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ously they may enforce discipline in their own vessels, as it partially infringes on their personal freedom, is always deemed a grievance highly irksome and disagreeable; and if they can, by dint of a little overstrained exertion, escape to sea, from this unpopular etiquette, a day or two sooner, the task is always enforced with the most unrelenting rigour.
A short time, therefore, saw the Tottumfog's masts on end ready for sea, and a few days more brought her sailing orders, by which her ship's company heard, greatly to the satisfaction of our hero, that her destination was the North Sea, with her head-quarters at Leith Roads.
The day previous to sailing was expected by all to be one of great ceremony, which, in the version of the navy, is another name for one ushered in by excessive hard work; for it seems, whispers had escaped from that grand focus of internal politics, the captain's steward's cabin, that his worship was to be early on board-the clerk of the cheque meaning to muster the ship's company. Accordingly, shortly after day-break, they were roused by the boatswain and his mates piping All hands ahoy! Having turned out, and resigned their hammocks to the captains of the tops, who were vying with each other in their neatness of stowage, the holy-stones were produced, and to it they went, a-polishing the decks for a series of hours. As some of our readers may not entirely comprehend the meaning of this phrase, a few words of explanation may not be unacceptable. These stones have acquired the term holy, we believe, from the circumstance of their being used in almost every vessel of war at least once a-week-that selected morning being generally Sunday; when a good deal of extra scrubbing is gone through, previous to the word being passed for all hands to clean and dress themselves for muster and prayers. The manner of using them, again, is simply this :The decks being first well rinced with water drawn from the sides, and pretty liberally sprinkled over with sand, the holy-stones are next brought forward, and are large flat stones, from 112 to 130 pounds weight-of a soft, smooth bottom, with two iron rings sunk into their upper surface, from which are appended two hand
ropes, which the top-men lay hold of, and by dragging the stone to and from one another, in the manner of a saw, on the sanded deck, they thereby give it a smoothness and a whiteness which the most zealous scrubbing could never accomplish. Small hand-stones are used for those corners which the large ones cannot act upon; and, as in using them, a poor wight must get down on his bare marrow-bones, amid the wet and filth, they have long been known by the cant name of Biblesa term which, by the bye, we would remark en passant, is rather inauspicious to the high hopes of those very zealous and respectable individuals who augur so much good from a profuse distribution of the Sacred Volume throughout the fleet, since every thorough-bred man-of-war's man must naturally attach to the latter a large portion of that wicked wit, and thorough contempt, which he invariably feels for the former. The decks being therefore well holy-stoned, are once more rinced with a profusion of buckets of water, to carry off the sand, then carefully dried up with swabs, and the work is completed.
As soon as the decks were finished, and top-gallant yards sent aloft, the yards were carefully squared, the foretop-sail let go, a gun was fired, and blue Peter hoisted-the usual signal for sailing; all which being accomplished, the first Lieutenant now ordered all hands to clean themselves, and the breakfast to be piped.
At two bells, (nine o'clock) the boatswain's pipe announced the arrival of the Captain; and Edward, eager to behold his future commander, hurried on deck. From the very first good look he got of him, however, he disliked him; and it must be confessed, that even his best friends acknowledged, that Captain Switchem's appearance was by no means prepossessing. He was a tall, meagre man, apparently about forty years of age-of a grave, and rather severe cast of countenance, whose whole figure bore all the external marks of severe exhaustion, from a tropical climate. Yet, though his form had an emaciated appearance, and his features came under the description of cadaverous, he had a strong, keen eye, and a custom of shewing, in his rapid way of speaking, a finely-formed, excellent set of teeth,
which gave a certain cynical animation to his manner, altogether overwhelming and unpleasing. While Edward was coolly revolving in his mind the apparent accuracy of the reported character of his commander, to the living figure before him, the clerk of the cheque came on board, and the boatswain immediately piped All hands to muster, hoy!
