VOYAGE IN THE BARQUE "WM. BRYAN"
FROM PLYMOUTH TO NEW ZEALAND
Written and illustrated by Dr Henry Weeks, Esq.
Illi robur et oes triplex; Circa pectus erat, qui fragilem truci; Commisit pelago ratem Primus ;
"O'er the glad waters of the dark blue sea, Our thoughts as boundless, and our souls as free, Far as the breeze can hear, the billows foam, Survey our Empire, and behold our Home." -BYRON.
VOYAGE TO NEW ZEALAND.
IN the autumn of the year 1840 I was attacked with the emigration fever, to which there had been evidently a predisposition in my system for some time. Instead of applying proper remedies, I only increased the disorder by reading prettily got up works on the subject. A company was about this time formed, on, no doubt, the most philanthropical principles, called the Plymouth Company of New Zealand, a branch of the London Company, having the Earl of Devon at its head and Mr. Woollcombe, an attorney of Plymouth, as its secretary.
From this body I accepted an appointment in their projected colony, and hastily commenced the arduous task of rooting-out, in order to plant myself anew in another country. Reader! when I began, little did I think how painful would be the separation from a few dear friends! But the secretary was in haste and the ship daily expected in Plymouth; so what with hurry and excitement, joined perhaps to little obstinate pride, I managed to clear out in tolerable spirits.
Preparations in Plymouth. The emigrants were now arriving at the depot, a splendid dejeuner was given to produce a sensation, and a few working directors met daily at the company's house. " We," the principal colonists, were invited to meet in one of the rooms to enter into any arrangements which might be of use to the embryo settlement. We met once, and I shall never forget it. There were present about six of us, and the secretary sent a series of resolutions for our consideration. We very properly began with the first, taking each in its turn, but found that one objection was sufficient for each and for all. After debating and redebating the point whether six individuals could promise to support a clergyman, establish a dispensary, found a school, etc., etc., in the new colony, we were much relieved by the entrance of the secretary. On informing him that we thought we should be undertaking rather more than our present resources would admit of - "Oh," said he, " I only want you just to pass them as your resolutions." The same evening we saw them with our names attached, floating about as hand-bills and glaring in the newspapers. When I left the colony at the expiration of a year, there neither was nor had been, either a clergyman, dispensary, or public school.
Embarking. At last the Wm. Bryan arrived, and shortly afterwards the day of embarkation. It rained in torrents and the decks were ankle deep in dirt. Boats and barges arrived at the ship's side with the emigrants and their luggage, some, poor things, in a most woeful plight. Each family had on the average about four children, making seventy in all. There were one hundred and forty-one steerage emigrants and how they possibly could be stowed away was to me a problem. Now just imagine a number of people, almost all strangers to each other, endeavouring to squeeze themselves and part of their things into little dark places called berths; grumbling all the while and expressing a wish to return; sailors swearing, pigs grunting, and children crying their little lungs out. What a treat this would have been for Hogarth's musician! Travelling indeed makes us acquainted with strange bedfellows.
Getting under weigh. After remaining some days in the Sound and experiencing two violent November gales which thoroughly seasoned us, besides blowing away a house on the " Hoe," an east wind fortunately sprang up and we got under weigh. Whilst weighing anchor the carpenter gave a line of "Highland Laddie," the sailors joining chorus, thus - Carpenter: where have you been all the day; Chorus, sailors: Bonny Laddie, Highland Laddie.
The people soon became acquainted with the intricacies of the vessel and already were very punctual in their attendance al the serving out of provisions. In the cabin we soon made ourselves comfortable, and began our after-tea rubbers which we continued with but one interruption (Sundays excepted) until we approached New Zealand. For the information of those who are unacquainted with the interior arrangements of a properly fitted up emigrant ship I have annexed a rough plan from memory.
The height between decks was not less than six feet and of course there were cabins for passengers under the poop. The berths were arranged as a double tier throughout, and each department completely separated by bulk-heads.
For the proper performance of the various duties required and for the preservation of order, the following "corps" was established:
First, the Surgeon's Assistant (not assistant surgeon) a sort of general overseer or first lieutenant.
Second, a matron, whose office was something similar, but confined to the females and invalids.
Third, two cooks.
These were paid for their services.
The following were honorary: two constables, one headman to each mess who was responsible for its cleanliness, etc., and a watch, which began at sunset and being relieved every four hours, ended at sunrise.
