Billeder på siden
[ocr errors]

knowledge (as regards myself) of the evil attendant upon indulging in-what I certainly consider—a relaxation fraught with imminent danger. I have myself been a novel and romance reader, and to an extent which the greater number of your readers have not attained; and I know I suffered greatly-the ill effects of which yet remain-in castle-building reveries and day-dreams,' during many of my leisure moments, every one of which my sober sense tells me is foolishness and complete loss of time. I have had arguments upon this point with several of my young acquaintances, and with 'here and there a one' I have been successful; I have had the satisfaction of seeing the result in some instances I so much desired-viz. the discontinuing such reading. you consider my position a firm one or not; and that upon the above grounds solely, without saying anything about training the mind for its future destiny beyond the precincts of this present life, which, after all, is in reality the strongest and most conclusive argument that can be brought to bear upon the subject? "P. KIRK."


If our correspondent applies his censure only to novel and romance reading of a particular kind, or if he applies his censure to light reading in excess, we most cordially agree with him; and so will every person whose opinion is of the slightest value. Nothing can be more enervating and degrading than mere slip-slop reading; and any young man with a spark of manly spirit may well blush to own that his chosen books are "novels and romances!" But if our correspondent would interdict all imaginative reading, let him pause, and see where his censure would carry him. The imagination is one of the noblest faculties of the human mind; through it, in infancy and youth, we receive nearly all those impressions which shape and mould the human character; it lifts us above the level of the brutes, and helps to adorn and elevate human existence; by means of it the Bible conveys some of its sublimest ideas, especially in reference to futurity; the Saviour (we speak with all reverence) used it as a vehicle for teaching immortal truths; and, used in the way in which God intended it should be used, it would be fruitful of all good and all blessing. True, many to whom God has given POWER, or what we call genius, have sadly abused their trust; and too many imaginative works have been written in all respects pernicious. Not only, too, has the "fine gold" been made "dim," but much base metal has been forced into circulation. But we might as soon abandon the use of money as a medium of exchange, because of the danger of receiving spurious coin instead of genuine, as abandon imaginative reading because of its abuses. It is a gift to be rightly used, not to be thrown away, from the danger of abuse.

As to the " castle-building" which novel-reading excites, that is an evil certainly. Yet many people are great air-castle builders, who scarcely read anything at all! The evil lies in the individuals. If they are ignorant, feeble-minded, and prone to dream with their eyes open, a course of novelreading of a low, mediocre, or indifferent character will supply them with additional food for their weak and vain fancies. Let young men take care of themselves in this, as in every other matter: there may be moral or rather mental drunkards, as well as physical ones; and he who unfits himself for the active business of life by the reading of books, must be as pitiable a fool, or as contemptible a blockhead, as the intemperate glutton who stuffs himself with meat and drink, and then tells you, with tears in his eyes, that he is very ill, and does not know what is the matter!

R. J., HUDDERSFIELD.-" Wilt thou please to state in what year China was invaded and conquered by the Tartars; and which of the Tartar race was made emperor?"

The various tribes commonly known under the general name of Tartars were, in many respects, to China what the Barbarians were to the Roman empire. But the particular tribe which in modern times effected the conquest of the "Celestial Empire," and who may be termed the "Normans " of China, are the Mantchoo, or Mandshoo, who began their inroads during the early part of the 17th century, nearly completed their conquest about 1650, and in 1662 fairly established themselves, by proclaiming the young son of Taytsong, their able and victorious military chief, emperor. The young emperor, who was only eight years of age at this period, happened to have wise and able counsellors during his minority; and he himself became famous for his energy and wisdom in after-years. His name was Kanghi; and his descendants still possess the throne of China. The conquered empire has been governed with considerable political sagacity; for the conquerors, instead of subverting the ancient laws and customs, and rousing the people to despair by their oppression, have rather attempted to govern in what we would call the "spirit of the constitution." The actual power and military offices are generally, if not exclusively, in the hands of Mandshoos, but the civil employments are bestowed on native Chinese, as being acquainted with the language, laws, manners, and customs of the country.

