A microfilm copy of the original of this document may be viewed in the Mitchell Library, Sydney, where a typed transcript donated in 1950 by a Miss L.C. Baily is also available. Another transcript was made by Anne Moulder in 1998. These three documents have been compared in the production of this version.
The images shown here were scanned from photocopies of the microfilm; even electronic retouching cannot make them perfect. A few of the original drawings are missing, in particular one of the "Fortune" under full sail which the Mitchell Library has not seen since 1985.
The original handwriting presents some difficulties. Some minor spelling errors have been corrected here, and punctuation has been added to make the text easier to read. Some obsolete spelling has been retained: St Jago, and St Jago's, for example, correspond to modern São Tiago (just as the Spanish Sant'Iago became Santiago).
We read elsewhere that the barque "Fortune" was of 312 tons and was built by Sam Finch in 1825 in the Port of Quebec (her home port was Glasgow). She was 99 feet long, 27 feet wide and 18 feet deep to the underside of the deck (30.2m x 8.2m x 5.5m) and carried two guns. By comparison, the "Lady" class ferries on Sydney Harbour are rated at between 287 and 383 tons. A barque is a three-masted vessel, square-rigged except on the aftermost mast. For a description of sail-names, click on the image at right.
Upon completion of this voyage, the Listers settled in Australia. The three older children seem to have arrived in Sydney on the barque Aden on Saturday 8 Oct 1842 after leaving London 8 June.
Joseph Fowles also settled in Australia, and made his mark as an artist and City Surveyor. For further information about him, click on the author's name above.
JCC Jan. 2003
The sun shone beautifully on the morning of Thursday, April 5th, as in the Duke of Sussex Steamer, we voyaged down the river from London Bridge to Gravesend to join the ship which had gone before and was lying at Gravesend awaiting the arrival of the Captain. On board the steamer, singularly early enough, we met a wedding party going to Gravesend to spend the day. It consisted of the whole family of the Pratts, my cousins, and John Adey with his wife. I need not add that it afforded us much unexpected pleasure, especially under the present circumstances.
We arrived at the pier and after taking leave of them and exchanging good wishes, we took a boat and at about 1/2 past 2 o'clock we found ourselves on board the Barque Fortune. We found the Pilot in charge of the vessel, and Mr Wright, the Mate W. Ayrest, and steerage passengers all on board. Mr Hindson arrived at about 4 o'clock and the Captain with his wife and son at 6 o'clock. The Ladies are hoisted upon deck by a chair supported by a rope passed thro' a pulley on the main yard. Over the chair is spread the Union Jack and when the lady is seated, it is wrapped around her and she is then hoisted up without any trouble or danger.
All of the afternoon I was packing away my goods and making our cabin comfortable, which I tolerably effected before we weighed anchor. We took tea very comfortably in the cabin tho' rather late, about 8 o'clock - the party consisting of the Captain, his wife & son, myself and wife, Mr Wood and Miss Collier, Mr Wright, Mr Hindson, the Mate and Pilot. After tea we went to bed but did not find it very comfortable, this being a very cold night and the exchange from a comfortable bedroom for one only 6 ft square (about the size of my bed ashore), and being annoyed by the continued trampling of the men upon deck, getting the ship under weigh. Mr Wright, the Capt & Pilot, remained up talking till 1 o'clock, when the Anchor was dropped in the upper end of the lower Hope. The sails all furled and every thing now was comparatively quiet, I slept pretty well after this.
Being again awoke by the same noise of the men trampling over our heads about 4 AM, I arose and found the vessel proceeding down the river at a good & steady pace. We passed the Nore light, of which we had a good sight. Also the towns of Sheerness, Southend and Margate, a sketch of which last, with the North Foreland Light House and the Barque Fortune I here attempt. [Missing.]
When we had cleared the Queens Channel, the ship's course was altered and thereby the wind became less favourable and when we cleared the N. Foreland, the wind was right ahead of us so we had to tack frequently. Mr Wood as indeed all of us were much amused by the noise in tacking. The Pilot shouted out "Stand by there to tack ship" - this puts all the men to their posts. He then commands the man at the wheel to "put the helm hard down" - and this brings the head of the ship round till all sails shake, the wind being out of them. He then bellows out enough to frighten you "Helm's alee there" - this is a second preparation. He then shouts "Tacks & Sheets", then in an instant "Mainsail haul" - The first means to let go the tack, and haul upon the sheets. This brings the mainsail round so that the wind comes behind it. He then, when her head is around enough, sings out "let go and haul". This brings the sails into the same position as they were before, except the wind comes at the other side of the ship.
Then we continued tacking till we arrived in the Downs and came to anchor about 1 mile from Deal at 6 o'clock, the wind increasing very much and being exactly the most contrary it could be. The first thing that attracted our notice, was the constant and unpleasant motion of the swinging tray over the table - like small dumb waiters suspended instead of standing on its foot. This of course yields to the least motion of the ship and is always upright, the lamps, also two very handsome table lamps without a pedestal and suspended as the trays are, constantly swinging about making us feel very giddy and uncomfortable. Miss Collier became sick soon after breakfast and continued so all day. Mrs F has hitherto escaped, but I feel a giddy swimming in my head but no sickness.
Saturday 7th April
Last night the Pilot left the ship and this morning the wind has increased and was still the same direction, so here we must stay for a change. The steward forgot to bring any bread with him and as the oven was not yet in order, we had nothing but biscuit to eat which to me, having no teeth, is quite a task. Mrs Fowles today is rather poorly but not sick altho' the motion had been very great. Mrs Lister, by way of consolation, says the water is quite smooth and we shall have something more like motion before we get to the end of our journey. She is constantly gratuitously encouraging, or rather discouraging, the timid with tales of horror. She has been round the world three times and has retained nothing but the most horrible and unpleasant occurrences.
Sunday 8th April
The night again passed with a good deal of tossing and tumbling. I slept indeed very little but we are all up to breakfast which speaks for itself that all are well. Many have been sick. Miss C remained in bed all day yesterday. As we lay here the light on the Goodwyn sands called the Gull Light - the North Foreland - the towns of Ramsgate & Deal were with the light at the South Foreland visible at night. We spend much of our time on deck walking about - this may be the cause of our continuing so well.
Monday 9th April
The wind having changed a little this morning we were enabled to make a start. At 7 the anchor was weighed and we were proceeding on our voyage. It is not unusual for vessels to be detained in the Downs for a week or fortnight, so we may congratulate ourselves on getting away so soon. On Saturday I numbered 77 vessels at anchor in the Downs and in the night several others brought up, this morning all getting under weigh at the same time. Had a very interesting appearance, quite a fleet was soon beating in all directions. I took the wheel myself and steered till in sight of Dover. It was now a lovely morning: the coast near Calais was very clearly seen and the white chalk cliffs of England relieved by the green fields crowning them and the sea foam dashing at their base, together with the brilliant emerald green sea, formed at once a new and splendid scene - to all of us quite a novelty. At about twelve we were opposite Dover - the Castle, the Town and Shakespear's Cliff were very distinctly seen from the little distance at which we were. At 4, Dungeness Light House was right ahead and the wind had fallen off to almost a calm. At 11, Beachy Head Light House was seen. It is a most beautiful light, revolving every 3 seconds.
The wind continues as yesterday. The Isle of Wight seen at noon and about an hour afterwards the wind shifted round to the S.W. so we were again obliged to beat instead of running before the wind. There is a sail on our starboard bow and when we came up with her as we did her name appeared to be the "Jane Vilet" which afforded Mr Wood much amusement - the singularity of the name.
A very cold day. Mr Wood had unfortunately left his cloak and great coat in London. The thermometer at 44° [7°C]. The Captain who has, I think, taken a great fancy to Mr Wood, lent him a Pilot coat and thus dressed he with the rest of us keep up our spirits by singing &c. Mr Wood is quite the soul of our little company; we shall miss him much when leaves us, and we all wish he was going the whole voyage with us. The wind has now fallen off to a calm, the sea was quite smooth. The Isle of Wight still in the distance. We went to bed and in the night the wind blew quite a stiff breeze and the ship lay over so much that it was with extreme difficulty I could keep in bed.
I arose but Mrs Fowles could not, being for the first time sea sick. Miss Collier & Mrs Lister were also very ill. I arose at 3 in the morning and whether it was from the stuffing of the goose at yesterday's dinner or the motion of the ship I was sick for a few minutes. The sea was very rough; I could scarcely stand even with holding on at a rope. In the afternoon it had a little calmed tho' now there was much sea & I got Mrs Fowles and Miss C upon the deck where they soon improved. This I find is the best thing, after they have recovered sufficient strength to bear it. We are soon off the Start Point not far from Dartmouth. We hoped to get into Plymouth tonight but the wind becoming more unfair, we could not, but were beating about all the evening and making very little progress. The Jane Vilet was seen some distance astern.
When I arose I found a Pilot on deck in command. He had boarded us about 4 o'clock as most of these pilots have not sufficient employment as pilots to support them. They fill up their waste time by taking fish; our pilot brought on board some fresh caught whiting, soles & an immense lobster weighing about 6 or 7 lb, the best I ever tasted. The Eddystone Light House was seen now about 4 miles off and now the wind has fallen off, it has also shifted round fair - and about 12 o'clock we could see the hill and fields very distinct and tho' we had only been a few days from land, still we felt great pleasure in again seeing the beautiful green fields - and indeed the land had a strikingly beautiful appearance in the neighbourhood of Plymouth, especially Mount Edgecumbe.
At about 2 o'clock we came to anchor within the breakwater and prepared to go ashore which was with Mr Wood, Wright, Mrs F & Miss Collier - soon effected in the agent's boat. Mr Wright then went in quest of his mother and sister who with her husband and family were to embark with us from Plymouth and had come hither from Bath for that purpose. We then went to the post office for letters - for many of us there were some. From the Sound was seen on a green field near the Citadel numbers of persons thronging together, others engaged playing and running about upon the hill. This place is called the Hoe & it is the rendezvous of all the citizens upon festive occasions, like the present "Good Friday", and from its beautiful verdure contained with the black walls of the Citadel (an immense place), formed a very pleasant scene. To the left was the seat & park of Lord Edgecumbe, a splendid place. In the centre between this & the Hoe is a small island called Drake's Island - it looks like a rock with its top covered, with smooth turf extending down the sides a little and on the very top a row of cannons. Beyond this is seen in the distance part of the towns of Stonehouse and Devonport, and on the right the Catwater, where most vessels having to discharge anchor as it is much nearer the town than we were (about 1/2 mile). The town of Plymouth lies hidden from the Sound behind the Citadel & Hoe. It is for the most part a dirty miserable looking place, the streets most of them not wider than one cart and the foot pavement may well be called so for they seldom exceed that in width. The upper part is however better, but not any of it has the appearance of either wealth or business and the basin for vessels seemed quite empty & deserted - to be sure it was full of mud. We strolled thro' the town and at length found ourselves upon the Hoe & from which our vessel with her colours at the masthead looked very pretty. The breakwater was also seen beyond it, forming a wall across the entrance to the bay and built to prevent the ingress of the heavy sea which generally sets in with a S. or S.W. wind, doing considerable damage to shipping, driving them upon the rocks &c., there not being sea room to beat out. It has been years about & is not yet complete. It is composed of immense stones thrown into the sea and rising about 20 feet along the surface. It has frequently been damaged by the violence of the sea carrying part away.
Upon the Hoe we met Mr Wright with Mr B, his brother-in-law, who informed me he had letters for me at his lodgings. I left the party to go for them and again met with them at the Clarence Hotel where, as it was 6 o'clock, we ordered tea and, as we had had no dinner, we ordered mutton chops also, and it was remarked by all that they had never relished anything so much and then we had a spacious room, well furnished, and [a] cheerful fire added to the enjoyment. Here was an old upright grand pianoforte dreadfully stringy & out of tune. Mr Wood sat to it and delighted us very much, so extraordinary was the effect produced by being at sea for only a week! What the length of the voyage will produce, I cannot imagine. As the night was dark and wet, we left Mrs Fowles and Miss Collier to sleep at the Clarence and returned in a boat to the ship.
Went ashore and found the ladies had had a good night and also breakfast. We took them a good long walk to Stonehouse & the bettermost parts of Plymouth and got on board at about 4 o'clock, where we found Mrs & Bishton & 3 children. Also Mrs Wright, making our cabin party complete.
As it was likely to be the last sabbath for some time we might spend ashore, we all determined to [go] and Mr Bishton, who had engaged a boat by the day, ordered it to be alongside at 9 o'clock. The morning was fine but the wind was fresh and the water rough, so Mrs Wright (who was otherwise going with us) would not go. Mr Wright, Hindson, Mr & Mrs Bishton and myself and wife went and we shipped a good deal of sea; indeed, had we not prepared for it, we had all been drenched - as it was, we were so long pulling to the shore that we did not get to the church till they were reading the communion service.
After church, we walked about till we again got into the boat and put off to the ship. I took the helm - the water had now grown fearfully rough for a boat and had we had to have faced the wind instead of, as it was, to run before it, we should have been swamped. We steered to the vessel and the ladder which was on the opposite side when we left had been changed and put down on this side on our return. We were not aware of this and therefore steered to run round close under the stern and luff up on the lee side. It was not until we were almost astern that we were apprised of the alteration, and now I put the helm hard down and the boat's head came up to face the sea and wind. Just at this time, a sea threw our boat right over across the jolly boat lying stern of the ship and I expected we must be capsized, but a rope from the deck was lowered by which the boat was got clear and pulled to the gangway. We were now in imminent danger, the waves tossing us up against the ship's side, and we were expecting every minute to be upset and thrown into the sea. Fortunately, the ladies sat still. Mr Bishton first ascended - Mr Hindson was some time before he could muster courage to mount: one moment when the boat arose, he would attempt to go on but, it again retreating, he did the same, repeating the same at least a dozen times before he trusted to the ladder and left the boat. All this time we were kept in great suspense and anxiety, and [with] difficulty could I still the ladies. At length the whip was lowered and Mrs B, made secure, was instantly suspended over our heads and safely landed on the deck. The chair was again lowered and Sarah, with much more fortitude than could be expected, took her seat and in like manner was whipped up. Mr Wright followed, and lastly myself - truly thankful for our safe arrival - having encountered as great danger as it is likely we may in our whole voyage to Sydney.
The wind continued to increase till it blew a perfect gale - and we were obliged to drop another anchor - several ships in the Sound having drifted from their moorings and were nearly blown ashore
Monday and Tuesday
The wind continued so violent that no boat could venture from the shore so we were doing nothing toward getting away. Mr Wood left by the steamer for London. I need not say we all regretted his loss.
