15 MAY 1915, Page 23


THE vivacious author of Sea-Pie went to sea in 1877 as boy- cook on a Grimsby fishing smack. In the course of the next sixteen or seventeen years he obtained a wide experience of life on the old-fashioned sailing ships—or " wind-jammers," as their crews call them with a kind of contemptuous affection

—which steam has now nearly displaced from the ocean. The yarns with which his new book is filled were heard from the lips of many grizzled, wise, but unlettered Ulysses of the sea —" some born to the hard and roving life, others bred into it by preference, and showing generally by act and word that they were fish of other waters and never at ease properly in their present one, 'come-downers ' in whose blood the song of the Avernus highway was ever ringing, natural cut-throats from both up and down the social ladder." The olla podrida which be has made of all these stories, collected "on the high seas in quiet dog-watches lit by a tropic moon, in caravan- sends (eastern and western), by camp fires, in hospital and elsewhere," is called by the even more appropriate name of the famous nautical dish—probably as old as Jason and his Argonauts—for which Mr. Patterson gives the following delectable recipe:—

" The real thing is made by layering the bottom of a big fish- kettle with a well-seasoned mixture composed of small cubes of lean meat of different sorts, onions, vegetables, and peas or beans. This is covered entirely with a slab of paste (the 'deck ') ; another layer follows, then another slab, and so on, to a three-decker ' or ' four-decker,' according to the number of hungry men and boys who await it in impatience. Finally, a hole is made through the middle of the 'decks' and layers for the purpose of supplying each 'deck' with boiling water during the two or three hours of cooking."

Wo need not hesitate to say that Mr. Patterson's book is quite as appetizing as its culinary prototype. His opening chapter gives an insight into the life of the deep-sea fisher- man which is quite the best thing of its kind since Mr. Kipling glorified the Yankee cod-fishers in Captains Courageous. Mr. Patterson well defines the difference between the occupa- tions of land and sea :-

"Life on the bitter North Sea was a hard struggle against adverse elements, such a struggle as only dominant perseverance and the optimism of youth could tackle with success. To the majority of us youngsters, however, and to some grown men whom I met in those years, life on shore was a miserable hand-to-mouth existence from the cradle to the grave—a string of frothings and wearyings, of coughs and hollow cheeks, of petty jealousies and family bickorings. Beyond the Humber there might be chilled limbs and the straining of muscles, discomfort at times and occa- sionally danger; but with those features of life we had freedom from callous competition and largely from the envy of one's fellows. There we got a glow on our cheeks, rude health in our minds and bodies, and had the joyous feeling of a bounding craft under our feet. On land it was a case of lingering sicknesses and slow death ; out there—a speedy severance, if the end came there, then a long, long rest."

At his best Mr. Patterson reminds us strongly of Herman Melville, in whose gallery of portraits the resourceful and

much-enduring "Shivers" would find himself completely at home.