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The Vault at PfaffsAn Archive of Art and Literature by the Bohemians of Antebellum New York
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Text for Page 082 [12-10-1862]

              75
                  Voyage of the North Star.

[newspaper clipping continued: first column]
portion of the future Provisional Government of
rebellious Dixie.  With which slight notice of the
personnel of our expedition, I shall pass to other
and perhaps less interesting subjects.
  Everybody has heard, read of, or experienced the
early discomforts of a sea voyage.  Then everything
is confusion; minds, stomachs, and tempers are
equally exacerbated; shore-bred humanity betray-
ing a capacity for suffering, complaint, and general
unreasonableness equally lamentable and ludicrous
to contemplate.  That �those who go down to the
sea in ships and whose business lies upon the deep
waters� are tolerant, nay, amiable toward their 
species under these circumstances, is a credit to our
common nature.  Whatever may be their latent
convictions�probably expressed in the sentiment of
Punch�s channel waiter:
	�A man�s a hass as goes to sea;
	    At him I do deride;
	  But woman is a tender flower,
	    And delicate inside;�
�however justified by the provocation, or even be-
sought to, they never do throw a sea-sick passenger
overboard, no more than a badgered head steward
or his unfortunate assistants at a dinner-table, where
everybody wants to be helped first and at once, ever
revenge themselves by putting arsenic in the soup�
a reflection pertinent to my first day�s experience on
board the North Star.  Being incapable of sea-sick-
ness myself, I naturally felt a proportionate moral
elevation over my fellow creatures, prostrated by
that calamity.  It was Charles Lamb who avowed
with beautiful candor that he �hated sick people.�
Well, I can�t say I detested my sea-sick fellow-pas-
sengers; I only knew I was immensely superior to
them�so much so, indeed, that I felt constrained to
help them, of course taking it out in approbative-
ness.
  For the first day and a half things on board the
North Star may be briefly described as chaotic.
The Massachusetts 41st was sea-sick, bodily, in the
fore part of the vessel, while the stomachs of officers
and civilians did �suffer a sea-change� aft.  While
effecting a staggering promenade along the drenched
and gusty deck, in some measure protected from the
driving spray by the canvas guards, one heard dire-
ful sounds proceeding from the innermost recesses
of state-rooms and cabins; waiters tottered hither
and thither bearing the suggestive but necessary
bucket and mop, the grateful cup of half-spilled tea,
the equivocal glass of brandy.  Conversing with a
friend, you are not surprised at his sudden and un-
explained rushing away from you, at his ghastly
reappearance after an interval of more or less
length, with the palest of faces, the wildest of hair,
and a look of such blended horror and reproach at
your cigar as might have beseemed a ghost haunt-
ing its murderer.  You found between decks not at
all savory or attractive.  Meals occurred irregularly,
being, too, rather of the hap-and-scramble order.
There was mild contention as to seats; rights and
localities seemed indefinite.  The ominous boxes on
deck, grimly suggestive of shot, shell, and cartridges,
had not yet been stowed away.  And beaming
through all, with a countenance of the cheeriest
good humor and patience, reducing order to disor-
der, appealed to on every occasion by everybody,
went Capt. McClure, Assistant-Quartermaster.  I
believe he was very sick himself, but I am sure that
he did the work of a hale man, and that in such an
admirable spirit that the fact deserves recognition.
  As we had no convoy, as the North Star is not a

[newspaper clipping continued: second column]
ship of war, and as our jumble of 12-pound brass
howitzers, field pieces and guns for boat service
amidships, would be useless as a means of defense,
in case of attack, of course a mild epidemic broke
out on board of talk about the Alabama.  What if
the famous, or infamous, �290� bore down upon 
us, with the �stars and bars� flying, or the piratical
death�s head and cross bones displayed, compelling
us to strike not belligerently, but at discretion?
Four live United States generals, one of them a
prominent soldier, another a sworn foe of rebellion, 
and future Governor of Texas, these, with the
larger portion of an entire Yankee regiment, and all
sorts of munitious and appurtenances, would be a
prize indeed that Capt. Semmes might be proud of�
not to mention the contingent frustration of the
great Southern expedition.  Accordingly, we rubbed
up our knowledge of the pictorial represen-
tations of the notorious privateer, and when-
ever a distant steamer appeared upon the
horizon, began to discover an alarming resem-
blance to it.  Some of our weaker brethren
accused the Government of criminal recklessness in
risking our valuable safety, by not providing us
with a belligerent escort; others sagely observed
that no doubt Mr. Welles knew what he was about,
and, did he so choose, could accurately specify the
precise locality of the dreaded Rebel craft any day
of the week; while a third, a Britisher, was serenely
confident in that fact that Com. Milne had received
instructions from his Goernment to take the affair
in hand, which must inevitably result in the early
appearance of his vessel at the port of New-York
with the body of the ex-captain of the Sumter sus-
pended at the yard-arm.  He furthermore added su-
perfluously and objectionably that that would prob-
ably reconcile the North and South, and unite them
in a war against England.  By the time that we
were three days out, however, our talk of the Ala-
bama had become a thing of the past.
  Our first day I have already intimated, was chil-
ly and rainy, our second gave promise of moderat-
ing, belied by the extreme cold of the third.  Sub-
sequently we have experienced delighted weather,
growing warmer and warmer every.  On the morn-
ing of the eighth, I issued from my cabin to behold
a spectacle worthy of a better rhythmic description
than the following, which I insert beause I made
it, and because it is tolerably accurate:
	The western wind blows fresh and free,
	The sun in the east shines gloriously
	Over the tumbling, restlessness,
	Which, from the near horizon�s line
	To our vessel�s edge is all ashine
	With paly gold, save where the brine,
	Is marked by shadows from on high,
	From the faint clouds lingering in the sky;
	While everywhere else around is seen,
	White wave tops and the ocean green.
  The afternoon of that day proved absolutely sul-
try, and from thenceforth sunlight, heat and blue
water have predominated.  We are here in Decem-
ber, but it might be the latter end of a Northern
May for anything to the contrary.  The air is subtle,
balmy and delicate, and commends itself sweetly to
our senses.  I do not think our surroundings could
be more delightful.  Only this morning (I have
written myself into two days later than my date) I
saw shoal after shoal of flying-fish exulting in the
brightness and beauty of the day, even as I did.
  Our daily routine aboard is monotonous but agree-
able: We rise about 7, loaf, chat, smoke and break-
fast; smoke, chat, loaf and dine; chat, smoke, loaf               
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