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~ highlighting an excerpt from Homeward Bound that portrays a play on (and ply of) the words “comity” and “committee"

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Homeward Bound © 1838 James Fenimore Cooper

NOTE: Below is the excerpt from Chapter IV of the digitized version (with plain text versions) found at the aforementioned Google Books website ---

FURTHER NOTE:  Passage HIGHLIGHTED WITH BOLD TEXT BELOW ~ a play on (and ply of) the words “comity” and “committee" deployed by Captain Jack Truck (master of the Montauk, the American packet "Homeward Bound") to compare and contrast the (words & works).

FURTHER YET:  Reference to Emer (Emerich or Emmerich) de Vattel (re his “(Natural) Law of Nations”© 1758:
(http://james4america.wordpress.com/2009/08/07/u-s-constitution-and-vattels-law-of-nations-the-answer-has-been-there-all-the-time/ and http://www.obamaconspiracy.org/2009/03/de-vattel-for-dummies/).

Plain text transcription beginning Chapter IV, Page 43 at http://books.google.com/books?id=G_NDAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA43

HOMEWARD BOUND
CHAPTER IV.

'Whither away so fast ?
0 God save you I
Even to the hall, to hear what shall become
Of the great Duke of Buckingham.'
from Wiliiam Shakespeare's HENRY VIII.


The assembling of the passengers of the large packet-ship is necessarily an affair of coldness and distrust, especially with those who know the world, and more particularly still when the passage is from Europe to America. The greater sophistication of the old than of the new hemisphere, with its consequent shifts and vices, the knowledge that the tide of emigration sets westward, and that few abandon the home of their youth unless impelled by misfortune at least, with other obvious causes, unite to produce this distinction. Then come the fastidiousness of habits, the sentiments of social castes, the refinements of breeding, and the reserves of dignity of character, to be put in close collision with bustling egotism, ignorance of usages, an absence of training, and downright vulgarity of thought and practices. Although necessity soon brings these chaotic elements into something like order, the first week commonly passes in reconnoitering, cool civilities, and cautious concessions, to yield at length to the never-dying charities; unless, indeed, the latter may happen to be kept in abeyance by a downright quarrel, about midnight carousals, a squeaking fiddle, or some incorrigible snorer.

Happily, the party collected in the Montauk had the good fortune to abridge the usual probation in courtesies, by the stirring events of the night on which they sailed. Two hours bad scarcely elapsed since the last passenger crossed the gang- (cont. pp. 44 – 46) way, and yet the respective circles of the quarter-deck and steerage felt more sympathy with each other than the boasted human charities ordinarily quicken in days of common-place intercourse. They had already found out each other's names, thanks to the assiduity of Captain Truck, who had stolen time, in the midst of all his activity, to make half-a-dozen more introductions, and the Americans of the less trained class were already using them as freely as if they were old acquaintances. We say Americans, for the cabins of these ships usually contain a congress of nations, though the people of England, and of her ci-devant colonies, of course predominate in those of the London lines. On the present occasion, the last two were nearly balanced in numbers, so far as national character could be made out; opinion (which, as might be expected, had been busy the while) being suspended in reference to Mr. Blunt, and one or two others whom the captain called " foreigners," to distinguish them from the Anglo-Saxon stock.

This equal distribution of forces might, under other circumstances, have led to a division in feeling; for the conflicts between American and British opinions, coupled with a difference in habits, are a prolific source of discontent in the cabins of packets. The American is apt to fancy himself at home, under the flag of his country; while his transatlantic kinsman is strongly addicted to fancying that when he has fairly paid his money, he has a right to embark all his prejudices with his other luggage.

