The Clipper Ship Era/Chapter 10

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CHAPTER X


CALIFORNIA CLIPPERS OF 1851 AND THEIR COMMANDERS—A DAY ON BOARD THE "WITCH OF THE WAVE"


A LITTLE more than sixty thousand tons of shipping had been launched from the shipyards in and near New York during the year 1850, and over thirty thousand tons were still under construction there when the year closed, while the total tonnage of vessels built in the United States that year was 306,034 tons.

At this period the California clippers increased rapidly in size. Ships of a new type from 1500 to 2000 tons register, of which the Stag-Hound was the pioneer, were now being built, and ship-builders were called upon to deal with the problem of fitting wooden spars and hemp rigging that would stand the stress and strain of the enormous amount of canvas that these powerful vessels were expected to carry. The rigging and handling of this new type of long-limbed clipper, with her unexplored peculiarities, gave ship-builders and sea-captains some serious thinking and the ship lovers of South Street' something to talk about and argue over.

Thirty-one California clippers were launched during the year 1851, and almost all the large yards along the Atlantic seaboard were represented by one or more. Donald McKay built the Flying Cloud, Flying Fish, and Staffordshire; William H. Webb, the Challenge, Invincible, Comet, Gazelle, and Sword-Fish; Fernald and Pettigrew, of Portsmouth, the Typhoon; Jacob A. Westervelt & Sons, the Hornet and N. B. Palmer; George Raynes, the Wild Pigeon and Witch of the Wave; Smith & Co., of Hoboken, the Hurricane; Perrin, Patterson & Stack, of Williamsburg, the Ino; Briggs Bros., of South Boston, the Northern Light and Southern Cross; Hood & Co., of Somerset, the Raven; J. 0. Curtis, of Medford, the Shooting Star; J. Williams, the Tornado, Isaac Taylor, of Medford, the Syren; Trufant & Drummond, of Bath, the Monsoon, and Jacob Bell, the Trade-Wind.

It would be impossible to name the handsomest of these ships, for while they were all of the same general design, each possessed her special type of beauty; and beauty, as we all know, is elusive, depending largely on fashion and individual taste. In order to attract the favorable attention of shippers and to secure the highest rates of freight, it was necessary that these ships should be handsome as well as swift. Ship-owners were content to spend large sums of money, not only upon refined decoration, which was but a small portion of the expense, but also in carefully selected woods, such as India teak and Spanish mahogany for deck fittings, and in the finest shipwright's and joiner's work about the decks, which were marvels of neatness and finish.

Ship-builders certainly had every incentive to exercise their best skill upon these vessels; they received pretty much their own prices for building them, and each ship, as she sailed out upon the ocean, held in her keeping the reputation of her builder, to whom a quick passage meant fame and fortune. Six of the clipper ships launched in 1851, the Flying Cloud, Comet, Sword-Fish, Witch of the Wave, Ino, and Northern Light, established speed records that have not yet been broken, and as time rolls on, the probability that they ever will be, becomes less and less.

The Flying Cloud was originally contracted for by Enoch Train, the good friend of Donald McKay, but while on the stocks she was sold to Grinnell, Minturn & Co., under whose flag she sailed for a number of years. Mr. Train used to say that there were few things in his life that he regretted more than parting with this ship. She was 1783 tons register, and measured: length 225 feet, breadth 40 feet 8 inches, depth 21 feet 6 inches, with 20 inches dead-rise at half floor. Her main-yard was 82 feet and her mainmast 88 feet in length, and like all the large clippers of her day, she carried three standing skysail yards; royal, topgallant and topmast studdingsails at the fore and main, square lower studdingsails with swinging booms at the fore; single topsail yards, with four reef bands in the topsails; single reefs in the topgallant sails, and topsail and topgallant bowlines.

