Jules Verne

The Chancellor is a fine square-rigged three-master, of 900 tons burden, and belongs to the wealthy Liverpool firm of Laird Brothers. She is two years old, is sheathed and secured with copper, her decks being of teak, and the base of all her masts, except the mizzen, with all their fittings, being of iron. She is registered first class, A 1, and is now on her third voyage between Charleston and Liverpool. As she wended her way through the channels of Charleston harbor, it was the British flag that was lowered from her mast-head; but without colors at all, no sailor could have hesitated for a moment in telling her nationality, -- for Eng- lish she was, and nothing but English from her water-line upward to the truck of her masts.

I must now relate how it happens that I have taken my passage on board the Chancellor on her return voyage to England.

At present there is no direct steamship service between South Carolina and Great Britain, and all who wish to cross must go either northward to New York or southward to New Orleans. It is quite true that if I had chosen a start from New York I might have found plenty of vessels be- longing to English, French, or Hamburg lines, any of which would have conveyed me by a rapid voyage to my destina- tion; and it is equally true that if I had selected New Or- leans for my embarkation I could readily have reached Europe by one of the vessels of the National Steam Naviga- tion Company, which join the French transatlantic line of Colon and Aspinwall. But it was fated to be otherwise.

One day, as I was loitering about the Charleston quays, my eye lighted on this vessel. There was something about the Chancellor that pleased me, and a kind of involuntary impulse took me on board, where I found the internal ar- rangements perfectly comfortable. Yielding to the idea that a voyage in a sailing vessel had certain charms beyond the transit in a steamer, and reckoning that with wind and wave in my favor there would be little material difference in time; considering, moreover, that in these low latitudes the weather in early autumn is fine and unbroken, I came to my decision, and proceeded forthwith to secure my pas- sage by this route to Europe.

Have I done right or wrong? Whether I shall have rea- son to regret my determination is a problem to be solved in the future. However, I will begin to record the incidents of our daily experience, dubious as I feel whether the lines of my chronicle will ever find a reader.


SEPTEMBER 28. -- John Silas Huntly, the captain of the Chancellor, has the reputation of being a most experienced navigator of the Atlantic. He is a Scotchman by birth, a native of Dundee, and is about fifty years of age. He is of the middle height and slight build, and has a small head, which he has a habit of holding a little over his left shoulder. I do not pretend to be much of a physiognomist, but I am inclined to believe that my few hours' acquaintance with our captain has given me considerable insight into his charac- ter. That he is a good seaman and thoroughly understands his duties I could not for a moment venture to deny; but that he is a man of resolute temperament, or that he pos- sesses the amount of courage that would render him, phy- sically or morally, capable of coping with any great emer- gency, I confess I cannot believe. I observed a certain heaviness and dejection about his whole carriage. His wavering glances, the listless motion of his hands, and his slow, unsteady gait, all seem to me to indicate a weak and sluggish disposition. He does not appear as though he could be energetic enough ever to be stubborn; he never frowns, sets his teeth, or clenches his fists. There is some- thing enigmatical about him; however, I shall study him closely, and do what I can to understand the man who, as commander of a vessel, should be to those around him "second only to God."

Unless I am greatly mistaken there is another man on board who, if circumstances should require it, would take the more prominent position -- I mean the mate.