The Diary of Philip Thomas Smith, on board the Royal Admiral en route for Van Diemen's Land (27 November 1831-8 April 1832)
- Usually Ships in 2 to 4 Weeks
Media: BOOK - paperback, 198 pages
Author: Ed. R. Fotheringham
Other: b&w photo, appendixesm index
Publisher: Australian Scholarly Publishing
Philip Smith (1800-1880), one of Tasmania's earliest settlers and later one of its best known, doesn't tell us why he left his career as a London lawyer, except (ambiguously) that he has been a 'wicked wight'. Racked with sea-sickness and contemptuous of the miserly and hot-tempered Captain with his incomprehensible Scot accent, he hated almost every minute of the 4 1/2 month journey.
Partly to keep himself sane, Smith kept detailed day-by-day notes and then rewrote them as witty, acerbic and entertaining account of his adventures. He chronicles everything from obsessing about the wind and their progress (or lack of it), to diversions to pass the time: a ceremony to mark crossing the equator; catching and eating shark; a sudden enthusiasm for chess amongst both those accommodated in the cabin and those in the steerage. He rejoices in dawns and sunsets, is exhilarated by lightning and wild weather, vividly describes a terrifying hurricane with the 'sea running mountains high and white as a field of snow', and occasionally helps the sailors pump out the ship which has sprung a small leak.
Smith clearly through himself much superior to his fellow travellers and grumbles that most of what he recorded about them was 'petty squabbling and disputes and pitiful sayings', but it is his close attention to the emotional complexity of everyone from the Captain to the individual sailors, cabin passengers to steerage servants, that, today makes his diary so rich and interesting.
Introduction: A lawyer's voyage to Van Diemen's Land by Richard Fotheringham
Note on this Edition
Diary of Philip Thomas Smith on board the 'Royal Admiral' en route for Tasmania 12 December 1831 - 8 April 1832
Appendix 1. Passengers and crew of the 'Royal Admiral'
Appendix 2. Nautical terminology