Saturday, April 10, 2010

Transcription: Mott Memoir, Part 9

For previous entries, click here.

The previous entry ends the "School" section of the memoir, this post begins "The Samoset" section.

"We left Boston on the 23rd of October 1847.  I had just passed my thirteenth birthday.  It was a clear bright day and we all remained on deck for awhile watching the sailors raise the anchor and hoist the sails.  Evy and I had never been on a ship before and everything was new and interesting, but when we came to the gulf stream the sea became became rough and the ship rolled so much most of the passengers were glad to seek the seclusion that a cabin grants.  The deck looked to me like the side of a house.  I remember clinging desperately to somebody who helped me down the companionway to our little stateroom.  Anne had made up the berths and laid out our night clothes and toilet articles and had done all she could to make us comfortable.  We undressed and crawled into our berths where we remained for several days.

While the passengers are groaning in their cabin it will be a good time to introduce the ship's company.  The Barque Samoset was a new vessel, this being her first trip, consequently she was very clean and there were no rats nor insects to trouble us.  She was commanded by Captain Hollis, a tall good looking man of gentlemanly appearance.  The Captains of the merchant sailing ships of that date were a very different class of men from those of the present time.  They were well educated and well mannered.  As there were few steamers, the sailing vessels often carried passengers and a brutal swearing, drunken Captain as they are portrayed in books and papers now could not have kept his position.

There were ten passengers besides ourselves, but all, even Captain Brewster were Strangers to us, but we were used to meeting different people on our vacations and were disposed to be friendly to everyone.  As we had always met with kindness, we naturally expected it now and we were not disappointed for our father could not have found a pleasanter, more kindly natured man than Uncle Charles as he told us to call him and we soon became so attached to him it seemed as if he were really our Uncle.  He was about fifty years old and lame from an accident that had injured his foot when a young man at sea.  He was part owner of the Samoset and had charge of the cargo.  His niece Miss Kate Pratt who accompanied him was a pleasant young lady of twenty-five of six.

There were five Missionaries, Mr. and Mrs. Atkinson, Mr. and Mrs. Kinney and Mr. Samuel Dwight.  Mr. and Mrs. Atkinson seemed rather superior to the others.  Mr. Atkinson was a tall handsome man with a well bred agreeable manner.  He was a graduate of an Eastern College and was going to Oregon.  He spent most of his time studying the Indian dialect.  His wife was a delicate interesting woman, not pretty, though she had beautiful black eyes, but with something so gentle and refined in her appearance I thought her charming.  Mrs. Kinney was a pretty young woman about twenty-five, very lively and good natured.  She and I became very good friends.  Mr. Kinney was so slow and dull I wondered how she came to marry him.

Mr. Dwight was a man between thirty-five and forty, rather small and delicate in appearance, he seemed some what interested in me and wanted me to read French History with him and sometimes when it was too wet to stay on deck I would sit with him and hear about the Revolution.  I was interested in that, but I could not understand French politics.

There were three young men, Mr. Stone who had been ill with rheumatic fever and was sent to sea to benefit his health and Mr. Bartlett a handsome boy about seventeen.  He was the only one of the passengers I did not like.  He used to tease me dreadfully at first, throwing cushions at me, pulling off my hair ribbons and in many other ways.  Uncle Charlie told me to keep away from him as much as I could and after awhile he left me alone.  The other young man, George Wood was half Hawaiian, with the dark skin and jet black hair of his mother's race, but his features were good and he was well dressed and well mannered.  He had been educated at an Eastern Boarding School and was returning to his native home.  One of my greatest friends was the first mate, Mr. Foote.  I wish I could draw a picture of this man, he was so homely he was almost grotesque he was not much taller than I was, his legs were very short but his shoulders and arms might have belonged to a good sized man.  He seemed to be made with steel springs for he could jump up to the bulwarks like a cat, his features were very plain and his black hair looked like bristles.  It seems strange that with my love of beauty I should have been so friendly with this man but somehow I did not mind his ugliness, he was very kind to me and I liked to be with him when it was his watch on deck.  He taught me the names of the sails and some of the ropes and to tell the time by the ship's bell.  Rough and common looking as he was, more like and ordinary sailor than an officer, he must have had the instincts of a gentleman for never when I was with him did he use profane language or say anything unfit for a girl to hear.

There was one member of the crew who looked so different from the other that he attracted the attention of the passengers.  He was extremely handsome with the appearance of a gentleman, quite young, about eighteen.  The Captain said his name was Benjamin F. Butler, he was the son of a well known Boston lawyer and having gotten into trouble at College his father had sent him to sea.  When there was so much said about General Benjamin F. Butler at the time of the Civil War I suppose that he was General Butler's son but I was told recently that General Butler had no son so I suppose this young man probably was his nephew, anyway he had the same name.

I think we have been in our berths long enough and it is time we came on deck.  I don't know how long it was, I was too sick to think of anything.  The ship rolled and pitched, the beams creaked, I felt like the girl in the song, "Oh' Mr. Captain stop the ship I want to get out and walk."

At last the rolling was not so bad, Uncle Charlie came to the door and said it was a fine day and if we came on deck the air would do us good.  With a great effort we dressed and crawled up the companionway to the Captain's cabin which opened on the deck and was a comfortable place with cushioned seats down each side below the windows, a table stood in the middle screwed to the floor as most of the furniture was.  Everything was spotless and shining.  Soon most of the invalids joined us.  We were a pale woe-begone set, but after we had eaten something we felt better and in a few days were quite recovered.  We soon became used to the motion of the ship so it no longer troubled us and could walk the deck even when it was like the side of a hill.  Sometimes when on the same tack for several days we would become used to that slope so when it was changed and the slant was the other way it was hard to balance at first.  When I heard the call "All hands 'bout ship," I liked to watch them though I had to keep out of the ways.  There was much running about, flapping of sails, pulling of ropes and shouting of orders until the change was made and everything ship shape again.  We had fine weather as we drew near the Tropics and I spent most of my time on deck.  Evy and Uncle Charlie became much attached to each other.  At times his lame foot was painful and he was obliged to lay down.  Evy would sit by him and read to him.  I think she loved him as if he were her father, she had never known her own and no father could have been kinder.  As he was one of the owners of the Samoset his state room was on the deck, opening off the cabin like the Captain's.  He also had his meals with the Captain.  The passengers berths and dining table were on the deck below where temporary accommodations had been arranged for the voyage to Honolulu were most of the passengers would leave the ship which would go on to China.  There eight little estate rooms, four in a row, back to back down the middle of the deck, near the stern.  Each one with two berths, a wash stand fastened to the floor.  A long bench with a cushioned top that opened like a trunk and seat combined.  There were no doors but heavy curtains across the door way.  A wide passage way went down each side with a large open space at the end where a long table was fastened to the floor.  When the colored steward, who waited on the passengers set the table for meals a wooden frame was put on, divided  into squares just large enough to hold a plate or dish.  A necessary precaution to prevent them from sliding about the table.  Our accommodations were not luxurious but they were clean and comfortable.  There was plenty of light from the port holes down the side and windows in the stern.  We used the Captain's cabin whenever we wished as a sitting room.  After we had been at sea for some time the Captain said we might meet homeward bound ships and we had letters ready so they could be sent.  We all began writing and not long after our letters were finished and made into a packet, a ship was sighted.  The weather was clear and the sea calm, the vessels approached each other as near as they could with safety and lay to.  The two Captains stood on the bulwarks and conversed with trumpets.  The stranger was an American ship bound for Boston.  Her Captain agreed to take charge of the letters which were sent on board and we went our separate ways."

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