The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 11, No. 63, January, 1863 online

. (page 15 of 22)
Online LibraryVariousThe Atlantic Monthly, Volume 11, No. 63, January, 1863 → online text (page 15 of 22)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


The English Royal Sovereign, 3,765 tons and 330 feet length, and the
Prince Albert, 2,529 tons and the same length, are razeed wooden
vessels. The former carries 5, and the latter 6 of Captain Coles's
turrets with inclined sides, each turret designed for two 110-pounder
breech-loading Armstrong guns. The class of iron vessels constructing to
carry two of Coles's turrets are 175 feet long, having 42 feet beam,
24 feet depth, 17 feet draught, and 990 tons displacement. All these
English vessels are much higher out of water than Ericsson's.

Besides these classes, there is the variety of iron-clad vessels called
turtles, from their shape, - among them, the Keokuk (Whitney Battery)
159-1/2 feet long, with two stationary 11-inch gun turrets, - and a class
of Western river vessels of very light draught and some peculiarities of
construction. The latter resemble the Stevens Battery in the shape and
position of their armor, but carry their guns within their casemates.

The Stevens Battery, the Onondaga, and the Keokuk have independent
screw-propellers, which will enable them to turn on their own centres
and to manoeuvre much more rapidly and effectively in action than
vessels which, having but one propeller, cannot change their direction
without changing their position, and are obliged to make a long circuit
to change it at all. This subject is beginning to receive in Europe the
attention which it merits.


The direction of immediate improvement In ordnance for iron-clad warfare
appears to be the abandonment of cast-iron, except as a barrel to be
strengthened by steel; binding an inner tube with low-steel hoops having
a successively increasing initial tension; and the use of spherical shot
at excessive velocities by means of high charges of powder in bores of
moderate diameters. The rifling of some guns is important, not so much
to secure range or accuracy, as to fire elongated shells through armor.

The direction of improvement in ironclad vessels appears to be the
concentration of armor at a few points and the protection of the
remainder of the vessel from the entrance of _water_ by a streak of
armor at the water-line and numerous bulkheads, etc., in distinction
from necessarily thin and inefficient plating over all; high speed
without great increase of weight of the driving parts, by means of
improved engines and boilers and high pressure; the production of
tenacious iron in large, thick, homogeneous masses; and the rapid
manoeuvring of heavy ordnance by machinery.

In justice to himself, the writer deems it proper to state, that within
the limits of a magazine-article it has been impossible to enter into
the details, or even to give an outline, of all the facts which have led
him to the foregoing conclusions. In a more extended work about to be
published by Van Nostrand, of New York, he has endeavored, by presenting
a detailed account of English and American experiments, a description
and numerous illustrations, derived mostly from personal observation,
of all classes of ordnance and armor and their fabrication, and of
iron-clad vessels and their machinery, and a _résumé_ of the best
professional opinions, to add something at least usefully suggestive to
the general knowledge on this subject.


Andrew Rykman's dead and gone:
You can see his leaning slate
In the graveyard, and thereon
Read his name and date.

"_Trust is truer than our fears_,"
Runs the legend through the moss,
"_Cain is not in added years,
Nor in death is loss_."

Still the feet that thither trod,
All the friendly eyes are dim;
Only Nature, now, and God
Have a care for him.

There the dews of quiet fall,
Singing birds and soft winds stray:
Shall the tender Heart of All
Be less kind than they?

What he was and what he is
They who ask may haply find,
If they read this prayer of his
Which he left behind.

* * * * *

Pardon, Lord, the lips that dare
Shape in words a mortal's prayer!
Prayer, that, when my day is done,
And I see its setting sun,
Shorn and beamless, cold and dim,
Sink beneath the horizon's rim, -
When this ball of rock and clay
Crumbles from my feet away,
And the solid shores of sense
Melt into the vague immense,
Father! I may come to Thee
Even with the beggar's plea,
As the poorest of Thy poor,
With my needs, and nothing more.

Not as one who seeks his home
With a step assured I come;
Still behind the tread I hear
Of my life-companion, Fear;
Still a shadow deep and vast
From my westering feet is cast,
Wavering, doubtful, undefined,
Never shapen nor outlined.

