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Fancy your regrets had you lost all your Pyrenean mosses on your voyage home, or should you now lose all your South American collection, and you will have some idea of what I suffer. But besides this, I have lost a number of sketches, drawings, notes, and observations on natural history, besides the three most interesting years of my journal, the whole of which, unlike any pecuniary loss, can never be replaced ; so you will see that I have some need of philosophic resignation to bear my fate with patience and equanimity.
"Day after day we continued in the boats. The winds changed, blowing dead from the point to which we wanted to go. We were scorched by the sun, my hands, nose, and ears being completely skinned, and were drenched continually by the seas or spray. We were therefore almost constantly wet, and had no comfort and little sleep at night. Our meals consisted of raw pork and biscuit, with a little preserved meat or carrots once a day, which was a great luxury, and a short allowance of water, which left us as thirsty as before directly after we had drunk it. Ten days and ten nights we spent in this manner. We were still two hundred miles from Bermuda, when in the afternoon a vessel was seen, and by eight in the evening we were on board her, much rejoiced to have escaped a death on the wide ocean, whence none would have come to tell the tale. The ship was the Fordeson, bound for London, and proves to be one of the slowest old ships going. With a favourable wind and all sail set, she seldom does more than five knots, her average being two or three, so that we have had a most tedious time of it, and even now cannot calculate with any certainty as to when we shall arrive. Besides this, she was rather short of provisions, and as our arrival exactly doubled her crew, we were all obliged to be put on strict allowance of bread, meat, and water. A little ham and butter of the captain's were soon used up, and we have been now for some time on the poorest of fare. We have no suet, butter, or raisins with which to make 'duff,' or even molasses, and barely enough sugar to sweeten our tea or coffee, which we take with dry, coarse biscuit, and for dinner, beef or pork of the very worst quality I have ever eaten or even imagined to exist. This, repeated day after day without any variation, beats even Rio Negro fare, rough though it often was. About a week after we were picked up we spoke and boarded an outward-bound ship, and got from her some biscuits, a few potatoes, and some salt cod, which were a great improvement, but did not last long. We have also occasionally caught some dolphin and a few fish resembling the acarrás of the Rio Negro; but for some time now we have seen none, so that I am looking forward to the 'flesh-pots of Egypt' with as much pleasure as when we were luxuriating daily on farinha and 'fiel amigo.'' While we were in the boats we had generally fine weather, though with a few days and nights squally and with a heavy sea, which made me often tremble for our safety, as we heeled over till the water poured in over the boat's side. We had almost despaired of seeing any vessel, our circle of vision being so limited; but we had great hopes of reaching Bermuda, though it is doubtful if we should have done so, the neighbourhood of those islands being noted for sudden squalls and hurricanes, and it was the time of year when the hurricanes most frequently occur. Having never seen a great gale or storm at sea, I had some desire to witness the phenomenon, and have now been completely gratified. The first we had about a fortnight ago. In the morning there was a strong breeze and the barometer had fallen nearly half an inch during the night and continued sinking, so the captain commenced taking in sail, and while getting in the royals and studdingsails, the wind increased so as to split the mainsail, fore-topsail, fore-trysail, and jib, and it was some hours before they could be got off her, and the main-topsail and fore-sail double reefed. We then went flying along, the whole ocean a mass of boiling foam, the crests of the waves being carried in spray over our decks. The sea did not get up immediately, but by night it was very rough, the ship plunging and rolling most fearfully, the sea pouring in a deluge over the top of her bulwarks, and sometimes up over the cabin skylight. The next
· This was the name given by our kind host, Señor Henrique, at Barra to dried pirarucú, meaning “ faithful friend," always at hand when other food failed.
