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VOYAGE ROUND THE WORLD.
Voyages of circumnavigation have been so frequent of late, this being the fourth within seven years by American vessels of war, that neither novelty nor originality of matter or manner can be looked for in this work, though few ships have pursued the varied and extensive track of the Peacock. I, therefore, only promise the reader news of the several remote countries visited in relation to their manners, political state, commerce and religion, upon which topics the best sources of information have been carefully consulted.
Let me caution the reader against expecting much in the way of light description and graceful anecdote; “No vamos à bodas sino à rodear el mundo,” said Sancho, when he bade Mari Fernandez to prepare every thing for setting out in search of adventures. I will say with simple Sancho, “We are not bound on a party of pleasure, but around the world,” and though we may not expect in these days to encounter giants and dragons, we may happen upon many pleasant adventures. Therefore, Reader, be gentle and generous, and bear in mind Sancho's remark; and when you encounter a dry statistical chapter, think it is one of the hardships of voyaging with us, and sustain yourself to the toil of reading it through, cheered with a hope of something pleasant thereafter, and the reflection, it will be for your good; and I will venture to assert, you will rise from the perusal improved in your knowledge, and, what is more important to me, without a disposition to blame the author for the little he has contributed to your amusement. That the volume contains no pleasant stories to divert, nor “strange tales of strange endurance" to move, is not his fault; for had events transpired during the cruise,
fitting for such chronicle, he would have been delighted to record them.
The volume may be charged with over-minuteness; but “ There is nothing,” says Dr. Johnson, “ too little for so little a creature as man.
It is by studying little things, we attain the great art of having as little misery and as much happiness as possible.” Critics may find other points in the work to condemn; but we trust, some among our readers will derive amusement, if not instruction, from the following pages, written generally on the spot described, to bring into view of the home-staying, what, probably, they would have observed for themselves, had they been with the writer.
The success of the work must depend upon the public; the author has endeavoured to deserve it. He has written for no theory, nor sect, nor party; but has aimed at truth, and hopes in bitting his mark, he has inflicted no wound on the pride or feelings of any of his readers. As far as the nature of his task admitted, he has avoided egotism-“The time, place, persons, and all circumstances apologize for me; and why may I not be idle with others? Speak my mind freely? If you deny me this liberty, upon these presumptions I will take it."
In presenting to the public a history of the embassy to Muscat and Siam, it may be proper to state, what were the opportunities enjoyed by the author for obtaining the necessary information.
Mr. Roberts frequently expressed a wish that I would write the history of our cruise, and in order to enable me better to perform the undertaking, gave me free access to all documents in relation to the embassy, and on every occasion expressed his views and opinions on the several subjects which fell under our notice. Besides, he took great pains to assist me in procuring statistical information, which, owing to his official station, he was often able to obtain, when to others, perhaps, it might have been denied. To him I feel indebted, and with his many friends regret his loss to the country.
In the early part of his life, Edmund Roberts, of Portsmouth, N. H., had visited several of the countries which lie to the eastward of the Cape of Good Hope, and from information then and subsequently obtained, he inferred that those sections of the world offered a wide field to American enterprise and profit. But he was convinced, that voyages from the United States around the Cape of Good Hope, must continue to be limited to a few countries, and uncertain in their results, until treaties of amity and commerce should be formed between the government of the United States and several
powers of southern and Eastern Asia; in order to open trade with some, and with others to settle definitely the manner in which our merchantmen should be received, and the charges to which they should be subject. In this latter respect, the practice in' many countries is very irregular, depending more upon the notion or whim of the minister at the time, than upon any established law.
Mr. Roberts communicated his views in detail to his friend, the Honourable Levi Woodbury, at that time Secretary of the Navy, who laid the subject before the President. It was determined after proper deliberation, that Mr. Roberts should visit the East, in capacity, of “Special Agent of the government, and obtain all the information he could, and negotiate treaties of amity and commerce with such Asiatic potentates, as he might find favourably disposed.
