Read CHAPTER XV of In Eastern Seas The Commission of H.M.S. 'Iron Duke‚' flag-ship in China‚ 1878-83 , free online book, by J. J. Smith, on ReadCentral.com.

Heave, heave, heave! around the capstan,
Up with the anchor with a will;
For the “Duke,” you may rely,
Will be home by next July,
If you’ll only put old Tom Lee to the wheel.

Before starting for the north, suppose we just glance at a few of the leading events which transpired at the beginning of the year. The flying squadron has sailed after having awaited the return of the “Inconstant” from docking at Nagasaki.

The arrival of the yacht “Wanderer” must also be noted; for Mr. Lambert, her princely owner, gave a magnificent cup worth 200 dollars as a prize to be sailed for by the boats of the men-of-war in harbour. It was borne off by the French admiral’s barge.

In stripping our yards serious defects were discovered in the fore and main, necessitating the replacing of the latter by a new one, and the splicing of the former. Whilst awaiting these repairs the admiral hurried us off, stripped as we were, up the Canton river to a bleak open spot above the Bogue forts. The scenery of the river is flat and uninviting, but eminently characteristic. Almost every hill has its pagoda at the top, every bank that peculiar fishing apparatus a lever net, and the river is swarming with great lumbering junks, not a few of which, if rumour speak correctly, engaged in piracy.

On the way up we obtained a fine view of the Bogue forts. The old ruins still remain, mute witnesses of the completeness of our cannonade during the Chinese war. At a short distance from the old, a much stronger and more formidable structure is reared, which in the hands of Europeans would form an almost impassable barrier. In addition to the large fort, two small islands off in the river are also strongly fortified with eighteen-ton guns.

Ten days such was the term of our banishment. Economically considered, I suppose it was all right; no doubt the fresh water of the river succeeded in removing the saline incrustations from our bottom. One of the home papers, more sensationally than truthfully, remarked that our ship’s company were all such a disreputable, boosing set, and proved themselves so reckless and recalcitrant when on shore, that the admiral took this means of punishing us. Now I call this a gross libel on the ship’s company at large. To speak honestly, I don’t believe the admiral did send us here for such a purpose, nor do I believe we are one whit worse than those who stigmatize our characters in so wholesale and careless a manner.

Next in order of events comes the admiral’s inspection searching, of course, as all his inspections are known to be. He has a curious knack of catching people on what, in lower-deck phrase, is styled the “ground-hop,” and generally succeeds, by his rapid and pertinent questions, in putting people into such utter confusion of ideas that negatives and affirmatives are bundled out indiscriminately, if indeed the mouth can be induced to open itself at all, or to frame any speech. However, in one department, at least, he got as good as he gave. Whilst visiting the magazine he suddenly gave the order, “fire on the flat!” The gunner’s mate in charge of the magazine, whom we will call “Topper,” immediately closed the hatch and stood on guard over it. Turning around, the admiral said “I want to go into the magazine;” but observing that “Topper” still stood motionless, he again repeated the order. “You can’t, sir,” was the rejoinder, “because there is fire in the flat.” “Oh! very well,” replied the admiral, “cease fire!” With great promptitude and despatch the hatch was removed, and the admiral prepared to descend, but was once more checked, and was informed that if he complied with the magazine regulations, and left his shoes and sword behind, he might do so. He fared no better down below, I believe, and left the magazine perfectly satisfied with the conduct of affairs in that region.

A few days before sailing, a suggestion made by Mr. Robinson, the officer whose kindnesses I have had occasion to note before, met with universal favor. For a very small sum each man, a telegram was sent to Mr. R ’s agent in London, in the following words “When will ‘Audacious’ commission, and probably sail?” For three days nothing else was spoken of, and various were the speculations as to the answer. It came “Early September.” Very short, but to the point, though to some rather ambiguous. To which did the answer refer, the commissioning, or the sailing? Reason implied the former, as, knowing it, the latter might be inferred. A subsequent telegram set the matter at rest.

