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Itis impossible to avoid desultoriness in following these rambling , scrambling notes of our melancholy , musing , acute Captain . He turns aside from the barren beauty of these classic regions to sigh after the lawns and glades and woodlands , the parks and forests of old England . Anon he as , pitilessly severe on English prejudices , on the exclusiveness , the cant , the confusion of laws , the constitutional fictions , and the aristocratic misgovernment of his beloved country . Perhaps he is a not an uncommon specimen of the good old Tory , with ' a streak or two of the advanced Radical . -Bora , and bred a Tory , 'he may have unconsciously developed into a Radical by conviction . —if not by chagrin . The result of the mixture is a book which , hits fiercely and sometimes at random at all manner of respectable abuses—at inaccessible ambassadors , do-nothing or incompetent consuls , vexatious custom-houses , and officialism in all its mystifying ramifications of red tape .
\ From Constantinople the Captain , with an evident sensation of relief , takes ship homeward to Liverpool , looking in at Smyrna , Alexandria , and Gibraltar b y the way . When he is not scolding like a " heavy father , "' he talks like what we should irreverently call a jolly old fellow , disposed to be a true citizen of the world , and to make friends wherever he can . The long low screw-steamer in which he returns home suggests to the old sailor a few hints on the " continued defect of our naval architecture , " which , out of respect to the noble and gallant profession of the author , we quote at length ,: All our knowing naval people will stare at such an assertion . They would possibly admit the thing here and there in detail—one ship ugly , another crank , another a bad seaboat , or a dull sailer ; but I am sorry to say our ship and boat-building is generally and Tadically--wrong , from the first lines chalked out in the model lafts of our Queen's ot private-yards throughout the empire !
It would exhaust a pamphlet to explain all this in detail ; but it is sufficiently proved at a glance , in tie eye of any seaman who has ever considered the proper / shapes xif floating bodies : —but to look at out ships loaded , affo xt ; and , jroihsr on * oard , simply walk their decks ! ^ 'The great defect I allude to is so obvious , that to me it is quite unaccountable how at is we obstinately persist in it . It is the constant -smalt of proportionate breadth in ¦ our yeasels afloat , from a . cutter to a frigate—I can hardly except our iin « -of-battle ¦ Ships ; andtheconsequence of this . long , narrow , peg-top builais , tftat none Of them / carry-theirguns ; high enough out of the water , that they want-room inboard , and that essential *«« & #% in a moderate sea-way , to enable their guns to be carried -with ease , and worked with-adv-antage . As time has gone on , even up to sending Sir Charles Napier ' s fleet into the Baltic , this constant error has been persisted in through all the more - ' recently-launclied craftsteamers and all , which latter vessels , most especially , should be perfectly flat-floored , and draw the least possible water !—instead of which , they are so deep in the water as to be unable to approach any coast ! They artificially multiply all the inevitable and - natural dangers of rivers , or shallows , or rocky shores .
I could name at once many of our steamers totally unfit to fight their main-deck guns in any thing of a sea , so low do they carry , them ; and , indeed , when all coal , stores , &c , are on board , they must be ' almost useless and helpless even in a moderately rough sea or rough weather ! It is this wretched buikl—all under water , and not half « nough above—^ that I think distinguishes England ' s present marine , great and small . Then , again , our forecastles contracted—sharp up ! and down , it is buried in a sea . way , instead of bearing out above the water-line , to ease her in plunging . Nor is the faeadtli of beam carried well put aft , as it should be , to give room and create buoyancy . - All this need not : interfere either with a fine entrance or a fine run . We have nothing to do ( and why are we not more wide awake ?) but compare our ships with those of the United States , to show us the defects most glaringly , particularly in our small craft and steamers .
Years ago I did myself the honour of representing to the Admiralty the many advantages of flatter floors , more beam , greater room , every where less draught of water , &c . ; and particularly suggested of what incalculable service a small class of flatbottomed steamers might be for our coasts and harbours , on the plan partly of the American river steamers , ferry-boats , &c , which , from their drawing so little water , are enabled-to put their noses on any beach as easily as a two-docker ' s launch . These scrow-steamors might carry one or two large guns , on a pivot , . at once to defend our shoTos , carry troops from one point to another , and , in short , form the Government active daily carriers , and bo our guard mobile , all round our coast ! Mere ferry steamers or tugs on this plan , might turn out on s \ ich errands—properly built . Not such lumbering stolid contrivances as our Portsmouth ferry-boat to Gosport . With bulwarks breast-high , filled in with hammocks or haversacks , troops would be sheltered from musketry . These ^ are the things I now , on my return home , find wanted and criod out for in the Baltic , to land our troops , and cover their landing ! and generally to aeour the shores and look into shallow waters and rivers . So will thoy bo wanted in the Black Sea .
