"What, the Dominie?" replied I, from old Tom's description.
"His name did begin with a D, but that wasn't it."
"Yes, that's nearer; he's to be a passenger on board of us, going down to see a friend who's very ill. Now, Tom, my hearty, bring out the crockery, for I want a little inside lining."
We all sat down to our breakfast, and as soon as old Tom had finished, his son called for the history of Sam Bowles.
"Well, now you shall have it. Sam Bowles was a shipmate of mine on board of the Greenlandman; he was one of our best harpooners, and a good, quiet, honest messmate as ever slung a hammock. He was spliced to as pretty a piece of flesh as ever was seen, but she wasn't as good as she was pretty. We were fitting out for another voyage, and his wife had been living on board with him some weeks, for Sam was devilish spoony on her, and couldn't bear her to be out of his sight. As we 'spected to sail in a few days, we were filling up our complement of men, and fresh hands came on board every day.
"One morning, a fine tall fellow, with a tail as thick as a hawser, came on board and offered himself; he was taken by the skipper, and went on shore again to get his traps. While he was still on deck I went below, and seeing Sam with his little wife on his knee playing with his love-locks, I said that there was a famous stout and good-looking fellow that we should have as a shipmate. Sam's wife, who, like all women, was a little curious, put her head up the hatchway to look at him. She put it down again very quick, as I thought, and made some excuse to go forward in the eyes of her, where she remained some time, and then, when she came aft, told Sam that she would go on shore. Now, as it had been agreed that she should remain on board till we were clear of the river, Sam couldn't think what the matter was; but she was positive, and go away she did, very much to Sam's astonishment and anger. In the evening, Sam went on shore and found her out, and what d'ye think the little Jezebel told him?—why, that one of the men had been rude to her when she went forward, and that's why she wouldn't stay on board. Sam was in a devil of a passion at this, and wanted to know which was the man; but she fondled him, and wouldn't tell him, because she was afraid that he'd be hurt. At last she bamboozled him, and sent him on board again quite content. Well, we remained three days longer, and then dropped down the river to Greenwich, where the captain was to come on board, and we were to sail as soon as the wind was fair. Now, this fine tall fellow was with us when we dropped down the river, and as Sam was sitting down on his chest eating a basin o' soup, the other man takes out a 'baccy pouch of seal-skin;—it was a very curious one, made out of the white and spotted part of a young seal's belly. 'I say, shipmate,' cries Sam, 'hand me over my 'baccy pouch. Where did you pick it up?'
"'Your pouch!' says he to him; 'I killed the seal, and my fancy girl made the pouch for me.'
"'Well, if that ain't cool! you'd swear a man out of his life, mate. Tom,' says he to me, 'ain't that my pouch which my wife gave me when I came back last trip?'
"I looked at it, and knew it again, and said it was. The tall fellow denied it, and there was a devil of a bobbery. Sam called him a thief, and he pitched Sam right down the main hatchway among the casks. After that there was a regular set-to, and Sam was knocked all to shivers, and obliged to give in. When the fight was over, I took up Sam's shirt for him to put on. 'That's my shirt,' cried the tall fellow.
"'That's Sam's shirt,' replied I; 'I know it's his.'
"'I tell you it's mine,' replied the man; 'my lass gave it to me to put on when I got up this morning. The other is his shirt.'
"We looked at the other, and they both were Sam's shirts. Now when Sam heard this, he put two and two together, and became very jealous and uneasy: he thought it odd that his wife was so anxious to leave the ship when this tall fellow came on board; and what with the pouch and the shirt he was puzzled. His wife had promised to come down to Greenwich and see him off. When we anchored, some of the men went on shore—among others the tall fellow. Sam, whose head was swelled up like a pumpkin, told one of his shipmates to say to his wife that he could not come on shore, and that she must come off to him. Well, it was about nine o'clock, dark, and all the stars were twinkling, when Sam says to me, 'Tom, let's go on shore; my black eyes can't be seen in the dark.' As we hauled up the boat, the second mate told Sam to take his harpoon-iron on shore for him, to have the hole for the becket punched larger. Away we went, and the first place, of course, that Sam went to, was the house where he knew that his wife put up at, as before. He went upstairs to her room, and I followed him. The door was not made fast, and in we went. There was his little devil of a wife, fast asleep in the arms of the tall fellow. Sam couldn't command his rage, and having the harpoon-iron in his hand, he drove it right through the tall fellow's body before I could prevent him. It was a dreadful sight: the man groaned, and his head fell over the side of the bed. Sam's wife screamed, and made Sam more wroth by throwing herself on the man's body, and weeping over it. Sam would have pulled out the iron to run her through with, but that was impossible. The noise brought up the people of the house, and it was soon known that murder had been committed. The constable came, Sam was thrown into prison, and I went on board and told the whole story. Well, we were just about to heave up, for we had shipped two more men in place of Sam, who was to be tried for his life, and the poor fellow he had killed, when a lawyer chap came on board with what they call a suppeny for me; all I know is, that the lawyer pressed me into his service, and I lost my voyage. I was taken on shore, and well fed till the trial came on. Poor Sam was at the bar for murder. The gentleman in his gown and wig began his yarn, stating that how the late fellow, whose name was Will Errol, was with his own wife when Sam harpooned him.
"'That's a lie!' cried Sam; 'he was with my wife. False papers! Here are mine;' and he pulled out his tin case, and handed them to the court.
"The judge said that this was not the way to try people and that Sam must hold his tongue; so the trial went on, and at first they had it all their own way. Then our turn came, and I was called up to prove what had passed, and I stated how the man was with Sam's wife, and how he, having the harpoon-iron in his hand, had run it through his body. Then they compared the certificates, and it was proved that the little Jezebel had married them both; but she had married Sam first, so he had the most right to her; but fancying the other man afterwards, she thought she might as well have two strings to her bow. So the judge declared that she was Sam's wife, and that any man, even without the harpoon in his hand, would be justified in killing a man whom he found in bed with his own wife. So Sam went scot-free; but the judge wouldn't let off Sam's wife, as she had caused murder by her wicked conduct; he tried her a'terwards for biggery, as they call it, and sent her over the water for life. Sam never held up his head a'terwards; what with having killed an innocent man, and the 'haviour of his wife, he was always down. He went out to the fishery, and a whale cut the boat in two with her tail; Sam was stunned, and went down like a stone. So you see the mischief brought about by this little Jezebel, who must have two husbands, and be damned to her."
"Well, that's a good yarn, father," said Tom, as soon as it was finished. "I was right in saying I would hear it. Wasn't I?"
"No," replied old Tom, putting out his large hand, and seizing his son by the collar; "and now you've put me in mind of it, I'll pay you off for old scores."
"Lord love you, father, you don't owe me anything," said Tom.
"Yes, I do; and now I'll give you a receipt in full."
"O Lord! they'll be drowned," screamed Tom, holding up both his hands with every symptom of terror.
Old Tom turned short round to look in the direction, letting go his hold. Tom made his escape, and burst out a-laughing. I laughed also, and so at last did his father.
I went on shore, and found that old Tom's report was correct—the Dominie was at breakfast with Mr Drummond. The new usher had charge of the boys, and the governors had allowed him a fortnight's holiday to visit an old friend at Greenwich. To save expense, as well as to indulge his curiosity, the old man had obtained a passage down in the lighter. "Never yet, Jacob, have I put my feet into that which floateth on the watery element," observed he to me; "nor would I now, but that it saveth money, which thou knowest well is with me not plentiful. Many dangers I expect, many perils shall I encounter; such have I read of in books; and well might Horace exclaim—'Ille robur et aes triplex,' with reference to the first man who ventured afloat. Still doth Mr Drummond assure me that the lighter is of that strength as to be able to resist the force of the winds and waves; and, confiding in Providence, I intend to venture, Jacob, 'te duce.'"
"Nay, sir," replied I, laughing at the idea which the Dominie appeared to have formed of the dangers of river navigation, "old Tom is the Dux."
"Old Tom; where have I seen that name? Now I do recall to mind that I have seen the name painted in large letters upon a cask at the tavern bar of the inn at Brentford; but what it did intend to signify I did not inquire. What connection is there?"
"None," replied I; "but I rather think they are very good friends. The tide turns in half-an-hour, sir; are you ready to go on board?"
"Truly am I, and well prepared, having my habiliments in a bundle, my umbrella and my great-coat, as well as my spencer for general wear. But where I am to sleep hath not yet been made known to me. Peradventure one sleepeth not—'tanto in periculo.'"
"Yes, sir, we do. You shall have my berth, and I'll turn in with young Tom."
"Hast thou, then, a young Tom as well as an old Tom on board?"
"Yes, sir; and a dog, also, of the name of Tommy."
"Well, then, we will embark, and thou shalt make me known to this triad of Thomases. 'Inde Tomos dictus locus est.' (Cluck, cluck.) Ovid, I thank thee."
MUCH LEARNING AFLOAT—YOUNG TOM IS VERY LIVELY UPON THE DEAD LANGUAGES— THE DOMINIE, AFTER EXPERIENCING THE WONDERS OF THE MIGHTY DEEP, PREPARES TO REVEL UPON LOBSCOUSE—THOUGH THE MAN OF LEARNING GETS MANY SONGS AND SOME YARNS FROM OLD TOM, HE LOSES THE BEST PART OF A TALE WITHOUT KNOWING IT.
