The Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and Instruction Volume 13, No. 356, February 14, 1829 online

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the captain sung out, "Now, my lads! down to the main-deck, and fire
away as fast as you can." The seamen cheered loudly as they fired the
first broadside, and continued to do so at intervals during the action.
The battle had actually commenced to windward before the Asia and the
Ottoman admiral had exchanged a single shot; and the action in that part
of the bay was brought on in nearly a similar manner as in ours, by the
Turks firing into the boat dispatched by Sir E. Codrington to explain
the mediatorial views of the Allies. The Greek pilot had been killed;
and ere the Asia's boat had reached the ship, the firing was unremitting
between the Asia, Genoa, and Albion, and the Turkish ships. About
half-past two o'clock, the battle had become general throughout the
whole lines, and the cannonade was one uninterrupted crash, louder than
any thunder. Previous to the Egyptian frigate firing into us, the men,
not engaged in furling the sails, had stripped themselves to their
duck-frocks, and were binding their black-silk neckcloths round
their heads and waists, and some upon their left knees.

The Egyptian frigate, which had fired into our ship was distant about
half a cable's length. Near her was another of the same large class,
together with a Turkish frigate and a corvette. These four ships poured
their broadsides into us without intermission for nearly a quarter of an
hour; but after a few rounds their firing became irregular and hasty,
and many of their shots injured our rigging. At the first broadside we
received, two men near me were instantly struck dead on the deck. There
was no appearance of any wounds upon them, but they never stirred a
limb; and their bodies, after lying a little beside the gun at which
they had been working, were dragged amid-ships. Several of the men were
now severely wounded.

We were near enough to distinguish the Turkish and Egyptian sailors in
the enemy's ships. They seemed to be a motley group. Most of them wore
turbans of white, with a red cap below, small brown jackets, and very
wide trousers; their legs were bare. They were active, brawny fellows,
of a dark-brown complexion, and they crowded the Turkish ships, which
accounts for the very great slaughter we occasioned among them. Many
dead bodies were tumbled through their port-holes into the sea.

Capt. Hugon, commanding the French frigate L'Armide, about three
o'clock, seeing the unequal, but unflinching combat we were maintaining,
wormed his ship coolly and deliberately through the Turkish inner line,
in such a gallant, masterly style, as never for one moment to obstruct
the fire of our ship upon our opponents. He then anchored on our
starboard-quarter, and fired a broadside into one of the Turkish
frigates, thus relieving us of one of our foes, which, in about ten
minutes, struck to the gallant Frenchman; who, on taking possession, in
the most handsome manner, hoisted our flag along with his own, to show
he had but completed the work we had begun. The skill, gallantry, and
courtesy of the French captain, were the subject of much talk amongst
us, and we were loud in his praise. We had still two of the frigates
and the corvette to contend with, whilst the Armide was engaged, when
a Russian line-of-battle-ship came up, and attracted the attention of
another Egyptian frigate, and thus drew off her fire from us. Our men
had now a breathing time, and they poured broadside upon broadside into
the Egyptian frigate, which had been our first assailant. The rapidity
and intensity of our concentrated fire soon told upon the vessel. Her
guns were irregularly served, and many shots struck our rigging. Our
round-shot, which were pointed to sink her, passed through her sides,
and frequently tore up her decks in rebounding. In a short time she was
compelled to haul down her colours, and ceased firing. We learned
afterwards, that her decks were covered with nearly one hundred and
fifty dead and wounded men, and the deck itself ripped up from the
effects of our balls. In the interim, the corvette, which had annoyed us
exceedingly during the action, came in for her share of our notice, and
we managed to repay her in some style for the favours she had bestowed
on us in the heat of the business. Orders were then issued for the men
to cease firing for a few minutes, until the Rose had passed between our
ship and the corvette, and had stationed herself in such a position as
to annoy the latter in conjunction with us. Our firing was then renewed
with redoubled fury, The men, during the pause, had leisure to quench
their thirst from the tank which stood on the deck, and they appeared
greatly refreshed - I may say, almost exhilarated, and to their work
they merrily went again.

