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Richard Galbraith, Mariner Life among the Kaffirs   By:

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Richard Galbraith, Mariner Life among the Kaffirs By Emma Watts Phillips Illustrations by Vauteille; engraver Delangle Published by Dean & Son, London. Richard Galbraith, Mariner, by Emma Watts Phillips.




I was born, as near as I can calculate, in the year 1801, at the time of the Equinoctial gales, a fact which made the old fisherwives present at my birth declare that I was marked out by the finger of Providence for a sailor.

To confirm them, as it seemed, on this point, when the winds, with a whirling rush, used to shriek around my parent's cottage, that clung, limpet like to the face of the rocks which sheltered the little Cornish fishing village, I, baby as I was, used to shriek in unison, not from fear or pain, but unmitigated delight at, and sympathy with, its rough, boisterous turmoil.

Certainly as I look back to my early days and what I have heard related of them, the Breton saying, which in my voyages I have come across, " Il a de l'eau de mer autour du coeur ," appeared most true in my case, for the rough shingly beach was my home in stormy weather or fine. [He has the sea water about his heart.]

During the former I would perch on some rocky crag and, only partly sheltered from the cutting, drifting rain, cling curlew fashion to its rugged surface, and silently, but with infinite enjoyment, watch the mountain waves, with their white dancing crests flung into myriads of flashing particles by the wind, break with a roar like thunder on the beach beneath, adding their contribution of spray to the rain which drenched me to the skin.

When the weather was fine, especially if it were warm, I used to tumble, paddle, and roll in the clear pools left by the receding tide, like some amphibious little imp of creation, often getting within dangerous proximity to the fingers of death, and being saved by a miracle, till the inmates of the fishing hamlet had some reason for their reiterated remark that I assuredly was not born to be drowned. Assuredly not, nor to be burned, boiled, nor served up for the supper of some dark skinned Indian chief and family neither, though in due course of my adventurous life I have often fancied myself on the point of one of these pleasant finales to existence.

It may naturally be thought that I was a constant source of anxiety to my parents, and no doubt so I should have been, had not, at about the time I had attained the second year of my life, a sudden squall caught my father's fishing smack, and, capsizing it before he could luff, sent him and his two companions into eternity. The smack was found by some fishermen much damaged, quite empty, every vestige of tackle gone, its sails rent, and my father and the others nowhere. My mother took this so much to heart that she scarcely survived her husband's death a week, and by joining him left me an orphan on my own hands. I say "my own," though only two years old, for I had already displayed my wandering propensities by toddling and scrambling alone among the rocks; and, notwithstanding the few pounds my parents left would have procured me the protection of many an honest, good hearted fisherwife, I scorned all such control, and resisted every effort to prevent my perambulations among the rocks and pools, where, not unfrequently when older, and on warm moonlight evenings, I used to spend even my nights; though, at other times, I condescended to accept the shelter offered me in Jack Brunscombe's cottage, for whose little blue eyed daughter I had early shown a marked liking, and would speedily have talked her into being the companion of my idle hours, but for the vigilance of her mother, who valued her darling's tender little form far too highly to trust it with so wild, daring, idle a scapegrace as I... Continue reading book >>

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