The World of Waters
Mrs. David Osborne
Part 2 out of 5
Whose courage well was tried,
Had made the vessel heel,
And laid her on her side.
"'A land breeze shook the shrouds,
And she was overset;
Down went the Royal George,
With all her crew complete.
"'Toll for the brave!
Brave Kempenfeldt is gone;
His last sea-fight is fought:
His work of glory done.
"'It was not in the battle;
No tempest gave the shock;
She sprang no fatal leak;
She ran upon no rock.
"'His sword was in its sheath
His fingers held the pen,
When Kempenfeldt went down,
With twice four hundred men!
"'Weigh the vessel up,
Once dreaded by our foes!
And mingle with our cup
The tear that England owes.
"'Her timbers yet are sound,
And she may float again,
Full charged with England's thunder,
And plough the distant main.
"'But Kempenfeldt is gone,
His victories are o'er;
And he and his eight hundred
Shall plough the main no more!"
MRS. WILTON. "I fear we are prolonging this evening's discussion
beyond the customary bounds; but I should not be satisfied to quit
the Channel without a peep at rocky Eddystone."
GEORGE. "Mamma is very anxious to see the Lighthouse, and so am I.
It appears to me a most wonderful building, standing as it does,
surrounded by foaming waves, and in constant danger from winds and
storms. Who knows anything about it?"
EMMA. "I do! the Eddystone Lighthouse is built on a rock in the
Channel, about fifteen miles south-south-west from the citadel of
Plymouth. It is, as George remarked, exposed to winds and waves, for
the heavy swells from the Bay of Biscay and the Atlantic Ocean send
the waves breaking over the rock with prodigious fury. The first
Lighthouse erected on these rocks was the work of a gentleman named
Winstanley; it stood four years, when he was so confident of its
stability that he determined to encounter a storm in the building
himself. He paid for his temerity with his life, and found how vain
it was to build houses of brick and stone to resist the mighty
waters, which can only be controlled by the power of the most high
God. Three years afterwards another Lighthouse was built which
sustained the attacks of the sea for the space of forty-six years,
but, strangely enough, was destroyed by fire in August, 1755. The
fire broke out in the lantern, and burning downwards, drove the men,
who in vain attempted to extinguish it, from chamber to chamber;
until at last, to avoid the falling of the timber, and the red hot
bolts, they took refuge in a cave on the east side of the rock,
where they were found at low water in a state little short of
stupefaction, and conveyed to Plymouth. The present Lighthouse was
erected by Mr. Smeaton on an improved plan: no expense was spared to
render it durable and ornamental; the last stone was placed on the
25th of August, 1759, and the first night the light was exhibited a
very great storm happened, which actually shook the building; but it
stood,--and it still stands,--a glorious monument of human
enterprise, perseverance, and skill."
GRANDY. "We have done so much to-night, and have been so much
interested, that I may venture to offer an apology for not having
prepared _my_ portion. It is now time for supper; and I think you
have heard as much to-night as you can well remember. Shall I ring
the bell, my dear?" Mrs. Wilton replied in the affirmative, and John
quickly appeared with the tray. Some nice baked apples soon smoked
on the table, with cakes of Grandy's own making, intended expressly
for the children, and which gave universal satisfaction. The meeting
dispersed about half-past ten, and all felt the wiser for their
There lives and works
A soul in all things,--and that soul is God!
For a few minutes we will quit the "Research," and take a peep into
Mr. Wilton's drawing-room. There is a bright, blazing fire; the
crimson curtains are closely drawn; pussy is curled up in a circle
on the soft rug; and Grandy, with her perpetual knitting, is still
in the old leather chair.
"But where are all the others?" I fancy I hear my readers'
inquiries. Look again. Who sits at the table writing so busily, and
every instant turning over the leaves of a large book? It is George.
Emma has gone with her papa and mamma to the Colosseum; but George
was obliged to remain a prisoner at home, having been much
inconvenienced by a severe cold. He is now working diligently to
create a surprise for his sister on her return; and anxiety to
please her gives such impetus to his exertions, that he accomplishes
more than he even ventured to anticipate.
Grandy perseveres in her knitting: she silently commends her darling
for his thoughtful affection, and occasionally pauses to cast a
glance of deep earnest love, not unmixed with a degree of pride, on
the beaming countenance of her favorite grandchild.
George completes his task, and causes his working apparatus to
vanish before ten o'clock; then, twining his arms around the beloved
grandmother's neck, he quietly whispers all the secret in her ear,
and awaits her approval.
She suggests that he preserve it until the next evening, and then
astonish the assembly by reading his extensive notes, the result of
the last two hours' labor.
George is delighted, and amuses himself with imagining Emma's
astonishment when he makes his grand display; and, with his mind
vigorously engaged in picturing the pleasures of the surprise, he
retires to rest.
Our young friends, Emma and George, were too sensible of the value
of time to waste it in idleness or trifling pursuits; consequently,
whenever you called at Mr. Wilton's, you might be sure to find them
occupied with some work, profitable either to themselves or their
fellow-creatures; and Mrs. Wilton in her daily instructions had so
combined practice with theory, that her pupils almost unconsciously
imitated her in the paths of industry and perseverance, no longer
feeling (as heretofore) the sad effects of procrastination; but
"whatsoever their hands found to do, they did it with their might."
Continually engaged, with no cares to harass, no troubles to
distress them, their hours and days flew on the wings of
hope,--laden only with fond recollections of the past, glowing with
the bright realities of the present, and wafting the perfume of a
glorious future crowned with the everlasting garlands of love, joy,
There was not much time lost in arranging their books and papers on
the evening of this meeting; but they were obliged to commence
without waiting Mr. Barraud's arrival, for the clock had struck
seven, and their business admitted of no delay.
They were soon seated. "Which way are we to get out of the British
Channel?" was the first question.
MR. WILTON. "There are two convenient ways for us to sail out of the
Channel: the one through the Straits of Dover into the German Ocean;
the other past Land's End, Cornwall, into the wide waters of the
North Atlantic. We will take the former direction, and anchor off
Yarmouth while we examine into the wonders connected with this
division of the mighty sea."
CHARLES. "The German Ocean is the eastern boundary of England, and
many of our most beautiful streams fall into its waters. I am not
aware of the existence of any islands in this ocean; and the only
fact I have to state concerning it is, that _here_ the French first
tried their strength with the English by sea. This happened in the
reign of King John, in the year 1213, and the account is as
follows:--'The French had previously obtained possession of
Normandy, and thereby become a maritime power, which qualified them,
as they thought, to contend with the English: they intended,
therefore, to seize the first opportunity of trying their skill;
but the English were too sharp for them, and came upon them when
they were least expected. Five hundred sail were despatched by John
to the relief of the Earl of Flanders; and on approaching the port
of Daunne, in Flanders, they saw it crowded with an immense forest
of masts; upon which they sent out some light shallops to
reconnoitre, and bring tidings of the enemy's condition. The report
was, that the ships had not hands to defend them, both soldiers and
sailors having gone on shore for plunder. Upon this the English
pressed forward and captured the large ships without difficulty,
while the smaller ones they burnt after the crews had escaped.
Having thus mastered the ships outside the harbor, the English
advanced to attack those within it; and here the full rage of battle
commenced. The port was so narrow, that numbers and skill were
unavailing, while the dispersed French, perceiving the tokens of
conflict, came running from every quarter to assist their party. The
English upon this, after grappling with the nearest ships, threw a
number of their forces on land; these arranging themselves on both
sides of the harbor, a furious battle commenced on land and water at
the same instant. In this desperate _melee_ the English were
victorious: three hundred prizes, laden with corn, wine, oil and
other provisions were sent to England: one hundred other ships, that
could not be carried off, were destroyed; and the French king,
Philip II. (surnamed Augustus), during the temporary retreat of the
English, perceiving the impossibility of saving the rest of his
fleet in the event of a fresh attack, set it on fire, that it might
not fall into the enemy's hands. Thus the _first_ great naval
victory of the English destroyed the _first_ fleet that had been
possessed by France."
GRANDY. "My opinions are no doubt at variance with the world; but it
does seem to me, that many of these warfares by sea and land are the
most unjust, wanton sacrifice of life and property, recorded in the
annals of history. I know that there are times and occasions when it
is necessary to do battle with foreign powers in self-defence, or to
relieve the oppressed and defenceless of other nations; such was the
glorious object of the battle of the Nile: but many, many battles
are fought with ambition for their guiding star, and high hopes of
honor and reward in this life to urge on the combatants, while their
zeal in the performance of the work of destruction is dignified with
the title of 'Patriotism.'
"We read continually of _great victories_; that, related by Charles,
is designated a '_great naval victory_,' and throughout, it breathes
nothing but cruelty and unwarranted oppression. It does not appear
that the stratagems used to win a battle are ever taken into
consideration: it is evidently of no consequence _how_ it is won, so
long as it _is_ won; and battles are more frequently decided by
resorting to means which are dishonorable, to say the least of them,
than by fair and open trials of strength. The discomfiture of the
French, in this instance, was most assuredly owing to the _cunning_
exercised by their enemies, and not, as stated, to their
superiority of skill or power: they were not permitted to try
either, but were attacked when unprepared, mercilessly robbed, and
slaughtered. And this was _a victory_. A victory over people who
were not allowed the chance of defending themselves. 'Tis true the
French had been tyrannizing over the people of Normandy; but a bad
example ought to be avoided, not imitated, as in this case.
Retaliation is no part of a Christian's duty, and was not required
at the hands of the English. What right has any nation,
deliberately, and for no other purpose than gain, to invade the
territories of another, to burn their houses, to destroy their
inhabitants, and to plunder them of all their possessions? Is this a
fulfilling of the law? Is this our duty to our neighbor? Surely not;
and yet such are the principal features in a _great victory_, from
which the conquerors return to be honored of all men--for which
bonfires blaze, guns are fired, cities are illuminated, and every
voice is raised to shout victory! victory! Such victories, my dear
children, are abominations in the sight of God. He bid us live in
love and charity with all men. His Son says, 'By this I know that ye
are my disciples, because ye have love one toward another;' and St.
Paul further desires us to 'love one another with pure hearts,
fervently;' adding, 'for love is the fulfilling of the law.' Much
more might be said on this subject; but I will detain the meeting no
longer than merely to repeat a few verses from a poem of Southey's,
written on the battle of Blenheim; which, as they coincide with my
opinions, afford me much satisfaction, because they testify that I
do not differ in sentiment from all mankind:--
"'With fire and sword the country round
Was wasted far and wide,
And many a childling mother then,
And new-born infant died.
But things like these, you know, must be
At every _famous victory!_
"'They say it was a shocking sight
After the field was won,
For many thousand bodies here,
Lay rotting in the sun.
But things like that, you know, must be
At _every famous victory!_'
"'Great praise the Duke of Marlbro' won,
And our good Prince Eugene."
"Why, 'twas a very wicked thing!"
Said little Wilhelmine.
"Nay, nay, my little girl," quoth he,
"It was a _famous victory!_"
"'And everybody praised the Duke,
Who such a fight did win."
"But what good came of it at last?"
Quoth Little Wilhelmine.
"Why that I cannot tell," said he,
"But 'twas a _famous victory!_" '"
GEORGE. "If I were an admiral, I would never fight for gain, and I
would not allow any of the men under my command to be cruel to the
poor people in their power."
