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Title: Man on the Ocean - A Book about Boats and Ships
Author: Ballantyne, R. M. (Robert Michael), 1825-1894
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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There is, perhaps, no contrivance in the wide world more wonderful than
a ship--a full-rigged, well-manned, gigantic ship!

Those who regard familiar objects in art and nature as mere matters of
course, and do not trouble themselves to wander out of the beaten track
of everyday thought, may not at first feel the force or admit the truth
of this statement.  Let such folk endeavour to shake themselves
vigorously out of this beaten track of everyday thought.  Let them knit
their brows and clench their teeth, and gaze steadfastly into the fire,
or up at the sky, and try to realise what is involved in the idea of--a

What would the men of old have said, if you had told them that you
intended to take yonder large wooden house, launch it upon the sea, and
proceed in it out of sight of land for a few days?  "Poor fellow," they
would have replied, "you are mad!"  Ah! many a wise philosopher has been
deemed mad, not only by men of old, but by men of modern days.  This
"mad" idea has long since been fulfilled; for what is a ship but a
wooden house made to float upon the sea, and sail with its inmates
hither and thither, at the will of the guiding spirit, over a trackless
unstable ocean for months together?  It is a self-sustaining movable
hotel upon the sea.  It is an oasis in the desert of waters, so
skilfully contrived as to be capable of advancing against wind and tide,
and of outliving the wildest storms--the bitterest fury of winds and
waves.  It is the residence of a community, whose country for the time
being is the ocean; or, as in the case of the _Great Eastern_ steamship,
it is a _town_ with some thousands of inhabitants launched upon the

Ships are, as it were, the electric sparks of the world, by means of
which the superabundance of different countries is carried forth to
fill, reciprocally, the voids in each.  They are not only the media of
intercourse between the various families of the human race, whereby our
shores are enriched with the produce of other lands, but they are the
bearers of inestimable treasures of knowledge from clime to clime, and
of gospel light to the uttermost ends of the earth.

But for ships, we should never have heard of the wonders of the coral
isles and the beauties of the golden South, or the phenomena and
tempests of the icy North.  But for ships, the stirring adventures and
perils of Magellan, Drake, Cook, etcetera, had never been encountered;
and even the far-famed Robinson Crusoe himself had never gladdened, and
saddened, and romantically maddened the heart of youth with his escapes,
his fights, his parrots, and his philosophy, as he now does, and as he
will continue to do till the end of time.

Some account, then, of ships and boats, with anecdotes illustrative of
the perils to which they are frequently exposed, cannot fail, we think,
to prove interesting to all, especially to boys, for whose particular
edification we now write.  Boys, of all creatures in this world, are
passionately fond of boats and ships; they make them of every shape and
size, with every sort of tool, and hack and cut their fingers in the
operation, as we know from early personal experience.  They sail them,
and wet their garments in so doing, to the well-known sorrow of all
right-minded mammas.  They lose them, too, and break their hearts,
almost, at the calamity.  They make little ones when they are little,
and big ones when they grow big; and when they grow bigger they not
unfrequently forsake the toy for the reality, embark in some noble
craft, and wed the stormy sea.

A word in your ear, reader, at this point.  Do not think that because
you fall in love with a _ship_ you will naturally and necessarily fall
in love with the _sea_!  Some do, and some don't: with those who do, it
is well; with those who don't, and yet go to sea, it is remarkably ill.
Think _philosophically_ about "going to sea," my lads.  Try honestly to
resist your own inclination _as long as possible_, and only go if you
find that _you can't help it_!  In such a case you will probably find
that you are cut out for it--not otherwise.  We love the sea with a true
and deep affection, and often have we tossed upon her foam-topped waves;
but we don't wish to be a sailor--by no manner of means!

And now, boys, come along, and we will conduct you as pleasantly and
profitably as we can from a ship's cradle, through all her stormy
existence, to her grave.



Once upon a time there were no ships.  Men did not know the meaning of
the word; they did not want them; and, for many, many centuries the
sea-gulls had the ocean all to themselves.  But _boats_ are of very
ancient date.  Doubtless the _first_ boats must have been constructed by
the _first_ men who dwelt on the earth.  They consisted, probably--for
we are now in the land of conjecture--of stumps of fallen trees, or
bundles of rushes, seated astride of which the immediate descendants of
our first parents ferried themselves over small lakes and across rivers.

Wet feet are not agreeable under any circumstances.  We can conceive
that prolonged voyages performed in this fashion--say several hundred
yards or a mile--rendered those primitive mariners so uncomfortable,
that they resolved to improve their condition; and, after much earnest
thought, hit upon the plan of fastening several logs together by means
of twigs, and thus they formed _rafts_.

As time progressed, and men began to display wisdom in making tools of
stone and in the moulding of metal, we can imagine that they soon
bethought themselves of flattening the surface of their rafts; and then,
finding them unwieldy and difficult to manage, no doubt, they hit upon
the idea of hollowing out the logs.  Adzes were probably not invented at
that time, so they betook themselves to the element of fire--which is at
the present day used by savage nations for the same purpose--and burned
out the insides of their logs.  Thus _canoes_ sprang into being.

But such canoes were clumsy and heavy, besides being liable to split;
men therefore bethought themselves of constructing a light framework of
wood, which they covered with bark or skin.  Then artificers in iron
invented saws; logs were ripped up; planks were formed; pitch oozed
ready to hand from the trees; with grass, perchance, they caulked the
seams;--and soon the first _boat_ floated on the water--clumsy and
tub-like, no doubt, but serviceable withal--and youths of a hundred
years old, and full-grown men of two or three hundred, capered and
shouted on the shore with delight at the great invention; while
venerable patriarchs, of seven or eight hundred summers, gazed in
wonder, with almost prophetic solemnity, and exclaimed that they had
never before seen the like of _that_ in all the course of their long,
long lives!

Those times are old now--so old that men can scarcely get their minds to
realise how old they are; nevertheless, the craft that were used then
are used even now, and that not only among the savages of distant lands,
but by men living at our very doors.

The _coracle_, a basket-boat of the most primitive description, is still
occasionally met with in South Wales.  It is neither more nor less than
a large wicker basket covered with a hide, and is tub-shaped, and clumsy
to a degree.  When the Romans invaded Britain, this species of boat was
in common use.  Like the canoe of the North American Indian, it is
easily upset, and we should think must be rather unmanageable; but as we
are not likely ever again to be reduced to it in this country, we can
afford to regard its faults with indifference.

From little boats to big boats there is but a step; and no doubt rivers
were soon navigated, and new countries explored, while those who lived
near the sea-coast dared even to launch their boats upon the ocean; but
they "hugged the shore," undoubtedly, and seldom ventured to proceed at
night unless the stars shone brightly in the sky.

Years rolled on, and dwellers on the sea-coast became more and more
venturous in their voyages along the shore.  It behoved them to have
larger boats, or barges, with numerous rowers, who would naturally carry
weapons with them to guard themselves from foes.  War-galleys sprang
into being.  Strong winds sometimes carried these off-shore, and out of
sight of land.  Ah, reader! who can conceive the feelings of the first
mariners who saw the solid land sink on the horizon, and beheld nothing
substantial in all the waste of waters, save their own tiny bark that
reeled beneath them on the heaving billows?  Perchance these first
adventurers on the deep found their way back to land, and afterwards
tried the bold experiment of steering by the stars.  Perhaps not; but at
length it did come about that ships were built, and men were found bold
enough to put to sea in them for days and weeks together.

The ark is the first ship of which we have any authentic account.  We
now leave the region of conjecture; for the ark was built by Noah under
the immediate direction of the Almighty, and we have a minute account of
it in the Bible.

More than two thousand three hundred years before our Lord and Saviour
Jesus Christ came to earth, man's wickedness had attained to such a
height that God resolved to destroy the inhabitants of the world by a
deluge.  But, in the midst of wrath, God remembered mercy.  He spared
Noah and his family, and saved them from destruction by placing them in
the ark along with pairs of the lower animals.

Every reader of the Bible knows the story of the deluge; but everyone
may not be aware that traditions of this deluge are found in every part
of the earth.  East, west, north, and south--civilised and savage--all
men tell us of a great flood which once covered the world, and from
which only one family was saved, in a boat, or a canoe, or an ark.

What the barbarous and savage nations know dimly from tradition, we know
certainly and fully from the inspired Word of God.  The ark was built;
the flood came; Noah with his family and two of every living creature
entered into it; and for months the first ship floated on a sea whose
shoreless waves flowed round and round the world.

What the ark's form was we cannot precisely tell; but we know its
dimensions pretty accurately.

Although it was not intended for voyaging, the ark must necessarily have
been a perfect model of a vessel, meant to float upon the waters.  To
some extent, too, it must have been fitted to ride upon turbulent
billows; for it "went upon the face of the waters" for upwards of seven
months, and before it rested finally on the top of Mount Ararat, "God
made a wind to pass over the earth, and the waters assuaged."  In regard
to its size, the most interesting way to consider it, perhaps, will be
to compare it with the _Great Eastern_, the largest ship that has yet
been built by man.  Assuming a cubit to be about 18 inches, the length
of the ark was about 450 feet, its breadth about 75 feet, and its depth
about 45 feet.

The _Great Eastern's_ length is 680 feet, its breadth 83 feet, and its
depth from deck to keel 60 feet.

The ark was built of gopher-wood, which is thought by some to be pine,
by others cedar.  It consisted of three stories, and had a window and a
door, and was pitched within and without.  But it had neither masts nor
rudder; and it is evident that, although it was man's refuge, the ark
was not designed to be managed by man, for after Noah and his family had
entered in, God took on himself the guidance and preservation of their
vessel.  Thus our Saviour--of whom the ark was a type--specially guides
and protects those who flee to him for refuge.

But although we have noticed the ark as being the first ship, we cannot
with propriety place it in the front of the history of navigation.
After the flood the ark seems to have been soon forgotten, or at least
imperfectly remembered, and men reverted to their little canoes and
clumsy boats, which sufficed for all their limited wants.  It was not
until about a thousand years later in the world's history that men built
ships of considerable size, and ventured on prolonged _coasting_-
voyages, for the purposes of discovery and commerce.  Navigation had
been practised, and the art of ship-building had made very considerable
progress, long before men dared to lose sight of the shore and venture
out upon the mysterious bosom of the great unknown sea.

To the ancients the Mediterranean was the ocean; and among its bays, and
creeks, and islands, maritime enterprise sprang into being and rose into
celebrity.  Among the Phoenicians, the Egyptians, and Hebrews, we find
the earliest traces of navigation and commerce.  The first of these
nations, occupying the narrow slip of land between Mount Lebanon and the
Mediterranean, rose into fame as mariners between the years 1700 and
1100 before Christ--the renowned city of Sidon being their great
sea-port, whence their ships put forth to trade with Cyprus and Rhodes,
Greece, Sardinia, Sicily, Gaul, and Spain.  Little is known of the state
of trade in those days, or of the form or size of ancient vessels.
Homer tells us, in his account of the Trojan War, that the Phoenicians
supplied the combatants with many articles of luxury; and from Scripture
we learn that the same enterprising navigators brought gold to Solomon
from Ophir in the year 1000 B.C.

A short time previous to this the Phoenicians ventured to pass through
the Strait of Gibraltar, and for the first time beheld the great
Atlantic Ocean.  Proceeding along the coast of Spain, they founded
Cadiz; and, not long after, creeping down the western coast of Africa,
established colonies there.  But their grandest feat was achieved about
600 years B.C., when they sailed down the Red Sea and the eastern coast
of Africa, doubled the Cape of Good Hope, sailed up the western coast,
and returned home by the Strait of Gibraltar.  Bartholomew Diaz must
hide his diminished head before this fact; for, although he gets all the
credit, the Phoenicians of old "doubled the Cape" at least twenty
centuries before him!

That long voyages were made by the men of old, before authentic history
began, seems highly probable.  The expedition of the _Argonauts_ to
Colchis in the year 1250 B.C., in search of the "Golden Fleece," is the
first ancient voyage that lays claim to authenticity.  What the Golden
Fleece was is uncertain; some think it was a term used to symbolise the
mines of precious metals near the Black Sea.  Whatever it was, the
_Argonauts_ went in search of it: whether or not they found it is
unrecorded in history.  Jason, son of the King of Thessaly, was the
leader of this expedition, which consisted of one ship and fifty men.  A
man named _Argus_ built the ship, which from him was named the Argo,
hence the name of _Argonauts_.

In treating of ancient vessels, we may as well proceed on the principle
suggested by a sagacious child, who, when his mother was about to tell
him a story, usually begged of her to "bedin at the bedinning."  We
shall begin at the beginning.



Rafts, as we have already remarked, must undoubtedly have been the
beginning of navigation.  But they have not, like many other species of
ancient craft, been altogether superseded by modern inventions.  True,
we do not nowadays carry on war on rafts, but we still carry on trade
with them in many parts of the world.  How the rafts of ancient times
were formed we cannot tell precisely, though we can easily guess; but
one thing we know, and that is, that the first improvement made in such
craft was the thrusting of a few thick planks down into the water, to
the depth of three or four feet, between the logs which composed the
raft.  These acted the part of a keel, and, by pressing against the
water _side-ways_ when a _side_ wind blew, prevented the raft from
making much of what is called _leeway_--that is, drifting in the
direction in which the wind happened to be blowing.  Some sorts of Dutch
vessels use lee-boards for this purpose at the present time.

The rafts now in use on the great rivers of America are exceedingly
curious in many respects.  One peculiarity of many of them is that they
float _themselves_, not goods, to market--the pine logs of which they
are constructed being the marketable commodity.  Some of these
"lumber-rafts," as they are called, are of great size; and as their
navigators have often to spend many weeks on them, slowly floating down
the rivers, they build huts or little cottages on them, cook their
provisions on board, and, in short, spend night and day in their
temporary floating-homes as comfortably as if they were on the land.

When these rafts approach a waterfall or a rapid, they unfasten the
lashings and allow several logs tied together to run down at a time.
After the rapid is passed, the loose logs are collected together, the
raft is reconstructed, and the voyage down to the sea continued.  Of
course, huts are built only on rafts which navigate the largest rivers,
and are not thus liable to be taken to pieces.

When the logs reach the sea, they are shipped to various parts of the
world where timber is scarce.  Large quantities are imported into Great
Britain from Canada and other parts of America.

A bold thing has occasionally been done.  Instead of shipping the logs
in vessels, enterprising and ingenious men built them into a _solid
ship_, leaving a small space to serve as a cabin and a hold for
provisions; then, erecting masts, they hoisted sail, and in this
singular craft crossed the Atlantic.  On arriving at port they broke up
their raft-ship and sold it.

The immense size of the rafts which are floated down some of the great
rivers of the world may be gathered from the following engraving, which
represents a raft on the Dwina, one of the great rivers of Russia.

Rafts, however, have not been confined to the purposes of traffic.  They
have frequently been the means of saving the lives of shipwrecked
mariners; but too often they have been the means only of prolonging the
wretched existence of those who have ultimately perished at sea.


Turning now from the consideration of rafts, we shall describe canoes.

Canoes must, we think, have been invented after rafts.  They were
formed, as we have said, out of logs, of bark and of skins stretched
upon frames of wood.  Of ancient canoes we can say little.  But it is
probable that they were similar in most respects to the canoes used by
savage nations at the present time; for man, in his lowest or most
savage condition, is necessarily the same now that he was in ancient
times.  We shall, therefore, take a glance at the canoes of savage
nations now existing, and thus shall form a good idea, we doubt not, of
what canoes were in days of old.

Simplest among them all, perhaps, are the canoes of the North American
Indians.  These are built of thin laths and ribs of wood, and are
covered with the bark of the birch-tree.  The sheets of bark are not a
quarter of an inch thick.  Several sheets are used in the covering of
one canoe.  They are sewed together with the long pliant roots of the
pine, and the seams are rendered tight with gum procured from the same
tree.  So light are these canoes, that two men can carry on their
shoulders one capable of holding eight or ten men, with their
provisions, etcetera, for a voyage of many months.  They are of various
sizes--from the hunting canoe which holds one Indian, to the largest
canoe that carries fourteen.  They are propelled by short paddles
instead of oars.

Many and terrible are the risks run by _voyageurs_ who travel through
the lakes and rivers of North America in these canoes.

The following anecdote is related of a narrow escape made by some
fur-traders while descending one of the rivers in the backwoods of the
Hudson Bay Territory:--One fine evening in autumn, a north-canoe was
gliding swiftly down one of the noble bends in the river referred to.
New, beautiful, and ever-changing scenes were being constantly opened up
to the view of the _voyageurs_, whose plaintive and beautiful
canoe-songs were rolling over the waters.  Suddenly the song ceased as
the distant roar of a waterfall struck their ears, and the steersmen--
for there are usually two, one in the bow and one in the stern--prepared
to land and "_make a portage_,"--that is, carry the canoe and lading
past the falls by land, and re-launch and re-load in the smooth water

The approach to the landing-place at the head of the fall was somewhat
difficult, owing to a point of rock which projected into the stream in
the direction of the fall, and round which point it was necessary to
steer with some dexterity, in order to avoid being drawn into the strong
current.  The fearless guides, however, had often passed the place in
former years in safety, and accordingly dashed at the point with
reckless indifference, their paddles flinging a circle of spray over
their heads as they changed from side to side with graceful but vigorous
rapidity.  The swift stream carried them quickly round the point of
danger, and they had almost reached the quiet eddy near the
landing-place when the stem of the canoe was caught by the current,
which instantly whirled it out from the shore and carried it down stream
like an arrow.  Another moment, and the gushing water dragged them to
the verge of the fall, which thundered and foamed among frightful chasms
and rocks many feet below.  It was the work of a moment.  The stern of
the canoe almost overhung the abyss, and the voyageurs plied their
paddles with the desperation of men who felt that their lives depended
on the exertions of the next awful minute.  For a few seconds the canoe
remained stationary, and seemed to tremble on the brink of destruction--
the strength of the water and the power of the men being almost equally
balanced--then, inch by inch, it began slowly to ascend the stream.  The
danger was past!  A few nervous strokes, and the canoe shot out of the
current like an arrow, and floated in safety in the still water below
the point.

The whole thing, from beginning to end, occurred in a few seconds; but
who can describe or comprehend the tumultuous gush of feeling aroused
during those brief moments in the bosoms of the _voyageurs_?  The
sudden, electric change from tranquil safety to the verge of what
appeared certain destruction--and then, deliverance!  It was one of
those thrilling incidents which frequently occur to those who thread the
wildernesses of this world, and is little thought of by them beyond the
moment of danger; yet it was one of those solemn seasons, more or less
numerous in the history of all men, when the Almighty speaks to his
careless creatures in a voice that cannot be mistaken, however much it
may be slighted; awakening them, with a rough grasp, to behold the
slender cord that suspends them over the abyss of eternity.

The canoes used by the Eskimos who inhabit the Polar Regions are made of
a light framework of wood, which is covered entirely over with
seal-skin--a round hole being left in the centre, in which the Eskimo
sits.  Round this hole there is a loose piece of skin, which is drawn up
by the man and fastened round his waist.  The machine is thus completely
water-tight.  No waves can dash into, although they can sweep over it;
and if by chance it should upset, the Eskimo can turn it and himself up
into the proper position by one dexterous sweep of his long,
double-bladed paddle.  The paddle, which varies from ten to fifteen
feet, is simply a pole with a blade at each end.  It is grasped in the
centre, and each end dipped alternately on either side of the _kayak_,
as this canoe is called.  Eskimo kayaks are first-rate sea-boats.  They
can face almost any sort of weather.  They are extremely light, and are
propelled by the natives very swiftly.  In these frail canoes the
natives of the Polar Regions pursue seals and whales, and even venture
to attack the walrus in his native element.  The kayak is used
exclusively by the men.  The oomiak, or women's canoe, is of much larger
and clumsier construction, somewhat like a boat.  It is open above, and
can hold a large family of women and children.  Like the kayak, it is a
framework of wood covered with seal-skin, and is propelled by means of
short paddles of the spoon form.

The famous "Rob Roy" canoe, which is now so much in vogue among boys and
young men of aquatic tendency, is constructed and managed on precisely
the same principles with the Eskimo kayak; the only difference between
the two being that the "Rob Roy" canoe is made of thin wood instead of
skin, and is altogether a more elegant vessel.  An account of it will be
found in our chapter on "Boats."  The South Sea islanders also use a
canoe which they propel with a double-bladed paddle similar to that of
the Eskimos.  They are wonderfully expert and fearless in the management
of this canoe, as may be seen from the annexed woodcut.

In order to show that the paddle of the canoe is more natural to man
than the oar, we present a picture of the canoe used by the Indians of
the Amazon in South America.  Here we see thar the savages of the south,
like their brethren of the north, sit with their faces to the bow and
urge their bark forward by neans of short paddles, without using the
gunwale as a fulcrum.  The oar is decidedly a more modern and a more
scientific instrument than the paddle, but the latter is better suited
to some kinds of navigation than the former.

Very different indeed from the light canoes just described are the
canoes of the South Sea islanders.  Some are large, and some are small;
some long, some short; a few elegant, a few clumsy; and one or two
peculiarly remarkable.  Most of them are narrow, and liable to upset; in
order to prevent which catastrophe the natives have ingeniously, though
clumsily, contrived a sort of "_outrigger_," or plank, which they attach
to the side of the canoe to keep it upright.  They also fasten two
canoes together to steady them.

One of these _double canoes_ is thus described by Cheever in his "Island
World of the Pacific:"--"A double canoe is composed of two single ones
of the same size placed parallel to each other, three or four feet
apart, and secured in their places by four or five pieces of wood,
curved just in the shape of a bit-stock.  These are lashed to both
canoes with the strongest cinet, made of cocoa-nut fibre, so as to make
the two almost as much one as same of the double ferry-boats that ply
between Brooklyn and New York.  A flattened arch is thus made by the
bow-like cross-pieces over the space between the canoes, upon which a
board or a couple of stout poles laid lengthwise constitute an elevated
platform for passengers and freight, while those who paddle and steer
sit in the bodies of the canoes at the sides.  A slender mast, which may
be unstepped in a minute, rises from about the centre of this platform,
to give support to a very simple sail, now universally made of white
cotton cloth, but formerly of mats."

The double canoes belonging to the chiefs of the South Sea islanders are
the largest,--some of them being nearly seventy feet long, yet they are
each only about two feet wide and three or four feet deep.  The sterns
are remarkably high--fifteen or eighteen feet above the water.

The war canoes are also large and compactly built; the stern being low
and covered, so as to afford shelter from stones and darts.  A rude
imitation of a head or some grotesque figure is usually carved on the
stern; while the stem is elevated, curved like the neck of a swan, and
terminates frequently in the carved figure of a bird's head.  These
canoes are capable of holding fifty warriors.  Captain Cook describes
some as being one hundred and eight feet long.  All of them, whether
single or double, mercantile or war canoes, are propelled by paddles,
the men sitting with their faces in the direction in which they are

As may be supposed, these canoes are often upset in rough weather; but
as the South Sea islanders are expert swimmers, they generally manage to
right their canoes and scramble into them again.  Their only fear on
such occasions is being attacked by sharks.  Ellis, in his interesting
book, "Polynesian Researches," relates an instance of this kind of
attack which was made upon a number of chiefs and people--about
thirty-two--who were passing from one island to another in a large
double canoe:--"They were overtaken by a tempest, the violence of which
tore their canoes from the horizontal spars by which they were united.
It was in vain for them to endeavour to place them upright again, or to
empty out the water, for they could not prevent their incessant
overturning.  As their only resource, they collected the scattered spars
and boards, and constructed a raft, on which they hoped they might drift
to land.  The weight of the whole number who were collected on the raft
was so great as to sink it so far below the surface that they stood
above their knees in water.  They made very little progress, and soon
became exhausted by fatigue and hunger.  In this condition they were
attacked by a number of sharks.  Destitute of a knife or any other
weapon of defence, they fell an easy prey to these rapacious monsters.
One after another was seized and devoured, or carried away by them, and
the survivors, who with dreadful anguish beheld their companions thus
destroyed, saw the number of their assailants apparently increasing, as
each body was carried off until only two or three remained.

"The raft, thus lightened of its load, rose to the surface of the water,
and placed them beyond the reach of the voracious jaws of their
relentless destroyers.  The tide and current soon carried them to the
shore, where they landed to tell the melancholy fate of their

Captain Cook refers to the canoes of New Zealand thus:--

"The ingenuity of these people appears in nothing more than in their
canoes.  They are long and narrow, and in shape very much resemble a New
England whale-boat.  The larger sort seem to be built chiefly for war,
and will carry from forty to eighty or a hundred armed men.  We measured
one which lay ashore at Tolaga; she was sixty-eight and a half feet
long, five feet broad, and three and a half feet deep.  The bottom was
sharp, with straight sides like a wedge, and consisted of three lengths,
hollowed out to about two inches, or one inch and a half thick, and well
fastened together with strong plaiting.  Each side consisted of one
entire plank, sixty-three feet long, ten or twelve inches broad, and
about one inch and a quarter thick; and these were fitted and lashed to
the bottom part with great dexterity and strength.

"A considerable number of thwarts were laid from gunwale to gunwale, to
which they were securely lashed on each side, as a strengthening to the
boat.  The ornament at the head projected five or six feet beyond the
body, and was about four and a half feet high.  The ornament at the
stern was fixed upon that end as the stern-post of a ship is upon her
keel, and was about fourteen feet high, two broad, and one inch and a
half thick.  They both consisted of boards of carved work, of which the
design was much better than the execution.  All their canoes, except a
few at Opoorage or Mercury Bay, which were of one piece, and hollowed by
fire, are built after this plan, and few are less than twenty feet long.
Some of the smaller sort have outriggers; and sometimes two are joined
together, but this is not common.

"The carving upon the stern and head ornaments of the inferior boats,
which seemed to be intended wholly for fishing, consists of the figure
of a man, with the face as ugly as can be conceived, and a monstrous
tongue thrust out of the mouth, with the white shells of sea-ears stuck
in for eyes.  But the canoes of the superior kind, which seem to be
their men-of-war, are magnificently adorned with openwork, and covered
with loose fringes of black feathers, which had a most elegant
appearance.  The gunwale boards were also frequently carved in a
grotesque taste, and adorned with tufts of white feathers placed upon
black ground.  The paddles are small and neatly made.  The blade is of
an oval shape, or rather of a shape resembling a large leaf, pointed at
the bottom, broadest in the middle, and gradually losing itself in the
shaft, the whole length being about six feet.  By the help of these oars
they push on their boats with amazing velocity."

Mr Ellis, to whose book reference has already been made, and who
visited the South Sea Islands nearly half a century later than Cook,
tells us that the _single canoes_ used by some of the islanders are far
safer than the _double canoes_ for long voyages, as the latter are apt
to be torn asunder during a storm, and then they cannot be prevented
from constantly upsetting.

Single canoes are not so easily separated from their outrigger.
Nevertheless they are sometimes upset in rough seas; but the natives
don't much mind this.  When a canoe is upset and fills, the natives, who
learn to swim like ducks almost as soon as they can walk, seize hold of
one end of the canoe, which they press down so as to elevate the other
end above the sea, by which means a great part of the water runs out;
they then suddenly loose their hold, and the canoe falls back on the
water, emptied in some degree of its contents.  Swimming along by the
side of it, they bale out the rest, and climbing into it, pursue their

Europeans, however, are not so indifferent to being overturned as are
the savages.  On one occasion Mr Ellis, accompanied by three ladies,
Mrs Orsmond, Mrs Barff, and his wife, with her two children and one or
two natives, were crossing a harbour in the island of Huahine.  A female
servant was sitting in the forepart of the canoe with Mr Ellis's little
girl in her arms.  His infant boy was at its mother's breast; and a
native, with a long light pole, was paddling or pushing the canoe along,
when a small buhoe, with a native youth sitting in it, darted out from
behind a bush that hung over the water, and before they could turn or
the youth could stop his canoe, it ran across the outrigger.  This in an
instant went down, the canoe was turned bottom upwards, and the whole
party precipitated into the sea.

The sun had set soon after they started from the opposite side, and the
twilight being very short, the shades of evening had already thickened
round them, which prevented the natives on shore from seeing their
situation.  The native woman, being quite at home in the water, held the
little girl up with one hand, and swam with the other towards the shore,
aiding at the same time Mrs Orsmond, who had caught hold of her long
hair, which floated on the water behind her.  Mrs Barff, on rising to
the surface, caught hold of the outrigger of the canoe that had
occasioned the disaster, and calling out loudly for help, informed the
people on shore of their danger, and speedily brought them to their
assistance.  Mrs Orsmond's husband, happening to be at hand at the
time, rushed down to the beach and plunged at once into the water.  His
wife, on seeing him, quitted her, hold of the native woman, and grasping
her husband, would certainly have drowned both him and herself had not
the natives sprung in and rescued them.

Mahinevahine, the queen of the island, leaped into the sea and rescued
Mrs Barff; Mr Ellis caught hold of the canoe, and supported his wife
and their infant until assistance came.  Thus they were all saved.

The South Sea islanders, of whose canoes we have been writing, are--some
of them at least--the fiercest savages on the face of the earth.  They
wear little or no clothing, and practise cannibalism--that is,
_man-eating_--from choice.  They actually prefer human flesh to any
other.  Of this we are informed on most unquestionable authority.

Doubtless the canoes which we have described are much the same now as
they were a thousand years ago; so that, by visiting those parts of the
earth where the natives are still savage, we may, as it were, leap
backward into ancient times, and behold with our own eyes the state of
marine architecture as it existed when our own forefathers were savages,
and paddled about the Thames and the Clyde on logs, and rafts, and
wicker-work canoes.



Everything must have a beginning, and, however right and proper things
may appear to those who begin them, they generally wear a strange,
sometimes absurd, aspect to those who behold them after the lapse of
many centuries.

When we think of the trim-built ships and yachts that now cover the
ocean far and wide, we can scarce believe it possible that men really
began the practice of navigation, and first put to sea, in such
grotesque vessels as that represented on page 55.

In a former chapter reference has been made to the rise of commerce and
maritime enterprise, to the fleets and feats of the Phoenicians,
Egyptians, and Hebrews in the Mediterranean, where commerce and
navigation first began to grow vigorous.  We shall now consider the
peculiar structure of the ships and boats in which their maritime
operations were carried on.

_Boats_, as we have said, must have succeeded rafts and canoes, and big
boats soon followed in the wake of little ones.  Gradually, as men's
wants increased, the magnitude of their boats also increased, until they
came to deserve the title of little ships.  These enormous boats, or
little ships, were propelled by means of oars of immense size; and, in
order to advance with anything like speed, the oars and rowers had to be
multiplied, until they became very numerous.

In our own day we seldom see a boat requiring more than eight or ten
oars.  In ancient times boats and ships required sometimes as many as
four hundred oars to propel them.

The forms of the ancient ships were curious and exceedingly picturesque,
owing to the ornamentation with which their outlines were broken, and
the high elevation of their bows and sterns.

