Autobiography of Joseph Bates, 1792-1872. Chapters XI-XVI.
Who the Stranger Was - Black List - Salt Shoveling - Peak of Pico - Voyage Ended - Visit my Family - Voyage to South America - Trade-winds - Sea-Fish - Rio Janeiro - Desperate Situation - Montevideo - Returning North - Cutting in a Whale - Resolved Never to Drink Ardent Spirits - Arrival in Alexandria - Preparations for Another Voyage - Visit my Family - Escape from a Stage - Sail for South America - Singular Fish - Arrival at Rio Janeiro - Sail for River La Plata - Dispose of my Cargo at Buenos Ayres - Catholic Host.
THIS man was the ship's corporal, or constable, in the opposite watch from me, and was captain of those unfortunate ones called "black list men," subjected to perform the scavenger work of the ship, and also to scour the brass, copper, and iron, where and whenever it was called for. In this work he appeared delighted to honor the king. The ratan in his hand looked to me like the same one that he used to switch about some of those unfortunate men. I have before narrated, in part, how the first lieutenant (Campbell) threatened me with an unmerciful whipping if I did not move to suit him wherever I was stationed, because I had attempted to swim away from the St. Salvadore del Mondo, a few days before I was introduced on board the Rodney, as I have before shown. After watching me for more than a year to execute his threat, he was one day told there was a pair of trowsers between the mainmast head and heel of the topmast. I acknowledged they were mine, for which offense he kept me in the "black list" for six months.
We had about two hours in a week to scrub and wash clothes in salt water; sometimes a few quarts of fresh water, if one could get it before the two hours closed. And no clothes were to be dried at any other time, except our hammocks, when required to scrub them. Every morning in the warm season we were required to muster with clean frocks and trowsers; if reported not clean, the penalty was the "black list." If I could have obtained from the purser out of the slop chest the clothes I absolutely needed, I should never have been put to my wits' end, as I was, to avoid the "black list." I had at different times stated to the officer of our division how destitute I was in comparison with others, and begged of him to give me an order for clothing to muster in. In this I failed; and because my clothes were too much worn to be decent, I suffered as I did. I never knew any other reason for thus requiring me, as it were, to "make brick without stubble or straw," than my first offense in attempting to swim away from their service. It was a government gain to serve clothes out to us, for they were charged to us at their own price, and deducted out of our scanty allowance of wages. I had an opportunity to know that it was not because I lived in ignorance of my duty as many others did, for the same Mr. Campbell promoted me more than once to higher stations, and I was told that my wages were increased in proportion. This corporal never used his ratan on me, but the way he "honored" me then, was to turn me out of my hammock (if I was so fortunate as to get into it after doing duty on deck from the midnight hour), and set me at work with the "black list" gang, until it was time for me to take my station in my watch on deck again, with no more liberty for sleep until the night watch was set. In this way I sometimes got the privelege of about five hours for sleep below, and oftener but four hours out of the twenty-four! I was well satisfied he could have favored me in this matter had he pleased; but we obeyed, knowing well if he reported us slack or disobedient, our task would have been made still harder and more degrading. And all this for attempting to dry a pair of trowsers that my name might appear on the clean list!
Without gratifying his curiosity as to who I was, I learned from him the whereabouts of many of the officers and crew, for a great many of whom I felt a strong attachment. I employed two sturdy-looking Irishmen to shovel our salt out of the salt scows into the "ballast port," a hole in the ship's side. While progressing in their work I saw them leaning over their salt shovels. Said I, "What is the matter?" "Matter enough, sir; your men don't shovel it away as fast as we shovel it in!" Some seven or eight men were shoveling it away from them into the ship's hold. Said I, "What is the matter, men? are you not able to shovel the salt away as fast as these two men shovel it in?" They replied they were not. Said one of the Irishmen who was listening at the ballast port, "If we had as much meat to eat as you, then we would give you as much again salt." "Why," said one of my sailors, who seemed much troubled about this, "don't you have any meat?" "No," said they, "we have not had any this fortnight." "What do you eat, then?" said the sailor. "Potatoes, sure," was the reply. My sailors were then living on all the varieties that good boarding-houses afford in Liverpool. Many are of the opinion that meat imparts superior strength to the laboring class. Here, then, was one proof to the contrary.
On account of prevailing westerly winds on our homeward passage, we came into the neighborhood of the Western Islands. Here we saw the towering Peak of Pico mingling with the clouds. By our observations at noon we learned that we were eighty miles north of it. By running toward it sixty miles we should probably have discovered its base. We arrived safely in Alexandria D. C., in the fall of 1820. As no business offered for the ship, I returned to my family in New England, having been absent some sixteen months.
Early in the spring of 1821, I sailed again for Alexandria, taking charge of the Talbot, to perform a voyage to South America. The bulk of our cargo was flour. My position was more responsible now than before; for the whole cargo, as well as the ship, was now confided to me for sales and returns. My compensation for services this voyage was more than doubled. My brother F. was my chief mate. We cleared for Rio Janeiro, in Brazil. After a few hours' sail from Alexandria, with a fair wind, we passed ex-President Washington's plantation at Mount Vernon. Sailors say that it was customary with some commanders to lower their topmast sails as a token of respect when they passed his silent tomb. About one hundred and fifty miles from Washington, the variegated and pleasant scenery of the Potomac was passed, and we entered the Chesapeake Bay. We had an experienced and skillful pilot; but his thirst for strong drink, requiring the steward to fix him gin toddy and brandy sling so frequently, awakened our fears for the safe navigation of the ship, so that we deemed it necessary to put him on an allowance of three glasses of grog per day, until he had piloted the ship outside of the capes of Virginia.
From the capes of Virginia we shaped our course east southerly for Cape Verde Islands (as is usual) to meet the north-east trade-winds to carry us clear of the north-east promontory of Brazil, or South America, down to the equator where we meet the trade-winds coming more southerly. In running down these north-east trades, one is struck with the brilliant pathway the ship keeps rolling up in her onward course during the darkness of the night. The light is so brilliant that I have been tempted to read by it at the midnight hour, by holding my book open facing the shining track. Were it not for the continual caving and tumbling of the sea to fill up the chasm under the stern of the ship, which bends the letters in the book, one could read common print by it in the darkest night. Some who have examined this strange phenomenon tell us it is because the sea, particularly there, is filled with living animals, or little shining fish, called animalculę. Doubtless these are food for larger fish. Further south we meet with another species of slender fish about a foot long, furnished with little wings. Suddenly a large school of them rise out of the sea, wheel sometimes clear round, and then drop into their element again. The cause of this, as seen sometimes, is a dolphin, with all the colors of the rainbow, darting along like a streak of light in pursuit of his prey, that have eluded his grasp by rising out of their element and taking an opposite course. In the night time they frequently fly on board the ship, affording the mariner a delicious breakfast.
On our arrival off the capacious harbor and city of Rio Janeiro, we were struck with admiration while viewing the antique, cloud-capped, ragged mountains, and especially the towering sugar-loaf that makes one side of the entrance to the harbor. Here we disposed of a large portion of our cargo, and sailed for Montevideo, at the entrance to the river La Plata. A few days before our arrival, we encountered a most terrific gale and storm, at the close of which we were drifting on to a rock-bound, uninhabited part of the coast. The wind died away to a dead calm, the sea and current setting us on to the rocks. Our only resort was to clinch our cables and drop our anchors. Fortunately for us they held the ship. With my spy-glass I ascended the mast-head to survey the rocky shore. After a while I decided on the place, if we should break from our anchors and could get our ship headed for the shore, where we would plunge her, and if not overwhelmed with the surf, escape to the shore. After thus deciding, we made every necessary preparation, in case the wind should come on again in the night, to cut our cables and make a desperate effort to clear the rocks under our lee. After about thirty hours' anxious suspense, the wind began to rise again from the sea; we raised our anchors, and before midnight we considered ourselves out of danger from that quarter.
Soon after this event we arrived at Montevideo, and disposed of the balance of our cargo, and returned again to Rio Janeiro. I invested our funds in hides and coffee, and cleared and sailed for Bahia or St. Salvador. On the Abrolhos banks we fell in with the ship Balena, Capt. Gardiner, of New Bedford, trying out a sperm-whale which they had harpooned the day before. Capt. G. was recently from New Bedford, on a whaling voyage in the Pacific Ocean.
After getting these huge monsters of the deep along-side of the ship, with sharp spades fitted on long poles, they chop off their heads, and with their long-handled "ladles" dip out the purest and best oil, called "head matter." Some of these heads yield twenty barrels of this rich product, which sells sometimes for fifty dollars per barrel. Then with their great iron "blubber hooks" hooked into a strip of the blubber, to which the huge winding tackles are fastened, with the fall at the end of the windlass, the sailors heave it round while the spade men are cutting the strip down to the flesh. As the strip of blubber rises, the whale's carcass rolls over until the blubber is all on board the ship. The carcass is then turned adrift, and soon devoured by sharks.
The blubber is minced up into small pieces, and thrown into large iron "try-pots," to be tried out. When the scraps are browned they throw them under the try-pot for fuel. The hot oil is then put into casks, cooled, coopered, and stowed away for a market. While this work is progressing, the cook and steward (if the captain thinks best) are at work at the flour barrels, rolling out bushels of doughnuts, which are soon cooked in the scalding oil as a general treat for all hands. Sailors call this having a good "tuck out." The hot oil is as sweet as new hog's lard.
Capt. Gardiner furnished me with recent news from home, and left letters with me for the States. In a few days I arrived at Bahia, and from thence sailed for Alexandria, D. C.
While on our passage home, I was seriously convicted in regard to an egregious error which I had committed in allowing myself, as I had done for more than a year, to drink ardent spirits, after I had practiced entire abstinence because I had become disgusted with its debasing and demoralizing effects, and was well satisfied that drinking men were daily ruining themselves, and moving with rapid strides to drunkards' graves. Although I had taken measures to secure myself from the drunkard's path by not allowing myself in any case whatever to drink but one glass of ardent spirits per day, which I most strictly adhered to, yet the strong desire for that one glass, when coming to the dinner hour (the usual time for it), was stronger than my appetite for food, and I became alarmed for myself. While reflecting about this matter, I solemnly resolved that I would never drink another glass of ardent spirits while I lived. It is now about forty-six years since that important era in the history of my life, and I have no knowledge of ever violating that vow, only in using it for medicinal purposes. This circumstance gave a new spring to my whole being, and made me feel like a free man. Still it was considered genteel to drink wine in company.
