ship-masters--Importance of Cleanliness and wholesome Food--Vegetable Acids, &c. . . . . . . . . . . . . .458
Disappointed Hopes--Take Freight for Cadiz--Touch at Singapore to lighten the Vessel--Description of the Place--Climate, Soil, Health, and Beauty of the Country--An Aerial Excursion--Delightful Prospects--Sail from Singapore--The treacherous Malays--Precautions necessary to be observed--Double the Cape of Good Hope--Saldanha Bay--Necessary Repairs--Island of St. Helena--Tomb of Bonaparte--History and Description of the Island--The Azores--Cadiz--Bordeaux--Homeward Bound--Safe Arrival--Melancholy News--The Conclusion . . 469
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A BRIEF SKETCH OF
THE AUTHOR'S EARLY LIFE.
IN appearing thus before the public, and for the first time--not only as an author, but as the discoverer of countries the very existence of which was before unknown to the civilized world,--the writer of the subsequent pages is aware that he is advancing claims of no ordinary character. With what degree of ability they are about to be sustained remains yet to be seen.
The author makes no pretensions to literary attainments, or to the art of fine writing; but he has the vanity to say, that, in his natural sphere, on the deck of a ship, he will yield to none in his knowledge and discharge of nautical duties. If this (perhaps gratuitous) boast require justification, he trusts that it may be found in the following brief sketch of some prominent incidents of his thus far checkered life and maritime career, previous to the voyages which furnished the subject-matter of the present work. This he gives the more readily, as the public have an undoubted right to know something of a man who comes before them with the high-sounding promise of increasing their stock of geographical knowledge, and adding much to the accumulated treasures of cosmographical science.
Ever anxious to avoid even the appearance of egotism, he has thus introduced himself to the reader in the third person; but in telling his own story, he finds it more convenient to adopt the first.
My father, Benjamin Morrell, of Stonington, Connecticut, is well known to the commercial community in New-England and New-York, as a ship-builder of some professional eminence. His name, also, will be remembered, as connected with a domestic calamity of the most distressing and heart-rending character, which occurred in the great gale of September 23d, 1815, which will be noticed in its proper place. His family once comprised a beloved wife and seven children--four sons and three daughters, of whom I was the eldest.
I was born on the 5th day of July, 1795. My parents at that tune resided in a small town of Westchester county, in the state of New-York, called Rye, on Long Island Sound, about eighteen miles N.E. of the great commercial emporium of the United States. Thus, I may say the salt water was almost the first scene presented to my infant view; and I have lived close by it, or on it, ever since.
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In less than a year after my birth, my father removed his family to Stonington, a borough in the county of New-London, Connecticut, also lying on the margin of Long Island Sound, fifteen miles east of New-London, and near the western line of Rhode Island. This place is celebrated for having successfully resisted two furious bombardments by the English; one during the war of the revolution, and another, of two days' duration, in the last war. It can also boast of having produced a greater number of excellent seamen, eminent shipmasters, and enterprising merchants than any other town of equal population in the United States. The number of inhabitants according to the census of 1830 did not exceed 800 souls.
It was here that my father commenced his business of ship-building; which he pursued, with unremitting assiduity, until the year 1800, when he made a voyage to the Pacific Ocean, as third officer and carpenter of the schooner Oneco, of New-London, commanded by Captain George Howe. He was absent nearly three years, suffering many hardships and privations, the voyage proving unusually hazardous and disagreeable. On his return to Stonington, he resumed his business of ship-building; in which he lost a considerable sum of money, through the misfortunes of his employer, Captain Nathaniel Smith. Although this loss was severely felt by my father, he never attributed any blame to Captain Smith; knowing him to be of a nature too noble and humane to enjoy a lengthened period of worldly prosperity. The miser and the knave appear to be the most popular and successful in this life, while the generous and the just too often become the victims of treachery, and the prey of misfortune.
My infancy and early childhood were periods of sickness and pain. That laughing vivacity, bounding hilarity, and buoyancy of spirit which every healthy child experiences--
"That lightly draws its breath,
And feels its life in every limb,"
were to me "like angels' visits;" for until I was ten years old I had seldom, if ever, enjoyed health or ease for the short space of a single week. At the age of ten, my health rapidly improved; and it was about this period that I first felt a strong propensity to become a sailor, and visit distant parts of the world. This desire, by whatever cause excited, was keenly whetted by the many marvellous stories I daily heard, from those who followed the seas, concerning the "wonders of the mighty deep," and the curiosities of foreign climes. It literally "grew with my growth, and strengthened with my strength." Books, also, were not wanting to fan the flame, which at length became inextinguishable; and after vainly soliciting my father's consent, I determined at once to play the hero, and seize the first opportunity for running away!
Such an opportunity at length occurred; but not until I had entered my seventeenth year: when, without taking leave of any member of the family, or intimating my purpose to a single soul, I left my paternal home, one pleasant morning in March, 1812; and without encountering any adventures worth relating, soon found myself in the great city
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of New-York. Here I lost no time in looking out for a berth on board of some vessel engaged in foreign trade, the coasting business being a sphere far too limited for my expansive ambition. I finally succeeded in shipping myself on board the Enterprise, a ship belonging to Ralph Buckley, Esq., and commanded by Captain Alexander Cartwright; as fine a seaman, and as honest a man, as ever put his foot on the quarter-deck of a ship.
Our destination was Lisbon, with a cargo of flour, for which a great price was anticipated, as France was then at war with Spain and Portugal, and a further supply from the United States was momentarily expected to be cut off; as an embargo law for ninety days had just passed both houses of Congress, and was hourly expected in New-York. Like several others in the same predicament, we were compelled to take in our cargo with the greatest expedition, and then to drop below in the outer harbour, to wait for our clearance. As soon as this was obtained, we all weighed anchor and put to sea. The word was now, "Run for it! and Heaven help the hindmost!" for the collector's signature was scarcely dry upon the paper before he received orders from Washington by express to stop every vessel that was bound to sea. The revenue-cutter immediately gave chase to our little fleet of flour-dealers, and succeeded in stopping several of the fugitives, who were compelled to return. The rest of us had too much the start of him; and I soon found myself far from land, on the element which I had so long and so ardently desired to traverse.
