Page images

foot less than that of the City of Rome; and her length two hundred and eighty-nine feet. While her speed was equal to that of her paddle-wheel rivals, her working expenses were relatively less; and the public came in for the benefit in the shape of reduced fares. The Great Britain continued in active service, although not on the Atlantic, long after her wooden contemporaries had been consigned to the breaking-up yard, and quite recently was an object of interest as she lay in the basins at Birkenhead.

disappeared at sea in the winter of 1856; the others did not pay expenses; and Congress finally withdrawing the subsidy which it had granted, the Collins liners in 1858 ceased to run.

For several years longer the American Company kept up a gallant struggle; but misfortune attended it; the Pacific, one of their steamers,

The year 1850 saw another and more successful competitor to the Cunard Company in the City of Glasgow, a vessel of sixteen hundred tons, the pioneer steamship of the now famed 'Inman Line.' This vessel, as were all her successors, was a screwsteamer; and to the superior economy of this system is no doubt largely due the fact that the Inman Line, supported only by private enterprise, prospered during the same years that the Collins Line, backed by a government subsidy and the good-will of a nation, went to the wall. At the close of the year 1860, the fleet of the Inman Company numbered nine vessels, with a collective tonnage of seventeen thousand seven hundred; and the voyage between Queenstown and New York was performed by these in the average time of thirteen days nine hours forty-five minutes out, and eleven days twenty hours twenty-five minutes home. The advantages of Queenstown as a port of call were early recognised by this Company, whose steamers have called there regularly since 1859.

For nearly ten years after the Great Western had led the way across the Atlantic, British-built steamships had a monopoly of the traffic; but in 1847 the Americans bethought themselves of winning honour; and accordingly, after their national style, in June of that year a nativebuilt steamship named the Washington was started to run alongside the Britannia. Any amount of 'tall talk' heralded the event; but in the result the Britannia arrived two clear days before her rival. The lesson was not thrown away on Brother Jonathan: full particulars of the best steamships of the Cunard Company were obtained; larger vessels, with still more powerful engines, were designed and placed on the stocks; and in May 1850, the Arctic, the first steamship of the once famous 'Collins Line,' arrived at Liverpool. Galway, on the western coast of Ireland, This vessel was two hundred and seventy-seven stands at the head of the large and wellfeet long, and two thousand eight hundred and sheltered bay of the same name. Railway comsixty tons; the Asia, the favourite Cunard liner munication was opened to it from Dublin in 1851; of the day, being two hundred and sixty-six feet and in the following years the possibility of long, and two thousand two hundred and twenty-making it the point of departure of the American six tons. Starting with the valuable experience of mail was under discussion. A Company of Irish ten years of Atlantic steaming, it is not to be won- gentlemen was eventually formed; an offer to dered at that the 'Collins' steamers were a success establish a line of steamers and carry the mails for as far as sea-going was concerned. The results of a very moderate subsidy, was made to government; the running between Liverpool and New York and in April 1859 the Royal Atlantic Steam-navifor the twelve months ending June 1852, gave an gation Company' signed a contract to carry the average for the Cunard of twelve days six hours mails from Galway to New York in eleven days forty-one minutes out, and ten days seventeen two hours, and home in ten days. Four large hours thirty minutes home; while the Collins steamers were forthwith ordered, and the service averaged eleven days fifteen hours two minutes was opened in June 1860; but everything went out, and eleven days home-thus showing an wrong, one disaster after another occurring to the advantage of four and a half hours on the average fleet. The purchase of the Adriatic, the crack out and home in favour of the American ships. steamer of the then recently defunct Collins Line, Great were the rejoicings on the other side of the did not retrieve the position; and after only eleven Atlantic; but the fact that the Arctic and her months' running, the Company was wound up, sister-vessels had cost far too much money ever and the prospect of Galway becoming the Liverto prove commercially successful, was completely pool of Ireland was crushed for a generation. lost sight of. The Cunard Company did not give up the contest, however; but, like Britons, set to work again. In 1852 the Arabia, a steamer two hundred and eighty-five feet long, two thousand four hundred tons register, and more powerful than the best of the Collins Line, began to run; and three years later, the Persia, an iron steamer, three hundred and fifty feet long, and three thousand seven hundred and sixty-six tons-the largest vessel then afloat-was added to the fleet. The Persia soon made her capabilities known; she averaged eleven days two and three-quarter hours for the passage out, and nine days fourteen hours home. The average passage of the Cunard fleet was reduced to five hours under that of the Collins; and the laurels of the Atlantic passed to the British, with whom they have since remained.