The old Dominie's bundle and other paraphernalia being sent on board, he took farewell of Mr Drummond and his family in so serious a manner, that I was convinced that he considered he was about to enter upon a dangerous adventure, and then I led him down to the wharf where the lighter lay alongside. It was with some trepidation that he crossed the plank, and got on board, when he recovered himself and looked round.
"My sarvice to you, old gentleman," said a voice behind the Dominie. It was that of old Tom, who had just come from the cabin. The Dominie turned round, and perceived old Tom.
"This is old Tom, sir," said I to the Dominie, who stared with astonishment.
"Art thou, indeed? Jacob, thou didst not tell me that he had been curtailed of his fair proportions, and I was surprised. Art thou then Dux?" continued the Dominie, addressing old Tom.
"Yes," interrupted young Tom, who had come from forward, "he is ducks, because he waddles on his short stumps; and I won't say who be goose. Eh, father?"
"Take care you don't buy goose, for your imperance, sir," cried old Tom.
"A forward boy," exclaimed the Dominie.
"Yes," replied Tom "I'm generally forward."
"Art thou forward in thy learning? Canst thou tell me Latin for goose?"
"To be sure," replied Tom; "Brandy."
"Brandy!" exclaimed the Dominie. "Nay, child, it is anser."
"Then I was right," replied Tom. "You had your answer!"
"The boy is apt." Cluck cluck.
"He is apt to be devilish saucy, old gentleman; but never mind that, there's no harm in him."
"This, then, is young Tom, I presume, Jacob?" said the Dominie, referring to me.
"Yes, sir," replied I. "You have seen old Tom, and young Tom, and you have only to see Tommy."
"Want to see Tommy, sir?" cried Tom. "Here, Tommy, Tommy!"
But Tommy, who was rather busy with a bone forward, did not immediately answer to his call, and the Dominie turned round to survey the river. The scene was busy, barges and boats passing in every direction, others lying on shore, with waggons taking out the coals and other cargoes, men at work, shouting or laughing with each other. "'Populus in fluviis,' as Virgil hath it. Grand indeed is the vast river, 'Labitur et labetur in omne volubilis aevum,' as the generations of men are swept into eternity," said the Dominie, musing aloud. But Tommy had now made his appearance, and Tom, in his mischief, had laid hold of the tail of the Dominie's coat, and shown it to the dog. The dog, accustomed to seize a rope when it was shown to him, immediately seized the Dominie's coat, making three desperate tugs at it. The Dominie, who was in one of his reveries, and probably thought it was I who wished to direct his attention elsewhere, each time waved his hand, without turning round, as much as to say, "I am busy now."
"Haul and hold," cried Tom to the dog, splitting his sides, and the tears running down his cheeks with laughing. Tommy made one more desperate tug, carrying away one tail of the Dominie's coat; but the Dominie perceived it not, he was still "nubibus," while the dog galloped forward with the fragment, and Tom chased him to recover it. The Dominie continued in his reverie, when old Tom burst out—
"O, England, dear England, bright gem of the ocean, Thy valleys and fields look fertile and gay, The heart clings to thee with a sacred devotion, And memory adores when in far lands away."
The song gradually called the Dominie to his recollection; indeed, the strain was so beautiful that it would have vibrated in the ears of a dying man. The Dominie gradually turned round, and when old Tom had finished, exclaimed, "Truly it did delight mine ear, and from such— and," continued the Dominie, looking down upon old Tom—"without legs too!"
"Why, old gentleman, I don't sing with my legs," answered old Tom.
"Nay, good Dux, I am not so deficient as not to be aware that a man singeth from the mouth; yet is thy voice mellifluous, sweet as the honey of Hybla, strong—"
"As the Latin for goose," finished Tom. "Come, father, old Dictionary is in the doldrums; rouse him up with another stave."
"I'll rouse you up with the stave of a cask over your shoulders, Mr Tom. What have you done with the old gentleman's swallow-tail?"
"Leave me to settle that affair, father: I know how to get out of a scrape."
"So you ought, you scamp, considering how many you get into; but the craft are swinging and heaving up. Forward there, Jacob, and sway up the mast; there's Tom and Tommy to help you."
The mast was hoisted up, the sail set, and the lighter in the stream before the Dominie was out of his reverie.
"Are there whirlpools here?" said the Dominie, talking more to himself than to those about him.
"Whirlpools!" replied young Tom, who was watching and mocking him; "yes, that there are, under the bridges. I've watched a dozen chips go down, one after the other."
"A dozen ships!" exclaimed the Dominie, turning to Tom; "and every soul lost?"
"Never saw them afterwards," replied Tom, in a mournful voice.
"How little did I dream of the dangers of those so near me," said the Dominie, turning away, and communing with himself. "'Those who go down to the sea in ships, and occupy their business in great waters;'—'Et vastas aperit Syrtes;'—'These men see the works of the Lord, and his wonders in the deep.'—'Alternante vorans vasta Charybdis aqua.'—'For at his word the stormy wind ariseth, which lifteth up the waves thereof.'—'Surgens a puppi ventus.—Ubi tempestas et caeli mobilis humor.'—'They are carried up to the heavens, and down again to the deep.'—'Gurgitibus miris et lactis vertice torrens.'—'Their soul melteth away because of their troubles.'—'Stant pavidi. Omnibus ignoiae mortis timor, omnibus hostem.'—'They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man.'"
"So they do, father, don't they, sometimes?" observed Tom, leering his eye at his father. "That's all I've understood of his speech."
"They are at their wit's end," continued the Dominie.
"Mind the end of your wit, master Tom," answered his father, wroth at the insinuation.
"'So when they call upon the Lord in their trouble'—'Cujus jurare timent et fallere nomen'—'He delivereth them out of their distress, for he makest the storm to cease, so that the waves thereof are still;' yea, still and smooth as the peaceful water which now floweth rapidly by our anchored vessel—yet it appeareth to me that the scene hath changed. These fields met not mine eyes before. 'Riparumque toros et prata recentia rivis.' Surely we have moved from the wharf?"—and the Dominie turned round, and discovered, for the first time, that we were more than a mile from the place at which we had embarked.
"Pray, sir, what's the use of speech, sir?" interrogated Tom, who had been listening to the whole of the Dominie's long soliloquy.
"Thou asketh a foolish question, boy. We are endowed with the power of speech to enable us to communicate our ideas."
"That's exactly what I thought, sir. Then pray what's the use of your talking all that gibberish, that none of us could understand?"
"I crave thy pardon, child; I spoke, I presume, in the dead languages."
"If they're dead, why not let them rest in their graves?"
"Good; thou hast wit." (Cluck, cluck.) "Yet, child, know that it is pleasant to commune with the dead."
"Is it? then we'll put you on shore at Battersea churchyard."
"Silence, Tom. He's full of his sauce, sir—you must forgive it."
"Nay, it pleaseth me to hear him talk; but it would please me more to hear thee sing."
"Then here goes, sir, to drown Tom's impudence:—
"Glide on my bark, the morning tide Is gently floating by thy side; Around thy prow the waters bright, In circling rounds of broken light, Are glittering, as if ocean gave Her countless gems unto the wave.
"That's a pretty air, and I first heard it sung by a pretty woman; but that's all I know of the song. She sang another—
"I'd be a butterfly, born in a bower."
"You'd be a butterfly!" said the Dominie, taking old Tom literally, and looking at his person.
Young Tom roared, "Yes, sir, he'd be a butterfly, and I don't see why he shouldn't very soon. His legs are gone, and his wings aren't come: so he's a grub now, and that, you know, is the next thing to it. What a funny old beggar it is, father—aren't it?"
"Tom, Tom, go forward, sir; we must shoot the bridge."
"Shoot!" exclaimed the Dominie; "shoot what?"
"You aren't afraid of fire-arms, are ye, sir?" inquired Tom.
"Nay, I said not that I was afraid of fire-arms; but why should you shoot?"
"We never could get on without it, sir; we shall have plenty of shooting, by-and-by. You don't know this river."
"Indeed, I thought not of such doings; or that there were other dangers besides that of the deep waters."
"Go forward, Tom, and don't be playing with your betters," cried old Tom. "Never mind him, sir, he's only humbugging you."
"Explain, Jacob. The language of both old Tom and young Tom are to me as incomprehensible as would be that of the dog Tommy."
"Or as your Latin is to them, sir."
"True, Jacob, true. I have no right to complain; nay, I do not complain, for I am amused, although at times much puzzled."
We now shot Putney Bridge, and as a wherry passed us, old Tom carolled out—
"Did you ever hear tell of a jolly young waterman?"
"No, I never did," said the Dominie, observing old Tom's eyes directed towards him. Tom, amused by this naivete on the part of the Dominie, touched him by the sleeve, on the other side, and commenced with his treble—
"Did you ne'er hear a tale Of a maid in the vale?"
"Not that I can recollect, my child," replied the Dominie.
"Then, where have you been all your life?"
"My life has been employed, my lad, in teaching the young idea how to shoot."
"So, you're an old soldier, after all, and afraid of fire-arms. Why don't you hold yourself up? I suppose it's that enormous jib of yours that brings you down by the head."
"Tom, Tom, I'll cut you into pork pieces if you go on that gait. Go and get dinner under weigh, you scamp, and leave the gentleman alone. Here's more wind coming.