The weather becoming a little more fine, we began to ship our provisions &c, and also Mrs Alger and her 2 sons came on board. So did Mr Pearse, his wife, 4 children and 2 servants, a man & woman.
Thursday 19 April
Nothing now remained to be done but clearing at the Custom House, which he completed at about 5 and found that a parcel which had been sent him had been forwarded to a friend's near Plymouth, so after dinner the whale boat was manned and lowered and the Captain & I went ashore for it. We had tea at his friend's and had some of the real Devonshire clotted cream. After tea, we returned to the beach under Jenny Cliff where we found the Sailors we had sent into the village for salt had not returned, and we were obliged to wait on the beach for their return, which was nearly 1/2 an hour after. During my stay here the rising tide beating over the pebbles and the sound of the soldier's drum on the shore beating to bed seemed to awaken every feeling and now I was just about to leave my much loved country for at least years, perhaps forever.
The weather had been very cold for several days past and continued falls of snow, so that the hills were quite white when we left. When we got on board, we found the Pilot had our anchor in, and the other 'apeak', with the fore topsail set and all ready to make sail. The Captain's orders were soon given and in a few minutes we easily moved off - imperceptible except for the nearing the light on the breakwater which we now passed at about 11 o'clock. At about 12, the Pilot's boat came up to take him and, the Captain having finished his letter and settled with him, he left us. And now the Captain took command: the wind being fair and the weather fine, all sail was set and at about 1 we passed the Eddystone.
Friday 20th April
I arose after a good night's sleep about 7 in the morning and saw the Lizard Point which we were distant from about 8 miles, having made at least 80 miles since we left the Sound. This was the last sight I had of England and it soon faded from my sight. The wind continuing fair, we that had been to sea before were boasting and telling the others how they might expect to feel as the sea increased (of course excepting ourselves). In the evening, the wind changed and we were for a few hours going N.W. but it again shifted & in the morning of
Saturday 21st Lat Long
I found the ship under double-reefed topsails, lying over very much and tossing fearfully. I remained on deck till summoned below to attend to Mrs Fowles who, with Miss C, was extremely sick and ill, as were nearly all the passengers. I did not again go on deck but Mr Wright, who was not ill throughout, said the foam of the sea was studded with stars of the brightest order and the sea was fearfully rough.
Sunday 22nd April Lat Long
The fact of no one but the Captain & Mr Wright being at breakfast speaks pretty plainly as to the state of the others who did not attend. All were ill tho' not all sick. I had a very unpleasant sensation in my head like that produced by wearing a new hat very hard and tight. I felt no relish or disrelish for food. Lying down was the best thing any could do and tho' brandy and water is generally recommended, I and Mrs F found port wine & water agreed better than anything else and to keep continually nibbling hard biscuits. This was anything but a day of rest for the sailors who were engaged all the day & night, tho' it rained incessantly all the time - they were much exhausted. This was by way of giving us an idea of the Bay of Biscay which the Captain said he never crossed without experiencing rough weather, but should the wind continue fair, we may be safe out of it tomorrow.
This morning I arose and was indeed glad to find the wind had abated and the sea becoming more smooth, tho' now it was running in long and heavy swells like furrows in a field, rolling one after another. The ship was now comparatively easy and well it was, for I never felt so tired in my life. I would have given anything as Mr Wick said when going to Margate, to have stopped the ship but no, on we must go and, tired or not, still the motion must be borne, however tiresome it be. I suppose we shall get used to it in time.
It being fine and the sun shining, I got Mrs Fowles and Miss Collier on deck and by degrees got them to take a little nourishment. Mrs F fancied a little blackcurrant jam on bread and port wine negus, then I gave saline draughts made simply of soda and tart acid. Oranges also they very much liked, and all of these seemed to refresh and strengthen. Two ships were today seen, one bearing towards Lisbon or Oporto. We hoisted the ensign, which was answered by French colours. The other was an English brig going in the direction of Gibraltar, but had not a bag of signals: this we knew by their hoisting the ensign in answer to the question - What ship is that?
Tuesday 24 Lat Long W.
The sea getting more smooth and the wind fair for us, we are making rapid progress on our voyage. Saw two more sails today, but neither with signals: one was a Frenchman, the other did not answer our signal, perhaps could not make it out. It is very pleasant to meet with a ship on the trackless ocean where all looks so "inimical" to man, a vast and dreary expanse of water, undivided and on all sides unbounded, save by the sky - which in the gale seemed indeed to be mixed up with it.
Wednesday 25 Lat Long W.
We yesterday passed Oporto and are today off Lisbon, at some distance tho'. All the sick are recovered except a little girl belonging to one of the steerage passengers.
Thursday April 26 Lat 39° 50' - Long 13° 30'
The weather very fine the sun makes all feel warm and comfortable after the dreary & cold days we have had. The thermometer in the shade today 60° [15.5°C] - when we left Plymouth it was 44° [6.7°C] only. We shall feel considerable difference daily, as we are going fast to the southward
All up earlier today for we have hitherto been very lazy, lying in bed till nearly 10 o'clock. I found the deck wet with a nice shower that had just fallen; it seemed to give that freshness so delightful in England but it wanted the perfume of its flowers. The sun shines bright, the breeze is light, and we have now as yesterday the royal and royal studding sails, skysails and everything set, and gliding smoothly thro' the water at about 7 knots an hour. The sea today quite blue, a deep blue like the water that runs from the dyehouses near Stroud, but perfectly clear and transparent. The porpoises are jumping and playing round the ship in the most sportive manner, chasing each other. They can be seen at a great depth under the surface of the sea, at least 20ft, for they frequently pass under the ship from one side to the other.
At breakfast by 1/2 past 8 today - all were in their places and on the table was as usual the cold meat of the day before. This morning cold roast beef, collard beef, herrings, and eggs. New bread every day, really excellent, as sweet as ever I had at a farm house and as white as the best town bread. Our butter, which has hitherto been fresh, must now give place to salt - there is very little used of any kind. We have coffee and tea - green and black - made separate to suit all tastes - you will also remember that our cow, an Alderney, gives beautiful rich milk, which is a luxury much to be prized as not often to be met with on board ship. After breakfast, I amuse myself by reading, or playing the flute, or anything that may offer itself. The ladies with their work get on deck where, with a little of work and a good deal of talking, the time is fast beguiled and at about 1 o'clock, lunch is on the table as cold ham, pineapple[?], cheese, bread & biscuit, bottled ale & porter, wine & water, all and each as good and fine as can be bought ashore. This performance occupies some time & then we again go up on deck till dinner which, I am sorry to say, is seldom ready and on the table for us before 6 o'clock, and sometimes even later.
Our dinner today consists of a dish called pan bouch [?], a sort of hash, very excellent. Our old cook, a black man, and the steward, who has been at the first confectioner's in London, contrive to make up these fancy dishes beautifully. Roast beef was next with potatoes and broccoli; gooseberry & raspberry pies finish our repast. The desert is usually plain, indeed little variety can be presented when all the fruits must be preserved ones: that of today consisted of walnuts, prunes and preserved dates. Wine is left on the table as long as we choose to take any; fortunately for the Captain, we are all very temperate. Bottled porter, ale & cider is our dinner beverage, and from the warmth of the weather, it is ale well up and good. Tea is served at 8 or from that to 9, according as we dine late or early which latter cannot be said to have taken place yet. All the party are on deck this evening, some walking, others sitting on the hen coops talking, singing &c...
Saturday 28th Lat S. Long. W.
The breeze, which has hitherto continued steady and enabled us to hold on in the proper course, has today lulled off to almost nothing and the weather is much hotter than it has been, and I am in great fear as to what we have to expect - it is now in my cabin as hot as can be borne without suffocation.
Some of the passengers are catching the little Portuguese men-of-war as they are called. They look like a lump of blue jelly in the shape of a fish's bladder, with a cock's comb along the top. There are other things of the same nature but different shapes & colours.
The wind has fallen off in the night and this morning it was shifted from N.W to S.W., so were obliged to alter our course and thus we have made very little South. This was the first opportunity we have had of performing divine service, the first Sunday it being rough in the Downs, the next spent at Plymouth, and last Sunday in the Bay of Biscay. Mr Bishton, a clergyman, who is going out to settle in Van Diemen's Land, assisted by Mr Wright as clerk, read the service, the desk being a cask covered with the ensign - all the seamen "neat trimly dressed", as if ashore going to see each his "Poll or Bess", were ranged on the hen coops along the lee side, the passengers on the other, all made about 40. It was pleasant to see so many assembled for so important an exercise, but I fear few felt it properly and Mr B in his sermon failed to excite that lively interest which is essential to the awakening of minds obscured by the darkness of sin. It was his first attempt, and therefore excuses should be made accordingly, but I do not consider him a spiritualized and regenerate being.
After service we retired to lunch (into the cabin) and afterwards spent the afternoon reading the sermons of our dear Mr Jay; how I wish I could this evening fill that place which I have for some time in his chapel - this is a blessing we shall miss very much.
The wind still foul as the sailors call it, that is contrary, it blows from the point we wish to go, so we are compelled to make way to the North and are of course thereby getting nearer England. We have also a heavy head sea which has again disturbed the stomach of many of the passengers and made them very sick and ill - my head feels very stupid.
Tuesday 1st May Lat 33°.30' Long 15°.20'
Today we ran to the Lat 34.35 Long 16° and then put about, the wind being a little more fair, enabling us to run S.E.
Wednesday 2nd Lat 32°.20' Long 14°.40
We have since yesterday run a good deal to the eastward and passed Madeira at about 8 miles distance so we could not see it as expected. The wind again becoming unfair, we were put about and her head to the N.W. with a very unpleasant swell.
Dinner today - fresh salmon, as good as ever was eaten at Chepstow. It is secured in tin cases, the air pumped out and soldered up airtight. Each case contains 2lb without bones. Roast and boiled mutton & apple fritters.
Thursday 3rd Lat Long
The wind continues variable & squally - The Captain says this indicates a change of wind, and true it was so far in the afternoon a severe squall came on laying the ship's side over nearly under water - instantly all was bustle & confusion - "Lower away the topgallant halyards & haul at the clew lines. Pull away there, you lubbers," shouted the Captain, and in an instant the yards were lowered and the corners of the sails up to the centre of the yard, the yards manned and, in as little time as I have taken in writing this, the topgallant sails were furled and snug as they call it. Again, as the squall seemed likely to last, was heard the Captain who (tho' with an excellent voice could not be heard for the whistling of the wind in the rigging and the roar of the sea) had now seized the speaking trumpet and shouted "Put the helm hard up there! Let go the main topsail halyard!" This done, "Haul in the jib there!" and the jib was in. "Man the main topsail yards and take in two snug reefs!" & the men in a crowd pressed up the rigging and the yard was covered with men who in a few minutes had securely reefed the topsail, tho' the rain poured down all the time in torrents.
By this time all the men were again upon the deck; the wind abated, and also had shifted round so that after the squall which had frightened all below had passed, the wind was fair and her head again toward the Southward.
Friday 4th Lat 30°.50' Long 16°.0'
The wind fair this morning, being right behind us, our top mast topgallant and royal studding sails all set, as well as the skysail, and we smoothly glided thro' the water. The awning is spread over the quarter deck and the passengers are all trying to catch 'boneta', a fish about the size of a salmon.
A delightful evening, all in excellent spirits. Mrs F, Miss C and all on deck, their sufferings past forgotten and nothing now was wanted to make us happy. Mr Alger playing on the violin, myself on the flute and others singing &c. The moon shines bright and tho' the breeze is scarcely perceptible, yet we are by no means too warm.
Saturday May 5th Lat 29° Long -
Arose at 7, found upon going on deck a sail in sight at about 10 miles ahead on the larboard bow.
At about 8, we perceived land on the same bow - very indistinct, almost like a cloud - indeed had I not been told it was land, I do not think I should have noticed it, but as the day advanced, the clouds cleared away and [it] became more distinct, and at 9 AM I took the first sketch of the land, which proved to be Palma, the most westerly of the Canary Islands. The Captain thought he could discern the Peak of Teneriffe but if he did, it must have been at least 90 miles off, as we are now about 40 miles from Palma. When the first sketch was taken, the lower part of the Island was very indistinct but the outline of that part above the clouds was more distinct, and near the summit I can perceive streams of water running down. This I found afterwards looked more like snow left in patches after a thaw. In the afternoon, the sail seen in the morning had got nearly out of sight and we had become abreast of the Island from which I took the second sketch - it now appeared very barren in the lower part and as if marked by great torrents of rain as it seemed all in chasms. The very summit was generally covered with clouds but when it did clear away, I could see trees upon it, which must have been immense as we were not less than 25 miles from it.
Mrs Wright was this evening remarking how soon we grow accustomed to the circumstances in which we are placed and altho' she is at least 60 and must find difficulties where younger persons would not, she says she feels not the slightest apprehension of danger, even when a fresh breeze is blowing; and it scarcely occurs to us that we are in a ship, everything being so comfortable we know no want of any necessary, scarcely of any luxury, I may say, for our table is at all times well supplied.
This evening all on deck as usual taking our walk, for in the day the sun has sufficient power to prevent us taking much exercise during the day.
Sunday May 6th Lat 27°.37' Long 18°.40'
The morning quite clear and the wind still fair. We again had service upon the deck. Old cook taken ill, unable to attend to his duty - bled him and prescribed for him.
Monday May 7th Lat 25°.50' Long 19°.50'
The morning gave the cook medicine and by 2 PM he was able to attend to his duty. One of the seamen cut his hand severely. Almost a calm, scarcely a breath of air to be felt, the ship of course making little or no progress thro' the water, the sails hang loosely, flapping against the masts with the roll of the ship and there is such a spirit of laziness, or rather no spirit, in every body & thing. The sea beautifully bright in the clear moonlight, the waves casting a deep shade in places, which throws up the silvery light parts and gives an increased brightness to it.
Tuesday May 8th Lat 24°.47' Long 20°.18'
The wind continues fair but very light. The vessel scarcely going 1 knot & the thermometer 78° [25.5°C] in the shade and yet it does not affect us so much as might be expected, having so suddenly changed our climate; there is always a fresh breeze off the sea.
Wednesday 9th Lat 22°.44' Long 20°.40'
Today more fresh than yesterday and if it continues for 3 days as it now is, we shall be at anchor in St Jago's where we are to take in water &c...
