Joseph Bates 3



Who the Stranger was--Slack List--Salt Shoveling--

Peak of Pico

Voyage Ended Visit my Family—Voyage to S. America

Trade Winds Sea fish--Rio Janeiro—Desperate 


Monte Video—Returning Forth.

THIS man was the ship's corporal or constable in the opposite watch from me, and was captain of those unfortunate ones called "Black List Men," subjected to perform the scavenger work of the ship, and also to scour the brass, copper, and iron where and whenever it was called for. In this work he appeared delighted to honor the king. The rattan in his hand looked to me like the same one that he used to switch about some of those unfortunate men. I have before narrated, in part, how the first Lieutenant (Campbell), threatened me with an unmerciful whipping if I did not move to suit him wherever I was stationed, because I had attempted to swim away from the Lt. Salvador del Mondo, a few days before I was introduced on board the Rodney, as I have before shown. After watching me for more than a year to execute his threat, he was one day told there was a pair of trousers between the mainmast bead and heel of the topmast. I acknowledged they were mine, for which offense he kept me in the “black list" for six months.

We had about two hours in a week to scrub and wash clothes in salt water; sometimes a few quarts of fresh water, if one could get it before, the two hours closed. And no clothes to be dried at any other time, except our hammocks, when required to scrub them. Every morning in the warm season we were required to muster with clean frocks and trousers; if reported not clean, the penalty was the "black list." If I could have obtained from the purser out of the slop chest the clothes I absolutely needed, I should never have been put to my wits end, as I was to avoid the "black list." I had at different times stated to the officer of our division how destitute I was in comparison with others, and begged of him to give me an order for clothing to muster in, so I failed because my old clothes were too much worn to be decent. I never knew any other reason for thus requiring me, as it were, to "make bricks without stubble or straw," than my first offense to swim away from their service. It was a government gain to serve clothes out to us, for they were charged to us at their own price, and deducted out of our scanty allowance of wages. I had an opportunity to know that it was not because I lived in ignorance of my duty as many others did.

For the same Mr. Campbell promoted me more than once to higher stations, and I was told that my wages were increased in proportion. This corporal never used his rattan on me, but the way he "honored" me then, was to turn me out of my hammock (if I was so fortunate as to get into it after doing duty on deck from the midnight hour), and set me at work with the "black list" gang, until it was time for me to take my station in my watch on deck again, and no more liberty for sleep until the night watch was set. In this way I sometimes got the privilege of about five hours for sleep below, and oftener but four hours out of the twenty-four! I was well satisfied he could have favored me in this matter if he pleased; but we obeyed, knowing well if he reported us slack or disobedient, our task would have been made still harder and more degrading.

And all this for attempting to dry a pair of trousers that our name may appear on the clean list!

Without gratifying his curiosity as to who I was, I learned from him the whereabouts of many of the officers and crew, a great many of whom I felt a strong attachment for. I employed two sturdy looking Irishmen to shovel our salt out of the salt scows into the "ballast port," a hole in the ship's side. While progressing in their work I saw them leaning over their salt shovels. Said I, " What is the matter?" "Matter enough, sir, your men don't shovel it away as fast as we shovel it in!" Some seven or eight men were shoveling it away from them into the ship's hole. Said I, "What is the matter, men? Are you not able to shovel the salt away as fast as these two men shovel it in?"

They replied they were not. Said one of the Irishmen who was listening at the ballast port, "If we had as much meat to eat as you, then we would give you as much again salt." "Why," said one of my sailors, who seemed much troubled about this matter, "Don't you have any meat to eat?" "No," said they, "we have not had any this fortnight."

"What do you eat then?" said the sailor. "Potatoes, sure," was the reply. My sailors were then living on all the varieties that good boarding houses afford in Liverpool. Many are of the opinion that meat imparts superior strength to the laboring class. Here then was one proof to the contrary.

On account of prevailing westerly winds on our homeward passage we came into the neighborhood of the Western Islands. Here we saw the towering Peak of Pico mingling with the clouds. By our observations at noon we learned that we were eighty miles north of it. By running towards it sixty miles we should probably have discovered its base.

