Sunday, July 28, 2013

12 July 1859

We were accordingly visited next day by his majesty, who, with his suits, came on board as promised. The two stowaways and two of the sailors who had never crossed the line before were brought before him one by one, and examined as to the place of their nativity etc. Whenever they attempted to speak a brush with tar on it was shoved into their mouths. They were then shaved by his barber with a piece of rough iron hoop, physicked by his surgeon, and at last soused oeverhead in a tub of water, after which they were pronounced true sons of Neptune. One or two of the passengers, desirous of acting a part in such a distinguished drama, went voluntarily forward and submitted to be tarred, shaved etc. The whole affair was certainly very ludicrous, and reminded be much of a scene in the pantomime.
Our Voyage to New Zealand Per the Tornado (by a Glasgow Emigrant) Glasgow Herald December 19, 1859

July 12. Preparations for Neptune’s visit (for the account of the ceremony which caused a good deal of fun and amusement see my diary).
Campbell, Alexander. Letters and papers, 1859 - 1870. Auckland War Memorial Museum Library. MS 50

12th. Making only moderate progress. Still fine weather though perhaps not the most healthy but we expect a change soon. A custom is kept by some seamen of shaving those of the crew who have not passed the line before. It commenced nearly as follows. One of the sailors was drafted to represent what is superstitiously called Neptune the god of the seas. A tar tub is set on fire and put overboard to represent Neptune’s ship. The Neptune comes on board with his wife, doctor, barber and staff of men. They parade the ship headed with mud and at some fixed place the shaving stand is fixed. A seat is placed by the doctor. Medicine is prescribed then he is soaped well with grease and tar and then scraped with a hoop iron razor. His seat is next taken from under him and he falls backwards into the water and after a few ducks overheard they call him finished. A dinner was given to the sailors and paid for by a voluntary subscription amongst the passengers in which sout fie pounds was raised. See what zeal manifested by these sons of Belial to maintain a silly useless and expensive custom which is ever pregnant with (..illegible) results both of a moral and spiritual character.
Booth, Thomas. Papers, 1857 - 1859. Auckland War Memorial Museum Library. MS 2002/56.

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