Thursday 10th Lat 20°. 22' Long 21°.24'
In the night two small fish called "squidd" or Ink fish from having a small bag containing a black fluid and possessing the power of ejecting into the water when pursued, thereby rendering the water for some distance round quite thick and black. They also leap out of the water to a great height (as they must have done to jump on board), when closely pursued - its head is detached from the outer part of the body which is a kind of cartilage and is fixed like that of the tortoise bone [home?] & I shall here give a sketch of one, about the size of the smallest of the two taken. [Sketch of poor quality: see bottom of sample page attached.] There is another kind of squidd, forming the principal food of the sperm whale and growing to an immense size, nearly as large as the whale itself.
The flying fish are very numerous, springing out of the water in shoals and flying like swallows over the surface of the sea. The sea tonight was very phosphorescent. It looks like glow worms passing the ship's side in numbers - sometimes they are much larger. The sun today was over our heads nearly in a perpendicular line and standing erect your shadow is covered. The attitude at noon today being 87°. The awning is spread over the deck every morning. The decks being washed, they remain cool all day, indeed I have not yet felt the heat at all oppressive.
Friday May 11th Lat 18°.16 Long 22°.37
This has been a delightful day, the breeze fresh, and we are cracking on so that by night we may expect to see the Island of Sal, the northernmost of the Cape de Verde. At 5 PM a sail was seen at about 10 miles on the starboard side steering toward us.
At 6 I hoisted the Ensign but was not answered and they were bearing down to speak us. At 1/2 past 6 she was ahead of us, lying to. You can scarcely imagine the interest excited by the prospect of speaking a ship from England. Various were the opinions about her. Mrs Lister, who paints everything in its worst colours and is determined not to enjoy anything, said it was not unlikely it might be a pirate, as these islands are much infested by them and afterwards she thought we should run foul of her.
The Captain now took his trumpet and got into the whale boat at the ship's side and gave his commands, as all commands are given, in a gruff hoarse voice. "Let go the skysail halyards!" "Aye, aye, sir!" - and the yard was lowered down to the Royal yard. "Stand by and take a pull at the starboard main brace, ease off the weather brace there!", and the yard which was before squared was now braced up close. "Helm starboard!" shouted the Captain loud enough to make you jump. "Starboard 'tis!" said the man at the wheel. Now "Haul away at the lower studding sail triping line!" and the corner of a large sail hanging over the side of the ship was instantly hauled up close to the yardarm enabling the Captain to see the vessel which we were now nearing, it having crossed our head was on the starboard bow. "Let go the royal studding sail halyards and haul in the down haul! Steady Helm!" "Steady 'tis!" said the man. "Starboard!" & again "Hard Starboard!" & before the words were well out of his mouth he again shouts "Mind your post helm!" - "Aye, aye, sir!" "Luff you may!" says the Captain. "Luff 'tis" says the man. These commands all being executed, we were now alongside of the stranger and as it was now very dark we could at first only discern the lights on board of her.
The Passengers were now all upon the deck ranged on the hen coops or anything to enable them to see over the bulwarks. I stood in the boat with the Captain and as we came alongside, the Captain shouted "Ship ahoy!" lengthening out the last word to almost 1/2 mile "as Jonathan would say". This was answered by the other Captain, "Ahoy there!" Captain Lister then shouted "What ship is that?" Which was answered twice in so unintelligible a manner that we were all conjecturing what it was. Many agreed it was John Thomson, which made us all laugh as at dinner we were reciting Matthew's description of speaking a ship, which he relates as follows: What ship's that? The John Thomson! Where bound? Boston! What is your Captain's name? Thomson! Your owners? Thomson & Co.! Have you any passengers? Yes, one lady. What is her name? Thomson. This answer therefore from the ship now passing of course led us to expect we had met with the very John Thompson - we all laughed and the Captain was some minutes before he could again. The Captain of the other ship now asked our name & was answered and also Where bound? Sydney! Captain Lister then said Where are you from? Liverpool - but last from Madeira! How long out? 8 days from Madeira - Where are you bound? Island of Mayo! What is your Longitude? 22°.53' West - I make mine 22°.54' said Captain Lister - Did you sight Palma asked the stranger? Yes on Saturday, answered Lister, and found my chronometer very correct - We passed it on Sunday - How long are you out? asked the stranger. 21 days from Plymouth - Have you any passengers aboard? Yes, full. I shall touch at St Jago's for water, answered Lister. Do you go the East or West of Sal and how do you intend to steer? Sou' sou' west, 3/4 west. I shall run down Sal and when I make it I shall make up my mind according as the wind may be. It is very variable round the islands - Were you in Sydney last year? asked he. Yes, said Lister - Then I was aboard you there. I was then in the Columbia - I suppose you have heard she is since lost? Yes, said Lister, who now recollected the man he was speaking to. What did you say your ship's name was again? asked Lister, as we were now much nearer, not being more than 30 yards off. The John Copp, said he. You seem running very light, said Captain Lister. Yes I am only in ballast trim. - I think we shall have a fair night, said Captain Lister. Yes I think so too, said he. - I make my Latitude 17°.38' says Lister. - Mine is the same, says he. I wish you Good night and a pleasant voyage, said the stranger. The same to you, said Captain Lister and then, the ships being put into their proper courses, we soon parted. Everyone was satisfied with the interview and in the night the vessel had a beautiful appearance with all her sails set. She was a barque of 235 Tons which I omitted in the conversation. We now retired to tea in the cabin after which, the moon having risen, all went upon deck to walk and I remain below to log this.
By 2 AM the Captain who was up all night told me he first sighted Sal and when I came on deck at 7 we were passed to the Southward of it. I took a sketch of it however - it looked like several hay cocks in the distance. The wind was now very fresh and we were going at 9 knots - beautifully.
At 10 o'clock I could see Bonavista. The coast outline was very rough and interesting but we were not near enough to give better sketch than the annexed.
At 12 from the masthead breakers on the Leton rock were seen at about 10 miles distant. At 3 the North Point of Mayo was visible as well as that of St Jago, the latter being very indistinct from its great distance. The north point of Mayo stretches out just above the water, 3 miles, and looks like a bank of white sand - many vessels have been wrecked here. The headland being bluff and high, as indeed the whole of the coast, appears and also most of the heights are in the shape of a cone and appear desolate of vegetation. At the foot of Mayo were seen what appeared to be a grove of trees upon the shore but proved to be coral rocks above the sea sand which was here quite white - we continued sailing on along the coast at about 5 miles off till 4 o'clock, hoping to make St Jago before dark, as the moon did not rise till 11 o'clock and here are many dangerous rocks upon the coast. When we got to the southward, we could see off Mayo, the ship we had spoken the night before, I should think at 12 miles distant. The night came on more suddenly than we expected and we were not clear of the south east point of St Jago and the town of Praya is to the Southward of the Island and as it was now dark, the Captain determined to lay to till the day light came that is neither to one way or another.
I rose at 1/2 past 5 and found the land on the starboard side. We were close to the wind on the starboard tack. The land looked brown and dry, not the slightest appearance of vegetation except now and then in small bays where the sea plants flourished.
As we rounded the next point the Captain asked me the bearing of the battery - I looked, but could not find it, so I asked him where it was, when pointing to a flagstaff leaning over the side of the cliff near it, what had been a battery but now a heap of limestones and 5 cannon dismounted.
A little further on and I could see a vessel lying at anchor with colours flying and as we proceeded the bay opened more and more fully, displaying several vessels all having their colours hoisted. Behind, or rather beyond, this was the town of Praya and over it was seen the summit of an immense mountain and from the distance it was off could not be less than 10,000 feet above the level of the sea, its very top was above the clouds. I shall give a sketch of the town bay and hills on the next page.
On the rocks facing the town was placed behind a demolished wall a row of cannon and, just by way of showing their consequence, one of them was fired at us as we entered the bay and had just dropped anchor without hoisting the Ensign. It was soon up and I could then see the Union Jack flying from a flagstaff in the town - the second from the left hand in the sketch. It was at the house of the British Consul. Upon seeing this, we hoisted the number of the ship, which gave him her name directly.
Here for the first time I was close to land in the tropics and it had a striking appearance - the rugged outline of the hills, the extreme barrenness of the soil - the beggarly appearance of the fortification (query) just passed, as well as the town ahead, which looked all in a state of ruin - the few cocoa nut trees growing in the vale to the left of the Custom House - all were novelties to me & whatever may be the effect on other minds who seem to extol everything foreign above English & England, it has a different effect on me, for it makes the remembrance of our "verdant fields and fertile plains" more dear and beautiful.
Floating over our heads were numbers of birds such as Hawks or rather Eagles by their size and many other of different kinds and such as I never have seen before.
I kept a look out for the shore, the Captain expecting the Consul would send off his boat to invite us ashore, as it is the usual custom. At about 8 o'clock, a boat bearing the Portuguese colours put off to us and in a few minutes was alongside. It was manned by a lot of ragged looking wretches - convicts, I believe, as this is a penal settlement for Portugal. There was an officer onboard whose clothes, like the fortification before mentioned, was worn out in the service of the Country and which was in too poor a state to replace with new. This worthy did not speak English so he brought with him an old black man as interpreter who was dressed in a suit of clothes large enough to contain two such men, being himself quite an apology for a man - a thing so spare, so thin I scarcely ever saw. He took care to wear a clean shirt that day with wristbands so wide as to cover his hands completely. His head was covered with a hat (silk) that had been black but now, being so often used to put off to ships in the bay, had become so red and being never brushed it was what in England would be called a "Shocking bad hat".
After inquiring if we were sick and what was the object of our visit he came on board and, after satisfying himself, he left a custom house officer onboard and left us. At 12 o'clock, the whale boat was lowered and manned as they call it by the same crew we had in constant employ while in Plymouth and were now become very expert good rowers. All were dressed alike with white trousers & jackets and little straw hats bound with a black ribbon - they looked very well. The Captain, Mr Wright and myself then took our places in the boat and we were soon under weigh. As there was so much surf on the beach, we were obliged to go to the usual landing on the rocks, which is nevertheless attended with considerable danger, especially to nervous hesitating persons. We arrived at the rock; the boat's bows were in an instant above and in another instant sunk to 10 ft beneath the rock.
This required decision and promptness to land in safety. The Captain therefore, as the boat again rose to a level with the rock, sprang upon it. The next was followed by myself and then Mr Wright. We were now on a small portion of the rock detached from the shore and as the water rose was nearly covered, scarcely leaving a square yard for us to stand upon dry. When the water subsided, we leaped across the channel of about 6 ft and ran ashore over the rocks. A lady who would go ashore with a party from a ship about 2 years before, in attempting to leap, did it at the moment the wave was rising and was swept away and never seen again.
Upon landing, we found a family of the native blacks quite naked sitting on the sand, also a man with soldier's blue jacket and a ragged pair of trousers, standing on guard with a club about 4 ft long in his hand, or rather resting upon it, his musket and cartridge pouch lying on a rock by him. Under the rock in a sort of cave washed by the sea was a woman asleep, perhaps the wife of the Centinal [sentinel]. We now cleared the rocks and arrived at the small beach of sand. Here the rays of the sun fell upon us and the land breeze came like that from a furnace, scorching, insufferably hot. We could with difficulty breathe. I never felt the air so oppressively hot. On our right hand was a plot of land enclosed by a new built wall: here were many cocoa nut trees and others. We thought it was a burial ground but found afterwards it was intended as a garden but not yet brought into cultivation. On this little beach were growing in a wild state, as common as furze in England, Aloes some 10 ft high. I broke a leaf of one and the juice was quite brown and tasted exactly like the Socotrine Aloes.
We now climbed up the hill, at the top of which stood the town, which had a very beggarly appearance, the windows having no glass, but boarded shutters. Scarcely any of the houses had more than 1 floor, which is raised about a yard above the ground outside. There is seldom any step at the door, so they have to step up a yard at a stretch. In the doors were sitting several women nearly naked, nursing infants quite so. After passing several streets regularly built of huts containing only 1 room in each, thatched with leaves of the bananahs, we arrived at the house of the British Consul, almost exhausted by the excessive heat.
We were now showed into a large parlour where towards the sun it was shaded with Venetian Blinds outside and all the doors & windows open. It of course felt delightfully cool; we remained here a short time and after the ship's business had been gone thro', we were ushered upstairs into a large dining room adjoining which, with folding doors, was a drawing room covered with [a] large Turkey carpet and well furnished quite in the English style. We took some refreshment, being attended by a little black boy and a girl about 16, slaves. We had our water served in a vessel peculiar to the Island made of coarse earthenware of this shape. [Small sketch.]
Mr Barker the Consul, a little man of about 35, has been in the Colony & Islands 14 years. He has married a native, the daughter of a rich man there. She is nearly as fair as our English women and is indeed very good looking. She spoke French and Portuguese, but not English. She did not wear any stays. He told us his reasons for marrying her were that an English woman could not live there 12 months, and besides with the woman he acquired knowledge of parties he could not do in any other way. Indeed he said that thro' her, he derived information of conspiracies & plots which as a single individual he could never have found out. He seemed to have considerable attachment for her.
We dined with him and had a pigshead boiled and served in rice, indeed covered up so as not to be seen, a dish of greens and another part of pork and also a kind of currie. The greens are the leaves of the cassava and eat very like spinach. The root was also boiled and to appearance very like parsnip, but not so good to eat, being stringy and hard. This is the plant from which Tapioca is made and it is extremely remarkable that the whole of the plant is a deadly poison but when dressed its poisonous properties are completely destroyed, I suppose by the heat. We were informed that the cause of all the colours flying in the bay was the arrival of a new constitution from Portugal which was that day to be sworn to by all the authorities in the Island, at the House of Assembly in great form. To see this therefore we were induced to stay ashore longer than otherwise we should have done.
Opposite the house of the Consul was a hut as before described. In it was a linen draper's shop, where was also visible little brass ornaments in a conspicuous place, as if to catch the eye of the admiring blacks. Next door was another shop, a grog shop it appeared, as the sailors had got seated therein very soon after our arrival and were now singing away while one of the natives was playing on a guitar of very humble construction and very stringy strings, making a most miserable & discordant sound. We went into the former shop (for this was a general dealer) to purchase coffee, chocolate, turkeys, jugs, Indian corn for ditto, pine apples, pumpkins, sugar and sugar cane. I need not have noticed this as a general dealer for I think any one after reading the above would have been satisfied of the fact without my assertion.