We arrived safely in Alexandria, District of Columbia, in the fall of 1820. As no business offered for the ship, I returned to my family in New England, having been absent some sixteen months. Early in the spring of 1821 I sailed again for Alexandria, and took charge of the Talbot again, to perform a voyage to South America. The bulk of our cargo was flour. My position was more responsible now than before, for the whole cargo as well as the ship was now confided to me for sales and returns. My compensation for services this voyage was more than doubled. My brother F. was my chief mate. We cleared for Rio Janeiro, in the Brazils. With a fair wind, a few hours' sail from Alexandria, and we are passing ex President Washington's plantation at Mount Vernon. Sailors say that it was customary with some commanders to lower their topmast sails as a token of respect when they passed his silent tomb. About one hundred and fifty miles from Washington, and the variegated and pleasant scenery of the Potomac is passed, by entering the Chesapeake bay. We had an experienced and skillful pilot; but his thirst for strong drink requiring the steward to fix him gin toddy and brandy sling so frequently, awakened our fears for the safe navigation of the ship so that we deemed it necessary to put him on an allowance of three glasses of grog per day, until he had piloted the ship outside of the capes of Virginia.

From the capes of Virginia we shaped our course east southerly for cape de Verde Islands (as is usual) to meet the N. E. trade winds to carry us clear of the north-eastern promontory of the Brazils, or South America down to the equator of the earth where we meet the trade winds coming more southerly. In running down these N. E. trades one is struck with the brilliant pathway, the ship keeps rolling up in her onward course during the darkness of the night. The night is so brilliant, I have been tempted to read by it at the midnight hour, by holding my book open facing the shining track. But for the continual caving or tumbling of the sea to fill up the chasm under the stern of the ship which blends the letters in the book, one could read common print by it in the darkest night. Some who have examined this phenomenon, tell us it is because the sea, particularly there, is filled with living animals, or little shining fish, called animalcula. Undoubtedly these are food for larger fish. Further south we meet with another species of slender fish about a foot long, furnished with little wings. All of a sudden a large school of them rises out of the sea, wheel sometimes clear round, and then drop into their element again. The cause of this when seen sometimes, is a dolphin with all the colors of the rainbow, darting along like a streak of light, in pursuit of his prey that has eluded his grasp by rising out of their element and taking an opposite course. In the nighttime they frequently fly on board the ship, affording the mariner a delicious breakfast.

On our arrival off the capacious harbor and city of Rio Janeiro we were struck with admiration while viewing the antique, cloud capped, ragged mountains, and especially the towering sugar loaf that makes one side of the entrance to the harbor. 

Here we disposed of a large portion of our cargo and sailed for Monte Video at the entrance to the river La Plata. A few days before our arrival we encountered a most terrific gale and storm; at the close of which we were drifting on to a rock-bound, uninhabited part of the coast. The wind died away to a dead calm, the sea and current setting us on to the rocks. Our only resort was to clinch our cables and drop our anchors. Fortunately for us they held the ship. With my spy-glass I ascended the mast head to survey the rocky shore. After a while I decided on the place if we should break from our anchors and could get our ship headed for the shore, that we would plunge her, and if not overwhelmed with the surf escape to the shore.

After thus deciding, we made every necessary preparation in case that the wind should come on again in the night, to cut our cables and make a desperate effort to clear the rocks under our lee. After about thirty hours" anxious suspense the wind began to rise again from the sea; we raised our anchors and before midnight we considered ourselves out of danger from that quarter. Soon after this event we arrived at Monte Video, and disposed of the balance of our cargo, and returned again to Rio Janeiro. I invested our funds in hides and coffee, and cleared and sailed for Bahia or St. Salvador.

On the Abrolhos banks we fell in with the ship Balena, Capt. Gardiner, of New Bedford, trying out a sperm whale, which they had harpooned the day before. Capt. G. was recently from New Bedford, on a whaling voyage in the Pacific ocean. He gave us news from home, and left with me his letters for the States.

Joseph Bates

Monterey, Aug. 15, 1860.



Cutting in a Whale at sea-- Resolved never to 

drink ardent spirits—

Arrival in Alexandria Preparations for another


—Visit my Family--Escape from a Stage Sail for 

South America Singular Fish—Arrival at Rio 

Janeiro Sail for River La Plata—Dispose of my

 Cargo at Buenos Ayres—Catholic Host.

AFTER getting these huge monsters of the deep along side of the ship, with sharp spades fitted on long poles, they chop off their heads, and with their long-handled "ladles" dip out the purest; a nd best oil, called "head matter." Some of their heads yield twenty barrels of this rich product, which sells sometimes for fifty dollars per barrel. Then with their great iron "blubber hooks," hooked into a strip of their blubber, to which the huge winding tackles are fastened, with the fall at the end of the windlass, the sailors heave it round while the spade men are cutting the strip down to the flesh. As the strip of blubber rises, the whale's carcass rolls over until the blubber is all on board the ship. The carcass is then turned adrift, and soon devoured by sharks.