We had a pleasant passage from Bahia to the capes of Virginia, and arrived in Alexandria about the last of November, 1821. A letter was awaiting me here from my wife, announcing the death of our only son. Mr. Gardiner, the owner of the Talbot, was so well pleased with her profitable voyage that he purchased a fast-sailing brig and an assorted cargo, in Baltimore, for me to proceed on a trading voyage to the Pacific Ocean, while the Talbot remained in Alexandria to undergo some necessary repairs. While preparations were being made for our contemplated voyage, I took passage in the mail stage from Baltimore to Massachusetts to visit my family. We left Baltimore on Wednesday, and arrived in Fairhaven, Mass., on first-day evening, after a tedious route of over four days, stopping nowhere only for a change of horses and a hasty meal, until we reached Rhode Island. While passing through Connecticut, in the night, the horses took fright and sheered on the side of a bank, upsetting the stage. A very heavy man on the seat with me held to the strap until it gave way, and fell upon me, crushing me through the side of the stage upon the frozen ground. If the driver had not leaped upon the bank as the stage was falling, and stopped his horses, we must have been killed. It was some weeks before I fully recovered. Still I rode on until I reached home.
After remaining with my family a few weeks, I left them to return to Baltimore. As we were entering Philadelphia, about midnight, in a close winter coach having but one door and containing seven men as passengers, in passing over a deep gully the straps of the driver's seat gave way, and the two drivers fell under the wheels, unknown to us who were snugly wrapt up inside. I asked why the horses were going with such speed. "Let them go," said another, "I like to go fast." I was not so well satisfied, but threw off my cloak, got the door open, and hallooed to the driver; but, receiving no answer and perceiving that the horses were going at full speed down Third Street, I reached around forward and found that the drivers were gone, and the lines trailing after the horses. I threw the step down, stepped out on it (perhaps a foot from the ground), and watched for an opportunity to jump on a snow-bank, but the horses yet kept on the pavement where the snow was worn off. The passengers from behind were urging me to jump, as they wished to follow before the stage was dashed in pieces.
I finally sprang forward with the going of the stage with all my strength, and just saw the hind wheels clearing my body, when I pitched upon my head, and how many times I tumbled after that before I stopped I cannot tell. I found I had gashed the top of my head, from which the blood was fast flowing. I heard the stage rattling most furiously away down the street. By the aid of the moonlight I found my hat, and followed on after the stage. I soon came to Mr. G., my owner's son, who was in company with me from Boston. In his fright he had jumped square out of the stage, and was seriously injured. After getting him under a doctor's care, I started to learn the fate of the other five, and our baggage. I met the horses with a driver, returning with the stage broken down on the wheels. Four other passengers followed our example, and were not much injured. The last man out was a very heavy one, and he jumped out, after the carriage left the pavement, on the sand, uninjured. The horses ran to the river and turned suddenly under a low shed, crushing the stage upon the wheels, which would in all probability have killed every passenger who had dared to remain. We learned in the morning that the drivers but just escaped with their lives, the stage wheels crushing the fingers of one, and taking a hat from the other's head. After a few days we were enabled to proceed, and arrived in Baltimore.
Soon after my return to Baltimore, I was placed in command of the brig Chatsworth, with an assorted cargo, suitable for our contemplated voyage, with unlimited power to continue trading as long as I could find business profitable. Fire-arms and ammunition were also furnished to defend ourselves in cases of piracy and mutiny. My brother F. was still my chief mate. We cleared for South America and the Pacific Ocean, and sailed for Baltimore Jan. 22, 1822. In a few weeks we were passing Cape Verde Islands, bending our course for the Southern Ocean.
In the vicinity of the equator, in moderate weather and calms, we meet with a singular species of fish (more numerous than in higher latitudes), furnished with something analagous to oars and sails. Naturalists sometimes call them "Nautilus." They are a kind of shell-fish. With their great, long legs for oars to steady them, they rise and swell out above the water from four to six inches in length, and about the same in hight, very much resembling a little ship under full, white sail. They sail and sheer round about the ship, fall flat on the sea, as though they were upset by a squall of wind, rise erect again, and glide ahead with their accustomed speed, seemingly to show the mariner that they, too, are ships, and how they can outsail him. But as soon as the wind rises their courage fails them; they take in all sail and hide under water until another calm. Sailors call them "Portuguese men-of-war."
About the 20th of March we arrived and anchored in the harbor of Rio Janeiro. Finding no demand for the whole of our cargo, we sailed again for the river La Plata. As we approached the northern entrance of the river, in the stillness of the night, although some three miles from the shore, we could distinctly hear the sea-dogs (seals) growling and barking from the sand-beach, where they had come up out of the sea to regale themselves. The next day we anchored off Montevideo to inquire into the state of the markets, and soon learned that our cargo was much wanted up the river at Buenos Ayres. In navigating this, to us, new and narrow channel in the night, without a pilot, we got on to the bottom, and were obliged to lighten our vessel by throwing some of her cargo into the sea before she would float into the channel again. On our arrival at the city of Buenos Ayres, our cargo sold immediately at a great profit.
While lying at Buenos Ayres, at the head of ship navigation, a heavy "norther" blew all the water out of the river for many leagues. It was singular to see officers and crews of ships passing from one to another, and to the city, on hard, dry bottom, where but the day before their ships were floating and swinging to their anchors in fifteen feet of water. But it was dangerous to travel many miles off, for the dying away of the wind, or a change of wind at the mouth of the river, rushed the water back like the roaring of the cataract, and floated the ships in quick time again to swing to their anchors.
Until the suppression of the Inquisition in 1820, no religion but the Roman Catholic was tolerated in Buenos Ayres. It was singular to notice, as we had frequent opportunities to do, with what superstitious awe the mass of the inhabitants regarded the ceremonies of their priests, especially the administering of the sacrament to the dying. The ringing of a small table-bell in the street announces the coming of the Host, generally in the following order: A little in advance of the priest may be seen a black boy making a "ding-dong" sound with this little bell, and sometimes two soldiers, one on each side of the priest, with their muskets shouldered, with fixed bayonets to enforce the church order for every knee to bow at the passing of the Host, or subject themselves to the point of the soldier's bayonet. I was told that an Englishman, refusing to bend his knee when the Host was passing him, was stabbed with the soldier's bayonet. Persons on horseback dismount and kneel with men, women, and children in the streets, and at the threshold of their dwelling-houses, groceries, and grog-shops, while the Host, or the priest, is passing with the wafer and the wine. We foreigners could stand at the four corners and witness the coming of the Host, and pass another way before they reached us.
Some thirty miles below the city of Buenos Ayres is a good harbor for shipping, called Ensenado. To this place I repaired with the Chatsworth, and prepared her for a winter's voyage round Cape Horn.
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Crossing the Pampas of Buenos Ayres - Preparation for the Pacific Ocean - Resolved Never to Drink Wine - Aspect of the Starry Heavens - Alarming Position off Cape Horn - Double the Cape - Island of Juan Fernandez - Arrival at Callao - A Whale Harpooned in the Harbor - Voyage to Pisco - The Patriot Soldiers - Scenery and Climate of Lima - Earthquakes - Destruction of Callao - Cemetery - Disposal of the Dead.
WHILE at Ensenado, our communications for business with Buenos Ayres required us to cross the pampas, or vast prairies lying on the south of that province. To do this, and also to protect ourselves from highway robbers, we united in bands, and armed ourselves for defense. Our way was first about twenty miles across the prairie, and then twenty miles further over the "loomas," or highlands, to the city. To be out on this vast prairie without a guide, is next to being on the vast ocean without a compass. There is not a tree, nor a shrub, nor anything but reeds and tall, wild grass to be seen as far as the eye can extend. About the only things to attract attention and relieve the mind while passing through the deep and dangerous muddy reed-bogs, and still, miry marshes, fording creeks and running streams, were occasional flocks of sheep, herds of swine, horned cattle, and horses, all quietly feeding in their own organized order. On the two last mentioned might be seen large and small birds quietly perching on their backs, having no other resting-place. Mounted on our hired, half-wild horses, stationing our well-paid postillion ahead, we thus passed over this twenty-mile prairie, rank and file, following in the cattle's miry mud-tracks, part of the time our arms around the horses' necks, fearing lest we should be thrown into a mud-hole among the reeds, or left to swim in the stream.
After some four hours' journeying, the "loomas" would appear ahead, then a farm house, and then the half-way home, or tavern for dinner, and change of horses. Soon a herd of one hundred or more horses were driven out from the prairies into a "corral," or yard, and set going with full speed around the yard, while the men with their lassos, or long hide ropes with a noose at the end, in a most dextrous manner, would throw their noose over their heads and bring them up to the post. Then, wild or not, they were held until the rider mounted, when they would start rank and file again after the postillion, and soon follow the leading horse without turning, as they had learned to go with the herds on the prairie. The same order is observed on returning back to Ensenado. During our stay here, the numerous arrivals from the United States overstocked the market and opened the way for me to purchase a cargo for the Pacific on reasonable terms. The Chatsworth was now loaded and cleared for Lima, in Peru.
As I had resolved on my previous voyage never more to use ardent spirits only for medicinal purposes, so now, on leaving Buenos Ayres, I also resolved that I would never drink another glass of wine. In this work of reform I found myself entirely alone, and exposed to the jeering remarks of those with whom I afterward became associated, especially when I declined drinking with them. Yet after all their comments, that it was not improper or dangerous to drink moderately, etc., they were constrained to admit that my course was perfectly safe!
Passing from the northern into the southern hemisphere, one is struck with the remarkable change in the starry heavens. Before reaching the equator, the well-known north star is apparently setting in the northern horizon, and a great portion of the well-known stars in the northern hemisphere are receding from the mariner's view. But this loss is supplied by the splendid, new, and varied scenery in the southern heavens, as he sails onward toward the southern polar regions. Here, away in the south-western heavens, in the track of the milky way, every star-light night, can be seen two small, stationary white clouds, called by sailors the "Magellanic Clouds." Ferguson says, "By the aid of the telescope they appear to be a mixture of small clouds and stars." But the most remarkable of all the cloudy stars, he says, "is that in the middle of Orion's sword, where seven stars (three of which are very close together) seem to shine through a cloud. It looks like a gap in the sky, through which one may see, as it were, a part of a much brighter region. Although most of these spaces are but a few minutes of a degree in breadth, yet since they are among the fixed stars they must be spaces larger than what is occupied by our solar system; and in which there seems to be a perpetual, uninterrupted day among numberless worlds which no human art can discover."
This gap or place in the sky is undoubtedly the same that is spoken of in the Scriptures. See John 1:51; Rev. 19:11. The center of this constellation (Orion) is midway between the poles of heaven, and directly over the equator, and comes to the meridian about the 23d of January, at 9 o'clock in the evening. Inspiration testifies that "the worlds were framed by the word of God." Heb. 11:3. "He hangeth the earth upon nothing." "By his Spirit he hath garnished the heavens." Job 26:7, 13.
