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on the occasion just referred to. R. and I used to go often in that direction, and dine at a small wine-house on the road, where we got some exceedingly good red wine, which, for want of a better name, we called red madeira; a much better sort of liquor than any of the common vins du pays I ever met with on the Continent; a good rich beverage, and exceedingly refreshing after a hot toil up hill. Sometimes we went out upon the open flat country, a few miles from Funchal, rabbit and quail shooting, but it was too hot to be long upon a sandy soil under a broiling sun.
Our visits to Santa Clara, although strictly limited to a friendly, even affectionate, intercourse, carried on in open day, did not escape the jealous apprehension of the priests; at least, we always attributed the following incidents to them. I one day received at the hotel a letter, written in English, and anonymous, and left by a messenger who gave no information as to where he came from. This letter exhorted us to be extremely circumspect as to every thing we might say or do connected with the convent of Santa Clara, for that we were strictly watched in our daily visits there, and should unquestionably receive some injury if detected in any heretical proceeding. One evening, after having walked more than an hour on the Prado, which everybody who has been to Madeira knows, we thought that we were certainly dogged by three snobbish-looking officers of the garrison, whom we knew to be such by their undress uniform. Italians, Spaniards, and Portuguese, I am always for keeping in front of me, and as these three young men got into our rear in the course of walking, I proposed to R. that we should sit down on a bench near. We accordingly placed ourselves on one which stood against some trees in the walk; it was become by this time quite dusk. The officers passed once in front, with a very impertinent swagger, and immediately, as we always supposed, they must have turned short round behind us and the trees, for we both simultaneously received a tremendous whack across the shoulders, the seat was kicked from under us, we lay sprawling upon the ground, and although up in an instant, the enemy had vanished; nor could we ever, notwithstanding our utmost watchfulness and scrutiny, recognize them again.
A still worse attack was made upon us, one night, in the gloomy passage into the beggarly theatre, where we went to a concert. There was nothing to light the ante-room and passage but one dim lamp; in the middle of the performance, we both went out for some purpose, and on returning found our admission opposed by a group of young men; we of course very quietly requested leave to pass, but, instead of this, they began to hustle us. This necessarily led to blows, and on this occasion we had the best of it, for, just as the fray was commencing, we received a sudden accession of strength from the coming in of a couple of Englishmen, passengers on board a West-Indiaman, in the roads; we routed the enemy completely; in fact, some of them rushed into the street, roaring for the "soldados." This was the last "passage at arms" to which we were invited by the knights of Funchal; and, in spite of anonymous warnings, we continued our almost daily visits to the convent, where the time was spent in conversation, in hearing the three sisters sing, in seeing them embroider, in eating the most delicious sweetmeats, and in mutually teaching each other English and Portuguese expressions.
The repairs of the K-s being completed in the sixth week since our arrival at Madeira, after the "Blue Peter" was hoisted, the ship got under weigh, with a fine off-shore breeze. The captain and chief officer were puzzled to make out what we could mean by having hung up one of R.'s clean shirts in the main rigging; nor were they less when R., having borrowed the
spy-glass, after looking attentively through it for some time, handed it to me, exclaiming, "There it is! there it is-as plain as possible!" The fact was, that we had agreed with our brunette friends mutually to hoist a farewell signal, and to keep it flying as long as we were in sight; R.'s shirt, therefore, came into requisition as our signal; what theirs was, we could not exactly make out, but it was either a table-cloth or sheet. Poor things! they insisted upon our taking a large supply of preserves, feather-work, and a tortoiseshell ring each mine was a somewhat sentimental one, the signet being a heart pierced with a burning arrow.
Let me give a word of advice to all who, touching at Madeira, have their linen washed; it is, to examine their shirts before they pay the natives their charge, for the washers have a trick of bringing the passengers' things back just in the hurry and confusion of getting off from the anchorage, and when you look over your clean shirts, you probably find one-third of them tail-less.
If all the journals kept by Indian passengers at sea were to be collated, whatever the beginning and end might say, I think the middle might be thus epitomised:-"The weather is now agreeably warm and genial, which is doubly delightful after the cold and misery of the Bay of Biscay. I rise at seven, and spend just an hour in my cabin, shaving, dressing, &c., which brings me to the breakfast hour; about nine I go on deck, and pace the poop or quarter-deck, enjoying the pure air of the fresh but placid trade-wind. From nine to eleven is generally the quietest time; the decks are clean and dry; the ropes coiled neatly round the belaying pins; the pigs and sheep have been watered, the fowls and ducks fed, and the water served out to the different departments; the relieved watch are gone below to take a snoose; the watch on deck are forward, making spun-yarn; the boatswain stands eyeing, with evident satisfaction, the trim of the ship; the officer of the watch is leaning with his back against the gangway, listlessly watching the carpenter at some quiet job; all is peaceful and pleasant. The warm sun and blue sky engender kindly feelings; and this is the time to look back on things past, and forward on things to come. At eleven o'clock it is time to begin reading or writing; there is a play to be read, an entry in the diary to be made, a letter to be got on with, in case of meeting with a vessel homeward bound; and so three o'clock comes, the most welcome of all hours to an Englishman-that of dinner. Dinner in the trades is really a most agreeable occupation; the ship 'moves motionless;' the plates and glasses are sober; the pea-soup is admirable; the fresh mutton, though perhaps killed but last night, tender and tasty; the beer well up; the madeira soft; the company sociable: now such an agreeable pastime cannot but require two hours. At five, then, I go on deck, and walk, talk, smoke, and idle two hours, until tea-time at seven; a couple of rubbers at whist, a couple of cigars afterwards, a glass of grog, a little chat, a few thoughts homewards, a little listening to the wooing breeze, a little watching of the bright phosphoric foam, which seems as if it were rushing past the ship; these beguile me until ten o'clock, and then is come the time to turn in.'" Such is the life of many and many a day at sea.
