Destruction of the City of San Salvador by an Earthquake.
ON the 19th February 1873, affairs at Mazatlan having resumed their normal condition, I left for Panama and intermediate ports, and, after a short stay at Acapulco and Manzanilla, where we had some capital duck-shooting, reached Fonseca Bay, one of the most beautiful and hottest places on the coast, on the 18th March. Two days afterwards, when I was on the point of starting for Panama with steam up, a rumour reached me that a terrible earth quake had taken place in Salvador, and that the city of San Salvador, the capital of the state, had been destroyed. I could gain no information from the authorities on shore, and those with whom I consulted discredited the story. Just at this time an American mail-boat came in, and her captain told me that he had met with very bad weather outside, and that when leaving the port of Realejo the sea was so confused that his ship was almost unmanageable.
This convinced me that some convulsion of nature had taken place, and I determined to proceed at once to La-Libertad, the seaport of San Salvador, and see for myself what had happened. So the same night I
DESTRUCTION OF SAN SALVADOR.
put to sea, and arrived at La-Libertad the following morning. The captain of the port confirmed the report of the earthquake, and said that the city of San Salvador no longer existed ! I at once engaged a coach and four mules, and, accompanied by two of the officers - one being the surgeon - started for the capital. The distance was but thirty-six miles, but the road was so bad we only reached a village about half way by nightfall, where we put up for the night. The house where we slept had been much shaken and cracked by the earthquake, and in the morning we were told that they fully expected it to fall during the night. However, no such catastrophe occurred, and we made an early start, reaching Santa Tecla, a considerable town, three leagues from the capital, by 8 A.M. This place had been severely shaken. Most of the houses were cracked, but none thrown down. We here met with many poor families who had left San Salvador with all their worldly goods. The bullock-drivers were doing a roaring business, charging ten times their ordinary fare.
Driving through Santa Tecla, we pushed on for the capital. As we approached the city, signs of destruction were everywhere visible. A massive aqueduct, by which the city was mainly supplied, was demolished, the ruins almost blocking up the road, so that we had some difficulty in passing; and thence to the suburbs of the city our progress was constantly interrupted with the debris of fallen houses, till at last our driver said he would go no farther; but having threatened him with a revolver, he pushed on and drove us into the Plaza, where we found the President and many of the inhabitants encamped. I at once waited upon his Excellency and made known to
Cathedral of San Salvador After the Earthquake
SAN SALVADOR DESTROYED BY EARTHQUAKE.
him the object of our visit, and assured him of our sympathy and desire to assist him. The President, General Santiago Gonzeles, a fine old soldier, received us with much cordiality, and expressed in the warmest terms his gratitude and astonishment at an offer of assistance from so unexpected a quarter. Having paid our respects, we made our way with much difficulty to what had been the British Consulate, but was now a heap of ruins surmounted by the English flag. Here we found the vice-consul, Mr Blair, with a few other English gentlemen, who gave us a hearty welcome and insisted on our sharing a tent which they had pitched amidst the ruins. We then proceeded to make a tour through the city. It was, indeed, a sad scene of desolation : the once thriving place, containing 40,000 inhabitants, was completely destroyed. As the captain of the port had stated, it no longer existed.
Curiously enough, the only two houses left standing were built of wood, showing the advantage of that material over stone for withstanding the shocks of an earthquake. The palace was completely destroyed, and the cathedral and all the churches substantially built of stone were a heap of ruins. The cathedral spire or belfry remained in the position I have represented in my sketch; one of the bells must have swung completely round and remained mouth up.
It seems that the first shock took place on the 4th March, and the quaking of the earth continued at intervals till the 19th, when a very violent shock completed the destruction. Fortunately the previous shocks had warned the people, and many had left their houses and camped out, otherwise the destruction
DESTRUCTION OF SAN SALVADOR.
of life, which was considerable, would have been much greater. The United States Minister, Mr Biddle, had a very narrow escape: his house having fallen, he had barely time to save himself and his family by rushing into the patio. An English lady was sleeping in the consulate when the wall fell, and the room she was in was completely wrecked, and she must have been killed but for some beams which lodged diagonally across the room and prevented the walls from crushing her.
