Saturday 17 September 1836

[, on board the wrote. | Read source notes.]

September 17th No chance of reaching the Cape by Sunday; adverse winds have prevailed lately which are carrying us south of the Cape and will most probably oblige us to put in at Simon’s Bay instead of at Table Bay. Should this be the case, we shall have to travel 20 miles to Cape Town, thus occupying time which ought to be all expended in procuring the supplies we require forour comfort on arrival at South Australia. Moreover, our energetic captain has determined, it seems, to allow us no longer than 48 hours sojourn at either place. — The thermometer is now 57°, a degree of cold which affects both Harriet & myself very much, and unfortunately neither of us has made a provision for very cold weather. I now find that a coat and trousers of a much warmer kind than is commonly used in England would be desirable.—We are constantly surrounded by acquatic birds; of these the bird beforementioned and of which I have a specimen, is so far the most numerous, but the majestic albatross is by far the most attractive. The flight of this bird is remarkably elegant, taking a long sweep to the right and then another to the left, each performed by one motion of the wings, it seems to imitate the graceful movement of the skaiter. Five large ones were about the ship today at the same time, but none of them has yet seen fit to take the bait of our sportsmen.

I have purposely avoided making a memorandum of the conveniences of our cabin until I should have had time to test them practically; it is now more than ten weeks since we came on board, and considering the time sufficient to enable me to ascertain their relative worth, with a view to the guidance of others who may follow my steps, I shall now describe them and the cabin itself. The cabin I occupy is the larboard stern cabin, besides the two stern windows, there is a ventilator on the deck about three feet in diameter which however is divided between mine and the adjacent cabin. Thus I have a sufficiency of air and light for all purposes. But there is an advantage in the possession of a stern cabin far beyond that of ventilation or even abundance of light: viz. the power of abstracting oneself from the company of the rest of the passengers. In our case, the companion ladder is between the stern cabin and the cuddy, so that when the door is shut, it is impossible to hear the never ceasing conversation in which some of the party are sure to be engaged. To be alone is the greatest luxury which we enjoy on board; were I the occupant of a cabin adjacent to the cuddy, I verily believe, that instead of passing my time agreeably, I should be suffering from a brain fever caused by the continual din and noise of my worthy fellow passengers. Were the society throughout agreeable and intellectual, the conversation of such persons would occasionally tire; but it is not to be expected that a party meeting greatly by chance would all be of this kind, nor can all be expected to go through seasickness and other ship inconveniences without petulance or, perhaps, discord. From all this the stern cabin may be a refuge; if the ‘azure demons’ are tormenting, there is no occasion to annoy others; if others are similarly possessed, the stern cabin screens from them. At any rate we have found it a most delightful retreat; in proof of which I may truly say, that on an average I have not been more than four hours a day out of it, while Harriet has not been more than half that time. It is money well spent which purchases the stern cabin.

In the list of ‘cabin comforts’ a filter stands preeminent. The water on board the Africaine is I should think as good as is generally found in ships; but I, who however am to a great extent a water drinker, should much feel the want of this little machine. Mine was purchased of James in the Poultry, and filters very brightly. By way of protection it is enclosed in the wickerwork.—I have two cabin lamps, and one candlestick: they are all useful. The candle is enclosed in the candlestick, and is forced up to the socket with a spring, and the whole has a universal joint to accommodate itself to the motion of the ship. By this I write andread. The night lanthorn was bought of Miller in Piccadilly, and is convertible into a variety of purposes: it is a dark lanthorn, a hand lanthorn, a chaise lamp, & a night lamp. The other is a nursery lamp upon Davy’s principle, with a kettle and saucepans to fix on the top: this afforded Harriet during her illness at the commencement of the voyage excessive comfort; by its means in about fifteen minutes I have been able to supply her in the course of the night with a cup of tea or arrow root, things which could not have been obtained by any other means. The advantages of a cot have been already mentioned in the course of the journal, especially for persons of a weak constitution, and a few common medicines have been found very useful. I laid in no provisions of any kind, but trusted altogether to the honour of the owners; in this I have acted rightly, for there is every thing on board which any ship-owner could be expected to supply; it is a question, however, whether it would be prudent to act again upon this plan; at all events I would recommend a few things to be procured for use in the cabin, amongst which I would name the following articles: — half a dozen bottles of brandy of the best quality in case of sickness; some dried fruits (such as figs, almonds & raisins, prunes) by way of dessert, a luxury which of course the ship does not provide, but which becomes almost a necessary to health if the voyage is undertaken at a time of the year when potatoes will not keep; some of Gamble’s preserved provisions, especially mutton broth and vegetables in the smallest canisters; some of [?Lemsan’s] biscuits in tins; and one each of sago, arrow root, and prepared groats for gruel. If it should be considered necessary however to have a written contract with the owner or captain at all, the precaution shd extend to the supply of wine, spirits, beer and porter, fresh meat during the whole voyage, the quantity of water to be allowed for washing (we have each a pint a day), the extent of room allowed for luggage in the hold, and indeed relative to almost everything in which it is possible a rogue could cheat. Fortunately my opinion of those with whom I had to deal has been found correct, for I have no document to show for any part of our agreement except a receipt for my passage money.

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