10 DECEMBER 1937, Page 42


of a Scotti3h seaman which Mr Alexander Laing has reprinted (Cassell, zos. 6d.) from a forgotten volume of 1822 are interesting, though the discoverer exaggerates their literary merit in his introduction. John Howell, the Edinburgh literary man who, as he says, took down Nices narrative from his own mouth, was a prosaic reporter and thus missed a good many opportunities. Nicol was at St. Vincent and at the Nile, but apparently had little to say about either of these great . battles: _ He-mentions -that the -women, carried in. waiihips in those days, helped the boys to take powder 46:the guns." —The best-chapters describe P.ordock's voyage of exploration in the Pacific in 1785-6, and a voyage in a convict ship to the new Australian settlement at Port Jackson in 1789-90.

Nicol was the steward in this ship which had 245 women prisoners on board. The sailors and the women contracted temporary alliances during the twelve months' voyage, and Nicol's mistress bore him a child at sea. He had to leave her in Australia and never found her again. Nicol was evidently proud of the fact that he volunteered for service in the Navy, at a time when the ships were largely manned by the press-gang, and he had no complaint to make of the conditions. He was usually employed at his trade as a cooper and thus, perhaps, fared some- what better than the ordinary seaman.