"If you had the opportunity, my son," said Mr. Wilton, "I fear
that, like many others, you would be unable to resist the temptation
to show your authority over the vanquished; for great and wise men
have often found themselves unequal to the task of schooling their
hearts, to listen to the dictates of humanity, when surrounded by
the turmoil and excitement of a battle. But now, Charles. I must set
you right with respect to the islands, and inform you that there are
two well known islands in the German Ocean,--the Isle of Thanet and
Sheppey Isle. I refer you to Mrs. Wilton for their description."
MRS. WILTON. "The Isle of Thanet forms the north-east angle of the
county of Kent: from north to south it is five miles, and rather
more than ten from east to west. It contains many beautiful watering
places,--Margate, Ramsgate, and Broadstairs on the sea; St.
Lawrence, Birchington, and St. Peter's, inland. The whole of the
district is in a very high state of cultivation, and remarkable for
its fertility; the first market-garden in England was planted in the
Isle of Thanet There is a little place called Fishness, not far from
Broadstairs, which derived its name from the following
circumstance:--On the 9th of July, 1574, a monstrous fish shot
himself on shore, where, for want of water, he died the next day;
before which time, his roaring was heard above a mile: his length
was twenty-two yards, the nether jaw opening twelve feet; one of his
eyes was more than a cart and six horses could draw; a man stood
upright in the place from whence his eye was taken; his tongue was
fifteen feet long; his liver two cart-loads; and a man might creep
into his nostrils.' All this, and a great deal more, is asserted by
Kilburne, in his 'Survey of Kent;' and Stowe, in his Annals, under
the same date, in addition to the above, informs us, that this
'whale of the sea' came on shore under the cliff, at six o'clock at
night, 'where, for want of water beating himself on the sands, it
died about the same hour next morning.'"
CHARLES. "The size and other particulars seem probable enough, with
the exception of the eye, which certainly must be an exaggeration;
_one_ such an eye would be large enough for any animal, were he as
monstrous as the wonderful Mammoth of antediluvian days. Do not you
think, madam, that the account is a little preposterous?"
MRS. WILTON. "I think it is very likely, my dear, because there were
so few persons to write descriptions of these wonderful creatures,
that those who undertook the task were seldom content with the bare
truth, no matter how extraordinary, but generally increased the
astonishment of their readers by almost incredible accounts, which
they were quite aware would never be contradicted. We live in a more
inquiring age, and do not so readily give credence to all we hear,
without ascertaining the probabilities of such descriptions; and
exaggerated accounts are now merely regarded as 'travellers'
wonders,' and only partially believed.
"About seven miles south of the Isle of Thanet lies Deal, and
immediately opposite Deal is that part of the sea called the
'Downs,' which has long been a place of rendezvous for shipping,
where as many as 400 sail have been anchored at one time. The
southern boundary of the Downs is formed by the Goodwin Sands, so
often fatal to mariners. They were, originally, an island belonging
to Earl Goodwin, when a sudden and mighty inundation of the sea
overwhelmed with light sand, 'where-with,' as an old writer hath it,
'it not only remayneth covered ever since, but is become withall a
most dreadful gulfe and shippe swallower.'
"We will now bestow a little consideration on Sheppey Isle."
GRANDY. "I should like you to be aware, before quitting this
luxuriant Isle of Thanet, that it was here the precious truths of
the Gospel were first set forth in England: it is supposed, on very
just grounds too, that the apostle Paul was the preacher, who, in
the middle of the first century, spread the doctrines of
Christianity far and wide; and, from Rome, travelled to the isles of
the far west, in which is included this lovely little spot, where he
was received by the noble of the land. Instead of being persecuted
as at Rome, he was eagerly followed, and the peaceful precepts he
endeavored to inculcate were willingly obeyed.
"After St. Paul, came Augustine, who, in 597, landed in the Isle of
Thanet, was welcomed by the king of Kent, Ethelbert, then holding
his court at Canterbury. He, the second apostle, came to convert the
people who were again sunk into barbarism and idolatry; he came in
the name of the Most High, and his mission was successful. Ethelbert
at once appointed St. Augustine a suitable residence at Canterbury,
and gave him every facility of effecting his object, by permitting
him to hold free converse with his subjects. Thus you see Canterbury
thence became the 'nursing mother' of religion throughout the land.
The greatest ornament in the Isle of Thanet is its church at
Minster, built on the site of a convent founded by the princess
Domneva, granddaughter of Ethelbald, king of Kent. Now we will
travel on to Sheppey."
MRS. WILTON. "We shall not be detained there long with my
description. It is a little island lying north of Chatham, and
separated from the Isle of Grain by the river Medway. Both these
isles may be considered as situated at the mouth of the Thames. The
principal place in Sheppey is Sheerness."
GEORGE. "Now, dear mamma, I suppose we have done with the German
MRS. WILTON. "So far as I am concerned, my dear; but I have a notion
that you are in possession of some wonderful story which will
astonish us all. Is it so, my boy? Those sparkling eyes and flushed
cheeks betray your secret. I am not deceived. Permit me then to
request, in the name of the assembled members, that you will favor
us with the contents of the paper in your hand."
"Nay, dear mamma," said George; "your expectations are raised too
high. My paper only contains an account of a Yarmouth boatman; but
it interested me: and Yarmouth being a seaport on the shores of the
German Ocean, I thought it would be an agreeable termination to
this part of our voyage, and I took the trouble to put it into a
moderate compass for the occasion." George then unfolded two or
three sheets of closely written paper, while he enjoyed the amazed
looks of his sister; and so pleased was he at her expressions of
astonishment, that he was unable to resist the impulse of throwing
his arms around her neck, and kissing her affectionately. "You are
surprised, dear Emma," said he; "I only cared to please _you_ when I
wrote it, but now I will try to please _all_" He then, in a clear
distinct tone of voice read the following:--
#Narrative of Brock the Swimmer and Yarmouth Boatman.#
"Amongst the sons of labor, there are none more deserving of their
hard earnings than that class of persons, denominated Beachmen, on
the shores of this kingdom. To those unacquainted with maritime
affairs, it may be as well to observe, that these men are bred to
the sea from their earliest infancy, are employed in the summer
months very frequently as regular sailors or fishermen, and during
the autumn, winter, and spring, when gales are most frequent on our
coast, in going off in boats to vessels in distress in all weathers,
to the imminent risk of their lives; fishing up lost anchors and
cables, and looking out for waifs (i.e. anything abandoned or
wrecked), which the winds and waves may have cast in their way. In
our seaports these persons are usually divided into companies,
between whom the greatest rivalry exists in regard to the beauty and
swiftness of their boats, and their dexterity in managing them: this
too often leads to feats of the greatest daring, which the widow and
the orphan have long to deplore. To one of these companies, known by
the name of 'Laytons,' whose rendezvous and 'look-out' were close to
Yarmouth jetty, Brock belonged; and in pursuit of his calling, the
following event is recorded by an acquaintance of Brock's.
"About 1 P.M. on the 6th of October, 1835, a vessel was observed at
sea from this station with a signal flying for a pilot, bearing east
distant about twelve miles: in a space of time incredible to those
who have not witnessed the launching of a large boat on a like
occasion, the yawl, 'Increase,' eighteen tons burden, belonging to
Laytons' gang, with ten men and a London Branch pilot, was under
weigh, steering for the object of their enterprise. About 4 o'clock
she came up with the vessel, which proved to be a Spanish brig,
Paquette de Bilboa, laden with a general cargo, and bound from
Hamburg to Cadiz, leaky, and both pumps at work. After a great deal
of chaffering in regard to the amount of salvage, and some little
altercation with part of the boat's crew as to which of them should
stay with the vessel, J. Layton, J. Woolsey, and George Darling,
boatmen, were finally chosen to assist in pumping and piloting her
into Yarmouth harbor: the remainder of the crew of the yawl were
then sent away. The brig at this time was about five miles to the
eastward of the Newarp Floating Light, off Winterton on the Norfolk
coast, the weather looking squally. On passing the light in their
homeward course, a signal was made for them to go alongside, and
they were requested to take on shore a sick man; and the poor fellow
being comfortably placed upon some jackets and spare coats, they
again shoved off, and set all sail: they had a fresh breeze from the
W.S.W. 'There was little better,' said Brock, 'than a pint of liquor
in the boat, which the Spaniard had given us, and the bottle had
passed once round, each man taking a mouthful, till about half of it
was consumed: we all had a bit of biscuit each, and while we were
making our light meal, we talked of our earnings, and calculated
that by 10 o'clock we should be at Yarmouth.
"'Without the slightest notice of its approach a terrific squall
from the northward took the yawl's sails flat aback, and the ballast
which we had trained to windward, being thus suddenly changed to
leeward, she was upset in an instant.
"'Our crew and passenger were nine men--'twas terrible to listen to
the cries of the poor fellows, some of whom could swim, and others
who could not. Mixed with the hissing of the water and the howlings
of the storm, I heard shrieks for mercy, and some that had no
meaning but what arose from fear. I struck out to get clear of the
crowd, and in a few minutes there was no noise, for most of the men
had sunk; and, on turning round, I saw the boat still kept from
going down by the wind having got under the sails. I then swam back
to her, and assisted an old man to get hold of one of her spars.
The boat's side was about three feet under water, and for a few
minutes I stood upon her, but I found she was gradually settling
down, and when up to my chest I again left her and swam away; and
now, for the first time, began to think of my own awful condition.
My companions were all drowned, at least I supposed so. How long it
was up to this period from the boat's capsizing I cannot exactly
say; in such cases, there is _no time_; but now I reflected that it
was half-past six P.M. just before the accident occurred; that the
nearest land at the time was six miles distant; and that it was dead
low water, and the flood tide _setting off the shore_, making to the
southward; therefore, should I ever reach the land, it would take me
at least fifteen miles setting up with the flood, before the ebb
would assist me.'
"While Brock was making these calculations, a rush horse collar
covered with old netting floated close to him; he laid hold of it,
and getting his knife out, he stripped off the net-work, and putting
his left arm through, was supported until he had cut the waist band
of his _petticoat_ trousers which then fell off: his striped frock,
waistcoat and neckcloth, were also similarly got rid of, but he
dared not try to free himself of his oiled trousers, drawers, or
shirt, fearing that his legs might become entangled in the attempt;
he therefore returned his knife into the pocket of his trousers, and
put the collar over his head, which, although it assisted in keeping
him above water, retarded his swimming; and after a few moments'
thinking what was best to be done, he determined to abandon it. He
now, to his great surprise, perceived one of his messmates swimming
ahead of him; but he did not hail him. The roaring of the hurricane
was past; the cries of drowning men were no longer heard; the
moonbeams were casting their silvery light over the smooth surface
of the deep, calm and silent as the grave over which he floated, and
into which he saw this last of his companions descend without a
struggle or a cry, as he approached within twenty yards of him. Yes,
he beheld the last of his brave crew die beside him; and now he was
alone in the cold silence of night, more awful than the strife of
the elements which had preceded. Perhaps at this time something
might warn him that he too would soon be mingled with the dead; but
if such thoughts did intrude, they were but for a moment; and again
his mental energies, joined with his lion heart and bodily prowess,
cast away all fear, and he reckoned the remotest possible chances of
deliverance, applying the means,
"'Courage and Hope both teaching him the practice.'
