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Bertha's Visit to her Uncle in England; vol. 1 in three Volumes

Bertha's Visit to her Uncle in England; vol. 1
in three Volumes
Title: Bertha's Visit to her Uncle in England; vol. 1 in three Volumes
Release Date: 2018-10-01
Type book: Text
Copyright Status: Public domain in the USA.
Date added: 27 March 2019
Count views: 19
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Printed by W. Clowes,

INDEX to Volume I.



I.22,6,for Corcorada read Corcovada.
II.38,18,for it all read it at all.
II.201,21,for Banksiæ read Grevilliæ.
II.291,12,for Moravina read Moravian.



These little volumes consist of extracts from the Journal of a youngperson, who, having passed her childhood at Rio Janeiro, was sent, atthe close of that period, on a visit to her English friends.

Her father, Colonel Montague, had been ordered to Brazil uponconfidential business; and, foreseeing that it would occupy him for anindefinite time, he carried his family along with him. They had remainedin that country several years, when their domestic happiness wassuddenly destroyed by his death; and the effect of the shock on hisunfortunate widow was such, that she was wholly unable to undertake avoyage to England. She was, therefore, obliged to continue her residence{iv}at Rio; but her brother, who had always been tenderly attached to her,requested that she would permit her daughter Bertha to visit him; and,though a most painful separation, she consented, knowing how much itwould be for her child’s advantage.

Bertha promised to keep a constant Journal, and to send it whenever anopportunity offered; and such parts of that Journal have been selectedby the Editor, as it is hoped may be found useful or interesting.{1}


H.M.S. Phaeton, June 17th.

My Dear Mamma,

Though I wrote to you yesterday by the Blossom, which “we spoke,” I amtempted by the delightful smoothness of the sea to begin another letter,in order to tell you a little of what I have seen and thought;—but howdifferent from being with you every day—from being your companion aswell as your child! I will not, however, say another word about mysorrow at leaving you; I will try to show that I remember your lastwords: “affection is best preserved by not yielding to violentfeelings.” Indeed, I believe I said too much in yesterday’s letter ofthe misery I felt. I now try to console myself with the hope that asyour health has been so much better for the last two years, you willsoon, perhaps, be able to follow your poor little daughter to England;and I repeat to myself all the good reasons that you were so kind as togive{2} for the propriety of sending me to my native country.

I am determined to follow your advice in keeping my mind constantlyoccupied; and as you have often said that there is no place in whichsomething interesting may not be observed, I shall at once begin thejournal you desired me to keep. It shall be ready to fold up whenever anopportunity may occur; so that I shall have the pleasure of making youand my sister, dear Marianne, frequently share with me in all that Isee, and all that I enjoy.

20th.—For a day or two after our last faint view of the woody heightsof Cabo Frio, I was diverted by the number of pretty land-birds, andeven butterflies, that came about the ship, and fluttered in therigging; and as they gradually disappeared I amused myself, as long as Iwas able, in gazing on the sea, and in watching the little waves as theydashed against the ship’s side. That pleasure soon ceased, for theybecame so rough that I suffered very much from sickness: but thisevening there has been scarcely any wind; the dark blue sea is almost assmooth as a mirror, and I can walk, and read, and write, as if I was onshore. The captain took me on deck to see the sun setting behind thewestern horizon; it was indeed a beautiful sight, and the broad red lineof light reflected from the{3} water added greatly to the grandeur of thescene.

22d.—Mrs. P—— is very kind, and tries to rouse my mind, and to makeme see whatever is worth observing. Just like you, Mamma, she thinksactive occupation is the best remedy for grief, and she has suggestedseveral employments in which she will be my companion. Among otherthings, we are to learn together the names and uses of the principalparts of the vessel.

24th.—We were much delighted yesterday evening with the luminousappearance of the sea, and the captain has promised to show us some ofthe insects from which the light proceeds. Many of them are common inall seas, he says; but there are some which are seldom found outside thetropics.

Just as I had written so far, Captain M. invited us to go on deck tolook at some birds that were hovering about the vessel. One of them wasa phaeton, or tropic-bird, of which there are many varieties;—thatwhich I have seen to-day had a red bill, and very long white wings,tipped with black; the legs and feet bright red: the tail consists ofonly two straight feathers, almost two feet long, which they drop everyyear. These are worn in the caps of the Sandwich{4} islanders, and in themourning dress of the Otaheitans.

25th.—Last night we had the good fortune to procure one of theluminous creatures that make the sea so brilliant. After many fruitlessattempts, a bucket of water brought up a fine specimen, about two incheslong, and as thick as my finger; somewhat cylindrical and transparent.On its surface are numerous little tubercles; and as there seems to be acavity all through the body, it might at first be thought oneindividual, but the captain showed me that it is an assemblage ofanimals united together. He examined the specimen very minutely, andthen put it into a phial of spirits of wine to preserve it. He seems tobe very fond of natural history, and told us that the sparklingappearance of the sea, which may be observed in all parts of the world,is produced by animalculæ, or little creatures that can only bediscerned by a microscope.

