FRANCES PHENEY ON BOARD THE DALLAM TOWER Kindly provided by a descendant, any reproduction requires their permission.
November 1st I have just finished braiding my jacket so thought I would write a few lines of my diary, whether it will come to more than a page or two I don't know. I am not if I go on as I have begun, a fortnight out today and this is the first attempt I have made. I am writing this outside under difficulties, a camp stool for a table, and the ship rolling gracefully; I cannot write in our saloon - it is not only too close but so dirty. We procured a steward after a great deal of talking and enquiring, a bright specimen he is now we have him, poor man, he has to work 17 hours a day according to his own account. We think 7 hours ordinary working is as much as he gets through, the rest he spends in talking; today is the first time that dirty black floor has been scraped, and now it is only scraped near the door where it can be seen;-the cups and saucers are hung up as they are after tea, and wiped in the morning with a dirty cloth. At dinner the plates, knives and forks are thick with grease, and wet with salt water, the knives are never clean though he does profess to use Wellington polish. This clean young man explained to me how he managed. In the first place the water he washes up with is the same as the salt junk is boiled in — well, he first washes out his tea towel, (he has only one) then washes the plates and dries them on the towel, so "they are bound to be clean Miss, you know". This young man is a volunteer, that means he is working his passage and is of course obliging the company. He is going to make his fortune pig-hunting I believe. The rations have been very bad up till now, everyone has recovered I think so we are beginning to enquire into the whys and wherefores of things. Today for instance, the cook sent some preserved potatoes as he called them. Mrs. Shaw took them to the first steward who showed them to the Captain. In a few minutes in came a dish of very nice baked potatoes, plenty for us all and some to spare – not as we had them before, about 1/2 a one each; we had ham and hot rolls for breakfast, quite a feast, for dinner we had a sauce with ***** capers and boiled neck of mutton, plum pudding after with melted butter; the puddings are boiled in a mould with the salt junk. All this feasting was the result of speaking to the head steward, for we were nearly starved yesterday. It is true we had stewed duck but stew it was, so tough you could not get the flesh (what little there was) off the bones, so we looked at it and had some sour bread, cheese and onions. Everyone except two of the Midshipmen are new to the ship, the running gear aloft (as they call it) is so bad, and a great many of the ropes are brought down in the wrong places, so that the muddle the company seemed to make on shore is continued here as you may suppose. I daresay we shall get straight as soon as they know where all the ropes are and put them in their right places. The folks are beginning to look around them a bit. I will now try to discribe the people we are located with for the next three months, taking the first cabin first. There is a lady and gentleman with their 10 children. The eldest is 13, the youngest 16 months, all very pretty except for the youngest who is a very peevish child. He cries night and day much to the disgust of the officers who of course have only a certain time to sleep. Then there is that auburn haired gentleman (Mr. Ayrton) you pointed out to me and his sister Mrs. Atkinson, both belong to Otago. Mrs. A does not approve of the 2nd Class passengers going on the Poop. The 2nd Class folks are 6 adults and three children. November 2nd Since writing the last there has been such a row that I feel rather shaky. It happened thus; as we were sitting at tea last night, (which bye the bye we have at 6 o'clock and dinner at twelve) some thing was said about smoking. Mrs. S. immediately said she thought it a dirty, disgusting, filthy habit, and Mr. Richardson (that tall gentleman who came on board at Gravesend) was very much offended, for he a great smoker, in fact his pipe is never out of his mouth except at meals, but he had never smoked in the cabin in case it should annoy anyone. Mr. R. was not only offended but he displayed a temper we did not suppose he possessed, so violent that he was hardly master of himself. He did not know at first how to be revenged on Mrs. S. At last he hit upon a plan of annoying her through Mr. Nicholson, that peculiar young man in the cabin next to ours. Mr. R. first gave Mr. N. some beer and whisky and left him until it had got well hold of him and he had gone to bed. He then pulled him out at about 11 o'clock, gave him some more whisky, pushed him about, and made him swear dreadfully just outside Mrs. Shaw's door. Of course some of the sailors came to see, that game they kept up until after 12 o'clock. Mr. Shaw tried to stop them but Mr. Richardson threatened to black both his eyes if he spoke to him again. The Captain was spoken to next morning by Mr. Shaw, because they had upset their pails and things and it had all run into Mrs. S's cabin - how it will end I don't know. Mr. Richardson will