For all account of the Voyage and its various incidents I must beg to intrude a few extracts from my journal, which having been written in a ship that rolled and pitched to perfection, will I hope prove an excuse for the sailor-like carelessness which the reader will everywhere find.
Nov. 11th, 1840. Embarked on board the Wm. Byan, a barque 312 tons (old).
13th. In the Sound. A tremendous gale, beginning in the night and lasting until four or five in the evening. We had been previously riding with one anchor, but the Captain wisely taking a hint from the falling barometer put out his best bower also. Had a dance last evening -some were superstitious enough to think that the fiddler had raised the wind. It made us all sea-sick but did no injury to the ship.
17th. Another gale. House on the Hoe blown away. Vessels passing in, in a very dilapidated state. A schooner has lost her Captain and boy; a brig two seamen washed overboard, etc. A consolation to find some worse off than ourselves. A few hours before the commencement of those gales a dark murky cloud towered up in the direction of the wind with a ragged hole near its summit.
19th. (Therm. 45 degrees, lat. 50 degrees30 minutes approximately.) Sailed at 12 1/2. Passed near the Eddystone. Weather rainy; gradually lost sight of land in the mist. Saw the last of Old England in the Lizard light at 6 p.m. which shone like a bright yellow star through the gloom.
21st. (Therm. 55 degrees.) Off the Bay of Biscay. Storm from W.N.W. Ship rode well but pitched dreadfully. Lost 35 miles by being obliged to heave-to and drift towards the south coast of Ireland. We have had quite enough of tile Bay of Biscay. A man nearly lost overboard last night. Shipped some spray down the after hatchway which alarmed the young women. Captain proposed to place some boards round the hatchway about 1 ft. high, to prevent a similar recurrence. Some ill-natured person remarked that it was only done for the purpose of seeing the girls' ankles as they stepped over.
22nd. (Sunday) (Therm. 55 degrees, lat. 47 degrees 47 minutes, long. 90). Storm over, but a heavy swell left. Almost all sea-sick again. Great mortality amongst the poultry, sixteen found dead today. Ordered some bucketfuls of gruel and brandy for the females, some having taken nothing since our departure. Many birds about the ship; gulls, storm-petrels, and a diving duck, brown with a white rump.
25th. (Them. 58 degrees, lat. 43 degrees19 minutes). A beautiful day such as seldom occurs in England. The sea is a rich blue, much darker than the sky. Ran 160 miles yesterday. Ships daily in sight hitherto. We are now off Cape Finisterre and the air much milder. The Rebecca of Bremen has just passed us with emigrants. Altho foreigners, a great deal of sympathy was excited on both sides. They gave us a cheer and tossed about their dirty red caps; we echoed it, but in a very dismal tone for some of the old women would try their voices. Our party had, however, the advantage in clean faces. The mate is getting ready his harpoon for the porpoises which are becoming numerous.
29th. (Sunday). (Therm. 68 degrees, lat. 38 degrees.) Read the morning prayers and a sermon. An ensign is thrown over the capstern which serves as a desk. My assistant acts as clerk, having a good nasal twang. The passengers and many of the sailors attend in a very orderly manner.
[Morning service was performed weekly, with but one or two interruptions from the weather. There was a pleasing solemnity about it which is difficult to describe. The old church psalms were sung in a very creditable manner, many of the younger passengers having previously belonged to a country choir. There we were, thousands of miles from our native country, in the midst of the ocean, offering up the same prayers and hymns that we had been accustomed to from our infancy - the association was in itself delightful. It was well that I had the capstern to hold on by as the ship was always rolling or pitching; and a tumble on these occasions not very desirable.]
Edgecumbe, one of the emigrants, gets up a prayer-meeting and singing almost nightly.
Dec. 2nd. (Therm. 63 degrees, lat. 33 degrees 59 minutes, long. 22 degrees). A good run - 187 miles. Hope to be soon in the trade winds. Carried away two studding-sail booms since yesterday. Some of the emigrants musical. Mr. Harris plays the guitar and flute, and his wife sings with taste. A sort of glee club has been commenced among the young men. "Old King Cole" is often wafted back from the fore-hatchway.