We have no very authentic details of the minutiae of the form or size of
ancient ships, but antiquarians have collected a vast amount of
desultory information, which, when put together, enables us to form a
pretty good idea of the manner of working them, while ancient coins and
sculptures have given us a notion of their general aspect.  No doubt
many of these records are grotesque enough, nevertheless they must be
correct in the main particulars.

Homer, who lived 1000 B.C., gives, in his "Odyssey," an account of
ship-building in his time, to which antiquarians attach much importance,
as showing the ideas then prevalent in reference to geography, and the
point at which the art of ship-building had then arrived.  Of course due
allowance must be made for Homer's tendency to indulge in hyperbole.

Ulysses, king of Ithaca, and deemed on of the wisest Greeks who went to
Troy, having been wrecked upon an island, is furnished by the nymph
Calypso with the means of building a ship,--that hero being determined
to seek again his native shore and return to his home and his faithful
spouse Penelope.

  "Forth issuing thus, she gave him first to wield
  A weighty axe, with truest temper steeled,
  And double-edged; the handle smooth and plain,
  Wrought of the clouded olive's easy grain;
  And next, a wedge to drive with sweepy sway;
  Then to the neighbouring forest led the way.
  On the lone island's utmost verge there stood
  Of poplars, pines, and firs, a lofty wood,
  Whose leafless summits to the skies aspire,
  Scorched by the sun, or seared by heavenly fire
  (Already dried).  These pointing out to view,
  The nymph just showed him, and with tears withdrew.

  "Now toils the hero; trees on trees o'erthrown
  Fall crackling round, and the forests groan;
  Sudden, full twenty on the plain are strewed,
  And lopped and lightened of their branchy load.
  At equal angles these disposed to join,
  He smoothed and squared them by the rule and line.
  (The wimbles for the work Calypso found),
  With those he pierced them and with clinchers bound.
  Long and capacious as a shipwright forms
  Some bark's broad bottom to outride the storms,
  So large he built the raft; then ribbed it strong
  From space to space, and nailed the planks along.
  These formed the sides; the deck he fashioned last;
  Then o'er the vessel raised the taper mast,
  With crossing sail-yards dancing in the wind:
  And to the helm the guiding rudder joined
  (With yielding osiers fenced to break the force
  Of surging waves, and steer the steady course).
  Thy loom, Calypso, for the future sails
  Supplied the cloth, capacious of the gales.
  With stays and cordage last he rigged the ship,
  And, rolled on levers, launched her on the deep."

The ships of the ancient Greeks and Romans were divided into various
classes, according to the number of "ranks" or "banks," that is, _rows_,
of oars.  _Monoremes_ contained one bank of oars; _biremes_, two banks;
_triremes_, three; _quadriremes_, four; _quinqueremes_, five; and so on.
But the two latter were seldom used, being unwieldy, and the oars in
the upper rank almost unmanageable from their great length and weight.

Ptolemy Philopator of Egypt is said to have built a gigantic ship with
no less than forty tiers of oars, one above the other!  She was managed
by 4000 men, besides whom there were 2850 combatants; she had four
rudders and a double prow.  Her stern was decorated with splendid
paintings of ferocious and fantastic animals; her oars protruded through
masses of foliage; and her hold was filled with grain!

That this account is exaggerated and fanciful is abundantly evident; but
it is highly probable that Ptolemy did construct one ship, if not more,
of uncommon size.

The sails used in these ships were usually square; and when there was
more than one mast, that nearest the stern was the largest.  The rigging
was of the simplest description, consisting sometimes of only two ropes
from the mast to the bow and stern.  There was usually a deck at the bow
and stern, but never in the centre of the vessel.  Steering was managed
by means of a huge broad oar, sometimes a couple, at the stern.  A
formidable "beak" was affixed to the fore-part of the ships of war, with
which the crew charged the enemy.  The vessels were painted black, with
red ornaments on the bows; to which latter Homer is supposed to refer
when he writes of red-cheeked ships.

Ships built by the Greeks and Romans for war were sharper and more
elegant than those used in commerce; the latter being round bottomed,
and broad, in order to contain cargo.

The Corinthians were the first to introduce _triremes_ into their navy
(about 700 years B.C.), and they were also the first who had any navy of
importance.  The Athenians soon began to emulate them, and ere long
constructed a large fleet of vessels both for war and commerce.  That
these ancient ships were light compared with ours, is proved by the fact
that when the Greeks landed to commence the siege of Troy they _drew up
their ships on the shore_.  We are also told that ancient mariners, when
they came to a long narrow promontory of land, were sometimes wont to
land, draw their ships bodily across the narrowest part of the isthmus,
and launch them on the other side.

Moreover, they had a salutary dread of what sailors term "blue water"--
that is, the deep, distant sea--and never ventured out of sight of land.
They had no compass to direct them, and in their coasting voyages of
discovery they were guided, if blown out to sea, by the stars.

The sails were made of linen in Homer's time; subsequently sail-cloth
was made of hemp, rushes, and leather.  Sails were sometimes dyed of
various colours and with curious patterns.  Huge ropes were fastened
round the ships to bind them more firmly together, and the bulwarks were
elevated beyond the frame of the vessels by wicker-work covered with

Stones were used for anchors, and sometimes crates of small stones or
sand; but these were not long of being superseded by iron anchors with
teeth or flukes.

The Romans were not at first so strong in naval power as their
neighbours, but in order to keep pace with them they were ultimately
compelled to devote more attention to their navies.  About 260 B.C. they
raised a large fleet to carry on the war with Carthage.  A Carthaginian
quinquereme which happened to be wrecked on their coast was taken
possession of by the Romans, used as a model, and one hundred and thirty
ships constructed from it.  These ships were all built, it is said, in
six days; but this appears almost incredible.  We must not, however,
judge the power of the ancients by the standard of present times.  It is
well known that labour was cheap then, and we have recorded in history
the completion of great works in marvellously short time, by the mere
force of myriads of workmen.

The Romans not only succeeded in raising a considerable navy, but they
proved themselves ingenious in the contrivance of novelties in their
war-galleys.  They erected towers on the decks, from the top of which
their warriors fought as from the walls of a fortress.  They also placed
small cages or baskets on the top of their masts, in which a few men
were placed to throw javelins down on the decks of the enemy; a practice
which is still carried out in principle at the present day, men being
placed in the "tops" of the masts of our men-of-war, whence they fire
down on the enemy.  It was a bullet from the "top" of one of the masts
of the enemy that laid low our greatest naval hero, Lord Nelson.

From this time the Romans maintained a powerful navy.  They crippled the
maritime power of their African foes, and built a number of ships with
six and even ten ranks of oars.  The Romans became exceedingly fond of
representations of sea-fights, and Julius Caesar dug a lake in the
Campus Martius specially for these exhibitions.  They were not by any
means sham fights.  The unfortunates who manned the ships on these
occasions were captives or criminals, who fought as the gladiators did--
to the death--until one side was exterminated or spared by imperial
clemency.  In one of these battles no fewer than a hundred ships and
nineteen thousand combatants were engaged!

Such were the people who invaded Britain in the year 55 B.C. under
Julius Caesar, and such the vessels from which they landed upon our
shores to give battle to the then savage natives of our country.

It is a curious fact that the crusades of the twelfth and thirteenth
centuries were the chief cause of the advancement of navigation after
the opening of the Christian era.  During the first five hundred years
after the birth of our Lord, nothing worthy of notice in the way of
maritime enterprise or discovery occurred.

But about this time an event took place which caused the foundation of
one of the most remarkable maritime cities in the world.  In the year
476 Italy was invaded by the barbarians.  One tribe, the Veneti, who
dwelt upon the north-eastern shores of the Adriatic, escaped the
invaders by fleeing for shelter to the marshes and sandy islets at the
head of the gulf, whither their enemies could not follow by land, owing
to the swampy nature of the ground, nor by sea, on account of the
shallowness of the waters.  The Veneti took to fishing, then to making
salt, and finally to mercantile enterprises.  They began to build, too,
on those sandy isles, and soon their cities covered ninety islands, many
of which were connected by bridges.  And thus arose the far-famed city
of the waters--"Beautiful Venice, the bride of the sea."

Soon the Venetians, and their neighbours the Genoese, monopolised the
commerce of the Mediterranean.

The crusades now began, and for two centuries the Christian warred
against the Turk in the name of Him who, they seem to have forgotten, if
indeed the mass of them ever knew, is styled the Prince of Peace.  One
of the results of these crusades was that the Europeans engaged acquired
a taste for Eastern luxuries, and the fleets of Venice and Genoa, Pisa
and Florence, ere long crowded the Mediterranean, laden with jewels,
silks, perfumes, spices, and such costly merchandise.  The Normans, the
Danes, and the Dutch also began to take active part in the naval
enterprise thus fostered, and the navy of France was created under the
auspices of Philip Augustus.

The result of all this was that there was a great moving, and, to some
extent, commingling of the nations.  The knowledge of arts and
manufactures was interchanged, and of necessity the knowledge of various
languages spread.  The West began constantly to demand the products of
the East, wealth began to increase, and the sum of human knowledge to

Shortly after this era of opening commercial prosperity in the
Mediterranean, the hardy Northmen performed deeds on the deep which
outrival those of the great Columbus himself, and were undertaken many
centuries before his day.

The Angles, the Saxons, and the Northmen inhabited the borders of the
Baltic, the shores of the German Ocean, and the coasts of Norway.  Like
the nations on the shores of the Mediterranean, they too became famous
navigators; but, unlike them, war and piracy were their chief objects of
pursuit.  Commerce was secondary.

In vessels resembling that of which the above is a representation, those
nations went forth to plunder the dwellers in more favoured climes, and
to establish the Anglo-Saxon dominion in England; and their celebrated
King Alfred became the founder of the naval power of Britain, which was
destined in future ages to rule the seas.

It was the Northmen who, in huge open boats, pushed off without chart or
compass (for neither existed at that time) into the tempestuous northern
seas, and, in the year 863, discovered the island of Iceland; in 983,
the coast of Greenland; and, a few years later, those parts of the
American coast now called Long Island, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Nova
Scotia, and Newfoundland.  It is true they did not go forth with the
scientific and commercial views of Columbus; neither did they give to
the civilised world the benefit of their knowledge of those lands.  But
although their purpose was simply selfish, we cannot withhold our
admiration of the bold, daring spirit displayed by those early
navigators, under circumstances of the greatest possible disadvantage--
with undecked or half-decked boats, meagre supplies, no scientific
knowledge or appliances, and the stars their only guide over the
trackless waste of waters.

In the course of time, one or two adventurous travellers pushed into
Asia, and men began to ascertain that the world was not the
insignificant disc, or cylinder, or ball they had deemed it.  Perhaps
one of the chief among those adventurous travellers was Marco Polo, a
Venetian, who lived in the latter part of the thirteenth century.  He
made known the central and eastern portions of Asia, Japan, the islands
of the Indian Archipelago, part of the continent of Africa, and the
island of Madagascar, and is considered the founder of the modern
geography of Asia.

The adventures of this wonderful man were truly surprising, and although
he undoubtedly exaggerated to some extent in his account of what he had
seen, his narrations are for the most part truthful.  He and his
companions were absent on their voyages and travels twenty-one years.

Marco Polo died; but the knowledge of the East opened up by him, his
adventures and his wealth, remained behind to stir up the energies of
European nations.  Yet there is no saying how long the world would have
groped on in this twilight of knowledge, and mariners would have
continued to "hug the shore" as in days gone by, had not an event
occurred which at once revolutionised the science of navigation, and
formed a new era in the history of mankind.  This was the invention of
the mariner's compass.



"What _is_ the compass?" every philosophical youth of inquiring
disposition will naturally ask.  We do not say that all youths will make
this inquiry.  Many there are who will at once say, "Oh, I know!  It's a
needle with a card on the top of it--sometimes a needle with a card
under it--which always points to the north, and shows sailors how to
steer their ships."

Very well explained indeed, my self-sufficient friend; but you have not
answered the question.  You have told us what a compass is like, and one
of the uses to which it is applied; but you have not yet told what it
_is_.  A man who had never heard of a compass might exclaim, "What! a
needle!  Is it a darning needle, or a knitting needle, or a
drawing-through needle?  And which end points to the north--the eye or
the point?  And if you lay it on the table the wrong end to the north,
will it turn round of its own accord?"

You laugh, perhaps, and explain; but it would have been better to have
explained correctly at first.  Thus:--

The mariner's compass is a small, flat bar of magnetised steel, which,
when balanced on a pivot, turns one of its ends persistently towards the
north pole--the other, of course, towards the south pole; and it does
this in consequence of its being magnetised.  A card is fixed above,
sometimes below, this bar of steel (which is called the needle), whereon
are marked the cardinal points--north, south, east, and west--with their
subdivisions or intermediate points, by means of which the true
direction of any point can be ascertained.

"Aha!" you exclaim, "Mr Author, but you yourself have omitted part of
the explanation.  _Why_ is it that the magnetising of the needle causes
it to turn to the north?"

I answer humbly, "I cannot tell;" but, further, I assert confidently,
"Neither can anybody else."  The fact is known, and we see its result;
but the reason why magnetised steel or iron should have this tendency,
this polarity, is one of the mysteries which man has not yet been able
to penetrate, and probably never will.

Having explained the nature of the compass, as far as explanation is
possible, we present our reader with a picture of one.

It will be seen that there are four large points--N, S, E, and W--the
cardinal points above referred to, and that these are subdivided by
twelve smaller points, with one little black triangular point between
each, and a multitude of smaller points round the outer circle.  To give
these points their correct names is called "boxing the compass,"--a
lesson which all seamen can trip off their tongues like A, B, C, and
which most boys could learn in a few hours.

For the sake of those who are anxious to acquire the knowledge, we give
the following explanation: Let us begin with north.  The large point
midway between N and E (to the right) is _north-east_.  The
corresponding point midway between N and W (to the left) is
_north-west_.  A glance will show that the corresponding points towards
the south are respectively _south-east_ and _south-west_ (usually
written S.E. and S.W., as the two former points are written N.E. and
N.W.).  Now, to read off the compass with this amount of knowledge is
very simple.  Thus: _North_, _north-east_, _east_, _south-east_,
_south_, _south-west_, _west_, _north-west_, _north_.  But be it
observed that, in the language of the sea, the _th_ is thrown overboard,
except when the words north and south occur alone.  When conjoined with
other points they are pronounced thus: nor'-east, sou'-east; and so on.

To come now to the smaller subdivisions, it will suffice to take a
quarter of the circle.  The point midway between N.E. and N. is
"nor'-nor'-east" (N.N.E.), and the corresponding one between N.E. and E.
is "east nor'-east" (E.N.E.).  These points are again subdivided by
little black points which are thus named:--The first, next the N., is
"north by east" (N. by E.); the corresponding one next the E. is "east
by north" (E. by N.).  The second _black_ point from N. is "nor'-east by
north" (N.E. by N.), and the corresponding one--namely, the second black
point from east--is "nor'-east by east" (N.E. by E.).  Thus, in reading
off the compass, we say--beginning at north and proceeding to east--
North: north by east; nor'-nor'-east; nor'-east by north; nor'-east;
nor'-east by east; east nor'-east; east by north; east;--and so on with
the other quarters of the circle.

So much for "boxing the compass."  The manner in which it is used on
board ship, and the various instruments employed in connection with it
in the working of a vessel at sea, will be explained shortly; but first
let us glance at the history of the compass.

It is a matter of great uncertainty when, where, and by whom the
mariner's compass was invented.  Flavio Gioia, a Neapolitan captain or
pilot, who lived about the beginning of the fourteenth century, was
generally recognised throughout Europe as the inventor of this useful
instrument; but time and research have thrown new light on this subject.
Probably the Neapolitan pilot was the first who brought the compass
into general notice in Europe; but long before 1303 (the year in which
it was said to have been invented) the use of the magnetic needle was
known to the Chinese.

_Loadstone_, that mineral which has the mysterious power of attracting
iron, and also of imparting to iron its own attractive power, was known
to the Chinese before the year 121, in which year a famous Chinese
dictionary was completed, wherein the word _magnet_ is defined as "the
name of a stone which gives direction to a needle."  This proves not
only that they knew the attractive properties of the loadstone, and its
power of imparting these properties to metal, but also that they were
aware of the polarity of a magnetised needle.  Another Chinese
dictionary, published between the third and fourth centuries, speaks of
ships being guided in their course to the south by means of the magnet;
and in a medical work published in China in 1112, mention is made of the
_variation_ of the needle, showing that the Chinese had not only used
the needle as a guide at sea, but had observed this one of its
well-known peculiarities--namely, the tendency of the needle to point in
a _very slight degree_ away from the true north.

In the thirteenth century, too, we find mention made of the needle by a
poet and by two other writers; so that whatever Flavio Gioia may have
done (and it is probable he did much) in the way of pushing the compass
into notice in Europe, he cannot be said to be the inventor of it.  That
honour doubtless belongs to the Chinese.  Be this as it may, the compass
was invented; and in the fourteenth century it began that revolution in
maritime affairs to which we have alluded.

The first compasses were curiously formed.  The Chinese used a
magnetised needle, which they placed in a bit of rush or pith, which was
floated in a basin of water, and thus allowed to move freely and turn
towards the poles.  They also made needles in the form of iron fish.  An
Arabian author of the thirteenth century thus writes:--"I heard it said
that the captains in the Indian seas substitute for the needle and reed
a hollow iron fish magnetised, so that, when placed in the water, it
points to the north with its head and to the south with its tail.  The
reason that the iron fish does not sink, is that metallic bodies, even
the heaviest, float when hollow and when they displace a quantity of
water greater than their own weight."

The use of the compass at sea is so simple, that, after what has been
said, it scarcely requires explanation.  When a ship sets sail for any
port, she knows, first of all, the position of the port from which she
sets sail, as well as that to which she is bound.  A straight line drawn
from the one to the other is her true course, supposing that there is
deep, unobstructed water all the way; and if the compass be placed upon
that line, the point of the compass through which it passes is the point
by which she ought to steer.  Suppose that her course ran through the
east point of the compass: the ship's head would at once be turned in
that direction, and she would continue her voyage with the needle of the
compass pointing straight _across_ the deck, and the east and west
points straight _along_ it.

But various causes arise in the actual practice of navigation to prevent
a ship keeping her true course.  Winds may be contrary, and currents may
drive her either to the one side or the other of it; while land--
promontories, islands, and shallows--compel her to deviate from the
direct line.  A vessel also makes what is called "leeway;" which means
that, when the wind blows on her side, she not only advances forward,
but also slides through the water sidewise.  Thus, in the course of a
day, she may get a considerable distance off her true course--in sea
parlance, "make a good deal of leeway."

To perform the voyage correctly and safely in the face of these
obstacles and hindrances is the aim and end of navigation; and the
manner of proceeding is as follows:--

The hour is carefully noted on setting sail, and from that moment, night
and day, to the end of the voyage, certain observations are made and
entered in the ship's journal, called the log.  Every hour the rate at
which the ship is going is ascertained and carefully noted.  The point
of the compass towards which the ship is to be steered is given by the
captain or officer in command to the steersman, who stands at the wheel
with a compass always before him in a box called the "_binnacle_."  The
course is never changed except by distinct orders from those in command;
and when it is changed, the hour when the change is made and the new
course to be steered are carefully noted down.  Thus, at the end of the
day, or at any other time if desired, the position of the ship can be
ascertained by her course being drawn upon a chart of the ocean over
which she is sailing,--correct charts, or maps, being provided by the
captain before starting.

The estimate thus made is, however, not absolutely correct.  It is
called the "_dead-reckoning_," and is only an approximation to the
truth, because allowance has to be made for leeway, which can only be
guessed at.  Allowance has also to be made for variations in the rate of
sailing in each hour, for the winds do not always blow with exactly the
same force during any hour of the day.  On the contrary, they may vary
several times within an hour, both in force and in direction.  Those
variations have to be watched and allowed for; but such allowance may be
erroneous in a greater or less degree.  Currents, too, may have exerted
an unseen influence on the ship, thus rendering the calculation still
less correct.  Nevertheless, dead-reckoning is often the only guide the
sailor has to depend upon for days at a time, when storms and cloudy
skies prevent him from ascertaining his true position by other means, of
which we shall speak presently.

Of course, in the early days of navigation there were no charts of the
ocean.  The navigator knew not whither he was hurrying over the wild
waste of waters; but by observing the relative position of some of the
fixed stars to his course while sailing out to sea, he could form a
rough idea of the proper course to steer in order to return to the port
whence he had started.

The compass, then, shows the sailor the course he has been going, and
the _log_ (of which more presently) enables him to ascertain the rate at
which he has proceeded; while his chronometers, or time-keepers, tell
him the _time_ during which the course and rate of sailing have been
kept up.  And many a long cruise on the unknown deep has been
successfully accomplished in days of old by bold seamen, with this
method of dead-reckoning; and many a mariner at the present day depends
almost entirely on it, while _all_ are, during thick, stormy weather,
dependent on it for days and sometimes weeks together.

The _log_, to which we have referred, is the instrument by which is
determined the rate at which a ship is progressing.  It is a very simple
contrivance: a triangular piece of wood about the size of a large
saucer, with a piece of stout cord fastened to each corner, the ends of
the cords being tied together, so that when held up, the "log," as it is
called, resembles one of a pair of scales.  One of the cords, however,
is only temporarily attached to its corner by means of a peg, which when
violently pulled comes out.  One edge of the triangle is loaded with
lead.  The whole machine is fastened to the "log-line,"--a stout cord
many fathoms long, which is wound on a large reel.

"Heaving the log," as we have said, takes place every hour.  One sailor
stands by with a sand-glass which runs exactly half a minute.  Another
holds the wooden reel; and a third heaves the log overboard, and "pays
out" line as fast as he can make the reel spin.  The instant it is
thrown the first sailor turns the sand-glass.  The log, being loaded on
one side, floats perpendicularly in the water, remaining stationary of
course; while the man who hove it watches sundry knots on the line as
they pass over the stern of the ship, each knot representing a mile of
rate of speed in the hour.  As the last grain of sand drops to the
bottom of the glass the first sailor gives a sharp signal, and the
second clutches and checks the line, examines the knot nearest his hand,
and thus knows at once how many knots or miles the ship is sailing at
that time.  The sudden stoppage of the line jerks the peg, before
referred to, out of the log, thereby allowing the other two fixed cords
to drag it flat and unresisting over the surface of the sea, when the
line is reeled up and put by.  The flight of another hour calls for a
repetition of the heaving of the log.

As scientific knowledge advanced, instruments of peculiar and more
complicated form were devised to enable navigators to ascertain more
correctly their position on the surface of the sea; but they did not,
and never will, supersede the method by dead-reckoning--for this reason,
that the latter can be practised at all times, while the former are
useless unless the sun, moon, or stars be visible, which in some
latitudes they are not for many days and weeks, when clouds and fogs
shroud the bright sky from view.

The _Quadrant_ is the chief of those instruments.  It is represented on
next page.  To give a succinct account of this would take up more space
than we can spare.  It may suffice the general reader to say that by
observing the exact position of the sun at noon, or of the moon or a
star, in relation to the horizon, the precise _latitude_ of a ship--that
is, her distance north or south of the equator--is ascertained.  The
method of "taking an observation" is complicated, and difficult to
explain and understand.  We refer those who are curious on the point to
treatises on navigation.

_Chronometers_ are exceedingly delicate and perfect time-keepers, or
watches, which are very carefully set at the commencement of a voyage.
Thus the _time_ at the _meridian_ whence a vessel starts is kept up
during the voyage.  By means of an observation of the sun with the
quadrant, or sextant (a somewhat similar instrument), the true time at
any particular point in the voyage may be ascertained.  A _difference_
is found to exist between the time at the spot where the observation is
taken, and the time of the chronometer.  A calculation founded on this
difference gives the ship's _longitude_--that is, her distance east or
west of the meridian that passes through Greenwich.  That meridian is an
imaginary line drawn round the world longitudinally, and passing through
the north and south poles, as the equator is a line passing round it

When a ship's latitude and longitude have been ascertained, and a line
drawn through the first parallel to the equator, and another line
through the second parallel to the first meridian, the point where these
two lines intersect is the _exact_ position of the ship upon the sea.

The size and form of ships having gradually improved, the compass and
other scientific appliances having been discovered, cannon also and
gunpowder having been invented, seamen became more courageous and
venturesome; and at last the Portuguese nation began that career of
maritime enterprise which won for it the admiration of the world.

About the beginning of the fourteenth century (1330), the Canary
Islands, lying off the west coast of Africa, were re-discovered by the
accident of a French ship being blown off the coast in a storm, and
finding shelter amongst them.  This group had been known to the ancients
under the name of the Fortunate Islands, but had been forgotten for more
than a thousand years.  During the course of the century the Spaniards
plucked up courage to make discoveries and settlements upon them,
although by so doing they were compelled to undergo that much-dreaded
ordeal--sailing _out of sight_ of their once fondly "hugged" land!

In the beginning of the next century arose a prince, Don Henry, son of
John the First of Portugal, whose anxiety to promote discovery, and to
find a passage by sea round the coast of Africa to India, induced him to
send out many expeditions, all of which accomplished something, and many
of which added very extensively to the geographical knowledge of the
world at that time.  Navigators, sent out by him from time to time,
discovered the Madeira Islands; sailed along the western coast of Africa
a considerable distance; ascertained the presence of gold-dust among the
savages on the Gulf of Guinea; discovered the Azores, besides numerous
other islands and lands; crossed the equator, and approached to within
about eighteen hundred miles of the south-most cape of Africa.

The discovery of gold-dust stirred up the energies of the Portuguese in
a remarkable degree, and caused them cheerfully to undertake ventures
which, without that inducement, they would probably never have
undertaken at all.  Moreover, they had now learned to quail less at the
idea of losing sight of land; and towards the end of the fifteenth
century (1486), Bartholomew Diaz, an officer of the household of John
the Second, achieved the grand object which had long been ardently
desired by the Portuguese--he doubled the great southern cape of Africa,
which King John named the "Cape of Good Hope," although Diaz had named
it the "Cape of Tempests."  The circumstance is thus alluded to by a
poet of that period--

  "At Lisboa's court they told their dread escape,
  And from her raging tempests named the Cape.
  `Thou southmost point,' the joyful king exclaimed,
  `_Cape of Good Hope_ be thou for ever named!'"



Leaving the subject of ancient ships and navigation, we shall now turn
our attention to the more recent doings of man on the ocean, and, before
entering into the details of ships and ship-building, devote a little
time and space to the consideration of boats.

There are great varieties of boats--as regards shape, size, material,
and use--so that it is not easy to decide on which we shall first fix
our attention.  There are large and small, long and short boats; flat,
round, sharp, and bluff ones,--some clumsy, others elegant.  Certain
boats are built for carrying cargo, others for purposes of war.  Some
are meant for sailing, some for rowing; and while many kinds are devoted
to business, others are intended solely for pleasure.  Before we refer
to any of these, perhaps our young readers will not object to be told
how to construct:--


We need scarcely say that it is not expedient for a boy to attempt to
build a model boat in the same manner as a regular boat-builder
constructs one for actual service.  It would be undertaking an
unnecessary amount of labour to lay a keel and form ribs and nail on
planks in the orthodox fashion, because, for all practical purposes, a
boat cut out of a solid block of wood is quite as useful, and much more
easily made.

The first thing you have to do, my young boat-builder, then, is to go
and visit a harbour or beach where varieties of boats are to be found,
and, having settled in your mind which of them you intend to copy, make
a careful drawing, in outline, of its form in four different positions.
First, a side view, as in Figure 1.  Then the stern, with the swelling
sides of the boat visible, as in Figure 2.  The bow, as in Figure 3; and
a bird's-eye view, as in Figure 4.  The last drawing can be made by
mounting on some neighbouring eminence, such as a bank or a larger boat,
or, if that is impossible, by getting upon the stern of the boat itself,
and thus looking down on it.  These four drawings will be of great
service in enabling you to shape your model correctly; for as you
proceed with the carving you can, by holding the model up in the same
position with any of the drawings, ascertain whether you are progressing
properly; and if you get the correct form of your boat in these four
positions, you will be almost certain to make a good boat.  If, on the
other hand, you go to work without drawings, the probability is that
your boat will be lopsided, which will prevent it from floating evenly;
or crooked, which will tend to check its speed in sailing, besides being
clumsy and not "ship-shape," as the sailors have it.

Figure 1 will keep you right in regard to relative length and depth;
Figure 2 in regard to shape of stern and bulge of the sides; Figure 3
secures correct form of the bow; and Figure 4 enables you to proportion
the breadth to the length.

The next thing to be done is to procure a block of fir-wood, with as few
knots in it as possible, and straight in the grain.  The size is a
matter of choice--any size from a foot to eighteen inches will do very
well for a model boat.  Before beginning to carve this, it should be
planed quite smooth and even on all sides, and the ends cut perfectly
square, to permit of the requisite pencil-drawings being made on it.

The tools required are a small tenon-saw, a chisel, two or three gouges
of different sizes, a spoke-shave, and a file with one side flat and the
other round.  A rough rasp-file and a pair of compasses will also be
found useful.  All of these ought to be exceedingly sharp.  The gouges
and the spoke-shave will be found the most useful of these implements.

Begin by drawing a straight line with pencil down the exact centre of
what will be the deck; continue it down the part that will be the stern;
then carry it along the bottom of the block, where the keel will be, and
up the front part, or bow.  If this line has been correctly drawn, the
end of it will exactly meet the place where you began to draw it.  On
the correctness of this line much will depend; therefore it is necessary
to be careful and precise in finding out the centre of each surface of
the block with the compasses.  Next, draw a line on each side of this
centre line (as in the accompanying diagram), which will give the
thickness of the keel and stern-post.  Then on the upper surface of the
block draw the form of the boat to correspond with the bird's-eye view
(Figure 4, on page 82) already referred to.  Then draw _one-half_ of the
stern on a piece of thin card-board, and when satisfied that it is
correct cut it out with scissors; apply it to the model, first on one
side, and then on the other side of the stern-post.  By thus using a
pattern of only one-half of the stern, exact uniformity of the two sides
is secured.  Treat the bow in the same way.  Of course the pattern of
the bow will at first be drawn on the _flat_ surface of the block, and
it will represent not the actual bow, but the thickest part of the hull,
as seen in the position of Figure 3, on page 82.  After this, turn the
side of the block, and draw the form represented in Figure 1, page 82,
thereon, and mark _on the keel_ the point where the stem and keel join,
and also where the stern and keel join.  This is necessary, because in
carving the sides of the boat these lines will be among the first to be
cut away.  The next proceeding is to cut away at the sides and bottom of
the block until, looking at it in the proper positions, the bow
resembles Figure 3, and the stern Figure 2, above referred to.  This
will be done chiefly with the gouge, the chisel and spoke-shave being
reserved for finishing.  Then saw off the parts of the bow and stern
that will give the requisite slope to these parts, being guided by the
marks made on the keel.  In cutting away the upper parts of the bow and
stern, be guided by the curved lines on the deck; and in forming the
lower parts of the same portions, keep your eye on your drawing, which
is represented by Figure 1.

