Life of John Boyle O'Reilly/Chapter 5
Narrow Escape from a "Bad" Whale—He Feigns Suicide in Order to Avoid Recapture at Roderique—Transferred to the Sapphire off Cape of Good Hope—Arrival at Liverpool—Takes Passage for America—Lands at Philadelphia.
DR. JOHNSON, who knew little about jails and less about ships, said that "being in a ship is being in a jail with a chance of being drowned." To the man who had spent three years in penal servitude, the deck of the Gazelle was the illimitable world of freedom. Captain Gifford was a kindly man. In Henry Hathaway, O'Reilly found a loving friend and messmate, who gave the half of his little state-room and the whole of his big heart to the young Irishman. The friendship thus contracted on board the Gazelle lasted throughout life. On O'Reilly's part it was reinforced by an undying sense of gratitude for his freedom, twice conferred, and his life once saved, by the generous American sailor.
Hathaway had what, to a noble nature, is the best of reasons for loving O'Reilly, the right of a benefactor. He had helped him to escape from bondage, he was yet to protect him from recapture, and he had saved him from death itself.
Here is the story of the last-named good deed, as modestly told by Hathaway, and as I have heard it confirmed from the grateful lips of O'Reilly.
New Bedford, Mass., 1877.
BARK "GAZELLE," CAPT. GIFFORD. THE NEW BEDFORD WHALER THAT PICKED UP JOHN BOYLE O'REILLY OFF THE COAST OF WESTERN AUSTRALIA
better stay by the ship, but he insisted on going. I finally consented, and he went. Mr. Hussey, in another boat, struck the whale first. I noticed the whale, as soon as he struck him, make for Hussey's boat, but didn't think at the time he was a bad one. We then started for him, and just before we reached him he "settled," and the next thing I saw was his back close to our boat. I told Lambert, the boat-steerer, to "give it to him." As soon as he struck him the whale raised his flukes and struck our boat four successive times, knocking her to atoms. The first time he struck her he stove her badly, and she began to fill. I noticed O'Reilly's head drop as though he was hurt. The rest of the crew Jumped into the sea away from the boat, and clung to their oars; I clung to the stem part of the boat, that being the only piece left large enough to hold a man up; this, I think, was about ten feet long. I missed O'Reilly, and thought he must have drowned, as I knew he was hurt. When the whale left us the men swam back to the shattered boat. I remember saying, "O my God! where is Mr. O'Reilly?" and Bolter, who was close by my side, said, "There he is, on the other side, under water." I looked, and sure enough, there he was, about two feet from the surface of the water, bobbing up and down like a cork. I threw myself over, and by clinging to the broken keel with my left hand, reached him by the hair of the head with my right hand, and hauled him on the stoven boat. I thought then he was dead, as the froth was running from his nostrils and mouth; but a thought struck me, if he was dead he would have sunk: so I raised him up on my shoulder. As I lay on the side of the boat, with his stomach across my shoulder, I kept punching him as much as possible to get the salt water out of him. It was several hours before he realized anything, as the ship was about twelve miles from us to the windward, and we lay on the stoven boat a long time before we were picked up by Mr. Bryan, the fourth mate. The next day after this happened, as Mr. O'Reilly was lying in his bunk, suffering from the blow of the whale's flukes, he said, "Oh, Hathaway, why didn't you let me go?" I told him to keep quiet—that he would live to see better days; but he couldn't see it. We don't see far ahead, after all,—do we? The next time we saw whales he came to me and said he would like to go with me again. I told him, "No, he had got out of one scrape, and had better rest contented." But he insisted on going, and I consented, as he said he wanted revenge. We were lucky enough that day to get a good big fellow, and I think he had his revenge, as we minced him up pretty well. I think it was the death of that whale that suggested his poem of "The Amber Whale."
What Hathaway modestly omits from this narrative is the fact that, after bravely holding his friend so long above water, in that heavy sea, the terrible strain overcame him when relief arrived. He fainted away after seeing that O' Reilly was safe, and lay insensible for four hours.
