3 DECEMBER 1831, Page 17


Cavendish, or the Patrician at Sea, is, as the second title ex- presses, a sailor's novel. It is in fact neither more nor less than a book on midshipmen afloat and ashore ; and contains a lively, though somewhat extravagant, history of the pranks, the adven- tures, the duties, and the wrongs of that nondescript class of Bri- tish officers. The author is a Naval Reformer, and has written his book not only with the purpose of amusing his readers, but of procuring changes in the important matter of ship-government. Cavendish is supposed to be the son of a Lord Charles, rich and boroughmongering ; and is what is commonly designated by the term a Pickle—whether out of reverence for SMOLLETT'S hero, or from the spicy heat of youthful genius. He is a dandy, and a young fellow about town, at fifteen ; very extravagant, very impu- dent, in his own opinion very clever ; supplies classical quotations for his father's speeches ; and carries on numerous intrigues with ladies, who write scratchy little billets, in a shape and with a su- perscription that offend the aristocratic eye of his indulgent parent, and this is all that he sees offensive in the matter. This hopeful youth takes to the Navy out of pure ennui, and persists in the rude life of a midshipman out of pure obstinacy. He has a turn for satire, poetry, romance, adventure, love, and friendship : he describes all his comrades, his various officers, his different ships ; he celebrates the picturesque, from Smyrna to the Isle of Wight, in prose and verse ; he bounces into harems on the coast of Barbary ; he invades the seclusion of Mussulman ladies at Constantinople ; he attempts to carry off a Marchese at Pa- lermo ; he is just about to do the same for a Colonel's wife at Malta, only he is anticipated by a military officer ;—keeping up all the time a running commentary of pure love and exalted passion for a young lady of rank in England. This, it must be confessed, if not very much in the style of a sailor, is very characteristic of a marine imagination: every woman is an angel, and land the heaven whereon they dwell—the sea, a convenient place to dream of beauty and of conquest. Fighting has been rather scarce of late in the Navy ; and as the author- is evidently not much if at all older than his hero, the only event of the kind within his period of ser- vice is the " untoward" one at Navarino,—of which we have a full and true description. Storms, gales of wind, squalls, hurri- canes, and the routine of the elements, fill up the interstices be- tween turbulent passions ashore and all sorts of meannesses aboard. The author is not without a talent for dramatic dialogue, or for the exhibition of character: and he completely makes out his case of tyranny, caprice, and oppression, in the government of the Mids and others ; but he is very much mistaken in thinking that all his scribble is worth printing—some judicious friend should have given him a lesson in taste, by cutting out half his manuscript, and desiring him to fill up the vacuum withless extravagance and none of his vulgar intrigues. The notes, which close the third volume, are extremely judi- cious ; and we hope that they may attract general attention. They relate to reforms demanded in the Navy, for the efficiency of the service, and with a view to the abolition of the present detestable system of slavery, which makes some ships less desirable places of abode than the hottest of all supposable kingdoms. The first point this naval reformer touches on is the unneces- sarily early age at which midshipmen are sent to sea, and the consequent ignorance of the grown officers. The next is a plan for the officers all to mess together, said to have been suggested by his present Majesty. The third relates to the regulation which denies all promotion to the master, though his duty is the most arduous and responsible in the ship. In the notes, he touches but lightly on the corruptness of promotion ; it is a fact, however, which in its spirit pervades the book, and excites many an indig- nant exclamation and sarcastic allusion. He closes his remarks with a very judicious plan for a new arrangement in the order of succession and promotion of officers. We are glad to see that he, and, we believe, the bulk of the Navy, look to the passing of THE BILL and the destruction of Boroughmongery as the signal for the better government of all our institutions. We are told that the Re- form Bill will not do this and that : it is true—it will only reform the Parliament—the Reformed Parliament, and not the Reform Bill, is to answer the complaints of the country, as far as can be done by a body of enlightened and disinterested men. Meanwhile, all they who are cognizant of abuses, do right to bring them forward now, in novel, essay, poem, or pamphlet ; it is a store for the future, and a preparation of the public mind for the changes that must be made.

