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PROJ ECTOR. I am proud, sir, to belong to the Council of Ten: but, whatever I may be, give me leave to tell you, that you are a low, jealous, malignant, mean-spirited vilifier of your betters: that you can have no conception of what is patriotic or generous; and no relish for what is magnificent in design, or beautiful in composition.
STRANGER. Mr. Amateur, I wish you a very good evening. You are a most promising beginner. You already go technically to work. You have come here to puff your own publication under the pretence of asking me for my opinion upon a thing which was indifferent to you. I declare to you, Mr. Amateur, I think the most regular professor in book. making could hardly have done it better.
This account of the Projector derived an irresistibly comic effect from the manner in which it was delivered : it caused long and almost immoderate mirth in the whole Council. Your antagonist, said the Captain, laughing, may have quitted the field: but he most certainly had the best of the battle. His guns appear to have been served with more dexterity. The Projector laughed too; but owned that, at the time, his rage and vexation were almost without bounds.
Urbanus, being now called upon, produced his address to the ladies ; simply premising, that, for very sufficient reasons, he wished to offer it rather in his own name, individually, than in that of the Council.
It only remains to add, that in consequence of the absence of the Squire, his place is supplied by the Sailor, whom we have mentioned. According to our custom we shall introduce the new member to our readers with a brief delineation of his character.
The delineation will be brief for two reasons. In the first place, we have already said that our Sailor was a mid. shipman under Nelson, and was present at most of the glorious actions which occurred during the first years of the present century and we need merely say, that having passed with honour the intermediate gradations of rank, he was made a Post-Captain almost immediately after the bombardment of Algiers ; but was so disabled by his wounds, that he has been compelled, although with infinite reluctance, to remain, since that time, chiefly on shore for the benefit of his health. In the second, the life of a sailor, generally speaking, has little of that kind of variety which admits of description. Cooped up in his small and “sea-girt citadel,” which allows neither escape nor change ; he spends his days in the same manner, and with the same companions ; and is altogether exempted from the cares and pleasures, the feverish passions and agitating alternations of ordinary existence. In appearance, therefore, such a mode of being presents only a dull, listless, unvaried monotony. For himself, indeed, there occur many and fearful vicissitudes. The touching at a fresh port—the hailing of a strange vessel—the flight, the chase, the conflict—the very changes of the wind—and the thousand aspects of the ocean, during the dead calm, or when moved by the gentle gale, or ruffled by the breeze, the squall, or the tempest-together with the occasional transitions from confinement to freedom, from strict discipline to unbridled indulgence-- all form epochs in his life, which have for him an intense and lasting interest.
But extracts from the log-book afford no amusement to the mass of mankind, whose habits, notions, and adventures are so essentially and widely different. For them the ocean is a vast and sublime, but still an uniform and single, object; and the striking events and real dangers which occur upon it, move their feelings far less than a detail of the frivolous amusements of a fashionable beauty, or the sentimental miseries of a despairing lover. And how often, in fact-to add a more comprehensive reflection-are the lives of those men, whose memoirs would hardly occupy a page of narration, replete, daily and even hourly, with joys and griefs, expectations and disappointments, triumphs and reverses, which are known only to themselves,
but disturb and rack their breasts with perpetual and consuming violence. In reality, the existence of the soldier, the traveller, the man of pleasure, is not so chequered with struggles and vicissitudes as that of the alchymist of old, or at this day, the scientific inquirer, the scholar, or the author. But with regard to the latter, the struggles are internal; the vicissitudes are of the mind, gnawing and harrowing it in secret : they are not exhibited to the idle gaze of the multitude : they fill no space either in history or romance.
