Shipboard Diary of Samuel Butler Roman Emperor, London to Lyttelton, 1860
Samuel Butler, having resolved on emigrating to New Zealand, took his passage in the ill-fated ship 'Burmah,' which never reached her destination, and is believed to have perished with all on board. His berth was chosen, and the passage-money paid, when important alterations were made in the arrangements of the vessel, in order to make room for some stock which was being sent out to the Canterbury Settlement. The space left for the accommodation of the pas- sengers being thus curtailed, and the comforts of tbe voyage seeming likely to be much diminished, the writer was most providentially induced to change his ship, and, a few weeks later, secured a berth in another vessel. It is a windy, rainy day--cold withal; a little boat is putting off from the pier at Gravesend, and making for a ship that is lying moored in the middle of the river;, therein are some half-dozen passengers and a lot of heterogeneous-looking luggage; among the passengers, and the owner of some of the most heterogeneous of the heterogeneous luggage, is myself. The ship is an emigrant ship, and I am one of the emigrants. On having clambered over the ship's side and found myself on deck, I was somewhat taken aback with the apparently inextricable confusion of everything on board; the slush upon the decks, the crying, the kiss- ing, the mustering of the passengers, the stowing away of baggage still left upon the decks, the rain and the gloomy sky created a kind of half-amusing, half-dis- tressing bewilderment, which I could plainly see to be participated in by most of the other landsmen on board. Honest country agriculturists and their wives were looking as though they wondered what it would end in; some were sitting on their boxes and making a show of reading tracts which were being presented to them by a serious-looking gentleman in a white tie; but all day long they had perused the first page only, at least I saw none turn over the second. And so the afternoon wore on, wet, cold, and com- fortless-no _dinner served on account of the general confusion. The emigration commissioner was taking a final survey of the ship and shaking hands with this, that, and the other of the passengers. Fresh arrivals kept continually creating a little additional excitement -these were saloon passengers, who alone were per- mitted to join the ship at Gravesend. By and by a couple of policemen made their appearance and arrested one of the party, a London cabman, for debt. He had a large family, and a subscription was soon started to pay the sum he owed. Subsequently, a much larger subscription would have been made in order to have him taken away by anybody or anything. Little by little the confusion subsided. The emi- gration commissioner left; at six we were at last allowed some victuals. Unpacking my books and arranging them in my cabin filled up the remainder of the evening, save the time devoted to a couple of medi- tative pipes. The emigrants went to bed, and when, at about ten o'clock, I went up for a little time upon the poop, I heard no sound save the clanging of the clocks from the various churches of Gravesend, the pattering of rain upon the decks, and the rushing of the river as it gurgled against the ship's side. Early next morning the cocks began to crow voci- ferously. We had about sixty couple of the oldest inhabitants of the hen-roost on board, which were intended for the consumption of the saloon passengers ---a destiny which they have since fulfilled: young fowls die on shipboard, only old ones standing the weather about the line. Besides this, the pigs began grunting and the sheep gave vent to an occasional feeble bleat, the only expression of surprise or discon- tent which I heard them utter during the remainder of their existence, for now, alas! they are no more. I remember dreaming I was in a farm-yard, and woke as soon as it was light. Rising immediately, I went on deck and found the morning calm and sulky-no rain, but everything very wet and very grey. There was Tilbury Fort, so different from Stanfield's dashing pic- ture. There was Gravesend, which but a year before I had passed on my way to Antwerp with so little notion that I should ever leave it thus. Musing in this way, and taking a last look at the green fields of old England, soaking with rain, and comfortless though they then looked, I soon became aware that we had weighed anchor, and that a small steam-tug which had been getting her steam up for some little time had already begun to subtract a mite of the distance between our- selves and New Zealand. And so, early in the morn- ing of Saturday, October 1, 1859, we started on our voyage. The river widened out hour by hour. Soon our little steam-tug left us. A fair wind sprung up, and at two o'clock, or thereabouts, we found ourselves off Rams- gate. Here we anchored and waited till the tide, early next morning. This took us to Deal, off which we again remained a whole day. On Monday morning we weighed anchor, and since then we have had it on the forecastle, and trust we may have no further occa- sion for it until we arrive at New Zealand. I will not waste time and space by describing the horrible sea-sickness of most of the passengers, a misery which I did not myself experience, nor yet will I pro- long the narrative of our voyage down the channel--it was short and