During the years 1860-61, the Great Eastern, the largest ship in the world, was tried as an Atlantic packet; but the experiment was gigantic for the time; passengers were not forthcoming in sufficient numbers to occupy her hundreds of staterooms, nor cargo sufficient to fill her capacious holds; her working expenses, too, were heavy; and finally this unfortunate vessel was withdrawn.

In 1862, the Scotia, a paddle-steamer, three hundred and seventy-nine feet long, and one-fourth greater tonnage than her predecessor the Persia, was added to the Cunard fleet. This well-known ship, the last paddle-steamer built for service on the North Atlantic, and perhaps the largest of her type ever built, was for long the favourite on the route. She averaged after ten years' service nine days twenty hours Queenstown to New York, and nine days five hours home; and at the present moment, under the same name, but with altered appearance, being now fitted with a twin screw,


she does good service in the employ of the Telegraph Construction and Maintenance Company.

The National Steam-navigation Company' was established in 1863, and for some time took the lead in introducing long ships. Starting with the Holland, of three hundred and ninetyfive feet, in two years' time they added the England, four hundred and thirty-eight feet long, a vessel which for seven years was unsurpassed in size by any other steamer on the Atlantic


The fourth in seniority of the Liverpool and New York steamship Companies, the Guion Line, was established in 1866, their first ship being the Manhattan. The vessels of this Company have recently become noticeable for their size and speed.

The year 1870 brought into the field a formidable rival to the older lines in the 'Oceanic Steam-navigation Company,' popularly known as the 'White Star Line.' The vessels of this Company were specially designed with a view to minimise the time of passage between the two continents, and were highly successful; the result of the running of the White Star liners between Queenstown and New York for the year 1873 giving an average of nine days nineteen hours forty-eight minutes out, and eight days twenty-two hours thirty-nine minutes home. The Cunard fleet during the same year averaged ten days sixteen hours fifty-four minutes out, and nine days seven hours fifty-nine minutes home; and the Inman in 1870 averaged ten days fourteen hours twenty-two minutes out, and nine days sixteen hours eight minutes home. It was clearly necessary for the senior Companies to keep pace with the times. A season of active building resulted, and by the close of 1875 the Inman Company had added to their fleet four splendid steamships, of a total tonnage of nineteen thousand two hundred, the last and largest being the City of Berlin, four hundred and eighty-eight feet long, the largest ship then afloat excepting the Great Eastern. During the same period the Cunard Company built the well-known favourites Bothnia and Scythia; but the Oceanic Company produced the Britannic and Germanic, and so the White Star still led the way.

The well-remembered years of commercial depression followed, during which the Atlantic trade suffered as much as any other; but in the middle of the dull time, the Cunard Company, believing that a business that had prospered in their hands for nearly forty years had still a future, prepared for a revival by building the Gallia, one of the finest of their present fleet, and fully a match in speed for any other vessel then on the Atlantic.

The Guion Line now came to the front for the first time, and the famous Arizona attracted crowds at Liverpool, as she returned from the 'fastest passage on record.' Business brightened, and a season of building again commenced. The Cunard Company kept up their reputation with the Servia, five hundred and fifteen feet long, and ten thousand five hundred horse-power, beyond dispute the most perfect Atlantic steamship yet produced, being built of steel, and having her safety well provided for in her complete double bottom and numerous water

tight bulkheads. The Inman Company built the City of Rome, five hundred and sixty feet long, and eight thousand four hundred tons, a larger vessel than the Servia, but with no greater power; while the owners of the Arizona prepared to eclipse everything with the Alaska, a vessel two feet less beam, and fifteen feet shorter than the Servia, but with practically the same power. These three vessels made their first voyage towards the close of last summer; and in order to watch their effect in reducing the time of the Atlantic passage, we note that during 1880 the White Star steamers averaged nine days and twenty-four minutes out, and eight days_seventeen hours twenty-six minutes home; the Inman, the only other Company of which the results have hitherto been made known, averaging nine days nine hours thirty-two minutes out, and nine days three hours home.

