« ForrigeFortsett »
No sooner had I landed than I engaged a shore boat, and having provided myself with a letter of introduction to Commodore Stevens, I went on board the “ America." Nothing could exceed the courtesy I met with; and no vessel that ever yet appeared in our waters could surpass her in comfort or cleanliness. Upon her appearance and sailing qualities I must dwell a little more at length. Lord Maidstone, in his truly talented and spirited poem of Abd-el-Rader, seems to have had a prescient view of the far-famed schooner, for he thus writes—
" O'er Benins uphallowed waters,
Lightly skims the demon bark;
Steady in her wake, the shark-
Miracle of builder's art." The lines, too, that follow are not inappropriate to many a vessel who tried to compete with the clipper
“ What is this comes drifting slowly
In the fairy schooner's wake,
Struggling hard for vile existence ?" To leave, however, the poetical strain and descend to humble prose, we must remark that few of the accounts of the “ America " that have appeared in our newspapers give so accurate a description of this wonder of the world as the one contained in the New York Herald, which appeared on the day of her departure from that city. It will be read with interest.
“ THE NEW YACHT AMERICA.' "THE DEPARTURE FOR LONDON.--TUE TRIAL OF SPEED BETWEEN ENGLISH AND AMERICAN YACHTS.
“ New York, June 21st, 1851. “This superior piece of naval architecture takes her departure from this port at 7 o'clock, to test her sailing qualities with the choice yachts of Great Britain, and, we believe, with those of any other European country who may think fit to place themselves by her side in a sailing match. As the result will be watched with much lively interest on both sides of the Atlantic, it being a trial for the superiority in the sailing powers, beauty of model, and symmetry of construction, between the vessels of England and the United States, a description of the 'Amerca' cannot be otherwise than interesting to our readers both here and in
“ She is 95 feet on deck, from stem to stern ; 80 feet keel ; 23 feet amidships; and her measurement 180 tons. She draws 11 feet of water in sailing trim. Her spars are respectively 797 and 81 feet long, with 27 inches rake to the foot. Her main gaff is 26 feet long, and main boom 58 fect. She carries a lugg foresail, with fore-gaff 24 feet long. Length of bowsprit, 32 feet. The frame is composed of five different species of wood, namely, white oak, locust wood, cedar, chestnut, and hackmatack; and is supported by diagonal iron braces, equidistant from each other 4 feet. From stem to midships the curve is scarcely perceptible, her gunwales being nearly straight lines, and forming with each other an angle of about 25 degrees. The cutwater is a prolongation of the vessel herself, there being no addition of false wood, as is usual in most of the sharpest bowed crafts of similar description. Her after-cabin is a spacious and elegantly fitted up apartment, 21 feet by 18 feet in the clear, on each side of which are six neat lockers and china rooms : it contains six commodious berths. Joining this cabin are two large state-rooms, eight feet square, with ward rooms, &c., attached. Between these and the fore-cabin there are two other state rooms, joining which are a washroom and pantry, each 8 fcet square. The fore-cabin is ventilated by a circular sky-light of about 12 feet circumference ; and it contains fifteen berthy. Directly
under the cockpit, which is 30 feet in circumference, and which forms the entrance to the after-cabin, there is a tastefully fitted up bath-room on the starboard side, and opposite, on the larboard side, a large clothes room. Further aft, under the cockpit, is the sail room. She has a plain raking stern, adorned with a large gilt eagle, resting upon two folded white banners, garnished with beautifully carved flowers of green colour. Her sides are planked with white oak, 3 inches thick ; the deck with yellow pine, 21 inches thick: three streaks of the clamps are of yellow pine, 3 inches thick: the deck beams are also of yellow pine. All the combings are of the finest description of mahogany. The rails, which are comcomposed of white oak, are 14 inches high, 6 inches wide, and 3 inches thick. She is copper-fastened throughout, and copper-sheathed from the keel to 6 inches above the water line, making 114 feet in all. Her sides are painted of a uniform lead colour, and her inside pure white. There is an open gangway extending through the whole length, from the extreme points of the after and fore cabins.
" It is impossible for the pen of the most graphic describer to convey anything like an accurate conception of the beauty and perfection of the America.' She can only be seen to advantage when viewed at a distance, from different points, by the natural and living eye. Under such circumstances only can her symmetrical and swan-like model be appreciated. She will proceed to Havre, France, where she will remain for a few days for the purpose of getting her sides painted black and every part of her fitted up in the most splendid style. Thence she will proceed to Cowes, where she is also to remain some days before exhibiting herself in the Thames. Mr. George Steers, the modeller and builder of the America, takes passage in her to London, for the main purpose of being able to judge, by practical observation, where rests the material difference between the model and construction of English and American built yachts; and also to see which nation will win the palm of superiority in point of sailing qualities. Whether the America' shall come off victorious is yet a problem; but be the result as it may, she cannot but be an object of deep interest and admiration on the other side of the water; and the elegant appearance which she will make in gliding up the Thames to meet her competitors must call forth applause on Mr. Steers, her builder and fashioner.
“She carries eight men before the mast, besides the captain, Mr. Richard Brown, first and second mate, and carpenter. Her cabin and state rooms will be fitted up in a style that the people of Europe cannot but admire; and her accommodations are sufficiently ample to entertain a large company. The cost of the America, when all completed, will be 20,000 dollars."
