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Title: The Lieutenant and Commander
       Being Autobigraphical Sketches of His Own Career, from
              Fragments of Voyages and Travels

Author: Basil Hall

Release Date: November 8, 2005 [EBook #17032]

Language: English

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THE LIEUTENANT AND COMMANDER

BEING AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES
OF HIS OWN CAREER

FROM

FRAGMENTS OF VOYAGES AND TRAVELS

BY

CAPTAIN BASIL HALL, R.N., F.R.S.

Printer's Flower

LONDON:
BELL AND DALDY, 186, FLEET STREET,
AND SAMPSON LOW, SON, AND CO.
47, LUDGATE HILL.
1862.


PREFACE.

The present volume is rather a condensation than an abridgment of the later volumes of Captain Hall's "Fragments of Voyages and Travels," inasmuch as it comprises all the chapters of the second and third series, only slightly abbreviated, in which the author describes the various duties of the naval lieutenant and commander, the personal narrative being the framework, and his own experience in both capacities providing the details.

The editor has no hesitation in stating, after the careful perusal and analysis he has necessarily made of this work, and that, with a tolerably extensive knowledge of books, he knows of none which may, with more propriety, be placed in the hands of young men, whatever may be their destination in life; but more especially are they adapted for the use of young officers and all aspirants to a seaman's life. The personal narrative, slight though it is, renders it very amusing, and every point the author makes inculcates a rigorous attention to "duty" duly tempered with discretion and humanity in commanding officers.

Printer's Flower

CONTENTS.

PREFACE.

CHAPTER I.

Taking a line in the service—Duty of officers—The dashing boys—Dashing boys ashore—Philosophers afloat—Naval statesmen—Scientific officers—Hard-working officers—Poetical aspirants—Taking a line

CHAPTER II.

A sailor on shore—Irish hospitality—A sailor ashore—Irish factions—Irish scenery—Land-locked bay—Reflections and plans—An awkward dilemma—A retreat—A country party—A medical experiment—My reception

CHAPTER III.

Tricks upon travellers—Irish refinement—A wise resolve—After dinner—The second bottle—One bottle more—Second thoughts best—The game of humbug—The climax—You're off, are you?—A practical bull—Irish hospitality

CHAPTER IV.

The Admiralty List—Chances of promotion—The Admiral's list—My own disappointment—A good start—Homeward bound—A spell of bad weather

CHAPTER V.

The tropical regions at sea—Sir Nathaniel Dance—The old Indian ships—Social life at sea—Details of the voyage—The Canary Islands—The Trade-winds—Changes of climate—The variable winds—North-east Trades—Our limited knowledge—The great monsoons

CHAPTER VI.

The Trade-winds—The monsoons—Theory of the Trade-winds—Explanations—Tropical winds—Motion of cold air—Direction of clouds—Equatorial Trades—Calms and variables—South-east Trades—Application of theories—Atlantic winds—Monsoons of India—Trade-winds of the pacific—Monsoons of Indian seas—Velocity of equatorial air—Obstructions of the land—Horsburg's remarks—Dampier's essay

CHAPTER VII.

Progress of the voyage—Cape of Good Hope—Ships' decks in the tropics—Sweeping the decks—Marine shower-bath—Flying-fish—A calm—Ships in a calm—A tropical shower—Washing-day—Comforts of fresh water

CHAPTER VIII.

Aquatic sports—Weather wisdom—An equatorial squall—Flying-fish—A chase—The dolphin—Capture—Porpoises—Harpooning—The bonito—Dolphin steaks—Porpoise steaks—The albatross—Shark-fishing—A shark-hook—Habits of sharks—Seizing its prey—Flying at the bait—The shark captured—Killing the shark—The buffalo skin—A narrow escape

CHAPTER IX.

A man overboard—Crossing the line—Duty of officers—Rival Neptunes—A boy overboard—Affecting incident—A true-hearted sailor—Bathing at sea—A well-timed action—Swimming—A necessary acquisition—A man overboard—What should be done, and how to do it—Effects of precipitancy—Life-buoy—Regulations for emergencies—Managing the ship with a man overboard—Stationing the crew—Directing the boats

CHAPTER X.

Sunday on board a man-of-war—Mustering by divisions—The fourth commandment—Short services recommended—Order for rigging—Scrubbing and sweeping—Sunday muster—Jack's dandyism—Jack brought up with a round turn—Mustering at divisions—Inspection—The marines—Round the decks—The sick-bay—Lower deck—Below—Cockpit—The gun-room—Quarter deck

CHAPTER XI.

The ship church—Rigging the church—Short services recommended—Short sermons recommended—Religious duties necessary to discipline—Church service interrupted—The day of rest

CHAPTER XII.

Naval ratings and sea pay—Mustering clothes—Between decks on Sunday—Piping to supper—Mustering by lists—A seaman disrated and rerated—Ratings of seamen—Tendency to do right—Examining stores—Captain's duties—Clothes' muster—Responsibility—A sailor's kit—A sailor's habits—Mizen-top dandies—Hammocks—Piping the bags down—Pressing emigrants—A Scotchman's kit—Improved clothes' muster

CHAPTER XII.

Sailors' pets—Purchasing a monkey—Jacko's attractions—Gets monkey's allowance—Jacko and the marines—Jacko's revenge—Jacko turns on his friend—Spills the grog—Is pursued, but is pardoned—Condemned to die—Commuted to teeth-drawing—Surgeon's assistant appealed to—He can't bite—The travelled monkey—Trick on the marines—Its consequences—A potent dose—Its operations—Jack's superstitions—The grunter pet—Jean's advocate—Her good qualities—Jean's obesity, and its attractions—Her death and burial—Well ballasted

CHAPTER XIV.

Doubling the Cape—Southern constellations—Intelligent chief officer—Sailors and their friends—Parting company—The cape—Simon's town—A fresh breeze—Rising to a gale—All hands shorten sail—Value of experience to an officer—Taking in reefs—Taking in mainsail—Heaving the log—Before the gale—Effects of a gale—Value of a chronometer proved by the want of one—Awful catastrophe

CHAPTER XV.

Suggestions towards diminishing the number and severity of Naval punishments—Corporal punishment—The author's own case—An old shipmate—Admiralty regulations—Appeal to officers to avoid precipitation—Dangers of precipitation—Instance of its dangers—A considerate captain—A case for pardon—An obdurate officer—Pardon granted—Retrieving of character

CHAPTER XVI.

Bombay—First glimpse of India—Bombay and its scenery

CHAPTER XVII.

Sir Samuel Hood—Naval promotion—Hopes and their disappointment—An ant-hunt—The Admiral's triumph over the engineers

CHAPTER XVIII.

Excursion to Candelay lake in Ceylon—Starting of the expedition—Pearl-divers—A strange tunnel—Hindoo bathing—An amusing exhibition—A tropical forest—A night scene—An alarm—A supper—A midnight burial—Cingalese game—Lake Candelay and its embankment

CHAPTER XIX.

Griffins in India—Sinbad's valley of diamonds—A mosquito-hunt—Deep anchorage—Local names—Valley of diamonds—Ceylon gems

CHAPTER XX.

Ceylonese canoes—Peruvian balsas—The floating windlass of the Coromandel fishermen—American pilot-boats—Balsas of Peru—Man-of-war boats—Ceylonese canoes—Canoe mast and sails—Local contrivances—Construction of the balsa—Management of the sail—Indian method of weighing anchor—A floating windlass—Failure of the attempt—The Admiral's remarks—An interesting feat of mechanical ingenuity

CHAPTER XXI.

The surf at Madras—Sound of the waves—Masullah boats—Construction of the boats—Crossing the surf—Steering the boat—How a capsize in the surf occurs—Catamarans of the surf—Perseverance of the messenger

CHAPTER XXII.

Visit to the Sultan of Pontiana, in Borneo—Sir Samuel Hood—Borneo—A floating grove—Pontiana—Chinese in Borneo—The sultan and his audience room—Interior of the palace—The autograph—Anecdote of Sir S. Hood—Getting out of the trap—Sir S. Hood at the Nile—The Zealous and Goliath—Captain Walcott's disinterestedness—Sir S. Hood's kindness

CHAPTER XXIII.

Commissioning a ship—Receiving-hulk—Marines and gunners—Choice of sailors—The ship's company—Choice of officers—Stowing the ballast—Importance of obedience—Complement of men in ships of war—Shipping the crews—A Christmas feast afloat—A Christmas feast in Canton River—Self-devotion

CHAPTER XXIV.

Fitting out—Progress of rigging—The figure-head—Progressive rigging—The boats—Fitting out—Stowage of ships' stores—System requisite—Painting the ship—Policy of a good chief—Anecdote of Lord Nelson—Scrubbing the hulk—Leaving the harbour—Sailing

Printer's Flower

CHAPTER I.

TAKING A LINE IN THE SERVICE.

That there is a tide in the affairs of men, has very naturally become a figure of frequent and almost hackneyed use in the cockpits, gun-rooms, and even the captains' cabins of our ships and vessels of war. Like its numerous brethren of common-places, it will be found, perhaps, but of small application to the real business of life; though it answers capitally to wind up a regular grumble at the unexpected success of some junior messmate possessed of higher interest or abilities, and helps to contrast the growler's own hard fate with the good luck of those about him. Still, the metaphor may have its grateful use; for certainly in the Navy, and I suppose elsewhere, there is a period in the early stages of every man's professional life at which it is necessary that he should, more or less decidedly, "take his line," in order best to profit by the tide when the flood begins to make. It is difficult to say exactly at what stage of a young officer's career the determination to adopt any one of the numerous lines before him should be taken: but there can be little doubt as to the utility of that determination being made early in life. In most cases, it is clearly beyond the reach of artificial systems of discipline, to place, on a pair of young shoulders, the reflecting head-piece of age and experience; neither, perhaps, would such an incongruity be desirable. But it seems quite within the compass of a conscientious and diligent commanding officer's power by every means to cultivate the taste, and strengthen the principles and the understanding of the persons committed to his charge. His endeavour should be, to train their thoughts in such a manner that, when the time for independent reflection and action arrives, their judgment and feelings may be ready to carry them forward in the right path; to teach them the habit, for instance, of discovering that, in practice, there is a positive, and generally a speedy pleasure and reward attendant on almost every exercise of self-denial. When that point is once firmly established in the minds of young men, it becomes less difficult to persuade them to relinquish whatever is merely agreeable at the moment, if it stand in the way of the sterner claims of duty.

Although the period must vary a good deal, I should be disposed to say, that, in general, a year or two after an officer is promoted to the rank of lieutenant, may be about the time when he ought fairly and finally to brace himself up to follow a particular line, and resolve, ever afterwards, manfully to persevere in it. His abilities being concentrated on some definite set of objects; his friends, both on shore and afloat, will be furnished with some tangible means of judging of his capacity. Without such knowledge, their patronage is likely to do themselves no credit, and their protégé very little, if any, real service.

Some young fellows set out in their professional life by making themselves thorough-bred sailors; their hands are familiar with the tar-bucket; their fingers are cut across with the marks of the ropes they have been pulling and hauling; and their whole soul is wrapped up in the intricate science of cutting out sails, and of rigging masts and yards. Their dreams are of cringles and reef-tackles, of knots, splices, grummets, and dead-eyes. They can tell the length, to a fathom, of every rope in the boatswain's warrant, from the flying jib down-haul to the spanker-sheet; and the height of every spar, from the main-top-gallant truck to the heel of the lower mast. Their delight is in stowing the hold; dragging about kentlage is their joy; they are the very souls of the ship's company. In harbour they are eternally paddling in the boats, rowing, or sculling, or sailing about; they are always the first in fishing or bathing parties; in short, they are for ever at some sailor-kind of work. At sea, their darling music is the loud whistle of the hardest storm-stay-sail breeze, with an occasional accompaniment of a split main-topsail. "The harder it blows, and the faster she goes," the merrier are they; "strong gales and squally" is the item they love best to chalk on the log-board; and even when the oldest top-men begin to hesitate about lying out on the yard to gather in the flapping remnants of the torn canvas, these gallant youngsters glory in the opportunity of setting an example of what a gentleman sailor can perform. So at it they go, utterly reckless of consequences; and by sliding down the lift, or scrambling out, monkey fashion, to the yard-arm, where they sit laughing, though the spar be more than half sprung through, they accomplish their purpose of shaming the others into greater exertions. It is well known that one of the ablest, if not the very ablest, of the distinguished men whom the penetrating sagacity of Nelson discovered and brought forward, owed his first introduction to the notice of that wonderful commander by an exploit of this very description.

These are the dashing boys who cut out privateers, jump overboard after men who cannot swim, and who, when the ship is on fire, care not a farthing for the smoke and heat, but dive below with the engine-pipe in their hands, and either do good service, or perish in the flames with a jolly huzza on their lips. Such may fairly be called the muscular parts of our body nautical, for there is no gummy flesh about them; and when handled with skill, they form the stout instruments which help essentially to win such battles as the Nile and Trafalgar.

The young persons I have just been describing are, however, by no means servile imitators of the sailors; they possess much useful technical knowledge, as well as mere energy of character; and often both think and act with originality; yet they are docile to the last degree, and delight in nothing more than fulfilling, to the very letter, the orders of their superiors. They may amuse themselves, as youngsters, by affecting the gait, the dress, and the lingo of the man before the mast; and are at times supposed to be a little too familiar with these models, on whom they pretend to shape their manners; but still they never carry the joke so far as to become what is called "Jack and Tom," even with the leading men in the ship. They can sing, upon occasion, snatches of forecastle ditties, or fling off a hornpipe worthy of the merriest cracked fiddle that ever sounded under the bow of a drunken musician amongst a company, half-seas over, at the back of Point Beach. Not content with

"Their long-quartered shoes, check shirt, and blue jacket,"

they will even thrust a quid into their cheek, merely to gain the credit, such as it is, of "chewing backy like a sailor."

But there must be a limit to the indulgence of these fancies; and if even an elder midshipman or mate of the decks were permanently to distinguish himself after this masquerade fashion, he would speedily lose caste even with the crew. When a mid, for example, is promoted to lieutenant, he must speedily decide whether he shall follow up in earnest a course of strictly seaman-like objects, of which the mere outward show had previously captivated his young fancy; or he must enter into some compromise with himself, and relinquish a part of his exclusive regard for these pursuits, in consideration of others less fascinating, to be sure, but more likely to bear on his advancement; for, without some knowledge of many other things, his chance must be very small in the race of professional life.

In tolerably wide opposition of habits to these tarpaulin men follow the less dashing and showy race sometimes called "star-gazers," sometimes "dictionary-men," who are also occasionally taunted or dignified by their messmates with the title of "philosophers." The object of most of these young philosophisers is to get at the reason of all things, and to be able not only to work by the rules laid down for them in printed books, or in the written orders of their superiors; but to investigate the foundation of these rules and regulations so thoroughly, that when new cases occur, they may have it in their power to meet them by fresh resources of their own: according in spirit, with those which experience has shown to be conducive to the happiness of the crew and the efficiency of the service. Out of the class of officers now alluded to, the growth of which it has been the wise policy of late years to encourage, there have sprung up the numberless voyagers, surveyors, and other strictly nautical men, who are always to be found when the public service requires a practical question to be settled, or a professional office of responsibility and trust to be filled up. If the arctic circle is to be investigated by sea or by land, or the deserts of Africa traversed, or the world circumnavigated afresh, under the guidance of the modern improvements in navigation, the government at once calls upon such men as Parry, Franklin, Clapperton, Beechey,[1] to whom they can safely entrust the task.

From the same class, also, a valuable race of naval statesmen have been drawn. For a considerable number of years, the whole of the diplomatic duties of South America, as far as concerned the interests of England, were carried on by the naval commanders-in-chief. Who can forget how important a share of Lord Nelson's command, or, after him, of Lord Collingwood's in the Mediterranean, consisted of duties of a purely civil description? And it may be questioned if diplomatic history offers a more masterly specimen of address and statesman-like decision, as well as forethought, than was displayed by Captain Maitland, in securing the person of Buonaparte, not only without committing himself or his government, but without wounding the feelings of the fallen emperor. The case was, and ever must remain, unique; and yet the most deliberate reflection, even after the event, has not suggested anything to wish changed. Fortunate, indeed, was it for the reputation of this country that the delicate task fell to the lot of an officer possessed of such inherent vigour of character, and one so familiar with the practical exercise of his own resources, that difficulties which might have staggered ordinary minds vanished before his.

In so extensive a service as the Navy, accident might perhaps occasionally produce such men as have been named above; but it is very material to observe, that unless there existed, as a permanent body, a large class in the Navy, who follow the pursuits alluded to from taste as well as from motives of public spirit, and from whose ranks selections can be made with confidence at moments of need, such opportunities as those above alluded to might often be allowed to pass unprofitably. It is, moreover, important to recollect, that it is in these matters as in everything else where there is a great demand, and consequently a great supply, there will from time to time start up a master spirit, such as that of my lamented friend, the late Captain Henry Foster, to claim, even in the very outset of his career, the cheerful homage of all the rest. So far from the profession envying his early success, or being disturbed at his pre-eminent renown, they felt that his well-earned honours only shed lustre on themselves.

It is also very pleasing to observe the reciprocal feeling which belongs on such occasions to all rightly constituted minds. When Captain Foster, in 1828, then only lieutenant, received the Copley medal, the highest scientific honour in the gift of the Royal Society, it never occurred to him merely to hang it at his breast in solitary dignity, or to chuckle presumptuously at his own particular good fortune. So far from this, he thought only of the service; and proceeding straight to the Admiralty, he showed the medal, and declared modestly, but firmly, to their lordships, that he considered the honour only nominally bestowed upon himself, but essentially conferred upon the naval profession at large. This generous and manly appeal could not fail to make its due impression; and within the same hour, his commission, as commander, was signed, his appointment to a ship ordered, and a voyage of scientific research carved out for him. But I need not add how bitter a grief it is to those who were personally acquainted with this rising young officer, to think that so much knowledge—such useful talents—such unmatched zeal and industry—and such true love for science—all so fertile in promises of future service and renown—should have been lamentably quenched in a moment.

Besides the regular-built sailors, and the saltwater statesmen and philosophers, there is yet another set which greatly outnumbers both, and which, if comparisons must be made, equals, if it does not far exceed them in utility. I allude to that large and very important body of strictly professional persons who are not remarkable for anything in particular, unless it be for a hearty and uncompromising devotion to the service. Captains, it is to be feared, are generally too apt to consider these meritorious persons as less entitled to attention than their more showy companions; just as schoolmasters are, not unnaturally, disposed to devote most of their time to the cleverest boys, to the comparative neglect of those who cluster round the point of mediocrity. It may, however, be easily conceived that the persons least attended to, afloat as well as on shore, often stand more in need of notice and assistance than their gifted brethren, who are better able to make their own consequence felt and acknowledged; for it must not be forgotten that these honest, hard-working men actually perform the greater part of all the routine drudgery of the service, and perhaps execute it better than men of higher talents could do in their place.

The class amongst us who devote themselves to sober literary pursuits is necessarily very small; but that of the happy youths, who dream the gods have made them poetical, has many members, who "rave, recite, and madden round the ship," to their own (exclusive) satisfaction. Others there are who deal desperately in the fine arts of painting and music,—that is, who draw out of perspective, and play out of tune: not that the ability to sketch the scenes and phenomena continually passing before them is objectionable; I allude here to the pretenders to art. Their poor messmates can have little respect for these pretending Rembrandts and Paganinis; and the happiness of the mess would be considerably improved if authority were given to pitch every such sketch-book and every flute out at the stern-port.

Finally come the raking, good-looking, shore-going, company-hunting, gallivanting, riff-raff set of reckless youths, who, having got rid of the entanglement of parents and guardians, and having no great restraint of principle or anything else to check them, seem to hold that his Majesty's service is merely a convenience for their especial use, and his Majesty's ships a sort of packet-boats to carry their elegant persons from port to port, in search of fresh conquests, and, as they suppose, fresh laurels to their country.

Few men do anything well which they do not like; for the same reason, if an officer be capable of performing services really valuable, his success must arise from turning his chief attention to those branches of the profession which he feels are the most congenial to his peculiar tastes, and which experience has shown lie within the range of his capacity. Some officers deliberately act upon this, while the greater number, as may be supposed, adopt their line unconsciously. Still, it is the bounden duty of every well-wisher to the service to use the influence he possesses to lead the young persons about him to follow the true bent of their genius, and to select as a principal object of study the particular branch of the profession in which they are most likely to benefit themselves permanently.

I well remember, in my own case, the day, and almost the very hour, when these convictions flashed upon my mind. I then saw, for the first time, that unless I speedily roused myself, and "took my line" vigorously, the proper occasion might swiftly pass away. I was quite astonished how, up to that moment, I had seen so little of what now appeared so very palpable; every other consideration was instantly dismissed, and all minor vanities being shaken off like dew-drops to the air, I set resolutely about the attainment of my promotion, the grand object of every officer's ambition. But before describing how this important affair was put in train, I shall attempt a sketch of the kind of life I was leading about this period. In looking back to those days, and glancing the mind's eye along the intermediate years, I sometimes ask myself whether or not I should act very differently if permitted to make the voyage over again, under the guidance of experience bought by the practice of life. The retrospect, of course, offers some unavailing regrets; but still I can hardly believe that the result would, on the whole, have proved materially happier for myself.

Such being the case, I trust there is no unpardonable egotism in mentioning, in a work intended for young people, that one of my chief motives for bringing these Fragments of my life and adventures before them, is the hope of imparting to others, similarly circumstanced, a portion of that spirit of cheerfulness, and that resolute determination to make the most of things, which, after thirty years of activity and enjoyment in foreign climes, have landed me in perfect contentment at home.

FOOTNOTES:

[1] All gone since our author wrote. Now it looks for Osbornes, Maclures, and other names as trustworthy.

Printer's Flower

CHAPTER II.

A SAILOR ON SHORE.

It is a far easier thing to get into a house in Ireland than to get out of it again; for there is an attractive and retentive witchery about the hospitality of the natives of that country, which has no match, as far as I have seen, in the wide world. In other places the people are hospitable or kind to a stranger; but in Ireland the affair is reduced to a sort of science, and a web of attentions is flung round the visitor before he well knows where he is: so that if he be not a very cold-blooded or a very temperate man, it will cost him sundry headaches—and mayhap some touches of the heartache—before he wins his way back again to his wonted tranquillity.

I had not a single acquaintance in Ireland when first I visited that most interesting of countries: before leaving it, however, after about a year and a-half's cruising off and on their coasts, I was on pretty intimate terms with one family at least for every dozen miles, from Downpatrick on the east, to the Bloody Foreland on the west, a range of more than a hundred and twenty miles.

The way in which this was brought about is sufficiently characteristic of the country. I had inherited a taste for geology; and as the north of Ireland affords a fine field for the exercise of the hammer, I soon made myself acquainted with the Giant's Causeway, and the other wonders of that singular district. While engaged in these pursuits, I fell in with an eminent medical practitioner resident in that part of the country, a gentleman well known to the scientific world: he was still better known on the spot as the most benevolent and kindest of men. In no part of the globe have I made a more agreeable or useful acquaintance. During a residence of a week under the roof of this delightful person, he frequently urged me to make acquaintance with some friends of his, living also in the north of Ireland, but at the opposite angle. He was, in particular, desirous that I should see a family with whom he described himself as being very intimate, and who were then on a visit far in the west.

Influenced by the extreme earnestness of my worthy friend, who, indeed, would hardly let me stir from his house until I had promised to deliver, with my own hands, a letter of introduction to a lady alluded to, who, he assured me, would introduce me to the family with whom she was then living as a guest. I thought it rather an odd arrangement that a mere guest should introduce a stranger to another person's house: but I had already seen enough of the hearty hospitality of Ireland not to wonder at anything having a kind purpose in view. I therefore promised that, if at any time I could obtain leave of absence for a few days, the introductory letter should be delivered.

I did not discover, until long afterwards, the secret motive of my friend's anxiety that I should pay the visit in question, though, at the time alluded to, I was quite coxcomb enough to suppose that it all arose from personal consideration. It mattered little to me, however, to what the kindness was due; and, my leave having expired, I set off to the Endymion, of which I was then second lieutenant, with a firm resolution to avail myself of the first opportunity of visiting the persons to whom my excellent friend the doctor had given me an introduction. I had been so frequently absent before, that I expected to be fixed on board for a long time to come, and was therefore agreeably disappointed to discover that my brother-officers had formed so many pleasant acquaintances at Burncrana, a town on the banks of the magnificent Lough Swilly, that they were quite willing to remain on the spot, and to take upon their shoulders the extra duty which my renewed absence imposed upon them. I had only, therefore, to obtain the captain's permission for a fresh run. This was easily gained, for he was the most indulgent of mortals; and his only caution was, "Now, mind, don't you be falling in love with any of these Irish girls. It will be quite time enough for that when you are a post captain."

I promised to attend to his advice, and set out in the highest glee, wishing for no better sport than to try the firmness of my resolutions on this head, though, it must be confessed, I was fully more inclined to follow the precept enjoined upon me by another friend, who, by way of improving the captain's instruction, said,—

"Do take care what you are about when you mix with those fair and fascinating witches, and never hold yourself as heart-safe, unless you are in love with at least two of them at once!"

Off I went; but it matters not whether the course steered was to the east or to the west after leaving Londonderry: a letter of introduction in my pocket naturally determined my route; and, having hired a good stout horse, I strapped my valise behind, and set out on a fine summer's evening in quest of adventures. Yet I was in no respect prepared to find myself so soon in what appeared very like a field of battle. I had not proceeded twenty miles before I came to a village surrounded by troops, and guarded at the ends of its few streets by loaded cannon, with lighted matches smoking by their sides. A considerable encampment was formed on a slightly rising eminence near the village; and on the neighbouring ground, still farther off, might be seen large irregular groups of people, who, I learned, upon inquiry, were chiefly Orangemen, preparing for a grand ceremonial procession on this the 12th of July, the well-known anniversary of the battle of the Boyne. In order to resist this proceeding on the part of the Protestants, an immense multitude on the Roman Catholic side of the question were likewise assembled, and all the roads converging towards that quarter were lined with parties of men carrying sticks in their hands, flocking to the expected scene of action. The military had been called in to keep the peace, but the angry passions of the respective factions were so much roused, that even the precautions above described seemed hardly sufficient to prevent the threatened conflict.

As a matter of curiosity, I could have no great objection to seeing another such battle as the one I had witnessed near Corunna between those long-established fighting-cocks, the French and English; but to look on while honest Pat and Tim were breaking one another's heads upon abstract political grounds, and English soldiery interposing with grapeshot and fixed bayonets to make them friends again, was what I had no mind for. I tried, therefore, to extricate myself forthwith from this unhappy struggle; but my horse being tired, I was forced to sleep in a village which, for aught I knew, might be sacked and burned before morning; nothing occurred, however: nevertheless, I felt far from easy till out of reach of the furious factions; the strangest thing of all being that some quiet folks, a few miles distant, with whom I took breakfast, seemed scarcely to mind it, although the country round them was all on fire. From thence the course lay across a wild range of mountains, one of them having on its top a sheet of fresh water called Loch Salt. Nothing can be conceived more desolate or dreary than this part of the country; and as there were few inhabitants upon it at any time, and none at all at this moment, I had no small difficulty in making good my way. On coming nearer to the noble bay or lough, on the banks of which the country-seat of my unknown friends was to be found, the aspect of things changed as if by magic. A slight inequality in the ground concealed this "jewel in the desert," as it was often called, till the whole of its rare beauties could be seen to the greatest advantage. Even without the contrast of wild moors, the singular beauties of the spot claimed the highest admiration; but after such a preparative they appeared doubly grateful to the senses, and I put spurs to my horse, anxious to come nearer to such a delicious scene.

The mansion of my future friend, of which only partial glimpses could be caught now and then, was well guarded on every side by fine old trees, rising from the surface of carefully-dressed grounds, richly stocked flower-gardens, long and wide avenues, and graceful terraces, some of which reached to the very water's edge, along a delicate beach on which the ripple scarcely broke. This charming domain occupied a narrow spit of land, or promontory, jutting forwards into a landlocked bay, or arm of the sea, in which the water appeared to lie always asleep, and as smooth as if, instead of being a mere branch uniting with the stormy Atlantic, it had been some artificial lake. Nothing, indeed, which the most fertile imagination could suggest seemed to be wanting.

There was one extremely well-conceived device at this delightful spot, which I never remember to have seen anywhere else, though, there must often occur in other places similar situations in which it might be imitated. Not far from the house, but quite hid under a thickly-wooded cliff, overhanging a quiet bight or cove, about ten or fifteen yards across, lay a perfectly secluded pool, with a bottom of snow-white sand. It was deep in the middle, but shelved gradually to its margin, which rested on a narrow strip, or beach, of small round polished pebbles. This fringe, encircling the cove, was surmounted by a dry grassy bank, or natural terrace, reaching to the foot of the rock, the face of which was not merely perpendicular, but projecting so much that the top more than plumbed the edge of the basin. Along the sky-line there was drawn a fence or veil of briars, honeysuckles, and other impervious bushes, interspersed with myrtles, wild roses, and foxgloves, so thickly woven together, that all external view of this beau ideal of a bath was rendered impossible. The only access was by a narrow, steep, and winding path; and at the upper end was placed a high, locked gate, the key of which was in the exclusive charge of the ladies.

As I rode on, ignorant as yet of these and many other rich and rare beauties of this singular spot, and only admiring the general aspect of things, I began, for the first time, to reflect on the extreme awkwardness of my situation.

Here was I merely the bearer of an introductory letter to a lady, herself a guest in the house; and although it might have been allowable enough to have called to deliver such an introduction, had business or accident brought me to the neighbourhood, now it seemed rather a strong measure to travel fifty or sixty miles across a wild and disturbed country merely to pay a morning call. The inference that my intention was to make a visit of some duration, became inevitable; and I pictured to myself the string of explanations I had to give, which might, after all, not be followed by any invitation to remain. After long cogitations, I resolved to steal up to the house, if possible, unperceived; have my horse turned over to the groom, and my portmanteau stowed out of sight, and then to walk boldly up to the door, with a visiting-card in one hand, and my credentials in the other, to be delivered to the servant for the lady to whom the letter was addressed. I next proposed to stroll about the woods, to give time for any good things said of the bearer to work their way, hoping, by this rather clumsy manoeuvre, that by the time I returned to the house its inmates might be prepared to receive the stranger; and then, if their invitation to remain should happen not to be very pressing, I might pretend to be collecting specimens for my geological friends, and so make my escape; though, to own the truth, nothing was farther from my thoughts than geology.

In spite of these ingenious plans, I felt myself rather absurdly situated, and half wished I had not engaged at all in such an unpromising adventure. It seemed, however, too late to retreat, and therefore I jogged on, as earnestly hoping not to be detected as ever did any troops in advancing to the attack of a besieged fort.

What, then, was my speechless horror, on riding up the approach, to discover a cavalcade of not fewer than a dozen ladies and gentlemen bearing right down upon me from the house. Had it been a troop of French cuirassiers charging across the ground, and threatening annihilation to the unfortunate hack and his rider, I could not have been much more astounded. The master of the house was probably of the number; he would stop to inquire the business of the suspicious-looking stranger invading his territories. The person for whom I brought a letter, being an elderly lady, was not likely to be on horseback amidst a party of young folks. There would be a general halt ordered; while the poor new-comer, with his draggled horse and swollen valise indicative of anything but a hasty departure, would become the subject of a pleasant criticism to the quizzical dandies and young ladies of the party. Even when this scrutiny was over, what were they to do with their unexpected, self-elected companion? His horse was now too tired, and much too ugly at any time to accompany such gay palfreys as were prancing over the lawn; yet they could not, in common civility, leave a stranger adrift; nor could they accompany him back to the house, without breaking up their expedition for the day.

All this flashed through my mind in a moment, and left me in a dire dilemma. I pulled up my jaded nag, however, with such a jerk, that I well-nigh threw him on his haunches. Fortunately, a little unevenness in the ground hid me from the view of the advancing cavalry; and at the same critical instant I discovered an opening in the fence on one side. Without considering or caring whither it might lead, I turned my charger round, urged him forwards with whip and spur, and dashed into the gap as if I had been flying from the arm of justice, instead of making my escape from as companionable a set of people as ever breathed. Had any of the party detected the bashful fugitive, and given chase, he must have been caught; for the path into which I had fled terminated in a road leading to some farm offices, but with no opening beyond.

The awkwardness of my situation, which was already considerable, became greatly augmented by this ridiculous proceeding; and I heard the riders pass within twenty yards of my hiding-place, with the most unspeakable alarm lest any one of them should catch a glimpse of me nestling behind a cart of hay. I breathed freer when the last servant's horse crossed the ridge; and then, creeping from my hole, soon gained the stables adjoining the house, gave up my horse, secured the well-stuffed valise out of sight, and repaired, according to the original precious scheme, to the front door with my letter. I stood for five minutes with the knob of the bell in my hand, irresolute whether to go on with the adventure, or fairly to cut and run from it. At length, when the fatal pull was given, I listened to the sound, and felt myself what statesmen call "fully committed." There was now nothing left but to screw up my courage, as I best might, to meet the dangers and difficulties of the crisis.

There happened to be no one at home except the old lady, to whom my introduction was addressed, so that the plan succeeded very well; I forget now the details of the introduction, but I can never cease to remember the unbounded cordiality of the reception, not only from this excellent person, but from the master and mistress of the house, and all their assembled friends, showing how totally I had miscalculated the nature and extent of Irish hospitality. There were several elderly persons, then in the autumn of life, and several were very young folks, scarcely able to walk, who now count many "daughters and sons of beauty." There was a pretty equal admixture of Irish and English, amongst them several persons of rank; also one or two foreigners; besides much native wit, worth, and beauty, of the highest order, and all most delightfully set off by the graces and nameless enchantments of refined manners, and tasteful as well as useful accomplishments. I have rarely, if ever, seen in any part of the world so fascinating an assemblage of all that would render a country party agreeable as was here collected in one of the most out-of-the-way corners of Ireland. My worthy captain's advice was now thrown to the winds; and indeed any heart, aged twenty-two, must have been made of cast-iron to have resisted the rides and walks, the picnic dinners, the dances, and the music parties, and suppers, besides the infinitely varied round of other amusements, grave and gay, which contributed to render, and will for ever preserve, this nook of Ireland the true terrestrial paradise of my early days.

How the deuce I ever contrived to get out of the magic circle, I hardly know; but if I could only feel myself at liberty, without a breach of confidence, to give a few details of those hours, I would stake great odds on the side of the effect which the description of such a reality might produce, against the interest of the imaginary scenes in almost any romance.

I have already mentioned that the gentleman whose introduction I carried was most urgent for me to deliver the letter in person; but he gave no reasons for this anxiety; nor indeed was I then aware, that, besides his being an intimate friend, he was their family physician. While acting in this capacity, he had seen with regret how ineffectual his art had proved to alleviate the mother's sorrow caused by the recent loss of her favourite son. The young man had been in the Navy, and would have been about my own age and standing in the service. These accidental coincidences suggested to her judicious and kind-hearted friend, that as I, in some degree, resembled him in appearance and in manners, the poor mother's thoughts and feelings might possibly be diverted into a new channel, by the society of a person in so many respects similarly circumstanced to the child she had lost.

It so happened, fortunately for me, that the experiment completely succeeded—I hope and believe, to the mother's consolation. To me, of course, the reception I met with was matter of delight and astonishment; so much so, indeed, that I occasionally felt somewhat startled, and almost oppressed, with the sense of obligation imposed by such unusual and unmerited attentions.

The first explanation of the mystery is really so touching in itself, that I give it without reserve as I received it in a letter from this most excellent old lady, about six months after my first acquaintance with her, and just before I quitted England for the East Indies:—

"Once more adieu!" She concludes, "I must hope you will write to me often; let me constantly know how you proceed, and how I can address you; and recollect, you have received the freedom of this house. I believe I told you I had lost a son, a lieutenant in the Navy, and of superior talents. I therefore consider that Heaven has given you to my care in his place—and may the Almighty protect you!"

Printer's Flower

CHAPTER III.

TRICKS UPON TRAVELLERS.

A curious and vastly pleasing fashion prevails in that part of Ireland where I was so nearly bewitched as almost to forget my ship, my duties, and everything else, but beauty! When a party, such as I have been describing, had passed a certain time together, they seldom broke up entirely, but generally shifted, or emigrated in a body (flitted, I think they used to call it) to the house of some one of their number. Now and then various members of the group dropped off by the way, but their places were presently filled up by others, who soon found their way to the new hive when the well-known sounds of festivity were heard in the neighbourhood.

In this manner the party, into which I had been so kindly admitted, made several moves, with sundry losses and accessions to its numbers; and as every day rendered this life more and more grateful, I could scarcely bear to think of returning to the tame occupations and rugged society of the frigate, the duties of which had so recently been my greatest and most sincere delight. Meanwhile, since my good-natured captain, and still better-natured messmates, made no difficulties about this protracted absenteeism, I continued to involve myself deeper and deeper at every step. I failed not to perceive at times that I was getting into rather a dangerous scrape for a younger son and a young officer, who had yet to work his own way in the world. But as these reflections interfered rather impertinently with the enjoyments of the hour, they were crushed down, and kept out of sight as much as possible at that gay period.

What surprised me most, all this time, was the air of refinement and high polish in the Irish society amongst which I was thus casually thrown. I had previously entertained an idea that their hospitality, proverbial in all parts of the world, was of a rude and rather troublesome description. I found it, on the contrary, marked not only by the strongest lines of sincerity and kindness, but by many of those delicate touches of consideration for the feelings of others which form the most indubitable symptoms of genuine good-breeding.

Instead of discovering that the stories were true about the sort of compulsion used in matters of drinking, I can safely say that, during the course of experience in joviality I went through in the north of Ireland, I seldom met with anything at a gentleman's table approaching even to exigence on this score. I do not deny that our friends the Irish have a wonderfully winning way of insinuating their good cheer upon us, and sometimes of inducing us to swallow more claret than is perhaps good for us.

I landed once at Burncrana, a pretty quiet little village, with a watering-place look, on the eastern banks of that great and beautiful bay Lough Swilly. One side of this fine harbour is formed by the bold promontory of Inishowen, celebrated in every land for its noble whiskey, second only (which, as a Scotchman, I am bound to assert) to Ferntosh or Glenlivet. I was accompanied by an English gentleman, on the first day of his landing in Ireland. As he then seriously imagined the inhabitants to belong to a sort of wild and uncouth race, I could see he was rather surprised at the gentleman-like deportment of an acquaintance of mine resident on the spot, for whom he had brought a letter. We had walked together to his house, or rather cottage, for he was not a fixed resident, but came there for summer quarters. The neatness, and even elegance, of the domestic arrangements of his temporary establishment, both without and within the dwelling, gave token of a taste many degrees removed from the state of people far back in civilization. Presently the ladies came; and their national frankness, modified by the most entire and unaffected simplicity, puzzled my friend completely. In due season the dressing-bell sent us off to prepare for dinner; and while we were getting ready, my companion said, "I see what this fellow is at: he means to sew you and me up. You may do as you please; but I'll be shot if he plays off his Irish pranks on me. I will eat his dinner, take a couple of glasses of his wine, make my bow to the ladies, go on board by eight or nine o'clock, and, having given them a dinner in return, shall have done my duty in the way of attention; after which I shall totally cut the connection. I have no idea of their abominable fashion of forcing strangers to drink."

"We shall see," said I; and having knocked the dust off our shoes, down we went to dinner.

Everything was plain, and suitable to the pretensions of a cottage. There was no pressing to eat or drink during dinner; and in process of time the cloth was removed, the Ladies sipped a little sweet wine, and disappeared.

"Now for it," whispered my friend; "he has sent the women out of the way, that he may ply us the better."

And I must own things looked rather suspicious; for our host, instead of sitting down again at the dinner-table, walked to a bow-window overlooking the anchorage, and exactly facing the setting sun, at that hour illuminating the whole landscape in the gorgeous style peculiar to combined mountain and lake scenery. "Why should we not enjoy this pleasant prospect while we are discussing our wine?" said the master of the house. At that instant the door opened, and in walked the servant, as if he knew by intuition what was passing in his master's head.

"Tim," said our host, "put the card-table here in the bow-window, and give us some other glasses; also, if you have such a thing, bring up a bottle of claret."

Tim nodded, smiled, and made the fitting adjustments. The table was barely large enough to hold a noble long-corked bottle, for the fashion of claret decanters had not as yet reached that remote district of the empire. Round the margin was placed the necessary accompaniment of capacious glasses—famous tall fellows, with such slender stalks that they seemed scarcely equal to the weight of their generous load.

My friend and I exchanged glances, and I could see his shoulders slightly raised, as if he was saying internally, "Now we are in for it! but I will not drink a drop more than I choose." The claret, which in itself was most delicious, was cooled in perfect style. The party consisted, I think, of four or five persons, and this one bottle, I remember, just passed round the group twice. As the flavour of the beverage appeared to have become more exquisite at the second turn than at the first, though but a short interval had been allowed to elapse, it seemed odd that another bottle was not instantly called for. Instead of this our landlord went on expatiating on the beauties of the Lough, and the fineness of the season in general, and the sunset in particular, for full five minutes after the wine had disappeared; when he suddenly said, with a half-hesitating tone, towards my English friend, who sat at his elbow——

"I beg your pardon! perhaps you would take some more wine?"

As no one made any objection, the bell was rung, and Tim re-appeared, bearing with him another bottle. This likewise vanished in a trice, and Tim was again summoned. "Bring some more claret," said the master to the man, or rather boy, as he was called, though twice as old as any of the party.

At this instant I caught my companion's eye; and I could see he was becoming alive to the plot against him, so much so, indeed, that he seemed to be preparing to rise. The following conversation, however, attracted his attention, and fixed him to his seat. "Well, Tim, what are you gaping at? Why don't you run for the clar't?"

"I didn't know," replied the other, "whether you'd like to use the whole of it."

"Use the whole of it!" exclaimed his master—"what does the boy mean? Why, Tim, what are you at?"

"Oh, sir," quoth the well-instructed rogue, "as the wine you brought was but little, I thought you might not wish to use it all entirely to-day." And then he whispered something in his master's ear, the words of which we could not distinguish. The reply, however, showed, or seemed to show, what had been said. "Nonsense, Tim, nonsense! you're an ass, man; bring it up."

Tim accordingly disappeared, but soon returned with a basket apparently full of straw; at the bottom of which, however, after some considerable show of hunting, a couple of bottles were said to be found. "Confound you, Tim, is this all?" said the host.

"It is, sir," lied Tim; "and in faith, sir," added he, still lying, "it's one more bottle than I thought; for there was but a dozen when we started from Derry a week ago; and you know, sir, you and the collector on last Tuesday"

But the catalogue of circumstances which were intended to act as buttresses to Master Tim's inventions was cut short by a peremptory order to leave the room. This he did so soon as he had made a circumbendibus to escape notice, and deposited the basket behind his master's chair, muttering, as he put it down with a thump, "There's a couple of bottles of as good wine as ever was uncorked."

The fresh broach was indeed so delicious that we could hardly believe it was of the same vintage as that of the previous bin, though our host assured us it was "the identical." Tim's basket well merited a higher eulogium than he had given it; but while his reputation as a judge of wine rose, his character for veracity fell in about the same proportion, since we beheld, in due season, not merely two, but three, and at last a fourth long-necked gentleman from Bordeaux emerge from under the straw!

The trick played upon us by these confederates was now apparent enough; but the wine, fortunately, was of that light and pure kind which does not produce much effect on strong heads, and that of my companion was proof against far greater trials than this. He was indeed perfectly aware of what was passing; and though dearly loving the wine, which was superior to any he had ever before tasted, yet he had no notion of being made tipsy by means of a common-place concert between host and butler. He therefore rose to leave the room, expecting, of course, to be forcibly detained, or, at all events, being begged and entreated to sit down again. Not a whit! The wily native merely observed to him that "if he had a mind to admire the prospect, there was still daylight enough to command a view down the bay from the little knoll on the right." The Englishman was sorely puzzled by all this. There was none of the detention he expected would be practised upon him, and yet he had a strong consciousness that he was undergoing the operation well known afloat and ashore by the title of "the game of humbug." At the same time, he felt the most eager desire to take another good pull at the claret.

There was no wine before us at this critical juncture of the evening, and our landlord, who, most unaccountably, seemed indifferent to this material circumstance, went on prosing for a quarter-of-an-hour about Protestant ascendancy, the eternal siege of Derry, the battle of the Boyne, and such like stale topics. At length one of the company became somewhat impatient, and, watching for a pause, asked his host if it were the custom in Ireland to discuss Orange politics with empty glasses?

"God bless me," cried the other, with well-feigned surprise, "is there no wine on the table?" and ringing the bell furiously, scolded poor Tim so naturally that the confederate was almost thrown out. "Well! you numskull, why don't you make off with you, and bring something for the gentlemen to drink?" Tim stood fast till interrogated a second time, and then replied with perfect gravity that "there wasn't another drop of wine in the house." Upon this the master got up in a rage, and brushing past the servant, declared his intention of searching the cellar himself. He was absent some time, and we had just prevailed on our hesitating companion to sit down again, when, as if there had been some electrical communication between his chair and the handle of the door, it opened, and in walked our generous entertainer, exulting in his success, crowing like chanticleer, and bearing in each hand a couple of bottles, clicking against each other; while Tim, with a degree of impudence equalled only by that of his master, substituted clean glasses, of a still more capacious swallow than the first. To these were added two pair of candles which towered high above the jolly crew, and promised to last till another dawn should look in upon our revels. By this time the twilight had almost entirely ebbed away, and was succeeded by that cheerful, aurora-kind of brilliancy in the sky, which points out the place of the sun during the whole of his summer night's journey in those high latitudes. Politics dropped, for the joyous juice of the grape soon melted us all into one mind; and a hundred topics of more pleasing interest were started, in which the strangers could join without fear of any angry discussion. The mirth and animation of the company rose very pleasantly as each fresh bottle found its way by some magical process to the table. But it became rather difficult to tell who were the listeners amongst us, or to say who was guest and who landlord, for the party seemed like a circle of brothers, all equally at home.

This went on for an indefinite length of time, but I should be the veriest conjuror on earth to say how long. Through the hazy atmosphere of my recollection of that jolly evening, I remember that about eleven o'clock, more or less, our host was enchanted almost beyond the power of words by seeing his wine so much relished, and tickled also with the success of his joke, in making his suspicious guest drink just as much wine as he thought fit to impose. On this occasion, however, he inverted the proverb, and reckoned without his guest; for, by one imprudent remark, he had well-nigh torn the laurels from his brow.

"Well, sir!" he exclaimed, "although this is the first day you ever set foot on the island, you have seen enough, I hope, to satisfy you that we are not quite such savages as you supposed; liberty hall, you see, is the true title of every Irish gentleman's dining-room: there's no compulsion here, you must see very clearly." It was little that my English friend could now see very clearly of anything; but the above premature announcement of victory brought back all the stranger's suspicions. Fired with this idea, he started on his feet, and eyeing the door for a long time before he ventured on the voyage, with a bold determination, and taking a good departure from his chair, he gained his port. He had undoubtedly expected to be lugged back again; for he whisked the tails of his coat out of reach, while, with his other hand on the lock of the door, and swaying himself about from side to side, like a ship in a calm, he stood the very image of tottering equilibrium, as the mathematicians call it. Our adroit landlord, who was not a man to shrink from difficulties, mustered to his aid all the resources of a long well-practised hospitality, and gallantly met this great occasion. His devices were, probably, exhausted; so he took another line, and called out, "Oh, you're off, are you? Very well—you'll find the ladies in the drawing-room. I think I hear the tinkle of the piano: I prefer the tinkle of the glass. Pray tell the damsels we are coming by-and-bye: mind you say 'by-and-bye.' I don't like to be too particular, for fear of seeming rude: don't you see?"

This speech was wound up by a telegraphic flourish of the hand towards Tim, who stood near, with a bottle between his feet, the screw buried in the cork, and his body bent to the effort, which he only delayed to exercise till ordered by his master to pull. "Out with him, man! out with the cork!" cried the host. The loud report which succeeded rang over the apartment like the sweetest music to the souls of the ever thirsty company. Tim's thunder was echoed back by a truly bacchanalian shout, such as nothing on earth can give proper emphasis to, except a double allowance of claret. The Englishman, fairly subdued by the sound, glided again to the table; then seizing his brimming glass in one hand, and grasping the fist of his merry host in the other, he roared out,—

"You really are an uncommon good fellow; and hang me if ever I distrust an Irishman again as long as I live!"

But within three minutes afterwards this promise was broken; for as soon as we had discussed the bottle which the incomparable Tim had so opportunely introduced, the master of the house, seeing us at length quite at his mercy, and eager to go on, rose, and said, to our great amaze,—

"Come! we've had wine enough; let's join the ladies in the next room."

The disappointed company stared at one another, and loudly proclaimed that it was not fair to limit them in this way. The Englishman, in particular, wished to remain; but our host was inexorable. Meanwhile, Timothy grinned from ear to ear; familiar with his master's tricks upon travellers; and the landlord deliberately opening the door, marched off the field of battle with flying colours.

As we moved along to the drawing-room, my companion whispered to me,—

"I must own I have been rightly served for my suspicions. I made quite certain of being bullied into drinking more than was agreeable to me; but it turns out," added he, laughing, "quite the reverse; for I cannot get a drop of wine, now that I want it."

"Well! well!" cried our hospitable friend, who overheard the conclusion of this remark, "you shall do as you please ever after this evening."

He then showed us to a couple of snug rooms, which he said were ours, as long as we chose to occupy them.

For myself, I went off to the Giant's Causeway in the course of next day; and on returning, at the end of a week, found that my friend, instead of cutting the connection, according to promise, had not been once out of sight of the house, and had never been asked to drink a bottle, or even a glass, more than he liked. He declared, indeed, that he had rarely met, in any country, with persons so truly hospitable, or more gentleman-like, in the truest sense of these words.

Printer's Flower

CHAPTER IV.

THE ADMIRALTY LIST.

In the midst of these gay doings, which were all very well for a time, but rather profitless on the whole, an extremely favourable opening for promotion suddenly occurred. The late Sir Samuel Hood, on being appointed commander-in-chief of the East India station, was applied to by my friends, and agreed to take me with him as one of his lieutenants. His list of protégés, he said, was a long one, and I must come in last; after his old followers were provided for, but there could not be a moment's doubt on the occasion. In his letters, the Admiral dwelt very strongly on the importance of having the name of his young friend, as he was good enough to call me, placed likewise on the Admiralty List.

The purpose of this advice is easily explained. The Admiral on a foreign station is allowed actually to appoint, or promote, to certain vacancies only, any officer whom he pleases, while on the occurrence of all other vacancies, except those which are thus specifically placed at his disposal, he is furnished with what is called an Admiralty List. In former times, whatever it be now, the Admirals abroad were allowed to appoint officers of their own selection to vacancies occasioned by death, or by the sentence of a court-martial; while they were instructed to nominate those persons only who stood on the Admiralty List to such vacancies as arose from officers falling sick and invaliding; from the accession of ships captured and purchased into the service; from officers deserting (which strange event has sometimes happened); or from the squadron being increased by ships built and launched on the station. But as these last enumerated are, generally speaking, of much more frequent occurrence than those which fall to the Admiral's peculiar share, an officer on the Admiralty List has a proportionately better chance of promotion than one who stands merely on that of the commander-in-chief.

These two lists differ essentially in one material feature. As a matter of course, the Admiral's List possesses some degree of stability; since a place upon it is generally won by long service under his flag, and retained there by personal esteem or family connection. An Admiral's follower, indeed, far from being a term of reproach, is always one of honour, as it implies the confidence and regard of the flag-officer. To get placed therefore, however near the end, on the good books of a rising Admiral is almost a certain road to promotion.

On the other hand, the Admiralty List is kept a profound secret, or, what comes nearly to the same thing, is kept strictly out of sight of those it most concerns. It is well known to be formidably intricate in its arrangements, and very slippery in its promises; indeed, from the circumstance of its depending on the fluctuating interests of party politics, it must be essentially pie-crusty in its texture. For it is sometimes thought in the political world that as much may be done by propitiating antagonists as by rewarding friends. How all this may be in sound principle I cannot tell; but nothing in practice can be more unsteady, or less to be relied upon, as I too well know, than this said Admiralty List. Still, the advantages of getting his name on this precious little slip of paper are very great, though it be a most unofficial-looking note sheet, as I can testify, from having once incidentally been afforded a glimpse of one, on which, to my horror, my own name was not! If the admiral of the station be also a personal friend, that source of favour, of course, always adds another string to the young man's bow. Circumstances likewise occasionally arise which enable an admiral, who has an officer's interest really at heart, to give him an extra lift at the right moment, and in the right direction, provided his name actually stands on the Admiralty List, even though it be ever so low down.

Before sailing for India, accordingly, I took a world of pains to make out this grand point, tormented my friends and relations most wofully, and, as I conceived, with eventual success. A distinct assurance was given to a near connection of my own, and a member of parliament, that my name would certainly stand on the First Lord's list, to be sent out to India in his Majesty's ship Volage, of which I had the farther good fortune to be appointed junior lieutenant. A change at the Admiralty was then confidently expected; and I took every care, as I thought, to have it arranged that my name should not be omitted when the new First Lord came into power. Little dreamed I that, in the mêlée of official patronage and personal favour which shortly afterwards took place at headquarters, my poor name would be dropped out altogether. The provoking consequence was, however, that I had the mortification of seeing sundry capital vacancies in India pass by, one after another, which, had I occupied even the very low place on the fresh list which I had filled on the old one, might have secured my promotion several years sooner than it came.

The old Volage, in which we sailed for India, I am forced to confess, was one of the least good-looking of all his Majesty's ships and vessels then afloat. But by this time I cared not one fig for the looks of my ship, though, a month or two before, I should have considered it a point of honour to maintain its beauty. I was delighted beyond measure to think that, at length, I was on the right road to promotion; and this satisfaction was more than doubled by finding the East was the region in which that great prize was to be sought for.

Although the men-of-war and their convoy sailed from Spithead on the 25th of March, they did not reach Madeira till the 19th of April. It is always more teasing to be delayed at the outset of a voyage than at any other stage of its course, just as it is mortifying and hurtful to be checked in the commencement of a profession. Upon this occasion we had a fine rattling easterly breeze for eight-and-forty hours after starting, which swept us all, dull sailers and good ones, merrily out of the British Channel. This fair start is always a grand affair, whatever succeeds; for if the prevalent westerly wind catches a ship before the channel is left well behind, she may be driven back to Plymouth or Falmouth, and all the agony of bills, news, leave-taking, and letters, has to be endured over again. Whereas, if she once gets the Lizard Light some fifty leagues astern of her, all these worrying distractions may be considered at an end. A totally new world—the "world of waters"—is now entered upon, far beyond the reach even of those long-armed persons, the "gentlemen of the press," or the startling sound of the postman's knock; that call which so often sets off the steadiest-going pulse at a gallop!

Oh, the joy! the relief unspeakable! of feeling oneself fairly under weigh, and of seeing the white cliffs of Old England sinking in the north-eastern horizon right to windward! Let the concocters of romances and other imaginary tales say what they please of the joys of returning home; give me the happiness of a good departure, and a boundless world of untried enjoyments ahead. If a man be out of debt and out of love, or only moderately involved in either of these delicate predicaments; if he have youth and health and tolerable prospects, a good ship under his foot, good officers over him, and good messmates to serve with, why need he wear and tear his feelings about those he leaves behind? Or rather, why need he grieve to part from those who are better pleased to see him vigorously doing his duty rather than idling in other people's way at home? Or wherefore should he sigh to quit those enjoyments in which he cannot honourably participate till he has earned his title to them by hardy service?

On the other hand, who is there so insensible as not to feel the deepest apprehension, on returning from a long and distant voyage? Busy fancy will conjure up images of death and sickness, of losses and sorrows. And when the accumulated pile of letters is first placed in our hands after a long voyage, with what sickening eagerness do we not turn from the superscription to discover the colour of the seal?

It happened once to me to be nearly fifteen months without receiving a single line from home, or seeing an English newspaper. On reaching the port of rendezvous, I found that as the ship I commanded was the only man-of-war in the harbour, there devolved upon me an immense load of official business requiring immediate and careful attention. All this I learned on my way to the consul's office, where a huge budget of letters was delivered to me. My first impulse, naturally, was to tear away the envelopes, and dive into the secrets of these domestic dispatches; but I paused on detecting several ominous-looking patches of black wax, and, thrusting them all into a drawer, did not open one till next day. Officially considered, it was well I imposed this restraint upon my curiosity; for the fatal news these letters contained must have seriously interfered with the exclusive professional attention which the nature of the service required me to bestow upon various public matters admitting of no delay; whereas, in regard to the private intelligence, a single day, added to so many months, signified nothing.

After leaving Spithead, our two days of fair wind were enough to take us clear of the channel, and well off the bank of soundings, far beyond the danger of return. A tolerable spell of bad weather then came on, which in one sense was of essential service, by contributing greatly to assist the first lieutenant's arrangements, though it discomfited most grievously the apple-pie order of those disturbers of his peace, the shore-going, long-coated gentry, our passengers, whom the sailors, in their coarse but graphic vocabulary, call "dog robbers," from their intercepting the broken meat on its way to the kennel from their master's table. Our gale of wind, indeed, was no gale to speak of; but as the sea rose, and a heavy press of canvas laid the creaking old barky well over on her broadside, many of the beautifully piled boxes, the well-packed portmanteaus, the polished dressing cases and writing-desks, the frail glass, crockery, and other finery, fetched way, and went rattling, smash! dash! right into the lee scuppers. In the next instant, the great bulk of these materials were jerked back again to their original situation, by that peculiar movement, so trying to unpractised nerves, called a lurch to windward. To unaccustomed ears, the sounds on this occasion lead one to suppose the ship is going to pieces; while the cries for help from the broken-shinned, sea-sick landsmen, the bawling for cleats and lashings from the mate of the decks, the thumping of hammers, and the loud laugh of the light-hearted middies, enchanted with the uproar, make a fine concert. The sedative effect of two or three hours of this work exceeds fresh-water belief; so that in a day or two, Messrs. Neptune, Boreas, First Lieutenant, and Co., have re-established their legitimate authority so completely, that neither servants, nor any other passengers, ever afterwards venture to indulge in those liberties which, at first coming on board, they fancied might be taken with impunity.

Printer's Flower

CHAPTER V.

THE TROPICAL REGIONS AT SEA.

There sailed along with us in the Volage, from Spithead, the Princess Caroline, 74, and the Theban frigate, to aid in protecting a fleet of East India Company's ships, all for China direct.[2] As these ships were of the largest class, well manned, well commanded, and were likewise pretty well armed, and got up to look like men-of war, our force had not only an imposing appearance, but was capable of baffling an enemy, even in considerable strength. There is, indeed, one signal instance on record in which a fleet of East India Company's ships actually beat off, unassisted, a French squadron of very powerful vessels. These striking incidents, peeping out from time to time, show what is called the true blood, and are extremely valuable, proving how essential it is that an officer in command should "Never say die while there is a shot in the locker!" a pithy old phrase, which will apply to many situations in life, civil as well as military. Had the gallant commander alluded to, Sir Nathaniel Dance, yielded when the French Admiral Linois, and his squadron, consisting of the Marengo, a line-of-battle ship of 84 guns, and the Belle Poule and Semillante frigates, each of 44, bore down on the China fleet, not less than six millions of English property, and some of the noblest trading ships that float on the ocean, must have been carried into the Isle of France.

