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´╗┐Title: White Jacket - or, the World on a Man-of-War
Author: Melville, Herman, 1819-1891
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 "White Jacket - or, the World on a Man-of-War" ***

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       *       *       *       *       *

Copyright, 1892

  "Conceive him now in a man-of-war;
     with his letters of mart, well armed,
   victualed, and appointed,
      and see how he acquits himself."
                   --FULLER'S "Good Sea-Captain."

NOTE. In the year 1843 I shipped as "ordinary seaman" on board of a
United States frigate then lying in a harbor of the Pacific Ocean.
After remaining in this frigate for more than a year, I was discharged
from the service upon the vessel's arrival home. My man-of-war
experiences and observations have been incorporated in the present

New York, March, 1850.




It was not a _very_ white jacket, but white enough, in all conscience,
as the sequel will show.

The way I came by it was this.

When our frigate lay in Callao, on the coast of Peru--her last
harbour in the Pacific--I found myself without a _grego_, or
sailor's surtout; and as, toward the end of a three years' cruise,
no pea-jackets could be had from the purser's steward: and being
bound for Cape Horn, some sort of a substitute was indispensable;
I employed myself, for several days, in manufacturing an outlandish
garment of my own devising, to shelter me from the boisterous weather
we were so soon to encounter.

It was nothing more than a white duck frock, or rather shirt:
which, laying on deck, I folded double at the bosom, and by then
making a continuation of the slit there, opened it lengthwise--
much as you would cut a leaf in the last new novel. The gash
being made, a metamorphosis took place, transcending any related
by Ovid. For, presto! the shirt was a coat!--a strange-looking
coat, to be sure; of a Quakerish amplitude about the skirts; with
an infirm, tumble-down collar; and a clumsy fullness about the
wristbands; and white, yea, white as a shroud. And my shroud it
afterward came very near proving, as he who reads further will find.

But, bless me, my friend, what sort of a summer jacket is this,
in which to weather Cape Horn? A very tasty, and beautiful white
linen garment it may have seemed; but then, people almost
universally sport their linen next to their skin.

Very true; and that thought very early occurred to me; for no
idea had I of scudding round Cape Horn in my shirt; for _that_
would have been almost scudding under bare poles, indeed.

So, with many odds and ends of patches--old socks, old trowser-
legs, and the like--I bedarned and bequilted the inside of my
jacket, till it became, all over, stiff and padded, as King
James's cotton-stuffed and dagger-proof doublet; and no buckram
or steel hauberk stood up more stoutly.

So far, very good; but pray, tell me, White-Jacket, how do you
propose keeping out the rain and the wet in this quilted _grego_
of yours? You don't call this wad of old patches a Mackintosh, do
you?----you don't pretend to say that worsted is water-proof?

No, my dear friend; and that was the deuce of it. Waterproof it
was not, no more than a sponge. Indeed, with such recklessness
had I bequilted my jacket, that in a rain-storm I became a
universal absorber; swabbing bone-dry the very bulwarks I leaned
against. Of a damp day, my heartless shipmates even used to stand
up against me, so powerful was the capillary attraction between
this luckless jacket of mine and all drops of moisture. I dripped
like a turkey a roasting; and long after the rain storms were
over, and the sun showed his face, I still stalked a Scotch mist;
and when it was fair weather with others, alas! it was foul
weather with me.

_Me?_ Ah me! Soaked and heavy, what a burden was that jacket to
carry about, especially when I was sent up aloft; dragging myself
up step by step, as if I were weighing the anchor. Small time
then, to strip, and wring it out in a rain, when no hanging back
or delay was permitted. No, no; up you go: fat or lean: Lambert
or Edson: never mind how much avoirdupois you might weigh. And
thus, in my own proper person, did many showers of rain reascend
toward the skies, in accordance with the natural laws.

But here be it known, that I had been terribly disappointed in
carrying out my original plan concerning this jacket. It had been
my intention to make it thoroughly impervious, by giving it a
coating of paint, But bitter fate ever overtakes us unfortunates.
So much paint had been stolen by the sailors, in daubing their
overhaul trowsers and tarpaulins, that by the time I--an
honest man--had completed my quiltings, the paint-pots were
banned, and put under strict lock and key.

Said old Brush, the captain of the _paint-room_-- "Look ye,
White-Jacket," said he, "ye can't have any paint."

Such, then, was my jacket: a well-patched, padded, and porous
one; and in a dark night, gleaming white as the White Lady of



"All hands up anchor! Man the capstan!"

"High die! my lads, we're homeward bound!"

Homeward bound!--harmonious sound! Were you _ever_ homeward
bound?--No?--Quick! take the wings of the morning, or the sails
of a ship, and fly to the uttermost parts of the earth. There,
tarry a year or two; and then let the gruffest of boatswains, his
lungs all goose-skin, shout forth those magical words, and you'll
swear "the harp of Orpheus were not more enchanting."

All was ready; boats hoisted in, stun' sail gear rove, messenger
passed, capstan-bars in their places, accommodation-ladder below;
and in glorious spirits, we sat down to dinner. In the ward-room,
the lieutenants were passing round their oldest port, and
pledging their friends; in the steerage, the _middies_ were busy
raising loans to liquidate the demands of their laundress, or
else--in the navy phrase--preparing to pay their creditors _with
a flying fore-topsail_. On the poop, the captain was looking to
windward; and in his grand, inaccessible cabin, the high and
mighty commodore sat silent and stately, as the statue of Jupiter
in Dodona.

We were all arrayed in our best, and our bravest; like strips of
blue sky, lay the pure blue collars of our frocks upon our
shoulders; and our pumps were so springy and playful, that we
danced up and down as we dined.

It was on the gun-deck that our dinners were spread; all along
between the guns; and there, as we cross-legged sat, you would
have thought a hundred farm-yards and meadows were nigh. Such a
cackling of ducks, chickens, and ganders; such a lowing of oxen,
and bleating of lambkins, penned up here and there along the
deck, to provide sea repasts for the officers. More rural than
naval were the sounds; continually reminding each mother's son of
the old paternal homestead in the green old clime; the old
arching elms; the hill where we gambolled; and down by the barley
banks of the stream where we bathed.

"All hands up anchor!"

When that order was given, how we sprang to the bars, and heaved
round that capstan; every man a Goliath, every tendon a hawser!--
round and round--round, round it spun like a sphere, keeping time
with our feet to the time of the fifer, till the cable was
straight up and down, and the ship with her nose in the water.

"Heave and pall! unship your bars, and make sail!"

It was done: barmen, nipper-men, tierers, veerers, idlers and
all, scrambled up the ladder to the braces and halyards; while
like monkeys in Palm-trees, the sail-loosers ran out on those
broad boughs, our yards; and down fell the sails like white
clouds from the ether--topsails, top-gallants, and royals; and
away we ran with the halyards, till every sheet was distended.

"Once more to the bars!"

"Heave, my hearties, heave hard!"

With a jerk and a yerk, we broke ground; and up to our bows came
several thousand pounds of old iron, in the shape of our
ponderous anchor.

Where was White-Jacket then?

White-Jacket was where he belonged. It was White-Jacket that
loosed that main-royal, so far up aloft there, it looks like a
white albatross' wing. It was White-Jacket that was taken for an
albatross himself, as he flew out on the giddy yard-arm!



Having just designated the place where White-Jacket belonged, it
must needs be related how White-Jacket came to belong there.

Every one knows that in merchantmen the seamen are divided into
watches--starboard and larboard--taking their turn at the ship's
duty by night. This plan is followed in all men-of-war. But in
all men-of war, besides this division, there are others, rendered
indispensable from the great number of men, and the necessity of
precision and discipline. Not only are particular bands assigned to
the three _tops_, but in getting under weigh, or any other proceeding
requiring all hands, particular men of these bands are assigned to
each yard of the tops. Thus, when the order is given to loose the
main-royal, White-Jacket flies to obey it; and no one but him.

And not only are particular bands stationed on the three decks of
the ship at such times, but particular men of those bands are
also assigned to particular duties. Also, in tacking ship,
reefing top-sails, or "coming to," every man of a frigate's five-
hundred-strong, knows his own special place, and is infallibly
found there. He sees nothing else, attends to nothing else, and
will stay there till grim death or an epaulette orders him away.
Yet there are times when, through the negligence of the officers,
some exceptions are found to this rule. A rather serious
circumstance growing out of such a case will be related in some
future chapter.

Were it not for these regulations a man-of-war's crew would be
nothing but a mob, more ungovernable stripping the canvas in a
gale than Lord George Gordon's tearing down the lofty house of
Lord Mansfield.

But this is not all. Besides White-Jacket's office as looser of
the main-royal, when all hands were called to make sail; and
besides his special offices, in tacking ship, coming to anchor,
etc.; he permanently belonged to the Starboard Watch, one of the
two primary, grand divisions of the ship's company. And in this
watch he was a maintop-man; that is, was stationed in the main-
top, with a number of other seamen, always in readiness to
execute any orders pertaining to the main-mast, from above the
main-yard. For, including the main-yard, and below it to the
deck, the main-mast belongs to another detachment.

Now the fore, main, and mizen-top-men of each watch--Starboard
and Larboard--are at sea respectively subdivided into Quarter
Watches; which regularly relieve each other in the tops to which
they may belong; while, collectively, they relieve the whole
Larboard Watch of top-men.

Besides these topmen, who are always made up of active sailors,
there are Sheet-Anchor-men--old veterans all--whose place is on
the forecastle; the fore-yard, anchors, and all the sails on the
bowsprit being under their care.

They are an old weather-beaten set, culled from the most
experienced seamen on board. These are the fellows that sing you
"_The Bay of Biscay Oh!_" and "_Here a sheer hulk lies poor Torn
Bowling!_" "_Cease, rude Boreas, blustering railer!_" who, when
ashore, at an eating-house, call for a bowl of tar and a biscuit.
These are the fellows who spin interminable yarns about Decatur,
Hull, and Bainbridge; and carry about their persons bits of "Old
Ironsides," as Catholics do the wood of the true cross. These are
the fellows that some officers never pretend to damn, however
much they may anathematize others. These are the fellows that it
does your soul good to look at;---hearty old members of the Old
Guard; grim sea grenadiers, who, in tempest time, have lost many
a tarpaulin overboard. These are the fellows whose society some
of the youngster midshipmen much affect; from whom they learn
their best seamanship; and to whom they look up as veterans; if
so be, that they have any reverence in their souls, which is not
the case with all midshipmen.

Then, there is the _After-guard_, stationed on the Quarterdeck;
who, under the Quarter-Masters and Quarter-Gunners, attend to the
main-sail and spanker, and help haul the main-brace, and other
ropes in the stern of the vessel.

The duties assigned to the After-Guard's-Men being comparatively
light and easy, and but little seamanship being expected from
them, they are composed chiefly of landsmen; the least robust,
least hardy, and least sailor-like of the crew; and being
stationed on the Quarter-deck, they are generally selected with
some eye to their personal appearance. Hence, they are mostly
slender young fellows, of a genteel figure and gentlemanly
address; not weighing much on a rope, but weighing considerably
in the estimation of all foreign ladies who may chance to visit
the ship. They lounge away the most part of their time, in
reading novels and romances; talking over their lover affairs
ashore; and comparing notes concerning the melancholy and
sentimental career which drove them--poor young gentlemen--into
the hard-hearted navy. Indeed, many of them show tokens of having
moved in very respectable society. They always maintain a tidy
exterior; and express an abhorrence of the tar-bucket, into which
they are seldom or never called to dip their digits. And pluming
themselves upon the cut of their trowsers, and the glossiness of
their tarpaulins, from the rest of the ship's company, they
acquire the name of "_sea-dandies_" and "_silk-sock-gentry_."

Then, there are the _Waisters_, always stationed on the gun-deck.
These haul aft the fore and main-sheets, besides being subject to
ignoble duties; attending to the drainage and sewerage below
hatches. These fellows are all Jimmy Duxes--sorry chaps, who
never put foot in ratlin, or venture above the bulwarks.
Inveterate "_sons of farmers_," with the hayseed yet in their
hair, they are consigned to the congenial superintendence of the
chicken-coops, pig-pens, and potato-lockers. These are generally
placed amidships, on the gun-deck of a frigate, between the fore
and main hatches; and comprise so extensive an area, that it
much resembles the market place of a small town. The melodious
sounds thence issuing, continually draw tears from the eyes of
the Waisters; reminding them of their old paternal pig-pens and
potato-patches. They are the tag-rag and bob-tail of the crew;
and he who is good for nothing else is good enough for a _Waister_.

Three decks down--spar-deck, gun-deck, and berth-deck--and we
come to a parcel of Troglodytes or "_holders_," who burrow, like
rabbits in warrens, among the water-tanks, casks, and cables.
Like Cornwall miners, wash off the soot from their skins, and
they are all pale as ghosts. Unless upon rare occasions, they
seldom come on deck to sun themselves. They may circumnavigate
the world fifty times, and they see about as much of it as Jonah
did in the whale's belly. They are a lazy, lumpish, torpid set;
and when going ashore after a long cruise, come out into the day
like terrapins from their caves, or bears in the spring, from
tree-trunks. No one ever knows the names of these fellows; after
a three years' voyage, they still remain strangers to you. In
time of tempests, when all hands are called to save ship, they
issue forth into the gale, like the mysterious old men of Paris,
during the massacre of the Three Days of September: every one
marvels who they are, and whence they come; they disappear as
mysteriously; and are seen no more, until another general commotion.

Such are the principal divisions into which a man-of-war's crew
is divided; but the inferior allotments of duties are endless,
and would require a German commentator to chronicle.

We say nothing here of Boatswain's mates, Gunner's mates,
Carpenter's mates, Sail-maker's mates, Armorer's mates, Master-
at-Arms, Ship's corporals, Cockswains, Quarter-masters, Quarter-
gunners, Captains of the Forecastle, Captains of the Fore-top,
Captains of the Main-top, Captains of the Mizen-top, Captains of
the After-Guard, Captains of the Main-Hold, Captains of the Fore-
Hold, Captains of the Head, Coopers, Painters, Tinkers,
Commodore's Steward, Captain's Steward, Ward-Room Steward,
Steerage Steward, Commodore's cook, Captain's cook, Officers'
cook, Cooks of the range, Mess-cooks, hammock-boys, messenger
boys, cot-boys, loblolly-boys and numberless others, whose
functions are fixed and peculiar.

It is from this endless subdivision of duties in a man-of-war,
that, upon first entering one, a sailor has need of a good
memory, and the more of an arithmetician he is, the better.

White-Jacket, for one, was a long time rapt in calculations,
concerning the various "numbers" allotted him by the _First
Luff_, otherwise known as the First Lieutenant. In the first
place, White-Jacket was given the _number of his mess_; then, his
_ship's number_, or the number to which he must answer when the
watch-roll is called; then, the number of his hammock; then, the
number of the gun to which he was assigned; besides a variety of
other numbers; all of which would have taken Jedediah Buxton
himself some time to arrange in battalions, previous to adding
up. All these numbers, moreover, must be well remembered, or woe
betide you.

Consider, now, a sailor altogether unused to the tumult of a man-
of-war, for the first time stepping on board, and given all these
numbers to recollect. Already, before hearing them, his head is
half stunned with the unaccustomed sounds ringing in his ears;
which ears seem to him like belfries full of tocsins. On the gun-
deck, a thousand scythed chariots seem passing; he hears the
tread of armed marines; the clash of cutlasses and curses. The
Boatswain's mates whistle round him, like hawks screaming in a
gale, and the strange noises under decks are like volcanic
rumblings in a mountain. He dodges sudden sounds, as a raw
recruit falling bombs.

Well-nigh useless to him, now, all previous circumnavigations of
this terraqueous globe; of no account his arctic, antarctic, or
equinoctial experiences; his gales off Beachy Head, or his
dismastings off Hatteras. He must begin anew; he knows nothing;
Greek and Hebrew could not help him, for the language he must
learn has neither grammar nor lexicon.

Mark him, as he advances along the files of old ocean-warriors;
mark his debased attitude, his deprecating gestures, his Sawney
stare, like a Scotchman in London; his--"_cry your merry, noble
seignors!_" He is wholly nonplussed, and confounded. And when, to
crown all, the First Lieutenant, whose business it is to welcome
all new-corners, and assign them their quarters: when this
officer--none of the most bland or amiable either--gives him
number after number to recollect--246--139--478--351--the poor
fellow feels like decamping.

Study, then, your mathematics, and cultivate all your memories,
oh ye! who think of cruising in men-of-war.



The first night out of port was a clear, moonlight one; the
frigate gliding though the water, with all her batteries.

It was my Quarter Watch in the top; and there I reclined on the
best possible terms with my top-mates. Whatever the other seamen
might have been, these were a noble set of tars, and well worthy
an introduction to the reader. First and foremost was Jack Chase,
our noble First Captain of the Top. He was a Briton, and a true-
blue; tall and well-knit, with a clear open eye, a fine broad
brow, and an abounding nut-brown beard. No man ever had a better
heart or a bolder. He was loved by the seamen and admired by the
officers; and even when the Captain spoke to him, it was with a
slight air of respect. Jack was a frank and charming man.

No one could be better company in forecastle or saloon; no man
told such stories, sang such songs, or with greater alacrity
sprang to his duty. Indeed, there was only one thing wanting
about him; and that was a finger of his left hand, which finger
he had lost at the great battle of Navarino.

He had a high conceit of his profession as a seaman; and being
deeply versed in all things pertaining to a man-of-war, was
universally regarded as an oracle. The main-top, over which he
presided, was a sort of oracle of Delphi; to which many pilgrims
ascended, to have their perplexities or differences settled.

There was such an abounding air of good sense and good feeling
about the man, that he who could not love him, would thereby
pronounce himself a knave. I thanked my sweet stars, that kind
fortune had placed me near him, though under him, in the frigate;
and from the outset Jack and I were fast friends.

Wherever you may be now rolling over the blue billows, dear Jack!
take my best love along with you; and God bless you, wherever you go!

Jack was a gentleman. What though his hand was hard, so was not
his heart, too often the case with soft palms. His manners were
easy and free; none of the boisterousness, so common to tars; and
he had a polite, courteous way of saluting you, if it were only
to borrow your knife. Jack had read all the verses of Byron, and
all the romances of Scott. He talked of Rob Roy, Don Juan, and
Pelham; Macbeth and Ulysses; but, above all things, was an ardent
admirer of Camoens. Parts of the Lusiad, he could recite in the
original. Where he had obtained his wonderful accomplishments, it
is not for me, his humble subordinate, to say. Enough, that those
accomplishments were so various; the languages he could converse
in, so numerous; that he more than furnished an example of that
saying of Charles the Fifth--_ he who speaks five languages is as
good as five men_. But Jack, he was better than a hundred common
mortals; Jack was a whole phalanx, an entire army; Jack was a
thousand strong; Jack would have done honour to the Queen of
England's drawing-room; Jack must have been a by-blow of some
British Admiral of the Blue. A finer specimen of the island race
of Englishmen could not have been picked out of Westminster Abbey
of a coronation day.

His whole demeanor was in strong contrast to that of one of the
Captains of the fore-top. This man, though a good seaman,
furnished an example of those insufferable Britons, who, while
preferring other countries to their own as places of residence;
still, overflow with all the pompousness of national and
individual vanity combined. "When I was on board the Audacious"--
for a long time, was almost the invariable exordium to the fore-
top Captain's most cursory remarks. It is often the custom of
men-of-war's-men, when they deem anything to be going on wrong
aboard ship to refer to _last cruise_ when of course everything
was done _ship-shape and Bristol fashion_. And by referring to
the _Audacious_--an expressive name by the way--the fore-top
Captain meant a ship in the English navy, in which he had had the
honour of serving. So continual were his allusions to this craft
with the amiable name, that at last, the _Audacious_ was voted a
bore by his shipmates. And one hot afternoon, during a calm, when
the fore-top Captain like many others, was standing still and
yawning on the spar-deck; Jack Chase, his own countryman, came up
to him, and pointing at his open mouth, politely inquired, whether
that was the way they caught _flies_ in Her Britannic Majesty's ship,
the _Audacious?_ After that, we heard no more of the craft.

Now, the tops of a frigate are quite spacious and cosy. They are
railed in behind so as to form a kind of balcony, very pleasant
of a tropical night. From twenty to thirty loungers may agreeably
recline there, cushioning themselves on old sails and jackets. We
had rare times in that top. We accounted ourselves the best
seamen in the ship; and from our airy perch, literally looked
down upon the landlopers below, sneaking about the deck, among
the guns. In a large degree, we nourished that feeling of
"_esprit de corps_," always pervading, more or less, the various
sections of a man-of-war's crew. We main-top-men were brothers,
one and all, and we loaned ourselves to each other with all the
freedom in the world.

Nevertheless, I had not long been a member of this fraternity of
fine fellows, ere I discovered that Jack Chase, our captain was--
like all prime favorites and oracles among men--a little bit of a
dictator; not peremptorily, or annoyingly so, but amusingly
intent on egotistically mending our manners and improving our
taste, so that we might reflect credit upon our tutor.

He made us all wear our hats at a particular angle--instructed us
in the tie of our neck-handkerchiefs; and protested against our
wearing vulgar _dungeree_ trowsers; besides giving us lessons in
seamanship; and solemnly conjuring us, forever to eschew the company
of any sailor we suspected of having served in a whaler. Against
all whalers, indeed, he cherished the unmitigated detestation of a
true man-of-war's man. Poor Tubbs can testify to that.

Tubbs was in the After-Guard; a long, lank Vineyarder, eternally
talking of line-tubs, Nantucket, sperm oil, stove boats, and Japan.
Nothing could silence him; and his comparisons were ever invidious.

Now, with all his soul, Jack abominated this Tubbs. He said he
was vulgar, an upstart--Devil take him, he's been in a whaler.
But like many men, who have been where _you_ haven't been; or
seen what _you_ haven't seen; Tubbs, on account of his whaling
experiences, absolutely affected to look down upon Jack, even as
Jack did upon him; and this it was that so enraged our noble captain.

One night, with a peculiar meaning in his eye, he sent me down on
deck to invite Tubbs up aloft for a chat. Flattered by so marked
an honor--for we were somewhat fastidious, and did not extend
such invitations to every body--Tubb's quickly mounted the
rigging, looking rather abashed at finding himself in the august
presence of the assembled Quarter-Watch of main-top-men. Jack's
courteous manner, however, very soon relieved his embarrassment;
but it is no use to be courteous to _some_ men in this world.
Tubbs belonged to that category. No sooner did the bumpkin feel
himself at ease, than he launched out, as usual, into tremendous
laudations of whalemen; declaring that whalemen alone deserved
the name of sailors. Jack stood it some time; but when Tubbs came
down upon men-of-war, and particularly upon main-top-men, his
sense of propriety was so outraged, that he launched into Tubbs
like a forty-two pounder.

"Why, you limb of Nantucket! you train-oil man! you sea-tallow
strainer! you bobber after carrion! do _you_ pretend to vilify a
man-of-war? Why, you lean rogue, you, a man-of-war is to
whalemen, as a metropolis to shire-towns, and sequestered
hamlets. _Here's_ the place for life and commotion; _here's_ the
place to be gentlemanly and jolly. And what did you know, you
bumpkin! before you came on board this _Andrew Miller?_ What knew
you of gun-deck, or orlop, mustering round the capstan, beating
to quarters, and piping to dinner? Did you ever roll to _grog_ on
board your greasy ballyhoo of blazes? Did you ever winter at
Mahon? Did you ever '_ lash and carry?_' Why, what are even a
merchant-seaman's sorry yarns of voyages to China after tea-
caddies, and voyages to the West Indies after sugar puncheons,
and voyages to the Shetlands after seal-skins--what are even
these yarns, you Tubbs you! to high life in a man-of-war? Why,
you dead-eye! I have sailed with lords and marquises for
captains; and the King of the Two Sicilies has passed me, as I
here stood up at my gun. Bah! you are full of the fore-peak and
the forecastle; you are only familiar with Burtons and Billy-
tackles; your ambition never mounted above pig-killing! which, in
my poor opinion, is the proper phrase for whaling! Topmates! has
not this Tubbs here been but a misuser of good oak planks, and a
vile desecrator of the thrice holy sea? turning his ship, my
hearties! into a fat-kettle, and the ocean into a whale-pen?
Begone! you graceless, godless knave! pitch him over the top
there, White-Jacket!"

But there was no necessity for my exertions. Poor Tubbs, astounded
at these fulminations, was already rapidly descending by the rigging.

This outburst on the part of my noble friend Jack made me shake
all over, spite of my padded surtout; and caused me to offer up
devout thanksgivings, that in no evil hour had I divulged the
fact of having myself served in a whaler; for having previously
marked the prevailing prejudice of men-of-war's men to that much-
maligned class of mariners, I had wisely held my peace concerning
stove boats on the coast of Japan.

He presides at the head of the Ward-room officers' table, who are
so called from their messing together in a part of the ship thus
designated. In a frigate it comprises the after part of the
berth-deck. Sometimes it goes by the name of the Gun-room, but
oftener is called the Ward-room. Within, this Ward-room much
resembles a long, wide corridor in a large hotel; numerous doors
opening on both hands to the private apartments of the officers.
I never had a good interior look at it but once; and then the
Chaplain was seated at the table in the centre, playing chess
with the Lieutenant of Marines. It was mid-day, but the place was
lighted by lamps.

Besides the First Lieutenant, the Ward-room officers include the
junior lieutenants, in a frigate six or seven in number, the
Sailing-master, Purser, Chaplain, Surgeon, Marine officers, and
Midshipmen's Schoolmaster, or "the Professor." They generally form
a very agreeable club of good fellows; from their diversity of
character, admirably calculated to form an agreeable social
whole. The Lieutenants discuss sea-fights, and tell anecdotes of
Lord Nelson and Lady Hamilton; the Marine officers talk of
storming fortresses, and the siege of Gibraltar; the Purser
steadies this wild conversation by occasional allusions to the
rule of three; the Professor is always charged with a scholarly
reflection, or an apt line from the classics, generally Ovid; the
Surgeon's stories of the amputation-table judiciously serve to
suggest the mortality of the whole party as men; while the good
chaplain stands ready at all times to give them pious counsel and

Of course these gentlemen all associate on a footing of perfect
social equality.

Next in order come the Warrant or Forward officers, consisting of
the Boatswain, Gunner, Carpenter, and Sailmaker. Though these
worthies sport long coats and wear the anchor-button; yet, in the
estimation of the Ward-room officers, they are not, technically
speaking, rated gentlemen. The First Lieutenant, Chaplain, or
Surgeon, for example, would never dream of inviting them to
dinner, In sea parlance, "they come in at the hawse holes;" they
have hard hands; and the carpenter and sail-maker practically
understand the duties which they are called upon to superintend.
They mess by themselves. Invariably four in number, they never
have need to play whist with a dummy.

In this part of the category now come the "reefers," otherwise
"middies" or midshipmen. These boys are sent to sea, for the
purpose of making commodores; and in order to become commodores,
many of them deem it indispensable forthwith to commence chewing
tobacco, drinking brandy and water, and swearing at the sailors.
As they are only placed on board a sea-going ship to go to school
and learn the duty of a Lieutenant; and until qualified to act as
such, have few or no special functions to attend to; they are
little more, while midshipmen, than supernumeraries on board.
Hence, in a crowded frigate, they are so everlastingly crossing
the path of both men and officers, that in the navy it has become
a proverb, that a useless fellow is "_as much in the way as a
reefer _."

In a gale of wind, when all hands are called and the deck swarms
with men, the little "middies" running about distracted and
having nothing particular to do, make it up in vociferous
swearing; exploding all about under foot like torpedoes. Some of
them are terrible little boys, cocking their cups at alarming
angles, and looking fierce as young roosters. They are generally
great consumers of Macassar oil and the Balm of Columbia; they
thirst and rage after whiskers; and sometimes, applying their
ointments, lay themselves out in the sun, to promote the
fertility of their chins.

As the only way to learn to command, is to learn to obey, the
usage of a ship of war is such that the midshipmen are constantly
being ordered about by the Lieutenants; though, without having
assigned them their particular destinations, they are always
going somewhere, and never arriving. In some things, they almost
have a harder time of it than the seamen themselves. They are
messengers and errand-boys to their superiors.

"Mr. Pert," cries an officer of the deck, hailing a young
gentleman forward. Mr. Pert advances, touches his hat, and
remains in an attitude of deferential suspense. "Go and tell the
boatswain I want him." And with this perilous errand, the middy
hurries away, looking proud as a king.

The middies live by themselves in the steerage, where, nowadays,
they dine off a table, spread with a cloth. They have a castor at
dinner; they have some other little boys (selected from the
ship's company) to wait upon them; they sometimes drink coffee
out of china. But for all these, their modern refinements, in
some instances the affairs of their club go sadly to rack and
ruin. The china is broken; the japanned coffee-pot dented like a
pewter mug in an ale-house; the pronged forks resemble tooth-
picks (for which they are sometimes used); the table-knives are
hacked into hand-saws; and the cloth goes to the sail-maker to be
patched. Indeed, they are something like collegiate freshmen and
sophomores, living in the college buildings, especially so far as
the noise they make in their quarters is concerned. The steerage
buzzes, hums, and swarms like a hive; or like an infant-school of
a hot day, when the school-mistress falls asleep with a fly on
her nose.

In frigates, the ward-room--the retreat of the Lieutenants--
immediately adjoining the steerage, is on the same deck with it.
Frequently, when the middies, waking early of a morning, as most
youngsters do, would be kicking up their heels in their hammocks,
or running about with double-reefed night-gowns, playing _tag_
among the "clews;" the Senior lieutenant would burst among them
with a--"Young gentlemen, I am astonished. You must stop this
sky-larking. Mr. Pert, what are you doing at the table there,
without your pantaloons? To your hammock, sir. Let me see no more
of this. If you disturb the ward-room again, young gentleman, you
shall hear of it." And so saying, this hoary-headed Senior
Lieutenant would retire to his cot in his state-room, like the
father of a numerous family after getting up in his dressing-gown
and slippers, to quiet a daybreak tumult in his populous nursery.

Having now descended from Commodore to Middy, we come lastly to a
set of nondescripts, forming also a "mess" by themselves, apart
from the seamen. Into this mess, the usage of a man-of-war
thrusts various subordinates--including the master-at-arms,
purser's steward, ship's corporals, marine sergeants, and ship's
yeomen, forming the first aristocracy above the sailors.

The master-at-arms is a sort of high constable and school-master,
wearing citizen's clothes, and known by his official rattan. He
it is whom all sailors hate. His is the universal duty of a
universal informer and hunter-up of delinquents. On the berth-
deck he reigns supreme; spying out all grease-spots made by the
various cooks of the seamen's messes, and driving the laggards up
the hatches, when all hands are called. It is indispensable that
he should be a very Vidocq in vigilance. But as it is a
heartless, so is it a thankless office. Of dark nights, most
masters-of-arms keep themselves in readiness to dodge forty-two
pound balls, dropped down the hatchways near them.

The ship's corporals are this worthy's deputies and ushers.

The marine sergeants are generally tall fellows with unyielding
spines and stiff upper lips, and very exclusive in their tastes
and predilections.

The ship's yeoman is a gentleman who has a sort of counting-room in
a tar-cellar down in the fore-hold. More will be said of him anon.

Except the officers above enumerated, there are none who mess
apart from the seamen. The "_petty officers_," so called; that
is, the Boatswain's, Gunner's, Carpenter's, and Sail-maker's
mates, the Captains of the Tops, of the Forecastle, and of the
After-Guard, and of the Fore and Main holds, and the Quarter-
Masters, all mess in common with the crew, and in the American
navy are only distinguished from the common seamen by their
slightly additional pay. But in the English navy they wear crowns
and anchors worked on the sleeves of their jackets, by way of
badges of office. In the French navy they are known by strips of
worsted worn in the same place, like those designating the
Sergeants and Corporals in the army.

Thus it will be seen, that the dinner-table is the criterion of
rank in our man-of-war world. The Commodore dines alone, because
he is the only man of his rank in the ship. So too with the
Captain; and the Ward-room officers, warrant officers, midshipmen,
the master-at-arms' mess, and the common seamen;--all of them,
respectively, dine together, because they are, respectively, on a
footing of equality.



Here, I must frankly tell a story about Jack, which as touching his
honour and integrity, I am sure, will not work against him, in any
charitable man's estimation. On this present cruise of the frigate
Neversink, Jack had deserted; and after a certain interval, had been

But with what purpose had he deserted? To avoid naval discipline? To
riot in some abandoned sea-port? for love of some worthless signorita?
Not at all. He abandoned the frigate from far higher and nobler, nay,
glorious motives. Though bowing to naval discipline afloat; yet ashore,
he was a stickler for the Rights of Man, and the liberties of the world.
He went to draw a partisan blade in the civil commotions of Peru;
and befriend, heart and soul, what he deemed the cause of the Right.

At the time, his disappearance excited the utmost astonishment among
the officers, who had little suspected him of any such conduct of

"What? Jack, my great man of the main-top, gone!" cried the captain;
"I'll not believe it."

"Jack Chase cut and run!" cried a sentimental middy. "It must have
been all for love, then; the signoritas have turned his head."

"Jack Chase not to be found?" cried a growling old sheet-anchor-man,
one of your malicious prophets of past events: "I though so; I know'd
it; I could have sworn it--just the chap to make sail on the sly. I
always s'pected him."

Months passed away, and nothing was heard of Jack; till at last,
the frigate came to anchor on the coast, alongside of a Peruvian
sloop of war.

Bravely clad in the Peruvian uniform, and with a fine, mixed martial
and naval step, a tall, striking figure of a long-bearded officer was
descried, promenading the Quarter-deck of the stranger; and
superintending the salutes, which are exchanged between national
vessels on these occasions.

This fine officer touched his laced hat most courteously to our
Captain, who, after returning the compliment, stared at him, rather
impolitely, through his spy-glass.

"By Heaven!" he cried at last--"it is he--he can't disguise his
walk--that's the beard; I'd know him in Cochin China.--Man the first
cutter there! Lieutenant Blink, go on board that sloop of war, and
fetch me yon officer."

All hands were aghast--What? when a piping-hot peace was between the
United States and Peru, to send an armed body on board a Peruvian
sloop of war, and seize one of its officers, in broad daylight?--
Monstrous infraction of the Law of Nations! What would Vattel say?

But Captain Claret must be obeyed. So off went the cutter, every man
armed to the teeth, the lieutenant-commanding having secret
instructions, and the midshipmen attending looking ominously wise,
though, in truth, they could not tell what was coming.

Gaining the sloop of war, the lieutenant was received with the
customary honours; but by this time the tall, bearded officer had
disappeared from the Quarter-deck. The Lieutenant now inquired for
the Peruvian Captain;  and being shown into the cabin, made known to
him, that on board his vessel was a person belonging to the United
States Ship Neversink; and his orders were, to have that person
delivered up instanter.

The foreign captain curled his mustache in astonishment and
indignation; he hinted something about beating to quarters, and
chastising this piece of Yankee insolence.

But resting one gloved hand upon the table, and playing with his
sword-knot, the Lieutenant, with a bland firmness, repeated his
demand. At last, the whole case being so plainly made out, and the
person in question being so accurately described, even to a mole on
his cheek, there remained nothing but immediate compliance.

So the fine-looking, bearded officer, who had so courteously doffed
his chapeau to our Captain, but disappeared upon the arrival of the
Lieutenant, was summoned into the cabin, before his superior, who
addressed him thus:--

"Don John, this gentleman declares, that of right you belong to the
frigate Neversink. Is it so?"

"It is even so, Don Sereno," said Jack Chase, proudly folding his
gold-laced coat-sleeves across his chest--"and as there is no
resisting the frigate, I comply.--Lieutenant Blink, I am ready.
Adieu! Don Sereno, and Madre de Dios protect you? You have been a
most gentlemanly friend and captain to me. I hope you will yet thrash
your beggarly foes."

With that he turned; and entering the cutter, was pulled back to the
frigate, and stepped up to Captain Claret, where that gentleman stood
on the quarter-deck.

"Your servant, my fine Don," said the Captain, ironically lifting his
chapeau, but regarding Jack at the same time with a look of intense

"Your most devoted and penitent Captain of the Main-top, sir; and one
who, in his very humility of contrition is yet proud to call Captain
Claret his commander," said Jack, making a glorious bow, and then
tragically flinging overboard his Peruvian sword.

"Reinstate him at once," shouted Captain Claret--"and now, sir, to
your duty; and discharge that well to the end of the cruise, and you
will hear no more of your having run away."

So Jack went forward among crowds of admiring tars, who swore by his
nut-brown beard, which had amazingly lengthened and spread during his
absence.  They divided his laced hat and coat among them; and on
their shoulders, carried him in triumph along the gun-deck.



Some account has been given of the various divisions into which our
crew was divided; so it may be well to say something of the officers;
who they are, and what are their functions.

Our ship, be it know, was the flag-ship; that is, we sported a
_broad-pennant_, or _bougee_, at the main, in token that we carried a
Commodore--the highest rank of officers recognised in the American
navy. The bougee is not to be confounded with the _long pennant_ or
_coach-whip_, a tapering serpentine streamer worn by all men-of-war.

Owing to certain vague, republican scruples, about creating great
officers of the navy, America has thus far had no admirals; though,
as her ships of war increase, they may become indispensable.  This
will assuredly be the case, should she ever have occasion to employ
large fleets; when she must adopt something like the English plan,
and introduce three or four grades of flag-officers, above a
Commodore--Admirals, Vice-Admirals, and Rear-Admirals of Squadrons;
distinguished by the color of their flags,--red, white, and blue,
corresponding to the centre, van, and rear. These rank respectively
with Generals, Lieutenant-Generals, and Major-Generals in the army;
just as Commodore takes rank with a Brigadier-General. So that the
same prejudice which prevents the American Government from creating
Admirals should have precluded the creation of all army officers
above a Brigadier.

An American Commodore, like an English Commodore, or the French _Chef
d'Escadre_, is but a senior Captain, temporarily commanding a small
number of ships, detached for any special purpose. He has no permanent
rank, recognised by Government, above his captaincy; though once employed
as a Commodore, usage and courtesy unite in continuing the title.

Our Commodore was a gallant old man, who had seen service in his time.
When a lieutenant, he served in the late war with England; and in the
gun-boat actions on the Lakes near New Orleans, just previous to the
grand land engagements, received a musket-ball in his shoulder; which,
with the two balls in his eyes, he carries about with him to this day.

Often, when I looked at the venerable old warrior, doubled up from the
effect of his wound, I thought what a curious, as well as painful
sensation, it must be, to have one's shoulder a lead-mine; though,
sooth to say, so many of us civilised mortals convert our mouths into

On account of this wound in his shoulder, our Commodore had a
body-servant's pay allowed him, in addition to his regular salary.
I cannot say a great deal, personally, of the Commodore; he never
sought my company at all, never extended any gentlemanly courtesies.

But though I cannot say much of him personally, I can mention
something of him in his general character, as a flag-officer. In the
first place, then, I have serious doubts, whether for the most part,
he was not dumb; for in my hearing, he seldom or never uttered a
word. And not only did he seem dumb himself, but his presence
possessed the strange power of making other people dumb for the time.
His appearance on the Quarter-deck seemed to give every officer the

Another phenomenon about him was the strange manner in which everyone
shunned him. At the first sign of those epaulets of his on the
weather side of the poop, the officers there congregated invariably
shrunk over to leeward, and left him alone. Perhaps he had an evil
eye; may be he was the Wandering Jew afloat. The real reason probably
was, that like all high functionaries, he deemed it indispensable
religiously to sustain his dignity; one of the most troublesome
things in the world, and one calling for the greatest self-denial.
And the constant watch, and many-sided guardedness, which this
sustaining of a Commodore's dignity requires, plainly enough shows
that, apart from the common dignity of manhood, Commodores, in
general possess no real dignity at all. True, it is expedient for
crowned heads, generalissimos, Lord-high-admirals, and Commodores, to
carry themselves straight, and beware of the spinal complaint; but it
is not the less veritable, that it is a piece of assumption, exceedingly
uncomfortable to themselves, and ridiculous to an enlightened generation.

Now, how many rare good fellows there were among us main-top-men, who,
invited into his cabin over a social bottle or two, would have rejoiced
our old Commodore's heart, and caused that ancient wound of his to heal
up at once.

Come, come, Commodore don't look so sour, old boy; step up aloft here
into the _top_, and we'll spin you a sociable yarn.

Truly, I thought myself much happier in that white jacket of mine,
than our old Commodore in his dignified epaulets.

One thing, perhaps, that more than anything else helped to make our
Commodore so melancholy and forlorn, was the fact of his having so
little to do. For as the frigate had a  captain; of course, so far as
_she_ was concerned, our Commodore was a supernumerary. What abundance
of leisure he must have had, during a three years' cruise; how
indefinitely he might have been improving his mind!

But as everyone knows that idleness is the hardest work in the world,
so our Commodore was specially provided with a gentleman to assist
him. This gentleman was called the _Commodore's secretary_. He was a
remarkably urbane and polished man; with a very graceful exterior, and
looked much like an Ambassador Extraordinary from Versailles. He messed
with the Lieutenants in the Ward-room, where he had a state-room,
elegantly furnished as the private cabinet of Pelham. His cot-boy used
to entertain the sailors with all manner of stories about the
silver-keyed flutes and flageolets, fine oil paintings, morocco bound
volumes, Chinese chess-men, gold shirt-buttons, enamelled pencil cases,
extraordinary fine French boots with soles no thicker than a sheet of
scented note-paper, embroidered vests, incense-burning sealing-wax,
alabaster statuettes of Venus and Adonis, tortoise-shell snuff-boxes,
inlaid toilet-cases, ivory-handled hair-brushes and mother-of-pearl
combs, and a hundred other luxurious appendages scattered about this
magnificent secretary's state-room.

I was a long time in finding out what this secretary's duties
comprised. But it seemed, he wrote the Commodore's dispatches for
Washington, and also was his general amanuensis. Nor was this a very
light duty, at times; for some commodores, though they do not _say_ a
great deal on board ship, yet they have a vast deal to write. Very often,
the regimental orderly, stationed at our Commodore's cabin-door, would
touch his hat to the First Lieutenant, and with a mysterious air hand
him a note. I always thought these notes must contain most important
matters of state; until one day, seeing a slip of wet, torn paper in a
scupper-hole, I read the following:

    "Sir, you will give the people pickles to-day with their
fresh meat.
    "To Lieutenant Bridewell.
                 "By command of the Commodore;
                            "Adolphus Dashman, Priv. Sec."

This was a new revelation; for, from his almost immutable reserve, I
had supposed that the Commodore never meddled immediately with the
concerns of the ship, but left all that to the captain. But the
longer we live, the more we learn of commodores.

Turn we now to the second officer in rank, almost supreme, however,
in the internal affairs of his ship. Captain Claret was a large,
portly man, a Harry the Eighth afloat, bluff and hearty; and as
kingly in his cabin as Harry on his throne. For a ship is a bit of
terra firma cut off from the main; it is a state in itself; and the
captain is its king.

It is no limited monarchy, where the sturdy Commons have a right to
petition, and snarl if they please; but almost a despotism like the
Grand Turk's. The captain's word is law; he never speaks but in the
imperative mood. When he stands on his Quarter-deck at sea, he
absolutely commands as far as eye can reach. Only the moon and stars
are beyond his jurisdiction. He is lord and master of the sun.

It is not twelve o'clock till he says so. For when the sailing-master,
whose duty it is to take the regular observation at noon, touches his
hat, and reports twelve o'clock to the officer of the deck; that
functionary orders a midshipman to repair to the captain's cabin, and
humbly inform him of the respectful suggestion of the sailing-master.

"Twelve o'clock reported, sir," says the middy.

"_Make_ it so," replies the captain.

And the bell is struck eight by the messenger-boy, and twelve o'clock
it is.

As in the case of the Commodore, when the captain visits the deck,
his subordinate officers generally beat a retreat to the other side
and, as a general rule, would no more think of addressing him, except
concerning the ship, than a lackey would think of hailing the Czar of
Russia on his throne, and inviting him to tea. Perhaps no mortal man
has more reason to feel such an intense sense of his own personal
consequence, as the captain of a man-of-war at sea.

Next in rank comes the First or Senior Lieutenant, the chief executive
officer. I have no reason to love the particular gentleman who filled
that post aboard our frigate, for it was he who refused my petition for
as much black paint as would render water-proof that white-jacket of
mine. All my soakings and drenchings lie at his state-room door. I
hardly think I shall ever forgive him; every twinge of the rheumatism,
which I still occasionally feel, is directly referable to him. The
Immortals have a reputation for clemency; and _they_ may pardon him;
but he must not dun me to be merciful. But my personal feelings toward
the man shall not prevent me from here doing him justice. In most
things he was an excellent seaman; prompt, loud, and to the point; and
as such was well fitted for his station. The First Lieutenancy of a
frigate demands a good disciplinarian, and, every way, an energetic man.
By the captain he is held responsible for everything; by that magnate,
indeed, he is supposed to be omnipresent; down in the hold, and up
aloft, at one and the same time.

He presides at the head of the Ward-room officers' table, who are so
called from their messing together in a part of the ship thus designated.
In a frigate it comprises the after part of the berth-deck. Sometimes it
goes by the name of the Gun-room, but oftener is called the Ward-room.
Within, this Ward-room much resembles a long, wide corridor in a large
hotel; numerous doors opening on both hands to the private apartments
of the officers. I never had a good interior look at it but once; and
then the Chaplain was seated at the table in the centre, playing chess
with the Lieutenant of Marines. It was mid-day, but the place was
lighted by lamps.

Besides the First Lieutenant, the Ward-room officers include the junior
lieutenants, in a frigate six or seven in number, the Sailing-master,
Purser, Chaplain, Surgeon, Marine officers, and Midshipmen's Schoolmaster,
or "the Professor." They generally form a very agreeable club of good
fellows; from their diversity of character, admirably calculated to form
an agreeable social whole. The Lieutenants discuss sea-fights, and tell
anecdotes of Lord Nelson and Lady Hamilton; the Marine officers talk of
storming fortresses, and the siege of Gibraltar; the Purser steadies
this wild conversation by occasional allusions to the rule of three; the
Professor is always charged with a scholarly reflection, or an apt line
from the classics, generally Ovid; the Surgeon's stories of the
amputation-table judiciously serve to suggest the mortality of the whole
party as men; while the good chaplain stands ready at all times to give
them pious counsel and consolation.

Of course these gentlemen all associate on a footing of perfect
social equality.

Next in order come the Warrant or Forward officers, consisting of the
Boatswain, Gunner, Carpenter, and Sailmaker. Though these worthies
sport long coats and wear the anchor-button; yet, in the estimation
of the Ward-room officers, they are not, technically speaking, rated
gentlemen. The First Lieutenant, Chaplain, or Surgeon, for example,
would never dream of inviting them to dinner, In sea parlance, "they
come in at the hawse holes;" they have hard hands; and the carpenter
and sail-maker practically understand the duties which they are called
upon to superintend. They mess by themselves. Invariably four in number,
they never have need to play whist with a dummy.

In this part of the category now come the "reefers," otherwise "middies"
or midshipmen. These boys are sent to sea, for the purpose of making
commodores; and in order to become commodores, many of them deem it
indispensable forthwith to commence chewing tobacco, drinking brandy
and water, and swearing at the sailors. As they are only placed on board
a sea-going ship to go to school and learn the duty of a Lieutenant; and
until qualified to act as such, have few or no special functions to
attend to; they are little more, while midshipmen, than supernumeraries
on board. Hence, in a crowded frigate, they are so everlastingly crossing
the path of both men and officers, that in the navy it has become a
proverb, that a useless fellow is "_as much in the way as a reefer_."

In a gale of wind, when all hands are called and the deck swarms with
men, the little "middies" running about distracted and having nothing
particular to do, make it up in vociferous swearing; exploding all
about under foot like torpedoes. Some of them are terrible little
boys, cocking their cups at alarming angles, and looking fierce as
young roosters. They are generally great consumers of Macassar oil
and the Balm of Columbia; they thirst and rage after whiskers; and
sometimes, applying their ointments, lay themselves out in the sun,
to promote the fertility of their chins.

As the only way to learn to command, is to learn to obey, the usage
of a ship of war is such that the midshipmen are constantly being
ordered about by the Lieutenants; though, without having assigned
them their particular destinations, they are always going somewhere,
and never arriving. In some things, they almost have a harder time of
it than the seamen themselves. They are messengers and errand-boys to
their superiors.

"Mr. Pert," cries an officer of the deck, hailing a young gentleman
forward. Mr. Pert advances, touches his hat, and remains in an
attitude of deferential suspense. "Go and tell the boatswain I want
him." And with this perilous errand, the middy hurries away, looking
proud as a king.

The middies live by themselves in the steerage, where, nowadays, they
dine off a table, spread with a cloth. They have a castor at dinner;
they have some other little boys (selected from the ship's company)
to wait upon them; they sometimes drink coffee out of china. But for
all these, their modern refinements, in some instances the affairs of
their club go sadly to rack and ruin. The china is broken; the
japanned coffee-pot dented like a pewter mug in an ale-house; the
pronged forks resemble tooth-picks (for which they are sometimes
used); the table-knives are hacked into hand-saws; and the cloth goes
to the sail-maker to be patched. Indeed, they are something like
collegiate freshmen and sophomores, living in the college buildings,
especially so far as the noise they make in their quarters is
concerned. The steerage buzzes, hums, and swarms like a hive; or like an
infant-school of a hot day, when the school-mistress falls asleep
with a fly on her nose.

In frigates, the ward-room--the retreat of the Lieutenants--
immediately adjoining the steerage, is on the same deck with it.
Frequently, when the middies, waking early of a morning, as most
youngsters do, would be kicking up their heels in their hammocks, or
running about with double-reefed night-gowns, playing tag among the
"clews;" the Senior lieutenant would burst among them with a--"Young
gentlemen, I am astonished. You must stop this sky-larking. Mr. Pert,
what are you doing at the table there, without your pantaloons? To
your hammock, sir. Let me see no more of this. If you disturb the
ward-room again, young gentleman, you shall hear of it." And so
saying, this hoary-headed Senior Lieutenant would retire to his cot
in his state-room, like the father of a numerous family after getting
up in his dressing-gown and slippers, to quiet a daybreak tumult in
his populous nursery.

Having now descended from Commodore to Middy, we come lastly to a set
of nondescripts, forming also a "mess" by themselves, apart from the
seamen. Into this mess, the usage of a man-of-war thrusts various
subordinates--including the master-at-arms, purser's steward, ship's
corporals, marine sergeants, and ship's yeomen, forming the first
aristocracy above the sailors.

The master-at-arms is a sort of high constable and school-master,
wearing citizen's clothes, and known by his official rattan. He it is
whom all sailors hate. His is the universal duty of a universal
informer and hunter-up of delinquents. On the berth-deck he reigns
supreme; spying out all grease-spots made by the various cooks of the
seamen's messes, and driving the laggards up the hatches, when all
hands are called. It is indispensable that he should be a very Vidocq
in vigilance. But as it is a heartless, so is it a thankless office.
Of dark nights, most masters-of-arms keep themselves in readiness to
dodge forty-two pound balls, dropped down the hatchways near them.

The ship's corporals are this worthy's deputies and ushers.

The marine sergeants are generally tall fellows with unyielding
spines and stiff upper lips, and very exclusive in their tastes and

The ship's yeoman is a gentleman who has a sort of counting-room in a
tar-cellar down in the fore-hold. More will be said of him anon.

Except the officers above enumerated, there are none who mess apart
from the seamen. The "_petty officers_," so called; that is, the
Boatswain's, Gunner's, Carpenter's, and Sail-maker's mates, the
Captains of the Tops, of the Forecastle, and of the After-Guard, and
of the Fore and Main holds, and the Quarter-Masters, all mess in
common with the crew, and in the American navy are only distinguished
from the common seamen by their slightly additional pay. But in the
English navy they wear crowns and anchors worked on the sleeves of
their jackets, by way of badges of office. In the French navy they
are known by strips of worsted worn in the same place, like those
designating the Sergeants and Corporals in the army.

Thus it will be seen, that the dinner-table is the criterion of rank
in our man-of-war world. The Commodore dines alone, because he is the
only man of his rank in the ship. So too with the Captain; and the
Ward-room officers, warrant officers, midshipmen, the master-at-arms'
mess, and the common seamen;--all of them, respectively, dine
together, because they are, respectively, on a footing of equality.



Not only is the dinner-table a criterion of rank on board a man-
of-war, but also the dinner hour. He who dines latest is the
greatest man; and he who dines earliest is accounted the least.
In a flag-ship, the Commodore generally dines about four or five
o'clock; the Captain about three; the Lieutenants about two;
while _the people_ (by which phrase the common seamen are
specially designated in the nomenclature of the quarter-deck) sit
down to their salt beef exactly at noon.

Thus it will be seen, that while the two estates of sea-kings and
sea-lords dine at rather patrician hours--and thereby, in the
long run, impair their digestive functions--the sea-commoners,
or _the people_, keep up their constitutions, by keeping up the
good old-fashioned, Elizabethan, Franklin-warranted dinner hour
of twelve.

Twelve o'clock! It is the natural centre, key-stone, and very
heart of the day. At that hour, the sun has arrived at the top of
his hill; and as he seems to hang poised there a while, before
coming down on the other side, it is but reasonable to suppose
that he is then stopping to dine; setting an eminent example to
all mankind. The rest of the day is called _afternoon_; the very
sound of which fine old Saxon word conveys a feeling of the lee
bulwarks and a nap; a summer sea--soft breezes creeping over it;
dreamy dolphins gliding in the distance. _Afternoon!_ the word
implies, that it is an after-piece, coming after the grand drama
of the day; something to be taken leisurely and lazily. But how
can this be, if you dine at five? For, after all, though Paradise
Lost be a noble poem, and we men-of-war's men, no doubt, largely
partake in the immortality of the immortals yet, let us candidly
confess it, shipmates, that, upon the whole, our dinners are the
most momentous attains of these lives we lead beneath the moon.
What were a day without a dinner? a dinnerless day! such a day
had better be a night.

Again: twelve o'clock is the natural hour for us men-of-war's men
to dine, because at that hour the very time-pieces we have
invented arrive at their terminus; they can get no further than
twelve; when straightway they continue their old rounds again.
Doubtless, Adam and Eve dined at twelve; and the Patriarch
Abraham in the midst of his cattle; and old Job with his noon
mowers and reapers, in that grand plantation of Uz; and old Noah
himself, in the Ark, must have gone to dinner at precisely _eight
bells_ (noon), with all his floating families and farm-yards.

But though this antediluvian dinner hour is rejected by modern
Commodores and Captains, it still lingers among "_the people_"
under their command. Many sensible things banished from high life
find an asylum among the mob.

Some Commodores are very particular in seeing to it, that no man
on board the ship dare to dine after his (the Commodore's,) own
dessert is cleared away.--Not even the Captain. It is said, on
good authority, that a Captain once ventured to dine at five,
when the Commodore's hour was four. Next day, as the story goes,
that Captain received a private note, and in consequence of that
note, dined for the future at half-past three.

Though in respect of the dinner hour on board a man-of-war, _the
people_ have no reason to complain; yet they have just cause,
almost for mutiny, in the outrageous hours assigned for their
breakfast and supper.

Eight o'clock for breakfast; twelve for dinner; four for supper;
and no meals but these; no lunches and no cold snacks. Owing to
this arrangement (and partly to one watch going to their meals
before the other, at sea), all the meals of the twenty-four hours
are crowded into a space of less than eight! Sixteen mortal hours
elapse between supper and breakfast; including, to one watch,
eight hours on deck! This is barbarous; any physician will tell
you so. Think of it! Before the Commodore has dined, you have
supped. And in high latitudes, in summer-time, you have taken
your last meal for the day, and five hours, or more, daylight to

Mr. Secretary of the Navy, in the name of _the people_, you
should interpose in this matter. Many a time have I, a maintop-
man, found myself actually faint of a tempestuous morning watch,
when all my energies were demanded--owing to this miserable,
unphilosophical mode of allotting the government meals at sea. We
beg you, Mr. Secretary, not to be swayed in this matter by the
Honourable Board of Commodores, who will no doubt tell you that
eight, twelve, and four are the proper hours for _the people_ to
take their Meals; inasmuch, as at these hours the watches are
relieved. For, though this arrangement makes a neater and cleaner
thing of it for the officers, and looks very nice and superfine
on paper; yet it is plainly detrimental to health; and in time of
war is attended with still more serious consequences to the whole
nation at large. If the necessary researches were made, it would
perhaps be found that in those instances where men-of-war
adopting the above-mentioned hours for meals have encountered an
enemy at night, they have pretty generally been beaten; that is,
in those cases where the enemies' meal times were reasonable;
which is only to be accounted for by the fact that _the people_
of the beaten vessels were fighting on an empty stomach instead
of a full one.



Having glanced at the grand divisions of a man-of-war, let us now
descend to specialities: and, particularly, to two of the junior
lieutenants; lords and noblemen; members of that House of Peers,
the gun-room. There were several young lieutenants on board; but
from these two--representing the extremes of character to be
found in their department--the nature of the other officers of
their grade in the Neversink must be derived.

One of these two quarter-deck lords went among the sailors by a
name of their own devising--Selvagee. Of course, it was intended
to be characteristic; and even so it was.

In frigates, and all large ships of war, when getting under
weigh, a large rope, called a _messenger_ used to carry the
strain of the cable to the capstan; so that the anchor may be
weighed, without the muddy, ponderous cable, itself going round
the capstan. As the cable enters the hawse-hole, therefore,
something must be constantly used, to keep this travelling chain
attached to this travelling _messenger_; something that may be
rapidly wound round both, so as to bind them together. The
article used is called a _selvagee_. And what could be better
adapted to the purpose? It is a slender, tapering, unstranded
piece of rope prepared with much solicitude; peculiarly flexible;
and wreathes and serpentines round the cable and messenger like
an elegantly-modeled garter-snake round the twisted stalks of a
vine. Indeed, _Selvagee_ is the exact type and symbol of a tall,
genteel, limber, spiralising exquisite. So much for the
derivation of the name which the sailors applied to the Lieutenant.

From what sea-alcove, from what mermaid's milliner's shop, hast
thou emerged, Selvagee! with that dainty waist and languid cheek?
What heartless step-dame drove thee forth, to waste thy fragrance
on the salt sea-air?

Was it _you_, Selvagee! that, outward-bound, off Cape Horn,
looked at Hermit Island through an opera-glass? Was it _you_, who
thought of proposing to the Captain that, when the sails were
furled in a gale, a few drops of lavender should be dropped in
their "bunts," so that when the canvas was set again, your
nostrils might not be offended by its musty smell? I do not _say_
it was you, Selvagee; I but deferentially inquire.

In plain prose, Selvagee was one of those officers whom the sight
of a trim-fitting naval coat had captivated in the days of his
youth. He fancied, that if a _sea-officer_ dressed well, and
conversed genteelly, he would abundantly uphold the honour of
his flag, and immortalise the tailor that made him. On that rock
many young gentlemen split. For upon a frigate's quarter-deck, it
is not enough to sport a coat fashioned by a Stultz; it is not
enough to be well braced with straps and suspenders; it is not
enough to have sweet reminiscences of Lauras and Matildas. It is
a right down life of hard wear and tear, and the man who is not,
in a good degree, fitted to become a common sailor will never
make an officer. Take that to heart, all ye naval aspirants.
Thrust your arms up to the elbow in pitch and see how you like
it, ere you solicit a warrant. Prepare for white squalls, living
gales and typhoons; read accounts of shipwrecks and horrible
disasters; peruse the Narratives of Byron and Bligh; familiarise
yourselves with the story of the English frigate Alceste and the
French frigate Medusa. Though you may go ashore, now and then, at
Cadiz and Palermo; for every day so spent among oranges and
ladies, you will have whole months of rains and gales.

And even thus did Selvagee prove it. But with all the intrepid
effeminacy of your true dandy, he still continued his Cologne-
water baths, and sported his lace-bordered handkerchiefs in the
very teeth of a tempest. Alas, Selvagee! there was no getting the
lavender out of you.

But Selvagee was no fool. Theoretically he understood his
profession; but the mere theory of seamanship forms but the
thousandth part of what makes a seaman. You cannot save a ship by
working out a problem in the cabin; the deck is the field of

Well aware of his deficiency in some things, Selvagee never took
the trumpet--which is the badge of the deck officer for the time--
without a tremulous movement of the lip, and an earnest
inquiring eye to the windward. He encouraged those old Tritons,
the Quarter-masters, to discourse with him concerning the
likelihood of a squall; and often followed their advice as to
taking in, or making sail. The smallest favours in that way were
thankfully received. Sometimes, when all the North looked
unusually lowering, by many conversational blandishments, he
would endeavour to prolong his predecessor's stay on deck, after
that officer's watch had expired. But in fine, steady weather,
when the Captain would emerge from his cabin, Selvagee might be
seen, pacing the poop with long, bold, indefatigable strides, and
casting his eye up aloft with the most ostentatious fidelity.

But vain these pretences; he could not deceive. Selvagee! you
know very well, that if it comes on to blow pretty hard, the
First Lieutenant will be sure to interfere with his paternal
authority. Every man and every boy in the frigate knows,
Selvagee, that you are no Neptune.

How unenviable his situation! His brother officers do not insult
him, to be sure; but sometimes their looks are as daggers. The
sailors do not laugh at him outright; but of dark nights they
jeer, when they hearken to that mantuamaker's voice ordering _a
strong pull at the main brace_, or _hands by the halyards!_
Sometimes, by way of being terrific, and making the men jump,
Selvagee raps out an oath; but the soft bomb stuffed with
confectioner's kisses seems to burst like a crushed rose-bud
diffusing its odours. Selvagee! Selvagee! take a main-top-man's
advice; and this cruise over, never more tempt the sea.

With this gentleman of cravats and curling irons, how strongly
contrasts the man who was born in a gale! For in some time of
tempest--off Cape Horn or Hatteras--_Mad Jack_ must have entered
the world--such things have been--not with a silver spoon, but
with a speaking-trumpet in his mouth; wrapped up in a caul, as in
a main-sail--for a charmed life against shipwrecks he bears--and
crying, _Luff! luff, you may!--steady!--port! World ho!--here I am!_

Mad Jack is in his saddle on the sea. _That_ is his home; he
would not care much, if another Flood came and overflowed the
dry land; for what would it do but float his good ship higher and
higher and carry his proud nation's flag round the globe, over
the very capitals of all hostile states! Then would masts
surmount spires; and all mankind, like the Chinese boatmen in
Canton River, live in flotillas and fleets, and find their food
in the sea.

Mad Jack was expressly created and labelled for a tar. Five feet
nine is his mark, in his socks; and not weighing over eleven
stone before dinner. Like so many ship's shrouds, his muscles and
tendons are all set true, trim, and taut; he is braced up fore
and aft, like a ship on the wind. His broad chest is a bulkhead,
that dams off the gale; and his nose is an aquiline, that divides
it in two, like a keel. His loud, lusty lungs are two belfries,
full of all manner of chimes; but you only hear his deepest bray,
in the height of some tempest--like the great bell of St. Paul's,
which only sounds when the King or the Devil is dead.

Look at him there, where he stands on the poop--one foot on the
rail, and one hand on a shroud--his head thrown back, and his
trumpet like an elephant's trunk thrown up in the air. Is he
going to shoot dead with sounds, those fellows on the main-

Mad Jack was a bit of a tyrant--they _say_ all good officers are--
but the sailors loved him all round; and would much rather stand
fifty watches with him, than one with a rose-water sailor.

But Mad Jack, alas! has one fearful failing. He drinks. And so do
we all. But Mad Jack, _He_ only brinks brandy. The vice was
inveterate; surely, like Ferdinand, Count Fathom, he must have
been suckled at a puncheon. Very often, this had habit got him
into very serious scrapes. Twice was he put off duty by the
Commodore; and once he came near being broken for his frolics. So
far as his efficiency as a sea-officer was concerned, on shore at
least, Jack might _bouse away_ as much as he pleased; but afloat
it will not do at all.

Now, if he only followed the wise example set by those ships of
the desert, the camels; and while in port, drank for the thirst
past, the thirst present, and the thirst to come--so that he
might cross the ocean sober; Mad Jack would get along pretty
well. Still better, if he would but eschew brandy altogether; and
only drink of the limpid white-wine of the rills and the brooks.



I MUST make some further mention of that white jacket of mine.

And here be it known--by way of introduction to what is to
follow--that to a common sailor, the living on board a man-of-war
is like living in a market; where you dress on the door-steps,
and sleep in the cellar. No privacy can you have; hardly one
moment's seclusion. It is almost a physical impossibility, that
you can ever be alone. You dine at a vast _table d'hote_; sleep
in commons, and make your toilet where and when you can. There is
no calling for a mutton chop and a pint of claret by yourself; no
selecting of chambers for the night; no hanging of pantaloons
over the back of a chair; no ringing your bell of a rainy
morning, to take your coffee in bed. It is something like life in
a large manufactory. The bell strikes to dinner, and hungry or
not, you must dine.

Your clothes are stowed in a large canvas bag, generally painted
black, which you can get out of the "rack" only once in the
twenty-four hours; and then, during a time of the utmost
confusion; among five hundred other bags, with five hundred other
sailors diving into each, in the midst of the twilight of the
berth-deck. In some measure to obviate this inconvenience, many
sailors divide their wardrobes between their hammocks and their
bags; stowing a few frocks and trowsers in the former; so that
they can shift at night, if they wish, when the hammocks are
piped down. But they gain very little by this.

You have no place whatever but your bag or hammock, in which to
put anything in a man-of-war. If you lay anything down, and turn
your back for a moment, ten to one it is gone.

Now, in sketching the preliminary plan, and laying out the
foundation of that memorable white jacket of mine, I had had an
earnest eye to all these inconveniences, and re-solved to avoid
them. I proposed, that not only should my jacket keep me warm,
but that it should also be so constructed as to contain a shirt
or two, a pair of trowsers, and divers knick-knacks--sewing
utensils, books, biscuits, and the like. With this object, I had
accordingly provided it with a great variety of pockets,
pantries, clothes-presses, and cupboards.

The principal apartments, two in number, were placed in the
skirts, with a wide, hospitable entrance from the inside; two
more, of smaller capacity, were planted in each breast, with
folding-doors communicating, so that in case of emergency, to
accommodate any bulky articles, the two pockets in each breast
could be thrown into one. There were, also, several unseen
recesses behind the arras; insomuch, that my jacket, like an old
castle, was full of winding stairs, and mysterious closets,
crypts, and cabinets; and like a confidential writing-desk,
abounded in snug little out-of-the-way lairs and hiding-places,
for the storage of valuables.

Superadded to these, were four capacious pockets on the outside;
one pair to slip books into when suddenly startled from my
studies to the main-royal-yard; and the other pair, for permanent
mittens, to thrust my hands into of a cold night-watch. This last
contrivance was regarded as needless by one of my top-mates, who
showed me a pattern for sea-mittens, which he said was much
better than mine.

It must be known, that sailors, even in the bleakest weather,
only cover their hands when unemployed; they never wear mittens
aloft, since aloft they literally carry their lives in their
hands, and want nothing between their grasp of the hemp, and the
hemp itself.--Therefore, it is desirable, that whatever things
they cover their hands with, should be capable of being slipped
on and off in a moment. Nay, it is desirable, that they should be
of such a nature, that in a dark night, when you are in a great
hurry--say, going to the helm--they may be jumped into,
indiscriminately; and not be like a pair of right-and-left kids;
neither of which will admit any hand, but the particular one
meant for it.

My top-mate's contrivance was this--he ought to have got out a
patent for it--each of his mittens was provided with two thumbs,
one on each side; the convenience of which needs no comment. But
though for clumsy seamen, whose fingers are all thumbs, this
description of mitten might do very well, White-Jacket did not so
much fancy it. For when your hand was once in the bag of the
mitten, the empty thumb-hole sometimes dangled at your palm,
confounding your ideas of where your real thumb might be; or
else, being carefully grasped in the hand, was continually
suggesting the insane notion, that you were all the while having
hold of some one else's thumb.

No; I told my good top-mate to go away with his four thumbs, I would
have nothing to do with them; two thumbs were enough for any man.

For some time after completing my jacket, and getting the
furniture and household stores in it; I thought that nothing
could exceed it for convenience. Seldom now did I have occasion
to go to my bag, and be jostled by the crowd who were making
their wardrobe in a heap. If I wanted anything in the way of
clothing, thread, needles, or literature, the chances were that
my invaluable jacket contained it. Yes: I fairly hugged myself,
and revelled in my jacket; till, alas! a long rain put me out of
conceit of it. I, and all my pockets and their contents, were
soaked through and through, and my pocket-edition of Shakespeare
was reduced to an omelet.

However, availing myself of a fine sunny day that followed, I
emptied myself out in the main-top, and spread all my goods and
chattels to dry. But spite of the bright sun, that day proved a
black one. The scoundrels on deck detected me in the act of
discharging my saturated cargo; they now knew that the white
jacket was used for a storehouse. The consequence was that, my
goods being well dried and again stored away in my pockets, the
very next night, when it was my quarter-watch on deck, and not in
the top (where they were all honest men), I noticed a parcel of
fellows skulking about after me, wherever I went. To a man, they
were pickpockets, and bent upon pillaging me. In vain I kept
clapping my pocket like a nervous old gentlemen in a crowd; that
same night I found myself minus several valuable articles. So, in
the end, I masoned up my lockers and pantries; and save the two
used for mittens, the white jacket ever after was pocketless.



As the latter part of the preceding chapter may seem strange to
those landsmen, who have been habituated to indulge in high-
raised, romantic notions of the man-of-war's man's character; it
may not be amiss, to set down here certain facts on this head,
which may serve to place the thing in its true light.

From the wild life they lead, and various other causes (needless
to mention), sailors, as a class, entertain the most liberal
notions concerning morality and the Decalogue; or rather, they
take their own views of such matters, caring little for the
theological or ethical definitions of others concerning what may
be criminal, or wrong.

Their ideas are much swayed by circumstances. They will covertly
abstract a thing from one, whom they dislike; and insist upon it,
that, in such a case, stealing is not robbing. Or, where the
theft involves something funny, as in the case of the white
jacket, they only steal for the sake of the joke; but this much
is to be observed nevertheless, i. e., that they never spoil the
joke by returning the stolen article.

It is a good joke; for instance, and one often perpetrated on
board ship, to stand talking to a man in a dark night watch, and
all the while be cutting the buttons from his coat. But once off,
those buttons never grow on again. There is no spontaneous
vegetation in buttons.

Perhaps it is a thing unavoidable, but the truth is that, among
the crew of a man-of-war, scores of desperadoes are too often
found, who stop not at the largest enormities. A species of
highway robbery is not unknown to them. A _gang_ will be informed
that such a fellow has three or four gold pieces in the money-
bag, so-called, or purse, which many tars wear round their necks,
tucked out of sight. Upon this, they deliberately lay their
plans; and in due time, proceed to carry them into execution. The
man they have marked is perhaps strolling along the benighted
berth-deck to his mess-chest; when of a sudden, the foot-pads
dash out from their hiding-place, throw him down, and while two
or three gag him, and hold him fast, another cuts the bag from
his neck, and makes away with it, followed by his comrades. This
was more than once done in the Neversink.

At other times, hearing that a sailor has something valuable
secreted in his hammock, they will rip it open from underneath
while he sleeps, and reduce the conjecture to a certainty.

To enumerate all the minor pilferings on board a man-of-war would
be endless. With some highly commendable exceptions, they rob
from one another, and rob back again, till, in the matter of
small things, a community of goods seems almost established; and
at last, as a whole, they become relatively honest, by nearly
every man becoming the reverse. It is in vain that the officers,
by threats of condign punishment, endeavour to instil more
virtuous principles into their crew; so thick is the mob, that
not one thief in a thousand is detected.



The feeling of insecurity concerning one's possessions in the
Neversink, which the things just narrated begat in the minds of
honest men, was curiously exemplified in the case of my poor
friend Lemsford, a gentlemanly young member of the After-Guard. I
had very early made the acquaintance of Lemsford. It is curious,
how unerringly a man pitches upon a spirit, any way akin to his
own, even in the most miscellaneous mob.

Lemsford was a poet; so thoroughly inspired with the divine
afflatus, that not even all the tar and tumult of a man-of-war
could drive it out of him.

As may readily be imagined, the business of writing verse is a
very different thing on the gun-deck of a frigate, from what the
gentle and sequestered Wordsworth found it at placid Rydal Mount
in Westmoreland. In a frigate, you cannot sit down and meander
off your sonnets, when the full heart prompts; but only, when
more important duties permit: such as bracing round the yards, or
reefing top-sails fore and aft. Nevertheless, every fragment of
time at his command was religiously devoted by Lemsford to the
Nine. At the most unseasonable hours, you would behold him,
seated apart, in some corner among the guns--a shot-box before
him, pen in hand, and eyes "_in a fine frenzy rolling_."

"What's that 'ere born nat'ral about?"--"He's got a fit, hain't
he?" were exclamations often made by the less learned of his
shipmates. Some deemed him a conjurer; others a lunatic; and the
knowing ones said, that he must be a crazy Methodist. But well
knowing by experience the truth of the saying, that _poetry is
its own exceeding great reward_, Lemsford wrote on; dashing off
whole epics, sonnets, ballads, and acrostics, with a facility
which, under the circumstances, amazed me. Often he read over his
effusions to me; and well worth the hearing they were. He had
wit, imagination, feeling, and humour in abundance; and out of
the very ridicule with which some persons regarded him, he made
rare metrical sport, which we two together enjoyed by ourselves;
or shared with certain select friends.

Still, the taunts and jeers so often levelled at my friend the
poet, would now and then rouse him into rage; and at such times
the haughty scorn he would hurl on his foes, was proof positive
of his possession of that one attribute, irritability, almost
universally ascribed to the votaries of Parnassus and the Nine.

My noble captain, Jack Chase, rather patronised Lemsford, and he
would stoutly take his part against scores of adversaries.
Frequently, inviting him up aloft into his top, he would beg him
to recite some of his verses; to which he would pay the most
heedful attention, like Maecenas listening to Virgil, with a book
of Aeneid in his hand. Taking the liberty of a well-wisher, he
would sometimes gently criticise the piece, suggesting a few
immaterial alterations. And upon my word, noble Jack, with his
native-born good sense, taste, and humanity, was not ill
qualified to play the true part of a _Quarterly Review_;--which
is, to give quarter at last, however severe the critique.

Now Lemsford's great care, anxiety, and endless source of
tribulation was the preservation of his manuscripts. He had a
little box, about the size of a small dressing-case, and secured
with a lock, in which he kept his papers and stationery. This
box, of course, he could not keep in his bag or hammock, for, in
either case, he would only be able to get at it once in the
twenty-four hours. It was necessary to have it accessible at all
times. So when not using it, he was obliged to hide it out of
sight, where he could. And of all places in the world, a ship of
war, above her _hold_, least abounds in secret nooks. Almost
every inch is occupied; almost every inch is in plain sight; and
almost every inch is continually being visited and explored.
Added to all this, was the deadly hostility of the whole tribe of
ship-underlings--master-at-arms, ship's corporals, and boatswain's
mates,--both to the poet and his casket. They hated his box, as if
it had been Pandora's, crammed to the very lid with hurricanes and
gales. They hunted out his hiding-places like pointers, and gave
him no peace night or day.

Still, the long twenty-four-pounders on the main-deck offered
some promise of a hiding-place to the box; and, accordingly, it
was often tucked away behind the carriages, among the side
tackles; its black colour blending with the ebon hue of the guns.

But Quoin, one of the quarter-gunners, had eyes like a ferret.
Quoin was a little old man-of-war's man, hardly five feet high,
with a complexion like a gun-shot wound after it is healed. He
was indefatigable in attending to his duties; which consisted in
taking care of one division of the guns, embracing ten of the
aforesaid twenty-four-pounders. Ranged up against the ship's side
at regular intervals, they resembled not a little a stud of sable
chargers in their stall. Among this iron stud little Quoin was
continually running in and out, currying them down, now and then,
with an old rag, or keeping the flies off with a brush. To Quoin,
the honour and dignity of the United States of America seemed
indissolubly linked with the keeping his guns unspotted and
glossy. He himself was black as a chimney-sweep with continually
tending them, and rubbing them down with black paint. He would
sometimes get outside of the port-holes and peer into their
muzzles, as a monkey into a bottle. Or, like a dentist, he seemed
intent upon examining their teeth. Quite as often, he would be
brushing out their touch-holes with a little wisp of oakum, like
a Chinese barber in Canton, cleaning a patient's ear.

Such was his solicitude, that it was a thousand pities he was not
able to dwarf himself still more, so as to creep in at the touch-
hole, and examining the whole interior of the tube, emerge at
last from the muzzle. Quoin swore by his guns, and slept by their
side. Woe betide the man whom he found leaning against them, or
in any way soiling them. He seemed seized with the crazy fancy,
that his darling twenty-four-pounders were fragile, and might
break, like glass retorts.

Now, from this Quoin's vigilance, how could my poor friend the poet
hope to escape with his box? Twenty times a week it was pounced upon,
with a "here's that d----d pillbox again!" and a loud threat, to pitch
it overboard the next time, without a moment's warning, or benefit of
clergy. Like many poets, Lemsford was nervous, and upon these occasions
he trembled like a leaf. Once, with an inconsolable countenance, he
came to me, saying that his casket was nowhere to be found; he had
sought for it in his hiding-place, and it was not there.

I asked him where he had hidden it?

"Among the guns," he replied.

"Then depend upon it, Lemsford, that Quoin has been the death of it."

Straight to Quoin went the poet. But Quoin knew nothing about it.
For ten mortal days the poet was not to be comforted; dividing
his leisure time between cursing Quoin and lamenting his loss.
The world is undone, he must have thought: no such calamity has
befallen it since the Deluge;--my verses are perished.

But though Quoin, as it afterward turned out, had indeed found
the box, it so happened that he had not destroyed it; which no
doubt led Lemsford to infer that a superintending Providence had
interposed to preserve to posterity his invaluable casket. It was
found at last, lying exposed near the galley.

Lemsford was not the only literary man on board the Neversink.
There were three or four persons who kept journals of the cruise.
One of these journalists embellished his work--which was written
in a large blank account-book--with various coloured illustrations
of the harbours and bays at which the frigate had touched; and also,
with small crayon sketches of comical incidents on board the frigate
itself. He would frequently read passages of his book to an admiring
circle of the more refined sailors, between the guns. They pronounced
the whole performance a miracle of art. As the author declared to them
that it was all to be printed and published so soon as the vessel
reached home, they vied with each other in procuring interesting items,
to be incorporated into additional chapters. But it having been
rumoured abroad that this journal was to be ominously entitled "_The
Cruise of the Neversink, or a Paixhan shot into Naval Abuses;_" and
it having also reached the ears of the Ward-room that the work
contained reflections somewhat derogatory to the dignity of the
officers, the volume was seized by the master-at-arms, armed with a
warrant from the Captain. A few days after, a large nail was driven
straight through the two covers, and clinched on the other side, and,
thus everlastingly sealed, the book was committed to the deep.
The ground taken by the authorities on this occasion was, perhaps,
that the book was obnoxious to a certain clause in the Articles of War,
forbidding any person in the Navy to bring any other person in the
Navy into contempt, which the suppressed volume undoubtedly did.



Quoin, the quarter-gunner, was the representative of a class on
board the Neversink, altogether too remarkable to be left astern,
without further notice, in the rapid wake of these chapters.

As has been seen, Quoin was full of unaccountable whimsies; he
was, withal, a very cross, bitter, ill-natured, inflammable old
man. So, too, were all the members of the gunner's gang;
including the two gunner's mates, and all the quarter-gunners.
Every one of them had the same dark brown complexion; all their
faces looked like smoked hams. They were continually grumbling
and growling about the batteries; running in and out among the
guns; driving the sailors away from them; and cursing and
swearing as if all their conscience had been powder-singed, and
made callous, by their calling. Indeed they were a most
unpleasant set of men; especially Priming, the nasal-voiced
gunner's mate, with the hare-lip; and Cylinder, his stuttering
coadjutor, with the clubbed foot. But you will always observe,
that the gunner's gang of every man-of-war are invariably ill-
tempered, ugly featured, and quarrelsome. Once when I visited an
English line-of-battle ship, the gunner's gang were fore and aft,
polishing up the batteries, which, according to the Admiral's
fancy, had been painted white as snow. Fidgeting round the great
thirty-two-pounders, and making stinging remarks at the sailors
and each other, they reminded one of a swarm of black wasps,
buzzing about rows of white headstones in a church-yard.

Now, there can be little doubt, that their being so much among
the guns is the very thing that makes a gunner's gang so cross
and quarrelsome. Indeed, this was once proved to the satisfaction
of our whole company of main-top-men. A fine top-mate of ours, a
most merry and companionable fellow, chanced to be promoted to a
quarter-gunner's berth. A few days afterward, some of us main-
top-men, his old comrades, went to pay him a visit, while he was
going his regular rounds through the division of guns allotted to
his care. But instead of greeting us with his usual heartiness,
and cracking his pleasant jokes, to our amazement, he did little
else but scowl; and at last, when we rallied him upon his ill-
temper, he seized a long black rammer from overhead, and drove us
on deck; threatening to report us, if we ever dared to be
familiar with him again.

My top-mates thought that this remarkable metamorphose was the
effect produced upon a weak, vain character suddenly elevated
from the level of a mere seaman to the dignified position of a
_petty officer_. But though, in similar cases, I had seen such
effects produced upon some of the crew; yet, in the present
instance, I knew better than that;--it was solely brought about
by his consorting with with those villainous, irritable, ill-
tempered cannon; more especially from his being subject to the
orders of those deformed blunderbusses, Priming and Cylinder.

The truth seems to be, indeed, that all people should be very careful
in selecting their callings and vocations; very careful in seeing to
it, that they surround themselves by good-humoured, pleasant-looking
objects; and agreeable, temper-soothing sounds. Many an angelic
disposition has had its even edge turned, and hacked like a saw;
and many a sweet draught of piety has soured on the heart from
people's choosing ill-natured employments, and omitting to gather
round them good-natured landscapes. Gardeners are almost always
pleasant, affable people to con-verse with; but beware of
quarter-gunners, keepers of arsenals, and lonely light-house men.

It would be advisable for any man, who from an unlucky choice of a
profession, which it is too late to change for another, should find
his temper souring, to endeavour to counteract that misfortune, by
filling his private chamber with amiable, pleasurable sights and sounds.
In summer time, an Aeolian harp can be placed in your window at a very
trifling expense; a conch-shell might stand on your mantel, to be taken
up and held to the ear, that you may be soothed by its continual
lulling sound, when you feel the blue fit stealing over you. For sights,
a gay-painted punch-bowl, or Dutch tankard--never mind about filling
it--might be recommended. It should be placed on a bracket in the pier.
Nor is an old-fashioned silver ladle, nor a chased dinner-castor, nor
a fine portly demijohn, nor anything, indeed, that savors of eating and
drinking, bad to drive off the spleen. But perhaps the best of all is a
shelf of merrily-bound books, containing comedies, farces, songs, and
humorous novels. You need never open them; only have the titles in plain
sight. For this purpose, Peregrine Pickle is a good book; so is Gil Blas;
so is Goldsmith.

But of all chamber furniture in the world, best calculated to cure a had
temper, and breed a pleasant one, is the sight of a lovely wife. If you
have children, however, that are teething, the nursery should be a good
way up stairs; at sea, it ought to be in the mizzen-top. Indeed,
teething children play the very deuce with a husband's temper. I have
known three promising young husbands completely spoil on their wives'
hands, by reason of a teething child, whose worrisomeness happened to be
aggravated at the time by the summer-complaint. With a breaking heart,
and my handkerchief to my eyes, I followed those three hapless young
husbands, one after the other, to their premature graves.

Gossiping scenes breed gossips. Who so chatty as hotel-clerks,
market women, auctioneers, bar-keepers, apothecaries, newspaper-
reporters, monthly-nurses, and all those who live in bustling
crowds, or are present at scenes of chatty interest.

Solitude breeds taciturnity; _that_ every body knows; who so
taciturn as authors, taken as a race?

A forced, interior quietude, in the midst of great out-ward
commotion, breeds moody people. Who so moody as railroad-
brakemen, steam-boat-engineers, helmsmen, and tenders of power-
looms in cotton factories? For all these must hold their peace
while employed, and let the machinery do the chatting; they
cannot even edge in a single syllable.

Now, this theory about the wondrous influence of habitual sights and
sounds upon the human temper, was suggested by my experiences on board
our frigate. And al-though I regard the example furnished by our
quarter-gunners--especially him who had once been our top-mate--as by
far the strongest argument in favour of the general theory; yet, the
entire ship abounded with illustrations of its truth. Who were more
liberal-hearted, lofty-minded, gayer, more jocund, elastic, adventurous,
given to fun and frolic, than the top-men of the fore, main, and mizzen
masts? The reason of their liberal-heartedness was, that they were daily
called upon to expatiate themselves all over the rigging. The reason of
their lofty-mindedness was, that they were high lifted above the petty
tumults, carping cares, and paltrinesses of the decks below.

And I feel persuaded in my inmost soul, that it is to the fact of
my having been a main-top-man; and especially my particular post
being on the loftiest yard of the frigate, the main-royal-yard;
that I am now enabled to give such a free, broad, off-hand,
bird's-eye, and, more than all, impartial account of our man-of-war
world; withholding nothing; inventing nothing; nor flattering, nor
scandalising any; but meting out to all--commodore and messenger-boy
alike--their precise descriptions and deserts.

