In the first decade of Victoria’s reign, the British regarded India as an exotic land of limitless opportunity, full of potential for romance and adventure. Taking up a Commission as subaltern with the ‘Honourable East India Company’ was a respectable and exciting choice for upper and middle class gentlemen, who could live a little dangerously but in a manner reflecting their status in society.
So in August 1840 when Samuel Waller travelled from Cuckfield to Portsmouth and boarded the Madras-bound ‘True Briton’ as a ‘John Company’ cadet, his was a popular choice amongst sons of the ‘best and wealthiest families’(1) in England. From twenty year old Samuel’s perspective, army life was a thrilling prospect, especially when compared to the ‘dreary’ legal career he expected to follow.
He kept the journal to honour a promise made to his mother, Bridget Waller; but the task also served to pass many tedious hours on board. Waller notes the diverse pursuits followed by other passengers including: boxing, broadsword exercise, cards, draughts, chess, reading and sleeping. By immersing himself in this pursuit, Samuel generally resisted diversions of the kind to which some other male passengers typically resorted. The more dissolute were reduced to gambling, frequent excessive drinking, or slaughtering unfortunate wildlife that strayed within shooting distance. Albatrosses, Cape pigeons, sharks, dolphins etc, indeed any passing sentient wild creature was fair game for an armed and bored cadet.
Young Waller took his recording role seriously and seems to have worked at it enthusiastically; he provides his intended readers (family and close friends only, as he thought), with a careful and intriguing insight into everyday life during the four month long sea-journey. As the vessel lurched fitfully along over 13,280 kilometres (8,251 miles) from Portsmouth to Madras through uncertain weather conditions, he documented a remarkable range of emotions and novel experiences. Frustration, fear, love, disgust, delight, and boredom are all evident in this Journal; and he was often clearly awe-stricken by the spectacularly beautiful panoramic views surrounding him.
Sea travel at this time was extremely hazardous, uncomfortable and noisy, as the Journal often reminds us. A deafening clamour generated by stormy weather, a cacophony from the livestock, together with the constant creaking and groaning of the ship’s motion, regularly assaulted travellers’ ears.
Smells were of course among the most notable features of life on board; although Samuel Waller conspicuously avoids drawing any attention to it, a combination of human and animal excrement would certainly have pervaded many parts of vessel; whiff of foul water slopping around the bottom of the ship, odour of cow, sheep, pig, goat, duck, hen and human were all unrelieved by any ventilation system.
Night time brought a different hardship, as cockroaches crawled around and crept into sleepers’ open mouths or ‘nibbled their finger and toe nails’.
More favourable by the standard of the times were food and eating conditions. In an East Indiaman, proper formalities were closely observed and meal service was as good as it could be, considering the serving facilities available and the small farmyard the vessel carried. In terms of cuisine quality, Samuel Waller strongly criticises the ‘tough fowls, ‘stinking mutton’, ‘curry as tough as rope yarn,’ and ‘filthy rice’ but notes ‘The vegetables are very good….’, the plum pudding is ‘capital’ and ‘the pastry’….’ is without exception the best I have ever ate’.
Both crew and passengers on board the ‘True Briton’ appreciated the enormous part music and dance played in their lives. A fiddle signalled the time for diverse events:- getting up, mealtimes and preparing for social interaction; dancing quadrilles to the melody of a fiddle, fife and tambourine was almost a daily event for passengers; the sailors danced expertly to reels for the delight of onlookers and the professional pride among participants.
Samuel Waller found sailors’ rituals both intriguing and moving; he struggled stoically but unsuccessfully to keep items of food on his plate as the ship jerked about during stormy weather; he endured severe bouts of sea sickness which he partially relieved by immersing himself in writing a ship’s magazine, ‘The True Briton weekly Advertiser’ for his fellow passengers’ amusement; he exhorted other cadets to rehearse and perform a play, Sheridan’s ‘St Patrick’s Day or The Scheming Lieutenant’, which he both directed and acted in; he willingly shared in drunken birthday celebrations with his peers; and, as soon to become clear in letters home, he was emotionally involved with an attractive seventeen year old female passenger, ‘Miss Young’; later on shore he discovered she considered the encounter to be only a mild flirtation. At first he was shattered by the news before becoming rather bitter that he had swapped regiments in order to maintain their relationship.
Subaltern Waller died on October 2nd 1841 in Secunderabad,(2) central India where he served his final months as Ensign in the 1st Madras European Regiment, without once being called into military action. At just 21 years he contracted a bacterial infection and died of a burst abscess that had slowly developed in his liver. In keeping with tradition at the time, a couple of his bones were sent home and buried within the family plot in Cuckfield churchyard.
His short story may be one of tragic, unfulfilled promise, yet the ephemera survives. His journal, letters and handwritten magazine, sent to his mother in Cuckfield, vividly reveal a capricious, enthusiastic, life-affirming personality with a keen sense of humour and fun.
It is easy to warm to him; such youthful exuberance remains fresh and immediate even one hundred and eighty years on.
At 10 a.m. came on board the True Briton(3) with my father, my Uncles Jas: & Tom, Fred & young Cherry, my Uncle John & Mr Graves were too unwell to accompany us. After they left the Ship I watched the boat until it reached the shore, saw them land and go through the gate in the Fortification, went below and altered the arrangement of my cabin. While thus engaged, the transport ship, which was at anchor not far off, passed in full sail; the soldiers gave three cheers, which were answered by the men of our ship. At half after three the Captain and his wife came on board, and at 4 we sat down to dinner to the number of 36. Our names had been written on a slip of paper and placed opposite the chairs we are to occupy during the voyage. This is done to prevent confusion attendant upon everyone scrambling to obtain a seat beside a lady. I found myself between Miss Tompkyns on my left and a Cadet named Brooking on my right with my back to the cuddy door, which I shall find very pleasant in warmer latitudes. As soon as we sat down the anchor was weighed to the tune of Rosie O'Moore and in about two hours we were fairly under sail. After dinner walked on the poop and distinctly saw Chanctonbury Ring(4) as we got out to sea; hired a boy as my servant, Dan by name, and brother to the steward. As soon as we rounded the Isle of Wight and got into the open channel I with many others became sick. Went below and turned in as soon as possible, but owing to beating against a contrary wind and that a smart one, I didn‘t make out much. I found the motion of the cot very disagreeable but I hope soon to get used to it.
Wednesday 26th. August
Was awakened many times during the night by the Boatswain's piping "All hands to bout Ship”(5); the noise attendant upon this execrable order is perfectly dreadful. Got up when the first fiddle played and was very sick. Lay down again, then tried to dress but found it perfectly impossible to do anything but to feel miserable. Towards the middle of the day, crawled on deck and was very sick again; found many more in my plight. I hear all the Ladies are suffering with the exception of 1 or 2. Took nothing but a little brandy & a biscuit all day. Towards evening began a letter to my mother, which made me very homesick; never felt so wretched before; went to bed about 9 and passed a tolerable night.
Thursday 27th August 1840
Felt better this morning but still unwell, a foggy morning and a calm sea. Got up and wrote again to my mother. Miserable. Breakfasted in the cuddy and walked on deck. Found Mr. Morris, the Clergyman, a very good fellow. Spent part of the morning below arranging my books. Dined in the cuddy and then in the evening danced the quadrille to the melody of the fiddle and fife and a tambourine. Made no way all day. Couldn‘t see land though close in shore, perhaps this was the most miserable day of my life. Took some grog, wine and water and went to bed.
Friday 28th August
Got up at half after six and wrote again to my mother; saw lots of porpoises this morning. After dinner, the weather cleared up and the coast of Devon from Torbay to the Start Point(6) discovered itself; the coast is very bold and fertile and the scenery the most beautiful I have ever witnessed. Here the pilot the last but sad link between dear England and the outward bound hoisted a whiff (7) as a signal for a boat to take him ashore. I never felt so thoroughly wretched as now. A boat soon came alongside from one of the numerous fishing craft in the bay. A bargain was struck; I wrote a last line to my mother. The letter bag was sewn up by the sail maker, the pilot shook hands with the Captain and Chief Officers, turned round to the passengers on the poop and wishing us a safe and speedy voyage went down the side of the vessel into the boat and dropped astern. What would I have not given to have gone with him? How bitter my feelings at having left home! I wept; and many a one‘s heart just then was as full and sorrowful as mine. More music, a strong glass of grog(8) to ‘drown dull care’ and turned in.
Saturday 29th August
Nearly a calm all day. During the morning The Start and a line of coast to the East of it was very faintly discernible and towards evening England altogether disappeared, perhaps never to be seen again. Very hot all day, the awning spread over the poop and quarterdeck. Read a little during the morning; in the evening a quadrille. (9)
The allowance of fresh water is a pint and a half per diem, though I never get more than a pint. The water is very bad and filled with all kinds of filth; it imparts a particularly disagreeable taste in the tea and coffee.
Sunday 30th August Latitude 49° 00’ north Longitude 6° 38’ west.
The breeze freshened this morning and we sailed before it at the rate of 9 1/2 knots(10) all day. At four bells, ten a.m., a full dress parade of the detachment; at 5 bells, half after 10, prayers read in the cuddy, by Mr. Morris, the doctor officiating as clerk, which were attended by the passengers and Chief Officers. It is usual to have them read on the quarterdeck in fine weather for the benefit of the Ship‘s Company. Sundays and Thursdays are Champagne days, the chief feature in the dinner on Sunday is invariably roast turkey and capital plum puddings. After dinner the sea rose a good deal and the ship lurched very much. In the evening prayers and a sermon in the cuddy. When I went below, I was very sick; my boy Dan being in the same plight I had to shift him myself which didn‘t in any wise add to my comfort. From this morning we are to have hot rolls and loaves for breakfast during the voyage. I miss the butter very much, that on the table being of so rancid & liquid a nature as to prevent my even tasting it.
Monday 31st August Latitude 42° 39’ Longitude 12° 57’
Very rough all night; those who have standing bed places complained of having had no sleep. I find great benefit in having a swinging cot. Exceedingly rough & a stiff breeze all the morning; began to south a little; felt qualmish & kept on Deck; in consequence of this breeze we shall entirely avoid the Bay of Biscay. We are now between 300 and 400 miles off Lands End, west by south.