never forget the insult I believe. He has not spoken to them yet, it will be very pleasant if they go on like that all the voyage, and we are likely to have a long one. Although we have been out a fortnight we are not more than 4 or 5 days sail from London. The ship is a good sailer, but we have had head winds all the time except one day. I will now proceed with my description of the passengers. Of the 2nd class you know enough except Mrs. Cooper and children. Mrs. C. is exceedingly nice, in fact as nice cabin companion as one could wish to have; she has brought such a lot of apples, wine and champagne, and makes me as welcome to them as if they were my own. The children are very nice too, they take it in turns to come up into my bed for a cuddle. This ship rolls tremendously. The other day our bucket tipped over, I thought to save the water going on the floor so placed it very carefully in my basin. With the next roll over it went altogether. Mrs. Shaw's cabin being the lowest it all ran in there, and wasn't she in a pretty rage. I thought we should be eaten up without any salt - of course we were very sorry but it was an accident that happens very often on board ship I should think. I know I had a nice treat to mop ours out after breakfast. The 3rd cabin passengers are rather a funny set. There is a Mr. & Mrs. Charles who are poorly but nice people. Mrs. C has attached herself to us — her husband who is much older than she is waits on her hand and foot; there is a Mr. &. Mrs. Garson with three children, (Irish) would be aristocrats that don't mix with any one. There is also another Irish family, 7 in number, the children are very rough. The rest are all single men, 5 in number, 3 are paddies - of course they mess together much to the disgust of the two Englishmen In Ireland fists are more useful than forks. There is a regular farmyard round me as I write, sheep, pigs, ducks and fowls, all taking an airing. We ought not to begrudge them a little more space for a time, but really they are a nuisance - they make the decks so nasty. There is plenty to laugh at on board and will be more bye and bye I have no doubt. I will now tell you of the Captain and Mates. The Captain is a nice fatherly old gentleman, he never speaks sharply to any one not even the men, but always in a quiet firm voice yet very kindly, he does not say very much. Mr. Barrow, the 1st Mate, is pleasant but very strict, that stout lady who went on shore in the tug with you was his wife; the second Mate is a Mr. Pankhurst of Hastings, it was his sister-in-law you took such a fancy to, he lost his mother about two months before he came on board; Mr. P seems very nice but quiet at present, it is early days yet; the third mates name (now don't laugh) is "Enoch Odling" - you will no doubt remember that short man we took for the Pilot's assistant - that's the man, he has lived in N.Z, for years and knows Cobbs coaches very well. He has some land at Wellington, and a nice little mare that will carry a lady. Mrs. C and I have many a laugh with him and walk too when the ship does not roll too much. Mr. O has a concertina which he plays very well, (so does the cook) I daresay we shall have some singing by and by. Nov 3rd Last night we had a dance on deck, to the music of the concertina played by the cook, and a cornet by a third class passenger. I danced with the third mate, Mrs.C with an aristocratic looking sailor, it was nearly dark. The next morning Mrs. Cooper could not make up her mind which one it was; we tried to get Mr. Nicholson to dance the Polka, but his feet were too heavy and his legs seem to dangle as if they did not belong to him. The sailors seem a very decent set of men, they were all sober when they came on board, and now there is no chance of getting tipsy, there is not a drop of rum on the ship. The Captain is a teetotalar. I forgot to mention part of the inhabitants of the 2nd cabin, in the shape of cockroaches. I sleep with my mouth shut now, but the other morning I woke up spitting something out of my mouth. It was too dark to see what it was I thought it best not to enquire. It is a wonder my pillow does not walk away for when I move it in the morning, I disturb about a hundred. I wish I could scetch. I would show you some fine sights, Mrs. Cooper's partner of last night for instance. They are washing the decks and are attired accordingly. I must leave off now, this is Saturday and I am going to scrape out our cabin, don't you wish me joy. The wind was very cantankerous last night — as soon as the sails and stunsails were set, down they had to come and the yards to be squared, our position is lat. 37 W long 15 S. The 3rd Mate wrote me out an account of last night - here it is; light variable winds and fine weather. 