Part of a letter written by George Philpott to his Grandmother
and later published in the Labourer's Union Chronicle, 16th May 1874.
George Philpott on board the ship Scimitar which arrived in 1874
...we have one of the best captains that ever crossed the ocean. I have not heard a bad word from him all the voyage. The first mate is a particularly pleasant man, and all the sailors, too; they often come down and join us in a spree at night, when they are not on watch. We have had several concerts while on board, at night . . . Charles Fox is our captain's name, and a good man he is; it grieves him very much to lose so many children, all small ones; he has got no children himself, his wife is a nice woman too. The captain has given the children tea and cakes a time or two, and brought plums and nuts out to scatter among them. Anybody who thinks of coming out here need not be afraid of having a short allowance of grub, for there is plenty of victuals, quite as much as you can eat; there is pudding three times and rice twice a week . . . I had a good duckling one morning before breakfast; it swilled me nearly all across the deck, and you would have laughed to have seen me hold on by the things on deck; the sea comes over, when the wind is sideways to the vessel, in tons, so that it swilled the children from one side to the other, and back. Oh, what a laugh. And then there is the sailor's songs, which they sing while pulling the ropes, and we pull and join in the chorus. 'Now, my boys, a pull at the New Zealand rope', says the first mate, and to Mark (Mark Fessey) he says, 'Come along, my infant'. Mark is like another man since he came to Plymouth, he is getting so fat. There is a library and school, too on board . . . On Wednesday we came in sight of New Zealand, and we sailed into harbour on Thursday morning, to their great surprise. We made the quickest passage ever known, three days shorter than ever before made by a sailing vessel . . . We are now laying at anchor, and what beautiful sights we see, here a house, and there a house, one on a hill and another in the valley beneath; and bush and trees studded all over. Yonder we see a house and a green patch of grass, with two or three cows and sheep, and horses; perhaps the owner was once a poor man, but now a respectable landowner. We are up in the morning, and hear the birds whistle like nightingales, and see the bullocks drawing up the hill . . . Alfred is jolly and as happy as a king . . . We now get some of the New Zealand beef that we have long looked for - good beef too.
Source: The Farthest Promised Land by Rollo Arnold