Two Years Before the Mast eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 591 pages of information about Two Years Before the Mast.

Such are the people who inhabit a country embracing four or five hundred miles of sea-coast, with several good harbors; with fine forests in the north; the waters filled with fish, and the plains covered with thousands of herds of cattle; blessed with a climate than which there can be no better in the world; free from all manner of diseases, whether epidemic or endemic; and with a soil in which corn yields from seventy to eighty fold.  In the hands of an enterprising people, what a country this might be! we are ready to say.  Yet how long would a people remain so, in such a country?  The Americans (as those from the United States are called) and Englishmen, who are fast filling up the principal towns, and getting the trade into their hands, are indeed more industrious and effective than the Mexicans; yet their children are brought up Mexicans in most respects, and if the ``California fever’’ (laziness) spares the first generation, it is likely to attack the second.


Saturday, July 18th.  This day sailed the Mexican hermaphrodite brig Fazio, for San Blas and Mazatlan.  This was the brig which was driven ashore at San Pedro in a southeaster, and had been lying at San Diego to repair and take in her cargo.  The owner of her had had a good deal of difficulty with the government about the duties, &c., and her sailing had been delayed for several weeks; but everything having been arranged, she got under way with a light breeze, and was floating out of the harbor, when two horsemen came dashing down to the beach at full speed, and tried to find a boat to put off after her; but there being none then at hand, they offered a handful of silver to any Kanaka who would swim off and take a letter on board.  One of the Kanakas, an active, well-made young fellow, instantly threw off everything but his duck trousers, and, putting the letter into his hat, swam off, after the vessel.  Fortunately the wind was very light, and the vessel was going slowly, so that, although she was nearly a mile off when he started, he gained on her rapidly.  He went through the water leaving a wake like a small steamboat.  I certainly never saw such swimming before.  They saw him coming from the deck, but did not heave-to, suspecting the nature of his errand; yet, the wind continuing light, he swam alongside, and got on board, and delivered his letter.  The captain read the letter, told the Kanaka there was no answer, and, giving him a glass of brandy, left him to jump overboard and find the best of his way to the shore.  The Kanaka swam in for the nearest point of land, and in about an hour made his appearance at the hide-house.  He did not seem at all fatigued, had made three or four dollars, got a glass of brandy, and was in high spirits.  The brig kept on her course, and the government officers, who had come down to forbid her sailing, went back, each with something very like a flea in his ear, having depended upon extorting a little more money from the owner.

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Two Years Before the Mast from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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