Life in Feejee, or, Five Years among the Cannibals
The Ordeal—Our Departure for Manilla—Arrival—Christmas in Manilla-Execution —A Procession—Cemetery—Departure for America—St. Helena —Arrival at Home.
This morning I heard some native chanting, and inquired of a servant the meaning of it. She said that the heathen men before mentioned had returned the night before from fighting, and the chant was one that is used when warriors have been successful in procuring dead bodies. It was called the song of Mbokola. Mrs. Hunt observed that they would scarcely dare to bring a dead body here; perhaps they had killed some, and were on their way to wash their clubs, —a ceremony that is always performed after a battle, although it was not common for that song to be chanted except when they were dragging a dead body.
I went to "sara sara," taking two of the servants with me. On reaching the footpath, we observed ten men approaching; seven of them were of Vewa,. and the others were strangers, who had accompanied them home. Their clubs were on their shoulders, and they continued their death song, which was a repetition of half a dozen words, ending in a sort of yell. When they saw us standing in the pathway, they called to us to go back, and waited till we had retreated. After they had turned off into another path, leading to an uninhabited part of the island, we followed, as I was desirous of witnessing the ceremonies in which they were about to engage. The demons, however, soon observed us, and said that we must return, as it was "tambu "for us to follow.
A few days since, Thakombau presented Mr, W, with page 287a young cow. He dined yesterday on board the bark, and was offered some beef soup. He declined tasting it, saying that the cow was born at Bau,—he had seen her walking about and eating the grass of the island, and he loved her; therefore, he could not eat a portion of her body.
A sad and yet a joyful day to me,—sad on account of taking leave of my dear Vewa friends; and joyful that we were about to sail for Manilla on our return to our native land. We had received many kindnesses from the mission families at Vewa, and our hearts were filled with sadness at the thought of parting. The last words of Mr. Hunt were, 'I fully believe that we shall see you again in Feejee."
|12.||Wo arrived at Naikorotumba, where we found the Catharine anchored. Mr. W. and myself passed the evening on board. Our cook is sick, and one of the sailors, who has been under medical treatment at Vewa for two months past.|
We arrived at Vendoga, and shall remain a few days, as the "beech de mer" house was left when we sailed from here last, and the chief wishes to fish a little longer.
We learn that a canoe from Ba was cast away last week upon one of the Asua Islands;—the crew were eaten. They were not enemies, but such is their custom. If the canoe had arrived in safety, the lives of the visitors would have been spared, and they would have welcomed them; but when a canoe is cast away, the natives say that it is sent them by their gods, and as they page 288are fond of something to relish their vegetables once in awhile, the flesh does not come amiss.
About two o'clock this morning Thomas Loyd died. He retained his reason to the last, and appeared willing to die. Mr. Smith, the mate, took ihe entire care of him during the last days of his sickness, except preparing his medicines and nourishment. He made his will, leaving his property to Mr. Smith. He wished me to accept the sum of fifty dollars, but I declined it in favor of Mr. S. The chief of Vendoga was paid for a spot of land, and promised that the body should remain undisturbed when buried. Prayers were read, and the body was buried on the land. His disease was dysentery, which is becoming very prevalent in these lands.
A few days since the bark Pilot arrived here from Ba. The natives of that place stole the trade chest and a "beech de mer" pot from the shore, and fired some muskets, which were answered by two large guns from the Pilot, who then tripped her anchor and came to Vundu.
|29.||When we first arrived at this place, Olamba told the captain that ten bags of "beech de mer" had been stolen from, him during our absence from Vevva, but he said the thief would surely bo, found out, as they had buried leaves from a certain tree, and as the leaves decayed, the thief would pine away and die. The Feejeeans have many trials by ordeal. Elijah told me that there was one ordeal in which he had formerly the greatest confidence. The last time he tried it, was about the "lotu," when Rev. Mr. Cross first came to Vewa. He put some water into the palm of his right hand, and slowly raised his arm to the perpendicular, saying, " If the • lotu' is true, let the water run in a straight line to my shoulder." It did so. At this be was much provoked, as he loved heathenism at that time. He then put page 289water in his hand again, and said, " If the Feejeean gods are true, let the water run in a straight line,—if they are false, let the water run off in a crooked way. The water ran in all directions, and from that time he believed that Jehovah was the true God; but he did not wish to embrace religion for many years after.|
We got under way for Nandy, intending to buy yams at that place. On arriving there, we were rejoined by the bark Pilot.