During the present summer, the rival steamers are all being well and fairly tested, and the interest, in their speed especially, never seems to flag. In the beginning of June, the Alaska made the run to Queenstown in six days twenty-one hours thirty minutes, and subsequently from Queenstown to New York in six days twenty hours, thus more than realising the long-waited-for seven days' passage. The Servia, as tried on the measured mile, ran a trifle under eighteen knots; and the City of Rome, with her elaborate six-cylinder engines, may possibly rival this speed. The distance from New York to Queenstown may be taken at two thousand seven hundred and ninety nautical miles; to make the passage, therefore, in seven days requires an average speed of sixteen and two-third knots per hour-a high speed certainly, as the fast Kingston and Holyhead mail-steamers average no more than sixteen.

We have as yet spoken only of those Atlantic steamship Companies whose vessels run from Liverpool to New York, as it is to these alone that the competition in speed, so far as Britishowned steamers are concerned, has been made. Our sketch, however, would not be complete without a short reference to other Companies, whose steamers, although not specially renowned for quick passages, have done excellent public service.


Amongst these we may mention the wellknown Allan Line,' which from the year 1856 has kept up a regular service of steamers to Quebec or Montreal in summer, and Portland, Maine, in winter. The Allan Line runs steamers both from Liverpool and Glasgow, and now possesses a fleet equal, so far as efficiency and the comfort of passengers are concerned, to any other on the Atlantic.


The equally well-known Anchor Line' commenced in a small way in 1856 running between Glasgow and Quebec; and nine years later began the present service to New York. A steamer of very modest dimensions, despatched once a fortnight, was then sufficient for a trade that has developed to such an extent that recent summers have seen two Anchor liners of four thousand tons each, besides a supplementary steamer, leave the Clyde for New York in a single week, laden in many cases with emigrants. Economy is the order of the day in the North, the rates both for goods and passengers being usually less-often

and knowledge of the world, the pearl of business men, dismissed? Impossible. And Garling's manner set that thought at rest. He was just the same as ever, except that he had been used to be always so busy, and was now, by way of added wonder, idle.

Within more recent times, the 'State Line' started with a well-equipped fleet to compete with the Anchor,' and has had a fair share of public favour. The Monarch Line,' running between London and New York, is as an undertaking in its infancy. The steamers of this Company were designed largely with a view to the carriage of live-stock; and it may be remembered that the much-talked-of Jumbo left our shores as a passenger in one of them. At Bristol, within the last few years, we have seen in the revival of the once famous 'Great Western Steamship Company' an attempt, we are happy to believe so far successful, to bring again a portion of the tide of commerce that once flowed from the West through the old city on the banks of the Avon. The go-ahead Cardiff has tried a line of steamers on its own account; we are unable to say with what degree of success; and the wonderfully developed port of Barrow owns another, running in conjunction with the Anchor Line.

When he had filled up the necessary forms and had everything ready for the merchant's inspection and use, he took up the daily paper which lay upon the table and feigned to read it. So far as he was concerned, it was an idle feigning, for he scarcely had the heart to read a word, but he sat there with stupendous patience and self-control and made no sign. Mr Barnes was evidently agitated by extreme curiosity; and Garling, though he had no particular purpose in foiling him, yet found the baffling of that curiosity a help to him. It whiled away the time, and suited the purposeless weary venom of his mood to sit there impassive and worry Barnes, and occasionally to meet Barnes's secret glance of wonder with one of keen discovery, and to make him uncomfortable in that way. But the fire of Remorse which in some hearts is only to be lighted by failure, was already in this pause beginning to burn in him, and to The South Coast of England is well supplied bring him a foretaste of its agonies. He had by the Companies whose headquarters are at failed! In the very hour of his triumph he Havre, Rotterdam, Bremen, and Hamburg, the had failed. There was nine years' work wasted steamers as a rule being British-built. Grimsby-thrown away. On the very results of his also comes in for a share; and on the whole fraud, the great House would prosper, for he we may say that if any resident in the British had worked for its prosperity that he might Isles has a desire to cross the Atlantic, he make his fraud the larger. Let him care as has no cause to complain of want of means of little as he might, let him be as indifferent as transit. he would, it was ignominious. He had failed.