On our passage from Buenos Ayres to Cape Horn, we arrived in the vicinity of the Falkland Islands, between three and four hundred miles north-east of the cape. Here we endeavored to make a harbor during a storm, by beating up into Falkland Sound, but the increasing gale obliged us to bear up and continue our southern course. On arriving off Cape Horn, about July and August, the coldest and most stormy season of the year, for about thirty days we were contending with prevailing westerly gales, and floating islands of ice from the polar regions, trying (as sailors say) to double Cape Horn. While lying to under a balanced-reefed try-sail off the cape, in a heavy westerly gale, a heavy cross-sea boarded us on our larboard side, which stove in our bulwarks and stanchions, and ripped up the plankshire, and washed them up against the mast from near the windlass to the cabin gangway. In this exposed and perilous condition, liable to be filled with water and sunk immediately, we set the close-reefed main top-sail, and put the vessel before the wind; and to keep her still more steady we packed on also a reefed foresail, which increased her speed so furiously that it prevented her from rolling the open space under water only occasionally. Fortunately, we had a new main-hatch tarpaulin at hand. With strips of this all hands were now engaged, as opportunity offered, to get it over the open spaces, and drive a nail to secure it, and rush back to our holding-on places until the ship rolled again to leeward. In about two hours we secured in this way, temporarily, the open space--took in our main top-sail and fore-sail, and hove to again on the same tack under a balanced reefed try-sail. Then after pumping out the water and clearing away the wreck, we had time to reflect on our narrow escape from utter destruction, and how God in kindness had opened the way for us to save ourselves in this trying hour. The next day, after the gale had abated, we repaired damages more thoroughly, and at the expiration of some thirty days' struggling off Cape Horn against westerly gales and driving snow-storms, we were enabled to double the cape and shape our course for the island of Juan Fernandez, some fourteen hundred miles north of us. The westerly winds were now in our favor, so that in a few days we changed our climate, and were passing along in sight of this far-famed island, once the whole world to Robinson Crusoe. After sailing north some twenty-six hundred miles from the stormy cape, the towering mountains of Peru could be distinctly seen, though we were some eighty miles distant from the coast. Passing onward, we cast our anchor in the spacious bay of Callao, about six miles west of the celebrated city of Lima. North American produce was in good demand. Some of my first sales of flour were over seventy dollars per barrel. A few cargoes arriving soon after reduced the price to thirty dollars. Here I chartered the Chatsworth to a Spanish merchant for a voyage to Pisco, some one hundred miles further south, with the privilege of disposing of my cargo and returning with his.
Soon after our arrival here, the chief mate and two of the men went up to the village, about three miles from the harbor, to procure beef and vegetables for dinner. The men soon returned with the statement that the patriot soldiers had descended from the mountains and besieged the village, pillaging the stores where some of our cargo was exposed for sale, and had driven the mate out on one side of the village to shoot him, also declaring that they were coming down to take our vessel and dispose of me, because of the Spanish merchant we had brought there from Lima. The mate soon appeared on the beach. After the boat brought him on board, he said that the soldiers, on learning that he was the mate of the Chatsworth, drove him on one side of the village to shoot him. On arriving at the place, one of the soldiers persuaded the others not to kill him. They then concluded to let him go, but beat him most unmercifully with their swords. We made preparations to defend ourselves, but our enemies thought best not to expose themselves within reach of our cannon balls. Notwithstanding our opposing foes, who continued to threaten us, we disposed of all our cargo here at better prices than were offered at Callao, and returned to Callao with the Spanish merchant's cargo.
While at Callao, a whale made his appearance in the bay. A Nantucket whale-ship there at the time followed him with their boats and harpooned him. The whale rushed in among the shipping, with the boat in tow, like a streak through the foaming water, and dashed down directly under the bottom of a large English brig, giving her pursuers but a moment's warning to chop off their line and save their lives--something like leaving his compliments with his unknown foes, saying, "If you follow me here, you will never harpoon another poor whale." The whale rushed through the fleet of shipping to the head of the bay in shoal water. The boat followed, and fastened to him again, when he came out of the bay, and in a little while we could but just discern the boat as the sun was setting, in the offing, with her waft flying, signifying that the whale was dead.
Lieutenant (now Commodore) Conner, who commanded the United States schooner Dolphin, got under way, and the next day arrived with the whale and boat in tow. By invitation, the day following, the citizens of Lima came down to witness how the North Americans cut in and stow away the big whales found in their waters.
The climate in this region is healthy, and the scenery most delightful. There are floating white clouds, beyond which may be seen the indigo-colored sky, apparently twice the distance from the earth that it is in North America. And then there is the sweet, salubrious air, and strong trade-winds, and evergreen fields, and trees bending with delicious fruit, while the ground continually teems with vegetation for both man and beast. We encountered no rain storms, and the people say it never rains there. Their city is walled and guarded on the east by towering mountains, easy of ascent, even above the white-capped clouds, which sail below the admiring beholder until they strike a higher ledge of the mountains, then rise and float away over the vast Pacific on the west. And still farther in the distance, on the east, about ninety leagues, lie in huge piles the continually snow-capped Andes, all plain to the naked eye, which continually send forth gushing streams that water the plains below. This is also conveyed by means of walled ditches to the streets of the city.
Much more could be added to this interesting description to make a residence there very desirable. But one shock of an earthquake (and they are frequent there), perhaps in the dead of the night, when the inhabitants rush into the streets to save themselves from falling dwellings, crying, wailing, and screaming aloud for mercy, is enough to make one perfectly willing and in a hurry to exchange his position for almost any region where the earth rests quietly on its own foundation.
It is stated in Mr. Haskell's Chronology of the World, that Lima was destroyed by an earthquake in October, 1746. This I think could not have been the city of Lima, but the sea-port of the city, called Callao; for the most celebrated and central part of the city of Lima is the Palace Square, on one side of which then stood a very ancient, long, one-story wooden building, where the city officers transacted their business. I was frequently told that this building was the palace or dwelling-place of the Spanish adventurer, Pizarro, after his conquest of Peru. If this statement was correct, then it will be allowed that Pizarro occupied it long before the earthquake in 1746. Hence that part of the city could not have been destroyed; but her sea-port, called Callao, was.
The city of Lima is situated about six miles in the interior from her sea-port, Callao, and is about seven hundred feet above the level of the sea, on an inclined plane. While I was there in 1822-3, seventy-seven years after the earthquake, I frequently visited the place to view the massive piles of brick, from about eighteen inches under water to as far down as I could see, that composed the buildings and walls of the place at the time of the earthquake. I was told that a Spanish frigate was lying moored in the harbor at the time, and after its destruction by the earthquake she was found three miles inland, about half way from the port of Callao to the city of Lima, some three hundred and fifty feet above the level of the sea. Allowing this statement to be true, and I never heard any one attempt to disprove it, then it must have been the earthquake that caused the earth first to rise under the sea, causing the body of water between it and the land to rush on with such force that the frigate was carried up the inclined plane, and when the water receded she was left some three miles from the sea-shore.
From all appearances, Callao was overflowed by the sea, for its ruins lie nearly on a level with the sea, and are under a lake of water separated from the ocean by a sand-bar. I have heard, and also observed, that the sea does not rise and fall here, at stated periods, as it does in almost all other harbors and places. Hence, it is clear that the body of water which covers the ruins of Callao is not furnished from the sea. Another singular curiosity in this place was the cemetery, about five miles out of the city, which was different from anything I had ever seen. At the entrance was the church with the cross. Part of the way round the cemetery was double-walled. The space or pass-way between these walls appeared to be about forty feet wide. The walls were about eight feet high and seven thick, with three rows of cells where they deposited the dead. These were rented for six months, or any length of time, to those who could afford to deposit their dead in this style. Some of these cells were bricked up, and others had iron doors that were locked. The unoccupied ones were open for rent. In the center, between the walls, were deep vaults covered with iron gratings, in which we could see dead bodies all tumbled together without order. I learned that when the six months, or whatever time the cells were rented for, closed, the bodies were taken out and pitched into the vaults in the center. Thus they could accommodate others. In another department, the dead were buried underground in rows. Near by the church was a large circular vault, with a steeple-top covering, resting on pillars several feet above the vault. This was another burying-place. On looking over the railing placed around it to prevent the living from falling in, the sight was most revolting. Some bodies stood erect, others with their heads downward, and in every imaginable position, just as they happened to fall from the hand-barrow, with their ragged, unclean clothing on in which they died. These, of course, were the abject poor, whose friends were unable to pay rent for a burying-place underground or in one of the white-washed cells in the walls. The dead soldiers were carried out of the forts and dumped in here with little ceremony. The air is so salubrious that no offensive smell arises from these dead bodies. They literally waste away and dry up.
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Mint - Stamping Coin - Catholic Churches and Feasts - The Sunset Bells - Spanish Inquisition - Voyage to Truxillo - Sell the Chatsworth - Smuggling - Spanish Boats - Silver Conveyed by Indians - Deliver up the Chatsworth - Passage to Callao - Trouble with the Captain - Wine at a Dinner Party - Smoking.
WE then visited the Peruvians' mint, to see them make and stamp their coin. In the center of their stamping-room was a pit about six feet deep, and about five in diameter. In the center of the bottom of this was the foundation in which was the "lower pintle" of the standard on which the money was laid, or held, to be stamped. The stamping machine was fashioned at the top like a common capstan, with holes pierced through to receive two long levers, or bars, over twenty feet long, with a man stationed at each end of the bar. From the head of the capstan it tapered down to a point, on which was fixed the stamp. One man in the pit with a half bushel of silver pieces to be stamped for half-dollars or quarters, as the case may be, holds each piece between his thumb and fore-finger on the bottom pintle. The stamp was on the bottom of the capstan, about one foot above his fingers. The men would lay hold of the end of the capstan bars and whirl the capstan half way round, when it would stamp the silver with a crash, and fly back with a spring to its place, where the four men would seize the bars again and whirl it back, and another piece was coined. In this way they stamped several pieces in a minute. We were told that the stamp came down every time with about seven tons' weight. The stamp was now prepared to coin sixpences. I watched the man in the pit to see how he could hold these small pieces within, as it were, a hair's breadth of the stamp which came down with seven tons' weight several times a minute, or about as fast as he could place the uncoined pieces under the stamp. The man seemed to be perfectly at home in this business, and accomplished his work with as much ease as a seamstress would stitch a garment. "Because he was used to it," says one. But if he had lost his thumb and finger before he got used to it, how then? The wonder to me was how a man could get used to such a hazardous business without getting his fingers pinched.
These Peruvians were Roman Catholics, and had some sixty Catholic churches within the walls of their city, mostly built of stone and brick. Many of them were very costly, covering acres of ground, with beautiful gardens in the center plots, and with so many apartments that it was necessary for strangers to employ a guide to prevent losing their way. Most splendid paintings and costly images of the saints could be seen in various apartments, with living beings kneeling before them, crossing themselves, and moving their lips as in the act of prayer. In many of their churches, particularly in the place assigned for public worship, the supporting columns sustaining the heavy arched work were plated with silver. Their richly ornamented altars were studded with large golden horns. But the patriots were stripping off the gold and silver, and coining it in their mint to pay off their armies.
Their feast days were numerous. They had Saints' and All-Saints' days; but the most imposing feast that I witnessed, in the church, was the imitation of Jesus and his disciples at the last passover in connection with the institution of the Lord's supper. A large table near the center of the church might be seen loaded with silver dishes, pitchers, silver plates, knives, forks, etc. Then Jesus and the twelve apostles, as large as life, were all seated in order around the table, gorgeously dressed with silver steeple-top caps on their heads. The people dropped upon their knees all around these figures, as they crowded in, apparently awe-struck with the imposing sight. While they were worshiping in their accustomed attitude, the officers were in pursuit of us Protestant strangers, requesting us also to kneel. We were so anxious to see how this feast was conducted that we kept moving and changing our position, until so closely pursued and required to kneel, that we passed out, and visited other churches, which were also open on this occasion.