April 19th. After a more than ordinarily long stay at Hong Kong, to-day sees us clearing out of the harbour on our projected summer cruise. The following ships besides ourselves comprised the squadron “Curacoa,” “Encounter,” “Albatross,” “Swift,” “Daring,” and “Foxhound,” with the “Vigilant” and “Zephyr,” which accompanied us out of the harbour. On parting company with the admiral we shaped course for Manilla, the admiral being specially careful to give Captain Tracey injunctions not to forget to bring him 2,000 cigars from that place. We were then sailing under sealed orders.

April 24th. This morning, having sent the “Swift” back to Hong Kong, the sealed orders were opened, and, to the surprise of everybody to the captain’s not less than to our own we were not to go to Manilla at all! This in the face of what the admiral said to the captain! Well, up helm, and away we go for Loo-Choo; it does not signify much where we go for the next six or eight months, I suppose.

April 25th. Caught our first shark. Yes; one out of the many scores in the vicinity actually meditated an attack on our four-pound piece. However he discovered, to his cost, that a barbed hook is no easy matter to digest. He was landed inboard in a trice, and handed over to the tender mercies of the forecastle hands. Now it was a most unfortunate thing for that shark that one of these same tender hands had, that very morning, lost a “hook pot” of fish off the range, through the kind services of some obliging shipmate. Hence revenge was the dominant feeling in that man’s breast. Electing himself butcher-in-chief, sharko’s spirit was soon gathered to his fathers.

A most devilish contrivance torpedo, electric wire, and all complete was invented by our torpedo officer for the accommodation of the next friendly shark. With this little affair safely stowed within his stomach, he would find his internal arrangements subject to sudden and unaccountable tension. Enough this to make the shark parliament pass a bill condemning all illicit grabbing.

April 20th. Off the east of Formosa, and during the middle watch, the ships of the squadron were caught aback in a sudden squall. There was a deuce of a commotion up aloft, sails flapping and splitting, ropes cracking, and blocks rattling till further orders. To establish order amongst these refractory things the hands were called. Next day the wind crept ahead and gradually freshened to what looked and felt extremely like a gale. The poor little “Foxhound” had a lively time of it, and proved herself unequal to such a buffetting. The “Curacoa” was signalled to take her in tow, and the two fell rapidly astern, and finally disappeared, to rejoin us about the third day afterwards. On May first the “Daring” parted company for Napa, the capital of Great Loo-Choo, our destination being Little Loo-Choo.

May 3rd. I don’t know if we do, but sailors ought to feel it a great privilege that they are enabled to see all the wonderful and varied sights so constantly surrounding them the many countries and people they come in contact with. Of all strange, out of the way, scarce heard of places, perhaps, Loo-Choo has been less subject to the visits of vandals from Europe than any. If I am correctly informed it is now close on thirty years since a ship of war put in to Little Loo-Choo, and certainly never before such a squadron as the present.

But two visits of consequence have taken place during the present century; that of Captain Maxwell in the “Alceste,” in 1817; and that of Commodore Perry, of the U.S. navy, in 1853; so that the little we do know of this ultima thule is derivable from these sources. Strangely enough, the two accounts are broadly opposed to each other. Captain Maxwell found the people gentle, simple, and courteous; possessed of no money, no arms, without police, or punishments; whilst the land, he said, was an earthly paradise. I have in my possession an old print entitled “the voyage of the ‘Alceste,’” written by the surgeon of that ship; and that part of it which refers to this visit is most pleasurable reading. The commodore, on the other hand, endeavours to shew many of Captain Maxwell’s eulogies to be erroneous. It is certain, says he, that the Loo-Chooans possess and understand the use of both money and arms; and that they have a very severe and cruel code of punishment. So far as we are able, let us judge which of the two descriptions comes nearest the truth.