eventless. The captain says there is more danger between Gravesend and the Start Point (where we lost sight of land) than all the way between there and New Zealand. Fogs are so frequent and collisions occur so often. Our own passage was free from adventure. In the Bay of Biscay the water assumed a blue hue of almost incredible depth ; there, moreover, we had our first touch of a gale---not that it deserved to be called a gale in comparison with what we have since experienced, still we learnt what double- reefs meant. After this the wind fell very light, and continued so for a few days. On referring to my diary, I perceive that on the 10th of October we had only got as far south as the forty-first parallel of latitude, and late on that night a heavy squall coming up from the SW. brought a foul wind with it. It soon freshened, and by two o'clock in the morning the noise of the flap- ping sails, as the men were reefing them, and of the wind roaring through the rigging, was deafening. All next day we lay hove to under a close-reefed main-topsail, which,being interpreted, means that the only sail set was the main-topsail, and that that was close reefed; more- over, that the ship was laid at right angles to the wind and the yards braced sharp up. Thus a ship drifts very slowly, and remains steadier than she would other- wise; she ships few or no seas, and,. though she rolls a good deal, is much more easy and safe than when run- ning at all near the wind. Next day we drifted due north, and on the third day, the fury of the gale having somewhat moderated, we resumed---not our course, but a course only four points off it. The next several days we were baffled by foul winds, jammed down on the coast of Portugal; and then we had another gale from the south, not such a one as the last, but still enough to drive us many miles out of our course; and then it fell calm, which was almost worse, for when the wind fell the sea rose, and we were tossed about in such a manner as would have forbidden even Morpheus himself to sleep. And so we crawled on till, on the morning of the 24th of October, by which time, if we had had anything like luck, we should have been close on the line, we found ourselves about thirty miles from the Peak of Teneriffe, becalmed. This was a long way out of our course, which lay three or four degrees to the westward at the very least; but the sight of the Peak was a great treat, almost compensating for past misfortunes. The Island of Teneriffe lies in latitude 28°, longitude 16°. It is about sixty miles long; towards the southern extremity the Peak towers upwards to a height of 12,300 feet, far above the other land of the island, though that too is very elevated and rugged. Our telescopes revealed serrated gullies upon the mountain sides, and showed us the fastnesses of the island in a manner that made us long to explore them. We deceived ourselves with the hope that some speculative fisherman might come out to us with oranges and grapes for sale. He would have realised a handsome sum if he had, but unfor- tunately none was aware of the advantages offered, and so we looked and longed in vain. The other islands were Palma, Gomera, and Ferro, all of them lofty, especially Palma---all of them beautiful. On the sea- board of Palma we could detect houses innumerable; it seemed to be very thickly inhabited and carefully cul- tivated. The calm continuing three days, we took stock of the islands pretty minutely, clear as they were, and rarely obscured even by a passing cloud; the weather was blazing hot, but beneath the awning it was very delicious ; a calm, however, is a monotonous thing even when an island like Teneriffe is in view, and we soon tired both of it and of the gambols of the blackfish (a species of whale), and the operations on board an American vessel hard by. On the evening of the third day a light air sprung up, and we watched the islands gradually retire into the distance. Next morning they were faint and shrunken, and by mid-day they were gone. The wind was the commencement of the north-east trades. On the next day (Thursday, October 27, lat. 27° 40') the cook was boiling some fat in a large saucepan, when the bottom burnt through and the fat fell out over the fire, got lighted, and then ran about the whole galley, blazing and flaming as though it would set the place on fire, whereat an alarm of fire was raised, the effect of which was electrical: there was no real danger about the affair, for a fire is easily extinguishable on a ship when only above board; it is when it breaks out in the hold, is unperceived, gains strength, and finally bursts its prison, that it becomes a serious matter to extinguish it. This was quenched in five minutes, but the faces of the female steerage passengers were awful. I noticed about many a peculiar contraction and elevation of one eyebrow, which I had never seen before on the living human face, though often in pictures. I do n't mean to say that all the faces of all the saloon passengers were void of any emotion whatever. The trades carried us down to latitude 9°. They were but light while they lasted, and left us soon. There is no wind more agreeable than the NE. trades. The sun keeps the air deliciously warm, the breeze deliciously fresh. The vessel sits bolt upright, steering a SSW. course, with the wind nearly aft: she glides along with scarcely any perceptible