SIX MONTHS

IN

A S C E N S I O N




LONDON:

BRADBURY, AGNEW, &co., PRINTERS, WHITEFRIARS


Dedicated

TO

SAMUEL SMILES LL.D.,

WITH THE ESTEEM AND GRATITUDE

OF

THE AUTHOR.


CONTENTS.


INTRODUCTION

Chapter I.

WHY WE WENT.

The Professor's story. — The noblest problem in Astronomy. — Kepler's law of the Distances. — Sun's Distance the standard of celestial measure. — How celestial distances are measured. — Mathematics and knitting-needles. — The Transit of Venus. — The Opposition of Mars. — Lieut. Gilles's disappointment. — The Astronomer Royal's plan. — My husband's proposal. — Ascension fixed upon. — A grant from the Astronomical Society. — Lord Lindsay's Heliometer. — The Heliometer at Burlington House. — Accident to the Heliometer. — Ready to start.

Chapter II.

THE VOYAGE.

Dartmouth. — Dartmouth shopkeepers. — Dr. Davidson's "Perfect Remedy for Sea-sickness." — Madeira. — Diving boys at Funchal. — Lordly colonists. — Teneriffe. — What the stewardess thought of the Peak. — Our fellow-passengers. — South African Mission Work. — Eaves-dropping. — Arrival at St. Helena. — The Ladder. — Landing. — "Derelicts." — Johnson's Observatory. — Its present uses. — The St. Helena Astronomer. — St. Helena skies. — Tempted to stay.

Chapter III.

ST. HELENA.

Fresh scenes. — "The Briars." — St. Helena vegetation. — Sandy Bay. — Diana's Peak. — A nervous ride. — Lot and Lot's wife. — Neglected Cinchona. — Tom Timm. — Halley's Observatory. — Napoleon's tomb. — "Yam stalks." — Longwood. — Relic hunting. — Longwood Farm. — St. Helena farming. — The Friar Rock. — The Mountain Maid and the Friar. — West Lodge. — Hard times in St. Helena. — Plantation House. — Oakbank. — Fate of the "Derelicts." — St. Helena friends. — Good-bye.

Chapter IV.

WHAT ASCENSION LOOKED LIKE.

Clarence Bay. — The "Abomination of Desolation." — Is that Ascension? — Rollers. — Can we land? — An uninviting dingey. — A slippery footing on Ascension. — A kindly welcome. — "The Thing." — The beauty of perfect ugliness. — The Captain's Cottage. — Between hammer and anvil. — Commodore's Cottage. — A bare larder. — Shopping in Ascension. — Threatened starvation. — A novel Croquet lawn. — Site for the Observatory. — Glorious skies.

Chapter V.

ASCENSION PAST AND PRESENT.

Ascension discovered. — Its volcanic origin. — Its shape and size. — "True as the needle to the Pole." — Embedded turtle. — A French opinion of Turtle-soup. — The Sailor's Post-office. — Visit of Abbé La Caille. — British occupation of Ascension. —Why we keep it. — Its peculiar government. — The Governor's troubles. — A decision worthy of Solomon. — The population in 1877. — Ascension, the Flora Tender. — Sea life ashore. — Ascension mutton. — A gallon of water a day. — Novel domestic economy.

Chapter VI.

ROUND ABOUT GARRISON.

Erecting the Observatory. — A busy day. — The Turtle-ponds. — Doomed turtles. — Captain Brandreth's Story. — Turtle-nests. — Turtle turning. — Happy turtles. — St. Mary's Church. — The Chaplain's protest. — Change of weather. — Green Mountain clouds. — Our troubles begin.

Chapter VII.

A NIGHT ON THE CLINKER.

Weary weeks. — What is to be done? — Can we get beyond the Clouds? — I determine to explore. — A typical night. — Walking over "clinker." — Jimmy Ducks. — Light through the cloud. — Midnight on the clinker. — Chasing a Cloud by moon-light. — My clinker cairn. — Return to Garrison. — The decision. — Reconnoitring. — A hopeful spot. — Two "ifs." — Preparations for tent-life. — The first Parallax Determination. — "The man that hesitates is lost."