Accounts differed as to the numbers killed, and the truth could not be ascertained, as many bodies lay buried under the ruins. In the hospital several poor wretches, unable to escape owing to their infirmities, were killed by falling walls; and some prisoners were killed in the jail before they could be removed. In places the earth had opened, leaving great fissures; and graves had been rent asunder and the bodies exposed. The action of the Government during this terrible time was most praiseworthy. The President, by his admirable regulations and the discipline he enforced, maintained order. The city was placed under martial law, and those found in possession of property of which they could give no satisfactory account were ordered to be shot.
During our stay - some forty-eight hours we experienced seven shocks of earthquake of more or less intensity: they seemed to come on about sunset and daybreak, but they did no further damage, as there was not much more that could be done unless the earth opened and swallowed us up, and with this we were threatened, some of the cracks being of considerable width and depth. The effect produced upon the nervous system by these constant shocks
AFTER THE EARTHQUAKE.
was such that several persons became insane, and upon animals and birds it was remarkable. Horses and mules were rendered useless from fright, and trembled at the slightest sound. At every shock cocks crowed and pigeons wheeled wildly in the air.
The city of San Salvador had been already entirely destroyed by earthquakes eight times within 150 years, and partially so every ninth year : the ground on which it is built is a mere shell, and produces a hollow sound when struck. Notwithstanding this, the President issued a decree on the day following the disaster, saying that the city would be rebuilt upon its old site. One cannot help admiring the pluck of the old soldier, which, however, in this case partook of obstinacy.
San Salvador has no less than seven active volcanoes within a radius of thirty miles, and the mountain of Ysalco was in full blast during this time, but the suppressed volcano of St Thomas was supposed to be the one which did the mischief.
Much sympathy was shown to the poor Salvadorians during these calamities, one town contributing one hundred cart-loads of provisions and a considerable amount in cash. It was not much we could do in this way, as we were already short of provisions; but we sent all we could spare, reserving barely sufficient to carry us to Panama.
The President, the American Minister, and the English consul having gratefully declined to take shelter on board the Reindeer - gallantly preferring to remain at their posts - and the services of our surgeon not being required, there was no object in remaining longer in the city, and we returned to the ship, escorted by some of our newly found
DESTRUCTION OF SAN SALVADOR.
friends. We reached La Libertad after a ride of five hours, and found the ship rolling heavily at her anchors; so having embarked a few refugees, we sailed for Fonseca Bay, and from thence to Panama, arriving there on 3rd April. Being short of provisions, I went ashore to see the contractor, and arranged for a supply of prime American salt pork, which duly arrived on board. Before stowing it under hatches we fortunately opened one of the casks. The result was a stampede: the deck was cleared at short notice, the cask headed up, and the whole consignment returned. Some time afterward I met the contractor, and upbraided him for sending us stinking pork. "Well, captain," said he, "I'm so sorry; but the pork wasn't so bad. I sold it afterwards to a French gunboat, and they said it was first-rate." The gunboat sailed from Panama and was never heard of again !
Incendiary fires used to be so common in Panama that at last the insurance companies refused to have any further dealings with them. It was a common remark, "How is So-and-so?" "Oh, he's all right; he had a good fire last week! "I was spending the evening with a friend on shore, and he told me he had been very badly treated by an English insurance company. "Would you believe it," said he; "I had a splendid fire, everything went off first-rate, and yet those rascals refused to pay because the policy had not reached them in time, and they disputed the dates. Had it not been for my brother-in-law, who altered the dates, I should not have got my money! and how could I support my large family ?" I sympathised with the poor fellow in this hard case, and went sadly down the street.