"Up to this time, Winterton Light had served instead of a land-mark
to direct his course; but the tide had now carried him out of sight
of it, and in its stead 'a bright star stood over where' his hopes
of safety rested. With his eyes steadfastly fixed upon it, he
continued swimming on, calculating the time when the tide would
turn. But his trials were not yet past. As if to prove the strength
of human fortitude, the sky became suddenly overclouded, and
'darkness was upon the face of the deep.' He no longer knew his
course, and he confessed, that for a moment he was afraid; yet he
felt, that 'fear is but the betraying of the succors which reason
offereth,' and that which roused _him_ to further exertion, would
have sealed the fate of almost any other human being. A sudden short
cracking peal of thunder burst in stunning loudness just over his
head, and the forked and flashing lightning at brief intervals threw
its vivid fires around him. This, too, in its turn passed away, and
left the sea once more calm and unruffled: the moon (nearly full)
again threw a more brilliant light upon the waters, which the storm
had gone over without waking from their slumbers. His next effort
was to free himself from his heavy laced boots, which greatly
encumbered him, and in which he succeeded by the aid of his knife.
He now saw Lowestoft's high Lighthouse, and could occasionally
discern the tops of the cliffs beyond Garlestone on the Suffolk
coast. The swell of the sea drove him over the Cross Sand Ridge, and
he then got sight of a buoy, which, although it told him his exact
position, 'took him rather aback,' as he had hoped he was nearer the
shore. It proved to be the chequered buoy, St. Nicholas' Gate, off
Yarmouth, and _opposite his own door_, but distant from the land
_four miles_. And now again he held counsel with himself, and the
energies of his mind seem almost superhuman; he had been five hours
in the water, and here was something to hold on by; he could have
even got upon the buoy, and some vessel _might come near_ to pick
him up, and the question was, could he yet hold out four miles?
'But,' said he, 'I knew the night air would soon finish me, and had
I stayed but a few minutes upon it, and then _altered_ my mind, how
did I know that my limbs would again resume their office?' He found
the tide was broke; it did not run so strong; so he abandoned the
buoy, and steered for the land, towards which, with the wind from
the eastward, he found he was now fast approaching. The last trial
of his fortitude was now at hand, for which he was totally
unprepared, and which he considered (having the superstition of a
sailor) the most difficult of any he had to combat. Soon after he
left the buoy, he heard just above his head a sort of whiffing
sound, which his imagination conjured into the prelude to the
'rushing of a mighty wind,' and close to his ear there followed a
smart splash in the water, and a sudden shriek that went through
him,--such as is heard
"'When the lone sea-bird wakes its wildest cry.'
"The fact was, a large gray gull, mistaking him for a corpse, had
made a dash at him, and its loud discordant scream in a moment
brought a countless number of these formidable birds together, all
prepared to contest for a share of the spoil. These large and
powerful foes he had now to scare from their intended prey, and, by
shouting and splashing with his hands and feet, in a few minutes
"He now caught sight of a vessel at anchor, but a great way off,
and to get within hail of her he must swim over Carton Sands (the
grave of thousands), the breakers at this time showing their angry
white crests. As he approached, the wind suddenly changed; the
consequence of which was that the swell of the sea met him. Here is
his own description:--'I got a great deal of water down my throat,
which greatly weakened me, and I felt certain, that, should this
continue, it would soon be all over, and I prayed that the wind
might change, or that God would take away my senses before I felt
what it was to drown. In less time than I am telling you, I had
driven over the sands into smooth water; the _wind and swell came
again from the eastward_, and my strength returned to me as fresh as
in the beginning.'
"He now felt certain that he could reach the shore; but he
considered it would be better to get within hail of the brig, some
distance to the southward of him, and the most difficult task of the
two, as the ebb tide was now running, which, although it carried him
towards the land, set to the northward; and to gain the object of
his choice would require much greater exertion. Here, again, are
Brock's reflections:--'If I gained the shore, could I get out of the
surf, which at this time was heavy on the beach? And, supposing I
succeeded in this point, should I be able to walk, climb the cliffs,
and get to a house? if not, there was little chance of life
remaining long in me: but if I could make myself heard on board the
brig, then I should secure immediate assistance. I got within two
hundred yards of her, the nearest possible approach, and, summoning
all my strength, I sung out as bravely as if I had been on shore.'
"'The seaman's cry was heard along the deep.'
"He was answered from the deck; a boat was instantly lowered; and at
half-past 1 A.M., having swam _seven hours_ in an October night, he
was safe on board the brig Betsey of Sunderland, coal laden, at
anchor in Corton Roads, fourteen miles from the spot where the boat
was capsized. The captain's name was CHRISTIAN!
"Once safe on board, 'nature cried enough:' he fainted, and
continued insensible for some time. All that humanity could suggest
was done for him by Christian and his crew: they had no spirits on
board, but they had bottled ale, which they made warm, and by
placing Brock before a good fire, rubbing him dry, and putting him
in hot blankets, he was at length, with great difficulty, enabled to
get a little of the ale down his throat; but it caused excruciating
pain, as his throat was in a state of high inflammation from
breathing (as a swimmer does) so long the saline particles of sea
and air, and it was now swollen very much, and, as he says, he
feared he should be suffocated. He, however, after a little time,
fell into a sleep, which refreshed and strengthened him, but he
awoke to intense bodily suffering. Round his neck and chest he was
perfectly flayed; the soles of his feet, hands, and other parts were
also equally excoriated. In this state, at about 9 A.M., the brig
getting under weigh with the tide, he was put on shore at Lowestoft
in Suffolk, and immediately despatched a messenger to Yarmouth, with
the sad tidings of the fate of the yawl and the rest of her crew.
Being safely housed under the roof of a relative, with good nursing
and medical assistance, in five days from the time of the accident,
with a firm step he walked back to Yarmouth, to confirm the
wonderful rumors circulated respecting him, and to receive the
congratulations of his friends. The knife, which he considers as the
great means of his being saved, is preserved with great care, and in
all probability will be shown a century hence by the descendants of
this man. It is a common horn-handle knife, having one blade about
five inches long. A piece of silver is now riveted on, and covers
one side, on which is the following inscription:--
"' BROWN, EMERSON, SMITH, BRAY, BUDDS, FENN, RUSHMERE,
BOULT:--BROCK, aided by this knife, was saved after being 7-1/2
hours in the sea. _October_ 6. 1835.'
"'It was a curious thing,' observed Brock when relating his story,
'that I had been without a knife for some time, and only purchased
this two days before it became so useful to me; and having had to
make some boat's tholes, it was as sharp as a razor. I ought to be a
good-living chap,' continued he, 'for three times I have been saved
by swimming. What I did on this night, I know I could not have done
of myself, but God strengthened me. I never asked for anything but
it was given me.'
"This man had great faith, and he had also other good traits in his
character. A large subscription was made for the widows and children
of Brock's unfortunate companions; and a fund being established for
their relief, the surplus was offered to him. This was his answer:
'I am much obliged to you, gentlemen, but, thank God! I can still
get my own living as well as ever, and I could not spend the money
that was given to the fatherless and widow.' In contemplating the
feat of this extraordinary man, it must appear to every one, that
his bodily prowess, gigantic as it is, appears as dust in the
balance compared with the powers of his mind. To think and to judge
rightly under some of the most appalling circumstances that ever
surrounded mortal man, to reject the delusive for the arduous, to
resolve and to execute, form such a combination of the best and
rarest attributes of our nature, that where are we to look for them
in the same man? Brock at the time of this disastrous affair was
thirty-one years of age, a fine, stout, athletic man, and as upright
in his life and conversation as he was in his very handsome person."
George read all this so clearly and distinctly, that he really
merited the praise bestowed upon him: even Grandy, generally too
partial, did not award him more than he deserved, for it was a great
work for a boy of his age.
"My dear boy." said Mr. Wilton, "I am quite delighted to find you
have been so industrious, as it proves most satisfactorily that you
are resolved to overcome all obstacles of weariness or difficulty in
order to accomplish the great end--the attainment of useful
knowledge. I am much, _very much_, pleased with you, my dear boy."
The color mounted to the cheeks of the happy child, and in those few
moments of heartfelt joy he was amply repaid for the previous
"Where sail we next?" inquired Mrs. Wilton.
EMMA. "The North Sea is the track, dear mamma. I am sorry Mr.
Barraud has not come, as he, having been to Scotland, might have
helped us considerably. However, Dora is prepared with some
particulars, and we need not be idling because of the absence of one
"No, indeed!" exclaimed Mr. Wilton, "for I have a few words to say
on that subject; so sail on, Dora, and 'I'll give thee a wind.'"
"And I another," added Charles; "for I have actually been along the
coasts that are washed by the blue waves of the North Sea, and can
say a _few words_ after our honored member in the chair."
DORA. "The North Sea washes the shores of Scotland, Denmark, and
Norway. There are a great many islands in this sea, many more than I
can enumerate. Near Scotland there are several little unimportant
places of trifling interest, of which I should be glad to gain some
information, as at present I know nothing more than that they are
there, are inhabited, and tolerably fertile."
CHARLES. "I believe I can enlighten you to a certain extent, Dora,
at least so far that you may acknowledge that there are interesting
places in the North Sea near Scotland. Ten leagues, or thirty
geographical miles, north of the ancient castle of Dunglass (once
the head-quarters of Oliver Cromwell) lies the Bell Rock: you can
see it in the map, just off the mouth of the Tay, and close to the
northern side of the great estuary called the Firth of Forth. Up to
the commencement of the present century, this rock was justly
considered one of the most formidable dangers that the navigators of
the North Sea had to encounter. Its head, merged under the surface
during greater part of the tide, at no time made much show above the
water. There was nothing for it, therefore, but to keep well clear
of the mischief, or, as seamen express themselves, to give the rock
a wide berth. Ships, accordingly, bound for the Forth, in their
constant terror of this ugly reef, not content with giving it ten or
even twenty miles of elbow room, must needs edge off a little more
to the south, so as to hug the shore in such a way, that when the
wind chopped round to the northward, as it often did, these
over-cautious navigators became embayed in a deep bight to the
westward of Fast Castle. If the breeze freshened before they had
time to work out, they paid dearly for their apprehensions of the
Bell Rock, by driving upon ledges fully as sharp and far more
extensive and inevitable. The consequence was that from three to
four vessels, or sometimes half a dozen, used to be wrecked each
winter. Captain Basil Hall in speaking of this place says, 'Perhaps
there are few more exciting spectacles than a vessel stranded on a
lee-shore, and especially such a shore, which is fringed with reefs
extending far out and offering no spot for shelter. The hapless
ship lies dismasted, bilged, and beat about by the waves, with the
despairing crew clinging to the wreck, or to the shrouds, and
uttering cries totally inaudible in the roar of the sea; while at
each successive dash of the breakers the number of the survivors is
thinned, till at length they all disappear. The gallant bark then
goes to pieces, and the coast for a league on either side is strewed
with broken planks, masts, boxes, and ruined portions of the goodly
cargo, with which, a few hours before, she was securely freighted,
and dancing merrily over the waters.' I am happy to add, in
conclusion, that this fatal Bell Rock, the direct and indirect cause
of so many losses, has been converted into one of the greatest
sources of security that navigation is capable of receiving. By
means of scientific skill, aided by well-managed perseverance, with
the example of the Eddystone to copy from, a lighthouse, one hundred
and twenty feet high, has been raised upon this formidable reef, by
Mr. Robert Stevenson, the skilful engineer of the 'Northern Lights;'
so that the mariner, instead of doing all he can to avoid the spot
once so much dreaded, now eagerly runs for it, and counts himself
happy when he gets sight of the revolving star on the top, which,
from its being variously colored he can distinguish from any other
light in that quarter. He is then enabled to steer directly for his
port in perfect security, though the night be never so dark."