This memorable affair took place near Pulo Aor, in the China seas, and by a very interesting, and no doubt useful coincidence, on the 14th of February, 1804, the seventh anniversary of the glorious action off Cape St. Vincent. Had the enemy only known the real force of his opponents, which he most certainly ought to have found out before he quitted them, the bold front these ships put forward might indeed have served them nothing. A less resolute man than Captain Dance might have said this good fortune was hardly to be calculated upon; but it is the duty of a commander, at all times and under all circumstances, to afford himself every possible chance, and never to give up while there is one of these chances left.

A useful chapter in naval history and tactics could be written on the defence of convoys, by which it might perhaps be made manifest that a determined bearing, accompanied by a certain degree of force, and a vigorous resolution to exert that force to the utmost, would, in most cases, save the greater part of the convoy, even against powerful odds. In the well-known instance, in which Captain Richard Budd Vincent sacrificed his ship, in a contest where he was from the first sure to be overpowered, he gained sufficient time for most of his flock of merchant-ships to escape.

In February, 1805, this gallant officer, in the Arrow, of 18 twenty-four pounders, ably supported by Captain Arthur Farquhar, in the Acheron bomb, carrying not half that number, actually engaged two large French frigates, mounting in all 90 guns and 1300 men, while the English force was only 26 guns and 90 men. The damage and delay caused to the enemy by this spirited resistance enabled the convoy to disperse, and all get off but three, out of thirty-two. The English ships did not strike till they were so much cut up that one sunk immediately afterwards, and the other was burned by the captors as useless.

On the occasion of our voyage in 1812, however, the fortitude and skill of our East India ships were put to no such proof, as our most interesting evolutions were confined to the interchange of good dinners; for your Indiamen know as well how to eat, drink, and be merry, as to fight, if need be. Their chief business is to trade; but their trading is a widely different thing from that of the ordinary merchant service. The East India Company's officers are bred in many respects like naval men, and they feel in the same manner. Being sprung from as good a stock as the officers of the Navy, they possess a kindred gentleman-like spirit, and are in every respect suitable allies in battle.

In fine weather, during our whole voyage, there scarcely occurred a day on which, in the course of the morning, if the sea were tolerably smooth, and the wind not too strong, the dinner invitation signal was not displayed from the commodore, or from some of his flock. When there was a breeze, and the ships were making way through the water, some technical address was necessary to avoid delay. This will easily be understood, without going into minute details, when it is remembered, that there must always in a convoy be found certain ships which sail worse than others, and that, although these tubs, as they are most deservedly called, crowd all their canvas, the rest are obliged to shorten sail in order to keep them company; as Lightfoot, in the fairy tale, was obliged to tie his feet in the race. If it be the commodore who gives the dinner, he either heaves to, while the boats of the several captains come on board, or he edges down to the different ships in succession, passes them at the distance of a quarter of a cable's length, picks up his guests, and resumes his station ahead, or to windward, or wherever it may suit him to place himself so as best to guard his charge. If any of the fast sailers have occasion to heave to, either before or after dinner, to lower down or to hoist up the boat which carries the captain backwards and forwards to the ship in which the entertainment is given, and in consequence of this detention any way has been lost, that ship has only to set a little more sail that she may shoot ahead, and regain her position in the line.

The bad sailers of all fleets or convoys are daily and hourly execrated in every note of the gamut; and it must be owned that the detention they cause, when a fine fresh breeze is blowing, is excessively provoking to all the rest, and mortifying to themselves. Sometimes the progress of one haystack of a vessel is so slow that a fast-sailing ship is directed to take her in tow, and fairly lug her along. As this troublesome operation requires for its proper execution no small degree of nautical knowledge, as well as dexterity, and must be performed in the face of the whole squadron, it is always exposed to much sharp criticism. The celerity with which sail is set, or taken in, by the respective ships, or the skill with which broken spars are shifted, likewise furnish such abundant scope for technical table-talk, that there is seldom any want of topic in the convoy. Sailors, indeed, are about as restless as the element on which they float; and their hands are generally kept pretty full by the necessity of studying the fluctuating circumstances of wind and weather, together with due attention to the navigation.

These occupations served to give a high degree of interest to this Indian voyage, which, to most of us, was the first; the mere circumstance of having to pass successively and quickly through a number of different climates, first in the order of increasing warmth, and then in the reverse order of increasing cold, was of itself most striking. The change of latitude being the chief cause of these phenomena, a succession of astronomical variations were necessarily attendant upon the progress of the voyage; easily explained by reasonings, and the actual, practical exhibition, as it may be termed, of the truths of astronomical science failed not to strike the unfamiliarised imagination as both wonderful and beautiful.

When we sailed from England the weather was very cold, raw, and uncomfortable; and although we had a couple of days' fair wind at starting, we were met in the very chops of the channel by hard-hearted southerly and south-westerly winds, which tried our patience sorely. On the evening of the tenth day we caught a glimpse of the north coast of Spain; and the rugged shore of Galicia was the last which most of us saw of Europe for many years. It was not till after a fortnight's hard struggling against these tiresome south-westers that we anchored in Funchal Roads, having by the way dropped several of our convoy. These stray sheep came in during the few days we remained to refresh ourselves at this most charming of resting-places. After nearly a week's enjoyment, we proceeded on our course to the southward; within three days we came in sight of Palma, the most northern of the Canary Island group. It was thirty miles distant in the south-east quarter; and Teneriffe, the sea "monarch of mountains," lay too far off for us to perceive even his "diadem of snow," which at that season (April), I presume, he always wears. Some years after the period in question, when I paid him a visit, in the month of August, the very tip-top was bare, and the thermometer at 70°.

Under more favourable circumstances, we might possibly have seen Teneriffe from the Volage, for our distance was not above a hundred miles. This, however, it must be owned, is a long way to see the land, unless it form a continuous ridge of great elevation, like the Andes; and even then, to be distinguished well, it requires to be interposed between a bright sky and the ship. At day-break, and for about half an hour before sunrise, if the weather be clear, even sharp peaks, like the cone of Teneriffe, may be seen with a degree of distinctness which is very remarkable, when viewed from the distance of a hundred miles and upwards, as I have several times experienced when navigating in the Pacific. But when the full splendour of the sun's light begins to fill the air, these gigantic forms gradually fade away amongst the clouds, or melt into the sky, even when no clouds are visible. I have likewise been told, that, in sailing directly away from Teneriffe (or other high insulated peaks), and keeping the eye pretty constantly fixed in the proper direction, it may be retained in sight at much greater distance than it can be discovered on approaching. I am disposed to consider this very probable, but have never had a good opportunity of trying the experiment.

It was late in April, as we were stealing slowly past these distant Canary Islands, when the first real puff of the Trade-wind caught our sleeping sails, and made the braces, haulyards, and all the other ropes connected with the yards, crack again. This breeze served more effectually to detach our thoughts from European interests than anything which had occurred since our leaving England. At the very moment, however, when we were chuckling at this disentanglement of our feelings from domestic anxieties, and all the varied agitation of home concerns, we observed a ship crossing our path at some distance. Signal being made to chase, we instantly darted off from the convoy to examine the stranger, which proved to be an English ship from Lisbon. We hailed, and asked, "What news?"

"Badajoz has fallen," replied the other, "after a terrible siege."

This was received with a general buzz of joyous congratulation along the decks. In answer to further questions, we were told of some three or four thousand men killed and wounded in the trenches and breach. Then, indeed, the glorious intelligence was greeted by three jolly huzzas from every ship in the convoy!

Nothing so startling as this occurred to us again; but the serenity of our thoughts was in some degree interrupted, a few days afterwards, by the north-easterly Trade-wind dying away, and a gentle south-wester springing up in its place. This occurred in latitude 25-1/2° N., where, according to our inexperienced conception of these singular winds, we ought to have found a regular breeze from the very opposite quarter! Nor was it till long afterwards that I learned how much the force and direction of the Trade-winds are liable to modification by the particular position which the sun occupies in the heavens; or how far the rotatory motion of the earth, combined with the power which the sun possesses of heating certain portions of the circumambient air, are the regulating causes of the Trades, Monsoons, and, indeed, of all the other winds by which we are driven about. It is by no means an easy problem in meteorology to show how these causes act in every case; and perhaps it is one which will never be so fully solved as to admit of very popular enunciation applicable to all climates. In the most important and useful class of these aërial currents, called, par excellence, and with so much picturesque truth, "the Trade-winds," the explanation is not difficult. But before entering on this curious and copious theme, I feel anxious to carry our convoy fairly across the tropical regions; after which an account of the Trades will be better understood.

I have just mentioned that the changes of temperature, on a voyage to India, are most remarkable. We set sail, for instance, in the month of March, when it was bitterly cold in England; then we came off the coast of Spain, where it was a little more moderate; next to Madeira, which is always agreeable. Then we passed the Canaries; after which we sailed over the tropic of Cancer, and got well toasted in the torrid zone; steered down upon the equinoctial line, passed the tropic of Capricorn, and again became conscious of the weakened influence of the sun; till, at length, off the Cape of Good Hope, we were once more nipped with the cold. Anon, having rounded the south point of Africa, we put our heads towards the line, and a second time, within a few weeks, emerged from the depth of winter into the height of summer.

The proximate cause of all these vicissitudes was, of course, our approach towards and removal from the direct influence of the great source of light and heat. At one time, the sun, even at noon, was seen creeping stealthily along, low down in the horizon, at another his jolly countenance was blazing away right overhead. On the 5th of May, when our latitude was 17-1/2° N., the sun's declination was 16-1/4° N., his centre being only one degree from our zenith: shadows we had none. On that day we saw St. Antonio, the north-westernmost of the Cape de Verde Islands, the summit of which is about seven thousand feet above the sea.

On the next day I well remember going on deck with a certain flutter of spirits, to see, for the first time in my life, the sun to the northward, and moving through the heavens from right to left, instead of from left to right. No one doubts that the earth is round; yet these conspicuous and actual proofs of its rotundity always amuse the fancy, and frequently interest the judgment, almost as much as if they were unexpected. The gradual rise, night after night, of new stars and new constellations, belongs to a still higher order of curiosity; for it not merely places well-known objects in strange positions, but brings totally new subjects of contemplation before our eyes, and leads us to feel, perhaps more strongly than upon any other occasion, the full gratification which novelty on the grandest scale is capable of producing. I shall never forget the impatience with which I have often watched the approach of darkness after a long day's run to the south, knowing that, in a few moments, I was to discover celestial phenomena heretofore concealed from my view.

After slanting through the north-east Trade-wind, we reached that well-known but troublesome stage in the voyage, so difficult to get over, called the Variables. This region has acquired its title from the regular Trades not being found there, but in their place unsteady breezes, long calms, heavy squalls, and sometimes smart winds from the south and south-westward. These Variables, which sorely perplex all mariners, even those of most experience, while they drive young ones almost out of their senses, are not less under the dominion of the causes which regulate those great perennial breezes the Trades, blowing to the northward and southward of them. Their laws, however, are not quite so readily understood, and consequently are not so easily allowed for in the practice of navigation.

When we actually encounter, on the spot, and for the first time, a crowd of new circumstances, of which, previously, we have only known the names, or have merely heard them described by others, we feel so much confused and bewildered, that we fly eagerly to the nearest authority to help us out of the scrape. It generally happens, in these cases, that the reference does not prove very satisfactory, because the actual circumstances with which we are engaged are rarely similar in all their bearings to those with which we compare them; and when this is not the case, the blindfold method of proceeding in the beaten path is very apt to mislead.

As an illustration of this kind of deception, it may be stated that navigators, whose actual experience has not extended to the tropical regions, are very apt, in poring over the voyages of others, to acquire, insensibly, a very confident notion that each of the great Trade-winds blowing on different sides of the Line (the North-east and the South-east by name), are quite steady in their direction; and that, in the equatorial interval which lies between them, only calms and light winds are to be found. Moreover, inexperienced persons generally believe this interval to be equally divided by the equator, and that both the breadth and the position of this calm region continue unchanged throughout the whole year. Now, here are four important mistakes,—important both in a scientific and in a practical point of view. For, 1st, Not calms and squalls alone, but occasionally fresh and steady winds, are found between the Trades; 2ndly, The belt called the Variables is by no means equally divided by the equator; neither, 3rdly, is that belt stationary in its position; nor, 4thly, is it uniform in its breadth. It will thence be easily understood, even by a person who has never quitted one of the midland counties in England, and to whom the ocean is an unseen wonder, that a new-comer to the tropical regions, his head loaded with these false views, will be very apt to mistake his own ignorance for the caprice of Nature, and perhaps call out, as I once heard a man do, in all the agony of impatience caused by a protracted head-wind,—"Now, this is really scandalous usage of the clerk of the weather-office!" The scandal, however, lay not so much with the clerk's usage as with his own limited knowledge; for if, at the very time of his imprecation, instead of abusing the foul wind, and keeping his yards braced sharp up, and making his sails stand like a board, the grumbler had known how to take advantage of it, and had kept away two or three points, set his fore-topmast studding-sail, and flanked across or through the breeze which he had in vain tried to beat against, he might not only have saved his temper, but have made his passage in half the time.

I am not sure that, in the whole range of this extensive subject, there could be picked out an instance more in point to what has just been said, than these interesting phenomena of the Trade-winds. To sailors of every age and rank, and especially to naval officers, an acquaintance with the laws which regulate these extraordinary aërial currents must be of great importance. For a commander may be ordered, at a moment's warning, either to carry his own ship, or to lead a squadron, or to guard a convoy, from the northern to the southern hemisphere, or perhaps from the West to the East Indies. If, however, he have not previously made a tropical voyage or two, or have not studied the subject in its genuine theoretical spirit, as well as in the log-books of his predecessors, he may expect to find himself most wofully embarrassed, both on entering and on leaving the Trades.

Independently of all such public objects concerned in these inquiries, there appears to exist a very general interest in the Trade-winds, sufficiently strong to engage the attention even of unprofessional persons. These vast currents of air, which sweep round and round the globe, in huge strips of more than twelve hundred miles in width, are in a manner forced on every one's notice, from contributing to that boundless interchange of the productions of distant regions by which modern times are so agreeably distinguished from the old.

The great Monsoons, again, of the Indian and China oceans play almost as important a part in this grand nautical drama along the coasts of those remote countries. These great phenomena will be found to obey precisely the same laws as their less fluctuating brethren the mighty Trades; and hence springs one of the chief delights of science when its study is conducted in a proper spirit. If the pursuit of truth be engaged in with sincerity, phenomena apparently the most opposite in character, for example, winds in different parts of the earth, but in the same latitude, blowing in totally different directions at the same season of the year, will always prove in the end illustrative of one another, and of their common theory.

FOOTNOTES:

[2] On the renewal of their Charter, in 1833, the East India Company ceased to be traders, and these noble ships no longer sail under the Company's flag.

Printer's Flower

CHAPTER VI.

THE TRADE WINDS.

There are few things more curious in the history of human knowledge than the establishment of extensive errors as to matters of fact, and the perverse tenacity with which they retain their hold on the public mind. In some cases it would almost seem that the pleasure which springs from genuine philosophical inquiry is subordinate to that which arises from the indolent process of taking things for granted. This applies peculiarly to the phenomena of the Trade-winds, respecting which many erroneous ideas are generally entertained. To professional men these fallacies are calculated to prove extremely mischievous; while even to persons not directly connected with the sea, the existence of error may often be injurious: and, although it is not very easy to explain these things in a popular way, I shall attempt to give a description of the facts as they really exist.

The main characteristics may easily be described.

The great belt of the earth's surface, nearly three thousand miles in width, lying between the tropics (from 23-1/2° north to 23-1/2° south latitude), is the chief region of the Trade-winds; though in some parts of the world they extend to the latitude of 28° both north and south of the equator; while at other places well within the tropics, and even close to the line, totally different winds prevail. It is only in the open parts of the Pacific and Atlantic oceans that the true Trade-winds blow. In the Indian and China seas, and in many other portions of the great tropical belt, periodical winds, called Monsoons, are found. These shifting Trades exact the closest study from the practical navigator, in consequence of their extensive variety and seeming complication. But they are not less deserving the attention of merely curious inquirers, from the beautiful manner in which these modifications of the regular breezes obey the same general laws which direct the grand phenomena of the Trades. Indeed, the most extensive observation serves only to link the whole into one harmonious chain or series of explanations, exhibiting the uniformity as well as the exquisite adaptability of Nature, even in those departments called "inconstant," where she is supposed to be most capricious.

The only general assertion that can safely be made with respect to the Trade-winds is, that they blow more or less from the eastern half of the compass towards the western. On the north side of the equator, the north-east Trade-winds blow; and on the south side, the south-east Trade-winds. These two names have undoubtedly contributed to mystify the subject by naturally suggesting to the imagination currents of air blowing respectively from the north-east and the south-east, or at an angle of 45° with the meridian. And I have even seen sailors (old sailors too) quite surprised, and rather provoked, when they have encountered very different winds in those parts of their voyage, where, being misled by the force of names alone, they had taught themselves to expect a regular breeze from a particular quarter. But, in point of fact, the Trade-winds do very seldom blow directly from north-east and south-east; neither are they uniform in their direction on the same spot at different seasons of the year, nor is their strength uniform from month to month. I may add, that the equatorial limits, or bounding lines, of the trades, are not steadily confined to the same latitude. In short, so far from these winds being perfectly fixed in direction, force, and position, they are subject to very considerable mutations, dependent on the position of the sun. Their vast nautical value, in fact, as well as philosophical curiosity, turns mainly on their uniformity, which, in spite of all the fluctuations alluded to, gives them a very distinctive character.

Dr. Young and Hadley, the great authorities on the subject, are both wrong in their conclusions.[3] Where Hadley obtains his "experience" he does not tell; but certain it is, that no sailor who ever crossed the equinoctial line could possibly have furnished him with two of his principal statements. The Trades are not strongest near the equator, as he states, nor when they reach that district do they blow along it, or in a parallel direction, but almost always at right angles to it.

If the earth had no motion on its axis, but were surrounded as at present with an atmosphere, and if the sun moved round and round it exactly above the equator, without varying his declination, the following effects would ensue: That portion of the earth lying, say thirty degrees, on each side of the equator, being more exposed to the action of the sun than those further from it, would become much warmer; while the superincumbent air, being greatly heated by the contact, would expand, or become specifically lighter, and would consequently rise. The adjacent air, both on the north and south, being cooler, and, of course, heavier, would rush in to supply the place of the heated air. This air coming from the regions beyond the tropics would, in its turn, be heated, and rise on reaching the warmer equatorial regions, giving place to a fresh supply, which, it is easy to see, must be furnished by the descent of that portion of air formerly heated at the equator, raised into the cold regions of the sky, and forced into a regular circuit by fresh elevations of heated air. All these and many other interesting results are clearly developed in Daniell's Meteorological Essays, a book which every one at all interested in such inquiries will find it advantageous to study. The first edition of this work was published in 1823, some years after these speculations had been forced upon my notice by a long course of service between the tropics.

It will be understood, that, as long as we imagine the globe at rest while this circulation is going on, the course of the lower air along the surface would be directly towards the equator, from due north in one hemisphere, and from due south in the other; while in the upper regions the currents would follow the opposite directions, and stream towards the poles. But the instant we conceive the earth put into rotatory motion from west to east, a change would take place in the course of these aërial currents, both above and below. It must be recollected that a volume of air, when once put in motion, will move on, like any other body, by the mere force of its own momentum, till that motion is destroyed by its friction against the substances along or through which it is impelled. Any one who has observed the ring of smoke sometimes projected from the mouth of a cannon will be sensible that this is true.

It may likewise be of use, before going further, to consider, that, if the globe, instead of being unequally heated; were equally heated at all parts, from pole to pole, and being surrounded by an atmosphere, were then made to revolve on its axis, it would carry the atmosphere round with it exactly at the rate at which it was itself going. That portion of the air in contact with the equator would move about 1000 miles in one hour, while that in latitude 90° would be as motionless as the poles themselves.

From this it will be seen, that, while the equator moves at the rate of 1000 miles an hour, the district about the latitude 30° moves only 860, or 140 miles slower. The average whirling velocity of the earth's easterly motion, in the space between the equator and latitude 30°, may be stated at 950 miles an hour; and that of the belt lying between 30° and 40°, at about 800 miles.

In the hypothetical case, above suggested, of the whole surface being equally heated, and consequently the whole atmosphere at the same temperature, there would be a universal calm, whatever might be the rotatory motion impressed upon the earth. If, however, we next suppose, what really is the case, that the air over the tropical region is more heated than that which is farther from the equator, this rarefied air will instantly ascend, and occupy a place above the colder and denser air, which will flow in from the belts lying beyond the tropics.

When the comparatively slow-moving air of the temperate zone, lying beyond the tropics, first comes in contact with those quicker-moving parts of the earth forming the tropical edges of the torrid zone, the apparent motion of the air from the east, caused by the relative difference of the rotatory velocity between the air and earth, is great, compared to the other motion of the air, caused by its being drawn directly towards the equator, to supply the place of the heated portions raised into the sky. Consequently, at the tropical borders of both Trades the wind is found to blow very nearly from the east point.

Since the cool air of the temperate and comparatively slow-moving zones beyond the tropics is thus drawn towards the equator, and comes successively in contact with parallels of latitude moving faster and faster towards the east, there must be gradually imparted to it, by the increased friction, a considerable degree of the increased rotatory velocity belonging to the low latitudes it has now reached; that is to say, there will be less and less difference of velocity between the easterly motion of this temperate air and the easterly motion of the earth; and, consequently, the wind, as it approaches the equator, will appear to blow less and less directly from the eastward. But, while the earth's rotation within the tropics is thus acting on the slower-moving air which has travelled to it from beyond the tropics, with increased friction at every successive moment, there has been no such powerful counteracting influence in operation to diminish the meridional motion impressed on the air in question; for, although in proceeding from the tropics towards the equator, the wind might, at first sight, be supposed to have its speed somewhat lessened by friction along the earth's surface, the retardation due to this cause, if there be any at all, must be inconsiderable, compared to that which affects the motion caused by the difference in the rotatory velocity of the earth at the different parallels. It must be recollected, also, that there is a constant demand for fresh air from the north and south, to occupy the place of the heated and rarefied air which is raised up in the torrid zone; and this demand being pretty equal, the motion it produces on the air in the direction of the meridian must likewise be uniform.

If it be admitted that all the easterly character of the Trade-winds is due to the difference of velocity between the rotation of the torrid zone of the earth from west to east, and that of the air impressed only with the slower rotatory motion to the east of the temperate zone, it will follow, that, if this difference of velocities between the earth and the air in contact with it be diminished or annihilated, the easterly character of these winds will be diminished or annihilated likewise. At the same time, there is no cause in operation, that I can discover, to alter the direction of the meridional motion, as it may be called, of the Trade-winds, or that by which they are impelled directly towards the equator.

At first starting from the temperate zone, on its voyage to the equator, the cold air of that slow-moving region is impressed with a rotatory velocity of only 800 miles per hour to the eastward, but it soon comes over parts of the earth moving more than 100 miles per hour faster to the eastward than itself. The difference of velocity in the earth's rotation between latitudes 30° and 20° is 74 miles an hour, while between 20° and 10° it is only 45 miles, and in the next ten degrees the difference in rate per hour is reduced to 15 miles.

The velocity with which the air drawn from beyond the tropics travels along the sea towards the equator is probably not above twenty miles an hour, a rate slow enough to allow time for the constantly-increasing friction of the earth's rotation to act upon it, and draw it more and more entirely to the east. By the time it has reached the equatorial regions, the friction of the earth's surface has operated long enough to carry the air completely along with it; and, of course, all relative motion being done away with, everything easterly in the character of the Trade-winds will be at an end.

But, although this constantly-increasing friction of the earth's rotation has thus annihilated all relative easterly motion between the air and earth, that air still retains its motion towards the equator; and accordingly we do find the Trade-winds, at their equatorial limits, blowing, not from the east, as Hadley, Dr. Young, and others, conceived, but directly from the north and from the south respectively. The strength and velocity of the Trades at these places is, in general, considerably diminished, chiefly, perhaps, by the air becoming heated, and rising up rather than flowing along; and also, no doubt, by the meeting of the two opposite currents of air—one from the north, the other from the south—which produces the intermediate space called the Calms, or the Variables.

In strict conformity with these theoretical views, the clouds above the Trades are almost invariably observed to proceed in the contrary direction to the winds below. On the top of the Peak of Teneriffe I found a gentle breeze blowing from the south-westward, directly opposite to the course of the Trade-wind.

The more detailed circumstances usually met with in that part of a voyage to India which lies between 30° north and 30° south, and which I am about to describe, will now, I imagine, be readily understood. Before setting out, however, I must strongly recommend any one wishing to see these matters clearly, to have them fixed in his mind to useful purpose, to follow both the theoretical and the practical parts of this explanation with the assistance of a terrestrial globe.

Most ships touch at Madeira, either to take in a stock of wine, to get fruit and vegetables, or to form a pleasant break in the early and most disagreeable part of the voyage. Some ships pass barely in sight of the high mountain which rises above the town of Funchal, and satisfy themselves with taking sights for verifying the rates of their chronometers when on the meridian of the island; while others tantalise their passengers still more by sweeping through the roads, without anchoring, or communicating with the shore. The captains by such ships are pretty deeply, if not very loudly, abused by all hands, passengers especially, who are perhaps the most dissatisfied, because the most idle, of mortals. Shortly after leaving Madeira, which is in 32-1/2° north latitude, a ship may expect to meet the Trades; but she cannot calculate with any certainty upon catching them till she arrives at the parallel of 28°. On first reaching the Trade-wind it will be found to blow very nearly from due east, and with this a course is easily steered past or amongst the Canaries, and thence for the Cape de Verdes. Some navigators pass within this group, others keep so far out as barely to make San Antonio; and this, I think, is considered the best route. As the ship proceeds to the southward, the wind draws gradually round from the east to north-east, and eventually to north-north-east, and even to north, at the southern margin of the north-east Trade-wind.

The position of this margin or southern edge, which in technical language is called the equatorial limit of the Trade, varies considerably with the season of the year. From December to May inclusive it frequently reaches as far as the 3rd degree of north latitude, though it ranges about 5° and 6° north. From June to November it is shifted back as far, sometimes, as 13° north, but it seldom extends as far south as 8° north. Subjects which are treated of in a series of tables showing the equatorial limits of both Trade-winds, deduced by the late Captain James Horsburgh, hydrographer of the East India Company, from the observations of 238 ships. These tables show very clearly the effect of the absence or presence of the sun in shifting the limits of the Trades, drawing them after him, as it were. The presence of the sun in either hemisphere obstructs considerably the regularity and strength of the Trade-winds in that hemisphere, and vice versâ.

The great difficulty experienced in making the outward-bound voyage commences after the ship has been deserted by the north-east Trade, for she has then to fight her way to the southward across the region of Calms and Variables. But as these Variables blow generally from the southward and westward, from a cause afterwards to be explained, it is obvious enough why this part of the homeward voyage is always more easily made than the outward passage. These southerly breezes, which are met with in the Variables, blow at times with considerable force, and greatly perplex the young navigator, who, trusting perhaps to some of the erroneous published accounts, not unnaturally reckons upon meeting the regular Trade-wind, blowing, as he supposes, from the east near the equator, not from the south; still less is he prepared or pleased to find it blowing from the south-westward.

This troublesome range, intervening between the two Trades, varies in width from 150 to more than 500 miles. It is widest in September, and narrowest in December or January. I now speak more particularly of what happens in the Atlantic. In the wide Pacific, far from land, fewer modifying circumstances interfere with the regular course of the phenomena, than in the comparatively narrow sea formed by the opposite shoulders of Africa and South America.

Calms, also, are met with in this intermediate region, or purgatory of the outward-bound voyage, and occasionally violent tornados or squalls, which in a moment tear away every rag of canvas from a ship's yards. For several hours at a time, also, rain falls down in absolute torrents. Even when the weather clears up, and a fresh breeze comes, it is generally from the southward, directly in the outward-bound navigator's teeth. He must have patience, however, and strive to make the most of it by keeping on that tack by which most southing is to be gained. It is now, I believe, generally held to be the best practice to place the ship between 18° and 23° of west longitude on losing the north-east Trade; and likewise to endeavour, if possible, to cross the equator somewhere between these two longitudes. Before reaching the line, however, the navigator will almost always be met by the south-east Trade-wind. From January to May he may expect to meet it in 1° or 2° north latitude; but in summer and autumn he will find the northern or equatorial limit of the south-east Trade a degree or two still further to the northwards of the lines.

On first encountering the south-east Trade an outward-bound ship is obliged to steer much more to the westward than she wishes to do, in consequence of the wind blowing so directly towards the equator, and not along it, as some of the books will insist on, in spite of Nature. So that if she be a dull sailer she may have some difficulty in weathering the coast of Brazil about Cape St. Roque. As she proceeds onwards, however, and makes a little more southing, the wind will haul more and more round from the south to the south-east, then east-south-east, and eventually to east at the southern limit of the Trade-wind. An inexperienced sailor, on first entering the south-east Trade, is very apt to be too solicitous about making southing, and hugs the wind much too close; whereas he ought rather to keep his ship off a little, give her a fathom or two of the fore and main sheets, and take a small pull of the weather topsail and top-gallant braces, to ensure making good way through the water. Indeed, many officers go so far as to recommend flanking across the south-east Trade with a fore-topmast studding-sail set. Although, I think, there can be no doubt of the soundness of this advice, I confess that it does require no inconsiderable degree of faith to adopt a course, which, apparently, takes the ship not directly away from her object, but very much out of the straight road. In this respect, it may be remarked that the scale of navigation on every Indian voyage is so great, and the importance of getting into those parallels where favourable breezes are certain to be met with, of so much more consequence than the gain of mere distance, that two or three hundred miles to the right or left, or even twice that space, is often not to be regarded. Accordingly, in cutting or flanking across the south-east Trade-wind, the object, it should be remembered, is not to shorten the distance, but to reach those latitudes where strong westerly gales are to be met with, by help of which five hundred or a thousand miles of lost distance are speedily made up, and the rest of the passage secured.

In those regions lying beyond the southern tropic westerly winds prevail during the greater part of the year, exactly as we find on this side of the northern tropic. In the southern hemisphere, and far from the land, the wind may be said to blow from the westward almost as steadily as the Trades do from the eastward. The great object, therefore, for an outward-bound ship is to get far enough south to ensure this fair wind. Beyond the latitude of 30°, and as far as 40°, this purpose will generally be answered.

We are sufficiently familiar in England with the fact of westerly winds prevailing in the Atlantic. From a list of the passages made by the New York sailing packets across the Atlantic, during a period of six years, it is shown that the average length of the voyage from Liverpool to America, that is, towards the west, was forty days; while the average length of the homeward passage, or that from west to east, was only twenty-three days. And it may fix these facts more strongly in the recollection, to mention that the passage-money from England to America (in the days of sailing packets) was five guineas more than that paid on the return voyage.

This prevalence of westerly winds beyond the tropics is readily explained by the same reasoning which has been applied to the Trades blowing within them. The swift moving air of the torrid zone, on being rarefied and raised up, flows along towards the poles, and in a direction from the equator, above the cooler and slower-moving air, which, as I have already described, is drawn along the surface of the earth from the temperate regions beyond the tropics. When the rarefied equatorial air has travelled some thirty or forty degrees of latitude along the upper regions of the atmosphere towards the poles it becomes cooled, and is ready to descend again, between the latitudes of 30° and 60°, to supply the place of the lower air, drawn off towards the equator by the Trade-winds. But this partially-cooled air falls on a part of the earth's surface which is moving much more slowly towards the east, in its diurnal rotation, than the air which has descended upon it, and which is still impressed with a great proportion of its eastern velocity due to the equatorial parallels of latitude, where it was heated and raised up. The necessary consequence of this is, to produce a rapid motion in the air from the west over the earth's surface; and this, combined with the other motion of the same portion of air, or that which has driven it from the equatorial regions, produces this remarkable prevalence of south-westerly winds in the northern hemisphere, and north-westerly winds in the southern hemisphere, in those districts lying between the latitudes of 30° and 60°.

In all that has been said above it has been assumed that the quickest-moving or equatorial belt of the earth is also the hottest, and consequently that over which the air has the greatest tendency to rise. But, although this is generally true, it is not, by any means, universally so. The variations, however, which are observed to occur in those places where the circumstances form an exception to the general rule, tend strongly to confirm the theory of Hadley. The monsoons of India, as I shall presently show, are examples of this; but the most striking instance with which I am personally acquainted occurs in the Pacific Ocean, between the Bay of Panama and the Peninsula of California, from latitude 8° to 22° north. If the huge continent of Mexico were taken away, and only sea left in its place, there can be no doubt but the ordinary phenomena of the Trade-winds would be observable in that part of the Pacific above mentioned. Cool air would then be drawn from the slow moving parallels lying to the northward, towards the swift moving latitudes, near the equator, in order to supply the place of the rarefied air removed to the higher regions of the atmosphere, and, of course, north-easterly breezes would be produced. But when the sun comes over Mexico, that vast district of country is made to act the part of an enormous heater, and becomes a far more powerful cause of rarefaction to the superincumbent air than the ocean which lies between it and the equator. Accordingly, the air over Mexico, between the latitudes of 10° and 30°, is more heated than that which lies over the sea between the line and latitude 20°; and as the coolest, or least heated, that is, the most dense fluid, always rushes towards the place lately occupied by the hottest and most buoyant, the air from the equator will be drawn towards the coast of Mexico, the great local source of heat and rarefaction.

But as this equatorial air is of course impressed with a more rapid eastern velocity than those parts of the earth which form the southern shores of Mexico, a westerly wind must be produced by the relative difference in these two motions. At that particular season of the year when the sun is in high southern declination, Mexico is not exposed to his perpendicular rays. The equatorial regions are then more heated than Mexico, and accordingly we actually find north-easterly breezes nearly as they would be if Mexico were out of the way, and quite in accordance with our theory.

In like manner, in the Atlantic, when the sun is far to the north, the great deserts of the western angle, or shoulder of Africa, become as vehemently heated, or more so, perhaps, than Mexico, and this draws the air from the equator, so as to produce the south-westerly winds I have already spoken of in the troublesome range called the Variables.

Finally, the great monsoons of the Indian ocean and China sea contribute to establish this theory of Hadley, though I am not aware that he ever brought it to bear on these very interesting phenomena. They are eminently deserving of such notice, however, from being periodical Trade-winds of the highest order of utility in one of the busiest commercial regions of the world. Their periodical or shifting character is the circumstance upon which their extensive utility in a great measure depends, amongst nations where the complicated science of navigation is but in a rude state. Myriads of vessels sail from their homes during one monsoon before the wind, or so nearly before it, that there is no great skill required in reaching all the ports at which they wish to touch; and when the wind shifts to the opposite quarter, they steer back again, in like manner, with a flowing sheet. Thus, with an exceedingly small portion of nautical skill, they contrive to make their passages by means of what we blue-jackets call "a soldier's wind, there and back again." It will sometimes happen that these rude navigators miscalculate their time, or meet with accidents to retard them till the period of change has gone past, and then they have no resource but to wait for half-a-year till the monsoon shifts.

Experienced sailors, in like circumstances, acquainted with the varieties of winds prevailing in those seas, would speedily get their vessels out of this scrape, into which the lubberly Chinese junks sometimes fall. They might, and certainly would, lose time in making a roundabout of some two or three hundred miles in searching for a wind; but, if they really knew what they were about, they would be sure to catch it at last, and to turn it to their purpose.

From April to October, when the sun's rays fall with greatest effect on Arabia, India, and China, and the several interjacent seas to which these immense countries give their name, the air in contact with them, becoming heated, rises, and gives place to fresh supplies drawn from the equator. But this equatorial mass of air has had imparted to it by the earth's rotation a greater degree of velocity in the direction from west to east than belongs to the countries and seas just mentioned; and this additional velocity, combined with its motion from the equator, in rushing to fill up the vacuum caused by the rarefaction of the air over those regions intersected by the tropic, causes the south-west monsoon. "This wind," says Horsburgh, "prevails from April to October, between the equator and the tropic of Cancer, and it reaches from the east coast of Africa to the coasts of India, China, and the Philippine Islands; its influence extends sometimes into the Pacific Ocean as far as the Marian Islands, on to longitude about 145° east, and it reaches as far north as the Japan Islands."

The late Captain Horsburgh thus describes what takes place in the winter months:—"The north-east monsoon," he says, "prevails from October to May, throughout nearly the same space that the south-west monsoon prevails in the opposite season mentioned above. But the monsoons are subject to great obstructions by land; and in contracted places, such as Malacca Strait, they are changed into variable winds. Their limits are not everywhere the same, nor do they always shift exactly at the same period."

During this last named period, when the north-east monsoon is blowing, viz. from October to May, the sun is acting with its greatest energy on the regions about the equator, and the seas lying between it and the southern tropic, while the countries formerly mentioned (Arabia, India, and China), lying under the northern tropic, become comparatively cool. The air over these regions becomes relatively more dense than the rarefied air near the line; consequently the cool air rushes to the southward to interchange places with that which has been heated; and as the cool air comes from slower-moving to quicker-moving parallels of latitude, that is, from the tropical to the equatorial regions, the north-easterly monsoon is produced, very much resembling in its effect, as it strictly does in its cause, the ordinary trade-wind of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

This is a very general view of what may be called the great monsoons of India; but there are many variations in different places, all of which are so readily explained by the foregoing theory, that they form by no means the least interesting branch of the subject, or the least satisfactory of its illustrations.

One of the most extensive of these varieties, though of a less general and sweeping character than those which blow in the Arabian sea and bay of Bengal, is found in a very remote part of the world. "From October to April this north-west monsoon prevails between the north-east part of Madagascar and the west coast of New Holland; and it is generally confined between the equator and 10° or 11° south latitude, but subject to irregularities." This westerly wind is evidently produced by the air drawn actually from the equator towards the slower moving latitudes of the earth, by the rarefaction of the air to the southward when the sun is near the tropic of Capricorn. "The south-east monsoon predominates from April to October in the space last mentioned, and in some places reaches to the equator." In this case, the slow moving air near the southern tropic is brought, as in the ordinary case of the south-east Trade wind, to the quick-moving parts of the earth's surface.

The following remark of Horsburgh's, in describing the monsoons, is extremely valuable, and assists to explain Hadley's theory of these matters:—"The parts where the north-west and the south-east monsoons prevail with greatest strength and regularity are in the Java sea, and from thence eastward to Timor, amongst the Molucca and Banda islands, and onward to New Guinea;" for it will be obvious to any one who inspects the globe, on reading this passage, that there occurs in the neighbourhood of the spots alluded to a powerful cause for the strength and regularity of the monsoons. The enormous island, or continent, as it might almost be called, of Australia, may well be supposed to act the part of a heater from October to April, when the sun is so nearly over it. During that period the equatorial air is drawn to the south, along the intermediate seas, amongst the Moluccas and other Spice islands, so as to produce a strong and steady north-westerly monsoon. Of course, the opposite effect will be produced when the sun retreats to the north, and leaves Australia to cool.

These instances are quite enough, I should imagine, to satisfy ordinary curiosity on this point; but professional men ought not to be contented till they have investigated all branches of this important topic; including that elegant and very useful episode, the land and sea breezes of all hot climates, and Horsburgh's East India Directory, which I have quoted above so frequently, is by far the best authority with which I am acquainted on these subjects. At the same time, I must not omit to do justice to a beautifully-written and accurate Essay on Winds and Currents, by that Prince of all Voyagers, Old Dampier; who, with means far more circumscribed than most of his successors, has contrived to arrange and condense his information in such a way as not only to render it available to practical men, but to make it intelligible and interesting to every class of readers.[4]

FOOTNOTES:

[3] It is necessary to note here that these questions have been examined since Captain Hall wrote, by Commander Maury, late secretary to the American navy, in the true analytical spirit, and immense progress made in our knowledge of these winds by the mass of practical observations on the subject made by practical navigators, and published under his directions.—ED.

[4] The principle of "Great Circle Sailing," which now guides the navigator to the Indian Ocean, must be studied in connection with this chapter. "For every degree the ship changes her longitude south of the Line she sails a shorter distance along the great circle than on any other curve; for on the parallel of 60° thirty miles corresponds to a distance of sixty at the equator."—ROBERTSON'S Theory of Great Circle Sailing: Bell and Daldy.

Printer's Flower

CHAPTER VII.

PROGRESS OF THE VOYAGE.

Let people say what they please of the fine bracing weather of a cold climate, I have never seen any truth-speaking persons who, on coming fairly to the trial, did not complain of a cold frosty morning as a very great nuisance, or who did not cling eagerly to the fire to unbrace themselves again. For my own part, I have always delighted in the relaxation caused by hot weather; and, accordingly, I have very seldom, if ever, felt the weather disagreeably warm, even in India, especially when sailing on the open sea, or enjoying the free range of a wide country, under awnings and bungaloes, or stretched in a palanquin, or shaded by an umbrella on the back of an elephant. Soldiers and sailors, whose duty exposes them at all hours, either on a march or in boats, are often struck down by the heat, and sigh with all their hearts for the bracing frosts of higher latitudes. But those who have the means of bringing to bear on their comforts the innumerable contrivances which the ingenuity of wealth has devised in the East, indeed, make its climate not only bearable, but one of the most enjoyable in the world.

As we sailed along on our voyage to India, gradually slipping down from the high to the low latitudes, the sun crept up higher and higher every day towards the zenith, while the thermometer, of course, rose likewise. What was most agreeable in this change from cold to warmth was the little difference between the temperature of the day and that of the night. As we approached the equator, the thermometer fell only from 82° in the day-time to 79° or 80° at night, which, on deck, was delightful. We did not, of course, come to this high temperature all at once; for on the 6th of May, the day after we passed directly under the sun, the average of the twenty-four hours was 73°, and at night 69° and 70°.

It is not to be imagined that everyone was pleased with these changes; for on board ship, as on shore, there exist discontented spirits, whose acquired habit it is to find fault with the existing state of things, be these what they may. To such cantankerous folks a growl of misery would really seem to be the great paradoxical happiness of their lives, and, in the absence of real hardship, it is part of your thorough-bred growler to prophesy. I have seen a middy of this stamp glad to find, on coming below, that some insignificant portion of his dinner really had been devoured by his hungry messmates, while he himself was keeping his watch on deck.

"I am used worse than a dog!" he would cry, secretly delighted to have gained the luxury of a grievance, "I can't even get a basin of pease-soup put by for me; it's an infernal shame, I'll cut the service!"

The diversity of climate on an Indian voyage furnishes capital nuts for these perturbed spirits. It is first too cold, then too hot; then there is not wind enough; then it blows too fresh in the squalls: by-and-bye the nights are discovered to be abominably close and sultry, and in the day the fierce flaming downright heat of the sun is still worse; then the calms are never to be over; or the lying trades, as they call them, have got capsized, and blow from the west instead of the east! After the line has been crossed, and the south-east wind is met with, the weather soon becomes what these ingenious fellows call too temperate, then it grows too cold again; and next off the Cape the latitude is too stormy. In this alone they have some reason; and I have often regretted that, by a royal ordinance of the King of Portugal, the name of this mighty promontory was changed from Cabo de Tormentos, the headland of storms, to its present spoony title. In short, this grand voyage is merely a peristrephic panorama of miseries, which if they survive, say they, it will be happy for them.—Happy! Not a whit. It is out of their nature to be happy. To find fault, to fling away the good the gods provide them, and to aggravate the pain of every real wound by the impatience of idle complaints, is their diseased joy. "Evil, be thou my good!" they might well exclaim; for, instead of heightening the pleasures of life by full participation, or subduing its inevitable evils, or, at all events, softening their asperity by enduring with fortitude and cheerfulness what cannot be helped, these self-tormentors reject what is substantially pleasing, and cling with habitual but morbid relish to whatever is disagreeable.

As we glided along, through the Trade-winds, towards the neck of sea which divides Africa from South America, the symptoms of a change in climate became daily more manifest. Every skylight and stern window was thrown wide open, and every cabin scuttle driven out, that a free draught of air might sweep through the ship all night long. In the day-time, the pitch in the seams of the upper-deck began to melt, and, by sticking to the soles of our shoes, plastered the planks, to the great discomfiture of the captain of the after-guard. The tar, oozing from the cordage aloft, dropped on our heads, speckled the snow white boat covers, and obliged us to spread the hammock-cloths, to prevent the bedding being ruined by the spots. On the larboard or eastern side of the ship, which, of course, is always presented to the sun when crossing the Trades on the outward-bound voyage, the pitch and rosin with which the seams had been payed ran down in little streams across the lines of paint. To prevent, as far as we could, some of these annoyances, we spread the awnings over the decks, and triced up the curtains, fore and aft, while every art was used to introduce air to all parts of the ship. The half-ports were removed from the main-deck guns, the gratings put on one side, and as many windsails sent down the hatchways as could be made to catch a puff of air. Blue trousers and beaver scrapers soon gave way before the elements, and were succeeded by nankeens, straw hats, and canvas caps. In the captain's cabin, where the presence of the governor, our passenger, still kept up the strait-laced etiquette of the service, coats and epaulettes appeared at dinner; but in the gun-room, the officers, the instant they came below, slipped on their light white jackets, and, disdaining waistcoat, seized their flutes and books, and drew their chairs as near as possible to the mouth of the windsail. In the midshipmen's berth, outside in the steerage, the shirt without neckcloth or stock, and sometimes with its sleeves rolled up to the elbows, was the most fashionable rig. The seamen and marines, of course, dined on the main-deck, not only that they might enjoy the fresh air breathing gently in upon them through the ports on the weather side, and sweeping out again by those to leeward, but that the lower deck might be kept as cool and airy as possible against the sultry feverish night season.

On such occasions the men leave their tables and stools below, and either seat themselves tailor-fashion, or recline Roman-fashion. Nor is this in the least degree unpleasant; for the deck of a man-of-war is made as clean every morning as any table, and is kept so during the day by being swept at least once an hour. Of all the tunes played by the boatswain's pipe, that which calls the sweepers is the most frequently heard. When the order is given for dining on deck, the different messes into which the crew are divided occupy the spots immediately above their usual mess-places below, as far as the guns allow of their doing so. It has always struck me as very pleasing, to see the main-deck covered, from the after hatchway to the cook's coppers, with the people's messes, enjoying their noon-day repast; while the celestial grog, with which their hard, dry, salt junk is washed down, out-matches twenty-fold in Jack's estimation all the thin potations of those who, in no very courteous language, are called their betters.

Until we had crossed the North-east Trade, and reached the Calms, the ship's way through the water was too great to allow of bathing alongside; but we easily contrived a shower-bath, which answered very well. This consisted of a packing-box, the bottom of which was perforated with holes, triced up between two of the skids, near the gangway, and under the quarter of one of the boats on the booms. A couple of the top-men with draw-buckets supplied the water from above, while the bather stood on the main-deck, enjoying the shower. The time selected for this delightful bath was usually about four o'clock in the morning, after the middle watch was out, and before the exhausted officer tumbled into bed. A four hours' walk, indeed, in a sultry night, be it managed ever so gently, has a tendency to produce a degree of heat approaching to feverishness; and I have no words to describe the luxury of standing under a cool shower when the long task is ended. We were generally just enough fatigued to be sure of a sound, light, happy sleep, and just enough heated to revel in the coolest water that was to be had. In fact, we found that of the sea much too warm, being only two or three degrees below the temperature of the air. To remedy this, our plan was, to expose a dozen buckets-full on the gangway at eight or nine o'clock in the evening; and these, being allowed to stand till morning, became so much cooler by the evaporation in the night, that the shock was unspeakably grateful.

Perhaps there is not any more characteristic evidence of our being within the tropical regions than the company of those picturesque little animals, the flying-fish. It is true, that a stray one or two may sometimes be met with far north, making a few short skips out of the water, and I even remember seeing several close to the edge of the banks of Newfoundland, in latitude 45°; but it is not until the voyager has fairly reached the heart of the torrid zone that he sees the flying-fish in perfection. I have hardly ever observed a person so dull or unimaginative that his eye did not glisten as he watched a shoal of flying-fish rise from the sea, and skim along for several hundred yards. There is something in it so totally dissimilar to everything else in other parts of the world, that our wonder goes on increasing every time we see even a single one take its flight. The incredulity of the old Scotch woman on this head is sufficiently excusable. "You may hae seen rivers o' milk, and mountains o' sugar," said she to her son, returned from a voyage; "but you'll ne'er gar me believe you have seen a fish that could flee!"

The pleasant Trade, which had wafted us with different degrees of velocity, over a distance of more than a thousand miles, at last gradually failed. The sails began to flap gently against the masts, so gently, indeed, that we half hoped it was caused, not so much by the diminished force of the breeze, with which we wore very unwilling to part, as by that long and peculiar swell which,

"In the torrid clime
Dark heaving,"

is productive of oscillating motion on the ship; but the faint zephyrs, which had coquetted with our languid sails for an hour or two, at length took their leave, first of the courses, then of the topsails, and lastly of the royals and the smaller flying kites aloft. In vain we looked round and round the horizon for some traces of a return of our old friend the Trade, but could distinguish nothing save one polished, dark-heaving sheet of glass, reflecting the unbroken disc of the sun, and the bright clear sky in the moving mirror beneath. From the heat, which soon became intense, there was no escape, either on deck or below, aloft in the tops, or still higher on the cross-trees; neither could we find relief down in the hold; for it was all the same, except that in the exposed situations we were scorched or roasted, in the others suffocated. The useless helm was lashed amidships, the yards were lowered on the cap, and the boats were dropped into the water, to fill up the cracks and rents caused by the fierce heat. The occasion was taken advantage of to shift some of the sails, and to mend others; most of the running-ropes also were turned end for end. A listless feeling stole over us all, and we lay about the decks gasping for breath, seeking in vain some alleviation to our thirst by drink! drink! drink! Alas, the transient indulgence only made the matter worse!

Meanwhile, our convoy of huge China ships, rolling very slowly on the top of the long, smooth, and scarcely perceptible ridges, or sinking as gently between their summits, were scattered in all directions, with their heads in different ways, some looking homeward again, and some, as if by instinct, keeping still for the south. How it happens I do not know, but on occasions of perfect calm, or such as appear to be perfectly calm, the ships of a fleet generally drift away from one another; so that, at the end of a few hours, the whole circle bounded by the horizon is speckled over with these unmanageable hulks, as they may for the time be considered. It will occasionally happen, indeed, that two ships draw so near in a calm as to incur some risk of falling on board one another. I need scarcely mention, that, even in the smoothest water ever found in the open sea, two large ships coming into actual contact must prove a formidable encounter. As long as they are apart their gentle and rather graceful movements are fit subjects of admiration; and I have often seen people gazing, for an hour at a time, at the ships of a becalmed fleet, slowly twisting round, changing their position, and rolling from side to side, as silently as if they had been in harbour, or accompanied only by the faint, rippling sound tripping along the water-line, as the copper below the bends alternately sunk into the sea, or rose out of it, dripping wet, and shining as bright and clean as a new coin, from the constant friction of the ocean during the previous rapid passage across the Trade-winds.

But all this picturesque admiration changes to alarm when ships come so close as to risk a contact; for these motions, which appear so slow and gentle to the eye, are irresistible in their force; and as the chances are against the two vessels moving exactly in the same direction at the same moment, they must speedily grind or tear one another to pieces. Supposing them to come in contact side by side, the first roll would probably tear away the fore and main channels of both ships; the next roll, by interlacing the lower yards, and entangling the spars of one ship with the shrouds and backstays of the other, would in all likelihood bring down all three masts of both ships, not piecemeal, as the poet hath it, but in one furious crash. Beneath the ruins of the spars, the coils of rigging, and the enormous folds of canvas, might lie crushed many of the best hands, who, from being always the foremost to spring forward in such seasons of danger, are surest to be sacrificed. After this first catastrophe, the ships would probably drift away from one another for a little while, only to tumble together again and again, till they had ground one another to the water's edge, and one or both of them would fill and go down. In such encounters it is impossible to stop the mischief, and oak and iron break, and crumble in pieces, like sealing-wax and pie-crust. Many instances of such accidents are on record, but I never witnessed one.

To prevent these frightful rencontres care is always taken to hoist out the boats in good time, if need be, to tow the ships apart, or, what is generally sufficient, to tow the ships' heads in opposite directions. I scarcely know why this should have the effect, but certainly it appears that, be the calm ever so complete, or dead, as the term is, a vessel generally forges ahead, or steals along imperceptibly in the direction she is looking to; possibly from the conformation of the hull.

Shortly after the Trade-wind left us, a cloud rose in the south, which soon filled the whole air, and discharged upon us the most furious shower I ever beheld. The rain fell down in perpendicular lines of drops, or spouts, without a breath of wind, unaccompanied by thunder or any other noise, and in one great gush or splash, as if some prodigious reservoir had been upset over the fleet from the edge of the cloud.

Our noble commander, delighted with the opportunity of replenishing his stock of water, called out, "Put shot on each side, and slack all the stops down, so that the awnings may slope inwards. Get buckets and empty casks to hand instantly!"

In a few minutes the awnings were half full of water, and a hole connected with a hose having been prepared beforehand near the lowest point, where the canvas was weighed down by the shot, a stream descended as if a cock had been turned. Not a drop of this was lost; but being carried off, it was poured into a starting-tub at the hatchway, and so conveyed by a pipe to the casks in the hold. By the time the squall was over we had filled six or eight butts; and although not good to drink, from being contaminated by the tar from the ropes and sails, the water answered admirably for washing, which was our object in catching it.

Ever since the days of Captain Cook it has been the practice to allow the crew two washing days per week, on the details of which proceeding we all know the misery of putting on wet clothes, or sleeping in damp sheets. Now, a shirt washed in salt water is really a great deal worse than either; putting on linen washed in salt water, you first dry your unhappy shirt by exposing it to the sun or the fire till it seems as free from moisture as any bone; you then put it on, in hopes of enjoying the benefit of clean linen. Alas, not a whit of enjoyment follows! For if the air be in a humid state, or you are exposed to exercise, the treacherous salt, which, when crystallised, has hidden itself in the fibres of the cloth, speedily melts, and you have all the tortures of being once more wrapped in moist drapery. In your agony, you pull it off, run to the galley-range, and toast it over again; or you hang it up in the fiery heat of the southern sun, and when not a particle of wet seems to remain, you draw it on a second time, fancying your job at last complete. But, miserable man that you are! the insidious enemy still lurks there, and no art we yet know of will expel him, save and except that of a good sound rinsing in fresh water.

I need scarcely add, then, that there are few favours of the minor kind which a considerate captain may bestow on his crew more appreciated than giving them as much fresh water as will serve to carry off the abominable salt from their clothes, after they have first been well scoured in the water of the ocean; it is a great comfort, and an officer of any activity, by a judicious management of the ship's regular stock, and, above all, by losing no opportunity of catching rain water, need seldom be without the means of giving to each man of his crew a gallon twice a-week during the longest voyage.

It was from an old and excellent officer I first learned, that, by proper and constant care, this indulgence might almost always be granted. It is not easy, I freely admit, at all times, and in all climates, to keep a supply Of washing-water on board. But a captain ought to do what is right and kind, simply because it is right and kind, regardless of trouble; and his conduct in this respect should not be uninfluenced by the manner in which it is received; at all events, he may be certain that if his favours be not well received, the fault lies in his manner of giving them. Sailors have the most acute penetration possible on these occasions; and if the captain be actuated by any wish except that of doing his duty uniformly and kindly, the Johnnies will see through it all, and either laugh at him or hate him.

Printer's Flower

CHAPTER VIII.

AQUATIC SPORTS.

One day, after we had lost the north-east Trade wind, a furious squall, unperceived till it reached us, swept through the fleet. These violent tornadoes are generally called white squalls, from being unattended by those black heavy rain clouds. On the occasion of ordinary squalls, even with the advantage of the warning given by rising clouds, it is not always easy to escape their force unhurt. If the wind be fair, a natural reluctance is felt to shorten sail, at all events, until the squall is so near that there is an absolute necessity for doing so, and inexperienced officers are often deceived by the unexpected velocity with which the gust comes down upon them. Even the oldest sailors are apt to miscalculate the time likely to elapse before the wind can touch them. In these cases, unless the men be very active, the sails are torn, and sometimes a mast or a yard is carried away. It is, besides, often doubtful whether there is wind or merely a plump of rain in the squall; there are, therefore, few points of distinction more remarkable between the seamanship of an old and a young officer, than their power of judging of this matter. To a man quite inexperienced, a squall may look in the highest degree threatening; he will order the top-gallant clew-lines to be manned, place hands by the topsail haulyards, and lay along the main clew-garnets. His more experienced captain, however, being apprised of the squall's approach, steps on deck, takes a hasty look to windward, and says quietly to the officer of the watch, "Never mind, there's nothing in it, it's only rain; keep the sails on her."

But although the older authority nine times in ten proves correct in his judgment, even he might find it difficult, if not impossible, to tell exactly upon what his confidence rested. Sailors boast, indeed, of having an infallible test by which the point in question may be ascertained, their secret being clothed in the following rhymes so to call them:—

"If the rain's before the wind,
'Tis time to take the topsails in;
If the wind's before the rain,
Hoist your topsails up again."

The practical knowledge alluded to, however, comes not by rhymes, but by experience alone, with a kind of intuitive confidence. Many long and hard years of study, and myriads of forgotten trials must have been gone through to give this enviable knowledge.

No experience, however, can altogether guard against these sudden gusts or white squalls, since they make no show, except, sometimes, by a rippling of the water along which they are sweeping. On the occasion above alluded to there was not even this faint warning. The first ships of the convoy touched by the blast were laid over almost on their beam-ends, but in the next instant righted again, on the whole of their sails being blown clean out of the bolt-ropes. The Theban frigate and the Volage, then lying nearly in the centre of the fleet, were the only ships which saved an inch of canvas, owing chiefly to our having so many more hands on board, but partly to our having caught sight of the ruin brought on the vessels near us, just in time to let fly the sheets and haulyards and get the yards down. But even then, with the utmost exertion of every man and boy on board, we barely succeeded in clewing all up.

When this hurricane of a moment had passed, and we had time to look round, not a rag was to be seen in the whole fleet; while the Wexford, a ship near us, had lost her three top-gallant masts and jib-boom, and, what was a much more serious misfortune, her fore-topmast was dangling over the bows. Part of the fore-topsail was wrapped like a shawl round the lee cat-head, while the rest hung down in festoons from the collar of the fore-stay to the spritsail yard-arm. A stout party of seamen from each of the men-of-war were sent to assist in clearing the wreck, and getting up fresh spars; and a light fair wind having succeeded to the calm in which we had been lolling about for many days, we took our wounded bird in tow, and made all sail towards the equator. By this time, also, the China ships had bent a new set of sails, and were resuming their old stations in the appointed order of bearing, which it was our policy to keep up strictly, together with as many other of the formalities of a fleet in line of battle and on a cruise as we could possibly maintain.

While we were thus stealing along pleasantly enough under the genial influence of this newly-found air, which as yet was confined to the upper sails, and every one was looking open-mouthed to the eastward to catch a gulp of cool air, or was congratulating his neighbour on getting rid of the tiresome calm in which we had been so long half-roasted, half-suffocated, about a dozen flying-fish rose out of the water, just under the fore-chains, and skimmed away to windward at the height of ten or twelve feet above the surface. But sometimes the flying-fish merely skims the surface, so as to touch the tops of the successive waves, without rising and falling to follow the undulations of the sea; that they also rise as high as twenty feet out of the water is certain, being sometimes found in the channels of a line-of-battle ship; and they frequently fly into a 74 gun-ship's main-deck ports. On a frigate's forecastle and gangways, also elevations which may be taken at eighteen or twenty feet, they are often found. I remember seeing one, about nine inches in length, and weighing not less, I should suppose, than half-a-pound, skim into the Volage's main-deck port just abreast of the gangway. One of the main-topmen was coming up the quarter-deck ladder at the moment, when the flying-fish, entering the port, struck the astonished mariner on the temple, knocked him off the step, and very nearly laid him sprawling.