I cannot describe my sensations on finding myself afloat on the mighty ocean. My soul seemed to have escaped from a prison or a cage--I could now breathe more freely. But large and boundless as the world of waters appeared, I was afraid that it was not large enough for my wholesale desires. So many had traversed it before me that I felt apprehensive that they had gleaned the vast field of research, and left nothing new for me to discover and describe. But doubtless many other lads of the same age, and under similar circumstances, have experienced the same kind of feelings. The enthusiastic glow which they imparted to my bosom, however, was occasionally chilled by an intruding thought of home, and the affliction of my parents and relatives, on account of my clandestine and mysterious disappearance. But the novelty of my situation soon enabled me to give such thoughts to the winds.
After a pleasant passage, we touched at Lisbon, but finding the price of flour not equal to our expectations, we proceeded to Cadiz, which was then exposed to a severe bombardment from the French. This was of course a wonderful and interesting scene to me. To see the bomb-shells flying over our ship, and falling into the marketplace, which I had occasion to visit every day for beef and vegetables, was truly grand and sublime. It was in some measure realizing what I had so often heard and read and dreamed of; it was a partial consummation of my most prominent juvenile desire. I soon became familiar with danger, and actually felt the most gratified when the shells fell thickest around me; so that I might exhibit my contempt of fear. From that period, I became romantically fond of hazardous
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and desperate enterprises, in the achievement of which I have ever since sought occasion to place myself foremost. Whether this propensity be physical or moral, or both combined, or inconsiderate rashness, I leave it for others to decide. At all events, it appears to be inherent in my nature, and the most pleasant sensations I have ever experienced were the effects of its gratification.
We made a long stay in Cadiz, waiting to make an advantageous sale of our cargo, which we finally effected, and again set sail on our return to New-York, ignorant of the fact that since our departure from the United States war had been declared by our government against Great Britain and her dependencies.
We continued our passage with variable winds and occasional foul weather, until we arrived on the Banks of Newfoundland; where we fell in with the British sloop-of-war Hazard, the commander of which politely furnished our captain with the news of the war, and then extended his courtesy so far as to take charge of our ship, and give the officers and crew a free passage to St. John's, Newfoundland, where we were all confined on board a prison-ship lying at the head of the harbour.
On board of this hulk we were detained as prisoners of war for about eight months, during which time we received every indulgence and liberty that could reasonably be expected by persons in our situation. For this liberal and humane treatment we were indebted to the kindness of Sir John Thomas Duckworth, commander-in-chief of his Britannic majesty's forces on that station. He even permitted twenty-five of the American prisoners to go on shore every day, to work as riggers, receiving the customary wages for that business. He also allowed a market to be held on board the hulk, to which the countrymen were compelled to bring the best of every thing, at the same prices as were paid by citizens. Every article of provisions brought to this market which was found to be of bad quality was promptly-thrown overboard by one of Sir John's officers.
But notwithstanding the kind treatment we received, we all sighed for liberty, longing to get home that we might embrace our friends, and join our brave countrymen in arms. We therefore resolved to petition Sir John, at his next humane weekly visit, to send the American prisoners home to their families and friends. We did so, and the admiral replied in substance as follows:
"My brave men I feel for you, and will do all that lies in my power towards gratifying your wishes, in the course of this winter. It is natural that you should desire to be restored to your friends, families, and country. You may rely upon my best exertions in your behalf."
Reanimated by this cordial assurance, we now felt like different beings, confident that the humane veteran spoke in the sincerity of his heart, and a few days furnished testimony that our confidence had not been misplaced. On his next visit he gave us the joyful intelligence that arrangements had been made for our return to the States in about a month.
No incident occurred to damp our hopes. At the time appointed we all embarked on board a cartel, and on the following day took our final leave of Sir John, with sentiments of affection and respect. It
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is no small gratification to my feelings at the present moment, that I am favoured with an opportunity of thus bearing public testimony to the professional merits of this gentleman, as well as to the amiable qualities of his heart. He dropped a manly tear at our parting, and his cordial "God bless you, my lads!" was sensibly felt by every heart among us. After interchanging an affectionate farewell with other kind friends and acquaintances, we set sail for our native land, and in a few days arrived in safety at Boston.
I now found myself restored to liberty from a state of captivity; a freeman in my native country, treading the soil of independence. This side of the picture was not without its charms. But I was penniless, and among strangers; in the language of Dr. Watts,
"Alike unknowing and unknown;"
many miles from my paternal home; longing, yet dreading to meet my father, without even a change of linen, or the means of procuring such a luxury. This side of the picture was shaded in gloom, and I hesitated what course to pursue. As a prompt decision, however, was indispensably necessary, I made up my mind to go home, and started for Stonington on foot, trusting to chance and charity for food and lodging on the road, and to parental affection for a pardon and cordial reception at the termination of my journey. One of my comrades only accompanied me; and though his pockets were light as my own, yet "misery loves company," and our conversation tended to beguile the tediousness of the way. So we journeyed on together, being sometimes received and entertained with warm hospitality and kindness, at other times treated with churlish indifference, or repulsed with unfeeling rudeness.
When we had arrived at a place within about fifteen miles of Stonington, my companion found a friend from whom he borrowed a horse, and rode on before me to my father's home, to communicate the intelligence that his son was on the road, and thus prepare him and the family for the approaching meeting. From the departure of my messenger until the first interview with my father, my feelings may more easily be conceived than described.
On hearing that his "lost son was found," and returning, like the repentant prodigal to seek a reconciliation with his father, parental affection triumphed over every other feeling. "And while he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him." This was almost literally the case with me. On hearing the report of the messenger, my father instantly ordered a carriage, and rode out of town to meet me. I shall not attempt to describe the long desired, long dreaded interview. It took place on the road, and resulted in the mutual satisfaction of both parties. His heart was overflowing with tenderness and forgiveness; mine with gratitude and affection. The meeting with my mother, sisters, and brothers was equally affecting. "The best robe" was put upon me, "and shoes upon my feet." "The fatted calf was killed," and we "did all eat, and were merry."