SPORT IN VANCOUVER
We had not been twenty-four hours in that port when a revolution broke out, and rifle-balls were flying, about the streets. Fortunately order was soon restored, a few black soldiers only being killed. We found orders from the commander-in-chief directing us to proceed to Vancouver Island as soon as we had refitted - a prospect we all hailed with delight. Leaving Panama on the 30th April, we touched once more at the Galapagos Islands, and on the 22nd June we anchored in the beautiful harbour of Esquimalt, Vancouver Island.
We came to Vancouver prepared to be pleased, and we were not disappointed. To my mind it is one of the most delightful of our colonies, combining as it does the rare attractions of pleasant society, lovely scenery, and good sport with gun, rifle, and rod. We arrived at the very best time of year, and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves - fishing for salmon in the harbour, and trout-fishing in the rivers and lakes, following up with grouse and wildfowl-shooting and hunting deer in the woods. Salmon make their appearance in the harbour in July, and may be taken trolling with spoon bait or herring. They do not, as a rule, take the fly, but they have been known to do so. Grouse-shooting begins on August 1. There are two sorts of grouse to be found in the woods, the blue and the willow. The former are fine birds of a dark slaty colour, but give poor sport, as they take to the trees when flushed and remain there to be shot. Willow grouse are smaller and handsomer birds, and are considered the best for the table. Black-tailed deer used to be plentiful in the neighbourhood of Esquimalt, but have probably been thinned out since my time, and I have enjoyed
DESTRUCTION of SAN SALVADOR.
good sport "still-hunting" them in the woods with rifle.
In company with Mr Coleridge, one of the flagship's officers, I had some capital sport : we often brought back from ten to fifteen brace of grouse, a few ducks, and now and then a deer. This same officer accompanied me to Horseshoe Bay, about fifty miles from Victoria, where we had excellent sport; also at Chemainus, and on Admiral and Thetis Islands, in the sound between Vancouver and the mainland. On one of these occasions we met with a most amusing adventure. We happened to look in at a farmhouse to ask for a glass of water, or milk if we could get it. The farmer's wife seemed a crusty old party, and gave us a reception the reverse of cordial. My poor old dog Rose was the first to catch it, for having taken up her quarters under the table, she was speedily ousted with a broom-stick, and we were soundly rated for a pair of poaching vagabonds. We were given a glass of skimmed milk, and were glad to clear out. The following Sunday I invited all the neighbouring farmers with their wives and families to come on board the Reindeer for divine service, and to dine with me afterwards. To our great amusement one of the first arrivals was our excitable hostess, arrayed in her best clothes. The old lady's horror and astonishment was great on finding that the two dirty poachers were officers in her Majesty's service; but to make matters worse, whilst we were at dinner in my cabin, and the poor soul was my honoured guest, the quartermaster reported that a dog had swum off to the ship, so I gave orders to bring him down and give him his dinner. Presently a big
THE SOFT ANSWER
shaggy poodle came into the cabin dripping with water and leaving a trail behind him; the old lady, at once recognising her dog Peter, gave a shriek and went off into hysterics. Her apologies for having treated us so shabbily were rather embarrassing. However, we pacified her by promising to look in again at her house, which we did some days afterwards, when we met with a very different reception. Old Rose was treated to as much milk as she could stow, and my coxswain was loaded with a cargo of fruit, eggs, and butter, &c., to last us a fortnight. Our best day's sport was twenty-two brace of grouse and a couple of deer on Thetis Island.
Some very fine timber is grown on the main island, and we brought back a shipload to Esquimault. Some of the trees measure 300 feet in height, as straight as a candle, and one that we measured was 57 feet in circumference. One of the midshipmen of the squadron was the proud possessor of a new double-barrelled gun, given him by his father. One day he went out shooting in the woods accompanied by an Indian, who led him some miles away from the settlement. Presently the Indian saw, or pretended to see, a partridge in a tree. The mid could not see anything, so taking the gun and directing the lad to keep still, the rascal commenced crawling, looking back occasionally to beckon the youngster not to move on any account. The last the poor middy saw of the Indian he was still crawling, and he never saw him or his gun again
Besides "still-hunting" in the woods, deer are hunted with dogs, driven into the water, and shot;
DESTRUCTION OF SAN SALVADOR.
but this is not a very sportsman-like proceeding. In speaking of deer, I allude to the black-tail buck, which are common in the island: there are also wapiti, bears, and panthers in the interior.
