September 2nd, (1870)
93 days out.
Here we date our chronicle- Indian Ocean. We passed the meridian of Cape Good Hope this morning- having sailed 9000 miles or about 99 miles a day on the average. The hardest, dullest sailing I ever knew. It is no use to complain. The ship has been kept in the best position, and sharply watched. Since writing the last paper, we have had the wind steady
ahead for the last seven days – something almost unheard of here. I try to think it is all for the best, that it is to avoid some pestilence, of that because Mr. Baker is having a cargo of kerosene oil on the way in the “Argonaut” that sailed before me did. It may be well told before that which we have, and belongs to the Tudor Company, gets to the market. Be that as it may the idea of making this such a passage as this is trying, but what can poor feeble mortals do, when God himself “Moves in mysterious ways, His wonders to perform.” He plants his footstep on the sea and rides upon the storm.
I woke up at 4 o’clock the other morning but it was too cold, wet, dark, and cheerless to get up so I lay thinking of this terr’ble tedious passage, and finally I fell into a drowse. And so, laying I had a dream- I must write even dreams to fill this chronicle.
I dreamed that I was standing by the after corner of the house watching the ship. She was
going along nicely. All sail set, and topmast studding sail beside. All at once I heard a deafening roar, and something blinded me, I looked- it was all gone, I looked forward, and the foremast head with everything on it was gone. I looked over the side and the wreck was towing astern. I rushed forward, the second mate and his frightened watch were clinging to the mainmast. I shrieked for them to get sail off the ship, they took no notice of me. I was frantic. Oh! Says I if this were only a dream. I tried to think it was so, but no, there was the stump of the foremast, everything else was gone. After a while I came to my senses and Thank God it was a dream.
Then says Deck Bucket, You foolish fellow Pilgarlic. Here you have been complaining and growling about your passage, but do you know what you’re growling about? You have seen in a dream what a white squall could do to you. You shuddered when you thought of the
weary days that would pass before you got anywhere with those broken ____. You make and fins a tight, staunch ship under you, everything about her complete. Yourself, your crew all well, with plenty to eat and drink. Your nights sleep comes to you almost as regular as it does in port. You are not wet, you are not much exposed. Why, you boy is just bringing in a steaming cup of hot coffee, with milk and white sugar. So along. I’ve no patience with you. All other sneer at your passage, but you, you have everything to be thankful for, for it is in the first long passage that the Franklin has made.
So I finished up and went on deck sipping my coffee, a wise if not better man.
The second mate has been fishing for Albatross and yesterday he caught one. And a noble looking bird he was. He set on deck like a king. His eye was almost human and seemed to say, what have you done this cruel thing to me for? And his mates all seemed to know it
too, for they were in the greatest distress, flying about, and coming close to him.
Well, there is another gale brewing I suppose. The barometer is very low, and everything indicates it. Great angry clouds seem to be warring with each other in the sky. Streaks of sharp forked lightning have been playing all about. The sea is restless, and moans and impinges against the cold air, like a maniac tossing it’s arms about, and we are on the watch.
It sends the sailors aft to buy things, and trade has been pretty brisk. It is strange, how unprovided they are in coming to sea, with so little clothing. Marie says, “Why does my father keep a store?” I guess she would if she was here.
September 8th (1870)
Latitude 39 degrees South. Longitude 42 ½ degrees East
99 days out
Six trying days have passed since I wrote the last paper. I then prophesized another gale, but I did not dream of such as we have had. For three days it blew an ordinary gale, and the barometer kept low. But we were comfortable, and though the weather was cold, kept
cheerful as possible. On the third day, I was drawing the sketch to go with this paper. Had been sitting down about a half an hour, when looking at my barometer, I saw she had fallen a tenth! Good Gracious. How I jumped on deck. It looked same as ever. No signs of anything worse. But I took all the canvass off, and made it well fact, but a very little to keep the ship steady, and not a minute too soon. For in the West, a black pall was rising up, and in 30 minutes it was on us, a terrible hail storm. Mercy! – How it screamed. And the hail stones were as large as peas. All we could do was to crouch down before it. Nothing could be done but let the ship go before it and how she did go. The water at times was just the color of Egyptian marble- black streaked with white.
When the hail poured down, it beat the sea all down flat, but as soon as it was all over, an awful sea got up and yawned all round us. But the ship ran bravely on. Though it was trying work to steer her, thus it took the best helmsman in the ship and all depended on him. If one of these seas should board us, not a thing would be left above the deck. For three days it did not abate one jot or tittle, until today has been the last of it. I have been on deck most of the time. One night I did not sleep any, another night I slept three hours, but last night, feeling that it was about to break, I slept sound all night.