The affair of the attorney and the newly-married couple, however, was kept quite distinct from all feelings of nationality ; the English apparently entertaining quite as lively a wish that the latter might escape from the fangs of the law, as any other portion of the passengers. The parties themselves were British, and although the authority evaded was of the same origin, right or wrong, all on board had taken up the impression that it was improperly exercised. Sir George Templemore, the Englishman of highest rank, vas decidedly of this way of (cont. p. 45) thinking—an opinion he was rather warm in expressing— and the example of a baronet had its weight, not only with most of his own countrymen, but with not a few of the Americans also. The Effingham party, together with Mr. Sharp and Mr. Blunt, were, indeed, all who seemed to be entirely indifferent to Sir George's sentiments; and, as men are intuitively quick in discovering who do and who do not defer to their suggestions, their accidental independence might have been favored by this fact, for the discourse of this gentleman was addressed in the main to those who lent the most willing ears. Mr. Dodge, in particular, was his constant and respectful listener and profound admirer:—but then he was his room-mate, and a democrat of a water so pure, that he was disposed to maintain no man had a right to any one of his senses, unless by popular sufferance.
In the mean while, the night advanced, and the soft light of the moon was playing on the waters, adding a semi-mysterious obscurity to the excitement of the scene. The two-oared boat had evidently been overtaken by that carrying six oars, and, after a short conference, the first had returned reluctantly towards the land, while the latter, profiting by its position, had set two lug-sails, and was standing out into the offing, on a course that would compel the Montauk to come under its lee, when the shoals, as would soon be the case, should force the ship to tack.

"England is most inconveniently placed," Captain Truck dryly remarked as he witnessed this manoeuvre." Were this island only out of the way, now, we might stand on' as we head, and leave those man-of-war's men to amuse themselves all night with backing and filling in the roads of Portsmouth."
"I hope there is no danger of that little boat's overtaking this large ship!" exclaimed Sir George, with a vivacity that did great credit to his philanthropy, according to the opinion of Mr. Dodge at least; the latter having imbibed a singular bias in favor of persons of condition, from having travelled in (cont. p. 46) an eilwagen with a German baron, from whom he had taken a model of the pipe he carried but never smoked, and from having been thrown for two days and nights into the society of a " Polish countess," as he uniformly termed her, in the gondole of a diligence, between Lyons and Marseilles. In addition, Mr. Dodge, as has just been hinted, was an ultra-freeman at homo —a circumstance that seems always to react, when the subject of the feeling gets into foreign countries.

"A feather running before a lady's sigh would outsail either of us in this air, which breathes on us in some such fashion as a whale snores, Sir George, by sudden puffs. I would give the price of a steerage passage, if Great Britain lay off the Cape of Good Hope for a week or ten days."

"Or Cape Hatteras !" rejoined the mate.

"Not I; I wish the old island no harm, nor a worse climate than it has got already; though it lies as much in our way, just at this moment, as the moon in an eclipse of the sun. I bear the old creature a great-grandson's love—or a step or two farther off, if you will,—and come and go too often to forget the relationship. But, much as I love her, the affection is not strong enough to go ashore on her shoals, and so we will go about, Mr. Leach; at the same time, I wish from my heart that two-lugged rascal would go about his business."

The ship tacked slowly but gracefully, for she was in what her master termed "racing trim;" and as her bows fell off to the eastward, it became pretty evident to all who understood the subject, that the two little lug-sails that were " eating into the wind," as the sailors express it, would weather upon her track ere she could stretch over to the other shoal. Even the landsmen had some feverish suspicions of the truth, and the steerage passengers were already holding a secret conference on the possibility of hiding the pursued in some of the recesses of the ship. "Such things were often done," one whispered to another, "and it was as easy to perform it now as at an; other time."

(Cont. top of page 47)
But Captain Truck viewed the matter differently: his vocation called him three times a year into the roads at Portsmouth, and he felt little disposition to embarrass his future intercourse with the place by setting its authorities at a too open defiance. He deliberated a good deal on the propriety of throwing his ship up into the wind, as she slowly advanced towards the boat, and of inviting those in the latter to board him. Opposed to this was the pride of profession, and Jack Truck was not a man to overlook or to forget the "yarns'' that were spun among his fellows at the New England Coffee-house, or among those farming hamlets on the banks of the Connecticut, whence all the packet-men are derived, and whither they repair for a shelter when their careers are run, as regularly as the fruit decays where it falleth, or the grass that has not been harvested or cropped withers on its native stalk.

"There is no question, Sir George, that this fellow is a man-of-war's man," said the master to the baronet, who stuck close to his side. "Take a peep at the creeping rogue through this night-glass, and you will see his crew seated at their thwarts with their arms folded, like men who eat the king's beef. None but your regular public servant ever gets that impudent air of idleness about him, either in England or America. In this respect, human nature is the same in both hemispheres, a man never falling in with luck, but he fancies it is no more than his deserts."

