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Title: From Lower Deck to Pulpit
Author: Cowling, Henry, 1874-1945
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
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.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "From Lower Deck to Pulpit" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.

Transcriber's note:

   Unusual spelling and punctuation has been transcribed as in the
   original book.

   The reader will encounter "(V12)" at various places in the text.
   Its meaning is inapparent, but it appears in the original book
   and was not changed.




With Portrait and Illustrations

S.W. Partridge & Co. 8 and 9 Paternoster Row


This little book is not written on my own initiative. I have not so
much as given a hint of my 'naval days,' either from the pulpit or in
conversation. But my friends have condemned me for being so reserved
about the matter, and for a long time have, with persistent
entreaties, been urging me to tell the story of my life. That they
may now be satisfied, and that I may be left quiet, and, above all,
that it may prove a blessing to all who read it, is the sincere
desire of



      EARLY DAYS,                      9

      JOINING THE NAVY,               21

      LEAVING FOR SEA,                37


      HOMEWARD BOUND,                 78

      LEAVING THE NAVY,               91



Kingsand, though but a village in size, has a history of its own.
Situated about five miles from Plymouth, on the Cornish coast, and
being a fishing port, the inhabitants are on intimate terms with the
sea. In the summer months one may observe many an indication of this
relationship or intimacy'. Youngsters run about the beach and the
village barefooted, most of them wearing the orthodox blue jersey,
whilst young women, and even older ones, love to sit on the rocks
near the sea and work away with their sewing or knitting, and, I must
not forget to add, with their tongues also. Strange and startling are
the stories one may hear which have been handed down from one
generation to another concerning the smuggling days of long, long
ago--and yet not so long ago, for even at this time of day my mother
often narrates hair breadth escapes of smugglers which happened in
her girlhood. In this village I was born on the 9th of April 1874. In
visiting Kingsand from time to time, I have often stood and gazed at
the old house in which I was born--not that any recollections in
connection with it survive in my memory, for when I was only five
weeks old, my father, who was in the navy, received an appointment as
a gunnery instructor in the Royal Naval Reserve battery in the far

Sometimes my mother indulges in a retrospect, and I love to hear her
tell of that May morning when, she bade 'farewell' to her loved ones
and dear old Kingsand, and how, wrapping me in a large shawl, she
proceeded to Cremyll, a distance of three miles, from whence we were
transported across the harbour to Plymouth in the ferry boat. Then
came the long and tedious journey to Maryport. Sweet mother! how
pathetic to me it all now seems.

We resided at Maryport two years, during which time my eldest sister
was born. Often would my mother carry me into the battery, and at the
sight of the large guns, and the queer looking helmets hanging on the
walls, my little smile would be converted into vehement crying. How
little I dreamed then of my familiarity with them in after years! But
I must not anticipate.

After completing our stay here, my parents returned to Kingsand, but
only for a brief period. It was at, this period that I met with my
first accident. Crawling away from the front door I made all possible
speed to a large tank of water close by. In looking upon it from an
elevated bank of ground, I overbalanced myself and fell headlong into
it. When rescued, my nose was bleeding profusely. It was a lesson to
me, for during the few subsequent weeks we remained in Kingsand I
remembered my 'dive,' and gave the tank a wide margin.

We soon removed to Millbrook, a large village situated a mile and a
half from Kingsand. In those days the quay at Millbrook was
picturesque with groups of watermen who gained an honest livelihood
by ferrying passengers to Devonport and back. But former things have
passed away; and now two sets of steamers, well adapted for shallow
water (for the landing-piers at Millbrook are governed by the ebb,
and flood tide), have almost entirely dispensed with passenger-boats,
and the trip from Millbrook to Devonport, or vice versa, costs the
modest sum of one penny. People on the town side of the harbour take
advantage of this, for on public holidays thousands of towns-people
may be seen wending their way through the main streets of Millbrook,
bound for the famous Whitsands, there to spend the day on the

Never let anyone despise Millbrook, for, socially speaking, it may be
regarded as an adjunct of Devonport. There is an interchange of
passengers every day, and several hundred yardmen, who work in His
Majesty's naval dockyard, together with many naval men, leave
Millbrook every morning. Added to these, there are housewives, and
their name is legion, who cross the harbour on Saturdays for the
purpose of shopping, for they are cute enough to realise that their
steamer fare can be cleared on two pounds of sugar-that is to say,
the same article would cost a penny extra at home. In addition, then,
to the profits gained on other articles which they purchase--for
their baskets are of no mean size--the pleasant cruise across the
harbour costs practically nothing. As a result of this steamer
traffic, trade has dwindled considerably in Millbrook.

I speak of Millbrook as an adjunct of Devonport. Perhaps some will
object to this, as both places are located in separate counties, the
former in Cornwall, the latter in Devon; others, who may be somewhat
narrow in thought, may think this view of mine reduces Devonport in
the scale of townships. However, as the ties between the two places
are so strong that even water cannot separate them, I hope to be
forgiven if my estimation of the village as an adjunct be incorrect.

The village itself is a pleasant place and lovely to behold. Like a
nest built in the heart of a thick tree, so Millbrook lies within the
heart of a beautiful valley. It is bounded by the Maker Heights on
the right, and the high cliffs on the left and in the bend. Hard by
are Mount Edgcumbe Park, and the Hamoaze in full view. Enough: I will
say no more as to the description of it, lest my readers may think me
vain. But I cannot refrain from asking in this connection: Who would
not be proud of being a Millbrooker?

My conscious experience of life began in Millbrook. Well do I
remember the morning when with a company of other little boys I was
marched away from the girls' school where I had hitherto been as a
young scholar, to the boys'. Then followed the long and tedious years
of school-life. Did I like my school-days at Millbrook? To this
question I must give an emphatic No. One day my companion and I
showed this dislike in a very practical manner. It was the custom
to take our books to school in the morning, and to bring them away at
the expiration of the day's teaching. On the day in question we
departed from this rule by bringing away our books at noon, our
object being to spend the afternoon in taking a walk on the country
road. When the bell rang at 2 p.m. for the purpose of resuming work,
we made off in an opposite direction to the school. We considered it
would not be wise to carry our slates and books in our hand, and
therefore by way of protection, we stuffed them under our waistcoats.
This gave us the appearance of an abnormal size, and a curious shape,
at least I thought so; for everyone we met looked upon us with an air
of suspicion. I have often wondered since, whether or not this
suspicion grew out of experience in the life of many whom we passed
that day-whether or not they really knew what we were doing.
Certainly we did not know what we were doing, for we entered the
village at 3.30 p.m. (school-time was over at 4 p.m.) half an hour
too soon. "How is it you are out of school so early?" asked our
respective mothers. What a dilemma we were in! Suffice it to say,
that my mother said "she was not sure but what she should report this
matter to my father." Did she? No; ere my father returned at even, I
resorted to a happy way I had of rendering house-hold assistance,
such as putting coal on the fire, etc., which I knew would go a long
way to dull the memory of my afternoon's walk in my mother's mind. In
the evening when father came home he asked the question as was his
wont: "How has Henry been to-day?" "As good as gold," replied mother.

What about my companion? How fared it with him? He is able to inform
you best on that point, for he learned by experience on that occasion
the awful sting of a leather strap. Never since in his lifetime has
he been half an hour before time. Who can tell the injury a leather
strap may do!

From my very earliest days the desire to become a preacher was ever
present with me, which desire became intensified as the years sped
by. As a strong manifestation of this fact, I was often found in the
garden addressing the cabbages, which in my youthful fancy
represented the congregation, and on Sunday evenings when my parents
were at chapel, a habit of mine was to rear a chair upside down
against the wall, get within the bars of my chair-pulpit, and address
my two sisters.

Strange to say, running parallel to this habit of preaching was a
fond love for the water, and it may be said in a literal sense that I
was as fond of it as a duck. I am told that when an infant under the
care of any person other than my mother, nothing in the world would
quiet me except a bowl of water and a sponge to play with. Naturally
this liking developed, as you will see. Separated by a thick wall
from the Millbrook lake is a large mill-pond, which, when emptied of
water, is very muddy. How we, as schoolboys, delighted to roll in
this mud (for what is dirty to a school-boy?) and then jump over the
other side of the wall and swim in the wake of the paddle-wheel
steamer! On one occasion, the Vicar, who from the vicarage could
watch our habits, observed that during the day I had bathed nine
times, which thing, he gave my parents to understand, was very
weakening. "Twice a day," said he, "is often enough." I think so too,
now, but did not then.

On Saturdays a party of us boys would wend our way to the Whitsands
for the purpose of bathing in the open sea. This we regarded as
something totally different from that of our daily bathings in the
lake; and in point of fact it was, for the water was purer and
fresher, and soft golden sands took the place of mud strewed with
broken pieces of glass and other refuse. Oh! how we loved to rush
headlong through the giant waves which came bounding in from seaward.
How much better was this than learning a proposition of Euclid! The
boy who swam furthest out to sea was looked upon as the hero of the
hour, indeed through the whole week, until Saturday came again, when
some other boy would endeavour to swim beyond the limit of the
previous week. In this way we instituted a competition between
ourselves in the art of swimming.

One Saturday the scene changed, for after the delight of bathing came
misery; after joy came pain. It is ever so. The shadow is always with
the light. After dressing ourselves, we made a hasty retreat over the
rocks, as it had now begun to rain, when lo! my foot was caught in a
crevice. I wriggled it to and fro, with the hope of extricating it,
but in vain. The other boys were now a long distance In front, and
there with my foot jammed between the rocks was I, like a rabbit
caught in the gin, shouting "Mother! Mother!" though she were four
miles away. If ever I needed a trumpet voice, it was then. At length
by the help of a friend who came to relieve me, I was set at liberty.
For many years after this incident, my ankle-bone remained swollen--a
memento of that Saturday afternoon.

But I must pass on. I was now nine years of age and organist in the
Wesleyan Sunday School, having for the past two years studied music
under my father. Added to this, I formed part of the Wesleyan church
choir. Sunday therefore to me was a very busy day, made exceptionally
so, as apart from church and school work, the intervals were filled
up with music and singing at home, in which all the family joined.
Our house was indeed a house of song.

It was now determined by my parents that I be sent to a Devonport
school, as I had passed out of the seven standards in the school at
home. Accordingly a contract was entered into between the
schoolmaster and my father, forms were duly filled in, and I was to
begin my schooling on the following Monday. This I looked forward to
with the utmost pleasure: one reason being, and not the least, that
it meant two trips in the steamer every day; but judge of my grief
when on the Sunday it became apparent that I had the measles. So the
next morning, Instead of going off in the steamer to school, I was
kept in bed, and for seven weeks was confined at home.

When well enough to go out again, I, with two other boys, decided to
join the Navy (I was now twelve years old). We sauntered along the
road until we reached the pier, and there, right before us, stood the
leviathan training ship--H.M.S. 'Impregnable.' My little heart
quailed within me at the very sight of her, a great fear overshadowed
me, and I lost no time in returning to Millbrook. On my return
journey I was half sorrowful and yet half glad that I did not go on
board--a strange feeling. The two other boys, who were many years my
senior, did not pass the medical examination, and consequently were
rejected for the service.

Steps were taken again with a view to my schooling at Devonport; this
time I went, and these school-days I recall with pleasure, though
they were fraught with a powerful temptation, which I shall presently
describe. I have a vivid recollection of the first day. Steaming up
the lake at very low water, and being somewhat foggy, our boat stuck
on the mud. Worst of all, it was ebb tide, and here we had to wait
for the return of the in flowing tide. We schoolboys gathered
together in the engine-room and did our home-lessons. In a few hours
we floated and very soon reached the landing place, and we arrived at
home about midnight. That was the first and last time I ever did my
lessons afloat, or rather on the mud.

The object my parents had in sending me across the harbour to school
was that I might receive an efficient training to enable me to pass
the Dock-yard Civil Service examination which, by the way, is locally
considered the highest distinction a boy can attain, providing he be
qualified to pass the examiner. No romance is connected with these
days, save that on one occasion my companion asked me to accompany
him to Devonport Park to watch a football match instead of attending
school in the afternoon. Remembering the leather strap to which I
have already referred, and thinking that with this new schoolmaster I
might have a second taste of what my poor friend received on that
memorable day, though not with a strap, yet with something just as
sweet, I considered it wise not to visit the park.