4th. (Therm. 65 degrees, lat. 28 degrees 44 minutes, long. 23 degrees 4 minutes). Beautiful weather - some sheet lightning last evening. We are now getting into the N.E. trade wind. A school commenced among the emigrants' children - the cabin passengers kindly assisting the schoolmaster. The boys are ranged along the deck with their books or slates and the girls sit round in a circle with their needle-work. We were obliged to defer this excellent institution until we got into fine weather; for excellent it is in having the twofold effect of employing both the teachers and the taught. Much sickness has existed, principally among the children in the shape of dysentery and emaciation. Many complaints made of the crowded state of the emigrants between-decks; and truly not without sufficient cause. But what I have to complain of is a dissatisfaction entirely produced by various promises made to the emigrants in Plymouth by the Company's agents, for the purpose of getting them on board without trouble - and which they knew well enough could never be fulfilled. Scarcely a day has occurred without someone stating that. Mr. W. promised him this and Mr. S. that, before they sailed. This was not a little annoying, for it was clear enough that the blame for the breach of faith fell on the superintendent on board, instead of on those whose meanness and want of integrity was the sole cause of it.
9th. (Therm. 75 degrees, lat. 16 degrees.) Still fine. The nights are brighter than I can ever recollect them. A ship (unknown) crossed our bows in the night. Some flying-fish caught in the chains. Saw a whole shoal of them yesterday. They are of a bluish white when flying, and may be easily mistaken for birds at first sight. They fly in straight lines and keep within a few feet of the water, occasionally touching the surface to moisten their (clings) fins. Dancing on the deck still continued during the fine evenings to the sound of a fiddle, flute and copper kettle.
10th. (Therm. 77 degrees, lat. 14 degrees 40 minutes). Sighted the Island of Brava (one of the C. de Verds) about thirty-eight miles distant at sunrise. The Messrs. Aubley and myself had a bathe this morning which we effected in the following manner. A screen being hung across the poop to keep us from the profanum-vulgus, a rope was fastened round our waists, the opposite end being attended to by a party on deck. We then jumpt off the mizen chains into the sea and after plunging and swimming to our satisfaction (we could not keep up with the ship) were hauled up. This latter process was the most disagreeable part of the affair to me, for from the rolling of the ship I swung under the stern, bruising my shoulder and abrading the skin from my hands. Commenced serving out the lime-juice today by mixing it with sugar and water in a large tub, each person coming for their share - it forms a very wholesome and agreeable drink.
11th. The man at the wheel saw a shark this morning. Don't think I shall repeat the bathing. Some dolphins have also been following in the wake of the ship but we cannot tempt them to taste our bacon on a baited hook. Mr. King having dressed himself in a bonnet and cloak of Mrs. Chilman's, immediately on his coming on deck to be introduced, a puff came and took the bonnet overboard. To complete the day's disasters, Aubrey flung King's cap overboard.
13th (Sunday). (Therm. 82 degrees, lat. 8 degrees 44 minutes, long. 22 degrees 31 minutes). Very little wind, and weather warm. Can sleep now with only a sheet for a coverlet. No rain has fallen for a long time, and the people take all their meals on deck. A sparrow-hawk was caught this morning on the rigging - it appeared quite exhausted, but was able to bite. Alarmed as we were going to bed by an outcry among the single women. All thought it fire; but it proved to be one of the girls in violent fits caused by the closeness of the air between-decks. I took off a tolerably good quantity of blood on finding them return.
[Every precaution was used to prevent accidents by fire among the emigrants. The only lights they were allowed were locked lamps suspended in particular places, and attended to by the watch. But among the crew I am sorry to say that much carelessness existed in this respect. What a dreadful scene would not a fire have been with nearly two hundred men, women and children on board without a chance of escape! Our principal chance of avoiding immediate danger was, or ought to have been, the capabilities of the long-boat; but it was in such a state that on our arrival in New Zealand it soon filled with water when hoisted over the side, notwithstanding a fortnight had been spent by the carpenter in patching, caulking and tarring her.
It should be required of Masters of Emigrant Ships that no kind of open light be allowed out of the cabin, and a patent lamp should be substituted in the forecastle among the sailors for that flaring and dangerous one in common use. I strenuously recommend all Surgeons, about to take charge of emigrants, seeing the above change effected before they sail.]
21st. (Therm. 83 degrees, lat. 3 degrees 59 minutes). Calms and variable winds. Some thunder and heavy rain during the week past. Amuse ourselves with catching in a basket "portugeese men-of-war" (properly "physalia") or anything else that will "come to the net." Some beautiful pilot fish and a white shark or two are keeping us company - we try to catch them. Shot a beautiful white heron which must have had a very long flight, being hundreds of miles from any land. People hinting that Xmas Day approaches - expecting doubtless something extra for dinner.
