The appearance of this man, from the accounts I have received of him, was the most dreadful that can be imagined; ragged clothes, scarce sufficent to cover his nakedness, and covered with vermin; his red hair and beard matted, his skin much burnt, from constant exposure to the sun, and so wild and savage in his manner and appearance, that he struck every one with horror. For several years this wretched being lived by himself on this desolate spot, without any apparent desire than that of procuring rum in sufficient quantities to keep himself intoxicated, and, at such times, after an absence from his hut of several days, he would be found in a state of perfect insensibility, rolling among the rocks of the mountains. He appeared to be reduced to the lowest grade of which human nature is capable, and seemed to have no desire beyond the tortoises and other animals of the island, except that of getting drunk.
His appearance, from all accounts, was that of the victim of some malignant sorceress; he seemed to have drunk of Circe's cup; beastlike; rags insufficient to hide his nakedness; his befreckled skin blistered by continual exposure to the sun; nose flat; countenance contorted, heavy, earthy; hair and beard unshorn, profuse, and of fiery red. He struck strangers much as if he were a volcanic creature thrown up by the same convulsion which exploded into sight the isle. All bepatched and coiled asleep in his lonely lava den among the mountains, he looked, they say, as a heaped drift of withered leaves, torn from autumn trees, and so left in some hidden nook by the whirling halt for an instant of a fierce night wind, which then ruthlessly sweeps on, somewhere else to repeat the capricious act.
Sir: I am the most unfortunate ill-treated gentleman that lives. I am a patriot, exiled from my country by the cruel hand of tyranny.
I have made repeated applications to captains of vessels to sell me a boat, or to take me from this place, but in every instance met with a refusal.
Banished to these Enchanted Isles, I have again and again besought captains of ships to sell me a boat, but always have been refused, though I offered the handsomest prices in Mexican dollars.
An opportunity presented itself to possess myself of one, and I took advantage of it.
At length an opportunity presented of possessing myself of one, and I did not let it slip.
I have been a long time endeavouring, by hard labour and suffering, to accumulate wherewith to make myself comfortable, but at different times have been robbed and maltreated, and in a late instance by captain Paddock, whose conduct in punishing me, and robbing me of about 500 dollars, in cash and other articles, neither agrees with the principles he professes nor is it such as his sleek coat would lead one to expect*.
I have been long endeavoring by hard labor and much solitary suffering to accumulate something to make myself comfortable in a virtuous though unhappy old age; but at various times have been robbed and beaten by men professing to be Christians.
On the 29th May, 1809, I sail from the enchanted island in the Black Prince, bound to the Marquesas.
To-day I sail from the Enchanted group in the good boat Charity bound to the Feejee Isles.
Do not kill the old hen; she is now sitting, and will soon have chickens.
(Signed) Fatherless oberlus.
* Captain Paddock was of the society of friends, commonly called quakers.
P.S.—Behind the clinkers, nigh the oven, you will find the old fowl. Do not kill it; be patient; I leave it setting; if it shall have any chicks, I hereby bequeath them to you, whoever you may be. But don't count your chicks before they are hatched.
The fowl proved a starveling rooster, reduced to a sitting posture by sheer debility.
The Inscription on Lieutenant Cowan's Grave
|Porter, in Chapter IX||Scouler, in Account of a Voyage …||Melville, in Sketch Tenth|
Sacred to the memory
OF LIEUT. JOHN S. COWAN,
Of the U.S. Frigate Essex,
Who died here anno 1813,
Aged 21 Years.
|Sacred to the memory
of John Cowan, lieutenant
of the U. S. frigate Essex,
who died here September 1813.
|Here, in 1813, fell in a daybreak duel, a Lieutenant of the U.S. frigate Essex, aged twenty-one: attaining his majority in death.|
|His loss is ever to be regretted
by his country;
And mourned by his friends
And brother officers.
His memory is lamented
by his friends and country,
and honoured by his brother officers.
Gentle reader, as you pass by,
As you are now, so wonce was I;
As now my body is in the dust,
I hope in heaven my soul to rest.
Oh Brother Jack, as you pass by,
As you are now, so once was I.
Just so game and just so gay,
But now, alack, they've stopped my pay.
No more I peep out of my blinkers,
Here I be—tucked in with clinkers!