In the midst of the festivities it was announced that Jack was to be married and as was the custom of the time, every man at the table proposed a toast and drank to it. One addressed himself to the eyes of the fortunate young lady. Then her lips, her eyebrows, her neck, her hands, her feet, her disposition and her future husband were each in turn enthusiastically toasted by other guests in bumpers of French wine. He adds that these compliments were “so moist and numerous that they became more and more indistinct, noisy and irrational” and that before they ended “Nearly every one stood up singing his own favorite song. There is a stage of emotion which can only be expressed in noises. That stage had been reached. They put me in mind of David Culver’s bird shop where many song birds—all of a different feather—engage in a kind of tournament, each pouring out his soul with a desperate determination to be heard. It was all very friendly and good natured but it was, also, very wild.”
There were curious events in the voyage of Jack and Solomon. The date of the letter above referred to would indicate that they sailed on or about the eleventh of October, 1773. Their ship was The Snow which had arrived the week before with some fifty Irish servants, indentured for their passage. These latter were, in a sense, slaves placed in bondage to sundry employers by the captain of the ship for a term of years until the sum due to the owners for their transportation had been paid—a sum far too large, it would seem.
Jack was sick for a number of days after the voyage began but Solomon, who was up and about and cheerful in the roughest weather, having spent a part of his youth at sea, took care of his young friend. Jack tells in a letter that he was often awakened in the night by vermin and every morning by the crowing of cocks. Those days a part of every ship was known as “the hen coops” where ducks, geese and chickens were confined. They came in due time through the butcher shop and the galley to the cabin table. The cook was an able, swearing man whose culinary experience had been acquired on a Nantucket whaler. Cooks who could stand up for service every day in a small ship on an angry sea when the galley rattled like a dice box in the hands of a nervous player, were hard to get. Their constitutions were apt to be better than their art. The food was of poor quality, the cooking a tax upon jaw, palate and digestion, the service unclean. When good weather came, by and by, and those who had not tasted food for days began to feel the pangs of hunger the ship was filled with a most passionate lot of pilgrims. It was then that Solomon presented the petition of the passengers to the captain.
“Cap’n, we’re ‘bout wore out with whale meat an’ slobgollion. We’re all down by the head.”