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TOM CRINGLE’S LOG.
THE CRUISE OF THE FIREBRAND,
Shewing, amongst other pleasant matters well worthy of being recorded,
how Thomas communed with his two Consciences.
"Oh, who can tell, save he whose heart hath tried,
We had to beat up for three days before we could weather the east end of Jamaica, and tearing work we had of it. I had seen bad weather and heavy seas in several quarters of the globe-I had tumbled about under a close-reefed main-topsail and reefed foresail, on the long seas in the Bay of Biscay-I had been kicked about in a seventy-four, off the Cape of Good Hope, as if she had been a cork-I had been hove hither and thither, by the short jumble of the North Sea, about Heligoland, and the shoals lying off the mouth of the Elbe, when every thing over head was black as thunder, and all beneath as white as snow-I had enjoyed the luxury of
being torn in pieces by a north-wester, which compelled us to lie-to for ten days at a stretch, under storm staysails, off the coast of Yankeeland, with a clear, deep, cold, blue sky above us, without a cloud, where the sun shone brightly the whole time by day, and a glorious harvest moon by night, as if they were smiling in derision upon our riven and strained ship, as she reeled to and fro like a wounded Titan; at one time buried in the trough of the sea, at another cast upwards towards the heavens by the throes of the tormented waters, from the troubled bosom of the bounding and roaring ocean, amidst hundreds of miniature rainbows, (ay, rainbows by night as well as by day,) in a hissing storm of white, foaming, seething spray, torn from the curling and rolling bright green crests of the mountainous billows. And I have had more than one narrow squeak for it in the neighbourhood of the “ still vexed Bermoothes,” besides various other small affairs, written in this Boke; but the devilsuch another tumblification had I ever experienced—not as to danger, for there was none except to our spars and rigging, but as to discomfort-as I did in that short, cross, splashing, and boiling sea, off Morant Point. By noon, however, on the second day, having had a slant from the land-wind in the night previous, we got well to windward of the long sandy spit that forms the east end of the island, and were in the act of getting a small pull of the weather braces, before edging away for St Jago, when the wind fell suddenly, and in half an hour it was stark calm—“una furiosa calma," as the Spanish sailors quaintly enough call it.
We got rolling tackles up, and the topgallantmasts down, and studding-sails out of the tops, and lessened the lumber and weight aloft in every way we could think of, but, nevertheless, we continued to roll gunwale under, dipping the main-yardarm into the water every now and then, and setting every thing adrift, below and on deck, that was not bolted down, or otherwise well secured.
When I went down to dinner, the scene was extremely good. Old Yerk, the first lieutenant, was in the chairone of the boys was jammed at his side, with his claws fastened round the foot of the table, holding a tureen of boiling pease-soup, with lumps of pork swimming in it, which the aforesaid Yerk was baling forth with great assiduity to his messmates. Hydrostatics were much in vogue~the tendency of fluids to regain their equilibrium (confound them, they have often in the shape of claret destroyed mine) was beautifully illustrated, as the contents of each carefully balanced soup-plate kept swaying about on the principle of the spirit level. The Doctor was croupier, and as it was a return dinner to the captain, all hands were regularly figged out, the lieutenants, with their epaulets and best coats, and the master, purser, and doctor, all fittingly attired. When I first entered, as I made my obeisance to the captain, I thought I saw an empty seat next him, but the matter of the soup was rather an engrossing concern, and took up my attention, so that I paid no particular regard to the circumstance ; however, when we had all discussed the same, and were drinking our first glass of Teneriffe, I raised my eyes to hob and nob with the master, when-ye gods and little fishes—who should they light on, but the merry phiz-merry, alas ! no more-of Aaron Bang, Esquire, who, during the soup interlude, had slid into the vacant chair unperceived by me.
“Why, Mr Bang, where, in the name of all that is comical, where have you dropped from ?" Alas! poor AaronAaron in a rolling sea was of no kindred to Aaron ashore. His rosy gills were no longer rosy—his round plump face seemed to be covered with parchment from an old hass-drum, cut out from the centre where most bronzed by the drumstruck—there was no speculation in his eyes that he did glare withal—and his lips, which were usually firm and open, disclosing his nice teeth, in frequent grin, were held together, as if he had been in grievous pain. At length he did venture to open them—and, like the ghost of Hamlet's father, “ it lifted up its head and did address itself to motion, as it would speak.” But they began to quiver, and he once more screwed them together, as if he feared the very exertion of uttering a word or two might unsettle his moniplies.
The master was an odd garrulous small man, who had a certain number of stated jokes, which, so long as they were endured, he unmercifully inflicted on his messmates. I had come in for my share, as a new comer, as well as the rest ; but even with me, although I had been but recently appointed, they had already began to pall, and wax wearisome; and blind as the beetle of a body was, he could not help seeing this. So poor Bang, unable to return a shot, sea-sick and crestfallen, offered a target that he could not resist taking aim at. Dinner was half over, and Bang had not eaten any thing, when, unseasonable as the hour was, the little pot-valiant master, primed with two tumblers of grog, in defiance of the captain's presence, fairly fastened on him, like a remora, and pinned him down with one of his long-winded stories about Captain David Jones, in the Phantome, during a cruise off Cape Flyaway, having run foul of a whale, and thereby nearly foundered ; and that at length having got the monster harpooned and speared, and the devil knows what, but it ended in getting her alongside, when they scuttled the leviathan, and then, wonderful to relate, they