22nd. (Therm. 83 degrees, lat. 3 degrees 45 minutes, long. 20 degrees 22 minutes). Have been signalizing with a distant ship to-day and managed to keep up an interesting conversation for some time. Having shown our "bloody ensign" and being answered by a very [dirty rag of the same colour?], we gave her our Ěname by hoisting four flags. She returned the compliment by showing hers, which however from the distance we could not understand. We then asked her - Where from? - "Newcastle." Where bound ? "Calcutta." How many days out? - "Forty." She repeated the same questions and "hoped we were all well," to which we answered, "All's well," and took our leave. An American ship near our friend who was not able to talk, showed us her starry ensign.
The sailors last night broke open a bulk-head which separated them from the men's hospital where some spirit was kept for the sick. There has been a muster and a lecture, and one sailor (Hayes) is now drunk and in irons on the poop. He twice very nearly jumped overboard until he was tied to the mast.
25th. (Therm. 83 degrees, lat. 2 degrees 7 minutes, long. 24 degrees 2 minutes). The warmest Xmas-day I ever spent. The steerage passengers have had an additional quantity of raisins and flour, preserved meats, and grog. A very pleasant day, and a good dinner - first, Mock Turtle Soup; second, Salmon; third, Roast Goose, Boiled Fowls, and Beef; fourth, Plum Pudding; fifth, Bread (very good) and Cheese; sixth, Almonds and Raisins, Nuts, etc. Good wine. We indeed live daily like princes. We have more than once heard fish snorting during the night, it being too dark to see them.
27th. (Sunday). (Therm. 80 degrees, lat. 0 degrees 19 minutes N., long. 26 degrees 13 minutes). Crossed the line about 6.30 p.m. It was intended to have had some fun among the sailors this evening, but Edgecumbe's sermon was not over till late and it was not anyone's wish to interrupt him. The ship has been going five knots all day close to the wind. A strong current exists which has carried us to the westward. It sets round the Cape of Good Hope to the Gulph of Florida, and from thence northwards eventually crossing towards Europe. The temperature is agreeable, not so warm as it was a fortnight since.
28th. (Therm. 82 degrees, lat. 1 degree 10 minutes S., long. 27 degrees 21 minutes). Awoke this morning before 6 by the screams of women and men and dashing of water - the ship being quite in an uproar, the sailors having determined not to cross the line quietly. It appears that every-one who came on deck was completely soused with bucketfuls of salt water; indeed those who did not take it quietly were half drowned. The two Aubreys, Mrs. Chilman and King came in for their share. Sad were the lamentations during the day respecting spoilt dresses.
30th. Water very bad, though we manage occasionally to get a better cask for the cabin.
31st. (Therm. 82 degrees, lat. 6 degrees 19 minutes S., long. 28 degrees 52 minutes.) About 5 p.m. spoke the American whaler Phoenix of New London, Captain Fitch. One of the mates came on board, by whom we sent letters to England. [As these letters never reached England it is very probable they were lost in the steamer President.] She has been cruising off the Sandwich Islands, and has 1,900 barrels of sperm and 700 of seal oil on
board, having been out thirty-seven months. We made a present of a few potatoes and newspapers which was acknowledged by her lowering the main royal as she left us. It soon grew dark, but we could see her cabin light for some time.
January 4th, 1841. (Therm. 80 degrees, lat. 14 degrees 35 minutes S., long. 30 degrees 51 minutes.) Discovered in the evening that the moon's face is upsidedown. A child in convulsions - great alarm at first and a rush for the doctor. Our water has lately been very bad. There are two kinds, the sulphureous which has a bluish tinge and smells strongly of sulphuretted hydrogen, and a dark-coloured variety having little smell but tasting strongly of the cask. The former makes the better water of the two on being exposed for some hours to the air and then boiled. One or two casks have been opened in which the water is as thick as oil, and pours like it. Whenever the water is worse than usual more sickness invariably occurs. Good water is so very necessary during a long voyage that great attention should be paid to the casks in selecting them, and an emigrant ship should never sail without a tank, containing water for the sick at least.
5th. Stopped Harper's rations for insolence to Mr. Nairn.
6th. Potatoes hauled up in a stinking state, but many of them good when separated.
