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family, so that, if it were possible that Jack | be the handsomest Littlebrain that the country could have been taught anything, the means had ever produced. Our hero viewed the were forthcoming: he was sent to every school preparations made for his departure with perin the country; but it was in vain. At every fect indifference, and wished everybody good-by following vacation he was handed over from with the utmost composure. He was a happy, the one pedagogue to the other, of those whose good-tempered fellow, who never calculated, names were renowned for the Busbian system because he could not; never decided, for he of teaching by stimulating both ends; he was had not wit enough to choose; never foresaw, horsed every day and still remained an ass, although he could look straight before him: and at the end of six months, if he did not and never remembered, because he had no run away before that period was over, he was memory. The line, "If ignorance is bliss, 'tis invariably sent back to his parents as incor- folly to be wise," was certainly made especially rigible and unteachable. What was to be done for Jack; nevertheless he was not totally dewith him? The Littlebrains had always got ficient: he knew what was good to eat or drink, on in the world, somehow or another, by their for his taste was perfect, his eyes were very interest and connections; but here was one sharp, and he could discover in a moment if a who might be said to have no brains at all. peach was ripe on the wall; his hearing was After many pros and cons, and after a variety quick, for he was the first in the school to of consulting letters had passed between the detect the footsteps of his pedagogue; and he various members of his family, it was decided, could smell anything savoury nearly a mile that as his maternal uncle, Sir Theophilus off, if the wind lay the right way. Moreover. Blazers, G. C. B., was at that time second in he knew that if he put his fingers in the fre command in the Mediterranean, he should be that he would burn himself; that knives cut sent to sea under his command; the admiral severely; that birch tickled, and several other having, in reply to a letter on the subject, little axioms of this sort which are generally answered that it was hard indeed if he did not ascertained by children at an early age, but lick him into some shape or another; and that, which Jack's capacity had not received until at at all events, he'd warrant that Jack should a much later date. Such as he was, our hero be able to box the compass before he had been went to sea; his stock in his sea-chest being three months nibbling the ship's biscuit; fur- very abundant, while his stock of ideas was ther, that it was very easy to get over the ex- proportionably small. amination necessary to qualify him for lieutenant, as a turkey and a dozen of brown-stout sent in the boat with him on the passing day, as a present to each of the passing captains, would pass him, even if he were as incompetent as a camel (or, as they say at sea, a cable) to pass through the eye of a needle; that having once passed, he would soon have him in command of a fine frigate, with a good nursing first lieutenant; and that if he did not behave himself properly, he would make his signal to come on board of the flag-ship, take him into the cabin, and give him a sound horse-whipping, as other admirals have been known to inflict upon their own sons under similar circumstances. The reader must be aware that, from the tenor of Sir Theophilus' letter, the circumstances which we are narrating must have occurred some fifty years ago.
We will pass over all the trans-shipments of Jack until he was eventually shipped on board the Mendacious, then lying at Malta, with the flag of Sir Theophilus Blazers at the fore-a splendid ship, carrying 120 guns, and nearly 120 midshipmen of different calibres. (I pass over captain, lieutenant, and ship's company. having made mention of her most valuable qualifications.) Jack was received with a hearty welcome by his uncle, for he came in pudding-time, and was invited to dinner: and the admiral made the important discovery, that if his nephew was a fool in other points, he was certainly no fool at his knife and fork. In a short time his messmates found out that he was no fool at his fists, and his knock-down arguments ended much disputation. Indeed, as the French would say, Jack was perfection in the physique, although so very deficient in the morale.
When Jack was informed that he was to be a midshipman, he looked up in the most innocent way in the world (and innocent he was, sure enough), turned on his heels, and whistled as he went for want of thought. For the last three months he had been at home, and his chief employment was kissing and romping with the maids, who declared him to
But if Pandora's box proved a plague to the whole world, Jack had his individual portion of it, when he was summoned to box the compass by his worthy uncle Sir Theophilus Blazers: who, in the course of six months, discovered that he could not make his nephew box it in the three, which he had warranted in his letter:
every day our hero's ears were boxed, but the compass never. It required all the cardinal virtues to teach him the cardinal points during the forenoon, and he made a point of forgetting them before the sun went down. Whenever they attempted it (and various were the teachers employed to drive the compass into Jack's head), his head drove round the compass; and try all he could, Jack never could compass it. It appeared, as some people are said only to have one idea, as if Jack could only have one point in his head at a time, and to that point he would stand like a well-broken pointer. With him the wind never changed till the next day. His uncle pronounced him to be a fool, but that did not hurt his nephew's feelings; he had been told so too often already.
