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No. II. p. 67.
JOURNAL OF A VOYAGE FROM LONDON TO PHILADELPHIA.
Journal of Occurrences in my Voyage to Philadelphia on board the Berkshire, Henry Clark, Master, from London.
Friday, July 22d, 1726.-Yesterday in the afternoon we left London, and came to an anchor off Gravesend about eleven at night. I lay ashore all night, and this morning took a walk up to the Windmill Hill, whence I had an agreeable prospect of the country for about twenty miles round, and two or three reaches of the river, with ships and boats sailing both up and down, and Tilbury Fort on the other side, which commands the river and passage to London. This Gravesend is a cursed biting place; the chief dependence of the people being the advantage they make of imposing upon strangers. If you buy any thing of them, and give half what they ask, you pay twice as much as the thing is worth. Thank God, we shall leave it to-morrow.
Saturday, July 23d.—This day we weighed anchor and fell down with the tide, there being little or no wind. In the afternoon we had a fresh gale, that brought us down to Margate, where we shall lie at anchor this night. Most of the passengers are very sick. Saw several porpoises, &c.
Sunday, July 24th. This morning we weighed anchor, and coming to the Downs, we set our pilot ashore at Deal, and passed through. And now, whilst I write this, sitting upon the quarterdeck, I have, methinks, one of the pleasantest scenes in the world before me. "T is a fine, clear day, and we are going away before the wind with an easy, pleasant gale. We have near fifteen sail of ships in sight, and I may say in company. On the left hand appears the coast of France at a distance, and on the right is the town and castle of Dover, with the green hills and chalky cliffs of England, to which we must now bid farewell. Albion, farewell!
Monday, July 25th. All the morning calm. After noon sprung up a gale at east; blew very hard all night. Saw the Isle of Wight at a distance.
Tuesday, July 26th.-Contrary winds all day, blowing pretty hard. Saw the Isle of Wight again in the evening.
Wednesday, July 27th. This morning, the wind blowing very hard at west, we stood in for the land, in order to make some harbour. About noon we took on board a pilot out of a fishing shallop, who brought the ship into Spithead, off Portsmouth. The captain, Mr. Denham, and myself went on shore, and, during the little time we stayed, I made some observations on the place.
Portsmouth has a fine harbour. The entrance is so narrow, that you may throw a stone from fort to fort; yet it is near ten fathom deep, and bold close to; but within there is room enough for five hundred, or, for aught I know, a thousand sail of ships. The town is strongly fortified, being encompassed with a high wall and a deep and broad ditch, and two gates, that are entered over drawbridges; besides several forts, batteries of large cannon, and other outworks, the names of which I know not, nor had I time to take so strict a view as to be able to describe them. In war time, the town has a garrison of ten thousand men; but at present it is only manned by about one hundred invalids. Notwithstanding the English have so many fleets of men-of-war at sea at this time, I counted in this harbour above thirty sail of second, third, and fourth rates, that lay by unrigged, but easily fitted out upon occasion, all their masts and rigging lying marked and numbered in storehouses at hand. The King's yards and docks employ abundance of men, who, even in peace time, are constantly building and refitting men-of-war for the King's service.
Gosport lies opposite to Portsmouth, and is near as big, if not bigger; but, except the fort at the mouth of the harbour, and a small outwork before the main street of the town, it is only defended by a mud wall, which surrounds it, and a trench or dry ditch of about ten feet depth and breadth. Portsmouth is a place of very little trade in peace time; it depending chiefly on fitting out men-of-war. Spithead is the place where the fleet commonly anchor, and is a very good riding-place. The people of Portsmouth tell strange stories of the severity of one Gibson, who was governor of this place in the Queen's time, to his soldiers, and show you a miserable dungeon by the town gate, which they call Johnny Gibson's Hole, where, for trifling misdemeanors, he used to confine his soldiers till they were almost starved to death. It is a common maxim, that, without severe discipline, it is impossible to govern the licentious rabble of soldiery. I own, indeed, that, if a commander finds he has not those qualities in him that
* One gone to the Baltic, one to the Mediterranean, and one to the West Indies.
will make him beloved by his people, he ought, by all means, to make use of such methods as will make them fear him, since one or the other (or both) is absolutely necessary; but Alexander and Cæsar, those renowned generals, received more faithful service, and performed greater actions, by means of the love their soldiers bore them, than they could possibly have done, if, instead of being beloved and respected, they had been hated and feared by those they commanded.
Thursday, July 28th. This morning we came on board, having lain on shore all night. We weighed anchor, and, with a moderate gale, stood in for Cowes, in the Isle of Wight, and came to an anchor before the town about eleven o'clock. Six of the passengers went on shore, and diverted themselves till about twelve at night; and then got a boat, and came on board again, expecting to sail early in the morning.
Friday, July 29th. But, the wind continuing adverse still, we went ashore again this morning, and took a walk to Newport, which is about four miles distant from Cowes, and is the metropolis of the island. Thence we walked to Carisbrooke, about a mile further, out of curiosity to see that castle, which King Charles the First was confined in; and so returned to Cowes in the afternoon, and went on board in expectation of sailing.