I was once in a prize, a low Spanish schooner, not above two feet and a-half out of the water, when we used to pick up flying-fish enough about the decks in the morning to give us a capital breakfast. They are not unlike whitings to the taste, though rather firmer, and very dry. They form, I am told, a considerable article of food for the negroes in the harbours of the West Indies. The method of catching them at night is thus described:—In the middle of the canoe a light is placed on the top of a pole, towards which object it is believed these fish always dart, while on both sides of the canoe a net is spread to a considerable distance, supported by out-riggers above the surface of the water; the fish dash at the light, pass it, and fall into the net on the other side.

Shortly after observing the cluster of flying-fish rise out of the water, we discovered two or three dolphins ranging past the ship, in all their beauty, and watched with some anxiety to see one of those aquatic chases of which our friends of the Indiamen had been telling us such wonderful stories. We had not long to wait; for the ship, in her progress through the water, soon put up another shoal of these little things, which, as the others had done, took their flight directly to windward. A large dolphin, which had been keeping company with us abreast of the weather gangway at the depth of two or three fathoms, and, as usual, glistening most beautifully in the sun, no sooner detected our poor dear little friends take wing, than he turned his head towards them, and, darting to the surface, leaped from the water with a velocity little short, as it seemed, of a cannon-ball. But although the impetus with which he shot himself into the air gave him an initial velocity greatly exceeding that of the flying-fish, the start which his fated prey had got enabled them to keep ahead of him for a considerable time.

The length of the dolphin's first spring could not be less than ten yards; and after he fell we could see him gliding like lightning through the water for a moment, when he again rose, and shot forwards with considerably greater velocity than at first, and, of course, to a still greater distance. In this manner the merciless pursuer seemed to stride along the sea with fearful rapidity, while his brilliant coat sparkled and flashed in the sun quite splendidly. As he fell headlong on the water at the end of each huge leap, a series of circles were sent far over the still surface, which lay as smooth as a mirror; for the breeze, although enough to keep the royals and top-gallant studding sails extended, was hardly as yet felt below.

The group of wretched flying-fish, thus hotly pursued, at length dropped into the sea; but we were rejoiced to observe that they merely touched the top of the swell, and scarcely sunk in it, at least they instantly set off again in a fresh and even more vigorous flight. It was particularly interesting to observe that the direction they now took was quite different from the one in which they had set out, implying but too obviously that they had detected their fierce enemy, who was following them with giant steps along the waves, and now gaining rapidly upon them. His terrific pace, indeed, was two or three times as swift as theirs, poor little things! and the greedy dolphin was fully as quick-sighted as the flying-fish which were trying to elude him; for whenever they varied their flight in the smallest degree, he lost not the tenth part of a second in shaping a new course, so as to cut off the chase; while they, in a manner really not unlike that of the hare, doubled more than once upon their pursuer. But it was soon too plainly to be seen that the strength and confidence of the flying-fish were fast ebbing. Their flights became shorter and shorter, and their course more fluttering and uncertain, while the enormous leaps of the dolphin appeared to grow only more vigorous at each bound. Eventually, indeed, we could see, or fancied we could see, that this skilful sea sportsman arranged all his springs with such an assurance of success, that he contrived to fall, at the end of each, just under the very spot on which the exhausted flying-fish were about to drop! Sometimes this catastrophe took place at too great a distance for us to see from the deck exactly what happened; but on our mounting high into the rigging, we may be said to have been in at the death; for then we could discover that the unfortunate little creatures, one after another, either popped right into the dolphin's jaws as they lighted on the water, or were snapped up instantly afterwards.

It was impossible not to take an active part with our pretty little friends of the weaker side, and accordingly we very speedily had our revenge. The middies and the sailors, delighted with the chance, rigged out a dozen or twenty lines from the jib-boom end, and spritsail yard-arms, with hooks baited merely with bits of tin, the glitter of which resembles so much that of the body and wings of the flying-fish, that many a proud dolphin, making sure of a delicious morsel, leaped in rapture at the deceitful prize.

It may be well to mention that the dolphin of sailors is not the fish so called by the ancient poets. Ours, which I learn from the Encyclopædia, is the Coryphoena hippurus of naturalists, is totally different from their Delphinus phocoena, termed by us the porpoise, respecting which there exists a popular belief amongst seamen that the wind may be expected from the quarter to which a shoal of porpoises are observed to steer. So far, however, from our respecting the speculations of these submarine philosophers, every art is used to drag them out of their native element, and to pass them through the fire to the insatiable Molochs of the lower decks and cockpits of his Majesty's ships, a race amongst whom the constant supply of the best provisions appears to produce only an increase of appetite.

One harpoon, at least, is always kept in readiness for action in the fore part of the ship. The sharpest and strongest of these deadly weapons is generally stopped or fastened to the fore-tack bumpkin, a spar some ten or twelve feet long, projecting from the bows of a ship on each side like the horns of a snail, to which the tack or lower corner of the foresail is drawn down when the ship is on a wind. This spar, which affords good footing, not being raised many feet above the water, while it is clear of the bow, and very nearly over the spot where the porpoises glide past, when shooting across the ship's forefoot, is eagerly occupied by the most active and expert harpooner on board, as soon as the report has been spread that a shoal, or, as the sailors call it, a "school" of porpoises, are round the ship. There is another favourite station which is speedily filled on these occasions; I mean, alongside of the slight-looking apparatus projecting perpendicularly downwards from the end of the bowsprit. This spar is not inaptly called the dolphin-striker, from its appearing to dash into the waves as the ship pitches; perhaps it may have acquired its name on account of its being so capital a position from which to strike that fish. The lower end of the spar is connected with the outer end of the jib-boom, by means of a stout rope, which, after passing through its extremity, extends to the ship; and it is upon this guy that the fortunate wielder of the harpoon fixes himself. The harpoon is a triangular, or rather a heart-shaped barbed weapon, somewhat larger than a man's head, and in the centre about as thick as his knuckles. Its point and edges are made of iron so soft that they can easily be brought to a rough edge by means of a file. This javelin-head, or, as it is technically called by whalers, the "mouth," is connected by a slender arm or shank, terminating in a socket. The barbed head or mouth is eight inches long, and six broad; the shank, with its socket, two feet and a-half long. The shank is not quite half an inch in diameter; and as this part is liable to be forcibly extended, twisted, and bent, it requires to be made of the toughest and most pliable iron.

A piece of small, but stout line, called, I think, the foreganger, is spliced securely to the shank of the harpoon. To the end of this line is attached any small rope that lies handiest on the forecastle, probably the top-gallant clew-line, or the jib down-haul. The rope, before being made fast to the foreganger, is rove through a block attached to some part of the bowsprit, or to the foremost swifter of the fore-rigging; a gang of hands are always ready to take hold of the end, and run the fish right out of the water when pierced by the iron.

The harpooner has nothing to attend to but the mere act of striking his object; and there are few exploits in which the dexterity of one person is more conspicuous over that of another than in delivering the harpoon. I have heard Captain Scoresby say, that, when a whale is struck, it is an object of importance to drive the weapon socket-deep into the blubber, or outer rind, of the floating monster; but in the case of the porpoise the true point of skill appears to lie in the aim alone: for the mere weight of the instrument, with its loaded staff, is sufficient to lodge the barbs in the body of the fish, and in many cases to carry it right through to the other side.

The strength of the porpoise must be very great, for I have seen him twist a whale harpoon several times round, and eventually tear himself off by main force. On this account, it is of consequence to get the floundering gentleman on board with the least possible delay after the fish is struck. Accordingly, the harpooner, the instant he has made a good hit, bawls out, "Haul away! haul away!" upon which the men stationed at the line run away with it, and the struggling wretch is raised high into the air. Two or three of the smartest hands have in the mean time prepared what is called a running bowline knot, or noose, the nature of which may be readily described by saying that although it slips up, or renders, very easily, it is perfectly secure, without being subject to jamming. This running bowline, of which several are always previously made ready, is placed by hand round the body of the porpoise, or it may be cast, like the lasso, over its tail, and then, but not till then, can the capture be considered quite secure. I have seen many a gallant prize of this kind fairly transfixed with the harpoon, and rattled like a shot up to the block, where it was hailed by the shouts of the victors as the source of a certain feast, and yet lost after all, either by the line breaking, or the dart coming out during the vehement struggles of the fish.

I remember once seeing a porpoise accidentally struck by a minor description of fish-spear called a grains, a weapon quite inadequate for such a service. The cord by which it was held, being much too weak, soon broke, and off dashed the wounded fish, right in the wind's eye, at a prodigious rate, with the staff erect on its back, like a signal-post. The poor wretch was instantly accompanied, or pursued, by myriads of his own species, whose instinct, it is said, teaches them to follow any track of blood, and even to devour their unfortunate fellow-fish. I rather doubt the fact of their cannibalism, but am certain that, whenever a porpoise is struck and escapes, he is followed by all the others, and the ship is deserted by the shoal in a few seconds. In the instance just mentioned, the grains with which the porpoise was struck had been got ready for spearing a dolphin; but the man in whose hands it happened to be, not being an experienced harpooneer, could not resist the opportunity of darting his weapon into the first fish that offered a fair mark.

The dolphin, the bonito, and the albacore, are sometimes caught with the grains, but generally by means of lines baited either with bits of tin, or with pieces of the flying-fish, when any are to be had. In fine weather, especially between the tropics, when the whole surface of the sea is often covered with them, a dozen lines are hung from the jib-boom end and spritsail yard, all so arranged, that when the ship sends forward, the hook, with its glittering bait, barely touches the water, but rises from it when the ship is raised up by the swell. The grains, spoken of above, resembles nothing so much that I know of as the trident which painters thrust into the hands of Daddy Neptune. If my nautical recollections, however, serve me correctly, this spear has five prongs, not three, and sometimes there are two sets, placed in lines at right angles to one another. The upper end of the staff being loaded with lead, it falls down and turns over the fish, which is then drawn on board on the top of the grains, as a potato or a herring might be presented on the point of a fork.

The dolphin is eaten and generally relished by every one, though certainly a plaguy dry fish. It is often cut into slices and fried like salmon, or boiled and soused in vinegar, to be eaten cold. The bonito is a coarser fish, and only becomes tolerable eating by the copious use of port-wine.

It happened in a ship I commanded that a porpoise was struck about half-an-hour before the cabin dinner; and I gave directions, as a matter of course, to my steward to dress a dish of steaks, cut well clear of the thick coating of blubber. It so chanced that none of the crew had ever before seen a fish of this kind taken, and in consequence there arose doubts amongst them whether or not it was good, or even safe eating. The word, however, being soon passed along the decks that orders had been given for some slices of the porpoise to be cooked for the captain's table, a deputation from forward was appointed to proceed as near to the cabin door as the etiquette of the service allowed, in order to establish the important fact of the porpoise being eatable. The dish was carried in, its contents speedily discussed, and a fresh supply having been sent for, the steward was, of course, intercepted in his way to the cook. "I say, Capewell," cried one of the hungry delegates, "did the captain really eat any of the porpoise?"

"Eat it!" exclaimed the steward, "look at that!" at the same time lifting off the cover, and showing a dish as well cleared as if it had previously been freighted with veal cutlets, and was now on its return from the midshipmen's berth.

"Ho! ho!" sung out Jack, running back to the forecastle; "if the skipper eats porpoise, I don't see why we should be nice; so here goes!" Then pulling forth the great clasp-knife which always hangs by a cord round the neck of a seaman, he plunged it into the sides of the fish, and, after separating the outside rind of blubber, detached half-a-dozen pounds of the red meat, which, in texture and taste, and in the heat of its blood, resembles beef, though very coarse. His example was so speedily followed by the rest of the ship's company, that when I walked forward, after dinner, in company with the doctor, to take the post-mortem view of the porpoise more critically than before, we found the whole had been broiled and eaten within half-an-hour after I had unconsciously given, by my example, an official sanction to the feast.

On the 24th of May, the day before crossing the equator, I saw the grandest display of all these different kinds of fish which it has ever been my fortune to meet with. In my journal, written on that day, I find some things related of which I have scarcely any recollection, and certainly have never witnessed since. A bonito, it appears, darted out of the water after a flying-fish, open-mouthed, and so true was the direction of his leap that he actually closed with the chase in the air, and sought to snap it up; but, owing to some error in his calculation, the top of his head striking the object of pursuit, sent it spinning off in a direction quite different from that which his own momentum obliged him to follow. A number of those huge birds, the albatrosses, were soaring over the face of the waters, and the flying-fish, when rising into the air to avoid the dolphins and bonitos, were frequently caught by these poaching birds, to the very reasonable disappointment of the sporting fish below. These intruders proceeded not altogether with impunity, however; for we hooked several of them, who, confident in their own sagacity and strength of wing, swooped eagerly at the baited hooks towed far astern of the ship, and were thus drawn on board, screaming and flapping their wings in a very ridiculous plight. To render this curious circle of mutual destruction quite complete, though it may diminish our sympathy for the persecuted flying-fish, I ought to mention that on the same day one dropped on board in the middle of its flight, and in its throat another small fish was found half swallowed, but still alive!

All this may be considered, more or less, as mere sport; but in the capture of the shark, a less amiable, or, I may say, a more ferocious spirit is sure to prevail. There would seem, indeed, to be a sort of perpetual and hereditary war waged between sailors and sharks, like that said to exist between the Esquimaux and the Indians of North America, where, as each of the belligerents is under the full belief that every death, whether natural or violent, is caused by the machinations of the other side, there is no hope of peace between them, as long as the high conflicting parties shall be subject to the laws of mortality.

In like manner, I fear, that in all future times, as in all times past, when poor Jack falls overboard in Madras roads, or in Port Royal harbour, he will be crunched between the shark's quadruple or quintuple rows of serrated teeth, with as merciless a spirit of enjoyment as Jack himself can display. Certainly, I nave never seen the savage part of our nature peep out more clearly than upon these occasions, when a whole ship's company, captain, officers, and young gentlemen inclusive, shout in triumphant exultation over the body of a captive shark, floundering in impotent rage on the poop or forecastle. The capture always affords high and peculiar sport, for it is one in which every person on board sympathises, and, to a certain extent, takes a share. Like a fox-chase, it is ever new, and draws within its vortex every description of person. Even the monkey, if there be one on board, takes a vehement interest in the whole progress of this wild scene. I remember once observing Jacko running backwards and forwards along the after-part of the poop hammock-netting, grinning, screaming, and chattering at such a rate, that, as it was nearly calm, he was heard all over the decks.

"What's the matter with you, Master Mona?" said the quarter-master; for the animal came from Teneriffe, and preserved his Spanish cognomen. Jacko replied not, but merely stretching his head over the railing, stared with his eyes almost bursting from his head, and by the intensity of his grin bared his teeth and gums nearly from ear to ear.

The sharp curved dorsal fin of a huge shark was now seen, rising about six inches above the water, and cutting the glazed surface of the sea by as fine a line as if a sickle had been drawn along.

"Messenger! run to the cook for a piece of pork," cried the captain, taking command with as much glee as if it had been an enemy's cruiser.

"Where's your hook, quarter-master?"

"Here, sir, here!" cried the fellow, feeling the point, and declaring it as sharp as any lady's needle, and in the next instant piercing with it a huge junk of rusty pork, weighing four or five pounds; for nothing, scarcely, is too large or too high in flavour for the stomach of a shark.

The hook, which is as thick as one's little finger, has a curvature about as large as that of a man's hand when half closed, and is from six to eight inches in length, with a formidable barb. This fierce-looking grappling-iron is furnished with three or four feet of chain, a precaution which is absolutely necessary; for a voracious shark will sometimes gobble the bait so deep into his stomach, that he would snap through the rope as easily as if he were nipping the head off an asparagus.

A good strong line, generally the end of the mizen-topsail-haulyards, being made fast to the chain, the bait is cast into the ship's wake; for it is very seldom so dead a calm that a vessel has not some small motion through the water. I think I have remarked that at sea the sharks are most apt to make their appearance when the ship is going along at a rate of somewhat less than a mile an hour, a speed which barely brings her under command of the rudder, or gives her what is technically called steerage-way.

A shark, like a midshipman, is generally very hungry; but in the rare cases when he is not in good appetite he sails slowly up to the bait, smells at it, and gives it a poke with his shovel-nose, turning it over and over. He then edges off to the right or left, as if he apprehended mischief, but soon returns again, to enjoy the delicious haut goût of the damaged pork, of which a piece is always selected, if it can be found.

While this coquetry or shyness is exhibited by John Shark, the whole after-part of the ship is so clustered with heads that not an inch of spare room is to be had for love or money. The rigging, the mizen-top, and even the gaff, out to the very peak, the hammock-nettings and the quarters, almost down to the counter, are stuck over with breathless spectators, speaking in whispers, if they venture to speak at all, or can find leisure for anything but fixing their gaze on the monster, who as yet is free to roam the ocean, but who, they trust, will soon be in their power. I have seen this go on for an hour together; after which the shark has made up his mind to have nothing to say to us, and either swerved away to windward, if there be any breeze at all, or dived so deep that his place could be detected only by a faint touch or flash of white many fathoms down. The loss of a Spanish galleon in chase, I am persuaded, could hardly cause more bitter regret, or call forth more intemperate expressions of anger and impatience than the failure in hooking a shark is always sure to produce on board a ship at sea.

On the other hand, I suppose the first symptom of an enemy's flag coming down in the fight was never hailed with greater joy than is felt by a ship's crew on the shark turning round to seize the bait. The preparatory symptoms of this intention are so well known to every one on board, that, the instant they begin to appear, a greedy whisper of delight passes from mouth to mouth amongst the assembled multitude; every eye is lighted up, and such as have not bronzed their cheeks by too long exposure to sun and wind to betray any change of colour may be seen to alter their hue from pale to red, and back to pale again, like the tints on the sides of the dying dolphin.

It is supposed by seamen that the shark must of necessity turn on his back before he can bite anything, and, generally speaking, he certainly does so turn himself before he takes the bait; but this arises from two circumstances—one of them accidental and belonging to the particular occasion, the other arising out of the peculiar conformation and position of his mouth. When a bait is towed astern of a ship that has any motion through the water at all, it is necessarily brought to the surface, or nearly so. This, of course, obliges the shark to bite at it from below; and as his mouth is placed under his chin, not over it, he must turn nearly on his back before he can seize the floating piece of meat in which the hook is concealed. Even if he does not turn completely round, he is forced to slue himself, as it is called, so far as to show some portion of his white belly. The instant the white skin flashes on the sight of the expectant crew, a subdued cry, or murmur of satisfaction, is heard amongst the crowd; but no one speaks, for fear of alarming the shark.

Sometimes, the very instant the bait is cast over the stern, the shark flies at it with such eagerness that he actually springs partially out of the water. This, however, is rare. On these occasions he gorges the bait, the hook, and a foot or two of the chain, without any mastication or delay, and darts off with his treacherous prize with such prodigious velocity and force that it makes the rope crack again as soon as the whole coil is drawn out; but in general he goes more leisurely to work, and seems rather to suck in the bait than to bite at it. Much dexterity is required in the hand which holds the line at this moment; for a bungler is apt to be too precipitate, and to jerk away the hook before it has got far enough down the shark's maw. Our greedy friend, indeed, is never disposed to relinquish what may once have passed his formidable batteries of teeth; but the hook, by a premature tug of the line, may fix itself in a part of the jaw so weak that it gives way in the fierce struggle which always follows. The secret of the sport is, to let the voracious monster gulp down the huge mess of pork, and then to give the rope a violent pull, by which the barbed point, quitting the edge of the bait, buries itself in the coats of the victim's throat or stomach. As the shark is not a personage to submit patiently to such treatment, it will not be well for any one whose foot happens to be accidentally on the coil of the rope, for, when the hook is first fixed, it spins out like the log-line of a ship going twelve knots.

The suddenness of the jerk with which the poor devil is brought up, when he has reached the length of his tether, often turns him quite over on the surface of the water. Then commence the loud cheers, taunts, and other sounds of rage and triumph, so long suppressed. A steady pull is insufficient to carry away the line; but it sometimes happens that the violent struggles of the shark, when too speedily drawn up, snap either the rope or the hook, and so he gets off, to digest the remainder as he best can. It is, accordingly, held the best practice to play him a little, with his mouth at the surface, till he becomes somewhat exhausted. No sailor, therefore, ought ever to think of hauling a shark on board merely by the rope fastened to the hook; for, however impotent his struggles may generally be in the water, they are rarely unattended with risk when the rogue is drawn half-way up. To prevent the line breaking, or the hook snapping, or the jaw being torn away, the device formerly described, of a running bowline knot, is always adopted. This noose, being slipped down the rope, and passed over the monster's head, is made to jam at the point of junction of the tail with the body. When this is once fixed, the first act of the piece is held to be complete, and the vanquished enemy is afterwards easily drawn over the taffrail and flung on the deck, to the unspeakable delight of all hands. But, although the shark is out of his element, he has by no means lost his power of doing mischief; and I would advise no one to come within range of the tail, or thrust his toes too near the animal's mouth. The blow of a tolerably large-sized shark's tail might break a man's leg; and I have seen a three-inch hide tiller-rope bitten more than half-through full ten minutes after the wretch had been dragged about the quarter-deck, and had made all his victors keep at the most respectful distance. I remember hearing the late Dr. Wollaston, with his wonted ingenuity, suggest a method for measuring the strength of a shark's bite. If a smooth plate of lead, he thought, were thrust into the fish's mouth, the depth which his teeth should pierce the lead would furnish a sort of scale of the force exerted.

I need scarcely mention, that, when a shark is floundering about, the quarter-deck becomes a scene of pretty considerable confusion; and if there be blood on the occasion, as there generally is, from all this rough usage, the stains are not to be got rid of without a week's scrubbing, and many a growl from the captain of the after-guard. For the time, however, all such considerations are superseded; that is to say, if the commander himself takes an interest in the sport, and he must be rather a spoony skipper that does not. If he be indifferent about the fate of the shark, it is speedily dragged forward to the forecastle, amidst the kicks, thumps, and execrations of the conquerors, who very soon terminate his miserable career by stabbing him with their knives, boarding-pikes, and tomahawks, like so many wild Indians.

The first operation is always to deprive him of his tail, which is seldom an easy matter, it not being at all safe to come too near; but some dextrous hand, familiar with the use of the broad axe, watches for a quiet moment, and at a single blow severs it from the body. He is then closed with by another, who leaps across the prostrate foe, and with an adroit cut rips him open from snout to tail, and the tragedy is over, so far as the struggles and sufferings of the principal actor are concerned. There always follows, however, the most lively curiosity on the part of the sailors to learn what the shark has got stowed away in his inside; but they are often disappointed, for the stomach is generally empty. I remember one famous exception, indeed, when a very large fellow was caught on board the Alceste, in Anjeer Roads at Java, when we were proceeding to China with the embassy under Lord Amherst. A number of ducks and hens which had died in the night were, as usual, thrown overboard in the morning, besides several baskets, and many other minor things, such as bundles of shavings and bits of cordage: all of which were found in this huge sea-monster's inside. But what excited most surprise and admiration was the hide of a buffalo, killed on board that day for the ship's company's dinner. The old sailor who had cut open the shark stood with a foot on each side, and removed the articles one by one from the huge cavern into which they had been indiscriminately drawn. When the operator came at last to the buffalo's skin, he held it up before him like a curtain, and exclaimed, "There, my lads! d'ye see that? He has swallowed a buffalo; but he could not disgest the hide!"

I have never been so unfortunate as to see a man bitten by a shark, though, in calm weather, it is usual to allow the people to swim about the ship. It would seem that they are disturbed by the splashing and other noises of so many persons, and keep at a distance; for although they are often observed near the ship both before and after the men have been bathing, they very rarely come near the swimmers. I remember once, indeed, at Bermuda, seeing a shark make a grab at a midshipman's heel, just as he was getting into the boat alongside. This youngster, who, with one or two others, had been swimming about for an hour, was the last of the party in the water. No shark had been seen during the whole morning; but just as he was drawing his foot into the boat the fish darted from the bottom. Fortunately for my old messmate, there was no time for the shark to make the half-turn of the body necessary to bring his mouth to bear; and he escaped, by half an inch, a fate which, besides its making one shudder to think of, would have deprived the service of an officer now deservedly in the higher ranks of his profession.

Printer's Flower

CHAPTER IX.

A MAN OVERBOARD!

The strange and almost savage ceremonies used at sea on crossing the equator have been so often described that a voyager, at this time of day, may be well excused for omitting any minute account of such wild proceedings. The whole affair, indeed, is preposterous in its conception, and, I must say, brutal in its execution. Notwithstanding all this, however, I have not only permitted it to go on in ships which I commanded, but have even encouraged it, and set it agoing, when the men themselves were in doubt. Its evil is transient if any evil there be, while it certainly affords Jack a topic for a month beforehand and a fortnight afterwards; and if so ordered as to keep its monstrosities within the limits of strict discipline, which is easy enough, it may even be made to add to the authority of the officers, instead of weakening their influence.

In a well-regulated ship, within one hour from the time when these scenes of riot are at their height, order is restored, the decks are washed and swabbed up, the wet things are hung on the clothes' lines between the masts to dry; and the men, dressed in clean trousers and duck frocks, are assembled at their guns for muster, as soberly and sedately as if nothing had happened to discompose the decorous propriety of the ship's discipline. The middies, in like manner, may safely be allowed to have their own share of this rough fun, provided they keep as clear of their immediate superiors as the ship's company keep clear of the young gentlemen. And I must do the population of the cockpit the justice to say, that, when they fairly set about it, maugre their gentleman-like habits, aristocratical sprinklings, and the march of intellect to boot, they do contrive to come pretty near to the honest folks before the mast in the article of ingenious ferocity. The captain, of course, and, generally speaking, all the officers keep quite aloof, pocketing up their dignity with vast care, and ready, at a moment's warning, to repress any undue familiarity. As things proceed, however, one or two of the officers may possibly become so much interested in the skylarking scenes going forward as to approach a little too near, and laugh a little too loud, consistently with the preservation of the dignity of which they were so uncommonly chary at first starting. It cannot be expected, and indeed is not required, that the chief actors in these wild gambols, stripped to the buff, and shying buckets of water at one another, should be confined within very narrow limits in their game. Accordingly, some mount the rigging to shower down their cascades, while others squirt the fire-engine from unseen corners upon the head of the unsuspecting passer-by. And if it so chances (I say chances) that any one of the "commissioned nobs" of the ship shall come in the way of these explosions, it is served out to him like a thunder-storm, "all accidentally," of course. Well; what is he to do? He feels that he has indiscreetly trusted himself too far; and even if he has not actually passed the prescribed line, still he was much too near it, and the offence is perhaps unintentional. At all events, it is of too trifling a nature; and, under the peculiar circumstances of the moment, to make a complaint to the captain would be ridiculous. Having, therefore, got his jacket well wet, and seeing the ready means of revenging himself in kind, he snatches up a bucket, and, forgetting his dignity, hurls the contents in the face of the mid who has given him a sousing but two seconds before! From that moment his commission goes for nothing, and he becomes, for the time being, one of the biggest Billy-boys amongst them. The captain observing him in this mess, shrugs his shoulders, walks aft, muttering, "It's all your own fault, Mr. Hailtop; you've put yourself amongst these mad younkers; now see how they'll handle you!"

Nothing, I confess, now looks to me more completely out of character with our well-starched discipline than a "staid lieutenant" romping about the booms, skulling up the rigging, blowing the grampus, and having it blown upon him by a parcel of rattle-pated reefers. But I remember well in the Volage being myself so gradually seduced by this animating spectacle of fun, that, before I knew where I was, I had crossed the rope laid on the deck as a boundary between order and disorder, and received a bucket of cold water in each ear, while the spout of a fire-engine, at the distance of two feet, was playing full in my eyes. On turning my head round to escape these cataracts, and to draw breath, a tar-brush was rammed half-way down my throat!

Far different was the scene, and very different, of course, my deportment, four or five years afterwards on the same spot, when, instead of being the junior lieutenant, I was the great gun of all, the mighty master-nob of the whole party, that is to say, the captain himself. I was then in command of the Lyra, a ten-gun sloop-of-war; and after the shaving operations were over, and all things put once more in order, I went on board the Alceste frigate to dine with my excellent friend and commanding officer, the late Sir Murray Maxwell. Lord Amherst, the ambassador to China, was on board, and in great glee with the sight of what had been enacted before him; for although, as I have always said, these scenes are not of a nature to bear agreeable description, they certainly are amusing enough to see—for once.

We soon sat down to dinner; and there was, of course, a great deal of amusement in telling the anecdotes of the day, and describing Father Neptune's strange aspect, and his still stranger-looking family and attendants. I ventured to back one of my figures against all or any of theirs, if not for monstrosity, at least for interest of another kind. Our dripping Neptune in the Lyra was accompanied, as usual, by a huge she-monster representing Amphitrite, being no other than one of the boatswain's mates dressed up with the main-hatchway tarpaulin for a cloak, the jolly-boat's mizen for a petticoat, while two half-wet swabs furnished her lubberly head with ringlets. By her side sat a youth, her only son Triton, a morsel of submarine domestic history ascertained by reference previously made to Lempriere's Dictionary. This poor little fellow was a great pet amongst the crew of the brig, and was indeed suspected to be entitled by birth to a rank above his present station, so gentle and gentleman-like he always appeared. Even on this occasion, when disfigured by paint, pitch, and tar, copiously daubed over his delicate person, to render him fit company for his papa old Neptune, he still looked as if his ill-favoured parents had stolen him, and were trying in vain to disguise their roguery by rigging him up in their own gipsy apparel.

It was very nearly dark when I rowed back to the Lyra, which had been hanging for the last half hour on the frigate's weather-quarter, at the distance of a cable's length, watching for my return. The wind was so light, and the brig so close, that no signal was made to heave to; indeed I had scarcely rowed under the Alceste's stern, on my way back, before it was necessary to call out, "In bow!" The rattle of the oar on the thwarts gave the earliest notice of my approach to the people on board the little vessel, and I could hear the first lieutenant exclaim in haste, "Attend the side! Where are the sides-men?"

Scarcely had these words been spoken, when I heard a splash in the water, followed by a faint cry of distress and despair. In the next instant the brig was hove about, and the stern-boat lowered down, accompanied by all the hurried symptoms of a man having fallen overboard. I made the people in the boat tug at their oars towards the spot; but though we pulled over and over the ship's wake twenty times, the water was everywhere unruffled and unmarked by any speck. At length I rowed on board, turned the hands up to muster, to ascertain who was gone, and found all present but our poor little Triton! It appeared that the lad, who was one of the sides-men, fatigued with the day's amusement, had stretched himself in the fore-part of the quarter-deck hammock-netting, and gone to sleep. The sharp voice of the officer, on seeing the gig almost alongside, had roused the unhappy boy too suddenly; he quite forgot where he was, and, instead of jumping in-board, plunged into the sea, never to rise again!

There are few accidents more frequent at sea than that of a man falling overboard; and yet, strange to say, whenever it happens, it takes every one as completely by surprise as if such a thing had never occurred before. What is still more unaccountable, and, I must say, altogether inexcusable, is the fact of such an incident invariably exciting a certain degree of confusion, even in well-regulated ships. Whenever I have witnessed the tumultuous rush of the people from below, their eagerness to crowd into the boats, and the reckless devotion with which they fling themselves into the water to save their companions, I could not help thinking that it was no small disgrace to us, to whose hands the whole arrangements of discipline are confided, that we had not yet fallen upon any method of availing ourselves to good purpose of so much generous activity.

Sailors are men of rough habits, but their feelings are not by any means coarse; and, generally speaking, they are much attached to one another, and will make great sacrifices to their messmates or shipmates when opportunities occur. A very little address on the part of the officers, as I have before hinted, will secure an extension of these kindly sentiments to the quarter-deck. But what I was alluding to just now was the cordiality of the friendships which spring up between the sailors themselves, who, it must be recollected, have no other society, and all, or almost all, whose ordinary social ties have been broken either by the chances of war, or by the very nature of their roving and desultory life, which carries them they really know not where, and care not wherefore.

I remember once, when cruising off Terceira in the Endymion, that a man fell overboard and was drowned. After the usual confusion, and a long search in vain, the boats were hoisted up, and the hands called to make sail. I was officer of the forecastle, and on looking about to see if all the men were at their stations, missed one of the foretop-men. Just at that moment I observed some one curled up, and apparently hiding himself under the bow of the barge, between the boat and the booms. "Hillo!" I said, "who are you? What are you doing here, you skulker? Why are you not at your station?"

"I am not skulking, sir," said the poor fellow, the furrows in whose bronzed and weather-beaten cheek were running down with tears. The man we had just lost had been his messmate and friend, he told me, for ten years. I begged his pardon in full sincerity, for having used such harsh words to him at such a moment, and bid him go below to his berth for the rest of the day.

"Never mind, sir, never mind," said the kind-hearted seaman, "it can't be helped. You meant no harm, sir. I am as well on deck as below. Bill's gone, sir, but I must do my duty."

So saying he drew the sleeve of his jacket twice or thrice across his eyes, and mastering his grief within his breast, walked to his station as if nothing had happened.

In the same ship, and nearly about the same time, some of the people were bathing alongside in a calm sea. It is customary on such occasions to spread a studding sail on the water, by means of lines from the fore and main yard-arms, for the use of those who either cannot swim, or who are not expert in this art, so very important to all seafaring people. Half-a-dozen of the ship's boys, youngsters sent on board by that admirable and most patriotic of naval institutions, the Marine Society, were floundering about in the sail, and sometimes even venturing beyond the leech rope. One of the least of these urchins, but not the least courageous of their number, when taunted by his more skilful companions with being afraid, struck out boldly beyond the prescribed bounds. He had not gone much further than his own length, however, along the surface of the fathomless sea, when his heart failed him, poor little man! and along with his confidence away also went his power of keeping his head above water. So down he sank rapidly, to the speechless horror of the other boys, who, of course, could lend the drowning child no help.

The captain of the forecastle, a tall, fine-looking, hard-a-weather fellow, was standing on the shank of the sheet anchor, with his arms across, and his well-varnished canvas bat drawn so much over his eyes that it was difficult to tell whether he was awake, or merely dozing in the sun, as he leaned his back against the fore-topmast backstay. The seaman, however, had been attentively watching the young party all the time, and, rather fearing that mischief might ensue from their rashness, he had grunted out a warning to them from time to time, to which they paid no sort of attention. At last he desisted, saying they might drown themselves if they had a mind, for never a bit would he help them; but no sooner did the sinking figure of the adventurous little boy catch his eye, than, diver-fashion, joining the palms of his hands over his head, he shot head-foremost into the water. The poor lad sunk so rapidly that he was at least a couple of fathoms under the surface before he was arrested by the grip of the sailor, who soon rose again, bearing the bewildered boy in his hand, and, calling to the other youngsters to take better care of their companion, chucked him right into the belly of the sail in the midst of the party. The fore-sheet was hanging in the calm, nearly into the water, and by it the dripping seaman scrambled up again to his old berth on the anchor, shook himself like a great Newfoundland dog, and then, jumping on the deck, proceeded across the forecastle to shift his clothes.

At the top of the ladder he was stopped by the marine officer, who had witnessed the whole transaction, as he sat across the gangway hammocks, watching the swimmers, and trying to get his own consent to undergo the labour of undressing and dressing. Said the soldier to the sailor, "That was very well done of you, my man, and right well deserves a glass of grog. Say so to the gun-room steward as you pass; and tell him it is my orders to fill you out a stiff norwester."

The soldier's offer was kindly meant, but rather clumsily timed, at least so thought Jack; for though he inclined his head in acknowledgment of the attention, and instinctively touched his hat, when spoken to by an officer, he made no reply, till out of the marine's hearing, when he laughed, or rather chuckled out to the people near him, "Does the good gentleman suppose I'll take a glass of grog for saving a boy's life?"

It is surely very odd that there should ever be such a thing as a sailor who cannot swim. And it is still more marvellous that there should be found people who actually maintain that a sailor who cannot swim has a better chance than one who can.

This strange doctrine, as may well be supposed, derives but slender support from any well-established facts. It is merely asserted that, on some occasions of shipwreck, the boldest swimmers have been lost in trying to reach the shore, when they might have been saved had they stayed by the ship. This may be true enough in particular cases, and yet the general position grounded upon it utterly absurd. The most skilful horsemen sometimes break their necks, but this is hardly adduced as an argument against learning to ride. I suppose there is not an officer in the service, certainly not one who has reached the rank of captain, who has not seen many men drowned solely from not being able to swim; that is, because they had not learned a very simple art, of which, under his official injunctions, and aided by due encouragement, they might readily have acquired a sufficient knowledge. My own conscience is not quite clear on this score, whatever that of my brother officers may be; and certainly, should I again take the command of a ship, I shall use every exertion, and take advantage of every opportunity, to encourage the men and officers to acquire this invaluable accomplishment. Would it be unreasonable to refuse the rating of A.B. (able seaman) on the ship's books to any man who could not swim? If it be our duty to ascertain that a sailor can "hand, reef, and steer," before we place against his name these mystical letters, might we not well superadd, as a qualification, that he should also be able to keep his head above water, in the event of falling overboard, or that he should have it in his power to save another's life, if required to leap into the sea for that purpose by the orders of his superior? At present, in such an emergency, an officer has to ask amongst a dozen persons, "Which of you can swim?" instead of saying to the one nearest him, "Jump overboard after that man who is sinking!"

This, then, seems the first material step in the establishment of an improved system in that branch of seamanship which relates to picking up men who fall overboard. There can be no doubt that highly-excited feelings always stand in the way of exact discipline, and especially of that prompt, hearty, and thoroughly confiding obedience to the officer under whose orders we are serving. Such obedience is necessary on this occasion, above all others, and is essentially required, in order to accomplish the purpose in view.

Different officers will, of course, devise different plans for the accomplishment of the same end. Every one who has been exposed to the misery of seeing a man fall overboard must remember that by far the greatest difficulty was to keep people back, there being always ten times as many persons as are required, not only ready, but eager to place themselves in the situations of greatest risk. In executing the duties of a ship-of-war, there should be no volunteering allowed. Every man ought to have a specific duty, or a set of duties, to perform at all times. But these duties, in the case of a man falling overboard, must, of course, vary with the hour of the day or night, with the circumstance of its being the starboard or the larboard watch on deck, with the weather being fine or tempestuous, or with the course the ship is steering relatively to the wind, the quantity of sail, and so on. The crew of every ship should be exercised or drilled, if not as frequently, at least specifically, in the methods of picking up a man, as they are trained in the exercise of the great guns and small arms, or in that of reefing topsails.

Every one who has been much at sea must remember the peculiar sounds which pervade a ship when a man is known to have fallen overboard. The course steered is so suddenly altered, that as she rounds to the effect of the sails is doubled; the creaking of the tiller-ropes and rudder next strike the ear; then follows the pitter-patter of several hundred feet in rapid motion, producing a singular tremor, fore and aft. In the midst of these ominous noises may be heard, over all, the shrill startling voice of the officer of the watch, generally betraying in its tone more or less uncertainty of purpose. Then the violent flapping of the sails, and the mingled cries of "Clear away the boats!" "Is the life-buoy gone?" "Heave that grating after him!" "Throw that hen-coop over the stern!" "Who is it, do you know?" "Where did he fall from?" "Can he swim?" "Silence!" An impetuous, and too often an ill-regulated rush now succeeds to gain the boats, which are generally so crowded that it becomes dangerous to lower them down, and more time is lost in getting the people out again than would have manned them twice over, if any regular system had been prepared, and rendered familiar and easy by practice beforehand.

I could give a pretty long list of cases which I have myself seen, or have heard others relate, where men have been drowned while their shipmates were thus struggling on board who should be first to save them, but who, instead of aiding, were actually impeding one another by their hurry-skurry and general ignorance of what really ought to be done. I remember, for example, hearing of a line-of-battle-ship, in the Baltic, from which two men fell one evening, when the ship's company were at quarters. The weather was fine, the water smooth, and the ship going about seven knots. The two lads in question, who were furling the fore-royal at the time, lost their hold, and were jerked far in the sea. At least a dozen men, leaving their guns, leaped overboard from different parts of the ship, some dressed as they were, and others stripped. Of course, the ship was in a wretched state of discipline where such frantic proceedings could take place. The confusion soon became worse confounded; but the ship was hove aback, and several boats lowered down. Had it not been smooth water, daylight, and fine weather, many of these absurd volunteers must have perished. I call them absurd, because there is no sense in merely incurring a great hazard, without some useful purpose to guide the exercise of courage. These intrepid fellows merely knew that a man had fallen overboard, and that was all; so away they leaped out of the ports and over the hammock-nettings, without knowing whereabouts the object of their Quixotic heroism might be. The boats were obliged to pick up the first that presented themselves, for they were all in a drowning condition; but the two unhappy men who had been flung from aloft, being furthest off, went to the bottom before their turn came. Whereas, had not their undisciplined shipmates gone into the water, the boats would have been at liberty to row towards them, and they might have been saved. I am quite sure, therefore, that there can be no offence more deserving of punishment, as a matter of discipline, and in order to prevent such accidents as this, than the practice of leaping overboard after a man who has fallen into the water. There are cases, no doubt, in which it would be a positive crime in a swimmer not to spring, without waiting for orders, to the rescue of a fellow-creature whom he sees sinking in the waves, at whatever hazard to himself or to others; but I speak of that senseless, blindfold style in which I have very often witnessed men pitch themselves into the water, without knowing whether the person who had fallen overboard was within their reach or not. Even in highly-disciplined ships this will sometimes take place; and the circumstances which increase the danger seem only to stimulate the boldest spirits to brave the risk. I conceive there is no method of putting a stop to the practice but by positively enjoining the people not to go overboard, unless expressly ordered; and by explaining to them on every occasion when the ship's company are exercised for this purpose, that the difficulty of picking a man up is generally much augmented by such indiscreet zeal.

The following incidents occurred in a frigate off Cape Horn, in a gale of wind, under close-reefed main-topsail and storm-staysails. At half-past twelve at noon, when the people were at dinner, a young lad was washed out of the lee fore-channels. The life-buoy was immediately let go, and the main-topsail laid to the mast. Before the jolly-boat could be lowered down, a man jumped overboard, as he said, "promiscuously," for he never saw the boy at all, nor was he ever within half-a-cable's length of the spot where he was floundering about. Although the youth could not swim, he contrived to keep his head above water till the boat reached him, just as he was beginning to sink. The man who had jumped into the sea was right glad to give up his "promiscuous" search, and to make for the life-buoy, upon which he perched himself, and stood shivering for half-an-hour, like a shag on the Mewstone, till the boat came to his relief.

At four o'clock of the same day a man fell from the rigging; the usual alarm and rush took place; the lee-quarter boat was so crowded that one of the topping lifts gave way, the davit broke, and the cutter, now suspended by one tackle, soon knocked herself to pieces against the ship's side. Of course, the people in her were jerked out very quickly, so that, instead of there being only one man in the water, there were nearly a dozen swimming about. More care was taken in hoisting out another boat, and, strange to say, all the people were picked up, except the original unfortunate man, who, but for the accident, which ought to have been prevented, would in all probability have been saved. Neither he nor the life-buoy, however, could be discovered before the night closed.

The life-buoy at present in use on board his Majesty's ships, and, I trust, in most merchant ships, has an admirable contrivance connected with it, which has saved many lives, when otherwise there would hardly have been a chance of the men being rescued from a watery grave.

This life-buoy, which is the invention of Lieutenant Cook of the Navy, consists of two hollow copper vessels connected together, each about as large as an ordinary-sized pillow, and of buoyancy and capacity sufficient to support one man standing upon them. Should there be more than one person requiring support, they can lay hold of rope beckets fitted to the buoy, and so sustain themselves. Between the two copper vessels there stands up a hollow pole, or mast, into which is inserted, from below, an iron rod, whose lower extremity is loaded with lead, in such a manner, that when the buoy is let go the iron rod slips down to a certain extent, lengthens the lever, and enables the lead at the end to act as ballast. By this means the mast is kept upright, and the buoy prevented from upsetting. The weight at the end of the rod is arranged so as to afford secure footing for two persons, should that number reach it; and there are also, as I said before, large rope beckets, through which others can thrust their head and shoulders, till assistance is rendered.

On the top of the mast is fixed a port-fire, calculated to burn, I think, twenty minutes, or half-anhour; this is ignited most ingeniously by the same process which lets the buoy down into the water. So that a man falling overboard at night is directed to the buoy by the blaze on the top of its pole or mast, and the boat sent to rescue him also knows in what direction to pull. Even supposing, however, the man not to have gained the life-buoy, it is clear that, if above the surface at all, he must be somewhere in that neighbourhood; and if he shall have gone down, it is still some satisfaction, by recovering the buoy, to ascertain that the poor wretch is not left to perish by inches.

The method by which this excellent invention is attached to the ship, and dropped into the water in a single instant, is perhaps not the least ingenious part of the contrivance. The buoy is generally fixed amidships over the stern, where it is held securely in its place by being strung, or threaded, as it were, on two strong perpendicular iron rods fixed to the taffrail, and inserted in holes piercing the framework of the buoy. The apparatus is kept in its place by what is called a slip-stopper, a sort of catch-bolt or detent, which can be unlocked at pleasure, by merely pulling a trigger. Upon withdrawing the stopper, the whole machine slips along the rods, and falls at once into the ship's wake. The trigger which unlocks the slip-stopper is furnished with a lanyard, passing through a hole in the stern, and having at its inner end a large knob, marked "Life-Buoy;" this alone is used in the day-time. Close at hand is another wooden knob, marked "Lock," fastened to the end of a line fixed to the trigger of a gunlock primed with powder: and so arranged, that, when the line is pulled, the port-fire is instantly ignited, while, at the same moment, the life-buoy descends, and floats merrily away, blazing like a lighthouse. It would surely be an improvement to have both these operations always performed simultaneously, that is, by one pull of the string. The port-fire would thus be lighted in every case of letting go the buoy; and I suspect the smoke in the day-time would often be as useful in guiding the boat, as the blaze always is at night.

The gunner who has charge of the life-buoy lock sees it freshly and carefully primed every evening at quarters, of which he makes a report to the captain. In the morning the priming is taken out, and the lock uncocked. During the night a man is always stationed at this part of the ship, and every half-hour, when the bell strikes, he calls out "Life-buoy!" to show that he is awake and at his post, exactly in the same manner as the look-out-men abaft, on the beam, and forward, call out "Starboard quarter!" "Starboard gangway!" "Starboard bow!" and so on, completely round the ship, to prove that they are not napping.

After all, however, it must be owned, that some of the most important considerations, when a man falls overboard, have as yet scarcely been mentioned. These are,—

First, the quickest and most effectual method of arresting the ship's progress, and how to keep her as near the spot where the man fell as possible.

Secondly, to preserve entire, during these evolutions, the general discipline of the ship, to maintain silence, and to enforce the most prompt obedience, without permitting foolhardy volunteering of any kind.

Thirdly, to see that the boat appointed to be employed on these occasions is secured in such a manner that she may be cast loose in a moment, and, when ready for lowering down, that she is properly manned, and fitted, so as to be efficient in all respects when she reaches the water.

Fourthly, to take care in lowering the boat neither to stave nor to swamp her, nor to pitch the men out.

And, lastly, to have a sufficient number of the sharpest-sighted men in the ship stationed aloft in such a manner as to give them the best chance, not only of discovering the person who is overboard, but of pointing him out to the people in the boat, who may not otherwise know in what direction to pull.

It is conceived that all these objects may be accomplished with very little, if any, additional trouble, in all tolerably well-disciplined ships.

Various opinions prevail amongst officers as to the first point; but, I think, the best authorities recommend that, if possible, the ship should not merely be hove aback when a man falls overboard, but that she ought to be brought completely round on the other tack. Of course, sail should be shortened in stays, and the main-yard left square. This plan implies the ship being on a wind, or from that position to having the wind not above two points abaft the beam. But, on one tack or the other, this will include a large portion of the sailing of every ship.

The great merit of such a method of proceeding is, that, if the evolution succeeds, the ship, when round, will drift right down towards the man; and, although there may be some small risk in lowering the boat in stays, from the ship having at one period stern-way, there will, in fact, be little time lost if the boat be not lowered till the ship be well round, and the stern-way at an end. There is more mischief done, generally, by lowering the boat too soon, than by waiting till the fittest moment arrives for doing it coolly; and it cannot be too often repeated, that almost the whole depends upon the self-possession of the officer of the watch. This important quality is best taught by experience, that is to say, by a thorough and familiar practical knowledge of what should be done under all circumstances. The officer in command of the deck ought to let it be seen and felt, by his tone of voice, and by the judicious promptness of his orders, that he, at least, is perfectly master of himself, and knows distinctly what course it is best to adopt.

If the ship be running before the wind, or be sailing large, and under a press of sail, the officer must exercise his judgment in rounding to, and take care in his anxiety to save the man, not to let the masts go over the side, which will not advance, but defeat his object. If the top-gallant-sheets, the topsail, and top-gallant-haulyards, be let fly, and the head-yards braced quickly up, the ship when brought to the wind will be nearly in the situation of reefing topsails. Under these circumstances, it will hardly be possible to bring her about, for, long before she can have come head to wind, her way will be so much deadened that the rudder may have ceased to act. Still, however, I am so strong an advocate for the principle of tacking, instead of merely lying-to, when a man is overboard, that, even under the circumstances above described, as soon as the boat is lowered down and sent off, and the extra sail gathered in, I would fill, stand on till the ship had gained head-way enough to render the evolution certain, and then go about, so as to bring her head towards the boat. It must be recollected, that when a ship is going well off the wind, in the manner here supposed, it is impossible to round her so quickly as to replace her on the spot where the man fell; to reach which a great sweep must always be made. But there seems to me no doubt, that, in every possible case, even when going right before it, the ship will always drift nearer and nearer to that spot, if eventually brought to the wind on the opposite tack from that on which she was luffed up.

It will conduce greatly to the success of these measures, if it be an established rule, that, whenever the alarm is given of a man being overboard, the people, without further orders, fly to their appointed stations for tacking ship; and that only those persons who shall be specifically selected to man and lower down the boats, and for other duties, shall presume to quit the places assigned to them on going about. It so happens that when the men are in their stations for tacking, they are almost equally in their stations for shortening sail, or for performing most other evolutions likely to become necessary at such moments.

The excepted men should consist of at least two boats' crews in each watch, and of others whose sole duty it should be to attend to the operation of lowering the boats, into which no men but those expressly appointed should ever be allowed to enter. These persons, selected for their activity, strength, and coolness, should belong to the after-guard, main and mizen-top, and gunner's crew, men whose duties lie chiefly abaft or about the mainmast. Midshipmen in each watch should also be named to the different boats; and their orders ought to be positive never to allow more than the proper crew to enter, nor on any account to permit the boat to be lowered till fully and properly manned. I grant that it requires no small nerve to sanction the delays which an attention to these minute particulars demands; but the adequate degree of faith in their utility will bring with it the requisite share of decision, to possess which, under all circumstances, is, perhaps, one of the most characteristic distinctions of a good commanding officer.

There ought, in every ship, to be selected a certain number of the sharpest-sighted persons, who should be instructed, the instant the alarm is given, to repair to stations appointed for them aloft. Several of these ought to plant themselves in the lower rigging, some in the topmast shrouds, and one, if not two, might advantageously be perched on each of the cross-trees. Those persons, whose exclusive duty is to discover the man who is overboard, should be directed to look out, some in the ship's wake, some on either side of it, and to be particularly careful to mark the spot near which the ship must have been when he fell, in order that when she comes about, and drifts near the place, they may know where to direct their attention, and also to take care that the ship does not forge directly upon the object they are seeking for. The chief advantage of having look-out-men stationed aloft in this manner consists in their commanding a far better position compared to that of persons on deck, and still better when compared to the people in the boat; besides which, having this object alone to attend to, they are less likely to be unsuccessful. Moreover, from their being in considerable numbers, and scattered at different elevations, their chances are, of course, much increased of discovering so small an object as a man on the surface.

The people in the boat possess no such advantages, for they are occupied with their oars, and lose between the seas all sight of the surrounding objects near them, while they can always see the ship's masts; and as soon as they detect that any one of the look-out-men sees the person who is overboard, and points in the proper direction for them to pull, they can shape their course accordingly. Presently another look-out, instructed by the first where to direct his eyes, also discovers the man; then another sees him, then another, and so on, till all who are aloft obtain sight of the desired object, and join in pointing with their hands to where it is to be found. The officer in the boat, thus instructed by innumerable pointers, rows at once, and with confidence, in the proper direction, and the drowning man is often rescued from his deep-sea grave, when, had there been no such look-outs, or had they been fewer in number or lower down, he must have perished.

It is curious to observe the electric sort of style in which the perception of an object, when once pointed out, flashes along from man to man. As each in succession catches sight of his shipmate, he exclaims, "There he is! there he is!" and holds out his hand in the proper direction for the guidance of the boat. Indeed, I have seldom witnessed a more interesting sight than that of eighty or a hundred persons stationed aloft, straining their eyes to keep sight of a poor fellow who is struggling for his life, and all eagerly extending their hands towards him, as if they could clutch him from the waves. To see these hands drop again is inexpressibly painful, from its indicating that the unfortunate man is no longer distinguishable. One by one the arms fall down, reluctantly, as if it were a signal that all hope was over. Presently the boat is observed to range about at random; the look-out-men aloft, when repeatedly hailed and asked, "if they see anything like him?" are all silent. Finally, the boat's recall-flag is hoisted, sail is again made on the ship, the people are piped down, and this tragical little episode in the voyage being concluded, everything goes on as before.

Printer's Flower

CHAPTER X.

SUNDAY ON BOARD A MAN-OF-WAR.—MUSTERING BY DIVISIONS.

The first article of war runs as follows:—"All commanders, captains, and officers, in or belonging to any of His Majesty's ships or vessels of war, shall cause the public worship of Almighty God, according to the Liturgy of the Church of England established by law, to be solemnly, orderly, and reverently performed in their respective ships; and shall take care that prayers and preaching, by the chaplains in holy orders of the respective ships, be performed diligently, and that the Lord's day be observed according to law."

The precision with which these injunctions are attended to will depend chiefly on three things:—The personal disposition of the captain; the nature of the service upon which the ship is employed; and the state of the weather. It is nearly always in the captain's power to make the Sunday a day of rest to the people committed to his charge. Sooner or later he is sure to reap the fruits of his conduct in this matter, and is made to feel, that, to command the respect or to win the regard of his crew, he must show them, on all ordinary occasions, that he is himself under the guidance of right principles. In the same spirit, his authority will be strengthened by every touch of consideration with which the inevitable sternness of his rule is softened; and the more he manages to impart to all such indulgences the character of routine, or matters of course and constant usage, so much the better. We feel obliged to a person who confers almost any favour upon us; but if this favour be one of daily or weekly occurrence, and, at each time of its concession, we are reminded of the weight of our obligation, all kindliness is in danger of being removed from it, and we would sometimes rather go without than hold the advantage by a tenure thus avowedly capricious.

A captain of sense and feeling, therefore, makes it his business, in the first place, to find out what is right and proper, consistently with the rules of the service, and then to ascertain how far the peculiar nature of the employment upon which the ship is engaged will admit of indulgences. Having settled with himself what is possible to be done with propriety, he should grant it not as a matter of personal favour, but simply because it is fitting in itself.

It is not possible, at sea, to comply to the letter with the fourth commandment; but we have no right on that account to dispense with its spirit, which is at all times and in all places within every man's reach. The absolute necessity, however, of performing some work, appears a sufficient reason with many people for doing away with the ordinance of Sunday altogether, and converting it into a day of hard and irksome toil, instead of a season of at least comparative rest. On the other hand, some officers either allow essential public interests to be neglected which ought to be attended to, or they harass their people by exacting more attention to religious observances than the poor sailors can bestow with any chance of profit. Which of these courses is the worst, I really cannot say. If Sunday be made a working day, and no attention is paid to its appropriate duties, the crew are by no means satisfied, and but too readily contract, by degrees, the habit of neglecting their obligations both to God and man. On the contrary, if the day be entirely taken up with devotional exercises, to the fatigue of their minds and bodies, they are exceedingly apt, after a time, to vote the "whole concern," as they call it, a bore, and to make up for this forced attention by the most scandalous indecencies, when out of sight of their "psalm-singing captain."

I would accordingly recommend every officer in command of a ship to bring as many of the arrangements of his Sunday as possible into a jog-trot order, not to be departed from unless there should arise an absolute necessity for such deviation. Nineteen Sundays might, indeed, pass over without any apparent advantage being gained from this uniformity, but on the twentieth some opportunity might occur, of infinite value to all concerned, which opportunity might, in all probability, prove unavailing but for the previous preparation. To borrow a professional illustration of the most familiar kind; it may be asked, how many hundred times do we exercise the great guns and small arms, for once that we fire them in real action? And why should it be supposed that, for the useful application of our mental energies to the most important of all warfare, habitual training is less necessary?

Without going needlessly deep into these speculations, I may observe that, even in the least regularly disciplined ships, there is now a marked difference between Sunday and any other day in the week. Although the grand object seems to be to have everything as clean as possible, and in its most apple-pie order, great part of the labour employed to produce this result is over before Sunday arrives. The decks, for instance, receive such a thorough allowance of holy-stoning and scrubbing on Saturday, that a mere washing, with perhaps a slight touch of the brushes and sand, brings them into the milk-white condition which is the delight of every genuine first lieutenant's heart. All this is got over early in the morning, in order that the decks may be swabbed up and the ropes nicely flemished down before seven bells, at which time it is generally thought expedient to go to breakfast, though half-an-hour sooner than usual, in order to make the forenoon as long as possible. I should have mentioned that the hammocks are always piped up at seven o'clock. If they have been slung overnight, they are as white as any laundress could have made them; and, of course, the hammock-stowers take more than ordinary care to place them neatly in the nettings, with their bright numbers turned inwards, all nicely lashed up with the regulated proportion of turns, each hammock being of a uniform size from end to end.

While the people are at breakfast, the word is passed to "clean for muster," in any dress the commanding officer may think most suitable to the climate or weather. Between the tropics, the order for rigging in frocks and trousers is generally delivered in these words:—

"Do you hear, there! fore and aft! Clean for muster at five bells—duck frocks and white trousers!"

In colder regions, it is "Blue jackets and trousers;" and in rainy, cold, or blowing weather, the following order is sung out along the lower deck, first by the husky-throated boatswain, and then in a still rougher enunciation by his gruff satellites, the boatswain's mates:—

"D'ye hear, there! Clean shirt and a shave for muster at five bells!"

Twice a week, on Thursdays and Sundays, the operation of shaving is held to be necessary. These are called "clean-shirt days." Mondays and Fridays are the days appointed for washing the clothes.

It is usual to give the men three quarters, instead of half-an-hour to breakfast on Sundays, that they may have time to rig themselves in proper trim before coming on deck. The watch, therefore, is called at a quarter-past eight, or it may be one bell, which is half-past. The forenoon watch bring their clothes-bags up with them, in order that they may not be again required to leave the deck before muster. The bags are piled in neat pyramids, or in other forms, sometimes on the booms before the boats, and sometimes in a square mass on the after part of the quarter-deck of a frigate. It strikes my recollection that in most ships there is a sort of difficulty in finding a good place on which to stow the bags.

