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St George’s News - Waterlooville’s Parish Magazine

The Website for St George’s Church, Waterlooville and its Parish Magazine St George’s News

Festival 2017 issue

Alfred Thomas Osmond’s Diary and Letters

Continuing the series of diaries and letters of Alfred Thomas Osmond, relating to his sea voyage from Southampton to Calcutta and his early months in Calcutta, 1852-1853. Alfred Osmond was the son of Rosemary Monk’s Great great great Grandfather William, who was a stonemason at Salisbury Cathedral.


Friday Nov.26 1852

Still very warm. If this be winter, what can summer be! Coaling business still going on. Robert Davidson came on board at 12 and took Tiffin with us – showed him over the vessel and then I and Mr Brown (2nd officer) went ashore with him. Left our letters at the Consuls’, who also act as postmaster.  Mr Murray received us himself and introduced us to Mrs M. She is a first rate artist and the rooms are hung with her productions in watercolours. Portraits of Spaniards, showing various costumes of Peasantry and portraits of Otho, King of Greece and his Queen. View of the Peak, Teneriffe and sundry others. R Davidson obtained tickets for us to the Pit of Theatre, which in Spanish Theatres, ranks with the boxes – there is an intermediate seat between pit and boxes, answering to the English Pit. Left Mr Murray’s after looking at all of his pictures and took Brown for a stroll about town. There are a few horses here, - camels, oxen and donkeys are employed. Saw camels kneel to be loaded – camels and oxen wear bells round the neck. We entered the Theatre and found rehearsal going on. Very good theatre, about as large as the Adelphi in London. It is not quite finished – requires more interior decoration. Went again into the Church of the Conception. We called on Mr D and saw the cochineal insect (used for dying) in which he does a large business.

Returned to “Bentinck” to dinner at 3.30 – paid 2/-d for the boat. At 5.45 left the ship with Captain and Mrs B, Doctor and Brown. All went to the Consuls to tea. Met there Mr Cochrane, a Scotchman, an Officer of a Spanish Steamer which arrived today. Robert Davidson was also there. After tea all went to the Theatre. Our Scotch friend had engaged a box for himself and brother officers, - Mr Murray of course had one, so we moved as we pleased from Pit to Boxes in the course of the evening. Our captain and his lady remained in the Consul’s Box all the evening. French and Dutch Consuls were there also. We were all introduced to these worthies. Dutch Consul took some of our party to his house between the acts to drink wine. The “rank, beauty and fashion” as the papers say, mustered in strong force. It was a benefit night and a new piece was performed. Rather a bore to us it proved, as we could not understand a word and the time between the Acts was as long as the Acts themselves. Commenced about an hour later than the advertised time. I fancy this would not suit a London audience. Spaniards were very patient. Ballet followed the piece pretty well and concluded with a farce entitled “Matrimonial Agency” which I should imagine was very successful judging from the delight of the audience. Many handsome Spanish ladies were present. They were generally dressed in white - high dresses – all flourishing fans with much grace and dexterity. It appears to be quite an accomplishment to manage a fan properly.

 Number of Spanish Officers in full uniform, including some Generals. Also several ladies of rank. Between the acts gentlemen turnout of seats in Pit and Boxes and walk about corridors and passages smoking cigarettes. We left the Theatre at 12 o’clock and walked to the landing place with officers of the Spanish Steamer, and accompanied by our Consul. The Spanish Captain General (as the Governor of the Canaries is called) dislikes Englishmen, or rather dislikes our Consul, and refused permission for us to embark, though he allowed the Spaniards to do so. However we walked down arm in arm with the Spaniards and passed the gate unchallenged by the guard. Our Captain’s boat was waiting for us, so we got off all right, after bidding adieu to Mr Cochrane and the Spanish Officers. (The Captain General will leave the Island tomorrow in their steamer and everybody in Santa Cruz seems pleased at it. He is very unpopular). Had grog and paced the deck for an hour by moon light before turning in – a very pleasant day altogether. I begin to think that sailors have not much a bad time of it after all.

Saturday, November 27th.

The Spanish Captain General left the Island this morning – no particular ceremony attended his departure.  Not one of the Consuls (of whom there are 7 or 8) hoisted their colours nor was any salute fired. We watched the proceedings through our glasses from the “Bentinck”. Our Captain of course would not hoist our colours as we were refused permission to leave shore last night.

I went ashore at 12.45 with Capt. and Mrs B. and the doctor. Took captain to Mr Davidson’s office and introduced them. Called with Doctor on the Consul and again spent some time looking at Mrs M’s drawings. Captain and Mrs B. with their child and servant went to Laguna, a small town 5 or 6 miles inland, in a nondescript carriage and 4 horses (rather a seedy turnout) the best vehicle for hire in the place. Doctor and myself called on Mr Davidson to say goodbye and then went to see Mrs. D. at their country house. Spent an hour there, took lunch and returned to the ship at 4 to dinner. Captain returned about 7 o’clock. Coaling finished by 3 o’clock today, then busy until dusk washing the deck etc.

Sunday Nov. 28th

Left Santa Cruz at 7.30 this morning. Had capital view of the Peak as we were leaving. So our pleasant visit to Teneriffe is ended. English and Dutch Consuls hoisted their flags in honour of our departure. Passed the Grand Canary Island on our left (or port) side. Captain read Church service at 11 – could see the Peak of Teneriffe  distinctly until 4 o’clock, when we must have been at least 60 miles distant.

Monday Nov.29th

Fresh breeze this morning which renders it cool, average temperature today not much more than 70 degrees. Average speed about 7 miles an hour which we shall greatly exceed during the remainder of the voyage, as we are to use only 2 instead of 4 boilers. This will effect a saving of about 25 tons of coal per day! Captain is beginning to crowd all sail to make as much as possible for the loss of steam power. Played Backgammon with Doctor and chess with Captain this evening.

to be continued