Adjoining the house of the general dealer on the other side was the Barracks, a rude and rough unfinished looking building, of rough stone and at the entrance were standing 2 sentinels of the same character & description as the one we met with on the beach. Near them was standing several others and one of the sentinels was apparently showing them how a musket went off, and the manner in which he handled his piece told me clearly that he had never seen one discharged: he put the muzzle to the ground and the stock to his shoulder and with one hand pulled the cock back and with the other the trigger. I expected the gun would burst, but the consul said they were never trusted with ammunition or they would shoot each other, so these sentinels may be supposed very harmless creatures.
In preparation for the grand affair of the day, all the troops were to be collected & after a flourish on the bugles, the band consisting of 2 pipers 2 drummers & 1 drum major paraded the town making the most discordant sounds ever heard. When opposite the Barracks, they were formed into a line - what a line!!!! And then the drum major proceeded to examine their dresses as particularly as a file of the Guards in England would be. It was truly ridiculous: of these four only one had shoes - 2 had light, 1 dark & 1 russet coloured trousers - 1 had a light jacket like a footman's, striped - the others wore 3 blue jackets but not at all like a soldier's. The music of these worthies had its desired effect of assembling the whole corps, about 50 or 60, and the above description will hold good for the rest. They were drilled by a fierce looking officer, rather well dressed and he spared no stripes on the legs and backs of these unfortunate awkward youths. These were then in regular form marched to the Governor's house.
We then went into the hall where all the Colonial business is transacted, and here were assembled all the officers of the Government: the Governor - a fine Soldier looking man, rather grey; the Judge - young handsome man with his robes; the Padre or Priest, who sat at the upper end of the room with the Bible open before him - and after reading a portion of it, they all, commencing with the Governor, walked up to him, took him by the right hand, looked him in the face and pledged themselves to support the new constitution, which had been read before we arrived. The sight was very interesting - all being dressed in their best and looked very fine. One of the officers in full uniform with a very broad band of gold lace down his trousers, a splendid sword and rich gold epaulets, came up to the Consul and spoke to him, when I recognised his face as that of our "general dealer" into whose shop we had been in the morning. The consul told me he was one of the richest men in the Island, having really excellent property. He was also the French Consul, and in his uniform, he looked a very soldier like man.
The floor of this hall, which was board, was covered with sand from the sea shore, looking like powdered cinders, so black and dirty. We were obliged to hurry away before the ceremony was ended as here the night sets in directly the sun is down, there being no twilight. We got on board safely, tho' it was much more difficult getting into than out of the boat. One of the lads while waiting for us on the beach had quarrelled with the sentinel and had given him a good English thrashing. During the day, the dock was covered with the natives selling their fruits such as cocoa nuts, bananahs, pine apples, guavas, oranges, lemons, limes, tamarinds - they had also eggs, poultry, spirits and wines. They were more anxious to exchange for old clothes, especially black or blue cloth clothes, than to sell for money, so we got whatever was worthless and exchanged it away, everyone having well supplied themselves with fruits.
Monday 14 May
This morning the docks were again thronged with fellows ready to barter and I made my purchases, amounting altogether to 150 oranges, 140 eggs, 6 pine apples, 24 lemons, 4 cocoa nuts and a hat made of some kind of grass in the manner of leghorn, without a seam. They gave me 100 oranges + 2 cocoa nuts for 1 checque shirt which when new cost me 2/6, and also the hat and 2 pineapples for an old pair of linen trousers. Mr Smith, the 2nd Mate, for an old blue frock coat, the flap of which had been torn off - 1 Sovereign, 3 doz eggs and 100 oranges, and a basket, - a very good exchange. The Captain got several turkeys, pigs, & poultry for some of his old clothes & slops.
We again went ashore today and Mr Wright, Mr Alger and myself went into the garden below the town on the North Side. Here were growing the plantain, tamarind, cocoa nut and vines in a very flourishing state. The plantain shoots out in the centre perpendicularly a leaf rolled up like a quire of foolscap or whited brown paper - about 2 inches in diameter and 2 to 3 ft long. It remains thus till another shoots up within it and the former one then expands and grows to an immense size. I have seen them 10 or 12 ft long and 2 ft wide each leaf and the tree is thus formed of a number of these leaves. The leaf at first opened is a pale green colour, as smooth as satin and crossed from the centre with ribs - the older leaves are darker coloured and most of them split into ribbons between the ribs by the motion of the wind. The Tamarind is a nice tree, as large as an apple tree with a round bushy head and the leaf like that of the acacia and having also thorns upon like the acacia.
In this garden was a fine well of water about 10 ft in diameter and not more than 15 to the surface of the water. It was drawn up by a very rude process, a series of earthernware cups, each holding about a quart, tied to a rope passed over a wheel at the top and bottom. When they come to the top, the water falls out into a trough which conducts it into a cistern from whence the water casks are filled & carried into town by slaves, many of whom we saw toiling in the scorching sun with a jug of water about 9 gals upon their back.
We returned to the Consul's, took some refreshments and afterwards several sketches of the town, which I here insert and after getting to the ship we were once more under weigh. The night was fine and the wind fair and by 10 o'clock we were out of sight of land and before morning many of the passengers were again sea sick. I employed myself all the evening in stowing away all my fruit &c, which I managed so well as to prevent their bruising.
One thing we remarked on in Praya was that they had no chimneys to their houses but had a kitchen detached and even here the fire is made in the place and smoke finds its way between the tiles.
We took in a great quantity of water and as the men pulled the casks up the side of the ship they make light work of it by singing - one man usually sings the song and the rest join in the chorus.
Tuesday May 15th
The freshness of the sea air today was delightful after the oppressive heat of the land yesterday and the ship is getting on well to the southward - all sick again. Mrs Lister as usual first & worst. Thermometer 80° [26.7°C] in the shade: took saline draughts which relieved my head ache.
The heat sensibly increasing as we are rapidly approaching the line. Every one seems oppressed by it. I feel extreme lassitude. The wind continues fair and the ship still on her proper course.
Still hot and yet the breeze is refreshing, especially in the evening when all are upon the deck walking and singing &c. Expecting to lose the N.E. & get the S.E. trade winds - every day now.
Friday May 18th Lat 6°.56 Long W 20°.0
Wind lighter and the weather more intensely hot, the thermometer 88° [31°C] in the shade. Awful and sublime lightning this evening, the whole sky illuminated with it - not, as at home, in flashes but like a sheet of fire covering the sea & heavens.
Cloudy sultry day. No observation of the sun; the N.E. trade lost and we are becalmed. In the evening, a sudden and violent squall came on and as usually is the case, all sails were set for a light wind and we were in an instant on her side, almost capsized, but by prompt attention of the Captain who was upon the deck at the time, she was soon got right. Afore the wind & her sails furled, we were scudding away the rest of the evening, hoping however we had got the S.E. trades as a change of wind is generally preceded by a squall. This evening the sea was like a silver sea. The water being very luminous, the bows of the ship seemed to be cutting thro' molten silver and the tops of the waves as they broke by the violence of the gale looked altogether as if the ocean was trying to vie with the splendour of the atmosphere which was this evening very beautiful but a great distance from us.
Sunday 20th Lat 6°.15 Long 19°.40 W
A perfect calm and the suns rays fall on us unbroken by a cloud or anything. Really scorching hot. Mr Bishton again performed divine service.
Calm still, very unpleasant: all anxiously desiring a fair wind that we may be going on our way, for then the feeling we are passing thro' it assures us of an end. Some ships have been becalmed near the line for 6 weeks. It is also attended by great dangers from the gales, or rather squalls. This evening a dreadful one came just as we were sitting down to dinner. I walked to the ship's side to look over at the beautifully luminous sea and was in the act of putting my hands on the bulwarks to lean over when in an instant the squall came. The side was so driven down by the violence of it that where I should have put my hands was now covered with the sea and I should have been lost - but how I did it, I know not, for I threw myself backwards and escaped a watery grave. After the squall, we had very heavy rain and thunder and lightning during all this weather, so bad that the Captain could not leave his deck. The ladies were all enjoying their dinners as much as if they had been ashore, in fact not thinking at all about it. A ship seen today about 10 miles off.
Tuesday May 22nd
A little wind today but fair and should it continue it will soon carry us into the expected trade wind. Saw some large fishes, loaded my rifle with a ball, shot one but not enough to kill it.
Wednesday 23 -
As yesterday. The sea looks white in the sun shine.
Nothing new. Still scorching hot. A sail to leeward, perhaps the same we saw Monday.
Friday 25 -
Nice showers of rain today cooled us beautifully. I caught a bucket full. It was quite a treat to wash in, for tho' we are not limited in our supply, yet it is very hard for washing. The breeze that follows the showers too is delightfully refreshing and reminds me of England, tho' we want the perfume of the gardens, which are by this in full bloom - how delightful - but the best way to be happy is to think of the mercies we possess and not those we cannot get. So by looking at Mrs Lister's solitary geranium which is in blossom and on my rich pineapples and the other fruit from St Jago's I make myself contented.
The sail seen Thursday again seen to the leeward. In the evening, a barque to windward on the same tack as ourselves - we made signals to her, but was not answered.
I have been several days laid up with a cold and sore throat which prevents my taking sufficient nourishment to make up for the great loss by perspiration. I feel therefore extremely weak.
This morning I was awoke by being told the ship seen to leeward was making to us and would be near enough for to breakfast on board by 9 o'clock. I was soon upon deck and found her about 1 mile astern but very light and making up to us very fast. I called Mrs Fowles & Miss Collier up. I could distinctly see the men on board her looking at us. I expected there would be time to get breakfast before she could overtake us, so down I went but before I had half done, Mr Smith announced that she was on the lee quarter and had hoisted Dutch Colours.
We all rushed upon deck when the Captain asked what ship, but the answer we could not make out. She was bound to Batavia from Rotterdam, out 38 days. She now put up her helm and filling her sails, she walked away from us gallantly and before night had disappeared in the distance. We saw her name on the stern "King of the Netherlands".
Monday 28th May
The vessel seen so many times lately at some distance was this morning in our wake 2 or 3 miles astern with all her studding sails set and appeared to be fast gaining on us (we had not studding sails set), so the Captain thought she wished to speak us. He accordingly luffed up closer into the wind and at about 2 PM she was alongside. We had been talking to the Captain and laughing that every sail seen had passed us and this was doing the same. It put him on his metal [mettle] and he ordered all the studding sail booms to be rigged out, determined to have a try for it.
The Vessel was hailed with "What ship is that?", which was repeated as we could not exactly make out, but understood it to be the Adam of Boston out 39 days, long 23°.56 West. He said there was a strong tide setting to the westward which had carried her 60 miles to westward in the last 24 hours. They were bound for Calcutta touching at the Cape. We wished them all the compliments usual on such occasions and then spreading our studding sails, walked away from her gallantly. Before night we had nearly lost him in the horizon. Miss C had a violent attack of hysterics which much alarmed all.
Tuesday 29th May
No oak apples to be got at any price. Emily weakly from her attack but much recovered. The night has been very sultry and close, a light breeze from the Southward, however, makes it rather cooler. We now sleep with the cabin doors all open and no covering upon us and even then it is insufferably hot. When we left England we could bear the doors shut and two blankets upon us. It is amusing in the morning to hear the different reports: some are baked, others boiled, some stewed. Mr Bishton, determined never to be outdone, says he is quite cold, while Mrs B says it is so hot she cannot sleep by night, so she lies in all day to make up for it.
Wednesday 30th lat 1°.15' South long 25°.45'
The breeze continues fresh and at about 11 o'clock last night we crossed the line. It is on board most ships (or rather was, for it is almost out of use now) a custom the seamen have of shaving all who have not before crossed the line. A man dressed in a very grotesque attire with long beard and trident ascends the ship's side and comes on board, announces himself as Neptune, and demands his fee. He enquires after his wife, who is supposed to be on board and how his children are, and that all his new born (such as have not before crossed the line) be brought up to him. He then orders them to be shaved and made tidy. They are then besmeared with tar, rolled in feathers & then thrown overboard or into water and finished by having it scraped off with an old piece of hoop iron = this is the shaving. To avoid this, it is usual to pay a fine and accordingly a subscription was raised in the cabin for the men when they go ashore.
We have now been from Plymouth 40 days and the Captain has crossed it in this ship in 28 days. It is frequently done in the large Indiamen in 21 but I believe they consider it good in a month, so variable are the winds between the trades that it is quite a matter of uncertainty. By the old logs I perceive it is about 10 weeks' voyage hence to Sydney, but the Captain says as it will be the winter season from the Cape, the winds will in all probability be strong and we may expect a quick passage.
Seven weeks today we came on board and we are still in the same state of expectation; such is life, the past is soon forgotten, the present little thought of and the future is to us big with everything.
Friday June 1st Lat 5°.5 S Long 28°.30 W
We have had a fine run the last 24 hours, the wind being fresh and squally in the night. The Yankee in sight today some miles to windward, her fore royal & top gallant sails in. Suppose she has received some injury in the squalls. Up again by noon and, we being close on the wind, made up to her. We passed astern of her and saw her name, "Brighton of Boston" instead of Adam. We left her behind again today; the only wonder is how she contrived to make up to us.
The flying fish are very numerous, they look like swallows skimming the surface & occasionally touching the water. They fly at times a great distance - 200 yards I should say, tho' some on shore say they only leap. I have seen some leap on board about the size of a mackerel, which they much resemble with a pair of fins like wings extending about 1/2 the length of the fish. I noticed a large bird nearly over the sky called a booby and in the afternoon saw at a distance a large flock of them. It is astonishing at how great a distance from land birds are found and with what ease they appear to fly incessantly.
Saturday 2nd Lat
The South East trade continues fresh and we are going about 7 knots tho' close hauled. The Yankee again seen on our lee bow and at night astern again, having passed her. I was today thinking how perfectly I had become accustomed to the ship's motion which at the commencement of the voyage was the source of so much uneasiness. I then thought oh! What would I give for one hour's stillness - and realized what I have often laughed at in a song: the request of the lady that the Captain would stop the ship. I grew so tired being unable to sleep I then lay down to try to sleep but the continued motion would not allow me and whatever weather there might be, still there is motion, even in a calm. I think it more disagreeable than any other, especially when it comes as it sometimes does after a brisk wind which leaves a great swell on and, the ship having no wind to press her side steadily down, she rolls from one side to the other fearfully. Ships have been known to lose their masts by the rolling in a calm. When the wind is right aft it causes the ship to roll and when in bed you expect every minute to roll out, your bed having the same motion as a child's cradle. Sometimes and indeed always when sailing upon a wind (that is, when the wind is before us), the ship pitches, her head rises and falls, and as we have found the wind to be generally ahead, we have almost continually had the pitching. I should advise friends taking a voyage always to choose their cabin as near the centre of the vessel as possible, thereby avoiding much of the motion felt in the stern cabins. When the breeze is fresh, the motion is short and the vessel seems thumping against a rock or something solid, which gives a sort of tremulous motion. Like a drunken man running against a wall, she stands as if astonished and then, with a long step, off she goes bouncing along till she again meets another obstacle.