There is an old man on board the Pilot,—a resident of Feejee, but not a native. The chief of Namula sold him a woman last week, who, not suiting the fancy of the purchaser, was returned to the chief, who showed no unwillingness to receive her again. He immediately had her killed, cooked and eaten. He observed to Thomson, that she would make very good eating. Query. Which is the worst of the two?
|Nov. 4.||To-day a chief came into the cabin, bringing with him a girl about ten years old. He said that he wished her to go to America, where she might learn to cook, read, and make dresses, and when we returned, we could bring her back. I told him I did not expect to return to Feejee again. "No matter," he replied. I have put a dress on to the child and concluded to take her unless she takes it into her head to jump overboard to-night and return to her home. Her dialect is so different from any language we have before heard, that we can neither understand nor be understood.|
This morning several canoes came off to the bark. No one noticed the girl that was brought here yesterday, nor did she speak to any one. We conclude, therefore, that she is some captive girl. She appears rather sad.
The barks Zotoff and Pilot are now under sail,—the former for Manilla, and the latter to continue her business page 290in the "beech de mer" line at some other part of Feejee, having been rather unsuccessful on this coast. Farewell to Feejee! Your green hills are very beautiful, but your inhabitants are dark in every sense of the word. May the gospel increase and dissipate the great moral darkness that now reigns here!
Our second mate was discharged at Bau to return to Solavu, where he owns a woman. Mr. Cloutman, late of the bark Catharine, now serves in that capacity.
We have a young man on board who has been a resident in the cannibal city for the year past. He states that dead bodies were brought to Bau as often as twice, and sometimes three times in a week,—that they were taken to a "buri" where a chief, named Rotuimbau, divided them, after which they were cooked, and each portion sent to its destination. If they had more than could be devoured in Bau, portions were sent to other towns. The hearts and tongues are considered the choicest parts, and are claimed by the chiefs. The hands are usually given to the children.
|10.||The morning dawned upon us any thing but pieasant. About nine, A. M., I was quietly seated on the sofa, giving my lap-dog some meat to eat, when, without any premonition of such an event, I was thrown from my seat to the opposite side of the cabin. I thought that the vessel had been thrown on its beam ends. I soon found my way to the deck, to see what was going on, and learn the cause of my being treated so roughly. As I reached the deck, the first thing that attracted my attention was the jib, which was torn into ribbons, and looked like a hundred pennants floating from the bowsprit. Another sail, tired perhaps of its long service, had fled altogether, and was seen bounding over the angry ocean in detached parts, like a flock of frightened page 291birds. A sudden squall had struck the bark, and all waa confusion. The sailors were trying to furl the sails, which was no easy matter. The wind made them so obstinate that they seemed determined not to be made captive, but to follow the example of those that had gone before. They twitched themselves from the hands of the men, then flapped and banged them, and cut all sorts of capers. The wind seemed to exert all its power, and soon caused the sea to foam and rage,—split the mainsail, blew away the fore-top-gallantsail and the jib,— tore in pieces the fore-topmast staysail and gaff-topsail, besides doing other damage. The scene was highly exciting, somewhat terrific, and truly sublime. The captain was on the quarter deck, giving orders to the men, and speaking in no very feminine voice through the trumpet. Every part of the vessel seemed to feel itself called upon to make some audible complaint; therefore, it creaked, and groaned, and howled as if in great distress. The gale lasted about two hours. I stood, during that time, holding on by the door of the house. I had been seasick since we left Feejee nearly all the time, but during the gale the sickness had departed.|
We arrived at Pleasant Island, The weather has been favorable since the gale. Several of the white residents came off. They have increased in numbers since we visited the island before; about fifteen are now residing on the isle. The inhabitants are as rude and boisterous as ever. They brought off hats in great numbers to sell, and some mats also. One of the natives thought it best to compliment me by saying, " Captain's woman very good." Another, looking at him very archly, said, "Captain hear you talk that,—he kill you,— he shoot you."page 292
The man who deserted the Zotoff, when we were here last, is thriving well on fish, cocoa-nuls and sleep.
There has been no rain on the island for the last eighteen months. The pigs and fowls are literally starving, as the cocoa-nuts are failing. They were brought on board in abundance for sale, the price having fallen, as the conscientious whites saw we were well supplied with the long-faced gentry. When we were here last, and they saw that we greatly needed pork, they pretended that pigs were scarce,—that they had but three or four on the island, and sold us a sick one for eleven dollars cash. Now we could have bought them by the dozen for a trifle.
