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waves which out-top her masts: indeed I can almost fancy that a good ship is imperishable at open sea; and could you know what hours has borne, you would be inclined to embrace the opinion. She has amply proved herself to be what the sailors term a good sea boat; and, from what I have said of our passage, you will feel the force of the technical expression that she can live in all weathers. The shocks and beatings she has withstood, are almost incredible. Often have I felt astonished that the huge seas and raking winds have not torn every plank asunder, and shivered her to atoms. Her topmasts, yards, and different parts of the rigging have been carried away—her sails spilt—the quarter boards stove in: things have been washed overboard from the deck—seas have broken over her—sprays dashed in the cabin windows—and various other accidents and disasters have befallen her: yet all have been repaired, and she still rides triumphant! “Often our party meet with drooping countenances, and sit down in gloomy silence, not recovering their spirits throughout the day ! At other times they grow restless and irritable, and cannot remain a quarter of an hour in the same place.— During the severity of the storm I have often remarked how differently the scene has affected the minds of those accustomed, and those who are unaccustomed to the sea. The sailor patiently observes the gale, lowers the yards and topmasts, furls or reefs his sails, makes all snug, and thanks the tempest for a holiday:—heedless of the perils which surround him, he extends himself in his hammock, or reclines his head on a plank or a locker, and, courting the tranquil embraces of Morpheus, regards the howlings of the storm as his peaceful lullaby. The landsman, on the contrary, is restless and impatient—listens in terror to the wind—and shrinks in agitation at every sound: the dangers that are, he magnifies, and his mind is tortured in the creation of others, which do not exist. Each moment to him breeds new alarms. He goes upon deck —looks round with affrighted eyes—his feet are unable to support his trembling body—he clings to the companion doorway, and thence ventures to steal a look at the ocean and its waves. His head grows dizzy—nausea seizes him, and he again descends to the cabin in extreme anxiety. He fixes himself in the leeward corner—places his elbows on his knees —his head on his hands, and, concealing his eyes, bewails his wretched fate Suddenly he again seeks the deck—multiplies all the perils of the moment—storms the captain and sailors with new questions, all expressive of his terror—fastens again to the companion door-way—gazes at the masts and sails— observes the yards dip into the ocean—feels the yieldings of the ship—imagines she is upset—fancies the masts are falling overboard, and in each rolling wave beholds a devouring sea. Destruction occupies his mind He returns below—impatiently seats himself—seeks relief in a book—is unable to read— throws away the volume—again takes it up, and again throws it down: nausea returns, and he is seized with dizziness and reaching. His bodily feelings now augment the anguish and disquietude of his mind, and at length as a remedy for both, he prostrates himself in his birth; but is still wretched and comfortless—all rest is denied him—sickness and anxiety remain—and he lies rolling, in fear and anguish, to wear out the fury of the storm 1 “When from the tossing of the ship we are unable to walk, or even to remain upon our legs, we seek a quiet corner of the cabin—seat ourselves—take up a book—and in patient reading hope for better weather. Occasionally we venture, in giddy and stumbling steps, as high as the companion door-way, and looking round prophesy gentle breezes and smooth seas. In these visits we often feel wonder and amazement at observing the carpenter and his mates working, quietly, in the tops: and the sailors hanging about the yards and rigging, in seeming unconcern—tossed by each rolling sea from side to side, far beyond the limits of the ship, and, not unfrequently, while seated at the end of the yard dipped and drenched in the foaming billows of the ocean The indifference of sea-faring men to the dangers around them is exemplified in every part of their conduct, and even in their common expressions. Often when we have felt the most vivid apprehensions from the fierceness of the ocean, and have tremblingly sought relief, by an appeal to the captain or the mate, we have met only a look
of unconcern, or at most, the laconic reply “it blows fresh.” From their quaint and technical terms it is difficult for any one, unaccustomed to sea, to know precisely what they mean to convey. Their degrees of comparison are peculiar to themselves, and at first not easy to be comprehended: taking the term fresh as the positive, they say it blows fresh—it blows strong—it blows hard: and again, to denote the severest possible gale, they assume hard as the positive—add an oath to form the comparative, and augment that oath to constitute the superlative: thus, it blows hard; it blows d---— hard; it blows d-hard by Previous to this extremity we are commonly furnished with an omen, by the captain coming down below to change his long coat for a short round jacket, and from this we always prognosticate unfavourably, it being a precaution which denotes busy, and perhaps, perilous employment. ‘Our steward is a very old sailor, tough as the ropes of the ship, and callous to every alarm; and, being the person more immediately about us, it most frequently falls to his lot to be teazed with questions regarding the weather, the wind, and the sea; and the steady apathy of his feelings, together with his excessive sang froid and unconcern, have been often subjects of remark—sometimes, indeed, of vexation to us. During one of our perilous storms, the wind having shifted to a point somewhat less unfavourable, although still blowing a terrific gale, the usual question was asked—Well, steward how is the weather P “Squally, squally, gentleman—the wind's coming about—be fine weather soon.” According to the feelings of this old weather-beaten tar, the severest tempests that we had suffered, had been only squalls, for, in the midst of the most tremendous gales, his reply had always been “Squally, a little squally, gentlemen.”