The blubber is minced up into small pieces, and thrown into large iron "try-pots," and dried out. When the scraps are browned they throw them under the try-pot for fuel. The hot oil is then put into casks, cooled, coopered, and stowed away for a market. While this work is progressing, the cook and steward (if the captain thinks best) are to work at the flour barrels, rolling out bushels of doughnuts, which are soon cooked in the scalding oil as a general treat for all hands. Sailors call this having a good "tuck out." The hot oil is as sweet as new hog's lard. Capt. Gardner furnished me with recent news from home, and left letters with me for the States.

In a few days I arrived at Bahia, and from thence sailed for Alexandria, D. C. While on our passage home I was seriously convicted of an egregious error, which I had committed in allowing myself, as I had done for more than a year, to drink ardent spirits, after I had practiced entire abstinence, because I had become disgusted with its debasing and demoralizing effects, and was well satisfied that drinking men were daily ruining themselves, and moving with rapid strides to a drunkard's grave. Although I had taken measures to secure myself from the drunkard's path, by not allowing myself in any case whatever to drink but one glass of ardent spirits per day, which I most strictly adhered to, yet the strong desire for that one glass when coming to the dinner hour (the usual time for it) was stronger than my appetite for food, and I became alarmed for myself. While reflecting about this matter, I solemnly resolved that I would never drink another glass of ardent spirits while I lived. It is now within a few weeks of thirty-nine years since that important era in the history of my life, and I have no knowledge of ever violating that vow, only in using it for medicinal purposes.

This circumstance gave a new spring to my whole being, and made me feel like a free man. Still it was considered genteel to drink wine in genteel company.

We had a pleasant passage from Bahia to the capes of Virginia, and arrived in Alexandria about the last of November, 1821. A letter was awaiting me here from my wife, announcing the death of our only son. Mr. Gardner, the owner of the Talbot was so well pleased with her profitable voyage, that he purchased a fast sailing brig, and an assorted cargo in Baltimore for me to proceed on a trading voyage to the Pacific Ocean; while the Talbot remained in Alexandria to undergo some necessary repairs. While preparations were being made for our contemplated voyage, I took passage in the mail stage from Baltimore to Massachusetts to visit my family. We left Baltimore on Wednesday, and arrived in Fair-haven, Mass., on first-day evening, after a tedious route of over four days, stopping nowhere only for a change of horses and a hasty meal until we reached Rhode Island. While passing through Connecticut, in the night, the horses took fright and sheered on the side of a bank and upset the stage. A very heavy man on the seat with me, held to the strap until it gave way, and fell upon me and crushed me through the side of the stage upon the frozen ground. If the driver had not leaped upon the bank as the stage was falling, and stopped his horses, we must have been killed. It was some weeks before I fully recovered. Still I rode on until I reached home.

After remaining with my family a few weeks, on  my return to Baltimore, as we were entering Philadelphia about midnight in a close winter coach, with one door, and seven men passengers, as we were passing over a deep gully, the straps of the driver's seat gave way, and two drivers fell under the wheels unknown to us who were snugly Wrapped up inside. I asked why the horses were going with such speed. Let them go, said another, I like to go fast. I was not so well satisfied, but threw off my cloak, got the door opened and hallooed to the driver; but receiving no answer, and perceiving that the horses were going at full speed down Third street, I reached around forward and saw the drivers were gone, and the lines trailing after the horses. I threw the step down, stepped out on it, perhaps a foot from the ground, and watched for an opportunity to jump on a snow bank, but the horses yet kept on the pavement where the snow was worn off. The passengers from behind were urging me to jump, as they wished to follow before the stage was dashed in pieces. I finally sprang forward with the going of the stage, with all my strength, and just saw the hind wheels clearing my body, when I pitched upon my head, and how many times I tumbled after that before I stopped I cannot tell. I found I had gashed the top of my head, from which the blood was fast flowing. I heard the stage rattling most furiously away down the street. By the aid of the moonlight I found my hat, and put on after the stage. I soon came to Mr. G., my owner's son, who was in company with me from Boston. In his fright he jumped square out of the stage, and was seriously injured.