The reason of the mirthfulness of these top-men was, that they
always looked out upon the blue, boundless, dimpled, laughing,
sunny sea. Nor do I hold, that it militates against this theory,
that of a stormy day, when the face of the ocean was black, and
overcast, that some of them would grow moody, and chose to sit
apart. On the contrary, it only proves the thing which I
maintain. For even on shore, there are many people naturally gay
and light-hearted, who, whenever the autumnal wind begins to
bluster round the corners, and roar along the chimney-stacks,
straight becomes cross, petulant, and irritable. What is more
mellow than fine old ale? Yet thunder will sour the best nut-
brown ever brewed.

The _Holders_ of our frigate, the Troglodytes, who lived down in
the tarry cellars and caves below the berth-deck, were, nearly
all of them, men of gloomy dispositions, taking sour views of
things; one of them was a blue-light Calvinist. Whereas, the old-
sheet-anchor-men, who spent their time in the bracing sea-air and
broad-cast sunshine of the forecastle, were free, generous-
hearted, charitable, and full of good-will to all hands; though
some of them, to tell the truth, proved sad exceptions; but
exceptions only prove the rule.

The "steady-cooks" on the berth-deck, the "steady-sweepers," and
"steady-spit-box-musterers," in all divisions of the frigate,
fore and aft, were a narrow-minded set; with contracted souls;
imputable, no doubt, to their groveling duties. More especially
was this evinced in the case of those odious ditchers and night
scavengers, the ignoble "Waisters."

The members of the band, some ten or twelve in number, who had
nothing to do but keep their instruments polished, and play a
lively air now and then, to stir the stagnant current in our
poor old Commodore's torpid veins, were the most gleeful set of
fellows you ever saw. They were Portuguese, who had been shipped
at the Cape De Verd islands, on the passage out. They messed by
themselves; forming a dinner-party, not to be exceeded ire
mirthfulness, by a club of young bridegrooms, three months after
marriage, completely satisfied with their bargains, after testing

But what made them, now, so full of fun? What indeed but their
merry, martial, mellow calling. Who could he a churl, and play a
flageolet? who mean and spiritless, braying forth the souls of
thousand heroes from his brazen trump? But still more efficacious,
perhaps, in ministering to the light spirits of the band, was the
consoling thought, that should the ship ever go into action, they
would be exempted from the perils of battle. In ships of war, the
members of the "music," as the band is called, are generally
non-combatants; and mostly ship, with the express understanding,
that as soon as the vessel comes within long gun-shot of an enemy,
they shall have the privilege of burrowing down in the cable-tiers,
or sea coal-hole. Which shows that they are inglorious, but
uncommonly sensible fellows.

Look at the barons of the gun-room--Lieutenants, Purser, Marine
officers, Sailing-master--all of them gentlemen with stiff upper
lips, and aristocratic cut noses. Why was this? Will any one
deny, that from their living so long in high military life,
served by a crowd of menial stewards and cot-boys, and always
accustomed to command right and left; will any one deny, I say,
that by reason of this, their very noses had become thin, peaked,
aquiline, and aristocratically cartilaginous? Even old Cuticle,
the Surgeon, had a Roman nose.

But I never could account how it came to be, that our grey headed
First Lieutenant was a little lop-sided; that is, one of his
shoulders disproportionately dropped. And when I observed, that
nearly all the First Lieutenants I saw in other men-of-war,
besides many Second and Third Lieutenants, were similarly lop-
sided, I knew that there must be some general law which induced
the phenomenon; and I put myself to studying it out, as an
interesting problem. At last, I came to the conclusion--to which
I still adhere--that their so long wearing only one epaulet (for
to only one does their rank entitle them) was the infallible clew
to this mystery. And when any one reflects upon so well-known a
fact, that many sea Lieutenants grow decrepit from age, without
attaining a Captaincy and wearing _two_ epaulets, which would
strike the balance between their shoulders, the above reason
assigned will not appear unwarrantable.



The allusion to the poet Lemsford in a previous chapter, leads me
to speak of our mutual friends, Nord and Williams, who, with
Lemsford himself, Jack Chase, and my comrades of the main-top,
comprised almost the only persons with whom I unreservedly
consorted while on board the frigate. For I had not been long on
board ere I found that it would not do to be intimate with
everybody. An indiscriminate intimacy with all hands leads to
sundry annoyances and scrapes, too often ending with a dozen at
the gang-way. Though I was above a year in the frigate, there
were scores of men who to the last remained perfect strangers to
me, whose very names I did not know, and whom I would hardly be
able to recognise now should I happen to meet them in the streets.

In the dog-watches at sea, during the early part of the evening,
the main-deck is generally filled with crowds of pedestrians,
promenading up and down past the guns, like people taking the air
in Broadway. At such times, it is curious to see the men nodding
to each other's recognitions (they might not have seen each other
for a week); exchanging a pleasant word with a friend; making a
hurried appointment to meet him somewhere aloft on the morrow, or
passing group after group without deigning the slightest
salutation. Indeed, I was not at all singular in having but
comparatively few acquaintances on board, though certainly
carrying my fastidiousness to an unusual extent.

My friend Nord was a somewhat remarkable character; and if
mystery includes romance, he certainly was a very romantic one.
Before seeking an introduction to him through Lemsford, I had
often marked his tall, spare, upright figure stalking like Don
Quixote among the pigmies of the Afterguard, to which he
belonged. At first I found him exceedingly reserved and taciturn;
his saturnine brow wore a scowl; he was almost repelling in his
demeanour. In a word, he seemed desirous of hinting, that his
list of man-of war friends was already made up, complete, and
full; and there was no room for more. But observing that the only
man he ever consorted with was Lemsford, I had too much
magnanimity, by going off in a pique at his coldness, to let him
lose forever the chance of making so capital an acquaintance as
myself. Besides, I saw it in his eye, that the man had been a
reader of good books; I would have staked my life on it, that he
seized the right meaning of Montaigne. I saw that he was an
earnest thinker; I more than suspected that he had been bolted in
the mill of adversity. For all these things, my heart yearned
toward him; I determined to know him.

At last I succeeded; it was during a profoundly quiet midnight
watch, when I perceived him walking alone in the waist, while
most of the men were dozing on the carronade-slides.

That night we scoured all the prairies of reading; dived into the
bosoms of authors, and tore out their hearts; and that night White-
Jacket learned more than he has ever done in any single night since.

The man was a marvel. He amazed me, as much as Coleridge did the
troopers among whom he enlisted. What could have induced such a
man to enter a man-of-war, all my sapience cannot fathom. And how
he managed to preserve his dignity, as he did, among such a
rabble rout was equally a mystery. For he was no sailor; as
ignorant of a ship, indeed, as a man from the sources of the
Niger. Yet the officers respected him; and the men were afraid of
him. This much was observable, however, that he faithfully
discharged whatever special duties devolved upon him; and was so
fortunate as never to render himself liable to a reprimand.
Doubtless, he took the same view of the thing that another of the
crew did; and had early resolved, so to conduct himself as never
to run the risk of the scourge. And this it must have been--added
to whatever incommunicable grief which might have been his--that
made this Nord such a wandering recluse, even among our man-of-
war mob. Nor could he have long swung his hammock on board, ere
he must have found that, to insure his exemption from that thing
which alone affrighted him, he must be content for the most part
to turn a man-hater, and socially expatriate himself from many
things, which might have rendered his situation more tolerable.
Still more, several events that took place must have horrified
him, at times, with the thought that, however he might isolate
and entomb himself, yet for all this, the improbability of his
being overtaken by what he most dreaded never advanced to the
infallibility of the impossible.

In my intercourse with Nord, he never made allusion to his past
career--a subject upon which most high-bred castaways in a man-
of-war are very diffuse; relating their adventures at the gaming-
table; the recklessness with which they have run through the
amplest fortunes in a single season; their alms-givings, and
gratuities to porters and poor relations; and above all, their
youthful indiscretions, and the broken-hearted ladies they have
left behind. No such tales had Nord to tell. Concerning the past,
he was barred and locked up like the specie vaults of the Bank of
England. For anything that dropped from him, none of us could be
sure that he had ever existed till now. Altogether, he was a
remarkable man.

My other friend, Williams, was a thorough-going Yankee from
Maine, who had been both a peddler and a pedagogue in his day. He
had all manner of stories to tell about nice little country
frolics, and would run over an endless list of his sweethearts.
He was honest, acute, witty, full of mirth and good humour--a
laughing philosopher. He was invaluable as a pill against the
spleen; and, with the view of extending the advantages of his
society to the saturnine Nord, I introduced them to each other;
but Nord cut him dead the very same evening, when we sallied out
from between the guns for a walk on the main-deck.



We were not many days out of port, when a rumour was set afloat
that dreadfully alarmed many tars. It was this: that, owing to
some unprecedented oversight in the Purser, or some equally
unprecedented remissness in the Naval-storekeeper at Callao, the
frigate's supply of that delectable beverage, called "grog," was
well-nigh expended.

In the American Navy, the law allows one gill of spirits per day
to every seaman. In two portions, it is served out just previous
to breakfast and dinner. At the roll of the drum, the sailors
assemble round a large tub, or cask, filled with liquid; and, as
their names are called off by a midshipman, they step up and
regale themselves from a little tin measure called a "tot." No
high-liver helping himself to Tokay off a well-polished sideboard,
smacks his lips with more mighty satisfaction than the sailor does
over this _tot_. To many of them, indeed, the thought of their
daily _tots_ forms a perpetual perspective of ravishing landscapes,
indefinitely receding in the distance. It is their great "prospect
in life." Take away their grog, and life possesses no further charms
for them. It is hardly to be doubted, that the controlling inducement
which keeps many men in the Navy, is the unbounded confidence they
have in the ability of the United States government to supply them,
regularly and unfailingly, with their daily allowance of this beverage.
I have known several forlorn individuals, shipping as landsmen, who
have confessed to me, that having contracted a love for ardent spirits,
which they could not renounce, and having by their foolish courses been
brought into the most abject poverty--insomuch that they could no longer
gratify their thirst ashore--they incontinently entered the Navy;
regarding it as the asylum for all drunkards, who might there prolong
their lives by regular hours and exercise, and twice every day quench
their thirst by moderate and undeviating doses.

When I once remonstrated with an old toper of a top-man about
this daily dram-drinking; when I told him it was ruining him, and
advised him to _stop his grog_ and receive the money for it, in
addition to his wages as provided by law, he turned about on me,
with an irresistibly waggish look, and said, "Give up my grog?
And why? Because it is ruining me? No, no; I am a good Christian,
White-Jacket, and love my enemy too much to drop his acquaintance."

It may be readily imagined, therefore, what consternation and
dismay pervaded the gun-deck at the first announcement of the
tidings that the grog was expended.

"The grog gone!" roared an old Sheet-anchor-man.

"Oh! Lord! what a pain in my stomach!" cried a Main-top-man.

"It's worse than the cholera!" cried a man of the After-guard.

"I'd sooner the water-casks would give out!" said a Captain of the Hold.

"Are we ganders and geese, that we can live without grog?" asked a
Corporal of Marines.

"Ay, we must now drink with the ducks!" cried a Quarter-master.

"Not a tot left?" groaned a Waister.

"Not a toothful!" sighed a Holder, from the bottom of his boots.

Yes, the fatal intelligence proved true. The drum was no longer heard
rolling the men to the tub, and deep gloom and dejection fell like a
cloud. The ship was like a great city, when some terrible calamity has
overtaken it. The men stood apart, in groups, discussing their woes,
and mutually condoling. No longer, of still moonlight nights, was the
song heard from the giddy tops; and few and far between were the stories
that were told. It was during this interval, so dismal to many, that to
the amazement of all hands, ten men were reported by the master-at-arms
to be intoxicated. They were brought up to the mast, and at their
appearance the doubts of the most skeptical were dissipated; but whence
they had obtained their liquor no one could tell. It was observed,
however at the time, that the tarry knaves all smelled of lavender,
like so many dandies.

After their examination they were ordered into the "brig," a
jail-house between two guns on the main-deck, where prisoners are
kept. Here they laid for some time, stretched out stark and
stiff, with their arms folded over their breasts, like so many
effigies of the Black Prince on his monument in Canterbury Cathedral.

Their first slumbers over, the marine sentry who stood guard over
them had as much as he could do to keep off the crowd, who were
all eagerness to find out how, in such a time of want, the
prisoners had managed to drink themselves into oblivion. In due
time they were liberated, and the secret simultaneously leaked out.

It seemed that an enterprising man of their number, who had
suffered severely from the common deprivation, had all at once
been struck by a brilliant idea. It had come to his knowledge
that the purser's steward was supplied with a large quantity of
_Eau-de-Cologne_, clandestinely brought out in the ship, for the
purpose of selling it on his own account, to the people of the
coast; but the supply proving larger than the demand, and having
no customers on board the frigate but Lieutenant Selvagee, he was
now carrying home more than a third of his original stock. To
make a short story of it, this functionary, being called upon in
secret, was readily prevailed upon to part with a dozen bottles,
with whose contents the intoxicated party had regaled themselves.

The news spread far and wide among the men, being only kept
secret from the officers and underlings, and that night the long,
crane-necked Cologne bottles jingled in out-of-the-way corners
and by-places, and, being emptied, were sent flying out of the
ports. With brown sugar, taken from the mess-chests, and hot
water begged from the galley-cooks, the men made all manner of
punches, toddies, and cocktails, letting fall therein a small
drop of tar, like a bit of brown toast, by way of imparting a
flavour. Of course, the thing was managed with the utmost
secrecy; and as a whole dark night elapsed after their orgies,
the revellers were, in a good measure, secure from detection; and
those who indulged too freely had twelve long hours to get sober
before daylight obtruded.

Next day, fore and aft, the whole frigate smelled like a lady's
toilet; the very tar-buckets were fragrant; and from the mouth of
many a grim, grizzled old quarter-gunner came the most fragrant
of breaths. The amazed Lieutenants went about snuffing up the
gale; and, for once. Selvagee had no further need to flourish his
perfumed hand-kerchief. It was as if we were sailing by some
odoriferous shore, in the vernal season of violets. Sabaean odours!

                                 "For many a league,
      Cheered with grateful smell, old Ocean smiled."

But, alas! all this perfume could not be wasted for nothing; and
the masters-at-arms and ship's corporals, putting this and that
together, very soon burrowed into the secret. The purser's
steward was called to account, and no more lavender punches and
Cologne toddies were drank on board the Neversink.



It was about the period of the Cologne-water excitement that my
self-conceit was not a little wounded, and my sense of delicacy
altogether shocked, by a polite hint received from the cook of
the mess to which I happened to belong. To understand the matter,
it is needful to enter into preliminaries.

The common seamen in a large frigate are divided into some thirty
or forty messes, put down on the purser's books as _Mess_ No. 1,
_Mess_ No. 2, _Mess_ No. 3, etc. The members of each mess club,
their rations of provisions, and breakfast, dine, and sup
together in allotted intervals between the guns on the main-deck.
In undeviating rotation, the members of each mess (excepting the
petty-officers) take their turn in performing the functions of
cook and steward. And for the time being, all the affairs of the
club are subject to their inspection and control.

It is the cook's business, also, to have an eye to the general
interests of his mess; to see that, when the aggregated
allowances of beef, bread, etc., are served out by one of the
master's mates, the mess over which he presides receives its full
share, without stint or subtraction. Upon the berth-deck he has a
chest, in which to keep his pots, pans, spoons, and small stores
of sugar, molasses, tea, and flour.

But though entitled a cook, strictly speaking, the head of the
mess is no cook at all; for the cooking for the crew is all done
by a high and mighty functionary, officially called the "_ship's
cook_," assisted by several deputies. In our frigate, this
personage was a dignified coloured gentleman, whom the men dubbed
"_Old Coffee;_" and his assistants, negroes also, went by the
poetical appellations of "_Sunshine_," "_Rose-water_," and "_May-

Now the _ship's cooking_ required very little science, though old
Coffee often assured us that he had graduated at the New York
Astor House, under the immediate eye of the celebrated Coleman
and Stetson. All he had to do was, in the first place, to keep
bright and clean the three huge coppers, or caldrons, in which
many hundred pounds of beef were daily boiled. To this end, Rose-
water, Sunshine, and May-day every morning sprang into their
respective apartments, stripped to the waist, and well provided
with bits of soap-stone and sand. By exercising these in a very
vigorous manner, they threw themselves into a violent perspiration,
and put a fine polish upon the interior of the coppers.

Sunshine was the bard of the trio; and while all three would be
busily employed clattering their soap-stones against the metal,
he would exhilarate them with some remarkable St. Domingo
melodies; one of which was the following:

     "Oh! I los' my shoe in an old canoe,
          Johnio! come Winum so!
      Oh! I los' my boot in a pilot-boat,
          Johnio! come Winum so!
      Den rub-a-dub de copper, oh!
      Oh! copper rub-a-dub-a-oh!"

When I listened to these jolly Africans, thus making gleeful
their toil by their cheering songs, I could not help murmuring
against that immemorial rule of men-of-war, which forbids the
sailors to sing out, as in merchant-vessels, when pulling ropes,
or occupied at any other ship's duty. Your only music, at such
times, is the shrill pipe of the boatswain's mate, which is
almost worse than no music at all. And if the boatswain's mate is
not by, you must pull the ropes, like convicts, in profound
silence; or else endeavour to impart unity to the exertions of
all hands, by singing out mechanically, _one_, _two_, _three_,
and then pulling all together.

Now, when Sunshine, Rose-water, and May-day have so polished the
ship's coppers, that a white kid glove might be drawn along the
inside and show no stain, they leap out of their holes, and the
water is poured in for the coffee. And the coffee being boiled,
and decanted off in bucketfuls, the cooks of the messes march up
with their salt beef for dinner, strung upon strings and tallied
with labels; all of which are plunged together into the self-same
coppers, and there boiled. When, upon the beef being fished out
with a huge pitch-fork, the water for the evening's tea is poured
in; which, consequently possesses a flavour not unlike that of

From this it will be seen, that, so far as cooking is concerned,
a "_cook of the mess_" has very little to do; merely carrying his
provisions to and from the grand democratic cookery. Still, in
some things, his office involves many annoyances. Twice a week
butter and cheese are served out--so much to each man--and the
mess-cook has the sole charge of these delicacies. The great
difficulty consists in so catering for the mess, touching these
luxuries, as to satisfy all. Some guzzlers are for devouring the
butter at a meal, and finishing off with the cheese the same day;
others contend for saving it up against _Banyan Day_, when there
is nothing but beef and bread; and others, again, are for taking
a very small bit of butter and cheese, by way of dessert, to each
and every meal through the week. All this gives rise to endless
disputes, debates, and altercations.

Sometimes, with his mess-cloth--a square of painted canvas--set
out on deck between the guns, garnished with pots, and pans, and
_kids_, you see the mess-cook seated on a matchtub at its head,
his trowser legs rolled up and arms bared, presiding over the
convivial party.

"Now, men, you can't have any butter to-day. I'm saving it up for
to-morrow. You don't know the value of butter, men. You, Jim,
take your hoof off the cloth! Devil take me, if some of you chaps
haven't no more manners than so many swines! Quick, men, quick;
bear a hand, and '_scoff_' (eat) away.--I've got my to-morrow's
_duff_ to make yet, and some of you fellows keep _scoffing_ as if
I had nothing to do but sit still here on this here tub here, and
look on. There, there, men, you've all had enough: so sail away
out of this, and let me clear up the wreck."

In this strain would one of the periodical cooks of mess No. 15
talk to us. He was a tall, resolute fellow, who had once been a
brakeman on a railroad, and he kept us all pretty straight; from
his fiat there was no appeal.

But it was not thus when the turn came to others among us. Then
it was _look out for squalls_. The business of dining became a
bore, and digestion was seriously impaired by the unamiable
discourse we had over our _salt horse_.

I sometimes thought that the junks of lean pork--which were
boiled in their own bristles, and looked gaunt and grim, like
pickled chins of half-famished, unwashed Cossacks--had something
to do with creating the bristling bitterness at times prevailing
in our mess. The men tore off the tough hide from their pork, as
if they were Indians scalping Christians.

Some cursed the cook for a rogue, who kept from us our butter and
cheese, in order to make away with it himself in an underhand manner;
selling it at a premium to other messes, and thus accumulating a
princely fortune at our expense. Others anthematised him for his
slovenliness, casting hypercritical glances into their pots and pans,
and scraping them with their knives. Then he would be railed at for
his miserable "duffs," and other shortcoming preparations.

Marking all this from the beginning, I, White-Jacket, was sorely
troubled with the idea, that, in the course of time, my own turn
would come round to undergo the same objurgations. How to escape,
I knew not. However, when the dreaded period arrived, I received
the keys of office (the keys of the mess-chest) with a resigned
temper, and offered up a devout ejaculation for fortitude under
the trial. I resolved, please Heaven, to approve myself an
unexceptionable caterer, and the most impartial of stewards.

The first day there was "_duff_" to make--a business which
devolved upon the mess-cooks, though the boiling of it pertained
to Old Coffee and his deputies. I made up my mind to lay myself
out on that _duff_; to centre all my energies upon it; to put the
very soul of art into it, and achieve an unrivalled _duff_--a
_duff_ that should put out of conceit all other _duffs_, and for
ever make my administration memorable.

From the proper functionary the flour was obtained, and the
raisins; the beef-fat, or "_slush_," from Old Coffee; and the
requisite supply of water from the scuttle-butt. I then went
among the various cooks, to compare their receipts for making
"duffs:" and having well weighed them all, and gathered from each
a choice item to make an original receipt of my own, with due
deliberation and solemnity I proceeded to business. Placing the
component parts in a tin pan, I kneaded them together for an
hour, entirely reckless as to pulmonary considerations, touching
the ruinous expenditure of breath; and having decanted the semi-
liquid dough into a canvas-bag, secured the muzzle, tied on the
tally, and delivered it to Rose-water, who dropped the precious
bag into the coppers, along with a score or two of others.

Eight bells had struck. The boatswain and his mates had piped the
hands to dinner; my mess-cloth was set out, and my messmates were
assembled, knife in hand, all ready to precipitate themselves
upon the devoted _duff_: Waiting at the grand cookery till my
turn came, I received the bag of pudding, and gallanting it into
the mess, proceeded to loosen the string.

It was an anxious, I may say, a fearful moment. My hands trembled;
every eye was upon me; my reputation and credit were at stake.
Slowly I undressed the _duff_, dandling it upon my knee, much as a
nurse does a baby about bed-time. The excitement increased, as I
curled down the bag from the pudding; it became intense, when at last
I plumped it into the pan, held up to receive it by an eager hand.
Bim! it fell like a man shot down in a riot. Distraction! It was
harder than a sinner's heart; yea, tough as the cock that crowed on
the morn that Peter told a lie.

"Gentlemen of the mess, for heaven's sake! permit me one word. I
have done my duty by that duff--I have----"

But they beat down my excuses with a storm of criminations. One
present proposed that the fatal pudding should be tied round my
neck, like a mill-stone, and myself pushed overboard. No use, no
use; I had failed; ever after, that duff lay heavy at my stomach
and my heart.

After this, I grew desperate; despised popularity; returned scorn
for scorn; till at length my week expired, and in the duff-bag I
transferred the keys of office to the next man on the roll.

Somehow, there had never been a very cordial feeling between this
mess and me; all along they had nourished a prejudice against my
white jacket. They must have harbored the silly fancy that in it
I gave myself airs, and wore it in order to look consequential;
perhaps, as a cloak to cover pilferings of tit-bits from the
mess. But to out with the plain truth, they themselves were not a
very irreproachable set. Considering the sequel I am coming to,
this avowal may be deemed sheer malice; but for all that, I cannot
avoid speaking my mind.

After my week of office, the mess gradually changed their
behaviour to me; they cut me to the heart; they became cold and
reserved; seldom or never addressed me at meal-times without
invidious allusions to my _duff_, and also to my jacket, and its
dripping in wet weather upon the mess-cloth. However, I had no
idea that anything serious, on their part, was brewing; but alas!
so it turned out.

We were assembled at supper one evening when I noticed certain
winks and silent hints tipped to the cook, who presided. He was a
little, oily fellow, who had once kept an oyster-cellar ashore;
he bore me a grudge. Looking down on the mess-cloth, he observed
that some fellows never knew when their room was better than
their company. This being a maxim of indiscriminate application,
of course I silently assented to it, as any other reasonable man
would have done. But this remark was followed up by another, to
the effect that, not only did some fellows never know when their
room was better than their company, but they persisted in staying
when their company wasn't wanted; and by so doing disturbed the
serenity of society at large. But this, also, was a general
observation that could not be gainsaid. A long and ominous pause
ensued; during which I perceived every eye upon me, and my white
jacket; while the cook went on to enlarge upon the disagreeableness
of a perpetually damp garment in the mess, especially when that
garment was white. This was coming nearer home.

Yes, they were going to black-ball me; but I resolved to sit it
out a little longer; never dreaming that my moralist would
proceed to extremities, while all hands were present. But
bethinking him that by going this roundabout way he would never
get at his object, he went off on another tack; apprising me, in
substance, that he was instructed by the whole mess, then and
there assembled, to give me warning to seek out another club, as
they did not longer fancy the society either of myself or my jacket.

I was shocked. Such a want of tact and delicacy! Common propriety
suggested that a point-blank intimation of that nature should be
conveyed in a private interview; or, still better, by note. I
immediately rose, tucked my jacket about me, bowed, and departed.

And now, to do myself justice, I must add that, the next day, I
was received with open arms by a glorious set of fellows--Mess
No. 1!--numbering, among the rest, my noble Captain Jack Chase.

This mess was principally composed of the headmost men of the
gun-deck; and, out of a pardonable self-conceit, they called
themselves the "_Forty-two-pounder Club;_" meaning that they
were, one and all, fellows of large intellectual and corporeal
calibre. Their mess-cloth was well located. On their starboard
hand was Mess No. 2, embracing sundry rare jokers and high
livers, who waxed gay and epicurean over their salt fare, and
were known as the "_Society for the Destruction of Beef and
Pork_." On the larboard hand was Mess No. 31, made up entirely of
fore-top-men, a dashing, blaze-away set of men-of-war's-men, who
called themselves the "_Cape Horn Snorters and Neversink
Invincibles_." Opposite, was one of the marine messes, mustering
the aristocracy of the marine corps--the two corporals, the
drummer and fifer, and some six or eight rather gentlemanly
privates, native-born Americans, who had served in the Seminole
campaigns of Florida; and they now enlivened their salt fare with
stories of wild ambushes in the Everglades; and one of them
related a surprising tale of his hand-to-hand encounter with
Osceola, the Indian chief, whom he fought one morning from
daybreak till breakfast time. This slashing private also boasted
that he could take a chip from between your teeth at twenty
paces; he offered to bet any amount on it; and as he could get no
one to hold the chip, his boast remained for ever good.

Besides many other attractions which the _Forty-two-pounder Club_
furnished, it had this one special advantage, that, owing to
there being so many _petty officers_ in it, all the members of
the mess were exempt from doing duty as cooks and stewards. A
fellow called _a steady-cook_, attended to that business during
the entire cruise. He was a long, lank, pallid varlet, going by
the name of Shanks. In very warm weather this Shanks would sit at
the foot of the mess-cloth, fanning himself with the front flap
of his frock or shirt, which he inelegantly wore over his
trousers. Jack Chase, the President of the Club, frequently
remonstrated against this breach of good manners; but the
_steady-cook_ had somehow contracted the habit, and it proved

For a time, Jack Chase, out of a polite nervousness touching
myself, as a newly-elected member of the club, would frequently
endeavour to excuse to me the vulgarity of Shanks. One day he
wound up his remarks by the philosophic reflection--"But. White-
Jacket, my dear fellow, what can you expect of him? Our real
misfortune is, that our noble club should be obliged to dine with
its cook."

There were several of these _steady-cooks_ on board; men of no
mark or consideration whatever in the ship; lost to all noble
promptings; sighing for no worlds to conquer, and perfectly
contented with mixing their _duff's_, and spreading their mess-
cloths, and mustering their pots and pans together three times
every day for a three years' cruise. They were very seldom to be
seen on the spar-deck, but kept below out of sight.



To a quiet, contemplative character, averse to uproar, undue
exercise of his bodily members, and all kind of useless
confusion, nothing can be more distressing than a proceeding in
all men-of-war called "_general quarters_." And well may it be so
called, since it amounts to a general drawing and quartering of
all the parties concerned.

As the specific object for which a man-of-war is built and put into
commission is to fight and fire off cannon, it is, of course, deemed
indispensable that the crew should be duly instructed in the art and
mystery involved. Hence these "general quarters," which is a mustering
of all hands to their stations at the guns on the several decks, and a
sort of sham-fight with an imaginary foe.

The summons is given by the ship's drummer, who strikes a peculiar
beat--short, broken, rolling, shuffling--like the sound made by the
march into battle of iron-heeled grenadiers. It is a regular tune,
with a fine song composed to it; the words of the chorus, being most
artistically arranged, may give some idea of the air:

    "Hearts of oak are our ships, jolly tars are our men,
     We always are ready, steady, boys, steady,
     To fight and to conquer, again and again."

In warm weather this pastime at the guns is exceedingly unpleasant,
to say the least, and throws a quiet man into a violent passion and
perspiration. For one, I ever abominated it.

I have a heart like Julius Caesar, and upon occasions would fight
like Caius Marcius Coriolanus. If my beloved and for ever glorious
country should be ever in jeopardy from invaders, let Congress put
me on a war-horse, in the van-guard, and _then_ see how I will acquit
myself. But to toil and sweat in a fictitious encounter; to squander
the precious breath of my precious body in a ridiculous fight of shams
and pretensions; to hurry about the decks, pretending to carry the
killed and wounded below; to be told that I must consider the ship
blowing up, in order to exercise myself in presence of mind, and
prepare for a real explosion; all this I despise, as beneath a true
tar and man of valour.

These were my sentiments at the time, and these remain my sentiments
still; but as, while on board the frigate, my liberty of thought did
not extend to liberty of expression, I was obliged to keep these
sentiments to myself; though, indeed, I had some thoughts of addressing
a letter, marked _Private and Confidential_, to his Honour the Commodore,
on the subject.

My station at the batteries was at one of the thirty-two-pound
carronades, on the starboard side of the quarter-deck.[1]

[Footnote-1] For the benefit of a Quaker reader here and there, a
word or two in explanation of a carronade may not be amiss. The
carronade is a gun comparatively short and light for its calibre.
A carronade throwing a thirty-two-pound shot weighs considerably
less than a long-gun only throwing a twenty-four-pound shot. It
further differs from a long-gun, in working with a joint and bolt
underneath, instead of the short arms or _trunnions_ at the
sides. Its _carriage_, likewise, is quite different from that of
a long-gun, having a sort of sliding apparatus, something like an
extension dining-table; the goose on it, however, is a tough one,
and villainously stuffed with most indigestible dumplings. Point-
blank, the range of a carronade does not exceed one hundred and
fifty yards, much less than the range of a long-gun. When of
large calibre, however, it throws within that limit, Paixhan
shot, all manner of shells and combustibles, with great effect,
being a very destructive engine at close quarters. This piece is
now very generally found mounted in the batteries of the English
and American navies. The quarter-deck armaments of most modern
frigates wholly consist of carronades. The name is derived from
the village of Carron, in Scotland, at whose celebrated founderies
this iron Attila was first cast.


I did not fancy this station at all; for it is well known on
shipboard that, in time of action, the quarter-deck is one of the
most dangerous posts of a man-of-war. The reason is, that the
officers of the highest rank are there stationed; and the enemy
have an ungentlemanly way of target-shooting at their buttons. If
we should chance to engage a ship, then, who could tell but some
bungling small-arm marks-man in the enemy's tops might put a
bullet through _me_ instead of the Commodore? If they hit _him_,
no doubt he would not feel it much, for he was used to that sort
of thing, and, indeed, had a bullet in him already. Whereas, _I_
was altogether unaccustomed to having blue pills playing round my
head in such an indiscriminate way. Besides, ours was a flag-
ship; and every one knows what a peculiarly dangerous predicament
the quarter-deck of Nelson's flag-ship was in at the battle of
Trafalgar; how the lofty tops of the enemy were full of soldiers,
peppering away at the English Admiral and his officers. Many a
poor sailor, at the guns of that quarter-deck, must have received
a bullet intended for some wearer of an epaulet.

By candidly confessing my feelings on this subject, I do by no
means invalidate my claims to being held a man of prodigious
valour. I merely state my invincible repugnance to being shot for
somebody else. If I am shot, be it with the express understanding
in the shooter that I am the identical person intended so to be
served. That Thracian who, with his compliments, sent an arrow
into the King of Macedon, superscribed "_for Philip's right
eye_," set a fine example to all warriors. The hurried, hasty,
indiscriminate, reckless, abandoned manner in which both sailors
and soldiers nowadays fight is really painful to any serious-
minded, methodical old gentleman, especially if he chance to have
systematized his mind as an accountant. There is little or no
skill and bravery about it. Two parties, armed with lead and old
iron, envelop themselves in a cloud of smoke, and pitch their
lead and old iron about in all directions. If you happen to be in
the way, you are hit; possibly, killed; if not, you escape. In
sea-actions, if by good or bad luck, as the case may be, a round
shot, fired at random through the smoke, happens to send
overboard your fore-mast, another to unship your rudder, there
you lie crippled, pretty much at the mercy of your foe: who,
accordingly, pronounces himself victor, though that honour
properly belongs to the Law of Gravitation operating on the
enemy's balls in the smoke. Instead of tossing this old lead and
iron into the air, therefore, it would be much better amicably to
toss up a copper and let heads win.

The carronade at which I was stationed was known as "Gun No. 5,"
on the First Lieutenant's quarter-bill. Among our gun's crew,
however, it was known as _Black Bet_. This name was bestowed by
the captain of the gun--a fine negro--in honour of his
sweetheart, a coloured lady of Philadelphia. Of Black Bet I was
rammer-and-sponger; and ram and sponge I did, like a good fellow.
I have no doubt that, had I and my gun been at the battle of the
Nile, we would mutually have immortalised ourselves; the ramming-
pole would have been hung up in Westminster Abbey; and I,
ennobled by the king, besides receiving the illustrious honour of
an autograph letter from his majesty through the perfumed right
hand of his private secretary.

But it was terrible work to help run in and out of the porthole
that amazing mass of metal, especially as the thing must be clone
in a trice. Then, at the summons of a horrid, rasping rattle,
swayed by the Captain in person, we were made to rush from our
guns, seize pikes and pistols, and repel an imaginary army of
boarders, who, by a fiction of the officers, were supposed to be
assailing all sides of the ship at once. After cutting and
slashing at them a while, we jumped back to our guns, and again
went to jerking our elbows.

Meantime, a loud cry is heard of "Fire! fire! fire!" in the fore-
top; and a regular engine, worked by a set of Bowery-boy tars, is
forthwith set to playing streams of water aloft. And now it is
"Fire! fire! fire!" on the main-deck; and the entire ship is in
as great a commotion as if a whole city ward were in a blaze.

Are our officers of the Navy utterly unacquainted with the laws
of good health? Do they not know that this violent exercise,
taking place just after a hearty dinner, as it generally does, is
eminently calculated to breed the dyspepsia? There was no
satisfaction in dining; the flavour of every mouthful was
destroyed by the thought that the next moment the cannonading
drum might be beating to quarters.

Such a sea-martinet was our Captain, that sometimes we were
roused from our hammocks at night; when a scene would ensue that
it is not in the power of pen and ink to describe. Five hundred
men spring to their feet, dress themselves, take up their
bedding, and run to the nettings and stow it; then he to their
stations--each man jostling his neighbour--some alow, some aloft;
some this way, some that; and in less than five minutes the
frigate is ready for action, and still as the grave; almost every
man precisely where he would be were an enemy actually about to
be engaged. The Gunner, like a Cornwall miner in a cave, is
burrowing down in the magazine under the Ward-room, which is
lighted by battle-lanterns, placed behind glazed glass bull's-
eyes inserted in the bulkhead. The Powder-monkeys, or boys, who
fetch and carry cartridges, are scampering to and fro among the
guns; and the _first and second loaders_ stand ready to receive
their supplies.

These _Powder-monkeys_, as they are called, enact a curious part
in time of action. The entrance to the magazine on the berth-
deck, where they procure their food for the guns, is guarded by a
woollen screen; and a gunner's mate, standing behind it, thrusts
out the cartridges through a small arm-hole in this screen. The
enemy's shot (perhaps red hot) are flying in all directions; and
to protect their cartridges, the powder-monkeys hurriedly wrap
them up in their jackets; and with all haste scramble up the
ladders to their respective guns, like eating-house waiters
hurrying along with hot cakes for breakfast.

At _general quarters_ the shot-boxes are uncovered; showing the
grape-shot--aptly so called, for they precisely resemble bunches
of the fruit; though, to receive a bunch of iron grapes in the
abdomen would be but a sorry dessert; and also showing the
canister-shot--old iron of various sorts, packed in a tin case,
like a tea-caddy.

Imagine some midnight craft sailing down on her enemy thus;
twenty-four pounders levelled, matches lighted, and each captain
of his gun at his post!

But if verily going into action, then would the Neversink have
made still further preparations; for however alike in some
things, there is always a vast difference--if you sound them--
between a reality and a sham. Not to speak of the pale sternness
of the men at their guns at such a juncture, and the choked
thoughts at their hearts, the ship itself would here and there
present a far different appearance. Something like that of an
extensive mansion preparing for a grand entertainment, when
folding-doors are withdrawn, chambers converted into drawing-
rooms, and every inch of available space thrown into one
continuous whole. For previous to an action, every bulk-head in a
man-of-war is knocked down; great guns are run out of the
Commodore's parlour windows; nothing separates the ward-room
officers' quarters from those of the men, but an en-sign used for
a curtain. The sailors' mess-chests are tumbled down into the
hold; and the hospital cots--of which all men-of-war carry a
large supply--are dragged forth from the sail-room, and piled
near at hand to receive the wounded; amputation-tables are ranged
in the _cock-pit_ or in the _tiers_, whereon to carve the bodies
of the maimed. The yards are slung in chains; fire-screens
distributed here and there: hillocks of cannon-balls piled
between the guns; shot-plugs suspended within easy reach from the
beams; and solid masses of wads, big as Dutch cheeses, braced to
the cheeks of the gun-carriages.

No small difference, also, would be visible in the wardrobe of
both officers and men. The officers generally fight as dandies
dance, namely, in silk stockings; inasmuch as, in case of being
wounded in the leg, the silk-hose can be more easily drawn off by
the Surgeon; cotton sticks, and works into the wound. An
economical captain, while taking care to case his legs in silk,
might yet see fit to save his best suit, and fight in his old
clothes. For, besides that an old garment might much better be
cut to pieces than a new one, it must be a mighty disagreeable
thing to die in a stiff, tight-breasted coat, not yet worked easy
under the arm-pits. At such times, a man should feel free,
unencumbered, and perfectly at his ease in point of straps and
suspenders. No ill-will concerning his tailor should intrude upon
his thoughts of eternity. Seneca understood this, when he chose
to die naked in a bath. And men-of-war's men understand it, also;
for most of them, in battle, strip to the waist-bands; wearing
nothing but a pair of duck trowsers, and a handkerchief round
their head.

A captain combining a heedful patriotism with economy would
probably "bend" his old topsails before going into battle,
instead of exposing his best canvas to be riddled to pieces; for
it is generally the case that the enemy's shot flies high. Unless
allowance is made for it in pointing the tube, at long-gun
distance, the slightest roll of the ship, at the time of firing,
would send a shot, meant for the hull, high over the top-gallant yards.

But besides these differences between a sham-fight at _general
quarters_ and a real cannonading, the aspect of the ship, at the
beating of the retreat, would, in the latter case, be very
dissimilar to the neatness and uniformity in the former.

_Then_ our bulwarks might look like the walls of the houses in
West Broadway in New York, after being broken into and burned out
by the Negro Mob. Our stout masts and yards might be lying about
decks, like tree boughs after a tornado in a piece of woodland;
our dangling ropes, cut and sundered in all directions, would be
bleeding tar at every yard; and strew with jagged splinters from
our wounded planks, the gun-deck might resemble a carpenter's
shop. _Then_, when all was over, and all hands would be piped to
take down the hammocks from the exposed nettings (where they play
the part of the cotton bales at New Orleans), we might find bits
of broken shot, iron bolts and bullets in our blankets. And,
while smeared with blood like butchers, the surgeon and his mates
would be amputating arms and legs on the berth-deck, an underling
of the carpenter's gang would be new-legging and arming the
broken chairs and tables in the Commodore's cabin; while the rest
of his _squad_ would be _splicing_ and _fishing_ the shattered
masts and yards. The scupper-holes having discharged the last
rivulet of blood, the decks would be washed down; and the galley-
cooks would be going fore and aft, sprinkling them with hot
vinegar, to take out the shambles' smell from the planks; which,
unless some such means are employed, often create a highly
offensive effluvia for weeks after a fight.

_Then_, upon mustering the men, and calling the quarter-bills by
the light of a battle-lantern, many a wounded seaman with his arm
in a sling, would answer for some poor shipmate who could never
more make answer for himself:

    "Tom Brown?"

    "Killed, sir."

    "Jack Jewel?"

    "Killed, sir."

    "Joe Hardy?"

    "Killed, sir."

And opposite all these poor fellows' names, down would go on the
quarter-bills the bloody marks of red ink--a murderer's fluid,
fitly used on these occasions.



It was the morning succeeding one of these _general quarters_
that we picked up a life-buoy, descried floating by.

It was a circular mass of cork, about eight inches thick and four
feet in diameter, covered with tarred canvas. All round its
circumference there trailed a number of knotted ropes'-ends,
terminating in fanciful Turks' heads. These were the life-lines,
for the drowning to clutch. Inserted into the middle of the cork
was an upright, carved pole, somewhat shorter than a pike-staff.
The whole buoy was embossed with barnacles, and its sides
festooned with sea-weeds. Dolphins were sporting and flashing
around it, and one white bird was hovering over the top of the
pole. Long ago, this thing must have been thrown over-board to
save some poor wretch, who must have been drowned; while even the
life-buoy itself had drifted away out of sight.

The forecastle-men fished it up from the bows, and the seamen
thronged round it.

"Bad luck! bad luck!" cried the Captain of the Head; "we'll
number one less before long."

The ship's cooper strolled by; he, to whose department it belongs
to see that the ship's life-buoys are kept in good order.

In men-of-war, night and day, week in and week out, two life-
buoys are kept depending from the stern; and two men, with
hatchets in their hands, pace up and down, ready at the first cry
to cut the cord and drop the buoys overboard. Every two hours
they are regularly relieved, like sentinels on guard. No similar
precautions are adopted in the merchant or whaling service.

Thus deeply solicitous to preserve human life are the regulations
of men-of-war; and seldom has there been a better illustration of
this solicitude than at the battle of Trafalgar, when, after
"several thousand" French seamen had been destroyed, according
to Lord Collingwood, and, by the official returns, sixteen
hundred and ninety Englishmen were killed or wounded, the
Captains of the surviving ships ordered the life-buoy sentries
from their death-dealing guns to their vigilant posts, as
officers of the Humane Society.

"There, Bungs!" cried Scrimmage, a sheet-anchor-man,[2] "there's
a good pattern for you; make us a brace of life-buoys like that;
something that will save a man, and not fill and sink under him,
as those leaky quarter-casks of yours will the first time there's
occasion to drop 'ern. I came near pitching off the bowsprit the
other day; and, when I scrambled inboard again, I went aft to get
a squint at 'em. Why, Bungs, they are all open between the
staves. Shame on you! Suppose you yourself should fall over-
board, and find yourself going down with buoys under you of your
own making--what then?"

[FOOTNOTE-2] In addition to the _Bower-anchors_ carried on her
bows, a frigate carries large anchors in her fore-chains, called
_Sheet-anchors_. Hence, the old seamen stationed in that part of
a man-of-war are called _sheet-anchor-man_.

"I never go aloft, and don't intend to fall overboard," replied Bungs.

"Don't believe it!" cried the sheet-anchor-man; "you lopers that live
about the decks here are nearer the bottom of the sea than the light
hand that looses the main-royal. Mind your eye, Bungs--mind your eye!"

"I will," retorted Bungs; "and you mind yours!"

Next day, just at dawn, I was startled from my hammock by the cry
of "_All hands about ship and shorten sail_!" Springing up the
ladders, I found that an unknown man had fallen overboard from
the chains; and darting a glance toward the poop, perceived, from
their gestures, that the life-sentries there had cut away the buoys.

It was blowing a fresh breeze; the frigate was going fast through
the water. But the one thousand arms of five hundred men soon
tossed her about on the other tack, and checked her further headway.

"Do you see him?" shouted the officer of the watch through his trumpet,
hailing the main-mast-head. "Man or _buoy_, do you see either?"

"See nothing, sir," was the reply.

"Clear away the cutters!" was the next order. "Bugler! call away
the second, third, and fourth cutters' crews. Hands by the tackles!"

In less than three minutes the three boats were down; More hands
were wanted in one of them, and, among others, I jumped in to
make up the deficiency.

"Now, men, give way! and each man look out along his oar, and
look sharp!" cried the officer of our boat. For a time, in
perfect silence, we slid up and down the great seething swells of
the sea, but saw nothing.

"There, it's no use," cried the officer; "he's gone, whoever he
is. Pull away, men--pull away! they'll be recalling us soon."

"Let him drown!" cried the strokesman; "he's spoiled my watch
below for me."

"Who the devil is he?" cried another.

"He's one who'll never have a coffin!" replied a third.

"No, no! they'll never sing out, '_All hands bury the dead!_' for
him, my hearties!" cried a fourth.

"Silence," said the officer, "and look along your oars." But the
sixteen oarsmen still continued their talk; and, after pulling
about for two or three hours, we spied the recall-signal at the
frigate's fore-t'-gallant-mast-head, and returned on board,
having seen no sign even of the life-buoys.

The boats were hoisted up, the yards braced forward, and away we
bowled--one man less.

"Muster all hands!" was now the order; when, upon calling the
roll, the cooper was the only man missing.

"I told you so, men," cried the Captain of the Head; "I said we
would lose a man before long."

"Bungs, is it?" cried Scrimmage, the sheet-anchor-man; "I told him
his buoys wouldn't save a drowning man; and now he has proved it!"



It was necessary to supply the lost cooper's place; accordingly,
word was passed for all who belonged to that calling to muster
at the main-mast, in order that one of them might be selected.
Thirteen men obeyed the summons--a circumstance illustrative of
the fact that many good handicrafts-men are lost to their trades
and the world by serving in men-of-war. Indeed, from a frigate's
crew might he culled out men of all callings and vocations, from
a backslidden parson to a broken-down comedian. The Navy is the
asylum for the perverse, the home of the unfortunate. Here the
sons of adversity meet the children of calamity, and here the
children of calamity meet the offspring of sin. Bankrupt brokers,
boot-blacks, blacklegs, and blacksmiths here assemble together;
and cast-away tinkers, watch-makers, quill-drivers, cobblers,
doctors, farmers, and lawyers compare past experiences and talk
of old times. Wrecked on a desert shore, a man-of-war's crew
could quickly found an Alexandria by themselves, and fill it with
all the things which go to make up a capital.

Frequently, at one and the same time, you see every trade in
operation on the gun-deck--coopering, carpentering, tailoring,
tinkering, blacksmithing, rope-making, preaching, gambling, and

In truth, a man-of-war is a city afloat, with long avenues set
out with guns instead of trees, and numerous shady lanes, courts,
and by-ways. The quarter-deck is a grand square, park, or parade
ground, with a great Pittsfield elm, in the shape of the main-
mast, at one end, and fronted at the other by the palace of the
Commodore's cabin.

Or, rather, a man-of-war is a lofty, walled, and garrisoned town,
like Quebec, where the thoroughfares and mostly ramparts, and
peaceable citizens meet armed sentries at every corner.

Or it is like the lodging-houses in Paris, turned upside down;
the first floor, or deck, being rented by a lord; the second, by
a select club of gentlemen; the third, by crowds of artisans; and
the fourth, by a whole rabble of common people.

For even thus is it in a frigate, where the commander has a whole
cabin to himself and the spar-deck, the lieutenants their ward-
room underneath, and the mass of sailors swing their hammocks
under all.

And with its long rows of port-hole casements, each revealing the
muzzle of a cannon, a man-of-war resembles a three-story house in
a suspicions part of the town, with a basement of indefinite
depth, and ugly-looking fellows gazing out at the windows.



Again must I call attention to my white jacket, which, about this
time came near being the death of me.

I am of a meditative humour, and at sea used often to mount aloft
at night, and seating myself on one of the upper yards, tuck my
jacket about me and give loose to reflection. In some ships in
which. I have done this, the sailors used to fancy that I must be
studying astronomy--which, indeed, to some extent, was the case--
and that my object in mounting aloft was to get a nearer view of
the stars, supposing me, of course, to be short-sighted. A very
silly conceit of theirs, some may say, but not so silly after
all; for surely the advantage of getting nearer an object by two
hundred feet is not to be underrated. Then, to study the stars
upon the wide, boundless sea, is divine as it was to the Chaldean
Magi, who observed their revolutions from the plains.

And it is a very fine feeling, and one that fuses us into the
universe of things, and mates us a part of the All, to think
that, wherever we ocean-wanderers rove, we have still the same
glorious old stars to keep us company; that they still shine
onward and on, forever beautiful and bright, and luring us, by
every ray, to die and be glorified with them.

Ay, ay! we sailors sail not in vain, We expatriate ourselves to
nationalise with the universe; and in all our voyages round the
world, we are still accompanied by those old circumnavigators,
the stars, who are shipmates and fellow-sailors of ours--sailing
in heaven's blue, as we on the azure main. Let genteel generations
scoff at our hardened hands, and finger-nails tipped with tar--did
they ever clasp truer palms than ours? Let them feel of our sturdy
hearts beating like sledge-hammers in those hot smithies, our bosoms;
with their amber-headed canes, let them feel of our generous pulses,
and swear that they go off like thirty-two-pounders.

Oh, give me again the rover's life--the joy, the thrill, the
whirl! Let me feel thee again, old sea! let me leap into thy
saddle once more. I am sick of these terra firma toils and cares;
sick of the dust and reek of towns. Let me hear the clatter of
hailstones on icebergs, and not the dull tramp of these plodders,
plodding their dull way from their cradles to their graves. Let
me snuff thee up, sea-breeze! and whinny in thy spray. Forbid it,
sea-gods! intercede for me with Neptune, O sweet Amphitrite, that
no dull clod may fall on my coffin! Be mine the tomb that
swallowed up Pharaoh and all his hosts; let me lie down with
Drake, where he sleeps in the sea.

But when White-Jacket speaks of the rover's life, he means not
life in a man-of-war, which, with its martial formalities and
thousand vices, stabs to the heart the soul of all free-and-easy
honourable rovers.

I have said that I was wont to mount up aloft and muse; and thus
was it with me the night following the loss of the cooper. Ere my
watch in the top had expired, high up on the main-royal-yard I
reclined, the white jacket folded around me like Sir John Moore
in his frosted cloak.

Eight bells had struck, and my watchmates had hied to their
hammocks, and the other watch had gone to their stations, and the
_top_ below me was full of strangers, and still one hundred feet
above even _them_ I lay entranced; now dozing, now dreaming; now
thinking of things past, and anon of the life to come. Well-timed
was the latter thought, for the life to come was much nearer
overtaking me than I then could imagine. Perhaps I was half
conscious at last of a tremulous voice hailing the main-royal-
yard from the _top_. But if so, the consciousness glided away
from me, and left me in Lethe. But when, like lightning, the yard
dropped under me, and instinctively I clung with both hands to
the "_tie_," then I came to myself with a rush, and felt
something like a choking hand at my throat. For an instant I
thought the Gulf Stream in my head was whirling me away to
eternity; but the next moment I found myself standing; the yard
had descended to the _cup_; and shaking myself in my jacket, I
felt that I was unharmed and alive.

Who had done this? who had made this attempt on my life? thought
I, as I ran down the rigging.

"Here it comes!--Lord! Lord! here it comes! See, see! it is white
as a hammock."

"Who's coming?" I shouted, springing down into the top; "who's
white as a hammock?"

"Bless my soul, Bill it's only White-Jacket--that infernal White-
Jacket again!"

It seems they had spied a moving white spot there aloft, and,
sailor-like, had taken me for the ghost of the cooper; and after
hailing me, and bidding me descend, to test my corporeality, and
getting no answer, they had lowered the halyards in affright.

In a rage I tore off the jacket, and threw it on the deck.

"Jacket," cried I, "you must change your complexion! you must hie
to the dyers and be dyed, that I may live. I have but one poor
life, White-Jacket, and that life I cannot spare. I cannot
consent to die for _you_, but be dyed you must for me. You can
dye many times without injury; but I cannot die without
irreparable loss, and running the eternal risk."

So in the morning, jacket in hand, I repaired to the First
Lieutenant, and related the narrow escape I had had during the
night. I enlarged upon the general perils I ran in being taken
for a ghost, and earnestly besought him to relax his commands for
once, and give me an order on Brush, the captain of the paint-
room, for some black paint, that my jacket might be painted of
that colour.

"Just look at it, sir," I added, holding it lip; "did you ever see
anything whiter? Consider how it shines of a night, like a bit of
the Milky Way. A little paint, sir, you cannot refuse."

"The ship has no paint to spare," he said; "you must get along
without it."

"Sir, every rain gives me a soaking; Cape Horn is at hand--six
brushes-full would make it waterproof; and no longer would I be
in peril of my life!"

"Can't help it, sir; depart!"

I fear it will not be well with me in the end; for if my own sins
are to be forgiven only as I forgive that hard-hearted and
unimpressible First Lieutenant, then pardon there is none for me.

What! when but one dab of paint would make a man of a ghost, and
it Mackintosh of a herring-net--to refuse it I am full. I can say
no more.



No more of my luckless jacket for a while; let me speak of my
hammock, and the tribulations I endured therefrom.

Give me plenty of room to swing it in; let me swing it between
two date-trees on an Arabian plain; or extend it diagonally from
Moorish pillar to pillar, in the open marble Court of the Lions
in Granada's Alhambra: let me swing it on a high bluff of the
Mississippi--one swing in the pure ether for every swing over the
green grass; or let me oscillate in it beneath the cool dome of
St. Peter's; or drop me in it, as in a balloon, from the zenith,
with the whole firmament to rock and expatiate in; and I would
not exchange my coarse canvas hammock for the grand state-bed,
like a stately coach-and-four, in which they tuck in a king when
he passes a night at Blenheim Castle.

When you have the requisite room, you always have "spreaders" in
your hammock; that is, two horizontal sticks, one at each end,
which serve to keep the sides apart, and create a wide vacancy
between, wherein you can turn over and over--lay on this side or
that; on your back, if you please; stretch out your legs; in short,
take your ease in your hammock; for of all inns, your bed is the best.

But when, with five hundred other hammocks, yours is crowded and
jammed on all sides, on a frigate berth-deck; the third from
above, when "_spreaders_" are prohibited by an express edict from
the Captain's cabin; and every man about you is jealously
watchful of the rights and privileges of his own proper hammock,
as settled by law and usage; _then_ your hammock is your Bastile
and canvas jug; into which, or out of which, it is very hard to
get; and where sleep is but a mockery and a name.

Eighteen inches a man is all they allow you; eighteen inches in
width; in _that_ you must swing. Dreadful! they give you more
swing than that at the gallows.

During warm nights in the Tropics, your hammock is as a stew-pan;
where you stew and stew, till you can almost hear yourself hiss.
Vain are all stratagems to widen your accommodations. Let them
catch you insinuating your boots or other articles in the head of
your hammock, by way of a "spreader." Near and far, the whole
rank and file of the row to which you belong feel the encroachment
in an instant, and are clamorous till the guilty one is found out,
and his pallet brought back to its bearings.

In platoons and squadrons, they all lie on a level; their hammock
_clews_ crossing and recrossing in all directions, so as to present
one vast field-bed, midway between the ceiling and the floor; which
are about five feet asunder.

One extremely warm night, during a calm, when it was so hot that
only a skeleton could keep cool (from the free current of air
through its bones), after being drenched in my own perspiration,
I managed to wedge myself out of my hammock; and with what little
strength I had left, lowered myself gently to the deck. Let me
see now, thought I, whether my ingenuity cannot devise some
method whereby I can have room to breathe and sleep at the same
time. I have it. I will lower my hammock underneath all these
others; and then--upon that separate and independent level, at
least--I shall have the whole berth-deck to myself. Accordingly,
I lowered away my pallet to the desired point--about three inches
from the floor--and crawled into it again.

But, alas! this arrangement made such a sweeping semi-circle of
my hammock, that, while my head and feet were at par, the small
of my back was settling down indefinitely; I felt as if some
gigantic archer had hold of me for a bow.

But there was another plan left. I triced up my hammock with all
my strength, so as to bring it wholly _above_ the tiers of
pallets around me. This done, by a last effort, I hoisted myself
into it; but, alas! it was much worse than before. My luckless
hammock was stiff and straight as a board; and there I was--laid
out in it, with my nose against the ceiling, like a dead man's
against the lid of his coffin.

So at last I was fain to return to my old level, and moralise
upon the folly, in all arbitrary governments, of striving to get
either _below_ or _above_ those whom legislation has placed upon
an equality with yourself.

Speaking of hammocks, recalls a circumstance that happened one
night in the Neversink. It was three or four times repeated, with
various but not fatal results.

The watch below was fast asleep on the berth-deck, where perfect
silence was reigning, when a sudden shock and a groan roused up
all hands; and the hem of a pair of white trowsers vanished up
one of the ladders at the fore-hatchway.

We ran toward the groan, and found a man lying on the deck; one end of
his hammock having given way, pitching his head close to three twenty-
four pound cannon shot, which must have been purposely placed in that
position. When it was discovered that this man had long been suspected
of being an _informer_ among the crew, little surprise and less
pleasure were evinced at his narrow escape.



I cannot quit this matter of the hammocks without making mention
of a grievance among the sailors that ought to be redressed.

In a man-of-war at sea, the sailors have _watch and watch;_ that
is, through every twenty-four hours, they are on and off duty
every four hours. Now, the hammocks are piped down from the
nettings (the open space for stowing them, running round the top
of the bulwarks) a little after sunset, and piped up again when
the forenoon watch is called, at eight o'clock in the morning; so
that during the daytime they are inaccessible as pallets. This
would be all well enough, did the sailors have a complete night's
rest; but every other night at sea, one watch have only four
hours in their hammocks. Indeed, deducting the time allowed for
the other watch to turn out; for yourself to arrange your
hammock, get into it, and fairly get asleep; it maybe said that,
every other night, you have but three hours' sleep in your
hammock. Having then been on deck for twice four hours, at eight
o'clock in the morning your _watch-below_ comes round, and you
are not liable to duty until noon. Under like circumstances, a
merchant seaman goes to his _bunk_, and has the benefit of a good
long sleep. But in a man-of-war you can do no such thing; your
hammock is very neatly stowed in the nettings, and there it must
remain till nightfall.

But perhaps there is a corner for you somewhere along the batteries
on the gun-deck, where you may enjoy a snug nap. But as no one is
allowed to recline on the larboard side of the gun-deck (which is
reserved as a corridor for the officers when they go forward to
their smoking-room at the _bridle-port_), the starboard side only is
left to the seaman. But most of this side, also, is occupied by the
carpenters, sail-makers, barbers, and coopers. In short, so few are
the corners where you can snatch a nap during daytime in a frigate,
that not one in ten of the watch, who have been on deck eight hours,
can get a wink of sleep till the following night. Repeatedly, after
by good fortune securing a corner, I have been roused from it by some
functionary commissioned to keep it clear.

Off Cape Horn, what before had been very uncomfortable became a serious
hardship. Drenched through and through by the spray of the sea at night.
I have sometimes slept standing on the spar-deck--and shuddered as I
slept--for the want of sufficient sleep in my hammock.

During three days of the stormiest weather, we were given the privilege
of the _berth-deck_ (at other times strictly interdicted), where we were
permitted to spread our jackets, and take a nap in the morning after the
eight hours' night exposure. But this privilege was but a beggarly one,
indeed. Not to speak of our jackets--used for blankets--being soaking
wet, the spray, coming down the hatchways, kept the planks of the
berth-deck itself constantly wet; whereas, had we been permitted our
hammocks, we might have swung dry over all this deluge. But we
endeavoured to make ourselves as warm and comfortable as possible,
chiefly by close stowing, so as to generate a little steam, in the
absence of any fire-side warmth. You have seen, perhaps, the way in
which they box up subjects intended to illustrate the winter lectures
of a professor of surgery. Just so we laid; heel and point, face to
back, dove-tailed into each other at every ham and knee. The wet of our
jackets, thus densely packed, would soon begin to distill. But it was
like pouring hot water on you to keep you from freezing. It was like
being "packed" between the soaked sheets in a Water-cure Establishment.

Such a posture could not be preserved for any considerable period
without shifting side for side. Three or four times during the
four hours I would be startled from a wet doze by the hoarse cry
of a fellow who did the duty of a corporal at the after-end of my
file. "_Sleepers ahoy! stand by to slew round!_" and, with a
double shuffle, we all rolled in concert, and found ourselves
facing the taffrail instead of the bowsprit. But, however you
turned, your nose was sure to stick to one or other of the
steaming backs on your two flanks. There was some little relief
in the change of odour consequent upon this.

But what is the reason that, after battling out eight stormy hours
on deck at, night, men-of-war's-men are not allowed the poor boon
of a dry four hours' nap during the day following? What is the
reason? The Commodore, Captain, and first Lieutenant, Chaplain,
Purser, and scores of others, have _all night in_, just as if they
were staying at a hotel on shore. And the junior Lieutenants not only
have their cots to go to at any time: but as only one of them is
required to head the watch, and there are so many of them among
whom to divide that duty, they are only on deck four hours to twelve
hours below. In some eases the proportion is still greater. Whereas,
with _the people_ it is four hours in and four hours off continually.

What is the reason, then, that the common seamen should fare so
hard in this matter? It would seem but a simple thing to let them
get down their hammocks during the day for a nap. But no; such a
proceeding would mar the uniformity of daily events in a man-of-
war. It seems indispensable to the picturesque effect of the
spar-deck, that the hammocks should invariably remain stowed in
the nettings between sunrise and sundown. But the chief reason is
this--a reason which has sanctioned many an abuse in this world--
_precedents are against it;_ such a thing as sailors sleeping in
their hammocks in the daytime, after being eight hours exposed to
a night-storm, was hardly ever heard of in the navy. Though, to
the immortal honour of some captains be it said, the fact is upon
navy record, that off Cape Horn, they _have_ vouchsafed the
morning hammocks to their crew. Heaven bless such tender-hearted
officers; and may they and their descendants--ashore or afloat--
have sweet and pleasant slumbers while they live, and an
undreaming siesta when they die.

It is concerning such things as the subject of this chapter that
special enactments of Congress are demanded. Health and comfort--
so far as duly attainable under the circumstances--should be
legally guaranteed to the man-of-war's-men; and not left to the
discretion or caprice of their commanders.



Besides the other tribulations connected with your hammock, you
must keep it snow-white and clean; who has not observed the long
rows of spotless hammocks exposed in a frigate's nettings, where,
through the day, their outsides, at least, are kept airing?

Hence it comes that there are regular mornings appointed for the
scrubbing of hammocks; and such mornings are called _scrub-
hammock-mornings;_ and desperate is the scrubbing that ensues.

Before daylight the operation begins. All hands are called, and
at it they go. Every deck is spread with hammocks, fore and aft;
and lucky are you if you can get sufficient superfices to spread
your own hammock in. Down on their knees are five hundred men,
scrubbing away with brushes and brooms; jostling, and crowding,
and quarrelling about using each other's suds; when all their
Purser's soap goes to create one indiscriminate yeast.

Sometimes you discover that, in the dark, you have been all the
while scrubbing your next neighbour's hammock instead of your own.
But it is too late to begin over again; for now the word is passed
for every man to advance with his hammock, that it may he tied to
a net-like frame-work of clothes-lines, and hoisted aloft to dry.

That done, without delay you get together your frocks and trowsers,
and on the already flooded deck embark in the laundry business.
You have no special bucket or basin to yourself--the ship being one
vast wash-tub, where all hands wash and rinse out, and rinse out and
wash, till at last the word is passed again, to make fast your clothes,
that they, also, may be elevated to dry.

Then on all three decks the operation of holy-stoning begins, so
called from the queer name bestowed upon the principal instruments
employed. These are ponderous flat stones with long ropes at each end,
by which the stones are slidden about, to and fro, over the wet and
sanded decks; a most wearisome, dog-like, galley-slave employment.
For the byways and corners about the masts and guns, smaller stones
are used, called _prayer-books;_ inasmuch as the devout operator has
to down with them on his knees.

Finally, a grand flooding takes place, and the decks are remorselessly
thrashed with dry swabs. After which an extraordinary implement--a sort
of leathern hoe called a"_squilgee_"--is used to scrape and squeeze the
last dribblings of water from the planks. Concerning this "squilgee," I
think something of drawing up a memoir, and reading it before the
Academy of Arts and Sciences. It is a most curious affair.

By the time all these operations are concluded it is _eight bell's_,
and all hands are piped to breakfast upon the damp and every-way
disagreeable decks.

Now, against this invariable daily flooding of the three decks of a
frigate, as a man-of-war's-man, White-Jacket most earnestly protests.
In sunless weather it keeps the sailors' quarters perpetually damp;
so much so, that you can scarce sit down without running the risk of
getting the lumbago. One rheumatic old sheet-anchor-man among us was
driven to the extremity of sewing a piece of tarred canvas on the seat
of his trowsers.

Let those neat and tidy officers who so love to see a ship kept spick
and span clean; who institute vigorous search after the man who chances
to drop the crumb of a biscuit on deck, when the ship is rolling in a
sea-way; let all such swing their hammocks with the sailors; and they
would soon get sick of this daily damping of the decks.

Is a ship a wooden platter, that is to be scrubbed out every morning
before breakfast, even if the thermometer be at zero, and every sailor
goes barefooted through the flood with the chilblains? And all the
while the ship carries a doctor, well aware of Boerhaave's great maxim
"_keep the feet dry_." He has plenty of pills to give you when you are
down with a fever, the consequence of these things; but enters no
protest at the outset--as it is his duty to do--against the cause that
induces the fever.

During the pleasant night watches, the promenading officers, mounted on
their high-heeled boots, pass dry-shod, like the Israelites, over the
decks; but by daybreak the roaring tide sets back, and the poor sailors
are almost overwhelmed in it, like the Egyptians in the Red Sea.

Oh! the chills, colds, and agues that are caught. No snug stove,
grate, or fireplace to go to; no, your only way to keep warm is
to keep in a blazing passion, and anathematise the custom that
every morning makes a wash-house of a man-of-war.

Look at it. Say you go on board a line-of-battle-ship: you see
everything scrupulously neat; you see all the decks clear and
unobstructed as the sidewalks of Wall Street of a Sunday morning; you
see no trace of a sailor's dormitory; you marvel by what magic all
this is brought about. And well you may. For consider, that in this
unobstructed fabric nearly one thousand mortal men have to sleep,
eat, wash, dress, cook, and perform all the ordinary functions of
humanity. The same number of men ashore would expand themselves into a
township. Is it credible, then, that this extraordinary neatness, and
especially this _unobstructedness_ of a man-of-war, can be brought
about, except by the most rigorous edicts, and a very serious sacrifice,
with respect to the sailors, of the domestic comforts of life? To be
sure, sailors themselves do not often complain of these things; they
are used to them; but man can become used even to the hardest usage.
And it is because he is used to it, that sometimes he does not complain
of it.

Of all men-of-war, the American ships are the most excessively neat,
and have the greatest reputation for it. And of all men-of-war the
general discipline of the American ships is the most arbitrary.

In the English. navy, the men liberally mess on tables, which,
between meals, are triced up out of the way. The American sailors
mess on deck, and pick up their broken biscuit, or _midshipman's
nuts_, like fowls in a barn-yard.

But if this unobstructedness in an American fighting-ship be, at
all hazards, so desirable, why not imitate the Turks? In the
Turkish navy they have no mess-chests; the sailors roll their
mess things up in a rug, and thrust them under a gun. Nor do they
have any hammocks; they sleep anywhere about the decks in their
_gregoes_. Indeed, come to look at it, what more does a man-of-
war's-man absolutely require to live in than his own skin? That's
room enough; and room enough to turn in, if he but knew how to
shift his spine, end for end, like a ramrod, without disturbing
his next neighbour.

Among all men-of-war's-men, it is a maxim that over-neat vessels are
Tartars to the crew: and perhaps it may be safely laid down that,
when you see such a ship, some sort of tyranny is not very far off.

In the Neversink, as in other national ships, the business of
_holy-stoning_ the decks was often prolonged, by way of punishment
to the men, particularly of a raw, cold morning. This is one of the
punishments which a lieutenant of the watch may easily inflict upon
the crew, without infringing the statute which places the power of
punishment solely in the hands of the Captain.

The abhorrence which men-of-war's-men have for this protracted
_holy-stoning_ in cold, comfortless weather--with their bare feet
exposed to the splashing inundations--is shown in a strange
story, rife among them, curiously tinctured with their proverbial

The First Lieutenant of an English sloop of war, a severe
disciplinarian, was uncommonly particular concerning the
whiteness of the quarter-deck. One bitter winter morning at sea,
when the crew had washed that part of the vessel, as usual, and
put away their holy-stones, this officer came on deck, and after
inspecting it, ordered the _holy-stones_ and _prayer-books_ up
again. Once more slipping off the shoes from their frosted feet,
and rolling up their trowsers, the crew kneeled down to their
task; and in that suppliant posture, silently invoked a curse
upon their tyrant; praying, as he went below, that he might never
more come out of the ward-room alive. The prayer seemed answered:
for shortly after being visited with a paralytic stroke at his
breakfast-table, the First Lieutenant next morning was carried
out of the ward-room feet foremost, dead. As they dropped him
over the side--so goes the story--the marine sentry at the
gangway turned his back upon the corpse.

To the credit of the humane and sensible portion of the roll of
American navy-captains, be it added, that _they_ are not so
particular in keeping the decks spotless at all times, and in all
weathers; nor do they torment the men with scraping bright-wood
and polishing ring-bolts; but give all such gingerbread-work a
hearty coat of black paint, which looks more warlike, is a better
preservative, and exempts the sailors from a perpetual annoyance.



The Neversink had summered out her last Christmas on the Equator;
she was now destined to winter out the Fourth of July not very
far from the frigid latitudes of Cape Horn.

It is sometimes the custom in the American Navy to celebrate this
national holiday by doubling the allowance of spirits to the men;
that is, if the ship happen to be lying in harbour. The effects
of this patriotic plan may be easily imagined: the whole ship is
converted into a dram-shop; and the intoxicated sailors reel
about, on all three decks, singing, howling, and fighting. This
is the time that, owing to the relaxed discipline of the ship,
old and almost forgotten quarrels are revived, under the stimulus
of drink; and, fencing themselves up between the guns--so as to
be sure of a clear space with at least three walls--the
combatants, two and two, fight out their hate, cribbed and
cabined like soldiers duelling in a sentry-box. In a word, scenes
ensue which would not for a single instant be tolerated by the
officers upon any other occasion. This is the time that the most
venerable of quarter-gunners and quarter-masters, together with
the, smallest apprentice boys, and men never known to have been
previously intoxicated during the cruise--this is the time that
they all roll together in the same muddy trough of drunkenness.

In emulation of the potentates of the Middle Ages, some Captains
augment the din by authorising a grand jail-delivery of all the
prisoners who, on that auspicious Fourth of the month, may happen
to be confined in the ship's prison--"_the brig_."

But from scenes like these the Neversink was happily delivered.
Besides that she was now approaching a most perilous part of the
ocean--which would have made it madness to intoxicate the
sailors--her complete destitution of _grog_, even for ordinary
consumption, was an obstacle altogether insuperable, even had the
Captain felt disposed to indulge his man-of-war's-men by the most
copious libations.

For several days previous to the advent of the holiday, frequent
conferences were held on the gun-deck touching the melancholy
prospects before the ship.

"Too bad--too bad!" cried a top-man, "Think of it, shipmates--a
Fourth of July without grog!"

"I'll hoist the Commodore's pennant at half-mast that day,"
sighed the signal-quarter-master.

"And I'll turn my best uniform jacket wrong side out, to keep
company with the pennant, old Ensign," sympathetically responded
an after-guard's-man.

"Ay, do!" cried a forecastle-man. "I could almost pipe my eye to
think on't."

"No grog on de day dat tried men's souls!" blubbered Sunshine,
the galley-cook.

"Who would be a _Jankee_ now?" roared a Hollander of the fore-
top, more Dutch than sour-crout.

"Is this the _riglar_ fruits of liberty?" touchingly inquired an
Irish waister of an old Spanish sheet-anchor-man.

You will generally observe that, of all Americans, your foreign-
born citizens are the most patriotic--especially toward the
Fourth of July.

But how could Captain Claret, the father of his crew, behold the
grief of his ocean children with indifference? He could not.
Three days before the anniversary--it still continuing very
pleasant weather for these latitudes--it was publicly announced
that free permission was given to the sailors to get up any sort
of theatricals they desired, wherewith to honour the Fourth.

Now, some weeks prior to the Neversink's sailing from home--
nearly three years before the time here spoken of--some of the
seamen had clubbed together, and made up a considerable purse,
for the purpose of purchasing a theatrical outfit having in view
to diversify the monotony of lying in foreign harbours for weeks
together, by an occasional display on the boards--though if ever
there w-as a continual theatre in the world, playing by night and
by day, and without intervals between the acts, a man-of-war is
that theatre, and her planks are the _boards_ indeed.

The sailors who originated this scheme had served in other
American frigates, where the privilege of having theatricals was
allowed to the crew. What was their chagrin, then, when, upon
making an application to the Captain, in a Peruvian harbour, for
permission to present the much-admired drama of "_The Ruffian
Boy_," under the Captain's personal patronage, that dignitary
assured them that there were already enough _ruffian boys_ on
board, without conjuring up any more from the green-room.

The theatrical outfit, therefore, was stowed down in the bottom
of the sailors' bags, who little anticipated _then_ that it would
ever be dragged out while Captain Claret had the sway.

But immediately upon the announcement that the embargo was removed,
vigorous preparations were at once commenced to celebrate the
Fourth with unwonted spirit. The half-deck was set apart for the
theatre, and the signal-quarter-master was commanded to loan his
flags to decorate it in the most patriotic style.

As the stage-struck portion of the crew had frequently during the
cruise rehearsed portions of various plays, to while away the
tedium of the night-watches, they needed no long time now to
perfect themselves in their parts.

Accordingly, on the very next morning after the indulgence had
been granted by the Captain, the following written placard,
presenting a broadside of staring capitals, was found tacked
against the main-mast on the gun-deck. It was as if a Drury-Lane
bill had been posted upon the London Monument.

                   CAPE HORN THEATRE.
             *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *
      _Grand Celebration of the Fourth of July_.
                  DAY PERFORMANCE.
                 UNCOMMON ATTRACTION.
               THE OLD WAGON PAID OFF!
         JACK CHASE.  .  .  . PERCY ROYAL-MAST.
                 _For this time only_.
                THE TRUE YANKEE SAILOR.
   The managers of the Cape Horn Theatre beg leave to inform
   the inhabitants of the Pacific and Southern Oceans that,
   on the afternoon of the Fourth of July, 184--, they will
   have the honour to present the admired drama of

                 THE OLD WAGON PAID OFF!
   Commodore Bougee  .  .  .  . _Tom Brown, of the Fore-top_.
   Captain Spy-glass .  .  .  . _Ned Brace, of the After-Guard_.
   Commodore's Cockswain.  .  . _Joe Bunk, of the Launch_.
   Old Luff .  .  .  .  .  .  . _Quarter-master Coffin._
   Mayor .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . _Seafull, of the Forecastle_.
   Mrs. Lovelorn  .  .  .  .  . _Long-locks, of the After-Guard_.
   Toddy Moll  .  .  .  .  .  . _Frank Jones_.
   Gin and Sugar Sall.  .  .  . _Dick Dash_.

   Sailors, Mariners, Bar-keepers, Crimps, Aldermen,
   Police-officer's, Soldiers, Landsmen generally.
             *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *
   Long live the Commodore!     ::     Admission Free.
             *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *
   To conclude with the much-admired song by Dibdin,
   altered to suit all American Tars, entitled

                  THE TRUE YANKEE SAILOR.
   True Yankee Sailor (in costume), Patrick Flinegan,
                      Captain of the Head.

   Performance to commence with "Hail Columbia," by the Brass
   Band. Ensign rises at three bells, P.M. No sailor permitted
   to enter in his shirt-sleeves. Good order is expected to be
   maintained. The Master-at-arms and Ship's Corporals to be in
   attendance to keep the peace.

At the earnest entreaties of the seamen, Lemsford, the gun-deck
poet, had been prevailed upon to draw up this bill. And upon this
one occasion his literary abilities were far from being underrated,
even by the least intellectual person on board. Nor must it be
omitted that, before the bill was placarded, Captain Claret, enacting
the part of censor and grand chamberlain ran over a manuscript copy
of "_The Old Wagon Paid Off_," to see whether it contained anything
calculated to breed disaffection against lawful authority among the
crew. He objected to some parts, but in the end let them all pass.

The morning of The Fourth--most anxiously awaited--dawned clear
and fair. The breeze was steady; the air bracing cold; and one
and all the sailors anticipated a gleeful afternoon. And thus was
falsified the prophecies of certain old growlers averse to
theatricals, who had predicted a gale of wind that would squash
all the arrangements of the green-room.

As the men whose regular turns, at the time of the performance,
would come round to be stationed in the tops, and at the various
halyards and running ropes about the spar-deck, could not be
permitted to partake in the celebration, there accordingly
ensued, during the morning, many amusing scenes of tars who were
anxious to procure substitutes at their posts. Through the day,
many anxious glances were cast to windward; but the weather still
promised fair.

At last _the people_ were piped to dinner; two bells struck; and
soon after, all who could be spared from their stations hurried
to the half-deck. The capstan bars were placed on shot-boxes, as
at prayers on Sundays, furnishing seats for the audience, while a
low stage, rigged by the carpenter's gang, was built at one end
of the open space. The curtain was composed of a large ensign,
and the bulwarks round about were draperied with the flags of all
nations. The ten or twelve members of the brass band were ranged
in a row at the foot of the stage, their polished instruments in
their hands, while the consequential Captain of the Band himself
was elevated upon a gun carriage.

At three bells precisely a group of ward-room officers emerged
from the after-hatchway, and seated themselves upon camp-stools,
in a central position, with the stars and stripes for a canopy.
_That_ was the royal box. The sailors looked round for the
Commodore but neither Commodore nor Captain honored _the people_
with their presence.

At the call of a bugle the band struck up _Hail Columbia_, the
whole audience keeping time, as at Drury Lane, when _God Save The
King_ is played after a great national victory.

At the discharge of a marine's musket the curtain rose, and four
sailors, in the picturesque garb of Maltese mariners, staggered
on the stage in a feigned state of intoxication. The truthfulness
of the representation was much heightened by the roll of the ship.

"The Commodore," "Old Luff," "The Mayor," and "Gin and Sugar
Sall," were played to admiration, and received great applause.
But at the first appearance of that universal favourite, Jack
Chase, in the chivalric character of _Percy Royal-Mast_, the whole
audience simultaneously rose to their feet, and greeted hire with
three hearty cheers, that almost took the main-top-sail aback.

Matchless Jack, _in full fig_, bowed again and again, with true
quarter-deck grace and self possession; and when five or six
untwisted strands of rope and bunches of oakum were thrown to
him, as substitutes for bouquets, he took them one by one, and
gallantly hung them from the buttons of his jacket.

"Hurrah! hurrah! hurrah!--go on! go on!--stop hollering--hurrah!--
go on!--stop hollering--hurrah!" was now heard on all sides,
till at last, seeing no end to the enthusiasm of his ardent
admirers, Matchless Jack stepped forward, and, with his lips
moving in pantomime, plunged into the thick of the part. Silence
soon followed, but was fifty times broken by uncontrollable
bursts of applause. At length, when that heart-thrilling scene
came on, where Percy Royal-Mast rescues fifteen oppressed sailors
from the watch-house, in the teeth of a posse of constables, the
audience leaped to their feet, overturned the capstan bars, and
to a man hurled their hats on the stage in a delirium of delight.
Ah Jack, that was a ten-stroke indeed!

The commotion was now terrific; all discipline seemed gone for
ever; the Lieutenants ran in among the men, the Captain darted
from his cabin, and the Commodore nervously questioned the armed
sentry at his door as to what the deuce _the people_ were about.
In the midst of all this, the trumpet of the officer-of-the-deck,
commanding the top-gallant sails to be taken in, was almost
completely drowned. A black squall was coming down on the
weather-bow, and the boat-swain's mates bellowed themselves
hoarse at the main-hatchway. There is no knowing what would have
ensued, had not the bass drum suddenly been heard, calling all
hands to quarters, a summons not to be withstood. The sailors
pricked their ears at it, as horses at the sound of a cracking
whip, and confusedly stumbled up the ladders to their stations.
The next moment all was silent but the wind, howling like a
thousand devils in the cordage.

"Stand by to reef all three top-sails!--settle away the halyards!
--haul out--so: make fast!--aloft, top-men! and reef away!"

Thus, in storm and tempest terminated that day's theatricals. But
the sailors never recovered from the disappointment of not having
the "_True Yankee Sailor_" sung by the Irish Captain of the Head.

And here White-jacket must moralize a bit. The unwonted spectacle
of the row of gun-room officers mingling with "the people" in
applauding a mere seaman like Jack Chase, filled me at the time
with the most pleasurable emotions. It is a sweet thing, thought
I, to see these officers confess a human brotherhood with us,
after all; a sweet thing to mark their cordial appreciation of
the manly merits of my matchless Jack. Ah! they are noble fellows
all round, and I do not know but I have wronged them sometimes in
my thoughts.

Nor was it without similar pleasurable feelings that I witnessed
the temporary rupture of the ship's stern discipline, consequent
upon the tumult of the theatricals. I thought to myself, this now
is as it should be. It is good to shake off, now and then, this
iron yoke round our necks. And after having once permitted us
sailors to be a little noisy, in a harmless way--somewhat merrily
turbulent--the officers cannot, with any good grace, be so
excessively stern and unyielding as before. I began to think a
man-of-war a man-of-peace-and-good-will, after all. But, alas!
disappointment came.

Next morning the same old scene was enacted at the gang-way. And
beholding the row of uncompromising-looking-officers there
assembled with the Captain, to witness punishment--the same
officers who had been so cheerfully disposed over night--an old
sailor touched my shoulder and said, "See, White-Jacket, all
round they have _shipped their quarter-deck faces again_. But
this is the way."

I afterward learned that this was an old man-of-war's-man's
phrase, expressive of the facility with which a sea-officer falls
back upon all the severity of his dignity, after a temporary
suspension of it.



And now, through drizzling fogs and vapours, and under damp,
double-reefed top-sails, our wet-decked frigate drew nearer and
nearer to the squally Cape.

Who has not heard of it? Cape Horn, Cape Horn--a _horn_ indeed,
that has tossed many a good ship. Was the descent of Orpheus,
Ulysses, or Dante into Hell, one whit more hardy and sublime than
the first navigator's weathering of that terrible Cape?

Turned on her heel by a fierce West Wind, many an outward-bound
ship has been driven across the Southern Ocean to the Cape of
Good Hope--_that_ way to seek a passage to the Pacific. And that
stormy Cape, I doubt not, has sent many a fine craft to the
bottom, and told no tales. At those ends of the earth are no
chronicles. What signify the broken spars and shrouds that, day
after day, are driven before the prows of more fortunate vessels?
or the tall masts, imbedded in icebergs, that are found floating
by? They but hint the old story--of ships that have sailed from
their ports, and never more have been heard of.

Impracticable Cape! You may approach it from this direction or
that--in any way you please--from the East or from the West; with
the wind astern, or abeam, or on the quarter; and still Cape Horn
is Cape Horn. Cape Horn it is that takes the conceit out of
fresh-water sailors, and steeps in a still salter brine the
saltest. Woe betide the tyro; the fool-hardy, Heaven preserve!

Your Mediterranean captain, who with a cargo of oranges has
hitherto made merry runs across the Atlantic, without so much as
furling a t'-gallant-sail, oftentimes, off Cape Horn, receives a
lesson which he carries to the grave; though the grave--as is too
often the case--follows so hard on the, lesson that no benefit
comes from the experience.

Other strangers who draw nigh to this Patagonia termination of
our Continent, with their souls full of its shipwrecks and
disasters--top-sails cautiously reefed, and everything guardedly
snug--these strangers at first unexpectedly encountering a
tolerably smooth sea, rashly conclude that the Cape, after all,
is but a bugbear; they have been imposed upon by fables, and
founderings and sinkings hereabouts are all cock-and-bull

"Out reefs, my hearties; fore and aft set t'-gallant-sails! stand
by to give her the fore-top-mast stun'-sail!"

But, Captain Rash, those sails of yours were much safer in the
sail-maker's loft. For now, while the heedless craft is bounding
over the billows, a black cloud rises out of the sea; the sun
drops down from the sky; a horrible mist far and wide spreads
over the water.

"Hands by the halyards! Let go! Clew up!"

Too late.

For ere the ropes' ends can be the east off from the pins, the
tornado is blowing down to the bottom of their throats. The masts
are willows, the sails ribbons, the cordage wool; the whole ship
is brewed into the yeast of the gale.

An now, if, when the first green sea breaks over him, Captain
Rash is not swept overboard, he has his hands full be sure. In
all probability his three masts have gone by the board, and,
ravelled into list, his sails are floating in the air. Or,
perhaps, the ship _broaches to_, or is _brought by the lee_. In
either ease, Heaven help the sailors, their wives and their
little ones; and heaven help the underwriters.

