페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

hibition of pleasure or resentment. The hopes , intelligence that he has a subject in hand. And, of fame have been crushed, the ardor with which considering that two medical students are enthey once contended for prizes is quenched. They titled only to five subjects as they delicately have reached the summit of their art-destiny ; call them- per annum between them, it will be and every attempt to soar higher has failed. There seen that to be in actual possession of one of these they sit upon their little deal stools, with shabby, is to be in luck's way entirely. “We have two dirty paint boxes beside them, wielding huge bodies and a half each,” said a ghastly little student pallets, and adding their browns and greens with to us one day, as he handed us the biscuit de mechanical industry. So do some old ladies, Rheims, which represented our dessert on the who wear spectacles, and a dingy costume, and occasion. It was fortunate that the subject who appear to have been at work in the same rapidly changed to one of punch. To get up a manner for forty or fifty years.

punch party is, in the estimation of the student, The male copyists are a motley race. Some a highly pleasant way of finishing an idle mornare finished dandies, others are the most slovenly ing; and it is amusing to watch the excitement fellows it is possible to imagine ; some have with which the diners who drop in to the table their hair beautifully brushed and pomatumed, d'hôte are requested to add their fifteen sous to and sport shining coats, apparently worn for the the punch subscription, A sufficient number of first time: others are in greasy, threadbare gar- contributors having been obtained, the best availments, adopt the negligent style of coiffure, and able rooms are selected, and the contractor for are not sufficiently ostentatious to wash hands or the entertainment proceeds to buy three or four face very frequently. It may be perhaps noticed pounds of lump sugar, two or three bottles of that the latter are, generally, better artists than brandy, a bottle of Kirsch water, one of rum, a the well-pomatumed copyists. One very dandi- heap of biscuits, and a huge baba! These matefiod old gentleman who attends the gallery may rials are arranged upon the mantelpiece of the be remarked for the care with which he envelopes room selected for the entertainment; the guests his arms up to the elbows in black satin bags, assemble, each man bringing his own tumbler to preserve his coat from contact with paint or from his own washing-stand; two or three walk varnishes.

up and down learning off songs from bits of paper, The student's idle day is spent altogether near with an excited air; and the landlady sends up a the Panthéon. There are many cafés at hand, message, declaring that she will not allow any where, when he is tired of the pictures and the singing on the part of messieurs les locataires gardens of the Luxembourg, he may have his after eleven o'clock. This message is received absinthe or his billiards : or there are cabinets with shouts of derision; the young fellows skip where he can have his two sous worth of popular about the ponch bol (which is the French-Enliterature. But he is possibly not inclined even glish for a common brown earthenware pan); for the lightest reading, and strolls back to the examine the contents of the bottles; and stop nourriture simple et fortifiante : which he enjoys every man who begins a song, by declaring that at his hotel, together with his lodging, for about he is anticipating the entertainment. Then the four dollars per week. The simplicity of the food master of the ceremonies opens the proceedings to be had at a student's hotel, at this price, is as by making a kettleful of green tea over a spirit questionable, perhaps, as its fortifying qualities. lamp. This accomplished, he half fills the bowl Yet, at dinner, it includes two or three dishes, a with sugar; then empties a bottle of brandy and dessert of course, and wine. But then a cauli- a considerable quantity of rum upon it. The next flower is a course in itself, and a tea-spoonful of proceeding is to light the spirit. This accomjelly supports, unaided, the dignity of a dessert. plished, all the candles are extinguished, and to Still the student is gay at his dinner; and will the glare of the blue flame from the punch bowl, get up, between the courses, with one of his com- which mounts a considerable height, the wild panions, dance a polka round the table, and re- young fellows open their concert. As they sume his seat. He eats his simple and fortifying gesticulate and shout about the bowl, they look fare, laughing at it all the time. Perhaps this like the burlesque demons, blue and tinseled, laughter helps his digestion. We remember the which are the delight of children in the opening ecstasies with which a young fellow was one day of a Christmas pantomime. Their songs are received at dinner, who had returned from the chiefly laments over the degenerate days of the Longchamps fair in the Champs Elysées, with old Quartier Latin. the intelligence that there was a living skeleton The punch having burned for about three quarexhibiting there, who, he said, had been brought ters of an hour, is ladled out to the guests; pipes up at a student's hotel, on nourriture simple et are lighted ; and lively conversation is carried on. fortifiante. On another occasion the production Suddenly it is suggested that the hour for dancing of an omelette au rhum caused a great sensation has arrived. The door of an adjoining room is at the same student's hotel: the wild guests skip thrown open, disclosing an apartment regularly ping round the table, shouting, as they pointed cleared for a polka. A stranger instantly wonto the effort of culinary genius, “ Ah ! Quel ders where the ladies are coming from; but he is lure !What a luxury !

