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on the albatross, sleeping on the swelling waves, or soaring high in air. Here is the description of a sleeping albatross, which all genuine naturalists would give not a few bank notes to possess :—" One of the finest sights that I have ever seen was an albatross asleep upon the sea, during a calm, off Cape Horn. There being no breeze, the surface of the water was unbroken, but a long heavy swell was rolling, and we saw the fellow, all white, directly ahead of us, asleep upon the waves, with his head under his wing, now rising on the top of a huge billow, and then falling slowly until he was lost in the hollow between. He was undisturbed for some time, until the noise of our bows, gradually approaching, roused him, when, lifting his head, he stared upon us for a moment, and then spread his wide wings and took his flight.” This enormous bird is often caught by hooks baited with meat and attached to a float, which, being drawn along the surface of the sea, are snapped at by the albatross. The feet are admirably adapted for a sea-life, consisting of large webbed paddles, which enable the bird to rest quietly on the heaving waves. The great albatross of the southern sea often accompanies a ship for a long period, as if desirous of escaping from its oceansolitude.
And now, pleasant reader, view another scene in the panorama of the animal kingdom, open to few, save Imagine yourself in a ship under easy sail in the tropical seas -see those glittering things rising from the water, and flying above the surface of the waves ; how their wings sparkle in the sunlight; there, they have dipped again into the billows ; but see again, the shoal rises, darting like silvered creatures over the waves. What would the proprietors of a zoological garden give for such a display? London would flock to the exhibition, and ichthyology lift its head. Those little flashing objects are flying-fish ; they have doubtless risen from the water to escape from the pursuits of the Dorado, which has no doubt to-day a relish for a dinner of these fish. Their flight is short, as the extended fin-wing requires frequent plunging to keep it wet, and in a state fit for flight.
Perhaps it may now be inquired, Is “ Jack” occupied in observing zoological phenomena, and nothing to do except looking out for beautiful sunsets, magnificent storms, gorgeously-coloured icebergs, and natural wonders ? Not such is
the sailor's lot ; these revelations of the beautiful are peculiarly his own ; but his life has another aspect, less poetical and more worklike. The duties of a sailor are severe and various--on decks, high in the masts, in hold, lading or unlading, in calm and storm, on shore, or in the midst of the wide sea, he has work enough.
When a ship has left her port, the landsman may suppose that little is to be done except keeping the vessel to her course by alterations of the sails and easy management of the rudder. This must be done, and much more. Every plank, timber, spar, mast, sail, and rope, require constant repairs. Hence a succession of painting, tarring, greasing, twisting of ropes, taking down old repairs, putting up new, spinning ropes, and scraping anchors. All this work occurs in a variety of forms and repeatedly, for “a ship like a lady's watch is always out of repair ;' then the decks are daily washed and holystoned. What, the reader may ask, is holystoning ? The holystone is a large soft stone, smooth at the bottom ; ropes are fastened to this stone, by which it is dragged backwards and forwards over the deck. Such a process effectually removes all dirt and spots arising from the repairs of the ship, or the action of storms.
Suppose, amidst all this work, illness should fall upon the sailor, he has then little comfort to expect from the hard worked crew, whose labours are increased by the subtraction of
every hand. The fate of the sick mariner is thus described by Dana, who himself experienced the things narrated :"To be sick in a forecastle is miserable indeed ; it is the worst part of a dog's life, especially in bad weather. The forecastle shut tight to keep out the water and cold air ; the watch either on deck or asleep in their berths, no one to speak to ; the pale light of the single lamp swinging to and fro from the beam, so dim that one can scarcely see, much less read by it; the water dropping from the beams, and running down the sides, and the forecastle so wet and dark, and so lumbered up with chests and wet clothes that sitting up is worse than lying in the berths. These are some of the evils. Fortunately I needed no help from any one, and no medicine : and if I had needed help, I don't know where I should have found it. Sailors are willing enough ; but it is true, as is often said, no one ships for nurse on board a vessel. Our merchant-ships
are always under-manned, and if one man is lost by sickness, they cannot spare another to take care of him. A sailor is always presumed to be well; and if he is sick, he is a poor dog.
How much a sailor's work and annoyances are increased by stormy weather, may be inferred from such a description as the following :—“It came on to blow worse and worse, with hail and snow beating like so many furies upon the ship, it being as dark and thick as night could make it. The mainsail was blowing and slatting with a noise like thunder, when the captain came on deck, and ordered it to be furled. The mate was about to call all hands, when the captain stopped him, and said that the men would be beaten out if they were called up so often ; that, as our watch must stay on deck, it might as well be doing that as anything else. Accordingly, we went upon the yard, and never shall I forget that piece of work. The yard over which we lay was cased with ice ; the gaskets and ropes of the foot and leach of the sail as stiff and hard as a piece of suction-hose, and the sail itself about as pliable as though it had been made of sheathing copper. It blew a perfect hurricane, with alternate blasts of snow, hail, and rain. We had to fist the sail with bare hands. No one could trust himself to mittens ; for if he slipped, he was a gone
All the boats were hoisted in on deck, and there was nothing to be lowered for bim. We had need of every finger God had given us.
