« ПредишнаНапред »
ful madrigals.' With Rawlins, he would talk of cards, and the rules of Hoyle. With Ford, of fine horses. With M -, of the code d'honneur ; and could extinguish the incredible stories of Longbow F-, with stories still more incredible. The grandeur of Old Virginia, the nobility of birth, the pride of profession, were his subjects with Tudor; and when he could get him to relate, with all important gravity, the whole intricate story of his genealogy, his satisfaction was complete.
In Spotswood's wit, however, there was nothing malicious, nor in his heart. His was a spirit overflowing with mirth; and with an uncontrollable propensity to mischief, he combined the most generous feelings of our nature. He would freely risk his own life to save that of a friend, and perhaps the next moment chalk a blazing star upon his back. He once had the temerity to smut a fearful looking moustache upon the lip of our grave cater, when asleep. When he came on deck, at the customary call to quarters, he saw all eyes directed to him, and heard the suppressed titlers of the men, with mute surprise. He looked his sternest to check what he deemed such illtimed levity; which made him appear still more ridiculous, and a subdued laugh, to his horror and astonishment, was heard along his whole division. Tudor thought his men all drunk, and after bestowing upon them various harsh epithets, he strode, with indignant steps, to the
quarter-deck, to report the fact. As he passed the other divisions, officers and men were in a broad grin. With a lofty air, he saluted the captain, and began making his report of the shocking breach of discipline, but was interrupted with a very undignified roar of laughter from the captain, who had striven in vain to preserve his gravity, which of course, much to the scandal of discipline, was reechoed by the men. Tudor stood a moment, staring with blackest amazement. An explanation ensụed, and, boiling with rage, he returned to his quarters, endeavoring to efface his sable ornament with his handkerchief, but, in his embarrassment, curiously diversifying his expressive countenance with a variety of streaks and blotches. As soon as · Retreat,' he rushed down below to hide his confusion, and meditate vengeance. He knew to whom he was indebted for his shadowy moustache, and to be made ridiculous before the captain, and the whole ship's company, was not to be forgiven. A challenge ensued. They went out, and after two shots, both of which Spotswood, in his reckless generosity, fired into the air, Tudor consented to a settlement. The unfortunate issue of this practical joke did not, however, deter the former from making himself as merry with the cater, as with every one else.
Then there was R- -, remarkable principally for his incurable passion for gambling. He left the service a ruined man.
And F, from Virginia, whose passion of passions was a love for fine horses. He was deeply read in all the records of the turf. The jockey club book, the sporting calendar, were the only books he thought worth the mind's employment. He knew the pedigree of every celebrated courser since the time of the Godolphin Arabian. He was out of his element on ship-board. His true place was the paddock, or the stable. He would have made a capital jockey, if by any possibility he could have steamed himself down to weight. He was marvellously fat.
And there was N! What a sad fate was his ! Poor fellow ! His mind was essentially sad and melancholy; soft as a summer's eve - dreamy, poetical. His dearest pleasure was to pass hours alone, in idle reverie, spinning out the fine, misty webs of fancy, and revelling in an imaginary world. Far too sensitive, gentle, and indolent, for the stirring profession of a naval officer, his somewhat rude and turbulent messmates loved him for his almost feminine softness, although they pitied, and perhaps scorned, his incapacity, and want of active energy. He was the most amiable of men, but a mere dreamer, and ill-calculated to struggle with this rough, workday world ; and a few years afterward, he resigned the life that he felt was without usefulness, and without respect.
But avast! I am paying out a little too fast. Let us take a turn, and belay. Many other well known shapes rise to my vision, and more and better anecdotes of my old friends spring to memory, as I write. But what careth my readers for these poor middies, or the gossip and jokes of a place so humble as a steerage ? Like the baffled Scot, I'll see no more' - or be they mine in private.
Yet one more shade I would call a moment from the tomb; first, because he was my most endeared and intimate friend, and a better specimen of the young naval officer than any I have yet named, whom I selected principally because they were so much unlike the generality of midshipmen; and secondly, that I have a longer and not uninteresting story to relate of him, in the adventures of which I participated; and which may perhaps indemnify the patient reader or condescending to follow me thus far in my somewhat tiresome steerage sketches.
Meadows was about twenty-one or twenty-two years of age, with a light, active form, and singularly handsome. A fine commanding brow, over which clustered a profusion of dark locks, large, intelligent gray eyes, and firm, finely-chiselled lips and chin, gave great spirit and expression to his naturally pale countenance. He was much older to the service than myself. The four or five years he had passed on ship-board had matured his character, and developed his extraordinary energies; and when I first saw him, I thought him the very beau ideal of a young naval officer. His various accomplishments, his warm heart, and gay vivacity, made him popular in the steerage, while his spirit and decision, and ambitious attention to duty, made him a most efficient deck officer. He was the idol of the crew. Under his direction, they seemed capable of performing more than under those of other officers. To use their own, not very polite, but I doubt not, sincere, expression, they would have gone through h – 11 with him.'
With all his fine qualities, Meadows became, in after life, fatally given to strong waters, that bane of many a fine fellow, both in the navy and out of it. But at this time, his dissipation was only occasional, and seemed merely the natural excesses of an active mind, fond of society, and seeking stimulus and exercise in convivial enjoyment. Pleasure, perhaps, first sapped the foundation of his virtues, but a long series of injuries :
'From mighty wrong to petty perfidy,'
afterward pursued him, and led to their final overthrow. The bottle became at last his only but fatal resource.