"A wet sheet and a flowing sea, A wind that follows fast, And fills the white and rustling sail, And bends the gallant mast. And bends the gallant mast, my boys, While, like the eagle free, Away the good ship flies, and leaves Old England on the lee."
"Jacob," said the Dominie, "I have heard by the mouth of Rumour, with her hundred tongues, how careless and indifferent are sailors unto danger; but I never could have believed that such lightness of heart could have been shown. Yon man, although certainly not old in years, yet, what is he?—a remnant of a man resting upon unnatural and ill-proportioned support. Yon lad, who is yet but a child, appears as blythe and merry as if he were in possession of all the world can afford. I have an affection for that bold child, and would fain teach him the rudiments, at least, of the Latin tongue."
"I doubt if Tom would ever learn them, sir. He hath a will of his own."
"It grieveth me to hear thee say so, for he lacketh not talent, but instruction; and the Dux, he pleaseth me mightily—a second Palinurus. Yet how that a man could venture to embark upon an element, to struggle through the horrors of which must occasionally demand the utmost exertion of every limb, with the want of the two most necessary for his safety, is to me quite incomprehensible."
"He can keep his legs, sir."
"Nay, Jacob; how can he keep what are already gone? Even thou speakest strangely upon the water. I see the dangers that surround us, Jacob, yet I am calm: I feel that I have not lived a wicked life—'Integer vitae, scelerisque purus,' as Horace truly saith, may venture, even as I have done, upon the broad expanse of water. What is it that the boy is providing for us? It hath an inviting smell."
"Lobscouse, master," replied old Tom, "and not bad lining either."
"I recollect no such word—unde derivatur, friend?"
"What's that, master?" inquired old Tom.
"It's Latin for lobscouse, depend upon it, father," cried Tom, who was stirring up the savoury mess with a large wooden spoon. "He be a deadly lively old gentleman, with his dead language. Dinner's all ready. Are we to let go the anchor, or pipe to dinner first?"
"We may as well anchor, boys. We have not a quarter of an hour's more ebb, and the wind is heading us."
Tom and I went forward, brailed up the mainsail, cleared away, and let go the anchor. The lighter swung round rapidly to the stream. The Dominie, who had been in a fit of musing, with his eyes cast upon the forests of masts which we had passed below London Bridge, and which were now some way astern of us, of a sudden exclaimed, in a loud voice, "Parce precor! Periculosum est!"
The lighter, swinging short round to her anchor, had surprised the Dominie with the rapid motion of the panorama, and he thought we had fallen in with one of the whirlpools mentioned by Tom. "What has happened, good Dux? tell me," cried the Dominie to old Tom, with alarm in his countenance.
"Why, master, I'll tell you after my own fashion," replied old Tom, smiling; and then singing, as he held the Dominie by the button of his spencer—
"Now to her berth the craft draws nigh, With slacken'd sail, she feels the tide; 'Stand clear the cable!' is the cry— The anchor's gone, we safely ride.
"And now, master, we'll bail out the lobscouse. We sha'n't weigh anchor again until to-morrow morning; the wind's right in our teeth, and it will blow fresh, I'm sartain. Look how the scud's flying; so now we'll have a jolly time of it, and you shall have your allowance of grog on board before you turn in."
"I have before heard of that potation," replied the Dominie, sitting down on the coaming of the hatchway, "and fain would taste it."
IS A CHAPTER OF TALES IN A DOUBLE SENSE—THE DOMINIE, FROM THE NATURAL EFFECTS OF HIS SINGLE-HEARTEDNESS, BEGINS TO SEE DOUBLE—A NEW DEFINITION OF PHILOSOPHY, WITH AN EPISODE ON JEALOUSY.
We now took our seats on the deck, round the saucepan, for we did not trouble ourselves with dishes, and the Dominie appeared to enjoy the lobscouse very much. In the course of half-an-hour all was over; that is to say, we had eaten as much as we wished; and the Newfoundland dog, who, during our repast, lay close by young Tom, flapping the deck with his tail, and sniffing the savoury smell of the compound, had just licked all our plates quite clean, and was now finishing with his head in the saucepan; while Tom was busy carrying the crockery into the cabin, and bringing out the bottle and tin pannikins, ready for the promised carouse.
"There, now, master, there's a glass o' grog for you that would float a marline-spike. See if that don't warm the cockles of your old heart."
"Ay," added Tom, "and set all your muscles as taut as weather backstays."
"Master Tom, with your leave, I'll mix your grog for you myself. Hand me back that bottle, you rascal."
"Just as you please, father," replied Tom, handing the bottle; "but recollect, none of your water bewitched. Only help me as you love me."
Old Tom mixed a pannikin of grog for Tom, and another for himself. I hardly need say which was the stiffer of the two.
"Well, father, I suppose you think the grog will run short. To be sure, one bottle aren't too much 'mong four of us."
"One bottle, you scamp! there's another in the cupboard."
"Then you must see double already, father."
Old Tom, who was startled at this news, and who imagined that Tom must have gained possession of the other bottle, jumped up and made for the cupboard, to ascertain whether what Tom asserted was correct. This was what Tom wished; he immediately changed pannikins of grog with his father, and remained quiet.
"There is another bottle, Tom," said his father, coming out and taking his seat again. "I knew there was. You young rascal, you don't know how you frightened me!" And old Tom put the pannikin to his lips. "Drowned the miller, by heavens!" said he, "What could I have been about?" ejaculated he, adding more spirit to his mixture.
"I suppose, upon the strength of another bottle in the locker, you are doubling the strength of your grog. Come, father," and Tom held out his pannikin, "do put a little drop in mine—it's seven-water grog, and I'm not on the black-list."
"No, no, Tom; your next shall be stronger. Well, master, how do you like your liquor?"
"Verily," replied the Dominie, "it is a pleasant and seducing liquor. Lo and behold! I am at the bottom of my utensil."
"Stop till I fill it up again, old gentleman. I see you are one of the right sort. You know what the song says—
"A plague on those musty old lubbers, Who tell us to fast and to think, And patient fall in with life's rubbers, With nothing but water to drink!
"Water, indeed! The only use of water I know is to mix your grog with, and float vessels up and down the world. Why was the sea made salt, but to prevent our drinking too much water. Water, indeed!
"A can of good grog, had they swigg'd it, T'would have set them for pleasure agog, And in spite of the rules Of the schools, The old fools Would have all of them swigg'd it, And swore there was nothing like grog."
"I'm exactly of your opinion, father," said Tom, holding out his empty pannikin.
"Always ready for two things, Master Tom—grog and mischief; but, however, you shall have one more dose."
"It hath, then, medicinal virtues?" inquired the Dominie.
"Ay, that it has, master—more than all the quacking medicines in the world. It cures grief and melancholy, and prevents spirits from getting low."
"I doubt that, father," cried Tom, holding up the bottle "for the more grog we drink, the more the spirits become low."
Cluck, cluck, came from the thorax of the Dominie. "Verily, friend Tom, it appeareth, among other virtues, to sharpen the wits. Proceed, friend Dux, in the medicinal virtues of grog."
"Well, master, it cures love when it's not returned, and adds to it when it is. I've heard say it will cure jealousy; but that I've my doubts of. Now I think on it, I will tell you a yarn about a jealous match between a couple of fools. Jacob, aren't your pannikin empty, my boy?"
"Yes," replied I, handing it up to be filled. It was empty, for, not being very fond of it myself, Tom, with my permission, had drunk it as well as his own.
"There, Jacob, is a good dose for you; you aren't always craving after it, like Tom."
"He isn't troubled with low spirits, as I am, father."
"How long has that been your complaint, Tom?" inquired I.
"Ever since I heard how to cure it. Come, father, give us the yarn."
"Well, then, you must mind that an old shipmate o' mine, Ben Leader, had a wife named Poll, a pretty sort of craft in her way—neat in her rigging, swelling-bows, taking sort of figure-head, and devilish well rounded in the counter; altogether, she was a very fancy girl, and all the men were after her. She'd a roguish eye, and liked to be stared at, as most pretty women do, because it flatters their vanities. Now, although she liked to be noticed so far by the other chaps, yet Ben was the only one she ever wished to be handled by; it was 'Paws off, Pompey!' with all the rest. Ben Leader was a good-looking, active, smart chap, and could foot it in a reel, or take a bout at single-stick with the very best o' them; and she was mortal fond of him, and mortal jealous if he talked to any other woman, for the women liked Ben as much as the men liked she. Well, as they returned love for love, so did they return jealousy for jealousy; and the lads and lasses, seeing that, had a pleasure in making them come to a misunderstanding. So every day it became worse and worse between them. Now, I always says that it's a stupid thing to be jealous, 'cause if there be cause, there be no cause for love and if there be no cause, there be no cause for jealousy."
"You're like a row in a rookery, father—nothing but caws," interrupted Tom.
"Well, I suppose I am; but that's what I call chop logic—aren't it, master?"
"It was a syllogism," replied the Dominie, taking the pannikin from his mouth.