Tuesday 1st September Latitude 42° 39’ Longitude 12° 57’
Sea not quite so rough, very qualmish all morning; got better after dinner. About 12 a strange sail discovered six or seven miles ahead, presently found to be The Windsor for Calcutta. The Windsor is an exact model of the True Briton and sailed 12 hours before us from Spithead. Great jealousy exists as to which is the best sailer of the two vessels; crowded all sail and so did she. By nightfall we were within four miles of her. Great excitement prevails as to the result of this of the chase. Hitherto we have beaten hand over hand every vessel bearing our course. We are now off the coast of Spain and have quite cleared the Bay. Have given up the practice of taking grog for lunch and supper; grog is any spirit or wine diluted with water. At present I am unable to read or write or follow any useful employment. Even this Journal I write at intervals in a Memorandum Book. The fellows at our end of the table are pleased to be facetious in the matter of Miss Tompkyns and myself; this happens merely from us sitting next to each other at dinner. It affords them a fund of amusement and I bear it with good humour. I find great benefit from having a whole cabin, I am very thankful to my father for his indulgence in this respect. I have diligently applied myself for the last day or two to the utter expulsion of all thoughts about home and find myself much better therefrom.
Wednesday 2nd September Latitude 41° 7’ Longitude 30° 17’
Spent the night in delicious dreams of home. A beautiful morning but a dead calm; gained upon The Windsor considerably during the night; signalised all the morning. Read a good deal before dinner and employed myself in my Cabin for the first time. A merry country dance this evening which was broken off by the call of “Pipe All Hands on Deck” and before the ladies could get down to the quarterdeck a smart squall of wind and heavy shower of rain had overtaken us. This came on without the slightest notice and was as sudden as unpleasant. We are now off the coast of Portugal though not within sight of it. A change in the temperature is very perceptible.
Thursday 3rd September Latitude 38° 46’ Longitude 14°17’
The pillows of my cot are so hard that my ears have become painfully sore. I can’t sleep for any length of time together. A stiff breeze this morning, The Windsor astern, signalised; the vessel lurches, rolls confoundedly; plenty of fun at dinner. At 12 a.m. abreast of Lisbon.
Friday 4th September Latitude 36° 16’ Longitude 16° 33’
Running all day before a steady breeze; expect to be in sight of the Madeiras tomorrow. The Windsor far astern we have fairly beaten her; dancing this evening, the air very soft and pleasant.
Saturday 5th September Latitude 33° 29’ Longitude 17° 8’
At 1/2 after 11 a.m. Madeira(11) reported in sight & was soon distinctly visible to all the Ship‘s company.
After dinner we were within about 7 miles off the West coast which is composed of the most stupendous mountains & cliffs rising perpendicularly from the Sea, some to the height of 4,000 ft.; it was tantalising enough to be so near to the Island which boasts of the most delightful climate in the whole world, without having the power to go ashore, the more so as the inhabitants are engaged in harvesting the grapes, oranges and other fruits for which the islands are celebrated. Towards evening, land gradually faded from our view and though the site of land created many a pang yet we wisely danced away our care, went to bed as happy as usual. This day was the most delicious I have ever passed, the softness of the climate is beyond any description, the sun (not too hot, and tempered by the most delightful zephyrs), prevails in these latitudes.
Sunday 6th September Latitude 31° 28’ Longitude 18° 15’
The weather being heavy, prayers this morning in the cuddy. After service, Sergeant Young's child was christened, Miss Retalic being Godmother and the doctor and Butler being godfathers. The names were Edwin Briton. I saw for the first time a shoal of small flying fish, a turtle also floated past the ship. Prayers again this evening; a very smart breeze right aft to the tune of 10 knots an hour(12).
Monday 7th September Latitude 28° 9' Longitude 19° 25’
Annoyed by light, baffling winds all the morning; these are supposed to precede the trade winds; very hot all day. Was excessively sick about the middle of the day. I have never been entirely free from headache since I came on board. I attribute it partly to seasickness and I expect to suffer from it more or less all the voyage.
Tuesday 8th September Latitude 35° 39’ Longitude 30° 14’
We are now fairly in the trade wind; a beautiful breeze carries us along at the rate of 8 to 10 knots.(13) Exceedingly hot, so much so that I was obliged to get my white clothing out of the hold; dancing this evening.
Wednesday 9th September Latitude 22° 0’ Longitude 20° 45’
The trades have taken us from 8 to 11 all day. The heat excessive; it will perhaps be hardly believed that while sitting quite still in my cabin with only my trousers on, the perspiration trickles down in large drops.
Thursday 10th September Latitude 18° 13’ Longitude 22° 50’
Having found the heat and noise of the cuddy always increased my headache, I for the first time dined in my cabin. The flying fish(14) are becoming very numerous.
The time, just six o’clock and hardly any twilight follows; indeed at half past six it is quite dark. At present we have a splendid moon; I wish I had the power to describe the extreme loveliness of the tropical evening; how the deep blue wave, so beautifully crested with the whitest spray, glitters and sparkles in the wanton moonbeam, and that I could paint the soft and azure heaven and the quiet and the stillness of the night relieved only by the splashing of the water under the vessel’s boughs, which now increases and anon entirely dies away. To me it is more like a dream than veritable reality. The ladies do not retire until 10 o’clock tho’ a heavy dew falls much before that hour. The lights are put out precisely at 5 bells, half after ten, under the superintendence of the officer of the watch. The difference in the time of these latitudes and that of England is about 2 and a half hours.
Friday 11th September Latitude 15° 8’ Longitude 20° 40’
The breeze not quite so strong this morning. About half past two as I was reading in the Mizen Top my attention was arrested by the particularly long and loud whistle of the bosun; on looking about me a tremendous cloud seemed to be pursuing us with incredible rapidity; before all hands were on deck, the squall had overtaken us.
The ship laboured exceedingly, her lee gunwale(15) being frequently under water. We were carrying a heavy press of sail and all hands including soldiers, passengers, servants and every available person were instantly at their places and by their great exertions saved the masts which were in the greatest danger of going by the board. The shouting of the officers, the halloing of the men, the heaving and pitching of the vessel, the roaring of the wind, the torrents of rain, the dashing of the waves, the bending of the masts, and the fear depicted more or less on the countenance of all, displayed the most extraordinary, most awful as well as the most magnificent scene that can be well conceived. The Captain and his Officers behaved admirably; luckily no accident occurred, but many a narrow escape was afterwards narrated. It happened to be the soldiers washing day and the ropes forward were entirely covered with clothes, the greater part of which were washed overboard. By six o'clock the wind had lulled and order soon took possession of the ship. A few sails were again set, the moon rose in unequalled splendour and the most beautiful evening followed this untoward gale. When the squall came on we were between the Cape de Verd Islands and the coast of Africa.
Saturday 12th September Latitude 13° 39’ Longitude 20° 51’
A dead calm; the weather inclined to be squally all day; a sail discovered about 7 miles to the leeward, supposed to be The Windsor; the heat so dreadfully oppressive as to prevent one doing anything at all. Mr Morris the civilian said the heat we have experienced today will never be equalled in India, except in the monsoon.
Sunday 13th September Latitude 12° 54’ Longitude 20° 52’
Still becalmed; weather very lowering; prayers in the cuddy(17) as usual. I dined in the cuddy today not finding my head relieved by absenting myself from it. The Windsor in sight; the heat excessive.
Monday 14th September Latitude 12°15’ Longitude 20° 44’
A dead calm, the sun very fierce; The Windsor 5 miles to leeward. After dinner the Captain allowed the boats to be lowered and we rowed to within a couple of miles to The Windsor. I never enjoyed anything more half so much. The only disappointment was in not being able to reach The Windsor. Subscribed three shirts towards renovating the wardrobes of those unfortunates whose clothes were washed away during the squall. Bye the bye a pair of trousers of mine went by the board.
Tuesday 15th September Latitude 11° 49’ Longitude 20° 59’
Six o’clock a.m. “by Jove the main two gal masts have gone” shouted a voice hard to my cabin door; I immediately scrambled out of my cot. The ship gave a tremendous lurch which was loudly responded to by the crockery in the Steward’s pantry. I pulled on my trousers and rough coat and made my way as best I could towards the cuddy. The hatches were all down, the steerage nearly dark, the passengers hurrying from their cabins towards the cuddy stairs; the cries of “there goes the mizzen”, “by God
they’re all three gone” occasioned a scene of confusion more easily to be conceived than described. By the time I got on deck everything was comparatively quiet. The Captain and Chief Officers, only half dressed and drenched to the skin by the rain which fell in torrents, were standing on the poop. The wind and waves roared in an awful manner but the vessel didn‘t labour much for her fore royal mast; main and mizen top gallant masts were gone, the top sails doubled reefed and the main sail furled. The decks were strewed with broken cordage, riven sails and other gear, the broken masts were hanging and flapping in the rigging and we presented the appearance of a wreck.
The men had been ordered to the forecastle, no man was allowed to go aloft, and the elements obtained uncontrolled dominion over the ship. We had been overtaken by a squall not perhaps so furious as that of a day or two since but so sudden that, almost before the hands could be turned up, the damage I have mentioned had occurred. Only a moment before it had come on, the Officer of the Watch was observing the peculiar calmness of the sea and the unclouded state of the sky, little thinking how soon the one was to rage and the other to be overcast. As soon as the bustle and excitement had to some degree subsided, The Windsor was discovered about 2 miles astern and strange to relate had not suffered at all. In about 2 hours the fury of the gale had abated and the men were turned up to clear the wreck. The Windsor bore down upon us and when within about a couple of pistol shots offered assistance. As no boat could live at this time she shot ahead and hove to, promising to send a boat as soon as possible. This was a very fine sight. The passengers’ faces could be distinguished and I have no doubt the greatest excitement prevailed on board. The ladies, some on deck and others from the starboard ports, displayed great interest in our deplorable situation. She has been cruising about us all day and, should we not part company with her during the night, expect a boat tomorrow. By 8 o‘clock this evening spars were hoisted on the fore and main masts and we hope to get on tomorrow. At one time a man was reported to have gone over with the main to ‘gal’ yard; it proved however that he was on the yard at the time it went but somehow or other let himself down on a boon and saved himself. I can never forget the thrill of horror the report caused me. I couldn‘t have supposed that, had half a dozen men gone over, I could have experienced so acute a feeling; there was many a stouter heart than mine that was equally affected. The Ladies all through the gale behaved right gallantly. By 2 o‘clock p.m. the sea had settled down to a dead calm. Several sharks followed in the ships wake this afternoon but we were not fortunate enough to catch one. 10 o‘clock p.m. they are hauling up the mizen spar.
