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steward's perquisite. It is hardly politic, nor is it quite fair. A passenger is forbidden to bring his own wine ; the advertisement says, it “ may be had on board ;” and for 6 may ” we read “must.”
One thing strikes me at the very outset in these American steamers, of immense importance as an improvement - they consume their own smoke. The little tug was clouding all the deck with her black volumes. The smoke of this vessel's immense boilers was almost imperceptible, and so continued, even at the instant of throwing on fresh coals. Why is it that our steamers in all our rivers and waters are allowed to remain such detestable nuisances in this particular--in our harbours, in the Thames above all—we recal London-bridge and along the Pool.
Those who travel must have no tender sympathies to throw away on the poor brute creation. One unhappy cow, torn from her calf, continues to low; the poor thing is in her crib before the paddle-box, where there is another for the supply of inilk, partner in her misfortune. These creatures suffer much while on board.
Our first twenty-four hours finds us getting a final glimpse of the last rocks and lighthouses of the Scilly Isles. The weather is without a cloud, most beautiful, and those sterile continuations of the granite ridge of Cornwall lie basking deceitfully in the genial sun. But sunny days, or clouds and night, make all the difference in their terrors.
We made the northward passage, keeping on the Channel parallel of latitude for the present, instead of steering at once to the southward of west ; the great desideratum being to get to the westward as fast as ever the engines and fine easterly breeze will take us. By-the-by, this east wind already feels more soft across the waves than it did at home, where we justly hate east winds. We roll gently, the water is as quiet and smooth as it ever is at sea. But even this slight motion is too much for all heads and stomachs. The women are all uneasy, or half ill, and so are many of the men. Our run has been about two hundred and forty miles from Cowes. During the night we pass abreast of Ireland and Cape Clear, but too far off the land to see it. Coming from the States or the West Indies, it is highly desirable to “sight ” Cape Clear, as a leading mark for the Channel.
The Americans, laugh as we may, still go “ahead” of us. They do things on a wise and comprehensive scale. There are no less, I am told, than a hundred and six persons belonging to this steamer; which is by no means so large, so fast, or so fine, as some of those of “ Collins's line" to Liverpool, the great rival just now of the Cunard line. This great number of persons consists of the sailors, engineers, stokers, cabin servants, stewards, stewardess, and their assistants ; captain, mates, and cooks. All seem to work with the most perfect understanding and harmony. We never hear a word above a breath. It is necessary to have them pointed out to know the captain and chief-mate from any of the passengers; nobody seems to want any orders or directions.
We have eighty or ninety passengers in the first class cabins, and fifty or sixty in the second class forward, but hardly inferior in comfort to the first. The only thing which marks an awkward distinction for a brief two weeks, or only ten days sometimes from land to land, is the notice on the side forbidding the second class to come on the quarter-deck. It is terrible. It at once divides us into two castes. I could not help dwelling upon this unpleasant fact. How much we are the creatures of sur-, rounding opinion, no matter how imaginary our petty distinctions are
how ungenerous, how absurd. So, too, I thought of my handsome friend, Mrs. G- , who went to New York in the second class to economiseshe who, immediately on her arrival, will be in the first class society there, where certainly very few of the mere steam-boat first classes can get, or those, many of whom I see at the same table here. There appears no help for it, but it is extremely humiliating and uncomfortable while it lasts ; it leaves a feeling of undue irritation upon the mind.
With four of us in the same small cabin on the second or lower deck, under the dining saloon, or great cabin, the air is too hot and close. The ventilation is capitally contrived, and all as well planned as possible, still I get up pretty early to wash and dress out of the way, and gain the deck as soon as it is washed and getting dry. Now, though the weather and the wind, that potent spirit afloat, is charming and fair, there is nothing to be seen but the dancing blue waters and the clear sky. We are cut off from the world, in our little humanity sense, and hum alone in our bee-hive upon the solemn waste of waters, from the grandeur of which we inevitably shrink
Dark heaving, boundless, endless, and sublime-
Of the Invisible. We now begin to talk to each other with less reserve. We make friendly little knots in particular conversation. Sitting next each other at table is one link to further intimacy; and all takes the couleur de rose. Thank heaven! there will be no time for faults, or insufferable tedium, or to be bored to death. One can act up to a certain point, and be all things to all men, and that not too long at once, or our sincerity and impatience may get the better.
Yesterday the deck was chalked for a game requiring strength and address, called shovel-board. A certain number of squares are numbered, into which round, flat, wooden quoits are to be propelled, or slid along the deck, from a distance. It is good exercise. Other parties are playing cards ; and most of the men smoking, by way of passing the time. Some are at chess and backgammon.