It is advisable to finish one side of the boat first, so that, by
measurement and comparison, the other side may be made exactly similar.
Those who wish to be very particular on this point may secure almost
exact uniformity of the two sides by cutting out several moulds (three
will be sufficient) in card-board.  These moulds must be cut so as to
fit three marked points on the _finished_ side, as represented by three
dotted lines on Figure 1; and then the unfinished side must be cut so as
to fit the moulds at the corresponding points.  If the two sides are
quite equal at these three points, it is almost impossible to go far
wrong in cutting away the wood between them--the eye will be a
sufficient guide for the rest.

The accompanying diagram shows the three moulds referred to, one of them
being _nearly_ applied to the finished part of the hull to which it
belongs.  Thus--(a) represents the unfinished side of the boat; (b) the
finished side; (c) is the mould or card cut to correspond with the
widest part of the finished side, near the centre of the boat; (d) is
the mould for the part near the bow; (e) for that near the stern.  These
drawings are roughly given, to indicate the plan on which you should
proceed.  The exact forms will depend on your own taste or fancy, as
formed by the variously-shaped boats you have studied.  And it may be
remarked here, that all we have said in regard to the cutting out of
model boats applies equally to model ships.

The outside of your boat having been finished, the bow having been
fashioned somewhat like that represented in the accompanying cut, and
the stern having been shaped like that shown in the illustration given
below, the next thing to be done is to hollow out the hull.  Care must
be taken in doing this not to cut away too much wood from one part, or
to leave too much at another; a little more than half an inch of
thickness may be left everywhere.  Next, fix in the thwarts, or seats,
as in the foregoing cut, attach a leaden keel, and the boat is

The keel may be formed by running melted lead into a groove cut in a
piece of wood, or, better still, into a groove made in nearly dry clay.
By driving four or five nails (well greased) into the groove before
pouring in the melted lead, holes may be formed in the keel by simply
withdrawing the nails after it is cold.

A mast and sail, however, are still wanted.  The best kind of sail is
the lug, which is an elongated square sail--shown in the accompanying

Most of our fishing-boats are provided with lug-sails, and on this
account are styled luggers.  These boats are of all sizes, some of them
being fifty tons burden, and carrying crews of seven or ten men each.  A
picture of a lugger is given on the next page.

Great numbers of fishing-boats may be seen at Great Yarmouth, and all
along the coasts of Norfolk and Suffolk.  They are employed in the
herring-fishery, and use nets, which are let down in deep water, corks
floating the upper edges of the nets, and the lower edges being sunk by
leads, so that they remain in the water perpendicularly like walls, and
intercept the shoals of herring when they chance to pass.  Thousands of
these glittering silvery fish get entangled in the meshes during night.
Then the nets are drawn up, and the fish taken out and thrown into a
"well," whence they are removed as quickly as possible, and salted and
packed in lockers; while the nets are let down again into the sea.
These boats remain out usually a week at a time.  Most of them return to
port on Saturday, in order to spend Sunday as a day of rest.  Some,
however--regardless of the fact that He who gives them the fish with
such liberal hand, also gave them the command, "Remember the sabbath
day"--continue to prosecute the fishing on that day.  But many a good
man among the fishermen has borne testimony to the fact that these do
not gain additional wealth by their act of disobedience; while they lose
in the matter of nets (which suffer from want of frequent drying) and in
the matter of health (which cannot be maintained so well without a
weekly day of rest), while there can be no doubt that they lose the
inestimable blessing of a good conscience.  So true is it that godliness
is profitable for the life which now is as well as for that which is to

A model boat should be rigged with only one mast and lug-sail, or with
two masts and sails at the most.  Three are unnecessary and cumbrous.
Each sail should be fixed to a yard, which should be hoisted or hauled
down by means of a block or pulley fastened near the top of the mast.
The positions of these yards and the form of the sails may be more
easily understood by a glance at our woodcut than by reading many pages
of description.

Sprit-sails are sometimes used in boats.  These are fore-and-aft sails,
which are kept distended by a sprit instead of a yard.  The sprit is a
long pole, one end of which is fixed to the lowest _innermost_ corner,
near the mast, and the other end extending to the highest _outermost_
corner; thus it lies diagonally across the sail.  It is convenient when
a boat "tacks," or "goes about"--in other words, when it goes round
frequently, and sails, now leaning on one side, and, at the next tack,
on the other side.  In this case the sprit requires little shifting or
attention.  But it is dangerous in squally weather, because, although
the sheet or line which holds the lower and _outer_ end of a sail may be
let go for the sake of safety, the upper part remains spread to the wind
because of the sprit.

The best rig of all for a model boat, and indeed for a pleasure-boat, is
that which comprises a main-sail, in form like that of a sloop or a
cutter, omitting the boom, or lower yard, and a triangular fore-sail
extending from near the mast to the bow of the boat or to the end of the
bowsprit--somewhat like a sloop's jib.  Both of the sails referred to
may be seen at the part of this book which treats of sloops and cutters;
and they are the same in form, with but slight modification, when
applied to boats.

Racing-boats are long, low, narrow, and light.  Some are so narrow as to
require iron rowlocks extending a considerable distance beyond the sides
of the boat for the oars to rest in.  Many of these light craft may be
seen on the Thames and Clyde, and other rivers throughout the kingdom.
The larger sort do not require what we may call the outrigger rowlocks.

The "Rob Roy" canoe has, of late years, come much into fashion as a
racing and pleasure boat.  Whatever the advantages of this craft may be,
it has this disadvantage, that it can hold only one person; so that it
may be styled an unsocial craft, the company of one or more friends
being impossible, unless, indeed, one or more canoes travel in company.

This species of canoe became celebrated some years ago, in consequence
of an interesting and adventurous voyage of a thousand miles through
Germany, Switzerland, and France, and, subsequently, through part of
Norway and Sweden, made by Mr Macgregor in a craft of this kind, to
which he gave the name of "Rob Roy."  Since the craft became popular,
numerous and important improvements have been made in the construction
of its hull and several parts, but its distinctive features remain
unaltered.  The "Rob Roy" canoe is, in fact, almost identical with the
Eskimo kayak, except in regard to the material of which it is made--the
former being composed wholly of wood, the latter of a framework of wood
covered with skin.  There is the same long, low, fish-like form, the
same deck, almost on a level with the water, the same hole in the centre
for the admission of the man, the same apron to keep out water, and the
same long, double-bladed paddle, which is dipped on each side
alternately.  The "Rob Roy" has, however, the addition of a small mast,
a lug-sail, and a jib.  It has also a back-board, to support the back of
the canoeman; the paddle, too, is somewhat shorter than that of the
Eskimo canoe; and the whole affair is smarter, and more in accordance
with the tastes and habits of the civilised men who use it.

In his various voyages, which we might almost style journeys, the
originator of the "Rob Roy" canoe proved conclusively that there were
few earthly objects which could form a barrier to his progress.  When
his canoe could not carry him, he carried it!  Waterfalls could not stop
him, because he landed below them, and carried his canoe and small
amount of baggage to the smooth water above the falls.  In this he
followed the example of the fur-traders and Indians of North America,
who travel over any number of miles of wilderness in this manner.
Shallows could not stop him, because his little bark drew only a few
inches of water.  Turbulent water could not swamp him, because the waves
washed harmlessly over his smooth deck, and circled innocently round his
protective apron.  Even long stretches of dry land could not stop him,
because barrows, or carts, or railways could transport his canoe hither
and thither with perfect ease to any distance; so that when the waters
of one river failed him, those of the next nearest were easily made
available.  In conclusion, it may be said that the "Rob Roy" canoe is a
most useful and pleasant craft for boys and young men, especially at
those watering-places which have no harbour or pier, and where, in
consequence of the flatness of the beach, boats cannot easily be used.

It would be an almost endless as well as unprofitable task to go over
the names and characteristics of all our various kinds of boats in

Of heavy-sterned and clumsy river craft, we have an innumerable fleet.

There are also _Torbay Trawlers_, which are cutters of from twenty to
fifty tons; and the herring-boats of Scotland; and cobbles, which are
broad, bluff, little boats; and barges, which are broad, bluff, large
ones; and skiffs, and scows, and many others.

In foreign lands many curious boats are to be met with.  The most
graceful of them, perhaps, are those which carry lateen sails--enormous
triangular sails, of which kind each boat usually carries only one.

_India-rubber boats_ there are, which can be inflated with a pair of
bellows, and, when full, can support half-a-dozen men or more, while,
when empty, they can be rolled up and carried on the back of one man, or
in a barrow.  One boat of this kind we once saw and paddled in.  It was
made in the form of a cloak, and could be carried quite easily on one's
shoulders.  When inflated, it formed a sort of oval canoe, which was
quite capable of supporting one person.  We speak from experience,
having tried it some years ago on the Serpentine, and found it to be
extremely buoyant, but a little given to spin round at each stroke of
the paddle, owing to its circular shape and want of cut-water or keel.


Of all the boats that swim, the lifeboat is certainly one of the most
interesting; perhaps it is not too much to add that it is also one of
the most useful.  But this boat deserves a chapter to itself.



When our noble Lifeboat Institution was in its infancy, a deed was
performed by a young woman which at once illustrates the extreme danger
to which those who attempt to rescue the shipwrecked must expose
themselves, and the great need there was, thirty years ago, for some
better provision than existed at that time for the defence of our
extensive sea-board against the dire consequences of storm and wreck.
It is not, we think, inappropriate to begin our chapter on lifeboats
with a brief account of the heroic deed of:--


There are not many women who, like Joan of Arc, put forth their hands to
the work peculiarly belonging to the male sex, and achieve for
themselves undying fame.  And among these there are very few indeed who,
in thus quitting their natural sphere and assuming masculine duties,
retain their feminine modesty and gentleness.

Such a one, however, was Grace Darling.  She did not, indeed, altogether
quit her station and follow a course peculiar to the male sex; but she
did once seize the oar and launch fearlessly upon the raging sea, and
perform a deed which strong and daring men might have been proud of--
which drew forth the wondering admiration of her country, and has
rendered her name indissolubly connected with the annals of heroic
daring in the saving of human life from vessels wrecked upon our
rock-bound shores.

Grace Darling was born in November 1815, at Bamborough, on the
Northumberland coast.  Her father was keeper of the lighthouse on the
Longstone, one of the Farne Islands lying off that coast; and here, on a
mere bit of rock surrounded by the ocean, and often by the howling
tempests and the foaming breakers of that dangerous spot, our heroine
spent the greater part of her life, cut off almost totally from the joys
and pursuits of the busy world.  She and her mother managed the domestic
economy of the lighthouse on the little islet, while her father trimmed
the lantern that sent a blaze of friendly light to warn mariners off
that dangerous coast.

In personal appearance Grace Darling is described as having been fair
and comely, with a gentle, modest expression of countenance; about the
middle size; and with nothing in the least degree masculine about her.
She had reached her twenty-second year when the wreck took place in
connection with which her name has become famous.

The Farne Islands are peculiarly dangerous.  The sea rushes with
tremendous force between the smaller islands, and, despite the warning
light, wrecks occasionally take place among them.  In days of old, when
men had neither heart nor head to erect lighthouses for the protection
of their fellows, many a noble ship must have been dashed to pieces
there, and many an awful shriek must have mingled with the hoarse roar
of the surf round these rent and weatherworn rocks.

A gentleman who visited the Longstone rock in 1838, describes it thus:--

"It was, like the rest of these desolate isles, all of dark whinstone,
cracked in every direction, and worn with the action of winds, waves,
and tempests since the world began.  Over the greater part of it was not
a blade of grass, nor a grain of earth; it was bare and iron-like stone,
crusted, round all the coast as far as high-water mark, with limpet and
still smaller shells.  We ascended wrinkled hills of black stone, and
descended into worn and dismal dells of the same; into some of which,
where the tide got entrance, it came pouring and roaring in raging
whiteness, and churning the loose fragments of whinstone into round
pebbles, and piling them up in deep crevices with seaweeds, like great
round ropes and heaps of fucus.  Over our heads screamed hundreds of
hovering birds, the gull mingling its hideous laughter most wildly."

One wild and stormy night in September 1838--such a night as induces
those on land to draw closer round the fire, and offer up, perchance, a
silent prayer for those who are at sea--a steamer was battling, at
disadvantage with the billows, off Saint Abb's Head.  She was the
_Forfarshire_, a steamer of three hundred tons, under command of Mr
John Humble; and had started from Hull for Dundee with a valuable cargo,
a crew of twenty-one men, and forty-one passengers.

It was a fearful night.  The storm raged furiously, and would have tried
the qualities of even a stout vessel; but this one was in very bad
repair, and her boilers were in such a state that the engines soon
became entirely useless, and at last they ceased to work.  We cannot
conceive the danger of a steamer left thus comparatively helpless in a
furious storm and dark night off a dangerous coast.

In a short time the vessel became quite unmanageable, and drifted with
the direction of the tide, no one knew whither.  Soon the terrible cry
arose, "Breakers to leeward," and immediately after the Farne lights
became visible.  A despairing attempt was now made by the captain to run
the ship between the islands and the mainland; but in this he failed,
and about three o'clock she struck heavily on a rock bow foremost.

The scene of consternation that followed is indescribable.  Immediately
one of the boats was lowered, and with a freight of terror-stricken
people pushed off, but not before one or two persons had fallen into the
sea and perished in their vain attempts to get into it.  This party in
the boat, nine in number, survived the storm of that awful night, and
were picked up the following morning by a Montrose sloop.  Of those left
in the ill-fated ship some remained in the after-part; a few stationed
themselves near the bow, thinking it the safest spot.  The captain stood
helpless, his wife clinging to him, while several other females gave
vent to their agony of despair in fearful cries.

Meanwhile the waves dashed the vessel again and again on the rock, and
at last a larger billow than the rest lifted her up and let her fall
down upon its sharp edge.  The effect was tremendous and instantaneous;
the vessel was literally broken in two pieces, and the after-part, with
the greater number of the passengers in the cabin, was swept away
through the Fifa Gut, a tremendous current which is considered dangerous
even in good weather.  Among those who thus perished were the captain
and his wife.  The forepart of the steamer, with the few who had happily
taken refuge upon it, remained fast on the rock.  Here eight or nine of
the passengers and crew clung to the windlass, and a woman named Sarah
Dawson, with her two little children, lay huddled together in a corner
of the fore-cabin, exposed to the fury of winds and waves all the
remainder of that dreadful night.  For hours each returning wave carried
a thrill of terror to their hearts; for the shattered wreck reeled
before every shock, and it seemed as if it would certainly be swept away
into the churning foam before daybreak.

But daylight came at last, and the survivors on the wreck began to sweep
the dim horizon with straining eyeballs as a faint hope at last began to
arise in their bosoms.  Nor were these trembling hopes doomed to
disappointment.  At the eleventh hour God in his mercy sent
deliverance. Through the glimmering dawn and the driving spray the
lighthouse-keeper's daughter from the lonely watch-tower descried the
wreck, which was about a mile distant from the Longstone.  From the
mainland, too, they were observed; and crowds of people lined the shore
and gazed upon the distant speck, to which, by the aid of telescopes,
the survivors were seen clinging with the tenacity of despair.

But no boat could live in that raging sea, which still lashed madly
against the riven rocks, although the violence of the storm had begun to
abate.  An offer of 5 pounds by the steward of Bamborough Castle failed
to tempt a crew of men to launch their boat.  One daring heart and
willing hand was there, however.  Grace Darling, fired with an intense
desire to save the perishing ones, urged her father to launch their
little boat.  At first he held back.  There was no one at the lighthouse
except himself, his wife, and his daughter.  What could such a crew do
in a little open boat in so wild a sea?  He knew the extreme peril they
should encounter better than his daughter, and very naturally hesitated
to run so great a risk.  For, besides the danger of swamping, and the
comparatively weak arm of an inexperienced woman at the oar, the passage
from the Longstone to the wreck could only be accomplished with the
ebb-tide; so that unless the exhausted survivors should prove to be able
to lend their aid, they could not pull back again to the lighthouse.

But the earnest importunities of the heroic girl were not to be
resisted.  Her father at last consented, and the little boat pushed off
with the man and the young woman for its crew.  It may be imagined with
what a thrill of joy and hope the people on the wreck beheld the boat
dancing an the crested waves towards them; and how great must have been
the surprise that mingled with their other feelings on observing that
one of the rowers was a woman!

They gained the rock in safety; but here their danger was increased
ten-fold, and it was only by the exertion of great muscular power,
coupled with resolute courage, that they prevented the boat being dashed
to pieces against the rock.

One by one the sufferers were got into the boat.  Sarah Dawson was found
lying in the fore-cabin with a spark of life still trembling in her
bosom, and she still clasped her two little ones in her arms, but the
spirits of both had fled to Him who gave them.  With great difficulty
the boat was rowed back to the Longstone, and the rescued crew landed in
safety.  Here, owing to the violence of the sea, they were detained for
nearly three days, along with a boat's crew which had put off to their
relief from North Sunderland; and it required some ingenuity to
accommodate so large a party within the narrow limits of a lighthouse.
Grace gave up her bed to poor Mrs Dawson; most of the others rested as
they best could upon the floor.

The romantic circumstances of this rescue, the isolated position of the
girl, her youth and modesty, and the self-devoting heroism displayed
upon this occasion, thrilled through the length and breadth of the
country like an electric shock, and the name of Grace Darling became for
the time as well known as that of the greatest in the land, while the
lonely lighthouse on the Longstone became a point of attraction to
thousands of warm admirers, among whom were many of the rich and the
noble.  Letters and gifts flowed in upon Grace Darling continually.  The
public seemed unable to do enough to testify their regard.  The Duke of
Northumberland invited her over to Alnwick Castle, and presented her
with a gold watch.  A public subscription, to the amount of 700 pounds,
was raised for her.  The Humane Society presented her with a handsome
silver tea-pot and a vote of thanks for her courage and humanity.
Portraits of her were sold in the print-shops all over the land; and the
enthusiasm, which at first was the natural impulse of admiration for one
who had performed a noble and heroic deed, at last rose to a species of
mania, in the heat of which not a few absurdities were perpetrated.

Among others, several of the proprietors of the metropolitan theatres
offered her a large sum nightly on condition that she would appear on
the stage, merely to sit in a boat during the performance of a piece
illustrative of the incident of which she was the heroine!  As might
have been expected of one whose spirit was truly noble, she promptly
declined all such offers.  God seems to have put his arm tenderly round
Grace Darling, and afforded her special strength to resist the severe
temptations to which she was exposed.

All proposals to better her condition were rejected, and she returned to
her home on the island rock, where she remained with her father and
mother till within a few months of her death.  The fell destroyer, alas!
claimed her while yet in the bloom of womanhood.  She died of
consumption on the 20th of October 1842, leaving an example of
self-devoting courage in the hour of danger, and self-denying heroism in
the hour of temptation, that may well be admired and imitated by those
whose duty it is to man the lifeboat and launch to the rescue on the
stormy waves, in all time to come.


A lifeboat--that is to say, the lifeboat of the present time--differs
from all other boats in four particulars.  It is _almost_
indestructible; it is insubmergible; it is self-righting; it is
self-emptying.  In other words, it can hardly be destroyed; it cannot be
sunk; it rights itself if upset; it empties itself if filled.

The first of these qualities is due to the unusual strength of the
lifeboat, not only in reference to the excellence of the materials with
which it is made, but also to the manner in which the planks are laid
on.  These cross one another in a diagonal manner, which cannot be
easily described or explained to ordinary readers; but it is sufficient
to say that the method has the effect of binding the entire boat
together in a way that renders it much stronger than any other species
of craft.  The second quality--that of insubmergibility--is due to
air-chambers fixed round the sides of the boat, under the seats, and at
the bow and stern.  These air-cases are sufficiently buoyant to float
the boat even if she were filled to overflowing with water and crowded
to her utmost capacity with human beings.  In short, to use an
expression which may appear paradoxical, she can carry more than she can
hold--has floating power sufficient to support more than can be got into
her.  The third--her self-righting quality--is also due to air-chambers,
in connection with a heavy keel.  There are two large and prominent
air-cases in the lifeboat--one in the bow, the other in the stern.
These rise considerably above the gunwale, insomuch that when the boat
is turned upside-down it rests upon them as upon two pivots.  Of course
it cannot remain stationary on them for a moment, but must necessarily
fall over to the one side or the other.  This is the first motion in
self-righting; then the heavy keel comes into play, and pulls the boat
quite round.  Being full of water, the lifeboat would be comparatively
useless but for its fourth quality--that of self-emptying.  This is
accomplished by means of six large holes which run through the floor and
bottom of the boat.  The floor referred to is air-tight, and is so
placed that when fully manned and loaded with passengers it is a _very
little above the level of the sea_.  On this fact the acting of the
principle depends.  Between the floor and the bottom of the boat--a
space of upwards of a foot in depth--there is some light ballast of cork
or of wood, and some parts of the space are left empty.  The six holes
above-mentioned are tubes of six inches in diameter, which extend from
the floor through the bottom of the boat.  Now, it is one of nature's
laws that water must find its level.  For instance, take any boat and
bore large holes in its bottom, and suppose it to be supported in its
_ordinary_ floating position, so that it cannot sink even though water
runs freely into it through the holes.  Then fill it suddenly quite full
of water.  Of course the water inside will be considerably above the
level of the water outside, but it will continue to run out at the holes
until it is exactly on a level with the water outside.  Now, water
poured into a lifeboat acts exactly in the same way; but when it has
reached the level of the water outside _it has also reached the floor_,
so that there is no more water to run out.

Such are the principal qualities of the splendid lifeboat now used on
our coasts, and of which it may be said that it has reached a state of
almost absolute perfection.

The accompanying sections of the lifeboat exhibit the position of the
air-cases and discharging tubes.  In Figure 1 the _shaded_ parts give a
side view of the air-cases.  The line A A indicates the deck or floor,
which lies a _little_ above the level of the water when the boat is
loaded; B B is the water-tight space containing ballast; C C C are three
of the six discharging holes or tubes; the dotted line D D shows the
level of the sea.  Figure 2 gives a bird's-eye view of the boat.  The
shaded parts indicate the air-cases; and the position of the six
discharging tubes is more clearly shown than in Figure 1.  There are
three covered openings in the floor, which permit of a free circulation
of air when the boat is not in use, and in one of these is a small pump
to clear the ballast-space of leakage.  It will be observed that the
boat draws little water; in fact, there is much more of her above than
below water, and she is dependent for stability on her great breadth of
beam and her heavy keel.

These four qualities in the lifeboat are illustrated every year by many
thrilling incidents of wreck and rescue.  Let us glance at a few of
these.  First, then, as to the _almost_ indestructible quality.  Take
the following evidence:--

On a terrible night in the year 1857 a Portuguese brig struck on the
Goodwin Sands, not far from the lightship that marks the northern
extremity of those fatal shoals.  A shot was fired, and a rocket sent up
from the lightship as a signal to the men on shore that a vessel had got
upon the sands.  No second signal was needed.  Anxious eyes had been on
the watch that night.  Instantly the Ramsgate men jumped into their
lifeboat, which lay alongside the pier.  It was deadly work that had to
be done,--the gale was one of the fiercest of the season,--nevertheless
the gallant men were so eager to get into the boat that it was
overmanned, and the last two who jumped in were obliged to go ashore.  A
small but powerful steamer is kept to attend upon this boat.  In a few
minutes it took her in tow and made for the mouth of the harbour.

They staggered out right in the teeth of tide and tempest, and ploughed
their way through a heavy cross-sea that swept again and again over
them, until they reached the edge of the Goodwins.  Here the steamer
cast off the boat, and waited for her, while she dashed into the surf
and bore the brunt of the battle alone.

With difficulty the brig was found in the darkness.  The lifeboat cast
anchor when within about forty fathoms, and veered down under her lee.
At first they were in hopes of getting the vessel off, and hours were
spent in vain endeavours to do this.  But the storm increased in fury;
the brig began to break up; she rolled from side to side, and the yards
swung wildly in the air.  A blow from one of these yards would have
stove the boat in, so the Portuguese crew--twelve men and a boy--were
taken from the wreck, and the boatmen endeavoured to push off.  All this
time the boat had been floating in a basin worked in the sand by the
motion of the wreck; but the tide had been falling, and when they tried
to pull up to their anchor the boat struck heavily on the edge of this
basin.  The men worked to get off the shoals as only those can work
whose lives depend on their efforts.  They succeeded in getting afloat
for a moment, but again struck and remained fast.  Meanwhile the brig
was lifted by each wave and let fall with a thundering crash; her
timbers began to snap like pipe-stems, and as she worked nearer and
nearer, it became evident that destruction was not far off.  The heavy
seas caused by the increasing storm flew over the lifeboat, so that
those in her could only hold on to the thwarts for their lives.  At last
the brig came so near that there was a stir among the men; they were
preparing for the last struggle--some of them intending to leap into the
rigging of the wreck and take their chance; but the coxswain shouted,
"Stick to the boat, boys! stick to the boat!" and the men obeyed.

At that moment the boat lifted a little on the surf, and grounded again.
New hope was infused by this.

The men pulled at the hawser, and shoved might and main with the oars.
They succeeded in getting out of immediate danger, but still could not
pull up to the anchor in teeth of wind and tide.  The coxswain then saw
plainly that there was but one resource left--to cut the cable and drive
right across the Goodwin Sands.  But there was not yet sufficient water
on the Sands to float them over; so they held on, intending to ride at
anchor until the tide, which had turned, should rise.  Very soon,
however, the anchor began to drag.  This compelled them to hoist sail,
cut the cable sooner than they had intended, and attempt to beat off the
Sands.  It was in vain.  A moment more, and they struck with tremendous
force.  A breaker came rolling towards them, filled the boat, caught her
up like a plaything on its crest, and, hurling her a few yards onwards,
let her fall again with a shock that well-nigh tore every man out of
her.  Each successive breaker treated her in this way.

Those who dwell by the sea-shore know well the familiar ripples that
mark the sands when the tide is out.  On the Goodwins these ripples are
gigantic steps, to be measured by feet, not by inches.  From one to
another of these banks this splendid boat was thrown.  Each roaring surf
caught it by the bow or stern, and, whirling it right round, sent it
crashing on the next ledge.  The Portuguese sailors appeared to give up
all hope, and clung to the thwarts in silent despair; but the crew--
eighteen in number--did not lose heart altogether.  They knew their boat
well, had often gone out to battle in her, and hoped that they might yet
be saved if she should only escape striking on the pieces of old wrecks
with which the Sands were strewn.

Thus, literally, yard by yard, with a succession of shocks that would
have knocked any ordinary boat to pieces, did that lifeboat drive during
_two_ hours over _two_ miles of the Goodwin Sands.  At last they drove
into deep water; the sails were set; and soon after, through God's
mercy, they landed the rescued crew in safety in Ramsgate Harbour.

What further evidence need we that the lifeboat is almost, if not
altogether, indestructible?

That the lifeboat is insubmergible has been proved to some extent by the
foregoing incident.  No better instance could be adduced to prove the
buoyancy of the life boat than that of the Tynemouth boat, named the
Constance, at the wreck of the _Stanley_, in the year 1864.  In this
case, while the boat was nearing the wreck, a billow broke over the bow
of the _Stanley_, and falling into the Constance, absolutely overwhelmed
her.  Referring to this, the coxswain of the lifeboat says: "The sea
fell over the bows of the Stanley and buried the lifeboat.  Every oar
was broken at the gunwale of the boat, and the outer ends swept away.
The men made a grasp for the spare oars; three were gone--two only
remained."  Now, it is to be observed that the coxswain here speaks of
the boat as being _buried, sunk_ by the waves, and _immediately_, as he
says, "the men made a grasp for the spare oars."  The sinking and
leaping to the surface seem to have been the work almost of the same
moment.  And this is indeed the case; for when the force that sinks a
lifeboat is removed, she rises that instant to the surface like a cork.

In order to prove the value of the self-righting quality, and the
superiority of those lifeboats which possess it over those which are
destitute of it, we will briefly cite three cases--the last of which
will also prove the value of the self-emptying quality.

On the 4th of January 1857, the Point of Ayr lifeboat, when under sail
in a gale, upset at a distance from land.  The accident was seen from
the shore; but no help could be rendered, and the whole boat's crew--
thirteen in number--were drowned.  Now, this was deemed a good lifeboat,
but it was not a self-righting one; and two of her crew were seen
clinging to the keel for twenty minutes, by which time they became
exhausted and were washed off.

Take another case of a non-self-righting boat.  In February 1858 the
Southwold lifeboat, a large sailing-boat, and esteemed one of the finest
in the kingdom, went out at the quarterly period of exercise in rough
weather, and was running before a heavy sea with all sail set when she
suddenly ran on the top of a wave, broached to, and upset.  The crew in
this case were fortunately near the land, had on their cork belts, and
were dragged ashore, though with difficulty; but three amateurs, who
were without belts, perished.

These two cases occurred in the day-time.

The third case happened at night--on a very dark stormy night in October
1858.  A wreck had been seen about three miles off Dungeness, and the
lifeboat at that place--a small self-righting and self-emptying one
belonging to the Royal National Lifeboat Institution--put off, with
eight stout men of the coast-guard for a crew.  On reaching the wreck,
soon after midnight, it was found that the crew had deserted her; the
lifeboat therefore returned towards the shore.  On nearing it she got
into a channel between two shoals, where she was caught up and struck by
three heavy seas in succession.  The coxswain lost command of the
rudder; she was carried away before the sea, broached to, and upset,
throwing her crew out of her.  Immediately she righted herself, cleared
herself of water, and the anchor, having fallen out, brought her up.
The crew, meanwhile, having on cork belts, floated, regained the boat,
clambered into it by means of the life-lines hung round her sides, cut
the cable, and returned to shore in safety.

So much for the nature and capabilities of our lifeboats.  We cannot
afford space to say more in regard to them than that they are the means,
under God, of saving many hundreds of human lives every year on the
coasts of the United Kingdom, besides a large amount of shipping and
property, which, but for them, would inevitably be lost.  The noble
Institution which manages them was founded in 1824, and is supported
entirely by voluntary contributions.

Along with the lifeboat we may appropriately describe here another
species of vessel, which, if it does not directly rescue lives, at all
events prevents disaster by giving timely warning of danger.  We refer


These floating beacons are anchored in the immediate vicinity of the
numerous sand-banks which lie off the mouths of some of the principal
ports of the kingdom, especially in England, and on other parts of our
shores.  There are numerous floating lights around our coasts, marking
shoals on which lighthouses could not easily be erected.  Their
importance to shipping is inconceivably great.  The accompanying
illustration shows a vessel passing the lightship at the Nore.  The
impossibility of shipping getting safely into or out of the port of
London without the guiding aid of lightships, as well as of buoys and
beacons, may be made clear by a simple statement of the names of some of
the obstructions which lie in the mouth of the Thames.  There are the
_Knock_ Shoals, the East and West _Barrows_, the _John_, the _Sunk_, the
_Girdler_, and the _Long_ Sands, all lying like so many ground sharks
waiting to arrest and swallow up passing vessels, which, unfortunately,
they too often accomplish despite the numerous precautions taken to rob
them of their prey.  Most people know the appearance of buoys, but we
dare say few have seen a buoy or beacon resembling the one in our
engraving, which is a sort of cage, fastened to a buoy, with a bell
inside that rings by the action of the waves.  It must have been
something of this sort that was used at the famous "Bell Rock" in days
of yore.

