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wind from the north; and if the temperatures of the two currents vary greatly, (which is not likely,) there would be an increase in the strength of the wind.
If two veins of air in motion—say, one from the W.S.W., and the other from the E.S.E., combine, under certain conditions of strength, temperature, &c, it is probable that a circular motion would be induced, and an increase of wind follow; and such an operation be one of the causes of the frequent occurrence of tempests in the higher latitudes.
If two winds of equal strength, blowing from opposite points, meet, the probable effect would be a brisk gale for a certain time, which (in an intermediate space) would be followed by a calm, their progressive power of action becoming, as it were, neutralized. This is often the case some leagues from the mouth of the English Channel, when a contention happens between the east and west winds; and this state often continues for several days, until some barometric changes take place in the atmosphere, which give the preponderance to one or other—genetally to the westerly wind, when it comes roaring in like a wild conqueror.
If we dwell with attention on the veering and hacking of the wind, which, as sailors, all of us have so often had occasion to notice, whilst traversing the ocean,—its play, as it were, like the swinging motion of a pendulum, we must arrive, without being deeply versed in the doctrine of the air, at the conclusion that an oscillatory motion, in some way or other, has been induced. The wind, as is well known, often veers gradually four, five, or six points of the compass, and not unfrequently returns as gradually to the point whence it first started.* Sometimes the shifts are quick, (flying round,'' as the expression is,) and the return as quick, this sort of vascillation continuing for some time; hence the term, "baffling" applied by seamen to this often perplexing action of the wind. Frequently, however, the wind remains steady after having shifted, in which case, the ship may have entered a different vein of air in motion on a rectilinear course.
That five or six different veins, or strata, of air in motion may be moving onward at one and the same time, is granted; but it appears equally likely, if not more in the line of probability, that, often at least, when a ship experiences such changes in the direction of the wind, the air might be considered as performing an oscillation in a curve or otherwise, when the wind does not back, pursuing, in fact, a curvilinear course, which would account also for shifts, the intervals varying according to the extent of the sweep.
The latter action would explain the circumstance which has hitherto been so perplexing, that of several vessels at a few leagues apart experiencing each the wind from a different point, a fact that is indisputable and must occur to the minds of seamen as having happened during their experience at sea. The great cause of perplexity hitherto seems to have been the commonly received opinion of wind always blowing on a rectilinear course.
These fluctuations having been repeatedly observed, and watched for
* This circumstance must not be confounded with " local attraction" on board of ships, which causes a deviation of the needle on different tacks, and formerly gave riae to the idea of the wind having shifted.
the last three or four yean, have led to conclusions on the subject that have been gradually strengthened. On the 10th of February this year, there was a fine display of the play of the wind from south-east to southwest, and back again, in the forenoon, and from S.S.VV. to W.S.W. in the afternoon, after which it set in steady at west, and by nine at night it was nearly calm, the whole period before being a succession of squalls, rain, and gales.
The variations which take place in the vicinity of land have been long understood as arising principally from the elevations deflecting the wind, and causing portions of air to assume new directions; ravines and vallies running transversely to the line of coast, generally have drafts of wind flowing down them, which" often occasion the loss of small spars. Those seamen who have sailed up rivers, the banks of which in some parts rise in elevated cliffs, and where the stream meanders, may recollect that, in some reaches which lie at right angles to the course of the prevailing wind, the current of air by striking the opposite bank, repercusses and blows across the channel of the river, so that the vessel sails on the tack contrary to that she would do if she had the true wind blowing above, which indeed she would experience in those reaches that are open, or where the banks are low.
2. Another circumstance deserves to lie investigated in order to remove the doubts and perplexities it gives rise to.
Everybody knows that cold and dense air flows into warm and lighter air, and hence in the theory of winds, as a fixed principle, it is considered that air in motion has a lower temperature than the atmosphere into which it flows; and from estimating this as an invariable law of nature, some puzzling questions have arisen. But, however frequent this process may be, there are nevertheless circumstances which would seem to throw some doubt upon the question, whether such can be maintained as coming under the correct denomination of a general law of nature. If there should be found but one exception, then it will be admitted that the law cannot be held as unalterable. The common saying, that" exceptions prove general laws," appears to us an absurdity, and, therefore, contrary to common sense.
