Life of Henry George

first period
CHAPTER II

BEFORE THE MAST

1855-1856 AGE, 16-17


AUSTRALIA and India swam in the boy's fancy as in a still shining sea of gold. Australia, the island continent nearly as large as the United States, giving promise of a great rival, English-speaking republic in the southern hemisphere, had riveted attention by its gold discoveries in the early fifties and by the enormous treasure since taken out – equal almost to that of wonderful California. It was the new land of wealth, where poor, obscure men in a day rose to riches. India lay like a counterpoise in the mind's picture. With her jungles and monkeys, tigers and elephants; her painted idols, fantastical philosophies and poppy smokers – this land of mysteries, old when the pyramids of Egypt and Syria were young, shone through partings in her gorgeous tropical foliage with the gleam of gold and precious stones, despite the pillage of the ages. Whatever the boy had read, from Bible to "Arabian Nights," in magazine or in newspaper; and all that he had heard, in lecture or sermon, from traveller or sailor, burned in his imagination and made him eager to be gone.

The Hindoo was to sail from New York Harbour early in April. On Sunday, April 1, after Sunday school, Henry George received a Bible and a copy of "James's Anxious Enquirer"; and the next morning, bidding fare well at the wharf to his father, and uncles Thomas Latimer and Joseph Van Dusen, his cousin George Latimer and his friends Col Walton and Joe Roberts, he and Captain Miller went aboard the steamboat, crossed the Delaware, took train, and four hours afterwards were in New York. Two letters from him, written from the ship before she got away, have been preserved. They are in large, clear, firm hand, with some shading, some flourishes and a number of misspelled words. In the first, under date of April 6, he says:

 

    "I signed the shipping articles at $6 a month and two months' advance, which I got in the morning.
    "While we were down town we stopped at the Custom House, and Jim [an ordinary seaman] and I got a protection, for which we paid $1 each to a broker.
    "The New York Custom House looks like a cooped up affair along side of the Philadelphia one – there are so many people and so much business and bustle.
    "The upper part of New York is a beautiful place – the streets wide, clear and regular; the houses all a brown stone and standing ten or twenty feet from the pavement, with gardens in front."

To the foregoing letter was added this:

April 7, 1855

 

    "I was stopped [writing] suddenly last night by the entrance of the men to haul her [the vessel] to the end of the wharf and was prevented from going on by their laughing and talking. At about twelve o'clock we commenced and by some pretty hard heaving we got her to the end of the wharf. It was then about two o'clock. So we turned in and slept until about half past five. We got our breakfast, and being taken in tow by a steamboat about 7.30 A.M., proceeded down the stream till off the Battery, where we dropped anchor and now lie.
    "The view from this spot is beautiful – the North River and New York Bay covered with sailing vessels and steamers of every class and size, while back, the hills, gently sloping, are covered with country seats....
    "I ate my first meals sailor style to-day and did not dislike it at all. Working around in the open air gives one such an appetite that he can eat almost anything. We shall go to sea Monday morning early. I should love to see you all again before I go, but that is impossible. I shall write again to-morrow, and if possible get the pilot to take a letter when he leaves, though it is doubtful that I shall be able to write one."

It was in these days preparatory to starting, when there were a lot of odd things to do, that the boatswain, busy with some splicing, sent the boy for some tar; and when the boy stopped to look around for a stick, the sailor in surprise and disgust cried to him to bring the tar in his hand! Another incident of a similar kind appears in his second letter, which is dated April 9 and is addressed to his Aunt Mary, one of his mother's sisters, a most unselfish and lovable maiden lady who helped raise the large brood of George children, and who, until her death in 1875, had never been separated from her sister, Mrs. George. She was loved as a second mother by the children.

 

    "We are not at sea, as we expected to be by this time, but still lying off the Battery. The ship could not sail this morning for want of seamen. They are very scarce in New York now and all sorts of men are shipping as sailors. Two Dutch boys shipped as able sea men and came on board yesterday afternoon. The smallest one had been to sea before, but the largest did not know the difference between a yard and a block.