I have said that Jack had a great respect for good eating and drinking, and, moreover, was blessed with a good appetite: every person has his peculiar fancies, and if there was anything which more titillated the palate and olfactory nerves of our hero, it was a roast goose with sage and onions. Now it so happened, that having been about seven months on board of the Mendacious, Jack had one day received a summons to dine with the admiral, for the steward had ordered a roast goose for dinner, and knew not only that Jack was partial to it, but also that Jack was the admiral's nephew, which always goes for something on board of a flag-ship. Just before they were sitting down! to table, the admiral wishing to know how the wind was, and having been not a little vexed with the slow progress of his nephew's nautical acquirements, said, Now, Mr. Littlebrain, go up and bring me down word how the wind is; and mark me, as, when you are sent, nine times out of ten you make a mistake, I shall now bet you five guineas against your dinner, that you make a mistake this time: so now be off and we will soon ascertain whether you lose your dinner or I lose my money. Sit down, gentlemen, we will not wait for Mr. Littlebrain." Jack did not much admire this bet on the part of his uncle, but still less did he like the want of good manners in not waiting for him. He had just time to see the covers removed, to scent a whiff of the goose, and was off.
"The admiral wants to know how the wind is, sir," said Jack to the officer of the watch.
The officer of the watch went to the binnacle, and setting the wind as nearly as he could, replied, "Tell Sir Theophilus that it is S. W. and by W. W."
"That's one of those confounded long points that I never can remember," cried Jack, in despair.
"Then you'll get goose,' as the saying is," observed one of the midshipmen.
"No; I'm afraid that I sha'n't get any," replied Jack, despondingly. "What did he say, S. W. and by N. E.?"
Not exactly," replied his messmate, who was a good-natured lad, and laughed heartily at Jack's version. "S. W. and by W. W."
"I never can remember it," cried Jack. "I'm to have five guineas if I do, and no dinner if I don't; and if I stay here much longer, I shall get no dinner at all events, for they are all terribly peckish, and there will be none left."
"Well, if you'll give me one of the guineas, I'll show you how to manage it," said the midshipman.
"I'll give you two, if you'll only be quick and the goose a'n't all gone," replied Jack.
The midshipman wrote down the point from which the wind blew, at full length, upon a bit of paper, and pinned it to the rim of Jack's hat. Now," said he, "when you go into the cabin, you can hold your hat so as to read it without their perceiving you."
"Well, so I can; I never should have thought of that," said Jack.
'Nevertheless, it's full of point," replied the midshipman: "now be quick."
Our hero's eyes served him well if his memory was treacherous; and as he entered the cabin door he bowed over his hat very politely, and said, as he read it off, "S. W. and by W. W.," and then he added, without reading at all, "if you please, Sir Theophilus."
"Steward," said the admiral, "tell the officer of the watch to step down."
"How's the wind, Mr. Growler?"
Then, Mr. Littlebrain, you have won your five guineas, and may now sit down and enjoy your dinner."
Our hero was not slow in obeying the order, and ventured, upon the strength of his success, to send his plate twice for goose. Having eaten their dinner, drunk their wine, and taken their coffee, the officers, at the same time, took the hint which invariably accompanies the latter beverage, made their bows and retreated. As Jack was following his seniors out of the cabin, the admiral put the sum which he had staked into his hands, observing, that "it was an ill wind that blew [ nobody good."
So thought Jack, who, having faithfully paid the midshipman the two guineas for his assistance, was now on the poop keeping his watch, as midshipmen usually do; that is, stretched out on the signal lockers and composing himself to sleep after the most approved fashion, answering the winks of the stars by blinks of his eyes, until at last he shut them to keep them warm. But, before he had quite composed himself, he thought of the goose and the five guineas. The wind was from the same quarter, blowing soft and mild; Jack lay in a sort of reverie, as it fanned his cheek, for the weather was close and sultry.
yet apparently possessing substance; her features were beautifully soft and mild, and her outline trembled and shifted as it were, waving gently to and fro. It smiled sweetly, hung over him, played with his chestnut curls, softly touched his lips with her own, passed her trembling fingers over his cheeks, and its warm breath appeared as if it melted into his. Then it grew more bold,- embraced his person, searched into his neck and collar, as if curious to examine him.