Wednesday 16th September Latitude 11° 13’ Longitude 21° 10’
Parted company with The Windsor during the night, extremely squally and wet all the morning but without wind; tropical rain is very different from the heaviest I have seen in England. Towards evening the wind freshened and the vessel pitched confoundedly. Though we have got our spars up,(16) we are not able to make much sail. We are getting gradually out of the confusion occasioned by yesterday's disasters.
Thursday 17th September Latitude 10° 32’ Longitude 22° 20’
A beautiful morning; a steady but a contrary wind, the vessel pitched excessively, very inclined to be sick before dinner. A good deal of squally rain this afternoon. Danced this evening; hands busy in making main mast.
Friday 18th September Latitude 9° 30’ Longitude 80° 48’
Very squally all the morning, main to gal mast to be ready by tomorrow. A few days ago Captain Smith and Reid proposed the publication of a newspaper and wished me to become the Editor. I agreed to do so according to the best of my ability, Saturday being the day of publication and The True Briton Weekly Advertizer the name of this embryo journal.
I have been the greater part of the morning in composing the leading or inauguration article and in writing out various communications which cover the space of six or seven foolscap pages. I have just tied them up with “a piece of blue ribbon”, the gift of Miss Tompkyns. If the thing succeeds it will be a source of great amusement; and as for the trouble of arranging and transcribing the miscellaneous matter which will be contributed, I shall rather like it than otherwise; my hands will be a good deal employed. The first number will be placed in the Captain‘s plate tomorrow morning at breakfast.
Saturday 19th September Latitude 8° 5’ Longitude 18° 3’
A very beautiful morning; about 12 o‘clock a squall came on and the rain fell in torrents, breeze right aft; standing on our course, all hands employed fixing the main to ‘gal’ mast. The journal has succeeded much beyond my expectation. The ladies were pleased to commend the leading article etc. etc., the Captain to propose the editor’s health and success to his paper and the editor to make a fool of himself in returning thanks; so I suppose the affair is likely to answer well.
Sunday 20th September Latitude 4° 55’ Longitude 17° 50’
A very stiff breeze; prayers in the cuddy. It is a little odd and very unfortunate that out of so much fine weather as we have had, not one Sunday should have happened to be fine enough for service on deck; towards evening squally, we expect to cross the line about Tuesday.
Monday 21st September Latitude 4° 5’ Longitude 30°32’
A heavy squall in the night, but being all snug we suffered no harm. A fine wind, but one that obliges us to go a deal out of our course. The Captain rather thinks it will turn out to be the Trade wind, though the vessel strained very much, her lee/starboard/ ports being nearly under water; we had some capital country dances on the quarter deck. Mrs Cousitt dances admirably and promotes it every evening, it being the only exercise the ladies can obtain. There are several nice girls on board: Miss Young very, very sweet girl and Miss McDonald perhaps more pretty than witty.
Tuesday 22nd September Latitude 3° 9’ Longitude 70° 20’
The breeze proves to be really the South East Trade which will take us nearly to the coast of Brazil in about a fortnight. My cabin being on the leeside, the position of the vessel will be very bad for me as we shall be close hauled all this wind. After dinner fell in with the John Knox, a small vessel homeward bound from the Cape. She passed close on our stern; we hailed each other and she promised to report us. We were both carrying too much sail to heave too to send letters.
Wednesday 23rd September Latitude 1° 27’ Longitude 19° 20’
Fell in with a British Man of War early this morning; in answer to our ensign, she hoisted a white whiff to signify that someone of distinction was on board. A good deal employed in making arrangements for the paper. In the evening a shout from the forecastle proclaimed ‘boat ahead’. “Get a rope ready for the boat” answered the Officer of the Watch. “Aye, aye sir”. The sea was running very high and the wind fresh, but the ladies went instantly on the poop, this being the beginning of the ceremony of Crossing the Line. “Ship Ahoy! What ship’s that?” sung out Neptune. “True Briton” shouted the Officer. “Ah! how is Captain Cousitt? I hope he is quite well.” “All well”. “Have you seen anything of The Windsor?” “Yes, left her far behind”. “I‘ll send my Ambassador. Have you any of my children (meaning anyone who had never passed) on board?” “Yes plenty” “Ha Ha Ha”. This happened between a sailor on the forecastle and the Officer of the Watch on the poop. They used trumpets and the effect was very startling. As soon as his Excellency, who was grotesquely dressed in rope yarn etc came on board; he appeared on the poop, the Captain being ready to receive him after a great deal of ceremony he informed the Captain that next morning “his Majesty” would come on board in all state & that all persons were to hold themselves in readiness to be presented. He then took leave in due form, and in a short time Neptune & his crew dropped astern in his flaming boat (a tar barrel on fire) which was soon out, the sea being too rough to allow it to live.
Thursday 24th September Latitude 0° 51’ South Longitude 20° 25’
A very beautiful morning; crossed the line about 3 o’clock this morning; all hands ready for Neptune; at 10 a.m. “Ship ahead”, and after a great deal of shouting from the Officers of the Watch and a great deal of bustle forward, “Rule Britannia” struck up.
A tarpaulin was hauled from across the main deck and Neptune, Amphitrite and their blooming, little girl (my boy Dan), seated under a canopy formed by stanchions covered with a flag and placed on a gun carriage, were drawn along the quarter deck surrounded by numerous attendants in proper costume to the cuddy awning where all the passengers, Ships Officers, etc. were assembled.(18) The music ceased and Neptune, his Royal spouse (a rawboned high cheeked disagreeable looking sailor decorated with a ladies dressing gown and an exceedingly elegant blue silk bonnet, the gift of Miss Young and rejoicing in a very black eye, a gift of His Majesty), and their child alighted from their car. Neptune, as fine and handsome a man as eyes ever beheld and whose grotesque dress of rope yarn in no wise detracted from his manly beauty, bowed to the Captain who immediately stepped forward and shook hands with him. A variety of questions followed and were answered by the Captain. A good deal of mirth was created in consequence of Mrs. Neptune’s black eye, into the circumstances attending which her spouse was pleased to dwell at great length. A glass of grog was here served to the royal suite and the business then commenced. The Secretary stepped forward and out of his book read the names of every soul on board; everyone answered and was duly interrogated as to this being the first time of crossing etc, the answer to which were duly written down. The doctor was then introduced and answered numerous enquiries as to Her Majesty's state of health and how soon the accouchement might be expected etc. etc., which were put by the Captain after the Chief officers of state such as Ambassador Chief Constable etc. etc. had been duly introduced and Questions as to matters relating to the peculiar officers had been put. A jig and Reels were beautifully danced, in a manner by the by which none but sailors can dance. The procession again formed and marched forward amid the cheers of the whole ship’s company. No shaving was allowed; I was fool enough to be almost affected to tears during this, what is generally termed absurd, mumming but which I call interesting ceremony. I had read of it scores of times and in the witnessing of it I confess I was much moved. I couldn‘t but observe that even in this all-levelling exhibition, the sailors would not allow the soldiers to participate in the slightest degree. I heard a main top man say in answer to a question whether they didn‘t intend to have great fun in shaving the lobsters. “Don‘t you know that sailors and soldiers never have anything to do with one another. If the jollies likes to shave each other all well and good but the sailors won’t touch you,” nor did they. Employed all day in my editorial capacity.
Friday 25th September Latitude 3° 35’ Longitude 21° 40’
Fagging all day at the newspaper; was duly visited by the Chief Constable to whom I paid the shaving money £1; dancing as usual.
Saturday 26th September Latitude 6° 23’ Longitude 22° 40’
This being Kerr‘s birthday, he celebrated the event by inviting a few good fellows to a ‘soiree’. My cabin and the next, the bulkheads being removed, was the scene of action. Champagne and arack-punch(19) was the order of the day. I sat next to the officer of the Middle Watch who dared not get drunk and dare leave no heeltaps. From charitable motives only, I helped him off with his grog and consequently had no very distinct recollection of the latter part of the evening, particularly as we both happened to have tumblers instead of wine glasses.
Sunday 27th September Latitude 9° 3’ Longitude 23° 46’
Got up at 4 o’clock this morning to give Inglefield my bed, he having lost his in the confusion of last night. Even at this hour the eastern horizon was magnificently illumined though the sun does not rise till 6 o’clock. An English sunrise is the mere lighting of a rush light compared to that of these latitudes. It is almost worth the voyage here to witness it. Prayers on the quarterdeck to all ships company; it was very imposing, the capstan covered with a flag serving as desk. The weather is delightful and by no means so hot as a fortnight since, the breeze screening us from the heat of the vertical sun.
Monday 28th September Latitude 11° 58’ Longitude 22° 0’
I had made an arrangement to keep the middle watch last night; when they called me, they found me so ill that they called the officer of the watch down. I had been suffering from spasms for some hours and was unable to move or speak; however I took some raw arack which did momentary good and went on deck.
But I soon became so ill that the officer became alarmed and called the doctor, who put me to bed and gave me some croton oil which soon relieved me. In bed all the morning; breeze died away a good deal about the middle of the day. The Captain never recollects so favourable a south east trade, our average rate has been 8 knots(20) which, considering how close hauled we are to the wind, is very rapid. Got up mizen to ‘gal’ mast this morning. We look as well as ever again.
Tuesday 29th September Latitude 14° 27’ Longitude 28° 15’
A very beautiful day; employed all day in my editorial capacity. Dancing this evening.
Wednesday 30th September Latitude 16° 19’ Longitude 22° 54’
Nearly a calm all day; a very unusual thing in the heart of this trade; we are now about 900 miles due east of St. Helena.(21)
Thursday 1st October Latitude 17° 13’ Longitude 22° 10’
Quite a calm this morning; boatswain harpooned a shark; 15 feet, an enormous beast, but we didn't succeed in getting him on deck. Editorial labours employed me all day.