A sailor, who had been cruising about in the Pacific for the last four years, desired to leave the island and go with us. He had been on board several whaling vessels, all of which he left the first opportunity. He brought all the reches which he had accumulated during his voyages and travels on board the bark with him;— they consisted of one shirt, much worn, and one pair of pantaloons. Mr. W. also took a sick Manilla man on board, who was anxious to return to his country. After increasing our company with the abovementioned persons, we again sailed for Manilla.
|28.||This morning, as I was seated at an early hour on the quarter deck, I heard a feeble cry for help. On looking up, I perceived a sailor hanging by one hand and foot to the mizzen outhauler. The mate and two men hastened to his rescue. His face had become purple, and he could have lived but a short time longer.|
|Dec. 12.||We arrived at Manilla. Mr. Osborne met us at the landing, and welcomed us in his own truly gentlemanly manner, back to the Eastern city. I did not page 293regret leaving for a time the cabin of our bark for the spacious rooms in the house of Peel, Hubbell &. Co.|
Sabbath. At a very early hour in the morning, we started for a drive into the country. Although the sun had not risen, the bazars were all in readiness for their customers, and the streets were filled with people; Chinamen, Malays and Europeans, all appearing to be engaged about the perishable things of earth, presenting a marked contrast to our own quiet streets on this holy day, where another gospel is acknowledged. As we passed the churches, the interior appeared to be crowded, mostly with females. In passing from the towns to the country, we met many peasants on their way to the bazars with the produce of their lands. Some were seated on buffaloes, that do not travel with railroad speed, and many were travelling on "Mr. Foot's horses," with baskets of fruits and vegetables on their heads. The baskets were very broad, and their contents were arranged with much taste. Several were ornamented with pretty bunches of flowers. Their dress was coarse, but clean.
On our return, we observed that the shops in the Escolta were closed. The flags were raised from the shipping, and we were almost deafened by the ringing of bells.
In the afternoon we rode again into the country. The Malays were assembled in great numbers. Cockfighting and flying kites seemed to be their principal amusements. We observed many of their Spiritual Fathers assembled with them. A theatre in the evening concludes the amusements of the day.
Last night, at twelve o'clock, high mass was celebrated in the churches. I was told that the ceremony was well worth witnessing; but, being a Protestant, I page 294ceuld not bring myself to bend the knee to the shrines of a Catholic, and declined attending the ceremony.
Christmas is a very merry time in Manilla. The church bells are continually sending forth their merry peals, fairs are held, streets and houses are ornamented, churches are illuminated, and every one looks animated and happy during the Christmas holidays.
As we returned from our ride in the evening, we passed through several streets where booths were erected, and ornamented in the most fanciful manner. Toys, cakes and confectionary were sold in them. Curious ornaments were suspended in the streets, while pigs, turkeys, hens, dogs, &c., made of reeds and fancy paper, and illuminated with a taper, were seen running about in every direction. They were placed on castors, or very small wheels, and cords were attached so that those who set them in motion could remain out of sight. In one street we saw a very beautiful ship under full sail. It was most tastefully ornamented; its ropes were of silken cords; the sails were of white silk; the bows and stern were beautifully glided, and the little flags waved most gracefully, as they were fanned by the gentle zephyrs of evening.
In the forenoon some small presents were exchanged between the gentlemen of the house and myself, which occasioned some merriment.
I received a call from a Malay woman, who came to ask me for a Christmas present. As she wore more golden ornaments than I happened to possess of the valuable coin at the time, I dismissed her with the observation, that being a stranger, I was wholly unacquainted with the customs of the country.
Last night we accompanied Mr. Osborne to his house in the country. It is about three page 295miles distant, and is situated on a small elevation which commands an extensive view of mountains, rivers and plains. Our sleeping apartment was delightfully cool, and for the first time for three years we slept without a musquito curtain.
At dawn of day a servant opened the windows, that we might luxuriate in the "first sweet breath of morn." I soon rose and took a stroll round the house. I found the flowering almond, the tamarind, the coffee plant, the lemon tree, and various aromatic shrubs. I gathered some flowers, but was laughed at by Mr. Osborne, for trying, as he said, "To be romantic at my time of life;" but I shall always love flowers.
About seven o'clock we were joined by Mr. Deland, and after taking a cup of chocolate, we returned to town.
|16.||Two Malays were to-day publicly executed for the crime of murder. One had killed a man about twenty years ago, and recently murdered his wife. The other had also murdered his wife. The execution took place in front of one of the prisons, and the bodies were left exposed through the day, to serve as a terror to evil doers.|
About eight o'clock in the evening we rode to a church, two miles distant, to witness a grand Catholic pageant. On our arrival in the immediate vicinity of the church, the crowd was so great that we were obliged to leave our carriage and make our way, as best we might, to the church. The houses and streets near the church were illuminated, pictures were shown, flags and banners of every hue and color were displayed, and nothing was left undone to render the scene attractive. In front of the church is a large open space enclosed by a wall. Within this enclosure were stationed large guns, which sent forth peal after peal, each seeming louder page 296than the last, adding, of course, to the sublimity and aolemnily of a religious festival. Fireworks were displayed at the same place.
