(2) Rates of passage, accommodations, and customs on board ship [[17-27]]
[] It is usual to enquire of the commanders their probable number of passengers, and to ascertain the dates at which their ships are, according to the arrangements made at the India House, to be despatched. Very serious complaints have been made against the uncertainty of final departure by the private India ships. The additional expense to their passengers, besides other disappointments, has been so great, that the evil will speedily produce its own remedy by becoming insufferable. The experience of a season or two will alone induce the owners and captains in this line of business to commence effectual improvements, on private and public grounds.
The pursers are commonly employed to adjust the rates of passage, and to dispose of cabins intended for the accommodation of passengers. Matters being settled, it is necessary to apply to the secretary for an order to be received on board the vessel in question. This order, [as] soon as obtained, is delivered to the commander, or to his purser. The secretary likewise furnishes every Company's servant with a certificate of his appointment; and to each free-mariner, &c., he gives a licence to proceed to India. These papers must be carefully preserved, and are therefore best consigned to the keeping of the purser, for delivery at the office of the secretary under that presidency to which the party may be destined. When certificates have been lost, much difficulty has arisen, and all the parties have been obliged to depose to that effect on oath.
Those who are about to embark will do well to cultivate an acquaintance with the respective commanders, and, when practicable, with their intended shipmates. Experience fully proves that civility rarely fails to be beneficial. It is reasonable to conclude that previous acquaintance must engender some good will. The captains navigating under the auspices of the India Company [] are men who have seen much of the world, and they rarely fail justly to appreciate marks of attention and respect which flow voluntarily from persons with whom they have dealings.
On the other hand, it must be rather uncomfortable to go on
ship where all are total strangers; or at the best, where perhaps the
alone, and that with some hesitation and difficulty, acknowledges ever
to have seen your face. Common sense points out that such a state of
is both impolitic and uncomfortable.
When suspended, it should be lengthwise; so that as the ship rolls, or lays down on either side, the cot should swing even. If hung athwart-ships, unless the cabin be very broad it will be perpetually knocking against the bulk-head (or partition), and [] the ship's side. Hence it is advisable, wherever the space admits, to make a standing bed-place fore and aft, furnished with rails, to keep the occupant from rolling out. Else, if it be made athwart-ships, and the vessel be working against an adverse wind, he must, whenever the ship goes about, change the position of his pillow, from head to foot, alternately.
In peaceable times, cabins are ordinarily constructed of wooden partitions, and have a door, with lock, &c., very complete; but during war-time, they are usually made of canvas, fixed to the beams above, and rolling up thereto, whenever the vessel may be cleared for action. Some cabins include a port-hole, which in large ships is peculiarly comfortable; especially under the Line, when a current of air is invaluable. In bad weather, however, when the port is shut, cabins that have only skuttles [="small hatchways"], about one-fourth the size of a port-hole, become preferable; especially if provided with glass shutters; which, if not previously attached, can be made at any time by the ship's carpenter.
The skuttles, usually placed at intervals between the ports, being higher up in the side of the vessel, and nearer to the deck above the cabin, are well calculated for allowing the escape of rarefied air, which would float above the level of a port-hole. When a cabin is built so as to include a port, the gun appertainnig to it is commonly sent forward, and lashed up to the ship's side, the muzzle pointing forward; but on emergency, the cabin is knocked down, and the gun is run into its place. Hence, each kind of cabin has its advantages and disadvantages.
The right side of the ship, from stem to stern, is called the starboard, and the left the larboard. The line on which the masts stand, i.e. straight over the keel, divides them. The starboard, in most modes of applying the [] term, implies superiority over the larboard. Thus, the chief mate has his cabin usually about 12 or 14 feet long, by 10 or 12 in breadth, next to the great cabin, on the starboard side of the gun-deck. The second mate has one rather smaller, on the opposite, or larboard, side. Then again, the third mate on the starboard side, immediately before the chief mate's. Next before him is the fourth-mate; while the surgeon and purser usually have their cabins on the larboard side, next before the second mate's.
What is called the "great cabin," is a slip taken off across the stern of a ship, on the gun-deck, about 14 feet deep, leaving a passage on the larboard side for passengers and officers to have access to the quarter-gallery, or privy, on that quarter. The great-cabin, including all the stern windows, is extremely light and airy; but its situation rather disadvantageous to those troubled with habitual sea-sickness. The bows and stern partake, in an accumulated ratio, of the ship's motion as she pitches; that is, as she rises and sinks, alternately, at the head and stern. Thus, the centre of every vessel is the part least subject to agitation.