Lightships are usually clumsy-looking, red-painted vessels, having one
strong mast amidships, with a ball at the top, about six feet in
diameter, made of light laths.  This ball is a very conspicuous object,
and clearly indicates a lightship to the passing vessel during the day.
At night a huge lantern traverses on, and is hoisted to nearly the top
of, the same mast.  It is lighted by a number of argand lamps with
powerful reflectors.  Some lightships have two masts, and some three,
with a ball and a lantern on each.  Some of these lanterns contain
fixed, others revolving lights--these differences being for the purpose
of indicating to seamen the particular light which they happen to be

Thus, the Goodwin Sands, which are upwards of ten miles in length, are
marked by three lightships.  The one on the north has three masts and
three _fixed_ lights.  The one on the south has two masts and two
_fixed_ lights.  The one that lies between the two--off Ramsgate, and
named the Gull--has one mast and one _revolving_ light.

The crew of a lightship consists of about nine or ten men, each of whom
does duty for two months on board, and one month on shore, taking their
turn by rotation; so that the number of men always on board is about
seven.  While on shore, they attend to the buoys, anchors, chain-cables,
and other stores of the Trinity House, which has charge of all the
lights, buoys, and beacons in England.  They also assist in laying down
new buoys and sinkers, and removing old ones, etcetera.

Lightships run considerable risk, for besides being exposed at all times
to all the storms that rage on our shores, they are sometimes run into
by ships in foggy weather.

The _Gull_ lightship, above referred to, occupies a peculiar and
interesting position.  Being in the very centre of all the shipping
which passes through the Downs, she has frequent narrow escapes, and has
several times been damaged by collisions.  The marvel is that,
considering her position, she does not oftener "come to grief."  She
also signals for the Ramsgate lifeboat, by means of guns and rockets,
when a ship is observed by her crew to have got upon the dreaded Goodwin

We had the pleasure of spending a week on board of the _Gull_ lightship
not long ago, and one night witnessed a very stirring scene of calling
out the lifeboat.  We shall conclude this subject by quoting the
following letter, which we wrote at the time, giving a detailed account
of it.

                                               RAMSGATE, MARCH 26, 1870.
The eye-witness of a battle from an unusual point of view may, without
presumption, believe that he has something interesting to tell.  I
therefore send you an account of what I saw in the _Gull_ lightship, off
the Goodwin Sands, on the night of Thursday last, when the _Germania_,
of Bremen, was wrecked on the South-Sand-Head.  Having been an
inhabitant of the _Gull_ lightship for a week, and cut off from
communication with the shore for several days, I have been unable to
write sooner.

Our never-ending warfare with the storm is well known.  Here is one
specimen of the manner in which it is carried on.

A little before midnight on Thursday last (the 24th), while I was
rolling uneasily in my "bunk," contending with sleep and sea-sickness,
and moralising on the madness of those who choose "the sea" for a
profession, I was roused--and sickness instantly cured--by the watch on
deck suddenly shouting down the hatchway to the mate, "_South-Sand-Head_
light is firing, sir, and sending up rockets."  The mate sprang from his
"bunk," and was on the cabin floor before the sentence was well
finished.  I followed suit, and pulled on coat, nether garments, and
shoes, as if my life depended on my own speed.  There was unusual need
for clothing, for the night was bitterly cold.  A coat of ice had formed
even on the salt-water spray which had blown into the boats.  On gaining
the deck, we found the two men on duty actively at work, the one loading
the lee gun, the other adjusting a rocket to its stick.  A few hurried
questions from the mate elicited all that it was needful to know.  The
flash of a gun from the _South-Sand-Head_ lightship, about six miles
distant, had been seen, followed by a rocket, indicating that a vessel
had got upon the fatal Goodwins.  While the men spoke, I saw the bright
flash of another gun, but heard no report, owing to the gale carrying
the sound to leeward.  A rocket followed, and at the same moment we
observed the light of the vessel in distress just on the southern tail
of the Sands.  By this time our gun was charged, and the rocket in
position.  "Look alive, Jack! get the poker," cried the mate, as he
primed the gun.  Jack dived down the companion hatch, and in another
moment returned with a red-hot poker, which the mate had thrust into the
cabin fire at the first alarm.  Jack applied it in quick succession to
the gun and the rocket.  A blinding flash and deafening crash were
followed by the whiz of the rocket as it sprang with a magnificent curve
far away into the surrounding darkness.  This was our answer to the
_South-Sand-Head_ light, which, having fired three guns and three
rockets to attract our attention, now ceased firing.  It was also our
note of warning to the look-out on the pier of Ramsgate Harbour.
"That's a beauty," said our mate, referring to the rocket; "get up
another, Jack; sponge her well out.  Jacobs, we'll give 'em another shot
in a few minutes."  Loud and clear were both our signals; but four and a
half miles of distance and a fresh gale neutralised their influence.
The look-out did not see them.  In less than five minutes the gun and
rocket were fired again.  Still no answering signal came from Ramsgate.
"Load the weather gun," said the mate.  Jacobs obeyed; and I sought
shelter under the lee of the weather bulwarks, for the wind appeared to
be composed of pen-knives and needles.  Our third gun thundered forth,
and shook the lightship from stem to stern; but the rocket struck the
rigging, and made a low, wavering flight.  Another was therefore sent
up; but it had scarcely cut its bright line across the sky, when we
observed the answering signal--a rocket from Ramsgate Pier.

"That's all right now, sir; our work is done," said the mate, as he went
below, and, divesting himself of his outer garments, quietly turned in;
while the watch, having sponged out and re-covered the gun, resumed
their active perambulation of the deck.  I confess that I felt somewhat
disappointed at this sudden termination of the noise and excitement.  I
was told that the Ramsgate lifeboat could not well be out in less than
an hour.  It seemed to my excited spirit a terrible thing that human
lives should be kept so long in jeopardy; and, of course, I began to
think, "Is it not possible to prevent this delay?"  But excited spirits
are not always the best judges of such matters, although they have an
irresistible tendency to judge.  There was nothing for it, however, but
patience; so I turned in, "all standing," as sailors have it, with
orders that I should be called when the lights of the tug should come in
sight.  It seemed but a few minutes after, when the voice of the watch
was again heard shouting hastily, "Lifeboat close alongside, sir.
Didn't see it till this moment.  She carries no lights."  I bounced out,
and, minus coat, hat, and shoes, scrambled on deck, just in time to see
the _Broadstairs_ lifeboat rush past us before the gale.  She was close
under our stern, and rendered spectrally visible by the light of our
lantern.  "What are you firing for?" shouted the coxswain of the boat.
"Ship on the sands, bearing south," replied Jack at the full pitch of
his stentorian voice.  The boat did not pause.  It passed with a
magnificent rush into darkness.  The reply had been heard; and the
lifeboat shot straight as an arrow to the rescue.  We often hear and
read of such scenes, but vision is necessary to enable one to realise
the full import of all that goes on.  A strange thrill ran through me as
I saw the familiar blue and white boat leaping over the foaming billows.
Often had I seen it in model, and in quiescence in its boat-house--
ponderous and ungainly; but now I saw it, for the first time, endued
with life.  So, I fancy, warriors might speak of our heavy cavalry as we
see them in barracks, and as _they_ saw them at Alma.  Again all was
silent and unexciting on board of the _Gull_.  I went shivering below,
with exalted notions of the courage and endurance of lifeboat men.  Soon
after, the watch once more shouted, "Tug's in sight, sir;" and once
again the mate and I went on deck.  On this occasion, the tug _Aid_ had
made a mistake.  Some one on shore had reported that the guns and
rockets had been seen flashing from the _Gull_ and _North-Sand-Head_
lightships; whereas the report should have been, from the _Gull_ and
_South-Sand-Head_ vessels.  The single word was all-important.  It
involved an unnecessary run of about twelve miles, and an hour and a
half's loss of time.  But we mention this merely as a fact, not as a
complaint.  Accidents will happen.  The Ramsgate lifeboat service is
admirably regulated, and for once that an error of this kind can be
pointed out, we can point to dozens--ay, hundreds--of cases in which the
steamer and lifeboat have gone straight as the crow flies to the rescue,
and have done good service on occasions when all other lifeboats would
have failed, so great is the value of steam in such matters.  On this
occasion, however, the tug appeared late on the scene, and hailed us.
When the true state of the case was ascertained, the course was directed
aright, and full steam let on.  The Ramsgate lifeboat, _Bradford_, was
in tow far astern.  As she passed us the brief questions and answers
were repeated for the benefit of the coxswain of the boat.  I observed
that every man in the boat lay flat on the thwarts except the coxswain.
No wonder.  It is not an easy matter to sit up in a gale of wind, with
freezing spray, and sometimes green seas, sweeping over one.  They were,
doubtless, wide awake, and listening; but, as far as vision went, that
boat was manned with ten oilskin coats and sou'-westers.  A few seconds
took them out of sight; and thus, as far as the _Gull_ lightship was
concerned, the drama ended.  There was no possibility of our
ascertaining more, at least during that night; for whatever might be the
result of these efforts, the floating lights had no chance of hearing of
them until the next visit of their tender.  I was therefore obliged to
turn in once more, at three a.m.  Next forenoon we saw the wreck, bottom
up, high on the Goodwin Sands.

On Friday morning, the _Alert_--tender to the lightships of this
district, under command of the Trinity Superintendent, Captain Vaile--
came off to us, and we learned the name of the vessel, that she was a
total wreck, and that the crew, seven men, had taken to their boat, and
succeeded in reaching the _South-Sand-Head_ lightship, whence they were
almost immediately after taken by the Deal lifeboat, and safely landed
at Deal.

It is to be carefully observed here that, although in this case much
energy was expended unnecessarily, it does not follow that it is often
so expended.  Often--too often--all the force of lifeboat service on
this coast is insufficient to meet the demands on it.  The crews of the
various boats in the vicinity of the Goodwin Sands are frequently called
out more than once in a night; and they are sometimes out all night,
visiting various wrecks in succession.  In all this work the value of
the steam-tug is very conspicuous.  For it can tow its boat again and
again to windward, and renew the effort to save life in cases where,
unaided, lifeboats would be compelled to give in.  Embarking in the
_Alert_, I sailed round the wreck at low water, and observed that the
Deal luggers were swarming round her like flies; the crews stripping her
bottom of copper, and saving her stores, while, apparently, hundreds of
men were busy upon her deck dismantling her shattered hull.

This, after all, is but an insignificant episode of wreck on the
Goodwins.  Many wrecks there are every year much more worthy of record;
but this is sufficient to give a general idea of the manner in which our
great war with the storm is conducted--the promptitude with which relief
is rendered, and the energy with which our brave seamen are ready to
imperil their lives almost every night, all round the coast, and all the
year round.



Having in the previous chapters treated of the subjects of ancient
navigation and ships, and given some account of the boats of the present
time, we now proceed to write about modern ships.  In doing so, let us
turn our attention first to:--


If we were a maker of riddles, we would ask our reader, "Why is a ship
like a human being?" and having added, "D'ye give it up?" would reply,
"Because it commences life in a cradle;" but not being a fabricator of
riddles, we _don't_ ask our reader that question.  We merely draw his
attention to the fact that ships, like men, have not only an infancy,
but also have cradles--of which more hereafter.

Let us enter one of those naval nurseries--the dockyard--where ships may
be seen commencing their career.  What a scene it is!  What sawing and
thumping, and filing, and grinding, and clinching, and hammering,
without intermission, from morn till noon, and from noon till dewy eve!
What a Babel of sounds and chaos of indescribable material!

That little boy whom you observe standing under the shadow of yonder
hull--his hands in his pockets (of course), his mouth open (probably),
and his eyes gazing up fixedly at the workmen, who cluster like bees on
the ribs and timbers of yonder infant ship has stood there for more than
an hour, and he will stand there, or thereabout, for many hours to come;
for it happens to be a holiday with him, and he dotes on harbours and
dockyards.  His whole being is wrapped up in them.

And this is natural enough.  Most boys delight to gaze on
incomprehensible and stupendous works.  Let us--you and I, reader--
follow this urchin's example, keeping our mouths shut, however, save
when we mean to speak, and our eyes open.

There are ships here of every shape and size--from the little
coasting-vessel to the great East Indiaman, which, in its unfinished
condition, looks like the skeleton of some dire megatherium of the
antediluvian world.  Some of these infant ships have an enormous shed
over them to protect them from the weather; others are destitute of such
protection: for ships, like men, it would seem, are liable to
vicissitudes of fortune.  While the "great ones" of the dockyard world
are comfortably housed, the small ones are not unfrequently exposed to
the fitful buffeting of the rude elements even from their birth.

There are ships here, too, in every state of progression.  There, just
beside you, is a "little one" that was born yesterday.  The keel has
just been laid on the blocks; and it will take many a long day of
clinching and sawing and hammering ere that infant assumes the bristling
appearance of an antediluvian skeleton.  Yonder is the hull of a ship
almost completed.  It is a gigantic infant, and has the aspect of a very
thriving child.  It evidently has a robust constitution and a sturdy
frame.  Perhaps we may re-visit the dockyard to-morrow, and see this
vessel launched.

Besides these two, there are ships with their ribs partially up, and
ships with their planking partially on; and in a more distant part of
the yard there are one or two old ships hauled up, high and dry, to have
their bottoms repaired and their seams re-pitched, after many a rough
and bravely-fought battle with the ocean waves.

Now that we have gazed our fill at the general aspect of the dockyard,
let us descend a little more to particulars.  We shall first tell of


There are two kinds of docks--dry and wet.  A dry-dock is usually
constructed with gates, to admit or shut out the tide.  When a ship
arrives from a long voyage, and needs repair to the lower part of her
hull, she must be got out of the water somehow or other.

This object is frequently attained in regard to small vessels by simply
running them gently on the flat sand or mud beach of a bay or harbour,
so that, when the tide retires, they shall be left dry.  But it would be
dangerous as well as inconvenient to do this with large ships, therefore
dry-docks have been constructed for this purpose.  They are so built
that when the tide is full the dry-docks are also full.  When thus full
of water, the gates of a dry-dock are opened, and the large ship is
dragged slowly in, after which the gates are shut.  The tide then
retires, leaving it in this basin of water.  The ship is then propped up
on all sides with timbers, in such a way that she stands upright, "upon
an even keel," and thus, the pressure on her hull being equally
distributed, she is not damaged.  Then the water is let out by means of
sluices in the gates, or it is pumped out, and the ship left dry.  When
the tide returns, the gates and sluices are all shut, and its entrance
into the dock prevented, until such time as the ship is repaired, when
water is let slowly in.  As the vessel floats, the props and supports
fall away, the gates of her hospital are opened, and off she goes again,
in all the vigour of recruited health, to wing her way over the billows
of the great deep.

A wet-dock is somewhat similar to a dry-dock, the chief difference being
that ships while in it are kept floating in water.

Docks are not only used, however, for repairing and building ships.
They are also used for loading and unloading them; and as ships are
entering and departing from them almost constantly, the busy, bustling,
active scene they present is always agreeable.

The principal docks in the United Kingdom are as follows:--

DOCKS ON THE THAMES--namely, East and West India Docks, London Docks,
Saint Katherine's Docks, Commercial Docks, Victoria Docks.








So much for docks in passing.  Let us now turn our attention to the
process of:--


As we think it highly improbable that any of our readers intend to
become either ship-carpenters or ship-architects, we will not worry them
with technical explanations.  To give an easily understood and general
idea of the manner of building a ship is all we shall attempt.  The
names of those parts only that are frequently or occasionally referred
to in general literature shall be given.

The term _ship_ is employed in two significations.  In familiar language
it denotes any large or small vessel that navigates the ocean with
sails.  In nautical language it refers solely to a vessel having three
masts, each consisting of a lower-mast, a top-mast, and a
top-gallant-mast.  At present we use the term _ship_ in the familiar

Elaborate and complicated drawings having been prepared, the shipbuilder
begins his work.

The _keel_ is the first part of a ship that is laid.  It is the beam
which runs along the bottom of a boat or ship from one end to the other.
In large ships the keel consists of several pieces joined together.
Its uses are, to cause the ship to preserve a direct course in its
passage through the water; to check the leeway which every vessel has a
tendency to make; and to moderate the rolling motion.  The keel is also
the ground-work, or foundation, on which the whole superstructure is
reared, and is, therefore, immensely strong and solid.  The best wood
for keels is teak, as it is not liable to split.

Having laid the keel firmly on a bed of wooden blocks, in such a
position that the ship when finished may slide into the water stern
foremost, the shipbuilder proceeds next to erect the stem and stern

The _stem-post_ rises from the _front_ end of the keel, not quite
perpendicularly from it, but sloping a little outwards.  It is formed of
one or more pieces of wood, according to the size of the ship; but no
matter how many pieces may be used, it is always a uniform single beam
in appearance.  To this the ends of the planks of the ship are
afterwards fastened.  Its outer edge is called the _cut-water_, and the
part of the ship around it is named the _bow_.

The _stern-post_ rises from the opposite end of the keel, and also
slopes a little outwards.  To it are fastened the ends of the planking
and the framework of the stern part of the ship.  To it also is attached
that little but most important part of a vessel, the _rudder_.  The
rudder, or helm, is a small piece of timber extending along the back of
the stern-post, and hung movably upon it by means of what may be called
large iron hooks-and-eyes.  By means of the rudder the mariner guides
the ship in whatever direction he pleases.  The contrast between the
insignificant size of the rudder and its immense importance is very
striking.  Its power over the ship is thus referred to in
Scripture,--"Behold also the ships, which, though they be so great, and
are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small
helm, whithersoever the governor listeth."  The rudder is moved from
side to side by a huge handle or lever on deck, called the _tiller_; but
as in large ships the rudder is difficult to move by so simple a
contrivance, several ropes or chains and pulleys are attached to it, and
connected with the drum of a _wheel_, at which the steersman stands.  In
the largest ships two, and in rough weather four men are often stationed
at the wheel.

The _ribs_ of the ship next rise to view.  These are curved wooden
beams, which rise on each side of the keel, and are bolted firmly to it.
They serve the same purpose to a ship that bones do to the human
frame--they support and give strength to it as well as form.

The _planks_ follow the ribs.  These are broad, and vary in thickness
from two to four inches.  They form the outer skin of the ship, and are
fastened to the ribs, keel, stem-post, and stern-post by means of
innumerable pins of wood or iron, called _tree-nails_.  The spaces
between the planks are caulked--that is, _stuffed_ with oakum; which
substance is simply the untwisted tow of old and tarry ropes.  A
figure-head of some ornamental kind having been placed on the top and
front of the stem-post, just above the cutwater, and a flat, ornamental
stern, with windows in it to light the cabin, the hull of our ship is
complete.  But the interior arrangements have yet to be described,
although, of course, they have been progressing at the same time with
the rest.

The _beams_ of a ship are massive wooden timbers, which extend across
from side to side in a series of tiers.  They serve the purpose of
binding the sides together, of preventing them from collapsing, and of
supporting the decks, as well as of giving compactness and great
strength to the whole structure.

The _decks_ are simply plank floors nailed to the beams, and serve very
much the same purposes as the floors of a house.  They also help to
strengthen the ship longitudinally.  All ships have at least one
complete deck; most have two, with a half-deck at the stern, called the
_quarter-deck_, and another at the bow, called the _forecastle_.  But
the decks of large ships are still more numerous.  Those of a first-rate
man-of-war are as follows--we begin with the lowest, which is
considerably under the surface of the sea:--

The Orlop-deck, the Gun-deck, the Middle-deck, the Upper-deck, the
Quarter-deck, and the Poop--the latter deck being the highest deck of
all, a very small one, at the stern.

Thus a man-of-war is a floating house with six stories--the poop being
the garret, and the orlop-deck the cellars.  The upper decks are lighted
by sky-lights; those farther down by port-holes (or gun-holes) and
windows; the lowest of all by candles or lamps, daylight being for ever
banished from those gloomy submarine regions!

The _bulwarks_ rise above the upper-deck, all round the ship, and serve
the purposes of protecting the upper-deck from the waves, and supporting
the _belaying-pins_, to which the ropes are fastened.  In ships of war
the top of the bulwarks forms a sort of trough all round the ship, in
which the hammocks (the swinging-beds) of the men are stowed away every
morning.  This trough is termed the _hammock-nettings_, and the hammocks
are placed there to be well aired.  In action the bulwarks serve to
protect the crew from musketry.

The _wheel_, which has been already referred to, stands usually at the
stern of the ship, on the quarter-deck; but it is sometimes placed on an
elevated platform amid-ships, so that the steersman may see more clearly
where he is going.

The _binnacle_ stands directly in front of the wheel.  It is a species
of box, firmly fixed to the deck, in which is placed the compass.  It is
completely covered in, having a glass window, through which the man at
the wheel can observe the course he is steering.

The _capstan_ stands on the main-deck, sometimes near the centre of the
vessel, at other times near the bow or the stern.  It is a massive block
of timber moving on a pivot, which is turned round by wooden levers,
called capstan bars, or _hand-spikes_, and is used for any purpose that
requires great _tractive_ power--the drawing in of the cable, for
instance, or warping the ship; which means that a rope is fixed on
shore, or by an anchor to the bottom of the sea, and the other end of it
is coiled round the capstan, so that when the capstan is forced round by
the handspikes, the rope coils on to it, and the ship is slowly dragged

The _windlass_ is simply a horizontal, instead of a perpendicular
capstan.  Its sole purpose is for heaving up the anchor, and it is
placed close to the bow of the ship.

The _galley_, or cooking-house, is usually near to the windlass, in the
front part of the vessel.  Here the cook reigns supreme; but this
nautical kitchen is wonderfully small.  It is just big enough to hold
the fireplace and "coppers," with a small shelf, on which the cook
(always a man, and often a negro) performs the duties of his office.

The various decks below are partitioned off by means of plank walls,
which are called _bulk-heads_, into a variety of berths and apartments;
and the greater part of the centre of the vessel (in merchantmen) is
called the _hold_, and is reserved for cargo.

The _hull_ of the ship being finished, now gets a coat of tar all over
it, which preserves the wood from the action of the weather, and helps
to render the seams water-tight.  Some vessels are sheathed from the
keel to a short way above their water-line with thin sheets of copper,
to preserve them more effectually from tear and wear, and especially to
defend them against those barnacles and marine insects that would
otherwise fasten to them.

Being now ready to be launched from her cradle into the sea--her future
home--we will proceed in our next chapter to describe the process of



Ships begin life with a retrograde movement; they imitate the crabs: in
other words, they are launched stern foremost.  Whether great or small,
long or short, whether clothed in patrician copper or smeared with
plebeian tar, they all start on their first voyage with their
stern-posts acting the part of cut-water, and, also, without masts or
sails.  These necessary adjuncts, and a host of others, are added after
they have been clasped to the bosom of their native sea.  One notable
exception there is to this rule, the launch of the far-famed _Great
Eastern_, which monster of the deep was forced into her element
_sidewise_, of which a full account will be found in another part of
this volume.

The _cradles_ on which ships are launched are wooden frameworks, so
constructed as to slide down an inclined plane, called the _ways_,
bearing their burdens along with them into the water.  When a ship is
ready for launching, the _shores_, or supports, that have kept her so
long in position are knocked away one by one, until the entire weight of
the ship rests on the cradle.  The _ways_ are then well greased, and it
only remains to knock away one or two remaining checks to allow the
vessel to seek her future home by means of her own weight.

But before this last act is done, a day must be fixed for the launch;
friends of the owners must be invited to go on board during this her
first voyage; a fair maiden must be asked to go through the ceremony of
giving the ship her name; and paragraphs must go the round of the
newspapers.  As the hour draws near, crowds of human beings, young and
old, male and female, must hurry to the spot to witness the great event,
and hundreds of little boys must beg leave from school (if they can); in
short, a great stir must be made, and a great day must dawn, before the
last shores are knocked away, and the noble structure be permitted to
rush down that inclined plane, and for the first time cleave the waves.

And now, having shown how the launching of our ship is accomplished, let
us turn to consider the next step towards completion; for there is yet
much to be done ere she is able to brave the tempest.


Although fitting-in the lower-masts of a ship cannot well be deemed a
part of the rigging, we will nevertheless describe the operation here.

As the lower-masts of a large ship are from five to six feet in
circumference, it is manifest that some powerful mechanical contrivance
is required to raise them over the bulwarks, and put them in an upright
position, into their appointed places.  Such contrivances, in the form
of enormous cranes, are fixed in some of the larger docks; but the most
useful method is to have the masts put in by means of:

_The Shear Hulk_.  This is a strongly built hull of a ship, moored in a
part of a river or harbour that will afford depth of water to float
vessels of any size alongside.  It has one stout mast, with two immense
beams attached to it near the deck, and sloping outwards over the
bulwarks in such a way that their ends overhang the deck of the vessel
into which masts are to be placed.  These sloping beams are prevented
from falling overboard altogether, and their slope is regulated, by
blocks and tackles from the mast of the hulk.  By means of this
contrivance, which is just a gigantic floating crane, the ponderous
lower-masts of large ships are raised and lowered into their places.

When these are fixed, the rigging of the ship commences.  The method of
putting it up cannot prove interesting to general readers; not even to
boys, for when they take to rigging model ships, they do not require the
mechanical contrivances that are necessary in rigging large vessels.
But all readers of sea stories and nautical history will find it of the
utmost advantage to their clear understanding of what they read, to have
a general idea of the names and uses of the principal parts of a ship's

We shall, therefore, devote a small space to the explanation of this
subject.  And, first, let us examine the _Masts_.

These vary in size, form, and number in different ships, but in all they
serve the same purpose--to support the sails.  Lower masts of large
vessels are never formed out of one tree.  They are found to be stronger
when built up of several pieces, which are fastened together by strong
iron hoops.  Masts sometimes consist of three distinct parts.  The
_lower_-mast, _top_-mast, and _top-gallant_-mast.  In most large ships
there are three masts, each having three parts.  The centre mast, being
the largest, is the _main-mast_; the front one, which is next in size,
is the _fore-mast_; and the one next the stern, the smallest, is called
the _mizzen_.

Although we have spoken of _lower-masts_ for the sake of clearness, the
name is never used.  The name of the mast itself designates the lower
part of it.  To name the masts in order, we have the Fore-mast.
Main-mast.  Mizzen-mast.  Fore-top-mast.  Main-top-mast.
Mizzen-top-mast.  Fore-topgallant-mast.  Main-topgallant-mast.

The parts of the different masts are connected and secured by means of
_cross-trees_ and _caps_, which are named after the mast and part of the
mast to which they belong.  Thus we have the _fore-top_, the
_fore-top-mast cross-trees_, the _main-top_, and _main-top-mast
cross-trees_, etcetera.  Observe, particularly, that the _fore-top_,
_main-top_, and _mizzen-top_, are the platforms, or cross-trees, at the
tops of the _lower_-masts, and not--as might well be supposed by
landsmen--the extreme tops of these masts.  The button-like objects on
the summits of the masts are called the _trucks_; which, besides forming
a sort of finish to them, are fitted with small _pulleys_, through which
_signal-halyards_, or cords for hoisting the flags, are rove.

In first-rate men-of-war the _tops_ are so large that a number of men
can be stationed on them.  Besides their other purposes, they are very
frequently used as a place of punishment for the midshipmen, or
"middies" (the boy officers), who are often sent there to air
themselves, and profit, if they can, by calm reflection in exalted

_Shrouds_ and _stays_ are the thick ropes that keep the masts firmly in
position.  They form part of what is termed the "standing gear" of a
ship--in other words, the ropes that are fixtures--to distinguish them
from the "running gear"--those movable ropes, by means of which the
sails, boats, flags, etcetera, are hoisted.  Nearly all the ropes of a
ship are named after the mast, or yard, or sail with which they are
connected.  Thus we have the _main shrouds_, the _main-top-mast
shrouds_, and the _main-topgallant shrouds_; the _main back-stay_, the
_main-topgallant back-stay_, and so on--those of the other masts being
similarly named, with the exception of the first word, which, of course,
indicates the particular mast referred to.  The shrouds rise from the
_chains_, which are a series of blocks called "dead eyes," fixed to the
sides of the ship.  To these the shrouds are fixed, and also to the
masts near the tops; they serve the purpose of preventing the masts from
falling _sideways_.  Backstays prevent them from falling _forward_, and
_forestays_ prevent them from falling _backward_, or "aft."  Besides
this, shrouds have little cross ropes called _ratlines_ attached to
them, by means of which rope-ladders the sailors ascend and descend the
rigging to _furl_, that is, tie up, or _unfurl_, that is, to untie or
shake out, the sails.

Our cut represents a sailor-boy ascending the mizzen-top-mast shrouds.
He grasps the _shrouds_, and stands on the _ratlines_.

_Yards_ are the heavy wooden cross-poles or beams to which the sails are

_Reef-points_ are the little ropes which may be observed hanging in
successive rows on all sails, by means of which _parts_ of the sails are
gathered in and tied round the yards, thus reducing their size in stormy
weather.  Hence such nautical expressions as "taking in a reef," or a
"double reef," and "close reefing,"--which last implies that a sail is
to be reduced to its smallest possible dimensions.  The only further
reduction possible would be folding it up altogether, close to the yard,
which would be called "furling" it, and which would render it altogether
ineffective.  In order to furl or reef sails, the men have to ascend the
masts, and _lay-out_ upon the yards.  It is very dangerous work in
stormy weather.  Many a poor fellow, while reefing sails in a dark
tempestuous night, has been blown from the yard into the sea, and never
heard of more.  All the yards of a ship, except the three largest, can
be hoisted and lowered by means of _halyards_.  The top-gallant masts
can also be lowered, but the lower-masts, of course, are fixtures.

The _bowsprit_ of a ship is a mast which projects out horizontally, or
at an angle, from the bow.  It is sometimes in two or three pieces,
sometimes only in one.  To it are attached the _jib-sail_ and the
_flying-jib_, besides a variety of ropes and stays which are connected
with and support the fore-mast.

The _cat heads_ are two short beams which project from the bows on
either side, and support the ship's anchors.

_Miscellaneous_.--The openings in the decks are called _hatches_; the
stair-cases which descend to the cabins are called _companions_.  The
pulleys by which sails, etcetera, are hoisted, are named _blocks_.
_Braces_ are the ropes by which sails are fixed tightly in any position.
Hauling a rope _taut_, means hauling it tight.  The _weather_ side of a
ship means the side which happens to be presented to the wind; the _lee_
side, that which is away from the wind, and, therefore, sheltered.  The
_starboard_ side means the right side, the _larboard_ signifies the
left; but as the two words resemble each other, the word _port_ is
always used for larboard to prevent mistakes in shouting orders.
_Heaving the lead_ is the act of throwing a heavy leaden plummet, with a
line attached, into the sea to ascertain its depth.  It is thrown from
the _chains_ as far as possible ahead of the ship, so that it may reach
the bottom and be perpendicularly beneath the man who heaves it when the
ship comes up to the spot where it entered the water.  A peculiar and
musical cry is given forth by the heaver of the lead each time he throws
it.  The forecastle is the habitat of the ordinary sailors, and is
usually in nautical parlance termed the _foge-s'l_.