After getting him under a doctor's care, I started to learn the fate of the other five, and our baggage. I met the horses with a driver returning with the stage broke down on the wheels. Four other passengers followed our example, and were not much injured. The last man out was a very heavy one, and he jumped out, after the carriage left the pavement, on the sand uninjured. The horses ran to the river and turned suddenly under a low shed and crushed the stage upon the wheels, which would in all probability have killed every passenger that had dared to remain. We learned in the morning that the drivers but just escaped with their lives, the stage wheels crushing the fingers of one and taking a hat from the other's head. After a few days we were enabled to proceed, and arrived in Baltimore.

Soon after my return to Baltimore I was placed in command of the brig Chatsworth, with an assorted cargo suitable for our contemplated voyage, with unlimited power to continue trading as long as I could find business profitable. Firearms and ammunition were also furnished for the captain to defend ourselves in cases of piracy and mutiny. My brother F. was still my chief mate. We cleared for South America and Pacific Ocean, and sailed from Baltimore Jan. 22, 1822. In a few weeks we were passing Cape de Verde Islands, bending our course for the Southern Ocean.

In the vicinity of the equator, in moderate weather and calms, we meet with a singular species of fish (more numerous than in higher latitudes) furnished with something analogous to our oars and sails.

Naturalists sometimes call them "Nautilus." They are a kind of shell-fish. With their great long legs for oars to steady them, they rise and swell out above the water from four to six inches in length, and about the same in height, very much resembling a little ship under full white sails. They sail and sheer round about the ship, fall flat on the sea as though they were upset by a squall of wind, rise erect again, and glide ahead with their accustomed speed, seemingly to show the mariner that they too are ships, and how they can out-sail him. But as soon as the wind rises their courage fails them; they take in all sail and hide under water until another calm. Sailors call them "Portugese men-of-war."

About the 20th of March we arrived and anchored  in the harbor of Rio Janeiro. Finding no demand for our whole cargo we sailed again for the River La Plata. As we approached the northern entrance of the river, in the stillness of the night, although some three miles from the shore, we could distinctly hear the sea-dogs (seals) growling and barking from the sand-beach where they had come up out of the sea to regale themselves. The next day we anchored off Monte Video, to inquire into the state of the markets, and soon learned that our cargo was much wanted up the river at Buenos Ayres. In navigating this, to us, new, and narrow channel in the night, without a pilot, we got on to the bottom, and were obliged to lighten our vessel by throwing some of her cargo into the sea before she would float into the channel again. On our arrival at the city of Buenos Ayres our cargo sold immediately at a great profit.

While lying at Buenos Ayres at the head of ship navigation, a heavy "norther" blew all the water out of the river for many leagues. It was singular to see officers and crews of ships passing from one to the other, and to the city, on hard, dry bottom, where but the day before their ships were floating and swinging to their anchors in fifteen feet of water. But it was dangerous to travel many miles off, for the dying away of the wind, or a change of wind at the mouth of the river rushed the water back like the roaring of a cataract, and floated the ships in quick time again to swing to their anchors. Until the suppression of the Inquisition in 1820, no other religion but Roman Catholic was tolerated in Buenos Ayres. It was singular to notice, as we had frequent opportunities so to do, with what superstitious awe the mass of the inhabitants regarded the ceremonies of their priests, especially the administering of the sacrament to the dying. The ringing of a small table-bell in the street announces the coming of the Host, generally in the following order: A little in advance of the priest may be seen a black boy making a "ding-dong" sound with his little bell, and sometimes two soldiers, one on each side of the priest, with their muskets shouldered, with fixed bayonets to enforce the church order for every knee to bow at the passing of the Host, or subject themselves to the point of the soldiers' bayonet. (I was told that an Englishman refusing to bend his knee when the Host was passing him, was stabbed with the soldier's bayonet.) Persons on horseback dismount and kneel with men, women and children in the streets, and at the threshold of their dwelling-houses, groceries and grog-shops, while the Host, or the priest is passing with the wafer and the wine. We foreigners could stand at the four corners and witness the coming of the Host and pass another way before they reached us.

Some thirty miles below the city of Buenos Ayres is a good harbor for shipping, called Ensenado. To this place I repaired with the Chatsworth and prepared her for a winter's voyage round Cape Horn.

