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White Wings Vol II. Founding Of The Provinces And Old-Time Shipping. Passenger Ships From 1840 To 1885

"Snowball" Defaults

"Snowball" Defaults.

"Friday, July 1. We intimated to our dancing partners this forenoon that we intended to have a dance in the evening, and after getting our young friends mustered we found that Snowball, our black cook, who fiddles to us, had got grog and was in an unfit state to appear at the dancing ball. We according had no other shift but have a singing concert.

"Saturday, July 2. This morning we had porridge and milk at breakfast. They were very nice, and I expressed a wish that they might be continued. In the evening we had good sport at the game called Blind Man's Buff, singing afterwards."

(The Scots often speak of porridge in the plural. It seems odd to speak of milk when the ship had been so long at sea, but we must remember that the vessels in those days used to carry a cow. This page 37 particular animal was looked after by a maid who appears in a rather lively incident in the diary, later on.)

"Sunday, July 3. We are not making more than 1 mile an hour. We have made a very long passage, only about 800 miles in 14 days. The captain has lost all hope of making up to the Duchess of Argyle. Another week has now passed. I may say that I have enjoyed myself as well as in any week I ever did in my life. The doctor officiated to-day as usual in the forenoon in the English service, and Mr. McNair read a sermon in the afternoon. In the evening the captain intimated to us that Mr. Culpan was going to preach to us. Mr. C. is a most astonishing man. He gave us as good a sermon as I ever heard, and has rather taken the shine out of both the doctor and the schoolmaster. We may expect a sermon from him every Sunday after this."

(This Mr. Culpan was grandfather of the late Mr. W. Culpan, of Auckland, who was such a strong supporter of the Old Colonists' Association, which every year celebrates the anniversary of the arrival of the Jane and the Duchess.)

"Monday, July 4. There are a good many more cases of measles. The hospital is right under the cabin stores, which is a little disagreeable …. We passed a vessel pretty close to-day. The captain hoisted his flag, and they soon returned the compliment, but it was Spanish and on that account we did not converse with them. Half an hour afterwards another one came in sight. As soon as one comes in sight we all get on deck to get a peep through the captain's prospect glass. This vessel came very near us, but when we raised the British flag they raised the Spanish one, which disappointed us very much. They marked the latitude on the side of their vessel, and we did the same, there being nearly a degree of difference between our calculations. This vessel seemed to be laden with fruit. If we had been becalmed as we were the other day it is most likely we should have boarded her… I had a letter prepared in case of a chance of getting it on board."

"Wednesday, July 6.—We have had a nice breeze to-day of favourable wind, and it is supposed by the sailors that we have got into the Trade Winds … Singing sacred music this evening… There was a battle betwixt two married women to-day in the hold. They were turned up on deck to fight it out. One was not SO bold as the other, and it ended after an hour's scolding, not of the most refined description. There are some of them the filthiest class of people I ever beheld."

"Friday, July 8.—To-day the steward brought all the beds and bed-clothes up on the poop to dry. While they were spread out on deck one of the 'prentice sailors went to the mizzen cross-trees with a panful of grease and carefully let it fall; my pillow being right under got a good share. The captain ordered the poor fellow down, and took a piece of rope and flogged him most shamefully. However, I believe it is his duty. There are about seven apprentices, and if the captain were not to show a good example they would soon get the upper hand."

page 38

"Monday, July 11.—There is a man on board tattooed after the same style as the Maoris. He was nine years in New Zealand, and has married an English wife merely to get out, as a single man could not easily get a free passage. Last night they quarrelled among themselves, and he told her plainly his object for marrying her, and that he has a wife in New Zealand."

"Tuesday, July 12.—Last night another case of quarrelling broke out betwixt a man and his wife. They were only married a couple of days before the ship sailed. He says he is a Socialist, and as soon as he gets to New Zealand his creed frees him from any future engagement, and he will leave her. There are a few more cases of similar quarrelling; for instance, two young girls got married a day or two previous to the sailing of the vessel, and about the second or third day afterwards they quarrelled, and have not since spoken to their husbands. The two girls sleep in one berth; I am sure one is not more than thirteen years of age."