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Diary Of Laurent Clerc's Voyage From France To America In 1816
Monday, July the 29th. The wind was tolerably good, but the weather did not improve. I was in arrears for several days of my journal. I therefore passed all this day, morning and evening, in writing it and I soon overtook the last day, and when
I had finished all, I went with a book in my hand, to take a little walk upon deck, and when I felt myself rather fatigued, I sat on the bench and began to read. By this means I was not tired and the time fell less heavily upon me.
Tuesday, July the 30th. How many inconveniences are on the sea! Besides many dangers which one runs there, such as wrecks, failures of provisions and above all, of sweet water, sickness, indisposition, weariness and a thousand other accidents, one is besides very incommodiously situated in a ship. One while one complains of too great heat and of not a breath of air, another while one finds it is too cold, and while one bemoans on account of the moistness of both the interior and exterior of the ship, another while one murmurs against the contrary wind, and often when one is on the water, one wishes to return to land. To say in a few words, one's wishes are turned topsy- turvy. Indeed, the voyages on the ocean are quite distasteful, and I pity with all my heart those who, knowing not these inconveniences, would yet go on the sea. I could say other things on the same subject, but it would be to discourage travellers, and it is what I should not be willing that they should feel.
I admire moreover, the patience of these poor sailors who have passed almost all their life on this terrible element, and who are so good as to transport us from one country to another, where our own interest or affairs of trade call us, and who consent to suffer cold, heat, hunger, thirst, and privations of all sorts, and who even make the sacrifice of their life for their love of us.
Such were the reflections I had this day, and I have judged convenient to insert them in my journal, having no other things to say.
Wednesday, July the 31st. The weather being pretty fair, and the sun having appeared again after an absence of three days, we made good use of it to pass the day upon deck to dry us, for the preceding bad weather had made all moist and also our clothes. Whilst I was seated upon a bench having Mr. Gallaudet near me, we saw the sailors pass and repass before us by turns. That led us to speak of them. M. Gallaudet to whom the Captain had given some days previous, some particulars about each of them, knew them almost individually. Consequently he could easily satisfy me on all that I wished to be informed of respecting them, and I was told that we were all from different countries of the world.
Among the sailors were a Dutchman, a Russian, two Englishmen (and they were the Captain and our Steward), a Scotchman (and he was the Second Mate), two negro men among whom was our cook. All the remainder of the sailors were Americans. Among the passengers were two Frenchmen (myself and another); all the others were Americans. See the beginning of my journal. This assemblage of individuals of different nations, who have expatriated themselves, reminds me of the dispersion of the ancient peoples, and ought to lead us to think much of the future.
At this moment we perceive four vessels around us; one is to the north, another to the south; a third to the west, and a fourth to the east. If we succeed in overtaking any of them, I shall speak of it tomorrow.
Thursday, August the 1st. In the morning, the four vessels of which I spoke yesterday were yet in sight, but in different directions. At noon, we saw one directing her course towards us, and when she was nearer, she hoisted her flag, probably to persuade us to raise ours also, that she might know who we were. We then hoisted ours, and certainly we were each agreeably surprised to see that each flag bore the same colors and that consequently we were both from the same nation. I thought the aforesaid vessel might be that of Captain Burke whom we had seen in Havre and who was to go away one or two days after us. This thought which I suggested to Mr. Wilder, proved to be just for the two vessels were soon abreast of each other and the two Captains having talked together by means of a speaking trumpet, made themselvess reciprocially known. Their conversation was the following dialogue:
"Who are you?" asked the Captain of the other ship.
Answer: "Mary-Augusta, Captain Hall, and you?"
"Captain Burke. What is your longitude?" continued the latter.
"Sixty-four degrees", replied Captain Hall, and what is yours?"
"You are right", was the answer. "That is a Paddy's answer" said our Captain.
Then we had so separated that the conversation ceased and the passengers of each ship saluted each other by removing their hats from their heads. We were astonished that she had overtaken us, and since she has overtaken us I doubt not that she will arrive first.