Familiarity with danger makes a brave man braver, but less
daring. Thus with seamen: he who goes the oftenest round Cape
Horn goes the most circumspectly. A veteran mariner is never
deceived by the treacherous breezes which sometimes waft him
pleasantly toward the latitude of the Cape. No sooner does he
come within a certain distance of it--previously fixed in his own
mind--than all hands are turned to setting the ship in storm-
trim; and never mind how light the breeze, down come his t'-
gallant-yards. He "bends" his strongest storm-sails, and lashes
every-thing on deck securely. The ship is then ready for the
worst; and if, in reeling round the headland, she receives a
broadside, it generally goes well with her. If ill, all hands go
to the bottom with quiet consciences.

Among sea-captains, there are some who seem to regard the genius
of the Cape as a wilful, capricious jade, that must be courted
and coaxed into complaisance. First, they come along under easy
sails; do not steer boldly for the headland, but tack this way
and that--sidling up to it, Now they woo the Jezebel with a t'-
gallant-studding-sail; anon, they deprecate her wrath with
double-reefed-topsails. When, at length, her unappeasable fury is
fairly aroused, and all round the dismantled ship the storm howls
and howls for days together, they still persevere in their
efforts. First, they try unconditional submission; furling every
rag and _heaving to_: laying like a log, for the tempest to toss
wheresoever it pleases.

This failing, they set a _spencer_ or _try-sail_, and shift on
the other tack. Equally vain! The gale sings as hoarsely as before.
At last, the wind comes round fair; they drop the fore-sail; square
the yards, and scud before it; their implacable foe chasing them
with tornadoes, as if to show her insensibility to the last.

Other ships, without encountering these terrible gales, spend
week after week endeavouring to turn this boisterous world-corner
against a continual head-wind. Tacking hither and thither, in the
language of sailors they _polish_ the Cape by beating about its
edges so long.

Le Mair and Schouten, two Dutchmen, were the first navigators who
weathered Cape Born. Previous to this, passages had been made to
the Pacific by the Straits of Magellan; nor, indeed, at that
period, was it known to a certainty that there was any other
route, or that the land now called Terra del Fuego was an island.
A few leagues southward from Terra del Fuego is a cluster of
small islands, the Diegoes; between which and the former island
are the Straits of Le Mair, so called in honour of their
discoverer, who first sailed through them into the Pacific. Le
Mair and Schouten, in their small, clumsy vessels, encountered a
series of tremendous gales, the prelude to the long train of
similar hardships which most of their followers have experienced.
It is a significant fact, that Schouten's vessel, the _Horne_,
which gave its name to the Cape, was almost lost in weathering it.

The next navigator round the. Cape was Sir Francis Drake, who, on
Raleigh's Expedition, beholding for the first time, from the
Isthmus of Darien, the "goodlie South Sea," like a true-born
Englishman, vowed, please God, to sail an English ship thereon;
which the gallant sailor did, to the sore discomfiture of the
Spaniards on the coasts of Chili and Peru.

But perhaps the greatest hardships on record, in making this
celebrated passage, were those experienced by Lord Anson's
squadron in 1736. Three remarkable and most interesting
narratives record their disasters and sufferings. The first,
jointly written by the carpenter and gunner of the Wager; the
second by young Byron, a midshipman in the same ship; the third,
by the chaplain of the Centurion. White-Jacket has them all; and
they are fine reading of a boisterous March night, with the
casement rattling in your ear, and the chimney-stacks blowing
down upon the pavement, bubbling with rain-drops.

But if you want the best idea of Cape Horn, get my friend Dana's
unmatchable "Two Years Before the Mast." But you can read, and so
you must have read it. His chapters describing Cape Horn must
have been written with an icicle.

At the present day the horrors of the Cape have somewhat abated.
This is owing to a growing familiarity with it; but, more than
all, to the improved condition of ships in all respects, and the
means now generally in use of preserving the health of the crews
in times of severe and prolonged exposure.



Colder and colder; we are drawing nigh to the Cape. Now gregoes,
pea jackets, monkey jackets reefing jackets, storm jackets, oil
jackets, paint jackets, round jackets short jackets, long
jackets, and all manner of jackets, are the order of the day, not
excepting the immortal white jacket, which begins to be sturdily
buttoned up to the throat, and pulled down vigorously at the
skirts, to bring them well over the loins.

But, alas! those skirts were lamentably scanty; and though, with
its quiltings, the jacket was stuffed out about the breasts like
a Christmas turkey, and of a dry cold day kept the wearer warm
enough in that vicinity, yet about the loins it was shorter than
ballet-dancer's skirts; so that while my chest was in the
temperate zone close adjoining the torrid, my hapless thighs were
in Nova Zembla, hardly an icicle's toss from the Pole.

Then, again, the repeated soakings and dryings it had undergone,
had by this time made it shrink woefully all over, especially in
the arms, so that the wristbands had gradually crawled up near to
the elbows; and it required an energetic thrust to push the arm
through, in drawing the jacket on.

I endeavoured to amend these misfortunes by sewing a sort of canvas
ruffle round the skirts, by way of a continuation or supplement to
the original work, and by doing the same with the wristbands.

This is the time for oil-skin suits, dread-naughts, tarred
trowsers and overalls, sea-boots, comforters, mittens, woollen
socks, Guernsey frocks, Havre shirts, buffalo-robe shirts, and
moose-skin drawers. Every man's jacket is his wigwam, and every
man's hat his caboose.

Perfect license is now permitted to the men respecting their
clothing. Whatever they can rake and scrape together they put
on--swaddling themselves in old sails, and drawing old socks over
their heads for night-caps. This is the time for smiting your
chest with your hand, and talking loud to keep up the circulation.

Colder, and colder, and colder, till at last we spoke a fleet of
icebergs bound North. After that, it was one incessant "_cold
snap_," that almost snapped off our fingers and toes. Cold! It
was cold as _Blue Flujin_, where sailors say fire freezes.

And now coming up with the latitude of the Cape, we stood southward
to give it a wide berth, and while so doing were becalmed; ay,
becalmed off Cape Horn, which is worse, far worse, than being
becalmed on the Line.

Here we lay forty-eight hours, during which the cold was intense.
I wondered at the liquid sea, which refused to freeze in such a
temperature. The clear, cold sky overhead looked like a steel-
blue cymbal, that might ring, could you smite it. Our breath came
and went like puffs' of smoke from pipe-bowls. At first there was
a long gauky swell, that obliged us to furl most of the sails, and
even send down t'-gallant-yards, for fear of pitching them overboard.

Out of sight of land, at this extremity of both the inhabitable
and uninhabitable world, our peopled frigate, echoing with the
voices of men, the bleating of lambs, the cackling of fowls, the
gruntings of pigs, seemed like Noah's old ark itself, becalmed at
the climax of the Deluge.

There was nothing to be done but patiently to await the pleasure
of the elements, and "whistle for a wind," the usual practice of
seamen in a calm. No fire was allowed, except for the indispensable
purpose of cooking, and heating bottles of water to toast Selvagee's
feet. He who possessed the largest stock of vitality, stood the
best chance to escape freezing. It was horrifying. In such weather
any man could have undergone amputation with great ease, and helped
take up the arteries himself.

Indeed, this state of affairs had not lasted quite twenty-four hours,
when the extreme frigidity of the air, united to our increased tendency
to inactivity, would very soon have rendered some of us subjects for
the surgeon and his mates, had not a humane proceeding of the Captain
suddenly impelled us to vigorous exercise.

And here be it said, that the appearance of the Boat-swain, with
his silver whistle to his mouth, at the main hatchway of the gun-
deck, is always regarded by the crew with the utmost curiosity,
for this betokens that some general order is about to be
promulgated through the ship. What now? is the question that runs
on from man to man. A short preliminary whistle is then given by
"Old Yarn," as they call him, which whistle serves to collect
round him, from their various stations, his four mates. Then
Yarn, or Pipes, as leader of the orchestra, begins a peculiar
call, in which his assistants join. This over, the order,
whatever it may be, is loudly sung out and prolonged, till the
remotest corner echoes again. The Boatswain and his mates are the
town-criers of a man-of-war.

The calm had commenced in the afternoon: and the following morning
the ship's company were electrified by a general order, thus set forth
and declared: "_D'ye hear there, for and aft! all hands skylark!_"

This mandate, nowadays never used except upon very rare occasions,
produced the same effect upon the men that Exhilarating Gas would
have done, or an extra allowance of "grog." For a time, the wonted
discipline of the ship was broken through, and perfect license
allowed. It was a Babel here, a Bedlam there, and a Pandemonium
everywhere. The Theatricals were nothing compared with it. Then the
faint-hearted and timorous crawled to their hiding-places, and the
lusty and bold shouted forth their glee.

Gangs of men, in all sorts of outlandish habiliments, wild as
those worn at some crazy carnival, rushed to and fro, seizing
upon whomsoever they pleased--warrant-officers and dangerous
pugilists excepted--pulling and hauling the luckless tars about,
till fairly baited into a genial warmth. Some were made fast to
and hoisted aloft with a will: others, mounted upon oars, were
ridden fore and aft on a rail, to the boisterous mirth of the
spectators, any one of whom might be the next victim. Swings were
rigged from the tops, or the masts; and the most reluctant wights
being purposely selected, spite of all struggles, were swung from
East to West, in vast arcs of circles, till almost breathless.
Hornpipes, fandangoes, Donnybrook-jigs, reels, and quadrilles,
were danced under the very nose of the most mighty captain, and
upon the very quarter-deck and poop. Sparring and wrestling, too,
were all the vogue; _Kentucky bites_ were given, and the _Indian
hug_ exchanged. The din frightened the sea-fowl, that flew by
with accelerated wing.

It is worth mentioning that several casualties occurred, of
which, however, I will relate but one. While the "sky-larking"
was at its height, one of the fore-top-men--an ugly-tempered
devil of a Portuguese, looking on--swore that he would be the
death of any man who laid violent hands upon his inviolable
person. This threat being overheard, a band of desperadoes,
coming up from behind, tripped him up in an instant, and in the
twinkling of an eye the Portuguese was straddling an oar, borne
aloft by an uproarious multitude, who rushed him along the deck
at a railroad gallop. The living mass of arms all round and
beneath him was so dense, that every time he inclined one side he
was instantly pushed upright, but only to fall over again, to
receive another push from the contrary direction. Presently,
disengaging his hands from those who held them, the enraged
seaman drew from his bosom an iron belaying-pin, and recklessly
laid about him to right and left. Most of his persecutors fled;
but some eight or ten still stood their ground, and, while bearing
him aloft, endeavoured to wrest the weapon from his hands. In this
attempt, one man was struck on the head, and dropped insensible.
He was taken up for dead, and carried below to Cuticle, the surgeon,
while the Portuguese was put under guard. But the wound did not
prove very serious; and in a few days the man was walking about the
deck, with his head well bandaged.

This occurrence put an end to the "skylarking," further head-
breaking being strictly prohibited. In due time the Portuguese
paid the penalty of his rashness at the gangway; while once again
the officers _shipped their quarter-deck faces_.



Ere the calm had yet left us, a sail had been discerned from the
fore-top-mast-head, at a great distance, probably three leagues
or more. At first it was a mere speck, altogether out of sight
from the deck. By the force of attraction, or something else equally
inscrutable, two ships in a calm, and equally affected by the
currents, will always approximate, more or less. Though there was
not a breath of wind, it was not a great while before the strange
sail was descried from our bulwarks; gradually, it drew still nearer.

What was she, and whence? There is no object which so excites
interest and conjecture, and, at the same time, baffles both, as
a sail, seen as a mere speck on these remote seas off Cape Horn.
A breeze! a breeze! for lo! the stranger is now perceptibly
nearing the frigate; the officer's spy-glass pronounces her a
full-rigged ship, with all sail set, and coming right down to us,
though in our own vicinity the calm still reigns.

She is bringing the wind with her. Hurrah! Ay, there it is! Behold
how mincingly it creeps over the sea, just ruffling and crisping it.

Our top-men were at once sent aloft to loose the sails, and
presently they faintly began to distend. As yet we hardly had
steerage-way. Toward sunset the stranger bore down before the
wind, a complete pyramid of canvas. Never before, I venture to
say, was Cape Horn so audaciously insulted. Stun'-sails alow and
aloft; royals, moon-sails, and everything else. She glided under
our stern, within hailing distance, and the signal-quarter-master
ran up our ensign to the gaff.

"Ship ahoy!" cried the Lieutenant of the Watch, through his trumpet.

"Halloa!" bawled an old fellow in a green jacket, clap-ping one hand
to his mouth, while he held on with the other to the mizzen-shrouds.

"What ship's that?"

"The Sultan, Indiaman, from New York, and bound to Callao and Canton,
sixty days out, all well. What frigate's that?"

"The United States ship Neversink, homeward bound." "Hurrah!
hurrah! hurrah!" yelled our enthusiastic countryman, transported
with patriotism.

By this time the Sultan had swept past, but the Lieutenant of the
Watch could not withhold a parting admonition.

"D'ye hear? You'd better take in some of your flying-kites there.
Look out for Cape Horn!"

But the friendly advice was lost in the now increasing wind. With
a suddenness by no means unusual in these latitudes, the light
breeze soon became a succession of sharp squalls, and our sail-
proud braggadacio of an India-man was observed to let everything
go by the run, his t'-gallant stun'-sails and flying-jib taking
quick leave of the spars; the flying-jib was swept into the air,
rolled together for a few minutes, and tossed about in the
squalls like a foot-ball. But the wind played no such pranks with
the more prudently managed canvas of the Neversink, though before
many hours it was stirring times with us.

About midnight, when the starboard watch, to which, I belonged,
was below, the boatswain's whistle was heard, followed by the
shrill cry of "_All hands take in sail_! jump, men, and save ship!"

Springing from our hammocks, we found the frigate leaning over to
it so steeply, that it was with difficulty we could climb the
ladders leading to the upper deck.

Here the scene was awful. The vessel seemed to be sailing on her
side. The main-deck guns had several days previous been run in
and housed, and the port-holes closed, but the lee carronades on
the quarter-deck and forecastle were plunging through the sea,
which undulated over them in milk-white billows of foam. With
every lurch to leeward the yard-arm-ends seemed to dip in the
sea, while forward the spray dashed over the bows in cataracts,
and drenched the men who were on the fore-yard. By this time the
deck was alive with the whole strength of the ship's company,
five hundred men, officers and all, mostly clinging to the
weather bulwarks. The occasional phosphorescence of the yeasting
sea cast a glare upon their uplifted faces, as a night fire in a
populous city lights up the panic-stricken crowd.

In a sudden gale, or when a large quantity of sail is suddenly to
be furled, it is the custom for the First Lieutenant to take the
trumpet from whoever happens then to be officer of the deck. But
Mad Jack had the trumpet that watch; nor did the First Lieutenant
now seek to wrest it from his hands. Every eye was upon him, as
if we had chosen him from among us all, to decide this battle
with the elements, by single combat with the spirit of the Cape;
for Mad Jack was the saving genius of the ship, and so proved
himself that night. I owe this right hand, that is this moment
flying over my sheet, and all my present being to Mad Jack. The
ship's bows were now butting, battering, ramming, and thundering
over and upon the head seas, and with a horrible wallowing sound
our whole hull was rolling in the trough of the foam. The gale
came athwart the deck, and every sail seemed bursting with its
wild breath.

All the quarter-masters, and several of the forecastle-men, were
swarming round the double-wheel on the quarter-deck. Some jumping
up and down, with their hands upon the spokes; for the whole helm
and galvanised keel were fiercely feverish, with the life
imparted to them by the tempest.

"Hard _up_ the helm!" shouted Captain Claret, bursting from his
cabin like a ghost in his night-dress.

"Damn you!" raged Mad Jack to the quarter-masters; "hard down--
hard _down_, I say, and be damned to you!"

Contrary orders! but Mad Jack's were obeyed. His object was to throw
the ship into the wind, so as the better to admit of close-reefing
the top-sails. But though the halyards were let go, it was impossible
to clew down the yards, owing to the enormous horizontal strain on
the canvas. It now blew a hurricane. The spray flew over the ship in
floods. The gigantic masts seemed about to snap under the world-wide
strain of the three entire top-sails.

"Clew down! clew down!" shouted Mad Jack, husky with excitement,
and in a frenzy, beating his trumpet against one of the shrouds.
But, owing to the slant of the ship, the thing could not be done.
It was obvious that before many minutes something must go--either
sails, rigging, or sticks; perhaps the hull itself, and all hands.

Presently a voice from the top exclaimed that there was a rent in
the main-top-sail. And instantly we heard a re-port like two or
three muskets discharged together; the vast sail was rent up and
clown like the Vail of the Temple. This saved the main-mast; for
the yard was now clewed down with comparative ease, and the top-
men laid out to stow the shattered canvas. Soon, the two
remaining top-sails were also clewed down and close reefed.

Above all the roar of the tempest and the shouts of the crew, was
heard the dismal tolling of the ship's bell--almost as large as
that of a village church--which the violent rolling of the ship
was occasioning. Imagination cannot conceive the horror of such a
sound in a night-tempest at sea.

"Stop that ghost!" roared Mad Jack; "away, one of you, and wrench
off the clapper!"

But no sooner was this ghost gagged, than a still more appalling
sound was heard, the rolling to and fro of the heavy shot, which,
on the gun-deck, had broken loose from the gun-racks, and converted
that part of the ship into an immense bowling-alley. Some hands were
sent down to secure them; but it was as much as their lives were
worth. Several were maimed; and the midshipmen who were ordered to
see the duty performed reported it impossible, until the storm abated.

The most terrific job of all was to furl the main-sail, which, at
the commencement of the squalls, had been clewed up, coaxed and
quieted as much as possible with the bunt-lines and slab-lines.
Mad Jack waited some time for a lull, ere he gave an order so
perilous to be executed. For to furl this enormous sail, in such
a gale, required at least fifty men on the yard; whose weight,
superadded to that of the ponderous stick itself, still further
jeopardised their lives. But there was no prospect of a cessation
of the gale, and the order was at last given.

At this time a hurricane of slanting sleet and hail was descending
upon us; the rigging was coated with a thin glare of ice, formed
within the hour.

"Aloft, main-yard-men! and all you main-top-men! and furl the
main-sail!" cried Mad Jack.

I dashed down my hat, slipped out of my quilted jacket in an
instant, kicked the shoes from my feet, and, with a crowd of
others, sprang for the rigging. Above the bulwarks (which in a
frigate are so high as to afford much protection to those on
deck) the gale was horrible. The sheer force of the wind
flattened us to the rigging as we ascended, and every hand seemed
congealing to the icy shrouds by which we held.

"Up--up, my brave hearties!" shouted Mad Jack; and up we got, some
way or other, all of us, and groped our way out on the yard-arms.

"Hold on, every mother's son!" cried an old quarter-gunner at my
side. He was bawling at the top of his compass; but in the gale,
he seemed to be whispering; and I only heard him from his being
right to windward of me.

But his hint was unnecessary; I dug my nails into the _jack-
stays_, and swore that nothing but death should part me and them
until I was able to turn round and look to windward. As yet, this
was impossible; I could scarcely hear the man to leeward at my
elbow; the wind seemed to snatch the words from his mouth and fly
away with them to the South Pole.

All this while the sail itself was flying about, sometimes
catching over our heads, and threatening to tear us from the yard
in spite of all our hugging. For about three quarters of an hour
we thus hung suspended right over the rampant billows, which
curled their very crests under the feet of some four or five of
us clinging to the lee-yard-arm, as if to float us from our place.

Presently, the word passed along the yard from wind-ward, that we
were ordered to come down and leave the sail to blow, since it
could not be furled. A midshipman, it seemed, had been sent up by
the officer of the deck to give the order, as no trumpet could be
heard where we were.

Those on the weather yard-arm managed to crawl upon the spar and
scramble down the rigging; but with us, upon the extreme leeward
side, this feat was out of the question; it was, literary, like
climbing a precipice to get to wind-ward in order to reach the
shrouds: besides, the entire yard was now encased in ice, and our
hands and feet were so numb that we dared not trust our lives to
them. Nevertheless, by assisting each other, we contrived to
throw ourselves prostrate along the yard, and embrace it with our
arms and legs. In this position, the stun'-sail-booms greatly
assisted in securing our hold. Strange as it may appear, I do not
suppose that, at this moment, the slightest sensation of fear was
felt by one man on that yard. We clung to it with might and main;
but this was instinct. The truth is, that, in circumstances like
these, the sense of fear is annihilated in the unutterable sights
that fill all the eye, and the sounds that fill all the ear. You
become identified with the tempest; your insignificance is lost
in the riot of the stormy universe around.

Below us, our noble frigate seemed thrice its real length--a vast
black wedge, opposing its widest end to the combined fury of the
sea and wind.

At length the first fury of the gale began to abate, and we at
once fell to pounding our hands, as a preliminary operation to
going to work; for a gang of men had now ascended to help secure
what was left of the sail; we somehow packed it away, at last,
and came down.

About noon the next day, the gale so moderated that we shook two
reefs out of the top-sails, set new courses, and stood due east,
with the wind astern.

Thus, all the fine weather we encountered after first weighing anchor
on the pleasant Spanish coast, was but the prelude to this one terrific
night; more especially, that treacherous calm immediately preceding it.
But how could we reach our long-promised homes without encountering Cape
Horn? by what possibility avoid it? And though some ships have weathered
it without these perils, yet by far the greater part must encounter
them. Lucky it is that it comes about midway in the homeward-bound
passage, so that the sailors have time to prepare for it, and time to
recover from it after it is astern.

But, sailor or landsman, there is some sort of a Cape Horn for all.
Boys! beware of it; prepare for it in time. Gray-beards! thank God it is
passed. And ye lucky livers, to whom, by some rare fatality, your Cape
Horns are placid as Lake Lemans, flatter not yourselves that good luck
is judgment and discretion; for all the yolk in your eggs, you might
have foundered and gone down, had the Spirit of the Cape said the word.



In time of peril, like the needle to the loadstone, obedience,
irrespective of rank, generally flies to him who is best fitted
to command. The truth of this seemed evinced in the case of Mad
Jack, during the gale, and especially at that perilous moment
when he countermanded the Captain's order at the helm. But every
seaman knew, at the time, that the Captain's order was an unwise
one in the extreme; perhaps worse than unwise.

These two orders given, by the Captain and his Lieutenant,
exactly contrasted their characters. By putting the helm _hard
up_, the Captain was for _scudding_; that is, for flying away
from the gale. Whereas, Mad Jack was for running the ship into
its teeth. It is needless to say that, in almost all cases of
similar hard squalls and gales, the latter step, though attended
with more appalling appearances is, in reality, the safer of the
two, and the most generally adopted.

Scudding makes you a slave to the blast, which drives you headlong
before it; but _running up into the wind's eye_ enables you, in a
degree, to hold it at bay. Scudding exposes to the gale your stern,
the weakest part of your hull; the contrary course presents to it your
bows, your strongest part. As with ships, so with men; he who turns his
back to his foe gives him an advantage. Whereas, our ribbed chests, like
the ribbed bows of a frigate, are as bulkheads to dam off an onset.

That night, off the pitch of the Cape, Captain Claret was hurried forth
from his disguises, and, at a manhood-testing conjuncture, appeared in
his true colours. A thing which every man in the ship had long suspected
that night was proved true. Hitherto, in going about the ship, and
casting his glances among the men, the peculiarly lustreless repose of
the Captain's eye--his slow, even, unnecessarily methodical step, and
the forced firmness of his whole demeanour--though, to a casual observer,
expressive of the consciousness of command and a desire to strike
subjection among the crew--all this, to some minds, had only been deemed
indications of the fact that Captain Claret, while carefully shunning
positive excesses, continually kept himself in an uncertain equilibrio
between soberness and its reverse; which equilibrio might be destroyed
by the first sharp vicissitude of events.

And though this is only a surmise, nevertheless, as having some
knowledge of brandy and mankind, White-Jacket will venture to state
that, had Captain Claret been an out-and-out temperance man, he would
never have given that most imprudent order to _hard up_ the helm. He
would either have held his peace, and stayed in his cabin, like his
gracious majesty the Commodore, or else have anticipated Mad Jack's
order, and thundered forth "Hard down the helm!"

To show how little real sway at times have the severest restrictive
laws, and how spontaneous is the instinct of discretion in some minds,
it must here be added, that though Mad Jack, under a hot impulse, had
countermanded an order of his superior officer before his very face,
yet that severe Article of War, to which he thus rendered himself
obnoxious, was never enforced against him. Nor, so far as any of the
crew ever knew, did the Captain even venture to reprimand him for his

It has been said that Mad Jack himself was a lover of strong
drink. So he was. But here we only see the virtue of being placed
in a station constantly demanding a cool head and steady nerves,
and the misfortune of filling a post that does _not_ at all times
demand these qualities. So exact and methodical in most things
was the discipline of the frigate, that, to a certain extent,
Captain Claret was exempted from personal interposition in many
of its current events, and thereby, perhaps, was he lulled into
security, under the enticing lee of his decanter.

But as for Mad Jack, he must stand his regular watches, and pace
the quarter-deck at night, and keep a sharp eye to windward.
Hence, at sea, Mad Jack tried to make a point of keeping sober,
though in very fine weather he was sometimes betrayed into a
glass too many. But with Cape Horn before him, he took the
temperance pledge outright, till that perilous promontory should
be far astern.

The leading incident of the gale irresistibly invites the
question, Are there incompetent officers in the American navy?--
that is, incompetent to the due performance of whatever duties
may devolve upon them. But in that gallant marine, which, during
the late war, gained so much of what is called _glory_, can there
possibly be to-day incompetent officers?

As in the camp ashore, so on the quarter-deck at sea--the trumpets
of one victory drown the muffled drums of a thousand defeats. And,
in degree, this holds true of those events of war which are neuter
in their character, neither making renown nor disgrace. Besides, as
a long array of ciphers, led by but one solitary numeral, swell, by
mere force of aggregation, into an immense arithmetical sum, even so,
in some brilliant actions, do a crowd of officers, each inefficient
in himself, aggregate renown when banded together, and led by a numeral
Nelson or a Wellington. And the renown of such heroes, by outliving
themselves, descends as a heritage to their subordinate survivors. One
large brain and one large heart have virtue sufficient to magnetise a
whole fleet or an army. And if all the men who, since the beginning of
the world, have mainly contributed to the warlike successes or reverses
of nations, were now mustered together, we should be amazed to behold
but a handful of heroes. For there is no heroism in merely running in
and out a gun at a port-hole, enveloped in smoke or vapour, or in
firing off muskets in platoons at the word of command. This kind of
merely manual valour is often born of trepidation at the heart. There
may be men, individually craven, who, united, may display even temerity.
Yet it would be false to deny that, in some in-stances, the lowest
privates have acquitted themselves with even more gallantry than
their commodores. True heroism is not in the hand, but in the heart
and the head.

But are there incompetent officers in the gallant American navy?
For an American, the question is of no grateful cast. White Jacket
must again evade it, by referring to an historical fact in the history
of a kindred marine, which, from its long standing and magnitude,
furnishes many more examples of all kinds than our own. And this is
the only reason why it is ever referred to in this narrative. I
thank God I am free from all national invidiousness.

It is indirectly on record in the books of the English Admiralty,
that in the year 1808--after the death of Lord Nelson--when Lord
Collingwood commanded on the Mediterranean station, and his
broken health induced him to solicit a furlough, that out of a
list of upward of one hundred admirals, not a single officer was
found who was deemed qualified to relieve the applicant with
credit to the country. This fact Collingwood sealed with his
life; for, hopeless of being recalled, he shortly after died,
worn out, at his post. Now, if this was the case in so renowned a
marine as England's, what must be inferred with respect to our
own? But herein no special disgrace is involved. For the truth
is, that to be an accomplished and skillful naval generalissimo
needs natural capabilities of an uncommon order. Still more, it
may safely be asserted, that, worthily to command even a frigate,
requires a degree of natural heroism, talent, judgment, and
integrity, that is denied to mediocrity. Yet these qualifications
are not only required, but demanded; and no one has a right to be
a naval captain unless he possesses them.

Regarding Lieutenants, there are not a few Selvagees and Paper Jacks
in the American navy. Many Commodores know that they have seldom
taken a line-of-battle ship to sea, without feeling more or less
nervousness when some of the Lieutenants have the deck at night.

According to the last Navy Register (1849), there are now 68
Captains in the American navy, collectively drawing about
$300,000 annually from the public treasury; also, 297 Commanders,
drawing about $200,000; and 377 Lieutenants, drawing about half a
million; and 451 Midshipmen (including Passed-midshipmen), also
drawing nearly half a million. Considering the known facts, that
some of these officers are seldom or never sent to sea, owing to
the Navy Department being well aware of their inefficiency; that
others are detailed for pen-and-ink work at observatories, and
solvers of logarithms in the Coast Survey; while the really
meritorious officers, who are accomplished practical seamen, are
known to be sent from ship to ship, with but small interval of a
furlough; considering all this, it is not too much to say, that
no small portion of the million and a half of money above
mentioned is annually paid to national pensioners in disguise,
who live on the navy without serving it.

Nothing like this can be even insinuated against the "_forward
officers_"--Boatswains, Gunners, etc.; nor against the _petty
officers_--Captains of the Tops, etc.; nor against the able
seamen in the navy. For if any of _these_ are found wanting, they
are forthwith disrated or discharged.

True, all experience teaches that, whenever there is a great
national establishment, employing large numbers of officials, the
public must be reconciled to support many incompetent men; for
such is the favouritism and nepotism always prevailing in the
purlieus of these establishments, that some incompetent persons
are always admitted, to the exclusion of many of the worthy.

Nevertheless, in a country like ours, boasting of the political
equality of all social conditions, it is a great reproach that
such a thing as a common seaman rising to the rank of a
commissioned officer in our navy, is nowadays almost unheard-of.
Yet, in former times, when officers have so risen to rank, they
have generally proved of signal usefulness in the service, and
sometimes have reflected solid honour upon the country. Instances
in point might be mentioned.

Is it not well to have our institutions of a piece? Any American
landsman may hope to become President of the Union--commodore of
our squadron of states. And every American sailor should be
placed in such a position, that he might freely aspire to command
a squadron of frigates.



Right before the wind! Ay, blow, blow, ye breezes; so long as ye
stay fair, and we are homeward bound, what care the jolly crew?

It is worth mentioning here that, in nineteen cases out of
twenty, a passage from the Pacific round the Cape is almost sure
to be much shorter, and attended with less hardship, than a
passage undertaken from the Atlantic. The reason is, that the
gales are mostly from the westward, also the currents.

But, after all, going before the wind in a frigate, in such a
tempest, has its annoyances and drawbacks, as well as many other
blessings. The disproportionate weight of metal upon the spar and
gun decks induces a violent rolling, unknown to merchant ships.
We rolled and rolled on our way, like the world in its orbit,
shipping green seas on both sides, until the old frigate dipped
and went into it like a diving-bell.

The hatchways of some armed vessels are but poorly secured in bad
weather. This was peculiarly the ease with those of the Neversink.
They were merely spread over with an old tarpaulin, cracked and
rent in every direction.

In fair weather, the ship's company messed on the gun-deck; but
as this was now flooded almost continually, we were obliged to
take our meals upon the berth-deck, the next one below. One day,
the messes of the starboard-watch were seated here at dinner;
forming little groups, twelve or fifteen men in each, reclining
about the beef-kids and their pots and pans; when all of a sudden
the ship was seized with such a paroxysm of rolling that, in a
single instant, everything on the berth-deck--pots, kids,
sailors, pieces of beef, bread-bags, clothes-bags, and barges--
were tossed indiscriminately from side to side. It was impossible
to stay one's self; there was nothing but the bare deck to cling
to, which was slippery with the contents of the kids, and heaving
under us as if there were a volcano in the frigate's hold. While
we were yet sliding in uproarious crowds--all seated--the windows
of the deck opened, and floods of brine descended, simultaneously
with a violent lee-roll. The shower was hailed by the reckless
tars with a hurricane of yells; although, for an instant, I
really imagined we were about being swamped in the sea, such
volumes of water came cascading down.

A day or two after, we had made sufficient Easting to stand to
the northward, which we did, with the wind astern; thus fairly
turning the corner without abating our rate of progress. Though
we had seen no land since leaving Callao, Cape Horn was said to
be somewhere to the west of us; and though there was no positive
evidence of the fact, the weather encountered might be accounted
pretty good presumptive proof.

The land near Cape Horn, however, is well worth seeing, especially
Staten Land. Upon one occasion, the ship in which I then happened
to be sailing drew near this place from the northward, with a fair,
free wind, blowing steadily, through a bright translucent clay,
whose air was almost musical with the clear, glittering cold.
On our starboard beam, like a pile of glaciers in Switzerland,
lay this Staten Land, gleaming in snow-white barrenness and
solitude. Unnumbered white albatross were skimming the sea near
by, and clouds of smaller white wings fell through the air like
snow-flakes. High, towering in their own turbaned snows, the
far-inland pinnacles loomed up, like the border of some other
world. Flashing walls and crystal battlements, like the diamond
watch-towers along heaven's furthest frontier.

After leaving the latitude of the Cape, we had several storms of
snow; one night a considerable quantity laid upon the decks, and
some of the sailors enjoyed the juvenile diversion of snow-balling.
Woe unto the "middy" who that night went forward of the booms. Such
a target for snow-balls! The throwers could never be known. By some
curious sleight in hurling the missiles, they seemed to be thrown on
board by some hoydenish sea-nymphs outside the frigate.

At daybreak Midshipman Pert went below to the surgeon with an
alarming wound, gallantly received in discharging his perilous
duty on the forecastle. The officer of the deck had sent him on
an errand, to tell the boatswain that he was wanted in the
captain's cabin. While in the very act of performing the exploit
of delivering the message, Mr. Pert was struck on the nose with a
snow-ball of wondrous compactness. Upon being informed of the
disaster, the rogues expressed the liveliest sympathy. Pert was
no favourite.

After one of these storms, it was a curious sight to see the men
relieving the uppermost deck of its load of snow. It became the
duty of the captain of each gun to keep his own station clean;
accordingly, with an old broom, or "squilgee," he proceeded to
business, often quarrelling with his next-door neighbours about
their scraping their snow on his premises. It was like Broadway
in winter, the morning after a storm, when rival shop-boys are at
work cleaning the sidewalk.

Now and then, by way of variety, we had a fall of hailstones, so
big that sometimes we found ourselves dodging them.

The Commodore had a Polynesian servant on board, whose services
he had engaged at the Society Islands. Unlike his countrymen,
Wooloo was of a sedate, earnest, and philosophic temperament.
Having never been outside of the tropics before, he found many
phenomena off Cape Horn, which absorbed his attention, and set
him, like other philosophers, to feign theories corresponding to
the marvels he beheld. At the first snow, when he saw the deck
covered all over with a white powder, as it were, he expanded his
eyes into stewpans; but upon examining the strange substance, he
decided that this must be a species of super-fine flower, such as
was compounded into his master's "_duffs_," and other dainties.
In vain did an experienced natural philosopher belonging to the
fore-top maintain before his face, that in this hypothesis Wooloo
was mistaken. Wooloo's opinion remained unchanged for some time.

As for the hailstones, they transported him; he went about with a
bucket, making collections, and receiving contributions, for the
purpose of carrying them home to his sweethearts for glass beads;
but having put his bucket away, and returning to it again, and
finding nothing but a little water, he accused the by-standers of
stealing his precious stones.

This suggests another story concerning him. The first time he was
given a piece of "duff" to eat, he was observed to pick out very
carefully every raisin, and throw it away, with a gesture
indicative of the highest disgust. It turned out that he had
taken the raisins for bugs.

In our man-of-war, this semi-savage, wandering about the gun-deck
in his barbaric robe, seemed a being from some other sphere. His
tastes were our abominations: ours his. Our creed he rejected:
his we. We thought him a loon: he fancied us fools. Had the case
been reversed; had we been Polynesians and he an American, our
mutual opinion of each other would still have remained the same.
A fact proving that neither was wrong, but both right.



Though leaving the Cape behind us, the severe cold still continued,
and one of its worst consequences was the almost incurable drowsiness
induced thereby during the long night-watches. All along the decks,
huddled between the guns, stretched out on the carronade slides,
and in every accessible nook and corner, you would see the sailors
wrapped in their monkey jackets, in a state of half-conscious
torpidity, lying still and freezing alive, without the power to
rise and shake themselves.

"Up--up, you lazy dogs!" our good-natured Third Lieutenant, a
Virginian, would cry, rapping them with his speaking trumpet.
"Get up, and stir about."

But in vain. They would rise for an instant, and as soon as his
back was turned, down they would drop, as if shot through the heart.

Often I have lain thus when the fact, that if I laid much longer
I would actually freeze to death, would come over me with such
overpowering force as to break the icy spell, and starting to my
feet, I would endeavour to go through the combined manual and
pedal exercise to restore the circulation. The first fling of my
benumbed arm generally struck me in the face, instead of smiting
my chest, its true destination. But in these cases one's muscles
have their own way.

In exercising my other extremities, I was obliged to hold on to
something, and leap with both feet; for my limbs seemed as
destitute of joints as a pair of canvas pants spread to dry, and
frozen stiff.

When an order was given to haul the braces--which required the
strength of the entire watch, some two hundred men--a spectator
would have supposed that all hands had received a stroke of the
palsy. Roused from their state of enchantment, they came halting
and limping across the decks, falling against each other, and,
for a few moments, almost unable to handle the ropes. The
slightest exertion seemed intolerable; and frequently a body of
eighty or a hundred men summoned to brace the main-yard, would
hang over the rope for several minutes, waiting for some active
fellow to pick it up and put it into their hands. Even then, it
was some time before they were able to do anything. They made all
the motions usual in hauling a rope, but it was a long time
before the yard budged an inch. It was to no purpose that the
officers swore at them, or sent the midshipmen among them to find
out who those "_horse-marines_" and "_sogers_" were. The sailors
were so enveloped in monkey jackets, that in the dark night there
was no telling one from the other.

"Here, _you_, sir!" cries little Mr. Pert eagerly catching hold
of the skirts of an old sea-dog, and trying to turn him round, so
as to peer under his tarpaulin. "Who are _you_, sir? What's your

"Find out, Milk-and-Water," was the impertinent rejoinder.

"Blast you! you old rascal; I'll have you licked for that! Tell
me his name, some of you!" turning round to the bystanders.

"Gammon!" cries a voice at a distance.

"Hang me, but I know _you_, sir! and here's at you!" and, so
saying, Mr. Pert drops the impenetrable unknown, and makes into
the crowd after the bodiless voice. But the attempt to find an
owner for that voice is quite as idle as the effort to discover
the contents of the monkey jacket.

And here sorrowful mention must be made of something which,
during this state of affairs, most sorely afflicted me. Most
monkey jackets are of a dark hue; mine, as I have fifty times
repeated, and say again, was white. And thus, in those long, dark
nights, when it was my quarter-watch on deck, and not in the top,
and others went skulking and "sogering" about the decks, secure
from detection--their identity undiscoverable--my own hapless
jacket for ever proclaimed the name of its wearer. It gave me
many a hard job, which otherwise I should have escaped. When an
officer wanted a man for any particular duty--running aloft, say,
to communicate some slight order to the captains of the tops--how
easy, in that mob of incognitoes, to individualise "_that white
jacket_," and dispatch him on the errand. Then, it would never do
for me to hang back when the ropes were being pulled.

Indeed, upon all these occasions, such alacrity and cheerfulness
was I obliged to display, that I was frequently held up as an
illustrious example of activity, which the rest were called upon
to emulate. "Pull--pull! you lazy lubbers! Look at White-Jacket,
there; pull like him!"

Oh! how I execrated my luckless garment; how often I scoured the
deck with it to give it a tawny hue; how often I supplicated the
inexorable Brush, captain of the paint-room, for just one
brushful of his invaluable pigment. Frequently, I meditated
giving it a toss overboard; but I had not the resolution.
Jacketless at sea! Jacketless so near Cape Horn! The thought was
unendurable. And, at least, my garment was a jacket in name, if
not in utility.

At length I essayed a "swap." "Here, Bob," said I, assuming all
possible suavity, and accosting a mess-mate with a sort of
diplomatic assumption of superiority, "suppose I was ready to
part with this 'grego' of mine, and take yours in exchange--what
would you give me to boot?"

"Give you to _boot?_" he exclaimed, with horror; "I wouldn't
take your infernal jacket for a gift!"

How I hailed every snow-squall; for then--blessings on them!--
many of the men became _white-jackets_ along with myself; and,
powdered with the flakes, we all looked like millers.

We had six lieutenants, all of whom, with the exception of the
First Lieutenant, by turns headed the watches. Three of these
officers, including Mad Jack, were strict disciplinarians, and
never permitted us to lay down on deck during the night. And, to
tell the truth, though it caused much growling, it was far better
for our health to be thus kept on our feet. So promenading was
all the vogue. For some of us, however, it was like pacing in a
dungeon; for, as we had to keep at our stations--some at the
halyards, some at the braces, and elsewhere--and were not allowed
to stroll about indefinitely, and fairly take the measure of the
ship's entire keel, we were fain to confine ourselves to the
space of a very few feet. But the worse of this was soon over.
The suddenness of the change in the temperature consequent on
leaving Cape Horn, and steering to the northward with a ten-knot
breeze, is a noteworthy thing. To-day, you are assailed by a
blast that seems to have edged itself on icebergs; but in a
little more than a week, your jacket may be superfluous.

One word more about Cape Horn, and we have done with it.

Years hence, when a ship-canal shall have penetrated the Isthmus of
Darien, and the traveller be taking his seat in the ears at Cape Cod
for Astoria, it will be held a thing almost incredible that, for so
long a period, vessels bound to the Nor'-west Coast from New York
should, by going round Cape Horn, have lengthened their voyages some
thousands of miles. "In those unenlightened days" (I quote, in
advance, the language of some future philosopher), "entire years were
frequently consumed in making the voyage to and from the Spice
Islands, the present fashionable watering-place of the beau-monde of
Oregon." Such must be our national progress.

Why, sir, that boy of yours will, one of these days, be sending your
grandson to the salubrious city of Jeddo to spend his summer vacations.



While now running rapidly away from the bitter coast of Patagonia,
battling with the night-watches--still cold--as best we may; come
under the lee of my white-jacket, reader, while I tell of the less
painful sights to be seen in a frigate.

A hint has already been conveyed concerning the subterranean
depths of the Neversink's hold. But there is no time here to
speak of the _spirit-room_, a cellar down in the after-hold,
where the sailor's "grog" is kept; nor of the _cabletiers_, where
the great hawsers and chains are piled, as you see them at a
large ship-chandler's on shore; nor of the grocer's vaults, where
tierces of sugar, molasses, vinegar, rice, and flour are snugly
stowed; nor of the _sail-room_, full as a sail-maker's loft
ashore--piled up with great top-sails and top-gallant-sails, all
ready-folded in their places, like so many white vests in a
gentleman's wardrobe; nor of the copper and copper-fastened
_magazine_, closely packed with kegs of powder, great-gun and
small-arm cartridges; nor of the immense _shot-lockers_, or
subterranean arsenals, full as a bushel of apples with twenty-
four-pound balls; nor of the _bread-room_, a large apartment,
tinned all round within to keep out the mice, where the hard
biscuit destined for the consumption of five hundred men on a
long voyage is stowed away by the cubic yard; nor of the vast
iron tanks for fresh water in the hold, like the reservoir lakes
at Fairmount, in Philadelphia; nor of the _paint-room_, where the
kegs of white-lead, and casks of linseed oil, and all sorts of
pots and brushes, are kept; nor of the _armoror's smithy_, where
the ship's forges and anvils may be heard ringing at times; I say
I have no time to speak of these things, and many more places of note.

But there is one very extensive warehouse among the rest that
needs special mention--_the ship's Yeoman's storeroom_. In the
Neversink it was down in the ship's basement, beneath the berth-
deck, and you went to it by way of the _Fore-passage_, a very
dim, devious corridor, indeed. Entering--say at noonday--you find
yourself in a gloomy apartment, lit by a solitary lamp. On one
side are shelves, filled with balls of _marline, ratlin-stuf,
seizing-stuff, spun-yarn_, and numerous twines of assorted sizes.
In another direction you see large cases containing heaps of
articles, reminding one of a shoemaker's furnishing-store--wooden
_serving-mallets, fids, toggles_, and _heavers:_ iron _prickers_
and _marling-spikes;_ in a third quarter you see a sort of
hardware shop--shelves piled with all manner of hooks, bolts,
nails, screws, and _thimbles;_ and, in still another direction,
you see a block-maker's store, heaped up with lignum-vitae
sheeves and wheels.

Through low arches in the bulkhead beyond, you peep in upon
distant vaults and catacombs, obscurely lighted in the far end,
and showing immense coils of new ropes, and other bulky articles,
stowed in tiers, all savouring of tar.

But by far the most curious department of these mysterious store-
rooms is the armoury, where the spikes, cutlasses, pistols, and
belts, forming the arms of the boarders in time of action, are
hung against the walls, and suspended in thick rows from the
beams overhead. Here, too, are to be seen scores of Colt's patent
revolvers, which, though furnished with but one tube, multiply
the fatal bullets, as the naval cat-o'-nine-tails, with a
cannibal cruelty, in one blow nine times multiplies a culprit's
lashes; so that when a sailor is ordered one dozen lashes, the
sentence should read one hundred and eight. All these arms are
kept in the brightest order, wearing a fine polish, and may truly
be said to _reflect_ credit on the Yeoman and his mates.

Among the lower grade of officers in a man-of-war, that of Yeoman
is not the least important. His responsibilities are denoted by
his pay. While the _petty officers_, quarter-gunners, captains of
the tops, and others, receive but fifteen and eighteen dollars a
month--but little more than a mere able seamen--the Yeoman in an
American line-of-battle ship receives forty dollars, and in a
frigate thirty-five dollars per month.

He is accountable for all the articles under his charge, and on
no account must deliver a yard of twine or a ten-penny nail to
the boatswain or carpenter, unless shown a written requisition
and order from the Senior Lieutenant. The Yeoman is to be found
burrowing in his underground store-rooms all the day long, in
readiness to serve licensed customers. But in the counter, behind
which he usually stands, there is no place for a till to drop the
shillings in, which takes away not a little from the most agreeable
part of a storekeeper's duties. Nor, among the musty, old account-books
in his desk, where he registers all expenditures of his stuffs, is there
any cash or check book.

The Yeoman of the Neversink was a somewhat odd specimen of a Troglodyte.
He was a little old man, round-shouldered, bald-headed, with great
goggle-eyes, looking through portentous round spectacles, which he
called his _barnacles_. He was imbued with a wonderful zeal for the
naval service, and seemed to think that, in keeping his pistols and
cutlasses free from rust, he preserved the national honour untarnished.
After _general quarters_, it was amusing to watch his anxious air
as the various _petty officers_ restored to him the arms used at
the martial exercises of the crew. As successive bundles would be
deposited on his counter, he would count over the pistols and
cutlasses, like an old housekeeper telling over her silver forks
and spoons in a pantry before retiring for the night. And often,
with a sort of dark lantern in his hand, he might be seen poking
into his furthest vaults and cellars, and counting over his great
coils of ropes, as if they were all jolly puncheons of old Port
and Madeira.

By reason of his incessant watchfulness and unaccountable bachelor
oddities, it was very difficult for him to retain in his employment
the various sailors who, from time to time, were billeted with him
to do the duty of subalterns. In particular, he was always desirous
of having at least one steady, faultless young man, of a literary
taste, to keep an eye to his account-books, and swab out the armoury
every morning. It was an odious business this, to be immured all day
in such a bottomless hole, among tarry old ropes and villainous guns
and pistols. It was with peculiar dread that I one day noticed the
goggle-eyes of _Old Revolver_, as they called him, fastened upon me
with a fatal glance of good-will and approbation. He had somehow
heard of my being a very learned person, who could both read and write
with extraordinary facility; and moreover that I was a rather reserved
youth, who kept his modest, unassuming merits in the background. But
though, from the keen sense of my situation as a man-of-war's-man all
this about my keeping myself in the _back_ ground was true enough, yet
I had no idea of hiding my diffident merits _under_ ground. I became
alarmed at the old Yeoman's goggling glances, lest he should drag me
down into tarry perdition in his hideous store-rooms. But this fate
was providentially averted, owing to mysterious causes which I never
could fathom.



Among such a crowd of marked characters as were to be met with on
board our frigate, many of whom moved in mysterious circles beneath
the lowermost deck, and at long intervals flitted into sight like
apparitions, and disappeared again for whole weeks together, there
were some who inordinately excited my curiosity, and whose names,
callings, and precise abodes I industriously sought out, in order
to learn something satisfactory concerning them.

While engaged in these inquiries, often fruitless, or but
partially gratified, I could not but regret that there was no
public printed Directory for the Neversink, such as they have in
large towns, containing an alphabetic list of all the crew, and
where they might be found. Also, in losing myself in some remote,
dark corner of the bowels of the frigate, in the vicinity of the
various store-rooms, shops, and warehouses, I much lamented that
no enterprising tar had yet thought of compiling a _Hand-book of
the Neversink_, so that the tourist might have a reliable guide.

Indeed, there were several parts of the ship under hatches shrouded
in mystery, and completely inaccessible to the sailor.

Wondrous old doors, barred and bolted in dingy bulkheads, must have
opened into regions full of interest to a successful explorer.

They looked like the gloomy entrances to family vaults of buried
dead; and when I chanced to see some unknown functionary insert
his key, and enter these inexplicable apartments with a battle-
lantern, as if on solemn official business, I almost quaked to
dive in with him, and satisfy myself whether these vaults indeed
contained the mouldering relics of by-gone old Commodores and
Post-captains. But the habitations of the living commodore and
captain--their spacious and curtained cabins--were themselves
almost as sealed volumes, and I passed them in hopeless
wonderment, like a peasant before a prince's palace. Night and
day armed sentries guarded their sacred portals, cutlass in hand;
and had I dared to cross their path, I would infallibly have been
cut down, as if in battle. Thus, though for a period of more than
a year I was an inmate of this floating box of live-oak, yet
there were numberless things in it that, to the last, remained
wrapped in obscurity, or concerning which I could only lose
myself in vague speculations. I was as a Roman Jew of the Middle
Ages, confined to the Jews' quarter of the town, and forbidden to
stray beyond my limits. Or I was as a modern traveller in the
same famous city, forced to quit it at last without gaining
ingress to the most mysterious haunts--the innermost shrine of
the Pope, and the dungeons and cells of the Inquisition.

But among all the persons and things on board that puzzled me,
and filled me most with strange emotions of doubt, misgivings and
mystery, was the Gunner--a short, square, grim man, his hair and
beard grizzled and singed, as if with gunpowder. His skin was of
a flecky brown, like the stained barrel of a fowling-piece, and
his hollow eyes burned in his head like blue-lights. He it was
who had access to many of those mysterious vaults I have spoken
of. Often he might be seen groping his way into them, followed by
his subalterns, the old quarter-gunners, as if intent upon laying
a train of powder to blow up the ship. I remembered Guy Fawkes
and the Parliament-house, and made earnest inquiry whether this
gunner was a Roman Catholic. I felt relieved when informed that
he was not.

A little circumstance which one of his _mates_ once told me
heightened the gloomy interest with which I regarded his chief.
He told me that, at periodical intervals, his master the Gunner,
accompanied by his phalanx, entered into the great Magazine under
the Gun-room, of which he had sole custody and kept the key,
nearly as big as the key of the Bastile, and provided with
lanterns, something like Sir Humphrey Davy's Safety-lamp for coal
mines, proceeded to turn, end for end, all the kegs of powder and
packages of cartridges stored in this innermost explosive vault,
lined throughout with sheets of copper. In the vestibule of the
Magazine, against the panelling, were several pegs for slippers,
and, before penetrating further than that vestibule, every man of
the gunner's gang silently removed his shoes, for fear that the
nails in their heels might possibly create a spark, by striking
against the coppered floor within. Then, with slippered feet and
with hushed whispers, they stole into the heart of the place.

This turning of the powder was to preserve its inflammability.
And surely it was a business full of direful interest, to be
buried so deep below the sun, handling whole barrels of powder,
any one of which, touched by the smallest spark, was powerful
enough to blow up a whole street of warehouses.

The gunner went by the name of _Old Combustibles_, though I
thought this an undignified name for so momentous a personage,
who had all our lives in his hand.

While we lay in Callao, we received from shore several barrels of
powder. So soon as the _launch_ came alongside with them, orders
were given to extinguish all lights and all fires in the ship;
and the master-at-arms and his corporals inspected every deck to
see that this order was obeyed; a very prudent precaution, no
doubt, but not observed at all in the Turkish navy. The Turkish
sailors will sit on their gun-carriages, tranquilly smoking,
while kegs of powder are being rolled under their ignited pipe-
bowls. This shows the great comfort there is in the doctrine of
these Fatalists, and how such a doctrine, in some things at
least, relieves men from nervous anxieties. But we all are
Fatalists at bottom. Nor need we so much marvel at the heroism of
that army officer, who challenged his personal foe to bestride a
barrel of powder with him--the match to be placed between them--
and be blown up in good company, for it is pretty certain that
the whole earth itself is a vast hogshead, full of inflammable
materials, and which we are always bestriding; at the same time,
that all good Christians believe that at any minute the last day
may come and the terrible combustion of the entire planet ensue.

As if impressed with a befitting sense of the awfulness of his
calling, our gunner always wore a fixed expression of solemnity,
which was heightened by his grizzled hair and beard. But what
imparted such a sinister look to him, and what wrought so upon my
imagination concerning this man, was a frightful scar crossing
his left cheek and forehead. He had been almost mortally wounded,
they said, with a sabre-cut, during a frigate engagement in the
last war with Britain.

He was the most methodical, exact, and punctual of all the
forward officers. Among his other duties, it pertained to him,
while in harbour, to see that at a certain hour in the evening
one of the great guns was discharged from the forecastle, a
ceremony only observed in a flag-ship. And always at the precise
moment you might behold him blowing his match, then applying it;
and with that booming thunder in his ear, and the smell of the
powder in his hair, he retired to his hammock for the night. What
dreams he must have had!

The same precision was observed when ordered to fire a gun to
_bring to_ some ship at sea; for, true to their name, and
preserving its applicability, even in times of peace, all men-of-
war are great bullies on the high seas. They domineer over the
poor merchantmen, and with a hissing hot ball sent bowling across
the ocean, compel them to stop their headway at pleasure.

It was enough to make you a man of method for life, to see the
gunner superintending his subalterns, when preparing the main-
deck batteries for a great national salute. While lying in
harbour, intelligence reached us of the lamentable casualty that
befell certain high officers of state, including the acting
Secretary of the Navy himself, some other member of the
President's cabinet, a Commodore, and others, all engaged in
experimenting upon a new-fangled engine of war. At the same time
with the receipt of this sad news, orders arrived to fire minute-
guns for the deceased head of the naval department. Upon this
occasion the gunner was more than usually ceremonious, in seeing
that the long twenty-fours were thoroughly loaded and rammed
down, and then accurately marked with chalk, so as to be
discharged in undeviating rotation, first from the larboard side,
and then from the starboard.

But as my ears hummed, and all my bones danced in me with the
reverberating din, and my eyes and nostrils were almost
suffocated with the smoke, and when I saw this grim old gunner
firing away so solemnly, I thought it a strange mode of honouring
a man's memory who had himself been slaughtered by a cannon. Only
the smoke, that, after rolling in at the port-holes, rapidly
drifted away to leeward, and was lost to view, seemed truly
emblematical touching the personage thus honoured, since that
great non-combatant, the Bible, assures us that our life is but a
vapour, that quickly passeth away.



In men-of-war, the space on the uppermost deck, round about the
main-mast, is the Police-office, Court-house, and yard of
execution, where all charges are lodged, causes tried, and
punishment administered. In frigate phrase, to be _brought up to
the mast_, is equivalent to being presented before the grand-
jury, to see whether a true bill will be found against you.

From the merciless, inquisitorial _baiting_, which sailors,
charged with offences, too often experience _at the mast_, that
vicinity is usually known among them as the _bull-ring_.

The main-mast, moreover, is the only place where the sailor can
hold formal communication with the captain and officers. If any
one has been robbed; if any one has been evilly entreated; if any
one's character has been defamed; if any one has a request to
present; if any one has aught important for the executive of the
ship to know--straight to the main-mast he repairs; and stands
there--generally with his hat off--waiting the pleasure of the
officer of the deck, to advance and communicate with him. Often,
the most ludicrous scenes occur, and the most comical complaints
are made.

One clear, cold morning, while we were yet running away from the
Cape, a raw boned, crack-pated Down Easter, belonging to the
Waist, made his appearance at the mast, dolefully exhibiting a
blackened tin pan, bearing a few crusty traces of some sort of a
sea-pie, which had been cooked in it.

"Well, sir, what now?" said the Lieutenant of the Deck, advancing.

"They stole it, sir; all my nice _dunderfunk_, sir; they did,
sir," whined the Down Easter, ruefully holding up his pan. "Stole
your _dunderfunk!_ what's that?"

"_Dunderfunk_, sir, _dunderfunk_; a cruel nice dish as ever man
put into him."

"Speak out, sir; what's the matter?"

"My _dunderfunk_, sir--as elegant a dish of _dunderfunk_ as you
ever see, sir--they stole it, sir!"

"Go forward, you rascal!" cried the Lieutenant, in a towering
rage, "or else stop your whining. Tell me, what's the matter?"

"Why, sir, them 'ere two fellows, Dobs and Hodnose, stole my

"Once more, sir, I ask what that _dundledunk_ is? Speak!" "As
cruel a nice------"

"Be off, sir! sheer!" and muttering something about _non compos
mentis_, the Lieutenant stalked away; while the Down Easter beat
a melancholy retreat, holding up his pan like a tambourine, and
making dolorous music on it as he went.

"Where are you going with that tear in your eye, like a travelling
rat?" cried a top-man.

"Oh! he's going home to Down East," said another; "so far
eastward, you know, _shippy_, that they have to pry up the sun
with a handspike."

To make this anecdote plainer, be it said that, at sea, the
monotonous round of salt beef and pork at the messes of the
sailors--where but very few of the varieties of the season are to
be found--induces them to adopt many contrivances in order to
diversify their meals. Hence the various sea-rolls, made dishes,
and Mediterranean pies, well known by men-of-war's-men--_Scouse,
Lob-scouse, Soft-Tack, Soft-Tommy, Skillagalee, Burgoo, Dough-
boys, Lob-Dominion, Dog's-Body_, and lastly, and least known,
_Dunderfunk_; all of which come under the general denomination of

_Dunderfunk_ is made of hard biscuit, hashed and pounded, mixed
with beef fat, molasses, and water, and baked brown in a pan. And
to those who are beyond all reach of shore delicacies, this
_dunderfunk_, in the feeling language of the Down Easter, is
certainly "_a cruel nice dish_."

Now the only way that a sailor, after preparing his _dunderfunk_,
could get it cooked on board the Neversink, was by slily going to
_Old Coffee_, the ship's cook, and bribing him to put it into his
oven. And as some such dishes or other are well known to be all
the time in the oven, a set of unprincipled gourmands are
constantly on the look-out for the chance of stealing them.
Generally, two or three league together, and while one engages
_Old Coffee_ in some interesting conversation touching his wife
and family at home, another snatches the first thing he can lay
hands on in the oven, and rapidly passes it to the third man, who
at his earliest leisure disappears with it.

In this manner had the Down Easter lost his precious pie, and
afterward found the empty pan knocking about the forecastle.



If you begin the day with a laugh, you may, nevertheless, end it
with a sob and a sigh.

Among the many who were exceedingly diverted with the scene
between the Down Easter and the Lieutenant, none laughed more
heartily than John, Peter, Mark, and Antone--four sailors of the
starboard-watch. The same evening these four found themselves
prisoners in the "brig," with a sentry standing over them. They
were charged with violating a well-known law of the ship--having
been engaged in one of those tangled, general fights sometimes
occurring among sailors. They had nothing to anticipate but a
flogging, at the captain's pleasure.

Toward evening of the next day, they were startled by the dread
summons of the boatswain and his mates at the principal hatchway
--a summons that ever sends a shudder through every manly heart in
a frigate:

"_All hands witness punishment, ahoy!_"

The hoarseness of the cry, its unrelenting prolongation, its
being caught up at different points, and sent through the
lowermost depths of the ship; all this produces a most dismal
effect upon every heart not calloused by long habituation to it.

However much you may desire to absent yourself from the scene
that ensues, yet behold it you must; or, at least, stand near it
you must; for the regulations enjoin the attendance of the entire
ship's company, from the corpulent Captain himself to the
smallest boy who strikes the bell.

"_All hands witness punishment, ahoy!_"

To the sensitive seaman that summons sounds like a doom. He knows
that the same law which impels it--the same law by which the culprits
of the day must suffer; that by that very law he also is liable at any
time to be judged and condemned. And the inevitableness of his own
presence at the scene; the strong arm that drags him in view of the
scourge, and holds him there till all is over; forcing upon his loathing
eye and soul the sufferings and groans of men who have familiarly
consorted with him, eaten with him, battled out watches with him--men
of his own type and badge--all this conveys a terrible hint of the
omnipotent authority under which he lives. Indeed, to such a man the
naval summons to witness punishment carries a thrill, somewhat akin to
what we may impute to the quick and the dead, when they shall hear the
Last Trump, that is to bid them all arise in their ranks, and behold
the final penalties inflicted upon the sinners of our race.

But it must not be imagined that to all men-of-war's-men this summons
conveys such poignant emotions; but it is hard to decide whether one
should be glad or sad that this is not the case; whether it is grateful
to know that so much pain is avoided, or whether it is far sadder to
think that, either from constitutional hard-heartedness or the multiplied
searings of habit, hundreds of men-of-war's-men have been made proof
against the sense of degradation, pity, and shame.

As if in sympathy with the scene to be enacted, the sun, which the day
previous had merrily flashed upon the tin pan of the disconsolate Down
Easter, was now setting over the dreary waters, veiling itself in
vapours. The wind blew hoarsely in the cordage; the seas broke heavily
against the bows; and the frigate, staggering under whole top-sails,
strained as in agony on her way.

"_All hands witness punishment, ahoy!_"

At the summons the crew crowded round the main-mast; multitudes
eager to obtain a good place on the booms, to overlook the scene;
many laughing and chatting, others canvassing the case of the
culprits; some maintaining sad, anxious countenances, or carrying
a suppressed indignation in their eyes; a few purposely keeping
behind to avoid looking on; in short, among five hundred men,
there was every possible shade of character.

All the officers--midshipmen included--stood together in a group
on the starboard side of the main-mast; the First Lieutenant in
advance, and the surgeon, whose special duty it is to be present
at such times, standing close by his side.

Presently the Captain came forward from his cabin, and stood in
the centre of this solemn group, with a small paper in his hand.
That paper was the daily report of offences, regularly laid upon
his table every morning or evening, like the day's journal placed
by a bachelor's napkin at breakfast.

"Master-at-arms, bring up the prisoners," he said.

A few moments elapsed, during which the Captain, now clothed in
his most dreadful attributes, fixed his eyes severely upon the
crew, when suddenly a lane formed through the crowd of seamen,
and the prisoners advanced--the master-at-arms, rattan in hand,
on one side, and an armed marine on the other--and took up their
stations at the mast.

"You John, you Peter, you Mark, you Antone," said the Captain,
"were yesterday found fighting on the gun-deck. Have you anything
to say?"

Mark and Antone, two steady, middle-aged men, whom I had often
admired for their sobriety, replied that they did not strike the
first blow; that they had submitted to much before they had
yielded to their passions; but as they acknowledged that they had
at last defended themselves, their excuse was overruled.

John--a brutal bully, who, it seems, was the real author of the
disturbance--was about entering into a long extenuation, when he
was cut short by being made to confess, irrespective of
circumstances, that he had been in the fray.

Peter, a handsome lad about nineteen years old, belonging to the
mizzen-top, looked pale and tremulous. He was a great favourite
in his part of the ship, and especially in his own mess,
principally composed of lads of his own age. That morning two of
his young mess-mates had gone to his bag, taken out his best
clothes, and, obtaining the permission of the marine sentry at
the "brig," had handed them to him, to be put on against being
summoned to the mast. This was done to propitiate the Captain, as
most captains love to see a tidy sailor. But it would not do. To
all his supplications the Captain turned a deaf ear. Peter
declared that he had been struck twice before he had returned a
blow. "No matter," said the Captain, "you struck at last, instead
of reporting the case to an officer. I allow no man to fight on
board here but myself. I do the fighting."

"Now, men," he added, "you all admit the charge; you know the
penalty. Strip! Quarter-masters, are the gratings rigged?"

The gratings are square frames of barred wood-work, sometimes
placed over the hatchways. One of these squares was now laid on
the deck, close to the ship's bulwarks, and while the remaining
preparations were being made, the master-at-arms assisted the
prisoners in removing their jackets and shirts. This done, their
shirts were loosely thrown over their shoulders.

At a sign from the Captain, John, with a shameless leer,
advanced, and stood passively upon the grating, while the bare-
headed old quarter-master, with grey hair streaming in the wind,
bound his feet to the cross-bars, and, stretching out his arms
over his head, secured them to the hammock-nettings above. He
then retreated a little space, standing silent.

Meanwhile, the boatswain stood solemnly on the other side, with a
green bag in his hand, from which, taking four instruments of
punishment, he gave one to each of his mates; for a fresh "cat"
applied by a fresh hand, is the ceremonious privilege accorded to
every man-of-war culprit.

At another sign from the Captain, the master-at-arms, stepping
up, removed the shirt from the prisoner. At this juncture a wave
broke against the ship's side, and clashed the spray over his
exposed back. But though the air was piercing cold, and the water
drenched him, John stood still, without a shudder.

The Captain's finger was now lifted, and the first boatswain's-
mate advanced, combing out the nine tails of his _cat_ with his
hand, and then, sweeping them round his neck, brought them with
the whole force of his body upon the mark. Again, and again, and
again; and at every blow, higher and higher rose the long, purple
bars on the prisoner's back. But he only bowed over his head, and
stood still. Meantime, some of the crew whispered among themselves
in applause of their ship-mate's nerve; but the greater part were
breathlessly silent as the keen scourge hissed through the wintry
air, and fell with a cutting, wiry sound upon the mark. One dozen
lashes being applied, the man was taken down, and went among the
crew with a smile, saying, "D----n me! it's nothing when you're
used to it! Who wants to fight?"

The next was Antone, the Portuguese. At every blow he surged from
side to side, pouring out a torrent of involuntary blasphemies.
Never before had he been heard to curse. When cut down, he went
among the men, swearing to have the life of the Captain. Of
course, this was unheard by the officers.

Mark, the third prisoner, only cringed and coughed under his
punishment. He had some pulmonary complaint. He was off duty for
several days after the flogging; but this was partly to be
imputed to his extreme mental misery. It was his first scourging,
and he felt the insult more than the injury. He became silent and
sullen for the rest of the cruise.

The fourth and last was Peter, the mizzen-top lad. He had often
boasted that he had never been degraded at the gangway. The day
before his cheek had worn its usual red but now no ghost was
whiter. As he was being secured to the gratings, and the
shudderings and creepings of his dazlingly white back were
revealed, he turned round his head imploringly; but his weeping
entreaties and vows of contrition were of no avail. "I would not
forgive God Almighty!" cried the Captain. The fourth boatswain's-
mate advanced, and at the first blow, the boy, shouting "_My God!
Oh! my God!_" writhed and leaped so as to displace the gratings,
and scatter the nine tails of the scourge all over his person. At
the next blow he howled, leaped, and raged in unendurable torture.

"What are you stopping for, boatswain's-mate?" cried the Captain.
"Lay on!" and the whole dozen was applied.

"I don't care what happens to me now!" wept Peter, going among
the crew, with blood-shot eyes, as he put on his shirt. "I have
been flogged once, and they may do it again, if they will. Let
them look for me now!"

"Pipe down!" cried the Captain, and the crew slowly dispersed.

Let us have the charity to believe them--as we do--when some
Captains in the Navy say, that the thing of all others most
repulsive to them, in the routine of what they consider their
duty, is the administration of corporal punishment upon the crew;
for, surely, not to feel scarified to the quick at these scenes
would argue a man but a beast.

You see a human being, stripped like a slave; scourged worse than
a hound. And for what? For things not essentially criminal, but
only made so by arbitrary laws.



There are incidental considerations touching this matter of
flogging, which exaggerate the evil into a great enormity. Many
illustrations might be given, but let us be content with a few.

One of the arguments advanced by officers of the Navy in favour
of corporal punishment is this: it can be inflicted in a moment;
it consumes no valuable time; and when the prisoner's shirt is
put on, _that_ is the last of it. Whereas, if another punishment
were substituted, it would probably occasion a great waste of
time and trouble, besides thereby begetting in the sailor an
undue idea of his importance.

Absurd, or worse than absurd, as it may appear, all this is true;
and if you start from the same premises with these officers, you,
must admit that they advance an irresistible argument. But in
accordance with this principle, captains in the Navy, to a
certain extent, inflict the scourge--which is ever at hand--for
nearly all degrees of transgression. In offences not cognisable
by a court-martial, little, if any, discrimination is shown. It
is of a piece with the penal laws that prevailed in England some
sixty years ago, when one hundred and sixty different offences
were declared by the statute-book to be capital, and the servant-
maid who but pilfered a watch was hung beside the murderer of a

It is one of the most common punishments for very trivial
offences in the Navy, to "stop" a seaman's _grog_ for a day or a
week. And as most seamen so cling to their _grog_, the loss of it
is generally deemed by them a very serious penalty. You will
sometimes hear them say, "I would rather have my wind _stopped_
than _my grog!_"

But there are some sober seamen that would much rather draw the
money for it, instead of the grog itself, as provided by law; but
they are too often deterred from this by the thought of receiving
a scourging for some inconsiderable offence, as a substitute for
the stopping of their spirits. This is a most serious obstacle to
the cause of temperance in the Navy. But, in many cases, even the
reluctant drawing of his grog cannot exempt a prudent seaman from
ignominy; for besides the formal administering of the "_cat_" at
the gangway for petty offences, he is liable to the "colt," or
rope's-end, a bit of _ratlin-stuff_, indiscriminately applied--
without stripping the victim--at any time, and in any part of the
ship, at the merest wink from the Captain. By an express order of
that officer, most boatswain's mates carry the "colt" coiled in
their hats, in readiness to be administered at a minute's warning
upon any offender. This was the custom in the Neversink. And
until so recent a period as the administration of President Polk,
when the historian Bancroft, Secretary of the Navy, officially
interposed, it was an almost universal thing for the officers of
the watch, at their own discretion, to inflict chastisement upon
a sailor, and this, too, in the face of the ordinance restricting
the power of flogging solely to Captains and Courts Martial. Nor
was it a thing unknown for a Lieutenant, in a sudden outburst of
passion, perhaps inflamed by brandy, or smarting under the sense
of being disliked or hated by the seamen, to order a whole watch
of two hundred and fifty men, at dead of night, to undergo the
indignity of the "colt."

It is believed that, even at the present day, there are instances
of Commanders still violating the law, by delegating the power of
the colt to subordinates. At all events, it is certain that, almost
to a man, the Lieutenants in the Navy bitterly rail against the
officiousness of Bancroft,  in so materially abridging their usurped
functions by snatching the colt from their hands. At the time, they
predicted that this rash and most ill-judged interference of the
Secretary would end in the breaking up of all discipline in the Navy.
But it has not so proved. These officers _now_ predict that, if the
"cat" be abolished, the same unfulfilled prediction would be verified.

Concerning the license with which many captains violate the express
laws laid down by Congress for the government of the Navy, a glaring
instance may be quoted. For upward of forty years there has been on
the American Statute-book a law prohibiting a captain from inflicting,
on his own authority, more than twelve lashes at one time. If more are
to be given, the sentence must be passed by a Court-martial. Yet, for
nearly half a century, this law has been frequently, and with almost
perfect impunity, set at naught: though of late, through the exertions
of Bancroft and others, it has been much better observed than formerly;
indeed, at the present day, it is generally respected. Still, while
the Neversink was lying in a South American port, on the cruise now
written of, the seamen belonging to another American frigate informed
us that their captain sometimes inflicted, upon his own authority,
eighteen and twenty lashes. It is worth while to state that this
frigate was vastly admired by the shore ladies for her wonderfully
neat appearance. One of her forecastle-men told me that he had used up
three jack-knives (charged to him on the books of the purser) in
scraping the belaying-pins and the combings of the hatchways.

It is singular that while the Lieutenants of the watch in American
men-of-war so long usurped the power of inflicting corporal punishment
with the _colt_, few or no similar abuses were known in the English
Navy. And though the captain of an English armed ship is authorised
to inflict, at his own discretion, _more_ than a dozen lashes
(I think three dozen), yet it is to be doubted whether, upon the
whole, there is as much flogging at present in the English Navy as in
the American. The chivalric Virginian, John Randolph of Roanoke,
declared, in his place in Congress, that on board of the American
man-of-war that carried him out Ambassador to Russia he had witnessed
more flogging than had taken place on his own plantation of five
hundred African slaves in ten years. Certain it is, from what I
have personally seen, that the English officers, as a general thing,
seem to be less disliked by their crews than the American officers
by theirs. The reason probably is, that many of them, from their
station in life, have been more accustomed to social command;
hence, quarter-deck authority sits more naturally on them. A coarse,
vulgar man, who happens to rise to high naval rank by the exhibition
of talents not incompatible with vulgarity, invariably proves a tyrant
to his crew. It is a thing that American men-of-war's-men have often
observed, that the Lieutenants from the Southern States, the descendants
of the old Virginians, are much less severe, and much more gentle and
gentlemanly in command, than the Northern officers, as a class.

According to the present laws and usages of the Navy, a seaman,
for the most trivial alleged offences, of which he may be
entirely innocent, must, without a trial, undergo a penalty the
traces whereof he carries to the grave; for to a man-of-war's-
man's experienced eye the marks of a naval scourging with the
"_cat_" are through life discernible. And with these marks on his
back, this image of his Creator must rise at the Last Day. Yet so
untouchable is true dignity, that there are cases wherein to be
flogged at the gangway is no dishonour; though, to abase and hurl
down the last pride of some sailor who has piqued him, be some-
times the secret motive, with some malicious officer, in
procuring him to be condemned to the lash. But this feeling of
the innate dignity remaining untouched, though outwardly the body
be scarred for the whole term of the natural life, is one of the
hushed things, buried among the holiest privacies of the soul; a
thing between a man's God and himself; and for ever undiscernible
by our fellow-men, who account _that_ a degradation which seems
so to the corporal eye. But what torments must that seaman
undergo who, while his back bleeds at the gangway, bleeds
agonized drops of shame from his soul! Are we not justified in
immeasurably denouncing this thing? Join hands with me, then;
and, in the name of that Being in whose image the flogged sailor
is made, let us demand of Legislators, by what right they dare
profane what God himself accounts sacred.

Is it lawful for you to scourge a man that is a Roman? asks the
intrepid Apostle, well knowing, as a Roman citizen, that it was
not. And now, eighteen hundred years after, is it lawful for you,
my countrymen, to scourge a man that is an American? to scourge
him round the world in your frigates?

It is to no purpose that you apologetically appeal to the general
depravity of the man-of-war's-man. Depravity in the oppressed is
no apology for the oppressor; but rather an additional stigma to
him, as being, in a large degree, the effect, and not the cause
and justification of oppression.



It is next to idle, at the present day, merely to denounce an
iniquity. Be ours, then, a different task.

If there are any three things opposed to the genius of the
American Constitution, they are these: irresponsibility in a
judge, unlimited discretionary authority in an executive, and the
union of an irresponsible judge and an unlimited executive in one

Yet by virtue of an enactment of Congress, all the Commodores in
the American navy are obnoxious to these three charges, so far as
concerns the punishment of the sailor for alleged misdemeanors
not particularly set forth in the Articles of War.

Here is the enactment in question.

XXXII. _Of the Articles of War_.--"All crimes committed by
persons belonging to the Navy, which are not specified in the
foregoing articles, shall be punished according to the laws and
customs in such cases at sea."

This is the article that, above all others, puts the scourge into
the hands of the Captain, calls him to no account for its
exercise, and furnishes him with an ample warrant for inflictions
of cruelty upon the common sailor, hardly credible to landsmen.

By this article the Captain is made a legislator, as well as a
judge and an executive. So far as it goes, it absolutely leaves
to his discretion to decide what things shall be considered
crimes, and what shall be the penalty; whether an accused person
has been guilty of actions by him declared to be crimes; and how,
when, and where the penalty shall be inflicted.

In the American Navy there is an everlasting suspension of the
Habeas Corpus. Upon the bare allegation of misconduct there is no
law to restrain the Captain from imprisoning a seaman, and
keeping him confined at his pleasure. While I was in the
Neversink, the Captain of an American sloop of war, from
undoubted motives of personal pique, kept a seaman confined in
the brig for upward of a month.

Certainly the necessities of navies warrant a code for their
government more stringent than the law that governs the land; but
that code should conform to the spirit of the political
institutions of the country that ordains it. It should not
convert into slaves some of the citizens of a nation of free-men.
Such objections cannot be urged against the laws of the Russian
navy (not essentially different from our own), because the laws
of that navy, creating the absolute one-man power in the Captain,
and vesting in him the authority to scourge, conform in spirit to
the territorial laws of Russia, which is ruled by an autocrat,
and whose courts inflict the _knout_ upon the subjects of the
land. But with us it is different. Our institutions claim to be
based upon broad principles of political liberty and equality.
Whereas, it would hardly affect one iota the condition on
shipboard of an American man-of-war's-man, were he transferred to
the Russian navy and made a subject of the Czar.

As a sailor, he shares none of our civil immunities; the law of
our soil in no respect accompanies the national floating timbers
grown thereon, and to which he clings as his home. For him our
Revolution was in vain; to him our Declaration of Independence is
a lie.

It is not sufficiently borne in mind, perhaps, that though the
naval code comes under the head of the martial law, yet, in time
of peace, and in the thousand questions arising between man and
man on board ship, this code, to a certain extent, may not
improperly be deemed municipal. With its crew of 800 or 1,000
men, a three-decker is a city on the sea. But in most of these
matters between man and man, the Captain instead of being a
magistrate, dispensing what the law promulgates, is an absolute
ruler, making and unmaking law as he pleases.

It will be seen that the XXth of the Articles of War provides,
that if any person in the Navy negligently perform the duties
assigned him, he shall suffer such punishment as a court-martial
shall adjudge; but if the offender be a private (common sailor)
he may, at the discretion of the Captain, be put in irons or
flogged. It is needless to say, that in cases where an officer
commits a trivial violation of this law, a court-martial is
seldom or never called to sit upon his trial; but in the sailor's
case, he is at once condemned to the lash. Thus, one set of sea-
citizens is exempted from a law that is hung in terror over
others. What would landsmen think, were the State of New York to
pass a law against some offence, affixing a fine as a penalty,
and then add to that law a section restricting its penal
operation to mechanics and day laborers, exempting all gentlemen
with an income of one thousand dollars? Yet thus, in the spirit
of its practical operation, even thus, stands a good part of the
naval laws wherein naval flogging is involved.

But a law should be "universal," and include in its possible
penal operations the very judge himself who gives decisions upon
it; nay, the very judge who expounds it. Had Sir William
Blackstone violated the laws of England, he would have been
brought before the bar over which he had presided, and would
there have been tried, with the counsel for the crown reading to
him, perhaps, from a copy of his own _Commentaries_. And should
he have been found guilty, he would have suffered like the
meanest subject, "according to law."

How is it in an American frigate? Let one example suffice. By the
Articles of War, and especially by Article I., an American
Captain may, and frequently does, inflict a severe and degrading
punishment upon a sailor, while he himself is for ever removed
from the possibility of undergoing the like disgrace; and, in all
probability, from undergoing any punishment whatever, even if
guilty of the same thing--contention with his equals, for
instance--for which he punishes another. Yet both sailor and
captain are American citizens.

Now, in the language of Blackstone, again, there is a law,
"coeval with mankind, dictated by God himself, superior in
obligation to any other, and no human laws are of any validity if
contrary to this." That law is the Law of Nature; among the three
great principles of which Justinian includes "that to every man
should be rendered his due." But we have seen that the laws
involving flogging in the Navy do _not_ render to every man his
due, since in some cases they indirectly exclude the officers
from any punishment whatever, and in all cases protect them from
the scourge, which is inflicted upon the sailor. Therefore,
according to Blackstone and Justinian, those laws have no binding
force; and every American man-of-war's-man would be morally
justified in resisting the scourge to the uttermost; and, in so
resisting, would be religiously justified in what would be
judicially styled "the act of mutiny" itself.

If, then, these scourging laws be for any reason necessary, make
them binding upon all who of right come under their sway; and let
us see an honest Commodore, duly authorised by Congress,
condemning to the lash a transgressing Captain by the side of a
transgressing sailor. And if the Commodore himself prove a
transgressor, let us see one of his brother Commodores take up
the lash against _him_, even as the boatswain's mates, the navy
executioners, are often called upon to scourge each other.

Or will you say that a navy officer is a man, but that an
American-born citizen, whose grandsire may have ennobled him by
pouring out his blood at Bunker Hill--will you say that, by
entering the service of his country as a common seaman, and
standing ready to fight her foes, he thereby loses his manhood at
the very time he most asserts it? Will you say that, by so doing,
he degrades himself to the liability of the scourge, but if he
tarries ashore in time of danger, he is safe from that indignity?
All our linked states, all four continents of mankind, unite in
denouncing such a thought.

We plant the question, then, on the topmost argument of all.
Irrespective of incidental considerations, we assert that
flogging in the navy is opposed to the essential dignity, of man,
which no legislator has a right to violate; that it is oppressive,
and glaringly unequal in its operations; that it is utterly
repugnant to the spirit of our democratic institutions; indeed,
that it involves a lingering trait of the worst times of a barbarous
feudal aristocracy; in a word, we denounce it as religiously, morally,
and immutably _wrong_.

No matter, then, what may be the consequences of its abolition; no
matter if we have to dismantle our fleets, and our unprotected
commerce should fall a prey to the spoiler, the awful admonitions of
justice and humanity demand that abolition without procrastination;
in a voice that is not to be mistaken, demand that abolition today.
It is not a dollar-and-cent question of expediency; it is a matter
of _right and wrong_. And if any man can lay his hand on his heart,
and solemnly say that this scourging is right, let that man but once
feel the lash on his own back, and in his agony you will hear the
apostate call the seventh heavens to witness that it is _wrong_.
And, in the name of immortal manhood, would to God that every man
who upholds this thing were scourged at the gangway till he recanted.



But White-Jacket is ready to come down from the lofty mast-head of an
eternal principle, and fight you--Commodores and Captains of the navy
--on your own quarter-deck, with your own weapons, at your own paces.

Exempt yourselves from the lash, you take Bible oaths to it that
it is indispensable for others; you swear that, without the lash,
no armed ship can be kept in suitable discipline. Be it proved to
you, officers, and stamped upon your foreheads, that herein you
are utterly wrong.

"Send them to Collingwood," said Lord Nelson, "and _he_ will
bring them to order." This was the language of that renowned
Admiral, when his officers reported to him certain seamen of the
fleet as wholly ungovernable. "Send them to Collingwood." And who
was Collingwood, that, after these navy rebels had been
imprisoned and scourged without being brought to order,
Collingwood could convert them to docility?

Who Admiral Colllngwood was, as an historical hero, history
herself will tell you; nor, in whatever triumphal hall they may
be hanging, will the captured flags of Trafalgar fail to rustle
at the mention of that name. But what Collingwood was as a
disciplinarian on board the ships he commanded perhaps needs to
be said. He was an officer, then, who held in abhorrence all
corporal punishment; who, though seeing more active service than
any sea-officer of his time, yet, for years together, governed
his men without inflicting the lash.

But these seaman of his must have been most exemplary saints to
have proved docile under so lenient a sway. Were they saints?
Answer, ye jails and alms-houses throughout the length and
breadth of Great Britain, which, in Collingwood's time, were
swept clean of the last lingering villain and pauper to man his
majesty's fleets.

Still more, _that_ was a period when the uttermost resources of
England were taxed to the quick; when the masts of her multiplied
fleets almost transplanted her forests, all standing to the sea;
when British press-gangs not only boarded foreign ships on the
high seas, and boarded foreign pier-heads, but boarded their own
merchantmen at the mouth of the Thames, and boarded the very
fire-sides along its banks; when Englishmen were knocked down and
dragged into the navy, like cattle into the slaughter-house, with
every mortal provocation to a mad desperation against the service
that thus ran their unwilling heads into the muzzles of the
enemy's cannon. _This_ was the time, and _these_ the men that
Collingwood governed without the lash.

I know it has been said that Lord Collingwood began by inflicting
severe punishments, and afterward ruling his sailors by the mere
memory of a by-gone terror, which he could at pleasure revive;
and that his sailors knew this, and hence their good behaviour
under a lenient sway. But, granting the quoted assertion to be
true, how comes it that many American Captains, who, after
inflicting as severe punishment as ever Collingwood could have
authorized--how comes it that _they_, also, have not been able to
maintain good order without subsequent floggings, after once
showing to the crew with what terrible attributes they were
invested? But it is notorious, and a thing that I myself, in
several instances, _know_ to have been the case, that in the
American navy, where corporal punishment has been most severe, it
has also been most frequent.

But it is incredible that, with such crews as Lord Collingwood's
--composed, in part, of the most desperate characters, the rakings
of the jails--it is incredible that such a set of men could have
been governed by the mere _memory_ of the lash. Some other
influence must have been brought to bear; mainly, no doubt, the
influence wrought by a powerful brain, and a determined, intrepid
spirit over a miscellaneous rabble.

It is well known that Lord Nelson himself, in point of policy,
was averse to flogging; and that, too, when he had witnessed the
mutinous effects of government abuses in the navy--unknown in our
times--and which, to the terror of all England, developed
themselves at the great mutiny of the Nore: an outbreak that for
several weeks jeopardised the very existence of the British navy.