"I don't know what that is, nor do I want to know," replied old Tom; "so I'll just go on with my story. Well, at last they came to downright fighting. Ben licks Poll 'cause she talked and laughed with other men, and Poll cries and whines all day 'cause he won't sit on her knee, instead of going on board and 'tending to his duty. Well, one night, a'ter work was over, Ben goes on shore to the house where he and Poll used to sleep; and when he sees the girl in the bar, he says, 'Where is Poll?' Now, the girl at the bar was a fresh-comer, and answers, 'What girl?' So Ben describes her, and the bar-girl answers, 'She be just gone to bed with her husband, I suppose;' for, you see, there was a woman like her who had gone up to her bed, sure enough. When Ben heard that, he gave his trousers one hitch, and calls for a quartern, drinks it off with a sigh, and leaves the house, believing it all to be true. A'ter Ben was gone, Poll makes her appearance, and when she finds Ben wasn't in the tap, says, 'Young woman, did a man go upstairs just now?' 'Yes,' replied the bar-girl, 'with his wife, I suppose; they be turned in this quarter of an hour.' When she almost turned mad with rage, and then as white as a sheet, and then she burst into tears, and runs out of the house, crying out, 'Poor misfortunate creature that I am!' knocking everything down undersized, and running into the arms of every man who came athwart her hawse."
"I understood him, but just now, that she was running on foot; yet doth he talk about her horse. Expound, Jacob."
"It was a nautical figure of speech, sir."
"Exactly," rejoined Tom; "it meant her figure-head, old gentleman; but my yarn won't cut a figure if I'm brought up all standing in this way. Suppose, master, you hear the story first, and understand it a'terwards?"
"I will endeavour to comprehend by the context," replied the Dominie.
"That is, I suppose, that you'll allow me to stick to my text. Well, then, here's coil away again. Ben, you see, what with his jealousy and what with a whole quartern at a draught, became somehow nohow, and he walked down to the jetty with the intention of getting rid of himself, and his wife and all his trouble by giving his soul back to his Creator, and his body to the fishes."
"Bad philosophy," quoth the Dominie.
"I agree with you, master," replied old Tom.
"Pray what sort of a thing is philosophy?" inquired Tom.
"Philosophy," replied old Tom, "is either hanging, drowning, shooting yourself, or, in short, getting out of the world without help."
"Nay," replied the Dominie, "that is felo de se."
"Well, I pronounce it quicker than you, master; but it's one and the same thing: but to go on. While Ben was standing on the jetty, thinking whether he should take one more quid of 'baccy afore he dived, who should come down but Poll, with her hair all adrift, streaming and coach-whipping astern of her, with the same intention as Ben—to commit philo-zoffy. Ben, who was standing at the edge of the jetty, his eyes fixed upon the water, as it eddied among the piles, looking as dismal as if he had swallowed a hearse and six, with the funeral feathers hanging out of his mouth—"
"A bold comparison," murmured the Dominie.
"Never sees her; and she was so busy with herself, that, although close to him, she never sees he—always remembering that the night was dark. So Poll turned her eyes up, for all the world like a dying jackdaw."
"Tell me, friend Dux," interrupted the Dominie, "doth a jackdaw die in any peculiar way?"
"Yes," replied young Tom; "he always dies black, master."
"Then doth he die as he liveth. (Cluck, cluck.) Proceed, good Dux."
"And don't you break the thread of my yarn any more, master, if you wish to hear the end of it. So Poll begins to bludder about Ben. 'O Ben, Ben,' cried she; 'cruel, cruel man; for to come—for to go;—for to go— for to come!'
"'Who's there?' shouted Ben.
"'For to come—for to go,' cried Poll.
"'Ship ahoy!' hailed Ben, again.
"'For to go—for to come,' blubbered Poll; and then she couldn't bring out anything more for sobbing. With that, Ben, who thought he knew the voice, walks up to her, and says, 'Be that you, Poll?'
"'Be that you, Ben?' replied Poll, taking her hands from her face, and looking at him.
"'I thought you were in bed with—with—oh! Poll!' said Ben.
"'And I thought you were in bed with—oh! Ben!' replied Poll.
"'But I wasn't, Poll?'
"'Nor more wasn't I, Ben.'
"'And what brought you here, Poll?'
"'I wanted for to die, Ben. And what brought you here, Ben?'
"'I didn't want for to live, Poll, when I thought you false.'
"Then Polly might have answered in the words of the old song, master; but her poor heart was too full, I suppose." And Tom sang—
"Your Polly has never been false, she declares, Since last time we parted at Wapping Old Stairs.
"Howsomever, in the next minute they were both hugging and kissing, sobbing, shivering and shaking in each other's arms; and as soon as they had settled themselves a little, back they went, arm-in-arm, to the house, and had a good stiff glass to prevent their taking the rheumatism, went to bed, and were cured of their jealously ever a'terwards—which in my opinion, was a much better philo-zoffy than the one they had both been bound on. There, I've wound it all off at last, master, and now we'll fill up our pannikins."
"Before I consent, friend Dux, pr'ythee inform me how much of this pleasant liquor may be taken without inebriating, vulgo, getting tipsy."
"Father can drink enough to float a jolly-boat, master," replied Tom; "so you needn't fear. I'll drink pan for pan with you all night long."
"Indeed you won't, mister Tom," replied the father.
"But I will, master."
I perceived that the liquor had already had some effect upon my worthy pedagogue, and was not willing that he should be persuaded into excess. I therefore pulled him by the coat as a hint; but he was again deep in thought, and he did not heed me. Tired of sitting so long, I got up, and walked forward to look at the cable.
"Strange," muttered the Dominie, "that Jacob should thus pull me by the garment. What could he mean?"
"Did he pull you, sir?" inquired Tom.
"Yes, many times; and then he walked away."
"It appears that you have been pulled too much, sir," replied Tom, appearing to pick up the tail of his coat, which had been torn off by the dog, and handing it to him.
"Eheu! Jacobe—fili dilectissime—quid fecisti?" cried the Dominie, holding up the fragment of his coat with a look of despair.
"'A long pull, a strong pull, and a pull altogether,'" sang out old Tom: and then looking at Tom, "Now, ain't you a pretty rascal, master Tom?"
"It is done," exclaimed the Dominie, with a sigh, putting the fragment into the remaining pocket; "and it cannot be undone."
"Now, I think it is undone, and can be done, master," replied Tom. "A needle and thread will soon join the pieces of your old coat again—in holy matrimony, I may safely say—"
"True. (Cluck, cluck.) My housekeeper will restore it; yet will she be wroth, 'Feminae curaeque iraeque;' but let us think no more about it," cried the Dominie, drinking deeply from his pannikin, and each minute verging fast to intoxication. "'Nunc est bibendum, nunc pede libero pulsanda tellus.' I feel as if I were lifted up, and could dance, yea, and could exalt my voice and sing."
"Could you, my jolly old master? then we will both dance and sing—
"Come, let us dance and sing, While all Barbadoes bells shall ring, Mars scrapes the fiddle string While Venus plays the lute. Hymen gay, trips away, Jocund at the wedding day.
"Now for chorus—
"Come, let us dance and sing."
THE "FUN GROWS FAST AND FURIOUS"—THE PEDAGOGUE DOES NOT SCAN CORRECTLY, AND HIS FEET BECOME VERY UNEQUAL—AN ALLEGORICAL COMPLIMENT ALMOST WORKED UP INTO A LITERAL QUARREL—AT LENGTH THE MIGHTY ARE LAID LOW, AND THE DOMINIE HURTS HIS NOSE.
I heard Tom's treble, and a creaking noise, which I recognised to proceed from the Dominie, who had joined the chorus; and I went aft, if possible to prevent further excess; but I found that the grog had mounted into the Dominie's head, and all my hints were disregarded. Tom was despatched for the other bottle, and the Dominie's pannikin was replenished, old Tom roaring out—
"Come, sling the flowing bowl; Fond hopes arise, The girls we prize Shall bless each jovial soul; The can, boys, bring, We'll dance and sing, While foaming billows roll.
"Now for the chorus again—
"Come, sling the flowing bowl, etcetera.
"Jacob, why don't you join?" The chorus was given by the whole of us. The Dominie's voice was even louder, though not quite so musical, as old Tom's.
"Evoe!" cried the Dominie; "evoe! cantemus.
"Amo, amas—I loved a lass, For she was tall and slender; Amas, amat—she laid me flat, Though of the feminine gender.
"Truly do I not forget the songs of my youth, and of my hilarious days: yet doth the potent spirit work upon me like the god in the Cumean sybil; and I shall soon prophecy that which shall come to pass."
"So can I," said Tom, giving me a nudge, and laughing.
"Do thine office of Ganymede, and fill up the pannikin; put not in too much of the element. Once more exalt thy voice, good Dux."
"Always ready, master," cried Tom, who sang out again in praise of his favourite liquor—
"Smiling grog is the sailor's best hope, his sheet anchor, His compass, his cable, his log, That gives him a heart which life's cares cannot canker. Though dangers around him, Unite to confound him, He braves them, and tips off his grog. 'Tis grog, only grog, Is his rudder, his compass, his cable, his log, The sailor's sheet anchor is grog."
"Verily, thou art an Apollo—or, rather, referring to thy want of legs, half an Apollo—that is, a demi-god. (Cluck, cluck.) Sweet is thy lyre, friend Dux."
"Fair words, master; I'm no liar," cried Tom. "Clap a stopper on your tongue, or you'll get into disgrace."
"Ubi lapsus quid feci," said the Dominie; "I spoke of thy musical tongue; and, furthermore, I spoke alle-gori-cal-ly."
"I know a man lies with his tongue as well as you do, old chap; but as for telling a hell of a (something) lie, as you states, I say I never did," rejoined old Tom, who was getting cross in his cups.
