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JOURNAL OF A VOYAGE TO INDIA.
round to solicit subscriptions from those who had not yet passed the line. They showed considerable anxiety for any decayed finery which the ladies might supply them with, as decorations for Amphitrite ; and I was amused to learn that they had a copy of Took's Panthcon, which they were diligently consulting, in order to make their costume as like as possible to the authentic dress and equipment of the classical Neptune and his family.
July 18.- The night was very blustering and rainy, and the motion of the vessel unpleasant. Our progress, however, continued rapid and the wind favourable. A sail was, about ten, seen a-head, steering the same course with ourselves. On nearing her she showed Danish colours. Captain Manning expressed some little surprise at this meeting. The Danish flag, he said, was almost unknown in India, whither, apparently, this vessel was bound. The Danes have, indeed, a nominal factory, and a Consul at Serampoor; but what little commerce is carried on is in the ships of other nations. In the harbour of Calcutta (and no large vessels mount so high as Serampore) he had never seen the Danish flag. This seems strange, considering how long the Danes have been in possession not only of Serampore, but of Tranquebar. The Swedish flag, he said, was never seen in the Indian seas. I have been pleased, in my different conversations with our officers concerning foreign seamen, to find that the American sailors bear a better character now with those of our own country than I had understood, or than they really used to do. They are not so grievously addicted to lying as they were once said to be. They have less animosity against the English than formerly, and their character seems to have recovered its natural English tone. One of the officers spoke well of their conduct even during the late war. A Company's ship, he said, on board which he was serving, had a number of American prisoners to take home, who, for the additional allowance of provisions usual on such occasions, undertook to assist in navigating the ship. In this situation they behaved extremely well, and, at length, when a vessel, supposed to be an American, hove in sight, and an action was expected, they came forward in a body to desire to be sent below, being equally resolved neither to fight against their country, nor to break their faith with their captors. All the officers agreed in speaking very ill of the French, and of their conduct towards their prisoners. This last they described as being, in the highest degree, brutal and ungenerous. They said, too, that it was the fault of the private seamen more than of the officers. The latter would often be kinder, if it lay in their power, to the English than they usually were; but they could not prevent their men from insulting and abusing them, pilfering their provisions and water, spitting and pouring filth on them through the gratings, and, whenever an
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opportunity offered, beating and throwing things at them. Englishman on board a French ship, they said, was always half starved, and abominably treated, and they spoke of the national temper, as shown in their seamen, as utterly unkind, unchristian, and unmanly. This is a sad picture, but they who gave it me were neither interested in speaking untruly, nor, that I could . perceive, inclined to judge harshly of others. How far the character of the uneducated French in general may have suffered under the influence of the Revolution and its consequences, or what circumstances may operate to depress the character of their seamen below the rest of the nation, my informants had not the means of judging
July 20.–To-day, notwithstanding some threatening appearances in the morning, we had our usual prayers and sermon. During the former I found that sea-knees were necessary, as well as sea-legs, since the vessel was so much on one side, that, while kneeling on a chair, (which I was obliged to do rather than on the deck, in order that my congregation might hear me,) I had some difficulty in keeping either myself or my fulcrum from going to leeward. The afternoon and evening were pleasant, but though the congregation at church was very good, there were many absentees at dinner. Two large birds, which the sailors said were “ boobies," flew some time round the ship this evening. I began to-day translating St. John's Gospel into Hindoostanee.
July 22.- The day was pleasant and the night beautiful, just such an one as a poet or a painter would wish to describe or represent at sea. I was pleased, while looking over Gilchrist's Guide, with a little Ode by Koodrut, of which the following is an imitation.
Ambition's voice was in my ear, she whisper'd yesterday,
The last two lines are not in the original, which I thought, though perhaps I was wrong, ended too abruptly without some such moral. My little Emily will probably know, before she reads the above, that “Room" is the Oriental name for the
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Turkish empire,--that " Secunder" is Alexander the Great,-and that the founder of the Median throne is Ky-kaoss, or Deiioces.
July 25.-To-day the first or introductory part of the ceremony usual on passing the line, took place. Soon after dark Neptune's boat was supposed to approach the ship, of which notice was given, in the regular form, to the officer on watch. A sailor from the fore-chains, in a dismal voice aggravated by a speaking-trumpet, hailed Captain Manning as if from the sea, and after a short conversation carried on with becoming gravity, Neptune was supposed to take his leave, and a barrel, with a lighted candle in it, was sent off from the fore-chains to represent his boat dropping astern. I was much struck by the time during which this continued visible at intervals, rising and sinking on the swell, till it was, at least, two miles distant, and I grew tired of watching it. Our latitude this day was 2° 10' N. Several large birds were seen, which we were told were “tropic birds."
July 26.–To-day we passed the line, and the greater part of it was spent in the mummeries usual on such occasions, which went off very well and in good humour. The passengers were not liable to the usual interrogatories and shaving, but the male part of them took their share in the splashing and wetting, which make up the main fun of these naval saturnalia. I was a good deal surprised at the contrivance exhibited by the masqueraders, in dressing out (with help of a little oakum and paint, a few fishskins and decayed fincry) the various characters of Neptune, Amphitrite, Mercury, Triton, &c. with far more attention to classical costume than I expected. With the distance and usual aids of a theatre, the show would not have been contemptible, while there was, as might be supposed, a sufficient mixture of the ludicrous to suit the purposes of fun and caricature.