Sunday June 3rd Lat 9°.41' S Long W
The morning fine & breeze fresh - The sea rolling in from the S.E. very heavy - the motion of the ship very great, but she rides over it as light as a duck. I have been out on the jib boom (the outer bowsprit) and it is pleasant to see her head now diving into the waves and then bounding up over them, bursting the spray away from the bows in the most beautiful white foam, like the clouds for softness.
Ahead of the Yankee today, altho' she is carrying more canvas than we are. At noon a violent squall and rain obliged Mr Bishton to omit his sermon and the passengers to run below for shelter. It continued showery all day & in the afternoon the fore backstay gave way, the fore topgallant sail & flying jib were soon hauled in, and all hands employed in the repair, which was soon effected and all sail again set, except the fore topmast stern sail & main royal, the halyards of which had been carried away in the squall.
Monday 4th Lat 11°.45' S Long 31°.11' W
Mrs Fowles very poorly today from a cold taken. The cold during the squalls is very great and coming so suddenly after as great heat gives many colds. If our wind continues, we hope to clear the Cape in three weeks, tho' the wind is still contrary, being nearly due South & we are consequently going too much to the westward - we shall see Trindad next.
We have lost the Yankee in the squalls last night but whether ahead or not, can't say, it is likely ahead for we were obliged to have two reefs in the topsails for the night. All hands employed today setting up rigging and stowing away things tight on the deck - this looks like preparation for rough weather.
Tuesday 5th June lat 13°.26' S Long 31°.30'
This is a fine day, all the passengers are reading Scott's novels. I am reading Kenilworth. We already begin to find a change of temperature today, 74°[23°C]. I must say I have been agreeably deceived in the manner in which we pass our time. The monotony being in a great measure destroyed by the number of passengers and the pretty good terms we are in with all. At 6 this evening, a sail on the weather quarter about 10 miles off, steering to the N.W.
Wednesday 6th June lat 15°.29' long 31°.35'
Time flies rapidly, which is a pretty clear sign it passes pleasantly.
Thursday 7th 17°.44'
Nine weeks today since we left London. Scarcely any wind today, tho' a stiff breeze in the night. Finished Kenilworth today. Mrs F reading Waverly, Emily Rob Roy.
I will now commence my description of the passengers, which I have for some time neglected and indeed I have felt so indisposed so as not to have the slightest inclination to writing, reading or anything except strolling about the deck or up the rigging to look out for a sail.
Mr Hindson was the first to whom I was introduced. I met him in the St. Katherine's docks on board the ship, and altho' a youth of only 19, he is the most difficult character to fathom on board. He seldom opens his lips except you speak to him, and then he seems not to have heard as he stares vacantly and unintelligibly and nine times out of ten makes no reply. He is a native of Cumberland and seems to have borrowed much of the reserve so conspicuous in the Scotch character. This is perhaps caused by his having been in a Banking house for some time, where silence is of great importance - and he is remarkably well adapted for it. You would think him stupid, but if he does speak it is generally to the point & shows that he is not quite so heedless an observer as you would imagine.
In person he is tall & raw boned; his features are good and regular, rather inclined to be carrotty.
He is fond of music & reading, of plays &c, but by no means an admirer of the fair sex: he never pays them the least attention. At the table, he is rather ill-mannered; he never takes wine with any but the mate, except when he is challenged, and he never offers to assist any one to vegetables but himself, and if he wishes anything he shoves his plate into your hand and says "I'll take so & so", without any other remark, and as he sits on my right hand he sometimes to avoid even the trouble of speaking so much, takes the carving knife and would help himself, did I not stop him - and he does not take it to be rude doing so.
He bears everything with the same tame spirit; if the soup is upset over him or a cup of tea or anything else, he makes no remark but looks rather blue [?] and the swinging tray is frequently cleared of everything in a shower over him by his putting his head against it and preventing its keeping to perpendicular - yet this does not teach him to avoid doing so, as he has had it happen frequently.
Friday 8 June Lat 19°.10 S Long 32°.23
The Wind has fallen off to a calm and the sea is so smooth that we are scarcely sensible of any motion whatever. In the night I was called up to see a whale which had been following the ship for several hours. The mate, who has been many years in a whaling vessel, says it was a young one that had lost its mother and had mistaken the ship for her. It came so close that I could strike it from the deck and it seemed to me to be about 40 ft long. I went below and got Mrs Fowles up to see it but before we got upon the deck the whale had disappeared and she was disappointed.
Saturday June 9th Lat 20°.2 long 32°.40
Still calm but more swell, which indicates wind - and after noon it was verified, for it freshened and we were again pushing on, tho' so much to Westward that we cannot sight Trinidad being in the same latitude today. (Found island in South Atlantic called Trindade near Martin Vaz at this latitude.)
This evening all were much delighted with the setting sun. Many times did Mr Wright run up from dinner to catch a sight but was generally too late, but this evening all were gratified it was indeed a magnificent sight: the heavens above had a light green tinge, the clouds at first had a rich Golden yellow and the fleecy clouds were like molten gold. It continued to grow darker and then assumed a deep orange hue and this changed finally into the deepest crimson having gradually gone thro' all the intervening shades. The horizon to the East was a rich lake, a plum colour.
This was the birthday [of] the Captain's son, Henry, a sweet little fellow, 2 years old. He was born at sea near the Westward Islands, and has now crossed the line 3 times. He is a very great favourite with all & often amuses us with his funny little ways. He tried to mimic his father & when upon deck he goes up to his mama and holds out his arm for her to take that she may walk with him like a man. Of course his health was drunk by all and as it is usually done here in Champagne too, 4 bottles of which were emptied besides other wines which were upon the table.
Our dinner as usual was very excellent: we cannot speak too highly of the manner in which our table is supplied. Today we had soup, roast turkey & boiled ham & a roast leg of mutton, plum pudding & apple fritters, desert almonds, raisins, walnuts, nuts & oranges. Few who have not been to sea form any idea of the excellent fare we get, the variety being as great as the most fastidious appetite can desire. This Mrs Lister has and to her in some measure we are indebted for the endless change of diet we experience - she is never satisfied, for after making an excellent dinner off the turkey, she was sorry she had not taken mutton, as it looked so much nicer, she said, tho' in reality a better bird or better dressed could not be put on a table. It must be very painful to the Captain to see all his attempts to please her unsuccessful, yet he is unwearied. Yesterday little Henry was taken ill with sore throat and I never saw anyone more anxious than the Captain till the medicine I gave him relieved him for which he was very grateful to me.
Sunday 10 June lat 22°. long -
A steady breeze today tho' forcing us to the Westward rather too much. The temperature the last few days very much lower than we have had it, and consequently delightful. The sun now rises and sets at about 6 and it is dark very soon after the sun is down. There is very little twilight. It is pleasant to see the Sabbath observed, even on board a ship, so orderly by all. There is that stillness pervading everything today, and all the men are free from all unnecessary work. It seems a day of rest truly.
There was [a] gentle shower of rain this morn which cooled the decks and also the atmosphere. Indeed, it gives a freshness to all things in a measure, as ashore. A sail seen on the weather quarter, too far off to make out what.
The next passenger to introduce is Mr G Wright and whom we found first on board the ship at Gravesend. He is apparently about 25, but in reality only 20 years of age. He is not so quiet as Hindson, but by no means talkative. He is very good tempered and social, enjoys a little mirth. Mr Wood during his short stay, by his ridiculous nonsense, kept him constantly on the chuckle, as he never laughs out. He also became quite attached to Mr Wood and at parting exchanged snuff boxes and I think I observed a tear in his eye.
He has a most voracious appetite and never seems satisfied, and this has never forsaken him from the first. All have failed to be regularly at the cuddy table but he has never deserted. He has never once been sea sick. He has on this account been of great service to others as his mother, &c. but particularly to Miss C, to whom he has paid particular attention. Some seem to think there will be a wedding before we leave the ship, but to me it is very obvious that there is something between them which in all probability will end in something of the sort. He is very fond of reading such books as Pickwick Papers and light reading generally - indeed he is seldom without a book.
Little Henry much worse today, having increased his cold by being taken upon deck in the morning before it was dry. (They are washed every morning.) All the ladies much alarmed. I administered medicine which relieved him - he is suffering from inflammation of the thorax & trachea.
The sail seen yesterday - much nearer today. At noon, another sail seen which has made up to and passed the other and which we also found to be the Yankee again.
Wednesday 13th June lat 26°.55 -
Henry had a better night, his blister on the chest having risen well. Upon the whole, he is better, but still in a dangerous state.
The Yankee in sight to windward in which position I have sketched here but by night we had fetched on her and had got at least 10 miles to windward of her. Another sail on the lee quarter, supposed a whaler.
The wind has become more free and we are making a true S.E. course - 7 knots an hour. We now feel the change of climate daily, being out of the tropics. We have done without windsail some days and can now sleep with our cabin doors shut and can almost bear a blanket on the bed. I have today been up to the cross trees at the main top mast head to look out for vessels and find it pleasant - the motion of the ship is so smooth aloft, very like swinging in a swing. I have often been astonished at the apparent careless manner in which the Sailors get even to the Royal yards and seem as heedless as if they were on deck. This evening, Henry was so very ill [he]almost choked with the croup - all thought him dying. Mrs Lister was almost mad, the Captain much excited. I gave him an emetic and afterwards his breathing became much easier and he is now sweetly sleeping.
I have been tempted by the stillness of the ship to try to paint a little but find my colours so badly ground as to make it impossible.
Thursday 14th June
This has been a day of intense interest to all in consequence of the dangerous state in which little Henry is. During the night he was in continual danger of suffocation from the phlegm rising in his throat, which by unremitted attention was relieved.
Mrs Lister was almost frantic, throwing herself down upon the floor and crying violently, refusing comfort. The most perfect stillness prevailed in the cabin - not a word was spoken out all day, but a suppressed whisper went round. The Captain was so much affected that to divert his attention from the subject so all-absorbing, he busied himself clearing up the cabin, but when relief came to the little sufferer after the crisis he had passed, he seemed as frantic with joy as he had been with sorrow; so nearly do the extremes of joy and grief approach that it is difficult to find the line of distinction.
The excitement has been very great to me - I have not been to bed these 3 nights & my head now aches violently.
Friday June 15th Lat 30°.26'
The same favourable symptoms continue and the inflammation has subsided. The formation of phlegm has nearly ceased but he is in a very debilitated state and refuses every kind of food.
The first Cape pigeon seen today and our old friend the Yankee also seen again - it is very singular. I have been on deck painting till the cold drove me below, so rapidly are we getting to the Southward that we feel the change the more.
Saturday 16th June lat 31°.55 long 23°.50
Henry gradually improving and his mother with it is getting very silly and troublesome, wishing to give him improper things and to take him out from their warm cabin into the other cold one where the hatch is open. I have been aloft to day and tho' on deck the water looks quite rough, here it appears perfectly smooth.
Several sea birds have been seen to day a black Petrel - in shape and make such a bird as the Swift or Screacher but with wings extending about 3 ft continually on the wing also several boobies and a large sea bird dark brown with a white belly - and numbers of cape pigeons. We are going on so well that all are in excellent spirits expecting to pass the Cape in a week if the wind continues; but we must not build upon the wind.
Sunday 17th June Lat 32°.5 Long 21°.55
The wind to day less favourable and our bright hopes again damped; during the night, the wind so much shifted that we were about on the other tack which is very unpleasant for me, unless prepared for it by pulling a board alongside my bed place, and which I do not when on the starboard tack.
Service was performed on deck as usual but it was so cold Mrs F wore her boa & cloak.
Monday June 18th lat 31°.46' S long 19°.25 W
The wind still obstinately blowing the wrong way, tho' it is almost a calm. A sail to windward at a great distance. Have been amusing myself shooting the Cape pigeons - it is excellent sport but the motion of the ship makes it very difficult.
Henry's breathing very quiet and easy and is gradually improving but he does not like to take anything, seeming to think it is medicine.
It begins to look very like winter here now. The frequent rain and cold winds remind me much of the cold of November at home. The deck is being cleared of all lumber and useless articles - the empty water casks are taken to pieces and several stowed in one. The light sails which have been set are taken down or unbent, as the sailors call it, and fresh ones bent in their places, though this leads me to expect weather we have not yet experienced.
Tuesday 19th lat 33°.30 long 19°.0 W
The wind has increased and is also rather more fair, and in the evening we found the wind so strong as to compel us to take in sail tho' running before it.
Talking of the cold at breakfast, the Mate said he never used any sheets as when wet with rain, they turn in and the blankets soon warm them. Mr Bishton suggested that in travelling where you seldom get well aired sheets, it would be best to take them out and lie in the blankets, thereby avoiding the taking of colds. Mrs Wright could not do so, as flannel irritates her beyond everything, she said. Therefore to save the room of sheets I proposed to take a linen bag long enough to get into and have it tied round the neck which would be the most sure way of keeping off the blanket. Mrs Wright rather approved of the plan till Mr B said in case of fire it would be rather awkward.
Wednesday 20th June 33°.58' lat 18°.0 long
The wind last night continued to increase and it was by pure good luck we did not find ourselves upon the floor of the cabin instead of upon our beds. Everything was thrown from the shelves in all directions, the contents of a small shelf in our washstand by my bedhead - such as cold cream, pots, oil, bottles, brushes and combs - was all showered into bed to me. I could hear that others were not exempt from the same: trunks and boxes were beating about, first one side, then another, of the several cabins, and in the Steward's pantry by some chance the dish covers had got loose and these completed the confusion by their noise.
I arose at 8 and found the wind having veered all round the compass during the night to be the cause of our disturbances. The sea was very high and the waves running in from all points, as the wind had been, produced what is called a cross sea and is the most unpleasant for the ship to ride in & frequently two waves from opposite quarters, meeting, toss up their white foaming heads in the most grand and beautiful style; but after the wind has continued in the same direction for any time, the sea becomes regular and the waves roll on in parallel lines, forming here hills and there valleys and the ship rides over them with a gentle undulating motion like that of a cradle when the wind is abeam, or a rocking horse when it is behind us, or nautically "abaft".