But this boy used much persuasion, and in a short time we stood in
the park watching the game, which proved not so interesting as he had
anticipated. "Shall we go to school?" he asked. "We shall have time
to get there before it opens." "No," I replied; "you have persuaded me
to come here, and now I shall stay." We both did. I never played
truant again after this day. Did the schoolmaster become acquainted
with this breach of discipline? No; or I am afraid he would not have
given me such a testimonial as I now hold in my possession.

At this juncture I became a member of the drum and fife band, under
the supervision of the Millbrook Band of Hope Committee. Never shall
I forget our bandmaster. He was a strict disciplinarian. No looseness
was allowed in our playing; thoroughness was stamped on every tune we
played. On practice nights he took each of the boys aside, and one by
one each had to play the music as set--every note must be clear and
distinct. Occasionally our band would march through the village, the
drum major with his staff leading.

Those days of memory, so near and yet so far!

Then came the Sunday when he was lowered in the dark, cold grave, and
we solemnly played whilst encircled around it--

"Goodnight, beloved, not farewell!"

He went home to Music-Land, where they praise Him day and night.

One day we shall all meet again, and together with him we will tune
our song to harps of gold.



Now about the temptation already hinted at, and all that followed in
its train. The steamer in which I crossed the harbour twice daily,
passed quite close to the 'Impregnable,' and thus gave me ample
opportunity to scan her vast dimensions, and to gaze in wonder at her
tall masts. But best of all was to see the sailor-boys on the
forecastle, in the rigging, and manning the boats which were fastened
to her lower booms. At the sight of all this my little life seemed to
be thrilled, and oh, how I longed to become a sailor boy! I would
give all the gold in the Mint did I possess it, in exchange for the
realisation of my yearning desire. How nice to pull the ropes, to
climb the rigging, but, above all, to wear a sailor's uniform.
Thoughts such as these haunted my mind constantly, and this daily
allurement only helped to swell the number.

Full well I knew my parents would not consent my joining the navy.
Still, one day I ventured to broach the subject to my mother, who
replied "That she could not bear to hear of such a thing." The
craving still grew, and my parents, clearly understanding the bend of
my inclination, made a compromise, steeped in love. This was it:
"Seeing you have such a desire for the sea, we have been praying much
about the matter, and after due consideration, conclude it will be
far better for you to join the service as a young man, not as a poor,
helpless boy. You shall have the trade of a shipwright--(the same,
trade as the one I should have been apprenticed to in the dockyard,
had I desired to pas the necessary qualification, but as a matter of
fact, this desire for the sea swallowed up every other)--and when out
of your time you will be in a different position to enter!" All this
my uncle, who himself had been in the navy, corroborated by saying:
"I should not put a dog before the mast--poor boys are huffed and
cuffed shamefully; but when a young man has a trade, and then joins,
his treatment, by reason of his manhood and trade, is totally

After all this advice my enthusiasm cooled down, only to reappear in
a short time with greater fervour. In the meantime, I was apprenticed
to a shipbuilding trade, and although seven years was the required
time to learn it, I gathered it all up in one week. Wonderful!
wonderful! for in that short time I was taught how to fill up a hole
with putty, and this is the extent of my practical knowledge of a
shipwright's task to-day. Do you mean that you only stayed a week?
you ask. That is all. And my mother had kept, until within a few
months ago, the little white smock-frock, which I wore in my work, as
a reminder in calico of my shipbuilding days.

During this week I met with still further enticements to become a
sailor boy. The building yard being in close proximity to the
'Impregnable', I could hear the brass band every morning, and what is
so enticing as music? Then, again, hundreds of boys came ashore in
large pinnaces, landing within a few yards from me, each carrying a
rifle. This was more than I could bear by way of temptation, and
impressing my parents how very much I should abhor seven years in the
shipbuilding yard, intimating that nothing would satisfy me but to be
a sailor-boy, they, within the course of a few weeks, very
reluctantly yielded to my burning request.

Having passed all necessary requirements, I joined the navy on my
fourteenth birthday. It was Monday morning, and after eating my
breakfast, I rose and wished my mother and sisters 'good-bye.' Sorrow
filled their hearts and tears their eyes--not so much because I was
leaving home for a long time, as I should see them again before the
week expired, but even this parting was considered long, for hitherto
I had not slept one night away from home. I say not so much because
of this fact, as that they were doubtful as to whether I was taking
the right step or not. My parents impressed upon me that even now it
was not too late to change my mind, even though my papers were all
signed. I can remember how eagerly my mother pleaded to burn them,
coaxing me to sit down and have another cup of tea, and to forget all
about the navy in the drinking of it.

Truth to tell my enthusiasm was fast dwindling away, but enough was
left at that moment to wish another 'farewell,' and to pass down the
street With my father who walked with me to the pier and watched the
boat bear me to the ship "Would to God I had never left home on that
morning," was an expression often on my lips during my career in the
navy. My mother's tears had been shed on the fire of my passion--it
was now becoming quenched, but not until it was too late did it
become extinguished--that is, when I had boarded the ship and given
up my papers to the authorities.

So my readers will understand that it was with a heavy heart, yea and
with a great deal of reluctancy, that I entered the navy--that
despite the great flame of enthusiasm that had been burning in my
young life, it dwindled away almost to the point of being
extinguished on this memorable morning; yet something within urged me
quietly on and on till that which was done could not be undone.

I was now sent to H.M.S 'Circe,' the outfitting ship for young
recruits, to get my uniform. On reaching the top of the companion
ladder a ship's corporal (i.e. a naval policeman) approached me and
asked, "Had I any money or jewellery?" If so, it must be kept in his
custody until such time as I should be prepared to join the
mother-ship, the 'Impregnable.' I handed him the eight pence which
I carried in my pocket. After being ordered to read from a board
certain rules and digest them, then came the bath, followed by the
dinner, which latter consisted of a piece of fat pork (called 'dobs,'
I afterward learned, in the training-ship) and a thick piece of
bread, neither of which tempted my appetite.

I ate nothing that day, and when a fortnight later my civilian's suit
was sent home, the sausage rolls which I carried on board with me
were discovered in my pocket. I cannot hope to describe the feelings
through which I passed on this first day. My poor little heart nearly
broke--it was my first lesson in the school of sorrowful tears. "Oh
that I had listened to my parents' advice this morning," was what I
whispered to myself a hundred times before closing my eyes in sleep
that night.

The day wore away slowly--oh, so slowly! I became homesick, and ran
from one port-hole to the other watching the Millbrook steamers pass
to and fro, endeavouring thereby to persuade myself into the belief
that after all I was in touch with home. This gave me a kind of
satisfaction, as it seemed to sever my thoughts, or rather to loose
them, from the floating cage, and link them and my love to home, yea,
and even to the passing steamers.

Just as when a traveller in a foreign land meets with a friend of his
native town, and is filled with delight and fond memories of the
home-land by such an event, in like manner did I regard those
steamers--they were connecting links uniting my heart to my home.
Nor is this comparison overdrawn, for my readers must bear in mind
that I was only a little boy. And how very natural homesickness was,
amidst such strange surroundings, and, with no liberty, only they who
have passed through a similar experience know.

Then came the hour for 'turning in.' As I lay in the hammock that
night I could not but contrast this birthday with my last. The last
represented sunshine, joy, merry laughter and freedom; this, darkness
sorrow, tears and confinement. The tears began to flow, and I wept
myself to sleep.

More than once during my subsequent visits to Devonport have I stood
on Mutton Cove pier gazing intently on groups of boys gathered
thereon waiting for the ship's boat to bear them over to the
'Impregnable' with a view of joining the navy. Standing there, my
sympathy has gone out toward them as a flood and I have prayed that
their first night's experience afloat might not be a repetition of

The three days on this outfitting ship were spent in marking my name
on the clothes which constituted my kit, pumping water for the
cooks' galley, helping to scrub the decks and wringing out swabs. On
the Thursday, I, with other novices, was sent to the 'Impregnable' to
commence my training in seamanship and gunnery. Every Thursday half
a day's leave is given to the boys, and we were granted this
privilege. How glad and thankful I felt! After landing, I hastened
home with all possible speed. The sight of me in my uniform overcame
my mother's feelings, and oh! how bitterly she wept, and how often
did she ask me that afternoon whether I thought I should like the
service or not.

I comforted her as best as I could upon wishing her 'good-bye' by
saying I should be ashore again on the following Sunday, and with a
heart as heavy as lead I trudged back to the ship.

Let me at this point give my readers an outline of the routine on the
training-ship. 'All hands' rise at 5 a.m., lash up their hammocks and
carry them to the upper deck for storage. One half of the boys of the
watch take a bath and are inspected before dressing by the
instructors. All the other boys in the ship scrub decks. Breakfast is
piped at 7 a.m. At 8 a.m. the topgallant mast is hoisted, and the
upper yards are crossed. Eight bells are struck, the national anthem
is played, and the yards are ordered to be swayed across' at one and
the same time. There is discipline! Decks are swept, the mess deck
receiving special attention, the cooks of the messes (and every boy
has to take his week in rotation) polish the utensils, so that they
shine as bright as silver, and the watch on deck coils the ropes and
polishes the brass work. At 8.45 the bugler sounds the 'general
assembly.' Each watch falls in for inspection on its respective side
of the deck--that is, the starboard watch on the right side, the port
watch on the left. This being done, the band assembles on the poop,
and the officers' call is sounded, in response to which they troop up
from quarterdeck hatchways. "Attention!" shouts the instructor, at
the same time saluting the inspecting officer. Every boy stands as
erect as possible Then begins the inspection. Nothing escapes the eye
these officers. Woe betide the boy whose duck suit is not spotlessly
clean, or who has a button off his trousers, or whose suit is in need
of a few stitches. He is severely reprimanded--the instructor makes
a note of it in his book; and should this be repeated, the boy is put
in the Commander's report and receives six cuts with the cane.

Each officer reports to the Commander when he has inspected his
division of boys, and then the bell is tolled for morning prayers,
which are said by the chaplain. All Roman Catholics are weeded out of
the two watches, and are marched forward under the forecastle during

Now, should it be Monday morning, sail drill is engaged in until
noon, but only on this day, whilst on other mornings one watch
attends school, and the other, gunnery and seamanship classes. The
advanced gunnery classes receive their training ashore in the drill
field. Seamanship classes are held on the lower deck, and every boy
has to pass out of one instruction before being admitted to the
other. In these lower-deck instructions the first is the lashing up
of the hammock and in the laying out of the kit in the uniform
manner; then follow the 'bends and hitches' class, the reading of the
semaphore, knots and splices, and so on. I may Say that boat sailing
and swimming and heaving the lead are also included under the
seamanship course.

To most of the local boys, swimming exercise was as play, and
accordingly they received V.G. (very good) on the instructor's class
book on passing-out day. To pass out, the boy must be an efficient
swimmer, and able to swim in a duck suit a considerable distance.
Boys on the other hand who had been brought up as strangers to the
sea, regard this instruction with much fear, and it becomes a terror
to them. All these exercises passed through, which in most cases
require a year, the boy then receives the rate of a first class boy
as distinguished from a second class.

But to return to the routine. At 11.30 a.m. school and instructions
are ended, the bugle call for drill aloft is sounded, and then there
is a mighty tumult. Hundreds of boys are running along the decks and
up the ladders, and as though they were not smart enough, ship's
corporals make use of their canes very freely. At 11.45, in the
midst of drill, the bugler sounds: 'Cooks.' Cooks of messes repair to
the galley, fetch the dinner and lay it out under the supervision of
the caterer of the mess, who is generally a senior boy. At 12 a.m.
dinner is 'piped,' and every boy sits at the table according to his
seniority--that is to say, if one has been in the ship six months,
sitting next to him would be the boy who had joined the mess after
him in the order of time. It will thus be readily seen that every boy
has his own seat at the mess-table. But lest partiality should creep
in amongst the boys in the messes so that A would have a far better
dinner than B; and poor C all bone on his plate, or, as they say,
"two spuds and a joner," this order is very often reversed, and this
means that the caterer finds himself at the end of the stool with the
dinner of the youngest boy before him to eat, and it also means that
this last recruit in the mess finds himself possessor of the
caterer's plate of dinner.