As soon as the forenoon watch is called, the between decks, on which the men live, is carefully cleaned, generally by what is called dry holy-stoning. This is done by rubbing the deck with small smooth pieces of freestone, after a layer of well-dried sand has been sprinkled over it. This operation throws up a good deal of dust; but it makes the deck white, which is the grand point aimed at. The wings, the store-rooms, and the cockpits, undergo a similar dose of rubbing and scrubbing; in short, every hole and corner of the decks, both above and below stairs, as folks on shore would say, is swept, and swept, and swept again, on a Sunday morning, till the panting sweepers are half dead; indeed, the rest of the ship's company are worried out of all patience, from eight o'clock to half-past ten, with the eternal cry of "Pipe the sweepers!" followed by a sharp, interrupted whistle, not unlike the note of a pet canary.

What with cleaning the decks and cleaning themselves, the watch below have fully enough to do to get all ready by five bells. It must be remembered, too, that they have had the morning watch to keep, since four o'clock, and the whole trouble of washing the upper decks, shaking out the reefs, stowing the hammocks, and coiling down the ropes; all easy matters of routine, it is true, but still sufficiently tiresome when multiplied so often.

At the appointed hour of half-past ten, to a single stroke of the bell, the mate of the watch, directed by the officer on deck, who again acts in obedience to the captain's orders, conveyed to him by the first lieutenant, calls out,—

"Beat to divisions!"

It should have been stated, that, before this period arrives, the mate of the decks and the mate of the hold, the boatswain, gunner, and carpenter, have all severally received reports from their subordinates that their different departments are in proper order for inspection. Reports to the same effect being then finally made to the first lieutenant by the mates and warrant-officers, he himself goes round the ship to see that all is right and tight, preparatory to the grand inspection. I ought also to have mentioned that the bags of the watch below are piped up at ten o'clock, so that nothing remains between decks but the mess-tables, stools, and the soup and grog kids. Long before this hour, the greater number of the whole ship's company have dressed themselves and are ready for muster; but the never-ending sweepers, the fussy warrant-officers' yeomen, the exact purser's steward, the slovenly midshipmen's boy, the learned loblolly boy, and the interminable host of officers' servants, who have always fifty extra things to do, are often so sorely pressed for time, that at the first tap of the drum beating to divisions, these idlers, as they are technically much miscalled, may often be seen only then lugging their shirts over their heads, or hitching up their trousers in all the hurry-scurry of a lower-deck toilet. I should have recorded that in the ship's head, as well as on the fore-part of the main-deck, and likewise between the guns, chiefly those abreast of the fore-hatchway, there have been groups assembled to scrape and polish themselves ever since breakfast-time, and even before it. Some are washing themselves; others cutting, and combing, and trimming their hair; for, now-a-days, there are none of those huge long tails, or club ties, which descended along the back of the sailors who fought with Benbow and Rodney. The dandyism of Jack has now taken another turn, and the knowing thing at present is to have a parcel of ringlets hanging from the temples almost to the collar-bone. Some of the youngest and best-looking of the foretop-men would also very fain indulge in the feminine foppery of ear-rings; but in the British Navy this is absolutely forbidden.

I remember once, on the beach of Madras, witnessing an amusing scene between Sir Samuel Hood, then commander-in-chief in India, and the newly-promoted boatswain of a sloop-of-war belonging to the squadron. The Admiral, who was one of the bravest, and kindest, and truest-hearted seamen that ever trod a ship's decks, was a sworn foe to all trickery in dress. The eye of the veteran officer was directed earnestly towards the yeast of waves, which in immense double rows of surf, fringe and guard the whole of that flat coast. He was watching the progress of a Massullah boat, alternately lost in the foam, and raised in very uncertain balance across the swell, which, though just on the break, brought her swiftly towards the shore. He felt more anxious than usual about the fate of this particular boat, from having ordered on shore the person alluded to, with whom he wished to have some conversation previous to their parting company. This boatswain was a young man, who had been for some years a follower of the Admiral in different ships, and to whom he had just given a warrant. The poor fellow, unexpectedly promoted from before the mast to the rank of a warrant-officer, was trigged out in his newly-bought, but marvellously ill-cut uniform, shining like a new dollar, and making its wearer, who for the first time in his life had put on a long coat, feel not a little awkward.

As soon as the boat was partly driven up the beach by the surf, and partly dragged beyond the dash of the breakers by the crowd on shore, this happiest of warrant-officers leaped out on the sand, and seeing the Admiral above him, standing on the crest of the natural glacis which lines the shore, he took off his hat, smoothed down the hair on his forehead, sailor fashion, and stood uncovered, in spite of the roasting sun flaming in the zenith.

The Admiral, of course, made a motion with his hand for the boatswain to put his hat on; but the other, not perceiving the signal, stood stock-still.

"I say, put on your hat!" called the commander-in-chief, in a tone which made the newly-created warrant start. In his agitation he shook a bunch of well-trimmed ringlets a little on one side, and betrayed to the flashing eyes of the Admiral a pair of small round silver ear-rings, the parting gift, doubtless, of some favoured and favouring "Poll or Bess" of dear, old, blackguard Point Beach. Be this as it may, the Admiral, first stepping on one side, and then holding his head forward, as if to re-establish the doubting evidence of his horrified senses, and forcibly keeping down the astonished seaman's hat with his hand, roared out,—

"Who the devil are you?"

"John Marline, sir!" replied the bewildered boatswain, beginning to suspect the scrape he had got himself into.

"Oh!" cried the flag-officer, with a scornful laugh. "Oh! I beg your pardon; I took you for a Portuguese."

"No, sir!" instinctively faltered out the other, seeing the Admiral expected some reply.

"No! Then, if you are not a foreigner, why do you hoist false colours? What business has an English sailor with these d—— d machines in his ears?"

"I don't know, sir," said poor Marline. "I put them in only this morning, when I rigged myself in my new togs to answer the signal on shore."

"Then," said Sir Samuel, softened by the contrite look of his old shipmate, and having got rid of the greater portion of his bile by the first explosion, "you will now proceed to unrig yourself of this top hamper as fast as you can; pitch them into the surf if you like; but never, as you respect the warrant in your pocket, let me see you in that disguise again."

When the drum beats the well-known "Générale," the ship's company range themselves in a single line along both sides of the quarter-deck, the gangways, and all round the forecastle. In a frigate, the whole crew may be thus spread out on the upper deck alone; but in line-of-battle ships the numbers are so great that similar ranges, each consisting of a division, are likewise formed on the opposite sides of the main-deck. The marines, under arms, and in full uniform, fall in at the after-part of the quarter-deck; while the ship's boys, under the master-at-arms, with his ratan in hand, muster on the forecastle.

In some ships the men are sized, as it is called, the tallest being placed at the after-end, and so on down to the most diminutive, who is fixed at the extremity. But this arrangement, being more of a military than of a naval cast, is rarely adopted now-a-days. It will seldom happen, indeed, that the biggest and burliest fellows in a ship's company are the leading men. They may chance, indeed, to be poulterers, cook's mates, or fit only to make sweepers of; personages who after a three years' station barely know the stem from the stern, and could no more steer the ship than they could take a lunar distance. Officers, however, on first joining a ship, are very apt to be guilty of some injustice towards the people by judging of them too hastily from appearance alone. We are insensibly so much prepossessed in favour of a fine, tall, good-looking sailor-lad, and prejudiced against a grizzled, crooked, little wretch, that if both happen to be brought before us for the same offence, we almost instinctively commit the injustice of condemning the ugly fellow, and acquitting the smart-looking one, before a tithe of the evidence has reached our ears.

Leaving these speculative questions, however, for the present, let us return to the divisions, which are arranged along the deck, not, as formerly, by sizes, but, in the proper way, by the watch-bill. The forecastle-men, of course, come first, as they stand so in the lists by which they are mustered at night by the mate of the watch; then the foretop men, and so on to the gunners, after-guard, and waisters. Each division is under charge of a lieutenant, who, as well as the midshipmen of his division, appears in full uniform. The people are first mustered by the young gentlemen, and then carefully inspected by the officer of the division, who sees that every man is dressed according to order, and that he is otherwise in proper trim. It is also usual in hot climates for the surgeon and his assistants to pass along the lines, to ascertain, partly by the men's looks, and partly by an examination of their limbs, that no traces of scurvy have begun to show themselves.

While the mustering and inspecting of the divisions is going on, the captain paces the quarter-deck, in company with the first lieutenant. No other voices are heard except theirs, and that of the midshipmen calling over the names of the men, or the officers putting some interrogatory about a spot of tar on a pair of duck trousers, or an ill-mended hole in the sleeve of a shirt. In a few minutes even these sounds are hushed, and nothing is distinguishable fore and aft but the tread of the respective officers, on their way aft to report to the captain on the quarter-deck that all are present, properly dressed, and clean, at their different divisions. The marine officer likewise makes a report of his party and their equipments. The first lieutenant now turns to the captain, takes off his hat, and says,—

"All the officers have reported, sir."

To which the other replies,—

"We'll go round the ship, then, if you please;" and off they trudge, after leaving the deck in charge of the second lieutenant, or the master, as may be determined upon at the moment.

As the captain approaches the first division, he is received by the officer commanding it, who touches his hat, and then falls into the train behind. Of course, the moment the skipper appears, the men along the whole line take off their hats, smooth down their locks, make many clumsy efforts to stand erect, fumble interminably with the waistband of their trousers, and shuffle, to more or less purpose, according to the motion of the ship, to maintain their toes exactly at the line or seam in the deck along which they have been cautioned twenty times they are to stand. The captain, as he moves slowly past, eyes each man from head to foot, and lets nothing pass of which he disapproves. The officer of the division is ready to explain, or to take a note of what alteration is required; but supposing all to be right, not a syllable is spoken, and at the end of the division the captain again touches his hat to the officer, who returns the salute, and remains with his people.

He then proceeds to the forecastle, at the break of which he is received by the three warrant-officers, the boatswain, gunner, and carpenter, in their best coats, cut after the fashion of the year one, broad-tailed, musty, and full of creases from bad packing and little use, and blazing from top to bottom with a double-tiered battery of buttons of huge dimensions. Behind these worthy personages, who seldom look much at home in their finery, stands the master-at-arms, in front of his troop of troublesome small fry, known by the name of the ship's boys, destined in good time to be sailors, and perhaps amongst the best and truest that we ever number in our crews.

In this way, in short, it is a most important, and almost an imperative duty, on the officers of every man-of-war, to ascertain, by actual investigation, how far their people are entitled to the ratings they claim. If we do not see to this, we are perpetually misapplying the resources of the nation, by mistaking their true quality.

I should have mentioned, that before leaving the upper deck the captain proceeds to inspect the marines, who are drawn up across or along the quarter-deck abaft. Most captains think it both judicious and kind to visit the marines first, and I have never seen this practice adopted without manifest advantage. The marines are excellent fellows, well-trained, hardy, cheerful, duly respecting themselves, and proud of their service: while, from belonging to a fixed corps, and from not being liable to be perpetually disbanded and scattered, they acquire a permanent interest, or an inherent esprit de corps, as well as a permanent footing in the Navy. In like manner, the marine officers constitute one of the most gentleman-like bodies of men in the King's service. They are thoroughly imbued with all the high sentiments of honour belonging to the military character; and they possess, moreover, in a very pleasant degree, the freedom of manner and versatility of habits peculiar to those who go down to the sea in ships.

The utility of this important body of men on board a man-of-war is so great, that it becomes the duty of every lover of the profession to support all its ranks and classes, and to render their situation when afloat one of respectability, happiness, and contentment. In speaking of the utility of the jolly marines, as they are kindly enough called by the sailors, who, in spite of all their quizzing, really esteem their pipe-clayed shipmates, I refer less to their services in action, than to their inestimable value in sustaining the internal discipline of the service. The manner in which this is brought about forms one of the most interesting peculiarities in the whole range of naval affairs; but it deserves to be treated of separately, and at length.

The two divisions ranged along the main-deck, supposing the ship's company so distributed, next engage the captain's attention. I think it is usual to take that first which stands on the starboard side of the deck, with the after-end, or its left, as military men would say, close against the bulkhead of the captain's cabin, while the foremost men of the division extend under the forecastle. On arriving at the galley or kitchen, the captain is received by the cook (or as much as may be left of him, according to the Greenwich Hospital joke), behind whom stands his mate, generally a tall, glossy, powerful negro, who, unlike his chief, has always a full allowance of limbs, with a round and shining face, about as moist as one of the tubful of huge suet puddings, tied up in bags alongside of him. The cook, aided by "Quamino," lifts the lids off the coppers, that the captain may peer into them, and ascertain whether or not all is clean and nice. With the end of his wooden leg the cook then gives a twist to the cock of the coppers, to let some of the pease-soup in preparation run off and show itself to the noble commander's inspection. The oven-doors are next opened, the range or large fire stirred up, and every hole and corner exposed to view; the object of the grand visitation being to see that this essential department of the ship is in the most perfect state of cleanliness and good order.

Still further forward, before the galley, in the very nose of her, as the foremost nook or angle of the ship is called, and a little on one side, lies the sick-bay, or hospital; at the door of which the surgeon, backed by his assistants, receives the captain and his double the first lieutenant, and his double the mate of the main-deck. In they march, all in a row. The captain takes care not to pass any invalid's hammock without dropping a word of encouragement to its pale inmate, or begging to be informed if anything further can be done to make him comfortable. Only those men who are very unwell, however, are found in their beds; the rest being generally seated on the chests and boxes placed round the bay, a part of the ship which, I need scarcely mention, is kept, if possible, more clean, airy, and tidy than any other. If a speck of dirt be found on the deck, or a gallipot or phial out of its place, woe betide the loblolly-boy, the assistant-surgeon's assistant, and the constant attendant upon the hospital. This personage is usually a fellow of some small knowledge of reading and writing, who, by overhearing the daily clinical lectures of the doctor, contrives to pick up a smattering of medical terms, which he loses no opportunity of palming off upon his messmates below as sublime wisdom sucked in at Alma Mater.

Just before leaving the sick-bay, the captain generally turns to the surgeon, and says, as a matter of course, "Doctor, mind you always send aft at dinner-time for anything and everything you require for the sick;" and I have frequently remarked that his whole tone and manner are greatly softened during this part of the rounds, perhaps without his being conscious of any difference. A very small share of attention on the part of a commanding-officer on such occasions, if kindly and unaffectedly exercised, leaves a wonderfully favourable impression, not only among the invalids to whom it is more particularly addressed, but seldom fails to extend its salutary influence over the rest of the ship's company, and thus, of course, contributes materially to strengthen and to maintain his authority. Such expressions of sympathy never fail to act like drops of oil on the machinery of discipline, making all its wheels work smoothly and sweetly.

The lower deck is next examined. The bags have been carried on deck, so that, as I mentioned before, nothing remains but the people's mess-tables and mess things, their kids, and crockery. As Jack is mighty fond of a bit of show in his way, many of the berths or mess-places exhibit goodly ranges of tea-cups and regiments of plates worthy of the celebrated Blue Posts Tavern, occasionally flanked by a huge tea-pot, famously emblazoned with yellow dragons and imitation Chinese. The intervals between the shelves are generally ornamented with a set of pictures of rural innocence, where shepherds are seen wooing shepherdesses, balanced by representations of not quite such innocent Didos weeping at the Sally Port, and waving their lily hands to departing sailor-boys. On the topmost-shelf stands, or is tied to the side, a triangular piece of a mirror, three inches perhaps by three, extremely useful in adjusting the curls of our nautical coxcombs, of whom one at least is to be found in every berth.

The mess-tables, which are kept so bright you would suppose them whitewashed, are hooked to the ship's side at one end, while the other is suspended by small ropes covered with white canvas. Against these lines rest the soup and grog kids, shining in a double row along the deck, which is lighted up, fore and aft, for the captain's visit, by a candle in each berth. In frigates it is usual, I believe, to let the people have a certain number of chests, besides their bags. These not only form convenient seats for the men at meals, and couches on which to stretch their worn-out limbs during the watch below, but they afford a place in which the sailors may stow away some part of their best attire, deposit their little knick-knacks, and here and there a book, or mayhap a love-letter, or some cherished love-token. A chest, in short, or the share of a chest, even though it be only a quarter, or a sixth part, is always so great a comfort that this indulgence ought to be granted when it can possibly be allowed. In single-decked ships, I conceive it may generally be permitted: in a line-of-battle ship hardly ever. In a frigate, as there are no guns on the lower deck, where the people mess and sleep, there is nothing to clear away on coming into action; but in a ship of the line the men pass their whole lives amongst the guns, by night as well as by day, and as it is absolutely necessary to keep every part ready for action at an instant's warning, nothing can be allowed to remain between the guns but such articles as may be carried out of the way in a moment. It is sometimes nonsensical, and even cruel, to carry this system into a frigate, where the same necessity for keeping the space unencumbered does not exist. Doubtless the mate of the lower deck, and often enough the first lieutenant, and sometimes even the captain, will be anxious to break up all the men's chests, in order to have a clear-looking, open, airy, between-decks, to make a show of; but with proper care it may be kept almost as clear and quite as clean with a couple of chests in each berth as without. Even were it otherwise, we ought, I think, rather to give up a little appearance to secure so great a share of comfort to those who, at best, are not overburdened with luxuries.

As the captain walks aft, along the lower deck, he comes to the midshipmen's berth, or room, in which the youngsters mess. It is the foremost and largest of a range of cabins built up on each side, and reaching as far aft as the gun-room, or mess-place of the commissioned officers. It is only in line-of-battle ships that the mids mess in the cockpit; while in frigates they not merely mess but sleep in the part of the lower deck called, I know not why, the steerage. I ought to have mentioned that before the cabins of the officers, and abaft those of the sailors, lie the berths of the marines; but, of course, those mess-places of the men are not partitioned off, being merely denoted by the tables and shelves. The boatswain, gunner, and carpenter, have their cabins in the steerage.

The captain peeps into each of these dens as he moves along. In that of the midshipmen he may probably find a youth with the quarantine-flag up; that is, in the sick-list. His cue, we may suppose, is always to look as miserable and woe-begone as possible. If he have had a tussle with a messmate, and one or both his eyes are bunged up in consequence, it costs him no small trouble to conceal his disorderly misdeeds. It would be just as easy, in fact, to stop the winds as to stop the use of fisty-cuffs amongst a parcel of hot-blooded lads between thirteen and nineteen, although, of course, such rencontres are held to be contrary to the laws and customs used at sea, and are punishable accordingly. The captain, pretending ignorance, however, merely grins; and, without exposing the boy to the necessity of getting up a story, remarks:—

"I suppose, Master Peppercorn, you fell down the after-hatchway ladder, and struck your eye against the corner of a chest? Didn't you? And, what is odd enough, I dare say, when I cross to the starboard berth, I shall find Mr. Mustardseed, who has met with exactly the same accident about the same time. What do yo think? Eh?"

"I don't know, sir," answers the badgered youngster; "Mr. Mustardseed and I are not on speaking terms."

"Very likely not," chuckles the skipper, as he proceeds to thrust his nose curiously into the warrant officers' little boxes. On arriving at the gun-room, he merely glances, with a well-bred air of assumed indifference, at the apartment of the officers, with whose habits and arrangements he scarcely ever ventures to meddle. He next dives into the cockpit, which in a frigate is used only for the purser's store-room, leading to the bread-room, both of which he examines carefully. The spirit-room hatchway, too, is lifted up for his inspection, as well as that of the after-hold. He then takes a survey of the cable tiers, which are lighted up for the occasion; as also different store-rooms of the boatswain, gunner, and carpenter; all of which ought to be objects of his particular care, for it is of great consequence that every article they contain should not only have an assigned and well-known place, but that it should actually be kept in that place. It is, indeed, quite wonderful how much may be done in the way of stowage by dint of good management. In a well-regulated ship, there is not a bolt or a bar, nor any kind of tool belonging to the carpenter, nor a single rope great or small; canvas fine as duck, or coarse as No. 1, belonging to the boatswain; nor any description of warlike store in charge of the gunner, which cannot instantly be laid hold of, and conveyed in half-a-minute to any part of the ship, alow or aloft.

At length, when every square inch of the holds, tiers, sail-rooms, and all the cabins and berths below, have been examined, the visitation party return to the quarter-deck, after a full half-hour's ramble. As the captain re-ascends to the different decks in succession, the men, who have never budged from their divisions, again pluck off their hats, the marines carry arms the moment his head shows above the coamings, and all the officers stop instantaneously in the middle of their walk to salute their commander, as he once more treads the quarter-deck.

"And now, sir," says the captain, turning to the first lieutenant, "if you please we will rig the church."

Printer's Flower

CHAPTER XI.

THE SHIP CHURCH.

The carpenters and the watch on deck soon carry aft their benches and mess-stools; but these not being sufficient to afford accommodation for all hands, as many capstan-bars as may be required are likewise brought up and placed athwart the quarter-deck, with their ends resting on match-tubs and fire-buckets, or on the carronade-slides. These seats occupy the whole of the space from the break of the quarter-deck and the belaying bits round the mainmast, as far as the companion-hatchway. Chairs from the cabin and gun-room are also placed abaft all, for the captain and officers, and on the lee side for the warrant-officers and mids; for it need scarcely be mentioned that due subordination is made to keep its place even in our church.

The pulpit stands amidships, either on the after-gratings, or on the deck immediately before the hatchway. In some ships, this part of the nautical church establishment consists of a moveable reading-desk, made expressly for the occasion, but brought up from the carpenter's store-room only when wanted; sometimes one of the binnacles is used for this purpose; and I remember a ship in which the prayer-book was regularly laid on a sword-rack, or stand, holding six dozen naked cutlasses. The desk is covered over with a signal-flag, as well as the hassock for the chaplain to kneel upon, which is usually a grape or canister shot-box, surmounted by a cheese of great-gun wads, to make it soft.

All this implies that the weather is fine, the awnings spread overhead, and the curtains stretched fore and aft, to keep out the heat and glare. In rainy or blustering weather the church is rigged under the half-deck, much in the same way, except that the pulpit is placed between two of the guns, and generally on the larboard side, as nearly abreast of the quarter-deck ladder as may be.

When all is ready, the bell is tolled by one of the quarter-masters; and the crew, quietly clustering aft, occupy the bars, stools, planks, and gun-slides, prepared for their accommodation. The marines range themselves on the front seats; while the officers take their places, of course not avowedly in the order of date in their commissions, but, more or less, they do fall into their respective stations according to seniority. The chaplain is now informed that every one is assembled; or, if there be no clergyman on board, the report is made to the captain, who generally officiates in that case. When the service begins, if there be any other ship in company, a pendant, such as men-of-war carry at their mast-head to distinguish them from merchant-ships, is hoisted at the mizen peak, to show that the ship's company are at prayers. This signal, which is kept flying during the performance of divine service, is respected by every other ship, whether commanded by a superior officer or not.

Besides the prayers, which, as I have already mentioned, are "according to the Liturgy of the Church of England, established by law," the chaplain gives a short discourse, not exceeding at most twenty or twenty-five minutes in length. Some captains are in the habit of reading a sermon; but more commonly, when there is no clergyman on board, the prayers are deemed sufficient. These points, as may be supposed, become frequent matters of discussion in the fleet. I shall not enter into them further just now than by observing that the majority of right-thinking officers appear to agree, that, if the church service on board ship be not "solemnly, orderly, and reverently performed," according to the terms and in the spirit of the first article of war, it is either useless or worse than useless. It ought therefore to take place as regularly and habitually as the nature of the ship's duties will allow of. In the next place, it seems clear, that if the service be rendered so long, or be otherwise so conducted, as not to arrest the attention of the crew, or not to maintain it alive when once fixed, it is too long.

I will venture to say, there is rarely to be met with anywhere a more orderly or a more attentive congregation, in all respects, than on board a man-of-war.

But, notwithstanding all Jack's decorum and his discipline, to say nothing of his natural inclination, when duly encouraged, to reflect seriously and properly on any subject, as he is made of ordinary flesh and bones, his eyes will sometimes refuse to keep open under the infliction of a dull or ill-delivered discourse; so that if the person who officiates happens not to read very well, his best chance for securing any useful attention consists in the brevity of his prelections. If the quality, rather than the quantity, of instruction be his object, he should be exceedingly careful not to fatigue his hearers. The inverse rule of proportion obtains here with such mortifying regularity, that the longer he makes the church service beyond the mark of agreeable and easy attention, the more certain will he be of missing his point.

The analogy, not to speak it profanely, between overloading a gun and overloading a discourse applies especially to ship-preaching. Sailors are such odd fellows that they are nowise moved by noise and smoke; but they well know how to value a good aim, and always love and honour a commanding-officer who truly respects their feelings, nor by means of long-winded and ill-timed discourses, or what they irreverently call psalm-singing, interferes too much with their religious concerns.

It would be easy, though perhaps rather invidious, to point out in what other respects many officers are apt, besides the protracted length of the church service on Sunday, to err in excess in these matters. I am very sorry to say it would be still easier to show in what respects all of us err in defect. I should rejoice much more in being able to make officers who have not sufficiently reflected on these things, duly sensible that it is quite as much to their immediate professional advantage that the religious duties of their ship should form an essential part of the discipline of the crew, and be considered not less useful in a moral point of view, than rigging the masts properly is to the nautical department of their command.

If, indeed, religion, when applied to the ordinary business of life, should be found inconsistent with those moral obligations which are dictated to us by conscience; or even were we to discover that the ablest, most virtuous, and most successful person, amongst us were uniformly despisers of religion, then there would certainly be some explanation, not to say excuse, for young and inexperienced men venturing to dispute on such subjects, and claiming the bold privilege of absolutely independent thought and action. But surely there is neither excuse nor explanation, nor indeed any sound justification whatsoever, for the presumption of those who, in the teeth of all experience and authority, not only trust themselves with the open expression of these cavils, but, having settled the whole question in their own way, take the hazardous line of recommending their daring example to those around them. It is also material to recollect that there is not a single point of duty in the whole range of the naval profession, which, when well understood, may not be enforced with greater efficiency by a strict adherence to the sanctions of religion, than if it were attempted single-handed; so that most of the objections which one hears made to the due performance of the church service on board ship, on the score of its interfering with the discipline, are quite absurd, and inapplicable to the circumstances of the case.

The captain of a man-of-war, therefore, if his influence be as well-founded as it ought, may, in this most material of all respects, essentially supply the place of a parent to young persons, who must be considered for the time virtually as orphans. He may very possibly not be learned enough to lay before his large nautical family the historical and other external evidences of Christianity, and, perhaps, may have it still less in his power to make them fully aware of the just force of its internal evidences; but he can seldom have any doubt as to his duty in this case more than in any other department of the weighty obligations with which he is charged; and if he cannot here, as elsewhere, make the lads under his care see distinctly, in the main, what course it best becomes them to follow, he is hardly fit for his station. I freely own that it is far beyond his power to make them pursue that line, if they choose to be perverse; but he will neglect an important, I might add, a sacred and solemn part of his business, if he leaves their minds more adrift on the score of religion than he can possibly help. Their steering in this ticklish navigation, it is true, depends upon their own prudence; but it is his bounden duty to provide them with both a rudder and a compass, and also, as far as he is able, to instruct them, like a good pilot, in the course they ought to shape. The eventual success of the great voyage of life lies with themselves; the captain's duty, as a moral commander-in-chief, is done if he sets his juvenile squadron fairly under weigh. It is in vain to conceal from ourselves, that, unless both officers and men can be embodied more or less as a permanent corps, every ship that is commissioned merely furnishes a sort of fresh experiment in naval discipline. The officers are brought together without any previous acquaintance with one another; and many of them, after a long residence on shore, have lost most of their naval habits. The sailors, being collected how and where we can get hold of them, are too frequently the off-scourings and scum of society. With such a heterogeneous crew, the first year is employed in teaching them habits of cleanliness and common decency; and it is only in the third year of their service that the ship becomes really efficient. Just as that point has been reached, all hands are turned off, to make room for another experiment. If a few active men of the crew have become better sailors, they generally go into the merchant-service for higher wages; while the officers are again laid on the shelf. Something has been done lately to retain the petty officers in the navy, but perhaps not enough. It has been suggested that, instead of giving men pensions for long servitude, it might be more useful to allow their wages to increase gradually year by year, at some small rate, and at the end of fourteen years give them half-pay of the rating to which they had reached, if they chose to retire.[5]

In returning to the subject of the church, it must be remembered that the circumstances of wind and weather will often interfere with the regularity of our Sunday service. In some parts of an Indian voyage, for instance, it may be safely calculated that no interruption will take place; while there occur other stages of the passage when Divine service must of necessity be stopped, to shorten sail or trim the yards. In peace-time, or in harbour, or in fine weather at sea, no such teasing interference is likely to arise; but in war, and on board a cruising ship, the public service frequently calls a ship's company to exchange their Bibles and Prayer-books for the sponges and rammers. The collect in which they have petitioned to be defended from the fear of their enemies, and that their time might be passed in rest and quietness, may hardly have passed their lips, before they are eagerly and joyfully scampering up the rigging to shake the reefs out in chase of an enemy, with whom, in the next hour, they will perhaps be engaged in hot fight!

I remember once in a frigate, cruising deep in the Bay of Biscay, just as the captain had finished the Litany, and the purser, whose greatest pleasure it was to officiate as clerk, had said Amen, that the man at the main royal-mast head screamed out,—

"A strange sail, broad on the lee bow!"

The first effect of this announcement was to make the commander turn round involuntarily to the man at the wheel and exclaim, "Put the helm up!" He then closed the book, with a degree of energy of which he was made somewhat ashamed when the sound was echoed back by that of the rapidly closing volumes all around him.

"My lads," said he quickly, but not without solemnity, "our duty to our King is our duty to God; and if, as I hope, this sail turn out to be the ship we have been so long looking after, you will not give a worse account of her to the country, I am sure, for having applied in good earnest for assistance from aloft." After which, suddenly changing his tone and manner, he sung out loudly and clearly,—

"Hands, make sail! Let go the bow-lines! Round in the weather braces! Mast-head, there! let me know when the strange sail is right ahead!"

Then leaping on the hammocks, and resting his glass against the after-swifter of the main-rigging, he swept the horizon impatiently for the stranger. Meanwhile, the rattling of the chairs, capstan-bars, match-tubs, and shot-boxes, gave token of the rapid demolition of our nautical church. The studding-sail booms shot out like spears from the yard-arms, and the sails which these spars were to expand hung dangling and flapping in the air, as if the canvas had been alive, and joined in the eagerness of the chase; while the ship herself, trembling fore and aft under these fresh and spirit-stirring impulses, dashed away at the rate of ten and a-half knots.

Such are the incidents which happen on board single frigates; those rattling, joyous, fly-along, Salee-rover sort of cruisers, which range at large over the wide ocean, scour every coast, and keep the war famously alive. A much more stately ceremonial is observed on board fleets, whether at sea, blockading a port, or lying in harbour. The ships of the different divisions, or squadrons, wait till the admiral hoists at his mizen-peak the signal indicating that Divine service has commenced, the bell is then tolled in each of the other ships, the usual pendant is displayed, and the first article of war is complied with, not only to the letter, but often, we may hope and trust, fully up to the spirit. I have heard many clergymen declare that they never beheld any congregation in which more attention and decorum prevailed than in our ship churches.

At sea, both in fleets and on board single ships, the afternoon of Sunday is generally a season of rest and quietness; but in harbour it is frequently the most annoying period of the whole week. There is nothing for the men to do, and the time hangs terribly heavy on their hands; to which it must be added, that our ships are too often infested by some of the vilest contaminations of the shore. Bad as these influences are, at any time or place, I believe they may he considered at their worst when they come afloat; so that whenever it can possibly be done without injury to the service, portions of the ship's company should be allowed to go on shore in turn, albeit their proceedings when "on liberty," as they call it, are none of the most commendable. But we must let that pass. In foreign ports, however, this indulgence is frequently impossible; and in cases when the people cannot be permitted to land, the different men-of-war in company are sure to send boat-loads of visitors, or what are called "liberty men," on board one another's ships, to pass the afternoon of Sunday. This practice is the very bane of good discipline, and ought at all times to be discouraged in every way; for it almost inevitably leads to drunkenness, rioting, and bitter heart-burnings. It has, moreover, the effect of making the men discontented with their own ship and their own officers. The sailors are sufficiently sharp criticisers of the conduct of their superiors, even when they have all the facts before them, and the power of observing closely, and from day to day. But when they pass on board other vessels, and interchange exaggerations over an extra pot of grog, the mischievous consequence is certain; for each of the parties is likely enough to break up the visit miserably discontented, and to return under a thorough conviction that, while everything done in their own ship is wrong, all the officers are either foolish or tyrannical, or both. If there must be ship-visiting, let it be on week days, and in the morning; but, clearly, the less the better; and most assuredly it ought never to be allowed on Sunday evening.

FOOTNOTES:

[5] It would have gratified Captain Hall if he had lived to see that some of the changes for which he pleads so earnestly are being adopted, and that the best hands in the navy are now retained as continuous service men.

Printer's Flower

CHAPTER XII.

NAVAL RATINGS AND SEA PAY.

MUSTERING CLOTHES.

The dinner-hour on Sunday is noon, the same as on other days; but there is this distinction, which ought to mark the afternoon in every well-regulated ship, the people are never disturbed between twelve o'clock and four, unless some particular service occurs which cannot without impropriety be deferred. It is customary during the rest of the week to turn the watch up at one o'clock, but on Sunday, if possible, the people should be left alone: to be idle if they choose it, or to read, or otherwise to employ themselves according to their own fancy. This, after all, is but a trifling indulgence, which hardly ever puts the captain or officers to any inconvenience. Even if it did, what would it matter? The interests of the country will not be worse attended to in the long-run for an occasional relaxation of strict etiquettes and formal observances. Even if the ship be making a passage, and that, in strictness, all sail ought to be carried, no eventual loss will ever attend such very trivial abatement of speed; for the men will probably be far more active in making and shortening sail at other times, when their minor comforts are thus regarded, than when treated as if they had no feelings to be considered.

The circumstance which most distinctly marks the afternoon of Sunday on board a man-of-war, even more than on land, is the absence of all the usual stir caused by the multifarious occupations of the artificers and crew. Indeed, the lower deck of a man-of-war on Sunday afternoon, between dinner time and the hour of tea, or evening grog, a cast of idleness is the most characteristic feature. Groups of men may be seen sitting on the deck chatting over very old stories, a few are reading, and many are stretched out flat on their backs fast asleep, or dosing with their heads laid on their arms on the mess-table. But the habit of locomotion amongst sailors is so strong, that there are always numerous parties walking on the main deck in pairs, or in threes and fours, along a short space, backwards and forwards, although there seems no reason why their walk should not be twice or thrice as long. Both sides of the forecastle, too, and the lee-gangway, are generally filled with these walking philosophers, as they may in truth be called; for they enjoy the hour that passes, and are ready to take whatever comes in good part. The weather-gangway is usually left for the occasional transits of that most restless of mortals, the officer of the watch, who, as in duty bound, is eternally fidgeting about the trim of the sails, and must often step forward to the chestree, from whence, while resting his foot on the tack-block of the mainsail, he may cast his eye aloft to detect something to alter in the position of the head-yards. Or if he hears any noise in the galley, or even on the lower deck, he can walk forward till he is able to peer down the fore-hatchway, by stooping under the bows of the boat on the booms. Most of this fidget probably arises, not so much from any wish to find fault with what is wrong, as to maintain what is right. The true preventive service of an officer is to interpose his superintending vigilance between the temptation, on the part of the men, to err, and their first motion towards offence. Were this principle fully acted up to in all ships, how rapidly might not our punishments subside!

At four, or half-past four in the afternoon, the merry pipe to supper awakes the sleepers, arrests the peripatetics, and once more clusters young and old round the mess-table. At sunset the drum beats to quarters, when the men's names are carefully called over, and the sobriety of each ascertained. Other duties may be intermitted on the day of rest, but not that of the guns, which are minutely examined, and all their appendages got ready every evening with as much earnest care as if the ship were that instant sailing into action. A moment's reflection, indeed, will show that there can, of course, be no difference in this respect between Sunday and any other evening. Then come in succession the following routine orders, and their correspondent evolutions:—"Reef topsails!" "Stand by the hammocks!" "Pipe down!" "Roll up the cloths!" "Call the watch!" "Pipe the sweepers!" And thus, at last, the first day of the week at sea, in a man-of-war, is at an end.

In old times, I recollect, the fashion was for the men to press aft in a disorganised crowd; but of late years the following more appropriate and orderly arrangement has been universally adopted. The men are distributed in a close double row round the quarter-deck gangways and forecastle, each standing in his place according to the order of his name on the Open List. A small table is then brought up, on which are spread the muster-books; and the captain's clerk, who is the only person seated, begins calling over the names. Each man, as his turn comes, pulls off his hat, smooths down his hair, and passes over from the lee side of the deck to the weather side, stepping across the gratings just before the binnacle. The captain stands to windward, so that the men advance directly up towards him, and then pass forward in review. By this means, not only the captain, but the officers, who, of course, are all present, become better acquainted with the men, learn their names, and ascertain their respective ratings and merits. The first lieutenant plants himself at the captain's elbow to furnish such general information as may be required, or to appeal for more minute details to the other lieutenants, warrant-officers, mates, or midshipmen, as the case may be.

The captain avails himself of this public opportunity of telling any of the men that they have been advanced a step on the books since the last muster; and if these intimations be given without parade, and in good taste, they afford great satisfaction to the people, though it may often happen that the changes of rating are almost nominal. It is a great point gained in all discipline, if the persons we wish to influence can be made duly sensible that their merits and exertions are not neglected. It is obvious, too, that if giving a man a higher rating be a source of encouragement, to disrate him may readily be used as a means of punishment. I remember, in the Lyra, on my way home from China, in 1817, that the captain of the foretop, a fine active lad from North Shields, got into some scrape, not quite bad enough to bring him within the reach of the terrible gangway, but close to it, and I was rather perplexed how to chastise the offender. The first Sunday in the month was close at hand, so I waited till this man's name was called, and then, after a suitable lecture, desired the clerk, in the hearing of the whole ship's company, to change his rating to that of able seaman from captain of the top. The poor fellow looked bewildered, and, instead of passing on when another name was called, stood stock-still half-way across the deck.

"Don't you hear?" I said; "you are no longer captain of the foretop, you are disrated on the ship's books."

I then turned to the clerk to see the entry properly made; but on looking again at the disrated seaman, I observed, to my astonishment, that he was in tears!

I certainly had not reckoned upon such a scene; but it at once flashed upon me that here was an opportunity of gaining two important points. The first and most obvious of which was to secure this particular man's future good services by enlisting all that was hearty in his nature at the instant of its strongest expression; and the next, to avail myself of the circumstance to stamp a still higher degree of importance in the eyes of the men than before upon the value of these ratings. I therefore instantly called out to the clerk to stop his pen; and then addressing the man, in a voice loud enough to be heard by all the crew, said, I was quite sure any one who felt so sensibly the degradation implied in the loss of rank which he had just incurred was never likely to expose himself again to such a risk. I should therefore not only give him back his former rating, and replace him in his station as captain of the top, but assure him that all trace both of his offence and its punishment should from that moment be entirely forgotten.

It is hardly within the range of popular explanation to show in what particulars the different shades of technical merit consist, by which many of these ratings are awarded. The letters A.B., which mean Able Seaman, are placed against the names of those only who are thorough-bred sailors, or who, in sea phrase, can not only "hand, reef, and steer," but are likewise capable of heaving the lead in the darkest night, as well as in the day-time; who can use the palm and needle of a sail-maker; and who are versed in every part of a ship's rigging, in the stowage of the hold, and in the exercise of the great guns. Of course, an A.B. must be able to pull an oar, as well as use it in sculling, understand the management of a boat under sail, and know how to cross a surf. He must also learn the art of placing an anchor in a boat, in order to its being laid out; and how to get it in again when weighed. In these, and twenty other things which might be pointed out, he ought to be examined by the boatswain and other officers before his rating of A.B. is fully established on the books.

The higher ratings of quarter-master, gunner's mate, captain of the forecastle and of the tops, and so on, are given chiefly to men who may not, in fact, know more than every Able Seaman is supposed to be acquainted with, but who have recommended themselves by their superior activity and vigilance, and have not only shown themselves fit to command others by their decision of character, but evinced a sincere anxiety to see the work of their department well performed. It is of great consequence to assist in every way the authority of these leading hands over the other men stationed in the same part of the ship; and judicious officers will generally be able to avail themselves to great purpose, in moments of trial, of the energetic co-operation of these persons. Much of the internal, or what may be called domestic, discipline of the crew, depends upon the conduct of these men; for each mess has one of them at its head, who is held more or less responsible for the behaviour of the people in that knot or party. I have, however, known some officers exact a great deal too much from these captains of the messes, and expect them to become spies and informers against their companions; or, which is just as unreasonable, hold them fully answerable for all delinquencies committed in their part of the ship. This is cruel; because, although they undoubtedly may contribute materially towards the maintenance of good order, they cannot, by possibility, do more than act as assistants to the first lieutenant, and chiefly by explaining to the rest of the people what is required of them. Most men in the long-run, and perhaps in all ranks of society, but certainly on board a manof-war, find it so much more agreeable in every respect to do what is right than what is wrong, that when they come distinctly to know what is wanted, they almost invariably set about executing it cheerfully. The first grand point, therefore, in the ship's discipline, after a system has been adopted which shall be consistent in all its parts, is, to let the details of this system be thoroughly understood by every one on board. When a good plan has been once fixed upon, and the officers are vigilant, patient, and exact in their own personal conduct, and the leading men have been made fully acquainted with what is required, the rest of the crew will be but too happy to do their duty manfully and well, without the instrumentality of the lash, except in extreme cases.

In former times, the distinctions amongst ratings of the seamen on the ship's books were so few that it was impossible to discriminate correctly, or to assign to each man, with any justice, the exact rating which his knowledge of seamanship, his experience in the exercise of that knowledge, his general good conduct, and his abilities, might entitle him to. An Order in Council, dated November, 1816, established a new system of Ratings; and by another Order, dated the 23rd of June, 1824, "the net sea pay of the flag-officers of His Majesty's fleet" was established, "together with the net sea pay and number of their retinue; the number of commissioned, warrant, petty, and non-commissioned officers, and the ratings of every description both of seamen and marines, allowed to each class of His Majesty's ships, with their rates of net sea pay respectively; and distinguishing the several classes for sharing the produce of seizures."[6]

As soon as the ship's company have been mustered, the captain takes off his hat and reads the Articles of War, to which, out of respect to this important act of parliament, the people listen in like manner uncovered. Between breakfast and divisions, some captains occupy themselves in examining the weekly reports of the expenditure of boatswain's, gunner's, and carpenter's stores; and in going over with the purser the account of the remains of provisions, fuel, and slop-clothing on board. After which he may overhaul the midshipmen's log-books, watch, station, and quarter bills, or take a look at their school-books. If the ship be in harbour, he also glances his eye at their accounts; and he generally takes occasion to indulge in a little kindly gossip about their mess, their love of the sea, and the last letters they received from home.

Thus the gallant skipper, as well as his gallant crew, has seldom much spare time on his hands during the forenoon of Sunday. I should be right glad, indeed, to be informed what day, or hour, or even what half-hour, in the whole week, from end to end, the captain can fairly call his own. Not one! Every other person on board has his hour, or his four hours, or his eight hours of rest, and of relief from all anxiety; but the poor captain has not a minute. He is the chief over all, it is true; but he pays dearly and deeply for this distinction in the shape of heavy responsibilities, and perpetual trials of various kinds. Our poet says, "uneasy lies the head that wears a crown"—I am quite sure that unburdened never lie the shoulders that wear two epaulettes. The captain is at all calls, and must be ready at all seasons with resources, good or bad, to supply the failures or indolence of others; while his own fate, fortunes, and character, as well as the credit of the service, and sometimes that of the country, are made to hang upon the instantaneous nature of his decisions, and upon the vigour and efficiency of his exertions, at moments perhaps when his powers are nearly exhausted, and his spirit all but crushed by sheer fatigue. The simple enumeration of a captain of a man-of-war's ordinary responsibilities, I have often thought, would win for his class a degree of considerate forbearance, and candid allowance for his difficulties, which, perhaps, it has never yet fairly received from the public. If, to such enumeration, a notice respecting the duties of each were appended, an interesting peep might be afforded to the curious of the internal government of our singular community, and information supplied on not a few points, respecting which most people are entirely ignorant.

It is frequently the practice in the navy on Sundays to muster clothes at divisions, and to take a list of what slops are required by the men to complete their kit, or stock of worldly goods. This overhaul or inspection happens once a month; and when such is the intention, the word is passed along the lower deck at breakfast-time, that the ship's company are to "muster clothes at divisions." When the drum beats, each man brings his bag to the place where he stands in his division, and proceeds to arrange his things in order on the deck before him, each article being placed separately, that the officer may count, and, if he pleases, examine them, after the mates and mids have first called over the names, to ascertain that every man has the proper complement of articles, in good order, and well washed. A note is then taken of what things are wanted, in the way of slops, to supply worn-out and condemned clothes. "Slops" is the technical name for jackets, trousers, shirts, and other articles of a sailor's wardrobe, before they have been used. They are sent on board in bales and boxes by government, and placed in charge of the purser.

All this is reported in detail to the lieutenant of the division, who continues walking backwards and forwards while the inspection is going on, ready to answer appeals in the event of any difficulties or doubts arising. He carries in his hand a complete list of his division, and of each man's clothes; and when the young gentlemen under his orders have finished their work, and taken down what is wanted, the lieutenant goes along the line to investigate the whole anew. He then collects the different memorandums of slops wanted, and proceeds to make his report to the captain, who either sanctions or disapproves of the decision of the officer, as he pleases. Frequently the captain himself goes along the divisions, to look at the men's clothing; but the glance which he takes is necessarily of a more cursory nature; his object is, to let the men feel that he is ready to interfere, if need be, but also to show, that, unless there is any special call for the interposition of his authority, he confides in those under him.

A commander should recollect, that, whether it be he himself, or chiefly his officers and crew, who perform any useful public service, he invariably reaps at least his full share of the credit. His real interest, therefore, must always be, not merely to draw about him the ablest men he can induce to follow him, but to allow them the utmost latitude of independent action and responsibility, and as much of the merit of success as possible. If he persevere sincerely in this course, he will soon discover that the more he endeavours to remove the credit from himself, or, rather, to divide it handsomely with those who are acting with him, the more will he generally find the merit given back to himself.

I suspect few people have the smallest notion of what a sailor's wardrobe consists. Every one has, indeed, a vague idea that he must have a blue jacket and trousers, and a low, canvas, shining sort of affair, stuck on one side of his head, and called by him a hat. But of any further particulars, the shore-going world really knows about as little as they do respecting the dresses of the Emperor of China. Honest Jack, it is very true, is not much encumbered with clothes; and too often his wardrobe sadly resembles that of the Honourable Mr. Dowlas, which was so easily transportable in the Honourable Mr. Dowlas's pocket-handkerchief. Yet if he have the opportunity, poor fellow, and be duly encouraged, he is not a little of a dandy in his way.

In a well-regulated ship, a sailor's kit consists generally of at least two blue jackets, and one pea jacket, which is a sort of lumbering shaggy surtout, or curtailed great-coat, capable of being wrapped round the body, so as to cover the thighs. Why it is called a pea jacket I should be glad to be informed by any knowing person; and I beg leave accordingly to refer the question to that corner of the United Service Journal reserved for technical queries, a valuable niche in that ably conducted periodical. A seaman must also have two pairs of blue trousers, two pairs of shoes, six shirts, four pairs of stockings, two Guernsey frocks, made of a sort of worsted stocking-work, without any opening in front; two hats, two black handkerchiefs, and a comforter to wrap round the throat; together with several pairs of flannel drawers and waistcoats; for in hot, as well as in cold climates, and at all times of the year, the men are now encouraged, as much as possible, to wear flannel next the skin.

The above forms the kit of a sailor in a ship stationed in high latitudes. On the Mediterranean station, or on that of North America, there is such a mixture of severe and mild weather, that a larger stock is necessary than when the ship is employed exclusively in a cold, or in a hot climate. On the Indian, South American, and West Indian stations, which lie almost entirely between the tropics, woollen clothing gradually disappears, and the men are apt to suffer a good deal on returning to colder regions; it being hardly to be expected that folks of such improvident habits as sailors will be able to take care of articles of dress, for several years together, for which they have no immediate use.

I remember a captain, whose ship had been often exposed to these alternations, amusing his people very much on entering the tropics, by directing them to roll up all their blue clothes, worsted stockings, and so on, in neat bundles, each having the name and number of the person it belonged to written on a wooden tally, and fastened to it. These being all collected, and packed carefully in well-dried, watertight casks, were stowed away in the hold, and forgotten, till the pinching blasts off Cape Horn made the unpacking of the casks a scene of as great joy as ever attended the opening of a box of finery at a boarding-school gala.

In warm climates, the stock of a man-of-war sailor consists of four duck frocks, which are more like shirts than anything else, with sundry strings, and touches of blue binding about the breast and collar, which is generally lined with blue, and allowed to fall over the shoulders. It is totally contrary to Jack's habits to have anything tight about his throat; and one of the chief causes of his invincible estrangement from the royal marine corps is their stiff-necked custom of wearing polished leather stocks. I hardly suppose there could be found any motive strong enough to induce a genuine sailor to buckle a permanent collar round his neck with any tolerable grace; the alternative of the yard-arm would almost be preferable! His delight is to place a black or coloured silk handkerchief lightly over his neck, and to confine its ends across his breast by means of one of the small bones or vertebræ of a shark, which forms a neat, white, perforated cylinder. Some very prime dandies of the mizen-top fold a part of their handkerchief over the shoulders and back; but it requires the aid of a handsome person, and a good deal of modest assurance, to make this tolerable.

They must also provide themselves with four pairs of duck trousers, a straw hat for fine weather, and a canvas or beaver one for squalls, though this need not be insisted on. Shoes are not much used, except by those whose work lies aloft; and prudent hands generally keep a blue jacket by them, in case of rain or night-work. It is not a bad rule to muster the crew occasionally with blue jackets, even in hot weather, to see that such things are really in existence. Each man has, of course, a bed, a pillow, and two blankets; sheets are never heard of. He has also two hammocks, one of which is slung and in use, the other scrubbed, dry, and stowed away, ready to be exchanged for the dirty one. The hammocks, at the time I first went to sea (1802), were made of a coarse brown stuff, which it was difficult, if not impossible, to make white by any amount of scrubbing; and, what was worse, so thick that it was by no means easily dried. Now-a-days, they are generally made either of canvas, or of a twilled sacking, and, when spread out, measure 4-1/2 feet by 3-1/2; but when lashed up, and ready for stowing away in the netting, they form long sacks, about as big as a man's body, but not tapering to the ends.

In ships where much pains is taken to have the hammocks stowed properly, they are lashed up, so as to preserve the same width all along, and with neither more nor fewer than seven turns with a well-blacked small lashing, carefully passed round at equal intervals. When the hammocks are prepared in this way, and all made of the same size, (which condition may be secured by putting them through a ring of given dimensions,) they are laid in symmetrical order all round the ship, above the bulwark, on the quarter-deck and forecastle, and in the waist nettings along the gangways. Each hammock, it may be mentioned, has a separate number painted neatly upon it on a small, white, oval patch, near one of the corners; so that, when they are all stowed in the nettings, a uniform line of numbers extends round the ship, and the hammock of any man who may be taken ill can be found by his messmates in a moment. The bags, in like manner, of which each person has two, are numbered separately. In rainy weather the hammocks are securely covered by painted cloths.

As a seaman's kit generally forms his whole property, it ought to be carefully preserved, and every possible facility given that the service will allow of for his keeping it in good order. A captain of any consideration will naturally bear in mind, that, as the comfort and health of the men under his command depend most materially upon the manner in which they are clad, and especially upon the damp or dry state of their dress, it becomes an important branch of his duty to see that their things are taken care of with as much exactness as the spare sails, cordage, or provisions. It much too frequently happens, however, that the unfortunate sailors' clothes are more torment to them than advantage, and they may think themselves lucky if they can catch hold of a jacket or trousers to shift withal, so eternally are they interfered with by some inconsiderate officers. "Pipe the bags up!" "Pipe the bags down!" "Stow the bags afresh!" "Pipe to scrub the bags!" and twenty such orders are given in a day in some ships, to the endless misery of the people. It is, no doubt, necessary that the bags should be scrubbed and stowed properly, and be piped up and down at the proper times and seasons. But there are two ways of doing these things: one, which gives the men no more trouble than is absolutely unavoidable; the other, which harasses and justly provokes them. It is not enough to say that they must submit, whether they like it or not. They will submit, it is true; but in what temper? and how will these men work when called upon to exert themselves, if they are habitually treated with disrespect, and exposed to needless, and even impertinent worry? I have even heard of some crack ships, as they are termed, where the poor devils are obliged to pipe-clay their bags, to make them look white, forsooth! Why, the very idea of pipe-clay is gall and wormwood to the taste of the Johnnies. Of late years I understand there have been introduced black painted water-proof bags, which are a great comfort to the men. Besides keeping out wet, they require no trouble to scrub and dry, and, after all, are fully as clean, and far more useful in every respect.

To show the various sorts of outfit which the men composing a man-of-war's crew may be furnished with on first coming on board, I shall describe a scene which took place on the Leander's quarter-deck, off the Port of New York, in 1804. We were rather short-handed in those days; and being in the presence of a blockaded enemy, and liable, at half-an-hour's warning, to be in action, we could not afford to be very scrupulous as to the ways and means by which our numbers were completed, so that able-bodied men were secured to handle the gun-tackle falls. It chanced one day that we fell in with a ship filled with emigrants; a description of vessel called, in the classical dictionary of the cockpit, an "Irish guinea man." Out of her we pressed twenty Irishmen, besides two strapping fellows from Yorkshire, and one canny Scot.

Each of this score of Pats was rigged merely in a great coat, and a pair of something which might be called an apology for inexpressibles; while the rest of their united wardrobe could have been stowed away in the crown of any one of their hats. Their motives for emigrating to a country where mere health and strength of body are sure to gain an independent provision were obvious enough; and I must say, that to this hour I have not been able to forget the melancholy cry or howl with which the separation of these hardy settlers from their families was effected by the strong arm of power. It was a case of necessity, it is true; but still it was a cruel case, and one for the exercise of which the officer who put it in force deserves almost as much pity as the poor wretches whose feelings and interests it became his bounden duty to disregard.

In most admired contrast to this bewildered drove of half-starved Paddies stood the two immense, broad-shouldered, high-fed Yorkshiremen, dressed in long-tailed coats, corduroy breeches, and yellow-topped boots, each accompanied by a chest of clothes not much less than a pianoforte, and a huge pile of spades, pick-axes, and other implements of husbandry. They possessed money also, and letters of credit, and described themselves as being persons of some substance at home. Why they emigrated they would not tell; but such were their prospects, that it was difficult to say whether they or the wild Irishers were the most to be commiserated for so untoward an interruption. Be this as it may, it cost the clerk half-an-hour to write down a list of their multifarious goods and chattels, while a single scratch of the pen sufficed for that of all the Irishmen.

At last honest Saunders came under review. He was a tall, raw-boned, grave-looking personage, much pitted with the smallpox, and wearing a good deal of that harassed and melancholy air, which, sooner or later, settles on the brow of an assistant to a village pedagogue. He was startled, but not abashed, when drawn to the middle of the deck, and asked, in the presence of fifty persons, what clothes and other things he possessed? Not choosing at first to betray his poverty, he made no answer, but looked round, as if to discover where his chest had been placed. He then glanced at his thread-bare sleeve and tattered shoon, with a slight touch of dry and bitter humour playing about the corners of his mouth, and a faint sparkle lighting up his grey and sunken eye, as he returned the impatient official stare of the clerk, who stood, pen in hand, ready to note down the items.

"Don't be frightened, man," said the captain; "no one is going to hurt you, your things are quite safe. What does your property consist of?"

"A trifle, sir, a trifle," quoth poor Sawney; "fourpence ha'penny and an auld knife!"

Before concluding this subject, it may perhaps be useful to remark, that, unless in those cases where such a measure is absolutely necessary, the actual examination and minute recording of the men's clothes might, in general, be advantageously dispensed with. I have, indeed, occasionally fancied I saw traces of irritation and wounded pride amongst the men, when all their little knick-knacks, every hat, hose, and handkerchief, or old shoe, was examined into and noted down, to be reproduced that day month, or its absence accounted for. I tried a middle course in my own ship, which appeared to answer all the purposes required. From time to time the men were ordered to bring their bags to divisions, and to spread out their clothes to air on the deck, over the guns, along the hammock-nettings, or in the rigging. In this way the officers and mids, who passed repeatedly up and down the line, had opportunities enough, if they did their duty, to see that all the clothes were clean, dry, and in good order. When any man's things were observed not to be in the condition demanded by the regulations of the ship, or he was found ragged in his clothes, or not properly dressed, then such delinquent was no longer indulged with the exemption, but had his kit subjected to a daily, or weekly, or monthly scrutiny, as the case might be. As long as he was in this predicament, he was obliged to exhibit every article in proper condition, and was not at liberty, without asking leave, to destroy even such worn-out things as an old Jew clothesman would turn up his beard at. I took care that no part of this surveillance should be talked of as a punishment, although, unquestionably, it was intended and felt as such; but studied rather to give it the character of a necessary duty in the instance of individuals who, if not so watched, would, by their misconduct, hurt the general discipline of the ship. It was very seldom that any one exposed to such drilling for a month or six weeks ever brought himself within the range of its humiliation a second time.

FOOTNOTES:

[6] CLASSES AND DENOMINATIONS OF HER MAJESTY'S SHIPS.

1. Rated Ships, viz.:—

First Rate.—All Three-decked Ships.

Second Rate.—One of Her Majesty's Yachts, and all Two-decked Ships whose war complements consist of 700 men and upwards.

Third Rate.—Her Majesty's other Yachts, and all such Yachts as may bear the Flag or Pendant of an Admiral or Captain Superintending one of Her Majesty's Dock-yards; and all Ships whose complements are under 700 and not less than 600.

Fourth Rate.—Ships whose complements are under 600 and not less than 400.

Fifth Rate.—Ships whose complements are under 400 and not less than 250.

Sixth Rate.—Ships under 250.

2. Sloops and Bomb-Vessels; all such as are commanded by Commanders.

3. All other smaller Vessels; such as are commanded by Lieutenants or inferior officers.

Printer's Flower

CHAPTER XIII.

SAILORS' PETS.

A dog is the most obvious and natural pet for a gentleman; but still, a dog, with all his familiarity, is a selfish sort of companion, for he generally bestows his whole sociability either upon his master, or his master's servant who feeds him, or upon his master's friend who accompanies him to the fields. To all others he is not only cold, but often surly and impertinent. This, indeed, would matter little, if there were not unfortunately a proverb extant, which has led perhaps to more squabbles, duels, and other uncharitableness, than most other causes of dispute. This pugnacious proverb, "Love me, love my dog," being interpreted, signifies, "If you kick my dog, I kick you." Then follows, if not the kick, words which hurt honour quite as much, and in the end too often draw away the life-blood of warriors who, but for some mangy cur, might have fought themselves into companionship in public usefulness and fame with "Duncan, Howe, or Jarvis."

No dog, therefore, can ever become a very general favourite of the crew; for it is so completely his nature to be exclusive in his regards, that were a whole pack of hounds on board, they would not be enough, nor afford a tenth part of the amusement which a single monkey serves out to a ship's company. I take good care, accordingly, never to be without one in any ship I command, on the sheer principle of keeping the men employed, in a good humoured way, when they chance to have no specific duty to attend to. It must be recollected that we are often exposed to long periods of inaction, during which mischief is very apt to be brewed amongst the people.

But if a good monkey be allowed to run about the ship, I defy any one to continue long in a bad humour. Jacko is an overmatch for the demon of idleness, at least if light hearts and innocent diversions be weapons against which he cannot long contend. Be this as it may, I make a rule of entering a monkey as speedily as possible after hoisting my pendant; and if a reform takes place in the table of ratings, I would recommend a corner for the "ship's monkey," which should be borne on the books for "full allowance of victuals," excepting only the grog; for I have observed that a small quantity of tipple very soon upsets him; and although there are few things in nature more ridiculous than a monkey half-seas over, yet the reasons against permitting such pranks are obvious and numerous.

