Puslapio vaizdai

amid smoke and grease, while my fine fellows are working and tearing away, -no, no, that none of you can say. I loves to head my jolly lads, shoulder my broom, and shew how decks are swept."

Ere this was accomplished, how ever, dinner had been piped for some time, so that it was late ere Edward appeared at the mess-table.

"God bless me, Davis, where hast been, lad?" cried Mrs Harley.

Edward told her the story of his new appointment, to which she made no reply until dinner was over, and the table cleared, when, beckoning to him, she told him, in a half whisper, not to be cast down, for it would be her care that he should not be over fatigued in the execution of that duty. "I have only to speak to that nasty fellow, Williams, and he must not, nor shan't, be too severe in requiring your attendance, for sweeping, at any rate; for if he won't, I knows another that will;-so keep up a good heart, child."

Edward began to express his grateful sense of her goodness to him, but Mrs Harley would not hear him. She playfully put her hand on his mouth, crying-" Lord love thee, child, I've got better news to tell you than that there. Harley, good soul, has got you a hammock, and I'll sling it for you myself, if he han't time, and you shall lay, this very night, right over head there, as snug as e'er a captain in the fleet;-so come, come, child,—there's your book for you-be handy,-for I've got such a vast number of trifles to chalk down you can't think,-pray God I had my own money for them again."

Mrs Harley was as good as her word. What passed between the sweeping captain and her, Edward never learnt; but, at his next appearance on deck, Williams took him aside, and, with a vivacity peculiarly his own, thus addressed him,-"Give me your flipper, my canny Scotchman, for, hang me, but I rejoice in your conquest. It is not every one, I can assure you, that could have cut our ma gical musicioner so completely in pie ces in such a short time. I'd only advise you, my young pell, now since you are in her books, to 'ware falling out with her, for, as sure as my name is Tom Williams, I can honestly as sure you, that if our precious Mrs Sue

is a warm friend, she is quite a skyrocket of an enemy-a complete tartar, matey-has the fist of a Belcher, and the tongue of the devil. You needn't join us now, if you've got any thing to do for her. I can do without you passing well, except of a morning, when the decks are washed, and to excuse you from that, my soul, is above my commission ;-so take your body off, and thank your stars in being the fancy man of the high and mighty Lady Soft-tack." With this brilliant speech, and laughing heartily at his own wit, he turned on his heel, and joined his comrades.

It may be easily imagined, that, under the patronage of such a zealous friend as Mrs Harley, our hero had abundance of leisure to mark the singular mixture of human frailty, craft, and rascality, which formed such prominent features in the society of most of our guard-ships about ten years ago,

peculiarities which have amused us so often, and which have struck us so forcibly, that we really think them, worthy a passing description, even at the hazard of being thought tedious by a prominent class of our intelligent readers, whose suffrage and applause' we would, nevertheless, think it our highest honour to enjoy.

The Grab, then, was a veteran of the old school, fitted with light topmasts, and slightly rigged, every rope being unrove, and sail unbent, which were not indispensible to make her swing properly, and keep her moorings clear, stationed by the wisdom of government in Yarmouth roadstead, for the threefold purpose of, first, Receiving all those individuals belonging to the service who had left their ships in bad health, on duty, or leave of absence, and keeping them comfortably, at their country's expence, until an opportunity occurred of forwarding them to their respective vessels; secondly, Of receiving all volunteers, impressed men, and gentlemen from the bar, with every other species of the desperado, whom the justice or fear of the laws of their country had possibly driven to seek that shelter on the waters which the land refused them; and, thirdly, Of serving as a victualler and restorateur generale to such of his majesty's vessels as might reach her station in circumstances of distress.

With this general explanation, it

may easily be conceived what a vast diversity of incongruous matter such a vessel contained; and that, amid such an ill-assorted mass, it was by no means unnecessary, as Mrs Harley observed, to bestow some extra attention on any little moveables you might be possessed of. The iron discipline of the navy, it is true, was by no means unable to meet all this, had it not been for the circumstance, that the very pith and soul of that discipline was lost in such a vessel as the Grab, it being impossible to bring it to bear properly on men who came probably one day, and were gone the next. When it is recollected, too, that the people actually belonging to such a vessel formed but a small proportion of her inhabitants, and that, even after enumerating her limited number of officers, petty officers, boats-crews, and marines, you have left a large majority of able and ordinary seamen, landsmen, and boys, with their attending females, disposable, like her other stores, for the exigences of the service, it was less a matter of surprise that such a laxity should exist, than that such a tensity of discipline should have been so firmly upheld. It was from the unavoidable and comparative idleness of a large body of this mass, that the most prominent features and peculiarities of a guardship took their rise; because human invention could not scheme steady work for the whole, and because skulk ing, which is impracticable in every other vessel, is deemed highly meritorious in a guard-ship. A great body of men were thus very often assembled together, totally unconnected and unknown to each other, who naturally resolved themselves into two distinct classes, as hostile and as completely separated as any two casts of the Hindoos.