To see the immense chasm between the waves, you would think it impossible to get the ship over it but in an instant with a gentle & easy motion, she is in the depth and again on the summit of the wave, seldom shipping any water over the decks and ourselves scarcely conscious of the uneasiness of our path. But often after she has passed over two or three waves of nearly the same size, she in her descent meets a wave quicker than the others had come; she has not time to rise and consequently dives into it, bursting the sea in spray over the decks and when the wave is very large, in a body of water sweeping everything before it.
Wet all day, few passengers on deck. Captain ill with rheumatism in the head to which he is subject. Henry I fear is sinking from want of nourishment, not being able to retain anything in his stomach.
Thursday 21st lat 35° long 15° W -
Wind more fair, sea more smooth, and should it continue, we should see the Tristan da Cunha tomorrow. I feel very unwell today from cold taken in the rain yesterday. Captain a little better, Henry the same - cannot retain the medicine on his stomach, but while there is life there is hope.
Friday 22nd June lat long 11°.49
Thick hazy day. Passed Tristan about noon, but did not see [it] till about 4 pm, 40 miles to the W. It appears to be very high land. Ships frequently put in for potatoes, water and sometimes stock, which is indifferent. There are plenty of seahorses on the shore.
The Captain & myself confined to our cabins but escaped to take a peek at the land, altho' very improperly.
This morning early to Henry, who had been sick all night. Everything that could be thought of was tried, but nothing would remain on his stomach, and about noon he died. Mrs Lister was much affected, as was also the Captain, but he bore it with fortitude like a man, and supported his wife with much kindness. All of us feel his loss, as he had by his amusing ways wound himself around all of our hearts.
A gloomy day after a very unpleasant, rolling night - I feel very ill.
All are much as yesterday. The Captain & Mrs Lister supported much under their great affliction, I hope derived immediately from God. In the evening, the Captain was saying how very delightful many of the Psalms were he had been reading, especially under present circumstances. I was happy to hear it, as I had not before heard him speak of any subject connected with religion.
The wind fair, weather fine, tho' a very unpleasant motion in the ship. I am a little better today - so is the Captain.
This is day appointed for the Coronation of Her Majesty and here we are 6,000 miles off. At the last coronation, I was at the Washbrook - how often do I reflect upon the many pleasant hours there spent and regret I ever left it.
The wind quiet all day, nearly a perfect calm. The Captain and sailors all say they never crossed these seas with so little rough weather & so much fine.
As after a calm wind may be expected, so the calm yesterday was succeeded by a gale in the night & all the sails were taken in but the main & fore topsails close-reefed, the main trysail & fore topmast staysail. Thus we were almost lying to when I came upon deck. It had rained and as the wind blew from the Southward it is extremely cold for the contrary of England, the South wind is the coldest & also the Barometer falls against fine & rises against rough weather.
The sea continued to rage and occasionally to burst over the ship, which it did several times fearfully whilst I was upon deck & I had scarcely left the deck this morning when a heavy sea broke over her. To those in the cabin it appears like an immense weight thrown from the main top ready to burst the deck in upon our heads. Such was its violence that it was several minutes before it could run off the deck. The ladies in the cabin I found in excellent spirits, laughing and chatting as merrily as if they were by a cheerful fireside in England.
It is very cold nights now - we can bear a thick blanket double upon the bed.
A rainy hazy day - could not get upon deck. I can scarcely imagine how I shall be able to live in the cabin when the rough weather we expect will prevent my going upon deck. I have been busy drawing - some are reading, others sewing &c &c.
Mr Wood remarked he had never spent so much of his time out of doors as he had done aboard ship the few days he was with us - and so we have continued to do, going up first thing in the morning and remaining till bedtime, mealtimes of course excepted.
Saturday 30 June
Today the weather continued much as it was yesterday & day before, but we had a pleasant sunshine instead of rain.
We had a service to perform today which does not often occur on board ship - a funeral. On Saturday last Henry died - and from that day Mrs Lister determined to keep him if possible a week. She has borne with great fortitude the loss and was piously resigned to it as the will of the Father to all of us who gave him to her. This morning when the time proposed had come she wished him to be kept another day but the Captain had given his orders, and as it was deemed silly to postpone it longer, it took place.
It is usual at sea to tie the body up in a hammock or counterpane and with weights to sink it, thrown overboard. On this occasion a coffin was made of Sydney cedar and finished very neatly and about a foot longer than required for the body, to give room for weights. It was also lined with sheet lead and this covered with flannel. Round the edge was a plaiting like a frill and into this on Tuesday he was put, dressed in a flannel gown and the pretty lace cap in which he had been christened.
The spare place at the foot was filled with loose iron and the lead cover put on but not soldered down, which would render it airtight and prevent it sinking. The top was then secured by screws and iron bands. I painted a plate cut out of lead and polished brightly: "H Lister died at sea 23 June in the ship Fortune". When all was secure, he was carried up on deck and a hen coop placed [on] the lee side level with the bulwarks and covered with the ensign. The coffin, also covered with the Union Jack, was placed upon it. The bell now tolled and Mr Bishton took his stand at the head, Mr Wright at the foot, & the Captain by the side, the seamen all on the other side and the passengers as at service, sitting upon the hen coops. Some had mourning, others had none. The only black article I could boast was an old waistcoat, all mine being packed away. The service was read in a very solemn and impressive manner and at that particular part "we commit this body to the deep", it was slipped over the side into the sea. It rose once, but instantly sunk to rise no more.
The Captain bore all without evincing any emotion, tho' he felt it most acutely. I suppose he considered it would look unmanly before the men to shed tears. Indeed I could not suppress mine.
It was remarkable a circumstance, but this was also the Captain's wedding day.
Sunday 1st July -
A very cold dull day, thermometer down to 47° [8°C]. Service performed in the Cabin. The wind right aft and the ship rolling.
Monday 2nd -
A calm nearly all day, but the sea rolling in with a heavy swell. The ship rolls over so much as the side sometimes to be under water. In the evening, the wind freshened, but being right aft, the motion continued.
Tuesday 3rd Lat 39°.35' long 12°.54' East
The wind has gradually increased and is now very fresh, weather fine. Mrs F and Emily on deck, walking. I was on the stern, shooting the large birds - quite as large as geese. I killed 6 and did not once miss. They are continually flying about the ship in numbers. This is always so in the South Seas but not North of the Line, where we seldom saw a bird or anything living out of the ship.
Wednesday 4th July
A fine sun shining [all] day, and little motion, the wind having got round to the larboard side, which keeps it steady. Mrs Fowles poorly with a cold caught on deck last night. All our people are getting very lazy, lying in bed till 9 & 10 o'clock. I generally rise at 7 or before. Emily & Mrs Wright are the next up. Yesterday some were at breakfast at 11 o'clock.
We are so far to the South that we shall not in all probability feel more wind passing the Cape than anywhere else. Ships going to China & the East Indies generally suffer much. We expect to be in the longitude of the Cape tomorrow.
The wind and sea had increased very much during the night, which, with the swell ahead, made the pitching of the ship very unpleasant. This always produces a sensation in my head very peculiar, not exactly a headache, and yet it is as bad. Mrs F in bed all day poorly with her cold, but much better in the evening, having had a little dinner and some chocolate at teatime.
By observation today, tho' not very good being cloudy, the longitude was made 20°.48' E lat 41°.0' South, so we are passed the Cape of Good Hope which I suppose means that we may entertain a Good Hope of a safe voyage. The Captain has gone from this to Sydney in 35 days. I wish we may do so.
Altho' it is so very cold this evening, in the clear moonlight there was much lightning.
Friday 6 July lat 41°.27 long 24°.54 East
The wind still continues very fresh and fair. The ship has more sail on her than she has had lately - she is making 4 or 5 degrees a day.
The sun has shone all day and flocks of ice birds are flying about - they appear about the size of the thrush, with wings like a swallow, and are of a pretty dove colour. I went into the main top to see the motion of the ship more distinctly than from the deck. She seems to bound over the waves and occasionally dives into it & the spray breaks up nearly to the fore top. Mrs F much better today. Emily and others complaining of colds.
Wind and sea making fast, the sea breaks over the deck frequently. If it increases much more, it will be what is called a gale.
Sunday 8th July -
As I expected when I came on deck, the wind was blowing quite a gale, the ship tossing fearfully, much worse than we have ever had it. No one could sleep all night for it. The hen coops were fastened round the skylights to prevent the sea breaking in. The hatches were all secured, and well they were, for we were shipping heavy seas every instant, enough to stove in the deck.
At midnight, the Mate came below to say the fore sail had been carried away. The only sails left set being fore & main top sail close reefed and fore top mast stay sails, and with even these, we were running about 9 knots an hour.
It was little like Sunday, all being confusion and noise.
Emily confined to her bed with a very bad cold.
Only Mr Hindson up to breakfast with me. The cabin looked truly miserable, the hen coops shutting out nearly all the light and the vessel tumbling about so much that it is almost impossible to keep our plates upon the table.
Monday 9th lat 39°.54 long E 32°.21
The sea very high after the gale yesterday. It takes at least two or three minutes for the ship to pass from one wave to another, they are so large. The wind today is still fresh and we have more sail on her.
From the quarterdeck near the wheel, I could see the sea over the fore yard which is about 30ft above the deck. This may convey some idea of the height of the waves. When I first came on board, this would have alarmed me, but now it only fills me with admiration and delight to see our little barque dancing over them.
Mrs F remarked that she had often felt more apprehension of danger ashore in a rough wind than she did aboard, even on Saturday night, when I think it was the roughest we have experienced hitherto.
Bath cherry fair and the middle of summer in England - how strange, and here we are in the depth of winter and both cold & wet, the rain being almost incessant. How truly miserable for the poor sailors, who are obliged to be upon deck always by turns, the whole crew being divided into two watches
At about noon, the wind again began to increase and by evening it had become quite a gale, and as it blew from the westward [??], we were obliged to lay to.
The sea is not as it was yesterday, long & heavy, but rapid and violent, bursting & foaming like mad and the ship may truly be said to be labouring, which word well expresses her condition - she seems to heave and twist and strain in every direction, the sea not allowing her time to rise and fall gradually, but rolling & tossing awfully, and the sea rolling over the decks seems to threaten every minute to sink us; but she is as "tight as a bottle", to use the Carpenter's expression, for amidst it all she does not make 6 inches a day; many ships, and good ones too, in a gale like this will make a foot every hour and require the pumps to be going constantly, whereas ours is only pumped morning & evening. In the midst of all this, we go on with our meals as regular as possible and our dinners are cooked admirably, tho' it is continual matter of astonishment how the Cook contrives to keep the things in the pot. Sometimes, by the bye, all the soup is upset bringing from the galley.
Wednesday 11th July -
Another day of great excitement; the wind, which had slacked away in the evening slightly, soon increased again and the night was more violent than ever. The rudder post was discovered to be nearly twisted off - the head of the rudder was originally morticed for a tiller, but now filled up and this has so weakened it that the strain continually upon it, [it] has nearly gone, being cracked into several pieces. We lashed it round with ropes and and secured it as well as we could, but it was then in a very unsafe state and gave the Captain much anxiety. No one in the cabin was aware of it but myself and the cabin [=Captain?].
This is the birthday of Anna Goldstone & we did not forget, even in a gale, to drink her health and with many happy returns of it to her - all in the cabin joined in it.
The morning seemed to promise an end to the gale which had now continued 2 days, but our hopes were like the sun which showed himself, soon lost in the clouds and haze covering the horizon. The gale increased and thro' the worst of it I remained on deck; my confidence was so much increased by the manner in which she walked the water like a thing of life. The Sailors all say she is the most easy vessel in a sea they ever were in.
Friday 13th July
The Barometer, which had at the beginning of the gale risen as high as 30.4, had now fallen 6 tenths. This indicates a W. or N.W. wind, as well as a gale; the rising indicates an E. or S.E., which it had been throughout; we may therefore hope that it will prove a favourable change.
The barometer now continued falling and the wind to increase and as all attempts to describe would fail, I shall not try. The sea runs very high & the summit of the waves are covered with white foam and looks like a torrent pouring down a hill - in one moment we were in a deep trough of the sea and the high mountain of a wave hanging over us seeming to threaten total extinction, but the ship's side rises, the wave passes under & we again slide down as it were into the trough, and thus we continue rolling over from side to side, taking in much water and the deck kept constantly wet so as to make it very unpleasant to walk on.
But you see that during the tempest (for a tempest of wind it was), I have not expressed fear or apprehension of danger, neither was there any felt by any one of our party, except Mrs Lister perhaps, who is the most timid in the ship instead of the most courageous, as experience ought to have made her.
Sarah went upon deck in the worst of it to see and admire the sea which now looked like a very hilly country partially covered with snow. The wildness of the scene had a grand effect -sometimes between the waves the sea was quite smooth, like ice, at others like a green meadow in a valley, and the sea birds were scudding close to the surface even of the roughest waves without getting immersed and many were floating on the sea with as much ease & composure as a swan upon the Thames - this latter is a good omen, as it generally indicates a moderation of the wind.
The darkness of night adds greatly to the horror of the howling & whistling wind. Nothing could be seen but now and then the sea rushing across the decks, and the lights from the cabin below glimmering thro' the crevices left open by the curtains and hen coops round the skylight. Two men were sent up to send down the fore topgallant yard to lighten her aloft. I thought what a dangerous service, for at the height they were, the motion is so much more than upon deck and they have only their legs to hold on with, as their hands are well employed otherwise, lowering the yard. This done, Thomas went to the masthead to put the truck (a small round piece of wood) upon the very masthead - he there holding on by a single spar, swinging tremendously, yet apparently thinking as little about it as of standing upon deck.
Our meals afford endless amusement, everything being in motion - a potato leaps from the dish into Mr Hindson's pocket. Today the Captain had on a dish before him a sheep's head and several pieces of neck of mutton. The head was soon into Mr Bishton's lap, a piece of the mutton in Mrs B's and the rest with difficulty kept still. The melted butter and caper sauce washed out of the tureen coming from the galley. I am not so much surprised at these accidents as I am at the fewness of them.
Saturday 14th July
I arose early and found the wind had shifted round to the S.W. and the sea was going down fast, with every appearance of fine weather. This was delightful, and the more so as we expected an increase of wind. The wind now meeting the sea makes more spray than when both are going in the same direction and today Mrs F and Emily were completely soaked with the spray breaking over the ship's side.
Sunday 15th Lat 39°.29 S Long 41°.20 E
This morning being very clear and fine, we had good sights as also a lunar observation, by which we detect any error in the chronometer. I always assist the Captain and generally work the sights after they are taken to determine our true position.