But we may press this thing nearly two centuries further back,
for it is a matter of historical doubt whether, in Robert Blake's
time, Cromwell's great admiral, such a thing as flogging was
known at the gangways of his victorious fleets. And as in this
matter we cannot go further back than to Blake, so we cannot
advance further than to our own time, which shows Commodore
Stockton, during the recent war with Mexico, governing the
American squadron in the Pacific without employing the scourge.

But if of three famous English Admirals one has abhorred
flogging, another almost governed his ships without it, and to
the third it may be supposed to have been unknown, while an
American Commander has, within the present year almost, been
enabled to sustain the good discipline of an entire squadron in
time of war without having an instrument of scourging on board,
what inevitable inferences must be drawn, and how disastrous to
the mental character of all advocates of navy flogging, who may
happen to be navy officers themselves.

It cannot have escaped the discernment of any observer of
mankind, that, in the presence of its conventional inferiors,
conscious imbecility in power often seeks to carry off that
imbecility by assumptions of lordly severity. The amount of
flogging on board an American man-of-war is, in many cases, in
exact proportion to the professional and intellectual incapacity
of her officers to command. Thus, in these cases, the law that
authorises flogging does but put a scourge into the hand of a
fool. In most calamitous instances this has been shown.

It is a matter of record, that some English ships of war have
fallen a prey to the enemy through the insubordination of the
crew, induced by the witless cruelty of their officers; officers
so armed by the law that they could inflict that cruelty without
restraint. Nor have there been wanting instances where the seamen
have ran away with their ships, as in the case of the Hermione and
Danae, and forever rid themselves of the outrageous inflictions of
their officers by sacrificing their lives to their fury.

Events like these aroused the attention of the British public at the
time. But it was a tender theme, the public agitation of which the
government was anxious to suppress. Nevertheless, whenever the thing
was privately discussed, these terrific mutinies, together with the
then prevailing insubordination of the men in the navy, were almost
universally attributed to the exasperating system of flogging. And the
necessity for flogging was generally believed to be directly referable
to the impressment of such crowds of dissatisfied men. And in high
quarters it was held that if, by any mode, the English fleet could be
manned without resource to coercive measures, then the necessity of
flogging would cease.

"If we abolish either impressment or flogging, the abolition of the
other will follow as a matter of course." This was the language of
the _Edinburgh Review_, at a still later period, 1824.

If, then, the necessity of flogging in the British armed marine
was solely attributed to the impressment of the seamen, what
faintest shadow of reason is there for the continuance of this
barbarity in the American service, which is wholly freed from the
reproach of impressment?

It is true that, during a long period of non-impressment, and
even down to the present day, flogging has been, and still is,
the law of the English navy. But in things of this kind England
should be nothing to us, except an example to be shunned. Nor
should wise legislators wholly govern themselves by precedents,
and conclude that, since scourging has so long prevailed, some
virtue must reside in it. Not so. The world has arrived at a
period which renders it the part of Wisdom to pay homage to the
prospective precedents of the Future in preference to those of
the Past. The Past is dead, and has no resurrection; but the
Future is endowed with such a life, that it lives to us even in
anticipation. The Past is, in many things, the foe of mankind;
the Future is, in all things, our friend. In the Past is no hope;
the Future is both hope and fruition. The Past is the text-book
of tyrants; the Future the Bible of the Free. Those who are
solely governed by the Past stand like Lot's wife, crystallised
in the act of looking backward, and forever incapable of looking

Let us leave the Past, then, to dictate laws to immovable China;
let us abandon it to the Chinese Legitimists of Europe. But for
us, we will have another captain to rule over us--that captain
who ever marches at the head of his troop and beckons them
forward, not lingering in the rear, and impeding their march with
lumbering baggage-wagons of old precedents. _This_ is the Past.

But in many things we Americans are driven to a rejection of the
maxims of the Past, seeing that, ere long, the van of the nations
must, of right, belong to ourselves. There are occasions when it
is for America to make precedents, and not to obey them. We
should, if possible, prove a teacher to posterity, instead of
being the pupil of by-gone generations. More shall come after us
than have gone before; the world is not yet middle-aged.

Escaped from the house of bondage, Israel of old did not follow
after the ways of the Egyptians. To her was given an express
dispensation; to her were given new things under the sun. And we
Americans are the peculiar, chosen people--the Israel of our
time; we bear the ark of the liberties of the world. Seventy
years ago we escaped from thrall; and, besides our first
birthright--embracing one continent of earth--God has given to
us, for a future inheritance, the broad domains of the political
pagans, that shall yet come and lie down under the shade of our
ark, without bloody hands being lifted. God has predestinated,
mankind expects, great things from our race; and great things we
feel in our souls. The rest of the nations must soon be in our
rear. We are the pioneers of the world; the advance-guard, sent
on through the wilderness of untried things, to break a new path
in the New World that is ours. In our youth is our strength; in
our inexperience, our wisdom. At a period when other nations have
but lisped, our deep voice is heard afar. Long enough, have we
been skeptics with regard to ourselves, and doubted whether,
indeed, the political Messiah had come. But he has come in us, if
we would but give utterance to his promptings. And let us always
remember that with ourselves, almost for the first time in the
history of earth, national selfishness is unbounded philanthropy;
for we can not do a good to America but we give alms to the world.



We had just slid into pleasant weather, drawing near to the
Tropics, when all hands were thrown into a wonderful excitement
by an event that eloquently appealed to many palates.

A man at the fore-top-sail-yard sung out that there were eight or
ten dark objects floating on the sea, some three points off our

"Keep her off three points!" cried Captain Claret, to the
quarter-master at the _cun_.

And thus, with all our batteries, store-rooms, and five hundred
men, with their baggage, and beds, and provisions, at one move of
a round bit of mahogany, our great-embattled ark edged away for
the strangers, as easily as a boy turns to the right or left in
pursuit of insects in the field.

Directly the man on the top-sail-yard reported the dark objects
to be hogsheads. Instantly all the top-men were straining their
eyes, in delirious expectation of having their long _grog fast_
broken at last, and that, too, by what seemed an almost
miraculous intervention. It was a curious circumstance that,
without knowing the contents of the hogsheads, they yet seemed
certain that the staves encompassed the thing they longed for.

Sail was now shortened, our headway was stopped, and a cutter was
lowered, with orders to tow the fleet of strangers alongside. The
men sprang to their oars with a will, and soon five goodly
puncheons lay wallowing in the sea, just under the main-chains.
We got overboard the slings, and hoisted them out of the water.

It was a sight that Bacchus and his bacchanals would have gloated
over. Each puncheon was of a deep-green color, so covered with
minute barnacles and shell-fish, and streaming with sea-weed,
that it needed long searching to find out their bung-holes; they
looked like venerable old _loggerhead-turtles._ How long they had
been tossing about, and making voyages for the benefit of the
flavour of their contents, no one could tell. In trying to raft
them ashore, or on board of some merchant-ship, they must have
drifted off to sea. This we inferred from the ropes that length-
wise united them, and which, from one point of view, made them
resemble a long sea-serpent. They were _struck_ into the gun-
deck, where, the eager crowd being kept off by sentries, the
cooper was called with his tools.

"Bung up, and bilge free!" he cried, in an ecstasy, flourishing
his driver and hammer.

Upon clearing away the barnacles and moss, a flat sort of shell-
fish was found, closely adhering, like a California-shell, right
over one of the bungs. Doubtless this shell-fish had there taken
up his quarters, and thrown his own body into the breach, in
order the better to preserve the precious contents of the cask.
The by-standers were breathless, when at last this puncheon was
canted over and a tin-pot held to the orifice. What was to come
forth? salt-water or wine? But a rich purple tide soon settled
the question, and the lieutenant assigned to taste it, with a
loud and satisfactory smack of his lips, pronounced it Port!

"Oporto!" cried Mad Jack, "and no mistake!"

But, to the surprise, grief, and consternation of the sailors, an
order now came from the quarter-deck to strike the "strangers
down into the main-hold!" This proceeding occasioned all sorts of
censorious observations upon the Captain, who, of course, had
authorised it.

It must be related here that, on the passage out from home, the
Neversink had touched at Madeira; and there, as is often the case
with men-of-war, the Commodore and Captain had laid in a goodly
stock of wines for their own private tables, and the benefit of
their foreign visitors. And although the Commodore was a small,
spare man, who evidently emptied but few glasses, yet Captain
Claret was a portly gentleman, with a crimson face, whose father
had fought at the battle of the Brandywine, and whose brother had
commanded the well-known frigate named in honour of that
engagement. And his whole appearance evinced that Captain Claret
himself had fought many Brandywine battles ashore in honour of
his sire's memory, and commanded in many bloodless Brandywine
actions at sea.

It was therefore with some savour of provocation that the sailors
held forth on the ungenerous conduct of Captain Claret, in
stepping in between them and Providence, as it were, which by
this lucky windfall, they held, seemed bent upon relieving their
necessities; while Captain Claret himself, with an inexhaustible
cellar, emptied his Madeira decanters at his leisure.

But next day all hands were electrified by the old familiar
sound--so long hushed--of the drum rolling to grog.

After that the port was served out twice a day, till all was



The next day was Sunday; a fact set down in the almanac, spite of
merchant seamen's maxim, that _there are no Sundays of soundings_.

_No Sundays off soundings, _indeed! No Sundays on shipboard! You
may as well say there should be no Sundays in churches; for is
not a ship modeled after a church? has it not three spires--three
steeples? yea, and on the gun-deck, a bell and a belfry? And does
not that bell merrily peal every Sunday morning, to summon the
crew to devotions?

At any rate, there were Sundays on board this particular frigate
of ours, and a clergyman also. He was a slender, middle-aged man,
of an amiable deportment and irreproachable conversation; but I
must say, that his sermons were but ill calculated to benefit the
crew. He had drank at the mystic fountain of Plato; his head had
been turned by the Germans; and this I will say, that White-Jacket
himself saw him with Coleridge's Biographia Literaria in his hand.

Fancy, now, this transcendental divine standing behind a gun-carriage
on the main-deck, and addressing five hundred salt-sea sinners upon the
psychological phenomena of the soul, and the ontological necessity of
every sailor's saving it at all hazards. He enlarged upon the follies
of the ancient philosophers; learnedly alluded to the Phiedon of Plato;
exposed the follies of Simplicius's Commentary on Aristotle's "De Coelo,"
by arraying against that clever Pagan author the admired tract of
Tertullian--_De Prascriptionibus Haereticorum_--and concluded by a
Sanscrit invocation. He was particularly hard upon the Gnostics and
Marcionites of the second century of the Christian era; but he never,
in the remotest manner, attacked the everyday vices of the nineteenth
century, as eminently illustrated in our man-of-war world. Concerning
drunkenness, fighting, flogging, and oppression--things expressly or
impliedly prohibited by Christianity--he never said aught. But the most
mighty Commodore and Captain sat before him; and in general, if, in a
monarchy, the state form the audience of the church, little evangelical
piety will be preached. Hence, the harmless, non-committal abstrusities
of our Chaplain were not to be wondered at. He was no Massillon, to
thunder forth his ecclesiastical rhetoric, even when a Louis le Grand was
enthroned among his congregation. Nor did the chaplains who preached on
the quarter-deck of Lord Nelson ever allude to the guilty Felix, nor to
Delilah, nor practically reason of righteousness, temperance, and judgment
 to come, when that renowned Admiral sat, sword-belted, before them.

During these Sunday discourses, the officers always sat in a circle round
the Chaplain, and, with a business-like air, steadily preserved the
utmost propriety. In particular, our old Commodore himself made a point
of looking intensely edified; and not a sailor on board but believed
that the Commodore, being the greatest man present, must alone comprehend
the mystic sentences that fell from our parson's lips.

Of all the noble lords in the ward-room, this lord-spiritual, with the
exception of the Purser, was in the highest favour with the Commodore,
who frequently conversed with him in a close and confidential manner.
Nor, upon reflection, was this to be marvelled at, seeing how
efficacious, in all despotic governments, it is for the throne and altar
to go hand-in-hand.

The accommodations of our chapel were very poor. We had nothing
to sit on but the great gun-rammers and capstan-bars, placed
horizontally upon shot-boxes. These seats were exceedingly
uncomfortable, wearing out our trowsers and our tempers, and, no
doubt, impeded the con-version of many valuable souls.

To say the truth, men-of-war's-men, in general, make but poor
auditors upon these occasions, and adopt every possible means to
elude them. Often the boatswain's-mates were obliged to drive the
men to service, violently swearing upon these occasions, as upon
every other.

"Go to prayers, d----n you! To prayers, you rascals--to prayers!"
In this clerical invitation Captain Claret would frequently unite.

At this Jack Chase would sometimes make merry. "Come, boys, don't
hang back," he would say; "come, let us go hear the parson talk
about his Lord High Admiral Plato, and Commodore Socrates."

But, in one instance, grave exception was taken to this summons.
A remarkably serious, but bigoted seaman, a sheet-anchor-man--
whose private devotions may hereafter be alluded to--once touched
his hat to the Captain, and respectfully said, "Sir, I am a
Baptist; the chaplain is an Episcopalian; his form of worship is
not mine; I do not believe with him, and it is against my
conscience to be under his ministry. May I be allowed, sir, _not_
to attend service on the half-deck?"

"You will be allowed, sir!" said the Captain, haughtily, "to obey
the laws of the ship. If you absent yourself from prayers on
Sunday mornings, you know the penalty."

According to the Articles of War, the Captaln was perfectly
right; but if any law requiring an American to attend divine
service against his will be a law respecting the establishment of
religion, then the Articles of War are, in this one particular,
opposed to the American Constitution, which expressly says,
"Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of
religion, or the free exercise thereof." But this is only one of
several things in which the Articles of War are repugnant to that
instrument. They will be glanced at in another part of the narrative.

The motive which prompts the introduction of chaplains into the
Navy cannot but be warmly responded to by every Christian. But it
does not follow, that because chaplains are to be found in men-
of-war, that, under the present system, they achieve much good,
or that, under any other, they ever will.

How can it be expected that the religion of peace should flourish
in an oaken castle of war? How can it be expected that the
clergyman, whose pulpit is a forty-two-pounder, should convert
sinners to a faith that enjoins them to turn the right cheek when
the left is smitten? How is it to be expected that when,
according to the XLII. of the Articles of War, as they now stand
unrepealed on the Statute-book, "a bounty shall be paid" (to the
officers and crew) "by the United States government of $20 for
each person on board any ship of an enemy which shall be sunk or
destroyed by any United States ship;" and when, by a subsequent
section (vii.), it is provided, among other apportionings, that
the chaplain shall receive "two twentieths" of this price paid
for sinking and destroying ships full of human beings? I How is
it to be expected that a clergyman, thus provided for, should
prove efficacious in enlarging upon the criminality of Judas,
who, for thirty pieces of silver, betrayed his Master?

Although, by the regulations of the Navy, each seaman's mess on
board the Neversink was furnished with a Bible, these Bibles were
seldom or never to be seen, except on Sunday mornings, when usage
demands that they shall be exhibited by the cooks of the messes,
when the master-at-arms goes his rounds on the berth-deck. At
such times, they usually surmounted a highly-polished tin-pot
placed on the lid of the chest.

Yet, for all this, the Christianity of men-of-war's men, and
their disposition to contribute to pious enterprises, are often
relied upon. Several times subscription papers were circulated
among the crew of the Neversink, while in harbour, under the
direct patronage of the Chaplain. One was for the purpose of
building a seaman's chapel in China; another to pay the salary of
a tract-distributor in Greece; a third to raise a fund for the
benefit of an African Colonization Society.

Where the Captain himself is a moral man, he makes a far better
chaplain for his crew than any clergyman can be. This is sometimes
illustrated in the case of sloops of war and armed brigs, which are
not allowed a regular chaplain. I have known one crew, who were
warmly attached to a naval commander worthy of their love, who have
mustered even with alacrity to the call to prayer; and when their
Captain would read the Church of England service to them, would
present a congregation not to be surpassed for earnestness and
devotion by any Scottish Kirk. It seemed like family devotions,
where the head of the house is foremost in confessing himself
before his Maker. But our own hearts are our best prayer-rooms,
and the chaplains who can most help us are ourselves.



In good time we were up with the parallel of Rio de Janeiro, and,
standing in for the land, the mist soon cleared; and high aloft
the famed Sugar Loaf pinnacle was seen, our bowsprit pointing for
it straight as a die.

As we glided on toward our anchorage, the bands of the various
men-of-war in harbour saluted us with national airs, and gallantly
lowered their ensigns. Nothing can exceed the courteous etiquette
of these ships, of all nations, in greeting their brethren. Of all
men, your accomplished duellist is generally the most polite.

We lay in Rio some weeks, lazily taking in stores and otherwise
preparing for the passage home. But though Rio is one of the most
magnificent bays in the world; though the city itself contains
many striking objects; and though much might be said of the Sugar
Loaf and Signal Hill heights; and the little islet of Lucia; and
the fortified Ihla Dos Cobras, or Isle of the Snakes (though the
only anacondas and adders now found in the arsenals there are
great guns and pistols); and Lord Wood's Nose--a lofty eminence
said by seamen to resemble his lordship's conch-shell; and the
Prays do Flamingo--a noble tract of beach, so called from its
having been the resort, in olden times, of those gorgeous birds;
and the charming Bay of Botofogo, which, spite of its name, is
fragrant as the neighbouring Larangieros, or Valley of the
Oranges; and the green Gloria Hill, surmounted by the belfries of
the queenly Church of Nossa Senora de Gloria; and the iron-gray
Benedictine convent near by; and the fine drive and promenade,
Passeo Publico; and the massive arch-over-arch aqueduct, Arcos de
Carico; and the Emperor's Palace; and the Empress's Gardens; and
the fine Church de Candelaria; and the gilded throne on wheels,
drawn by eight silken, silver-belled mules, in which, of pleasant
evenings, his Imperial Majesty is driven out of town to his
Moorish villa of St. Christova--ay, though much might be said of
all this, yet must I forbear, if I may, and adhere to my one
proper object, _the world in a man-of-war_.

Behold, now, the Neversink under a new aspect. With all her
batteries, she is tranquilly lying in harbour, surrounded by
English, French, Dutch, Portuguese, and Brazilian seventy-fours,
moored in the deep-green water, close under the lee of that
oblong, castellated mass of rock, Ilha Dos Cobras, which, with
its port-holes and lofty flag-staffs, looks like another man-of-
war, fast anchored in the way. But what is an insular fortress,
indeed, but an embattled land-slide into the sea from the world
Gibraltars and Quebecs? And what a main-land fortress but a few
decks of a line-of-battle ship transplanted ashore? They are all
one--all, as King David, men-of-war from their youth.

Ay, behold now the Neversink at her anchors, in many respects
presenting a different appearance from what she presented at sea.
Nor is the routine of life on board the same.

At sea there is more to employ the sailors, and less temptation to
violations of the law. Whereas, in port, unless some particular
service engages them, they lead the laziest of lives, beset by all
the allurements of the shore, though perhaps that shore they may
never touch.

Unless you happen to belong to one of the numerous boats, which,
in a man-of-war in harbour, are continually plying to and from
the land, you are mostly thrown upon your own resources to while
away the time. Whole days frequently pass without your being
individually called upon to lift a finger; for though, in the
merchant-service, they make a point of keeping the men always
busy about something or other, yet, to employ five hundred
sailors when there is nothing definite to be done wholly
surpasses the ingenuity of any First Lieutenant in the Navy.

As mention has just been made of the numerous boats employed in
harbour, something more may as well be put down concerning them.
Our frigate carried a very large boat--as big as a small sloop--
called a _launch_, which was generally used for getting off wood,
water, and other bulky articles. Besides this, she carried four
boats of an arithmetical progression in point of size--the largest
being known as the first cutter, the next largest the second cutter,
then the third and fourth cutters. She also carried a Commodore's
Barge, a Captain's Gig, and a "dingy," a small yawl, with a crew
of apprentice boys. All these boats, except the "dingy," had their
regular crews, who were subordinate to their cockswains--_petty
officers_, receiving pay in addition to their seaman's wages.

The _launch_ was manned by the old Tritons of the fore-castle, who were
no ways particular about their dress, while the other boats--commissioned
for genteeler duties--were rowed by young follows, mostly, who had a
dandy eye to their personal appearance. Above all, the officers see to
it that the Commodore's Barge and the Captain's Gig are manned by
gentlemanly youths, who may do credit to their country, and form
agreeable objects for the eyes of the Commodore or Captain to repose
upon as he tranquilly sits in the stern, when pulled ashore by his
barge-men or gig-men, as the case may be. Some sailors are very fond of
belonging to the boats, and deem it a great honour to be a _Commodore's
barge-man_; but others, perceiving no particular distinction in that
office, do not court it so much.

On the second day after arriving at Rio, one of the gig-men fell
sick, and, to my no small concern, I found myself temporarily
appointed to his place.

"Come, White-Jacket, rig yourself in white--that's the gig's
uniform to-day; you are a gig-man, my boy--give ye joy!" This was
the first announcement of the fact that I heard; but soon after
it was officially ratified.

I was about to seek the First Lieutenant, and plead the
scantiness of my wardrobe, which wholly disqualified me to fill
so distinguished a station, when I heard the bugler call away the
"gig;" and, without more ado, I slipped into a clean frock, which
a messmate doffed for my benefit, and soon after found myself
pulling off his High Mightiness, the Captain, to an English

As we were bounding along, the cockswain suddenly cried "Oars!"
At the word every oar was suspended in the air, while our
Commodore's barge floated by, bearing that dignitary himself. At
the sight, Captain Claret removed his chapeau, and saluted
profoundly, our boat lying motionless on the water. But the barge
never stopped; and the Commodore made but a slight return to the
obsequious salute he had received.

We then resumed rowing, and presently I heard "Oars!" again; but
from another boat, the second cutter, which turned out to be
carrying a Lieutenant ashore. If was now Captain Claret's turn to
be honoured. The cutter lay still, and the Lieutenant off hat;
while the Captain only nodded, and we kept on our way.

This naval etiquette is very much like the etiquette at the Grand
Porte of Constantinople, where, after washing the Sublime Sultan's
feet, the Grand Vizier avenges himself on an Emir, who does the same
office for him.

When we arrived aboard the English seventy-four, the Captain was
received with the usual honours, and the gig's crew were conducted
below, and hospitably regaled with some spirits, served out by order
of the officer of the deck.

Soon after, the English crew went to quarters; and as they stood
up at their guns, all along the main-deck, a row of beef-fed
Britons, stalwart-looking fellows, I was struck with the contrast
they afforded to similar sights on board of the Neversink.

For on board of us our "_quarters_" showed an array of rather
slender, lean-checked chaps. But then I made no doubt, that, in a
sea-tussle, these lantern-jawed varlets would have approved
themselves as slender Damascus blades, nimble and flexible;
whereas these Britons would have been, perhaps, as sturdy
broadswords. Yet every one remembers that story of Saladin and
Richard trying their respective blades; how gallant Richard clove
an anvil in twain, or something quite as ponderous, and Saladin
elegantly severed a cushion; so that the two monarchs were even--
each excelling in his way--though, unfortunately for my simile, in a
patriotic point of view, Richard whipped Saladin's armies in the end.

There happened to be a lord on board of this ship--the younger
son of an earl, they told me. He was a fine-looking fellow. I
chanced to stand by when he put a question to an Irish captain of
a gum; upon the seaman's inadvertently saying sir to him, his
lordship looked daggers at the slight; and the sailor touching
his hat a thousand times, said, "Pardon, your honour; I meant to
say _my lord_, sir!"

I was much pleased with an old white-headed musician, who stood
at the main hatchway, with his enormous bass drum full before
him, and thumping it sturdily to the tune of "God Save the King!"
though small mercy did he have on his drum-heads. Two little boys
were clashing cymbals, and another was blowing a fife, with his
cheeks puffed out like the plumpest of his country's plum-puddings.

When we returned from this trip, there again took place that
ceremonious reception of our captain on board the vessel he
commanded, which always had struck me as exceedingly diverting.

In the first place, while in port, one of the quarter-masters is
always stationed on the poop with a spy-glass, to look out for
all boats approaching, and report the same to the officer of the
deck; also, who it is that may be coming in them; so that
preparations may be made accordingly. As soon, then, as the gig
touched the side, a mighty shrill piping was heard, as if some
boys were celebrating the Fourth of July with penny whistles.
This proceeded from a boatswain's mate, who, standing at the
gangway, was thus honouring the Captain's return after his long
and perilous absence.

The Captain then slowly mounted the ladder, and gravely marching
through a lane of "_side-boys_," so called--all in their best
bibs and tuckers, and who stood making sly faces behind his
back--was received by all the Lieutenants in a body, their hats in
their hands, and making a prodigious scraping and bowing, as if
they had just graduated at a French dancing-school. Meanwhile,
preserving an erect, inflexible, and ram-rod carriage, and
slightly touching his chapeau, the Captain made his ceremonious
way to the cabin, disappearing behind the scenes, like the
pasteboard ghost in Hamlet.

But these ceremonies are nothing to those in homage of the
Commodore's arrival, even should he depart and arrive twenty
times a day. Upon such occasions, the whole marine guard, except
the sentries on duty, are marshalled on the quarter-deck,
presenting arms as the Commodore passes them; while their
commanding officer gives the military salute with his sword, as
if making masonic signs. Meanwhile, the boatswain himself--not a
_boatswain's mate_--is keeping up a persevering whistling with
his silver pipe; for the Commodore is never greeted with the rude
whistle of a boatswain's subaltern; _that_ would be positively
insulting. All the Lieutenants and Midshipmen, besides the
Captain himself, are drawn up in a phalanx, and off hat together;
and the _side-boys_, whose number is now increased to ten or
twelve, make an imposing display at the gangway; while the whole
brass band, elevated upon the poop, strike up "See! the
Conquering Hero Comes!" At least, this was the tune that our
Captain always hinted, by a gesture, to the captain of the band,
whenever the Commodore arrived from shore.

It conveyed a complimentary appreciation, on the Captain's part,
of the Commodore's heroism during the late war.

To return to the gig. As I did not relish the idea of being a
sort of body-servant to Captain Claret--since his gig-men were
often called upon to scrub his cabin floor, and perform other
duties for him--I made it my particular business to get rid of my
appointment in his boat as soon as possible, and the next day
after receiving it, succeeded in procuring a substitute, who was
glad of the chance to fill the position I so much undervalued.

And thus, with our counterlikes and dislikes, most of us men-of-
war's-men harmoniously dove-tail into each other, and, by our
very points of opposition, unite in a clever whole, like the
parts of a Chinese puzzle. But as, in a Chinese puzzle, many
pieces are hard to place, so there are some unfortunate fellows
who can never slip into their proper angles, and thus the whole
puzzle becomes a puzzle indeed, which is the precise condition of
the greatest puzzle in the world--this man-of-war world itself.



The ceremonials of a man-of-war, some of which have been described
in the preceding chapter, may merit a reflection or two.

The general usages of the American Navy are founded upon the usages
that prevailed in the navy of monarchical England more than a century
ago; nor have they been materially altered since. And while both
England and America have become greatly liberalised in the interval;
while shore pomp in high places has come to be regarded by the more
intelligent masses of men as belonging to the absurd, ridiculous, and
mock-heroic; while that most truly august of all the majesties of
earth, the President of the United States, may be seen entering his
residence with his umbrella under his arm, and no brass band or
military guard at his heels, and unostentatiously taking his seat by
the side of the meanest citizen in a public conveyance; while this is
the case, there still lingers in American men-of-war all the stilted
etiquette and childish parade of the old-fashioned Spanish court of
Madrid. Indeed, so far as the things that meet the eye are concerned,
an American Commodore is by far a greater man than the President of
twenty millions of freemen.

But we plain people ashore might very willingly be content to leave
these commodores in the unmolested possession of their gilded penny
whistles, rattles, and gewgaws, since they seem to take so much
pleasure in them, were it not that all this is attended by consequences
to their subordinates in the last degree to be deplored.

While hardly any one will question that a naval officer should be
surrounded by circumstances calculated to impart a requisite
dignity to his position, it is not the less certain that, by the
excessive pomp he at present maintains, there is naturally and
unavoidably generated a feeling of servility and debasement in
the hearts of most of the seamen who continually behold a fellow-
mortal flourishing over their heads like the archangel Michael
with a thousand wings. And as, in degree, this same pomp is observed
toward their inferiors by all the grades of commissioned officers,
even down to a midshipman, the evil is proportionately multiplied.

It would not at all diminish a proper respect for the officers,
and subordination to their authority among the seamen, were all
this idle parade--only ministering to the arrogance of the
officers, without at all benefiting the state--completely done
away. But to do so, we voters and lawgivers ourselves must be no
respecters of persons.

That saying about _levelling upward, and not downward_, may seem
very fine to those who cannot see its self-involved absurdity.
But the truth is, that, to gain the true level, in some things,
we _must_ cut downward; for how can you make every sailor a
commodore? or how raise the valleys, without filling them up with
the superfluous tops of the hills?

Some discreet, but democratic, legislation in this matter is much
to be desired. And by bringing down naval officers, in these
things at least, without affecting their legitimate dignity and
authority, we shall correspondingly elevate the common sailor,
without relaxing the subordination, in which he should by all
means be retained.



Nowhere does time pass more heavily than with most men-of-war's-men
on board their craft in harbour.

One of my principal antidotes against _ennui_ in Rio, was reading.
There was a public library on board, paid for by government, and
intrusted to the custody of one of the marine corporals, a little,
dried-up man, of a somewhat literary turn. He had once been a clerk
in a post-office ashore; and, having been long accustomed to hand over
letters when called for, he was now just the man to hand over books.
He kept them in a large cask on the berth-deck, and, when seeking a
particular volume, had to capsize it like a barrel of potatoes. This
made him very cross and irritable, as most all librarians are. Who had
the selection of these books, I do not know, but some of them must have
been selected by our Chaplain, who so pranced on Coleridge's "_High
German horse_."

Mason Good's Book of Nature--a very good book, to be sure, but
not precisely adapted to tarry tastes--was one of these volumes;
and Machiavel's Art of War--which was very dry fighting; and a
folio of Tillotson's Sermons--the best of reading for divines,
indeed, but with little relish for a main-top-man; and Locke's
Essays--incomparable essays, everybody knows, but miserable reading
at sea; and Plutarch's Lives--super-excellent biographies, which pit
Greek against Roman in beautiful style, but then, in a sailor's
estimation, not to be mentioned with the _Lives of the Admirals_;
and Blair's Lectures, University Edition--a fine treatise on rhetoric,
but having nothing to say about nautical phrases, such as "_splicing
the main-brace_," "_passing a gammoning_," "_puddinging the dolphin_,"
and "_making a Carrick-bend_;" besides numerous invaluable but
unreadable tomes, that might have been purchased cheap at the auction
of some college-professor's library.

But I found ample entertainment in a few choice old authors, whom
I stumbled upon in various parts of the ship, among the inferior
officers. One was "_Morgan's History of Algiers_," a famous old
quarto, abounding in picturesque narratives of corsairs,
captives, dungeons, and sea-fights; and making mention of a cruel
old Dey, who, toward the latter part of his life, was so filled
with remorse for his cruelties and crimes that he could not stay
in bed after four o'clock in the morning, but had to rise in
great trepidation and walk off his bad feelings till breakfast
time. And another venerable octavo, containing a certificate from
Sir Christopher Wren to its authenticity, entitled "_Knox's
Captivity in Ceylon, 1681_"--abounding in stories about the
Devil, who was superstitiously supposed to tyrannise over that
unfortunate land: to mollify him, the priests offered up
buttermilk, red cocks, and sausages; and the Devil ran roaring
about in the woods, frightening travellers out of their wits;
insomuch that the Islanders bitterly lamented to Knox that their
country was full of devils, and consequently, there was no hope
for their eventual well-being. Knox swears that he himself heard
the Devil roar, though he did not see his horns; it was a
terrible noise, he says, like the baying of a hungry mastiff.

Then there was Walpole's Letters--very witty, pert, and polite--
and some odd volumes of plays, each of which was a precious
casket of jewels of good things, shaming the trash nowadays
passed off for dramas, containing "The Jew of Malta," "Old
Fortunatus," "The City Madam." "Volpone," "The Alchymist," and
other glorious old dramas of the age of Marlow and Jonson, and
that literary Damon and Pythias, the magnificent, mellow old
Beaumont and Fletcher, who have sent the long shadow of their
reputation, side by side with Shakspeare's, far down the endless
vale of posterity. And may that shadow never be less! but as for
St. Shakspeare may his never be more, lest the commentators
arise, and settling upon his sacred text like unto locusts,
devour it clean up, leaving never a dot over an I.

I diversified this reading of mine, by borrowing Moore's "_Loves
of the Angels_" from Rose-water, who recommended it as "_de
charmingest of volumes;_" and a Negro Song-book, containing
_Sittin' on a Rail_, _Gumbo Squash_, and _Jim along Josey_, from
Broadbit, a sheet-anchor-man. The sad taste of this old tar, in
admiring such vulgar stuff, was much denounced by Rose-water,
whose own predilections were of a more elegant nature, as evinced
by his exalted opinion of the literary merits of the "_Loves of
the Angels_."

I was by no means the only reader of books on board the Neversink.
Several other sailors were diligent readers, though their studies
did not lie in the way of belles-lettres. Their favourite authors
were such as you may find at the book-stalls around Fulton Market;
they were slightly physiological in their nature. My book experiences
on board of the frigate proved an example of a fact which every
book-lover must have experienced before me, namely, that though public
libraries have an imposing air, and doubtless contain invaluable
volumes, yet, somehow, the books that prove most agreeable, grateful,
and companionable, are those we pick up by chance here and there;
those which seem put into our hands by Providence; those which pretend
to little, but abound in much.



Reading was by no means the only method adopted by my shipmates
in whiling away the long, tedious hours in harbour. In truth,
many of them could not have read, had they wanted to ever so
much; in early youth their primers had been sadly neglected.
Still, they had other pursuits; some were experts at the needle,
and employed their time in making elaborate shirts, stitching
picturesque eagles, and anchors, and all the stars of the
federated states in the collars thereof; so that when they at
last completed and put on these shirts, they may be said to have
hoisted the American colors.

Others excelled in _tattooing_ or _pricking_, as it is called in
a man-of-war. Of these prickers, two had long been celebrated, in
their way, as consummate masters of the art. Each had a small box
full of tools and colouring matter; and they charged so high for
their services, that at the end of the cruise they were supposed
to have cleared upward of four hundred dollars. They would
_prick_ you to order a palm-tree, or an anchor, a crucifix, a
lady, a lion, an eagle, or anything else you might want.

The Roman Catholic sailors on board had at least the crucifix
pricked on their arms, and for this reason: If they chanced to
die in a Catholic land, they would be sure of a decent burial in
consecrated ground, as the priest would be sure to observe the
symbol of Mother Church on their persons. They would not fare as
Protestant sailors dying in Callao, who are shoved under the
sands of St. Lorenzo, a solitary, volcanic island in the harbour,
overrun with rep-tiles, their heretical bodies not being
permitted to repose in the more genial loam of Lima.

And many sailors not Catholics were anxious to have the crucifix
painted on them, owing to a curious superstition of theirs. They
affirm--some of them--that if you have that mark tattooed upon all
four limbs, you might fall overboard among seven hundred and
seventy-five thousand white sharks, all dinnerless, and not one
of them would so much as dare to smell at your little finger.

We had one fore-top-man on board, who, during the entire cruise,
was having an endless cable _pricked_ round and round his waist,
so that, when his frock was off, he looked like a capstan with a
hawser coiled round about it. This fore-top-man paid eighteen
pence per link for the cable, besides being on the smart the
whole cruise, suffering the effects of his repeated puncturings;
so he paid very dear for his cable.

One other mode of passing time while in port was cleaning and
polishing your _bright-work_; for it must be known that, in men-
of-war, every sailor has some brass or steel of one kind or other
to keep in high order--like housemaids, whose business it is to
keep well-polished the knobs on the front door railing and the

Excepting the ring-bolts, eye-bolts, and belaying-pins scattered
about the decks, this bright-work, as it is called, is principally
about the guns, embracing the "_monkey-tails_" of the carronades,
the screws, _prickers_, little irons, and other things.

The portion that fell to my own share I kept in superior order,
quite equal in polish to Rogers's best cutlery. I received the
most extravagant encomiums from the officers; one of whom offered
to match me against any brazier or brass-polisher in her British
Majesty's Navy. Indeed, I devoted myself to the work body and
soul, and thought no pains too painful, and no labour too
laborious, to achieve the highest attainable polish possible for
us poor lost sons of Adam to reach.

Upon one occasion, even, when woollen rags were scarce, and no
burned-brick was to be had from the ship's Yeoman, I sacrificed
the corners of my woollen shirt, and used some dentrifice I had,
as substitutes for the rags and burned-brick. The dentrifice
operated delightfully, and made the threading of my carronade
screw shine and grin again, like a set of false teeth in an eager
heiress-hunter's mouth.

Still another mode of passing time, was arraying yourself in your
best "_togs_" and promenading up and down the gun-deck, admiring
the shore scenery from the port-holes, which, in an amphitheatrical
bay like Rio--belted about by the most varied and charming scenery
of hill, dale, moss, meadow, court, castle, tower, grove, vine,
vineyard, aqueduct, palace, square, island, fort--is very much
like lounging round a circular cosmorama, and ever and anon
lazily peeping through the glasses here and there. Oh! there is
something worth living for, even in our man-of-war world;
and one glimpse of a bower of grapes, though a cable's length off,
is almost satisfaction for dining off a shank-bone salted down.

This promenading was chiefly patronised by the marines, and
particularly by Colbrook, a remarkably handsome and very
gentlemanly corporal among them. He was a complete lady's man;
with fine black eyes, bright red cheeks, glossy jet whiskers, and
a refined organisation of the whole man. He used to array himself
in his regimentals, and saunter about like an officer of the
Coldstream Guards, strolling down to his club in St. James's.
Every time he passed me, he would heave a sentimental sigh, and
hum to himself "_The girl I left behind me_." This fine corporal
afterward became a representative in the Legislature of the State
of New Jersey; for I saw his name returned about a year after my
return home.

But, after all, there was not much room, while in port, for
promenading, at least on the gun-deck, for the whole larboard
side is kept clear for the benefit of the officers, who appreciate
the advantages of having a clear stroll fore and aft; and they well
know that the sailors had much better be crowded together on the
other side than that the set of their own coat-tails should be
impaired by brushing against their tarry trowsers.

One other way of killing time while in port is playing checkers;
that is, when it is permitted; for it is not every navy captain
who will allow such a scandalous proceeding, But, as for Captain
Claret, though he _did_ like his glass of Madeira uncommonly
well, and was an undoubted descendant from the hero of the Battle
of the Brandywine, and though he sometimes showed a suspiciously
flushed face when superintending in person the flogging of a
sailor for getting intoxicated against his particular orders, yet
I will say for Captain Claret that, upon the whole, he was rather
indulgent to his crew, so long as they were perfectly docile. He
allowed them to play checkers as much as they pleased. More than
once I have known him, when going forward to the forecastle, pick
his way carefully among scores of canvas checker-cloths spread
upon the deck, so as not to tread upon the men--the checker-men
and man-of-war's-men included; but, in a certain sense, they were
both one; for, as the sailors used their checker-men, so, at
quarters, their officers used these man-of-war's men.

But Captain Claret's leniency in permitting checkers on board his
ship might have arisen from the following little circumstance,
confidentially communicated to me. Soon after the ship had sailed
from home, checkers were prohibited; whereupon the sailors were
exasperated against the Captain, and one night, when he was walking
round the forecastle, bim! came an iron belaying-pin past his ears;
and while he was dodging that, bim! came another, from the other side;
so that, it being a very dark night, and nobody to be seen, and it
being impossible to find out the trespassers, he thought it best to
get back into his cabin as soon as possible. Some time after--just as
if the belaying-pins had nothing to do with it--it was indirectly
rumoured that the checker-boards might be brought out again, which--as
a philosophical shipmate observed--showed that Captain Claret was a
man of a ready understanding, and could understand a hint as well
as any other man, even when conveyed by several pounds of iron.

Some of the sailors were very precise about their checker-cloths,
and even went so far that they would not let you play with them
unless you first washed your hands, especially if so be you had
just come from tarring down the rigging.

Another way of beguiling the tedious hours, is to get a cosy seat
somewhere, and fall into as snug a little reverie as you can. Or
if a seat is not to be had--which is frequently the case--then
get a tolerably comfortable _stand-up_ against the bulwarks, and
begin to think about home and bread and butter--always inseparably
connected to a wanderer--which will very soon bring delicious tears
into your eyes; for every one knows what a luxury is grief, when you
can get a private closet to enjoy it in, and no Paul Prys intrude.
Several of my shore friends, indeed, when suddenly overwhelmed by some
disaster, always make a point of flying to the first oyster-cellar,
and shutting themselves up in a box with nothing but a plate of stewed
oysters, some crackers, the castor, and a decanter of old port.

Still another way of killing time in harbour, is to lean over the
bulwarks, and speculate upon where, under the sun, you are going to be
that day next year, which is a subject full of interest to every living
soul; so much so, that there is a particular day of a particular month
of the year, which, from my earliest recollections, I have always kept
the run of, so that I can even now tell just where I was on that
identical day of every year past since I was twelve years old. And,
when I am all alone, to run over this almanac in my mind is almost as
entertaining as to read your own diary, and far more interesting than
to peruse a table of logarithms on a rainy afternoon. I always keep the
anniversary of that day with lamb and peas, and a pint of sherry, for
it comes in Spring. But when it came round in the Neversink, I could
get neither lamb, peas, nor sherry.

But perhaps the best way to drive the hours before you four-in-hand,
is to select a soft plank on the gun-deck, and go to sleep. A fine
specific, which seldom fails, unless, to be sure, you have been
sleeping all the twenty-four hours beforehand.

Whenever employed in killing time in harbour, I have lifted
myself up on my elbow and looked around me, and seen so many of
my shipmates all employed at the same common business; all under
lock and key; all hopeless prisoners like myself; all under
martial law; all dieting on salt beef and biscuit; all in one
uniform; all yawning, gaping, and stretching in concert, it was
then that I used to feel a certain love and affection for them,
grounded, doubtless, on a fellow-feeling.

And though, in a previous part of this narrative, I have
mentioned that I used to hold myself somewhat aloof from the mass
of seamen on board the Neversink; and though this was true, and
my real acquaintances were comparatively few, and my intimates
still fewer, yet, to tell the truth, it is quite impossible to
live so long with five hundred of your fellow-beings, even if not
of the best families in the land, and with morals that would not
be spoiled by further cultivation; it is quite impossible, I say,
to live with five hundred of your fellow-beings, be they who they
may, without feeling a common sympathy with them at the time, and
ever after cherishing some sort of interest in their welfare.

The truth of this was curiously corroborated by a rather
equivocal acquaintance of mine, who, among the men, went by the
name of "_Shakings_." He belonged to the fore-hold, whence, of a
dark night, he would sometimes emerge to chat with the sailors on
deck. I never liked the man's looks; I protest it was a mere
accident that gave me the honour of his acquaintance, and
generally I did my best to avoid him, when he would come
skulking, like a jail-bird, out of his den into the liberal, open
air of the sky. Nevertheless, the anecdote this _holder_ told me
is well worth preserving, more especially the extraordinary frankness
evinced in his narrating such a thing to a comparative stranger.

The substance of his story was as follows: Shakings, it seems,
had once been a convict in the New York State's Prison at Sing
Sing, where he had been for years confined for a crime, which he
gave me his solemn word of honour he was wholly innocent of. He
told me that, after his term had expired, and he went out into
the world again, he never could stumble upon any of his old Sing
Sing associates without dropping into a public house and talking
over old times. And when fortune would go hard with him, and he
felt out of sorts, and incensed at matters and things in general,
he told me that, at such time, he almost wished he was back again
in Sing Sing, where he was relieved from all anxieties about what
he should eat and drink, and was supported, like the President of
the United States and Prince Albert, at the public charge. He
used to have such a snug little cell, he said, all to himself,
and never felt afraid of house-breakers, for the walls were
uncommonly thick, and his door was securely bolted for him, and a
watchman was all the time walking up and down in the passage,
while he himself was fast asleep and dreaming. To this, in
substance, the _holder_ added, that he narrated this anecdote
because he thought it applicable to a man-of-war, which he
scandalously asserted to be a sort of State Prison afloat.

Concerning the curious disposition to fraternise and be sociable,
which this Shakings mentioned as characteristic of the convicts
liberated from his old homestead at Sing Sing, it may well be
asked, whether it may not prove to be some feeling, somehow akin
to the reminiscent impulses which influenced them, that shall
hereafter fraternally reunite all us mortals, when we shall have
exchanged this State's Prison man-of-war world of ours for
another and a better.

From the foregoing account of the great difficulty we had in
killing time while in port, it must not be inferred that on board
of the Neversink in Rio there was literally no work to be done,
at long intervals the _launch_ would come alongside with water-
casks, to be emptied into iron tanks in the hold. In this way
nearly fifty thousand gallons, as chronicled in the books of the
master's mate, were decanted into the ship's bowels--a ninety
day's allowance. With this huge Lake Ontario in us, the mighty
Neversink might be said to resemble the united continent of the
Eastern Hemisphere--floating in a vast ocean herself, and having
a Mediterranean floating in her.



It is in a good degree owing to the idleness just described,
that, while lying in harbour, the man-of-war's-man is exposed to
the most temptations and gets into his saddest scrapes. For
though his vessel be anchored a mile from the shore, and her
sides are patrolled by sentries night and day, yet these things
cannot entirely prevent the seductions of the land from reaching
him. The prime agent in working his calamities in port is his old
arch-enemy, the ever-devilish god of grog.

Immured as the man-of-war's-man is, serving out his weary three
years in a sort of sea-Newgate, from which he cannot escape,
either by the roof or burrowing underground, he too often flies
to the bottle to seek relief from the intolerable ennui of
nothing to do, and nowhere to go. His ordinary government
allowance of spirits, one gill per diem, is not enough to give a
sufficient to his listless senses; he pronounces his grog basely
_watered_; he scouts at it as _thinner than muslin;_ he craves a
more vigorous _nip at the cable_, a more sturdy _swig at the
halyards;_ and if opium were to be had, many would steep
themselves a thousand fathoms down in the densest fumes of that
oblivious drug. Tell him that the delirium tremens and the mania-
a-potu lie in ambush for drunkards, he will say to you, "Let them
bear down upon me, then, before the wind; anything that smacks of
life is better than to feel Davy Jones's chest-lid on your nose."
He is reckless as an avalanche; and though his fall destroy
himself and others, yet a ruinous commotion is better than being
frozen fast in unendurable solitudes. No wonder, then, that he
goes all lengths to procure the thing he craves; no wonder that
he pays the most exorbitant prices, breaks through all law, and
braves the ignominious lash itself, rather than be deprived of
his stimulus.

Now, concerning no one thing in a man-of-war, are the regulations
more severe than respecting the smuggling of grog, and being
found intoxicated. For either offence there is but one penalty,
invariably enforced; and that is the degradation of the gangway.

All conceivable precautions are taken by most frigate-executives
to guard against the secret admission of spirits into the vessel.
In the first place, no shore-boat whatever is allowed to approach
a man-of-war in a foreign harbour without permission from the
officer of the deck. Even the _bum-boats_, the small craft
licensed by the officers to bring off fruit for the sailors, to
be bought out of their own money--these are invariably inspected
before permitted to hold intercourse with the ship's company. And
not only this, but every one of the numerous ship's boats--kept
almost continually plying to and from the shore--are similarly
inspected, sometimes each boat twenty times in the day.

This inspection is thus performed: The boat being descried by the
quarter-master from the poop, she is reported to the deck
officer, who thereupon summons the master-at-arms, the ship's
chief of police. This functionary now stations himself at the
gangway, and as the boat's crew, one by one, come up the side, he
personally overhauls them, making them take off their hats, and
then, placing both hands upon their heads, draws his palms slowly
down to their feet, carefully feeling all unusual protuberances.
If nothing suspicious is felt, the man is let pass; and so on,
till the whole boat's crew, averaging about sixteen men, are
examined. The chief of police then descends into the boat, and
walks from stem to stern, eyeing it all over, and poking his long
rattan into every nook and cranny. This operation concluded, and
nothing found, he mounts the ladder, touches his hat to the deck-
officer, and reports the boat _clean_; whereupon she is hauled
out to the booms.

Thus it will be seen that not a man of the ship's company ever
enters the vessel from shore without it being rendered next to
impossible, apparently, that he should have succeeded in smuggling
anything. Those individuals who are permitted to board the ship
without undergoing this ordeal, are only persons whom it would be
preposterous to search--such as the Commodore himself, the Captain,
Lieutenants, etc., and gentlemen and ladies coming as visitors.

For anything to be clandestinely thrust through the lower port-
holes at night, is rendered very difficult, from the watchfulness
of the quarter-master in hailing all boats that approach, long
before they draw alongside, and the vigilance of the sentries,
posted on platforms overhanging the water, whose orders are to
fire into a strange boat which, after being warned to withdraw,
should still persist in drawing nigh. Moreover, thirty-two-pound
shots are slung to ropes, and suspended over the bows, to drop a
hole into and sink any small craft, which, spite of all precautions,
by strategy should succeed in getting under the bows with liquor by
night. Indeed, the whole power of martial law is enlisted in this
matter; and every one of the numerous officers of the ship, besides
his general zeal in enforcing the regulations, acids to that a
personal feeling, since the sobriety of the men abridges his own
cares and anxieties.

How then, it will be asked, in the face of an argus-eyed police,
and in defiance even of bayonets and bullets, do men-of-war's-men
contrive to smuggle their spirits? Not to enlarge upon minor
stratagems--every few days detected, and rendered naught (such as
rolling up, in a handkerchief, a long, slender "skin" of grog,
like a sausage, and in that manner ascending to the deck out of a
boat just from shore; or openly bringing on board cocoa-nuts and
melons, procured from a knavish bum-boat filled with spirits,
instead of milk or water)--we will only mention here two or three
other modes, coming under my own observation.

While in Rio, a fore-top-man, belonging to the second cutter,
paid down the money, and made an arrangement with a person
encountered at the Palace-landing ashore, to the following
effect. Of a certain moonless night, he was to bring off three
gallons of spirits, _in skins_, and moor them to the frigate's
anchor-buoy--some distance from the vessel--attaching something
heavy, to sink them out of sight. In the middle watch of the
night, the fore-top-man slips out of his hammock, and by creeping
along in the shadows, eludes the vigilance of the master-at-arms
and his mates, gains a port-hole, and softly lowers himself into
the water, almost without creating a ripple--the sentries
marching to and fro on their overhanging platform above him. He
is an expert swimmer, and paddles along under the surface, every
now and then rising a little, and lying motionless on his back to
breathe--little but his nose exposed. The buoy gained, he cuts
the skins adrift, ties them round his body, and in the same
adroit manner makes good his return.

This feat is very seldom attempted, for it needs the utmost
caution, address, and dexterity; and no one but a super-expert
burglar, and faultless Leander of a swimmer, could achieve it.

From the greater privileges which they enjoy, the "_forward
officers_," that is, the Gunner, Boatswain, etc., have much
greater opportunities for successful smuggling than the common
seamen. Coming alongside one night in a cutter, Yarn, our
boatswain, in some inexplicable way, contrived to slip several
skins of brandy through the air-port of his own state-room. The
feat, however, must have been perceived by one of the boat's
crew, who immediately, on gaining the deck, sprung down the
ladders, stole into the boatswain's room, and made away with the
prize, not three minutes before the rightful owner entered to
claim it. Though, from certain circumstances, the thief was known
to the aggrieved party, yet the latter could say nothing, since
he himself had infringed the law. But the next day, in the
capacity of captain of the ship's executioners, Yarn had the
satisfaction (it was so to him) of standing over the robber at
the gangway; for, being found intoxicated with the very liquor
the boatswain himself had smuggled, the man had been condemned to
a flogging.

This recalls another instance, still more illustrative of the
knotted, trebly intertwisted villainy, accumulating at a sort of
compound interest in a man-of-war. The cockswain of the Commodore's
barge takes his crew apart, one by one, and cautiously sounds them
as to their fidelity--not to the United States of America, but to
himself. Three individuals, whom he deems doubtful--that is, faithful
to the United States of America--he procures to be discharged from
the barge, and men of his own selection are substituted; for he is
always an influential character, this cockswain of the Commodore's
barge. Previous to this, however, he has seen to it well, that no
Temperance men--that is, sailors who do not draw their government
ration of grog, but take the money for it--he has seen to it, that
none of these _balkers_ are numbered among his crew. Having now proved
his men, he divulges his plan to the assembled body; a solemn oath of
secrecy is obtained, and he waits the first fit opportunity to carry
into execution his nefarious designs.

At last it comes. One afternoon the barge carries the Commodore
across the Bay to a fine water-side settlement of noblemen's
seats, called Praya Grande. The Commodore is visiting a
Portuguese marquis, and the pair linger long over their dinner in
an arbour in the garden. Meanwhile, the cockswain has liberty to
roam about where he pleases. He searches out a place where some
choice _red-eye_ (brandy) is to be had, purchases six large
bottles, and conceals them among the trees. Under the pretence of
filling the boat-keg with water, which is always kept in the
barge to refresh the crew, he now carries it off into the grove,
knocks out the head, puts the bottles inside, reheads the keg,
fills it with water, carries it down to the boat, and audaciously
restores it to its conspicuous position in the middle, with its
bung-hole up. When the Commodore comes down to the beach, and
they pull off for the ship, the cockswain, in a loud voice,
commands the nearest man to take that bung out of the keg--that
precious water will spoil. Arrived alongside the frigate, the
boat's crew are overhauled, as usual, at the gangway; and nothing
being found on them, are passed. The master-at-arms now
descending into the barge, and finding nothing suspicious,
reports it _clean_, having put his finger into the open bung of
the keg and tasted that the water was pure. The barge is ordered
out to the booms, and deep night is waited for, ere the cockswain
essays to snatch the bottles from the keg.

But, unfortunately for the success of this masterly smuggler, one
of his crew is a weak-pated fellow, who, having drank somewhat
freely ashore, goes about the gun-deck throwing out profound,
tipsy hints concerning some unutterable proceeding on the ship's
anvil. A knowing old sheet-anchor-man, an unprincipled fellow,
putting this, that, and the other together, ferrets out the
mystery; and straightway resolves to reap the goodly harvest
which the cockswain has sowed. He seeks him out, takes him to one
side, and addresses him thus:

"Cockswain, you have been smuggling off some _red-eye_, which at
this moment is in your barge at the booms. Now, cockswain, I have
stationed two of my mess-mates at the port-holes, on that side of
the ship; and if they report to me that you, or any of your
bargemen, offer to enter that barge before morning, I will
immediately report you as a smuggler to the officer of the deck."

The cockswain is astounded; for, to be reported to the deck-
officer as a smuggler, would inevitably procure him a sound
flogging, and be the disgraceful _breaking_ of him as a petty
officer, receiving four dollars a month beyond his pay as an able
seaman. He attempts to bribe the other to secrecy, by promising
half the profits of the enterprise; but the sheet-anchor-man's
integrity is like a rock; he is no mercenary, to be bought up for
a song. The cockswain, therefore, is forced to swear that neither
himself, nor any of his crew, shall enter the barge before
morning. This done, the sheet-anchor-man goes to his confidants,
and arranges his plans. In a word, he succeeds in introducing the
six brandy bottles into the ship; five of which he sells at eight
dollars a bottle; and then, with the sixth, between two guns, he
secretly regales himself and confederates; while the helpless
cockswain, stifling his rage, bitterly eyes them from afar.

Thus, though they say that there is honour among thieves, there
is little among man-of-war smugglers.



The last smuggling story now about to be related also occurred
while we lay in Rio. It is the more particularly presented, since
it furnishes the most curious evidence of the almost incredible
corruption pervading nearly all ranks in some men-of-war.

For some days, the number of intoxicated sailors collared and
brought up to the mast by the master-at-arms, to be reported to
the deck-officers--previous to a flogging at the gangway--had, in
the last degree, excited the surprise and vexation of the Captain
and senior officers. So strict were the Captain's regulations
concerning the suppression of grog-smuggling, and so particular
had he been in charging the matter upon all the Lieutenants, and
every understrapper official in the frigate, that he was wholly
at a loss how so large a quantity of spirits could have been
spirited into the ship, in the face of all these checks, guards,
and precautions.

Still additional steps were adopted to detect the smugglers; and
Bland, the master-at-arms, together with his corporals, were publicly
harangued at the mast by the Captain in person, and charged to exert
their best powers in suppressing the traffic. Crowds were present at
the time, and saw the master-at-arms touch his cap in obsequious
homage, as he solemnly assured the Captain that he would still
continue to do his best; as, indeed, he said he had always done.
He concluded with a pious ejaculation expressive of his personal
abhorrence of smuggling and drunkenness, and his fixed resolution,
so help him Heaven, to spend his last wink in sitting up by night,
to spy out all deeds of darkness.

"I do not doubt you, master-at-arms," returned the Captain; "now go
to your duty." This master-at-arms was a favourite of the Captain's.

The next morning, before breakfast, when the market-boat came off
(that is, one of the ship's boats regularly deputed to bring off
the daily fresh provisions for the officers)--when this boat came
off, the master-at-arms, as usual, after carefully examining both
her and her crew, reported them to the deck-officer to be free
from suspicion. The provisions were then hoisted out, and among
them came a good-sized wooden box, addressed to "Mr.------ Purser
of the United States ship Neversink." Of course, any private
matter of this sort, destined for a gentleman of the ward-room,
was sacred from examination, and the master-at-arms commanded one
of his corporals to carry it down into the Purser's state-room.
But recent occurrences had sharpened the vigilance of the deck-
officer to an unwonted degree, and seeing the box going down the
hatchway, he demanded what that was, and whom it was for.

"All right, sir," said the master-at-arms, touching his cap;
"stores for the Purser, sir."

"Let it remain on deck," said the Lieutenant. "Mr. Montgomery!"
calling a midshipman, "ask the Purser whether there is any box
coming off for him this morning."

"Ay, ay, sir," said the middy, touching his cap.

Presently he returned, saying that the Purser was ashore.

"Very good, then; Mr. Montgomery, have that box put into the 'brig,'
with strict orders to the sentry not to suffer any one to touch it."

"Had I not better take it down into my mess, sir, till the Purser
comes off?" said the master-at-arms, deferentially.

"I have given my orders, sir!" said the Lieutenant, turning away.

When the Purser came on board, it turned out that he knew nothing at
all about the box. He had never so much as heard of it in his life.
So it was again brought up before the deck-officer, who immediately
summoned the master-at-arms.

"Break open that box!"

"Certainly, sir!" said the master-at-arms; and, wrenching off the
cover, twenty-five brown jugs like a litter of twenty-five brown pigs,
were found snugly nestled in a bed of straw.

"The smugglers are at work, sir," said the master-at-arms, looking up.

"Uncork and taste it," said the officer.

The master-at-arms did so; and, smacking his lips after a puzzled
fashion, was a little doubtful whether it was American whisky or
Holland gin; but he said he was not used to liquor.

"Brandy; I know it by the smell," said the officer; "return the
box to the brig."

"Ay, ay, sir," said the master-at-arms, redoubling his activity.

The affair was at once reported to the Captain, who, incensed at
the audacity of the thing, adopted every plan to detect the
guilty parties. Inquiries were made ashore; but by whom the box
had been brought down to the market-boat there was no finding
out. Here the matter rested for a time.

Some days after, one of the boys of the mizzen-top was flogged for
drunkenness, and, while suspended in agony at the gratings, was made
to reveal from whom he had procured his spirits. The man was called,
and turned out to be an old superannuated marine, one Scriggs, who did
the cooking for the marine-sergeants and masters-at-arms' mess. This
marine was one of the most villainous-looking fellows in the ship,
with a squinting, pick-lock, gray eye, and hang-dog gallows gait. How
such a most unmartial vagabond had insinuated himself into the
honourable marine corps was a perfect mystery. He had always been
noted for his personal uncleanliness, and among all hands, fore and
aft, had the reputation of being a notorious old miser, who denied
himself the few comforts, and many of the common necessaries of a
man-of-war life.

Seeing no escape, Scriggs fell on his knees before the Captain,
and confessed the charge of the boy. Observing the fellow to be
in an agony of fear at the sight of the boat-swain's mates and
their lashes, and all the striking parade of public punishment,
the Captain must have thought this a good opportunity for
completely pumping him of all his secrets. This terrified marine
was at length forced to reveal his having been for some time an
accomplice in a complicated system of underhand villainy, the
head of which was no less a personage than the indefatigable
chief of police, the master-at-arms himself. It appeared that
this official had his confidential agents ashore, who supplied
him with spirits, and in various boxes, packages, and bundles--
addressed to the Purser and others--brought them down to the
frigate's boats at the landing. Ordinarily, the appearance of
these things for the Purser and other ward-room gentlemen
occasioned no surprise; for almost every day some bundle or other
is coming off for them, especially for the Purser; and, as the
master-at-arms was always present on these occasions, it was an
easy matter for him to hurry the smuggled liquor out of sight,
and, under pretence of carrying the box or bundle down to the
Purser's room, hide it away upon his own premises.

The miserly marine, Scriggs, with the pick-lock eye, was the man
who clandestinely sold the spirits to the sailors, thus
completely keeping the master-at-arms in the background. The
liquor sold at the most exorbitant prices; at one time reaching
twelve dollars the bottle in cash, and thirty dollars a bottle in
orders upon the Purser, to be honored upon the frigate's arrival
home. It may seem incredible that such prices should have been
given by the sailors; but when some man-of-war's-men crave
liquor, and it is hard to procure, they would almost barter ten
years of their life-time for but one solitary "_tot_" if they could.

The sailors who became intoxicated with the liquor thus smuggled on
board by the master-at-arms, were, in almost numberless instances,
officially seized by that functionary and scourged at the gangway.
In a previous place it has been shown how conspicuous a part the
master-at-arms enacts at this scene.

The ample profits of this iniquitous business were divided,
between all the parties concerned in it; Scriggs, the marine,
coming in for one third. His cook's mess-chest being brought on
deck, four canvas bags of silver were found in it, amounting to a
sum something short of as many hundred dollars.

The guilty parties were scourged, double-ironed, and for several
weeks were confined in the "brig" under a sentry; all but the
master-at-arms, who was merely cashiered and imprisoned for a
time; with bracelets at his wrists. Upon being liberated, he was
turned adrift among the ship's company; and by way of disgracing
him still more, was thrust into the _waist_, the most inglorious
division of the ship.

Upon going to dinner one day, I found him soberly seated at my
own mess; and at first I could not but feel some very serious
scruples about dining with him. Nevertheless, he was a man to
study and digest; so, upon a little reflection; I was not
displeased at his presence. It amazed me, however, that he had
wormed himself into the mess, since so many of the other messes
had declined the honour, until at last, I ascertained that he had
induced a mess-mate of ours, a distant relation of his, to prevail
upon the cook to admit him.

Now it would not have answered for hardly any other mess in the
ship to have received this man among them, for it would have torn
a huge rent in their reputation; but our mess, A. No. 1--the
Forty-two-pounder Club--was composed of so fine a set of fellows;
so many captains of tops, and quarter-masters--men of undeniable
mark on board ship--of long-established standing and consideration
on the gun-deck; that, with impunity, we could do so many equivocal
things, utterly inadmissible for messes of inferior pretension.
Besides, though we all abhorred the monster of Sin itself, yet, from
our social superiority, highly rarified education in our lofty top,
and large and liberal sweep of the aggregate of things, we were in
a good degree free from those useless, personal prejudices, and
galling hatreds against conspicuous _sinners_, not _Sin_--which so
widely prevail among men of warped understandings and unchristian and
uncharitable hearts. No; the superstitions and dogmas concerning Sin
had not laid their withering maxims upon our hearts. We perceived how
that evil was but good disguised, and a knave a saint in his way;
how that in other planets, perhaps, what we deem wrong, may there
be deemed right; even as some substances, without undergoing any
mutations in themselves utterly change their colour, according to
the light thrown upon them. We perceived that the anticipated
millennium must have begun upon the morning the first words were
created; and that, taken all in all, our man-of-war world itself
was as eligible a round-sterned craft as any to be found in the
Milky Way. And we fancied that though some of us, of the gun-
deck, were at times condemned to sufferings and blights, and all
manner of tribulation and anguish, yet, no doubt, it was only our
misapprehension of these things that made us take them for woeful
pains instead of the most agreeable pleasures. I have dreamed of
a sphere, says Pinzella, where to break a man on the wheel is
held the most exquisite of delights you can confer upon him;
where for one gentleman in any way to vanquish another is
accounted an everlasting dishonour; where to tumble one into a
pit after death, and then throw cold clods upon his upturned
face, is a species of contumely, only inflicted upon the most
notorious criminals.

But whatever we mess-mates thought, in whatever circumstances we
found ourselves, we never forgot that our frigate, had as it was,
was homeward-bound. Such, at least, were our reveries at times,
though sorely jarred, now and then, by events that took our
philosophy aback. For after all, philosophy--that is, the best
wisdom that has ever in any way been revealed to our man-of-war
world--is but a slough and a mire, with a few tufts of good
footing here and there.

But there was one man in the mess who would have naught to do
with our philosophy--a churlish, ill-tempered, unphilosophical,
superstitious old bear of a quarter-gunner; a believer in Tophet,
for which he was accordingly preparing himself. Priming was his
name; but methinks I have spoken of him before.

Besides, this Bland, the master-at-arms, was no vulgar, dirty knave.
In him--to modify Burke's phrase--vice _seemed_, but only seemed, to
lose half its seeming evil by losing all its apparent grossness. He
was a neat and gentlemanly villain, and broke his biscuit with a
dainty hand. There was a fine polish about his whole person, and a
pliant, insinuating style in his conversation, that was, socially,
quite irresistible. Save my noble captain, Jack Chase, he proved
himself the most entertaining, I had almost said the most companionable
man in the mess. Nothing but his mouth, that was somewhat small,
Moorish-arched, and wickedly delicate, and his snaky, black eye, that
at times shone like a dark-lantern in a jeweller-shop at midnight,
betokened the accomplished scoundrel within. But in his conversation
there was no trace of evil; nothing equivocal; he studiously shunned
an indelicacy, never swore, and chiefly abounded in passing puns and
witticisms, varied with humorous contrasts between ship and shore
life, and many agreeable and racy anecdotes, very tastefully narrated.
In short--in a merely psychological point of view, at least--he was a
charming blackleg. Ashore, such a man might have been an irreproachable
mercantile swindler, circulating in polite society.

But he was still more than this. Indeed, I claim for this master-
at-arms a lofty and honourable niche in the Newgate Calendar of
history. His intrepidity, coolness, and wonderful self-
possession in calmly resigning himself to a fate that thrust him
from an office in which he had tyrannised over five hundred
mortals, many of whom hated and loathed him, passed all belief;
his intrepidity, I say, in now fearlessly gliding among them,
like a disarmed swordfish among ferocious white-sharks; this,
surely, bespoke no ordinary man. While in office, even, his life
had often been secretly attempted by the seamen whom he had
brought to the gangway. Of dark nights they had dropped shot down
the hatchways, destined "to damage his pepper-box," as they
phrased it; they had made ropes with a hangman's noose at the end
and tried to _lasso_ him in dark corners. And now he was adrift
among them, under notorious circumstances of superlative
villainy, at last dragged to light; and yet he blandly smiled,
politely offered his cigar-holder to a perfect stranger, and
laughed and chatted to right and left, as if springy, buoyant,
and elastic, with an angelic conscience, and sure of kind friends
wherever he went, both in this life and the life to come.

While he was lying ironed in the "brig," gangs of the men were
sometimes overheard whispering about the terrible reception they
would give him when he should be set at large. Nevertheless, when
liberated, they seemed confounded by his erect and cordial assurance,
his gentlemanly sociability and fearless companionableness. From
being an implacable policeman, vigilant, cruel, and remorseless in
his office, however polished in his phrases, he was now become a
disinterested, sauntering man of leisure, winking at all improprieties,
and ready to laugh and make merry with any one. Still, at first, the
men gave him a wide berth, and returned scowls for his smiles; but
who can forever resist the very Devil himself, when he comes in the
guise of a gentleman, free, fine, and frank? Though Goethe's pious
Margaret hates the Devil in his horns and harpooner's tail, yet she
smiles and nods to the engaging fiend in the persuasive,_winning_,
oily, wholly harmless Mephistopheles. But, however it was, I, for one,
regarded this master-at-arms with mixed feelings of detestation,
pity, admiration, and something op-posed to enmity. I could not but
abominate him when I thought of his conduct; but I pitied the continual
gnawing which, under all his deftly-donned disguises, I saw lying at
the bottom of his soul. I admired his heroism in sustaining himself
so well under such reverses. And when I thought how arbitrary the
_Articles of War_ are in defining a man-of-war villain; how much
undetected guilt might be sheltered by the aristocratic awning of our
quarter-deck; how many florid pursers, ornaments of the ward-room, had
been legally protected in defrauding _the people_, I could not but say
to myself, Well, after all, though this man is a most wicked one indeed,
yet is he even more luckless than depraved.

Besides, a studied observation of Bland convinced me that he was an
organic and irreclaimable scoundrel, who did wicked deeds as the
cattle browse the herbage, because wicked deeds seemed the
legitimate operation of his whole infernal organisation.
Phrenologically, he was without a soul. Is it to be wondered at,
that the devils are irreligious? What, then, thought I, who is to
blame in this matter? For one, I will not take the Day of
Judgment upon me by authoritatively pronouncing upon the
essential criminality of any man-of-war's-man; and Christianity
has taught me that, at the last day, man-of-war's-men will not be
judged by the _Articles of War_, nor by the _United States
Statutes at Large_, but by immutable laws, ineffably beyond the
comprehension of the honourable Board of Commodores and Navy
Commissioners. But though I will stand by even a man-of-war
thief, and defend him from being seized up at the gangway, if I
can--remembering that my Saviour once hung between two thieves,
promising one life-eternal--yet I would not, after the plain
conviction of a villain, again let him entirely loose to prey
upon honest seamen, fore and aft all three decks. But this did
Captain Claret; and though the thing may not perhaps be credited,
nevertheless, here it shall be recorded.

After the master-at-arms had been adrift among the ship's company
for several weeks, and we were within a few days' sail of home,
he was summoned to the mast, and publicly reinstated in his
office as the ship's chief of police. Perhaps Captain Claret had
read the Memoirs of Vidocq, and believed in the old saying, _set
a rogue to catch a rogue_. Or, perhaps, he was a man of very
tender feelings, highly susceptible to the soft emotions of
gratitude, and could not bear to leave in disgrace a person who,
out of the generosity of his heart, had, about a year previous,
presented him with a rare snuff-box, fabricated from a sperm-
whale's tooth, with a curious silver hinge, and cunningly wrought
in the shape of a whale; also a splendid gold-mounted cane, of a
costly Brazilian wood, with a gold plate, bearing the Captain's
name and rank in the service, the place and time of his birth,
and with a vacancy underneath--no doubt providentially left for
his heirs to record his decease.

Certain it was that, some months previous to the master-at-arms'
disgrace, he had presented these articles to the Captain, with
his best love and compliments; and the Captain had received them,
and seldom went ashore without the cane, and never took snuff but
out of that box. With some Captains, a sense of propriety might
have induced them to return these presents, when the generous
donor had proved himself unworthy of having them retained; but it
was not Captain Claret who would inflict such a cutting wound
upon any officer's sensibilities, though long-established naval
customs had habituated him to scourging _the people_ upon an

Now had Captain Claret deemed himself constitutionally bound to
decline all presents from his subordinates, the sense of
gratitude would not have operated to the prejudice of justice.
And, as some of the subordinates of a man-of-war captain are apt
to invoke his good wishes and mollify his conscience by making
him friendly gifts, it would perhaps _have_ been an excellent
thing for him to adopt the plan pursued by the President of the
United States, when he received a present of lions and Arabian
chargers from the Sultan of Muscat. Being forbidden by his
sovereign lords and masters, the imperial people, to accept of
any gifts from foreign powers, the President sent them to an
auctioneer, and the proceeds were deposited in the Treasury. In
the same manner, when Captain Claret received his snuff-box and
cane, he might have accepted them very kindly, and then sold them
off to the highest bidder, perhaps to the donor himself, who in
that case would never have tempted him again.

Upon his return home, Bland was paid off for his full term, not
deducting the period of his suspension. He again entered the
service in his old capacity.

As no further allusion will be made to this affair, it may as
well be stated now that, for the very brief period elapsing
between his restoration and being paid off in port by the Purser,
the master-at-arms conducted himself with infinite discretion,
artfully steering between any relaxation of discipline--which
would have awakened the displeasure of the officers--and any
unwise severity--which would have revived, in tenfold force, all
the old grudges of the seamen under his command.

Never did he show so much talent and tact as when vibrating in
this his most delicate predicament; and plenty of cause was there
for the exercise of his cunningest abilities; for, upon the
discharge of our man-of-war's-men at home, should he _then_ be
held by them as an enemy, as free and independent citizens they
would waylay him in the public streets, and take purple vengeance
for all his iniquities, past, present, and possible in the
future. More than once a master-at-arms ashore has been seized by
night by an exasperated crew, and served as Origen served
himself, or as his enemies served Abelard.

But though, under extreme provocation, _the people_ of a man-of-
war have been guilty of the maddest vengeance, yet, at other
times, they are very placable and milky-hearted, even to those
who may have outrageously abused them; many things in point might
be related, but I forbear.

This account of the master-at-arms cannot better be concluded
than by denominating him, in the vivid language of the Captain of
the Fore-top, as "_the two ends and middle of the thrice-laid
strand of a bloody rascal_," which was intended for a terse,
well-knit, and all-comprehensive assertion, without omission or
reservation. It was also asserted that, had Tophet itself been
raked with a fine-tooth comb, such another ineffable villain
could not by any possibility have been caught.



A day or two after our arrival in Rio, a rather amusing incident
occurred to a particular acquaintance of mine, young Lemsford,
the gun-deck bard.

The great guns of an armed ship have blocks of wood, called
_tompions_, painted black, inserted in their muzzles, to keep out
the spray of the sea. These tompions slip in and out very
handily, like covers to butter firkins.

By advice of a friend, Lemsford, alarmed for the fate of his box
of poetry, had latterly made use of a particular gun on the main-
deck, in the tube of which he thrust his manuscripts, by simply
crawling partly out of the porthole, removing the tompion,
inserting his papers, tightly rolled, and making all snug again.

Breakfast over, he and I were reclining in the main-top--where,
by permission of my noble master, Jack Chase, I had invited him--
when, of a sudden, we heard a cannonading. It was our own ship.

"Ah!" said a top-man, "returning the shore salute they gave us

"O Lord!" cried Lemsford, "my _Songs of the Sirens!_" and he ran
down the rigging to the batteries; but just as he touched the
gun-deck, gun No. 20--his literary strong-box--went off with a
terrific report.

"Well, my after-guard Virgil," said Jack Chase to him, as he
slowly returned up the rigging, "did you get it? You need not
answer; I see you were too late. But never mind, my boy: no
printer could do the business for you better. That's the way to
publish, White-Jacket," turning to me--"fire it right into 'em;
every canto a twenty-four-pound shot; _hull_ the blockheads,
whether they will or no. And mind you, Lemsford, when your shot
does the most execution, your hear the least from the foe. A
killed man cannot even lisp."

"Glorious Jack!" cried Lemsford, running up and snatching him by
the hand, "say that again, Jack! look me in the eyes. By all the
Homers, Jack, you have made my soul mount like a balloon! Jack,
I'm a poor devil of a poet. Not two months before I shipped
aboard here, I published a volume of poems, very aggressive on
the world, Jack. Heaven knows what it cost me. I published it,
Jack, and the cursed publisher sued me for damages; my friends
looked sheepish; one or two who liked it were non-committal; and
as for the addle-pated mob and rabble, they thought they had
found out a fool. Blast them, Jack, what they call the public is
a monster, like the idol we saw in Owhyhee, with the head of a
jackass, the body of a baboon, and the tail of a scorpion!"

"I don't like that," said Jack; "when I'm ashore, I myself am
part of the public."

"Your pardon, Jack; you are not, you are then a part of the
people, just as you are aboard the frigate here. The public is
one thing, Jack, and the people another."

"You are right," said Jack; "right as this leg. Virgil, you are a
trump; you are a jewel, my boy. The public and the people! Ay,
ay, my lads, let us hate the one and cleave to the other."



A day or two after the publication of Lemsford's "Songs of the
Sirens," a sad accident befell a mess-mate of mine, one of the
captains of the mizzen-top. He was a fine little Scot, who, from
the premature loss of the hair on the top of his head, always
went by the name of _Baldy_. This baldness was no doubt, in great
part, attributable to the same cause that early thins the locks
of most man-of-war's-men--namely, the hard, unyielding, and
ponderous man-of-war and navy-regulation tarpaulin hat, which,
when new, is stiff enough to sit upon, and indeed, in lieu of his
thumb, sometimes serves the common sailor for a bench.

Now, there is nothing upon which the Commodore of a squadron more
prides himself than upon the celerity with which his men can handle
the sails, and go through with all the evolutions pertaining thereto.
This is especially manifested in harbour, when other vessels of his
squadron are near, and perhaps the armed ships of rival nations.

Upon these occasions, surrounded by his post-captain sa-traps--
each of whom in his own floating island is king--the Commodore
domineers over all--emperor of the whole oaken archipelago; yea,
magisterial and magnificent as the Sultan of the Isles of Sooloo.

But, even as so potent an emperor and Caesar to boot as the great
Don of Germany, Charles the Fifth, was used to divert himself in
his dotage by watching the gyrations of the springs and cogs of a
long row of clocks, even so does an elderly Commodore while away
his leisure in harbour, by what is called "_exercising guns_,"
and also "_exercising yards and sails;_" causing the various
spars of all the ships under his command to be "braced,"
"topped," and "cock billed" in concert, while the Commodore
himself sits, something like King Canute, on an arm-chest on the
poop of his flag-ship.

But far more regal than any descendant of Charlemagne, more haughty
than any Mogul of the East, and almost mysterious and voiceless
in his authority as the Great Spirit of the Five Nations, the
Commodore deigns not to verbalise his commands; they are imparted
by signal.

And as for old Charles the Fifth, again, the gay-pranked,
coloured suits of cards were invented, to while away his dotage,
even so, doubtless, must these pretty little signals of blue and
red spotted _bunting_ have been devised to cheer the old age of
all Commodores.

By the Commodore's side stands the signal-midshipman, with a sea-
green bag swung on his shoulder (as a sportsman bears his game-
bag), the signal-book in one hand, and the signal spy-glass in
the other. As this signal-book contains the Masonic signs and
tokens of the navy, and would there-fore be invaluable to an
enemy, its binding is always bordered with lead, so as to insure
its sinking in case the ship should be captured. Not the only
book this, that might appropriately be bound in lead, though
there be many where the author, and not the bookbinder, furnishes
the metal.

As White-Jacket understands it, these signals consist of
variously-coloured flags, each standing for a certain number. Say
there are ten flags, representing the cardinal numbers--the red
flag, No. 1; the blue flag, No. 2; the green flag, No. 3, and so
forth; then, by mounting the blue flag over the red, that would
stand for No. 21: if the green flag were set underneath, it would
then stand for 213. How easy, then, by endless transpositions, to
multiply the various numbers that may be exhibited at the mizzen-
peak, even by only three or four of these flags.

To each number a particular meaning is applied. No. 100, for
instance, may mean, "_Beat to quarters_." No. 150, "_All hands to
grog_." No. 2000, "_Strike top-gallant-yards_." No. 2110, "_See
anything to windward?_" No. 2800, "_No_."

And as every man-of-war is furnished with a signal-book, where
all these things are set down in order, therefore, though two
American frigates--almost perfect strangers to each other--came
from the opposite Poles, yet at a distance of more than a mile
they could carry on a very liberal conversation in the air.

When several men-of-war of one nation lie at anchor in one port,
forming a wide circle round their lord and master, the flag-ship,
it is a very interesting sight to see them all obeying the
Commodore's orders, who meanwhile never opens his lips.

Thus was it with us in Rio, and hereby hangs the story of my poor
messmate Bally.

One morning, in obedience to a signal from our flag-ship, the
various vessels belonging to the American squadron then in
harbour simultaneously loosened their sails to dry. In the
evening, the signal was set to furl them. Upon such occasions,
great rivalry exists between the First Lieutenants of the
different ships; they vie with each other who shall first have
his sails stowed on the yards. And this rivalry is shared between
all the officers of each vessel, who are respectively placed over
the different top-men; so that the main-mast is all eagerness to
vanquish the fore-mast, and the mizzen-mast to vanquish them
both. Stimulated by the shouts of their officers, the sailors
throughout the squadron exert themselves to the utmost.

"Aloft, topmen! lay out! furl!" cried the First Lieutenant of
the Neversink.

At the word the men sprang into the rigging, and on all three
masts were soon climbing about the yards, in reckless haste, to
execute their orders.

Now, in furling top-sails or courses, the point of honour, and
the hardest work, is in the _bunt_, or middle of the yard; this
post belongs to the first captain of the top.

"What are you 'bout there, mizzen-top-men?" roared the First
Lieutenant, through his trumpet. "D----n you, you are clumsy as
Russian bears! don't you see the main--top-men are nearly off the
yard? Bear a hand, bear a hand, or I'll stop your grog all round!
You, Baldy! are you going to sleep there in the bunt?"

While this was being said, poor Baldy--his hat off, his face
streaming with perspiration--was frantically exerting himself,
piling up the ponderous folds of canvas in the middle of the
yard; ever and anon glancing at victorious Jack Chase, hard at
work at the main-top-sail-yard before him.

At last, the sail being well piled up, Baldy jumped with both
feet into the _bunt_, holding on with one hand to the chain
"_tie_," and in that manner was violently treading down the
canvas, to pack it close.

"D----n you, Baldy, why don't you move, you crawling caterpillar;"
roared the First Lieutenant.

Baldy brought his whole weight to bear on the rebellious sail,
and in his frenzied heedlessness let go his hold on the _tie_.

"You, Baldy! are you afraid of falling?" cried the First Lieutenant.

At that moment, with all his force, Baldy jumped down upon the
sail; the _bunt gasket_ parted; and a dark form dropped through
the air. Lighting upon the _top-rim_, it rolled off; and the next
instant, with a horrid crash of all his bones, Baldy came, like a
thunderbolt, upon the deck.

Aboard of most large men-of-war there is a stout oaken platform,
about four feet square, on each side of the quarter-deck. You
ascend to it by three or four steps; on top, it is railed in at
the sides, with horizontal brass bars. It is called _the Horse
Block;_ and there the officer of the deck usually stands, in
giving his orders at sea.

It was one of these horse blocks, now unoccupied, that broke poor
Baldy's fall. He fell lengthwise across the brass bars, bending
them into elbows, and crushing the whole oaken platform, steps
and all, right down to the deck in a thousand splinters.

He was picked up for dead, and carried below to the surgeon. His
bones seemed like those of a man broken on the wheel, and no one
thought he would survive the night. But with the surgeon's
skillful treatment he soon promised recovery. Surgeon Cuticle
devoted all his science to this case.

A curious frame-work of wood was made for the maimed man; and
placed in this, with all his limbs stretched out, Baldy lay flat
on the floor of the Sick-bay, for many weeks. Upon our arrival
home, he was able to hobble ashore on crutches; but from a hale,
hearty man, with bronzed cheeks, he was become a mere dislocated
skeleton, white as foam; but ere this, perhaps, his broken bones
are healed and whole in the last repose of the man-of-war's-man.

Not many days after Baldy's accident in furling sails--in this
same frenzied manner, under the stimulus of a shouting officer--a
seaman fell from the main-royal-yard of an English line-of-battle
ship near us, and buried his ankle-bones in the deck, leaving two
indentations there, as if scooped out by a carpenter's gouge.

The royal-yard forms a cross with the mast, and falling from that
lofty cross in a line-of-battle ship is almost like falling from
the cross of St. Paul's; almost like falling as Lucifer from the
well-spring of morning down to the Phlegethon of night.

In some cases, a man, hurled thus from a yard, has fallen upon
his own shipmates in the tops, and dragged them down with him to
the same destruction with himself.

Hardly ever will you hear of a man-of-war returning home after a
cruise, without the loss of some of her crew from aloft, whereas
similar accidents in the merchant service--considering the much
greater number of men employed in it--are comparatively few.

Why mince the matter? The death of most of these man-of-war's-men
lies at the door of the souls of those officers, who, while
safely standing on deck themselves, scruple not to sacrifice an
immortal man or two, in order to show off the excelling
discipline of the ship. And thus do _the people_ of the gun-deck
suffer, that the Commodore on the poop may be glorified.



Some allusion has been made to the weariness experienced by the
man-of-war's-men while lying at anchor; but there are scenes now
and then that serve to relieve it. Chief among these are the
Purser's auctions, taking place while in harbour. Some weeks, or
perhaps months, after a sailor dies in an armed vessel, his bag
of clothes is in this manner sold, and the proceeds transferred
to the account of his heirs or executors.

One of these auctions came off in Rio, shortly after the sad
accident of Baldy.

It was a dreamy, quiet afternoon, and the crew were listlessly
lying 'around, when suddenly the Boatswain's whistle was heard,
followed by the announcement, "D'ye hear there, fore and aft?
Purser's auction on the spar-deck!"

At the sound, the sailors sprang to their feet and mustered round
the main-mast. Presently up came the Purser's steward, marshalling
before him three or four of his subordinates, carrying several clothes'
bags, which were deposited at the base of the mast.