The first of these classes, commonly terming themselves Sea-goers, were such individuals as, having been separated from their own vessels by any of the causes already mentioned, awaited here the first opportunity of joining them again; and, of course, having what they were pleased to call ships of their own, they considered themselves nearly as passengers in every other, worked very unwillingly, and skulked without shame. Besides, as in most guard-ships, they were looked on as men who deserved every indulgence, from the natural supposition of ha

ving undergone recent hardship or fa tigue, they generally availed themselves of this friendly feeling towards them, and did little else but lounge away the idle day below, or formed part of the mob of galley idlers.

The second, and by far the most numerous class, are termed Waisters, and were the simple, the unfortunate, and bandits above mentioned-a body of men who were always held in the utmost contempt, and most of whom, in regard to clothing, were wretched in the extreme. Having, in many instances, figured away in former years in very superior stations of society, it could hardly fail to excite a smile in the spectator to hear two such fellows quarrelling in a style of language which would reflect no disho nour on more elevated company. "Pon my soul, George," cried one of these ragged heroes to another one day, "I really understood from Jennings that you had been at the bread-bag, which has suffered severely from some ravenous scoundrel, and that was my sole reason for being so testy with you; but I sincerely congratulate you on my bad information, and can positively assure you, that, while I ask your par don for my ill-mannered suspicions, I shall certainly embrace an early opportunity of taking my foot from Mister Jennings's inexpressibles."

Nothing is considered too vile or too mean for a waister, a term which is equally applicable to sweepers, swabwringers, menials, and drudges of all descriptions. He belongs to a class accounted the very groundlings of the navy, and literally, in fact, live lumber; and it is against this unhappy class of men, in particular, that all the artillery of a guard-ship's discipline is directed. All the hardest and most dis agreeable duties in the service, there fore, which can possibly be practised, are from them rigidly and minutely enforced; and, from the circumstance of such vessels giving and receiving nearly daily supplies of almost every article in demand by the navy, there is a species of steady bustle kept up, which leaves the unfortunate waisters but little leisure for injuring each other. In defiance, however, of this hard and unceasing labour, and of the most rigid and unrelenting discipline the few hours of darkness, devoted to repose, are by no means idly thrown away; for most of them, in general

have both heads to plan and hearts to dare; and as the luxurious and licentious prodigality of the first class furnishes a tempting bait to the necessities of the second, neither talent nor ingeInuity are awanting to keep up a species of petty depredation not altogether unamusing to an unconcerned person. The proximity and daily intercourse which is held with the shore, too, renders these nefarious practices not only more safe, but makes discovery nearly impossible; for the boats crews generally participate in the spoil, and of course wink hard, and say nothing. In this way amongst many others, do the waisters supply themselves with many trifles, which, however insignificant they may appear in the eyes of a thorough-bred seaman, are, from early habit or long gratification, become indispensible to them for life and comfort.

An instance of this kind, which occurred on board the Grab while Edward was there, excited a greater degree of merriment than pity. Our hero was lying awake one morning, very seriously scanning his past and present circumstances, and the marines were busied in placing the morning watch, when the whole lower deck resounded with a medley of howls and imprecations, bellowed in the strongest Irish accent, which was almost instantly followed by a crash, as of something bulky falling, and rolling down the hatch-ladder. In a trice the bawler was surrounded by lanterns, carried by the ship's corporals and marines, and they certainly exhibited as laughable a sight as often occurs. There sat, squat on the deck, a brawny Irishman of the largest dimensions, of the name of Michael Brennan, in a state of almost complete nudity, within a circle of lanterns, gazing wildly around him with all the stupidity of one suddenly awakened. To all the inquiries that were made as to how he came there, &c. he returned no answer; but rubbing his eyes, and recovering himself a little, he clenched his ponderous fists, and exclaimed, " By the Powers, now, if my own day-lights could come over the spalpeens that hoisted me, bed and all, up that d-d ladder there, and then rould me down it again, like an ould clothes bag, if I wouldn't be after sarving them a ticket or two in the bread-baskets that would VOL. X.

make them remember Michael Bren-nan, sure, to the latest hour of their blasted lives, so I would now !—Och ! but they didn't roul my bed down after me?-No, no! that would have been too much of a good thing for poor, Michael.-It was, Give me your bed, says they, and the devil may fly away with you, Myck, says they, and bad luck to them!-Och! I'm complately ruinated, sure now !—All's gone, by Saint Patrick, now, to the last blessed skirrach!-My bed-my blankets-my tobacco-and six silver thirteeners my ould father left with me!-Blood and turf, master corporal, and all of you glim carriers, what were you doing now that couldn't be after keeping a better look-out; but you must allow people to be rob bed, and kilt, and murdered in this rascally manner?-Och! bad luck to you all, I say! and bad luck to the hour, and the day, and the old man, and the boat that first brought me among you!"

This pathetic harangue, and particularly the conclusion of it, was de livered with a rapidity and in a tone so irresistibly ludicrous, that a loud peal of laughter was the reply; which nettled poor Michael so effectually, that, regardless of consequences, he sprung to his feet, and every blow he gave brought a guardian of the night to the deck. This speedily made matters worse.-Michael was overpowered and put in irons; but the next day, in consideration of his loss, the narration of which convulsed every hearer with laughter, his punishment went no farther than a few days in irons, and the deprivation of his grog.

