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The first bed of sand does not appear to contain organic remains at least none are mentioned as belonging to it. The oolites and clay are intelligible enough, but the succeeding sandstone may cause a question whether it belongs to the green sand or iron sand or to both. The evidence afforded by the organic remains will place part of it in the green sand division and the absence of every species of alcionum may at present make it questionable whether any part is to be referred to the iron sand. The lowest bed termed shale belongs evidently to the oolite formation, and its more clayey parts are analogous to the Oxford clay of geologists. Among the fossils which are quoted as belonging to this stratum we think we can also recognise some belonging to the lias limestone. It is in this deposite (if we are rightly informed) that some speculators more spirited than wise bave recently sunk a shaft of more than one hundred yards in depth in search of coal. Fragments of shale sufficiently bituminous to be combustible, many of which occur in analogous strata, have enabled the designing workmen to persuade their employers that by penetrating far enough coal might be found. A very slight acquaintance with che structure of our island is sufficient to shew the fallacy of such a hope ; but if it should prove any source of consolation to the adventurers they may find parallel cases of disappoinment in Conybeare and Philip's very valuable work on the geology of England and Wales, p. 193.
After noticing a short list of the most interesting indigenous plants we prepare to close the volume of these Sketches. It would perhaps be an improvement if the list of organic remains belonging to each stratum was made immediately to follow the description of it, as in that case the refe. rence would be easy, and if these lists were made with strict precision the comparison of each stratum with some one analogous to it elsewhere would become an easy task.
Some of the engravings are extremely neat, and the vig. nette of two Roman urns exhibits that peculiar elegance of form which even in works of little cost that nation seems never to have lost sight of.
If indefatigable research among records of authority, with a judicious selection of matter, if a small but comprehensive and neat volume at a moderate price be merits in an author we think to Mr. Weir we may fairly attribute them. It is clear that the publication of works of this sort is of all others the most certain step towards the formation of accurate county histories, for thus by the united labours of many individuals a fund of matter is prepared for the arranging hand of any judicious compiler; and the deficiency of good county histories does fully prove that ages must elapse before each county can produce its Hasted, Whittaker, or Morant.
ART. VII. The Life and Adventures of John Nicol,
Mariner. 12mo. pp. 226. Cadell. 1822. EVERY body who has been in Edinburgh has probably seen a feeble old man, wandering about the streets, in search of the few scraps, bones, and small pieces of coal, which the kennels of that thrifty metropolis supply to the needy. One of those who has often remarked him, and who is otherwise unable to relieve his pressing wants, has done no small act of kindness to the poor veteran and to the public, by collecting from his own mouth the narrative which forms the subject matter of the pages now before us. It is not that John Nicol's life (though tinged with great variety of colour) presents more diversified adventures than that of many, perhaps of most others, who have been bred to the sea ; but there is an air of truth and simplicity about his statement of the things which he has seen, et quorum pars magna fuit, which is irresistibly attractive. It may seem strange to praise an authentic story by assimilating it to a work of fiction; yet so natural is ihe manner of this volume, that we were forced to satisfy ourselves respecting the personal existence of its bero before we could quite believe that it was not a most happy imitation, in brief, of the inimitable Robinson Crusoe.
John Nicol was born in 1755, at Currie, a small village about six.miles from Edinburgh. His mother died in child. bed, leaving five bairns behind her; of these two died young ; one went to America and was never heard of more; the eldest was killed in action in the West Indies, after having attained the honourable rank of Lieutenant in the navy; and the hero of the present eventful story was destined to see more vicissitudes than any other of his family. In his own words, “ Twice I circumnavigated the globe; three times I was in China; twice in Egypt; and more than once sailed along the whole land-board of America, from Nootka Sound to Cape Horn; twice I doubled it."
His father was a cooper, a man of talent and information, who sought to bring np John to his own trade. John, however, had read Robinson Crusoe many times over, had
passed all his spare hours, during a residence at Borrowstownness, in boats, had once sailed in the Glasgow and Paisley packet from Leith to London, and longed incurably to be a sailor.
Nevertheless he was apprenticed to a cooper, and he did not abscond from his indentures. When the tedious time had expired, he entered on board the Kent's Regard, which, in 1776, was stationed as a tender in the Leith Roads. Hence he was transferred, as cooper, to the Proteus, a twenty-gun ship, under orders for New York, with ordnance stores, and 100 troops to man the floating batteries on Lake Champlain. The magnificence of the St. Lawrence appears to have impressed him deeply, and he was much surprised by the vast floats of wood, surmounted with whole families, which glided down the river for many hundred miles. Without knowing it, he was at heart a poet.
“I can think of no pleasure more touching to the feelings, and soothing to the mind, than to lie upon the green banks, and listen to the melodious voices of the women, of a summer evening, as they row along in their batteaux, keeping time to the stroke of the
For hours I have lain over the breast-netting, looking and listening to them, unconscious of the lapse of time." P. 16.