When Lord Melville, then First Lord of the Admiralty, to my great surprise and delight, put into my hands a commission for a ship going to the South American station, a quarter of the world I had long desired to visit, my first thought was, "Where now shall I manage to find a merry rascal of a monkey?" Of course, I did not give audible expression to this thought in the First Lord's room; but, on coming down-stairs, I had a talk about it in the hall with my friend, the late Mr. Nutland, the porter, who laughed, and said,—

"Why, sir, you may buy a wilderness of monkeys at Exeter 'Change."

"True! true!" and off I hurried in a Hackney coach. Mr. Cross, not only agreed to spare me one of his choicest and funniest animals, but readily offered his help to convey him to the ship. "Lord, sir!" said he, "there is not an animal in the whole world so wild or fierce that we can't carry about as innocent as a lamb; only trust to me, sir, and your monkey shall be delivered on board your ship in Portsmouth Harbour as safely as if he were your best chronometer going down by mail in charge of the master." Accordingly he was in a famous condition for his breakfast next morning, when the waterman ferried him off from Common Hard to the hulk, on board which the officers had just assembled. As the ship had been only two or three days in commission, few seamen had as yet entered; but shortly afterwards they came on board in sufficient numbers; and I have sometimes ascribed the facility with which we got the ship manned, not a little to the attractive agency of the diverting vagabond, recently come from town, the fame of whose tricks soon extended over Portsea; such as catching hold of the end of the sail-maker's ball of twine, and paying the whole overboard, hand over hand, from a secure station in the rigging; or stealing the boatswain's silver call, and letting it drop from the end of the cat-head; or his getting into one of the cabin ports and tearing up the captain's letters, a trick at which even the stately skipper can only laugh.

One of our monkey's grand amusements was to watch some one arranging his clothes bag. After the stowage was completed, and everything put carefully away, he would steal round, untie the strings, and having opened the mouth of the bag draw forth in succession every article of dress, first smell it, then turn it over and over, and lastly fling it away on the wet deck. It was amusing enough to observe, that all the while he was committing any piece of mischief he appeared not only to be under the fullest consciousness of guilt, but living in the perfect certainty that he was earning a good sound drubbing for his pains. Still the pleasure of doing wrong was so strong and habitual within him, that he seemed utterly incapable of resisting the temptation. While thus occupied, and alternately chattering with terror, and screaming with delight, till the enraged owner of the property burst in upon him, hardly more angry with Jacko than with his malicious messmates, who, instead of preventing, had rather encouraged the pillage.

All this was innocent, however, compared to the tricks which the blue-jackets taught him to play upon the jolly marines. How they set about this laudable piece of instruction, I know not; but the antipathy which they established in Jacko's breast against the red coats was something far beyond ordinary prejudice, and in its consequences partook more of the interminable war between cat and dog. At first he merely chattered, or grinned contemptuously at them; or, at worst, snapped at their heels, soiled their fine pipe-clayed trousers, or pulled the cartridges out of their cartouch-boxes, and scattered the powder over the decks; feats for which his rump was sure to smart under the ratan of the indignant sergeant, to whom the "party" made their complaint. Upon these occasions the sailors laughed so heartily at their friend Jacko, as he placed his hands behind him, and, in an agony of rage and pain, rubbed the seat of honour tingling under the sergeant's chastisement, that if he could only have reasoned the matter, he would soon have distrusted this offensive but not defensive alliance with the Johnnies against the Jollies. Sometimes, indeed, he appeared to be quite sensible of his absurd position, caned by his enemy, and ridiculed by his friends, in whose cause he was suffering. On these occasions, he often made a run, open-mouthed, at the sailors; in return for which mutinous proceeding he was sure to get a smart rap over the nose from his own party, which more than counterpoised the anguish at the other extremity of his person, giving ludicrous occupation to both his hands, and redoubling the shouts of laughter at his expense. In short, poor St. Jago literally got what is currently called monkey's allowance, viz. "more kicks than halfpence."

In process of time, as Mr. Monkey, by dint of that bitter monitor, experience, gained higher knowledge in the art of marine warfare and ship diplomacy, he became much more formidable in his attacks on the "corps," and generally contrived to keep himself well beyond the reach of the sergeant's merciless ratan. One of the favourite pranks of the sailors was to place him near the break of the forecastle, with a handspike, taken from the bow-chaser gun, in his paws. It was quite as much as he could carry, and far more than he could use as a missile against the royals; but he was soon instructed in a method of employing it, which always grievously annoyed the enemy. Theoretically, I presume poor Jacko knew no more of the laws of gravitation, than his friends, the seamen, did of centrifugal action, when swinging round the hand-lead to gain soundings, by pitching it far forward into the water; but both the monkey and his wicked associates knew very well, that if a handspike were held across the top of the forecastle ladder, and let go when a person was about half-way down it, the heels of the said individual would be sure to bring up, or stop the bar. The unhappy marine, therefore, who happened to be descending the steps when Jacko let his handspike fall, generally got the skin taken off his heels, or his instep, according as his rear or his front was turned towards the foe. The instant Jacko let go his hold, and the law of gravitation began to act, so that the handspike was heard to rattle down the ladder, off he jumped to the bow of the barge, overlooking the spot, and there sat, with his neck stretched out, his eyes starting from his head, and his lips drawn back, till his teeth, displayed from ear to ear, rapped against one another like a pair of castanets in a bolero, under the influence of the most ecstatic alarm, curiously mixed up with the joy of complete success. The poor wounded Gulpin, in the mean time, rubbed his ankles as he fired off a volley of imprecations, the only effect of which was to increase the number of his audience, grinning and laughing in chorus with the terrified mischief-monger.

I remember seeing a marine, of more than usual activity, and who had before been served this trick, catch hold of the end of the weather middle stay-sail sheet, hanging from the booms, and, before Jacko knew what he was about, succeed in giving him such a cut across his sconce as the animal never forgot or forgave. Next morning the monkey stowed himself away behind the pumps, till the same marine passed; he then sprung out, and laid hold of him by the calf of the leg; and, in spite of sundry kicks and cuffs, never once relaxed his jaws till the teeth met amongst what the loblolly boy, in the pride of his anatomical knowledge, called the "gastrocnemii muscles" of his enemy's leg. The cries of "murder!" from the soldier, brought the marines and many of the sailors under the half-deck to the poor fellow's rescue; while the author of the mischief scuttled off among the men's feet, chattering and screaming all the way. He was not again seen during two or three days; at the end of which, as the wounded "troop" was not much hurt, a sort of truce was proclaimed between the red and the blue factions of the ship. Doubtless the armistice was all the better kept in consequence of some tolerably intelligible hints from the higher powers, that the peace of the ship was no longer to be invaded to make sport for those who were evidently more idle than they ought to be, and for whom, therefore, a little additional work might possibly be found.

Old Jacko, however, like one of the weaker states of Europe, whose fate and fortunes are settled by the protocols of the surrounding political giants, was no party to these treaties; and having once tasted the joys of revenge, he could not keep his teeth quiet, but must needs have another bite. Upon this occasion, however, he kept clear of the corps, and attacked one of his oldest and dearest friends, no less a personage than the captain of the foretop. It was in warm weather, and the men, as usual, were dining on the main-deck; the grog had been served out, and the happy Johnnies were just beginning to sip their darling beverage, when Mr. Mischief, incessantly occupied in his vocation of wrong doing, and utterly incapable of resisting any good opening to get himself into a scrape, saw the grog-kid of the captain of the top's mess standing by the fore-hatchway. So he paced round, as if seeking for a bit of bread, but all the while keeping his face turned just so far from the fated grog-vessel that no one suspected his design. On reaching the spot his heart began to fail him, but not his wickedness; indeed, his was the very beau ideal of that character described in the satire of Junius, which, "without courage enough to resist doing a bad action, has yet virtue enough to be ashamed of it." Whether or not these mixed motives influenced old Jacko, I cannot pretend to say; but there he sat chattering, screaming, and trembling, as if the sergeant's cane had been within an inch of his hide.

"What ails you, my dear Mr. St. James?" said the captain of the top, playfully addressing the monkey. "What are you afraid of? Nobody is going to hurt you; we are all sailors and friends here, man. Not a marine within hail of you!"

At this stage of the colloquy the sly rogue having mustered all his energies, fairly grasped the grog-kid in his arms, and, making a clean spring from the deck, placed himself, at the first bound, beyond the reach of the horror-stricken seaman. This exploit was not so adroitly performed as it might have been if Jacko had been less agitated, and one-half of the delicious nectar in the sailor's cup was jerked out.

"You bloody thundering rascal of a monkey!" bellowed the astounded topman; "let go the kid, or I'll shy this knife at your head!"

The threat was no sooner uttered than executed; for the sailor, without waiting to see the effect of his summons, threw the knife; and had not his saintship ducked his head, there would have been an end of monkey tricks for that cruise. As the glittering steel passed before the wicked scamp's eyes, the flash deprived him of all recollection of the mischief in hand: with a loud yell he leaped on the booms, and in his terror let the prize slip from his grasp. It fell on the cooming of the hatchway, hung for one instant, and then dashed right down into the fore-cockpit, to the infinite astonishment of the boatswain's yeoman, a thirsty soul, and familiar with drink in all its shapes, but who declared he never before had tried grog in a shower-bath.

Up started the enraged party of seamen on their feet. "All hands catch monkey!" was the cry; and in ten seconds the whole crew, including the cook with his ladle, and his mate with the tormentors in his hand, were seen scrambling on deck. Jacko scampered like lightning up the main-stay, and reached the top before any of the men, who had mounted the rigging, were half-a-dozen ratlines above the hammocks. The officers rushed to the quarter-deck, naturally fancying from the bustling sounds that a man was overboard; but they were soon undeceived by the shouts of laughter which resounded from every part of the ship, low and aloft.

For a few moments Jacko sat on the main-cap, chattering at such a rate that, had it been dark, one of the men said, you could have seen the sparks of fire from his teeth. I do not quite believe this; but certainly I never witnessed such an expression of fear. A dozen men were soon pouring into the top, while two others were stealing up the stay, and four or five had got into the topmast-shrouds, to cut off his retreat in that direction; finally, an active fellow leaped from the rigging to the topmast, and sliding down the well-greased spar, almost plumped on the devoted head of this master of the revels. It was now absolutely necessary for Jacko to do something; so he made a clear run down the main lift to the lower yard-arm. The gunner's mate foreseeing this manoeuvre, had sprung to guard his department, and had already lain out as far as the inner boom iron, with a gasket in his hand, and quite certain of catching the chase. Not a bit! "A gunner's mate catch a monkey!" The fable of the Tortoise and the Hare affords but a feeble simile to characterize such a match; and before old Hard-a-weather and his gasket had reached the yard-arm, our nimble Mona had trotted half-way up the leach of the topsail, and was seated as familiarly on the bridle of the maintop-bowline, as if he had been perched on the feathery branch of a cocoa-nut tree, enjoying the sea breeze, in his native island, amongst the beautiful Cape de Verdes.

The sailors were now fairly baffled, and still more so when the expert rogue chose to climb a little higher, and then to walk deliberately along the standing part of the main-topsail brace to the mizen-topmast head; whence, as if to divert himself, or force his pursuers to mingle admiration with their rage, he made a flying leap downwards to the peak haulyards, scampering along the single part till he reached the end of the gaff. There he sat laughing at a hundred and fifty men and boys, employed in the vain attempt to catch one monkey!

Sailors are certainly not men to give up a pursuit lightly; but after an hour of as hard labour as I ever witnessed, they were all obliged to relinquish the chase from sheer fatigue, and poor Jacko was pardoned by acclamation. The captain of the foretop, however, a couple of days afterwards, more out of fun than from any ill-will on the old grog score, gave the monkey's ear a pinch, upon which the animal snapped at his thumb, and bit it so seriously that the man was obliged to apply to the doctor. When this was reported to me by the surgeon, I began to think my four-footed friend was either getting rather too much licence, or that too many liberties were taken with him, so I gave orders that in future he should be let alone. Nevertheless, Jacko contrived to bite two more of the people, one of whom was the sergeant, the other the midshipmen's boy. These were all wounded in one day; and when the surgeon came to me next morning, as usual, with the sick-list in his hand, he was rather in dudgeon.

"Really, sir," said he, "this does seem rather too much of the monkey. Here are no fewer than three persons in my list from bites of this infernal beast."

"Three!" I exclaimed, and straightway got angry, partly at my own folly, partly at the perversity of my pet, and also somewhat nettled by the tone not very unreasonably assumed by the doctor. "Send Black, the quarter-master, here directly." He soon came.

"Don't you take care of the monkey?" I asked.

"Yes, sir, I do. You gave me charge of him."

"Well! and why don't you prevent his biting the people?"

"I can't prevent him, sir."

"No! Then throw him overboard!" I cried—"over with him at once! There he stands, in charge of the corporal and two marines; pitch him right over the lee-gangway. I will not have the ship's company killed and wounded at this rate. Over with him, I say!"

The quarter-master moved off to the lee-gangway, and took the terrified animal in his arms; while, on its part, the poor creature seemed conscious of its approaching fate, and spread out its arms over the seaman's bare breast, as if to supplicate his mercy. The old sailor, who looked mightily as if he were going to melt upon the occasion, cast a petitioning glance to windward every now and then from under the edge of his straw hat, as I paced up and down the deck, still fuming away at the doctor's demi-official reproach. As I saw the fellow wished to say something, I at length asked him whether he had any proposal to make respecting his wicked and troublesome pet. The old man's face brightened up with this prospect of a respite for his favourite; and, after humming and hawing for a minute, he said,—

"It is all owing to these two great teeth, sir; if they were out, he would be as harmless as any lamb."

"I tell you what it is," I replied, catching at this suggestion, "I positively will not have the whole ship's company driven one after another into the sick list by your confounded monkey; but if you choose to draw those wild-boar tusks of his, you may let him live."

Few reprieves were ever hailed at the foot of the gallows with more joy by the friends of a felon than this announcement of a commutation of Mr. St. Jago's sentence was received by his affectionate companions. Even the marines, though constitutionally predisposed against him, were glad of the change; and I heard the sentry at the cabin door say, "I knew the captain had too much regard for the animal to do him an injury."

Injury, indeed! I question whether poor Jacko thought the alternative any favour. At all events, his friends seemed grievously puzzled how to fulfil the conditions of his exemption from a watery grave; for I could perceive a council of war going on upon the lee side of the main deck, as to the best method of proceeding in the affair of the tusks.

"Who'll hold the monkey?" said one.

No answer was made to this. It was like the old story of belling the cat; but there was no Douglas so bold as to try the experiment on Master Jacko, who at any time was a powerful animal, and would, it was naturally inferred, make a tenfold effort when his teeth were the objects of attack.

"Even suppose we could tie the poor unfortunate victim," said the quarter-master, "who knows how to pull out these great big teeth? We might break his jaw in the operation."

There was a long pause.

"I dare say," at length cried one of the party, "that the doctor's mate, who is a good-natured gentleman, would be so kind as to tell us how we can manage this affair."

A deputation of the monkey's friends was accordingly despatched to present a humble petition to the surgeon's assistant, praying that he would be graciously pleased to lend his professional aid in saving the jaw, and perhaps the life, of one of the most diverting vagabonds in his Majesty's service.

Fortunately, the assistant medico was not one of those priggish puppies who, having little professional knowledge to balance their own inherent stupidity, fancy it necessary to support their dignity by the agency of etiquettes alone. He was, on the contrary, a young man of skill, good sense, and right feelings, who cared nothing at all about his dignity when he could be of any use; or rather, who left it to take care of itself, without thinking of anything but his business. To tell the truth, he was so much a lover of his art that he felt secretly tickled with the idea of a new operation, and experienced on the occasion that peculiar pleasure, known, it is said, only to the faculty, when a complicated and difficult case falls into their hands. He had just mixed a glass of grog, after the day's work was done, and was eyeing the beverage with that sort of serene anticipation which the sober certainty of waking bliss is sure to produce, when the deputation made their appearance, having first sent in the boy, whose arm was still in a sling from the bite of the monkey.

"Are you in a hurry?" said the doctor, on hearing the novel petition; for he had nestled himself into the corner of the berth, with one foot on the bench, the other on the table, and his glass of "half-and-half" glowing like amber between his eye and the solitary glim of those profound regions, those diamond mines from which the Hoods and the Hardys of times past and times present have been drawn up to the very tip-top of their profession.

"Yes, sir," replied the spokesman of the party. "There is no time to be lost, for the captain, who is in a great rage, says, if we don't extricate the monkey's grinders, overboard he goes to a certainty."

"Extricate is not the word, you blockhead; extract, I suppose you mean. Besides, I fancy it is not his grinders which the captain has ordered to be removed, but his eye-teeth, or tusks, as they may fairly be called."

"Well, sir," said the impatient seaman, "just as you please, tushes or high teeth, if you'll only be kind enough to come and help us out of this plaguy mess, and save the poor dumb animal's life."

The quick clatter of feet up the ladders gave the signal that the successful deputation were returning to the anxious party assembled between the two guns just abaft the gangway-ladder, and nearly abreast the after-hatchway, and immediate preparations were made for the operation.

While these preparations were going on, the learned doctor had leisure to consider the case more attentively; and it occurred to him that it would be needless cruelty to draw the poor beast's tusks, and therefore he exchanged that too well-known instrument, the dentist's key, for a pair of bone-nippers, with which he proposed merely to break off the points.

"I don't know exactly about that," said the perplexed quarter-master, when the assistant surgeon explained his views of the matter. "The captain said to me, 'Draw those wild bear's tushes out of him;' and I am afraid, if they are only broken, the monkey may still have a chance for going astern."

"Nonsense, nonsense!" interrupted the judicious doctor. "Can you suppose the captain wished that anything should he done to the animal but just enough to prevent his biting the people?"

And, suiting the action to the word, he closed the fatal pincers, and nipped away the ends of the offending tusks, it is to be hoped without causing him any great pain. But although poor Jacko probably did not suffer much, his rage knew no bounds; and no sooner was the canvas unfolded, than he sprang towards the after-hatchway, and catching the sergeant's hand in his mouth, closed his jaws with all his force. Instinctively the soldier's cane was in the air, but a dozen voices roared out, "He can't bite! He has got no tushes left! Don't hit him!" And, sure enough, although Mr. St. Jago gnawed and struggled, he could make no impression on the well-tanned fist of the veteran, but, at length, slunk off quite abashed, amidst the shouts and laughter of the crew.

When the ship came to England, and was paid off, I turned over the monkey to the boatswain, who always remains in the ship, whence he found his way back to his old haunts in Exeter 'Change, after an absence of nearly three years; for happening one day, not long after the ship was paid off, to be in attendance upon a party seeing the wild beasts, one of the monkeys set up such a chattering in his cage, that he attracted the attention of the keeper of the establishment. "That animal seems to know you, sir," said he to me; and upon going nearer, I discovered my old and mischievous friend grinning with delight. I must own, indeed, that my heart smote me a little as I looked at the broken teeth, while the poor fellow held out his paw to catch my hand, in the spirit of perfect kindness and forgiveness.

A far different fate, I am sorry to record, befell another monkey of mine, in another ship, and in a very different quarter of the globe. I was then in command of the Lyra, on the homeward voyage from China, after the embassy under Lord Amherst had been concluded. We touched on our way to Calcutta at the Philippine Islands, and, amongst other live stock, laid in a monkey which had seen the world. He was born, they assured us, at Teneriffe, bred at Cadiz, and had afterwards made the voyage across the Pacific Ocean, viá Lima and Acapulco, to Manilla. Our extensive traveller had made good use of his time and opportunities, and was destined to see a good deal more of men and manners, indeed almost to make out the circuit of the globe. This distinguished monkey had a particular liking for the marines, who caressed and fed him, and sometimes even ventured to teach him to play off tricks on Jack, which the sailors promised one day to pay back with interest on the soldiers. In so diminutive a vessel as a ten-gun brig, there is but a small party of marines, merely a sergeant's guard, and no commissioned officer, otherwise I hardly think the following trick would have been attempted.

One Sunday, while going the formal division rounds, I came to a figure which at first sight puzzled me not a little. This was no other than our great traveller, the monkey, rigged out as a marine, and planted like a sentry on the middle step of the short ladder, which, in deep-waisted vessels, is placed at the gangway, and reaches from the deck to the top of the bulwark. The animal was dressed up in a complete suit of miniature uniform, made chiefly of the coloured buntin used for flags with sundry bits of red baize purloined from the carpenters. His regimental cap was constructed out of painted canvas; and under his lower jaw had been forced a stock of pump-leather, so stiff in itself, and so tightly drawn back, that his head was rendered totally immoveable. His chin, and great part of the cheeks, had been shaved with so much care, that only two small curled mustachios and a respectable pair of whiskers remained. His hair behind being tied back tightly into a queue, the poor devil's eyes were almost starting from his head; while the corners of his mouth being likewise tugged towards the ears by the hair-dresser's operations, the expression of his countenance became irresistibly ludicrous. The astonished recruit's elbows were then brought in contact and fastened behind by a lashing, passed round and secured to the middle step of the ladder, so that he could not budge an inch from his position. One of the ship's pistols, fashioned like a musket, and strapped to his shoulder, was tied to his left hand, which again had been sewed by the sail-maker to the waistband of his beautifully pipe-clayed trousers; in short, he was rigged up as a complete sea-soldier in full uniform.

As the captain and his train approached, the monkey began to tremble and chatter; but the men, not knowing how their chief might relish the joke, looked rather grave, while, I own, it cost me no small official struggle to keep down a laugh. I did succeed, however, and merely said, in passing, "You should not play these tricks upon travellers; cast him loose immediately." One of the men pulled his knife from his breast, and cutting the cord which fastened the poor Spaniard to the ladder, let him scamper off. Unluckily for the gravity of the officers, however, and that of the crew, Jacko did not run below, or jump into one of the boats out of sight, but made straight for his dear friends the marines, drawn up in line across our little hurricane-house of a poop. Unconscious of the ridicule he was bringing on his military patrons, he took up a position in front of the corps, not unlike a fugleman; and I need hardly say, that even the royals themselves, provoked though they were, now joined in the laugh which soon passed along the decks, and was with difficulty suppressed during the remainder of the muster.

A day or two afterwards, and while the monkey was still puzzled to think what was the matter with his chin, he happened to observe the doctor engaged in some chemical process. As his curiosity and desire for information were just such as ought to characterize a traveller of his intelligence, he crept gradually from chest to chest, and from bag to bag, till he arrived within about a yard of Apothecaries' Hall, as that part of the steerage was named by the midshipmen. Poor Mono's delight was very great as he observed the process of pill-making, which he watched attentively while the ingredients were successively weighed, pounded, and formed into a long roll of paste. All these proceedings excited his deepest interest. The doctor then took his spreader, and cut the roll into five pieces, each of which he intended to divide into a dozen pills. At this stage of the process, some one called the pharmacopoeist's attention to the hatchway. The instant his back was turned, the monkey darted on the top of the medicine-chest, snapped up all the five masses of pill stuff, stowed them hastily away in his pouch, or bag, at the side of his mouth, scampered on deck, and leaped into the main rigging, preparatory to a leisurely feast upon his pilfered treasures.

The doctor's first feeling was that of anger at the abstraction of his medicines; but in the next instant, recollecting that unless immediate steps were taken, the poor animal must inevitably be poisoned, he rushed on deck, without coat or hat, and knife in hand, to the great surprise and scandal of the officer of the watch.

"Lay hold of the monkey, some of you!" roared the doctor to the people. "Jump up in the rigging, and try to get out of his pouch a whole mess of my stuff he has run off with!"

The men only laughed, as they fancied the doctor must be cracked.

"For any sake," cried the good-natured physician, "don't make a joke of this matter. The monkey has now in his jaws more than a hundred grains of calomel, and unless you get it from him, he will die to a certainty!"

Literally, the quantity Jacko had purloined, had it been prescribed, would have been ordered in these terms:—

Rx Hydrargyri submuriatis, 3ij. (Take of calomel 120 grains!)

This appeal, which was quite intelligible, caused an immediate rush of the men aloft; but the monkey, after gulping down one of the lumps, or twenty-four grains, shot upwards to the top, over the rail of which he displayed his shaven countenance, and, as if in scorn of their impotent efforts to catch him, plucked another lump from his cheek, and swallowed it likewise, making four dozen grains to begin with. The news spread over the ship; and all hands, marines inclusive, most of whom had never been farther in the rigging than was necessary to hang up a wet shirt to dry, were seen struggling aloft to rescue the poor monkey from his sad fate. All their exertions were fruitless; for just as the captain of the maintop seized him by the tail, at the starboard royal yard-arm, he was cramming the last batch of calomel down his throat!

It would give needless pain to describe the effects of swallowing the whole of this enormous prescription. Every art was resorted to within our reach in the shape of antidotes, but all in vain. The stomach-pump was then, unfortunately, not invented. Poor Jacko's sufferings, of course, were great: first, he lost the use of his limbs, then he became blind, next paralytic; and, in short, he presented, at the end of the week, such a dreadful spectacle of pain, distortion, and rigidity of limb, that I felt absolutely obliged to desire that he might be released from his misery, by being thrown into the sea. This was accordingly done when the ship was going along, for the British Channel, at the rate of seven or eight knots, with a fine fair wind. Very shortly afterwards it fell calm, and next day the wind drew round to the eastward. It continued at that point till we were blown fifty leagues back, and kept at sea so much longer than we had reckoned upon, that we were obliged to reduce our daily allowance of provisions and water to a most painfully small quantity. The sailors unanimously ascribed the whole of our bad luck to the circumstance of the monkey being thrown overboard.

I had all my nautical life been well aware that a cat ought never to be so treated; but never knew, till the fate of this poor animal acquainted me with the fact, that a monkey is included in Jack's superstition.

In the same vessel, and on the same voyage to China, the sailors had another pet, of a very singular description; viz. a pig—literally a grunter: nor do I believe there ever was a favourite more deeply cherished, or more sincerely lamented after her singular exit. On our sailing from England, six little sows, of a peculiarly fine breed, had been laid in by my steward. In the course of the voyage, five of these fell under the relentless hands of the butcher; but one of the six, being possessed of a more graceful form than belonged to her sister swine, and kept as clean as any lap-dog, was permitted to run about the decks, amongst the goats, sheep, dogs, and monkeys of our little ark. The occurrence of two or three smart gales of wind off the Cape of Good Hope, and the unceremonious entrance of sundry large seas, swept the decks of most of our live stock, excepting only this one pig, known amongst the crew by the pet name of Jean. During the bad weather off the Bank of Aguilhas, her sowship was stowed in the launch on the booms, and never seen, though often enough heard; but when we hauled up to the northward, and once more entered the trade-winds, on our course to the Straits of Sunda, by which entrance we proposed to gain the Java Sea, Miss Jean was again allowed to range about the decks at large, and right happy she seemed, poor lady, to exchange the odious confinement of the longboat for the freedom of the open waist.

In warm latitudes, the men, as I have mentioned before, generally take their meals on deck, and it was Jean's grand amusement, as well as business, to cruise along amongst the messes, poking her snout into every bread-bag, and very often she scalded her tongue in the soup-kids. Occasionally, the sailors, to show the extent of their regard, amused themselves by pouring a drop of grog down her throat. I never saw her fairly drunk, however, but twice; upon which occasions, as was to be expected, she acted pretty much like a human being in the same hoggish predicament. Whether it was owing to this high feeding, or to the constant scrubbing which her hide received from sand, brushes, and holystones, I know not, but she certainly grew and flourished at a most astonishing rate, and every day waxed more and more impudent and importunate at the dinner-hour. I saw a good deal of this familiarity going on, but had no idea of the estimation Jean was held in, till one day, when we were about half-way across the China Sea, and all our stock of sheep, fowls, and ducks, was expended, I said to the steward, "You had better kill the pig, which, if properly managed, will last till we reach Macao."

The servant stood for some time fumbling with his hair, and shuffling with his feet, muttering something to himself.

"Don't you hear?" I asked. "Kill the pig; and let us have the fry to-day; the head with plenty of port wine, as mock-turtle soup, to-morrow; and get one of the legs roasted for dinner on Saturday."

Off he went; but in half-an-hour returned, on some pretence or other, when he took occasion to ask,—

"Did you say Jean was to be killed, sir?"

"Jean! Who is Jean?—Oh, now I remember; the pig. Yes, certainly. Why do you bother and boggle so about killing a pig?"

"The ship's company, sir—"

"Well; what have the ship's company to say to my pig?"

"They are very fond of Jean, sir."

"The devil they are! Well; what then?"

"Why, sir, they would take it as a great kindness if you would not order her to be killed. She is a great pet, sir, and comes to them when they call her by name, like a dog. They have taught her not to venture abaft the mainmast; but if you only call her, you'll see that what I say is true."

"Indeed! I'll soon try that experiment;" and seized my hat to go on deck.

"Shall I tell the butcher to hold fast?" asked Capewell.

"Of course!" I exclaimed. "Of course!"

Off shot the steward like an arrow; and I could soon distinguish the effect of the announcement, by the intermission of those horrible screams which ever attend the execution of the pig tribe, all which sounds were instantly terminated on the seizings being cut that tied poor Jean's legs.

On reaching the quarter-deck, I told what had passed to the officer of the watch, who questioned its propriety a little, I thought, by the tone of his answer. I, however, called out "Jean! Jean!" and in a moment the delighted pig came prancing along. So great, in fact, was her anxiety to answer the call, as if to show her sense of the trifling favour I had just conferred upon her, that she dashed towards us, tripped up the officer's heels, and had I not caught him, he would have come souse on the deck. Even as it was, he indulged in a growl, and muttered out,—

"You see, sir, what your yielding to such whims brings upon us."

I said nothing, and only took care in future to caution my friends to mind their footing when Jean was summoned aft, which, I allow, was very often; for there was no resisting the exhibition to all strangers of such a patent pet as this. To the Chinese in particular our comical favourite became an object of the highest admiration, for the natives of the celestial empire soon recognized in this happiest of swine the celebrated breed of their own country. Many a broad hint I got as to the acceptable nature of such a present, but I was deaf to them all; for I felt that Jean now belonged more to the ship's company than to myself, and that there was a sort of obligation upon me neither to eat her nor to give her away.

Under this tacit guarantee she gained so rapidly in size, fat, and other accomplishments, that, on our return to China, after visiting Loo Choo and other islands of the Japan Sea, the gentlemen of the factory would hardly credit me that this huge monster was the same animal. In talking of Jean's accomplishments, I must not be understood to describe her as a learned pig; for she could neither play cards, solve quadratic equations, nor perform any of those feats which enchant and astonish the eyes of the citizens of London and elsewhere, where many dogs and hogs are devoutly believed to be vested with a degree of intelligence rather above than below the average range of human intellect. Far from this, honest Jean could do little or nothing more than eat, drink, sleep, and grunt; in which respects she was totally unrivalled, and the effect of her proficiency in these characteristic qualities became daily more manifest. At first, as I have mentioned, when her name was called from any part of the ship, she would caper along, and dash impetuously up to the group by whom she was summoned. But after a time she became so excessively fat and lazy that it required many a call to get her to move, and the offer of a slice of pine-apple, or a handful of lychees, or even the delicious mangosteen, was now hardly enough to make her open her eyes, though in the early stages of the voyage she had been but too thankful for a potato, or the skin of an apple. As she advanced in fatness, she lost altogether the power of walking, and expected the men to bring the good things of their table to her, instead of allowing her to come for them.

At the time of Sir Murray Maxwell's attack on the batteries of Canton, the Lyra, under my command, was lying at Macao, and during our stay the brig was visited by many of the Chinese authorities. We were also watched by a fleet of men-of-war junks, and had some reason to suppose that we might have a brush with them. In that event, I think our worst chance would have consisted in the enthusiasm with which the Chinese admiral, captains, and crews, would have fought to have put themselves in possession of such a prize as Jean.

While things were in this interesting position, I received orders to get under weigh, and run up the Canton river to Wampoa. Off we set, escorted by the Chinese fleet of a dozen sail of junks. The wind was against us, but we soon beat up to the Bogue, and passed, unharmed, the batteries, which, to use Lord Nelson's expression, Captain Maxwell had made to look very like a plum-pudding. We had scarcely anchored at Second Bar, in the midst of the grand fleet of tea ships, when we were boarded by a host of Chinese mandarins and Hong merchants, wearing all the variety of buttons by which ranks are distinguished in that well-classified land. This was not to compliment us, or to offer us assistance, or even to inquire our business. One single object seemed to engage all their thoughts and animate the curiosity of half the province of Quantung. The fame of our fat sow Jean, in short, had far outrun the speed of the Lyra, and nothing was heard on every hand but the wondering exclamations of the natives, screaming out in admiration, "High-yaw! High-yaw!"

We had enough to do to clear the ship at night of these our visitors, but we were by no means left in solitude; for the Lyra's anchorage was completely crowded with native boats. The motive of all this attention on the part of the Chinese was not merely pure admiration of Jean; the fact is, the acute Chinese, skilled especially in hog's flesh, saw very well that our pet pig was not long for this world, and knowing that if she died a natural death, we should no more think of eating her than one of our own crew; and having guessed also that we had no intention of "killing her to save her life," they very reasonably inferred that ere long this glorious bonne bouche would be at their disposal.

Our men, who soon got wind of this design on the part of the Chinese, became quite outrageous against Fukee, as the natives are called, and would hardly permit any visitors to come near their favourite, lest they should accelerate her inevitable fate by poison. At length poor dear Jean gave token of approaching dissolution; she could neither eat, nor drink, nor even grunt; and her breathing was like that of a broken bellows: in short, she died! Every art was taken to conceal the melancholy event from the Chinese; but somehow or other it got abroad, for the other English ships were deserted, and long before sunset a dense mass of boats, like a floating town, was formed astern and on both quarters of the Lyra.

The sailors now held a grand consultation as to what was to be done; and after much discussion, and many neat and appropriate speeches, it was unanimously resolved that the mortal remains of the great sow now no more should be deposited in the mud of the river of Canton, in such a way that the most dexterous and hungry inhabitant of the celestial empire should not be able to fish her up again.

As soon as it was quite dark, and all the Chinese boats sent, as usual, beyond the circle limited by the ship's buoys, the defunct pig's friends set to work to prepare for her obsequies. The chief object was to guard against the ravenous natives hearing the splash, as she went overboard; and next, that she should not afterwards float to the surface. The first point was easily accomplished, as will be seen presently; but there was a long debate, in whispers, amongst the men, as to the most expedient plan of keeping the body of their late pet from once more showing her snout above the stream. At length, it was suggested by the coxswain of one of the boats which had been sent during the morning to sound the passage, that as the bed of the river where the brig lay consisted of a deep layer of mud, it would be a good thing if Jean's remains could be driven so far into this soft stratum as to lie below the drags and hooks of the Chinese.

This advice was much applauded, and at once acted upon with that happy facility of resource which it is the pride of the profession to have always in store for small as well as for great occasions. The dead sow was first laid on its back, and then two masses of iron ballast, being placed one on each side of the cheek, were lashed securely to the neck and shoulders in such a manner that the ends of the kentlage met across her nose, and formed, as it was very properly called, an extra snout for piercing the mud.

When all was ready, the midship carronade was silently dismounted, the slide unbolted, and the whole removed out of the way. Jean's enormous corporation being then elevated, by means of capstan bars and handspikes, was brought on a level with the port-sill. A slip-rope was next passed between her hind legs, which had been tied together at the feet; and poor Miss Piggy, being gradually pushed over the ship's side, was lowered slowly into the water. When fairly under the surface, and there were no fears of any splash being caused by letting her go, one end of the rope was cast off, upon which the well-loaded carcass shot down perpendicularly at such a rate that there could be no question of its being immersed a fathom deep, at least, in the mud, and, of course, far beyond the reach of the disappointed Chinese!

Printer's Flower

CHAPTER XIV.

DOUBLING THE CAPE.

As our merry little ship approached the far-famed Cape of Good Hope, I often remained on deck after the watch was out, feasting my eyes on the sight of constellations known to me before only by name, and as yet scarcely anchored in my imagination. Each succeeding night, as the various clusters rose, crossed the meridian, and sunk again into the western waves, we came more and more into the way, not only of speaking, but thinking of them, under their conventional titles of hydras, doves, toucans, phoenixes, and flying-fish, not forgetting the enormous southern whale, whose beautiful eye, called Fomalhaut, while it flames in the zenith of the Cape, is hardly known to the astronomers of this country, from its greatest altitude, as seen by them, not being ten degrees.

But of all the Antarctic constellations, the celebrated Southern Cross is by far the most remarkable, and must, in every age, continue to arrest the attention of all voyagers and travellers who are fortunate enough to see it. I think it would strike the imagination even of a person who had never heard of the Christian religion; but of this it is difficult to judge, seeing how inextricably our own ideas are mingled up with associations linking this sacred symbol with almost every thought, word, and deed of our lives. The three great stars which form the Cross, one at the top, one at the left arm, and one, which is the chief star, called Alpha, at the foot, are so placed as to suggest the idea of a crucifix, even without the help of a small star, which completes the horizontal beam. When on the meridian, it stands nearly upright; and as it sets, we observe it lean over to the westward. I am not sure whether, upon the whole, this is not more striking than its gradually becoming more and more erect as it rises from the east. In every position, however, it is beautiful to look at, and well calculated, with a little prompting from the fancy, to stir up our thoughts to solemn purpose. I know not how others are affected by such things; but, for myself, I can say with truth, that, during the many nights I have watched the Southern Cross, I remember no two occasions when the spectacle interested me exactly in the same way, nor any one upon which I did not discover the result to be somewhat different, and always more impressive, than what I had looked for.

This constellation being about thirty degrees from the south pole, is seen in its whole revolution, and, accordingly, when off the Cape, I have observed it in every stage, from its triumphant erect position, between sixty and seventy degrees above the horizon, to that of complete inversion, with the top beneath, and almost touching the water. This position, by the way, always reminded me of the death of St. Peter, who is said to have deemed it too great an honour to be crucified with his head upwards. In short, I defy the stupidest mortal that ever lived to watch these changes in the aspect of this splendid constellation, and not to be in some degree struck by them.

These airy visions are sometimes curiously broken in upon by the most common-place incidents, which force us back upon ordinary life. On the 28th of May we overtook a packet on her way to the Brazils from England, which had sailed more than a month after us, but she had not a single newspaper, army list, navy list, or review on board. The mate was totally ignorant of all the interesting topics of that most interesting moment of the war (1812); and in reply to all our questions, merely observed that everything was just the same as when we left England. The captain was ill in bed, and could not be spoken to, so that this intelligent gentleman, his chief officer, had been lugged on deck to tell the news. He honestly confessed, after being sufficiently baited and badgered by our interrogatories, that even when in England he had no time to look at the newspapers, but that he left public affairs to the management of those whose business it was to look after them, while he found enough to do in looking after the packet.

"I dare say," added the fellow, with rather more dryness of humour than we had imagined was in his doughy composition, "I dare say the whole story you are asking about, of Buonaparte and the Russians, is told very exactly in these bags (pointing to the mail), and if I deliver them safe at Rio, it will be wrong to say I bring no news."

On the 4th of June we had a jollification in honour of good old King George the Third's birthday. In how many different parts of the world, and with what deep and affectionate sincerity, were cups quaffed and cheers rung out in the same loyal cause! If sailors would tell the truth, we should find that when abroad and far away, they generally use their distant friends as the captain, mentioned some time ago, did his ship's company's European clothing—stow them away for a future occasion. I do not say that they forget or neglect their friends; they merely put them by in safety for a time. In fact, as the song says, a sailor's heart and soul have plenty to do "in every port," to keep fully up to the companionships which are present, without moping and moaning over the remembrance of friends at a distance, who, in like manner no doubt, unship us also, more or less, from their thoughts, if not from their memory, for the time being; and it is all right and proper that it should be so.

On the 5th of June we parted from our convoy, the China ships; and, alas! many a good dinner we lost by that separation. Our course lay more to the left, or eastward, as we wished to look in at the Cape of Good Hope, while those great towering castles, the tea ships, could not afford time for play, but struck right down to the southward, in search of the westerly winds which were to sweep them half round the globe, and enable them to fetch the entrance of the China seas in time to save the monsoon to Canton. Each ship sent a boat to us with letters for England, to be forwarded from the Cape. This was probably their last chance for writing home; so that, after the accounts contained in these dispatches reached England, their friends would hear nothing of them till they presented themselves eighteen months afterwards. Neither did they expect to know what was passing at home till they should touch at St. Helena, on the return voyage, in the latter end of the following year.

I remember looking over the lee-gangway next day, at the first blush of the dawn, during the morning watch, and I could barely distinguish the fleet far to leeward, with their royals just showing above the horizon. On taking leave of our convoy, we were reminded that there is always something about the last, the very last look of any object, which brings with it a feeling of melancholy. On this occasion, however, we had nothing more serious to reproach ourselves with than sundry impatient execrations with which we had honoured some of our slow-moving, heavy-sterned friends, when we were compelled to shorten sail in a fair wind, in order to keep them company. A smart frigate making a voyage with a dull-sailing convoy reminds one of the child's story of the provoking journey made by the hare with a drove of oxen.

Our merry attendants, the flying-fish, and others which swarmed about us in the torrid zone, refused to see us across the tropic, and the only aquatics we fell in with afterwards were clumsy whales and grampuses, and occasionally a shoal of white porpoises. Of birds there were plenty, especially albatrosses. The captain, being a good shot with a ball, brought down one of these, which measured seven feet between the tips of the wings. I have several times seen them twelve feet; and I heard a well-authenticated account of one measuring sixteen feet from tip to tip. On the 22nd of June we came in sight of the high land on the northern part of the peninsula of the Cape of Good Hope, the far-famed Table Mountain, which looked its character very well, and really did not disappoint us, though, in general, its height, like that of most high lands, is most outrageously exaggerated in pictures. The wind failed us during the day, and left us rolling about till the evening, when the breeze came too late to be of much use. Next day we rounded the pitch of the Cape, but it blew so strong from the northward, right out of False Bay, accompanied by rain and a high sea, that we found it no easy job to hold our own, much less to gain the anchorage. But on the 24th of June, the day after, the wind moderated and became fair, the weather cleared up, and we sailed almost into Simon's Bay, a snug little nook at the north-western angle of False Bay. It then fell calm, but the boats of the men-of-war at anchor, his Majesty's ships Lion, Nisus, and Galatea, soon towed us into our berth. During the winter of that hemisphere, which corresponds to our northern summer, the only safe quarters for ships is in Simon's Bay, on the south side of the Cape peninsula.

I have a perfect recollection of the feelings with which I leaped out of the boat, and first set foot on the continent of Africa, but am prevented from describing these poetical emotions by the remembrance, equally distinct, of the more engrossing anxiety which both my companion and myself experienced about our linen, then on its way to the laundress in two goodly bundles. For the life of me, I cannot separate the grand ideas suitable to the occasion, from the base interests connected with cotton shirts and duck trousers. And such is the tormenting effect of association, that when I wish to dwell upon the strange feelings, partly professional and partly historical, caused by actually gazing on the identical Cape of Good Hope, a spot completely hammered into the memory of all sailors, straightway I remember the bitter battling with the washer-folks of Simon's Town touching the rate of bleaching shirts: and both the sublime and the beautiful are lost in the useful and ridiculous.

The 3rd of July was named for sailing; but the wind, which first came foul, soon lulled into a calm, then breezed up again; and so on alternately, baffling us in all our attempts to get to sea. Nor was it till the 5th that we succeeded in forcing our way out against a smart south-easter, with a couple of reefs in the topsails, and as much as we could do to carry the mainsail. A westerly current sweeps at all seasons of the year round the Cape of Good Hope, and sometimes proves troublesome enough to outward-bound ships. This stream is evidently caused by the trade-wind in the southern parts of the Indian ocean. For three days we were bamboozled with light south-easterly airs and calms, but on the 8th of July, which is the depth of winter in that hemisphere, there came on a spanking snuffler from the north-west, before which we spun two hundred and forty miles, clean off the reel, in twenty-four hours.

Nothing is more delightful than the commencement of such a fair wind. The sea is then smooth, and the ship seems literally to fly along; the masts and yards bend forwards, as if they would drop over the bows, while the studding-sail booms crack and twist, and, unless great care be taken, sometimes break across; but still, so long as the surface of the sea is plane it is astonishing what a vast expanse of canvas may be spread to the rising gale. By-and-bye, however, it becomes prudent to take in the royals, flying-jib, and top-gallant studding-sails. The boatswain takes a look at the gripes and other fastenings of the boats and booms; the carpenter instinctively examines the port-lashings, and draws up the pump-boxes to look at the leathers; while the gunner sees that all the breechings and tackles of the guns are well secured before the ship begins to roll. The different minor heads of departments, also, to use their own phrase, smell the gale coming on, and each in his respective walk gets things ready to meet it. The captain's and gun-room steward beg the carpenter's mate to drive down a few more cleats and staples, and, having got a cod-line or two from the boatswain's yeoman, or a hank of marline stuff, they commence double lashing all the tables and chairs. The marines' muskets are more securely packed in the arm-chest. The rolling tackles are got ready for the lower yards, and the master, accompanied by the gunner's mate, inspects the lanyards of the lower rigging. All these, and twenty other precautions are taken in a manner so slow and deliberate that they would hardly catch the observation of a passenger. It might also seem as if the different parties were afraid to let out the secret of their own lurking apprehension, but yet were resolved not to be caught unprepared.

Of these forerunners of a gale none is more striking than the repeated looks of anxiety which the captain casts to windward, as if his glance could penetrate the black sky lowering in the north-west, in order to discover what was behind, and how long with safety he might carry sail. Ever and anon he shifts his look from the wind's eye, and rests it on the writhing spars aloft, viewing with much uneasiness the stretching canvas all but torn from the yards. He then steps below, and for the fortieth time reads off the barometer. On returning to the deck he finds that, during the few minutes he has been below, the breeze has freshened considerably, or, it may be, that, coming suddenly upon it again, he views it differently. At all events, he feels the necessity of getting the sails in while he yet can, or before "God Almighty takes them in for him," as the sailors say when matters have been so long deferred, that not only canvas and yards, but even masts, are at times suddenly wrenched out of the ship, and sent in one confused mass far off to leeward, whirling in the gale!

The men, who are generally well aware of the necessity of shortening sail long before the captain has made up his mind to call the hands for that purpose, have probably been collected in groups for some time in different parts of the upper deck, talking low to one another, and looking aloft with a start, every now and then, as the masts or yards give an extra crack.

"Well! this is packing on her," says one, laying an emphasis on the word "is."

"Yes!" replies another; "and if our skipper don't mind, it will be packing off her presently," with an emphasis on the word "off." "Right well do I know these Cape gales," adds an ancient mariner of the South Seas; "they snuffle up in a minute; and, I'll answer for it, the captain will not carry sail so long off Cape Aguilhas, when he has gone round that breezy point as often as old Bill has."

At this moment the tardy voice of the commander, long unwilling to lose any part of the fair wind, is at length heard, giving the reluctant order, "Turn the hands up, shorten sail!" The ready clatter of feet, and the show of many heads at all the hatchways, and perhaps the sound of a suppressed laugh amongst the men who have been gossiping and wagering about the gale, give sufficient indication that this evolution has been expected for some time.

"All hands shorten sail!" calls out the boatswain, after a louder and sharper note than usual from his pipe, winded not half the ordinary length of time, though twice as shrilly; for his object is to mark on the ears of the people the necessity of unusual expedition and exertion. A clever and experienced person filling this important situation will soon teach the men to distinguish between the various notes of his call, though to unpractised ears the sounds might appear unvaried.

"Shorten sail! that's easier said than done," growls forth some hard-up old cock.

"No! not a bit easier said than done," unexpectedly observes the captain, but quite good-humouredly, having accidentally heard the seaman's remark. "Not a bit, old fellow, if you and the young hands only work as smartly and cheerfully as I know you can do when you have a mind. Come, my lads, are you all ready forward?"

It is a trying moment both for the sails and yards, when the order is actually given to commence shortening sail; if the pressure from the wind be considerable, it is necessary to have men stationed to lower away the haulyards and ease off the tacks at the proper moment, while others gather in the sails as they come down, fluttering a little perhaps, if not carefully managed, but still quietly and easily, as well as quickly. When, however, the wind has risen to a pitch beyond its due proportion to the canvas spread, and the captain's anxiety to make the most of a fair wind has tempted him to carry on too long, the case becomes very difficult, the ropes which keep the sails in their places contributing also an important share to the support of those spars to which the sails are bent, or to which they may be hauled out. Consequently, the moment the ropes alluded to, which are technically named the haulyards and tacks, are slackened, the yards and booms, being suddenly deprived of these material supports, are very apt to be sprung, that is, cracked across, or even carried away, which means being snapped right in two as short as a carrot, to use Jack's very appropriate simile.

It is quite true, that lowering away the sail and easing off the tack of a studding-sail does diminish the pressure of the sail on the spar, and, of course, both the yard and the boom have less duty to perform. Still, the moment which succeeds the order to "Lower away!" is especially trying to the nerves of the officer who is carrying on the duty. I have not unfrequently seen comparatively young officers handle the sails and yards of a ship with perfect ease, from their superior mechanical knowledge, at times when the oldest sailors on board were puzzled how to get things right. One officer, for instance, may direct the preparations for shortening sail to be made according to the most orthodox rules laid down in Hamilton Moor's "Examination of a Young Sea Officer," and yet when he comes to give the fatal word, "Lower away! haul down!" everything shall go wrong. The tack being eased off too soon, the spar breaks in the middle, and the poor topmast studding-sail is spitted like a lark on the broken stump of the boom, while the lower studding-sail, driven furiously forward by the squall, is pierced by the spritsail yard-arm, the cat-head, and the bumpkin; or it may be wrapped round the bowsprit, like so much wet drapery in the inimitable Chantrey's studio over the clay figure of an Indian bishop.

"What the blue blazes shall I do next?" moans the poor puzzled officer of the watch, who sees this confusion caused entirely by his own bad management. On such an occasion, a kind and considerate captain will perhaps fairly walk below, and so leave the mortified youth to get himself out of the scrape as he best can, and rather lose a small spar, or a bolt of canvas, than expose his officer to the humiliation of having the task transferred to another; or he will edge himself near the embarrassed officer, and, without the action being detected by any one else, whisper a few magical words of instruction in the young man's ear, by which the proper train of directions are set agoing, and the whole confusion of ropes, sails, and yards, speedily brought into order. If this fails, the hands are called, upon which the captain himself, or more generally the first lieutenant, takes the trumpet; and the men, hearing the well-known, confident voice of skill, fly to the proper points, "monkey paw" the split sails, clear the ropes, which an instant before seemed inextricably foul, and in a very few minutes reduce the whole disaster to the dimensions of a common occurrence. "Now, you may call the watch," says the captain; and the reproved officer again takes charge of the deck. I need hardly say, that any young man of spirit ought rather to wear his hands to the bone in learning his duty, than to expose himself to such mortification as this.

Let us, however, suppose all the extra sails taken in without accident, and rolled up with as much haste as may be consistent with that good order which ought never to be relaxed under any degree of urgency. In fine weather, it is usual to place the studding-sails in the rigging, with all their gear bent, in readiness to be whipped up to the yard-arm at a moment's warning; but when a breeze such as we are now considering is on the rise, it is thought best to unbend the tacks and haulyards, and to stow the sails in some convenient place, either on the booms, between the boats, or in the hammock-nettings. For the same reason, the small sails are sent on deck, together with as much top hamper as can readily be moved. These things are scarcely bundled up and lifted out of the way before the long-expected order to reef topsails is smartly given out, and crowds of men are seen skipping up the tight weather-rigging, with a merry kind of alacrity, which always makes a captain feel grateful to the fellows—I do not well know why; for, as there is then no real danger, there seems nothing particularly praiseworthy in this common-place exertion. Perhaps the consciousness that a storm is coming on, during which every nerve on board may be strained, makes the captain see with pleasure a show of activity which, under other circumstances, may be turned to trials of the utmost hardihood and daring.

Be this as it may, the yards come sliding down the well-greased masts; the men lie out to the right and left, grasp the tumultuous canvas, drag out the earings, and tie the points, with as perfect deliberation as if it were a calm, only taking double pains to see that all is right and tight, and the reef-band straight along the yard. The order has been given to take in the second and third reefs only; but the men linger at their posts, expecting the further work which they know is necessary. The captain of the top, instead of moving in, continues to sit astride the spar, dangling his legs under the weather yard-arm with the end of the close reef-earing in his hand, quite as much at his ease as any well-washed sea-bird that ever screamed defiance to a pitiless south-wester.

Johnny's anticipations prove right, for the anxious commander, after gazing twice or thrice to windward, again consulting his barometer, looking six or eight times at his watch in as many minutes, to learn how many hours of daylight are yet above the horizon, and perhaps also stealing a professional opinion from his first lieutenant, an officer probably of much more technical experience than himself, decides upon close-reefing. If he be a man of sense, and wishes the work to be done quickly and well, he must not now hesitate about starting the topsail sheets, and it will certainly be all the better if one or both the clew-lines be likewise hauled close up.

The mainsail is now to be taken in; and as the method of performing this evolution has long been a subject of hot controversy at sea, I take the opportunity of saying, that Falconer's couplet,—

"For he who strives the tempest to disarm
Will never first embrail the lee yard-arm,"

has, in my opinion, done a world of mischief, and split many thousands of sails.

I, at least, plead guilty to having been sadly misled by this authority for many years, since it was only in the last ship I commanded that I learned the true way to take in the mainsail when it blows hard. The best practice certainly is, to man both buntlines and the lee leechline well, and then to haul the LEE clew-garnet close up, before starting the tack or slacking the bowline. By attending to these directions, the spar is not only instantaneously relieved, but the leeward half of the sail walks sweetly and quietly up to the yard, without giving a single flap. After which the weather-clew comes up almost of itself, and without risk or trouble.

Meanwhile the ship is spinning along very nearly at the same rate as at first, though two-thirds of the canvas have been taken off her. These variations in speed are odd enough, and, at times, not easily accounted for. When the breeze first comes on, all sail set, and the water quite smooth, the ship can be steered on a straight course without any difficulty, and she really seems to fly. When the log is hove, it is discovered, we shall suppose, that she is going eleven knots. Well, the wind increases, and in come the studding-sails; but as the water is still smooth, the single-reefed topsails and top-gallant-sails may be carried, though it is evident the ship is rather over-pressed, or, at all events, not another stitch of sail could be set.

"Heave the log again, and see what she goes now!" says the officer. "How much?"

"Eleven knots and a-half, sir," replies the middy of the watch.

Presently the sea rises, the masts bend, the ship begins to stagger along, groaning and creaking in every joint, under the severe pressure. The topsails are close-reefed to meet the increased wind; but still, as before, she is under quite as much canvas as she can possibly bear.

"Heave the log now!" again says the officer. "Ten knots!" reports the middy.

By-and-bye the courses are reefed, and before dark the mainsail is rolled up, the fore and mizen topsails handed, and the top-gallant yards sent on deck. The sea has now risen to a disagreeable height, and the steering, in spite of every care, becomes wilder and much more difficult; and as the ship forges into the breast of the waves, or rises with a surge not much less startling, her way seems deadened for the moment, till she bounds up again on the top of the sea, to woo, as it were, the embraces of the rattling gale. The storm is not slow to meet this rude invitation; while, if the ropes, sails, and masts, be all wet, as they generally are in such a breeze, it is difficult to conceive any tones more gruff and unsentimental than the sounds of this boisterous courtship.

In line-of-battle ships, and even in frigates, the close-reefed main-topsail and foresail may be carried, for a very long time, when going nearly before the wind; and indeed it is the best seamanship to crack on her; for when the gale rises to its highest pitch, and the seas follow in great height, they are apt to curl fairly on board, and play fine pranks along the decks, even if the violence of the blow on the quarter do not broach the ship to, that is, twist her head round towards the wind in such a way that the next sea shall break over her gangway, and in all probability sweep away the masts. In small vessels it becomes a most anxious period of the gale when the sea has got up so much that it is difficult to steer steadily, and when the wind blows so strong that enough sail cannot be carried to keep the ship sufficiently ahead of the waves, except at the risk of tearing the masts away. When the requisite degree of speed cannot be secured, the inevitable consequence, sooner or later, is, that a monstrous pea-green solid sea walks most unceremoniously on board, over the taffrail, and dashes along the decks like those huge debacles, of which some geologists so confidently point out the traces on the earth's surface.

I never happened actually to witness a catastrophe of this kind on the great scale, though I have seen one or two smartish gales in my time. Indeed the most serious evils I recollect to have been present at occurred on board the Volage, on the very passage to India which I am now describing. The following are the words in which these incidents are noticed in my journal:—

"On the 13th of July, off the Cape of Good Hope, in the midst of a heavy winter's gale, our worthy passenger, Sir Evan Nepean, governor of Bombay, was thrown down the ladder, by the violent rolling of the ship; and another gentleman, the Baron Tuyll, the best-natured and deservedly popular passenger I ever saw afloat, was very nearly washed out of his cot by a sea which broke into the stern windows of the captain's cabin."

I have often enough been close to wars and rumours of wars, but was never in a regular sea-fight; and though I have also witnessed a few shipwrecks and disasters, I never was myself in much danger of what might be honestly called a lee shore; neither is it my good fortune to be able to recount, from personal knowledge, any scenes of hardship or suffering from hunger, cold, or any other misery. My whole professional life, in short, has been one of such comparative ease and security, that I cannot now remember ever going far beyond twenty-four hours without a good bellyful. Still I have often been forced to take a high degree of interest in formidable adventures of this kind, from their happening in fleets of which my own ship formed a part, or from these incidents including among the sufferers persons to whom I was attached.

In the year 1815, I accompanied a convoy of homeward-bound Indiamen from Ceylon, and a right merry part of the voyage it was while we ran down a couple of thousand miles of the south-east trade-wind; for these hospitable floating nabobs, the East India captains, seldom let a day pass without feasting one another; and we, their naval protectors, came in for no small share of the good things, for which we could make but a poor return. Along with our fleet, there sailed from Ceylon a large ship, hired as a transport by Government to bring home invalid soldiers. There were about 500 souls in her; of these a hundred were women, and more than a hundred children. I was accidentally led to take a particular interest in this ill-fated vessel, from the circumstance of there being four fine boys on board, sons of a military friend of mine at Point de Galle. I had become so well acquainted with the parents of these poor little fellows during my frequent visits to Ceylon, that one day, before sailing, I playfully offered to take a couple of the boys in my brig, the Victor, an eighteen-gun sloop of war; but as I could not accommodate the whole family, the parents, who were obliged to remain abroad, felt unwilling to separate the children, alas! and my offer was declined.

Off we all sailed, and reached the neighbourhood of the Cape without encountering anything in the way of an adventure; there, however, commenced the disasters of the unfortunate Arniston, as this transport was called. She had no chronometer on board; a most culpable and preposterous omission in the outfit of a ship destined for such a voyage. The master told me that he himself was not in circumstances to purchase so expensive an instrument, the cost of a good chronometer being at least fifty or sixty guineas, and that the owners considered the expense needless. He also stated that on his remonstrating still more, and urging upon these gentlemen that their property would be ten times more secure if he were furnished with the most approved means of taking good care of it, he was given to understand, that, if he did not choose to take the ship to sea without a chronometer, another captain could easily be found who would make no such new-fangled scruples. The poor master shrugged his shoulders, and said he would do his best; but having often rounded the Cape, he knew the difficulties of the navigation, when there was nothing but the dead reckoning to trust to.