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When a state of comparative calmness had succeeded to this excitement, my father addressed me, nearly in the following words:
"My son," said he, "you have my forgiveness for the past, and also my consent to pursue the bent of your inclinations, if you are still determined to follow the sea for a livelihood. But as it is necessary for you to have education, I wish you to stop on shore until you can acquire it; for I shall then be satisfied that you will be capable of reaching an elevated rank in the profession, and of becoming an honour to the society of ship-masters. I know that you possess as much ambition as any lad of your age in the country, and are capable of becoming whatever you please, if you are careful to store your mind with useful knowledge. You have now health, strength, courage, and quick discernment. All that is wanting to ensure your success is a suitable education; and that you must have."
Though I forcibly felt and readily acknowledged the truth and justice of these remarks, the "spirit-stirring" influence of the times would not allow me to profit by them. My country was engaged in an arduous struggle with a powerful enemy; my countrymen were in arms--a daring foe hovered on the coast, and our gallant tars were reaping a harvest of glory on the ocean. During my unfortunate captivity, three of the enemy's first-rate frigates had been captured, by those "American cock-boats, with a piece of striped bunting at their mast-head," which were to have been swept from the ocean in half that time. 1 The gallant Hull had conquered and sunk the boasting Guerriere, in thirty minutes. Decatur had captured the Macedonian, after an obstinate action, and brought her safely into New-York through Long Island Sound. Bainbridge had captured and destroyed the Java. Porter of the Essex had captured the sloop-of-war Alert, in eight minutes, without the loss of a man. Jones of the Wasp had captured the Frolic of 22 guns, in forty-three minutes; and Lawrence of the Hornet had captured the Peacock, of 18 guns, in fifteen minutes. All these victories had been achieved in the short space of six months, from the 19th of August, 1812, to the 24th of February, 1813!
How could I hear of these glorious events--how read of the honours conferred upon the victors--how listen to the shouts of triumph, and witness the splendid illuminations lighted up in honour of those heroes, without resolving to seek the first opportunity to share in their dangers and their glory? even the common sailors attached to our victorious ships were treated on shore like heroes and conquerors. Public dinners were provided for them at the most magnificent hotels of our principal cities; while splendid and expensive dramatic spectacles were produced at the theatres expressly for their amusement. With such a luxuriant field of laurels before me, could I calmly look on, and see others reap all the harvest? Could I, in short, waste days, and weeks, and months in a village school, while other lads of my age, among whom were several of my own acquaintances, were gaining wealth and renown upon the ocean?
My resolution was soon taken. The privateer Joel Barlow, a
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schooner of one hundred and sixty tons, pierced for fourteen guns, was nearly ready for sea; and I succeeded in obtaining the station of quarter-master on board of her, under Captain Buchanan. We set sail with bright hopes and high anticipations, all of which were destined to terminate in cruel disappointment; our cruise being totally barren of incident, danger, or emolument.
We finally put into Charleston, S. C., where our little privateer was converted into a letter-of-marque, and laden with cotton for France. Two nine-pounders were all the guns we retained, with eighteen men besides officers. We weighed anchor at daybreak on the 28th of May, 1813, and left the port of Charleston in company with the privateer schooner General Armstrong, of eighteen guns, afterward distinguished for the gallant and desperate defence she made against an overwhelming force, in Fayal Roads. She was now under the command of Captain Champlin; who, a few weeks before, had sustained an action with her against an English twenty-four gun frigate, for forty-five minutes within pistol shot; and finally succeeded in escaping, with the loss of six killed and sixteen wounded.
The General Armstrong, being light and well coppered, soon left us behind, and we saw her no more. We had five passengers on board the Joel Barlow, bound for Bordeaux; viz. a young Frenchman of about twenty-five years of age, said to be partially insane; with his mother, and another French lady: also, two American gentlemen, one of whom was Major M. M. Noah, of New-York, who had been recently appointed consul to Tunis.
About the middle of June (I kept no journal at this time), we fell in with a fleet of English merchantmen, steering a south-easterly course; and our captain proposed making love to one of them; not doubting that our warlike appearance would induce an instant surrender. We accordingly gave chase, and came very near catching a tartar; for as we neared our intended prize, she suddenly shortened sail, displayed a flag and pendant, hauled up her courses, and exhibited a row of teeth too formidable for our present purpose. In short, it was the guardian dog of the flock--an English gun-brig convoying the fleet. The captain saw his error in time, appeared satisfied with the discovery, and we resumed our former course.
Our passage was considerably retarded and protracted by calms; so that thirty-four days had elapsed before we obtained a sight of the French coast. On the 3d of July, in the afternoon, within about fifty miles of Cordovan lighthouse, we fell in with an English gun-brig on the lee bow, and a sixteen gun cutter on the lee quarter. We immediately commenced plying to windward, with a fair prospect of escaping our enemies; as it was evident, after an hour's trial, that they did not gain upon us, and the captain was only waiting for night to change our course. At sunset, however, we discovered to our astonishment an English frigate to windward, running down directly on our beam, with topmast, top-gallant, and royal steering sails set.
Escape was now impossible. She soon ran her jib-boom over our quarter, and ordered us to haul down our sails and colours. We were then boarded by a lieutenant, midshipman, and several men from the
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frigate, who informed us that she was called the Briton, commanded by Sir Thomas Staines, and ordered us all to repair on board of her, bag and baggage. We obeyed with all reasonable alacrity, although it was late in the evening before every thing was properly arranged and settled. It was a beautiful moonlight night; and I will not deny that as I gazed at the silver orb, I silently wished myself at Stonington. But regrets were now useless.
As soon as we were safely stowed between decks, the master-at-arms ordered a sentry to be placed over us. On the following morning, however, as the captain was examining the ship, seeing us under guard, he called to the master-at-arms, and demanded why the marines were placed over the Americans.