She was commanded by Captain Josiah Perkins Creesy, who was born at Marblehead in 1814. Like most boys who were brought up along the coast of Massachusetts Bay, he began his career by being skipper and all hands of a borrowed thirteen-foot dory, with the usual leg-o'-mutton sail, and steered by an oar over her lee gunwale. In these dories water was carried in a strong earthen jug with a stout handle to which a tin drinking-cup was usually attached, while a wooden dinner-pail, such as the Gloucester fishermen used in those days, contained provisions. When the rode line was coiled down clear with the killick stowed away forward, and the dinner-pail, wooden bailer, and water jug had been made fast with a lanyard to the becket in the stern sheets, the famous Cape Ann dory was about ready for sea.

Joe Creesy was a genuine boy, large and strong for his age, freckled, good-tempered, and fond of rowing, sailing, and fishing. When he got to be thirteen or fourteen years old, he used to get some one to lend him a dory, and in this, during his summer vacation, he would make short cruises to Beverly and sometimes to the neighboring port of Salem. Here he would loiter about the wharves, watching an Indiaman discharge her fragrant cargo, or perhaps some ship fitting out for another voyage to India or China; and he would gaze up in wonder and admiration at the long tapering masts, with their lofty yards and studdingsail booms, and what appeared to him to be a labyrinth of blocks and slender threads. The ships' figureheads, especially those representing warriors and wild animals, pleased Joe mightily, and the spare spars, gratings, capstans, boats, guns, and shining brass work, all delighted his heart. Occasionally he would behold a sea-captain who had really sailed to Calcutta and Canton, and the bronzed mariner was to him a being quite apart from other mortals.

At that time Salem retained much of the spicy, maritime flavor of the olden days, and these pleasant summer cruises to the old seaport naturally captivated the boy's imagination, until he yearned for the time when he, too, might stand upon the quarter-deck in command of a noble ship. It would, of course, have been sinful to keep a boy like this on land, so he was permitted to follow his inclination and ship before the mast on board of a vessel bound for the East Indies. He advanced steadily through all the grades on shipboard, and became a captain at twenty-three.

When Captain Creesy was appointed to command the Flying Cloud, he was well known in New York, as he had commanded the ship Oneida, for a number of years in the China and East India trade, and bore a high reputation among ship-owners and underwriters, many of whom were his personal friends and associates.

The Flying Fish was owned by Sampson & Tappan, who, with George B. Upton, were the leading Boston ship-owners of their day, and between them owned the largest and finest clipper ships belonging to that port. These firms were composed of men in the prime of life, who enjoyed owning fast and handsome vessels. They cared for nothing but the best in design, construction, and equipment, and fitted out their ships with spare gear, stores, and provisions upon a most generous scale. The Flying Fish was 1505 tons register and measured: length 198 feet 6 inches, breadth 38 feet 2 inches, depth 22 feet, with 25 inches dead-rise at half floor. Her commander, Captain Edward Nickels, had sailed out of Boston for a number of years in command of the ship John Quincy Adams, and was a fine seaman and navigator. He was fond of entertaining his friends while in home and foreign ports, and his jolly little lunches and dinners were regarded as models of refined hospitality on shipboard. Commander John A. H. Nickels, U. S. N., is a son of Captain Edward Nickels.

Mr. Webb's Challenge, a still larger merchantman than had yet been constructed, was regarded with pride by the shipping men of New York. The Challenge registered 2006 tons, and measured: length 230 feet 6 inches, breadth 43 feet 6 inches, depth 27 feet 6 inches, with 42 inches dead-rise at half floor. Her mainmast was 97 feet and mainyard 90 feet in length, and the lower studdingsail booms were 60 feet long; with square yards and lower studdingsails set, the distance from boom end to boom end was 100 feet. She carried 12,780 running yards of cotton canvas, which was woven especially for her by the Colt Manufacturing Company. Her mainsail measured: 80 feet on the head, 100 feet on the foot, with a drop of 47 feet 3 inches, and 49 feet 6 inches on the leach. She had four reefs in her topsails, and single reefs in her topgallant sails, and carried skysails, studdingsails, and ringtail. She was owned by N. L. & G. Griswold, of New York, and was commanded by Captain Robert H. Waterman, late of the Sea Witch.