Failure is always bitter, but it is ten times bitter to the detected rogue. And now his own ingratitude began to gnaw at him; a crime spurned by his steel-armed conscience this nine shattered armour and began to gnaw at him. years past, crept in through a crevice in the And shame wreathed a first cold coil about his heart and sickened him. Then one thought suddenly took him by the very soul. vengeance came upon him through his desertion of his wife and child, and one crime was made a whip to scourge another. Was the world a chaos of chances, after all, if such a thing as this could be? It was clear that Lumby had overheard the colloquy between that insolent Yankee and himself; clear that this had excited suspicion in his mind; clear that he had that night disturbed the ledger which held the and so had detected him. This heaped bitteraccount of Garling's first year of stewardship, ness on bitterness, and set the sting of his long-deadened conscience to bite deeper. Bah! Why distress himself about that world-old superstition, long since destroyed by philosophy, and contemned by common-sense? Yet he could not shake off the fear, and it dug at the foundations of all his strength; for if it were truly


considerably less-than those from Liverpool; and during the last few years, thousands of emigrants from Northern and Central Europe have travelled via the Leith and Glasgow route to find a home in the Great West.



CHAPTER XXVIII.—A MESSENGER FROM THE BANK. GARLING meanwhile was in the street, walking to the Bank. To be free as he was and yet bound as he was, seemed an anomaly. He was going to surrender all his evil gains, and he was no worse nor better off than if he had lived a life of honesty, except in the estimation of men for whom he had no regard. The physical conditions were perhaps answerable for a part of his indifference. He was too worn out to feel keenly.

[ocr errors]

The usual greetings met him as he walked, and he responded to them in his usual way, by bending his bent head a little lower. Eminent capitalists remarked that morning that Garling was looking worn, and afterwards speaking in the light of later events, called upon other eminent capitalists to corroborate their assertions that they had made that observation. With no change in his common business




[blocks in formation]

sliding panel. No answer. He tried to thrust
it on one side; but the bolt was fastened. He
rapped again, more loudly. No answer. He
went round to the side-door and rapped at
that, and still receiving no response, essayed to
open it, but discovered that it also was fastened.
'He must have gone out,' said Barnes, return-
ing; 'but I did not hear him.'

Nor did I,' returned Garling. So that he performed his share of the contract, what did it matter to him whether the merchant kept his or left it unkept? If he chose to be ruined, let him be ruined. He would want money at the Bank soon enough, unless Garling were mistaken, and that could not come about very easily. The new cashier and the old sat on together until the luncheon-hour, when Mr Barnes went out. At two o'clock he returned, and sat down before a new pile of letters. One of these he handed to Garling.

[ocr errors]



presented for payment. Certain promissory notes also were falling due. 'We pay in fifty thousand pounds this afternoon,' said Garling. Mr Lumby is in town, and had made arrangements to meet me at noon to-day for that purpose. We shall follow you at once.'


'We were surprised, sir, at the great drafts you have been making lately.'


'This concerns you, Mr Garling,' he said. was Garling's roundabout note to Lumby, returned by the Liverpool firm, as having been inclosed to them in error. 'Clumsy fool!' said Garling to himself, not taking time to think that it mattered no longer. Why not have sent it straight on without inclosing it?' Then he smiled bitterly at his own want of apprehension, and absently tore the useless fraud across and threw it into the waste-paper basket. This futile reminder of all his futile plans stung him a little. There were stings enough within him, but he would not writhe. Mr Barnes was looking to see whether this odd note had any effect on Garling, but the defrauder held himself and gave no sign. When men came to know that he was defeated, they should have no chance to say that they had seen him shaken by defeat.