"Let them go about their business," said he; and then, turning to the lieutenant, he added, "let these American tars be put in messes among the ship's company; and as this happens to be the 4th day of July, a day which they always celebrate in their proud and happy country, tell my steward to give them six bottles of spirits from my own private stores, that they may drink to the memory of the immortal Washington, the father of his country."
It is perhaps unnecessary to say that we cheerfully profited by this unexpected indulgence from a magnanimous enemy; and united in celebrating the anniversary of our country's independence on board of an enemy's ship of war, and under the flag of the same power that had so often assailed our country's rights.
On the following day, our schooner, the Joel Barlow, was sent to England as a prize, in charge of a lieutenant, midshipman, and ten men. Our captain went in her, but the rest of us remained on board the Briton. The same day our French passengers were disposed of by putting them on board a little French fishing-smack out of Rochelle; although much against the inclinations of the fishermen, who begged hard to be excused, as they were sure of being imprisoned for the service the moment they landed. All their entreaties, however, were unavailing. They were compelled to obey, and the old lady and her son, accompanied by the other French lady, were received on board the smack, and we saw them no more.
Major Noah, the Tunisian consul, and his friend, were treated with the greatest civility by Captain Staines and his officers; and also by Admiral Duncan, whom they visited by invitation, on board the Bulwark seventy-four, as soon as we reached Basque Roads, where a British squadron was at anchor, watching the motion of the French, and picking up adventurers like ourselves. The consul was afterward transferred to the Rippon seventy-four, and finally sent to England, in the Goldfinch brig. From thence he proceeded on his mission to Tunis, by the way of Spain.
A different destiny awaited myself and comrades. We were transferred to the Sultan seventy-four; from thence to the Clarence seventy-four; in which we were conveyed to Plymouth, and put on board a prison-ship, where we remained about one month, and were then taken to Dartmoor Prison. 2
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In this dreary abode we found above eight thousand Frenchmen, and about half that number of Americans, all prisoners of war. Here we received every indulgence that could be expected under such circumstances; and though we had no more than the customary "prisoner's allowance" of food, what we had was good and wholesome. We enjoyed the privilege of an excellent market, at the regular prices of the country, where every thing offered for sale was obliged to be of the best kind. No imposition was allowed to be practised on the prisoners by the English farmers. We had our own cooks, and our own nurses in the hospital; and the doctor was one of the best and most humane of men. His name was M'Graw, and he was justly beloved and respected by every American in Dartmoor prison. We had the liberty of a large yard from daylight until dark; and a certain number of the prisoners were each day permitted to go outside the walls to work, for which they were regularly paid by the captain of the prison. Within the walls we amused ourselves with schools, dramatic performances, and a variety of games and plays. In fact, I cannot conscientiously accuse the British of any inhumanity towards the American prisoners during all my detention of thirty-one months in St. John's and at Dartmoor, excepting the atrocious massacre at the latter place in April, 1815, after the peace. The history of this affair is familiar to every reader. The American prisoners were fired upon, by order of the infamous Capt. Shortland, when eight were killed, and thirty-seven wounded!
More than seventeen years have passed away since that horrid event occurred, and the vital current, of course, flows more calmly through my veins; it is also not always right to probe a healing wound: yet I cannot, at this moment, refer to the affair without experiencing an unpleasant glow of indignation which it is difficult to suppress. It is the feeling of an unatoned injury rankling in my bosom. Had I been one of the wounded, I could not be more sensitive on the subject. I feel it as an American. It is true that some sort of an investigation took place--a kind of mock trial; but it resulted in nothing satisfactory to the friends of the deceased, or the surviving wounded invalids, the most of whom will bear the marks of their wrongs to the grave.
Why was not satisfaction demanded for this brutal outrage? The humblest American citizen is as much entitled to the protection of his government as the most elevated. Surely they who fight the battles of their country, and stand ready to shed their blood freely as water to sustain her honour and her rights, ought not to be wantonly maltreated without receiving some adequate atonement from the assassins.
About the 1st of May, 1815, the joyful assurance of our immediate release was received in Dartmoor prison, and a few days afterward we were marched to Plymouth, where we embarked for the land of liberty, our country, and our homes. In the latter part of June I once more stepped upon American ground, with a heart full of gratitude to our heavenly Father for having again redeemed me from captivity, supported me through numerous dangers and difficulties, and finally restored me to the land of my nativity in safety and in health. We
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landed at Boston, and I lost no time in hastening to Stonington, where I had the additional satisfaction of finding my parents and all the family in perfect health. It was a joyful meeting, after an absence of more than two years.
As our country was now at peace, and my love of hardy enterprise not yet satisfied, I soon began to look about for some active and manly employment, congenial with my roving propensities. I therefore, after taking an affectionate leave of my friends, repaired to New-York, where I fell in with my old friend Captain Cartwright, who now commanded the ship New-York Packet, and was bound to Bordeaux. Wishing to see a little of France, I did not hesitate to ship myself on board his vessel, which shortly proceeded on her voyage.
In about three months we returned to New-York, where intelligence of the most distressing nature awaited me. During my absence, four of our family had perished in the most dreadful manner--namely, my mother, my grandmother, my sister, and my cousin. This afflicting dispensation happened in the great gale of September 23, 1815.