Our Purser's steward was a rather gentlemanly man in his way.
Like many young Americans of his class, he had at various times
assumed the most opposite functions for a livelihood, turning
from one to the other with all the facility of a light-hearted,
clever adventurer. He had been a clerk in a steamer on the
Mississippi River; an auctioneer in Ohio; a stock actor at the
Olympic Theatre in New York; and now he was Purser's steward in
the Navy. In the course of this deversified career his natural
wit and waggery had been highly spiced, and every way improved;
and he had acquired the last and most difficult art of the joker,
the art of lengthening his own face while widening those of his
hearers, preserving the utmost solemnity while setting them all
in a roar. He was quite a favourite with the sailors, which, in a
good degree, was owing to his humour; but likewise to his off-
hand, irresistible, romantic, theatrical manner of addressing them.

With a dignified air, he now mounted the pedestal of the main-
top-sail sheet-bitts, imposing silence by a theatrical wave of
his hand; meantime, his subordinates were rummaging the bags,
and assorting their contents before him.

"Now, my noble hearties," he began, "we will open this auction by
offering to your impartial competition a very superior pair of
old boots;" and so saying, he dangled aloft one clumsy cowhide
cylinder, almost as large as a fire bucket, as a specimen of the
complete pair.

"What shall I have now, my noble tars, for this superior pair of

"Where's t'other boot?" cried a suspicious-eyed waister. "I remember
them 'ere boots. They were old Bob's the quarter-gunner's; there was
two on 'em, too. I want to see t'other boot."

"My sweet and pleasant fellow," said the auctioneer, with his
blandest accents, "the other boot is not just at hand, but I give
you my word of honour that it in all respects cor-responds to the
one you here see--it does, I assure you. And I solemnly guarantee,
my noble sea-faring fencibles," he added, turning round upon all,
"that the other boot is the exact counterpart of this. Now, then, say
the word, my fine fellows. What shall I have? Ten dollars, did you
say?" politely bowing toward some indefinite person in the background.

"No; ten cents," responded a voice.

"Ten cents! ten cents! gallant sailors, for this noble pair of
boots," exclaimed the auctioneer, with affected horror; "I must
close the auction, my tars of Columbia; this will never do. But
let's have another bid; now, come," he added, coaxingly and
soothingly. "What is it? One dollar, one dollar then--one
dollar; going at one dollar; going, going--going. Just see how it
vibrates"--swinging the boot to and fro--"this superior pair of
sea-boots vibrating at one dollar; wouldn't pay for the nails in
their heels; going, going--gone!" And down went the boots.

"Ah, what a sacrifice! what a sacrifice!" he sighed, tearfully
eyeing the solitary fire-bucket, and then glancing round the
company for sympathy.

"A sacrifice, indeed!" exclaimed Jack Chase, who stood by; "Purser's
Steward, you are Mark Antony over the body of Julius Cesar."

"So I am, so I am," said the auctioneer, without moving a muscle.
"And look!" he exclaimed, suddenly seizing the boot, and
exhibiting it on high, "look, my noble tars, if you have tears,
prepare to shed them now. You all do know this boot. I remember
the first time ever old Bob put it on. 'Twas on a winter evening,
off Cape Horn, between the starboard carronades--that day his
precious grog was stopped. Look! in this place a mouse has
nibbled through; see what a rent some envious rat has made,
through this another filed, and, as he plucked his cursed rasp
away, mark how the bootleg gaped. This was the unkindest cut of
all. But whose are the boots?" suddenly assuming a business-like
air; "yours? yours? yours?"

But not a friend of the lamented Bob stood by.

"Tars of Columbia," said the auctioneer, imperatively, "these
boots must be sold; and if I can't sell them one way, I must sell
them another. How much _a pound_, now, for this superior pair of
old boots? going by _the pound_ now, remember, my gallant sailors!
what shall I have? one cent, do I hear? going now at one cent a

"Whose are they? Yours, Captain of the Waist? Well, my sweet and
pleasant friend, I will have them weighed out to you when the
auction is over."

In like manner all the contents of the bags were disposed of,
embracing old frocks, trowsers, and jackets, the various sums for
which they went being charged to the bidders on the books of the

Having been present at this auction, though not a purchaser, and
seeing with what facility the most dismantled old garments went
off, through the magical cleverness of the accomplished auctioneer,
the thought occurred to me, that if ever I calmly and positively
decided to dispose of my famous white jacket, this would be the very
way to do it. I turned the matter over in my mind a long time.

The weather in Rio was genial and warm, and that I would ever
again need such a thing as a heavy quilted jacket--and such a
jacket as the white one, too--seemed almost impossible. Yet I
remembered the American coast, and that it would probably be
Autumn when we should arrive there. Yes, I thought of all that,
to be sure; nevertheless, the ungovernable whim seized me to
sacrifice my jacket and recklessly abide the consequences.
Besides, was it not a horrible jacket? To how many annoyances had
it subjected me? How many scrapes had it dragged me into? Nay,
had it not once jeopardised my very existence? And I had a
dreadful presentiment that, if I persisted in retaining it, it
would do so again. Enough! I will sell it, I muttered; and so
muttering, I thrust my hands further down in my waistband, and
walked the main-top in the stern concentration of an inflexible
purpose. Next day, hearing that another auction was shortly to
take place, I repaired to the office of the Purser's steward,
with whom I was upon rather friendly terms. After vaguely and
delicately hinting at the object of my visit, I came roundly to
the point, and asked him whether he could slip my jacket into one
of the bags of clothes next to be sold, and so dispose of it by
public auction. He kindly acquiesced and the thing was done.

In due time all hands were again summoned round the main-mast;
the Purser's steward mounted his post, and the ceremony began.
Meantime, I lingered out of sight, but still within hearing, on
the gun-deck below, gazing up, un-perceived, at the scene.

As it is now so long ago, I will here frankly make confession
that I had privately retained the services of a friend--Williams,
the Yankee pedagogue and peddler--whose business it would be to
linger near the scene of the auction, and, if the bids on the
jacket loitered, to start it roundly himself; and if the bidding
then became brisk, he was continually to strike in with the most
pertinacious and infatuated bids, and so exasperate competition
into the maddest and most extravagant overtures.

A variety of other articles having been put up, the white jacket
was slowly produced, and, held high aloft between the auctioneer's
thumb and fore-finger, was submitted to the inspection of the
discriminating public.

Here it behooves me once again to describe my jacket; for, as a
portrait taken at one period of life will not answer for a later
stage; much more this jacket of mine, undergoing so many changes,
needs to be painted again and again, in order truly to present
its actual appearance at any given period.

A premature old age had now settled upon it; all over it bore
melancholy sears of the masoned-up pockets that had once trenched
it in various directions. Some parts of it were slightly mildewed
from dampness; on one side several of the buttons were gone, and
others were broken or cracked; while, alas! my many mad endeavours
to rub it black on the decks had now imparted to the whole garment
an exceedingly untidy appearance. Such as it was, with all its
faults, the auctioneer displayed it.

"You, venerable sheet-anchor-men! and you, gallant fore-top-men!
and you, my fine waisters! what do you say now for this superior
old jacket? Buttons and sleeves, lining and skirts, it must this
day be sold without reservation. How much for it, my gallant tars
of Columbia? say the word, and how much?"

"My eyes!" exclaimed a fore-top-man, "don't that 'ere bunch of
old swabs belong to Jack Chase's pet? Aren't that _the white jacket?_"

"_The white jacket!_" cried fifty voices in response; "_the white
jacket!_" The cry ran fore and aft the ship like a slogan,
completely overwhelming the solitary voice of my private friend
Williams, while all hands gazed at it with straining eyes,
wondering how it came among the bags of deceased mariners.

"Ay, noble tars," said the auctioneer, "you may well stare at it;
you will not find another jacket like this on either side of Cape
Horn, I assure you. Why, just look at it! How much, now? _Give_ me
a bid--but don't be rash; be prudent, be prudent, men; remember your
Purser's accounts, and don't be betrayed into extravagant bids."

"Purser's Steward!" cried Grummet, one of the quarter-gunners,
slowly shifting his quid from one cheek to the other, like a
ballast-stone, "I won't bid on that 'ere bunch of old swabs,
unless you put up ten pounds of soap with it."

"Don't mind that old fellow," said the auctioneer. "How much for
the jacket, my noble tars?"

"Jacket;" cried a dandy _bone polisher_ of the gun-room. "The
sail-maker was the tailor, then. How many fathoms of canvas in
it, Purser's Steward?"

"How much for this _jacket_?" reiterated the auctioneer, emphatically.

"_Jacket_, do you call it!" cried a captain of the hold.

"Why not call it a white-washed man-of-war schooner? Look at the
port-holes, to let in the air of cold nights."

"A reg'lar herring-net," chimed in Grummet.

"Gives me the _fever nagur_ to look at it," echoed a mizzen-top-man.

"Silence!" cried the auctioneer. "Start it now--start it, boys;
anything you please, my fine fellows! it _must_ be sold. Come,
what ought I to have on it, now?"

"Why, Purser's Steward," cried a waister, "you ought to have new
sleeves, a new lining, and a new body on it, afore you try to
shove it off on a greenhorn."

"What are you, 'busin' that 'ere garment for?" cried an old
sheet-anchor-man. "Don't you see it's a 'uniform mustering
jacket'--three buttons on one side, and none on t'other?"

"Silence!" again cried the auctioneer. "How much, my sea-
fencibles, for this superior old jacket?"

"Well," said Grummet, "I'll take it for cleaning-rags at one cent."

"Oh, come, give us a bid! say something, Colombians."

"Well, then," said Grummet, all at once bursting into genuine
indignation, "if you want us to say something, then heave that
bunch of old swabs overboard, _say I_, and show us something
worth looking at."

"No one will give me a bid, then? Very good; here, shove it
aside. Let's have something else there."

While this scene was going forward, and my white jacket was thus
being abused, how my heart swelled within me! Thrice was I on the
point of rushing out of my hiding-place, and bearing it off from
derision; but I lingered, still flattering myself that all would
be well, and the jacket find a purchaser at last. But no, alas!
there was no getting rid of it, except by rolling a forty-two-
pound shot in it, and committing it to the deep. But though, in
my desperation, I had once contemplated something of that sort,
yet I had now become unaccountably averse to it, from certain
involuntary superstitious considerations. If I sink my jacket,
thought I, it will be sure to spread itself into a bed at the
bottom of the sea, upon which I shall sooner or later recline, a
dead man. So, unable to conjure it into the possession of
another, and withheld from burying it out of sight for ever, my
jacket stuck to me like the fatal shirt on Nessus.



As the Purser's steward so conspicuously figured at the unsuccessful
auction of my jacket, it reminds me of how important a personage that
official is on board of all men-of-war. He is the right-hand man and
confidential deputy and clerk of the Purser, who intrusts to him all
his accounts with the crew, while, in most cases, he himself, snug and
comfortable in his state-room, glances over a file of newspapers
instead of overhauling his ledgers.

Of all the non-combatants of a man-of-war, the Purser, perhaps, stands
foremost in importance. Though he is but a member of the gun-room mess,
yet usage seems to assign him a conventional station somewhat above
that of his equals in navy rank--the Chaplain, Surgeon, and Professor.
Moreover, he is frequently to be seen in close conversation with the
Commodore, who, in the Neversink, was more than once known to be
slightly jocular with our Purser. Upon several occasions, also, he was
called into the Commodore's cabin, and remained closeted there for
several minutes together. Nor do I remember that there ever happened a
cabinet meeting of the ward-room barons, the Lieutenants, in the
Commodore's cabin, but the Purser made one of the party. Doubtless
the important fact of the Purser having under his charge all the
financial affairs of a man-of-war, imparts to him the great importance
he enjoys. Indeed, we find in every government--monarchies and
republics alike--that the personage at the head of the finances
invariably occupies a commanding position. Thus, in point of station,
the Secretary of the Treasury of the United States is deemed superior
to the other heads of departments. Also, in England, the real office
held by the great Premier himself is--as every one knows--that of
First Lord of the Treasury.

Now, under this high functionary of state, the official known as
the Purser's Steward was head clerk of the frigate's fiscal
affairs. Upon the berth-deck he had a regular counting-room, full
of ledgers, journals, and day-books. His desk was as much
littered with papers as any Pearl Street merchant's, and much
time was devoted to his accounts. For hours together you would
see him, through the window of his subterranean office, writing
by the light of his perpetual lamp.

_Ex-officio_, the Purser's Steward of most ships is a sort of
postmaster, and his office the post-office. When the letter-bags
for the squadron--almost as large as those of the United States
mail--arrived on board the Neversink, it was the Purser's Steward
that sat at his little window on the berth-deck and handed you
your letter or paper--if any there were to your address. Some
disappointed applicants among the sailors would offer to buy the
epistles of their more fortunate shipmates, while yet the seal
was unbroken--maintaining that the sole and confidential reading
of a fond, long, domestic letter from any man's home, was far
better than no letter at all.

In the vicinity of the office of the Purser's Steward are the
principal store-rooms of the Purser, where large quantities of
goods of every description are to be found. On board of those ships
where goods are permitted to be served out to the crew for the
purpose of selling them ashore, to raise money, more business is
transacted at the office of a Purser's Steward in one _Liberty-day_
morning than all the dry goods shops in a considerable village
would transact in a week.

Once a month, with undeviating regularity, this official has his
hands more than usually full. For, once a month, certain printed
bills, called Mess-bills, are circulated among the crew, and
whatever you may want from the Purser--be it tobacco, soap, duck,
dungaree, needles, thread, knives, belts, calico, ribbon, pipes,
paper, pens, hats, ink, shoes, socks, or whatever it may be--down
it goes on the mess-bill, which, being the next day returned to
the office of the Steward, the "slops," as they are called, are
served out to the men and charged to their accounts.

Lucky is it for man-of-war's-men that the outrageous impositions
to which, but a very few years ago, they were subjected from the
abuses in this department of the service, and the unscrupulous
cupidity of many of the pursers--lucky is it for them that _now_
these things are in a great degree done away. The Pursers, instead
of being at liberty to make almost what they pleased from the sale
of their wares, are now paid by regular stipends laid down by law.

Under the exploded system, the profits of some of these officers
were almost incredible. In one cruise up the Mediterranean, the
Purser of an American line-of-battle ship was, on good authority,
said to have cleared the sum of $50,000. Upon that he quitted the
service, and retired into the country. Shortly after, his three
daughters--not very lovely--married extremely well.

The ideas that sailors entertain of Pursers is expressed in a
rather inelegant but expressive saying of theirs: "The Purser is
a conjurer; he can make a dead man chew tobacco"--insinuating
that the accounts of a dead man are sometimes subjected to post-
mortem charges. Among sailors, also, Pursers commonly go by the
name of _nip-cheeses_.

No wonder that on board of the old frigate Java, upon her return
from a cruise extending over a period of more than four years, one
thousand dollars paid off eighty of her crew, though the aggregate
wages of the eighty for the voyage must have amounted to about sixty
thousand dollars. Even under the present system, the Purser of a
line-of-battle ship, for instance, is far better paid than any other
officer, short of Captain or Commodore. While the Lieutenant commonly
receives but eighteen hundred dollars, the Surgeon of the fleet but
fifteen hundred, the Chaplain twelve hundred, the Purser of a line-of-
battle ship receives thirty-five hundred dollars. In considering his
salary, however, his responsibilities are not to be over-looked; they
are by no means insignificant.

There are Pursers in the Navy whom the sailors exempt from the
insinuations above mentioned, nor, as a class, are they so
obnoxious to them now as formerly; for one, the florid old Purser
of the Neversink--never coming into disciplinary contact with the
seamen, and being withal a jovial and apparently good-hearted
gentleman--was something of a favourite with many of the crew.



While lying in the harbour of Callao, in Peru, certain rumours
had come to us touching a war with England, growing out of the
long-vexed Northeastern Boundary Question. In Rio these rumours
were increased; and the probability of hostilities induced our
Commodore to authorize proceedings that closely brought home to
every man on board the Neversink his liability at any time to be
killed at his gun.

Among other things, a number of men were detailed to pass up the
rusty cannon-balls from the shot-lockers in the hold, and scrape
them clean for service. The Commodore was a very neat gentleman,
and would not fire a dirty shot into his foe.

It was an interesting occasion for a tranquil observer; nor was
it altogether neglected. Not to recite the precise remarks made
by the seamen while pitching the shot up the hatchway from hand
to hand, like schoolboys playing ball ashore, it will be enough
to say that, from the general drift of their discourse--jocular
as it was--it was manifest that, almost to a man, they abhorred
the idea of going into action.

And why should they desire a war? Would their wages be raised?
Not a cent. The prize-money, though, ought to have been an
inducement. But of all the "rewards of virtue," prize-money is
the most uncertain; and this the man-of-war's-man knows. What,
then, has he to expect from war? What but harder work, and harder
usage than in peace; a wooden leg or arm; mortal wounds, and
death? Enough, however, that by far the majority of the common
sailors of the Neversink were plainly concerned at the prospect
of war, and were plainly averse to it.

But with the officers of the quarter-deck it was just the
reverse. None of them, to be sure, in my hearing at least,
verbally expressed their gratification; but it was unavoidably
betrayed by the increased cheerfulness of their demeanour toward
each other, their frequent fraternal conferences, and their
unwonted animation for several clays in issuing their orders. The
voice of Mad Jack--always a belfry to hear--now resounded like
that famous bell of England, Great Tom of Oxford. As for
Selvagee, he wore his sword with a jaunty air, and his servant
daily polished the blade.

But why this contrast between the forecastle and the quarter-
deck, between the man-of-war's-man and his officer? Because,
though war would equally jeopardize the lives of both, yet, while
it held out to the sailor no promise of promotion, and what is
called _glory_, these things fired the breast of his officers.

It is no pleasing task, nor a thankful one, to dive into the
souls of some men; but there are occasions when, to bring up the
mud from the bottom, reveals to us on what soundings we are, on
what coast we adjoin.

How were these officers to gain glory? How but by a distinguished
slaughtering of their fellow-men. How were they to be promoted?
How but over the buried heads of killed comrades and mess-mates.

This hostile contrast between the feelings with which the common
seamen and the officers of the Neversink looked forward to this
more than possible war, is one of many instances that might be
quoted to show the antagonism of their interests, the incurable
antagonism in which they dwell. But can men, whose interests are
diverse, ever hope to live together in a harmony uncoerced? Can
the brotherhood of the race of mankind ever hope to prevail in a
man-of-war, where one man's bane is almost another's blessing? By
abolishing the scourge, shall we do away tyranny; _that_ tyranny
which must ever prevail, where of two essentially antagonistic
classes in perpetual contact, one is immeasurably the stronger?
Surely it seems all but impossible. And as the very object of a
man-of-war, as its name implies, is to fight the very battles so
naturally averse to the seamen; so long as a man-of-war exists,
it must ever remain a picture of much that is tyrannical and
repelling in human nature.

Being an establishment much more extensive than the American
Navy, the English armed marine furnishes a yet more striking
example of this thing, especially as the existence of war
produces so vast an augmentation of her naval force compared with
what it is in time of peace. It is well known what joy the news
of Bonaparte's sudden return from Elba created among crowds of
British naval officers, who had previously been expecting to be
sent ashore on half-pay. Thus, when all the world wailed, these
officers found occasion for thanksgiving. I urge it not against
them as men--their feelings belonged to their profession. Had
they not been naval officers, they had not been rejoicers in the
midst of despair.

When shall the time come, how much longer will God postpone it,
when the clouds, which at times gather over the horizons of
nations, shall not be hailed by any class of humanity, and
invoked to burst as a bomb? Standing navies, as well as standing
armies, serve to keep alive the spirit of war even in the meek
heart of peace. In its very embers and smoulderings, they nourish
that fatal fire, and half-pay officers, as the priests of Mars,
yet guard the temple, though no god be there.



I have said that I must pass over Rio without a description; but
just now such a flood of scented reminiscences steals over me,
that I must needs yield and recant, as I inhale that musky air.

More than one hundred and fifty miles' circuit of living green
hills embosoms a translucent expanse, so gemmed in by sierras of
grass, that among the Indian tribes the place was known as "The
Hidden Water." On all sides, in the distance, rise high conical
peaks, which at sunrise and sunset burn like vast tapers; and
down from the interior, through vineyards and forests, flow
radiating streams, all emptying into the harbour.

Talk not of Bahia de Todos os Santos--the Bay of All Saints; for
though that be a glorious haven, yet Rio is the Bay of all
Rivers--the Bay of all Delights--the Bay of all Beauties. From
circumjacent hill-sides, untiring summer hangs perpetually in
terraces of vivid verdure; and, embossed with old mosses, convent
and castle nestle in valley and glen.

All round, deep inlets run into the green mountain land, and,
overhung with wild Highlands, more resemble Loch Katrines than
Lake Lemans. And though Loch Katrine has been sung by the
bonneted Scott, and Lake Leman by the coroneted Byron; yet here,
in Rio, both the loch and the lake are but two wild flowers in a
prospect that is almost unlimited. For, behold! far away and
away, stretches the broad blue of the water, to yonder soft-
swelling hills of light green, backed by the purple pinnacles
and pipes of the grand Organ Mountains; fitly so called, for in
thunder-time they roll cannonades down the bay, drowning the
blended bass of all the cathedrals in Rio. Shout amain, exalt
your voices, stamp your feet, jubilate, Organ Mountains! and roll
your Te Deums round the world!

What though, for more than five thousand five hundred years, this
grand harbour of Rio lay hid in the hills, unknown by the Catholic
Portuguese? Centuries ere Haydn performed before emperors and kings,
these Organ Mountains played his Oratorio of the Creation, before
the Creator himself. But nervous Haydn could not have endured that
cannonading choir, since this composer of thunderbolts himself died at
last through the crashing commotion of Napoleon's bombardment of Vienna.

But all mountains are Organ Mountains: the Alps and the Himalayas;
the Appalachian Chain, the Ural, the Andes, the Green Hills and the
White. All of them play anthems forever: The Messiah, and Samson, and
Israel in Egypt, and Saul, and Judas Maccabeus, and Solomon.

Archipelago Rio! ere Noah on old Ararat anchored his ark, there
lay anchored in you all these green, rocky isles I now see. But
God did not build on you, isles! those long lines of batteries;
nor did our blessed Saviour stand godfather at the christening of
yon frowning fortress of Santa Cruz, though named in honour of
himself, the divine Prince of Peace!

Amphitheatrical Rio! in your broad expanse might be held the
Resurrection and Judgment-day of the whole world's men-of-war,
represented by the flag-ships of fleets--the flag-ships of the
Phoenician armed galleys of Tyre and Sidon; of King Solomon's
annual squadrons that sailed to Ophir; whence in after times,
perhaps, sailed the Acapulco fleets of the Spaniards, with
golden ingots for ballasting; the flag-ships of all the Greek and
Persian craft that exchanged the war-hug at Salamis; of all the
Roman and Egyptian galleys that, eagle-like, with blood-dripping
prows, beaked each other at Actium; of all the Danish keels of
the Vikings; of all the musquito craft of Abba Thule, king of the
Pelaws, when he went to vanquish Artinsall; of all the Venetian,
Genoese, and Papal fleets that came to the shock at Lepanto; of
both horns of the crescent of the Spanish Armada; of the
Portuguese squadron that, under the gallant Gama, chastised the
Moors, and discovered the Moluccas; of all the Dutch navies red
by Van Tromp, and sunk by Admiral Hawke; of the forty-seven
French and Spanish sail-of-the-line that, for three months,
essayed to batter down Gibraltar; of all Nelson's seventy-fours
that thunder-bolted off St. Vincent's, at the Nile, Copenhagen,
and Trafalgar; of all the frigate-merchantmen of the East India
Company; of Perry's war-brigs, sloops, and schooners that
scattered the British armament on Lake Erie; of all the Barbary
corsairs captured by Bainbridge; of the war-canoes of the
Polynesian kings, Tammahammaha and Pomare--ay! one and all, with
Commodore Noah for their Lord High Admiral--in this abounding Bay
of Rio these flag-ships might all come to anchor, and swing round
in concert to the first of the flood.

Rio is a small Mediterranean; and what was fabled of the entrance
to that sea, in Rio is partly made true; for here, at the mouth,
stands one of Hercules' Pillars, the Sugar-Loaf Mountain, one
thousand feet high, inclining over a little, like the Leaning
Tower of Pisa. At its base crouch, like mastiffs, the batteries
of Jose and Theodosia; while opposite, you are menaced by a rock-
founded fort.

The channel between--the sole inlet to the bay--seems but a
biscuit's toss over; you see naught of the land-locked sea within
till fairly in the strait. But, then, what a sight is beheld!
Diversified as the harbour of Constantinople, but a thousand-fold
grander. When the Neversink swept in, word was passed, "Aloft,
top-men! and furl t'-gallant-sails and royals!"

At the sound I sprang into the rigging, and was soon at my perch.
How I hung over that main-royal-yard in a rapture High in air,
poised over that magnificent bay, a new world to my ravished
eyes, I felt like the foremost of a flight of angels, new-lighted
upon earth, from some star in the Milky Way.



We had not lain in Rio long, when in the innermost recesses of
the mighty soul of my noble Captain of the Top--incomparable Jack
Chase--the deliberate opinion was formed, and rock-founded, that
our ship's company must have at least one day's "_liberty_" to go
ashore ere we weighed anchor for home.

Here it must be mentioned that, concerning anything of this kind,
no sailor in a man-of-war ever presumes to be an agitator, unless
he is of a rank superior to a mere able-seaman; and no one short
of a petty officer--that is, a captain of the top, a quarter-
gunner, or boatswain's mate--ever dreams of being a spokesman to
the supreme authority of the vessel in soliciting any kind of
favor for himself and shipmates.

After canvassing the matter thoroughly with several old quarter-
masters and other dignified sea-fencibles, Jack, hat in hand,
made his appearance, one fine evening, at the mast, and, waiting
till Captain Claret drew nigh, bowed, and addressed him in his
own off-hand, polished, and poetical style. In his intercourse
with the quarter-deck, he always presumed upon his being such a
universal favourite.

"Sir, this Rio is a charming harbour, and we poor mariners--your
trusty sea-warriors, valiant Captain! who, with _you_ at their
head, would board the Rock of Gibraltar itself, and carry it by
storm--we poor fellows, valiant Captain! have gazed round upon
this ravishing landscape till we can gaze no more. Will Captain
Claret vouchsafe one day's liberty, and so assure himself of
eternal felicity, since, in our flowing cups, he will be ever
after freshly remembered?"

As Jack thus rounded off with a snatch from Shakspeare, he
saluted the Captain with a gallant flourish of his tarpaulin, and
then, bringing the rim to his mouth, with his head bowed, and his
body thrown into a fine negligent attitude, stood a picture of
eloquent but passive appeal. He seemed to say, Magnanimous
Captain Claret, we fine fellows, and hearts of oak, throw
ourselves upon your unparalleled goodness.

"And what do you want to go ashore for?" asked the Captain,
evasively, and trying to conceal his admiration of Jack by
affecting some haughtiness.

"Ah! sir," sighed Jack, "why do the thirsty camels of the desert
desire to lap the waters of the fountain and roll in the green
grass of the oasis? Are we not but just from the ocean Sahara?
and is not this Rio a verdant spot, noble Captain? Surely you
will not keep us always tethered at anchor, when a little more
cable would admit of our cropping the herbage! And it is a weary
thing, Captain Claret, to be imprisoned month after month on the
gun-deck, without so much as smelling a citron. Ah! Captain Claret,
what sings sweet Waller:
     'But who can always on the billows lie?
      The watery wilderness yields no supply.'
compared with such a prisoner, noble Captain,
     'Happy, thrice happy, who, in battle slain,
      Press'd in Atrides' cause the Trojan pain!'
Pope's version, sir, not the original Greek."

And so saying, Jack once more brought his hat-rim to his mouth,
and slightly bending forward, stood mute.

At this juncture the Most Serene Commodore himself happened to
emerge from the after-gangway, his gilded buttons, epaulets, and
the gold lace on his chapeau glittering in the flooding sunset.
Attracted by the scene between Captain Claret and so well-known
and admired a commoner as Jack Chase he approached, and assuming
for the moment an air of pleasant condescension--never shown to
his noble barons the officers of the ward-room--he said, with a
smile, "Well, Jack, you and your shipmates are after some favour,
I suppose--a day's liberty, is it not?"

Whether it was the horizontal setting sun, streaming along the
deck, that blinded Jack, or whether it was in sun-worshipping
homage of the mighty Commodore, there is no telling; but just at
this juncture noble Jack was standing reverentially holding his
hat to his brow, like a man with weak eyes.

"Valiant Commodore," said he, at last, "this audience is indeed
an honour undeserved. I almost sink beneath it. Yes, valiant
Commodore, your sagacious mind has truly divined our object.
Liberty, sir; liberty is, indeed, our humble prayer. I trust your
honourable wound, received in glorious battle, valiant Comodore,
pains you less today than common."

"Ah! cunning Jack!" cried the Commodore, by no means blind to the
bold sortie of his flattery, but not at all displeased with it.
In more respects than one, our Commodore's wound was his weak side.

"I think we must give them liberty," he added, turning to Captain
Claret; who thereupon, waving Jack further off, fell into
confidential discourse with his superior.

"Well, Jack, we will see about it," at last cried the Commodore,
advancing. "I think we must let you go."

"To your duty, captain of the main-top!" said the Captain, rather
stiffly. He wished to neutralise somewhat the effect of the
Commodore's condescension. Besides, he had much rather the
Commodore had been in his cabin. His presence, for the time,
affected his own supremacy in his ship. But Jack was nowise cast
down by the Captain's coldness; he felt safe enough; so he
proceeded to offer his acknowledgments.

"'Kind gentlemen,'" he sighed, "your pains are registered where
every day I turn the leaf to read'--Macbeth, valiant Commodore and
Captain!--what the Thane says to the noble lords, Ross and Angus."

And long and lingeringly bowing to the two noble officers, Jack
backed away from their presence, still shading his eyes with the
broad rim of his hat.

"Jack Chase for ever!" cried his shipmates, as he carried the
grateful news of liberty to them on the forecastle. "Who can talk
to Commodores like our matchless Jack!"



It was the next morning after matchless Jack's interview with the
Commodore and Captain, that a little incident occurred, soon
forgotten by the crew at large, but long remembered by the few
seamen who were in the habit of closely scrutinising every-day
proceedings. Upon the face of it, it was but a common event--at
least in a man-of-war--the flogging of a man at the gangway. But
the under-current of circumstances in the case were of a nature
that magnified this particular flogging into a matter of no
small importance. The story itself cannot here be related; it
would not well bear recital: enough that the person flogged was a
middle-aged man of the Waist--a forlorn, broken-down, miserable
object, truly; one of those wretched landsmen sometimes driven
into the Navy by their unfitness for all things else, even as
others are driven into the workhouse. He was flogged at the
complaint of a midshipman; and hereby hangs the drift of the
thing. For though this waister was so ignoble a mortal, yet his
being scourged on this one occasion indirectly proceeded from the
mere wanton spite and unscrupulousness of the midshipman in
question--a youth, who was apt to indulge at times in undignified
familiarities with some of the men, who, sooner or later, almost
always suffered from his capricious preferences.

But the leading principle that was involved in this affair is far too
mischievous to be lightly dismissed.

In most cases, it would seem to be a cardinal principle with a Navy
Captain that his subordinates are disintegrated parts of himself,
detached from the main body on special service, and that the order of
the minutest midshipman must be as deferentially obeyed by the seamen
as if proceeding from the Commodore on the poop. This principle was
once emphasised in a remarkable manner by the valiant and handsome
Sir Peter Parker, upon whose death, on a national arson expedition on
the shores of Chesapeake Bay, in 1812 or 1813, Lord Byron wrote his
well-known stanzas. "By the god of war!" said Sir Peter to his sailors,
"I'll make you touch your hat to a midshipman's coat, if it's only
hung on a broomstick to dry!"

That the king, in the eye of the law, can do no wrong, is the well-
known fiction of despotic states; but it has remained for the navies
of Constitutional Monarchies and Republics to magnify this fiction,
by indirectly extending it to all the quarter-deck subordinates of an
armed ship's chief magistrate. And though judicially unrecognised, and
unacknowledged by the officers themselves, yet this is the principle
that pervades the fleet; this is the principle that is every hour
acted upon, and to sustain which, thousands of seamen have been flogged
at the gangway.

However childish, ignorant, stupid, or idiotic a midshipman, if he but
orders a sailor to perform even the most absurd action, that man is not
only bound to render instant and unanswering obedience, but he would
refuse at his peril. And if, having obeyed, he should then complain to
the Captain, and the Captain, in his own mind, should be thoroughly
convinced of the impropriety, perhaps of the illegality of the order,
yet, in nine cases out of ten, he would not publicly reprimand the
midshipman, nor by the slightest token admit before the complainant
that, in this particular thing, the midshipman had done otherwise
than perfectly right.

Upon a midshipman's complaining of a seaman to Lord Collingwood,
when Captain of a line-of-battle ship, he ordered the man for
punishment; and, in the interval, calling the midshipman aside,
said to him, "In all probability, now, the fault is yours--you
know; therefore, when the man is brought to the mast, you had
better ask for his pardon."

Accordingly, upon the lad's public intercession, Collingwood,
turning to the culprit, said, "This young gentleman has pleaded
so humanely for you, that, in hope you feel a due gratitude to
him for his benevolence, I will, for this time, overlook your
offence." This story is related by the editor of the Admiral's
"Correspondence," to show the Admiral's kindheartedness.

Now Collingood was, in reality, one of the most just, humane, and
benevolent admirals that ever hoisted a flag. For a sea-officer,
Collingwood was a man in a million. But if a man like him, swayed by
old usages, could thus violate the commonest principle of justice--
with however good motives at bottom--what must be expected from other
Captains not so eminently gifted with noble traits as Collingwood?

And if the corps of American midshipmen is mostly replenished
from the nursery, the counter, and the lap of unrestrained
indulgence at home: and if most of them at least, by their
impotency as officers, in all important functions at sea, by
their boyish and overweening conceit of their gold lace, by their
overbearing manner toward the seamen, and by their peculiar
aptitude to construe the merest trivialities of manner into set
affronts against their dignity; if by all this they sometimes
contract the ill-will of the seamen; and if, in a thousand ways,
the seamen cannot but betray it--how easy for any of these
midshipmen, who may happen to be unrestrained by moral principle,
to resort to spiteful practices in procuring vengeance upon the
offenders, in many instances to the extremity of the lash; since,
as we have seen, the tacit principle in the Navy seems to be
that, in his ordinary intercourse with the sailors, a midshipman
can do nothing obnoxious to the public censure of his superiors.

"You fellow, I'll get you _licked_ before long," is often heard
from a midshipman to a sailor who, in some way not open to the
judicial action of the Captain, has chanced to offend him.

At times you will see one of these lads, not five feet high,
gazing up with inflamed eye at some venerable six-footer of a
forecastle man, cursing and insulting him by every epithet deemed
most scandalous and unendurable among men. Yet that man's
indignant tongue is treble-knotted by the law, that suspends
death itself over his head should his passion discharge the
slightest blow at the boy-worm that spits at his feet.

But since what human nature is, and what it must for ever continue to
be, is well enough understood for most practical purposes, it needs no
special example to prove that, where the merest boys, indiscriminately
snatched from the human family, are given such authority over mature
men, the results must be proportionable in monstrousness to the custom
that authorises this worse than cruel absurdity.

Nor is it unworthy of remark that, while the noblest-minded and
most heroic sea-officers--men of the topmost stature, including
Lord Nelson himself--have regarded flogging in the Navy with the
deepest concern, and not without weighty scruples touching its
general necessity, still, one who has seen much of midshipmen can
truly say that he has seen but few midshipmen who were not
enthusiastic advocates and admirers of scourging. It would almost
seem that they themselves, having so recently escaped the
posterior discipline of the nursery and the infant school, are
impatient to recover from those smarting reminiscences by mincing
the backs of full-grown American freemen.

It should not to be omitted here, that the midshipmen in the
English Navy are not permitted to be quite so imperious as in the
American ships. They are divided into three (I think) probationary
classes of "volunteers," instead of being at once advanced to a
warrant. Nor will you fail to remark, when you see an English
cutter officered by one of those volunteers, that the boy does
not so strut and slap his dirk-hilt with a Bobadil air, and
anticipatingly feel of the place where his warlike whiskers
are going to be, and sputter out oaths so at the men, as is too
often the case with the little boys wearing best-bower anchors on
their lapels in the American Navy.

Yet it must he confessed that at times you see midshipmen who are
noble little fellows, and not at all disliked by the crew. Besides
three gallant youths, one black-eyed little lad in particular, in the
Neversink, was such a one. From his diminutiveness, he went by the name
of _Boat Plug_ among the seamen. Without being exactly familiar with
them, he had yet become a general favourite, by reason of his kindness
of manner, and never cursing them. It was amusing to hear some of the
older Tritons invoke blessings upon the youngster, when his kind tones
fell on their weather-beaten ears. "Ah, good luck to you, sir!" touching
their hats to the little man; "you have a soul to be saved, sir!" There
was a wonderful deal of meaning involved in the latter sentence. _You
have a soul to be saved_, is the phrase which a man-of-war's-man
peculiarly applies to a humane and kind-hearted officer. It also implies
that the majority of quarter-deck officers are regarded by them in such
a light that they deny to them the possession of souls. Ah! but these
plebeians sometimes have a sublime vengeance upon patricians. Imagine an
outcast old sailor seriously cherishing the purely speculative conceit
that some bully in epaulets, who orders him to and fro like a slave, is
of an organization immeasurably inferior to himself; must at last perish
with the brutes, while he goes to his immortality in heaven.

But from what has been said in this chapter, it must not be inferred
that a midshipman leads a lord's life in a man-of-war. Far from it.
He lords it over those below him, while lorded over himself by his
superiors. It is as if with one hand a school-boy snapped his fingers
at a dog, and at the same time received upon the other the discipline
of the usher's ferule. And though, by the American Articles of War, a
Navy Captain cannot, of his own authority, legally punish a midshipman,
otherwise than by suspension from duty (the same as with respect to the
Ward-room officers), yet this is one of those sea-statutes which the
Captain, to a certain extent, observes or disregards at his pleasure.
Many instances might be related of the petty mortifications and official
insults inflicted by some Captains upon their midshipmen; far more
severe, in one sense, than the old-fashioned punishment of sending them
to the mast-head, though not so arbitrary as sending them before the
mast, to do duty with the common sailors--a custom, in former times,
pursued by Captains in the English Navy.

Captain Claret himself had no special fondness for midshipmen. A
tall, overgrown young midshipman, about sixteen years old, having
fallen under his displeasure, he interrupted the humble apologies
he was making, by saying, "Not a word, sir! I'll not hear a word!
Mount the netting, sir, and stand there till you are ordered to
come down!"

The midshipman obeyed; and, in full sight of the entire ship's
company, Captain Claret promenaded to and fro below his lofty
perch, reading him a most aggravating lecture upon his alleged
misconduct. To a lad of sensibility, such treatment must have
been almost as stinging as the lash itself would have been.

It is to be remembered that, wherever these chapters treat of
midshipmen, the officers known as passed-midshipmen are not at
all referred to. In the American Navy, these officers form a
class of young men, who, having seen sufficient service at sea as
midshipmen to pass an examination before a Board of Commodores,
are promoted to the rank of passed-midshipmen, introductory to
that of lieutenant. They are supposed to be qualified to do duty
as lieutenants, and in some cases temporarily serve as such. The
difference between a passed-midshipman and a midshipman may be
also inferred from their respective rates of pay. The former,
upon sea-service, receives $750 a year; the latter, $400. There
were no passed-midshipmen in the Neversink.



It has been said that some midshipmen, in certain cases, are
guilty of spiteful practices against the man-of-war's-man. But as
these midshipmen are presumed to have received the liberal and
lofty breeding of gentlemen, it would seem all but incredible
that any of their corps could descend to the paltriness of
cherishing personal malice against so conventionally degraded a
being as a sailor. So, indeed, it would seem. But when all the
circumstances are considered, it will not appear extraordinary
that some of them should thus cast discredit upon the warrants
they wear. Title, and rank, and wealth, and education cannot
unmake human nature; the same in cabin-boy and commodore, its
only differences lie in the different modes of development.

At sea, a frigate houses and homes five hundred mortals in a
space so contracted that they can hardly so much as move but they
touch. Cut off from all those outward passing things which ashore
employ the eyes, tongues, and thoughts of landsmen, the inmates
of a frigate are thrown upon themselves and each other, and all
their ponderings are introspective. A morbidness of mind is often
the consequence, especially upon long voyages, accompanied by foul
weather, calms, or head-winds. Nor does this exempt from its evil
influence any rank on board. Indeed, high station only ministers
to it the more, since the higher the rank in a man-of-war, the
less companionship.

It is an odious, unthankful, repugnant thing to dwell upon a
subject like this; nevertheless, be it said, that, through these
jaundiced influences, even the captain of a frigate is, in some
cases, indirectly induced to the infliction of corporal punishment
upon a seaman. Never sail under a navy captain whom you suspect
of being dyspeptic, or constitutionally prone to hypochondria.

The manifestation of these things is sometimes remarkable. In the
earlier part of the cruise, while making a long, tedious run from
Mazatlan to Callao on the Main, baffled by light head winds and
frequent intermitting calms, when all hands were heartily wearied
by the torrid, monotonous sea, a good-natured fore-top-man, by
the name of Candy--quite a character in his way--standing in the
waist among a crowd of seamen, touched me, and said, "D'ye see
the old man there, White-Jacket, walking the poop? Well, don't he
look as if he wanted to flog someone? Look at him once."

But to me, at least, no such indications were visible in the
deportment of the Captain, though his thrashing the arm-chest
with the slack of the spanker-out-haul looked a little suspicious.
But any one might have been doing that to pass away a calm.

"Depend on it," said the top-man, "he must somehow have thought I
was making sport of _him_ a while ago, when I was only taking off
old Priming, the gunner's mate. Just look at him once, White-Jacket,
while I make believe coil this here rope; if there arn't a dozen in
that 'ere Captain's top-lights, my name is _horse-marine_. If I could
only touch my tile to him now, and take my Bible oath on it, that I
was only taking off Priming, and not _him_, he wouldn't have such
hard thoughts of me. But that can't be done; he'd think I meant to
insult him. Well, it can't be helped; I suppose I must look out for
a baker's dozen afore long."

I had an incredulous laugh at this. But two days afterward, when
we were hoisting the main-top-mast stun'-sail, and the Lieutenant
of the Watch was reprimanding the crowd of seamen at the halyards
for their laziness--for the sail was but just crawling up to its
place, owing to the languor of the men, induced by the heat--the
Captain, who had been impatiently walking the deck, suddenly
stopped short, and darting his eyes among the seamen, suddenly
fixed them, crying out, "You, Candy, and be damned to you, you
don't pull an ounce, you blackguard! Stand up to that gun, sir;
I'll teach you to be grinning over a rope that way, without
lending your pound of beef to it. Boatswain's mate, where's your
_colt?_ Give that man a dozen."

Removing his hat, the boatswain's mate looked into the crown aghast;
the coiled rope, usually worn there, was not to be found; but the
next instant it slid from the top of his head to the deck. Picking
it up, and straightening it out, he advanced toward the sailor.

"Sir," said Candy, touching and retouching his cap to the Captain,
"I was pulling, sir, as much as the rest, sir; I was, indeed, sir."

"Stand up to that gun," cried the Captain. "Boatswain's mate, do
your duty."

Three stripes were given, when the Captain raised his finger.
"You------,[3] do you dare stand up to be flogged with your hat on!
Take it off, sir, instantly."

[FOOTNOTE-3] The phrase here used I have never seen either written
or printed, and should not like to be the first person to introduce
it to the public.

Candy dropped it on deck.

"Now go on, boatswain's mate." And the sailor received his dozen.

With his hand to his back he came up to me, where I stood among
the by-standers, saying, "O Lord, O Lord! that boatswain's mate,
too, had a spite agin me; he always thought it was _me_ that set
afloat that yarn about his wife in Norfolk. O Lord! just run your
hand under my shirt will you, White-Jacket? There!! didn't he
have a spite agin me, to raise such bars as them? And my shirt
all cut to pieces, too--arn't it, White-Jacket? Damn me, but
these coltings puts the tin in the Purser's pocket. O Lord! my
back feels as if there was a red-hot gridiron lashed to it. But I
told you so--a widow's curse on him, say I--he thought I meant
_him_, and not Priming."



Whenever, in intervals of mild benevolence, or yielding to mere
politic dictates, Kings and Commodores relax the yoke of
servitude, they should see to it well that the concession seem
not too sudden or unqualified; for, in the commoner's estimation,
that might argue feebleness or fear.

Hence it was, perhaps, that, though noble Jack had carried the
day captive in his audience at the mast, yet more than thirty-six
hours elapsed ere anything official was heard of the "liberty"
his shipmates so earnestly coveted. Some of the people began to
growl and grumble.

"It's turned out all gammon, Jack," said one.

"Blast the Commodore!" cried another, "he bamboozled you, Jack."

"Lay on your oars a while," answered Jack, "and we shall see;
we've struck for liberty, and liberty we'll have! I'm your
tribune, boys; I'm your Rienzi. The Commodore must keep his word."

Next day, about breakfast-time, a mighty whistling and piping was
heard at the main-hatchway, and presently the boatswain's voice
was heard: "D'ye hear there, fore and aft! all you starboard-
quarter watch! get ready to go ashore on liberty!"

In a paroxysm of delight, a young mizzen-top-man, standing by at
the time, whipped the tarpaulin from his head, and smashed it
like a pancake on the deck. "Liberty!" he shouted, leaping down
into the berth-deck after his bag.

At the appointed hour, the quarter-watch mustered round the
capstan, at which stood our old First Lord of the Treasury and
Pay-Master-General, the Purser, with several goodly buck-skin
bags of dollars, piled up on the capstan. He helped us all round
to half a handful or so, and then the boats were manned, and,
like so many Esterhazys, we were pulled ashore by our shipmates.
All their lives lords may live in listless state; but give the
commoners a holiday, and they outlord the Commodore himself.

The ship's company were divided into four sections or quarter-
watches, only one of which were on shore at a time, the rest
remaining to garrison the frigate--the term of liberty for each
being twenty-four hours.

With Jack Chase and a few other discreet and gentlemanly top-
men, I went ashore on the first day, with the first quarter-
watch. Our own little party had a charming time; we saw many fine
sights; fell in--as all sailors must--with dashing adventures.
But, though not a few good chapters might be written on this
head, I must again forbear; for in this book I have nothing to do
with the shore further than to glance at it, now and then, from
the water; my man-of-war world alone must supply me with the
staple of my matter; I have taken an oath to keep afloat to the
last letter of my narrative.

Had they all been as punctual as Jack Chase's party, the whole
quarter-watch of liberty-men had been safe on board the frigate
at the expiration of the twenty-four hours. But this was not the
case; and during the entire day succeeding, the midshipmen and
others were engaged in ferreting them out of their hiding-places on
shore, and bringing them off in scattered detachments to the ship.

They came in all imaginable stages of intoxication; some with
blackened eyes and broken heads; some still more severely
injured, having been stabbed in frays with the Portuguese
soldiers. Others, unharmed, were immediately dropped on the gun-
deck, between the guns, where they lay snoring for the rest of
the day. As a considerable degree of license is invariably
permitted to man-of-war's-men just "off liberty," and as man-of-
war's-men well know this to be the case, they occasionally avail
themselves of the privilege to talk very frankly to the officers
when they first cross the gangway, taking care, meanwhile, to
reel about very industriously, so that there shall be no doubt
about their being seriously intoxicated, and altogether _non
compos_ for the time. And though but few of them have cause to
feign intoxication, yet some individuals may be suspected of
enacting a studied part upon these occasions. Indeed--judging by
certain symptoms--even when really inebriated, some of the
sailors must have previously determined upon their conduct; just
as some persons who, before taking the exhilarating gas, secretly
make up their minds to perform certain mad feats while under its
influence, which feats consequently come to pass precisely as if
the actors were not accountable for them.

For several days, while the other quarter-watches were given liberty,
the Neversink presented a sad scene. She was more like a madhouse
than a frigate; the gun-deck resounded with frantic fights, shouts,
and songs. All visitors from shore were kept at a cable's length.

These scenes, however, are nothing to those which have repeatedly
been enacted in American men-of-war upon other stations. But the
custom of introducing women on board, in harbour, is now pretty
much discontinued, both in the English and American Navy, unless
a ship, commanded by some dissolute Captain, happens to lie in
some far away, outlandish port, in the Pacific or Indian Ocean.

The British line-of-battle ship, Royal George, which in 1782 sunk
at her anchors at Spithead, carried down three hundred English
women among the one thousand souls that were drowned on that
memorable morning.

When, at last, after all the mad tumult and contention of "Liberty,"
the reaction came, our frigate presented a very different scene.
The men looked jaded and wan, lethargic and lazy; and many an old
mariner, with hand upon abdomen, called upon the Flag-staff to
witness that there were more _hot coppers_ in the Neversink than
those in the ship's galley.

Such are the lamentable effects of suddenly and completely
releasing "_the people_" of a man-of-war from arbitrary
discipline. It shows that, to such, "liberty," at first, must be
administered in small and moderate quantities, increasing with
the patient's capacity to make good use of it.

Of course while we lay in Rio, our officers frequently went
ashore for pleasure, and, as a general thing, conducted
themselves with propriety. But it is a sad thing to say, that, as
for Lieutenant Mad Jack, he enjoyed himself so delightfully for
three consecutive days in the town, that, upon returning to the
ship, he sent his card to the Surgeon, with his compliments,
begging him to drop into his state-room the first time he
happened to pass that way in the ward-room.

But one of our Surgeon's mates, a young medico of fine family but
slender fortune, must have created by far the strongest
impression among the hidalgoes of Rio. He had read Don Quixote,
and, instead of curing him of his Quixotism, as it ought to have
done, it only made him still more Quixotic. Indeed, there are
some natures concerning whose moral maladies the grand maxim of
Mr. Similia Similibus Curantur Hahneman does not hold true,
since, with them, _like cures_ not _like_, but only aggravates
_like_. Though, on the other hand, so incurable are the moral
maladies of such persons, that the antagonist maxim, _contraria
contrariis curantar_, often proves equally false.

Of a warm tropical day, this Surgeon's mate must needs go ashore
in his blue cloth boat-cloak, wearing it, with a gallant Spanish
toss, over his cavalier shoulder. By noon, he perspired very
freely; but then his cloak attracted all eyes, and that was huge
satisfaction. Nevertheless, his being knock-kneed, and spavined
of one leg, sorely impaired the effect of this hidalgo cloak,
which, by-the-way, was some-what rusty in front, where his chin
rubbed against it, and a good deal bedraggled all over, from his
having used it as a counterpane off Cape Horn.

As for the midshipmen, there is no knowing what their mammas
would have said to their conduct in Rio. Three of them drank a
good deal too much; and when they came on board, the Captain
ordered them to be sewed up in their hammocks, to cut short their
obstreperous capers till sober.

This shows how unwise it is to allow children yet in their teens
to wander so far from home. It more especially illustrates the
folly of giving them long holidays in a foreign land, full of
seductive dissipation. Port for men, claret for boys, cried Dr.
Johnson. Even so, men only should drink the strong drink of
travel; boys should still be kept on milk and water at home.
Middies! you may despise your mother's leading-strings, but they
are the _man-ropes_ my lads, by which many youngsters have
steadied the giddiness of youth, and saved themselves from
lamentable falls. And middies! know this, that as infants, being
too early put on their feet, grow up bandy-legged, and curtailed
of their fair proportions, even so, my dear middies, does it
morally prove with some of you, who prematurely are sent off to sea.

These admonitions are solely addressed to the more diminutive class of
midshipmen--those under five feet high, and under seven stone in weight.

Truly, the records of the steerages of men-of-war are full of most
melancholy examples of early dissipation, disease, disgrace, and death.
Answer, ye shades of fine boys, who in the soils of all climes, the
round world over, far away sleep from your homes.

Mothers of men! If your hearts have been cast down when your boys
have fallen in the way of temptations ashore, how much more bursting
your grief, did you know that those boys were far from your arms,
cabined and cribbed in by all manner of iniquities. But this some of
you cannot believe. It is, perhaps, well that it is so.

But hold them fast--all those who have not yet weighed their anchors
for the Navy-round and round, hitch over hitch, bind your leading-
strings on them, and clinching a ring-bolt into your chimmey-jam,
moor your boys fast to that best of harbours, the hearth-stone.

But if youth be giddy, old age is staid; even as young saplings,
in the litheness of their limbs, toss to their roots in the fresh
morning air; but, stiff and unyielding with age, mossy trunks
never bend. With pride and pleasure be it said, that, as for our
old Commodore, though he might treat himself to as many "_liberty
days_" as he pleased, yet throughout our stay in Rio he conducted
himself with the utmost discretion.

But he was an old, old man; physically, a very small man; his
spine was as an unloaded musket-barrel--not only attenuated, but
destitute of a solitary cartridge, and his ribs were as the ribs
of a weasel.

Besides, he was Commodore of the fleet, supreme lord of the Commons
in Blue. It beseemed him, therefore, to erect himself into an ensample
of virtue, and show the gun-deck what virtue was. But alas! when Virtue
sits high aloft on a frigate's poop, when Virtue is crowned in the
cabin a Commodore, when Virtue rules by compulsion, and domineers over
Vice as a slave, then Virtue, though her mandates be outwardly
observed, bears little interior sway. To be efficacious, Virtue must
come down from aloft, even as our blessed Redeemer came down to redeem
our whole man-of-war world; to that end, mixing with its sailors and
sinners as equals.



The allusion in the preceding chapter to the early age at which
some of the midshipmen enter the Navy, suggests some thoughts
relative to more important considerations.

A very general modern impression seems to be, that, in order to
learn the profession of a sea-officer, a boy can hardly be sent
to sea too early. To a certain extent, this may be a mistake.
Other professions, involving a knowledge of technicalities and
things restricted to one particular field of action, are frequently
mastered by men who begin after the age of twenty-one, or even at a
later period of life. It was only about the middle of the seventeenth
century that the British military and naval services were kept distinct.
Previous to that epoch the king's officers commanded indifferently
either by sea or by land.

Robert Blake, perhaps one of the most accomplished, and certainly
one of the most successful Admirals that ever hoisted a flag, was
more than half a century old (fifty-one years) before he entered
the naval service, or had aught to do, professionally, with a
ship. He was of a studious turn, and, after leaving Oxford,
resided quietly on his estate, a country gentleman, till his
forty-second year, soon after which he became connected with the
Parliamentary army.

The historian Clarendon says of him, "He was the first man that
made it manifest that the science (seamanship) might he attained
in less time than was imagined." And doubtless it was to his
shore sympathies that the well-known humanity and kindness which
Blake evinced in his intercourse with the sailors is in a large
degree to be imputed.

Midshipmen sent into the Navy at a very early age are exposed to
the passive reception of all the prejudices of the quarter-deck
in favour of ancient usages, however useless or pernicious; those
prejudices grow up with them, and solidify with their very bones.
As they rise in rank, they naturally carry them up, whence the
inveterate repugnance of many Commodores and Captains to the
slightest innovations in the service, however salutary they may
appear to landsmen.

It is hardly to be doubted that, in matters connected with the
general welfare of the Navy, government has paid rather too much
deference to the opinions of the officers of the Navy, considering
them as men almost born to the service, and therefore far better
qualified to judge concerning any and all questions touching it
than people on shore. But in a nation under a liberal Constitution,
it must ever be unwise to make too distinct and peculiar the
profession of either branch of its military men. True, in a
country like ours, nothing is at present to be apprehended of
their gaining political rule; but not a little is to be
apprehended concerning their perpetuating or creating abuses
among their subordinates, unless civilians have full cognisance
of their administrative affairs, and account themselves competent
to the complete overlooking and ordering them.

We do wrong when we in any way contribute to the prevailing
mystification that has been thrown about the internal affairs of
the national sea-service. Hitherto those affairs have been
regarded even by some high state functionaries as things beyond
their insight--altogether too technical and mysterious to be
fully comprehended by landsmen. And this it is that has
perpetuated in the Navy many evils that otherwise would have been
abolished in the general amelioration of other things. The army
is sometimes remodelled, but the Navy goes down from generation
to generation almost untouched and unquestioned, as if its code
were infallible, and itself a piece of perfection that no
statesman could improve. When a Secretary of the Navy ventures to
innovate upon its established customs, you hear some of the Navy
officers say, "What does this landsman know about our affairs?
Did he ever head a watch? He does not know starboard from
larboard, girt-line from back-stay."

While we deferentially and cheerfully leave to Navy officers the
sole conduct of making and shortening sail, tacking ship, and
performing other nautical manoeuvres, as may seem to them best;
let us beware of abandoning to their discretion those general
municipal regulations touching the well-being of the great body
of men before the mast; let us beware of being too much
influenced by their opinions in matters where it is but natural
to suppose that their long-established prejudices are enlisted.



While we lay in Rio, we sometimes had company from shore; but an
unforeseen honour awaited us. One day, the young Emperor, Don
Pedro II., and suite--making a circuit of the harbour, and
visiting all the men-of-war in rotation--at last condescendingly
visited the Neversink.

He came in a splendid barge, rowed by thirty African slaves, who,
after the Brazilian manner, in concert rose upright to their oars
at every stroke; then sank backward again to their seats with a
simultaneous groan.

He reclined under a canopy of yellow silk, looped with tassels of
green, the national colours. At the stern waved the Brazilian
flag, bearing a large diamond figure in the centre, emblematical,
perhaps, of the mines of precious stones in the interior; or, it
may be, a magnified portrait of the famous "Portuguese diamond"
itself, which was found in Brazil, in the district of Tejuco, on
the banks of the Rio Belmonte.

We gave them a grand salute, which almost made the ship's live-
oak _knees_ knock together with the tremendous concussions. We
manned the yards, and went through a long ceremonial of paying
the Emperor homage. Republicans are often more courteous to
royalty than royalists themselves. But doubtless this springs
from a noble magnanimity.

At the gangway, the Emperor was received by our Commodore in
person, arrayed in his most resplendent coat and finest French
epaulets. His servant had devoted himself to polishing every
button that morning with rotten-stone and rags--your sea air is a
sworn foe to metallic glosses; whence it comes that the swords of
sea-officers have, of late, so rusted in their scabbards that
they are with difficulty drawn.

It was a fine sight to see this Emperor and Commodore complimenting
each other. Both were _chapeaux-de-bras_, and both continually waved
them. By instinct, the Emperor knew that the venerable personage before
him was as much a monarch afloat as he himself was ashore. Did not our
Commodore carry the sword of state by his side? For though not borne
before him, it must have been a sword of state, since it looked far
to lustrous to have been his fighting sword. _That_ was naught but a
limber steel blade, with a plain, serviceable handle, like the handle
of a slaughter-house knife.

Who ever saw a star when the noon sun was in sight? But you seldom see
a king without satellites. In the suite of the youthful Emperor came a
princely train; so brilliant with gems, that they seemed just emerged
from the mines of the Rio Belmonte.

You have seen cones of crystallised salt? Just so flashed these
Portuguese Barons, Marquises, Viscounts, and Counts. Were it not
for their titles, and being seen in the train of their lord, you
would have sworn they were eldest sons of jewelers all, who had
run away with their fathers' cases on their backs.

Contrasted with these lamp-lustres of Barons of Brazil, how waned
the gold lace of our barons of the frigate, the officers of the
gun-room! and compared with the long, jewel-hilted rapiers of the
Marquises, the little dirks of our cadets of noble houses--the
middies--looked like gilded tenpenny nails in their girdles.

But there they stood! Commodore and Emperor, Lieutenants and
Marquises, middies and pages! The brazen band on the poop struck
up; the marine guard presented arms; and high aloft, looking down
on this scene, all _the people_ vigorously hurraed. A top-man
next me on the main-royal-yard removed his hat, and diligently
manipulated his head in honour of the event; but he was so far
out of sight in the clouds, that this ceremony went for nothing.

A great pity it was, that in addition to all these honours, that
admirer of Portuguese literature, Viscount Strangford, of Great
Britain--who, I believe, once went out Ambassador Extraordinary
to the Brazils--it was a pity that he was not present on this
occasion, to yield his tribute of "A Stanza to Braganza!" For our
royal visitor was an undoubted Braganza, allied to nearly all the
great families of Europe. His grandfather, John VI., had been
King of Portugal; his own sister, Maria, was now its queen. He
was, indeed, a distinguished young gentleman, entitled to high
consideration, and that consideration was most cheerfully
accorded him.

He wore a green dress-coat, with one regal morning-star at the
breast, and white pantaloons. In his chapeau was a single,
bright, golden-hued feather of the Imperial Toucan fowl, a
magnificent, omnivorous, broad-billed bandit bird of prey, a
native of Brazil. Its perch is on the loftiest trees, whence it
looks down upon all humbler fowls, and, hawk-like, flies at their
throats. The Toucan once formed part of the savage regalia of the
Indian caciques of the country, and upon the establishment of the
empire, was symbolically retained by the Portuguese sovereigns.

His Imperial Majesty was yet in his youth; rather corpulent, if
anything, with a care-free, pleasant face, and a polite, indifferent,
and easy address. His manners, indeed, were entirely unexceptionable.

Now here, thought I, is a very fine lad, with very fine prospects
before him. He is supreme Emperor of all these Brazils; he has no
stormy night-watches to stand; he can lay abed of mornings just
as long as he pleases. Any gentleman in Rio would be proud of his
personal acquaintance, and the prettiest girl in all South
America would deem herself honoured with the least glance from
the acutest angle of his eye.

Yes: this young Emperor will have a fine time of this life, even
so long as he condescends to exist. Every one jumps to obey him;
and see, as I live, there is an old nobleman in his suit--the
Marquis d'Acarty they call him, old enough to be his grandfather
--who, in the hot sun, is standing bareheaded before him, while
the Emperor carries his hat on his head.

"I suppose that old gentleman, now," said a young New England tar
beside me, "would consider it a great honour to put on his Royal
Majesty's boots; and yet, White-Jacket, if yonder Emperor and I
were to strip and jump overboard for a bath, it would be hard
telling which was of the blood royal when we should once be in
the water. Look you, Don Pedro II.," he added, "how do you come
to be Emperor? Tell me that. You cannot pull as many pounds as I
on the main-topsail-halyards; you are not as tall as I: your nose
is a pug, and mine is a cut-water; and how do you come to be a
'_brigand_,' with that thin pair of spars? A _brigand_, indeed!"

"_Braganza_, you mean," said I, willing to correct the rhetoric of
so fierce a republican, and, by so doing, chastise his censoriousness.

"Braganza! _bragger_ it is," he replied; "and a bragger, indeed. See
that feather in his cap! See how he struts in that coat! He may well
wear a green one, top-mates--he's a green-looking swab at the best."

"Hush, Jonathan," said I; "there's the _First Duff_ looking up. Be
still! the Emperor will hear you;" and I put my hand on his mouth.

"Take your hand away, White-Jacket," he cried; "there's no law up
aloft here. I say, you Emperor--you greenhorn in the green coat,
there--look you, you can't raise a pair of whiskers yet; and see
what a pair of homeward-bounders I have on my jowls! _Don Pedro_,
eh? What's that, after all, but plain Peter--reckoned a shabby name
in my country. Damn me, White-Jacket, I wouldn't call my dog Peter!"

"Clap a stopper on your jaw-tackle, will you?" cried Ringbolt, the
sailor on the other side of him. "You'll be getting us all into
darbies for this."

"I won't trice up my red rag for nobody," retorted Jonathan. "So you
had better take a round turn with yours, Ringbolt, and let me alone,
or I'll fetch you such a swat over your figure-head, you'll think a
Long Wharf truck-horse kicked you with all four shoes on one hoof!
You Emperor--you counter-jumping son of a gun--cock your weather eye
up aloft here, and see your betters! I say, top-mates, he ain't any
Emperor at all--I'm the rightful Emperor. Yes, by the Commodore's boots!
they stole me out of my cradle here in the palace of Rio, and put that
green-horn in my place. Ay, you timber-head, you, I'm Don Pedro II.,
and by good rights you ought to be a main-top-man here, with your fist
in a tar-bucket! Look you, I say, that crown of yours ought to be on my
head; or, if you don't believe _that_, just heave it into the ring once,
and see who's the best man."

"What's this hurra's nest here aloft?" cried Jack Chase, coming up the
t'-gallant rigging from the top-sail yard. "Can't you behave yourself,
royal-yard-men, when an Emperor's on board?"

"It's this here Jonathan," answered Ringbolt; "he's been blackguarding
the young nob in the green coat, there. He says Don Pedro stole his hat."


"Crown, he means, noble Jack," said a top-man.

"Jonathan don't call himself an Emperor, does he?" asked Jack.

"Yes," cried Jonathan; "that greenhorn, standing there by the
Commodore, is sailing under false colours; he's an impostor, I say;
he wears my crown."

"Ha! ha!" laughed Jack, now seeing into the joke, and willing to
humour it; "though I'm born a Briton, boys, yet, by the mast!
these Don Pedros are all Perkin Warbecks. But I say, Jonathan, my
lad, don't pipe your eye now about the loss of your crown; for,
look you, we all wear crowns, from our cradles to our graves, and
though in _double-darbies_ in the _brig_, the Commodore himself
can't unking us."

"A riddle, noble Jack."

"Not a bit; every man who has a sole to his foot has a crown to
his head. Here's mine;" and so saying, Jack, removing his
tarpaulin, exhibited a bald spot, just about the bigness of a
crown-piece, on the summit of his curly and classical head.



I Beg their Royal Highnesses' pardons all round, but I had almost
forgotten to chronicle the fact, that with the Emperor came
several other royal Princes--kings for aught we knew--since it
was just after the celebration of the nuptials of a younger
sister of the Brazilian monarch to some European royalty. Indeed,
the Emperor and his suite formed a sort of bridal party, only the
bride herself was absent.

The first reception over, the smoke of the cannonading salute
having cleared away, and the martial outburst of the brass band
having also rolled off to leeward, the people were called down
from the yards, and the drum beat to quarters.

To quarters we went; and there we stood up by our iron bull-dogs,
while our royal and noble visitors promenaded along the batteries,
breaking out into frequent exclamations at our warlike array, the
extreme neatness of our garments, and, above all, the extraordinary
polish of the _bright-work_ about the great guns, and the marvellous
whiteness of the decks.

"Que gosto!" cried a Marquis, with several dry goods samples of
ribbon, tallied with bright buttons, hanging from his breast.

"Que gloria!" cried a crooked, coffee-coloured Viscount, spreading
both palms.

"Que alegria!" cried a little Count, mincingly circumnavigating a

"Que contentamento he o meu!" cried the Emperor himself, complacently
folding his royal arms, and serenely gazing along our ranks.

_Pleasure, Glory_, and _Joy_--this was the burden of the three noble
courtiers. _And very pleasing indeed_--was the simple rendering of
Don Pedro's imperial remark.

"Ay, ay," growled a grim rammer-and-sponger behind me; "it's all
devilish fine for you nobs to look at; but what would you say if
you had to holy-stone the deck yourselves, and wear out your
elbows in polishing this cursed old iron, besides getting a dozen
at the gangway, if you dropped a grease-spot on deck in your
mess? Ay, ay, devilish fine for you, but devilish dull for us!"

In due time the drums beat the retreat, and the ship's company
scattered over the decks.

Some of the officers now assumed the part of cicerones, to show
the distinguished strangers the bowels of the frigate, concerning
which several of them showed a good deal of intelligent
curiosity. A guard of honour, detached from the marine corps,
accompanied them, and they made the circuit of the berth-deck,
where, at a judicious distance, the Emperor peeped down into the
cable-tier, a very subterranean vault.

The Captain of the Main-Hold, who there presided, made a polite
bow in the twilight, and respectfully expressed a desire for His
Royal Majesty to step down and honour him with a call; but, with
his handkerchief to his Imperial nose, his Majesty declined. The
party then commenced the ascent to the spar-deck; which, from so
great a depth in a frigate, is something like getting up to the
top of Bunker Hill Monument from the basement.

While a crowd of people was gathered about the forward part of
the booms, a sudden cry was heard from below; a lieutenant came
running forward to learn the cause, when an old sheet-anchor-man,
standing by, after touching his hat hitched up his waistbands,
and replied, "I don't know, sir, but I'm thinking as how one o'
them 'ere kings has been tumblin' down the hatchway."

And something like this it turned out. In ascending one of the
narrow ladders leading from the berth-deck to the gun-deck, the
Most Noble Marquis of Silva, in the act of elevating the Imperial
coat-tails, so as to protect them from rubbing against the newly-
painted combings of the hatchway, this noble marquis's sword,
being an uncommonly long one, had caught between his legs, and
tripped him head over heels down into the fore-passage.

"Onde ides?" (where are you going?) said his royal master, tranquilly
peeping down toward the falling Marquis; "and what did you let go of my
coat-tails for?" he suddenly added, in a passion, glancing round at the
same time, to see if they had suffered from the unfaithfulness of his
train bearer.

"Oh, Lord!" sighed the Captain of the Fore-top, "who would be a Marquis
of Silva?"

Upon being assisted to the spar-deck, the unfortunate Marquis was
found to have escaped without serious harm; but, from the marked
coolness of his royal master, when the Marquis drew near to
apologise for his awkwardness, it was plain that he was condemned
to languish for a time under the royal displeasure.

Shortly after, the Imperial party withdrew, under another grand
national salute.



As we were somewhat short-handed while we lay in Rio, we received
a small draft of men from a United States sloop of war, whose
three years' term of service would expire about the time of our
arrival in America.

Under guard of an armed Lieutenant and four midshipmen, they came
on board in the afternoon. They were immediately mustered in the
starboard gangway, that Mr. Bridewell, our First Lieutenant, might
take down their names, and assign them their stations.

They stood in a mute and solemn row; the officer advanced, with his
memorandum-book and pencil.

My casual friend, Shakings, the holder, happened to be by at the
time. Touching my arm, he said, "White-Jacket, this here reminds
me of Sing-Sing, when a draft of fellows in darbies, came on from
the State Prison at Auburn for a change of scene like, you know!"

After taking down four or five names, Mr. Bridewell accosted the
next man, a rather good-looking person, but, from his haggard
cheek and sunken eye, he seemed to have been in the sad habit,
all his life, of sitting up rather late at night; and though all
sailors do certainly keep late hours enough--standing watches at
midnight--yet there is no small difference between keeping late
hours at sea and keeping late hours ashore.

"What's your name?" asked the officer, of this rather rakish-
looking recruit.

"Mandeville, sir," said the man, courteously touching his cap.
"You must remember me, sir," he added, in a low, confidential
tone, strangely dashed with servility; "we sailed together once
in the old Macedonian, sir. I wore an epaulet then; we had the
same state-room, you know, sir. I'm your old chum, Mandeville,
sir," and he again touched his cap.

"I remember an _officer_ by that name," said the First Lieutenant,
emphatically, "and I know _you_, fellow. But I know you henceforth
for a common sailor. I can show no favouritism here. If you ever
violate the ship's rules, you shall be flogged like any other
seaman. I place you in the fore-top; go forward to your duty."

It seemed this Mandeville had entered the Navy when very young,
and had risen to be a lieutenant, as he said. But brandy had been
his bane. One night, when he had the deck of a line-of-battle
ship, in the Mediterranean, he was seized with a fit of mania-a-
potu, and being out of his senses for the time, went below and
turned into his berth, leaving the deck without a commanding
officer. For this unpardonable offence he was broken.

Having no fortune, and no other profession than the sea, upon his
disgrace he entered the merchant-service as a chief mate; but his love
of strong drink still pursuing him, he was again cashiered at sea, and
degraded before the mast by the Captain. After this, in a state of
intoxication, he re-entered the Navy at Pensacola as a common sailor.
But all these lessons, so biting-bitter to learn, could not cure him
of his sin. He had hardly been a week on board the Neversink, when he
was found intoxicated with smuggled spirits. They lashed him to the
gratings, and ignominiously scourged him under the eye of his old
friend and comrade, the First Lieutenant.

This took place while we lay in port, which reminds me of the
circumstance, that when punishment is about to be inflicted in
harbour, all strangers are ordered ashore; and the sentries at the
side have it in strict charge to waive off all boats drawing near.



The conduct of Mandeville, in claiming the acquaintance of the
First Lieutenant under such disreputable circumstances was
strongly contrasted by the behaviour of another person on board,
placed for a time in a somewhat similar situation.

Among the genteel youths of the after-guard was a lad of about
sixteen, a very handsome young fellow, with starry eyes, curly
hair of a golden colour, and a bright, sunshiny complexion: he
must have been the son of some goldsmith. He was one of the few
sailors--not in the main-top--whom I used to single out for
occasional conversation. After several friendly interviews he
became quite frank, and communicated certain portions of his
history. There is some charm in the sea, which induces most
persons to be very communicative concerning themselves.

We had lain in Rio but a day, when I observed that this lad--whom
I shall here call Frank--wore an unwonted expression of sadness,
mixed with apprehension. I questioned him as to the cause, but he
chose to conceal it. Not three days after, he abruptly accosted
me on the gun-deck, where I happened to be taking a promenade.

"I can't keep it to myself any more," he said; "I must have a
confidant, or I shall go mad!"

"What is the matter?" said I, in alarm.

"Matter enough--look at this!" and he handed me a torn half sheet
of an old New York _Herald_, putting his finger upon a particular
word in a particular paragraph. It was the announcement of the
sailing from the Brooklyn Navy-yard of a United States store ship,
with provisions for the squadron in Rio. It was upon a particular
name, in the list of officers and midshipmen, that Frank's fingers
was placed.

"That is my own brother," said he; "he must have got a reefer's
warrant since I left home. Now, White-Jacket, what's to be done?
I have calculated that the store ship may be expected here every
day; my brother will then see me--he an officer and I a miserable
sailor that any moment may be flogged at the gangway, before his
very eyes. Heavens! White-Jacket, what shall I do? Would you run?
Do you think there is any chance to desert? I won't see him, by
Heaven, with this sailor's frock on, and he with the anchor button!"

"Why, Frank," said I, "I do not really see sufficient cause for
this fit you are in. Your brother is an of officer--very good;
and you are nothing but a sailor--but that is no disgrace. If he
comes on board here, go up to him, and take him by the hand;
believe me, he will be glad enough to see you!"

Frank started from his desponding attitude, and fixing his eyes
full upon mine, with clasped hands exclaimed, "White-Jacket, I
have been from home nearly three years; in that time I have never
heard one word from my family, and, though God knows how I love
them, yet I swear to you, that though my brother can tell me
whether my sisters are still alive, yet, rather than accost him
in this _lined-frock_, I would go ten centuries without hearing
one syllable from home?"

Amazed at his earnestness, and hardly able to account for it
altogether, I stood silent a moment; then said, "Why, Frank, this
midshipman is your own brother, you say; now, do you really think
that your own flesh and blood is going to give himself airs over
you, simply because he sports large brass buttons on his coat?
Never believe it. If he does, he can be no brother, and ought to
be hanged--that's all!"

"Don't say that again," said Frank, resentfully; "my brother is a
noble-hearted fellow; I love him as I do myself. You don't
understand me, White-Jacket; don't you see, that when my brother
arrives, he must consort more or less with our chuckle-headed
reefers on board here? There's that namby-pamby Miss Nancy of a
white-face, Stribbles, who, the other day, when Mad Jack's back
was turned, ordered me to hand him the spy-glass, as if he were a
Commodore. Do you suppose, now, I want my brother to see me a
lackey abroad here? By Heaven it is enough to drive one distracted!
What's to be done?" he cried, fiercely.

Much more passed between us, but all my philosophy was in vain,
and at last Frank departed, his head hanging down in despondency.

For several days after, whenever the quarter-master reported a
sail entering the harbour, Frank was foremost in the rigging to
observe it. At length, one afternoon, a vessel drawing near was
reported to be the long-expected store ship. I looked round for
Frank on the spar-deck, but he was nowhere to be seen. He must
have been below, gazing out of a port-hole. The vessel was hailed
from our poop, and came to anchor within a biscuit's toss of our

That evening I heard that Frank had ineffectually endeavoured to
get removed from his place as an oarsman in the First-Cutter--a
boat which, from its size, is generally employed with the launch
in carrying ship-stores. When I thought that, the very next day,
perhaps, this boat would be plying between the store ship and our
frigate, I was at no loss to account for Frank's attempts to get
rid of his oar, and felt heartily grieved at their failure.

Next morning the bugler called away the First-Cutter's crew, and
Frank entered the boat with his hat slouched over his eyes. Upon
his return, I was all eagerness to learn what had happened, and,
as the communication of his feelings was a grateful relief, he
poured his whole story into my ear.

It seemed that, with his comrades, he mounted the store ship's
side, and hurried forward to the forecastle. Then, turning
anxiously toward the quarter-deck, he spied two midshipmen
leaning against the bulwarks, conversing. One was the officer of
his boat--was the other his brother? No; he was too tall--too
large. Thank Heaven! it was not him. And perhaps his brother had
not sailed from home, after all; there might have been some
mistake. But suddenly the strange midshipman laughed aloud, and
that laugh Frank had heard a thousand times before. It was a
free, hearty laugh--a brother's laugh; but it carried a pang to
the heart of poor Frank.

He was now ordered down to the main-deck to assist in removing
the stores. The boat being loaded, he was ordered into her, when,
looking toward the gangway, he perceived the two midshipmen
lounging upon each side of it, so that no one could pass them
without brushing their persons. But again pulling his hat over
his eyes, Frank, darting between them, gained his oar. "How my
heart thumped," he said, "when I actually, felt him so near me;
but I wouldn't look at him--no! I'd have died first!"

To Frank's great relief, the store ship at last moved further up
the bay, and it fortunately happened that he saw no more of his
brother while in Rio; and while there, he never in any way made
himself known to him.



There was a seaman belonging to the fore-top--a mess-mate, though
not a top-mate of mine, and no favourite of the Captain's,--who,
for certain venial transgressions, had been prohibited from going
ashore on liberty when the ship's company went. Enraged at the
deprivation--for he had not touched earth in upward of a year--
he, some nights after, lowered himself overboard, with the view
of gaining a canoe, attached by a robe to a Dutch galiot some
cables'-lengths distant. In this canoe he proposed paddling
himself ashore. Not being a very expert swimmer, the commotion he
made in the water attracted the ear of the sentry on that side of
the ship, who, turning about in his walk, perceived the faint
white spot where the fugitive was swimming in the frigate's
shadow. He hailed it; but no reply.

"Give the word, or I fire!"

Not a word was heard.

The next instant there was a red flash, and, before it had
completely ceased illuminating the night the white spot was
changed into crimson. Some of the officers, returning from a
party at the Beach of the Flamingoes, happened to be drawing near
the ship in one of her cutters. They saw the flash, and the
bounding body it revealed. In a moment the topman was dragged
into the boat, a handkerchief was used for a tourniquet, and the
wounded fugitive was soon on board the frigate, when, the surgeon
being called, the necessary attentions were rendered.

Now, it appeared, that at the moment the sentry fired, the top-
man--in order to elude discovery, by manifesting the completest
quietude--was floating on the water, straight and horizontal, as
if reposing on a bed. As he was not far from the ship at the
time, and the sentry was considerably elevated above him--pacing
his platform, on a level with the upper part of the hammock-
nettings--the ball struck with great force, with a downward
obliquity, entering the right thigh just above the knee, and,
penetrating some inches, glanced upward along the bone, burying
itself somewhere, so that it could not be felt by outward
manipulation. There was no dusky discoloration to mark its
internal track, as in the case when a partly-spent ball--
obliquely hitting--after entering the skin, courses on, just
beneath the surface, without penetrating further. Nor was there
any mark on the opposite part of the thigh to denote its place,
as when a ball forces itself straight through a limb, and lodges,
perhaps, close to the skin on the other side. Nothing was visible
but a small, ragged puncture, bluish about the edges, as if the
rough point of a tenpenny nail had been forced into the flesh,
and withdrawn. It seemed almost impossible, that through so small
an aperture, a musket-bullet could have penetrated.

The extreme misery and general prostration of the man, caused by
the great effusion of blood--though, strange to say, at first he
said he felt no pain from the wound itself--induced the Surgeon,
very reluctantly, to forego an immediate search for the ball, to
extract it, as that would have involved the dilating of the wound
by the knife; an operation which, at that juncture, would have
been almost certainly attended with fatal results. A day or two,
therefore, was permitted to pass, while simple dressings were

The Surgeon of the other American ships of war in harbour
occasionally visited the Neversink, to examine the patient, and
incidentally to listen to the expositions of our own Surgeon, their
senior in rank. But Cadwallader Cuticle, who, as yet, has been
but incidentally alluded to, now deserves a chapter by himself.



Cadwallader Cuticle, M. D., and Honorary Member of the most
distinguished Colleges of Surgeons both in Europe and America,
was our Surgeon of the Fleet. Nor was he at all blind to the
dignity of his position; to which, indeed, he was rendered
peculiarly competent, if the reputation he enjoyed was deserved.
He had the name of being the foremost Surgeon in the Navy, a
gentleman of remarkable science, and a veteran practitioner.

He was a small, withered man, nearly, perhaps quite, sixty years
of age. His chest was shallow, his shoulders bent, his pantaloons
hung round skeleton legs, and his face was singularly attenuated.
In truth, the corporeal vitality of this man seemed, in a good
degree, to have died out of him. He walked abroad, a curious
patch-work of life and death, with a wig, one glass eye, and a
set of false teeth, while his voice was husky and thick; but his
mind seemed undebilitated as in youth; it shone out of his
remaining eye with basilisk brilliancy.

Like most old physicians and surgeons who have seen much service,
and have been promoted to high professional place for their
scientific attainments, this Cuticle was an enthusiast in his
calling. In private, he had once been heard to say, confidentially,
that he would rather cut off a man's arm than dismember the wing of
the most delicate pheasant. In particular, the department of Morbid
Anatomy was his peculiar love; and in his state-room below he had a
most unsightly collection of Parisian casts, in plaster and wax,
representing all imaginable malformations of the human members, both
organic and induced by disease. Chief among these was a cast, often
to be met with in the Anatomical Museums of Europe, and no doubt an
unexaggerated copy of a genuine original; it was the head of an
elderly woman, with an aspect singularly gentle and meek, but at the
same time wonderfully expressive of a gnawing sorrow, never to be
relieved. You would almost have thought it the face of some abbess,
for some unspeakable crime voluntarily sequestered from human
society, and leading a life of agonised penitence without hope; so
marvellously sad and tearfully pitiable was this head. But when you
first beheld it, no such emotions ever crossed your mind. All your
eyes and all your horrified soul were fast fascinated and frozen by
the sight of a hideous, crumpled horn, like that of a ram, downward
growing out from the forehead, and partly shadowing the face; but as
you gazed, the freezing fascination of its horribleness gradually
waned, and then your whole heart burst with sorrow, as you
contemplated those aged features, ashy pale and wan. The horn seemed
the mark of a curse for some mysterious sin, conceived and committed
before the spirit had entered the flesh. Yet that sin seemed something
imposed, and not voluntarily sought; some sin growing out of the
heartless necessities of the predestination of things; some sin under
which the sinner sank in sinless woe.

But no pang of pain, not the slightest touch of concern, ever
crossed the bosom of Cuticle when he looked on this cast. It was
immovably fixed to a bracket, against the partition of his state-
room, so that it was the first object that greeted his eyes when
he opened them from his nightly sleep. Nor was it to hide the face,
that upon retiring, he always hung his Navy cap upon the upward
curling extremity of the horn, for that obscured it but little.

The Surgeon's cot-boy, the lad who made up his swinging bed and
took care of his room, often told us of the horror he sometimes
felt when he would find himself alone in ins master's retreat. At
times he was seized with the idea that Cuticle was a preternatural
being; and once entering his room in the middle watch of the night,
he started at finding it enveloped in a thick, bluish vapour, and
stifling with the odours of brimstone. Upon hearing a low groan
from the smoke, with a wild cry he darted from the place, and,
rousing the occupants of the neighbouring state-rooms, it was
found that the vapour proceeded from smouldering bunches of lucifer
matches, which had become ignited through the carelessness of the
Surgeon. Cuticle, almost dead, was dragged from the suffocating
atmosphere, and it was several days ere he completely recovered
from its effects. This accident took place immediately over the
powder magazine; but as Cuticle, during his sickness, paid dearly
enough for transgressing the laws prohibiting combustibles in the
gun-room, the Captain contented himself with privately remonstrating
with him.

Well knowing the enthusiasm of the Surgeon for all specimens of
morbid anatomy, some of the ward-room officers used to play upon
his credulity, though, in every case, Cuticle was not long in
discovering their deceptions. Once, when they had some sago
pudding for dinner, and Cuticle chanced to be ashore, they made
up a neat parcel of this bluish-white, firm, jelly-like
preparation, and placing it in a tin box, carefully sealed with
wax, they deposited it on the gun-room table, with a note,
purporting to come from an eminent physician in Rio, connected
with the Grand National Museum on the Praca d' Acclamacao,
begging leave to present the scientific Senhor Cuticle--with the
donor's compliments--an uncommonly fine specimen of a cancer.

Descending to the ward-room, Cuticle spied the note, and no
sooner read it, than, clutching the case, he opened it, and
exclaimed, "Beautiful! splendid! I have never seen a finer
specimen of this most interesting disease."

"What have you there, Surgeon Cuticle?" said a Lieutenant, advancing.

"Why, sir, look at it; did you ever see anything more exquisite?"

"Very exquisite indeed; let me have a bit of it, will you, Cuticle?"

"Let you have a bit of it!" shrieked the Surgeon, starting back.
"Let you have one of my limbs! I wouldn't mar so large a specimen
for a hundred dollars; but what can you want of it? You are not
making collections!"

"I'm fond of the article," said the Lieutenant; "it's a fine cold
relish to bacon or ham. You know, I was in New Zealand last
cruise, Cuticle, and got into sad dissipation there among the
cannibals; come, let's have a bit, if it's only a mouthful."

"Why, you infernal Feejee!" shouted Cuticle, eyeing the other
with a confounded expression; "you don't really mean to eat a
piece of this cancer?"