The Loo-Choo group of islands lies in the North Pacific, and forms a semi-circle, extending from Japan to the island of Formosa. The inhabitants number under three millions, perhaps. The two principal islands of the group are known as Great and Little Loo-Choo. It is to the latter that the following remarks must be understood to refer. This island is almost intersected by a narrow arm of the sea reaching far, far away inland amongst the richly clad hills and mountains. This, according to the charts, is Hancock bay, up which we are steaming. Nature is looking her best as we pass, and wafting off to us her sweetest smells; a green summer mantle clothes every eminence and gentle slope; and the nestling villages have such a quiet, peaceful look, that it seems almost a pity to disturb them as we certainly shall from their dream-like repose. Each village possesses its water mill or mills, so that the natives are not entirely ignorant of mechanics.

Hundreds of canoes, of the rudest construction, crammed with men, women, and children, put off to us when we came to anchor. Though it is said they are of mixed Chinese and Aino origin; the people are of cast countenance, and style of dress peculiar to the Japanese; they have, however, a way of doing their hair, all their own. The men gather all theirs into a tuft at the poll, where it is secured with a silk marling, the extreme ends forming a sort of fringe, like a plume of feathers. The very fine, long, and glossy hair of the women is rolled jauntily on the top of the head in a loose spiral coil, resembling the volutes of a shell. Through this rather graceful head-dress they stick a long silver pin, in some cases a foot long.

They appear a very timid race. This is particularly noticeable on board. Whether it was because they saw none of their own sex amongst us, I know not; but I doubt if the women saw much of what they had come to see, as most of their time was passed in eclipse under their husbands’ lee, and whose hands they never once loosed from the time of entering the ship until they left us again. We treated them to sailors’ fare, allowing them the free run of our bread barges, and endeavoured all we could but without success to set them at their ease. They were all highly perfumed with the penetrating odour of garlic. I noticed that the married ladies, in common with Aino women, tattoo the backs of their hands, though not their mouths.

One king generally suffices a people, and even one is often found too much but this race tolerates three, or did until very recently; one of their own; the emperor of China, whom they call father; and the mikado of Japan, whom they style mother. To both their “parents” they pay an immense tribute, which annually absorbs two-thirds of their produce. It will be inferred from this that the condition of the lower classes is very unfavorable.

Since we have been on this station these islands have been a bone of contention, between China and Japan, as to which shall possess them; the old “father” and “mother” farce being recognised as played out by mutual consent. The Japs, in 1877, took the initiative, and sent an expedition to Napa, and forcibly made the native king prisoner; and before the Chinese were aware of what was taking place, the Japanese were administering the laws in all parts of the little kingdom, and gradually absorbing it into their empire. The question between the two nations is far from being settled yet, and may at any future time prove a casus belli.

The appearance of the houses on shore has given rise to not a little speculation. All that we are enabled to make out of them from the ship is a thatched roof raised about ten feet off the ground, and supported on four stout uprights. Can these be dwelling houses? On landing, and coming close up with them, we at once saw that whatever else they were intended for, they were not places of abode. Close under the admirably palm thatched roof is a strongly-made, tray-shaped floor, with a small locked door beneath the eaves. Such was their simple structure. After a little thought, we arrived at the conclusion that they must be granaries for the stowage of grain, possibly the government tribute houses, as they were of different design and vastly superior build to the mud and stick hovels in which the people live. In their surroundings the natives exhibit all the squalor and dirt of China, with none of the cleanlier qualities of the people of Japan. Though they followed us about in droves, they never attempted any familiarities; in fact our first overtures were treated with awe-like silence. The only words we understood, in common with them, were “tabac” and “Ya-pun” (Japan); indeed Japan is the beginning and end of their ideas their one standard of perfection. Everything they noticed about us watches, biscuit, the buttons on our clothing, our boots even were all qualified with the word “Ya-pun,” in a most admiring and reverential tone. Seemingly the Loo-Chooans have never heard of England, though on passing a school house wherein were about a score of children on their knees behind a similar number of box-like desks, one of the youngsters jumped up and shewed me an English spelling book!