motion; sometimes, in the cabin, one would fancy one must be on dry land. The sky is of a greyish blue, and the sea silver grey, with a very slight haze round the horizon. The water is very smooth, even with a wind which would elsewhere raise a considerable sea. In lat. 19°, long. 25°, we first fell in with flying fish. These are usually in flocks, and are seen in greatest abundance in the morning ; they fly a great way and very well, not with the kind of jump which a fish takes when springing out of the water, but with a bonā fide flight, sometimes close to the water, sometimes some feet above it. One flew on board, and measured roughly eighteen inches between the tips of its wings. On Saturday, November 5,. the trades left us suddenly after a thunder-storm, which gave us an opportunity of seeing chain lightning, which I only remember to have seen once in England. As soon as the storm was over, we perceived that the wind was gone, and knew that we had entered that unhappy region of calms which extends over a belt of some five degrees rather to the north of the line. We knew that the weather about the line was often calm, but had pictured to ourselves a gorgeous sun, golden sunsets, cloudless sky, and sea of the deepest blue. On the contrary, such weather is never known there, or only by mistake. It is a gloomy region. Sombre sky and sombre sea. Large cauliflower-headed masses of dazzling cumulus tower in front of a back- ground of lavender-coloured satin. There are clouds of every shape and size. The sails idly flap as the sea rises and falls with a heavy regular but windless swell. Creaking yards and groaning rudder seem to lament that they cannot get on. The horizon is hard and black, save when blent softly into the sky upon one quarter or another by a rapidly approaching squalL A puff of wind - 'Square the yards!'-the ship steers again; another- she moves slowly onward; it blows-she slips through the water; it blows hard-she runs; very hard-she flies; a drop of rain-the wind lulls; three or four more of the size of half-a-crown-it falls very light; it rains hard, and then the wind is dead-whereon the rain comes down in a torrent which those must see who would believe. The air is so highly charged with moisture that any damp thing remains damp and any dry thing dampens: the decks are always wet. Mould springs up anywhere, even on the very boots which one is wearing; the atmosphere is like that of a vapour bath, and the dense clouds seem to ward off the light, but not the heat, of the sun. The dreary monotony of such weather affects the spirits of all, and even the health of some. One poor girl who had long been consumptive, but who apparently had rallied much during the voyage, seemed to give way suddenly as soon as we had been a day in this belt of calms, and four days after, we lowered her over the ship's side into the deep. One day we had a little excitement in capturing a shark, whose triangular black fin had been veering about above water for some time at a little distance from the ship. I will not detail a process that has so often been described, but will content myself with saying that he did not die unavenged, inasmuch as he administered a series of cuffs and blows to anyone that was near him which would have done credit to a prize-fighter, and several of the men got severe handling or, I should rather say, 'tailing' from him. He was accompanied by two beautifiilly striped pilot fish-the never-failing attendante of the shark. One day during this calm we fell in with a current, when the aspect of the sea was completely changed. It resembled a furiously rushing river, and had the sound belonging to a strong stream, only much intensified; the waves, too, tossed up their heads perpendicularly into the air, whilst the empty flour-casks drifted ahead of us and to one side. It was impossible to look at the sea with- out noticing its very singular appearance. Soon a wind springing up raised the waves and obliterated the more manifest features of the current, but for two or three days afterwards we could perceive it more or less. There is always at this time of year a strong westerly set here. The wind was the commencement of the SE. trades, and was welcomed by all with the greatest pleasure. In two days more we reached the line. We crossed the line far too much to the west, in long. 31° 6', after a very long passage of nearly seven weeks, such as our captain says he never re- members to have made; fine winds, however, now began to favour us, and in another week we got out of the tropics, having had the sun vertically overhead, so as to have no shadow, on the preceding day. Strange to say, the weather was never at all oppressively hot after lat. 2° porth, or thereabouts. A fine wind, or indeed a light wind, at sea removes all unpleasant heat even of the hottest and most perpendicular sun. The only time that we suffered any inconvenience at all from heat was during the belt of calms ; when the sun was vertically over our heads it felt no hotter than on an ordinary summer day. Immediately, however, upon leaving the tropics the cold increased sensibly, and in lat. 27° 8' I find that I was not warm once all day. Since then we have none of us ever been warm, save when taking exercise or in bed; when the thermometer was up at 50°we thought it very high and called it warm. The reason of the much greater cold of the southern