“God bless the man that invented Slap” says (name here). And to play for it does me an awful sight of good, since I have been down in their regions.
It never blow so hard on land as it does at sea. In such a gale as the last, not a tree or a back could stand. The strongest and hardiest birds that God ever made, fell down lifeless at our feet! The Cape Pigeon.
It was distressing to hear the cats cry. They were raving crazy. It was one of the most awfully subl_____ storms I ever saw, and was occasioned by the long easterly wind we had the week
before, an ____ for circumstance here, It made a vacuum that had to be filled up, and then the awful rush of wind from the West to restore the equilibrium; as a hail squall would pass over the ship, black as Erebus, and settle down in the East, the sun would come out in the West, painting double rainbows and all sorts of beautiful scenes. Shining obliquely through the tops of the waves. They were transparent and beautiful as opals. And all the time, a mysterious wonderful blue, you could…
Sketch of Hail Gale Storm on this page
Sketch of imagined family at home with Angels watching over them
…you could seem to take hold of it. Standing alone in the gloom of these
nights, I thought of everything. Of God, and how near we might be to destruction- my father’s old hymns, tunes and sayings all came back to me, of my mother, my brothers and sister, and above all the scene I have tried to sketch with this. And so I could manage to pass the time away. Our noble ship held out bravely and went through it unscathed, and I think the hardest work one of all was our cook. He done complete, and he did not miss a meal. The
old Dolphin would have been torn to pieces in such a storm, and the fearless would have suffered a good deal.
“”Tis by thy strength the mountains stand, God of Eternal Power.
The sea grows calm at thy command
And Tempest cease to roar.”
-One of father’s old hymns
The ship rolling so that a trunk would be upset, if it were not secured and it is with difficulty that I can hold my pen. But all things pass away, and so must this. And better days will come.
My health is complete never better, though after six hours on deck I feel some twitching of rheumatism (thank the old Dolphin for that,) When we first left the American coast, the mate left off drinking tea and coffee and so thought I would, with the exception of one half cup of coffee early in the morning well diluted with milk and I am better for it. I am reading a book called, “Is Christianity from God?” It is the finest explanation of the Christian religion I ever saw and done me lots of good. I wish everybody could read it. I hope I shall see far enough to say it is “the one thing needful”, I can almost say it now.
I have an old sailor, a Yorkshire man from England who steers the ship best of anybody. In the height of the storm, he was at the wheel, a sudden sea striking,…
…I sprung to the sea side of the wheel to help him. “No fear of me sir!” cried he. “I have yet command of her.” Sure enough he kept her straight as a die. Bill says I, “how long have you been at sea?” “Forty four years sir!” “I am fifty two years old.” What a life. “Bill it is time you retired from sea life.” “Yes sir. If I can get two hundred dollars off this voyage, I shall stop. But God only knows”.
At his port apart and lovely,
Stands the helmsman, stern and still,
Mindful of his duty only,
Guides the vessel to his will.
On his face a whiteness growth,
Not of terror or of fear
But the firm fixed look that showeth
Strife with desperate peril near
Stern and silent thought undaunted,
Stands the bold and manly form,
Ever watchful ever haunted,
By the shint of the storm.
This is the weather the phantom ship called the Flying Dutchman is said to sail in, but he will be seen no more, for I see by last years Atlantic Monthly he had arrived at Antwerp at last after a passage of two hundred years!!
Sunday, September 18th, 109 days
Latitude 39 degrees South. Longitude 83 degrees East.
Here we turn another corner. Yesterday morning we passed St. Paul’s
Island before daylight, and now we begin to haul up for our destination. We have been running the high latitudes, to keep in the region of the “Brave West winds.” And have they been. When I wrote the last paper, we had just finished the leeward edition of a heavy gale of wind. The ink was scarcely dry before another came on, “short, sharp, and decisive,” and indeed it has been little else but a gale, since. Yet running right before it, we have not felt it so much- had we been going the opposite way, it would have been Cape Horn work. But how the ship rolled! Enough to rock all the babies in the world to their everlasting sleep!
“Roll on, thou dark blue ocean, roll! Ten thousand fleets sweep over
Thus wrote Byron, but he knew nothing of this kind of rolling. It has occupied most of my attention, to watch the ship, her sails and gear, and keep all straight.