soon relieved from any doubt by an invitation The dinner conversation is interspersed gener- from one of the young men to dance with him. ally with medical and legal anecdotes. One gen- The night is warm; the windows are thrown tleman excuses his absence from a party by the open; the students remove their coats ; and then, to the fiddle of a fellow-student, dance a quadrille , caught are small but stoutly built, formed to reamong themselves. The quadrille is followed by sist some degree of bad weather, and having, al a polka; and then the second bowl of punch is most invariably, excellent sailing qualities. The lighted—this time a bowl of Kirsch punch. Then latter, indeed, is a necessary qualification in a the great cake or baba is cut up and demolished, vessel intended for this business, as the success amidst practical jokes, usually played in England of a voyage, in many instances, depends on a by children not exceeding the age of twelve. And vessel getting to a certain place, where fish have then follow songs; and eau-de-vie de Dantzig ; been discovered, an hour sooner or later. The and romping; and the usual consequences of crew, consisting of from eight to twenty hands, punch. With a light song, however, and a steady according to the size of the vessel, are not paid a candlestick, the gay fellows skip off to bed, push-salary, but have a community of interest, all uniting and playing practical jokes upon one another, ing to pay the expenses incurred for provisions, as they run up the broad staircase of the hotel. etc., the vessel's share, the captain's percentage,

etc., the remainder of the catch being divided in HOW MACKEREL ARE CAUGHT. the exact proportion which each man's original M ACKEREL fishing affords a livelihood to a catch bears to that of the rest. The captain is 11 large number of the hardiest inhabitants of generally an old and experienced fisherman, and our northeastern Atlantic shores. The fishery on him devolve the cares and responsibilities of is pursued in small vessels of from thirty to one finding and keeping the run of the mackerel, hundred and twenty tons, and invariably of the keeping the reckoning of the vessel, ordering and “ schooner” rig, that is, having two masts, and superintending the making and taking in sail, go“ fore and aft” sails. The business commences ing into harbor, etc. He has, however, no digin the latter part of March, when the mackerel nity, but receives obedience only from the acfirst return to our coasts from their winter's ab- knowledged principle that every well-regulated sence in more southern waters, and lasts until household should have a head. A mackerel the end of November. At that time the fish- vessel is indeed as complete a little republic as and of course their pursuers also have made the one could well find, ability being the only criteentire circuit of our eastern coast, from the capes rion of merit, and one's "standing in society" of Delaware, off which they are first seen in early being regulated pretty much by his usefulness to spring, to the extreme borders of Maine and the the community, that is, by his skill as a fisherbays of British America, and back again as far man. as the headland of Cape Cod. Thence the fish The total number of American vessels employ-about Thanksgiving Day--take their final de- ed in this fishery is somewhat over eighteen hunparture for their as yet undiscovered winter quar dred. Fully one third of this number are owned ters. All attempts made by enterprising fisher- in Cape Ann, where a large amount of capital is men to follow the mackerel after they leave the invested in fisheries of various kinds. The greatCape” have hitherto proved utterly futile, every er part of the Cape Ann fleet has for some years trace of the vast school which annually congre past resorted to the Bay Chaleur, and the waters gates there being invariably lost within fifty miles surrounding Prince Edward's Island for, its fair of the south shoals of Nantucket. Many differ of fish, Here their success has, as is known, ent surmises have been offered to account for raised the envy of the colonists, who, in the vertheir sudden disappearance, and various theories itable dog-in-the-manger spirit, religiously prestarted, by those curious in such matters, to ex-served by these devoted adherents to Old Fogyplain the why and wherefore of the eccentric mo- dom, have petitioned their government to forbid tions of a school of mackerel. But the matter is the further encroachments of enterprising Brother apparently just as much in the dark as ever, and Jonathan on these vast preserves, which, howtheir disappearance about Thanksgiving time re ever, they themselves have not sufficient entermains as much a subject for speculation as the prise to use. similar annual disappearance of swallows. Many, Of the balance of the mackerel fleet three-fourths wise in such matters, think that the fish, after is owned on various parts of Cape Cod, and the leaving our coast, lie at the bottom of the sea, in remainder in the many little harbors scattered comparatively shoal water, in a state of stupefac-along our eastern coast. The Bay Chaleur fleet tion, until the return of warm weather; others is, of course, entirely separated from the rest, suppose that they emigrate to warmer latitudes, which follow up the mackerel frequenting our where they swim deep beneath the surface, in coast more particularly. These latter form a order to keep themselves in a temperature suited fleet of from six hundred to a thousand vessels, to their nature ; and many old fishermen devoutly cruising in one vast body, and spreading over believe that after leaving us they are, somehow, many miles of water, and keeping up a constant changed into fish of an entirely different species, although silent and imperceptible communication, and are met with in the tropical seas as albicores, by means of incessant watching with good spybonita, etc. All that we know on the subject is glasses, which is so complete that a vessel at one that those which leave us at the beginning of end of the fleet can not have mackerel " alongwinter are of moderate size, but very fat; while side," technically speaking, five minutes, before those which return in the spring are large, ex- every vessel in a circle, the diameter of which may tremely poor, and ravenously hungry.

