Mrs. David Osbourne.

The World of Waters A Peaceful Progress o'er the Unpathed Sea online

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extensive and inevitable. The consequence was that from three to
four vessels, or sometimes half a dozen, used to be wrecked each
winter. Captain Basil Hall in speaking of this place says, 'Perhaps
there are few more exciting spectacles than a vessel stranded on a
lee-shore, and especially such a shore, which is fringed with reefs
extending far out and offering no spot for shelter. The hapless
ship lies dismasted, bilged, and beat about by the waves, with the
despairing crew clinging to the wreck, or to the shrouds, and
uttering cries totally inaudible in the roar of the sea; while at
each successive dash of the breakers the number of the survivors is
thinned, till at length they all disappear. The gallant bark then
goes to pieces, and the coast for a league on either side is strewed
with broken planks, masts, boxes, and ruined portions of the goodly
cargo, with which, a few hours before, she was securely freighted,
and dancing merrily over the waters.' I am happy to add, in
conclusion, that this fatal Bell Rock, the direct and indirect cause
of so many losses, has been converted into one of the greatest
sources of security that navigation is capable of receiving. By
means of scientific skill, aided by well-managed perseverance, with
the example of the Eddystone to copy from, a lighthouse, one hundred
and twenty feet high, has been raised upon this formidable reef, by
Mr. Robert Stevenson, the skilful engineer of the 'Northern Lights;'
so that the mariner, instead of doing all he can to avoid the spot
once so much dreaded, now eagerly runs for it, and counts himself
happy when he gets sight of the revolving star on the top, which,
from its being variously colored he can distinguish from any other
light in that quarter. He is then enabled to steer directly for his
port in perfect security, though the night be never so dark."

Mr. Wilton remarked how much one man, by the right use of the
talents he possessed, might benefit his fellow-creatures, when he
was interrupted by the entrance of Mr. Barraud.

A welcome rose to every lip, and Mr. Barraud apologized for being so
late, adding that he had been detained by a friend who was about to
start for Scotland, and wished to have an hour's conversation with
him before his departure.

"How singular!" exclaimed Mr. Wilton; "we have been regretting your
absence particularly this evening, because we are navigating the
North Sea, where you have been so often tossed to and fro, and we
thought it quite possible you might have met with some amusing or
instructive incidents in your travels along the coast, which would
agreeably relieve the tedium of our voyage. Now I see no reason why
you should not accompany your friend to Scotland, and charm us with
a soul-stirring narrative of real life."

"Oh! I perceive the state of affairs clearly," said Mr. Barraud;
"the young folks are getting weary of the monotony of a sea voyage,
and desire to step ashore again."

"No! no! we are not tired," anxiously exclaimed the little group.

"But," said Charles, "it makes a voyage so much more pleasant when
we drop anchor now and then, to look around on the beauties of other
lands; and more profitable also, if we learn something of the
customs, laws, and peculiarities of the inhabitants of those lands."

MR. BARRAUD. "Very true, Charles; and to gratify you I will relate a
story written by Colonel Maxwell, the well-known author of many
pleasing and instructive works, which will serve the purpose better
than any other I can think of just now - besides, to heighten its
interest, it is all true."


"During a tedious passage to the North, I remarked among the
steerage passengers a man who seemed to keep himself apart from the
rest. He wore the uniform of the foot artillery, and sported a
corporal's stripes. In the course of the afternoon, I stepped before
the funnel, and entered into conversation with him; learned that he
had been invalided and sent home from Canada, had passed the Board
in London, obtained a pension of a shilling a-day, and was returning
to a border village, where he had been born, to ascertain whether
any of his family were living, from whom he had been separated
nineteen years. He casually admitted, that during this long interval
he had held no communication with his relations; and I set him down
accordingly as some wild scapegrace, who had stolen from a home
whose happiness his follies had compromised too often. He showed me
his discharge - the character was excellent, - but it only went to
prove how much men's conduct will depend upon the circumstances
under which they act. He had been nineteen years a soldier - a man
'under authority,' - one obedient to another's will, subservient to
strict discipline, with scarcely a free agency himself, and yet,
during that long probation, he had been a useful member of the body
politic, sustained a fair reputation, and as he admitted himself,
been a contented and happy man. He returned home his own master, and
older by twenty years. Alas! it was a fatal free agency for him, for
time had not brought wisdom. The steward told me that he had ran
riot while his means allowed it, had missed his passage twice, and
had on the preceding evening come on board, when not a shilling
remained to waste in drunken dissipation. I desired that the poor
man should be supplied with some little comforts during the voyage;
and when we landed at Berwick, I gave him a trifling sum to assist
him to reach his native village, where he had obtained vague
intelligence that some aged members of his family might still be