Some of their churches are furnished with many bells, and when occasion requires them all to be rung at once, hardly anything else can be heard. After my arrival in the city I was standing in the street conversing with friends, when the bells began to strike a slow, funeral tone; all business ceased in a moment. Carriages and all moving vehicles stopped. Men, women, and children, no matter what were their engagements, or how interesting their conversation, ceased to speak. Men on horseback dismounted, and every man, with his head uncovered, respectfully waited for one or two minutes, when the solemn tone of the bells changed to a joyous ringing, then business of all kinds was resumed, and the people moved on again with their heads covered as they were before the bells struck. This was at the setting of the sun. I asked my Spanish friend (who appeared to be very devout during the ceremony) the meaning of this. "Why," said he, "that all the people may remember God at the close of the day." I thought this was certainly a most respectful ceremony, worthy of universal imitation. Yet after all, this people were living in continual violation of the second commandment of God. Their priests did not hesitate to visit gambling-rooms and and play billiards on Sunday, as on other days.
When the Roman Catholics suppressed the Inquisition, there was a noted one in the city of Lima which occupied a large space of ground. The Peruvians not only suppressed this diabolical institution at that time, but they demolished the huge pile of buildings, and left it in a heap of ruins, except one of the court-rooms, where the implements of torture had been arranged for the cruel work of torturing heretics. We saw a number of places where the walls had been broken away in this room, and were told that these places were where the implements of torture had been removed. Some old-fashioned lead ink-stands on the desks were left by the mob. We were also shown some of the dismal dungeons that were beneath the ruins under ground. In one corner we noticed a bed of earth stoned up a few feet above the wet ground for the prisoners' bed. We were pointed also to some recesses that were still standing. These were to torture heretics, and were built just large enough for a person to stand upright with his hands down, and a door fastened against him--a position that a person could live in but a very short time. But we forbear to speak further at this time of these so-called Christian institutions of the Roman Catholic Church, instituted and nourished for centuries by the papacy, granting power to her bishops and priests to punish and put to death what they call heretics, by all kinds of torture that fiends in human shape could invent.
We took on board a number of passengers at Callao, to land in Truxillo, in latitude 8° south. Here we sold the Chatsworth for ten thousand dollars to a Spanish merchant. Seven thousand dollars were in lumps and pieces of platapena and virgin silver, to be paid here. As this, and all gold and silver coin was prohibited from exportation by the Peruvian government, various measures were invented by foreigners and their merchants to convey their specie on board their vessels. As my agreement was that the silver should be delivered to me outside of the breakers on board the C., when the time arrived for me to leave for Lima, I asked how this money was to be delivered. Said the merchant, "It will come off to you about midnight to-night." "But how?" said I. "We will send it to you by some Indians" (aborigines). I asked if the money was to be counted out to me before I left the shore, that I might identify the same, and the number of pieces as per invoice rendered, when brought off to me. The merchant replied that he had put the amount of silver specified in the invoice, into the hands of several Indians many weeks before, subject to his order. Said I, "What did they do with it?" "Oh, they buried it up in the ground somewhere." "Do you know where?" "No." "What security have you from them that they will keep it for you?" "None," said he. "How do you know that they will deliver it all to me to-night?" Said he, "I have employed them a great while, and put into their hands thousands of dollars in this way, and paid them well for their labor when they delivered what I intrusted them with, and there has never been any failure on their part, and I fear none. They are the most honest people in the world, particularly where they live separate by themselves."
The Chatsworth lay some two miles from shore. The breakers in-shore of us were too dangerous for ships' boats to pass. The government used a large boat manned with sixteen oars, by Indians trained to the business, and when occasion required her to pass out to the shipping, or return back through these dangerous breakings of the sea, another company of Indians standing on the shore, as soon as the boat approached the breakers on her way out, and they discovered the sea rising to break over her, would make a most hideous yell! The boatmen would instantly head their boat for the breakers, and take a position with their oars to obey the helmsman's orders to keep the boat headed directly to the sea, while she was being violently tossed by the breakers; and then they would pull for life to clear the sand-bar before another sea came. When the boat was returning, and they heard the watchmen's yell, the helmsman would steer the boat square before the rolling breakers, the oarsmen pulling with all their strength. After two or three struggles, the danger was passed. The watchmen on the shore would raise a mighty, joyous shout, joined by the boatmen, announcing to all around, "All's well!"
The people here, and in other places on the coast, have another kind of boats they call "caballos," or horses, on which they ride as people do on horseback. These horses are made of the common tall flags, or rushes, securely lashed together about ten feet long, the large part about two feet in diameter, tapering to two inches at the small end. This end they turned up like the head of a boat to stand prominent out of the water, which cuts through the sea. The large part is to ride on. None but those that were well trained could ride this kind of horses, or keep them right side up but a few moments at a time. The people, especially the Indians, would move through the water in a masterly manner, even much faster than a common boat, with a double paddle, or the paddle blade fitted at both ends, seated as on horseback. It was interesting to see them paddle alternately on each side for the breakers, and when about to pass them, lie down on their horses while the breakers washed over them, and then paddle clear before the next one came. I was told that this kind of horses was of great importance on some parts of the coast, where the breakers would not admit a ship's boat to approach. Communications and dispatches were there made through the medium of these caballos, or Spanish horses.
The Indians that were to convey the platapena to us had to pass through this dangerous place in the dark night, while their watchmen on the shore were waiting in suspense and deep anxiety their safe return. When we set the watch at night, I requested my brother, the chief mate, to be on deck until midnight, and if he saw any one floating on the water, approaching us, to call me up. About midnight he called me, saying, "There are two men along-side, sitting in the water!" We lowered down empty water-buckets, and a lighted lantern, when the Indians unfastened the bags of silver that were securely hung with lines underneath their caballos, and placed them in the buckets for us to haul up on deck. When it was all safely aboard they seemed very much pleased at the accomplishment of the job. It appeared to me at that season of the night about an impossibility for them to pass through those dangerous breakers. We gave them some refreshment as they sat on their water-horses, for they dared not leave them, but soon moved away as fast as possible to relieve their waiting comrades on the shore, and to receive the compensation that their employer had promised them. As their employer had declared, every particle was delivered to me as per invoice.
I now delivered up the Chatsworth to the purchaser, took leave of my officers and crew, my brother succeeding me in the command of the C., the second officer succeeding him as chief mate, to remain in the employ of the new owners to trade in the Pacific Ocean. I then took passage to Lima on board a Peruvian schooner. I was aware that I was risking much in the hands of this stranger and his crew, who might think that the large amount of money placed in their hands was of more value to them than my life; but I had no other means of conveyance to Lima. I endeavored to manifest no fear, nor lack of confidence in him as a gentleman, but watched him very closely, and endeavored to keep the run of his vessel, and the course steered. We anchored in Callao Bay, after a passage of seven days. Here he refused to deliver me the seven thousand dollars in silver, which I had placed in his care until our arrival in Callao, alleging that the government of Peru did not allow him to deliver it to me. This he well understood when I placed it in his care to deliver to me on our arrival at Callao. He also knew that if he reported any specie on board belonging to a foreigner, no matter how honestly he came by it, the government would seize it for their own use. As the matter stood he would neither let me have it nor let the government know there was any silver on board his vessel. He then immediately cleared for another country, weighed his anchor and proceeded to sea. I soon learned of his dishonest and wicked intentions. I was, at that time, on board of a New Bedford whale-ship, and saw him under way. Capt. H. manned his whale-boat, and we soon overtook him. He still refused to deliver me the silver, until he saw that resistance was vain. He then very reluctantly allowed me to receive it, and continued on his voyage. We transferred the silver to the United States ship Franklin, 74, Commodore Stewart commanding, on deposit until we were ready for sea, as other Americans had to do for safe keeping.
Mr. Swinegar, our Peruvian merchant, gave a large dinner-party to the captains and supercargoes of the American vessels, and a number of the officers of the American squadron, Feb. 22, in honor of Gen. Washington's birth-day. As I was the only person at the table that had decided not to drink wine or strong drink because of its intoxicating qualities, Mr. S. stated to some of his friends with him at the table that he would influence me to drink wine with him. He filled his glass and challenged me to drink a glass of wine with him. I responded by filling my glass with water! He refused to drink unless I filled mine with wine. I said, "Mr. Swinegar, I cannot do so, for I have fully decided never to drink wine." By this time the company were all looking at us. Mr. S. still waited for me to fill my glass with wine. Several urged me to comply with his request. One of the lieutenants of the squadron, some distance down the table, said, "Bates, surely you will not object to taking a glass of wine with Mr. Swinegar." I replied that I could not do it. I felt embarrassed and sorry that such a cheerful company should be so intent on my drinking a glass of wine as almost to forget the good dinner that was before them. Mr. S., seeing that I would not be prevailed on to drink wine, pressed me no further.
At that time my deep convictions with respect to smoking cigars enabled me to decide also that from that evening I would never smoke another cigar, or smoke tobacco in any way. This victory raised my feelings and elevated my mind above the fog of tobacco-smoke, which had to a considerable extent beclouded my mind, and freed me from an idol which I had learned to worship among sailors.
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Money Matters - Highway Robbers - Searching Ships for Specie - A Lieutenant Shot - Sail for Home - Tobacco - Serious Reflections - Pass Cape Horn - Equator - North Star - Violent Gale - A Sudden Change of Wind - Desperate Position - Joyous Sight of Land - Vineyard Sound - Arrival in Boston - At Home - Another Voyage - Off the Capes of Virginia - Outward Bound.
AS we received specie in payment for our cargoes of goods, and this, as well as gold and silver, was prohibited by the government from exportation, we were necessarily subjected to many inconveniences and losses in securing returns for our owners. Many of the captains trading in the Pacific were also supercargos. Being obliged to transact our business at two custom-houses, Callao and Lima, six miles apart, it became necessary to have our own horses to pass between the two places. When returning to Callao, we generally loaded our persons with as much specie in dollars and doubloons as it was deemed prudent to risk, in the bottoms of our boots, and in our waist-belts, buckled around us under our dress. We did this because we were liable to be robbed on the way, and also because we were subjected to an examination by custom-house officers before embarking to our ships in the harbor. We generally distributed portions of it among our boat's crew until we got on board our vessels, and then deposited it for safe keeping on board one of our war-ships, paying the commander one per cent. for deposit.