This was the most tremendous and disastrous tornado ever witnessed in the United States. It commenced at about four o'clock in the morning. At nine it blew a fresh gale from the east, with some rain. By twelve the wind was south-east, and had increased to a perfect hurricane. It drove the water into Providence River to the height of twelve feet above its usual high-water mark, destroying much property and many lives. But at Stonington, the home of my parents, sisters, and brothers, the effects of this gale were most disastrously exhibited, and most severely felt. At ten o'clock, A.M. the tide had risen so as to sweep all the wharves. A vast number of stores and houses were demolished, blown to pieces, and washed away by the sea--and my father's house among the rest. 3 Business had called him away from his family at an early hour in the morning; and when the danger began to be alarming, the water had risen to such a height that he could not return! He had advanced so far as to be in full view of his house; but an impassable gulf prevented his nearer approach. The house was now surrounded and more than half-filled by the unnatural deluge, the surface of which was covered with floating timbers, planks, and other evidences of its ravages. The family had retreated to the roof. Many attempts had been made to cross the raging whirlpool in boats, with the vain hope of rescuing the ill-fated sufferers from their impending destiny. My father rushed forward to succour the helpless victims, with a desperation bordering on phrensy; but was forcibly restrained by his more considerate or less excited friends. There stood the distracted husband and father, surrounded by his neighbours, gazing on the heart-appalling scene, unable to afford relief! He saw the beings who were dearer to him than life, clinging to the chimney of their habitation for support, and shrieking for assistance which Heaven alone could give. He saw them, one by one, torn from their hold by the relentless element! He saw them perish, and could afford no help!
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This was dreadful news to me; but our domestic calamities did not terminate here. In about six months afterward, we were called to mourn the loss of two more of the family--two brothers, who also met a watery death. It was now feared by all that my father would sink under the weight of this accumulated affliction, and lose his reason, if not his life. But we were spared such an addition to our present troubles. Summoning to his aid a manly philosophy, combined with a pious resignation to the will of Providence, he bore up against the load of sorrow with a fortitude and calmness beyond our expectations.
In the height of these calamities, one person only proffered assistance of a more substantial nature than mere unavailing expressions of sympathy. This noble and disinterested friend was no other than Silas E. Burrows, Esq., who stepped forward like a man--nay, like an angel of mercy--and took under his protection my two little motherless sisters, to whom he has shown every mark of tenderness and affection that it is possible even for a fond father to evince for his dearest child. May the choicest blessings in the gift of a bountiful Providence be showered upon him and his. But this was no solitary instance of this good man's benevolence. His general character is above the reach of my feeble panegyric; thousands are living who will readily bear testimony to his worth as a citizen, and his virtues as a man.
In the mean time my ruling passion was as restless as ever, pointing to new scenes, in the most remote sections of the globe. I obeyed the impulse, and visited several parts of the eastern world in rapid succession. Madras, Calcutta, Batavia, Canton, Bengal, and New-Holland. These voyages I performed in different ships, before the mast,--the only school in which good seamanship can be successfully and practically taught or learned.
During all this period, however, I was justly considered a very "wild youth." How long I should have continued in this thoughtless career of folly it is not easy to determine, had not Divine Providence raised up for me a faithful friend and adviser in the person of Captain Josiah Macy, master of the ship Edward of New-York, belonging to Samuel Hicks and himself. On a voyage to Calcutta, this worthy man, who is a pattern for all ship-masters, took me from before the mast, and by his watchfulness and fatherly advice directed my attention to more manly and useful pursuits; nor did he remit his guardian care until he saw me master of a ship.
Thus was I diverted from the path of indiscretion, which too often conducts to ruin, by the unsolicited friendship and benevolent feelings of an entire stranger, who long acted towards me the part of a parent and a tutor; labouring incessantly to supply the glaring defects of my education (or, more properly, my want of education), and to eradicate from my mind the seeds of folly, and plant in their stead the seeds of useful knowledge; and finally, putting me forward in the world as a man of business, and thus securing me an honourable rank among my fellow-citizens. Heaven grant that I may feel properly grateful for such inestimable favours. As an evidence that I profited by them, the year 1810 saw my name enrolled in the honourable list of married
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men! I shall not trouble the reader with my "whole course of wooing;" a record of the result is sufficient for my present purpose.
Having heard much of the South Shetland Islands, and the stirring incidents of a sealing voyage in the South Seas, I felt a strong desire to become a partaker in the labours and profits of such an enterprise. Accordingly in the month of June, 1821, I accepted the office of first mate on board the schooner Wasp, belonging to James Byers, M'Intire, Nixson, and B. W. Rogers of New-York, and commanded by Captain Robert Johnson. My brother also went out in the same vessel, as second mate. We had a fine passage to the Falkland Islands, where we found the brig Aurora on shore at New-Island, in Shallop Cove. After a short stay here, we started for Staten Land, where we came to anchor on the 15th of September, in East Harbour. 4
I now took my brother, with the two boats well manned, and started on a cruise around the island in search of fur seal. But this day's cruise had wellnigh proved my last; for in attempting to land, with two of my boat's crew, an accident happened which threatened fatal consequences both to them and myself. As a heavy swell was rolling into the shore, I ordered the two men to land before me, confident that I could gain the top of the rock before the next roller came in. But here I unfortunately overrated my own agility, and miscalculated the velocity of "the saucy billow," for before either of us could obtain a good foothold, a very heavy roller, full fifteen feet in height, came swiftly in, and swept all three of us off the rock. Being in the rear of my men, it struck me with much greater violence than it did them, plunging me downwards with great velocity. I struggled manfully with the gigantic assailant, but before I could clear myself from the kelp and undertow, and rise again to the surface, I had become so completely strangled with water that it was useless to close my mouth, as no more could enter it.
During all this struggle my presence of mind did not once forsake me. My thoughts flew like lightning over the actions of my past life; indeed, the rapidity with which I recalled every single transaction of departed years is truly incredible. I reviewed the whole, but among a mass of youthful follies I beheld no crime for which I could condemn myself. Nothing troubled me but the idea of leaving my little family so poorly provided for, and exposed to the insults and impositions of an unfeeling world.
Perceiving that my strength was wasting very rapidly, I made a desperate effort to swim off shore to my boat, which I saw just outside of the breakers, and near her the boat of my brother, who was pulling in, and admonishing me at the same time, in a loud but cheerful voice, to keep up my spirits for a minute or two longer, when he would be able to reach and assist me.