Most of what we have just described applies more or less to every ship;
but this will be seen in future chapters.  Meanwhile, we would seriously
recommend all those who have found this chapter a dry one to turn back
to the heading entitled "Rigging a Ship," and from that point read it
all over again with earnest attention.



The coasting-trade of the British Islands is replete with danger, yet it
is carried on with the utmost vigour; and there are always plenty of
"hands," as seamen are called when spoken of in connection with ships,
to man the vessels.  The traffic in which they are engaged is the
transporting of the goods peculiar to one part of our island, to another
part where they are in demand.

In describing these vessels, we shall begin with the smallest.


Like all other vessels, sloops vary in size, but none of them attain to
great magnitude.  As a class, they are the smallest decked vessels we
have.  From 40 to 100 tons burden is a very common size.  A sloop of 40
tons burden is what we ordinarily call a _little_ ship, and one of 100
tons is by no means a big one.  The hull of such a vessel being intended
exclusively to carry cargo, very little space is allowed for the crew.
The cabins of the smaller-sized sloops are seldom high enough to permit
of an ordinary man standing erect.  They are usually capable of
affording accommodation to two in the cabin, and three or four in the
forecastle,--and such accommodation is by no means ample.  The class to
which vessels belong is determined chiefly by the number of their masts
and by the arrangement and the form of their sails.

The distinctive peculiarity of the sloop is, that it has but one mast;
and its rig is, nautically speaking, _fore-and-aft_--that is to say, the
sails are spread with their surfaces parallel to the sides of the
vessel, _not_ stretched upon yards _across_ the vessel.  The term
"fore-and-aft" is derived from the _forward_ part and the _after_ part
of the ship.  _Fore-and-aft_ sails, then, are such as are spread upon
yards which point fore and aft, not across the ship.  We conceive this
elaborate explanation to be necessary for some readers, and, therefore,
don't apologise for making it.  A ship whose sails are spread across the
hull is said to be _square-rigged_.  Sometimes, however, a sloop carries
one and even two square sails.

The masts, yards, and sails of a sloop are as follows:--As has been
already said, one of the distinctive peculiarities of a sloop is, that
it has only _one_ mast.  This mast is sometimes formed of one _stick_,
sometimes of two; the second, or top-mast, being fastened to the top of
the lower mast by _cross-trees_ and _cap_, in such a way that it may be
hoisted or lowered at pleasure.  A sloop has usually four sails,--a
mainsail, fore-sail, gaff, and jib.  The _main-sail_ is behind the lower
mast.  It reaches from within a few feet of the deck to the top of the
lower mast, and spreads out upon two yards towards the stern or after
part of the ship, over which it projects a few feet.  The lower yard of
the main-sail is called the boom, and the upper the main-sail yard.
This is by far the largest sail in the sloop.  Above it is spread the
_gaff_, which is comparatively a small sail, and is used when the wind
is not very strong.  The _fore-sail_ is a triangular sheet, which
traverses on the _fore-stay_; that is, the strong rope which runs from
the lower mast-head to the bow, or front part of the sloop.  On the
bowsprit is stretched the _jib_, another triangular sail, which reaches
nearly to the top of the lower mast.  The only sail that rises above the
lower mast is the gaff.  In stormy weather this sail is always taken
down.  If the wind increases to a gale, the jib is lowered and lashed to
the bowsprit.

Should the gale increase, a reef is taken in the main-sail.  One, two,
three, and sometimes four reefs are taken in, according to the violence
of the storm; when the last reef is taken in, the sloop is under
_close-reefed_ main-sail.  Increased violence in the storm necessitates
the taking in of the main-sail and _lying-to_ under the fore-sail, or a
part of it.  Lying-to is putting the sloop's head to the wind, and
placing the helm in such a position that it tends to turn the vessel in
one direction, while the gale acting on the fore-sail tends to force it
in another, and thus it remains stationary between the two opposing
forces.  Many vessels thus _lie-to_, and ride out the severest storm.
Sometimes, however, a dreadful hurricane arises, and compels vessels to
take in all sails and "_scud under_ _bare poles_"--that is, _drive
before_ the wind without any sails at all; and it is at such seasons
that man is forced to feel his utter helplessness, and his absolute
dependence on the Almighty.  Of course, there are slight variations in
the rig of sloops--some have a _square-sail_, and some have a
_flying-jib_; but these are not distinctive sails, and they are seldom
used in small craft.

Doubtless, those of our readers who have dwelt on the sea-coast must
have observed that boats and vessels frequently sail in precisely
opposite directions, although acted upon by the same wind.  This
apparent paradox may be explained thus:--

Suppose a vessel with the bow and stern sharp and precisely alike, so
that it might sail backwards or forwards with equal facility.  Suppose,
also, that it has two masts exactly the same in all respects--one near
the bow, the other near the stern.  Suppose, further, a square sail
stretched between the two masts quite flat; and remember that this would
be a _fore-and-aft_ sail--namely, one extending along the length, not
across the breadth of the vessel.

Well, now, were a breeze to blow straight against the side of such a
vessel, it would either blow it over, flat on its side, or urge it
slowly _sideways_ over the water, after the fashion of a crab.  Now
remove one of these masts--say the stern one--and erect it close to the
lee-side of the vessel (that is, away from the windward-side), still
keeping the sail extended.  The immediate effect would be that the sail
would no longer present itself _flatly_ against the wind, but
diagonally.  The wind, therefore, after dashing against it would slide
violently off in the direction of the mast that had been removed, that
is, towards the stern.  In doing so it would, of course, give the vessel
a shove in the opposite direction; on the very same principle that a
boy, when he jumps violently off a chair, not only sends his body in one
direction, but sends the chair in the opposite direction.  So, when the
wind jumps off the sail towards the stern, it sends the ship in the
opposite direction--namely, forward.  Reverse this; bring back the mast
you removed to its old place in the centre of the deck, and shift the
_front_ mast near to the lee-bulwarks.  The wind will now slide off the
sail towards the _bow_, and force our vessel in the opposite direction--
namely, backward; so that, with the same side wind, two ships may sail
in exactly opposite directions.

By means of the rudder, and placing the sails in various positions, so
as to cause them to press against the masts in a particular manner,
vessels can be made to sail not only with a side wind, but with a breeze
blowing a good deal _against_ them--in nautical phraseology, they can be
made to sail "close to the wind."  In short, they can sail in every
direction, except directly in the "teeth" of the wind.  Some ships sail
closer to the wind than others; their powers in this respect depending
very much on the cut of their sails and the form of their hulls.

The _Lighter_ is a small, rough, clumsy species of coasting-vessel,
usually of the sloop rig.  It is used for discharging cargoes of large
vessels in harbours, and off coasts where the depth of water is not
great.  Lighters are usually picturesque-looking craft with dingy sails,
and they seldom carry top-sails of any kind.  Being seldom decked, they
are more properly huge boats than little ships.  But lighters are not
classed according to their rig,--they may be of any rig, though that of
the sloop is most commonly adopted.


This species of vessel is similar, in nearly all respects, to the sloop;
the only difference being that it is better and more elegantly built.
Gentlemen's pleasure yachts are frequently cutters; but yachts may be of
any form or rig--that is, they may belong to any _class_ of vessels
without changing their name of _yacht_.  Cutter-yachts are much more
elegantly moulded and rigged than the sloops that we have just
described.  They are _clipper-built_--that is, the hull is smoothly and
sharply shaped; the cut-water, in particular, is like a knife, and the
bow wedge-like.  In short, although similar in general outline, a
cutter-yacht bears the same relation to a trading-sloop that a racer
does to a cart-horse.  Their sails, also, are larger in proportion, and
they are fast-sailing vessels; but, on this very account, they are not
such good _sea-boats_ as their clumsy brethren, whose bluff or rounded
bows rise on the waves, while the sharp vessels cut through them, and
often deluge the decks with spray.

In our engraving we have several cutter-rigged yachts sailing with a
light _side_ wind, with main-sail, gaff, fore-sail, and jib set.


This is the most elegant and, for small craft, the most manageable
vessel that floats.  Its proportions are more agreeable to the eye than
those of any other species of craft, and its rig is in favour with
owners of yachts,--especially with those whose yachts are large.  The
schooner's distinctive peculiarities are, that it carries two masts,
which usually "_rake aft_," or lean back a good deal; and its rig is
chiefly fore-and-aft, like the sloop.  Of the two masts, the _after_ one
is the _main-mast_.  The other is termed the _fore-mast_.  The sails of
a schooner are--the _main-sail_ and the _gaff_, on the main-mast; the
_fore-sail_, _fore-top-sail_, and _fore-top-gallant-sail_ (the two last
being square sails), on the foremast.  In front of the fore-mast are the
_staysail_, the _jib_, and the _flying-jib_; these last are triangular
sails.  If a schooner were cut in two in the middle, cross-wise, the
front portion would be in all respects a sloop with a square top-sail;
the stern part would also be a sloop, minus the bowsprit and the
triangular sails _before_ the mast.  Schooners sometimes carry a large
square-sail, which is spread when the wind is "dead aft."  They are much
used in the coasting-trade; and one of their great advantages is that
they can be worked with fewer "hands" than sloops of the same size.


Advancing step by step in our investigation of the peculiar rig and
build of ships, we come to the _brig_.  This species of craft is
usually, but not necessarily, larger than those that have been
described; it is generally built on a larger scale than the schooner,
and often approaches in magnitude to the full-sized, three-masted ship.

The distinctive features of the brig are, that it has _two_ masts, both
of which are _square-rigged_.  It is a particularly serviceable species
of craft, and, when of large size, is much used in foreign trade.

The advantage of the square-rig over the fore-and-aft rig is, that the
sails, being smaller and more numerous, are more easily managed, and
require fewer men or "hands" to work them.  Thus, as we increase the
size of our vessel, the more necessity is there that it should be
square-rigged.  The huge main-sail of the sloop and schooner could not
be applied to large vessels; so that when men came to construct ships of
several hundred tons burden, they were compelled to increase the
_number_ of masts and sails, and diminish the size of them; hence,
probably, brigs were devised _after_ schooners.  The main-mast of a brig
is the aft one.

The sails are named after the masts to which they are fastened,--namely,
the _main-sail_; above that the _main-top-sail_; above that the
_main-top-gallant-sail_; and sometimes a very small sail, named the
_royal_, is spread above all.  Behind the main-sail there is a small
fore-and-aft sail similar to the main-sail of a schooner, which is
called the _boom-main-sail_.  On the fore-mast is a similar sail, which
is called the _try-sail_.  Attached to the respective yards of
square-rigged ships there are smaller poles or arms, which can be pushed
out at pleasure, and the yard lengthened, in order to receive an
additional little sailor wing on each side.  These wings are called
_studding-sails_ or _stun-sails_, and are used only when the wind is
fair and light.  They are named after the sails to which they
are fastened; thus there are the _main-stun-sails_, the
_main-top-stun-sails_, and the _main-top-gallant-stun-sails_, etcetera.
The fore-mast of a brig is smaller than the main-mast.  It carries a
_fore-sail_, _fore-top-sail_, _fore-top-gallant-sail_, and _fore-royal_.
Between it and the bowsprit are the _fore-stay-sail_, _jib_, and
_flying-jib_.  The three last sails are nearly similar in _all_ vessels.
All the yards, etcetera, are hoisted and shifted, and held in their
position, by a complicated arrangement of cordage, which in the mass is
called the running-rigging, in contradistinction to the
standing-rigging, which, as we have said, is _fixed_, and keeps the
masts, etcetera, immovably in position.  Yet every rope, in what seems
to a landsman's eye a bewildering mass of confusion, has its distinctive
name and specific purpose.

Brigs and schooners, being light and handy craft, are generally used by
pirates and smugglers in the prosecution of their lawless pursuits, and
many a deed of bloodshed and horror has been done on board such craft by
those miscreants.


The rig of this vessel is a mixture of that of the sloop and brig.  The
brigantine is _square_-rigged on the fore-mast, and sloop-rigged on its
after or mizzen mast.  Of its two masts, the front one is the larger,
and, therefore, is the main-mast.  In short, a brigantine is a mixed
vessel, being a brig forward and a sloop aft.

Such are our coasting-vessels; but it must be borne in mind that ships
of their _class_ are not confined to the coast.  When built very large
they are intended for the deep ocean trade, and many schooners approach
in size to full-rigged "ships."



We now come to speak of ships of large size, which spread an imposing
cloud of canvas to the breeze, and set sail on voyages which sometimes
involve the circumnavigation of the globe.


This vessel is next in size larger than the brig.  It does not follow,
however, that its being larger constitutes it a barque.  Some brigs are
larger than barques, but _generally_ the barque is the larger vessel.
The difference between a barque and a brig is that the former has
_three_ masts, the two front ones being square-rigged, and the mizzen
being fore-and-aft rigged.  The centre mast is the main one.  The
rigging of a barque's two front masts is almost exactly similar to the
rigging of a brig, that of the mizzen is similar to a sloop.  If you
were to put a fore-and-aft rigged _mizzen-mast_ into the after part of a
brig, that would convert it into a barque.

The term _clipper_ simply denotes that peculiar sharpness of build and
trimness of rig which insure the greatest amount of speed, and does not
specify any particular class.  There are clipper sloops, clipper yachts,
clipper ships, etcetera.  A clipper barque, therefore, is merely a
fast-sailing barque.

The peculiar characteristics of the clipper build are, knife-like
sharpness of the cut-water and bow, and exceeding correctness of cut in
the sails, so that these may be drawn as tight and _flat_ as possible.
Too much bulge in a sail is a disadvantage in the way of sailing.
Indeed, flatness is so important a desideratum, that experimentalists
have more than once applied sails made of _thin planks of wood_ to their
clippers; but we do not know that this has turned out to be much of an
improvement.  The masts of all clippers, except those of the sloop or
cutter rig, generally rake aft a good deal--that is, they lean
backwards; a position which is supposed to tend to increase speed.
Merchant vessels are seldom of the clipper build, because the sharpness
of this peculiar formation diminishes the available space for cargo very


The largest class of vessel that floats upon the sea is the _full-rigged
ship_, the distinctive peculiarity of which is, that its three masts are
_all_ square-rigged together, with the addition of one or two
fore-and-aft sails.

As the fore and main masts of a "ship" are exactly similar to those of a
barque, which have been already described, we shall content ourself with
remarking that the _mizzen-mast_ is similar in nearly all respects to
the other two, except that it is smaller.  The sails upon it are--the
_spanker_ (a fore-and-aft sail projecting over the quarter-deck), the
_mizzen-top-sail_ and _mizzen-top-gallant-sail_, both of which are
square sails.  Above all these a "ship" sometimes puts up small
square-sails called the _royals_; and, above these, _sky-sails_.



The birth of the British Navy may be said to have taken place in the
reign of King Alfred.  That great and good king, whose wisdom and
foresight were only equalled by his valour, had a fleet of upwards of
one hundred ships.  With these he fought the Danes to the death, not
always successfully, not always even holding his own; for the Danes at
this early period of their history were a hardy race of sea-warriors,
not less skilful than courageous.  But to King Alfred, with his beaked,
oared war-ships, is undoubtedly due the merit of having laid the
foundation of England's maritime ascendency.

England under the Normans does not seem to have greatly desired to excel
in maritime enterprise, but it was otherwise during the Plantagenet
period.  Henry the Second possessed a most formidable fleet, numbering
some five hundred vessels of war.  During the reign of his successor a
novel artifice in naval warfare was resorted to by the English which
merits notice.  The English admiral caused a number of barrels of
unslaked lime to be placed in his ships.  Having brought his fleet to
windward of the enemy--the French--he ordered water to be poured on the
lime.  This of course raised a great and dense smoke, which, being blown
by the wind into the very faces of the French, prevented the latter from
seeing on what quarter they were being attacked.  A panic arose, and
spread, among the French vessels, and the victory fell easily to the

The navy of Edward the Third numbered eleven hundred ships when he
undertook the invasion of France.  But the great majority of these were
not properly men-of-war--in fact, there were only five fully equipped
warships; the rest were for the most part merchant vessels converted
into fighting ships and transports for the time being.  The navy of King
Philip of France, though numerically weaker, far surpassed that of the
English king in point of equipment.  Of the four hundred ships of which
it consisted, no fewer than one hundred had, been built purposely for
war, according to the best principles of naval architecture then known.
Bows, catapults, javelins, and weapons of a like description were the
engines of offence used on both sides, and with these much havoc was
wrought at close quarters.  The English were victorious, notwithstanding
the more scientific equipment of their foes.  The French ships were
boarded, and the flower of King Philip's naval force must that day have

Henry the Seventh did much for the improvement of the English navy.  It
was during his reign that the _Great Harry_ was built, which was really
the first large ship built directly for the Royal Navy.  Hitherto the
vessels employed by England for national defence or offence had been
supplied by certain maritime towns; but the _Great Harry_ was the
property of the people.  She was built in 1488, and had port-holes for
cannon in the lower deck, being the first vessel thus constructed.  The
_Great Harry_ was subsequently far surpassed by another of King Henry's
ships, the _Grace de Dieu_, which was no less than one thousand tons
burden, and carried seven hundred men and one hundred and twenty-two
guns, (some writers mention only eighty guns) the largest of which were
but eighteen-pounders.  The _Grace de Dieu_ was a four-masted vessel,
and was built in 1515.

An epoch in England's maritime history, which was in some respects the
most brilliant and momentous, now falls to be mentioned; a period when
England's name became a synonym on the seas for everything that was most
intrepid and successful in maritime enterprise; an era of daring
adventure and splendid achievement, which at length established England
as the first naval power among the nations of Europe.

Not without long and fierce struggle, however, was this supremacy won.
The French, Spanish, and Dutch each and all in turn disputed England's
claim to the sovereignty of the seas.  It is unnecessary to repeat here
the oft-told tale of the defeat of the Spanish Armada, nor yet the
almost as familiar story of our frequent naval encounters with the Dutch
in the days of Admiral Blake and the great Dutch Admiral Van Tromp.
Long and desperate those conflicts were, and nothing but indomitable
courage and stubborn perseverance could have secured the victory for the
English ships, for in almost every instance our foes were numerically
the stronger.

In the thrice famous days of Nelson, it was still our "wooden walls"
which carried the flag of England on from triumph to triumph.  At the
battle of Trafalgar the _Victory_ and the French ship the _Redoubtable_
were brought up close alongside of each other, and in this position
poured volley after volley upon each other's bulwarks, until water had
to be thrown over the ships' sides to prevent them igniting.  The
_Victory_ was a grand ship in her time, yet she was not more than two
thousand tons burden, and her guns were but one hundred and two in

But at last the day arrived when it became manifest that the glory of
our "wooden walls" had set.  In the prime of his intellectual and
physical strength, the Emperor Louis Napoleon was a man of active and
subtle brain, and it was to his ingenious invention that the first
ironclad ship of war owed its birth.  Floating batteries protected with
iron plates were first employed during the Crimean War.  It was becoming
manifest that the great strides which were being made in the manufacture
of cannon must necessitate an improved system of defensive armour for
ships of war.  No wooden vessel that could be constructed could be proof
against the new guns that were now coming rapidly into use.

The French, as has been just indicated, were the first in the field with
the new style of war-ships.  _La Gloire_ was built, and was quickly
followed by our own _Warrior_.  The frame of _La Gloire_ was constructed
of wood, but covered with an iron plating four and a half inches in
thickness.  The _Warrior_ was built on an iron frame, and her
armour-plating is of the same thickness as that of _La Gloire_; the
lining is of solid teak eighteen inches thick, which is again backed by
an inner coating of iron.  The length of the _Warrior_ is three hundred
and eighty feet, but only about two-thirds of this is iron-plated.

At this time--the early days of ironclads--the heaviest shot that could
be thrown by any gun was a sixty-eight pounder.  Guns of this calibre
the _Warrior_ and her class were proof against.  But the guns increased
rapidly in size and power, and the thickness of the armour with which
the ships were protected had to be increased in proportion.  The class
of war-vessels which succeeded the _Warrior_ were entirely cased with
iron plates, whose thickness has from time to time been increased.
Since the first ironclad was built, then, a contest--for only such it
can be called--has been going on between the cannon-maker and the
ship-builder, the one striving to construct a gun which shall pierce the
thickest armour which the ship can carry, the other adding inch upon
inch to his armour plates, to the end that they may be shot-proof; and
this contest may be said to be going on at this hour.

Will there ever be the same romance about the warships of the present
day,--what those of the future will be like we do not care to
speculate,--and the old "wooden walls" whose prowess on the high seas
founded England's maritime glory?  Will a Dibdin ever arise to sing a
_Devastation_ or a _Glatton_?  Can a _Devastation_ or a _Glatton_ ever
inspire poetic thoughts and images?  One would say that the singer must
be endowed in no ordinary degree with the sacred fire whom such a theme
as a modern ironclad turret-ship should move to lyric utterance.  It has
been said that all the romance of the road died out with the old
coaching days; and certainly a locomotive engine, with its long black
train of practical-looking cars, makes hardly so picturesque a feature
in the landscape as one of the old stage-coaches with its red-coated
driver, horn-blowing guard, and team of mettled greys; but a railway
train is an embodiment of poetry compared with a turret-ship.  But if it
be true that poetry and romance must more and more cease to be
associated with our navy, we must just accept the fact, for nothing is
more certain than that, whatever the warships of the future _may_ be, we
can never again return to the days of the old wooden ships.

Several opposing difficulties have now to be met in the construction of
ironclads.  Invulnerability as regards the enemy's guns, protection to
the men on board, speed, and the quality of being easily managed at
sea,--all these points have to be carefully considered; and the
difficulty is that one quality wars against another.  A ship might be
built which was proof against any guns that could be devised, and then
might be found utterly unmanageable and unsafe at sea.  A balance of
qualities has therefore to be struck, and this perfect equipoise has by
no means been as yet attained.  Every year--we might say every month--
witnesses the birth of some new type of armour-plated war-ship, built in
every case at an enormous cost.  The new sea-monster looks formidable
enough in all conscience; but the question that arises the instant she
quits the dock is, Is she sea-worthy?  And with the fate of the
_Captain_ and the _Vanguard_ in our memories, the question may well
arise.  The story of modern war-ships has, up to this, been one of
mingled success and failure.  Does not the epigram on our war-ships--our
"sub-marine fleet"--owe its point and sting, in a measure, to its truth?

Of the various types of modern war-vessels, the most formidable yet
devised are undoubtedly the _steam-rams_ and _turret-ships_.  The
steam-ram is armed with a strong steel beak, with which it charges an
enemy in much the same way as the war-galleys of ancient times charged a
foe, or as a sword-fish attacks its adversary.  The turret-ship carries
one or more shot-proof circular turrets, in which one or more guns are
worked by the crew, the guns being capable of being turned and pointed
in any direction.  Both turret-ships and steam-rams are, of course, iron

Vessels of this description were first employed by the Americans in the
great civil war.  The careers of the _Merrimac_ and _Monitor_ may be
said to have become a part of American national history.  The _Merrimac_
was the first iron-plated steam-ram.  She was originally a wooden
frigate; was cut down, coated with iron, and furnished with a ram.  In
her famous encounter with the _Congress_ and the _Cumberland_, two
wooden frigates of the Federals, she steamed alongside the former,
delivered a raking fire, and then, turning upon the _Cumberland_,
attacked that vessel with her ram.  Of the _Cumberland_ she made quick
work; for having torn a gaping rent in her side, she poured a damaging
fire into the gap, hanging on by the sharp iron beak with which
steam-rams are furnished.

Then withdrawing to a short distance, she again charged her adversary,
and delivered a second terrible fire, until the _Cumberland_ finally
sank.  The Merrimac then turned her attention to the _Congress_, whose
fate she sealed in about half an hour.  The first shot caused fearful
destruction, killing every man at one of the guns, blowing away the
bulk-heads, strewing the deck with a carnage too horrible to dwell upon,
and finally setting the ship on fire.  The _Congress_ at last struck her
colours, but during the night she blew up.

This formidable vessel had subsequently to haul down her colours before
the _Monitor_--in a figurative sense, that is, for she did not actually
surrender, but retreated after a contest of some hours.  In this notable
struggle the _Merrimac_ sustained much damage, without succeeding in
inflicting on her enemy anything like the same amount of injury; in
fact, the _Monitor_ came out of the action scathless.

The changes that are taking place in the construction of war-ships are
so various and so rapid, that we cannot attempt to do more here than
take note of a few of the principal; and even what are mentioned as
novelties now, before these pages appear may have ceased to be

Iron is now employed in almost every part of a war-ship, the masts
themselves being in many cases of iron--hollow tubes through which the
running rigging may be let down when there is danger of its being
damaged by the enemy's fire.  The majority of modern ironclads are built
in compartments, with this advantage that, if damage is sustained in one
part of the vessel, and the water rush in through the gap made by shot
or any other cause, the ship will still float until the water can be let
out again.

The American ironclad turret-ship _Monitor_ has given her name to a
whole class of vessels built within recent years for the English navy;
but in many respects our vessels are superior to their American
prototype.  All these ships--which are characterised by low free-boards
and absence of masts and sails--fight their guns from turrets.  They are
sometimes known as "coast-defence ships," from the circumstance that
they were constructed mainly for home service.

Of these "English monitors," four--the _Cyclops_, _Gorgon_, _Hecate_,
and _Hydra_--are built on identically similar principles.  In appearance
they may be best compared to a raft with a battery on top of it, from
which fortress or battery rise various funnels and a flag-staff.  The
deck is but three feet and a half above the level of the sea.  While the
ships are in port the deck is roofed in with an awning and railed round;
but both awning and railing are removed when the vessels put to sea.

The battery or fortress is in the centre of the ship, and fills up about
one-third of her length and three-fourths of her breadth.  The
surrounding deck is flush, its surface being broken only by the
skylights, which are three in number.  The skylights allow but a scant
and dim light to penetrate to the officers' and seamen's quarters below;
but even this is wanting in time of action, when a shot-proof shield
takes the place of the glass windows.

The deck of the dass of war-ships we are describing is composed of
twin-layers of iron plating half an inch each in thickness, supported on
iron beams, and of two layers of solid teak lining four inches thick.
The sides of the ships are protected by iron plating of eight-inch
thickness amidships, which is an inch more of iron than the armour
possessed by the majority of our masted sea-going ironclads, many of
which are twice or thrice the size of the _Cyclops_ and her
sister-ships.  It will thus be seen that these turret-ships are
practically stronger in defensive equipment than any other class of
ironclad cruisers.

The battery of these vessels is surrounded by a breastwork six feet in
height, plated with nine-inch armour.  Entrance is gained to the turrets
themselves from inside this breastwork.  In the centre of the turret
there are two cylinders, the one fitting over the other in a manner
which keeps the whole steady even in rough weather.  Small steam-engines
placed inside the breastwork serve to turn the turrets, which, however,
can also be worked by manual labour should necessity demand it.

The ports present a striking contrast to those in the old wooden ships,
by reason of their greatly diminished size.  They just admit of the
muzzle of the gun peeping through, and no more, being oval in shape, and
about three feet in diameter lengthways.  There can be little doubt that
these small ports are an advantage, since they must afford greater
protection to the gunners during action.  When it is desired to alter
the direction of the guns, the change is not effected by moving them in
the ports, but by revolving the turret itself.  Should it ever happen in
action that the free movement of the turret should become impeded from
some cause, then the only means of changing the direction of the guns
would be to turn the whole ship.

The turrets are armed with two twenty-five ton guns, carrying four
hundred pound shot.  The deck being flush, as has been mentioned, the
guns can be fired straight ahead and astern, and command all sides.
Less than one minute is needed to revolve the whole turret.  This class
of ships is believed to be able to keep up a constant steady fire
whether in chase or in retreat.

Abaft the funnel in these ships there is an upright oval tube rising
some seventeen feet above the level of the main deck, plated with iron.
The upper plate is pierced with several small horizontal slits, from
which the tube has received the name of the "conning-house," for through
these openings the captain can "con" or note whatever is going on
outside, without himself being exposed to danger.  This circular box
just allows the captain to turn himself about in; and here must he stand
in time of action, directing and governing the whole conduct of his ship
by mechanical telegraphs.

Of the many curious and remarkable features in these ships, one of the
most remarkable is the extensive use made of machinery for every
purpose.  Engines revolve the turrets, raise the ashes from the
engine-rooms, turn the capstans, work the rudders;--engines do

Three monitors similar to those just described were built for the
defence of several of our colonies.  The colony of Victoria, we believe,
purchased their ironclad, the _Cerberus_, from the home Government; at
any rate, the people maintain her at their own cost.  Before the
_Cerberus_ could make the voyage out to Melbourne, her sides had to be
built up with thin iron plating for nearly her whole length.  In the
same way the _Cyclops_ and her companion-ships might be made fit to face
any sea or weather.

It may occur to the reader to ask, Why not have sea-going masted vessels
at once?  To which it may be answered, first, that the masted ships must
inevitably draw more water than those of which the _Cyclops_ and
_Hecate_ are types.  Turret-ships like the _Monarch_, or broadside-ships
like the _Hercules_ and _Sultan_, draw about twenty-five feet of water;
the smaller ships only sixteen, while at the same time they are more
heavily armoured.  Thus the latter, if close pressed by an enemy's
sea-going ironclads--the only class from which they have much to fear--
could take shelter up a river out of their reach.  In action near the
land these monitors, moreover, could be handled with greater ease.

Secondly, from their much smaller size, the coast-defence ships are
built at a much less cost--an important consideration in days when a
first-class ironclad costs about as much as a small fleet of bygone
days.  The vessels we have been describing are of rather more than two
thousand tons burden, as compared with the five thousand tons of the
larger sea-going ships; and, speaking roughly, the expense of
construction is proportionate to the tonnage.

The _Glatton_ turret-ship has several characteristics in which it
differs from the above class of monitors.  It has but a single turret,
and its guns throw six hundred pound shot, carrying three miles and a
half.  Her water-draught is about six feet more than that of the
_Cyclops_ and _Hecate_, and her armour-plates three inches thicker.
Though she carries fewer guns, the _Glatton_ is a much more powerful
vessel than the other monitors.  (Note: The above description of English
monitors is adapted and abridged from an article in Chambers's Journal.)

We shall now briefly describe the _Devastation_, one of the largest and
most powerful of all our ironclads.  The _Devastation_ in her after-part
rises but four feet and a half above the water; but to meet bad weather
she is furnished with an armour-plated half-raised forecastle, so that
forward she is nine feet out of the water.  The free-board amidships is
still higher, being at this point level with the platform on which the
two turrets are placed.  In the centre of the ship rises a circular iron
erection, on the top of which is the hurricane-deck.  Through this
structure runs a passage, in which are situated the entrances to the
hatchways and to the hurricane-deck overhead.