The second mate told them to go aloft and slush down the masts. This morning the smallest went up, but the other could not go up at all. So I had to go aloft and do it. The work was a good deal easier than I expected. I don't mind handling grease at all now."[1]

Then the letter proceeds:

 

    "Captain Miller has been ashore all day trying to get men. There is to be one sent on board in place of the largest Dutchman. I pity the poor fellow, though to be sure he had no business to ship as seaman. He says he has four trades – baker, shoemaker, etc. An other man came aboard this morning as able seaman who could not get into the foretop. They sent him ashore. The captain shipped to-day as ordinary sea men two lads, one a Spaniard and the other English, I believe. They are fine sailor looking fellows. The cook, steward and two of the men are from the West Indies. All sailed in whalers. There are no cleaner looking men in Parkinson's.
    "We have better living than I expected – fresh and salt beef, potatoes and rice – and all cooked in the finest style; but I cannot like the coffee as yet.

    "They have just brought two men aboard and taken the Dutchmen off. This is the last letter that I shall have a chance to send till we get to Melbourne, where I hope there will be letters awaiting me."

    April 10

    "We have just been heaving the cable short and shall be ready as soon as the tow boat comes. I hope that by this time Morrie [his baby brother] is well. I could spin out four or five pages, but I have not time. I would have written a great many more letters, but could not. When you read this letter you must remember where it was written – on the top of my chest in the after house (where I sleep, along with Jim, the carpenter and the cook). I have to dip my pen into the bottle at almost every word. Good-bye father and mother, aunts and uncles, brothers and sisters, cousins and friends. God bless you all and may we all meet again.

    "P.S. I have received letters from Martha Curry and George Latimer and shall reply the first chance."

    9.30 A.M.

    "We are now going down the bay in tow of a steam boat and shall soon be at sea. I shall get the captain to send this ashore by the pilot. God bless you all. It is cloudy and drizzling – blows a stiff breeze from the south.

    "Good-bye,
    "HENRY GEORGE."

So it was that the Hindoo, a full-rigged ship of 586 tons register – a very large ship at that time[2] – with 500,000 feet of lumber aboard and a crew of twenty men, all told, started on her long voyage; and as she glided down the bay and through the "Narrows" on her way to the ocean, on the left bank, eighty feet above the water, stood an old white house that forty years later, when his fame had spread through the world, was to become Henry George's home and witness the end of his career. But the boy, all unconscious of this, had been set to work, as he says in his sea journal, "in company with the other boys to picking oakum for the carpenter, who was busy fastening and calking the hatches."

This journal or log, covers most of the voyage, and with the few letters that still exist, and an account of the passage written by Captain Miller for his friend, George Latimer, furnishes pretty full and clear information as to this important formative period. The journal consists of an original in two parts and three incomplete fair copies. The original parts are quite rough and show marks of wear and stains of water. One is of white, the other of blue, unruled, large sized letter paper, folded so as to make neat pages of four by six inches, and stitched together with heavy linen thread, such as might have been used in sewing sails. The entries are mostly in pencil, the spelling not of the best, and the writing not uniform – in some places quite faint – but generally small, condensed, round and clear. The fair copies are in a fine state of preservation. They are written in large, bold hand in commercial blank books and the spelling is correct. Two of them may have been copied while at sea, but the fullest and best looking one was doubtless written in Philadelphia after the voyage.[3]

From Captain Miller's account it appears that when the Hindoo cast off the tug that was taking her to sea, the wind was from the south-east and right ahead, and the pilot advised him to anchor at Sandy Hook; "but," says the Captain, "we could not wait. We set all sail and stood E.N.E. until we saw the rocks of Long Island. We then tacked to the south'd and stood down until we were abreast the Capes of Delaware. Then a gale of wind from the north-west commenced, lasting four days; during which time we made good progress off the coast." The boy's log for these four days runs as follows:

 

    "Tues. 10....� About 12 A.M. we passed Sandy Hook, and a slight breeze springing up, set all fore and aft sail. About 3 P.M. discharged the tow boat and pilot. Soon after I began to feel sea-sick, and the breeze dying away, the tossing of the vessel very much increased it.... After supper all hands were called aft and the watches chosen. I was taken by the mate for the larboard... It being the larboard watch's first watch below, I turned in at 8 P.M.