The double-banked Egyptian frigate, which had struck her colours to us,
to our astonishment began, after having been silenced for some time, to
open a smart fire on our ships, though she had no colours flying. The
men were exceedingly exasperated at such treacherous conduct, and they
poured into her two severe broadsides, which effectually silenced her,
and at the moment we saw that a blue ensign was run up her mast, on
which we ceased cannonading her, and she never fired another gun during
the remainder of the action. It was a Greek pilot, pressed on board the
Egyptian, who ran up the English ensign, to prevent our ship from firing
again. He declared that our shot came into the frigate as thick and
rapidly as a hail-storm, and so terrified the crew, that they all ran
below. From the combined effects of our firing, and that of the Russian
ship, the other Egyptian frigate hauled down her colours. The corvette,
which was roughly handled by the Rose, was driven on shore, and there

Before this, however, a Turkish fireship approached us, having seemingly
no one on board. We fired into her, and in a few minutes she loudly
exploded astern, without doing us any damage. The concussion was
tremendous, shaking the ship through every beam. Another fireship came
close to the Philomel which soon sunk her, and in the very act of going
down she exploded.

A large ship near the Asia was now seen to be on fire; the blaze flamed
up as high as the topmast, and soon became one vast sheet of fire; in
that state she continued for a short time. The crew could be easily
discerned gliding about across the light; and, after a horrible
suspense, she blew up, with an explosion far louder and more stunning
than the ships which had done so in our vicinity. The smoke and lurid
flame ascended to a vast height in the air; beams, masts, and pieces of
the hull, along with human figures in various distorted postures, were
clearly distinguishable in the air.

It was now almost dark, and the action had ceased to be general
throughout the lines; but blaze rose upon blaze, and explosion thundered
upon explosion, in various parts of the bay. A pretty sharp cannonading
had been kept up between the guns of the castle and the ships entering
the bay, and that firing still continued. The smaller Turkish vessels,
forming the second line, were now nearly silenced, and several exhibited
signs of being on fire, from the thick light-coloured smoke that rose
from their decks.

The action had nearly terminated by six o'clock, after a duration of
four hours. Daylight had disappeared unperceived, owing to the dense
smoke of the cannonading, which, from the cessation of the firing,
now began to clear away, and showed us a clouded sky. The bay was
illuminated in various quarters by the numerous burning ships, which
rendered the sight one of the most sublime and magnificent that could
be imagined.

* * * * *


* * * * *


Seynte _Valentine_. Of custome, yeere by yeere,
Men have an usaunce, in this regioun,
To loke and serche Cupide's kalendere,
And chose theyr choyse, by grete affeccioun;
Such as ben _move_ with Cupide's mocioun,
Taking theyr choyse as theyr sorte doth falle;
But I love oon whyche excellith alle.

LYDGATE'S _Poem of Queen Catherine, consort to Henry V._, 1440.

In some villages in Kent there is a singular custom observed on St.
Valentine's day. The young maidens, from five or six to eighteen years
of age, assemble in a crowd, and burn an uncouth effigy, which they
denominate a "_holly boy_," and which they obtain from the boys;
while in another part of the village the boys burn an equally ridiculous
effigy, which they call an "ivy girl," and which they steal from the
girls. The oldest inhabitants can give you no reason or account of this
curious practice, though it is always a sport at this season.

Numerous are the sports and superstitions concerning the day in
different parts of England. In some parts of Dorsetshire the young folks
purchase wax candles, and let them remain lighted all night in the
bedroom. I learned this from some old Dorsetshire friends of mine, who,
however, could throw no further _light_ upon the subject. In the
same county, I was also informed it was in many places customary for the
maids to hang up in the kitchen a bunch of such flowers as were then in
season, neatly suspended by a true lover's knot of blue riband. These
innocent doings are prevalent in other parts of England, and elsewhere.

Misson, a learned traveller, relates an amusing practice which was kept
up in his time: - "On the eve of St. Valentine's day, the young folks in
England and Scotland, by a very ancient custom, celebrated a little
festival. An equal number of maids and bachelors assemble together; all
write their true or some feigned name separately upon as many billets,
which they rolled up, and drew by way of lots, the maids taking the
men's billets, and the men the maids'; so that each of the young men
lights upon a girl that he calls his Valentine, and each of the girls
upon a young man which she calls her's. By this means each has two
Valentines; but the man sticks faster to the Valentine that falls to
him, than to the Valentine to whom he has fallen. Fortune having thus
divided the company into so many couples, the Valentines give balls and
treats to their fair mistresses, wear their billets several days upon
their bosoms or sleeves, and this little sport often ends in love."