To return; from the circumstances which occur, and the habits which are engendered upon the ocean, it has invariably resulted that sailors may be distinguished by a sort of generic character. They have, almost all, in certain points, and to a certain extent, a resemblance with each other. We find them, almost universally, bold and reckless from long and continual familiarity with peril--cheerful and unthinking from having few domestic ties, few of the petty, but oppressing, anxieties and vexations, which harass those, who are engaged in business, and have some settled abode and routine of living-liberal and profuse of money, from ignorance of its value, and from knowing no want of it, and no use for it, at sea.
The Post-Captain, who is a member of our Council, possesses all these characteristics. Like most naval offi- . cers, he is brave even to rashness, and generous almost to a fault, with utter carelessness about the present, and utter fearlessness about the future. His prodigal charity has, in fact, sometimes involved him in pecuniary difficulties. We, therefore, tell him, in the hope of checking his benefactions, that in such charity there is no virtue: because it is the offspring of impulse, instead of reason, and is bestowed without inquiry or discrimination upon the worthy, or the undeserving; and because while he has such complete heedlessness and contempt for money, there can be no sacrifice or self-denial in parting with it. But our remonstrances and his own experience are equally thrown away. It would be as easy to arrest the tide of his own element, as to stop the stream and torrent of his bounty.
At the present period of his life our sailor is not the man of all the world the most calculated to adorn a drawing-room. For, on the one hand, his figure has no earthly similitude to a statue of Paris or Apollo: he is rather below the middle size, and cast in a square and thick-set mould; to which must be added, that he is battered and sun-burnt, and a little lame from a wound upon the knee: on the other, the common forms and etiquette of society are his aversion and abomination; he feels and expresses the most undisguised and unmeasured abhorrence of foppery and effeminacy in men, coquettish airs and mincing affectation in women: he speaks his mind with straightforward and almost startling sincerity; and shews no mercy to artifice or finesse, or any doubling and intriguing line of conduct: and besides that honest and uncompromising bluntness, which is natural to him, he has been too much accustomed to command, and can no longer cringe and fawn, or accommodate himself to the established falsehoods, and regular deceits, which constitute the chief part of worldly politeness. Yet no man can have a kinder heart, or would be more angry with himself, if he knew that he had hurt the feelings of another; and although his rough plainness and boisterous hilarity may occasionally intimidate at the first interview, the frank intelligence of his countenance, and the noble truth, which shines forth in all his actions, are sure to gain the heart upon a longer and more intimate acquaintance.
But we can never judge of sailors with fairness and accuracy, by seeing them only upon land. They are like children just let loose from school, or captives just escaped from personal restraint. Thus, with regard to the subject of this sketch, nothing can be more distinct than the thoughtless fellow on shore, from the calm, steady, intrepid, experienced and cautious commander in his own ship. He is there a stern disciplinarian; but all the individuals of his crew esteem him for his skill, and love him for his courage. Nor are they disposed to murmur at his severity; when they feel that he has a regard and affection for them at his heart; and know, that they can trust him in danger, and in every difficulty find an adviser and a friend. His men on all occasions serve him with reverence, and obey him with alacrity: but sailors will only laugh at an officer, however mild and indulgent, who is not well acquainted with his profession; or on whose dexterity, resources and presence of mind they cannot confidently rely, whenever there is a demand for the exercise of such qualifications. Our Captain is one of the best seamen in the navy; an excellent geographer ; and on all points connected with nautical affairs a dictionary, which may be consulted with certainty and safety.
In the Council he defends press-gangs, upon the plea of necessity, against the majority of the members. He expresses gratitude for the floating chapels, which have been established, and the efforts which are daily made to improve the moral character, and religious principles of the sailors. Yet it is evident, at the same time, that he looks upon these efforts with a kind of involuntary suspicion. He would strongly deprecate any material change in the habits of the sea-service: he seems to think that there is virtue in the very pig-tails: he considers a British tar as a privileged person, who would be spoiled by being pruned and cut down into a precise and sober being ; who ought to be allowed a few occasional freaks of wildness and irregularity; and who must not be judged by the common rules of stiff and formal decorum.