We saw no money amongst them. They however recognised the Japanese silver yen, but more on account of the inscription on it than from any knowledge of its money value, I think. Buttons were eagerly sought after.

Their wants seem to be extremely few and simple; and being excellent agriculturists and expert fishers, the land and sea amply supply these demands. Their chief export is raw sugar. We noticed some women at rude looms engaged in manufacturing a coarse kind of cloth out of cocoa-nut fibre; but from its appearance most of their wearing apparel is of Japanese fabrication. The parents are very affectionate towards their children who, by the way, don’t trouble their mammas for more clothes than they were born in, until they are about seven or eight years old.

The earth teems with beautiful and profuse vegetation for the most part in a wild state. Magnificent convolvuluses and lilies, rare ferns of which I gathered, perhaps, as rare a collection amongst them two or three species of tree ferns, great raspberries and gooseberries; and a very arcadia of flowers, lovely objects all for the artist’s pencil.

The women seem devoid of that quality we so much admire in Englishwomen, and which is so rarely found beyond England’s shores the quality of modesty. It is rather embarrassing, for instance, whilst bathing to find your clothes which you had left on the beach the centre of an admiring and criticising crowd of ladies, handling and trying on each separate article of your rather intricate wardrobe, and wishing, no doubt, the owner would swim to shore and help them in their efforts. Such unaffected simplicity and ingenuousness is most refreshing to witness.

How extremely alike child nature is all over the world! Observing a little half-famished girl in a canoe alongside, I handed her a piece of jam tart through the port. At first she was at a loss what to do with it, but soon following out an universal law in such cases, she ventured to put it to her mouth. The result may be expected; for no matter how widely tastes differ, every child likes jam. It was real good to see the hearty way in which that copper-skinned maid smacked her tiny cherry lips, and looked her grateful thanks through her great lustrous almond eyes. With the intention, perhaps, of sharing the delicacy with her brothers and sisters, who shall say? she carefully wrapped up the remainder, and placed it inside her only garment. How often, dear reader, have you and I not done similarly at school feasts? Though this little Loo-Choo’s heart was willing, the flesh was weak; the parcel was again taken out, re-examined, and re-tasted but with evident reluctance till, finally, after a few ineffectual efforts to overcome selfishness, the whole was consumed.

It is satisfactory to be able to write that in their dealings with this simple people our men acted always with kindness and consideration; paying, or offering payment for it was generally refused for everything they had.

The arrival of the “Swift” with our mails was the signal for our departure from pleasant Loo-Choo.

Perhaps it may be remembered that just about this time English society at home seems to have undergone a mental crisis which, at one time, certainly threatened the fabric of its reason; and all about that absurd pachyderm “Jumbo.” Of course, more or less, any agitation emanating from home must in time reach Englishmen abroad; thus the “Jumbo” wave visited these seas, and day after day, week after week, it was nothing but “Jumbo.” You would have thought the whole ship’s company was sickening for elephantiasis. Some funny fellow in the squadron noticing this weakness, attached the name to our ship which, amongst the blue jackets at least, has entirely supplanted the original one. But this by the way.

Well, we reached Nagasaki without accident; coaled, and left for Kobe, south of Kiusiu with a rattling breeze fair abaft. All went smoothly until we arrived off Satano-Misaki, the southernmost point of Kiusiu. The word “Satano,” if it be, as is said, of Portuguese origin, needs no comment. Here the fine breeze forsook us, and left us in a flat and quite unexpected calm; for, generally speaking, in rounding this cape the reverse of calms is met with. To make matters still more unpleasant, a heavy ground swell began to set through the straits, and the squadron having fires drawn at the time we all found ourselves in the doldrums. Still, however, there was something of a current which had its effect on the ships, so that it was impossible to keep in anything like station. In this state of affairs the “Curacoa” drifted on top of the “Daring,” and cracked her up a bit, rendering extensive repairs to her absolutely necessary. She was despatched on to Kobe for this purpose.

