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Chapter 42:

  • The ‘crossing’ of the thirtieth parallel
  • -- the toll-gate upon the sea -- how the travellers Pass along the highway -- capture of the Washington; the John A. Parks; the Bathiah Thayer; the Punjaub; the morning Star; the Kingfisher; the Charles Hill; and the Nora -- crosses the equator -- capture of the Louisa Hatch -- arrival at Fernando de Noronha.

Reaching the blazed road, of which I spoke in the last chapter, I shortened sail, at the crossing mentioned, that I might waylay such of the passengers as chanced to be enemies. There were a great many ships passing, both ways, on this road, some going to the Pacific, or the Far East, and others returning from those distant points; but they were nearly all neutral. The American ships, having, by this time, become thoroughly alarmed, especially since they learned that neither English sealing-wax, nor Admiral Milne could save them, had dodged the highways, as skulkers and thieves are wont to do, and taken to the open fields and by-ways for safety. On the day after the capture of the Olive Jane and Golden Eagle, the weather being cloudy and rainy, and the wind light, four more sail were seen—all European bound. At eight A. M. we showed the United States colors to one of them, which proved to be a French bark. It now became calm, and we were compelled to get up steam, to overhaul the rest. They lay long distances apart, and we were several hours in passing from one to the other. They were all Englishmen, with various histories and destinations, one of them— a fine frigate-built ship—being a Melbourne and Liverpool [582] packet. We received a paper from her, printed at the antipodes, but there was not much in it, besides the proceedings of the Australian Parliament, news from the gold-diggings, and the price of wool; in neither of which subjects were we much interested.

On the next day but a solitary passenger came over the road. It was late at night when she made her appearance— there being a bright moon and a brisk breeze. We made sail in chase, and the chase, taking the alarm, gave us a very pretty run for a few hours. We overhauled her, however, at length, and fired the usual blank cartridge, to heave her to. She was an hermaphrodite brig, and might be, for aught we could see, in the uncertain light, American. The gun had no effect. We waited a few minutes for a response, but none coming, we fired again—sending a shot whizzing, this time, over the little craft. Still no response. We were now only a few hundred yards distant. What could the fellow mean? All was as silent on board the chase as death, and not a tack or sheet had been started. We ran now almost on board of her, and hailing her, commanded her to heave to. Great confusion followed. We could hear voices speaking in a foreign tongue, and presently a disorderly array of sails whipping and flapping in the wind, and of yards swinging to and fro, presented itself. At last the little craft managed to come to the wind, and make a halt. She proved to be a Portuguese brig, and the crew had been so alarmed, at being chased and fired at, by night, as to lose all presence of mind, and become incapable of any action whatever, until they were somewhat reassured, by the near presence of our ship and the sound of our voices. She was bound from Pernambuco to Lisbon, with a cargo of hides and sugar. It was, indeed, something like a ghost-chase, to see the Alabama coming, in the dead of night after the little craft, with her seven-league boots on, and those awful trysails of hers spread out in the moonlight like so many winding-sheets.

On the day after this adventure, a Dutch bark and an English brig came along; and on the same night, we boarded the English four-master, the Sarah Sands, from the East Indies for Falmouth. At daylight, the next morning, the look-out at the mast-head began to cry sails, until he reported as many as [583] seven in sight at one time. They were all European bound, and were jogging along, in company, following Maury's blazes, like so many passengers on a highway. The Alabama stood like a toll-gate before them, and though we could not take toll of them, as they were all neutral, we made each traveller show us his passport, as he came up. One obstinate fellow—a Hamburger—refused to show us his colors, until he was commanded to do so by a gun. I made it a practice to punish these unmannerly fellows, for their want of civility. On the present occasion, the Hamburger was detained a considerable time, whilst I exercised, at my leisure, my belligerent right of viseing his papers. When his travelling companions were some miles ahead of him, I told the surly fellow to pick up his hat and be off.

