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).
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.