R. M. says, "Mr. Redfield, of New York, and Col. Reid, after paying particular attention to the movements of storms, have come to the conclusion that they have a rotary motion. Nor is there wanting facts to bear out this idea: they have traced on the map the paths of several hurricanes which have done great damage in the West Indies, and have shown proofs sufficient to convince the most incredulous ? In No. 50 of your Journal there is an interesting account of a tornado which occurred in the county Alleghany, in the state of New York.' The facts there mentioned are evidences corroborative of the above theory. Now, do whirlwinds not give us opportunities for making observation so as to fix more precisely the laws which regulate storms; they being, in fact, storms reduced into a compass observable in all their movements. You say, in your account' above referred to, Now that scientific inquiry has been directed to the subject, it becomes important that every fact tending to illustrate it should be noted and recorded, as by such means alone can we arrive at a satisfactory conclusion.' Solomon says, that 'There is no new thing under the sun;' again he says, There is no remembrance of former things.' Now, in so far as regards the above theory, Solomon is right. It is not a new theory that is advanced; but it is one which was known to the above-mentioned king of Israel; for in the 1st chapter of Ecclesiastes, verse 6th, the theory is thus stated: The wind goeth toward the south, and turneth about unto the north; it whirleth about continually; and the wind returneth again according to his circuits.' I have never seen any notice taken of the verse first quoted; but I think it ought not to be left in oblivion, as possibly some inferences may be drawn from it which will lead to important


[ocr errors]

R. M.'s idea is ingenious; but we are rather of opinion that Solomon did not anticipate the theory of the rotary nature of storms, The reference in Ecclesiastes is considered to be made to the periodical character of the winds, which, in Palestine, as well as other Eastern countries, have their seasons and their points; blowing steadily during one portion of the year from one point, In and then shifting to the opposite point, with a regularity unknown to us. this sense, the verse is very simple: "going toward the south," and "turning about unto the north; " thus "whirling about continually," and, in its regular season, "returning again according to its circuits."

Will any of our readers give us an answer to the following?

"I should feel much obliged if you would explain, for the information of myself as well as other readers of your periodical, the cause of the rotary motion of camphor when placed on the surface of pure water contained in a basin; also the cause of its receding to the side of the vessel, and the rotary motion ceasing the instant a drop of oil is let fall on the water. I have found this experiment in several works, but can find no explanation.

"W. W."

Our correspondent who mentions the name of a well-known naturalist as still believing in the ridiculous nonsense about swallows diving under water and remaining torpid all winter, must surely have been quizzed or hoaxed. Naturalists of great name did, indeed, once believe in such stuff, and gravely recorded how the creatures assembled on the banks of rivers, and sung their swallow song before they took their dive for the winter! How could the bird exist, when even sea-fowl cannot remain submerged? It may be retorted, that toads are occasionally found imbedded in stone or oak; but they have never been found under perfectly unequivocal circumstances, so as to preclude the supposition that the animal, in its tadpole state, found admission by some cavity or aperture, lived by catching insects, and gradually becoming too large to get out, was obliged to remain in its prison, still existing by the air and insects which entered by the opening. As to the swallows, it is an established fact that they are birds of passage.

All Letters intended to be answered in the LITERARY LETTER-Box are to be addressed to "THE EDITOR of the LONDON SATURDAY JOURNAL," and delivered FREE, at 113, Fleet-street.

The VOLUMES of the LONDON SATURDAY JOURNAL may be bad as follows:VOLUME I., containing Nos. 1 to 26, price 5s. 6d. in cloth. VOLUME II., containing Nos. 27 to 52, price Es. 6d. in cloth. VOLUMES I. and II. bound together, containing the Numbers for 1839, price 10s. 6d. in cloth.

BACK NUMBERS and PARTS, to complete Sets, may always be obtained.

London: WILLIAM SMITH, 113, Fleet Street. Edinburgh: FRASER and Co. Dublin: CURRY and Co.-Printed and Stereotyped by Bradbury and Evans, Whitefriars.

[blocks in formation]

[The following story is founded on an incident in the personal history of its author, who is one of our known and valued contributors.]

In the autumn of the year 18-, there dwelt in a retired part of the wretched town of Flushing, not far from the sea-side, an English family. The house in which they resided looked mean and solitary; the upper part had not even the appearance of having been tenanted for many years.

It stood by itself, and its grey walls looked dreary and cheerless, like the walls of a prison; a small court-yard separated the building from the road, but it was neglected and overgrown with weeds. The swallow built its nest unmolested under the eaves of the house, and the jackdaw seemed disposed to take possession of the chimneys. On the particular day with which my story commences, the window-shutters on the ground floor were partially closed, although the sun was yet some degrees above the horizon; and one or two which had escaped the rusty hold-fasts in the wall, swung backwards and forwards, creaking mournfully on their hinges. Even at midsummer, or upon the brightest day, this dwelling had a cold wintry appearance, and the barking of a fierce wolf-dog whenever a stranger approached, was the only noise to denote that life existed there. But although its external appearance bespoke inanimate poverty and wretchedness, there were inmates there who, though they cared not to attract the notice of the passers-by, had that knowledge of comfort of which the blazing fire and the neatlyspread table within gave ample proof.