"A few evenings afterwards, I was sitting in the parlor of one of
the many little inns I visited while rambling on the banks of the
Tweed, when the waitress informed me that 'a sodger is speerin'
after the colonel.' He was directed to attend the presence, and my
fellow-voyager, the artilleryman, entered the chamber, and made his
military salaam.

"'I thought you were now at Jedburgh,' I observed.

"'I went there, sir,' he replied, 'but there has not been any of my
family for many a year residing in the place. I met an old packman
on the road, and he tells me there are some persons in this village
of my name. I came here to make inquiries, and hearing that your
honor was in the house I made bold enough to ask for you.'

"'Have you walked over?' I inquired.

"'Yes, sir,' he replied.

"''Tis a long walk,' said I; 'go down and get some supper before you
commence inquiries.'

"The soldier bowed and left the room, and presently the host entered
to give me directions for a route among the Cheviots, which I
contemplated taking the following day. I mentioned the soldier's

"'Sure enough,' returned the host, 'there are an auld decent couple
of the name here. What is the soldier called?'

"'William,' I replied, for by that name his discharge and pension
bill were filled up.

"'I'll slip across the street to the auld folk,' said Boniface, 'and
ask them a few questions.'

"The episode of humble life that followed was afterwards thus
described to me by mine host.

"He found the ancient couple seated at the fire; the old man reading
a chapter in the Bible, as was his custom always before he and his
aged partner retired for the night to rest. The landlord explained
the object of the soldier's visit, and inquired if any of their
children answered the description of the wanderer.

"'It is our Jock!' exclaimed the old woman passionately, 'and the
puir neer-do-weel has cam hame at last to close his mither's eyes.'

"'Na,' said the landlord; 'the man's name is Wolly.'

"'Then he's nae our bairn,' returned the old man with a heavy sigh.

"'Weel, weel - His will be done!' said his help-mate, turning her
blue and faded eyes to heaven; 'I thought the prayer I sae often
made wad yet be granted, and Jock wad come hame and get my blessin'
ere I died.'

"'He has! he has!' exclaimed a broken voice; and the soldier, who
had followed the landlord unperceived, and listened at the cottage
door, rushed into the room, and dropped kneeling at his mother's
feet. For a moment she turned her eyes with a fixed and glassy stare
upon the returned wanderer. Her hand was laid upon his head - her
lips parted as if about to pronounce the promised blessing - but no
sounds issued, and she slowly leaned forward on the bosom of the
long-lost prodigal, who clasped her in his arms.

"'Mither! mither! speak and bless me!' cried he in agony.

"Alas! the power of speech was gone forever. Joy, like grief, is
often fatal to a worn-out frame. The spirit had calmly passed; the
parent had lived to see and bless her lost one; and expire in the
arms of him, who, with all his faults, appeared to have been her
earthly favorite."

DORA. "What an affecting story! How sorry Jock must have felt that
he came so suddenly into his mother's presence; but his father was
yet alive for him to comfort and cheer in his declining age. I hope
he was kind and affectionate to him all his days, to compensate for
the loss of the poor old woman?"

MR. BARRAUD. "I trust he was, but our historian saith no more."

MR. WILTON. "There is a little cluster of islands between Alnwick
and Berwick called the Farne islands, on one of which was situated
the lighthouse where the heroine Grace Darling spent her dreary
days. These rocky islands have for centuries been respected as holy
ground, because St. Cuthbert built an oratory on one of them, and
died there. At one time there were two chapels on these rocks; one
dedicated to St. Cuthbert, the other to the Virgin Mary: they are
now ruins; and a square building, erected for the religieux
stationed on these isles, has been put to better use, and converted
into a lighthouse. Off these islands occurred that dreadful
calamity, the wreck of the Forfarshire steamer, of which I will give
you a brief account: -

