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Title: John James Murphy to Martin Murphy, 20 November 1863
CollectionArgentina - Murphy
SenderMurphy, John James
Sender Gendermale
Sender Occupationemigrant
Sender Religionunknown
OriginSt. Vincent, Cape Verde Islands
DestinationHaysland, Co. Wexford, Ireland
RecipientMurphy, Martin
Recipient Gendermale
Doc. No.
Partial Date
Doc. Type
Word Count1063
Genreaccount of passage
TranscriptFriday, St. Vincent, Cape Verde Islands

My dear and affectionate friends,

The idea of letting this opportunity pass without writing to you would be trouble hereafter knowing as I do, that you are always desirous to hear from me. In this I intend to give you some account of my passage up to here, but it must be a brief and as simple as possible. When I arrived in Southampton I found I could not secure my passage owing to the books being then in London and on Saturday morning the books came to Southampton and I then took a cabin with two others at £55 each, the one a German the other an Englishman residing in Pernambuco. The packet [is] a splendid paddle steam ship that can accommodate about 300 passengers (first class), and I expect half that number of steerage passengers left the docks on Saturday night and remained about two miles down the river until Monday. We the passengers went on board at 12 o'clock and the mails, about fifty bags, was put on board about two at which hour she started on her voyage with 118 first class and about 26 second class passengers. The dining saloon of this magnificent ship is about 26 yards long with two tables that extend the full length at which sat 96 individuals male and female to dine at 5 o'clock the first evening. The day was very fine and everyone appeared buoyant and in good spirits, with the prospect of a safe and pleasant voyage before him. But the next morning ____ a great many in their bed (myself amongst the rest) as the sea became heavy and came on to her side occasioned ____ her to role very much. This continued until Wednesday morning, the sea ____ing as we approached the Bay of Biscay, the wind still holding to the West, which ____ the sea into her side and washing completely over her, which left it almost impossible for even the hands to ____ the ship. The deck which stood about 25 feet above the sea was not visited by a single passenger while passing the Bay of Biscay. On Friday morning those that were able go on deck found themselves in sight of land proceeding along the coast of Portugal with the sea much moderated. When this was announced to the passengers in bed the most of them endeavoured to get up the weather improving as we must, that by 12 October, when we reached the harbour of Lisbon, all hands were on deck and many of them already prepared to go on shore, I amongst the rest (though still weak from the sailing of the previous days) accompanied the rest to the shore to see the curiosities of this place and its people. The principal part of the city is very beautiful, the streets wide and well paved, the houses high and nicely ornamented, the squares and promenades are paved in patterns with different colour stones and set off with works of aesthetic splendour. In approaching its shores the first curiosity is the number of windmills that is to be seen on every direction with peculiar shaped sails like a half diamond and I believe every farm house has a mill attached to it. The farmers all grind their own wheat both for use and for sale. The appearance of the country from the sea is very barren and mountainous, with neither the prospect of being a tillage or grazing land. We here landed some passengers and the mails, and took on board others with about 700 tons coal and 110 passengers. The latter ____ed the ship so much that there has to be two rounds of breakfast and dinner with about 100 at each. Saturday 14th about 9 A.M. we started, being a fine day. We enjoyed the ____ of the harbour very much, which is in ____ very beautiful. About 12 o'clock we met the French packet from Buenos Ayres and saluted her, and proceeded on our voyage with scarcely a breeze. Sunday after breakfast the officers and hands on board were ____ed on deck in their uniform, there names called over and then marched down to the saloon and prayers read for them by the Parson and to all others who wished to attend (being a week at sea). The rule is that plays and other amusements begin. Dancing commence every evening after tea to the music of the band belonging to the ship. Tuesday 17th we sighted the peak of Tenerife, which one would imagine that it was a point of cloud appearing through the others and beneath the mountain that support it there was a large ____ ship close to the shore which we afterwards discovered to be a Spanish frigate of war, the officers and men were all surprised to think the Spaniards should have such a fine large ship in their fleet.
Wednesday 18th. There is not a ripple in the sea if you could just give a peep on board you would find in all parts of the ship some play as pastime going on. Several of the young men and women passengers has got up a theatre to act in the first part of the night. The programme is indeed very amusing and better. than you would often find from professionals. They perform 4 acts every night and when that finishes the dance continues up to 12 or 1 o'clock. Thursday and Friday. Very fine and exceedingly warm, we had some heavy thunder yesterday, and today some showers. We had sight of St. Vincent this evening. It's now 10 o'clock P.M., and we expect to meet the mail packet far from about 11 o'clock, so that I must close my letter before actually arriving at where it's dated from in order to send it by her as I shall have no other opportunity until I reach Buenos Ayres. You will be glad to know that I am getting good health much better than I expected so you must content yourself with this hurried scribble and I shall endeavour to give you a better and more satisfactorily account of the remainder of the voyage. So farewell dear friends and I remain as ever your affectionate brother,

John Murphy
I wrote from Lisbon