Our government officers in this way received and protected our property because it was ours. Two of my boat's crew were examined one day as I was about to embark, and ordered to the custom-house. I followed them. They had some two hundred dollars on their persons. The two officers who stopped the men, after counting the sum, wished to know how much I would give them if they would let the sailors pass without reporting the matter to the custom-house. "One doubloon," said I. "No;" said they, "we will divide with you." I replied, "If you will not accept my offer, go and make your report and let the government take it all, if they will." They attempted to show me that my proceedings had been unlawful, and that I would have trouble. I gave them to understand that I should only have to lose my money, but they something more, for offering to divide with me and appropriate the divided part to themselves. They concluded finally to return me all the money, except the doubloon I offered them. These men never troubled me when I was embarking after that. One day a small party of men were passing down with money, when a party of armed men on horseback rushed out upon them and demanded their money, and required them to strip off their clothing to be sure of getting all they had. After securing all, they fled to the mountains.
The ship Friendship, of Salem, Mass., was reported as having eleven thousand dollars on board, after having sold her cargo in Lima. The government sent a company of soldiers with officers of the custom-house to take possession of her. They made diligent search, but found none; still they kept charge of the ship for many days, and caused much trouble. The money was there, stowed away so snugly between the "carlings" overhead in the cabin, where the ceiling was finished and painted, that one would not have suspected money could be there. After the government gave up the ship to the supercargo again, he took out the money and transported it to the United States ship Franklin, 74. Soon after this, a Boston ship was taken possession of in the harbor, in the night, and it was several months before the captain, who pursued her, recovered and brought her back.
In conversation one day with one of the Peruvian officers, who was boasting of the independence of Peru, and its freedom from the Spanish government, he was asked what his view of freedom was. "Why," said he, "if you have a good horse and I want him, if I am stronger than you, I'll take the horse!" It rather seemed that others, when they wanted our money and ships, were of the same opinion.
While we were here, a lieutenant in the Peruvian patriot army absconded and joined their enemy. He was taken, tried, and condemned to be shot without the walls of the city of Lima. This was a manner of taking life which I had never witnessed. To gratify my curiosity I passed on with the vast multitude of citizens, and took my position on the top of the city wall, very near the place where the condemned man was seated, who was attended by a Catholic priest. A cap was soon drawn over his eyes. In front of him, military officers were drilling and marshaling their troops, until about the appointed hour for him to be shot, when they were all arranged in columns, the front ranks about twenty yards from the condemned. At the word of command some six men advanced from the ranks within a few yards of the poor man, and levelled their muskets at his head. Again at the word of command they fired. His head dropped on his shoulder, seemingly as quick as if it had been severed by a cleaver. He seemed to die without a struggle. The squadron army then wheeled away with the deafening sound of martial music. The dead man was carried away to his long home. The excitement of the morning was passed. I soon found myself almost solitary amid the vast concourse of citizens returning slowly to their places of abode, resolving in my mind that I never would voluntarily go to see another man shot.
I had now been in the Pacific Ocean about fourteen months, and was closing my business and preparing to return to the United States. The ship Candace, Capt. F. Burtody, was about to sail for Boston, Mass., in which ship I engaged my passage.
Capt. B. and myself mutually agreed, when the Candace weighed her anchor, that we would from that hour cease chewing tobacco. About the last week of November, 1823, all hands were called to weigh anchor. None but those who experience these feelings can tell the thrill that fills every soul, from the captain to the cabin-boy, when the order is given to "weigh anchor for home." New life, with energy and strength, seems to actuate all on board. The hardy sailors clinch their hand-spikes, the windlass begins to roll and bring the watery cable on deck. The gallant ship, seemingly participating with her joyous crew, advances step by step to her anchor, until the officer cries out, "Hold! the cable is a-peak!" The top-sails are now loosed, sheeted home, and hoisted to the mast-head, and the yards are braced to cant the ship's head out of the harbor. The windlass is now manned again. The ship is soon up with her anchor. A few more turns of the windlass, and the anchor breaks its hold, and the gallant ship is free. The anchor is up and swung to the cat-head, and the ship's sails fill with the freshening gale. The sailors cry, "We are homeward bound." The feelings of the sailors still left in the harbor are something like these: "That ship has weighed her anchor, and is standing out of the harbor, bound for home. Success to them. I wish we were going, too." No matter how many seas there are to pass, or how many storms to meet, or how far from home, the joyous feeling still vibrates in every heart--"Home, home, sweet home. Our anchor's weighed for home!"
Our good ship now lay by with her main topsail to the mast, until the boat came along-side from the commodore with our specie and silver, which Capt. B. and myself had gained by trading. When this was all safe on board, all sail was made on the ship. It was now night, and we were passing our last landmark (St. Lorenzo), and putting out for a long voyage of eight thousand and five hundred miles. The steward reported supper ready. "Here goes my tobacco, Bates," said Capt. B., taking it from his mouth and casting it overboard. "And here goes mine, too," said I, and that was the last that has ever polluted my lips. But Capt. B. failed to overcome, and labored hard with me to keep him company. I was now free from all distilled spirits, wine, and tobacco. Step by step I had gained this victory--nature never required either. I never used the articles, except to keep company with my associates. How many millions have been ruined by such debasing and ruinous habits. How much more like a human being I felt when I had gained the mastery in these things and overcome them all. I was also making great efforts to conquer another crying sin, which I had learned of wicked sailors. That was the habit of using profane language. My father had been a praying man from the time I had any knowledge of him. My mother embraced religion when I was about twelve years old. I never dared, even after I was married, to speak irreverently of God in the presence of my father. As he had endeavored to train me in the way I should go, I knew the way, but the checkered scenes of the previous sixteen years of my life had thrown me from the track, which I was endeavoring now to regain. On our voyage from Cape Horn into the Pacific, I tried hard to break myself of the evil habit of swearing, and said to my brother that he must not swear, nor allow the sailors to do so, for I should not permit it. As I had plenty of leisure now, I read much of my time, and very often, especially on Sundays, many chapters in the Bible. By so doing I concluded that I was making myself a tolerably good Christian.
Our good ship continued to gain onward, and on reaching Cape Horn, we encountered a driving storm; but the wind was fair to go eastward, so that in forty-eight hours we were safely round the Horn, in the South Atlantic Ocean, steering northward for home. As we approached the equator, some of the well-known stars in the northern hemisphere began to make their appearance--particularly the "Pointers," that always direct the wandering mariner to the north star. As our good Candace still continued to urge her way from the Southern Ocean to the equator, the "Pointers" indicated that the north star was at the northern horizon.
The night was clear and the watch on deck were all awaiting the appearance of the north star. At length it was seen just breaking from the mist of the northern horizon, apparently four or five feet above the surface of the ocean. The first sight of this well-known star to the mariners ascending from the Southern Ocean is often more cheering to their hearts than twenty-four hours of fair wind. If we had no way to ascertain our latitude by nautical instruments, we should know by the foregoing appearance of this star, that we were at least one hundred and twenty miles north of the equator. As our good Queen Candace advanced in her onward course into the Northern Ocean, staggering under the freshening gale from the north-east trades, our hearts were cheered night after night on seeing the very same star rising still higher and higher in the northern heavens--an unmistakable sign that we were rapidly advancing northward, nearer, and still nearer home.
I have heard it stated of the Portugese sailors, that when their ships were returning on their homeward voyages from South America to Portugal, as soon as they saw the north star above the northern horizon, it was the time and place where they settled with, and paid off their ship's crew up to that date.
We had now passed to the windward of the West India Islands, away from the influence of the north-east trade-winds, and were drawing into the dreaded Gulf Stream on the southern coast of North America, scudding onward before a rapidly increasing south-east gale, appearing very much like the one of 1818 which I had experienced on board the ship Frances, before referred to. Capt. B. and myself brought to remembrance our former experience in such trying times, and the dangerous position ships are placed in at meeting an instantaneous change of wind in such driving storms, often rendering them unmanageable, especially in and about this stream.
The Candace was in good ballast trim, and perhaps as well prepared to contend with such a storm as almost any other ship. She was now scudding before the terrific gale under a reefed foresail, and main top-sail. As the dark night set in, the elements seemed in fearful commotion. The important work with officers and helmsmen now was to keep the ship dead, or directly before the mountainous seas. As Capt. B. had stationed himself on the quarter-deck, to give all necessary orders respecting the management of the ship during the violence of the storm, and my confidence being unshaken in his nautical skill, I concluded to go below and rest if I could, and like other passengers, be out of the way.
The rain was falling fast, and about midnight I heard a fearful cry, "The ship's aback!" another cry to the helmsman, and another for all hands on deck! I rushed to the cabin gangway, where I saw that what we had most dreaded had come, viz., the raging gale from the south-east had ceased all of a sudden, and was now raging from the opposite quarter. As soon as I got on deck I saw that the storm-sails were pressing against the mast, and the ship's head was paying around westward against the awful mountainous seas, which seemed almost to rush over us from the south, and threaten our immediate destruction. Capt. B., and all the ship's company that could be seen, were hauling with all their strength on the starboard main-braces. Seeing the imminent danger we were in, without stopping to think that I was only a passenger, I cried out at the top of my voice, "Let go the starboard main-braces, and come over on this side of the ship, and haul in the larboard main-braces!" Capt. B. had supposed that the ship would obey her helm, and pay her head off to the eastward. When my shouting arrested his attention, he saw that the ship's head was moving the opposite way. They then let go the starboard braces and crowded over and hauled in the larboard braces. The sails filled, and the ship was once more under good headway, though in a most dangerous position from the awful sea on her lee-beam. Before her sails filled she had lost her headway, and but just escaped being overwhelmed with a rushing sea, which gave her the appearance of going down stern foremost. How she escaped being engulfed with this sea was beyond our wisdom to discern. After order was restored, I apologized to the captain for assuming to take the command of his ship, and was cheerfully and freely forgiven.
With the passing of the gale we crossed the Gulf, and sounded in deep water on the coast. We now realized that it was mid-winter. At length the joyful cry was raised, "Land, ho!" It proved to be Block Island, R. I. Joyful sight, indeed, to see our own native land, within forty miles of home, looming in the distance. Yes; to see any land after watching sky and water for three long months, was a great relief. But here comes a pilot boat. "Where are you from?" "Pacific Ocean." "Where are you bound?" "To Boston." "Will you take a pilot through the Vineyard Sound? It's always the safest way in the winter season." "Yes, come along-side." In a few minutes more the pilot had full charge of the ship, bearing down for the Vineyard Sound. The pilot-boat then steers out to sea to meet another homeward-bound ship. The next thing is, "What's the news in the States, pilot?" "What's the news from Europe?" "What's the state of the world?" "Who's to be our next president?" etc., etc. Hardly waiting for an answer, "Have you any newspapers?" "Yes; but they are not the last." "No matter, they will be new to us; it's a long time since we have heard anything from the land of the living."
At night we cast our anchor in Holmes' Hole, a spacious harbor in the Vineyard for ships wind-bound for Boston. A number of boats were soon along-side. From the many baskets of various kinds of pies, fried cakes, apples, etc., etc., that these people presented on our decks, we were led to suppose that the good people on shore divined that we were very hungry for their good things. Indeed, we feasted for a little while. Their boats were also well stocked with large baskets of yarn stockings, mittens, etc. A supply of these was likewise very acceptable at this cold season. On leaving the ship in the evening, there was quite a stir among the boatmen to find their baskets. One man was looking round in the cabin passage, inquiring of his neighbor John if he had seen anything of his "knitting work." What, thought I, do men knit stockings here? Do they carry their knitting work about with them? I soon learned that it was his basket of stockings which he called his knitting work. The wind favored us, and we were soon passing around Cape Cod into Massachusetts Bay, and the next day anchored off the city of Boston, somewhere about the 20th of February, 1824, after a passage of three months from Callao Bay.