#Wreck of the Forfarshire.#

"It appears, that shortly after she left the Humber her boilers
began to leak, but not to such an extent as to excite any
apprehensions; and she continued on her voyage. The weather,
however, became very tempestuous; and on the morning of the fatal
day, she passed the Fames on her way northwards, in a very high
sea, which rendered it necessary for the crew to keep the pumps
constantly at work. At this time they became aware that the boilers
were becoming more and more leaky as they proceeded. At length, when
she had advanced as far as St. Abb's Head, the wind having
increased to a hurricane from N.N.E., the engineer reported the
appalling fact that the machinery would work no longer. Dismay
seized all on board; nothing now remained but to set the sails fore
and aft, and let her drift before the wind. Under these
circumstances, she was carried southwards, till about a quarter to
four o'clock on Friday morning, when the foam became distinctly
visible breaking upon the fearful rock ahead. Captain Humble vainly
attempted to avert the appalling catastrophe, by running her between
the islands and the mainland; she would not answer her helm, and was
impelled to and fro by a furious sea. In a few minutes more, she
struck with her bows foremost on the rock. The scene on board became
heart-rending. A moment after the first shock, another tremendous
wave struck her on the quarter, by which she was buoyed for a moment
high off the rock. Falling as this wave receded, she came down upon
the sharp edge with a force so tremendous as to break her fairly in
two pieces, about 'midships; when, dreadful to relate, the whole of
the after part of the ship, containing the principal cabin, filled
with passengers, sinking backwards, was swept into the deep sea, and
thus was every soul on that part of the vessel instantaneously
engulfed in one vast and terrible grave of waters. Happily the
portion of the wreck which had settled on the rock remained firmly
fixed, and afforded a place of refuge to the unfortunate survivors.
At daylight they were discovered from the Longstone; and Grace
Darling and her father launched a boat, and succeeded, amidst the
dash of waters and fearful cries of the perishing people, in
removing the few remaining sufferers from their perilous position to
the lighthouse. The heroism of this brave girl, who unhesitatingly
risked her own life to save others, was justly appreciated and
rewarded. A large sum of money was collected for her, and many
valuable presents were despatched to the 'lonely isle;' among
others, a gold watch and chain, which she always after wore,
although homely in her general attire. Poor Grace Darling! she did
not long enjoy the praises and rewards which she so richly merited
for her courage and humanity: a rapid consumption brought her to the
grave; and her remains rest in a churchyard upon the mainland, in
sight of that wild rock, on which she earned so great celebrity. A
beautiful and elegant monument is erected to her memory, which will
trumpet forth her praises to many yet unborn."

GRANDY. "A curious circumstance occurred on these shores some years
ago, and was related to my dear husband by an old man at Aberdeen,
on whose veracity he could rely: -

"Three or four boys, one of them the son of a goldsmith in Dundee,
went out in a boat towards the mouth of the Tay, but rowing farther
than was prudent, they were carried out to sea. Their friends
finding they did not return, made every search for them, and were at
length compelled with sorrowful hearts to conclude that they had

"One night a farmer (father of the old man who related the story)
was very much disturbed by a dream; he awoke his wife, and told her
he had dreamed that a boat with some boys had landed in a little
cove a few miles from his house, and the poor boys were in a state
of extreme exhaustion. His wife said it was but a dream, and advised
him to go asleep; he did so, but again awoke, having had the same
dream. He could rest no longer, but resolved to go down to the
shore. His wife now began to think there was a Providence in it. The
farmer dressed himself, went down to the cove, and there, true
enough, to his horror and amazement, he found the boat with four
boys in it; two were dead already, and the others so exhausted that
they could not move. The farmer got some assistance, and had them
conveyed to his own home, when he nourished the survivors until they
were quite recovered. From them he learned that they had been
carried out to sea, and, notwithstanding their utmost exertions, the
contrary winds had prevented them returning, and they were drifted
along the coast, until the boat grounded at the place where they
were found. They had been out four days, without provisions of any
kind, except some sugar-candy which one boy had in his pocket; this
they shared amongst them while it had lasted; but two sank on the
third day, and probably a few hours might have terminated the
existence of the remaining two, had they not been providentially
discovered by the farmer. As soon as they were in a condition to be
removed they were taken to Dundee, about fifty miles from the place
where they were found; and the grateful parents earnestly besought
the generous farmer to accept a reward, but he magnanimously
refused. The goldsmith, however, whose son was saved had a silver
boat made, with the names of the parties and a Latin inscription
engraved thereon recording the event. This was presented to the
farmer, and is still in the possession of his descendants, and no
doubt will be long preserved as an heir-loom in the family of the
kind-hearted Scotchman."

