A trick & crossing the line

Trick played upon W.m Treweek

Wednesday 8th Dec.r  – beautiful weather. This morning Palma the Westernmost of the Canaries in sight at a distance. Very light & favourable winds.

After the ridiculous incident of yesterday, we did not expect to be so soon entertained with another even more ridiculous and laughable. One of our men and our Steward, finding how easy it was to tax the credulity of some of the Miners, resolved to have some farther fun at their expense. The subject of their joke was William Treweek, who I have mentioned not to be gifted with any superabundant stock of sense. Not to excite suspicion, they began afar off and at last brought it about that the Steward made a bet with our seaman of a gallon of rum that he would conceal W.m Treweek on the upper deck, so snugly that James Rowe would not be able to find him out in ten minutes. The bet was immediately taken and poor simple Treweek settled in the thought that he would (according to agreement) have half of it, and most willingly agreed to take his share in the business. Now in the fore part of the day, the corner of the fore-hatchway, which is of considerable depth and furnished with two folding pieces was stuck up against the side of the pig-house so that in the afternoon, all being ordered below, W.m Treweek was shoved into this receptacle, which he declared to be very comfortable. As soon as he was in the doors (if you may so call them) were firmly secured by lashings which crossed them. Upon a given signal all ascended from below and commenced the fictitious search. Two or three of our men passed to and fro, apparently engaged in scrutinising different convenient places, but in reality preparing sundry buckets of salt water ready for use. When all was prepared, a piece of tarpaulin which concealed the hider was withdrawn, and discovered him in quod – no very enviable situation, and then a deluge of brine was rained upon him from every imaginable vehicle – from which alas there was no escape, the doors of his prison being as I have already mentioned too well fastened. In a few seconds poor Treweek was thoroughly drenched – and then, but not till then, he was released amidst the shouts and laughter of every spectator, but I must in justice say without any indication of displeasure on his part, who a day or two afterwards declared that now he saw there was some joke in it but that then he really had believed what the Steward had told him. During the remainder of the voyage it was impossible for any one to play any more tricks – he was too shy & too much on his guard – in fact his extreme suspicion was as amusing as his former simplicity.

Thursday 9th Dec.r  – fine weather – favourable winds variable in force. Saw the islands of Palma, Teneriffe and Ferro, which presented nothing remarkable.

Friday 10th. – beautiful weather – light favourable breezes.

Saturday 11th. – cloudy but pleasant weather light favourable winds.

Church music on board – Psalm singing

Sunday 12th. – cloudy but pleasant weather – light favourable breezes all day, pretty fresh at night. This morning spoke a bark the Endymion of London bound to Jamaica. [1] To day we had divine service performed, and as on last Sunday, two or three verses of a psalm were very well sung by the Miners. This new feature – in our Public devotions had an extremely pleasing effect: Without any adventitious circumstances of architectural embellishment or of noble accompaniment on an organ – without a building adapted according to the rules of art for an exhibition of musical skill, but with no canopy, but the blue heavens and no instruments but those of nature’s tuning, the peculiar situation in which we were placed rendered this part of the service indescribably solemn and impressive. The effect of this days worship was not diminished by any impropriety of behaviour on the part of the miners, the whole of whom on the contrary evinced the greatest outward signs of devotion. During the day it was pleasing to see so many men both Sailors and Miners in one Ship, some reading their Bibles some tracts or hymns and all showing by their walk that they were impressed with the sanctity of the day.

Blue light seen at the Tropic

In the afternoon the conversation turned pretty much upon our close proximity to the Tropic of Cancer and the expected visit of Neptune to receive the names of those who had never crossed the line. At 9 P.M. the Miners were struck with astonishment at the appearance of a blue light, which M.r Geach had secretly ordered to be conveyed to the Main top. The effect was certainly very grand and every one, tho’ he suspected the Master, who said that he expected to see a bright star crossing & indicating the Tropic, was evidently puzzled how to account for the phenomenon.

