Wednesday 24 August 1836

[, on board the wrote.]

I mentioned yesterday that our allowance of water had been reduced, but last night the surgeon, conceiving that it was a scheme to avoid, if possible, stopping at the Cape of Good Hope, which would have been a great disappointment to many of the passengers (ourselves among others, for we were not only desirous of seeing the Cape, but wished to purchase some articles there which might be useful to us), urged the steerage passengers to send a letter to Mr. Brown, who, being agent for the emigrants sent out by the Commissioners, was bound to see that the terms stipulated by them were strictly fulfilled. One of these was that each person should be supplied with three quarts of water per diem. In consequence of this we again had our full quantity. In the state cabin, I believe, there was no restriction, but though all the intermediate passengers paid handsomely for their passages, our own costing us nearly two hundred pounds, in respect to supplies of every description we were no better off than the steerage passengers, and even they ought to have had better provisions than were often served to us.

Another frequent cause of complaint was the difficulty in getting anything cooked, and if it had not been for our man, Windebank, looking after us, I think that sometimes we would have gone without our dinner. We did once, through a mishap of his, for he generally brought it to us. Holding a dish containing a piece of beef over the bulwarks to drain off the water he let it slip overboard. So the sharks had our dinner, and there was no help for it but to eat hard biscuit and still harder cheese with some boiled rice that we happened to have amongst our own provisions.

These were matters, however, that never troubled me much, as I did not expect to meet with many luxuries on board of ship. I was quite satisfied if I could obtain that which was wholesome though ever so plain, but Mr. Thomas could never relish the biscuits, and no wonder, for they were the most common that could be made. We had a large cask of biscuits on board of a superior kind, but as they were in the hold, of course we could not get at them. Moreover, with other provisions, of which we brought a six months’ supply, they were to be reserved until our landing, and the more especially as we were told that the intermediate passengers would fare the same as those of the state cabin. Instead of this we were placed on a level with the steerage, which occasioned continued grumbling, particularly among the gentlemen. Our annoyance, however, began when we first went on board, for we naturally expected to be supplied at once with such fare as the ship afforded, and asked for it accordingly. We were coolly told that the stores could not be opened till we had left the precincts of London, and when we inquired what we were to do in the meantime the answer from the mate was,” You must do as you can.” So if it had not been for some cakes that I had made for the children and a few other things with which we had fortunately provided ourselves, we would have been starved for the first week, having positively nothing but our own either to eat or drink.

The cook, taking compassion on us, offered to make us some tea, which offer, for the sake of the children, I accepted, but the sight of it was quite sufficient without its nauseous taste, for it was as black as soot, and, as we afterwards found, he had boiled tea and sugar all together in a large pot, not over-clean, and this, brought to us in a tin can, was, of course, left untouched. Having at length procured some fresh water, we managed as well as we could, with some wine of our own, but Mr. Thomas declared that such unwarrantable conduct should be represented in London. When he applied for our passage in the Africaine he meant to have after-cabins, but they were all engaged, chiefly by Government officers. Even the surgeon and his wife had their sleeping-cabins in the intermediate opposite to ours, though they messed in the state cabin. As I before observed, we were assured that no other difference would be made. As it happened, however, we preferred being to ourselves, on account of the children, besides which I afterwards saw other reasons for not in the least regretting that we were not among the number of the cabin passengers. Here I may mention that the steerage passengers were served with rations from the time they went on board. Our own men being located in that part of the vessel, in consequence of the money Mr. Thomas had paid for land in the new settlement, with those sent out under the Commission, had plenty to eat and drink. On the other hand, we were compelled to wait till certain rules with which we were unacquainted, or the mate’s caprice, I know not which, allowed the stores to be opened, and necessaries supplied to us, for which we had so liberally paid beforehand. But some others, who, like ourselves, were not aware of such regulations, and had not provided themselves with what they naturally expected would be provided for them, had no recourse but again to go on shore and there remain until the final sailing of the ship.

Share this page:

Comments or Questions:

No comments yet.