In all our accounts of similar trips, I do not recollect to have seen any minute description of the manner in which so many people thrown suddenly together spend their time; and the general economy of the cabins and the crews. To be sea-sick, and to long for the end of the passage, comprise all we hear; as if there were nothing to say or nothing to know. In good sooth, the subject seems little less monotonous than it is in itself, but a little information may be extracted from it.
Eating and drinking seem the great business of our lives ; here intensely condensed. It must, too, be confessed to an Englishman, these necessary enjoyments are inconceivably varied and copious. We breakfast at half-past eight, A.M. ; a gong is sounded at seven to awaken the passengers to their toilets. A walk in the fresh morning air is desirable as a preparatory, for the night is passed in stilling heat to all those not having a skuttle or window in their cabins. Certainly, though the arrangements and fitting up of the lower-deck cabins are excellent, with every contrivance for the circulation of air, four men lying within two or three feet of each other on little shelves, for the cabins are only six or eight feet square, makes it anything but pleasant. The wind, getting more to the south, and softer, begins to tell upon us. I often awoke from a feverish slumber in a profuse prespiration. But to our eating economies. We lunch at twelve, and dine punctually at three o'clock, not too much hurried. Sometimes we have ice creams, pears, dried fruits, oranges, apples, chestnuts at dessert, and wine often, more or less. Everybody calls for it in turn. Sometimes we have champagne. Tea is ready at seven o'clock, when there is only too much of meat repeated on the table. Then, perhaps, we have a little music, a walk, and so to bed.
It is the 13th of September, the weather still lovely ; our boots are well cleaned ; towels, water, all well supplied. Indeed, the supply of napkins, towels, and the like, every day for such a number of people is quite wonderful—how do they manage it?
Our breakfasts are as sumptuous as our dinners, every conceivable thing on the table: hot rolls, toast, bread, butter, ice, eggs, beefsteaks, venison, cutlets-veal, mutton-chops; fish-fried, salt, and fresh; coffee and tea, both good, and milk in abundance in large pitchers. It puzzles me how the poor cow or two can possibly yield it.
Two small brigs are in sight on the extreme horizon, one evidently bound for Europe, the other outward bound. The horizon from our deck may be reckoned at ten miles.
The women seem most affected by the gentle roll inseparable from the broad Atlantic. Their discomfort will endure, as it is not enough to make them fairly sea-sick ; so they stave it off as they can, and suffer more or less in consequence. The men are all in groups, at cards. There is a good piano in the cabin, and last night the women attempted a little music; but the rolling, though very gentle, cut short the concert. The piano is near the stern windows ; either end of the vessels having, of course, most motion. Many of the ladies play and sing. Some of the men are no doubt good musicians--the Germans, we may be sure. One of their lads played a little.
The captain speaks of the relative merits of steamers ; that is, of the liners. He says a steamer cannot be too long ; that now-a-days they are made as strong as possible ; much more so than the unhappy President or the Great Britain, a sister ship, which was shortly broke up, as unseaworthy and good for nothing. It was known that the President was a badly built vessel, but of such things our paper public know nothing. Nay, with all the parade of news, and minute details of every possible transaction, how little of the real “ naked truth” is ever known.
As the Washington is certainly a slow steamer, we can only rely on her being a good sea boat should we have bad weather. They say she is ; and as each day lightens us of some thirty-eight tons, not only will she go faster as she rises, but will be of course more buoyant--the first element of safety.
A poor little dog and cat have disappeared since we sailed. One may guess their fate from the unfeeling way we hear them talk of the poor dumb creation. Why should man ever act such tricks as make the angels weep? Dogs are charged five pounds passage-money. Few except the French are kind to a little lap-dog; a French lady very sensibly never suffers it to leave her day or night. In this respect, the mulattoes and negroes on board are quite as unkindly and ferocious as their master ; they show no compassion. How are our sympathies thrown away on the miseries of mankind! We chatter of slavery, and waste our commiseration. We injure our West India possessions in the name of mercy, and
act ten thousand hard-hearted tyrannies all over the world; and in every variety of circumstance, but always with a “distinction.”
I had hoped our daily run, helped by all the sails to the favouring breeze, would reach at least two hundred and fifty miles a-day. It is not so. Yesterday, our bulletin on a card inside the stair-head cuddy only told of two hundred and thirty-four. Bets are laid that we are not in under fourteen days ; but, unless head winds arise, even this moderate rate will take us across in twelve.
I find there is a surgeon on board by mere accident; this might easily be unknown.
