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and play him steadily; the violence of his own efforts will soon exhaust him.
Behold him now, with open mouth, into which the water pours freely, scarcely moving as he is dragged in the wake of the ship, his nose just above the wave, and almost drowned. Now, quick with the running noose, and slip it cleverly over his head and body, until it reaches the tail, then join it firmly.
It is done ; now haul away and land the monster on deck. Keep clear of that huge tail ; one blow from it would shiver your leg to pieces. Quick, an axe, there! that good blow has severed his tail, and he is now powerless. Drag him forward, and cut him in pieces for the pot as soon as you will, but carefully preserve the back-bone and jaws.
Alas ! how many of us, like this poor shark, have fallen victims to our unruly appetites, lured by some tempting bait to our destruction !
The approach to the British Channel was marked with a new source of interest and amusement to the tired voyagers. Vessels were now daily seen, some, like ourselves, homeward bound
oh joyful destination, ever gladdening the sailor's heart-and converging from many distant points as they closed in upon the mouth of the narrow sea; others starting on distant voyages, full of hope and assurance, like youth just entering on life, before a single squall has ruffled his shining path before him.
With some ships we exchanged numbers and signals, to others we merely showed our national colours.
That fine ship a-head of us will surely pass within hai]. Ah! the captain is prepared to speak her. See, he stands on the rail, trumpet in hand. What is that they are putting over her side ? I see, it is the log-board, with the longitude chalked upon it: welcome information at this critical point of our voyage, especially as we have not had an observation of sun or star for two days past, and the weather continues thick and cloudy, whilst the south-west gale bears us rapidly towards the land. What is written? give me the spy-glass. Nine degrees, twenty-nine minutes : good! we are abreast of Cape Clear at all events, and in the fair way of the Channel.
“What ship's that?” “ The · Nonsuch ;' what are you
?" “ The 'Intrepid.'” Hardly is there time for such brief questions and answers when the vessels have passed out of earshot, and are pursuing their respective courses, probably never to meet again. How often does it happen that
voyagers meet on the wide ocean, hold short but familiar discourse together, and part with mutual good wishes, ignorant even of each other's names, apd not prepared to recognise each other's faces if they met next day in a room; but probably never to see each other again. These brief acquaintanceships are peculiar, I believe, to those who wander o'er the great deep.
But we are drawing near to the scene of our great and crowning disaster, and it is needful I should proceed with my narrative more in detail.
I have said Captain Robertson was a good seaman, and a good fellow — qualifications by no means inseparable ; but it not unfrequently happens that the possession of knowledge becomes a source of danger and mischief to us, from the self-confidence, self-conceit, and temerity it often engenders ; and this I have known again and again forcibly exemplified in maritime affairs.
It is, indeed, illustrative of the poet's meaning in the oft-quoted line,
" A little learning is a dangerous thing;"
for perfect knowledge would enable us at all times to guide our steps aright. It is the igno
rance that thinks itself wise that perpetually leads us into error, as
“ Fools rush in, where angels fear to tread.”
Captain Robertson had been long at sea, and for
many years in command of vessels. He prided himself, and justly perhaps, on his skill as a navigator. He had excellent nautical instruments, and his “landfalls” were frequently a source of astonishment to his passengers. If, indeed, he said land would be seen at such an hour, in such a direction, you might go to sleep until the time arrived, and awake with the pleasing certainty that you were near to your
desired haven. It was at 9h. 15m. A.M. that we had spoken the “ Nonsuch." The ship was kept on her course till noon; she was then hove to, and soundings carefully taken. Although we had been running for more than forty-eight hours without any celestial observation to correct our dead-reckoning, it was found that our longitude agreed within a few miles with that of the ship we had spoken ; and now the lead and line confirmed our position. The captain smiled a smile of satisfaction, and rubbing his hands with pleasure, and partly, perhaps, to restore the impeded circulation caused by the chill December's blast, he gave orders, in a cheerful voice, to fill away the main-yard, haul aft the fore-sheets, and steer direct up Channel, which we were soon doing at the rate of ten and a half knots before the freshening gale.
All was mirth and jollity that day: it seemed as if no one could command the exuberance of his spirits. We “sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play." It is true the dense mist and drizzling rain prevented our obtaining so much as a glimpse of fatherland; but, irrespective of our blind faith in the captain's assurance that we were "just there,” — putting the point of a somewhat coarse forefinger upon the chart, about W.S.W. of the Scilly Isles, and covering an area of some sixty square miles with it, --we knew, by the altered colour of the water, and by the sea-birds hovering and screaming in our wake, that we must be near land; whilst a sort of indescribable intuitive assurance was ours, that that land contained our friends, our homes, all most dear to us upon earth. But not a few there were who,though their hearts then beat high with exultant hope, their brains were busy with bright pictures of the future, their tongues prated of how they would “ take their ease, eat, drink, and be merry," — were never permitted to set foot on the promised land.