We had just arrived at the door of the church when the procession appeared. One hundred little boys, about three or four years of age, first appeared. These were dressed in the native costume, and each carried a lighted wax candle in his hand. Then came a number of little children, decorated in the most fanciful manner, -with golden suns and silver moons and stars shining all over them. Some had wings attached to their shoulders, and all wore crowns composed of materials so brilliant, that it made our eyes ache to look at them. They walked two by two, each bearing a lighted candle, as before. Their little swarthy faces formed a contrast to their decorations, and they looked like any thing but seraphs and angels, which they were intended to represent. The angels were followed by fifty young friars, wearing black gowns, and a short white wrought muslin frock over them. Then came a procession of young girls, who wore dresses of a dark gray silk, embroidered with silver, and garlands of artificial flowers around their heads. Friars then followed, as before,—then little angels again, —then more friars, and then one young girl, whose dress was entirely covered with golden embroidery, with a garland of flowers around her head, surmounted by half a dozen white ostrich feathers. I think that she must have been the queen of the ceremony. She was followed by a kind of car borne on the shoulders of men. The floor of the car was covered with a gaily tinselled cloth, and there, under a glass globe about one foot in height, sat the patron saint, or rather a small decorated wax figure, to represent him. He was as quiet as wax figures usually are in such situations, and did not seem page 297to need the heavy guard of soldiers that marched on each side of his saintship. A band of musicians followed, playing their vwry loudest, the guns sounded their heaviest, and the rockets shone their brightest, as the diminutive saint entered the church. If this is not idolatry,— what is? The musicians were followed by a long line of mothers, leading a little one by the hand and carrying an infant. These carried no candles, as did the rest.
We made our way, as soon as we could, into the church, and found it nearly dark,—the altar only being lighted. A priest stood before it, dressed in a white gown, embroidered with gold. He was crossing himself, and making courtesies when we entered, but soon disappeared through a side door. The silver gilded girls were seated on steps below the altar. The church was large and dark, and we could not distinguish any more of those who had formed the procession. We had scarcely entered the church, when a choir of infant voices commenced singing, accompanied by soft and appropriate instrumental music. This was natural, simple and beautiful. There was nothing artificial in those infant voices, and I listened to them with delight. When their songs ended, the lights of the altar were extinguished and we were left to wend our way in the dark. Ah! I thought, I fear this signifies the end of your brilliant religion,—darkness.
As we returned to our carriage, we saw many of the girls who had figured in the procession, threading their way quite unattended among the crowd. The little urchins, too, it appeared, had not ascended to the upper regions, notwithstanding their pinions. The heavy gilding about them might have prevented their rising. I page 298could not learn the meaning of what we had witnessed, but I presume it was in honor of the patron saint of infants.
|18.||As we happened to ride on the Calsada in a very beautiful carriage belonging to Peel, Hubbell & Co., we were honored with bows from the Governor and his lady, as we passed them and their suite.|
We rode through many of the streets of the city by daylight. We found them narrow, and not so clean as those of the towns in the suburbs. The buildings are all of stone, and look any thing but cheerful. In the evening, when the city is lighted, it looks pleasanter. The basements of many of the buildings are used for stores, and from some the grass was growing over the tops of the windows, entrances, and every niche where a particle of soil could find a lodgment.
We entered the plaza, in the centre of which stands a statue of Charles the Fourth, fronting the palace of the Governor. In front of the Governor's residence stands the city prison, which looks far more like a palace than that occupied by the Governor,—the latter being very plain in its appearance. The cathedral stands at the right of the palace, and its deep-toned bells are beard for many a mile. These buildings form three sides of the plaza or square; on the fourth side stand some buildings remarkable for nothing in particular. There are several churches in the city, with monasteries attached to them. We passed a convent containing about five hundred nuns. Its walls were forty feet in, height from the ground to the windows. It is said that there are about fourteen hundred nuns in Manilla.
During our afternoon drive, we stopped on our way to visit a cemetery. We entered a broad gateway, and passed on to the church, where several people were page 299assembled. As we approached, they left the church, and proceeded to an open grave with the corpse of an old woman. We followed to the grave to witness the interment. The body was borne on a rude bier of bamboos, on the shoulders of men. The corpse was wrapped in a mat. The grave was like the graves of the cannibals of Feejee, scarcely deep enough for the body to be placed in. The men took hold of the four corners of the mat, and laid it with the body in the grave, then retired to a little distance, while the women approached, kissed the shrivelled hands which were folded across the bosom beneath a cross, whined, but shed no tears. Then the men approached and took hold of one of the hands of the corpse, as if to take leave, when all departed. There were eight mourners, mostly young people, who seemed rather glad that their aged friend was dead. After the departure of the relatives, the body was covered with earth.
