Wednesday, August Thursday, Sept. Friday, Sept. We caught a couple of dolphins, and fried them for dinner. They eat indifferent well. These fish make a glorious appearance in the water; their bodies are of a bright green, mixed with a silver colour, and their tails of a shining golden yellow; but all this vanishes presently after they are taken out of their element, and they change all over to a light gray.
I observed that cutting off pieces of a just-caught, living dolphin for baits, those pieces did not lose their lustre and fine colours when the dolphin died, but retained them perfectly. Every one takes notice of that vulgar error of the painters, who always represent this fish monstrously crooked and deformed, when it is, in reality, as beautiful and well-shaped a fish as any that swims. I cannot think what could be the original of this chimera of theirs, since there is not a creature in nature that in the least resembles their dolphin unless it proceeded at first from a false imitation of a fish in the posture of leaping, which they have since improved into a crooked monster, with a head and eyes like a bull, a hog's snout, and a tail like a blown tulip.
But the sailors give me another reason though a whimsical one, viz. Saturday, September 3; Sunday, 4; Monday, 5. Tuesday, Sept. Wednesday, Sept.
Voyage Into the Wind
A dolphin kept us company all this afternoon; we struck at him several times, but could not take him. The bait was a candle with two feathers stuck in it, one on each side, in imitation of a flying-fish, which are the common prey of the dolphins. They appeared extremely eager and hungry, and snapped up the hook as soon as ever it touched the water.
When we came to open them, we found in the belly of one a small dolphin, half digested. Certainly they were half-famished, or are naturally very savage, to devour those of their own species. Saturday, Sept. Sunday, Sept. Monday, Sept. At least ten parts out of twelve of him were hid from our eyes, and we were apprehensive he would have been totally darkened.
This morning we saw a Tropic bird, which flew round our vessel several times.
It is a white fowl, with short wings; but one feather appears in his tail, and does not fly very fast. We reckon ourselves about half our voyage; latitude 38 and odd minutes. These birds are said never to be seen further north than the latitude of Saturday, September Sunday, September Every one puts on a clean shirt and a cheerful countenance, and we begin to be very good company.
Heaven grant that this favourable gale may continue! Monday, Septemher We see Tropic birds every day, sometimes five or six together; they are about as big as pigeons. Tuesday, September It has been perfectly calm all this day, and very hot. I was determined to wash myself in the sea to-day, and should have done so, had not the appearance of a Shark, that mortal enemy to swimmers, deterred me; he seemed to be about five foot long, moves round the ship at some distance, in a slow, majestic manner, attended by near a dozen of those they call Pilot-fish, of different sizes; the largest of them is not so big as a small mackerell, and the smallest not bigger than my little finger.
Two of these diminutive Pilots keep just before his nose, and he seems to govern himself in his motions by their direction; while the rest surround him on every side indifferently. A shark is never seen without a retinue of these, who are his purveyors, discovering and distinguishing his prey for him; while he in turn gratefully protects them from the ravenous, hungry dolphin. They are commonly counted a very greedy fish; yet this refuses to meddle with the bait thrown out for him. The shark has left us. Friday, September 23rd. We showed our jack upon the ensign-staff, and shortened sail for them till about noon, when she came up with us.
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She was a snow, from Dublin, bound for New York, having upwards of fifty servants on board of both sexes; they all appeared upon deck, and seemed very much pleased at the sight of us. There is really something strangly chearing to the spirits in the meeting of a ship at sea, containing a society of creatures of the same species and in the same circumstances with ourselves, after we had been long separated and excommunicated as it were from the rest of mankind.
My heart fluttered in my breast with joy, when I saw so many human countenances, and I could scarce refrain from that kind of laughter, which proceeds from some degree of inward pleasure. When we have been for a considerable time tossing on the vast waters, far from the sight of any land or ships, or any mortal creature but ourselves except a few fish and sea-birds , the whole world, for aught we know, may be under a second deluge, and we, like Noah and his company in the ark, the only surviving remnant of the human race.
The two Captains have mutually promised to keep each other company; but this I look upon to be only matter of course, for if ships are unequal in their sailing, they seldom stay for one another, especially strangers.
This af ternoon, the wind, that had been so long contrary to us, came about to the eastward, and looks as if it would hold, to our no small satisfaction. I find our messmates in a better humour, and more pleased with their present condition, than they have been since they came out; which I take to proceed from the contemplation of the miserable circumstances of the passengers on board our neighbour, and making the comparison.