The Invincible, owned by J. W. Phillips and others, of New York, was 1767 tons register, and measured: length 221 feet, breadth 41 feet 6 inches, depth 24 feet 10 inches. She was commanded by Captain H. W. Johnson, a gentleman who possessed a merry wit and a vivid imagination. Some of his experiences by land and sea, as related by himself, were certainly startling, and he told them with a minuteness of detail and an earnestness of manner that carried conviction equal to the most realistic illusions of the drama. There was one story about a mutiny on board the British brig Diadem, of which vessel Johnson said he was second mate. This craft carried a Lascar crew, and was in the Bay of Bengal, bound from Calcutta to Hong-kong with a cargo of opium, when a mutiny broke out in which all hands took part with such ferocious valor that the second mate and the serang, both badly wounded, were the only survivors.

The listeners are shown the dead bodies of Europeans and Asiatics, lying about the blood-stained deck under the fierce rays of the southern sun, and we breathe the tainted air, while chattering cormorants and screeching fishhawks tear the thin clothing of the corpses into shreds and fight with claw and beak over the decaying flesh. Johnson and the serang, so widely separated by blood, language, and religion, now united by a bond of common suffering, help each other to crawl into the caboose for shelter from the heat and from the birds of prey. Now we hear the gentle chafing of the gear aloft, and the lazy slatting of the sails, as the brig rolls upon the long, glassy swell; we see the sun sink beyond the ocean's rim in a glory of gold and purple that illumines the zenith and turns the sea into a lake of fire; and we feel the benediction of the cool twilight and whispering breeze.

In the silence of the night, the two men, weak from loss of blood, drag themselves aft to the deserted cabin; Johnson lowers himself down the companion and gropes his way to the pantry, where he finds food to share with his companion. In the captain's cabin he finds a decanter of brandy and a tumbler in the rack at the foot of the berth; he fills the glass and pours the spirit down his parched throat to brace his shattered nerves, then fills the glass again and takes it to the serang, but the faithful follower of Mahomet refuses to lift it to his burning lips. We live with them as they work their little vessel back to the muddy waters of the Hooghly and sight a pilot brig lying at anchor on her station, and their joy is ours when the pilot, with his leadsman, servant, and boat's crew, comes on board. Again these unfortunate men, haggard and still suffering from their wounds, are being tried in an Anglo-Indian Court of Justice under a charge of murder on the high seas, and we hear the judge pronounce their solemn sentence of death.

The scenes to which I have referred were so real that it seemed as if Johnson, while describing them, must have believed this story himself, and it was interesting to note the effect upon those who heard it for the first time, when, after giving a circumstantial account of the miraculous escape of the serang and himself from the Calcutta prison during the night before they were to be hanged, he would cheerfully remark, "Well, now, I call that a pretty good yarn to spin out of nothing." Then some one, perhaps a lady, might say, "Why, Captain Johnson, is it not true?" and he would smile pleasantly and reply, "True? Why bless your soul, I never heard of a brig called the Diadem, and never was in Calcutta in my life." He had a number of these stories, and in China we never tired of listening to them.

Captain Johnson was an uncommonly able man and a most agreeable companion. He remained in command of the Invincible for several years, and in the early sixties he took in succession three frail wooden side-wheel river steamboats, the Fire Dart, Fire Cracker, and Fire Queen, from New York round the Cape of Good Hope to China, with no accident or mishap—a remarkable achievement. In 1866, Captain Johnson was the navigator, but not in command, of the yacht Vesta in her race with the Henrietta and Fleetwing across the Atlantic.

The Comet was 1836 tons register, and measured: length 229 feet, breadth 42 feet, depth 22 feet 8 inches. She was owned by Bucklin & Crane, of New York, and was commanded by Captain E. C. Gardner, late of the Celestial, in whose hands she gained a high reputation for speed.

