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A STORMY gale, which blew directly on the eastern shore of Jutland, and had prevailed without intermission for several days, rendered the situation of H.M.S. S—, then cruizing off that perilous coast, dangerous in the extreme. The dead reckoning, or that deduced from the log, indeed indicated otherwise, for it placed the ship in a most advantageous offing in the North Sea-a circumstance at once corroborated by the pilot, (a veteran in decision,) who having calculated “ his latitude and longitude by observation," with a pair of blunt compasses from a shrivelled chart of fifty years' standing, declared he knew to a fathom the position they were in.
The pilot's confident assertion, however, was widely at variance with the computation carried forward from the last sight of the sun, and the longitude by chronometer; and though he considered the plan of pointing out the ship's place on the chart with a couple of broad fingers extending over some sixty miles of longitude, far superior to the newfangled notions of philosophers and stargazers, for both of which classes he had a superlative contempt; yet the captain was not altogether so satisfied with his skill, particularly when he observed the sweeping curve which his large hand made towards the coast of Norway, as he exclaimed, “ There we are, Sir-I'm certain we're there ;-not a doubt of it, Sir.-Last soundings exactly as I expected, Sir;" and then putting his nose close to the paper, “ yellow sand and black specks” glimmered before his eyes, to which harmonious words he gave utterance
three successive times, and was then about to proceed with his favourite story. “I remember, the time I was master of the Dorothy"
— when the captain desired him to tell the officer of the watch to get another cast of the lead.
A jest sometimes seasons a sorrowful description; but absurdity, like merriment, seldom allays well-grounded anxiety; and the commander, placing more reliance on the facts which his own observations explained, than the blundering guesses of a pilot, whose local knowledge availed nothing out of sight of land, waited with the greatest solicitude the result of the soundings.
It was a dark November's night, and the ship was plunging through the fractious waves, under the spread of as much canvass as the gale permitted to be set, when the pilot delivered the captain's orders to the lieutenant of the watch.
“ Pass the line along !" was the word ; and