We reckon ourselves in a kind of paradise, when we consider how they live, confined and stifled up with such a lousy, stinking rabble, in this hot sultry latitude. This morning early we spied a sail ahead of us, which we took to be her; but presently after we spied another, and then we plainly perceived, that neither of them could be the snow; for one of them stemmed with us, and the other bore down directly upon us, having the weather-gage of us. As the latter drew near, we were a little surprized, not knowing what to make of her; for by the course she steered, she did not seem designed for any port, but looked as if she intended to clap us aboard immediately.
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I could perceive concern in every face on board; but she presently eased us of our apprehensions by bearing away astern of us. WVhen we hoisted our jack, she answered with French colours, and presently took them down again; and we soon lost sight of her.
The other ran by us in less than half an hour, and answered our jack with an English ensign; she stood to the Eastward, but the wind was too high to speak with either of them. About nine o'clock we spied our consort, who had got a great way ahead of us. She, it seems, had made sail during the night, while we lay by, with our mainyard down, during the hard gale.
She very civilly shortened sail for us, and this afternoon we came up with her; and now we are running along very amicably together side by side, having a most glorious fair wind. About midnight, having last sight of each other, we shortened sail for them: but this morning they were got as far ahead of us as we could see, having run by us in the dark unperceived. We made sail and came up with them about noon; and if we chance to be ahead of them again in the night, we are to show them a light, that we may not lose company by any such accident for the future.
The wind still continues fair, and we have made a greater run these last four-and-twenty hours than we have done since we came out. All our discourse, now, is of Philadelphia, and we begin to fancy ourselves ashore already. Yet a small change of weather, attended by a westerly wind, is sufficient to blast all our bloorning hopes, and quite spoil our present good humour. Monday, September In the twelve o'clock watch our consort, who was about a league ahead of us, showed us a light, and we answered with another. About six o'clock this morning we had a sudden hurry of wind at all points of the compass, accompanled with the most violent shower of rain I ever saw, insomuch that the sea looked like a cream dish.
But this did not last long ere the wind settled to the North-East again, to our great satisfaction. Our consort fell astern of us in the storm, but made sail and came up with us again after it was over. We hailed one another on the morrow, congratulating upon the continuance of the fair wind, and both ran on very lovingly together.
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I have laid a bowl of punch, that we are in Philadelphia next Saturday se'nnight; for we reckon ourselves not above leagues from land. The snow keeps us company still. This afternoon we took several branches of gulf-weed with which the sea spread all over, from the Western Isles to the coast of America ; but one of these branches had something peculiar in it. In common with the rest, it had a leaf about three quarters of an inch long, indented like a saw, and a small yellow berry, filled with nothing but wind; besides which it bore a fruit of the animal kind, very surprising to see.
It was a small shell-fish like a heart, thc stalk by which it proceeded from the branch being partly of a grisly kind. Upon this one branch of the weed, there were near forty of these vegetable animals; the smallest of them, near the end, contained a substance somewhat like an oyster, but the larger were visibly animated, opening their shells every moment, and thrusting out a set of unformed claws, not unlike those of a crab; but the inner part was still a kind of soft jelly.
Observing the weed more narrowly, I spied a very small crab crawling among it, about as big as the head of a ten-penny nail, and of a yellowish colour, like the weed itself. This gave me some reason to think, that he was a native off the branch; that he had not long since been in the same condition with the rest of those little embrios that appeared in the shells, this being the method of their generation; and that, consequently, all the rest of this odd kind of fruit might be crabs in due time.
To strengthen my conjecture, I have resolved to keep the weed in salt water, renewing it every day till we come on shore, by this experiment to see whether any more crabs will be produced or not in this manner. I remember that the last calm we had, we took notice of a large crab upon the surface of the sea, swimming from one branch of weed to another, which he seemed to prey upon; and I likewise recollect that at Boston, in New England, I have often seen small crabs with a shell like a snail shell upon their backs, crawling about in the salt water; and likewise at Portsmouth in England.
It is like Nature has provided them hard shell to secure them till their own proper shell has acquired a sufficient hardness, which once perfected. The various changes that silkworms, butterflies, and several other insects go through, make such alterations and metamorphoses not improbable. This day the captain of the snow with one of his passengers came on board us; but the wind beginning to blow, they did not stay dinner, but returned to their own vessel.
But the weed begins to wither, and the rest of the embrios are dead.