Early in the year 1832, Mr. Roberts sailed from the United States on board of the U. S. ship Peacock, then commanded by Captain David Geisinger, and visited Brazil, Buenos Ayres, Java, Manila, Canton, Singapore, Siam, Muscat, the Red Sea, &c. In May, 1834, he returned, bearing with him two treaties which he bad negotiated, one with His Higħness the Sultan of Muscat, and the other with His Magnificent Majesty, the King of Siam. These treaties were ratified by the President and Senate of the United States, in June, 1834, and Mr. Roberts was appointed to exchange the ratifications. The Peacock was again put in commission to carry him on his distant embassy, the history of which will be found in the following pages. “ Le aconsejo en esto lo que debe de hacer como discreto si no lealo, y verá el gusto que recibe, de su leyenda."
PHILADELPHIA, January, 1838.
THE U. S. SHIP PEACOCK
VOYAGE TO RIO DE JANEIRO.
June, 1835. When I bade farewell to my messmates in February, 1834, I little thought to be named in March, 1835, a member of another mess“bounden brothers every man ”-to roam the ocean, scarcely knowing whither. Yet in one short year, the pains and privations of a long absence had dwindled into mere shadows of memory, and preparations were made for another cruise, not, however, without feeling how deeply parting sinks into the heart. “First partings form a lesson hard to learn;" and it is doubtful whether any one can teach himself to say farewell to home, to friends, to country, without emotion
“ There is a sort of unexpressed concern,
which we cannot quite overcome, be the trial ever so frequent. At sunrise on the twenty-third of April, I was roused by the order, “ All hands up anchor,” delivered in the growling, imperative tones of the boatswain. The ship was speedily under sail. The city of New York, and its busy scenes receded fast from our view; the Narrows were passed; the bar was cleared, and at meridian the pilot bore away the cape letters. At sunset the land had faded
in the distance. Our hopes were all before us; and the past and the present were only remembered to contrast with the future.
“A Dios amada playa; à Dios hogares.”
The United States ship Peacock, being not more than of six hundred tuns burden, is the smallest of her class. She has a light spar deck which frees the guns from the encumbrance of rigging, and, in port at least, affords the officers a sheltered walk in very hot or
LOVE OF THE SEA-SEA SICKNESS.
rainy weather, besides a more ample space for the hammocks of the men. In other respects the ship has no commendable quality. She is an indifferent sailer, very wet, and, both for officers and crew, the accommodations are very limited. She is armed with twenty thirtytwo pound carronades and two long twelve pounders.
The ship being fitted in the winter, when cordage is inflexible as bar-iron, the rigging stretched very much on putting to sea, though every care had been taken in the outfit, and the seams opened in several places, so that whenever the ship laboured, she was uncomfortably wet. A few days after sailing, we encountered fresh gales, then the gun deck presented a scene of despair, and doubtless there were many regrets in mental reservation. The neophytes were swinging to and fro in their cots or hammocks, in obedience to the motions of the ship, wishing themselves safely on shore, free from the distressingly nauseating effects of the sea. How few would persevere in the choice of the profession, could they but escape in the midst of the first fit of sea-sickness. Yet, when once over, how strong are the ties which bind them to the ocean! Indeed, the love of a sea life is an acquired taste, and, like all acquired tastes, it is apt to be enslaving. On one occasion I passed a night, at a French boarding house, with a naval officer who had spent seventeen years actually at sea. He was very ill, but feeling himself somewhat more comfortable than he had been, towards morning, he remarked, “ After all, doctor, there is no place for a man when sick like being on board ship.” Such was not the opinion of those "young gentlemen” who were now for the first time embarked upon the broad blue bosom of the Atlantic.
Sea-sickness is a penalty-a sort of initiation fee paid by every one who ventures upon the broad domain of Neptune. Many plans have been tried to alleviate the distress, beneath the influence of which the stoutest spirit quails, but no one of the many has been generally successful. In some individuals, nature speedily accommodates herself to the new circumstances in which she is placed; in others, whole voyages are not long enough to habituate them to the motion of the ship; the disease continues, with more or less intensity, according to the roughness or smoothness of the sea. A simple, and generally successful treatment, consists in keeping the head cooled by the application of ice or iced water, and swallowing nothing but the blandest articles of diet, as arrow root, barley or
• For a list of the officers and crew, see Appendix.