The cemetery is of a semi-circular form, enclosed with walls. In these are holes where the dead are deposited. I presume these are the places where the bodies of the wealthy are placed. Each aperture is just large enough to contain one body, and when one is deposited, some lime is thrown in upon it, the hole is fastened up, and remains so till some other member of the family dies. The bones are then taken out and thrown into a Golgotha, which they call an "Osero." What a horrible way of disposing of their dead! It is not surprising that there are so many bones of the saints and martyrs; these places can ever furnish a supply. The cemetery is very small, not comprising one quarter of an acre of land. No grave could be dug without disturbing the dead, and the stench from the little spot of earth was almost intolerable, I could not rest on my return till I had changed page 300my clothing. We never passed this road on our way to San Sebastian, without meeting some funereal company. We often saw a man or boy, running through the street, bearing a tray on his head, on which is placed the corpse of an infant, decorated like a doll, with flowers, tinsel and all sorts of finery.
|21.||We took a long ride in the country early in the morning. This is a luxury I can but seldom enjoy, as Mr. W. devotes his mornings from early dawn, to business. The birds sung some of their sweetest songs, the tamarinds and wild almonds showed us their best blossoms, the early dew sparkled and trembled on the grass, and all conspired with our happy hearts to render the scenery enchanting. I observe a marked difference between the foliage of this country and that of Feejee; the latter is broad, deep and full; the former is scant and narrow, and the trunks of the trees are not covered with creeping plants and vines, as in Feejee. I presume that the heat of this island is greater than that of the Feejeean isles.|
|30.||All being in readiness, we reembarked on board the Zotoff for our distant home. We were accompanied to the banca by Messrs. Osborne, Towne, Deland and Douglass, where we took leave of them. We feel much indebted to these gentlemen for many agreeable hours spent in Manilla. Capt. McKay of Boston and Mr. Dimon of New York accompanied us to the vessel. As we were bound for the latter port, Mr. D. gave us a letter of introduction to his parents.|
|31.||After a good night's rest I awoke in the morning congratulating myself that I had thus far escaped my old enemy—sea-sickness. I attempted to rise, when the monster laid one huge paw on my head, and the other on my chest, declaring at the same time that I should not page 301start. I felt highly indignant at such oppression, and determined to resist. I succeeded in dressing, and reached the wash stand, where stood three of the monster's imps. Dizzy would not let me arrange my hair, but, giving it a terrible twitch, seemed to say it looked well enough; Push threw me against the door and sadly bruised my arm, and Trip tried her best to make my heels as light as my head. All this I bore with the patience of a martyr, and staggered to the breakfast table, trying to look resigned, but I found that Bitter, who, being a child of sea-sickness, could make herself at home in any element, had placed herself in my tea; Nausea held the boiled eggs in her hands, and Hate-food kept the bread; therefore I gave up rny breakfast, and turned to my dear old friend, the sofa, who is always ready to receive me. It is true that it is not free from faults, being occasionally a little unsteady. It has thrown me from its protection sometimes, and we are obliged to confine our wayward friend with strong cords.|
The clouds have gathered themselves together, covered the face of the sun, and completely hidden his beams from our eyes for the last four days. Boreas has been rough but kind, and has blown us along at the rate of eight miles an hour. The bark, which has been for a long time past a resident in a tropical climate, and is not unaffected with its indolence, complains at this rapid travelling, and even weeps. The waves, arrayed in their white bonnets, elevated themselves to a great height, then came dancing up to the cabin windows, and I thought showed an inclination to make me a visit. I mentioned it to Mr. W., but he laughed, and said that it was only a way they had, and that they would not dare to enter the cabin. "They look proud and saucy enough to enter any vessel," I replied. I had scarcely done page 302speaking, when a wave somewhat taller than the rest dashed into the cabin, seeming to say, "See what I dare to do!" The salt water bespattered the eyes of the captain, loosened the scales, and the order was given to close the windows.
|4.||We passed the island of Pulo Supata, and three days after, the Amanabas Islands. These are inhabited by Malays, who, it is said, are very treacherous. An abundance of tropical fruits are to be obtained from them, and there is good anchorage for vessels.|
|8.||We spoke the ship Vancouver, from Canton, bound to Boston. I never before saw so much canvass spread from a vessel. There was beauty and majesty displayed as the noble ship passed us, seeming to say, in derision, "Do report us if you arrive first."|
|10.||The last two days we have been favored with torrents of rain, which renders the cabin exceedingly gloomy, being lighted by a lamp to make the darkness visible. The strong current and the wind having taken opposite sides of a question, seem to have become enemies; which caused the bark to labor so bard that Mr. W. thought it best to anchor, and we passed so delightful a night as to increase one's love for a sea life. The night was exceedingly dark, and our situation was somewhat dangerous, as we were quite near the entrance of the Straits of Banka,|
|11.||The storm abated, and the vessel got under way at an early hour in the morning. We soon entered the Straits of Banka. On our right runs the east coast of Sumatra, which is not inhabited, and presents to the eye one vast jungle. The island of Banka is on our left. This land is more elevated. A chain of hills runs through the island, called St. Paul's. There is a Dutch settlement on it, called Mintou.page 303|
|12.||Mr. W. spoke the ship Santiago, of Boston, from Batavia, bound to Singapore. Several ships and brigs were in sight, and a large Dutch steamer passed us.|
|14.||We spoke the Samuel Russell, nine days from Canton, for New York. It passed us with the speed of a steamer; our vessel seemed as though laying at anchor. Some of our sailors threw a rope over the side, that they might take our bark in tow. Hands were stretched out from the S. R. to receive it. We are now in sight of the high lands of Batavia.|
We are again in sight of Sumatra. The land is more elevated, and in some parts mountainous. The chain of mountains that run through the centre of this large island terminates here.
