Page images
PDF
EPUB

for as they come such a long way to visit us, and lodge in our houses without fear, we ought to use them kindly.

THE SHIP.

a

[ocr errors]

Charles Osborn, when at home in the holidays, had a visit from a schoolfellow who was just entered as a midshipman on board of a man of war. Tom Hardy (that was his name) was a free-hearted spirited lad, and a favourite among his companions; but he never liked his book, and had left school ignorant of almost every thing he came there to learn. What was worse, he had got a contempt for learning of all kinds, and was fond of showing it. 6 «« What does your father mean,” says he to Charles, “ to keep you moping and studying over things of no use in the world but to plague folks ?- Why

cau't you go into his majesty's service like me, and be made a gentleman of? You are old enough, and I know you are a lad of spirit.” This kind of talk made some impression upon young Osborn. He became less attentive to the lessons his father set him, and less willing to enter into instructive conversation. This change gave his father much concern; but as he knew the cause, he thought it best, instead of employing direct authority, to attempt to give a new impression to his son's mind, which might counteract the effects of his companion's suggestions.

Being acquainted with an East-India captain, who was on the point of sailing, he went with his son to pay him a farewell visit on board his ship. They were

, shown all about the vessel, and viewed all the preparations for so long avoyage. They saw her weigh anchor and unfurl

a

her sails; and they took leave of their friend amid the shouts of the seamen and all the bustle of departure.

Charles was highly delighted with this scene; and as they were returning, could think and talk of nothing else. It was easy therefore for his father to lead him into the following train of discourse.

After Charles had been warmly expressing his admiration of the grand sight of a large ship completely fitted out and getting under sail; I do not wonder (said his father) that you are so much struck with it :-it is, in reality, one of the finest spectacles created by human skill, and the noblest triumph of art over untaught nature.

Near two thousand years ago, when Julius Cæsar came over to this island, he found the natives in possession of no other kind of vessel than a sort of canoe, formed of wicker-work covered with hides, and

a

no bigger than a man or two could carry. But the largest ship in Cæsar's fleet was not more superior to these, than the Indiaman you have been seeing is to what that was. Our savage an.cestors ventured only to paddle along the rivers and coasts, or cross small arms of the sea in calm weather; and Cæsar himself would have been alarmed to be a few days out of sight of land. But the ship we have just left is going by itself to the opposite side of the globe, prepared to encounter the tempestuous winds and mountainous waves of the vast southern ocean, and to find its way to its destined port, though many weeks must pass with nothing in view but sea and sky. Now what do you think can be the cause of this

prodigious difference in the powers of man at one period and another?

Charles was silent.

Is it not (said his father) that there is a great deal more knowledge in one than in the other?

To be sure it is, said Charles.

Father. Would it not, think you, be as impossible for any number of men untaught, by their utmost efforts, to build and navigate such a ship as we have seen, as to fly through the air ?

Charles. I suppose it would.

Fa. That we may be the more sensible of this, let us consider how many arts and professions are necessary for this

purpose. Come-you shall begin to name them, and if you forget any, I will put you in mind. What is the first?

Ch. The ship-carpenter, I think.
Fa. True-What does he do?
Ch. He builds the ship.
Fa. How is that done?

Ch. By fastening the planks and beams together.

« PreviousContinue »