    "Wed. 11.� I was roused out of a sound sleep at 12 o'clock to come on deck and keep my watch. On turning out I found a great change in the weather. The wind had shifted to N.W. and came out cold and fierce. The ship was running dead before it in a S.E. direction, making about 8 or 9 knots an hour. After keeping a cold and dreary watch until 4 A.M. we were relieved and I was enabled to turn in again. All this day sea-sick by spells.... It will be a long time before we are in this part of the world again, homeward bound. Twelve months seem as if they would never pass. In the afternoon all hands were engaged in getting the anchors on the forecastle and securing them for a long passage. The colour of the sea is green on sounding, the shade varying according to the depth of water, and a beautiful blue outside, and so very clear that objects can be seen at a great depth.

    "Thurs. 12.� A brisk breeze all day from N.W. with frequent showers of rain. Numbers of Stormy Petrels or Mother Carey's Chickens hovering about the quarter. Weather rather cool.

    "Fri. 13.� A fine bright day; wind still the same. Hoisting the lower stun'sail in the forenoon, the halyards parted, and the sail was with difficulty secured. The sea-sickness has now entirely left me."

The old ship after twenty-five years of hard service was pretty nearly worn out, and the log reveals a series of breakages, and some consequent accidents.

 

    "Sat. 14.� Commenced with fine clear weather and brisk breeze from N.W. About 5.30 A.M., the larboard watch being on deck, the tiller of the rudder suddenly broke in half. All hands were immediately called and everything let go and clewed up. Tackles were got on the rudder and the ship steered by them, while the carpenter immediately set to work on a new one. While furling the main top-gallant sail a man belonging to the larboard watch, John Prentz by name, fell from the yard to the deck. Luckily the main topsail, which was clewed up, broke his fall, or he would certainly have been killed. On taking him forward, his arm was found to have been broken in three places, but otherwise he had sustained no serious injury. His arm was set and bandaged by the mate. The carpenter finished the tiller about 4 P.M., when, everything being replaced, sail was again made on the ship and she continued on her course with a fair, though light wind. The old tiller which had suddenly broken, and which outwardly appeared so firm and sound, was in the centre completely rotted away.... The account which the man who fell from aloft gave of his mishap when he had recovered his senses was that he was pulling on the gasket with both hands when it suddenly parted and he was precipitated backwards. He knew no more until he found himself in the forecastle with his arm bandaged up."

The fifteenth of April is noted in the log as the "first Sunday at sea," and that instead of being seated in St. Paul's Church, they were "ploughing the ocean a thousand miles away." Soon the entries take more of the formal aspect of a ship's log and less of a personal journal, though once in a while they relax into general observation and fancy. On May 3, for instance, the ship, lying in a dead calm, was surrounded by a large school of dolphins, which presented "a most beautiful appearance in the water, changing to brilliant colours as they swam from place to place." On May 24 calms and light airs, with this entry:

 

    "At 8.30 A.M. the mate succeeded in striking one of the porpoises which were playing under the bows. The fish was immediately run up to the bowsprit end by all hands, when a running bowline was put around his tail and he was hauled inboard, where he was soon despatched and dissected. We had a sort of hash of his flesh for supper, which was very palatable, and the rest was hung up to the topsail sheets, where it spoiled in the moonlight."[4]

Thoughts kept reverting to home, and there is more than one entry like: "Would have given anything to have been back to breakfast." Then came the Fourth of July:

 