'Be quick, or you will be too late. A messenger from the Bank has been here to say that the firm's account is overdrawn, with heavy demands to meet Crossing the room, he shot back the bolt, and threw open the sliding panel. -'Mr Barnes,' he said, cool and calm as ever,

Another hour went by, and Mr Barnes, at Garling's bidding, again rapped at the sliding panel, and again tried both it and the door with no result. A new alarm was presenting itself to Garling. It was patent that if matters went too far, and the firm was shaken, the promise of immunity he held might after all avail him little. He sat thinking uneasily of this for another half-oblige me by sending for a hansom. At once, hour, and had almost resolved to rise and batter at if you please. The astounded Barnes once more the door until he received an answer-for he was shut out by the returning of the panel, rang the certain that the merchant had fallen asleep within bell and transmitted Garling's order. The mer-when a clerk came hurriedly up announcing the chant facing Garling looked dazed and overarrival of a messenger from the Bank, who wished whelmed with sleep. 'I have everything in to see either Mr Lumby himself or Mr Garling readiness,' said the ex-cashier. 'Come with me on business of importance. Nobody could gues how enormously important that business was, half so well as Garling. The ruin he had planned might be coming on already-might well have begun even now, and if it fell whilst he was in England, nothing could save him. The power would have passed from his employer's hands, and the promise he had given would not be worth a straw. 'Anybody in Number Thirteen?' asked Garling.

-there is not a minute to lose.'

'No, sir,' said the clerk who had brought the message.

'Then show the messenger in there.' Garling went to meet the Bank_ messenger. The tale he had to tell was brief. The account of the firm was enormously overdrawn, and cheques to a large amount, bearing the firm's

'No doubt,' said Garling-'no doubt. Had there been any great stress, Mr Lumby would have transferred a portion of his private account. We shall follow directly.'

The messenger withdrew smilingly. There was no doubt about Lumby and Lumby. The senior partner's private account, swollen year by year for many years past, was enough to show their solidity. Still, if Garling could act so recklessly as this, there was at least room for other business men to gain a little credit for themselves. There was some comfort in thinking that Garling was not quite immaculate. For one moment, when the messenger had gone, Garling stood with a diabolic rebellion in his heart and eyes. Fate forced him to rescue the firm for his own sake, but he had well-nigh courage and hate enough to risk his own ruin and let crash the falling House. No! There were still chances in the world even for him. He walked swiftly to the door of Lumby's room and rained down blows upon its panels with his clenched hand. Mr Barnes came running into the corridor to ask what was the matter, and Garling seeing that he carried a heavy ruler, took it from him and made a very storm of noise. A voice answered from within, and the head of the firm, looking, to Mr Barnes's wild astonishment, like a drunken man, threw open the door. Garling entered the room, closed the door in his successor's face, and accosted his late employer.

Lumby looked stupidly at his watch. A quarter to four,' he said heavily. 'What is the matter?'

'Come with me,' repeated Garling. Compose yourself. If you go to the Bank with such an air as this, the town will declare you bankrupt. You look it.' He spoke with quiet scorn, not hurried by the pressure of events or swayed out of his usual possession of himself.

'I have been asleep,' said the merchant. 'What is the matter?'

'Ruin is the matter!' cried Garling, stirred at last.-Barnes in the next room heard those awful unbelievable words, and dropped into his chair white as a ghost.Come with me, and wake up by the way.' If they were late, Garling would not set his liberty at a pin's fee. The

hat with a shaking hand and began to draw on his gloves.


'Have you the drafts made out?' he asked. 'Yes,' said Garling, thrusting them upon him with both hands. Come!' There was a horrible impatience on him now, and a fear lest they should lose the hour. He had to stifle this hurry and dread, whilst he walked behind Lumby through the offices. The merchant's aspect awakened surmises among the clerks, and it was told afterwards how his hands shook and how pale he was. A hansom was standing already at the door, and they both entered. Garling gave his instructions to the driver; the man touched his horse with his whip, and they started.

"There is ample time,' said the merchant to himself, consulting his watch again. 'I could walk to the Bank in less than the time we have.' His face lost its flushed and excited look, and the old expression came back into his eyes. He drew himself together and crossed his arms upon his breast, holding in his right hand the documents which meant recovered fortune and an unsoiled name. As his mind began to play again, he fathomed the reason of Garling's urgency. 'A curious situation,' he said almost complacently. 'Was ever scoundrel so anxious to disgorge before?'