At 1 p.m. instructions are resumed, and concluded at 3.30 p.m. The
boatswain's mate then pipes, "Hands shift in night clothing." The
uniform of the day is then taken off, and each boy wears a blue
serge suit. At the call of the bugle the boys fall in on the upper
deck with the clothes for washing. These are inspected by the
instructors for the purpose of seeing that each boy has stops in his
clothes--that is, two sets of string in each garment for hanging on
the line. This inspection of stops being over, then follows the
shrill cry, "Hands scrub and wash clothes."

I cannot hope to describe the scamper there is at this moment for the
tubs of water, and the reason for it is this--that the tubs are
limited, perhaps three allowed to each mess of twenty boys, and
considering the washing has to be done in a short time, the reader
will understand the cause of this dreadful war. And it happens every
day with the exception of Thursdays and Saturdays, when no washing is
done. The articles for washing on the various days are as follows--
Monday, a duck suit; Tuesday, a day shirt, night shirt and flannel;
Wednesday, a duck suit; Friday, hammock or bedcover. Clothes being
hung up, the upper deck is washed down and tea is 'piped.' After this
meal the boys have an hour or so to themselves--the schoolroom is
opened for reading and draught-playing, etc.

At 7.45 the pipe is sounded: "Stand by for hammocks." All run (for no
walking is allowed in the service when responding to duty's call) to
the upper deck, where each boy gets his hammock, carries it below
deck, and hangs it on the hammock hooks. The bugle call, "Turn in,"
is sounded an hour later, followed in five minutes with the bugle
note: "Still." Not a sound is heard, for it is prayer-time. After
prayers, which every boy is supposed to say in his hammock, the
officer in command, with other subordinates, goes the 'rounds' to see
that all is safe for the night. Thus ends the day's routine on the
training ship. Very often, however, there is a departure from it,
which takes place at noon, the occasion being the punishment
of a boy or boys. All the crew assemble on the quarterdeck, the
offender midships. The Commander reads the charge, which concludes
usually:--"I hereby judge him to receive twelve strokes with the
cane." The poor boy is lashed arms and legs to a wooden horse, the
master-at-arms counting the strokes as the ship's corporal lays them
on. The cane with which he punishes the boy is a very stout one, each
end being covered with wax-string, and is reversed every fourth
stroke. This caning is a punishment, and is meted out to boys who are
caught smoking, to boys who may be untidy or to those who break their
leave a short time. The other punishment is that of the birch--again
the boy is lashed to the horse, and this time no garment intervenes.
The ship's doctor stands by with water in case of fainting, as
generally the boy receives twenty-four strokes. To witness such a
proceeding was to make me tremble. Here and there the ends of the
birch would be scattered, and the blood flowing freely. Of course the
birch is not in such frequent demand as the cane; only the boy who is
insolent to his instructor, or who breaks a day's leave, or worse
still, if he be committed for theft, is birched. In the case of the
thief he has to wear a badge with the word 'T H I E F' printed in
large, black letters on it, in front and behind for six months or
even longer. During this time he is cut off from the company of
other boys, and partakes of his food in the 'thieves' mess.

Now before leaving this subject, I may tell my readers that all local
boys are styles 'Cossacks'; consequently I was one. The Cossacks
were allowed to have a night's leave every alternate Saturday,
provided the parents of the boy wrote a request to the Commander for
it. The Cossacks generally brought aboard with them from their homes
a large handkerchief full of good things, and they were met by the
non-Cossacks in the gang-way ladder with this expression:--"Tally
you your tack and plush," which being interpreted, is: "Let me have
your allowance of bread and tea." It was understood that all Cossacks
would have their tea ashore, and therefore would not require the
naval tea when returning on board. Hence readers will now understand
why it is the boys who hail from London and the provinces grow so
stout in the training ship--it is because they eat, in addition to
their own allowance, the Cossacks' share.

Boys who were noted for being smart and clean wore a gold badge as a
token of the same. The advantages reaped from this badge were two in
number (V12): an extra half day's leave on Saturday, and one penny a
week additional pay. There were two other sets of boys who were
entitled to the first of these privileges (V12): the advanced
scholars in school, and members of the drum and fife band.
Accordingly, on Saturdays during the dinner-hour the boatswain's
mate would pipe: "Leave for badge-boy, advanced class, and drum and
fife band;" As I was a badge boy, and an advanced scholar, and a
flute-player, I nestled under the wing of this threefold privilege,
and used to think in my boyish pride, Who indeed has more right to go
ashore than I?

Before any boy is supposed to be ready for sea, he has to undergo in
addition to the 'Impregnable' studies, a course of gunnery, and from
ten to twelve weeks on a training brig. I underwent my gunnery course
in H.M.S. 'Foudroyant,' one of Nelson's flagships, which lay at that
time in close proximity to the 'Impregnable,' and I returned every
evening to the mother-ship. The two brigs which trained her boys were
the 'Nautilus' and the 'Pilot.' I was drafted to the latter for three
months. Speaking generally, daily sea trips were taken--that is to
say, that after making sail and slipping the buoy, we would leave
Plymouth Sound for the Channel, drill all day, and return to our
mooring in the evening, weary and fatigued, although, even then, we
had to scrub and wash clothes. On two occasions we took longer trips,
first to Dartmouth, and then to Portsmouth. Fearful was the weather
we experienced sailing to the latter port--fearful, I mean, to my
boyish experience, though I must say that even an old salt was heard
to pronounce it "a very stormy voyage."

I met with an accident on board the 'Pilot.' One night whilst at
anchor I was ordered to row the dinghy ashore. It was very wet and
dark, and in the act of climbing down the painter which attached the
boat to the boom, it was so slippery that I lost my grip and fell.
My shoeless feet came in contact with the boat's crutch (an
instrument with two arms into which the oar fits); my right foot bled
profusely, as one of these arms had pierced the flesh deeply. I
managed to get on board to the sick berth, and after the steward's
treatment it ceased bleeding. Whilst in the act of lashing up my
hammock the next morning I fell to the deck, so weak had I become by
the loss of so much blood on the previous night.

The discipline on board this brig, as on the 'Impregnable,' was rigid
in the extreme. On the upper deck at drill time would stand the
ship's corporal with his cane, and woe betide any boy who was not
putting his weight on the rope, or who was not doubling along the
deck. It may be of interest to remark here, that neither in the
'Impregnable' nor the 'Pilot' did I know the queer experience of
being lashed to the horse. This was due not so much because I did not
deserve it, as that I was fortunate enough to escape detection. To
appreciate the above remark the reader must realise the trivial
offences for which a poor boy is caned, and in the light of this
reflection he will wonder that any sailor boy should be a stranger to
the cane during his training.

Through all my naval career I was a sufferer to sea-sickness, which
began on this brig. No sooner had we passed the Plymouth Breakwater
Lighthouse, when the brig would begin rolling, and I would repair to
the lee-scupper. In connection with this part of my story I must not
omit to say a kind word for the captain. When many of us poor boys
lay strewn along the deck like stricken sheep, he, in passing from
the forecastle to poop, would not disturb us. This in itself may not
appear much, but in reality it was a great kindness, and one over
which I love to ponder. It was the act of a gentleman, to say the
least of it, and I cannot but believe that sympathy prompted it, and
in this sense it was Christlike. "Inasmuch," said the great Storm
Walker who quieted storm-tossed Galilee "as ye do it unto one of the
least of these My little ones, ye do it unto Me."

Very near the line of punishment did I approach when on this brig.
Working one day on the foretopsail yard, my knife, which by some
means had become detached from my lanyard, fell on the forecastle.
Fortunately it struck no one, and I was reprimanded only.

The course of training being completed, I was sent back to the
'Impregnable' on draft for sea. Within a few days an order was
received stating that a large company of boys were required for the
North American and West Indian Station, and I was numbered amongst



A few days prior to our departure, Miss Weston kindly invited the
draft ashore to her Sailors' Rest to tea, and presented each of us
with a Bible, and gave us all a tender farewell. Never will time
erase from my mind the memory of the parting with my loved ones; it
pains me now even as I dwell upon it. It was Sunday afternoon, and
two days prior to my sailing for Bermuda, when the heartrending
parting took place. Love can never say its last 'good-bye,' and
especially is this true of a mother's love. What thoughts were
passing through her mind that Sunday afternoon? God knows fully.
But surely they were tinged with this reflection: Would she ever see
me again? A shadow deep and dark had recently fallen across the home.
During my 'Foudroyant' days a messenger came on board with the sad
news that my dear sister had been almost burnt to death. I will not
dwell on the sadness of the awful tragedy, save to remark that she
died through the cause of the terrible burns three days after the
accident. The effect this had upon my mother is almost beyond
expression. Her nerves were shattered and she became a physical
wreck, and to this day she has never recovered from the shock. Judge
then, her sorrow on the Sunday afternoon, when I was bidding
'farewell,' and within a short time of that overwhelming experience.
I was now going thousands of miles away for three years, severed
from paternal counsel and maternal affection, and on this occasion
she was drinking the dregs of her cup of grief. Again, amidst
choking sobs and scalding tears, I uttered the last 'good-bye.' The
time had come for leaving, and I must depart. With two Sunday School
scholars, one on either side (for I had been to my Sunday School in
the afternoon for the last time), loaded with large parcels of food,
we passed down the street. How easy to write it down--how
heartbreaking the experience!

The great troopship's anchor was weighed on the Tuesday evening at 5
p.m., and we proceeded to sea. It was the month of October, and ere
the evening shadows had stretched upon land and sea, I had gazed upon
Maker church tower, at whose base my dear sister lay interred, until
my eyes were strained. At last it disappeared from view, and the
'Himalaya' was far, far at sea.

She made a good passage to Madeira, arriving there on the following
Sunday morning, and after coaling, we proceeded on the evening of the
same day to Bermuda. In the first watch of the night the cry was
heard: "Man overboard! Away lifeboat!" The lifebelt was let slip
immediately by the sentinel, the engines were reversed, and the
lifeboat with its crew lowered quickly from the davits. The lifeboat
was one of an improved pattern, fitted with accessories, such as two
calcium lights which burn for thirty minutes, and a whistle, the
latter being useful to the drowning man in a fog or in darkness to
indicate his-whereabouts.

Fortunately the poor man had seized the lifebelt. It was a dark
night, but astern the crew of the lifeboat could observe the calcium
lights burning. The boat's head was put in that direction, and in a
short time the sailor was rescued and rowed back to the ship. Did
this seaman accidentally fall from the rigging, or lose his grasp in
any manner? No; it is the same old story. Drink was the cause of the
accident. He had indulged himself in Madeira wine, which befooled him
to such a degree that he deliberately threw himself overboard, the
ship steaming eighteen knots an hour at the time. He was confined in
a cell the remainder of the voyage, and on arrival at Bermuda was
sentenced to a court-martial.

My spare time on the outward voyage was occupied in reading 'Daniel
Quorm,' one of Mark Guy Pearse's books, and in attending religious
meetings in the evening in the sail-maker's room. There were several
relief crews on board for the various ships of the station; hence
there were many Christians, and these evening gatherings were blessed
by God, and made profitable to all. We had on board one whose
destination was the prison at Bermuda, not to become a prisoner, by
the way, but a warder. This man, at 4 a.m. every morning, would
ferret out all the boys in the ship, sending them to the upper deck
to undergo a salt water bath, which to us all, at that untimely hour,
was a very trying ordeal.

