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Bermuda

At 2 oClock we received the Mail on board, and started immediately for Bermuda, with a fine fresh breeze, nearly favourable, leaving in harbour H.M.S.s the Hussar - Tyne - Rose, [4] the same we met on our return from Rio in Nov.r & the Manly [5]- Rear Admiral Sir Charles Oyle. Evening very cold

Monday 25th May – fine weather but cold - wind strong and nearly favourable. Course S 28º E. Distance 83. Latitude 43º 16’ N. Longitude 62º 39’ W. Chronom.r 62º 50’ W.

Tuesday 26th – morning cold and foggy. In the afternoon the weather was beautiful, warm & clear. Wind pretty fresh all day & nearly favourable. Course S 9º 30’ E. Distance 83. Latitude 41º 6’ N. Longitude 62º 11’ W. Chronom.r 62º 29’ W. 

Wednesday 27th – beautiful and very warm weather. Moderate breeze all day but unfavourable. Course S 16º E. Dist.ce 92. Lat.e 39º 35’ N. Long. 61º 38’ W. Chron. 61º 56’45” W.

Thursday 28th – weather very variable – much rain. In the forenoon fresh breeze but unfavourable. In the afternoon the wind became favourable and continued fresh all night. Spoke an American Bark, called the Charles Drew, from Havannah, bound to some port in America. Course S 39º E. Distance 99 miles. Lat.e 38º 23’ N. Long: 60º 19’ W. Chron: 60º 9’30” W.

Gulph Weed and Spars of Wood

Friday 29th - beautiful weather – fresh and favourable wind all day, till evening when it lulled to a calm. I forgot to mention a circumstance which has been of very frequent occurrence. Ever since we left the Azores, scarcely a day passed without our seeing large quantities of Gulph Weed, & large logs and spars of wood. Till we reached Halifax, what we saw resembled our common sea weed – but between Halifax & Bermuda it was of a different appearance & was far more beautiful. It consisted either of detached pieces or conglomerate masses, inumerous stems of which was incrusted with an elegant network of a whitish colour, which we supposed to be formed of coral. It was of course a great amusement to us to angle for these weeds, and to examine what they might chance to contain. Nor was our trouble unproductive of reward & instruction. We dislodged from their floating houses hundreds of small crabs – shrimps – several peculiar and curious fish, of a small size - & could easily imagine that this weed, when the sea presents as it were one great field, will give shelter & food to innumerable fish, and various birds – the latter of whom are said often to seize the advantage of such an occurrence and take a passage from one place to another, in this frail vehicle.

Another, but rarer incident, than our meeting with this Gulph Weed, was the passage of large & small spars of wood. Several of these we laid hold of – and when examined, we found them, more or less covered with barnacles, according to the greater or longer time they had been in the water (& some of them had probably been for years there). By the direction of Providence, these barnacles procured food for themselves on the wood, while they in their turn became food for shoals of small fished, which swam and moved only as the wood went along. Hence to get hold of a large piece, was a good prize to us, as we could thus have several dishes of fresh fish, which tasted very well. Course S 42º W. Distance 132 miles. Lat.e 36º 47’ N. Long. 62º 1’ W. Chron: 62º 10’30” W.

Saturday 30th May – beautiful weather – wind strong but foul. Course S 6º W. Dist.ce 64. Lat.e 35º 39’ N. Long. 62º 8’ W. Chron. 62º 22’15” W.

Sunday 31st – weather in the morning dull and cloudy with occasional slight showers, but during the remainder of the day fine. Wind strong & still contrary to us, so that, altho’ we shall be able to make our latitude, we shall encrease our Longitude. Course S 24º E. Dist.ce 108. Lat. 34º 0’ N. Longitude 61º 14’. Chron. 61º 28’15” W.

Monday 1st June – weather changeable but generally fine. Wind strong & fresh but still blowing us dead on end as yesterday. Course S 26º E. Distance 106. Lat. 32º 25’ N. Long. 60º 20’ W. Chron: 60º 45’15” W.