Our voyage was a very profitable one, but unfortunately one of the two owners failed during the voyage, which cost much time and expense before a settlement was accomplished.
Fifty-five miles by stage, and I was once more at home. A little blue-eyed girl of sixteen months, whom I had never seen, was here waiting with her mother to greet me, and welcome me once more to our comfortable and joyous fire-side. As I had been absent from home over two years, I designed to enjoy the society of my family and friends for a little season. After a few months, however, I engaged myself to go another voyage to South America, or anywhere I could find business profitable. A new brig was now launched, rigged, and fitted to our liking, named the Empress, of New Bedford. Part of an assorted cargo was received on board in New Bedford. From thence we sailed about the 15th of August, 1824, for Richmond, Va., to finish our lading with flour for Rio Janeiro and a market.
After finishing our lading in Richmond, we passed down James River and anchored in Hampton Roads, to procure our armament in Norfolk. Finding no cannon mounted, we proceeded on our voyage without one. It is not as necessary now for merchantmen to carry guns as it was then, on account of piratical vessels. September 5, we discharged our pilot off Cape Henry light-house, and shaped our course east southerly, to meet the north-east trades.
From the time I resolved to drink no more wine (in 1822), I had occasionally drank beer and cider. But now on weighing anchor from Hampton Roads I decided from henceforth to drink neither ale, porter, beer, nor cider of any description. My prospect for making a profitable and successful voyage was now more flattering than my last, for I now owned a part of the Empress and her cargo, and had the confidence of my partners to sell and purchase cargoes as often as it would prove to our advantage, and use my judgment about going to what part of the world I pleased. But with all these many advantages to get riches, I felt sad and homesick. I had provided myself with a number of what I called interesting books, to read in my leisure hours. My wife thought there were more novels and romances than were necessary. In packing my trunk of books, she placed a pocket New Testament, unknown to me, on the top of them. On opening this trunk to find some books to interest me, I took up the New Testament, and found in the opening page the following interesting piece of poetry, by Mrs. Hemans, placed there to arrest my attention:--
"Leaves have their time to fall,
And flowers to wither at the north wind's breath,
And stars to set--but all,
Thou hast all seasons for thine own, O Death!
"Day is for mortal care,
Eve for glad meetings round the joyous hearth,
Night, for the dreams of sleep, the voice of prayer,
But all for thee, thou mightiest of the earth.
"Youth and the opening rose
May look like things too glorious for decay,
And smile at thee--but thou art not of those
That wait the ripened bloom to seize their prey.
"We know when moons shall wane,
When summer birds from far shall cross the sea,
When autumn's hue shall tinge the golden grain,
But who shall teach us when to look for thee?
"Is it when spring's first gale
Comes forth to whisper where the violets lie?
Is it when roses in our path grow pale?
They have one season--all are ours to die!
"Thou art where billows foam,
Thou art where music melts upon the air;
Thou art around us in our peaceful home,
And the world calls us forth--and thou art there."
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Conviction of Sin - Funeral at Sea - Covenant with God - A Dream - Arrival at Pernambuco - Landing a North American Lady - Wine at a Dinner Party - Sell my Cargo - Another Voyage - Religious Views - Whaling - Brazilian Flour - Arrive at St. Catherine's - Also Paraiba - Sell my Cargo - Third Voyage - Confidence Rewarded.
THE lines mentioned in the last chapter did arrest my attention. I read them again and again. My interest for reading novels and romances ceased from that hour. Among the many books, I selected "Doddridge's Rise and Progress of Religion in the Soul." This and the Bible now interested me more than all other books.
Christopher Christopherson, of Norway, one of my crew, was taken down sick soon after our departure from Cape Henry. Nothing in our medicine chest availed to relieve him. His case appeared more and more doubtful. The first verse of "The Hour of Death," particularly the fourth line, was almost continually in my mind:--
"Thou hast all seasons for thine own, O Death!"
I longed to be a Christian; but the pride of my heart and the vain allurements of the wicked world still held me with a mighty grasp. I suffered intensely in my mind before I decided to pray. It seemed as though I had delayed this work too long. I was also afraid that my officers and men would learn that I was under conviction. Furthermore, I had no secret place to pray. When I looked back on some of the incidents in my past life, how God had interposed his arm to save me, when death was staring me in the face again and again, and how soon I had forgotten all his mercies, I felt that I must yield. Finally I decided to try the strength of prayer, and confess all my sins. I opened the "run scuttle" under the dining table, where I prepared a place so that I might be out of the sight of my officers, if they should have occasion to enter the cabin during my prayer season. The first time I bowed the knee here in prayer, it seemed to me that the hair on my head was standing out straight, for presuming to open my mouth in prayer to the great and holy God. But I determined to persevere until I found pardon and peace for my troubled mind. I had no Christian friend at hand to tell me how, or how long, I must be convicted before conversion. But I remembered when I was a lad, during the great reformation of 1807, in New Bedford and Fairhaven, of hearing the converts, when relating their experience, say that they had been sorrowing for sin two and three weeks, when the Lord spoke peace to their minds. It seemed to me that my case would be something similar.
A fortnight passed, and no light beamed on my mind. One week more, and still my mind was like the troubled sea. About this time I was walking the deck in the night, and was strongly tempted to jump overboard and put an end to myself. I thought this was a temptation of the devil, and immediately left the deck, and did not allow myself to go out of my cabin again until the morning.
Christopher was very sick, and failing. It occurred to me that if he should die, I should be doubly earnest about my salvation. I now removed him into the cabin, and placed him in a berth next my own, where I could give him more attention, and charged the officers as they waited upon him during their night watch to call me if they saw any change in him. I awoke in the morning soon after daylight. My first thought was, How is Christopher? I reached over his berth and placed my hand on his forehead; it felt cold. He was dead. I called the officer of the morning watch, "Why, Mr. Haffards!" said I, "Christopher is dead! Why did you fail to call me?" Said Mr. H., "I was down to him about half an hour ago, and gave him his medicine, and saw no alteration then." Poor C. was now laid out on the quarter-deck, and finally sewed up in a hammock with a heavy bag of sand at his feet. After we had settled on the time to bury him, I was most seriously troubled in relation to my duty. I felt that I was a sinner in the sight of God, and dare not attempt to pray in public. And yet I could not consent to plunge the poor fellow into the ocean without some religious ceremony over him. While I was resolving in my mind what I should do, the steward asked me if I would not like to have a Church of England Prayer Book. "Yes," said I, "have you got one?" "Yes, sir." "Bring it to me, will you?"
It was just the book I wanted, for when I was in the British service I had heard the ship's clerk read prayers out of such a book when our sailors were buried. But this was the first burial at sea that occurred under my command.
I opened the book and found a suitable prayer for the occasion. A plank was prepared, with one end over the side of the vessel, on which his body was laid, with his feet toward the sea, so that by raising the other end of the plank, the body would slide into the ocean feet foremost. All but the helmsman stood around poor Christopher, to take their final leave of him, and commit his body to the deep as soon as the order should be given. The idea of attempting to perform religious service over the dead while in an unconverted state troubled me much. I had requested the chief mate to call me when he had made the preparation, and retired below. When the officer reported all ready, I came up trembling, with the book open in my hand. The crew respectfully uncovered their heads. As I began to read, my voice faltered, and I was so unmanned I found it difficult to read distinctly. I felt, indeed, that I was a sinner before God. When I finished the last sentence, I waved my hand to tip the plank, and turned for the cabin. As I passed down the gangway, I heard poor Christopher plunge into the sea. I passed down into my praying place and vented my feelings in prayer for the forgiveness of all my sins, and those of the poor fellow who was sinking lower and lower beneath the rolling waves.
This was the 30th of September, twenty-six days from the capes of Virginia. From thence I felt a sinking into the will of God, resolving henceforward to renounce the unfruitful works of the enemy, and seek carefully for eternal life. I believe now that all my sins were forgiven about that time. Then I also made the following covenant with God, which I found in "Doddridge's Rise and Progress of Religion in the Soul":--
"A SOLEMN COVENANT WITH GOD.
"Eternal and ever-blessed God: I desire to present myself before thee with the deepest humiliation and abasement of soul. Sensible how unworthy such a sinful worm is to appear before the Holy Majesty of Heaven, the King of kings and Lord of lords, . . . I come therefore acknowledging myself to have been a great offender. Smiting on my breast and saying with the humble publican, 'God be merciful to me a sinner,' . . . this day do I with the utmost solemnity surrender myself to thee. I renounce all former lords that have had dominion over me, and I consecrate to thee all that I am, and all that I have. . . . Use me, O Lord, I beseech thee, as an instrument of thy service; number me among thy peculiar people. Let me be washed in the blood of thy dear Son, to whom, with thee, O Father, be everlasting praises ascribed by all the millions who are thus saved by thee. Amen."
Done on board the brig Empress, of New Bedford, at sea, Oct. 4, 1824, in latitude 90° 50' north, and longitude 34° 50' west, bound to Brazil.
JOS. BATES, Jr.
I wish that I could always have the resignation to the will of God that I felt the morning that I signed this covenant. Yet I could not believe then, nor for many months after this, that I had any other feelings than a deep conviction of sin. I am satisfied that I have not always regarded this covenant in the solemn light in which I now understand it. But I am very glad I made it, and that God has still spared my life to allow me yet to do all that I therein covenanted to do.
After signing the afore-mentioned covenant, I had a remarkable dream respecting some communications from the post-office. One appeared to be a written roll of paper, the other a long letter commencing with spaces as follows:--
EXAMINE! EXAMINE! EXAMINE!
Then followed a long letter commencing with religious instruction, closely written, of which I read a few lines, when I awoke. I then wrote it on paper and filed it with other papers, but it is now missing. There was much more which I have forgotten, but I believe the dream, thus peculiarly set forth on paper, was to convince me that my sins were forgiven. But I failed to see it then, because I had conceived that God would manifest himself in such a manner that I should never doubt my conversion afterward. I had not then learned the simplicity of God's gracious work on the sinner's heart.
EXPERIENCE! EXPERIENCE! EXPERIENCE!
YOURSELF! YOURSELF! YOURSELF!
It would have been a great relief to me if I could have been released from the heavy responsibilities of my trading voyage, considering how my mind was then exercised. But our voyage continued, and we arrived at Pernambuco, Oct. 30. There we found the state of commerce was very far from prosperous in relation to our voyage. But we were now in the best market for selling; we therefore disposed of our cargo. I was much disappointed also in not finding one professor of religion to converse with among the many thousands of people here, but I was fully resolved to persevere for a full and free salvation.
