Being roused by constant shaking, I changed my wet clothes and went on deck to resume my duty.
It is customary at sea for the log slate to be handed to the officer who has charge of the log book to transfer the entries from the one to the other; after which the slate has to be cleaned and hung up in its usual place under the companion hatchway for the entries of the ensuing watch. When the second officer had made his entries therefore, he cleaned that side of the slate, but on turning to the other, he found some verses there, which he knew to be in my handwriting, and he brought the slate to me, to know whether this might be cleaned off also. I was perfectly amazed at what I saw; the writing was certainly mine: and the words forming the heading of the verses, "Starboard watch, ahoy!" I well remembered as having caused me a thrill of inexpressible delight; but of the lines that followed, I had not the most distant recollection. They had emanated, it was clear, from my brain, and expressed no doubt the genuine feelings of the moment: but I was as utterly unconscious of their being written by me, as a clairvoyant in a mesmeric trance is of what has been said and uttered during its existence, after he has been awakened from it. The lines, however, were copied by me from the slate, on paper, and when shown, after our return to England, to Mr. Dale, a music-seller in the Poultry, he thought they would become popular as a sea-song if set to music. He accordingly engaged Mr. Charles Horn, then a rising young composer, to execute this task. It was published by Mr. Dale,—had a good run,—was sung at several places of public entertainment,—and from a printed copy of the words and music now in my possession, I am able to present the following version of this unconsciously written effusion.