In the evening we received some visitors from Angier, who brought for sale, pine-apples, cocoa-nuts, bananas, pumpions, corn, parrots and monkeys. All the eatables, and some monkeys were purchased.
|17.||As we neared Tamarind Island, we could see several houses of thatch on the isle, and canoes on the shore. Our vessel lay resting on the still waters, or floating at a snail's pace, when some of the canoes approached, and one of the strangers called out to the captain, "Come to anchor!" Several Malays came on board. They brought a turtle and some dead shells for sale; the latter they were constantly dipping in the water that it might not be seen that they were dead. The settlement on the island is of recent date.|
|20.||We are now out of sight of land, having crossed a part of the China Sea, passed through the Straits of Banka, crossed a part of the Java Sea, and passed through the Straits of Sunda, and are now once more on the Indian Ocean. The weather is intolerably hot, and every body is lazy except the two young monkeys, who page 304are as full of mischief as monkeys need be. The eldest bears marks of old age, and appears very dignified. We think that he was a "judge "among his tribe. Sometimes he "makes up faces "at us, but he knows probably that he is not now seated on a wool sack, or decorated with a wig.|
|April 1.||We are near the stormy Cape of Good Hope. The last week we have experienced continual squally weather, with some thunder and lightning, and the sea has been angry and rough. Yesterday, Judge Grey, the monkey, committed suicide by drowning. The change of life and habits from his own green woods to the bark was too much for him. He has never been happy and has sought relief from a broken heart in a watery grave.|
|4.||The clouds gathered in one solid mass, and poured forth torrents of rain. The wind blew with great violence, and there was every appearance of an approaching gale. As we were trying to drink our tea, a sea struck on the larboard quarter, and poured down the sky light into the cabin. We received no injury, however, but the vessel roiled and pitched continually. The gale continued to increase during the night, and the vessel lay to; no one had any rest or sleep. The water came pouring down the sky lights at intervals, and there was no dry spot to be found except in the berths. About eight o'clock, P. M., the quarter boat filled and broke. During the night we lost the lower swinging boom, and the fore-topmast stay-sail was split. On the fifth, the gale continued with great violence, but we received no other damage than the loss of the stern boat. When that went, it seemed as though the whole stern of the vessel was going with it. I fully expected to see the sea pouring in upon us. We passed a most uncomfortable page 305day. At four, P. M., the gale abated a very little, and as we were directly in the track of vessels from the east, bound like ourselves round the Cape, Mr. W. deemed it best to bear away on our course. On the eighth day we were again favored with a pleasant sun, and the ocean looked as blue and as placid as though it had never been ruffled by a storm. All were loud in their praises of our vessel, which had so nobly withstood the gale. The day before it commenced, there were six vessels in sight. I trust they suffered no more injury than we did. Our gratitude for our preservation is due to Him who holds the winds and subdues the storms.|
We reached the Seamen's Tank, or St. Helena, and anchored in safety. Although I had read many descriptions of this far famed isle, which the Giver of all good seems to have placed here on purpose to refresh the weary mariner after his exposure to the storms of the Cape, I had formed no adequate idea of the place. What must have been the emotions of Napoleon as he approached his rocky prison—a prison that resembled in magnitude his own ambition!
Our anchor was scarcely down, when the American Consul, Mr. J. Carroll, the physician, and two other gentlemen came on board. The Consul invited us to go on shore with him and remain at his residence during our stay at the place.
We availed ourselves of his invitation, and were soon at the consulate, where we were welcomed by Mrs. Carroll, We dined at three o'clock, and at four, Mrs. C. and myself started for a walk. Jamestown is situated in a valley not more than four or five hundred yards in width, and I could scarcely help feeling as I passed through the street and looked at the mountains of 20 page 306stone on each side, that they were about to fall and overwhelm all in one common ruin. They do not appear to be of solid granite, but seem to look loose and crumbling, as though any slight convulsion of the earth or even the elements might easily discompose them. I need not write more of this well known island, as much has been said about it, and I cannot hope to offer any thing new. We visited the garden and the store, where we found the useful, the agreeable and the entertaining. The houses are two stories high, and on the street look neat and pretty. I looked in vain for the costumes of different nations, of which I have read as being worn here. All the inhabitants or strangers that we met were dressed in the European style. There are about four thousand inhabitants on the island; two-thirds of them are colored.