morning the wind abated, but the ship, which is a very old one, took in a deal of water, and the pumps were kept going nearly the whole day to keep her dry. During this gale the wind went completely round the compass, and then settled nearly due east, where it pertinaciously continued for twelve days, keeping us tacking about, and making less than forty miles a day against it. Three days ago we had another gale, more severe than the former one-a regular equinoctial, which lasted two entire days and nights, and split one of the newest and strongest sails on the ship. The rolling and plunging were fearful, the bowsprit going completely under water, and the ship being very heavily laden with mahogany, fustic, and other heavy woods from Cuba, strained and creaked tremendously, and leaked to that extent that the pumps were obliged to be kept constantly going, and their continued click-clack, click-clack all through the night was a most disagreeable and nervous sound. One day no fire could be made owing to the sea breaking continually into the galley, so we had to eat a biscuit for our dinner; and not a moment's rest was to be had, as we were obliged to be constantly holding on, whether standing, sitting, or lying, to prevent being pitched about by the violent plunges and lurches of the vessel. The gale, however, has now happily passed, and we have a fine breeze from the north-west, which is taking us along six or seven knots--quicker than we have ever gone yet. Among our other disagreeables here we have no fresh water to spare for washing, and as I only saved a couple of shirts, they are in a state of most uncomfortable dirtiness, but I console myself with the thoughts of a glorious warm bath when I get on shore.
“ October 1. Oh, glorious day! Here we are on shore at Deal, where the ship is at anchor. Such a dinner, with our two captains! Oh, beef-steaks and damson tart, a paradise for hungry sinners.
" October 5, London. Here I am laid up with swelled ankles, my legs not being able to stand work after such a long rest in the ship. I cannot write now at any length_I have too much to think about. We had a narrow escape in the Channel. Many vessels were lost in a storm on the night of September 29, but we escaped. The old 'Iron Duke'is dead. The Crystal Palace is being pulled down, and is being rebuilt on a larger and improved plan by a company. Loddige's collection of plants has been bought entire to stock it, and they think by heating it in the centre to get a gradation of climates, so as to be able to have the plants of different countries, tropical or temperate, in one undivided building. This is Paxton's plan.
"How I begin to envy you in that glorious country where 'the sun shines for ever unchangeably bright,' where farinha abounds, and of bananas and plantains there is no lack ! Fifty times since I left Para have I vowed, if I once reached England, never to trust myself more on the ocean. But good resolutions soon fade, and I am already only doubtful whether the Andes or the Philippines are to be the scene of my next wanderings. However, for six months I am a fixture here in London, as I am determined to make up for lost time by enjoying myself as much as possible for awhile. I am fortunate in having about £200 insured by Mr. Stevens' foresight, so I must be contented, though it is very hard to have nothing to show of what I took so much pains to procure.
“I trust you are well and successful. Kind remembrances to everybody, everywhere, and particularly to the respectable Senhor Joaõ de Lima of Sao Joachim.
“Your very sincere friend,
“ALFRED R. WALLACE.”
Some of the most alarming incidents, to a landsman, are not mentioned either in this letter or in my published “Narrative.” The captain had given the only berths in the cabin to Captain Turner and myself, he sleeping on a sofa in fine weather, and on a mattress on the floor of the cabin when rough. On the worst night of the storm I saw him, to my surprise, bring down an axe and lay it beside him, and on asking what it was for, he replied, “To cut away the masts in case we capsize in the night.” In the middle of the night a great sea smashed our skylight and poured in a deluge of water, soaking the poor captain, and then slushing from side to side with every roll of the ship. Now, I thought, our time is come; and I expected to see the captain rush up on deck with his axe. But he only swore a good deal, sought out a dry coat and blanket, and then lay down on the sofa as if nothing had happened. So I was a little reassured.
Not less alarming was the circumstance of the crew coming aft in a body to say that the forecastle was uninhabitable as it was constantly wet, and several of them brought handfuls of wet rotten wood which they could pull out in many places. This happened soon after the first gale began ; so the two captains and I went to look, and we saw sprays and squirts of water coming in at the joints in numerous places, soaking almost all the men's berths, while here and there we could see the places where they had pulled out rotten wood with their fingers. The captain then had the sail-room amid-ships cleared out for the men to sleep in for the rest of the voyage.
One day in the height of the storm, when we were being flooded with spray and enormous waves were coming up behind us, Captain Turner and I were sitting on the poop in the driest place we could find, and, as a bigger wave than usual rolled under us and dashed over our sides, he said quietly to me, “If we are pooped by one of those waves we shall go to the bottom;" then added, “We were not very safe in our two small boats, but I had rather be back in them where we were picked up than in this rotten old tub." It is, therefore, I think, quite evident that we did have a very narrow escape. Yet this unseaworthy old ship, which ought to have been condemned years before, had actually taken Government stores out to Halifax, had there been patched up, and sent to Cuba for a cargo of heavy timber, which we were bringing home.
I may here make a few remarks on the cause of the fire, which at the time was quite a mystery to us. We learnt