I now interfered, as there was every appearance of a fray; and in spite of young Tom, who wished, as he termed it, to kick up a shindy, prevailed upon them to make friends, which they did, shaking hands for nearly five minutes. When this was ended, I again entreated the Dominie not to drink any more, but to go to bed.
"Amice, Jacobe," replied the Dominie; "the liquor hath mounted into thy brain, and thou wouldst rebuke thy master and thy preceptor. Betake thee to thy couch, and sleep off the effects of thy drink. Verily, Jacob, thou art plenus Veteris Bacchi; or, in plain English, thou art drunk. Canst thou conjugate, Jacob? I fear not. Canst thou decline, Jacob? I fear not. Canst thou scan, Jacob? I fear not. Nay, Jacob, methinks that thou art unsteady in thy gait, and not over clear in thy vision. Canst thou hear, Jacob? if so, I will give thee an oration against inebriety, with which thou mayest down on thy pillow. Wilt thou have it in Latin or in Greek?"
"O, damn your Greek and Latin!" cried old Tom; "keep that for to-morrow. Sing us a song, my old hearty; or shall I sing you one? Here goes—
"For while the grog goes round, All sense of danger's drown'd, We despise it to a man; We sing a little—"
"Sing a little," bawled the Dominie.
"And laugh a little—"
"Laugh a little," chorused young Tom.
"And work a little—"
"Work a little," cried the Dominie.
"And swear a little—"
"Swear not a little," echoed Tom.
"And fiddle a little—"
"Fiddle a little," hiccuped the Dominie.
"And foot it a little—"
"Foot it a little," repeated Tom.
"And swig the flowing can, And fiddle a little, And foot it a little, And swig the flowing can—"
roared old Tom, emptying his pannikin.
"And swig the flowing can—"
followed the Dominie, tossing off his.
"And swig the flowing can—"
cried young Tom turning up his pannikin empty.
"Hurrah! that's what I calls glorious. Let's have it over again, and then we'll have another dose. Come, now, all together." Again was the song repeated; and when they came to "foot it a little," old Tom jumped on his stumps, seizing hold of the Dominie, who immediately rose, and the three danced round and round for a minute or two, singing the song and chorus, till old Tom, who was very far gone, tripped against the coamings of the hatchway, pitching his head into the Dominie's stomach, who fell backwards, clinging to young Tom's hand; so that they all rolled on the deck together—my worthy preceptor underneath the other two.
"Foot it rather too much that time, father," said young Tom, getting up the first, and laughing. "Come, Jacob, let's put father on his pins again; he can't rise without a purchase." With some difficulty, we succeeded. As soon as he was on his legs again, old Tom put a hand upon each of our shoulders, and commenced, with a drunken leer—
"What though his timbers they are gone, And he's a slave to tipple, No better sailor e'er was born Than Tom, the jovial cripple.
"Thanky, my boys, thanky; now rouse up the old gentleman. I suspect we knocked the wind out of him. Hollo, there, are you hard and fast?"
"The bricks are hard, and verily my senses are fast departing," quoth the Dominie, rousing himself, and sitting up, staring around him.
"Senses going, do you say, master?" cried old Tom. "Don't throw them overboard till we have made a finish. One more pannikin apiece, one more song, and then to bed. Tom, where's the bottle?"
"Drink no more, sir, I beg; you'll be ill to-morrow," said I to the Dominie.
"Deprome quadrimum," hiccuped the Dominie. "Carpe diem—quam minimum—creula postero.—Sing, friend Dux—Quem virum—sumes celebrare—music amicus.—Where's my pattypan?—We are not Thracians—Natis in usum—laetitae scyphis pugnare—(hiccup)—Thracum est—therefore we—will not fight—but we will drink—recepto dulce mihi furere est amico—Jacob, thou art drunk—sing, friend Dux, or shall I sing?
"Propria quae maribus had a little dog, Quae genus was his name—
"My memory faileth me—what was the tune?"
"That tune was the one the old cow died of, I'm sure," replied Tom. "Come, old Nosey, strike up again."
"Nosey, from nasus—truly, it is a fair epithet; and it remindeth me that my nose—suffered in the fall which I received just now. Yet I cannot sing—having no words—"
"Nor tune, either, master," replied old Tom; "so here goes for you—
"Young Susan had lovers, so many that she Hardly knew upon which to decide; They all spoke sincerely, and promised to be All worthy of such a sweet bride. In the morning she'd gossip with William, and then The noon will be spent with young Harry, The evening with Tom; so, amongst all the men, She never could tell which to marry. Heigho! I am afraid Too many lovers will puzzle a maid.
"It pleaseth me—it ringeth in mine ears—yea, most pleasantly. Proceed,—the girl was as the Pyrrha of Horace—
"Quis multa gracillis—te puer in rosa— Perfusis liquidis urgit odoribus. Grate, Pyrrha—sub antro?"
"That's all high Dutch to me, master; but I'll go on if I can. My memory box be a little out of order. Let me see—oh!
"Now William grew jealous, and so went away; Harry got tired of wooing; And Tom having teased her to fix on the day, Received but a frown for so doing; So, 'mongst all her lovers, quite left in the lurch, She pined every night on her pillow; And meeting one day a pair going to church, Turned away, and died under a willow. Heigho! I am afraid Too many lovers will puzzle a maid.
"Now, then, old gentleman, tip off your grog. You've got your allowance, as I promised you."
"Come, master, you're a cup too low," said Tom, who, although in high spirits, was not at all intoxicated; indeed, as I afterwards found, he could carry more than his father. "Come, shall I give you a song?"
"That's right, Tom; a volunteer's worth two pressed men. Open your mouth wide, an' let your whistle fly away with the gale. You whistles in tune, at all events."
Tom then struck up, the Dominie see-sawing as he sat, and getting very sleepy—
"Luck in life, or good or bad, Ne'er could make me melancholy; Seldom rich, yet never sad, Sometimes poor, yet always jolly. Fortune's in my scale, that's poz, Of mischance put more than half in; Yet I don't know how it was, I could never cry for laughing— Ha! ha! ha! Ha! ha! ha! I could never cry for laughing.
"Now for chorus, father—
"Ha! ha! ha! Ha! ha! ha! I could never cry for laughing.
"That's all I know; and that's enough, for it won't wake up the old gentleman."
But it did. "Ha, ha, ha—ha, ha, ha! I could never die for laughing," bawled out the Dominie, feeling for his pannikin; but this was his last effort. He stared round him. "Verily, verily, we are in a whirlpool— how everything turneth round and round! Who cares? Am I not an ancient mariner—'Qui videt mare turgidum—et infames scopulos.' Friend Dux, listen to me—favet linguis."
"Well," hiccuped old Tom, "so I will—but speak—plain English—as I do."
"That I'll be hanged if he does," said Tom to me. "In half an hour more I shall understand old Nosey's Latin just as well as his—plain English, as he calls it."
"I will discuss in any language—that is—in any tongue—be it in the Greek or the Latin—nay, even—(hiccups)—friend Dux—hast thou not partaken too freely—of—dear me! Quo me, Bacche, rapis tui—plenum— truly I shall be tipsy—and will but finish my pattypan—dulce periculum est—Jacob—can there be two Jacobs?—and two old Toms?— nay—mirabile dictu—there are two young Toms, and two dog Tommies— each with—two tails. Bacche, parce—precor—precor—Jacob, where art thou?—Ego sum tu es—thou art—sumus, we are—where am I? Procumbit humi bos—for Bos—read Dobbs—amo, amas—I loved a lass. Tityre, tu patulae sub teg-mine—nay—I quote wrong—then must I be—I do believe that—I'm drunk."
"And I'm cock sure of it," cried Tom, laughing, as the Dominie fell back in a state of insensibility.
"And I'm cock sure of it," said old Tom, rolling himself along the deck to the cabin hatch "that I've as much—as I can stagger—under, at all events—so I'll sing myself to sleep—'cause why—I'm happy. Jacob— mind you keep all the watches to-night—and Tom may keep the rest." Old Tom then sat up, leaning his back against the cabin hatch, and commenced one of those doleful ditties which are sometimes heard on the forecastle of a man-of-war; he had one or two of the songs that he always reserved for such occasions. While Tom and I dragged the Dominie to bed, old Tom drawled out his ditty—
"Oh! we sailed to Virgi-ni-a, and thence to Fy-al, Where we water'd our shipping, and so then weigh-ed all, Full in view, on the seas—boys—seven sail we did es-py, O! we man-ned our capstern, and weighed spee-di-ly.
"That's right, my boys, haul and hold—stow the old Dictionary away—for he can't command the parts of speech.
"The very next morning—the engagement proved—hot, And brave Admiral Benbow received a chain-shot. O when he was wounded to his merry men—he—did—say, Take me up in your arms, boys, and car-ry me a-way.
"Now, boys, come and help me—Tom—none of your foolery—for your poor old father is—drunk—."
We assisted old Tom into the other "bed-place" in the cabin. "Thanky, lads—one little bit more, and then I'm done—as the auctioneer says— going—going—
"O the guns they did rattle, and the bul-lets—did—fly, When brave Benbow—for help loud—did cry, Carry me down to the cock-pit—there is ease for my smarts, If my merry men should see me—'twill sure—break—their—hearts.
"Going,—old swan-hopper—as I am—going—gone."
Tom and I were left on deck.
"Now, Jacob, if you have a mind to turn in. I'm not sleepy—you shall keep the morning watch."