After varying fortunes, now a calm anon a gale, we arrived at Kobe on June 3rd. This makes the sixth time during the commission we have touched at this place, and strange coincidence! on fives times out of the six we have anchored at noon, and have dined off that delightful compound, pea-soup, on entering the harbour.

Meanwhile the admiral and the “Swift” are away in Corea, negociating a treaty with that nation.

On reaching Yokohama we found our anticipated pleasures doomed to disappointment; for that yearly visitant, cholera, was holding high revel in the town, and doing pretty well just as it pleased. Nevertheless, the admiral arrived the previous day, and gave leave to the squadron until 9 p.m., with injunctions against visiting certain localities.

A few days subsequently we were joined by the “Cleopatra,” late of the flying squadron, but detached at Suez for service on this station. The “Comus,” meanwhile, is about to leave for the Pacific to replace the “Champion,” ordered to join our flag.

In spite of the precautions supposed to have been observed, cholera at length discovered itself in the fleet; and on the 27th June a case from the “Vigilant” and another from the “Encounter,” were conveyed to the hospital. At once further restrictions were placed on the leave, and though not absolutely stopped it was curtailed to sundown.

July 2nd. Resumed our cruise (now under the admiral) to the northward. The “Foxhound,” outside, was signalled to repair to Hong Kong, and the “Zephyr” ordered up to take her place. The “Foxhound” has shewn herself to be a most indifferent sailer and steamer, and not at all suited as a handy auxiliary to the squadron.

July 5th. Four years in commission to-day! Are we ever to hear anything of our relief? I think we shall be preparing for eventualities if we meditate a serious study of the Chinese and kindred languages to fit us for an indefinite stay in the far east. Have they forgotten us at home?

On the passage to Hakodadi the “Cleopatra” and “Curacoa” each lost a poor fellow, of cholera. Thus it is evident had we not cleared out of Yokohama when we did the epidemic might have taken alarming hold on the squadron.

We have left Hakodadi, and are now cruising up the gulf of Tartary to as far north as our first year’s round. Passing by Dui we braced sharp up, encountering, with double reefs, a strong wind and heavy sea for the sixty miles stretch across to Castries bay, making that anchorage in a dense fog. Hence we recrossed to Dui, coaled, and continued southward to Barracouta harbour. For the future this anchorage will possess a melancholy interest for the “Cleopatra;” for, a day before sailing, the squadron was startled to hear that a shocking and fatal occurrence had happened to an officer of that ship, who was unfortunately shot through the inadvertent discharge of a fowlingpiece. He was an officer much beloved by the ship’s company.

August 12th. A day’s sail from Vladivostock we fell in with the “Champion,” one of the “Curacoa” class. I suppose, from her appearance, black must be the uniform of the Pacific station, a color which looks confessedly proper and ship-shape, but one which our admiral will not allow on any account.

On arriving at Vladivostock, scraping operations were commenced on her, and by the following morning early her crew had greeted us with “Good-bye, ‘Jumbo,’” which they had erased in great straggling letters along one broadside.

Our last mails, brought up by the “Zephyr,” have narrowly escaped total destruction at least such might have been the fate of one of them; for the steamer conveying it to Yokohama struck on a rock in the Inland Seas, and foundered the mails being immersed for so long a period that when our letters reached us they were reduced to what Sala would call an “epistolary pulp.” But no news came of the “Audacious,” only what the poor mothers and wives say.

August 24th. For the first time during our already long commission we are about to make an acquaintance with the “hermit kingdom” that, I believe, is what one writer calls Corea. Japan has for a number of years held a sort of quasi intercourse with this country, and has even gone so far as to send an embassy to the court at Seoul, and to establish two or three settlements along the coast within the last two years. But the Coreans, taking their cue from their suzerain, China, have ever looked with a jealous eye on the Japanese and any other foreign relations. However, China’s Bismarck, the astute Li-hung-Chang, has recently altered his tactics, and is now as anxious that Corea should enter into the community of nations as he was before, that it should stand outside; thus, when our admiral, at the beginning of the recent treaty, solicited the prime minister’s aid it was readily given; for, argued he, what Corea, concedes to foreigners surely China has a right to demand.