Several times we got the sail upon the yard, but it blew away again before we could secure it.”
If stormy weather brings labours with it, little leisure time is afforded by the calmest and brightest sky; work of a peculiar kind is then to be done : “ All the first part of a passage during the fine weather is spent in getting a ship ready for sea, and the last part in getting her ready for port. The new strong sails which we had up off Cape Horn were to be sent down, and the old set, which were still serviceable in fine weather, to be bent in their place; all the rigging to be set up fore and aft, the masts stayed, the standing rigging rattled down, the ship scraped inside and out, and painted, decks varnished, new and neat knots, sergings, and coverings to be
ted, and every part put in order, to look well to the owner's eye on coming into Boston. This, of course, was a long matter, and all hands were kept on deck at work for the
whole of each day during the rest of the voyage." Indeed, each day brings its round of work to the sailor with as much certainty as the return of twelve o'clock. At break of day the labours commence with washing down the decks—a work of much time, occupying the crew till breakfast, after which tarring, slushing' (that is, greasing the masts and yards), mending and making ropes, are ready to fill up any spare minutes which Jack may, by a singular fortune, have upon his hands. Nothing is more common than to hear people say— Are not sailors very idle at sea ? What can they find to do?' This is a very natural mistake ; and being very frequently made, it is one which every sailor feels interested in having corrected. In the first place, then, the discipline of the ship requires every man to be at work upon something when he is on deck, save at night and on Sundays. Except at these times, you will never see a man on board a wellordered vessel standing idle on deck, sitting down, or leaning over the side. It is the officer's duty to keep every one at work, even if there is nothing to be done but to scrape the rust from the chain-cables. In no state-prison are the convicts more regularly set to work and more closely watched. No conversation is allowed among the crew at their duty ; and though they frequently do talk when aloft, or when near one another, yet they always stop when an officer is nigh. I have seen oakum-stuff placed about in different parts of the ship, so that the sailors might not be idle in the snatches between the frequent squalls, when crossing the equator. Some officers have been so driven to find work for the crew in a ship ready for sea, that they have set them to pounding the anchors and scraping the chain-cables. The Philadelphia catechism is
“ Six days shalt thou labour,
And do all thou art able;
And scrape the cable."
Thus the sailor has abundant occupation, and little time for indolence or recreation. These incessant labours are partly the result of a feeling in the captain and officers that the sailor is a mischievous animal, and will get into scrapes unless kept constantly occupied. This view may be the correct one, as it is
doubtless drawn from an extensive acquaintance with the habits, temptations, and weaknesses of " Jack.” There can be no question, however, that some captains stretch the principle of “work is safety” to an unwarrantable extent, and thus irritate their crew. But it is not the common sailor only who works at sea, the officers have their full share of the more important labours, upon the proper performance of which the safety of the ship and lives of her crew depend. The most unremitting superintendence over all matters is required in a large ship, where a hundred different items demand the attention and exercise both the skill and patience of the commander. When it is considered that thousands of noble ships have been wrecked by some slight mistake in the reckoning, that is, in keeping the ship's course accurately, it will be evident that the closest attention is required in navigating a vessel through unknown or dangerous seas. Nor will numerous voyages over the same tract excuse the commander of a ship from such duties, without regard to which a slight deviation from the course or the action of a seacurrent may lead to a crash on some iron-bound coast, or shiver the ship upon a line of breakers. This destruction may happen in a moment, with a calm sea below and the breeze blowing gently, whilst not the remotest idea of danger haunts the sleeping crew.
The drift of the waves may draw the ship on the sunken rocks, and one stunning shock be the only announcement of approaching ruin. Perhaps some readers may wish to know the methods by which a ship is kept in a desired course, and her position ascertained, in any part of the ocean, within four or five miles of her true place. The slightest acquaintance with geography will teach a reader that when the latitude and longitude of a ship are known, the exact position of that vessel is ascertained. All, therefore, that is required is to find the two former, both of which
may be ascertained by certain observations of the stars, moon, and planets, and the inspection of nautical tables found on board every ship. The peculiar processes, though simple enough to the astronomer and educated seamen, are omitted here, as their full elucidation would lead us too far from the subject of Life at Sea.
The rate at which a ship sails through the sea is also necessary to be known, in order to secure her safe navi