"Hand it to me, and see whether I will not," was the reply.

"In God's name, take it!" cried the Surgeon, putting the case
into his hands, and then standing with his own uplifted.

"Steward!" cried the Lieutenant, "the castor--quick! I always use
plenty of pepper with this dish, Surgeon; it's oystery. Ah! this
is really delicious," he added, smacking his lips over a
mouthful. "Try it now, Surgeon, and you'll never keep such a
fine dish as this, lying uneaten on your hands, as a mere
scientific curiosity."

Cuticle's whole countenance changed; and, slowly walking up to
the table, he put his nose close to the tin case, then touched
its contents with his finger and tasted it. Enough. Buttoning up
his coat, in all the tremblings of an old man's rage he burst
from the ward-room, and, calling for a boat, was not seen again
for twenty-four hours.

But though, like all other mortals, Cuticle was subject at times
to these fits of passion--at least under outrageous provocation--
nothing could exceed his coolness when actually employed in his
imminent vocation. Surrounded by moans and shrieks, by features
distorted with anguish inflicted by himself, he yet maintained a
countenance almost supernaturally calm; and unless the intense
interest of the operation flushed his wan face with a momentary
tinge of professional enthusiasm, he toiled away, untouched by
the keenest misery coming under a fleet-surgeon's eye. Indeed,
long habituation to the dissecting-room and the amputation-table
had made him seemingly impervious to the ordinary emotions of
humanity. Yet you could not say that Cuticle was essentially a
cruel-hearted man. His apparent heartlessness must have been of a
purely scientific origin. It is not to be imagined even that
Cuticle would have harmed a fly, unless he could procure a
microscope powerful enough to assist him in experimenting on the
minute vitals of the creature.

But notwithstanding his marvellous indifference to the sufferings
of his patients, and spite even of his enthusiasm in his
vocation--not cooled by frosting old age itself--Cuticle, on some
occasions, would effect a certain disrelish of his profession,
and declaim against the necessity that forced a man of his
humanity to perform a surgical operation. Especially was it apt
to be thus with him, when the case was one of more than ordinary
interest. In discussing it previous to setting about it, he would
veil his eagerness under an aspect of great circumspection,
curiously marred, however, by continual sallies of unsuppressible
impatience. But the knife once in his hand, the compassionless
surgeon himself, undisguised, stood before you. Such was
Cadwallader Cuticle, our Surgeon of the Fleet.



It seems customary for the Surgeon of the Fleet, when any important
operation in his department is on the anvil, and there is nothing to
absorb professional attention from it, to invite his brother surgeons,
if at hand at the time, to a ceremonious consultation upon it. And
this, in courtesy, his brother surgeons expect.

In pursuance of this custom, then, the surgeons of the neighbouring
American ships of war were requested to visit the Neversink in a body,
to advise concerning the case of the top-man, whose situation had now
become critical. They assembled on the half-deck, and were soon joined
by their respected senior, Cuticle. In a body they bowed as he
approached, and accosted him with deferential regard.

"Gentlemen," said Cuticle, unostentatiously seating himself on a
camp-stool, handed him by his cot-boy, "we have here an extremely
interesting case. You have all seen the patient, I believe. At
first I had hopes that I should have been able to cut down to the
ball, and remove it; but the state of the patient forbade. Since
then, the inflammation and sloughing of the part has been
attended with a copious suppuration, great loss of substance,
extreme debility and emaciation. From this, I am convinced that
the ball has shattered and deadened the bone, and now lies
impacted in the medullary canal. In fact, there can be no doubt
that the wound is incurable, and that amputation is the only
resource. But, gentlemen, I find myself placed in a very delicate
predicament. I assure you I feel no professional anxiety to
perform the operation. I desire your advice, and if you will now
again visit the patient with me, we can then return here and
decide what is best to be done. Once more, let me say, that I
feel no personal anxiety whatever to use the knife."

The assembled surgeons listened to this address with the most
serious attention, and, in accordance with their superior's
desire, now descended to the sick-bay, where the patient was
languishing. The examination concluded, they returned to the
half-deck, and the consultation was renewed.

"Gentlemen," began Cuticle, again seating himself, "you have now
just inspected the limb; you have seen that there is no resource
but amputation; and now, gentlemen, what do you say? Surgeon
Bandage, of the Mohawk, will you express your opinion?"

"The wound is a very serious one," said Bandage--a corpulent man,
with a high German forehead--shaking his head solemnly.

"Can anything save him but amputation?" demanded Cuticle.

"His constitutional debility is extreme," observed Bandage,
"but I have seen more dangerous cases."

"Surgeon Wedge, of the Malay," said Cuticle, in a pet, "be pleased
to give _your_ opinion; and let it be definitive, I entreat:" this
was said with a severe glance toward Bandage.

"If I thought," began Wedge, a very spare, tall man, elevating
himself still higher on his toes, "that the ball had shattered
and divided the whole _femur_, including the _Greater_ and
_Lesser Trochanter_ the _Linear aspera_ the _Digital fossa_, and
the _Intertrochanteric_, I should certainly be in favour of
amputation; but that, sir, permit me to observe, is not my

"Surgeon Sawyer, of the Buccaneer," said Cuticle, drawing in his
thin lower lip with vexation, and turning to a round-faced,
florid, frank, sensible-looking man, whose uniform coat very
handsomely fitted him, and was adorned with an unusual quantity
of gold lace; "Surgeon Sawyer, of the Buccaneer, let us now hear
_your_ opinion, if you please. Is not amputation the only
resource, sir?"

"Excuse me," said Sawyer, "I am decidedly opposed to it; for if
hitherto the patient has not been strong enough to undergo the
extraction of the ball, I do not see how he can be expected to
endure a far more severe operation. As there is no immediate
danger of mortification, and you say the ball cannot be reached
without making large incisions, I should support him, I think,
for the present, with tonics, and gentle antiphlogistics, locally
applied. On no account would I proceed to amputation until further
symptoms are exhibited."

"Surgeon Patella, of the Algerine," said Cuticle, in an ill-suppressed
passion, abruptly turning round on the person addressed, "will _you_
have the kindness to say whether _you_ do not think that amputation is
the only resource?"

Now Patella was the youngest of the company, a modest man, filled with
a profound reverence for the science of Cuticle, and desirous of
gaining his good opinion, yet not wishing to commit himself altogether
by a decided reply, though, like Surgeon Sawyer, in his own mind he
might have been clearly against the operation.

"What you have remarked, Mr. Surgeon of the Fleet," said Patella,
respectfully hemming, "concerning the dangerous condition of the
limb, seems obvious enough; amputation would certainly be a cure
to the wound; but then, as, notwithstanding his present debility,
the patient seems to have a strong constitution, he might rally
as it is, and by your scientific treatment, Mr. Surgeon of the
Fleet"--bowing--"be entirely made whole, without risking an
amputation. Still, it is a very critical case, and amputation may be
indispensable; and if it is to be performed, there ought to be no delay
whatever. That is my view of the case, Mr. Surgeon of the Fleet."

"Surgeon Patella, then, gentlemen," said Cuticle, turning round
triumphantly, "is clearly of opinion that amputation should be
immediately performed. For my own part--individually, I mean, and
without respect to the patient--I am sorry to have it so decided. But
this settles the question, gentlemen--in my own mind, however, it was
settled before. At ten o'clock to-morrow morning the operation will be
performed. I shall be happy to see you all on the occasion, and also
your juniors" (alluding to the absent _Assistant Surgeons_). "Good-
morning, gentlemen; at ten o'clock, remember."

And Cuticle retreated to the Ward-room.



Next morning, at the appointed hour, the surgeons arrived in a
body. They were accompanied by their juniors, young men ranging
in age from nineteen years to thirty. Like the senior surgeons,
these young gentlemen were arrayed in their blue navy uniforms,
displaying a profusion of bright buttons, and several broad bars
of gold lace about the wristbands. As in honour of the occasion,
they had put on their best coats; they looked exceedingly brilliant.

The whole party immediately descended to the half-deck, where
preparations had been made for the operation. A large garrison-
ensign was stretched across the ship by the main-mast, so as
completely to screen the space behind. This space included the
whole extent aft to the bulk-head of the Commodore's cabin, at
the door of which the marine-orderly paced, in plain sight,
cutlass in hand.

Upon two gun-carriages, dragged amidships, the Death-board (used
for burials at sea) was horizontally placed, covered with an old
royal-stun'-sail. Upon this occasion, to do duty as an amputation-table,
it was widened by an additional plank. Two match-tubs, near by, placed
one upon another, at either end supported another plank, distinct from
the table, whereon was exhibited an array of saws and knives of various
and peculiar shapes and sizes; also, a sort of steel, something like the
dinner-table implement, together with long needles, crooked at the end
for taking up the arteries, and large darning-needles, thread and
bee's-wax, for sewing up a wound.

At the end nearest the larger table was a tin basin of water,
surrounded by small sponges, placed at mathematical intervals.
From the long horizontal pole of a great-gun rammer--fixed in its
usual place overhead--hung a number of towels, with "U.S." marked
in the corners.

All these arrangements had been made by the "Surgeon's steward,"
a person whose important functions in a man-of-war will, in a
future chapter, be entered upon at large. Upon the present
occasion, he was bustling about, adjusting and readjusting the
knives, needles, and carver, like an over-conscientious butler
fidgeting over a dinner-table just before the convivialists enter.

But by far the most striking object to be seen behind the ensign
was a human skeleton, whose every joint articulated with wires.
By a rivet at the apex of the skull, it hung dangling from a
hammock-hook fixed in a beam above. Why this object was here,
will presently be seen; but why it was placed immediately at the
foot of the amputation-table, only Surgeon Cuticle can tell.

While the final preparations were being made, Cuticle stood
conversing with the assembled Surgeons and Assistant Surgeons,
his invited guests.

"Gentlemen," said he, taking up one of the glittering knives and
artistically drawing the steel across it; "Gentlemen, though
these scenes are very unpleasant, and in some moods, I may say,
repulsive to me--yet how much better for our patient to have the
contusions and lacerations of his present wound--with all its
dangerous symptoms--converted into a clean incision, free from
these objections, and occasioning so much less subsequent anxiety
to himself and the Surgeon. Yes," he added, tenderly feeling the
edge of his knife, "amputation is our only resource. Is it not
so, Surgeon Patella?" turning toward that gentleman, as if relying
upon some sort of an assent, however clogged with conditions.

"Certainly," said Patella, "amputation is your only resource, Mr.
Surgeon of the Fleet; that is, I mean, if you are fully persuaded
of its necessity."

The other surgeons said nothing, maintaining a somewhat reserved
air, as if conscious that they had no positive authority in the
case, whatever might be their own private opinions; but they
seemed willing to behold, and, if called upon, to assist at the
operation, since it could not now be averted.

The young men, their Assistants, looked very eager, and cast
frequent glances of awe upon so distinguished a practitioner as
the venerable Cuticle.

"They say he can drop a leg in one minute and ten seconds from
the moment the knife touches it," whispered one of them to another.

"We shall see," was the reply, and the speaker clapped his hand
to his fob, to see if his watch would be forthcoming when wanted.

"Are you all ready here?" demanded Cuticle, now advancing to his
steward; "have not those fellows got through yet?" pointing to
three men of the carpenter's gang, who were placing bits of wood
under the gun-carriages supporting the central table.

"They are just through, sir," respectfully answered the steward,
touching his hand to his forehead, as if there were a cap-front there.

"Bring up the patient, then," said Cuticle.

"Young gentlemen," he added, turning to the row of Assistant
Surgeons, "seeing you here reminds me of the classes of students
once under my instruction at the Philadelphia College of
Physicians and Surgeons. Ah, those were happy days!" he sighed,
applying the extreme corner of his handkerchief to his glass-eye.
"Excuse an old man's emotions, young gentlemen; but when I think
of the numerous rare cases that then came under my treatment, I
cannot but give way to my feelings. The town, the city, the
metropolis, young gentlemen, is the place for you students; at
least in these dull times of peace, when the army and navy
furnish no inducements for a youth ambitious of rising in our
honourable profession. Take an old man's advice, and if the war
now threatening between the States and Mexico should break out,
exchange your navy commissions for commissions in the army. From
having no military marine herself, Mexico has always been
backward in furnishing subjects for the amputation-tables of
foreign navies. The cause of science has languished in her hands.
The army, young gentlemen, is your best school; depend upon it.
You will hardly believe it, Surgeon Bandage," turning to that
gentleman, "but this is my first important case of surgery in a
nearly three years' cruise. I have been almost wholly confined in
this ship to doctor's practice prescribing for fevers and fluxes.
True, the other day a man fell from the mizzen-top-sail-yard; but
that was merely an aggravated case of dislocations and bones
splintered and broken. No one, sir, could have made an amputation
of it, without severely contusing his conscience. And mine--I may
say it, gentlemen, without ostentation is--peculiarly susceptible."

And so saying, the knife and carver touchingly dropped to his
sides, and he stood for a moment fixed in a tender reverie but a
commotion being heard beyond the curtain, he started, and,
briskly crossing and recrossing the knife and carver, exclaimed,
"Ali, here comes our patient; surgeons, this side of the table, if
you please; young gentlemen, a little further off, I beg. Steward,
take off my coat--so; my neckerchief now; I must be perfectly
unencumbered, Surgeon Patella, or I can do nothing whatever."

These articles being removed, he snatched off his wig, placing it
on the gun-deck capstan; then took out his set of false teeth,
and placed it by the side of the wig; and, lastly, putting his
forefinger to the inner angle of his blind eye, spirited out the
glass optic with professional dexterity, and deposited that,
also, next to the wig and false teeth.

Thus divested of nearly all inorganic appurtenances, what was left
of the Surgeon slightly shook itself, to see whether anything more
could be spared to advantage.

"Carpenter's mates," he now cried, "will you never get through with
that job?"

"Almost through, sir--just through," they replied, staring round in
search of the strange, unearthly voice that addressed them; for the
absence of his teeth had not at all improved the conversational tones
of the Surgeon of the Fleet.

With natural curiosity, these men had purposely been lingering,
to see all they could; but now, having no further excuse, they
snatched up their hammers and chisels, and--like the stage-
builders decamping from a public meeting at the eleventh hour,
after just completing the rostrum in time for the first speaker--
the Carpenter's gang withdrew.

The broad ensign now lifted, revealing a glimpse of the crowd of
man-of-war's-men outside, and the patient, borne in the arms of
two of his mess-mates, entered the place. He was much emaciated,
weak as an infant, and every limb visibly trembled, or rather
jarred, like the head of a man with the palsy. As if an organic
and involuntary apprehension of death had seized the wounded leg,
its nervous motions were so violent that one of the mess-mates
was obliged to keep his hand upon it.

The top-man was immediately stretched upon the table, the
attendants steadying his limbs, when, slowly opening his eyes, he
glanced about at the glittering knives and saws, the towels and
sponges, the armed sentry at the Commodore's cabin-door, the row
of eager-eyed students, the meagre death's-head of a Cuticle, now
with his shirt sleeves rolled up upon his withered arms, and
knife in hand, and, finally, his eyes settled in horror upon the
skeleton, slowly vibrating and jingling before him, with the
slow, slight roll of the frigate in the water.

"I would advise perfect repose of your every limb, my man," said
Cuticle, addressing him; "the precision of an operation is often
impaired by the inconsiderate restlessness of the patient. But if
you consider, my good fellow," he added, in a patronising and
almost sympathetic tone, and slightly pressing his hand on the
limb, "if you consider how much better it is to live with three
limbs than to die with four, and especially if you but knew to
what torments both sailors and soldiers were subjected before the
time of Celsus, owing to the lamentable ignorance of surgery then
prevailing, you would certainly thank God from the bottom of your
heart that _your_ operation has been postponed to the period of
this enlightened age, blessed with a Bell, a Brodie, and a Lally.
My man, before Celsus's time, such was the general ignorance of
our noble science, that, in order to prevent the excessive
effusion of blood, it was deemed indispensable to operate with a
red-hot knife"--making a professional movement toward the thigh--
"and pour scalding oil upon the parts"--elevating his elbow, as
if with a tea-pot in his hand--"still further to sear them, after
amputation had been performed."

"He is fainting!" said one of his mess-mates; "quick! some water!"
The steward immediately hurried to the top-man with the basin.

Cuticle took the top-man by the wrist, and feeling it a while,
observed, "Don't be alarmed, men," addressing the two mess-mates;
"he'll recover presently; this fainting very generally takes
place." And he stood for a moment, tranquilly eyeing the patient.

Now the Surgeon of the Fleet and the top-man presented a spectacle
which, to a reflecting mind, was better than a church-yard sermon on
the mortality of man.

Here was a sailor, who four days previous, had stood erect--a pillar
of life--with an arm like a royal-mast and a thigh like a windlass.
But the slightest conceivable finger-touch of a bit of crooked trigger
had eventuated in stretching him out, more helpless than an hour-old
babe, with a blasted thigh, utterly drained of its brawn. And who was
it that now stood over him like a superior being, and, as if clothed
himself with the attributes of immortality, indifferently discoursed
of carving up his broken flesh, and thus piecing out his abbreviated
days. Who was it, that in capacity of Surgeon, seemed enacting the part
of a Regenerator of life? The withered, shrunken, one-eyed, toothless,
hairless Cuticle; with a trunk half dead--a _memento mori_ to behold!

And while, in those soul-sinking and panic-striking premonitions of
speedy death which almost invariably accompany a severe gun-shot wound,
even with the most intrepid spirits; while thus drooping and dying,
this once robust top-man's eye was now waning in his head like a Lapland
moon being eclipsed in clouds--Cuticle, who for years had still lived in
his withered tabernacle of a body--Cuticle, no doubt sharing in the
common self-delusion of old age--Cuticle must have felt his hold of
life as secure as the grim hug of a grizzly bear. Verily, Life is more
awful than Death; and let no man, though his live heart beat in him
like a cannon--let him not hug his life to himself; for, in the
predestinated necessities of things, that bounding life of his is
not a whit more secure than the life of a man on his death-bed.
To-day we inhale the air with expanding lungs, and life runs through
us like a thousand Niles; but to-morrow we may collapse in death,
and all our veins be dry as the Brook Kedron in a drought.

"And now, young gentlemen," said Cuticle, turning to the Assistant
Surgeons, "while the patient is coming to, permit me to describe
to you the highly-interesting operation I am about to perform."

"Mr. Surgeon of the Fleet," said Surgeon Bandage, "if you are
about to lecture, permit me to present you with your teeth; they
will make your discourse more readily understood." And so saying,
Bandage, with a bow, placed the two semicircles of ivory into
Cuticle's hands.

"Thank you, Surgeon Bandage," said Cuticle, and slipped the ivory
into its place.

"In the first place, now, young gentlemen, let me direct your
attention to the excellent preparation before you. I have had it
unpacked from its case, and set up here from my state-room, where
it occupies the spare berth; and all this for your express
benefit, young gentlemen. This skeleton I procured in person from
the Hunterian department of the Royal College of Surgeons in
London. It is a masterpiece of art. But we have no time to
examine it now. Delicacy forbids that I should amplify at a
juncture like this"--casting an almost benignant glance toward
the patient, now beginning to open his eyes; "but let me point
out to you upon this thigh-bone"--disengaging it from the skeleton,
with a gentle twist--"the precise place where I propose to perform
the operation. _Here_, young gentlemen, _here_ is the place. You
perceive it is very near the point of articulation with the trunk."

"Yes," interposed Surgeon Wedge, rising on his toes, "yes, young
gentlemen, the point of articulation with the _acetabulum_ of the
_os innominatum_."

"Where's your Bell on Bones, Dick?" whispered one of the assistants to
the student next him. "Wedge has been spending the whole morning over
it, getting out the hard names."

"Surgeon Wedge," said Cuticle, looking round severely, "we will
dispense with your commentaries, if you please, at present. Now,
young gentlemen, you cannot but perceive, that the point of
operation being so near the trunk and the vitals, it becomes an
unusually beautiful one, demanding a steady hand and a true eye;
and, after all, the patient may die under my hands."

"Quick, Steward! water, water; he's fainting again!" cried the
two mess-mates.

"Don't be alarmed for your comrade; men," said Cuticle, turning
round. "I tell you it is not an uncommon thing for the patient to
betray some emotion upon these occasions--most usually manifested
by swooning; it is quite natural it should be so. But we must not
delay the operation. Steward, that knife--no, the next one--there,
that's it. He is coming to, I think"--feeling the top-man's wrist.
"Are you all ready, sir?"

This last observation was addressed to one of the Never-sink's
assistant surgeons, a tall, lank, cadaverous young man, arrayed
in a sort of shroud of white canvas, pinned about his throat, and
completely enveloping his person. He was seated on a match-tub--
the skeleton swinging near his head--at the foot of the table, in
readiness to grasp the limb, as when a plank is being severed by
a carpenter and his apprentice.

"The sponges, Steward," said Cuticle, for the last time taking out his
teeth, and drawing up his shirt sleeves still further. Then, taking the
patient by the wrist, "Stand by, now, you mess-mates; keep hold of his
arms; pin him down. Steward, put your hand on the artery; I shall
commence as soon as his pulse begins to--_now, now!_" Letting fall the
wrist, feeling the thigh carefully, and bowing over it an instant, he
drew the fatal knife unerringly across the flesh. As it first touched
the part, the row of surgeons simultaneously dropped their eyes to the
watches in their hands while the patient lay, with eyes horribly
distended, in a kind of waking trance. Not a breath was heard; but as
the quivering flesh parted in a long, lingering gash, a spring of blood
welled up between the living walls of the wounds, and two thick streams,
in opposite directions, coursed down the thigh. The sponges were
instantly dipped in the purple pool; every face present was pinched to a
point with suspense; the limb writhed; the man shrieked; his mess-mates
pinioned him; while round and round the leg went the unpitying cut.

"The saw!" said Cuticle.

Instantly it was in his hand.

Full of the operation, he was about to apply it, when, looking
up, and turning to the assistant surgeons, he said, "Would any of
you young gentlemen like to apply the saw? A splendid subject!"

Several volunteered; when, selecting one, Cuticle surrendered the
instrument to him, saying, "Don't be hurried, now; be steady."

While the rest of the assistants looked upon their comrade with
glances of envy, he went rather timidly to work; and Cuticle, who
was earnestly regarding him, suddenly snatched the saw from his
hand. "Away, butcher! you disgrace the profession. Look at _me!_"

For a few moments the thrilling, rasping sound was heard; and
then the top-man seemed parted in twain at the hip, as the leg
slowly slid into the arms of the pale, gaunt man in the shroud,
who at once made away with it, and tucked it out of sight under
one of the guns.

"Surgeon Sawyer," now said Cuticle, courteously turning to the
surgeon of the Mohawk, "would you like to take up the arteries?
They are quite at your service, sir."

"Do, Sawyer; be prevailed upon," said Surgeon Bandage.

Sawyer complied; and while, with some modesty he was conducting
the operation, Cuticle, turning to the row of assistants said,
"Young gentlemen, we will now proceed with our Illustration. Hand
me that bone, Steward." And taking the thigh-bone in his still
bloody hands, and holding it conspicuously before his auditors,
the Surgeon of the Fleet began:

"Young gentlemen, you will perceive that precisely at this spot--
_here_--to which I previously directed your attention--at the
corresponding spot precisely--the operation has been performed.
About here, young gentlemen, here"--lifting his hand some inches
from the bone--"about _here_ the great artery was. But you
noticed that I did not use the tourniquet; I never do. The
forefinger of my steward is far better than a tourniquet, being
so much more manageable, and leaving the smaller veins uncompressed.
But I have been told, young gentlemen, that a certain Seignior
Seignioroni, a surgeon of Seville, has recently invented an admirable
substitute for the clumsy, old-fashioned tourniquet. As I understand
it, it is something like a pair of _calipers_, working with a small
Archimedes screw--a very clever invention, according to all accounts.
For the padded points at the end of the arches"--arching his forefinger
and thumb--"can be so worked as to approximate in such a way, as to--but
you don't attend to me, young gentlemen," he added, all at once starting.

Being more interested in the active proceedings of Surgeon Sawyer, who
was now threading a needle to sew up the overlapping of the stump, the
young gentlemen had not scrupled to turn away their attention altogether
from the lecturer.

A few moments more, and the top-man, in a swoon, was removed below into
the sick-bay. As the curtain settled again after the patient had
disappeared, Cuticle, still holding the thigh-bone of the skeleton in
his ensanguined hands, proceeded with his remarks upon it; and having
concluded them, added, "Now, young gentlemen, not the least interesting
consequence of this operation will be the finding of the ball, which,
in case of non-amputation, might have long eluded the most careful
search. That ball, young gentlemen, must have taken a most circuitous
route. Nor, in cases where the direction is oblique, is this at all
unusual. Indeed, the learned Henner gives us a most remarkable--I had
almost said an incredible--case of a soldier's neck, where the bullet,
entering at the part called Adam's Apple--"

"Yes," said Surgeon Wedge, elevating himself, "the _pomum Adami_."

"Entering the point called _Adam's Apple_," continued Cuticle,
severely emphasising the last two words, "ran completely round
the neck, and, emerging at the same hole it had entered, shot the
next man in the ranks. It was afterward extracted, says Renner,
from the second man, and pieces of the other's skin were found
adhering to it. But examples of foreign substances being received
into the body with a ball, young gentlemen, are frequently
observed. Being attached to a United States ship at the time, I
happened to be near the spot of the battle of Ayacucho, in Peru.
The day after the action, I saw in the barracks of the wounded a
trooper, who, having been severely injured in the brain, went
crazy, and, with his own holster-pistol, committed suicide in the
hospital. The ball drove inward a portion of his woollen night-cap----"

"In the form of a _cul-de-sac_, doubtless," said the undaunted Wedge.

"For once, Surgeon Wedge, you use the only term that can be
employed; and let me avail myself of this opportunity to say to
you, young gentlemen, that a man of true science"--expanding his
shallow chest a little--"uses but few hard words, and those only
when none other will answer his purpose; whereas the smatterer in
science"--slightly glancing toward Wedge--"thinks, that by
mouthing hard words, he proves that he understands hard things.
Let this sink deep in your minds, young gentlemen; and, Surgeon
Wedge "--with a stiff bow--"permit me to submit the reflection
to yourself. Well, young gentlemen, the bullet was afterward
extracted by pulling upon the external parts of the _cul-de-sac_--
a simple, but exceedingly beautiful operation. There is a fine
example, somewhat similar, related in Guthrie; but, of course,
you must have met with it, in so well-known a work as his
Treatise upon Gun-shot Wounds. When, upward of twenty years ago,
I was with Lord Cochrane, then Admiral of the fleets of this very
country"--pointing shoreward, out of a port-hole--"a sailor of
the vessel to which I was attached, during the blockade of Bahia,
had his leg----" But by this time the fidgets had completely taken
possession of his auditors, especially of the senior surgeons;
and turning upon them abruptly, he added, "But I will not detain
you longer, gentlemen"--turning round upon all the surgeons--
"your dinners must be waiting you on board your respective ships.
But, Surgeon Sawyer, perhaps you may desire to wash your hands
before you go. There is the basin, sir; you will find a clean towel
on the rammer. For myself, I seldom use them"--taking out his
handkerchief. "I must leave you now, gentlemen"--bowing. "To-morrow,
at ten, the limb will be upon the table, and I shall be happy to
see you all upon the occasion. Who's there?" turning to the curtain,
which then rustled.

"Please, sir," said the Steward, entering, "the patient is dead."

"The body also, gentlemen, at ten precisely," said Cuticle, once
more turning round upon his guests. "I predicted that the
operation might prove fatal; he was very much run down. Good-
morning;" and Cuticle departed.

"He does not, surely, mean to touch the body?" exclaimed Surgeon
Sawyer, with much excitement.

"Oh, no!" said Patella, "that's only his way; he means, doubtless,
that it may be inspected previous to being taken ashore for burial."

The assemblage of gold-laced surgeons now ascended to the quarter-deck;
the second cutter was called away by the bugler, and, one by one, they
were dropped aboard of their respective ships.

The following evening the mess-mates of the top-man rowed his remains
ashore, and buried them in the ever-vernal Protestant cemetery, hard
by the Beach of the Flamingoes, in plain sight from the bay.



When the second cutter pulled about among the ships, dropping the
surgeons aboard the American men-of-war here and there--as a
pilot-boat distributes her pilots at the mouth of the harbour--
she passed several foreign frigates, two of which, an Englishman
and a Frenchman, had excited not a little remark on board the
Neversink. These vessels often loosed their sails and exercised
yards simultaneously with ourselves, as if desirous of comparing
the respective efficiency of the crews.

When we were nearly ready for sea, the English frigate, weighing
her anchor, made all sail with the sea-breeze, and began showing
off her paces by gliding about among all the men-of-war in
harbour, and particularly by running down under the Neversink's
stern. Every time she drew near, we complimented her by lowering
our ensign a little, and invariably she courteously returned the
salute. She was inviting us to a sailing-match; and it was
rumoured that, when we should leave the bay, our Captain would
have no objections to gratify her; for, be it known, the
Neversink was accounted the fleetest keeled craft sailing under
the American long-pennant. Perhaps this was the reason why the
stranger challenged us.

It may have been that a portion of our crew were the more anxious
to race with this frigate, from a little circumstance which a few
of them deemed rather galling. Not many cables'-length distant
from our Commodore's cabin lay the frigate President, with the
red cross of St. George flying from her peak. As its name
imported, this fine craft was an American born; but having been
captured during the last war with Britain, she now sailed the
salt seas as a trophy.

Think of it, my gallant countrymen, one and all, down the sea-
coast and along the endless banks of the Ohio and Columbia--think
of the twinges we sea-patriots must have felt to behold the live-
oak of the Floridas and the pines of green Maine built into the
oaken walls of Old England! But, to some of the sailors, there
was a counterbalancing thought, as grateful as the other was
galling, and that was, that somewhere, sailing under the stars
and stripes, was the frigate Macedonian, a British-born craft
which had once sported the battle-banner of Britain.

It has ever been the custom to spend almost any amount of money
in repairing a captured vessel, in order that she may long
survive to commemorate the heroism of the conqueror. Thus, in the
English Navy, there are many Monsieurs of seventy-fours won from
the Gaul. But we Americans can show but few similar trophies,
though, no doubt, we would much like to be able so to do.

But I never have beheld any of thee floating trophies without
being reminded of a scene once witnessed in a pioneer village on
the western bank of the Mississippi. Not far from this village,
where the stumps of aboriginal trees yet stand in the market-
place, some years ago lived a portion of the remnant tribes of
the Sioux Indians, who frequently visited the white settlements
to purchase trinkets and cloths.

One florid crimson evening in July, when the red-hot sun was
going down in a blaze, and I was leaning against a corner in my
huntsman's frock, lo! there came stalking out of the crimson West
a gigantic red-man, erect as a pine, with his glittering
tomahawk, big as a broad-ax, folded in martial repose across his
chest, Moodily wrapped in his blanket, and striding like a king
on the stage, he promenaded up and down the rustic streets,
exhibiting on the back of his blanket a crowd of human hands,
rudely delineated in red; one of them seemed recently drawn.

"Who is this warrior?" asked I; "and why marches he here? and for
what are these bloody hands?"

"That warrior is the _Red-Hot Coal_," said a pioneer in moccasins,
by my side. "He marches here to show-off his last trophy; every
one of those hands attests a foe scalped by his tomahawk; and he
has just emerged from Ben Brown's, the painter, who has sketched
the last red hand that you see; for last night this _Red-Hot Coal_
outburned the _Yellow Torch_, the chief of a band of the Foxes."

Poor savage thought I; and is this the cause of your lofty gait?
Do you straighten yourself to think that you have committed a
murder, when a chance-falling stone has often done the same? Is
it a proud thing to topple down six feet perpendicular of immortal
manhood, though that lofty living tower needed perhaps thirty good
growing summers to bring it to maturity? Poor savage! And you account
it so glorious, do you, to mutilate and destroy what God himself was
more than a quarter of a century in building?

And yet, fellow-Christians, what is the American frigate Macedonian,
or the English frigate President, but as two bloody red hands painted
on this poor savage's blanket?

Are there no Moravians in the Moon, that not a missionary has yet
visited this poor pagan planet of ours, to civilise civilisation and
christianise Christendom?



We lay in Rio so long--for what reason the Commodore only knows--that
a saying went abroad among the impatient sailors that our frigate would
at last ground on the beef-bones daily thrown overboard by the cooks.

But at last good tidings came. "All hands up anchor, ahoy!" And bright
and early in the morning up came our old iron, as the sun rose in the

The land-breezes at Rio--by which alone vessels may emerge from the
bay--is ever languid and faint. It comes from gardens of citrons and
cloves, spiced with all the spices of the Tropic of Capricorn. And,
like that old exquisite, Mohammed, who so much loved to snuff perfumes
and essences, and used to lounge out of the conservatories of Khadija,
his wife, to give battle to the robust sons of Koriesh; even so this
Rio land-breeze comes jaded with sweet-smelling savours, to wrestle
with the wild Tartar breezes of the sea.

Slowly we dropped and dropped down the bay, glided like a stately swan
through the outlet, and were gradually rolled by the smooth, sliding
billows broad out upon the deep. Straight in our wake came the tall
main-mast of the English fighting-frigate, terminating, like a steepled
cathedral, in the bannered cross of the religion of peace; and straight
after _her_ came the rainbow banner of France, sporting God's token
that no more would he make war on the earth.

Both Englishmen and Frenchmen were resolved upon a race; and we
Yankees swore by our top-sails and royals to sink their blazing
banners that night among the Southern constellations we should
daily be extinguishing behind us in our run to the North.

"Ay," said Mad Jack, "St. George's banner shall be as the
_Southern Cross_, out of sight, leagues down the horizon, while
our gallant stars, my brave boys, shall burn all alone in the
North, like the Great Bear at the Pole! Come on, Rainbow and Cross!"

But the wind was long languid and faint, not yet recovered from its
night's dissipation ashore, and noon advanced, with the Sugar-Loaf
pinnacle in sight.

Now it is not with ships as with horses; for though, if a horse
walk well and fast, it generally furnishes good token that he is
not bad at a gallop, yet the ship that in a light breeze is
outstripped, may sweep the stakes, so soon as a t'gallant breeze
enables her to strike into a canter. Thus fared it with us.
First, the Englishman glided ahead, and bluffly passed on; then
the Frenchman politely bade us adieu, while the old Neversink
lingered behind, railing at the effeminate breeze. At one time,
all three frigates were irregularly abreast, forming a diagonal
line; and so near were all three, that the stately officers on
the poops stiffly saluted by touching their caps, though
refraining from any further civilities. At this juncture, it was
a noble sight to behold those fine frigates, with dripping
breast-hooks, all rearing and nodding in concert, and to look
through their tall spars and wilderness of rigging, that seemed
like inextricably-entangled, gigantic cobwebs against the sky.

Toward sundown the ocean pawed its white hoofs to the spur of its
helter-skelter rider, a strong blast from the Eastward, and,
giving three cheers from decks, yards, and tops, we crowded all
sail on St. George and St. Denis.

But it is harder to overtake than outstrip; night fell upon us,
still in the rear--still where the little boat was, which, at the
eleventh hour, according to a Rabbinical tradition, pushed after
the ark of old Noah.

It was a misty, cloudy night; and though at first our look-outs
kept the chase in dim sight, yet at last so thick became the
atmosphere, that no sign of a strange spar was to be seen. But
the worst of it was that, when last discerned, the Frenchman was
broad on our weather-bow, and the Englishman gallantly leading
his van.

The breeze blew fresher and fresher; but, with even our main-
royal set, we dashed along through a cream-coloured ocean of
illuminated foam. White-Jacket was then in the top; and it was
glorious to look down and see our black hull butting the white
sea with its broad bows like a ram.

"We must beat them with such a breeze, dear Jack," said I to our
noble Captain of the Top.

"But the same breeze blows for John Bull, remember," replied
Jack, who, being a Briton, perhaps favoured the Englishman more
than the Neversink.

"But how we boom through the billows!" cried Jack, gazing over
the top-rail; then, flinging forth his arm, recited,

  "'Aslope, and gliding on the leeward side,
    The bounding vessel cuts the roaring tide.'

Camoens! White-Jacket, Camoens! Did you ever read him? The
Lusiad, I mean? It's the man-of-war epic of the world, my lad.
Give me Gama for a Commodore, say I--Noble Gama! And Mickle,
White-Jacket, did you ever read of him? William Julius Mickle?
Camoens's Translator? A disappointed man though, White-Jacket.
Besides his version of the Lusiad, he wrote many forgotten
things. Did you ever see his ballad of Cumnor Hall?--No?--Why, it
gave Sir Walter Scott the hint of Kenilworth. My father knew
Mickle when he went to sea on board the old Romney man-of-war.
How many great men have been sailors, White-Jacket! They say
Homer himself was once a tar, even as his hero, Ulysses, was both
a sailor and a shipwright. I'll swear Shakspeare was once a
captain of the forecastle. Do you mind the first scene in _The
Tempest_, White-Jacket? And the world-finder, Christopher
Columbus, was a sailor! and so was Camoens, who went to sea with
Gama, else we had never had the Lusiad, White-Jacket. Yes, I've
sailed over the very track that Camoens sailed--round the East
Cape into the Indian Ocean. I've been in Don Jose's garden, too,
in Macao, and bathed my feet in the blessed dew of the walks
where Camoens wandered before me. Yes, White-Jacket, and I have
seen and sat in the cave at the end of the flowery, winding way,
where Camoens, according to tradition, composed certain parts of
his Lusiad. Ay, Camoens was a sailor once! Then, there's
Falconer, whose 'Ship-wreck' will never founder, though he
himself, poor fellow, was lost at sea in the Aurora frigate. Old
Noah was the first sailor. And St. Paul, too, knew how to box the
compass, my lad! mind you that chapter in Acts? I couldn't spin
the yarn better myself. Were you ever in Malta? They called it
Melita in the Apostle's day. I have been in Paul's cave there,
White-Jacket. They say a piece of it is good for a charm against
shipwreck; but I never tried it. There's Shelley, he was quite a
sailor. Shelley--poor lad! a Percy, too--but they ought to have
let him sleep in his sailor's grave--he was drowned in the
Mediterranean, you know, near Leghorn--and not burn his body, as
they did, as if he had been a bloody Turk. But many people
thought him so, White-Jacket, because he didn't go to mass, and
because he wrote Queen Mab. Trelawney was by at the burning; and
he was an ocean-rover, too! Ay, and Byron helped put a piece of a
keel on the fire; for it was made of bits of a wreck, they say;
one wreck burning another! And was not Byron a sailor? an amateur
forecastle-man, White-Jacket, so he was; else how bid the ocean
heave and fall in that grand, majestic way? I say, White-Jacket,
d'ye mind me? there never was a very great man yet who spent all
his life inland. A snuff of the sea, my boy, is inspiration; and
having been once out of sight of land, has been the making of
many a true poet and the blasting of many pretenders; for, d'ye
see, there's no gammon about the ocean; it knocks the false keel
right off a pretender's bows; it tells him just what he is, and
makes him feel it, too. A sailor's life, I say, is the thing to
bring us mortals out. What does the blessed Bible say? Don't it
say that we main-top-men alone see the marvellous sights and
wonders? Don't deny the blessed Bible, now! don't do it! How it
rocks up here, my boy!" holding on to a shroud; "but it only
proves what I've been saying--the sea is the place to cradle
genius! Heave and fall, old sea!"

"And _you_, also, noble Jack," said I, "what are you but a sailor?"

"You're merry, my boy," said Jack, looking up with a glance like
that of a sentimental archangel doomed to drag out his eternity
in disgrace. "But mind you, White-Jacket, there are many great
men in the world besides Commodores and Captains. I've that here,
White-Jacket"--touching his forehead--"which, under happier
skies--perhaps in you solitary star there, peeping down from
those clouds--might have made a Homer of me. But Fate is Fate,
White-Jacket; and we Homers who happen to be captains of tops
must write our odes in our hearts, and publish them in our heads.
But look! the Captain's on the poop."

It was now midnight; but all the officers were on deck.

"Jib-boom, there!" cried the Lieutenant of the Watch, going forward and
hailing the headmost look-out. "D'ye see anything of those fellows now?"

"See nothing, sir."

"See nothing, sir," said the Lieutenant, approaching the Captain, and
touching his cap.

"Call all hands!" roared the Captain. "This keel sha'n't be beat while
I stride it."

All hands were called, and the hammocks stowed in the nettings for
the rest of the night, so that no one could lie between blankets.

Now, in order to explain the means adopted by the Captain to
insure us the race, it needs to be said of the Neversink, that,
for some years after being launched, she was accounted one of the
slowest vessels in the American Navy. But it chanced upon a time,
that, being on a cruise in the Mediterranean, she happened to
sail out of Port Mahon in what was then supposed to be very bad
trim for the sea. Her bows were rooting in the water, and her
stern kicking up its heels in the air. But, wonderful to tell, it
was soon discovered that in this comical posture she sailed like
a shooting-star; she outstripped every vessel on the station.
Thenceforward all her Captains, on all cruises, _trimmed her by
the head;_ and the Neversink gained the name of a clipper.

To return. All hands being called, they were now made use of by
Captain Claret as make-weights, to trim the ship, scientifically,
to her most approved bearings. Some were sent forward on the
spar-deck, with twenty-four-pound shot in their hands, and were
judiciously scattered about here and there, with strict orders
not to budge an inch from their stations, for fear of marring the
Captain's plans. Others were distributed along the gun and berth-
decks, with similar orders; and, to crown all, several carronade
guns were unshipped from their carriages, and swung in their
breechings from the beams of the main-deck, so as to impart a
sort of vibratory briskness and oscillating buoyancy to the frigate.

And thus we five hundred make-weights stood out that whole night,
some of us exposed to a drenching rain, in order that the
Neversink might not be beaten. But the comfort and consolation of
all make-weights is as dust in the balance in the estimation of
the rulers of our man-of-war world.

The long, anxious night at last came to an end, and, with the
first peep of day, the look-out on the jib-boom was hailed; but
nothing was in sight. At last it was broad day; yet still not a
bow was to be seen in our rear, nor a stern in our van.

"Where are they?" cried the Captain.

"Out of sight, astern, to be sure, sir," said the officer of the deck.

"Out of sight, _ahead_, to be sure, sir," muttered Jack Chase,
in the top.

Precisely thus stood the question: whether we beat them, or
whether they beat us, no mortal can tell to this hour, since we
never saw them again; but for one, White-Jacket will lay his two
hands on the bow chasers of the Neversink, and take his ship's
oath that we Yankees carried the day.



After the race (our man-of-war Derby) we had many days fine
weather, during which we continued running before the Trades
toward the north. Exhilarated by the thought of being homeward-
bound, many of the seamen became joyous, and the discipline of
the ship, if anything, became a little relaxed. Many pastimes
served to while away the _Dog-Watches_ in particular. These
_Dog-Watches_ (embracing two hours in the early part of the
evening) form the only authorised play-time for the crews of most
ships at sea.

Among other diversions at present licensed by authority in the
Neversink, were those of single-stick, sparring, hammer-and-
anvil, and head-bumping. All these were under the direct
patronage of the Captain, otherwise--seeing the consequences they
sometimes led to--they would undoubtedly have been strictly
prohibited. It is a curious coincidence, that when a navy captain
does not happen to be an admirer of the _Fistiana_ his crew
seldom amuse themselves in that way.

_Single-stick_, as every one knows, is a delightful pastime,
which consists in two men standing a few feet apart, and rapping
each other over the head with long poles. There is a good deal of
fun in it, so long as you are not hit; but a hit--in the judgment
of discreet persons--spoils the sport completely. When this
pastime is practiced by connoisseurs ashore, they wear heavy,
wired helmets, to break the force of the blows. But the only
helmets of our tars were those with which nature had furnished
them. They played with great gun-rammers.

_Sparring_ consists in playing single-stick with bone poles
instead of wooden ones. Two men stand apart, and pommel each
other with their fists (a hard bunch of knuckles permanently
attached to the arms, and made globular, or extended into a palm,
at the pleasure of the proprietor), till one of them, finding
himself sufficiently thrashed, cries _enough_.

_Hammer-and-anvil_ is thus practised by amateurs: Patient No. 1
gets on all-fours, and stays so; while patient No. 2 is taken up
by his arms and legs, and his base is swung against the base of
patient No. 1, till patient No. 1, with the force of the final
blow, is sent flying along the deck.

_Head-bumping_, as patronised by Captain Claret, consists in two
negroes (whites will not answer) butting at each other like rams.
This pastime was an especial favourite with the Captain. In the
dog-watches, Rose-water and May-day were repeatedly summoned
into the lee waist to tilt at each other, for the benefit of
the Captain's health.

May-day was a full-blooded "_bull-negro_," so the sailors called
him, with a skull like an iron tea-kettle, wherefore May-day much
fancied the sport. But Rose-water, he was a slender and rather
handsome mulatto, and abhorred the pastime. Nevertheless, the
Captain must be obeyed; so at the word poor Rose-water was fain
to put himself in a posture of defence, else May-day would
incontinently have bumped him out of a port-hole into the sea. I
used to pity poor Rose-water from the bottom of my heart. But my
pity was almost aroused into indignation at a sad sequel to one
of these gladiatorial scenes.

It seems that, lifted up by the unaffected, though verbally
unexpressed applause of the Captain, May-day had begun to despise
Rose-water as a poltroon--a fellow all brains and no skull;
whereas he himself was a great warrior, all skull and no brains.

Accordingly, after they had been bumping one evening to the
Captain's content, May-day confidentially told Rose-water that he
considered him a "_nigger_," which, among some blacks, is held a
great term of reproach. Fired at the insult, Rose-water gave May-
day to understand that he utterly erred; for his mother, a black
slave, had been one of the mistresses of a Virginia planter
belonging to one of the oldest families in that state. Another
insulting remark followed this innocent disclosure; retort
followed retort; in a word, at last they came together in mortal

The master-at-arms caught them in the act, and brought them up to
the mast. The Captain advanced.

"Please, sir," said poor Rose-water, "it all came of dat 'ar
bumping; May-day, here, aggrawated me 'bout it."

"Master-at-arms," said the Captain, "did you see them fighting?"

"Ay, sir," said the master-at-arms, touching his cap.

"Rig the gratings," said the Captain. "I'll teach you two men that,
though I now and then permit you to _play_, I will have no _fighting_.
Do your duty, boatswain's mate!" And the negroes were flogged.

Justice commands that the fact of the Captain's not showing any
leniency to May-day--a decided favourite of his, at least while
in the ring--should not be passed over. He flogged both culprits
in the most impartial manner.

As in the matter of the scene at the gangway, shortly after the
Cape Horn theatricals, when my attention had been directed to the
fact that the officers had _shipped their quarter-deck faces_--
upon that occasion, I say, it was seen with what facility a sea-
officer assumes his wonted severity of demeanour after a casual
relaxation of it. This was especially the case with Captain
Claret upon the present occasion. For any landsman to have beheld
him in the lee waist, of a pleasant dog-watch, with a genial,
good-humoured countenance, observing the gladiators in the ring,
and now and then indulging in a playful remark--that landsman
would have deemed Captain Claret the indulgent father of his
crew, perhaps permitting the excess of his kind-heartedness to
encroach upon the appropriate dignity of his station. He would
have deemed Captain Claret a fine illustration of those two well-
known poetical comparisons between a sea-captain and a father,
and between a sea-captain and the master of apprentices,
instituted by those eminent maritime jurists, the noble Lords
Tenterden and Stowell.

But surely, if there is anything hateful, it is this _shipping of
the quarter-deck face_ after wearing a merry and good-natured
one. How can they have the heart? Methinks, if but once I smiled
upon a man--never mind how much beneath me--I could not bring
myself to condemn him to the shocking misery of the lash. Oh
officers! all round the world, if this quarter-deck face you wear
at all, then never unship it for another, to be merely sported
for a moment. Of all insults, the temporary condescension of a
master to a slave is the most outrageous and galling. That
potentate who most condescends, mark him well; for that
potentate, if occasion come, will prove your uttermost tyrant.



When with five hundred others I made one of the compelled
spectators at the scourging of poor Rose-water, I little thought
what Fate had ordained for myself the next day.

Poor mulatto! thought I, one of an oppressed race, they degrade
you like a hound. Thank God! I am a white. Yet I had seen whites
also scourged; for, black or white, all my shipmates were liable
to that. Still, there is something in us, somehow, that in the
most degraded condition, we snatch at a chance to deceive
ourselves into a fancied superiority to others, whom we suppose
lower in the scale than ourselves.

Poor Rose-water! thought I; poor mulatto! Heaven send you a
release from your humiliation!

To make plain the thing about to be related, it needs to repeat
what has somewhere been previously mentioned, that in _tacking
ship_ every seaman in a man-of-war has a particular station
assigned him. What that station is, should be made known to him
by the First Lieutenant; and when the word is passed to _tack_ or
_wear_, it is every seaman's duty to be found at his post. But
among the various _numbers and stations_ given to me by the
senior Lieutenant, when I first came on board the frigate, he had
altogether omitted informing me of my particular place at those
times, and, up to the precise period now written of, I had hardly
known that I should have had any special place then at all. For
the rest of the men, they seemed to me to catch hold of the first
rope that offered, as in a merchant-man upon similar occasions.
Indeed, I subsequently discovered, that such was the state of
discipline--in this one particular, at least--that very few of
the seamen could tell where their proper stations were, at
_tacking or wearing_.

"All hands tack ship, ahoy!" such was the announcement made by the
boatswain's mates at the hatchways the morning after the hard fate of
Rose-water. It was just eight bells--noon, and springing from my white
jacket, which I had spread between the guns for a bed on the main-deck,
I ran up the ladders, and, as usual, seized hold of the main-brace,
which fifty hands were streaming along forward. When _main-top-sail
haul!_ was given through the trumpet, I pulled at this brace with such
heartiness and good-will, that I almost flattered myself that my
instrumentality in getting the frigate round on the other tack, deserved
a public vote of thanks, and a silver tankard from Congress.

But something happened to be in the way aloft when the yards swung
round; a little confusion ensued; and, with anger on his brow, Captain
Claret came forward to see what occasioned it. No one to let go the
weather-lift of the main-yard! The rope was cast off, however, by a
hand, and the yards unobstructed, came round.

When the last rope was coiled, away, the Captain desired to know
of the First Lieutenant who it might be that was stationed at the
weather (then the starboard) main-lift. With a vexed expression
of countenance the First Lieutenant sent a midshipman for the
Station Bill, when, upon glancing it over, my own name was found
put down at the post in question.

At the time I was on the gun-deck below, and did not know of
these proceedings; but a moment after, I heard the boatswain's
mates bawling my name at all the hatch-ways, and along all three
decks. It was the first time I had ever heard it so sent through
the furthest recesses of the ship, and well knowing what this
generally betokened to other seamen, my heart jumped to my
throat, and I hurriedly asked Flute, the boatswain's-mate at the
fore-hatchway, what was wanted of me.

"Captain wants ye at the mast," he replied. "Going to flog ye, I guess."

"What for?"

"My eyes! you've been chalking your face, hain't ye?"

"What am I wanted for?" I repeated.

But at that instant my name was again thundered forth by the other
boatswain's mate, and Flute hurried me away, hinting that I would soon
find out what the Captain desired of me.

I swallowed down my heart in me as I touched the spar-deck, for a
single instant balanced myself on my best centre, and then, wholly
ignorant of what was going to be alleged against me, advanced to
the dread tribunal of the frigate.

As I passed through the gangway, I saw the quarter-master rigging
the gratings; the boatswain with his green bag of scourges; the
master-at-arms ready to help off some one's shirt.

Again I made a desperate swallow of my whole soul in me, and
found myself standing before Captain Claret. His flushed face
obviously showed him in ill-humour. Among the group of officers
by his side was the First Lieutenant, who, as I came aft, eyed me
in such a manner, that I plainly perceived him to be extremely
vexed at me for having been the innocent means of reflecting upon
the manner in which he kept up the discipline of the ship.

"Why were you not at your station, sir?" asked the Captain.

"What station do you mean, sir?" said I.

It is generally the custom with man-of-war's-men to stand
obsequiously touching their hat at every sentence they address to
the Captain. But as this was not obligatory upon me by the
Articles of War, I did not do so upon the present occasion, and
previously, I had never had the dangerous honour of a personal
interview with Captain Claret.

He quickly noticed my omission of the homage usually rendered
him, and instinct told me, that to a certain extent, it set his
heart against me.

"What station, sir, do you mean?" said I.

"You pretend ignorance," he replied; "it will not help you, sir."

Glancing at the Captain, the First Lieutenant now produced the
Station Bill, and read my name in connection with that of the
starboard main-lift.

"Captain Claret," said I, "it is the first time I ever heard of
my being assigned to that post."

"How is this, Mr. Bridewell?" he said, turning to the First
Lieutenant, with a fault-finding expression.

"It is impossible, sir," said that officer, striving to hide his
vexation, "but this man must have known his station."

"I have never known it before this moment, Captain Claret," said I.

"Do you contradict my officer?" he returned. "I shall flog you."

I had now been on board the frigate upward of a year, and remained
unscourged; the ship was homeward-bound, and in a few weeks, at most,
I would be a free man. And now, after making a hermit of myself in
some things, in order to avoid the possibility of the scourge, here it
was hanging over me for a thing utterly unforeseen, for a crime of which
I was as utterly innocent. But all that was as naught. I saw that my
case was hopeless; my solemn disclaimer was thrown in my teeth, and
the boatswain's mate stood curling his fingers through the _cat_.

There are times when wild thoughts enter a man's heart, when he seems
almost irresponsible for his act and his deed. The Captain stood on the
weather-side of the deck. Sideways, on an unobstructed line with him,
was the opening of the lee-gangway, where the side-ladders are suspended
in port. Nothing but a slight bit of sinnate-stuff served to rail in
this opening, which was cut right down to the level of the Captain's
feet, showing the far sea beyond. I stood a little to windward of him,
and, though he was a large, powerful man, it was certain that a sudden
rush against him, along the slanting deck, would infallibly pitch him
headforemost into the ocean, though he who so rushed must needs go over
with him. My blood seemed clotting in my veins; I felt icy cold at the
tips of my fingers, and a dimness was before my eyes. But through that
dimness the boatswain's mate, scourge in hand, loomed like a giant, and
Captain Claret, and the blue sea seen through the opening at the
gangway, showed with an awful vividness. I cannot analyse my heart,
though it then stood still within me. But the thing that swayed me to
my purpose was not altogether the thought that Captain Claret was about
to degrade me, and that I had taken an oath with my soul that he should
not. No, I felt my man's manhood so bottomless within me, that no word,
no blow, no scourge of Captain Claret could cut me deep enough for
that. I but swung to an instinct in me--the instinct diffused through
all animated nature, the same that prompts even a worm to turn under
the heel. Locking souls-with him, I meant to drag Captain Claret from
this earthly tribunal of his to that of Jehovah and let Him decide
between us. No other way could I escape the scourge.

Nature has not implanted any power in man that was not meant to be
exercised at times, though too often our powers have been abused. The
privilege, inborn and inalienable, that every man has of dying himself,
and inflicting death upon another, was not given to us without a purpose.
These are the last resources of an insulted and unendurable existence.

"To the gratings, sir!" said Captain Claret; "do you hear?"

My eye was measuring the distance between him and the sea.

"Captain Claret," said a voice advancing from the crowd. I turned
to see who this might be, that audaciously interposed at a juncture
like this. It was the same remarkably handsome and gentlemanly
corporal of marines, Colbrook, who has been previously alluded to,
in the chapter describing killing time in a man-of-war.

"I know that man," said Colbrook, touching his cap, and speaking in a
mild, firm, but extremely deferential manner; "and I know that he
would not be found absent from his station, if he knew where it was."

This speech was almost unprecedented. Seldom or never before had
a marine dared to speak to the Captain of a frigate in behalf of
a seaman at the mast. But there was something so unostentatiously
commanding in the calm manner of the man, that the Captain,
though astounded, did not in any way reprimand him. The very
unusualness of his interference seemed Colbrook's protection.

Taking heart, perhaps, from Colbrook's example, Jack Chase
interposed, and in a manly but carefully respectful manner, in
substance repeated the corporal's remark, adding that he had
never found me wanting in the top.

The Captain looked from Chase to Colbrook, and from Colbrook to
Chase--one the foremost man among the seamen, the other the
foremost man among the soldiers--then all round upon the packed
and silent crew, and, as if a slave to Fate, though supreme
Captain of a frigate, he turned to the First Lieutenant, made
some indifferent remark, and saying to me _you may go_, sauntered
aft into his cabin; while I, who, in the desperation of my soul,
had but just escaped being a murderer and a suicide, almost burst
into tears of thanks-giving where I stood.



Let us forget the scourge and the gangway a while, and jot down
in our memories a few little things pertaining to our man-of-war
world. I let nothing slip, however small; and feel myself
actuated by the same motive which has prompted many worthy old
chroniclers, to set down the merest trifles concerning things
that are destined to pass away entirely from the earth, and
which, if not preserved in the nick of time, must infallibly
perish from the memories of man. Who knows that this humble
narrative may not hereafter prove the history of an obsolete
barbarism? Who knows that, when men-of-war shall be no more,
"White-Jacket" may not be quoted to show to the people in the
Millennium what a man-of-war was? God hasten the time! Lo! ye
years, escort it hither, and bless our eyes ere we die.

There is no part of a frigate where you will see more going and
coming of strangers, and overhear more greetings and gossipings
of acquaintances, than in the immediate vicinity of the scuttle-
butt, just forward of the main-hatchway, on the gun-deck.

The scuttle-butt is a goodly, round, painted cask, standing on
end, and with its upper head removed, showing a narrow, circular
shelf within, where rest a number of tin cups for the accommodation
of drinkers. Central, within the scuttle-butt itself, stands an iron
pump, which, connecting with the immense water-tanks in the hold,
furnishes an unfailing supply of the much-admired Pale Ale, first
brewed in the brooks of the garden of Eden, and stamped with the
_brand_ of our old father Adam, who never knew what wine was. We
are indebted to the old vintner Noah for that. The scuttle-butt
is the only fountain in the ship; and here alone can you drink,
unless at your meals.  Night and day an armed sentry paces before
it, bayonet in hand, to see that no water is taken away, except
according to law. I wonder that they station no sentries at the
port-holes, to see that no air is breathed, except according to
Navy regulations.

As five hundred men come to drink at this scuttle-butt; as it is
often surrounded by officers' servants drawing water for their
masters to wash; by the cooks of the range, who hither come to
fill their coffee-pots; and by the cooks of the ship's messes to
procure water for their _duffs_; the scuttle-butt may be
denominated the town-pump of the ship. And would that my fine
countryman, Hawthorne of Salem, had but served on board a man-of-
war in his time, that he might give us the reading of a "_rill_"
from the scuttle-butt.

    *     *     *     *     *

As in all extensive establishments--abbeys, arsenals, colleges,
treasuries, metropolitan post-offices, and monasteries--there are many
snug little niches, wherein are ensconced certain superannuated old
pensioner officials; and, more especially, as in most ecclesiastical
establishments, a few choice prebendary stalls are to be found,
furnished with well-filled mangers and racks; so, in a man-of-war,
there are a variety of similar snuggeries for the benefit of decrepit
or rheumatic old tars. Chief among these is the office of _mast-man_.

There is a stout rail on deck, at the base of each mast, where a
number of _braces, lifts_, and _buntlines_ are belayed to the
pins. It is the sole duty of the mast-man to see that these ropes
are always kept clear, to preserve his premises in a state of the
greatest attainable neatness, and every Sunday morning to dispose
his ropes in neat _Flemish coils_.

The _main-mast-man_ of the Neversink was a very aged seaman, who
well deserved his comfortable berth. He had seen more than half a
century of the most active service, and, through all, had proved
himself a good and faithful man. He furnished one of the very
rare examples of a sailor in a green old age; for, with most
sailors, old age comes in youth, and Hardship and Vice carry them
on an early bier to the grave.

As in the evening of life, and at the close of the day, old
Abraham sat at the door of his tent, biding his time to die, so
sits our old mast-man on the _coat of the mast_, glancing round
him with patriarchal benignity. And that mild expression of his
sets off very strangely a face that has been burned almost black
by the torrid suns that shone fifty years ago--a face that is
seamed with three sabre cuts. You would almost think this old
mast-man had been blown out of Vesuvius, to look alone at his
scarred, blackened forehead, chin, and cheeks. But gaze down into
his eye, and though all the snows of Time have drifted higher and
higher upon his brow, yet deep down in that eye you behold an
infantile, sinless look, the same that answered the glance of
this old man's mother when first she cried for the babe to be
laid by her side. That look is the fadeless, ever infantile
immortality within.

    *     *     *     *     *

The Lord Nelsons of the sea, though but Barons in the state, yet
oftentimes prove more potent than their royal masters; and at
such scenes as Trafalgar--dethroning this Emperor and reinstating
that--enact on the ocean the proud part of mighty Richard Neville,
the king-making Earl of the land. And as Richard Neville entrenched
himself in his moated old man-of-war castle of Warwick, which,
underground, was traversed with vaults, hewn out of the solid rock,
and intricate as the wards of the old keys of Calais surrendered to
Edward III.; even so do these King-Commodores house themselves in their
water-rimmed, cannon-sentried frigates, oaken dug, deck under deck, as
cell under cell. And as the old Middle-Age warders of Warwick, every
night at curfew, patrolled the battlements, and dove down into the
vaults to see that all lights were extinguished, even so do the
master-at-arms and ship's corporals of a frigate perambulate all the
decks of a man-of-war, blowing out all tapers but those burning in the
legalized battle-lanterns. Yea, in these things, so potent is the
authority of these sea-wardens, that, though almost the lowest
subalterns in the ship, yet should they find the Senior Lieutenant
himself sitting up late in his state-room, reading Bowditch's Navigator,
or D'Anton "_On Gunpowder and Fire-arms_," they would infallibly blow
the light out under his very nose; nor durst that Grand-Vizier resent
the indignity.

But, unwittingly, I have ennobled, by grand historical comparisons,
this prying, pettifogging, Irish-informer of a master-at-arms.

You have seen some slim, slip-shod housekeeper, at midnight
ferreting over a rambling old house in the country, startling at
fancied witches and ghosts, yet intent on seeing every door
bolted, every smouldering ember in the fireplaces smothered,
every loitering domestic abed, and every light made dark. This is
the master-at-arms taking his night-rounds in a frigate.

    *     *     *     *     *

It may be thought that but little is seen of the Commodore in
these chapters, and that, since he so seldom appears on the
stage, he cannot be so august a personage, after all. But the
mightiest potentates keep the most behind the veil. You might
tarry in Constantinople a month, and never catch a glimpse of the
Sultan. The grand Lama of Thibet, according to some accounts, is
never beheld by the people. But if any one doubts the majesty of
a Commodore, let him know that, according to XLII. of the Articles
of War, he is invested with a prerogative which, according to
monarchical jurists, is inseparable from the throne--the plenary
pardoning power. He may pardon all offences committed in the
squadron under his command.

But this prerogative is only his while at sea, or on a foreign
station. A circumstance peculiarly significant of the great
difference between the stately absolutism of a Commodore
enthroned on his poop in a foreign harbour, and an unlaced
Commodore negligently reclining in an easy-chair in the bosom of
his family at home.



The training-days, or general quarters, now and then taking place in
our frigate, have already been described, also the Sunday devotions
on the half-deck; but nothing has yet been said concerning the daily
morning and evening quarters, when the men silently stand at their guns,
and the chaplain simply offers up a prayer.

Let us now enlarge upon this matter. We have plenty of time; the
occasion invites; for behold! the homeward-bound Neversink bowls
along over a jubilant sea.

Shortly after breakfast the drum beats to quarters; and among
five hundred men, scattered over all three decks, and engaged in
all manner of ways, that sudden rolling march is magical as the
monitory sound to which every good Mussulman at sunset drops to
the ground whatsoever his hands might have found to do, and,
throughout all Turkey, the people in concert kneel toward their
holy Mecca.

The sailors run to and fro-some up the deck-ladders, some down--
to gain their respective stations in the shortest possible time.
In three minutes all is composed. One by one, the various
officers stationed over the separate divisions of the ship then
approach the First Lieutenant on the quarter-deck, and report
their respective men at their quarters. It is curious to watch
their countenances at this time. A profound silence prevails;
and, emerging through the hatchway, from one of the lower decks,
a slender young officer appears, hugging his sword to his thigh,
and advances through the long lanes of sailors at their guns, his
serious eye all the time fixed upon the First Lieutenant's--his
polar star. Sometimes he essays a stately and graduated step, an
erect and martial bearing, and seems full of the vast national
importance of what he is about to communicate.

But when at last he gains his destination, you are amazed to
perceive that all he has to say is imparted by a Freemason touch
of his cap, and a bow. He then turns and makes off to his
division, perhaps passing several brother Lieutenants, all bound
on the same errand he himself has just achieved. For about five
minutes these officers are coming and going, bringing in
thrilling intelligence from all quarters of the frigate; most
stoically received, however, by the First Lieutenant. With his legs
apart, so as to give a broad foundation for the superstructure of his
dignity, this gentleman stands stiff as a pike-staff on the quarter-
deck. One hand holds his sabre--an appurtenance altogether unnecessary
at the time; and which he accordingly tucks, point backward, under his
arm, like an umbrella on a sun-shiny day. The other hand is continually
bobbing up and down to the leather front of his cap, in response to the
reports and salute of his subordinates, to whom he never deigns to
vouchsafe a syllable, merely going through the motions of accepting
their news, without bestowing thanks for their pains.

This continual touching of caps between officers on board a man-
of-war is the reason why you invariably notice that the glazed
fronts of their caps look jaded, lack-lustre, and worn; sometimes
slightly oleaginous--though, in other respects, the cap may
appear glossy and fresh. But as for the First Lieutenant, he
ought to have extra pay allowed to him, on account of his
extraordinary outlays in cap fronts; for he it is to whom, all
day long, reports of various kinds are incessantly being made by
the junior Lieutenants; and no report is made by them, however
trivial, but caps are touched on the occasion. It is obvious that
these individual salutes must be greatly multiplied and
aggregated upon the senior Lieutenant, who must return them all.
Indeed, when a subordinate officer is first promoted to that
rank, he generally complains of the same exhaustion about the
shoulder and elbow that La Fayette mourned over, when, in
visiting America, he did little else but shake the sturdy hands
of patriotic farmers from sunrise to sunset.

The various officers of divisions having presented their
respects, and made good their return to their stations, the First
Lieutenant turns round, and, marching aft, endeavours to catch
the eye of the Captain, in order to touch his own cap to that
personage, and thereby, without adding a word of explanation,
communicate the fact of all hands being at their gun's. He is a
sort of retort, or receiver-general, to concentrate the whole sum
of the information imparted to him, and discharge it upon his
superior at one touch of his cap front.

But sometimes the Captain feels out of sorts, or in ill-humour,
or is pleased to be somewhat capricious, or has a fancy to show a
touch of his omnipotent supremacy; or, peradventure, it has so
happened that the First Lieutenant has, in some way, piqued or
offended him, and he is not unwilling to show a slight specimen
of his dominion over him, even before the eyes of all hands; at
all events, only by some one of these suppositions can the
singular circumstance be accounted for, that frequently Captain
Claret would pertinaciously promenade up and down the poop,
purposely averting his eye from the First Lieutenant, who would
stand below in the most awkward suspense, waiting the first wink
from his superior's eye.

"Now I have him!" he must have said to himself, as the Captain
would turn toward him in his walk; "now's my time!" and up would
go his hand to his cap; but, alas! the Captain was off again; and
the men at the guns would cast sly winks at each other as the
embarrassed Lieutenant would bite his lips with suppressed vexation.

Upon some occasions this scene would be repeated several times,
till at last Captain Claret, thinking, that in the eyes of all
hands, his dignity must by this time be pretty well bolstered,
would stalk towards his subordinate, looking him full in the
eyes; whereupon up goes his hand to the cap front, and the Captain,
nodding his acceptance of the report, descends from his perch to
the quarter-deck.

By this time the stately Commodore slowly emerges from his cabin,
and soon stands leaning alone against the brass rails of the
after-hatchway. In passing him, the Captain makes a profound
salutation, which his superior returns, in token that the Captain
is at perfect liberty to proceed with the ceremonies of the hour.

Marching on, Captain Claret at last halts near the main-mast, at
the head of a group of the ward-room officers, and by the side of
the Chaplain. At a sign from his finger, the brass band strikes
up the Portuguese hymn. This over, from Commodore to hammock-boy,
all hands uncover, and the Chaplain reads a prayer. Upon its
conclusion, the drum beats the retreat, and the ship's company
disappear from the guns. At sea or in harbour, this ceremony is
repeated every morning and evening.

By those stationed on the quarter-deck the Chaplain is distinctly
heard; but the quarter-deck gun division embraces but a tenth
part of the ship's company, many of whom are below, on the main-
deck, where not one syllable of the prayer can be heard. This
seemed a great misfortune; for I well knew myself how blessed and
soothing it was to mingle twice every day in these peaceful
devotions, and, with the Commodore, and Captain, and smallest
boy, unite in acknowledging Almighty God. There was also a touch
of the temporary equality of the Church about it, exceedingly
grateful to a man-of-war's-man like me.

My carronade-gun happened to be directly opposite the brass
railing against which the Commodore invariably leaned at prayers.
Brought so close together, twice every day, for more than a year,
we could not but become intimately acquainted with each other's
faces. To this fortunate circumstance it is to be ascribed, that
some time after reaching home, we were able to recognise each
other when we chanced to meet in Washington, at a ball given by
the Russian Minister, the Baron de Bodisco. And though, while on
board the frigate, the Commodore never in any manner personally
addressed me--nor did I him--yet, at the Minister's social
entertainment, we _there_ became exceedingly chatty; nor did I
fail to observe, among that crowd of foreign dignitaries and
magnates from all parts of America, that my worthy friend did not
appear so exalted as when leaning, in solitary state, against the
brass railing of the Neversink's quarter-deck. Like many other
gentlemen, he appeared to the best advantage, and was treated
with the most deference in the bosom of his home, the frigate.

Our morning and evening quarters were agreeably diversified for
some weeks by a little circumstance, which to some of us at
least, always seemed very pleasing.

At Callao, half of the Commodore's cabin had been hospitably
yielded to the family of a certain aristocratic-looking magnate,
who was going ambassador from Peru to the Court of the Brazils,
at Rio. This dignified diplomatist sported a long, twirling
mustache, that almost enveloped his mouth. The sailors said he
looked like a rat with his teeth through a bunch of oakum, or a
St. Jago monkey peeping through a prickly-pear bush.

He was accompanied by a very beautiful wife, and a still more
beautiful little daughter, about six years old. Between this
dark-eyed little gipsy and our chaplain there soon sprung up a
cordial love and good feeling, so much so, that they were seldom
apart. And whenever the drum beat to quarters, and the sailors
were hurrying to their stations, this little signorita would
outrun them all to gain her own quarters at the capstan, where
she would stand by the chaplain's side, grasping his hand, and
looking up archly in his face.

It was a sweet relief from the domineering sternness of our
martial discipline--a sternness not relaxed even at our devotions
before the altar of the common God of commodore and cabin-boy--to
see that lovely little girl standing among the thirty-two
pounders, and now and then casting a wondering, commiserating
glance at the array of grim seamen around her.



Besides general quarters, and the regular morning and evening
quarters for prayers on board the Neversink, on the first Sunday
of every month we had a grand "_muster round the capstan_," when
we passed in solemn review before the Captain and officers, who
closely scanned our frocks and trowsers, to see whether they were
according to the Navy cut. In some ships, every man is required
to bring his bag and hammock along for inspection.

This ceremony acquires its chief solemnity, and, to a novice, is
rendered even terrible, by the reading of the Articles of War by
the Captain's clerk before the assembled ship's company, who in
testimony of their enforced reverence for the code, stand
bareheaded till the last sentence is pronounced.

To a mere amateur reader the quiet perusal of these Articles of
War would be attended with some nervous emotions. Imagine, then,
what _my_ feelings must have been, when, with my hat deferentially
in my hand, I stood before my lord and master, Captain Claret, and
heard these Articles read as the law and gospel, the infallible,
unappealable dispensation and code, whereby I lived, and moved,
and had my being on board of the United States ship Neversink.

Of some twenty offences--made penal--that a seaman may commit, and
which are specified in this code, thirteen are punishable by death.

"_Shall suffer death!_" This was the burden of nearly every
Article read by the Captain's clerk; for he seemed to have been
instructed to omit the longer Articles, and only present those
which were brief and to the point.

"_Shall suffer death!_" The repeated announcement falls on your
ear like the intermitting discharge of artillery. After it has
been repeated again and again, you listen to the reader as he
deliberately begins a new paragraph; you hear him reciting the
involved, but comprehensive and clear arrangement of the
sentence, detailing all possible particulars of the offence
described, and you breathlessly await, whether _that_ clause also
is going to be concluded by the discharge of the terrible minute-
gun. When, lo! it again booms on your ear--_shall suffer death!_
No reservations, no contingencies; not the remotest promise of
pardon or reprieve; not a glimpse of commutation of the sentence;
all hope and consolation is shut out--_shall suffer death!_ that
is the simple fact for you to digest; and it is a tougher morsel,
believe White-Jacket when he says it, than a forty-two-pound

But there is a glimmering of an alternative to the sailor who
infringes these Articles. Some of them thus terminates: "_Shall
suffer death, or such punishment as a court-martial shall
adjudge_." But hints this at a penalty still more serious?
Perhaps it means "_death, or worse punishment_."

Your honours of the Spanish Inquisition, Loyola and Torquemada!
produce, reverend gentlemen, your most secret code, and match
these Articles of War, if you can. Jack Ketch, _you_ also are
experienced in these things! Thou most benevolent of mortals, who
standest by us, and hangest round our necks, when all the rest of
this world are against us--tell us, hangman, what punishment is
this, horribly hinted at as being worse than death? Is it, upon
an empty stomach, to read the Articles of War every morning, for
the term of one's natural life? Or is it to be imprisoned in a
cell, with its walls papered from floor to ceiling with printed
copies, in italics, of these Articles of War?

But it needs not to dilate upon the pure, bubbling milk of human
kindness, and Christian charity, and forgiveness of injuries
which pervade this charming document, so thoroughly imbued, as a
Christian code, with the benignant spirit of the Sermon on the
Mount. But as it is very nearly alike in the foremost states of
Christendom, and as it is nationally set forth by those states,
it indirectly becomes an index to the true condition of the
present civilization of the world.

As, month after month, I would stand bareheaded among my
shipmates, and hear this document read, I have thought to myself,
Well, well, White-Jacket, you are in a sad box, indeed. But prick
your ears, there goes another minute-gun. It admonishes you to
take all bad usage in good part, and never to join in any public
meeting that may be held on the gun-deck for a redress of
grievances. Listen:

Art. XIII. "If any person in the navy shall make, or attempt to
make, any mutinous assembly, he shall, on conviction thereof by a
court martial, suffer death."

Bless me, White-Jacket, are you a great gun yourself, that you so
recoil, to the extremity of your breechings, at that discharge?

But give ear again. Here goes another minute-gun. It indirectly
admonishes you to receive the grossest insult, and stand still
under it:

Art. XIV. "No private in the navy shall disobey the lawful orders
of his superior officer, or strike him, or draw, or offer to
draw, or raise any weapon against him, while in the execution of
the duties of his office, on pain of death."

Do not hang back there by the bulwarks, White-Jacket; come up to
the mark once more; for here goes still another minute-gun, which
admonishes you never to be caught napping:

Part of Art. XX. "If any person in the navy shall sleep upon his
watch, he shall suffer death."

Murderous! But then, in time of peace, they do not enforce these
blood-thirsty laws? Do they not, indeed? What happened to those
three sailors on board an American armed vessel a few years ago,
quite within your memory, White-Jacket; yea, while you yourself
were yet serving on board this very frigate, the Neversink? What
happened to those three Americans, White-Jacket--those three
sailors, even as you, who once were alive, but now are dead?
"_Shall suffer death!_" those were the three words that hung
those three sailors.

Have a care, then, have a care, lest you come to a sad end, even
the end of a rope; lest, with a black-and-blue throat, you turn a
dumb diver after pearl-shells; put to bed for ever, and tucked
in, in your own hammock, at the bottom of the sea. And there you
will lie, White-Jacket, while hostile navies are playing cannon-
ball billiards over your grave.

By the main-mast! then, in a time of profound peace, I am subject
to the cut-throat martial law. And when my own brother, who
happens to be dwelling ashore, and does not serve his country as
I am now doing--when _he_ is at liberty to call personally upon
the President of the United States, and express his disapprobation
of the whole national administration, here am I, liable at any time
to be run up at the yard-arm, with a necklace, made by no jeweler,
round my neck!

A hard case, truly, White-Jacket; but it cannot be helped. Yes;
you live under this same martial law. Does not everything around
you din the fact in your ears? Twice every day do you not jump to
your quarters at the sound of a drum? Every morning, in port, are
you not roused from your hammock by the _reveille_, and sent to
it again at nightfall by the _tattoo?_ Every Sunday are you not
commanded in the mere matter of the very dress you shall wear
through that blessed day? Can your shipmates so much as drink
their "tot of grog?" nay, can they even drink but a cup of water
at the scuttle-butt, without an armed sentry standing over them?
Does not every officer wear a sword instead of a cane? You live
and move among twenty-four-pounders. White-Jacket; the very
cannon-balls are deemed an ornament around you, serving to
embellish the hatchways; and should you come to die at sea,
White-Jacket, still two cannon-balls would bear you company when
you would be committed to the deep. Yea, by all methods, and
devices, and inventions, you are momentarily admonished of the
fact that you live under the Articles of War. And by virtue of
them it is, White-Jacket, that, without a hearing and without a
trial, you may, at a wink from the Captain, be condemned to the

Speak you true? Then let me fly!

Nay, White-Jacket, the landless horizon hoops you in.

Some tempest, then, surge all the sea against us! hidden reefs
and rocks, arise and dash the ships to chips! I was not born a
serf, and will not live a slave! Quick! cork-screw whirlpools,
suck us down! world's end whelm us!

Nay, White-Jacket, though this frigate laid her broken bones upon
the Antarctic shores of Palmer's Land; though not two planks
adhered; though all her guns were spiked by sword-fish blades,
and at her yawning hatchways mouth-yawning sharks swam in and
out; yet, should you escape the wreck and scramble to the beach,
this Martial Law would meet you still, and snatch you by the
throat. Hark!

Art. XLII. Part of Sec. 3.-"In all cases where the crews of the
ships or vessels of the United States shall be separated from
their vessels by the latter being wrecked, lost, or destroyed,
all the command, power, and authority given to the officers of
such ships or vessels shall remain, and be in full force, as
effectually as if such ship or vessel were not so wrecked, lost
or destroyed."

Hear you that, White-Jacket! I tell you there is no escape.
Afloat or wrecked the Martial Law relaxes not its gripe. And
though, by that self-same warrant, for some offence therein set
down, you were indeed to "suffer death," even then the Martial
Law might hunt you straight through the other world, and out
again at its other end, following you through all eternity, like
an endless thread on the inevitable track of its own point,
passing unnumbered needles through.



As the Articles of War form the ark and constitution of the penal
laws of the American Navy, in all sobriety and earnestness it may
be well to glance at their origin. Whence came they? And how is
it that one arm of the national defences of a Republic comes to
be ruled by a Turkish code, whose every section almost, like each
of the tubes of a revolving pistol, fires nothing short of death
into the heart of an offender? How comes it that, by virtue of a
law solemnly ratified by a Congress of freemen, the representatives
of freemen, thousands of Americans are subjected to the most despotic
usages, and, from the dockyards of a republic, absolute monarchies
are launched, with the "glorious stars and stripes" for an ensign?
By what unparalleled anomaly, by what monstrous grafting of tyranny
upon freedom did these Articles of War ever come to be so much as
heard of in the American Navy?

Whence came they? They cannot be the indigenous growth of those
political institutions, which are based upon that arch-democrat
Thomas Jefferson's Declaration of Independence? No; they are an
importation from abroad, even from Britain, whose laws we
Americans hurled off as tyrannical, and yet retained the most
tyrannical of all.

But we stop not here; for these Articles of War had their
congenial origin in a period of the history of Britain when the
Puritan Republic had yielded to a monarchy restored; when a
hangman Judge Jeffreys sentenced a world's champion like Algernon
Sidney to the block; when one of a race by some deemed accursed
of God--even a Stuart, was on the throne; and a Stuart, also, was
at the head of the Navy, as Lord High Admiral. One, the son of a
King beheaded for encroachments upon the rights of his people,
and the other, his own brother, afterward a king, James II., who
was hurled from the throne for his tyranny. This is the origin of
the Articles of War; and it carries with it an unmistakable clew
to their despotism.[4]

[FOOTNOTE-4] The first Naval Articles of War in the English language were
passed in the thirteenth year of the reign of Charles the Second,
under the title of "_An act for establishing Articles and Orders
for the regulating and better Government of his Majesty's Navies,
Ships-of-War, and Forces by Sea_." This act was repealed, and, so
far as concerned the officers, a modification of it substituted,
in the twenty-second year of the reign of George the Second,
shortly after the Peace of Aix la Chapelle, just one century ago.
This last act, it is believed, comprises, in substance, the
Articles of War at this day in force in the British Navy. It is
not a little curious, nor without meaning, that neither of these
acts explicitly empowers an officer to inflict the lash. It would
almost seem as if, in this case, the British lawgivers were
willing to leave such a stigma out of an organic statute, and
bestow the power of the lash in some less solemn, and perhaps
less public manner. Indeed, the only broad enactments directly
sanctioning naval scourging at sea are to be found in the United
States Statute Book and in the "Sea Laws" of the absolute
monarch, Louis le Grand, of France.[4.1]

Taking for their basis the above-mentioned British Naval Code,
and ingrafting upon it the positive scourging laws, which Britain
was loth to recognise as organic statutes, our American
lawgivers, in the year 1800, framed the Articles of War now
governing the American Navy. They may be found in the second
volume of the "United States Statutes at Large," under chapter
xxxiii.--"An act for the _better_ government of the Navy of the
United States."

[4.1] For reference to the latter (L'Ord. de la Marine), _vide_
Curtis's "Treatise on the Rights and Duties of Merchant-Seamen,
according to the General Maritime Law," Part ii., c. i.

Nor is it a dumb thing that the men who, in democratic Cromwell's
time, first proved to the nations the toughness of the British
oak and the hardihood of the British sailor--that in Cromwell's
time, whose fleets struck terror into the cruisers of France,
Spain, Portugal, and Holland, and the corsairs of Algiers and the
Levant; in Cromwell's time, when Robert Blake swept the Narrow
Seas of all the keels of a Dutch Admiral who insultingly carried
a broom at his fore-mast; it is not a dumb thing that, at a
period deemed so glorious to the British Navy, these Articles of
War were unknown.

Nevertheless, it is granted that some laws or other must have
governed Blake's sailors at that period; but they must have been
far less severe than those laid down in the written code which
superseded them, since, according to the father-in-law of James
II., the Historian of the Rebellion, the English Navy, prior to
the enforcement of the new code, was full of officers and sailors
who, of all men, were the most republican. Moreover, the same
author informs us that the first work undertaken by his respected
son-in-law, then Duke of York, upon entering on the duties of
Lord High Admiral, was to have a grand re-christening of the men-
of-war, which still carried on their sterns names too democratic
to suit his high-tory ears.

But if these Articles of War were unknown in Blake's time, and
also during the most brilliant period of Admiral Benbow's career,
what inference must follow? That such tyrannical ordinances are
not indispensable--even during war--to the highest possible
efficiency of a military marine.


     --_The Consulate of the Sea_.

The present usages of the American Navy are such that, though there
is no government enactment to that effect, yet, in many respect, its
Commanders seem virtually invested with the power to observe or
violate, as seems to them fit, several of the Articles of War.

According to Article XV., "_No person in the Navy shall quarrel
with any other person in the Navy, nor use provoking or
reproachful words, gestures, or menaces, on pain of such
punishment as a court-martial shall adjudge_."

"_Provoking or reproachful words!_" Officers of the Navy, answer
me! Have you not, many of you, a thousand times violated this
law, and addressed to men, whose tongues were tied by this very
Article, language which no landsman would ever hearken to without
flying at the throat of his insulter? I know that worse words
than _you_ ever used are to be heard addressed by a merchant-
captain to his crew; but the merchant-captain does not live under
this XVth Article of War.

Not to make an example of him, nor to gratify any personal
feeling, but to furnish one certain illustration of what is here
asserted, I honestly declare that Captain Claret, of the
Neversink, repeatedly violated this law in his own proper person.

According to Article III., no officer, or other person in the
Navy, shall be guilty of "oppression, fraud, profane swearing,
drunkenness, or any other scandalous conduct."

Again let me ask you, officers of the Navy, whether many of you
have not repeatedly, and in more than one particular, violated
this law? And here, again, as a certain illustration, I must once
more cite Captain Claret as an offender, especially in the matter
of profane swearing. I must also cite four of the lieutenants,
some eight of the midshipmen, and nearly all the seamen.

Additional Articles might be quoted that are habitually violated
by the officers, while nearly all those _exclusively_ referring
to the sailors are unscrupulously enforced. Yet those Articles,
by which the sailor is scourged at the gangway, are not one whit
more laws than those _other_ Articles, binding upon the officers,
that have become obsolete from immemorial disuse; while still
other Articles, to which the sailors alone are obnoxious, are
observed or violated at the caprice of the Captain. Now, if it be
not so much the severity as the certainty of punishment that
deters from transgression, how fatal to all proper reverence for
the enactments of Congress must be this disregard of its statutes.

Still more. This violation of the law, on the part of the
officers, in many cases involves oppression to the sailor. But
throughout the whole naval code, which so hems in the mariner by
law upon law, and which invests the Captain with so much judicial
and administrative authority over him--in most cases entirely
discretionary--not one solitary clause is to be found which in
any way provides means for a seaman deeming himself aggrieved to
obtain redress. Indeed, both the written and unwritten laws of
the American Navy are as destitute of individual guarantees to
the mass of seamen as the Statute Book of the despotic Empire
of Russia.