Tuesday 2nd – in the morning weather cloudy & squally, with frequent & violent rains - & wind blowing half a gale but foul. In the evening the weather improved & the wind lulled nearly to a calm. Course S 26º E. Distance 92. Lat.e 31º 3’ N. Long. 59º 33’ W. Chron. 59º 52’.

Arrive at Bermuda

Wednesday 3rd June – beautiful weather but very warm. In the morning moderate & more favourable breezes, which however died away at 12 oClock, & we had nearly a calm all day & night. Course S 54º W. Distance 50. Lat.e 30º 34’ N. Long. 60º 20’ W. Long [but ‘Chron’] 60º 41’30” W.

Thursday 4th – delightful weather. Breeze sprung up a 8 this morning quite in our favour & continued all day. Evening rather squally with partial rain. Course N 63º W. Dist.ce 31. Lat.e 30º 49’ W. Long. 61º 15’ W. Chron: 61º 38’30” W. Bermuda Island 192 miles.

Friday 5th - weather [fine] and pleasant but cloudy. Fresh and favourable breeze all day. At 7 P.M. saw the island of Bermuda, but faintly, and as it was very dangerous to risk an entrance by night, M.r Geach shortened sail, and went upon another tack.

Saturday 6th - came upon deck at 5 this morning at which time no land could be discovered. About ½ past 6 A.M. land was seen, but could not be very accurately defined. The wind being still in our favour, we gradually neared the Islands, received on board a Black Pilot, and then advanced with confidence. At a short distance, the range of islands visible looked like so many naked rocks, but a closer approach shewed them to be very generally covered with trees which, however, were dwarfish and but sparsely planted, so mush so as to appear rather bare. By a very narrow passage we entered the Harbour of S.t George’s and cast anchor off a small island named Packet Island at ½ past 9 A.M. when the Capt.n went immediately ashore with the Mail. Of the town of S.t George’s and various other particulars I shall [say] nothing here - but reserve them for another opportunity when I shall endeavour to throw any remarks which may occur to me into one general description.

Scenery in Bermuda

In the afternoon of this day I went ashore with our Master and Captain on a bit of a cruise. We soon left the town far behind us and by tolerably good roads, whose sides were rather formed by the sea shore or by rocky eminences covered with stunted trees and various plants & shrubs, & from which we had several pleasant views. At last we ascended the highest of the numerous little hills, which were everywhere to be seen, a-had from the summit of it a very delightful prospect. On the one side of us lay the unruffled calm of the North Atlantic ocean, stretching out into immeasurable distance, while on the other the whole Bermudas, which do, I believe, extend beyond 17 or 20 miles. Here the prospect was beautifully diversified. I dare say we beheld 20 different small islands, with and without names, which divide, what may, but for them be called one immense still water lake into several small bays. Groups of cedar trees crowned their tops, and lined their sides - and on some of them houses of the purest white helped to add still more to the interest of the scene by their contrast to the green inverditure of nature. When attentively surveying these objects I was strongly reminded of several of my native lakes and islands, and particularly of Lach Lomond, with this material difference, that there is a-wanting here those majestic closely planted trees with which the latter abounds – and I am sure that you will never accuse me of preferring the abortive productions of this barren tho’ beautiful spot, to the full maturity and luxuriance of nature’s leafy children to be found in the hardly more fertile hills of my own native Isle. It was only as I felt, to the inmost core of my heart, the strong resemblance which fond recollecting & reminiscence of former times tended to heighten that I enjoyed the prospect – so much and also because as yet I have no where abroad seen such peculiar and beautiful scenery. After a long & satisfactory walk we returned on board for the night.