From the hurricane-deck rise the ship's two funnels; and here also are
the captain's fighting box, already alluded to in describing the
coast-defence ships, the fire-proof shield for protecting the steering
gear, and the boats.  In a gale the hurricane-deck is the only safe
place in ships of this kind--the only place where one would not get
speedily washed overboard.  As for the below part of the ship, it is
there almost impossible to breathe, even when air has been pumped in
from above, which is the only means of ventilating this portion of the

The _Devastation_ carries two guns in each of her turrets, placed side
by side, each weighing thirty-five tons.  The turrets, directly the guns
have been fired, can be wheeled rapidly round, thus turning the exposed
parts away from the enemy.

Ships such as the _Devastation_, the _Thunderer_, and the _Fury_ do not,
at first sight, strike one as particularly well adapted for rough
weather, to put it in the mildest phrase.  Nevertheless, the
_Devastation_ has been fairly well tested in this way, having
encountered some pretty rough weather, and, it is affirmed, behaved
satisfactorily.  The great danger about all ships of this class is that
they may not rise to the seas, but that the waves, breaking over them,
may press them down and founder them.  The _Thunderer_ has been known to
have her forecastle, which is somewhat lower than that of the
_Devastation_, completely submerged, and this, too, when no very high
sea was running.  These ships are designed, not for home service and
coast defence merely, but for general action in mid-ocean.

To attempt to describe even a single specimen of each type of modern
war-ships would to a certainty weary the reader, for to any but an
expert there would inevitably be a sense of repetition in the perusal of
such a narrative.  But in order to place before our readers something
like an approximate idea, at any rate, of the present state of our navy,
we shall examine briefly one other first-class ironclad, the
_Inflexible_, which may be regarded as a leading example of ironclad
ships, and, at the time of writing, as one of the highest achievements
of modern naval architecture.

The _Inflexible_ is the vast size of 11,400 tons burden, her horse-power
being 8000.  The length is 320 feet, her armour-plating from 16 to 24
inches thick, with an inner lining of wood from 17 to 25 inches in
thickness.  She is divided into 135 compartments, and her engines are
placed at such a distance from each other that should one be disabled
from any cause the other would still be in working order.

The chief characteristic of the _Inflexible_ is the position of the
turrets.  The majority of ships of this description have their turrets
in the middle line, from which it results that only one half of their
guns can be directed on an enemy, whether ahead or astern.  The
_Inflexible_ has her turrets on each side--the fore-turret on the
port-side, the after-turret on the starboard.  She can thus use the
whole of her guns against an enemy _at the same time_, whether it be
ahead or astern.

It will be seen that the thickness of the armour-plating with which the
_Inflexible_ is protected is enormous; and yet this thickness of iron
has been pierced.  The question, then, that immediately suggests itself
is, _Can_ a vessel be constructed to carry much heavier armour-plating
than this?  A recent writer in the _Times_ declares not.  "So far as the
exigencies of the navy are concerned," he says, "the limit of weight
seems to have already been reached, for the simple reason that the
buoyancy of our ironclads cannot with safety be further diminished by
the burden of heavier armour and armaments."

The following very graphic description of the interior of a turret-ship
was written by an eye-witness of the scene described.  It is an extract
from a narrative supplied to the author of "The Sea: its Stirring Story
of Adventure and Peril," from which we take it.  The vessel described
was the _Miantonoma_, an American ironclad turret-ship.

"You ascend again through a trap-door, and find yourself in a circular
room, some twelve feet in diameter, padded from top to bottom like the
interior of a carriage.  By your side is a huge mass of iron.  You are
inside the turret.  A glimmering lamp sheds its feeble light on the
moving forms around you, and from below comes the faint whispering of
the men, until the trap is shut and you are again in utter silence.

"`_Prepare_!'  The gunner's mate stands on your toes, and tells you to
lean forward and thrust your tongue out of your mouth.  You hear the
creaking of machinery.  It is a moment of intense suspense.  Gradually a
glimmer of light--an inch--a flood!  The shield passes from the opening;
the gun runs out.  A flash, a roar--a mad reeling of the senses, and
crimson clouds flitting before your eyes--a horrible pain in your ears,
a sense of oppression on your chest, and the knowledge that you are not
on your feet--a whispering of voices blending with the concert in your
ears--a darkness before your eyes--and you feel yourself plump up
against the padding, whither you have been thrown by the violence of the

"Before you have recovered sufficiently to note the effects I have
endeavoured to describe, the shield is again in its place and the gun
ready for reloading.  They tell you that the best part of the sound has
escaped through the port-hole, otherwise there would be no standing it,
and our gunner's mate whispers in your ears, `It's all werry well, but
they bu'sts out bleeding from the chest and ears after the fourth
discharge, and has to be taken below.'  You have had enough of it too,
and are glad that they don't ask you to witness another shot fired."

It must be stated that since the _Miantonoma_ was built a new and
improved principle of turret-firing has been introduced.  Electricity is
now employed in discharging the guns, and there is thus no necessity for
anyone being in the turret, which is of course a great advantage.

At the close of the civil war, America possessed a fine fleet of
monitors, of which scarcely any now remain.  For the time they seemed
all but impregnable to shot and shell; but they were built by contract,
of unseasoned wood, and in the course of ten or twelve years yielded to
natural decay.  But the _Brooklyn_ and the _Ohio_, both fine examples of
naval architecture, still survive to maintain, in so far as two ships
can, America's maritime prestige.

A chapter treating of ironclads would, we think, be incomplete without
allusion made to the loss of the _Captain_, whose terrible fate in 1870
has caused a mournful interest to be attached to that vessel.

The _Captain_ was 320 feet in length and 53 feet broad.  Her
armour-plating reached to five feet below the water-line.  Opposite the
turrets her plating was eight inches in thickness and seven inches in
other parts.  The ship was furnished with two screws, placed side by
side.  The screws were available for steering, and thus the vessel could
be governed without the rudder.  The _Captain_ was fully rigged, and
could carry a large spread of canvas.

The special characteristic of the ship was her revolving turrets.  Each
turret was 27 feet in diameter on the outside and 22 feet 6 inches on
the inside.  The walls of the turrets were therefore 2 feet 3 inches
thick; and one half of this thickness was composed of iron.  The turrets
were revolved by separate engines, but they could also be turned, if
occasion required, by hand-labour.  Two Armstrong twenty-five ton guns,
throwing six hundred pound shot, were placed in each turret.  The ship
was built after designs by Captain Coles--the architect also of the

On her first sea-voyage the _Captain_ showed, apparently, such excellent
sea-going qualities that her architect and the contractors, the Messrs.
Laird, were quite satisfied as to her safety in mid-ocean.  In the
autumn of 1870 she accompanied the fleet on a cruise; and on the 6th of
September, shortly after midnight, foundered off Cape Finisterre.  The
whole crew were lost, with the exception of nineteen men, and among
those who perished was Captain Coles himself, Captain Burgoyne, the
commander of the ship, and a son of the then First Lord of the
Admiralty--Mr Childers.  It is unnecessary to recall to the memory of
the adult among my readers the deep feeling of pity and gloom spread by
this awful disaster throughout Great Britain.

The night on which the _Captain_ foundered was no doubt a somewhat rough
one, with squalls and a heavy sea on; but it was not merely the force of
the storm which overwhelmed the vessel.

Mr James May, a surviving gunner of the ill-fated ship, gave a
sufficiently clear account of the foundering of the vessel.  Soon after
midnight he was awakened from sleep by a noise and a feeling that the
ship was uneasy.  Rising, and taking with him a lamp, he proceeded to
the after-turret to see if the guns were all right.  Everything was
secure enough there; but he had hardly finished his examination when he
felt the vessel heel steadily over, a heavy sea struck her on the
weather-port, the water rushed into the turret, and May presently found
himself in the water.

He swam to the pinnace, which he perceived floating bottom upwards, and
there he was presently joined by Captain Burgoyne and several others of
the crew.  Then he beheld the vessel turn over and go down, stern first;
the whole catastrophe being over in a few minutes.  The launch was
drifting a few yards off, and May called out to his comrades, "Jump,
men! it is our last chance."  May with three others succeeded in
reaching the boat, in which fifteen of the remainder of the crew also
found a refuge.  It is uncertain whether poor Captain Burgoyne remained
in the pinnace or failed to reach the launch.

The nineteen survivors, after a hard row of twelve hours, without food
or drink, landed at Cape Finisterre, where they were hospitably received
and cared for by the people.  A court-martial was held in due course to
investigate the cause of the disaster.  Into the details of the evidence
it is impossible here to enter, but it was sufficiently proved that
there were grave faults in the _Captain's_ construction,--faults which,
as is unfortunately too often the case, were not discovered by such
calculations as were made before the ship started on what may be said to
have been her first, as it was her last, cruise.  It had, however, been
noticed by some that the vessel was about a foot and a half deeper in
the water than she should have been--that her free-board, in a word,
instead of being eight feet above the water, as was designed, was only
six feet six inches; and it needs but a very slight knowledge of marine
matters to understand how this difference would materially prejudice the
stability of such a vessel as the _Captain_.

If it has been the reader's chance, as it has been ours, to visit anyone
of our great naval arsenals--especially Portsmouth or Plymouth--he
cannot have failed of being struck with the gallant and splendid
appearance presented by many of our ships of war; but he must likewise
have been affected with feelings the reverse of admiration by more than
one type of modern ironclads.  No one who admires a real ship, be it of
wood or of iron--a stately frigate in full sail before a favouring
wind--can at the same time admire a monitor.  Many persons, in truth,
will refuse to regard a turret-ship as a ship at all.  It overturns our
every notion of what a ship should look like.  A low, black, mastless,
raft-like, cruel-looking machine, without the faintest pretension to
form or comeliness, a turret-ship is simply a fighting-engine, a
floating battery--an ingenious and formidable instrument of death and
destruction, no doubt, but nothing more.  Yet these are among the
leading war-ships of the present, and, as far as can at present be seen,
of the immediate future; and on these we must depend for the protection
of our shores should they ever be threatened.

And yet, great as is the annual cost of our navy, and great as is the
amount of ingenuity spent in the construction of new and novel ships of
war--each designed to be more impregnable and more formidable than its
predecessor--our navy is at this moment in somewhat of an unsettled and
transitory state.  Changes in the construction of ironclads are every
year taking place, and considerable difference of opinion exists among
our highest naval authorities upon important points in marine
architecture.  Ships of war have now to contend with such formidable
enemies in the shape of guns, torpedoes, and other engines of terribly
destructive power, that it is difficult to say at present which will
eventually triumph.  One of the old wooden ships placed beside a modern
ironclad is as a child's toy battery compared with Gibraltar; and yet it
can hardly be said that the nation has the same feeling of confidence
and security in our present ships which it reposed in the vessels which
Nelson so often led to victory; for it must be long ere the fate of the
_Captain_ and the _Vanguard_ is entirely forgotten.

Of this, however, we may, we think, at least rest assured, that, however
dubious we may be in regard to some of the novelties and presumed
improvements that are being from time to time introduced in naval
architecture, England is well abreast of the age in maritime matters; if
her ships be not absolutely perfect, and proof against every form of
danger, they are at least equal to those of any other nation.  We need a
strong, a very strong navy; and as a fact our naval resources are nearly
equal to the combined naval strength of Europe.

A somewhat different condition of things will need to come about from
that which at present exists among the nations of the world ere England
can afford to decrease her naval armaments; and until the Great Powers
of the world agree to settle their disputes by some other means than by
"wager of battle," and are resolved to "war no more," probably the best
and only way for her is to keep herself as strongly and perfectly armed
as possible.  It is this that has probably helped, at any rate, to
secure so long and uninterrupted peace for our shores; and to try a
different and opposite course would, to say the least, be a risk.  It is
upon her navy, as all the world knows, that England depends for defence
and security.  To be weak in our navy would be to be weak throughout all
our armour.  Our navy is at present, we would fain hope, a peace-weapon
in our hands--a shield, not a sword; and while it is such, the stronger
and more flawless it is, the better for us, and perhaps for the world at
large.  This may strike the reader as a somewhat vain-glorious,
"spread-eagle" way of putting the case; but if he look at the matter
fairly and impartially, we think he will admit that there is some truth
in our statement.

Before closing this chapter, a word or two must be said descriptive of
that fell foe to ships of war, the torpedo, though space demands that
our reference should be brief.  Almost all modern ships of war are
constructed with false bottoms, designed especially to protect them
against torpedoes.  There are many different forms of torpedoes,
employed in a variety of ways.  A torpedo may be described as a
submarine exploding apparatus.  It may contain from thirty to as much as
five hundred pounds of gunpowder; and the explosion is effected either
by means of electricity, or by a spring and a detonating substance when
the engine comes in contact with a ship.  Some kinds of torpedoes rest
on the bottom of the sea, while others are anchored and float suspended
in the water.  If a vessel strikes against one of these terrible
engines, she is either at once blown to splinters, or a rent is made in
her bottom which causes her rapidly to sink.

One type of torpedoes resembles somewhat a fish, and is impelled rapidly
through the water by a screw and other machinery.  Torpedoes are so
constructed as to be able to rise and strike a vessel just at the right
moment.  When not filled with gunpowder or gun-cotton, dynamite and
other explosive substances are used instead for charging these submarine

Various methods have been devised to secure ships from torpedoes.  Nets
are sometimes extended in front of the ship, which catch the torpedoes
before they can come in contact with the vessel's bottom.  This
safeguard was adopted, in many instances with success, by the Federal
war-ships when entering Confederate harbours.  But a great deal may be
done to secure a ship against these terrible engines of destruction by
precaution simply, as was proved in the Crimean War, when the Russian
torpedoes did little or no damage to our ships, by reason of the
unceasing watchfulness maintained on board.

During the late war between Russia and Turkey one of the most daring
exploits of the campaign was an attack by a Russian squadron of
torpedo-boats on the Turkish monitor _Hifse Rahman_.  The flotilla
comprised four ships, the _Czarevich_, the _Xenia_, the _Czarevna_, and
the _Djirid_.  The two first named began the attack, the _Czarevna_ and
the _Djirid_ holding themselves in reserve until their assistance should
be wanted.

The launches were equipped with strong iron awnings which shielded their
crews from the enemy's fire.  Each boat was armed with two torpedoes,
fastened to the end of long spars projected over the bulwarks and
working on pivots.  The torpedoes could be detached from the spars when
occasion demanded; while long chains were secured to the missiles, by
which they were attached to the enemy's vessel, as well as to the wire
of a galvanic battery fastened round the waist of the commander of the
launch.  This battery was the means by which the torpedo was exploded.

The flotilla left the Roumanian side of the Danube on the 25th of June
1877 at about midnight, and in something less than an hour the _Hifse
Rahman_ loomed in sight, a shadowy mass on the dark waters.  The
approach of the torpedo-boats was almost noiseless, and the croaking of
the frogs was said to have further favoured the Russians by drowning the
sound of the engines, so that those on board the monitor were not aware
of their enemy's propinquity until the launches were almost alongside.

The sentry at once challenged, when Lieutenant Doubarsoff, the commander
of the _Czarevich_, answered "Friends."  But his speech betrayed him;
the alarm was spread; and the _Hifse Rahman_ opened a sharp fire upon
the launches.  But Lieutenant Doubarsoff succeeded in attaching his
torpedo-chain to a rope hanging at the monitor's bows, and then rapidly
backed his little vessel and fired the torpedo.  A tremendous explosion;
a column of water shot up into the air, and the launch was nearly
swamped!  A breach had, however, been made in the _Hifse Rahman's_

The other monitors were now thoroughly alive to their danger, and the
Russian launches had to sustain a deadly cannonade, upon which
Lieutenant Doubarsoff ordered Lieutenant Schestakoff to bring up his
launch, the _Xenia_, and apply a second torpedo, which the latter was
able to do, attaching the missile amidships of the Turkish vessel.  The
fate of the _Hifse Rahman_ was now sealed, and in a few minutes she

The Russian launches succeeded in getting clear of their enemy again
without losing a single man, and thus ended the first torpedo expedition
ever made against an enemy's ironclads, but which may, as a writer
describing the event says, "end in completely revolutionising our
present system of monster iron walls."  The Grand Cross of Saint George
was awarded to Lieutenants Doubarsoff and Schestakoff for this intrepid
and successful exploit.

Space is not left us to do more than revert for a moment to what is
perhaps the deadliest weapon of offensive naval warfare yet devised,--
rams.  Some experts maintain that nothing can match the power of the ram
of a modern ironclad skilfully handled; and a well-known naval authority
has declared that the use of the guns in a naval action should be merely
preliminary to that of the ram--in other words, that all effort should
be concentrated upon making an opportunity of using the ram.

We close this chapter by recalling the reader's attention to a feature
in modern war-ships already alluded to, and which indeed the whole
course of our remarks upon this subject points to--the almost universal
use of machinery in modern naval tactics.  Most assuredly in modern
sea-warfare it may be said, in the Laureate's words--used by him, of
course, with a very different sense--that "the individual dwindles," so
that the prediction, which some of our readers may remember was once
made by a First Lord of the Admiralty, seems not unlikely one day to
become sober fact--that the time will come when we shall no longer
require sailors, because all that our warships will need will be stokers
and artillerymen.  Whether this is a consummation to be desired we are
not careful here to pronounce.



As we have been led, in writing about ships of the navy, to refer to
steam, we turn aside at this point to treat of that tremendous

One night, in the year 1807, a terrible sight was witnessed by the
inhabitants of the banks of the river Hudson in America.

Men love what is marvellous, and they will go a long distance out of
their way to see that which is terrific and horrible; but on the night
in question there was no need to go far.  The farmers had only to look
out of their windows, and the sailors of the shipping had only to lift
their heads above the bulwarks, to behold a sight that appalled the
stoutest hearted, and caused the very hair on the craniums of the timid
to stand on end.

The object that created so much consternation was--a "monster of the
deep!"  At some parts of the river, men could not tell what it was like,
for the night was dark when it passed, but a dark, shadowy idea they
obtained by the light of the fire which the creature vomited from its
jaws; and they formed a tremendous conception of its size and power from
the speed at which it travelled, the splashing which it made, and the
hideous groans with which it burdened the night-air.

This "fiery monster of the deep" was the _first_ river-steamer, the

Before going further into the details of this the first of a class of
ships which have, within the last fifty years, almost completely changed
the whole system of navigation, let us take a cursory glance at the
first attempts made to propel ships by means of steam.

The subject has occupied mankind much longer than many people suppose.
So long ago as the year 1543, a naval captain of Spain applied an engine
to a ship of about two hundred tons, and succeeded in moving it at the
rate of about two miles an hour.  The nature of his engine the captain
kept secret; but it was noted that part of it consisted of a caldron of
boiling water.

This we are told by Thomas Gonzales, the director of the Royal Archives
of Simancas; but his veracity is now called in question,--at any rate,
nothing further was afterwards heard of the discovery.

The first authentic record we have of steam navigation occurs in a work
written by the Marquis of Worcester in 1665, in which allusion is made
to the application of engines to boats and ships, which would "draw them
up rivers against the stream, and, if need be, pass London Bridge
against the current, at low-water."

Many attempts, more or less successful, were made by ingenious men from
time to time.  Papin of France in 1690 constructed a steamboat, the
success of which may be gathered from the fact that it was ultimately
broken up by enraged and jealous watermen!  Jonathan Hulls in 1736, and
M. Genevois in 1759, were each successful, to a certain extent, in
constructing working models, but nothing definite resulted from their
labours.  Yet we would not be understood to undervalue the achievements
of such men.  On the contrary, it is by the successive discoveries of
such inquiring and philosophical men that grand results are at last
attained.  The magnificent structures that crowd the ocean were not the
creations of one era, or the product of one stupendous mind.  They are
the result of the labours of thousands of men whose names have never
been known to fame.

The men who, working upon the materials supplied by preceding
generations, brought the propulsion of boats by steam nearest to
perfection, _just before_ the commencement of navigation, were Mr
Miller of Dumfries, Mr Taylor, his friend, and tutor in his family, and
Mr Symington.  All of these were, in a very important degree,
instrumental in ushering in the great event.  Symington, in 1788, fitted
an engine to a large boat, in which he attained the speed of seven miles
an hour.

The man to whom the credit belongs of introducing _steam navigation_ is
undoubtedly Mr Fulton of America.  This gentleman, who was contemporary
with those just mentioned, visited France and England, in the former of
which countries he endeavoured, unsuccessfully, to carry out his
projects, while in the latter he met with Symington, and obtained much
valuable information from him.

We have no sympathy whatever with those who seem to rake in to the
credit of their own country every discovery and invention they possibly
or plausibly can.  We did much _towards_ the commencement of steam
navigation, but we did not begin it.  We pushed considerably in advance
of other nations in the invention of apparatus by which boats might be
propelled by steam; we constructed models, tried it on a small scale,
and found the thing to answer admirably: but we rested there.
Meanwhile, an enterprising American came and saw our achievements,
ordered an engine in England, carried it across the Atlantic, and
_commenced_ the era of steam navigation, on the river Hudson, by
building and launching:


Robert Fulton, in conjunction with Chancellor Livingston of America,
planned, built, and launched a boat in the spring of 1807, which they
named the _Clermont_.  It was propelled by steam, and averaged the rate
of five miles an hour on its first voyage from New York to Albany, a
distance of nearly one hundred and fifty miles.

All discoveries and novelties, great and small, are treated with
ridicule at first by the mass of mankind, so it is not a matter of
wonder that the crowds which flocked to the wharf to see the _Clermont_
start on her first trip were somewhat satirical and jocose in their
remarks.  But when the steam was turned on, and they heard the first of
that series of snorts that was destined ere long to shake the trembling
air of land and sea, and saw the great, uncouth paddle-wheels revolve
powerfully in the water and churn it into foam, a shout, tinged
doubtless with prophetic fervour, greeted the triumphant engineer as his
little steamboat darted from the shore.

Colden, in his Life of Fulton, speaks thus of the _Clermont's_ first

"She excited the astonishment of the inhabitants of the shores of the
Hudson, many of whom had not heard even of an engine, much less of a
steamboat.  There were many descriptions of the effects of her first
appearance upon the people of the banks of the river.

"Some of these were ridiculous, but some of them were of such a
character as nothing but an object of real grandeur could have excited.
She was described by some, who had indistinctly seen her passing in the
night, as a monster moving on the waters, defying the winds and tide and
breathing flames and smoke!  She had the most terrific appearance from
other vessels which were navigating the river when she was making her
passage.  The first steamboat (as others yet do) used dry pine wood for
fuel, which sends forth a column of ignited vapour many feet above the
flue, and, whenever the fire is stirred, a galaxy of sparks fly off,
which, in the night, have a very brilliant and beautiful appearance.

"This uncommon light first attracted the attention of the crews of other
vessels.  Notwithstanding the wind and tide, which were adverse to its
approach, they saw with astonishment that it was rapidly coming towards
them; and when it came so near that the noise of the machinery and
paddles was heard, the crews--if what was said in the newspapers of the
time be true--in some instances shrank beneath their decks from the
terrific sight, and left their vessels to go on shore; whilst others
prostrated themselves, and besought Providence to protect them from the
approaches of the horrible monster which was marching on the tide, and
lighting its path by the fires that it vomited!"  The _Clermont_ became
a regular passenger boat on the Hudson; and the progress of steam
navigation continued to advance, until nearly all the navigable rivers
of the world, and the great ocean itself, were covered with these
clanking ships of commerce, which have added more to the comfort, the
wealth, and the power of man--the power of doing good as well as evil--
than the feeble human mind can conceive.


It was not until five years after the Americans set us the example that
we launched our first passenger steamboat, the _Comet_, a vessel of
about twenty-five tons, with engines of three horse-power.  This little
vessel was started by Henry Bell, of Helensburgh, on the Clyde.  It
began its career in 1812, and plied regularly for two years.

Like her predecessor the _Clermont_, she was regarded with no small
degree of scepticism, and with a large amount of surprise by the
thousands who saw her set forth.  Nevertheless, she soon proved her
value, became a successful speculation to her owners, and was ere long
followed by many other vessels of a similar kind.


In 1813 the _Argyle_ was launched.  This vessel was the first European
steamer that pushed out into the more dangerous navigation of the open
sea-coast.  She was purchased by a company in London.  On her passage
up, she was as nearly as possible wrecked on a lee-shore, but, by her
steam-power, was enabled to go straight against the wind, at the rate of
three and a half knots an hour, and so escaped.

One of the passengers has left us an interesting account of this
interesting voyage, from which we cull one or two paragraphs:

"The weather had now become so stormy and bad that our captain
determined to put in to the port of Wexford, his great object being to
navigate the vessel safely to London, rather than, by using great
despatch, to expose her to unnecessary risk.  We put to sea again at two
o'clock p.m., on May 30th, and steered for Saint David's Head, the most
westerly point of Wales.  During our passage across Saint George's
Channel, one of the blades of the starboard paddle-wheel became out of
order; the engine was stopped, and the blade cut away.  Some hours
afterwards, a similar accident happened to the other wheel, which was
remedied in the same manner.

"About two-o'clock in the afternoon, twelve hours after leaving Wexford,
we reached the pass of Ramsay.  We remained there for three hours, to
oil the engine, and to give the stoker, who had not quitted his post an
instant since leaving Wexford, a little rest.  In a short time several
boats were seen coming to our assistance, the idea prevailing here, as
at Wexford, that our vessel was on fire.  We landed on the island of
Ramsay, a most desolate spot, containing only one habitation; we,
however, procured some bread, butter, milk, cheese, and ale, with which
we returned to the vessel, and commenced steaming through the straits,
and across Saint Bride's Bay.

"The weather had now become unfavourable, and the sea ran alarmingly
high in the bay.  On the south side of Saint Bride's Bay, between Skomar
Island and the mainland, is a nasty passage called Jack Sound.  Our
pilot warned us of the danger of attempting this passage, excepting at
high-water and with a favourable wind, as there were several formidable
whirlpools, which would seize the vessel and carry her on the rocks.
Captain Dodd, however, who knew the power of his engine, insisted on
going through the sound, in order to save five hours and another night
at sea.  The pilot repeated his remonstrances, at the same time
trembling for fear; but we passed through all the whirlpools with the
greatest ease.  Nothing, however, can be conceived more frightful than
the aspect of some of the rocks, and especially of those called the
Bishop and his Clerks.  Had we been in a sailing vessel, our position
would have been most perilous; but our steam was all-powerful, and
brought us safely to Milford Haven.

"We put to sea again late on the evening of the 31st, and on Friday
morning we were in the middle of the Bristol Channel, with no land
visible; but towards evening we discovered the high coast that
terminates England in the west.  As the weather, however, again assumed
a gloomy aspect, our new pilot judged that it would be imprudent that
night to double Land's End, so we shaped our course towards Saint Ives.

"On approaching the shore, we perceived a crowd of small vessels making
towards us with all possible rapidity, by means of oars and sails.
Here, as elsewhere, the alarm was taken, on seeing a vessel, judged to
be on fire, steering towards the town, and all the disposable craft
immediately put to sea.  All the rocks commanding Saint Ives were
covered with spectators; and when we entered the harbour, the aspect of
our vessel appeared to occasion as much surprise amongst the inhabitants
as the ships of Captain Cook must have produced on his first appearance
amongst the islanders of the South Seas.

"Another night passed, a night of storm and danger, but the little
_Thames_ (the vessel had been renamed by the new company who purchased
her) behaved nobly, and next day reached Plymouth.  Here," continues the
narrative, "the harbour-master, who had never seen a steam-vessel
before, was as much struck with astonishment, when he boarded the
_Thames_, as a child is on getting possession of a new plaything.  He
steered the vessel, and we passed round several ships of war in the
sound.  The sailors ran in crowds to the sides of their vessels as we
passed them, and, mounting the rigging, gave vent to their observations
in a most amusing manner.

"We left Plymouth at noon on the following day, and steamed without
interruption to Portsmouth, where we arrived on Friday, June 9th, having
accomplished one hundred and fifty miles in twenty-three hours.  At
Portsmouth astonishment and admiration were, if possible, more strongly
evinced than elsewhere.  Tens of thousands of spectators were assembled
to gaze on the _Thames_; and the number of vessels that crowded around
us was so great, that it became necessary to request the admiral to give
us a guard to preserve some degree of order.

"We entered the harbour in the most brilliant style, steaming in, with
the assistance of wind and tide, at the rate of from twelve to fourteen
miles an hour.  A court-martial was at the time sitting on board the
_Gladiator_ frigate; but the novelty of our steamboat presented an
irresistible attraction, and the whole court came off to us, excepting
the president, who was obliged by etiquette to retain his seat until the
court was regularly adjourned.  On Saturday, June 10th, the port-admiral
sent his band and a guard of marines at an early hour on board; and soon
afterwards he followed, accompanied by three admirals, eighteen
post-captains, and a large number of ladies.  The morning was spent in
steaming amongst the fleet, and running over to the Isle of Wight.  From
Portsmouth we proceeded to Margate, which we reached on Sunday morning.
Here we remained until the following day, when we embarked for our final
trip, at half-past eight in the morning; and about six in the evening
arrived at Limehouse, where we moored."

We have entered thus at considerable length into this voyage, because,
besides being the first steam sea-voyage, it serves to exhibit very
distinctly how great and how rapid has been the progress of
steam-navigation within the last fifty years.  In reading such an
account as this, in these days of "ocean mail-steamers" and "Great
Easterns," we can scarcely believe that in it reference is made, not to
the middle ages, but to the year 1813.


After that momentous era when steam was first successfully applied to
useful purposes, human progress and improvement in all departments of
science and art seemed to have been hooked on to it, and to have
thenceforth rushed roaring at its tail, with truly "railroad speed,"
towards perfection!

Scarce had the first model steamboat splashed with its ungainly "blades"
the waters of a pond, than river traffic by means of steamboats began.
And no sooner had this been proved to be a decided success, than daring
schemes were laid to rush over the ocean itself on wheels.  Men were not
long about it, after the first start was made.  Their intellectual steam
was up, and the whirl of inventive effort racked the brains of engineers
as the wheels of their steamboats tortured the waters of the deep.

And here again the name of Fulton comes into notice.  Early in 1814 he
conceived the idea of constructing a steam-vessel of war, which should
carry a strong battery with furnaces for red-hot shot.  Congress
authorised the building of such a ship, and before the end of the same
year it was launched.  Fulton died the following year, but the fame of
that enterprising engineer will never die.