All my attempts to swim off shore were frustrated by the heavy rollers, throwing me back towards the rocks. I therefore changed my purpose, and made several trials to reach the shore; but just as I could almost touch the rocks which lined it, the undertow would take
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me fifteen or twenty feet beneath the water. At length, when my feeble struggles had once more raised me to the surface, I found that my strength had entirely left me; and ceasing to struggle, I passively and slowly descended, confident that I could never come up again without assistance, and feeling that after such powerful exertions and consequent fatigue, it was sweet to rest, even if it were the rest of death!
When I had slowly sunk about two feet below the surface, in nearly an erect posture, with my face off shore, and my eyes open, I saw my brother's boat coming in, on a very heavy roller; he appearing determined to save or perish with me. As the boat came in with great velocity, I saw him standing in the bow, with a coiled line in his hand ready to throw to my assistance, which he did as soon as he came within proper distance, and with such accuracy that the coil, settling much faster than I did, came directly over my head. Heaven gave me strength to clench it in my hand, which I did with a death-gripe, and in the next moment my brother had hold of me.
"Stern, all!" he exclaimed, and the oars were vigorously plied to pull the boat backwards from the breakers; but before she could clear them, she came very near standing on end or pitchpoling.
Thus far my senses faithfully performed their several functions. I could see, hear, feel, think, reason, and draw conclusions. But the instant I was raised to the surface, and felt the breath of heaven on my face, I knew no more, but lay insensible, apparently dead, for four hours; during all which time no human strength could compel my fingers to relax their hold of the cord which, under Providence, saved me from a watery grave.
When I recovered my senses, I found that I had cascaded a vast quantity of salt water, and felt myself utterly prostrated with excessive weakness. The boats were now pulling for the schooner, which they reached about midnight, the watch on deck having called Captain Johnson, on seeing us approach. My brother's boat was the first to get alongside, when he briefly communicated to the captain the nature of my situation. The moment I was lifted from the boat to the deck of the Wasp I found myself in the arms of Captain Johnson; who, with a full heart and overflowing eyes, immediately returned thanks to God for my truly miraculous deliverance.
From Staten Land we shaped our course for the South Shetland Islands, 5 and arrived at Monroe's, after a pleasant run of four days, with light winds from the east and north-east, and clear weather. In cruising among these islands we experienced many dangers and hair-breadth escapes from the fields of ice which frequently surrounded our little vessel. Our situation at times was peculiarly hazardous, cheerless, and lonely,--no other vessel appearing in those seas to interrupt the solitude which surrounded us for sixteen days, although we were daily expecting the brig Jane Maria, of New-York, belonging to the same concern, for which we were to prepare a cargo of sea-elephant oil or blubber.
On the third day after our arrival we explored our way, with ex-
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treme difficulty and not a little danger, through the ice, as far to the eastward as Yankee Harbour. Before we reached this place, however, being then about three miles from it, we became completely enclosed in the centre of a vast field of ice; and before we could rescue the vessel from this unpleasant and perilous situation it came on to blow a smart gale from the S.S.W., nearly dead on-shore. In the course of two hours the violence of the wind had raised a heavy and dangerous sea, which caused these large cakes of ice, about six feet in thickness, to surge against the schooner with alarming force. This rendered our situation extremely critical; and we made several bold attempts to force the vessel through the ice into clear water, which was now only about three hundred yards from us.
Convinced, at length, that our ice-bound schooner could not be made to move without putting on her such a press of canvass as would, almost to a certainty, carry away her masts, as the gale was increasing every moment, Captain Johnson ordered the sails to be taken in, and the boats to be prepared with provisions, muskets, ammunition, and fireworks,--in order that we might haul them to the shore over the ice, in case of the last extremity,--as there was every prospect of the schooner's going to pieces if she continued much longer in her present dangerous situation. But by the time the boats were in readiness the crew had become completely disheartened,--the mildest prospect before them being that of perishing with the cold on the ice, if they escaped a watery grave!
At this juncture of affairs Captain Johnson, myself, and brother held a consultation, which resulted in a determination to force the vessel through the ice, at the hazard of her masts. Should we remain much longer where we were, our fate was inevitable; and we could but perish at last, if the masts went by the board. It was a desperate alternative; but possibly it might prove successful. Captain Johnson gave the word, and I sprang forward to see it executed.
"All hands, ahoy! to make sail!" I exclaimed, and the crew were instantly in readiness. "My brave lads," I continued, "you all see our danger, and must exert yourselves to escape it. Active obedience and manly presence of mind can now alone save us. I know you too well to doubt your skill and courage. Cheer up, my hearties, and exert yourselves like men in making sail to save the vessel and your lives. Let us give the little Wasp all her canvass, and she will either carry us safely out of this perilous situation, or lose her limbs in the attempt."
This brief exhortation had the desired effect. Every man sprang to his duty with renovated cheerfulness and alacrity; and in a few minutes all the heavy canvass in the vessel was spread to the gale. Such is the salutary influence of a little seasonable excitement on desponding minds.
Our little bark vainly struggled for about fifteen minutes, the masts yielding to the unwonted pressure as far as the shrouds and backstays would permit. On the strength of this cordage our redemption now depended. We watched her motion with an almost breathless anxiety. At length we perceived that she began to move, at the
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tardy rate of about twice her length in twenty minutes. This slow movement, however, was gradually accelerated, until, in about twenty-five minutes, we found her approaching the outer edge of her ice-bound prison with great velocity. It was now deemed necessary to shorten sail, lest her still increasing speed should drive some sharp fragment of ice through her bottom. Every sail was therefore taken in, except the head of the foresail; by which time we were in clear water, where we hove the vessel to under two reefs in her foresail, which was now as much canvass as she was able to stand under in such a gale.
On the following day the gale abated, fine weather succeeded, and the sea soon became smooth. It was now found necessary to get the vessel into a safe anchorage as soon as possible. This was finally effected by the discovery of a new and commodious harbour, to which, in honour of our worthy captain, we gave the name of Johnson's Harbour. Here we came to anchor, and enjoyed a little respite after our late danger and fatigue.