Friday 2nd October Latitude 18° 13’ Longitude 21° 10’
Still becalmed. Captain does not know what to think of it. Towards evening sky became very lowering, rough weather expected. The Advertiser is 17 pages this week.
Saturday 3rd October
A very, very stiff breeze which is supposed to be our lost friend, the Trade. We are going at a great rate but upwards of 6 points out of our course. A sail cruising to windward all morning hoisted a Dutch Ensign. Just before dinner, another vessel reported astern; didn’t come near us. Breeze freshened much towards evening, reefed top sails etc. Paper gave great satisfaction.
Sunday 4th October Latitude 20° 55’ Longitude 22° 12’
Vessel pitched awfully all night and it was so cold that I was obliged to use both sheet and counterpane, which had for a long time been discarded. Prayers in the cuddy. Most of the ladies sick; those on the lee-side of the stanchions at dinner obliged to lash themselves to them; taken to a coat and waistcoat again. Ship pitches tremendously tonight.
Monday 5th October Latitude 22° 52’ Longitude 23° 10’
Breeze still very stiff. Everybody almost is sick. I am not, which I attribute to the fact of my mind being always employed in arranging and writing for the paper. A ship on our larboard bow all day. Danced this evening very merrily, in spite of the lurching and pitching. Had a sea pie for dinner, a dish not to be had but in rough weather and a deuced good thing it is. I intend to give a “soiree”(22) on Wednesday night. Wednesday is my birthday and it is necessary to have some excuse for doing so.
Tuesday 6th October Latitude 24° 55’ Longitude 23° 20’
Wind very variable, weather still cold. Capital dance this evening.
Wednesday 7th October Latitude 26° 51’ Longitude 23° 24’
Wind changeable. Expect to lose the trade every hour. I have thought a good deal of home all day and couldn‘t help fancying my mother’s tears when she drunk my health. I fancied; but there is no use in making oneself low spirited. My cabin and the adjoining were again thrown open; a long table was rigged by the carpenter, a number of lamps hung down the centre of it and with the assistance of numerous flags tastefully arranged, a really good effect was given. The ladies came down to view the preparations. About 28 fellows were invited. The arack punch was excellent and everything went off admirably. The Captain even promised me to come but was prevented. I had the honour of putting several fellows under the mahogany.(23) I kept quite sober myself. We seem to have quite lost the trade.
Thursday 8th October Latitude 27° 38' Longitude 23° 28’
Uncertain wind all day. In my office all the morning. After dinner, supported by Captain Smith I got about 14 fellows to agree to act a play. I have been stirring them up on this subject for some time, and I think now I am in a fair way of carrying out my idea, a thing above all others to be devoutly wished for as it opens a very fertile source of amusement.
Friday 9th October Latitude 28° 51’ Longitude 22° 50'
What with the newspaper and the play, I wasn't able to leave my Cabin until half past eight this evening. We have fixed upon a farce and have cast the characters. An advertisement will appear in tomorrow’s paper. I am thoroughly tired tonight; my cabin is the favourite lounge of all the passengers. I am generally employed in it and everyone makes “Sam Weller's” berth a convenience; three fellows on my bed (for I have turned my cot into a standing bed place) and five or six more seated on my trunks etc. is no uncommon thing and that for hours together. If anything is to be discussed, Waller’s Cabin is the place for it. In fact nothing goes on without my playing some principle part in it. The sailors even came to me to use my interest with the ladies toward decorating Amphitrite and her daughter. I have plenty on my hands and sometime more that I can well manage.
Saturday 10th October Latitude 30° 38’ Longitude 20° 0’
As I have more time than usual on my hands this morning, I shall give a list of the passengers etc.
Mr Morris - the civilian,
Mr Morris - the clergyman,
Captain Smith - Her Majesty's 15th Hussars
Reid - Comet in ditto
Butler - Lt Commander detachment Her Majesty's 41st Regiment
Fleming - Ensign in ditto
Phillott - Lieutenant: 25th Madras Native Infantry
Haultain* - A thorough gentleman * Regiment at Secunderabad
Griffith* - Nephew of Doctor Bailley
Stevens - Cousin of Longcroft’s and turned out a fool
Duval - My chum and schoolfellow
Scott - Artillery - a very dull fellow
They are very smart fellows and really deserved the artillery. Scott had interest.
Notes: Butler joined his Regiment in India, he went home sick and was employed in the recruiting service in Ireland his native country. He was ordered to command the detachment at two days notice and was on the point of being married and could not exchange being the first for purchase, his regiment will return in a few years. Was anything so unfortunate? His health is very delicate, the climate not agreeing with him. I have seen a great deal of him since we landed. He is to go to Bombay in which presidency his regiment is on active service.
Mrs Morris (wife of the civilian and two children)
Mrs Smith, wife of Captain Smith-
Mrs Tomkyns -
Miss Tomkyns -
Mrs Young - stepmother of stationed at Secunderabad
Miss Young -
Miss Taylor -
Their father is the Colonel of the 39th - Under the protection of Mrs Young; all scotch
Miss Taylor –
Miss Fletcher - A Spanish Lady of colour - under the protection of the Captain.
Miss Retalic* -
Captain and wife -
Four mates -
Seven midshipmen -
Boatswain - two mates - quartermaster - butcher - mate - baker - mate
Steward - cuddy servants
Thirty able sailors
42 of the rank and file of the 41st Regiment
Several black female servants, etc. etc.….make the total of our company.
A very smart breeze all day. Ten knots.(24) Before breakfast, fell in with an American Whaler on our lee quarter; exchanged, at the same time our Dutch friend was on our weather quarter in full sail, having stolen upon us a good deal in the night; exchanged. Both ships were close to us and presented a very beautiful sight; the whaler, being fishing, was soon out of sight and the Dutchman is very nearly so this evening. The paper caused much amusement. In the evening an unpleasant circumstance happened; the fifer’s grog had been stopped for some days, the natural consequence of which is that everyone subscribes a portion of his allowance which amounts to a great deal, more than one mans joram. After the dancing was over, the ladies were singing on the poop. The fifer, a very large and athletic man came to the Captain on the poop, and after some conversation had passed between them, the Captain finding the man was not exactly sober called to the Officer of the Watch to order him forward. The man hesitated a little and the Officer pushed him down the ladder to the quarterdeck. Here the man turned round and swore at the Officer. The Captain called the after guard aft and ordered the man back to the poop at the same time calling to the boatswain to bring the irons. The man returned to the poop, rushed at the Skipper and struck him a severe blow. (This offence is death in the Navy). Butler who was leaning over the sail of the poop immediately went aft and as soon as he had vented his Military indignation “the damned rascal why he has struck his superior Officer”, dealt the fellow such a blow as laid him along the hencoops.(25) He yet made a good deal of resistance but was soon overpowered by the passengers who instantly went to the Captain's assistance. He was at length put in irons, but still continuing extremely abusive, it was found necessary to gag him which was done by lashing an iron bar across his mouth, bitwise. What his punishment will be no one yet knows. I hope flogged until he can’t stand. The men declare he shall not be flogged and swear they will rescue him. God knows how this affair may end as a mutinous spirit is very prevalent among the crew. We are, however more than a match for them. The soldiers and passengers could beat twice the number of our crew. The ladies, barring Mrs Cousitt behaved very well. Mrs Cousitt was of course alarmed for the safety of her husband. I wonder whether the Skipper will have courage to flog the rascal.
Sunday 11th October Latitude 32° 16’ Longitude 16° 14’
Breeze more aft, consequently the ship rolls a good deal. Service on quarterdeck this morning. A very dull and cold day. Mr Fifer still in irons. The gag was removed not until 7 o'clock this morning, so he must have passed a comfortable night. The men appear still dissatisfied and it is a good deal doubted that the Captain will have heart enough to flog the man.
Monday 12th October Latitude 53° 7’ Longitude 13° 32'
Wind shifted, rained in torrents till noon; motion very disagreeable indeed. As soon as the weather cleared up, all hands were mustered and the Fifer brought up. The Captain asked him if he were willing to return to his duties. The fellow of course answered Yes. The Captain, in a devil of a funk, had told the crew that he had the power to flog him but didn't choose to do so; that he could show them the Act of Parliament and other humbug too cowardly to be repeated. He thought fit to apologise to the men because their grog had been mixed yesterday and on the whole behaved very unbecoming the high authority with which he is legally invested. He had his own reasons for being lenient and doubtless good ones. Captain Smith remarked he hoped the Captain wouldn’t do us the honour to invite his crew to the cuddy table as we are a good deal crowded already, which coming from a man of the Captain’s quiet and gentlemanlike habits conveyed the bitterest satire. The motion much worse towards evening. Had a capital dance; it was so cold many danced in rough coats. A few days ago in the course of the conversation Mr. Morris the civilian, a perfect gentleman beloved and respected by every individual passengers on account of his quiet and unobtrusive but courteous engaging manners and of whom it would be impossible to speak too highly – I say in consequence of what he told me, I shall not go to the Advocate's house, Mrs. Norton not being a very refined woman and Norton by no means popular, but shall deliver my letter to Mr. Cherry who is held in the highest esteem in Madras, is of high consequence and who Mr. Morris assures me will receive me with the greatest of kindness. I am lucky in being thus advised as the mere fact of being introduced to the society of Madras through Norton might be prejudicial to my prospects.
Tuesday 13th October Latitude 35° 5’ Longitude 13° 12’
Our captain has never been popular with any of the passengers; he is a man who affects the gentleman without the remotest pretentions to that character. His manners are haughty and reserved; in short, for I won’t annoy myself with a description of the fellow, he is without exception the most disagreeable puppy that any of us had the luck to come near. I am writing this journal in the hopes of amusing my father and mother and I intend to send it home as soon as I arrive in India and one thing I would wish particularly to impress upon them: that should Sidney(26) ever be sent out, for my sake and for Sidney’s, I beg that Captain Cousitt be especially avoided.