No sooner was the clerk gone, than the Captain, ordering all hands aft the mainmast, took his station at the capstan, and began the following speech: "It has pleased the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty, my lads, to bestow the command of this hooker on me; and as we are to be together in future, I hope we shall agree well, and be good friends. I must, however, say, that I am determined to have nothing from you but strict, steady, good discipline. I hold in my hands the Articles of War, which are to be, in future, the rules of every man's conduct; and it shall be my fault if they are not strictly enforced; but as most of you already know them, I shall refrain from reading them at this time, certain as I am, that those among you who have never heard them, will, very likely, think they hear them soon enough. Two things, however, I must mention; for, by the sacred Power that made me, I am determined to enforce them with the utmost strictness, and to punish all aggressors without mercy. The first of these things is, I never will forgive a thief; and the second, I never will forgive a drunkard. Now, pay attention, my lads; I say I never will forgive e'er a one of you who turns out to be either a thief or a drunkard. No-so help me God, I will punish a thief in the severest manner wherever I catch him; ay, though I should leave my cott, and burn an inch of candle at it. Regarding drunkenness, my lads, I will take another way. You all know it to be a low, lubberly, beastly crime, to which, God knows, we are all liable enough at times; I mean, therefore, to make this one exception to its universal punishment. If it is committed by any one of you, while we are in harbour, I pledge you my honour, I will be at some pains in considering the offender's general character; and, as he performs his duty at sea, so shall he have every reasonable allowance given him.
But always bear in mind, my lads, that this great indulgence I will only allow to good steady men in harbour; for no person whatever shall escape the most rigorous punishment I can think of at sea.
"Now, my lads, although I know that it is not common for officers like me, commanding his Majesty's vessels of war, to condescend to explain to their crew their motives for either this or that punishment, I will yet be so honest with you as to tell you, that I have very weighty reasons for punishing both these crimes severely. We sail to-morrow, please God, for the North Sea station; and when you know that it is one which requires the utmost steadiness, good conduct, and sobriety, both from the variableness of the climate, and the intricacy of its occasional navigation, I am certain you cannot fail of perceiving my reasons for the punishment of drunkenness ; since it principally proceeds on a determination I have long ago formed, that every man, while God grants him health, shall always keep himself in a state fit for duty, and not trundle his labour on the shoulders of some other poor fellow, who has no manner of business with it; while he, forsooth, is either pigging it below, under his mess-table, or else scampering the decks like a fool and a madman, creating confusion, disorder, and mutiny wherever he comes. Again, when you recollect how very short most of you are in the necessary rigging for a North Sea winter, you certainly can neither think me harsh nor cruel, in severely punishing the scoundrel who would deprive e'er a one of you of the most trifling article of wearing apparel. I would ill perform my own duty were I to do otherwise; and it's a long look forward before pay-day appears.
"You now know my mind, my lads, on the two principal points I ever mean to quarrel with you on. going on shore to take leave of my friends; and as some of your old messmates may wish to see you before we go, I mean you all to be as merry as myself; and I shall accordingly leave orders for you to receive a double allowance of grog to-day, with which you may drink his Majesty's health, and a good cruize to us-if you have any left after that is done, you may add my health, and the rest of your
officers. Good bye t'ye be merry, but be wise. Boatswain's mate, pipe down."
The whistles were instantly blown, and the ship's company dispersed in high spirits.
Side, boys," bawled the quartermaster-"attend the side." The Captain, after some further private conversation with his first Lieutenant, at last made his farewell salute to all his officers; and again did the boatswain's pipe sound its long lengthened note as his gig shoved off.
All was now impatience for the commencement of the revels, and every minute was fifty ere the dinner was piped. At length came the happy hour; and at eating and drinking, with no duty to trouble him, who is so happy as Jack, either ashore or on board? It is no easy matter, indeed to convey to our readers even the smallest idea of a man-of-war's 'tween-deck, with all hands at dinner; for the long loud jolly laugh, the merry catch and cheering chorus-the shrill lively whistle, the ill-humoured boisterous squabble, and the growling deep-toned imprecation-all strike the astonished ear at the same moment with such a stunning noise, that one would think,
"Hell was broke loose, And all the devils were there."
As, however, the subject is not unapt to a season of jollity and merriment like the present, and as we find it altogether impossible to identify either the speakers or choristers, where all are speaking and singing at once, we have only humbly to propose that any of our readers, whether lady or gentleman, whose curiosity may be so far excited, are exceedingly welcome to take hold of our arm while we slowly take a walk round the crowded deck, and note down the living conversation as it strikes the ear.
"I say, Jack, what d'ye think of the skipper's speech? How d'ye relish yon whiinsy whamsy of his 'bout drunk at sea, and drunk in harbour, eh?
"Think! d-n me if I know what to think on't. Mayhap, taking a small drop of grog, when one can touch it, may be both lubberly and lousy
Lousy! why, Jack, he did'nt say lousy, man-he said beastly."
Ay, that he did, Jack,-for Nat and I were close under his lee."