than of the northern hemisphere is that the former contains so much less land. I have not seen the ther- mometer below 42° in my cabin, but am sure that out- side it has often been very much lower. We almost all got chilblains, and wondered much what the winter of this hemisphere must be like if this was its summer : I believe, however, that as soon as we get off the coast of Australia, which I hope we may do in a couple of days, we shall feel a very sensible rise in the thermo- meter at once. Had we known what was coming, we should have prepared better against it, but we were most of us under the impression that it would be warm summer weather all the way. No doubt we felt it more than we should otherwise, on account of our having so lately crossed the line. The great feature of the southern seas is the multi- tude of birds which inhabit it. Huge albatrosses, molimorks (a smaller albatross), Cape hens, Cape pigeons, parsons, boobies, whale birds, mutton birds, and many more, wheel continually about the ship's stern, sometimes in dozens, sometimes in scores, always in considerable numbers. If a person takes two pieces of pork and ties them together, leaving perbaps a yard of string between the two pieces, and then throws them into the sea, one albatross will catch hold of one end, and another of the other, each bolts his own end and then tugs and fights with his rival till one or other has to disgorge his prize; we have not, however, succeeded in catching any, neither have we tried the above experiment ourselves. Albatrosses are not white; they are grey, or brown with a white streak down the back, and spreading a little into the wings. The under part of the bird is a bluish-white. They remain without moving the wing a longer time than any bird that I have ever seen, but some suppose that each individual feather is vibrated rapidly, though in very small space, without any motion being imparted to the main pinions of the wing. I am informed that there is a strong muscle attached to each of the large plumes in their wings. It certainly is strange how so large a bird should be able to travel so far and so fast without any motion of the wing. Albatrosses are often entirely brown, but farther south, and when old, I am told, they become sometimes quite white. The stars of the southern hemisphere are lauded by some: I cannot see that they surpass or equal those of the northern. Some, of course, are the same. The southern cross is a very great delusion. It isn't a cross. It is a kite, a kite upside down, an irregular kite upside down, with only three respectable stars and one very poor and very much out of place. Near it, however, is a truly mys- terious and interesting object called the coal sack : it is a black patch in the sky distinctly darker than all the rest of the heavens. No star shines through it. The proper name for it is the black Magellan cloud. We reached the Cape, passing about six degrees south of it, in twenty-five days after crossing the line, a very fair passage; and since the Cape we have done well until a week ago, when, after a series of very fine runs, and during as fair a breeze as one would wish to see, we were some of us astonished to see the captain giving orders to reef topsails. The royals were stowed, so were the top-gallant-sails, topsails close reefed, mainsail reefed, and just at 10.45 p.m., as I was going to bed, I heard the captain give the order to take a reef in the foresail and furl the mainsail; but before I was in bed a quarter of an hour afterwards, a blast of wind came up like a wall, and all night it blew a regular hurricane. The glass, which had dropped very fast all day, and fallen lower than the captain had ever seen it in the southern hemisphere, had given him warning what was coming, and he had prepared for it. That night we ran away before the wind to the north, next day we lay hove-to till evening, and two days afterwards the gale was repeated, but with still greater violence. The captain was all ready for it, and a ship, if she is a good sea-boat, may laugh at any winds or any waves provided she be prepared. The danger is when a ship has got all sail set and one of these bursts of wind is shot out at her; then her masts go overboard in no time. Sailors generally estimate a gale of wind by the amount of damage it does, if they don't lose a mast or get their bulwarks washed away, or at any rate carry away a few sails, they don't callit a gale, but a stiff breeze; if, how- ever, they are caught even by comparatively a very inferior squall, and lose something, they call it a gale. The captain assured us that the sea never assumes a much grander or more imposing aspect than that which it wore on this occasion. He called me to look at it between two and three in the morning when it was at its worst; it was certainly very grand, and made a tremendous noise, and the wind would scarcely let one stand, and made such a roaring in the rigging as I never heard, but there was not that terrific appearance that I had expected. It didn't suggest any ideas to one's mind about the possibility of anything happening to one. It was excessively unpleasant to be rolled hither and thither, and I never felt the force of gravity such a nuisance before; one's soup at dinner would face one at an angle of 45° with the horizon, it would look as though immoveable on a steep inclined plane, and it required the