The Sword-Fish was owned by Barclay & Livingston, of New York, and was 1036 tons register; length 169 feet 6 inches, breadth 36 feet 6 inches, depth 20 feet. Although not so extremely sharp as the larger ships built by Mr. Webb during that year, she was quite as handsome, and while commanded by Captain Babcock she eclipsed them all in speed.

Captain David Sherman Babcock, brother-in-law of Captain N. B. Palmer, was born at Stonington in 1822, and came of a distinguished family, his father being Major Paul Babcock and his grandfather Colonel Harry Babcock of Revolutionary fame. He received the usual New England school education of those days, which appears to have been a sufficient equipment for some of the most useful men that the United States has yet produced.

As a boy David developed a strong desire for a seafaring life, which cannot be wondered at, as at that period Stonington and the neighboring town of Mystic were flourishing seaports, whose ships sailed to every quarter of the globe, and whose jovial mariners kept the social atmosphere well charged with shadowy visions of strange lands, ancient temples, pagodas, palms, and coral isles lying in distant tropical seas. The departure of a ship with colors flying, the crisp, incisive orders of her captain and mates, and the clomp, clomp, clomp, of the windlass pawl, the songs of the sailors heaving up anchor, the hum of the running gear as it rendered through the blocks, and the music of their straining sheaves to the last long pulls on sheets and halliards, were a more potent means of recruiting bright, young boys, soon to become mates and captains of American ships, than all the press-gangs that were ever heard of.

So it came about that young Babcock, at the age of sixteen, was allowed to ship as boy before the mast with Captain Nat Palmer on board the Hibernia, and later he sailed again with Captain Palmer as an officer on board the Garrick. After making voyages to India and China on board of various ships, he was appointed at the age of twenty-five to command the ship Charlestown on a voyage to Callao and Lima. In 1850, Captain Babcock married Charlotte, the youngest daughter of Joseph Noyes, of Stonington, and W. I. Babcock, the well-known naval architect and engineer, who first introduced the scientific construction of steel vessels on the Great Lakes, is their son.

The Typhoon was owned by D. & A. Kingsland, of New York, and was commanded by Captain Charles H. Salter, who was born at Portsmouth in 1824, and an ancestor of his. Captain John Salter, commanded a vessel in the European trade during Colonial times, and for generations the Salters had sailed out of Portsmouth in command of ships. Captain Charles Salter went to sea at an early age, and at twenty-two commanded the ship Venice and later the Samuel Badger.

The Typhoon was 1610 tons register, and measured: length 225 feet, breadth 41 feet 6 inches, depth 23 feet. She was fully rigged on the stocks and was launched with skysail-yards aloft and colors flying. Before loading for San Francisco she was sent by her owners to Liverpool and made the passage from Portsmouth during the month of March in 13 days, 10 hours from wharf to dock. She frequently ran 15½ knots by the log on this passage, her best day's run being 346 miles. At Liverpool she attracted much attention, as she was not only the first American clipper, but also the largest merchant ship that had ever been seen at that port.

The N. B. Palmer was 1490 tons register, and measured: length 214 feet, breadth 39 feet, depth 22 feet. She was owned by A. A. Low & Brother, and was commanded by another brother, Captain Charles Porter Low. He was born at Salem in 1824, and when a child removed with his parents to Brooklyn. At any early age he manifested a decided liking for ships and the society of sailors, and much against the wishes of his parents, he determined to go to sea. In 1842 he shipped as boy before the mast on board of the Horatio, with Captain Howland and made the round voyage to China. He made a voyage to Liverpool with Captain Griswold in the Toronto as ordinary seaman, and was an able seaman on board the Courier to Rio Janeiro. He then sailed as third, second, and chief mate of the Houqua, with the brothers. Captain Nat, Alexander, and Theodore Palmer, and at the age of twenty-three took command of that ship. As we have seen, he also commanded the Samuel Russell on her first voyage to San Francisco.