Two months later the Gazelle put into the harbor of Eoderique, a small British island in the Indian Ocean, to take in a supply of fresh water. O'Reilly's escape had been telegraphed to that and other quarters. Just before sunset on the day of her arrival, a boat came alongside with the Governor of the island and a guard of police on board. Hathaway was on the ship's deck; beside him stood O'Reilly.
"Have you a man on board named John Boyle O'Reilly?" was the officer's first question. Hathaway knew nobody of that name, but, on the official's describing him, remembered that a man answering such a description, but named Brown, had been on board, and died two months before in the Straits of Sunda. "Brown" was the name by which O'Reilly went, on board the Gazelle.
The Governor thereupon demanded that the crew be mustered for inspection, and the men were accordingly drawn up in a row. One stowaway was promptly recognized as a fugitive from justice, and put under arrest, but the officers found nobody answering to the description of No. 9843. The convict Martin Bowman would have escaped, too, but for his own savage conduct. Ever since his arrival on the ship he had been the bully of the forecastle.
Among the sufferers from his brutality was a young English sailor who could not lose so good a chance of getting rid of, and even with, his tormentor. The officers had passed Bowman by when this young sailor, with a jerk of his thumb and a knowing look, indicated him as a suspicious character. He was accordingly subjected to a closer examination, recognized, put under arrest and taken to the gangway. As he went over the side he turned to O'Reilly, and with a wicked leer said, "Good-by, shipmate." The action and words were marked. O'Reilly well knew what they meant,—that Bowman had singled him out so that the officers would remember him, when, after reaching shore, the convict should offer to compound for his own absconding by giving up the other and more important fugitive.
As soon as the boat had departed Hathaway and O'Reilly held a council of war. Capt. Gifford was fortunately on shore. It would have been a serious thing for him to risk his ship, and perhaps his freedom, by protecting a fugitive felon from recapture. O'Reilly was desperate, but firm in his determination not to be taken alive. He had obtained a revolver, and was prepared to sell his life dearly rather than be taken back to the penal settlement and the inevitable horrors of the chain-gang. Hathaway was deeply stirred, but retained his coolness, as the Yankee sailor does in every emergency.
"Leave this thing to me," he said, "and I think I can study out some better way of settling it."
By this time it had become dark. The men were all below except the anchor watch. There was a kind of locker under the cabin companion-way, which was used sometimes by the steward to store dishes, etc. It was large enough to hold a man, with some squeezing, and was covered by one of the stair boards. The Dartmoor cells were more roomy, but less comfortable.
Hathaway quickly formed his plan and unfolded it to O'Reilly. It was for the latter to walk aft with a small grindstone, which happened to be at hand, lean over the rail, and, at the first favorable opportunity, throw the grindstone and his hat overboard, then slipping down the companion-way take refuge in the locker.
Hathaway went forward and engaged the watch in talk, standing so as to obstruct the view of O'Reilly, at the same time that he gave the watch instructions to keep a sharp eye on the latter, who, he said, was desperate, and might try to do away with himself; "for," he continued, "he tried to kill himself in Australia, before we took him off."
Just then there was a loud splash in the water.
"What's that?" exclaimed Hathaway. "It's O'Reilly," cried the watch; "he has thrown himself overboard."
"Man overboard," was instantly shouted, and brought the crew on deck. Four boats were lowered and searched the water for an hour. They found only O'Reilly's hat, though one of the crew, with a sailor's vivid imagination, swore that he had caught a glimpse of a drowning man's face, and knew it to be O'Reilly's. When Hathaway's boat came back from its fruitless quest, he found the second mate leaning over the side, and crying bitterly: "He's gone, poor fellow! here's his hat. The men have just picked it up. We'll never see him again."
Next morning there was grief on board the Gazelle. The flag at half-mast brought out the captain in a shore boat to learn the sad news. O'Reilly's wet hat lay on the hatch-way. Immediately afterward came the police boat with the Governor, and Convict Bowman ready to identify his prey. The unmistakable sincerity of the men's grief satisfied the officials. On the evening of the same day the Gazelle went to sea unmolested. As soon as they were well clear of the land, Hathaway said to the captain (I give his own story):
"'I guess I'll go below and get a cigar.' I went and hauled the step away, and there was O'Reilly all in a heap. I can see his face right before me now, white as chalk; eyes as black as night. He looked like a wild man.
