Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

own little dominions, and cannot, according to regulation, be accused by his inferiors, except through himself. It is true, he is in duty bound to forward such accusation to the admiral, under whom he serves; but it is scarcely necessary to say more on his absolute dominion than to notice the power he has to flog any

of his crew without their being tried by a court-martial-a power so great that perhaps it is extraordinary we do not find it more frequently abused by whim, passion, and prejudice.

Whether the degrading punishment of flogging is necessary to the maintenance of good discipline, it remains for those who have marked, as well as those who have experienced its effects, to determine.

In the humane and cultivated mind there can be but one opinion on the subject; but it is melancholy to know, that even among men who have suffered under the lash, many are found advocates for its use ; and it is no new sentiment among sailors who have served on board

ships of war to declare they could not be kept in order without flogging.

It must be admitted that it is an abasing sentiment, and imbibed by ignorance, for it will scarcely be denied that a free and martial spirit may be broken by a slavish motive to action ; and it is to be hoped that education will do as much for sailors as others, and render such severe laws altogether unnecessary.

Morland was received in the kindest manner, but he had not been an inattentive observer of the deep respect which was paid to his uncle; and when the drums beat to divisions, and he noticed him inspecting upwards of 500 men, ranged in lines along the different decks by the guns, he felt rather awed than pleased at the presence of one who seemed to hold so many in strict obedience.

The quarter-deck was now screened in by flags; benches and chairs were arranged for the officers and men ; and a high table, covered with a union jack, served as a reading-desk for the

clergyman, while the band occupied the front of the poop. A pendant was hoisted at the peak, no boats were allowed to come near, and as the heavy ship rode majestically over the tide, her seamen assembled in prayer.

Morland was deeply impressed with this ceremony, which was performed according to the ritual of the Church of England; and when the band played psalm, and a few strong voices repeated the sublime words,

“ Let Israel trust in God,

No bounds his mercy knows,” &c.

he felt most forcibly the beauty and pathos of that holy religion he had been taught, free alike from the mummery of superstition, and the cold, calculating presumption of worldly philosophy.

CHAPTER VII.

Vice must be vice, virtue be virtue still,
Though thousands rail at good, and practise ill.

CHURCHILL.

Know, gentle reader, that the pertinacious determination to adhere to a settled plan, prevents us passing over the Captain's advice to his nephew.

So soon as divine worship was finished, the Captain sent for Morland into his cabin.

“ You will find in this ship,” said he,“ much to astonish you, Morland; and thrown as you now are among a set of young men and boys, who, in a private point of view, may be said to act entirely for themselves, a few words of advice cannot be amiss to you.

“ Among those with whom you are about to associate there are (in despite of all that can be done to the contrary) some with much vice, and who laugh and scoff at religion and every other principle, save that which contributes to their own pleasure, aggrandizement, vanity, or selfishness.

“ These may be easily distinguished by their licentious conduct, an apparent contempt for their profession, and a general incorrect behaviour. You will find others, too, who will mock with considerable wit every sentiment of patriotism ; but you must not take all this in earnest, for, believe me, there is not one of them but is more or less proud of his country, and, at heart, glories in serving under her flag.

“A lack of rational occupation often leads to this kind of folly; therefore, I advise you, when duty permits, to proceed in those acquirements which your father has so

father has so judiciously pointed

out.

6. You are now entered into an honourable

« AnteriorContinuar »