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THE SAILOR'S FRIEND
PHEY that go down to the sea in ships,
That do business in great waters;
These see the works of the Lord, And his wonders in the deep. For he commandeth and raiseth the stormy wind, Which lifteth the waves thereof. They mount up to heaven, They go down again to the depths : Their soul is melted because of trouble. They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, And are at their wit's end. Then they cry unto the Lord in their trouble, And he bringeth them out of their distresses. He maketh the storm a calm, So that the waves thereof are still. Then they are glad because they be quiet ; So he bringeth them unto their desired haven.
My early life was passed in an eastern seaport which, in those days, could boast of an extensive and prosperous commerce with all quarters of the world. Fleets of magnificent ships and square-rigged vessels rode proudly in the harbor or surrounded the wharves with a forest of masts. Owing to causes not necessary to specify, shipping has long since all but forsaken those waters, and wharves which were once alive with business are now deserted and gone to decay.
From the fact that a great proportion of the inhabitants were more or less interested in maritime affairs, nearly every seaman, certainly every master-mariner, was a familiar figure about town, and his characteristics known to all. While a number of these “old salts” were highly esteemed, both as citizens and sailors (the majority of them being neither better nor worse than their class everywhere), there were a few whose reputation was a reproach to the trade, and who, but for their success and efficiency as navigators, would scarcely have been endured for a single voyage. Among the most