After a most delightful four months spent at Vancouver, we received orders to proceed to Panama, touching at San Francisco and other ports en route, and we took our departure with much regret on the 28th October.
Whilst coaling at San Blas, I took a run up to Tepic to see my friends there. We started before daylight in the mail-coach, and arrived at Navaretti, the first halting-place, at daybreak. Here I was horrified to find that one of the other passengers sitting opposite to me was suffering from smallpox in the most virulent form. Fortunately I had been recently revaccinated, but it made me feel very uncomfortable for the rest of the journey. However, we filled the coach with tobacco smoke and kept our pipes going all the time, and were none the worse. We met with a very cordial reception in Tepic, and a grand fete was given in our honour, followed by a ball and a garden-party, and on taking our departure the general provided a guard of cavalry to escort us back to San Blas.
Whilst waiting for supernumeraries at Panama, I found time for some shooting in the neighbourhood, and bagged many ducks and alligators in the Pacora river, besides an occasional deer. One night a great fire broke out in the city, destroying the Grand Hotel and other buildings. We landed a party from the ships and assisted greatly in saving the city from destruction. The picturesque old cathedral was fortunately saved, but one-third
THE IRISHMAN AND THE YANKEE.
of the town was destroyed before we got the fire under.
During our stay in Panamanian waters I was ordered by the Admiral to report on the different projects for connecting the Pacific with the Atlantic Ocean. Of the many schemes proposed, the two which found favour were the Nicaraguan route and Panama Canal: as we now know, the latter has proved a failure, and the Nicaraguan Canal is in process of construction. There can be no doubt of the success of this undertaking when once the canal is made, and of the immense traffic at present carried round Cape Horn and through the Straits of Magellan that would be diverted through this channel.
Whilst examining the Isthmus of Panama in the neighbourhood of the Chagres river, I came upon an Irishman prospecting for gold. He told me that there was plenty of gold in the country, and showed me specimens of the precious metal he had obtained; but he said he had been very unfairly treated by a smart Yankee in New York to whom he had sent a sample of earth to be assayed. To his disgust the answer came back that it was worthless - when, said he, " I salted it myself!" meaning that he had mixed a large quantity of gold-dust with the earth!
On the 9th April we returned to the coast of Mexico, and, after some splendid duck-shooting at Acapulco, proceeded up the coast, visiting our old haunts, and including a very interesting cruise in the Gulf of California, where we found the small Mexican deer fairly numerous, also hares and duck; but the terrible heat made hunting very laborious.
DESTRUCTION OF SAN SALVADOR.
Lower California is rich in minerals-copper, silver, and gold; and at La Paz there is a valuable pearl-fishery, the pearls being in no way inferior to Oriental ones.
On our return to Mazatlan I heard of my promotion to post-captain, and at Acapulco I found Commander Anson waiting to relieve me; so having transferred the command to him, I took leave of the Reindeer, and returned home via San Francisco and New York, breaking my journey at Salt Lake City and Niagara. At Salt Lake I took the opportunity of interviewing that gross impostor Brigham Young, and hearing one of his sermons, a copy of which I procured. Here is an extract
" I wish my women to understand that what I am going to say is for them as well as others, and I want those who are here to tell their sisters. Yes! all the women in the community. I am going to give you from this time till the 6th of October next for reflection, that you may determine whether you wish to stay with your husbands or not, and then I am going to set every woman at liberty and say to them, Now, go your way. And my wives have got to do one of two things: either round up their shoulders to endure the affliction of the world, and live their religion - that is, polygamy - or they must leave, for I will not have them about me. I will go to heaven alone rather than to have scratching and fighting about me. I will set all at liberty. What! first wife too? Yes ! liberate them all.