    "Wed. July 4.� Commenced with a fresh breeze from N. At 5 A.M. wind died away; at 8 A.M. came out from S. At 12 M. double reefed topsails and single reefed mainsail. During the rest of the day showery. Lat. 33 S., lon. 6 W. At 12 o'clock last night the day was ushered in by three discharges from a small swivel, which made a great deal of noise, rousing up all who were asleep. As soon as the smoke cleared away and the dead and wounded were mustered, it was found that it had not been without execution, all the glass on one side of the house being shattered (a loss not easily repaired) a port blown out; and the waddings (made of rope yarn, and very hard) had passed, one through the head of the new water cask, and another through the new foretopsail, which had not been bent a week. The wind, which had been strong from aft the day before, during the middle watch died away and was succeeded by a calm until 8 A.M., when a stiff breeze from the South sprang up, accompanied by showers of rain. At 12 M. all hands were called to reef. While reefing the foretopsail the parrel of the yard gave way, causing a great deal of trouble and keeping all hands from dinner. It was 2.30 P.M. before our watch got below to their plum-duff, which had been allowed in honour of the day. The rest of the day was rainy, with wind constantly varying, keeping us hauling on the braces. Thus closed the most miserable 4th of July that I have ever yet spent."

On the ninety-seventh day out the Hindoo passed the Cape of Good Hope, though far to the south of it, and entered the Indian Ocean. Thence to Port Philip (Melbourne) came a succession of gales from the westward, with heavy squalls of hail and rain, hut the ship driving before them made good progress.

 

    "Sun. Aug. 12.� Commenced with cloudy weather and stiff breeze. At 6 A.M. shook a reef out of topsails and set topgallant sails, but at 12 M., wind increasing and barometer falling, (although the sun shone brightly and gave promise of a fine afternoon) furled topgallant-sails and close-reefed topsails. At 4 P.M., blowing a heavy gale from W. by N., furled mizzen topsails and reefed foresail. At 8 P.M., wind increasing, furled fore topsail. During the night tremendous squalls of wind and hail. Ship constantly heaving water on deck, one sea which she took in at the waist running completely aft and filling the cabin with water.

    "Mon. Aug. 13.� Strong gales from W. with heavy squalls of hail and rain. Weather very cold, the hail sometimes covering the deck. Looked more like winter than any weather we have yet experienced. It is impossible to describe the wildly grand appearance of the sea and sky."

At last, on the one hundred and thirty-seventh day out from New York, the first land of Australia was sighted, and with that flamed up the desire of the crew to get ashore and strike out straight for the gold districts, where men with little more equipment than pick and pan were, so far as the sailors' knowledge went, still washing for tunes out of the soil.

 

    "Fri. Aug. 24.� Commenced with strong wind from N". Furled jib. At 4 A.M. wind hauled to N.W. Course N.E. At 4.30 A.M. hove the lead, without soundings at 60 fathoms. When daylight came at last the anxiously looked for land was nowhere to be seen. Squally and showery, with very hazy weather. At 6 A.M. shook a reef out of main topsail. Two coasting schooners in sight steering about E.N.E. At 10.30 A.M. I had just turned in, having given up all hope of seeing land to day, when all hands were called to close reef main top sail and furl mainsail. While reefing the main topsail we were agreeably surprised by the joyful sound of 'Land ho!' from the second mate, who was at the weather earing. 'Where away?' shouted the captain. 'Right ahead,' was the reply; and sure enough there lay the long looked for land directly before us, looming above the horizon like a dark blue cloud, the first solid ground we had looked upon for 137 days. By the time we [the larboard watch] turned out, 12 noon, we were about 2 miles distant, running along the land. Our captain had hit the exact spot, Cape Otway, the light house on which was now plainly to be seen. After dinner all hands turned to get the anchors over the bows. It was a beautiful afternoon. The clouds, which in the morning had obscured the sun, had now vanished. The ship was sailing smoothly along before the wind at the rate of 4 or 5 knots. Numerous birds, a species of Albatross, were flying around us, now and then darting down after a fish. The land was high and apparently thickly wooded, and although winter in this part of the world, presented a beautiful, green appearance. It was looked upon by most of the crew as the Land of Promise, where gold was to be had by all; and most of the men were engaged in laying out what they would do, and where they would go, and how they would spend their money when they got it. While getting the anchors over, one of the small coasters which we had seen in the morning passed our bows under a press of sail, and stood in closer to the land. At 6 P.M. we furled the mizzen topsail, and at 8 P.M. backed the main top-sail and laid to all night."

