Both Sides of the Curtain

Cover of book Both Sides of the Curtain
Categories: Nonfiction

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TRAVEL AND SONG MY first voyage to Italy, where in after time I was to learn to sing, -was made in 1840, when I was in my fourth year. We embarked on a wooden sailing ship, even at that period wholly devoid of a sense of the ridiculous as a mode of travel. My mother kept a log of the voyage: she was thorough in everything; and a mere diary would have been beneath her notice. Here it is now, in my hands, and in yellow ink that only once was black. It is ruled in columns, with the most mysterious headings?" H.K.F. Courses?Winds? Leeway?Air," and so on, and it affords evidence of a valiant attempt on her part to do justice to them in a seamanlike way. When this fails she takes a mean advantage under " Occurrences," to get in something about the baby and the two other children under her wing. The entries begin with "8rd day of November, 1840." On this day : " The barque Marcelle, from New York towards Genoa," casts off from the wharf at 10 A.m. What an abyss of time between! The Victorian era still in its infancy, to say nothing of the mid-Victorian, only a thing of prophecy andhope! And what a voyage!?an almost solid seven weeks of fair and foul, before we come to anchor inside the " new mole " at Genoa, on the 21st December. It was still, perhaps, a fair record of rapid travel in that remote age. At the outset we are favoured with a short explanation for the benefit of the landlubber: "A nautical day commences at 12 at noon, and ends next day at 12." It is the last he will get, and for the rest he has to shift for himself. " Variation £ Pts. Sandy Hook, bearing by compass West by South, distant 6 miles. Took in top gallant sails at 1 A.m. and double reefed the top sails at 1|." The rather unworkmanlike " All of us sea-sick" ends the somewhat hurried a...

Both Sides of the Curtain
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