In Poor Robin's Almanack, 1676, the _drawing_ of Valentines is thus
alluded to:

"Now Andrew, Antho-
Ny, and William,
For Valentines _draw_
Prue, Kate, Jilian."

Gay makes mention of a method of choosing Valentines in his time, viz.
that the lad's Valentine was the first lass he spied in the morning, who
was not an inmate of the house; and the lass's Valentine was the first
young man she met.

Also, it is a belief among certain playful damsels, that if they pin
four bay leaves to the corners of the pillow, and the fifth in the
middle, they are certain of dreaming of their lover.

Shakspeare bears witness to the custom of looking out of window for a
Valentine, or desiring to be one, by making Ophelia sing: -

Good morrow! 'tis St. Valentine's day,
All in the morning betime,
And I a maid at your window.
To be your Valentine!

In London this day is ushered in by the thundering knock of the postman
at the different doors, through whose hands some thousands of Valentines
pass for many a fair maiden in the course of the day. Valentines are,
however, getting very ridiculous, if we may go by the numerous doggrels
that appear in the print-shops on this day. As an instance, I transmit
the reader a copy of some lines appended to a Valentine sent me last
year. Under the figure of a shoemaker, with a head thrice the size of
his body, and his legs forming an oval, were the following rhymes: -

Do you think to be my Valentine?
Oh, no! you snob, you shan't be mine:
So big your ugly head has grown,
No wig will fit to seem your own
Go, find your equal if you can,
For I will ne'er have such a man;
Your fine _bow_ legs and turned-in feet,
Make you a _citizen_ complete."

The _fair_ writer had here evidently ventured upon a pun; how far
it has succeeded I will leave others to say. The lovely creature was,
however, entirely ignorant of my calling; and whatever impression such
a description would leave on the reader's mind, it made none on mine,
though in the second verse I was certainly much pleased with the fair
punster. I wish you saw the engraving!


* * * * *

[Illustration: Kirkstall Abbey.]

The first page or frontispiece embellisment of the present Number of the
MIRROR illustrates one of the most recent triumphs of art; and the above
vignette is a fragment of the monastic splendour of the twelfth century.
Truly this is the _bathos_ of art. The plaster and paint of the
_Colosseum_ are scarcely dry, and half the work is in embryo;
whilst _Kirkstall_ is crumbling to dust, and reading us "sermons in
stones:" we may well say,

"Look here, upon this picture, and on this."

Kirkstall Abbey is situated a short distance from Leeds, in the West
Riding of Yorkshire. Its situation is one of the most picturesque that
the children of romance can wish for, being in a beautiful vale, watered
by the river Aire. It was of the Cistercian order, founded by Henry de
Lacy in 1157, and valued at the dissolution at 329l. 2s. 11d. Its rents
are now worth 10,253l. 6s. 8d. The gateway has been walled up, and
converted into a farm-house. The abbot's palace was on the south; the
roof of the aisle is entirely gone; places for six altars, three on each
side the high altar, appear by distinct chapels, but to what saints
dedicated is not easy, at this time, to discover. The length of the
church, from east to west, was 224 feet; the transept, from north to
south, 118 feet. The tower, built in the time of Henry VIII., remained
entire till January 27, 1779, when three sides of it were blown down,
and only the fourth remains. Part of an arched chamber, leading to the
cemetery, and part of the dormitory, still remain. On the ceiling of a
room in the gatehouse is inscribed,

Mille et Quingentos postquam compleverit Orbis
Tuq: et ter demos per sua signi Deus
Prima sauluteferi post cunabula Christi,
Cui datur omnium Honor, Gloria, Laus, et Amor.

