Xmas Day, 1873
Our 2nd Xmas on board has arrived & finds us in sight of two
snow covered islands, but they are still 20 miles away, so we shall
not anchor until to-morrow; the weather is just about the same as
with you, & the day has passed away far more pleasantly than last
X.mas in the Bay of Biscay, O., still the sea is very rough to-day
& the ship rolls a good dealbut we are pretty well used to that
now, it was too rough for the regular church, but we had prayers
as usual, and are now wearing our warm clothing for the first time,
as the Thermometer now stands at 40, & was down to freezing
point last night; rather a sudden change as it stood 70Á only 4
days ago. We left the Cape on the 17th for this island, distant
1200 miles, & had a good wind, we sounded 2 or 3 times, depth about
2 miles, & the island hove in sight about 10 o'clock this morning.
All hands were on deck looking out for land till dinner time, 12
o'clock, when the Band struck up —"The Roast Beef of Old England"
which sounded very nice, though the dinner was salt Pork & Pea Soup.
Of course we brought private stores with us, and had a fine dinner
considering; the Captain walks round just to see the tables laid
out, and tastes each messes plum duff, a very ancient custom in
the Navy; there are 20 messes, but he only managed about 5; after
1/3 pint of Madeira was issued to each man, and the Band played
dance music, which they are still doing, so I being no dancer have
got this letter underway....