Next day they took a pilot and at 3 P.M. cast anchor in Hobson's Bay, opposite the Light house. Several American ships, some that had sailed before and some after the Hindoo, were also at anchor there.[5] Times were reported to be "very hard ashore, thousands with nothing to do and nothing to eat." Notwithstanding this, the crew wished at once to get away.

 

    "As the captain was getting into a boat to go ashore, the men came aft in a body and requested their discharge, which being refused, they declared their intention of doing no more work. After supper the mate came forward and ordered the men to pick anchor watches, which they agreed to do after some parley. The mate told Jim and me to keep watch in the cabin until 12 and then call him. This I did until 10, when, after having a feast of butter, sugar and bread in the pantry, I turned in, leaving Jim to call the mate."

For several days the men refused to work, demanding to see the American Consul, and on Wednesday, four days after casting anchor, the captain got the Consul aboard. The Consul "took his seat on the booby hatch with the shipping articles before him," and called up the crew one by one. He finally "told the men that, as the passage would not be up until the cargo was discharged, he could do nothing until that time; but that Dutch John (the man who in the early part of the passage fell from the main topgallant yard) was entitled to his discharge if he wished it." The captain then promised that if they would "remain by the ship until she was discharged, he would pay them their wages and let them go in peace." They demanded this in writing, saying that he might change his mind, "but the captain refused to give them any further guarantee than his word." As they still desisted from work on the Hindoo, they were taken off in a police boat, and sentenced to one month's hard labour in the prison ship, at the end of which time, still refusing to work, they would perhaps have been sentenced to further imprisonment if the captain had not reached court too late to appear against them. Before he sailed, the captain had to ship a new crew.

There is nothing in the journal to indicate that the boy thought Captain Miller unjust, but the incident made an indelible impression, revealing the tremendous powers for tyranny the navigation laws put into the hands of a captain, and this was to inspire a remarkable fight for sailor's rights in years to come.[6]

The ship lay in Hobson's Bay twenty-nine days discharging charge and taking in ballast. Captain Miller in his account says: "Henry went up to Melbourne once, but did not see much to admire." Perhaps the boy saw more than the captain realised, for thirty-five years later, in a speech in Melbourne, he said, that he had a vivid recollection of it – "its busy streets, its seemingly continuous auctions, its crowds of men with flannel shirts and long thigh boots, its bay crowded with ships." No letters written from there now exist, but it is clear that the Australia of his dreams did not appear to be such a wonderful place after all; that there was not much gold in sight and that in this respect the "Land of Promise" was something of a disappointment. Land monopolisation and speculation had set in and cut off the poor man's access to nature's storehouse.

Other dreams were to be dissipated on reaching India. The best description of the passage and arrival there is found in a letter to his father and mother, dated Calcutta, December 12, 1855.

 

    "We hove up anchor in Hobson's Bay about 11 o'clock on the 24th of September, made sail, proceeded down the bay under charge of a pilot, and at about 5 P.M. passed the heads and discharged the pilot. After leaving Port Philip and until we had rounded Cape Lewin we had strong winds, mostly head, and cool weather.... Then the weather gradually became milder as we got to the northward, with fair, though not very strong winds. Near the line we had light airs, not even sufficient to fill the sails, but under the pressure of which the ship would go two or three miles per hour. We crossed the line November 5, when 42 days out.... From this place until we arrived at about 10° north we had the same fair airs as on the other side of the line, with every prospect of a short passage. Then the wind became stronger and more variable, but dead ahead. It would seldom blow from one point of the compass for more than an hour. Indeed, it seemed as if a second Jonah was aboard, for tack as often as we would, the wind was sure to head us off.... Progress under the circumstances was impossible. For over a week we did not gain a single inch to the northward. What she would make one hour she would lose the next. During this time the weather was delightful, warm without being uncomfortably so, and so pleasant that sleeping on deck could be practised with impunity.