0.30 P.M. wind veering round to the north-east, squared our yards and set the fore topmost studding sail, on the starboard side, 9.30 wind hauling round to the southward, hauled the stunsail down again, and braced the yards on the Port tack 10 o'clock wind backing round to the northward and settling into a steady breeze. We were very dissipated yesterday I think I drank as much as three or four glasses of old port wine. It was Mrs. Cooper's sister-in-law's birthday so we had wine and cake, that is Mrs. Charles, Mrs. Cooper, the 2nd mate and 3rd mates (who are great friends of ours), and myself. In the evening we tried to get some more dancing but the decks were too wet. About 1/4 past 8 the 2nd and 3rd mates, being off duty, brought some wine and we stood around the capstan and had a nice little chat till 1/4 to ten. I felt rather inclined to try someones cap on but did not. November 4th I was very tired last night after my Saturdays cleaning, and this morning I am so stiff I can hardly move; we had church again this morning, the Captain read a sermon out of A Leisure hour I think, from the text "Do as thou hast said" 17 Sam 7 Chapter 25 verse. We had no singing. November 5th last night we had the lanterns outside the cabin and had some fine singing, my Moody and Sanky coming in very handy. It is the only one with the music on board, the 2nd Mate has a fine voice, we sang till my voice was nearly gone; there is to be a concert tonight I believe, Mr. Shaw being the conductor and general director. There will of course be a programme written out - if I can get it you shall have a copy. There is a talk of my setting up school for some of the children. I don't know if it will come off. We have seen several ships, one homeward bound with two masts gone. We can see Madeira in the distance but very faintly, no chance of going ashore. November 6th Our concert was not a great success, in the first place it was wet and the folks were shy and did not come until very late. In the second half. that very agreeable young man put a stop to it at eight precisely. He was so sharp that one of the sailors who was singing at the time left off in the middle of a word. To spite him we passengers sang several songs at the top of our voices. Today I finished making my jacket as far as I can. It wants a bit of fringe at the bottom. I am the only link between married people and children. The folks consequently take notice of all I do and who I speak to. I expect I shall get finely teased - they began already. There is a ball on tonight I believe. November 7th The Ball fared worse than the concert but not from the same cause. The musicians did not seem inclined to play anything but a polka. I danced that for ever so long with one of the sailors (such a nice dancer). Today I commenced some of my lacework. I don’t seem to take very kindly to it but I shall have to do it; I can't read, I have not read one book since I came on board, though I have made several attempts. There has been plenty to look at today in the shape of Whales. They came very close to the ship and we had a very good sight of then. November 8th Ten o'clock last night we were going 11˝ knots an hour. Today we are going about 7. When we catch the trades they expect to go 13 or l4 won't that be fine? I have been doing a little dressmaking this morning, anything for a change. It is getting rather warm but I am still wearing my green dress and flannels. I shall feel the comfort of leaving then off bye and bye. I have opened two pots of jam. One I was obliged to use for the pot was literally smashed to pieces tho’ it held together till I got the jam out. We are allowed jam once a week so I shall have plenty. I have not opened my biscuits yet. The sailors are very busy this last two or three days putting up new ropes. November 16th It is a week today since I wrote the last. The weather has not been favourable for writing outside and I really can't write inside. I should be stewed, the heat is dreadful in the berths. You may be sure we do not retire very early. You know how I take the heat, everyone else is to be seen mopping their faces and fanning themselves. The last three days the ship has been turned into a huge wash—house. We had some tropical rain, something like a water spout let loose so all hands have taken advantage of the soft water to wash all their "togs". Of course we were not behind hand and very soon had the cabin hung full of towels and handkerchiefs. We have seen several ships homeward bound but we were running too quickly to send letters on board- we must wait until we are becalmed. The cottons are all come out. I have worn mine three days and it is dirtier than a weeks wearing on shore. The provender has not improved. They seem to be short of everything but salt junk. A sheep died the night before last of what disease I know not, but I do know that it was cut up yesterday morning and given to the 1st and 2nd cabin to eat. We declined. The 1st cabin knew nothing about it until afterwards. There was a row about it, the steward declared he and the cook killed it but the cook had nothing to do with it. Yesterday afternoon the remainder was thrown overboard. I don't think we shall have any more dead sheep for dinner. As for the milk we have some dirty water to put in our tea (which is no better) and none for breakfast. We used to have plenty of bread but now we have it when we can get it. The dirt is not on the decrease rather the other way. Mrs. Cooper and I have taken to washing our own cups etc. We enjoy our meals the better for it for though we wash in cold and the steward in hot water we can always get the grease off and he can't (strange but true). Our