Cannot at first find out the direction of D.r Thomas

Sunday 7th June - you will remember my dear Mother, that in your last letter to me, you mentioned that D.r Thomas of Linlithgow was attached to one of the convict ships in Bermuda, and it would [be] an easy matter to find him out. So thought I too when I was told of the small extent of the Islands, which I imagined would naturally presuppose that every body was generally known there – but in this I reckoned greatly beyond my hosts. For, after making inquiry at several persons who from their situation might well be supposed to have a general knowledge of those living here, I could gain no information of their being any such person. Of course I gave up all further hope of being able to call upon the gentleman till happening to be in the Post Office with the Captain, I saw a Bermuda Calendar in which I found the name of D.r Thomas as the Surgeon of the Dromedary Hulk [6] & now stationed at the island of Ireland. Still, with this knowledge and information I was as little likely as ever to accomplish my first object of seeing him, since Ireland lay 12 or 13 miles off, which distance had to be gone over by water, and there were no regular passage boats on Sunday. Fortunately for me, the Captain, having attempted to go there yesterday in our Gig, but being obliged to put back in consequence of the freshness of the wind & the swell of the sea, determined to go today and pay his respects, as in duty bound and according to his written instructions, to the Governor – Sir H. Turner, and the Naval Commissioner M.r Briggs. He might have gone in the Government passage boat & thus saved the boat’s crew much fagging, and indeed this is the common mode of proceeding – but he was not aware of this and the stupid Postmaster either was ignorant or neglectful to inform him.

Appearances on the way to Isl.d of Ireland – Dangerous Rocks – Hulks at Ireland

As it was, the Captain having kindly granted M.r Geach and myself a passage, we started in the 2nd Gig at ½ past 5 in the morning, whilst the breeze was moderate, and the weather delightful. In our passage we passed along several of the islands, which presented a considerable diversity of prospect. Some parts of them were bare & naked, with hardly any traces of vegetation, while others were ornamented with numerous trees. Generally speaking the sea coast was of the former character and the more inland parts of the latter. For the last 9 miles we were outside of all the islands, and had the open sea on our Starboard side. We passed close to or over those dreadful coral rocks, which are at once the best bulwark of these islands, and the cause of its dangerous navigation, so that, without a pilot no vessel could escape being dashed in pieces. These rocks are distinctly visible, such is the clearness of the water, and extend an immense way out into the Sea. Not later ago than last winter, 3 men of war were lost, as they were coming to Bermuda.

About 8 oClock A.M. we reached Ireland, the island where most of the ships of war on this station winter – where the principal dock yard is, and where the large Hulks full of convicts are stationed. Here there is no pretensions to a town – as the whole consists of a few buildings for those engaged in the Public Employment. When we were there, there was only one Brig of war called the Columbine, [7] Captain Townsend, and 5 or 6 Hulks, [8] the convicts in which were compelled to labour in the Dock Yard, or wherever Government works were carried on. These Hulks were the first I have yet seen and I viewed them with curiosity. They consist of old line of battle ships, dismasted, and which are found unfit for any other purpose. They are roofed in like houses, and the port holes or windows are furnished with iron bars like a prison. I regretted much that it was out of my power to have a full inspection of the interior of them, owing to circumstances which I shall mention.

Disappointed at not being able to spend a day in Irel.d – see D.r Thomas

When we reached the shore, the Captain walked on to Commissioner Briggs, while M.r Geach and myself strolled about. It had been our intention to have spent the day in Ireland, and, if possible, to have returned in the Evening by a passage boat, which we had been led to believe started regularly every night from Ireland to S.t George’s Island. Upon inquiry, however, we were told that we would have no opportunity that evening, but might probably have one in the Morning. This was quite beyond our plan – as the Mail would be ready for us at ten oClock of that day. We had, therefore, no other alternative than to return with the Captain, in the Gig, and give up our projected plan.

In about half an hour our Commander returned from the Commissioner’s, and went on board the Columbine to Breakfast, while I took the advantage of this to go to the Dromedary Hulk, and see D.r Thomas. There I found him & his lady (both very pleasant people) in a handsome furnished Cabin – breakfasted with them, and at ½ past 9 left them desiring me to say when I wrote home, that they were in good health.

Visit Bermuda or Somer’s Island

On our return to the Columbine, we received the Captain on board, and pulled away for Bermuda, or Somer’s Island, next to Ireland, where the Governor is resident, and to whom Lieut.t Sullivan proposed to pay his devoirs. As we passed along the island, we discovered its sides to be full of excavations of a greater or less depth, formed by the continued wash.g and Arituration of the Sea, which communicated to it rather a peculiar appearance.