" I want to go somewhere or do something to get rid of the whiners.
" If you stay with me you shall comply with the
A NEAT RETORT
law of God without whining, and round up your shoulders to walk up to the mark without any grunting!"
At Buffalo my travelling companion, a charming young Frenchman, was taken suddenly ill in the middle of the night with all the symptoms of Asiatic cholera, which he had contracted in Tonquin. I knew no one in the place, but I went to a drug store, bought up all the mustard-plasters I could get, and covered him with them, and having filled him with brandy, left him for the night. Next morning I fetched a doctor, who ordered perfect rest; but I had to catch the steamer Russia at New York, and my poor friend begged me not to desert him, as he said he would certainly die; so I engaged an invalid carriage, got him aboard, and took him to New York, and so to England, where, I am happy to say, he completely recovered. Captain Cook of the Russia was a well-known character, a strict martinet, not given to wasting words with his passengers. One cloudy day he was endeavouring to get a sight of the sun for his daily reckoning, when an American passenger observed, " I guess, captain, you didn't get that observation." "Which didn't prevent you from making yours, sir," was the neat reply.
Soon after I had returned to England and settled down for a long spell, with prospects of unlimited shooting and fishing for at least two or three years, I received an offer from Admiral Hancock, who was appointed commander-in-chief in the Pacific, to serve as his flag-captain. It was too good an offer to be refused, especially as the admiral was one of the kindest and best of men, and an excellent officer.
DESTRUCTION OF SAN SALVADOR.
Moreover, I knew the station from end to end. The Shah was to be his flagship - a fine vessel, fast under steam and sail, and fitted with all the latest improvements of that date. So to Portsmouth I went, and began fitting her out.
The admiral went out by mail steamer, and we were to follow as soon as the ship was ready. The Shah was one of the first ships fitted with the Whitehead torpedo, which had only then been introduced into the service ; and as it was considered necessary that the captain should be familiar with this formidable weapon, the chief engineer, the gunnery lieutenant, and myself underwent daily instruction in it. Having mastered the details of its construction, we were sent out to Spithead every day in an old paddle-steamer, the Vesuvius, to practise at a moving target. We had almost completed our course when a terrible accident happened. We were steaming out of Portsmouth Harbour as usual, and charging the torpedo with compressed air. The working pressure usually employed was 1000 lb. to the square inch. I noticed the gauge mark 600 lb. and then remain stationary, although the air-pump was still working at full speed, and I pointed out the circumstance to Mr Blank, the engineer, who was instructing us. He noticed at once that something was the matter, and stooped down to rectify it, when at that moment the air-pump burst, scattering large pieces of the iron casing in all directions. There were five of us in the little compartment - the chief engineer, the gunnery lieutenant of the Shah, Mr Blank (his real name), Mr Hook, another engineer belonging to the Vesuvius, and myself. The next instant there were but three of us left standing and
A TORPEDO ACCIDENT.
unhurt : the two engineers were apparently dead. Poor Blank's head was off, and we were bespattered with his blood and brains; the other lay still. We at once put back into harbour and landed the two victims. Happily Mr Hook was not killed, and he eventually recovered. His jaw was broken, and he was otherwise injured ; but being well nursed by his wife, he pulled through. This accident threw a gloom over us all, and cut short our course of instruction; but we had had enough of the Whitehead torpedo for the time.
Just when the Shah was ready for the pendant, and I was looking forward to commissioning her and joining the admiral at Valparaiso, I received a telegram from him to say he was invalided and on his way home. He reached home only to die, and I never saw his face again. This was not only a heavy blow to me, losing a kind friend with whom I looked forward to spending a happy commission, but was also professionally disastrous; for on another admiral being appointed, it became necessary for me to tender my resignation, and I was once more thrown out of employment, and lost not only a splendid appointment, but my home in Scotland, which I had given up and could not recover. And so it came about that, instead of ploughing the blue waters of the Pacific, that autumn found me in Norway, consoling myself with rod and gun, and it was not till May 1878 that I again took to the water.