be ten miles, will be aware of the fact, and every The vessels in which the fish are pursued and man of the ten thousand composing their crews will be engaged in spreading to the wind every clothing, comforters, and the sundry other appliavailable stitch of canvas to force each little bark ances in vogue among fishermen and sailors, to as quickly as possible into close proximity to the exclude salt water, and include comfort. This coveted prize. And then commences the trial of done, I took passage in a little schooner bound to speed. Then the best helmsman is called to the Cape, and was soon merrily gliding up the steer, and every eye watches the sails, to see crowded waters of the East River, with favoring that they draw well, and every hand is ready to wind and tide. At noon we passed through Hurljump to remedy any defect. Then is the anxious gate, that dread of the sturdy Dutch settler, who moment for fishermen, for they see spread out whilom saw in its whirling eddies, impetuous curbefore them a vast school of fish, in the midst of rents, and roaring breakers, the angry struggles which lie the few favored vessels which have suc-of many demons, eager to swallow up his frail bark ceeded in raising them, and are now reaping a and himself. Thanks to the science of Professor golden harvest. This is indeed the most exciting Maillefert, and the liberality of our great Uncle scene in the experience of a mackerel catcher. Samuel, the worst of the dangers attending the It happened some years since that “the fleet" passage of this strait are now removed, and had, upon occasion of an approaching storm, gone Hurlgate is divested of its terrors to the coasting into the harbor of Cape Ann. After lying there skipper. A strong breeze and favoring tides two days the weather moderated and became fine, urged us quickly past the beautiful shore of Long and the fleet got under way very early one morn- Island, and midnight already saw us nearing the ing. The first little squad of about a dozen ves- eastern extremity of “the Sound," and in plain sels, who were probably the most eager fisher- sight of Block Island Light, beacon of joy to many men, had about forty minutes' start of the main a tempest-tossed, voyage-wearied whaleman, who body of the fleet. They had hardly got well in it sees the first glimmering of a near approach clear of the land before they “struck" mackerel, to home with all its happiness. The morning and at once "hove to" and never got under way found us passing the group denominated the again until their decks were filled the fish biting Elizabethan Isles, and gliding rapidly by Tarpauall the time as fast as possible. In the mean lin Cove, Holmes' Hole, and the Shoals. At 11 time the balance of the fleet had just time to get o'clock A.m. we were safely moored in the little to the entrance of the harbor, and in plain sight harbor whence I was to start on my fishing exof their fortunate companions, when it fell a dead pedition. calm; and they were actually forced to lie there, After a stay of a few days on shore, I took mywithin three or four miles of a vast school of fish, self and luggage on board a smart-looking little without feeling a bite. Could any one imagine clipper, the Mary H., which had been in want of any thing more tantalizing than such a situation? a hand. Taking advantage of a favoring wind,