I have said that the sun was still some degrees above the horizon-so it was; but the time-piece was the only evidence of that fact, for, bright as it may have shone in other parts, its intense light could not penetrate the rolling clouds which continued since noon to hang heavily over this marshy land. The air was unusually close, heavy, and oppressive. The morning had opened with a dazzling watery sun, but towards mid-day the sky became overcast. The copper tinge in the heavens, and the distant peals of thunder, at first but indistinctly heard, denoted the gathering storm. The cattle grazing in the fields no longer cropped the fragrant herbage (although from the recent heavy autumnal rains the verdure looked as fresh and as green as in the month of May), and the evening song of the little birds was hushed in silence.

Towards night-fall, a low cautious tap at the door of the solitary residence attracted the attention of its inmates, who were seated round the fire. Although it was scarcely discernible, from the heavy rain which dashed against the window-shutters, the elder of the family rose from his seat, and approaching the entrance, waited in silence until the knock was repeated. He then raised the latch at a given signal, and a young man in the ordinary dress of a sailor entered the apartment, muttering, in a dissatisfied indistinct tone, a seaman's anathema against the weather. Without noticing the inmates, most of whom rose on his entrance, he proceeded, very much after the fashion of a Newfoundland dog just out of the water, to shake off the large drops of rain which



sparkled like crystals on the shaggy nap of his Flushing jacket, and removing his neckerchief, which was nearly saturated by the wet trickling down his neck, he seated himself opposite the fire with the air of a man who knew himself to be an intimate, if not a welcome guest.

"Well, Roderick," said the old man, as he resumed his Dutch pipe within the alcove of the blazing fire, we have a roughish sort of night of it."

[ocr errors]

Why yes," replied the young sailor, "I guess as how we have a roughish sort of night of it indeed; that's as be, if the wind blowing great guns and small arms, and the rain battering about one's ears like marlin-spikes points downwards, can make it so. For my own part, I'm not to say over-nice about the weather at the best o' times; but one hardly reckons on being taken aback, as it were, by a December breeze like this, afore the autumn is well over one's head."

"Poh, poh, Roderick," observed the old man, smilingly; "never stand about the rain, my boy; if the gale batters about our heads, why it batters about the heads of others as well; and there 'll be less chance of cruisers in the Channel to-night. Come, Nance, my old girl, let's splice the mainbrace; Roderick won't refuse to drink the good old toast of 'The ship that goes, the wind that blows, and the lass that loves a sailor.'"

The woman thus addressed was the old man's wife, and the mother of his family. She was a woman of superior intellectual endowments, although lowly, meek, and humble; and she filled the station which Providence had assigned her with feminine care and assiduity. She moved about the apartment with noiseless activity, the general sweetness of her heart dispensed happiness around her, and she was never more cheerful than when providing for the comforts of him upon whom the fondness of the woman had settled

and what can there be on this earth to equal the intensity of a woman's love? What said the smuggler to this partner of his existence, when his only son died in her arms, and in the intense agony of her grief the world appeared at that moment void of anything that could bring comfort to her mind?" Nance, thou wert bidden to eat of my bread, and to drink of my cup; they shall yet be made sweet to thee; I will give, and thou shalt enjoy-be thou yet retained to cheer a blighted home!"

The fragrant Scheidam, and a pitcher of spring-water, clear as crystal, were placed on the table. The old man helped himself sparingly, for he had not yet had his evening meal, but the young sailor did ample justice to the proposed toast.

The head of this family was a man in robust health, tall, and of powerful sinew; age had not yet crippled his manly form, although nearly seventy winters and exposure to a variety of climes, may have varied the once dark colour of his hair to an iron grey; his arms were yet strong and muscular, and it might have been profitable to those who had any dealings with him to count him rather as a friend than an enemy.

His features were strikingly prominent; his forehead, from which his bristly hair was combed back, projected over very large black eyes, of calm yet dignified expression; his high cheek-bones were

Bradbury and Evans Printers, Whitefriars.


covered to their apex by long wiry whiskers, which united in a thick bushy cluster underneath the chin; the throat and part of the chest were quite bare, and his complexion might have been sallow, but for the neutral tint between a red and brown, which had so effectually bronzed it.