    "At length on the morning of the 29th of November the colour of the water suddenly changed to green, and by noon we were abreast of the lightship, which marks the outer pilot station. The tide was running so strongly that with the light air we could hardly hold our own against it. About 3 P.M., in obedience to a signal from the pilot brig, we cast anchor with 30 fathoms of chain, furled all sail, and cleared up decks for the night. At 8 P.M. set anchor-watch and turned in for all night...."

Then came the first impressions of the country – impressions that always afterward remained vivid and helped before long to direct thought to social questions; that changed the fancied India – the place of dreamy luxury, of soft and sensuous life – into the real India, with its extremes of light and shadow, of poverty and riches, of degradation and splendour; where the few have so much, the many so little; where jewels blaze in the trappings of elephants, but where, as he has since said in talking with his son Richard, "the very carrion birds are more sacred than human life!" These impressions are preserved in a description of the trip to Calcutta up the Hooghly branch of the Ganges River scribbled in pencil on the back pages of one of the journal records.

ARRIVAL AT GARDEN BEACH AND FIRST
IMPRESSIONS OF THE TOWN.

 

    "Mon. Dec. 3.� We turned out about 3 A.M. and after some heavy heaving got up anchor. About 5 A.M. we were taken in tow by the steamer and proceeded up the river. The night air was misty and chilly and a monkey jacket proved very comfortable. The day soon began to break, revealing a beautiful scene. The river, at times very broad and again contracting its stream into a channel hardly large enough for a ship of average size to turn in, was bordered by small native villages, surrounded by large fruit trees, through which the little bamboo huts peeped. As we advanced, the mists which had hitherto hung over the river cleared away, affording a more extensive prospect. The water was covered with boats of all sizes, very queer looking to the eye of an American. They were most of them bound to Calcutta with the produce and rude manufactures of the country – bricks, tiles, earths, pots, etc. They had low bows and very high sterns. They were pulled by from four to ten men, and steered by an old fellow wrapped up in a sort of cloth, seated on a high platform at the stern. Some had sails to help them along, in which there were more holes than threads. On the banks the natives began to go to their daily toil, some driving cattle along, others loading boats with grain, while the women seemed busy with their domestic affairs. As we approached the city, the banks on both sides were lined with handsome country residences of the wealthy English. About 10 A.M. we came to Garden Beach, where, as there was no Harbour Master's Assistant ready to take us up, we were obliged to drop both anchors. After getting fairly moored we had a little time to look around us. The river which here takes a sudden bend, was crowded with ships of all nations, and above nothing could be seen but a forest of masts. On the right hand or Calcutta side, are the East India Company's works, for repairing their steamers, numbers of which, principally iron, were undergoing repairs. On the other side was an immense palace-like structure (the residence, I believe, of some wealthy Englishman) surrounded by beautiful lawns and groves. The river was covered with boats and presented a bustling scene. One feature which is peculiar to Calcutta was the number of dead bodies floating down in all stages of decomposition, covered by crows who were actively engaged in picking them to pieces. The first one I saw filled me with horror and disgust, but like the natives, you soon cease to pay any attention to them.

    "Tues. Dec. 4.� About 4.30 A.M. the Harbour Master came along side and we were roused up to get up anchors.... It astonished me to see with what ease the pilot took the vessel up... steering her amidst the maze of vessels as easily as if she was at sea. The port seemed crowded with vessels, a large proportion of them American, some of which I recognised as having seen at Philadelphia. At length about 10 A.M. we cast anchor off our intended moorings. About 2 P.M. we hauled in and made fast along side of an English clipper, the British Lion. After getting all fast we had dinner and cleared up decks and squared the yards."

