The Journal of Hugh Campbell, Part IX: O Captain! My Captain!

This week, Hugh learns a lit­tle more about the gen­er­ous Cap­tain Moses Gale.…

July 20th
W. Lon. 26, N. Lat. 52 Degrees 50’

Capt. Gale was very fond of polit­i­cal con­tro­ver­sy and would take great plea­sure in con­tend­ing in a fine evening with me on this sub­ject. I con­stant­ly sup­port­ed the British con­sti­tu­tion to him and most of my fel­low pas­sen­gers, who with­out know­ing any­thing about it, pre­tend to be great admir­ers of the Amer­i­can form of gov­ern­ment. In the course of my con­ver­sa­tion with him I got acquaint­ed with his history.

Roll call on deck of an emi­grant ship.

His father was an inhab­i­tant of Geor­gia and owned a hand­some plan­ta­tion in that state. He died at an ear­ly peri­od of the Capt.’s life and left him and two or three oth­er help­less chil­dren to the care of a Guardian. When they arrived at the age to get pos­ses­sion of their father’s estate they were told it had been expend­ed on their edu­ca­tion and were con­se­quent­ly thrown on the world. See­ing noth­ing bet­ter offer, he got one of the most menial offices before the mast in a ves­sel bound from Augus­ta to the West Indies and by degrees rose through every sta­tion until about 6 years ago, he was made Capt. by his present employ­er (Mr. Sul­li­van of New York) as a reward for good con­duct and long ser­vice. He is about forty and has been mar­ried some time to a ter­ma­gant* lady by whom he has two or three children.

To give a spec­i­men by his good nature and phil­an­thropy, I need only relate what he did for myself in tak­ing me on board friend­less and des­ti­tute. But his good offices did not end here. He gave up with­out any renu­mer­a­tion his own state room to Mr. Gray and fam­i­ly from Blan­ket­neuh and gave a free cab­in pas­sage to James Kerr of N.T. Stew­art. He after­wards took in a Miss Jane Camp­bell from Der­ry as an extra pas­sen­ger. This lady came off under very del­i­cate cir­cum­stances and was put under the Capt.’s care. In order to accom­mo­date her with a birth in the cab­in he gave his own cot to J. Kerr that she might use his cab­in berth, etc. Through­out the whole voy­age he slept in a ham­mock and suf­fered many incon­ve­niences for no ben­e­fit. One day while sit­ting with him on the Bowsprit** he per­ceived my melan­choly rather deep­er than usu­al and entered into con­ver­sa­tion on the sub­ject. “Don’t be dis­cour­aged my dear Camp­bell,” said he “for should that d—nd ras­cal Phillips be gone from New York with all you have, I will fur­nish you with mon­ey to car­ry you to any port in the U. States. Things will turn out bet­ter than you expect but I am d—nd if they can turn out worse. You can pay me some time if you live and if not I’ll for­give you.”

These unpar­al­leled offers of assis­tance which called forth my warmest thanks and grat­i­tude were after­wards renewed in New York. But thank God I nev­er required any assis­tance not with­stand­ing every unfor­tu­nate occur­rence that hap­pened me.


* Vio­lent, shrewlike.
** Pole extend­ing for­ward off the front of the ship.

Next week: Cap­tain Gale makes nice with the pas­sen­gers, and the crew goes sport fishing.