But though calm and dignified, the traces of an anxious mind were apparent in the sunken eye and furrowed cheek, worn as it were by thought and care, rather than by grief or old age. Yet the hardihood of his manner, the activity of his movements, and the profession to which he appeared to belong, added to his determined tone, gave to his general outline a freedom of action of that elastic character which seemed to promise that he had yet many years of the sands of life to run.

His dress was simply that of the humble mariner, partaking in part the costume of the Dutch fisherman with that of the Folkstone pilot; and he looked like a brave man, who although perhaps not easily excited, would, for that reason, be the less easily subdued.

The life he led, for I cannot designate him by any name-a false one I will not, his real one I cannot give him--was that of a smuggler. He had been forced into it by circumstances of a singular and uncontrollable nature, and although the commencement of such a life may have been repugnant to his feelings, its attractions and the prospect of soon realising a fortune dazzled his ardent

mind, and in time habit had strongly attached him to it.

Having given this short sketch of the early life of the smuggler, which it is perhaps as well the reader should know, we now return to the solitary dwelling. "Well, Roderick," inquired the smuggler, "have you got all the bales on board?


Ay, master," answered Roderick, who was the mate of the vessel in question, "the last bale was snug under hatches and well battened down afore I put my foot ashore; and as for that wake the whole of this blessed day, I only wish I had the chap lubberly-looking rascal who has been backing and filling in my in blue water, and if I would'nt show him the tilting end of a plank, my name's not Bill Roderick."

"Poh, poh," said the smuggler, "you and I have lived too long in a wood to be frightened by an owl, Roderick; and as for the matter of that dodging scoundrel, why let him do his best-I know him well, the sneaking hypocrite! All he can say now will hardly reach the other side of the water, if we once get this night's breeze well

under the stern of the little Seadrift.

"With our pockets well lined, why our lives shall be mended,

The laws of our country we ne'er will break more." Although the skipper of the Seadrift quoted the outrage on the laws of his country, when he sang this fragment of Dibdin's wellknown song, few men thought less lightly of the guilt attached to it than be did.

Whether this proceeded from a singular absence of that moral sense which tells a man the distinction between right and wrong, or whether the smuggler deemed himself justified in doing that for his livelihood which, had he abstained from when the opportunity offered, hundreds of other men would have embarked in, I cannot pretend to say; but as his was a cool reflecting mind, I should rather attribute it to the latter cause, although in the first onset of his bold career the risk he incurred might have brought the first home to his untutored feelings. However that might be, habit and prosperous voyages had so far effectually banished such qualms of conscience from the breast of the hardy mariner, that he now considered it as much a part of his duty to defend, at the risk of his own life and regardless of the sacrifice it might cause of others, his contraband property, as strenuously as, on the other hand, he would have fought to recover it for the revenue of his country, had the duties of a custom-house officer devolved on him.

There were

Often, in the anguish of a woman's fears, had his wife hung on his neck with intense feeling, beseeching him, for the sake of those whom Providence had confided to his care, to relinquish the doubtful, dangerous, indefensible trade of a contrabandist; and strongly did she urge those long restless nights of misery, when, in the stillness of feverish repose, the image of her husband has haunted her in a thousand frightful forms; at one moment betrayed into the hands of a watchful enemy, or, at another, driven upon the rocks, and carried from her grasp by the receding surge into the deep waters; but hitherto her efforts had been unavailing The smuggler was a native of Cornwall, and in early life commanded a fine trading sloop which his father had bequeathed him. He told me himself (poor fellow !) that she was the pride of his heart, and a tighter built craft had never sailed from Fowey. He had made three prosperous trips in her, when a continued stórm drove him off the land, and for nine days he beat about the narrow channel, without a single glimpse of sun or star to tell him where he was. On the morning of the tenth day it blew a hurricane; his little sea-boat laboured in the trough of the heavy sea, and although he could not show a stitch of canvas, he had hope of weathering the storm, when the mist suddenly cleared away, and he found himself upon a lee-shore, drifting rapidly towards the rocks. An enemy's port lay within his reach; by prompt and energetic management he might yet weather the breakers, and round the light-recal his image to her distracted mind. house at the eastern extremity of the harbour; but then he must surrender himself, his vessel, and his cargo, and become a prisoner of war-to endure, perhaps, years of wretched confinement. However, he had not even time to dwell upon the misery of such an alternative; the moment was critical, and by instant decision could he alone hope to rescue himself and his crew from the perils of the deep. Quick in his resolve, he ordered the only sail he had left to be hoisted-the little vessel dashed through the foamy water, and in half an hour from the moment he discovered the land, he and