7th. We had some singing last night and the Captain had a couple of "twelfth cakes" made, which being rather heavy for want of eggs, produced sundry dreams on those who ate of them.
8th. (Therm. 81 degrees, lat. 22 degrees 43minutes.) We passed under the sun today - he is travelling north, and we south and shall shortly be out of the tropics.
[The appearance of the heavens has been gradually changing, the northern constellations sinking one after the other below the horizon, whilst new ones make their appearance in the south. I have lost sight of the Great Bear with a sigh, connected as it is with the hemisphere we have left; and whatever Captain Hall and other writers have said about the Southern Cross we were certainly much disappointed in its appearance. On being told it was visible, it was some time before we could find it out, being more like a diamond than a cross, thus:
No stars exist in the centre to assist the imagination. The cross is in shape a trapezium, and is really a very second-rate constellation. The finest constellation to me is Ursa Major, and the most brilliant part of the heavens lies around Orion. The two nebulae called the Magellan clouds are very distinctly seen like two fleecy clouds not far from the Milky Way; the absence of nebula and stars in the centre of the Milky Way forms a dark spot, and this has been called the third or dark Magellan cloud. I have read several flourishing descriptions of the Cross and Magellan clouds but if writers would confine themselves to the truth and not give the reins so much to the imagination, travellers to the south would not feel such disappointment on viewing these pretty novelties.]
I expected the heat would have been greater. The thermometer has not exceeded 85 degrees in the cabin, and for those who have no labour to undergo the warmth has seldom been excessive enough to be disagreeable.
10th. (Sunday.) (Lat. 25 degrees 55 minutes, long. 29 degrees 32 minutes.) Performed divine service. An event happened today which I fear destroyed any little impression which my sermon may have left. Mr. King entered the W.C. on deck a few minutes before the commencement of service and as it had begun before he had made his exit, rather than disturb the congregation he remained in his "pew" during the whole service. But no sooner was it over than he thrust out his head (having on a peculiar plaid cap of the pancake cut) and created no little sensation truly.
11th. (Therm. 78 degrees, lat. 27 degrees 44 minutes, long. 27 degrees 39 minutes.) Siginalized yesterday the ship Augustus on her passage from Bourdeaux to the Mauritius. One of the young men applied to me to marry him to Ann Phillips, a spinster, which I promised to do on Thursday.
14th. Married John James to Ann Phillips. The ceremony was performed in the cabin and conducted with great order. The cabin passengers stood on one side, the blushing bride and bridegroom, bridesmaid and temporary father opposite, and the young men and young women separately at each end of the cabin. The ring was a borrowed one of the bride's sister, and a very tight fit. Indeed the bridegroom made such a bungle of it, that I at last stepped forward to assist him.
[It was told me in New Zealand that "Mrs. James" had asserted that she could claim me as her husband from my having pushed the ring over her finger.]
As soon as the ceremony was over someone outside struck up with a box of bells, the fiddler joining in. A number of flags are streaming overhead and a dinner is about to be eaten on deck on the occasion. The steward has made some very good bridecake for the occasion. There being no married berths vacant, the "happy couple" are allowed one of the empty hospitals for their honeymoon.
MARRIAGE SOLEMNIZED ON BOARD THE
"WM. BRYAN" BOUND FOR NEW ZEALAND.
1.........Jan. 14th, 1841......John James.......27.......Bachelor.......Blacksmith
The above were married according to the Rites and Ceremonies of the Church of England by me [Signed] Henry Weekes, Surgeon-Superintendent.
This marriage was solemnized between us - The mark of A. Phillips.
16th. (Therm. 75 degrees, bar. 30.25", lat. 32 degrees 8 minutes, long. 15 degrees 6 minutes.) Fine. Ship very steady, one forgets that one is at sea. We have, I believe, without a single exception except Sundays, had a rubber every evening since our leaving the Bay of Biscay. The time indeed passes very pleasantly. I am sure we have much less to trouble us than when on shore, and where [sic] we not anxious to see New Zealand and get to our journey's end, I should rather if possible prolong the voyage.
17th. (Sunday.) (Therm. 75 degrees, lat. 32 degrees 35 minutes S., long. 13 degrees 5 minutes.) Fell in again with the Augustus and hove to to get within hail. Had a long chat notwithstanding that our skipper is rather deficient in small talk. The captain of the Augustus told us that he had fallen in with a French corvette who had asked him if it were peace or war. "I certainly," said he, "should not have told him it was war if it had been so."
