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BY AGNES STONEHEWER.
To what shall I liken my love for thee?
It is not so !
Such is not my love for thee !
My love never changes, 'tis always free
No storms arise,
To dim its skies
And such is my love for thee!
I would not compare my love to the sea,
Now raging here,
Now rippling there;
Such is not my love for thee !
But the ocean of love within my breast,
And such is my love for thee!
FOR THOSE AT SEA.
“Oh, I have suffered
Against my heart. Poor souls, they perished.” OFTEN during summer months just past, and while looking at the gentle rippling surface of Carmarthen Bay, I have heard the exclamation, “ How I should like to see a storm!” The summer visitors went their way, however, without being gratified by witnessing that grandest of all nature's sights, a storm at sea; but winter has come in with a noisy herald, and the trumpet voice of the blast that proclaimed the last month of 1865, will long be remembered.
For nearly a fortnight there had been warning voices in the air, “ the sea and the waves roaring,” hungry for human prey. The heavens one hour hung with heavy black clouds; another, great white pillowy masses, between which drifted a fleecy veil. Then again an even grey pall would be drawn across the ethereal blue ; earth and heaven would seem to unite ; and the vapoury screen press almost palpably upon you ; hiding away the fierce blast, you knew, by the action and tremble in the thick hot air, must be blowing somewhere.
How the sea muttered and thundered upon the sands at low water ; and then as the tide rose again, what a sheet of angry foam there came up, as if the depths had been at war; foam which, caught by the sudden
' gusts of wind, was whirled high up the cliffs and hung upon the manyhued rocks and yellow furze.
There is not usually much sea-rack here, but we have had plenty of it these three weeks past; and there it now lies, “rugged and brown," dire witness of storms out in the heart of the Atlantic; lies, grim enough by day, but by night gleaming with phosphorescent light.
Day after day the warning grew plainer ; until at last the storm king himself was close upon us.
Upon Monday the symptoms grew more demonstrative; the sun rose red and angry, and sank in a perfect glory of rainbow hues, drawing down upon his departing footsteps a dark curtain, as if to shut out the havoc and distress that he left to revel during the long wild night.
It was low water just after sundown, and for awhile all was tolerably calm. Then a distant throbbing went vibrating along the crests of the hills, most resembling the echo that lingers in the vaulted roof of a cathedral after a mighty burst from the organ. Far away upon the low
level beach the sea song was murmuring, exquisitely sweet and solemn, but in it weird voices seemed mingling in eerie song, voices broken by shrill cries and shrieks, which it was almost impossible to believe the piping of wild birds, and which amply accounted for the old Welch superstition of the goblin hounds, who are said to sweep through the air, chilling the listener's blood by their yells and shouts.
The wind did not treat us long to this gentle music ; old Boreas was only striking the key-note, presently he began sounding the chords, gently at first, taking breath, as it might be, between each effort, and listening for the effect.
Until just as the waves touched the cliffs, and the harsher roar told me they were breaking against Selwyne, a fierce gust of wind swept over the hill, striking the house like a hammer, and causing the roof to ttle again. There was a crash, a shiver, and all was over for the present, although you could still hear the mighty rush of the blast as it careered along on its course, and by the time it had sighed itself out, the waves were rushing into the caves, and the vaulted roofs resounded again with hollow mockery.
Some minutes passed, the distant moaning of the tide and soughing of the wind only heard, and then the very hill seemed to bend, while over it came a mighty rushing wind.
Shorter and shorter grew the pauses in the storm, nearer and louder the distress of the sea, until the hurricane was upon us.
What a scene it was then ; how the waves and winds seemed to outvie each other in wild defiance, drowning any poor weak human voices, appalling the senses, and forcing upon the mind that verily God's voice is in the tempest!
But is there no other voice?
What is it that wakes the dull sinking sickening pain at the listener's heart, as there wells up the involuntary prayer
“God help those at sea.”
A few days before this storm burst upon us, I had received from the secretary of the Life Boat Institution a copy of their last issued report, and as the storm thundered on through the long hours of the night, I sat there reading how the wonderful powers of mind given to man by the Almighty Maker, have been applied to the construction of boats, able to defy the raging of the sea, and snatch poor perishing souls from the very jaws of death; boats upon whose construction long years of life study have been spent, until now it would appear, by the grace of God, that we can rule the storms.
I suppose all my readers have heard and know that an institution called the Royal Life Boat Institution exists, having for its object the construction of boats upon the most improved system, and calculated to withstand the usual effect of the sea in stormy weather, and that it further supplies these boats at a much reduced charge, and in some cases gratuitously.
The following extract of life boat regulations, taken from their annual report, will demonstrate their system.
“ The following regulations are intended for the guidance of the local committee to be formed at each place at which a life-boat is stationed by the National Life-Boat Institution, and to whose care and control the life-boat, her crew, and everything connected with her management and maintenance, will be intrusted.
“The local committee to consist, if practicable, of not less than five persons usually resident, to be elected annually. The inspecting commander of coastguard of the division, or in his absence the nearest coastguard officer to the spot, to be ex officio a member of the local committee.
“1. The life-boat's crew to consist of a coxswain-superintendent, an assistant coxswain, a bowman, and as many boatmen in addition as the boat pulls oars.