On the next day, being still in latitude 30°, and longitude 40°, or at the ‘crossing,’ an English and an American ship came along. The Englishman saluted us civilly as he passed. He was from the East Indies, laden with silks and wines. But the American, seeing that we were under short sail—though the weather was fine—resting by the wayside, as it were, and remembering that there was a little unpleasantness between the North and South, fought rather shy of us, and endeavored to get out of the way of possible harm. She was a fine, large ship, and the moment she showed an intention not to pass through the toll-gate, we made sail in pursuit. She had heels, but they were not quite as clean as the Alabama's, and we came up with her, in the course of two or three hours; she having approached pretty close, before she smelt the rat. She was obstinate, and compelled me to wet the people on her poop, by the spray of a shot, before she would acknowledge that she was beaten. The shower-bath made a stir among the bystanders; there was a running hither and thither, a letting go of sheets and halliards, and pretty soon the main-yard swung aback, and the stars and stripes were seen ascending to the stranger's peak. When the boarding-officer brought the master of the captured ship on board, with his papers, she proved to be the ship Washington, of New York, from the Chincha Islands, bound to Antwerp, with a cargo of guano, laden on account of the Peruvian government, and consigned [584] to its agent at Antwerp, for sale. Being unable to destroy the ship, because of the neutral ownership of her cargo, I released her on ransom-bond, sent my prisoners on board of her to be landed, and permitted her to depart. This capture was made on the 27th of February. On the 28th we overhauled two English ships, from the East Indies, homeward bound, and a French ship, from Batavia, for Nantes. The weather continued very fine, and we had had a uniformly high barometer, ever since we had reached the ‘crossing.’

The morning of the 1st of March dawned charmingly, with a very light breeze. The night had been rather dark, and we had been lying — to under topsails. In the darkness of the night, an enemy's ship had approached us unawares. She had been following the blazes, without seeing the toll-gate, and the revelations made by the morning's light, must have startled her; for she found herself within half a mile of an exceedingly saucy-looking gunboat, lying in wait for somebody, or something. It was nearly calm, and she could not help herself if she would. On the other hand, the gunboat was delighted to see a tall ship, whose masts tapered like a lady's fingers, arrayed in the whitest of petticoats—to carry out our figure—and which, from the course she was steering, was evidently just out from Yankee-land, with that mail on board, which we had been anxiously looking for, for several days past. We were in the midst of the scrubbing and cleaning of the morning watch, and to effect the capture, it was not even necessary to lay aside a holy-stone, or a scrubbing-brush. A gun and a Confederate flag, were all that was required to bring the tall ship to a halt, and remove her doubts, if she had had any. She was the John A. Parks, of Hallowell, Maine.

The cargo of the Parks consisted of white pine lumber which she had taken on board at New York, and she was bound to Montevideo, or Buenos Ayres, as the consignee might elect. There was an affidavit found among her papers, made by one Snyder, before a Mr. Edwards Pierrepont, who appears to have been acting as British Consul, claiming that the cargo was shipped on account of a London house. The real facts of the case, however, as gathered from the correspondence, and the testimony of the master, were, that one [585] Davidson, a lumber dealer in New York had chartered the ship, and shipped the lumber, in the usual course of his business, to the parties in Montevideo; that he had paid most of the freight, in advance, and insured himself against the war risk, both upon the cargo and the freight. The manner in which this case was ‘put up,’ in the papers, was an improvement upon some others I had examined. The New York merchants were evidently becoming expert in the preparation of bogus certificates. It was no longer merely stated that the property belonged to ‘neutral owners,’ but the owners themselves were named. In short, the certificate found on board the Parks was in due form, but unfortunately for the parties who contrived the clever little plot, the master forgot to throw overboard his letter-bag, and among the letters found in that bag, was one written by Davidson, giving instructions to the consignees, in which the following expressions occur: ‘The cargo of the John A. Parks, I shall have certified to, by the British Consul, as the property of British subjects. You will find it a very good cargo, and should command the highest prices.’ By the time that I had finished the examination of the case, Bartelli announced breakfast, and I invited my Hallowell friend to take a cup of coffee with me, telling him, at the same time, that I should burn his ship. As well as I recollect, he declined the coffee, but I am quite certain that the ship was burned. The carpenter of the Alabama was thrown into ecstasies by this capture. All the other departments of the ship had been kept well supplied, except his own. The paymaster, who was also commissary, the boatswain, the sailmnaker, had all been ‘plundering’ the enemy quite extensively, but no ‘boards’ had come along, until now, for the poor carpenter. Here they were at last, however, and if I had not put some restraint upon my zealous officer of the adze and chisel, I believe he would have converted the Alabama into a lumberman.