We should be doing injustice to the mercurial author of Caven- dish, and be but ungrateful for the publication of his sensible opi- nions on the subject of his profession, if we did not show the quality of his novel by a specimen. There are many passages which would tell as well in an extract as in the work—which, to speak the truth, hangs as loosely together as if the ship-sailmaker had tacked its various scenes.

The following scene may be entitled " a man overboard :" it is an eventful little history, powerfully drawn up.

" Suddenly our conversation was interrupted by a heavy splash, and a cry of a man overboard !" Down with the buoy, and pipe the second% cutter away,' cried the captain, springing to execute the first order him- self. In an instant four-fifths of the ship's company were on deck, and while D'Aquilar conducted the ladies to their cabin, I jumped into the cutter to pick up the drowning man. No time was lost in getting out our oars, and WC pulled in the direction of the buoy whose port-fire was. blazing in a beautiful manner, reflected by the waves around; and as its vivid glare fell on each succeeding sea, we thought we could perceive the object of our search clinging to it for support. " Before the boat could be lowered, and the ship hove-to, a space of at least ten minutes had elapsed,—consequently the buoy was nearly a mile distant ; allowing a second space of that length to join it, the seaman would only then have been twenty minutes in the water. On coming up with it, the light was fast expiring ; and not seeing the sailor, we gave utterance to his name in tones sufficiently loud for him to hear if he were at hand. No answer was returned. While one of the boat's crew took in. the safety-apparatus, I imagined I heard a cry farther down to leeward. Give way, my boys, I think I hear him, on the larboard bow there.' " ' Hark, Sir,' the captain is bailing. Mr. Cavendish,' came faintly over the waters, for we had gradually drifted within hail of the ship. Sir !" Have you been able to pick him up ?" No, Sir.' We think_ you have got too far down to leeward there; cannot you hear somebody on your starboard bow ? give way in that direction.' Ay, ay, Sir,' I replied, and we immediately commenced rowing in the direction desired.. ' There,' said the captain, again hailing, that is near the spot.' In vain, as we rested on our oars, did we listen to catch the faintest. sound, while the utmost exertions of our eyesight could discern nothing more than the swelling waters. Hark!' exclaimed every one in the boat at the same moment. ' The cry that came from yonder was neither fish nor fowl, or my name's never Jack Rye,' said the coxswain. Up with your helm, then, my man, and let us make for it' Accordingly we rowed as fast as possible towards the quarter alluded to. On reaching it,. we could, however, discern nothing; and, making the men toss up their oars, and keep strict silence, we again listened. Mournfully the wind

passed over the rising billows in a sudden gust, turning its dark-blue ridge into fiery foam, as we floated over its crest, and then sinking down into the trough, left us becalmed; when, dying away, you heard—the sullen drip, drip, from the oars, as each drop fell scattering over the sur- face, like shooting stars, the phosphorescent globules, and mingling once more with the mass of waters, gloomily rolling on in their dark, un-

fatho med, boundless bed. Once as the wind mournfully sung over the

upraised blades of the oars, our fancy coined the low murmur into a human cry ; slowly it died away. A lonesome night this—There- there it is again,' was reechoed. by all. " Rye,' said I, your voice is the strongest. Stand on one of the seats and hail him by name.' Accordingly at the topmost pitch of his. voice the coxswain called three successive times; but the silence of the grave truly seemed to have closed upon him who should have answered, and no reply could be distinguished. " Poor fellow, it must be all over with him ! we had better steer to the ship.' No, stay. Listen, listen I was that the cry once more ?'

" I think it was,' said the coxswain.

" ' So do I,' said another.

" I did'nt hear it,' said a third.

" ' Nor I,' said the stroke oar.

" I thought in the voice of the last speaker I could discover the tremb- lings of fear; and having heard how superstitious seamen sometimes are,. I determined not to let any nonsense of the kind weigh with me, if by any possibility I could save the life of an unfortunate fellow-creature. " Come, my fine fellows, give way once more, and I hope this time our search may be successful' " You're not going to cruise any more in this lone manner, are ye, Sir ?'

" And why not, Sir ? You are not afraid of the Flying Dutchman,. are you?'

