Catherine (Catharine) Stewart Forbes - incorrect spelling because of mistake by newspaper reporters.
Katherine Stewart Forbes - Diaries on line - free. www.jillsjottings.co.nz
Notes of a Voyage from London to
on the Barque
“Katherine Stewart Forbes.”
By A. Webster.
There is no known picture of the ship, which was built at
Northfleet, England in 1818, but this illustration of a similar Barque was
supplied by National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, England. An Auckland newspaper
reporter incorrectly spelt the name and the error has continued in subsequent
publications. The correct spelling (as above) has been confirmed from the
City Libraries Special Collections
As transcribed by Jill Kemp.
When I stood in front of a glass case displaying a ship’s diary and read “Katherine Stewart Forbes” it was almost unbelievable! Of all the ship’s diaries held in the Archives, the fact that this one in particular was selected for display seemed providential! (It is unlikely I would have ever known about it, as the name of the ship is not included in its file name.) The diary had been chosen as part of a Shipping Display, held in the Auckland City Libraries Rare Book Room, in January 1992. I could hardly wait for the display to finish so that I might examine it for myself. To hold it in my hands and know that this little book had sailed 12,000 miles with my ancestors was quite an emotional experience, but I was soon frustrated by the difficulty of deciphering the script. With the kind permission of the Librarians I started the long job of transcribing it. Two hour stretches of copying in pencil was all the concentration my brain could cope with and I became an expert at finding broken parking meters, give or take a few parking tickets! Some words took years to finally decipher. It has been a life changing experience for me. I first learned to type and after the frustration of having to redo every page to insert elusive words, progressed to a computer! Through this little diary I finally understood the conditions under which my forbears immigrated to this country and came to hold the writer in high regard. I have been able to contact his descendants and discover more about him. Prior to this transcription, they had also found it impossible to read the complete manuscript. I have been unable to locate a picture of the Katherine Stewart Forbes so, to commemorate the 150th anniversary of this voyage, our family has commissioned two
paintings depicting scenes described in
this diary and I am interested in contacting descendants of other passengers.
First page of original Diary.
43 Chess game as copied from original
44 Draughts game as copied from original
47 Drawing of fishhook used to catch Albatross– copy of original
53 Newspaper extracts
54 Newspaper extracts
55 Newspaper extracts
arrives for Revd. Lush (Colonial Fare- Jill Brewer)
Punctuation has been added to assist the modern reader.
spelling has been retained.
"KATHARINE STEWART FORBES"
750 Tons Burthen.
Wm. Wright. Commander.
October 1849 [actually 1851]
out from St Katharine's Dock on Thursday 17th at 4pm and passed down the river
with the aid of a Tug Steamer. About 7, thro' the carelessness of the Pilot, got
stuck in the mud and had to wait on the morning tide. Got off at 2 and reached
Graves End at 6am. Friday and Saturday then occupied in making preparations for
sea, the passengers fixing up any little extras for comfort in their berths,
lashing or nailing down their luggage, etc. while the ship's crew ever busy
shipping fresh provisions of livestock (pigs, sheep and poultry).
On Saturday we had
a visit from the Government Inspector of Emigrant Ships whose duty it is to see
that the vessel is sufficiently provisioned, properly manned, and the passengers
and crew all in good health. The result of his investigations proved that we
were short of provisions for one man and that we required extra, one Able
Bodied Seaman and one Apprentice. He also listened to the complaints of a few of
the Steerage passengers of detention of the ship's sailing and gave a decision
in their favour. I understand they were allowed 1/- per day from the date
advertised for sailing (10th) to the time at which they were put on ship
allowance (the 18th). Everything being ready and a favourable light breeze
springing up, we weighed anchor on the following morning (Sunday) at 5 and bade
goodbye to our Graves End friends.
About 7pm came
abreast of the Goodwin Sands. The wind being then light and the tide setting in
against us the Captain thought prudent to wait for the morning light and a more
favourable wind to weather the Sands. So we cast anchor off Pearl. This being
Sunday we had the Religious Services on board (both in our department of the
ship - Fore Cabin) to which all who wanted to attended. There was a very
respectable attendance [with] two young married men of our party officiating in
the Church of England style, there being no Clergyman on board except a R.
Catholic Priest. It is expected that all who consider themselves qualified to
deliver and address will see it their duty to do so, that the work well begun
may be continued 'till the end of our voyage. The Captain expressed his approval
of our endeavours to respect the Sabbath and signified his willingness to assist
us, as far as lay in his power.
This morning, about
˝ past 5, I was awoke by the lively song of the sailors weighing anchor. Got on
deck just as we were passing the Downs with a good stiff breeze. The water about
us was studded with vessels of all sizes. I counted 17 who, like ourselves,
outward bound had been lying in the Downs waiting for a favorable wind. Amongst
them was the "William Hyde," also for New Zealand
(Canterbury and Nelson). We had now an opportunity for judging of the
sailing qualities of our Katharine. At starting there was 8 sail ahead of us and
the W.H. close astern. In 4 hours we had passed them all with the exception of
one which must have been a Clipper. By 6pm the W.H. was astern about 5 miles.
This has been a lovely day, clear and warm, with a steady S.E. wind blowing us
thru the water at the rate of 8 knot.
I have not yet learned exactly the number of passengers on board but as far as I can judge, 65 (men, women and children) will come close to the mark. She carries 16 of a crew with Captain, 1st, 2nd and 3rd Mates, Doctor, Carpenter, Cook, and four Stewards and assistants. To all appearance the above respective posts are well filled with intelligent, active, and obliging individuals. So, with fair, average weather, we may calculate on a pleasant and speedy passage.
I may here note the
victims of our cabin. I call them such as we are so closely packed together that
I know not how we shall breathe when we reach the warmer latitudes.
All together we have 11 enclosed berths or Cabins. This sketch will give you an idea of our position.
No 1 Mess. Yates & Byrne
Mr & Mrs Schalder
No 2 Mr & Mrs Webster
No 10 Mr
& Mrs Pratt & 4 Children
No 3 Miss Reid & 3 Ladies
11 Two Ships Officers
No 4 Mess Mason, Parker, Fulton & Webster No
12 Water Closet [Toilet]
5 Mr & Mrs Patterson
No 13 Chief Cabin
No 6 Mr & Mrs Button
No 7 2nd Mate & Carpenter
No 8 Mr & Mrs Burton
Berth No.1 held by
an Irishman named Yates and a youth named Byrne from the same country. The
former is a blustering sort of chap. Spends his time in attending to the wants
of the young ladies, reading and spouting poetry, playing cards chess etc and
wears a horrid (ugh) moustache.
No.2 is occupied by
a married couple, English, named Webster. Quiet and agreeable, no family.
No.3 fitted up for
and possessed by 4 young unmarried
ladies. Three of them are Irish and the other English named Reid. They are a
lively set and keep us in amusement. They are very obliging and make themselves
No.4 is our cabin. Messieurs Mason, Parker, Fulton and
Webster. Parker is an Englishman and the other three from Glasgow. Mr Fulton
joined the ship at Graves End the evening before she set sail, and we were
obliged to take him into our cabin, although we had all our arrangements made
for three. I think this berth of ours is now the most crowded part of the
vessel, only one of us can dress in it at one time. Mr Parker goes out to claim
some property left him by a brother. Messrs. Mason, Fulton and Webster go on
spec. to see the country, uncertain whether they remain or return.
is inhabited by a Mr & Mrs Patterson, a very kind and obliging
couple, no family, from New Castle - Tyne. Mr P. is a Machine Maker and Fitter.
