Skip to main content

Weeks 21 - 23

Sunday 13th April – cloudy weather – very fresh and foul wind – passed a Brig, steering to S & Westward – envied her very much as she had a fair wind.

Monday 14th – cloudy weather with a gale of foul wind, attended with slight rain, till 1 P.M. when the wind changed in our favour, & the sky cleared finely. At night it became cloudy but wind nearly the same. Great & sudden change of temperature accompanied the alteration of the wind. Made little way, in consequence of the high sea, occasioned by our former foul winds.

Tuesday 15th – cloudy weather. Foul wind. At night thick drizzling rain.

Wednesday 16th – dull gloomy weather – foul, foul, foul wind.

Thursday 17th – cloudy weather – foul wind – all very melancholy.

Fruday 18th – very variable weather – generally fine – foul wind.

Saturday 19th – variable weather – generally fine – foul wind. At 1 spoke an American Brig, the Clarissa Anne from Mobil, out 52 days, bound for Liverpool. Got from her a small cask of salt Beef & some biscuits.

Remarks on XXIst Hebdomade. Worser and worser, instead of better and better, as the Cockneys say. We might be compared to the Wandering Jew or the Flying Dutchman, who is constantly sailing about the Cape of Good Hope and yet can never hope to reach his Port. So has it been with us. We have gone to the Northward and then returned to the Southward. We have gained something of Easting and as quickly have lost ground by being obliged to make Westing. The old saying of the fickle wind is become a dead letter, an empty parade of words without meaning – for as if to spite us, the fickle wind has continued steady at SSE. If there is any consolation in the certainty that many a vessel is in the same predicament, we should be abundantly consoled, but I differ entirely from those who assert that in a community of suffering, the burden of our own miseries is considerably lightened – altho’ I admit that to a noble mind, in the full possession of happiness and prosperity the prospect of many enjoying the same full measure of joy, may enhance his own. We have sorrow enough of our own to be able to bestow our sympathy upon our brothers in misfortune which we see every where around us.

It is now a common bye word with us, when any one is asked how the wind is – “Just the same” – and even all our foreign passengers use & know the meaning of this expression, even those among them who know not another word of English. It is really most tiresome to hear - & one day on repeating it, the Captain said “Do Doctor alter the form of the words – for to me it seems most ominous.”

In the midst of all this we have sometimes even jested, tho’ God knows, we have very little reason to make a laugh of so serious a subject. It was generally said that we had some Jonah on board and various suppositions were made as to the person. Others again alleged that if one should throw overboard a small red & round Cap with certain cabalistic figures on it worn by S.ra Santa Maria – whilst a third party said that if we should change our blue top vane (of buntin) for one of the same colour as we had before viz. red, a favourable wind would be sure to blow. All this in jest – but I am not sure if some of our men were not of opinion that some peculiar cause existed in the vessel or in the persons on board, which produced this heart-breaking S & E.ly wind.

Several times during this week our hopes were raised, that a change was about to take place. These were founded on our observation of atmospheric changes of temperature as indicative of a South West wind accompanied with moisture – on the approach of heavy showers – or the lifting up of clouds on the horizon from a favourable quarter - & lastly on the dying away of the wind which was likely to end in a calm, which must infallibly occasioned a change of wind – it being an old saying at sea that when you have had for a long time a foul wind, a calm is half a fair wind. But on one & all such occasions our hopes proves delusive. The favourable appearance disappeared & gave place to the dull steady aspect of a leading & settled wind.

At length we have ceased altogether to pay any attention to the above mentioned circumstances, & are trying to possess our soul in patience according to the advice of San Pablo, saying to each other we shant believe in a fair wind till we have it.

From what I have told you at the end of last week of the low condition of our vivers, you may readily imagine, that at the termination of this, we were [a] very considerable deal worse off. We are short of every thing. We have potatoes & rice for two or three days more. Our salt beef & pork are almost a nonentity - our peas are a deficit – our flour may last a week – our last leg of mutton was eat [sic] on Saturday & we have only 1 Turkey & four fowls left to furnish fresh meat, unless we kill the goats. God be praised we have still water sufficient for three weeks – without which we could not exist. Our whole anxiety now is to fall in with some vessels outward bound & procure supplies from them. For several days we looked in vain, when we descried one we were too far off, or the sea too high to have a communication with them. At last on Saturday, every thing being favourable for want of a better, we boarded an American brig, bound to England. We expected little good from her - & indeed we only received a small cask of salt beef & some biscuit. She proved to be the Clarissa Anne from Mobil, out 52 days & bound to Liverpool. Great praise is due from us to her Captain who out of his necessity gave us what we got – as he himself couldn’t tell how long he might be kept at sea by the same foul wind.

Throughout the whole of this week we have had not our usual good weather to counterbalance in some trifling degree the misfortune of having a foul wind. Great variations took place – rain changed to fine - & fine to thick, misty weather. In short we have no comfort in life in the weather.

Commencement of XXII Hebdomade

Sunday 20th April – in the morning and forenoon dull gloomy weather. At noon it cleared up fine – Foul wind. Several vessels in sight in the same predicament as ourselves.