"2. For every boat, at least double the number of men required (if they can be found at or near the spot) should be invited to become members of her crew.
"3. Such list to consist of sailors and fishermen who are usually resident, and (with permission of the controller-general) of any coastguard men of the station who may volunteer for the service.
“4. The salary of the coxswain-superintendent shall be £?, and that of the assistant coxswain £ 2 annually. On every occasion of going afloat to save life, the coxswains and each of the crew shall receive alike, jos. by day, and £1 by night; and for every time of going afloat for exercise, 3s. in smooth weather, and 5s. in rough weather. In the absence of the coxswain, the assistant coxswain will take charge of the boat. *
“5. In the event of money being received by the life-boat for salvage of property, or similar service, a proportion equal to two shares shall be paid to the institution to cover risk of damage to the boat, the remainder to be divided into equal shares amongst the coxswain and crew. If, however, salvage be paid for the preservation of life, no portion shall be reserved for the boat.
“6. If local subscriptions be raised to reward any special act of gallantry or exertion, the institution recommends that the whole of the money be paid to the crew, in equal shares.
“7. As at each life-boat station there will be a local committee, the coxswain will act under their immediate directions, and the boat, except in case of wreck, is never to be taken afloat without their sanction.
“8. As the efficiency of a life-boat depends on the good training and discipline of her crew, the strictest attention must be paid by them to the directions of the coxswain on all occasions connected with the service. The boat shall be taken afloat for exercise, fully manned, once during each quarter, sometimes in rough weather:
"9. The local committee at each station are requested to make a Quarterly Report to the Institution, as to the behaviour of the boat during exercise, pointing out any defect that may require to be remedied, and offering any suggestion that may conduce to the efficiency of the service. Also generally to report on the state and condition of the boat, the carriage, the boat-house, and all the life-boat gear. Should occasion for immediate repairs arise, the local committee are authorised to make them to the extent of £5; more extensive repairs to be referred, with an estimate, to the Parent Institution.
• The coxswain is held responsible for every man who goes into the life-boat, on occasions of service and of quarterly exercise, without having on a life-belt.
“10. The boat is to be kept on her carriage in the boat-house, with all her gear in her ready for use, except matches, rockets, and perishable articles which may require to be secured from damp.
“11. There should be three keys to the boat-house kept in different places, with the address of each painted on the door ; one in possession of the coxswain, and the others as the local committee may decide.
“ 12. Immediately on intimation of a wreck, or of a vessel in distress, the coxswain is to use his utmost exertions to assemble his crew, launch his boat, and proceed to her assistance; and in the event of a sufficient number of his crew not being present, he is to select the best volunteers he can get to supply their places.
“ 13. If a wreck occur at some distance from the station, so as to require the boat to be transported along the coast, the coxswain is to send to procure sufficient horses (which, by the Wreck and Salvage Act, any magistrate, constable, or revenue officer, may demand the use of), attach them to the carriage, and lose no time in making the best of his way with the crew to the scene of wreck.
“14. A reward of 7s. to be given to the man who first brings intelligence of a wreck at such a distance along the coast as not to be in sight from the coastguard or other look.out.
"15. A signal shall be agreed on by which the life-boat crew can be called together when required. A flag hoisted by day and the firing of a carronade (or other alarm signal) twice, quick, by night.
“ 16. On approaching a wreck, the coxswain will use his judgment, according to the circumstances of the case, whether he will board the wreck end on, either on the bow, on the quarter, or on the broadside ; or whether he will go to windward, drop his anchor, and veer down to the wreck ; or if he will lay her alongside.
“ 17. On boarding wrecks, the preservation of life is to be the coxswain's sole con. sideration, and he is on no account to take in goods or merchandise which might endanger the safety of his boat, and the lives of those entrusted to his charge. And should any be brought in, contrary to his remonstrance, he is fully authorised to throw them overboard.
“ 18. No one besides the crew, namely, the coxswain, the second coxswain, the bowman, and one boatman for each oar, is on any account to be allowed to go out in the life-boat when going to a wreck, except with the express sanction of the local committee.
“19. The life-boat is not to be used for taking off an anchor ; nor for the purpose of salvage ; nor for taking off stores, a pilot, or orders to a ship, so as to interfere with private enterprise, (except in cases of emergency, with the special sanction of the local committee,) but to be reserved for cases involving risk of life.
“20. The coxswain will enter in a journal with which he will be supplied, all services performed by his boat, stating the time of launching, time of reaching the wreck, the vessel's name, whither bound, number of persons rescued, &c., a copy of which, on each occasion of wreck, is to be forwarded, by the local committee, to the Secretary of the Institution in London.
"21. On returning from service, the boat is not to be left in the surf on the beach, but, as soon as possible, is to be got on her carriage, and placed in the boat-house.
“22. The coxswain-superintendent will be held responsible for the efficiency and general good order of the boat-house, the boat, and her gear; and it is hoped that a sense of the trust confided to them in the cause of humanity will lead the coxswains and crew to be most careful on these points, and to distinguish themselves by their zeal and readiness, and by the seaman-like manner in which their boat is handled.”
The field of the operations of the Society extends along the whole coast of the British Isles ; whereon the annual number of wrecks