I can’t find words to express the indignation I feel towards the Jackanapes. His wife is a nice little women, but very silly, and the Captain is uncommonly jealous of her. In speaking of the skipper, I don‘t impugn his character as sailor for I understand him to be a good one. Mr Lovewell, the Officer with whom my mother was so pleased and my Aunt O'Shea so much offended, our Chief Mate, is the best and most worthy fellow that ever breathed. His kind manner and unswaying civility, together with his thorough manliness of character, has obtained the regard of every one. I myself am as fond of him as a brother and if any man existed that I would wish to do a real service, Lovewell is he. The Second Mate is a very good fellow and so are all the Officers and mids but the Second Mate is desperately spooney about Miss McDonald and affords us infinite amusement by the expensive habits it has produced in him; a clean shirt, greatest of extravagances on board ship, a clean pair of socks and patent leather shoes, and a clean pair of white trousers, every day, are among the many topics in him which cause us amusement.; he’s a deuced smart and handsome fellow and the son of an Officer in the Army, so there is no telling how it may end. The devil of a breeze all the morning; I am as usual on the leeside and ever and anon my port goes quite under water. All hands employed in taking down and stowing away royal, sky-to-‘gal’ sails and yards, and in making everything snug for going around the Cape, where a vast deal of rough weather is always encountered. We shall go round very nearly under bare poles, under double reefed top sails all the afternoon. A good deal of rough weather expected tonight. The rain poured all the evening; the ladies spent the evening in the cuddy, some at work, others playing chess and draughts; whist and other games at cards was the order of the night for the gentlemen. Our rate tonight at 5 bells, 10 1/2 knots.(27)
Wednesday 14th October Latitude 35° 35’ Longitude 9° 20’
Couldn‘t sleep at all, the motion all night quite horrible. It would be impossible to describe the noises which occur on board ship during the night in fair weather, but during foul it would defy description herself to enumerate them. Last night it was quite vain to attempt to carry on a conversation in my cabin; the creaking and straining of the bulkheads, the heavy sea breaking against the vessels side and the innumerable other noises which no one can conceive but he who has experienced them, entirely prevented the hope of such a thing. At first the turning out the watch(28) every four hours annoyed me but now anything save a broadside would not disturb me. So much does custom for one; I would I could get over the nasty sensations the motion produces as well as I have got over the nocturnal noises. The breeze very stiff and the sea very high; a good deal of rain and dreadfully cold and miserable. Towards evening the breeze died away somewhat and the ship became steady enough for dancing. Vast numbers of Albatrosses and Cape Pigeons, which afford those who are fools enough to expose their fowling pieces to the pernicious effect of the sea air a great deal of amusement.
Thursday 15th October Latitude 35° 45’ Longitude 7° 12’
A dead calm, the swell very great and the motion of the vessel worse than ever. A cold, dull, cheerless morning with now and then a shower. Towards night the breeze freshened a little.
Friday 16th October Latitude 35° 7’ Longitude 5° 50’
A very fresh favourable wind, a bright, dry, bracing, beautiful English October morning, but I was too much engaged to be able to stay on deck. A short paper this week, the motion having been too great to allow of my writing. Thank goodness this breeze is on our starboard quarter and I am on the weather side. It was too cold for dancing so the cuddy was the place of resort for the ladies again this evening. The mutinous spirit of the crew seems to have subsided in a great measure. I don‘t think that I have mentioned that Duvall is an old Hackney schoolfellow of mine. He is a particularly quiet gentleman-like fellow and a great friend of mine. It is by a curious circumstance that he happens to be a passenger by this ship. An Uncle of his holds an appointment in the India House. My licence was made out for the Argyle by mistake and upon my applying for a fresh one, it was necessary that I should present myself to his Uncle to verify the mistake; while the licence was being altered, in the course of conversation he said he had a nephew going out and he would like him to go in my ship and made enquiries about the passengers etc., which ended in my giving him a list I had with me; and from this was the True Briton fixed upon. I, of course knew nothing of him until he one day told me that he came by this ship in the consequence of a conversation that his Uncle had had with one of the cadets, a passenger. Fred would perhaps recollect his name.
Saturday 17th October Latitude 35° 18’ Longitude 2° 15’
Just such a morning as yesterday, from eight till eight and a half all night, a capital run. An idle day with me; a great deal of dissatisfaction exists among the passengers in consequence of Wigram(29) the owner having admitted ten more cadets than the ship can properly carry; it is the intention of some of the older ones to kick up a row at Madras. A fine clear but cloudy day; very cold; the ladies danced a little and then retired to the cuddy.
Sunday 18th October Latitude 35° 25’ Longitude 0° 25’
Fine, clear but cold day, breeze fresh; prayers on quarterdeck; almost frozen. Towards evening the breeze very stiff. Double reefed top sales etc. etc. The vessel very much over and I of course am on the leeside.
Monday 19th October Latitude 36° 18’ Longitude 3° 13’
What the sailors call “a fresh breeze and squally”, but what landsman would call a deuced heavy gale; this is our first taste of Cape weather. My port under water half of the day; the wind roared through the rigging in a terrific manner. Topsails double reefed and mainsails reefed and furled. The sea breaking over the deck, and though the hatches were battened down, a great deal of water found its way into the steerage; my cabin in about 3 inches of water all night and all day. Sea pie for dinner. As I couldn‘t stay in my cabin, spent the morning on deck though the vessel lay over so much that everyone was obliged to hold on by a weather rope. To add to the comfort to this “fresh breeze”, it rained hard all day; no one could sit in the cuddy, for the dead lights were in and the floor covered with water; one sea I saw come in over the forecastle(30) and reached the cuddy awning before it dispersed. I pity the poor ladies very much; their cabins are half full of water and some of them are sick. The gale seems lulled a little this evening and the motion is of course proportionally increased; I thought I should like to see a little foul weather, but this “fresh breeze” has quite satiated my desire. A theft was committed on Saturday night; the Third Mate’s chest was broken open, and from a desk was taken between £18 and £19, money belonging to the Mids Mess. All the soldiers and men‘s kits were searched after prayers on Sunday but without discovering any clue to the thief; he will never be discovered now. It is a serious loss to the Mess as the money was to purchase little Indian necessaries for the homeward voyage.
Tuesday 20th October Latitude 37° 22’ Longitude 6° 0’
The breeze gradually subsided during the night. This morning it only carried us from 6 to 8. The motion very great. A dry cold morning; towards noon the sun faintly appeared. My cabin still uncommonly wet. Dry bracing air all the afternoon and evening. Danced and afterwards the ladies brought their work into the cuddy; very cold.
Wednesday 21st October Latitude 37° 30’ Longitude 8° 10’
A delicious morning. Nearly a calm, not a cloud to be seen; a dry cold air. This weather is very unusual of the Cape and the skipper is getting out of humour. A rehearsal in my cabin this morning. In the early part of the evening a famously spirited dance after which the ladies retired to the cuddy.
Thursday 22nd October Latitude 37° 40’ Longitude 10° 52’
A calm continued all day; the sun shone quite warmly this morning. Employed in getting up paper. A capital dance. A very heavy dew fell this evening, which denotes a continuation of calm, a blessing not to be endured in these latitudes, the swell being very great.
Friday 23rd October Latitude 37° 50’ Longitude 11° 50’
A dead calm; a very beautiful morning; towards noon a light breeze sprung up. After dinner a number of whales were reported on our larboard beam. We all, including the ladies, went out and were no less astonished than amused at the gambols of these enormous animals. They spouted quantities of water into the air and immediately after appeared half out of the water; they continued close to us for upwards of an hour. Sometime after they had disappeared, a prodigious shoal of porpoises appeared all around the ship leaping and splashing about in an absurd manner. The boatswain(31) was soon ready with his harpoon but did not succeed in fixing one. Employed all day in my editorial capacity. Dancing. Towards evening breeze gradually increased and the ship lay over a good deal. I am happy to say that the breeze is on the larboard quarter this time.
Saturday 24th October Latitude 37° 30’ Longitude 14° 0’
Saturday is an idle day with me. I shall endeavour to give a slight idea of the way in which we spend our time etc. At 7 bells, half past seven, the fiddle to get up plays and at one bell, half past eight, it plays to breakfast.