We received from the Parks, sure enough, the mail we had been waiting for. There must have been a barrel-full, and more of newspapers and periodicals, going to the Montevideans and Buenos Ayreans— many of them in the best of Spanish, and all explaining the ‘great moral ideas,’ on which the Southern people were being robbed of their property, and having their [586] throats cut. We gleaned one gratifying piece of intelligence, however, from these papers. ‘The Pirate Florida’ had put to sea from Mobile, to assist the ‘British Pirate,’ in plundering, and burning the ‘innocent merchant-ships of the United States, pursuing their peaceful commerce,’ as Mr. Charles Francis Adams, so often, and so naively expressed it to Earl Russell. Whilst the Parks was still burning, an English bark passed through the toll-gate, the captain of which was prevailed upon, to take the master of the burning ship, his wife, and two nephews, to London. We were glad, on the poor lady's account, that she was so soon relieved from the discomforts of a small and crowded ship.

The next traveller that came along was the Bethiah Thayer, of Rockland, Maine, last from the Chincha Islands, with a cargo of guano for the Peruvian Government. The cargo being properly documented, I put the ship under ransom-bond, and permitted her to pass. It was Sunday; the Bethiah was dressed in a new suit of cotton canvas, and looked quite demure and saint-like, while her papers were being examined. I have no doubt if I had questioned her master, that he would have been found to have voted for Breckinridge.

I now resolved to fill away, stand down toward the equator, and hold myself stationary, for a few days, at the ‘crossing’ of that famous great circle. I was far enough to the eastward, to make a free wind of the north-east trade, and we jogged along under topsails, making sail only when it became necessary to chase. We-lost our fine weather almost immediately upon leaving the ‘crossing,’ and took a series of moderate gales— sometimes, however, reducing us to close reefs—which lasted us for a week or ten days, or until we began to approach the rains and calms of the equator. We met a number of sails on the road, and now and then chased one, but they all proved to be neutral. On the night of the 15th of March, at a few minutes before midnight, the weather being thick and murky, the look-out at the cat-head suddenly cried ‘sail ho! close aboard;’ and in a few minutes a large ship passed us on the opposite tack, within speaking distance. We hailed, but she passed on like a goblin ship, without giving us any reply. She had all sails set, there was no one stirring on board of her, [587] and the only light that was visible, was the one which twinkled in the binnacle. We wore ship with all expedition, shook the reefs out of the topsails, and made sail in pursuit. It took us some minutes to accomplish this, and by the time we were well under way, the stranger was nearly out of sight. Both ships were on a wind, however, and this, as the reader has seen, was the Alabama's best point of sailing. Our nightglasses soon began to tell the usual tale. We were overhauling the chase; and at a quarter past three, or a little before dawn, we were near enough to heave her to, with a gun. She proved to be the Punjaub, of Boston, from Calcutta for London. Her cargo consisted chiefly of jute and linseed, and was properly certificated as English property. The goods were, besides, of foreign growth, and were going from one English port to another. I released her on ransom-bond, and sent on board of her the prisoners from the last ship burned.

