Darby Doyle’s Voyage to Quebec
by Thomas Ettingsall
From “The Dublin Penny
I tuck the road one fine morning in May, from
Inchegelagh, an’ got up to the Cove safe an’ sound.
There I saw many ships with big broad boords fastened
to ropes, every one ov them saying “The first vessel
for Quebec.” Siz I to myself, those are about to run
for a wager; this one siz she’ll be first, and that one
siz she’ll be first. I pitched on one that was finely
painted. When I wint on boord to ax the fare, who
shou’d come up out ov a hole but Ned Flinn, an ould
townsman ov my own.
“Och, is it yoorself that’s there, Ned?” siz I; “are
ye goin’ to Amerrykey?”
“Why, an’ to be shure,” sez he; “I’m mate ov
“Meat! that’s yer sort, Ned,” siz I; “then we’ll
only want bread. Hadn’t I betther go and pay my
“You’re time enough,” siz Ned; “I’ll tell you
when we’re ready for sea—leave the rest to me, Darby.”
“Och, tip us your fist,” siz I; “you were always
the broath of a boy; for the sake ov ould times, Ned,
we must have a dhrop ov drink, and a bite to ate.”
Many’s the squeeze Ned gave my fist, telling me to
leave it all to him, and how comfortable he’d make
me on the voyage. Day afther day we spint together,
waitin’ for the wind, till I found my pockets begin to
grow very light. At last, siz he to me, one day afther
“Darby, the ship will be ready for sea on the morrow—you’d
betther go on boord an’ pay your way.”
“Is it jokin’ you are, Ned?” siz I; “shure you tould
me to leave it all to you.”
“Ah! Darby,” siz he, “you’re for takin’ a rise out
o’ me. But I’ll stick to my promise; only, Darby,
you must pay your way.”
“O, Ned,” says I, “is this the way you’re goin’ to
threat me after all? I’m a rooin’d man; all I cou’d
scrape together I spint on you. If you don’t do something
for me, I’m lost. Is there no place where you
cou’d hide me from the captin?”
“Not a place,” siz Ned.
“An’ where, Ned, is the place I saw you comin’
up out ov?”
“O, Darby, that was the hould where the cargo’s
“An’ is there no other place?” siz I.
“Oh, yes,” siz he, “where we keep the wather casks.”
“An’ Ned,” siz I, “does anyone live down there?”
“Not a mother’s soul,” siz he.
“An’ Ned,” siz I, “can’t you cram me down there,
and give me a lock ov straw an’ a bit?”
“Why, Darby,” siz he (an’ he look’d mighty pittyfull),
“I must thry. But mind, Darby, you’ll have to hide
all day in an empty barrel, and when it comes to my
watch, I’ll bring you down some prog; but if you’re
diskiver’d, it’s all over with me, an’ you’ll be put on a
dissilute island to starve.”
“O Ned,” siz I, “leave it all to me.”
When night cum on I got down into the dark cellar,
among the barrels; and poor Ned every night brought
me down hard black cakes an’ salt meat. There I lay
snug for a whole month. At last, one night, siz he to
“Now, Darby, what’s to be done? we’re within
three days’ sail ov Quebec; the ship will be overhauled,
and all the passengers’ names call’d over.”
“An’ is that all that frets you, my jewel,” siz I;
“just get me an empty meal-bag, a bottle, an’ a bare
ham bone, and that’s all I’ll ax.”
So Ned got them for me, anyhow.
“Well, Ned,” siz I, “you know I’m a great
shwimmer; your watch will be early in the morning;
I’ll just slip down into the sea; do you cry out ‘There’s
a man in the wather,’ as loud as you can, and leave all
the rest to me.”
Well, to be sure, down into the sea I dropt without
as much as a splash. Ned roared out with the hoarseness
of a brayin’ ass—
“A man in the sea, a man in the sea!”
Every man, woman, and child came running up out
of the holes, and the captain among the rest, who put
a long red barrel, like a gun, to his eye—I thought he
was for shootin’ me! Down I dived. When I got my
head over the wather agen, what shou’d I see but a
boat rowin’ to me. When it came up close, I roared
“Did ye hear me at last?”
The boat now run ‘pon the top ov me; I was gript
by the scruff ov the neck, and dragg’d into it.
“What hard look I had to follow yees, at all at all—which
ov ye is the masther?” says I.
“There he is,” siz they, pointin’ to a little yellow man
in a corner of the boat.
“You yallow-lookin’ monkey, but it’s a’most time for
you to think ov lettin’ me into your ship—I’m here
plowin’ and plungin’ this month afther you; shure
I didn’t care a thrawneen was it not that you have my
best Sunday clothes in your ship, and my name in your
“An’ pray, what is your name, my lad?” siz the
“What’s my name! What i’d you give to know?”
siz I, “ye unmannerly spalpeen, it might be what’s
your name, Darby Doyle, out ov your mouth—ay,
Darby Doyle, that was never afraid or ashamed to own
it at home or abroad!”
“An’, Mr. Darby Doyle,” siz he, “do you mean to
persuade us that you swam from Cork to this afther
“This is more ov your ignorance,” siz I—“ay, an’
if you sted three days longer and not take me up, I’d
be in Quebec before ye, only my purvisions were out,
and the few rags of bank notes I had all melted into
paste in my pocket, for I hadn’t time to get them changed.
But stay, wait till I get my foot on shore; there’s ne’er
a cottoner in Cork iv you don’t pay for leavin’ me to the
marcy ov the waves.”