"There seems to be a great many of them! Can it be their intention to carry the vessel by boarding?"

"If it is, they must take the will for the deed," returned Mr. Truck a little coldly. "I very much question if the Montauk, with three cabin officers, as many stewards, two cooks, and eighteen foremast-men, would exactly like the notion of being ‘carried,’ as you style it, Sir George, by a six-oared cutter's crew. We are not as heavy as the planet Jupiter, but have somewhat too much gravity to be ‘carried,’ as lightly as all that, too."

(Cont. top of p. 48)
"You intend, then, to resist ?" asked Sir George, whose generous zeal in behalf of the pursued apparently led him to take a stronger interest in their escape than any other person on board.

Captain Truck, who had never an objection to sport, pondered with himself a little, smiled, and then loudly expressed a wish that he had a member of congress or a member of parliament on board.

"Your desire is a little extraordinary for the circumstances," observed Mr. Sharp; "will you have the goodness to explain why?"

"This matter touches on international law, gentlemen," continued the master, rubbing his hands; for, in addition to having caught the art of introduction, the honest mariner had taken it into his head he had become an adept in the principles of Vattel, of whom he possessed a well-thumbed copy, and for whose dogmas he entertained the deference that they who begin to learn late usually feel for the particular master into whose hands they have accidentally fallen.   “Under what circumstances, or in what category, can a public armed ship compel a neutral to submit to being boarded—not ' carried,' Sir George, you will please to remark; for d—— me, if any man ‘carries' the Montauk that is not strong enough to 'carry' her crew and cargo along with her!—but in what category, now is a packet like this I have the honor to command obliged, in comity, to heave-to and to submit to an examination at all! The ship is a-weigh, and has handsomely tacked under her canvas; and, gentlemen, I should be pleased to have your sentiments on the occasion.  Just have the condescension to point out the category."

Mr. Dodge came from a part of the country in which men were accustomed to think, act, almost to eat and drink and sleep, in common; or, in any other words, from one of those regions in America, in which there was so much community, that few had the moral courage, even when they possessed the knowledge, and all the other necessary means, to cause their

(Cont. top of page 49 through page 53 http://books.google.com/books?pg=PA49&id=G_NDAAAAYAAJ)

individuality to be respected. When the usual process of conventions, sub-conventions, caucuses, and public meetings did not supply the means of a "concentrated action," he and his neighbors had long been in the habit of having recourse to societies, by way of obtaining "energetic means," as it was termed; and from his tenth year up to his twenty-fifth, this gentleman had been either a president, vice-president, manager, or committee-man, of some philosophical, political, or religious expedient to fortify human wisdom, make men better, and resist error and despotism. His experience had rendered him expert in what may well enough be termed the language of association. No man of his years, in the twenty-six States, could more readily apply the terms of "taking up"—"excitement"—"unqualified hostility"—"public opinion"—"spreading before the public," or any other of those generic phrases that imply the privileges of all, and the rights of none.  Unfortunately, the pronunciation of this person was not as pure as his motives, and he misunderstood the captain when he spoke of comity, as meaning a "committee;" and although it was not quite obvious what the worthy mariner could intend by "obliged in committee (comity) to heave-to," yet, as he had known these bodies to do so many "energetic things," he did not see why they might not perform this evolution as well as another.

"It really does appear, Captain Truck," he remarked accordingly, "that our situation approaches a crisis, and the suggestion of a comity (committee) strikes me as being peculiarly proper and suitable to the circumstances, and in strict conformity with republican usages. In order to save time, and that the gentleman who shall be appointed to serve may have opportunity to report, therefore, I will at once nominate Sir George Templemore as chairman, leaving it for any other gentlemen present to suggest the name of any candidate he may deem proper.  I will only add, that in my poor judgment this comity (committee) ought to consist of at least three, and that it have power to send for persons and papers."


(Cont. p. 50)
"I would propose five, Captain Truck, by way of amendment," added another passenger of the same kidney as the last speaker, gentlemen of their school making it a point to differ a little from every proposition by way of showing their independence.