The next morning my brother and myself, each in command of a well-furnished whale-boat, started on a cruise in search of sea-elephants. Our boats were equipped and stored with every thing necessary for such service,--such as provisions, arms, fireworks, tent, &c. After coasting along the shore for about thirty miles to the westward, we discovered the objects of our search on the beach, in immense multitudes, to the amount of at least ten thousand. Exulting in the prospect of a successful enterprise, we immediately selected a convenient spot and pitched our tent, which was made of No. 1 canvass, and of sufficient capacity to accommodate the crews of both whale-boats. Here we encamped, in the midst of our unconscious victims, which were scattered around us in numbers more than sufficient for our present purpose,--which was merely to provide a cargo of seven hundred barrels of oil for the brig Jane Maria, of New-York, and which we effected in a very short time.
As soon as the brig arrived and took charge of the oil, we weighed anchor and shaped our course to the north-east, in search of fur-seals. This unwearied activity was characteristic of our enterprising and amiable commander. On the accomplishment of one object he proceeded to another without a moment's delay. But it is to be feared that this laudable ambition at length carried him too far, and that he has fallen a victim to that spirit of manly enterprise by which he was always actuated. He sailed from New-York in 1826, on a voyage to the South Seas, but has not been heard of since he left the south cape of New-Zealand, in 1827.
We arrived at the Seal Islands in the latter part of November, 1821, but found very little game to reward us for the trouble of coming thither. Captain Johnson, therefore, whose active spirit would not permit him to linger among these islands in idleness, adopted the resolution of sailing eastward in search of new lands. So we took our boats on deck, and steered between the east and the south, until the second day of December, at one o'clock, when the man at masthead gave the cheering cry of "Land, ho! Land, ho!"
This proved to be an island, bearing east-half-south, distant five
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leagues; not noticed on any chart. At 2 P.M. the wind had died away to a dead calm. Knowing this to be a new discovery, and anxious to ascertain if there were any fur-seal on its shores, I prevailed on Captain Johnson to let me take my boat and visit the stranger. The boat was accordingly lowered and manned, and at half-past two our brave lads began to pull for the shore, which was now about ten miles from us. Our orders were to return before dark, and in case of a breeze springing up, to look for the Wasp under the lee of the island. Our men gave way with great spirit and alacrity, cheered with the hope of finding on the shores of our new discovered island an abundance of that amphibious game of which we were in search.
After two hours' hard rowing our boat reached the beach, and anxious to be the first man on shore, I resigned the steering oar to one of the men, and sprang into the bows of the boat, from whence I leaped to land before a particle of sand had been disturbed by her keel. Here were no inhabitants either to bid me welcome or to resent the intrusion, with the exception of some twenty sea-dogs, reposing on the beach, and their tacit hospitality we inhumanly rewarded by despatching five of the handsomest, and making free with their jackets.
On what trifling contingencies depend important events! This little adventure proved the means of saving our lives! But for the capture of these sea-dogs, our boat and crew, in all human probability, would never have been heard of more, nor would this humble narrative have ever been put to paper! But I will not anticipate.
We now proceeded to explore the beach in search of fur-seal, and soon feel in with a yearling of the right sort. This put our lads in fine spirits, as it seemed the earnest of some heavy rookeries 6 ahead. But in this hope we were all sadly disappointed; for after vainly exploring above ten miles of the shore, which abounded with spots of fine beach, and places suitable for seal in a parturient state, we gave up the search in despair, and prepared to return to our vessel.
It was now near eight o'clock, P. M., and the wind had commenced blowing a smart breeze from the west, attended with light snow-squalls. The Wasp, as we expected, was lying-to on the leeward side of the island, at the distance of about ten miles, bearing E.N.E. by compass. We unmoored, hoisted sail, and steered directly for the schooner with a fair wind, until we were within about two miles and a half of her, when a thick snow-storm set in, while the wind continued to freshen. We still shaped our course for the position in which the Wasp was last seen, lying-to with her starboard tacks on board, bearing E. by N. half N. Consequently, we steered E. by N. for about two miles, when we commenced firing muskets every five minutes, until we judged ourselves to be near the schooner.
Not receiving any answer to our signal-guns, we turned the boat's
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head to windward, took in the sails, and pulled towards the island; making, however, but very little headway. In this manner we proceeded until it began to grow dark, which in this latitude, and at that season, was at half past ten, P.M. At this time the haze opened a little, so that we obtained a sight of the schooner bearing S.W. by W. five miles to windward, under a heavy press of sail, with her larboard tacks on board. The island now bore W. by S. distant seven miles, as we had gained about two miles in-shore.
The wind had now increased to a perfect gale, and our situation every moment became more and more critical. Presuming that Captain Johnson did not see the boat, and finding that we were rapidly-losing ground, the crew became very much disheartened. The snowstorm again set in, thicker than ever; so that we soon lost sight both of land and vessel. The gale continued to increase in violence, and the waves in magnitude; so that it was almost impossible to keep the boat's head to the windward. I now found it absolutely necessary to adopt some other method to keep her in that position than merely hanging upon our oars; for unless her head was pointed to the seas, she would inevitably fill. To prevent such a catastrophe, I fortunately hit upon the following expedient.
We bent or fastened one end of the boat's warp to the five seal-skins we had taken in the afternoon, and at about three fathoms distance from the skins, we secured the oars to the same cord. In order to prevent the latter proving too buoyant, we loaded them with the boat's anchor, secured by what cordage we could command, such as the halyards and sheets of our sails. As soon as this rude apparatus was completed, we committed it to the waves, paying out about twenty fathoms of the warp, which we secured to the bow and stem thwarts, keeping it well parcelled in the chucks, to prevent its chafing. When this was all properly arranged, we stowed ourselves in the centre of the boat, and soon found that one man could now keep her free, by baling only half his time, although the sea ran excessively heavy, and the gale blew with such violence that it was almost impossible to breathe while looking to windward.
Still, however, our little boat made very good weather of it. The oil which worked from the blubber attached to the skin so smoothed the rough billows that not a sea broke near the boat. For the space of twenty-four hours we thus rode by our floating anchor, in a tremendous gale of wind, a very heavy sea, and a violent snow-storm. During this time we must have drifted to leeward at least fifty miles, as there was no land in sight when the storm abated, and the weather became clear. Our newly discovered island could have been easily discerned at the distance of forty miles.