The captain occupies, in general, a cabin called the "state-room," situated under the fore part of the poop, on the starboard side, with a glass door towards the quarterdeck. Its dimensions, as well as those of all the cabins already described, vary according to the ship's tonnage, but may be taken at about 15 or 16 feet square. The space including it, and the larboard side under the same parallel, is called "the cuddy" (from the Persian kudu, a room, or house). All behind is designated "the roundhouse," and has a row of glass windows in the stern part, with two doors opening into "the stern-gallery."
A flight of steps, rather confined, serves a communication, by [] means of the starboard quarter-gallery, with the great cabin. These steps, under which is a water-closet, are particularly convenient to ladies, who usually have the starboard side of the great-cabin allotted to their accommodation. When the passengers are very numerous, especially when many families are on board, the roundhouse is partitioned off into three or more cabins; the larboard quarter-gallery, on the upper deck, having also a water-closet. In such case, the dinner table is laid in the cuddy, instead of the round-house; but as it is rarely spacious enough to allow the whole to sit down at the same time, the company are commonly divided into two parties, succeeding each other every day alternately.
The sums paid for cabins entirely depend upon the demand,
the ship's destination, and the circumstances of the person selling his
accommodations. The several portions of the round-house and great
both of which are considered as the captain's property, of course are
for in proportion to their respective dimensions. It may, however, be
as some guide that outward bound, a slip, including one window, may
from £200 to £300; and that the several mates' cabins may
averaged at from £3 to £5 for every square foot of the
During the day time, it is [] commonly taken down, and disposed of in some part where it may, so far as the means allow, be out of the way. The best mode is to trice it up between the beams that support the superior deck. In this kind of bed, the cot always preserving its level, the motion of the ship is scarcely felt, unless when she is acted upon by a very short, broken sea.
Hence, those who are much troubled with sea-sickness should always provide a swinging cot; taking care to hang it in such a place as may preclude the danger of its being bumped against the ship's sides or the bulk-head (a boarded partition), than which nothing can be more unpleasant. In very bad weather, when the ship has rolled many streaks of her deck under water, the frame of a cot has been forcibly dashed against the beams. At such times, should the width of the space admit, it is proper to lengthen the nettles to their utmost, and thus the inconvenience may generally be avoided.
A standing bed-place is convenient, as obviating the necessity for removing in the morning, and affixing at night. Thus the bed-furniture is greatly preserved from injury by filth and vermin; while its occupant can "turn in" when he pleases, with the satisfaction of knowing that his trunk, by being under him, is secured from damage as well as depredation; whereas persons who sleep in cots often experience considerable inconvenience in these particulars.
Those who have fixed bed-places in the larboard division of the great-cabin are by far more privately, and more comfortably, situated than such as have them in the steerage, ranging along the bulk-head of the chief mate's cabin. In either case, there are always two tiers, or ranges, of bed-places, one above the other. The lower are certainly most convenient.
As priority of embarkation, or at least of adjustment, gives a right to selection, it is advisable to visit the ship [] [as] soon as an order for being taken on board is obtained; when a choice should be made of the situation for a bed-place. Those of the lower tier, nearest the stern windows in the great-cabin, are to be preferred, as more airy and light. The latter circumstance will be important to those who are studious, and partial to reading in bed, which on board ship is considered as a favourite recreation.
In bargaining with the captain, or his purser, it is proper to be very exact in stipulating for a berth in the great-cabin, and to notice the conveniences to be afforded, in the body of the receipt given for the passage money. This caveat does not in itself lead to the suspicion of intentional deceptions; but, in the hurry of business of considerable importance, such lesser items will occasionally slip the memory, giving birth to disagreements not only attended with future distrust, but perhaps beyond the possibility of remedy.
It should, however, be considered that a bed place in the
generally fitted up for eight, or at the utmost for twelve, will be
somewhat higher than one in the steerage; the latter being an open
totally devoid of privacy; exposed to violent currents of air, not
of the sweetest odour, and subject to many obvious inconveniences.