Soon after daylight, we gave chase to another sail in the E. S. E., with which we cane up about eight A. M. She was an English ship, from the Mauritius, for Cork. She confirmed our suspicion, that the Yankee ships were avoiding, as a general rule, the beaten tracks, having spoken one of them on the ‘line,’ bound to the coast of Brazil, which had travelled as far east as the twenty-third meridian; or about four hundred miles out of her way. We were still standing to the southward, and on the 21st of March we were very near the sun, for while he was crossing the equator, we were in latitude 2° 47′ N.; our longitude being 26° W. On that day, the weather is thus recorded in my journal: ‘Cloudy, with squalls of rain, and the wind shifting, indicating that we have lost the “trades.” It is pleasant to hear the thunder roll, for the first time in several months, sounding like the voice of an old friend; and the crew seem to enjoy a ducking from the heavy showers-rain having been a rare visitor of late.’ And on the next day, the following is the record: ‘Rains, and calms all day; the officers and crew alike, are paddling about the deck in bare feet, and enjoying the pelting of the rain, like young ducks. Three neutrals, in company, bound like ourselves, across the “line.” They look, at a distance, with their drooping sails flapping idly in the calm, as disconsolate as wet barn-yard fowls at home, on a rainy day.’ [588]

On the 23d of March, the weather being still as described, and very little change having taken place in our position, we made two more captures; the first, the Morning Star of Boston, from Calcutta for London, and the second the whaling schooner Kingfisher, of Fairhaven, Massachusetts. The cargo of the Morning Star being in the same category as that of the Punjaub, we released her also, on ransom-bond. The Kingfisher we burned. This adventurous little whaler had a crew of twentythree persons, all of whom were Portuguese, except the master, and mate, and one or two boat-steerers. We set fire to her just at nightfall, and the conflagration presented a weird-like spectacle on the ‘line,’ amid the rumbling of thunder, the shifting, but ever black scenery, of the nimbi, or rain clouds, and the pouring and dashing of torrents of rain. Sometimes the flames would cower beneath a drenching shower, as though they had been subdued, but in a moment afterward, they would shoot up, mast-head high, as brightly and ravenously as before. The oil in her hold kept her burning on the surface of the still sea, until a late hour at night.

On the next day, we boarded, as usual, a number of neutral ships, of different nationalities, some going south, and some going north. We were at the ‘crossing’ of the equator, ‘blazed’ by Maury, and with the main topsail at the mast, were reviewing, as it were, the commerce of the world. We were never out of sight of ships. They were passing, by ones, and twos, and threes, in constant succession, wreathed in rain and mist, and presenting frequently the idea of a funeral procession. The honest traders were all there, except the most honest of them all—the Yankees—and they were a little afraid of the police. Still we managed to catch a rogue now and then.

On the second day after burning the Kingfisher, we made two more captures. Late in the afternoon of that day, we descried two large ships approaching us, in company. They came along lovingly, arm-in-arm, as it were, as though in the light airs and calms that were prevailing, they had been having a friendly chat, or one of the masters had been dining on board of the other. They were evidently American ships, and had most likely been having a cosy talk about the war. [589] The ‘sainted’ Abraham's Emancipation Proclamation was the favorite topic of the day, as we had learned from the mailbags of the Parks, and perchance they had been discussing that; or perhaps the skippers were congratulating themselves upon having escaped the Alabama; they probably supposing her to be at the other toll-gate still. Whatever may have been the subject of their discourse, they evidently pricked up their ears, as soon as they saw the Alabama, stripped like a gentleman who was taking it coolly, with nothing but her topsails set, and lying across their path. They separated gradually; and quietly, and by stealth, a few more studding-sails were sent up aloft.