Only about a dozen passengers, the Captain, first and second officers attend the breakfast table. The ladies, with the exception of Mrs and Miss Tomkyns, never attend the cuddy table. They are never seen in hot weather till dinner, but in the cold weather they sometimes walk the quarterdeck from 12 o‘clock until half past. The remainder of the male passengers lie in bed; some sleep, some read, others play cards etc. A few lie in bed until three o’clock, others get up at 11 in time for grog. I never take breakfast in bed, except when unwell. The breakfast consists of hot rolls and bread, dishes of cold fowl and pork, pigs fry, red herrings, rice, butter; the tea and coffee (sadly miscalled) is supplied by the steward from a side board. Great complaint is made by those who have made the voyage before, of the scantiness of the supply at breakfast. After breakfast, weather permitting, a walk on the poop. I then go below to my cabin having always plenty to employ me. At eight bells, 12, spirits, wine and biscuits are placed on the cuddy table and if I have time I generally go up for half an hour; shooting at bottles or if any at sea fowl. Boxing, broadsword exercise, cards, draughts, chess, reading but particularly sleeping, a habit I always indulge in warm weather, is the order of the day until six bells, three o’clock, when the fiddle plays for dressing. At seven bells, half past three, “Oh! ye roast beef of old England!”(32) strikes up and every one in full dress appears for dinner. You greet the ladies near you and sit down, grace is said, and dinner commences with soup. The covers are then removed and you have a choice of tough fowls, roasted or boiled, salt or fresh pork, stinking mutton, sheep’s head, Irish stew, salt junk, curry as tough as rope yarn, and filthy rice. The vegetables are very good potatoes, which are served up both baked and boiled; pastry follows, it is without exception the best I have ever ate. The desert consists of a little dried fruit. On Sunday, instead of soup, preserved salmon appears; a turkey smokes before the skipper and a large ham is placed before the doctor. On Sunday and Thursday, vile champagne is twice served round, and excellent “duff” (the nautical term for plum pudding) is placed before us. In hot weather, a light French wine and sherry are used at dinner and Claret and Port after; the Claret is very decent but the Port and Sherry are perfectly beastly, being composed of brandy and the devil knows what beside. This may appear very sumptuous fare; it is in reality anything but even comfortable, and I suspect, as things go on board these ships, we are not treated by any means well; having ten more passengers than we ought to have, we are excessively crowded too. The skipper sits at the middle of the table with his back to the mizzenmast, the doctor opposite him, the first mate at the starboard end and the second mate at the larboard end. A rumour has obtained for some time past that I entertain a tender feeling for Miss Young. I‘ll confess she is a very nice girl. At the beginning of the voyage I was placed directly opposite her at dinner but as her stepmother, of whom I have a religious abomination, chose to keep a strict eye upon me, I got the Captain‘s permission and changed my place to the starboard end close to my friend Mr. Lovewell. The gentlemen generally sit over their wine about 20 minutes after the ladies have retired. The skipper is in very deservedly bad odour on account of the stingy manner in which he gives his wine. Pistol shooting, smoking, a practice in which I congratulate myself I do not indulge, walking the deck etc,. is then resorted to. About half after six the ladies appear; if fine weather, they sit on the poop; if cold or rough under the cuddy awning.(33) At 2 bells, 7 o‘clock, tea is brought out to the ladies, the gentlemen taking theirs in the cuddy. Dancing now commences and generally continues, weather permitting, till three bells, half past nine, when the ladies retire. I forgot to say at one bell, half after eight, grog may be had in the cuddy. At five bells, half past ten, all the lights are put out by the third officer. Most of the cadets sit up the first watch till twelve and a few the second, until four; in warm weather, I usually turn in about one bell, half past twelve. We amuse ourselves by sitting down to leeward and chatting and singing songs. We have three or four very good voices; Griffiths, a nephew of Dr. Bailey has an excellent voice; I have become a bit of a songster too. By this morning, the breeze had increased so much we double reefed top sales. As the breeze is from the Southeast, we drove a good deal to leeward. The skipper is getting terribly out of heart. A large ship, supposed to be our old friend the Dutchman, beating about to windward all the morning. About noon she tacked and crossing boughs, apparently stood in for the Cape. The sea has been heavy all day and the ship lies over exceedingly; though it has been a cloudy day, we have luckily escaped rain. A few heavy seas have passed over the main deck.
Sunday 25th October Latitude 36° 27’ Longitude 15° 46’
Breeze not at all diminished. We have been drifting greatly to leeward during the night. At noon the Captain tacked and I am in my old position; thank goodness the weather is dry or we should be in a bad plight indeed. Prayers in the cuddy. Skipper very low spirited. Some of the ladies sick. We‘re going under reef topped sales; this untoward southeastern may last many days.
Monday 26th October Latitude 38 degree 54’ Longitude 14° 30’
Breeze as fresh and contrary as ever; the weather still fine and clear. The skipper has determined not beat about here any longer but to go due south as the breeze will permit. Still drifting to leeward. Countless number of whales birds appeared all round the ship this afternoon and presented a very animated appearance. We are now nearly in the heart of the whale fishery. A few whales were seen to windward. No appearance of a change this evening. Still very cold. It is feared that we shall not weather the Cape in very gallant style. This ship was three weeks last voyage before she could succeed in getting into Table Bay.(34) However, I suppose we shall get to Madras before the year is out.
Tuesday 27th October Latitude 41° 17’ Longitude 15° 46’
An alteration of 3 points in our favour took place about six this morning; the Captain looks comparatively cheerful again. We have put on more sail and have let out our reefs. A very beautiful morning not a cloud to be seen It reminds one of a fine October morning in England. I have been walking on the poop and the fine air has put me in fine spirits again. I was terribly low and home sick yesterday. We sailed from Portsmouth this day nine weeks and may calculated in getting to Madras six weeks after we have weathered the Cape. Very cold all day; no alteration in the breeze this evening. We are so far south that the Officers of the watch have orders to keep a keen lookout for Icebergs.
Wednesday 28th October Latitude 42° 52’ Longitude 80° 15’
An Iceberg discovered this morning at seven o‘clock a few miles to windward under our larboard bow; the news was soon spread over the ship and most of the passengers were soon on deck. It was very distinctly visible and exceedingly large, supposed to be much higher than our main mast. It was in sight about an hour and half. It is a very unusual thing to see on a voyage to the East Indies and I am much concerned that this unfavourable breeze occasions us to go so far out of our course. It is painfully cold, my thermometer stands at 50 in my cabin this morning, though the port and venetians are shut. The breeze inclined to freshen towards evening. Reefed topsails and made all snug for the night; raining and inclined to be rough tonight.
Thursday 29th October Latitude 43 degree 28 Longitude 21’° 40’
Blew hard at 12 o’clock last night, after which the rain cleared up. The breeze as usual this morning; shaken out a reef in topsails. Cold and dreary; we are now very much to the south and a little, very little, to the East of the Cape. We have been ten days in doing this and are not out of our difficulties yet. I am getting heartily tired of the voyage. Though I am a good deal employed I find the monotony very tedious and wearisome. I am excessively anxious too to hear from home and I look forward to receiving letters at Madras more than anything else. I wonder very often how they all are and what they may be doing, but the precarious state of my grandmother‘s health and the uncertainty my mother was in when I left, relative to Miss Robinson prevent my even forming any satisfactory conjectures. Fine, clear but cold afternoon. Breeze getting a point or two in our favour this evening.
Friday 30th October Latitude 43° 46 Longitude 24° 2
A thick, foggy, dreary, cold morning. Towards noon the breeze nearly died away and a light wind sprung up which sent us on our course. The sun shone and things looked cheerful again. Studding, sails were set and every face looked happy at dinner. A splendid evening but very cold; breeze freshening.
Saturday 31st October Latitude 42° 48’ Longitude 27° 20’
Another infinitely large Iceberg many miles to windward this morning. It is very unfortunate that this should have been to windward too; had it been to leeward we should have tacked and run in close to it which I should have much enjoyed. We have been running right before the breeze all night at the rate of 8 knots.(35) It seems inclined to get forward this morning. A very fine but extremely cold morning. Squally all the afternoon; the ladies always pass the evening in the cuddy now. The play is getting on admirably; we shall perform it about the time we recross the line. The dresses are in making under the direction of Mrs Smith and Mrs Young. We are running our course East North East tonight. We have fairly rounded the Cape, but the motion of the vessel is great and the weather too cold and changeable to be agreeable. I shall be glad enough when we get up into warmer latitudes.
Sunday 1st November Latitude 41° 58’ Longitude 31° 50’
A wet foggy morning. We‘re still running our course which makes up for the bad weather. The Officer has just reported “Prayers in the cuddy at five bells”. Touching the parson, or as he is more often called “the Shepherd”, I have somewhere said that I have found him a good sort of fellow. I have had a great reason to think differently; he is a very young man and on his way to take the head mastership of the Vepery School Madras. Besides being the most conceited egotistical coxcomb that I have every met with, he is one of the worst specimens of the very bad style of young clergymen of the present day. Some six or eight weeks since, he chose to apply some blackguard expressions to a transaction, about which he knew nothing, a mere joke and no wise coming within his province to notice. As he made use of the expressions at the cuddy table, it was thought necessary to seek an explanation, Reid and myself being deported to wait on him. He refused both explanation and apology, whereupon an account of the affair was written and signed and deposited in the hands of the Captain. For a week or ten days matters remained in this state but at length being cut dead by half of the male passengers and many of the ladies not at all admiring his conduct he, parson like, sent us the most abject apology which he chose to interland with the grossest falsehoods. Scarcely anyone takes any notice of him save the ladies upon whose company he invariably forces himself; such is the man from whom we listen to lessons of morality. There is one thing I cannot forebear to mention; he has a practice of omitting the ten commandments and the gospel and epistle, that most important part of our service, in order that he may preach us his own paltry compositions, as if forsooth he could improve upon the lessons for conduct and morality contained in the parables of our Saviour. Our parson is the most consummate of nuisances on board ship. He is in nine cases out of ten cause of more mischief and bad feeling than any six other individuals. Wind light but right aft. Squally and now and then a shower. An Albatross caught this afternoon with a hook and line; it measured nine feet from wing to wing; a small bird, no one has any idea but those who have been on a voyage what excitement is caused by the fact a simple bird being brought alive on the deck. One would have supposed the ship‘s passengers mere children. The ladies were summoned and remained on the wet decks for some time and the unfortunate animal was hauled on board amid the huzzars of the bystanders. It must not be supposed that I was not excited, for I was probably the greatest mad man of the party. The bird as handed over to the tender mercies of the men forward and its feathers were soon floating astern. Prayers in the cuddy this evening. Raining hard tonight.
Monday 2nd November Latitude 41° 2’ Longitude 35° 1’
Still cold and squally. The breeze is fresh and on our starboard beam, which I am happy to say makes me to windward. This evening the breeze being very inclined to freshen, reefed topsails etc. and made all snug for the night. We have been going nine knots(36) all day. Five bells, blowing hard in the squalls of rain.
Tuesday 3rd November Latitude 40° 9’ Longitude 39° 5’
The coldest morning we have had yet. Cloudy but cheerful; breeze fresh. We‘re beginning now to look forward to our arrival at Madras with a little certainty. Though I am very comfortable myself, I would not again on any account whatever take my passage in a ship with more than half a dozen cadets, though there are several on board older than myself and many of very excellent families. Our Skipper treats us in the most improper and unwarranted manner; School was a paradise in comparison to what we undergo here. However it is taken notice of by older heads than ours and the fellow will gain nothing by his conduct. There is but one feeling among all the passengers as to his manners. A cadetship is all very well for a boy just let loose from school but to a young fellow who may have been his own master for a year or two it is indeed poor work and calculated to break and weigh down his spirit. I consider that it is impossible for a young man, a cadet to be placed in more ignominious situations or situations more to be dreaded than on a voyage to India. To me it is beyond endurance. By all the older passengers we are all treated as gentlemen, but the Captain never deigns to wish any of us good morning. Once or twice he has left my salute unanswered. However I have not hitherto forgotten the respect to myself and hope not to do so. Whenever he is civil I am always civil too. For the first six weeks he did not take wine with me. Towards afternoon nearly becalmed. What little wind there is is contrary. A very cold but beautiful evening.