Cowes is but a small town, and lies close to the seaside, pretty near opposite to Southampton on the main shore of England. It is divided into two parts by a small river that runs up within a quarter of a mile of Newport, and is distinguished by East and West Cowes. There is a fort built in an oval form, on which there are eight or ten guns mounted for the defence of the road. They have a post-office, a custom-house, and a chapel of ease; and a good harbour for ships to ride in, in easterly and westerly winds.
All this afternoon I spent agreeably enough at the draft-board. It is a game I much delight in; but it requires a clear head, and undisturbed; and the persons playing, if they would play well, ought not much to regard the consequence of the game, for that diverts and withdraws the attention of the mind from the game itself, and makes the player liable to make many false open moves; and I will venture to lay it down for an infallible rule, that, if two persons equal in judgment play for a considerable sum, he that loves money most shall lose; his anxiety for the success of the game confounds him. Courage is almost as requisite for the good conduct of this game as in a real battle; for, if the player imag
ines himself opposed by one that is much his superior in skill, his mind is so intent on the defensive part, that an advantage passes unobserved.
Newport makes a pretty prospect enough from the hills that surround it; for it lies down in a bottom. The houses are beautifully intermixed with trees, and a tall, old-fashioned steeple rises in the midst of the town, which is very ornamental to it. The name of the church I could not learn; but there is a very neat markethouse, paved with square stone, and consisting of eleven arches. There are several pretty handsome streets, and many well-built houses and shops, well stored with goods. But I think Newport is chiefly remarkable for oysters, which they send to London and other places, where they are very much esteemed, being thought the best in England. The oyster-merchants fetch them, as I am informed, from other places, and lay them upon certain beds in the river (the water of which is it seems excellently adapted for that purpose) a-fattening; and when they have lain a suitable time they are taken up again, and made fit for sale.
When we came to Carisbrooke, which, as I said before, is a little village about a mile beyond Newport, we took a view of an ancient church that had formerly been a priory in Romish times, and is the first church, or the mother-church, of the island. It is an elegant building, after the old Gothic manner, with a very high tower, and looks very venerable in its ruins. There are several ancient monuments about it; but the stone of which they are composed is of such a soft, crumbling nature, that the inscriptions are none of them legible. Of the same stone are almost all the tombstones, &c., that I observed in the island.
From this church, having crossed over the brook that gives the name to the village, and got a little boy for a guide, we went up a very steep hill, through several narrow lanes and avenues, till we came to the castle gate. We entered over the ditch (which is now almost filled up, partly by the ruins of the mouldering walls that have tumbled into it, and partly by the washing down of the earth from the hill by the rains,) upon a couple of brick arches, where I suppose formerly there was a drawbridge. An old woman who lives in the castle, seeing us strangers walk about, sent and offered to show us the rooms if we pleased, which we accepted. This castle, as she informed us, has for many years been the seat of the governors of the island; and the rooms and hall, which are very large and handsome, with high, arched roofs, have all along been kept handsomely furnished, every succeeding governor buying the
furniture of his predecessor; but, Cadogan, the last governor, who succeeded General Webb, refusing to purchase it, Webb stripped it clear of all, even the hangings, and left nothing but bare walls. The floors are several of them of plaster of Paris, the art of making which, the woman told us, was now lost.
The castle stands upon a very high and steep hill, and there are the remains of a deep ditch round it; the walls are thick, and seemingly well contrived; and certainly it has been a very strong hold in its time, at least before the invention of great guns. There are several breaches in the ruinous walls, which are never repaired, (I suppose they are purposely neglected,) and the ruins are almost everywhere overspread with ivy. It is divided into the lower and the upper castle, the lower enclosing the upper, which is of a round form, and stands upon a promontory, to which you must ascend by near a hundred stone steps; this upper castle was designed for a retreat in case the lower castle should be won, and is the least ruinous of any part except the stairs before mentioned, which are so broken and decayed, that I was almost afraid to come down again when I was up, they being but narrow, and no rails to hold by.
From the battlements of this upper castle, which they call the coop, you have a fine prospect of the greatest part of the island, of the sea on one side, of Cowes road at a distance, and of Newport as it were just below you. There is a well in the middle of the coop, which they called the bottomless well, because of its great depth; but it is now half filled up with stones and rubbish, and is covered with two or three loose planks; yet a stone, as we tried, is near a quarter of a minute in falling before you hear it strike. But the well that supplies the inhabitants at present with water is in the lower castle, and is thirty fathoms deep. They draw their water with a great wheel, and with a bucket that holds near a barrel. It makes a great sound if you speak in it, and echoed the flute which we played over it very sweetly. There are but seven pieces of ordnance mounted upon the walls, and those in no very good order; and the old man, who is the gunner and keeper of the castle, and who sells ale in a little house at the gate, has in his possession but six muskets, which hang up at his wall, and one of them wants a lock. He told us that the castle, which had now been built 1203 years, was first founded by one Whitgert, a Saxon, who conquered the island, and that it was called Whitgertsburg for many ages.
That particular piece of building, which King Charles lodged in during his confinement here, is suffered to go entirely to ruin, there