nicest handling to keep the plane truly horizontal. So with one's tea, which would alternately rush forward to be drunk and fly as though one were a Tantalus, so with allone's goods, which would be seized with the most erratic propensities. Still we were unable to imagine ourselves in any danger, save that one flaxen- headed youth of two-and-twenty kept waking up his companion for the purpose of saying to him at intervals during the night,'I say, N____, isn't it awful?' till finally N____ silenced him with a boot. While on the subject of storms I may add, that a captain, if at all a scientific man, can tell whether he is in a cyclone (as we were) or not, and if he is in a cyclone he can tell in what part of it he is, and how he must steer so as to get out of it. A cyclone is a storm that moves in a circle round a calm of greater or less diameter; the calm moves forward in the centre of the rotatory storm at the rate of from one or two to thirty miles an hour. A large cyclone 500 miles in diameter, rushing furiously round its centre, will still advance in a right line, only very slowly indeed. A small one 50 or 60 miles across will progress more rapidly. One vessel sailed for five days at the rate of 12, 13, and 14 knots an hour round one of these cyclones before the wind all the time, yet in the five days she had made only 187 miles in a straight line. I tell this tale as it was told to me, but have not studied the subjects myself. Whatever saloon passengers may think about a gale of wind, I am sure that the poor sailors who have to go aloft in it and reef topsails cannot welcome it with any pleasure. BEFORE continuing the narrative of my voyage, I must turn to other topics and give you some account of my life on board. My time has passed very pleasantly: I have read a good deal; I have nearly finished Gibbon's 'Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire,' am studying Liebig's 'Agricultural Chemistry,' and learning the concertina on the instrument of one of my fellow- passengers. Besides this, I have had the getting up and management of our choir. We practise three or four times a week; we chant the Venite, Glorias, and Te Deums, and sing one hymn. I have two basses, two tenors, one alto, and lots of girls, and the singing certainly is better than you would hear in nine country places out of ten. I have been glad by this means to form the acquaintance of many of the poorer passengers. My health has been very -good all the voyage: I have not had a day's sea-sickness. The provisions are not very first-rate, and the day after to-morrow, being Christmas Day, we shall sigh for the.roast beef of Old England, as our dinner will be somewhat of the meagrest. Never mind! On the whole I cannot see reason to find any great fault. We have a good ship, a good captain, and victuals sufficient in quantity. Everyone but myself abuses the owners like pick- pockets, but I rather fancy that some of them will find themselves worse off in New Zealand. When I come back, if I live to do so (and I sometimes amass a wonderful fortune in a very short time, and come back fabulously rich, and do all sorts of things), I think I shall try the overland route. Almost every evening four of us have a very pleasant rubber, which never gets stale. So you will have gathered that, though very anxious to get to our journey's end, which, with luck, we hope to do in about three weeks' time, still the voyage has not proved at all the unbearable thing that some of us imagined it would have been. One great amusement I have forgotten to mention-that is, shufne-board, a game which consists in sending some round wooden platters along the deck into squares chalked and num- bered from one to ten. This game will really keep one quite hot in the coldest weather if played with spirit. During the month that has elapsed since writing the last sentence, we have had strong gales and long tedious calms. On one of these occasions the captain lowered a boat, and a lot of us scrambled over the ship's side and got in, taking it in turns to row. The first thing that surprised us was the very much warmer temperature of the sea-level than that on deck. The change was astonishing. I have suffered from a severe cold ever since my return to the ship. On deck it was cold, thermometer 46°; on the sea-level it was deliciously warm. The next thing that surprised us was the way in which the ship was pitching, though it appeared a dead calm. Up she rose and down she fell upon a great hummocky swell which came lazily up from the SW., making our horizon from the boat all uneven. On deck we had thought it a very slight swell; in the boat, we perceived what a heavy, humpy, ungainly heap of waters kept rising and sinking all round us, sometimes blocking out the whole ship, save the top of the main royal, in the strangest way in the world. We pulled round the ship, thinking we bad never in our lives seen anything so beautiful as she then looked in the sunny morning, when suddenly we saw a large ripple in the waters not far off. At first the captain imagined it to have been caused by a whale, and was rather alarmed, but by and by it turned out to be nothing but a shoal of fish. Then we made for a large piece of sea-weed which we had seen some way astern. It extended some ten feet deep, and was a huge, tangled, loose, floating mass; among it nestled little fishes innumerable, and as