The object of his present voyage is to try the timber cutting by steam at New
No.6 is a young
couple 18 months married, no family, by the name Button. They go to New Plymouth
No.7 is occupied by
the 2nd Mate & Carpenter.
No.8 on the
opposite side is possessed by a Mr & Mrs Burton, young and no family.
No.9 Mr & Mrs
Schalders, young, no family.
No.10 is the cabin
of a very nice family named Pratt. The Gent. is English, the lady Irish. They
have four of a family, two of them children who keep up an incessant squalling.
They go to New Plymouth to farm.
No.11 is the
sleeping berth of two officers of the ship
No’s 7 and 11
mess at the ship's table. We mess
in lots of 6 to 8.
No’s 1 & 2 together form one. No’s 4, 5 and 6 another and No’s 8, 9, 10 another.
A Superintendent is
appointed over each mess, relieved weekly, whose duty it is to look after the
water and provisions and other small matters.
We rise at 6am,
breakfast at 8, dine at 1, supper at 6.
Yesterday was dull
misty sort of day with a light breeze. We are now getting into rough water, 'tho
nothing yet to speak of. Passed Portland at 11am today. Towards noon the wind
had freshened and by 2pm passed the
Ediston Light House. A number of passengers on this day showing symptoms of the
much-dreaded sickness. Mr Parker has gone to bed "very bad" as he
Got up this morning
just in time to catch a parting glimpse of Old England, the double light on the
Lizard Point, Lands End was just visible. In another hour it had disappeared.
Last night was very
boisterous and it has continued stormy all today. Few people to be seen on deck.
Last night and today has been a settler for most of us. I turned decidedly bad
about 3 p.m. and gave my dinner to the fishes. I am now (7o'clock) much better.
Our cabin is now in
a pitiful condition; regrets of leaving home and sundry other lamentations are
very prevalent. It is no pleasant matter to sit vomiting, as I now do, the ship
pitching and rolling furiously, every moment like to be pitched off my seat,
dishes and all sorts of packages rolling about the floor. Pale faced, unshaven
husbands dimly seen moving by the light of our lamp like Spectres, endeavouring
to assist their more helpless wives. One woman lies stretched at the companion
ladder wither she had gone, I presume, to breath some fresh air. Another lies
across the threshold of her berth. Endeavouring to gain her bed she has fallen
and feels content with her position, or unable to rise.
I hear the Irish girl declare it a shame for the Captain to roule
about the ship so.
Besides all these
disagreeable, we have the incessant creaking of the old ship's timber and the
rumbling noise above our heads of ropes and chains which are being dragged about
by the orders of our Commander. Parker has been in bed all day, Fulton since 2
o'clock, Mason is on deck standing it out well. I took no tea tonight, had a
little drop of brandy and a taste of fruit and feel remarkably well over it. I
begin to think I am to get through the ordeal very easy.
A shoal of
porpoises passed us this morning.
A repetition of
yesterday. I feel almost well and am able to lend a helping hand to the
unfortunates around me. Sago, arrowroot, gruel and wines in great demand.
We have still a heavy broken sea, the wind strong, but
still favourable. We have gone 168 miles on our course this last 24 hours. We
have had beautiful sailing weather since we left the Downs. A finer run out of
the Channel could not have been made. 8 days is an average time for ships to
clear it, and three weeks is a common occurrence. We have made it in 3 days.
strong. This day's sailing has averaged 7 ˝ Knots.
am now quite free from sickness. Mr Mason and I have suffered less, to all
appearances, than any of our fellow passengers.
No Service today, a
congregation could not be mustered. Sickness still very prevalent, some very
Sea high and much
broken, which makes the ship to cadge about very much. Caught two good duckings
while looking over the weather side of the ship and had to change from top to
At 4 pm sighted a
Brig bearing down on our course. Up went our Union Jack and the Helm put up so
that we might pass her at speaking distance. In a few moments she hoisted her
colours, "Prussian". None on board seemed capable of understanding us.
On asking where they were bound for they answered "NO."
If they would report us, "No."
My fatigue, or
Service week, commenced yesterday and I am certainly fixed for what will likely
prove to be the most troublesome part of our journey. I have the wants of the
sick people to attend to. Nothing will lie on their weak stomachs. The two
ladies, poor creatures, are certainly very bad. They have not been out of bed
since Friday, but my friend Parker is the most troublesome of any. He is an out
and out Englisher and 'tho I have been supplying him with innumerable delicate
dishes in the shape of Sago, Tapioca, Gruel, Wine, Brandy etc. he declares, when
anyone asks him how he feels, that he is so very weak, and “no wonder”, he
adds, as he has not taken anything since Thursday. He still keeps his bed. I
shall have him hoisted on deck the first good day.
This has been the
most beautiful day. All who were able to lift up their head were prevailed on to
go on deck. Beds and bedding were all hoisted on deck and cabin washed out. I
had our department sprinkled with vinegar, which was a great improvement.
I was very busy the
whole of this day receiving store for one week. Monday is the day set
apart for this purpose. The only articles, of which a daily allowance is
given, are water, meat, bread and potatoes. We have a very nice fellow of
a cook (an old pastry baker from London) who knocks up anything we may require.
Our ship today had
the appearance of a broken state. All sorts of stools and chairs lay about the
deck while from every spare rope dangled blankets and sheets of every size and
quality. I was glad to see, by the afternoon, visible signs of improvement on
our sick companions who had been carried up from their berths. A day or two will
make them alright. I am now in prime order having proved myself a good sailor,
being sick only 4 hours. I had Mr Parker propt up amongst his bedding all day on
top of the Long boat. He thinks he is better but still feels very weak.
It now (8 pm) blows
strong. Still favourable. Main and Fore top Gallant sails now taken down and
Main topsail reefed. It blows fresher tonight than we have yet had it. We must
be going at a rattling speed, the ship lays over very much to the side.
Fine steady wind.
We have been going since last night 10 to 12 knots an hour. Splendid work. We
now ly abreast of Gibraltar. In a day or two, at this rate, we will reach the
N.E. Trades and fine weather. To all appearance we will have a quick passage. At
all events we have had a very fine start.
Had a long yarn
tonight with the Carpenter. He was at Hokeanga 9 months ago, and knows all the
folks there, had also heard of both John and William.
Wind and weather
still continuing to favour us. Last night it blew very strong and the sea ran
very high. Great caution must be observed in such weather how one proceeds along
the decks. It requires great navigation to pick our steps in anything like
steadiness. Long a stream of hungry intrepids hurrying forward to the Galley
from extreme end of the ship, laden with the necessary apparatus in the shape of
tin hook pots, mugs etc. to convey to their cabins the savoury victuals there
awaiting them. Probably a huge dish containing a piece of salt beef, swimming in
pea soup. Now comes the difficulty, for both hands are employed in holding the
rocking compound. Before proceeding the motion of the ship is studied, but while
intent in preserving the level of the soup, the treacherous waters give the ship
such an alive twist that render it quite impossible for the party to retain his
equilibrium. Down he comes, splattering his precious burden about the legs of
the unfortunate before him.