Joseph Bates

Monterey, Michigan



Crossing the Pampas of Buenos Ayres 

Preparation fop the Pacific

Ocean—Resolved never to drink wine—

Aspect of the starry

heavens  Alarming position off Cape Horn 

Double the Cape

Island of Juan Fernandez—Mountains of Peru—

Arrival at Callao—Voyage to Pisco.

WHILE at Ensenado our communications for business with Buenos Ayres required us to cross the Pampas, or vast prairies lying on the south of that province. To do this, and also protect ourselves from highway robbers, we united in bands and armed ourselves for defense.

Our way was first about twenty miles across the prairie, and then twenty miles further over the "loomas," or high lands, to the city. Once out on this vast prairie without a guide, is next to being on the vast ocean without a compass. Not a tree, nor a shrub, nor anything but reeds and tall wild grass to be seen as far as the eye can extend. About the only thing to attract attention and relieve the mind while passing through the deep and dangerous muddy reed bogs, and still miry marshes, fording creeks and running streams, was occasionally flocks of sheep herds of swine, horned cattle, and horses, all quietly feeding in their own organized order. On the two last mentioned might be seen large and small birds quietly perching on their backs, having no other resting place. Mounted on our hired, half wild horses, stationing our well-paid postillion ahead, we thus passed over this twenty-mile prairie rank and file, following in the cattle's miry mud tracks, part of the time our arms around the horses' necks, fearing lest we should be thrown into a mud hole among the reeds, or left to swim in the stream.

After some four hours' journeying the "loomas" would appear ahead, then a farm house, and then the half-way home, or tavern for dinner, and change of horses. Soon a herd of one hundred or more horses were driven out from the prairies into a “carrall," or yard, and set. Going with full speed around the yard, while the men with their lassos, Or long hide ropes with a noose at the end, in a most dexterous manner would throw their noose over heir heads and bring them up to the post, then, wild or not, they were held until the rider mounted, when they would start rank and file again after the postillion, and soon follow the leading horse without turning, as they had learned to go with the herds on the prairie. The same order is observed in returning back to Ensenado. During our stay here the numerous arrivals from the United States overstocked the market, and opened the way for me to purchase a cargo for the Pacific on reasonable terms. The Chatsworth was now loaded and cleared for Lima, in Peru.

As I had resolved on my previous voyage never more to use ardent spirits only for medicinal purposes, so now on leaving Buenos Ayres, I also resolved that I would never drink another glass of wine. In this work of reform I found myself entirely alone, and exposed to the jeering remarks of those with whom I afterwards became associated, especially when I declined drinking with them. Yet after all their comments, that it was not improper or dangerous to drink moderately, &c., they were constrained to admit that my course was perfectly safe!

 Passing from the northern into the southern hemisphere, one is struck with the remarkable change in the starry heavens. Before reaching the equator the well-known north star is apparently setting in the northern horizon, and a great portion of the well-known stars in the northern hemisphere are receding from the mariner's view. But this loss is supplied by the splendid, new and varied scenery in the southern heavens as he sails onward towards the southern polar regions. Here away in the south-western heavens, in the track of the milky way, every star-light night can be seen two small stationary white clouds, called by sailors the "Magallamic clouds." Ferguson says, "By the aid of the telescope they appear to be a mixture of small clouds and stars." But the most remarkable of all the cloudy stars he says, "is that in the middle of Orion's sword, where seven stars (three of which are very close together) seem to shine through a cloud. It looks like a gap in the sky, through which one may see as it were a part of a much brighter region. Although most of these spaces are but a few minutes of a degree in breadth, yet since they are among the fixed stars they must be spaces larger than what is occupied by our solar system; and in which there seems to be a perpetual, uninterrupted day among numberless worlds which no human art ever can discover."

This gap or place in the sky is undoubtedly the same that is spoken of in the Scriptures. See John 1:51; Rev. 19:11. The center of this constellation (Orion) is midway between the poles of heaven, and directly over the equator of the earth, and comes to the meridian about the twenty-third of January, at 9 o'clock in the evening. Inspiration testifies that "the worlds were framed by the word of God." Hebrews 11:3. "He hangeth the earth upon nothing." "By his Spirit he hath garnished the heavens." 

Job 26:7, 13. 

