Confessions of a Captive Sibyl

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Nativity aud early boyhood. MY nativity dates Dec. Unlike most sea-faring men, how ever, he ended his days, as I was happy to learn, at home, and in the bosom of his family. He died Nov. Whether inherited from him, I am unable to say, but, from my earliest recollection, I was beset by a strong penchant for a life on the ocean.

Aware of this, and, at the same time, determined to over-xule it, he apprenticed me, when in my eleventh year, to an honest miller in the neighborhood. In a twelve month, however, acting under the blind impulse of an increasing passion for sea-life, I left him clandestinely for Brixham, and shipped in a troller, The Friends, Capt. Griswold, belonging to that place. I was now a little les8 than twelve years of age.

After disposing of her cargo of fish at Portsmouth, our ship returned to Brixham to refit for Ramsgate, from whence she was to proceed to the North Seas. In the mean time, a young man of my acquaint ance having met me on shore and carried tidings of my whereabouts to my mother, she, with a neighbor ing woman, intercepted me in the nick of time, when I was setting the captain on shore for the last time.

Here she told the captain, what I dare say he had suspected before, that I was a runaway, and added, what, probably, he had not so much reason for sus pecting, that I had a master who would not allow me to go to sea, without making my abductor trouble. As I was unwilling to return, however, the" captain told my mother that, being ready to go to sea that afternoon, if I were permitted to accompany him, and should be satisfied to continue in his service, he would, on his return from that voyage, see my master, and arrange matters with him to his satisfaction.

To this, as the best terms she could effect, my poor mother assented; when she returned home, and her unheed ingboy, once more aboard ship, stood away for Rams gate. Here my captain, who had allured me into his ser vice by promises of kind treatment, soon showed himself in his true character of a tyrant.

Fail ing to suit the time and manner of this and various other operations, equally unadapted to my juvenile capacity, to his caprice, a thwack on the head with a handspike was the almost certain hint for the neces sary improvement.

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At other times, after I had spent the night with a lantern at mast-head, I was sent be low for the brandy, with orders to serve a glass to each of the men; which done, I was ordered to carry it below, and all without intimating permission to appropriate a drop to my own benefit. On one of these occasions, after the brandy and I were below, I thought, " If the skipper will not ask me, I will even ask myself to take a glass;" and, thoughtless of the watching eye which had followed me down the com panion, suited the action to the word.

On reaching the deck, he seized me by the collar, and demanded, " "Who authorized you to drink my grog? The next part of the ceremony was performed by means of the tiller rope, in the shape of a sound thrashing, and the whole was concluded with something intended for wit, which went off on the idea of my double warming, by way of brandy and the hemp. This state of things continued, without interruption, till one of the men, in whose presence he gave me a brutal blow, interfered by saying: " If you strike that boy again, I will strike you.

To me, however, as kicks and cuffs came with a sensibly diminished frequency, the effect amounted to a clear gain.

August Wrap Up

April, We anchored at Kamsgate. On put ting the captain ashore and returning to the ship, I found that another boy and myself were left, for the time, in sole charge. Predetermined, as I had been for some time, to take myself off upon the first oppor tunity, I thought to myself, " Now is my time. At Brixham, where the cruise would have been up, I should have been entitled to my wages. Instead of submitting to pres ent inconvenience, for a few days, which a wiser head would have done, I chose to sacrifice all other con siderations to the gratification of a longing for imme diate release from an irksome bondage.

At daylight, I was among the shipping, in quest of a passage to Brixham. Presently I lighted on a ship bound to that place, loaded with oranges, from St. The reader will readily imagine that, situated as I was, this offer was readily embraced. May 7. We arrived at Brixham.

On landing, whom should I meet but the wife of my late captain. By some means she knew me, and asked where her husband was, and whether I had not left him. To the latter part of her question, I replied in the affir mative ; and added, that I did not mean to return. She said, if I would not return, she would have me taken up and sent back; alleging, that I was under engagement to be apprenticed to him at the end of the voyage. While words were running high between us, a gentleman came up, to whom, upon being ques tioned, I gave a true statement of the matter in dis pute.

Farther questions elicited mine and my father's name, as well as the place to which we both belonged; when he said, that his name was Henry Jackman, and that he was my uncle; adding, " It is many years since I have seen your father; but I am very happy to see you here. On the way he told me, what I could not deny, that he supposed I was a runaway from home; that I was too young to be knocking about alone at this rate, and advised me to go home and stay there; adding, that he was going there, and would take me with him, at all events.

Accordingly, the next morning we started. I need not say, that my dear mother was overjoyed to see me, nor that she strongly supported my uncle's advice to return to my old master, the miller, and serve out my time. To this, though my inclination to wander was scarcely less strong than ever, I at last assented. My kind uncle accompanied me to my master. I gave him what satisfaction I could, as to the probability of my being able to resist my propensity to the life of a rover; upon which, at my uncle's pressing in stance, he reinstated me in my mill-itary position.