Not far from the Western extremity rose Sir. H. Turner’s Residence situated about one mile from Hamilton, which is by far the most populous and largest town in the island. Here we landed and remained till the Captain had spoken with the Governor, when we again started on our return. - but as the men were tired with pulling us so far, it was agreed, nem: cont: that the Captain, Master and myself should walk on a little, in order to lighten the boat, and save the Crew much fatigue.

Well we soon prosecuted our walking match under a broiling Sun, which did not fail to brown our hands and dry up the skin of our faces. The Captain, in particular suffered so much, that in a day or two his whole facial skin peeled off, and he got a new one in its stead. At the time of our peregrinations, however, we were not so alive to these slight inconveniences as afterwards, and on we went chatting very comfortably, and wishing to spy out the nakedness or richness of the land. By far the greatest proportion of country which we saw only shewed us its nakedness, and the more cultivated and sheltered spots, were like oases in the desert, rather few and far between. This remark is indeed accurate only in so far as regards that part traversed by us, which extended nearly to one third, but we saw more favoured spots at a considerable distance from us. In the course of our walks objects animate as well as inanimate enjoyed our attention.

Decent Appearance of Blacks – ignorant of miles

How pleasing a subject of contemplation was it, to see numerous blacks, dressed in the Sunday ‘braws,’ so clean and so neat – and exhibiting as much vanity and love of finery in their external adornment as the vainest of their European Brethren. In addition to their being completely and handsomely rigged out, and most of them sported gold earrings, fingers rings, and elegant brooches, of the same precious material, and made after the old fashion, viz. of a most preposterous size. These Blacks appeared very quiet and devout, and always paid the usual tokens of respect, as all well bred people ought to do.

One peculiarity we remarked respecting them was, that when we had occasion to enquire what our distance from a certain point was, in miles, they either declared their ignorance at once, or, not wishing to seem ignorant of any thing, they have told us what was immeasurably wide of the truth. This you will no doubt think very strange, as I did at first, but the circumstance admits of a very easy and natural explanation. As far as I could ever observe, there are no miles-stones to point out the Distances from one place to another and consequently, the idea or notion of a mile, of which perhaps they often hear, is not very distinctly or rather not at all defined in their minds – and hence the wide deviation of their guesses from the truth. If you wish to obtain information as to how far you may be from such a place or point, you will obtain information an intelligible answer and a correct notion of it at once, by enquiring how long time will be occupied in going over the ground. In this way it was that when putting a question about miles, and receiving for answer that we had only half a mile to go, we were more correctly told by another that our destination was half an hour’s walk.

Left in the lurch by Boats crew & obliged to walk farther than we intended

We had full time and opportunity to find out the true mode of ascertaining our distance from a given point. After walking for 3 miles, we waited for the coming up of the boat, when to our utter astonishment we beheld them making sail and seemingly forgetful of our being on shore. We shouted aloud – waved our hats, and displayed our handkerchiefs in order to draw their attention to us. But vain were all our efforts and we were reluctantly compelled to trudge on for 5 or 6 miles more with very unpleasant feelings, until we reached the Point of land, where our Boat lay. Of course and naturally the Captain felt angry – but they all declared that they had not observed us – and the matter ended with our entering the boat and being conveyed to S.t George’s where we arrived at 4 oClock P.M. At 6 oClock we went on board for the night.

Receive Mail on board, but cannot sail in consequence of the wind

Monday 8th June - at 10 oClock A.M. the Captain went on shore for the Mail, accompanied by M.r Geach and myself. We were in expectation that an order for our further detention would have been sent by the Governor, as, from a conversation with him, M.r Sullivan had been let to believe would be the case. But all were mistaken, and nothing prevented our departure after the closing of the Mail, but the state of the wind which blew right into the harbour - and the entrance being narrow, and moreover, full of dangerous rocks, it was considered to be an act of madness to endeavour [to] attempt to warp out. That we would likely in the attempt strike against a rock, and be considerably damaged was no idle or conjectural fear - for this misfortune had actually happened to several vessels - and in particular the Redpole [9] Packet, whose disastrous fate cannot now be doubted, undertook the hazardous plan, and in consequence received so much injury, as to be obliged to go into the Dock yard for the 3 weeks to repair.