The N. B. Palmer was perhaps the most famous ship built in the Westervelt yard. In China she was known as "the Yacht," and with her nettings in the tops, brass guns, gold stripe, and her lavish entertainments on the Fourth of July and Washington's Birthday, she well deserved the title. Her captain was a princely host, as well as a thorough seaman, and a fine navigator. A full-rigged model of the N. B. Palmer was exhibited at the Crystal Palace, London, in 1851, and attracted much attention as a fine example of the American clipper-ship type.

The Hurricane was owned by C. W. & H. Thomas, of New York, and registered 1607 tons. She had the reputation of being the sharpest ship ever built at or near New York, and she carried plenty of canvas, with Cunningham's rolling topsails, being one of the first American vessels so fitted. Across the lower part of her foretopsail she carried her name painted in large black letters that could be read much further than any signals and looked very smart and shipshape. Her commander. Captain Samuel Very, was born at Salem in 1815, and was a son of John Crowninshield Very, a mariner who had sailed on many a brave Salem ship. Among other experiences, he was one of the survivors of a shipwreck in mid-ocean during the year 1810, when he was picked up by a passing vessel after twenty-three days in an open boat. Admiral Samuel W. Very, U. S. N., is a son of Captain Samuel Very, and was born at Liverpool while the Hurricane lay in the Mersey.

The Northern Light, of 1021 tons register, measured: length 180 feet, breadth 36 feet, depth 21 feet 6 inches. She was a very sharp ship below the water-line, with 40 inches dead-rise at half floor, and full, powerful lines above water and on deck. She was built by the Briggs Brothers at South Boston, and owned by James Huckins of Boston. Mr. Huckins was a jolly, kind-hearted gentleman whom every one liked. His house-flag was a white field, swallowtail, with a blue star in the centre, and when he took his two sons into partnership, he placed two exceedingly small blue stars in the upper and lower luff of the flag, as he remarked, "to represent their interest in the business." This, however, was his joke, as he was most liberal in every way. After this ship had made her celebrated record passage from San Francisco to Boston, Mr. Huckins usually closed his discussions upon the speed of clipper ships by saying, "Well, anyway, none of them can beat my Northern Light."

The Trade Wind measured: length 248 feet, breadth 40 feet, depth 25 feet, and was 2030 tons register, being 24 tons larger than the Challenge. Those two ships were the largest clippers that were ever built at or about New York, and with the exception of the Ocean Monarch, a packet ship of 2145 tons register, built by William H. Webb in 1856, were the largest sailing ships ever constructed at that port. The Trade Wind was an exceedingly sharp and handsome ship, and attracted a great deal of attention. It was estimated that more than thirty thousand persons gathered about Jacob Bell's shipyard at the foot of Houston Street, East River, one bright morning in August of that year to see her launched. She was owned by W. Platt & Son, of Philadelphia, and was commanded by Captain W. H. Osgood, late of the ship Valparaiso.

The Nightingale, one of the most beautiful clippers launched in 1851, was not built for the California trade, but was originally intended for a yacht. This ship was constructed by Samuel Hanscom, at Portsmouth, with the intention of carrying passengers to the World's Pair, held in London during that year, and was fitted with extensive and
The Nightingale p164.jpg

The "Nightingale"

luxurious accommodations for that purpose, her between-decks being given up to large saloons and staterooms. It was proposed, after her arrival at London, to exhibit her in the Thames as a model American clipper ship, and no expense or skill was spared to make her a worthy representative. She was 1066 tons register, length 178 feet, breadth 36 feet, depth 20 feet, with 36 inches dead-rise at half floor.

Unfortunately, when the Nightingale was nearly completed, and ready for launching, her owners fell short of money. Mr. Hanscom, however, carried out his contract, and the ship was finished and then put into the hands of Governor Goodwin, of Portsmouth, to dispose of, each sub-contractor agreeing to accept his pro rata share of the proceeds. She was taken to Boston and there attracted the attention of Sampson & Tappen, who were so well pleased with the ship that they gladly paid the sum of $75,000 for her. This left the subcontractors, such as sparmakers, sailmakers, riggers, and blockmakers, an additional profit beyond their contract, and Mr. Hanscom also realized a larger amount than he would have received under the original contract. So great was the excitement over the news from California, and so keen the demand for clippers at this time, that almost any of them could have been sold for a substantial advance upon their contract price. Those were the palmy days of the ocean carrying trade, and at no period before, or since, have ships yielded such golden harvests to their builders and owners.