If this wind holds
on we will reach Maderia by Saturday. The Captain says he may ly to, if the
weather permits, to give us a chance of purchasing fruit etc and sending home
The weather now
gets noticeably warmer and light clothing is needed. The evenings are beautiful.
There is no scarcity of amusement for all who feel inclined. Games, dancing,
music, it is all carried on 'til 4 bells (10 o'clock) strike when it is expected
that all will retire for the evening.
Toward 10 o'clock
last night the wind shifted from a fair wind off the port, to a right abaft and
continued to increase in power 'til
about 12 when it blew a regular gale, lifting our Barque almost out of the
water. It carried off our M.T.G. Studding sails. The Mate remarked this morning
that it blew so stiff that he had to get two men to hold his head on.
Today, after a hard
run of 10 hours, we overtook and passed a Dutch Brig bound for Rio Janerio - 13
days from Liverpoole.
A number of the
passengers waited on the Captain today to see if he could, or would, make any
alteration in part of their stores, which they declare, can't be made use of.
They proposed to give all their allowance of salt beef and pork, amounting to
(in a Mess) about 24lbs weekly, for a tin of preserved mutton containing 4lbs.
However, they were told that no substitution of fares could be effected. Our
Mess have entirely discarded the salt meat. It makes us so thirsty, which
doesn't suit on a small allowance of water.
It now (8pm) rains
and the evening must be spent between decks. Two large oil lamps are suspended
over our heads, just sufficient to make darkness visible. Along the tables on
each side are seated parties engaged at various occupations: some at cards, some
at music, others at chess, while a few larger groups are eagerly listening to
wondrous stories from some of Officers of the ship, etc, etc.
Maderia tonight about 7. Did not stop, nor did we have a chance of
sending our letters on shore. This has been a fine, mild day, light breeze
Have had all my
fishing tackle rigged out as I am told we may soon fall in with Spouts. We have
hitherto seen none (with the exception of porpoises) of the inhabitants of the
This afternoon an
accident befell one of our ladies of No 3 berth. She had set herself on a chair
near our cabin hatchway, and had by the motion of the vessel been rocked to
sleep. She might have been wrapt in sound slumber, or dreaming of the bright
future, but certain it is a sudden stop was put to her stolen nap. An extra
heavy lurch of the ship and down the trap stair of the hatch she went, head
foremost, chair and all. Wonderful to relate, she escaped unhurt. However, after
being examined and told all was right, she thought proper to finish it up with a
few good healthy screams when she was ordered to bed.
It has been proposed by some of the young men on board, to establish a newspaper or journal to be published weekly and a notice to the following effect has been circulated throughout the ship:
“Punch on the Atlantic!”
I have no
doubt from the seeming talent on board that this will prove a source of
amusement and instruction.
Sunday, there was a Religious service on board morning and evening, the Captain
conducting assisted by one of the passengers. A band musicale was formed, vocal
and instrumental, with good effect.
Lovely warm day,
fair but very gentle breeze. A change in costume throughout the ship is now
noticeable. Dark, heavy, warm clothing has been laid aside for the more light
and luxurious summer textures.
This morning I
commenced my sunbathing which I intend to continue 'til the end of our voyage. I
arose at about ˝ past 5, roused up
my friend next door, Mr Button and proceeded to the bow of the ship. I had the
most refreshing douche bath from the ship's buckets.
Today I was
tempted, by the beauty of the water which rippled so sweetly past us, to mount
the fore rigging in order to indulge in a more extensive view. However, I was
not suffered to remain long unmolested. My retreat was soon discovered and two
sailors, lashings in hand, were quickly by my side. My arms were pinioned and
made fast to the crosstrees. Here I remained until I promised to pay the fine. I
am now a free man and can tread the hallowed ground at my pleasure.
This has been
another charming day and one of some little note, being none less than our jolly
Captain's birthday. He stood treat to all on board and not a few got sprung over
it. In the evening we had singing, dancing and games.
About midday we
signalled a Portuguese Brig ahead of us. She hove to and awaited our approach.
On nearing her she was observed to launch a boat, so we prepared ourselves for a
visit. The sailors were telling the women that they were pirates coming to
attack us, which put them in no small fright. They were soon alongside and a
suspicious looking, ill clad set they were. One of them could speak bad English
and gave us to understand that they had lost their way, their chronometer having
gone wrong. They had been out 13 days from Madeira and had been knocking about,
not knowing where they were. The Captain ordered them back for their instrument,
set it right for them, gave them a lat. and long, and again set them adrift.
Saturday, 9th November
evening, 'til the present time, have had foul weather - head winds and rains. 4
points off our course. During rains, pails and buckets etc. are placed to catch
as much fresh water as possible. I am told we depend in a great measure for
supply in this way, both for drinking and cooking purposes.
Kept watch 'til
midnight yesterday with the Mate. By a little attention these worthies are all
accessible and a good deal of information in seafaring matters is to be picked
up from them.
Had a long
conversation last night with some of the Poop cabin passengers. Some of the Fore
cabin folks were enjoying the seeming comforts of our more aristocratic friends
but it appears that we have reason to be content with our situation. They
complain sadly of the way their table is served. Their tea is scarcely
drinkable, from the manner it is prepared, being boiled altogether in a large
pot after the fashion of Scotch Kale. They are also obliged to take
whatever is prepared for them. We, on the other hand, have whatever we may fancy
for the trouble of handing the materials to the cook and seeing them prepared.
From what I have
seen, I would advise all intending Emigrants to select their berths in the Fore
cabin but to be sure to put up “extra roomy.” It will cost
them a few pounds more but the comfort it will purchase for them will be very
cheap at the price. A good supply of private stores should also be taken. I will
mention a few articles specially relishable: arrowroot, sago, smoked
bacon, ham, eggs, preserves, a good supply of baking powder, a few cans of
preserved fresh meat, preserved milk, wines and a little whisky, a good supply
of fruit (good apples are the best, these are very refreshing after sickness)
lime juice or raspberry vinegar. (The water is quite unpalatable without
something in it). Other articles may be added for baking purposes. With a good
supply of such articles a long voyage may be made very pleasant.
After sickness the
motion of the ship, "the feet," is not unpleasant. Indeed, I now begin
to like it and to me it is anything but disagreeable to be rocked to sleep in
the cradle of the deep.
Had a visit from
the Doctor. He had heard that I had been distributing some medicine amongst some
of the passengers and requested to know if I had any to spare as he was
run short. A precious Doctor to run out of medicine ere our passage was well
begun! I think very little indeed of this functionary. He has a very
un-gentlemanly address and appears to be inexperienced. He is an Irishman and
means, I believe, to settle in one of the N.Z. settlements. He has got smuggled
out under the Title of "Experienced Surgeon," with free passage.
Should any trouble break out amongst us it will be a bad look out for us.
Meantime, all are
in good health and every precaution is taken to preserve the vessel in a healthy
condition. The upper decks are scrubbed every morning, from stem to stern,
between decks everything must be kept clean, beds aired and in fair weather a
wind sail passed over the fore and main hatches to act as ventilators.
We have reason to
believe that there are some not overly honest individuals on board. We (our
mess) have been missing several articles lately such as knives, spoons, plates
etc. I suspect one chap in the steerage, having found him prowling about our
cabin one evening when all others were on deck. A good example will be made of
the first we can find guilty.
Lat 24° 23 N. Long
20° 43 W.
Yesterday was a melting day. Service morning and evening. About midday the wind
veered round to the N.E. and we are dashing along merrily.