At the dead hour of night, in the midst of a deep slumber, I was awoke with a sudden and tremendous noise which caused me to start up – thump – thump – thump – stamp – stamp – with the voice of the Master speaking in a loud and nasty tone to the man at the helm – a vessel close aboard of us – Hard Starboard – Give her the helm quick or she’ll be foul of us. Don’t you hear – Why don’t you answer you lubber? Schooner ahoy! Why don’t you keep a better lookout? What schooner are you? Where from? During this address the sound of many feet and much bustle was heard above & a rough voice from the schooner announced that she had Neptune on board, and that his submarine Majesty had come according to custom to take an account of all who might be strangers at his Court, never having been presented at his levee. Upon hearing this M.r Geach immediately backed the main yard (by which our progress was stopped) for his Majesty, who came alongside with a horrible noise. Intelligence of this circumstance was immediately communicated to our Skipper, who very politely enquiring after his health, and that of his family. The questions and answers were both made thr’o speaking trumpet, one by M.r Geach on the quarter deck, and one by Neptune at the bowsprit. Preliminaries being all settled, the most important par of the business was then proceeded into viz. calling over the names of those who had not yet taken the oath of allegiance to the Sea-Green God. They were all fully and officially (perhaps officiously) announced with very polite wishes for our welfare and appointed to meet us again at the line for the purpose of installing their names into the order of his Knighthood.

Whilst all this was going on the Miners were not, you may be sure, asleep. At the first alarm each and all had started up, and not a few of them next morning candidly owned that they were dreadfully frightened when they heard the Master sing out about getting foul of another vessel. At the same moment 5 or 6 scrambled up the main hatchway, which unfortunately had not been blocked up, and would thus by their being confined below have added to their fears. The rest lay quaking in their hammocks, wishing themselves 1000 miles off. Knowing as I did the occasion of all this noise, I was not a little amused in witnessing from my Cabin the various methods in which their alarm was displayed – some prayed aloud and called for mercy – others lay silent yet quaking. The curious remarks and peculiar dialect to which I was a listener I cannot pretend to convey to you by description, altho’ the effect upon my risibility was very great.

In half an hour after the commencement of the uproar peace & silence were restored only again to be broken at the first dawn of day – when all light imparted confidence – and each related to the other his feelings and impressions.

Monday 13th Dec.r  – fine weather. Light favourable breezes all day – fresh at night.

Tuesday 14th – cloudy but pleasant W.r Moderate and favourable breezes.

Wednesday 15th  – fine pleasant but Cloudy W.r light variable winds. At 5 P.M. came in sight of San Antonio, one of the Cape Verd Islands.

Thursday 16th  – this morning abreast of San Antonio & kept it in sight all day. Pleasant weather – light winds – calm at night.

Friday 17th – cloudy morning – fine day – calm or nearly so all day.

Saturday 18th – very fine weather – nearly a calm all day.

Sunday 19th – beautiful weather – morning calm – light variable breezeds all day.

Monday 20th – calm all day – Beautiful weather.

Tuesday 21st – cloudy weather – Strong and favourable breezes.

Wednesday 22d – cloudy weather – fresh and favourable breezes.

Thursday 23d – close sultry weather – Moderate & favourable breezes.

Friday 24th – close sultry weather, inclinable to calm. At night moderate but unfavourable wind.

Saturday 25th  – variable winds and weather  Heavy showers at night. This being Christmas the service appropriated for that day was performed & appropriate hymns were sung by the Miners.

Sunday 26th Dec.r  – very unsettled weather – thunder lightning and rain – wind variable, sometimes a calm. Caught 2 sharks.

Monday 27th  – close sultry weather – calm all day

Tuesday 28th  – cloudy sultry weather – light unfavourable breeze.

Wednesday 29th  – cloudy weather – rain at night – light variable breeze.

Thursday 30th  – cloudy weather – rain at night. Fresh and favourable breeze. At 7 P.M. William Thomas one of the Miners met with a serious accident. While standing on the steps of a ladder placed for want of a proper apparatus across the entrance to the hold, slipped his foot – & fell so that the edge of one of the steps struck with the whole weight of his body, upon the upper part of the thigh & perineal portion of the Urethra. From the time of the accident till we reached Rio I was little, very little, on deck, having in addition to looking after him, to attend to my own health, which was such as to oblige me to confine myself.

Friday 31st  – we crossed the line, but in consideration of the above melancholy occurrence none of the usual ceremonies was permitted or indeed needed as a damp was thrown over the spirits of all.