—“Are we making any way, steward?” “Oh yes, fine wind, quite free, going targe, make sia or seven knots.” “But surely we have too much of this good wind, steward f" “Oh no, fine wind as can blow, gentleman—but a little squally—rather squally.” • The ship's company often reap much amusement from the little accidents—the ridiculous tumbles-–and the strange postures which the passengers are thrown into by the unsteady motion of the vessel: indeed we now feel so little alarm during a gale, that we sometimes disregard its perils, and join in their smiles and jokes at the ludicrous occurrences which happen among ourselves. Hogarth might have feasted upon them. In the confusion of motions, caused by the heavy seas, if we attempt to walk, we fetch way, and are tossed to the farthest side of the cabin, in all the odd and uncommon figures that can be imagined: and often before we can gain our legs, the ship yields to another wave, and we are tumbled in the most ludicrous manner to the opposite side, kicking, struggling, or crawling, amidst a confusion of moving chairs, stools, boxes, and other furniture. ‘Our dinner ceremony is often rendered a humorous scene: at this hour the cabin being the general rendezvous of the party, we meet—crawl, trembling, towards the table—and tie ourselves in the chairs. A tray is set before us, with deep holes cut in it for the dishes, plates, and glasses; the table and chairs are lashed to the deck; yet one or other frequently gives way and upsets half the things in the cabin Presently enters the steward with soup, followed by his little slave with potatoes; and the servants with such other covers as there may chance to be. But scarcely are the things upon the table, and the servants stationed, clinging to the backs of our chairs, before a sudden lurch of the ship tumbles all into disorder. Away go steward, servants, and little Mungo, to the lee-corner of the cabin: the soup salutes the lap of one of us; another receives a leg of pork; a third is presented with a piece of mutton or beef; a couple of chickens or ducks fly to another; the pudding jumps nearly into the mouth of the next; and the potatoes are tossed in all directions, about the deck of the cabin. One saves his plate; another stops his knife and fork; some cling to the table, thinking only of saving their persons; one secures the bottle; another, half fallen, holds up his glass in one hand, and fixes himself fast to his chair with the other. Chaos is renewed every thing is in motion —every thing is in disorder and confusion. At the next roll of the ship the servants, staring with amazement, again fetch
way, and with extended arms are tossed to the other side of . the cabin, where they cling fast, and remain fixed as statues, afraid again to move: and, although we are lashed in the chairs ourselves, it is with difficulty we can maintain our seats. Plates, dishes, knives, forks, and glasses, clatter together in all the discord of the moment: the steward and his boy crawling upon their hands and knees after the dancing potatoes, the flying fowls, or walking joints, are rolled over and over at our feet; and all is disorder and confusion. The ship now becomes steady for a moment; the scattered parts of the dinner are collected; and those who have escaped sickness, again attempt to eat. Some, foreseeing all these accidents, fix themselves in a corner upon the cabin-deck, and take the plate between their knees, fancying them in security: but quickly they are tumbled, in ridiculous postures, to the other side of the cabin, sprawling, with outstretched limbs, like frightened crabs. Some having no calls of appetite join not in the feast, but lie swinging up and down in their cots or hammocks; others remain rolling from side to side in their births. Some cry out with sore bruises; some from being wetted with the sprays: one calls out for help; another relieves his stomach from sickness; while others, lamenting only their dinner, loudly bewail the soup, the meat, and the pudding. Some abuse the helmsman; others the ship; and others the sea; while all join in a chorus of imprecations upon the wind.
• It has been commonly observed, that sailors have many prejudices and superstitions. They often predict a gale, from circumstances which seem to bear no kind of connection in the chain of cause and effect. The prejudice against whistling on board ship appears to be universal; nor do I remember ever to have heard a sailor whistle in any ship; beyond the common- whee-ew, whee-ew, when he wants a breeze; and passengers are even called upon to pay a forfeit should they, however inadvertently, be heard to whistle: but I forget that I am tiring you with uninteresting details, and that you may think my letter is growing as tedious as the voyage.
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