Punch made his opening address this morning.
The following are a few extracts from it:
An old wife recommends the following to the attention of all:
I can't do it
- never did anything
I will try
- has worked wonders
I will do it
- has performed miracles
Dear Mr Punch,
I heres from sum of my pals as your agoin to start a punch at see. Now Sir, with all proper respect for you, I thinks as how sich a thing aint at all rite an reglar, no body never heered or seed of a newspaper afloat, besides hows dicerplin to be kep up on board a ship where there's a paper. If you interfers, with one thing you will with another the sum day, "for there's no noing sum folks cheek."
You will take upon
yerslf to criticise our seamanship, so you see Mr Punch that ere sort o thing
won't never do no how and I hopes as how our skippers too good a sailor to put
up with any sich inervations a board his craft.
man at the wheel".
Mark Lame Express
dear, great demand
Plaster of Paris
- market over stocked
Plum & other
doughs - dear and scarce
didn’t go off well
Lost, stolen or strayed, a young lady’s heart. Was last seen on the Poop deck. Anyone finding the same will be liberally rewarded upon returning it to the owner, or (if a Gentleman) perhaps an exchange can be effected.
The North East
Trades. They must be somewhere in the neighbourhood and
any one delivering the same on board the Kate Forbes will be rewarded.
Births - In the Captains cabin, a male child, mother unknown.
- In the Doctor's cabin sundry Eggs.
Deaths - 2 pigs, 12 fowls and
sundry smaller animals
We fancy we have
now caught the N.E. Trades. It blows light but steady. Thermometer 79° in the shade. The evenings are now beautiful, so clear
as to enable us with perfect ease to read or write. We are now in the tropics
going a missing from our cabin. I wrote out the following for Punch:
A Voice from the Fore
When and oh where have our knives and tin plates gone?? Within the last few days several indispensible articles of the above description (not withstanding our utmost care to prevent it) have shown a decided disposition for roving - many of these knives have actually cut their sticks. We suspect they have been influenced in their movements by their contact with the forks of some neighbours to whose nocturnal visits we attribute our being left thus - unfairly dished. We would advise all such poachers for the future to "Beware the dog !"
Bugs have been
discovered in most parts of the ship. They seem to be worse in the Chief cabin,
they are also in our cabin. Our berth and No 9 are the only exception. We have
several families of cockroaches about us and the seamen tell me that where these
are found bugs don't live, so we keep up the breed of the larger insects, which
don't annoy us as much.
We have had a
little excitement on board today. Three of the Chief Cabin passengers told the
2nd mate that they were half starved in their cabin and wished they could have
something to eat (this was shortly after dinner). They were invited down to our
cabin where the Carpenter, 2nd and 3rd Mates have their berths, where they made
themselves hearty. The effect of their visit was that the three Officers above
named were rendered nearly unfit for duty. The passengers were reprimanded by
the Captain who told them that they would be severely punished if again found
guilty and that they had no right whatever in our cabin.
this, a nice mince pie was stolen out of our cabin and the Captain being at hand
was advised of the circumstances. Many now came forward, each with his story of
woe. However, nothing could be made out of it. No one had seen the thief or
thieves in the act. However, the Captain says that he will find it
out. He will have some new regulations drawn up for us tomorrow.
We had some rockets
and other fireworks on board tonight which had the most beautiful effect on the
This morning came
in sight of St. Antonia, one of the Cape Verdi group of islands. We were in
hopes of being able to reach it in time this afternoon to land with letters and
make purchases. The Captain had kindly promised to buy for us anything that the
island produced and a long list was soon made up chiefly composed of grapes,
oranges, lemons, pumpkins, melons, figs and apples. A few ordered eggs and
bread, live goats, and turkeys and two were down for monkeys. However, the
Captain was saved his trouble and we our money merely thro' the agency of the
wind. We had it blowing fresh and favourable in the early part of the day but
just as we had gained within 3 or 4 miles of it and were employed in
endeavouring to trace out with our glasses the loaded orchards etc. it suddenly
fell and what was worse soon afterwards veered around and blew us out of the
reach of all the tempting victuals on which our fancy had been luxuriating. This
is the second time we have been disappointed in making land. Not that we have
any necessity for touching at any island but merely to give us a chance of
sending home letters to our friends and procuring of the delicious products of
the tropics. We have still hopes of making some of this group of islands.
Antonia has a very
striking appearance. It is but a small speck in the water but rises to an
enormous height. Great piles of jutting rock rise nearly perpendicular from the
dashing waters which wash its base. Great chasms, vents and gullies are open to
view in every direction.
it was the greatest mass of terrific grandeur I have ever seen. I understand
that in the valleys only are to be found traces of life and vegetation.
Mo nday 17th
Have had light and
variable winds this last two days. The sailors say it is always so in the
vicinity of the Cape Verdi Islands. However, we have now bid them goodbye and
are dashing forward on our course 8 - 10 knots an hour.
Yesterday we came
abreast of other two of the islands, Bravo and St. Jago. We were quite close to
the former at midday and hailed a fishing boat but they either did not care
about us, or were too intent on pursuing their vocation, as they would not come
alongside. We could not land, as the coast was so rugged.
It was just such another spot as St Antonia with this difference, that
Bravo seemed to be better cultivated. With the aid of a telescope we could
distinctly observe the plantations and dwellings of the inhabitants.
While lying off the
island we were favoured with a visit from three monsters of sharks. Hooks,
baited with pork, were speedily at their service but they were not to be drawn.
They were evidently in clover as the waters about were boiling with fish on
which they fed.
The weather is now
oppressively hot, it is painful to move about during the day. We are roasted and
at night stew in our berths. A great many of the passengers are ailing, not
seriously, but of those derangement's consequent on change of living and
climate. In our cabin we have the prickly heat, boils, headache,
heat burns etc. I am quite well. I took the precaution to partake liberally of
Physics the first week I came on board.
day. Fine steady wind from noon of yesterday 'til noon of today. We have gone
over 200 miles on our course. We are now steering nearly due south. If this wind
holds on we will cross The Line on Saturday or Sunday.
Tried dolphin and
albacore today but they would not take. There has not been a single fish caught
since we left.
The days now seem
to pass over more heavily. We attribute this to the great heat to which we are
now exposed. Every spark of spirit and animation seem to evaporate before the
powerful rays of the Sol. To read continuously for ˝ an hour is a heavy task.
Fine clear day,
very warm. I find I can no longer bare the heat of the confined cabin at night.
Our rest is quite un-refreshing. Instead of rising vigorous, I can scarcely move
up the hatchway and it is only after my morning ablutions (6 or 8 buckets of
salt water) that I can exert myself to do anything. Numbers now sleep on deck,
altho' the Doctor declares it to be quite injurious. However, this worthy advice
is not in the slightest cared for. We act on our own responsibility.
I have been busy
today, washing up a few odd things. We dirty very few articles on board ship.
We are this day N
lat 9°. Light but steady breeze.
Calm and squalls
alternately thro' out this day, accompanied by very heavy rains, thunder and
lightening. The lightening is beautifully vivid and of considerable duration,
lightening up for a few seconds the dark, troubled ocean for miles around.
Most of the
passengers are below and hatches down which creates a stifling heat. While I
write, Mrs Pratt, our opposite neighbour, has gone into hysterics.
