Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Simms Review (Vol 1: No 1) >> Simms on Melville in the Southern Quarterly Review >> Page 34

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Reviews/Essays | 1849-10 - 1852-10
Transcription cases where they enemies' meal times were reasonable, which is only
to be accounted for by the fact that the people of the beaten vessels
Were fighting on an empty stomach instead of a full one.
Our author complains that the sailors on board a than-of-war are
not permitted to sing, as in merchant vessels, while pulling ropes or
otherwise occupied. Singing lightens labour.
" Your only music," says he, " at such times, is the shrill pipe of
the boatswain's mate, which is almost worse than no music at all.
And if the boatswain's mate is not by, you must pull the ropes,
like convicts, in profound silence, or else endeavour to impart unity
to the exertions of all h:inlel, by singing out mechanically, one, two,
three, and then pulling all together."

Practice at the guns in a sham fight is also an object of our au-
thor's censure. Hear what he says :
"The summons is given by the ship's drummer, who strikes a
peculiar beat—short, broken, rolling, shuffling—like the sound
made by the march into battle of iron-heeled grenadiers. It is a
regular tune, with a tine song composed to it. The words of the
chorus, being most artistically arranged, may give some idea of the
air:
"' Hearts of oak are our ships, jolly tars are our men,
We always are ready, stencil, bays, steady,
To fight and to conquer, again and again.'" In warm weather this pastime at the gulls is exceedingly un-
pleasant, to say the least, and throws a quiet elan into a violent
passion and perspiration. For one, I ever abominated it.
"I have a heart like Julius Caesar, and, upon occasion, would
fight like Calm Marcius Coriolanus. If my beloved and ever glo-
rious country should be ever in copardy from invaders, let Con-
gress put me on a war-horse, in the van-guard, and then see how I
will acquit myself. But to toil and sweat in a fictitious encounter ;
to squander the precious breath of my precious body in a ridiculous
tight of shams and pretensions ; to hurry about the decks, pretend-
ing to carry the killed and wounded below ; to be told that I must
consider the ship blowing up, in order to exercise myself in presence
of mind, and prepare for a read explosion ; all this I despise, as
beneath a true tar and mall of valour."

A grievance that should be redressed, according to our author,
is one that concerns the sleeping privileges, or want of privilege, of
the seamen.
" In a man-of-war at sea, the sailors have watch and watch ; that
is, through every twenty-four hours, they are on and off duty every
four hours. Now, the hammocks are piped down from the nettings
(tile open glace for stowing them, running round the top of the
bulwarks) a little after sunset., and piped up again when the fore-
noon watch is called, at eight o'clock in the morning ; so that du-
ring the clay-time they are inaccessible as pallets. This would be
all well enough, did the sailors have a complete night's rest ; but
every other night, at sea, one watch have only four hours in their
hammocks. Indeed, deducting the time allowed for the other watch
to turn out, for yourself to arrange your hammock and fairly get
asleep, it inay he said that, every other night, you have but three
hours' sleep in your hammock. Having, then, been on deck for
twice four hours, at eight o'clock in the morning your watch below
comes round, and you are not liable to duty until noun. Under
like circumstances, a merehant seaman goes to his bunk, and has


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