bunks are so large that we only used three so last Saturday we pulled the top one (mine) down and got the carpenter to put up a shelf instead. We then nailed up a lot of pictures out of the Band of hope review and taped the looking glass in muslin, bound the edge of the berth with red cloth put a curtain up to hide the washing stand and with two or three other little arrangements we shall be very comfortable and look very nice. We expect to be at the line on Sunday. Tomorrow (Saturday) the dead horse is to be worked I believe. November 18th Yesterday was a day of adventures. We were first hurried up to see a shark that was caught and of course we afterwards partook, (a piece the size of a bees knee;) the next excitement was a row at dinner. They sent us for dinner salt junk, biscuits, cheese and sago pudding which last was mixed with fat off the grease (salt) pot and it stank. Accordingly we had biscuit and cheese and sent the pudding into the cabin. After dinner the Captain came and he decided it by saying if we were not satisfied we had better draw our own provisions and make them up ourselves - just what Mrs. C. and I had been wanting. But Mr. and Mrs. Shaw would not agree to it and the Captain had forbidden the steward put it out separately so we got in a nice fix. We did not know what to do. At last we took them and with a pair of scales belonging to Mrs. Cooper we measured out Mrs. Shaw's and we have taken the two single men and are going to do for them. The first result of this arrangement is that I had a proposal at the breakfast table this morning. One of the gentlemen not knowing what he should do with his provisions he told two or three people last night that he should get a wife then she would cook for him. Accordingly at breakfast he asked me if I could cook. I said I could manage it I daresay. "It is no use for you to get married if you don't" he said. I said "No". I was going to ask you to marry me he said. I will go and ask the Captain if he could get a ring and marry us! You will no doubt guess who it is - that nice looking gentleman who came on board with his brother. We had a laugh about it you may be sure. The wedding was to have been today but after considering it until dinner, I told him I was exceedingly sorry to wound him but I must decline his offer. We began our first cooking this morning in the shape of hot rolls and plum pudding. We made them all before breakfast and had a bath as well (that we have every morning). We turned out at four bells (6 o'clock), they all turned out very well for a first attempt. There was one thing about them which made up for any slight deficiency there might be, they were clean! Last night we had the dead horse put up for auction. The sailors got a pound for it. There was only two out of every dozen on board who had seen or heard of it before, it caused a deal of amusement seeing this thing drawn up to the yard arm with a man on his back. I should like to have gone up myself, I am afraid I feel rather wild I quite long to go up the rigging. We had church this morning, the sermon was from the same text as the last sermon I heard at Pimlico though it dwelt on the second verse rather than the first. It was the 7th and 8th verses of the last chapter of Galatians. We sang two hymns this morning; the Captain is a chapel man. There is a homeward bound speaking us for our longitude (the New Orleans). November 19th I made a loaf this morning and it turned out beautifully, better than the baker makes it; we get on very well with our new arrangement at present. We know everything is clean and we can do what we like with it. We don't get any fresh meat but that we must put up with, ve have plenty of the tinned; we had porridge for breakfast but no one would touch it but Mrs. C. and I. This morning at 1/2 past 9 o'clock we crossed the line. We have not been becalmed yet for longer than an hour or two. We go along on an average from 5 to 11 knots an hour so we shall in all propability reach our destination under 90 days. I am thinking of staying there for a few months at all events, and longer if it is not convenient to go farther, or I find I am doing well there. November 20th We are still spinning along but the ship is so on one side that it is as much toil to dress in the morning as it would be for you to whitewash a ceilling. I have cut out another cotton, being the third since the hot weather commenced. It is fitted and stitched and the buttonholes nearly made. My accomplishments are numerous. I turn my hand to any thing — making pastry, mending boots, carving boats or picture frames & varnishing, cutting tobacco and striking the bells. My friends are numerous. I can have almost any thing I like and have any thing done for me. November 21st More bread this morning but I don't know how it will turn out; we are to have soup and boulli for dinner. I wish you could see the moonlight, it is splendid. We can see to read by it quite plainly. November 25th The time has passed so very quietly the last three days that I have not troubled to get out my desk to write about it. On Thursday and Friday evening we had dancing. Though we are just under the sun we enjoy it very much. I dance with one of the sailors, a very nice dancer. It does not give me a chance of seeing how any of the others dance for he is sure to be at hand directly the music begins – that is if I am there. Sometimes I am otherwise engaged, talking to the second mate. The carpenter has made me such a nice chopping board with back and sides and string to hang it by. I shall keep it against I go into housekeeping, so we can make pies and cakes or anything our provisions will run to. We have come to the end of the first week of cooking for ourselves. We find it very comfortable and we have given entire satisfaction to the two young men we do for. I make all the bread. It has all turned out very well - flour and th*** rum to having hot cake for tea about twice a week, rolls and bread every other day which last is set to rise in the aproved style namely, under the pillow. We have besides pies, puddings and other little messes. The moon has been splendid but it is going down now so we have some dark nights again I suppose, but not very dark for the stars give almost as much light as the moon. The southern cross will be visible soon, it is now but not until 4 in the morning. I don't get up quite as early as that. I cannot settle to my lace work, so I have taken to knitting a stocking for one of the third class people just to learn. We shall have Sanky and Moody tonight, we generally do on Sunday. December 2 Sunday again. So little happens now that I thought I would leave it all to write today, so as to have more time for needlework, or cooking or cleaning as the case might be. At the beginning of the week we had a very sharp squall. The rain came down beautifully and the sea rolled mountains high. The sailors looked like drowned rats with nothing on but a shirt and pair of trousers, which they could wring the water out of when they had finished. On Wednesday night it was rather rough but Mrs. Cooper, Mrs. Charles and I took a walk up and down of course on the weather side when over came a big sea and gave us a nice wetting. Mrs. Cooper fell down on her back but did not hurt herself. The next day the sea still continued rough but Mrs. C and I were not to be done out of our walk nor our wetting either for a sea came over and drenched us. It swam along the deck and wetted me up to the knees besides washing my head for me. I stood in the sun to dry with no hat on (I have not worn mine more than six times the last month) and got my face sunburnt as I stood talking to Mr. Richardson and drying myself I had another wetting and another after that — so there was three baths in one day. However I would not put anything dry on. On Thursday was the third mate’s (Mr. Odling) birthday. Our cabin was the reception room. Now just shut your eyes and look on this picture. Of course you know the size of our cabin, just remember the alteration I told you of a while back and imagine it put all nice and straight fit to receive gentlemen in; at eight bells the company came. Nine people sitting inside and five outside on the table and form, some with coats on and some without in all sorts of attitudes partaking of cake (made by Mrs. Cooper and one of the nicest home-made cakes I have tasted) and sherry and gin with lime juice mixed in it. That with a little water and sugar is a very nice drink; my bed was the table and the chopping board with a white cloth over it was the tray to hold the plates and glasses. Mrs. Cooper was hostess and entertained the guests until about eleven when the third mate, Mrs. Cooper and I went on deck until twelve. The dissipation did not stop me from getting up and making my bread the next morning. I have not had a failure yet but of course I may. I had some difficulty in setting it the other night, the ship was rolling so. Yesterday I made a pudding and I left it on the board while I got my cloth and string. The ship rolled, the basin slipped off and turned upside down on the clean deck. It was very nice when it was cooked. It is colder again: we are in a line with the cape I believe though a good distance from it. We had some nice hymns this morning "Sun of my soul" and "Guide me o thou great Jehovah" but I can't sing very well unless I unbutton my dress - it is shrinking. December 16th A fortnight today since I wrote before, but you really must excuse me. It has been so cold and the ship rolling so, that I have not had the courage to sit down long enough to do any writing. The order of the day now is as soon as the domestic work is done to fly up and down the deck if you can or if not slip down. I have fallen down several times, but I am glad to say I have not hurt myself at all yet tho’ I may say my left foot is so painful again. Mr. Jones did not cure it. I find it is so swollen sometimes in the morning that I can't get my boot on for a little while. It worries me rather because it being so cold I want a good deal of exercise to get warm and that is not easy when your foot is painful and swollen. There is very little news to tell up till yesterday except that the weather has been very cold and that we have had a good deal of small rain which is unpleasant enough at home when you have a good fire, but here, with no fire and always exposed to the air, it is very dreary. However our spirits keep