we looked down amid its intricate branches through the sun-lit azure of the water, the effect was beautiful. This mass we attached to the boat, and with great labour and long time succeeded in getting it up to the ship, the little fishes following behind the sea-weed. It was impossible to lift it on board, so we fastened it to the ship's side and came in to luncheon. After lunch some ropes were arranged to hoist the ladies in a chair over the ship's side and lower them into the boat--a process which created much merriment. Into the boat we put half a dozen of champagne-a sight which gave courage to one or two to brave the descent who had not previously ventured on such a feat. Then the ladies were pulled round the ship, and, when about a mile ahead of her, we drank the champagne and had a regular jollification. Returning to show them the sea-weed, the little fishes looked so good that some one thought of a certain net wherewith the doctor catches ocean insects, porpytas, clios, spinulas, &c. With this we caught in half an hour, amid much screaming, laughter, and unspeakable excitement, no less than 250 of them. They were about five inches long-funny little blue fishes with wholesome-looking scales. We ate them next day, and they were excel- lent. Some expected that we should have swollen or suffered some bad effects, but no evil happened to us: not but wbat these deep-sea fishes are frequently poison- ous, but I believe that scaly fishes are always harmless. We returned by half-past three, after a most enjoyable day; but, as proof of the beat being much greater in the boat, I may mention that one of the party lost the skin from his face and arms, and that we were all much sunburnt even in so short a time; yet one man who bathed that day said he had never felt such cold water in his life. We are now (January 21) in great hopes of sighting land in three or four days, and are really beginning to feel near the end of our voyage: not that I can realise this to myself; it seems as though I had always been on board the ship, and was always going to be, and as if all my past life had not been mine, but had belonged to somebody else, or as though some one had taken mine and left me his by mistake. I expect, however, that when the land actually comes in sight we shall have little difficulty in realising the fact that the voyage has come to a close. The weather has been much warmer since we have been off the coast of Australia, even though Australia is some 10° north of our present position. I have not, however, yet seen the thermometer higher than 56° since we passed the Cape. Now we are due south of the south point of Van Diemen's Land, and consequently nearer land than we have been for some time. We are making for the Snares, two high islets about sixty miles south of Stewart's Ļsland, the southern- most of the New Zealand group. We sail immediately to the north of them, and then tura up suddenly. The route we have to take passes between the Snares and the Traps--two rather ominous-sounding names, but I believe more terrible in name than in any other particular. January 22.-Yesterday at mid-day I was sitting writing in my cabin, when I heard the joyful cry of 'Land!' and, rushing on deck, saw the swelling and beautiful outline of the high land in Stewart's Island. We had passed close by the Snares in the morning, but the weather was too thick for us to see them, though the birds flocked therefrom in myriads. We then passed between the Traps, which the captain saw distinctly, one on each side of him, from the main topgallant yard. Land continued in sight till sunset, but since then it has disappeared. To-day (Sunday) we are speeding up the coast; the anchors are ready, and to-morrow by early daylight we trust to drop them in the harbour of Lyttelton. We have reason, from certain newspapers, to believe that the mails leave on the 23rd of the month, in which case I shall have no time or means to add a single syllable. January 26.-Alas for the vanity of human specu- lation! After writing the last paragraph the wind fell light, then sprung up foul, and so we were slowly driven to the ENE. On Monday night it blew hard, and we had close-reefed topsails. Tuesday morning at five it was lovely, and the reefs were all shaken out; a light air sprang up, and the ship, at 10 o'clock, had come up to her course, when suddenly, without the smallest warn- ing, a gale came down upon us from the SW. like a wall. The men were luckily very smart in taking in canvass, but at one time the captain thought he should have had to cut away the mizenmast. We were reduced literally to bare poles, and lay-to under a piece of tar- paulin, six times doubled, and about two yards square, fastened up in the mizen rigging. All day and night we lay thus, drifting to leeward at three knots an hour. In the twenty-four hours we had drifted sixty miles. Next day the wind moderated; but at 12 we found that we were eighty miles north of the peninsula and some 3° east of it. So we set a little sail, and commenced forereach- ing slowly on our course. Little and little the wind died, and it soon fell dead calm. That evening (Wednesday), some twenty albatrosses being congregated like a flock of geese round the ship's stern, we succeeded in catching some of them, the first we had caught on the voyage. We would have let them go again, but the sailors think them good eating, and