Mr. Wilton remarked how much one man, by the right use of the
talents he possessed, might benefit his fellow-creatures, when he
was interrupted by the entrance of Mr. Barraud.
A welcome rose to every lip, and Mr. Barraud apologized for being so
late, adding that he had been detained by a friend who was about to
start for Scotland, and wished to have an hour's conversation with
him before his departure.
"How singular!" exclaimed Mr. Wilton; "we have been regretting your
absence particularly this evening, because we are navigating the
North Sea, where you have been so often tossed to and fro, and we
thought it quite possible you might have met with some amusing or
instructive incidents in your travels along the coast, which would
agreeably relieve the tedium of our voyage. Now I see no reason why
you should not accompany your friend to Scotland, and charm us with
a soul-stirring narrative of real life."
"Oh! I perceive the state of affairs clearly," said Mr. Barraud;
"the young folks are getting weary of the monotony of a sea voyage,
and desire to step ashore again."
"No! no! we are not tired," anxiously exclaimed the little group.
"But," said Charles, "it makes a voyage so much more pleasant when
we drop anchor now and then, to look around on the beauties of other
lands; and more profitable also, if we learn something of the
customs, laws, and peculiarities of the inhabitants of those lands."
MR. BARRAUD. "Very true, Charles; and to gratify you I will relate a
story written by Colonel Maxwell, the well-known author of many
pleasing and instructive works, which will serve the purpose better
than any other I can think of just now--besides, to heighten its
interest, it is all true."
#JOCK OF JEDBURGH#
"During a tedious passage to the North, I remarked among the
steerage passengers a man who seemed to keep himself apart from the
rest. He wore the uniform of the foot artillery, and sported a
corporal's stripes. In the course of the afternoon, I stepped before
the funnel, and entered into conversation with him; learned that he
had been invalided and sent home from Canada, had passed the Board
in London, obtained a pension of a shilling a-day, and was returning
to a border village, where he had been born, to ascertain whether
any of his family were living, from whom he had been separated
nineteen years. He casually admitted, that during this long interval
he had held no communication with his relations; and I set him down
accordingly as some wild scapegrace, who had stolen from a home
whose happiness his follies had compromised too often. He showed me
his discharge--the character was excellent,--but it only went to
prove how much men's conduct will depend upon the circumstances
under which they act. He had been nineteen years a soldier--a man
'under authority,'--one obedient to another's will, subservient to
strict discipline, with scarcely a free agency himself, and yet,
during that long probation, he had been a useful member of the body
politic, sustained a fair reputation, and as he admitted himself,
been a contented and happy man. He returned home his own master, and
older by twenty years. Alas! it was a fatal free agency for him, for
time had not brought wisdom. The steward told me that he had ran
riot while his means allowed it, had missed his passage twice, and
had on the preceding evening come on board, when not a shilling
remained to waste in drunken dissipation. I desired that the poor
man should be supplied with some little comforts during the voyage;
and when we landed at Berwick, I gave him a trifling sum to assist
him to reach his native village, where he had obtained vague
intelligence that some aged members of his family might still be
"A few evenings afterwards, I was sitting in the parlor of one of
the many little inns I visited while rambling on the banks of the
Tweed, when the waitress informed me that 'a sodger is speerin'
after the colonel.' He was directed to attend the presence, and my
fellow-voyager, the artilleryman, entered the chamber, and made his
"'I thought you were now at Jedburgh,' I observed.
"'I went there, sir,' he replied, 'but there has not been any of my
family for many a year residing in the place. I met an old packman
on the road, and he tells me there are some persons in this village
of my name. I came here to make inquiries, and hearing that your
honor was in the house I made bold enough to ask for you.'
"'Have you walked over?' I inquired.
"'Yes, sir,' he replied.
"''Tis a long walk,' said I; 'go down and get some supper before you
"The soldier bowed and left the room, and presently the host entered
to give me directions for a route among the Cheviots, which I
contemplated taking the following day. I mentioned the soldier's
"'Sure enough,' returned the host, 'there are an auld decent couple
of the name here. What is the soldier called?'
"'William,' I replied, for by that name his discharge and pension
bill were filled up.
"'I'll slip across the street to the auld folk,' said Boniface, 'and
ask them a few questions.'
"The episode of humble life that followed was afterwards thus
described to me by mine host.
"He found the ancient couple seated at the fire; the old man reading
a chapter in the Bible, as was his custom always before he and his
aged partner retired for the night to rest. The landlord explained
the object of the soldier's visit, and inquired if any of their
children answered the description of the wanderer.
"'It is our Jock!' exclaimed the old woman passionately, 'and the
puir neer-do-weel has cam hame at last to close his mither's eyes.'
"'Na,' said the landlord; 'the man's name is Wolly.'
"'Then he's nae our bairn,' returned the old man with a heavy sigh.
"'Weel, weel--His will be done!' said his help-mate, turning her
blue and faded eyes to heaven; 'I thought the prayer I sae often
made wad yet be granted, and Jock wad come hame and get my blessin'
ere I died.'
"'He has! he has!' exclaimed a broken voice; and the soldier, who
had followed the landlord unperceived, and listened at the cottage
door, rushed into the room, and dropped kneeling at his mother's
feet. For a moment she turned her eyes with a fixed and glassy stare
upon the returned wanderer. Her hand was laid upon his head--her
lips parted as if about to pronounce the promised blessing--but no
sounds issued, and she slowly leaned forward on the bosom of the
long-lost prodigal, who clasped her in his arms.
"'Mither! mither! speak and bless me!' cried he in agony.
"Alas! the power of speech was gone forever. Joy, like grief, is
often fatal to a worn-out frame. The spirit had calmly passed; the
parent had lived to see and bless her lost one; and expire in the
arms of him, who, with all his faults, appeared to have been her
DORA. "What an affecting story! How sorry Jock must have felt that
he came so suddenly into his mother's presence; but his father was
yet alive for him to comfort and cheer in his declining age. I hope
he was kind and affectionate to him all his days, to compensate for
the loss of the poor old woman?"
MR. BARRAUD. "I trust he was, but our historian saith no more."
MR. WILTON. "There is a little cluster of islands between Alnwick
and Berwick called the Farne islands, on one of which was situated
the lighthouse where the heroine Grace Darling spent her dreary
days. These rocky islands have for centuries been respected as holy
ground, because St. Cuthbert built an oratory on one of them, and
died there. At one time there were two chapels on these rocks; one
dedicated to St. Cuthbert, the other to the Virgin Mary: they are
now ruins; and a square building, erected for the religieux
stationed on these isles, has been put to better use, and converted
into a lighthouse. Off these islands occurred that dreadful
calamity, the wreck of the Forfarshire steamer, of which I will give
you a brief account:--
#Wreck of the Forfarshire.#
"It appears, that shortly after she left the Humber her boilers
began to leak, but not to such an extent as to excite any
apprehensions; and she continued on her voyage. The weather,
however, became very tempestuous; and on the morning of the fatal
day, she passed the Fames on her way northwards, in a very high
sea, which rendered it necessary for the crew to keep the pumps
constantly at work. At this time they became aware that the boilers
were becoming more and more leaky as they proceeded. At length, when
she had advanced as far as St. Abb's Head, the wind having
increased to a hurricane from N.N.E., the engineer reported the
appalling fact that the machinery would work no longer. Dismay
seized all on board; nothing now remained but to set the sails fore
and aft, and let her drift before the wind. Under these
circumstances, she was carried southwards, till about a quarter to
four o'clock on Friday morning, when the foam became distinctly
visible breaking upon the fearful rock ahead. Captain Humble vainly
attempted to avert the appalling catastrophe, by running her between
the islands and the mainland; she would not answer her helm, and was
impelled to and fro by a furious sea. In a few minutes more, she
struck with her bows foremost on the rock. The scene on board became
heart-rending. A moment after the first shock, another tremendous
wave struck her on the quarter, by which she was buoyed for a moment
high off the rock. Falling as this wave receded, she came down upon
the sharp edge with a force so tremendous as to break her fairly in
two pieces, about 'midships; when, dreadful to relate, the whole of
the after part of the ship, containing the principal cabin, filled
with passengers, sinking backwards, was swept into the deep sea, and
thus was every soul on that part of the vessel instantaneously
engulfed in one vast and terrible grave of waters. Happily the
portion of the wreck which had settled on the rock remained firmly
fixed, and afforded a place of refuge to the unfortunate survivors.
At daylight they were discovered from the Longstone; and Grace
Darling and her father launched a boat, and succeeded, amidst the
dash of waters and fearful cries of the perishing people, in
removing the few remaining sufferers from their perilous position to
the lighthouse. The heroism of this brave girl, who unhesitatingly
risked her own life to save others, was justly appreciated and
rewarded. A large sum of money was collected for her, and many
valuable presents were despatched to the 'lonely isle;' among
others, a gold watch and chain, which she always after wore,
although homely in her general attire. Poor Grace Darling! she did
not long enjoy the praises and rewards which she so richly merited
for her courage and humanity: a rapid consumption brought her to the
grave; and her remains rest in a churchyard upon the mainland, in
sight of that wild rock, on which she earned so great celebrity. A
beautiful and elegant monument is erected to her memory, which will
trumpet forth her praises to many yet unborn."
GRANDY. "A curious circumstance occurred on these shores some years
ago, and was related to my dear husband by an old man at Aberdeen,
on whose veracity he could rely:--
"Three or four boys, one of them the son of a goldsmith in Dundee,
went out in a boat towards the mouth of the Tay, but rowing farther
than was prudent, they were carried out to sea. Their friends
finding they did not return, made every search for them, and were at
length compelled with sorrowful hearts to conclude that they had
"One night a farmer (father of the old man who related the story)
was very much disturbed by a dream; he awoke his wife, and told her
he had dreamed that a boat with some boys had landed in a little
cove a few miles from his house, and the poor boys were in a state
of extreme exhaustion. His wife said it was but a dream, and advised
him to go asleep; he did so, but again awoke, having had the same
dream. He could rest no longer, but resolved to go down to the
shore. His wife now began to think there was a Providence in it. The
farmer dressed himself, went down to the cove, and there, true
enough, to his horror and amazement, he found the boat with four
boys in it; two were dead already, and the others so exhausted that
they could not move. The farmer got some assistance, and had them
conveyed to his own home, when he nourished the survivors until they
were quite recovered. From them he learned that they had been
carried out to sea, and, notwithstanding their utmost exertions, the
contrary winds had prevented them returning, and they were drifted
along the coast, until the boat grounded at the place where they
were found. They had been out four days, without provisions of any
kind, except some sugar-candy which one boy had in his pocket; this
they shared amongst them while it had lasted; but two sank on the
third day, and probably a few hours might have terminated the
existence of the remaining two, had they not been providentially
discovered by the farmer. As soon as they were in a condition to be
removed they were taken to Dundee, about fifty miles from the place
where they were found; and the grateful parents earnestly besought
the generous farmer to accept a reward, but he magnanimously
refused. The goldsmith, however, whose son was saved had a silver
boat made, with the names of the parties and a Latin inscription
engraved thereon recording the event. This was presented to the
farmer, and is still in the possession of his descendants, and no
doubt will be long preserved as an heir-loom in the family of the
DORA. "I had no idea there were so many interesting stories
concerning the shores of Scotland, and in my ignorance I should have
travelled to the colder regions of Norway for information and
"Ay," said Charles; "but we have said nothing of Denmark yet, and,
to get into the Baltic Sea, we must sail for many miles along the
shores of that curious country. It consists of the peninsula of
Jutland, formerly called Cimbria, and several islands in the Baltic.