During our passage from Ceylon, it was the practice every day, at one o'clock, for the Indiamen, as well as the men-of-war, to make signals showing the longitude of each ship by chronometer. Thus we had all an opportunity of comparing the going of our respective time-keepers, and thus, too, the master of the Arniston was enabled to learn his place so accurately, that if he had only kept company with his friends the Indiamen, each of whom was provided with at least four or five chronometers, the deficiency in his equipment might never have led to the dreadful catastrophe which speedily followed the loss of this assistance.

It was late in the month of May when we reached the tempestuous regions of the Cape; and we were not long there before a furious gale of wind from the westward dispersed the fleet, and set every one adrift upon his own resources. The poor Arniston was seen at sunset, on the day the gale commenced, with most of her sails split, but not otherwise in danger, for she had a good offing, and the wind was not blowing on shore. Three heavy gales followed in such quick succession during the next week, that not only the ordinary course, but the velocity of the current was changed, and instead of running, as it almost always does, to the westward, it set, on the days in question, to the south-eastward. According to the most moderate allowance for the current, all circumstances being taken into consideration, any navigator might fairly have supposed that, in the five days which elapsed from the 24th of May to the 28th inclusive, his ship would have been drifted to the westward by the current at least a hundred miles. Our chronometers, however, distinctly showed us that we had been carried, not, as usual, to the westward, but actually to the eastward, a distance of more than a hundred miles; so that, in less than a week, there occurred upwards of two hundred miles of error in the dead reckoning.

The master of the Arniston, doubtless, after making every allowance, according to the best authorities, and working by the most exact rules of navigation of which he could avail himself, naturally inferred that his ship was more than a hundred miles to the westward of the Cape, and he probably considered himself justified in bearing up before a south-easterly gale, and steering, as he had so much reason to suppose he was doing, straight for St. Helena.

It is very important to remark, in passing, to professional men, that no ship off the Cape, and under any circumstances, ought ever to bear up, without first heaving the deep sea-lead. If soundings are obtained on the Bank, it is a sure symptom that the ship is not sufficiently advanced to the westward to enable her to steer with safety to the north-north-westward for St. Helena. It is clear the ship in question must have omitted this precaution.

All that is known of this fatal shipwreck is simply that the Arniston, with a flowing sheet, and going nine knots, ran among the breakers in Struy's Bay, nearly a hundred miles to the eastward of the Cape. The masts went instantly by the board, and the sea, which broke completely over all, tore the ship to pieces in a few minutes; and out of her whole crew, passengers, women, and children, only half-a-dozen seamen reached the coast alive. All these could tell was, that they bore up and made all sail for St. Helena, judging themselves well round the Cape. This scanty information, however, was quite enough to establish the important fact that this valuable ship, and all the lives on board of her, were actually sacrificed to a piece of short-sighted economy. That they might have been saved, had she been supplied with the worst chronometer that was ever sent to sea, is also quite obvious. I am sure practical men will agree with me, that, in assuming sixty seconds a-day as the limit of the uncertainty of a watch's rate, I have taken a quantity four or five times greater than there was need for. Surely no time-keeper that was ever sold as such by any respectable watchmaker for more than thirty or forty guineas, has been found to go so outrageously ill as not to be depended upon for one week, within less than ten or fifteen seconds a-day. And as I have shown that a chronometer whose rate was uncertain, even to an extent five or six times as great as this, would have saved the Arniston, any further comment on such precious economy is needless.

Printer's Flower

CHAPTER XV.

SUGGESTIONS TOWARDS DIMINISHING THE NUMBER AND SEVERITY OF NAVAL PUNISHMENTS.

I trust that most of my brother-officers who have commanded ships can lay their hands upon their hearts and conscientiously declare they have never inflicted an unjust punishment. I can only confess with much sorrow, that I, unfortunately, am not of that number. But as mere regret on such occasions contributes nothing towards remedying the evils committed, I have long employed my thoughts in devising some plan which might lessen the number of punishments at sea, and thus, perhaps, save others from the remorse I have felt, while it might tend to relieve the service from the discredit of an improper degree of severity in its penal administration.

Before proceeding to the main point under consideration, the diminution of the number and the degree of punishments on board ship, I must entreat officers not to allow themselves to be misled by the very mischievous fallacy of supposing that any of the various substitutes which have yet been proposed for corporal punishment are one whit less severe than those so long established. It is well known to officers of experience that this powerful engine of discipline may be rendered not only the most effective, but essentially the most lenient, and when duly reported and checked, far more likely to contribute to the peace and comfort of the men themselves, than any of the specious but flimsy substitutes alluded to. Solitary confinement, for example, I take to be one of the most cruel, and, generally speaking, one of the most unjust of all punishments; for it is incapable of being correctly measured, and it almost always renders the offender worse. It prompts him, and gives him time to brood over revengeful purposes; it irritates him against his officers, and if long continued almost inevitably leads to insanity and suicide. All the beneficial effects of example, likewise, are necessarily lost; because the solitary culprit's sufferings, horrible though they no doubt are, never meet the eye of the rest of the crew, nor, indeed, can they ever be truly made known to them, while he himself, when he quits his cell, makes light of his punishment. But not one man in a thousand, even of our hardiest spirits, can maintain this air of indifference at the gangway. And although it must be admitted that a man, at such moments, can feel no great kindness to his officer, the transient nature of the punishment, compared to the prolonged misery of solitary confinement, leaves no time for discontent to rankle. I never once knew, nor ever heard of an instance in which a corporal punishment, administered calmly and with strict regard to justice and established usage, was followed by any permanent ill-will resting on the mind of a sailor, either towards his captain or towards the service.

It happened to me once, when in command of a ship in the Pacific Ocean, to have occasion to punish a very good seaman. The offence was in some degree a doubtful one, but, upon the whole, I felt it my duty to correct it rather sharply. On mature reflection, however, I began to suspect I had done wrong; and on joining the commander-in-chief, some weeks afterwards, I laid all the circumstances of the case before him, and begged him to tell me fairly what he thought. He examined the details minutely, cross-questioned me about them, and, after some deliberation, said, that although I had the letter of the law with me, I had acted hastily, which in this instance was acting unjustly; for had I waited a little, the true bearings of the case must, he thought, have made themselves apparent. This judgment of Sir Thomas Hardy squared but too well with my own feelings upon the matter, and doubled the shame I was already suffering under. From that hour to this, I have never ceased to catch with eagerness at any suggestion which I thought might contribute to save deserving men from a similar misfortune, and well-disposed officers from the fatal errors of precipitancy. A little incident has perhaps had its effect in quickening these speculative ideas into a practical shape.

Several years after the period alluded to, I happened to be sailing about Spithead in a gentleman's yacht, when a man-of-war's cutter came alongside. As no officer had been sent in the boat, the message was delivered by the coxswain, whom I did not recognize as an old shipmate till he came to me aft, took off his hat, and held out his hand. I then recollected the face of the seaman I had unjustly punished! To all appearance he had entirely forgotten the circumstance: but the commodore's words, "You ought to have let that man off," rang in my ears, and my heart smote me as I felt the honest fellow's grasp. "I shall never rest," I afterwards vowed to myself, "till I have succeeded in suggesting some regulations which, as far as possible, shall prevent other officers from falling into the same error."

It seems to be now generally admitted, by all who have attended to the subject, that ever since the period when it became the duty of captains to make periodical reports to the Admiralty of the corporal punishments inflicted, those punishments have gradually decreased. Meanwhile the discipline has gone on improving; and therefore it becomes a matter of much practical importance to investigate the true bearings of a measure by which such invaluable results have been brought about. It should never be forgotten, that there is an absolute necessity for maintaining the present strictness of our discipline, which is one of the most essential sources of naval success; and, next to the spirit of honour and patriotism which pervades the profession, it may be considered the very life-blood of that branch of our national strength. But there are two very different methods by which this vital object of exact discipline may be accomplished: one is the prevention, the other the punishment, of offences. Some officers have endeavoured to do away with corporal punishment altogether; and some, on the other hand, have had recourse to hardly anything else. The just union of the two systems will, I believe, in the end, perform the greatest public service, at the least cost of human suffering.[7]

Antecedent to June 1811, the date of the order by which officers in command of ships were required to send quarterly returns of punishments to the Admiralty, there was little or no restraint upon the despotic authority of the captain, as far as corporal punishments were concerned. And it must be in the recollection of every one who served in those days, that captains, not really cruel by nature, nor more intemperate than the ordinary run of men, were sometimes led, by the mere indulgence of unlimited and unscrutinised authority, to use a degree of severity not only out of proper measure with the crime, but, by reason of its questionable justice, hurtful to the discipline of the ships, and to the general character of the service. Such things may also possibly have happened even of late years; but certainly, they have been much less frequent; for although no Admiralty regulations can convert a hot-headed captain into a cool, experienced, or reflecting person, nevertheless, it does seem to be quite within the legitimate range of official power, to compel all intemperate officers, whether young or old, to behave, as far as their nature will allow, in the same manner as men of sense, feeling, and thorough knowledge of the service would act in like circumstances.

It is a rule, now very generally observed by the best authorities in the Navy, never to punish a man on the day the offence has been committed. And experience having shown the wisdom of this delay, there seems no reason why so simple a rule should not be established imperatively upon every captain without exception.

It is important, in discussing the subject of naval discipline, to recollect under what peculiar and trying circumstances the captain of a man-of-war is placed, and how much he stands in need not only of every assistance that can possibly be afforded to guide his judgment, but of every artificial check that can be devised to control his temper. As he is charged with the sole executive government of the community over which he presides, he is called upon to exercise many of the legislative, as well as the judicial functions of his little kingdom. Having made laws in the first instance, he has to act the part of a judge in the interpretation of those laws; while, in the very next instant, he may stand in the place of a jury to determine the facts of the case, and of a counsel to cross-question the witnesses. To this strange jumble of offices is finally added the fearful task of allotting the punishment, and seeing it carried into effect! If ever there was a situation in the world, therefore, requiring all the aids of deliberation, and especially of that sobriety of thought which a night's rest can alone bestow, it is surely in the case of a captain of a man-of-war. And if this rule has been found a good one, even by prudent and experienced officers, who, it appears, never trust themselves to punish a man without twenty-four hours' delay at least, how much more important might not such a regulation prove, if less discreet persons were compelled to adopt invariably a similar course of deliberation? Nor does it appear probable that, in the whole complicated range of the service, cases will often occur when its true interests may not be better answered by punishments inflicted after such delay, than if the reality or the semblance of passion, or even the slightest suspicion of anger, were allowed to interfere with the purity of naval justice. It is so difficult, indeed, to detach the appearance of vindictive warmth from punishments which are made to follow quickly after the offence, that in all such cases there is great danger incurred of inflicting much pain to little or no purpose.

In the first place, therefore, I consider it might be very advantageously established, by a positive order from the Admiralty, that one whole day, or twenty-four hours complete, should, in every instance, be allowed to elapse between the investigation of an offence, and the infliction of the punishment which it may be thought to deserve. The interval in question, to be of use, should take its date from the time the circumstances of the case have been inquired into by the captain himself. The reason of this limitation will be apparent, if it be recollected that the moment at which the officer's anger is likely to be the greatest, is when he first becomes acquainted with the details of the offender's misconduct.

In order still further to circumscribe the chances of passion interfering with the judgment, not only of the captain, but of the officer who makes the complaint, as well as the witnesses and other parties concerned, I think it should be directed, that all offences whatsoever are to be inquired into between nine o'clock in the morning and noon. This is perhaps the only period in the whole day perfectly free from suspicion as to the influence of those exciting causes which tend materially to warp the judgment, even of the wisest and best men. The ship's company take their dinner and grog at mid-day, and the officers dine soon after. To those who have witnessed in old times the investigation and punishment of offences immediately after the cabin dinner, the importance of this regulation will require no further argument. At any other period of the day, except that above specified, the irritation caused by fatigue, hunger, or repletion, is so apt to interfere with the temper, and consequently with the judgment, that it should never be chosen for so delicate an affair as an inquiry into details which may be followed by so dreadful a consequence as corporal punishment.

It is undoubtedly true, that the essential characteristics of naval discipline are, and ought to be, promptitude of action, and that vigorous kind of decision which leads to certainty of purpose at all times, and under all circumstances. But these very qualities are valueless, unless they are regulated by justice. Without this, a man-of-war would very soon become worse than useless to the country, besides being what a "slack ship" has been emphatically termed, "a perfect hell afloat!"

Independently of every other consideration, it is assuredly most desirable to establish throughout the fleet the conviction, that, although the punishment of flogging, which has prevailed for so long a time, cannot possibly be discontinued, it shall be exercised with a due regard to the offence, and without any added severity on personal grounds. It is difficult to estimate how essentially this conviction, if once fixed in the minds of the seamen, and guaranteed, as I think it might be, in a great measure, by a very simple Admiralty regulation, would contribute to extend the popularity of the naval service throughout the country.

There are some minor details, in addition to the above suggestions, which it may be useful to consider in connection with them. All punishments should take place between the hours of nine in the morning and noon, for the reasons hinted at above. If possible, also, not more than one day should be allowed to elapse after the inquiry; for, although there is always something like passion in a punishment which is too prompt, there may, on the other hand, frequently appear something akin to vindictiveness in one which has been delayed until the details of the offence are well-nigh forgotten. The captain should avoid pronouncing, either during or immediately after the investigation of an offence, any opinion on the case; much of its influence would be destroyed if the captain were to commit himself by threats made in the moment of greatest irritation; he might be apt to follow up, when cool, a threat made in anger, to show his consistency.

I could relate many instances of injustice arising from precipitancy in awarding punishment; but the following anecdotes, for the accuracy of which I can vouch, seem sufficient to arrest the attention to good purpose.

Two men-of-war happened to be cruising in company: one of them a line-of-battle ship, bearing an admiral's flag; the other a small frigate. One day, when they were sailing quite close to each other, the signal was made from the large to the small ship to chase in a particular direction, implying that a strange sail was seen in that quarter. The look-out man at the maintop mast-head of the frigate was instantly called down by the captain, and severely punished on the spot, for not having discovered and reported the stranger before the flag ship had made the signal to chase.

The unhappy sufferer, who was a very young hand, unaccustomed to be aloft, had merely taken his turn at the mast head with the rest of the ship's company, and could give no explanation of his apparent neglect. Before it was too late, however, the officer of the watch ventured to suggest to the captain, that possibly the difference of height between the masts of the two ships might have enabled the look-out man on board the admiral to discover the stranger, when it was physically impossible, owing to the curvature of the earth, that she could have been seen on board the frigate. No attention, however, was paid to this remark, and a punishment due only to crime, or to a manifest breach of discipline, was inflicted.

The very next day, the same officer, whose remonstrance had proved so ineffectual, saw the look-out man at the flag ship's mast-head again pointing out at a strange sail. The frigate chanced to be placed nearly in the direction indicated; consequently she must have been somewhat nearer to the stranger than the line-of-battle ship was. But the man stationed at the frigate's mast-head declared he could distinguish nothing of any stranger. Upon this the officer of the watch sent up the captain of the maintop, an experienced and quick-sighted seaman, who, having for some minutes looked in vain in every direction, asserted positively that there was nothing in sight from that elevation. It was thus rendered certain, or at all events highly probable, that the precipitate sentence of the day before had been unjust; for, under circumstances even less favourable, it appeared that the poor fellow could not by possibility have seen the stranger, for not first detecting which he was punished!

I must give the conclusion of this painful story in the words of my informant, the officer of the deck:—"I reported all this to the captain of the ship, and watched the effect. He seemed on the point of acknowledging that his heart smote him; but pride prevailed, and it was barely an ejaculation that escaped. So much for angry feelings getting the better of judgment!"

The following anecdote will help to relieve the disagreeable impression caused by the incident just related, without obliterating the salutary reflections which it seems calculated to trace on the mind of every well-disposed officer.

Three sailors, belonging to the watering-party of a man-of-war on a foreign station, were discovered by their officer to have strayed from the well at which the casks had been filled. These men, it appears, instead of assisting in rolling the heavy butts and puncheons across the sand, preferred indulging themselves in a glass of a most insidious tipple, called Mistela in Spanish, but very naturally "transmogrified" by the Jacks into Miss Taylor. The offenders being dragged out of the pulperia, were consigned, without inquiry, to the launch, though they had been absent only a few minutes, and were still fit enough for work. The officer of the boat, however, happening to be an iron-hearted disciplinarian, who overlooked nothing, and forgave no one, would not permit the men to rejoin the working party, or to touch a single cask; but when the boat returned to the ship, had the three offenders put in irons.

When these circumstances were reported to the captain in the course of the day, so much acrimony was imparted to his account by the officer, that the captain merely said, "I shall be glad if you will defer stating this matter more fully till to-morrow morning, after breakfast; take the night to think of it." Tomorrow came, and the particulars being again detailed, even more strongly and pointedly, by the officer, the captain likewise became irritated, and under the influence of feelings highly excited had almost ordered the men up for immediate punishment. Acting, however, upon a rule which he had for sometime laid down, never to chastise any one against whom he felt particularly displeased without at least twenty-four hours' delay, he desired the matter to stand over till the following morning.

In the meantime, the men in confinement, knowing that their offence was a very slight one, laid their heads together, and contrived, by the aid of the purser's steward, to pen a supplicatory epistle to the captain. This document was conveyed to its destination by his servant, a judicious fellow. Though it proved no easy matter to decipher the hieroglyphics, it appeared evident that there were extenuating circumstances which had not been brought forward. The only remark, however, which the captain made was, that the letter ought not to have been brought to him; and that his servant was quite out of order, in being accessory to any proceeding so irregular.

The steward took the hint, and recommended the prisoners to appeal to the complaining officer. Accordingly, next day, when the captain went on deck, that person came up and said,—

"I have received a strange letter, sir, from these three fellows whom I complained of yesterday; but what they say does not alter my opinion in the least."

"It does mine, however," observed the captain, after he had spelled through it, as if for the first time.

"Indeed, sir!" exclaimed the other; adding, "I hope you won't let them off."

"I tell you what it is," quietly remarked the captain, "I would much rather you let them off than that I should; for it strikes me, that all the useful ends of discipline will be much better served, and your hands, as well as mine, essentially strengthened, by your taking the initiative in this business instead of me. My advice to you, therefore, is, that when I go below you send for the men, and say to them you have read their statement, and that, although it does by no means excuse, it certainly explains, and so far extenuates, their offence, that you feel disposed to try what your influence with the captain can do to get them off altogether."

"I do not see the force of your reasoning," answered the offended officer; "nor can I conscientiously trifle with the service in the manner proposed. I thought at first, and I still think, that these men ought to be punished; and, as far as I am concerned, they certainly shall not escape."

"Well, well," cried the captain, "you will not, I hope, deny that I am the best judge of what is right and fitting to be done on board this ship; and I tell you again, that I consider the discipline will be better served by your being the mover in this case, than by my taking the affair, as you wish me to do, entirely out of your hands. Will you do as I suggest?"

"I beg your pardon, sir, but really I cannot, consistently with my sense of duty, adopt the course you propose. I think it right to insist, as far as I can with propriety, on these men being punished."

"Turn the hands up for punishment, then!" said the captain to the first lieutenant, who had been walking on the other side of the deck during this colloquy; "and let the three prisoners be brought on deck."

The gratings were soon rigged under the mizen-stay—the quarter-masters placed with their seizings on either side—the boatswain and his mates (with the terrible weapons of naval law barely concealed under their jackets) arranged themselves in a group round the mast—while the marines, with fixed bayonets and shoulder arms, formed across the quarter-deck; and the ship's company, standing in two double rows, lined the sides of the deck. Not the slightest sound could be heard; and a person coming on deck blindfolded might have thought the ship lay in dock, without a soul on board.

In the middle of the open space before the hatchway stood the three culprits, with their hats off, and their eyes cast down in hopeless despair; but, to all outward appearance, firm and unmoved.

When all was declared ready, the first lieutenant descended to the cabin, but returned again almost immediately, followed closely by the captain, in his cocked hat and sword, grasping in one hand the well-known roll of paper containing the articles of war, and in the other the master-at-arms' report of prisoners. Every head was uncovered at his appearance; and as he lifted his hat in answer to this salute, he laid it on the capstan, against which he leaned while reading the article under which the delinquents had fallen.

"Now," said he, addressing the three prisoners, "you have been found guilty of an offence against the good order and discipline of this ship, which cannot be permitted, and which must positively be put a stop to. Heretofore it has not occurred, and I trust this will be the last case. Do you admit that you deserve punishment?"

No answer.

"Have you anything to advance why you should not be punished?"

The fellows nodged one another, scraped the deck with their feet, fumbled with their hats and waist-bands, and muttered something about "a letter they had written to the officer what reported them."

"Letter!" exclaimed the captain; "let me see it."

The epistle being handed to the captain, he read it aloud to the assembled ship's company, who listened with all their ears. At the conclusion, he folded it up, and, turning to the officer, asked,—

"What have you to say to this?"

"Nothing, sir—nothing," was the obdurate reply.

"Well now, my lads," observed the captain to the crew, after a pause of several minutes, "I shall give you a chance. These fellows appear, by their own confession, to have done what they knew to be wrong; and accordingly, as you perceive, they have brought themselves close aboard of the gangway. It would serve them all perfectly right to give each of them a good sound punishment. But I am willing to hope, that if I forgive them on your account—that is to say, if I let them off in consideration of the good conduct of the ship's company, and in confidence of your all behaving well in future—they will be quite as much disposed to exert themselves to recover their characters, as if they had tasted the bitterness of the gangway: at all events, I'll try them and you for once. Pipe down!"

It is only necessary to state further, that for nearly a year afterwards there occurred no instance of drunkenness or neglect at the watering parties.

There is one other point of importance in this discussion, and as it seems to possess a considerable analogy in its bearing to the suggestions already thrown out, it may possibly have greater weight in conjunction with them than if it were brought forward alone. In every system of penal jurisprudence it seems to be of the first importance to let it be felt that the true degradation lies more in the crime itself, than in the expiatory punishment by which it is followed. Whenever this principle is not duly understood, punishments lose half their value, while they are often virtually augmented in severity. The object of all punishments is evidently to prevent the recurrence of offences, either by others or by the offender himself. But it is not, by any means, intended that he should not have a full and fair chance allowed him for a return to virtue. The very instant punishment is over, he should be allowed to start afresh for his character. If a man is never to have his offence or his chastisement forgotten, he can hardly be expected to set seriously about the re-establishment of his damaged reputation.

Neither ought it to be forgotten, that a man so circumstanced has really stronger claims on our sympathy, and is more entitled to our protection, than if he had never fallen under censure. He has, in some sort, if not entirely, expiated his offence by the severity of its consequences; and every generous-minded officer must feel that a poor seaman whom he has been compelled, by a sense of duty, to punish at the gangway, instead of being kept down, has need of some extra assistance to place him even on the footing he occupied before he committed any offence. If this be not granted him, it is a mere mockery to say that he has any fair chance for virtue.

It might, therefore, I think, be very usefully made imperative upon the captain, at some short period after a punishment has taken place (say on the next muster-day), and when the immediate irritation shall have gone off, to call the offender publicly forward, and in the presence of the whole ship's company give him to understand that, as he had now received the punishment which, according to the rules of the service, his offence merited, both the one and the other were, from that time forward, to be entirely forgotten; and that he was now fully at liberty to begin his course anew. I can assert, from ample experience, that the beneficial effects of this practice are very great.

FOOTNOTES:

[7] The recent instructions issued by the Board of Admiralty would have gratified Captain Hall had he lived to read them; harmonizing as they do with the system he so earnestly advocates.

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CHAPTER XVI.

BOMBAY.

Early on the morning of the 11th of August, 1812, we first made the coast of Asia; and, on steering towards the shore, discovered, close under the land, a single sail, as white as snow, of a cut quite new to our seamanship, and swelled out with the last faint airs of the land-breeze, which, in the night, had carried us briskly along shore. As we came nearer, we observed that the boat, with her head directed to the northward, was piled half-mast high with fruits and vegetables, cocoa-nuts, yams, plantains, intended evidently for the market of Bombay. The water lay as smooth as that of a lake; so we sheered close alongside, and hailed, to ask the distance we still were from our port. None of the officers of the Volage could speak a word of Hindustanee; and I well remember our feeling of humiliation when a poor scullion, one of the cook's assistants, belonging to the governor's suite, was dragged on deck, with all his grease and other imperfections on his head, to act as interpreter. Sad work he made of it; for, though the fellow had been in the East on some ten or twelve former voyages, the languages of the countries he visited had not formed so important a part of his studies as the quality of the arrack and toddy which they produced. The word Bombaya, however, struck the ear of the native boatmen, who pointed in the direction which they themselves were steering, and called out "Mombay! Mombay!" This word, I am told by an oriental scholar, is a corruption of Moomba-devy, or the Goddess of Moomba, from an idol to which a temple is still dedicated on the island. Others, less fanciful in their etymology, say that the Portuguese gave it the name of Bom-Bahia, on account of the excellence of its Port. That nation held possession of Bombay from the year 1530 to 1661, when it was ceded by the crown of Portugal in full sovereignty to Charles II.

It was not long before we came in sight of several headlands. When the next day broke, and the sun rose upon us over the flat topped Gauts or mountains of the Mahratta country, I remember feeling almost at a loss whether I had been sleeping and dreaming during the night. But the actual sight of the coast gave reality to pictures which, for many a long year before, I had busied my fancy with painting, in colours drawn partly from the Arabian Nights and Persian Tales, and partly, if not chiefly, from those brilliant clusters of oriental images which crowd and adorn the pages of Scripture.

Captain Cook asserts somewhere, speaking of the delights of voyaging and travelling, that to such rovers as he and his companions nothing came amiss; and I can safely venture to boast, that, as far as this goes, I may claim a corner of my great brother officer's mantle. At all events, in sailing over the Indian seas, or travelling in those countries by land, I hardly ever met anything which did not so much exceed in interest what I had looked for, that the grand perplexity became, how to record what I felt, or in any adequate terms to describe even the simplest facts which struck the eye at every turn in that "wide realm of wild reality."

Of all places in the noble range of countries so happily called the Eastern world, from the pitch of the Cape to the islands of Japan, from Bengal to Batavia, there are few which can compare with Bombay. If, indeed, I were consulted by any one who wished as expeditiously and economically as possible to see all that was essentially characteristic of the Oriental world, I would say, without hesitation, "Take a run to Bombay; remain there a week or two; and having also visited the scenes in the immediate neighbourhood, Eliphanta, Carli, and Poonah, you will have examined good specimens of most things that are curious or interesting in the East."

For this remarkable distinction, peculiar, as far as I know, to that one spot on the earth's surface, this presidency is indebted to a variety of interesting circumstances. Bombay is an island, and by no means a large one, being only between six and seven miles long by one or two broad. It is not, however, by geographical dimensions that the wealth of towns, any more than the power and wealth of nations, is determined. The harbour unites every possible desideratum of a great sea port; it is easy of access and egress; affords excellent anchoring ground; is capacious beyond the utmost probable demands of commerce; and, owing to the great rise and fall of the tides, is admirably adapted for docks of every description. The climate is healthy; and the country, being diversified by numerous small ridges and hills, furnishes an endless choice of situations for forts, towns, bazaars, and villages, not to say bungalows or villas, and all sorts of country-houses, and some very splendid retreats from the bustle of business. The roads which intersect this charming island were beautifully Macadamised, as I well remember, long before that grand improvement was heard of in England; and as the soil of the island is made up of that rich kind of mould resulting from decomposed basalt or lava, the whole surface affords a good sample of the perennial verdure of tropical scenery, which dazzles and surprises the new-comer, while its interest seldom fails to rise still higher upon a more prolonged and intimate acquaintance.

Such are among the eminent physical advantages enjoyed by Bombay; but even these, had they been many times greater, would have been light in the balance compared to those of a moral, or rather of a political nature, which conspired in 1812 to render it one of the most important spots in that quarter of the globe. At the time I speak of, it was almost the only possession exclusively British within several hundred miles in any direction. The enormous territory of the Mahrattas lay close to Bombay on the east.

On the morning after my arrival at Bombay, I got up with the first blush of the dawn, and hastily drawing on my clothes, proceeded along greedily in search of adventures. I had not gone far, before I saw a native sleeping on a mat spread in the little verandah extending along the front of his house, which was made of basket-work plastered over with mud. He was wrapped up in a long web of white linen, or cotton cloth, called, I think, his cummer-bund, or waist-cloth. As soon as the first rays of the sun peeped into his rude sleeping-chamber, he "arose, took up his bed, and went into his house." I saw immediately an explanation of this expression, which, with slight variations, occurs frequently in the Bible, in connection with several of the most striking and impressive of Christ's miracles, particularly with that of the man sick of the palsy. My honest friend the Hindoo got on his feet, cast the long folds of his wrapper over his shoulder, stooped down, and having rolled up his mat, which was all the bed he required, he walked into the house with it, and then proceeded to the nearest tank to perform his morning ablutions.

I remember mentioning this, amongst many other illustrations of the incidents recorded in Scripture, to a worthy old Scotch lady, upon whom I expected it to produce the same pleasing and satisfactory effect which it had wrought on me. I made, however, a great mistake; for so far from raising myself in her estimation, on the score of correct observation, I sunk, I fear, irrecoverably, in her good graces, by presuming, as she alleged, to interfere with the wonder of the miracle, the essence of which, according to her, I discovered to consist, not in the recovery of "the man, who was made whole," but in his being able to shoulder a four-post bed, and carry it off without inconvenience!

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CHAPTER XVII.

SIR SAMUEL HOOD.

As soon as the Volage was refitted, and her crew refreshed, after our voyage from England of four months and a half, we sailed from Bombay to the southward along the western coast of India; and having rounded Ceylon, at Point de Galle, on the extreme south-western corner, where we merely touched to land the governor's dispatches, before we hauled up to the northward, and, after twelve days' passage, sailed into the beautiful harbour of Trincomalee. There, to my great joy, we found the commander-in-chief, Sir Samuel Hood; who, to my still greater joy, informed me that a vacancy had been kept open for me in his flag ship, the Illustrious. In a few minutes my traps were packed up, my commission made out, and I had the honour of hailing myself a professional follower of one of the first officers in his Majesty's service. It is true, I was only fifth lieutenant, and not even fifth on the Admiral's list for promotion; for I came after a number of old officers who had served under Sir Samuel for many long years of patient, or rather impatient, expectation: but my first and grand purpose was attained, although my chance of advancement was very small, and very remote.

In capstans, and other machines, there is a mechanical device, with which every person is acquainted, termed a pall or catch, by which the work gained in the effort last made shall be secured, and the machine prevented from turning back again. Something of this kind takes place in life, particularly in naval life; and happy is the officer who hears the pall of his fortunes play "click! click!" as he spins upwards in his profession. Proportionately deep is the despair of the poor wretch who, after struggling and tugging with all his might at the weary windlass of his hopes, can never bring it quite far enough round to hear the joyous sound of the pall dropping into its berth! I well remember most of these important moments of my own life; and I could readily describe the different sensations to which their successive occurrence gave rise, from the startling hour when my father first told me that my own request was now to be granted, for on the very next day I was to go to sea—up to that instant when the still more important announcement met my ear, "Those whom God hath joined together let no man put asunder!"

"It is easy to be cheerful when one is successful," says a high authority; and there are "few people who are not good-natured when they have nothing to cross them," says another equally profound recorder of common-places; but the secret of good fortune seems to lie far less in making the most of favourable incidents, or in submitting manfully to disastrous ones, than in studying how to fill up to advantage the long intervals between these great epochs in our lives. So that there is, perhaps, no point of duty which affords more scope for the talents of a superior than the useful and cheerful employment of the heads and hands of his officers and people during those trying periods of inaction which occur in every service. Sir Samuel Hood possessed this faculty in a wonderful degree, as he not only kept us all busy when there was nothing to be done, but contrived to make us happy and contented, though some of our prospects were poor enough in all conscience. My own, for example, since I was placed at the tip of the tail of his long string of private followers; and when the Admiralty List came out, on which I had built so many beautiful castles in the air, my poor name was not upon it at all. I had not expected to be first or second, or even third; fourth I had reckoned upon as possible; fifth as probable; sixth as certain; so that my horror and disappointment were excessive when this kindest of commanders-in-chief broke to me the fatal news, in the following characteristic manner.

A telegraphic signal had been made from the flagstaff at the Admiral's house to the ship, in these words:—

"Send Mr. Hall on shore, with a crow-bar, two pick-axes, and two spades."

All the way to the landing-place I puzzled myself with thinking what on earth could be the object of these tools; little dreaming, good easy lieutenant! that I was so soon to dig the grave of my own hopes. The Admiral received me at the door with his coat off; and holding out his remaining hand (his right arm was shot away in action), he squeezed mine with even more than his wonted kindness.

"I have been waiting for you with some impatience;" he said, "to be present at the hunt after a white ant's nest, a sort of thing I know you like. These rogues, the Termites bellicosi, as I find the naturalists call them, have made their way into the house! and having carried their galleries up the walls and along the roof, have come down in great force upon a trunk of clothes, which they would have destroyed entirely before night, had I not caught sight of them. Now let us to work; for I propose to rip up the floor of the verandah, in order to follow their passages and galleries till I reach their nest, if it be a mile off; won't this he a glorious piece of service?" exclaimed the Admiral, as he warmed himself by anticipating the chase. He could hardly have been more delighted, I am persuaded, had he been giving orders for a fleet under his command to bear down upon the enemy's line. I could not venture to do more than bow, and say I was much obliged to him for having so considerately thought of me at such a moment.

"Oh!" cried he, apparently recollecting himself, "but I have something else to show you; or rather to tell you, for I must not show it; though I fear it will not please you quite so much as the prospect of a white ant-hunt. Here, Gigna," called the Admiral to his steward, who stood by with a tea-kettle of hot water, ready to pour over the ants, "put away that affair, which we shall not require this half-hour yet; and hold this crow-bar while I step into the office with Mr. Hall."

"It is of no use to mince the matter," said the veteran, shutting the door, and turning to me with somewhat of the air which he might be supposed to have put on, had he been instructed from home to tell me that one or both my parents were dead; "it is no use to conceal the fact from you; but here is the Admiralty List, just come to my hands, and your name, in spite of all you tell me of promises, verbal and written, is NOT ON IT!"

Had the Admiral fired one of the flag-ship's thirty-two pounders, double-shotted, down my throat, he could not have demolished more completely my bodily framework than this fatal announcement shattered to pieces the gilded crockeryware of my fondest hopes. All the gay visions of command, and power, and independence, in which I had indulged my fancy during the voyage, vanished like the shadows of a dream I fain would recall, but could not. I was at first quite stupified, and can remember nothing that passed for some minutes. As I recovered my scattered senses, however, I recollect gazing at the anchorage from the open window of the Admiralty House, near which we stood. The flag-ship then lay just off Osnaburg Point, with her ensign, or, as it used to be called in old books, her Ancient, the "meteor flag of England," dropped, in the calm, so perpendicularly from the gaff-end, that it looked like a rope more than a flag; while its reflection, as well as that of the ship herself, with every mast, yard, and line of the rigging, seemed, as it were, engraved on the surface of the tranquil pool, as distinctly as if another vessel had actually been inverted and placed beneath. I have seldom witnessed so complete a calm. The sea-breeze, with which the shore had been refreshed for twenty minutes, had not as yet found its way into the recesses of the inner harbour, which, take it all in all, is one of the snuggest and most beautiful coves in the world. And such is the commodious nature of this admirable port, that even the Illustrious, though a large 74-gun ship, rode at anchor in perfect security, within a very few yards of the beach, which at that spot is quite steep to, and is wooded down to, the very edge of the water. I gazed for some moments, almost unconsciously, at this quiet scene, so different from that which was boiling and bubbling in my own distracted breast, and swelling up with indignation against some of my friends at home, who I had such good reason to believe had either betrayed or neglected me, maugre all sorts of promises.

In the midst of my reverie, which the kind-hearted Admiral did not interrupt, I observed the wind just touch the drooping flag; but the air was so light and transient, that it merely produced on it a gentle motion from side to side, like that of a pendulum, imitated in the mirror beneath, which lay as yet totally unbroken by the sea-breeze. Presently the whole mighty flag, after a faint struggle or two, gradually unfolded itself, and, buoyed up by the new born gale, spread far beyond the gallant line-of-battle ship's stern, and waved gracefully over the harbour. It is well known to nice observers of the human mind, that the strangest fancies often come into the thoughts at a moment when we might least expect them; and though, assuredly, I was not then in a very poetical or imaginative humour, I contrived to shape out of the inspiring scene I was looking upon a figure to soothe my disappointed spirit. As I saw the ensign uncurl itself to the wind I said internally, "If I have but life, and health, and opportunity, I trust, notwithstanding the bitterness of this disappointment, I shall yet contrive to unfold, in like manner, the flag of my own fortunes to the world."

Just as this magnanimous thought crossed my mind's eye, the Admiral placed his hand so gently on my shoulder that the pressure would not have hurt a fly, and said, in a cheerful tone, "Never mind this mishap, master Hall; everything will come right in time; and if you only resolve to take it in the proper and manly temper, it may even prove all the better that this has happened. Nothing is without a remedy in this world; and I'll do what I can to make good this maxim in your case. In the mean time, however, come along, and help me to rout out these rascally white ants. Off coat, however, if you please; for we shall have a tough job of it."

It cost us an hour's hard work; for we had to rip up the planks along the whole of the verandah, then to shape a course across two cellars, or godongs, as they are called in the East, and finally the traverses of these singular insects obliged us to cut a trench to the huge hillock or nest, which rose to the height of five or six feet from the ground, in numberless shoots, like pinnacles round the roof of a Gothic church. We might have attacked them at headquarters in the first instance, had we wished it; but the Admiral chose to go more technically to work, and to sap up to his enemy by regular approaches. In this way we had the means of seeing the principles upon which these ants proceed in securing themselves, at every step of their progress, by galleries or covered ways, which, though extremely feeble, are sufficiently strong to keep off the attacks of every other kind of ant. It is curious enough, that, although the white ant be the most destructive of its species, it is said to be, individually, by far the weakest, and cannot move a step without the artificial protection of the galleries it constructs as it goes along; just as the besiegers of a fortification secure themselves in their trenches and zigzags.

We now brought our spades into play; and having cut the hill across, laid open the secrets of these most curious of all the ant tribe. At last we reached the great queen ant, the mother of millions of her race, a most enormous personage to be sure, nearly four inches long, and as thick as a man's finger, with a head not larger than that of a bee, but a body such as I have described, filled with eggs, which continually rolled out like a fluid from a reservoir. Never shall I forget the shout of rapture which the gallant Admiral sent over half the harbour, as he succeeded in gaining the object of his labour.

There are some men who go about everything they undertake with all their hearts and souls, and this great officer was one of those. He did nothing by halves and quarters, like so many other people. The greatest deeds of arms, or the most trivial objects of passing amusement, engrossed his whole concentrated attention for the time. He was equally in earnest when holding out examples of private generosity, or lending the heartiest and kindest encouragement even to the least distinguished of his followers, as when performing acts of the highest public spirit, or making the greatest sacrifices to what he considered his duty. Everything, in short, that he did, or thought, or uttered, bore the stamp of the same peculiar impress of genuine zeal. So eminently exciting, and even fascinating, was this truly officer-like conduct, that even those who had served under him the longest often wondered at the extent of their own exertions when roused by his example, and were led almost to believe that his very look had something stimulating in it which actually gave fresh vigour to their arms as well as to their thoughts. With all this, he was the gentlest of the gentle, and accomplished whatever he undertook without apparent effort, or the least consciousness that what he was doing was remarkable.

I remember an instance of his skill in the small way. One morning, near the spot where he had headed the storming party against the white ants, a working party of the crew of the Illustrious had commenced constructing a wharf before the dockyard. The stones of which this platform or landing-place was to be built were, by Sir Samuel Hood's orders, selected of very large dimensions, so much so, that the sailors came at last to deal with a mass of rock so heavy, that their combined strength proved unequal to moving it beyond a few inches towards its final position at the top of one corner. The Admiral sat on his horse looking at the workmen for some time, occasionally laughing, and occasionally calling out directions, which the baffled engineers could by no means apply. At length, his Excellency the Commander-in-chief became fidgety, and having dismounted, he tried to direct them in detail; but never a bit would the stone budge. Finally, losing all patience, he leaped from the top of the bank, and roared out, in a voice of reproach and provocation, "Give me the crow-bar!" Thus armed, he pushed the officers and men to the right and left, while he insisted upon having the whole job to himself, literally, single-handed. He first drove the claws of the instrument well under the edge of the stone, then placed with his toe a small iron pin on the ground under the bar, and across its length, to act as a fulcrum, or shoulder. When all things were carefully adjusted to his mind, he slipped his hand to the upper end of the lever, and weighing it down, gave what he called "life" to the huge stone, which, just before, half-a-dozen strong men had not been able to disturb. Sure enough, however, it now moved, though only about half-an-inch, towards its intended resting-place. At each prize or hitch of the bar, the rock appeared to advance farther, till, after five or six similar shifts, it was finally lodged in the station prepared for it, where, I doubt not, it rests to this day, and may occupy for centuries to come.

Printer's Flower

CHAPTER XVIII.

EXCURSION TO CANDELAY LAKE IN CEYLON.

The fervid activity of our excellent admiral, Sir Samuel Hood, in whose flag-ship I served as lieutenant, from 1812 to 1815, was unceasing. There was a boyish hilarity about this great officer, which made it equally delightful to serve officially under him, and to enjoy his friendly companionship. An alligator-hunt, a sport in which the Malays take great delight, was shared in by the Admiral, who made the place ring with his exclamation of boyish delight. Scarcely had we returned from the alligator-hunt, near Trincomalee, when Sir Samuel applied himself to the collector of the district, who was chief civilian of the place, and begged to know what he would recommend us to see next.

"Do you care about antiquities?" said the collector.

"Of course," replied the Admiral, "provided they be genuine and worth seeing. What have you got to show us in that way? I thought this part of the country had been a wild jungle from all time, and that the English were only now bringing it into cultivation."

"On the contrary," observed our intelligent friend, "there are manifest traces, not very far off, of a dense and wealthy population. At all events, the inhabitants appear to have understood some of the arts of life, for they formed a huge tank or pond for the purpose of irrigation; so large, indeed, that there still exists, in one corner of it, a sheet of water extensive enough to deserve the name of a lake."

"Let us go and see it," exclaimed the admiral. "Can we ride? Order the horses; who minds the heat of the sun?"—for, like almost all new-comers, Sir Samuel cared nothing for exposure, and laughed at the precautions of more experienced residents.

The collector of Trincomalee soon satisfied the Admiral that an expedition to Candelay Lake, as the ancient tank of the natives was called, could not be undertaken quite so speedily. Boats and horses indeed were all ready, and tents could easily be procured; but it was likewise necessary to prepare provisions, to pack up clothes, and to send forward a set of native pioneers to clear the way through brushwood, otherwise impenetrable. The Admiral was in such ecstacies at the prospect of an adventure which was to cost some trouble, that he allowed nobody rest till everything had been put in train. Early in the morning of the next day but one, we accordingly set out in several of the flag-ship's boats, accompanied by a mosquito fleet of native canoes to pilot and assist us; Lady Hood, whom no difficulties could daunt, accompanied Sir Samuel; the captain of his ship, and his flag-lieutenant, with the collector as pilot, and one or two others, made up the party; and our excursion, though nearly destitute of adventures vulgarly so called, proved one of the most interesting possible.

The early part of our course lay over the smooth and beautiful harbour of Trincomalee, after which we passed through a series of coves, forming what is called the Lake of Tamblegam, a connecting bay or arm of the sea, though far out of sight of the main ocean. We soon lost ourselves amid innumerable little islands clad thickly in the richest mantles of tropical foliage down to the water's edge, and at many places even into the water; so that, as not a stone or the least bit of ground could be seen, these fairy islets appeared actually to float on the surface. We had to row our boats through a dense aquatic forest of mangroves for nearly a mile, along a narrow lane cut through the wood expressly for us the day before by the natives. These fantastical trees, which grow actually in the water, often recall to the imagination those villages one sees in countries liable to frequent inundation, where each house is perched on the top of piles. We saw with astonishment clusters of oysters and other shell-fish clinging to the trunk and branches, as well as to the roots of these trees, which proves that the early voyagers were not such inventors of facts as folks suppose them, nor far wrong in reporting that they had seen fish growing like fruit on trees!

Shortly before entering this watery wilderness, we encountered a party of native pearl-divers; and the Admiral, who was at all times most provokingly sceptical as to reported wonderful exploits, pulled out his watch, and insisted on timing the best diver amongst them, to see how long he could remain under water. In no case did the poor fellow make out a minute complete; upon which, the Admiral held up his watch exultingly in his triumph, and laughing to scorn the assurances that at other parts of the island divers might be found who could remain five minutes at the bottom. "Show me them! show me them!" cried he, "and then, but not till then—begging you pardon—I shall believe it." The challenge remained unanswered.

The method used by these divers is to place between their feet a basket loaded with one or two large lumps of coral, the weight of which carries them rapidly to the bottom. The oysters being then substituted for the stones, the diver disengages his feet, and shoots up to the surface again, either bringing the full basket with him, or leaving it to be drawn up by a line.

Nothing could be imagined more wild than the mangrove avenue through which we rowed, or rather paddled, for the strait was so narrow that there was no room for the oars when pushed out to their full length. The sailors, therefore, were often obliged to catch hold of the branches and roots of the trees, to draw the boats along. The foliage, as may be supposed, where perennial heat and moisture occur in abundance, spread overhead in such extraordinary luxuriance that few of the sun's rays could penetrate the massy net-work of leaves and branches forming the roof of our fairy passage. Not a single bird could be seen, either seated or on the wing; nor was even a chirp distinguishable above the dreamy hum of millions of mosquitoes floating about, in a calm so profound, that it seemed as if the surface of the water had never been disturbed since the Creation. The air, though cool, felt so heavy and choky, that, by the time we had scrambled to the end of this strange tunnel or watery lane, we could scarcely breathe, and were rejoiced to enter the open air again,—although, when we came out, the sun "flamed in the forehead of the morning sky," and beat fiercely and hotly upon the parched ground, from which every blade of grass had been scorched away.

The village of Tamblegam, to which we soon came, is inhabited by a colony of Hindoo emigrants from the coast of Malabar. It is a neat little place, of which the huts, formed chiefly of branches of the tamarind-tree and leaves of the plantain, standing under prodigiously high cocoa-nuts, are so very diminutive, that the whole looks more like a child's toy-box village than the residence of grown people. The principal edifice is a pagoda built of stone, exactly ten feet square. Not fancying there could be any harm in taking such a liberty, we entered the pagoda unceremoniously, and one of our artists set to work sketching the bronze image which the natives worship as a deity, a figure not quite three inches in height; but the Hindoos were shocked at our impiety, and soon ousted the Admiral and his party. Close by was a little tank or pool of water, beautifully spangled over with the leaves and flowers of the water-lily. Here several groups of Indian girls had assembled to enjoy the coolness of the water in a style which we envied not a little. Instead of plunging in and swimming about as with us, one person sits down, while others pour pitchers of water over the head. We took notice also of one particularly interesting party of young damsels, who waded in till the water reached nearly to their breasts. Each of these girls held in her hand a chatty, or water-pot, shaped somewhat like an Etruscan vase, the top of which barely showed itself above the level of the pool. Upon a signal being given by one of the party, all the girls ducked out of sight, and at the same time raised their water-jars high in the air. In the next instant, just as their heads began to re-appear above the surface, the vessels were simultaneously inclined so that the water might pour out gradually, and in such measure that by the time the bathers again stood erect, the inverted jars might be quite empty. Nothing could be more graceful than the whole proceedings; and we sat in the shade of the pagoda looking at these water-nymphs for half-an-hour in great admiration.

In the mean time a slender pole, forty feet in height, had been erected by a set of native tumblers, who presently exhibited before us various feats of extraordinary agility and strength—some of these are almost too curious to be believed by those who are not aware of the flexibility and dexterity of the Hindoos. We were most surprised and amused by the exploits of a lady of forty, which is considered a very old age in that climate, who ran up the pole more like a monkey than a human being, and then sticking herself on the top horizontally like a weathercock, whirled herself round, to the great astonishment of the European beholders. What tickled us particularly on this occasion was the good lady accompanying her strange movements with a noise so exactly like that of our old and respected friend Punch, when drubbed by his faithful wife Judy, that we all burst out a-laughing.

The sun had now fallen past that particular angle in the sky above which it is considered by the bearers inexpedient to travel, we nestled ourselves into our respective palankeens, and proceeded on the journey through what seemed to us a very respectable forest, growing on lands which had once been under the plough, but apparently very long ago. To our inexperienced eyes and European associations, it seemed as if a century at least must have elapsed from the time such a matting of wood first supplanted the labours of the husbandman; but our friend the collector soon explained to us, that, if any spot of ground in that rich district were neglected for a very few years, natural trees, as tall as those we now admired so much, would soon shoot up spontaneously, and occupy all the soil. We shook our heads at this with the confident scepticism of ignorance, and exchanged glances amongst ourselves at the expense of our official companion; but in the course of an hour we were compelled, by the evidence of our own senses, to alter our note of disbelief. On coming to the real untouched virgin forest of the climate, we beheld a most noble spectacle indeed, in the way of scenery, such as I at least had never seen before, and have but rarely met with since. I do not recollect the names of the principal trees, though they were mentioned to us over and over again. The grand Banyan, however, with which European eyes have become so correctly familiar through the pencil of Daniell, rose on every side, and made us feel, even more decidedly than the cocoa-nut trees had done in the morning, that we were indeed in another world.

Shortly after we had left the Indian village, the night fell, and, while we were threading the gigantic forest by the light of torches, the only thing at all like an adventure promised to occur to us; but it ended in nothing. The party consisted of six palankeens, each attended by eight bearers, though only four at a time, or at most six, supported the poles; these trotted along by the side of the bearers, between two and three dozen coolies or porters carrying provisions and torches.

With a mixture of vague alarm and curiosity we now listened to the accounts of wild elephants in these woods, though in the morning we had heard the same stories with indifference and incredulity; while the old hands of the party, who had felt rather piqued at our distrust of their marvellous narrations, pointed out with malicious satisfaction the recent foot-marks of these undisputed and formidable lords of the soil.

Sir Samuel and Lady Hood, with some of his staff, had left their palankeens and walked forward on the path, which barely admitted two people abreast, in order to enjoy the exceeding beauty of the Indian jungle, lighted up with the blaze of our torches. Suddenly the headmost musalgee or torch-bearer paused, listened, and then retreated precipitately, upon the hinder ranks. Nothing was said by them, and nothing could we hear in the woods to explain the cause of this panic, which, however, soon became general amongst the natives. The bearers set down the palankeens, and in an instant they, as well as all the coolies, took to their heels, while the torches flitted about in the forest in a style which, had there been no apprehension, might have been acknowledged as very picturesque. Sir Samuel not only stood fast himself, but ordered all of us to do so likewise—remarking, that, until we knew what to fly from, we might only be making matters worse by moving. Presently the loud crashing of the underwood of the forest, and a heavy thumping on the ground, gave abundant evidence that a wild elephant was close to us.

Some of the natives told us afterwards that they had seen the monster; but, although we peered into the forest with all our eyes, none of us could honestly take upon us to say we actually saw him—though assuredly we heard his footsteps as he broke his way through the jungle. Robinson Crusoe and his wolves in Tartary came to our recollection; and upon our asking the natives what effect fires really had on wild beasts, they all assured us that hardly any animal, however ferocious, would come up to a light, and that we were safe so long as we kept near a torch. This might be consolatory reasoning for the musalgees, each of whom carried a light, but it afforded little security to us, who, it was evident, would again be left in the dark should an elephant cross our path a second time. The Admiral, therefore, and by his desire all of us, made an attempt to carry the torches ourselves. But we were soon so plaguily smoked and scorched for our pains, that we rested contented with the risk, and the bearers having gradually crept back to the palankeens, we once more moved on. In spite of all that had passed, some of the party remained so doggedly sceptical, from being habitually distrustful of all things wonderful, that they declared the whole affair a mere matter of panic, and dared to swear there could not be found an elephant within fifty miles of us. Scarcely had this opinion, so injurious to the honours and glories of our late adventure, been uttered, when the commander-in-chief, who, as usual, was leading the way, snatched a light from one of the men's hands, and waved it over what the geologists call a "recent deposit," half the size of a wheelbarrow, and out-rivalling in its column of smoke the muggiest torch in the line.

"There!" exclaimed the Admiral, better pleased than if he had found a pile of rupees, instead of so much recent Album Græcum. "Will that evidence satisfy you? How many hundred yards off do you think can the fellow be who left this trace of his proximity?"

It was past ten o'clock when we reached our tents, which had been pitched in the morning on the borders of the celebrated lake we came to visit. All the party were well fagged, and so ravenously hungry, that we shouted for joy on seeing supper enter just as we came to the ground.

"This," said our excellent caterer the collector, "is the dish upon which we pride ourselves most at Trincomalee. It is the true Malay curry—rich, as you perceive, in flavour, and more than half of it gravy—which gravy, I beg you particularly to take notice, is full of minced vegetables, while the whole is softened with some of the youngest kind of cocoa-nut, plucked this very evening since the sun went down."

These praises really fell far short of the merits of this glorious supper; nor can I remember anything in the way of gourmandise in any part of the world comparable to this exquisite midnight feast.

At the door and windows of our supper tent were hung up by the neck sundry well-bedewed goglets of spring water, cheek by jowl with a jolly string of long-necked bottles of Lafitte and Château Margaux, joyously fanning themselves in the thorough draught of the cool night-breeze, breathing so gently along, that we could just hear it whispering through the leaves of the damp forest, and sweeping towards the lake past the tents, the curtains of which it scarcely stirred.

The wine perhaps was almost more chilled than a fastidious wine-fancier might have directed; nevertheless, it flowed over our parched palates with an intensity of zest which I do not believe it is in mortals to be conscious of enjoying till they have toiled a whole day in the sun within half-a-dozen degrees of the equator. Bottle after bottle—each one more rich and racy than its valued and lamented predecessor—vanished so fast, that, ere an hour had elapsed, we felt as if a hundred mad elephants would have stood no chance with us!

As we straggled off to our respective beds, made up in the palankeens, according to the custom of the country, we became sensible of a serious annoyance, of which we had taken but little notice while baling in the hot curries and cool clarets within the tent. A most potent and offensive smell was brought to us by the land-wind; and the Admiral, who was not a man to submit to any evil capable of remedy, insisted on an immediate investigation into the cause of this annoyance.

After hunting about in the wind's eye for a short time in the jungle, with torches in our hands, we came upon a huge dead buffalo, swollen almost to double his natural size. Upon seeing this, the bearers and servants shrugged their shoulders, as if the case had been hopeless. Not so the gallant Admiral, who, in his usual style of prompt resource, called out, "Let us bury this monster before we go to bed." And, sure enough, under his directions, and by his assistance, we contrived, in a quarter of an hour, to throw sand, earth, and leaves enough over the huge carcase to cover it completely. "There's a cairn for you!" exclaimed the Admiral, throwing down his spade, which he had been using with his only hand; "and now let us turn in; for by the first peep of the morning we must have a touch at the wild ducks and peacocks on the sides of the lake, and perhaps we may contrive to have a shot at a buffalo or a stray elephant."

Accordingly, next morning, actually before it was light, I felt the indefatigable Admiral tugging at my ear, and bidding me get up, to accompany him on a shooting excursion, and as he said, "Mayhap we shall get sight of some of those elephants, the existence of which you presumed to doubt last night. Come, Mr. Officer, show a leg! I know you are a bit of a philosopher, and curious in natural history; so rouse up and come along with me."

Most cordially did I then anathematise all philosophy, and wish I had never expressed any curiosity on the score of wild beasts, peacocks, or ancient tanks; but as the Admiral was not a person to be trifled with, I made a most reluctant move, and exchanged the delightful dream of hot curries and cool sherbet for the raw reality of a shooting-match, up to the knees in water, at five in the morning. At one place, such was his Excellency's anxiety to secure a good shot at some ducks, that he literally crawled for a couple of hundred yards among the muddy shore of the lake on his knees, and at the end expressing himself fully repaid by getting a single capital shot at a wild peacock! He was also gratified by bringing down a magnificent jungle-cock—a bird which resembles our barn-door fowl in form, but its plumage is vastly more brilliant, and its flight more lofty and sustained, than any of which the bird can boast in its tame state. Our scramble in the mud brought us within sight of a drove of several hundred buffaloes. We saw also several troops of wild deer; but, to our great disappointment, not a single elephant could we catch even a glimpse of. We counted, at one time, several dozens of peacocks—some perched on the trees, some high in the air; we fired at them repeatedly, but I do not believe any came within shot. Their plumage exceeded that of our tame peacocks less in the brilliancy of the colour than in the wonderful fineness of the gloss—a characteristic of animals of all kinds in their native state. We scarcely saw one small bird during our whole excursion, or heard a single note but the hideous screams of the peacock and parrot—tones which dame Nature, in her even-handed style of doing things, has probably bestowed upon these dandies of the woods, to counterbalance the magnificence of their apparel.

While discussing this point, the collector took occasion to point out to us the great importance of such artificial means of irrigating a country as the ancient lake of Candelay, by the side of which we were now encamped, must have furnished to agriculturists of former days, when its precious waters were husbanded and drawn off to fertilise the surrounding country.

This stupendous monument of the wealth and industry of some former race is placed on ground slightly elevated above the districts lying between it and the sea, which, in a direct line, may be distant about twelve or fourteen miles. We could not ascertain exactly what was the precise elevation, but, from the remains of trenches, sluices, and other contrivances for drawing off and distributing the water, it appeared that the fall in the ground must have been sufficient to enable the husbandmen to irrigate the fields at pleasure; though, to our eyes, no inclination could be perceived. The lake itself is now greatly diminished in extent, from the dilapidations in its "bund," or retaining embankment, but still it stretches over many square miles of area. On three sides it is confined by the swelling nature of the ground, and it is only on the fourth that any extensive artificial means have been resorted to for confining the water. At this place, across a flat broad valley, there has been thrown a huge embankment, constructed chiefly of oblong stones, many of them as big as a sofa, extending in a zig-zag line for several miles. At some places it rises to the height of thirty or forty feet, and the courses of stone being laid above one another with considerable regularity, this great retaining wall assumes the appearance of a gigantic flight of steps, and being crowned at top by an irregular line of tall trees, it breaks the sky-line beyond the lake in a manner extremely picturesque. Here and there lateral gaps between the hills occur in the other sides, all of which are filled up with similar embankments.

Near one end of the principal wall we could distinctly trace the ruins of a considerable tower, beneath which the great tunnel or outlet used for tapping the lake most probably passed. It is said that some early European settlers, a century or two ago, impressed with an idea that treasure was hid in this building, had torn it down to get at the gold beneath.

Printer's Flower

CHAPTER XIX.

GRIFFINS IN INDIA—SINBAD'S VALLEY OF DIAMONDS—A MOSQUITO-HUNT.

On the evening of the 18th of November, 1812, we sailed, in his Majesty's ship Illustrious, from the magnificent harbour of Trincomalee. In attempting to get out we were sadly baffled by light shifting winds, which knocked us about from side to side of the entrance, in which, unfortunately, no good anchorage is to be found, owing to the great depth of water and the rocky nature of the ground. This serious evil of a rocky bottom is now almost entirely obviated by the admirable invention of iron cables, when the water is not too deep. The links of the chain merely acquire a polish by their friction against the coral reefs and other sharp ledges, by which the best hempen cables of past times would be cut through in ten minutes.