The fish are caught with hook and line, each we were soon on our way to join the fleet, which fisherman using two lines. When hauled on was at the time cruising off the Isles of Shoals, board they are “struck" off by a peculiarly quick away down East." My short stay on shore did motion of the right hand and arm, into a “strike not give me as many opportunities as I wished for, barrel" standing behind and a little to the right and afterward had, of observing the general habof its proprietor. The same motion which leaves its of the people while on shore, and the nature the mackerel in the barrel also suffices to project of the country in which they grow up. It sufthe hook (which has a little pewter run on its ficed, however, to convince me that the Cape is shank) back into the water, and the fisherman not the most pleasant spot on the surface of our immediately catches up his other line, going globe. The face of the country affords a not overthrough the same manœuvre with it. So raven- agreeable diversity of views, consisting of sand ously do the fish bite, that a barrel full is some- hills and salt water marshes, scrub oaks and times caught in fifteen minutes by a single man. stunted pines, the ground-work and filling-up of

The bait used to entice them alongside, and the picture being sand, the abundance of which keep them there afterward, consists of a mixture amply entitles the country to the name bestowed of clams, and a little fish known by the eupho- upon it by a late traveler, “the Great Desert of nious name of “ porgies.” The last are seined Cape Cod.” The people evidently place greater in great quantities every summer in the mouth of value upon articles of utility than of luxury, are the Connecticut river, and the adjacent waters, very shrewd, even to the little children, good caland are used by farmers as manure for their land, culators, and are noted far and wide for their as well as by mackerel catchers as bait. This bait smartness and enterprise, which almost invariably is ground up fine in a mill provided on board for insure them success in any pursuit in which they the purpose, and is then thrown out on the water. embark, and without which it seems to me they It sinks to the depth at which the fish lie, when would fare but poorly on so sterile a soil as they they, in their eagerness for it, follow it up until possess. they get alongide the vessel, when they bite in- Detained by calms and head winds, we get discriminately at bait or naked hook.

| along but slowly on our way down East. The Almost any kind of fishing is likely to be rather monotony of our life is occasionally broken into by damp work. My first care, therefore, after having a short conversation with some homeward-bound made up my mind to "go a-fishing," was to pro- fishermen, whose news from the fleet makes us vide myself with a plentiful supply of flannels, anxious to be with them. The arrangement of mittens, stockings, sea-boots, sou’-westers, oil our fish-gear, in which true fishermen, as is well known, are very particular, keeps all hands em- | us that we are too wide apart for speaking purployed. Lines are measured, towed out, stretch-poses. ed, and put on the rail; pigs are cast, and filed, and Standing a little further on, into the thickest polished into shapes to suit the fancies of their part of the fleet, we too, about nine o'clock, haul owners; cleats are najled up, on which to coil the down our mainsail and jibs, and, leaving one man lines when not in use; splitting knives are ground, on deck as look-out, go down below to prepare by gib-tubs got ready, and all the numerous para a sound sleep for the labors of to-morrow. phernalia of a fishing smack are brought into At early daybreak we “turn out” and make readiness for instant use,