On our passage from Buenos Ayres towards Cape Horn, we arrived in the vicinity of Falkland Islands between three and four hundred miles north-east of the Cape. Here we endeavored to make a harbor during a storm by beating up into Falkland Sound, but the increasing gale obliged us to bear up and continue our southern course. On arriving off Cape Horn, about July and August, the coldest and most stormy season of the year, for about thirty days we were contending with prevailing westerly gales, and floating islands of ice from the polar-regions, trying (as sailors say) to double Cape Horn. While lying to under a balanced reefed try-sail off the Cape in a heavy westerly gale, a heavy cross sea boarded us on our larboard side which stove in our bulwarks and stantions, and ripped up the plankshire, and washed them up against the mast from near the windlass to the cabin gangway. In this exposed and perilous condition, liable to be filled with water and sink immediately, we set the close-reefed main top-sail and put the vessel before the wind; and to keep her still more steady we packed on also a reefed foresail which increased her speed so furiously that it prevented her from rolling the open space under water only occasionally. Fortunately we had a new main hatch tarpaulin at hand. With strips of this all hands were now engaged as opportunity offered to get it over the open spaces, and drive a nail to secure it, and rush back to our holding-on places until the ship rolled again to leeward. In about two hours we secured in this way, temporally, the open space took in our main top-sail and fore-sail, and hove to again on the same tack under a balanced reefed try-sail or strain-sail. Then after pumping out the water and clearing away the wreck we had time to reflect on our narrow escape from utter destruction, and how God in kindness had opened the way for us to save ourselves in this trying hour.

After the gale abated next day, we repaired damages more thoroughly, and at the expiration of some thirty days' struggling off Cape Horn against westerly gales and driving snow-storms, we were enabled to double the Cape and shape our course for the island of Juan Fernandez, some fourteen hundred miles north of us. The westerly winds were now in our favor, so that in a few days we changed our climate and were passing along in sight of this far-famed island, once the whole world to Robinson Crusoe. After sailing north some twenty-six hundred miles from the stormy Cape, the towering mountains of Peru could be distinctly seen, though some eighty miles distant from the coast. Passing onward, we cast our anchor in the spacious bay of Callao, about six miles west of the celebrated city of Lima. North American produce was in good demand. Some of my first sales of flour were over thirty dollars per barrel. A few cargoes arriving soon after us, reduced the price to thirty dollars.

Here I chartered the Chatsworth to a Spanish merchant for a voyage to Pisco, some one hundred miles further south, with the privilege of disposing of my cargo and returning with his.

Soon after our arrival here, the chief mate and two of the men went up to the village (about three miles from the harbor) to procure beef and vegetables for dinner. The men soon returned with the statement that the patriot soldiers had descended from the mountains, and beseiged the village, and pillaged the store where some of our cargo was exposed for sale, and had driven the mate out on one side of the village to shoot him, and also declared that they were coming down to take our vessel and dispose of me because of the Spanish merchant we had brought there from Lima. The mate soon appeared on the beach. After the boat brought him on board he said that the soldiers on learning that he was the mate of the Chatsworth, drove him on one side of the village to shoot him. On arriving at the place one of the soldiers persuaded the others not to kill him. They then concluded to let him go, but beat him most unmercifully with their swords. We made preparations to defend ourselves, but our enemies thought best not to expose themselves within reach of our cannon balls. Notwithstanding our opposing foes who continued to threaten us, we disposed of all our cargo here at better prices than was offered at Callao, and returned to Callao with the Spanish merchant's cargo. While at Callao a whale made his appearance in the bay. A Nantucket whale-ship there at the time followed him with her boats and harpooned him.

The whale rushed in among the shipping with the boat in tow like a streak through the foaming water, and dashed down directly under the bottom of a large English brig, giving her pursuers but a moment's warning to chop off their line and save their lives something like leaving her compliments with her unknown foes, saying, "If you follow me here you will never harpoon another poor whale." The whale rushed through the fleet of shipping to the head of the bay in shoal water. The boat followed and fastened to her again, when she came streaming out of the bay, and in a little while we could but just discern the boat as the sun was setting, in the offing, with her wave flying, signifying the whale was dead.

Joseph Bates

Battle Creek, Michigan

 Oct., 1860.




Scenery and Climate of Lima—Earthquakes—

Destruction of Callao—

Ship out of Tier Element--Cemetery and 

Disposal of the Dead.

LIEUTENANT CONNEK (now Commodore) who commanded the United States schooner Dolphin, got under way, and the next day arrived with the whale and boat in tow. By invitation, the day following, the citizens of Lima came down in numbers to witness how the North Americans cut in and stow away the big whales found in their waters.