The new vessel received the rather quaint title of _Fulton the First_.
She consisted of two boats joined together.  Those who were appointed by
Congress to examine her and report, gave the following account of this
curious man-of-war:

"She is a structure resting on two boats and keels, separated from end
to end by a channel fifteen feet wide and sixty-six feet long.  One boat
contains the caldrons of copper to prepare her steam; the cylinder of
iron, its piston, lever, and wheels, occupy part of the other.  The
water-wheel revolves in the space between them.  The main or gun-deck
supports the armament, and is protected by a parapet four feet ten
inches thick, of solid timber, pierced by embrasures.  Through thirty
port-holes as many thirty-two pounders are intended to fire red-hot
shot, which can be heated with great safety and convenience.  Her upper
or spar-deck, upon which several thousand men might parade, is
encompassed by a bulwark, which affords safe quarters.  She is rigged
with two stout masts, each of which supports a large lateen yard and
sails.  She has two bowsprits and jibs, and four rudders--one at each
extremity of each boat; so that she can be steered with either end
foremost.  Her machinery is calculated for the addition of an engine
which will discharge an immense column of water, which it is intended to
throw upon the decks and through the port-holes of the enemy, and
thereby deluge her armament and ammunition.

"If, in addition to all this, we suppose her to be furnished, according
to Mr Fulton's intention, with hundred-pound columbiads, two suspended
from each bow, so as to discharge a ball of that size into an enemy's
ship ten or twelve feet below her water-line, it must be allowed that
she has the appearance, at least, of being the most formidable engine
for warfare that human ingenuity has contrived."

She certainly was; and even at the present time the _Fulton the First_
would cut no insignificant figure if placed alongside our gunboats,
floating-batteries, and steam-frigates.

It is not easy to get intelligent men to believe in things that savour
of the marvellous; yet there seems to be a point past which, if once a
man be got, he will go on to believe almost anything, no matter how
absurd.  In those days few people in Europe would credit the truth of
this ship's proportions; but when, in the course of time and from
indubitable testimony, they were compelled to believe, they flew to the
opposite extreme of incredulity and believed anything, as the following
curiously comical paragraph will show.  It is said to have appeared in a
Scotch treatise on steamships, and is intended for a "full, true, and
particular account" of this monstrous American man-of-war steamer.
After giving her dimensions three times larger than they were in
reality, the author continues:--"The thickness of her sides is thirteen
feet of alternate oak plank and cork wood.  She carries forty-four guns,
four of which are hundred pounders; quarter-deck and forecastle guns,
forty-four pounders: and further, to annoy an enemy attempting to board,
can discharge one hundred gallons of boiling water in a minute; and, by
mechanism, brandishes three hundred cutlasses with the utmost regularity
over her gunwales; works also an equal number of heavy iron spikes of
great length, darting them from the sides with prodigious force, and
withdrawing them every quarter of a minute!"  This vessel, although
probably intended for an ocean-steamer, was never used as such.  But not
long after, a vessel propelled by steam ventured to cross the Atlantic,
and thus became the parent of commercial steam navigation.  This vessel


Unfortunately, little information as to this, the first ocean-steamer,
has been chronicled.

She was launched at New York on the 22nd of August 1818, and in the
following year made her first voyage to Savannah, from which she sailed
for Liverpool soon after, and crossed the Atlantic in twenty-five days--
during eighteen of which she used her engines.

The _Savannah_ was about 350 tons burden, and was on this occasion
commanded by Captain Moses Rodgers.  She was fitted with machinery for
taking in her wheels in stormy weather, which was found to work
admirably; and she is mentioned as having been seen on the ocean going
at the rate of nine or ten knots.

From Liverpool this steamer went to Saint Petersburg, and afterwards
returned to Savannah in safety.

This was the insertion of the wedge.  Our own country did not follow the
lead until 1838, when the good people of New York were thrown into a
state of excitement by the arrival of two steamers, the _Sirius_ and the
_Great Western_, from England.  So long a time had elapsed since the
voyage of the _Savannah_ that men had well-nigh forgotten it, and were
disposed to regard these vessels as the _first_ ocean-steamers.  Indeed,
some narrow-minded and ungenerous writers have asserted that they _were_
the first--totally ignoring the prior claim of the _Savannah_.

From that period ocean-steamers began to run frequently across the
Atlantic.  They now do so regularly, as well as to nearly all other
parts of the world.


The improvements which have taken place during recent years in
ocean-going steamships have been great and rapid.  The speed attained by
some of these magnificent vessels is little short of marvellous.  Many
persons still living can recollect the time when the voyage to Australia
in a sailing vessel lasted six months.  What is now the state of
matters?  By more than one line of steamships the traveller may reach
Sydney or Melbourne within forty days.  A recent voyage of the _Orient_,
one of the latest and finest additions to ocean steamships, merits more
than a passing notice.  The _Lusitania_, which belongs to the same line,
steamed from England to Australia in less than forty days, and the feat
was regarded as a great one.  But the _Lusitania_ has been far
outmatched by her sister-ship the _Orient_, which has actually
accomplished the same voyage in thirty-five days, fifteen hours, and
forty-six minutes.  From Plymouth to the Cape of Good Hope took the
_Orient_ only seventeen days twenty-one hours.  This is the fastest
speed on record.  Whether it is the maximum rate possible to ocean
steamships, or whether it is destined to be surpassed by a still higher
degree of speed, remains to be seen.  Many persons are of opinion that
the increased facilities of speed which are now within reach of
travellers on long voyages will gradually lead to the total disuse of
sailing ships for passenger traffic.  It may be so, but there are still
not a few who would prefer a sailing to a steam ship for a long sea
voyage, notwithstanding its so greatly inferior rate of speed.  But
nowadays everything must be sacrificed to _time_.  "Time flies," is at
present the motto of most instant and potent power with the world; but
the day is perhaps not far off when the fiat, "Thus far, and no
farther," must be pronounced not only on the speed of steamships, but on
the breathless rush and hurry of the age in general.


Undoubtedly one of the most remarkable craft afloat is the Russian
Czar's steam-yacht the _Livadia_.  To a Scotch shipbuilding firm belongs
the credit of having constructed this unique and splendid vessel, and it
is certainly a feather in the cap of Messrs. Elder and Company, the
well-known Glasgow shipbuilders, from whose yard the _Livadia_ was
launched in July 1880.

One would imagine that the highest point of comfort and luxuriousness
has been reached in the accommodation offered by the _Livadia_; but this
is far from being the only or even the chief respect in which the vessel
is remarkable.  She is notable from a purely nautical point of view--
being the outcome of principles that may be said almost to revolutionise
all pre-existing ideas of shipbuilding, though something like the same
principle may be found in the circular ironclads of Admiral Popoff.

Hitherto the plan which naval architects have followed, where the
desideratum was exceptional speed, was to give the vessel in course of
construction length in combination with as fine lines and as perfect
proportion as possible.  But in the case of an imperial pleasure-boat,
like the _Livadia_, it was an object to obtain an ampler and more
drawing-room like accommodation than is compatible with length,
narrowness of beam, and fine lines; and the constructors of the Czar's
new yacht have succeeded in securing not only this internal spaciousness
and comfort, but also a satisfactory degree of speed.

It was to the united exertions of Admiral Popoff of the Russian navy,
and Dr Tideman of the royal dockyard, Amsterdam, that the design of the
_Livadia_ was due.  It is not easy in words to convey a distinct
impression of this curiously-shaped craft, but our description will, we
hope, give the reader a pretty correct idea of the vessel.

The constructors of the _Livadia_, it is believed, chose a turbot as
their model for the hull; and in thus taking a flat fish as a suggestion
for their vessel, the builders, as a recent writer on the subject points
out, followed no extravagant, though certainly a novel, fancy.  In broad
terms the _Livadia_ may be described as a wide and shallow oval in
shape, half submerged, while over this turbot-shaped raft a
superstructure is erected, somewhat similar in appearance to an ordinary
vessel, and comprising large, lofty, and sumptuous saloons and other

The _Livadia_ is 260 feet long, 150 feet broad, and 50 feet deep.  She
is 11,609 tons burden, and her displacement 4000.  The two leading
merits of the _Livadia_, due to its peculiar construction, are--first,
that its frame can support a superstructure of almost palatial
proportions such as would founder any other vessel; and second, that its
great breadth of beam keeps the ship as steady as a ship can possibly
be, while, at the same time, its lower lines secure a very good degree
of speed.

The _Livadia_ possesses powerful propelling engines.  There are three
sets of these, each with three cylinders, the diameter being sixty
inches for the high pressure, and seventy-eight inches for the low, with
a stroke of three feet three inches.  As much strength and lightness as
possible have been secured for the propellers by constructing them of
manganese iron; while steel has been largely employed for the engines
and boilers, which are, for their weight, the most powerful possessed by
any vessel.  The estimated horse-power is 10,500, and the ship, under
favourable conditions, can make fifteen knots an hour.

The double water-tight bottom of the _Livadia_ is three feet six inches
deep at the centre, and two feet nine inches at each end.  In this
turbot-like lower part is the machinery, and it is the receptacle also
for coals and stores of all kinds.  The twofold bottom of the ship
comprises forty compartments, and the whole is sufficiently strong, it
is believed, to withstand the heaviest weather to which the yacht is
likely to be exposed, as well as the strain of her powerful machinery.

The entire length of the upper part of the ship, in which are the
imperial apartments, and the quarters of the officers and crew, is 260
feet, and the breadth 110 feet.  The crew all told numbers 260.  The
private apartments of the Czar himself are forward on the main-deck,
well away from the heat of the engines and the smell of the machinery.
A visitor to the ship is chiefly struck, perhaps, by the height to which
the decks rise above the hull, the uppermost compartment of all being
fitted out as a reception saloon, in the centre of which a little
fountain rises out of a bed of flowers.  This portion of the vessel is
forty feet above the level of the sea.  The apartment is luxuriously
appointed in the fashion of the reign of Louis XVI.  The drawing-room is
furnished in a style of equal sumptuousness, in the Crimean Tartar
style; but the rest of the imperial apartments are in a simpler order of
decoration.  Behind the funnels there is another deck-house, containing
the captain's quarters and rooms for the Grand Duke Constantine.  It
will thus be seen that the _Livadia_ is literally a floating palace,
equipped and decorated with that almost Eastern love of sumptuous
display which characterises the Russians as a people.

All the three screws with which the _Livadia_ is furnished are wholly
submerged in the water--another novelty in the construction of the
vessel.  One or even two of these screws might suffer serious injury and
the ship still remain manageable.

It is not wonderful that the launch of a craft, at once so splendid and
so curious, should have caused much interest and excitement in the
neighbourhood in which it took place.  A distinguished company witnessed
the ceremony, while the crowd which lined the banks of the river Clyde
numbered 10,000.  A short service was conducted by three priests of the
Greek Church, and the bows of the vessel were then sprinkled with holy
water.  After the conclusion of this ceremony, the yacht received her
name from the Duchess of Hamilton, and was then launched.  The launch
was a complete success, the _Livadia_ taking the water in gallant style,
though the task was one of more than ordinary difficulty from the
circumstance of the great breadth of the ship's keel-less bottom, which
much increased the friction to be overcome.  At the luncheon which
concluded the day's proceedings, Mr Pearce, the chairman, who
represented the firm of Elder and Company, stated that the principle
adopted in the building of the _Livadia_ would probably be more useful
in the case of ships of war than of merchant vessels, but that builders
of the latter might also derive valuable hints from the construction of
the new ship.  Whether this will prove to be the case time has yet to

A most interesting discovery of a Norse war-ship has recently been made
at Sandefjord in Norway.  The vessel, there can be no doubt, is one of
the kind in which those formidable buccaneers, the Norsemen, used to
harry the coasts of Great Britain and France ten hundred years ago.  It
was found buried in the ground, and seems to have been the sepulchre of
some great Viking chieftain, who had probably many a time sailed forth
in it to the terror and detriment of some less warlike and powerful

The ship is unusually large, and very completely equipped.  Its length
is about seventy-five feet; and sails, rigging, a number of shields and
other instruments of battle, were found on board.



The _Great Eastern_ steamship deserves to be regarded as the eighth
wonder of the world, beyond all question.  She is at present by far the
largest vessel in the world, and is the most magnificent creation of
naval architecture that was ever launched upon the sea.

The substance of the following account of this interesting ship has been
gathered principally from the Times and the Illustrated London News for
1859, the year in which the _Great Eastern_ was launched, and from a
pamphlet which was sold on board, by permission of the proprietors.

The _Great Eastern_ was intended for the Indian and Australian route by
the Cape of Good Hope.  The result of large experience in steam
navigation has proved that the size of the ship, (when steam is used),
ought to be in proportion to the length of the voyage.  Mr Brunel, the
talented engineer to whose genius and perseverance this monster ship
owes her existence, acting on this principle, calculated that the voyage
to Australia and back being 22,500 miles--a vessel of 22,500 tons
burden, (or a ton burden for every mile to be steamed), would require to
be built, capable of carrying fuel for the entire voyage, it being
impossible, without incurring enormous expense, to procure coal for such
a vessel at intermediate ports.

The Eastern Steam Navigation Company undertook the herculean work.  The
total cost of construction was estimated at 804,522 pounds.  Mr Brunel
prepared the designs.  A spot of ground was chosen on the banks of the
Thames, in the building-yard of the company at Millwall, and the
building was commenced, on the lines laid down by Mr Scott Russell, on
the 1st of May 1854.

Every minute detail of the arrangements and building of this wonder of
the world is fraught with interest.  The mere preparing of the ground to
receive her enormous weight was calculated to fill the minds of men with
astonishment.  Her supports and scaffoldings, and the machinery by which
she was ultimately launched, taxed the skill of her engineers even more
than her construction.  A very town of workshops, foundries, and forges
sprang into being round her hull; and as this rose, foot by foot, in all
its gigantic proportions, the surrounding edifices dwindled down into
insignificance, and the busy population of artificers clustered upon her
like ants upon a prostrate monarch of the forest-trees.

The hull of the _Great Eastern_ is built entirely of iron, and is 680
feet in length, 83 feet in breadth, and 60 feet in height from keel to
deck.  It is divided transversely into ten separate compartments of 60
feet each, rendered perfectly water-tight by bulk-heads, having no
openings whatever lower than the second deck; whilst two longitudinal
walls of iron, 36 feet apart, traverse 350 feet of the length of the

The mind will be better able to realise the magnitude of these
dimensions if we add that the _Great Eastern_ is six times the size of
the Duke of Wellington line-of-battle ship, that her length is more than
three times the height of the Monument, while her breadth is equal to
the width of Pall Mall, and a promenade round the deck affords a walk of
more than a quarter of a mile.

There is no keel properly so called, but in its place a flat keel-plate
of iron, about two feet wide and one inch thick, which runs the entire
length from stem to stern.  This is the base upon which all the rest is
reared, plates and girders alike.  The iron plates which form her
planking are three-quarters of an inch thick.  Up to the water-mark the
hull is constructed with an inner and outer skin, two feet ten inches
apart, both skins being made of three-quarter inch plates, except at the
bottom, where the plates are an inch thick; and between these, at
intervals of six feet, run horizontal webs of iron plates, which bind
the two skins together, and thus it may be said that the lower part of
the hull is two feet ten inches thick.

This mode of construction adds materially to the safety of the vessel;
for, in the event of a collision at sea, the outer skin might be pierced
while the inner might remain intact.  This space may also at any time be
filled with water, and thus ballast, to the amount of 2500 tons, be

Some idea of the magnitude and weight of the vessel may be formed from
the fact that each iron plate weighs about the third of a ton, and is
fastened with a hundred iron rivets.  About thirty thousand of these
plates were used in her construction, and three million rivets.  The
fastening of these rivets was one among the many curious operations
performed in course of building.  The riveting men were arranged in
gangs, each gang consisting of two riveters, one holder-up, and three
boys.  Two boys were stationed at the fire or portable forge, and one
with the holder-up.  This boy's duty was to receive the red-hot rivet
with his pincers from the boy at the forge, and insert it in the hole
destined for its reception, the point protruding about an inch.  The
holder-up immediately placed his heavy hammer against the head of the
rivet, and held it firmly there, while the two riveters assailed it in
front with alternate blows, until the countersunk part of the hole was
filled up, after which the protruding head was cut off smooth with the
plate, the whole operation scarce occupying a minute.  In riveting the
double part of the ship the holder-up and his boy were necessarily in
the interior part of the tubes, and passed the whole day in the narrow
space between, (of two feet ten inches wide), in comparative darkness,
having only the glimmer afforded by a single dip candle, and being
immediately under the deafening blows of the riveters.

The _deck_ of the _Great Eastern_ is double, or cellular, after the plan
of the Britannia Tubular Bridge.  The upper deck runs flush and clear
from stem to stern, and he who takes four turns up and down it from stem
to stern walks upwards of a mile.  The strength of this deck is so
enormous that if the ship were taken up by its two extremities, with all
its cargo, passengers, coals, and provisions on board, it would sustain
the whole.  The deck has been covered with teak planking, and has been
planed and scrubbed to man-of-war whiteness.  Not even a stray rope's
end breaks the wonderful effect produced by its immense expanse.  Her
fleet of small boats, which are about the size of sailing cutters, hang
at the davits, ten on each side.  There are six masts and five funnels.
The three centre square-rigged masts are of iron.  They were made by Mr
Finch of Chepstow, and are the finest specimens of masts of the kind
that were ever manufactured.  Each is made of hollow wrought iron in
eight-feet lengths, strengthened inside by diaphragms of the same
material.  Between the joints, as they were bolted together, was placed
a pad of vulcanised india-rubber, which gives a spring and buoyancy to
the whole spar greater than wood, while at the same time it retains all
the strength of the iron.  The other masts are made of wood, and the
canvas that can be spread is no less than 6500 square yards.  On deck
are four small steam winches or engines, each of which works a pair of
cranes on both sides of the vessel; and with these five thousand tons of
coals can be hoisted into the vessel in twenty-four hours.

The _engines_ and boilers are of immense power and magnitude.  There are
both screw and paddle engines, the former being capable of working up to
6500 horse-power, the latter to 5000.  There are ten boilers and one
hundred and twelve furnaces.  The paddle engines, which were made by
Messrs. Scott Russell and Company, stand nearly 40 feet high.  Each
cylinder weighs about 28 tons, and each paddle-wheel is 58 feet in
diameter, or considerably larger than the ring in Astley's Circus.  The
screw engines were manufactured by Messrs. Watt and Company of
Birmingham.  They consist of four cylinders of 84 inches diameter and 4
feet stroke.  The screw propeller is 24 feet in diameter and 37 feet
pitch; and the engine-shaft is 160 feet long, or 12 feet longer than the
height of the Duke of York's Column.  The paddles and screw, when
working together at their highest pitch, exert a force equal to 11,500
horsepower, which is sufficient to drive all the cotton-mills in
Manchester!  The consumption of coal to produce this force is estimated
at about 250 tons per day.

Besides these engines there are also several auxiliary engines for
pumping water into the boilers, etcetera.

The passenger accommodation in the _Great Eastern_ is very extensive--
namely, 800 first-class, from 2000 to 4000 second-class, and about 1200
third-class passengers; or if troops alone were taken, it could
accommodate 10,000 men.

The _saloons_ are fitted up in the most elaborate and costly manner.
The chief saloon is magnificently furnished.  It is said that the
mirrors, gilding, carpeting, and silk curtains for this apartment alone
cost 3000 pounds.  In the berths, of course, no attempt is made at
costly decoration of this kind, though the fittings are good and
sufficiently luxurious.  The berths are arranged in three classes: those
for parties of six or eight, and these are large rooms; those for
parties of four; and the rest in the usual style of double cabins.  All
are very roomy, as cabins go--very lofty, well lit, and those on the
outer sides exceedingly well ventilated.  On the lower deck the berths
are even larger, loftier, and more commodious than those on the upper.
Both the berths and saloons here are in fact almost unnecessarily high,
having very nearly fifteen feet in the clear.  The kitchens, pantries,
and sculleries are all on the same extensive scale, and fitted with all
the large culinary requisites of first-class hotels.  The ice-house
holds upwards of 100 tons of ice; and the lofty wine-vaults--for such in
fact they are--contain wine enough to form a good freight for an Oporto

_Miscellanea_.--In addition to the boats of the _Great Eastern_ (twenty
in number), she carries two small screw-steamers, each 100 feet long, 16
feet broad, 120 tons burden, and 40 horse-power, suspended aft of the

As the captain's voice could not be heard half-way to the bow, even with
the aid of the ancient speaking-trumpet, that instrument is supplanted
by _semaphore_ signals by day, and _coloured_ lamps by night; the
_electric telegraph_ is also used in connection with the engine-rooms.
There are ten _anchors_, four of them being Trotman's patent, weighing
seven tons each.  The _cables_ are each 400 fathoms long, and their
united weight is 100 tons.  The _tonnage_ of the _Great Eastern_ is
18,500 tons register, and 22,500 tons builders' measurement.  The _crew_
at first consisted of thirteen officers, seventeen engineers, a
sailing-master, and a purser, four hundred men, and two or three
surgeons, all under the command of the late Captain W. Harrison,
(formerly of the Cunard line).

The _launch_ of this leviathan was a most formidable undertaking, and
was accomplished by means of powerful hydraulic rams, which propelled
the vessel down the launching "ways."  The ship rested on two gigantic
cradles, and was forced sideways down the inclined plane, until she
floated on the river.  By a complication of ingenious contrivances the
great ship was regulated in her descent so as to proceed slowly and
regularly down the ways.  Several unsuccessful attempts were made to
launch her, and several of the hydraulic rams broke down ere she floated
on the bosom of Old Father Thames; and the cost of this operation alone
is said to have been nearly 100,000 pounds.

The _trial of the engines_, both screw and paddle, took place for the
first time on the 8th of August 1859, when the completion of the vessel
was celebrated by a banquet on board.  The first movement of the
gigantic cranks and cylinders of the paddle engines was made precisely
at half-past one, when the great masses slowly rose and fell as
noiselessly as the engines of a Greenwich boat, but exerting in their
revolutions what seemed to be an almost irresistible power.  There was
no noise, no vibration, nor the slightest sign of heating.  The
tremendous frame of ironwork sprang at once into life and motion, with
as much ease as if every rod and crank had been worked for the last ten

The _trial trip_ of the _Great Eastern_ was an event that excited
intense interest all over the kingdom.  For the first time, she cast off
her moorings on Wednesday morning, (the 7th September), and reached the
Nore on Thursday, where she anchored for the night before proceeding to
sea.  On Friday morning, at ten minutes past nine, she started on her
first salt-water voyage.  A conviction of the extreme steadiness of the
vessel must speedily have seized everyone on board.  There was no
perceptible motion of any kind.  The giant ship was speedily surrounded
by yachts, tugs, fishing-smacks, and, indeed, by a representative of
almost every kind of vessel which is prevalent at the Nore.  These
accompanied her as far on her way as their limited sailing powers would
permit.  Although there were sharp squalls and a chopping sea nearly all
through the trip, not the slightest inconvenience was felt by any of the
visitors, not even among the fairer portion of the passengers.  The
morning, which was rather fine at starting, suddenly became clouded, and
the shifting squalls increased in violence.  Though the squally state of
the weather damped the pleasure of all on board, yet it afforded an
opportunity of trying the properties of the ship, now under paddle as
well as screw; and it was the wish of Mr Scott Russell and all on board
to meet a good gale of wind.  At a moderate computation, the distance
from the deck to the water could not be much less than forty feet, while
the vessel is nearly seven hundred feet long.  This area would, of
course, present an enormous surface to the force of the wind, and formed
the subject of considerable discussion as to the effect it would have on
her sea-going qualities.  The ship was as stiff and steady as though she
still remained on her cradles in the Isle of Dogs, and her course was as
calm and true as though she were on a lake without a capful of wind.

It is said that at one portion of the voyage she steamed nineteen miles
an hour.

The _explosion_.--All went well till the ship had passed Folkestone.
About half-past five o'clock, while the majority of the passengers were
on deck, and a few gentlemen only remained in the dining saloon, a
tremendous explosion occurred, and in an instant showers of broken
glass, and fragments of wood and iron, came crashing through the
skylight.  Those in the cabin rushed on deck.  The ship was still
pressing onward; at either end all was still and deserted, while in the
centre all was smoke, fire, vapour, and confusion.  The great funnel, of
eight tons weight, had been shot up as if from a mortar, and fell on the
deck broken in two pieces.  The whole centre of the ship seemed to be
only one vast chasm, and from it were belching up steam, dust, and
something that looked like incipient conflagration.  Captain Harrison
acted nobly on this terrible occasion.  He had been standing on the
bridge overhead, looking into the binnacle, and the moment he heard the
report, and whilst the destructive shower was still falling fast, he
jumped upon the deck, and ordered an immediate descent to the ladies'
saloon, in the firm conviction that they were all there as on the
previous evening.  But many of the men were panic-stricken, and had
already shrunk away from the explosion.  A foolish passenger had raised
a cry of "The boats," and, assisted by some of the sailors, was madly
attempting to let them down.  In one moment all would have been lost;
for the rush to the boats would have been general, and hundreds been
drowned, whilst the noble ship would have been left to certain
destruction.  But the voice of the captain was heard like a trumpet,
calling out, "Men, to your duty; officers, to your posts; give me a
rope, and let six men follow me!"  The effect of this short address was
electric.  In an instant he had slid down the rope into the saloon,
followed by his brave boatswain Hawkins, and six volunteers were not
long wanted for the forlorn hope.  One after another he dashed open the
gilded panels; but the splendid apartment had, strange to say, only two
inhabitants,--his little daughter Edith, and her pet dog.  It was the
reward of his gallantry that his own child should be thus the one to be
so providentially saved.  But even then he did not for a moment lose his
self-command.  Snatching up the child, and with one glance seeing that
she was unharmed, he exclaimed, "Pass her along to the deck; there are
more rooms to be searched."  In this way did he move about rapidly, but
coolly, and did not again return to the deck until he had satisfied
himself that not a single woman was in the burning, steaming,
suffocating chamber.  His intimate friend, Mr Trotman, who had followed
him down almost immediately, found the poor lap-dog moaning under a heap
of ruins, and was the means of restoring it to its little mistress.

The magnificent saloon was a mass of torn and shattered furniture,
mirrors, and ornaments.  Had the passengers adjourned to this apartment
after dinner, instead of to the deck, the consequences would have been

An eye-witness describes the scene of devastation as follows:--

"The mirrors which formed the covering of the funnel which had been the
cause of so much mischief were literally smashed to atoms, and large
fragments of the broken glass were hurled upon deck, a long distance aft
of the paddle-wheels.  The ornamental bronzed columns which supported
the gilt cornices and elaborate ornamentation, were either struck down
or bent into the most fantastic shapes; the flooring, consisting of
three-inch planks, was upheaved in several places; the gangways leading
to the sleeping-cabins at the sides were shot away; the handrails were
gone, and the elegant carpet was concealed beneath a chaos of fragments
of finery.  The books on the shelves of the library remained unmoved;
the piano was thrown on one side; and the floor presented huge upheaved
and rent chasms, through which might be seen the still greater ruin in
the lower cabin.  Below the saloon, or drawing-room, is the saloon of
the lower deck, which was, of course, traversed by the same funnel as
the one above it.  On each side of these spacious saloons were small
staircases leading to blocks of sleeping-cabins, scarcely one of which
would have been without its two or more occupants a few hours later in
the evening.  They were now blown down like a house of cards.  The
furniture which they contained formed heaps of dislocated chairs, and
wash-stands, and basins; the doors were off their hinges, the partitions
were forced outward, the staircases leading to them had to be sought in
the splinters and broken wood which lay in heaps in the lower saloon."

The unhappy men who were working in the stoke-holes and tending the
furnaces were the sufferers by this catastrophe.  Believing that one of
the boilers had exploded, fears were entertained that the whole body of
stokers and engineers attending the paddle engines were killed.  Mr
Trotman went down the air-shaft communicating with the other boilers.
Seeing by the light of the furnaces a number of men moving about, he
inquired if they were all right, and the response sent up from these
lowest depths of the ship was, "All right at present, but we don't know
how long."  They were told to keep quiet, and stay where they were; that
they could be of no service on deck, and all would be well in a few
minutes.  The gallant fellows remained by their fiery furnaces with
resolute good-will.  In the case of the firemen tending the other set of
boilers a very different scene was taking place.  Ropes were thrown
down, and, one by one, wounded, bleeding, and staggering men were drawn
up, their black, begrimed faces forming a ghastly contrast with scalded
portions of their limbs and bodies.  The men were taken aft to the
hospital, and to the cabins, where mattresses and blankets were laid for

Two or three of these poor fellows walked up to the deck almost, if not
quite, unassisted.  Their aspect told its own tale, and none who had
ever seen blown-up men before could fail to know at a glance that some
had only two or three hours to live.  Where not grimed by the smoke or
ashes, the peculiar bright, soft whiteness of the face, hands, or
breast, told at once that the skin, though unbroken, had in fact been
boiled by the steam.  One man walked along, and seemed quite unconscious
that the flesh of his thighs, (most probably by the ashes from the
furnace), was burnt in deep holes.  To some one who came to his
assistance he said quietly, "I am all right.  There are others worse
than me; go and look after them."  This poor man was the first to die.
It was seen at once that but little hope existed for many, if not the
majority, of the sufferers, who were twelve in number.  Most of them
seemed very restless, and almost, if not quite, delirious; but a few of
those whose injuries were likely to be more immediately fatal remained
quiet, half unconscious, or at most only asking to be covered up, as if
they felt the cold.  For these latter all knew that nothing whatever
could be done, as, in fact, they were then dying.

The explosion had occurred in the double casing round the bottom of one
of the funnels.  We have not space to describe this minutely, and by the
general reader the description, were it given, would scarce be
understood; but it is well to remark that the piece of machinery which
caused the deplorable accident had been previously condemned in strong
terms by competent judges, and there is no doubt that the hot-water
casing round the funnel ought never to have been there.