21st. (Therm. 76 degrees, lat. 33 degrees 39 minutes S., long. 8 degrees 23 minutes.) A calm for four days. One of the boats lowered, and we have been rowing about all the morning. During a calm we are astonished with the number and beauty of insects and zoophytes which float by in the water. One of a gelatinous nature and snakelike form measures some feet in length, and in the sun's rays reflects all the tints of the rainbow. We caught one or two in a basket and found it to consist of two leaves doubled like the lower part of a flag-leaf. Within were several insects, a number of sea-fleas skipping about and a pupa of brilliant colours. This zoophyte could move its flaps, or leaves, with some regularity.
23rd. (Therm. 67 degrees, lat. 34 degrees 7 minutes, long. 3 degrees 44 minutes.) Strong S.W. breeze. The air feels cold and waistcoats and warm clothing are become fashionable. We now keep up "Saturday night at sea." A bowl of punch is produced at nine, and we have made it a rule that everyone must sing and moreover a new song every Saturday. Now as some of the passengers have never sung before, and those almost invariably attempt the most difficult songs they can find, some of them are very comic indeed. One of our party murders the "Maid of Judah" every Saturday without the slightest feeling.
26th. Caught a porpoise yesterday which has furnished a fresh breakfast for the sailors. It was very fat and a gallon of excellent oil has been procured from the blubber. Albatrosses and molehauks are very numerous, gracefully skimming over the swell of the sea. We have been firing at them and I think killed one, for he was obliged to sit on the water. The Albatross is one of the largest birds, measuring from nine to thirteen feet across the wings. The young birds are brown but they gradually become whiter as they approach old age - an old albatross has a very venerable appearance.
February 3rd. (Therm. 67 degrees, lat. 40 degrees 51 minutes, long. 21 degrees 53 minutes.) Crossed the meridian of the Cape of Good Hope yesterday. A heavy swell rolling. A very strange appearance presented itself in the water this morning - streaks of a muddy yellow colour extending for miles. Supposing it to be caused by animal-culae I had a bucketful drawn on deck. The water was full of them, having a transparent body with a row of yellow spots round the head. They had long tentaculae, and moved briskly through the water backwards, which motion was effected by ejecting water from two openings situated at the base of the tentaculae. These creatures are generally called "spawn" by sailors; being by them considered the spawn of fish and the food of whales. It is very probable that the numerous shoals laid down in charts which have in reality no existence are caused by mariners mistaking the above appearance in the sea for muddy water.
9th. (Therm. 62 degrees , lat. 41 degrees 55 minutes S., long. 38 degrees 39 minutes.) A splendid run of 223 miles in the twenty-four hours. A sudden squall took us aback last evening which frightened the ladies a little. The wind had been blowing from the N. and E. when it suddenly fell to a perfect calm. We could distinctly see the gale approaching as from the S. taking off the tops of the waves in a furious manner, whilst we had not a breath of wind stirring. It struck us in a few moments accompanied with deluges of rain, but as we were partly prepared did us little damage. By the time we got up the mainsail it ceased.
The instability of the compass was remarkable at this period of our voyage, swinging about so much as to make it difficult to steer - I have seen no explanation of this fact but should suppose it must be caused by the magnetic current being weak in this part of the world.
15th. (Lat. 43 degrees 1 minute, long. 63 degrees 25 minutes.) Ran 200 miles. We have been lately employed in catching albatrosses with a hook and line. One escaped on Saturday with thirty yards of line and the hook in his mouth. We have, however, been successful enough to get one or two on deck, one of which measured ten feet from wing to wing and six feet four inches from the tip of the tail to the beak. We have preserved their skins and the sailors make pies of their bodies. They say that by soaking them in water over night they get rid of any fishy taste they may be supposed to have. Mr. McClarty, the third mate, told me they were "very good indeed."
18th. (Lat. 43 degrees 7 minutes, long. 75 degrees 29 minutes.) Some heavy showers. From the leaky state of some portions of the decks, particularly round the masts, the rain has found its way below. Some pitch will be run into the open places as soon as the decks are dry.
22nd. (Therm. 56 degrees, lat. 43 degrees 19 minutes, long. 90 degrees 12 minutes.) Ran 244 miles, a heavy sea and damp weather. Now the weather is cold the decks often appear like a fair from the number of persons promenading up and down to keep themselves warm. The children, too, have over their old Devonshire games with great glee, the boys playing "tack" and scampering about in every possible direction.