It was time now for the Alabama to move. Her main yard was swung to the full, sailors might have been seen running up aloft, like so many squirrels, who thought they saw ‘nuts’ ahead, and pretty soon, upon a given signal the top-gallant sails and royals might have been seen fluttering in the breeze, for a moment, and then extending themselves to their respective yard-arms. A whistle or two from the boatswain and his mates, and the trysail sheets are drawn aft, and the Alabama has on those seven-league boots which the reader has seen her draw on so often before. A stride or two, and the thing is done. First, the Charles Hill, of Boston, shortens sail, and runs up the ‘old flag,’ and then the Nora, of the same pious city, follows her example. They were both laden with salt, and both from Liverpool. The Hill was bound to Montevideo, or Buenos Ayres, and there was no attempt to cover her cargo. The Nora was bound to Calcutta, under a charter-party with one W. N. de Mattos. In the bill of lading, the cargo was consigned to order, and on the back of the instrument was the following indorsement: ‘I hereby certify, that the salt shipped on board the Nora, is the property of W. N. de Mattos, of London, and that the said W. N. de Mattos is a British subject, and was so at the time of the shipment.’ This certificate was signed by one H. E. Folk, and at the bottom of the certificate were the words, ‘R. C. Gardner, Mayor’—presumed to mean the Mayor of Liverpool.

Here was a more awkward attempt to cover a cargo than any of my Yankee friends of New York or Boston had ever made. [590] There was very little doubt that the salt was English-owned, but the certificate, I have recited, did not amount even to an ex parte affidavit, it not being sworn to. As a matter of course, I was bound to presume the property to be enemy, it being found, unprotected by any legal evidence, in an enemy's ship. The Hill and the Nora were, therefore, both consigned to the flames, after we had gotten on board from them such articles as we stood in need of. We received from the two ships between thirty arid forty tons of coal, or about two days steaming. It took us nearly all the following day to transport it in our small boats, and we did not set fire to the ships until five in the afternoon. We received, also, half a dozen recruits from them. I had now quite as many men as I wanted.

Among the papers of the Hill was found the following brief letter of instructions from her owner to her master. It is dated from the good city of Boston, and was written while the ship was lying at that other good city, Philadelphia. It is addressed to Captain F. Percival, and goes on to say:—

‘dear Sir:— I have received your several letters from Philadelphia. As a rebel privateer has burned several American ships, it may be as well if you can have your bills of lading indorsed as English property; and have your cargo certified to by the British Consul.’

Such nice little missives as these, written from one city of ‘grand moral ideas,’ to another city, whose ideas were no less grand or moral, quietly instructing ship-masters to commit perjury, were of great assistance to me, when, in the classical words of the New York Commercial Advertiser, I had a ‘Yankee hash’ to deal with.

On the 29th of March we crossed the equator. The event is thus recorded in my journal: ‘Crossed the equator at five P. M. in the midst of a dense rain-squall, with lowering, black clouds, and the wind from the south-west. We were in chase of a sail at the time, but lost her in the gloom. It rained all night, with light airs and calms. We have experienced a southeasterly current, setting at the rate of a knot and a half the hour, for the last twenty-four-hours.’ We made our crossing a little farther to the eastward than usual—26°—on purpose [591] to counteract the Yankee dodge spoken of a little while back. We now encountered a variety of currents, some setting to the south-east as just mentioned, others to the east, others to the south, until finally we fell in with the great equatorial current setting to the westward.

The study of the phenomena of the currents, is one of the most interesting that can engage the attention of the marine philosopher. We have already had occasion to explain the circulation of the atmosphere—how the wind ‘cometh and goeth,’ not at random, but in obedience to certain well-defined natural laws. The circulation of the sea is no less regular than that of the atmosphere, and has equally important offices to perform. If the sea were a stagnant mass of waters, some portions of the earth which now enjoy temperate climates, and teem with millions of population in the enjoyment of an abundant fauna and flora, would be almost uninhabitable because of the extreme cold. Some portions of the sea would dry up, and become beds of salt, and others again would, from the superabundance of precipitation, become fresh, or nearly so. In short, there would be a general disturbance of the harmonies of creation. To obviate this, and to put the sea in motion, various agencies have been set at work by the great Architect; chief among which is the unequal distribution of heat over the earth's surface. We have already called the sun the Father of the Winds; he is equally the father of the currents. The warm water of the equator is constantly flowing off to the poles, and the cold water of the poles flowing back, as undercurrents, to the equator. This flow is not directly north, or directly south, but by a variety of tortuous channels. The different depths of the ocean, the obstructions of islands, and continents, clouds and Sunshine, and a great many other agencies, combine to give this tortuosity and seeming irregularity to the currents.

