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Before the day of embarkation, Mr. Astor addressed a letter of instruction to the four partners who were to sail in the ship. In this he enjoined them, in the most earnest manner, to cultivate harmony and unanimity, and recommended that all differences of opinions on points connected with the objects and interests of the voyage should be discussed by the whole, and decided by a majority of votes. He, moreover, gave them especial caution as to their conduct on arriving at their destined port; exhorting them to be careful to make a favorable impression upon the wild people among whom their lot and the fortunes of the enterprise would be cast. “If you find them kind,” said he, “as I hope you will, be so to them. If otherwise, act with caution and forbearance, and convince them that you come as friends."
With the same anxious forethought he wrote a letter of instructions to Captain Thorn, in which he urged the strictest attention to the health of himself and his crew, and to the promotion of good-humor and harmony on board his ship. “To prevent any misunderstanding,” added he, “will require your particular good management.” His letter closed with an injunction of wariness in his intercourse with the natives, a subject on which Mr. Astor was justly sensible he could not be too earnest. “I must recommend you,” said he, “to be particularly careful on the coast, and not to rely too much on the friendly disposition of the natives. All accidents
which have as yet happened there arose from too much confidence in the Indians."
The reader will bear these instructions in mind, as events will prove their wisdom and importance, and the disasters which ensued in consequence of the negiuct of them.
SAILING OF THE TONQUIN.-A RIGID COMMANDER AND A RECKLESS CREW.
LANDSMEN ON SHIPBOARD.- FRESH - WATER SAILORS AT SEA.- LUBBER
NESTS.-SHIP FARE.-A LABRADOR VETERAN.-LITERARY CLERKS.-CIRIOUS TRAVELLERS.-ROBINSON CRUSOE'S ISLAND.-QUARTER-DECK QUARRELS,
ISLANDS.-A WILD-GOOSE CHASE.- PORT EGMONT.-EPITAPH
SHOOTING SPORTSMEN LEFT
THE LURCH.-A HARD PULL-FURTHER ALTERCATIONS.- ARRIVAL AT OWY
In the eighth of September, 1810, the Tonquin
put to sea, where she was soon joined by the
frigate Constitution. The wind was fresh and fair from the southwest, and the ship was soon out of sight of land and free from the apprehended danger of interruption. The frigate, therefore, gave her “God speed,” and left her to her course.
The harmony so earnestly enjoined by Mr. Astor on this heterogeneous crew, and which had been so confidently promised in the buoyant moments of preparation, was doomed to meet with a check at the very outset.
Captain Thorn was an honest, straightforward, but somewhat dry and dictatorial commander, who, having been nurtured in the system and discipline of a ship of war, and in a sacred opinion of the supremacy of the quarter-deck, was disposed to be absolute lord and master on board of his ship. He appears, moreover, to have
CAPTAIN DISAGREES WITH PARTNERS.
had no great opinion, from the first, of the persons embarked with him. He had stood by with surly contempt while they vaunted so bravely to Mr. Astor of all they could do and all they could undergo; how they could face all weathers, put up with all kinds of fare, and even eat dogs with a relish, when no better food was to be had. He had set them down as a set of landlubbers and braggadocios, and was disposed to treat them accordingly. Mr. Astor was, in his eyes, his only real employer, being the father of the enterprise, who furnished all funds and bore all losses. The others were mere agents and subordinates, who lived at his expense. He evidently had but a narrow idea of the scope and nature of the enterprise, limiting his views merely to his part of it; everything beyond the concerns of his ship was out of his sphere; and anything that interfered with the routine of his nautical duties put him in a passion.
The partners, on the other hand, had been brought up in the service of the Northwest Company, and in a profound idea of the importance, dignity, and authority of a partner. They already began to consider themselves on a par with the M'Tavishes, the M’Gillivrays, the Frobishers, and the other magnates of the Northwest, whom they had been accustomed to look up to as the great ones of the earth ; and they were a little disposed, perhaps, to wear their suddenly-acquired honors with some air of pretension. Mr. Astor, too, had put them on their mettle with respect to the captain, describing him as a gunpowder fellow who would command his ship in fing style, and, if there was any fighting to do, would " blow all out of the water."
Thus prepared to regard each other with no very cordial eye, it is not to be wondered at that the parties soon came into collision. On the very first night Captain Thorn began his man-of-war discipline by ordering the lights in the cabin to be extinguished at eight o'clock.
The pride of the partners was immediately in arms. This was an invasion of their rights and dignities not to be borne. They were on board of their own ship, and entitled to consult their ease and enjoyment. M'Dougal was the champion of their cause. He was an active, irritable, fuming, vainglorious little man, and elevated in his own opinion, by being the proxy of Mr. Astor. A violent altercation ensued, in the course of which Thorn threatened to put the partners in irons should they prove refractory; upon which M'Dougal seized a pistol and swore to be the death of the captain should he ever offer such an indignity. It was some time before the irritated parties could be pacified by the more temperate bystanders.
Such was the captain's outset with the partners. Nor did the clerks stand much higher in his good graces; indeed, he seems to have regarded all the landsmen on board his ship as a kind of live lumber, continually in the way. The poor voyageurs, too, continually irritated his spleen by their “lubberly” and unseemly habits, so abhorrent to one accustomed to the cleanliness of a man