27 MAY 1905, Page 22

The Old Shipmasters of Salem. By Charles E. Trow. (G.

P. Putnam's Sons. 10s. 6d. net.)—The Salem of the present is very much like Rye, a shadow of its former self. Its golden age lasted for not quite thirty years, 1781-1808. In the closing years of this period the customs collected at the port averaged an annual quarter of a million. The merchants who carried on the trade of the port, now almost entirely a coasting business, and the captains who managed their ventures, were, as one might expect, a remarkable race. They furnish an interesting and picturesque subject to Mr. Trow's pen, and he has not failed to do justice to it. There are all kinds of stories in it, humorous and tragic. So we hear of the mate who, seeing that he figured in the log— and not undeservedly—as "drunk all day," retaliated by the entry, "Captain sober all day." The captain, it should be said was an abstainer. Then there is a ghost story. A sailor wail hanged for killing a companion in a drunken fit. The only witness was a boy, who gave his evidence most unwillingly. As the man went to his death—he was hanged from the yard-arm- he said to the boy : "You have sworn my life away, and I will never leave you as long as you live !" and the witness was never alone afterwards without seeing him. The man, it seems, had entirely forgotten the deed, and believed that he was innocent. The book is furnished with interesting illustrations and portraits of merchants, seafaring men, and the ships which they com- manded.