From myself the fear has grown,
And the shadow is my own.
Well I know that all things move
To the spheral rhythm of love, -
That to Thee, O Lord of all!
Nothing can of chance befall:
Child and seraph, mote and star,
Well Thou knowest what we are;
Through Thy vast creative plan
Looking, from the worm to man,
There is pity in Thine eyes,
But no hatred nor surprise.
Not in blind caprice of will,
Not in cunning sleight of skill,
Not for show of power, was wrought
Nature's marvel in Thy thought.
Never careless hand and vain
Smites these chords of joy and pain;
No immortal selfishness
Plays the game of curse and bless:
Heaven and earth are witnesses
That Thy glory goodness is.
Not for sport of mind and force
Hast Thou made Thy universe,
But as atmosphere and zone
Of Thy loving heart alone.
Man, who walketh in a show,
Sees before him, to and fro,
Shadow and illusion go;
All things flow and fluctuate,
Now contract and now dilate.
In the welter of this sea,
Nothing stable is but Thee;
In this whirl of swooning trance,
Thou alone art permanence;
All without Thee only seems,
All beside is choice of dreams.
Never yet in darkest mood
Doubted I that Thou wast good,
Nor mistook my will for fate,
Pain of sin for heavenly hate, -
Never dreamed the gates of pearl
Rise from out the burning marl,
Or that good can only live
Of the bad conservative,
And through counterpoise of hell
Heaven alone be possible.

For myself alone I doubt;
All is well, I know, without;
I alone the beauty mar,
I alone the music jar.

Yet, with hands by evil stained,
And an ear by discord pained,
I am groping for the keys
Of the heavenly harmonies;
Still within my heart I bear
Love for all things good and fair.
Hand of want or soul in pain
Has not sought my door in vain
I have kept my fealty good
To the human brotherhood;
Scarcely have I asked in prayer
That which others might not share.
I, who hear with secret shame
Praise that paineth more than blame,
Rich alone in favors lent,
Virtuous by accident,
Doubtful where I fain would rest,
Frailest where I seem the best,
Only strong for lack of test, - .
What am I, that I should press
Special pleas of selfishness,
Coolly mounting into heaven
On my neighbor unforgiven?
Ne'er to me, howe'er disguised,
Comes a saint unrecognized;
Never fails my heart to greet
Noble deed with warmer beat;
Halt and maimed, I own not less
All the grace of holiness;
Nor, through shame or self-distrust,
Less I love the pure and just.
Thou, O Elder Brother! who
In Thy flesh our trial knew,
Thou, who hast been touched by these
Our most sad infirmities,
Thou alone the gulf canst span,
In the dual heart of man,
And between the soul and sense
Reconcile all difference,
Change the dream of me and mine
For the truth of Thee and Thine,
And, through chaos, doubt, and strife,
Interfuse Thy calm of life.
Haply, thus by Thee renewed,
In Thy borrowed goodness good,
Some sweet morning yet in God's
Dim, aeonian periods,
Joyful I shall wake to see
Those I love who rest in Thee,
And to them in Thee allied
Shall my soul be satisfied.

Scarcely Hope hath shaped for me
What the future life may be.
Other lips may well be bold;
Like the publican of old,
I can only urge the plea,
"Lord, be merciful to me!"
Nothing of desert I claim,
Unto me belongeth shame.
Not for me the crowns of gold,
Palms, and harpings manifold;
Not for erring eye and feet
Jasper wall and golden street.
What Thou wilt, O Father, give!
All is gain that I receive.
If my voice I may not raise
In the elders' song of praise,
If I may not, sin-defiled,
Claim my birthright as a child,
Suffer it that I to Thee
As an hired servant be;
Let the lowliest task be mine,
Grateful, so the work be Thine;
Let me find the humblest place
In the shadow of Thy grace:
Blest to me were any spot
Where temptation whispers not.
If there be some weaker one,
Give me strength to help him on;
If a blinder soul there be,
Grant that I his guide may be.
Make my mortal dreams come true
With the work I fain would do;
Clothe with life the weak intent,
Let me be the thing I meant;
Let me find in Thy employ
Peace that dearer is than joy;
Out of self to love be led
And to heaven acclimated,
Until all things sweet and good
Seem my natural habitude.

* * * * *

So we read the prayer of him
Who, with John of Labadie,
Trod, of old, the oozy rim
Of the Zuyder Zee.

Thus did Andrew Rykman pray.
Are we wiser, better grown,
That we may not, in our day,
Make his prayer our own?


