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18 June 2014
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pen and diary
Hillbillies in the White House

The diary of James Black


17 May Thursday. Sailors busy mending sails and making spun yarn, passengers playing backgammon and chess, reading and answering charades and riddles; I gave them one of my own making, "I am in daily use in most parts of the world, seldom used twice and becomes the soul of my successor" - writing Paper.

So far I am in good health; we have fine weather and everything good and comfortable; fine hams, corned beef, turkeys, fowls, sheep, pigs, pies, puddings, fruit of various kinds even to pineapples, nice cakes, fresh bread in the morning and plenty of nice milk. Latitude 30 degrees 10' longitude 70 degrees 30'.

19 May Saturday. The wind has been fair and brisk for four days, and brought us on well. The ladies sick; I never have been so well at sea; two sail in view. George Walker is very sick, Wm Gibbes is quite well, ranging about very forward and very smart.

25 May Weather very fine with smooth sea; all on board well and cheerful; a smart flirtation goes on between the Revd Mr.P and Miss G. She is gentle and well informed, plays on the guitar and sings tolerably. Mrs Bones sings often and we all try it on Saturday night when drinking to wives and sweethearts, even the old lady gives us the "Vicar and Moses", "Black-eyed Susan" and some others in true theatrical style. So far we have had mild weather but got on slowly, latitude 41 degrees 10', longitude 47 degrees 45'.

29 May We had a close fog for two days although we were far east off the Banks; for three days the wind has been North and by east and we were barely able to lay our course at 5 to 8 knots, going under double reefed top sails; yesterday we had alight fall of snow and it still keeps very cold coats and cloaks much used; the ladies all sick, and felt so myself for a few hours. Reading, cards, chess and backgammon fills up the time; I have read "Travels in Egypt and Arabia and the “Holyland" by an American, Rory O' More, an Irish novel.

1 June Friday. The weather has been very cold for a week and the wind brisk from N.E. I set to dancing on deck with James Brown, and the ship rolling I made a false step and sprained the back sinews of my right leg and it is very painful.

5 June Tuesday. For nine days the wind has been brisk from North and N.E. barely allowing us to lay our course, and the ship now lays like a log on the quiet ocean; all the passengers playing backgammon or reading.

7 June The weather is dry and clear but very cold, Mrs Larmour has been very much afflicted for some days with rheumatism in her head and through her frame generally, she was better this morning; but at dinner was suddenly seized with an affliction of the heart and fainting, she is now better.I rubbed my sprained leg with vinegar hartshorn and oil for some days past and find it getting better.

Land ahoy – Liverpool.

10 June Sunday. Yesterday evening it blew fresh and before dark got under double reefed main and fore top sails; at 12 at night hove the Laid and got soundings in 70 fathoms; at 2 o'clock am the wind changed to North West and from then went to 6 to 8 knots. At 3 o'clock a man at the mast head called out 'Land on the starboard bow" and at 5 all on board could see from the deck the Dungarvan hills. The day is beautiful and all cheerful.

11 June Monday. At eight this morning we were abreast of Waterford, seven vessels in view and the smell of turf was very perceptible. The"Lexington" of Boston from New Orleans, 34 days out, at 4 o'clock changed signals with the ship "Windscales" sailed same tide with us from Charleston. The evening is fine but cold with occasional light squalls; we are now close to the Toskar Rock, 5 o'clock p.m. hope to take a pilot tomorrow.

12 June Tuesday. Wind ahead beating between Wicklow and Wales off Barnsley Isle. Six vessels in view in the same way. Weather dry but very cold; I am wearing a heavy coat and cannot be comfortably warm on deck. This is my birthday, 60 years of age, being born the 12th June 1778.

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