Jack felt a pleasure and gratification which he could not well comprehend: once more the charmer's lips trembled upon his own, now remaining for a moment, now withdrawing. again returning to kiss and kiss again, and once more did the soft voice put the question,
"Do you love me?"
"Better than goose," replied Jack. "I don't know who goose may be," replied the fairy form, as she tossed about Jack's way ing locks; you must love only me, promise me that before I am relieved."
"What, have you got the first watch, as well as me?" replied Jack.
I am on duty just now, but I shall not be so long. We southerly winds are never kept long in one place; some of my sisters will probably be sent here soon."
This ruffled the wind a little, and she blew rather sharp into the corner of Jack's eye,— however she proceeded,—
"You are a sailor, and of course you know all the winds on the compass by name."
"I wish I did; but I don't," replied Littlebrain; "I can recollect you, and not one other.
Again the wind trembled with delight on his lips, and she proceeded:—“You know that there are thirty-two points on the compass, and these points are divided into quarters; so that there are, in fact, 128 different winds."
"There are more than I could ever remember; I know that," said Jack.
"Well, we are in all 128. All the winds which have northerly in them are coarse and ugly; all the southern winds are pretty." "You don't say so?" replied our hero.
'We are summoned to blow, as required, but the hardest duty generally falls to the northerly winds, as it should do, for they are the strongest; although we southerly winds can blow hard enough when we choose. Our characters are somewhat different. The most unhappy in disposition, and I may say the most malevolent, are the north and easterly winds; the N.W. winds are powerful, but not unkind; the S.E. winds vary, but, at all events, we of the S. W. are considered the mildest and most beneficent. Do you understand me?"
Not altogether. You're going right round the compass, and I never could make it out, that's a fact. I hear what you say, but I cannot promise to recollect it; I can only recollect S. W. and by W. W."
"I care only for your recollecting me; if you do that, you may forget all the rest. Now you see we South Wests are summer winds, and are seldom required but in this season; I have often blown over your ship these last three months, and I always have lingered near you, for I loved you."
"Thank you-now go on, for seven bells have struck some time, and I shall be going to turn in. Is your watch out?"
"No, I shall blow for some hours longer. Why will you leave me-why wo'n't you stay on deck with me?"
What, stay on deck after my watch is out? No, if I do, blow me! We midshipmen never do that but I say, why can't you come down with me, and turn in my hammock; it's close to the hatchway, and you can easily do it."
'Well, I will, upon one promise. You say that you love me, now I'm very jealous, for we winds are always supplanting one another. Promise me that you will never mention any other wind in the compass but me, for if you do, they may come to you, and if I hear of it I'll blow the masts out of your ship, that I will."
Littlebrain was as good as his word; he cut down his relief, and then thrashed him for venturing to expostulate. The consequence was, that in ten minutes he was in his hammock, and "S. W. and by W. W." came gently down the hatchway and rested in his arms. Jack soon fell fast asleep, and when he was wakened up the next morning by the quarter-master, his bedfellow was no longer there. A mate inquiring how the wind was, was answered by the quarter-master that they had a fresh breeze from the N. N. W., by which Jack understood that his sweetheart was no longer on duty.
Our hero had passed such a happy night with his soft and kind companion, that he could think of nothing else; he longed for her to come again, and, to the surprise of everybody, was now perpetually making inquiries as to the wind which blew. He thought of her continually; and in fact was as much in love with "S. W. and by W. W." as he possibly could be. She came again-once more
"You don't say so?" replied Jack, survey- did he enjoy her delightful company; again ing her fragile, trembling form. she slept with him in his hammock, and then, after a short stay, she was relieved by another.
"Yes, I will, and on a lee-shore too; so that the ship shall go to pieces on the rocks, and the admiral and every soul on board her be drowned."
We do not intend to accuse the wind of inconstancy, as that was not her fault; nor of treachery, for she loved dearly; nor of violence, for she was all softness and mildness; but we do say, that "S. W. and by W. W." was the occasion of Jack being very often in a scrape, for our hero kept his word; he forgot all other winds, and with him there was no other ex80
No, you wouldn't, would you?" said our hero, astonished.