up remarkably well under the circumstances for we are always laughing and singing. We all look so well, brown and rosy and fat except Mrs. Cooper and the children. They are well but they don't seem to get fat. Now for yesterday it was a day of mutiny. It was my morning to cook and as usual we had rolls for breakfast. Mr. Nicholson and Mr. Richardson do not get up to breakfast until we have nearly finished as a rule so Mr. N was afraid he should not have any roll. He sent out for it. I was at the table so sent his breakfast into him. Presently out he comes with his roll squeezed up in his hand and a piece taken right out of it, swearing and calling us all manner of names saying we cheated him out of his allowance and never gave him any thing to eat, which is a story as every one says for when he has had his fair share at the table if there is any left we always gave it to him to clear up; he was so nasty over it and insulted us so that we both declared we would not cook for him. So when we took the stores in the afternoon Mrs. C and I made some bags for him, put his share into them and gave them to him. It has made him very wild. He is always declaring he will go to the Captain and make us cook for him. He went to the Captain yesterday because he said we had not given him his fair share. The steward was told to weigh them and found them over weight. December l8th I was obliged to finish up there on Sunday as I had other duties to attend to, in the shape of a drop of hot water which as you know is a luxury not to be neglected on board ship. Our row has settled a little. Mr. Nicholson manages to get his things cooked for him and above all his flour is turned into bread for him by the baker who will of course expect something for it which I am afraid he won't get for Mr. N. has only 8/6 with him and some of that he will spend at Christmas. I forgot to tell you that on Friday we had half the fore upper-top-sail blown away. It was as if it had been cut with a knife. Up went the men and cut the rest down. The next morning the starboard watch brought up another sail out of the hold (at 3 o'clock) and bent it on the yard or commenced to. The Port watch relieved them at 1/2 past 4, half an hour after the proper time. I think you would agree with me that they do not hurry themselves on board this ship either in turning out or in boutting ship which takes them three times as long as it took the men on the Hydaspes to do it. On Saturday there was slight mutiny on board. The Captain ordered the brass work to be cleaned on the Poop after six o'clock. The men refused to do it at that unreasonable hour. Accordingly he logged them. Now it appears he wants them to work from 5 in the morning until 7 at night which of course is five hours over the usual time. Wether they will be obliged to do so or not I don't know. Last night we had another small shindy. Mr. Richardson got very tipsy and tumbled down giving himself a black eye. The first mate had to come and put him to bed. Mr. Nicholson lost a pair of trousers, braces and a sock and a hat. Of course no one knows where they are. I think some of the men must have taken them for a lark for the things were dropping to pieces and very dirty. Today has been a day of excitement rather, icebergs are visible - one large one came to within a mile of us I should think. I wear my ulster so continually that it got so dirty I was obliged to wash it yesterday. It is drying in the galley now as it has been rain all day today and oh! so cold! but I don't wear a hat. I can't be bothered with one, only just at churchtime. As soon as we come out off it comes again; it has gone 4 bells (10 o'clock) so I had better turn in. I am writing this on our dining room table with the ship rolling and the lamp swinging so that sometimes I can see and at others I can't so under these distressing circumstances you must not be surprised if all the words are not quite straight — goodnight. December 30th Now I suppose you would like to know how we spent Christmas on board. I will tell you as well as I can remember; we had some very rough weather before Christmas, the ship was rolling terribly. We of course expected rather a treat getting the dinner ready. However it was a very nice day indeed; the cooking came to me, also on my birthday, on the Saturday before. I went as usual to see the stores were out and I talk very nicely to the steward and got him to give us some extra things such as spice peel and a bottle of fruit. So our dinner on Christmas day was roast leg of mutton, preserved potatoes, plum pudding a proper one, (almost as good as Granny's) with brandy sauce and all on fire, then mince pie. After dinner Mr. 0, Mr. R, Mrs. C, the two children and myself had some desert and wine and champagne that was Mrs. Cooper's - saved all this time and very nice it was to. Mr. Pankhurst could not come - it was his watch on deck. I forgot to tell you we had a small party the night before from 6 to 8. We had intended having it on Christmas night but Mr. and Mrs. Shaw had complained to the 1st mate about the 2nd and 3rd mates coming in and out and had made such a fuss that it is all very quiet. The Shaws had their dinner at the table and retired to their own