Изображения страниц

“And how much did he take, Polly Phemah-half a pint ?! “ Ah, and sometimes a pint, sur. “Sometimes a pint, eh?” said Mr. Bolderby, rubbing his hands. “Now, what came of him, Polly Phemah? what came of him ?”

“He died, sur,<died in the flower of his youth of dreadlum trimblins, rest his soul."

"Died, eh? died of delirium tremens. Ah, yes, yes, of course—died, died, died;" and Mr. Bolderby repeated the words in tones of savage satisfaction. “Very good, Polly Phemah, that will do ;" and Mr. Bolderby retreated to his room, repeating the words, “died, died, died-delirium tremens-flower of his youth."

Mr. Bolderby sat down that evening in his office to make a calculation. The proposition was-how long is a man, of fifty years of age, who drinks brandy every morning before breakfast, and otherwise indulges in excesses, likely to live ? After consulting various statistical books, including some teetotal tracts on the effects of alcohol, Mr. Bolderby came to the conclusion that the life of a person, such as he had in view, was not worth five years' purchase at the most. “Give him five years at the best,” said Mr. Bolderby to himself, “and I shall make a little fortune by him.” With this comfortable reflection, Mr. Bolderby rolled into his bed that night, to dream of retiring in five years time, taking Fairley Lodge, and being returned as member of Parliament for his native borough.

Six months after the events past related, as Mr. Bolderby was sitting down one morning to his labours of the day, Polly Phemah appeared before him to say that a gentleman wanted to see him.

“Show him in, Polly Phemah.”

The gentleman, on making his appearance, proved to be Mr. Pouncer, looking as hale and hearty as his dearest friends could have wished to see him.

"How do you do, Mr. Bolderby: The first half yearly portion of my annuity, I find, is due, and being in town, I thought I would just call and receive it."

“Certainly, Mr. Pouncer ; pray take a chair. I hope I see you well, Mr. Pouncer.”

"Never felt better in my life, Mr. Bolderby.”. “ Health is a great blessing,” observed Mr. Bolderby. "It is indeed, Mr. Bolderby; and no one has greater cause to be thankful for it than I have."

"Glad to hear it, I'm sure, Mr. Pouncer," said Mr. Bolderby, abstractedly proceeding to write out a cheque. “There, Mr. Pouncer, I think you will find that quite right.”.

“Thank you, Mr. Bolderby, it is quite-quite right,” said the client, putting the cheque in his pocket.

"And now, Mr. Pouncer," said Mr. Bolderby, in his agreeable tone, "allow me to offer you some refreshment."

"Thank you, no, Mr. Bolderby, I really do not require anything, I -"

"Don't say no, my dear sir," urged Mr. Bolderby; “ do take somethinga glass of wine now, or a glass of brandy."

"Oh dear no,” protested Mr. Pouncer, with a slight look of horror, “I never drink brandy; in fact, I never take anything of that kind, not even a glass of beer, before dinner."

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

“Why, how is that?" said Mr. Bolderby, in a confused manner; “I thought you were partial to brandy; the last time you were here, you may remember, you

“True, true, Mr. Bolderby," said the client, with the greatest effrontery, “but I did not come to receive an annuity on that occasion, but to buy one; and I can assure you, Mr. Bolderby, I made myself very ill that day in order to drive a good bargain. Good morning, Mr. Bolderby, good morning; I hope to have the pleasure of calling upon you for my halfyearly allowance for many years to come. All fair, you know, in love, war, and annuities."

Now I, the relater of this true story, am not going to defend Mr. Pouncer, or to say that the loose morality of the lawyer was a whit less loose than that of the client; but,--where's the use of argument in such a case ! it is twenty years since Mr. Pouncer bought his annuity of Mr. Bolderby, and the artful client still continues to call regularly every half year for his cheque, proving, by his hale

and hearty appearance, that it is likely to be yet many years before Mr. Bolderby will be allowed to forget PouncER'S ANNUITY.


The angel of evil

That watched at my birth
Rejoiced o'er my cradle of sorrow ;

But the angel of love

Dropped a tear from above,
And bade me have hope in To-morrow !

Vaunting manbood soon came,

But with struggles and pain,
Cast a deeper shade over my sorrow ;

Still was heard from above

A soft whisper of love-
Despair not, but hope in To-morrow !"