It was fortunate for both the mover of the original motion, and for the proposer of the amendment, that the master was acquainted with the character of Mr. Dodge, or a proposition that his ship was to be worked by a committee (or indeed by comity), would have been very likely to meet with but an indifferent reception; but, catching a glimpse of the laughing eyes of Eve, as well as of the amused faces of Mr. Sharp and Mr. Blunt, by the light of the moon, he very gravely signified his entire approbation of the chairman named, and his perfect readiness to listen to the report of the aforesaid committee as soon as it might be prepared to make it.

"And if your committee, or comity, gentlemen," he added, "can tell me what Vattel would say about the obligation to heave-to in a time of profound peace, and when the ship or boat in chase can have no belligerent rights, I shall be grateful to my dying day; for I have looked him through as closely as old women usually examine almanacs to tell which way the wind is about to blow, and I fear he has overlooked the subject altogether."

Mr. Dodge, and three or four more of the same community-propensity as himself, soon settled the names of the rest of the committee, when the nominees retired to another part of the deck to consult together; Sir George Templemore, to the surprise of all the Effingham party, consenting to serve with a willingness that rather disregarded forms.

"It might be convenient to refer other matters to this committee, captain," said Mr. Sharp, who had tact enough to see that nothing but her habitual retenue of deportment kept Eve, whose bright eyes were dancing with humor, from downright laughter; "these are the important points of reefing and furl- (cont. p. 51) ing, the courses to be steered, the sail to be carried, the times and seasons of calling all hands together, with sundry other customary duties, that no doubt would be well treated on in this forthcoming report."

"No doubt, sir; I perceive you have been at sea before, and I am sorry you were overlooked in naming the members of the comity; take my word for it, all that you have mentioned can be done on board the Montauk by a comity, as well as settling the question of heaving-to, or not, for yonder boat. By the way, Mr. Leach, the fellows have tacked, and are standing in this direction, thinking to cross our bows and speak us. Mr. Attorney, the tide is setting us off the land, and you may make it morning before you get into your nests, if you hold on much longer. I fear Mrs. Seal and Mrs. Grab will be unhappy women."


The bloodhounds of the law heard this warning with indifference, for they expected succor of some sort, though they hardly knew of what sort, from the man-of-war's boat, which, it was now plain enough, must weather on the ship. After putting their heads together, Mr. Seal offered his companion a pinch of snuff, helping himself afterwards, like a man indifferent to the result, and one patient in time of duty. The sunburnt face of the captain, whose standing color was that which cooks get when the fire burns the brightest, but whose hues no fire or cold ever varied, was turned fully on the two, and it is probable they would have received some decided manifestation of his will, had not Sir George Templemore, with the four other committee-men, approached to give in the result of their conference.

"We are of opinion, Captain Truck," said the baronet, " that, as the ship is under way, and your voyage may be fairly said to have commenced, it is quite inexpedient and altogether unnecessary for you to anchor again; but that it is your duty—"

“I have no occasion for advice as to my duty, gentlemen. (cont. p. 52) If you can let me know what Vattel says, or ought to have said, on the subject, or touching the category of the right ot search, except as a belligerent right, I will thank you; if not, we must e'en guess at it. I have not sailed a ship in this trade these ten years to need any jogging of the memory about port-jurisdiction either, for these are matters in which one gets to be expert by dint of use, as my old master used to say when ho called us from table with half a dinner. Now, there was the case of the blacks in Charleston, in which our government showed clearly it had not studied Vattel, or it never would have given the answer it did. Perhaps you never heard that case, Sir George, and as it touches a delicate principle, I will just run over the category lightly; for it has its points, as well as a coast."

"Does not this matter press—may not the boat—"

"The boat will do nothing, gentlemen, without the permission of Jack Truck. You must know, the Carolinians have a law that all niggers brought into their State by ships, must be caged until the vessel sails again. This is to prevent emancipation, as they call it, or abolition, I know not which. An Englishman comes in from the islands with a crew of blacks, and, according to law, the authorities of Charleston house them all before night. John Bull complains to his minister, and his minister sends a note to our secretary, and our secretary writes to the governor of Carolina, calling on him to respect the treaty, and so on.