The boundaries of Denmark are, the Skagerac Sea on the North; the
kingdom of Hanover on the South; the Baltic, with part of Sweden, to
the East, and the North Sea on the West. I here wish to know if the
North Sea and the German Ocean are names used to designate all that
portion of the ocean which lies to the east of the British Isles,
for I have seen the different names placed in different maps to
signify the same waters, and have been a little puzzled to ascertain
"I am glad you have asked that question, Charles," said Mr. Wilton;
"because I now remember that for the convenience of our
illustrations we made a division, but in reality the North Sea and
the German Ocean are the same, and ought perhaps to have been
mentioned thus--German Ocean _or_ North Sea."
CHARLES. "Jutland, including Holstein, is about 280 miles long and
80 miles broad; the islands, of various dimensions, are Zealand,
Funen, Langland, Laland, Falster, Mona, Femeren, Alsen, &c.
Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark, is a large, rich, and
well-fortified town, situated on the island of Zealand; the
population about 100,000."
MR. BARRAUD. "Near Copenhagen stands the little isle of Hawen, now
belonging to Sweden, where Tycho Brahe took most of his astronomical
observations. There are many academies and public schools in
Denmark, which reflect great honor on the Danish government. There
are fine woods and forests in Denmark; indeed the whole country may
be regarded as a forest, which supplies England with masts and other
large timber. It is for the most part a flat country."
MR. WILTON. "The islands west of Jutland which you observe, viz.:
Nordstrand, Fera, Sylt, Rom, Fanoe, and others, suffer greatly from
the fury of the ocean. Towards the north of Jutland is an extensive
creek of the sea, Lymfiord, which penetrates from the Cattegat,
within two or three miles of the German Ocean; it is navigable, full
of fish, and contains many islands."
MRS. WILTON. "To get into the Baltic, we must go through the Sleeve
or Skagerac; through the Cattegat, passing on our way the little
isles of Hertzholm, Lassoe, Anholt, and Haselov; then, taking care
to keep Kullen's Lighthouse in view, enter the sound near Elsinore,
sail on past Rugen Isle, and anchor at Carlscrona, in the Baltic."
GEORGE. "The Baltic! the Baltic! I am so anxious to hear all about
that sea. All _I_ know is that there are three very large gulfs
connected with it, the Gulf of Bothnia, the Gulf of Finland, and the
Gulf of Riga."
MR. WILTON. "The two latter wash the shores of a part of Russia, not
generally much noticed in geographical works; I mean the two
divisions of the Russian territories, known by the names of Revel
and Livonia. The waters of the Gulf of Finland also extend to the
greatest town in this country of ice and snow, St. Petersburgh,
founded by Peter the Great in 1703, and seated on an island in the
middle of the river Neva, near the bottom of the gulf, and which,
from the singularity in its buildings, streets, people, and customs,
is well worth a visit. The inconveniences caused by travelling in
such an extreme climate doubtless prevent this part of Europe from
being better known to other nations."
GEORGE. "Is it so very, very cold, then, papa?"
MR. WILTON. "When our thermometer stands at 20 deg. we all exclaim, how
bitterly cold! everything around is frozen hard, and unless we take
violent exercise, and are well wrapped up, we feel extremely
uncomfortable. Now in this part of Russia, the thermometer is often
_below_ zero many degrees; and travellers, be they never so well
clothed, are frequently found frozen in their carriages."
GEORGE. "Their dresses are rather clumsy-looking garments, are they
not, and principally made of fur?"
MRS. WILTON. "I have an amusing description of the preparation for a
journey in the immediate neighborhood of the Gulf of Finland, which
will satisfy your inquiring mind, and afford us all pleasing
information. 'On the evening of the 20th of February, all the
juvenile portion of the family were consigned to rest at an earlier
hour than usual; and by six o'clock the next morning, little eyes
were wide awake, and little limbs in full motion, by the flickering
candle's light; in everybody's way as long as they were not wanted,
and nowhere to be found when they were. At length the little flock
were all assembled; and having been well lined inside by a migratory
kind of breakfast, the outer process began. This is conducted
somewhat on the same principle as the building of a house, the
foundation being filled with rather rubbishy materials, over which a
firm structure is reared. First came a large cotton handkerchief,
then a pelisse three years too short, then a faded comfortable of
papa's, and then an old cashmere of mamma's, which latter was with
difficulty forced under the vanishing arms, and tied firmly behind.
Now each tiny hand was carefully sealed with as many pairs of gloves
as could be gathered together for the occasion; one hand (for the
nursemaids are not very particular) being not seldom more richly
endowed in this respect than its fellow. The same process is applied
to the little feet, which swell to misshapen stumps beneath an
accumulation of under-socks and over-socks, under-shoes and
over-shoes, and are finally swallowed up in huge worsted stockings,
which embrace all the drawers, short petticoats, ends of
handkerchiefs, comfortables, and shawls they can reach, and are
generally gartered in some incomprehensible fashion round the waist.
But mark! this is only the _foundation_. Now comes the
thickly-wadded winter pelisse of silk or merino, with bands or
ligatures, which instantly bury themselves in the depths of the
surrounding hillocks, till within the case of clothes before you,
which stands like a roll-pudding tied up ready for the boiler, no
one would suspect the slender skipping sprite that your little
finger can lift. Lastly, all this is enveloped in the little jaunty
silk cloak, which fastens readily enough round the neck on ordinary
occasions, but now refuses to meet by the breadth of a hand, and is
made secure by a worsted boa of every bright color. Is this all?
No,--wait,--I have forgotten the pretty clustering locked head and
rosy dimpled face; and, in truth, they were so lost in the mountains
of wool and wadding around as to be fairly overlooked. Here a
handkerchief is bound round the forehead, and another down each
cheek, just skirting the nose, and allowing a small triangular space
for sight and respiration; talking had better not be attempted;
while the head is roofed in by a wadded hat, a misshapen machine
with soft crown and bangled peak, which cannot be hurt, and never
looks in order, over which is suspended as many veils, green, white,
and black, as mamma's cast-off stores can furnish, through which the
brightest little pair of eyes in the world faintly twinkle like
stars through a mist. And now one touch upsets the whole mass, and a
man servant coolly lifts it up in his arms like a bale of goods, and
carries it off to the sledge.
"'These are the preparations. Now for the journey.--It was a lovely
morning as we started with our little monstrosities; ourselves in a
commodious covered sledge, various satellites of the family in a
second, followed up by rougher vehicles covered with bright worsted
rugs, and driven by the different grades of servants, wherein sat
the muffled and closely-draped lady's maids and housemaids of the
establishment; not to forget the seigneur himself, who, wrapped to
the ears, sat in solitude, driving a high-mettled animal upon a
sledge so small as to be entirely concealed by his person, so that,
to all appearance, he seemed to be gliding away only attached to the
horse by the reins in his well-guarded hands. The way led through
noble woods of Scotch and Spruce fir, sometimes catching sight of a
lofty mansion of stone, or passing a low thatched building of wood
with numberless little sash windows, where some of the nobles still
reside, and which are the remnants of more simple times. And now
"the sun rose clear o'er trackless fields of snow," and our solitary
procession jingled merrily on, while, yielding to the lulling
sounds of the bells, our little breathing bundles sank motionless
and warm into our laps and retrieved in happy slumbers the early
_escapades_ of the day. There is no such a warming-pan on a cold
winter's journey as a lovely soft child. After driving thirty
wersts, we stopped at the half-way house of an acquaintance, for
here the willing hospitality of some brother-noble is often
substituted for the miserable road-side accommodations. This was one
of the wooden houses so common in this part of Russia, and
infinitely more pleasing within than without; divided with
partitions like the tray of a work-box, fitted up with every
accommodation on a small scale; a retreat which some unambitious
pair might prefer to the palace we had quitted. After a few hours'
rest we started again with the same horses, which here perform
journeys of sixty wersts in the day with the utmost ease; and when
evening was far advanced, our little travellers pushed aside their
many-colored veils, and peeped at the lamps with astonished eyes, as
we clattered up the steep hill which led to our residence in the
town of Reval.'"
EMMA. "Well, George, what think you of that? You are so partial to
cold weather, and are so desirous to travel in a sledge, do not you
think you would like to dwell in Russia, and go about always like a
GEORGE. "To travel in a sledge I should certainly like, but I would
prefer my sledge in Lapland, where the beautiful reindeer, fleet as
the wind, scamper over snow and ice, and convey you to your friends
almost as expeditiously as a railroad; but the wrapping up would not
suit me at all, for I like to have the free use of my limbs, more
particularly in cold weather; and for these various reasons I do not
wish to dwell in Russia, but should be delighted to visit it, and
should not even object to remain there a season. How much is a
MR. WILTON. "A Russian werst is nearly two thirds of an English
MR. BARRAUD. "There are people of almost every nation living in the
government of Reval, the chief town of which is a port on the Gulf
of Finland, of the same name. Within the last few years, the
inhabitants of this place have been making a growing acquaintance
with the Finlanders on the opposite shores, at a place called
Helsingforst, which is only approachable between a number of rocky
islands. The town of Helsingforst is clean and handsome, with good
shops, containing cheap commodities, which are a source of great
attraction to the Esthonians (or natives of Reval) and others who
reside in Reval; consequently, in the fine weather, parties are made
about once a fortnight for a trip to Helsingforst: these trips are
both pleasurable and profitable. The voyage occupies six hours in a
little steamboat; and, when landed, the voyagers procure every
requisite at a magnificent hotel in the town for moderate charges.
They then go shopping, buying umbrellas, India-rubber galoshes, and
all descriptions of wearing apparel, which they contrive to smuggle
over, notwithstanding the vigilance of the custom-house officers at
GRANDY. "I have read that the fishermen on the shores of the Baltic
are remarkably superstitious, and careful not to desecrate any of
their saints' days. They never use their nets between All Saints'
and St. Martin's, as they would be certain not to take any fish
throughout the year. On Ash Wednesday the women neither sew nor
knit, for fear of bringing misfortune upon the cattle. They contrive
so as not to use fire on St. Lawrence's day: by taking this
precaution, they think themselves secure against fire for the rest
of the year. The Esthonians do not hunt on St. Mark's or St.
Catherine's day, on penalty of being unsuccessful all the rest of
the year. It is reckoned a good sign to sneeze on Christmas day.
Most of them are so prejudiced against Friday, that they never
settle any important business or conclude a bargain on this day; in
some places they do not even dress their children. They object to
visit on Thursdays, for it is a sign they will have troublesome
guests all the week. Thus they are slaves to superstition, and must,
consequently, be a complaining, unhappy people. Now Dora, my dear,
DORA. "In the Baltic, north of the Gulf of Riga, lies the Isle of
Dagen, belonging to Russia, and containing some fine estates of the
Esthonian nobility. The dress of the female peasantry in this island
is so remarkable that they deserve a passing notice. The head-dress
is a circular plait of hair, braided with a red cloth roll, which
fastens behind, and hangs down in long ends tipped with fringe. The
dress is merely a linen shift, high to the throat, half-way down the
leg, crimped from top to bottom, the linen being soaked in water
with as much strong starch as it can hold, crimped with long laths
of wood, and then put into the oven to dry, whence it issues stiff
and hard as a board. The belt is the chief curiosity, being made of
broad black leather, studded with massive brass heads, with a fringe
of brass chains. High-heeled shoes and red stockings complete the
attire, and altogether make a fanciful picture of a pretty maiden
EMMA. "But such garments must surely be very cold?"