Since we have been on this station two countries have attempted to enter into treaty relations with Corea the “Vittor Pinani,” for Italy, in 1880, and Commodore Shufeldt, for America, in the “Ticonderego,” in the same year; but both, I believe, have resulted in failure the first because, instead of the Italians calling China to their aid, they relied too much on the mediations of Japan, a nation whom the Coreans mortally detest: and the second because, though Li-hung-Chang was the medium, Corea, whilst admitting her inferiority to China, claimed equality with America, or with any other of the great civilized powers.

Of course no European nation is willing to concede so much; hence, for the present, that treaty is annulled. It remains to be seen if ours is a more honorable one or not.

At present Corea is in a state bordering on anarchy. Sundry rumours have reached us recently of some disturbance south. So far as I am able to glean, this is what is actually occurring. The late king dying without issue, his adopted son, the present king, ascended the throne. During his minority his father acted as regent a position the latter found to suit him so well that, by-and-by, when his son became of age he refused to abdicate the throne in favor of its lawful occupant, threw off all semblance of allegiance, and assumed a high-handed and arrogant bearing, especially exhibited towards the queen and her family, with whom the regent was at bitter feud. To compass their destruction was then his first care, and he openly declared to the mutinous palace guard that their grievances would not be redressed until they had compassed the queen’s death. He even suggested to them how they were to set about it nay, even offered to aid them. On a certain night during last July, and according to previous arrangement, the soldiers repaired to the palace, shouting “the queen, death to the queen.” That innocent lady, turning to her unnatural father-in-law, asked what the shouting meant and what the people wanted of her? and he, pretending to advise her for her good, told her that rather than live to be outraged by the soldiers it was better she should die by her own hand, at the same time placing a cup of poison before her, which she in her extremity actually drank, sharing it with her son’s wife, a girl only eleven years old. The king was compelled to seek safety in flight, and according to last accounts is still in hiding.

The regent, now left master of the situation, next turned the people against the Japanese embassy, of whom there were twenty-eight in all. The subsequent adventures of this little band of brave men reads more like a page of a romance than a fact of to-day’s occurrence. After fighting their way through immense odds crossing rivers in open boats amidst flights of stones and arrows lying down to rest, to find themselves, on awaking, surrounded by a revengeful and infuriated people they at length reached the shore to find no junk or vessel of sufficient size to convey them across the narrow sea to their own country. Driven to face their enemies on the very verge of the ocean, they eventually succeeded in retreating to some small boats in which, wounded and bleeding, but all alive, they confided themselves to the sea, as being more merciful than their relentless and cruel foe. All this, I say, savours of the romantic. Fortunately for the poor worn-out voyagers help was at hand, for soon H.M.S. “Flying Fish” hove in sight, on board which they were kindly received, and brought to Nagasaki.

These stirring events have actually occurred whilst we have been lying quietly at anchor, in Gen San and Chosan. Under such a state of affairs, who shall predict the fate of Admiral Willes’ treaty?

I trust I may be pardoned for being thus prolix; but surely, we who are actually on the scene of events ought not to be more ignorant of what is going on in our immediate neighbourhood than our friends who are so many thousands of miles removed from it.

I cannot say much of the Coreans, for, in the first place, the usual sources of information are almost silent on the subject, there being about only one reliable English work on Corea; and secondly we have no means, had we the desire, to study this people, who are so jealous of their women that they wont allow you to approach within a mile of their dwellings. On one occasion I remember I sought, for the purposes of this present narrative, to set aside this prohibition, and feigning ignorance of it I penetrated to the outskirts of a village, when half-a-dozen big fellows rushing up to me, and gesticulating, I thought it advisable to “boom off.” However, I saw what I had ventured thus far to see, notwithstanding one of their women; but I am afraid an ugly specimen of the sex. So far does this feeling prevail that they would not permit even our admiral’s lady to satisfy a woman’s curiosity about women; though the chief of the village did condescend to allow her to sit beside him on his mat, and even went so far as to offer her a smoke of his pipe.