Poor Meadows ! — his ruin - 't is a sad tale, and 'a sad tale is best for winter;' therefore, in the merry spring time, we 'll none of it. Yet this that I am about to relate, is none of the merriest. Perhaps the ladies will pronounce it even dull, for it has no ' love,' although murder' enough ; and it is said the sex do not object to a sprinkling of the latter ingredient, provided a tale is spiced with the former, to their taste. However, my story is of Meadows, and he, noble fellow! was a man well worth a lady's eye; so I may be pardoned, for his sake.
Smyrna is an odd city. Like Constantinople, nothing can be finer than its natural situation nothing more wretched than its internal appearance. Nestling at the foot of a lofty hill, at the very extremity of a deep, noble bay, its situation is as fair to the eye, as convenient for all the purposes of commerce. Islands or islets, that seem, in their perennial verdure, almost like droppings from paradise, speckle the broad entrance into this most beautiful of bays, and lofty, picturesque hills slope in gentle undulations down to the very margin of the emerald waters. Ancient forts, villages, villas, groves, and gardens, variegate the smiling prospect; and over the densely-built city, looming darkly into the pure blue of the Asiatic sky, are the massive towers and hoary walls of the now desolate fortress of the Knights of St. John — the last strong hold of Christianity on this Paynim land.
Within the city, the doctrine of chance almost seems to be verified. The houses appear to have been rained from heaven, and sticking where they fell, to have accidentally formed the strange involutions of streets, alleys, blind courts, etc., that render an excursion through the town, to a stranger, somewhat of a comedy of errors.' It would be almost as easy to discover the north-west passage, as to find one's way, undirected, out of the perplexing labyrinth of Smyrna. The streets, if such strange tortuosities may be thus dignified, are so narrow that a horseman or camel (there are no wheeled vehicles) occupies the whole breadth, to the infinite annoyance of the pedestrian; and if the occasional caravan of desert ships,' slowly winding through the town, one camel following the other, happens to make a halt perhaps while the devout drivers perform their prostrations at the call of the Muezzin, or sip their mocha and puff their pipes before one of the numerous kafénas — there is formed as fine a street barricade as a Parisian sans culotte would desire. No way is left for the foot-passer but to climb over the backs of the patient animals, that, following the example of their not more sagacious masters, have settled themselves quietly on the ground.
The multifarious population of Smyrna inhabit distinct parts of the city. The largest proportion, of course, are the followers of the prophet. • Turk-town' is said to contain one hundred thousand inhabitants. Most of the bazaars, the baths, mosques, Pacha's palace, etc., are in this quarter. Formerly it was dangerous for a Christian to penetrate within its Moslem precincts; now the Frank may explore its narrow streets, if he has philosophy enough to forgive a chance stone or so, thrown by some unlucky anti-Christian little urchin, who may have sucked with his milk the hereditary antipathies of his parents, without yet having learned their newly-acquired toleration of the Christian dogs.'
Jew-town' is remarkable for nothing but its dogs and dirt. It would be considered the filthiest spot under the sun, if "Greektown' was not there to out-do it.
'Frank-town' skirts the harbor. Here, of course, the merchants most do congregate.' But, with the exception of the consular residences, houses of European merchants, etc., a viler conglomeration of wretched buildings, inhabited by a more degraded class of human beings, could not be found in the wide world. The vicious purlieus of our large cities are pure and comfortable, in comparison.
The Turks, who, in their way, are a moral people, with very orthodox notions of propriety, do not tolerate among themselves any of those open places of profligacy, which, to the shame of christendom, are found all over Europe, as well as in our own country. But Frank-town, to the Turks, is almost a foreign city. Few ever enter it; and the Government, in their extreme toleration toward the Christian population, never interfere with any of the interior arrangements of Frank-town, except when called in to suppress an occasional tumult, or to punish the not unfrequent bloodshed and murders that take place within its detested quarters. From the great commerce of Smyrna, Frank-town swarms with adventurers from all parts of the world ; the very scum of christendom, living in the practice of every vice, degraded and desperate. The stranger sickens with disgust, even if he does not tremble with fear, when necessity or scarce excusable curiosity, leads him among those dens of iniquity.
To this region of damnéd souls,' Meadows and myself were one day sent, on the dangerous and disagreeable duty of hunting for a deserter. Armed only with our dirks, but with resolute spirits, we penetrated into every cell of infamy that is found in the hives of Frank-town. It would spin out my records to too great length, were I to recount the extraordinary adventures, and more extraordinary people, we met with in our pererration. But I, young to the world, ignorant of foreign parts, equally so of the vast varieties of the human race, and of their pursuits, passions, and propensities, saw sights,heard sounds, and witnessed actions, that unassisted imagination never could have conceived, but which made an impression as odious as lasting. Of these I shall speak hereafter.
O THOU that bidd'st the brightest close
Their intellectual eye,
Like hooded falcons fly ;
Whence tears and blood career ?
But every thing to fear!
And, pure one! when to wo or mirth
Nero-York, April, 1838.
The watching stars, the bright ascending moon,
The sunset dying on the western hills,
The murmuring wind, whose witching language fills
The cloud-wrapt tempest on the mountain's brow,
'Mid hoary rocks, and oaks, and cedars rent,
The mystery, and the magic of that light
These are the things which plume yoụng Fancy's flight,
H. W. R.