Let us take an example. The Alabama has just experienced a south-east current in a locality where the current sets, as a general rule, to the westward. How are we to account for this? It may be due to a variety of causes, all working in harmony, however, with the general design. In the first place, it may be a counter-current going to fill the place left [592] vacant by some other current; for, as a matter of course, when a given quantity of water flows away from a place, the same quantity must flow back to it. Or it may be a principal, and not an accessory current, set in motion, say by heat. Let us see how easily this may be accomplished. Suppose a dense canopy of clouds to overshadow some considerable space of the sea, for a day, or it may be, for a few hours only. Whilst the rays of the sun are shut out from this space, they are pouring down their heat with tropical fervor, say to the south of this cloud-bank. Under the cloud-bank the water is cooling, beyond the bank it is being heated. Under the bank evaporation has ceased almost altogether, beyond the bank it is going on at the rate of about an inch in twenty-four hours. Here are powerful agencies at work, changing both the temperature, and specific gravity of the waters.

Waters to be at rest must have the same temperature and specific gravity. These waters therefore cannot remain at rest, and a current is the consequence. To-morrow, perhaps, the process will be reversed, the cloud and the sunshine changing places, and the current flowing in a contrary direction. These are local disturbances of the system of oceanic circulation— little venous derangements, as it were, the great arterial system not being materially affected by them.

There are other exceedingly beautiful agencies at work, on a smaller scale, to disturb the oceanic equilibrium, and set the waters in motion. It has puzzled philosophers to account for the saltness of the sea. Whatever may be its cause, it plays a very important part in giving vitality to its circulation. If sea-water were fresh, evaporation would not produce any change in its specific gravity. One element of motion, therefore, would be wanted. But being salt, and the salts not being taken up by the thirsty air, in the process of evaporation, every rain-drop that is withdrawn from it, helps to put the currents in motion.

But these are surface operations; let us dive beneath the surface, and witness some of the wonders that are going on in the depths below. We have before shown the reader, the coralline insect, that wonderful little stone-mason of the sea, which, in the hands of Providence, is the architect of islands and continents. The sea-water is the quarry from which this little [593] toiler extracts his tiny blocks of masonry. If the water were fresh, it would not hold the materials in solution, which he needs for his work. But being salt, it has just the materials which he needs.

But how does he affect the currents? the reader will ask. As follows: Every particle of solid matter that he extracts from the sea-water—and he must have limestone to build those islands and continents of which he is the architect—alters its specific gravity. The little globule of water, from which he has just taken the block of stone that would be scarcely visible under a powerful microscope, has become lighter than the surrounding globules, and ascends to the surface. In obedience to the law which we have mentioned, that as much water must flow back to a place, as flows away from it, a globule of water from the surface now descends to take the place of that which has arisen; descends to the little stonemason, that he may rob it, in turn, of the block of stone that it contains. The globules of water thus become the hod-carriers for these little stone-masons, working away, in countless myriads, at the bottom of the sea.

But what becomes of this lighter globule of water, which has arisen to the surface, because it has been deprived of its solid matter? It must flow away somewhere in search of the salts it has lost, for if it remain stationary, in course of time, the sea in its neighborhood will all be deprived of its salts, and there will be no more globules to descend to the little stonemason. But when the globule starts to flow off, a current is established.

The reader may recollect that when we were at the Azores, breaking up that Yankee whaling station, we spoke of the currents, in connection with the whales, and other fishes; how, like ‘reapers and gleaners,’ they bore to them the food which was prepared for them in other latitudes. The reader sees, now, how the currents build the coral bank. Every sea-shell, as it secretes the solid matter for its edifice, helps on the movement set on foot by the coral insect.

