England without and Within

By Richard Grant White; Hamlet | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XI.
ENGLISH MANNERS.

WHEN I took passage for Liverpool I naturally inquired what kind of man he was in whose charge and under whose command I was to be for some ten days upon the ocean. I was told that he was an excellent seaman and a good ship-master, but that he was unsociable and surly; in fact positively disagreeable; had English manners, and was in brief "a perfect John Bull." I took all this with some grains of allowance, and was content to he in the hands of a good seaman and commander. For as to reserve of manner on the part of a man who has upon his mind the responsibility for a great steamship and her cargo, and a thousand or twelve hundred souls, upon the storm-vexed, fog-shrouded Atlantic, I could not only make allowance for it, but respect it; having some. knowledge, although at second hand, of the way in which "the captain" is often pestered by the he and she gadflies among his passengers. And therefore on the voyage, although the sea was calm and the skies were bright, and we went smoothly and swiftly on under stream and sails, I did not for several days speak to any officer of the vessel, except the purser and the surgeon. When I passed the captain I merely bowed silently in acknowledgment of his position, and of mine as his subordinate and dependent. I should have been better pleased if he had made

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