Our cabin presents
a scene of great disaster and confusion. I had intended to make my bed tonight,
as I did last evening, in front of my cabin but outside right under the hatch
but the heavy rain has rendered it impossible. The between decks are soaking
wet, so I must again go under the seething process in our ovens of cabins.
Last night, or
rather early this morning, we were all alarmed by cries of danger from the
Watch. I had lain down to sleep in the passage in front of my berth when I was
startled from my slumbers by the shouts of the seamen. I listened for a moment,
but only a moment, for the nature of the sounds implied immanent danger.
hard up, hard up. Ship ahoy. Ship ahoy.”
I seized my life
preserver and rushed up stairs. I was the first on deck. The cause of our danger
was a black, suspicious looking Brig within a few feet of our weather bow. I was
quite prepared for a collision, for she seemed not to heed us. Providentially,
however, we weathered her and diverted her astern and it is the Captain's belief
she is a Slaver and that her Watch was asleep.
I have been busy
today, preparing a Bathing Establishment for the ladies on board. It will be in
operation tomorrow. Passed two homeward bound Frenchmen today. Spoke the first
bound to a port, she promised to report us. We have not yet had the good fortune
to meet an English homeward bound vessel altho' we have been, for the last 14
days, in the most likely latitudes for meeting them. We have letters prepared,
to send home.
weather yesterday and today. We have had a succession of calms, squalls and head
winds. At one time we have an unclouded sky and scarcely a breath of wind, the
passengers again mounted on deck. Bedding and other articles have just been hung
up to air when dark, pretentious masses of clouds rise rapidly to evidence the
approaching squall distinctly visible, miles off. Down comes our Mizzen,
Studding, Fore and Main Royale and Top Gallant sails, the bed clothes disappear,
passengers take shelter between decks or under the large sheets of canvas spread
out for an awning. The preparations are scarcely completed ere the ferocious
blast has reached us, accompanied by such heavy rains as are only to be found in
It is a
comparatively easy task to prepare to meet these sudden changes during daylight
but after sunset, when darkness sets in, more caution is necessary to prevent
disaster. Last evening about 8 we were unexpectedly caught, tho' not altogether
unprepared (for our Captain is both a cautious and skilful seaman) still
sufficiently so to create confusion. The sailors told me this morning that it
was with great difficulty they could reef the Top sails, it blew so strong. When
the storm first caught us it sent our Barque nearly on her beam end and it was
only after the above sails were taken in that she returned a tolerably
comfortable position. During this gale the rain fell in almost solid sheets
which rushing down our hatchway, despite our canvas covering, kept us all
mopping it up to prevent it flooding our berths.
Yesterday, I again
tried the fishing and was successful in capturing two fish, one Albacore and one
Bonito, the only two fish caught yet (altho' there have been numbers trying them
for 10 days back.) The first fish we had prepared for dinner today. It was much
liked by all. The second, weighing about 10lbs, I got prepared for the Captain's
We have made but
little progress since Wednesday. I believe we are now 5° north of the Line.
Sunday 23rd November, 1851
Last night, about
10, the rain fell in torrents rushing down our hatchway. It was discovered that
the tarpaulin, which covers the hold under our hatch, had been removed and that
the wet was finding it's way down amongst the goods. A row amongst the
passengers was the consequence. The Officers of the ship were in great wrath
about it. After a great deal of
angry contention the blame was found attributable to two individuals in my mess
- Messrs. Parker and Patterson. It seemed that during the day it had, by
accident, got soiled and the above parties had taken it on deck to have it
cleaned (it is against the rules to remove it) and had neglected to bring it
We have had a
number of petty annoyances and disagreements lately throughout the whole ship.
It is a pity, as it mars the general harmony so essential to the comfort and
happiness of all but it is only another proof of the weakness and short
sightedness of man. Even in my own mess of only 8 individuals it has been found
necessary to make new arrangements to secure quiet. Parties, from whom I would
have expected a greater amount of prudence and honourable dealing, have been
amongst the first to act the vain and jealous dissemblers. However, we must take
matters as we find them. Better luck next time. There may be and no doubt
there is, errors on both (or all) sides and any bad feeling that may have shown
it's self amongst us is mainly traceable to our own inexperience.
It requires great
prudence and discretion to enable oneself to be at once agreeable and
independent amongst so many and so far as I can judge, travelling is the very
best school for learning how we ought to conduct ourselves. A degree of
selfishness (not the mean, low, sordid, narrow mindedness which the word
generally implies) is absolutely required in mixing with strangers, especially
when there is a probability (as in my present case) of being necessitated to
hold daily intercourse with them. I trust we may have no more disagreements and
that we may all see the advantage of striving to maintain the general union.
We had a Religious
service this morning at 11. The weather was too boisterous to admit of our
mustering in the evening.
weather has been since last night, unsettled. We are sailing 4 points off our
course. The N.E. Trades have been of very little use to us as yet. Indeed we may
say that we have never got them.
N. Lat 4
15° Long 22° 9 W.
This has been a
more settled day, the wind steady from the S.E. This may be the first of the
S.E. Trades. They are frequently caught as far north as we are now in.
Two classes have
been instituted amongst the Fore and Chief Cabin passengers, one for the study
of the French language, the other for music. They may serve to revive our lost
ideas on these subjects.
Mr Yates and I have
sent to the Chief Cabin a challenge to play them a friendly game of Chess. They
muster strong in the C. Cabin. In our end there is only Mr Y. [Yates] and myself
who know anything of the game.
There seems to be
some misunderstanding between the members of our cabin and those of the Poop
Deck. There has been a mutual dryness discernible between us since we sailed. We
now think that our worthy Doctor is the person chiefly we have to thank for this
state of matters. He is often entrusted with any necessary communications
passing between us (verbal) and unfortunately (as we have discovered) taken upon
himself to add to, or take from, the spirit of said messages. He may have done
so without evil design and in a thoughtless manner. At all events, offence was
taken on both sides. It is doubtful if they will accept our challenge but we are
anxious to show them that we wish to be friendly.
fine, steady breeze from the S.E. Our sailing today has averaged about 8 miles
per hour. At noon today we were 2 degrees north of the Line so we may calculate
on crossing it tomorrow.
The Poop Cabin have
accepted our challenge. We tossed for the choice of men and move. The Poop
gained the toss, which is so much in their favour. Four moves are to be played
each day until it's termination.
All beds and
bedding turned on deck today for airing.
This morning, I was
horrified to learn that the vermin was on the increase. Bugs are thriving but
what is worse, lice have made their appearance amongst us. The two or three
berths next to the Steerage have made this discovery. The Doctor was immediately
made acquainted with this state of matters and has ordered that all the Steerage
passengers must bathe themselves regularly etc etc. My berth is the only one in
the Cabin exempt from bugs.
Their progress has
been traced from berths number 7, passing along on the larboard side to the
Steerage, crossing over to the starboard, visiting and abiding in all the berths
from 11 on to the Poop. Why we, No. 4, have been neglected by them, we cannot
account especially as we have the most confined and worst ventilated berth in
the whole ship. Perhaps they find themselves more at home in company with the English
and Irish. Ours is the only Scotch berth amongst us.
Fine day, light
wind. We expect to cross the line tomorrow. A subscription for the benefit of
the sailors was got up amongst us today. It amounts to Three pounds eleven
shillings and six pence. We expect some amusement but am not yet certain the
seamen have been informed of the sum collected for them. They anticipate a
jollification but from what I can learn, they will only be allowed such quantity
at one time as will prevent them from getting tipsy.