The sea was now smooth and wind fair, tho' light. The lower & topmast stunsails set and we are gliding about 7 knots - imperceptibly. A beautiful day, with showers of rain. All the passengers on deck, the crew doing the repairs.
Monday 16th Lat 39°.37 -
The weather continues fine and wind fair. All again upon decks. It was quite May weather and brought back to my mind all my dear friends in England; also led me on to contemplate my future prospects and how little can the most clear sighted see into futurity.
Tuesday 17 Lat 39°.50 - Long 46°.7 E
Still fine and all enjoying themselves, being enabled to sleep, to eat &c... without molestation of those troubles which a gale inevitably brings, indeed the ordinary motion of the ship does in a less degree.
The wind in the afternoon dying away.
Wednesday 18 July
A calm with no motion, the sun pleasant. I hate these calms tho', as they are generally followed by rough weather.
Still calm, but rather hazy. A sail seen about 6 miles distant, also a shoal of porpoises jumping 5 or 6 feet out of the water - Evening - The vessel must have been a fast sailer, as she had now entirely disappeared in the distance.
The breeze freshened and we are now gliding easily at 7 knots, all the sails asleep (full and steady).
The wind nicely increasing and the wind shifted to N.W. which if it continues will enable us to make up for delays. Reading in an album belonging to a lady on board, I found some lines so very descriptive of the noise, confusion and uproar of a ship, that I will here copy them:
That man, by Jove!, who gives the sea
The preference to land, must be
A fool, or a Philosopher,
Whom no privations can deter.
The Glories of the ocean grand
'Tis very well to sing on land;
'Tis very fine to hear them carroll'd
By Thomas Campbell or Childe Harold,
But very sad to see that ocean
From East to West in wild commotion,
To hear the burly billows roar
Around, behind us and before,
To view the red and lurid sky
In all its constant sympathy
With sea as mad as moon can make
The Mistress of that reckless rake.
'Tis sad to trust the wintry wave,
Too oft alas the seaman's grave,
To brave the fury of the storm,
Some notion of its rage to form,
To feel the dread sublime in all
The terrors of a sudden squall,
To grasp the gunwale ev'ry time
The ruffian billows upward climb
And cling to rope at every lurch
That might uproot a parish church,
To see huge trunks and packing cases
Fly off in tangents from their places,
The chairs and tables emulate
The evolutions of a plate,
The larger dishes fiercely fall
To mortal conflict with the small,
The locomotive saucers chase
Th'inconstant cups from place to place,
Grave mustard pots to teapots setting
And pepper castors pirouetting;
To hear the same eternal thump
From morn to night of either pump,
To hear the same infernal strife
For days, for weeks, perhaps for life,
The rattling blocks, the tempest's howl,
The gruff command, the surly growl
With men of uncongenial mind;
T'be cribbed, cabin'd and confined
To try at beef, in rounds and briskets
Salt pork, and adamantine biscuits
And finally from first to last
To be convinced all sufferings past
"Are trifles light as air" to those
A seasick landsman undergoes;
And own a ship is but a jail
Of wooden walls, of structure frail,
Where one not doomed to die aground
Is very likely to be drowned.
Saturday 21st July
The weather fine and wind continues steady. There is so little motion that we were enabled to dine without battens on the table, the first time since we left England.
Sunday 22nd -
Much as yesterday. Service upon deck, dined without battens tho' making 6 knots and, as we had new moon yesterday, it is likely to continue.
Monday 23rd - lat 41°.1 long 58°.0 -
The wind today is increasing and the sea also. The tips of the waves are very beautiful, like emeralds, brilliant green & white. We are scudding nicely before the wind, at about 6 knots and in our proper course.
The wind has again increased to a gale and the sea is as rough as it was during any part of the last gale, but we have this consolation: that we are running about 9 or 10 knots in the proper direction, instead of lying to.
Wednesday 25th 42°.19 long 67°.10 S
The Gale continues, and we are what is called scudding before the wind. We have made from Monday to Wednesday noon 400 geographical miles. This is something about it; I wish it may last.
The ship's motion is less, the pressure on the sails keeping her steady, but she occasionally rolls over and dips up water which rushes backwards and forwards from this side to that as the ship lies over.
We are obliged to get into our cabins at night to keep ourselves warm, tho' it is mild in the day and we get upon deck.
We have again had a good run 210 miles today.
Wind still continues and all comfortable. We do not mind a gale when it is behind us. The Captain once had a gale after him all the way from the Cape to Sydney.
Wind changeable and light, very cold with much rain. Can scarcely imagine this to be the very heart of summer at home, while we are so cold - the thermometer down to the freezing point.
A lovely morning, the sun shining fine and pleasant. All seemed to participate in the brightness of the day, for every face looked smiling and we walked the deck.
As wretched a day as yesterday was fine - a constant pounding rain - and the wind shifted. The sea came on our side which gave us rolls for breakfast.
Tuesday 31st lat 42°.50 long 84°.34 S
A gloomy morning, but likely to clear up. By observation this morning we are as above, leaving us only 61 degrees to the nearest point of Van Diemens' Land, so I hope by Saturday fortnight to see Hobart Town.
So cold today that I was obliged to run about the decks to keep my feet warm. I also go aloft -the exercise makes me warm and I also like the motion. I have entirely got over the feeling of giddiness which I felt when I first tried it. The weather at 6 PM looked as if we should have a frost but the barometer falling indicates a change of wind or an increase.
Mrs Wright, an old lady about 60, the mother of Mrs Bishton & Mr Wright, is the next passenger. She is rather thin, about middle height, and for so old a lady extremely particular in her person and precise in her behaviour. She is rather testy, especially with Mr B about little affairs. She spends about 4 hours a day dressing and undressing, about as much [at] her meals and by the bye her appetite, like that of her son's, is excellent - nothing comes amiss. She seems wedded to an old leghorn bonnet and a cross barred cotton gown which she continually wears and has worn thro' the hottest of the weather. Mr B is constantly teasing her about it but she still sticks to it. She wears her bonnet and gloves at meals also; I suppose, as she is so long in her cabin getting to bed, she does take it off at night. She said the heat was "beyond everything" - so she said of the cold, and so she says of everything. I nearly offended her by telling her she had so many things beyond everything that her comparison was of little value.
She is very polite and obliging to your face, but when your back is turned, she changes her tone marvellously. I think her very false, for where there is so great profession, I have decidedly found the least sincerity. She calls her son by such sweet names as "my love" &c. and so little does she mean by it, that she one day called the mate her love and sometimes other. This often occurs very ridiculously.
Wednesday 1st August
This morning about 5 was awoke by a heavy fall of hail. I never witnessed anything equal to it. The Captain went upon deck and soon after the wind blew quite a hurricane, the ship rolling fearfully and the sea breaking over continually. I felt apprehension for the safety of the rudder, which had received severe injury in the former gale. To be without a rudder in such a gale would be indeed an awful predicament.
At 6 again awoke (for I had dozed off it seemed) by Mrs Lister in the greatest excitement calling me to go upon deck and see if I could render any service, as the rudder was fixed and would not work and they could not take in sails. It is not easy to describe my feelings at this moment, being scarcely awake, yet enough so to remember the weak state of the rudder and in my mind I now fancied it was carried away - that is broken. I went upon deck instantly and found all in confusion; hen coops all adrift, beating about the deck, ropes &c strewed in all directions leaving no room to step without getting over some thing or other, which with the hail that had fallen lying thick, rendered it dangerous.
My first step was to ascertain the state of the rudder and looking towards it I saw the Captain on one side and a sailor on the other of the wheel working it, which satisfied me, and I ran down to tell the Ladies and again went up on deck. I had scarcely got up again when the rudder chain jammed (which was what had happened before) and it could not be worked, so the ship's head came up into the wind - "broached to" as the sailors call it - and all the sails were flapping and dashing against the mast dreadfully. Two men had been aloft trying to furl the main topgallant sail but were obliged to come down without doing it; their hands being numbed with the extreme cold, they could not hold on.
The sails continued to beat more violently and the ship's side now lying towards the sea, it beat over us constantly and I believe most thought all was lost. The noise was appalling, the masts shaking like boughs of trees in the wind, and the only chance now was to steer by hauling round the fore sails. To do this there were no hands, as some were trying to free the rudder and others laid up with the cold. The carpenter and myself, however, pulled away and we brought her head hard right again just as they had cleared the rudder chain.
We expected every sail would go to ribbons but fortunately only the main topgallant sail went and that did all to shivers in a minute.
The Carpenter before she righted said to me, if her head does not come round soon, every mast would be blown out of her.
We were now again relieved from our fears & really seemed as if all danger was past. The ship flew thro' the water like lightning. The wind some times abating and then again increasing to a hurricane - the sound of it in the rigging is like the roar of the wild beasts in a menagerie at feeding time, or the escape of steam from the boiler of a large steam engine when the steam is up at the highest pressure. We continued scudding before the gale which was increased by frequent and violent squalls, and as we were going in the right direction at a spanking pace, it in some measure makes up for our uneasiness. Toward noon, the Barometer fell 3 tenths and with it the wind abated, but it had not yet ceased, for with the night again came squalls with hail, tho' not so violent or frequent as in the morning. We retired early to bed and I believe all slept pretty well.
During the fright of the morning, Emily went to bed with Mrs Fowles, thinking company no doubt made then more secure.
Thursday 2nd August Lat 42°.18 -
Found everything this morning much the same as yesterday: the wind violent with squalls, many of which were seen to pass us on each side without affecting us. The Barometer again began to descend and had now fallen as low as 29, and the wind again increased. Dinner yesterday and today went off as usual - some losing their knives and forks, some receiving the contents of their plates into their laps - with various and sundry mishaps. Yesterday we had salmon, boiled beef and roast goose, with jam rolls afterwards; today roast fowl, boiled pork, and gooseberry puddings, so we are not neglected, even in the worst weather.
After dinner, speaking of the dangers of being without a rudder when, as if to frighten us to death, the Mate shouted from the deck to the Captain below "the rudder chain is carried away". We were soon upon deck - the power of steering was lost for a few minutes & the chain repaired. Emily slept with Mrs F as, like all the rest of us, she was very much alarmed and could not sleep alone. I must say in justice to the Ladies, they behaved manfully, suppressing all their emotions and remaining quiet thro' it all, Mrs Lister (who is determined to make the worst of everything) of course the exception.
The morning looked more fine, the wind less, the sea more smooth. The Barometer still low, very low, only 29.0. The squalls are frequent and heavy and with them generally hail or rain in torrents, which keeps down the sea.
The Barometer fell still lower, 2 tenths, being in truth the lowest ever remembered by the Captain except once when he experienced a violent gale which lasted several days.
The depression of the barometer has not been answered with an increase of wind as usual (I think the dampness of the atmosphere is the cause), but it has so fallen off as not to be sufficient to keep the ship steady and we have consequently had a rolling night, scarcely able to keep in bed.
Sunday 5th lat 42°.24 long 103°.30
The morning fine but occasional squalls with hail. I have been upon deck trying to get fresh air, for the rolling of the ship has stirred up the bilge water which makes a horrid stench below. In the cabin with the doors closed it is quite insufferable.
Service was performed today without any mention being made of our late deliverance.
Monday August 6 lat 42°.16 long 107°.3 E
Full moon last night and with it we seem to have got a change of weather.
We are all now conjecturing about the time of our arrival. I make it for next Saturday or Sunday week allowing for all changes.
The Barometer continued rising all the morning but again fell after noon and by dinner time the wind was fresh, & being more on the quarter, it kept the ship nice and steady. Some felt timid, expecting another gale, but for myself, as long as we are able to keep the proper course, I care not how fast we go.
Tuesday 7th lat 42°.47
The wind has again left us and with a very heavy sea which makes the motion very disagreeable. The sun shines brightly and it has drawn all from their cabins upon deck. Indeed after its having been deserted so long, it now looks like "a fair day aye & more than that".
This is Mr Wood's birthday and after dinner I proposed his health which was drunk by all, cordially wishing him many happy returns and regretting he was not with us to answer us, and by his frolics drive away many of the tedious hours of ennui we experience. Went to bed at 11, hoping for a better night than I have lately spent.
Wednesday 8th lat 43°.0
Mrs F poorly - the motion disagreeable, the wind being dead foul and very strong, and we are obliged to be close hauled.
Very wet and rainy all day, as well as cold. Scarcely any one able to get out of the cabin.
Busy writing the Manifest of the Cargo, for the Captain.
All sails set and wind more fair.
In the night, wind increased and when I came upon deck, found the topsails close reefed and the foresail also reefed and almost lying to again.
Two of the men, while reefing the main topsail, quarrelled and fought up there standing upon the foot rope, rather a queer place, I guess.
Emily poorly - gave her medicine which improved her much.
Sunday 12th lat 44°.4 long 126°.17
After a squally night we have a fine morning with a fair wind. Going 8 knots.
Emily better - her brother Robert's birthday, whose health was drunk in Champagne. For dinner roast ducks, boiled mutton, carrots, potatoes, damson & green gage puddings. Pretty well I think, and within a week of our journey's end - only think of potatoes in August.
Still fine and fair wind. I have thought we should see Hobart Town Friday. Captain says Tuesday Week, which is his birthday.
Writing this log from the original and copying the sketches. By the bye, talking of sketches, I had nearly forgotten my sketches of the passengers, but as we have had such rough weather, I take it on as an excuse and if fine tomorrow, will resume. The wind has fallen off to a dead calm and consequently down go my hopes of Friday.
Wednesday 15th lat 43°.24 long 133°.51 E
Very fine and smooth, sea going 6 knots without motion.
Mr Bishton is a man apparently 45 - fat and would be tall if he did not stoop. He is very awkward, turns in his toes as he walks; one of his eyelids is dropped down, so one eye appears larger than the other; is near sighted; and to finish all, has carrotty hair.
He has been educated for the bar which he has practised a little. His relatives (as himself has been) are people of property, but unfortunately by extravagance & mismanagement, in some way or other, he has unfortunately run out of it - and is now going out to Van Diemen's Land to avoid his old associates; and having joined the Church and given up his original proposition, expects to get a good living.
He is like most men brought up idly, extremely so; he does nothing, not even for himself or children, tho' Mrs B has no servant. I think him extremely selfish and this renders him very disagreeable. At dinner he will not allow any one to help him to potatoes but must have the dish handed to him to select what he considers best, heedless of the ladies who may be sitting near him. He never hands anything or offers to help anyone, but keeps pecking away as if he expected the coach at the door every minute.