When the clock struck eight, a warm supper was placed before the skipper of the Seadrift and Roderick. Some excellent Dutch herrings, a fine piece of Hambro' beef, and a savoury omelet, comprised the repast, on which the smuggler asked a blessing with becoming solemnity, and the family sat down and partook of the meal; but it was not a cheerful one. around that table conflicting feelings which forbade mirth. The head of the family was upon the eve of another departure from his home; and although he promised that this voyage should be his last-that he would not again tempt that Providence which had heretofore been kind to him, and that having run this cargo, he would turn the Seadrift over to Roderick, and remove from his present dismal abode to a less gloomy habitation, yet, upon such a night-the rain dashing against the shutters, and the storm almost shaking the house to its foundation-what pledge could wholly remove the anxious forebodings of an attached wife? In another short hour he would be tossed about on the fearful billow, and every fresh blast of wind throughout the night would too surely

his exhausted crew were consigned to the custody of the gen darmes, and all the property he possessed in this world was lost to him for ever.

He then became the agent of a smuggling concern, from which he progressively merged into that of a principal, and afterwards removed to Flushing, where he was joined by his wife and family.

There was another also present, of whom mention has not yet been made. She was a dark-haired girl, of surpassing loveliness; her form was light and graceful, and her tiny foot left no impress on the sand, as she had often bounded forward, on the arrival of her lover, to meet him. She was not above the middle height of woman, but her figure was exquisitely rounded. Her complexion was dark, like that of her father, and her luxuriant hair black as the raven's wing. Her sparkling eyes were shaded by long and silken fringes; and yet those eyes, brilliant as they were, were dark as night. She sat next to Roderick, and was the smuggler's eldest. daughter.

To say that Mary's mind was free from the disquietude which at this moment pervaded others of the family group, would be a manifest injustice to the feelings she entertained, with all the fervency of a first attachment, towards one of the party; and the intense anguish with which she had raised her dark expressive eye,

when her father announced his intention of making over to Roderick the little Seadrift after this voyage, spoke her feelings with silent eloquence.

One other person sat upon the right hand of the smuggler. He was a fine boy, and from the lineaments of his features, a stranger would have said that he sprung from gentle blood. The name he went by was Henry Trevillian. No one could say whether that was his patronymic or not, for little was known of his history before he became an inmate, and to all appearance a member, of the smuggler's family. It was conjectured that he had been confided to the paternal care of the smuggler under peculiar circumstances; the youth himself regarded the old man as his father. The boy sat on the right hand of the smuggler, looking up to him with alternate feelings of hope and fear; for he had that morning pleaded hard to be taken on board the Seadrift this voyage. The idea of being a sailor-boy had caught the lad's fancy; to be tossed about on the mountain wave, in the beautiful little vessel he so often visited when in harbour, was something so novel and delightful to his young imagination, that the moment their frugal meal was finished, and whilst Roderick was soothing the dark-eyed maid with a sailor's benediction, the boy rose suddenly from his seat, threw himself with convulsive energy into the embrace of the old man, and declared his determination to accompany him.

"Well, well, Harry, be it so, my boy; 't will only be for a few days; you'll soon wish yourself under the old lady's wing again." And with this observation the smuggler rose from his chair, and, with a powerful effort to subdue the feelings of the husband and parent, hastily caressed his children, pressed to his bosom the mother of his offspring, and, followed by Roderick and the boy, hurried from the only scene of enjoyment he had in this world, into the gloom of night, to resume his dangerous calling, with sensations of a better kind than the world might have given the outlaw credit for.

In less than half an hour the harbour was cleared, and the little Seadrift was on the wing, careering to the gale under a spread of canvas, which bore her rapidly from the spot where Roderick's heart lay.

The beautiful little Seadrift sailed like a witch. Her owner boasted that nothing he had ever seen could touch her; and she had had some sharp trials in her time with some of our small cruisers. It was said that she could disguise herself, and baffle the wits of our lynx-eyed revenue men, with singular facility; at one moment floating on the water as light and as gracefully as a Columbine, and the next as heavy and as sluggish in her appearance as a clumsy coasting sloop.