"'What now?' says he, trembling all over.
"'Come out of that,' says I.
"' What do you mean?' says he.
"'Don't stop to ask questions, man,' says I; 'get out of that and come up; you're safe for this time. Land is almost out of sight.'
"He crawled out, and we went on deck together.
"'Now,' says I, 'go and shake hands with the captain.'
"I went to the side of the ship and stood there smoking, and pretending to be scanning the horizon. I saw the captain give one look at him, a kind of scared look. He thought it was his ghost. Then he wrung O'Reilly's hand, and burst out crying, just like a baby.
"Pretty soon he looked at me. I never said a word.
"'Did that fellow have anything to do with it?' says he."
Capt. Frederick Hussey, who was first officer of the Gazelle at the time, expresses his belief that the Governor was "not so badly fooled as we thought. When Bowman was arraigned in court, he commenced to tell the story of O'Reilly, when the Governor commanded: 'Be silent, sir.' Again he attempted to speak, when the Governor arose and said: 'If you speak again, I'll have you gagged.' When he saw our flag at half-mast, he inquired the reason for it, and ordered it down. I believe he wished to prevent diving or dragging for the body, for I have since heard that his wife was a loyal Irish woman."
The much-abused word "loyal" is for once well applied, if Capt. Hussey's information was correct as to the nationality of the Governor's wife.
The Gazelle's next landfall was to be made at the Island of St. Helena, the prison-rock on which the British nation chained, and tortured, and fretted to death the great soldier who had weakly trusted to their magnanimity. It was not to be expected that the secret of O'Reilly's identity could be kept by the whole ship's crew, especially after the Roderique episode; so Captain Gifford reluctantly determined to part with his passenger ere reaching that port. The American bark Sapphire, of Boston, bound from Bombay to Liverpool, commanded by Captain E. J. Seiders, was spoken on July 29, off the Cape of Good Hope, and agreed to give a passage home to seaman "John Soule," O'Reilly having adopted for the nonce the name and papers of a man who had deserted from the Gazelle. Honest sailors soon learn to trust one another, and Captain Seiders was taken into the confidence of his countryman, repaying it by giving O'Reilly a state-room in his cabin and treating him with every kindness.
The generosity of Gifford did not stop with commending the fugitive to his countryman; all the ready money that he had in his possession he put into O'Reilly's hands at parting, and when the young man, deeply touched by such generous confidence, would have remonstrated, saying: "I may never reach America; I may never be able to repay you"—the big-hearted sailor merely replied:
"If you never reach America, I shall be very sorry for you; if you are never able to repay me, I shall not be much the poorer; but I hope you will reach America, and I am sure you will pay me if you can." His confidence was not misplaced. Four years later O'Reilly' s first book of poems was published, and bore this dedication:
CAPTAIN DAVID R. GIFFORD,
Of the whaling bark Gazelle, of New Bedford,
I DEDICATE THIS BOOK.
Captain Gifford never saw this grateful tribute. He died ere the volume could reach him, but not ere his trust in the author's gratitude had been amply justified.
O'Reilly found it even a harder task to part with his warm friend and messmate Hathaway. The two were almost equal in years, with kindred buoyancy of spirits, and a deeper undercurrent of earnestness which made each respect and love the other. Between them existed that love, "passing the love of women," which only men of noblest mould may feel or understand.
In the poet's well stocked library were many volumes, the gifts of admiring friends of all degrees of life. Some were autograph copies from men of world-wide fame; but the volume which he cherished most fondly was an old, sea-flavored, weather-beaten manuscript book, the private "log" of Henry Hathaway. A few months before his death he showed it to me, with such a look of fond pride and pleasure as only he could wear when testifying to the love and tenderness of another. Truly it was a volume on whose pages any man might be proud to be chronicled as he is. A few extracts will show the character of this singular record, which was begun three hours after the parting of the friends and continued to the end of the voyage:
Ship Gazelle, July 29, 1869.