On one occasion, when I arrived in England, as a porter was removing my things from the ship, a custom-house officer at the dock-gates, impelled by curiosity, insisted on opening one of my boxes. There was not the slightest reason for his doing so; all my boxes had been duly examined at the baggage warehouse, the passticket signed, and this particular one labelled 'Live Animals;' but he had a right to do so, and would do so, and did so, and was bitten in the hand by a snake. I was on board my ship at the time, and was sent for in hot haste. Now, I have suffered so much from meddlesome and vexatious custom-house officials, that I was not at all sorry to hear of the occurrence, and resolved that it should be a lesson to the man and a standard warning to his fellows. They all knew me in this port; they knew that I was no smuggler; but they knew, also, that I brought tropical animals home with me, for the safety of which it was of the highest importance that they should reach their destination as soon as possible. And the consequence was that the truck containing them was frequently stopped in its progress by somebody on the look-out for it, and delayed on some pretext or other until black-mail had been extorted.

When I reached the dock-gate, I found the victim lying on the ground, half supported by a policeman, and surrounded by an agitated crowd. He was pallid, and covered with a cold perspiration, speechless, faint, and almost pulseless, his lips white, and his features contracted into an expression of intense anxiety.

For heaven's sake, give him something quick, sir,' said the policeman, or he'll be gone!'

I can't help it,' I replied; 'he had no right

to open my box; and I refuse to be responsible. He must stand the consequences. I can do nothing for him!'


A cry of horror and indignation burst from the crowd; but I was obstinate. In vain they begged, prayed, entreated me to give him something.' . If I didn't, the man would die.—I didn't care; serve him right. If I had not retreated to the ship, I believe they would have pitched me into the dock. The unhappy minion of the revenue was put into a cab more dead than alive, and taken to the hospital, where the housesurgeon carefully examined his hand, and laughed at him. He had a terrible fright; but the snake was a harmless one.

A sort of converse case to this proves how necessary it is to study these reptiles attentively before venturing on liberties with them. There are two brilliant-coloured snakes, common in South America, which resemble each other so closely that it requires some experience to distinguish them apart; even when compared together, the difference is not readily perceptible to an unpractised eye. Both are loosely known as coral snakes; but one (Elaps lemniscatus) is venomous, while the other (Oxyrhopus doliatus) is quite innocent. I had shown a specimen of the latter to a friend, who, without having 'gone in' for them scientifically, has not that horror of snakes which most people have, and he had taken it in his hands without fear, on my assuring him that its bite could do him no injury. Some time afterwards he obtained possession of an Elaps, which, deceived by the resemblance, he actually handled and exhibited to his acquaintances for several weeks as harmless, until I met him, and demonstrated his error by opening the serpent's mouth and showing him its fangs. Luckily for him, he had not kept the creature sufficiently warm to develop its full activity; otherwise, it would inevitably have bitten him.

I frequently make use of my tame boas and pythons, and less frequently smaller snakes, in the performance of a little amateur conjuring, of which I am rather fond, and for which they are exactly fitted. Not only does the presence of a living serpent create a sort of atmosphere of traditional magic and sorcery in itself-not only does the possibility of such a thing being hidden somewhere deter an audience from wishing to examine any piece of apparatus with too close scrutiny, but they lie concealed in such a small space, that they may be carried about much more conveniently than the rabbits, guinea-pigs, and doves commonly employed for the purpose. My two pythons, each about eight feet long, and a boa a trifle smaller, come out of a borrowed hat which would seem absurdly insufficient to hold one of them, to those unacquainted with their nature and habits; and I can go down among my audience and produce' more moccasin, banded, garter, whip, rat, and grass snakes than they would credit me with holding, if I were hollowed out inside for the purpose. I manage it in this way. About an hour before the performance, I put a hot plate, covered with a piece of flannel, into their cage. This they very soon find out, and get on it, though their cage is always kept warm enough; for they love any amount of heat. The surface of the plate being of such a size that it shall be small in proportion to the


[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »