Tuesday, July 30, 2013

18 July 1859

18. Very wet and stormy. One of the passengers died today; his body was enclosed in a coffin, and a quantity of iron etc along with it to make it sink. The parson read the funeral service, and when he came to the words "and commit his body to the deep," the coffin was slid down a couple of planks into the sea, when, horrible to relate, the coffin broke, and the body became quite visible, and parted from the coffin. There was a heavy sea running, and the ship rushed on, leaving part of the coffin and the corpse swimming on the surface.
Our Voyage to New Zealand Per the Tornado (by a Glasgow Emigrant) Glasgow Herald December 19, 1859

July 18th. A dull morning after a rough night. The sea rolls heavy and the wind blowing so strong that we could not have much sail out. At breakfast time it was better for about an hour and then we had it as bad as ever with slight intermissions through the day. It is said that these are land squalls and that we should have better weather if we were more out to sea. It is rumored that we were near land both last night and this morning but not visible. A sail or two appeared this forenoon but was soon shut from our sight by the dense rain which fell in torrents. Today we were near having a mutiny raised against the captain for keeping so much inland as we are in danger of being blown on shore and as no honest (?) information is given explanatory of our position or the cause to which it is attributable, considerable fear and suspicion has been excited in the minds of the passengers generally on this account and we think have been very much strengthened by our captain not speaking with ships we have passed. Two or three of which was so near that he could have done so and why he has not spoken with them has not been explained. Therefore on account of these things some have surmised that the captain must be ashamed of being seen so far out of his course. An elderly man who was a passenger in the second cabin died in the morning about ten o'clock and his remains was nailed up and committed to the deep this afternoon about four o'clock. The clergyman read a service over the corpse after which the tars launched it on the troubled waves and some old iron having been put into the temporary coffin to sink it to the bottom, broke it as soon as it touched the waves, exposing part of the body and somewhat startling the feelings of many who like myself were collected for the first time to witness the burial of a fellow mortal in waves of the greedy sea. The man spoken of only lay about 10 days ill. I am told his name was Mason and that he was a married man and that he came from Maclesfield. He was near 60 and it is said that he had near an hundred pounds which together with his box he left in charge of the purser (or storekeeper). I am told that his wife was much troubled about his coming nor would it comfort her in her bereavement did she but know that on his coming on board he made the worst drinkers his companions and drank hard himself and after his private stock of drink was exhausted , I have seen him get a stock overnight so that he might not have to wait until the store was open. Had he been a sober man I am inclined to think he would not have died at this time. This is another stuck down by the murderous habit of drinking and how awful to think that no drunkard shall enter the kingdom of heaven. How clearly it his proved that a companion of fools shall be destroyed. No (?) his such a fool has the poor drunkard.
Booth, Thomas. Papers, 1857 - 1859. Auckland War Memorial Museum Library. MS 2002/56.

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