While the ship lay at her moorings, visits were made to Barrapore, eighteen miles away, and other places of interest in the vicinity, and the boy saw those things that are observed generally by travellers. But the event of perhaps most interest to him was the receipt on December 10 of letters from home – the first since he had left. His father sent family news and said: "Your little brig is safely moored on the mantelpiece. First thing when we wake, our eyes rest upon her, and she reminds us of our dear sailor boy."

The mother's letter also touched on family matters, but gave chief place to other things engaging her devout mind.

 

    "And now for the news. The best news just now is the religious news – a great work going on in New York and Philadelphia and all the principal cities of the Union; prayer-meetings all over the land; all denominations uniting together in solemn, earnest prayer; Jayne's Hall (you know its size) is crowded to excess, even those large galleries literally packed with men of the highest respectability – merchants, bankers, brokers, all classes. Those who have never entered a church and have hitherto scoffed at religion meet at this prayer-meeting every day to hear the word of God road and solemn prayer offered for their conversion.... I might fill many pages to show you that this is truly the work of God – the out-pouring of the Holy Spirit.... That same Holy Influence will be given to all that ask for it in simple faith: 'Lord, teach me to pray.'"

The event to the lad next in interest to the receipt of home letters was the acquisition of a pet monkey, of which he wrote in later years:[7]

 

    "I bought in Calcutta, when a boy, a monkey, which all the long way home would pillow her little head on mine as I slept, and keep off my face the cockroaches that infested the old Indiaman by catching them with her hands and cramming them into her maw. When I got her home, she was so jealous of a little brother that I had to part with her to a lady who had no children."

In his account of the voyage, Captain Miller says that the ship left Calcutta with quite a menagerie of monkeys and birds aboard, but that before long "Harry's was the only survivor." The others died or got away, two of the sailors without intentional cruelty throwing theirs over board to see "which would swim ashore first," but the animals quickly drowned. The boy cherished his little creature most fondly; though for that matter he always showed a warm love for animals, and this was but one of a great number that he had about him during his life.

On the 15th of January, 1856, the Hindoo having completed her loading, consisting of nearly twelve hundred tons of rice, seeds, etc., took a new crew aboard and started down the river, homeward bound. Henry George at the time estimated that he would have when he reached New York and settled his accounts "about fifty dollars to take clear of everything – not much for thirteen or fourteen months." The distance down the Hooghly from Calcutta to the sea is eighty miles, but what with head winds, the scarcity of tow boats and a broken windlass, the vessel was twenty days making the passage, during which time the hot weather played havoc with the fresh provisions, so that the crew was the sooner reduced to "salt horse and biscuit." Light winds blew down the bay of Bengal and the ship crossed the equator on the 23rd of February. On the 27th the cook, Stephen Anderson, fell sick and young George went into the galley temporarily. The journal says:

 

    "Wed. Feb. 27.� Cook laid up. Went into the galley.
    "(Not having written down the events of the intervening space, I do not remember them fully, being obliged to work pretty hard.)

    "Sun. Mar. 2.� Fine clear day. Breeze from S.W., course, S.S.E. For several days there have been thousands of fish playing around, but, although the men tried hard to catch them, they were unsuccessful until this morning, when an albicore was captured. The mate made sea-pie for all hands for supper. 8 P.M. sail in sight.

    "Mon. Mar. 3. Calm all day. The cook so weak that he cannot raise a spoon to his mouth. I think it a chance whether he lives.

    "Tues. Mar. 4. Calm, fine day. Cook seems a little stronger, but can scarcely speak.