Having landed their troops and stores, they sailed with convoy
to the West Indies. Here be “ took the country fever. Several of his shipmates died, and he himself seems to have recovered very much out of dread of the landcrabs, which he saw running through their graves. The blacks eat these loathsome animals on the principle of reta. liation ; for when Nicol remonstrated with them, they replied, “Why they eat me."
After a return to England, he next sailed to Newfoundland. For three weeks they neither saw sun nor sky, but lay before the harbour of St. John enveloped in fog, and unable to move
The Proteus became unfit for service, and was converted into a prison ship. Nicol spent eighteen months on shore, and was then ordered to join the Surprise, a twenty-eight gun frigate.
“ On board the Surprise we had a rougher crew than in the Proteus : ninety of them were Irishmen, the rest from Scotland and England. We kept cruising about, taking numbers of the American privateers. After a short but severe action, we took the Ja. son of Boston, commanded by the famous Captain Manly, who had been commodore in the American service, had been taken prisoner, and broke his parole. When Captain Reeves hailed and ordered him to 'strike, he returned for answer, :Fire away ! I have as many guns as you.' He had heavier metal, but fewer men than the Surprise. He fought us for a long time. I was serving powder as busy as I could, the shot and splinters flying in all directions ; when I heard the Irishmen call from one of the guns (they fought like devils, and the captain was fond of them upon that account,) Hallo, Bungs, where are you?" I looked to their gun, and saw the horns of my study *, across its mouth; the next moment it was through the Jason's side. The rogues thus disposed of my study, which I had been using just before the action commenced, and had placed in a secure place, as I thought, out of their reach. " Bungs for ever!' they shouted, when they saw the dreadful hole it made in the Jason's side. Bungs was the name they always gave the cooper. When Captain Manly came on board the Surprise, to deliver his sword to Captain Reeves, the half of the'rim of his hat was shot off. Our captain returned his sword to him again, saying, “ You have had a narrow escape, Manly.'— I wish to God, it had been my head,; he replied." P. 27.
In this ship be continued without any particular incident, till
she was paid off in March, 1783.
Life, and a sailor's life in particular (at least while on shore) is nothing without love, and with his prize-money and his pay in his pocket, a discharged mariner has little difficulty in procuring a bella donna. John Nicol fell in love to his heart's content with a wealthy farmer's daughter, bound with him on a stage-coach voyage from London to Newcastle.
“ I felt a something uncommon arise in my breast as we sat side by side ; I could think of nothing but my pretty companion; my attentions were not disagreeable to her, and I began to think of settling, and how happy I might be with such a wife.” P. 40.
But all his savings were in his chest on board the Leith smack, in which, by being too late, he had lost his passage; and in order to recover his treasure, he was obliged to abandon his pretty Mary, though with a promise of return. In three weeks he did return, but, alas, Mary proved a jilt.
A trip to Greenland was succeeded by one to Granada. Here he learned three Negro melodies, which may be remended to Sir John Stevenson's notice. The first is pathetic. • I lost my shoe in an old canoe,
Johnio ! come Winum so;
Johnio! come Winum so.
“ My Massa a bad man,
My Missis cry honey,
Ting a ring ting, ting a ring, tarro.
Do no work, but eatee;
Ting a ring ting, ting a ring ting, tarro." The third is drastic and didactic. The slaves accommodate to it all their motions while at work.
« Work away, body, bo,
Work aa, jollaa." There is quite as much meaning, and far less michief, in these “ simple songs,” than in many of the warblings, Scotch, Irish, Hebrew, or National, with which the would be musical world has of late years so unsparingly been deluged.
Nicol's next voyage was one of discovery. He engaged with Captain Portlock, in the King George, in 1785. At St. Jago he met with an adventure, which may be remembered as a salutary caution by those who are likely to traffic in Portugal mutton.
“ The island is badly cultivated, but abounds in cattle. We exchanged old clothes for sheep, or any thing the men wanted. The Portuguese here are great rogues.
I bought two fat sheep from one of them. The bargain was made, and I was going to lead away my purchase, when he gave a whistle, and my sheep scampered off to the fields. The fellow laughed at my surprise. I had a great mind to give him a beating for his trick, and take my clothes from him; but we had strict orders not to quarrel with the people on any account. At length he made a sign that I might have them again by giving a few more articles. I had no alternative but to lose what I had given, or submit to his roguery. I
gave a sign I would ; he gave another whistle, and the sheep returned to his side. I secured them before I gave the second price." P. 67.
Falkland Islands, Cape Horn, Slater's Land, the Sandwich Islands, and Nootka Sound were successively touched at during the voyage; but we meet with little that is new in the description of any of them. He then sailed to China. The Chinese, says Nicol, eat every thing in which there is life. Even the rats, which a Newfoundland dog was used to catch by night, were bartered for as food on the following morning. One day the Newfoundland dog bit a native boy