Now feeble with age,

To earth's eye, the last page
Of life's volume seems darkest in sorrow;

But the last sob of breath

Is the triumph o'er death,
And Hope reigns triumphant To-morrow !




“Wide let the venturous sea-bird roam,

A speck on ocean's bosom cast;
Touch with white breast the whiter foam,

And shriek before the rising blast." THOSE who have ventured to trespass upon the waves of the ocean, and speculate upon the waters of the deep, are more observant in their habits of the objects which are continually presenting themselves to their eyes, than those individuals who, at a general glance, whilst roaming in the footsteps of the land, comprehend a more multiplied sphere of incidental scenes and occurrences, than the widely-diffused space of ocean is ready or able to afford.

There is a continued sameness experienced in the mariner's life. His choice is a sorry one, although his intentions are directed to some useful end or enterprise, which lie quite uncertain as to the perfection of their accomplishment. During his oceanic pilgrimage he is quite shut out from the mixed society of the world; his lot is cast to wander awhile upon an untrodden waste ; his thoughts are as wandering as his way is doubtful; his reflections are homeward ; his prospects seaward; and he is constrained to fill up the vacancy of his time by attending to, and amusing his mind with, such aerial or Heating features as may occasionally present themselves to his notice, in the course of his voyaging career.

And thus it is that “ships' logs" become the types of imparting information to an inquiring world, that is ever thirsting after knowledge, which truth and experience combined can alone supply.

Circumnavigators have done much to enlighten the dark schools of longenduring ignorance, and have, by their persevering and perilous exertions, whilst penetrating into the mysterious chambers of the vasty deep, afforded a ready key to unlock and throw open the doors of instruction to the susceptibility of the human mind.

From the above remarks I am led to convey a few reminiscent facts, founded upon self-experience, as may relate to oceanic birds. Incidents transpire on board-ship, which, whilst many altogether overlook them, are nevertheless by some neither unheeded nor neglected.

On my voyage to the East Indies, in the merchant-ship Coldstream, thirty-years ago, it was in the fall of the year (for we weighed anchor off Gravesend on the 9th of September, 1826, and anchored in Madras Roads on the 9th of January following, 1827), I had occasion to witness a large variety of marine birds. On entering the long-rolling sea of the Bay of Biscay, a very interesting looking stranger, of comparatively minute dimensions, settled, in an apparently exhausted state, on the rigging of the ship: This little maritime adventurer, upon being captured and examined, proved to be a green canary bird, which had, there can be no doubt, been compelled by adverse winds to migrate beyond the prescribed limits of its own safety, and was necessitated to take shelter and seek a refuge in the first asylum open for its preservation. I was informed that these little delicate songsters assume a green plumage in their natural state, and that the faming yellow livery, which their persons represent in this, our own country, is produced by change of climate alone. Be this as it may, this feathered vocalist was kept on board for a few days, but appeared impatient of restraint, and when the ship lay off the Cape de Verd islands it took its departure, and winged its way to the African shore.

[ocr errors]

About a week afterwards, the man at the wheel was one night startled by some object, which darted like lightning across the binnicale. It proved to be a migratory swallow, which had, there can be no doubt, been attracted to the spot by the light which is nocturnally furnished for the use of the helmsman when exercising his responsible office. This wanderer was let free on the following day, and, endued with reinvigorated power, pursued its trackless way over seas, in the direction of the great African continent.

When the ship entered the tropics, in the wake of the vessel's way were to be observed numberless birds of the petrel species, know as “ Mother Carey's chickens(Pelagica procellaria). These attendants upon the deep are by sailors believed to act as harbingers to warn them against approaching storms; and, indeed, I recollect to have noticed many years ago a similar remark made by the Roman bard, Horace, in relation to the above bird

“ Should Afric's stormy bird extend

Its sable wings, &c.' There has always prevailed a credulous superstition regarding the presence of this little volucrine messenger of bad news. Mariners, who meet with it so near home as the British Channel, regard it in the light of a troublebringing wayfarer, but I am led to infer the long-prevailing, contrary winds have the effect of driving this petrel from its usual aerial tracks into latitudes with which it has no climaterial relationship.