Who put this great gulf between the American Captain and the
American sailor? Or is the Captain a creature of like passions
with ourselves? Or is he an infallible archangel, incapable of
the shadow of error? Or has a sailor no mark of humanity, no
attribute of manhood, that, bound hand and foot, he is cast into
an American frigate shorn of all rights and defences, while the
notorious lawlessness of the Commander has passed into a proverb,
familiar to man-of-war's-men, _the law was not made for the
Captain!_ Indeed, he may almost be said to put off the citizen
when he touches his quarter-deck; and, almost exempt from the law
of the land himself, he comes down upon others with a judicial
severity unknown on the national soil. With the Articles of War
in one hand, and the cat-o'-nine-tails in the other, he stands an
undignified parody upon Mohammed enforcing Moslemism with the
sword and the Koran.

The concluding sections of the Articles of War treat of the naval
courts-martial before which officers are tried for serious
offences as well as the seamen. The oath administered to members
of these courts--which sometimes sit upon matters of life and
death--explicitly enjoins that the members shall not "at any time
divulge the vote or opinion of any particular member of the
court, unless required so to do before a court of justice in due
course of law."

Here, then, is a Council of Ten and a Star Chamber indeed!
Remember, also, that though the sailor is sometimes tried for his
life before a tribunal like this, in no case do his fellow-
sailors, his peers, form part of the court. Yet that a man should
be tried by his peers is the fundamental principle of all
civilised jurisprudence. And not only tried by his peers, but his
peers must be unanimous to render a verdict; whereas, in a court-
martial, the concurrence of a majority of conventional and social
superiors is all that is requisite.

In the English Navy, it is said, they had a law which authorised
the sailor to appeal, if he chose, from the decision of the
Captain--even in a comparatively trivial case--to the higher
tribunal of a court-martial. It was an English seaman who related
this to me. When I said that such a law must be a fatal clog to
the exercise of the penal power in the Captain, he, in substance,
told me the following story.

A top-man guilty of drunkenness being sent to the gratings, and
the scourge about to be inflicted, he turned round and demanded a
court-martial. The Captain smiled, and ordered him to be taken
down and put into the "brig," There he was kept in irons some
weeks, when, despairing of being liberated, he offered to
compromise at two dozen lashes. "Sick of your bargain, then, are
you?" said the Captain. "No, no! a court-martial you demanded,
and a court-martial you shall have!" Being at last tried before
the bar of quarter-deck officers, he was condemned to two hundred
lashes. What for? for his having been drunk? No! for his having
had the insolence to appeal from an authority, in maintaining
which the men who tried and condemned him had so strong a
sympathetic interest.

Whether this story be wholly true or not, or whether the particular
law involved prevails, or ever did prevail, in the English Navy,
the thing, nevertheless, illustrates the ideas that man-of-war's-men
themselves have touching the tribunals in question.

What can be expected from a court whose deeds are done in the
darkness of the recluse courts of the Spanish Inquisition? when
that darkness is solemnised by an oath on the Bible? when an
oligarchy of epaulets sits upon the bench, and a plebeian top-
man, without a jury, stands judicially naked at the bar?

In view of these things, and especially in view of the fact that,
in several cases, the degree of punishment inflicted upon a man-
of-war's-man is absolutely left to the discretion of the court,
what shame should American legislators take to themselves, that
with perfect truth we may apply to the entire body of the
American man-of-war's-men that infallible principle of Sir Edward
Coke: "It is one of the genuine marks of servitude to have the
law either concealed or precarious." But still better may we
subscribe to the saying of Sir Matthew Hale in his History of the
Common Law, that "the Martial Law, being based upon no settled
principles, is, in truth and reality, no law, but something
indulged rather than allowed as a law."

I know it may be said that the whole nature of this naval code is
purposely adapted to the war exigencies of the Navy. But waiving
the grave question that might be raised concerning the moral, not
judicial, lawfulness of this arbitrary code, even in time of war;
be it asked, why it is in force during a time of peace? The
United States has now existed as a nation upward of seventy
years, and in all that time the alleged necessity for the
operation of the naval code--in cases deemed capital--has only
existed during a period of two or three years at most.

Some may urge that the severest operations of the code are
tacitly made null in time of peace. But though with respect to
several of the Articles this holds true, yet at any time any and
all of them may be legally enforced. Nor have there been wanting
recent instances, illustrating the spirit of this code, even in
cases where the letter of the code was not altogether observed.
The well-known case of a United States brig furnishes a memorable
example, which at any moment may be repeated. Three men, in a
time of peace, were then hung at the yard-arm, merely because, in
the Captain's judgment, it became necessary to hang them. To this
day the question of their complete guilt is socially discussed.

How shall we characterise such a deed? Says Black-stone, "If any
one that hath commission of martial authority doth, in time of
peace, hang, or otherwise execute any man by colour of martial
law, this is murder; for it is against Magna Charta."*
[* Commentaries, b. i., c. xiii.]

Magna Charta! We moderns, who may be landsmen, may justly boast
of civil immunities not possessed by our forefathers; but our
remoter forefathers who happened to be mariners may straighten
themselves even in their ashes to think that their lawgivers were
wiser and more humane in their generation than our lawgivers in
ours. Compare the sea-laws of our Navy with the Roman and Rhodian
ocean ordinances; compare them with the "Consulate of the Sea;"
compare them with the Laws of the Hanse Towns; compare them with
the ancient Wisbury laws. In the last we find that they were
ocean democrats in those days. "If he strikes, he ought to
receive blow for blow." Thus speak out the Wisbury laws
concerning a Gothland sea-captain.

In final reference to all that has been said in previous chapters
touching the severity and unusualness of the laws of the American
Navy, and the large authority vested in its commanding officers,
be it here observed, that White-Jacket is not unaware of the
fact, that the responsibility of an officer commanding at sea--
whether in the merchant service or the national marine--is
unparalleled by that of any other relation in which man may stand
to man. Nor is he unmindful that both wisdom and humanity dictate
that, from the peculiarity of his position, a sea-officer in
command should be clothed with a degree of authority and
discretion inadmissible in any master ashore. But, at the same
time, these principles--recognised by all writers on maritime
law--have undoubtedly furnished warrant for clothing modern sea-
commanders and naval courts-martial with powers which exceed the
due limits of reason and necessity. Nor is this the only instance
where right and salutary principles, in themselves almost self-
evident and infallible, have been advanced in justification of
things, which in themselves are just as self-evidently wrong and

Be it here, once and for all, understood, that no sentimental and
theoretic love for the common sailor; no romantic belief in that
peculiar noble-heartedness and exaggerated generosity of
disposition fictitiously imputed to him in novels; and no
prevailing desire to gain the reputation of being his friend,
have actuated me in anything I have said, in any part of this
work, touching the gross oppression under which I know that the
sailors suffers. Indifferent as to who may be the parties
concerned, I but desire to see wrong things righted, and equal
justice administered to all.

Nor, as has been elsewhere hinted, is the general ignorance or
depravity of any race of men to be alleged as an apology for
tyranny over them. On the contrary, it cannot admit of a
reasonable doubt, in any unbiased mind conversant with the
interior life of a man-of-war, that most of the sailor iniquities
practised therein are indirectly to be ascribed to the morally
debasing effects of the unjust, despotic, and degrading laws
under which the man-of-war's-man lives.



Mention has been made that the game of draughts, or checkers, was
permitted to be played on board the Neversink. At the present
time, while there was little or no shipwork to be done, and all
hands, in high spirits, were sailing homeward over the warm
smooth sea of the tropics; so numerous became the players,
scattered about the decks, that our First Lieutenant used
ironically to say that it was a pity they were not tesselated
with squares of white and black marble, for the express benefit
and convenience of the players. Had this gentleman had his way,
our checker-boards would very soon have been pitched out of the
ports. But the Captain--usually lenient in some things--permitted
them, and so Mr. Bridewell was fain to hold his peace.

But, although this one game was allowable in the frigate, all
kinds of gambling were strictly interdicted, under the penalty of
the gangway; nor were cards or dice tolerated in any way whatever.
This regulation was indispensable, for, of all human beings,
man-of-war's-men are perhaps the most inclined to gambling. The
reason must be obvious to any one who reflects upon their condition
on shipboard. And gambling--the most mischievous of vices anywhere--in
a man-of-war operates still more perniciously than on shore. But quite
as often as the law against smuggling spirits is transgressed by the
unscrupulous sailors, the statutes against cards and dice are evaded.

Sable night, which, since the beginning of the world, has winked and
looked on at so many deeds of iniquity--night is the time usually
selected for their operations by man-of-war gamblers. The place
pitched upon is generally the berth-deck, where the hammocks are
swung, and which is lighted so stintedly as not to disturb the
sleeping seamen with any obtruding glare. In so spacious an area the
two lanterns swinging from the stanchions diffuse a subdued
illumination, like a night-taper in the apartment of some invalid.
Owing to their position, also, these lanterns are far from shedding
an impartial light, however dim, but fling long angular rays here and
there, like burglar's dark-lanterns in the fifty-acre vaults of the
West India Docks on the Thames.

It may well be imagined, therefore, how well adapted is this
mysterious and subterranean Hall of Eblis to the clandestine
proceedings of gamblers, especially as the hammocks not only hang
thickly, but many of them swing very low, within two feet of the
floor, thus forming innumerable little canvas glens, grottoes,
nooks, corners, and crannies, where a good deal of wickedness may
be practiced by the wary with considerable impunity.

Now the master-at-arms, assisted by his mates, the ship's
corporals, reigns supreme in these bowels of the ship. Throughout
the night these policemen relieve each other at standing guard
over the premises; and, except when the watches are called, they
sit in the midst of a profound silence, only invaded by trumpeters'
snores, or the ramblings of some old sheet-anchor-man in his sleep.

The two ship's corporals went among the sailors by the names of
Leggs and Pounce; Pounce had been a policeman, it was said, in
Liverpool; Leggs, a turnkey attached to "The Tombs" in New York.
Hence their education eminently fitted them for their stations;
and Bland, the master-at-arms, ravished with their dexterity in
prying out offenders, used to call them his two right hands.

When man-of-war's-men desire to gamble, they appoint the hour,
and select some certain corner, in some certain shadow, behind
some certain hammock. They then contribute a small sum toward a
joint fund, to be invested in a bribe for some argus-eyed
shipmate, who shall play the part of a spy upon the master-at-
arms and corporals while the gaming is in progress. In nine cases
out of ten these arrangements are so cunning and comprehensive,
that the gamblers, eluding all vigilance, conclude their game
unmolested. But now and then, seduced into unwariness, or
perhaps, from parsimony, being unwilling to employ the services
of a spy, they are suddenly lighted upon by the constables,
remorselessly collared, and dragged into the brig there to await
a dozen lashes in the morning.

Several times at midnight I have been startled out of a sound
sleep by a sudden, violent rush under my hammock, caused by the
abrupt breaking up of some nest of gamblers, who have scattered
in all directions, brushing under the tiers of swinging pallets,
and setting them all in a rocking commotion.

It is, however, while laying in port that gambling most thrives
in a man-of-war. Then the men frequently practice their dark
deeds in the light of the day, and the additional guards which,
at such times, they deem indispensable, are not unworthy of note.
More especially, their extra precautions in engaging the services of
several spies, necessitate a considerable expenditure, so that, in
port, the diversion of gambling rises to the dignity of a nabob luxury.

During the day the master-at-arms and his corporals are continually
prowling about on all three decks, eager to spy out iniquities. At one
time, for example, you see Leggs switching his magisterial rattan, and
lurking round the fore-mast on the spar-deck; the next moment, perhaps,
he is three decks down, out of sight, prowling among the cable-tiers.
Just so with his master, and Pounce his coadjutor; they are here,
there, and everywhere, seemingly gifted with ubiquity.

In order successfully to carry on their proceedings by day, the
gamblers must see to it that each of these constables is relentlessly
dogged wherever he goes; so that, in case of his approach toward the
spot where themselves are engaged, they may be warned of the fact in
time to make good their escape. Accordingly, light and active scouts
are selected to follow the constable about. From their youthful
alertness and activity, the boys of the mizzen-top are generally
chosen for this purpose.

But this is not all. Onboard of most men-of-war there is a set of
sly, knavish foxes among the crew, destitute of every principle
of honour, and on a par with Irish informers. In man-of-war
parlance, they come under the denomination of _fancy-men_ and
_white-mice_, They are called _fancy-men_ because, from their
zeal in craftily reporting offenders, they are presumed to be
regarded with high favour by some of the officers. Though it is
seldom that these informers can be certainly individualised, so
secret and subtle are they in laying their information, yet
certain of the crew, and especially certain of the marines, are
invariably suspected to be  _fancy-men_ and _white-mice_, and are
accordingly more or less hated by their comrades.

Now, in addition to having an eye on the master-at-arms and his
aids, the day-gamblers must see to it, that every person
suspected of being a _white-mouse_ or _fancy-man_, is like-wise
dogged wherever he goes. Additional scouts are retained
constantly to snuff at their trail. But the mysteries of man-of-
war vice are wonderful; and it is now to be recorded, that, from
long habit and observation, and familiarity with the _guardo
moves_ and _manoeuvres_ of a frigate, the master-at-arms and his
aids can almost invariably tell when any gambling is going on by
day; though, in the crowded vessel, abounding in decks, tops,
dark places, and outlandish corners of all sorts, they may not be
able to pounce upon the identical spot where the gamblers are hidden.

During the period that Bland was suspended from his office as
master-at-arms, a person who, among the sailors, went by the name
of Sneak, having been long suspected to have been a _white-mouse_,
was put in Bland's place. He proved a hangdog, sidelong
catch-thief, but gifted with a marvellous perseverance in
ferreting out culprits; following in their track like an
inevitable Cuba blood-hound, with his noiseless nose. When
disconcerted, however, you sometimes heard his bay.

"The muffled dice are somewhere around," Sneak would say to his
aids; "there are them three chaps, there, been dogging me about
for the last half-hour. I say, Pounce, has any one been scouting
around _you_ this morning?"

"Four on 'em," says Pounce. "I know'd it; I know'd the muffled
dice was rattlin'!"

"Leggs!" says the master-at-arms to his other aid, "Leggs, how is
it with _you_--any spies?"

"Ten on' em," says Leggs. "There's one on 'em now--that fellow
stitching a hat."

"Halloo, you, sir!" cried the master-at-arms, "top your boom and
sail large, now. If I see you about me again, I'll have you up to
the mast."

"What am I a-doin' now?" says the hat-stitcher, with a face as
long as a rope-walk. "Can't a feller be workin' here, without
being 'spected of Tom Coxe's traverse, up one ladder and down

"Oh, I know the moves, sir; I have been on board a _guardo_. Top
your boom, I say, and be off, or I'll have you hauled up and
riveted in a clinch--both fore-tacks over the main-yard, and no
bloody knife to cut the seizing. Sheer! or I'll pitch into you
like a shin of beef into a beggar's wallet."

It is often observable, that, in vessels of all kinds, the men
who talk the most sailor lingo are the least sailor-like in
reality. You may sometimes hear even marines jerk out more salt
phrases than the Captain of the Forecastle himself. On the other
hand, when not actively engaged in his vocation, you would take
the best specimen of a seaman for a landsman. When you see a
fellow yawning about the docks like a homeward-bound Indiaman, a
long Commodore's pennant of black ribbon flying from his mast-
head, and fetching up at a grog-shop with a slew of his hull, as
if an Admiral were coming alongside a three-decker in his barge;
you may put that man down for what man-of-war's-men call a _damn-
my-eyes-tar_, that is, a humbug. And many damn-my-eyes hum-bugs
there are in this man-of-war world of ours.



The whole of our run from Rio to the Line was one delightful yachting,
so far as fine weather and the ship's sailing were concerned. It was
especially pleasant when our quarter-watch lounged in the main-top,
diverting ourselves in many agreeable ways. Removed from the immediate
presence of the officers, we there harmlessly enjoyed ourselves, more
than in any other part of the ship. By day, many of us were very
industrious, making hats or mending our clothes. But by night we
became more romantically inclined.

Often Jack Chase, an enthusiastic admirer of sea-scenery, would
direct our attention to the moonlight on the waves, by fine
snatches from his catalogue of poets. I shall never forget the
lyric air with which, one morning, at dawn of day, when all the
East was flushed with red and gold, he stood leaning against the
top-mast shrouds, and stretching his bold hand over the sea,
exclaimed, "Here comes Aurora: top-mates, see!" And, in a liquid,
long-lingering tone, he recited the lines,

     "With gentle hand, as seeming oft to pause,
      The purple curtains of the morn she draws."

"Commodore Camoens, White-Jacket.--But bear a hand there; we must
rig out that stun'-sail boom--the wind is shifting."

From our lofty perch, of a moonlight night, the frigate itself
was a glorious sight. She was going large before the wind, her
stun'-sails set on both sides, so that the canvas on the main-
mast and fore-mast presented the appearance of majestic, tapering
pyramids, more than a hundred feet broad at the base, and
terminating in the clouds with the light copestone of the royals.
That immense area of snow-white canvas sliding along the sea was
indeed a magnificent spectacle. The three shrouded masts looked
like the apparitions of three gigantic Turkish Emirs striding
over the ocean.

Nor, at times, was the sound of music wanting, to augment the
poetry of the scene. The whole band would be assembled on the
poop, regaling the officers, and incidentally ourselves, with
their fine old airs. To these, some of us would occasionally
dance in the _top_, which was almost as large as an ordinary
sized parlour. When the instrumental melody of the band was not
to be had, our nightingales mustered their voices, and gave us a

Upon these occasions Jack Chase was often called out, and regaled
us, in his own free and noble style, with the "_Spanish Ladies_"--
a favourite thing with British man-of-war's-men--and many other
salt-sea ballads and ditties, including,

     "Sir Patrick Spens was the best sailor
      That ever sailed the sea."


     "And three times around spun our gallant ship;
        Three times around spun she;
      Three times around spun our gallant ship,
        And she went to the bottom of the sea--
         The sea, the sea, the sea,
      And she went to the bottom of the sea!"

These songs would be varied by sundry _yarns_ and _twisters_ of
the top-men. And it was at these times that I always endeavoured
to draw out the oldest Tritons into narratives of the war-service
they had seen. There were but few of them, it is true, who had been
in action; but that only made their narratives the more valuable.

There was an old negro, who went by the name of Tawney, a sheet-
anchor-man, whom we often invited into our top of tranquil
nights, to hear him discourse. He was a staid and sober seaman,
very intelligent, with a fine, frank bearing, one of the best men
in the ship, and held in high estimation by every one.

It seems that, during the last war between England and America,
he had, with several others, been "impressed" upon the high seas,
out of a New England merchantman. The ship that impressed him was
an English frigate, the Macedonian, afterward taken by the
Neversink, the ship in which we were sailing.

It was the holy Sabbath, according to Tawney, and, as the Briton
bore down on the American--her men at their quarters--Tawney and
his countrymen, who happened to be stationed at the quarter-deck
battery, respectfully accosted the captain--an old man by the
name of Cardan--as he passed them, in his rapid promenade, his
spy-glass under his arm. Again they assured him that they were
not Englishmen, and that it was a most bitter thing to lift their
hands against the flag of that country which harboured the
mothers that bore them. They conjured him to release them from
their guns, and allow them to remain neutral during the conflict.
But when a ship of any nation is running into action, it is no
time for argument, small time for justice, and not much time for
humanity. Snatching a pistol from the belt of a boarder standing
by, the Captain levelled it at the heads of the three sailors,
and commanded them instantly to their quarters, under penalty of
being shot on the spot. So, side by side with his country's foes,
Tawney and his companions toiled at the guns, and fought out the
fight to the last; with the exception of one of them, who was
killed at his post by one of his own country's balls.

At length, having lost her fore and main-top-masts, and her
mizzen-mast having been shot away to the deck, and her fore-yard
lying in two pieces on her shattered forecastle, and in a hundred
places having been _hulled_ with round shot, the English frigate
was reduced to the last extremity. Captain Cardan ordered his
signal quarter-master to strike the flag.

Tawney was one of those who, at last, helped pull him on board
the Neversink. As he touched the deck, Cardan saluted Decatur,
the hostile commander, and offered his sword; but it was
courteously declined. Perhaps the victor remembered the dinner
parties that he and the Englishman had enjoyed together in
Norfolk, just previous to the breaking out of hostilities--and
while both were in command of the very frigates now crippled on
the sea. The Macedonian, it seems, had gone into Norfolk with
dispatches. _Then_ they had laughed and joked over their wine,
and a wager of a beaver hat was said to have been made between
them upon the event of the hostile meeting of their ships.

Gazing upon the heavy batteries before him, Cardan said to
Decatur, "This is a seventy-four, not a frigate; no wonder the
day is yours!"

This remark was founded upon the Neversink's superiority in guns.
The Neversink's main-deck-batteries then consisted, as now, of
twenty-four-pounders; the Macedonian's of only eighteens. In all, the
Neversink numbered fifty-four guns and four hundred and fifty men; the
Macedonian, forty-nine guns and three hundred men; a very great
disparity, which, united to the other circumstances of this action,
deprives the victory of all claims to glory beyond those that might
be set up by a river-horse getting the better of a seal.

But if Tawney spoke truth--and he was a truth-telling man this
fact seemed counterbalanced by a circumstance he related. When
the guns of the Englishman were examined, after the engagement,
in more than one instance the wad was found rammed against the
cartridge, without intercepting the ball. And though, in a
frantic sea-fight, such a thing might be imputed to hurry and
remissness, yet Tawney, a stickler for his tribe, always ascribed
it to quite a different and less honourable cause. But, even
granting the cause he assigned to have been the true one, it does
not involve anything inimical to the general valour displayed by
the British crew. Yet, from all that may be learned from candid
persons who have been in sea-fights, there can be but little
doubt that on board of all ships, of whatever nation, in time of
action, no very small number of the men are exceedingly nervous,
to say the least, at the guns; ramming and sponging at a venture.
And what special patriotic interest could an impressed man, for
instance, take in a fight, into which he had been dragged from
the arms of his wife? Or is it to be wondered at that impressed
English seamen have not scrupled, in time of war, to cripple the
arm that has enslaved them?

During the same general war which prevailed at and previous to
the period of the frigate-action here spoken of, a British flag-
officer, in writing to the Admiralty, said, "Everything appears
to be quiet in the fleet; but, in preparing for battle last week,
several of the guns in the after part of the ship were found to
be spiked;" that is to say, rendered useless. Who had spiked
them? The dissatisfied seamen. Is it altogether improbable, then,
that the guns to which Tawney referred were manned by men who
purposely refrained from making them tell on the foe; that, in
this one action, the victory America gained was partly won for
her by the sulky insubordination of the enemy himself?

During this same period of general war, it was frequently the
case that the guns of English armed ships were found in the
mornings with their breechings cut over night. This maiming of
the guns, and for the time incapacitating them, was only to be
imputed to that secret spirit of hatred to the service which
induced the spiking above referred to. But even in cases where no
deep-seated dissatisfaction was presumed to prevail among the
crew, and where a seaman, in time of action, impelled by pure
fear, "shirked from his gun;" it seems but flying in the face of
Him who made such a seaman what he constitutionally was, to sew
_coward_ upon his back, and degrade and agonise the already
trembling wretch in numberless other ways. Nor seems it a
practice warranted by the Sermon on the Mount, for the officer of
a battery, in time of battle, to stand over the men with his
drawn sword (as was done in the Macedonian), and run through on
the spot the first seaman who showed a semblance of fear. Tawney
told me that he distinctly heard this order given by the English
Captain to his officers of divisions. Were the secret history of
all sea-fights written, the laurels of sea-heroes would turn to
ashes on their brows.

And how nationally disgraceful, in every conceivable point of view,
is the IV. of our American Articles of War: "If any person in the Navy
shall pusillanimously cry for quarter, he shall suffer death." Thus,
with death before his face from the foe, and death behind his back from
his countrymen, the best valour of a man-of-war's-man can never assume
the merit of a noble spontaneousness. In this, as in every other case,
the Articles of War hold out no reward for good conduct, but only
compel the sailor to fight, like a hired murderer, for his pay, by
digging his grave before his eyes if he hesitates.

But this Article IV. is open to still graver objections. Courage
is the most common and vulgar of the virtues; the only one shared
with us by the beasts of the field; the one most apt, by excess,
to run into viciousness. And since Nature generally takes away with
one hand to counter-balance her gifts with the other, excessive
animal courage, in many cases, only finds room in a character vacated
of loftier things. But in a naval officer, animal courage is exalted
to the loftiest merit, and often procures him a distinguished command.

Hence, if some brainless bravo be Captain of a frigate in action,
he may fight her against invincible odds, and seek to crown
himself with the glory of the shambles, by permitting his
hopeless crew to be butchered before his eyes, while at the same
time that crew must consent to be slaughtered by the foe, under
penalty of being murdered by the law. Look at the engagement
between the American frigate Essex with the two English cruisers,
the Phoebe and Cherub, off the Bay of Valparaiso, during the late
war. It is admitted on all hands that the American Captain
continued to fight his crippled ship against a greatly superior
force; and when, at last, it became physically impossible that he
could ever be otherwise than vanquished in the end; and when,
from peculiarly unfortunate circumstances, his men merely stood
up to their nearly useless batteries to be dismembered and blown
to pieces by the incessant fire of the enemy's long guns. Nor, by
thus continuing to fight, did this American frigate, one iota,
promote the true interests of her country. I seek not to
underrate any reputation which the American Captain may have
gained by this battle. He was a brave man; _that_ no sailor will
deny. But the whole world is made up of brave men. Yet I would
not be at all understood as impugning his special good name.
Nevertheless, it is not to be doubted, that if there were any
common-sense sailors at the guns of the Essex, however valiant
they may have been, those common-sense sailors must have greatly
preferred to strike their flag, when they saw the day was fairly
lost, than postpone that inevitable act till there were few
American arms left to assist in hauling it down. Yet had these
men, under these circumstances, "pusillanimously cried for quarter,"
by the IV. Article of War they might have been legally hung.

According to the negro, Tawney, when the Captain of the
Macedonian--seeing that the Neversink had his vessel completely
in her power--gave the word to strike the flag, one of his
officers, a man hated by the seamen for his tyranny, howled out
the most terrific remonstrances, swearing that, for his part, he
would not give up, but was for sinking the Macedonian alongside
the enemy. Had he been Captain, doubtless he would have done so;
thereby gaining the name of a hero in this world;--but what would
they have called him in the next?

But as the whole matter of war is a thing that smites common-sense
and Christianity in the face; so everything connected with it is
utterly foolish, unchristian, barbarous, brutal, and savouring of
the Feejee Islands, cannibalism, saltpetre, and the devil.

It is generally the case in a man-of-war when she strikes her
flag that all discipline is at an end, and the men for a time are
ungovernable. This was so on board of the English frigate. The
spirit-room was broken open, and buckets of grog were passed
along the decks, where many of the wounded were lying between the
guns. These mariners seized the buckets, and, spite of all
remonstrances, gulped down the burning spirits, till, as Tawney
said, the blood suddenly spirted out of their wounds, and they
fell dead to the deck.

The negro had many more stories to tell of this fight; and
frequently he would escort me along our main-deck batteries--
still mounting the same guns used in the battle--pointing out
their ineffaceable indentations and scars. Coated over with the
accumulated paint of more than thirty years, they were almost
invisible to a casual eye; but Tawney knew them all by heart; for
he had returned home in the Neversink, and had beheld these scars
shortly after the engagement.

One afternoon, I was walking with him along the gun-deck, when he
paused abreast of the main-mast. "This part of the ship," said
he, "we called the _slaughter-house_ on board the Macedonian.
Here the men fell, five and six at a time. An enemy always
directs its shot here, in order to hurl over the mast, if
possible. The beams and carlines overhead in the Macedonian
_slaughter-house_ were spattered with blood and brains. About the
hatchways it looked like a butcher's stall; bits of human flesh
sticking in the ring-bolts. A pig that ran about the decks
escaped unharmed, but his hide was so clotted with blood, from
rooting among the pools of gore, that when the ship struck the
sailors hove the animal overboard, swearing that it would be rank
cannibalism to eat him."

Another quadruped, a goat, lost its fore legs in this fight.

The sailors who were killed--according to the usual custom--were
ordered to be thrown overboard as soon as they fell; no doubt, as
the negro said, that the sight of so many corpses lying around
might not appall the survivors at the guns. Among other
instances, he related the following. A shot entering one of the
port-holes, dashed dead two thirds of a gun's crew. The captain
of the next gun, dropping his lock-string, which he had just
pulled, turned over the heap of bodies to see who they were;
when, perceiving an old messmate, who had sailed with him in many
cruises, he burst into tears, and, taking the corpse up in his
arms, and going with it to the side, held it over the water a
moment, and eying it, cried, "Oh God! Tom!"--"D----n your
prayers over that thing! overboard with it, and down to your
gun!" roared a wounded Lieutenant. The order was obeyed, and the
heart-stricken sailor returned to his post.

Tawney's recitals were enough to snap this man-of-war world's
sword in its scabbard. And thinking of all the cruel carnal glory
wrought out by naval heroes in scenes like these, I asked myself
whether, indeed, that was a glorious coffin in which Lord Nelson
was entombed--a coffin presented to him, during life, by Captain
Hallowell; it had been dug out of the main-most of the French
line-of-battle ship L'Orient, which, burning up with British
fire, destroyed hundreds of Frenchmen at the battle of the Nile.

Peace to Lord Nelson where he sleeps in his mouldering mast! but
rather would I be urned in the trunk of some green tree, and even
in death have the vital sap circulating round me, giving of my
dead body to the living foliage that shaded my peaceful tomb.


  _Printed Admiralty orders in time of war_.

Among innumerable "_yarns and twisters_" reeled off in our main-
top during our pleasant run to the North, none could match those
of Jack Chase, our captain.

Never was there better company than ever-glorious Jack. The
things which most men only read of, or dream about, he had seen
and experienced. He had been a dashing smuggler in his day, and
could tell of a long nine-pounder rammed home with wads of French
silks; of cartridges stuffed with the finest gunpowder tea; of
cannister-shot full of West India sweetmeats; of sailor frocks
and trowsers, quilted inside with costly laces; and table legs,
hollow as musket barrels, compactly stowed with rare drugs and
spices. He could tell of a wicked widow, too--a beautiful
receiver of smuggled goods upon the English coast--who smiled so
sweetly upon the smugglers when they sold her silks and laces,
cheap as tape and ginghams. She called them gallant fellows,
hearts of game; and bade them bring her more.

He could tell of desperate fights with his British majesty's
cutters, in midnight coves upon a stormy coast; of the capture of
a reckless band, and their being drafted on board a man-of-war;
of their swearing that their chief was slain; of a writ of habeas
corpus sent on board for one of them for a debt--a reserved and
handsome man--and his going ashore, strongly suspected of being the
slaughtered captain, and this a successful scheme for his escape.

But more than all, Jack could tell of the battle of Navarino, for
he had been a captain of one of the main-deck guns on board
Admiral Codrington's flag-ship, the Asia. Were mine the style of
stout old Chapman's Homer, even then I would scarce venture to
give noble Jack's own version of this fight, wherein, on the 20th
of October, A. D. 1827, thirty-two sail of Englishmen, Frenchmen,
and Russians, attacked and vanquished in the Levant an Ottoman
fleet of three ships-of-the line, twenty-five frigates, and a
swarm of fire ships and hornet craft.

"We bayed to be at them," said Jack; "and when we _did_ open
fire, we were like dolphin among the flying-fish. 'Every man take
his bird' was the cry, when we trained our guns. And those guns
all smoked like rows of Dutch pipe-bowls, my hearties! My gun's
crew carried small flags in their bosoms, to nail to the mast in
case the ship's colours were shot away. Stripped to the
waistbands, we fought like skinned tigers, and bowled down the
Turkish frigates like nine-pins. Among their shrouds--swarming
thick with small-arm men, like flights of pigeons lighted on
pine-trees--our marines sent their leaden pease and goose-
berries, like a shower of hail-stones in Labrador. It was a
stormy time, my hearties! The blasted Turks pitched into the old
Asia's hull a whole quarry of marble shot, each ball one hundred
and fifty pounds. They knocked three port-holes into one. But we
gave them better than they sent. 'Up and at them, my bull-dog!'
said I, patting my gun on the breech; 'tear open hatchways in
their Moslem sides! White-Jacket, my lad, you ought to have been
there. The bay was covered with masts and yards, as I have seen a
raft of snags in the Arkansas River. Showers of burned rice and
olives from the exploding foe fell upon us like manna in the
wilderness. '_Allah! Allah! Mohammed! Mohammed!_' split the air;
some cried it out from the Turkish port-holes; others shrieked it
forth from the drowning waters, their top-knots floating on their
shaven skulls, like black snakes on half-tide rocks. By those
top-knots they believed that their Prophet would drag them up to
Paradise, but they sank fifty fathoms, my hearties, to the bottom
of the bay. 'Ain't the bloody 'Hometons going to strike yet?'
cried my first loader, a Guernsey man, thrusting his neck out of
the port-hole, and looking at the Turkish line-of-battle-ship
near by. That instant his head blew by me like a bursting Paixhan
shot, and the flag of Neb Knowles himself was hauled down for
ever. We dragged his hull to one side, and avenged him with the
cooper's anvil, which, endways, we rammed home; a mess-mate
shoved in the dead man's bloody Scotch cap for the wad, and sent
it flying into the line-of-battle ship. By the god of war! boys,
we hardly left enough of that craft to boil a pot of water with.
It was a hard day's work--a sad day's work, my hearties. That
night, when all was over, I slept sound enough, with a box of
cannister shot for my pillow! But you ought to have seen the
boat-load of Turkish flags one of our captains carried home; he
swore to dress his father's orchard in colours with them, just as
our spars are dressed for a gala day."

"Though you tormented the Turks at Navarino, noble Jack, yet you
came off yourself with only the loss of a splinter, it seems,"
said a top-man, glancing at our cap-tain's maimed hand.

"Yes; but I and one of the Lieutenants had a narrower escape than
that. A shot struck the side of my port-hole, and sent the
splinters right and left. One took off my hat rim clean to my
brow; another _razed_ the Lieutenant's left boot, by slicing off
the heel; a third shot killed my powder-monkey without touching

"How, Jack?"

"It _whizzed_ the poor babe dead. He was seated on a _cheese of
wads_ at the time, and after the dust of the pow-dered bulwarks
had blown away, I noticed he yet sat still, his eyes wide open.
'_My little hero!_' cried I, and I clapped him on the back; but
he fell on his face at my feet. I touched his heart, and found he
was dead. There was not a little finger mark on him."

Silence now fell upon the listeners for a time, broken at last by
the Second Captain of the Top.

"Noble Jack, I know you never brag, but tell us what you did
yourself that day?"

"Why, my hearties, I did not do quite as much as my gun. But I
flatter myself it was that gun that brought clown the Turkish
Admiral's main-mast; and the stump left wasn't long enough to
make a wooden leg for Lord Nelson."

"How? but I thought, by the way you pull a lock-string on board
here, and look along the sight, that you can steer a shot about
right--hey, Jack?"

"It was the Admiral of the fleet--God Almighty--who directed the
shot that dismasted the Turkish Admiral," said Jack; "I only
pointed the gun."

"But how did you feel, Jack, when the musket-ball carried away
one of your hooks there?"

"Feel! only a finger the lighter. I have seven more left, besides
thumbs; and they did good service, too, in the torn rigging the
day after the fight; for you must know, my hearties, that the
hardest work comes after the guns are run in. Three days I helped
work, with one hand, in the rigging, in the same trowsers that I
wore in the action; the blood had dried and stiffened; they
looked like glazed red morocco."

Now, this Jack Chase had a heart in him like a mastodon's. I have
seen him weep when a man has been flogged at the gangway; yet, in
relating the story of the Battle of Navarino, he plainly showed
that he held the God of the blessed Bible to have been the
British Commodore in the Levant, on the bloody 20th of October,
A. D. 1827. And thus it would seem that war almost makes
blasphemers of the best of men, and brings them all down to the
Feejee standard of humanity. Some man-of-war's-men have confessed
to me, that as a battle has raged more and more, their hearts
have hardened in infernal harmony; and, like their own guns, they
have fought without a thought.

Soldier or sailor, the fighting man is but a fiend; and the staff
and body-guard of the Devil musters many a baton. But war at
times is inevitable. Must the national honour be trampled under
foot by an insolent foe?

Say on, say on; but know you this, and lay it to heart, war-
voting Bench of Bishops, that He on whom we believe _himself_ has
enjoined us to turn the left cheek if the right be smitten. Never
mind what follows. That passage you can not expunge from the
Bible; that passage is as binding upon us as any other; that
passage embodies the soul and substance of the Christian faith;
without it, Christianity were like any other faith. And that
passage will yet, by the blessing of God, turn the world. But in
some things we must turn Quakers first.

But though unlike most scenes of carnage, which have proved
useless murders of men, Admiral Codrington's victory undoubtedly
achieved the emancipation of Greece, and terminated the Turkish
atrocities in that tomahawked state, yet who shall lift his hand
and swear that a Divine Providence led the van of the combined
fleets of England, France, and Russia at the battle of Navarino?
For if this be so, then it led the van against the Church's own
elect--the persecuted Waldenses in Switzerland--and kindled the
Smithfield fires in bloody Mary's time.

But all events are mixed in a fusion indistinguishable. What we
call Fate is even, heartless, and impartial; not a fiend to
kindle bigot flames, nor a philanthropist to espouse the cause of
Greece. We may fret, fume, and fight; but the thing called Fate
everlastingly sustains an armed neutrality.

Yet though all this be so, nevertheless, in our own hearts, we
mould the whole world's hereafters; and in our own hearts we
fashion our own gods. Each mortal casts his vote for whom he will
to rule the worlds; I have a voice that helps to shape eternity;
and my volitions stir the orbits of the furthest suns. In two
senses, we are precisely what we worship. Ourselves are Fate.



When wearied with the tumult and occasional contention of the
gun-deck of our frigate, I have often retreated to a port-hole,
and calmed myself down by gazing broad off upon a placid sea.
After the battle-din of the last two chapters, let us now do the
like, and, in the sequestered fore-chains of the Neversink,
tranquillise ourselves, if we may.

Notwithstanding the domestic communism to which the seamen in a
man-of-war are condemned, and the publicity in which actions the
most diffident and retiring in their nature must be performed,
there is yet an odd corner or two where you may sometimes steal
away, and, for a few moments, almost be private.

Chief among these places is the _chains_, to which I would
sometimes hie during our pleasant homeward-bound glide over those
pensive tropical latitudes. After hearing my fill of the wild
yarns of our top, here would I recline--if not disturbed--
serenely concocting information into wisdom.

The chains designates the small platform outside of the hull, at
the base of the large shrouds leading down from the three mast-
heads to the bulwarks. At present they seem to be getting out of
vogue among merchant-vessels, along with the fine, old-fashioned
quarter-galleries, little turret-like ap-purtenances, which, in
the days of the old Admirals, set off the angles of an armed
ship's stern. Here a naval officer might lounge away an hour
after action, smoking a cigar, to drive out of his whiskers the
villainous smoke of the gun-powder. The picturesque, delightful
stern-gallery, also, a broad balcony overhanging the sea, and
entered from the Captain's cabin, much as you might enter a bower
from a lady's chamber; this charming balcony, where, sailing over
summer seas in the days of the old Peruvian viceroys, the Spanish
cavalier Mendanna, of Lima, made love to the Lady Isabella, as
they voyaged in quest of the Solomon Islands, the fabulous Ophir,
the Grand Cyclades; and the Lady Isabella, at sunset, blushed
like the Orient, and gazed down to the gold-fish and silver-hued
flying-fish, that wove the woof and warp of their wakes in
bright, scaly tartans and plaids underneath where the Lady
reclined; this charming balcony--exquisite retreat--has been cut
away by Vandalic innovations. Ay, that claw-footed old gallery is
no longer in fashion; in Commodore's eyes, is no longer genteel.

Out on all furniture fashions but those that are past! Give me my
grandfather's old arm-chair, planted upon four carved frogs, as
the Hindoos fabled the world to be supported upon four tortoises;
give me his cane, with the gold-loaded top--a cane that, like the
musket of General Washington's father and the broadsword of
William Wallace, would break down the back of the switch-carrying
dandies of these spindle-shank days; give me his broad-breasted
vest, coming bravely down over the hips, and furnished with two
strong-boxes of pockets to keep guineas in; toss this toppling
cylinder of a beaver overboard, and give me my grandfather's
gallant, gable-ended, cocked hat.

But though the quarter-galleries and the stern-gallery of a man-
of-war are departed, yet the _chains_ still linger; nor can there
be imagined a more agreeable retreat. The huge blocks and
lanyards forming the pedestals of the shrouds divide the chains
into numerous little chapels, alcoves, niches, and altars, where
you lazily lounge--outside of the ship, though on board. But
there are plenty to divide a good thing with you in this man-of-
war world. Often, when snugly seated in one of these little
alcoves, gazing off to the horizon, and thinking of Cathay, I
have been startled from my repose by some old quarter-gunner,
who, having newly painted a parcel of match-tubs, wanted to set
them to dry.

At other times, one of the tattooing artists would crawl over the
bulwarks, followed by his sitter; and then a bare arm or leg
would be extended, and the disagreeable business of "_pricking_"
commence, right under my eyes; or an irruption of tars, with
ditty-bags or sea-reticules, and piles of old trowsers to mend,
would break in upon my seclusion, and, forming a sewing-circle,
drive me off with their chatter.

But once--it was a Sunday afternoon--I was pleasantly reclining
in a particularly shady and secluded little niche between two
lanyards, when I heard a low, supplicating voice. Peeping through
the narrow space between the ropes, I perceived an aged seaman on
his knees, his face turned seaward, with closed eyes, buried in
prayer. Softly rising, I stole through a port-hole, and left the
venerable worshipper alone.

He was a sheet-anchor-man, an earnest Baptist, and was well
known, in his own part of the ship, to be constant in his
solitary devotions in the _chains_. He reminded me of St. Anthony
going out into the wilderness to pray.

This man was captain of the starboard bow-chaser, one of the two
long twenty-four-pounders on the forecastle. In time of action,
the command of that iron Thalaba the Destroyer would devolve
upon _him_. It would be his business to "train" it properly; to
see it well loaded; the grape and cannister rammed home; also, to
"prick the cartridge," "take the sight," and give the word for
the match-man to apply his wand; bidding a sudden hell to flash
forth from the muzzle, in wide combustion and death.

Now, this captain of the bow-chaser was an upright old man, a
sincere, humble believer, and he but earned his bread in being
captain of that gun; but how, with those hands of his begrimed
with powder, could he break that _other_ and most peaceful and
penitent bread of the Supper? though in that hallowed sacrament,
it seemed, he had often partaken ashore. The omission of this
rite in a man-of-war--though there is a chaplain to preside over
it, and at least a few communicants to partake--must be ascribed to
a sense of religious propriety, in the last degree to be commended.

Ah! the best righteousness of our man-of-war world seems but an
unrealised ideal, after all; and those maxims which, in the hope
of bringing about a Millennium, we busily teach to the heathen,
we Christians ourselves disregard. In view of the whole present
social frame-work of our world, so ill adapted to the practical
adoption of the meekness of Christianity, there seems almost some
ground for the thought, that although our blessed Saviour was
full of the wisdom of heaven, yet his gospel seems lacking in the
practical wisdom of earth--in a due appreciation of the
necessities of nations at times demanding bloody massacres and
wars; in a proper estimation of the value of rank, title, and
money. But all this only the more crowns the divine consistency
of Jesus; since Burnet and the best theologians demonstrate,
that his nature was not merely human--was not that of a mere man
of the world.



After running with a fine steady breeze up to the Line, it fell
calm, and there we lay, three days enchanted on the sea. We were
a most puissant man-of-war, no doubt, with our five hundred men,
Commodore and Captain, backed by our long batteries of thirty-two
and twenty-four pounders; yet, for all that, there we lay rocking,
helpless as an infant in the cradle. Had it only been a gale instead
of a calm, gladly would we have charged upon it with our gallant
bowsprit, as with a stout lance in rest; but, as with man-kind, this
serene, passive foe--unresisting and irresistible--lived it out,
unconquered to the last.

All these three days the heat was excessive; the sun drew the tar
from the seams of the ship; the awnings were spread fore and aft;
the decks were kept constantly sprinkled with water. It was
during this period that a sad event occurred, though not an
unusual one on shipboard. But in order to prepare for its
narration, some account of a part of the ship called the "_sick-
bay_" must needs be presented.

The "_sick-bay_" is that part of a man-of-war where the invalid
seamen are placed; in many respects it answers to a public
hospital ashore. As with most frigates, the sick-bay of the
Neversink was on the berth-deck--the third deck from above. It
was in the extreme forward part of that deck, embracing the
triangular area in the bows of the ship. It was, therefore, a
subterranean vault, into which scarce a ray of heaven's glad
light ever penetrated, even at noon.

In a sea-going frigate that has all her armament and stores on
board, the floor of the berth-deck is partly below the surface of
the water. But in a smooth harbour, some circulation of air is
maintained by opening large auger-holes in the upper portion of
the sides, called "air-ports," not much above the water level.
Before going to sea, however, these air-ports must be closed,
caulked, and the seams hermetically sealed with pitch. These
places for ventilation being shut, the sick-bay is entirely
barred against the free, natural admission of fresh air. In the
Neversink a few lungsful were forced down by artificial means.
But as the ordinary _wind-sail_ was the only method adopted, the
quantity of fresh air sent down was regulated by the force of the
wind. In a calm there was none to be had, while in a severe gale
the wind-sail had to be hauled up, on account of the violent
draught flowing full upon the cots of the sick. An open-work
partition divided our sick-bay from the rest of the deck, where
the hammocks of the watch were slung; it, therefore, was exposed
to all the uproar that ensued upon the watches being relieved.

An official, called the surgeon's steward, assisted by subordinates,
presided over the place. He was the same individual alluded to as
officiating at the amputation of the top-man. He was always to be
found at his post, by night and by day.

This surgeon's steward deserves a description. He was a small,
pale, hollow-eyed young man, with that peculiar Lazarus-like
expression so often noticed in hospital attendants. Seldom or
never did you see him on deck, and when he _did_ emerge into the
light of the sun, it was with an abashed look, and an uneasy,
winking eye. The sun was not made for _him_. His nervous
organization was confounded by the sight of the robust old sea-
dogs on the forecastle and the general tumult of the spar-deck,
and he mostly buried himself below in an atmosphere which long
habit had made congenial.

This young man never indulged in frivolous conversation; he only
talked of the surgeon's prescriptions; his every word was a
bolus. He never was known to smile; nor did he even look sober in
the ordinary way; but his countenance ever wore an aspect of
cadaverous resignation to his fate. Strange! that so many of
those who would fain minister to our own health should look so
much like invalids themselves.

Connected with the sick-bay, over which the surgeon's steward
presided--but removed from it in place, being next door to the
counting-room of the purser's steward--was a regular apothecary's
shop, of which he kept the key. It was fitted up precisely like
an apothecary's on shore, dis-playing tiers of shelves on all
four sides filled with green bottles and gallipots; beneath were
multitudinous drawers bearing incomprehensible gilded inscriptions
in abbreviated Latin.

He generally opened his shop for an hour or two every morning and
evening. There was a Venetian blind in the upper part of the
door, which he threw up when inside so as to admit a little air.
And there you would see him, with a green shade over his eyes,
seated on a stool, and pounding his pestle in a great iron mortar
that looked like a howitzer, mixing some jallapy compound. A
smoky lamp shed a flickering, yellow-fever tinge upon his pallid
face and the closely-packed regiments of gallipots.

Several times when I felt in need of a little medicine, but was
not ill enough to report myself to the surgeon at his levees, I
would call of a morning upon his steward at the Sign of the
Mortar, and beg him to give me what I wanted; when, without
speaking a word, this cadaverous young man would mix me my potion
in a tin cup, and hand it out through the little opening in his
door, like the boxed-up treasurer giving you your change at the
ticket-office of a theatre.

But there was a little shelf against the wall of the door, and
upon this I would set the tin cup for a while, and survey it;
for I never was a Julius Caesar at taking medicine; and to take
it in this way, without a single attempt at dis-guising it; with
no counteracting little morsel to hurry down after it; in short
to go to the very apothecary's in person, and there, at the
counter, swallow down your dose, as if it were a nice mint-julep
taken at the bar of a hotel--_this_ was a bitter bolus indeed.
But, then, this pallid young apothecary charged nothing for it,
and _that_ was no small satisfaction; for is it not remarkable, to
say the least, that a shore apothecary should actually charge you
money--round dollars and cents--for giving you a horrible nausea?

My tin cup would wait a long time on that little shelf; yet
"Pills," as the sailors called him, never heeded my lingering,
but in sober, silent sadness continued pounding his mortar or
folding up his powders; until at last some other customer would
appear, and then in a sudden frenzy of resolution, I would gulp
clown my sherry-cobbler, and carry its unspeakable flavour with
me far up into the frigate's main-top. I do not know whether it
was the wide roll of the ship, as felt in that giddy perch, that
occasioned it, but I always got sea-sick after taking medicine and
going aloft with it. Seldom or never did it do me any lasting good.

Now the Surgeon's steward was only a subordinate of Surgeon
Cuticle himself, who lived in the ward-room among the Lieutenants,
Sailing-master, Chaplain, and Purser.

The Surgeon is, by law, charged with the business of overlooking
the general sanitary affairs of the ship. If anything is going on
in any of its departments which he judges to be detrimental to
the healthfulness of the crew, he has a right to protest against
it formally to the Captain. When a man is being scourged at the
gangway, the Surgeon stands by; and if he thinks that the
punishment is becoming more than the culprit's constitution can
well bear, he has a right to interfere and demand its cessation
for the time.

But though the Navy regulations nominally vest him with this high
discretionary authority over the very Commodore himself, how
seldom does he exercise it in cases where humanity demands it?
Three years is a long time to spend in one ship, and to be at
swords' points with its Captain and Lieutenants during such a
period, must be very unsocial and every way irksome. No otherwise
than thus, at least, can the remissness of some surgeons in
remonstrating against cruelty be accounted for.

Not to speak again of the continual dampness of the decks
consequent upon flooding them with salt water, when we were
driving near to Cape Horn, it needs only to be mentioned that, on
board of the Neversink, men known to be in consumptions gasped
under the scourge of the boatswain's mate, when the Surgeon and
his two attendants stood by and never interposed. But where the
unscrupulousness of martial discipline is maintained, it is in
vain to attempt softening its rigour by the ordaining of
humanitarian laws. Sooner might you tame the grizzly bear of
Missouri than humanise a thing so essentially cruel and heartless.

But the Surgeon has yet other duties to perform. Not a seaman
enters the Navy without undergoing a corporal examination, to
test his soundness in wind and limb.

One of the first places into which I was introduced when I first
entered on board the Neversink was the sick-bay, where I found
one of the Assistant Surgeons seated at a green-baize table. It
was his turn for visiting the apartment. Having been commanded
by the deck officer to report my business to the functionary
before me, I accordingly hemmed, to attract his attention, and
then catching his eye, politely intimated that I called upon him
for the purpose of being accurately laid out and surveyed.

"Strip!" was the answer, and, rolling up his gold-laced cuff, he
proceeded to manipulate me. He punched me in the ribs, smote me
across the chest, commanded me to stand on one leg and hold out
the other horizontally. He asked me whether any of my family were
consumptive; whether I ever felt a tendency to a rush of blood to
the head; whether I was gouty; how often I had been bled during
my life; how long I had been ashore; how long I had been afloat;
with several other questions which have altogether slipped my
memory. He concluded his interrogatories with this extraordinary
and unwarranted one--"Are you pious?"

It was a leading question which somewhat staggered me, but I said
not a word; when, feeling of my calves, he looked up and
incomprehensibly said, "I am afraid you are not."

At length he declared me a sound animal, and wrote a certificate
to that effect, with which I returned to the deck.

This Assistant Surgeon turned out to be a very singular character,
and when I became more acquainted with him, I ceased to marvel at
the curious question with which he had concluded his examination
of my person.

He was a thin, knock-kneed man, with a sour, saturnine expression,
rendered the more peculiar from his shaving his beard so remorselessly,
that his chin and cheeks always looked blue, as if pinched with cold.
His long familiarity with nautical invalids seemed to have filled him
full of theological hypoes concerning the state of their souls. He was
at once the physician and priest of the sick, washing down his boluses
with ghostly consolation, and among the sailors went by the name of The
Pelican, a fowl whose hanging pouch imparts to it a most chop-fallen,
lugubrious expression.

The privilege of going off duty and lying by when you are sick,
is one of the few points in which a man-of-war is far better for
the sailor than a merchantman. But, as with every other matter in
the Navy, the whole thing is subject to the general discipline of
the vessel, and is conducted with a severe, unyielding method and
regularity, making no allowances for exceptions to rules.

During the half-hour preceding morning quarters, the Surgeon of a
frigate is to be found in the sick-bay, where, after going his
rounds among the invalids, he holds a levee for the benefit of
all new candidates for the sick-list. If, after looking at your
tongue, and feeling of your pulse, he pronounces you a proper
candidate, his secretary puts you down on his books, and you are
thenceforth relieved from all duty, and have abundant leisure in
which to recover your health. Let the boatswain blow; let the
deck officer bellow; let the captain of your gun hunt you up;
yet, if it can be answered by your mess-mates that you are "_down
on the list_," you ride it all out with impunity. The Commodore
himself has then no authority over you. But you must not be too
much elated, for your immunities are only secure while you are
immured in the dark hospital below. Should you venture to get a
mouthful of fresh air on the spar-deck, and be there discovered
by an officer, you will in vain plead your illness; for it is
quite impossible, it seems, that any true man-of-war invalid can
be hearty enough to crawl up the ladders. Besides, the raw sea
air, as they will tell you, is not good for the sick.

But, notwithstanding all this, notwithstanding the darkness and
closeness of the sick-bay, in which an alleged invalid must be
content to shut himself up till the Surgeon pronounces him cured,
many instances occur, especially in protracted bad weather, where
pretended invalids will sub-mit to this dismal hospital durance,
in order to escape hard work and wet jackets.

There is a story told somewhere of the Devil taking down the
confessions of a woman on a strip of parchment, and being obliged
to stretch it longer and longer with his teeth, in order to find
room for all the lady had to say. Much thus was it with our
Purser's steward, who had to lengthen out his manuscript sick-
list, in order to accommodate all the names which were presented
to him while we were off the pitch of Cape Horn. What sailors
call the "_Cape Horn fever_," alarmingly prevailed; though it
disappeared altogether when we got into the weather, which, as
with many other invalids, was solely to be imputed to the wonder-
working effects of an entire change of climate.

It seems very strange, but it is really true, that off Cape Horn
some "_sogers_" of sailors will stand cupping, and bleeding, and
blistering, before they will budge. On the other hand, there are
cases where a man actually sick and in need of medicine will
refuse to go on the sick-list, because in that case his allowance
of _grog_ must be stopped.

On board of every American man-of-war, bound for sea, there is a
goodly supply of wines and various delicacies put on board--
according to law--for the benefit of the sick, whether officers
or sailors. And one of the chicken-coops is always reserved for
the Government chickens, destined for a similar purpose. But, on
board of the Neversink, the only delicacies given to invalid
sailors was a little sago or arrow-root, and they did not get
_that_ unless severely ill; but, so far as I could learn, no
wine, in any quantity, was ever prescribed for them, though the
Government bottles often went into the ward-room, for the benefit
of indisposed officers.

And though the Government chicken-coop was replenished at every
port, yet not four pair of drum-sticks were ever boiled into
broth for sick sailors. Where the chickens went, some one must
have known; but, as I cannot vouch for it myself, I will not here
back the hardy assertion of the men, which was that the pious
Pelican--true to his name--was extremely fond of poultry. I am
the still less disposed to believe this scandal, from the
continued leanness of the Pelican, which could hardly have been
the case did he nourish himself by so nutritious a dish as the
drum-sticks of fowls, a diet prescribed to pugilists in training.
But who can avoid being suspicious of a very suspicious person?
Pelican! I rather suspect you still.



It was on the first day of the long, hot calm which we had on the
Equator, that a mess-mate of mine, by the name of Shenly, who had
been for some weeks complaining, at length went on the sick-list.

An old gunner's mate of the mess--Priming, the man with the hare-
lip, who, true to his tribe, was charged to the muzzle with bile,
and, moreover, rammed home on top of it a wad of sailor
superstition--this gunner's mate indulged in some gloomy and
savage remarks--strangely tinged with genuine feeling and grief--
at the announcement of the sick-ness of Shenly, coming as it did
not long after the almost fatal accident befalling poor Baldy,
captain of the mizzen-top, another mess-mate of ours, and the
dreadful fate of the amputated fore-top-man whom we buried in
Rio, also our mess-mate.

We were cross-legged seated at dinner, between the guns, when the
sad news concerning Shenly was first communicated.

"I know'd it, I know'd it," said Priming, through his nose.
"Blast ye, I told ye so; poor fellow! But dam'me, I know'd it.
This comes of having _thirteen_ in the mess. I hope he arn't
dangerous, men? Poor Shenly! But, blast it, it warn't till White-
Jacket there comed into the mess that these here things began. I
don't believe there'll be more nor three of us left by the time
we strike soundings, men. But how is he now? Have you been down
to see him, any on ye? Damn you, you Jonah! I don't see how you
can sleep in your hammock, knowing as you do that by making an
odd number in the mess you have been the death of one poor
fellow, and ruined Baldy for life, and here's poor Shenly keeled
up. Blast you, and your jacket, say I."

"My dear mess-mate," I cried, "don't blast me any more, for
Heaven's sale. Blast my jacket you may, and I'll join you in
_that;_ but don't blast _me;_ for if you do, I shouldn't wonder
if I myself was the next man to keel up."

"Gunner's mate!" said Jack Chase, helping himself to a slice of
beef, and sandwiching it between two large biscuits--"Gunner's
mate! White-Jacket there is my particular friend, and I would
take it as a particular favour if you would _knock off_ blasting
him. It's in bad taste, rude, and unworthy a gentleman."

"Take your back away from that 'ere gun-carriage, will ye now,
Jack Chase?" cried Priming, in reply, just then Jack happening to
lean up against it. "Must I be all the time cleaning after you
fellows? Blast ye! I spent an hour on that 'ere gun-carriage this
very mornin'. But it all comes of White-Jacket there. If it
warn't for having one too many, there wouldn't be any crowding
and jamming in the mess. I'm blessed if we ar'n't about chock a'
block here! Move further up there, I'm sitting on my leg!"

"For God's sake, gunner's mate," cried I, "if it will content
you, I and my jacket will leave the mess."

"I wish you would, and be ------ to you!" he replied.

"And if he does, you will mess alone, gunner's mate," said Jack

"That you will," cried all.

"And I wish to the Lord you'd let me!" growled Priming,
irritably rubbing his head with the handle of his sheath-knife.

"You are an old bear, gunner's mate," said Jack Chase.

"I am an old Turk," he replied, drawing the flat blade of his knife
between his teeth, thereby producing a whetting, grating sound.

"Let him alone, let him alone, men," said Jack Chase. "Only keep
off the tail of a rattlesnake, and he'll not rattle."

"Look out he don't bite, though," said Priming, snapping his
teeth; and with that he rolled off, growling as he went.

Though I did my best to carry off my vexation with an air of
indifference, need I say how I cursed my jacket, that it thus
seemed the means of fastening on me the murder of one of my
shipmates, and the probable murder of two more. For, had it not
been for my jacket, doubtless, I had yet been a member of my old
mess, and so have escaped making the luckless odd number among
my present companions.

All I could say in private to Priming had no effect; though I
often took him aside, to convince him of the philosophical
impossibility of my having been accessary to the misfortunes of
Baldy, the buried sailor in Rio, and Shenly. But Priming knew
better; nothing could move him; and he ever afterward eyed me as
virtuous citizens do some notorious underhand villain going
unhung of justice.

Jacket! jacket! thou hast much to answer for, jacket!



Shenly, my sick mess-mate, was a middle-aged, handsome, intelligent
seaman, whom some hard calamity, or perhaps some unfortunate excess,
must have driven into the Navy. He told me he had a wife and two
children in Portsmouth, in the state of New Hampshire. Upon being
examined by Cuticle, the surgeon, he was, on purely scientific grounds,
reprimanded by that functionary for not having previously appeared
before him. He was immediately consigned to one of the invalid cots as
a serious case. His complaint was of long standing; a pulmonary one,
now attended with general prostration.

The same evening he grew so much worse, that according to man-of-war
usage, we, his mess-mates, were officially notified that we must take
turns at sitting up with him through the night. We at once made our
arrangements, allotting two hours for a watch. Not till the third night
did my own turn come round. During the day preceding, it was stated at
the mess that our poor mess-mate was run down completely; the surgeon
had given him up.

At four bells (two o'clock in the morning), I went down to
relieve one of my mess-mates at the sick man's cot. The profound
quietude of the calm pervaded the entire frigate through all her
decks. The watch on duty were dozing on the carronade-slides, far
above the sick-bay; and the watch below were fast asleep in their
hammocks, on the same deck with the invalid.

Groping my way under these two hundred sleepers, I en-tered the
hospital. A dim lamp was burning on the table, which was screwed
down to the floor. This light shed dreary shadows over the white-
washed walls of the place, making it look look a whited sepulchre
underground. The wind-sail had collapsed, and lay motionless on
the deck. The low groans of the sick were the only sounds to be
heard; and as I advanced, some of them rolled upon me their
sleepless, silent, tormented eyes.

"Fan him, and keep his forehead wet with this sponge," whispered
my mess-mate, whom I came to relieve, as I drew near to Shenly's
cot, "and wash the foam from his mouth; nothing more can be done
for him. If he dies before your watch is out, call the Surgeon's
steward; he sleeps in that hammock," pointing it out. "Good-bye,
good-bye, mess-mate," he then whispered, stooping over the sick
man; and so saying, he left the place.

Shenly was lying on his back. His eyes were closed, forming two
dark-blue pits in his face; his breath was coming and going with
a slow, long-drawn, mechanical precision. It was the mere
foundering hull of a man that was before me; and though it
presented the well-known features of my mess-mate, yet I knew
that the living soul of Shenly never more would look out of those

So warm had it been during the day, that the Surgeon himself, when
visiting the sick-bay, had entered it in his shirt-sleeves; and so warm
was now the night that even in the lofty top I had worn but a loose
linen frock and trowsers. But in this subterranean sick-bay, buried in
the very bowels of the ship, and at sea cut off from all ventilation,
the heat of the night calm was intense. The sweat dripped from me as
if I had just emerged from a bath; and stripping myself naked to the
waist, I sat by the side of the cot, and with a bit of crumpled
paper--put into my hand by the sailor I had relieved--kept fanning the
motionless white face before me.

I could not help thinking, as I gazed, whether this man's fate
had not been accelerated by his confinement in this heated
furnace below; and whether many a sick man round me might not
soon improve, if but permitted to swing his hammock in the airy
vacancies of the half-deck above, open to the port-holes, but
reserved for the promenade of the officers.

At last the heavy breathing grew more and more irregular, and
gradually dying away, left forever the unstirring form of Shenly.

Calling the Surgeon's steward, he at once told me to rouse the
master-at-arms, and four or five of my mess-mates. The master-at-arms
approached, and immediately demanded the dead man's bag, which was
accordingly dragged into the bay. Having been laid on the floor, and
washed with a bucket of water which I drew from the ocean, the body was
then dressed in a white frock, trowsers, and neckerchief, taken out of
the bag. While this was going on, the master-at-arms--standing over the
operation with his rattan, and directing myself and mess-mates--indulged
in much discursive levity, intended to manifest his fearlessness of death.

Pierre, who had been a "_chummy_" of Shenly's, spent much time in
tying the neckerchief in an elaborate bow, and affectionately
adjusting the white frock and trowsers; but the master-at-arms
put an end to this by ordering us to carry the body up to the
gun-deck. It was placed on the death-board (used for that
purpose), and we proceeded with it toward the main hatchway,
awkwardly crawling under the tiers of hammocks, where the entire
watch-below was sleeping. As, unavoidably, we rocked their
pallets, the man-of-war's-men would cry out against us; through
the mutterings of curses, the corpse reached the hatchway. Here
the board slipped, and some time was spent in readjusting the
body. At length we deposited it on the gun-deck, between two
guns, and a union-jack being thrown over it for a pall, I was
left again to watch by its side.

I had not been seated on my shot-box three minutes, when the
messenger-boy passed me on his way forward; presently the slow,
regular stroke of the ship's great bell was heard, proclaiming
through the calm the expiration of the watch; it was four o'clock
in the morning.

Poor Shenly! thought I, that sounds like your knell! and here you
lie becalmed, in the last calm of all!

Hardly had the brazen din died away, when the Boatswain and his
mates mustered round the hatchway, within a yard or two of the
corpse, and the usual thundering call was given for the watch
below to turn out.

"All the starboard-watch, ahoy! On deck there, below! Wide awake
there, sleepers!"

But the dreamless sleeper by my side, who had so often sprung
from his hammock at that summons, moved not a limb; the blue
sheet over him lay unwrinkled.

A mess-mate of the other watch now came to relieve me; but I told
him I chose to remain where I was till daylight came.



Just before daybreak, two of the sail-maker's gang drew near,
each with a lantern, carrying some canvas, two large shot,
needles, and twine. I knew their errand; for in men-of-war the
sail-maker is the undertaker.

They laid the body on deck, and, after fitting the canvas to it,
seated themselves, cross-legged like tailors, one on each side,
and, with their lanterns before them, went to stitching away, as
if mending an old sail. Both were old men, with grizzled hair and
beard, and shrunken faces. They belonged to that small class of
aged seamen who, for their previous long and faithful services,
are retained in the Navy more as pensioners upon its merited
bounty than anything else. They are set to light and easy duties.

"Ar'n't this the fore-top-man, Shenly?" asked the foremost,
looking full at the frozen face before him.

"Ay, ay, old Ringrope," said the other, drawing his hand far back
with a long thread, "I thinks it's him; and he's further aloft
now, I hope, than ever he was at the fore-truck. But I only
hopes; I'm afeard this ar'n't the last on him!"

"His hull here will soon be going out of sight below hatches,
though, old Thrummings," replied Ringrope, placing two heavy
cannon-balls in the foot of the canvas shroud.

"I don't know that, old man; I never yet sewed up a ship-mate but
he spooked me arterward. I tell ye, Ring-rope, these 'ere corpses
is cunning. You think they sinks deep, but they comes up again as
soon as you sails over 'em. They lose the number of their mess,
and their mess-mates sticks the spoons in the rack; but no good--
no good, old Ringrope; they ar'n't dead yet. I tell ye, now, ten
best--bower-anchors wouldn't sink this 'ere top-man. He'll be
soon coming in the wake of the thirty-nine spooks what spooks me
every night in my hammock--jist afore the mid-watch is called.
Small thanks I gets for my pains; and every one on 'em looks so
'proachful-like, with a sail-maker's needle through his nose.
I've been thinkin', old Ringrope, it's all wrong that 'ere last
stitch we takes. Depend on't, they don't like it--none on 'em."

I was standing leaning over a gun, gazing at the two old men. The
last remark reminded me of a superstitious custom generally
practised by most sea-undertakers upon these occasions. I
resolved that, if I could help it, it should not take place upon
the remains of Shenly.

"Thrummings," said I, advancing to the last speaker, "you are
right. That last thing you do to the canvas is the very reason,
be sure of it, that brings the ghosts after you, as you say. So
don't do it to this poor fellow, I entreat. Try once, now, how it
goes not to do it."

"What do you say to the youngster, old man?" said Thrummings,
holding up his lantern into his comrade's wrinkled face, as if
deciphering some ancient parchment.

"I'm agin all innowations," said Ringrope; "it's a good old
fashion, that last stitch; it keeps 'em snug, d'ye see,
youngster. I'm blest if they could sleep sound, if it wa'n't for
that. No, no, Thrummings! no innowations; I won't hear on't. I
goes for the last stitch!"

"S'pose you was going to be sewed up yourself, old Ringrope,
would you like the last stitch then! You are an old, gun,
Ringrope; you can't stand looking out at your port-hole much
longer," said Thrummings, as his own palsied hands were quivering
over the canvas.

"Better say that to yourself, old man," replied Ringrope,
stooping close to the light to thread his coarse needle, which
trembled in his withered hands like the needle, in a compass of a
Greenland ship near the Pole. "You ain't long for the sarvice. I
wish I could give you some o' the blood in my veins, old man!"

"Ye ain't got ne'er a teaspoonful to spare," said Thrummings.
"It will go hard, and I wouldn't want to do it; but I'm afeard
I'll have the sewing on ye up afore long!"

"Sew me up? Me dead and you alive, old man?" shrieked Ringrope.
"Well, I've he'rd the parson of the old Independence say as how
old age was deceitful; but I never seed it so true afore this
blessed night. I'm sorry for ye, old man--to see you so innocent-
like, and Death all the while turning in and out with you in your
hammock, for all the world like a hammock-mate."

"You lie! old man," cried Thrummings, shaking with rage. "It's
_you_ that have Death for a hammock-mate; it's _you_ that will
make a hole in the shot-locker soon."

"Take that back!" cried Ringrope, huskily, leaning far over the
corpse, and, needle in hand, menacing his companion with his
aguish fist. "Take that back, or I'll throttle your lean bag of
wind fer ye!"

"Blast ye! old chaps, ain't ye any more manners than to be
fighting over a dead man?" cried one of the sail-maker's mates,
coming down from the spar-deck. "Bear a hand!--bear a hand! and
get through with that job!"

"Only one more stitch to take," muttered Ringrope, creeping near
the face.

"Drop your '_palm_,' then and let Thrummings take it; follow me--
the foot of the main-sail wants mending--must do it afore a
breeze springs up. D'ye hear, old chap! I say, drop your _palm_,
and follow me."

At the reiterated command of his superior, Ringrope rose, and,
turning to his comrade, said, "I take it all back, Thrummings,
and I'm sorry for it, too. But mind ye, take that 'ere last
stitch, now; if ye don't, there's no tellin' the consekenses."

As the mate and his man departed, I stole up to Thrummings. "Don't
do it--don't do it, now, Thrummings--depend on it, it's wrong!"

"Well, youngster, I'll try this here one without it for jist this
here once; and if, arter that, he don't spook me, I'll be dead
agin the last stitch as long as my name is Thrummings."

So, without mutilation, the remains were replaced between the
guns, the union jack again thrown over them, and I reseated
myself on the shot-box.



Quarters over in the morning, the boatswain and his four mates
stood round the main hatchway, and after giving the usual
whistle, made the customary announcement--"_All hands bury the
dead, ahoy!_"

In a man-of-war, every thing, even to a man's funeral and burial,
proceeds with the unrelenting promptitude of the martial code.
And whether it is _all hands bury the dead!_ or _all hands splice
the main-brace_, the order is given in the same hoarse tones.

Both officers and men assembled in the lee waist, and through
that bareheaded crowd the mess-mates of Shenly brought his body
to the same gangway where it had thrice winced under the scourge.
But there is something in death that ennobles even a pauper's
corpse; and the Captain himself stood bareheaded before the
remains of a man whom, with his hat on, he had sentenced to the
ignominious gratings when alive.

"_I am the resurrection and the life!_" solemnly began the
Chaplain, in full canonicals, the prayer-book in his hand.

"Damn you! off those booms!" roared a boatswain's mate to a crowd
of top-men, who had elevated themselves to gain a better view of
the scene.

"_We commit this body to the deep!_" At the word, Shenly's mess-
mates tilted the board, and the dead sailor sank in the sea.

"Look aloft," whispered Jack Chase. "See that bird! it is the
spirit of Shenly."

Gazing upward, all beheld a snow-white, solitary fowl, which--
whence coming no one could tell--had been hovering over the
main-mast during the service, and was now sailing far up into the
depths of the sky.



Upon examining Shenly's bag, a will was found, scratched in
pencil, upon a blank leaf in the middle of his Bible; or, to use
the phrase of one of the seamen, in the midships, atween the
Bible and Testament, where the Pothecary (Apocrypha) uses to be.

The will was comprised in one solitary sentence, exclusive of
the dates and signatures: "_In case I die on the voyage, the
Purser will please pay over my wages to my wife, who lives in
Portsmouth, New Hampshire_."

Besides the testator's, there were two signatures of witnesses.

This last will and testament being shown to the Purser, who, it
seems, had been a notary, or surrogate, or some sort of cosy
chamber practitioner in his time, he declared that it must be
"proved." So the witnesses were called, and after recognising
their hands to the paper; for the purpose of additionally testing
their honesty, they were interrogated concerning the day on which
they had signed--whether it was _Banyan Day_, or _Duff Day_, or
_Swampseed Day_; for among the sailors on board a man-of-war, the
land terms, _Monday_, _Tuesday_, _Wednesday_, are almost unknown.
In place of these they substitute nautical names, some of which
are significant of the daily bill of fare at dinner for the week.

The two witnesses were somewhat puzzled by the attorney-like
questions of the Purser, till a third party came along, one of
the ship's barbers, and declared, of his own knowledge, that
Shenly executed the instrument on a _Shaving Day_; for the
deceased seaman had informed him of the circumstance, when he
came to have his beard reaped on the morning of the event.

In the Purser's opinion, this settled the question; and it is to
be hoped that the widow duly received her husband's death-earned

Shenly was dead and gone; and what was Shenly's epitaph?

     --"D. D."--

opposite his name in the Purser's books, in "_Black's best Writing
Fluid_"--funereal name and funereal hue--meaning "Discharged, Dead."



In our man-of-war world, Life comes in at one gangway and Death
goes overboard at the other. Under the man-of-war scourge, curses
mix with tears; and the sigh and the sob furnish the bass to the
shrill octave of those who laugh to drown buried griefs of their
own. Checkers were played in the waist at the time of Shenly's
burial; and as the body plunged, a player swept the board. The
bubbles had hardly burst, when all hands were _piped down_ by the
Boatswain, and the old jests were heard again, as if Shenly
himself were there to hear.

This man-of-war life has not left me unhardened. I cannot stop to
weep over Shenly now; that would be false to the life I depict;
wearing no mourning weeds, I resume the task of portraying our
man-of-war world.

Among the various other vocations, all driven abreast on board of
the Neversink, was that of the schoolmaster. There were two
academies in the frigate. One comprised the apprentice boys, who,
upon certain days of the week, were indoctrinated in the
mysteries of the primer by an invalid corporal of marines, a
slender, wizzen-cheeked man, who had received a liberal infant-
school education.

The other school was a far more pretentious affair--a sort of army
and navy seminary combined, where mystical mathematical problems
were solved by the midshipmen, and great ships-of-the-line were
navigated over imaginary shoals by unimaginable observations of the
moon and the stars, and learned lectures were delivered upon great guns,
small arms, and the curvilinear lines described by bombs in the air.

"_The Professor_" was the title bestowed upon the erudite
gentleman who conducted this seminary, and by that title alone
was he known throughout the ship. He was domiciled in the Ward-
room, and circulated there on a social par with the Purser,
Surgeon, and other _non-combatants_ and Quakers. By being
advanced to the dignity of a peerage in the Ward-room, Science
and Learning were ennobled in the person of this Professor, even
as divinity was honoured in the Chaplain enjoying the rank of a
spiritual peer.

Every other afternoon, while at sea, the Professor assembled his
pupils on the half-deck, near the long twenty-four pounders. A
bass drum-head was his desk, his pupils forming a semicircle
around him, seated on shot-boxes and match-tubs.

They were in the jelly of youth, and this learned Professor
poured into their susceptible hearts all the gentle gunpowder
maxims of war. Presidents of Peace Societies and Superintendents
of Sabbath-schools, must it not have been a most interesting sight?

But the Professor himself was a noteworthy person. A tall, thin,
spectacled man, about forty years old, with a student's stoop in
his shoulders, and wearing uncommonly scanty pantaloons, exhibiting
an undue proportion of his boots. In early life he had been a cadet
in the military academy of West Point; but, becoming very weak-sighted,
and thereby in a good manner disqualified for active service in the
field, he had declined entering the army, and accepted the office of
Professor in the Navy.

His studies at West Point had thoroughly grounded him in a
knowledge of gunnery; and, as he was not a little of a pedant, it
was sometimes amusing, when the sailors were at quarters, to hear
him criticise their evolutions at the batteries. He would quote
Dr. Hutton's Tracts on the subject, also, in the original, "_The
French Bombardier_," and wind up by Italian passages from the
"_Prattica Manuale dell' Artiglieria_."

Though not required by the Navy regulations to instruct his
scholars in aught but the application of mathematics to
navigation, yet besides this, and besides instructing them in the
theory of gunnery, he also sought to root them in the theory of
frigate and fleet tactics. To be sure, he himself did not know
how to splice a rope or furl a sail; and, owing to his partiality
for strong coffee, he was apt to be nervous when we fired
salutes; yet all this did not prevent him from delivering
lectures on cannonading and "breaking the enemy's line."

He had arrived at his knowledge of tactics by silent, solitary
study, and earnest meditation in the sequestered retreat of his
state-room. His case was somewhat parallel to the Scotchman's--
John. Clerk, Esq., of Eldin--who, though he had never been to
sea, composed a quarto treatise on fleet-fighting, which to this
day remains a text-book; and he also originated a nautical
manoeuvre, which has given to England many a victory over her foes.

Now there was a large black-board, something like a great-gun
target--only it was square--which during the professor's lectures
was placed upright on the gun-deck, supported behind by three
boarding-pikes. And here he would chalk out diagrams of great
fleet engagements; making marks, like the soles of shoes, for
the ships, and drawing a dog-vane in one corner to denote the
assumed direction of the wind. This done, with a cutlass he
would point out every spot of interest.

"Now, young gentlemen, the board before you exhibits the
disposition of the British West Indian squadron under Rodney,
when, early on the morning of the 9th of April, in the year of
our blessed Lord 1782, he discovered part of the French fleet,
commanded by the Count de Grasse, lying under the north end of
the Island of Dominica. It was at this juncture that the Admiral
gave the signal for the British line to prepare for battle, and
stand on. D'ye understand, young gentlemen? Well, the British
van having nearly fetched up with the centre of the enemy--who,
be it remembered, were then on the starboard tack--and Rodney's
centre and rear being yet becalmed under the lee of the land--the
question I ask you is, What should Rodney now do?"

"Blaze away, by all means!" responded a rather confident reefer,
who had zealously been observing the diagram.

"But, sir, his centre and rear are still becalmed, and his van
has not yet closed with the enemy."

"Wait till he _does_ come in range, and _then_ blaze away," said
the reefer.

"Permit me to remark, Mr. Pert, that '_blaze away_' is not a
strictly technical term; and also permit me to hint, Mr. Pert,
that you should consider the subject rather more deeply before
you hurry forward your opinion."

This rebuke not only abashed Mr. Pert, but for a time intimidated the
rest; and the professor was obliged to proceed, and extricate the
British fleet by himself. He concluded by awarding Admiral Rodney the
victory, which must have been exceedingly gratifying to the family pride
of the surviving relatives and connections of that distinguished hero.

"Shall I clean the board, sir?" now asked Mr. Pert, brightening up.

"No, sir; not till you have saved that crippled French ship in
the corner. That ship, young gentlemen, is the Glorieuse: you
perceive she is cut off from her consorts, and the whole British
fleet is giving chase to her. Her bowsprit is gone; her rudder is
torn away; she has one hundred round shot in her hull, and two
thirds of her men are dead or dying. What's to be done? the wind
being at northeast by north?"

"Well, sir," said Mr. Dash, a chivalric young gentleman from
Virginia, "I wouldn't strike yet; I'd nail my colours to the
main-royal-mast! I would, by Jove!"

"That would not save your ship, sir; besides, your main-mast has
gone by the board."

"I think, sir," said Mr. Slim, a diffident youth, "I think, sir,
I would haul back the fore-top-sail."

"And why so? of what service would _that_ be, I should like to
know, Mr. Slim?"

"I can't tell exactly; but I think it would help her a little,"
was the timid reply.

"Not a whit, sir--not one particle; besides, you can't haul back
your fore-top-sail--your fore-mast is lying across your forecastle."

"Haul back the main-top-sail, then," suggested another.

"Can't be done; your main-mast, also, has gone by the board!"

"Mizzen-top-sail?" meekly suggested little Boat-Plug.

"Your mizzen-top-mast, let me inform you, sir, was shot down in
the first of the fight!"

"Well, sir," cried Mr. Dash, "I'd tack ship, anyway; bid 'em
good-by with a broadside; nail my flag to the keel, if there was
no other place; and blow my brains out on the poop!"

"Idle, idle, sir! worse than idle! you are carried away, Mr.
Dash, by your ardent Southern temperament! Let me inform you,
young gentlemen, that this ship," touching it with his cutlass,
"_cannot_ be saved."

Then, throwing down his cutlass, "Mr. Pert, have the goodness to
hand me one of those cannon-balls from the rack."

Balancing the iron sphere in one hand, the learned professor
began fingering it with the other, like Columbus illustrating the
rotundity of the globe before the Royal Commission of Castilian

"Young gentlemen, I resume my remarks on the passage of a shot
_in vacuo_, which remarks were interrupted yesterday by general
quarters. After quoting that admirable passage in 'Spearman's
British Gunner,' I then laid it down, you remember, that the path
of a shot _in vacuo_ describes a parabolic curve. I now add that,
agreeably to the method pursued by the illustrious Newton in
treating the subject of curvilinear motion, I consider the
_trajectory_ or curve described by a moving body in space as
consisting of a series of right lines, described in successive
intervals of time, and constituting the diagonals of parallelograms
formed in a vertical plane between the vertical deflections caused
by gravity and the production of the line of motion which has been
described in each preceding interval of time. This must be obvious;
for, if you say that the passage _in vacuo_ of this cannon-ball,
now held in my hand, would describe otherwise than a series of right
lines, etc., then you are brought to the _Reductio ad Absurdum_,
that the diagonals of parallelograms are------"

"All hands reef top-sail!" was now thundered forth by the
boatswain's mates. The shot fell from the professor's palm; his
spectacles dropped on his nose, and the school tumultuously broke
up, the pupils scrambling up the ladders with the sailors, who
had been overhearing the lecture.



The allusion to one of the ship's barbers in a previous chapter,
together with the recollection of how conspicuous a part they
enacted in a tragical drama soon to be related, leads me now to
introduce them to the reader.

Among the numerous artists and professors of polite trades in the
Navy, none are held in higher estimation or drive a more
profitable business than these barbers. And it may well be
imagined that the five hundred heads of hair and five hundred
beards of a frigate should furnish no small employment for those
to whose faithful care they may be intrusted. As everything
connected with the domestic affairs of a man-of-war comes under
the supervision of the martial executive, so certain barbers are
formally licensed by the First Lieutenant. The better to attend
to the profitable duties of their calling, they are exempted
from all ship's duty except that of standing night-watches at
sea, mustering at quarters, and coming on deck when all hands are
called. They are rated as _able seamen_ or _ordinary seamen_, and
receive their wages as such; but in addition to this, they are
liberally recompensed for their professional services. Herein
their rate of pay is fixed for every sailor manipulated--so much
per quarter, which is charged to the sailor, and credited to his
barber on the books of the Purser.

It has been seen that while a man-of-war barber is shaving his
customers at so much per chin, his wages as a seaman are still
running on, which makes him a sort of _sleeping partner_ of a
sailor; nor are the sailor wages he receives altogether to be
reckoned as earnings. Considering the circumstances, however, not
much objection can be made to the barbers on this score. But
there were instances of men in the Neversink receiving government
money in part pay for work done for private individuals. Among
these were several accomplished tailors, who nearly the whole
cruise sat cross-legged on the half deck, making coats,
pantaloons, and vests for the quarter-deck officers. Some of
these men, though knowing little or nothing about sailor duties,
and seldom or never performing them, stood upon the ship's books
as ordinary seamen, entitled to ten dollars a month. Why was
this? Previous to shipping they had divulged the fact of their
being tailors. True, the officers who employed them upon their
wardrobes paid them for their work, but some of them in such a
way as to elicit much grumbling from the tailors. At any rate,
these makers and menders of clothes did not receive from some of
these officers an amount equal to what they could have fairly
earned ashore by doing the same work. It was a considerable
saving to the officers to have their clothes made on board.

The men belonging to the carpenter's gang furnished another case
in point. There were some six or eight allotted to this department.
All the cruise they were hard at work. At what? Mostly making chests
of drawers, canes, little ships and schooners, swifts, and other
elaborated trifles, chiefly for the Captain. What did the Captain pay
them for their trouble? Nothing. But the United States government paid
them; two of them (the mates) at nineteen dollars a month, and the rest
receiving the pay of able seamen, twelve dollars.

To return.

The regular days upon which the barbers shall exercise their
vocation are set down on the ship's calendar, and known as
_shaving days_. On board of the Neversink these days are
Wednesdays and Saturdays; when, immediately after breakfast, the
barbers' shops were opened to customers. They were in different
parts of the gun-deck, between the long twenty-four pounders.
Their furniture, however, was not very elaborate, hardly equal to
the sumptuous appointments of metropolitan barbers. Indeed, it
merely consisted of a match-tub, elevated upon a shot-box, as a
barber's chair for the patient. No Psyche glasses; no hand-
mirror; no ewer and basin; no comfortable padded footstool;
nothing, in short, that makes a shore "_shave_" such a luxury.

Nor are the implements of these man-of-war barbers out of keeping
with the rude appearance of their shops. Their razors are of the
simplest patterns, and, from their jagged-ness, would seem better
fitted for the preparing and harrowing of the soil than for the
ultimate reaping of the crop. But this is no matter for wonder,
since so many chins are to be shaven, and a razor-case holds but
two razors. For only two razors does a man-of-war barber have,
and, like the marine sentries at the gangway in port, these
razors go off and on duty in rotation. One brush, too, brushes
every chin, and one lather lathers them all. No private brushes
and boxes; no reservations whatever.