The chain-cable, however, is difficult of management in deep water, that is to say, when the soundings are more than twenty or twenty-five fathoms. Nothing is so easy as getting the anchor to the bottom in such cases; it is the "facilis descensus," with a vengeance! But when the anchor is to be pulled up again, then comes the tug. I once let go my anchor with a chain-cable bent to it in forty-five fathoms, without having calculated on the probable effects of the momentum. Though the cable was bitted, all the stoppers snapped like packthread; and the anchor, not content with shooting to the bottom with an accelerated velocity, drew after it more than a hundred fathoms of chain, in such fearful style that we thought the poor ship must have been shaken to pieces. The noise was like that of rattling thunder, and so loud that it was impossible to hear a word; indeed it was even difficult to speak, from the excessive tremour caused by the rapid and violent passage of the links, as the chain leaped, or rather flew, up the hatchway, flashing round the bits, and giving out sparks like a firework. Finally, it tore its way out at the hause-hole, till the whole cable had probably piled itself on the anchor in a pyramid of iron at the bottom of the sea. The inner end of the cable had of course been securely shackled round the heel of the mainmast; but the jerk with which it was brought up, made the ship shake from stem to stern, as if she had bumped on a rock, and every one fully expected to see the links fly in pieces about the deck, like chain-shot fired from a cannon. It cost not many seconds of time for the cable to run out, but it occupied several hours of hard labour to heave it in again. The ordinary power of the capstan, full manned, scarcely stirred it; and at the last, when to the weight of chain hanging from the bows there came to be added that of the anchor, it was necessary to apply purchase upon purchase, in order to drag the ponderous mass once more to the bows.

When we got fairly clear of the harbour of Trincomalee, and caught the monsoon, we dashed along-shore briskly enough; and having rounded the south point of Ceylon, well named Dondra Head, or thunder cape, we paid a visit to Point de Galle, celebrated for its bread-fruit and cocoa-nuts. We then passed on to Columbo, the capital of the island. Ceylon, I may take occasion to mention, is not considered by our countrymen of the East to be in India. We stared with all our eyes when this unexpected information was first given us, and fancied our merry friends were quizzing us. But we soon learned that, in the technical language of that country, Ceylon does not form a part of India; still less does Sumatra, Java, or any indeed of the islands in the great tropical Archipelago. New-comers are, of course, a good deal perplexed by these and sundry other local peculiarities in language and manners, which they at first laugh at as a good joke, then ridicule as affected, and lastly conform to as quite natural and proper. Among Anglo-Indians the straits of Malacca, Sunda, and so on, together with the China sea, and those magnificent groups of islands the Philippines and Moluccas, are all included in the sweeping term—"To the eastward."

At almost every part of this immense range I found further local distinctions, of greater or less peculiarity and extent according to circumstances. At one place I was puzzled by hearing the name of a whole country appropriated to a single spot. At Bombay, for example, I remember it was the custom, at a certain season of the year, to talk of going to the Deccan, which word properly includes an immense region consisting of many provinces; whereas those who used this expression meant, and were understood to express, only one point in it—a little watering-place. Mere local words, in like manner, come to have a much more expanded signification. The word Ghaut, I believe, means, in strictness, a pass between hills; and hence, some bold etymologists pretend, comes our word gate! The term, however, is now applied to the whole range of mountains which fringe the western coast of India, just as the more gigantic Cordilleras of the Andes guard the shores of the Pacific.

But whether Ceylon be in India or not, this island is celebrated for its precious stones; indeed, there are writers who believe that Mount Ophir of the Scripture is Adam's Peak of Ceylon. Be this also as it may, our ever-enterprising and active-minded Admiral determined to bring this reputation to the proof; and, one day at dinner at the governor's table, actually announced his intention of having a hunt for the sapphires, rubies, tourmalines, chrysoberyls, and corundums, for which the island has been long celebrated. His Excellency smiled, and the company at large scarcely knew whether to treat the proposal as a joke or as a serious affair. Sir Samuel, however, was not a man to be quizzed out of his purposes; he begged to have a party of workmen sent to him next morning, and that each of the men might be furnished with a basket, a request which naturally produced a titter; for it was made in such a tone as led us to fancy the worthy Admiral expected to collect the rubies and garnets in as great profusion as his far-famed predecessor, Sinbad the sailor, found them in the Valley of Diamonds.

His precise plan he kept to himself till he reached the river, in which the finest stones are said to be found, the alluvial strip of ground bordering which was formed chiefly of fine gravel mixed with sand, leaves, and mud. Here he desired the men to fill their baskets, and to carry the whole mass, just as they picked it up, to one of the ship's boats, which he had directed to meet him at the landing-place.

Not a word more was said on the subject at Government-house, nor on board the ship, till a couple of days after we had left Columbo, when the Admiral ordered the bag of gravel into his cabin, along with a great tub of water and half-a-dozen wash-deck buckets. The whole stuff collected on shore was now thoroughly cleaned, and when only the gravel remained, it was divided into a number of small portions, and laid on plates and dishes on the table of the fore-cabin. As soon as all was arranged, the Admiral, who superintended the operation, called out, "Send all the young gentlemen in the ship, and let every one take a plateful of gravel before him, to catch what jewels he can."

Before the party had time to assemble, the delighted Admiral had himself discovered in his own dish three or four small garnets, one ruby, and several small crystals of corundum. By-and-bye, to the astonishment of every one, a collection was made, which not only furnished the promised ring to the governor's lady, but half-a-dozen others of equal beauty. These precious stones were certainly not of the largest dimensions; but, for all that, the Admiral established his point.

Printer's Flower

CHAPTER XX.

CEYLONESE CANOES—PERUVIAN BALSAS—THE FLOATING WINDLASS OF THE COROMANDEL FISHERMEN.

The canoes of Ceylon, as far as I remember, are not described by any writer, nor have I met with any professional men who are aware of their peculiar construction, and of the advantages of the extremely elegant principle upon which they are contrived, though capable, I am persuaded, of being applied to various purposes of navigation.

Among the lesser circumstances which appear to form characteristic points of distinction between country and country may be mentioned the head-dress of the men, and the form and rig of their boats. An endless variety of turbans, sheep-skin caps, and conical bonnets, distinguish the Asiatics from the "Toppee Wallas" or hat-wearers of Europe; and a still greater variety exists amongst the boats of different nations. My purpose, just now, however, is to speak of boats and canoes alone; and it is really most curious to observe, that their size, form, cut of sails, description of oar and rudder, length of mast and so on, are not always entirely regulated by the peculiar climate of the locality, but made to depend on a caprice which it is difficult to account for. The boats of some countries are so extremely unstable, and altogether without bearings, that the smallest weight on one side more than on the other upsets them. This applies to the canoes of the North American Indian, which require considerable practice, even in the smoothest water, to keep them upright; and yet the Indians cross immense lakes in them, although the surface of those vast sheets of fresh water is often as rough as that of any salt sea. The waves, it is true, are not so long and high; but they are very awkward to deal with, from their abruptness, and the rapidity with which they get up when a breeze sets in.

On those parts of the coast of the United States where the seasons are alternately very fine and very rough, our ingenious friends, the Americans, have contrived a set of pilot-boats, which are the delight of every sailor. This description of vessel, as the name implies, must always be at sea, as it is impossible to tell when her services may be required by ships steering in for the harbour's mouth. Accordingly, the Baltimore clippers and the New York pilots defy the elements in a style which it requires a long apprenticeship to the difficulties and discomforts of a wintry navigation, in a stormy latitude, duly to appreciate. In the fine weather, smooth water, and light winds of summer, these pilot-boats skim over the surface with the ease and swiftness of a swallow, apparently just touching the water with their prettily formed hulls, which seem too small to bear the immense load of snow-white canvas swelling above them, and shooting them along as if by magic, when every other vessel is lost in the calm, and when even taunt-masted ships can barely catch a breath of air to fill their sky-sails and royal studding-sails. They are truly "water-witches;" for, while they look so delicate and fragile that one feels at first as if the most moderate breeze must brush them from the face of the ocean, and scatter to the winds all their gay drapery, they can and do defy, as a matter of habit and choice, the most furious gales with which the rugged "sea-board" of America is visited in February and March.

I have seen a pilot-boat off New York, in the morning, in a calm, with all her sails set, lying asleep on the water, which had subsided into such perfect stillness that we could count the seam of each cloth in the mirror beneath her, and it became difficult to tell which was the reflected image, which the true vessel. And yet, within a few hours, I have observed the same boat, with only her close-reefed foresail set—no one visible on her decks—and the sea running mountains high, threatening to swallow her up. Nevertheless, the beautiful craft rose as buoyantly on the back of the waves as any duck, and, moreover, glanced along their surface, and kept so good a wind, that, ere long, she shot ahead, and weathered our ship. Before the day was done, she could scarcely be distinguished from the mast-head to windward, though we had been labouring in the interval under every sail we could safely carry.

The balsas of Peru, the catamarans and masullah boats of the Coromandel coast, and the flying proas of the South Sea Islands, have all been described before, and their respective merits dwelt upon, by Cook, Vancouver, Ulloa, and others. Each in its way, and on its proper spot, seems to possess qualities which it is difficult to communicate to vessels similarly constructed at a distance. The boats of each country, indeed, may be said to possess a peculiar language, understood only by the natives of the countries to which they belong; and truly, the manner in which the vessels of some regions behave, under the guidance of their respective masters, seems almost to imply that the boats themselves are gifted with animal intelligence. At all events, their performance never fails to excite the highest professional admiration of those whom experience has rendered familiar with the difficulties to be overcome.

Long acquaintance with the local tides, winds, currents, and other circumstances of the pilotage, and the constant pressure of necessity, enable the inhabitants of each particular spot to acquire such masterly command over their machinery, that no new-comer, however well provided, or however skilful generally, can expect to cope with them. Hence it arises, that boats of a man-of-war are found almost invariably inferior, in some respects, to those of the port at which she touches. The effect of seeking to adapt our boats to any one particular place would be to render them less serviceable upon the whole. After remaining some time at a place, we might succeed in occasionally outsailing or outrowing the natives; but what sort of a figure would our boats cut at the next point to which the ship might be ordered—say a thousand miles farther from, or nearer to, the equator, where all the circumstances would be totally different. We should have to change again and again, losing time at each place, and probably not gaining, after all, any of the real advantages which the natives long resident on the spot alone know the art of applying to practice.

The hull or body of the Ceylonese canoe is formed, like that of Robinson Crusoe's, out of the trunk of a single tree, wrought in its middle part into a perfectly smooth cylinder, but slightly flattened and turned up at both ends, which are made exactly alike. It is hollowed out in the usual way, but not cut so much open at top as we see in other canoes, for considerably more than half of the outside part of the cylinder or barrel is left entire, with only a narrow slit, eight or ten inches wide, above. If such a vessel were placed in the water, it would possess very little stability, even when not loaded with any weight on its upper edges. But there is built upon it a set of wooden upper works, in the shape of a long trough, extending from end to end; and the top-heaviness of this addition to the hull would instantly overturn the vessel, unless some device were applied to preserve its upright position. This purpose is accomplished by means of an out-rigger on one side, consisting of two curved poles, or slender but tough spars, laid across the canoe at right-angles to its length, and extending to the distance of twelve, fifteen, or even twenty feet, where they join a small log of buoyant wood, about half as long as the canoe, and lying parallel to it, with both its ends turned up like the toe of a slipper, to prevent its dipping into the waves. The inner ends of these transverse poles are securely bound by thongs to the raised gunwales of the canoe. The out-rigger, which is always kept to windward, acting by its weight at the end of so long a lever, prevents the vessel from turning over by the pressure of the sail; or, should the wind shift suddenly, so as to bring the sail aback, the buoyancy of the floating log would prevent the canoe from upsetting on that side by retaining the out-rigger horizontal. The mast, which is very taunt, or lofty, supports a lug-sail of immense size, and is stepped exactly in midships, that is, at the same distance from both ends of the canoe. The yard, also, is slung precisely in the middle; and while the tack of the sail is made fast at one extremity of the hull, the opposite corner, or clew, to which the sheet is attached, hauls aft to the other end. Shrouds extend from the mast-head to the gunwale of the canoe; besides which, slender backstays are carried to the extremity of the out-rigger; and these ropes, by reason of their great spread, give such powerful support to the mast, though loaded with a prodigious sail, that a very slender spar is sufficient.

The method of working the sails of these canoes is as follows. They proceed in one direction as far as may be deemed convenient, and then, without going about, or turning completely round as we do, they merely change the stern of the canoe into the head, by shifting the tack of the sail over to leeward, and so converting it into the sheet—while the other clew, being shifted up to windward, becomes the tack. As soon as these changes have been made, away spins the little fairy bark on her new course, but always keeping the same side, or that on which the out-rigger is placed to windward. It will be easily understood that the pressure of the sail has a tendency to lift the weight at the extremity of the out-rigger above the surface of the water. In sailing along, therefore, the log just skims the tops of the waves, but scarcely ever buries itself in them, so that little or no interruption to the velocity of the canoe is caused by the out-rigger. When the breeze freshens so much as to lift the weight higher than the natives like, one, and sometimes two of them, walk out on the horizontal spars, so as to add their weight to that of the out-rigger. In order to enable them to accomplish this purpose in safety, a "man rope," about breast high, extends over each of the spars from the mast to the backstays.

But of all the ingenious native contrivances for turning small means to good account, one of the most curious, and, under certain circumstances, perhaps the most useful, is the balsa, or raft of South America, or, as it is called on some part of the coast, the catamaran. The simplest form of the raft, or balsa, is that of five, seven, or nine large beams of very light wood, from fifty to sixty feet long, arranged side by side, with the longest spar placed in the centre. These logs are firmly held together by cross-bars, lashings, and stout planking near the ends. They vary from fifteen to twenty, and even thirty feet in width. I have seen some at Guayaquil of an immense size, formed of logs as large as a frigate's foremast. These are intended for conveying goods to Paita, and other places along-shore. The balsa generally carries only one large sail, which is hoisted to what we call a pair of shears, formed by two poles crossing at the top, where they are lashed together. It is obvious that it would be difficult to step a mast securely to a raft in the manner it is done in a ship. It is truly astonishing to see how fast these singular vessels go through the water; but it is still more curious to observe how accurately they can be steered, and how effectively they may be handled in all respects like any ordinary vessel.

The method by which the balsas are directed in their course is extremely ingenious, and is that to which I should wish to call the attention of sailors, not merely as a matter of curiosity, but from its practical utility in seamanship. No officer can tell how soon he may be called upon to place his crew on a raft, should his ship be wrecked; and yet, unless he has been previously made aware of some method of steering it, no purpose may be answered but that of protracting the misery of the people under his charge. Nothing can be more simple, or more easy of application, than the South American contrivance. Near both ends of the centre spar there is cut a perpendicular slit, about a couple of inches wide by one or two feet in length. Into each of these holes a broad plank, called guaras by the natives, is inserted in such a way that it may be thrust down to the depth of ten or twelve feet, or it may be drawn up entirely. The slits are so cut, that, when the raft is in motion, the edges of these planks shall meet the water. It is clear, that if both the guaras be thrust quite down, and held fast in a perpendicular direction, they will offer a broad surface towards the side, and thus, by acting like the leeboards of a river-barge, or the keel of a ship, prevent the balsa from drifting sidewise or dead to leeward. But while these guaras serve the purpose of a keel, they also perform the important duty of a rudder, the rationale of which every sailor will understand, upon considering the effect which must follow upon pulling either up the guara in the bow or that in the stern. Suppose, when the wind is on the beam, the foremost one drawn up; that end of the raft will instantly have a tendency to drift to leeward, from the absence of the lateral support it previously received from its guara or keel at the bow; or, in sea language, the balsa will immediately "fall off," and in time she will come right before the wind. On the other hand, if the foremost guara be kept down while the sternmost one is drawn up, the balsa's head, or bow, will gradually come up towards the wind, in consequence of that end retaining its hold of the water by reason of its guara, while the stern end, being relieved from its lateral support, drifts to leeward. Thus, by judiciously raising or lowering one or both the guaras, the raft may not only be steered with the greatest nicety, but may be tacked or wore, or otherwise directed, with precision.

I never shall forget the sensation produced in a ship I commanded one evening on the coast of Peru, as we steered towards the roadstead of Payta. An immense balsa was dashing out before the land-wind, and sending a snowy wreath of foam before her like that which curls up before the bow of a frigate in chase. As long as she was kept before the wind, we could understand this in some degree; but when she hauled up in order to round the point, and having made a stretch along-shore, proceeded to tack, we could scarcely believe our eyes. Had the celebrated Flying Dutchman sailed past us, our wonder could hardly have been more excited.

It will generally be found well worth an officer's attention to remark in what manner the natives of any coast, however rude they may be, contrive to perform difficult tasks. Such things may be very simple and easy for us to execute, when we have all the appliances and means of our full equipment at command; but, as circumstances may often occur to deprive us of many of those means, and thus, virtually, to reduce us to the condition of the natives, it becomes of consequence to ascertain how necessity, the venerable mother of invention, has taught people so situated to do the required work. For example, it is generally easy for a ship of war to pick up her anchor with her own boats; but it will sometimes happen that the launch and other large boats may be stove, and then it may prove of consequence to know how a heavy anchor can be weighed without a boat at all.

We happened, in his Majesty's ship Minden, to run upon the Coleroon shoal, off the mouth of the great river of that name, about a hundred miles south of Madras. After laying out a bower anchor, and hauling the ship off, we set about preparing the boats to weigh it in the usual way. But the master-attendant of Porto Novo, who had come off to our assistance with a fleet of canoes and rafts, suggested to Sir Samuel Hood that it might he a good opportunity to try the skill of the natives, who were celebrated for their expertness in raising great weights from the bottom. The proposal was one which delighted the Admiral, who enjoyed everything that was new. He posted himself accordingly in his barge near the spot, but he allowed the task to be turned over entirely to the black fellows, whom he ordered to be supplied with ropes, spars, and anything else they required from the ship. The officers and sailors, in imitation of their chief, clustered themselves in wondering groups in the rigging, in the chains, and in the boats, to witness the strange spectacle of a huge bower anchor, weighing nearly four tons, raised off the ground by a set of native fishermen, possessed of no canoe larger than the smallest gig on board.

The master-attendant stood interpreter, and passed backwards and forwards between the ship and the scene of operations—not to direct, but merely to signify what things the natives required for their purpose. They first begged us to have a couple of spare topmasts and topsail-yards, with a number of smaller spars, such as top-gallant masts and studding-sail booms. Out of these they formed, with wonderful speed, an exceedingly neat cylindrical raft, between two and three feet in diameter. They next bound the whole closely together by lashings, and filled up all its inequalities with capstan-bars, handspikes, and other small spars, so as to make it a compact, smooth, and uniform cylinder from end to end. Nothing could be more dexterous or seaman-like than the style in which these fellows swam about and passed the lashings; in fact, they appeared to be as much at home in the water as our sailors were in the boats or in the rigging.

A stout seven-inch hawser was now sent down by the buoy-rope, and the running clinch or noose formed on its end, placed over the fluke of the anchor in the usual way. A couple of round turns were then taken with the hawser at the middle part of the cylindrical raft, after it had been drawn up as tight as possible from the anchor. A number of slew-ropes, I think about sixty or seventy in all, were next passed round the cylinder several times, in the opposite direction to the round turns taken with the hawser.

Upwards of a hundred of the natives now mounted the raft, and, after dividing themselves into pairs, and taking hold of the slew-ropes in their hands, pulled them up as tight as they could. By this effort they caused the cylinder to turn round till its further revolutions were stopped by the increasing tightness of the hawser, which was wound on the cylinder as fast as the slew-ropes were wound off it. When all the ropes had been drawn equally tight, and the whole party of men had been ranged along the top in an erect posture, with their faces all turned one way, a signal was given by one of the principal natives. At this moment the men, one and all, still grasping their respective slew-ropes firmly in their hands, and without bending a joint in their whole bodies, fell simultaneously on their backs, flat on the water! The effect of this sudden movement was to turn the cylinder a full quadrant, or one quarter of a revolution. This, of course, brought a considerable strain on the hawser fixed to the anchor. On a second signal being given, every alternate pair of men gradually crept up the spars by means of their slew-ropes, till one-half of the number stood once more along the top of the cylinder, while the other half of the party still lay flat on the water, and by their weight prevented the cylinder rolling back again.

When the next signal was given, those natives who had regained their original position on the top of the cylinder threw themselves down once more, while those who already lay prostrate gathered in the slack of their slew-ropes with the utmost eagerness as the cylinder revolved another quarter of a turn. It soon became evident that the anchor had fairly begun to rise off the ground, for the buoy-rope, which at first had been bowsed taught over the stern of our launch, became quite slack.

I forget how many successive efforts were made by the natives before the anchor was lifted; but, in the end, it certainly was raised completely off the ground by their exertions alone. The natives, however, complained of the difficulty being much greater than they had expected in consequence of the great size of our anchor. In fact, when at length they had wound the hawser on the cylinder so far that it carried the full weight, the whole number of the natives lay stretched on the water in a horizontal position, apparently afraid to move, lest the weight, if not uniformly distributed amongst them, might prove too great, and the anchor drop again to the bottom, by the returning revolutions of the cylinder. When this was explained to Sir Samuel Hood, he ordered the people in the launch to bowse away at the buoy-rope. This proved a most seasonable relief to the poor natives, who, however, declared, that, if it were required, they would go on, and bring up the anchor fairly to the water's edge. As the good-natured Admiral would not permit this, the huge anchor, cylinder, natives, launch, and all, were drawn into deep water were the ship lay. The master-attendant now explained to the natives that they had nothing more to do than to continue lying flat and still on the water, till the people on board the ship, by heaving in the cable, should bring the anchor to the bows, and thus relieve them of their burden. The officer of the launch was also instructed not to slack the buoy-rope till the cable had got the full weight of the anchor, and the natives required no farther help.

Nothing could be more distinctly given than those orders, so that I cannot account for the panic which seized some of the natives when close to the ship. Whatever was the cause, its effect was such that many of them let go their slew-ropes, and thus cast a disproportionate share of burden on the others, whose strength, or rather weight, proving unequal to counterpoise the load, the cylinder began to turn back again. This soon brought the whole strain, or nearly the whole, on the stern of the launch, and had not the tackle been smartly let go, she must have been drawn under water and swamped. The terrified natives now lost all self-possession, as the mighty anchor shot rapidly to the bottom. The cylinder of course whirled round with prodigious velocity as the hawser unwound itself; and so suddenly had the catastrophe occurred, that many of the natives, not having presence of mind to let go their slew-ropes, held fast and were whisked round and round several times alternately under water beneath the cylinder and on the top of it, not unlike the spokes of a coach-wheel wanting the rim.

The Admiral was in the greatest alarm, lest some of these poor fellows should get entangled with the ropes and be drowned, or be dashed against one another, and beaten to pieces against the cylinder. It was a great relief, therefore, to find that no one was in the least degree hurt, though some of the natives had been soused most soundly, or, as the Jacks said, who grinned at the whole affair, "keel-hauled in proper style."

In a certain sense, then, this experiment may be said to have failed; but enough was done to show that it might be rendered exceedingly effective on many occasions. The Admiral, one of the best practical sailors of his day, thus explained it:—

"In the first place," said Sir Samuel, "you must observe, youngsters, that this device of the natives is neither more nor less than a floating windlass, where the buoyant power of the timber serves the purpose of a support to the axis. The men fixed by the slew-ropes to the cylinder, represent the handspikes or bars by which the windlass is turned round, and the hawser takes the place of the cable. But," continued he, "there appears to be no reason why the cylinder should be made equally large along its whole length; and were I to repeat this experiment, I would make the middle part, round which the hawser was to be passed, of a single topmast, while I would swell out the ends of my cylinder or raft to three or four feet in diameter. In this way a great increase of power would evidently be gained by those who worked the slew-ropes. In the next place," said the Admiral, "it is clear that either the buoy-rope, or another hawser also fastened to the anchor, as a 'preventer,' ought to be carried round the middle part of the cylinder, but in the opposite direction to that of the weighing hawser. This second hawser should be hauled tight round at the end of each successive quarter-turn gained by the men. If this were done, all tendency in the cylinder to turn one way more than the other would be prevented; for each of the hawsers would bear an equal share of the weight of the anchor, and being wound upon the raft in opposite directions, would of course counteract each other's tendency to slew it round. The whole party of men, instead of only one-half of them, might then mount the spars; and thus their united strength could be exerted at each effort, and in perfect security, against the formidable danger of the cylinder whirling back by the anchor gaining the mastery over them, and dropping again to the bottom. But without using their clumsy, though certainly very ingenious, machinery of turning men into handspikes, I think," said he, "we might construct our floating windlass in such a way that a set of small spars—studding-sail booms, for instance—might be inserted at right angles to its length, like the bars of a capstan, and these, if swifted together, could be worked from the boats, without the necessity of any one going into the water."

While speaking of the dexterity of the natives of India, I may mention a feat which interested us very much. A strong party of hands from the ship were sent one day to remove an anchor, weighing seventy-five hundred-weight, from one part of Bombay dockyard to another, but, from the want of some place to attach their tackle to, they could not readily transport it along the wharf. Various devices were tried in vain by the sailors, whose strength, if it could have been brought to bear, would have proved much more than enough for the task. In process of time, no doubt, they would have fallen upon some method of accomplishing their purpose; but while they were discussing various projects, one of the superintendents said he thought his party of native coolies or labourers could lift the anchor and carry it to any part of the yard. This proposal was received by our Johnnies with a loud laugh; for the numbers of the natives did not much exceed their own, and the least powerful of the seamen could readily, at least in his own estimation, have demolished half-a-dozen of the strongest of these slender Hindoos.

To work they went, however, while Jack looked on with great attention. Their first operation was to lay a jib-boom horizontally, and nearly along the shank of the anchor. This being securely lashed to the shank, and also to the stock, the whole length of the spar was crossed at right angles by capstan bars, to the ends of which as many handspikes as there was room for were lashed also at right angles. In this way, every cooly of the party could obtain a good hold, and exert his strength to the greatest purpose. I forget how many natives were applied to this service; but in the course of a very few minutes, their preparations being completed, the ponderous anchor was lifted a few inches from the ground, to the wonder and admiration of the British seamen, who cheered the black fellows, and patted them on the back as they trotted along the wharf with their load, which appeared to oppress them no more than if it had been the jolly boat's grapnel!

Printer's Flower

CHAPTER XXI.

THE SURF AT MADRAS.

From Ceylon we proceeded after a time to Madras roads, where we soon became well acquainted with all the outs and ins of the celebrated surf of that place. This surf, after all, is not really higher than many which one meets with in other countries; but certainly it is the highest and most troublesome which exists as a permanent obstruction in front of a great commercial city. The ingenuity and perseverance of man, however, have gone far to surmount this difficulty; and now the passage to and from the beach at Madras offers hardly any serious interruption to the intercourse. Still, it is by no means an agreeable operation to pass through the surf under any circumstances; and occasionally, during the north-east monsoon, it is attended with some danger. For the first two or three times, I remember thinking it very good sport to cross the surf, and sympathised but little with the anxious expressions of some older hands who accompanied me. The boat, the boatmen, their curious oars, the strange noises they made, and the attendant catamarans to pick up the passengers if the boat upsets, being all new to my eyes, and particularly odd in themselves, so strongly engaged my attention, that I had no leisure to think of the danger till the boat was cast violently on the beach. The very first time I landed, the whole party were pitched out heels over head on the shore. I thought it a mighty odd way of landing; but supposing it to be all regular and proper, I scrambled up the wet sand, and merely muttered,—"What the devil will the fellows do next?"

The surf at Madras consists of two distinct lines of breakers on the beach, running parallel to each other and to the shore. These foaming ridges are caused by a succession of waves curling over and breaking upon bars or banks, formed probably by the reflux action of the sea carrying the sand outwards. The surf itself, unquestionably, owes its origin to the long sand of the ocean-swell coming across the Bay of Bengal, a sweep of nearly five hundred miles, from the coasts of Arracan, the Malay peninsula, and the island of Sumatra. This huge swell is scarcely perceptible in the fathomless Indian sea; but when the mighty oscillation reaches the shelving shores of Coromandel, its vibrations are checked by the bottom. The mass of waters, which up to this point had merely sunk and risen, that is, vibrated without any real progressive motion, is then driven forwards to the land, where, from the increasing shallowness, it finds less and less room for its "wild waves' play," and finally rises above the general level of the sea in threatening ridges. I know few things more alarming to nautical nerves than the sudden and mysterious "lift of the swell," which hurries a ship upwards when she has chanced to get too near the shore, and when, in consequence of the deadness of the calm, she can make no way to seaward, but is gradually hove nearer and nearer to the roaring surge.

At last, when the great ocean-wave approaches the beach, and the depth of water is much diminished, the velocity of so vast a mass sweeping along the bottom, though greatly accelerated, becomes inadequate to fulfil the conditions of the oscillation, and it has no resource but to curl into a high and toppling wave. So that this moving ridge of waters, after careering forwards with a front high in proportion to the impulse behind, and for a length of time regulated by the degree of abruptness in the rise of the shore, at last dashes its monstrous head with a noise extremely like thunder along the endless coast.

Often, indeed, when on shore at Madras, have I lain in bed awake, with open windows, for hours together, listening, at the distance of many a league, to the sound of these waves, and almost fancying I could still feel the tremour of the ground, always distinctly perceptible near the beach. When the distance is great, and the actual moment at which the sea breaks ceases to be distinguishable, and when a long range of coast is within hearing, the unceasing roar of the surf in a serene night, heard over the level plains of the Carnatic shore, is wonderfully interesting.

Any attempt to pass the surf in an ordinary boat is seldom thought of. I remember hearing of a naval officer who crossed once in his jolly-boat in safety, but on a second trial he was swamped, and both he and his crew well-nigh drowned. The masullah boats of the country resemble nothing to be seen elsewhere. They have flat bottoms, perpendicular sides, and abruptly pointed ends, being twelve or fourteen feet long by five or six broad, and four or five feet high. Not a single nail enters into their construction, all the planks being held together by cords or lacings. Along the planks, at a short distance from the edge, are bored a set of holes, through which the lacing or cord is to pass. A layer of cotton is then interposed between the planks, and along the seam is laid a flat narrow strip of a fibry and tough kind of wood. The cord is next rove through the holes and passed over the strip, so that when it is pulled tight the planks are not only drawn into as close contact as the interposed cotton will allow of, but the long strip is pressed against the seam so effectually as to exclude the water. The wood of which these boats are constructed is so elastic and tough, that when they take the ground, either by accident or in regular course of service, the part which touches yields to the pressure without breaking, and bulges inwards almost as readily as if it were made of shoe-leather. Under similar circumstances, an ordinary boat, fitted with a keel, timbers, and planks nailed together, not being pliable, would be shivered to pieces.

At the after or sternmost end a sort of high poop-deck passes from side to side, on which the steersman takes his post. He holds in his hand an oar or paddle, which consists of a pole ten or twelve feet long, carrying at its extremity a circular disc of wood about a foot or a foot and a-half in diameter. The oars used by the six hands who pull the masullah boat are similar to that held by the steersman, who is always a person of long experience and known skill, as well as courage and coolness—qualities indispensable to the safety of the passage when the surf is high. The rowers sit upon high thwarts and their oars are held by grummets, or rings made of rope, to pins inserted in the gunwale, so that they can be let go and resumed at pleasure, without risk of being lost. The passengers, wretched victims! seat themselves on a cross bench about a foot lower than the seats of the rowers, and close in front of the raised poop or steersman's deck, which is nearly on a level with the gunwale.

The whole process of landing, from the moment of leaving the ship till you feel yourself safe on the crown of the beach is as disagreeable as can be; and I can only say for myself that every time I crossed the surf it rose in my respect. At the eighth or tenth transit I began really to feel uncomfortable; at the twentieth I felt considerable apprehension of being well ducked; and at about the thirtieth time of crossing, I almost fancied there was but little chance of escaping a watery grave, with sharks for sextons, and the wild surf for a dirge! The truth is that at each successive time of passing this formidable barrier of surf we become better and better acquainted with the dangers and possibilities of accidents.

However, as all persons intending to go ashore at Madras must pass through the surf, they step with what courage they can muster into their boat alongside the ship, anchored in the roads a couple of miles off, in consequence of the water being too shallow for large vessels. The boat then shoves off, and rows to the "back of the surf," where it is usual to let go a grapnel, or to lie on the oars till the masullah boat comes out. The back of the surf is that part of the roadstead lying immediately beyond the place where the first indication is given of the tendency in the swell to rise into a wave; and no boat not expressly fitted for the purpose ever goes nearer to the shore, but lies off till the "bar-boat" makes her way through the surf, and lays herself alongside the ship's boat. A scrambling kind of boarding operation now takes place, to the last degree inconvenient to ladies and other shore-going persons not accustomed to climbing. As the gunwale of the masullah boat rises three or four feet above the water, the step is a long and troublesome one to make, even by those who are not encumbered with petticoats—those sad impediments to locomotion—devised by the men, as I heard a Chinaman remark, expressly to check the rambling propensities of the softer sex, always too prone, he alleged, to yield to wandering impulses without such encumbrances! I know to my cost, from many a broken shin, that even gentlemen bred afloat may contrive to slip in removing from one boat to the other, especially if the breeze be fresh, and there be what mariners call a "bubble of a sea." In a little while, however, all the party are tumbled, or hoisted into the masullah boat, where they seat themselves on the cross-bench, marvellously like so many culprits on a hurdle on their way to execution! Ahead of them roars and boils a furious ridge of terrific breakers, while close at their ears behind, stamps and bawls, or rather yells, the steersman, who takes this method of communicating his wishes to his fellow-boatmen. The steersman stands on his poop, or quarter-deck, just behind the miserable passengers, whose heads reach not quite so high as his knees. His oar rests in a crutch on the top of the stern-post, and not only serves as a rudder, but gives him the power to slew or twist the boat round with considerable rapidity, when aided by the efforts of the rowers. It is necessary for the steersman to wait for a favourable moment to enter the surf, otherwise the chances are that the boat will be upset, in the manner I shall describe presently. People are frequently kept waiting in this way for ten or twenty minutes, at the back of the surf, before a proper opportunity presents itself.

During all this while, the experienced eye of the veteran skipper abaft glances backwards and forwards from the swell rolling in from the open sea, to the surf which is breaking close to him. From time to time he utters a half word to his crew, with that kind of faint interrogative tone in which a commanding-officer indulges when he is sure of acquiescence on the part of those under him, and is careless whether they answer or not. In general, however, he remains quite silent during this first stage of the passage, as do also the rowers, who either rest the paddles horizontally, or allow their circular blades to float on the surface of the water. Meanwhile the boat rolls from side to side, or is heaved smartly upwards as the swell, just on the eve of breaking, lifts her into the air, and then drops her again into the hollow with the most sea-sickening velocity. I should state, that, during this wofully unpleasant interval, the masullah boat is placed sideways to the line of surf, parallel to the shore, and, of course, exactly in the trough of the sea.

I have often watched with the closest attention to discover what were the indications by which these experienced boatmen inferred that the true moment was arrived when it was safe to enter the surf, but I never could make out enough to be of much professional utility. It was clear, indeed, that the proper instant for making the grand push occurred when one of the highest waves was about to break—for the greater the dash, the greater the lull after it. But how these fellows managed to discover, beforehand, that the wave, upon the back of which they chose to ride in, was of that exact description, I could never discover. On the approach of a swell which he knows will answer his purpose, the steersman, suddenly changing his quiet and almost contemplative air for a look of intense anxiety, grasps his oar with double firmness, and exerting his utmost strength of muscle, forces the boat's stern round, so that her head may point to the shore. At the same time he urges his crew to exert themselves, partly by violent stampings with his feet, partly by loud and vehement exhortations, and partly by a succession of horrid yells, in which the sounds Yarry! Yarry!! Yarry!!! predominate—indicating to the ears of a stranger the very reverse of self-confidence, and filling the soul of a nervous passenger with infinite alarm.

Those fearful noises are loudly re-echoed by all the other men, who strain themselves so vigorously at the oars, that the boat, flying forwards, almost keeps way with the wave, on the back of which it is the object of the steersman to keep her. As she is swept impetuously towards the bar, a person seated in the boat can distinctly feel the sea under him gradually rising under a sheer wave, and lifting the boat up—and up—and up, in a manner exceedingly startling. At length the ridge, near the summit of which the boat is placed, begins to curl, and its edge just breaks into a line of white fringe along the upper edge of the perpendicular face presented to the shore, towards which it is advancing with vast rapidity. The grand object of the boatmen now appears to consist in maintaining their position, not on the very crown of the wave, but a little further to seaward, down the slope, so as to ride upon its shoulders, as it were. The importance of this precaution becomes apparent, when the curling surge, no longer able to maintain its elevation, is dashed furiously forwards, and dispersed into an immense sheet of foam, broken by innumerable eddies and whirlpools, into a confused sea of irregular waves rushing tumultuously together, and casting the spray high into the air by impinging one against the other. This furious turmoil often whirls the masullah boat round and round, in spite of the despairing outcries of the steersman, and the redoubled exertions of his screaming crew, half of whom back their oars, while the other half tug away in vain endeavours to keep her head in the right direction.

I have endeavoured to describe the correct and safe method of riding over the surf on the outer bar upon the back of the wave, a feat in all conscience sufficiently ticklish; but woe betide the poor masullah boat which shall be a little too far in advance of her proper place, so that, when the wave curls over and breaks, she may be pitched head foremost over the brink of the watery precipice, and strikes her nose on the sandbank. Even then, if there happen, by good luck, to be depth of water over the bar sufficient to float her, she may still escape; but, should the sand be left bare, or nearly so, as happens sometimes, the boat is almost sure to strike, if, instead of keeping on the back or shoulder of the wave, she incautiously precedes it. In that unhappy case she is instantly tumbled forwards, heels over head, while the crew and passengers are sent sprawling amongst the foam.

Between the sharks and the catamaran men a race then takes place—the one to save, the other to destroy—the very Brahmas and Shivas of the surf! These accidents, however, are so very rare, that during all the time I was in India I never witnessed one.

There is still a second surf to pass, which breaks on the inner bar, about forty or fifty yards nearer to the shore. The boatmen try to cross this, and to approach so near the beach, that, when the next wave breaks, they shall be so far ahead of it that it may not dash into the boat and swamp her, and yet not so far out as to prevent their profiting by its impulse to drive them up the steep face of sand forming the long-wished-for shore. The rapidity with which the masullah boat is at last cast on the beach is sometimes quite fearful, and the moment she thumps on the ground, as the wave recedes, most startling. I have seen persons pitched completely off their seats, and more than once I have myself been fairly turned over with all the party, like a parcel of fish cast out of a basket! In general, no such untoward events take place, and the boat at length rests on the sand, with her stern to the sea. But as yet she is by no means far enough up the beach to enable the passengers to get out with comfort or safety. Before the next wave breaks, the bow and sides of the boat have been seized by numbers of the natives on the shore, who greatly assist the impulse when the wave comes, both by keeping her in a straight course, and likewise by preventing her upsetting. These last stages of the process are very disagreeable, for every time the surf reaches the boat, it raises her up and lets her fall again, with a violent jerk. When at last she is high enough to remain beyond the wash of the surf, you either jump out, or more frequently descend by means of a ladder, as you would get off the top of a stage-coach; and, turning about, you look with astonishment at what you have gone through, and thank Heaven you are safe!

The return passage from the shore to a ship, in a masullah boat, is more tedious, but less dangerous, than the process of landing. This difference will easily be understood, when it is recollected that in one case the boat is carried impetuously forward by the waves, and that all power of retarding her progress on the part of the boatmen ceases after a particular moment. In going from the shore, however, the boat is kept continually under management, and the talents and experience of the steersman regulate the affair throughout. He watches, just inside the surf, till a smooth moment occurs, generally after a high sea has broken, and then he endeavours, by great exertions, to avail himself of the moment of comparative tranquillity which follows, to force his way across the bar before another sea comes. If he detects, as he is supposed to have it always in his power to do, that another sea is on the rise, which will, in all probability, curl up and break over him before he can row over its crest and slide down its back, his duty is, to order his men to back their oars with their utmost speed and strength. This retrograde movement withdraws her from the blow, or, at all events, allows the wave to strike her with diminished violence at the safest point, and in water of sufficient depth to prevent the boat taking the ground injuriously, to the risk of her being turned topsy-turvy. I have, in fact, often been in these masullah boats when they have struck violently on the bar, and have seen their flat and elastic bottoms bulge inwards in the most alarming manner, but I never saw any of the planks break or the seams open so as to admit the water.

It is very interesting to watch the progress of those honest catamaran fellows, who live almost entirely in the surf, and who, independently of their chief purpose of attending the masullah boats, are much employed as messengers to the ships in the roads, even in the worst weather. I remember one day being sent with a note for the commanding officer of the flag-ship, which Sir Samuel Hood was very desirous should be sent on board; but as the weather was too tempestuous to allow even a masullah boat to pass the surf, I was obliged to give it to a catamaran man. The poor fellow drew off his head a small skull-cap, made apparently of some kind of skin, or oil-cloth, or bladder, and having deposited his despatches therein, proceeded to execute his task.

We really thought, at first, that our messenger must have been drowned even in crossing the inner bar, for we well-nigh lost sight of him in the hissing yeast of waves in which he and his catamaran appeared only at intervals, tossing about like a cork. But by far the most difficult part of his task remained after he had reached the comparatively smooth space between the two lines of surf, where we could observe him paddling to and fro as if in search of an opening in the moving wall of water raging between him and the roadstead. He was watching for a favourable moment, when, after the dash of some high wave, he might hope to make good his transit in safety.

After allowing a great many seas to break before he attempted to cross the outer bar, he at length seized the proper moment, and turning his little bark to seaward, paddled out as fast as he could. Just as the gallant fellow, however, reached the shallowest part of the bar, and we fancied him safely across, a huge wave, which had risen with unusual quickness, elevated its foaming crest right before him, curling upwards many feet higher than his shoulders. In a moment he cast away his paddle, and leaping on his feet, he stood erect on his catamaran, watching with a bold front the advancing bank of water. He kept his position, quite undaunted, till the steep face of the breaker came within a couple of yards of him, and then leaping head foremost, he pierced the wave in a horizontal direction with the agility and confidence of a dolphin. We had scarcely lost sight of his feet, as he shot through the heart of the wave, when such a dash took place as must have crushed him to pieces had he stuck by his catamaran, which was whisked instantly afterwards, by a kind of somerset, completely out of the water by its rebounding off the sandbank. On casting our eyes beyond the surf, we felt much relieved by seeing our shipwrecked friend merrily dancing on the waves at the back of the surf, leaping more than breast-high above the surface, and looking in all directions, first for his paddle, and then for his catamaran. Having recovered his oar, he next swam, as he best could, through the broken surf to his raft, mounted it like a hero, and once more addressed himself to his task.

By this time, as the current always runs fast along the shore, he had drifted several hundred yards to the northward farther from his point. At the second attempt to penetrate the surf, he seemed to have made a small miscalculation, for the sea broke so very nearly over him, before he had time to quit his catamaran and dive into still water, that we thought he must certainly have been drowned. Not a whit, however, did he appear to have suffered, for we soon saw him again swimming to his rude vessel. Many times in succession was he thus washed off and sent whirling towards the beach, and as often obliged to dive head foremost through the waves. But at last, after very nearly an hour of incessant struggling, and the loss of more than a mile of distance, he succeeded, for the first time, in reaching the back of the surf, without having parted company either with his paddle or with his catamaran. After this it became all plain sailing; he soon paddled off to the Roads, and placed the Admiral's letter in the first lieutenant's hands as dry as if it had been borne in a despatch-box across the court-yard of the Admiralty.

I remember one day, when on board the Minden, receiving a note from the shore by a catamaran lad, whom I told to wait for an answer. Upon this he asked for a rope, with which, as soon as it was given him, he made his little vessel fast, and lay down to sleep in the full blaze of a July sun. One of his arms and one of his feet hung in the water, though a dozen sharks had been seen cruising round the ship. A tacit contract, indeed, appears to exist between the sharks and these people, for I never saw, nor can I remember ever having heard of any injury done by one to the other. By the time my answer was written, the sun had dried up the spray on the poor fellow's body, leaving such a coating of salt, that he looked as if he had been dusted with flour. A few fanams—a small copper coin—were all his charge, and three or four broken biscuits in addition sent him away the happiest of mortals.

It is matter of considerable surprise to every one who has seen how well the chain-pier at Brighton stands the worst weather, that no similar work has been devised at Madras. The water is shallow, the surf does not extend very far from the beach, and there seems really no reason why a chain-pier should not be erected, which might answer not only for the accommodation of passengers, but for the transit of goods to and from the shore.

Printer's Flower

CHAPTER XXII.

VISIT TO THE SULTAN OF PONTIANA, IN BORNEO—SIR SAMUEL HOOD.

In the summer of 1814, Sir Samuel Hood made a voyage, in his Majesty's ship Minden, to the eastern parts of his station. We called first at Acheen, on the north end of the island of Sumatra, where we held some very amusing intercourse with the king of that district, whose capital the Admiral visited. From thence we steered over to Pulo Penang, or Prince of Wales' Island, and thence down the Straits of Malacca, entering the China Sea by the beautiful Straits of Sincapore. The Admiral's chief object was to visit Java; but as there lay three routes before him to choose between, viz. the Straits of Gaspar, the Straits of Banca, and the Caramata passage, he preferred taking the last and widest, which also led him near the western shore of the immense island of Borneo. On reaching the equator, he steered in for the mouth of the great river Lava, which passes the town of Pontiana. The weather being very favourable, the ship was anchored, and the barge got ready for an expedition.

At four in the morning, on receiving the joyful intimation that I was to be officer of the boat, I lost no time in getting together everything likely to be useful—a sextant, artificial horizon, spy-glass, chart, compass, and Nautical Almanac, besides a Malay Dictionary.

We had some little difficulty in finding our way in the barge, for the mouth of the river of Pontiana lay so completely hid amongst low cane-brakes, mangroves, and other aquatic trees and shrubs, which grow thickly along the western shores of Borneo, that, until we came quite close, no inlet was perceptible. The first hit we made proved wrong, and lost us three or four miles; and it was not till nearly noon that we reached the rush of fresh and troubled water, which indicated the true entrance. The Admiral desired greatly to observe the sun's meridian altitude. His Excellency, however, though he could command many things, could not command this; for although our fellows gave way lustily, so as to stem the current running out, and we had a full half-hour to spare, we could not effect a landing in good time. On reaching what had seemed the shore, no footing could be found anywhere. Even the little boat which we carried with us in tow of the barge, though she threaded the mangrove stems and roots, and went in much further than the barge, could not reach anything like dry land. As the main bank refused to afford us a resting-place, we put off, and rowed as briskly as we could to a small island about half-a-mile from this treacherous shore; but this, too, proved a cheat, for what we took to be solid ground consisted merely of a mass of green shrubs, growing on the ridge of a soft slippery mass of mud just peeping above the water.

As the sailors, by this time, were pretty well exhausted with rowing so long in the hot sun, they hailed with great joy the sea-breeze which just then set in. They soon stepped the masts, hoisted the sails, and laid the oars in.

"Now go to dinner, men," said the considerate chief, "this rattling breeze will not carry us up far, and you will pull all the better for a good bellyful."

Just as this judicious order was given, and while we were still laughing at the recent adventure, which reminded us of Sinbad's mistaking a whale for a solid rock, our eyes were attracted by the sight of another island, much smaller than the first. It seemed, indeed, like a little grove or tuft of palm-like foliage, rising out of the water somewhat in the fashion of our Prince of Wales' feather. None of the party had ever seen such a tree before, and every one tried to guess what it might be; but all were puzzled. At length, a diminutive moving black speck showed itself at the root, or centre, from which these fairy-like branches radiated.

"It is a rock with a tree on it," cried one.

"Nonsense!" said Sir Samuel, "there are no rocks hereabouts; the soil for many a league is alluvial."

"It skims along like a witch," exclaimed a third; "it is surely alive!"

"Let us sail to it whatever it be," said the Admiral, waving his hand to the coxswain to sheer the barge further from the side of the river.

As we drew near, we discovered our phenomenon to consist of a fishing-canoe, gliding along merrily before the sea-breeze, with no other sails than half-a-dozen branches of the cocoa-nut tree placed in the bow, and spread out like the feathers of a peacock's tail. These were held together by a slender bar of bamboo, and supported by small strips of bark to the stern, in which sat a naked Malay.

The Admiral proved a true prophet, for the deceitful sea-breeze presently lulled, and it cost us a very hard row to accomplish our purpose against the stream. The town of Pontiana stands on a low point of land formed by the confluence of two mighty rivers. This particular spot is always held sacred in India, and is known under the Hindoo name of Sungum. I suspect, however, that the Malays and other Mahometans, who inhabit the coasts of most of the Indian Islands, acknowledge no superstitious predilections for one spot more than another, and consider such things as mere prejudices unworthy of the followers of Mahomet, their great military prophet. Probably the Sungum point has some local advantages belonging to it, as I observe it is generally appropriated by the strongest party in every country. At all events, it has the advantage of communicating directly with both the rivers, by whose junction the Sungum, or solid angle, is formed. In the instance of Pontiana, the Mussulmans had taken possession of it, though it was formerly a Dutch settlement, while the Chinese were left to occupy the corners opposite to the Sungum, on the right and left banks, respectively, of the river formed by the junction of the two streams. Thus three considerable cities had been built facing one another, and each displaying on the river a multitude of boats and barges, canoes and proas, in crowds which would not have disgraced the show at London Bridge, and, of course, indicating considerable wealth and activity.

We came upon this grand view quite abruptly, and having no expectation of encountering anything so magnificent, were taken rather by surprise. Two enormous Chinese junks occupied the centre of the stream, each of them rising out of the water nearly as high as the poop of a line-of-battle ship. Along the shore, on both sides, lay a fleet of eight or ten sail of junks, some of them very large, and all bearing enormous white flags, in the centre of which sprawled huge dragons and other monsters familiar to the eyes of all fanciers of old China jars.

In the mean time, as there existed no dispute about the navigation of the River Lava, we rowed up very peaceably towards the great city of Pontiana. On our meeting a canoe with a Malay in it, the Admiral, who had been studying Marsden's dictionary all the way, stood up in the barge, made the men lie on their oars, and to their great astonishment, and probably to that of the native, called out in the Malay tongue,—

"Which is the way to the sultan's house?"

To Sir Samuel's unspeakable delight, the man whom he addressed understood him, and after offering to show us the landing-place, paddled off ahead of us. Our fellows gave way as hard as they could, but the Malay kept the lead; and as we shot past the Chinese towns, one on each bank, the natives crowded to the beach, as much astonished, no doubt, with our strange cocked hats, swords, and oddly-shaped boat, as we could be with their long tails and wild-looking junks, or with the creases which every Malay carries by his side. This fierce-looking weapon is not, in form, unlike the waving sword one sees in the pictures of the angel Michael, though it is not above a foot and a-half in length.

The sultan's cousin received the Admiral and his party at the gate of the palace, and led him by the hand along a causeway of flag-stones to the residence of the monarch. Directly in the middle of the gateway, which was only ten feet wide and about as many in height, there stood a twenty-four-pounder gun. On the top of the arch there was built a small square room, from holes in which peeped out the muzzles of five or six field-pieces, the whole affair resembling very much that part of a child's box of toys which represents the stronghold or castle. Within the high wall surrounding the palace we counted innumerable large guns scattered about, apparently with no other object than to be seen, as if the mere look of a cannon were expected to do the work of a fight! The same number of mock barrels of gunpowder, similarly disposed, would have answered the purpose equally well, or perhaps better; for there appeared no way in which the guns could be fired, without doing much more injury to the besieged than to the besiegers.

On we went, till we were met by the sultan himself, at the inner side of the quadrangle. He courteously conducted the Admiral to a large room or hall of audience, and, having begged his guest to sit down at a small table, took a chair by his side, and began a conversation as if they had been long acquainted. Of course, in spite of the Admiral's proficiency, this could not be accomplished without an interpreter; and the services of a very clever Malay boy, whom we had brought with us from the ship, were brought into requisition. The hall, in which we were first received, might have been about fifty feet square, bleak, unfurnished, and comfortless, with an uncovered mud floor. It was so feebly lighted by a few windows almost hid by Venetian blinds, that we could only discover that the roof had been left bare and unfinished. After sitting for about ten minutes, the sultan rose and led the way to another apartment apparently of still larger dimensions, but literally so dark, that, had it not been for the light entering by the door we had left, and the one ahead of us, we could not have moved along without breaking our shins over the stones, sticks, and other rubbish lying in the way. We had next to make rather a difficult transit along a precarious kind of bridge, formed of a single plank laid across an ominous-looking pool or puddle of mud, which divided these two branches of the palace from each other.

All at once we were ushered into a splendid room, seventy or eighty feet square, brilliantly lighted, and not ill furnished, but strongly contrasted with the darkness and dirtiness of the suite we had passed through. This total want of keeping, it may be mentioned, is quite in Oriental taste. They know tolerably well how to be magnificent on occasions; but they never learn how to be uniformly decent. The Asiatics, and even some other nations which might be named nearer home, can seldom afford to be taken by surprise. Indeed, I am not sure if more than one country can be alluded to, in which the people are at all hours ready to receive strangers, and have no occasion to make a fuss, or to change anything when a rap comes to the door.

In the centre of this gorgeous room, on a dais, or a part of the floor raised to about a foot and a-half above the level of the rest, and laid with a rich Turkey carpet, stood a long table, at the top of which the sultan placed the Admiral, and then made the signal for tea. First entered an attendant, bearing a large tray, on which were ranged several dozens of exceedingly small cups. This he placed on the carpet, and then squatted himself down, cross-legged, beside it. Another attendant soon followed, bearing the tea-pot, and he likewise popped himself down. After a conjuration of some minutes, the cups were brought round, containing weak black tea, exquisite in flavour, but marvellously small in quantity. There appeared no milk, but plenty of sugar-candy. Some sweet sherbet was next handed round, very slightly acid, but so deliciously cool, that we appealed frequently to the vase or huge jar from which it was poured, to the great delight of the sultan, who assured us that this was the genuine sherbet described by the Persian poets. It was mixed, he told us, by a true believer, who had made more than one pilgrimage to Mecca.

At the upper end of the apartment, in a deep recess, partly hid from our view by a rich festoon of shawl drapery, we could just discover the sultan's bed, flanked by large mirrors, beyond which, in an adjacent chamber, was probably stowed away the sultan's most favoured wife. But all this department of the establishment was thrown into such deep shade, that we could see none of the ladies, nor any of his highness's progeny, except one little boy, whom he introduced to us at supper. He appeared to be about five or six years old, very like his papa in miniature, rigged with turban and robes of cloth of gold. At first, the little fellow looked somewhat startled; but he soon recovered his dignity, and sat on our knees, without much apprehension of being swallowed up.

Both the upper corners of the room were screened off by white curtains, eight or ten feet high, so as to form smaller chambers. One of these served the purpose of a pantry, or subsidiary kitchen, at least we observed the dishes issuing from it, and thought we could distinguish the well-known sound of the cook's angry reproaches—a note which, like that of muttering thunder, is nearly the same in every climate. The other corner we soon made out to be a sort of temporary nook, from which the ladies of the palace and the young sultans and sultanas might spy the strangers. This we ascertained from seeing sundry very pretty faces thrust out occasionally between the folds of the curtain, and by the sound of many an ill-suppressed giggle amongst the peeping damsels.

The sultan appeared to enter into his guest's character at once, and neither overloaded him with attentions, nor failed to treat him as a person to whom much respect was due. I heard Sir Samuel say afterwards, that he was particularly struck with the sultan's good breeding, in not offering to assist him in cutting his meat. The sultan merely remarked that few people were so expert as his guest even with both hands; adding, neatly enough, that on this account the distinction which his wound had gained for him was more cheaply purchased than people supposed. While the Admiral was hunting for some reply to this novel compliment, his host remarked, that in Borneo it was considered fashionable to eat with the left hand.

The supper, which soon followed the tea, consisted of about a dozen dishes of curry, all different from one another, and a whole poultry yard of grilled and boiled chickens, many different sorts of salt fish, with great basins of rice at intervals, jars of pickles, piles of sliced pine-apple, sweetmeats, and cakes. Four male attendants stood by with goblets of cool sherbet, from which, ever and anon, they replenished our glasses; besides whom, a number of young Malay girls waited at a distance from the table, and ran about nimbly with the plates and dishes.

After a great deal of ceremonious rigmarole, in which the Admiral was asked for his autograph, and it was wonderful how well the shrewd little Malay interpreter expressed to the Admiral, who cheerfully agreed to the proposal, and desired me to send for his writing-case. As I rose, the Admiral whispered to me, "I wish you would contrive, at the same time, to see what the boat's crew are about. Try, also, if you can get them something to eat; the fellows must be hungry enough by this time—but mind they don't get too much toddy."

I found the crew seated on the mud floor of a large room close to the beach, and open on all sides, like a tent without walls. The Johnnies were in such high glee, that I feared they had already trespassed too deeply on the toddy pot; but I was glad to find that their satisfaction arose from a safer source, namely, a glorious hot supper, which Jack was tucking in to the great delight and astonishment of the natives, who had been ordered by the sultan to supply them with as much curry and rice as they chose to eat.

Very early in the morning, long before there was the least peep of dawn, the Admiral roused us all out of bed, ordered the boat to be manned, and declared his intention of dropping down the river while it was yet cool, so as to reach the ship before the fierce heat of the sun had set in. I suspect, also, that he wished to escape the salutes for which he had seen some preparations over night. But scarcely had we gained the distance of two or three hundred yards from the shore when the heavy guns of the batteries began to fire a royal salute. The night was uncommonly dark and still, and the successive flashes and reports of the cannons were followed by a long series of echoes from the edges of the damp forests lining the banks of the three different branches or forks of the river. The Admiral, who had the finest perception possible for all that was picturesque or beautiful, was exceedingly struck with the grandeur of this nocturnal salute, and having made the men lay their oars across the boat, while she drifted quickly down the river, he stood up in the stern-sheets in order to enjoy the scene more completely.

A trifling incident occurred shortly afterwards, which recalled to our thoughts another important service of Sir Samuel Hood's, which, although it be familiarly known in the navy, may not be so fresh in the recollection of persons on shore. A question arose in the boat as to whether or not the land-wind was blowing. Some said there was a breeze up the river, while others maintained that the wind blew down, towards the sea. The Admiral let us go on speculating and arguing for some time, and then said, "You are both wrong; there is not a breath of air either up or down the river. At all events we shall soon see, if you will strike me a light." This was done accordingly; and the Admiral, standing on the after-thwart, held the naked candle high over his head, while the men ceased rowing.

"There, you see," exclaimed he, "the flame stands quite upright, which proves, that if there be any breeze at all, it blows no faster than the stream runs down."

As he yet spoke, the flame bent from the land, and in the next instant was puffed out by a slight gust from the forest.

"Ay! that's something like!" exclaimed the commander-in-chief; adding, in an under tone, as he resumed his seat, "I have known the time when a flaw of wind, not greater than has just blown out this candle, has rendered good service to his Majesty." This was the incident to which he alluded:—

Early in the year 1794, when Captain Hood commanded his Majesty's ship Juno, the port of Toulon, though in possession of the English at the time of his departure on a short trip to Malta, had been evacuated while the Juno was absent; and as the land was made in the night, no suspicion of that important change of affairs arose in the mind of any one. With his wonted decision, therefore, into the port he dashed; for, although the Juno carried no pilot, Captain Hood's knowledge of every port he had once visited rendered him comparatively indifferent on that score. A couple of the sharpest-sighted midshipmen were stationed with glasses to look out for the fleet; but no ships were seen—for the best of all reasons—none were there!