Mrs. Strathsay sat in her broad bower-window, looking down the harbor. A
brave great window it was, and I mind me how many a dark summer's night,
we two leaned over its edge and watched the soft flow of the River
of the Cross, where its shadowy tide came up and lapped the stone
foundations of that old house by the water-side, - I and Angus. Under us
the rowers slipped the wherries and the yawls; in the channel the rafts
floated down a slow freight from the sweet and savage pine-forests,
and the fire they carried on their breasts, and the flames of their
pitch-knots, threw out strange shadows of the steering raftsmen, and
a wild bandrol of smoke flaring and streaming on the night behind
them; - and yet away far up on the yonder side, beneath the hanging
alders and the cedar-trees, the gundalows dropped down, great laden
barges; and perhaps a lantern, hung high in the stern of some huge
East-Indiaman at the wharves of the other town quite across the stream,
showed us all its tracery and spires, dim webs of shadow stretched and
woven against the solemn ground of the starlit sky, and taught us the
limit of the shores. Ah, all things were sweet to us then! we were
little but children, - Angus and I. And it's not children we are now,
small's the pity! The joys of childhood are good, I trow; but who would
exchange for them the proud, glad pulse of full womanhood? - not I. I
mind me, too, that in those days the great world of which I used to hear
them speak always seemed to me lying across the river, and over the
fields and the hills, and away down and out by the skirts of the
mystical sea; and on the morning when I set sail for Edinboro', I
felt to be forever drawing nigher its skurry and bustle, its sins and
pleasures and commotions.

We had no father, - Margray, or Effie, or Mary Strathsay, or I. He had
brought his wife out from their home in Scotland to St. Anne's in the
Provinces, and had died or ever I was born, - and I was the last of the
weans. A high, keen spirit was his wife; she did not bend or break; a
stroke that would have beggared another took no crumb from her cloth;
she let the right in warehouses and wharves lie by, and lie by, and each
year it paid her sterling income. None ever saw tear in those proud eyes
of hers, when they brought in her husband dead, or when they carried him
out; but every day at noon she went up into her own room, and whether
she slept or whether she waked the two hours in that darkened place,
there was not so much as a fly that sang in the pane to tell.

She was a fair, stately woman, taller than any of her girls, and with
half the mind to hate them all because they were none of them a son.
More or less the three were like her, lofty brows and shining hair and
skin like morning light, the lave of them, - but as for me, I was
my father's child. There's a portrait of him now, hangs on the
chimney-pier: a slight man, and not tall, - the dark hair waves away on
either side the low, clear brow, - the eyes deep-set, and large and
dark and starry, - a carmine just flushing beneath the olive of the
cheek, - the fine firm mouth just breaking into smiles; and I remember
that that morning when I set sail for Edinboro', as I turned away from
gazing on that face, and saw myself glinting like a painted ghost in the
long dim mirror beside me, I said it indeed, and proudly, that I was my
father's own child.

So she kissed us, Effie and me. Perhaps mine lingered the longer, for
the color in my cheek was deeper tinct than Scotch, it was the wild bit
of Southern blood that had run in her love's veins; when she looked
at me, I gave her back hot phases of her passionate youth again, - so
perhaps mine was the kiss that left the deeper dint.

Margray, and Mary Strathsay, had been back three years from school, and
the one was just married, - and if she left her heart out of the bargain,
what was that to me? - and the other was to reign at home awhile ere the
fated Prince should come, and Effie and myself were to go over seas and
take their old desks in the famous school at Edinboro'. The mother knew
that she must marry her girls well, and we two younglings were sadly in
Queen Mary Strathsay's way. Yes, Mrs. Strathsay lived for nought but the
making of great matches for her girls; the grandees of the Provinces
to-day sat down at her board and to-morrow were to pay her tribute, scot
and lot; four great weddings she meant should one by one light up her
hearth and leave it lonely with the ashes there. But of them all she
counted on the last, the best, the noblest for Alice, - that was I.

Old Johnny Graeme was the partner in what had been my father's house,
and for fifteen years it had gone prospering as never house did yet,
and making Mrs. Strathsay bitterer; and Johnny Graeme, a little wizened
warlock, had never once stopped work long enough to play at play and
reckon his untold gold.

Just for that summer, too, some ships of the royal fleet anchored there
off Campobello, and the Honorable Charles Seavern, third son of an Earl,
and professional at his cups, swung them at his will, and made holiday
meanwhile among the gay and willing folk of all the little towns around.

