The Private Journal of William Reynolds; United States Exploring Expedition, 1838-1842.

A healthy selection of Reynolds journals which includes his official account together with his own interpolations correcting that account. A good example is p. 11: “Captain Wilkes is a man of great talent {great mistake, did not at this time know him}, perhaps genius…. He has had much experience with them [various instruments] since, is an excellent astronomer {all in the wrong, all humbug—a little smattering & much boasting on his part deceived others besides myself}, & well acquainted with the mysteries of chemistry & the operations of natural philosophy.”

p. 13: The Scientifics cut up & dissect and overhaul, and use a magnifying power the better to see, and make drawings & paintings, and invent unpronounceable terms, and tell us all about the mysteries of organization, &c., &c.

p. 51, March 18th, 1839: Those 8 days [during a gale] were tedious, and time hung wearily on our hands. He could not walk on Shore at all & could take no more exercise in the Launch than a chicken in its Shell… most of the hours were passed in listless inactivity both of body and mind. We had neglected to take Books with us, & conversation often flagged of course.

To cheer us up, we set the men singing & spinning yarns after nightfall & thus whiled away moments that would otherwise have been dull enough.

p. 74, May 15 at Valparaiso: Letters & papers were thrown over the deck & table, and after a little search, I found three that I recognized at a glance and a bundle of newspapers. 9 months had passed by without any word from Home, & with an eager hand I broke the Seals & read away as fast as I could. All was well—and I was happy.

p. 167-8: Captain Wilkes had gone to Rahway in the Flying Fish to see him [Captain Belcher], and a pretty pair of scamps they were. But Belcher has an astonishing mind & a vast genius. His Officers, who hated him, said that his varied acquirements & his energy & perseverance in every thing he undertook was really marvelous, but that he had no feeling for any human being in the world. Our Sweet Master, we are completely persuaded, is a grand humbug & a consummate fool.

p. 212-3, Honolulu October 1840: At 10, I finished & as happy to learn that all was well at Home & that my dates were as late almost as any one’s. Now the papers were to be read. Conversation was permitted & intelligence bandied about. Any thing of interest was screamed out for the benefit of all, and we had great & glorious rejoicing….

p. 220, Jan 23, 1841 towards Samoa: Sam Nox & I have nothing to do from morn till night, but to stare at each other, & to talk about any and every thing, but we get weary staring, & we can’t talk for ever. Then we are puzzled. We can’t read—we have no books (they are too stingy to lend us any from the Peacock, though I paid $3.60 in Oahu for a lot of new ones, just come out, & bought by subscription for the Ship—now I can’t have any—that is provoking). We can’t write—we have nothing to write about, or else the Cabin is too wet.