Chapter VIII.

CHANGE AND CHECK.

Rooted up. — A strange procession. — "Sister Anne! Sister Anne! do you see anybody coming?" — Good news. — Mars Bay. — The Heliometer and the Kroomen. — All's well that ends well. — A solitary palm. — My first sight of Mars Bay. — Clinker flooring. — Roller fever. — At work again. — Sam and Fetish. — My second coming to Mars Bay.

Chapter IX.

MARS BAY.

A gloomy Home-coming. — A wet Sunday. — Our tents. — "Sam again." — Mail-day. — Setting the House in order. — "Hard-backs." — Watchful Nights and Weary Days. — Sam versus Graydon. — Scarcity of Water. — Good Samaritans. — An Eclipse of the Moon. — Our Cooking-tent by Night. — Guests at Mars Bay.

Chapter X.

A SUNDAY SCENE.

Disturbance in the Galley. — Reading the Riot Act. — A Fight. — Contrition. — Change in the Galley. — Sam the Second. — A revelation. — The Government of King Rum. — A practical joke. — By the sea. — The "Orontes." — No Turtle Boat.

Chapter XI.

THE OPPOSITION OF MARS.

Suspense. — Evening success. — A little cloud. — Splendid Definition. — Sweet sounds. — A favourable Opposition. — The Mail lost.

Chapter XII.

THE SEA-SHORE AND THE ROLLERS.

Blood-stained Travellers. — A terrible highway. — South Point. — An unexpected path. — A Lava Forest. — An adventure with an Octopus. — A family party. — "The Twa Dogs." — Gannet Bay. — The coming of the Wide-awakes. — A good determination of the Sun's Distance. — The Rollers, what are they? — Captain Evans' theory. — Disappearance of the Rollers. — Centipedes in the cheese. — Off for a holiday.

Chapter XIII.

GREEN MOUNTAIN.

A dreary way. — Water-tanks. — A conscientious pony. — Climbing the Ramps. — A delightful contrast. — Grass. — Garden Cottage. — A welcome fire. — Break-neck Valley. — A Dew Pond. — The Peak. — Looking down upon our Neighbours. — A Krooman's idea of a holiday. — Ascension Flora. — "Sherry and bitters." — "Sic itur ad astra."

Chapter XIV.

SUNDAY AT THE MOUNTAIN.

View from Garden Cottage. — "Und tinter den Füssen ein nebliges Meer." — The Dairy. — Church at the Mountain. — Rest. — The Weather Gardens. — Stars versus Cabbages.

Chapter XV.

WHY WE HAD ONLY A GALLON OF WATER.

The Brandreth Wells. — Failure of the Spring. — Mr. Cross's happy discovery. — A fickle spring. — How the water is collected. — Dampier's. — Mulberry Drip. — Duck Pond Drip. — White Wall Drip. — Middleton Drip.

Chapter XVI.

TRIPS FROM GARDEN COTTAGE.

In search of Silver Ore Run. — The Wrong Road. — Empty water-courses. — Jimmy Chivas. — The Mountain Hospital. — The Mountain Cemetery. — The "Ingle Neuk." — Excursion to Weather Post. — Cricket Valley. — A gorse bush. — Caught in the fog. — Boatswain Bird Island. — Ascension game. — A novel drinking cup. — The end of the holiday. — The wizard-wanded mist. — Mars Bay and work again.

Chapter XVII.

MARS BAY WITHOUT A COOK.

Triangulation of Mars stars. — Our piteous case. — A new Galley slave. — Cooking under difficulties. — Sam's method. — A Marine to the rescue. — Sam and his child-book. — My pupil. — Daily work. — H.M.S. Boxer. — Sea-sick guests. — A boat upset. — Surf navigation.

Chapter XVIII.

WIDE-AWAKE FAIR.