Gentlemen, I need not tell you what a treaty is—it is a thing in itself to be obeyed; but it is all-important to know what it commands. Well, what was this said treaty? That John should come in and out of the ports, on the footing of the most favored nation; on the statu quo ante helium principle, as Vattel has it. Now, the Carolinians treated John just as they treated Jonathan, and there was no more to be said. All parties were bound to enter the port, subject to the municipals, as is set forth in Vattel. That was a case soon settled, you perceive, though depending on a nicety."


(Cont. top of p. 53)

Sir George Lad listened with extreme impatience, but, fearful of offending, he listened to the end; then, seizing the first pause in the captain's discourse, he resumed his remonstrances with an interest that did infinite credit to his humanity, at the same time that he overlooked none of the obligations of politeness.

"An exceedingly clear case, I protest," he answered, "and capitally put—I question if Lord Stowell could do it better— and exceedingly apt, that about the ante helium ; but I confess my feelings have not been so much roused for a long time as they have been on account of these poor people. There is something inexpressibly painful in being disappointed as one is getting out in the morning of life, as it were, in this cruel manner ; and rather than see this state of things protracted, I would prefer paying a trifle out of my own pocket. If this wretched attorney will consent, now, to take a hundred pounds and quit us, and carry back with him that annoying cutter with the lugsails, I will give him the money most cheerfully—most cheerfully, I protest."

There is something so essentially respectable in practical generosity, that, though Eve and all the curious auditors of what was passing felt an inclination to laugh at the whole procedure up to this declaration, eye met eye in commendation of the liberality of the baronet. He had shown he had a heart, in the opinion of most of those who heard him, though his previous conversation had led several of the observers to distrust his having the usual quantum of head.

"Give yourself no trouble about the attorney, Sir George," returned the captain, shaking the other cordially by the hand; " he shall not touch a pound of your money, nor do I think he is likely to touch Robert Davis. We have caught the tide on our lee bow, and the current is:wii6erjng;us up" to'windward, like an opposition coach flying over Blackheath.  In a few minutes we shall be in blue water; and then I’ll give the rascal a touch of Vattel that will throw him all aback, if it don't throw him overboard."

(Cont. top of p. 54 through p. 58, hyperlink  http://books.google.com/books?pg=PA54&id=G_NDAAAAYAAJ)

"But the cutter?"

"Why, if we drive the attorney and Grab out of the shift there will be no process in the hands of the others, by which they can carry off the man, even admitting the jurisdiction. I know the scoundrels, and not a shilling shall either of the knaves take from this vessel with my consent. Harkee, Sir George, a word in your ear: two of as d----d cockroaches as ever rummaged a ship's breadroom; I'll see that they soon heave about, or I'll heave them both into their boat, with my own fair hands."

The captain was about to turn away to examine the position of the cutter, when Mr. Dodge asked permission to make a short report in behalf of the minority of the comity (committee), the amount of which was, that they agreed in all things with the majority, except on the point that, as it might become expedient for the ship to anchor again in some of the ports lower down the Channel, it would be wise to keep that material circumstance in view, in making up a final decision in the affair. This report, on the part of the minority, which Mr. Dodge explained to the baronet, partook rather of the character of a caution than of a protest, had quite as little influence on Captain Truck as the opinion of the majority, for he was just one of those persons who seldom took advice that did not conform with his own previous decision; but he coolly continued to examine the cutter, which, by this time, was standing on the same course as the ship, a short distance to windward of her, and edging a little off the wind, so as to bring the two nearer to each other, every yard they advanced.

The wind had freshened to a little breeze, and the captain nodded his head with satisfaction when he heard, even where Be stood On the' quarter-deck, the slapping of the sluggish swell, as the huge bows of the ship" parted the water. At this moment those in the cutter saw the bubbles glide swiftly past them, while to those in the Montauk the motion was still slow and heavy; and yet, of the two, the actual velocity was rather (cont. p. 55) in favor of lie latter, both having about what is technically termed " four-knot way" on them. The officer of the boat was quick to detect the change that was acting against him, and by easing the sheets of his lug-sails, and keeping the cutter as much off the wind as he could, he was soon within a hundred feet of the ship, running along on her weather-beam. The bright soft moonlight permitted the face of a young man in a man-of-war cap, who wore the undress uniform of a sea lieutenant, to be distinctly seen, as he rose in the stern-sheets, which contained also two other persons.
"I will thank you to heave-to the Montauk," said the lieutenant, civilly, while he raised his cap, apparently in compliment to the passengers who crowded the rail to see and hear what passed. " I am sent on the duty of the king, sir."

"I know your errand, sir," returned Captain Truck, whose resolution to refuse to comply was a good deal shaken by the gentlemanlike manner in which the request was made; " and I wish you to bear witness, that if I do consent to your request, it is voluntarily; for, on the principles laid down by Vattel and the other writers on international law, the right of search is a belligerent right, and England being at peace, no ship belonging to one nation can have a right to stop a vessel belonging to another."
"I cannot enter into these niceties, sir," returned the lieutenant, sharply i " I have my orders, and you will excuse me if I say, I intend to execute them."

"Execute them with all my heart, sir: if you are ordered to heave-to my ship, all you have to do is to get on board, if you can, and let us see the style in which you handle yards. As to the people now stationed at the braces, the trumpet that will make them stir is not to be spoken through at the Admiralty The fellow has spirit in him, and I like his principles as an officer, but I cannot admit his conclusions as a jurist. If he flatters himself with being able to frighten us into a new category, now, that is likely to impair national rights, the lad has (cont. p. 56) just got himself into a problem that will need all his logic, and a good deal of his spirit, to get out of again."

"You will scarcely think of resisting a king's officer in British waters !" said the young man, with that haughtiness that the meekest tempers soon learn to acquire under a pennant.

"Resisting, my dear sir! I resist nothing. The misconception is in supposing that you sail this ship instead of John Truck. That is my name, sir; John Truck. Do your errand in welcome, but do not ask me to help you. Come aboard, with all my heart; nothing would give me more pleasure than to take wine with you; but I see no necessity of stopping a packet, that is busy on a long road, without an object, as we say on the other side of the big waters."

There was a pause, and then the lieutenant, with the sort of hesitation that a gentleman is apt to feel when he makes a proposal that lie knows ought not to be accepted, called out that those in the boat with him would pay for the detention of the ship. A more unfortunate proposition could not be made to Captain Truck, who would have hove-to his ship in a moment had the lieutenant proposed to discuss Vattel with him on the quarter-deck, and who was only holding out as a sort of 'salvo to his rights, with that disposition to resist aggression that the experience of the last forty years has so deeply implanted in the bosom of every American sailor, in cases connected with English naval officers, and who had just made up his mind to let Robert Davis take his chance, and to crack a bottle with the handsome young man who was still standing up in the boat.  But Mr. Truck had been too often to London not to understand exactly the manner in which Englishmen appreciate American character; and, among other things, he knew it was the general opinion in the island that money could do any thing with Jonathan, or, as Christophe is said once to have sententiously expressed the same sentiment, "If there were a bag of coffee in h—, a Yankee could be found V> go and bring it out."

The master of the Montauk had a proper relish for his lawful (cont. p. 57) gains as well as another, but he was vain-glorious on the subject of his countrymen, principally because he found that the packets outsailed all other merchant ships, and fiercely proud of any quality that others were disposed to deny them.

At hearing this proposal, or intimation, therefore, instead of accepting it, Captain Truck raised his hat with formal civility and coolly wished the other " good-night." This was bringing the affair to a crisis at once; for the helm of the cutter was borne up, and an attempt was made to run the boat alongside of the ship. But the breeze had been steadily increasing, the air had grown heavier as the night advanced, and the dampness of evening was thickening the canvas of the coarser sails in a way sensibly to increase the speed of the ship. When the conversation commenced, the boat was abreast of the fore-rigging; and by the time it ended, it was barely up with the mizzen. The lieutenant was quick to see the disadvantage he labored under, and he called out " Heave!" as he found the cutter was falling close under the counter of the ship, and would be in her wake in another minute. The bowman of the boat cast a light grapnel with so much precision, that it hooked in the mizzen rigging, and the line instantly tightened so as to tow the cutter. A seaman was passing along the outer edge of the hurricane-house at the moment, coming from the wheel, and with the decision of an old salt, he quietly passed his knife across the stretched cordage, and it snapped like pack-thread. The grapnel fell into the sea, and the boat was tossing in the wake of the ship, all as it might be while one could draw a breath. To furl the sails and ship the oars consumed but an instant, and then the cutter was ploughing the water under the vigorous strokes of her crew.

"Spirited I spirited and nimble!" observed Captain Truck, who stood coolly leaning against a shroud, in a position where he could command a view of all that was passing, improving the opportunity to shake the ashes from his cigar while he spoke; " a fine young fellow, and one who will make an admiral, (cont. p. 68) or something better, I dare say, if he live;—perhaps a cherub in time. Now, if he pull much longer in the back-water of oui wake, I shall have to give him up, Leach, as a little marin-ish: ah! there he sheers out of it, like a sensible youth as he is! Well, there is something pleasant in the conceit of a six-oared boat's carrying a London liner by boarding, even admitting the lad could have got alongside."

So, it would seem, thought Mr. Leach and the crew of the Montauk; for they were clearing the decks with as much philosophy as men ever discover when employed in an unthankful office.

This sang-froid of seamen is always matter of surprise to landsmen; but adventurers who have been rocked in the tempest for years, whose utmost security is a great hazard, and whose safety constantly depends on the command of the faculties, come in time to experience an apathy on the subject of all the minor terrors and excitements of life, that none can acquire ' unless by habit and similar risks. There was a low laugh among the people, and now and then a curious glance of the eye over the quarter, to ascertain the position of the struggling boat; but there the effect of the little incident ceased, so far as the seamen were concerned.

Not so with the passengers. The Americans exulted at the failure of the man-of-war's man; and the English doubted. To them, deference to the crown was habitual, and they were displeased at seeing a stranger play a king's boat such a trick, in what they justly enough thought to be British waters Although the law may not give a man any more right than another to the road before his own door, he comes in time to fancy it, in a certain degree, his particular road. Strictly speaking, the Montauk was perhaps still under the dominion of the English laws, though she had been a league from the land when laying at her anchor, and by this time the tide and her own velocity had swept her broad off into the offing quite as far again; indeed, she had now got to such a distance from the (cont. p. 59) land, that Captain Truck thought it his "duty" to bring matters to a conclusion with the attorney.

First Para,, p. 59 cont. through p. 61 through conclusion of Chapter IV http://books.google.com/books?pg=PA59&id=G_NDAAAAYAAJ)

"Well, Mr. Seal," he said, "I am grateful for the pleasure of your company thus far; but you will excuse me if I decline taking you and Mr. Grab quite to America. Half an hour hence you will hardly be able to find the island ; for as soon as we have got to a proper distance from the cutter, I shall tack to the southwest, and you ought, moreover, to remember the anxiety of the ladies at home."
"This may turn out a serious matter, Captain Truck, on your return passage!. The laws of England are not to be trifled with. Will you oblige me by ordering the steward to hand me a glass of water ? Waiting for justice is dry duty, I find."

"Extremely sorry I cannot comply, gentlemen. Vattel has nothing on the subject of watering belligerents, or neutrals, and the laws of Congress compel me to carry so many gallons to the man. If you will take it in the way of a nightcap, however, and drink success to our run to America, and your own to the shore, it shall be in champagne, if you happen to like that agreeable fluid."

The attorney was about to express his readiness to compromise on these terms, when a glass of the beverage for which he had first asked was put into his hand by the wife of Robert Davis. He took the water, drank it, and turned from the woman with the obduracy of one who never suffered feeling to divert him from the pursuit of gain. The wine was brought, and the captain filled the glasses with a seaman's heartiness.

"I drink to your safe return to Mrs. Seal, and the little gods and goddesses of justice,—Pan or Mercury, which is it? And as for you, Grab, look out for sharks as you pull in. If they hear of your being afloat, the souls of persecuted sailors will set them on you, as the devil chases male coquettes. Well, gentlemen, you are balked this time; but what matters it ? It is but another man got safe out of a country that has too many in it; and I trust we shall meet good friends again (cont. pl 60) this day four months. Even man and wife must part, when the hour arrives."

"That will depend on how my client views your conduct on this occasion, Captain Truck; for he is not a man that it is always safe to thwart."