Soon after quitting Madeira, I engaged in a somewhat new occupation. There happened to be twenty couple of fox-hounds on board, going on with the vessel to Calcutta for the subscription hunt. What the hounds themselves cost I cannot say, but the freight of each was ten pounds-not a bad partcargo. They were kept in a kennel, built up on the forecastle; and as the people seemed to understand their habits and manners but indifferently, I
undertook the office of kennel-man and feeder. I had a number of troughs made, each nine inches deep and nine wide, and at ten o'clock every morning, with a rope's end in my hand, I stood at the kennel-door and let out each hound, calling him by name, for each had been sent on board with a strip of parchment, on which the name was written, round his neck, and the captain had been also furnished with a corresponding list of names, so that when, almost on the very first morning of my charge, I called from the list "Trueboy!" Trueboy pushed his nose forward. Before unkennelling, I always had the troughs filled with water; and as the warmth of the preceding night had created thirst, they immediately, on being let out, took to the water; they were then allowed half an hour to stretch from forward of the main-mast. In the mean time, the troughs were filled with their only meal per day, which was nothing but hard biscuit well soddened in boiling water, and upon which they fed heartily, while I stood over them to keep the peace. Every hound arrived in perfect health in Madras roadsted, where, as I soon after learned, being allowed some fresh beef, three of them died in a few hours.
After some days from Madeira, we were truly delighted to find that the skipper had determined, in spite of the risk of the underwriting at Lloyd's, to touch at St. Jago, one of the Cape de Verd Islands. Our course brought us to about 300 miles' distance from the coast of Africa, opposite the debouche of the rivers Senegal and Gambia, and for three days the atmosphere was absolutely loaded with a thick, impervious fog, which is common there, and attributed to the immense quantity of dusty particles carried from the African coast to sea, whenever the wind blows strong off-shore.
My Diary says:-" Friday, 12th. The quantity of dust, floating like a vast mist, has been so obscuring, that the captain is fearful of not being able to make St. Jago. The sails and ropes are covered with it, and our hats contract as much in a few hours on deck as if one had been travelling in a dusty, windy day ashore. Having crossed the tropical line, we fell in this morning for the first time with flying-fish; they certainly are a curious species; they seem exactly like small whiting, having a couple of long, narrow fins, nearly as long as the body itself, with which they are able to rise out of the water, either for pleasure or security, and skim along the surface for thirty or forty yards."
On the 19th June, we anchored in the harbour of Porta Praya, the little chief town of St. Jago. The harbour itself is a most compact one, inclosed on three sides by high rocks, open on the fourth to seaward. About an hour after anchoring, the health officer came on board; he ought to have been designated the "sick officer," for a more jaundiced-looking creature I never As no one on board could speak Portuguese sufficiently, I was put in requisition to give him what information he required in French. His boat's crew were blacks, who rowed beautifully. The captain, R., and I, jumped, directly after his departure, into one of the ship's boats, and went ashore. As a matter both of courtesy and inclination, we first went to the British consul's; here we staid an hour, and gave him all the cream of the news from England; we next, as a matter of duty, went to the offices of the governor, a miserable, snuffy, dirty, old Portuguese militaire. Having gone the round of the town-adjutant's, governor's, and consul's departments, the next thing was to seek out some "local habitation" while on shore. The search, however, was long a vain one; we could not find either hotel or boarding-house in all the town. The first aspect of the place did not promise any thing very delightful; small white houses with red-tile roofs, the little main street arid
and shingly, the people brown or black. At length, by dint of search, we discovered that there lived a woman in the town who was in the habit of providing dinners for persons landing from an occasional ship. Her name was Mary da Costa, but she bore the cognomen of English Mary, from, I presume, either her little ability to speak the English language, or her great ability to take the English in, which she certainly could do with the most consummate art. I think that, without any exception, the most villainous dinner I ever partook of was our first dinner at English Mary's. The first course was a roast turkey and yams, the former as tough and tasteless as a piece of rope; this was removed by a couple of fowls, utterly impenetrable by human teeth; and the third course was a turkey à la pilau—that is, boiled in rice. This was a dinner for three persons, and for which, including two bottles of country wine, Mistress da Costa-it being, as she said, "too much fine dine" -charged twenty-five shillings English currency.