26th.—We have seen more birds to-day. Some of them were petrels;they remained a long time skimming about the ship, and though theygreedily devoured any fat substance thrown into the sea, all ourendeavours to procure one failed. One species was the stormy petrel,which they say is seen all over the Atlantic Ocean. Some chopped strawbeing thrown overboard, we saw{5} them stand on it with expanded wings;but these birds never settle or swim in the water. They skim along withincredible rapidity in the hollows of the waves. It is to the stormypetrel that these two lines allude—

She swept the seas; and as she skimm’d along,
Her flying feet unbathed on billows hung.

28th.—The captain was so good as to explain to us this morning themanner in which the rigging supports the masts, and how the yards areraised, and lowered, and braced in different positions, in order toadapt them to the force and direction of the wind. He also walked roundthe gun-deck with us, and showed us the cannon and all their implements,which are kept in such a constant state of readiness, that in fiveminutes, night or day, the whole battery would be ready for fighting.But nothing pleased me so much as the lower-deck, where he took us whilethe crew were all at dinner on nice pea-soup and salt pork, and allsitting comfortably on their chests placed round the tables; of whichthere is a complete row along the foremost half of the deck. The otherend of this deck contains the officers’ cabins, which, although notabove six or seven feet either in length, or breadth, or height, arevery nicely fitted up with a chest of drawers, a little book-case, achair, and even a sofa; be{6}sides a cot, or bed, which is only hung up atnight.

30th.—We have seen the man-of-war bird to-day. It has amembranaceous bag like that of a pelican, bright red—the plumage isbrown. It is always on the wing, very seldom having been observed tosettle on the masts of ships. Other sea-birds, when tired of flying,generally rest themselves on the surface of the water; but the verygreat length of the wing makes it impossible for this bird to do so, asit could not easily rise again.

When we were becalmed this morning, we had an opportunity of seeing anumber of birds of various kinds, the albatross, among others;—andone of the dark-coloured variety was caught with a small fishing-line;it measured seven feet between the tips of the wings. Its face is veryremarkable, for its flat head and crooked bill give it some resemblanceto the owl, which is increased by its large prominent eyes. As weadvance to the north this species will become scarce, Captain M. says,but we shall have the great albatross, which is by far the largest ofall aquatic birds.

July 2d.—I have been delighted with the flying fish, of which we haveseen numbers for some days. They ascend sparkling out of the{7} waves,sometimes singly, sometimes in great numbers, when pursued; but inavoiding one danger they are exposed to another, for it is said that theman-of-war bird has been seen to pounce upon them while in the air.Their flight is generally in a direction contrary to the wind, andseldom exceeds a hundred yards; nor do they rise high, though Captain M.says he has seen them fall on his deck. He showed me their enemies too,the bonito and the albacore, which, he says, are both of themackarel tribe. They swim with great rapidity, and are so strong, thatthey sometimes, in the midst of the most rapid course, leap five or sixfeet perpendicularly above the surface, and plunge again head foremostinto the waves.

4th.—I have been looking at Mother Carey’s chickens, the least of allthe petrels, I believe; and the fulmar, which is certainly the mostbeautiful, for its plumage is of a snowy whiteness, and, as Mrs.P—— observed, seems unsoiled by the water, though constantly diving.

7th.—It seems a very long time since we have seen land, but I am notyet tired of a sea life. Much as I love all the works of nature, I neverfelt such admiration for any thing as I do for the sea. Its extent, itsdepth, and the grand and almost terrific sound of its waves—it fillson{8}e’s mind with awe; and it is wonderful to think that, powerful anduncontrollable as it appears, man should be able to pass over it to themost distant regions, and to guide his ships through its stormy andturbulent waves.

In speaking of the sea, Captain M. remarked how admirably theconsistence of water, or as he calls it the viscidity, is adapted toits various purposes, and to the support of floating bodies. “Howlittle,” said he, “do we observe the objects which are always before oureyes: we see without surprise masses of dust raised by the wind, andcarried to a great distance; and we see also that water, though muchlighter than dust, is not carried off by the winds in the same manner.If it were, every strong breeze from the ocean towards the land wouldbring an inundation; navigation would be impossible, and the banks ofrivers and seas would be uninhabitable. The adhesion of the particles ofwater to each other is the cause of its preservation in masses; it wouldotherwise evaporate like æther, or be dispersed like dust. Such is thesimplicity employed by Nature in all her works.”

8th.—We have twice seen the stormy petrel, but as yet it has not beenthe forerunner of storms;—it is black, with a very little white nearthe tail. One of the officers told me it is called petrel, after St.Peter, from his having walked on the sea.{9}

9th.—We have been looking at a grampus, or a small kind of whale,and at a shoal of porpoises, that passed close alongside of the ship.The grampus was blowing water up in the air, in the most amusing manner,making beautiful

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