27th. (Therm. 53 degrees, lat. 44 degrees S.) [101 days out from Plymouth.] Shipped a sea over the poop which gave us a wetting in the cabin. A great disturbance forward about 11 o'clock. On proceeding to ascertain the cause found several men pulling at a rope which appeared to have something heavy attached to it in the hold. On looking down I beheld one of the men swinging, like "one who gathers samphire," with the rope round his waist and kicking most lustily, so as to keep every one at a respectable distance. "He's a been beating his wife, sir! Shamefully!" was the universal cry. As soon as he was released and order restored with a caution not to take the law again into their own hands, I found that his wife had brought the thrashing on herself by working him up to a pitch of exasperation with her never ceasing tongue.
I am much indebted to Mr. Skinner, the first mate, for the happy manner in which he, on many occasions, settled disputes among the emigrants without my knowing it at the time. He had before been to Sydney in an emigrant ship and the experience he had gained was of much service. Two of the oldest married women were one morning having a duet, which if not checked, might have ended in cap-tearing; but here our hero stepped down, and kissing them both said he was sorry two of the handsomest women in the ship couldn't agree - "amicable relations" were immediately brought about. He then ascended the ladder, drew his sleeve across his lips, and steered for the brandy decanter.
25th. (Sunday.) Too cold for service on deck. Mr. Aubrey, Junr. drank a little too much punch last night (Saturday night) and feels a loss of appetite, etc. We have kept up our Saturday nights with great spirit. We have at least three rounds of songs and afterwards a general chorus of "Green Grow the Rushes O" or "Rule Britannia." The Captain makes very good punch and we seldom break up until nearly 12.
March 2nd. The "Southern lights" (Aurora Australis) have been playing beautifully this evening. It was cloudy at first and appeared like moonlight, but as soon as it cleared up we could see the broad sheets of electricity flickering up from the south with a pale yellow light.
7th. (Sunday.) One of the passengers is now in great danger from taking a quantity of Morrison's pills; and for dysentery too! Mrs. Harris confined with a girl and doing better than I could expect. No service this morning, the parson acting as midwife. The sea is beautifully luminous, a long streak of phosphorescence being left in the ship's track. Every now and then a large ball of white light passes the ship on either side. These are phosphorescent medusae or blubber fish.
10th. We are now off Van Diemen's Land, but are too far south to see any part of it.
12th. Mrs. Harris's infant, which was prematurely born on Sunday, died this morning - of no apparent cause.
13th. The infant was dropped into the sea this morning, sewn up in a piece of canvas.
16th. (Therm. 62 degrees, lat. 40 degrees 38 minutes, long. 169 degrees 42 minutes.) We are now all anxiously expecting to see land tomorrow morning at day-break. Indeed, I distinctly smelt a peaty odour about 4 p.m. and a little terrier on board has been capering about and sniffing in the breeze from over the ship's side with evident delight. A change is now desirable, for all our stories, riddles, and puns, are become exhausted, the new ones being generally very bad indeed; but perhaps the bad ones served the purpose better, for they raised a louder laugh. We have all endeavoured to study something useful, Mr. King and myself have learnt some Spanish grammar and some geometry, but it is impossible to do much in a rolling ship, the mind being as much unsettled as the body. We have continued our after-tea rubbers without an interruption (Sundays ex.) since our departure - Saturday nights as usual.
17th. (Lat. 40 degrees 27 minutes, long. 173 degrees 4 minutes.) A cry of "Land on the starboard bow" and a few raps at my cabin door with the mate's heavy knuckles, soon awoke me from my dreams of home, and slipping on my trousers and great coat I hastened on deck. Daylight had just begun to dawn and a knobby outline of a grey colour was perceptible against the eastern sky. Nothing has ever given me so much pleasure as this sight of land; for excepting a distant view for a few minutes of the Is. of Brava, we had seen nothing but the broad ocean for
four months. I treated my eyes with rapture, until I felt very cold, (for the morning was raw), when I retired to my cabin thinking on the perfection navgation had arrived at, and the many busy scenes we should shortly witness. Returning on deck about 6 o'clock I found the sun had just risen, as well as many of the passengers, who were all in high spirits. We were now fast approaching Cape Farewell and could gradually see the lower hills developing themselves from the blue mass, and noticed a white fissure which had been previously spoken of as a landmark. In an hour more we could see the trees with the naked eye, and green patches of fern and grass. Our glasses were in frequent use but we could discover no natives. The woody perfume which was now wafted from the shore far exceeded in gratefulness any scent which was ever allowed to escape the shop of a French perfumer. We passed Cape Farewell about 8 o'clock and it appears that the chronometers are right to one mile! So much for watchwork!