Nine days after our departure from Madeira, we sighted Bermuda. So
calm had been the voyage that I was not troubled by sickness. A dusky
pilot came on board, and conned the ship onward through the Narrows,
and within a few hours we were securely fastened in the camber at the
dockyard. Then came the dispersion. Many ships of the fleet whose
commission was now drawing nigh to a close, were flying their
paying-off pennant, the crews of which were full of gladness at the
'Himalaya's' arrival, with reliefs, and, moreover, she was their
homeward-bound ship. We boys were despatched to H.M.S. 'Terror,' a
receiving ship at Bermuda. Here we were kept three weeks, during
which time the other ships of the fleet steamed in from sea. One day
the 'Emerald' hove in sight. All took an especial interest in this
ship, as we had learned she was the worst ship in the fleet for
boys--quite a 'waker-up.' Certain it was that some of us would be
told off for her.

The dreaded morning came at last, and on the quarterdeck of the
'Terror' we assembled to await our destiny. "Boys whose names I now
mention," said the officer, "will join the 'Bellerophon,' the
flagship of the fleet." Then followed a long list of names.
These 'Bellerophon' boys realised at the time it was better to be
fortunate than rich. In proceeding, the officer said:--"Eight boys
will join the 'Emerald.'" There was a silence that could be felt at
this expression, and all, excepting those who had been told off,
looked downcast and fearful. "Their names are," he continued,
"so-and-so, so-and-so . . . . and Cowling." "And the lot fell upon

It took me many hours to recover from this blow, but the whole of us
received the sympathy of all the other boys, who regarded us as
embryo martyrs. Next day we eight were taken on board the 'Emerald'
in her steam-launch, which came to fetch us. On boarding the ship, I,
in looking round to observe what kind of man it was who wielded the
cane, fell headlong down the hatchway with my bag of clothes. This I
thought was an admirable introduction.



I was ordered to join mess No. 7, to which belonged twenty seamen of
different ratings. According to naval etiquette, the boy, together
with a different seaman each day, who is termed cook of the mess, has
to prepare the dinner, fetch the victuals, clean the utensils and
take the dinner of any absentee to the galley to keep warm. In
addition to these domestic duties, he has his work in the watch to
which he belongs.

The First West Indian Cruise

Refitting work was finished, and in the month of January 1890 we left
Bermuda for the West Indies. This was my first sea trip on the
'Emerald,' as I had joined her a few days prior to Christmas 1889. We
visited most of the islands in the Indies, and, on the whole, it was
an eventful cruise. It would be a transgression of space on my part
to enter into all the details of it, such as narrating occasions when
we were caught in sudden squalls and how our gallant ship acted
under stress of weather, though on one occasion a large cutter was
washed away from the davits. However, I will narrate in brief one or
two incidents. One night whilst lying at anchor off Dominica, the
searchlight was used by way of practice. It was directed toward
shore, and whilst traversing it from right to left, the beams of
light enveloped a negro on the beach, who stood bewildered,
transfixed. After a moment's hesitation he bounded away like a hare,
the rays of light still following him, caused by manoeuvring the
instrument on board. Breathless he halted, and then in a most
terrified manner he turned about and ran in the opposite direction.
For a minute the searchlight was not moved, and the man was in the
safety of darkness. Judge of his dismay when again the light was
played upon him, whilst he was resting from his rapid wanderings up
and down the beach. Needless to say, it had the same effect. Little
did the negro dream what fun he was causing amongst the bluejackets
on our forecastle. Really, it was a shame to torment him so.

At another island I went ashore with a party of seamen, and entered a
plantation, where we freely helped ourselves to bunches of bananas,
cocoanuts and other fruit. We were under the impression that fruit of
this kind was common property, even as blackberries are in this our
own land, and this explains the weight of our heavy burdens on our
return journey. But this impression was soon to be banished from our
mind, for presently we came in contact with a gentleman, who,
understanding whence we had come, put a price on all our fruit. The
burdens in consequence became considerably lightened. I had to
satisfy myself with a few cocoanuts which cost a penny each, and was
compelled to leave behind my much loved bananas.

At Barbadoes each watch was granted forty-eight hours' leave. In
company with others I landed to visit the sugar-cane plantations.
These canes were being cut down by the thousand, and carted to the
mill, where between two immense rollers the juice was extracted. Our
guide passed round to each of us a cup of this juice to taste. He
then instructed us as to the different processes by which sugar is
made, and gave us the opportunity to see the large tanks in which it
was stowed. In these huge tanks was to be found sugar from the
highest degree of refinement down to the lowest degree of
inferiority. But the sight which struck me most of all was the
treacle-pit. I might enlarge upon the last sentence, but I forbear.

In one harbour there was a sailing match, the competition being
between the boats of the fleet. The second cutter of our ship, of
which I was one of the crew, entered for the race. With the halyards,
the sail was hoisted to the uppermost point, and the sheets pulled
taut aft. With a fresh breeze away we scudded. The boat, was soon on
her beam ends, taking in large quantities of water, which we bailed
out with our caps; still, this did not matter, as she was bounding
through the water like a wild thing. Crash! Crash! Went the mast, and
the boat was nearly capsized. The midshipman who steered her had
endeavoured to weather a schooner lying at anchor, but failed,
colliding with her jib-boom. The mast was lashed in a temporary
manner, and we proceeded, but not far, when a sudden gust of wind
disabled us. We were signalled back to the ship and disqualified for
further racing.

The cruise being over, we returned to Bermuda with the fleet, and
after taking in stores, left for the Newfoundland fisheries. Two
other ships accompanied the 'Emerald' (V12)--the 'Pelican' and
'Buzzard.' On this cruise, our captain being senior to the other two,
we stood in the relationship of flagship to them, and flew the
Commodore's flag until such time as we should again meet the
Admiral's ship, when it would be struck.

Before making any observations upon some incidents of this cruise, I
will give the reader in barest outline a sketch of life on board a
naval sea-going ship. At sea each man gets four and six hours' rest
each alternate night--that is, if he keeps the first watch of the
night, 8 to 12 p.m., his resting hours are from 12 to 4. At 4 he has
to rise again and scrub decks, whereas if he is in his hammock from 8
to 12, then he keeps the middle watch, returning to his rest at 4.
Let us imagine the ship at sea. It is midnight. The bell is struck.
Immediately is heard a deep bass voice to and fro the lower deck--
"All the starboard watch! Heave out! heave out! heave out! Show a leg!
show a leg! All the starboard Watch! Show a leg!" which means "Turn
out of your hammock." At five minutes past midnight, a tinkle of a
bell is heard, followed by the same deep voice calling "Watch to
muster!" Every seaman has to run to the quarterdeck, and on the
midshipman calling his name, has to give in his number. This being
done the boatswain's mate pipes, "Sea-boats' crew and relieves fall

In answer to this call the crew of the lifeboat and certain men of
the watch who have special duties to perform, called 'tricks,' during
the next four hours, present themselves before the quarter-master,
who, being satisfied that the correct number there, dismisses them.
Two look-out men are required for each hour of the watch, four for
steering, the weather and lee helmsman being relieved every two
hours, eight for the chains. The uniform time for heaving the lead,
by which is ascertained the depth of water, is one hour, but as
circumstances alter cases, it was found necessary on our fishery
cruises to reduce the time one-half. So intense was the cold that
each man upon entering the chain would bathe his hands in warm
grease, provided for the purpose of enabling him to heave the lead.
Here is a little story in connection with this 'trick.' Two men
agreed one night to toss up a penny and to decide thereby as to which
of them should do the full hour, in order that one of them might be
relieved from his work--for, be it said, unless there are yards to
trim, or sails to furl or set, the watch on deck can lie down to
rest, but under no circumstance is any seaman allowed to go below
until the four hours are expired. However, after a little parleying,
they came to the conclusion that each would do his own 'trick.'
Accordingly one did his duty, and was awaiting, to be relieved by the
other, but not a trace of him could be discovered for some time,
until at length he was found sleeping behind a large gun. This man
then told his mate, by way of explanation, that he had had a dream in
which he dreamt they both tossed up and he had won, and that
therefore the one wanting relief was to do the hour's trick.

When daylight dawns the 'look-out' is transferred from the topgallant
forecastle to the forecross trees, or, if sail is set, to the
foretopsail yard. Many an hour have I spent, from time to time, on
the topsail yard, often sick and giddy, when the ship has been
rolling and dipping. Thoughts of home would gather in my mind, and
there aloft, where no human eye could see, have I cried aloud, giving
vent to my pent-up feelings. Sick, I say, yes, and bareheaded, using
my cap for a sanitary purpose, rather than get into trouble by being
sick overt the sails.

At 9 a.m. is the inspection of uniform, followed by prayers. Should
it be Tuesday or Thursday, rifles and cutlasses are inspected, and
each man is supposed to wear his boots. This to many is hateful. In
my watch was a man named Timothy Hennesy, who on 'small-arm' days
would bind with spun-yarn his big toe, thereby giving the inspecting
officer the impression he had hurt it, and was in consequence excused
from wearing his boots.

Following this inspection, one watch goes below to make or mend their
clothes, and the other remains on deck until noon. Dinner is piped,
but it is not very tempting to one's appetite. Salt pork or beef with
preserved potatoes form the menu. Spending the greater part of the
three years at sea, our share of salt food was abundant, and in order
to prevent scurvy, lime-juice was distributed.

After this meal the watches change again, the forenoon watch below
going on deck until 4 p.m., the other remaining below.

I once endeavoured to make me a flannel. The stitches I must confess,
were long and irregular; but worse than that, when attaching the
sleeves to the main part, I misplaced end for end, so that when I
came to try on this novel garment the wide part hung in bights around
my wrist, the narrow part fitting tightly round my arm. So much for
my reversed sleeves. No more sowing engaged my time in the watch

At 4 p.m. tea is piped. It consists of a basin of tea minus milk, and
a small allowance of hard biscuit. Food being so scanty in the navy,
the sailors apply this appellation to their mess, 'The Drum,' thus
signifying that as far as food is concerned the mess is as empty as a
drum. "Which drum do you belong to?" they ask.

Half an hour being allowed for tea, then another inspection of the
crew in night clothing takes place. Sail drill is then engaged in for
a couple of hours, and the routine of the day is brought to an end by
the washing of clothes.

At twilight the look-out man is called down from the mast-head, and
takes up his position on the forecastle, the bow lights being lit at
the same time. Hammocks are hung up at 7.30 p.m., and supper is
indulged in, which the messes buy at the canteen, none being provided
by the Admiralty.

The life of a sailor boy is a very unpleasant one in a seagoing ship.
Early in the morning he has to take his hammock on deck to undergo
the inspection of the ship's corporal, who, before the boy is allowed
to stow it, satisfies himself it is lashed up in the uniform manner.
Then follows the inspection of knees and elbows, and should any boy
not be clean, the others are deputed to scrub him. Next comes the
climbing of the mast-head. These are but three of the many
inconveniences he has to suffer until such time as he is rated O.D.
or ordinary seaman.

Every one knows that discipline and cleanliness go hand in hand on
board our men-of-war. In fact the latter is carried to an absurd
extreme. From four to six in the early morning, it is almost
impossible watch below to snatch a little sleep, as immediately over
their heads are men scrubbing, or holystoning the upper deck. I fail
to see that "cleanliness is next to godliness" under such

Saturday is essentially a cleaning day, and nothing is overlooked.
Decks are made as white and clean as possible, cables are
whitewashed, guns are burnished; in short, everything appears brand
new. The captain's inspection takes place every Sunday morning. So
particular was our captain that he would never hesitate to descend
into magazines to inspect every little corner, although the whitewash
on the sides of these small rooms rubbed against his uniform at each

It was ever a great load removed from the mind of the petty officer
who had charge of flats and certain parts of the deck when his
inspection was over. But if fault had been found great was their

The payment of the crew, as in all ships, took place on the first day
of each month. "Hands to muster for payment, soap and tobacco!" would
shout the boatswain's mate. Any man was at liberty to forego the last
two items, or the whole three for that matter. As a rule, however,
most of the crew took up their money and bar of soap--two very
needful requisites, the non-smokers preferring their two shillings in
lieu of the two pounds of tobacco the value of which was deducted
from the next month's payment.

The First Newfoundland Cruise

Now for the first fishery cruise. Halifax was our next port of call
after leaving Bermuda. Halifax seemed dear to us after we had paid
our first visit there, the reason being rather a curious one.
Bum-boat men were wont to visit the ships with large quantities of
sausages, which were quickly bought up, being regarded as a luxury. I
have seen the cook's galley crowded with seamen frying these
sausages, and on several occasions a sentry was placed to prevent a
crush. Halifax! Sausages! The two names were synonymous to our crew,
and even to-day I cannot partake of sausages without my thoughts
wandering off to Halifax. Who can tell the laws of mental
association! It was here that I first saw the present Prince of
Wales, who then was in command of the gun-boat 'Thrush.' Ere leaving
this port each man of the three fishery ships was served out with a
pair of sea-boots and warm underclothing, in preparation for the
intense cold we should feel on the Newfoundland and Labrador coasts.
I understand the Canadian Government were responsible for this,
kindly distribution. We left for St. John's, Newfoundland, and this
port was our headquarters for the next few months. In cruising around
the island from time to time, the most awe-inspiring sights were the
ice-bergs and ice-fields which we passed day by day. Forteau Bay, the
place where the gun-boat 'Lily' was wrecked, was pointed out to me.
Sad to relate, we lost a shipmate on this voyage. Scudding along one
morning under a fair wind with all sail set, and the crew cleaning
guns, suddenly there arose the cry "Man overboard! Away lifeboat!"
The order was "Heave to!" The poor fellow, however, had sunk beneath
the sea almost instantly. The water being so bitterly cold it was
supposed the cramp seized him. He, at the time of the accident, was
outside the ship cleaning the muzzle of a gun, when she gave a lurch
which overbalanced him into the sea. No frivolity was there that day,
or for the ensuing week, amongst the crew. The unhappy event had a
moral effect upon us all, and a deep solemnity prevailed.

Leaving the fisheries, bound for Bermuda, we called at Halifax to
return loan-stores, such as our boots and warm clothing. Arriving at
Bermuda, our ship was put in the floating dock and overhauled
preparatory to our second visit to the West Indies. Here again we
spent our second Christmas. Just a word about it. Christmas day in
the navy is recognised as the day of days. Even the ordinary routine
is reversed, so that instead of the seamen pumping water, and
sweeping decks, and similar duties, the petty officers do it. Then, I
may say, nothing is overlooked in the way of choice victuals. Each
man, as Christmas approaches, contributes to the caterer of his mess,
so that no luxury may be lacking on Christmas day. Added to this, the
canteen allowed each man six shillings, and this of course meant
several pounds to each mess. Stint is a foreign word to most naval
men, and Christmas-tide is a demonstration of this fact.

Messes emulate each other as to decorations. Many crafty and
dexterous men are there in all our ships who take a delight in this
kind of work: they also vie with each other as to the quality of
their plum puddings. Time would fail to tell you the ingredients with
which they are made. This I know, that if one 'duff' should contain
an extra ingredient to any other, that same 'duff' is pronounced the
best. The number of ingredients, then, forms the standard of judgment
for naval plum puddings.

On this occasion a Dutch ship was lying near to the 'Emerald.' Most
of the crew paid a visit on board, and having an abundance of good
things, we welcomed them to enjoy them with us. To be sure no
objection was raised on their part. Having thoroughly enjoyed their
dinner, they exclaimed in broken English: "Good Engish Navy, we
should dike to be in you navy to have food dike dis--we git no good
dhings dike dese." Poor souls! evidently they understood we had at
all times a similar mid-day meal, but this belief would have been
contradicted by experience had they sat to dinner with us within
three days. The Dutch sailors grew fond of us, and we of them, and
this bond of social friendship was created on Christmas day, which I
think was rather unique, as it fulfilled the spirit of the words:--

"Peace on earth, goodwill to men."

On the fisheries the captain had met with an accident, and was
granted six weeks' leave at Bermuda. It being noised abroad that both
he and his lady were coming on board at Christmas to inspect the
decorations, special interest therefore was taken in the same, and
the decorators excelled themselves in their art, far beyond the limit
of the previous year's display. No pains were spared, no time
begrudged to make everything as beauteous as possible. I have a
secret notion that although the captain had not been on board for
several weeks, being an invalid ashore, that such lovely decorations
were not altogether a manifestation of sympathy on the part of the
crew toward him, but rather the motive power, or the cause, of which
the decorations were the effect, lay in the fact that his lady was
accompanying him. That explains it. A word to the wise is sufficient.

The idlers' mess (all tradesmen in the navy are termed idlers with
the exception of carpenters) made an artificial fountain. It was
surrounded with huge stones and dripping moss, and several spouts
were in full play. It was most certainly a work of skill.

All hands were on the watch for the approach of the steam launch
bearing the two distinguished visitors. Presently she hove in sight,
and also another from the 'Bellerophon' bringing the Admiral of the
Fleet. In a short time the three were inspecting the lower deck. In
each mess stood the cook, holding on a plate a piece of plum pudding
for them to taste. As they entered each compartment pop-guns were
fired as a salute.

Over one mess were inscribed these words:--

"Sir Baldwin's proved a noble man
 Around the coast of Newfoundland,
 And we hope the Queen will make him K.C.B."

When the inspection was over the boatswain's mate piped--"Clear lower
deck: hands cheer Captain and his lady," and ere the two had reached
the upper deck, the drum and fife band played

"For he's a jolly good fellow."

Three cheers for the captain and his lady were heartily shouted by
the crew. So overcome by these expressions of loyalty was the captain
that he gave orders to the master-at-arms to inform the ship's
company that words failed him to give an adequate reply.

The Second West Indian Cruise

On the 4th of the next month we departed for our second West Indian
cruise with the fleet. I may here remark that we had three men on
board who bore the names of Shrodnisky, Taglabeau, and Dobrisky,
their nationality being Russian, French, and Dutch respectively. The
former had the honour of being the ship's organist, but for some
reason now resigned. The chaplain understanding I could play, sent
for me, and asked if I would accept the post of organist and commence
the duty on the following Sunday. I was very glad and thankful of
such an opportunity presented to me, and replied in the affirmative,
not entirely because it meant fivepence a day extra to my service
pay, though of course this was a consideration, but mainly for the
reason that it would afford me privileges for musical culture.

The Sunday came, and I must have played the instrument
satisfactorily, as at the conclusion of the service the captain
congratulated me, intimating also that free access to his cabin, in
which the organ was kept, should be afforded me whenever he was
staying ashore at any port on the station. I thanked him, and seized
such opportunities as they presented themselves for the purpose of

It may be of interest to remark that when church was 'rigged,'
capstan bars supported by a bucket at each end constituted the
extempore pew.

I have often wished that such arrangements might be made in some
places of worship. It would ensure a wide-awake congregation, for the
seats would then be three inches in width without a back.

On this second visit to the West-Indies we had many poor Sundays--
poor, I mean, from a sailor's point of view. The organ was often
lashed, and I had enough to do to keep my balance, the crew on such
occasions clinging to fixtures such as hatchways and stanchions with
one hand, and holding the hymn-book in the other, singing heartily:--

"Eternal Father! strong to save,
 Whose arm hath bound the restless wave."

But some may ask, Had the desire to become a preacher diminished? Not
at all; it was always present with me, and truth to tell, I was ever
informing those around me, and even civilian friends ashore, that on
reaching England I should enter the ministry, though at that time of
day I knew not how my freedom was to be brought about. But confident
I was that this passion for preaching was not implanted within me to
be quenched by adverse circumstances, and often would this verse
appeal to me forcibly: "O rest in the Lord; wait patiently for Him,
and He shall give thee thy heart's desire."

Sometimes a religious meeting was held in the cell flat, conducted by
the chaplain and a lieutenant, and my attendance at these meetings
helped me to form a slight acquaintance with the latter. On Sunday
afternoon he sent for me, saying that in the evening he was going
ashore to take the service in a large church, and asked if I would
accompany him and address the congregation. I went to my mess, and
there in quietude--for on Sunday afternoons sailors indulge in a
nap, and it was invariably so on the 'Emerald,' some asleep on the
lockers, others under the mess-table, the ditty box of each man being
the pillow--I prepared my discourse. The church was crowded that
evening, and following the lieutenant's address, a hymn was sung, and
it was singing! I have heard none like it since. I now preached to
this multitude, and how attentive they were! That was many years ago,
and I like to think that my first sermon was preached to a negro
audience in the West Indies at the age of sixteen. The subject was
Joseph as a type of Christ.

On this second West Indian cruise the ships of the fleet took part in
a sailing match from St. Lucia to Jamaica, the 'Bellerophon'
departing a day or two in advance of the other ships. When clear of
St. Lucia the screws were lifted, as no steaming was allowed, though
I think the flagship used both steam and sail. Be that as it may, no
other ship did. This match was a great competition, each commander
doing his utmost to trim the sails to the best advantage. The
'Pelican's' commander ordered all the heavy shot to be brought astern
of his vessel, and all manner of schemes were resorted to to increase
the speed. On the fifth day at sea we sighted the 'Bellerophon' on
the horizon, and in a few hours overhauled her, thus gaining the
position of the leading ship, which was maintained until we reached
Jamaica. As the 'Emerald' passed her that day the brass band
assembled on the poop to play "See the Conquering Hero comes." The
last ship to pass her was the 'Canada,' the band playing--"Where have
you been all the day?" which undoubtedly they thought very
appropriate. The second best ship in the fleet for sailing was the
'Pelican,' and for days she kept very close to the 'Emerald,' but
never overtook her.

As I now write, there hangs before me on the wall a picture
illustrating this race, bearing this inscription:--

H.M.S. 'Emerald'--12 guns.

From St. Lucia to Jamaica, January 19, 1891. The fleet racing, the
'Emerald' beating every other ship. Band of Admiral's ship playing--
"See the Conquering Hero comes."

At length the fleet reached Jamaica. Two ships (V12), the
'Bellerophon' and 'Thrush,' proceeded up Kingston harbour, and on the
night upon which the Great Exhibition was opened--and I think Prince
George, the commander of the 'Thrush,' opened it--all the fleet was
decorated aloft with incandescent lights--a truly grand sight. Two
Russian ships were present, and their decorations surpassed our
English display. One of them had the initial P shining between the
foremast and mainmast, and G between the main mast and mizenmast.
This was in honour of Prince George.

Just another incident in connection with this cruise. Our ship lay
anchored off Curaçoa, and one morning whilst hoisting the
foretopgallant mast, the mast' rope entwined round the foot of a
seaman, causing him to fall from the topsail yard to the topgallant
forecastle. He lived but a short time afterward. A coffin was made
and covered in blue cloth--the custom of the service--and we followed
him ashore to the grave. There was in harbour at the same time a
Dutch ship--in fact, the very ship whose crew we had invited on board
at Bermuda on Christmas day. The Dutchmen landed, bringing on shore
with them three beautiful wreaths, thus manifesting their sympathy
and respect. At the graveside many of them begged to be allowed to
throw in the grave a shovelful of earth, a still further proof, I
take it, of their kindly feeling toward the 'Emerald's' crew in their
loss of a shipmate.

The fleet returned to headquarters. We prepared for the fishery
cruise, believing it to be our last. The flag-ship had now received
orders to leave for England as soon as the 'Blake' should arrive. One
morning it was reported that the flag-ship's relief was coming up the
Narrows. We had heard of this wonderful ship, of her heavy armament,
and the electric lighting system on all her decks. What wonder, then,
that we were anxious to behold her? As she drew nearer every eye was
upon her, with the exception, however, of one man, who evidently took
no interest in her arrival. He and I were together in a boat, and
whilst I was gazing on the 'Blake,' he leaned over the side of the
boat, and seized something that was floating along. He pulled it out
of the water, and threw it on my foot. In less than a minute I was in
an agony of pain, my foot swelled and burned with fiery heat, and I
jumped about like a madman. I was taken to the sick berth, and the
doctor treated it with oil and flour, which gave me a little ease.

Now this, that my companion threw on my foot, was a fish known as a
Portuguese man-of-war--at least, that is the name by which naval men
know it. When floating on the water it resembles a glass bottle, but
under the surface it has long fangs several inches in length, and it
was these which stung me. He was very sorry that he did such a stupid
act, but I suppose having read or heard about this class of fish, he
thought he would put to an experimental test the power of its sting,
and chose my foot for that purpose.

The Second Newfoundland Cruise.

The 'Bellerophon' left for Plymouth the day after. Whilst all the
crews cheered her from aloft she steamed amongst the ships, her band
playing meantime 'Auld Lang Syne' and 'Home Sweet Home.' There was
more than one on the 'Emerald' who desired to be on the flag-ship
that day. We left Bermuda shortly after the 'Bellerophon' for another
fishery cruise, calling at the Port of Sausages for warm clothing--
yes, and for more sausages. At this time I was rated an O.D., which
meant that I was regarded as a man. The dish-cloth was hung up in the
mess as an outward and visible sign that we had parted company--for I
may say until a boy is rated ordinary seaman, he is a slave to
domestic work in his mess. Another change was made with this rating--
I was transferred from the quarter-deck part of the ship to a
flying-jib stower. A word of explanation here. The flying-boom is the
furthermost pole projecting from the ship's bow, and the sail which
is furled upon it is called the flying jib. Many narrow escapes had I
on the flying-boom, having to cling to it for dear life when the ship
dipped in the trough of the sea, causing me to be drenched through
and through; then like a fearless bird she would rise quickly toward
the sky, only to descend just as rapidly in the hollow of the next
oncoming wave. Giddy, sick, and faint have I furled with my mate the
flying jib, pinched with the cold and wet. It is impossible for me to
put down on paper what the bitterness of my life then was--it cannot
be reduced to writing. Often I found relief by stealing away to the
topgallant forecastle, and on the wash-deck locker lay with my face
buried in my arms and sob, praying to God to deliver me.

A very monotonous cruise was this one. Anticipating as much, I bought
a melodeon at Halifax, and in my evening watch below would play some
of Sankey's hymns. The men were only too glad to sing, and presently
the whole mess deck would ring with bright and hearty singing. This
was as a tonic to me then, and is now, for nothing, to my mind, is so
inspiring as music accompanied with powerful song.

What was our surprise one day when steaming into St. John's harbour
to find the city devastated by fire, which in some parts was still
smouldering! It appeared that the fire had broken out a day or two
previous to our arrival, and that it swept through the city in a
maddening rush, accelerated by the high winds, and the dearth of
water whereby to extinguish it. The heat, whilst the fire was raging,
was so intense that all craft in the harbour had to put to sea in
order to escape their sails being singed. Rich men's safes were taken
to the water and cast in, and our divers were given the task of
finding them again subsequently. We had looked forward to forty-eight
hours' leave, but it was out of the question now. The Governor of the
colony being absent from the capital, our captain took pre-eminence,
and placed the inhabitants under martial law. Public houses were
closed, and we patrolled the city night and day with blank and ball
cartridges, for it was thought a panic might ensue, or worse still,
that evil-disposed persons might set fire to the other side of the
harbour, where were stored thousands of tons of cod-liver oil. A
strict watch was kept afloat also, our steam-launch patrolling the
harbour all night with an armed crew.

What about the dangerous ruins--should they be left standing? A party
of bluejackets went ashore with charges of dynamite to blow them
down. In the execution of their duty one of them found a part of the
silver communion plate which belonged to the English cathedral buried
in the debris. He brought it on board, and a skilled tradesman
converted it into various articles. I bought a ring which was made
out of it, but unfortunately lost it overboard. As to places of
worship, I think the only two which remained intact were the barracks
of the Salvation Army. As a relic of that great fire, I have in my
possession the stamp with which the books and papers in the Atheneum
reading room were marked.

There were landed from our ship quantities of stores, such as canvas
to shelter the homeless people, and barrels of salt provisions as
their victuals. The inhabitants after a while becoming somewhat
reconciled to their misfortune, we left St. John's to see it no more,
or so we then understood. We sailed for Bermuda, calling on the way
at Halifax. "Just another cruise to the West Indies, boys, and then
to dear old England," was the comforting assurance with which we
often hailed one another. As on two previous occasions, so now again,
we spent our Christmas at Bermuda with the fleet. The decorations on
this our third Christmas-tide were not to be compared with the
preceding year--a significant sign that there had been more scope for
harmonious feeling between officers and men during the last twelve
months. "Never mind, lads, we shall spend next Christmas at home,"
was the word of consolation passed from one mess to another.

It was customary when the fleet was thus assembled to hold
battalion-days--that is to say, that all the various crews would land
with their rifles and cutlasses, and a field gun from each ship.
Headed by the flag-ship's band, we would be marched to a plain, and
there engage in infantry drill as a battalion. Meantime the guns'
crews were competing with each other as to their qualifications for
smartness. The guns would be taken to pieces, unlimbered, and
scattered on the ground, and the wheels of the gun-carriage wheeled
away a considerable distance. On the order being given to "Limber up,
and fire!" the crew which mounted its gun and fired the first shot
earned the laurels. On one occasion the gun's crew of the
'Bellerophon' gained the honour, but unfortunately, through the
neglect of one to serve the vent, the poor fellow lost his right arm,
which was blown into atoms. I am pleased to add that every man and
officer in the fleet freely gave him a day's payment, which in its
totality amounted to nearly a thousand pounds.

It was during this stay at Bermuda that I was nearly shot dead. With
others, I had landed to do my annual firing, which is required of
every man in the navy. We had to fire ten shots from each firing
point, which were separated a hundred yards apart from each other.
There were six firing points, and therefore the limit for firing at
the target was six hundred yards. I had fired my ten shots from the
first point, and now had receded to the two hundred yards range. We
fired in couples. I had made eight bull's eyes on the target, which
delighted me, and after discharging my tenth shot my shipmate had
still to fire his. He held the rifle in the firing position, and was
in the act of pulling the trigger, when I passed within two inches of
his muzzle. I just cleared it when the bullet was fired. It would
have been my fault wholly and solely had an accident happened, as I
ought to have dropped to the rear, instead of passing to the front.
How can I doubt Providence in the light of this incident? It was God
who made the trigger hard to pull that day, and I am positive that
had it been an easy pull-off, the bullet would have passed through my
head, as my mate fired from the kneeling position.

At Halifax all men who had no tunic were ordered to get one. A tailor
came on board and took the measurement of such men, taking on shore
the cloth to make the tunics. Twenty-six shillings were deducted from
my payment, this being the price of my tunic, as I belonged to the
class who were deficient of this article of uniform. Strange to say,
a notice was hung up on the board a few weeks later, stating that
tunics would henceforth be abolished in Her Majesty's navy. Then
followed abundant complaint. "This is a hoax," said one. "Better far
had we spent the twenty-six shillings in sausages," remarked another.
At the time this notice appeared, I had not even tried on my tunic,
and by way of comfort, it was pointed out by the officials that the
tunics might be exchanged for fruit in the West Indies. This did not
appeal very strongly to any.

For a long time a pet goat was kept on board. (By the way, I may say
it was more of a pest than a pet.) It was the most curious animal
that ever I had seen. It took a walk around the lower deck almost
every night, making a dreadful noise which, of course, proved the
means of awaking many sailors. The mess deck in the morning was
usually strewn with boots and shoes, and the general cry was--"Where
are my shoes?" for you may be sure that he who threw such weapons at
the goat would not throw his own. Hence, if a man were looking for
his shoes in the morning, it was a sure sign that he had not been
annoyed by the goat's lower-deck visit during the night, or in other
words, that he was a very sound sleeper.

To the carpenters, however, the goat was useful, as it had a habit of
eating the shavings which fell from their benches. That, to my mind,
was the one redeeming feature of this goat.

While we were at Bermuda it died. Scores of men went to its funeral.
We managed to get a trolly and laid 'Billy' upon it. The procession
was formed, and away we marched through the dockyard. Some of us were
glad that we should see its face no more, others were rather
sorrowful, and expressed their sorrow by wrapping around the goat
their tunics. Never was a goat buried with such honours. I cannot
tell you how many new tunics were buried with it, but there were
many, and when it is remembered that the cost of each was twenty-six
shillings one is right in concluding it was rather an expensive

The Third West Indian Cruise.

Away to the West Indies for the third and last time. We caught a
large shark during this trip. Laying at anchor one afternoon in water
which was infested by this class of fish, suddenly someone shouted,
"There's a shark caught astern!" All hands hurried aft on the poop to
see this sight. The bait, consisting of a large piece of pork, had
invited this monster, which was now writhing in pain in the water.
The gunnery instructor shot it, and with a jigger we hauled it
aboard. It was then cut open, and a dexterous marine took out its
back-bone, which he cleaned and varnished, and passing a steel rod
through the various parts made an admirable walking-stick.

Rowing ashore in the cutter one morning I espied on the landing steps
of the pier at Jamaica a large octopus. It had been left high and
dry, and was therefore "like a fish out of water." Understanding it
was a deadly enemy, I seized a long boat-hook, with which I pierced
it to death; then drawing near, I examined it thoroughly, and counted
its suckers.

I was at this time put in charge of the small-arm magazine, and
whenever the ship was in mock-action--usually on Friday mornings--it
was my duty to descend into the magazine, and hook on boxes of
ammunition, which were pulled up by marines to the lower deck.
Carriers would then run away to the upper deck with them, from which
place they would be hoisted aloft, for the sharp-shooters in the fore
and main tops. The duty of the men aloft in the time of war would be
to shoot the officers on board the enemy's ships.

Occasionally the bugle would sound 'Action' by night. No specified
night was set apart for this evolution, hence it always came as a
surprise. "Coming events cast their shadow before," but this is not
applicable to 'Action' by night at sea; it is left entirely to the
captain's pleasure. The response to the bugle call is a sight never
to be forgotten. Every man dresses hurriedly--no, that is the wrong
word, for I have known them in their haste put the leg of their
trousers over their head in mistake for their jumpers, and others,
including myself, put their feet through the sleeves of the jumper,
mistaking them for trousers. And what wonder such errors are made,
when at sea no light is allowed on the lower deck by night, and all
is like sevenfold darkness! Each man has to put three hitches around
his hammock--seven are the uniform number--but the enemy is in sight,
therefore three hitches have to suffice to keep blanket and bedding
together. The hammock is then unhooked, and if the bluejacket belongs
to the former part of the ship, he has to bear it away for storage on
the topgallant forecastle; if to the after-part, he carries it away
to the poop. The reason for the hammocks being stowed on these two
places, is to provide a breakwater for the enemy's shots.

Every man rushes away to his respective station. Sharpshooters seize
their rifles and climb the rigging; captains of broadside guns and
guns' crews repair to their guns and cast off the securing chains;
magazine men with a lantern descend the magazines. One who had never
seen this sight would find it difficult to believe with what rapidity
the movement is carried out. Two minutes after the bugle has sounded,
some such order as this is given from the officers' bridge. "Enemy
off the port bow! make ready with shrapnell shell. Distance three
thousand yards. Elevation twenty degrees." The gun loaded, the
breech-block closed, every captain of his gun stands to the rear with
the lanyard in his hand awaiting the order "Fire!" which when given,
the gun is fired, sponged and reloaded. The order might then be
given--"Prepare to ram," in which case the sights are made ready for
eight hundred yards, and the guns are fired by electricity, the guns'
crews lying down under cover of their respective guns. Other drills
are engaged in, until the bugle sounds:--"Cease firing," "Return
stores." The men after obeying this command take their hammocks below
deck, and providing they belong to the watch below, 'turn in' and
resume their sleep; if to the watch on duty, they repair to the upper

One night whilst engaged in action an ammunition box fell upon my
hand, taking off four finger-nails. This is only one of the accidents
which happen at sea when the ship rolls heavily.

As a ship's company our character would compare favourably with that
of any other crew on the station. There were only eight desertions,
and one court-martial case in three years. The 'Emerald' was anchored
off Dominica. One evening an order was received to prepare for sea
immediately, and proceed to St. Lucia to undergo the Admiral's
inspection the next morning. The capstan was rigged, the anchor
weighed, and soon we were at sea, and every man as busy as a bee. The
main yard was lowered and scrubbed, decks received special attention;
in fact, we were cleaning all night. In the morning we took up our
anchorage at St. Lucia. "All hands" were rushing about their work
like madmen. There was no help for it, so short had been the
Admiral's notice of his inspection. One bluejacket was whitewashing
the inboard part of the cable. The boatswain, believing he was not
doing it as quickly as he might, passed a deprecating remark. The
sailor in an instant seized a broom which lay near, and lifted it
to strike the boatswain, but hesitated, and laid it down. He was
put under arrest then and there, the charge against him being
"Attempting to strike a superior officer." The boatswain demanded a
court-martial, which was held later at Jamaica, the court passing a
sentence of eighteen months' imprisonment upon the doomed man. This
poor fellow in former years had been a heavy drinker, but during our
commission had not taken a drop of liquor--not even his daily
allowance of rum. It was understood that ere he left England he had
promised a dying sister that he would not touch intoxicants again,
and hitherto was faithful to his vow. He received the sympathy of the
captain, officers and crew. As his pay would henceforth be stopped,
though he were supporting a widowed mother, this sympathy took a
practical form. A subscription list was opened, and all subscribed.
In this way his poor mother received her half-pay as formerly, the
captain sending it home monthly.

As a matter of fact he had served a previous term of imprisonment,
which was much in his disfavour, and he knew full well this would be
taken into consideration by the court. With this thought weighing
upon his mind, and whilst waiting his turn to appear before his
judges, he wept like a child--he who was always so brave, courageous
and manly. This is a touching instance--an instance of a poor soul
striving to do right, striving to be faithful, amid daily temptation,
to a sister who had gone before, yet because in a moment of weakness
he was overtaken in a fault, he was treated in such a harsh and cruel
manner. Certainly discipline must be maintained in the service, and
had the matter been settled by the captain, his punishment would have
been very lenient in comparison with that meted out by the court. But
the boatswain demanded a court-martial. I will not dilate on his
action, but remember the Master's words--"Blessed are the merciful,
for they shall obtain mercy."

Concerning minor punishments, they were meted out almost daily, such
as fourteen days in a cell, seven days IOA or IOB. To be confined in
a cell is the penalty for returning on board ship intoxicated, or for
breaking several days' leave. For prudential reasons the knife and
lanyard of a seaman is taken away when the sentence of cell
confinement is passed. In his cell he has to pick a pound of oakum
daily, which is weighed every night by the ship's corporal, and his
food consists of bread and water, and for the greater part of the
confinement he is deprived of his bedding. Let me give an amusing
incident in connection with cell punishment. We had shipped at St.
John's a young man as an assistant to the captain's cook. Departing
from the naval rule of discipline, he received seven days' cell
seclusion. One night when the doctor went his usual round asking each
prisoner if all were well, this poor fellow replied: "No, sir, I have
not enough to eat; I should like a pound of cheese from the canteen."
Needless to add he obtained no cheese, and his very request indicates
how greatly he lacked knowledge concerning naval discipline, but he
learned it in the school of experience.

I mentioned seven days IOA. Now, although I passed through my
training days without being beaten by many stripes, I was not so
fortunate in the 'Emerald,' though my punishment is but a pin-prick,
hardly worth mentioning, but I do so in order to point out that I was
no superior being. Strange man indeed would he be who, on such a ship
as the 'Emerald,' never stood as a defaulter on the quarterdeck. Yes,
I once received seven days IOA, which being interpreted means--That
the bluejacket's rum is, stopped; that he is not allowed to smoke;
that he only gets thirty minutes to dinner, and has to eat it with
other IOA men off a piece of canvas spread out on the upper deck, and
the other half of the dinner hour he has to whitewash spare cells:
moreover, that he has to rise at 4 a.m. mornings and scrub decks--all
this included in IOA. My readers will readily notice that the first
clause is a means of strengthening the temperance cause, and
non-smokers will see no punishment in the second clause, whilst those
who are fond of picnics will consider the third clause a pleasure,
but the pinch is felt in the fact that during IOA one's leave
is cancelled. Now, IOB is similar to IOA with one or two slight

Although I was not a smoker I once spat on the deck, and was marked
doing so by the first lieutenant. He ordered me to patrol the deck in
my spare time with a cutlass, and to capture the first man who
repeated the sin, Next day I discovered a transgressor and took him
aft to the officer of the day, before whom he confessed and was
ordered to relieve me of the cutlass. The sin was a general one, I
take it, if judged by the number of men to whom the sword was

The Third Newfoundland Cruise.

The last southern cruise was drawing to an end, and many were the
conjectures as to which place we should depart for England, but the
general belief was that it would be Bermuda. When arriving here, at
the conclusion of the cruise, we heard news which faded the brightest
hope and caused much murmuring. It was to the effect that we had to
sail to the fisheries once more. Away to Halifax for another share of
warm clothing' and at this port complaining ceased, and I will let
you into a secret--the sausages proved the remedy. Who could grumble
when living upon such dainties?

On reaching St. John's we saw great improvements in the city. During
our absence wooden buildings had been erected, and the appearance of
a devastated place had vanished. I will write of two incidents which
occurred--the first being pleasant, the second unpleasant. Our ship
had moored one evening in a creek on the west of Newfoundland. It was
a notorious place for salmon. A large net was put across the creek at
its narrowest width, and on hauling it into the boat ninety salmon
were caught. These were distributed to the messes, who all enjoyed
the salmon dinner, being a pleasant change from salt meat.

Sailing in the second cutter with a high wind blowing and having 'put
about,' I noticed the lee-main-stay was not made fast, but was
dangling outside the boat. I rose from the bottom of the cutter and
stretched out my hand to seize it, when instantly the lee gunwale
dipped under water and so did I, with the exception of my right leg,
which was jammed crossways in the rowlock. In this position I was
carried along for a distance of forty yards, and when the squall had
passed over, the boat's crew pulled me in. When naval cutters are
under sail the rowlock fittings are filled up with a piece of wood,
which corresponds to the fitting. Someone had neglected to slip this
piece of wood into the rowlock which held me by the foot. Thank God
for that neglect; it was a kindly Providence, for it saved my life
from drowning.



Homeward Bound! All our stores which we borrowed from Halifax were
transferred to the 'Pelican' for her to return. We left St. John's
harbour one Sunday evening en route to Plymouth. The crews of the
'Buzzard' and 'Pelican' hailed us 'farewell' as we slowly steamed
away from our moorings, and crowds of people gathered on the wharfs
to witness our departure. The paying-off pennant was streaming far
astern, and every heart felt glad to see it. It was a sign of
something beyond expression. Just one more look at the city, a
hastening glance at our two companion ships, and we had cleared the
harbour. In an hour the land was lost to view, and we were in a dense
fog, ploughing the deep, bound for Old England. The wind proving
favourable, plain sail was made, and for the next five days we made
rapid headway. On the sixth day the wind veered round to the opposite
quarter, and in consequence sails were furled, and our speed
decreased. However, we were able to make sail again on the ninth day.

What was my intense joy when on the morning of the eleventh day the
man on the look-out shouted "Eddystone Lighthouse off the port bow,
sir!" This delightful cry had almost the same effect as if the
boatswain's mate had piped, "Clear lower deck," as nearly all hands
rushed on deck. Breakfast was piped shortly afterwards, but only a
scanty number went below to partake of it. I stood entranced with the
old familiar scenes which were now becoming more and more visible; in
fact, I cannot tell what feelings took possession of me. I have often
since felt that the three years' separation from home and loved ones
were compensated by the joy of home-coming.

Yes, there was Maker Tower--the last object I beheld when leaving
Plymouth in the 'Himalaya' three years before. Nearer and nearer we
sailed until all the surroundings became distinct. Rame Head was
passed, then Penlee Point, and now the Breakwater Lighthouse loomed
in sight.

"Clear lower deck! Hands shorten and furl sail!" was the order. "Come
along, lads, it is the last time," said some sympathetic voices.

The guns were made ready for saluting the Admiral and the Port. Then,
having anchored, the salute was fired, the port guard-ship replying.
A dense fog now settled down on Plymouth Sound, much to my
disappointment, for I was on the look-out for my father's approach.
Soon there was a cluster at boats round the ship, which had conveyed
from the shore all manner of commercial men--Jews with watches for
sale, and tailors with their patterns--for no bluejacket would be
without his private suit--and others with articles of food. Only a
limited number, however, were allowed on board.

My uncle, who resided at Kingsand, had noticed our early arrival in
the Sound. He had been requested by my mother to keep a sharp
look-out for the 'Emerald.' She had given him money to purchase some
food to bring afloat to me. He fulfilled his request with the
greatest satisfaction, for an hour after we had anchored, he was on
board, with a basket of provisions, enquiring for me. I gave him a
hearty welcome, all the more so on account of the basket he bore, as
I had foregone my biscuit and cocoa that morning and had had nothing
to eat. I will just add that the contents of his basket were eagerly
devoured by me and my mess-mates.

My father, so it afterward proved, had been on the Hoe every morning
recently, to see if the 'Emerald' had arrived, but on account of the
fog this morning he did not walk there, knowing that such a fog would
hide the Sound from view, so he contented himself with making
enquiries, and was told that no ship had come from sea. As the day
wore on he chanced to be in a shop in Plymouth, when one of the
stewards of the 'Emerald' entered it, to purchase. That was enough!
He flew away, bringing with him a large box of the best provisions
that money could buy--it had been packed a whole week in readiness
for my home-coming, so as there should be no delay when the ship
arrived. A waterman rowed him down the Sound. In my heart I knew
there was some mistake, as otherwise my father would have been one
of the first to board the ship.

However, about 3 p.m. someone called down the hatchway for me.
Instantly I bounded away to the gangway, there to greet my father,
who was now on board. We spent an hour together, and at 4 p.m. all
visitors were 'piped' out of the ship. The coal was shipped--for we
had been coaling all day.

The boats were hoisted, and the anchor weighed. Being a member of the
drum and fife band on the 'Emerald,' whose work was to play marches
while the capstan was being manned, I must say that our march on this
occasion was out of place. A gallop would have been suitable. With
four men on each capstan bar, it was nothing less than a maddening
whirl, whilst the cry sounded--

"Heave ho! The last time my hearties."

We left Plymouth for Portsmouth to payoff. One of the Portsmouth
outfitters had made it his business to come to Plymouth, and to take
the return passage in our ship. Truly he was a highly favoured man.
Nor was he idle, for he was measuring men for suits of clothes the
most of the night. I suppose he did not mind such night-work. We
sighted Portsmouth in the morning, and after doing the customary
steam trials, proceeded up harbour. Here, as at Plymouth, there were
all classes of business men waiting in boats to besiege the ship.
Most of them met with disappointment, as only a few were allowed on
board. This matter was the cause of complaint being made in an
evening paper, which said: "No such restriction was ever manifested
by any other ship coming home from a foreign station," and after
dwelling on the treatment which had been shown to many who had come
alongside the 'Emerald,' the paragraph concluded with words to this
effect:--"That the 'Emerald's' commission had been far from being a
happy one," words which contained a great deal of truth.

In the course of a few days we made fast alongside the jetty, and
returned stores. This taking a month, then came paying-off day. This
day is generally associated with the idea of a nice sum of money, but
it was far from being so in my case as you shall see. My father had
asked me at Plymouth if I should have sufficient money to pay my
railway fare from Portsmouth to Devonport. Anticipating I should
receive enough for this purpose ort paying-off day, I replied in the
affirmative. But during the month at Portsmouth it gradually dawned
upon me that my money due would amount to but a very little.
Accordingly, I wrote home, informing my parents of the same,
requesting them to send me three pounds.

Having no curios with me save a folding looking-glass which I bought
at Cape Breton Island, and a figured handkerchief from the Jamaica
exhibition, I went ashore one evening at Portsmouth and bought a few
little presents to carry home to my relatives in order that they
should possess something to regard as a token of the 'Emerald's'
home-coming. I did not inform them they were bought at Portsmouth,
and for a time they were prized as presents brought home from foreign
parts. I gave my father a walking-stick, but I rather think that he
from the first knew it was a native of England. Anyhow, the joke has
been discovered since, and has caused much laughter from time to time
in the home circle.

