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3-109 (Original)

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author,male,Diaper, William*,35 addressee
Narrative Discourse
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Public Written
Emilsen, 1999
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I William Diaper, (alias J. Jones, J. Osborne, J. Jackson, Feejee (Fiji) Jack, Caladonien Jack) this day sit down to write something, not knowing what else to do with myself, and knowing still less what to write about; but let that be as it may, I intend to write, to use a vulgar saying, just as the maggot bites, and hit or miss, slash, gutter, strike out, right and left, in my own style, and risque [risk] all consequences; and perhaps by so doing I may take the fancy of the harem-scarem, dare-devil portion of the community (for whom I in particular write) and thereby secure to myself some little praise if less profit. I dare say the whole narrative will be tinged according to the different moods I may be in, - sometimes bearing the impress of the most desponding melancholy, and at other times elevated to the highest degree: for, be it understood, that, I am one of those unfortunate characters, who are elevated at the most trifling success, or depressed, at times, by the most trivial mishap. Perhaps the contents of the bottle may also exercise its influence, according as it looks up - pretty full or rather low. At surmounting difficulties, however, which I conceive to be of moment, I have always found my heart to be even too large for my body.
This narrative I intend being a continuation of the adventures of my life which I wrote for Captain Erskine of H.M.S. Havannah in 1850 (who I believe is now Aide-de-Camp to H.B.M.). That part commencing at my birth (1820) and reaching till about 1844 (or perhaps 1846), is now in print and called 'Jackson's narrative'. I wrote it on board the Havannah, during the time I was interpreter for the South Seas; I having been transferred from H.M.S. Fly, into the Havannah, as an interpreter-general. [2] 
I have now before me 15 years unwritten, (i.e.), from 1844 till 1859; almost every month of which time have been fraught, more or less, with adventure, hair-breadth 'scapes, among shipping, different colonies, gold diggings, islands, and their savage inhabitants, besides many other things, too numerous to particularise here and perhaps it may be 20 years as I don't know what I am bound to yet go through.
In my first narrative, I gave an account of my birth (1820) and parentage, who were of the middling class of people; education, which ought to have been good, had I been the kind of youth to have received it, all my school adventures, which weren't a few, I can assure you, when I was, at every School I went to, pronounced to be the worst boy of the hundreds of my schoolmates.
Then came a series of voyages or trips in coasters, travels in the Australian Colonies, different situations for short periods - very short periods - a description of whaling trips or cruises; piracy; and if I omitted the men-of-war, it was in consequence of my being, then, on board one of the Queen's ships, and not being willing to expose myself, or paint myself as black as I really was; or perhaps I was afraid of being claimed as a deserter, as I did not thoroughly understand the nature of 'general service', or whether I had in that way or not, I scarcely knew, as very little troubled me, excepting getting out of a hobble as fast and as well as I could, which I am bound to confess, as I mean telling the whole truth, happened almost every day.
When I wrote before, I did it with a kind of restraint on account of the situation I held, for a short time, in government; but now it will be entirely different, as I am a complete outcast here, on this island, and I don't know whether I ever shall be blunted well enough to face civilization again; therefore, I shall tell a straightforward, unvarnished, truthful tale; just as every thing happened, not attempting to make myself noble, generous, brave, on the one hand, or mean and despicable on the other; although I dare say I shall appear to have possessed all of those qualities in a degree at times; and so if my character can be defined from so many contradictory qualities, it's more than I have myself ever been able to do: and I am quite indifferent to the result! [3] [4] [5]
I write for amusement. If I gain anything by it, it will be a lucky job for me: if not I don't know as I have lost anything. I shall get as much as I got for the first part, which was nothing at all, although I hear that it is now fetching 20 shillings the volume; (or perhaps my 'narrative' is merely an insertion in a work that Captain Erskine had published from various sources, which he collected when he commanded the Havannah, whilst in commission, on the South Sea Station). I wish it to be understood, that I merely mention this as a passing fact, not blaming Captain Erskine at all for any neglect: in fact, I am in duty bound to acknowledge that he interested himself more in my cause than I did myself. I don't suppose that he even knows that I am still alive. He offered me very kindly to go to England in the ship, and continue writing till I had finished; and then he promised to have it published in numbers, by some eminent London bookseller, with whom he said he was acquainted, for me; but I left him in Sydney, being desirous of proceeding on to the Californian gold-mines, at that time, all the rage.