begged them of us, at the same time prophesying two days' foul wind for every albatross taken. It was then dead calm, but a light wind sprang up in the night, and on Thursday we sighted Bank's Peninsula. Again the wind fell tantalisingly light, but we kept drawing slowly toward land. In the beautiful sunset sky, crimson and gold, blue, silver, and purple, exquisite and tranquillising, lay ridge behind ridge, out- line behind outline, sunlight behind shadow, shadow behind sunlight, gully and serrated ravine. Hot puffs of wind kept coming from the land, and there were several fires burning. I got my arm-chair on deck, and smoked a quiet pipe with the intensest satisfaction. Little by little the night drew down, and then we rounded the headlands. Strangely did the waves sound breaking against the rocks of the harbour ; strangely, too, looked the outlines of the mountains through the night. Presently we saw a light ahead from a ship: we drew slowly near, and as we passed you might have heard a pin drop. 'What ship's that?' said a strange voice.- 'The Roman Emperor,' said the captain. 'Are you all well?' - 'All well.' Then the captain asked, 'Has the Robert Small arrived ?' --- 'No,' was the answer, 'nor yet the Burmah.' You may imagine what I felt. Then a rocket was sent up, and the pilot came on board. He gave us a roaring republican speech on the subject of India, China, &c. I rather admired him, especially as he faithfully promised to send us some fresh beefsteaks and potatoes for breakfast. A north-wester sprung up as soon as we had dropt anchor : had it commenced a little sooner we should have had to put out again to sea. That night I packed a knap- sack to go on shore, but the wind blew so hard that no boat could put off till one o'clock in the day, at which hour I and one or two others landed, and, proceeding to the post office, were told there were no letters for us. I afterwards found mine had gone hundreds of miles away to a namesake-a cruel disappointment. A few words concerning the precautions advisable for anyone who is about to take a long sea-voyage may perhaps be useful. First and foremost, unless provided with a companion whom he well knows and can trust, he must have a cabin to himself. There are many men with whom one can be on excellent terms when not compelled to be perpetually with them, but whom the propinquity of the same cabin would render simply intolerable. It would not even be particularly agree- able to be awakened during a hardly-captured wink of sleep by the question 'Is it not awful?' that, however, would be a minor inconvenience. No one, I am sure, will repent paying a few pounds more for a single cabin who has seen the inconvenience that others have suffere.d from having a drunken or disagreeable com- panion in so confined a space. It is not even like a large room. He should have books in plenty, both light and solid. A folding arm-chair is a great com- fort, and a very cheap one. In the hot weather I found mine invaluable, and, in the bush, it will still come in usefully. He should have a little table and common chair: these are real luxuries, as all who have trķed to write, or seen others attempt it, from a low arm-chair at a washing-stand will readily acknowledge. A small disinfecting charcoal filter is very desirable. Ship's water is often bad, and the ship's filter may be old and defective. Mine has secured me and others during the voyage pure and sweet-tasting water, when we could not drink that supplied us by the ship. A bottle or two of raspberry vinegar will be found a luxury when near the line. By the aid of these means and appliances I have succeeded in making myself ex- ceedingly comfortable. A small chest of drawers would have been preferable to a couple of boxes for my clothes, and I should recommend another to get one. A ten- pound note will suffice for all these things. The bunk should not be too wide: one rolls so in rough weather; of course it should not be athwartships, if avoidable. No one in his right mind will go second class if he can, by any hook or crook, raise money enough to go first. On the whole, there are many advantageous results from a sea-voyage. One's geography improves apace, and numberless incidents occur pregnant with interest to a landsman; moreover, there are sure to be many on board who have travelled far and wide, and one gains a great deal of information about all sorts of races and places. One effect is, perhaps, pernicious, but this will probably soon wear off on land. It awakens an adventurous spirit, and kindles a strong desire to visit almost every spot upon the face of the globe. The captain yarns about California and the China seas-the doctor about Valparaiso and the Andes -another raves about Hawaii and the Islands of the Pacific-while a fourth will compare nothing with Japan. The world begins to feel very small when one finds one can get half round it in three months; and one mentally determines to visit all these places before coming back again, not to mention a good many more. I search my diary in vain to find some pretermitted adventure wherewith to give you a thrill, or, as good Mrs. B. calls it, 'a feel;' but I can find none. The mail is going; I will write again by the next. Source: A First Year in Canterbury by Samuel Butler, 1863 Converted to electronic form by Corey Woodw@rd
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