In such refined and cultivated society it was our hero's happy lot to remain for nearly six weeks; at the end of which period a Nore tender paid the Grab a visit, for the purpose of picking up her gleanings. Having taken an affectionate leave of his kind friends, Joe and Susan Harley, Edward immediately embarked, along with the other supernumeraries, to the number of about 150 men and boys, with the happy Michael Brennan at their head, leaping for joy. He no sooner got on board the tender, than wheeling about, and waving his piece of a hat in the air, he cried, taking what he meant to be a last view of his old dwelling, "Bloody sessions to you, 3 H

you ould tub of the devil!-May every tester you have nibbled from poor Michael Brennan, and that's my father's son, turn a red-hot shot to sink and to confound you! and may the ould fellow receive you, ship's corporals, boatswain's mates, sodgers and all, into his own ugly bosom!"

They now hoisted sail, and gave the Grab three hearty farewell cheers, which were as cheerfully returned; after which, throwing off the lashings, they set sail, and in less than forty hours were safely along the Namur at the Nore, who received them with the usual formalities.

We think it quite unnecessary to say any thing of the Namur, after being so minute in our mention of the Grab; for excepting a necessary en


largement of scale and magnitude, the good and bad qualities of the one were those of the other. She was a fine large three-decker, remarkably crowded, having nearly 500 supernumeraries on board at that time. Edward was hardly eight days on board her before he became so heartily sick of the monotonous life of a guard-ship, that he determined to volunteer for the first vessel that offered, whatever she was. As they were coming almost daily down from refitting in the rivers, his wish was not long ungratified; and in a few days thereafter he went on board the Tottumfog sloop of war, Charles Switchem commander, along with fifty others of all denominations in the service.

Inclosing his Journal and Poem.


I AM at length enabled to address you myself, and am the more gratified at having it in my power to do so, as those whom I have employed at different times to forward my labours to Edinburgh, have always made my interests subservient to their own, and (anxiously desiring to scrape an acquaintance with the Editor of THE MAGAZINE,) filled your pages with lying unintelligible trash, very much to the detriment of my poem, and to the deterioration of good taste and morals in general. I have done with secretaries for ever.

I enclose you the last Canto of Daniel O'Rourke, and a continuation of my Journal. You should have had it long ago, but that my time was almost entirely occupied since my recovery, with accepting the social invitations of my neighbours here, who do not think a party complete without my presence. This has been owing partly to my own convivial talents, but principally to the character of your Magazine. Indeed, like Mr Duffle your worthy contributor, it was no sooner known that I was Mr O'Fogarty who corresponded with Christopher North, Esq., than every door in the neighbourhood moved spontaneously on its hinges to admit one of the supporters of Blackwood's Magazine, (and, as I have been frequently termed) the Poet of Blarney.

Now that Daniel is finished, what shall I do next for you? Prose or poetry? it is all the same to me; grave or gay, humorous or pathetic, sober or satirical, morality or romance, history or-no, I cannot promise that, for I once threw off a folio History of Blarney Castle, which I offered to Mr ** and he refused the concern, alleging that I was not dull enough. Ever since, I have an aversion to the business; however, please yourself, but let me know as speedily as convenient.

I suppose Odoherty has already informed you that he is to spend the Christmas with me in Blarney; and the devil's in it if we do not make the "welkin ring" when we both put our heads together for Maga. Remember me to him,

and believe me,

[blocks in formation]

Myros Wood, Nov. 2, 1821.


[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

She went down to the well, and filled her pitcher and came up.

Genesis, xxiv. 16.

Eurip. Iphig. in Aulide.

Πίκρουςχερνίβας τ' ἀνάξεται.

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

[We have not room for the remaining 47 mottos.


C. N.J

"Tis said a gander once preserved a Capitol,
The truth of which I do not mean to doubt;
It might be so perhaps, and yet mayhap it all
Was merely humbug, though not yet found out;
But, readers, what you learn from me, pray clap it all
Down in your minds, as sterling fact throughout,
As certain as that flirts are taught to titter,
That claret's toothsome, or that gall is bitter.


The metre that I write in, I am told,

Has lately got much into disrepute,

Since the last cantos of the Don were roll'd
Forth on the world, good morals to pollute.

I therefore, as is right, intend to hold

My friends in short suspense. I'll soon be mute,
For this is canto sixth and last, and when

I've finish'd it, I lay aside my pen.


For this I know the public all will grieve;
But, by my faith, I've other fish to fry
Than writing for their pleasure; none believe
The trouble 'tis to find words to apply

And jingle sweetly: If I can achieve

This business well, 'tis true I mean to try
Some other matters. But (I do not puff)
Six clever cantos I think quite enough


Upon this subject. And since I can see
Apprentice boys, and Cockneys, dare to string
Their low ideas, patch'd up shabbily
Into this noble metre, I must fling

* Vid. Tit. Liv. Lib. Quint. Cap. Quadrag. Sep.

« AnkstesnisTęsti »