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The Journal of Hugh Campbell, Part V: Hugh’s “Luxury” Accomodations

And……….Hugh’s off (finally).  But he’s not riding in first class….or even steerage.  Read all about it here.  (If you missed Part IV, get caught up here.)

24th June

About 3 in the morning I was awaked out of a comfortable sleep in the Capt.’s cot to go down to the place of concealment in the ballast until we got clear of danger from port officers cruisers. To avoid suspicion I was conducted through a small hatchway in the cabin floor to the hold. Here I beheld about 15 extra passengers all preparing to enter a cavity in the brick ballast* through a small hole picked out for the purpose. My companions were nearly all inhabitants of the most uncultured part of Inishown. Their appearance would have made a disinterested spectator laugh though I was in too serious a humour to enjoy the scene.

We entered with difficulty and got fixed as well as our comfortless situation would admit of just before the ship began to heave. To have an idea of this place, suppose a cavity constructed of brick 2-1/2 feet high and 3 feet wide across the vessel without seats or any other convenience to sit or lay except the hard bricks. In this place 15 or 16 of us were confined for about 10 hours in total darkness until we got clear of the coast. At length we were liberated to the no small joy of the sufferers. During our confinement we were mostly all seized with seasickness and the scene that followed can be easily imagined. Nothing was heard but moaning, swearing, vomiting and begging to get out.

The agitation of mind kept the sickness away from me for the moment, and I exerted myself to keep silence and order amongst my uncouth companions: from their uneasy and confined situation they were constantly either crushing, laying, or puking on each other and it required great exertion to keep them from quarrelling. Having at length got on deck we found our fellow passengers in a disagreeable enough state. Sickness and (its invariable companion) sorrow for having undertaken the voyage seemed to be universally felt by all. I have heard several offer considerable sums beside their passage money to be set once more on their native land which was still in sight. The good-natured Capt. told them that he had been too long accustomed to such requests while in the passenger trade before, to attend to them now and assured them that they would feel quite happy and reconciled in a few days which was actually the case.

Though the wind was contrary when we weighed anchor, the Capt. would wait no longer, on account of having read a letter from Mr. Buchanan stating that information relating to our illegally carrying out passengers above the number limited by law, had been given in to the Custom House officers in Derry. A search was feared and expected by the Capt. every moment in consequence and he accordingly concluded on slipping out during the night.

About 12 a.m. we were driven back near Mugilligan and were for the most part of the evening in sight of both the Scotch and Irish coasts. But a fair breeze springing up we soon lost sight of the much-loved land of our nativity.


* A ship’s ballast is a compartment in the bottom of a boat for temporary weight that is used to stabilize the vessel. The Phoenix used bricks, but improved boat design has eliminated the need for a ballast tank in most modern sailing ships.

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