One of the accounts of their origin is peculiar. A certain beautiful goddess once descended from the celestial regions and sojourned in Corea. But it would appear that she left her hat behind, for shortly after arrival she received a sun-stroke, which caused her to lay an egg of abnormal size, out of which there stepped minerva-like a full blown Corean of gigantic stature. This young fellow, in one of his incursions into the mountains, one day returned to his mamma with a beautiful white-skinned maid whom he had picked up in a fairy bower. His mother was not at all pleased so the story goes with this maid of earth, and made it so hot for her that in a fit of rage the son, whom she had hatched with such tender solicitude, slew her. Remorseful at the deed, he swore that henceforth a similar misfortune should never again occur to any man; hence the seclusion of the women. I need scarcely add that from this stalwart first Corean and his pale bride all the present race is descended.

The mandarin at Gen San came on board, attended with great ceremony flags, banners, pennons, soldiers, and trumpeters, in boat loads; the latter gentlemen being furnished with brass instruments, such as angels are usually depicted with, but which can be made to shut up like a telescope to vary the music. The men are certainly a fine race tall and upright as an arrow, and rather intelligent looking than otherwise. They wear long coarsely-fabricated, white cotton garments, split up behind, in front and on the hips all tails in fact; but the great national peculiarity seems to be the hats, some made of bamboo, others of horse hair, of very delicate net or gauze work, and shaped like a reversed flower pot with a rim attached. Its purpose cannot be to keep the head warm, to protect it from the rain, or to answer any other purpose to which a hat may be applied: for instance you could not get a drink of water by means of it, nor would it serve as a pillow. The ordinary color of these hats is black, but in consequence of the queen’s demise they now don a white one white being, as in China, the symbol of mourning. Some who cannot afford, or have not the inclination, to purchase a white one, paste a patch of white paper over the crown of the black one which answers the purpose just as well.

They betray a weakness for rum, and a knowledge of the vessels in which it is usually issued on board a man-of-war, scarcely credited of a people who have so few means of acquiring such familiarity. But so it is, and if noses can be accepted as indices of truth in such matters, something stronger than water has been used in tinting them.

The soldiers of the party presented the appearance of guys, rather than men of “fight.” What do you say to a mixed uniform of pink and light blue glazed calico, over dingy under-garments of impossible analysis, and a mushroom hat of the coarsest felt, with the distinguishing red horse hair attached to the crown; wooden shot and powder pouches of the roughest and rudest make slung across the shoulders by a piece of thin cord? And such shot! irregular pellets of raw iron and lead, of which all I can say is that dying by such help would be far from an aesthetic operation. And yet these same soldiers, as a mere pastime, are employed in a service which requires no mean bravery. When not fighting the two-legged enemies of their country, they are engaged waging war against the four-legged ones, their land being infested with tigers of great size and strength.

In the evening the local mandarin sent a present of fruits, fowls, eggs, vegetables, and a pig, to the admiral. “Dennis,” however, made a terrible fuss at the prospect of being converted into a toothsome dish for the sailors, and sent up such a squeal, in choicest pig-Corean piercing, prolonged, torturing that the band was compelled to cease, in the midst of the most pathetic part of “La Traviata,” out of respect of his superior music.

As the ladies of this country are for ever immured within the four mud walls of their houses, the men have usurped a right generally conceded to females, namely, that of indicating by some sign their state in life married or single. The married men do their hair up in a knot at the top of the head; those who have not yet seen the girl they like better than themselves wear theirs in a loose trace behind; whilst some others who have successfully passed through both states, and are quite willing to try it again for marriage amongst them is honorable and universal, as in China indicate this desire by donning a sort of skull cap. I thought it not a little curious that the men, and not the women, should take the initiative in this matter. Men, in general, after having committed a mistake, don’t like to admit it.