Most persons, and especially those who have visited the Mediterranean, have read or heard of, or have felt the hot winds which occasionally blow in that sea, particularly the Sirocco. Here we have the anomalous circumstance presented to us of warm or rather hot air flowing into an atmosphere some degrees lower. That this is the case, we are assured by the statemeut of the rise of the thermometer, (22°) as as well as from the sensations of the human body, arising from the unusal accession of warmth produced by that wind.*
If we suppose that the progress of the Sirocco is extremely slow, advancing only as it imparts its warmth to the column of colder air against which it rests, so that that column of air may be said to fall back upon its source, giving place to the other, the exception would not be removed; for if the general law was in operation, should we not expect the colder air would rush into the warmer and stop its advance.
• Some writers have thought the Sirocco local, and that the heat was evolved from the earth, but this cannot be true, as it has been experienced at sea as well as on shore.
The Solano or hot south wind is another instance, and more remarkable, perhaps, as crossing from Africa to Minorca. If there should still he any reasonable doubt of the correctness of those instances, can any be entertained with respect to the well known fact, which may be verified by any person, of the south-west and west winds which flow in upon our coasts whilst yet the earth is bound up in a frozen crust, causing an almost instantaneous rise of the thermometer, and a general thaw as either advances over the land, the easterly or north-easterly wind retiring before it?
That these curious facts appear to our perceptions to be certain will not settle the point; the evidence of our senses in the estimation of the phenomena of nature as in other cases, is sometimes at fault, and in these very circumstances we may be under a delusion. Such ought not, indeed, to be decided hastily, a great deal of sober thought and chemical knowledge, &c. are required for the investigation. Of the operations of nature, Sir John Herschel says, " What once is learnt we never have to unlearn. As rules advance in generality, apparent exceptions become regular ; and equivoque in her sublime laws is, as unheard of as maladministration."
3. The regressive nature of wind is also worthy of attention, and much more common than is generally imagined, especially after a calm has taken place over the land, and is succeeded by "gentle airs." With the east wind of our isle this is often the case, whilst we are looking to remote regions for its source, and to the grand currents of the atmosphere for its production.* The fresh and lasting east wind sometimes experienced here, and which occasionally extends quite across the Atlantic, must have a northerly origin in Lapland.
Discipline Of The Merchant Service.
Madras, July 30lh, 1840. Sir,—In a former letter I have stated, that a general spirit of insubordination and disaffection prevails amongst the crews of merchant vessels. The only remedy for evils of such vast importance to mercantile interests, and to the national character is, in my opinion, to give publicity to well authenticated cases, and thereby shew the absolute necessity of a legislative enactment, which shall in reality amend and consolidate the laws relating to Merchant Seamen. The present laws are so defective that they operate with great injustice and hardship towards owners and masters of vessels, especially in foreign ports. Seamen are frequently convicted of refusing to serve and are sentenced to one month's imprisonment, forfeiture of wages and clothes ;+ but before the term of imprisonment has expired the ship may have sailed. This is frequently the case at this port, as most of the shipping touch here for
* The north-east winds of Europe, we are toldt proceed from the accumulation of the superior stream of air being arrested by the lofty snow mountains of the northwest ot Asia rushing down on the neighbouring countries.—£n. Brit.
+ It often happens that these men have no wages due to them, and havi made away with their clothes before they struck work.
a short lime on their voyage to Bengal, consequently other hands must be procured, European or Lascar seamen as may be, incurring a risk of inefficiency, or higher rate of wages and probably detention, thus the punishment falls on both parties, and the consequences are detrimental to the welfare of the merchant service.
Cases of assault, breaking into the ship's hold, plundering cargo, and other offences of frequent occurrence, are so inadequately defined or provided for by the present code of maritime law, that magistrates are compelled to have recourse to the statutes of common law, aided by their discretiouary judgment and control; or, allow very serious and gross offences to escape with impunity. A case in point came within my jurisdiction the other day. Three seamen of the barque, David Scott, forcibly entered that ship's hold about 7 P.m., after the hatches had been laid on and secured, and the people had left off work; the good order which had prevailed on board that ship led to an early discovery, and before 8 P.m. the crew were mustered when three men were missing—■ the hold was open and searched, and these three men were found, two of them between bales of hay, the other in attempting to make his escape up the fore-scuttle. They were put in irons; the case was reported to me on the following morning, and the police-boat with the marine-police serjeant, was sent off to the David Scott, and the prisoners were taken into custody and brought before the magistrates. It was fortunate for these men that they had not plundered any cargo. It was, however, proved that they had been seen on deck after the hatches had been laid on, and that they forced the scuttle and got into the bold, therefore, their design was beyond all doubt: but, a timely discovery prevented their ill intentions being carried into effect.