Garrison festivities. — "Wide-awake, Wide-awake!" — Sterna fuliginosa. — Ascension theories about "Wide-awakes." — "The Fair." — Egg-gathering. — A gallant defence. — Large consumers. — The lime-burner's failing appetite. — Ipomaea maritima. — A crusty cook.. — His tender feelings. — "Polly's" departure. — Marines and Blue-jackets. — A sensitive creature.

Chapter XIX.

LAST DAYS AT MARS BAY.

Passing ships. — H.M.S. Beacon. — Graydon home-sick. — "Rover" bequeathed. — A new assistant. — "Melpomene." — Bad weather. — Disappointment. — Delightful orders. — Scarcity of lucifer matches. — Attempts in Taxidermy. — Our feathered friends. — Sterna leucocapilla. — Packing. — The Ways of The Service. — My ignorance. — The work is done. — Pulling down our altars.

Chapter XX.

CHRISTMAS IN GARRISON.

Five precious Books. — Christmas without Holly. — Roast Beef and Plum Pudding. — A Musical Entertainment. — The Tom-tom. — A motley crew. — The Master of Ceremonies. — No cook and no dinner. — Eggs and bacon. — The Captain's Office. — Exit Tom.

Chapter XXI.

ABOUT THE KROOMEN.

A visit from Sam the First. — The Big Brother. — A bad bargain. — Favourite investments. — "Chop-Dollar." — A remarkable toilet. — Kroomen's physique. — Kroomen's moral nature. — Fetish. — Kingsley on Fetish. — "Gre-gre." — "Fetish no can touch white man." — A demand for over-exposed photographs. — A theft. — "Fetish will have you." — Retribution. — Sam's aspirations. — My regrets. — "Is it too late?"

Chapter XXII.

CLINKER CEMETERIES.

"In boxes." — Waiting for the Mail. — Dead Man's Beach. — Garrison Cemetery. — The music of the waves. — A coral strand. — The "Blow-hole." — The Rollers again. — The Heliometer in danger. — Its fortunate escape. — Volcanic scenery. — Comfortless Cove. — Lonely graves. — A vision of the past.

Chapter XXIII.

CHRISTMAS HOLIDAYS.

A hot New Year's Day. — A rifle match. — Rueful knights. — Bravo the Ascension! — A domestic excitement. — "Too many cooks spoil the broth." — Fish waiting for Soup. — The party behind the chairs. — In quest of Turtle. — A lovely night. — No success. — Another attempt. — South-west Bay. — Poor Pussy. — Lost on the Clinker. — Tired and Turtleless. — Boatswain Bird Island. — Among the birds. — A noisy reception. — A painful greeting. — Collecting specimens. — A cloud of birds. — No guano.

Chapter XIV.

THE DEVIL'S RIDING SCHOOL.

Our last Excursion. — An early start. — In doubt about the way. — Horse Shoe Crater. — Rover in trouble. — The Devil's Riding School. — Fairy Rings. — What has once been here? — The Riding School no crater. — Saucepan lids. — A stone umbrella. — Broken bottles. — Last Observations. — Finis coronat opus. — Mail in sight. — Farewells.

Chapter XXV.

HOMEWARD BOUND.

Cheerful neighbours. — Sunday at sea. — Sitting on deck. — Teneriffe again. — Cooler latitudes. — Rousing the inhabitants. — Funchal by moonlight. — An unexpected meeting. — American Astronomers. — Victims of curio vendors. — The Bay of Biscay. — A gale in Channel. — Home.


TO BINDER.

Map of the Island of Ascension to face Title.


Notes about this version of Gill:

The title page, map, and text were scanned from an original copy of Gill. OCR software was used to generate a text file which was carefully proof-read against the original.

Contributed by Barry Weaver.

Details of the original:
Gill, I. Six Months in Ascension: An Unscientific Account of a Scientific Expedition. Murray, London, 1878.
Size: Octavo.
Text: pp. liv, 285, 24 of advertisements.
Plates: One plate, Island of Ascension.

British Library shelfmark: 10097.b.7. and W48/4527
Library of Congress call number: QB516 .G44


Virtual Library