20th. (Therm. 65 degrees.) [122 days out from Plymouth.] Anchored in Port Underwood at 4.30 p.m. after a beat of five hours. We have been three days in the Strait; detained by head-winds and calms. The appearance of
the land, especially on the South Island, is very mountainous, the lower hills being wooded to the edges of the cliffs. Port Underwood (or Cloudy Bay) has at present a very forbidding aspect, the hills being quite brown from a scarcity of rain. This united to their great steepness and height (from 2 to 4,000 feet) has thrown a damp on the spirits of our agricultural passengers. The Brougham has just sailed for Port Nicholson taking our agent, [Mr. Cutfield] with her to obtain orders for our further progress. Singularly enough, she was the ship employed to take our surveyors to the place they had chosen for a settlement, which we now learnt was Taranaki. Our disappointment at this intelligence was at first great, knowing that no harbour existed there; but on everyone stating that it was quite a paradise we were comforted - indeed any place will do after having been tossed about at sea for four months.
21st. (Sunday.) Fine. After service we were visited by Mr. Guard and three or four New Zealanders who rowed him. We afterwards went on shore at Mr. Guard's establishment, where lives Mr. Wynen a little above him. The houses are very large and comfortable. Mrs. Guard is a fine woman and has some very hearty-looking boys. The beach was strewed with bones of whales, and many whale-boats were lying about.
24th. We have been on shore daily, there being some small spots of good land in the ravines about this fine harbour. Mr. Ironsides [sic. Rev. Samuel Ironside] a Wesleyan Missionary, lives at the head of the bay with a colony of natives about him, and lower down persons of different characters, who supply the whalers with provisions and grog. Mr. Wynen, a resident here and a gentleman, has been very attentive to us; he and the worthy little missionary doing all in their power to make our few days' stay agreeable. The emigrants have been engaged in fishing over the vessel's side with a hook and line, catching a number of ling and rockcod.
28th. (Sunday.) Set sail for Taranaki. The few natives we have seen are rather dirtier in their appearance, but of a lighter complexion, than I expected to have found. They appear to be quite the children of nature, being pleased with every trifle.
30th. A head wind yesterday in the Straits. A lovely day. Sighted venerable Mount Egmont at 5.30 a.m., the land sloping off from its base to a fine wooded and apparently level district much more agreeable than the mountains we have left behind us in Cloudy Bay.
P.M. After opening the Sugar-loaves we arrived off our "el dorado," and after firing a gun in answer to a cannon fired on the shore by Mr. Barrett, anchored to our great satisfaction about 5 o'clock. A boat shortly came off with the Messrs. Carrington, the surveyors. The anchorage is at best but an open roadstead.
31st. (Therm. 65 degrees.) Being a fine day proceeded to land the emigrants without delay. Strange as it may appear, many of them had become so attached to the ship which displeased them so much at the early part of our voyage, that we had great difficulty in inducing them to make a proper despatch. But, acting on a slight knowledge of human nature, the children being placed in the boats first the parents were not long in following - in this manner all were landed safely before sunset.
Thus were disembarked, after being confined 140 days on board a crowded ship, without a single loss, every individual (including 70 children) who sailed from England. And this success may be mainly attributed to a strict and constant observance of cleanliness, ventilation, and order.
Walked up with Messrs. Carrington and Cutfield to see the situation of the town spot - a lovely tract of land between streams about 2 miles from the Sugar Loaves, N.E.
It would appear that much less rain falls at sea than on land; probably from the temperature of the sea being more uniform, and in the absence of mountains to arrest the progress of the clouds, or cool and condense them. It rained daily whilst we lay in Plymouth Sound; but from our departure to our anchorage at Taranaki there were only eleven days out of the 132 on which rain fell. For two months or more the emigrants took their meals on deck with scarcely an interruption.
Note: Ann Phillips is my gr gr gr gr-grandaunt. Her ancestors and descendants can be found in the genealogy file.
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