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tion, I shall therefore rather choose the less of two evils, and, at the risk of being charged with egotism, shall employ the simplest possible terms in relating my "plain, unvarnished tale."
I was born on the 11th of August, 1841, in the town of North Bridgewater, a beautiful country village in the eastern part of the Old Bay State. My parents were William and Eliza Ann Hall; the former being a native of Duxbury, and the latter of Stoughton. Their family consisted of three daughters, and one son beside myself, whose names were, respectively, Adrianna Elnora, Cordelia Porter, Clara Francis, and William Murray.
Shortly after my birth, my father removed to New Bedford, where, for eighteen years, he pursued a successful mercantile career upon Union street; and where, in the midst of a happy home circle, beneath the fostering care of kind and affectionate parents, were spent the years of my childhood.
At the usual age, I entered one of the public schools of New Bedford, in which I remained a pupil, until, having qualified myself for admission to a High School, I was sent to an institution of that character, upon one of the
Elizabeth Islands, more generally known as Martha's Vineyard. Here were spent some of the happiest days of my life; but, at the expiration of one year, our Principal, Mr. Magonigal, having moved away, I was transferred to a boarding-school in the town of South Yarmouth.
In this place my love for boating and other aquatic sports, began to manifest itself in such a manner as to call forth the wonder and admiration of the entire community. I frequently bathed in company with my school-fellows, and, upon such occasions, many of the town's people would collect upon the shore, to witness the skill and fearlessness which I displayed while sporting in the surf.
Even at this early age, I could swim faster, dive deeper, and remain under water longer than any of my fellows; and it was an oft repeated remark, that "young Hall was a genuine web-foot, and born to be a sailor."
Such words as these tended only to fan the passion for the sea, which had long burned in my bosom, into a fiercer flame; and, long cre my school days were over, I had firmly resolved that I would become a sailor! My fondest hope for the future, was that I might
one day command a ship; and it seemed to me, that the summit of earthly felicity would be attained, when once I should find myself rolling over the billows in my own vessel
"With a flowing sheet, and a heaving sea,
And a wind that follows fast."
I remained at South Yarmouth for one year, when I returned to my father's house, to find there a bereaved and sorrowing family; for my mother had left this vale of tears, for a brighter and better world above, during my last absence from home.
Shortly after my return, my father procured for me a situation in a store; but my restless spirit longed for something more exciting than the dull details of business, and after following the monotonous routine of mercantile life for a few months, I ventured to express the darling wish of my heart, and begged of my father to send me to sea. After some opposition he consented; for it had ever been his greatest delight to gratify the wishes of his children, so far as seemed to him consistent with their best moral and physical welfare.
As my brother, William Murray, had previously entered the merchant service, and was
then at sea in the ship Crystal Palace, I decided to embark in a whaler, hoping to advance more rapidly than he had done. Accordingly, my father went with me to the counting-room of Wm. G. E. Pope, Esq., who was then agent for the ship Condor, where, after the necessary preliminaries had been settled, I signed the shipping papers for a three years voyage as foremast hand.
I proceeded immediately to procure the necessary outfit; and, at the expiration of a week, my "donkey" and clothes-bag, together with mattress and bedding, were stowed in the forecastle of the Condor, which was then nearly ready for sea. Her commander I found to be Samuel H. Whiteside, who had never before sailed as master.
The ship carried four mates, four boat steerers, a cook, steward, and twenty-three foremast hands, including myself, making in all thirtythree.
On the morning of the seventh of August, eighteen hundred and fifty-six, the weather being pleasant, and the wind fair, a pilot was sent on board the Condor, which was then lying in the stream, and the necessary preparations were soon made for getting under weigh. In
obedience to the pilot's first command, the crew, with long and steady strokes, began to heave in the slack of the chain cable. The anchor was soon "under foot;" when with "a long pull, a strong pull, and a pull altogether," upon the windlass brakes, and much noise on the part of the crew, it broke ground, and was soon hanging at the cat-head.
The moment had now arrived when the friends who had come to bid us farewell must return to the shore. The last "good-byes" were hastily spoken, and with many a warm grasp of the hand, and many a sincere wish for our prosperity during the voyage, and a safe return to our native land, our friends departed; while those of us who were now commencing our first voyage, resumed our labors with saddened hearts and tearful eyes.
The yard-arms of the top-sails having been previously loosed, the order was now given to "let fall the bunts, and sheet home the topsails fore and aft!" All was now bustle and confusion on board, and the "green hands," in their zeal to render assistance, succeeded in getting in everybody's way, and eliciting the most fearful curses on their unfortunate heads. The sheets of the top-sails were soon hauled home,