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be of no more use to us than a spare pumpbolt, as our simple mode of living secures to us good health and a long life—barring accidents. Thou dost not surely wish to become accoucheur to such " delicate nurslings"* as we have to deal with upon the whaling ground V
"' Nay, my good sir,' I replied, humouring the joke, '1 do not come to offer professional service—and least of all to those producers of bantling twelve-foot babes that you speak of. I wish not the increase of the species, heaven knows.; but desire rather to thin the tribe, and to try my skill with the exterminating lance of the whaler—exchanging therefor the lance of my profession, which is likely to grow rusty for lack of use. The people are most distressingly healthy here, sir.'
"' Ho—ho!' snorted the captain; 'come, that last joke is a good one. But, let me tell thee, if thou art serious, that it is a wild scheme; it would be sheer madness in one such as thou to attempt it. Be advised, and think no more of pursuing the freak. Why, doctor, what under the sun couldst thou do at sea among the whales 1 I cannot imagine what good service we could put thee to. Thou canst neither hand, reef, nor steer; pull an oar—slush a mast—climb the rigging—nor—'
"' Stop there,' said I, ' and look you here—'
"With this, being something of a gymnast, I" made a spring at the fore-stay, and ascended, hand over hand to the round-top, without touching the rope with my feet; and descended to the deck in the same manner, by my hands alone, on the inner side of the ratlings.
"' There !' said I,' if any of your crew can beat that, or do any thing else that / cannot do, I will agree that I might possibly prove a useless appendage to your ship.'
"' Thy delicate skin and lady-hands belied thee,' answered he; 'they are, in good sooth, no recommend
* Professor Leslie.
ation to the whale-fisherman. But I see there is metal in thee, and we will soon give them the opportunity of acquiring a substantial coat of brown. Thou mayst come aft and sign the articles, if thou likest. Odds-fish! What will the people say to my having shipped a tippy lobster-coated doctor before the mast!'
"And now, Grimshaw," concluded Imbert, " you have the upshot of the whole matter. But if you imagine that I am going to pine away with useless regrets, or that I cannot put on the manners of a sailor the moment I don his round jacket, you were never more at fault. I have that in me whieh people call versatility of character; and, let me go where I will, it is an easy thing to accommodate myself to circumstances. It is not now in character, to be sure, to troll a sailor's song, and make gestures 'to match,' in this fashionable toggery —and upon a Sunday, too—but nHmporte.; we are alone—and you shall hear—so here goes :—
1 When the anchor's weighed, and the ship's unmoored,
When we sail with freshening breeze,
And landsmen all grow sick, sir,
And the song and the can go quick, sir .-
* From an early number of the "Port-folio," published origin-, ally in Philadelphia.
By all heaven's powers,
An American whale-ship is fitted out with more than ordinary care. The health of the crew is of paramount importance; and their food and clothing are generally selected with reference to the variation of all climates. A heedful commander will display as much anxiety in culling and packing his sea-biscuit, as a careful matron in stowing away her three years' supply of poundcake in jars of stone. For the better keeping of the hard bread, casks that have contained ardent spirits are sought for with avidity; and sometimes, when these are not to be had, new barrels are prepared with a coating of the spirits of turpentine between the joints of the staves, as a protection against the worms that are generated in the biscuit and pease of the sailor, when put up for long voyages. The beef and the pork must be cured and packed in the best possible manner; and such vegetables as can be preserved for any length of time are picked over again and again upon the voyage, and used with rigid economy. The potato is a luxury at sea, and is held in high estimation as an anti-scorbutic. It is sometimes grated by the sailor, like horseradish, and eaten raw with vinegar. Prepared in this way, he finds it a delightful condiment to the salted provisions, of which he is obliged to partake, day after day for months together, after the livestock, with which he is plentifully provided at first, is exhausted. Other provisions are also procured with an especial eye to preserration and the comfort of the crew. Flour, and meal, and molasses, and vinegar, and all necessary things, are laid in of the best quality; and that commander would be regarded as criminal in his conduct who failed to inspect with his own eyes, and to select with his best judgment, whatever is intended for his crew, who are invariably destined to undergo hardships and privations, upon a long whaling voyage, that are not dreamed of by landsmen, who go not " down to the sea in ships," but quietly stay at home, and enjoy the comforts of a snug chimney-corner while the storm rages abroad.
The women, too, in those places that the whale-fishermen call their home, are ever watchful of the comfort of the crews. The expected departure of a whale-ship is to them a season of anxiety and preparation. Mattresses and bed-clothing, trousers and jackets, stockings and shirts, pea-jackets and storm-coats, are carefully overhauled, and the rents in the garments made whole. New supplies of clothing are added, to suit all weathers; and a thousand little nicknacks and keepsakes are stowed away in chests and clothes-bags, that betray the tender consideration of woman for her sailorkindred.
It is only by attentions like these that our race of the bravest and best seamen in the world is preserved. Neglect these precautions, and you may be sure that the privations consequent upon their omission would send home your crews mutinous and dissatisfied; and that the hazardous but exciting trade itself would soon be neglected, and come to a natural decay.
There are other things of equal importance, that are looked to with a critical eye by the experienced whaling captain; and the success of his voyage often depends upon them, as much as upon an active and willing crew. The ship must be well found in spars and rigging; the clinker-built whale-boats must be light and buoyant; the oars well balanced, and of the toughest material; the lines well spun, and the harpoons, and lances, and blubber spades made of tough and pliant iron, and laid with the best of steel. With preparations such as these, —with fearless hearts, strong hands, and steady eyes— success is almost certain. But the perils of the trade, and the many casualties'of the profession, often render the best preparatory measures nugatory, and the voyage disastrous.
A whaling captain, in the very best sense of the word, was Jonathan Coleman, the commander of the Leviathan. He was a light-hearted, merry fellow, and loved his joke; but his profession was, notwithstanding, a passion with him. He had, with constant assiduity, overlooked the stowage of his provisions and his oil-casks; picked his crew from the young and hardy men of the island; paid frequent visits to the forecastle, and pried, good-naturedly, into the preparations of the seamen; and, where it was necessary, gave them good advice for ther future welfare: and he sometimes insisted pertinaciously upon an additional blanket, or a better bed— a new pea-jacket, or an additional flannel shirt. If means were lacking for a proper outfit, his hand and his purse were open to supply the purchase, either as a gift or as a loan.
"Darn your skins!" said he, "you must trust to an old whaler in these matters: there must be no grumbling on board my ship—no shivering with cold—no short allowance: I am determined you shall be comfortable. But mark !—when we get upon whaling ground, every one must do his duty. I should almost be tempted to pitch a man into the sea, if I saw him blench, or even wink, at danger. Plenty to eat, and plenty to drink,— but no skulking, my boys!"
The reader will not think it strange, if such a man as the captain of the Leviathan was a favourite with his crew. His motto was—" Business first, and pleasure afterward."
"Come, my lads!" said he, when he saw the ship ready for sea, "our labour for the present is done. The