" ' Ah, Sir, it's all very well to laugh at that you han't a seen, I. have—'

" Pooh, nonsense, hold your tongue. Round with her head, coxswain. I shall not return to the ship till we have been down to the quarter from whence those cries proceeded. What folly it would be if we were fright- ened away from a drowning man, because he wishes us to hear him

" Sullenly they applied themselves to the oars ; it was evident all were affected by the cheerless scene ; but I conceived this to be my line of duty, and was resolved not to flinch. Here he is at last,' I ejaculated in joyfuL surprise, grasping at some object that came floating by. But directly that my hand reached it, the want of weight convinced me I was again. unhappily in the wrong ; for it .proved, on being lifted into the boat, to be nothing more than his painted straw hat. Inside it was stuffed a neckerchief, and between that and the crown an old worn letter.

" We had scarcely turned out these contents, when a noise in the water close astern attracted our attention. Well then, this is he at any rate,' seeing what I imagined to be a human head coming towards me. ' Cheer up, my brave fellow,' said I. Hold him out two oars to grasp, before. getting into the boat;' and I seized one for that purpose myself. Gradu- ally the motion of swimming ceased ; for we could perceive the long dark body in the phosphorescent light. My oar had, however, no sooner touched the water than, instead of seeing the man stretch out his hand, as I expected, the head disappeared; and at a distance of six feet the water was dashed upon us in one large sheet, while rays of fire seemed. darting in every direction over the ocean, concentrating into a focus round our boat, which received a tremendous shock on the keel, as if from some body gliding beneath. " For the space of two minutes not a word was uttered; we sank on our seats like figures turned to stone by the tremendous power of some

voltaic battery. The livid countenances, the distended eye-balls, de- noting the intense horror which prevailed on each,—the wildly desolate scene around us, acting on feelings already overstrung, proved too much for our presence of mind.

" His fate at least is sealed 1 What was that, Rye ?' " What, Sir ! why a shark ; and that head, as you thought it, was his fin. There, now, I would'nt a held the oar as you did to that ere devil,. in the shape of a fish, no, not for three years' pay, ay, nor the money of three galloons into the bargain. " ' I say, there, Master Rye, not so bold if you please with that ere gentleman's name. There's never no good comes of talking of him, in that ere scofligate manner. 'Walls have ears, and why not waves ? If it hadn't been done a' ready, we should a' been trumped in this way. See, there's a pretty squall brewing'

" ' Silence, Sir, instantly silence. If I thought there were yet any chance of saving the man, you should row here till to-morrow morning in spite of all the infernal habitants that Satan numbers'

" Ah, Sir, you are but a very young sailor,' returned he at the stroke oar. ' We must row here till morning, whether or no, I'm thinking ; if Dairy Jones does'nt take us before, for I can't see no ship whatsomever: " Alarmed at this, I jumped up, and cast my glance all round the hori- zon; but in vain I A chill dread feeling of horror struck to my heart, as the possibility of our having lost the frigate became evident. Every one employed his eyesight to the same purpose ; but not the slightest line like a mast, nor the barest glimpse of aught like a sail, could be seen in relief against the dark sky.

" Now then, who is it as laughs at the Flying Dutchman ?' said the stroke oar with a malicious, chuckling growl. ' That shark, too, you may think he's gone. No, no, he's an old un, knows better than that; there —there he swims' " I looked involuntarily; and each muscle crept as I beheld the fin pro- jecting from the surface, and the train of liquid fire that seemed to fol- low him. That such a thing should be my sepulchre ! The wind had al- most died away; a fitful moan was all that we occasionally heard ; the sea appeared to have sunk to rest, and ' slumbered like an unweaned child.' I gazed on all around, then asked myself if life was really past. Hope an- swered, scarcely yet;' foreboding said, for ever !'

" Rousing myself from this state of torpor, I turned to the last speaker, who was noted for being an insolent fellow, and known under the deno- mination of a sea-lawyer.

• " I consider your language, Fleming, as mutinous; and if I hear you speak ten •words more, you shall be reported to Captain Sawyer, imme- diately on our arriving on board the Niobe' "'Ah, there'm little fear of—' he was proceeding to speak, notwith- standing my order of silence, in an insolent tone with a raised voice, when a flash was seen on the distant horizon, and the report of a gun was heard.

" There she is,' joyfully burst forth from every lip : the truth of which exclamation was farther confirmed, by seeing a sky-rocket mount up to the heavens, and then the intense glare of a blue light. Instantly cow- ering, Fleming sunk into hithself : and one or two others, who seemed in- dined to follow his example, now laughed at their former fear, while I admonished the sea-lawyer, that if he spoke another sentence before we arrived on board, he should be prepared to take the consequences.

" After pulling for half an hour in the direction of the light, we ob- served a second ascend astern, and shortly afterwards a third, a fourth, and fifth—and whichever route we took, the last light always appeared to come from the quarter which we were leaving. The natural superstition of the seamen at last got such hold of them, that they laid on their oars, and refused to pull any longer ; having been set the example by the stroke oar—Fleming.

" In this dilemma, knowing that silence could only breed a further mutiny, I had recourse to artifice, and made Rye spin them a yarn,' to divert their thoughts. Accordingly, his story having been as long and as droll as sailors' yarns' generally are, had restored their spirits, and by drawing their thoughts into a merrier mond, and occupying their atten- tion for a long time, had fully prepared them for falling asleep, which they were about to do, when we were startled by a tremendous rushing noise astern, like the distant roar of a cataract. Looking to windward, we beheld the surface of the water one sheet of foam, torn and ploughed by the tempestuous hurricane passing over it. All beside was silence. " Having directed them to hoist the sail a little, to give us head-way, and lower it immediately upon our being overtaken, we hounded Forward like an Arab steed over its own wild waste, when just set free from impri- sonment.

" Now, my men, lower the sail, quick l' and before the order was obeyed, we seemed lost in vapour ; the water flew on every side in one continuous mist, boiling and bubbling around us. The phosphorescent surface of the sea appeared a lake of fire, while the heavens above formed a dark, impenetrable pall. Each succeeding moment the mind felt sur- prised that its associate the body was still breathing. Speaking was out of the question ; you could not even see, through the mist of scattered water, the face of him who was sitting opposite. Momentarily did I ex- pect to see the boat fill ; while, as it was, the briny element, by conti- nually pouring in, had mounted half-way to our knees. Still on we went, skimming over the crest of each succeeding wave with almost unearthly rapidity. Ten minutes did this dreadful suspense last, when the floodgates of heaven seemed to open, and torrents were showered upon us. Instantly, as if by magic, the hurricane was hushed. A dark, dense cloud dissolved, and the lustrous moon poured forth a stream of light, changing the scene of chaos to one of startling grandeur. "The men, haggard from fear, and pallid from fatigue, looked first at me, then at the refulgent spot in the o'ercast firmament ; and knees that never yet had bowed, now involuntarily proffered homage at the throne of God. I shall never forget the scene. The quivering lips, that seemed to say, Why are we saved ?'—the bewildered, abashed glance, that spoke, We have no thanks that are worth the offering;' with all the wild thrill of joy at being thus awakened from the grave—it may be felt, but never told.

"Having recommended my men to bale out the boat, huddle them- selves together, make an awning of the sail, and go to sleep if possible, I dropped, my head on Rye's shoulder, and soon set them the example. I had been dozing for two hours, when my dreams placed me on the edge of a tremendous precipice. Nothing was to be seen but the ocean lying far beneath. Suddenly 1 fancied that two men were coming behind to push me off, I could neither escape nor turn to look. I was yet in this agony of suspense, when the Niobe appeared ; and, overjoyed to behold her once more, I gradually awoke. I did not, however, move from my sleeping position, nor open my eyes; but I heard Fleming, whose con- duct had been the most rebellious, say to another, ' Yes, Tom, you'll catch as bail as I shall, if we ever reach the ship' Here a dispute was carried on in a low murmur, when I heard the second voice say, I won't help—you do as you like.' Slightly unclosing my eyes, I beheld Fleming open his clasp knife, and, rising, stealthily approach nearer to me. Had I started up I must • have received a wound before Rye could spring to my assistance. HI remained inactive, I should soon be put out of the way. While yet debating with the agony of death before my eyes, a flash broke through the grey light of morning, and a loud report came bellowing overthe ocean. It was indeed the Niobe ; her masts, with.a little canvas spread, were distinctly visible on the horizon. The knife had fallen'from the.villain's bead ; instantly I had them bound, and in two hours and a half we arrived alongside."