Pernambuco, in Brazil, is situated on the border of the sea. On approaching it from the ocean, it has a commanding and beautiful appearance. But the shipping have to anchor in the open sea some distance from the land, and on account of the heavy surf on the shore it is difficult getting safe to land.
Capt. Barret, from Nantucket, Mass., arrived at this port soon after us. Concluding to sell here also, he sent his boat off to bring his wife on shore. As the boat with Mrs. B. was drawing in with the shore, quite a number of us assembled near the landing-place with Capt. B. to receive her. A number of black slaves were also waiting, whose business it was to wade out to the boats and shoulder freight and passengers, and, if possible, bear them safely through the breakers to the landing. The fare through the breakers for a passenger, without stumbling, was "one rial," or twelve and a half cents. It was soon decided who should have the honor of bringing the American lady through the breakers. Capt. B. requested his wife to seat herself upon the shoulder of the black man that was now in waiting for her. This was a mode of traveling that Mrs. B. was entirely unacquainted with; besides, it was with her very doubtful whether the man could pass the breakers without being overwhelmed in the surf. Therefore she hesitated, and was silent. Capt. B. and his friends urged, declaring there was no other mode of conveyance. Finally she seated herself upon his shoulder and grasped him by the head with both hands, when he steadily and manfully bore her in safety to the arms of her husband in our midst, while his comrades raised a joyous shout in commendation of the sturdy and manful manner in which he had performed the act of landing the North American lady.
Here, also, as in other places, I was assailed by my associates for refusing to drink wine or intoxicating drinks with them, especially wine at the dinner table, which was very common in South America. I will here give one instance: A large company of us were dining with the American consul, Mr. Bennet. His lady at the head of the table filled her glass, and said, "Capt. Bates, shall I have the pleasure of a glass of wine with you?" I responded, and filled my glass with water. Mrs. B. declined, unless I would fill my glass with wine. She was aware from our previous acquaintance that I did not drink wine, but she felt disposed to induce me to disregard my former resolutions. As our waiting position attracted the attention of the company, one of them said, "Why, Mr. Bates, do you refuse to drink Mrs. Bennet's health in a glass of wine?" I replied that I did not drink wine on any occasion, and begged Mrs. B. to accept my offer. She readily condescended, and drank my health in the glass of wine, and I hers in a glass of water. The topic of conversation now turned on wine-drinking, and my course in relation to it. Some concluded that a glass of wine would not injure any one. True, but the person who drank one glass would be likely to drink another, and another, until there was no hope of reform. Said one, "I wish I could do as Capt. Bates does; I should be much better off." Another supposed that I was a reformed drunkard. Surely there was no harm in drinking moderately. I endeavored to convince them that the better way to do up the business was not to use it at all. On another occasion a captain said to me, "You are like old Mr.--, of Nantucket; he wouldn't drink sweetened water!"
After a stay of six weeks, having disposed of the greater part of our cargo in Pernambuco, we sailed on another voyage to St. Catherine's, in lat. 27° 30' south. Care, and a press of business, I perceived had in some measure deprived me of the spiritual enjoyment I possessed on my arrival at Pernambuco. I had more leisure just now to search the Scriptures, and read other books on the subject of religion. I here commenced a diary of my views and feelings, which was a great help to me. This I forwarded to my wife as often as I wrote to her. These sheets were bound up in a roll and laid by, and have not been read for about thirty-five years. I have supposed that this was one of the rolls of paper which I saw in the peculiar dream I had relative to my experience on my outward passage. I thought what a great privilege it would be to have just one professed Christian to compare my views and feelings with on this all-absorbing theme, or to be in a prayer-meeting for an hour or so that I might vent the feelings that were pent up within me.
We arrived at St. Catherine's about the 1st of January, 1825, where we purchased a cargo of provisions for the northern coast of Brazil. This island is separated from the main land by a narrow ship channel. St. Catherine's is the only commercial seaport for hundreds of miles on the coast. Its northern promontory is a high mountain, where watchmen, with their flag-staff planted, were watching for whales in the offing. When the signal was given that whales were in sight, the boats from the fishery, some ten or twelve miles distant, would row out for them, and if they were fortunate enough to harpoon and kill any, they would tow them to their try works, and manufacture them into oil. Fifty years ago this business was very flourishing there, but the whales visit them so seldom since that time that their business has about ceased.
When I left Pernambuco, the province was in a state of revolution, and much in want of "farina." It was expected that the Brazilian government would allow foreign vessels to trade in this article on their coast, if the demand continued to increase as it had done for a few months past. In anticipation of this, I proceeded to St. Catherine's and loaded for Pernambuco.
As many of my readers may be unacquainted with this article of food, I would state that it is first cultivated very much like the Carolina sweet potato, and resembles it, only being much longer. It matures in from nine to eighteen months, if not destroyed by frost, and is called "mandi-oker." The people manufacture it into flour in their sheds or shanties as follows: A cow harnessed at the end of a shaft, traveling in a circle, moved a wheel banded with copper, having holes pierced through it like a grater. A man with his tub of scraped mandi-oker pressed it end foremost against the whirling grater, which ground it to pomace, piece after piece. This pomace was then placed in a machine like a cheese-press, and all the juice pressed out. Then the pomace was thrown into large, shallow iron pans over a heated furnace, where in about twenty minutes, two or three bushels were dried. When taken out this was put up for the market, and, I was told, would keep three years. This they call "farina," or Brazilian flour. The general way of preparing it for the table was merely to scald it with hot soup in plates, and pass it round for bread. The poorer classes and slaves gather it up with the ends of their fingers, and throw it into their mouths by the half-ounce, and wash it down with water. At this time much of it is imported into the United States and retailed at the stores.
On my arrival at Pernambuco, farina was in good demand, but the government would not allow me to enter because it was unlawful for foreign vessels to trade coast-wise. In a few days a message came overland from a president of one of the northern provinces, inviting me to come to the port of Paraiba and dispose of my cargo. Here I sold my whole cargo at an advanced price, the government purchasing a large share of it for their troops. As the drought continued, and my vessel was a fast sailer, the president granted me permission to import another cargo forthwith, and gave me a letter of introduction to the president of St. Catherine's to help me onward. On my arrival at St. Catherine's, the merchants, learning about the demand for breadstuffs in the north, endeavored to prevent me from buying until they were ready to dispatch vessels of their own. After a few weeks' detention in this way, I employed an interpreter and proceeded in our boat some distance up the coast. Leaving our boat to return and come for us the next day, we went up into the mountains to purchase farina from the farmers. On some farms we found it by the room-full, bedroom or sitting-room, just as they had places to stow it from the rain, for use and for sale. Some of their rooms were packed full and crowded with this article.
The merchants in St. Catherine's, hearing of our success in purchasing produce of the farmers, and towing it to our vessels in boats, tried hard to prejudice them against us. But our silver "patacks" of forty, eighty, and one hundred-and-twenty-cent pieces, with which we paid them for their farina at the highest market price, were far superior to their barter traffic and proffered advice. The first night I spent on the mountain was a trying, sleepless one. I had two heavy bags of silver, and night had overtaken us at a house where we had made a purchase, to be delivered in the morning. I said to the man, through my interpreter, "Here are two bags of silver we have with us to buy farina; I want you to keep them safe for us until the morning." "Oh, yes!" he replied, and stowed them away in a case.
At bedtime I was shown into a little, dark room by myself. I raised no objections, knowing that I should fare no better, after the confidence I had reposed in him in placing my money in his hands. After praying, I lay down, not to sleep, but to think of my unsafe position, and listen to the conversation of the stranger and my interpreter, which continued until a late hour, but a few words of which I could understand. My information respecting the treacherous character of this people proved to be without foundation, respecting this stranger at least, for when the morning came and we were prepared to pay him for his farina, he manifested strong feelings of gratitude for the confidence we had placed in him. This opened our way to trade with his neighbors.
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Soul-refreshing Seasons in the Forest - Effigy of Judas Iscariot - Sail from St. Catherine's - Arrival at Paraiba - Fourth Voyage - Arrival at the Bay of Spirits - Dangerous Position - Rio St. Francisco - Rio Grande - Banks of Sand - A City in Ruins - Jerked Beef - Rio Grande to Paraiba - Kattamaran - Catholic Procession and Burial - Sail for New York - Arrival at Home - Family Prayer - Experience.
IN my intercourse with this people, who were all Catholics, I found no one to converse with on the subject of religion. I often thought what a privilege it would be to meet with one Christian, and how delighted I should be to spend an hour in an assembly of praying Christians, or hear another's voice in prayer besides my own. I felt such a strong desire for some place of retirement to free my soul and give utterance to my pent-up feelings, that it seemed to me if I could get into the dense forest I should, in a measure, be relieved. A way soon opened before me. With my Bible for my companion, I passed out of the city and followed the seashore, until I found an opening into the thick forest, into which I entered. Here I enjoyed freedom in prayer beyond anything I had ever experienced before. It was indeed a heavenly place in Christ Jesus. When my business would permit, I used to spend the afternoon away somewhere in these forests; and sometimes, for fear of reptiles, I used to ascend a large tree, and fix myself securely in the branches, where I enjoyed most precious seasons in reading the Scriptures, singing, praying, and praising the Lord. His precious truth seemed the joy of my soul, and yet, strange as it may seem, I did not then believe my sins were forgiven; but I rejoiced that I was still under conviction. When the time came that I could go again, I felt that I had made much dependence on being there, and I do not remember of ever returning without a special blessing. Oh! how dark it would seem, on returning back among the hum and crowd of the people, after such precious seasons.
The Catholics in Brazil observe their numerous feasts, and what they call "holy days." While lying in the harbor of St. Catherine's, at one of their annual holy days, it was our privilege to witness their indignation against their mortal enemy, Judas Iscariot, for betraying his Master. Early in the morning the Catholic vessels "cock-billed their yards," pointing them end upward to the heavens, and at a given signal at noon, their yards were all squared again, and at the outer end of the yard-arm of the commodore (for the day), Judas, the traitor, was hung in effigy. After waiting a suitable time for him to die, they let him fall from the yard-arm into the sea. Then they beat him awhile with clubs, and having swung him up to the yard-arm again by the neck, once more dropped him into the sea. Thus they continued, hanging, drowning, and beating the traitor, until their indignant feelings were gratified. He was then towed on shore by the neck, not to be buried, but given into the hands of boys, who dragged him about the public square and streets, beating him with their clubs and stones until he was all used up.
We here cleared and sailed with another cargo, and on our arrival in Paraiba we learned that the famine still prevailed. The authorities, learning that we were handing out some of our provisions to feed the starving poor, opened their prison-doors to allow their prisoners to come also and beg from us. Being unauthorized by my owners to give away their property in this way, I felt reluctant to do it; but I esteemed it a privilege on my own account, for awhile, to feed these poor, starving, and almost naked, creatures, who lingered about our landing-place as though it was their only hope from starvation. I did not count them, but I think there were sometimes more than fifty receiving farina at a time. The way they ate it out of their calabashes, as they received it from our boat's crew, was evidence of their starving state.