The old store-ship Nereus, which had done duty at Valparaiso for many years, being quite worn out, it was decided to replace her, and the Liffey frigate was selected for the purpose, when I was offered the job of taking her out and returning home by mail
DESTRUCTION OF SAN SALVADOR.
steamer. It was not quite the sort of service I should have chosen, but I gladly accepted it, as it offered a pleasant cruise, a speedy return, and would be sure to lead to a better appointment. The Liffey had at one time been a smart 50-gun screw frigate, but her engines were removed and only a few guns left on the upper deck: she was ballasted with coal to give her stability, and her spars were reduced, so she was nothing else than an under-masted, undermanned coal-hulk - not quite the sort of craft to be proud of.
We left Plymouth Sound on the 26th May, and owing to light winds and calms made a long passage to Madeira, where we enjoyed a pleasant stay. Sailing again on the 16th June, we picked up the north-east trade-winds, and were making good progress to the southward, when, two days afterwards, we spoke the German bark Anita of Hamburg, bound for the West Coast of Africa. The smart little craft out-sailed us, and was soon lost sight of. About 9 P.M. the officer of the watch reported a light on the starboard bow and a rocket in the same direction, so we altered course and soon made out a sail, and running close under her lee, hailed her to know what she wanted. The answer came back, " Ship on fire." We at once hove-to on her weather beam and sent a boat on board. She proved to be our little friend the Anita with her cargo on fire. I then went on board with another boat, taking the fire-engine and a party of men with buckets. The captain told me that his cargo was a most combustible one, consisting of demijohns of a fiery spirit made out of rotten potatoes, intended for the West African negroes ;
H.M.S. Liffey and Burning Ship
THE BURNING OF THE ANITA.
also barrels of petroleum and gunpowder, a chest of the latter being stowed in his cabin. As I stepped on board the flames burst out of the cabin, in which was the captain's dog howling for assistance. We made desperate attempts to save the poor animal, but were unsuccessful: one of our men, being overcome by the smoke, had to be dragged out by the heels in an asphyxiated condition. Meantime the pumps were rigged and volumes of water poured upon the cargo, but without avail, as the flames had got too firm a hold ; so, after working hard for two hours, I determined to abandon the ship, which might blow up at any moment. The crew and all the live stock were therefore transferred to the Liffey, the boats hoisted up, and we remained at hand watching the destruction of the ill-fated bark. The flames now mounted up the masts and rigging, setting fire to the sails on the main and mizzen-masts, making a grand spectacle. Presently an explosion took place in the after part, blowing up the poop and taking the mizzen-mast over the side. And now a curious thing happened. The bark, deprived of her after-sail, fell off before the wind, and scudded along under the sails on the foremast; but as the braces burnt and the yards swung forward, she would luff up in the wind till the head-sails filled and paid her off again, thus performing many graceful evolutions - a phantom ship without a soul on board her. The scene at this time was grand in the extreme: the flames leaping from spar to spar, catching each sail in succession, illuminating the sea for miles around, and casting a lurid light upon the sails and rigging of the frigate, which hovered upon her weather quarter,
DESTRUCTION OF SAN SALVADOR.
following her motions, but always keeping well to windward to avoid the sparks, which fell in showers to leeward. I sketched the scene from the poop, the weeping skipper beside me. Presently the main-mast, divested of the rigging, began to rock to and fro with the rolling of the vessel, and then fell over the side with a crash, sending a shower of sparks and burning debris into the sea. Still the doomed craft sailed on under her foresail and foretopsail until that also disappeared, and the Anita lay a helpless log upon the water, rolling gunwale under, the sea washing over her decks and pouring out of her scuppers. By this time dawn was breaking, so leading the skipper below, we filled away on our course, leaving the bark to the mercy of the waves, which soon overwhelmed her.