As it would be altogether too much trouble for a man-of-war's-man
to keep his own shaving-tools and shave himself at sea, and
since, therefore, nearly the whole ship's company patronise the
ship's barbers, and as the seamen must be shaven by evening
quarters of the days appointed for the business, it may be
readily imagined what a scene of bustle and confusion there is
when the razors are being applied. First come, first served, is
the motto; and often you have to wait for hours together, sticking
to your position (like one of an Indian file of merchants' clerks
getting letters out of the post-office), ere you have a chance to
occupy the pedestal of the match-tub. Often the crowd of quarrelsome
candidates wrangle and fight for precedency, while at all times the
interval is employed by the garrulous in every variety of ship-gossip.

As the shaving days are unalterable, they often fall upon days of
high seas and tempestuous winds, when the vessel pitches and
rolls in a frightful manner. In consequence, many valuable lives
are jeopardised from the razor being plied under such untoward
circumstances. But these sea-barbers pride themselves upon their
sea-legs, and often you will see them standing over their
patients with their feet wide apart, and scientifically swaying
their bodies to the motion of the ship, as they flourish their
edge-tools about the lips, nostrils, and jugular.

As I looked upon the practitioner and patient at such times, I
could not help thinking that, if the sailor had any insurance on
his life, it would certainly be deemed forfeited should the
president of the company chance to lounge by and behold him in
that imminent peril. For myself, I accounted it an excellent
preparation for going into a sea-fight, where fortitude in
standing up to your gun and running the risk of all splinters,
comprise part of the practical qualities that make up an
efficient man-of-war's man.

It remains to be related, that these barbers of ours had their
labours considerably abridged by a fashion prevailing among many
of the crew, of wearing very large whiskers; so that, in most
cases, the only parts needing a shave were the upper lip and
suburbs of the chin. This had been more or less the custom during
the whole three years' cruise; but for some time previous to our
weathering Cape Horn, very many of the seamen had redoubled their
assiduity in cultivating their beards preparatory to their return
to America. There they anticipated creating no small impression
by their immense and magnificent _homeward-bounders_--so they
called the long fly-brushes at their chins. In particular, the
more aged sailors, embracing the Old Guard of sea grenadiers on
the forecastle, and the begrimed gunner's mates and quarter-
gunners, sported most venerable beards of an exceeding length and
hoariness, like long, trailing moss hanging from the bough of
some aged oak. Above all, the Captain of the Forecastle, old
Ushant--a fine specimen of a sea sexagenarian--wore a wide,
spreading beard, gizzled and grey, that flowed over his breast
and often became tangled and knotted with tar. This Ushant, in
all weathers, was ever alert at his duty; intrepidly mounting the
fore-yard in a gale, his long beard streaming like Neptune's. Off
Cape Horn it looked like a miller's, being all over powdered with
frost; sometimes it glittered with minute icicles in the pale,
cold, moonlit Patagonian nights. But though he was so active in
time of tempest, yet when his duty did not call for exertion, he
was a remarkably staid, reserved, silent, and majestic old man,
holding himself aloof from noisy revelry, and never participating
in the boisterous sports of the crew. He resolutely set his beard
against their boyish frolickings, and often held forth like an
oracle concerning the vanity thereof. Indeed, at times he was wont
to talk philosophy to his ancient companions--the old sheet-anchor-men
around him--as well as to the hare-brained tenants of the fore-top,
and the giddy lads in the mizzen.

Nor was his philosophy to be despised; it abounded in wisdom.
For this Ushant was an old man, of strong natural sense, who had
seen nearly the whole terraqueous globe, and could reason of
civilized and savage, of Gentile and Jew, of Christian and
Moslem. The long night-watches of the sailor are eminently
adapted to draw out the reflective faculties of any serious-
minded man, however humble or uneducated. Judge, then, what half
a century of battling out watches on the ocean must have done for
this fine old tar. He was a sort of a sea-Socrates, in his old
age "pouring out his last philosophy and life," as sweet Spenser
has it; and I never could look at him, and survey his right
reverend beard, without bestowing upon him that title which, in
one of his satires, Persius gives to the immortal quaffer of the
hemlock--_Magister Barbatus_--the bearded master.

Not a few of the ship's company had also bestowed great pains
upon their hair, which some of them--especially the genteel young
sailor bucks of the After-guard--wore over their shoulders like
the ringleted Cavaliers. Many sailors, with naturally tendril
locks, prided themselves upon what they call _love curls_, worn
at the side of the head, just before the ear--a custom peculiar
to tars, and which seems to have filled the vacated place of the
old-fashioned Lord Rodney cue, which they used to wear some fifty
years ago.

But there were others of the crew labouring under the misfortune
of long, lank, Winnebago locks, carroty bunches of hair, or
rebellious bristles of a sandy hue. Ambitious of redundant mops,
these still suffered their carrots to grow, spite of all
ridicule. They looked like Huns and Scandinavians; and one of
them, a young Down Easter, the unenvied proprietor of a thick
crop of inflexible yellow bamboos, went by the name of _Peter the
Wild Boy_; for, like Peter the Wild Boy in France, it was
supposed that he must have been caught like a catamount in the
pine woods of Maine. But there were many fine, flowing heads of
hair to counter-balance such sorry exhibitions as Peter's.

What with long whiskers and venerable beards, then, of every
variety of cut--Charles the Fifth's and Aurelian's--and endless
_goatees_ and _imperials;_ and what with abounding locks, our crew
seemed a company of Merovingians or Long-haired kings, mixed with
savage Lombards or Longobardi, so called from their lengthy beards.



The preceding chapter fitly paves the way for the present,
wherein it sadly befalls White-Jacket to chronicle a calamitous
event, which filled the Neversink with long lamentations, that
echo through all her decks and tops. After dwelling upon our
redundant locks and thrice-noble beards, fain would I cease, and
let the sequel remain undisclosed, but truth and fidelity forbid.

As I now deviously hover and lingeringly skirmish about the frontiers
of this melancholy recital, a feeling of sadness comes over me that I
cannot withstand. Such a heartless massacre of hair! Such a
Bartholomew's Day and Sicilian Vespers of assassinated beards! Ah!
who would believe it! With intuitive sympathy I feel of my own brown
beard while I write, and thank my kind stars that each precious hair
is for ever beyond the reach of the ruthless barbers of a man-of-war!

It needs that this sad and most serious matter should be
faithfully detailed. Throughout the cruise, many of the officers
had expressed their abhorrence of the impunity with which the
most extensive plantations of hair were cultivated under their
very noses; and they frowned upon every beard with even greater
dislike. They said it was unseamanlike; not _ship-shape;_ in
short, it was disgraceful to the Navy. But as Captain Claret said
nothing, and as the officers, of themselves, had no authority to
preach a crusade against whiskerandoes, the Old Guard on the
forecastle still complacently stroked their beards, and the sweet
youths of the After-guard still lovingly threaded their fingers
through their curls.

Perhaps the Captain's generosity in thus far permitting our
beards sprung from the fact that he himself wore a small speck of
a beard upon his own imperial cheek; which if rumour said true,
was to hide something, as Plutarch relates of the Emperor Adrian.
But, to do him justice--as I always have done--the Captain's
beard did not exceed the limits prescribed by the Navy Department.

According to a then recent ordinance at Washington, the beards of
both officers and seamen were to be accurately laid out and
surveyed, and on no account must come lower than the mouth, so as
to correspond with the Army standard--a regulation directly
opposed to the theocratical law laid down in the nineteenth
chapter and twenty-seventh verse of Leviticus, where it is
expressly ordained, "_Thou shalt not mar the corners of thy
beard_." But legislators do not always square their statutes by
those of the Bible.

At last, when we had crossed the Northern Tropic, and were
standing up to our guns at evening quarters, and when the setting
sun, streaming in at the port-holes, lit up every hair, till to
an observer on the quarter-deck, the two long, even lines of
beards seemed one dense grove; in that evil hour it must have
been, that a cruel thought entered into the heart of our Captain.

A pretty set of savages, thought he, am I taking home to America;
people will think them all catamounts and Turks. Besides, now
that I think of it, it's against the law. It will never do. They
must be shaven and shorn--that's flat.

There is no knowing, indeed, whether these were the very words in
which the Captain meditated that night; for it is yet a mooted
point among metaphysicians, whether we think in words or whether
we think in thoughts. But something like the above must have been
the Captain's cogitations. At any rate, that very evening the
ship's company were astounded by an extraordinary announcement
made at the main-hatch-way of the gun-deck, by the Boat-swain's
mate there stationed. He was afterwards discovered to have been
tipsy at the time.

"D'ye hear there, fore and aft? All you that have hair on your heads,
shave them off; and all you that have beards, trim 'em small!"

Shave off our Christian heads! And then, placing them between our
knees, trim small our worshipped beards! The Captain was mad.

But directly the Boatswain came rushing to the hatchway, and,
after soundly rating his tipsy mate, thundered forth a true
version of the order that had issued from the quarter-deck. As
amended, it ran thus:

"D'ye hear there, fore and aft? All you that have long hair, cut
it short; and all you that have large whiskers, trim them down,
according to the Navy regulations."

This was an amendment, to be sure; but what barbarity, after all!
What! not thirty days' run from home, and lose our magnificent
homeward-bounders! The homeward-bounders we had been cultivating
so long! Lose them at one fell swoop? Were the vile barbers of
the gun-deck to reap our long, nodding harvests, and expose our
innocent chins to the chill air of the Yankee coast! And our viny
locks! were they also to be shorn? Was a grand sheep-shearing,
such as they annually have at Nantucket, to take place; and our
ignoble barbers to carry off the fleece?

Captain Claret! in cutting our beards and our hair, you cut us
the unkindest cut of all! Were we going into action, Captain
Claret--going to fight the foe with our hearts of flame and our
arms of steel, then would we gladly offer up our beards to the
terrific God of War, and _that_ we would account but a wise
precaution against having them tweaked by the foe. _Then_,
Captain Claret, you would but be imitating the example of
Alexander, who had his Macedonians all shaven, that in the hour
of battle their beards might not be handles to the Persians. But
_now_, Captain Claret! when after our long, long cruise, we are
returning to our homes, tenderly stroking the fine tassels on our
chins; and thinking of father or mother, or sister or brother, or
daughter or son; to cut off our beards now--the very beards that
were frosted white off the pitch of Patagonia--_this_ is too
bitterly bad, Captain Claret! and, by Heaven, we will not submit.
Train your guns inboard, let the marines fix their bayonets, let
the officers draw their swords; we _will not_ let our beards be
reaped--the last insult inflicted upon a vanquished foe in the East!

Where are you, sheet-anchor-men! Captains of the tops! gunner's
mates! mariners, all! Muster round the capstan your venerable
beards, and while you braid them together in token of brotherhood,
cross hands and swear that we will enact over again the mutiny of
the Nore, and sooner perish than yield up a hair!

The excitement was intense throughout that whole evening. Groups
of tens and twenties were scattered about all the decks,
discussing the mandate, and inveighing against its barbarous
author. The long area of the gun-deck was something like a
populous street of brokers, when some terrible commercial tidings
have newly arrived. One and all, they resolved not to succumb,
and every man swore to stand by his beard and his neighbour.

Twenty-four hours after--at the next evening quarters--the
Captain's eye was observed to wander along the men at their
guns--not a beard was shaven!

When the drum beat the retreat, the Boatswain--now attended by
all four of his mates, to give additional solemnity to the
announcement--repeated the previous day's order, and concluded by
saying, that twenty-four hours would be given for all to acquiesce.

But the second day passed, and at quarters, untouched, every
beard bristled on its chin. Forthwith Captain Claret summoned the
midshipmen, who, receiving his orders, hurried to the various
divisions of the guns, and communicated them to the Lieutenants
respectively stationed over divisions.

The officer commanding mine turned upon us, and said, "Men, if
tomorrow night I find any of you with long hair, or whiskers of a
standard violating the Navy regulations, the names of such
offenders shall be put down on the report."

The affair had now assumed a most serious aspect. The Captain was
in earnest. The excitement increased ten-fold; and a great many
of the older seamen, exasperated to the uttermost, talked about
_knocking of duty_ till the obnoxious mandate was revoked. I
thought it impossible that they would seriously think of such a
folly; but there is no knowing what man-of-war's-men will
sometimes do, under provocation--witness Parker and the Nore.

That same night, when the first watch was set, the men in a body
drove the two boatswain's mates from their stations at the fore
and main hatchways, and unshipped the ladders; thus cutting off
all communication between the gun and spar decks, forward of the

Mad Jack had the trumpet; and no sooner was this incipient
mutiny reported to him, than he jumped right down among the mob,
and fearlessly mingling with them, exclaimed, "What do you mean,
men? don't be fools! This is no way to get what you want. Turn
to, my lads, turn to! Boatswain's mate, ship that ladder! So! up
you tumble, now, my hearties! away you go!"

His gallant, off-handed, confident manner, recognising no attempt
at mutiny, operated upon the sailors like magic.

They _tumbled up_, as commanded; and for the rest of that night
contented themselves with privately fulminating their displeasure
against the Captain, and publicly emblazoning every anchor-
button on the coat of admired Mad jack.

Captain Claret happened to be taking a nap in his cabin at the
moment of the disturbance; and it was quelled so soon that he
knew nothing of it till it was officially reported to him. It was
afterward rumoured through the ship that he reprimanded Mad Jack
for acting as he did. He main-tained that he should at once have
summoned the marines, and charged upon the "mutineers." But if
the sayings imputed to the Captain were true, he nevertheless
refrained from subsequently noticing the disturbance, or
attempting to seek out and punish the ringleaders. This was but
wise; for there are times when even the most potent governor must
wink at transgression in order to preserve the laws inviolate for
the future. And great care is to be taken, by timely management,
to avert an incontestable act of mutiny, and so prevent men from
being roused, by their own consciousness of transgression, into
all the fury of an unbounded insurrection. _Then_ for the time,
both soldiers and sailors are irresistible; as even the valour of
Caesar was made to know, and the prudence of Germanicus, when
their legions rebelled. And not all the concessions of Earl
Spencer, as First lord of the Admiralty, nor the threats and
entreaties of Lord Bridport, the Admiral of the Fleet--no, nor
his gracious Majesty's plenary pardon in prospective, could
prevail upon the Spithead mutineers (when at last fairly lashed
up to the mark) to succumb, until deserted by their own mess-
mates, and a handful was left in the breach.

Therefore, Mad Jack! you did right, and no one else could have
acquitted himself better. By your crafty simplicity, good-natured
daring, and off-handed air (as if nothing was happening) you perhaps
quelled a very serious affair in the bud, and prevented the disgrace
to the American Navy of a tragical mutiny, growing out of whiskers,
soap-suds, and razors. Think of it, if future historians should devote
a long chapter to the great _Rebellion of the Beards_ on board the
United States ship Neversink. Why, through all time thereafter,
barbers would cut down their spiralised poles, and substitute
miniature main-masts for the emblems of their calling.

And here is ample scope for some pregnant instruction, how that events
of vast magnitude in our man-of-war world may originate in the pettiest
of trifles. But that is an old theme; we waive it, and proceed.

On the morning following, though it was not a regular shaving
day, the gun-deck barbers were observed to have their shops open,
their match-tub accommodations in readiness, and their razors
displayed. With their brushes, raising a mighty lather in their
tin pots, they stood eyeing the passing throng of seamen,
silently inviting them to walk in and be served. In addition to
their usual implements, they now flourished at intervals a huge
pair of sheep-shears, by way of more forcibly reminding the men
of the edict which that day must be obeyed, or woe betide them.

For some hours the seamen paced to and fro in no very good
humour, vowing not to sacrifice a hair. Beforehand, they
denounced that man who should abase himself by compliance. But
habituation to discipline is magical; and ere long an old
forecastle-man was discovered elevated upon a match-tub, while,
with a malicious grin, his barber--a fellow who, from his
merciless rasping, was called Blue-Skin--seized him by his long
beard, and at one fell stroke cut it off and tossed it out of the
port-hole behind him. This forecastle-man was ever afterwards
known by a significant title--in the main equivalent to that name
of reproach fastened upon that Athenian who, in Alexander's time,
previous to which all the Greeks sported beards, first submitted
to the deprivation of his own. But, spite of all the contempt
hurled on our forecastle-man, so prudent an example was soon
followed; presently all the barbers were busy.

Sad sight! at which any one but a barber or a Tartar would have
wept! Beards three years old; _goatees_ that would have graced a
Chamois of the Alps; _imperials_ that Count D'Orsay would have
envied; and _love-curls_ and man-of-war ringlets that would have
measured, inch for inch, with the longest tresses of The Fair One
with the Golden Locks--all went by the board! Captain Claret! how
can you rest in your hammock! by this brown beard which now waves
from my chin--the illustrious successor to that first, young,
vigorous beard I yielded to your tyranny--by this manly beard, I
swear, it was barbarous!

My noble captain, Jack Chase, was indignant. Not even all the
special favours he had received from Captain Claret. and the
plenary pardon extended to him for his desertion into the
Peruvian service, could restrain the expression of his feelings.
But in his cooler moments, Jack was a wise man; he at last deemed
it but wisdom to succumb.

When he went to the barber he almost drew tears from his eyes.
Seating himself mournfully on the match-tub, he looked sideways,
and said to the barber, who was _slithering_ his sheep-shears in
readiness to begin: "My friend, I trust your scissors are
consecrated. Let them not touch this beard if they have yet to be
dipped in holy water; beards are sacred things, barber. Have you
no feeling for beards, my friend? think of it;" and mournfully he
laid his deep-dyed, russet cheek upon his hand. "Two summers have
gone by since my chin has been reaped. I was in Coquimbo then,
on the Spanish Main; and when the husband-man was sowing his
Autumnal grain on the Vega, I started this blessed beard; and
when the vine-dressers were trimming their vines in the vineyards,
I first trimmed it to the sound of a flute. Ah! barber, have you no
heart? This beard has been caressed by the snow-white hand of the
lovely Tomasita of Tombez--the Castilian belle of all lower Peru.
Think of _that_, barber! I have worn it as an officer on the quarter-deck
of a Peruvian man-of-war.  I have sported it at brilliant fandangoes
in Lima. I have been alow and aloft with it at sea. Yea, barber! it
has streamed like an Admiral's pennant at the mast-head of this same
gallant frigate, the Neversink! Oh! barber, barber! it stabs me to the
heart.--Talk not of hauling down your ensigns and standards when
vanquished--what is _that_, barber! to striking the flag that Nature
herself has nailed to the mast!"

Here noble Jack's feelings overcame him: he dropped from the
animated attitude into which his enthusiasm had momentarily
transported him; his proud head sunk upon his chest, and his
long, sad beard almost grazed the deck.

"Ay! trail your beards in grief and dishonour, oh crew of the
Neversink!" sighed Jack. "Barber, come closer--now, tell me, my
friend, have you obtained absolution for this deed you are about
to commit? You have not? Then, barber, I will absolve you; your
hands shall be washed of this sin; it is not you, but another;
and though you are about to shear off my manhood, yet, barber, I
freely forgive you; kneel, kneel, barber! that I may bless you,
in token that I cherish no malice!"

So when this barber, who was the only tender-hearted one of his
tribe, had kneeled, been absolved, and then blessed, Jack gave up
his beard into his hands, and the barber, clipping it off with a
sigh, held it high aloft, and, parodying the style of the
boatswain's mates, cried aloud, "D'ye hear, fore and aft? This is
the beard of our matchless Jack Chase, the noble captain of this
frigate's main-top!"



Though many heads of hair were shorn, and many fine beards reaped
that day, yet several still held out, and vowed to defend their
sacred hair to the last gasp of their breath. These were chiefly
old sailors--some of them petty officers--who, presuming upon
their age or rank, doubtless thought that, after so many had
complied with the Captain's commands, _they_, being but a
handful, would be exempted from compliance, and remain a monument
of our master's clemency.

That same evening, when the drum beat to quarters, the sailors
went sullenly to their guns, and the old tars who still sported
their beards stood up, grim, defying, and motionless, as the
rows of sculptured Assyrian kings, who, with their magnificent
beards, have recently been exhumed by Layard.

When the proper time arrived, their names were taken down by the
officers of divisions, and they were afterward summoned in a body
to the mast, where the Captain stood ready to receive them. The
whole ship's company crowded to the spot, and, amid the breathless
multitude, the vener-able rebels advanced and unhatted.

It was an imposing display. They were old and venerable
mariners; their cheeks had been burned brown in all latitudes,
wherever the sun sends a tropical ray. Reverend old tars, one and
all; some of them might have been grandsires, with grandchildren
in every port round the world. They ought to have commanded the
veneration of the most frivolous or magisterial beholder. Even
Captain Claret they ought to have humiliated into deference. But
a Scythian is touched with no reverential promptings; and, as the
Roman student well knows, the august Senators themselves, seated
in the Senate-house, on the majestic hill of the Capitol, had
their holy beards tweaked by the insolent chief of the Goths.

Such an array of beards! spade-shaped, hammer-shaped, dagger-
shaped, triangular, square, peaked, round, hemispherical, and
forked. But chief among them all, was old Ushant's, the ancient
Captain of the Forecastle. Of a Gothic venerableness, it fell
upon his breast like a continual iron-gray storm.

Ah! old Ushant, Nestor of the crew! it promoted my longevity to
behold you.

He was a man-of-war's-man of the old Benbow school. He wore a
short cue, which the wags of the mizzen-top called his "_plug of
pig-tail_." About his waist was a broad boarder's belt, which he
wore, he said, to brace his main-mast, meaning his backbone; for
at times he complained of rheumatic twinges in the spine, consequent
upon sleeping on deck, now and then, during the night-watches of
upward of half a century. His sheath-knife was an antique--a sort
of old-fashioned pruning-hook; its handle--a sperm whale's tooth--was
carved all over with ships, cannon, and anchors. It was attached to
his neck by a _lanyard_, elaborately worked into "rose-knots" and
"Turks' heads" by his own venerable fingers.

Of all the crew, this Ushant was most beloved by my glorious
captain, Jack Chase, who one day pointed him out to me as the old
man was slowly coming down the rigging from the fore-top.

"There, White-Jacket! isn't that old Chaucer's shipman?

     "'A dagger hanging by a las hadde he,
         About his nekke, under his arm adown;
         The hote sommer hadde made his beard all brown.
       Hardy he is, and wise; I undertake
       With many a tempest has his beard be shake.'

From the Canterbury Tales, White-Jacket! and must not old Ushant
have been living in Chaucer's time, that Chaucer could draw his
portrait so well?"



The rebel beards, headed by old Ushant's, streaming like a
Commodore's _bougee_, now stood in silence at the mast.

"You knew the order!" said the Captain, eyeing them severely;
"what does that hair on your chins?"

"Sir," said the Captain of the Forecastle, "did old Ushant ever
refuse doing his duty? did he ever yet miss his muster? But,
sir, old Ushant's beard is his own!"

"What's that, sir? Master-at-arms, put that man into the brig."

"Sir," said the old man, respectfully, "the three years for which
I shipped are expired; and though I am perhaps bound to work the
ship home, yet, as matters are, I think my beard might be allowed
me. It is but a few days, Captain Claret."

"Put him into the brig!" cried the Captain; "and now, you old
rascals!" he added, turning round upon the rest, "I give you
fifteen minutes to have those beards taken off; if they then
remain on your chins, I'll flog you--every mother's son of you--
though you were all my own god-fathers!"

The band of beards went forward, summoned their barbers, and
their glorious pennants were no more. In obedience to orders,
they then paraded themselves at the mast, and, addressing the
Captain, said, "Sir, our _muzzle-lashings_ are cast off!"

Nor is it unworthy of being chronicled, that not a single sailor
who complied with the general order but refused to sport the vile
_regulation-whiskers_ prescribed by the Navy Department. No! like
heroes they cried, "Shave me clean! I will not wear a hair, since
I cannot wear all!"

On the morrow, after breakfast, Ushant was taken out of irons,
and, with the master-at-arms on one side and an armed sentry on
the other, was escorted along the gun-deck and up the ladder to
the main-mast. There the Captain stood, firm as before. They must
have guarded the old man thus to prevent ms escape to the shore,
something less than a thousand miles distant at the time.

"Well, sir, will you have that beard taken off? you have slept
over it a whole night now; what do you say? I don't want to flog
an old man like you, Ushant!"

"My beard is my own, sir!" said the old man, lowly.

"Will you take it off?"

"It is mine, sir?" said the old man, tremulously.

"Rig the gratings?" roared the Captain. "Master-at-arms, strip him!
quarter-masters, seize him up! boatswain's mates, do your duty!"

While these executioners were employed, the Captain's excitement
had a little time to abate; and when, at last, old Ushant was
tied up by the arms and legs and his venerable back was exposed--
that back which had bowed at the guns of the frigate Constitution
when she captured the Guerriere--the Captain seemed to relent.

"You are a very old man," he said, "and I am sorry to flog you;
but my orders must be obeyed. I will give you one more chance;
will you have that beard taken off?"

"Captain Claret," said the old man, turning round painfully in
his bonds, "you may flog me if you will; but, sir, in this one
thing I _cannot_ obey you."

"Lay on! I'll see his backbone!" roared the Captain in a sudden fury.

"By Heaven!" thrillingly whispered Jack Chase, who stood by,
"it's only a halter; I'll strike him!"

"Better not," said a top-mate; "it's death, or worse punishment,

"There goes the lash!" cried Jack. "Look at the old man! By G---d,
I can't stand it! Let me go, men!" and with moist eyes Jack forced
his way to one side.

"You, boatswain's mate," cried the Captain, "you are favouring
that man! Lay on soundly, sir, or I'll have your own _cat_ laid
soundly on you."

One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten,
eleven, twelve lashes were laid on the back of that heroic old
man. He only bowed over his head, and stood as the Dying
Gladiator lies.

"Cut him down," said the Captain.

"And now go and cut your own throat," hoarsely whispered an old
sheet-anchor-man, a mess-mate of Ushant's.

When the master-at-arms advanced with the prisoner's shirt,
Ushant waved him off with the dignified air of a Brahim, saying,
"Do you think, master-at-arms, that I am hurt? I will put on my
own garment. I am never the worse for it, man; and 'tis no
dishonour when he who would dishonour you, only dishonours himself."

"What says he?" cried the Captain; "what says that tarry old
philosopher with the smoking back? Tell it to me, sir, if you
dare! Sentry, take that man back to the brig. Stop! John Ushant,
you have been Captain of the Forecastle; I break you. And now you
go into the brig, there to remain till you consent to have that
beard taken off."

"My beard is my own," said the old man, quietly. "Sen-try, I am ready."

And back he went into durance between the guns; but after lying
some four or five days in irons, an order came to remove them;
but he was still kept confined.

Books were allowed him, and he spent much time in reading. But he
also spent many hours in braiding his beard, and interweaving
with it strips of red bunting, as if he desired to dress out and
adorn the thing which had triumphed over all opposition.

He remained a prisoner till we arrived in America; but the very
moment he heard the chain rattle out of the hawse-hole, and the
ship swing to her anchor, he started to his feet, dashed the sentry
aside, and gaining the deck, exclaimed, "At home, with my beard!"

His term of service having some months previous expired, and the
ship being now in harbour, he was beyond the reach of naval law,
and the officers durst not molest him. But without unduly
availing himself of these circumstances, the old man merely got
his bag and hammock together, hired a boat, and throwing himself
into the stern, was rowed ashore, amid the unsuppressible cheers
of all hands. It was a glorious conquest over the Conqueror
himself, as well worthy to be celebrated as the Battle of the Nile.

Though, as I afterward learned, Ushant was earnestly entreated to
put the case into some lawyer's hands, he firmly declined,
saying, "I have won the battle, my friends, and I do not care for
the prize-money." But even had he complied with these entreaties,
from precedents in similar cases, it is almost certain that not a
sou's worth of satisfaction would have been received.

I know not in what frigate you sail now, old Ushant; but Heaven
protect your storied old beard, in whatever Typhoon it may blow.
And if ever it must be shorn, old man, may it fare like the royal
beard of Henry I., of England, and be clipped by the right
reverend hand of some Archbishop of Sees.

As for Captain Claret, let it not be supposed that it is here
sought to impale him before the world as a cruel, black-hearted
man. Such he was not. Nor was he, upon the whole, regarded by his
crew with anything like the feelings which man-of-war's-men
sometimes cherish toward signally tyrannical commanders. In
truth, the majority of the Neversink's crew--in previous cruises
habituated to flagrant misusage--deemed Captain Claret a lenient
officer. In many things he certainly refrained from oppressing
them. It has been related what privileges he accorded to the
seamen respecting the free playing of checkers--a thing almost
unheard of in most American men-of-war. In the matter of
overseeing the men's clothing, also, he was remarkably indulgent,
compared with the conduct of other Navy captains, who, by
sumptuary regulations, oblige their sailors to run up large
bills with the Purser for clothes. In a word, of whatever acts
Captain Claret might have been guilty in the Neversink, perhaps
none of them proceeded from any personal, organic hard-
heartedness. What he was, the usages of the Navy had made him.
Had he been a mere landsman--a merchant, say--he would no doubt
have been considered a kind-hearted man.

There may be some who shall read of this Bartholomew Massacre of
beards who will yet marvel, perhaps, that the loss of a few hairs,
more or less, should provoke such hostility from the sailors, lash
them into so frothing a rage; indeed, come near breeding a mutiny.

But these circumstances are not without precedent. Not to speak
of the riots, attended with the loss of life, which once occurred
in Madrid, in resistance to an arbitrary edict of the king's,
seeking to suppress the cloaks of the Cavaliers; and, not to
make mention of other instances that might be quoted, it needs
only to point out the rage of the Saxons in the time of William
the Conqueror, when that despot commanded the hair on their upper
lips to be shaven off--the hereditary mustaches which whole
generations had sported. The multitude of the dispirited
vanquished were obliged to acquiesce; but many Saxon Franklins
and gentlemen of spirit, choosing rather to lose their castles
than their mustaches, voluntarily deserted their firesides, and
went into exile. All this is indignantly related by the stout
Saxon friar, Matthew Paris, in his _Historia Major_, beginning
with the Norman Conquest.

And that our man-of-war's-men were right in desiring to perpetuate
their beards, as martial appurtenances, must seem very plain, when
it is considered that, as the beard is the token of manhood, so,
in some shape or other, has it ever been held the true badge of a
warrior. Bonaparte's grenadiers were stout whiskerandoes; and perhaps,
in a charge, those fierce whiskers of theirs did as much to appall the
foe as the sheen of their bayonets. Most all fighting creatures sport
either whiskers or beards; it seems a law of Dame Nature. Witness the
boar, the tiger, the cougar, man, the leopard, the ram, the cat--all
warriors, and all whiskerandoes. Whereas, the peace-loving tribes
have mostly enameled chins.



The flogging of an old man like Ushant, most landsmen will
probably regard with abhorrence. But though, from peculiar
circumstances, his case occasioned a good deal of indignation
among the people of the Neversink, yet, upon its own proper
grounds, they did not denounce it. Man-of-war's-men are so
habituated to what landsmen would deem excessive cruelties, that
they are almost reconciled to inferior severities.

And here, though the subject of punishment in the Navy has been
canvassed in previous chapters, and though the thing is every way
a most unpleasant and grievous one to enlarge upon, and though I
painfully nerve myself to it while I write, a feeling of duty
compels me to enter upon a branch of the subject till now
undiscussed. I would not be like the man, who, seeing an outcast
perishing by the roadside, turned about to his friend, saying,
"Let us cross the way; my soul so sickens at this sight, that I
cannot endure it."

There are certain enormities in this man-of-war world that often
secure impunity by their very excessiveness. Some ignorant people
will refrain from permanently removing the cause of a deadly
malaria, for fear of the temporary spread of its offensiveness.
Let us not be of such. The more repugnant and repelling, the
greater the evil. Leaving our women and children behind, let us
freely enter this Golgotha.

Years ago there was a punishment inflicted in the English, and I
believe in the American Navy, called _keel-hauling_--a phrase
still employed by man-of-war's-men when they would express some
signal vengeance upon a personal foe. The practice still remains
in the French national marine, though it is by no means resorted
to so frequently as in times past. It consists of attaching
tackles to the two extremities of the main-yard, and passing the
rope under the ship's bottom. To one end of this rope the culprit
is secured; his own shipmates are then made to run him up and down,
first on this side, then on that--now scraping the ship's hull
under water--anon, hoisted, stunned and breathless, into the air.

But though this barbarity is now abolished from the English and
American navies, there still remains another practice which, if
anything, is even worse than _keel-hauling_. This remnant of the
Middle Ages is known in the Navy as "_flogging through the
fleet_." It is never inflicted except by authority of a court-
martial upon some trespasser deemed guilty of a flagrant offence.
Never, that I know of, has it been inflicted by an American man-
of-war on the home station. The reason, probably, is, that the
officers well know that such a spectacle would raise a mob in any
American seaport.

By XLI. of the Articles of War, a court-martial shall not "for any
one offence not capital," inflict a punishment beyond one hundred
lashes. In cases "not capital" this law may be, and has been, quoted
in judicial justification of the infliction of more than one hundred
lashes. Indeed, it would cover a thousand. Thus: One act of a sailor
may be construed into the commission of ten different transgressions,
for each of which he may be legally condemned to a hundred lashes, to
be inflicted without intermission. It will be perceived, that in any
case deemed "capital," a sailor under the above Article, may legally
be flogged to the death.

But neither by the Articles of War, nor by any other enactment of
Congress, is there any direct warrant for the extraordinary cruelty
of the mode in which punishment is inflicted, in cases of flogging
through the fleet. But as in numerous other instances, the incidental
aggravations of this penalty are indirectly covered by other clauses
in the Articles of War: one of which authorises the authorities of a
ship--in certain indefinite cases--to correct the guilty "_according
to the usages of the sea-service_."

One of these "usages" is the following:

All hands being called "to witness punishment" in the ship to which
the culprit belongs, the sentence of the court-martial condemning him
is read, when, with the usual solemnities, a portion of the punishment
is inflicted. In order that it shall not lose in severity by the
slightest exhaustion in the arm of the executioner, a fresh boatswain's
mate is called out at every dozen.

As the leading idea is to strike terror into the beholders, the
greatest number of lashes is inflicted on board the culprit's
own ship, in order to render him the more shocking spectacle to
the crews of the other vessels.

The first infliction being concluded, the culprit's shirt is
thrown over him; he is put into a boat--the Rogue's March being
played meanwhile--and rowed to the next ship of the squadron. All
hands of that ship are then called to man the rigging, and
another portion of the punishment is inflicted by the boatswain's
mates of that ship. The bloody shirt is again thrown over the seaman;
and thus he is carried through the fleet or squadron till the whole
sentence is inflicted.

In other cases, the launch--the largest of the boats--is rigged
with a platform (like a headsman's scaffold), upon which
halberds, something like those used in the English army, are
erected. They consist of two stout poles, planted upright. Upon
the platform stand a Lieutenant, a Surgeon a Master-at-arms, and
the executioners with their "cats." They are rowed through the
fleet, stopping at each ship, till the whole sentence is
inflicted, as before.

In some cases, the attending surgeon has professionally
interfered before the last lash has been given, alleging that
immediate death must ensue if the remainder should be administered
without a respite. But instead of humanely remitting the remaining
lashes, in a case like this, the man is generally consigned to his
cot for ten or twelve days; and when the surgeon officially reports
him capable of undergoing the rest of the sentence, it is forthwith
inflicted. Shylock must have his pound of flesh.

To say, that after being flogged through the fleet, the
prisoner's back is sometimes puffed up like a pillow; or to say
that in other cases it looks as if burned black before a roasting
fire; or to say that you may track him through the squadron by
the blood on the bulwarks of every ship, would only be saying
what many seamen have seen.

Several weeks, sometimes whole months, elapse before the sailor
is sufficiently recovered to resume his duties. During the
greater part of that interval he lies in the sick-bay, groaning
out his days and nights; and unless he has the hide and
constitution of a rhinoceros, he never is the man he was before,
but, broken and shattered to the marrow of his bones, sinks into
death before his time. Instances have occurred where he has
expired the day after the punishment. No wonder that the
Englishman, Dr. Granville--himself once a surgeon in the Navy--
declares, in his work on Russia, that the barbarian "knout"
itself is not a greater torture to undergo than the Navy cat-o'-

Some years ago a fire broke out near the powder magazine in an
American national ship, one of the squadron at anchor in the Bay
of Naples. The utmost alarm prevailed. A cry went fore and aft
that the ship was about to blow up. One of the seamen sprang
overboard in affright. At length the fire was got under, and the
man was picked up. He was tried before a court-martial, found
guilty of cowardice, and condemned to be flogged through the
fleet, In due time the squadron made sail for Algiers, and in
that harbour, once haunted by pirates, the punishment was
inflicted--the Bay of Naples, though washing the shores of an
absolute king, not being deemed a fit place for such an
exhibition of American naval law.

While the Neversink was in the Pacific, an American sailor, who
had deposited a vote for General Harrison for President of the
United States, was flogged through the fleet.



Bur the floggings at the gangway and the floggings through the
fleet, the stealings, highway robberies, swearings, gamblings,
blasphemings, thimble-riggings, smugglings, and tipplings of a
man-of-war, which throughout this narrative have been here and
there sketched from the life, by no means comprise the whole
catalogue of evil. One single feature is full of significance.

All large ships of war carry soldiers, called marines. In the
Neversink there was something less than fifty, two thirds of whom
were Irishmen. They were officered by a Lieutenant, an Orderly
Sergeant, two Sergeants, and two Corporals, with a drummer and
fifer. The custom, generally, is to have a marine to each gun;
which rule usually furnishes the scale for distributing the
soldiers in vessels of different force.

Our marines had no other than martial duty to perform; excepting
that, at sea, they stood watches like the sailors, and now and
then lazily assisted in pulling the ropes. But they never put
foot in rigging or hand in tar-bucket.

On the quarter-bills, these men were stationed at none of the
great guns; on the station-bills, they had no posts at the ropes.
What, then, were they for? To serve their country in time of
battle? Let us see. When a ship is running into action, her
marines generally lie flat on their faces behind the bulwarks
(the sailors are sometimes ordered to do the same), and when the
vessel is fairly engaged, they are usually drawn up in the ship's
waist--like a company reviewing in the Park. At close quarters,
their muskets may pick off a seaman or two in the rigging, but at
long-gun distance they must passively stand in their ranks and be
decimated at the enemy's leisure. Only in one case in ten--that
is, when their vessel is attempted to be boarded by a large
party, are these marines of any essential service as fighting
men; with their bayonets they are then called upon to "repel!"

If comparatively so useless as soldiers, why have marines at all
in the Navy? Know, then, that what standing armies are to nations,
what turnkeys are to jails, these marines are to the seamen in all
large men-of-war. Their muskets are their keys. With those muskets
they stand guard over the fresh water; over the grog, when doled;
over the provisions, when being served out by the Master's mate;
over the "brig" or jail; at the Commodore's and Captain's cabin
doors; and, in port, at both gangways and forecastle.

Surely, the crowd of sailors, who besides having so many sea-
officers over them, are thus additionally guarded by soldiers,
even when they quench their thirst--surely these man-of-war's-men
must be desperadoes indeed; or else the naval service must be so
tyrannical that the worst is feared from their possible
insubordination. Either reason holds good, or both, according to
the character of the officers and crew.

It must be evident that the man-of-war's-man casts but an evil
eye on a marine. To call a man a "horse-marine," is, among
seamen, one of the greatest terms of contempt.

But the mutual contempt, and even hatred, subsisting between
these two bodies of men--both clinging to one keel, both lodged
in one household--is held by most Navy officers as the height of
the perfection of Navy discipline. It is regarded as the button
that caps the uttermost point on their main-mast.

Thus they reason: Secure of this antagonism between the marine
and the sailor, we can always rely upon it, that if the sailor
mutinies, it needs no great incitement for the marine to thrust
his bayonet through his heart; if the marine revolts, the pike of
the sailor is impatient to charge. Checks and balances, blood
against blood, _that_ is the cry and the argument.

What applies to the relation in which the marine and sailor stand
toward each other--the mutual repulsion implied by a system of
checks--will, in degree, apply to nearly the entire interior of a
man-of-war's discipline. The whole body of this discipline is
emphatically a system of cruel cogs and wheels, systematically
grinding up in one common hopper all that might minister to the
moral well-being of the crew.

It is the same with both officers and men. If a Captain have a grudge
against a Lieutenant, or a Lieutenant against a midshipman, how easy to
torture him by official treatment, which shall not lay open the superior
officer to legal rebuke. And if a midshipman bears a grudge against a
sailor, how easy for him, by cunning practices, born of a boyish spite,
to have him degraded at the gangway. Through all the endless
ramifications of rank and station, in most men-of-war there runs a
sinister vein of bitterness, not exceeded by the fireside hatreds in
a family of stepsons ashore. It were sickening to detail all the paltry
irritabilities, jealousies, and cabals, the spiteful detractions and
animosities, that lurk far down, and cling to the very kelson of the
ship. It is unmanning to think of. The immutable ceremonies and iron
etiquette of a man-of-war; the spiked barriers separating the various
grades of rank; the delegated absolutism of authority on all hands; the
impossibility, on the part of the common seaman, of appeal from
incidental abuses, and many more things that might be enumerated, all
tend to beget in most armed ships a general social condition which is
the precise reverse of what any Christian could desire. And though
there are vessels, that in some measure furnish exceptions to this;
and though, in other ships, the thing may be glazed over by a guarded,
punctilious exterior, almost completely hiding the truth from casual
visitors, while the worst facts touching the common sailor are
systematically kept in the background, yet it is certain that what has
here been said of the domestic interior of a man-of-war will, in a
greater or less degree, apply to most vessels in the Navy. It is not
that the officers are so malevolent, nor, altogether, that the
man-of-war's-man is so vicious. Some of these evils are unavoidably
generated through the operation of the Naval code; others are absolutely
organic to a Navy establishment, and, like other organic evils, are
incurable, except when they dissolve with the body they live in.



"The gallows and the sea refuse nothing," is a very old sea
saying; and, among all the wondrous prints of Hogarth, there is
none remaining more true at the present day than that dramatic
boat-scene, where after consorting with harlots and gambling on
tomb-stones, the Idle Apprentice, with the villainous low
forehead, is at last represented as being pushed off to sea, with
a ship and a gallows in the distance. But Hogarth should have
converted the ship's masts themselves into Tyburn-trees, and
thus, with the ocean for a background, closed the career of his
hero. It would then have had all the dramatic force of the opera
of Don Juan, who, after running his impious courses, is swept
from our sight in a tornado of devils.

For the sea is the true Tophet and bottomless pit of many workers
of iniquity; and, as the German mystics feign Gehennas within
Gehennas, even so are men-of-war familiarly known among sailors
as "Floating Hells." And as the sea, according to old Fuller, is
the stable of brute monsters, gliding hither and thither in
unspeakable swarms, even so is it the home of many moral monsters,
who fitly divide its empire with the snake, the shark, and the worm.

Nor are sailors, and man-of-war's-men especially, at all blind to
a true sense of these things. "_Purser rigged and parish damned_,"
is the sailor saying in the American Navy, when the tyro first mounts
the lined frock and blue jacket, aptly manufactured for him in a
State Prison ashore.

No wonder, that lured by some _crimp_ into a service so galling,
and, perhaps, persecuted by a vindictive lieutenant, some
repentant sailors have actually jumped into the sea to escape
from their fate, or set themselves adrift on the wide ocean on
the gratings without compass or rudder.

In one case, a young man, after being nearly cut into dog's meat
at the gangway, loaded his pockets with shot and walked overboard.

Some years ago, I was in a whaling ship lying in a harbour of the
Pacific, with three French men-of-war alongside. One dark, moody
night, a suppressed cry was heard from the face of the waters,
and, thinking it was some one drowning, a boat was lowered, when
two French sailors were picked up, half dead from exhaustion, and
nearly throttled by a bundle of their clothes tied fast to their
shoulders. In this manner they had attempted their escape from
their vessel. When the French officers came in pursuit, these sailors,
rallying from their exhaustion, fought like tigers to resist being
captured. Though this story concerns a French armed ship, it is not
the less applicable, in degree, to those of other nations.

Mix with the men in an American armed ship, mark how many foreigners
there are, though it is against the law to enlist them. Nearly one
third of the petty officers of the Neversink were born east of the
Atlantic. Why is this? Because the same principle that operates in
hindering Americans from hiring themselves out as menial domestics also
restrains them, in a great measure, from voluntarily assuming a far
worse servitude in the Navy. "_Sailors wanted for the Navy_" is a common
announcement along the wharves of our sea-ports. They are always
"_wanted_." It may have been, in part, owing to this scarcity
man-of-war's men, that not many years ago, black slaves were frequently
to be found regularly enlisted with the crew of an American frigate,
their masters receiving their pay. This was in the teeth of a law of
Congress expressly prohibiting slaves in the Navy. This law, indirectly,
means black slaves, nothing being said concerning white ones. But in
view of what John Randolph of Roanoke said about the frigate that carried
him to Russia, and in view of what most armed vessels actually are at
present, the American Navy is not altogether an inappropriate place for
hereditary bondmen. Still, the circumstance of their being found in it
is of such a nature, that to some it may hardly appear credible. The
incredulity of such persons, nevertheless, must yield to the fact, that
on board of the United States ship Neversink, during the present cruise,
there was a Virginian slave regularly shipped as a seaman, his owner
receiving his wages. Guinea--such was his name among the crew--belonged
to the Purser, who was a Southern gentleman; he was employed as his body
servant. Never did I feel my condition as a man-of-war's-man so keenly
as when seeing this Guinea freely circulating about the decks in
citizen's clothes, and through the influence of his master, almost
entirely exempted from the disciplinary degradation of the Caucasian
crew. Faring sumptuously in the ward-room; sleek and round, his ebon
face fairly polished with content: ever gay and hilarious; ever ready
to laugh and joke, that African slave was actually envied by many of the
seamen. There were times when I almost envied him myself. Lemsford once
envied him outright, "Ah, Guinea!" he sighed, "you have peaceful times;
you never opened the book I read in."

One morning, when all hands were called to witness punishment,
the Purser's slave, as usual, was observed to be hurrying down
the ladders toward the ward-room, his face wearing that peculiar,
pinched blueness, which, in the negro, answers to the paleness
caused by nervous agitation in the white. "Where are you going,
Guinea?" cried the deck-officer, a humorous gentleman, who
sometimes diverted himself with the Purser's slave, and well
knew what answer he would now receive from him. "Where are you
going, Guinea?" said this officer; "turn about; don't you hear
the call, sir?" "'_Scuse_ me, massa!" said the slave, with a low
salutation; "I can't 'tand it; I can't, indeed, massa!" and, so
saying, he disappeared beyond the hatchway. He was the only
person on board, except the hospital-steward and the invalids of
the sick-bay, who was exempted from being present at the
administering of the scourge. Accustomed to light and easy duties
from his birth, and so fortunate as to meet with none but gentle
masters, Guinea, though a bondman, liable to be saddled with a
mortgage, like a horse--Guinea, in India-rubber manacles, enjoyed
the liberties of the world.

Though his body-and-soul proprietor, the Purser, never in any way
individualised me while I served on board the frigate, and never
did me a good office of any kind (it was hardly in his power),
yet, from his pleasant, kind, indulgent manner toward his slave,
I always imputed to him a generous heart, and cherished an
involuntary friendliness toward him. Upon our arrival home, his
treatment of Guinea, under circumstances peculiarly calculated
to stir up the resentment of a slave-owner, still more augmented
my estimation of the Purser's good heart.

Mention has been made of the number of foreigners in the American
Navy; but it is not in the American Navy alone that foreigners
bear so large a proportion to the rest of the crew, though in no
navy, perhaps, have they ever borne so large a proportion as in
our own. According to an English estimate, the foreigners serving
in the King's ships at one time amounted to one eighth of the
entire body of seamen. How it is in the French Navy, I cannot
with certainty say; but I have repeatedly sailed with English
seamen who have served in it.

One of the effects of the free introduction of foreigners into
any Navy cannot be sufficiently deplored. During the period I
lived in the Neversink, I was repeatedly struck by the lack of
patriotism in many of my shipmates. True, they were mostly
foreigners who unblushingly avowed, that were it not for the
difference of pay, they would as lief man the guns of an English
ship as those of an American or Frenchman. Nevertheless, it was
evident, that as for any high-toned patriotic feeling, there was
comparatively very little--hardly any of it--evinced by our
sailors as a body. Upon reflection, this was not to be wondered
at. From their roving career, and the sundering of all domestic
ties, many sailors, all the world over, are like the "Free
Companions," who some centuries ago wandered over Europe, ready
to fight the battles of any prince who could purchase their
swords. The only patriotism is born and nurtured in a stationary
home, and upon an immovable hearth-stone; but the man-of-war's-
man, though in his voyagings he weds the two Poles and brings
both Indies together, yet, let him wander where he will, he
carries his one only home along with him: that home is his
hammock. "_Born under a gun, and educated on the bowsprit_,"
according to a phrase of his own, the man-of-war-man rolls round
the world like a billow, ready to mix with any sea, or be sucked
down to death in the maelstrom of any war.

Yet more. The dread of the general discipline of a man-of-war;
the special obnoxiousness of the gangway; the protracted
confinement on board ship, with so few "liberty days;" and the
pittance of pay (much less than what can always be had in the
Merchant Service), these things contrive to deter from the
navies of all countries by far the majority of their best seamen.
This will be obvious, when the following statistical facts, taken
from Macpherson's Annals of Commerce, are considered. At one
period, upon the Peace Establishment, the number of men employed
in the English Navy was 25,000; at the same time, the English
Merchant Service was employing 118,952. But while the necessities
of a merchantman render it indispensable that the greater part of
her crew be able seamen, the circumstances of a man-of-war admit
of her mustering a crowd of landsmen, soldiers, and boys in her
service. By a statement of Captain Marryat's, in his pamphlet
(A. D. 1822) "On the Abolition of Impressment," it appears that,
at the close of the Bonaparte wars, a full third of all the crews
of his Majesty's fleets consisted of landsmen and boys.

Far from entering with enthusiasm into the king's ships when
their country were menaced, the great body of English seamen,
appalled at the discipline of the Navy, adopted unheard-of
devices to escape its press-gangs. Some even hid themselves in
caves, and lonely places inland, fearing to run the risk of
seeking a berth in an outward-bound merchantman, that might have
carried them beyond sea. In the true narrative of "John Nichol,
Mariner," published in 1822 by Blackwood in Edinburgh, and Cadell
in London, and which everywhere bears the spontaneous impress of
truth, the old sailor, in the most artless, touching, and almost
uncomplaining manner, tells of his "skulking like a thief" for
whole years in the country round about Edin-burgh, to avoid the
press-gangs, prowling through the land like bandits and Burkers.
At this time (Bonaparte's wars), according to "Steel's List,"
there were forty-five regular press-gang stations in Great

[FOOTNOTE-5] Besides this domestic kidnapping, British frigates, in
friendly or neutral harbours, in some instances pressed into
their service foreign sailors of all nations from the public
wharves. In certain cases, where Americans were concerned, when
"_protections_" were found upon their persons, these were
destroyed; and to prevent the American consul from claiming his
sailor countrymen, the press-gang generally went on shore the
night previous to the sailing of the frigate, so that the
kidnapped seamen were far out to sea before they could be missed
by their friends. These things should be known; for in case the
English government again goes to war with its fleets, and should
again resort to indiscriminate impressment to man them, it is well
that both Englishmen and Americans, that all the world be prepared
to put down an iniquity outrageous and insulting to God and man.

In a later instance, a large body of British seamen solemnly
assembled upon the eve of an anticipated war, and together
determined, that in case of its breaking out, they would at once
flee to America, to avoid being pressed into the service of their
country--a service which degraded her own guardians at the gangway.

At another time, long previous to this, according to an English
Navy officer, Lieutenant Tomlinson, three thousand seamen,
impelled by the same motive, fled ashore in a panic from the
colliers between Yarmouth Roads and the Nore. Elsewhere, he says,
in speaking of some of the men on board the king's ships, that
"they were most miserable objects." This remark is perfectly
corroborated by other testimony referring to another period. In
alluding to the lamented scarcity of good English seamen during
the wars of 1808, etc., the author of a pamphlet on "Naval
Subjects" says, that all the best seamen, the steadiest and best-
behaved men, generally succeeded in avoiding the impress. This
writer was, or had been, himself a Captain in the British fleet.

Now it may be easily imagined who are the men, and of what moral
character they are, who, even at the present day, are willing to
enlist as full-grown adults in a service so galling to all shore-
manhood as the Navy. Hence it comes that the skulkers and
scoundrels of all sorts in a man-of-war are chiefly composed not
of regular seamen, but of these "dock-lopers" of landsmen, men
who enter the Navy to draw their grog and murder their time in
the notorious idleness of a frigate. But if so idle, why not
reduce the number of a man-of-war's crew, and reasonably keep
employed the rest? It cannot be done. In the first place, the
magnitude of most of these ships requires a large number of hands
to brace the heavy yards, hoist the enormous top-sails, and
weigh the ponderous anchor. And though the occasion for the
employment of so many men comes but seldom, it is true, yet when
that occasion _does_ come--and come it may at any moment--this
multitude of men are indispensable.

But besides this, and to crown all, the batteries must be manned.
There must be enough men to work all the guns at one time. And
thus, in order to have a sufficiency of mortals at hand to "sink,
burn and destroy;" a man-of-war, through her vices, hopelessly
depraving the volunteer landsmen and ordinary seamen of good
habits, who occasionally enlist--must feed at the public cost a
multitude of persons, who, if they did not find a home in the
Navy, would probably fall on the parish, or linger out their days
in a prison.

Among others, these are the men into whose mouths Dibdin puts
his patriotic verses, full of sea-chivalry and romance. With an
exception in the last line, they might be sung with equal
propriety by both English and American man-of-war's-men.

     "As for me, in all weathers, all times, tides, and ends,
        Naught's a trouble from duty that springs;
      For my heart is my Poll's, and my rhino's my friends,
        And as for my life, it's the king's.

      To rancour unknown, to no passion a slave,
        Nor unmanly, nor mean, nor a railer," etc.

I do not unite with a high critical authority in considering
Dibdin's ditties as "slang songs," for most of them breathe the
very poetry of the ocean. But it is remarkable that those songs--
which would lead one to think that man-of-war's-men are the most
care-free, contented, virtuous, and patriotic of mankind--were
composed at a time when the English Navy was principally manned
by felons and paupers, as mentioned in a former chapter. Still
more, these songs are pervaded by a true Mohammedan sensualism; a
reckless acquiescence in fate, and an implicit, unquestioning,
dog-like devotion to whoever may be lord and master. Dibdin was a
man of genius; but no wonder Dibdin was a government pensioner
at L200 per annum.

But notwithstanding the iniquities of a man-of-war, men are to be
found in them, at times, so used to a hard life; so drilled and
disciplined to servitude, that, with an incomprehensible
philosophy, they seem cheerfully to resign themselves to their
fate. They have plenty to eat; spirits to drink; clothing to keep
them warm; a hammock to sleep in; tobacco to chew; a doctor to
medicine them; a parson to pray for them; and, to a penniless
castaway, must not all this seem as a luxurious Bill of Fare?

There was on board of the Neversink a fore-top-man by the name of
Landless, who, though his back was cross-barred, and plaided with
the ineffaceable scars of all the floggings accumulated by a
reckless tar during a ten years' service in the Navy, yet he
perpetually wore a hilarious face, and at joke and repartee was a
very Joe Miller.

That man, though a sea-vagabond, was not created in vain. He
enjoyed life with the zest of everlasting adolescence; and,
though cribbed in an oaken prison, with the turnkey sentries all
round him, yet he paced the gun-deck as if it were broad as a
prairie, and diversified in landscape as the hills and valleys of
the Tyrol. Nothing ever disconcerted him; nothing could transmute
his laugh into anything like a sigh. Those glandular secretions,
which in other captives sometimes go to the formation of tears, in
_him_ were expectorated from the mouth, tinged with the golden juice
of a weed, wherewith he solaced and comforted his ignominious days.

"Rum and tobacco!" said Landless, "what more does a sailor want?"

His favourite song was "_Dibdin's True English Sailor_," beginning,

     "Jack dances and sings, and is always content,
        In his vows to his lass he'll ne'er fail her;
      His anchor's atrip when his money's all spent,
        And this is the life of a sailor."

But poor Landless danced quite as often at the gangway, under the
lash, as in the sailor dance-houses ashore.

Another of his songs, also set to the significant tune of _The
King, God bless him!_ mustered the following lines among many
similar ones:

     "Oh, when safely landed in Boston or 'York,
        Oh how I will tipple and jig it;
      And toss off my glass while my rhino holds out,
        In drinking success to our frigate!"

During the many idle hours when our frigate was lying in harbour,
this man was either merrily playing at checkers, or mending his
clothes, or snoring like a trumpeter under the lee of the booms.
When fast asleep, a national salute from our batteries could
hardly move him. Whether ordered to the main-truck in a gale; or
rolled by the drum to the grog-tub; or commanded to walk up to
the gratings and be lashed, Landess always obeyed with the same
invincible indifference.

His advice to a young lad, who shipped with us at Valparaiso,
embodies the pith and marrow of that philosophy which enables
some man-of-war's-men to wax jolly in the service.

"_Shippy!_" said Landless, taking the pale lad by his neckerchief,
as if he had him by the halter; "Shippy, I've seen sarvice with
Uncle Sam--I've sailed in many _Andrew Millers_. Now take my advice,
and steer clear of all trouble. D'ye see, touch your tile whenever a
swob (officer) speaks to you. And never mind how much they rope's-end
you, keep your red-rag belayed; for you must know as how they don't
fancy sea-lawyers; and when the sarving out of slops comes round,
stand up to it stiffly; it's only an oh Lord! Or two, and a few oh my
Gods!--that's all. And what then? Why, you sleeps it off in a few
nights, and turn out at last all ready for your grog."

This Landless was a favourite with the officers, among whom he
went by the name of "_Happy Jack_." And it is just such Happy
Jacks as Landless that most sea-officers profess to admire; a
fellow without shame, without a soul, so dead to the least
dignity of manhood that he could hardly be called a man. Whereas,
a seaman who exhibits traits of moral sensitiveness, whose
demeanour shows some dignity within; this is the man they, in
many cases, instinctively dislike. The reason is, they feel such
a man to be a continual reproach to them, as being mentally
superior to their power. He has no business in a man-of-war; they
do not want such men. To them there is an insolence in his manly
freedom, contempt in his very carriage. He is unendurable, as an
erect, lofty-minded African would be to some slave-driving planter.

Let it not be supposed, however, that the remarks in this and the
preceding chapter apply to _all_ men-of-war. There are some
vessels blessed with patriarchal, intellectual Captains, gentlemanly
and brotherly officers, and docile and Christianised crews. The
peculiar usages of such vessels insensibly softens the tyrannical
rigour of the Articles of War; in them, scourging is unknown. To sail
in such ships is hardly to realise that you live under the martial
law, or that the evils above mentioned can anywhere exist.

And Jack Chase, old Ushant, and several more fine tars that might be
added, sufficiently attest, that in the Neversink at least, there was
more than one noble man-of-war's-man who almost redeemed all the rest.

Wherever, throughout this narrative, the American Navy, in any of
its bearings, has formed the theme of a general discussion,
hardly one syllable of admiration for what is accounted
illustrious in its achievements has been permitted to escape me.
The reason is this: I consider, that so far as what is called
military renown is concerned, the American Navy needs no eulogist
but History. It were superfluous for White-Jacket to tell the
world what it knows already. The office imposed upon me is of
another cast; and, though I foresee and feel that it may subject
me to the pillory in the hard thoughts of some men, yet,
supported by what God has given me, I tranquilly abide the event,
whatever it may prove.



There is a fable about a painter moved by Jove to the painting of
the head of Medusa. Though the picture was true to the life, yet
the poor artist sickened at the sight of what his forced pencil
had drawn. Thus, borne through my task toward the end, my own soul
now sinks at what I myself have portrayed. But let us forget
past chapters, if we may, while we paint less repugnant things.

Metropolitan gentlemen have their club; provincial gossipers
their news-room; village quidnuncs their barber's shop; the
Chinese their opium-houses; American Indians their council-fire;
and even cannibals their _Noojona_, or Talk-Stone, where they
assemble at times to discuss the affairs of the day. Nor is there
any government, however despotic, that ventures to deny to the
least of its subjects the privilege of a sociable chat. Not the
Thirty Tyrants even--the clubbed post-captains of old Athens--
could stop the wagging tongues at the street-corners. For chat
man must; and by our immortal Bill of Rights, that guarantees to
us liberty of speech, chat we Yankees will, whether on board a
frigate, or on board our own terra-firma plantations.

In men-of-war, the Galley, or Cookery, on the gun-deck, is the
grand centre of gossip and news among the sailors. Here crowds
assemble to chat away the half-hour elapsing after every meal.
The reason why this place and these hours are selected rather
than others is this: in the neighbourhood of the galley alone,
and only after meals, is the man-of-war's-man permitted to regale
himself with a smoke.

A sumptuary edict, truly, that deprived White-Jacket, for one, of
a luxury to which he had long been attached. For how can the
mystical motives, the capricious impulses of a luxurious smoker
go and come at the beck of a Commodore's command? No! when I
smoke, be it because of my sovereign good pleasure I choose so to
do, though at so unseasonable an hour that I send round the town
for a brasier of coals. What! smoke by a sun-dial? Smoke on
compulsion? Make a trade, a business, a vile recurring calling of
smoking? And, perhaps, when those sedative fumes have steeped you
in the grandest of reveries, and, circle over circle, solemnly
rises some immeasurable dome in your soul--far away, swelling and
heaving into the vapour you raise--as if from one Mozart's
grandest marches of a temple were rising, like Venus from the
sea--at such a time, to have your whole Parthenon tumbled about
your ears by the knell of the ship's bell announcing the
expiration of the half-hour for smoking! Whip me, ye Furies!
toast me in saltpetre! smite me, some thunderbolt! charge upon
me, endless squadrons of Mamalukes! devour me, Feejees! but
preserve me from a tyranny like this!

No! though I smoked like an Indian summer ere I entered the
Neversink, so abhorrent was this sumptuary law that I altogether
abandoned the luxury rather than enslave it to a time and a
place. Herein did I not right, Ancient and Honourable Old Guard
of Smokers all round the world?

But there were others of the crew not so fastidious as myself.
After every meal, they hied to the galley and solaced their souls
with a whiff.

Now a bunch of cigars, all banded together, is a type and a
symbol of the brotherly love between smokers. Likewise, for the
time, in a community of pipes is a community of hearts! Nor was
it an ill thing for the Indian Sachems to circulate their calumet
tobacco-bowl--even as our own forefathers circulated their punch-
bowl--in token of peace, charity, and good-will, friendly
feelings, and sympathising souls. And this it was that made the
gossipers of the galley so loving a club, so long as the vapoury
bond united them.

It was a pleasant sight to behold them. Grouped in the recesses
between the guns, they chatted and laughed like rows of
convivialists in the boxes of some vast dining-saloon. Take a
Flemish kitchen full of good fellows from Teniers; add a fireside
group from Wilkie; throw in a naval sketch from Cruickshank; and
then stick a short pipe into every mother's son's mouth, and you
have the smoking scene at the galley of the Neversink.

Not a few were politicians; and, as there were some thoughts of a
war with England at the time, their discussions waxed warm.

"I tell you what it is, _shippies!_" cried the old captain of gun
No. 1 on the forecastle, "if that 'ere President of ourn don't
luff up into the wind, by the Battle of the Nile! he'll be
getting us into a grand fleet engagement afore the Yankee nation
has rammed home her cartridges--let alone blowing the match!"

"Who talks of luffing?" roared a roystering fore-top-man. "Keep
our Yankee nation large before the wind, say I, till you come
plump on the enemy's bows, and then board him in the smoke," and
with that, there came forth a mighty blast from his pipe.

"Who says the old man at the helm of the Yankee nation can't
steer his _trick_ as well as George Washington himself?" cried a

"But they say he's a cold-water customer, Bill," cried another;
"and sometimes o' nights I somehow has a presentation that he's
goin' to stop our grog."

"D'ye hear there, fore and aft!" roared the boatswain's mate at
the gangway, "all hands tumble up, and 'bout ship!"

"That's the talk!" cried the captain of gun No. 1, as, in obedience
to the summons, all hands dropped their pipes and crowded toward
the ladders, "and that's what the President must do--go in stays,
my lads, and put the Yankee nation on the other tack."

But these political discussions by no means supplied the staple
of conversation for the gossiping smokers of the galley. The
interior affairs of the frigate itself formed their principal
theme. Rumours about the private life of the Commodore in his
cabin; about the Captain, in his; about the various officers in
the ward-room; about the _reefers_ in the steerage, and their
madcap frolickings, and about a thousand other matters touching
the crew themselves; all these--forming the eternally shifting,
domestic by-play of a man-of-war--proved inexhaustible topics for
our quidnuncs.

The animation of these scenes was very much heightened as we drew
nearer and nearer our port; it rose to a climax when the frigate
was reported to be only twenty-four hours' sail from the land.
What they should do when they landed; how they should invest their
wages; what they should eat; what they should drink; and what lass
they should marry--these were the topics which absorbed them.

"Sink the sea!" cried a forecastle man. "Once more ashore, and
you'll never again catch old Boombolt afloat. I mean to settle
down in a sail-loft."

"Cable-tier pinchers blister all tarpaulin hats!" cried a young
after-guard's-man; "I mean to go back to the counter."

"Shipmates! take me by the arms, and swab up the lee-scuppers
with me, but I mean to steer a clam-cart before I go again to a
ship's wheel. Let the Navy go by the board--to sea again, I won't!"

"Start my soul-bolts, maties, if any more Blue Peters and sailing
signals fly at my fore!" cried the Captain of the Head. "My wages
will buy a wheelbarrow, if nothing more."

"I have taken my last dose of salts," said the Captain of the
Waist, "and after this mean to stick to fresh water. Ay, maties,
ten of us Waisters mean to club together and buy a _serving-
mallet boat_, d'ye see; and if ever we drown, it will be in the
'raging canal!' Blast the sea, shipmates! say I."

"Profane not the holy element!" said Lemsford, the poet of the
gun-deck, leaning over a cannon. "Know ye not, man-of-war's-men!
that by the Parthian magi the ocean was held sacred? Did not
Tiridates, the Eastern monarch, take an immense land circuit to
avoid desecrating the Mediterranean, in order to reach his
imperial master, Nero, and do homage for his crown?"

"What lingo is that?" cried the Captain of the Waist.

"Who's Commodore Tiddery-eye?" cried the forecastle-man.

"Hear me out," resumed Lemsford. "Like Tiridates, I venerate the
sea, and venerate it so highly, shipmates, that evermore I shall
abstain from crossing it. In _that_ sense, Captain of the Waist,
I echo your cry."

It was, indeed, a remarkable fact, that nine men out of every ten
of the Neversink's crew had formed some plan or other to keep
themselves ashore for life, or, at least, on fresh water, after
the expiration of the present cruise. With all the experiences of
that cruise accumulated in one intense recollection of a moment;
with the smell of tar in their nostrils; out of sight of land;
with a stout ship under foot, and snuffing the ocean air; with
all the things of the sea surrounding them; in their cool, sober
moments of reflection; in the silence and solitude of the deep,
during the long night-watches, when all their holy home
associations were thronging round their hearts; in the
spontaneous piety and devotion of the last hours of so long a
voyage; in the fullness and the frankness of their souls; when
there was naught to jar the well-poised equilibrium of their
judgment--under all these circumstances, at least nine tenths of
a crew of five hundred man-of-war's-men resolved for ever to turn
their backs on the sea. But do men ever hate the thing they love?
Do men forswear the hearth and the homestead? What, then, must
the Navy be?

But, alas for the man-of-war's-man, who, though he may take a
Hannibal oath against the service; yet, cruise after cruise, and
after forswearing it again and again, he is driven back to the
spirit-tub and the gun-deck by his old hereditary foe, the ever-
devilish god of grog.

On this point, let some of the crew of the Neversink be called to
the stand.

You, Captain of the Waist! and you, seamen of the fore-top! and
you, after-guard's-men and others! how came you here at the guns
of the North Carolina, after registering your solemn vows at the
galley of the Neversink?

They all hang their heads. I know the cause; poor fellows!
perjure yourselves not again; swear not at all hereafter.

Ay, these very tars--the foremost in denouncing the Navy; who had
bound themselves by the most tremendous oaths--these very men,
not three days after getting ashore, were rolling round the
streets in penniless drunkenness; and next day many of them were
to be found on board of the _guardo_ or receiving-ship. Thus, in
part, is the Navy manned.

But what was still more surprising, and tended to impart a new
and strange insight into the character of sailors, and overthrow
some long-established ideas concerning them as a class, was this:
numbers of men who, during the cruise, had passed for exceedingly
prudent, nay, parsimonious persons, who would even refuse you a
patch, or a needleful of thread, and, from their stinginess,
procured the name of _Ravelings_--no sooner were these men fairly
adrift in harbour, and under the influence of frequent quaffings,
than their three-years'-earned wages flew right and left; they
summoned whole boarding-houses of sailors to the bar, and treated
them over and over again. Fine fellows! generous-hearted tars!
Seeing this sight, I thought to myself, Well, these generous-hearted
tars on shore were the greatest curmudgeons afloat! it's the bottle
that's generous, not they! Yet the popular conceit concerning a sailor
is derived from his behaviour ashore; whereas, ashore he is no longer
a sailor, but a landsman for the time. A man-of-war's-man is only a
man-of-war's-man at sea; and the sea is the place to learn what he is.
But we have seen that a man-of-war is but this old-fashioned world of
ours afloat, full of all manner of characters--full of strange
contradictions; and though boasting some fine fellows here and there,
yet, upon the whole, charged to the combings of her hatchways with
the spirit of Belial and all unrighteousness.



Already has White-Jacket chronicled the mishaps and inconveniences,
troubles and tribulations of all sorts brought upon him by that
unfortunate but indispensable garment of his. But now it befalls
him to record how this jacket, for the second and last time, came
near proving his shroud.

Of a pleasant midnight, our good frigate, now somewhere off the Capes
of Virginia, was running on bravely, when the breeze, gradually dying,
left us slowly gliding toward our still invisible port.

Headed by Jack Chase, the quarter-watch were reclining in the top,
talking about the shore delights into which they intended to plunge,
while our captain often broke in with allusions to similar
conversations when he was on board the English line-of-battle ship,
the Asia, drawing nigh to Portsmouth, in England, after the battle
of Navarino.

Suddenly an order was given to set the main-top-gallant-stun'-sail,
and the halyards not being rove, Jack Chase assigned to me that duty.
Now this reeving of the halyards of a main-top-gallant-stun'-sail is a
business that eminently demands sharpsightedness, skill, and celerity.

Consider that the end of a line, some two hundred feet long, is
to be carried aloft, in your teeth, if you please, and dragged
far out on the giddiest of yards, and after being wormed and
twisted about through all sorts of intricacies--turning abrupt
corners at the abruptest of angles--is to be dropped, clear of
all obstructions, in a straight plumb-line right down to the
deck. In the course of this business, there is a multitude of
sheeve-holes and blocks, through which you must pass it; often
the rope is a very tight fit, so as to make it like threading a
fine cambric needle with rather coarse thread. Indeed, it is a
thing only deftly to be done, even by day. Judge, then, what it
must be to be threading cambric needles by night, and at sea,
upward of a hundred feet aloft in the air.

With the end of the line in one hand, I was mounting the top-mast
shrouds, when our Captain of the Top told me that I had better
off jacket; but though it was not a very cold night, I had been
reclining so long in the top, that I had become somewhat chilly,
so I thought best not to comply with the hint.

Having reeved the line through all the inferior blocks, I went
out with it to the end of the weather-top-gallant-yard-arm, and
was in the act of leaning over and passing it through the
suspended jewel-block there, when the ship gave a plunge in the
sudden swells of the calm sea, and pitching me still further over
the yard, threw the heavy skirts of my jacket right over my head,
completely muffling me. Somehow I thought it was the sail that
had flapped, and, under that impression, threw up my hands to
drag it from my head, relying upon the sail itself to support me
meanwhile. Just then the ship gave another sudden jerk, and,
head-foremost, I pitched from the yard. I knew where I was, from
the rush of the air by my ears, but all else was a nightmare. A
bloody film was before my eyes, through which, ghost-like, passed
and repassed my father, mother, and sisters. An utterable nausea
oppressed me; I was conscious of gasping; there seemed no breath
in my body. It was over one hundred feet that I fell--down, down,
with lungs collapsed as in death. Ten thousand pounds of shot
seemed tied to my head, as the irresistible law of gravitation
dragged me, head foremost and straight as a die, toward the
infallible centre of this terraqueous globe. All I had seen, and
read, and heard, and all I had thought and felt in my life,
seemed intensified in one fixed idea in my soul. But dense as
this idea was, it was made up of atoms. Having fallen from the
projecting yard-arm end, I was conscious of a collected
satisfaction in feeling, that I should not be dashed on the deck,
but would sink into the speechless profound of the sea.

With the bloody, blind film before my eyes, there was a still
stranger hum in my head, as if a hornet were there; and I thought
to myself, Great God! this is Death! Yet these thoughts were
unmixed with alarm. Like frost-work that flashes and shifts its
scared hues in the sun, all my braided, blended emotions were in
themselves icy cold and calm.

So protracted did my fall seem, that I can even now recall the
feeling of wondering how much longer it would be, ere all was
over and I struck. Time seemed to stand still, and all the worlds
seemed poised on their poles, as I fell, soul-becalmed, through
the eddying whirl and swirl of the maelstrom air.

At first, as I have said, I must have been precipitated head-
foremost; but I was conscious, at length, of a swift, flinging
motion of my limbs, which involuntarily threw themselves out, so
that at last I must have fallen in a heap. This is more likely,
from the circumstance, that when I struck the sea, I felt as if
some one had smote me slantingly across the shoulder and along
part of my right side.

As I gushed into the sea, a thunder-boom sounded in my ear; my
soul seemed flying from my mouth. The feeling of death flooded
over me with the billows. The blow from the sea must have turned
me, so that I sank almost feet foremost through a soft, seething
foamy lull. Some current seemed hurrying me away; in a trance I
yielded, and sank deeper down with a glide. Purple and pathless
was the deep calm now around me, flecked by summer lightnings in
an azure afar. The horrible nausea was gone; the bloody, blind
film turned a pale green; I wondered whether I was yet dead, or
still dying. But of a sudden some fashionless form brushed my
side--some inert, coiled fish of the sea; the thrill of being
alive again tingled in my nerves, and the strong shunning of
death shocked me through.

For one instant an agonising revulsion came over me as I found
myself utterly sinking. Next moment the force of my fall was
expanded; and there I hung, vibrating in the mid-deep. What wild
sounds then rang in my ear! One was a soft moaning, as of low
waves on the beach; the other wild and heartlessly jubilant, as
of the sea in the height of a tempest. Oh soul! thou then heardest
life and death: as he who stands upon the Corinthian shore hears
both the Ionian and the Aegean waves. The life-and-death poise
soon passed; and then I found myself slowly ascending, and caught
a dim glimmering of light.

Quicker and quicker I mounted; till at last I bounded up like a
buoy, and my whole head was bathed in the blessed air.

I had fallen in a line with the main-mast; I now found myself
nearly abreast of the mizzen-mast, the frigate slowly gliding by
like a black world in the water. Her vast hull loomed out of the
night, showing hundreds of seamen in the hammock-nettings, some
tossing over ropes, others madly flinging overboard the hammocks;
but I was too far out from them immediately to reach what they
threw. I essayed to swim toward the ship; but instantly I was
conscious of a feeling like being pinioned in a feather-bed, and,
moving my hands, felt my jacket puffed out above my tight girdle
with water. I strove to tear it off; but it was looped together
here and there, and the strings were not then to be sundered by
hand. I whipped out my knife, that was tucked at my belt, and
ripped my jacket straight up and down, as if I were ripping open
myself. With a violent struggle I then burst out of it, and was
free. Heavily soaked, it slowly sank before my eyes.

Sink! sink! oh shroud! thought I; sink forever! accursed jacket
that thou art!

"See that white shark!" cried a horrified voice from the
taffrail; "he'll have that man down his hatchway! Quick! the
_grains!_ the _grains!_"

The next instant that barbed bunch of harpoons pierced through
and through the unfortunate jacket, and swiftly sped down with it
out of sight.

Being now astern of the frigate, I struck out boldly toward the
elevated pole of one of the life-buoys which had been cut away.
Soon after, one of the cutters picked me up. As they dragged me
out of the water into the air, the sudden transition of elements
made my every limb feel like lead, and I helplessly sunk into the
bottom of the boat.

Ten minutes after, I was safe on board, and, springing aloft, was
ordered to reeve anew the stun'-sail-halyards, which, slipping
through the blocks when I had let go the end, had unrove and
fallen to the deck.

The sail was soon set; and, as if purposely to salute it, a gentle
breeze soon came, and the Neversink once more glided over the water,
a soft ripple at her bows, and leaving a tranquil wake behind.



And now that the white jacket has sunk to the bottom of the sea,
and the blessed Capes of Virginia are believed to be broad on our
bow--though still out of sight--our five hundred souls are fondly
dreaming of home, and the iron throats of the guns round the
galley re-echo with their songs and hurras--what more remains?

Shall I tell what conflicting and almost crazy surmisings
prevailed concerning the precise harbour for which we were bound?
For, according to rumour, our Commodore had received sealed
orders touching that matter, which were not to be broken open
till we gained a precise latitude of the coast. Shall I tell how,
at last, all this uncertainty departed, and many a foolish
prophecy was proved false, when our noble frigate--her longest
pennant at her main--wound her stately way into the innermost
harbour of Norfolk, like a plumed Spanish Grandee threading the
corridors of the Escurial toward the throne-room within? Shall I
tell how we kneeled upon the holy soil? How I begged a blessing
of old Ushant, and one precious hair of his beard for a keepsake?
How Lemsford, the gun-deck bard, offered up a devout ode as a
prayer of thanksgiving? How saturnine Nord, the magnifico in
disguise, refusing all companionship, stalked off into the
woods, like the ghost of an old Calif of Bagdad? How I swayed and
swung the hearty hand of Jack Chase, and nipped it to mine with a
Carrick bend; yea, and kissed that noble hand of my liege lord
and captain of my top, my sea-tutor and sire?

Shall I tell how the grand Commodore and Captain drove off from
the pier-head? How the Lieutenants, in undress, sat down to their
last dinner in the ward-room, and the champagne, packed in ice,
spirted and sparkled like the Hot Springs out of a snow-drift in
Iceland? How the Chaplain went off in his cassock, without
bidding the people adieu? How shrunken Cuticle, the Surgeon,
stalked over the side, the wired skeleton carried in his wake by
his cot-boy? How the Lieutenant of Marines sheathed his sword on
the poop, and, calling for wax and a taper, sealed the end of the
scabbard with his family crest and motto--_Denique Coelum?_ How
the Purser in due time mustered his money-bags, and paid us all
off on the quarter-deck--good and bad, sick and well, all receiving
their wages; though, truth to tell, some reckless, improvident
seamen, who had lived too fast during the cruise, had little or
nothing now standing on the credit side of their Purser's accounts?

Shall I tell of the Retreat of the Five Hundred inland; not, alas! in
battle-array, as at quarters, but scattered broadcast over the land?

Shall I tell how the Neversink was at last stripped of spars, shrouds,
and sails--had her guns hoisted out--her powder-magazine, shot-lockers,
and armouries discharged--till not one vestige of a fighting thing was
left in her, from furthest stem to uttermost stern?

No! let all this go by; for our anchor still hangs from our bows,
though its eager flukes dip their points in the impatient waves.
Let us leave the ship on the sea--still with the land out of
sight--still with brooding darkness on the face of the deep. I
love an indefinite, infinite background--a vast, heaving,
rolling, mysterious rear!

It is night. The meagre moon is in her last quarter--that
betokens the end of a cruise that is passing. But the stars look
forth in their everlasting brightness--and _that_ is the
everlasting, glorious Future, for ever beyond us.

We main-top-men are all aloft in the top; and round our mast we
circle, a brother-band, hand in hand, all spliced together. We
have reefed the last top-sail; trained the last gun; blown the
last match; bowed to the last blast; been tranced in the last
calm. We have mustered our last round the capstan; been rolled to
grog the last time; for the last time swung in our hammocks; for
the last time turned out at the sea-gull call of the watch. We
have seen our last man scourged at the gangway; our last man gasp
out the ghost in the stifling Sick-bay; our last man tossed to
the sharks. Our last death-denouncing Article of War has been read;
and far inland, in that blessed clime whither-ward our frigate
now glides, the last wrong in our frigate will be remembered
no more; when down from our main-mast comes our Commodore's
pennant, when down sinks its shooting stars from the sky.

"By the mark, nine!" sings the hoary old leadsman, in the chains.
And thus, the mid-world Equator passed, our frigate strikes
soundings at last.

Hand in hand we top-mates stand, rocked in our Pisgah top. And
over the starry waves, and broad out into the blandly blue and
boundless night, spiced with strange sweets from the long-sought
land--the whole long cruise predestinated ours, though often in
tempest-time we almost refused to believe in that far-distant
shore--straight out into that fragrant night, ever-noble Jack
Chase, matchless and unmatchable Jack Chase stretches forth his
bannered hand, and, pointing shoreward, cries: "For the last
time, hear Camoens, boys!"

     "How calm the waves, how mild the balmy gale!
      The Halcyons call, ye Lusians spread the sail!
      Appeased, old Ocean now shall rage no more;
      Haste, point our bowsprit for yon shadowy shore.
      Soon shall the transports of your natal soil
      O'erwhelm in bounding joy the thoughts of every toil."

                *     *     *     *     *


As a man-of-war that sails through the sea, so this earth that
sails through the air. We mortals are all on board a fast-sailing,
never-sinking world-frigate, of which God was the shipwright; and
she is but one craft in a Milky-Way fleet, of which God is the Lord
High Admiral. The port we sail from is for ever astern. And though
far out of sight of land, for ages and ages we continue to sail with
sealed orders, and our last destination remains a secret to ourselves
and our officers; yet our final haven was predestinated ere we slipped
from the stocks at Creation.

Thus sailing with sealed orders, we ourselves are the repositories
of the secret packet, whose mysterious contents we long to learn.
There are no mysteries out of ourselves. But let us not give ear
to the superstitious, gun-deck gossip about whither we may be
gliding, for, as yet, not a soul on board of us knows--not even
the Commodore himself; assuredly not the Chaplain; even our
Professor's scientific surmisings are vain. On that point,
the smallest cabin-boy is as wise as the Captain. And believe
not the hypochondriac dwellers below hatches, who will tell you,
with a sneer, that our world-frigate is bound to no final harbour
whatever; that our voyage will prove an endless circumnavigation
of space. Not so. For how can this world-frigate prove our eventual
abiding place, when upon our first embarkation, as infants in arms,
her violent rolling--in after life unperceived--makes every soul of
us sea-sick? Does not this show, too, that the very air we here
inhale is uncongenial, and only becomes endurable at last through
gradual habituation, and that some blessed, placid haven, however
remote at present, must be in store for us all?

Glance fore and aft our flush decks. What a swarming crew! All
told, they muster hard upon eight hundred millions of souls. Over
these we have authoritative Lieutenants, a sword-belted Officer
of Marines, a Chaplain, a Professor, a Purser, a Doctor, a Cook,
a Master-at-arms.

Oppressed by illiberal laws, and partly oppressed by themselves,
many of our people are wicked, unhappy, inefficient. We have
skulkers and idlers all round, and brow-beaten waisters, who, for
a pittance, do our craft's shabby work. Nevertheless, among our
people we have gallant fore, main, and mizzen top-men aloft, who,
well treated or ill, still trim our craft to the blast.

We have a _brig_ for trespassers; a bar by our main-mast, at
which they are arraigned; a cat-o'-nine-tails and a gangway, to
degrade them in their own eyes and in ours. These are not always
employed to convert Sin to Virtue, but to divide them, and
protect Virtue and legalised Sin from unlegalised Vice.

We have a Sick-bay for the smitten and helpless, whither we hurry
them out of sight, and however they may groan beneath hatches, we
hear little of their tribulations on deck; we still sport our gay
streamer aloft. Outwardly regarded, our craft is a lie; for all
that is outwardly seen of it is the clean-swept deck, and oft-painted
planks comprised above the waterline; whereas, the vast mass of our
fabric, with all its storerooms of secrets, for ever slides along
far under the surface.

When a shipmate dies, straightway we sew him up, and overboard he
goes; our world-frigate rushes by, and never more do we behold
him again; though, sooner or later, the everlasting under-tow
sweeps him toward our own destination.

We have both a quarter-deck to our craft and a gun-deck;
subterranean shot-lockers and gunpowder magazines; and the
Articles of War form our domineering code.

Oh, shipmates and world-mates, all round! we the people suffer
many abuses. Our gun-deck is full of complaints. In vain from
Lieutenants do we appeal to the Captain; in vain--while on board
our world-frigate--to the indefinite Navy Commissioners, so far
out of sight aloft. Yet the worst of our evils we blindly inflict
upon ourselves; our officers cannot remove them, even if they
would. From the last ills no being can save another; therein each
man must be his own saviour. For the rest, whatever befall us,
let us never train our murderous guns inboard; let us not mutiny
with bloody pikes in our hands. Our Lord High Admiral will yet
interpose; and though long ages should elapse, and leave our
wrongs unredressed, yet, shipmates and world-mates! let us never
forget, that,

     Whoever afflict us, whatever surround,
     Life is a voyage that's homeward-bound!


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