Monday 21st – fine weather, and example of the truth of an old West Country saying, that a Southerly wind & fog brings home an Easterly wind snog (ie ‘snug’) – for our Southerly wind has come round to the East.d, which in our present situation is as bad as before. Had we been where we were a week ago, viz to the Northward of Ireland, it would then have been a fair wind. But there was no such lucky chance in store for us - & we were so to say it, doomed to wander in search of a favouring breeze. For being as we are only 40 miles to the Southward of Scilly, we can make but little better than a South course, as the leeway made in consequence of the heavy sea will almost counterbalance the variation of the Compass, which is in our favour. We are constantly on the watch to catch some outward bound vessels, in order to procure some fresh provisions, as we are quite out of all Christian’s meat, having been obliged to kill a goat today.

Tuesday 22d April – very fine weather. Still foul wind. Spoke an English Brig Viatic from Exmouth, bound to Quebec. Procured sundry trifles from her, but no live stock.

Wednesday 23d – fine weather. Foul wind. Boarded a ship, called the Hobnob, from Quebec, bound to Canada, with 17 passengers, chiefly French. Obtained a mere dribbling but no live stock.

Thursday 24th – beautiful weather. Light & foul wind. Made 50 miles to day & 60 yesterday – good.

Friday 25th – fine weather. Small consolation tho’ as we have still a foul, very foul wind.

Saturday 26th -  cloudy weather. Foul wind. Spoke the Barque British Merchant, of Newcastle, last from Dublin, out 4 days – bound to Miramichi, with 20 poor miserable Scotch Emigrants – also a schooner William IV, from Barbadoes, out 40 days, bound to London. Procured from the first mentioned vessel some small supplies – but nothing from the other.

Remarks on XXII Hebdomade. The most hard hearted & most heart breaking wind, wilt thou never cease to blow. If prayers and intreaties could avail to soften you, we would offer them night & day. But alas thou art deaf to our distress, and blowest where thou likest, regardless of all our sufferings. Well then blow on – crack your cheeks with ____ - for well we know you must have an end - & should it please Providence to preserve us till that happy period, we shall chant, with heartfelt sincerity, thy funeral dirge. This apostrophe to the wind needs no diviner to show that during the past week we have not been more fortunate than the preceding. It’s oer time a tale. We had indeed a change of wind to the Eastward, but unluckily we were still so far to the Southward, that we made little or nothing. Had all been aw we were sometime ago, half way to Scotland, the alteration would have been in our favour entirely.

As soon as the wind changed, the weather changed also – and during nearly the whole week, we enjoyed much delightful weather – clear, fine, but rather cold & piercing. But was nothing in our estimation, & we often expressed to each other, how much rather we would prefer the worst possible weather, provided only we had a fair wind. This favourable circumstance in the weather – only served then to encrease our chagrin when we chanced to see, as we often did, great lubberly Merchantmen, bowling along before the wind, with the additional blessing of fine weather.

The main circumstance, which concerned most nearly was the low condition of our provisions. We had killed & eat two goats, whose flesh by the bye was not as the captain had alleged equal to venison, or indeed to any thing like it. We had now only salt meat left, and of that not a superb instance - for it had been resolved to reserve our old & favourite Nanny who had been with us for five years – and also our great pet Timour the Tartar, to be devoured at the last extremity.

All days & each day therefore a good look out was kept to espy whatever vessels might luckily be coming our way. We were not unsuccessful so far as regards our observation of them – but most unlucky & disappointed in the nature of our supplies. We spoke & boarded four – all about 4 days from England - & yet we were unable to procure any live stock. They were all bound to Canada or Miramichi & without any exception had a few unfortunate emigrants on board – Scotch, Irish, and French. The quantity of our supplies from the whole tot was very meagre. From two we procured two glorious rounds of corned beef – most excellent stuff. One found us also in a superb piece of good beef for roasting - & above all we obtained a sufficiency of excellent praties [sic], to the immediate deprecation of which we had already looked forward to with most melancholy thoughts – for to me & to most of us, a dinner without potatoes is considered no dinner at all, at all. These were the most precious morceaus we contrived to pick up – but besides we obtained a sufficiency of salt Pork, salt beef – rice – butter & several other uncos to keep away the demon of starvation for a month to come. So far then we were easy & we tried to be as contented with our inevitable destiny as we could. We are daily looking forward with hope to a change of wind, which may God grant us soon. Amen. So say we all with one accord.

Commencement of XXIII Week

Sunday 27th April – dull gloomy weather – most miserable thick hazy & drizzling – Fresh & foul wind with high seas – very cold.

Monday 28th – from appearances yesterday expected a gale to day – agreeably disappointed – calm in the morning with thick fog. At 1 the wind came to N & E, with clear weather & during the afternoon it became in our present situation nearly favourable – being to the Northward of Scilly.

Tuesday 29th – fine weather. Moderate and favourable breeze. Spoke a French and an English vessel.

Wednesday 30th - fine weather. Moderate & favourable breeze. At 1 P.M. came to out old anchorage in Falmouth Harbour. No sooner were they permitted than all our passengers availed themselves of Pearce’s boat to go on shore, being heartily tired of being pent up so long in a small Packet, & anxious no doubt as speedily as possible, to partake of the luxury of fresh provisions, from which they had been so long debarred.