Now, strange to say, this very offence, by no means an uncommon one, is not adequately provided for by any clause in the maritime laws of England, and yet the least reflection will convey an estimate of the very serious consequences which this crime involves. Suppose those persons had carried a light down in the hold, had plundered spirits, got drunk, and set the hay, cargo, and spirits on fire, and this in the middle of the night, what then could have saved the ship? Under such circumstances ships have been burnt; but, independant of so disastrous a result, is it not too bad that seamen may break into a ship's hold and commit plunder with impunity? A very glaring case of this kind was brought before the police, at one of the three presidencies not long ago, and dismissed. Having found the seamen of the David Scott guilty, they were sentenced to one month's imprisonment; if they had plundered the cargo I know of no other law applying directly to the case, than c. 74 of Geo. IV., commonly called Peel's Act, clause 89.
'Herewith I forward you copies of several documents relating to the crew of the ship Moira. The man named Jones having been found guilty of mutinous conduct, and of a violent assault, was sentenced by the magistrates to receive three dozen lashes, and to be confined in prison for two months: this example has been found to have a very salutary effect on the crew of the Moira, and throughout the shipping in these Toads. Summary and exemplary punishment is the most conducive towards that sound state of good order and discipline which ought to he enforced throughout the mercantile marine; and unless commanders and officers of ships are promptly and vigorously supported in the execution of their duty, (provided a due attention is also paid to the justice and equity with which they discharged their respective duties,) it is impossible to preserve such a system of governing and controlling the merchant service, as is absolutely necessary to sustain the interests of commerce, the protection of life and property, the character of British seamen, and the prosperity of the empire at large.
I have the honour, &c,
Christopher Bides. To the Editor, $c.
P.S.—The man named Jones, I shall not degrade the profession by calling him a seaman, had only heen a few days on board the Moira, intending to work his passage to Calcutta, he therefore came under the police regulations of this port, and was dealt with accordingly.—C.B.
Madras, 9 P.m. 25** June, 1840. Sir,—I beg leave to acquaint you that I have just received a letter from my chief officer, informing me that come of the crew are in a very mutinous state, having refused to do any more duty, and that a man named D. Jones, has been guilty of the most outrageous conduct, and has violently assaulted him (the chief mate.) Under these circumstances I earnestly call upon you to take some decisive measures to quell this mutinous spirit, especially as this is the second instance that my ship's company have betrayed such disaffection since my arrival in these roads. I am in such an ill state of health that I shall feel greatly obliged if you will repair on board the ship " Moira," yourself, and use your own discretion in making an example of the ringleaders of this disgraceful display, whereby my ship's company may be restored to order. I am confident they can have no just cause of complaint, and I rely upon your judgment and experience for the adjustment of this unexpected breach of discipline and violent behaviour.
I have the honour, &c.
To Captain C. Biden, Beach Magistrate
Madras, 1st July, 1840. Sir,—I cannot think of leaving the Madras roads without conveying to you, officially, as I have already done privately, my warmest acknowledgements for the prompt and energetic measures you adopted for the purpose of quelling the mutinous spirit which had shewn itself amongst the crew of the "Moira," and for punishing those who were most forward in their disobedience. When I consider that the whole of the crew had refused to do their work, that one of them bad gone so far as to assault the chief mate, and that I, myself, was so unwell at the time as to be unable to go off to the ship, I cannot but feel that I should have been put to great loss and inconvenience by the stoppage of work on board and consequent detention of the ship, had it not been for the promptitude with which you came to my assistance, by repairing on board yourself, and adopting those effective and decisive measures which led to the punishment of the most active of the mutineers, and the cheerful return to their duty of the remainder of the crew,
Again begging you will accept of my best thanks,
I have the honour, &c. To Capt. C. Biden, $c. (Signed) Samuel Otter.