cabin for the rest of the day. If they had made themselves agreeable we should have had a nice party in the evening and had some singing, but never mind, perhaps it was well though it was not very lively being at loggerheads with any-one at Christmastime; in the evening Mr. Richardson went to visit the people in the 3rd Cabin and came up or was brought up about 1/2 past 10 tipsy - not able to pull off his own clothes. The Boatswain and one of the sailors put him to bed. Of course there was a complaint made to the Captain next day by No. l as we call the Shaws because theirs is the 1st Cabin in the row. The Capt. came and spoke to Mr. R who then got up and made a complaint to the Capt and said that Mrs. Shaw had been drunk all the week which of course was untrue. Mr. Shaw heard of it and wasn’t there a row. The mop was picked up by Mr. S who attempted to strike Mr. R. The Capt. had to come and part them. I was at the table making pastry and of course had the full benefit of it all; in the evening of boxing day Mrs. Cooper had a plate of snapdragon for the children and two of the third class. There again we could not have all the children as No. 1 would sure to have complained. To give you an instance of how nasty they were – Stirling, (one of the Apprentices) a very nice lad and one whom all the ship have a good word for came in while Mrs. C and I were making the pastry on Christmas morning and said Oh this smells something like home Mrs. Cooper. He stayed a few minutes but he was very quiet. In the course of the day Mrs. Shaw asked Mr. Odling as a personal favor to speak to him about coming in there as she would not have it. If he did not do so she would have to speak to the Capt; On my birthday — my 21st birthday - I shall forget it in a hurry.-We woke in the morning the ship rolling fearfully. All the box under the bed came out and slid from side to side on to Mrs. C who was moping up the floor, as the bucket had turned over and the basin of course; over went the bucket again with all the dirty water in off the floor. This time it went flying into the passage — I beg its pardon the dining room — and all the day 1ong the sea was very high. It came sweeping over the decks and in at the door, so that was the amusement I had nearly all day dabbing, up the cold water and wringing out the flannels. Of course I have my hand covered in chilblains through it, I am very glad to say they are not very painful, those on my feet are better ever since I put them into hot salt water and gave them a good rubbing. On Christmas Eve "Jo" the second steward got so tipsy that he was not able to work the next day. The consequence was we had to go without and we have done so ever since. Our bright youth is laid up with a bad foot, he is not shaming, his foot is very bad and our place looks very much cleaner and with less noise than when we were continually telling him to do it; Mrs. Shaw never attempts to do anything in the clearing up line except her own plates but we don't mind that if she will only mind her own business. Another fine Sunday — we have only had one bad Sunday since we left the Channel, have we not been favoured. I think I must be getting fat inwardly, I can't sing for want of breath. I don't know what else to put it down to. Washing day tomorrow if it is fine enough. January 7th (Monday) Only fancy, we do not expect to spend another Monday on board as we shall most likely sight land on Friday next. Everyone is looking up their things and putting away all they don't want. On Saturday the hold was opened so I got a hat out to go ashore in. I don't know how I shall get on for a dress. I am afraid to fasten my grey one in case it should break away. I must let it out I suppose somehow. New Years Day was very quiet, we had the last of our Christmas fare - the rest of the plum pudding. On New Year's night we stayed up till 12 and heard the bell ring in the year. It was very nice but very mild. The first mate did not ring the one in the poop in case the Captain might object. We are going through that very pleasant process — being painted. Of course I must help so sometimes I take a brush and assist. I sent Stirling on the poop for a small brush one day. The Captain gave him the one he was using; five minutes later he came down and saw me using it. He only said "Well Miss Pheney are you trying your hand" We are having the most delightful weather you can imagine - beautiful sunshine every day. The wind is rather cold sometimes but that is all. The other evening I amused the folks by walking up and down the deck with the big Irishman as we call him – a man about 6 feet 6 or 8. I must have looked like a shrimp beside him and I am not small I assure you. People are always telling me how stout I am getting. I am always having compliments paid me on the colour of my cheeks so you may know that I am very well. Indeed I have seldom a spot on my face. What a mania people seem to have for cutting their hair. On Sunday morning when I went out to prepare the breakfast I had quite a shock, the 2nd Mate who had a very thick head of hair and wore it brushed up in the front had had it cut close to his head and looks just as if he had been sentenced to six months hard labour. I can't