3 pp, 8 x 10, signing with initials J.B.F.L. writes to
E.C. Spiney, from St. Pierre Martinique, Dec. 9, 1860. Our sea traveler explains that he had landed
in Callao [California] during the time of the Gold Rush, although he makes no
mention of it. As soon as he arrived
after having experienced a rough voyage that involved brawling, something very
typical at the time, he decided to turn around. He praises the election of
Abraham Lincoln and his Vice President Hannibal Hamlin, celebrating with white
and red wine. His description of his
experience provide a fine narrative of 19th century ship travel with
all of its problems.
“…Ephriam, I have had a very unpleasant voyage both at sea and in port…When I came on to New York to join the ship, I expected to go as a sailor. The apt. told the mate to make me Third mate. When the mate spoke to me about it, I told him I did not think I was qualified, but he said I must. Things went on very well for two or three weeks. Then a … bullheaded 2d mate we have got began to get plans of me and you know that I do not stand much fooling and the amount of it was he and I had a row and ever since he has been the cause of a continual brawl. When I got to San Francisco, I could [have] left but I would not let him think that he drove me out of the ship but I have wished a hundred times since that I had. He has lied to the Capt about me every time he could…and I did not know it…When I got to Callao, I made up my mind to leave. I went on board of the Morning Glory and agreed to go 2d mate of here. Before this, the Capt. & I had some words…and out of spite he would not let me leave when I got here. Capt. Fernald wrote me if I would come home…he would buy in a Bure and put me in first mate of her…I showed the old gray headed [man] the letters and he turned up his nose and said I have tot to stay by the ship until she got to New York and it is all caused by the 2d mate. These are two men that I will either lick or they shall me – that is the Capt and 2d mate. We have had very rough passage. We had a heavy gale…. We had two men lost overboard, one was Charles Perry. The other was E.P. Hackett, both of Portsmouth. Well…since I heard of Lincoln’s election I have a bottle of white wine on one side of my bunk and red on the other. Then, I will drink and dream of Lincoln & Hamlin.
“We have got you now, E.C. right where the wool is short…”
Folds, toning, but very readable and a fine first-hand example of nautical Americana.
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