Light breezes. At
12 o'clock we were 65 miles from the equator and have made little progress
The first efforts
of our liberality to the sailors manifested themselves today. The Captain had
sent forward their first supply - two bottles, in return for which they send
their respects to their Commander requesting a more suitable quantity of
Spirits. That it was men and not boys that he had in the Fore Castle. (There are
16 of a crew). To this modest demand the Captain paid no heed. The consequence
was a determination of the men to have either something or nothing
and would not tackle the drink.
The two cooks,
however, were not of the same opinion for having got their hands on the articles
of dispute made it very speedily disappear. It might have been from a strong
personal liking for a drop, or in order to give their messmates a staggering
proof of the Captain's foresight in prescribing a limited quantity for the
Forecastle. [As] it is they were soon in such a state of excitement that they
began to use very abusive language to passengers, Captain and all who came in
their way. The Mate tells me that such is the conduct they might look for from
all the men if they did not use very strict measures with them.
Towards evening the
Captain ordered two of the oldest hands and to all appearances the most sedate
and sensible, forward. Told them that he had, thro' the kindness of the
passengers, received of an amount of money to be expended by him for their
benefit in the shape of grog in such quantities as he might think proper.
He warned them against unruly conduct and told them that the first seen tipsy
could forget his share in future, and finally gave them another two bottles.
Two hours after this these two worthys were to be seen in a similar
position to the Cooks. Very likely they had kept an extra bottle for themselves,
serving out and sharing one with the others.
crossed the Line yesterday morning about 8 o'clock. With a fair wind from the
S.E. we are now in the Trades and fine, refreshing breezes they are. The heat
would be quite overpowering without their invigorating influence.
We have now
completed 6 weeks at sea and must say that we have been singularly fortunate in
the weather. With the exception of a very few days and evenings, we have
had a continuation of as charmingly, lovely weather as the most extravagant
desire might wish for.
The sun is now
almost vertical and the heat at noonday intense. We have awnings stretched
across both decks under which we retire for shelter.
beautifully appropriate are the words of Thomson:
'Tis raging noon; and, vertical the
Darts on the head direct his forceful
O'er heaven and earth, far as the
Can sweep, a dazzling deluge reins;
From pole to pole is undistinguish'd
All- conquering Heat, oh intermit thy
And on my throbbing temples potent
Beam not so fierce!
Broad brimmed straw
hats are now generally worn with the light clothing.
We have just
finished a game of draughts with the C. & Poop cabins. Three individuals
were selected from each party. Out of our cabin the following were chosen:
Messrs. Mason, Fulton & myself, all Scotchmen. Our opponents being English
the game had double intent. Three games were played by each individual. At the
termination it stood thus:
Scotch - 6
English - 3
The chess is
progressing favourably. There are a few bets taken on it, no decided advantage
has been gained by either party yet.
Lovely day with
fine steady wind.
Service, twice, on
deck. It was proposed to have one weekly religious service, say Wednesday or
Thursday and I hope the passengers will all be favourable to such an
Monday December 1st, 1851
Punch out this
morning, as usual. The following are few extracts:
Answer to the advertisement in last week's papa,
"Wanted a wife."
Mr Punch, having
seen an advertisement in your paper, "Wanted a wife," I feel qualified
to answer the same. I am sure the
description I will give of myself must in every way meet the views of the
advertiser. As no address is given I must request of you Mr Punch to forward my
answer to the nice young man. Oh! what a duck he is.
1st Beauty: Red hair, turned up nose and cat's eyes with an expressive
squint. Mouth from ear to ear and a set of perfect teeth of ebony hue. Tawny
complection, stature 6ft 10". Remarkably slender figure, measuring from 30
to 36 inches round the waist. Splay footed, hands fitted to fill a gentleman’s
modest sized glove. Meek, gentle and mild so long as I have my own way. As
reguards to cleanliness - do not consider it necessary to wash oftener than once
a week. Neatness consists of having hooks and eyes constantly off my
dress, shoes down at heel and curl papers every day but on Sunday. Decidedly courageous, as I could not
bear to be left in the dark. Highly accomplished I can play the Jew's
harp and my voice far surpasses the notes of a screech owl. Drawing I have a
decided taste for. Can sketch my own portrait beautifully, dance like a bear,
can speak all languages fluently as my own. Having been accustomed to my own
carriage I scorn housekeeping as only fit for menials. With regard to buying and
selling, I can decidedly take care of No. 1 but as for anything else I think
them quite out of place in a lady.
Consideration to Love, honour and obey I can't say much about but in
regard to the latter should certainly expect to be obeyed. Say, kind Sir, don't
you think I would in every way suit your views as I am certain a perfect
model of a wife is not to be found on board the Katharine Stewart Forbes.
As for marriage,
the old batchelor may appear to some the pink of procrastination but it is not
so, and for the self same reason that procrastination rarely defers it's
pleasures he remains one. Not because he has been procrastinating with marriage
and postponing the happy day until it can never occur but because he has been
too eager in his efforts to cast off his Batchelorship. He is a batchelor not
because he delays his offers too long but because he has made twenty that [were]
never even accepted.
Who does not know
that every batchelor of fifty has been refused at least five times? He has seen
a fascinator of 12, an enchantress of twenty, an angel of twenty three, a
goddess under thirty, has a divinity of fat fair and something else and to each
has he opened his mouth almost as soon as he has opened his eyes.
modestly assumed that there was a heart to let for a single gentleman furbished
and of course he had a decided "No" from the lady's lips which was the
equivalent to the door being slammed in his face and a glance of scorn from the
fair eyes over which the soft lids dropped in distain.
No, no, never
consider the old bachelor has been a procrastinator. It were a culpable excess
of charity to reguard him as a hanger on upon providence, a loiter on the
wayside of life. Call him one of the odds and ends of humanity, the fossil
remains of an animal happily extinct, a scrap of waste clay set walking. Say all
this and in most instances it will be gross flattery. It is not that he has not
the courage to "pop the question " it is that he never had the
mingled wit and modesty to "pop" it properly.
A large reward will
be given to anyone who can clear out and keep out those minute and obnoxious
insects lately discovered on board and which are as disagreeable to the feelings
as obnoxious to the sight.
A liberal reward
will be payed to any person who will prevent the juveniles of this ship from
kicking up such a continual row or if such cannot be done the advertiser
empowers Mr Punch to reward any individual who will (accidentally of
course) drop one or two of these squallers over board.
The wind has veered
round a little now to the east which gives us our proper course. We are now
sailing due south or S. by ˝ E We are now in S. lat 10
W. long 30
This last weeks
sailing has been the best we have yet had. The Mate tells me we are three weeks
ahead of her last trip from London out.
I have been having
a lesson in baking today both plain and fancy. We have greater privileges than
the Poop Cabin in our culinary department, which is a matter of great moment on
Oh what a row what a rumpus and a rioting
A ship is a thing you can never be quiet in.
We have had a regular squall in
our cabin from the female portion - the Irish against the English. They were
well matched and the storm continued for about 2 or 3 hours until it was found
necessary to call in the Doctor and the Captain. It originated in one of the
English girls insinuating that we were indebted for the vermin about the cabin
to the dirty habits of the Irish women. How far this may be true I know not but
certain it was met not only with a flat denial but also a similar charge against
their accusers. I keep on good terms with them all and
get on very well.