Although the storm had abated, our situation was still extremely perilous. We had neither provisions nor quadrant on board the boat, in the high latitude of 60 deg. 30', and were, in fact, destitute of every thing necessary to extricate ourselves from this awkward predicament. To add to the difficulties and dangers which surrounded us, the feet, hands, and ears of the crew began to be frozen. I now found myself compelled to exercise some severity towards the poor fellows, in order to prevent their perishing with the cold. That treacherous and horrid
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drowsiness which is ever the precursor of death by freezing came over them with almost resistless force, and I knew that he who slept would wake no more. I therefore adopted every method I could think of to arouse their almost dormant faculties, and could only succeed by exciting some turbulent passion. I also compelled them to dip their hands and feet into the water every few minutes, to prevent their freezing any more; as I, who set the salutary example, escaped the slightest touch of the frost. The moment I felt a sensation of numbness in my extremities, I dipped the affected part in the salt water, and the feeling was almost immediately removed.
On the 3d of December, at nine o'clock, A.M., the gale subsided, and was succeeded by fair weather. We now weighed our floating-anchor, the wind having shifted to the south, and again set sail in search of our new island. The course we steered was W.S.W., running at the rate of five miles an hour, until two o'clock the next morning, December 4th; when, to our unspeakable joy, we found ourselves close in with our little island, which we had left two days before. At four o'clock, A.M., we had the additional pleasure of discovering the schooner to the eastward, steering directly for the island, and at half past six we were once more safe on the bright decks of the Wasp, where my brave boat's crew received the cordial embraces of their sympathizing shipmates. It was necessary, however, that this interchange of congratulation should be abridged, as my men were much frost-bitten, and quite exhausted for the want of food and rest; the little bread we had on board the boat being completely soaked with the salt water.
As respects myself, I was received by the captain and my brother as one risen from the dead. Both of them shed tears of joy, and fervently expressed their thanks to Heaven for my deliverance. They had given us up for lost, concluding it impossible that our little boat could weather such a gale, or live an hour in such a sea. Even the schooner had suffered considerably, having part of her bulwark washed away while lying-to in the height of the gale, which split one three-reefed foresail and one balance-reefed mainsail. She had also drifted about ninety miles to the eastward.
Captain Johnson had seen our boat just as the snow-storm set in, and concluded that we would immediately steer for the land, which was what we vainly attempted to do. At half past ten, P.M., when the snow cleared off for a few minutes, he could discover nothing of us from the masthead; and finding the gale increasing to such an alarming degree of violence, attended with so rough a sea, he naturally concluded that the boat must have been swamped, and that, as a necessary consequence, all hands had perished; as it seemed to him, he said, "utterly impossible for any boat to live at sea in so violent a gale, with the sea running so high as, at times, almost to bury the schooner." It was nothing, under Providence, but the soft persuasive influence of our sea-dog oil, that partially appeased the angry god of the ocean, and restrained his fury from filling the little bubble of a vessel in which we floated. To the God of gods we gave the praise, for to him alone was it due.
At eight o'clock, A.M. we once more sat down to a warm breakfast;
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and at nine, P.M., having examined the coast to our satisfaction, and finding no seal, we steered for Staten Land, where we again fell in with the brig Jane Maria, bound to New-York. As this vessel was also under the orders of Captain Johnson, though now in the charge of one in whom he had not the most implicit confidence, he expressed a wish that I would take passage, and navigate her to New-York. I cheerfully complied with my worthy friend's wishes, and embarked on board the Jane Maria, which, in a few days afterward, arrived at the Falkland Islands. Here we remained about a month, for the purpose of taking fur-seal, and then set sail for the United States. After a pleasant passage of fifty-eight days, we arrived in safety at the port of New-York, on the 26th of April, 1822. I had the satisfaction of finding my family and all my friends enjoying good health; but shall not trouble my readers with any trite remarks respecting the pleasure of meeting those we love, after so long an absence; presuming that they know as much about it as I can tell them. At any rate, they will not look for sentiment in the rough journal of a sailor.
On the day after my arrival, our owners having perused the letters which I brought from Captain Johnson, Mr. Byers promptly offered me the command of a vessel, if I would wait a month or two; at the expiration of which time it would be the proper season to commence a South Sea voyage for the purpose of sealing, trading, and making new discoveries. I readily acceded to this proposal, and immediately took charge of the schooner Henry, to have her repaired and fitted against the return of Captain Johnson, who was then to take the command, and resign the Wasp to me. In about six weeks the latter vessel made her appearance, with a cargo of hair-seal skins--last from the island of Mocha; and, in due time, Captain Johnson and myself exchanged places. I then took both vessels up to the ship-yard of Messrs. Blossom, Smith, and Damon, to be thoroughly overhauled, repaired, and fitted for a long voyage.
When the two vessels were properly fitted for sea, and removed from the ship-yard to the stations assigned them for that purpose, we commenced taking in provisions and salt for a sealing voyage, which it was calculated would occupy about two years; while both commanders were vested with discretionary powers to prosecute new discoveries, and to trade for the benefit of all concerned. Each vessel was therefore liberally and bountifully supplied with every thing necessary and comfortable for such an expedition, by James Byers, Esq., one of the owners. In naming this gentleman, I cannot avoid expressing the high estimation in which I hold his character for honour, liberality, mercantile integrity, and every manly virtue.
In due time our two schooners were completely equipped and ready for a two years' cruise in the South Seas, Antarctic Seas, and Pacific Ocean; both of them being strong, stanch, well-rigged, fast-sailing vessels. On the 30th day of June, 1822, we prepared to set sail--having, of course, previously taken leave of our friends, and parted with some perhaps for ever! At eight, A.M., the pilot came on board, when we got under way, and put to sea with a fine breeze from the S.W. and fair weather. The journals of this and three subsequent voyages form the contents of the following pages.