Never was there a truer remark than the above one, namely, that this vessel would be the object of deep interest and admiration on this side of the water. The “ America” was the admiration of all who saw her; and the extreme courtesy of the gentlemen on board her, Commodore Stevens, his brother, and Colonel Hamilton, was deeply felt and duly appreciated by the numbers who visited the vessel. All an Englishman requires is a “clear stage and no favour,” and when he is beat he will fairly admit it. “John Bull” bore brother Jonathan's “flogging" with great good-humour : it gave rise to many a "skit,” and among others to a ballad of the Catnach school, an admirable parody on the lyric style of the poet laureate to Messrs. Rowland, Moses, Warren and Co., and which was distributed for private circulation. It contains so faithful an account of the proceedings at Cowes, that we cannot refrain from giving those parts that more essentially bear upon the subject of the “ America." The air is “ Yankee Doodle," and thus commences
“ The 'Merica to England came,
And caused great consternation;
By flogging all the nation.
At Cowes the gallant skipper
To sail his rakish clipper."
The song then proceeds to describe the startling effect produced upon the noble and popular Commodore, and his despair in thinking
«« Zarifa,' once the crack,
Should have her fair fame blasted.” It then delicately hints at the distress of the Vice-Commodore at being unable to take the “ America ” by the “ horn,” or rather “ Capricorn.” Allusion is subsequently made to the “alarm” created among the Royal Yacht Squadron
“ The' Arrow' quivered—Dauntless' quailed,
The Stormfinch' feared foul weather,
The' Eagle' showed' white feather."" The gallant Captain Claxton of the Royal Navy is then introduced as one who in “ Menai Straits, or rather, in many a straight,” has “by safety-valve,” escaped danger, and who, albeit " he has served and saved Great Britain's wrecks," written “ Rex,” must now yield the palm to the model republic. The challenge from that clever and spirited engineer, the owner of the Titania iron schooner, one of the handsomest and best built “ crafts ” on the waters, is thus graphically given
“ Titania, then, that playful elf,
The queen of all the fairies,
And stop his wild vagaries.'
I hear you've got a notion,
As mistress of the ocean.
'Twill be my consolation,
'Gainst all the British nation.'» The playful and ironical raillery of the above stanza to the Colossus of Roads-railroads-contrasts happily with the more serious peroration:
“But should Columbia's stars so bright,
So justly famed in story,
Hey, the Yankee skipper ;
O! is not she a clipper ?”'
(To be continued.)
That noble animal, the horse, has been justly appreciated in all countries and in all ages. Among the ancients, the horse was chiefly valuable on the field of battle. Homer bas several striking passages in allusion to the war charger. Thus, in Book the 17th of the Iliad, after the death of Achilles, the bard says :
“ Meantime, at distance from the scene of blood,
The pensive steeds of great Achilles stood;
And prone to earth was hung their languid head." The very posture in which the horses are described, their heads bowed down, and their manes falling in the dust, give us an exemplification of the warlike steeds as they existed in the ancient times of Greece and Troy. The idea of horses weeping is countenanced both by naturalists and historians. Aristotle and Pliny write that these animals often deplore their masters lost in battle, and even shed tears for them. Suetonius tells us that several horses, which at the passage of the Rubicon had been consecrated to Mars, were observed for some days after to abstain from feeding, and to weep abundantly. The attitude and expression of the horse in leaning over his fallen master, in the sculpture department of the late Great Exhibition, would seem to have been suggested by the foregoing passage from Homer.
Every lover of poetry will bear in mind the noble stanza of Campbell, in his poem of Hoelinden
“By torch and trumpet fast arrayed,
Each horseman drew his battle blade,
To join the dreadful revelry." It is not until comparatively modern times that horses have been trained to beneficial uses-only for those of deadly conflict. They are now & luxury which only the rich can afford ; for a pair of first-rate carriagehorses can only be procured by men of affluence. But then how beautifully plump and sleek they look !
After these preliminary remarks we proceed to the business of 1851, which is now fast drawing to a close ; and within one little month from the time of this little article being indited, its departing knell will have solemnized its doom. A retrospective glance at the doings on the greensward during the said year of grace will suffice to convince any impartial observer that it has been more rife with wrong doings and rascalities than any season that has preceded it for the last twenty years ; and these malpractices are now perpetrated with such barefaced effrontery that they become readable to the most ordinary capacity connected with the turf. The Captain Armstrong system has arrived at such a pitch, that another year of it will, if I mistake not, go nigh to undermine, if not totally to destroy, the whole fabric of our racing system ; for it will become so synonymous with swindling, that our boasted national pastimes will be only a byeword and a disgrace in the mouths of all who take an interest in turf proceedings. The time was, when, on the approach of any great race, you would not have heard more than the following two questions asked, viz. :-" Is your horse well ?” and “ Who will steer him ?” for having carefully noted down his public performances, by putting this and that together, you are then enabled to form some opinion of his chance in the common contest. But no ; "the light of other days has faded ;" and in place of the two questions alluded to, the following are in everybody's mouth, both in the ring and out of it, before they proceed to back a horse, viz. :
" Will he run on his merits ?”
Strange as it may appear, these are every-day questions asked and answered by almost every speculator who invests his money, from half-a-crown to a monkey. With what derison must foreigners view this system of plunder, under the pretence of carrying out the practice of what is generally denominated one of our principal national pastimes !
How base and degrading are these practices to the British turf! and how demoralizing to our common nature that so noble an animal as the race-horse should be bred and trained (with very few exceptions) for the sole purpose of being instrumental in amassing wealth by the most despicable practices !
But the end must come," and come it will for a' that ;" for no system can last long which is based upon so frail a foundation, and which is propped up on all sides by every artifice that swindling can devise. Better that racing were done away with at once, than be conducted on such principles as these.
It is to be hoped that the New Jockey Club will see the necessity of a complete revision of their rules, and of enacting a more stringent code of laws, as the exigency of the case demands, and such as may be the means of checking, if not of totally suppressing, the evils of which there are so many justifiable complaints. No one can understand the nature