    "Wed. Mar. 5. Commenced with breeze from W.N.W.; course S.S.W. Four sail in sight. Last evening the cook appeared a great deal stronger, getting up and moving about, turning in and out; but still could scarcely speak. About 7 A.M. he was taken with a fit, when he was brought on deck and laid by the capstan. About 11.30 A.M. he died. He was sewed up and buried at 5 P.M."

The cook having gone, the boy, to his great satisfaction, for he had an extreme distaste for the task, was superseded in the galley by one of the crew, who remained there for the rest of the voyage. The ship passed the Cape of Good Hope on April 13 and within sight of St. Helena on the 27th. On May 12 she crossed the equator for the fourth time during the voyage. Long before that date the journal entries had become short, and after May 6 stopped altogether, possibly because there was a great deal of work to do in handling, cleaning, repairing and painting the ship. April opened with this entry:

 

    "April 1, 1856. Lat, 31, S.; long, 40, E. One year has passed since the Sunday when I took farewell of my friends – to me an eventful year; one that will have a great influence in determining my position in life; perhaps more so than I can at present see. O that I had it to go over again! Homeward bound! In a few months I hope to be in Philadelphia once more."

And it was not long before he was home, for on June 14, after an absence of one year and sixty-five days, and from Calcutta one hundred and fifty days, the Hindoo completed her long journey and dropped anchor in New York Bay.

 


[1] When a boy, his mother would frequently buy a piece of sweet suet and melting it down, would mix with its oil or fat a little bergamot, thereby making a pomade for the hair. Henry George never during his life liked fats with his meat at the table, and at times would say in the family that it was because when a boy he had to put it on his head. Not withstanding the use of the hair preparation, he and all his brothers followed their father and grew bald early.
[2] "In the last generation a full-rigged Indiaman would be considered a very large vessel if she registered 500 tons. Now we are building coasting schooners of 1000 tons" – "Social Problems," Chap. V. (Memorial edition, p.46.)
[3] In the back pages of this little journal are some historical, scientific and other notes probably made while reading. These bear date as late as April, 1859, at which time its owner was in California.
[4] "In later years I have sometimes 'supped with Lucullus,' without recalling what he gave me to eat, whereas I remember to this day ham and eggs of my first breakfast on a canal-packet drawn by horses that actually trotted; how sweet hard-tack, munched in the middle watch while the sails slept in the trade-wind, has tasted; what a dish for a prince was sea-pie on the rare occasions when a pig had been killed or a porpoise harpooned; and how good was the plum-duff that came to the forecastle only on Sundays and great holidays. I remember as though it were an hour ago, that, talking to myself rather than to him, I said to a Yorkshire sailor on my first voyage: 'I wish I were home, to get a piece of pie.' I recall his expression and tone, for they shamed me, as he quietly said: 'Are you sure you would find a piece of pie there?' Thoughtless as the French princess who asked why the people who were crying for bread did not try cake, 'Home' was associated in my mind with pie of some sort – apple or peach or sweet-potato or cranberry or mince – to be had for the taking, and I did not for the moment realise that in many homes pie was as rare a luxury as plums in our sea-duff." – "The Science of Political Economy," p.352.
[5] "Thirty years ago ship-building had reached such a pitch of excellence in this country that we built not only for ourselves, but for other nations. American ships were the fastest sailers, the largest carriers and everywhere got the quickest dispatch and the highest freights. The registered tonnage of the United States almost equalled that of Great Britain, and a few years promised to give us the unquestionable supremacy of the ocean." – "Protection or Free Trade," chap. XVIII. (Memorial Edition, p.186). Captain Marryat, a by no means flattering critic of Americans, in his "Diary in America" (First Series), Philadelphia, 1839, says, p.186: "It appears, then, that from various causes, onr merchant vessels have lost their sailing properties, whilst the Americans have the fastest sailers in the world; and it is for that reason, and no other, that, although sailing at a much greater expense, the Americans can afford to outbid us, and take all our best seamen."
[6] Sunrise Case in San Francisco.
[7] "The Science of Political Economy," p.30.

 


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