The principal window is particularly admired as a rich specimen of
Gothic beauty, and a tourist, in 1818, says, "bids defiance to time
and tempest;" but in our engraving, which is of very recent date, the
details of the window will be sought for in vain. "Shrubs and trees,"
observes the same writer, "have found a footing in the crevices, and
branches from the walls shook in undulating monotony, and with a gloomy
and spiritual murmur, that spoke to the ear of time and events gone by,
and lost in oblivion and dilapidation. At the end, immediately beneath
the colossal window, grows an alder of considerable luxuriance, which,
added to the situation of every other object, brought Mr. Southey's
pathetic ballad of 'Mary the Maid of the Inn,' so forcibly before my
imagination,[5] that I involuntarily turned my eye to search for the
grave, where the murderers concealed their victim." He likewise tells
us of "the former garden of the monastery, still cultivated, and
exhibiting a fruitful appearance;" cells and cavities covered with
underwood; and his ascent to a gallery by a winding turret stair,
whence, says he, "the monks of Kirkstall feasted their eyes with all
that was charming in nature. It is said," adds he, "that a subterraneous
passage existed from hence to Eshelt Hall, a distance of some miles,
and that the entrance is yet traced."

[5] We ourselves remember the thrilling effect of our first reading
this ballad; especially while clambering over the ruins of
Brambletye House. Indeed, the incident of the ballad is of the
most sinking character, and it works on the stage with truly
melo-dramatic force, Perhaps, there is not a more interesting
picture than a solitary tree, tufted on a time-worn ruin; there
are a thousand associations in such a scene, which, to the
reflective mind, are dear as life's-blood, and as an artist
would say, they make a fine study.

* * * * *


* * * * *


The _Mocking-bird_ seems to be the prince of all song birds, being
altogether unrivalled in the extent and variety of his vocal powers;
and, besides the fulness and melody of his original notes, he has the
faculty of imitating the notes of all other birds, from the humming-bird
to the eagle. Pennant tells us that he heard a caged one, in England,
imitate the mewing of a cat and the creaking of a sign in high winds.
The Hon. Daines Barrington says, his pipe comes nearest to the
nightingale, of any bird he ever heard. The description, however, given
by Wilson, in his own inimitable manner, as far excels Pennant and
Barrington as the bird excels his fellow-songsters. Wilson tells that
the ease, elegance and rapidity of his movements, the animation of his
eye, and the intelligence he displays in listening and laying up
lessons, mark the peculiarity of his genius. His voice is full, strong,
and musical, and capable of almost every modulation, from the clear
mellow tones of the wood thrush to the savage scream of the bald eagle.
In measure and accents he faithfully follows his originals, while in
force and sweetness of expression he greatly improves upon them.
In his native woods, upon a dewy morning, his song rises above every
competitor, for the others seem merely as inferior accompaniments. His
own notes are bold and full, and varied seemingly beyond all limits.
They consist of short expressions of two, three, or at most five or six,
syllables, generally expressed with great emphasis and rapidity, and
continued with undiminished ardour, for half an hour or an hour at a
time. While singing, he expands his wings and his tail, glistening with
white, keeping time to his own music, and the buoyant gaiety of his
action is no less fascinating than his song. He sweeps round with
enthusiastic ecstasy, he mounts and descends as his song swells or dies
away; he bounds aloft, as Bartram says, with the celerity of an arrow,
as if to recover or recall his very soul, expired in the last elevated
strain. A bystander might suppose that the whole feathered tribes had
assembled together on a trial of skill; each striving to produce his
utmost effect, so perfect are his imitations. He often deceives the
sportsman, and even birds themselves are sometimes imposed upon by this
admirable mimic. In confinement he loses little of the power or energy
of his song. He whistles for the dog; Cæsar starts up, wags his tail,
and runs to meet his master. He cries like a hurt chicken, and the hen
hurries about, with feathers on end, to protect her injured brood. He
repeats the tune taught him, though it be of considerable length, with
great accuracy. He runs over the notes of the canary, and of the red
bird, with such superior execution and effect, that the mortified
songsters confess his triumph by their silence. His fondness for
variety, some suppose to injure his song. His imitations of the brown
thrush is often interrupted by the crowing of cocks; and his exquisite
warblings after the blue bird, are mingled with the screaming of
swallows, or the cackling of hens. During moonlight, both in the wild
and tame state, he sings the whole night long. The hunters, in their
night excursions, know that the moon is rising the instant they begin to
hear his delightful solo. After Shakspeare, Barrington attributes in
part the exquisiteness of the nightingale's song to the silence of the
night; but if so, what are we to think of the bird which in the open
glare of day, overpowers and often silences all competition? His natural
notes partake of a character similar to those of the brown thrush, but
they are more sweet, more expressive, more varied, and uttered with
greater rapidity.