If ever this book or books (as I intend to write plenty) should merit any readers, I hope they will be as sparing with their criticisms as possible, and just consider whether anything, in a literary point of view, can be expected from a man of my description; who has been, alternatively, for these last twenty years, and upwards, (the best and ripest part of a man's life,) sailor, gold-digger, beachcomber, outlaw etc. and all those kind of (I was going to say) pursuits - God forgive me! [6]
The only wonder is, even to myself, that I know how to form a single letter. And, I hope they will consider also, that, I labour under every disadvantage. At this present moment, here I am, jammed up, with a parcel of Kanaka children, perpetually prattling around me. I have no white face to look upon! I have not a book, of any description; much less, such books as are requisite for references, such, at least, as a geography or a grammar. I have not even a small edition of Johnson, and so the mistakes, in the geographical, grammatical, and orthnographical departments, may all be easily accounted for. The very paper I am writing upon I happened to drop across quite unexpectedly and the ink I am obliged to invent myself.
I never should have thought of such a thing as writing, if it had not been put into my head by Captain Erskine, in the first place - but on second thoughts, I don't see why as beggars' biographies are written now-a-days, I should allow my adventures and exploits to sink into oblivion; and more especially, as they happened in such outlandish, and, till lately, so little known parts of the world - for instance - New Caladonia, it being one of my principal fields of adventure. And besides, very lately, between three and four years ago, Captain Cannot [Conneau], author of Twenty years a slaver, when he was Captain of the port, at the Port-de-France, New Caladonia, sent word, several times, to me, whilst I was further down the west coast (Kone) to come up and write and he would pay me well for it.
In respect to other mistakes - such as dates and localities - I shall not be able to tell to months or miles, because I write entirely from memory, I having been many times in such straits as not to be able to return even the shirt I had upon my back, to say nothing of note books - in fact, I was very thankful, scores of times, to keep possession of my head; but still I shall not be out years and not many miles I feel confident. [7] My last narrative was entirely from memory.
The reason I wrote under a fictitious name before, was, merely, a matter of precaution; it having been my misfortune, through life, as I endeavoured to extricate myself from one difficulty, the morel became entangled in the meshes of another. I became notorious; and when I found it utterly impossible to redeem my good name, I became, not only, quite indifferent, but even, at last, to exult in being a character, anything but insignificant, although diametrically opposed to good.
I never was thought a very bad man by those who had ability to appreciate me; it was only the low-live, riff-raff, scum; who come about some of these islands and have the audacity, not only, to class themselves with me, but even to hold up their doings as examples for me, because they have not the spirit to imitate mine. This description includes some of the masters of ships, who vauntingly call themselves, and always expect to be called, Captains - not by courtesy, but they try to exact it as their right. I mean the masters of these traders.
Some people may perhaps think, I have a deal of presumption to turn author. I am fully aware of the fifty different kinds of difficulties attending book writing, and also of the hundreds of deficiencies existing within myself. One thing, I wish to impress is, that whenever it is completed, that I know well, beforehand that I have, not only neglected to do the justice, which the work would have met with, if written by a person acquainted with the art of book writing; but, I have also neglected to do justice to myself, which I ought to deserve, if it was not, that I am, by nature, so infernally careless - and so those who wish to read it must take it as they find it.
This may appear a strange way of introducing a book to the public, but I hope the public will make all allowance, when I tell them, that I have been always counted a strange fellow - a very strange fellow indeed - wherever I have been; and I have been to a few places - having been on the perpetual move for nearly 40 years, now. [8]
After getting paid in the Havannah, I was ordered to wait a while and they would make out my certificate, but lime-juice time coming on directly after, and finding that mine was stopped, (according to the rules of the service, I suppose) I immediately hurried down into Old Shelly's bumboat, - which was then alongside - and purchased for myself, a good quantity of ginger-beer, soft-tack, and some good Wollongong butter, and sat myself down, inviting old Jack Smith - a regular old sea dog and messmate, as well as my washerman - and took a feed independent of the Service, and a great deal better than she generally allows, and then repaired on shore with my things, without waiting for certificates, discharges, recommendations, or any thing else.
It is well known, that when I left the Feejees - some five or six years before - or at least it will be, when I have told you all - that I left one of those many names, which I have - from first to last - gone by, behind me - that one was 'Feejee Jack'. Now, in leaving Caledonia, it is quite natural that I should leave 'Caledonia Jack' behind too. I wish to dispose satisfactorily of all these surplus purser's names of mine, and honestly prove that, in me, there is no screw loose, as many have often supposed. I changed my proper name - 'Wm. Diaper' - whilst a mere youngster - a whimsical freak of boyish fancy one day coming over me, and wishing to ape the sailor, and knowing the sobriquet or nickname of 'John' was 'Jack' and thinking that 'Bill' didn't sound to me as crack a sailor as 'Jack' - I called myself 'J. Jones'.