Music class today.
Have got up a Glee and chorus party, which helps to pass the time pleasantly.
We had a thorough
cleaning out 'tween decks today. It had much need of it. In such hot weather
anything approaching to filth renders the atmosphere very disagreeable and
Our course today is
S. by one point East. Light winds.
Had a bath before
turning in at night, it is so refreshing.
Spoke [with] an English barque from Newport. She left 4 days before us. It is
very singular that we have met with no homeward bounders. We are now wearing out
the track for them.
Some of the passengers not being pleased with the arrangements for dinner we have had a fresh weekly bill of fare drawn out to the following effect.
meat, potatoes, pudding
soup, potatoes, salt beef
potatoes, salt pork
soup and boulli pot
soup, pot. salt beef
pot. salt pork
pot. salt pork
In reguards to breakfast and tea everyone has
what he likes best.
A very disagreeable day, wet and stormy, the
ship rolling about very much.
Just such a day as
yesterday. Such weather is very unpleasant on board ship. One cannot remain on
deck without getting drenched with the rain and spray. The ship has rocked like
a cradle the whole day. It is now about 8 o'clock tho' light rain abaft and
heavy swell. The rain falls in almost constant sheets flooding our cabin. I am
sitting in a puddle of water in a very ventilated atmosphere. Nearly all the
passengers have come 'tween decks from the rain.
It is quite
impossible at this moment to describe the appearance of our cabin. Some are
trying to wile away the time in singing, others are quarrelling (a not uncommon
occurrence). Others more studious are reading. Three individuals along side of
me are retracing our progress on the chart and find that we are near St. Helena.
A group of four at the other end of the cabin are luxuriating in Ale and Porter
for which they have been playing at whist.
I have just been
assisting Mr Mason to bathe the hands and face of one of the Irish girls who has
fainted from the heat. Poor thing, she looks very poorly. I was writing about
how we were employed. Some of the ladies are getting sick from the very peculiar
motion of the ship. Some are stretched asleep on the table floor, others
preparing for bed. Ceremony is now at a very low ebb. Etiquette would not live
I have just been
requested to play a game of Chess so will close for the night.
This morning I
resume my duties of Mess Man and have been closely employed all day. This is the
grand weekly cleaning out day. All beds, boxes and other movables
are put on deck, the floor and berths washed and scrubbed and the hatchway
scraped. Then comes the baking etc. So, altogether, Saturday is a busy day with
us. The wind blows fair but light.
Tried the fishing
but without success. I had a very narrow escape from becoming a bait for the
sharks. I had to go forward to the Flying Jib end for my line. I should have put
off my boots before going up but forgot. The consequence was that going along
the Lifeline at the Jib end my feet slipt and left me dangling to the Boom.
Fortunately I managed to gain my footing again. We have seen very few fish, the
only take we have had were those I got about three weeks ago.
Still wet and
squally. Wind from the S.E.
forenoon in the Cuddy.
This I think has
been the roughest day we have experienced. One half of the sails are taken in.
The only consolation we have now is that we make good way. Our
sailing today will average 8 knots.
from "Punch on the Atlantic."
On The Choice Of A Wife.
Enough of Beauty to secure affection
Enough of Sprightliness to cause
Of modest diffidence to claim
A docile mind subservient to
Yet stored with sense, with reason and
And every passion held in due
Just faults enough to keep her from
When such I find I’ll make
her my selection.
On The Choice of a Husband.
Of Beauty, just enough to bear
Of Candour, Sense and Wit a good
Enough of Love for one who needs
To scorn the words, "I'll keep
her in subjection."
Wisdom to keep him right in each
Now calm a weaker vessel's
Should I ere meet with such in my
Let him propose - I'll offer no
Hints on Marriage
Young man - if you
have arrived at the right point for it, let every other consideration give way
to it. Don't think of doing anything else. Keep poking about the rubbish of the
world 'til you have stirred up a gem worth possessing in the shape of a wife.
Never think of delaying the matter, for you know delay is dangerous. A good wife
is the most constant and faithful companion you can have by your side. She can
smooth your linen and cares for you, mend your trousers and perchance your
manners, sweeten your home as well as your tea or coffee, ruffle your shirt
bosom but never your temple. Yes and if you are too lazy or too proud to do such
work yourself, she will chop wood and dig potatoes for dinner. Her love for her
husband is such that she will do anything to please him, except to receiving
visitors in everyday clothes. When a woman loves she loves with a double
devotedness and when she hates she hates on the high passion principle. Deep as
the ocean is her love and immutable as the rock of ages. Get married by all
means. All the excuses you can fish up ain't worth a spoonful of pigeons milk.
Get married I repeat young man! Concentrate your affections upon one object, not
distribute them crumb by crumb on Elisas, Marys, Janes, Betsys, Jessies, Susans
and Harriets allowing each scarcely enough to nibble at. Get married and have
somebody to cheer you as you journey 'thro this "Lowly vale of tears."
Killarney - Jane O'Foggerty. She had in her arms two babies and a Guernsey cow,
all black with red hair and tortoise shell combs behind her ears and large brown
spots all down her back which squints awfully.
S.E. winds since
Sunday. Nothing of any importance to relate. We have now a vertical sun but it
does not feel so oppressively warm as we experienced three weeks ago. We are
getting used to it.
accompanied with showers.
The passengers seem
all of a sudden to have taken a very industrious turn of mind. In fair weather
during the day the deck presents a very animated appearance. We have joiners,
tinkers, model ship builders, shoemakers, cap makers, tailors, dressmakers etc.
etc. It is quite impossible to describe the scene and the babble of sounds to
which we are subjected during some parts of the day.
Besides the varied
and dinning noise of upwards of 20 Amateur Mechanics we have musical efforts of
Violinists, Bugle players, Accordions etc.
I have just
finished a pair of canvas slippers for deck wear, leather soles with canvas
covers. A very creditable production for a first attempt.
A great portion of
the ship's stores has been hoisted on deck and overhauled, fears being
entertained that some part had got damaged. Unfortunately, it turned out as
suspected. Upwards of 40 tins of preserved meats with large quantities of
potatoes and bread had to be thrown overboard. The reserved stock of Emigrants
clothing was also hoisted up and placed at the command of the respective owner.
Every article of clothing was more or less affected by damp. Boots were the
worst, they were entirely covered outside and in with a thick coating of green
mould. Every article of dress etc. not wanted on
the voyage should be soldered up in
Monday 15th December
Head winds, sailing
4 points off our course making little progress. We should have been at the Cape
'ere this broken weather. The sailors say our fine days will now be few. There
seems to be a better feeling now existing amongst the passengers again. I think
it will be now kept up thro' out the remainder of our voyage.
Punch has breathed
his last and no longer exists amongst us. The atmosphere of the Atlantic has
proved too strong for him.
about under head winds. I despair now of making a quick passage. I anticipate
over 4 months. I wish it even over.
Calm morning, light
breeze. Steering S.S.E. Two points off our course. We have been driven westward
many degrees off our proper line of sailing and altho' we are now within 250
miles of the latitude of the Cape. We have to make of longitude over 2000 miles.
Towards noon the
wind veered round favourably and up went the Stun' sails but it only lasted a
few hours. It is now (9 pm) calm.