At last we came close to the ship. Everyone on board
saw me at Cove but didn’t see me on the voyage; to be
sure, everyone’s mouth was wide open, crying out,
“It’s now you call me loud enough,” siz I, “ye
wouldn’t shout that way when ye saw me rowlin’ like
a tub in a mill-race the other day fornenst your faces.”
When they heard me say that, some of them grew
pale as a sheet. Nothin’ was tawked ov for the other
three days but Darby Doyle’s great shwim from Cove
At last we got to Ammerykey. I was now in a quare
way; the captain wouldn’t let me go till a friend of his
would see me. By this time, my jewel, not only his
friends came, but swarms upon swarms, starin’ at poor
Darby. At last I called Ned.
“Ned, avic,” siz I, “what’s the meanin’ ov the boords
acrass the stick the people walk on, and the big white
boord up there?”
“Why, come over and read,” siz Ned. I saw in great
big black letters:—
THE GREATEST WONDHER IN THE WORLD!!!
TO BE SEEN HERE,
A Man that beats out Nicholas the Diver!
He has swum from Cork to Amerrykey!!
Proved on oath by ten of the crew and twenty passengers.
Admittance Half a Dollar.
“Ned,” siz I, “does this mean your humble sarvint?”
“Not another,” siz he.
So I makes no more ado, than with a hop, skip, and
jump, gets over to the captain, who was now talkin’ to
a yallow fellow that was afther starin’ me out ov
“Ye are doin’ it well,” said I. “How much money
have ye gother for my shwimmin’?”
“Be quiet, Darby,” siz the captain, and he looked
very much frickened. “I have plenty, an’ I’ll have
more for ye iv ye do what I want ye to do.”
“An’ what is it, avic?” siz I.
“Why, Darby,” siz he, “I’m afther houldin a wager
last night with this gintleman for all the worth ov my
ship, that you’ll shwim against any shwimmer in the
world; an’, Darby, if ye don’t do that, I’m a gone
“Augh, give us your fist,” siz I; “did ye ever hear
ov Paddies dishaving any man in the European world
“Well, Darby,” siz he, “I’ll give you a hundred
dollars; but, Darby, you must be to your word, and
you shall have another hundred.”
So sayin’, he brought me down to the cellar.
“Now, Darby,” siz he, “here’s the dollars for
But it was only a bit of paper he was handin’ me.
“Arrah, none ov yer tricks upon thravellers,” siz I;
“I had betther nor that, and many more ov them,
melted in the sea; give me what won’t wash out of my
“Well, Darby,” siz he, “you must have the real
So he reckoned me out a hundred dollars in goold.
I never saw the like since the stockin’ fell out ov the
chimly on my aunt and cut her forred.
“Now, Darby,” siz he, “ye are a rich man, and ye
are worthy of it all.”
At last the day came that I was to stand the tug.
I saw the captain lookin’ very often at me. At last—
“Darby,” siz he, “are you any way cow’d? The
fellow you have to shwim agenst can shwim down
watherfalls an’ catharacts.”
“Can he, avic?” siz I; “but can he shwim up
An’ who shou’d come up while I was tawkin’ to the
captain but the chap I was to shwim with, and heard all
I sed. He was so tall that he could eat bread an’ butther
over my head—with a face as yallow as a kite’s foot.
“Tip us the mitten,” siz I, “mabouchal,” siz I;
“Where are we going to shwim to? What id ye think if
we swum to Keep Cleer or the Keep ov Good Hope?”
“I reckon neither,” siz he.
Off we set through the crowds ov ladies an’ gintlemen
to the shwimmin’ place. And as I was goin’ I was
thript up by a big loomp ov iron struck fast in the ground
with a big ring to it.
“What d’ye call that?” siz I to the captain, who
was at my elbow.
“Why, Darby,” siz he, “that’s half an anchor.”
“Have ye any use for it?” siz I.
“Not in the least,” siz he; “it’s only to fasten
“Maybee you’d give it to a body,” siz I.
“An’ welkim, Darby,” siz he; “it’s yours.”
“God bless your honour, sir,” siz I, “it’s my poor
father that will pray for you. When I left home the
creather hadn’t as much as an anvil but what was sthreeled
away by the agint—bad end to them. This will be
jist the thing that’ll match him; he can tie the horse
to the ring while he forges on the other part. Now,
will ye obleege me by gettin’ a couple ov chaps to lay
it on my shoulder when I get into the wather, and I
won’t have to be comin’ back for it afther I shake hands
with this fellow.”
Oh, the chap turned from yallow to white when he
heard me say this. An’ siz he to the gintleman that
was walkin’ by his side—
“I reckon I’m not fit for the shwimmin’ to-day—I
don’t feel myself.”
“An’, murdher an’ Irish, if you’re yer brother,
can’t you send him for yerself, an’ I’ll wait here till
he comes. An’ when will ye be able for the shwim,
avic?” siz I, mighty complisant.
“I reckon in another week,” siz he.
So we shook hands and parted. The poor fellow
went home, took the fever, then began to rave. “Shwim
up catharacts!—shwim to the Keep ov Good Hope!—shwim
to St. Helena!—shwim to Keep Clear!—shwim
with an anchor on his back!—oh! oh! oh!”
I now thought it best to be on the move; so I gother
up my winners; and here I sit undher my own hickory
threes, as independent as anny Yankee.