There was another yet, a youth growing up to fine estates away off
beyond Halifax. His father sat in the Queen's own Parliament for the
Colonies, had bent to the knightly accolade, and a change of ministry or
of residence might any day create Sir Brenton peer; his mother had been
Mrs. Strathsay's dearest friend: - this child who off and on for half his
life had made her house his home and Alice his companion, while in the
hearts of both children Mrs. Strathsay had cautiously planted and nursed
the seed, - a winning boy, a noble lad, a lordly man.

If Margray had not married old Johnny Graeme, it would have broken Mrs.
Strathsay's will; the will was strong; she did, she married him. If
Mary, with her white moonsheen of beauty, did not bewitch the senses of
Captain Seavern, it would break Mrs. Strathsay's pride; and few things
were stronger than Mrs. Strathsay's pride, - unless 't were Mary's own.
If Effie - - but that's nothing to the purpose. If Alice did not become
the bride of Angus Ingestre, it would break Mrs. Strathsay's heart.
God forgive me! but I bethought me once that her heart was the weakest
member in all her body.

So she kissed us, as I say, and we slid down the ten miles of river, and
went sailing past the busy islands and over the broad deeps and out of
the day and into the night, and then two little orphans cried themselves
to sleep with their arms about each other's necks. After all, it was not
much like my picture of the great world, this lonely sea, this plunging
up from billow on to billow, this burrowing down in the heart of
green-gloomed hollows, this rocking and creaking and straining, this
buoyant bounding over the crests, - yet the freedom, the monotony, the
wild career of the winds fired me; it set my blood a-tingle; I liked it.
And then I thought of Angus, rocked to sleep each night, as he was now,
in his ocean-cradle. But once at school, and the world was round me; it
hummed up from the streets, it boomed down from the spires. I became a
part of it, and so forgot it. To Effie there were ever stealing rumors
of yet a world beyond, of courts and coronets, of satin shimmer and
glitter of gems, but they glanced off from me, - and other than thus I
have never yet found that great world that used to lie over the river.

We had been at school a happy while, and but for constant letters,
and for the brief visit of Mrs. Strathsay, who had journeyed over the
Atlantic for one last look at sweet home-things, and to see how all went
with us, and then had flitted back again, - but for that, home would have
seemed the veriest dream that ever buzzed in an idle brain: would so
have seemed to other maidens, not to us, for the fibres of the Strathsay
heart were threads that never wore thin or parted. Two twelvemonths
more, and we should cross the sea ourselves at last; and wearying now
of school a bit, all our visions centred in St. Anne's, and the merry
doings, the goings and comings, that we heard of there; and it seemed to
me as if home were to be the beginning of life, as erst it had seemed
that in school we should find the world.

It was the vacation of the long summer term; there was packing and
padlocking to go each on her way, and the long dormitories rang with
shrill clamor. They all had a nest to seek. Effie was already gone away
with her chief crony, whose lady-mother, a distant kinswoman of our own,
fancied the girl's fair countenance. I was to join them in a week or
two, - not yet, because I had wished to send home the screens painted on
white velvet, and they wanted yet a sennight's work, and I knew Mrs.
Strathsay would be proud of them before the crackle of the autumn fires.
The maids ran hither and yon, and the bells pealed, and the knocker
clashed, and the coaches rolled away over the stone pave of the
court-yard, and there was embracing and jesting and crying, when
suddenly all the pleasant hubbub stood still, for Miss Dunreddin was
in the hall, and her page behind her, and she beckoned me from my post
aloft on a foot-board, summoning the deserters before me and awarding
them future expiations, amidst all manner of jeering and jinking and

A gentleman from the Provinces to see me in the little parlor: he had
brought us letters from home, and after Miss Dunreddin had broken the
seals she judged we might have them, and I was at liberty for an hour,
and meantime Angus Ingestre awaited me. Angus! I sprang down the stairs,
my cheeks aglow, my heart on my lips, and only paused, finger on lock,
wondering and hesitating and fearing, till the door was flung open, and
I drawn in with two hands shut fast on my own, and two eyes - great blue
Ingestre eyes - looking down on me from the face so far above: for he
towered like a Philistine.

"And is it Angus?" I cried. For how was I to know the boy I had left in
a midshipman's jacket, in this mainmast of a man, undress-uniform and

"I've no need to ask, Is it Alice?" he answered. "The same little peach
of a chin!"

"Nay, but, Angus, - 't will never do, - and I all but grown up!"

"Not my little maid any longer, then?"

But so trembling and glad was I to see him, that I dared no more words,
for I saw the tears glistening in my eyelashes and blinding me with
their dazzling flashes.