sail. Although yet too dark to distinguish the At sunset on the sixth day we sight a few of the numerous fleet in whose midst we have taken our advance vessels of the fleet, and a little breeze place, our ears are saluted on all sides by the ratspringing up at the same time, we have the satis- tle of ropes, the creak of blocks, and rustling of faction of beholding before retiring to rest the vast canvas, and we are conscious that ten thousand fleet of vessels spread out before us, their in- men are actively employed around us, at the same numerable lights glistening upon the smooth ex- moment, in the same work, and preparing for simpanse of ocean, and dancing solemnly up and | ilar duties and labors. down on the great swell which the Atlantic ever As the day breaks fairly a grand spectacle keeps up, and much more resembling the vessels bursts upon our view. The sky is clear, and the in a vast naval panorama than a scene of real life. sun, as he rises above the eastern horizon, gilds There is something solemn and thought-inspiring with his rays the sails of a thousand vessels, as in a scene like this, at all events to a thinking they lie spread out upon the mirror-like surface person, who for the first time witnesses it. The of the sea. And now our crew begin looking for entire stillness which reigns by night over this acquaintances among the vessels, and my astonvast aquatic town, the absence of all noise, except ishment is unbounded at hearing them name vesthe continual faint roar of the swell, the sorrow sels distant from a quarter of a mile to six or ful creaking of the rigging, and the solitary "sug” seven miles, and that with perfect certainty of of the vessel's bow, as she falls into the trough their correctness. To such perfection has pracof the sea; the bare poles of the distant vessels tice trained the vision of these men, that notwiththrown in vivid, almost unnatural relief against standing mackerel catchers are scrupulously rigthe sky; the crazy motion of the little barks, as ged alike, the crew would point out not only they are tossed about at the mercy of the waves, vessels with which they were acquainted, but also having scarce steerage way; the lonely-looking tell the hailing-places of many that they had never light on the mast, seeming to be the spirit which seen before. As an “Old Salt," I prided myself has entire charge of the hull beneath; the absence not a little on my expertness in detecting differof all life where but a short time ago all was life ences in rig or build, but was obliged here to give and bustle; all this contrasted so strangely with my art up as completely beaten. For where I the lively appearance of the vessels by day, as could not detect the slightest distinguishing charthey skim rapidly over the waters, their great acteristic, the experienced eyes of one of my compiles of snow-white canvas gleaming gayly in the panions would at one glance reveal the whole hissun, and their crews moving merrily about decks, tory of the vessel in question, and would enable as to make me almost doubt that there were in him to tell, with a certainty which scarcely ever fact in the shapeless masses drifting past us, failed, the place where she was built, where righither and thither, at the mercy of wind and wave, ged, and where at present owned. This wondermen stout and able, who had often battled for their ful faculty is the result of keen eyes and long exlives with the same old Ocean upon whose bosom perience, and is found nowhere else in such perthey were now so placidly reposing.

fection as among American fishermen. But here is one, rolling toward us,

And now we are all under way and going, close“As silent as a painted ship, upon a painted ocean," hauled to the wind, in a northerly direction. See, and seemingly just as likely to hit us as not. We the headmost vessel of the fleet is in stays. There will hail him.

the next one tacks. Little squads of half-a-dozen “ Schooner ahoy!” hails our captain.

now follow suit, and in fifteen minutes the whole “ Hillo!” is answered by a tall figure which feet is on the other tack, standing to the westnow rises from a reclining posture on the com- ward. And so we go all day, working to the panion-hatch.

windward as fast as the light breeze will bear us “How many mackerel did you get to-day?" along. Every once in a while some one heaves “ About twenty wash-barrels, mostly large.” to and tries for mackerel. But mackerel wont “ Did the fleet do any thing?"

bite well, in general, on such a day as this, and “Some of them lay still a good while, and I this day we don't see a live one at all. The utguess had pretty good fishing."

most harmony of sentiment seems to prevail Here some of our crew mutter out a weak im- among this large fleet, the unity of action being precation upon the weather, which has prevented as complete as though working by signal at the us from joining the fleet before. Our friend hails commands of some commodore. It is just the us

same in going into port, or in changing the cruis“ Are you just from home?"

ing ground. They all go together. But with “Yes; all well there.”—And the faint sound all this they have no organized head or leader, of the waves as they surge under his bows tells but each captain acts as seems to him best. There

seems, however, at all times to be a remarkable captain, you haul back too savagely!” With the unanimity of sentiment among all hands. first movement of the captain's arm indicating the

Mackerel go in large schools, one of which presence of fish, every body rushes madly to the contains fish enough, if all caught, to fill up every rail, and jigs are heard on all sides plashing into vessel in a flect. But, vast as such a body is, it the water, and eager hands and arms are stretchoccupies but a very small space in the oceaned at their full length over the side, feeling anxwhich supports it. A school of fish therefore is iously for a nibble. to be searched out much as one would look for a “Sh-hish-there's something just passed my needle in a haystack-unwearying patience and fly-I felt him," says an old man standing alongdetermination being qualifications as necessary side of me. to constitute a successful fisherman as to make “Yes, and I've got him," triumphantly shouts one a fortunate searcher for needles. In hunting out the next man on the other side of him, haulmackerel, a large fleet, spreading over an exten- ing in as he speaks a fine mackerel, and striking sive area of “ground," and throwing much bait, him off into his barrel in the most approved style. is much more likely to raise a school than a sin- 2-2-zip goes my line through and deep gle vessel or small squad, and this is the reason into my poor fingers, as a huge mackerel rushes why “the fleet" is a permanency in mackereling. savagely away with what he finds is not so great