On the 3d of April, we observed in latitude 2° 11′ S.; our longitude being 26° 02′. The weather was still thick and rainy, and we had fitful gusts of wind, and calms by turns. [594] During the morning watch, the dense clouds lifted for a while, and showed us a fine, tall ship, steering, like ourselves, to the southward. We immediately made sail in chase. The wind was blowing quite fresh from the south-west, at the time, and we gained very rapidly upon the stranger. At twelve o'clock the wind died away, and the heavy rains being renewed, she was entirely shut out from view. We continued the chase all day; now being sure of her, and now being baffled by the ever-shifting clouds, and changing wind and weather. At length, at five P. M., it being no longer safe to trust to contingencies, as night would set in, in another hour, I sent a whaleboat to board, and halt her, although she was still two miles distant. The boarding was successfully accomplished, and just before dark, we could see the stranger's head turned in our direction. We knew from this circumstance that she was a prize, and hoisting a light, as night set in, to guide the boarding-officer, in an hour or two more she was alongside of us.

The prize proved to be the Louisa Hatch, of Rockland, Maine, from Cardiff, with a cargo of the best Welsh coal, for Point-deGalle, in the island of Ceylon. The bill of lading required the cargo to be delivered to the ‘Messageries Imperiales,’ steamship company, and there was a certificate on the back of the bill of lading to the effect that the coal belonged to that company, but the certificate was not sworn to by the subscriber. This was tantamount to no evidence at all, and I condemned both ship and cargo as prize of war. Here was quite a windfall—a thousand tons of coal, near the coast of Brazil, where it was worth $17 per ton. But what was I to do with the prize? It would be an interminable job to attempt to supply myself from her, by means of my boats, and hauling the two ships alongside of each other, at sea, was not to be thought of. I was bound to the island of Fernando de Noronha, that being the second rendezvous which I had assigned to my old Scotch collier, the Agrippina, and I resolved to take the Hatch in, with me, to abide contingencies. If the Agrippina should arrive in due time, I could burn the Hatch; if not, the Hatch would supply her place.

This being determined upon, I sent a prize crew on board the captured ship, and directed the prize-master to keep company with me. We overhauled an English bark, the next [595] day, bound from Lisbon to Rio Janeiro, from which we received some late Portuguese newspapers, of no particular interest; and on the day afterward, we chased what we took certainly to be a Yankee whaling schooner, but which we found, upon coming up with her, to be a Portuguese. The schooner was a capital imitation of the ‘down East’ fore-and-after, but upon being boarded, she not only proved to be foreign built, but her master and crew were all Portuguese, nearly as black as negroes, with a regular set of Portuguese papers. What added considerably to the cheat was, that the little craft had heels, and I was some two or three hours in coming up with her.

The weather was so thick for the next two or three days, that it was necessary to keep the prize very close to me, to prevent losing sight of her. At night I showed her a light from my peak, and we jogged along within speaking distance of each other. Having had no observation for fixing the position of my ship, during the prevalence of this thick weather, and the direction and velocity of the currents being somewhat uncertain, I was quite anxious lest I should drift past the island I was in quest of, and fall upon some of the foul ground lying between it and the coast of Brazil. On the 9th of April, the sun showed himself for an hour or two, near noon, and I got latitude and longitude, and found that we were in the great equatorial current, as I had supposed, setting us about S. W. by W. at the rate of a knot and a half per hour. I now got up steam, and taking the prize in tow, for it was nearly calm, with but a few cats'-paws playing upon the water, made the best of my way toward Fernando de Noronha.

At daylight, the next morning, we made the famous peak, some forty miles distant, and at half-past 2 P. M. we came to anchor in thirteen fathoms water. The prize, having been cast off as we ran in, anchored near us. The Agrippina had not arrived; nor did I ever see her afterward. Captain Bullock had duly dispatched her, but the worthless old Scotch master made it a point not to find me, and having sold his coal in some port or other, I have forgotten where, returned to England with a cock-and-a-bull story, to account for his failure. The fact is, the old fellow had become alarmed lest he should fall into the hands of the Yankees. It was fortunate that I had not burned the Louisa Hatch.

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