After returning from our walk, tea was served, and we spent an agreeable evening at Mr. Wm. Carroll's, the Ex-Consul.
Sabbath. A company of officers and soldiers accompanied by the band, all in full uniform, passed, on their way to church, at eleven, A. M. The martial music, however it might accord with the appearance of the company which it escorted, did not seem to me in keeping with the holy day. The whole parade savored strongly of Catholicism. There are two Episcopal churches on the island—one in Jamestown, and the other in the country, near the Governor's residence. There is also a small Baptist society. We attended the services of the latter in the morning, in company with the elder Mr. Carroll, and the Episcopal in the evening.
Mr. W. gave his men liberty to go on shore on the Sabbath. Half the number were to go in the forenoon, and return to the vessel at noon, when the other half page 307were to leave. No money was allowed, as Mr. W. did not wish to have any drunken frolics on the Sabbath. Accordingly, the respectable part of the crew visited the island in the morning, and returned peaceably to the vessel at noon. The drunkards took their turn in the afternoon. Two of them, called Bob and Tom, soon came to the Consul's and asked Mr. W, for money, but their request was denied. They came again and again; and the third time they used very improper language to their commander. We were greatly annoyed and mortified by their conduct. They had evidently procured rum somewhere.
I arose at an early hour, and seated myself at my chamber window in front of the principal street, to see what I could of life in St. Helena. I saw some redcoats pass, then some donkeys from the country, bearing cabbages, turnips, peaches and pears, and then came several poor people who had been to buy their breakfast, consisting of a loaf of bread, large or small according to the number to be served. Some had hot coffee, and a portion of fish or flesh, while others carried a bottle, which may or may not have contained coffee, tea or milk. At length a long procession of liberated Africans passed, who were dressed in white frocks and blue trowsers. They were accompanied by a driver with a whip in his hand. I inquired what became of these liberated captives, and was informed that they were let out in the colonies for the term of five years, which they were required to serve to defray their expenses to government. I could not learn what became of them after this term expired.
The Consul informed us at breakfast that eight vessels had arrived since Saturday morn, all of which had suffered from the late gale off the Cape. One, a Swiss page 308ship, had lost its commander overboard, and was greatly injured. He remarked that none had suffered so little injury as our bark. "Ah!" said I, "the Zotoff,
Contrary to our expectations, Mr. W. was detained till six o'clock in the evening. In the morning we called on Mrs. Leege, the mother of Mrs. Carroll. She seemed to possess a heart overflowing with love. As this lady lived a near neighbor to Napoleon before his removal to Longwood, I had many questions to ask concerning him, and the old lady seemed never to tire of talking about him. She said that he seldom missed a day without visiting their cottage. He was much attached to Mrs. Carroll, who was then an infant, and while caressing and playing with the child he would seem almost cheerful.
After tea we took leave of Mrs. C and her niece, who had received and entertained us in so agreeable a manner that we left with regret. The ever attentive Consul, with Capt. Grinnell, who had dined at the consulate, accompanied us to the vessel where we took leave of them.
Our anchor was once more raised, and our sails spread for home. Bob had been exchanged for one of Capt. Grinnell's men, but Tom remained on board. After we had got well under way, Tom was ordered to haul tight the main-topmast studding sail tack. The impudence of Tom the day before bad been received so mildly on shore by the captain, that he was now disposed to try it again. He had no sooner uttered his speech than Mr. W. caught him by his beard, which was of a most convenient length, and throwing him upon the deck, placed his knee upon his breast, and told him that he was not on shore now, but on board a vessel where impudence was never allowed—that he had not forgotten the insults of yester-page 309day, and that he would be required to look well to his conduct the rest of the passage. He then allowed the sailor to rise, and making him feel the end of a rope a few times, he sent him forward that he might have an opportunity for reflection before using any more impudence to one as large as himself.
|25.||Tom has shaved off his long beard, which got somewhat twisted last night, and has asked the captain's pardon for his past conduct, saying that rum caused it. He also begged me to forgive his behaving so badly when there was a lady on board, and promised that there should be no future cause for complaint. He will probably keep his promise unless Neptune supplies him with rum, which I believe he is not in the habit of doing.|
The weather is pleasant, and all hands are employed in scrubbing, painting, tarring, &c, to clean and improve the appearance of the bark. The spring cleaning at home is nothing compared to this home cleaning in the spring.