July 27.-We had again prayers and a sermon.
July 28.–Our progress continued rapid and our course favourable. The latitude to-day was 4° 40' S. The night was very beautiful; and from our situation on the globe, we had the opportunity of seeing many of the most considerable constellations of both hemispheres. Those of the southern heaven fall far short of the other in number and brilliancy; even the cross, for which I had looked with much earnestness of expectation, and in which 1 had long taken a sort of romantic interest, is neither extensive nor conspicuous except from the comparative paucity of its neighbours. The Great Bear still (though on the verge, instead of being at the apex of the sky) retains its splendid pre-eminence over the whole host of heaven. The Pole Star has disappeared. The Magellanic clouds are not yet visible.
We bave now been six weeks on board. How little did l dream at this time last year that I should ever be in my present
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situation! How strange it now seems to recollect the interest which I used to take in all which related to Southern seas, and distant regions, to India and its oceans, to Australasia and Polynesia. I used to fancy I should like to visit them, but that I ever should or could do so, never occurred to me. Now that I shall see many of these countries, if life is spared to me, seems not improbable. God grant that my conduct in the scenes to which he has appointed me, may be such as to conduce to bis glory, and to my own salvation through his Son!
July 30.-Our progress again good. The weather continues pleasant and remarkably cool for the latitude. The wind brisk and sea rough. The evenings now shut in very soon; and, even at tea, it is necessary to have the lamps lighted in the cuddy.
July 31.–Our latitude this day was 12° 54'. A fine run, and one of the longest wbich Captain Manning remembers making in this part of the voyage. Yet, which is remarkable, all the vessels whose track is pricked on his great chart, appear to have made their longest run nearly in the same latitude. Captain Manning thinks that the strength of the wind in this particular part of the ocean is occasioned by the projection of South America, and the rarified state of the air over so large a tract of land within the tropics.
August 1.-The wind became very high towards night, and the main top-gallant sail was split in picces. Two circumstances struck me as remarkable this evening. First, that when the gale grew strong about sunset, the sky was clear in the wind's eye, while to leeward of us, came a very heavy bank of clouds, which retained its figure and position as steadily as if it were land. The second that, every now and then, there was a total cessation of wind, a lull, as the seamen called it, for two or three minutes, after which the gale revived with more vehemence. Both these features were pointed out to me as indications of the gale being likely to continue for some time, and to be serious.
We have, however, reason to be thankful that, except a good deal of tossing, no harm occurred; nor did the gale increase to such a degree as to become alarming to those who were least accustomed to
August 3.—Our day again fine, and the gale at first hardly exceeded a stiff breeze. In the course of the afternoon, however, the wind again rose.
The sea was very high, and the motion of the ship great and troublesome, pitching, rolling, and performing all sorts of manæuvres.
We assembled to prayers at half-past ten o'clock with some difficulty; the crew all stood in consequence of the inconvenience of arranging the spars as usual, and I therefore made the service shorter. Instead of a sermon, I gave notice of a communion for the following Sunday; and, in a short
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address, enforced the propriety and necessity of attendance on that ordinance, and answered difficulties, &c. The nights are now completely dark by six o'clock.
August 4–8.—I do not think that any thing very material has occurred during these days. The wind has varied in our favour, and is now N. E. by E. which enables us to make a good deal of easting, and our course is regarded as a very good one. Our progress through the water has been rapid ; at an average, during the last three days, of seven and a half knots an hour, and today frequently ten and eleven. The motion is, of course, considerable, but the weather is very delightful. Yesterday was downright March weather, while to-day has all the freshness, mildness, and beauty of an English May. Great numbers of birds are seen round the ship, and we are told that, as we approach the Cape, their numbers will increase daily. Those called “Cape Pigeons,” are very pretty, not unlike the land bird whose name they bear, and which they are said to resemble in flavour. For these last three days the existence or non-existence of the island of Saxenberg has been a frequent topic of conversation. Captain Manning and his officers evidently incline to the affirmative, on the ground that it is more probable that a small isle, a little out of the usual track, may have escaped general notice, than that three different captains of vessels can have told a deliberate falsehood without any apparent motive. That a brig sent out to ascertain the fact may have failed in making the discovery, they do not regard as at all extraordinary. They quote repeated instances of vessels from India having failed to find St. Helena ; and I think I can perceive that they do not rate the nautical science of many of the commanders of the navy very highly. They admit, however, that if Saxenberg island exists at all, it must be set down wrong in all the charts, and in the reckonings of its pretended discoverers ; and that if ever met with again, it must be by accident. This, they say, will be the less likely, because delusive appearances of land are so common in these latitudes of the Atlantic, that a real island, if seen, would be very likely to pass, among the rest, as a fog-bank, while the prevailing winds generally confine vessels to one or the other of two courses, according as they are outward or homeward bound; so that, in fact, abundance of unexplored room still exists, and is likely to exist, in the southern Atlantic, for two or three such islands as this is represented to be. Captain Manning says that he always, if he finds himself near the supposed situation, keeps a good look-out. He says that all the older charts, particularly the Dutch, abound in islets, rocks, and shoals, the very existence of which is now more than doubtful. Some of these dangers he conceives to have been fog-banks, some to have