But wo are so in love with grubbing under water without room to stir Ln on deck aboveit ( while you may wash your hands over the sido !) tlmt the " despatch" boat » uilt to meet this demand I « co draws thirteen or fourteen foot wnter ! !! ( with guns At the aides !) -when such things should not druvrjire , and should bo , as to enpucity for carrymg troopa and fighting one pivot gun , throe times as efficient . The models for auch boats may bo Been in oyery river and harbour of the United States , where unmenao boats ( floating , platforms ) and swift ( partly from skimming over tlvo -water , not under J ) may bo seen drawing but from eighteen inchus to two or three feet ! ^ carrying hundreds of tons —and quito equal to such fleas as the Baltic or Enxiiio ; but I . am persuaded , oven in a gulo of wind , thoy would uiako bolter wuatlior of it thnu tho things wo send afloat . As it affects mere pnaaoiifjorH in our slight-built , long , low , narrow iron stoamors ( called , splendid !) this pervading defect Is of con . seq-uoneo both to their cornfort and safety . In a gnlo and a heavy son , a duinny wido French liahiiigooat would" bo infinitely moro safe . I urn persuaded half 1 ho dimiatcra wo hoar of , both « n out coasts and at Boa , spring from this ugrogious fault—which nobody , Huientiflo or working by rule of thumb , in or out of our yard * , flocina to susixx't or hare the leant idea of . J '
If » t , is over happily departed from in the right w « y , it in in tlio vomsuIh built by uh « t other GovernmentH I The despatch bout , built , in thurivur tlm utliur day lor rrumjin woe a inuoh Letter bout , and more to the purportu thun our own poor thin ^ , whluli , if « io Times is to bo boHoved , knocked about no ul . Spitlioml—Ihnt llrintf her / , niii ur fiuna from the ports wn « quite a fuiluru . ll . iiiovum oiic ' h Hpei'iul woiulcr how who oamu «> have portal or how hIiu could powihlv , for her mI / . c , In ; mmlu to draw thirteen J \ mt , water ! both queer qualities which exactly unfUtiid ln ; r for thu vory thhifT for which w » o w « a suppoHod to bo built I ,- * our now voshuIu , steam or wailn , nothing i .-t tnllcud of but , « pveil- ~ n » if other qunlitlca'woro not equally OHSontial ; nay , ul ' ueh mow no —ini |>« rntm « . llwinoo the awkwardly long low thingn dnlly turned out of uur ynrdrt , wltli no
topsides—no room anywhere , and all keel , so sharp they may be said to progress unrtor water rather than above it . « "u « . Our Clyde and Glasgow builders sin least in this way ; but let any man look at our Hamburgh boats , our Irish boats , those of our Cluumel Islands , those to France from all our ports in the British Channel , even our fast Gravesend and Greenwich boats ; and it is quite impossible to say any one of them is at all near what she should be either as to size or speed : all owing to this one radical defect of build—since being down , under water such an absurd depth offers the greatest resistance ( no matter how long or how sharp they are ) to going ahead , infinitely more than the increased divergence of the angles from the cut-water , thrown out in a flatter and extended floor . This might be illustrated in a hundred ways . But I must have done . And so we take leave of our author , whom at certain moments we have felt half disposed to christen the Sir Anthony Absolute of foreign travel . The volume is illustrated by four drawings from -the aut 3 ior ' s hand , remarkable for spirit and effect . The " High Street , Pera , " which forms the frontispiece , is quite a chef-d ' eeuvre of observation , and we can answer for its truth .
REVELATIONS OF A SLAVE-TRADER . Kevelations of a Slave-Trader ; or , Twenty Years' Adventures of Captain Cmwt . London .: Bentley A few weeks ago , noticing-some extracts-from the American edition of this book which appeared ^ in anticipation . of its regular publication , and with a great flourish of preliminary applause , in the New York Tribune , we ventured to . put the public on itheir guard against it , as a worthless or -worse than worthless book , thatwould probably be pushed into notoriety in the wake of Unele Tom and the 3 tfegro-literature mania roused by that respectable
novel . We protested against the mythical look of the whole affair—having no . great liking for the ostensible character of the book as the story of the adventures of a certain darerdevil ex-slave-trader captain , " edited" from his conversations and papers by an . American litterateur , Mr . Brantz Mayer- We also hinted that the work seemed to have no particular merit of a literary kind to justify its becoming , popular . And , finally , founding our opinion on . the extracts in the New York Tribune * , we said that the -work , seemed to have been , spiced with " warm . " passages about negresses , mulatto-beauties , harems , &c ., 'in order to make it sell .