"That for your client, Mr. Seal!" returned the captain, snapping his fingers. " I am not to be frightened with an attorney's growl, or a bailiff's nod. You come off with a writ or a warrant, I care not which ; I offer no resistance ; you hunt for your man, like a terrier looking for a rat, and can't find him ; I see the fine fellow, at this moment, on deck,—but I feel n0 obligation to tell you who or where he is; my ship is cleared and I sail, and you have no power to stop me; we are outside of all the head-lands, good two leagues and a half off, and some writers say that a gun-shot is the extent of your jurisdiction, once out of which, your authority is not worth half as much as that of my chief cook, who has power to make his mate clean the coppers. Well, sir, you stay here ten minutes longer and we shall be fully three leagues from your nearest land, and then you are in America, according to law, and a quick passage you will have made of it. Now, that is what I call a category."

As the captain made this last remark, his quick eye saw that the wind had hauled so far round to the westward, as to supersede the necessity of tacking, and that they were actually going eight knots in a direct line from Portsmouth. Casting an eye behind him, he perceived that the cutter had given up the chase, and was returning towards the distant roads. Under circumstances so discouraging, the attorney, who began to be alarmed for his boat, which was flying along on the water, towed by the ship, prepared to take his leave; for he was fully aware that he had no power to compel the other to heave-to his ship, to enable him to get out of her. Luckily the water was still tolerably smooth, and with fear and trembling, Mr. Seal succeeded in blundering into the boat; not, however, until the watermen had warned him of their intention to hold on no (cont. p. 61) longer. Mr. Grab followed, with a good deal of difficulty, and just as a hand was about to let go the painter, the captain appeared at the gangway with the man they were in quest of, and said in his most winning manner—

"Mr. Grab, Mr. Davis; Mr. Davis, Mr. Grab: I seldom introduce steerage passengers, but to oblige two old friends I break the rule. That's what I call a category. My compliments to Mrs. Grab. Let go the painter."

The words were no sooner uttered than the boat was tossing and whirling in the caldron left by the passing ship.

 
~~~~~~~~~
 
1 The completion of the historic wayes to the Waterside (Somerby's Landing and Custom House Way) along with the restored boardwalk promenade between them (re)marked with a dedication held on May 18, 2002.

2
At a meeting of the Trustees of the Newburyport Waterfront held March 10, 2002 the board unanimously voted to restore the name "Somerby's Landing" to the westernmost of the five "historic wayes" to the Waterside. Coincidentally, their landmark decision fell on an anniversary, of sorts. At their annual town meeting held March 10, 1751/2 the inhabitants of the Waterside Third Parish of Newbury officially accepted and recorded Somerby's Landing --- as granted to the township "to lay for ways and landing ... forever ..."

However, on June 19, 2006, a quorum of the board of the Newburyport Waterfront Trust decided to retain the reference "Railroad Avenue" to the other "historic waye" situated beside Market Landing Park and the Firehouse (once the Middle Shipyard) ~ however expressed their support of various ways and means to remark the historical and generational milestones in history and history in the making ~ this, the Year of Common Ground, including:

Resolution of the ongoing dispute between the newly organized town of Newburyport and Newbury proprietors over common grounds within the bounds of the newly organized town of Newburyport (once the Third Parish of Newbury, established as a separate town in 1764), which commenced in 1766, and took two generations to resolve, coming to resolution in 1826 with an enforceable public trust for common grounds alongside the Waterside's bodies of water.

Thereby establishing this public trust land on October 28, 1826 by way of the Newbury proprietors’ quitclaim: "
Reserving the road of one and one-half rods wide on the easterly side of the Middle Shipyard or Market Landing, so called, from Merrimac Street to the River … also a four rod way at the southerly end and a four rod way at the northerly end of Frog Pond … also a strip of land one rode (sic) wide all around said Pond adjoining thereto and on the margin thereof, being for public use and at no time hereafter to be appropriated to the private and exclusive rights of said inhabitants.” (Currier’s “Ould Newbury,” page 621)

3 The Ship has long been deployed as a metaphor for the Waterside and Newburyport --- both the ship on the stocks and the ship in full sail, as depicted on Newburyport's city seal. Some have asked if the markers for the "historic wayes to the Waterside" were intentionally designed as part of this motif. Nowise, this must have been an arrangement of special grace2 or a conspiracy of the universe. The coincidence should not be found profound, however, given there are numerous artistic impressions of a clipper ship under a full moon about town. The original source of inspiration remains a mystery for now ...

 
 
 
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