think why folks will make themselves look such frights. I must now close for tonight and go and make my bread ready for the rolls in the morning. I have not done any lace work, it is too fidgeting especially when you have to keep swaying from side to side to keep ourselves straight. One gets so tired. That is one reason I shall be glad to be on shore for to be able to sit still for a little while. January 11th (Friday) Great excitement! Land just visible like a cloud on the horizon. I must stay to write much because I have my box to pack. It is as well to be ready to go shore as we are going about 13 knots an hour. We have been going l6, is not that good. This is really a splendid ship to sail. The more she is going the steadier she seems. I had a talk with the Captain last night about going to Wellington. He says he thinks I shall be able to stay in Dunedin for three or four months if I like and then go on to Wellington with the same ticket should I feel so disposed. It cannot make any difference to the Company that I see, whether they take me on now or later on. Now for my packing - perhaps I will write some more bye and bye. January 12th Saturday night 9 o'clock. Great excitement prevails all over the ship. Mrs. Cooper and I were up at 5 this morning. It was a splendid morning. We proceeded slowly along round the different headlands looking at the houses, cliffs, fields and anything fresh there as to be seen as we passed by: in the afternoon the Pilot was seen approaching. Of course there was no settling until he was safely on board and had been properly stared at together with his boats crew two of who were Maoris and one a chinese; the Pilot had no sooner put his foot on to the poop than down came a storm, thunder, lightning, hail and wind. Oh how it did blow. Away went two staysails and a Royal; the wind blew so that we could hardly hear ourselves speak. The mates and men must be hoarse with shouting and bawling. I was so anxious to see what was going on aloft that I stepped off the grating outside the door on to the deck and down I went knocking down that big Irishman I spoke of before in my fall. It seemed to amuse the folks. They all laughed but did not offer to pick us up. At present we are riding at anchor, the tug not being strong enough to pull us in tonight I believe; both watches have been on deck all day, they will be glad enough to get to bed tonight I should think; Mrs. Cooper thought she was going on shore tonight but she is dissapointed. I am sorry too, she had so made up her mind to it. January 13th (Sunday) The wind has continued too strong for us to venture in until this evening. They have just started to heave up the anchor. How I should like to help. All the men passengers are at it - however I must go and look on, so adieu. I thought I would just tell you what I was doing while you were sleeping. 10.30 P.M. The tug has had us in tow this last hour and is taking us in in fine style. I wish it had been daylight so that we could have seen the shore as we went in. We shall anchor about two miles from the port to unship the powder so we shall have plenty of time to see what it looks like by daylight in the morning. The anchor is just dropped as I write this so we shall be at rest for tonight I suppose. January 15th (Tuesday) Here we are on shore. How fortunate I am to have found such kind friends. Mrs. Cooper's Father and Mother have taken me in until I can hear from Uncle and look round me, it is such a nice little house. Oh! so clean and light everything looks after the ship. I have been twice into the town and I am going again this morning. It is a treat to look at the shops again, but I would forgo all that and more to be at sea. I did not like leaving the ship at all. Mrs. Cooper and I are going on board again to see the folks before they start. January 19th This is our first Saturday on shore. Mrs. Cooper and I have been doing a little marketing, and quite enjoyed it after being so long without seeing any shops. They have some fine buildings here and some still in progress, mostly of stone. Some of the houses though built of wood are very pretty. They seem to invite you to come and live in them and such pretty gardens in the front. There is the Botanical Gardens we have not seen yet - open free every day until sunset. We sha11 most likely go there tomorrow. I think I will bring this diary to a close and continue all the news in the letters which you hope to recieve and I hope to be able to write every month. I hope some day to be able to read a diary written by Milly and yourself on the voyage out. I can only hope that you will have as pleasant a passage as we had and as quick a one. This diary you will of course show to anyone who you may think may feel interested in my doings. I hope I have written it distinctly- Please excuse any mistakes you may find for some times the ship was rolling so that I could not even spell properly. Now goodbye with love and good wishes to all, hoping you have found pleasure in reading this volume. I sign myself Frances Pople Pheney.
Transcribed by Natalie Sinnott Converted to electronic form by Rex Sinnott Did you find this diary using a search engine? Click here --> New Zealand Yesteryears