DORA. "I had no idea there were so many interesting stories
concerning the shores of Scotland, and in my ignorance I should have
travelled to the colder regions of Norway for information and

"Ay," said Charles; "but we have said nothing of Denmark yet, and,
to get into the Baltic Sea, we must sail for many miles along the
shores of that curious country. It consists of the peninsula of
Jutland, formerly called Cimbria, and several islands in the Baltic.
The boundaries of Denmark are, the Skagerac Sea on the North; the
kingdom of Hanover on the South; the Baltic, with part of Sweden, to
the East, and the North Sea on the West. I here wish to know if the
North Sea and the German Ocean are names used to designate all that
portion of the ocean which lies to the east of the British Isles,
for I have seen the different names placed in different maps to
signify the same waters, and have been a little puzzled to ascertain
their boundaries?"

"I am glad you have asked that question, Charles," said Mr. Wilton;
"because I now remember that for the convenience of our
illustrations we made a division, but in reality the North Sea and
the German Ocean are the same, and ought perhaps to have been
mentioned thus - German Ocean _or_ North Sea."

CHARLES. "Jutland, including Holstein, is about 280 miles long and
80 miles broad; the islands, of various dimensions, are Zealand,
Funen, Langland, Laland, Falster, Mona, Femeren, Alsen, &c.
Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark, is a large, rich, and
well-fortified town, situated on the island of Zealand; the
population about 100,000."

MR. BARRAUD. "Near Copenhagen stands the little isle of Hawen, now
belonging to Sweden, where Tycho Brahe took most of his astronomical
observations. There are many academies and public schools in
Denmark, which reflect great honor on the Danish government. There
are fine woods and forests in Denmark; indeed the whole country may
be regarded as a forest, which supplies England with masts and other
large timber. It is for the most part a flat country."

MR. WILTON. "The islands west of Jutland which you observe, viz.:
Nordstrand, Fera, Sylt, Rom, Fanoe, and others, suffer greatly from
the fury of the ocean. Towards the north of Jutland is an extensive
creek of the sea, Lymfiord, which penetrates from the Cattegat,
within two or three miles of the German Ocean; it is navigable, full
of fish, and contains many islands."

MRS. WILTON. "To get into the Baltic, we must go through the Sleeve
or Skagerac; through the Cattegat, passing on our way the little
isles of Hertzholm, Lassoe, Anholt, and Haselov; then, taking care
to keep Kullen's Lighthouse in view, enter the sound near Elsinore,
sail on past Rugen Isle, and anchor at Carlscrona, in the Baltic."

GEORGE. "The Baltic! the Baltic! I am so anxious to hear all about
that sea. All _I_ know is that there are three very large gulfs
connected with it, the Gulf of Bothnia, the Gulf of Finland, and the
Gulf of Riga."

MR. WILTON. "The two latter wash the shores of a part of Russia, not
generally much noticed in geographical works; I mean the two
divisions of the Russian territories, known by the names of Revel
and Livonia. The waters of the Gulf of Finland also extend to the
greatest town in this country of ice and snow, St. Petersburgh,
founded by Peter the Great in 1703, and seated on an island in the
middle of the river Neva, near the bottom of the gulf, and which,
from the singularity in its buildings, streets, people, and customs,
is well worth a visit. The inconveniences caused by travelling in
such an extreme climate doubtless prevent this part of Europe from
being better known to other nations."

GEORGE. "Is it so very, very cold, then, papa?"

MR. WILTON. "When our thermometer stands at 20° we all exclaim, how
bitterly cold! everything around is frozen hard, and unless we take
violent exercise, and are well wrapped up, we feel extremely
uncomfortable. Now in this part of Russia, the thermometer is often
_below_ zero many degrees; and travellers, be they never so well
clothed, are frequently found frozen in their carriages."

GEORGE. "Their dresses are rather clumsy-looking garments, are they
not, and principally made of fur?"