DORA. "The dress I have described is worn in the summer, for they
have a warm season for a short period during the year; of course,
when the cold sets in, they hide their faces and figures in furs, in
the same fashion as their neighbors."
GEORGE. "How very uncomfortable to be dressed so stiffly in warm
weather; and then they can surely never sit in such garments, for to
rumple them would spoil them, I suppose?"
MRS. WILTON. "It is _the fashion_ in Dagen, my dear; and there, as
elsewhere, many inconveniences are submitted to, from an anxiety to
vie with other folks in the style of dress, and from a fear of being
considered _old-fashioned_. I am sure _we_ English must not find
fault with the dress of other countries, for some of _our_ fashions
are truly ridiculous."
"Yes, mamma," said Emma; "but they do not strike us as being
ridiculous, because we are accustomed to them; and this must be the
case with other nations: they are used to their peculiar dresses,
and have no idea of the astonishment of strangers when viewing the
novel attire, which to the wearers possesses nothing remarkable to
astonish or attract."
MR. BARRAUD. "Near Dagen the navigation of the Baltic is very
dangerous; and many years ago the island was principally occupied by
men who wickedly subsisted on the misfortunes of others. A slight
sketch of one will sufficiently inform you of the general character
of these men. 'Baron Ungern Sternberg, whose house was situated on a
high part of the island, became notorious for his long course of
iniquity. He lived in undisputed authority, never missing an
opportunity of displaying his false lights to mislead the poor
mariners. No notice was taken of these cruel practices for some
time, for Sternberg was powerful in wealth and influence; until the
disappearance of a ship's captain, who was found dead in his room,
the existence of an immense quantity of goods under his house, and
other concurring circumstances, led to his apprehension. He was
tried, condemned to Siberia, and his name struck off the roll of the
nobility. His family, however, stands as high now as it ever did;
for his descendants were not disgraced; and they still possess all
the daring, courage, enterprise, and sparkling wit of their pirate
ancestor, although it is but just to say they have not inherited his
crimes. The sensation caused by the dread of this man reached even
to the shores of England, and the streets of London were placarded,
"Beware of Ungern Sternberg, the Sea Robber!" as a warning to
sailors. This of course was before his seizure, for when he was
taken his accomplices could not longer continue their vile
CHARLES. "I am anxious to know if it is from the shores of the
Baltic the Turks procure the golden-colored amber of which they make
the mouth-pieces for their pipes?"
MR. WILTON. "Yes, Charles; the amber-gathering is carried on
extensively there, and is the wealth of half the inhabitants. The
amber is sent to Turkey and Greece, and there manufactured into
those splendid mouth-pieces, which it is the pride of these
smoke-loving people to possess. Some of these are excessively
gorgeous and proportionably valuable. I have heard of _one_ being
worth the enormous sum of 100_l_!"
GEORGE. "Parts of Sweden are entirely separated by the Gulf of
Bothnia. What sort of ships have they, papa, to cross the water in
that cold country?"
MR. WILTON. "They do not often cross the water in ships, but
transact nearly all their business with the opposite shores, during
the four months when the waters of this sea, which has no tides, is
firmly frozen, and when they can travel across in sledges,
comfortably defended from the inclemency of the weather. The Baltic
being full of low coasts and shoals, galleys of a flat construction
are found more serviceable than ships of war, and great attention is
paid to their equipment by Sweden as well as Russia. We have
neglected to mention the Islands of the Baltic. There is the isle of
Oesal, remarkable for its quarries of beautiful marble; its
inhabitants like those of Dagen Isle, are chiefly Esthonians:
Gothland and Oeland are both fertile and productive. In the Gulf of
Bothnia are the Aland Isles, which derive their names from the
largest, forty miles in length and fifteen in breadth, containing
about 9000 inhabitants, who speak the Swedish language. These isles
form almost a barrier of real granite rocks stretching to the
opposite shores. In the Gulf of Finland lies the Isle of Cronstadt,
formerly called Retusavi; it has an excellent haven, strongly
fortified, which is the chief station of the Russian fleet."
CHARLES. "Is not the chief fleet of Russia that of the Baltic?"
MR. WILTON. "Yes; it consists of about thirty-six ships of the line;
but the maritime power of Russia is trifling."
MRS. WILTON. "As in leaving the Baltic we quit the shores of Sweden,
we shall have no other opportunity to view Stockholm, the capital.
It occupies a singular situation between a creek or inlet of the
Baltic Sea and the Lake Maeler. It stands on seven small rocky
islands, and the scenery is truly singular and romantic. This city
was founded by Earl Birger, regent of the kingdom, about the middle
of the thirteenth century; and in the seventeenth century the royal
residence was transferred hither from Upsal. Sweden was formerly
under the Danish yoke, but Gustavus Yasa delivered it when he
introduced the reformed religion in 1527. His reign of thirty-seven
years was great and glorious in the annals of Sweden. We will now
proceed on our course: shall we go still further north, into the
White Sea, or are you tired of the cold, and prefer journeying to
the south, and embarking on the Black Sea?"
CHARLES. "Oh! the White Sea first, for the distance is much less,
and we shall sooner get there; but it must be an overland journey."
MR. WILTON. "Yes; for the Bielse More, or White Sea, is reckoned,
with the Mediterranean and the Baltic, as one of Europe's principal
inland seas. The largest gulfs connected with this sea are the Gulf
of Archangel and the Gulf of Candalax; the waters of the latter wash
the shores of Lapland, and are filled with numerous small islands.
Archangel is a port on the White Sea; and here the Russians build
most of their men-of-war: before the reign of Peter the Great, it
was the only port from which Russia communicated with other
countries of Europe."
MRS. WILTON. "With a few remarks on Lapland, we will quit this part
of our quarter of the globe. Lapland can boast of but few towns. The
people lead wandering lives, and reside greater part of the year in
huts buried in the snow; occasionally they have warm weather, that
is, for the space of three or four weeks in the year, when the sun
has immense power; so that a clergyman residing at Enontekis
informed Dr. Clarke that he was able to light his pipe at midnight
with a common burning-glass, and that from his church the sun was
visible above the horizon at midnight during the few weeks of
summer. But the delights of this long day scarcely compensate for
the almost uninterrupted night which overshadows them with its dark
mantle for the remainder of the year; one continual winter, when
scarcely for three hours during the day can the inhabitants dispense
with the use of candles. The climate, although so extremely frigid,
is nevertheless wholesome, and the people are a hardy race. In
Lapland the Aurora Borealis is seen to perfection; the appearance it
exhibits at times is beyond description magnificent: it serves to
illuminate their dark skies in the long night of winter; and,
although they cannot benefit by it so continually as the inhabitants
of Greenland and Iceland, yet they never behold the arch of the
glorious Northern Lights spread abroad in the starry heavens but
they bless God for the phenomenon which they cannot comprehend, but
know full well how to appreciate. Here in this wintry region George
might enjoy himself agreeably to his wishes, for the Laplanders
travel in sledges drawn by the swift reindeer; but I fear he would
find it difficult to keep his seat, as the sledge is but of narrow
dimensions and easily upset, while the animal requires a great deal
of management to guide him properly. What think you, George? Would
you not be like Frank Berkeley or Paul Preston, who fancied it must
be so easy and delightful to ride in a pulk or sledge, and found
instead, that, from inexperience, their journey was one continued
chapter of accidents?"
GEORGE. "I dare say I should fare as badly at first, but I would not
be discouraged by _one_ failure."
MR. WILTON. "That is right, my boy! Perseverance and determination
are an extra pair of legs to a traveller in his journey through
CHARLES. "There appears to be no islands in the White Sea."
MRS. WILTON. "There are islands, but they are mostly barren
uninhabited rocks. Archangel, a port on this sea, is famous for the
manufacture of linen sheeting. Now quit we these dreary regions for
the bright and enlivening southern climes; and, if all parties are
agreeable, we will cast our anchor where we may behold the heights
of Caucasus, and picture to ourselves the situation of still more
interesting elevations; viz. Ararat, Lebanon, and Hermon; mountains
mentioned in the Sacred Writings, and certainly great points of
attraction to Christian travellers in Asiatic Turkey."
CHARLES. "There are several gulfs; but I do not know of any islands,
in the Black Sea. There is a peninsula attached to Russia, which
contains the towns of Kafa, Aknetchet, Sevastopol, and Eupatoria: it
lies between the Sea of Asof and the Gulf of Perecop. The principal
gulfs are the Gulf of Baba, the Gulf of Samson, the Gulf of Varna,
and the Gulf of Foros."
MR. BARRAUD. "The peninsula you mention, Charles, is the Crimea,
which possesses a most delicious climate, although lying contiguous
to the Putrid Sea, which bounds it on the north. There is an island
in the Euxine,--the Island Leuce, or Isle of Achilles, also called
the Isle of Serpents. It is asserted by the ancients to have been
presented to Achilles by his mother Thetis. In the Gulf of Perecop
there is also another island, called Taman, which contains springs
MR. WILTON. "The principal port on the Black Sea is Odessa. It ranks
next in Russia after the two capitals of the empire, but is not a
desirable residence, being subject to hurricanes and other evils, of
which _dust_ is undoubtedly the greatest. A learned French writer
says: 'Dust here is a real calamity, a fiend-like persecutor that
allows you not a moment's rest. It spreads out in seas and billows
that rise with the least breath of wind, and envelop you with
increasing fury, until you are stifled and blinded, and incapable of
a single movement.' The same writer describes a curious phenomenon
he witnessed in Odessa: 'After a very hot day in 1840, the air
gradually darkened about four in the afternoon, until it was
impossible to see twenty paces before one. The oppressive feel of
the atmosphere, the dead calm, and the portentous color of the sky,
filled every one with deep consternation, and seemed to betoken some
fearful catastrophe. The thermometer attained the height of 104 deg.
Fahrenheit. The obscurity was then complete. Presently the most
furious tempest imagination can conceive burst forth; and when the
darkness cleared off, there was seen over the sea what looked like
a waterspout of prodigious depth and breadth, suspended at a height
of several feet above the water, and moving slowly away until it
dispersed at last at a distance of many miles from the shore. The
eclipse and the waterspout were nothing else than _dust_; and that
day Odessa was swept cleaner than it will probably ever be again.'"
[Footnote 6: Xavier Hommaire de Hell.]
MRS. WILTON. "Such a description is quite sufficient to drive the
weary traveller to seek shelter; and I think we have had enough of
other places for to-night. Let us take our own at the supper-table,
and refresh ourselves after the voyage, for we have reason to
congratulate each other on the success of our plan; hitherto, there
has been no halting for lack of a finger-post, and I hope we shall
be as well prepared at future meetings, and be enabled to accomplish
as much as we have this evening."
GRANDY. "I have been silent for the last hour, principally because I
do not feel very well this evening; but I cannot refrain from
speaking a word or two before we disperse. A good and wise man
'Full often, too,
Our wayward intellect, the more we learn
Of nature, overlooks her Author more.'