Wednesday 4th November Latitude 39° 17’ Longitude 40° 37’
Winds still light and contrary; two and half only all night. A beautiful but exceedingly cold morning. Cold is very bad weather on board ship. You have no means of keeping yourself warm except by walking the deck or lying in bed. But any weather is better infinitely than wet, which confines you below entirely and entails a dark steerage, hatches being closed. And so hot as hardly to be endurable. Your cabin leaking in every quarter and the caddie an inch under water. This is misery indeed. This evening the breeze having freshened, we are once more going on course.
Thursday 5th November Latitude 38° 36’ Longitude 44° 12’
Becalmed. A fine morning and not so cold. Employed all day at newspaper; a very good one this week. Slight breeze towards evening, favourable, not near so cold tonight. A small “soiree”, not at all slewed.
Friday 6th November Latitude 38° 55’ Longitude 46° 30’
A beautiful morning and quite mild. We have been running before a light breeze all night to the tune of seven. Studding sails (38) let and consequently plenty of rolling.
A lovely afternoon and evening; dancing. Employed all day at paper.
Saturday 7th November Latitude 38 degree 54’ Longitude 51° 12’
At half past four this morning blowing so fresh that Captain and all hands called up to double reef topsails. A cloudy but beautiful morning and a breeze from the right quarter; the motion horrible. No alteration all day. Deadlights(37) all in this evening, the sea heavy and the rolling increasing.
Sunday 8th November Latitude 39° 4’ Longitude 56° 17’
My cabin under water; the motion beyond description all night. On going on deck, found we were going along on double-reefed topsails; jolly boat and spars lashed down, extra tiller ropes and two men at the wheel and all hands employed in lowering yards. The sea is very heavy and ever and anon breaks completely over the decks; the sight is very fine. The breeze, I suspect from the snugness of matters on deck, is likely to freshen. The only consolation we have is that we are going our course. A great deal of damage done in the night by furniture etc. fetching away. Every time my port goes under water I ship at least a pint. I rejoice in several leaks from the main deck and am moreover favoured with the society of all the stray water from the steerage. A man has no idea of discomfort & downright misery till he has been to sea; 5 bells, I am off to prayers in the cuddy; Sea Pie, an olla podrida,(39) and "duff" only for dinner. There is something very absurd in the idea of your furniture moving with every lurch across your cabin and in the potatoes parting company with the dish & scampering away to leeward,(40) and while clinging to a stanchion or the table, your plate taking it into its head to follow their wandering propensities, your tumbler discharging its contents deliberately into your lap & then tumbling over & rolling down the table as if laughing at you; which evil does not rest here as your wine glass is certain to follow its pernicious example. 12am, we have run 239 miles since 12 o'clock yesterday. Yesterday after dinner Mrs Smith was sitting in her Cabin when a rifle, which was hung to a timber, fetched away & falling upon the crown of her head, cut it open. The wound bled much & made her very ill; she is better today & intends to come to prayers this evening. She is of a noble Irish family, a woman of excellent understanding and possessed of manners which seem to say, "I care not what anybody thinks”, which with her natural Irish vivacity makes her a universal favourite; she presents a lively contrast to Mrs Young and Mrs Tompkyns whose husbands are both in the Cos' military Service; the heads of these women are filled with the usual Indian maggots, right of precedence & and the numerous attendants upon this absurd desire of priority. Mrs Morris again, tho' infinitely superior to Mrs Young and Mrs Tompkyns, has her failings; she treats those of her own sex whose husbands belong to the Cos' Military Service with the utmost haughtiness; she is an uncommonly fine woman both personally and mentally & in her manners perfectly magnificent, she leads her husband the devil of a life. She is not generally liked but I admire her very much. She often, very often, puts me in mind of my mother. A man must wilfully shut his eyes who could make the voyage to India without becoming intimately acquainted with the customs of society etc etc; I believe I have as good an idea of what I am to undergo & of my manner of life as if I had actually experience. I don't know what to think as to my father’s acceptance of a cadetship for Sidney, there are many arguments available, pro and con but on the whole I think I would keep him at home; but I shall reserve my opinions till I am better able to form correct ones. It must not be supposed that I am sorry for the step I have taken. I am confident I was not calculated for the profession I have given up and therefore this is to be greatly preferred, but I think I would recommend my father to consider well before he sends out to Sid. We are all military on board with two exceptions and I have of course have imbibed very military ideas like all soldiers; for instance I, who have never put on my uniform, have a great contempt for the dress and I positively dread the time when I shall be obliged to bedeck myself in lace and frippery. It would be difficult…. impossible, to make Sidney think as I now do. He has it not in his power to put on a red coat. I am obliged to do so. A man never affects what he really is. The parson spun a very long yarn this evening which considering the weather was in very bad taste; who could listen to a wishy washy sermon when in constant jeopardy of going to leeward? The motion just as bad as ever tonight.
Monday 9th November Latitude 39° 2’ Longitude 61° 0’
The breeze not so strong this morning. The sea still heavy and the motion not improved. I think it is gradually getting a little warmer. The daylight bursts a few minutes after four and lasts until half past seven. The difference of time between these latitudes and England is four hours. It is now four o'clock and they are now about to sit down for breakfast at home. I wonder how they all are. I am exceedingly hungry and should much like to be spared a piece of bread of butter and a cup of tea, neither of which I have tasted for nearly three long months. The breeze not near so strong and the sea a good deal abated this evening. Still very cold.
Tuesday 10th November Latitude 38° 23’ Longitude 64° 50’
Kept the first watch(41) last night; a beautiful morning, the breeze getting aft, the rolling not near so great. We had a terrible row in cuddy immediately the cloth was removed. Butler had been grossly insulted by the Captain the previous day at dinner and went below; today also he dined in his cabin. When he enquired for his wine, the Steward told him his orders were not to let him have any except a glass full at a time from the cuddy table. Butler ordered a glass which was sent through the steerage, passing through the hands of seven or eight servants. Butler went up and expostulated with Cousitt, who refused to countermand his order. Another glass was sent and up again went Butler and wigged him before all the passengers, a greater insult could not have been offered to a man in Butler's situation, commanding a detachment, and second to none in the ship but the Skipper. A strong feeling had been previously excited in consequence of his having wigged me in regard to my having admitted into the paper a most clever and facetious letter, which among other things described too truly the fare at breakfast. However he got nothing out of me and all this ill feeling is roused, not because we are badly treated with regard to accommodation, but simply because everyone of us have experienced a series of insults from this puppy which is no longer to be borne. Butler has refused any interview and will not take any advantage of the fellow in any way, although being Commanding Officer he has very many opportunities. He may report him to the Commander in Chief. When Captain Smith, the most quiet and gentleman-like man in existence and to whom the Captain was very anxious to excuse himself and implicate Butler, but without success, was asked what he thought of Butler’s conduct, he replied "had I been placed in Butler's situation, I hope I would've acted in a precisely similar manner". We're going our course beautifully; dancing this evening.
Wednesday 11th November Latitude 36° 44’ Longitude 68° 28’
Have been going eight all night. A lovely morning. We have been north a little for a day or two; breeze increased gradually all through the morning. Employed at paper all day. I have from the first been a favourite of the stewards, a position to be in no wise despised. I am next his berth. While I was sick, he always attended me himself; he gave me his brother as my exclusive servant, he is infinitely more gentlemanlike than the Captain. Never am I at a loss for anything. He is a person who fancies he is a literary man and from his having a vast deal of spare time upon his hands, he has amassed a good deal of information. He frequently comes into my cabin to give me advice about the conduct of my paper and makes all manner of suggestions etc. but as he always backs his arguments by the production of a bottle of champagne, or rattifia,(42) or cherry brandy, they are uncommonly palatable. ‘Rap tap tap’, I always know the rascal's knock. "Come in Steward”, in accents bland and in he comes and, the door being first bolted, places himself with his back to the drawers. "I hope I am not intruding sir", "The devil a bit Steward”, "Well sir, how goes on the paper?" pulling out a bottle of champagne and taking off the lead "Oh, I don't know nothing very particular this week" ‘wheeze, wheeze’ goes the corkscrew, (for it is still champagne), " nothing very particular sir", pouring out a tumbler full "then I tell you what it is sir", (his usual expression), "I tell you what it is Steward. This is a deuced good bottle", putting down the empty glass; and thus do we discuss both paper and bottle. Oh there's nothing like being friends with the Steward; he’s a man of authority having charge of many servants and others and holds allegiance to none but the great gun himself. In fact he can do anything for you if he chooses; he has supplied me with a capital mat and really handsome carpet and my cabin is quite comfortable. He gave me a feather pillow, canvas shoes and fifty other unmentionable things. My advice to everyone making the voyage to India is: "Make friends with the Steward". Breeze dying away this evening.
Thursday 12th November Latitude 35° 35’ Longitude 70° 40’
A dead calm. Half past ten. Six albatrosses caught already. Engaged all day. Five bells; still a perfect calm.
Friday 13th November Latitude 35° 31’ Longitude 71° 18’
A light breeze which takes us very much out of our course. A heavenly morning, a good deal warmer. Engaged from breakfast till bedtime at paper. Towards evening a sale reported on our larboard bow, supposed to be The Windsor. We both hoisted signals but were too far apart to make out anything but the British Ensign. The breeze being foul we have tacked several times during the day. The breeze has freshened so much that we have reefed topsails and furled to 'gal' sails; we are going close to the wind which causes us to lie over dreadfully and the sea getting heavy we pitch a good deal. I am as usual on the leeside.
Saturday 14th November Latitude 37° 16’ Longitude 73° 35’
Blowing hard this morning. All hands lowering yards. The motion so great as to make me feel very qualmish. Sail still ahead. Our Skipper tried to cut off a corner and save the sighting of the Island of St Paul(43) but this wind is driving him down Southeast and now we shall probably do so. About a week ago we had a wind which would have taken us admirably there, but no, the Captain must point out a new track, and this is the consequence. Rained in torrents all the forenoon and afternoon and is raining hard now, half past ten. The breeze is becoming a little more favourable tonight. The motion has been very great all day.