The _Yellow breasted Chat_ naturally follows his superior in the
art of mimicry. When his haunt is approached, he scolds the passenger in
a great variety of odd and uncouth monosyllables, difficult to describe,
but easily imitated so as to deceive the bird himself, and draw him
after you to a good distance. At first are heard short notes like the
whistling of a duck's wings, beginning loud and rapid, and becoming
lower and slower, till they end in detached notes. There succeeds
something like the barking of young puppies, followed by a variety of
guttural sounds, and ending like the mewing of a cat, but much hoarser.

The song of the _Baltimore Oriole_ is little less remarkable than
his fine appearance, and the ingenuity with which he builds his nest.
His notes consist of a clear mellow whistle, repeated at short intervals
as he gleams among the branches. There is in it a certain wild
plaintiveness and _naïveté_ extremely interesting. It is not uttered
with rapidity, but with the pleasing tranquillity of a careless
ploughboy, whistling for amusement. Since the streets of some of the
American towns have been planted with Lombardy poplars, the orioles are
constant visiters, chanting their native "wood notes wild," amid the din
of coaches, wheelbarrows, and sometimes within a few yards of a bawling

The _Virginian Nightingale_, _Red Bird_, or _Cardinal
Grosbeak_, has great clearness, variety, and melody in his notes,
many of which resemble the higher notes of a fife, and are nearly as
loud. He sings from March till September, and begins early in the dawn,
and repeating a favourite stanza twenty or thirty times successively,
and often for a whole morning together, till, like a good story too
frequently repeated, it becomes quite tiresome. He is very sprightly,
and full of vivacity; yet his notes are much inferior to those of the
wood, or even of the brown thrush.

The whole song of the _Black-throated Bunting_ consists of five, or
rather two, notes; the first repeated twice and very slowly, the third
thrice and rapidly, resembling _chip_, _chip_, _che-che-che_;
of which ditty he is by no means parsimonious, but will continue it for
hours successively. His manners are much like those of the European
yellow-hammer, sitting, while he sings, on palings and low bushes.

The song of the _Rice Bird_ is highly musical. Mounting and
hovering on the wing, at a small height above the ground, he chants out
a jingling melody of varied notes, as if half a dozen birds were singing
together. Some idea may be formed of it, by striking the high keys of a
piano-forte singly and quickly, making as many contrasts as possible, of
high and low notes. Many of the tones are delightful, but the ear can
with difficulty separate them. The general effect of the whole is good;
and when ten or twelve are singing on the same tree, the concert is
singularly pleasing.

The _Red-eyed Flycatcher_ has a loud, lively, and energetic song,
which is continued sometimes for an hour without intermission. The
notes are, in short emphatic bars of two, three, or four syllables.
On listening to this bird, in his full ardour of song, it requires but
little imagination to fancy you hear the words "Tom Kelly! whip! Tom
Kelly!'" very distinctly; and hence Tom Kelly is the name given to the
bird in the West Indies.

The _Crested Titmouse_ possesses a remarkable variety in the tones
of its voice, at one time not louder than the squeaking of a mouse, and
in a moment after whistling aloud and clearly, as if calling a dog, and
continuing this dog-call through the woods for half an hour at a time.

The _Red-breasted Blue Bird_ has a soft, agreeable, and often
repeated warble, uttered with opening and quivering wings. In his
courtship he uses the tenderest expressions, and caresses his mate by
sitting close by her, and singing his most endearing warblings. If a
rival appears, he attacks him with fury, and having driven him away,
returns to pour out a song of triumph. In autumn his song changes to a
simple plaintive note, which is heard in open weather all winter, though
in severe weather the bird is never to be seen. - _Mag. Nat. Hist._

* * * * *


In the 312th Number of the _Mirror_, several solutions are given of
the name of a well-known and high-priced fish, the John Dory, or Jaune
Dorée. Sir Joseph Banks's observation, that it should be spelled and
acknowledged "adorée," because it is the most valuable (or worshipful)

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Online LibraryVariousThe Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and Instruction Volume 13, No. 356, February 14, 1829 → online text (page 2 of 4)