After the catastrophe, the _Great Eastern_ kept on her course as though
nothing had happened, although the force of the explosion was sufficient
to have sent any other ship to the bottom.  The damage was estimated at
5000 pounds.  She arrived at Portland on the 10th, and remained there
for some time undergoing repairs.  Afterwards she continued her trial
trip to Holyhead, where she arrived on the 10th of October.  The results
of the trial, excepting, of course, the accident, were most
satisfactory.  Her speed under disadvantageous circumstances had been
good, and her engines had worked admirably.  Against a gale of head wind
she went as steadily as if in harbour, but with the wind a-beam she
rolled considerably.  Altogether there was good reason to hope that the
_Great Eastern_ would fulfil the sanguine expectations of her warmest

The following account of the continuation of her trial trip from
Portland to Holyhead, as gathered from the _Times_, is exceedingly
interesting:--When steam was up, and all ready for starting from
Portland, the crew were sent forward to heave up the anchor.  Eighty men
sufficed to drag the _Great Eastern_ up to and over her moorings.
Bringing the anchor out of the ground, however, was not so easily
managed; and it was not till all the musical resources known to sailors
on such occasions were nearly exhausted that the tenacious gripe of
Trotman's patent was released, when a slow drift with the tide showed
that the great ship was again set free.  In another minute, without
shouting, confusion, or hurry of any kind, and with less noise than is
made by a 100-ton coaster, a slight vibration through the ship, with a
thin line of foam astern, showed that the screw engines were at work and
the vessel once more under way.  With such ease, with such perfect
quietness and good order was everything accomplished, that the
occasional cheering from the yachts and steamers was almost the first
token given to those on board that the trial trip had commenced.  At a
quarter to four the "way" on the vessel was rapid; her head went round
like turning a pleasure-boat; and so little sign was given of the ship
being under steam, that it seemed rather as if the breakwater had got
adrift and was slowly floating past, than that the monster vessel was
really cleaving the blue waves with a force which, as yet, we have seen
no wind or sea to resist or check.  Directly the anchor was fished,
Captain Harrison passed the word to steam ahead with both engines
easily, and the wheels began their revolutions, slowly at first, but
nevertheless making a track of foam upon the water such as they never
made on the first start from Deptford to the Nore.  The accession of
speed from working the paddles was at first but slight; not from any
want of power, however, but simply from the fact that both engines were
ordered to work slowly, and though propelling the great ship at
something like eleven knots, were really scarcely driving at indicated

Quitting Portland, it was necessary to make rather a round turn on
leaving the breakwater, as right ahead on the starboard bow was a small
light-ship, looking like the skeleton of a vessel, and marking the
presence of a dangerous shoal, known by the most appropriate and
significant name of "The Shambles."  Inside this lay a long and turbid
ridge of angry water, where the Race of Portland ran, and where a deep
rolling swell, like the Bay of Biscay on a reduced scale, kept tumbling
and breaking into spray like drifts of snow against the high, gaunt
cliffs.  It, however, required no actual watching of the low green
mounds of water, which seemed butting against the coast, to convince all
on board that the _Great Eastern_ was at sea.  To the infinite relief
and comfort of all the passengers, the vessel began to yield to reason,
and to behave as much like another ship as she could consistently with
her size.  It would be too much to say she rolled at this time; for when
the _Great Eastern_ rolls, if ever she does roll, travellers may depend
upon her accomplishing something in that peculiar style of ocean
navigation quite in proportion to her bulk; but one thing is certain--
that she went from side to side sufficiently to show that she was
susceptible of the motion of the water, and that if ever she steams
across a beam sea, she is likely to move to it with a will, though
slowly and easily.

Continuing for a considerable time under little more than half steam,
the _Great Eastern_ averaged more than thirteen knots, (fifteen miles),
an hour.  The best guide to the rapidity of the ship's progress was the
way in which she passed fast-sailing schooners and overhauled the
steamers.  At this time nearly all the swell had ceased, and the monster
ship was rushing over what to her were the mimic waves, and leaving less
wake upon the waters than is caused in the Thames by a Gravesend boat.
The only peculiarity about her progress was the three distinct lines of
frothy water which the screw and paddles made, and which, stretching out
in the clear moonlight like a broad highway, seemed as if the _Great
Eastern_ had fulfilled her purpose, and really bridged the sea.

For a considerable part of the way the paddles were working easily at
from nine to ten, and the screw at from thirty-two to thirty-four
revolutions per minute.  It will give most readers a better idea of the
tremendous nature of the size and speed of the engines which worked so
easily, when it is said that, at ten revolutions, the paddle-wheels
dashed through the water at something like 1600 feet per minute, and the
screw revolved at 2500.  When accomplishing this, the consumption of
fuel was at the rate of 250 tons a day for both engines, the indicated
power being above 5000 horses--about 2000 horses for the paddles, and a
little over 3500 for the screw.  In order to secure her going at full
speed, however, under such circumstances, the great ship should have
been down by the stern at least eighteen inches more than she really
was, for not less than a foot of the screw-blades was out of the water,
and the slip or loss of power was of course very great.  Off the coast
of Cornwall, the swell caused her to roll very considerably, as long as
she was a-beam of the long swell.

Soon after this a small brig was seen right under the starboard bow.  As
usual with these small coasters, she was showing no light and keeping no
look-out, and but for the anxious vigilance exercised on board the big
ship, the brig would have been under the waves in two minutes more.  Her
escape was narrow enough, and nothing short of the instant stoppage of
the engines and actually reversing the screw saved her from swift
destruction.  She drifted from under the starboard paddle within twenty
yards--quite close enough to enable Captain Harrison to speak to her
master, and to express a very strong opinion on his style of navigation
and conduct generally.

Towards the close of the trip all the fore and aft sails were set.  The
look of her vast spread of canvas and the extraordinary effect it
produced, as one stood at the wheel-house and gazed beneath the long
vista of brown sails stretched to the very utmost, and sending off the
wind with the sustained roar of a volcano, was something almost
indescribable.  No mere description could convey a fair idea of the
curious effect of the long, unbroken avenue of masts, sails, and
funnels,--like a whole street of steamships, if such a term is fairly

The rate of going throughout the whole trip was very satisfactory.
Allowing for the want of trim on the part of the vessel, and consequent
absence of immersion in both screw and paddles, it was calculated from
this data, by all the nautical authorities on board, that, in proper
condition, the vessel might be depended on for eighteen miles an hour
throughout a long voyage, and under steam alone.  That in a strong and
favourable breeze she would at times accomplish eighteen knots, or more
than twenty-one miles an hour, there was no reason to doubt.

Among other tests to which the _Great Eastern_ was subjected was the
terrible storm of the 25th and 26th October of that year, (1859), in
which the _Royal Charter_ went down.  She lay at anchor in the harbour
of Holyhead during that storm.  So fierce was the gale that a large part
of the breakwater was destroyed, and several vessels went down inside
the harbour, while some were driven on shore.  For one hour the big ship
was as near destruction as she is ever likely to be.  Her salvation,
under God, was due to the experience and energy of Captain Harrison and
his officers.  During the whole gale the captain was on the watch,
sounding the lead to see if she dragged, and keeping the steam up to be
in readiness to put to sea at a moment's notice.  The gale roared and
whistled through the rigging with indescribable fury.  The captain, in
trying to pass along the deck, was thrown down, and his waterproof coat
was blown to ribbons.  The cabin skylights were thrown open with a
fearful crash, the glass broken, and deluges of rain and spray poured
into the saloons.  Two anchors were down, one seven tons, the other
three, with eighty and sixty fathoms of chain respectively; but the
ground was known to be bad, and the lee-shore rocky, while the waves
came curling and writhing into harbour, straining the cables to the
utmost, and dashing against the rocks like avalanches of snow.  The dash
of these billows on the breakwater was like the roar of artillery.  All
this time the red light at the end of the breakwater shone out cheerily
in the midst of a turmoil of spray.  At last masses of the timber-work
and solid masonry gave way.  The gale rose to its fiercest, and one huge
billow came rolling in; it towered high above the breakwater; it fell,
and the red light was seen no more.  The danger was now imminent.  The
cables could evidently bear no more, and the gale was increasing; so the
screw was set going, but the wreck of timber from the breakwater fouled
it and brought it to a dead-lock.  Then the wind veered round more to
the north-east, sending a tremendous swell into the harbour, and the
_Great Eastern_ began to roll heavily.  In this extremity the paddle
engines were set going, and the ship was brought up to her anchors, one
of which was raised for the purpose of being dropped in a better
position.  At this moment the cable of the other anchor parted, and the
great ship drifted swiftly toward what seemed certain destruction; but
the heavy anchor was let go, and the engines turned on full speed.  She
swung round head to wind, and was brought up.  This was the
turning-point.  The gale slowly abated, and the _Great Eastern_ was
saved, while all round her the shores and harbour were strewn with

After the gale the _Great Eastern_ started on her return trip to
Southampton, which she reached in safety on the morning of the 3rd
November.  In this, as in her previous experiences, the mighty ship was
well tested, and her good and bad points in some degree proved.  At the
very outset the steam gear for aiding in lifting the anchors broke down,
and one of the anchors refusing to let go, was broken in half.  The
condenser of the paddle engines seems to have been proved too small in
this trip.  For some time she went against a stiff head-wind and sea--
which is now well known to be the great ship's forte--with perfect
steadiness; but on getting into the channel she rolled slowly but
decidedly, as if bowing--acknowledging majestically the might of the
Atlantic's genuine swell.  Here, too, a wave actually overtopped her
towering hull, and sent a mass of _green_ water inboard!  But her roll
was peculiarly her own, and wonderfully easy.

The vessel made eighteen knots an hour.  She was under perfect command,
even in narrow and intricate channels, and, despite her varied mishaps
and trials, passed through this stormy period of her infancy with

_Disaster to "Great Eastern" in September 1861_.--Having made three
successful voyages to America, the Great Eastern, after all her
troubles, was beginning to establish her reputation, to confirm the
hopes of her friends and silence the cavils of her enemies, when the bad
fortune that has been her portion from the cradle once more overwhelmed
her, and shook, if it did not altogether destroy, the confidence in her
capabilities which the public had been beginning tardily to entertain.

There is nothing more difficult to ascertain than the true state of the
case--with reference to culpability, accidental circumstance, inherent
or incidental weakness, negligence, unavoidable risks, etcetera--in such
a disaster as that which happened to the great ship in September of
1861.  And nothing could be more unfair than to pass judgment on her
without a full knowledge of the minute particulars, and, moreover, a
pretty fair capacity to understand such details and their various
relations.  Before proceeding with the narrative of the event referred
to, we may remark that while, on the one hand, it may be argued, with
great plausibility, that her numerous disasters and misfortunes prove
that she is unfitted for the navigation of the sea, it may, on the other
hand, be argued, with equal plausibility, that the very fact of her
having come through such appalling trials unconquered, though buffeted,
is strong presumptive evidence that she is eminently fitted for her
work, and that, under ordinary circumstances and _proper_ management,
she would do it well.  It is believed that any other vessel afloat would
have been sunk had she been exposed to the same storm _under similar
circumstances_.  It must be borne in mind that, although other vessels
weathered the same storm successfully, they did not do so with their
rudder and rudder-posts gone, their captains and part of their crews new
to them, and their chain cables, cabin furniture, and other material
left as totally unsecured as if she had been a river steamer about to
start on a few hours' trip.

On Tuesday the 10th of September the _Great Eastern_ left Liverpool for
America with 400 passengers and a large, though not a full, general
cargo.  Between 100 and 200 of the passengers occupied the berths in the
principal cabins; the remainder of them occupied the intermediate and
steerage cabins.

All went on prosperously until the Thursday, when, as the ship was in
full steam and sail, she encountered a terrific gale about 280 miles to
the west of Cape Clear, and, in spite of the best seamanship, she failed
to ride over the storm, which, with tremendous fury, swept away both her
paddles.  Simultaneously the top of the rudder-post, a bar of iron ten
inches in diameter, was suddenly wrenched off, and her steering gear
being also carried away, she broached to and lay like a huge log in the
trough of the sea.  From Thursday evening until two o'clock on Sunday,
her bulwarks almost touching the water, she rolled about like a disabled
hulk, the passengers and crew expecting that she would every moment go
down.  The working and rolling of the vessel, at one instant of dread,
displaced and destroyed all the furniture of the cabin and saloons, and,
broke it to pieces, throwing the passengers pell-mell about the cabin.
Everything that occupied the upper deck was washed away, and a large
part of the passengers' luggage was destroyed.  Between twenty and
thirty of those who were on board, including several ladies, had limbs
and ribs fractured, with numerous cuts and bruises.  One of the
cow-sheds, with two cows in it, was washed into the ladies' cabin,
together with other things on board, and caused indescribable
consternation and confusion.

On Sunday evening, after two days of terrible suspense, a temporary
steering gear was fitted up, and the disabled vessel with her distressed
crew made for Cork Harbour, steaming with her screw at nine knots an
hour.  Her flag of distress was sighted at about three o'clock in the
afternoon of Tuesday, off the Old Head of Kinsale, and H.M. ship
_Advice_ at once steamed out to her assistance and towed her to within a
mile of the lighthouse off Cork Harbour by about nine o'clock.

Such is a general outline of this disaster--one which is rendered all
the more remarkable from the circumstance that the vessel had only been
recently surveyed by the officers of the marine department of the Board
of Trade, when new decks and other requirements were carried out and
completed at a cost of 15,000 pounds.

The scene during the storm in the grand saloon, as described in detail
by various passengers, was absolutely terrific.  None of the furniture
had been secured, and when the gale became violent and the rolling of
the vessel increased, sideboards, tables, chairs, stools, crockery,
sofas, and passengers were hurled with fearful violence from side to
side in a promiscuous heap.  When it is said that at each roll the top
platform of the paddle-boxes dipped into the sea, anyone who has seen
the towering sides of the _Great Eastern_ may form some conception of
the angle of the decks, and the riot of unfastened articles that
continued below during the greater part of the gale.  The destruction
was universal.  The largest mirror in the grand saloon, which was about
twelve feet high, was smashed to pieces by a gentleman going head
foremost into it.  Although much bruised and cut, strange to say he was
not seriously injured.  The chandeliers fell from the ceiling, and the
crashes they made in falling added to the general din.  One of the other
mirrors was smashed by a large stove.  Some of the passengers escaping
from the dining-room were dashed against the iron balconies, which gave
way with the pressure, and falling on the glass flooring at the sides,
dashed it to atoms.  The noise and turmoil of destruction below,
together with the howling of the tempest above and the dashing of spray
over the decks, whence it flowed in copious streams down into the
cabins, formed a scene which cannot be fully conceived except by those
who witnessed it.

On deck, the confusion was equally great and destructive.  Many of the
boats were carried away.  The great chain cables rolled from side to
side, until they were actually polished bright by the friction, while
they were a source of perpetual danger to the crew in the performance of
their duties.  The oil-tanks broke loose, and after tumbling about for a
time, fell down through the upper hatchway.  And the two cows that fell
with their cow-shed down into the ladies' cabin were killed by the
violence of the shock.  The chief cook was flung against one of the
paddle-boxes, and having put out his hand to save himself, had his wrist
sprained.  He was then flung towards the other side, and coming against
a stanchion in the way, had his leg fractured in three places.  One lady
had a rib fractured; another her shoulder dislocated; another her wrist.
These are only specimens, selected to show what the poor people were
subjected to.  It is said that there were twenty-two fractures
altogether, among passengers and crew, besides innumerable cuts and
bruises.  The cabins were flooded to the depth of several feet, and
broken articles of furniture floated about everywhere.  The luggage in
the luggage-room, which had not been secured, was hurled about, until
trunks, boxes, valises, etcetera, striking against each other, and
against the sides of the compartment, were utterly destroyed--the very
leather of the trunks being torn into small shreds.

Throughout all this terrible scene, the passengers behaved, with one or
two exceptions, admirably.  The ladies especially displayed great
courage--remaining, in accordance with the desires intimated to them, in
their cabins; while the gentlemen did their best to keep order.  On the
Friday, they appointed a sort of committee or police force, of upwards
of twenty strong, who took the duty in turns of going round the vessel,
keeping order, carrying information to, and reassuring, the ladies and
children.  Four only of these, who were called directors, had the
privilege of speaking to the captain during the storm--thus saving him
from the annoyance of repeated and ceaseless questioning.

The crew also did their duty nobly.  Captain Walker acted throughout
with calmness, courage, and good judgment; and from the tenor of
resolutions passed at an indignation meeting, held by the passengers
after their return into port, it would appear that they entirely
exonerated him from any blame in reference to the disaster.  The fitting
up of temporary steering gear, which was begun on the Sunday when the
storm moderated, was a work of great difficulty and danger.  It was
accomplished chiefly through the courage and cleverness of two men--John
Carroll and Patrick Grant--who volunteered for it, and were let down
over the stern at the imminent risk of their lives; and an American
gentleman, Mr Towle, a civil engineer, rendered great assistance in
superintending and directing the work.

It was not until two o'clock on Sunday morning that the vessel got up
steam in her screw boilers, and steered for Cork Harbour.  The whole of
the ironwork of both paddle-wheels was carried entirely away.  The
ladder leading up to the larboard paddle-box was twisted in an
extraordinary manner.  The boats on the starboard side were all gone,
and those on the other side were hanging loosely from their fastenings.
Altogether, the great ship presented a most melancholy spectacle as she
was towed into port.

At the meeting of the passengers already referred to, the first
resolution was expressive of their grateful acknowledgments to Almighty
God for his kind care in protecting them during the storm, and bringing
them in safety out of their danger.  The second condemned the directors,
and stated that "the _Great Eastern_ was sent to sea thoroughly
unprepared to face the storms which everyone must expect to meet with in
crossing the Atlantic; and that, if it had not been for the
extraordinary strength of the hull, and the skill which was manifested
in the construction of the vessel and its engines, in all human
probability every soul on board would have perished."

It has been said that if the ship had been more deeply laden she would
have weathered the gale more easily.  This, if true, is an argument in
her favour.  But in viewing the whole circumstances of this and previous
disasters, we cannot avoid being deeply impressed with the fact that the
_Great Eastern had not up to that time had fair play_.  In her
construction and general arrangements there have been some grave, and
numerous more or less trivial errors.  From first to last there has been
a good deal of gross mismanagement; but the _Great Eastern_ cannot, with
justice, be pronounced a failure.  Latterly she has done good service in
laying ocean telegraph-cables, a species of work for which she is
pre-eminently well adapted.  It is possible that she may yet live to
ride out many a wild Atlantic storm, and perchance become the first of a
race of ponderous giants who shall yet walk the deep,--to the utter
confusion of timid croakers, and to the immense advantage of the world.



"Many men, many minds," runs the proverb.  "Many nations, many ships,"
is almost equally true.  A nation may show its individuality in the
fashion of its marine architecture as much as in any other direction--
as, for instance, in its national dress, dwelling-houses, food,
amusements; and an ethnologist in studying a people's characteristics
may do wisely not to overlook its ships and boats.

Even in Europe, where an advanced civilisation may be supposed to be
slowly smoothing off national characteristics and peculiarities, and
gradually blending and amalgamating diverse national customs, there
still exists a considerable disparity in the marine architecture of
different states; while between the ships of Europe and those of some
parts of Asia the gulf is certainly broad enough, so that about the only
point of resemblance between an English ironclad and a Chinese junk is,
that both are manifestly better adapted for the sea than the land.  We
now propose describing some of the more curious craft peculiar to
various nations, beginning with Europe:

The Dutch galliot is a somewhat peculiar craft to the eye of an
Englishman; heavy and clumsy-looking beyond doubt, but a good sea-boat
notwithstanding.  The galliot looks much the same, whether you regard
her from stem or from stern, both being almost equally rounded.  Keel
she has scarce any; her floors are flat, hull broad and deep, and rudder
very wide.  Hung on each side is a large lee-board, to keep her from
making too much leeway.  Her hull is varnished a bright yellow colour,
and shines in the sun.  Her bulwarks are lofty; and a wooden house is
placed aft, where the captain and his family live, and which is always
kept brightly painted.  This part of the ship is a remarkably snug
place, comfortably furnished, and kept with the characteristic Dutch
cleanliness and neatness.  Forward is the caboose of the crew, a wide,
low, but roomy erection.

The galliot is rigged with square sails on her mainmast, a fore and aft
main-sail, a gaff mizzen and mizzen gaff top-sails, and a high bowsprit.
Her sails are sometimes white, sometimes tanned.  If the reader has
ever chanced to enter the port of Rotterdam, he will have encountered
plenty of examples of the craft we are describing; and if he did not
altogether approve or admire their shape, he must at least have been
struck by their remarkable cleanness and brightness.  A Dutch galliot
may be fifty, eighty, or even a hundred and fifty tons burden.  When the
Dutch build vessels of a larger size than this, they do so on very
similar lines to English merchantmen, though usually somewhat broader
and bluffer.

Off the coast of Portugal we meet with many different kinds of craft, of
which the trading schooners differ from almost any other kind of vessel.
Broad in the beam, and short in the counter, some are rounded at the
stem, some nearly square.  They are decked, and are from forty to one
hundred tons burden.  They are peculiarly rigged, having only lower
masts stepped at different angles.  The gaffs of the fore-sail, as well
as the main-sail, can be raised to different heights.  They have fore
stay-sail, jib and flying jib, gaff top-sails, and a large square sail
and square top-sails.  On the whole, they are ungainly-looking craft in
the extreme; but they are very capable sea-boats, and make voyages as
far as South America.

Mr W.H.G. Kingston gives a graphic description of a Portuguese craft
which it has never been our fortune to see.  He calls it the Lisbon
bean-pod, from its exact resemblance to that vegetable, and affirms it
to be the most curious of European craft, which we can readily believe.
"Take a well-grown bean-pod," he says, "and put it on its convex edge,
and then put two little sticks, one in the centre and one at the bows,
raking forward, for the masts, and another in the bows, steeving up, for
the bowsprit, and another astern for a boomkin or outrigger, and then
you have before you the boat in question."  These boats carry a lateen
sail, sail very fast, and are much used on the waters of the Tagus as
fishing-boats and trawlers.

Other curious craft to be met with in Europe are the scamparia and
felucca of the Mediterranean, the Greek mystico and the trabacalo of the
Adriatic.  The gondola, than which, perhaps, nothing that floats on the
waters is suggestive of more romantic and poetical associations, is so
familiar to everybody from pictures, and has so often been introduced
into story, song, and narratives of travel, that we shall not pause to
describe it.

Passing from Europe to Africa, we note among the craft peculiar to that
country the diabiah or Nile boat, a very comfortable travelling boat for
warm climates.  It is a large boat, and contains a house at one end, in
which the passengers sleep at night, or take refuge from the sun's
fierce heat by day.

In Asia a great variety of vessels and boats of various shapes and sizes
are met with, to describe all of which would carry us far beyond the
space at our disposal.  The dhow of the Arabs runs from sixty to a
hundred tons, is almost entirely open, and has a sharp pointed bow,
projecting for a considerable distance beyond the hull.  On the high,
broad stern a covered-in poop is placed, containing the quarters of the
captain and passengers.  The stern is usually ornamented with carving,
as English vessels used to be in old days.  The dhow carries but one
sail, lateen-shaped, and the mast stoops forward at a sharp angle.
These craft have not unfrequently been engaged in the nefarious slave
traffic carried on on the east coast of Africa.

The catamaran of Madras can only be called a boat on the _lucus a non
lucendo_ principle, for it consists simply of three logs placed side by
side, pointed at the bows, and kept together by two cross-pieces.  Yet
this rude raft does good service in its way, being the only means of
communication in rough weather between vessels lying off Madras and the
shore; for there are no wharves at Madras, and ships are compelled to
anchor in the offing.  When the sea runs so high that boats of the
ordinary kind are useless, the services of the catamarans are gladly
enough made use of.

The native boatmen, seated on their log rafts, and quite naked, make
their way through the roughest surf to the vessels, carrying messages to
and from the land.  The rower propels his boat with a rather long
paddle.  Sometimes he is washed off his catamaran into the sea; but
being an expert swimmer, he usually recovers his seat without much
trouble, and it rarely happens that any of these men are drowned.

We spoke a little space back of the national characteristics of a people
being traceable in its marine architecture as well as in other things,
and surely this statement finds abundant illustration in the craft of
the Chinese.  In China we find an intensely conservative people, and
their national bent is undoubtedly indicated in their ships, which in
all probability have not altered in any material regard for centuries.
A Chinaman would be as slow to change the shape of his junk as his
shoes, or the length of his pigtail.  And a strange, old-world,
semi-barbarous look a Chinese junk has.

Chinese junks vary greatly in size, but all present the same type of
architecture.  The sails in every case are of brownish-yellow matting,
swung across the mast like a main-sail, and having pieces of bamboo
placed cross-wise and parallel to each other, making them look somewhat
like venetian blinds.  These wooden strips both strengthen the sail and
facilitate its reefing when lowered.

A large Chinese junk rises high out of the water; there are two or more
decks aft above the main-deck, painted and carved with various devices;
and the cabins are often luxuriously furnished according to Celestial
tastes.  If you look at any representation of a junk, you will notice
that the rudder is very broad, resembling somewhat the rudder of a canal
barge.  In spite of its primitive look, it has, after all, something
picturesque about it; but we fancy that we would rather contemplate it
in a picture than sail in one across the Atlantic.

On the deck of a junk is always to be found a josshouse or temple, in
front of which the crew keep incense, sticks, and perfumed paper
continually burning.  When a calm overtakes an English vessel, the
sailors and passengers are always supposed to try what "whistling for a
wind" will effect.  In lieu of this method of "raising the wind," a
Chinese sailor shapes little junks out of paper, and sets them afloat on
the water as a propitiatory service to the divinity who has the welfare
of seamen under his especial care.

The river-life of China is very curious.  Quite a large proportion of
the people spend their whole lives on the water, while many who are
employed during the day on land sleep in boats on the various rivers.
This condition of things corresponds in some degree to that described by
Captain Marryat in that fine old story "Jacob Faithful," in the early
chapters of which we get diverting glimpses of life on board a Thames
lighterman.  But the river population of China is still more absolutely
aquatic in manner of life than the Thames barge-folk.  The boats in
which this class of the population live have an awning of bamboo and
matting fore and aft, which is removed by day and raised at night.  At
sundown the boat-people anchor their craft in rows to stakes, thus
forming boat-terraces as it were.  When business grows slack at one part
of the river, the master of the boat moves up or down stream to some
other part.  From the shape of these boats, resembling somewhat the half
of an egg cut lengthwise, they are called in the Chinese language
"egg-boats."  A large family will sometimes pack itself into an egg-boat
not much more than twelve feet long and six broad.

These river-folk have characteristics which almost render them a people
apart.  They have a code of laws of their own, differing in many points
from that which governs the land community, and the two populations do
not intermarry.  Women to a large extent navigate the egg-boats, as
indeed they do many other kinds of boats in China.  Travellers report
that these river-families live peaceable and happy enough lives, seldom
disturbed by disputes of any kind.  Possibly one cause for this may be
that which some humourist suggested as the reason why "birds in their
little nests agree," namely, because it would be dangerous if they "fell
out."  But, speaking seriously, it says much for the placable nature of
these Chinese river-folk that they can pass such a happy existence
within the narrow bounds of their egg-boats.

Passing over to America, we shall first describe the famous American and
Canadian river steamboats, which are in many respects as curious and
unique as they are generally magnificent.  These steamers are usually
paddle-boats; are very long and narrow in shape, but of great strength.
On the hull a sort of lofty platform is built, which is divided into
what may be called the middle and the main deck, one above the other.
Fore and aft there is a spacious, luxuriously appointed, and richly
decorated saloon, covered in with a glass roof.

Ranged on each side of the saloon are the cabins, each containing two
berths.  These sleeping-cabins, like the saloon, are prettily furnished
and tastefully decorated.  Over the saloon is another deck or platform--
the whole structure as may be seen from our illustration is very much
"be-decked"--about the middle of the vessel and in front of the funnel.
Here is situated the wheel, and here also the captain and officers take
their position.  This part of the vessel is kept private to them, no
passenger being permitted to trespass on it.

Beneath the saloon-deck is the middle-deck, as has already been
indicated, which also contains a saloon of its own, as well as sleeping
apartments.  This portion of the steamer is usually reserved for the
unmarried ladies among the passengers, who, as all readers of American
literature must be aware, are treated in America with an almost
chivalrous courtesy and consideration.

The dining-saloon of the vessel is situated in a third and undermost
deck, which reaches from the middle of the boat right aft, and is a
well-lighted, well-arranged room.

The cargo is placed amidships, heaped up in great piles--passenger boats
seldom or never carrying heavy goods.  The American's passion for
economising time is manifest in the steamboats as everywhere else, most
of them carrying a barber, who will accommodate you with "easy shaving"
during the voyage.  The barber's shop is forward with the cook's
quarters and other offices.  American river-boats may vary, of course,
in details, but we have endeavoured to indicate the leading
characteristics of a typical example.  The stories current in regard to
the facility with which an American steamboat blows up have been much
exaggerated, but nevertheless it is probably true that they bear the
bell in this direction of risk and danger.


Of all craft of the canoe order, the flying-proa of the Pacific is the
swiftest.  It carries a sail almost triangular in shape, and a straight
yard.  It has an outrigger; and outrigger, mast, and yard are of bamboo.
Strong matting composes the sail, which is stretched very flat upon the
yard.  When the crew wish to put their boat about they have merely to
shift the sail, when what was before the prow of the proa becomes the
stern.  These boats are usually manned by a crew of about half-a-dozen.
One man sits at either end of the vessel and takes his turn of steering
according to whatever tack the canoe is on.  The duty of the rest is to
bail out the boat and to keep the sail properly trimmed.

Nothing afloat, probably, can go so close to the wind as the
flying-proa, while its speed is astonishing.  The Malays use the proa,
but theirs is a broader, heavier, and less swift boat than that used by
the Ladrone islanders of the Pacific, which is that which we have just

The canoes of the Fijians are superior to those in use among any other
of the South Sea islanders.  Their chief feature is that they are
twin-canoes, joined together by cross-beams, which support a platform of
from twelve to fifteen feet broad.  Of the two canoes, one is smaller
than the other, and the smaller serves by way of an outrigger.  These
canoes are sometimes one hundred feet long, their depth being usually
about seven feet.  Sometimes a small cabin is built upon the platform.
The mast is about thirty feet long, is supported by guys, and is
furnished with a yard carrying a large sail.  There are small hatchways
at both ends of the craft, at each of which one of the crew sits ready
to bail out the boat.  The Fijian canoes can also be propelled by means
of sculling, the sculler using a broad-bladed scull about ten feet in
length.  A large canoe can be got through the water at the rate of two
or three miles an hour by sculling.

Various experiments have from time to time been made in the way of
building boats and ships with double hulls, the object being to obtain
increased stability, and thus reduce to a minimum the rolling and
pitching of ordinary vessels.  The steamship Castalia was an ambitious
attempt in this direction.  She was built for the passenger service
between England and France.  But she did not realise the expectations
formed of her.

Most persons who have crossed from Dover to Calais, or vice versa, by
the Calais-Douvre mail packet, will bear witness both to the comfort and
speed of that vessel.  Up to this she has proved the most perfect form
of steam-ship yet constructed for the purpose required.  The
Calais-Douvre is built somewhat upon the same principle as the Castalia,
but differs from that vessel in that whereas the latter was two
half-ships joined together, each twin-portion of the Calais-Douvre is a
perfect ship in itself.  The result has been, that while the Castalia
was a failure, the Calais-Douvre has proved a distinct success.  She is
three hundred feet in length and sixty feet in breadth; her tonnage is
two thousand, and her water-draught only six feet, so that she can enter
Calais Harbour at even a low tide.  Two transverse iron girder
bulk-heads unite the two hulls of the vessel; and her steering apparatus
is so simple, and at the same time so effective in construction, that
one wheel is usually sufficient to work it.  She makes the passage from
Dover to Calais usually in an hour and a half; but in very fine weather
we ourselves have crossed in less than that time.  With the maximum rate
of speed, the Calais-Douvre has attained the minimum amount of pitching
and rolling yet secured by any Channel boat.  Her saloons, cabins, and
decks are spacious and handsomely appointed, so that the Channel passage
in this vessel is made under as favourable conditions for bad sailors as
any sea-passage can be.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Man on the Ocean - A Book about Boats and Ships" ***

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