1778. Feb. 26
that in the last War between France and England, (the War of 1755. to 1763) he had been in the East Indies in the Garrison of Pondicherry, when that place was besieged by the English, and was finally taken Prisoner, and during his Siege and Captivity had been exposed to every danger, distress and hardship that human nature could endure. Since he had escaped from them all, when he found himself in any perplexity he had only to recollect his former misfortunes and every thing appeared to him a trifle in comparison with them. The Story was circulated among the Men and became generally understood. On one of the nights of our Hurricane, the French Officers and Men had got together in the Cabin under the Stern, and covering themselves in Blanketts as well as they could, endeavoured to get a little Sleep, when an enormous Sea broke upon the Stern, stove in the dead lights, and washed the Frenchmen forward as far as they could go. The first Voice I that was heard was Patience! Pondicherry! thundered out by Captain Parison, as loud as he could cry, half drowned as he was in the Water, and it had such an Effect upon his Countrymen, as soon as they got their breath, as to revive their national Gaiety and they all broke out into a loud laugh, which, in spight of all that was dismal and terrible in the Sc ne, sett us all a laughing. It was the Opinion of our Officers, and of Captain McIntosh, whom We took Prisoner soon afterwards, that We shipped from that Wave two hundred Tons of Water.
It was a vast Satisfaction to me to recollect, that I had been perfectly calm and collected during the whole of the late Chases and Tempests. I found by the Opinion of all the People on board, as well as that of the Captain and all the Officers that We had been in great danger, and of this I had all along been very certain by my own Observation, but I thought myself in the Way of my duty, and I did not for one moment repent of my Voyage. I often regrettedhowever
that I had brought my Son
with me. I was not so clear that it had been my duty to expose him as well as myself: but I had been led to it, by his Inclination and by the Advice of all his Friends. The Childs Behaviour
gave me a Satisfaction, that I cannot express. Fully sensible of our Danger, he was constantly endeavouring to bear up under it with a manly courage and patience, very attentive to me, and his thoughts always running in a serious Strain. In this he was not singular, for I found that Seamen have their religion as well as Landsmen, and that Sailors, as Corporal Trim said of Soldiers, have sometimes more pressing motives to Prayer than the Clergy. I believe there was not a Soul on board, who was wholly thoughtless of a Divinity. I more than once heard our Captain, who was no Fanatic, on stepping into his Cott
, towards morning, offering up his Prayers
to his God, when he had no Suspicion that any one heard him,and
in a very low but audible Voice, devoutly imploring the Protection of Heaven for the Ship, and the preservation of himself, his officers, Passengers and Men.
I had made many Observations in the late bad Weather, some of which I should not have thought it prudent to put in Writing if I could have kept a regular journal. A few of them however may be recalled in this place
place. I. I had seen the inexpressible Inconvenience, of having so small a Space between the Decks as there was in the Boston. As the main deck was almost constantly under Water, the Sea rolling in and out of the Ports and Scuppers, We were obliged to keep the Hatchways down. The Air consequently became so hot and foul in the 'Tween Decks, as they call it, that for my own part I could not breath or live there; yet the Water would pour down, whenever an Hatchway was opened, so that all was afloat. 2. The Boston was overmetaled. The Number of her Guns, and the Weight of their metal, was too great for her tonnage. She had five twelve Pounders, and nineteen nines. We were obliged to sail, day and night, during a Chace, with the Guns out, in order to be ready for Battle, and this exposed Us to certain Inconvenience, and very great danger. They made the Ship labour
and roll, to such a degree as to oblige Us to keep the Chain pumps as well as the hand pumps almost constantly going: besides, they wring and twist the Ship, in such a manner as to endanger the Starting of a Butt, and still more to endanger the Masts and Rigging. 3. The Ship was furnished with no Pistols. She ought to have had a variety and a large Number of these Or at least a Number of Setts
for the Officers, because, there is nothing but the dread of a Pistol, will keep many of the Men to their quarters, in time of Action. 4. The Frigate was not furnished with good Glasses, which appeared to me of very great consequence. Our Ships ought to [be]
supplied with the best glasses that Art affords: the expence
would be saved a thousand Ways. 5. There was I found, on board the Navy, the same general Inattention to conomy, that there was in the Army. 6. There was the same general relaxation of order and discipline. 7. There was the same inattention to the Sweetness of the Ship, and the Persons and Health of the Sailors, as there was at land of the Clean
Neatness of the Camp, and the health and cleanliness of the Soldiers. 8. The practice of profane cursing and Swearing, so silly as well as detestable prevailed in a most abominable degree. It was indulged and connived at in the Men,
and practised too, by Officers, in such a manner that there was no kind of Check, or discouragement to it. This may be
thought trivial, by some, but to me it appeared that order of every kind would be lax, as long as this scurvy Vice was so wholly unrestrained.
