« PredošláPokračovať »
the other side of the water, there was a curl in his great nostrils as if he were smelling the sweet salt spray of the sea, and a staring look in his great blue eyes, as if the grand ocean were before him instead of a dirty river. He was a short thickset man, and his face was deeply indented with smallpox; indeed, so marked were the impressions which that disease had left upon him, that his face looked for all the world like a conglomeration of miniature salt-cellars. His name was Praiseworthy Meddler. The sea was his world—the land was of no importance whatever. Not only was the land of no importance in his eyes, but it was a place to be despised, and the people who inhabited it were an inferior race. From him did Joshua Marvel learn of the glories and the wonders of the ocean, and from him came Joshua's inspiration to be a sailor.
For Joshua had settled upon the road which was to lead him to fame and fortune. By the time that he had made up his mind what was to be his future walk in life, most other lads in the parish of Stepney of the same age and condition as himself were already at work at different businesses, and had already commenced mounting that ladder which led almost always to an average
of something less than thirty-two shillings a week for the natural term of their lives. Although, up to this period of his life, Joshua's career had been a profitless one, as far as earning money was concerned, his time had not been thrown away. The tastes he had acquired were innocent and good, and were destined to bear good fruit in the future. The boyish friendship he had formed was of incalculable value to him; for it was undoubtedly due, in a great measure, to that association that Joshua was kept from contact with bad companions. He had not yet given evidence of the possession of decided character, except what might be gathered from a certain quiet determination of will, inherited from his mother, but stronger in him than in her because of his sex, and from a certain unswerving affection for anything he loved. A phrenologist, examining his head, would probably have found that the organs of firmness and adhesiveness predominated over all his other faculties; and for the rest, something very much as follows. (Let it be understood that no attempt is here being made to give a perfect analysis of Joshua's faculties, but that mention is only being made of those organs which may help to explain, if they be remembered by the reader, and if there
be any truth in phrenology, certain circumstances connected with Joshua's career, the consequences of which may have been varied in another man.) Well, then, adhesiveness and firmness very large; the first of which will account for his strong attachment for Dan, and the second for his determination, notwithstanding his mother's efforts, not to take to wood-turning nor any other trade, but to start in life for himself. Inhabitiveness very small; and as inhabitiveness means a
; tendency to dwell in one place, the want of that faculty will account for his desire to roam. All his moral and religious faculties—such as benevolence, wonder, veneration, and conscientiousness
were large ; what are understood as the semiintellectual sentiments—constructiveness, imitation, and mirthfulness—he possessed only in a moderate degree; but one, ideality, was largely developed. Four of his intellectual faculties-individuality, language, eventuality, and time-call for especial notice : they were all very small, the smallest of them being eventuality, the especial function of which is a memory of events. Mention being made that his organs of colour and tune were large, this brief analysis of Joshua's phrenological development is completed.
For the purpose of fitting himself for his future career, Joshua had lately spent a great deal of his time at the waterside, and in the course of a few months' experience in boats and barges on the river Thames, had made himself perfectly familiar with all the dangers of the sea.
Praiseworthy Meddler had a great deal to do with Joshua's resolve. His attention had been directed to the quiet well-behaved lad, who came down so often to the waterside, and who sat gazing, with unformed thoughts, upon the river. Not upon the other side of it, where tumble-down wharves and melancholy walls were, but along the course of it, as far as its winding form would allow him to do so. Then his imagination followed the river, and gave it pleasanter banks and broader, until he could scarcely see any banks at all, so wide had the river grown; then he followed it farther still, until it merged into an ocean of waters, in which were crowded all the wonders he had read of in books of travel and adventure: wastes of sea, calm and grand in sunlight and moonlight; fire following the ship at night, fire in the waters, as if millions of fire-fish had rushed up from the depths to oppose the wooden monster which ploughed them through ; shoals of porpoises, sharks, whales, and all the wondrous breathing life in the mighty waters; curling waves lifting up the ship, which afterwards glides down into the valleys; bloodmoons, and such a wealth of stars in the heavens, and such feather-fringed azure clouds as made the heart beat to think of them; storms, too-dark waters seething and hissing, thunder awfully pealing, lightning-flashes cutting the heavens open, and darting into the sea and cutting that with keen blades of light, then all darker than it was before : all these pictures came to Joshua's mind as, with eager eyes and clasped hands, he sat gazing at the dirty river. He held his breath as the storm-pictures came, but there was no terror in them; bright or dark, everything he saw was tinged with the romance of youthful imagining. Praiseworthy Meddler spoke first to Joshua, divined his wish, encouraged it, told the lad stories of his own experience, and told them with such heartiness and enthusiasm, and made such a light matter of shipwreck and suchlike despondencies, that Joshua's aspirations grew and grew until he could no longer keep them to himself. And, of course, to whom should he first unbosom himself in plain terms but to his more than brother, Dan ?