66 Well, well, maties, and what the
devil else could he mean, I should like for to know, by beastly but lousy? Oho! my smart fellows, don't you be after picking me up before I fall; nor don't you go for to think that I've forgot what my old messmate, honest Dan Colfin of the Majestic, used to say.-Ay, he was the lad for my money, either fore or aft, thof he was a Scotchman !-and I'm sure he was a great scholard, for I've heard all our officers say as much. Well, says Dan,
Barnes, says he, whenever a fellow calls you beast, or beastie-I think 'twas some such rigmarole phrase he used, you may depend on't he means that you are lousy, says he ;-so up fist directly, says he, and knock the lubber down."
Vy, I doesn't know but what you may be right, Barnes, a'ter all; that there Scotch differing so much from our good English, you knows.—But I say, maties, what if our old Gibby there should get himself malty of an a'ternoon, as usual, when we're at sea?-My eye! what a cod's squint he'd turn up when the skipper would say to him, You are a low, lubberly, lousy swab, Gibby! Serjeant of marines, put that drunken beast in irons! (Imitates.) Saul! ye may do sae, your honour; but de'il a bone o' me's fu'.Silence, you old sinner! you are continually drunk, Gibby!-Boatswain'smate, give him a d-d good starting! You are worse than a pig, Gibby! give the scoundrel five dozen at least!
wouldn't give five skips of a louse for all you ever do, Gibby! d-n him, send him through the fleet!" Here the humble disciple of Matthews could no longer hold out against the resistless vigour of his own wit, but readily joined his messmates, who were con vulsed with laughter.
"I'se tell ye fat it is, Maister Lillyeuk, or fat e'er's your name, if thou disna clap a stopper on that vile potata-trap o' yours, d-n me but I'se gie ye a clank ower the canopy sall mak your day-lights sparkle again, and syne we'll see how you'll like that, my lad. Fa the deyvel d'ye think's gaun to stand your jaw, ye snuffle o' a creature? Confound ye! ye're just a very good sample o' a' the rest o' ye're d-d Cockney dirt-aye yattering and yelping whan ye're eating, or whan ye've your nose close to the bread-bag!But bide ye a bit, my man-we're gaun to a place where I'll maybe live
to see a hantle o' that cleck o' yours ta'en out o' ye."
"By my soul, you are right, Gibby, and Hollyoak's wrong. I believe we shall see your calf country, my old boy, very soon.-I say, Mack, what d'ye think's the largest tree in Gibby's country ?"
"O, how should I know. But what country d'ye call Gibby's?"
“Why, Shetland, to be sure.” "O! Shetland, is it-there I have you, matey, for many's the good glass of grog I've had in Shetland. The biggest tree that I know that grows in Shetland is, let me see, a large, tall, bushy, full-grown-cabbage! almost as high, by the hokey! as our grogkid there, ha, ha, ha !”
"Avast, avast there, Mack;-Pshaw! you should'nt be so d-d witty on Gibby's country, my lad, seeing you don't know how much you may be beholden to it yet before you hop the twig. For my part, I'll only say that the man that speaks glummishly of Gibby's country knows very little of the North Sea-I'm certain they don't -eh, Gibby? But never mind, my old soul; we'll very likely soon be in at Bressay won't we, Gibby? And then who knows but you'll tell little Ailsey to bring us plenty of murphies, and eggs, and soft tack-Won't you, my pretty Gib? won't you, my heart of oak?"
“Come, come, d—n your squeezing, Jack; my banes are a' sair already with your nonsense, I declare."
Here the whistle blew, and Grog, ahoy! was bellowed down the hatchway. The sound was heard with a shout of joy; and away scampered the cooks of the various messes with their vessels to the grog-tub.
The mirth grew now both boisterous and tumultuary; the very sight of the grog seemed to have the effect of raising the animal spirits to a higher key; and so very zealously was the carousal commenced, every one in the joy of his heart talking louder than his neighbour, while ever and anon the rude and boisterous chorus struck the ear, that one would have thought that young and old, in defiance of every caution their captain had given them, were in full march to a state of the most complete inebriety.
Scaldings, matey; scaldings!Hollo, you fellow! keep that filthy louse-preserver of yours out of my
way. Blast your day-lights, you lubber! if you make me spill this here grog, but I'll dance your rascally ribs into powder."
"Hollo! you sodger, mind your well blacked pins, my boy, and don't capsize the good stuff.
"Number five!-Number five!call number five below there!- Here, my old mate, lay hold of the grogkid; the hatchway's so completely choak-a-block with lobster-backs and barber's clerks, there's no getting down but by the cable.
"Come, come, heave a-head, old skulk-me-ever, and let me pass; our mess is on fire, and here is the water.'
"Weel, sirs, and fat d'ye think o' your fine Cockney now ;-ha, ha, ha! if I can keep frae laughing at it. D—n me, if the poor singit mumping cat hasna lost his call; and now ye'll hae obliged to wait till a' the sodgers are saired before ye. Saul! the brat was for starting me, sending me through the fleet, and fiend kens a' fat; but, in guid faith, if ye're a' o' my mind, the devil a spoonfae o' grog should wet his wuzen.'
"For shame, Gibby, to propose such a thing! I'll be d-d if you'd speak that way did you not expect to get a few of these same spoonfulls, as you call 'em, whistled into your own muzzle. All the mess knows that it's not a trifle you'll stick at when a glass of grog's in the wind-and how do you know but Davis may like the stuff as well as yourself?"
O, blast him! give the fellow his grog; I wants none on't, for my part. Rather cob him, I say; for he had plenty of time, and knew well enough we had the first call."
"Avast, avast there, maties, here he comes. Come, Davis, hand round, my buck, for we're all in a state of mutiny here:-and I say, old Catherine Street, tip Gibby a choaker at once, for he's swearing he'll grog you." (Chorus.)
"Nor never will I married be
Until the day I die;
"Well, well, maties, no more of that.-Come, Gibby, let's hear you give us a slice of your old pell the Bounty, that good old Spitzberger. I don't see why we should'nt be as merry as e'er a mess in the hooker on such a day as this."
"O, Greenland is a cold countrie,
And seldom is seen the sun;
And the day-light never is done.
Farewell, and adieu to your grand Spanish ladies,
Farewell and adieu to you ladies of Spain, For we've received orders to sail for Old England,
But we hope in short time for to see you again.
Tut's! here's to the Tottumfog, and a' that's in her. May she soon nail a prize or twa, and then scud to Shetland as she were driving to the wuddie; for, losh, maties, I'm gaun daft to see our Ailie."
"Huzza! well behaved, old Gibby -ha, ha, ha!"
"I tells thee, Tuinmas, thee hast goutten three tots already; how many wouldst thee ha' now?"
"What argufies that, my lad, when they wa'nt half full. Come, come, bouse me up another, matey-there's a good fellow-and I'll touch you up a flashy stave:-(Chorus.)
O, the rose it is red and the violet is blue,
stant to you;
Then let it be early, late, or soon,
<c Dang it, Tummas! that's always thy way; but I won't be sung out of my grog by ere a one. I tells thee once more, that I'se only the plush, and that I be's entitled to, an't I now? But, come, come, matey, thee needn't be angry either-there's another for thee."
"Angry!-no, no, I'm not angry, my old ship. Here's smacking luck to you, my dear boy, and a fistful of doubloons before you are many years older. Angry, in faith!-it's a very different story then, my hero !—If ever you see Tom Sykes angry-that's real savage, I mean-I'd advise you as a friend to stand clear, matey don't you go for to think that he's been at Copenhagen and Trafalgar for nothing.-Chorus.)
On the glorious the second of April, all
we bore away;
Lord Nelson on the poop did stand,
"Boatswain's mate! Boatswain's
"Call the boatswain's mate forward there, directly."
“Ay, ay, sir. Boatswain's mate! Forward there; pass the word for the boatswain's mate." "Hollo !"
"You're wanted on deck."
I wish your face I had never seen,
"Up there, sweepers, and clear away the deck! D'ye hear there, you Murphy, Davis, and the whole boiling of you! Come, come, no grumbling; it's of no use. Shoulder your brooms, and come over the deck as smartly's you like. Come, scud! D'ye hear there; fly, and be d-d to you!"
"Well, my lads, as I were saying, we had her by this time just two points abaft the beam-"
"You tie an earing, you swab! I would not allow you to stand at my lee-wheel.
"D-n me, if I don't think, some how or other, that our skipper will turn out a tartar, good weight, after all. He's got a smacking sharp cut the wind of his own, and I don't like his top-lights at all at all."
"Avast there, my hearty; after me, if you please. I say, maties, here's bad luck to Bet of the jetty, and to all the rascally smouches and humbugs of Sheerness."-(Chorus.)
Then we'll drink and be jolly, and drown melancholy,
Our spirits to cherish, our hopes, and our lives,
And we'll pay all our debts with a flying foretop-sail,
And so bid adieu to our sweethearts and
"Pshaw ! d-n the song !-hear me out, maties. Well, as I were saying, by this time we were all doubleshotted, and were just going to give her another physicker-'
"Ha, ha, ha! My eyes! twig canny Shields Neddy!-malty, by the Nor' lights!"
"You lie, you land-crab !—I'll walk on a seam with e'er a man of your mess." "By the powers, you may say it,