We talk now a great deal about home, and every one looks cheerful. My Feejeean girl is learning to sew, and appears quite happy. She hates the stewardess, however, who is a colored woman, whom we engaged in Manilla, and who breaks all our dishes, loses the spoons, knives, &c., and then lays it to the caravan, as she calls Phebe, meaning cannibal.
|4.||About eleven, A. M., we observed a brig at some distance steering S. W., but its course was soon changed to W. N. W., and it seemed intending to make us a visit. Sometimes, no doubt, it is exceedingly pleasant to receive a visit "while sailing o'er a waste of waters," but we were in a suspicious place, being somewhat near the "slavers' track;" moreover, the vessel bore a suspicious appearance, being long, low and black, with raking page 310masts, and sailing with the speed of a steamer. Again, its conduct was suspicious. Why should it alters its course and hurry towards us in such a manner?—we had showed no signals of distress. Mr. W., after watching its movements, said, "If it is a pirate, we stand no chance of running away from her." He then ordered the four large guns to be loaded, and the course of the bark to be altered, that we might run to meet our visitor, for such it seemed intending to be. The guns were loaded, the ports triced up, the course altered, and the guns looked out saucily from the open ports, all arrayed on the side of the bark where they could be observed from the suspicious vessel, which had advanced most rapidly towards us, but showed no colors. As soon as all was in readiness, and they observed us standing towards them, their course was again altered, and they seemed as anxious to get clear of, as they had been to visit us. It is probable that if the vessel was a pirate, it took us for a man-of-war, as all the show possible was made of heads on our decks, and I believe it is not usual for merchant vessels to run towards a piratical vessel. The mate had filled one of his socks with powder to put in the biggest gun, and it was thought best to fire it after the retreating vessel, which was done, and the sock has never been heard from since.|
We are now sixty miles north of the Equator. The weather continues pleasant. A shark has followed us for several days past, but the remains of a porpoise were thrown overboard, and the shark has stopped to feast upon it. It is to be supposed that his apparent attention to us was not from love, but like others of his species on land, he followed the sailors for what could be obtained. Our days pass monotonously but hopefully.page 311
Many changes probably await us on our return to our native land.
Mr. W. employs a part of his time in teaching those who were lads when we left Salem, the science of navigation. They have made good progress. George, especially, bids fair to become a thorough and scientific navigator.
|10.||Joy! joy! the highlands of Neversink are in sight. A New York pilot is on board, and we soon expect to leave our prison home for terra firma once more.|
Last evening our anchor was lowered in the harbor of New York. I knew not that we had a friend in the city to greet us, but it was pleasant to feel that our voyage was ended, that our perils in strange lands and on the deep were over, and that after an absence of three years and eleven months, we had safely reached the happy shores of America.
This morning, Capt. H., a friend who had removed from Charlestown with his family during our absence, came to welcome us to our native land, and I was soon an inmate of his very comfortable dwelling, surrounded by his family, and receiving their warm congratulations.
|June 13.||The lad, Nat, informed the mate, that, as he was walking through one of the streets of the city, he met Tom, the sailor, who, it will be remembered, behaved himself so unbecomingly at St. Helena; moreover, Tom invited him to walk a little way with; him. He complied with the request, and soon found himself in the office of a lawyer, who required him to make a deposition respecting the cruel conduct of Capt. Wallis to Tom when off St. Helena. He said that he told the lawyer he knew nothing about it, and left the office immediately. In the afternoon the three Salem lads and one sailor left the city for their homes.page 312|
A handsome bill was presented this morning to Mr. W. It had been contracted by the Salem boys for pies and cakes. I did not learn whether confectionary was included; perhaps a separate bill may be forthcoming for that luxury.
Tom, the sailor, came to Mr. W., saying that he had not been sufficiently sober to visit him before, and showed a document in the hand-writing of the lad, Nat. Mr. W. examined the paper, and found that it contained an exaggerated account of his conduct towards Tom on the night we left St. Helena. After perusing the document, Mr. W. returned it to its owner, and quietly asked what he intended to do with it. "Nothing, sir," replied the sailor. "I never thought that you punished me as much as I deserved. Nat and George were at me all the way home about prosecuting you when we arrived here. They said that New York was just the place for it, and George said he should persuade his father to prosecute the captain for punishing him when he insulted the Feejeean chief; finally, Nat drew up the said document, and finding me on shore half drunk, persuaded me to go to a lawyer, and show him the paper." Mr. W. could not believe the whole of this statement, but called the men aft, and, on questioning them, they testified that it was true, adding that the two boys above named had omitted no opportunity of urging Tom to "prosecute the captain."
|23.||We arrived at Salem. The meetings, greetings and sayings, on that, to us, happy occasion, I will leave for the reader to imagine.|