So he took me to a seat, and sat beside me, and waited a minute; and
after that waiting it was harder to speak than it had been before, and
every thought went clean out of my head, and every word, and I stared
at my hands till I seemed to see clear through them the pattern of
my dress, and at the last I looked up, and there he had been bending
forward and scanning me all the while; and then Angus laughed, and
caught up my hand and pretended to search it narrowly.

"Ah, yes, indeed," said he, "she is reading the future in her palm,
reading it backward, and finding out what this Angus Ingestre has to do
with her fate!"

"Nay, but," - - said I, and then held fast again.

"Here's a young woman that's keen to hear of her home, of her sisters,
of Queen Mary Strathsay, and of Margray's little Graeme!"

"What do _I_ care for Johnny Graeme? the little old man!"

"What, indeed? And you'll not be home a day and night before you'll be
tossing and hushing him, and the moon'll not be too good for him to
have, should he cry for it!"

"Johnny Graeme?"

"No. Angus Graeme!"

"Oh! - Margray has a son? Why didn't you tell me before?"

"When you were so eager to know!"

"It's all in my letters, I suppose. But Margray has a son, and she's
named it for you, and her husband let her?"

"'Deed, he wasn't asked."

"Why not?"

"Come, child, read your letters."

"Nay, I've but a half-hour more with you; that was the second quarter
struck; I'll read them when you're gone. - _Why not_?"

"Johnny Graeme is dead."

That sobered me a thought.

"And Margray?" I asked.

"Poor Margray, - she feels very badly."

"You don't mean to say" - -

"That she cared for him? But I do."

"Now, Angus Ingestre, I _heard_ Margray tell her mother she'd liefer
work on the roads with a chain and ball than marry him! It's all you men
know of women. Love Johnny Graeme! Oh, poor man, rest his soul! I'm sore
sorry for him. He's gone where there's no gold to make, unless they
smelt it there; and I'm not sure but they do, - sinsyne one can see all
the evil it's the root of, and all the woe it works, - and he bought
Margray, you know he did, Angus!"

"It's little Alice talking so of her dead brother!"

"He's no brother of mine; I never took him, if Margray did. Brother
indeed! there's none such, - unless it's you, Angus!" And there all the
blood flew into my cheeks, and they burned like two fires, and I was
fain to clap my palms upon them.

"No," said Angus. "I'm not your brother, Ailie darling, and never wish
to be, - but" - -

"And Margray?" I questioned, quickly, - the good Lord alone knew why.
"Poor Margray! tell me of her. Perhaps she misses him; he was not, after
all, so curst as Willy Scott. Belike he spoke her kindly."

"Always," said Angus, gnawing in his lip a moment ere the word. "And
the child changed him, Mary Strathsay says. But perhaps you're right;
Margray makes little moan."

"She was aye a quiet lass. Poor Johnny! - I'm getting curst myself. Well,
it's all in my letters. But you, Angus dear, how came you here?"

"I? My father came to London; and being off on leave from my three
years' cruise, I please myself in passing my holiday, and spend the last
month of it in Edinboro', before rejoining the ship."

All my moors and heather passed like a glamour. The green-wood shaws
would be there another year, - Angus was here to-day. I cast about me,
and knew that Miss Dunreddin would speed away to take her pleasure, and
there'd be none left but the governess and the painting-mistress, with
a boarder or two like myself, - and as for the twain, I could wind them
round my thumb.

"Oh, Angus," I said, breathlessly, "there's Arthur's Seat, and the
palaces, and the galleries and gardens, - it'll be quite as good as the
moors; there'll be no Miss Dunreddin, and you can stay here all the
leelang simmer's day!"

He smiled, as he answered, -

"And I suppose those scarlet signals at the fore signify" - -


"Fast colors, I see."

"It's my father's own color, and I'm proud of it, - barring the telltale

"You're proud," said he, absently, standing up to go, "that you are the
only one of them all that heirs him?"

"Not quite. It's the olive in my father's cheek that darkened his wife's
yellow curls into Mary Strathsay's chestnut ones. And she's like me in
more than that, gin she doesn't sell hersel' for siller and gowd."

"I'll tell you what. Mrs. Strathsay is over-particular in speech. She'll
have none of the broad Highland tongue about her. It's a daily struggle
that she has, not to strike Nurse Nannie dumb, since she has infected

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 15 17 18 19 20 21 22

Online LibraryVariousThe Atlantic Monthly, Volume 11, No. 63, January, 1863 → online text (page 15 of 22)