My dear children, let not this be said of you; but look upward to
the Source of light and life, and pray that all knowledge may lead
you on to seek Him who is the author and giver of all good things;
then will wisdom, heavenly wisdom, illumine your minds; then will
peace, the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, fill your
'Reveal truths undiscerned but by that holy light.'"
O'er the stormy, wide, and billowy deep,
Where the whale, the shark, and the sword-fish sleep;
And amidst the plashing and feathery foam,
Where the stormy-petrel finds a home.
"George is to open this meeting, by reciting some lines written by
Mrs. Howitt, which are very clever, and will most appropriately
introduce our subject." So saying, Mrs. Wilton proceeded to arrange
the members in their various places; and, seating herself, she
turned to her son, who by virtue of his office was allowed to remain
near Grandy's chair until the great work was accomplished. George
was hesitating, but an encouraging smile from this kind mother
inspired him with confidence, and he commenced without further
"'The earth is large,' said one of twain;
'The earth is large and wide;
But it is filled with misery
And death on every side!'
Said the other, 'Deep as it is wide
Is the sea within all climes,
And it is fuller of misery
And of death, a thousand times!
The land has peaceful flocks and herds,
And sweet birds singing round;
But a myriad monstrous, hideous things
Within the sea are found--
Things all misshapen, slimy, cold,
Writhing, and strong, and thin,
And waterspouts, and whirlpools wild,
That draw the fair ship in.
I've heard of the diver to the depths
Of the ocean forced to go,
To bring up the pearl and the twisted shell
From the fathomless caves below;
I've heard of the things in those dismal gulfs,
Like fiends that hemm'd him round--
I would not lead a diver's life
For every pearl that's found.
And I've heard how the sea-snake, huge and dark,
In the arctic flood doth roll;
He hath coil'd his tail, like a cable strong,
All round and round the pole:
And they say, when he stirs in the sea below,
The ice-rocks split asunder--
The mountains huge of the ribbed ice--
With a deafening crack like thunder.
There's many an isle man wots not of,
Where the air is heavy with groans;
And the bottom o' th' sea, the wisest say,
Is covered with dead men's bones.
I'll tell thee what: there's many a ship
In the wild North Ocean frore,
That has lain in the ice a thousand years,
And will lie a thousand more;
And the men--each one is frozen there
In the place where he did stand;
The oar he pull'd, the rope he threw,
Is frozen in his hand.
The sun shines there, but it warms them not;
Their bodies are wintry cold:
They are wrapp'd in ice that grows and grows,
Solid, and white, and old!
And there's many a haunted desert rock,
Where seldom ship doth go--
Where unburied men, with fleshless limbs,
Are moving to and fro:
They people the cliffs, they people the caves,--
A ghastly company!--
never sail'd there in a ship myself,
But I know that such there be.
And oh! the hot and horrid track
Of the Ocean of the Line!
There are millions of the negro men
Under that burning brine.
The ocean sea doth moan and moan,
Like an uneasy sprite;
And the waves are white with a fiendish fire
That burneth all the night.
'Tis a frightful thing to sail along,
Though a pleasant wind may blow,
When we think what a host of misery
Lies down in the sea below!
Didst ever hear of a little boat,
And in her there were three;
They had nothing to eat, and nothing to drink,
Adrift on the desert sea.
For seven days they bore their pain;
Then two men on the other
Did fix their longing, hungry eyes,--
And that one was their brother!
And him they killed, and ate, and drank--
Oh me! 'twas a horrid thing!
For the dead should lie in a churchyard green,
Where the pleasant flowers do spring.
And think'st thou but for mortal sin
Such frightful things would be?
In the land of the New Jerusalem
There will be no more sea!'"
MR. WILTON. "Well done! George; very nicely repeated indeed: you are
a most promising member of our little society; and we will drink
your health in some of Grandy's elder-wine to-night at supper, and
not forget the honors to be added thereto. Now, is it determined how
we are to proceed; whether we take the seas of Asia, or enter on the
broad waves of the various oceans which wash many of the shores of
CHARLES. "The seas first, sir. I have the list of those for
consideration belonging to this most interesting division of the
globe: the Caspian, between Turkey, Persia, and Tartary; the
Whang-hai, or Yellow Sea, in China; the Sea of Japan; the Sea of
Ochotsh or Lama; the Chinese Sea; the Bay of Bengal; the Persian
Gulf; and the Arabian Gulf or Red Sea: these are the largest; but
there are numbers of small seas, some of them so entirely inland
that they should more properly be called lakes; of these, the
largest is the Sea of Aral. The bays and gulfs around Asia are so
numerous that you would be tired of hearing their names. North, are
the Bays of Carskoe and Obskaia: south, Tonquin, Siam, Cambay, and
Cutch; east, Macao and Petchelee; west, Balkan, Kindelnisk, and
Krasnai Vodi; the latter in the Caspian."
GEORGE. "Are those all, Charles? why, from your preface, I thought
you would be at least ten minutes enumerating the Bays of Asia."
CHARLES. "Were I to name _all_, I could do it in less time than ten
minutes; but I should incur too great a liability for my trouble,
as I should be expected to describe the situations of all, and that
would be beyond my capability."
DORA. "The Caspian falls to my share: it is usually called by the
Persians, 'Derrieh Hustakhan' (Sea of Astrachan). It is likewise
called the 'Derrieh Khizzar.' The absence of all shipping, save now
and then a solitary Russian craft; the scarcity of sea-weed, and the
want of the refreshing salt scent of the ocean, together with the
general appearance of the coast, suggest the idea of an immense
lake. Numbers of that large fish called 'sturgeon' are taken from
the waters of the Caspian; and there is quite a colony of fishermen
engaged in this occupation on the Persian coast; and during the
season they catch thousands of these useful fish. No part of a
sturgeon is wasted: the roe is taken out, salted, and stowed away in
casks; this is known by the name of 'caviare,' and is esteemed a
great luxury. From the sound or air-bladder isinglass is made,
simply by being hung in the sun for a time; and the fish itself is
dried, and exported to various parts of the world. Astracan is the
chief seat of Caspian commerce."
MR. WILTON. "And here the traveller finds collected into a focus all
the picturesque items that have struck him elsewhere. Alongside of a
Tartar dwelling stretches a great building blackened by time, and by
its architecture and carvings carrying you back to the middle ages.
A European shop displays its fashionable haberdashery opposite a
caravanserai; the magnificent cathedral overshadows a pretty mosque
with its fountain; a Moorish balcony contains a group of young
European ladies, who set you thinking of Paris; whilst a graceful
white shadow glides mysteriously under the gallery of an old palace.
All contrasts are here met together; and so it happens, that in
passing from one quarter to another you think you have made but a
short promenade, and you have picked up a stock of observation and
reminiscences belonging to all times and places. The Russians ought
to be proud of this town; for, unlike others in this country, it is
not of yesterday's formation, and is the only place throughout the
empire where the traveller is not plagued with the cold monotonous
regularity which meets him at every other city in Russia. The
Caspian Sea covers an extent of 120,000 square miles, and is the
largest salt lake known."
MR. BARRAUD. "Near a place called Semnoon, not many miles from
Asterabad, there formerly stood a city of Guebres, named Dzedjin,
with which a droll legend is connected:--
"'When Semnoon was built, the water with which it was supplied
flowed from the city of the Guebres, who one day turned the stream,
and cut off the supplies. Sin and Lam (two prophets), seeing the
town about to perish for want of water, repaired to Dzedjin, and
entreated the chiefs of that place to allow the stream to return to
its old channel. This they at first refused, but finally made an
agreement, that on the payment of a sum equal to a thousand tomauns,
or 500_l_., the water should be allowed to flow into the city as
long as life remained in the head of a fly, which was to be cut off
and thrown into a basin of water. This was done; but, to the great
astonishment of the Guebres, the head retained life during thirteen
days, which so exasperated them against Sin and Lam, whom they
perceived to be men of God that they sent an armed party to Semnoon
to make them prisoners.
"'Meanwhile Sin and Lam had received intelligence of their designs,
and fled. The first village they halted at was called Shadderron,
where, having rested awhile, they continued their flight, strictly
enjoining the inhabitants not to tell their pursuers the direction
which they had taken. Shortly afterwards the Guebres arrived, and
inquired where they had gone. The villagers did not mention the
direction in words, but treacherously indicated it by turning their
heads over their right shoulders, in which position they became
immovably fixed; and since then all their descendants have been born
with a twist in the neck towards the right shoulder.'"
Here the boys had some difficulty in repressing their laughter; for
Charles placed his head in the position of the faithless
Shadderrons, and looked so mischievously at George, that he was
obliged to cover his eyes, or he would have stopped the story by a
boisterous shout of merriment.
MR. BARRAUD continued: "'The fugitives next arrived at a place
called Giorvenon, on quitting which they left the same injunctions
as before. On the arrival of the pursuers, however, the people
pointed out the direction of their flight by stretching their chins
straightforward. An awful peal of thunder marked the divine
displeasure; and the inhabitants of Giorvenon now found themselves
unable to bring their heads back to their proper position; and the
curse likewise descended to their posterity, who have since been
remarkable for long projecting chins. After a long chase, the
Guebres overtook the prophets at the foot of a steep hill, up which
they galloped into a small plain, where, to the astonishment and
disappointment of their pursuers, the earth opened and closed over
them. It was now evening; and the Guebres, placing a small heap of
stones over the spot where Sin and Lam had disappeared, retired for
the night. Early the next morning the Guebres repaired thither with
the intention of digging out the prophets; but, to their confusion,
they found the whole plain covered with similar heaps of stones, so
that all their endeavors to find the original pile were completely
baffled, and they returned to Dzedjin disappointed. There is now a
small mosque, said to cover the exact spot where Sin and Lam sank
into the ground, which is called Seracheh, to which people resort to
pray, and make vows; and close by is an almost perpendicular rock,
whence (the inhabitants aver) may be seen the marks of the feet of
the horses ridden by the Guebres!'"
This story amused the children much, and they would gladly have
listened to Mr. Barraud while he related some other extraordinary
tradition, but his reply to their request silenced these wishes.
"Every place," said he, "throughout this wild country has a legend:
were I to tell you _all_, there would be no time for business. I
merely selected this because it is concerning a town situated on the
shores of the Caspian Sea, and gives you a tolerable idea of the
superstition of its inhabitants."
MR. WILTON. "The Caspian extends about 700 miles in length, and 200
in breadth. The northern shores of this sea are low and swampy,
often overgrown with reeds; but in many other parts the coasts are
precipitous, with such deep water that a line of 450 fathoms will
not reach the bottom. The best haven in the Caspian is that of Baku;
that of Derbent is rocky, and that of Sensili not commodious, though
one of the chief ports of trade."
DORA. "The Whang-hai, or Yellow Sea, on the coast of China, contains
several islands,--Tebu-sou, Lowang, Tsougming, Vun-taichan, Fouma,
and Stanton's Island. By the Straits of Corea we can enter the Sea
of Japan, sail along by the great Japan Islands, the principal of
which are Niphon, Kinsin, and Sikokf, and, passing the Jesso Isles,
go through the Channel of Tartary, and enter the Sea of Ochotsk or
MRS. WILTON. "A very good route, Dora, but rather too expeditious to
be advantageous. These islands and seas are connected with many
interesting facts. And why pass the Island of Sagalien without a
glance? I am sure, could you have seen one of the people, your
attention would have been sufficiently arrested to stay your rapid
flight o'er land and sea. The Sagaliens are similar in many
respects to the Tartar tribes. Their dress is a loose robe of
skins, or quilted nankeen, with a girdle. They tattoo their upper
lip blue. Their huts or cabins of timber are thatched with grass,
with a fire-place in the centre. The native name of this large
island is Tehoka.