"No, Tom, you'd better sleep first. I'll call you at four o'clock. We can't weigh till tide serves; and I shall have plenty of sleep before that."
Tom went to bed, and I walked the deck till the morning, thinking over the events of the day, and wondering what the Dominie would say when he came to his senses. At four o'clock, as agreed, I roused Tom out, and turned into his bed, and was soon as fast asleep as old Tom and the Dominie, whose responsive snores had rung in my ears during the whole time that I had walked the deck.
COLD WATER AND REPENTANCE—THE TWO TOMS ALMOST MORAL, AND MYSELF FULL OF WISE REFLECTIONS—THE CHAPTER, BEING FULL OF GRAVE SAWS, IS LUCKILY VERY SHORT; AND THOUGH A VERY SENSIBLE ONE, I WOULD NOT ADVISE IT TO BE SKIPPED.
About half-past eight the next morning, I was called up by Tom to assist in getting the lighter under weigh. When on deck I found old Tom as fresh as if he had not drunk a drop the night before, very busily stumping about the windlass, with which we hove up first the anchor, and then the mast. "Well, Jacob, my boy, had sleep enough? Not too much, I dare say; but a bout like last night don't come often, Jacob—only once in a way; now, and then I do believe it's good for my health. It's a great comfort to me, my lad, to have you on board with me, because as you never drinks, I may now indulge a little oftener. As for Tom, I can't trust him—too much like his father—had nobody to trust to for the look-out, except the dog Tommy, till you came with us. I can trust Tommy as far as keeping off the river sharks; he'll never let them take a rope-yarn off the deck, night or day; but a dog's but a dog, after all. Now we're brought to; so clap on, my boy, and let's heave up with a will."
"How's the old gentleman, father?" said Tom, as we paused a moment from our labour at the windlass.
"Oh! he's got a good deal more to sleep off yet. There he lies, flat on his back, blowing as hard as a grampus. Better leave him as long as we can. We'll rouse him as soon as we turn Greenwich reach. Tom, didn't you think his nose loomed devilish large yesterday?"
"Never seed such a devil of a cutwater in my life, father."
"Well, then, you'll see a larger when he gets up, for it's swelled bigger than the brandy bottle. Heave and haul! Now bring to the fall, and up with the mast, boys, while I goes aft and takes the helm."
Old Tom went aft. During the night the wind had veered to the north, and the frost had set in sharp, the rime covered the deck of the barge, and here and there floating ice was to be seen coming down with the tide. The banks of the river and fields adjacent were white with hoar frost, and would have presented but a cheerless aspect, had not the sun shone out clear and bright. Tom went aft to light the fire, while I coiled away and made all snug forward. Old Tom as usual carolled forth—
"Oh! for a soft and gentle wind, I heard a fair one cry But give to me the roaring breeze, And white waves beating high, And white waves beating high, my boys, The good ship tight and free, The world of waters is our own, And merry men are we."
"A nice morning this for cooling a hot head, that's sartain. Tommy, you rascal, you're like a court lady, with her velvet gownd, covered all over with diamonds," continued old Tom, looking at the Newfoundland dog, whose glossy black hair was besprinkled with little icicles, which glittered in the sun.
"You and Jacob were the only sensible ones of the party last night, for you both were sober."
"So was I, father. I was as sober as a judge," observed Tom, who was blowing up the fire.
"May be, Tom, as a judge a'ter dinner; but a judge on the bench be one thing, and a judge over a bottle be another, and not bad judges in that way either. At all events, if you warn't sewed up, it wasn't your fault."
"And I suppose," replied Tom, "it was only your misfortune that you were."
"No, I don't say that; but still, when I look at the dog, who's but a beast by nature, and thinks of myself, who wasn't meant to be a beast, why, I blushes, that's all."
"Jacob, look at father—now, does he blush?" cried Tom.
"I can't say that I perceive it," replied I, smiling.
"Well, then, if I don't it's the fault of my having no legs. I'm sure when they were knocked off I lost half the blood in my body, and that's the reason, I suppose. At all events, I meant to blush, so we'll take the will for the deed."
"But do you mean to keep sober in future, father?" said Tom.
"Never do you mind that—mind your own business, Mr Tom. At all events, I sha'n't get tipsy till next time, and that's all I can say with safety, 'cause, d'ye see, I knows my failing. Jacob, did you ever see that old gentleman sail too close to the wind before?"
"I never did—I do not think that he was ever tipsy before last night."
"Then I pities him—his headache, and his repentance. Moreover, there be his nose and the swallow-tail of his coat to make him unhappy. We shall be down abreast of the Hospital in half-an-hour. Suppose you go and give him a shake, Jacob. Not you, Tom; I won't trust you—you'll be doing him a mischief; you haven't got no fellow-feeling, not even for dumb brutes."
"I'll thank you not to take away my character that way, father," replied Tom. "Didn't I put you to bed last night when you were speechless?"
"Suppose you did—what then?"
"Why, then, I had a feeling for a dumb brute. I only say that, father, for the joke of it, you know," continued Tom, going up to his father and patting his rough cheek.
"I know that, my boy; you never were unkind, that's sartain; but you must have your joke—
"Merry thoughts are link'd with laughter, Why should we bury them? Sighs and tears may come hereafter, No need to hurry them. They who through a spying-glass, View the minutes as they pass, Make the sun a gloomy mass, But the fault's their own, Tom."
In the meantime I was vainly attempting to rouse the Dominie. After many fruitless attempts, I put a large quantity off snuff on his upper lip, and then blew it up his nose. But, merciful powers! what a nose it had become—larger than the largest pear that I ever saw in my life. The whole weight of old Tom had fallen on it, and instead of being crushed by the blow, it appeared as if, on the contrary, it had swelled up, indignant at the injury and affront which it had received. The skin was as tight as the parchment of a drum, and shining as if it had been oiled, while the colour was a bright purple. Verily, it was the Dominie's nose in a rage.
The snuff had the effect of partially awakening him from his lethargy. "Six o'clock—did you say, Mrs Bately? Are the boys washed—and in the schoolroom? I will rise speedily—yet I am overcome with much heaviness. Delapsus somnus ab—" and the Dominie snored again. I renewed my attempts, and gradually succeeded. The Dominie opened his eyes, stared at the deck and carlines above him, then at the cupboard by his side; lastly, he looked at and recognised me.
"Eheu, Jacobe!—where am I? And what is that which presses upon my brain? What is it so loadeth my cerebellum, even as if it were lead? My memory—where is it? Let me recall my scattered senses." Here the Dominie was silent for some time. "Ah me! yea, and verily, I do recollect—with pain of head and more pain of heart—that which I would fain forget, which is, that I did forget myself; and indeed have forgotten all that passed the latter portion of the night. Friend Dux hath proved no friend, but hath led me into the wrong path: and as or the potation called Grog—Eheu, Jacobe! how have I fallen—fallen in my own opinion—fallen in thine—how can I look thee in the face! O, Jacob! what must thou think of him who hath hitherto been thy preceptor and thy guide!" Here the Dominie fell back on the pillow, and turned away his head.
"It is not your fault, sir," replied I, to comfort him; "you were not aware of what you were drinking—you did not know that the liquor was so strong. Old Tom deceived you."
"Nay, Jacob, I cannot lay that flattering unction to my wounded heart. I ought to have known, nay, now I recall to mind, that thou wouldst have warned me—even to the pulling off of the tail of my coat—yet I heeded thee not, and I am humbled—even I, the master over seventy boys!"
"Nay, sir, it was not I who pulled off the tail of your coat; it was the dog."
"Jacob, I have heard of the wonderful sagacity of the canine species, yet could not I ever have believed that a dumb brute would have perceived my folly, and warned me from intoxication. Mirabile dictu! Tell me, Jacob, thou who hast profited by these lessons which thy master could give—although he could not follow up his precept by example—tell me, what did take place? Let me know the full extent of my backsliding."
"You fell asleep, sir, and we put you to bed."
"Who did me that office, Jacob?"
"Young Tom and I, sir; as for old Tom, he was not in a state to help anybody."
"I am humbled, Jacob—"
"Nonsense, old gentleman; why make a fuss about nothing?" said old Tom, who, overhearing our conversation came into the cabin. "You had a drop too much, that's all, and what o' that? It's a poor heart that never rejoiceth. Rouse a bit, wash your face with old Thames water, and in half-an-hour you'll be as fresh as a daisy."
"My head acheth!" exclaimed the Dominie, "even as if there were a ball of lead rolling from one temple to the other; but my punishment is just."
"That is the punishment of making too free with the bottle, for sartain; but if it is an offence, then it carries its own punishment and that's quite sufficient. Every man knows that when the heart's over light at night, that the head's over heavy in the morning. I have known and proved it a thousand times. Well, what then? I puts the good against the bad, and I takes my punishment like a man."
"Friend Dux, for so I will still call thee, thou lookest not at the offence in a moral point of vision."
"What's moral?" replied old Tom.
"I would point out that intoxication is sinful."
"Intoxication sinful! I suppose that means that it's a sin to get drunk. Now, master, it's my opinion that as God Almighty has given us good liquor, it was for no other purpose than to drink it; and therefore it would be ungrateful to him, and a sin, not to get drunk—that is, with discretion."
"How canst thou reconcile getting drunk with discretion, good Dux?"
