I have made some mention of the "galley," or great stove for the steerag_assengers, which was planted over the main hatches.
During the outward-bound passage, there were so few occupants of the steerage,
that they had abundant room to do their cooking at this galley. But it wa_therwise now; for we had four or five hundred in the steerage; and all thei_ooking was to be done by one fire; a pretty large one, to be sure, but,
nevertheless, small enough, considering the number to be accommodated, and th_act that the fire was only to be kindled at certain hours.
For the emigrants in these ships are under a sort of martial-law; and in al_heir affairs are regulated by the despotic ordinances of the captain. An_hough it is evident, that to a certain extent this is necessary, and eve_ndispensable; yet, as at sea no appeal lies beyond the captain, he too ofte_akes unscrupulous use of his power. And as for going to law with him at th_nd of the voyage, you might as well go to law with the Czar of Russia.
At making the fire, the emigrants take turns; as it is often very disagreeabl_ork, owing to the pitching of the ship, and the heaving of the spray over th_ncovered "galley." Whenever I had the morning watch, from four to eight, _as sure to see some poor fellow crawling up from below about daybreak, and g_o groping over the deck after bits of rope-yarn, or tarred canvas, fo_indling-stuff. And no sooner would the fire be fairly made, than up came th_ld women, and men, and children; each armed with an iron pot or saucepan; an_nvariably a great tumult ensued, as to whose turn to cook came next;
sometimes the more quarrelsome would fight, and upset each other's pots an_ans.
Once, an English lad came up with a little coffee-pot, which he managed t_rowd in between two pans. This done, he went below. Soon after a grea_trapping Irishman, in knee-breeches and bare calves, made his appearance; an_ying the row of things on the fire, asked whose coffee-pot that was; upo_eing told, he removed it, and put his own in its place; saying somethin_bout that individual place belonging to him; and with that, he turned aside.
Not long after, the boy came along again; and seeing his pot removed, made _iolent exclamation, and replaced it; which the Irishman no sooner perceived,
than he rushed at him, with his fists doubled. The boy snatched up the boilin_offee, and spirted its contents all about the fellow's bare legs; whic_ncontinently began to dance involuntary hornpipes and fandangoes, as _reliminary to giving chase to the boy, who by this time, however, ha_ecamped.
Many similar scenes occurred every day; nor did a single day pass, but score_f the poor people got no chance whatever to do their cooking.
This was bad enough; but it was a still more miserable thing, to see thes_oor emigrants wrangling and fighting together for the want of the mos_rdinary accommodations. But thus it is, that the very hardships to which suc_eings are subjected, instead of uniting them, only tends, by imbitterin_heir tempers, to set them against each other; and thus they themselves driv_he strongest rivet into the chain, by which their social superiors hold the_ubject.
It was with a most reluctant hand, that every evening in the second dog-watch,
at the mate's command, I would march up to the fire, and giving notice to th_ssembled crowd, that the time was come to extinguish it, would dash it ou_ith my bucket of salt water; though many, who had long waited for a chance t_ook, had now to go away disappointed.
The staple food of the Irish emigrants was oatmeal and water, boiled into wha_s sometimes called _mush;_ by the Dutch is known as _supaan;_ by sailor_burgoo;_ by the New Englanders _hasty-pudding;_ in which hasty-pudding, b_he way, the poet Barlow found the materials for a sort of epic.
Some of the steerage passengers, however, were provided with sea-biscuit, an_ther perennial food, that was eatable all the year round, fire or no fire.
There were several, moreover, who seemed better to do in the world than th_est; who were well furnished with hams, cheese, Bologna sausages, Dutc_errings, alewives, and other delicacies adapted to the contingencies of _oyager in the steerage.
There was a little old Englishman on board, who had been a grocer ashore,
whose greasy trunks seemed all pantries; and he was constantly using himsel_or a cupboard, by transferring their contents into his own interior. He was _ittle light of head, I always thought. He particularly doated on his lon_trings of sausages; and would sometimes take them out, and play with them,
wreathing them round him, like an Indian juggler with charmed snakes. Wha_ith this diversion, and eating his cheese, and helping himself from a_nexhaustible junk bottle, and smoking his pipe, and meditating, this crack-
pated grocer made time jog along with him at a tolerably easy pace.
But by far the most considerable man in the steerage, in point of pecuniar_ircumstances at least, was a slender little pale-faced English tailor, who i_eemed had engaged a passage for himself and wife in some imaginary section o_he ship, called the _second cabin,_ which was feigned to combine the comfort_f the first cabin with the cheapness of the steerage. But it turned out tha_his second cabin was comprised in the after part of the steerage itself, wit_othing intervening but a name. So to his no small disgust, he found himsel_erding with the rabble; and his complaints to the captain were unheeded.
This luckless tailor was tormented the whole voyage by his wife, who was youn_nd handsome; just such a beauty as farmers'-boys fall in love with; she ha_right eyes, and red cheeks, and looked plump and happy.
She was a sad coquette; and did not turn away, as she was bound to do, fro_he dandy glances of the cabin bucks, who ogled her through their double-
barreled opera glasses. This enraged the tailor past telling; he woul_emonstrate with his wife, and scold her; and lay his matrimonial command_pon her, to go below instantly, out of sight. But the lady was not to b_yrannized over; and so she told him. Meantime, the bucks would be stil_raming her in their lenses, mightily enjoying the fun. The last resources o_he poor tailor would be, to start up, and make a dash at the rogues, wit_lenched fists; but upon getting as far as the mainmast, the mate would accos_im from over the rope that divided them, and beg leave to communicate th_act, that he could come no further. This unfortunate tailor was also _iddler; and when fairly baited into desperation, would rush for hi_nstrument, and try to get rid of his wrath by playing the most savage,
remorseless airs he could think of.
While thus employed, perhaps his wife would accost him—
"Billy, my dear;" and lay her soft hand on his shoulder.
But Billy, he only fiddled harder.
"Billy, my love!"
The bow went faster and faster.
"Come, now, Billy, my dear little fellow, let's make it all up;" and she ben_ver his knees, looking bewitchingly up at him, with her irresistible eyes.
Down went fiddle and bow; and the couple would sit together for an hour o_wo, as pleasant and affectionate as possible.
But the next day, the chances were, that the old feud would be renewed, whic_as certain to be the case at the first glimpse of an opera-glass from th_abin.