 The climate in this region is healthy, and the scenery most delightful.  There are floating white clouds, beyond which may be seen the indigo colored sky, apparently twice the distance from the earth that it is in North America. And then there is the sweet salubrious air and strong trade winds and evergreen fields, and trees bending with delicious fruit, while the ground continually teems with vegetation for both man and beast. There are no storms of rain, and the people say it never rains there. Their city is: walled and guarded on the east by towering mountains, easy of ascent, even above the white-capped clouds which sail below the admiring beholder, until they strike a higher ledge of the mountains, then rise and float away over the vast Pacific on the west. And still farther in the distance on the cast, about 90 leagues, lie in huge piles the continual snow-capped Andes, all plain to the naked eye, which continually send forth gushing streams that water the plains below. This is also conveyed by means of walled ditches to the streets of the city.

Much more could be added to this interesting description to make a residence there very desirable. But one shock of an earthquake (and they are frequent there), perhaps in the dead of the night when the inhabitants rush into the streets to save themselves from falling dwellings, crying, wailing and screaming aloud for mercy, is enough to make one perfectly willing and in a hurry to exchange his position for almost any region where the earth rests quietly on its own foundation. It is stated in Mr. Haskell's Chronology of the World that Lima was destroyed by an earthquake in October, 1746. This I think could not have been the city of Lima, but the sea port of this city, called Callao. For the most celebrated and central part of the city of Lima is the Palace Square, on one side of which then stood a very ancient, long, one-story, wooden building, where city officers transacted their business. I was frequently told that this building was the palace or dwelling-place of the Spanish adventurer Pizarro, after his conquest of Peru. If this statement was correct, then it will be allowed that Pizarro occupied it long before the earthquake in 1746. Hence that part of the city could not have been destroyed. But her sea-port, called Callao, was. 

The city of Lima is situated about six miles in the interior from her sea port Callao, and is about seven hundred feet above the level of the sea on an inclined plane. While I was there in 1822 8, seventy- seven years after the earthquake, I frequently visited the place to view the massy piles of brick, from about eighteen inches under water to as far down as I could see, that composed the buildings and walls of the place at the time of the earthquake. I was told that a Spanish frigate was lying moored in the harbor at the time, and after its destruction by the earthquake she was found three miles inland, about half way from the port of Callao to the city of Lima, some 350 feet above the level of the sea. Allowing this statement to be true, and I never heard any one attempt to disprove it, then it must have been the earthquake that caused the earth first to rise under the sea causing the body of water between it and the land to rush on with such force, that the frigate was carried up the inclined plane, and when the water receded she was left some three miles from the sea-shore! From all appearances Callao was overflowed by the sea, for its ruins lie nearly on a level with the sea, and are under a lake of water separated from the ocean by a sand bar. I have heard, and also observed, that the sea does not rise and fall here at stated periods as it does in almost all other harbors and places. Hence it is clear that the body of water, which covers the ruins of Callao, is not furnished from the sea.

Another singular curiosity in this place was the cemetery, about five miles out of the city, which was different from anything I had ever seen. At the entrance was the church with the cross. Part of the way round the cemetery was double walled. The space or pass-way between these walls appeared to be about forty feet wide. The walls were about eight feet high and seven thick, with three rows of cells where they deposited the dead. These were rented to those who could afford to deposit their dead in this style, for six months or any length of time. Some of these cells were bricked up, and others had iron doors that were locked. The unoccupied ones were open for rent. In the center, between the walls, were deep vaults covered with iron gratings in which we could see dead bodies all tumbled together without order. I learned that when the six months, or whatever time the cells were rented for, closed, the bodies were taken out and pitched into the vaults in the center.

Thus they could accommodate others. In another department the dead were buried underground in rows. Near by the church was a large circular vault, with a steeple-top covering resting on pillars several feet above the vault. This was another burying-place. On looking over the railing placed around it to prevent the living from falling in, the sight was most revolting. Some stood erect, others with their heads downward and in every imaginable position, just as they happened to fall from the hand-barrow, with their ragged, unclean clothing on in which they died. These of course were the abject poor, whose friends were unable to pay rent for a burying-place underground or in one of the whitewashed cells in the walls. The dead soldiers were carried out of the forts and dumped in here with little ceremony. The air is so salubrious there that no offensive smell arises from these dead bodies. They literally waste away and dry up.

Joseph Bates

Monterey, Michigan