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3rd, Of their agency in war, and bravery and fidelity with which they defend their country in the hour of peril, he would say no more than this—that in England the sentiment was universal, that
“Britain's best bulwarks are her wooden walls."
And he believed that in America, while the land forces had not been found wanting in the faithful discharge of their duties, the fleets and squadrons, and even the single ships of the United States' navy, had evinced as much bravery and skill as those of any other ships in the world; and defended their flag with a fidelity that all must admire. The neglected seamen of both countries might, therefore, appropriately sing, in the language of their popular poet Dibdin
« Then, Oh! protect the hardy tar,
Be mindful of his merit;
He'll show his daring spirit.” If, however, seamen, as a class, present these powerful claims on the community, from being the principal agents in the promotion of discoveries—the establishment of commerce—and the defence of their country from hostile powers-they are no less entitled to admiration for the general qualities and characteristics by which they are distinguished from most others. Their bravery is so tempered by gentleness and generosity, that a thorough-bred and true-hearted sailor has been well described as
“In war like a lion—in peace like a lamb.": And this generosity is so shewn to foe as well as to friend, that the maxim by which their battles is conducted, is to give fair play during the combat—to shew mercy when it is ended—and to rescue all whom they can from perishing
“To snatch even the vanquished from death and the grave,
For the true-hearted seaman but conquers to save."
Then again, in all their domestic affections, who can surpass the sons of the ocean-fidelity is their constant character, and their friendship is as firm as their love is ardent and sincere. Faithful to their country. their commander, their officers, and their shipmates, under every possible trial; fond, as lovers, husbands, and fathers, of those whom they are bound to protect; and filial and affectionate to their aged parents and relatives, whatever may be their condition ; and, at the same time generous to a fault, to all who are in need for their motto is
“ While a shot's in the locker, a messmate to bless,
It shall always be shared with a friend in distress."
Such are their claims to sympathy, admiration, and, if necessary, sup
port, by the importance of the duties they fulfil in the great business of life, and by the manner in which they blend the social and domestic virtues with the sterner features of their character.
Thirdly-Mr. Buckingham next pointed out the disadvantages under which seamen, as a class, laboured, as compared with other portions of the community : 1. From the necessity of giving to a thorough-bred seaman the training of his limbs and muscles to the necessary degree of flexibility to mount the high and giddy mast; and the necessary degree of firmness to suffer and endure, as well as to be cool and self-possessed in the hour of the greatest danger-a training which could only be acquired by sending boys very early to sea. They all laboured under the great disadvantage of imperfect education. No morning or evening academy, no Sunday school, no domestic tuition, was open to them; but from the moment of their embarkation on a sea life, the winds and waves were their only teachers, and the power to do and dare, to suffer and to sustain, were the only lessons they learnt-o that very many could neither read nor write, and would therefore never rise above their first condition as common seamen before the mast. 2. The same cir. cumstance of their going so early to sea, cut them off from all the powerful, though endearing influences of a mother's tenderness, a father's care, a brother's admonition, or a sister's love these influences which effect so much when rightly directed in the formation of character, and surround the young and incautious with a protecting shield. 3. They were also deprived, by this early separation from their homes, of the valuable lessons of prudence and economy, in the acquisition, use, and disbursements of money. While youths of other trades or professions received their wages in small portions at a time, and learned by habit the important duty of keeping some adjusted balance between their income and expenditure, boys at sea received all their earnings in large sums, at distant intervals of time; and being thus unused to the gradual and moderate expenditure of their earnings in small sums, they were wholly disqualified for the custody of large amounts; and generally, like children, were eagerly impatient to spend all they received as speedily as possible, often purchasing present pleasure at the expense of future pain
