1778 February 28.
The Captain sent written orders to the Steward, to make weekly returns to
him, of the State of provisions, and to be very frugal in the Use and
management of them and particularly of Candles, as nearly one half of the Ships
Store of Candles appeared to have been expended.
This was Saturday night a fortnight and one day since I took leave of my
family. What Scnes [Scaenes] had I beheld in those fifteen
days! What anxiety had my Friends on Shore suffered on my Account! during the
North East Storm, which they must probably have felt at Land! But these
Reflections were too tender to be indulged, especially as they could do no good
to my friends or me. I diverted my mind from them by enquiring what was this Gulph Stream? What was the course of it? From what Point and
to what Object did it flow? How broad it was? How far distant from the
Continent? What were the longitudes and Latitudes of it? But I found but little
satisfactory Information, till some years afterwards, I saw Governor
Pownalls Treatise upon this Subject.
March 1. 1778. Sunday.
It was discovered that our Mainmast was sprung in two Places; one beneath
the Maindeck, where, if the Mast had wholly failed in the late Storm it must
have torn up the Main deck, and the Ship must have foundered. This was one
among many instances in which it had already appeared that our Safety had not
depended on ourselves. We had a fine Wind all day and night. The Ship was quiet
and still; no disturbance, little noise; but the Velocity of our Motion was so
great as to cause some Seasickness. My desire and Advice was to carry less Sail
especially of nights, and at all times when We should not be in chace.
March 2. Monday. 1778.
A fine Wind still and a pleasant morning. The Colour of the Water which was green, not blue as it had been
for many days past, the appearance of large flocks of Gulls, and various other
birds convinced many of the Gentlemen, that We were not far from the grand Bank
Newfoundland. The Captain however thought it thirty five Leagues
to the North West of Us. Our Mast was the day before repaired with two large
fishes, as they call them, that is to say large Oaken Planks cutt for the purpose, and put on. The Mast seems now to be
firm. The Sailors were however very superstitious; they said the Ship had been
so unfortunate, that they believed some Woman was on board. Women they said
were the unluckyest Creatures in the World at Sea.
This Evening the Wind was very fresh and the Ship sailed at a great rate. I
hoped We were out of the reach of the Gulph Stream and
of British Cruisers, two Objects and Evils to which I had a strong Aversion.
But my Exultation was too hasty. Other Storms and other Cruisers awaited Us,
not much less formidable than those We had escaped.
March 3. Tuesday. 1778.
Our Wind had continued brisk and fresh all the last night and this morning.
Our Course was about North East. Showers fell in the night and in the morning.
The Flocks of Gulls still pursued Us. This morning Captain
Parison breakfasted with Us. Our Captain was in high Spirits and very
gay, chattering in French, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Dutch, Latin and Greek
and boasting that he could speak some Words in every Language. He told Us,
besides that he had ordered two more Fishes upon the Mainmast to cover the
flaws above Deck. This Mast was very large and strong, and thought to be one of
the best Sticks that our Country aforded: but it had been very roughly handled
by the Lightening and the Storm, and dangerously injured.
The Captain, Lieutenants, Master, Mates, and Midshipmen, were now making
their calculations to discover their Longitude, but I conjectured they would be
The Life I lead was a dull Scne to me -- No
Business, no Pleasure, No Reading, no Study. Our little World was all wet and
damp. There was nothing I could eat or drink, without nauseating. We had no
Spirits for Conversation, nor any thing about which to converse. We saw nothing
but Sky, Clouds and Sea, and then Seas, Clouds and Skies. I had often heard of
Learning a Language, as English or French for example, on a Passage: but I
believed very little of any thing was ever learned at Sea. There must be more
health and better Accommodations. My young Friend Mr. Vernon
had never had the least qualm of Sea Sickness since We came on board. I advised
him to begin the Study of the French Tongue, methodically by reading the
Grammar through. He began it accordingly.
March 4. Wednesday. 1778.
The Weather was fair, but We had an adverse Wind from the North East, which
obliged us to go to the Southward of the South East, which was out of our
Course. Our general intention was to make for
Nantes, one of the most commercial Cities of
France, which I was very anxious to see, not only on Account of
its Wealth and Antiquity, and the Connection of its Merchants with those of
Bilbao, but also as the Scne of the Edict of
Nantes proclaimed by Henry the fourth in 1598
so much to the honour and Interest of Humanity, and
revoked by Louis the 14th. in 1685 so much to its disgrace and
March 5. Thursday 1778.