Rose at 6 and had
my bath. A most lovely morning. We had heavy rains last night, which laid the
waters, it was as smooth as a mirror. This state of matters continued nearly all
day, the heat very great.
About 6, while we
were preparing for tea, a very sudden change overtook us. Dense black masses of
clouds sprung up ahead of us. All hands called on deck. Down came the sails as
quick as our Jolly Tars could pull them in. Reefers were dispatched aloft to
secure the canvas to the yards etc.
It is a beautiful
sight to watch the approach of a storm at sea. After bearing a hand to secure
our hatchway I posted myself undercover at the bulwarks to observe the effects
of the "black squall" as it is termed. Previous to the gale we were
steering S.E. but the storm approaching from that point soon turned our head
N.E. The wind gradually increased until it reached its climax, which it did in
about 10 minutes. The rain fell profusely. The appearance on board at this time
was very exciting. We still carried too much canvas under the pressure of which
the ship laboured heavily and lying over so much that I could almost touch the
foaming billows with my hand.
One of the
Studdingsails got loose and went flapping in the gale with thunderous noise.
Volunteers from the passengers were ordered to give a hand to take in the sail.
All was noise and confusion, the noise of the tempest almost drowning the trumpet
tones of our Captain. Add to this the cries of frightened women and children,
the incessant beating of heavy rains, the hissing voice of the sea as it breaks
over us and you may gather a slight idea of our position.
The storm still
continues. It is now about 10 o'clock bed time. The evening has been spent below
in singing, reading, gaming etc. etc. I tried to copy a piece of music but found
the motion of the ship would not permit.
It is anything but
pleasant to pass our evening 'tween decks, it is so close and noisy, but it is
astonishing how soon we get inured to circumstances. We will have a husband
employed in bathing the brow or applying other restoratives to his fainting wife
while along side of them stand or sit a group of musicians lustily employed in
singing the Witches Glee. Alongside of me, while now writing, lies a lady
powerless with sickness while her husband sits indifferently by her engaged in a
game of Draughts. Children may shout and squall close to the side of the
studious reader, the sick may vomit at the feet of a supper party and many other
seeming inexcusables, without
causing the slightest inconvenience to the feelings.
We had another
breach of the peace in our Mess today. One of our party unfortunately possesses,
for his own comfort, an inordinate amount of self-esteem. It renders him in a
great measure unfit for the duties which must fall to his lot while roughing it,
as all must do more or less, who chose to emigrate. He has rendered himself
obnoxious to many by his disgusting pride and the assumptive tone of all his
proceedings. It is essentially necessary on board ship to pay strict attention
to cleanliness and order. And in order to meet these views our Mess has arranged
to take in turn the duty of keeping our place in a clean and healthy condition.
One portion of the
work and perhaps the most disagreeable, is the scrubbing of the cabin floor
opposite and inside our berths. All passengers, more especially Steerage and
Fore cabin, must come under obligations of this nature and it forms an important
part of a Captains duty to see that the printed regulations "by
Parliament" for the preservation of health and order on board Emigrant
ships are strictly enforced.
however, fancies that neither Captain nor Parliament had a right to order him
and yesterday, when it came to his turn [for] such work, he would only do what
he liked. He would not stoop to be ordered by anyone. On our remonstrating with
him he said we might send the Captain to him if we liked and he would let him
know who he was upon whom he would attempt to levy his
dirty work. We must just bare with him; he is to be pitied. He takes a very
wrong way of supporting his dignity. [Fulton]
I think the Mess I
belong to comprises the strangest mixture of characters on board. Beside the one
just alluded to we have an antiquated little codger, an English farmer and Land
Prospector who's desire for wealth seems to have grown with the years. He is
over 65 years of age and proceeds to N.Z. in hope of securing the effects of a
He is a bit of an
epicure and feels rather from home on board ship. The only
consolation he now has is in speaking of the rare dishes he used to have.
Speak to him of the leg of a fine, fat sheep,
stuffed bullocks heart etc. and his eye sparkles at the thought
and his tongue rolls in his mouth with eager anticipation. Not withstanding the
poor fare to which he is now subjected, he is assuming Aldermanic proportions. I
know a great difference on him 'tho he declares he is fully a stone lighter. He
seems to be quite ignorant of the keen appetite he now possesses and the justice
he does to it, for in reality he believes he takes nothing, whereas he eats more
than any two of us.
He has been in the
habit of complaining to the Doctor of weakness (for want of food) and has
succeeded in gaining his sympathy in the shape of supplies of sago, arrowroot,
etc. However, the Doctor has found him out. He suspected him and kept his eye on
him for a day or two and our little guzzler was not a little surprised, at his
next application for something nourishing, when told to live more
moderately, to eat less pork, fat and fewer dumplings.
He is very
industrious, though the objects of his labour and study are few, they may be
reckoned as four. viz : eating, smoking, patching up old clothes and sleeping.
On a fine day he is sure to be seen mounted on the top of the Longboat most
assiduously employed in vainly endeavouring to make 15 to 20 year old coats,
pants etc appear as new and modern. Altogether he is an original character and
fit for the pen of a "Dickens." [Mr Parker]
Third on the list
comes a countryman of my own, a canny Scotchman. He says very little but
certainly does far less. His dialect is very broad, quite incomprehensible to
the English and often puzzling to myself. He was of ponderous dimensions when he
came on board but has got a good sweat down since. He would require to throw off
a stone or two yet ere he could claim to genteelity. Just fancy my worthy
countryman on all fours scooving
the floor, puffing and blowing like a porpoise, resting every now and then to
draw breath or take a waght
o ' yill for which he seems to have partiality. He is
quite the reverse in character and disposition to the pretender first described.
He is of a quiet, unassuming nature and very obliging. He is generally to be
found on deck quietly dodging about humming " Maggy
Lander, When the Kye Come Hame" or such like old Scotch aires. He is
fond of a game of draughts and always open for a game for a bottle of ale. This
party is possessed of considerable "means" and travels on pleasure. He
goes to NZ. merely to see the country. [Mr Mason]
'Tis getting late
so must to bed, will finish the remainder of my mess tomorrow. The storm has
Bath as usual. The
water was very cold this morning but very bracing.
The wind has
continued fresh all day. The sea runs very high, the ship heaving most
beautifully. One or two of the ladies got sick over it.
Porpoise fishing - two even struck but both got off.
Steering S.E. by S.
The individuals in
my Mess not yet mentioned are 2 married couples. One of the pairs seems to be
badly matched in almost every respect. They got married just before coming on
board. The Gent is of spare build but gigantic stature, his ladylove, on the
other hand is of unusually small dimensions and in point of temper, taste etc.
there exists even a greater dissimilarity. The Gent possesses a peculiar tone of
voice, hash, rasping a strong burr of the well-known New Castle dialect.
This pair furbishes us with occasional glances of the lights and shades of
married life. [Mr and Mrs Patterson]
The other pair I
cannot well describe. They are young and thoughtless. The husband is a complete
ninny and his wife a flirt. She is the talk of all the ship. Her behaviour is
very unbecoming of the married life. The only thing she seems good for is baking
tarts, puddings etc. and making a fool of her husband. [Mr and Mrs Button.]
Such is the little
party with whom I mess. No wonder that union and harmony should now and then be
chased from such a happy family.
Firm, stiff breeze
going S.S.E. The weather feels now much colder.
A number of
Albatross were seen today. We tried them both with shots and bait without
Diary part 2