Fourthly-If this, said Mr. Buckingham, were their condition, and no other circumstances called upon us to hold out to them the friendly aid of counsel and support, it were sufficient to enlist our sympathies because their very weakness, and the unprotected state in which they are, makes them, like children, unable to take care of themselves. The same chivalrous spirit, therefore, which impels a man to rush to the protection of a woman, when she is in distress -or a child, when it is imposed upon-ought to impel us to the sailor's rescue; for true chi. valry consists in defending the weak against the strong, and helping those who most stand in need of our assistance. If it be asked who are the strong that take advantage of the seaman's weakness, and impose upon his good nature and credulity, to their benefit and to his wrong ? The answer will be this,-in almost every sea-port in Britain and in America, there is a class of persons, most appropriately called by the seamen themselves Land Sharks,' who, like that monster of the deep, lie in wait only to devour. These are the grog-shop keepers, who, under the guise of boarding-houses for seamen, lure them into their dens of intoxication, profligacy, and vice; and first drowning their reason by stupifying drinks, then inflaming their passions by every excitement they can place in their way, at length bind them captive in their chains-drain them of every dollar they possess and when they have wrested from them all their hard-earned gains, they either turn them adrift on the world to shift for themselves, with bodies diseased by the poison they have made them swallow--minds disordered by the scenes of vice in which they have mingled-clothing gone, by being pledged at the pawnbrokers for debts or for drink—and neither food, raiment, nor home; or else they hold them in bondage until some ship is in want of hands, when the poor victims are transferred to the vessel, and the month's wages in advance, which ought to be applied to the sailor's outfit, in giving him the requisite stock of clothes and necessaries for his voyage, is absorbed by the harpy, in whose custody he is for the payment of some arrear of debt--not contracted for the sailor's comfortable subsistence, but run up against him for the rum he has been persuaded to drink, and for other vicious indulgences as ruinous to the body as to the soul.
Such, said Mr. Buckingham, is the condition of the great bulk of the seamen in England and America ; two of the most intelligent, powerful, wealthy, moral, and religious nations in the world. But, I ask, he added, is not this the deeper reproach to us all — that in two such nations such a state of things should exist ? and that all our intelligence, power, wealth, morality, and religion, should not yet have taught us to perform the act of the good Samaritan towards our wounded and suffering fellow-countryman, the seamen of our waterswho, like the traveller, have literally fallen among thieves,' and who have lain for a long while stripped, naked, and bleeding, in the highway; while the priest and the levite have looked on, and passed by on the other side. "Let it be our duty, then, said the speaker, to bind up their bruised limbs to pour wine and oil into their bleeding wounds, and to set them on our own beast, and convey them to an inn, and leave there something for their maintenance and comfort till they recover. Our duty as christians, is plain,-for, in the language of our blessed Saviour, we have but to look upon the example of the good Samaritan, and then follow our Lord's benign advice, ‘Go thou and do likewise.'
NARRATIVE OF THE WRECK OF THE SHIP PROTECTOR.'
(From the Calcutta Christian Observer.')
This unfortunate vessel was totally lost on the night of the 16th of October, 1838, on one of many dangerous reefs at the mouth of the river Hughly, at the very termination of her voyage; and out of nearly two-hundred souls, only one sailor and three recruits lived to tell
anything of the sad tale. A few particulars connected with the melancholy event, and the only ones which can be gathered, have been taken from the lips of the only surviving seaman. They possess an interest, though it be a melancholy one, and read us a lesson of the most painful kind, saying unto us,— Be ye also ready, for in such an hour as ye think not, the Son of man cometh.' This unfortunate vessel sailed from London about the middle of June, having passengers on board, and recruits, with women, children, the crew, captain, officers, &c. altogether making a total of about 200 souls. She had had up to the 11th or 12th of October, when nearing the shores of India, a pleasant and prosperous voyage.
We were coming up the Bay of Bengal with a steady breeze, ship in good order, and well trimmed. All hands, both passengers, recruits, and crew were in good spirits. The captain, who was in the daily habit of taking sights, up to the 11th or 12th of October, appeared quite confident of his course, and there could be no mistake about where we were.