Three days before the dispersion the chaplain sent for me. On going
aft to his cabin, he said, "Cowling, you may have the harmonium." I
thanked him heartily for this present. Not desiring to take it home
with me, I sold it to a local musician for seventeen shillings, with
which I bought a reefer jacket to wear home. At last the happy day
came. The captain, with his officers grouped on the quarterdeck, and
the paymaster with his staff, began the work of payment. On the
seaman's name being called, he stepped toward the pay-table and gave
his number on the ship's book; then receiving the money due to him
walked out of the gangway. It was now my turn, and although some of
the men received from sixty to eighty, and one a hundred pounds,
mine was the modest sum of three shillings and sixpence, despite the
fact that I had been receiving eightpence a day in addition to most
of them--five pence as the organist, and threepence for being a

How do I account for the contrast? In this way. Some men did the
washing of others, charging threepence per piece, and a shilling for
scrubbing a hammock, and others owned a sewing-machine with which in
spare time they made uniform suits. Washing and sewing men were bent
upon having a good pay-day. These two classes of men would seldom buy
any article from the canteen. I should not say they were niggardly or
selfish--their course probably was governed by self-denial, or it may
be that their future marriage day was the solution of their conduct.
As for myself, I never could eat with relish any service food,
consequently most of my wages was spent in canteen food, and the
remainder on shore. Therefore on paying-off day I received my few
shillings as contentedly as those did who were the recipients of many
pounds, for I had utilised my money in one way, and they were about
to do so in another. That is all.

Little groups of men gathered on the wharf to wish each other
'good-bye,' as it was not likely they would ever meet again. I often
think of Collins, who belonged to the same section of the starboard
watch as I. He was a very witty fellow. He was asked one day where
his messmate Jack Frost was? In reply he answered, "He is on the
fore-yard shooting sparrows for the sick." This was amusing,
considering at the time we were in a heavy gale far out at sea. On
another occasion a civilian at Halifax asked him, "What do you
sailors get to eat at sea?" "We live on wind and chew daylight," was
his answer.

When outside the dockyard gates I made off to a restaurant for
refreshment, and then caught the train for Devonport, reaching it at
8 p.m. My father and a friend were on the platform to meet me. We
took a cab to the quay, from which a waterman rowed us across the
harbour. Then a journey of another three miles in a carriage, and I
was at home, sweet home. My mother and sisters, who had been on the
tiptoe of expectation for the last hour, now bounded out of the room
as the front door was opened, and I cannot describe what transpired
in the lobby for the next few minutes. The tears of joy being wiped
away, we all sat down to supper, my companion--he who tasted the
leather strap in our school days--being invited to swell the number,
and to complete the welcome home. Supper ended, I was made the
recipient of various gifts from my parents and sisters. Amongst other
things which my mother gave me was a jersey which she had knitted--
every stitch of it. It happened one day that my sister took the work
in hand and did a little in the making of it, but when my mother
discovered this transgression, she lovingly unravelled the stitches,
for she said "she desired to make it all herself." Such is a mother's
love! Every winter since I have worn the jersey, and even now am
wearing it on this cold December day as I pen these lines.

Six weeks' leave were granted me for my absence of three years, which
is the naval scale--that is a fortnight for each year, and I carried
in my pocket the liberty ticket. Let me tell you what is written on
it: The bearer's name, his height; the complexion of his hair, the
colour of his eyes, his visible marks (if any) and the nature
thereof, also a statement to the effect that he is free from arrest
up to a given date which is specified--if not on board his ship at
the authorised hour on that date he is regarded as a leave-breaker
and punished accordingly.

The six happy weeks passed away all too quickly, and I returned to
the Royal Naval Barracks, or, as is understood in naval circles
H.M.S. 'Vivid' From here, I was drafted to the gunnery college,
H.M.S. 'Cambridge.' It was on this ship that I first saw our present
King, he having come on board to inspect the guns' crews at drill,
accompanied by his brother, the Duke of Edinburgh, who at the time
was Commander-in-Chief of Devonport. After passing through a course
of gunnery, which lasted eighteen months, I was sent back to the
'Vivid.' Being entirely out of touch with a seaman's life, I
requested to "see the captain" with a view of changing my rating to
that of a ship's writer. He granted my appeal conditionally, which
meant, that if I were in harbour when the next examination took
place, I should be allowed to sit, but if away on a foreign station,
of course it would be impossible. To qualify myself in order to
succeed in passing this examination I received private tuition when
ashore, for which I paid very dearly. Meantime an order was received
by the officials to send a draft of bluejackets to Portsmouth to
bring to Devonport H.M.S. 'Rupert.' We went to Portsmouth by train.
Whilst engaged in taking ammunition on board, a box of heavy
cartridge fell on my right foot, and took off the tip of a toe.

I was barefooted, as it was a wet day. Being carried to the sick
berth, my foot was treated and bound, and I was ordered to my
hammock. On arrival at Devonport, the sick-berth steward took me to
the hospital in the naval barracks, where I lay in bed six weeks. You
will perceive that my right foot has been unfortunate. It was the
right foot which was jammed in the crevice of the rocks the right
foot upon which the Portuguese man-of-war was flung, and now again
the right foot which received the fall from the ammunition box.

Time wore away, and I was in a state of expectation as to what date
the examination would take place. To my bitter disappointment I was
told there was to be none that year. Then I began to fear lest before
the next I should be sent away to sea, and thus lose my opportunity
to enter. Again I was drafted to the 'Cambridge,' as one of her
ship's company, and I still resumed my scholastic tuition ashore. A
thrill of dread used to seize me when observing the ship's corporal
walking along the deck bearing a slate, as it was an indication that
someone was to be called upon to prepare for sea. Is it I? was the
thought which filled my mind. However, the year had nearly passed
away, and I was deeply anxious over the forthcoming examination.
"Surely there will be one this year, as there was none last." Such
was my reasoning.

One day at the conclusion of my lesson, my tutor said he had very,
unpleasant news to break to me. It was this:--That an examination
would be held for civilians only, and that an order had been received
stating that no seaman should be allowed to change his rating. Oh, I
thought, was ever any disappointment so vexatious as mine? I left his
house with a wounded spirit, and, having crossed the harbour, walked
toward home, a journey of three miles, weeping bitterly and praying
nearly all the way. The very heavens above seemed to me as brass, and
my horizon appeared dark as the blackness of night; not a streak of
light could I find. For two years I had been studying and working
hard to qualify for this examination, and had spent most of my
earnings in tuition, and now the issue was that in spite of my utter
dislike to a naval life as a sailor, I must still pursue it.

The memory of that awful journey comes to mi mind very forcibly at
times, and when I hear or know of any sore disappointment occurring
in one's life, I fervently pray to God that such disappointment may
be immersed in the waters of kindly help and sympathy. May the Christ
of Gethsemane comfort all wounded hearts, all crushed spirits, and
make sorrow the seed of a new hope, even as He did in my life.

On reaching home that evening my parents observed that I had been
weeping, and on asking the cause, the pent-up grief again burst
forth. Gradually I became calm, and conveyed to them the news which I
had received from my tutor, the naval schoolmaster. They both agreed
there and then, that by God's help I should be released from my
unbearable life, and that steps should be taken immediately to that

Shortly after I came home from sea I attended the Congregational
Church at Cawsand, and here, under the influence of my pastor's
preaching, made a decision for Christ. He soon put me in harness in
church work, and for more than two years I studied theology under
him, he kindly coming to my home every Monday evening to help me in
that direction. Occasionally he set me an examination paper, and
assisted me educationally in every way. This course of theological
study began while I was yet in the navy, and often when boat-keeper
at the lower boom of the 'Cambridge' have I spent hours in study. To
test my preaching abilities, the Rev. Stephen Stroud, for such was my
pastor's name, would take me into his church, where in a pew he would
sit as a listening critic, while I preached from the pulpit.

The next day I went to him and intimated my parents' decision in
consequence of my vexation, and that they wished to purchase my
discharge if possible, whereupon he gave me a letter to take to the
commander of the ship. In the course of a few days I stood before him
on the quarterdeck, and made known my desire to quit the service,
and my detestation of a sailor's life. He did not thwart me in
any way, but said the request would have to be brought before the
Commander-in-Chief of the port, and the Admiralty.



Nearly three weeks had passed--oh, what an anxious time it was! Was
there another sorrow in store for me? God forbid. Well, one day at
noon, just as I had reached the ship in the staff gig, to which boat
I belonged, the quartermaster rushed to the gangway and shouted--
"Cowling, you are wanted on the quarterdeck immediately." I lost no
time in getting there. In another minute I stood face to face with
the captain, who informed me that the Admiralty had granted my
discharge. "Right-about-turn! Quick march," was the order of the
master-at-arms, but, believe me, it was more of a run than a march.
My messmates were forehead awaiting the result, and as I approached
them a dozen voices shouted--"How goes it?" "All's well," I replied.
"You are fortunate," said they. Dinner was now piped, but I wanted
none--my desire was to get on terra firma as speedily as possible. I
pulled my bag from the rack, turned it upside down on the deck,
distributing all the clothes contained therein, to the value of
fifteen pounds. Then I wished my messmates 'good-bye' and went ashore
in a gig, feeling like a bird released from a cage. Thus ended my
naval career, extending to a period of seven years and nine days. I
keep in my study an envelope containing my discharge paper and the
receipt for same, which cost eighteen pounds. In reading it, as I
sometimes do, my thoughts are carried backward to the day of

My messmates had decided to present me with a beautiful Bible, which
I never received, for this reason. Scarcely a week had passed from
the day I stepped on shore a free man, when an order was sent from
headquarters for a large draft of seamen to be sent to different
parts of the world. Nearly all my former mates were numbered amongst
the draft. Consequently they were scattered far apart, and no steps
could be taken to carry out their intention. The kind feeling which
prompted it I appreciate and accept, as showing what they would have
done had the opportunity been forthcoming.

Even in the weeding out of the 'Cambridge' this large company of men,
I observe God's providence at work in my own life, for doubtless I
should have been included in the draft, having been in harbour three
years, which is considered a long stay. My discharge was granted me
in the nick of time. "He doeth all things well."

I found employment on shore in Plymouth as a contractor's clerk, and
devoted more time to religious studies, for I now felt that as the
greatest obstacle in my path had been removed, God would surely open
my way to enter His service. He did. By the recommendation of my
pastor I was admitted into Cliff College, Derbyshire, completing my
training in London.

*     *     *     *     *

Though for six years I had nearly become a Baptist, that is, a
Congregationalist, I now stepped over the line, having studied the
New Testament with an unbiassed mind, to get at the real truth of
Scriptural baptism. Being convinced that immersion was the Scriptural
mode, I forthwith became baptised in Bow Street Baptist Church,

Shortly afterwards, I was invited to the pastorate of a Baptist
Church in New Whittington, Derbyshire, where I laboured for a brief
period, and at which place I first met the young lady who is now my
wife. In the autumn of 1899 I accepted the call to my present
pastorate, that of the Ashwater district of Baptist Churches.
Understanding that under the new regulations existing which precludes
Cliff College students from being recognised as fully accredited
ministers, I set to work to overcome the difficulty by passing the
two Baptist Union examinations.

Such, then, in brief are a few outstanding incidents of my life, and
such is the road I have travelled to enter the ministry--a hard road
and painful, bedewed with tears, and strewed with withered leaves of
disappointment and weary watchings, but I am bound to confess that it
was the path marked out for me. No better training was ever afforded
any minister, and to-day I can thank God for it all. What is the
great truth which my career teaches me? This: that "God is in the
heart of things, and all is well." That He is in every human life,
directing, controlling, and superintending it. That nothing happens
by chance, and that it is He alone who can transform the wilderness
of blighted hope into a paradise of joy; can convert the vale of
tears into the sunny path that leads upward to His throne--He alone
who can chase away the darkness of night and bring in the sunshine of
morning. Unto His name be all the glory!

I cannot but hope that should any darkened life read this little
sketch, that such an one may be inspired and comforted by so doing,
believing that He who gently cleared my way, granting me the
fulfilment of my heart's desire, will in like manner repeat His
loving-kindness in that one's life.

"Lead, kindly light, . . . .

      .      .      .      .      .

Keep thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene; one step enough for me."


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