The rapidity of action, and smartness of the cabin servants, is astonishing. Our own clever waiters are comparatively sluggish. Here their whole waking time is employed putting the cloths and plates on and off the tables. Glad must they be when the tea at eight o'clock is finally cleared away, leaving the night to themselves. The fore-cabin or secondclass passengers, of whom we know no more than if they lived in the next street, have a separate establishment of cooks and servants; their meals served as regularly as with the first class. Their cabin is on the same deck as ours, ranging before the engines. It looks as commodious and as comfortable as the first, only not quite so large or handsomely fitted up ; things in themselves of very little moment.
* As I lay last night in one of my frequent waking moments, finding the lamp still burning, and the night evidently far gone, I was in the act of " turning out,” for get up one cannot, to blow it out, when the door opened, and one of the black servants put it out, saying the captain forbid any lights in the private cabins after eleven o'clock P.m. It was then I found it was past midnight. I was glad to get rid of this small addition to our heat. It is well we four individuals go to bed and get up at different hours. It is impossible to dress, or even move, except one at a time. I am first in bed and first up. A French youth sleeps over me ; going to the States to learn book-keeping, English, and of course, American enterprise, although his father, a French merchant, boasts of his wealth in Paris. Still, he is for launching his son in the “go-ahead” New World.
I pity the young mothers here with their children. Some have babies in arms with no rest night nor day; besides their own nausea to contend with. Their husbands appear very kind and attentive, but cannot comfort or help them much.
We keep on the circle sailing track, following the same parallel of latitude ; indeed, as the wind sticks steady south, it sends us, steering west by north, a degree farther to the north. Our run to-day from the bulletin was two hundred and sixty miles for the last twenty-four hours. All rejoice, in spite of an increased uneasiness from the greater swell. We fancy a gale must have recently swept over this track of the ocean. A few porpoises are seen, but they soon leave us, annoyed or frightened by the noise and foam of the paddles. Otherwise, they will often gambol half a day round a ship, and pleasant, lively companions they are. They have been called the pigs of the ocean, from their compact shape and the taste of their flesh.
We have a minister, two, indeed, of our religion on board, but there is no service; I think wisely, so numerous are the different professions of faith. Jews, Catholics, dissenters of all shades, and members of the Church of England. Any one service would act as a sort of unexpressed reproach on the rest, so it is better we should all silently pray to the almighty power—to our great Creator. O God ! let me here on the face of the waters of thy mighty deep offer up my gratitude and love, and humble submission to thy will, blot from my mind my recent sorrows, harden that weak tenderness of soul which still fills my eyes with tears of anguish!
“ Thy will be done," let me not feel the misery of losing my beloved, my solace, my remaining comfort. That time, swift "stealing from us every day,” brings still its softening balm to our hurt bosoms, and makes us hail the approach when “ stealing us from ourselves away,” will be less and less dreaded. How infinite is thy goodness.
I still mourn my lost sweet love. She whom I have played with and watched and been wound up in as my other self ; the opening flower to smooth, and give a balm to my declining years. The agony and bitterness of the blow is already softened to me. I am less stupified at the great calamity. I venture to think, and recal past tenderness, past endearments, past excellence, promising all a fond father could anticipate to love and admire-all now cut off by an inexorable decree—so young, so admirable, so loveable. How hard, how very hard to be cut off from this bright sun, this beautiful world, to thee while still appearing in all the freshness of its most enchanting colours. What time have I to recreateto forget-to replace my irreparable loss? What are all the millions of man's worth to me ?-nothing left! The dreary fallen leaf, and falling snows, a little fire to warm my chilled limbs, a little common-place, and I join thy poor innocent soul — let me hope in heaven !*
But to the immediate business of the remaining dull life. The waves rising remind me of eternity and of fate
Rough hew as we may,
The conduct of our lives. The wind remains steady south with a tendency to the west. Each day, however, the weather thickens, and we have more swell and motion. All grows more sombre. Two violins have been taken from their cases, and a few notes struck on the piano; but sweet notes languish and the sounds cease. People's heads are down. Fewer appear at table, unable to withstand the “send,” or pitching, which rather increases, while our sails are nearly close-hauled. They do us little good at any time, and now only serve to steady us a little. To-day our card bulletin tells us of 250 miles since noon yesterday. We have got across more than a third of our way,
Steamers often meet each other midway, and one should think ours must meet some vessel, even steamers, much oftener. But such is the vastness of the ocean, such the minuteness of these immense vessels that cross each other that it is not so. Other causes of course operate; thick weather, and the small distance of the visible horizon. Nor do seamen care much about the matter, unless they are very near indeed. They do not even speak each other, or go a yard out of their way to do it. This indifference, on the progressing principle, is not kind or pleasant-is it wise? I write this very little at my ease--not ill, not well. It rains, and the few not lying down, are at the cabin tables, at chess, cards, and smoking ; some few reading to pass the time.
* The writer had just lost an only child.