One vessel only, a small brig, could be detected, and the captain, supposing the fleet had run into the inner harbour during the recent easterly gale, resolved to push up likewise. The batteries all kept quiet, and though the brig hailed the frigate as she passed in a language so indistinct that no one could make it out, not the least suspicion was excited. Supposing they wanted to know what ship it was, I told them it was the Juno. The brig, however, was not quite so courteous in return; for they merely replied by the word "Viva," but made no answer to the captain's repeated inquiry as to the brig's name, and the position of the British fleet. As the Juno passed under the stern of this treacherous little craft, a voice called out, "Luff! luff!" which naturally induced Captain Hood to put his helm down, from an idea that shoal water lay close to leeward of him. Nothing could have been more adroitly managed, for before the frigate came head to wind, she stuck fast upon the shoal, to which the words "Luff, luff!" had no doubt been intended to direct her.

A boat was now observed to proceed from the brig to the town. As there was but little wind, and the water perfectly smooth, the Juno's sails were clewed up and handed; but before the men were all off the yards, a gust of wind came sweeping down the harbour, and drove her off the shoal so suddenly as to give her brisk stern-way. The anchor was speedily let go, but when she tended, the after-part of her keel took the ground, and the rudder could not be moved. The launch and cutter being instantly hoisted out, the usual preparations were made to lay out a kedge, to heave the ship off.

At this critical moment a boat came alongside. The people appeared anxious to get out of her, and two of them, apparently officers, came up the side. They said it was the regulation of the port, as well as the commanding officer's orders, that ships should go further into the harbour, there to perform ten days' quarantine. In the despatch relating this transaction, Captain Hood says, "I kept asking them where Lord Hood's ship lay;" the two Frenchmen knew not what to do or say next. In the mean time, one of the mids, who happened to be thrusting his head forward after the investigating manner of this enterprising class of officers, said apart to the captain,—

"Why, sir, they wear national cockades!"

"I looked at one of their hats more steadfastly," says Captain Hood in his narrative, "and by the moonlight clearly distinguished the three colours."

"Perceiving they were suspected," continues Sir Samuel in his narrative, "and on my questioning them again about Lord Hood, one of them replied, 'Soyez tranquille, les Anglais sont de braves gens, nous les traitons bien; l'amiral anglais est sorti il y a quelque temps.'"

In an instant, the situation of the poor Juno became known throughout the ship. The officers crowded round their captain, while the Frenchman, bowing to the right and left, grinned and apologised for the disagreeable necessity of making them all prisoners! It was said of Hood's ship, that, fore and aft, there was but one heart and one mind, and this was an occasion to test its truth. At this moment a flaw of wind coming down the harbour, Lieutenant Webley said to me, "I believe, sir, we shall be able to fetch out if we can get her under sail." I immediately perceived we should have a chance of saving the ship; at least, if we did not, we ought not to lose her without a struggle. Every person was ordered to their stations; but the Frenchmen, perceiving some bustle, began to draw their sabres, but I directed the marines to force them below, which was soon done. In an instant every officer and man was at his duty; and within three minutes every sail in the ship was set, and the yards braced ready for casting. The steady and active assistance of Lieutenant Turner and the other officers prevented any confusion. As soon as the cable was taut, I ordered it to be cut, and had the good fortune to see the ship start from the shore. The head sails were filled; a favourable flaw of wind coming at the same time gave her good way. Not to be retarded by the boats, I ordered them to be cut adrift as well as the French boat. The moment the brig saw us begin to loose sails, we saw she was getting her guns ready, and we also saw lights in all the batteries. When we had shot far enough for the brig's guns to bear on us, which was not more than three ships' lengths, she began to fire; as did a fort a little on the starboard bow, and soon after all of them, on both sides, as they could bring their guns to bear. As soon as the sails were well trimmed, I beat to quarters. When abreast of the centre of Cape Sepet, and were ready to go about, she came up two points, and just weathered the Cape. As we passed very close along that shore, the batteries kept up a brisk fire. When I could keep the ship a little off the wind, I ordered some guns to be fired at a battery that had just opened abreast of us, which quieted them a little. We now stopped firing till we could keep her away, with the wind abaft the beam, when, for a few minutes, we kept up a very lively fire on the last battery we had to pass, which I believe must otherwise have done us great damage. At half-past twelve, being out of reach of their shot, the firing ceased.

The whole of this admirable piece of service was performed so quickly, and at the same time with so much coolness, that there occurred little or no opportunity for any remarkable individual exertion. Everything, as I have heard it described by Sir Samuel Hood himself and by the officers, went on as if the ship had been working out of Plymouth Sound at noon-day. One little incident, however, which caused much amusement in the ship, will help to show the degree of regard in which Sir Samuel was held by those immediately about him; and to disprove the proverb of no man being a hero to his valet-de-chambre.

Dennis M'Carty, an old and faithful servant of Captain Hood's, who was quartered at one of the main-deck guns in the cabin, stood firm enough till the batteries opened on the Juno. No sooner had the firing commenced, and the shot began to come whizzing over and through all parts of the ship, than Dennis, to the great amaze and scandal of his companions, dropped the side tackle-fall, and fairly ran off from his gun. Nothing in the world, however, could be further from poor Pat's mind than fear—except fear for his master, behind whom he soon stationed himself on the quarter-deck; and wherever Captain Hood moved, there Dennis followed, like his shadow; totally unconscious of any personal danger to himself, though the captain was necessarily in the hottest of the fire. At length, Sir Samuel, turning suddenly round, encountered the Irishman full butt.

"Hallo! Dennis," exclaimed the captain, "what brings you here? Go down to your gun, man!"

"Oh, by the powers! your honour," replied Dennis, "sure I thought it likely you might be hurt, so I wished to be near you to give you some help."

There was no resisting this; the captain laughed; and poor Dennis was allowed to take his own way.

Another remarkable instance of his courage and disinterestedness was afforded at the battle of the Nile. Previous to entering into that great action, Nelson hailed Captain Hood's ship, and consulted him as to the best method of attack.

"What think you," said the Admiral, "of engaging the enemy to-night?"

"I don't know the soundings," was the answer, "but, with your permission, I will lead in and try."

The result is well known; but I believe it is not so generally known that, in the first draft of the despatch which Nelson wrote, he gave to Captain Hood the merit of confirming him in his determination of attacking the French fleet that night. On showing this letter, however, to Hood himself, he entreated that it might be altered, saying "that they were all brothers, engaged in the cause, and that the admiral would have received exactly the same advice from any other captain in the fleet whom he might have consulted." The paragraph was therefore omitted in the despatch.

I have this anecdote of the change in the despatch from one of his nearest connections, and one of the dearest friends to his memory. He himself particularly wished the alteration in the despatch not to be told at the time; but, as the story crept out somehow, it seems very material that the facts should be well authenticated. When the circumstance was mentioned to Sir Samuel Hood many years afterwards, by the friend from whom I have received authority to state it, he confessed that it was so; but exclaimed,—

"How the devil could all this have got wind?—I never mentioned it before to a living soul."

As there is hardly any professional anecdote which retains its freshness of interest more entire than the memorable parley above described between Nelson and Hood, on the eve of the battle of the Nile, I venture to give another version of it, which is substantially the same, and is calculated to confirm, in a pleasing manner, all that is essential. The following particulars I have been favoured with by Captain Webley Parry, then first lieutenant of the Zealous.

When steering for the enemy's fleet, Sir Horatio Nelson hailed the Zealous, and asked Captain Hood if he thought he might venture to bear up round the shoals. The answer was,—

"I cannot say, sir; but if you will allow me the honour of leading into action, I will keep the lead going."

"You have my permission, and I wish you good luck," was the reply; and, as Nelson said this, he took off his hat. Captain Hood, in his hurry to return the courtesy of his admiral, dropped his hat overboard. He looked after it, laughed, and exclaimed,—

"Never mind, Webley, there it goes for luck! Put the helm up, and make all sail."

Captain Foley of the Goliath, being close to the Zealous, perceiving this manoeuvre, guessed what the orders were, and bore up likewise, so that when the two ships had shaped their course, they were nearly abreast of each other. The Goliath being a little in advance, which of course was rather annoying, Captain Hood stood on for some time, in hopes of being able to take the lead in the Zealous, but finding this could not be without jostling and confusion, he turned round and said—

"This will never do! Well, never mind; Foley is a fine, gallant, worthy fellow. Shorten sail, and give him time to take up his berth. We must risk nothing that will tend to the enemy's advantage."

This was instantly done! The Goliath shot ahead, and Captain Foley had the glory of leading the British fleet into action. By some accident, however, he failed to place the Goliath in opposition to the headmost ship of the enemy's line. The experienced eye of Hood instantly saw the consequences, and while the Goliath passed on to the second in the line, Sir Samuel placed his own ship, the Zealous, alongside the first, exclaiming in the joy of his heart, "Thank God! my friend Foley has left me the van ship!"

The indifference to danger and fatigue which was habitual to this great captain cost him, I believe, his life when travelling in the interior of India, near Seringapatam. He reached a station at which a fresh set of palanquin bearers were to have met him, but had been prevented by some accident. "It matters not," he cried, "let us walk." And sure enough he set off to perform on foot a stage which might have been dangerous on horseback; for the sun had nearly risen to the meridian, and there was hardly a breath of wind. Possibly no mischief might have followed this march, but he had been spending some days in the island of Seringapatam, the most unhealthy spot in Mysore; and it is a curious circumstance connected with the malaria of the noxious districts, that its effects frequently lie dormant long after it has been breathed. Sir Samuel Hood did not escape; but he felt no inconvenience till after he descended from, and entered the Carnatic at Madras. The jungle fever, of which the fatal seeds had been sown at Seringapatam, attacked him after a few days. When, unfortunately for the profession and for his country, he fell sick at Madras, and knew that his last moments were fast approaching, he called his faithful friend and old follower in many ships and many actions, Lieutenant, afterwards Captain Walcott to his bedside, and said to him,—

"It will be very hard, Walcott, to die in this cursed place; but should I go off, let nothing deter you from going home and accounting to the Admiralty for my command of the East India station."

These were nearly the last intelligible words he uttered; and they serve to show how strong, even in the hour of death, was his sense of professional duty. As Lieutenant Walcott had served during the whole of Sir Samuel's India command in the double capacity of flag-lieutenant and secretary, and had enjoyed the Admiral's entire confidence, he, and he alone, possessed the means of "accounting to the Admiralty" for the measures completed, or in progress, for the good of the service, and therefore the Admiral suggested to him the propriety of his going home to report matters in person.

The senior officer, who succeeded to the command in the Indian seas, felt so desirous of following up the friendly intentions of his lamented predecessor, that knowing the late Admiral's attachment to Lieutenant Walcott, he offered to promote him into a death vacancy, which had either actually taken place, or was certain to fall within a week or two. Moreover, he assured him, that after the necessary time had been served, he should have the first vacancy for post promotion. These were indeed tempting offers to a young officer, devotedly attached to his profession; but they had no influence over a man bred in the "Sam Hood School." The Admiral's dying injunction appeared to this right-minded officer fully as binding, or, if possible, more so, than a written command must have been in his lifetime.

To England Walcott went accordingly; and the difference in professional standing which it made to him was this:—had he remained in India, as Sir Samuel Hood's successor proposed, he would undoubtedly have become a post-captain of 1816, instead of which, his name stood in 1822, six years later on the list! Had it been sixty times six, however, it would have made no difference in his conduct.

When the army returned from Spain, after the battle of Corunna, in 1809, there were between twenty and thirty officers accommodated in Sir Samuel's cabin. Among them was a young officer, a connection of Lady Hood's, whose father and mother called to thank him, conceiving that he had been indebted by this connection for the attention he had received, but Sir Samuel did not even know of the connection or the name. "Indeed," said he, "I hardly knew the names of half my guests. But who," he continued, "would make any distinctions amongst such war-worn and brave fellows."

The fact is, such was his general kindness, that each of these military officers, his passengers, fancied the Admiral was more civil to him than to any one else. He suspended on this occasion all the usual strait-laced etiquettes of the quarter-deck discipline, and permitted the harassed soldiers to lie down and read between the guns, or wherever they pleased. His great delight was to coddle them up, and recompense them, as far as he could, for the severe privations they had undergone during the retreat, and nothing entertained him so much as seeing the relish with which these hungry campaigners partook of his hospitality. On the day after the battle of Corunna, when these gentlemen came on board, he ordered a cock to be driven into a hogshead of prime old sherry; and his satisfaction was perfect, when his steward, with a rueful countenance, communicated to him, on arriving at Spithead, that "his very best cask of wine had been drunk dry on the passage by the soldier officers!"

Printer's Flower

CHAPTER XXIII.

COMMISSIONING A SHIP.

Most people are curious to know how, from a state of total inaction, or what is called "laid up in ordinary," a ship is brought forward into real service. I have therefore thought it right to "begin with the beginning," and tell how a man-of-war is first commissioned. This leads to the fitting-out; that is, getting in the masts, putting the rigging overhead, stowing the holds, and so on. The next obvious point to be considered in the equipment of a ship is, the force she is to carry, which brings us to the very curious question of naval gunnery. Finally, if we suppose a ship equipped, armed, manned, and disciplined.

As soon as an officer receives official intimation that he is appointed to the command of a ship, he proceeds either to the Admiralty or to the dockyard at the port where the ship may happen to be laid up in ordinary, and takes up his commission. In the first place, however, he must wait upon the admiral commanding at the out-port where the ship is lying, and having reported himself, he proceeds to the admiral-superintendent of the dockyard, to whom he communicates his commission; he has the exclusive charge and responsibility, having the care of the ships in ordinary, of all the moorings, and generally of all the vessels, and every description of stores in the naval arsenal.

The first thing to do is to get hold of one of the warrant-officers to "hoist the pendant," which is a long slender streamer, having a St. George's cross on a white field in the upper part next the mast, with a fly or tail, either Red, White, and Blue, or entirely of the colour of the particular ensign worn by the ship; which, again, is determined by the colour of the admiral's flag under whose orders she is placed. The pendant being hoisted shows that the ship is in commission, and this part of the colours is never hauled down day or night. At sunset, when the ensign is hauled down, a smaller pendant, three or four yards in length, is substituted for the long one, which, in dandified ships, waves far over the stern. Ships in ordinary hoist merely an ensign. The boatswain, gunner, and carpenter, who are called the warrant-officers, always remain on board, even when the rest of the officers and crew are paid off, and the ship laid up in ordinary. These valuable personages, under the general superintendence of the captain of the ordinary, an old officer of rank, and assisted by a few lads to row them to and from the shore, keep the ships clean, and guard against fire and pillage, to which they might otherwise be exposed at their moorings in the different creeks.

The next step, after the ship is commissioned, is to open a muster-book. The requisite blank books and other papers are supplied to the captain by the superintendent of the dockyard, in order that the names of the officers and men may be entered as they assemble. The admiral being then informed that the ship is in commission, he orders the commandant of marines to embark the proper complement of men from the barracks.

The master-attendant, in the mean time, is applied to for a receiving-ship or hulk, alongside of which the ship may be placed, and in which the crew may live while she is fitting out. The same officer will likewise give the boatswain a "note" for one or more of what are called harbour boats—strong affairs, but good enough to perform the rough sort of work required in fitting out. The boatswain's demand for scrapers, buckets, and junk for swabs, is made out and approved, that, from the first moment to the last, the hulk may be kept clean.

The officers of the newly-commissioned ship take possession of the hulk assigned them, the purser gets from the victualling-office provisions enough for present use, and draws from the same quarter a quantity of slop clothing, as well as bedding and haversacks, for the marines, who are generally the first men on board. They are supplied by the boatswain with hammocks, and thus the Jollies soon feel themselves at home. The captain's clerk having prepared what is called an "open list," he enters the names of the officers and men as fast as they arrive. Hammocks and bedding, as well as blankets and shoes, are issued to those sailors who may come on board without any kit, which is too often the case. The senior lieutenant ought, if possible, to be one of the very first persons who joins, and the sooner he establishes himself on board the hulk the better. The marines, being a standing portion of the service, are always ready, and, if necessary, they may be sent on board at a few hours' warning. On this account, as well as many others, they are a most invaluable body of men. When there is no particular hurry, however, they will be embarked in two or three days at the furthest from the time they receive orders.[8] Application should also be made for boys, who are supplied as soon as possible; a certain number being sent from the flag-ship, while the remainder are enlisted from the shore. A boat's crew of sailors will very soon be picked up from the stray hands lounging about the Common Hard and Jack's other well-known haunts.

Thus, in a very few days, the foundation of a ship's company is laid; and under good management, with a little patience and cheerfulness, the superstructure will advance rapidly. A rendezvous should be opened at a public-house in some street frequented by the seamen; and a flag, with the ship's name on it, exposed before the door; while bills, containing the ship and captain's name, should be stuck up and distributed in the proper quarters. If her destination be India, South America, the Mediterranean, or any other favourite station, that circumstance will of course be sufficiently noticed in these cards of invitation. The master-at-arms, the captain's coxswain, or some old and steady hand who has an interest in getting the ship manned, will be usefully employed at the rendezvous, to talk to the sailors as they drop in to consider the pros and cons of the new enterprise in which they are invited to engage. The captain himself, and the first lieutenant also, will generally find it worth their while to look in occasionally, perhaps periodically, at the rendezvous, ostensibly to speak on some business, but chiefly to show themselves, and by a word or two of encouragement, to decide the waverers. It is of great consequence, on these occasions, to keep clear of anything which, by possibility, can be construed into false pretences; for the moral impropriety of such enticements, their impolicy very soon betrays itself, and when the men detect the fallacy, the result shows itself in the paucity of volunteers. The truth is, Jack, with all his vagaries, possesses a quick discernment in such matters, and is very seldom deceived by chaff. It will seldom, if ever, retard the proper manning of a ship to be very fastidious in choosing amongst the volunteers who offer. The best men will not enter for a ship where sailors are received indiscriminately; and the lower order of mere working hands are easily picked up to complete the crew.

The men are always carefully examined by the surgeon before being received; but it would not be a bad rule that no volunteer should be finally entered until he has been seen and approved of by both captain and first lieutenant. It is, indeed, of great consequence to the eventual comfort of the ship, which always turns upon her good and consistent discipline, that the first lieutenant and captain should be cordially agreed on so material a point as the choice of the individual seamen forming the crew.

During the short visits which the captain pays to his ship at this time, he will seldom find it useful to supplant his first lieutenant, by taking upon himself the conduct of the ship's detailed operations. The peculiar duties of the captain, when his ship is fitting out, necessarily require him to be absent from her every day during a considerable portion of the working hours. He has to wait on the admiral to receive fresh instructions; he has to carry on a correspondence with the Admiralty on the various equipments of the ship; he has representations and applications to make to the port-admiral, respecting officers and men, and to the admiral-superintendent of the dockyard, respecting stores. In short, whether at the rendezvous, at the dockyard, at the admiral's office, or at his own lodgings, the captain will generally find ample employment on shore for most of the best hours of his day, in really co-operating with his first lieutenant afloat, by seeing those duties properly executed which lie beyond that officer's reach. If these multifarious and important obligations, out of the ship, be fully complied with by the captain, he will seldom have more time left than is barely necessary to go on board—- just to see what is doing—to learn what has been done—and to give his orders, in a general way, to the first lieutenant, for his further guidance.

As a captain has not always the choice of his first lieutenant, it may sometimes happen that a person unfit to fulfil the duties of that office will be appointed. Filling this station well implies not only knowledge and talents, but a disposition to enter cordially into the views of the captain, as well with regard to the general system of discipline, as to all the details of managing the ship. When an unfit person is appointed, it is much better for the lieutenant, as well as the captain, that they should part; and certainly this is more conducive to the discipline of the ship, and therefore to the good of the service, than if they went on for ever like cat and dog. This, indeed, is so well understood, that the Admiralty throw no obstacles in the way of officers exchanging.

In case the unfitness of the first lieutenant arises from absolute incompetence or negligence of his duties, it will soon appear in some palpable instance, for which he must be accountable before a court-martial, unless his captain permit him to quit the ship to avoid that alternative. On the other hand, it will sometimes happen, that an officer who is both competent and zealous, is rather too fond of having his own way, and interpreting the rules and customs of the service in his own particular fashion, in opposition to the views of the captain. This pertinacity detracts from his efficiency as an officer, and more particularly from his fitness for the arduous and delicate situation of first lieutenant, by preventing the establishment of a hearty co-operation with his superior. But if the considerate line of conduct before suggested be acted upon by the captain, unless the lieutenant be a very pig-headed person, who mistakes opposition for zeal, he will readily see that the true way of forwarding the service is to enter heartily, cheerfully, and attentively, into the peculiar plans of his chief. If he does not do this, he will only find his duties become more and more irksome to himself, and all his zeal will often be thrown away in ineffectual efforts.

When a ship is fairly commissioned, the first proceedings of the captain, in respect to her equipment, must be determined by the particular state in which she happens to be. The ship may be in dock, or in the basin, or riding at the moorings—masted or unmasted; she may have only just been launched, or may have been "paid off all standing." In any case, one of the first points to be attended to is the stowage of the ballast. If the ship has been in commission before, a record of her sailing qualities, and the plan of stowage which was found to answer best, will be supplied by the superintendent of the dockyard, together with her draught of water, forward and aft, light as launched and in ballast; and, lastly, when completely equipped for sea, with guns, powder, provisions, and men on board. If the ship be new, the captain will be furnished by the Surveyor of the Navy with every particular respecting her trim, and the manner in which he conceives her hold should be stowed. If this very important part of the ship's economy be one that has occupied its due share of the commanding-officer's attention, he will carefully examine the conformation of the ship's bottom, and be enabled to tell whether or not the former plan of stowing the ballast agrees with his own theoretical views, and his experience in such matters, and then putting the ship's recorded sailing qualities by the side of these actual observations, he will be enabled to decide how the ballast shall be distributed.

The Signal Books, Printed Naval Instructions, the Admiralty Statutes, and other works of reference and guidance, are supplied by the port-admiral, while a copy of all the Port Regulations and Orders should be made, and so carefully perused by the captain and officers as to be almost got by heart. A minute attention, indeed, to the injunctions contained in these written orders, is absolutely necessary to keep the officers of a ship out of eternal hot water with admiral, flag-captain, secretary, and first lieutenant of the flag-ship, all of whom are put out of their way by any neglect on the part of an officer fitting or refitting a ship.

I remember once a grand row which I, in common with three or four other commanding officers, got into. A signal was made from the flag-ship at Spithead, the Royal William, or the Royal Billy as she was universally called. The order was, "The ships at Spithead are to send boats to assist the vessel in distress." On looking round, we could see nothing but a collier aground on the end of the spit. One boat, or perhaps two, were sent from some of the ships—but not enough to save her; so poor Jock lay on the shoal till he capsized, and there was an end of him; for it came on to blow, and the shore, from South Sea Castle to Blackhouse Point, was a complete beach of coal shingle. Next morning out came a swinging reprimand to all of us, ordering a "report in writing to be made forthwith of the reasons why the signal made at four P.M. to send boats to the collier had not been obeyed." I recommend folks fitting out, therefore, as they value their peace, to trifle with anything rather than the port orders. For it is well to consider, that a scold resembles a snow-ball—it always gathers weight as it rolls along. Thus the Admiralty send down, by post or by telegraph, a rap on the knuckles to the old admiral—very moderate as naval things go, but such as, in civil life, would make a sober citizen frantic, though it merely squeezes out a growl from the venerable commander-in-chief. Straightway he rings for the secretary, and issues a smartish general order, in which the wretched captain of the offending ship catches the reprimand, with a most usurious allowance of interest. Off goes the said skipper to his ship, in a great fume and hurry, carrying a whole sail in the gig, though on ordinary occasions he chooses to have a reef in. Souse comes the wigging on the hapless first lieutenant; and he, in turn, only waits till the captain goes below, that he may open a volcano of reproaches on the long-suffering middies, who, though they probably now hear of the offence for the first time, know much better than to make any reply.

Such is naval discipline! a strange mixture of justice and injustice, severity and indulgence—frankness and wrong-headedness, encouragement and unfair dealing; but still we may be sure, that talents, industry, perseverance, and, above all, resolute cheerfulness, with an absence of the litigious habit of self-justification, must ensure success and happiness, or, at least, give the best chance for them.

The first lieutenant of the ship fitting out will do well to have by him a sheet of paper, ruled according to some tabular form, in which he may insert the names of the men who enter, that he may form some idea, when he comes to station them, what part of the ship each is fit for.

A watch bill should be commenced at once; and the men, as fast as they come on board, appointed, as near as may be, to the stations which the officers think they will ultimately occupy. This lets a man know at once what duty he will be required to perform, and makes him feel at home. Some crack sailors will not volunteer unless they can be made reasonably sure of being placed in a station they like; and although it would be highly injudicious to make such absolute stipulations without some previous trial of the candidate's abilities, it may be of great advantage to the service to enter men more or less on this principle. For instance, it is of the utmost importance to obtain steady petty officers, that is to say, quarter-master's, gunner's, boatswain's, and carpenter's mates; captains of the forecastle, of the hold, and the tops; sail-makers, armourers, caulkers, and coopers; with others of less consequence, but all valuable in their respective departments, and contributing to make up the singular population of a man-of-war. The following list contains the peace establishment of the Conway, a ship of twenty-eight guns, which I fitted out in the beginning of 1820. The document may perhaps interest persons who like to inquire into the details of a community and ménage so differently constructed from any they are likely to meet with elsewhere.

A Scheme of the Establishment of His Majesty's Ship Conway, with a Complement of 125 men.

                                     Brought forward      18
Captain                       1   Schoolmaster             1
Lieutenants                   3   Master at Arms           1
Master                        1   Caulker                  1
Second Master                 1   Armourer                 1
Purser                        1   Sailmaker                1
Surgeon                       1   Carpenter's Mate         1
Boatswain                     1   Gunner's Mate            1
Gunner                        1   Boatswain's Mates        2
Carpenter                     1   Quarter-masters          3
Master's Mate                 1   Captain's Coxswain       1
Midshipmen                    4   Capts. of the Forecastle 2
Assistant Surgeon             1   Cooper                   1
Clerk                         1   Capts. of the Foretop    2
                            ---                          ---
               Carry forward 18           Carry forward   36

            Brought forward  36          Brought forward  58
Capts. of the Maintop         2   Barber                   1
------------- Afterguard      1   Purser's Steward         1
------------- Mast            1   Captain's Steward        1
Ship's Cook                   1   Captain's Cook           1
Volunteers, First Class       3   Gun-room Steward         1
Gunner's Crew                 5   Gun-room Cook            1
Carpenter's Crew              4   Steward's Mate           1
Sailmaker's crew              1   Able Seamen     }
Gunner's Yeoman               1   Ordinary Seamen }       29
Boatswain's ditto             1   Landmen         }
Carpenter's ditto             1   Boys, Second Class       5
Cook's mate                   1   ----- Third Class        5
                            ---   Widows' Men              3
              Carry forward  58                          ---
                                                         107
Marines:-- 1 Lieutenant; 1 Serjeant; 1 Corporal;
           1 Drummer; 14 Privates.                        18
                                                         ---
                                                  Total  125

The last odd entry of three widows' men was an official fiction (now abolished) by which the pay of so many imaginary persons was transferred to a fund for the relief of the widows of commissioned and warrant officers. Real men are now allowed in their places.

If any other ship be paying off at the same time, it is well worth trying to get some of her best men to enter for the ship fitting out. People who have been for several years together in a comfortable ship feel unwilling to part, and the prospect of continuing still companions, often influences them to volunteer in considerable numbers, if other circumstances appear suitable. When this takes place, the men generally transfer their whole kit at once, see their names placed on the new ship's books, and obtain what is called "long-leave" of absence to visit their friends, after depositing a portion of their ready money in the hands of the commanding-officer until their return. These men almost always form a valuable part of a ship's crew, and, I am convinced, the practice will become more general of removing direct from one man-of-war to another, whenever the system of frequent payments shall be established in the Navy. The sailors will then learn the proper use of money, and will acquire, in consequence, more orderly, decent, and rational habits.

By these and other means, if the captain and officers be at all popular in their manners, or be known favourably in the service, or if even without these advantages, the intended station to which the ship is going be a favourite one, and ordinary pains be taken at the rendezvous, the ship's company soon begins to assume a respectable and business-like appearance. It then becomes of infinite importance, that the first lieutenant should introduce a uniform and well-explained system of discipline on board, especially as regards cleanliness and neatness of appearance, which are best effected by frequent and regular musterings, without too much fastidiousness in the first instance, as this might only teaze the men, and prevent the effectual establishment of those observances which it is the chief purpose of good discipline to render habitual. Great efforts should always be made to give to Sunday its true character of a day of repose; and in the weekly mustering, in particular, a good deal may generally be accomplished towards imparting to the ship and crew the appearance of order, which in times more advanced ought to characterize them during the whole week. The stock of clothes amongst the men will, it is true, generally be scanty at first, but a portion of it may, with proper management, be always kept clean, and a well-bleached shirt and trousers, with a good scrape of the chin, and a thorough scrubbing from top to toe, render poor Jack's toilet, if not the most refined in the world, certainly very effectual towards its purpose. I have often been amused to see the merry style in which they employed great lumps of coarse soap and hard brushes, in vain endeavours to remove the umber tints of tar from their hands, and the tanning of the sunshine from their brawny arms. These indelible distinctions of their hard service are rendered more striking at such moments by their contrast with the firm and healthy whiteness of the skin round their shoulders and chest.

An officer must be cautious how he issues slop clothing to newly entered men, who have no pay due; and have a sharp, but reserved look-out kept on doubtful characters as they go over the side on leave, for there will ever be found at the great naval stations a certain number of regular-built swindlers, who wander from port to port expressly to pilfer. These vagabonds enter on board newly-commissioned ships, make a great show of activity, and remain a certain time to lull suspicion. They then take up slops, that is, obtain from the purser as many shirts, trousers, shoes, and other articles, as they can persuade the commanding-officer they are in want of; after which they desert upon the first opportunity, only to run the same rig in some other ship. When a character of this kind is caught in the act of making off with his own or his messmate's blanket, it is best to let him go on shore (minus the blanket, of course), and the chances are he will not return again. You lose the man, but you are rid of a knave.

It is a fatal error in an officer to court popularity by unworthy means, or indeed by any means, except those of fair-dealing and strict propriety, equal justice to all, and as much indulgence as the nature of the service will admit of. But, at the same time, advantage may be taken of accidental opportunities of putting the people into good-humour during an outfit; and by indulging them in a jollification, we may occasionally give them something to think of at the moment, and to talk of for weeks afterwards.

When I was fitting out his Majesty's sloop Lyra at Deptford, in 1815, to accompany the embassy to China, under Lord Amherst, it occurred to me one cold morning, the 24th of December, that it might not have a bad effect on the good name of my pretty little craft, if I gave the ship's company a regular blow-out the next day. I communicated this idea to the first lieutenant, who, seeing no objection, sent for some of the leading men, and said each mess was to have a goose and a turkey for their Christmas dinner. My steward was then told to arrange the details; and presently he came to report that the men had taken it into their heads, that, as the best poultry was to be procured in London, they should like exceedingly to be allowed to despatch an embassy to Leadenhall Market for that purpose; the first lieutenant agreed also to this, and two seamen and one marine were forthwith landed at Deptford to execute the mission. A cart being hired, off they set, returning before sunset, with as noisy a cargo as ever I saw packed together. It so happened, that while we lay on one side of the hulk, I forget her name, another ship was lashed on the opposite side for some temporary purpose. The crew of our neighbour dined on Christmas-day on soup and beef as usual, and remained contented enough till some of our fellows, waddling under the effects of double allowance of solids, and perhaps with a trifle too much of fluids, came singing and capering along the deck of their hulk. In the most good-humoured way possible, they asked their neighbours how many geese and turkeys they had discussed that day. The meagre answer called forth shouts of merriment, and the poor fellows belonging to the other ship were rather unhandsomely taunted with the scantiness of their Christmas fare. "Look at that and weep, you hungry-faced rascals!" exclaimed one of our jolly blades, holding up the drumstick of a goose in one hand and that of a turkey in the other. He was answered by the practical joke of having the two bones twisted from his hands and shyed in his face, according to the most approved tarpaulin manners. This was the signal for a general mélée, and the officers had enough to do to separate the contending hosts.

A few days before the next Christmas-day came round, when we were lying in the River Canton, my steward came to me and said,—

"The people, sir, have been talking for the last two or three weeks of hardly anything else but the 'row' at Deptford this time twelvemonth, when you gave them a feast on Christmas-day."

"Well, what of that?"

"Oh, nothing, sir; I only thought you might like to know it. There are plenty of ducks and geese at the Chinese village close to us."

I seized the idea in a moment; and having, as before, consulted with the first lieutenant, I bade my steward prepare a good stock accordingly. I took no further charge of the matter; nor did I expect to hear anything more of the dinner or its preparations. In this, however, I was deceived; for when daylight appeared on Christmas morning of 1816, such a racket was heard from our little vessel as brought up all hands on board every one of the ten or a dozen huge East India Company's ships amongst which we were anchored, at a place called Second Bar. Our fellows had carried the whole of their Christmas poultry aloft, and having perched themselves at the yard-arms and on the cross-trees, gaff, and flying jib-boom ends, they made each of the wretched birds fast with a string six or eight feet long, in such a manner that they could flap their wings, but could not escape. The great difficulty, as I afterwards learned, was how to keep the ducks and geese from making a noise till the proper moment arrived, and this was not effected without sundry bites and scratches. As soon as broad daylight came, the word was given, and the whole flock being dropped to the full length of their lines, they set up such a screaming, cackling, and flapping, as could not fail, when aided by the mingled laughter and shouts of their future demolishers, to call the envious attention of the whole surrounding fleet!

It is very useful to keep the people in a good humour at all times; though, as I have already suggested, the captain must avoid even the appearance of courting popularity at the expense of his officers. Such an unworthy course of proceeding strikes at the root of discipline. A truly right-minded officer, therefore, at the head of any department, whether it be that of a ship, a fleet, an army, or a cabinet, will seldom, if ever, take into his calculations the effect which any measure is to produce on himself or his own interests—but will steadily seek to discover what is best for the public service. And if such research be made in the proper spirit of generous self-devotion to his duty, he may essentially advance the cause of good discipline, by transferring the credit of success, which might be his own due, to those with whom he happens to be co-operating, and without whose companionship and attention to details, though unseen and unknown to the world, he might never have gained his point. It is more difficult indeed, but also more generous, and more useful in practice, for the chief to bear manfully the brunt of failure; and in seasons when measures of an unpopular character become necessary, to charge himself with a large share of that loss of favour which he is best able to afford.[9]

FOOTNOTES:

[8] By the recent regulations each ship also receives her complement of seamen gunners from one of the gunnery ships, in the proportion of a lieutenant and thirteen gunners to a line-of-battle ship, a mate and ten men to a frigate, and eight men to smaller vessels. These are passed gunners, and their duties are to instruct the crew in gunnery.

[9] The introduction of the system of registration of seamen has, of course, been an admirable check upon desertion after receiving advances, both in the naval and commercial marine.

Printer's Flower

CHAPTER XXIV.

FITTING OUT.

In the course of a week or ten days after a ship is commissioned, the officers are collected on board their hulk, and they bestir themselves to gather their comforts about them. In the first instance they look after their "noble selves" by selecting, at some small salary extra, a boy or a marine a-piece for a valet. They next find out a good steward, and having installed him in possession of the nascent stock of gun-room crockery, make him hunt for a cook, generally a black man, who takes into his sable keeping the pots and pans of the growing mess. The mates and mids, a portion of whom are appointed by the Admiralty, and a portion by the captain, gradually make their appearance, and settle into their dungeon of a berth under the caterage of some old boy of a captain's clerk or a hard-a-weather mate of the decks. A pretty large proportion of youngsters also, or squeakers, who cannot be appointed without the previous consent of the Admiralty, spring up like mushrooms, with rosy cheeks and tender hands, totally unconscious, poor little fellows! of the rugged lives they are soon to lead.

If these boys had only sense enough to look on quietly, and pay attention to all that is passing, with a sincere desire to understand it, and were they to be assisted a little in their inquiries, they might on such occasions as that of a ship fitting out, manage to learn and store up much that would prove valuable on a future day. But these youths are generally let loose from the Naval College, or from school, or from mamma's apron-string; and unless they are looked after and encouraged, they are too volatile to pay a proper degree of attention to the duty which is going on. After all, it does not require much ingenuity to arrange some employment for them, even at first, provided their numbers be not so great that they stand in one another's way. Three or four youngsters, even though absolute novices, might always be kept well employed in a sloop-of-war, and perhaps twice that number in a frigate or line-of-battle ship fitting. In peace time, however, it will happen that the crowd of young gentlemen is so great, and the disposition to learn so little diffused amongst them, that the first lieutenant is often glad to get rid of them altogether by letting them waste their time and money on shore.

The state in which the ship happens to be at the time she is commissioned, must decide, as I said before, the course to be followed in her equipment. If she be already masted and alongside the hulk, and the ballast in, the officer will most likely wish to make some show in the way of rigging—for as yet the masts are naked to the girt-lines, or single ropes rove through blocks at the mast-head, by which first the men and then the shrouds are drawn up, and the eyes of the rigging placed over the mast-heads. If there be only a few sailors on board, these can be employed to get off the furniture, that is, all the blocks, ready stropped in the rigging loft; and to draw the present use stores from the dockyard. These can all be kept under lock and key in the store-rooms of the hulk; and if the rigging, and everything required in placing it aloft, be previously fitted and arranged by the boatswain, so that he can put his hand at once on the gear as soon as a sufficient number of the crew join, much time will be saved. Even the lower rigging may be got off all ready fitted from the loft; while the runners and tackles, the luffs, and other purchases, may be put in preparation for use the moment there are hands enough to employ on them.

By application to the boatswain of the yard, assistance will be given to gammon the bowsprit, preparatory to its being clothed, which is the technical term for rigging that important spar. One of its principal offices is to support the foremast and fore-topmast, by means of their stays, as the slanting ropes are called which stretch forwards and downwards from the head of every mast, great and small, in the ship. Some of these, as the main-stay, lie at so inconsiderable an angle with the horizon, that they possess great power of sustaining the mast; while others, such as the fore-stay, being necessarily more perpendicular, do not act to such good mechanical purpose. There is a peculiar disadvantage attending the method of securing the fore-stay, arising from the position of the mast. It is placed so near the extremity of the ship, that the stay, which forms its only support in the forward direction, cannot be attached to the body of the vessel, without making so very small an angle with the mast as would divest it of nearly all its character as a supporter. To remedy this, the bowsprit has been devised, chiefly as an out-rigger for the fore-stay. But in order to render the spar effective for that purpose, it requires to be very strongly bound down. There has, therefore, been contrived what is called the stem, or cut-water, which is a strong but narrow projection from the bows, securely fastened by long and thick bolts of iron and copper to the body of the ship. The chief purpose of this stem is to furnish a point of support for the ropes securing the bowsprit. Of these, the most important is called the gammoning, which consists of a strong and well-stretched hawser, passed up and down successively, in perpendicular turns, over the bowsprit and through a hole horizontally cut in the stem. At each turn the gammoning hawser is hove taut, while every effort is used to bring the bowsprit down into its place. A heavy boat is sometimes suspended from the end, the weight of which greatly assists the gammoning process. Another set of ropes, called bob-stays, extending from about one-third from the outer end of the bowsprit to the cut-water, nearly at the water-line, contribute essentially to its stability. It is further secured in a lateral direction by shrouds reaching from its extremity to the bows of the ship.

I need not mention, that, in order to give a finish, as it were, to the end of the ship, and to convert that into a source of ornament which might otherwise be deemed a deformity, the top of the stem has been appropriated as the position of the figure-head, the characteristic emblem of the vessel. In some ships the sailors pride themselves especially on the beauty of their figure-head; and many a time have I seen the captain of the forecastle employed for hours in painting the eyes, hair, and drapery of his favourite idol. I suppose few commanding-officers will allow of this liberty; for it must be owned that as Jack's taste in female beauty, and in the disposition and colours of dress, are borrowed from a very questionable model, his labours in adorning the figure-head are apt to produce strange monsters. I once heard of a captain who indulged his boatswain in this whim of representing his absent love as far as the king's allowance of paint could carry the art; and it must be owned, that, as the original Dulcinea owed her roses to the same source, the representation "came very close aboard of the original," as the delighted boatswain expressed it. This very proximity in colouring, scantiness of drapery, and so forth, which formed the boatswain's pride, perplexed the worthy captain, who had given his sanction to the work, for he could never cross the bows of his own ship with a party of friends, without raising a laugh at the expense of his taste in figures. The whole crew, however, soon fell as much in love with the damsel as the boatswain had done before them; and it would have been cruel to have sent the painter to daub her ladyship all over with one uniform colour, according to the general fashion. The considerate commander took a different line.

"You seem proud of your head, Mr. Clearpipe, I shall gild her for you!"

In a few days, the sparkling eyes and blushing cheeks of Mrs. Boatswain, like Danaë, had yielded up their charms to the golden shower. The glittering figure-head soon became the delight of the ship's company, and on one occasion furnished the captain with rather an odd means of calling out their energies. The ship was sailing in company with several others of the same class, and when they all came to reef topsails together, she was beat on the first occasion. As they were setting about a second trial of activity, the captain called out to the people aloft,—

"Now, I tell you what it is, my lads, unless you are off the yards, and the sails are hoisted again before any other ship in the squadron, by the Lord Harry I'll paint your figure-head black!" From that time forward, she beat every ship in the fleet.

As soon as a sufficient number of hands are collected on board the ship which is fitting out, all the spars, except the spare ones, may be got off to the hulk. These consist of topsail yards, topmasts, and top-gallant masts and yards, jib and spanker boom, studding-sail booms, and one or two others. The lower and topsail yards can be fitted on the hulk's decks, ready to be swayed into their places when the masts are in a state to receive them. If a dockyard lump, or lighter, can be got to put all the spars in, together with the tops and other things which are usually made into a raft and floated off, it may save a great deal of trouble; as it frequently happens that they cannot all be got in before night, and if bad weather comes on, they may break adrift and be lost.

There seems no fixed rule for rigging a ship progressively. Different officers adopt different ways of setting about the operation, and slight variations occur in the arrangement of the ropes; but, generally speaking, everything is disposed according to the long-established rules of seamanship. The grand object is to support each mast laterally by a number of shrouds on each side, inclining slightly abaft the perpendicular, to prevent its falling either sideways or forwards, and also, by means of two stays, the principal stay and the spring stay, both stretching in the line of the keel, to hold it forwards. The width of the ship affords what is called a spread for the rigging, which spread is augmented by the application of broad shelves, called channels, carrying the rigging three or four feet further out on each side, and making its angle with the masts greater, and consequently increasing the support of the shrouds. These channels act merely as out-riggers, for the ultimate point of fixture, or that against which the shrouds pull, is lower down, where long links of iron called chain-plates, are securely bolted through and through the solid ribs of the ship, and rivetted within. The upper ends of these chain-plates are furnished with what are called dead-eyes, great round blocks of wood pierced with holes, through which the lanyards are rove by which the rigging is set up, or drawn almost as tight as bars of iron. The topmasts, rising immediately above the lower masts, are supported chiefly by rigging spread out by the tops, or what people on shore miscall round-tops. These, like the channels for the lower rigging, are mere projections or out-riggers; the true point of support for the topmast rigging is the lower shrouds, the connection being made by what are called futtock shrouds and catharpins. The top-gallant masts, at the next stage aloft, are supported by shrouds passing through the ends of small spars called cross-trees, at the head of the topmast; and so on in succession, up to the sky-scrapers and moon-rakers in some very fly-away ships.

As early as possible, the boats, which are duly warranted for the ship, should be selected, and their equipment superintended by the officers of the ship, who are the persons most interested in their completion. The master boat-builder attends to any little extra fittings that the first lieutenant may have a fancy for—such as the arrangement of the kedge and steam-anchor davits, the slide for the carronnade in the launch, and so on. The boats will be painted of any required colour, provided that colour be consistent with the dockyard regulations; if any other be required, the captain must purchase it himself, but the dockyard painters will lay it on. In the same way, if the gun carriages are to be painted of any particular or fancy colour, the people at the gun-wharf will prime them in a manner suited to that colour, but no more.

I may here take occasion to remark, that in the numberless dockyards I have drawn stores from, I never met with any real difficulty in getting all that was reasonable from the officers in any department. I have heard, indeed, one and all of these persons abused over and over again, for being crusty and disobliging; for pertinacity in sticking to the mere letter of their instructions, and forgetting its spirit; and for throwing obstacles in the way of the service, instead of promoting its advancement. But I can only say for myself, that I never met with anything but a hearty zeal to furnish all that was right, and that, too, in the pleasantest manner, provided the proper degree of civility were used in making the application.

People too often forget, that politeness, punctuality, and general attention to business, are all reciprocal qualities; and that, unless they themselves employ such means in their intercourse with official authorities, it is hopeless to expect these authorities will put themselves one inch out of their way to oblige persons who manifestly hold them in contempt. At least, until we can procure angels to take the office of master-attendant, master-shipwright, storekeeper, and so forth, the laws and customs of human nature will continue to regulate such influences. Your gruff and sulky letter-of-the-law man will, no doubt, get his ship fitted, in process of time, but not half so well, nor nearly so quickly, as he who takes matters cheerfully.

When a sufficient number of hands have been volunteered at the rendezvous, and stationed to the different parts of the ship's duty, the first lieutenant should form them into separate working parties, as carefully selected as possible for the different kinds of work required. The gunner will take one of these gangs to the ordnance-wharf, to fit the tackles and breechings; another party will be sent to the sail-loft to fit the sails; a third party may be occupied with stowing the water-tanks, and preparing the holds for the provisions; while some hands should be sent to weave mats for covering the different parts of the rigging. The carpenters form a most important department of the crew, as there are many little jobs to be attended to in every part of the ship which the dockyard pass over; and it is useful to have one or two carpenters always ready at a call to drive in a nail here, or fix a cleat there, or to ease or fill up what does not fit nicely.

When a ship is first commissioned, the captain should apply to the builder to have the caulking of the sides, and especially of the decks, carefully examined, and if this important operation is to be repeated, it should be got over as soon as may be. If the caulking be delayed, as too frequently occurs, till after the ship is equipped and painted, and the guns mounted; off comes a noisy gang of caulkers, who daub her all over with pitch, the removal of which is a troublesome, and always a dirty operation.

Old hammocks are generally supplied for the men to sleep in while the ship is fitting, and returned when she goes out of harbour. But two sets of new hammocks ought to be got on board the hulk, ready to be numbered as soon as a neat-handed man of letters can be enlisted for that purpose; and as every hammock requires to have a legible number marked on it, this occupies some time, and should be set about as early as possible, that all may be dry and ready against going to sea.

If the ship be new, it will be of great advantage that the captain or first lieutenant should point out to the dockyard officers what he considers the best place for the bulk-heads, or partitions separating the different holds from one another. The main hold, for example, if fitted strictly according to rule, or if it be left to the general guess of the superintending shipwright, may chance to be long enough to stow a certain number of water-tanks, together with a foot or two over and above; now this lost space, if thrown into the after-hold, might prove sufficient to gain another entire "longer," or range of provision-casks. In the same way, the bulkhead which is common to the spirit-room and after-hold may, by timely adjustment, be so placed as to gain much useful space. These things are now much better attended to than formerly in the original fitting of the ship; but I mention them to prevent, as far as may be, the dangerous practice of taking that for granted which admits of further examination. Moreover, as no two vessels are exactly alike in all their dimensions, and correct seamanship is guided by principles, which an officer ought to understand, it will not do to rely upon things being done properly when they are done by rule-of-thumb. Thus the position of the main-tack block, and those of the fore and main sheets, the main-brace blocks, topsail sheet and brace bitts, with the number of sheeves in each, and twenty other things relating to kevils, cleats, and belaying pins, will be dependent for much of their eventual efficiency on the length of the yards, the size of the sails, and other circumstances which it is quite in vain, and quite unreasonable to expect the dockyard workmen to take into account.

By the time the ship, to which every one has ere this become attached, is so far advanced as to have all her spars on end, the artificers will have completed their hammerings, sawings, and nailings, and the main-hold will have been stowed with water-tanks. It is then time to draw the heavy stores from the dockyard, such as anchors, cables, spare anchor-stocks, fishes for the lower masts, and other spars, forming, when packed together in two lines, one on each side of the upper deck, what are called "the booms." Great care must be taken in stowing these clusters of spars so as to leave room enough between them, and just room enough, for stowing the launch or largest boat. This is managed by the carpenter taking what is called her midship section, and making a slight framework model to guide the stowage of the booms.

It may be useful to remark, that, although the operations in fitting out a ship are multifarious, and often apparently much confused, it is of great consequence to carry into them as much routine method as possible. For example, in spite of the frequent interruptions to which the seamen are exposed by the arrival of dockyard and victualling-office vessels, which must be cleared, it will be found very advantageous to adopt a uniform plan by which one set of men shall begin, carry on, and complete the same jobs. In this way the several working parties will come to take an interest and pride in executing their tasks well and quickly, which they never could feel if the responsibility and credit were divided or dissipated by their being sent backwards and forwards from one operation to another. For the purpose of such arrangements, as well as to assist his memory, the first lieutenant may find it useful to write out in the evening a programme of the next day's intended operations, and commencing every morning by this, adhere to it throughout the day as strictly as circumstances will permit. A character of consistency will thus be given to a vast crowd of operations which otherwise become confused and desultory. The people employed to execute these tasks will soon insensibly discover that their labours are guided by substantial method, and they will work all the more cheerfully and effectively, from a conviction that no time is lost, and that their services are duly appreciated.

The main hold being now stowed, the cables, anchors, and spare spars, all on board, the quantity of provisions required to complete for the service appointed may be applied for, and will be sent off in the victualling-office lighters. The purser then gets on board coals, candles, lanterns, and other stores in his department. The rigging has been repeatedly set up, and is now so well stretched that it is ready for the last pull before going out of harbour. This done, and the dead-eyes and ratlines squared, the shroud and backstay mats are put on, and the masts and studding-sail booms carefully scraped. The lower masts, and the heads of the topmasts and top-gallant masts, are next painted, the yards blacked, and the rigging and backstays fore and aft tarred down. The whole ship ought now to be scraped within and without, and thoroughly cleaned and dried; after which the painters may be sent for from the dockyard, and when they have primed the ship it will be well to give her decks another good scouring. Next black the bends, while the painters finish the upper works with one or two more coats; and, finally, retouch the bends with the black-brush.

When the paint is thoroughly dry, the guns and ordnance stores are to be got on board, and all the remaining stores drawn from the dockyard, leaving nothing, if possible, excepting the gunpowder, to be got off. At this stage of the equipment, the ropes forming the running rigging may be rove and cut. At the same time, both suits of sails ought to be got on board in a decked lighter, one for stowing away in the sail-room, but completely fitted and ready for use; the others to be bent to the yards. The hammock-cloths also being now fitted, are brought off; and if the ship be "going foreign," double sets are allowed, both of which in former times used to be painted; but the spare cloths are now very properly supplied unpainted.

The ship being all ready for going out of harbour, the captain makes a report to that effect to the admiral, the working boats are returned, and the new ones drawn, and hoisted in. At the same time all unserviceable stores, worn out in fitting the ship, are returned to the dockyard, including the hulk hammocks, which must be well scrubbed, dried, and made neatly up. The new hammocks are issued and slung, and the bedding being lashed up in them, they are stowed in the nettings, with their numbers ranged in a straight line, in regular order fore and aft. This arrangement not only gives symmetry, but is useful in affording the means of getting at any particular hammock which may be required; for instance, if a man is taken sick, or persons are required to be sent to other ships.

Generally speaking, indeed, it will be found that the attention bestowed on regularity, neatness, and even dandyism, in all these minor details, brings with it more than a correspondent degree of practical advantage. The men soon feel a pride in what their officer approves of and shows himself pleased with; and, when once they fall into habits of mutual obligation in the accomplishment of a common purpose, everything goes on smoothly and cheerfully. I need scarcely recall to the recollection of any one who has witnessed the practice of such things, the marvellous difference in the efficiency of a ship where the system of discipline is to bully and reproach, and of another where the principle is encouraging and gentleman-like. In one case the crew work as little as may be, and even take a morbid pleasure in crossing the views of the officers as much as they possibly can without incurring the risk of punishment; and they never stir a finger in works not strictly within their assigned duty. In the other case, where good will, a temperate exercise of authority, indulgence, when it can by possibility be granted, and, above all, when no coarse language unworthy the lips of an officer and a gentleman is used, the result is very different. All the subordinate authorities, and indeed the crew at large, then become insensibly possessed of an elasticity of obedience which exerts a two-fold influence, by reacting on themselves even more than it operates upon the commanding-officer whose judicious deportment has called out the exertion. I may safely add, that in the strict discipline which is absolutely indispensable in every efficient man-of-war, and under all the circumstances of confinement, privation, and other inevitable hardships to which both officers and men are exposed, such a course of moderation and good-breeding, independently of its salutary effect on the minds of the people, works most admirably for the public service, and more than doubles the results, by rendering men, who otherwise might have been disposed to retard the duty, sincerely zealous in its advancement.

Lord Nelson, that great master of war and discipline, and all that was noble and good in the cause of his country, understood, better perhaps than any other officer, the art of applying these wholesome maxims to the practice of duty at the exact moment of need. During the long and weary period when Lord Nelson was blockading Toulon, he was joined from England by a line-of-battle ship, commanded by an officer who, as the story goes, had long applied for and expected an appointment to a cruising frigate, and who, in consequence of this disappointment, came growling out to join the fleet, in high dudgeon with the Admiralty at being condemned, as he called it, to the galley-slave duty of a blockade, in a wretched old tub of a 74, instead of ranging at large in a gay frigate over the Atlantic or the Adriatic, and nabbing up prizes by the dozen. It appears farther, that he rather unreasonably extended a portion of his indignation to the Admiral, who, of course, had nothing to do with his appointment; and this sulky frame of mind might have proved the captain's ruin, had his Admiral been any other than Nelson. But the genius of that great officer appeared to delight in such occasions of recalling people to a sense of their duty, and directing their passions and motives into the channels most useful to themselves and their country. Knowing the officer to be a clever man, and capable of performing good service if he chose, it was Nelson's cue to make it his choice. When, therefore, the captain came on board, full of irritability and provocation, the Admiral took no notice, but chatted with him during breakfast on the news from England, and other indifferent matters, as if his guest had been in the best humour possible. The other, who was nursing his displeasure, waited only for an opportunity of exploding, when he could do so without a breach of decorum. Lord Nelson soon gave him the occasion he appeared to seek for, by begging him to step into the after-cabin, and then asking him what he thought of the station, and how he should like cruising in the Levant and other interesting parts of the Mediterranean.

"Why, as to that, my lord, I am not very likely to have any choice. I am sent here to join the blockading fleet, and here, no doubt, I am doomed to stick. I care nothing about the Mediterranean, and it would matter little if I did."

"I am sorry to hear you speak in that way," said Nelson, "for I had reckoned a good deal on your activity, personal knowledge, and abilities, to execute a service of some consequence in the upper parts of the station. In this view I have been cutting out a cruise for you, which I had hoped might enable you to see everything that is interesting, and at the same time to execute a delicate and difficult piece of service. But if you really do not fancy it, only say so—it is not a business that can be done well on compulsion, but must be done cheerfully. If you have a mind to go, well and good—if not, I must look out for some one else—but you are the man I should prefer, if it be agreeable to you. Here is a sketch of your orders, and there is the chart—look them over at leisure, and make your decision."

As Lord Nelson spoke these words he went on deck, leaving the poor man bewildered at the prospect of the very employment he most desired, and not a little ashamed of himself for having anticipated so different a reception. The captain gratefully accepted the Admiral's offer, sailed on the appointed service, which he executed with such diligence and zeal, that he actually returned to the blockading fleet long within the period he was authorized to bestow on the cruise; and there he remained ever afterwards, performing all the drudgery of the blockading service, not only with zeal, but with the heartiest good humour, springing out of an anxious desire to manifest at once his respect and his affectionate devotion to the matchless officer who had so judiciously taught him the true path to honour.

The last thing to be done in fitting out, and before quitting the harbour, is to turn all hands over to their proper ship, and then to scrape, and scrub, and wash the hulk as effectually as possible, preparatory to her being inspected by the dockyard. This duty is too frequently executed in a negligent manner; and really it is not much to be wondered at, for the hulks are such abominable ugly-looking monsters, that one can take no pride or pleasure in treating them with common decency. The commanding-officer, therefore, should be particularly cautious in seeing this operation effectually performed; for, if he does not, he will be sure to be called upon next day to send a party of hands, probably at a great inconvenience, to repeat the process.

There are, as will readily be conceived, a hundred minor points to be thought of in the equipment of a ship, to which I have not adverted, relating to the watching, stationing, and quartering of men and officers; the berthing and arrangement of the people into messes; the rules respecting their having leave to go on shore, and so on. It may be well, however, to remind officers that they should never forget that the mere appearance of their ship is a matter of considerable consequence; and therefore, even in the very busiest times of the outfit, the yards should be carefully squared every evening after the work is over, all the ropes hauled taut, and the decks swept as soon as the artificers leave off work. Not a single person beyond the sentries should ever be allowed to go from the hulk to the ship, except during working hours. This rule prevents any interference with the tools or unfinished work of the dockyard men. In a word, the crew should never be allowed to suppose that the discipline of forms and appearances, so to call it, is relaxed, because the usual regularity of working is in some degree interrupted. That a ship is essentially in good order can at once be discovered by a professional eye, in the midst of her most bustling occupations and at any stage of the outfit.

Last of all the pilot comes on board; the sails are loosed and hoisted; and the lashings being cast off from the hulk, the gay ship sails joyously out of harbour, and takes up her anchorage at the anchoring ground. The officers and crew set to work in getting things into their places; and being all thoroughly tired of harbour, and anxious to get to sea, a fresh feeling of zeal and activity pervades the whole establishment.

The powder is now got on board; the warrant-officers "indent" or sign the proper acknowledgments for their stores at the dockyard; and the purser, having completed the stock of provisions, closes his accounts at the victualling-office. The captain's wife begins to pack up her band-boxes in order to return home, while the Jews and bum-boat folks are pushing all the interest they can scrape together to induce the first lieutenant to give them the priority of entrance with their goods and chattels on the approaching pay-day. The sailors' wives about this period besiege the captain and his lady alternately, with petitions to be allowed to go to sea in the ship; to all, or most of which, a deaf ear must be turned. When all things are put to rights, the port-admiral comes on board to muster and inspect the ship's company, and to see how the different equipments have been attended to.

At length, just before sailing, pay-day comes, and with it many a disgusting scene will ever be associated until the present system be modified. The ship is surrounded by a fleet of boats filled with gangs of queer-looking Jew-pedlars sitting in the midst of piles of slop-clothing, gaudy handkerchiefs, tawdry trinkets, eggs and butter, red herrings and cheeses, tin-pots, fruit, joints of meat, and bags of potatoes, well concealed beneath which are bottles and bladders filled with the most horribly adulterated spirituous liquors. As many of these dealers as can be conveniently ranged on the quarter-deck and gangways may be admitted, that the market may be as open and fair as possible; but it is very indiscreet to allow any of them to go on the main-deck.

Right happy is that hour when the ship is fairly clear of all these annoyances—sweethearts and wives inclusive—and when, with the water filled up to the last gallon, the bread-room chock full, and as many quarters of beef got on board as will keep fresh, the joyful sound of "Up Anchor!" rings throughout the ship. The capstan is manned; the messenger brought to; round fly the bars; and as the anchor spins buoyantly up to the bows, the jib is hoisted, the topsails sheeted home, and off she goes, merrily before the breeze!

FINIS.


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