Sunday 15th November Latitude 37° 33’ Longitude 76° 23’
Ship much steadier this morning; I had no sleep all night, blew very hard all the middle watch. Reefed mainsail though going under double reefed topsails. I got a little sleep towards morning but was soon awakened by the dropping of water on my face, having sprung a leak over my pillow. I have in all about 11 leaks from the deck, besides having a very fair share of all seas which come down the main hatch. I am in a very enviable plight, particularly as a good deal of rain is expected between this and India. Mr Lovewell has however promised to attend to me. The pitching motion has been worse than anything we have yet had. It was almost impossible to sit before the table at dinner. At 12 o'clock we were fifty miles only north west of St Pauls. The Captain at that hour stood north; the breeze very fresh tonight. Prayers in the cuddy as usual.
Monday 16th November Latitude 36° 25’ Longitude 78° 20’
About three o’clock, the breeze, which had nearly become a gale, was at the highest and on awaking this morning it was a dead calm. About 12, a light breeze sprung up which however soon died away. In consequence of the newspaper, having gradually assumed a complexion which certainly was not my intention that it should have done, and which was not altogether in accordance with the prospectus, I this morning resigned the Editorship, to the great surprise and disappointment of a great many. However, I had my private reasons for so doing and was not to be prevailed on to continue it. Butler, Reid and I have agreed to carry it on. One of Butler's men is to write it out and I have undertaken to arrange and write; in point of fact to be as much Editor as ever. I will say that it has been very well conducted. I had hoped to have sent them all home to my mother, to whom they would have caused much amusement, but I have had so many applications to allow them to be distributed at Madras that I fear it would be out my power to do so. Butler has determined that he will report the Captain to the Commander in Chief. A dead calm tonight.
Tuesday 17th November
10 o'clock a.m. It has been raining hard since three o'clock. Becalmed, an extraordinary heavy swell which Mr Lovewell cannot account for. I went out just now in the rain to look at it. We are at one time in an immense trough, at another on a dull heavy wave as high as our main mast, and this without a breath of air except that caused by the motion of the water. This is certainly an agreeable prospect. I forgot to mention that we had a rehearsal yesterday, the fourth, and that there is every prospect of the play going off well.
The dresses are all in readiness. About dusk the rain cleared up. A very light breeze has sprung up but we are unable to make much way against a head sea.
Wednesday 18th November Latitude 34° 0’ Longitude 80° 45’
A lovely morning; not a cloud to be seen. A light favourable wind which, the swell having subsided a good deal, carries us along at about five knots.(44) A great press of sail on. The weather is not hot enough to be uncomfortable and everyone is able to enjoy the deck. Employed all the morning in superintending the newspaper. I hope in about three weeks we shall make Madras. Towards evening the breeze freshened. Dancing.
Thursday 19th November Latitude 31° 13’ Longitude 82° 17’
A beautiful morning, light breeze. We expect to get into the trade in a day or two. Employed all day in superintending the paper. We have altered the day of publication. It will come out tomorrow evening. A lovely night, breeze decreasing. The ladies stayed on deck until half past nine as of yore.
Friday 20th November Latitude 29° 54’ Longitude 82° 32’
I kept the first and middle watches. A splendid night; fell calm at 6 bells, eleven, and is still a dead calm. Getting quite hot again. I take to white clothing again today. Employed at newspaper all the morning. When I put on my white trousers for dinner I found myself so fat that I could not wear them. It is a great nuisance and I don't deserve to be fat, for I eat no meat. A lovely night, dancing; a very light breeze.
Saturday 21st November Latitude 28° 17' Longitude 82° 32’
The breeze very light and not fair. Uncommonly warm this morning; we are just within the tropics again. I am very impatient to hear from home; I look forward to my letters at Madras more than to anything else in the world. Breeze died away towards night.
Sunday 22nd November Latitude 27° 13’ Longitude 82° 16’
Dreadfully hot and no white trousers can I get on. No wind and the air there is unfair. Prayers on quarterdeck. Not a ripple on the water all day. This evening prayers in cuddy. I have become a most inveterate punster, indeed it is a principle thing I have done since I came on board. I never was guilty of a good thing at home. A lovely night.
Monday 23rd November Latitude 25° 50’ Longitude 82° 30’
Breeze sprung up about 1 o'clock this morning which I hope will carry us into the Trade. A cloudy, squally day but very hot. I have been engaged in making arrangements for affairs of honour all the morning. The breeze proves to be the trade which, if we are fortunate, will carry us over the line a degree or two. The ship is being painted and undergoing divers other processes for the purpose of making her look smart. Begin to get very "jolly" as we used to say at school. As we get nearer Madras, my pride struggles hard to make me promise not to go to any house but to stay in quarters at the fort.
I am to belong to the Club immediately I hold my commission. Phillott will propose me. I am afraid I have kept this journal very badly. I will make up my mind to be more observant and careful in India. The thought that in three weeks I am to hear from home is such inconceivable happiness that I fear that it will be marred by some ill news. I hope everyone has written: my father, mother, Fred, Sid and dear little Lou.(45) How often do I think of them all! I often, very often, think of my father's last walk with me on the ramparts. If I can but act as he then told me, I shall have nothing to fear. I thought then that he dwelt a little too long on the hope that I should never forget him and my mother and Louisa and the home I voluntarily left. There is little fear of that. I forget that my conduct in leaving that home would fully, and more than fully, justify his fears on that head. I can safely assert that my home is never for an hour together forgotten by me. The breeze is nearly aft and we are going along beautifully, with no motion. Dancing tonight.
Tuesday 24th November Latitude 22° 51’ Longitude 83° 40’
I have succeeded in settling two affairs of a delicate nature alluded to yesterday. One remains yet unsettled and which I fear will end on the beach on Madras. Thank my stars I am not second in this matter. I am pleased that the conduct I pursued yesterday was highly approved of by men of experience and that I was instrumental in extricating a poor fellow with honour unsullied from one of those silly but cruel positions in which men in the Army are placed as in these instances, not by any wilful misconduct, but merely by unfortunate expression made use of in the heat of the moment and perhaps caused by the greatest provocation; there is so much responsibility resting on the friend on these occasions that I would prefer the position of Principal. I think I have observed before that a Cadet is liable to be placed in more embarrassing and cruel situations on the voyage than I have ever heard or read of. Only yesterday, one poor fellow was to have fought three men successively, not because he himself had been insulted but because from his doing what he firmly believed to be his duty, aspertions were cast on his honour(46) of three others and in their behalf was he to fight, not to clear himself but them, and yet this man dared not show the white feather. Oh! custom, honour, fashion - however needful you may be for the proper working of that machine, society, you are indeed a tyrant and as cruel as tyrannical. The trade is unusually fair and we are all in excellent spirits. The evenings are very fine and the dance is kept up with spirit.
Wednesday 25th November Latitude 19° 4’ Longitude 83° 56’
Dress rehearsal this morning. The play(50) is come off on Monday night, weather permitting. The dresses are admirable. We had a good run; the Trade is unusually fine but owing to its coming via the south is not expected to last long. Very busy all day, play and newspaper. Very hot.
Thursday 26th November Latitude 15° 1’ Longitude 83° 50’
We shall make a splendid run today between 10 and 11 all night and continuing this morning. Studding and sky sails taken in. I am on the weather side but do not in this scorching sun derive much benefit, not being able to keep open the Port. Just now not being able to breathe, though nearly naked, I opened it and in less than five minutes a wave sent me four or five buckets of water to cool me. Beside I have become so used to the leeside that I don't know how to appreciate the windward. Playing up for breakfast. Engaged at newspaper all day. A thick cloudy day and the heat so dreadful that it is impossible to stay in your cabin for above 10 minutes at a time. Not a port open either to windward or leeward. The motion very disagreeable and the sea heavy. We ran 243 miles; no dancing this evening.
Friday 27th November Latitude 11° 40’ Longitude 83° 41’
A fierce sun but a much more preferable heat to that of yesterday. The Trade much lighter. We have the ports open, which is indeed delightful. It is impossible to sleep all night in a closed cabin during hot weather; nothing but sitting on deck until you can no sit longer will make you bear the heat. Many keep on deck all night; I cannot on account of my head; about two hours sleep suffices. The sheet is drawn very tightly over the mattress on which you lie with shirt and calico trousers.(47) I often think of the fuss and nonsense I used to make at home; how different am I now! There is nothing like a voyage to India as a Cadet to make a fellow manly. I believe I yet retain a good many of my old ways particularly as to my toilet. My drawers are arranged precisely the same way as at home. I brush my hair as much as ever, and I am very regular in my habits. Fred will laugh at all of this: I have the same antipathy to studs and rings and pins as of old and I am famous for the "build" of my trousers whether Legg's or Ford's.(48) I very often reproach myself for not having called upon Legg before I left. It was a thing I really ought to have done and admits of no excuse. Kenchin too requested I would call upon him and I often regret having been unable to do so. With the exception of not writing young Ellis a line apologising for neglecting to send him copies of the brasses in Cuckfield Church, I believe I left nothing undone beside. This is an idle day. Now for a book "One in a thousand"(49) which Mrs Smith insists that I shall read. My chair placed well to windward and my feet against a box to leeward, nothing on but my trousers and socks, I mean to lounge away the morning as careless as a child, for that's the only animal that has nothing to vex and trouble it. By noon nearly a calm. We are certainly very unlucky to lose this trade so early. A lovely evening but hotter than ever.
Saturday 28th November Latitude 10° 27’ Longitude 83° 20’
Breeze very light. The sun exceedingly fierce. Sat in my cabin all day almost naked. White jackets are in great request and are as unbecoming as necessary. The effect is very bad at dinner; I have not given up my practice of wearing a coat at dinner yet and hope not to do so. It is too hot for dancing, the ladies sit on the poop and a few of us sing. Miss Young sings very beautifully and is always ready to oblige. She is an exquisite musician. I think I sing some seven or eight songs, a thing I never did at home.
Sunday 29th November Latitude 8° 46’ Longitude 82° 40’
A four knot breeze, not quite so hot on the whole, a sail on our starboard beam. Prayers on the quarterdeck. Weather looks squally towards night. Playing practical jokes all night.