The Witch of the Wave registered 1494 tons, and measured: length 202 feet, breadth 40 feet, depth 21 feet, with 40 inches dead-rise at half floor. Her mainmast was 90 feet and her mainyard 81 feet in length. Though built at Portsmouth, she was owned by Captain John Bertram and Alfred Peabody, of Salem, and was the pride of that ancient seaport. It was usual in those days for owners to entertain on board their ships when favorable opportunity offered, so the trip of the Witch of the Wave from Portsmouth to Salem to obtain her register was made an occasion of festivity.

The first of May was the day selected, but lowering clouds and squalls of wind and rain decided Captain Bertram to postpone the cruise until more favorable weather, and those of his guests who had appeared upon the scene were rewarded by an opportunity to examine the ship at their leisure. They found her a very handsome vessel, with grace and beauty in every line and curve of her hull. Her decks were remarkably clear, with plenty of room for working ship, and the between-decks had more than ample head room and were well ventilated. Her figurehead represented a young woman partially clad in gossamer drapery of white and gold, with one shapely arm extended and her small bare feet lightly stepping upon the crest of a wave, while the stern was ornamented with a seashell in which a child was being drawn by dolphins. These designs were executed by John W. Mason, of Boston, and were of decided artistic merit. The cabins and staterooms were finished in the most luxurious manner, the wainscot of the main cabin being of rosewood, birdseye maple, satin and zebra wood, exquisitely polished, with cornices and mouldings of white and gold.

After an inspection of the ship lunch was served, and Ephraim F. Miller, Collector of the Port of Salem, proposed the following toast: "Success to the newest and youngest of the Salem Witches. She perhaps includes in her composition an equal amount of craft with her unfortunate predecessors. Had they possessed a proportional share of her beauty, we are confident that the sternest tribunal before which any of them were arraigned, would never have had the heart to subject a single one to the trial to which their successor is designed—the Trial by Water." This sentiment was received with applause by the company, who then separated, some returning to Salem by train, while others remained over night, to be ready for the next day in case the weather improved. In the evening the Raynes Mansion was the scene of generous hospitality.

During the night the sky cleared, the sun came up warm and bright with a pleasant northwesterly breeze, and the early morning found Portsmouth in a state of bustle and excitement. Wagons laden with hampers, bags, and boxes of good things, with plenty of ice to keep them cool, were unloaded alongside the ship, and presently the R. B. Forbes appeared steaming up the river with a big bone in her teeth, the embodiment of energy and strength. The morning train came in, bringing a large number of men and women, from Boston, Salem, and Newburyport, who, with the Portsmouth guests, made a distinguished company of more than two hundred persons.

At about eleven o'clock, everything being ready, the Witch of the Wave, with colors flying and the Boston Cadet Band on board playing "The Star Spangled Banner," was towed out into the stream amid the shouts and cheers of a multitude of people, who thronged the wharves and shipyards along the river. After passing through the Narrows and rounding New Castle Point, the R. B. Forbes, which had been towing alongside, took her hawser out ahead and shaped a course for Cape Ann, which brought the wind well over the starboard quarter.

The breeze had freshened, though the sea was still quite smooth, and this, with the clear, blue sky and bright sunshine, made a day altogether too fine to be spent on shore.

