John Barleycorn HTML version
When the Snark sailed on her long cruise from San Francisco there was nothing to drink
on board. Or, rather, we were all of us unaware that there was anything to drink, nor did
we discover it for many a month. This sailing with a "dry " boat was malice aforethought
on my part. I had played John Barleycorn a trick. And it showed that I was listening ever
so slightly to the faint warnings that were beginning to arise in my consciousness.
Of course, I veiled the situation to myself and excused myself to John Barleycorn. And I
was very scientific about it. I said that I would drink only while in ports. During the dry
sea-stretches my system would be cleansed of the alcohol that soaked it, so that when I
reached a port I should be in shape to enjoy John Barleycorn more thoroughly. His bite
would be sharper, his kick keener and more delicious.
We were twenty-seven days on the traverse between San Francisco and Honolulu. After
the first day out, the thought of a drink never troubled me. This I take to show how
intrinsically I am not an alcoholic. Sometimes, during the traverse, looking ahead and
anticipating the delightful lanai luncheons and dinners of Hawaii (I had been there a
couple of times before), I thought, naturally, of the drinks that would precede those
meals. I did not think of those drinks with any yearning, with any irk at the length of the
voyage. I merely thought they would be nice and jolly, part of the atmosphere of a proper
Thus, once again I proved to my complete satisfaction that I was John Barleycorn's
master. I could drink when I wanted, refrain when I wanted. Therefore I would continue
to drink when I wanted.
Some five months were spent in the various islands of the Hawaiian group. Being ashore,
I drank. I even drank a bit more than I had been accustomed to drink in California prior to
the voyage. The people in Hawaii seemed to drink a bit more, on the average, than the
people in more temperate latitudes. I do not intend the pun, and can awkwardly revise the
statement to "latitudes more remote from the equator;" Yet Hawaii is only sub-tropical.
The deeper I got into the tropics, the deeper I found men drank, the deeper I drank
From Hawaii we sailed for the Marquesas. The traverse occupied sixty days. For sixty
days we never raised land, a sail, nor a steamer smoke. But early in those sixty days the
cook, giving an overhauling to the galley, made a find. Down in the bottom of a deep
locker he found a dozen bottles of angelica and muscatel. These had come down from the
kitchen cellar of the ranch along with the home-preserved fruits and jellies. Six months in
the galley heat had effected some sort of a change in the thick sweet wine--branded it, I