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that had Captain Pigot and his gallant shipmates been appointed to convey a Prince of the Blood and his suite, more generous, anxious, and delicate exertions could not have been made, either in altering the interior of the vessel, so as to meet the wants of the passengers, or afterwards, throughout the voyage, in rendering it easy, comfortable, and as far as might be, interesting and amusing.
I subjoin an extract or two from the Diary at Portsmouth, which show how justly Dr Fergusson has been describing Sir Walter as in complete possession of all the qualities that endeared him to society:
“ October 24. — The girls break loose - mad with the craze of seeing sights — and run the risk of deranging the naval officers, who offer their services with their natural gallantry. I wish they would be moderate in their demands on people's complaisance. They little know how inconvenient are such seizures. A sailor in particular is a bad refuser, and before he can turn three times round, he is bound by a triple knot to all sorts of nonsense.
6 October 27. The girls, I regret to see, have got a senseless custom of talking politics in all weathers, and in all sorts of company.
This can do no good, and may give much offence. Silence can offend no one, and there are pleasanter or less irritating subjects to talk of. I gave them both a hint of this, and bid them remember they were among ordinary strangers. How little young people reflect what they may win or lose by a smart reflection imprudently fired off at a venture!"
On the morning of the 29th, the wind at last changed, and the Barham got under weigh.
After a few days, when they had passed the Bay of Biscay, Sir Walter ceased to be annoyed with seasickness, and sat most of his time on deck, enjoying apparently the air, the scenery, and above all ship itself, the beautiful discipline practised in all things, and the martial exercises of the men. In Captain Pigot, Lieutenant Walker, the physician Dr Liddell, and I believe in many others of the officers, he had highly intelligent, as well as polished companions. The course was often altered, for the express purpose of giving him a glimpse of some famous place; and it was only the temptation of a singularly propitious breeze that prevented a halt at Algiers.
On the 20th November they came upon that remarkable phenomenon, the sudden creation of a submarine volcano, which bore, during its very brief date, the name of Graham's Island. Four months had elapsed since it “ arose from out the azure main”
—and in a few days more it disappeared. “ Already," as Dr Davy says, “ its crumbling masses were falling to pieces from the pressure of the hand or foot.” Yet nothing could prevent Sir Walter from landing on it—and in a letter of the following week he thus describes his adventure ; — the Barham had reached Malta on the 22d.
“ To James Skene, Esq. of Rubislaw, Edinburgh.
Malta, Nov. 25, 1831. “ My Dear Skene,
« Our habits of non-correspondence are so firmly established, that it must be a matter of some importance that sets either of us a writing to the other. As it has been my lot to see the new volcano, called Graham's Island, either employed in establishing itself, or more likely in decomposing itself - and as it must be an object of much curiosity to many of our brethren of the Royal Society, I have taken it into my head that even the very imperfect account which I can give of a matter of this extraordinary kind may be in some degree valued Not being able to borrow your fingers, those of the Captain's clerk have been put in requisition for the inclosed sketch, and the notes adjoined are as ac
* Philosophical Transactions, May 1834, p. 552.
curate as can be expected from a hurried visit. You have a view of the island, very much as it shows at present; but nothing is more certain than that it is on the eve of a very important change, though in what respect is doubtful. I saw a portion of about five or six feet in height give way under the feet of one of our companions on the very ridge of the southern corner, and become completely annihilated, giving us some anxiety for the fate of our friend, till the dust and confusion of the dispersed pinnacle had subsided. You know my old talents for horsemanship. Finding the earth, or what seemed a substitute for it, sink at every step up to the knee, so as to make walking for an infirm and heavy man nearly impossible, I mounted the shoulders of an able and willing seaman, and by dint of his exertions rode nearly to the top of the island. I would have given a great deal for you, my friend, the frequent and willing supplier of my defects; but on this journey, though undertaken late in life, I have found, from the benevolence of my companions, that when one man's strength was insufficient to supply my deficiencies, I had the willing aid of twenty if it could be useful. I have sent you one of the largest blocks of lava which I could find on the islet, though small pieces are innumerable. We found two dolphins, killed apparently by the hot temperature, and the body of a robin redbreast, which seemingly had come off from
the nearest land, and starved to death on the islet, where it had neither found food nor water. Such had been the fate of the first attempt to stock the island with fish and fowl. On the south side, the volcanic principle was still apparently active. The perpetual bubbling up from the bottom produces a quantity of steam, which rises all around the base of the island, and surrounds it as with a cloak when seen from a distance. Most of these appearances struck the other gentlemen, I believe, as well as myself; but a gentleman who has visited the rock repeatedly, is of opinion that it is certainly increasing in magnitude. Its decrease in height may be consistent with the increase of its more level parts, and even its general appearance above water; for the ruins which crumble down from the top, are like to remain at the bottom of the ridge of the rock, add to the general size of the islet, and tend to give the ground firmness.
“ The gales of this new-born island are anything but odoriferous. Brimstone, and such like, are the prevailing savours, to a degree almost suffocating. Every hole dug in the sand is filled with boiling water, or what was nearly such. I cannot help thinking that the great ebullition in the bay, is the remains of the original crater, now almost filled up, yet still showing that some extraordinary operations are going on in the subterranean regions.