"I mean, master, when there's work to be done, the work should be done; but when there's plenty of time, and everything is safe, and all ready for a start the next morning, I can see no possible objection to a jollification. Come, master, rouse out; the lighter's abreast of the Hospital almost by this time, and we must put you on shore."
The Dominie, whose clothes were all on, turned out of his bed-place and went with us on deck. Young Tom, who was at the helm, as soon as we made our appearance, wished him a good-morning very respectfully. Indeed, I always observed that Tom, with all his impudence and waggery, had a great deal of consideration and kindness. He had overheard the Dominie's conversation with me, and would not further wound his feelings with a jest. Old Tom resumed his place at the helm, while his son prepared the breakfast, and I drew a bucket of water for the Dominie to wash his face and hands. Of his nose not a word was said; and the Dominie made no remarks to me on the subject, although I am persuaded it must have been very painful, from the comfort he appeared to derive in bathing it with the freezing water. A bowl of tea was a great solace to him, and he had hardly finished it when the lighter was abreast the Hospital stairs. Tom jumped into the boat and hauled it alongside. I took the other oar, and the Dominie, shaking hands with old Tom, said, "Thou didst mean kindly, and therefore I wish thee a kind farewell, good Dux."
"God be with you, master," replied old Tom; "shall we call for you as we come back?"
"Nay, nay," replied the Dominie, "the travelling by land is more expensive, but less dangerous. I thank thee for thy songs, and—for all thy kindness, good Dux. Are my paraphernalia in the boat, Jacob?"
I replied in the affirmative. The Dominie stepped in, and we pulled him on shore. He landed, took his bundle and umbrella under his arm, shook hands with Tom and then with me, without speaking, and I perceived the tears start in his eyes as he turned and walked away.
"Well, now," said Tom, looking after the Dominie, "I wish I had been drunk instead of he. He does so take it to heart, poor old gentleman!"
"He has lost his self-esteem, Tom," replied I. "It should be a warning to you. Come, get your oar to pass."
"Well, some people he fashioned one way and some another. I've been tipsy more than once, and I never lost anything but my reason, and that came back as soon as the grog left my head. I can't understand that fretting about having had a glass too much. I only frets when I can't get enough. Well, of all the noses I ever saw, his bests them by chalks; I did so want to laugh at it, but I knew it would pain him."
"It is very kind of you, Tom, to hold your tongue, and I thank you very much."
"And yet that old dad of mine swears I've got no fellow-feeling, which I consider a very undutiful thing for him to say. What's the reason, Jacob, that sons be always cleverer than their fathers?"
"I didn't know that was the case, Tom."
"But it is so now, if it wasn't in olden time. The proverb says, 'Young people think old people to be fools, but old people know young people to be fools.' We must alter that, for I says, 'Old people think young people to be fools, but young people know old people to be fools.'"
"Have it your own way, Tom, that will do, rowed of all."
We tossed in our oars, made the boat fast, and gained the deck, where old Tom still remained at the helm. "Well," said he, "Jacob, I never thought I should be glad to see the old gentleman clear of the lighter, but I was—devilish glad; he was like a load on my conscience this morning; he was trusted to my charge by Mr Drummond, and I had no right to persuade him to make a fool of himself. But, however, what's done can't be helped, as you say sometimes; and it's no use crying; still it was a pity, for he be, for all the world, like a child. There's a fancy kind of lass in that wherry, crossing our bows; look at the streamers from her top-gallant.
"Come o'er the sea, Maiden, to me, Mine through sunshine, storm, and snows, Seasons may roll, But the true soul Burns the same wherever it goes Then come o'er the sea, Maiden, with me."
"See you hanged first, you underpinned old hulk!" replied the female in the boat, which was then close under our bows.
"Well, that be civil, for certain," said old Tom, laughing.
I AM UNSHIPPED FOR A SHORT TIME, IN ORDER TO RECORD SHIPMENTS AND ENGROSS INVOICES—FORM A NEW ACQUAINTANCE, WHAT IS CALLED IN THE WORLD "A WARM MAN," THOUGH HE PASSED THE BEST PART OF HIS LIFE AMONG ICEBERGS, AND ONE WHOLE NIGHT WITHIN THE RIBS OF DEATH—HIS WIFE WORKS HARD AT GENTILITY.
We arrived at Sheerness the next morning, landed the bricks, which were for the Government buildings, and returned in ballast to the wharf. My first inquiry was for the Dominie; but he had not yet returned; and Mr Drummond further informed me that he had been obliged to send away his under-clerk and wished me to simply take his place until he could procure another. The lighter therefore took in her cargo, and sailed without me, which was of consequence, as my apprenticeship still went on. I now lived with Mr Drummond as one of his own family, and wanted for nothing. His continual kindness to me made me strive all I could to please him by diligence and attention, and I soon became very expert at accounts, and, as he said, very useful. The advantages to me, I hardly need observe were considerable, and I gained information every day. Still, although I was glad to be of any use to Mr Drummond, the confinement at the desk was irksome, and I anxiously looked for the arrival of the new clerk to take my place and leave me free to join the lighter. Mr Drummond did not appear to me to be in any hurry; indeed, I believe that he would have retained me altogether, had he not perceived that I still wished to be on the river.
"At all events, Jacob, I shall keep you here until you are master of your work; it will be useful to you hereafter," he said to me one day; "and you do not gain much by sailing up and down the river."
This was true; and I also derived much advantage from the evenings spent with Mrs Drummond, who was a very sensible good woman, and would make me read aloud to her and little Sarah as they sat at their needle. I had no idea, until I was employed posting up the book, that Mr Drummond's concern was so extensive, or that there was so much capital employed in the business. The Dominie returned a few days after my arrival. When we met his nose had resumed its former appearance, and he never brought up the subject of the evening on board of the lighter. I saw him frequently, mostly on Sundays after I had been to church with the family; and half-an-hour, at least, was certain to be dedicated to our reading together one of the classics.
As I was on shore several months, I became acquainted with many families, one or two of which were worth noticing. Among the foremost was Captain Turnbull, at least such was his appellation until within the last two months previous to my making his acquaintance, when Mr Turnbull sent out his cards, George Turnbull, Esquire. The history of Captain Turnbull was as follows:—He had, with his twin brother, been hung up at the knocker, and afterwards had been educated at the Foundling Hospital; they had both been apprenticed to the sea; grown up thorough-bred, capital, seamen in the Greenland fishery; rose to be mates then captains; had been very successful, owned part, then the whole of the ship, afterwards two or three ships; and had wound up with handsome fortunes. Captain Turnbull was a married man without a family; his wife, fine in person, vulgar in speech, a would-be fashionable lady, against which fashion Captain T had for years pleaded poverty; but his brother, who had remained a bachelor, died, leaving him forty thousand pounds—a fact which could not be concealed. Captain Turnbull had not allowed his wife to be aware of the extent of his own fortune, more from a wish to live quietly and happily than from any motive of parsimony, for he was liberal to excess; but now he had no further excuse to plead, and Mrs Turnbull insisted upon fashion. The house they had lived in was given up, and a marine villa on the borders of the Thames to a certain degree met the views of both parties; Mrs Turnbull anticipating dinners and fetes, and the captain content to watch what was going on in the river, and amuse himself in a wherry. They had long been acquaintances of Mr and Mrs Drummond; and Captain Turnbull's character was such as always to command the respect of Mr Drummond, as he was an honest, friendly man. Mrs Turnbull had now set up her carriage, and she was, in her own opinion, a very great personage. She would have cut all her former acquaintance; but on that point the captain was inflexible, particularly as regarded the Drummonds. As far as they were concerned, Mrs Turnbull gave way, Mrs Drummond being a lady-like woman, and Mr Drummond universally respected as a man of talent and information. Captain, or rather, Mr Turnbull, was a constant visitor at our house, and very partial to me. He used to scold Mr Drummond for keeping me so close to my desk, and would often persuade him to give me a couple of hours' run. When this was obtained, he would call a waterman, throw him a crown, and tell him to get out of his wherry as fast as he could. We then embarked, and amused ourselves pulling up and down the river, while Mrs Turnbull, dressed in the extremity of the fashion, rode out in the carriage and left her cards in every direction.
One day Mr Turnbull called upon the Drummonds, and asked them to dine with him on the following Saturday; they accepted the invitation. "By-the-by," said he, "I got what my wife calls a remind in my pocket;" and he pulled out of his coat-pocket a large card, "with Mr and Mrs Turnbull's compliments," etcetera, which card he had doubled in two by his sitting down upon it, shortly after he came in. Mr Turnbull straightened it again as well as he could, and laid it on the table. "And Jacob," said he, "you'll come too. You don't want a remind; but if you do, my wife will send you one."
I replied, "that I wanted no remind for a good dinner."
"No, I dare say not, my boy; but recollect that you come an hour or two before the dinner-hour, to help me; there's so much fuss with one thing or another, that I'm left in the lurch; and as for trusting the keys of the spirit-room to that long-togged rascal of a butler, I'll see him harpoon'd first; so do you come and help me, Jacob."
This having been promised, he asked Mr Drummond to lend me for an hour or so, as he wished to take a row up the river. This was also consented to; we embarked and pulled away for Kew Bridge. Mr Turnbull was as good a hand at a yarn as old Tom, and many were the adventures he narrated to me of what had taken place during the vicissitudes of his life, more especially when he was employed in the Greenland fishery. He related an accident that morning, which particularly bore upon the marvellous, although I do not believe that he was at all guilty of indulging in a traveller's licence.
