Saturday 23 July 1836

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

Saturday the 23rd Harriet is now quite well; for the last two or three days she has enjoyed herself both on the deck and at table; she moreover sleeps well. The complaint she thinks was a bilious attack which might have annoyed her nearly as much if she had been on shore,  but she questions if it would not have been shortened if calomel had been more fully administered at the beginning.

Yesterday we entered the torrid zone; the heat however is not at all oppressive to any of the party. The thermometer in my cabin is generally 78o, but the thorough draft which we manage at almost all times to keep up, renders the temperature agreeable.

Some of the passengers in the intermediate cabin last week manifested discontent, and put up on their hatchway an impertinent notice. Excited by Mr Thomas, the agitator of the ship, one complained of the bread, another of the beef, another of the wine;  indeed each had some one complaint to make, but, rather a subject for marvel, no two agreed on the same complaint. On investigation the bread which was declared unfit for use, was the brown bread which I preferred to the best white biscuit provided for the cabin; the salt provisions I had requested Capn Duff to place constantly upon our table and it was partaken of and enjoyed by all our party; the wine was declared by Brown (a good judge) to be excellent, and the same as we drank in the cabin. On my assuring the gentlemen of these facts, the complaint turned on the price paid for their passage and at length it was insinuated that I had chartered the vessel and was making money out of them. My positive denial of having any greater interest in the ship than any passenger on board appeared to satisfy the malcontents, who now said the cook was to blame – he had been insolent, and so on. This the Captain promised to see into, and thus the grievous matter ended. Mr & Mrs Thomas however still preserve dignified silence, though all the rest appear to have forgotten their fancied wrongs.

Seeing that the ill-humour was produced by idleness or ennui it occurred to me that it would be well to get up some general amusement, and I consequently proposed to enrol a body of volunteers to be drilled. Fortunately I found on board a man who had been a soldier in the peninsular war, Mr Wickham, and after a little persuasion he agreed to spend half an hour a day with us for the purpose. On Wednesday last therefore we commenced the platoon exercise; our first party was eight, the next day twelve and at this number our corps appears for the present likely to remain. It is true, sometimes we do not keep very good step in consequence of the motion of the ship, and sometimes a lurch in marching at ordinary time, causes a double quick movement to the rear; but this is all accounted a good joke, and thus the chief end is attained. I am full private in the corps, and four of the intermediate passengers are also enrolled.

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