We are now 16 days from Cape Good Hope and have run, 3400 miles! Over two hundred miles a day. The best sailing the Franklin ever done, and all to help us out of this dilemma of a long passage. It has been one steady Niagra over our bows all the time, our continual sullen roar. And no abatement of the sea. Sometimes every top of a wave, a rainbow. A beautiful sight, we see no sails at all, it is not strange, for none ever come east to west here. It is four weeks since we see our last solitary…
…ship. The sky goes through a hundred changes every day, from one shape and color, and direction to a thousand.
“There veil’d in the gold woven webs of the dew, Throes the dance. The clouds- the pale daughters of Heaven.”
I have been reading Schiller’s Poems and found lots of beautiful ____ things in them, the above, for one. It is the first poetry I ever read, not written in English. I have read ____ life of Nahounet, and now have Robertson’s History of India. Strange, as I grow older I like ,to read such books so well, I am still at the Bible, reading it word for word. It grows plainer, Thank God I can understand much now that I could not before. I ought to understand it better, I have read it enough. But in lieu, it will be all plain, one day we shall know all.
Now, we shall soon be in warmer Latitudes. These cold raw winds that makes one long for his blankets will be past and pleasanter breezes move us to
the tropics again. But I am afraid not without another brush with old (Boreus?) The barometer is going down. The sea is getting up. The windows clatter, and the clouds tell of a gale. Three days more and the sun crosses the line, then look for
it, if not before, the Moon will change about that time, and will be in her __1__, all of which portends storms, already the wind is beginning to shriek, and sob, and moan. Like a child for its mother when in pain.
Oh many a voice is there thou wind, fall many a voice is there
From every scene thy wing o’er sweeps, thou ____ & ____ and ____
A minstrel strong and wild thou ___
And thy ____ is thy harp o’er head! That give the answering tone!
Sunday September 20th (1870) 116 days out.
Latitude 30 degrees South. Longitude 99 ½ degrees East.
September is almost gone! And as is usual, we turn our longing eye to home, and ask ourselves how will October find them? And many a time do we think,
“What kind of a summer have they had?”
Well, we toil slowly on, and this passage as all the others will pass away. In the last passage it was so, and that seems a thing long past. A week ago we were on the lookout for a line gale. It came fast enough but not as heavy as it might, and we passed quickly through it. Now we have turned the corner. Our ship’s head is pointed to the __1__ seen. We have crossed the great Southern Indian Ocean. We are 12500 miles from home, and are 1500 miles from our port of destination. The great continent of Australia lies close to our right, and all our points are changing their bearing rapidly. The storm birds have nearly all left us. The barometer has moved up to its proper station and thermometer stands at 60
degrees in our cabin. Still we wear thick clothes, and it seems cold and chilly yet. A few days when we are in the Tropics again, it will be warm enough, God knows. It is terribly tedious. But we try to be thankful, we are safe and well, many a noble ship has been disabled in what we have been through, and many another never heard of. And now while we have been through our short winter, and another is coming down on our New England, a long and untried summer is before us. May it all be for the best.
Deck Bucket has been making a model, got it done and hangs it up. He has made a new fashioned basket. The design heads this paper. The Eagle stands on the shelf. He thinks some American comes out of the East, Will want it as a badge of office,…
…give him some books for it. It is a pretty pattern, and a deal of work to carve it.
Pilgarlic reads about as much as usual. He is at work on India now. Sundays, reads Theology of Universalism, and thinks after all that he is as much a
Universalist as anything.
I wish we could see the brown leaves of October in our own house. I saw them two years ago. The first time for many years. I like the green leaves of May better. But I must not wish. I have other things to do. I must trust to my letters for the most of my comfort and happiness for the next few months. I hope there will be a lot in Batavia. There in nothing this weary sailor prizes so high as letters from home, when he is away. Lo.
“Write me a letter from home.” Write good news. Tell me of the darlings, the loved ones, of all I hold dear, of those loved ones who look after me, and “sigh that I tarry so long.”
I mind me of an old song I loved exceedingly when I was a boy. I thought the more of it because I found it among some old papers myself, and set it
to a tune of my own. I have since seen it often quoted as a rare ______. I did not know then that I was choosing a song to last me to my last day.
“Piping down the valleys wild,
Piping songs of pleasant glee,
On a cloud I saw a child,
And he laughed and said to me,
Piper, pipe me a song about a lamb,
I liked when he wept to hear
Piper sit there down and write,
In a book that all may read
(I forgot this line)
So I plucked a hollow reed. And often when I am writing these papers, I think of the song. “Write in a book that all may read.”