After Gen-San we moved a little further south to Chosan, where, scarce had we anchored, when the arrival of a small steamer threw the whole squadron into violent commotion. She had been chartered either by Sir Thomas Wade or Sir Harry Parkes expressly to convey despatches to the admiral what the subject was none of us could even guess, though it subsequently leaked out that a disturbance of some sort had broken out at Foo-Choo. The “Zephyr” was at once signalled to raise steam; and all the admiral’s staff were warned to hold themselves in readiness to turn over to the “Vigilant” on the following day. Next morning the admiral sailed, preceded by the “Cleopatra” by a few hours, and followed by the “Swift.”

September 12th. We are now at Port Hamilton, and drawing towards the end of our cruise. The “Vigilant” came in this morning with Mrs. Willes on board to witness the regatta got up for the squadron. It was a success in every way especially so to the crew of our first cutter; in fact a more than average share of prizes fell to “Jumbo.” I quote the flag borne by our boats (arms, an elephant passant-argent; motto, “Jumbo"). The sailing races were to have come off the following day, but at daybreak it was blowing so hard, and the barometer falling so rapidly, that a second anchor had to be dropped. On the gale increasing cable was veered; and it went on increasing until a third anchor was let go.

The third day came in fine, with a breeze all that could be desired. To prevent loss of time, and to simplify matters, all the boats, of no matter what race, started at once. It was a pretty sight to witness this mosquito fleet clapping on sail after sail balloons, outriggers, skyjibs, and other extraordinary bits of duck. Our second cutter under the joint control of the commander and Mr. Alexander, midshipman went around in splendid style, the manoeuvring of Mr. Alexander being beyond all praise. She came in first, and carried off the admiral’s cup. The whaler was managed equally well by Mr. Patey, and came in an excellent second.

This regatta brought the cruise practically to an end, though each ship has to repair to Chefoo for provisions, independently of the other.

On the passage we ran against something dirty, which succeeded in whipping our main-topsail clean off the yard, and left it dangling by the starboard sheet, at the lower yard-arm; and as misfortunes don’t happen singly, the jib made most energetic and partially successful efforts to hang up beside it. It did not reach quite so far aft as that, but it did manage to coil itself around the fore yard arm. Such a terrific squall we have never encountered before. And such lightning and rain! who ever saw the like?

But joyful news was awaiting us at Chefoo. Mr. Robinson, in fulfilment of a promise he made on leaving us at Nagasaki, telegraphed the welcome, long-expected intelligence that the “Audacious” commissioned on the 5th instant.

And now, dear shipmates, I must leave you, and I do so at once regretfully and joyfully; regretfully, that I have to bid farewell to what has given me not a little pleasure to write; joyfully, that I have as I would fain hope been enabled to bring my narrative to a successful termination. If any of you are disappointed that I have not pursued it further, think how necessary it was that my manuscript should be in the printer’s hands as speedily as possible. I thought no more opportune ending could have offered itself to me than the telegram before quoted.

If “In Eastern Seas” shall have in the slightest degree contributed one pleasure to you or your friends, or shall be the humble instrument of calling to your mind some pleasant memories of the commission, I shall indeed feel amply rewarded for any little trouble I may have been put to in helping you to such pleasure or to such memories.

We have seen many lands together, many and strange peoples, much that is delightful beyond description in this, our beautiful world; but, after all, one feels his soul filled with enthusiasm at the thought that he is an Englishman, though he may be but a sailor. Persons at home scarcely realise what an inheritance that is.

In conclusion, may we all find happy homes; happy mothers, wives, sisters, and sweethearts, all the more willing to treasure us because we have been loyal to them for such a long, long time. I don’t drink as you know but I don’t mind cracking a bottle of lemonade to the future success in life, and happiness of all my late, much-respected, shipmates. God bless them all.