"Between Japan and Mantchooria is the great peninsula of Corea,
remarkable for the coldness of its climate, although in the latitude
of Italy. We are told that in the northern parts snow falls in so
large quantities as to render it necessary to dig passages under it
in order to go from one house to another. It is supposed that the
surface of this country being so extremely mountainous is the cause
of this curious climate. There are numbers of ponies here not more
than three feet high!"
GEORGE. "Oh what sweet creatures! how very much I would like to have
one; actually not larger than a dog: how very pretty they must be."
EMMA. "Around the three great islands of Japan, I observe countless
numbers of little ones,--are they in any way connected with Japan?"
MR. WILTON. "Yes, my dear; they all belong to the kingdom of Japan."
EMMA. "And what sort of people are the Japanese?"
MR. WILTON. "Very similar in appearance to their neighbors, the
Chinese, with a yellow complexion and small oblique eyes: there is
this difference, however; their hair is thick and bushy, while the
hair of the Chinese is cultivated in a long tail. A Japanese is
certainly rather ludicrous, in both manners and appearance. His
head half-shaved; the hair which is left accumulated on the crown of
his head; his body wrapped (when travelling) in an enormous covering
of oiled paper, and a large fan in his hand, he presents an
extraordinary figure. These people are very particular concerning
points of etiquette, and have many books written on the proper mode
of taking a draught of water, how to give and receive presents, and
all the other minutiae of behavior."
GRANDY. "The Japanese have curious notions with regard to the life
eternal. They believe that the souls of the virtuous have a place
assigned to them immediately under heaven, while those of the wicked
wander in the air until they expiate their offences."
CHARLES. "I am very glad _that_ is not my creed, for I should not at
all enjoy life with the continual idea of wicked spirits hovering in
the air around me. They might as reasonably believe in ghosts."
MRS. WILTON. "In the Indian and China Seas, and in many other parts
of the great tropical belt, the periodical winds called 'monsoons'
are found. The south-west monsoon prevails from April to October,
between the equator and the tropic of Cancer: and it reaches from
the east coast of Africa to the coasts of India, China, and the
Philippine Islands. Its influence extends sometimes into the Pacific
Ocean, as far as the Marcian Isles, or to longitude about 145 east;
and it reaches as far north as the Japan Islands. The north-east
monsoon prevails from October to May, throughout nearly the same
space, that the south-west monsoon prevails in during the former
season. But the monsoons are subject to great obstructions by land;
and in contracted places, such as Malacca Straits, they are changed
into variable winds. Their limits are not everywhere the same; nor
do they always shift exactly at the same period, but they are
generally calculated upon about the times I have mentioned."
EMMA. "Mamma, are not trade-winds something like monsoons?"
MRS. WILTON. "So far similar that they are confined to a certain
region, and are tolerably regular in their operations. The
trade-winds blow, more or less, from the eastern half of the compass
to the western. Their chief region lies between the tropics from
23-1/2 north to 23-1/2 south latitude, although in some parts of
the world they extend farther; but it is only in the open parts of
the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans that the true trade-winds blow.
These winds shift many degrees of latitude in the course of the
year; but skilful navigators usually know where to catch them, and
make them serviceable in helping to blow their richly laden vessels
'o'er the glad waters of the bright blue sea.'"
GEORGE. "Do you know the cause of these regular winds, papa? You say
learned men try to discover _why_ such things are so, and generally
find out _causes_ from their effects."
MR. WILTON. "Exactly so, my boy; and learned _women_ do the same: as
an instance, I will quote the learned Mrs. Somerville on this very
subject, and give you an excellent reply to your question.
"'The heat of the sun occasions the trade-winds, by rarefying the
air at the equator, which causes the cooler and more dense part of
the atmosphere to rush along the surface of the earth to the
equator, while that which is heated is carried along the higher
strata to the poles, forming two currents in the direction of the
meridian. But the rotatory velocity of the air corresponding to its
geographical situation, decreases towards the poles; in approaching
the equator it must therefore revolve more slowly than the
corresponding parts of the earth, and the bodies of the surface of
the earth must strike against it with the excess of their velocity,
and by its reaction they will meet with a resistance contrary to
their motion of rotation; so that the wind will appear, to a person
supposing himself to be at rest, to blow in a contrary direction to
the earth's rotation, or from east to west, which is the direction
of the trade-winds.'"
GEORGE. "May I read that to-morrow, papa? I do not quite understand
it; and if you have the book, I could read it over and over until I
found out the meaning."
MR. WILTON. "You will find it in Mrs. Somerville's 'Mechanism of the
Heavens.' If you come to my study to-morrow morning before I leave
home, I will assist you in the solution of the difficulties."
MR. BARRAUD. "In an account of Cabul I have read a fine description
of the commencement of a monsoon:--'The approach is announced by
vast masses of clouds that rise from the Indian Ocean, advancing
towards the north-east, gathering and thickening as they approach
the land. After some threatening days, the sky assumes a troubled
appearance in the evening, and the monsoon sets in generally during
the night. It is attended by such a violent thunder-storm as can
scarcely be imagined by those who have only witnessed the phenomenon
in a temperate climate. It generally begins with violent blasts of
wind, which are succeeded by floods of rain. For some hours
lightning is seen without intermission: sometimes it only
illuminates the sky, and shows the clouds near the horizon; at
others, it discovers the distant hills, and again leaves all in
darkness; when, in an instant, it reappears in vivid and successive
flashes, and exhibits the nearest objects in all the brightness of
day. During all this time the distant thunder never ceases to roll,
and is only silenced by some nearer peal, which bursts on the ear
with such a sudden and tremendous crash, as can scarcely fail to
strike the most insensible heart with awe. At length the thunder
ceases, and nothing is heard but the continued pouring of the rain
and the rushing of the rising streams.'"
CHARLES. "I would much rather live in our temperate climate than
between the tropics; for everything connected with the elements is
so outrageously violent, that I should be continually in a state of
alarm, and in constant dread of a hurricane, a tornado, an
earthquake, or some such awful visitation.'"
GRANDY. "Why should you fear, my dear boy? Who, or what, can harm
you if you follow that which is good? Is not the arm of the Lord
mighty to save? and is it not stretched forth all the day long to
defend his own children? Has he not promised to be a stronghold
whereunto the faithful may always resort, and to be a house of
defence for his people? Cast thy fear from thee, Charles; rely on
God's gracious promises, and pray for faith to believe in his
DORA. "The Sea of Ochotsk. This sea is nearly land-locked, being in
this respect, as well as in size and general situation, not unlike
Hudson's Bay. The waters are shallow, not exceeding (about fifty
miles from land) fifty fathoms, and rarely giving, even in the
centre, above four times the depth just mentioned. There are three
gulfs belonging to this sea, the Gulf of Penjinsk, the Gulf of
Gijiginsk, and the Gulf of Tanish; but not many islands of
MR. WILTON. "Although Asia cannot vie with Europe in the advantages
of inland seas, yet, in addition to a share of the Mediterranean, it
possesses the Red Sea and Gulf of Persia, the Bays of Bengal and
Nankin, and other gulfs already mentioned, which diversify the
coasts much more than those of either Africa or America, and have
doubtless contributed greatly to the early civilization of this
celebrated division of the globe. I wish each of you young folks to
describe the following seas as I mention their names. Dora, tell me
all you have learnt respecting the Red Sea."
DORA. "The Red Sea, or Arabian Gulf of antiquity, constitutes the
grand natural division between Asia and Africa; but its advantages
have been chiefly felt by the latter, which is entirely destitute of
inland seas. Egypt and Abyssinia, two of the most civilized
countries in that division, have derived great benefits from that
celebrated sea, which, from the Straits of Babelmandel to Suez,
extends about 21 deg., or 1470 British miles, terminating not in two
equal branches, as delineated in old maps, but in an extensive
western branch; while the eastern ascends little beyond the parallel
of Mount Sinai."
GRANDY. "The Gulf of Suez was the scene of the most stupendous
miracle recorded in Exodus--the Passage of the Israelites,--when God
clave in sunder the waters of the sea, and caused them to rise
perpendicularly, so as to form a wall unto the Israelites, on their
right hand, and on their left. This is not to be read
_figuratively_, but _literally_; for in Exodus xv. 8, it is said
they '_stood as an heap_,' and were '_congealed_,' or suspended, as
though turned into ice:--'And with the blast of thy nostrils, the
waters were gathered together: the floods stood _upright as an
heap_; the _depths_ were _congealed_ in the heart of the sea.'"
MR. WILTON. "Emma, I call upon _you_ for the account of the Persian
Gulf; but you seem so intent on the book before you, that I feel a
little curious to know the subject of your meditations."
EMMA. "You shall hear, papa, although perhaps you may laugh at me
afterwards. I was thinking that it seemed rather absurd for people
who are constantly voyaging to the East Indies to go such an immense
way round Africa, when by cutting a passage through the Isthmus of
Suez they could arrive at the desired haven in half the time. What
is the width of the isthmus, papa? Would such a thing be
practicable, or am I very foolish?"
MR. WILTON. "Not at all, my dear, as I will readily prove. The width
is about seventy-five miles; and there _has_ been a communication
between the Mediterranean and the Red Sea. Strabo, the historian,
asserts that a canal was built by Sesostris, king of Egypt; and in
February, 1799, Napoleon, then General of the French Republic,
accompanied by some gentlemen skilled in such matters, proceeded
from Cairo to Suez with the view of discovering the vestiges of this
ancient canal. They were successful: they found traces of it for
several leagues, together with portions of the old great wall of
Sesostris, which guarded the eastern frontiers of Egypt, and
protected the canal from the sands of the desert. It was a short
time since in contemplation to renew this communication by the same
means as those used by Sesostris; viz., by forming a canal for the
advantage of commerce, &c.; which advantage is well explained by Mr.
Edward Clarkson, in an article on Steam Navigation, thus: 'The
distance from the Mediterranean to the Red Sea by the Suez navigable
canal would be from eighty to ninety miles. The time consumed by a
steamboat in this transit might be averaged at five hours. What is
the time now consumed in the transit through Egypt by the voyager
from England to Bombay? and what is the nature of the transit?
Passengers, packages, and letters, after being landed at Alexandria,
are now conveyed by the Mahmoudie Canal forty miles to Atfeh, on the
Nile. This consumes twelve hours, and is performed by a track-boat,
attended by numerous inconveniences. The passengers, goods, and
letters are landed at Atfeh; they are there reshipped, and carried
by steamboat from Atfeh up the Nile to Boulac, a distance of 120
miles. This water transit consumes eighteen hours. At Boulac, which
is the port of Cairo, the passengers, goods, and letters are again
unshipped, and have a land transit of two miles before they arrive
at Cairo. At that capital a stoppage of twelve hours, which is
considered indispensable to travellers, occurs. A fourth transit
then takes place to Suez from Cairo, across the Desert. This is
performed by vans with two and four horses, donkey-chairs (two
donkeys carrying a species of litter between them for ladies and
children,) and is often attended, owing to the scarcity of good
horses, with great inconveniences. The distance of this land transit
is eighty-four miles, and consumes thirty-six hours. The whole
distance by the present line is thus 246 miles; by the projected
line it is 80: the transit by the present line consumes _four days_;
the transit by the proposed line would not consume more than _five
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