MRS. WILTON. "I have an amusing description of the preparation for a
journey in the immediate neighborhood of the Gulf of Finland, which
will satisfy your inquiring mind, and afford us all pleasing
information. 'On the evening of the 20th of February, all the
juvenile portion of the family were consigned to rest at an earlier
hour than usual; and by six o'clock the next morning, little eyes
were wide awake, and little limbs in full motion, by the flickering
candle's light; in everybody's way as long as they were not wanted,
and nowhere to be found when they were. At length the little flock
were all assembled; and having been well lined inside by a migratory
kind of breakfast, the outer process began. This is conducted
somewhat on the same principle as the building of a house, the
foundation being filled with rather rubbishy materials, over which a
firm structure is reared. First came a large cotton handkerchief,
then a pelisse three years too short, then a faded comfortable of
papa's, and then an old cashmere of mamma's, which latter was with
difficulty forced under the vanishing arms, and tied firmly behind.
Now each tiny hand was carefully sealed with as many pairs of gloves
as could be gathered together for the occasion; one hand (for the
nursemaids are not very particular) being not seldom more richly
endowed in this respect than its fellow. The same process is applied
to the little feet, which swell to misshapen stumps beneath an
accumulation of under-socks and over-socks, under-shoes and
over-shoes, and are finally swallowed up in huge worsted stockings,
which embrace all the drawers, short petticoats, ends of
handkerchiefs, comfortables, and shawls they can reach, and are
generally gartered in some incomprehensible fashion round the waist.
But mark! this is only the _foundation_. Now comes the
thickly-wadded winter pelisse of silk or merino, with bands or
ligatures, which instantly bury themselves in the depths of the
surrounding hillocks, till within the case of clothes before you,
which stands like a roll-pudding tied up ready for the boiler, no
one would suspect the slender skipping sprite that your little
finger can lift. Lastly, all this is enveloped in the little jaunty
silk cloak, which fastens readily enough round the neck on ordinary
occasions, but now refuses to meet by the breadth of a hand, and is
made secure by a worsted boa of every bright color. Is this all?
No, - wait, - I have forgotten the pretty clustering locked head and
rosy dimpled face; and, in truth, they were so lost in the mountains
of wool and wadding around as to be fairly overlooked. Here a
handkerchief is bound round the forehead, and another down each
cheek, just skirting the nose, and allowing a small triangular space
for sight and respiration; talking had better not be attempted;
while the head is roofed in by a wadded hat, a misshapen machine
with soft crown and bangled peak, which cannot be hurt, and never
looks in order, over which is suspended as many veils, green, white,
and black, as mamma's cast-off stores can furnish, through which the
brightest little pair of eyes in the world faintly twinkle like
stars through a mist. And now one touch upsets the whole mass, and a
man servant coolly lifts it up in his arms like a bale of goods, and
carries it off to the sledge.

"'These are the preparations. Now for the journey. - It was a lovely
morning as we started with our little monstrosities; ourselves in a
commodious covered sledge, various satellites of the family in a
second, followed up by rougher vehicles covered with bright worsted
rugs, and driven by the different grades of servants, wherein sat
the muffled and closely-draped lady's maids and housemaids of the
establishment; not to forget the seigneur himself, who, wrapped to
the ears, sat in solitude, driving a high-mettled animal upon a
sledge so small as to be entirely concealed by his person, so that,
to all appearance, he seemed to be gliding away only attached to the
horse by the reins in his well-guarded hands. The way led through
noble woods of Scotch and Spruce fir, sometimes catching sight of a
lofty mansion of stone, or passing a low thatched building of wood
with numberless little sash windows, where some of the nobles still
reside, and which are the remnants of more simple times. And now
"the sun rose clear o'er trackless fields of snow," and our solitary
procession jingled merrily on, while, yielding to the lulling
sounds of the bells, our little breathing bundles sank motionless
and warm into our laps and retrieved in happy slumbers the early
_escapades_ of the day. There is no such a warming-pan on a cold
winter's journey as a lovely soft child. After driving thirty
wersts, we stopped at the half-way house of an acquaintance, for
here the willing hospitality of some brother-noble is often

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Online LibraryMrs. David OsbourneThe World of Waters A Peaceful Progress o'er the Unpathed Sea → online text (page 7 of 22)