He never allows anyone time or opportunity of speaking, but has it all his own way, except at meal times and then he never opens his mouth but to put something in it or to ask for some thing he may want. He has afforded us much amusement by teasing one and another - with much good humour.
Mrs B is a little woman, extremely fair complexion and rather a sweet expression, tho' wanting in colour. She looks very good tempered & kind but our experience has told us all are not to be taken by their looks, for altho' she makes great professions of religion and is always reading her bible, she is nearly every other time quarrelling with her husband and will always have the last word. She has an extraordinary appetite - eats much more than I do, and drinks too by the bye. Mr B says she drinks 2 tumblers of boiled porter with her dinner, besides several glasses of wine after, and it is her general custom to lie down after dinner which enables her to sit up till 12 or 1, and not infrequently 2 o'clock, quarrelling with Mr B, to the great annoyance of all. Then of course she must have her breakfast in bed and also the poor children are kept in bed till their mother gets up.
Thursday 16th August lat 43°.41 long 137°.15
Fine day throughout - like spring weather. Going about 7 knots, with scarcely any motion, every one anxiously expecting the sight of land, which we now hope to see on Saturday. All day busy for the Captain.
Friday 17th lat 43°.41 long 140°.50
The same fine sun shining day it was yesterday. I have been making a packing case & filled it ready for leaving the ship.
In expectation of seeing land, the sailors have been engaged getting the anchor over the ship's side, ready. It is not easy to imagine the interest all feel as we approach land after so long a voyage, yet it is not that we are tired of the ship for I believe we are as comfortable and happy as it is possible to be in a state of idleness, which does not seem to annoy many of our passengers.
We are going very slowly all night and fear if the breeze does not freshen, we shall not see land tonight as expected yesterday. It is very provoking to be so near land and not have wind enough to make it.
Up early this morning and at the masthead looking out for land & which I fancied I saw just before I went to breakfast and after breakfast I found I was right: it proved to be the S.W. point of Van Diemen's Land and appeared about 20 miles ahead. We neared it all day but as the evening came on it grew hazy and we lost sight of it.
To what perfection is the science of navigation now brought that we should after not seeing land for near 3 months run direct to the exact spot required.
Called before daylight by the Captain to see the land, as it was alongside of us, and as the day broke, the Mewstone, an immense rock off the south coast, was visible.
A sail seen yesterday right astern - suppose that we passed her in the night - was still there, evidently going to Hobart Town and following us.
The wind was scarcely enough to move us and the black fish, a kind of small whale, was playing about us quite in shoals. By now the breeze freshened and we glided on with studding sails set and were afforded a fine view of the south coast and islands. We also passed the rocks called Pedro Blanca in English Peter White: it resembles a fort and near it is a rock which at a distance resembles the Eddystone lighthouse and from which it is called the Eddystone - between these two there is a reef of sunken rocks and from the main top I could see the breakers upon it, several vessels have been lost upon the rocks round this part.
We now came in sight of Cape Bruny and before dinner at about 5 PM Cape Tasman. After dinner, the light on the point of Bruny was seen very brilliant. At about 7 we rounded Tasman's Head, the light was lost and we expected to meet with a pilot so that by midnight we should have reached Hobart Town. At 10, a light was hoisted at the masthead, the signal for the pilot, and the gun also was fired every half hour but without effect, so we lay to till the morning, as it was very hazy.
At four I came on deck. Cape Raoul was on our Starboard side and the north point above Adventure Bay ahead. It became very interesting as the day dawned to near the bold and rugged coast.
At 7 I could see small patches of snow, as it appeared - but by the use of my glass, I found them to be cottages or huts, the first habitations we had for some time seen and the first in the colony seen from the ship. I continued looking at it, as I can't scarcely credit the residence of a human being in a place so completely covered with wood, however I soon found it was, for I saw a man and, in a small field cleared out of the forest, a horse or cow.
The land appears entirely covered with wood and the trees have a most singular appearance, like umbels - the tops growing upon long stalks like bunches of carrot seed - and all have a deep green colour, almost an olive. A little beyond the cottages first seen, we now discovered smoke curling sweetly up among the trees and this reminded me of the country cottages in the woods I have often seen in England. A boat was now seen putting off from the shore and which we soon found to be the Pilot, as he was on board in a few minutes. He told us of the arrival of several vessels and lots of news in a short time.
We were now in Storm Bay and the wind very light, and that contrary, but we contrived to work up tho' almost becalmed.
The Derwent is a splendid river as far as I have seen of it. In its course, it forms several bays which are surrounded by the most exquisite scenery. Mr B, who has travelled thro' Italy, Germany and Switzerland, says this surpasses all he has ever seen and that part with Mount Wellington at its back covered with the purest snow, he says resembles very much the Dura [=Jura?]: this mountain is always covered with snow, being 4,000 feet above the level of the sea.
The river, I should say as far as Hobart Town, is quite as wide as the Thames, but the current is very gentle.
We continued gradually opening on fresh beauties as we advanced up the river, which seemed to have no end, as the bays all looked like rivers. It began to rain and this, with a thick haze, nearly obscured everything from our view - till at last the anchor was dropped in the stream.
The Town is built at the head of a bay, or rather in the elbow of the river, and extending backwards up the side of Mount Wellington and covering a great deal of ground, as it is laid out into streets and these are not built but here and there a house, except a few which are finished - very excellent houses there are, some of them. But I am describing the place before I have arrived - that is in my log.
I said we came to anchor and then the Post Officer, Captain King, myself and the Captain went ashore. There were several ships lying at the different wharves, among which were the Wave, the Captain's old ship, and the Wilmot, which left the Downs the same day we did. The Wave made an excellent passage out, being little more than 3 months, touching at the Cape of Good Hope from whence here they did in 35 days.
I went with the Captain to his agent's where we were obliged to remain all the afternoon as it rained in torrents.
Next day I took Mrs F and Emily to see the Town and deliver letters &c which I had brought, in doing which we saw the whole of the town. The streets are wide and straight and all being parallel to each other, forming squares. The roads are made with granite and are as firm as those in the neighbourhood of Bristol or London.
Macquarie Street runs North and South about what seemed to us 2 miles, for we had to go from one end to the other and, not having lately walked much, made it appear much longer than in reality it is, being little more than a mile. In this street is the Government House, of rather a poor description, but in a garden surrounded by a hedge of geraniums in full blossom, which together with the wallflowers and a great variety of English plants, made us feel quite at home. The houses in this street for the most part are detached and have gardens round them and it is very like the Bath road at Cheltenham, but the houses not so good.
We now wandered into Elizabeth St, where are some excellent shops and I observed Teggs the bookseller. I went in and found the young man knew Mr Williams of Cheltenham very well. We had a long chat. We called on Mr Crowther, Surgeon, who was out. Mrs C was extremely kind and polite, offered us anything we could take and gave us a good quantity of apples, quite a treat: they are selling here 3/- dozen. Mr C is the brother of Mrs Cockle with whom Miss Goldstone is living. He has been in the colony many years and never heard from his sister. So our news was very acceptable.
We then called on Mrs Household, the sister of Mrs Cain, and found them well; they give a very bad account of the Colony - indeed all seem to complain of the want of money. A Gentleman of extensive business connexion told me he had some of the finest Madeira wine, invoiced him two years since at 50/- Doz, for which he would not take 20/-, and many other things in like proportion. This has driven many speculative men to Port Phillip and South Australia, as they cannot do any good at Hobart Town.
We now saw the Soldiers exercised upon a hill near the town, having a fine & extensive view of the harbour, town and surrounding country. Then into a Pastrycook's, where the Bath buns and Banbury cakes were just as at home. Then returned to the ship. The whale fishery is now the principal trade of Hobart Town, and as it is carried on at so little expense compared with what it used to be, where a ship was fitted up for a voyage of 3 or 4 years, here they only erect boiling houses on the shore and send out boats to strike the whale and haul it into the shore, where it is cut up. 4000 tons of oil was last year sent to London.
I again went on shore with the Captain to get his papers from the Customs House. We also called on the Bishtons at their lodgings, which were very good and cheap. A large parlour well furnished with two bedrooms and waited upon for 30/- week. They seemed to feel leaving the ship very much and tho' we may say we missed them, we certainly did not regret the loss. We returned to the ship and at about 1/2 past three, we were again under weigh. The Wilmot was off about an hour before us, for Sydney also, and as some of their men had been on board our ship cracking about the sailing, our sailors felt anxious that we might beat them, but this I did not expect, as she had discharged nearly all her cargo and was in much better trim than our ship. They walked away from us and before night were lost to our view.
The wind was due North which sent us out of the River & Storm Bay well before night, but when out at sea, we had to beat up the wind, being right ahead and very fresh, with a good sea on.
Off Cape Pillar still beating up - a barque on the same tack as ourselves: found it was the Isabella, that had left the day before us and was going to Newcastle. We continued in sight of land all day and at night the wind fell off to a calm, and afterwards freshened from the Westward.
A fine day and the ship going nicely thro' the water with the wind free.
Sunday 26 lat 40°.10 -
The barque still in sight and the ship continues as yesterday. Should it last, we should see Sydney Tuesday.
We are now off Bass's Straits and see a sail going to Southward.
Monday 27th August
A most lovely morning. The coast of New Holland - Rame Head & Cape Howe distant about 20 miles.
Tuesday 28 Wednesday 29th
The wind foul but weather fine, and indeed charming. We are got out from the land so far as not to be able to see land.
The wind continued as yesterday till 3 PM when it suddenly changed to fair and we are going sweetly in the evening; however, we had a violent storm of thunder and lightning with hail. We are now under close reefed topsails & but half an hour before we had the studding sails all set. The sky looking very wild, as if we should have a gale but it gradually subsided.
A man was ordered up to the fore topgallant masthead to look out for the light on Sydney heads - as it can be seen 30 miles in clear weather. I was upon deck nearly all night, looking out very anxiously for the light, and at about 2 in the morning it was first seen.
Friday 31st August and last day of the voyage -
The morning was dark & the light shone very brilliant. I continued looking at it till daylight, by which we were in near land - opposite Botany Bay. The coast is very bold and like the English coast, the swell was very great tho' the wind was light. Ahead of us was a sail, which we took to be the Wilmot; we neared it fast and about 7 o'clock, I found it was a brig. We were admiring the spray beating up the rock, and the handsome lighthouse upon the rocks, when the Pilot boat pulled alongside. He was soon on deck and in command. He told us the Wilmot he had taken in at 11 o'clock last night and also the Arachne & Despatch had arrived from England yesterday; and other news of the day.
The brig ahead was the old Black Joke so notorious a fast sailer at Plymouth, she was originally a slaver, but now trades to Launceston, Van Diemen's Land. The Pilot's flag and signal announcing from whence we were was handled & instantly answered at the signal station, as well as our number, so that it was known at Sydney hours before we were there. We entered the heads at about 8 o'clock and on the first tack went to Windward of the Black Joke - but she continued to beat us [by] a quarter of an hour or so.
The entrance to Port Jackson is very fine: on either side are bays opening and disclosing the country covered with trees, beautifully green and now and then a house, a residence of Merchants. Some of them are splendid mansions and the situation of them is truly exquisite. Clearing a point we now see the windmills and near them the houses at Woolloomooloo, which is the "west end" of Sydney - tho' to the Eastward.
A little further, and Sydney opens to view; the shipping in the Port and all together at a distance looks quite enchanting. We passed Garden Island which is indeed like a garden, then Pinchgut, a barren rock in the middle of the stream. Near it were anchored the Arachne and Wilmot, the latter of which gave us three cheers as we passed her. We brought up and came to anchor about 11 o'clock in Sydney Cove.
The Beagle at Sydney Harbour, by Owen Stanley, 1840.
© National Maritime Museum, London
Our decks were soon covered with the friends of passengers expected; and also of the Captain. I had none, so I took my glass and gazed around at the scenery. Near us lay H.M.S. Alligator; also the Beagle [H.M.S. Beagle - which one presumes this to be - had returned to Britain in October 1836, after its five-year voyage with Darwin, but of course by 1838 was not yet famous on that account. JC] & Brittomart - and merchantmen innumerable. I did not expect to see a tithe the number; the Cove was literally all alive with boats &c. plying to & fro. Sydney is built upon a promontory jutting out into the water of Port Jackson. There is sufficient depth to float the largest ship close in shore.
I felt myself (in the midst of all this bustle) an oppression which you will wonder at; nearly every one seemed in good - I may say excellent - spirits, but I felt the weight of my responsibility in providing an honest living and the difficulties that always surround a new settler, from his ignorance. I also felt that I was about to leave the ship where I had been so comfortable and go and encounter hardships and privations perhaps I had never before dreamt of.
I looked here and there and every thing seemed alike indifferent to me when an object caught my eye which entirely changed the current of my thoughts and I seemed as much in spirits as the rest - it was the recognition of Mr F. Morris with another gentleman walking near Macquarie fort. I looked thro' my glass and was convinced it was him; I then jumped into a boat but before I could reach the shore, I had lost sight of him. I wandered all about looking out for him and inquiring but for some time to no purpose. At length I found he lived in Bridge Street, where I instantly went. I found him at home. I need scarcely say he was as much delighted to see me as I him. Mrs Morris also was very much pleased to hear of Mrs F being on board; she therefore instantly went with us to the ship where we left her with Mrs F & Emily whilst Mr Morris and myself went in quest of lodgings. We scoured the town but found none to suit in any way; at length I determined to take Mr M.'s drawing room and bedroom behind, whither we had our things conveyed. Mrs M. remained on board till evening and we did not leave the ship till the next day.
I have now finished but I perceive that I have omitted any account of the other passengers. In the Intermediate Steerage were Mr & Mrs Pearse and four children - a very excellent man, a farmer from Plymouth; Mrs Alger & two sons - the eldest about seventeen, a very interesting young man. These passengers have the same fare as the steerage, with two fresh meals a week, a bottle of porter or ale & one of wine.
In the Steerage were a Mr Shephard, a clerk [who] had been in an office in London; Mr Bennett and 4 children; and a man & woman, the servants of Mr Pearse. There were also in the intermediate which I have omitted Mrs Leons a jewess & her daughter going out in quest of her husband; and a boy & girl, about 14 each, under the care of the Captain to friends in the Colony.
Thus we had
In the cabin 10 Intermediate 11 Steerage 8 passengers Captain & Mrs Lister 2 Chief & Second Mate 2 Crew men & boys 20 In all 53 persons
[The journal ends here, but in an addendum, Fowles recounts his "first steps" in the colony. JCC]