In this place it will not be impertinent to take notice of an absurd and pernicious report which was propagated in this Country during my Absence, I know not by whom nor for what End. Certainly it could be with no good design. It was that I had been convinced by my own Observation that in critical times at Sea, the Sailors could not be stimulated to sufficient Activity and Exertion, unless the Officers terrified them by these vulgar Oaths and Execrations. The Rumour was wholly without foundation. On the contrary I have often observed, that a dry Sarcasm, or an Arch Irony, has excited the Ambition,strength, Energy, Agility and Ingenuity of a Seaman more effectually, than any Oath I ever heard. If such vile Language ever has any effect upon the Men, it is only in the mouths of such Officers as are in the habit of speaking to them only in such a Style. They may possibly not think such an officer in earnest, when he does not Use his common Dialect. But this is more the fault of the Officer than of the Man. If he would mend his manners the man would soon understand him and reform his own. This report is however only a revival of a very ancient one. I have heard the same Story and the same insinuations of Dr. Sewall when I was very young, and of Dr. Cooper, when he sailed with Captain Hollowell in the Province Ship: and have no doubt they were as falsely imputed to them as they were to me.
This Morning Captain Tucker made me a present of Charlevoix's History of Paraguay and Dr. Noel put into my hand a Manual of Geography, containing a description of all the Countries of the World. These manuals come out annually, and certain are to be had in any of the great Towns in France.
February 27. Fryday. 1778.
A calm. As soft and warm as Summer. A Species of black Fish, which were called Beneaters, appeared about the Ship.
One source of the disorders in our Ship was a great irregularity in the meals. There ought to have been a well digested System, for eating, drinking and sleeping. At six all hands should have been called up. At Eight they should all breakfast. At one they should dine, and at Eight they should sup. It should have been penal for the Cook to fail of having his Victuals punctually, ready. This would have been much for the Health, comfort and Spirits of the Men, and would have greatly promoted the Business of the Ship. I was constantly giving hints to the Captain concerning Order, conomy and regularity. He seemed to be sensible of the necessity of them, and exerted himself to introduce them. He cleared out the 'Tween decks, ordered up the Hammocks to be aired, and ordered up the Sick, such at least as could bear it, upon Deck for sweet Air. That Ship would have bred the Plague
or the Goal fever, if there had not been great exertions after the Storm to wash, sweep, Air, and purify Cloaths
, Cabins, Hammocks, and all other things, places, and Persons. In the Morning I very seriously advised the Captain to reform his Cockpit. I said to him "if you intend to have any reputation for conomy, Discipline or any thing that is good, look into that Sc ne
." He went down, accordingly and ordered up every body from that Sink of Devastation, Putrefaction and Ruin. He ordered up the Hammocks and every thing else that could be removed, and that required to be aired and cleansed.
The Captain brought in a Curiosity, which he had drawn up, over the Side in a Buckett of Water, and which the Sailors call a Portuguese Man of War. We saw many of them sailing by the Ship. They had some Appearances of Life and Sensibility. They spread a curious Sail and are wafted along very briskly. They have something like Strings or twisted and knotted Cords, hanging down in the Water, which are said to be caustic and in some degree poisonous to human Flesh, or perhaps it may be electricity, which gives a shock upon the touch of them. The Hulk is like blue glass. This was a very small one in comparison of many We saw around Us. I pierced it, with the shap [sharp ]point of a Pennknife and found it empty. The Air came out and the Thing shrunk almost to nothing. Ten Years afterwards in the same Gulph in the Ship Lucretia Captain Callahan, I had a number of large ones brought on board, in the same Gulph Stream and found in them shell fishes growing of various Species, vizt. Cockles, Muscles, Scollops and large Clams.
February 28. Saturday. 1778.
The last night and this day We enjoyed a fine easy breeze, the Ship had no motions but directly forward. I slept as quietly and as soundly as in my own bed at home.... Some of the Gentlemen had given me some West India Nutts, and not knowing the caustic quality in the outward Shell I had broken them with my hands, and probably carelessly rubbed my face or my Eyes afterwards, and I found myself poisoned. My Eyes swelled and were enflamed to an alarming degree. Dr. Noel gave me a Phial of Balsamum Fioraventi which abated the inflammation and gave me some relief. It is very much compounded, very subtle and penetrating. Pour a few drops into the palm of your hand, rub it over the palm and fingers, then hold the inside of your hand before the Eyes, and the Steam which evaporates enters the Eyes and works them clear. The Balsam derives its name from the Italian Inventor of it. For two or three years afterwards, at the return of the Season, a similar inflammation in my Eyes and Swelling about them, returned with it, a fact the Solution of which as beyond the reach of my Skill, I leave to the Physicians.
The Ship was now in very good order, cleared and cleaned between Decks, on the main Deck, in the Cabin, and on the Quarter Deck: the Masts, Yards, Sails and rigging were all well repaired.