The book itself is now before us , in Mr . Bentley ' s edition . ; and we have examined it to see whether our impressions of it in anticipation were co-rrect . On the whole , they were . The book is , in the main , one that we would not desire to see popular—and tiiat probably will not be so , even with those who devour books of " thrilling interest , " and are fond of negro-literature . Mr . Bentley ' s edition , indeed , seems to have removed from the book one of the elements on which we commented as distinguishing the American edition of it . He seems to have goxie over Mr . Brants ; Mayer ' s text ( this gentleman ' s name does not appear at all on" the title-page of Mr . Bentley ' s edition ) , and struck out the " warm " passages—a process creditable to Mr . Bentley ? a regard for the decorous , but by which , we should think , the chance of the sale of the book lias been considerably lessened—as in reality these were the passages that many a Briton would have given his money for . In other
respects , however , we fancy Mr . Bentley ' s edition is a . reprint . of the American one of the original editor , Mr . Brantz Mayer ; and , taking . it as such * we retain ^ our other objections to it . First , we have no guarantee for the authenticity of the work—and yet it is precisely the kind of work that is only valuable so far as it is rigidly authentic . In fact , the guarantee is less than in the American edition , in which the name of one known person , Mr . Brantz Mayer , was associated with the . responsibility . . In Mr . Bentley ' s edition the title is simply I&vela . - tions of a Slave-Trader ; ov , Twenty Years' Adoentures of Captain Canot ; and besides this " Captain Canot" no one appears as responsible . Who , then , is or was'Captain Canot ? In a note on the title-page it is stated , " the author , who is a French subject , reserves to himself the copyright , and ! right of translation . " This is , doubtless , in terroram of Messrs . Routled ^ e
and others , who are publishing other reprints of the American edition ; and if Captain Canot would coine forward and claim his . property , we should have the benefit of taking , a . look at him , and should then know better what degree of historical reality to assign to his book . We have heard vague rumours as to who the gentleman is ; and Mr . Bentley ' s editor , in his advertisement , says " the narrative is authentic : the author has relinquished the traffic [ in slaves ] , and here relates the incidents of his life for the purpose of serving the cause of truth . " But with all respect fox Mr . JBentley ' a editor , though Tie may be convinced by what ho knows of the anythical Captain Cunot , the public are not bound to be convinced by his averment ; at second-hand—the more as in the American edition Captain Canofc is ia the background altogether , and figures not us the author of the boolc , but
as only the subject of it ,, whose adventures are narrated from hia panels and conversations by Mr . Brantz ; Mayer . On . the whole , our impression , ia , that there may be some person or other answoring to the Captain Canot of these adventures , and that this person may have hud adventures , but that tho book is in . great part ^ a literary spec ^ Mr . Bx-antz Mayer having beaten up tho bits of fact auppliod him into language enough for an octavo volume , and otherwise done tho composition . The ilowing insipid style of tho bookreminding one of a literary hack making sentences to order , with th < j facts to bo inserted into hia sentences lying on his desk bosido ln ' m in a box—¦ malcos this supposition more probable . At all ovonts , we do not know how much is fact , and how much is sontance-making ; and till this i « cleared up , tho authenticity of the look must remain suspect .
At tho best , and even if authentic , tho book is hardly worth reading . It is a tissue of advcnturcH at sea , among pirutofl , among slaves , &o ., crowded an thick upon ouch other as possible ; ' but eaich uniliug' in itsulf' ,-and having not one atom of real or permanent interest . TIki soii ( . cii (! u-ijmkin ^ i . s goad enough ; but with perpetual spumn in tho " ¦ situutionw , " tliorts i . s no power in tho style . Ah a novel il would bo bad . r J'li ( j burst bits uro jjuHsngiss not relating Captain Canot ' a adventures , but accumulating information aboul , tlus Hluvo-trnd . o , such as any American littdnttmir could liuvtt got l > y " cramming " from any boolean the truffle . Ono or two » wh pua » ugt ; rt Jiavo boon quoted by other journuls iVom tho book , mid wo do not euro to repent thorn . Alto-
Octobkr SI , 1854 . ] THE LEADE H . # 003
Leader (1850-1860), Oct. 21, 1854, page 1003, in the Nineteenth-Century Serials Edition (2008; 2018) ncse2.kdl.kcl.ac.uk/periodicals/l/issues/vm2-ncseproduct2061/page/19/