Dear Old Fellow:
I am now seated at the old donkey, where we've sat side by side for the last five months, more or less, and have been reading over some of your pieces of poetry, and it makes me lonesome, although we have not been parted as yet hardly three hours, and thank God we have lived and parted as friends; and thinking, perhaps, in after years you would like to know the transactions of the remainder of this voyage, I shall endeavor to write a little, once in a while, hoping it may prove interesting to you. Most everybody on board is talking about you, and they all wish you good luck in your undertaking, and all that I have got to say is, "Good speed, and God bless you!"
Friday Evening, July 30.—Again I am seated, to add another line or two. This morning there were six sails in sight, and I suppose the Sapphire was one of the six. The old man told me this morning that he thought you would go home with us yet. He says that if we get to St. Helena first he will take you on board again, and as much as I would like to have you here, I hope and trust that you are safe where you are; God bless you, old fellow! Good-night!
Saturday Evening, 31st.—It is now blowing a gale from the westward, and the old ship is lying to under reefed foresail and close reefed main topsail, and I have got the blues the worst kind, and am as homesick as can be:
Friend after friend departs;
Who hath not lost a friend?
There is no union here of hearts
That finds not here an end.—J. Montgomery.
Tuesday Evening, August 3.—Yesterday I did not write, as it was blowing a gale of wind; but this evening, as it is fine weather, I will add another line or two. Since this head wind commenced we have lost about fifty miles of our course, but I think the prospects are good now to get it back again, and perhaps a little more. Everybody on board seems to be in good spirits to-day, except myself. There are four ships in sight, and if either of them is the Sapphire I wish she would come close to us, for I would really like to know how you are getting along. I told Captain G. that I felt confident that you are all right with that captain, as I liked the looks of him the moment I set eyes on him.
Wednesday Evening, 4th.—Well, John, evening has once more thrown her sable mantle around us, and I am seated once more in my little nine-by-seven to add another line to this puzzle. This is the thirteenth anniversary of my seafaring life, and I hope (if God spares my life) before the next thirteen expires, I shall be in better circumstances than at present, although I suppose it is folly to think of the hereafter (in regard to worldly things); yet it is but natural, if we have a mind of our own, and wish to gain fame. There are but two sails in sight to-day, and I think the old Sapphire is out of sight and I hope ahead of us, as I wish you good speed. Lat. 34 deg. 50 min. S., long. 27 deg. 12 min. E.
Thursday, 5th.—All this day fine breezes from the N. N. W. We are now within about five degrees of longitude of the Cape, and I hope and pray that this breeze will take us around, and I should like to arrive at St. Helena one or two days ahead of you, so that you may come back to us again, as I think you will be much safer here.
Everybody on board seems to be in good spirits, except Mr. Bryan, and he has been groaning all day about his old friend, you know who it is, therefore I will call no names. There is but one sail in sight to-day, and he is close to us, and I think is an Englishman; therefore I know that the old Sapphire is out of sight. Good-night, old boy! May the good spirit that has watched over you so far still continue to do so. Our latitude by observation is 35 deg. 33 min., and longitude 23 deg. 37 min. E.
Saturday, 7th.—To-day we have a fair wind again, and are scudding off at the rapid rate of about three knots per hour, but I think the prospects are fair for a strong breeze to-night.
Wednesday, 11th.—This has been a beautiful day, such a one as you used to like when you were on board. The wind has been very light, but fair. We find ourselves, by observation, about two miles from the Cape, and I hope and trust we may pass it before morning. I have thought a great deal about you to-day, and wonder how you are getting along, and something tells me that you are all right. God grant that it is so, old fellow; and may the Being whose ever watchful eye is upon us watch over and comfort you in all your troubles; and don't, for Heaven's sake, John (whatever your troubles may be), give up your evening practice. Good-night, old boy! God bless you! Our latitude is about 35 deg. 45 min. 8., and longitude 18 deg. 42 min. E.
Friday, 13th. -The biggest part of this day we have had strong breezes from the W.S.W., and have been steering by the wind on the port tack, and heading from N.N.W. to N.W. by N. There is one sail in sight astern of us, and I have wondered several times to-day whether it is the Sapphire or not: I hope it is, and wish we could have good weather to gain. Our latitude is 34 deg. 55 min. S., and longitude 17 deg. 53 min. E., so, as you see, we have passed the Cape of Good Hope.
Saturday, 14th.— This has been a beautiful day, with light breezes from the S.E., and we have been engaged sending aloft our mizzen topsail and yards. There are two ships in sight, one of them close to us and the other about fifteen miles distant. The one that is close to us is a large Englishman, that was close to us the day after you went on board the Sapphire; but the other we can't tell what he is, but I hope it is the Sapphire; if it is, I think we will get to St. Helena about the same time. Our latitude is about 83 deg. 40 min. S., but the longitude I have not yet ascertained.
Sunday, 15th.— This has been another beautiful day, and we have had a nice little breeze from the south. There is but one ship in sight, and he is nearly out of sight ahead of us. Our latitude is 33 deg. S., and longitude 13 deg. 55 min. E.
Monday Evening, 16th.—All of this day we have had a strong breeze from the south, and have made a good distance toward our destination. There are two ships in sight, one astern, and the other on the port quarter, but so far away that we cannot make out whether either of them is the Sapphire, or not; Everybody on board seems to be in good spirits to-day, as is generally the case when we have a fair wind. Our latitude is 31 deg. 35 min. S., and longitude 12 deg. E.
Wednesday, 18th.— The fore part of this day we had beautiful weather and light breezes from the S.E., and this afternoon we have had a good breeze, and a thick fog, and everything looks as gloomy as old boots. The same two ships that have been in sight for the last two days are still in sight, two points on our starboard bow, and another one on the port quarter. Lambert just came in and asked me if I did not feel well, as he noticed I looked downhearted, and I had to turn him off with, "Oh, well enough," but I have got the blues like smoke, so—Good-night! Latitude 29 deg. 30 min. S., longitude about 9 deg. E.
Monday, 23d.— I did not write yesterday, as I had the blues the worst kind; but this evening, as I feel a little better, I will scratch a line or two. We have had strong breezes all day and the old ship is trotting along about eight knots per hour. If this breeze lasts until Friday, I think we will be at St. Helena. Every one on board is enjoying good health, and most of us are in good spirits, and I hope and pray that you are enjoying the same blessing. Good-night, old boy! Latitude 21 deg. 50 min. S., longitude 1 deg. E.
Thursday, 36th.— All of this day we have light airs and calms, and have made but little distance. There are but two sails in sight to-day; one of them is the same one that we gained on the 20th. The land, by our reckoning, is about sixty miles distant, and I hope that we will come to anchor to-morrow. Everybody seems to be in good spirits today. I suppose it is because we are close to port, and I would give considerable if it were New Bedford instead of St. Helena, and that you were here with us; but perhaps it is all for the best as it is, and I trust God that it is, old fellow. Good-night and God bless you! Our latitude is about 16 deg. 20 min., and longitude 5 deg. W.
Saturday, 28th.—This morning we came at anchor, and we find that the Sapphire has not been here as yet, and as everything is quiet and no danger, I hope she will come in before we leave The day that we came at anchor there were fifteen ships anchored here, thirteen merchantmen, the whaling bark Ohio, and the old Gazelle; and now, old fellow, as I cannot think of anything else to write that will interest you, I will bid you adieu, and lay this book aside for the present, for it makes me lonesome every time that I write in it. My prayer is that the old Sapphire will have favorable winds and make a speedy passage, and that you may be fortunate enough when you arrive in England to get a ship bound direct to America. Good-by, old fellow, and may God in his infinite mercy watch over and bless you!
November 9.—Dear old fellow, it is my dog watch below, and I have spent most of it in playing the flutina, and reading over some of your poetry, but I will improve the few moments that are left me in adding another line or two to this. I hope and pray, old boy, that before this time you have sodded your hoof on Yankee shores, and I wish that I were there with you (yet. Thy will be done, O God! not mine). The old man has been in here this evening, showing me some abstract of a right whale voyage, and he has asked for my opinion about going there, but I gave him no encouragement, knowing that if we leave here we will lose our letters again. Oh, dear, I wish this voyage was over! I haven't had a letter from home for sixteen months, and I have got the blues like old boots, so I will bid you a good-night, and light a cigar and go on deck, and tramp, tramp, tramp away, and build castles. Lat. 34 deg. S., long. 50 deg. W.
November 25.—Again I am seated by my old donkey, with pen in hand, to scratch another line or two. I have been reading to Mr. Bryan a political piece which I found in an English paper, and I tell you what, he is raving mad. He has got one of his old political fits on, and I would that you might see him now. The piece is about a Mr. Roebuck, an English orator, and, when I left Mr. Bryan on deck about ten minutes ago, he was calling him everything that he could lay his tongue to. It is four months to-morrow since you left us, and I hope and trust that you are quietly settled down in Yankee town Since you left we have not seen the spout of a sperm whale, which makes the time naturally hang rather heavy. For pastime I have taken the rigging off from my little vessel, and am going to rig her again, and have also made about half a dozen canes. By the way, I was looking at your cane yesterday, and I must shortly polish it, and if I am unfortunate enough not to meet you again, I shall certainly send it to your father as I promised you. The tress of hair is also safe, and if I do not see you again I will do with it as I told you I would. The old man has made his schooner for Jimmy, and has got her all rigged, and the sails on. Mariano, Mr. Joseph, John Vitrene, Bill Malay, and the boy Andrew are each building a vessel; but I have seen none yet equal to the one that poor Carpenter built, and which I have in my possession. No doubt you often think of the night that we lost him, and of the narrow escape that you had but a short time after, and I have been thankful a great many times that I did not leave the boat, for if I had you certainly would have perished. Now as it is about time to shorten sail for the night, I will bid you good-night and go on deck. Long. 38 deg. 50 min. W., lat. 33 deg. 20 min. S.
Saturday, December 18 . . . . I often think of you and ask myself if there is any doubt about your safety, and while others think there is, Paterson, for instance, I think there is no doubt, old boy, but you are on Yankee soil, and, with the help of God, I will soon be with you; and I hope the time is not far hence when some of your old friends from Australia will be with you, enjoying freedom instead of bondage. Bondage, do I call it! Worse than bondage, for the slave in bondage has no one to scorn him but his master, while those gentlemen are suffering the scorn of a whole nation, and what is it for? Just for upholding their rights. God bless them! and may the time soon arrive when they will have a helping hand to assist them in escaping. There goes eight bells.
Sunday, January 30, 1870.— Another week has passed away, and the shades of evening are once more gathered over us. It is my dog watch below, and I have been reading the Bible, and playing hymn tunes on the flutina; and now, as I have a few leisure moments before going on duty, I will improve them in writing to you, hoping that, by and by, when you come to peruse these pages, you may be interested, for I know that you will want to know some of the proceedings of your old shipmates. The old man is as dry as ever, and once in a while he repeats over his old whaling stories, but he always turns out to be the hero himself, although he seldom speaks evil of any one. I have not had a talk with him about you for a long time; but, whenever I have, he has always spoken, well of you. Mr. Bryan is the same old stick, and as hot in political affairs as ever, and is about as sick of this voyage as I am. The remainder of the officers and all the crew are well; some appear to be content, while others look blue enough. It is about time for me to go on deck; so I will offer up a prayer to the Maker of all things for your success, and go to duty. Good-night.
Sunday Evening, third month, sixth day.— Once more I am seated to pen another line or two. Since I last wrote, we have been engaged fitting ship for home, and I think we will start for home about the 20lh of this month. We have gained with two ships lately, and have got papers as late as January 15. I am as homesick as old boots, and wish for the time to fly. We are all as well as common, and I hope, old fellow, that you are enjoying the same blessing. I hope things are properly arranged by this time for the expedition that we were talking about, for I will be ready in a short time to start on that errand of mercy. Good-night, old boy!
Wednesday, fourth month, fifth day.—It is my watch below and I have been trying to sleep, but I find it impossible to do so, as I am continually thinking about home and friends. We have been lying here, within a thousand miles of home, for the last four or five days, with head winds and calms, but I have no doubt but that it is all for the best. The wind is fair now, but quite light. There are three sails in sight, all homeward bound. May God speed the plow! Good-by.Tuesday, fourth month, sixth day.—I am once more seated in my little eight-by-six, to add a few more lines to this puzzle, and I think this must be the last, as I expect to be at home in a few days. We are now off Cape Hatteras, and it is blowing a gale from the N.W., but I hope it will soon change and give us a fair wind, for most of us have got the blues like old boots. Yet it is all for the best. I hope that you will correct the many mistakes which you will be likely to find in perusing these pages, and excuse the hand-writing, for I have written it in haste, doubting whether you would ever get it or not. And now, old boy, I will bid you a good-night, and hope to find you safe and sound in a few days. Our latitude by observation 35 deg. 20 min. N., and longitude 70 deg. 5 min. W.
This same old log-book is rich in autograph treasures of the boyish poet; for he had rioted all over its pages while on board the Gazelle. There, penciled in a bold, handsome hand, is the first draft of his "Withered Snowdrops," with several pages of his "Uncle Ned's Tales," and a rather weak effusion which never grew any stronger, and which he gravely introduces with the words: "The following little poem is an exquisite bit of—rubbish."
Over the nom de plume of "Old Blowhard, Mariner," he writes a lot of breezy fun, such as the following, which will be enjoyed less for its humor than as an indication of the author's light-heartedness and ready touch with the spirit of his surroundings. It follows a serious signal code in Hathaway's writing, and is entitled:
WHALING SIGNALS-LAST EDITION.
BY OLD BLOWHARD.
Flag at main—Whales up.
Flag at mizzen—Whales down.
Jib hauled up and down—Can't see any whales.
Foretopsail hauled up and down—Look out.
All the sails on the ship hauled up and down—Whales somewhere.
Steward at the main—Go farther off.
Steward waves his hat—Whales all round the ship.
Lee clew of spanker boom hauled up—Whales going to windward.
In another place he writes the following:
RULES TO BE OBSERVED BY WHALE SHIPS IN CASE OF FIRE BY NIGHT.
1. When the officer on deck discovers that there is fire in the ship, he will wait with patience until he sees the flames, which will show him exactly where the fire is. He will then proceed at once to call the cook.
2. He will call the captain and officers by shouting down the cabin: "I think the ship is on fire."
3. He will then shake the reefs out of the foresail, and haul up the bunt of the mizzen topmast staysail, at the same time letting the ship luff about seventeen points.
4. He will then ring the bell, shout, and fire bomb-lances down the cabin stairs, to bring every one to a sense of danger.
5. When the captain comes on deck, he will at once send two men to each masthead to cry "Fire!" then he will take off the fore and main hatches to give the wind a good chance of blowing out the fire. He will also cast off the lashings from the casks on deck, and hoist the weather clew of the vise-bench to steady the ship.
6. The cooper's chest should be thrown overboard, as it might explode.
7. The first and second officers should see that the port anchor be taken in from the bow, carried aft, and thrown down the main hatchway. It is easy to see the good effect this may have. If necessary, the starboard anchor may be thrown down the fore hold.
8. The third and fourth officers, at the same time, will fire bomblances down the lower hold, and when they have fired away all on board, they will see that the crew extinguish the fire down there by pouring buckets of Stockholm tar on the flames. They will also tar the deck pot to prevent its catching fire.
9. The cook will throw the windlass overboard, and then capsize the slush barrel in the waist, to prevent the men from slipping on the wet decks.
10. The captain will cut away all the fore and main rigging, and, when that is done, he will call the men down from aloft. They may come down the flying jib-stay.
11. When the fire is nearly extinguished by these means, cut away the masts and rig a jury mast at the end of the flying jib-boom.
12. Send five men and two officers to the wheel, and let her luff. When she gets round so that the wind is dead ahead, then hoist the spanker and let her scud.
13. Throw all the cargo overboard to make her light, and head for home.
N.B.—If those rules are carefully observed, it will be found that a fire on board a ship is as harmless as if it were in a large gunpowder magazine on shore.
DIMENSIONS OF VARIOUS PARTS OF A SHIP.
BY OLD BLOWHARD.
The main top-gallant cross-tree is twice as long as the flying jib-boom.
The jib-boom should be half as long again as the steer oar of the larboard boat. If the larboard boat has no steer oar, make the jib-boom short accordingly.
The mainyard, in all fast sailing vessels, should be about as long as a rope.
The foreyard is half as long as the mainyard, and three times as thick.
In large ships, where brown paper is used instead of canvas for topsails, it is not necessary to lace the back-stays.
The right bower anchor should be as heavy as a large stone, and should always be kept warm.The chimney of the cook's galley should be eight times as long as the spanker boom. In clipper ships this length may be doubled. Mizzen top-gallant yard should be a little larger than a log of wood, and heavy in proportion.
On board the Sapphire O'Reilly fell in with another passenger, an English gentleman named Bailey, who, on learning his story, took a warm interest in the exile, and aided him in securing passage for America, after arriving at Liverpool, on October 13. Mr. Soule, for so O'Reilly was known to the crew, went into a safe retreat at that port. Capt. Seiders and his mate, John Bursley, with the assistance of a generous English family, provided him with a secure hiding-place until he could obtain passage on an American ship, homeward bound.
The opportunity was found in the ship Bombay, of Bath, Maine. Captain Jordan made a place for him as third mate of the Bombay. He would have opened his heart and purse to any fugitive from tyranny. He was not disposed to shut either against a victim of English injustice; for he was one of the many American shipmasters who had been robbed and ruined by the Anglo-Confederate privateer Alabama. Never did exile meet with warmer welcome to freedom than O'Reilly received from the great-hearted seamen sailing under the flag of the United States. On the evening of the second day after sailing from Liverpool, Captain Jordan called O'Reilly on deck, and told him they were near the coast of Ireland, and would see it before the sun went down. The sun was very low, and a heavy bank of cloud had risen up from the horizon, and underneath it the sun's rays fell down upon the sea.
"Where is the nearest part of Ireland?" he asked of the pilot.
"There it is, sir; under the sun."
Recalling this incident, in a lecture delivered at Music Hall, Boston, in January, 1870, O'Reilly said:
"They were sad words; Ireland was there, under the sun; but under the dark cloud also. The rays of golden glory fell down from behind the dark cloud—fell down like God's pity on the beautiful, tear-stained face of Ireland—fell down on the dear familiar faces of my old home, on the hill, the wood, the river, lighting them all once more with the same heaven-tint that I loved to watch long ago. Oh! how vividly did that long ago rise up before me then! the happy home, the merry playmates, the faces, the voices of dear ones who are there still, and the hallowed words of dearest ones who are dead,—down on all fell the great glory of the setting sun, lighting that holy spot that 1 might never see, a mother's grave, and lighting the heart with sorrow-shaded devotion. Home, friends, all that I loved in the world were there, almost beside me,—there, 'under the sun,' and I, for loving them, a hunted, outlawed fugitive, an escaped convict, was sailing away from all I treasured,—perhaps, forever."
After a safe and uneventful voyage he landed at Philadelphia on the twenty-third day of November, 1869, just two years from the date of his taking passage on the Hougoumont for the Australian penal colony. His first act after landing was to make a votive offering to Liberty. He presented himself before the United States District Court and took out his first papers of naturalization.
- It may be worth noting here, that, in writing his "Moondyne," O'Reilly gave the name of Bowman to the villain of the story, even as he remembered his generous friends, the Maguires, by name in the same book.
- O'Reilly had then been just two days in the "Yankee town" of Philadelphia.
- O'Reilly and Hathaway had even then planned, among their other aircastles, the one which they were to carry out successfully seven years later—of rescuing the other forlorn captives in Australia.
- The "expedition" was that referred to In preceding note.