It is, however, our privilege to sail even faster than the Seadrift; for on the same autumnal day which witnessed her departure from Flushing, we beg to introduce the reader to an English frigate which has just cast anchor in an unfrequented roadstead on the western coast of Ireland, after having narrowly escaped those dangerous rocks in the Mal bay which run hidden a long way into the Atlantic, and on which a portion of the proud Armada of Spain was totally destroyed in 1588.

The sea around the lonely isles of Arran, and for some miles along the rocky shore from Galway to the entrance of the river Shannon, presented one continued sheet of living foam; for the equinoctial gales had this year set in before the expected time, and with unusual severity.

Happy were they, who, having a clear offing and plenty of searoom, could lay their vessel to under her storm-staysails, and quaff their three-watered grog in conscious security, as their welltrimmed bark rose on the billow, like the stormy petrel which followed in her wake.

There was not, at the period I am speaking of, that bright revolving light which is now exhibited on the central isle of Arran, as a friendly beacon to ships of every nation, to tell them of their affinity with the hidden dangers of Mal bay; and many a brave mariner, driven by the tempest from the broad bosom of the Atlantic, has perished under the shade of the long winter's gloomy night, on the rocks which guard this dreary, thinly-inhabited, iron-girt shore, unseen and unheard of!

The frigate which found so welcome a shelter in the rarelyvisited roadstead alluded to, was descried early in the morning by a few poor fishermen to the northward of the high cliff of Baltard. She appeared to tremble beneath the pressure of her storm-sails, as she struggled to weather a reef of rocks which ran out from a low island; and keenly did those fishermen watch with intense interest the progress of the noble vessel, calculating the portion of plunder that would fall to the lot of each individual, if unhappily she failed to weather the breakers. But Providence on this occasion interposed between the gallant crew and the lawless designs of the marauding fishermen. The frigate proudly sus

tained the character she had long borne, of being one of the best sea-boats in his Majesty's service; and the heartless pillage of the shipwrecked mariner was reserved for the subsequent disasters which befel the less fortunate crew of the Martin, on that very coast.

It is a beautiful sight at any time to see a fine man-of-war come to an anchor, under all the majesty of her noble bearing on the water; and especially so when it blows a gale of wind. The frigate, on approaching the anchorage, gradually shortened sail to her close-reefed topsails, furled her courses, and braced her yards, so that, when she dropped her anchor, they would be pointed obliquely to the wind. Finally, she furled her last remaining sail, and the moment the fluke of her ponderous best bower took firm hold of the ground, she swung round with her head majestically to the gale.

In a few minutes everything seemed as tranquil on board as if she had lain there from the commencement of the storm, and the disappointed fishermen hastened along the brow of the cliff to the little cove at the head of the roadstead, to examine their boats, which lay snugly moored under the shelter of a natural break


Towards evening the gale moderated, but not sufficiently to induce the captain to attempt a landing. The weather still bore a gloomy aspect; mares'-tails were floating wildly in the unsettled sky, blown about by the contending winds aloft into a thousand fantastic forms; and the setting sun too surely indicated, by its fierce angry glare, a continuation of the equinoctial gale. The little birds called by seamen Mother Carey's chickens skimmed along the surface of the water, gracefully tipping the very edge of the waves with their extended wings, and then descending into the hollow of the sea, would rise again, and struggle to stem the already freshening breeze, until, no longer able to fly to windward, they wheeled round on the wing with graceful curvature, and darted along the margin of the deep with the swiftness of the swallow; whilst the larger birds balanced themselves in the wake of the ship, watching for the particles of food which floated astern.

The small bower anchor was dropped under foot; the sheetcable was ranged, and preparations were made for obtaining a supply of water the following morning. The anchor-watch was then called; and at 9.30 the captain delivered his night-order book to the officer of the watch.

The ship might be now said to be in a state of profound repose; the lights of the crew had been extinguished at eight o'clock, which, in the autumnal and winter seasons of the year, is the curfew-bell of the service. The officers who had their turn of night-duty to take had retired to their cots or hammocks; and the anchor-watch were permitted to lie down on the main-deck, where, upon the oak-plank, and each affording the other his uppermost hip for a pillow, their deep sleep might have been envied by many of the nobles of the land. All was quiet and noiseless, save the wind rattling mournfully through the cordage, and the measured, thoughtful walk of the officer and quartermaster on duty.