Toward evening the vind goes down, the sky a prize as he thought it. I get confoundly fluris overcast by white clouds, and the weather be- ried, miss stroke half a dozen times in hauling in comes a pea-jacket colder. Having found no fish as many fathoms of line, and at length succeed all day, we take in sail early, see every thing in landing my first fish safely in my barrel, where clear for a “ fish-day” to-morrow, and, all but the he flounders away "most melodiously" as my watch (one man) go to bed about eight o'clock. neighbor says. At midnight, when I am called up out of my warm And now it is fairly daylight, and the rain, bed to stand an hour's watch, I find the vessel which has been threatening all night, begins to pitching uneasily, and hear the breeze blowing pour down in right earnest. And as the heavy fitfully through the naked rigging, and going on drops patter on the sea the fish begin to bite fast deck perceive that both wind and sea havo “got and furiously. up" since we retired to rest. The sky looks low- “Shorten up,” says the skipper, and we ering, and the clouds are evidently surcharged shorten in our lines to about eight feet from the with rain. In fine the weather, as my predeces- rail to the hooks, when we can jerk them in just sor on watch informs me, bears every sign of an as fast as we can move our hands and arms. excellent fish-day on the morrow. I accordingly " Keep your lines clear," is now the word, as grind some bait, sharpen up my hooks once more, the doomed fish flip faster and faster into the see my lines clear, and my heaviest jigs (the barrels standing to receive them. Here is one technical term for hooks with pewter run on greedy fellow already casting furtive glances bethem), on the rail ready for use, and at one hind him, and calculating in his mind how many o'clock return to my comfortable bunk. I am fish he will have to lose in the operation of getting soon again asleep, and dreaming of hearing fire- his second strike-barrel. bells ringing, and seeing men rush to the fire; | Now you hear no sound except the steady flip and just as I see “the machine" round the cor- of fish into the barrels. Every face wears an ner of the street, am startled out of my propriety, expression of anxious determination; every body my dream, sleep, and all, by the loud cry of « Fish moves as though by springs; every heart beats ho !" I start up desperately in my narrow bunk, loud with excitement, and every hand hauls in bringing my cranium in violent contact with a fish and throws out hooks with a methodical beam overhead, which has the effect of knocking precision, a kind of slow haste, which unites the me flat down in my berth again. After recover- greatest speed with the utmost security against ing as much consciousness as is necessary to ap- fouling lines. preciate my position, I roll out of bed, jerk sav. And now the rain increases. We hear jibs agely at my boots, and snatching up my cap and rattling down; and glancing up hastily, I am pea-jacket, make a rush at the companion-way, surprised to find our vessel surrounded on all up which I manage to fall in my haste, and then sides by the fleet, which has already become spring into the hold for a strike-barrel.

aware that we have got fish alongside. MeanAnd now the mainsail is up, the jib down, and time the wind rises, the sea struggles against the the captain is throwing bait. It is not yet quite rain, which is endeavoring with its steady patter light, but we hear other mainsails going up all to subdue the turmoil of old Ocean. We are round us. A cool drizzle makes the morning un- already on our third barrel each, and still the fish mistakably uncomfortable, and we stand around come in as fast as ever, and the business (sport half asleep, with our sore hands in our pockets, it has ceased to be some time since) continues wishing we were at home. The skipper, how with vigor undiminished. Thick beads of perever, is holding his lines over the rail with an air spiration chase each other down our faces. which clearly intimates that the slightest kind of Jackets, caps, and even over-shirts are thrown a nibble will be quite sufficient this morning to off, to give more freedom to limbs that are worked seal the doom of a mackerel.

to their utmost. “There, by Jove! the captain hauls back- “Hillo! where are the fish?" Allgono? Every there, I told you so ! skipper's got him-no-aha, line is felt eagerly for a bite, but not the faintest

« 이전계속 »