Many of those on board were interested to see what effect some canvas would have on the new clipper, so Mr. Raynes said to Captain Bertram that he thought it might perhaps be a good plan to set some sail, "just to assist the tow-boat a little." Captain Bertram, with a twinkle in his eye, said he thought so, too, and gave orders to loose the topsails, jib, and foretopmast staysail. The Witch of the Wave had a crew of Portsmouth riggers, shipped by the run to Boston, and it did not take them long to put the topsails on her. As soon as the yards were braced, she began to dart through the water like a fish, and soon ranged up on the weather beam of the R. B. Forbes, the hawser towing between them with the bight skipping along among the blue waves in showers of sparkling spray. On board the R. B. Forbes the safety valve was lifting, with steam at thirty pounds pressure murmuring in protest to the breeze. There was great joy on board the Witch of the Wave, with clapping of hands and waving of handkerchiefs, while the band struck up "A Life on the Ocean Wave." The log was hove, and she took nine and one half knots off the reel. The topsail yards were then lowered on the caps, and the reef tackles hauled out, yet with only this small canvas, the R. B. Forbes did not have much towing to do.

After rounding Thacher's Island, a banquet was served on tables in the between-decks, which were decorated with the ensigns of all nations, and at the close of the entertainment speeches were made by E. H. Derby, a grandson of Salem's great merchant of that name, Charles H. Parker, Henry N. Hooper, and the Hon. Charles W. Upham; then the following resolution was adopted with hearty cheers:

"Ship Witch of the Wave,
"Off Salem Light, May 2, 1851.


"At a meeting of invited guests, held this afternoon, it was unanimously

"Resolved—That the ladies and gentlemen here assembled gratefully acknowledge the courtesy, kindness, and generous hospitality of Captain John Bertram and the other owners of the Witch of the Wave, on this festive day, and tender their best wishes for the success of this noble vessel.

"E. H. Derby, Chairman.

"Charles H. Parker, Secretary."

After this, Jonathan Nicholas, of Salem, recited the following impromptu lines:

"I wonder what's the dreadful row
They're kicking up in Portsmouth now!
The people running up and down
Crying 'All Salem's come to town!'

Clear the track, the ship is starting!
Clear the track, the ship is starting!
Clear the track, the ship is starting!
And Portsmouth hearts are sad at parting.

"They say a man came down to-day
To carry the Witch of the Wave away;
And the people think he ought n't oughter
Just because he 's been and brought her.

"They called it rainy yesterday,
But I know better, anyway;
'T was only Portsmouth people crying
To see the good ship's colors flying!

"But Captain B. said, 'Hang the sorrow!
The sun is bound to shine to-morrow.'
And when he speaks it's no use talking—
So the clouds and the blues, they took to walking.

"And so to-day the sun shines bright,
And Salem sends her heart's delight;
And the good ship flies, and the wind blows free.
As she leaps to her lover's arms—the sea!

"They have crowded her deck with the witty and wise,
The saltest wisdom and merriest eyes;
And manned her yards with a gallant crew
That it tickles her staunch old ribs to view.

"They say she's bound to sail so fast
That a man on deck can't catch the mast!
And a porpoise trying to keep ahead,
Will get run over and killed stone dead.

"Then here's a health to the hands that wrought her,
And three times three to the mind that thought her
For thought's the impulse, work's the way
That brings all Salem here to-day.

"Clear the track, the ship is starting!
Clear the track, the ship is starting!
Clear the track, the ship is starting!

And Portsmouth hearts are sad at parting."


Repeated rounds of applause greeted this effusion, and the company went on deck, where music called the dancers to their feet. The wind had died out, and as the sun began to set in the west, the Witch of the Wave anchored in Salem harbor. The day's pleasure was brought to a close by a portion of the company singing these lines of Whittier's that had been set to music for the occasion:

"God bless her wheresoe'er the breeze
    Her snowy wings shall fan,
  Beside the frozen Hebrides
    Or sultry Hindostan!

"Where'er, in mart or on the main,
    With peaceful flag unfurled.
  She helps to wind the silken chain
    Of commerce round the world.

"Her pathway on the open main
    May blessings follow free,
  And glad hearts welcome back again
    Her white sails from the sea!"


The guests were landed in boats at Phillips's wharf, in time to reach their homes by the early evening trains, and on the following day the R. B. Forbes towed the Witch of the Wave to Boston, where she loaded in Glidden & Williams's Line for San Francisco, under the command of Captain J. Hardy Millett.