Loss of manuscripts

We had a pleasant run to Macao Roads, with all the usual varieties of
wind and weather. Having a full cargo of furs from the South Seas,
a chop to proceed to Whampoa, the place where foreign ships unlade
and lade their cargoes, was readily obtained. The Chinese regulations
provide for the prompt admission of vessels actually laden with
useful merchandise, but exclude all such as have no cargoes, which
compels vessels that have nothing but ballast and specie to report
their stores as cargo.
I received abundant civilities on my arrival at Canton. A shipmaster,
with a cargo of three or four hundred thousand dollars at his disposal,
is exposed to the most assiduous attentions. Upon this occasion my
thanks were particularly merited by Mr. W. and Mr. C., both of whom
very kindly proffered me all the services in their power for a moderate
commission: but in this, as in other instances, I preferred dealing
directly with the natives, from the belief that they were quite as well
versed in the business of their country as any foreigners could be.
Chien-loo, a native, obtained handsome offers for my cargo very
promptly, and I soon sold the whole of my skins, large and small
together, at two dollars and three quarters each. These, with the
tortoise shell, produced the handsome sum of three hundred and thirty
thousand dollars, clear of charges. I lost no time in selecting a
cargo of teas, nankeens, and silks, and as much china ware as was
necessary for dunnage.
Of the three hundred and thirty thousand dollars, one-third belonged to
my officers and people, payable on their arrival in the United States,
and two-thirds to myself as owner and master. Being rich, I now spent
money freely, and advanced my officers and men as much as they wished
to lay out; and after defraying port charges and other expenses, found
I had a cargo of only three hundred and ten thousand dollars invoice;
but, as the profits on this cargo were all to be my own, I reasonably
calculated that on receiving them, I should be able to pay the balance
due to the crew, and have a clear three hundred thousand dollars.
To make room for this cargo, I stowed the boxes containing the large
bones, and my botanical, geological, mineralogical, zoological,
ornithological, icthyological, conchological, and entomological
specimens, which were very extensive and valuable, in one of the
paddle spaces between the double sides, and, to save a little room
which remained, stowed a cable on top of them.
We touched at Angier Point, in the Island of Java, to fill up
our water, and regale ourselves with the delicious mangusteens,
which are there to be had in great perfection and abundance. That
fruit is considered the most delicate and best flavoured of any on
the external world. Formerly it had given me great satisfaction;
but now, after having enjoyed the exquisite fruits of Symzonia,
it seemed quite insipid.
The day after leaving Angier Point, we were in the open ocean, with
a stiff gale from S. E. driving us rapidly towards our homes, our
wives and children. It is a delightful sensation which the mariner
experiences on clearing port for his homeward passage, after a long
and toilsome voyage. His home, his family, his little prattlers, and
all the delightful associations of a happy fireside, crowd upon his
imagination, which is cleared by long absence of all the asperities
and disagreeables of real life. He flatters himself that he shall
soon fold to his heart the wife of his bosom and the children of his
love, improved in beauty, virtue, and affection; fancies a thousand
enjoyments which the gains of his voyage will enable him to procure,
and forgets the numberless vexations attendant upon business, and
upon the duties of man in civilized society, encumbered with useless
ceremonies and pernicious customs.


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Mr Slim had been confined to his state-room whilst we lay at Whampoa;
and no more intercourse was allowed between our people and their
countrymen, than was necessary to keep up appearances. Our men were
particularly cautioned not to drink grog whilst out of the ship, lest
it should make them too talkative. They kept this injunction tolerably
well for sailors; but one of them had nearly betrayed the whole secret,
after drinking a second can of grog on board a Boston ship, where the
Yankees seemed determined to get it all out of him. Happily one of
his shipmates forced him away, but not until enough had escaped him
to produce an hundred absurd stories amongst the shipping in the river.
Being now at sea, Mr. Slim was permitted to go at large as usual. But
alas! I had melancholy cause to regret this lenity. Having one day
spread my Symzonian manuscripts on the after lockers, to dry away
the mould which, from the humid atmosphere of the external world,
had accumulated on them, I took a walk on the quarter-deck. On
my return to my cabin, I was overwhelmed with consternation and
alarm at the disappearance of my books and papers, which were all
gone except my journal and volumes of extracts and translations. I
immediately summoned the steward, but he could give no account of
them. He had not been in my cabin during my absence. The cabin and
state-room were searched in vain. The manuscripts were gone! A man
who had been working aloft, declared that he saw them going astern
soon after I came on deck; and Will Mackerel, who was asleep in his
birth, was positive that he saw the shadow of Slim passing from the
direction of my cabin towards his state-room. There was great cause
to suspect that Slim had been into my cabin, and thrown them all out
of the windows to gratify his inveterate malice: but there was no
help for it–there was no proof. A monkey, which, out of a foolish
partiality to Jack Whiffle, I had permitted him to bring on board,
and which visited every part of the ship, and was very mischievous,
might have done it. They were irrevocably lost; and though I deplored
them more than I should the loss of the mainmast, I was not without
consolation. I had read most of them attentively, and being favoured
with a very retentive memory, I had treasured up their contents.
After this, I excluded Slim from my cabin, and kept a sharp eye
upon him. Various modes were suggested by my officers and men, to
obviate the difficulty which his refusal to accede to my measures
threatened to produce. That which appeared most feasible, was, to
confine him in irons, carry him home as a madman, and trust to the
effect of his stories about the internal world, for a corroboration
of his insanity. I however did not altogether like to trust to this
manoeuvre, lest some of my people should prove treacherous, and,
by joining their testimony to that of Slim, defeat all my projects.
My mind was suddenly diverted from this subject, which had long weighed
heavily upon it, by the occurrence of real and immediate danger.