As soon as the feeble light had ceased to glimmer underneath the folds of the tarpaulin which covered the skylight of the captain's cabin, and when the drowsy skipper was allowed a reasonable time to sink into forgetfulness of the past and present; the cautious lieutenant called his next in command over to his side of the deck, and ordering him to keep a sharp look-out for squallsto keep his eye on the lead-line which was over the gangway-and above all, his attentive ear on the captain's bell, he descended to his cabin, and, throwing himself on his cot, soon ceased to think of the skipper or the night-order book. When the mate of the watch had walked over the captain's head with the measured tread of the lieutenant, and thought he had given the latter time enough to join the commander in his slumbers, he, in his turn, consigned the care of the frigate to the midshipman of the watch; but instead of transferring to him the admonition of the lieutenant, he threatened to give him a precious good cobbing if he presumed to leave the deck a threat which the middy was quite sure would be carried into effect, if he was caught napping; but often as the youngster had been punished for similar transgressions, no sooner had the mate coiled himself away in the topsail-haulyard rack, like a large Newfoundland dog, enveloped to the rim of his tarpaulin hat in a thick Flushing coat, than he made over his post of honour to the bluff old quarter-master, under whose more faithful charge his Majesty's frigate was left to ride out the gale.

It continued to blow hard during the night, but with less steadiness than the day before; the squalls were therefore the more

sudden and severe. Towards the morning watch, the neck of the gale was fairly broken, and when the sun rose it was a perfect calm. The aspect of the surrounding objects differed as much from that which they exhibited the evening before as the beautiful and ever-varying effects of light and shade could make them. The coast was then almost shrouded in the drizzling mist of the gloomy storm, the rocky boundary of the iron-girt shore presenting one unvaried line of bleak and barren sterility, against which the waves dashed with frightful violence: but now, as the cheerful morning broke into the glorious light of day, the dense vapour ascending from the earth spread itself gradually, until it lay over the frigate like a dark canopy, extending its circular ridge to within twenty degrees of the horizon, and leaving the beautiful and lofty mountains of Cunnemara reposing underneath, in the clear blue atmosphere of a lovely morning. The headlands protruded their bold fronts into the sea, and seemed but half their actual distance from the ship. The smallest patches of the greensward which grew in the interstices of the rocks were visible, and threw out the dark-coloured granite which formed the dreary boundary of the coast into bold relief; and the verge of the horizon was a perfect circle of light, clearly indicating the approach of a warm day.

At one bell after four, the hands were turned up to shorten-in cable. The small bower, which had been dropped under foot as a precautionary measure the night before, was released from its holding-ground; and it was well for those who had slumbered on their watch that the second anchor was down, for the ship had drifted during the night so far as to alter the bearings taken by the master the evening before very considerably. But who could say at what hour she drifted ?—it might have been during the first watch, after the ship was consigued to the gruff old quartermaster, who might have gone, when his officers left him, to smoke his pipe in the galley; or it might have been during the middle watch, when the squall, which caused the ship to tremble again, came rushing down the ravine at the head of the roadstead: at all events, the affair passed off in quietness, because the delinquency was not attended by any serious result.

At seven bells, the sheet-cable was coiled away, yards squared, and sails loosed to dry. The lighter spars were again pointed to the zenith, the decks well holy-stoned; and then the first lieutenant descended to his cabin, to purify the outer man with a wash and a shave.

At eight o'clock, the boatswain piped to breakfast.


ACCORDING to our promise in our previous number, we here commence the series of papers, called "Rambles of a Naturalist," written by Dr. Godman.

From early youth, devoted to the study of Nature, it has always been my habit to embrace every opportunity of increasing my knowledge and pleasures by actual observation, and I have found ample means of gratifying this disposition, wherever my place has been allotted by Providence. When an inhabitant of the country, it was sufficient to go a few steps from the door to be in the midst of numerous interesting objects; when a resident of the crowded city, a healthful walk of half an hour placed me where my favourite enjoyment was offered in abundance; and now, when no longer able to seek in fields and woods, and running streams, for that knowledge which cannot readily be elsewhere obtained, the recollection of my former rambles is productive of a satisfaction which past pleasures but seldom bestow. Perhaps a statement of the manner in which my studies were pursued may prove interesting to those who love the works of Nature, and may not be aware how great a field for original observation is within their reach, or how vast a variety of instructive objects are easily accessible, even to the occupants of a bustling metropolis. To me it will be a source of great delight to spread these resources before the reader, and enable him so cheaply to participate in the pleasures I have enjoyed, as well as place him in the way of enlarging the general stock of knowledge by communicating the results of his original observations.

