Master of Desolation: The Reminiscences of Capt. Joseph J. Fuller.

An informal account of a whaleman and two of his sealing voyages to the Kerguélen Islands, the first fairly routine [aboard Roswell King, 1873-75], the second a shipwreck [Pilot’s Bride, 1880-83] and a difficult period of survival there. He clearly was not a great reader but there are a few references.

p. 24: Arriving at this place [Pot Harbor] we found the bark Dove and the schooner Exile of New London. Our reasons for going to this place were to see about some provisions. We let go anchor there and laid over for a week. During that time we did not do much to speak of. We were aboard of the Dove and Exile and got some books and papers in exchange for some that we had read. At the end of the week we weighed anchor and headed for Three Island Harbor.

p. 67-8, on a visit to a British ship at Carpenter’s Harbor, Fuller was treated very well because of George Nares knowledge and praise of Fuller as an authority on navigation in the Kerguélens, and received a fine dinner aboard the Volage: I thanked him very much [Captain Fairfax] and he added that he had several different charts of the island and a book concerning the cruise of the Challenger in the South Seas. He said that they were sent me through him by his government. I told him that I felt highly honored for the forethought exhibited by Captain Nares of the Challenger. I would be only too glad to accept the charts, etc., sent by the British government. I had often expressed a wish to Captain Nares to come in possession of some authentic chart relative to the island. He [Captain Fairfax] delivered a package to me, saying that it contained the charts and book.

p. 106, Cape Town was the usual port for Kerguélen whalers and Fuller describes it here: After satisfying myself with the museum I went to the library. This is a public one and any one is admitted gratis. They have quite a number of very fine paintings in it, and a very large and fine assortment of books. They receive newspapers and magazines. In fact they have periodicals from all parts of the globe. I picked up a copy of the Detroit Free Press and had quite an interesting moment to myself. The attendance at the library was a good many. Hearing the hour of 3.30 P.M. struck, I had entered here for a good three hours without noticing it any, having been so interestingly absorbed in what the museum and library offered to view.

p. 179-80, Capt. Fuller wanted to leave a notice on another island in hopes a vessel would find it and know of their whereabouts, but the problem was writing paper: Then I told the men that I did not have no writing paper and asked them what I should use to write the letter on. Then Carroll, Melrose, Odell [and] Cape Town Jack [the near-mutinous rebels of the crew] said, ‘Captain, the steward has some writing paper and will make him give you all you want. If he will not give it to you we know where he keeps it and we will take it by force.’ The next morning after breakfast the men called the steward out of the house. When they had him outside they all got around him [and] Carroll said, ‘Steward, we want some writing paper.’
The steward said ‘Carroll, you cannot have a damn sheet of my paper.’
‘Look here, steward, you say you will not give none of your paper to us; well, give it to the captain. What is the good of your paper to you I should like to know?’
‘Well, you can not have it, Carroll, for I want to keep a journal myself.’
‘Well, steward,’ said Carroll, ‘if you do not give Captain Fuller all the paper that he wants we will take it all from you for it as much for your benefit as it is for ours.’
‘Well,’ said the steward, ‘I think it mighty hard that a man cannot do what he likes with his things.’
Then that all had some thing to say which was not very complementary to him. However, the next day the steward came to me and gave me two sheets of paper and offered to give me more if I want it but I told him that was sufficient for my use. But that did not save his paper or his journal that he had begun to keep, for sometime after he gave me the two sheets of paper I wanted some to make a small journal so I asked him for some. He said, ‘Yes captain, you can have all you want,’ so he went to his bag to get me some but he could find no paper. He turned around to me and said, ‘Then dam cursers has stoled every sheet of paper that I had!’
I was in no doubt but I knew the parties that had taken the paper so one day I asked one of the men. He said yes he was one of the parties that had taken the paper. I asked him why he had done it. He said, ‘Captain, you ought to have read the journal he was keeping. He was giving everyone the devil and my word giving old man Chipman the devil’s own raking over and we did not [want] him to be writing a damn lot of stuff about us.’