"Jacob," said he, "I recollect once when I was very near eaten alive by foxes, and that in a very singular manner. I was then mate of a Greenland ship. We had been on the fishing ground for three months, and had twelve fish on board. Finding we were doing well, we fixed our ice-anchors upon a very large iceberg, drifting up and down with it, and taking fish as we fell in with them. One morning we had just cast loose the carcass of a fish which we had cut up, when the man in the crow's nest, on the look-out for another 'fall,' cried out that a large polar bear and her cub were swimming over to the iceberg, against the side of which, and about half-a-mile from us, the carcass of a whale was beating. As we had nothing to do, seven of us immediately started in chase we had intended to have gone after the foxes, which had gathered there also in hundreds, to prey upon the dead whale. It was then quite calm: we soon came up with the bear, who at first was for making off; but as the cub could not get on over the rough ice as well as the old one, she at last turned round to bay. We shot the cub to make sure of her, and it did make sure of the dam not leaving us till either she or we perished in the conflict. I never shall forget her moaning over the cub, as it lay bleeding on the ice, while we fired bullet after bullet into her. At last she turned round, gave a roar and a gnashing snarl, which you might have heard a mile, and, with her eyes flashing fire, darted upon us. We received her in a body, all close together, with our lances to her breast; but she was so large and strong, that she beat us all back, and two of us fell; fortunately the others held their ground, and as she was then on end, three bullets were put into her chest, which brought her down. I never saw so large a beast in my life. I don't wish to make her out larger than she really was, but I have seen many a bullock at Smithfield which would not weigh two-thirds of her. After that, we had some trouble in despatching her; and while we were so employed, the wind blew up in gusts from the northward, and the snow fell heavy. The men were for returning to the ship immediately, which certainly was the wisest thing for us all to do; but I thought that the snowstorm would blow over in a short time, and not wishing to lose so fine a skin, resolved to remain and flay the beast; for I knew that if left there a few hours, as the foxes could not get hold of the carcass of the whale, which had not grounded, they would soon finish the bear and the cub, and the skins be worth nothing. Well, the other men went back to the ship, and as it was, the snow-storm came on so thick that they lost their way, and would never have found her, if it was not that the bell was kept tolling for a guide to them. I soon found that I had done a very foolish thing; instead of the storm blowing over, the snow came down thicker and thicker; and before I had taken a quarter of the skin off, I was becoming cold and numbed, and then I was unable to regain the ship, and with every prospect of being frozen to death before the storm was over. At last, I knew what was my only chance. I had flayed all the belly of the bear, but had not cut her open. I ripped her up, tore out all her inside, and then contrived to get into her body, where I lay, and, having closed up the entrance hole, was warm and comfortable, for the animal heat had not yet been extinguished. This manoeuvre, no doubt, saved my life: and I have heard that the French soldiers did the same in their unfortunate Russian campaign, killing their horses and getting inside to protect themselves from the dreadful weather. Well, Jacob, I had not lain more than half-an-hour, when I knew by sundry jerks and tugs at my newly invented hurricane-house that the foxes were busy—and so they were sure, enough. There must have been hundreds of them, for they were at work in all directions, and some pushed their sharp noses into the opening where I had crept in; but I contrived to get out my knife and saw their noses across whenever they touched me, otherwise I should have been eaten up in a very short time. There were so many of them, and they were so ravenous, that they soon got through the bear's thick skin, and were tearing away at the flesh. Now I was not so much afraid of their eating me, as I thought that if I jumped up and discovered myself they would have all fled. No saying, though; two or three hundred ravenous devils take courage when together; but I was afraid that they would devour my covering from the weather, and then I should perish with the cold; and I was also afraid of having pieces nipped out of me, which would of course oblige me to quit my retreat. At last daylight was made through the upper part of the carcass, and I was only protected by the ribs of the animal, between which every now and then their noses dived and nipped my sealskin jacket. I was just thinking of shouting to frighten them away, when I heard the report of half-a-dozen muskets, and some of the bullets struck the carcass, but fortunately did not hit me. I immediately halloed as loud as I could, and the men, hearing me, ceased firing. They had fired at the foxes, little thinking that I was inside of the bear. I crawled out; the storm was over, and the men of the ship had come back to look for me. My brother, who was also a mate on board of the vessel, who had not been with the first party, had joined them in the search, but with little hopes of finding me alive. He hugged me in his arms, covered as I was with blood, as soon as he saw me. He's dead now, poor fellow— That's the story, Jacob."
"Thank you, sir," replied I; but perceiving that the memory of his brother affected him, I did not speak again for a few minutes. We then resumed our conversation, and pulling back with the tide, landed at the wharf.
On the day of the dinner party I went up to Mr Turnbull's at three o'clock as he had proposed. I found the house in a bustle; Mr and Mrs Turnbull, with the butler and footman, in the dining-room, debating as to the propriety of this and that being placed here and there, both servants giving their opinion, and arguing on a footing of equality, contradicting and insisting, Mr Turnbull occasionally throwing in a word, and each time snubbed by his wife, although the servants dare not take any liberty with him. "Do, pray, Mr Turnbull, leave hus to settle these matters. Get hup your wine; that is your department. Leave the room, Mr Turnbull, hif you please. Mortimer and I know what we are about, without your hinterference."
"Oh! by the Lord, I don't wish to interfere; but I wish you and your servants not to be squabbling, that's all. If they gave me half the cheek—"
"Do, pray, Mr Turnbull, leave the room, and allow me to regulate my own 'ousehold."
"Come, Jacob, we'll go down into the cellar," said Mr Turnbull; and accordingly we went.
I assisted Mr Turnbull in his department as much as I could, but he grumbled very much. "I can't bear all this nonsense, all this finery and foolery. Everything comes up cold, everything is out of reach. The table's so long, and so covered with uneatables, that my wife is hardly within hail and, by jingo, with her the servants are masters. Not with me, at all events; for if they spoke to me as they do to Mrs Turnbull, I would kick them out of the house. However, Jacob, there's no help for it. All one asks for is quiet; and I must put up with all this sometimes, or I should have no quiet from one year's end to another. When a woman will have her way, there's no stopping her: you know the old verse—
"A man's a fool who strives by force or skill To stem the torrent of a woman's will; For if she will, she will, you may depend on't, And if she won't, she won't—and there's an end on't.
"Now let's go up into my room, and we will chat while I wash my hands."
As soon as Mr Turnbull was dressed, we went down into the drawing-room, which was crowded with tables loaded with every variety of ornamental articles. "Now this is what my wife calls fashionable. One might as well be steering through an ice-floe as try to come to an anchor here without running foul of something. It's hard-a-port or hard-a-starboard every minute; and if your coat-tail jibes, away goes something, and whatever it is that smashes, Mrs T always swears it was the most valuable thing in the room. I'm like a bull in a china-shop. One comfort is, that I never come in here except when there's company. Indeed, I'm not allowed, thank God. Sit on a chair, Jacob, one of those spider-like French things, for my wife won't allow blacks, as she calls them, to come to an anchor upon her sky-blue silk sofas. How stupid to have furniture that one's not to make use of! Give me comfort but it appears that's not to be bought for money."
HIGH LIFE ABOVE STAIRS, A LITTLE BELOW THE MARK—FASHION FRENCH, VIRTUE, AND ALL THAT.
Six o'clock was now near at hand, and Mrs Turnbull entered the drawing-room in full dress. She certainly was a very handsome woman, and had every appearance of being fashionable; but it was her language which exposed her. She was like the peacock. As long as she was silent you could but admire the plumage, but her voice spoilt all. "Now, Mr Turnbull," said she, "I wish to hexplain to you that there are certain himproprieties in your behaviour which I cannot put hup with, particularly that hof talking about when you were before the mast."
"Well, my dear, is that anything to be ashamed of?"
"Yes, Mr Turnbull, that his—one halways sinks them ere particulars in fashionable society. To wirtuperate in company a'n't pleasant, and Hi've thought of a plan which may hact as an himpediment to your vulgarity. Recollect, Mr T, whenhever I say that Hi've an 'eadache, it's to be a sign for you to 'old your tongue; and, Mr T, hoblige me by wearing kid gloves all the evening."
"What! at dinner time, my dear?"
"Yes, Mr T, at dinner time; your 'ands are not fit to be touched."
"Well, I recollect when you thought otherwise."
"When, Mr T? 'ave I not often told you so?"
"Yes, lately; but I referred to the time when one Poll Bacon of Wapping took my hand for better or for worse."
"Really, Mr T, you quite shock me. My name was Mary, and the Bacons are a good old Hinglish name. You 'ave their harms quartered on the carriage in right o' me. That's something, I can tell you."
"Something I had to pay for pretty smartly, at all events."
"The payment, Mr T, was on account of granting harms to you, who never 'ad any."
"And never wished for them. What do I care for such stuff?"
"And when you did choose, Mr Turnbull, you might have consulted me, instead of making yourself the laughing-stock of Sir George Naylor and all the 'eralds. Who but a madman would have chosen three harpoons saluims, and three barrels couchants, with a spouting whale for a crest? Just to point out to everybody what should hever be buried in hoblivion; and then your beastly motto—which I would have changed—'Blubber for ever!' Blubber indeed! henough to make hany one blubber for ever."
"Well, the heralds told me they were just what I ought to have chosen, and very apposite, as they termed it."