One of my favourite walks was through Turner's-lane, near Philadelphia, which is about a quarter of a mile long, and not much wider than an ordinary street being closely fenced in on both sides; yet my reader may feel surprised when informed that I found ample employment for all my leisure, during six weeks, within and about its precincts. On entering the lane from

the Ridge-road, I observed a gentle elevation of the turf beneath the lower rails of the fence, which appeared to be uninterruptedly continuous; and when I had cut through the verdant roof with my knife, it proved to be a regularly arched gallery or subterranean road, along which the inhabitants could securely travel at all hours without fear of discovery. The sides and bottom of this arched way were smooth and clean, as if much used: and the raised superior portion had long been firmly consolidated by the grass roots, intermixed with tenacious clay. At irregular and frequently distant intervals, a side-path diverged into the fields, and by its superficial situation, irregularity, and frequent openings, showed that its purpose was temporary, or had been only opened for the sake of procuring food. Occasionally I found a little gallery diverging from the main route beneath the fence, towards the road, and finally opening on the grass, as if the inmate had come out in the morning to breathe the early air, or to drink of the crystal dew which daily gemmed the close-cropped verdure. How I longed to detect the animal which tenanted these galleries, in the performance of his labours! Farther on, upon the top of a high bank, which prevented the pathway from continuing near the fence, appeared another evidence of the industry of my yet unknown miner. Half a dozen hillocks of loose, almost pulverised earth, were thrown up at irregular distances, communicating with the main gallery by side passages. Opening one of these carefully, it appeared to differ little from the common gallery in size; but it was very difficult to ascertain where the loose earth came from, nor have I ever been able to tell, since I never witnessed the formation of these hillocks, and conjectures are forbidden where nothing but observation is requisite to the decision. My farther progress was now interrupted by a delightful brook which sparkled across the road over a clear, sandy bed; and here my little galleries turned into the field, coursing along at a moderate distance from the stream. I crept through the fence into the meadow on the west side, intending to discover, if possible, the animal whose works had first fixed my attention; but as I approached the bank of the rivulet, something suddenly retreated towards the grass, seeming to vanish almost unaccountably from sight. Very carefully examining the point at which it disappeared, I found the entrance of another gallery or burrow, but of very different construction from that first observed. This new one was formed in the grass, near and among whose roots and lower stems a small but regular covered-way was practised. Endless, however, would have been the attempt to follow this, as it opened in various directions, and ran irregularly into the field, and towards the brook, by a great variety of passages. It evidently belonged to an animal totally different from the owner of the subterranean passage, as I subsequently discovered, and may hereafter relate. Tired of my unavailing pursuit, I now returned to the little brook, and seating myself on a stone, remained for some time unconsciously gazing on the fluid which gushed along in unsullied brightness over its pebbly bed. Opposite to my seat was an irregular hole in the bed of the stream, into which, in an idle mood, I pushed a small pebble with the end of my stick. What was my surprise, in a few seconds afterwards, to observe the water in this hole in motion, and the pebble I had pushed into it gently approaching the surface! Such was the fact; the hole was the dwelling of a stout little crayfish or fresh-water lobster, who did not choose to be incommoded by the pebble, though doubtless he attributed its sudden arrival to the usual accidents of the stream, and not to my thoughtless movements. He had thrust his broad lobster-like claws under the stone, and then drawn them near to his mouth; thus making a kind of shelf; and as he reached the edge of the hole, he suddenly extended his claws, and rejected the encumbrance from the lower side, or down stream. Delighted to have found a living object with whose habits I was unacquainted, I should have repeated my experiment, but the crayfish presently returned with what might be called an armful of rubbish, and threw it over the side of his cell and down the stream as before. Having watched him for some time while thus engaged, my attention was caught by the considerable number of similar holes along the margin and in the bed of the stream. One of these I explored with a small rod, and found it to be eight or ten inches deep, and widened below into a considerable chamber, in which the little lobster found a comfortable abode. Like all of his tribe, the crayfish makes considerable opposition to being removed from his dwelling, and bit smartly at the stick with his claws: as my present object was only to gain acquaintance with his dwelling, he was speedily permitted to return to it in peace.

Under the end of a stone lying in the bed of the stream, something was floating in the pure current, which at first seemed like

« ForrigeFortsæt »