Meet an old acquaintance D.r Clarke at S.t George’s Bermuda

Whilst the Captain was engaged in listening to the opinions of all the experienced persons respecting the practicality of warping out, I went to call upon a D.r John Clarke, who had attended the New Town Dispensary along with me two years ago. I was not, when I first came, aware of his being here, and can hardly account for it, why I should have imagined that the name of John Clarke M.D. which I observed in the Bermuda Calendar, belonged to him - but so it was, that the moment my eye caught the name I had a presentiment that this was the a same gentleman, whom I had known, and upon farther enquiry I was confirmed in my supposition. Accordingly, under the guidance of Black Boy, I went to his lodgings (for by privilege, he was excused from living in barracks) and at the first glance recognised him. He professed himself very happy to see me – we chatted together about old stories, and I left him, with a promise to make use of him as our Cicerone in visiting a celebrated Cave, provided we did not sail today. I found him established here as Hospital Assist.t Surgeon, and apparently well contented with his situation, altho’ I believe, that, but for his books, he would be dull enough, as here there is little or no society & no sociality.

Attacked with Cholera Morbus

During the whole of the day, the weather had been exceedingly hot, the heat and the walking about all day had rendered me very thirsty, and in order to allay the uneasy feeling produced I drank wine and water – rum and water – spruce Beer &.c and took little or no solid food. Towards evening I began to feel very sick, that I vomited several times with temporary relief. Still I thought that this nausea and vomiting arose merely from the Stomach being affected, and would cease as soon as the contents of it were completely discharged. I soon, however, began to be convinced, that there was something more serious when the vomiting again and again returned at shorter and shorter intervals – and by 10 oClock P.M. I had all the symptoms of a violent attack of Cholera Morbus. Throughout the whole night the bilious evacuations were – incessant, and none, I am sure, ever longed more for the morning light than I did. By 8 oClock, A.M. I felt excessively weak, and hardly expected to have struggled thro’ the disease, but (thanks be to God) I succeeded, almost contrary to expectation, in stopping the vomiting and purging, and thereby, I believe, saved my life.

Tuesday 9th June - confined myself all day, and felt wonderfully recovered by night. The wind was still from the same quarter, and totally precluded all chance of our moving. Weather fine but very warm.

Attack of Diarrhea – Amusement of Shooting

Wednesday 10th June - this day being fine and a proposal being made to go to the woods and shoot, I very imprudently considering my recent illness, went, thinking with myself that as the distance was only a few yards, no harm could ensue. While under the excitement of shooting, I was not sensible of any bad consequences, and rather thought that I would be all the better for the exercise. At night I was seized with a most ferocious attack of Diarrhea, which reduced me very considerably, and lasted in all its violence till Saturday 13th, at which time we were still in Harbour, owing to the state of the wind.

Had it not been for this double attack of illness, I would not have regretted our protracted stay at Bermuda, as we had an inexhaustible source of amusement in visiting the shore on both sides, to which we were quite close, and where we always met with something to attract out attention. We had also abundant sport in shooting – but all we could aim at were birds – for, I am told, there is little or [no] game to be found in the islands. We shot birds all of a beautifully blue colour, or of a bright red, such as I had never before seen, with many other of a less gay plumage.

Haunted House

If proprietors were as strict here as in England we would not have had an opportunity of enjoying ourselves in this way – but thro’ the kindness of a M.r Haig, possessor of the island opposite to us, we had free and unlimited liberty of shooting. This gentleman showed us many other attentions, and we were frequent visitors at his house, which was of a handsome structure, and on which by the bye, hangs a tale.

Many years ago, when M.r Geach was at Bermuda, the house was reported to be haunted, and after dark, none, but persons of little faith, would venture near it. Some daring spirits in the Packet, who feared nor man nor Devil, resolved to encounter the utmost vengeance of the ghost, and to see what might be in the house. One night away they went – easily procured admittance, as all the windows were broken – rummaged the different rooms - & carried off without obstruction a very large quantity of books, which, as no one claimed them, they very profitably disposed of, without being troubled with unnecessary scruples. I was in hopes that the house was still haunted, and that the Ghost would be inclined to make us a similar present. But, as you now know, M.r Haig, a gentleman, of real flesh and blood, lived there, and thus our hopes were blown.