A poor man from the interior came with a miserable, worn-out-looking horse, to buy a few bushels of farina for his family. He said he had come seventy leagues, or more than two hundred miles. He represented the people and their cattle as dying by starvation as he came along. I think he said there had been no rain for more than two years. By the time we had disposed of our cargo, the president granted me liberty to import another, and gave me a letter of introduction, with a pressing request to the president of the province to allow us to purchase a cargo of provisions for Paraiba. About this time Capts. J. & G. Broughton, of Marblehead, Mass., arrived in Paraiba. These were the first professed Christians that I had known since leaving the United States. With Capt. G. Broughton I enjoyed sweet intercourse during the few days of our acquaintance. It was truly a refreshing season. From the time I made a covenant with God, I had been in the habit of spending all my time before breakfast in prayer, reading the Bible, and meditation. This I have since learned to be the best way to commence the day.
August, 1825, we sailed from Paraiba on our fourth voyage. We cleared for Espiritu Santo, or "Bay of Spirits," in lat. 20° south. On our arrival there we encountered some difficulty in finding our way to the anchoring place without a pilot. I did not learn the reason why this place was called the Bay of Spirits, but I think it was the most romantic, wild-looking place I had ever seen. The wind came whistling through the crevices and dark-looking places in the ragged mountains in such sudden gusts that I was fearful our anchor would break its hold before our sails could be furled. Afterward, in passing several miles in our boat to the town and residence of the president, the same wild scenery presented itself. We presented our letter of introduction and special request to the president, but he declined granting our request to purchase a cargo, saying it was "contrary to law." I was told that he was shipping farina, and was very glad to learn that Paraiba was the best market.
We sailed from thence south for Rio St. Francisco. As we were running parallel with the land, at sunset, we could but just discern the land from the mast-head. We then shaped our course so as to be gaining an offing during the night. About 8 P. M. we observed the water had become very white; at this time we were rushing onward rapidly under a heavy press of sail. We cast our deep sea lead from the bow, and to our astonishment, we had but five fathoms of water, or thirty feet. We immediately hauled on a wind and steered square off the land, with all the sail the brig could bear, for about three hours, before we found deep water. During this time we were held in most fearful suspense, fearing our vessel would strike the bottom and dash in pieces when she settled down between the short, rushing seas. From our calculations in the morning, we found that we were twenty miles from the land, in lat. 21° 30' south, when we first discovered white water at 8 P. M. Our book of directions and chart were both silent respecting this dangerous place. We felt very thankful to the Lord for delivering us from this unlooked-for and dangerous position.
At Rio St. Francisco there were so many vessels loading we were unable to complete our cargo, but proceeded from thence to Rio Grande, some five hundred miles further south. Here, instead of lofty, ragged mountains, were nothing but low sand-hills, drifted about by every strong wind, like those on the coast of Barbary, or the snow-drifts in North America. The sea also drives it about under water in every direction. I was pointed to the light-house standing on a dry sand bank, and was told that that prominence now was where the ship channel formerly was. Instead of pilots going on board of vessels bound in, as I had always known, we saw a large open boat approaching, with pilots and men in her, one man bearing a flag-staff, and others with long sounding poles, requiring us to keep a suitable distance behind them. As they pulled on, feeling for the deepest water, the waving of the flag-staff to steer to the right and left, or to stop, was to be immediately obeyed, until they reached the light-house, where the pilots step on board the ship and direct her to her anchoring place.
The city of Rio Grande lies several miles up the river from the light-house. A few years previous to my being there, a violent gale drifted the sand into their city and literally filled their houses with it, some to the first, and others to the second-story windows, so that the inhabitants had to flee, and build again, some more than a mile distant, where they were then living. It was useless to shovel the sand out of their houses, unless they could remove it off some distance, the expense of which would more than build them new houses; thus the old ones were left desolate. The sand was so fine that it found its way into their houses with all their doors and windows shut. This I witnessed more than once while I was there.
Subsequently, I remember reading an account given by an English traveler, who, on reaching the tongue or shore of the Egyptian sea, penciled in his note-book how easy it would be for God to fulfill the prophecy of Isa. 11:15. I suppose he saw very clearly that a mighty wind toward the sea would soon drift the sand banks across it, something similar to the manner of drifting sand as above described in Rio Grande.
We made up our cargo at the city of Rio Grande with hides and jerked beef. After skinning their cattle, the people strip the flesh from the bones in two pieces, and pickle them in vats some as tanners do their hides. After the salt brine saturates them, they hang them out and dry them on poles, and then roll them up in bundles for the market. In the same manner also they cure their pork, because meat will not keep if salted in barrels in their climate. Back from the sea-shore, beyond the sand hills, the country formerly abounded with cattle.
After a passage of thirty days from Rio Grande, we arrived at Paraiba. Here, as usual, we took our pilot from a "kattamaran," a kind of craft used in these parts, instead of boats. It simply consists of from four to eight twenty-feet logs lashed together, with a mast on which to hoist the sail. Sometimes we have seen these boats on the ocean almost out of sight of land. At a short distance their appearance is like that of a man sitting on the water beside an upright pole. These logs are of very porous, light wood, and soon fill with water and sink till the upper side is level with the surface. When they return to the shore they are hauled up to drain and dry, before they are used again.
One of our seamen whom we left here with the small-pox, died soon after we sailed from Paraiba. I left him in care of the British consul, who also kindly assisted me in the transaction of my business with the custom-house. His chief clerk, a Brazilian, lost a little child about two years of age, which was to be buried the evening after I arrived. The consul was among the chief mourners in the procession. He invited me to walk next to him. As I had never witnessed a ceremony of this kind, I readily accepted his invitation. I now had the privilege of learning from him many things relative to the procession, etc., which I desired to know.
At about 8 o'clock P. M., two lines of people were formed to march each side of the street. Wax candles, about three inches in circumference and four feet long, were now lighted, and given into the hands of each man in the procession. The corpse, which was richly dressed, and adorned with fresh flowers, was placed in a little basket with four handles, four little boys carrying it. It looked like a sweet little child asleep. The procession, with the priest ahead of the child in the middle of the street, and two long lines of men with lighted candles on each side, was rather an imposing sight in the dark night. The walk was about one mile and a half, to an ancient-looking stone church in the upper town. As we passed into the church I saw one of the flagging stones of the floor raised up, and a small pile of bones and dirt beside it. The consul told me the little child was to be put in there. The child was set down by the altar. The priest occupied but a few moments in speaking, then took up a long-handled cup or ball, perforated with holes like a grater, through which, as he uttered a few words, he sprinkled the child with what they call holy water, some of which, whether by accident or otherwise, feel on us who stood at the head of the procession. After this part of the ceremony, all but the child returned in order with the procession. Mr. Harden, the consul, on returning, told me how the child would be disposed of. Two black slaves would strip it of all its clothing, cover it with quick-lime to eat off its flesh, then pound it down in that hole with the other bones and dust, until the stone would lie in its place again. They would have its clothing for their labor. Thus, in this dilapidated charnel-house, and place for divine worship, they disposed of their dead. I was told that Paraiba was one of the oldest towns in South America, being of nearly three hundred years' standing.
After disposing of our cargo here, we invested our funds in hides and skins, and sailed for New York. After a pleasant and prosperous passage of some thirty days, with the exception of cold, freezing storms on our coast, we arrived at the quarantine ground several miles below the city of New York about the last of March, 1826. As we had no sickness on board, I was allowed the privilege on Sunday of taking my crew with me to hear service at the Dutch Reformed church. This was the first religious assembly I had met with since I covenanted to serve God, and I enjoyed it much. It seemed good to be there. In a few days we were relieved from quarantine, and I was made glad in meeting my companion and sister in New York. My brother F. took my place on board the Empress for another South American voyage, and I left for Fairhaven, to enjoy for a season the society of my family and friends, after an absence of some twenty months.
One of my old acquaintances came in to bid me welcome home again, and very kindly inquired how long it was since I entertained a hope, or was converted. I replied that I never had been converted. She was a good Christian, and seemed very much disappointed at my reply. My wife had before this endeavored to encourage me to believe that God for Christ's sake had forgiven me. I begged her not to deceive me in such an important matter as this. She said that she did not wish to do so, but was satisfied from my letters and diary during my absence that if she was ever converted I was. I replied that it seemed to me that I should be fully convinced of my conversion before I could rejoice in it.
I had fully resolved, on my return home, that I would erect the family altar. Satan tried hard to hold me back in various ways, but I resolved to commence as soon as we had breakfast. At this point, one of my former associates, who was very much opposed to experimental religion, called in to see me. At first, I felt some misgivings, but conscience and duty prevailed. I opened the Bible and read a chapter, and knelt with my family and commended ourselves and friend to the Lord. He looked very sober and soon withdrew. After this victory I do not remember of ever experiencing any such hindrance again. If I had yielded here, I am satisfied that I should have had more to overcome if I attempted to pray in like manner again.
I now had the privilege of religious meetings and Christian friends, and also a weekly prayer-meeting at my own house. Eld. H., a Congregational minister, and particular friend of my parents, invited me to attend an interesting revival of religion then in progress in Taunton, some twenty miles distant. After I had related to him my past experience, as we were drawing near to T., I requested Eld. H. not to call on me to speak in meeting, for I had no experience in that part of the work. In the evening I attended what was called an "inquiry meeting" of the converts, and those under conviction for sin. The pastor of the Congregational Church, and Eld. H., commenced by inquiring into the state of their minds, and asking the converts to state what the Lord had done for them. As this was the first meeting of the kind in my experience, I listened with an unusual degree of interest and attention, to learn how all these persons had been converted in so short a time. The simple story of what the Lord had done for them when they felt convicted of sin, and were weighed down with a load of guilt and shame, and how they went to the Lord with all their burden and confessed their wrongs, and the various ways in which they found relief, some in secret prayer, some in the meeting, and others at home, how God spake peace to their troubled souls, also the various states of their feelings when their burdens left them, all seemed plain to me. There was such a similarity in this to my experience that I said to myself, This is the operation of the Spirit of God on the heart through Jesus Christ.
After listening awhile to these simple testimonies, it appeared to me that I understood the same language, and I began to reason, and ask myself, Is this conversion from sin? Is this really it? Then I have experienced the same. "My heart was hot within me." Oh, how I wished Eld. H. would then ask me to speak, that I might tell what the Lord had done for me.
For something like eighteen months I had been unwilling to believe that the Lord had forgiven me my sins, because I had been looking for some evidence, or manifestation of his power (I did not know how or in what manner) which would convince me beyond a doubt. My limited views of conversion, and my strong desire not to be deceived in this important matter, caused me to overlook the simple manner in which God graciously condescends to pardon the guilty, pleading sinner.
After meeting, my tongue was loosed to praise God for what he had done for me so many months before. From this time, all doubts and darkness respecting my conversion and acceptance with God passed away like the morning dew; and peace, like a river, for weeks and months occupied my heart and mind. I could now give a reason of the hope within me, and say with the apostle, "We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren." "Old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." 1 John 3:14; 2 Cor. 5:17.
Go to CHAPTER XVII.
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