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Hence there was never any occasion for us to have recourse to the caboose; but, on the contrary, when the frequent gales of wind which we experienced caused the sea to break over the vessel, the cabin-boy solicited leave to dress his dinner on our fire. In relating these circumstances, I must claim the indulgence of the reader not to rank me among the courtiers of Alcinous, men, fruges consumere nati. My only motive is to suggest to the enterprising traveller at how small an expence he may be enabled to cross the Atlantic.
The cabin was by no means an enviable place. It offered neither accommodation nor society. Its passengers consisted of an Unitarian priest and family, and two itinerant merchants. The steerage groupe was composed of a good, jolly, Somersetshire farmer and his housekeeper, who were going to settle in Pennsylvania, of the two young gentlemen I have already mentioned, and myself. Having repeatedly crossed the Equator, and doubled the Cape of Good Hope, there is no occasion for me to say that the ocean was familiar to me; and that, while the other passengers were sick and dejected, I was in health and good spirits. To the roll of the vessel I was fully accustomed; but my companions not having gotten their sea legs on board, tumbled grievously about the decks. The library which I had brought with me, consisted of nearly three hundred volumes, and would have endeared me to any place. The Muses, whom I never ceased to woo, blessed
me, I thought, not infrequently, with their nightly visitations; and I soothed my mind to tranquillity with the fancied harmony of my verse.
Ridentur mala qui componunt carmina: verum
Being an old sailor, I had provided myself with a cot, which, by making me insensible to the roll of the vessel, would, I thought, render my sleep more tranquil and undisturbed than a cabin. But I cannot say my slumbers the first night were very soft; for, hanging in the wake of the hatchway, the breeze from the deck made my situation very unpleasant. Foreseeing also that I was exposed to the deluge of every sea the brig should ship on the passage, I unhung my cot, and put it into a spare fore and aft cabin, which, to my satisfaction, I found, afterwards, was the only dry one in the steerage. The wind being favourable on getting under weigh, we profited from the occasion by shaking out the reefs, and shewing all our canvass to the breeze.
[* Epist., II, 2, 106.]
The old housekeeper, the very type of Dame Leonarda in Gil Blas, was the first among the passengers that began to hold up her head; and the fourth day of our voyage she murdered an old hen to regale a poor sick gentleman, who thought he could relish some chicken broth. We had scarcely been out a week, when we experienced a gale of wind that was not less disastrous than tremendous. A sea which broke over the quarter washed a hencoop from its lashing, and drowned nearly three dozen of fowls. But it is an ill wind that blows nobody any good. The sailors made the fowls into an huge sea-pye of three decks, which they called the United States Man of War, and fed on it eagerly.
There was a carter in the vessel, who came on board to work his passage; but he did very little work. Whenever a porpoise or even a gull was visible, he considered it the presage of a storm, and became himself invisible till it was over.
A report being circulated that the rats had left the vessel when in harbour, Coster Pearman concluded that they had done it by instinct; and, as an opinion prevails among sailors that a ship, on such an event, never gets safe to her port of desination, the booby gave himself up for lost.
for lost. But hearing one night a rat scratch against the vessel's side, he ran upon deck in his shirt to proclaim it to the sailors, calling out with a joyful tone of voice,“ Whoal hoal hoal a rat! a rat!”
The two Brothers was a miserably sailing tub, and her passage a most tedious one. Head winds constantly prevailed, and scarcely a week elapsed without our lying-to more than once. To scud her was impracticable, , as she would not steer small, and several times the Captain thought she was going to founder. Her cargo, which consisted of mill stones and old iron, made her strain so with rolling, that incessant pumping could hardly keep her free. She seemed to be fitted out by the parish; there was not a rope on board strong enough to hang a cat with. She had only one suit of sails, not a single spar, and her cordage was old. If a sail was split by the wind, there was no other alternative but to mend it; and when, after being out six weeks, we had sprung our fore top mast, we were compelled to reef it. The same day, I remember, we fell in with a schooner from New York, which we spoke. It was on the 18th of February. She was bound to St. Sebastian. The seamen being employed, I volunteered my services to pull an oar on board her, which were readily accepted. Her Captain received us politely, and regaled us with some cyder. She had left port only a fortnight; but it took the ill-fated Two Brothers a month to get thither. . We parted with regret. The Captain of her was of a social, friendly disposition. As to our own skipper, he was passionately fond of visiting every vessel that he saw on the passage. If an old salt fish schooner hove in sight, he clamoured for his boarding-boots, and swore he would go to her if it were only to obtain a pint of molasses. Once, having hailed a vessel, he was justly rebuked. He told the Captain of her he would hoist out his boat and go to see him; but the man not approving, I suppose, his physiognomy, hauled aft his sheets and bore round up before the wind. The skipper had contracted these habits during the American war, when he commanded a small privateer; and he could not in his old age reclaim the foibles of his youth.
As we increased our longitude, the priest, in examining his barrels of white biscuit, found one of them emptied by other hands than his own. Suspicion fell on a sailor, whom he one day accused before the passengers, as he was standing at the helm. “ Did you not steal my biscuit, sirrah!” said the parson.
“I did, Sir," answered the fellow. And what, pray, can you say in defence of yourself?” “Why, Sir, I
Why, Sir, I can say—that when I crossed the Line, Neptune made me swear I would never eat brown bread when I could get white; and your barrel of white stood next my barrel of brown." This reply of the sailor was so happy and unexpected,