This morning We had the pleasantest prospect
We had yet seen. An
easy breeze from the Southward, gave Us an Opportunity of keeping our true
course. With a soft, clear, warm Air, a fair Sun and no Sea, We had a great
number of Sails spread, and went at the rate of nine Knots; yet the Ship had no
perceptible motion and made no noise. My little
was very proud of his Knowledge of all the Sails, and the
Captain put him upon learning the Mariners Compass. I was ardently wishing that
We might make Prize of an English Vessell
, lately from
London, with all the Newspapers and Magazines on board, that We
might obtain the latest Intelligence and discover the plan of Operations for
the ensuing Campaign in
America. I was impatient to arrive in some Port or other,
Spain, that I might make Inquiries concerning the designs of the
Enemy, what Force they meant to send to
America; where they were to procure Men; what was the State of
the British nation; what the State of Parties; what the State of Finances and
of Stocks; what Supplies of Cloathing, Arms, Ammunition &c. were gone
to America during the past Winter; The State of American Credit
France; what remittances had been made from
America in Tobacco, Rice, Indigo or any other Articles; The
Europe, particularly of
Spain; what were the real designs of those Courts; what the
condition of their Finances; what the State of their Armies, and especially of
their fleets; what number of Ships they had, fitted for Sea; what their names,
number of Men and Guns, Weight of Metal &c.; where they lay; the
probability or improbability of a War, and the causes and reasons for and
against each Supposition. I wanted to be employed in collecting and
transmitting to Congress all the Information I could find upon these and all
other points, which it might be Usefull
for them to
know, but the time was not yet come.
We were now supposed to be nearly in the Latitude of
Cape Finisterre so that We had only to sail an Easterly course.
Every one knows that this Cape and City of the same name, are the most westerly
part not only of the
Kingdom of Gallicia and of
Spain but of all
Europe, and therefore was called by the Ancients, who knew no
other country, The End of the World.
We enjoyed, through the whole of this day, the clearest Horrison, the softest Weather, the smoothest Sea, and the
best Wind, which We had ever found since We came on board. All Sails were
spread and We went, ten Knots upon an Avarage the whole day.
March 6. Fryday.
The Wind had continued in the same point all night; about South, and We had
gone nine Knots upon an Avarage.
This was great favour
Many Years before I had accidentally purchased an Edition of
Molieres Commedies in ten or twelve Volumes, with an English
translation on the page opposite to the French. I had never made any Use of the
French part untill I found myself destined to go to
France. From that time I had compared the French and English
together as well as I could, and now I had an Opportunity to apply myself, to
the Study of the Language, which I did very closely as often as Winds and Seas
and British Men of War would permit. But these Halcyon days were soon at an
We passed to the Northward of the Western Islands and were now supposed to
be as near them as We should be at any time.
March 7. Saturday. 1778.
The same prosperous Wind and the same beautifull Weather continued. We proceeded on our course
about two hundred miles in twenty four hours. We had passed all the dangers of
the American Coast; those of the
Bay of Biscay and those of the Coast of France,
and as it happened those of the English Channel remained to be encountered.
Yesterday the Ship had been all in an Uproar, with laughter. The Boatswains
Mate asked one of the Officers if they might have a little Sport. The Answer
was Yes. Jere accordingly, with the Old Sailors, proposed to
build a Galley, and all the green hands to the Number of twenty or thirty were
taken in, and suffered themselves to be tied together by their Legs. When, all
on a sudden,Jere, and his knowing ones, were found, handing
bucketts of Water over the Sides, and pouring them upon the poor Dupes till
they were wet to the Skin. The Behaviour of the
Gullies, their passions, Speeches and countenances, were diverting enough. So
much for Jere's fun. This frolick I
suppose, according to the Sailors reasoning was to conjure up a Prize.
This morning the Captain ordered all hands upon Deck, and took an Account of
the Number of Souls on board, who amounted to one hundred and seventy two. Then
the Articles of War were read to them. Then he ordered all hands upon the
Forecastle, and then upon the Quarter Deck, to determine by Experiments whether
any difference was made in the Sailing of the Ship, by the Weight of the Men
when forward, or Aft. Then all hands were ordered to their Quarters to exercise
them at the Guns. Mr. Barron gave the Words of command and
they spent an hour at their exercise in which they appeared to be tolerably
expert. After this a dance was ordered by the Captain upon the main Deck, and
all hands, Negroes, Boys and Men were obliged to join in it.... When this was
over the Old Sailors sett on foot another game, which
they called The Miller. I will not spend time to describe this odd
Scne: but it