There being no sleeping accommodation on shore, we always returned on board at night. On Sunday, passing along the street, I looked into a Roman Catholic church, where, for the first time in my life, I saw a perfectly black priest, dressed in the clerical vestments, performing high mass.
St. Jago seems nothing more than an irregular mass of volcanic heavings from the sea; small hills scattered upon a cindery base, with the empty channels of small water-courses in the rainy season, but at present only beds of deep sand. Along one of these, beneath a burning sun, which nothing less than an Englishman's useless curiosity in a strange place could have encountered, the captain, R., and I, steered our course on ponies for a plantation called Trinidad, which, we were informed by English Mary and the boatmen, was the great lion of St. Jago. The whole way along we only saw a few straggling goats or shaggy sheep browsing, as I imagine, on something, although we could descry nothing but stones; or now and then a startled little bird, whose beak seemed white and feathers frizzled with heat, flew from one stunted bush to another; or a lazy yellow and white kite, moving in circles on the wing, as if fearful of a perspiration. At length, we arrived at Trinidad, a name of rather peculiar interest to me, inasmuch as the island so called was my birth-place. It was located at the extremity of the long deep channel, in which we had been riding, and amidst so much sterility seemed a copper oasis, the result of irrigation from a few rills of water. The house was a small Portuguese plantation-house, a thing which to be understood must be seen; there was no inmate, save two ancient slaves, a male and female; around the house we found, however, most beautiful orange trees in full bearing, large bananas loaded with fruit, coco-nut trees, patches of Indian corn, tobacco plants, and some enormous trees, called the bread tree, producing nuts that contain a quantity of red seeds enveloped in a white pulp, from which the natives produce something like bread, as the South-American islanders do from the cassada.
Our voyage was attended with nothing remarkable till we reached our destination. There is no condition in which a contented mind is so much its own reward as on board ship; there is no place in which agreeable things are so agreeable, or disagreeable things so disagreeable. Now, few things can sur pass the uncomfortableness of heavy rains in hot latitudes: on recrossing the line, we suffered very much from this cause; certainly it quieted all apprehension of wanting water; but then we were obliged to keep below, closely shut up from all ventilation, as every hatch was fastened down to keep out the torrents which fell for several days before making Ceylon. I ventured, however,
one morning to the forecastle, to watch the second officer harpooning porpoises. I saw him strike two; one we got on board, the other extricated itself from the harpoon and fell bleeding profusely, and the moment the water was tinged with his blood, every porpoise disappeared, although more than a hundred had been playing round the ship. The one we got on board measured six feet seven inches; he had received a tremendous rent from the harpoon in the side, and, as he lay on the deck, manifested the strongest agony and muscular action in dying; volumes of dark blood issued from the wound, and some of the muscles laid bare were larger than any human ones. He was cut up; some parts the men fried and ate for supper, and some I gave to the hounds, who relished it amazingly. The two jaws were immensely strong, and contained one hundred and eighty-six teeth. I took off a piece of the skin, which seemed to me to differ but very little from India rubber, being tough and elastic.
We made the island of Ceylon. I had often heard that the perfume of spices or flowers was perceptible some distance out at sea off Ceylon, though the fact has been questioned by many: I had, however, an opportunity of proving its reality. About ten o'clock at night, when dark, the first intimation which the officer of the watch had of the vicinity of land was a strong, almost sickening, sweet odour, as of a mixture of flowers. In the morning, I myself perceived it, as strong as if I had been near a flower-garden. To me it certainly was not sickening; but I believe it was not so powerful as on the previous night. Every one was sensible of the scent, although we were at least thirty-five miles from the shore, on which there was no appearance of habitation or culture; nothing but one continuous mass of jungle. The wind blew lightly from the land, and several beautiful butterflies came on board. I confess that I had been ever incredulous on the subject of the spicy perfume of Ceylon borne out to sea; but smelling is believing, as well as seeing.
ANECDOTES, TRANSLATED FROM THE PERSIAN.
It is related that the lapwing once waited upon Solomon (on whom be peace!), and said, "I wish you to be my guest some day."-" Shall I come alone," asked Solomon, or with my retinue ?"-"Come with your whole forces to such an island," was the reply. Solomon accordingly repaired to the island with his whole army. Upon their arrival, the lapwing flew off, and catching a locust, threw it into the sea, and said, "Eat, O sons of God; and let him who misses a share of the meat, help himself to the broth." Solomon and his army laughed for a whole year at this joke.
A woman, being reduced to great distress through poverty, presented herself before the khalif of Bagdad, asserting that she had obtained the gift of prophecy, and that a revelation had been made to her from heaven. "It seems," said the khalif, "that you have never heard the saying which tradition ascribes to the holy Prophet: After me cometh no prophet?""True," replied the woman, "he has said so; but he has not said, 'After me cometh no prophetess.' The khalif smiled, and liberally rewarded her ready wit.