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Chapter 51 THE EMIGRANTS

  • After the first miserable weather we experienced at sea, we had intervals o_oul and fair, mostly the former, however, attended with head winds', till a_ast, after a three days' fog and rain, the sun rose cheerily one morning, an_howed us Cape Clear. Thank heaven, we were out of the weather emphaticall_alled _"Channel weather,"_ and the last we should see of the easter_emisphere was now in plain sight, and all the rest was broad ocean.
  • _Land ho!_ was cried, as the dark purple headland grew out of the north. A_he cry, the Irish emigrants came rushing up the hatchway, thinking Americ_tself was at hand.
  • "Where is it?" cried one of them, running out a little way on the bowsprit.
  • "Is _that_ it?"
  • "Aye, it doesn't look much like _ould_ Ireland, does it?" said Jackson.
  • "Not a bit, honey:—and how long before we get there? to-night?"
  • Nothing could exceed the disappointment and grief of the emigrants, when the_ere at last informed, that the land to the north was their own native island,
  • which, after leaving three or four weeks previous in a steamboat fo_iverpool, was now close to them again; and that, after newly voyaging so man_ays from the Mersey, the Highlander was only bringing them in view of th_riginal home whence they started.
  • They were the most simple people I had ever seen. They seemed to have n_dequate idea of distances; and to them, America must have seemed as a plac_ust over a river. Every morning some of them came on deck, to see how muc_earer we were: and one old man would stand for hours together, lookin_traight off from the bows, as if he expected to see New York city ever_inute, when, perhaps, we were yet two thousand miles distant, and steering,
  • moreover, against a head wind.
  • The only thing that ever diverted this poor old man from his earnest searc_or land, was the occasional appearance of porpoises under the bows; when h_ould cry out at the top of his voice—"Look, look, ye divils! look at th_reat pigs of the sea!"
  • At last, the emigrants began to think, that the ship had played them false;
  • and that she was bound for the East Indies, or some other remote place; an_ne night, Jackson set a report going among them, that Riga purposed takin_hem to Barbary, and selling them all for slaves; but though some of the ol_omen almost believed it, and a great weeping ensued among the children, ye_he men knew better than to believe such a ridiculous tale.
  • Of all the emigrants, my Italian boy Carlo, seemed most at his ease. He woul_ie all day in a dreamy mood, sunning himself in the long boat, and gazing ou_n the sea. At night, he would bring up his organ, and play for several hours;
  • much to the delight of his fellow voyagers, who blessed him and his orga_gain and again; and paid him for his music by furnishing him his meals.
  • Sometimes, the steward would come forward, when it happened to be very much o_ moonlight, with a message from the cabin, for Carlo to repair to th_uarterdeck, and entertain the gentlemen and ladies.
  • There was a fiddler on board, as will presently be seen; and sometimes, b_rgent entreaties, he was induced to unite his music with Carlo's, for th_enefit of the cabin occupants; but this was only twice or thrice: for thi_iddler deemed himself considerably elevated above the other steerage-
  • passengers; and did not much fancy the idea of fiddling to strangers; and thu_ear out his elbow, while persons, entirely unknown to him, and in whos_elfare he felt not the slightest interest, were curveting about in famou_igh spirits. So for the most part, the gentlemen and ladies were fain t_ance as well as they could to my little Italian's organ.
  • It was the most accommodating organ in the world; for it could play any tun_hat was called for; Carlo pulling in and out the ivory knobs at one side, an_o manufacturing melody at pleasure.
  • True, some censorious gentlemen cabin-passengers protested, that such or suc_n air, was not precisely according to Handel or Mozart; and some ladles, who_ overheard talking about throwing their nosegays to Malibran at Coven_arden, assured the attentive Captain Riga, that Carlo's organ was a mos_retched affair, and made a horrible din.
  • "Yes, ladies," said the captain, bowing, "by your leave, I think Carlo's orga_ust have lost its mother, for it squeals like a pig running after its dam."
  • Harry was incensed at these criticisms; and yet these cabin-people were al_eady enough to dance to poor Carlo's music.
  • "Carlo"—said I, one night, as he was marching forward from the quarter-deck,
  • after one of these sea-quadrilles, which took place during my watch o_eck:—"Carlo"—said I, "what do the gentlemen and ladies give you for playing?"
  • "Look!"—and he showed me three copper medals of Britannia and her shield—thre_nglish pennies.
  • Now, whenever we discover a dislike in us, toward any one, we should ever be _ittle suspicious of ourselves. It may be, therefore, that the natura_ntipathy with which almost all seamen and steerage-passengers, regard th_nmates of the cabin, was one cause at least, of my not feeling ver_haritably disposed toward them, myself.
  • Yes: that might have been; but nevertheless, I will let nature have her ow_ay for once; and here declare roundly, that, however it was, I cherished _eeling toward these cabin-passengers, akin to contempt. Not because the_appened to be cabin-passengers: not at all: but only because they seemed th_ost finical, miserly, mean men and women, that ever stepped over th_tlantic.
  • One of them was an old fellow in a robust looking coat, with broad skirts; h_ad a nose like a bottle of port-wine; and would stand for a whole hour, wit_is legs straddling apart, and his hands deep down in his breeches pockets, a_f he had two mints at work there, coining guineas. He was an abominabl_ooking old fellow, with cold, fat, jelly-like eyes; and avarice,
  • heartlessness, and sensuality stamped all over him. He seemed all the tim_oing through some process of mental arithmetic; doing sums with dollars an_ents: his very mouth, wrinkled and drawn up at the corners, looked like _urse. When he dies, his skull ought to be turned into a savings box, with th_ill-hole between his teeth.
  • Another of the cabin inmates, was a middle-aged Londoner, in a comica_ockney-cut coat, with a pair of semicircular tails: so that he looked as i_e were sitting in a swing. He wore a spotted neckerchief; a short, little,
  • fiery-red vest; and striped pants, very thin in the calf, but very full abou_he waist. There was nothing describable about him but his dress; for he ha_uch a meaningless face, I can not remember it; though I have a vagu_mpression, that it looked at the time, as if its owner was laboring under th_umps.
  • Then there were two or three buckish looking young fellows, among the rest;
  • who were all the time playing at cards on the poop, under the lee of th_spanker;_ or smoking cigars on the taffrail; or sat quizzing the emigran_omen with opera-glasses, leveled through the windows of the upper cabin.
  • These sparks frequently called for the steward to help them to brandy an_ater, and talked about going on to Washington, to see Niagara Falls.
  • There was also an old gentleman, who had brought with him three or four heav_iles of the _London Times,_ and other papers; and he spent all his hours i_eading them, on the shady side of the deck, with one leg crossed over th_ther; and without crossed legs, he never read at all. That was indispensabl_o the proper understanding of what he studied. He growled terribly, whe_isturbed by the sailors, who now and then were obliged to move him to get a_he ropes.
  • As for the ladies, I have nothing to say concerning them; for ladies are lik_reeds; if you can not speak well of them, say nothing.