Steering for St Vincent, one of the Cape de Verde Islands, we landed the crew there on the 25th, and sailed the same day for the neighbouring island of St Jago, and anchored in the harbour of Porto Praya. Curiously enough, the only notice taken of this adventure by the authorities at home was a letter from the Admiralty (probably one of the clerks) to know by what authority I had fed these poor things, who must certainly have been drowned or blown up had it not been for the fortunate circumstance of our being near at hand, and "under what grant" the payment of the same came! Some years afterwards, Captain Schroder, commanding the German corvette Nymphe, was dining with me on board the Druid, the ship I then commanded on the North American station, and seeing a picture I had painted of the burning ship in my cabin, he asked me about it.
OFF CAPE HORN
Learning that it was one of his countrymen in distress, he asked what his Government had done in the matter. " Nothing," I replied; " I don't suppose they ever heard of it, certainly not from me" ; whereupon he danced round the cabin, and said it was a scandal and he should report it, which he did. The result was that not long afterwards I received a handsome acknowledgment from Count Munster, through the Admiralty, acknowledging the service rendered to his countrymen, and apologising for the delay, as he had not heard of it before !
My object in going into Porto Praya was to " hogg ship " (scrub the ship's bottom), her bottom being so foul she would hardly move through the water. This was due to a patent anti-fouling composition with which the copper had been painted whilst in dock at Plymouth. I noticed this at the time, and inquired the reason, as I had never seen copper painted before; but I was assured by the master-shipwright that it was necessary, so I said no more. The anti-fouling composition certainly had a remarkable effect, acting like guano as applied to soil, and produced a fine crop of rich grass, impeding the ship's progress through the water. I reported the circumstance to the Admiralty, but heard no more of it ; but I should have been glad to know "under what grant" this expense was incurred.
After leaving Porto Praya, where we had some excellent quail-shooting, we touched at Bahia and Monte Video, and then shaped course for the Falkland Islands; but being unable to weather them, we ran to the northward, and passing through the Straits
DESTRUCTION OF SAN SALVADOR.
of Le Maire, rounded Cape Horn the same night. Here we met with a succession of gales and snowstorms, against which we battled for nine days ; but by taking advantage of the shift of wind, and standing to the south-west when the wind was north-west and vice versa, we made an average of fifty miles dead to windward every twenty-four hours ; and on the ninth day we were becalmed to the westward of Cape Pillar, the western entrance to the Straits of Magellan, reaching Valparaiso without further adventure.
After six weeks' stay at Valparaiso we sailed for Coquimbo with the Shah and Triumph. On the way round, Admiral de Horsey ordered the ships to try rate of sailing. The poor old Liffey, being heavily loaded and under-masted, stood no chance with the Shah, the admiral's flagship. Whilst staggering along in her wake a man fell overboard : the Liffey was promptly rounded-to, the life-buoy let go, and a boat lowered. By this time the man was a long way astern, as a fresh breeze was blowing and the ship going fast through the water. All eyes were directed to the poor fellow in the water, when, to our horror and astonishment, we saw a large albatross swoop down on him. We could see the man wave his arms to keep the bird off ; but it returned, and, after swooping down three times, settled on the water near by, with the evident intention of picking out his eyes as soon as he was dead or helpless. Fortunately the boat reached the spot in time and the man was saved, and all we could get out of him when he was brought on board was, " Oh, that bloody bird!" Whilst on this subject I may mention that I have had many men fall overboard from ships that I have
commanded or been in, and never lost one. No less than five fell from the Liffey. How true it is
" There's a sweet little cherub that sits up aloft, To keep watch for the life of poor Jack."
Leaving the old Liffey at Coquimbo, I returned home via Panama and New York, to find that the Atlanta, a ship I had applied for, had been commissioned, sailed for the West Indies, and gone down with all hands on her passage home!
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