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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. - o: * - * *
“October I. 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.
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“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 Joad de Lima of Saô 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
afterwards that balsam-capivi is liable to spontaneous combustion by the constant motion on a voyage, and it is for that reason that it is always carried in small kegs and imbedded in damp sand in the lowest part of the hold. Captain Turner had never carried any before, and knew nothing of its properties, and when at the last moment another boat-load of small kegs of balsam came with no sand to pack them in, he used rice-chaff which was at hand, and which he thought would do as well ; and this lot was stored under the cabin floor, where the flames first burst through and where the fire, no doubt, originated. Captain Turner had evidently had no experience of fire in a ship's cargo, and took quite the wrong way in the attempt to deal with it. By opening the hatchways to pour in water he admitted an abundance of air, and this was what changed a smouldering heat into actual fire. If he had at once set all hands at work caulking up every crack through which smoke came out, making the hatchways also air-tight by nailing tarpaulines over them, no flame could have been produced, or could have spread far, and the heat due to the decomposition of the balsam would have been gradually diffused through the cargo, and in all probability have done no harm. A few years later a relative of mine returning home from Australia had a somewhat similar experience, in which the captain adopted this plan and saved the ship. When in the Indian Ocean some portion of the cargo was found to be on fire, by smoke coming out as in our case. But the captain immediately made all hatches and bulkheads airtight; then had the boats got out and prepared for the worst, towing them astern ; but he reached Mauritius in safety, and was there able to extinguish the fire and save the greater part of the cargo. On the receipt of my letter Dr. Spruce, who was then, I think, somewhere on the Rio Negro or Uaupés, wrote to the “Joao de Lima,” referred to by me (and usually mentioned in my “Travels” as Senhor L.), giving him a short account of my voyage home; and a few months later he received a reply from him. He was a Portuguese trader who had been many years resident in the upper Rio Negro, on whose boat I took a passage for my first voyage up the river, and with whom I lived a long time at Guia. I also went with him on my first voyage up the river Uaupés. He was a fairly educated man, and had an inexhaustible fund of anecdotes of his early life in Portugal, and would also relate many “old-time” stories, usually of the grossest kind, somewhat in the style of Rabelais, or of Chaucer's coarsest Canterbury tales. Old Jeronymo was a quiet old man, a half-bred Indian, or Mameluco as they were called, who lived with Senhor Lima as a humble dependent, assisting him in his business and making himself generally useful. It was these two who were with me during my terrible fever, and who one night gave me up as certain not to live till morning. Dr. Spruce gave me this letter, and as it mainly refers to me, I will here give a nearly literal translation of it.
“San Joaquim, June 7, 1853.
“ILLUSTRISSIMO SENHOR RICARDO SPRUCE, “I received your greatly esteemed favour dated the 26th April last, and was rejoiced to hear of your honour's health and all the news that you give me, and I was much grieved at the misfortunes which befell our good friend Alfredo ! My dear Senhor Spruce, what labours he performed for mankind, and what trouble to lose all his work of four years; but yet his life is saved, and that is the most precious for a man I Do me the favour, when you write to Senhor Alfredo, to give my kind remembrances. The mother of my children also begs you to give her remembrances to Senhor Alfredo, also tell him from me that if he ever comes to these parts again he will find that I shall be to him the same Lima as before, and give him more remembrances from the bottom of my heart, and also to yourself, from “Yours, with much affection and respect, “JoAö ANTONIO DE LIMA.
“N.B.-Old Jeronymo also asks you to remember him to Senhor Alfredo, and to tell him that he still has the shirt