When, from the scarcity of hands on board, such an aid cannot
a douceur to any of the officer's servants, with their master's
approbation; will serve every purpose, with the probable advantage of
attended by one perfectly conversant with ship affairs, and possessing
some influence with the captain's steward. With him all prudent
will keep on good terms; as he is no small man in his way, and has the
power to afford many conveniences. These, in the estimation of people
shore, may appear insignificant, but are of considerable value to those
unaccustomed to a sea-life, who are cooped up for months within such
It is customary, whenever a person ascends from the gun-deck to the quarter-deck, or goes upon it from the cuddy, &c., to touch his hat, even though no one should appear there. A breach of this rule would be considered as grossly insulting, and might cause a rebuke by no means pleasant to the feelings, or adding to the credit, of a gentleman. When it is considered with what a high hand officers of ships are obliged to uphold their authority, over a numerous crew composed of all nations, and often including the most hardened and [] daring culprits, one cannot but applaud every practice tending to preserve order, regularity, politeness, and decorum.
The hour for breakfast is, generally, eight; for dinner, two; for tea, six; and for supper, nine. The first is announced by the great bell on the fore-cast which always rings a sonorous peal when the watch, or guard, is to be relieved. Tea-time is known by same signal. As the dinner hour does not correspond with the relief of the watch, it is usual to warn the passengers and officers by beat of drum: the tune of "Roast-beef" being daily heard, though it rarely leads to a participation of that viand whence its designation is derived. Very little notice is required to call together those who are disposed to partake of supper.
For the most part, the company amuse themselves with cards,
during the evenings; or, when the weather admits, they walk the
observing to keep on [=off?] the windward side, which is held to be
for the captain, the three senior mates, the purser, the surgeon, and
passengers who board at the captain's table.
As much fresh meat as possible being taken on board at the time of sailing, some joints of good beef and mutton may be served up for the first week; after which corned (or slightly salted) meat comes into use. An ample supply of poultry of all descriptions, fed in coops on the poop, and a small flock of sheep, perhaps from twenty-five [] to forty in number, maintained there on hay, &c., enable the captain, for the most part, to exhibit fresh meat, of some sort, every day. This, added to abundance of prime beef and pork salted for his use, together with tongues, pickles, sauces of all kinds, potatoes, rice, pastry, olives, &c. &c., form a tout ensemble where even the most dainty may find something acceptable to the palate.
It cannot be supposed that wine is so freely dispensed as when on shore. The ladies, however, are generally supplied with as much as they may require during the repast. After the cloth is removed, the bottle is put round two or three times, according to the liberality of the commander. The last tour it makes being accompanied with "good afternoon," serves as a hint for the gentlemen to withdraw, till the hour for tea; when, as already observed, they frequently amuse themselves till supper is ready.
This last meal is little more than a matter of form; it consists chiefly of cheese and biscuits, rasped beef, sago-soup, [and] lobs kous, which is a curious medley of various ingredients, forming something midway between water-gruel and peas-soup. One tour of the bottle, attended with "good night," closes the operations of the day.
When one or two unruly youths happen to be passengers, they are too prone to disregard the usual signal for retreat, without having an extra glass or two, often from a false notion that such pertinacity is a sign of manly conduct, but sometimes from the grovelling idea of taking their pennyworth out of the captain, if the notion is once put into their heads by any evil spirit in the vessel that they are on board a floating hotel, and may use their freedom with the commander as a personage merely on a level with "mine host of the garter," bound to provide as much as [] can be eaten or drunk at a protracted meal, the bill of fare having previousloy been discharged in advance.
Nothing can be more delusive or unjust than such sentiments, and their adoption commonly terminates in partial or general discord. This, idlers, gourmands, and sots, will naturally foment, to gratify, if practicable, their own inordinate desires, from the beginning to the end of the voyage, however ruinous too such hospitality might prove to the health and morality of such guests, or to the pocket of their purveyor, who certainly had no idea of triflers constantly keeping their grinders going, and their throats wet, from a lack of every other employment.
From the hour of a young man's embarkation, his future name, at his destined port, is in great measure begun, and he becomes a sound character or a black sheep, from the ordinary hue of his behaviour en passant by sea to the establishment, on which he must soon commence the career of active life with a good or bad name, according to his deserts since his departure from home.
This consideration alone is enough to put every rational adventurer to the East completely on his guard against furnishing the master of any vessel with a fair occasion for branding him with an indelible stigma of intemperance, subordination, gambling, or any other vicious propensity, when interrogated respecting the prominent disposition of his juvenile passengers, by competent authority, parties most interested in bearing the truth. This report will pave the way for free admission to genteel society, or consign a new-comer to Coventry at once, in a country where everybody is immediately recognised under their genuine colours, whatever these may be, and treated accordingly.