"Not if you promise me. Then I'll come to you and pour down your windsails, and dry your washed clothes as they hang on the rig
"I can't sleep on my watch as midshipmen do; but I'll watch you while you sleep, and I'll fan your cheeks, and keep you cool and comfortable, till I'm relieved.
"And when you go, when will you come again?"
"That I cannot tell-when I'm summoned; and I shall wait with impatience, that you may be sure of."
There's eight bells," said Jack, starting up; "I must go down and call the officer of the middle watch; but I'll soon turn in, for my relief is not so big as myself, and I can thrash him."
cept his dear S. W. and by W. W." It must be admitted of Jack, that, at all events, he showed great perseverance, for he stuck to his point.
Our hero would argue with his messmates, for it is not those who are most capable of arguing who are most fond of it; and, like all arguers not very brilliant, he would flounder and diverge away right and left, just as the flaws of ideas came into his head.
"What nonsense it is your talking that way," would his opponent say; "why don't you come to the point?"
"And so I do," cried Jack.
"Well, then, what is your point?" "S. W. and by W. W.," replied our hero. Who could reply to this? But in every instance, and through every difficulty, our hero kept his promise, until his uncle, Sir Theophilus, was very undecided whether he should send him home to be locked up in a lunatic asylum, or bring him on in the service to the rank of post-captain. Upon mature consideration, however, as a man in Bedlam is a very useless member of society, and a teetotal nonproductive, whereas a captain in the navy is a responsible agent, the admiral came to the conclusion that Littlebrain must follow up his destiny.
Nothing could have been made more easy for Littlebrain than his examination. The questions had all been arranged beforehand: and some kind friend had given him all the answers written down. The passing captains apparently suffered from the heat of the weather, and each had his hand on his brow, looking down on the table at the time that Littlebrain gave his answers, so that of course they did not observe that he was reading them off. As soon as Littlebrain had given his answer, and had had sufficient time to drop his paper under the table, the captains felt better and looked up again.
Time flies-even a midshipman's time, which does not fly quite so fast as his money-and the time came for Mr. Littlebrain's examination. Sir Theophilus, who now commanded the whole fleet, was almost in despair. How was it possible that a man could navigate a ship with only one quarter point of the compass in his head?
There were but eight questions for our hero to answer. Seven had been satisfactorily got through; then came the eighth, a very simple one:-"What is your course and distance from Ushant to the Start?" This question having been duly put, the captains were again in deep meditation, shrouding their eyes with the palms of their hands.
Littlebrain had his answer-he looked at the paper. What could be more simple than to reply?-and then the captains would have all risen up, shaken him by the hand, compli mented him upon the talent he had displayed, sent their compliments to the commander-inchief, and their thanks for the geese. was just answering, "North
Recollect your promise!" cried a soft voice, which Jack well recollected.
At last Jack was set down as the greatest fool in the ship, and was pointed out as such. The ladies observed that such might possibly be the case, but at all events he was the handsomest young man in the Mediterranean fleet. We believe that both parties were correct in their assertions.
a mission to Genoa about nothing; another to watch for vessels never expected, off Sardinia; two more to cruize after a French frigate which had never been built: and thus, by degrees, did the admiral arrange, so as to obtain a set of officers sufficiently pliant to allow his nephew to creep under the gate which barred his promotion, and which he never could have vaulted over. So the signal was made our hero went on board-his uncle had not forgotten the propriety of a little douceur on the occasion; and, as the turkeys were all gone, three couple of geese were sent in the same boat, as a present to each of the three passing captains. Littlebrain's heart failed him as he pulled to the ship; even the geese hissed at him, as much as to say, "If you were not such a stupid ass, we might have been left alive in our coops." There was a great deal of truth in that remark, if they did say so.
Sir Theophilus scratched his wig; and the disposition of the Mediterranean fleet, so important to the country, was altered according to the dispositions of the captains who commanded the ships. In those days there were martinets in the service; officers who never overlooked an offence, or permitted the least deviation from strict duty; who were generally hated, but at the same time were most valuable to the service. As for his nephew passing his examination before any of those of the first or second, or even of the third degree, the admiral knew that it was impossible. The consequence was, that one was sent away on