He was like a man who knew his trade. About six days before we were cast away, we made False Point light-house. We then worked to the eastward, and continued bearing this course, stretching across the Bay until the night of the wreck. I heard the captain say to the chief officer, he thought we were near the reefs, on account of the noise of the breakers, and other things. On the morning of the 13th, when the morning watch was roused, the weather was dirty and unsettled. The ship was put under double reef top-sails, and sent down royal-yards, expecting a stiff breeze. Continued to work to the eastward with the ship in this trim. The captain now began to be anxious, but said nothing about putting to sea. He appeared reserved. About 10 o'clock, P.M., on the 16th, the gale eased a little, and the captain ordered the mainsail to be set; but about an hour afterwards the gale suddenly increased, and chopped round, and it was baffling with a confused heavy sea. All hands called up-sails furled, and the ship put under bare poles. The captain called out, . Is the anchor all clear. The chief-mate replied, that it was, but suggested the propriety of not bringing the ship to anchor there. The captain rejoined, . She will ride easy enough,' and ordered it to be let go. It was let go in quarter five-is sure of the soundings, for the lead was cast by an experienced seaman. There was scarcely time to give her the cable, before she was reported half full of water, all hands to the pumps, and a midshipman sent below for grog, but returned and said she was full of water. She then struck by the stern, carrying away her rudder, and starting her stern-post. Up to this time the soldiers and passengers were either below or in the cuddy. The fore and maintop-masts were cut away, and the ship eased in every way,--pumps going all the while, but to no purpose. The quarter boat had been washed away, and the long-boat went to pieces almost immediately. The last that he remembers of the crew was, that they were forward, trying to make a raft. The only passengers he saw, were Mrs. Cooper and her little boy, and the last persons he remembers seeing on the vessel, were captain Dixon, and the chief officer.
The chief officer having asked the captain what he would do, he replied, • Swim as long as I can, and then drown.'
The scene that followed the announcement of their hopeless condition beggars all description; the recruits, their wives, and children, rushed on deck, calling on the name of God. The crew were also imploring the mercy of God, and the passengers were at prayer in the cuddy. In their distress they called upon the Lord, but in a few moments they were scattered in every direction, at the mercy of the pitiless storm, clinging to spars, planks, &c. Soon exhausted, the majority sunk as lead in the mighty waters, to rise no more till the sea give up its dead. Whiskey was saved in a most singular manner : he had been up the main rigging, to cut away the topmast, and was washed out of the shrouds on to the poop; so that instead of being on the forecastle with his companions who all perished, he was on the stern-post when it parted from the ship, and from which he was ultimately rescued.
The following extract from a letter addressed to the public prints, by the Secretary of the Sailor's Home, although repeating one or two of the circumstances previously mentioned, appears to give as much completion to this narrative as it can have. The Secretary of the Home says
It may not be uninteresting to the public, to be made acquainted with a few facts connected with Whiskey's rescue from a watery grave. It appears, that on the night of the fatal shipwreck, he was on duty on the poop, which was separated from the main part of the vessel; and he, with twenty-seven more, including the surgeon, hung to the stern-post, after it had been cleared off the poop. Several of the poor fellows, weakened by the violence of the storm, let go their hold, threw themselves into the sea in despair ; others were washed off, to use the man's expression,' he did not know how,' and he was at last left but with one solitary companion. The last persons among the passengers that he saw were, the officer passenger' and his sister, (Lieut. and Miss Martin,) Mrs. Cooper and her little boy, who, he says, appeared to be trying to comfort and help his mother. The surgeon was soon washed off the stern-post, but for a time was kept above water by a plank; he, however, soon sunk to rise no more.
For seven days and nights, this poor fellow and his companion were drifting about in the open sea, exposed to the rays of a vertical sun during the day, and the chilling colds of an equator night, without a particle of food, or a drop of water. On the morning of the eighth day, the “Herculean’ sighted, what the captain supposed to be the pilot-boat; he lowered his boat for the purpose of taking the pilot out of her, when the crew discovered it to be part of a wreck—they made to it, and found the companion of the survivor in a completely exhausted state, and the man Whiskey so weak that he was unable to hail; they were taken on board the 'Herculean,' and treated with every kindness; the other man died, and this one, out of the wliole ship’s crew, alone lives to tell the tale. He has resided in the 'Home' since his arrival in Calcutta, and has refused every solicitation to commemorate his deliverance by drinking and carousing, and is now anxious, as soon as a berth offers, to proceed to sea.
The Committee of the 'Home' have provided him with every necessary during his residence there ; and they feel a pleasure in having been the means, both on this and on former occasions, of affording an asylum to the shipwrecked and distressed seaman. Their only object in bringing this case forward is, that