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My master was uniformly kind, as, indeed, lie ever had been, and things went on smoothly for about ten months; when, my evil destiny prompting with re newed force, I determined to leave, for good. My master's nephew, about my own age, agreed to be my companion in the venture, and we started on the last day, or rather night, of February, The next day, on seeing a man riding towards us on the way from Detsom, our guilty imaginations instantly meta morphosed him into our pursuing master, of the mill; when, like two of Bloomfield's frightened pigs, we both. Having gained a covert in a neighboring wood, we kept whist and lay close, till the fainter sounds of the horse's hoofs told us that the danger was past.

Here Cliauncy bolted outright, declaring that he would go no farther, and he strongly plead with me to adopt the same conclusion. I told him I had been back once, already, and that I was now determined to " lose the horse or win the saddle. He put back for home, and I put on for Plymouth, where I arrived that night. The next day, after several unsuccessful applications, I fell in with a sea captain who said he would ship me, and I found myself on board the May Flower, captain Cummings, of Plymouth, bound to Cardiff thence to Gibraltar, and thence to Malaga.


We were ready for sea, March 15, arrived at Cardiff on the 19th, where, after taking in a cargo of coal, we made sail for Gibraltar on the 30th, at which place we arrived, April Here we discharged cargo, took in ballast, and then made sail for Malaga, at which place we an chored, May 2. Here we took in a cargo of raisins, oranges, lemons, sumach, wine, and lead. While lying here, I witnessed the grand and awful spectacle of a burning ship.

It was a Spanish brig, loaded with brandy and olive oil. A Spanish man-of war was lying there, the captain of which manned his boats, and strove, by firing into her, to sink her, in order to prevent her from firing the other shipping. But with such a cargo, in a state of rapid combustion, the ten dency was to any other than the downward direction; so that sinking was out of the question. She took fire at 7 in the evening, and burned till 9 A. The account we obtained from one of her own men, who was in the forecastle at the time, was, that three men went into the hold with a candle and bucket to draw some brandy.

They were never seen afterwards. The captain and mate were on shore, and in less than fifteen minutes after the fire was dis covered, the ill-fated ship was wrapped in flames. May Our cargo was shipped, and we made sail for Liverpool; but were forced by head winds to put into Gibraltar, where we lay five days.

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J une 7. When we were nine days out, we encountered a heavy gale, which lasted three days. A heavy sea which struck us, carried away the galley, and a boy, who happened to be in it at the moment. We lost sight of him im mediately after the "poor fellow went over. Our long boat was also carried away, together with our bul warks, foretop-gallant-mast, foretop-mast, and flying jib-boom.

Sibyl – We're moving…

Our sails were blown from the yards like coach-whips, and we sprung our mainmast. When the gale was over, we fished our mainmast, got up another foretop-mast, bent some sails, and were once more on our homebound way. June We arrived at Liverpool, discharged our cargo, aud I received mj wages. Here I shipped on board the Sybil, captain MacFarlane, of Belfast, for which place, after taking in a cargo of salt, we sailed July 7, and arrived there on the 12th. The captain, whose family were here, and who very naturally wished to be as free from the ship as possible in order to'enjoy their society, told us that, while we were dis charging freight, he would allow us for our board, and that we might get it where we pleased. This was early in the morning, and the whole posse of us bore away for a boarding-house. The keeper of the first we came to, on being hailed, said he would take us.

Upon this we took our eating positions, and, after waiting a while, asked our hostess if she was going to give us any breakfast. She replied: " That is your break fast. Unlucky dogs that we were! The consequence was, that the stirabout—not exactly boiling, to be sure, but at the point which Fahrenheit, if immersed in it, would have pronounced the boiling heat—the consequence was, I say, that the stirabout went in and out; in quick, and out quicker, leaving nothing behind but skinless mouths, and the taste of fire.

The reader may imagine, as best suits his humor, whether the sputter, the clatter, and the general uproar that fol lowed, and in the middle of which we took leave of our landlord and his stirabout, contained wishes for more good, or ill luck, to it and him. In our next quarters, which we entered with an express article against stirabout, we remained until we had unloaded ship, and reloaded with beef and pork, when we made sail for London. Springing a leak, when we were three days out, called for hard and constant labor at the pumps, day and night, till we reached our destination, which was July Under weigh for Australia.

We got under weigh, sailed down tbe Thames, and stood out upon our long voyage. I say long, the distance from London to Sidney being reckoned, in round numbers, at 14, miles. The John Berry was a government vessel, and freighted with male convicts. Their exact number was un known to the writer; but it must have been not far from tbree hundred. The skip's crew, including offi cers and common sailors, was about thirty, beside which, we had on board not far from an equal number of marines.