During our tropical voyage we encountered a numerous variety of sea-birds. The most striking feature among them was the “boatswain bird” (Phaeton tropicus). The plumage of this volitant supra-marine adventurer is delicately white, accompanied by a jugular band of black feathers. It flies exceedingly high in the air, and is never to be observed settling on the water. The next I may have occasion to bring to my notice is the "frigate-bird” (pelicanus armatus). I remember, on my way home, bound from Calcutta to Liverpool, perceiving an immense shoal of fish a short distance from the ship, on the starboard side, which quite endarkened the water. Dozens of the birds above-named were busily engaged in hawking after their fishy quarry. The line, which comprehended the shoal I have adverted to, with the assistance of a competent telescope I observed extended for more than two miles in extent. To acquaint ourselves of the nature and character of this strange and unaccountable migratory colony, the commander of the vessel I was aboard caused her to be eased off two points from the direction in which she was bearing, when we shortly approached the finny shoal, which proved to be mackerel. To what point of land they were repairing, it would be somewhat unsafe to conjecture; but these fish are, at certain seasons, caught off the Island of St. Helena in large numbers.

of the Island of Ascension we detected several turtle, which floated upon the water asleep. The jolly-boat was lowered ; six men entered her, and putting off, contrived to capture five of these highly-esteemed features of shell furniture. As we approached the south coast of Africa the petrels were to be noticed in vast quantities and in great varieties, consisting chiefly, of albatross, Cape hens, Cape-pigeons, silver birds, &c. The first-named' is the largest marine bird that affects these low latitudes

. The Diomedea exulans is to be observed coursing its trackless way over the long-stretching seas which carry their waters into the great Indian Ocean, heedless of the storm and regardless of the tempest

“ The winged leviathan of the vasty waves." Seldom seen near land, and exulting in tempestuous weather, it represents the picturesque feature of desolation, whilst spreading its broad and es. panded wings over the unfathomable element which it adopts as its cradle. We managed, whilst rounding the Cape of Good Hope, on bearing towards Algoa Bay, to capture three of the above birds, by means of a hook attached to a log-line. The tenter was baited with a piece of fat pork, and cast overboard, whilst the line was paid off over the taffrail at the stern of the vessel, until it reached nearly one hundred yards out at sea. The birds, on perceiving the bait, descended into the wave, and gorging the same, became thereby hooked, and being unable to release themselves, weré dragged on board without evincing much resistance. I observed one especial character pertaining to the albatross, which was this, viz., that the instant it was introduced upon the deck of the ship it vomited a prodigious quantity of a pale-complexioned pellucid oil, wholly unconnected with any substantial matter. This gives me reason to believe that the food upon which it subsists is chiefly composed of those oleaginous fluids which proceed from the decomposed bodies of whales, porpoises, and other fish of the Balæna family.

The Cape-hen (Diomedea fuliginosa), so-called on account of the dark umber-clouded complexion of its plumage, is somewhat smaller than its previously-named congener, but possesses all the striking qualities and habits of the former bird, whilst the inferior classes of petrel are seldom noticeable near ship’s-way, but keep widely off, and far away from every object that disturbs the uniform surface of the ocean field. We caught two boobies, which had sought a bed in the netting over the forecastle. Whether they could not or would not take wing I will not say, but they suffered themselves to be handled and secured as voluntary captives.

In the Bay of Bengal we were visited by black crows, and armies of kites of various kinds, wbich, occasionally, placed footing on the rigging, looking out for such refuse as might, from time to time, have been thrown overboard by the ship's company.

It is quite evident that tho birds of the ocean subsist wholly upon fish, when it is obtainable. Their masticating organs are not contrived for herbaceous or granular consumption; their piscivorous habits are attended with little or no labour, for they gorge indiscriminately the produce of their capture with eager voracity. In the Island of St. Paul, in the Indian Ocean, large quantities of sea-birds nestle and breed amid the basaltic rocks, and I feel thoroughly convinced, from what I have witnessed under my own personal inspection, that a valuable mine of guano might be obtained from the above island.

Poems for Recitation.



A RICH man walk'd abroad one day
And a poor man walk'd the self same way ;
When a pale and a starving face came by
With a palid lip and a hopeless eye :
And that starving face presumed to stand
And ask for bread from the rich man's hand;
But the rich man sullenly look'd askance,
With a gathering frown and a doubtful glance,
“I have nothing," said he,“ to give to you,
Nor any such rogue of a canting crew.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »