Roundabout Papers, by William Makepeace Thackeray

On Ribbons.

The uncle of the present Sir Louis N. Bonaparte, K.G., &c., inaugurated his reign as Emperor over the neighboring nation by establishing an Order, to which all citizens of his country, military, naval, and civil — all men most distinguished in science, letters, arts, and commerce — were admitted. The emblem of the Order was but a piece of ribbon, more or less long or broad, with a toy at the end of it. The Bourbons had toys and ribbons of their own, blue, black, and all-colored; and on their return to dominion such good old Tories would naturally have preferred to restore their good old orders of Saint Louis, Saint Esprit, and Saint Michel; but France had taken the ribbon of the Legion of Honor so to her heart that no Bourbon sovereign dared to pluck it thence.

In England, until very late days, we have been accustomed rather to pooh-pooh national Orders, to vote ribbons and crosses tinsel gewgaws, foolish foreign ornaments, and so forth. It is known how the Great Duke (the breast of whose own coat was plastered with some half-hundred decorations) was averse to the wearing of ribbons, medals, clasps, and the like, by his army. We have all of us read how uncommonly distinguished Lord Castlereagh looked at Vienna, where he was the only gentleman present without any decoration whatever. And the Great Duke’s theory was, that clasps and ribbons, stars and garters, were good and proper ornaments for himself, for the chief officers of his distinguished army, and for gentlemen of high birth, who might naturally claim to wear a band of garter blue across their waistcoats; but that for common people your plain coat, without stars and ribbons, was the most sensible wear.

And no doubt you and I are as happy, as free, as comfortable; we can walk and dine as well; we can keep the winter’s cold out as well, without a star on our coats, as without a feather in our hats. How often we have laughed at the absurd mania of the Americans for dubbing their senators, members of Congress, and States’ representatives, Honorable. We have a right to call OUR Privy Councillors Right Honorable, our Lords’ sons Honorable, and so forth; but for a nation as numerous, well educated, strong, rich, civilized, free as our own, to dare to give its distinguished citizens titles of honor — monstrous assumption of low-bred arrogance and parvenu vanity! Our titles are respectable, but theirs absurd. Mr. Jones, of London, a Chancellor’s son, and a tailor’s grandson, is justly Honorable, and entitled to be Lord Jones at his noble father’s decease: but Mr. Brown, the senator from New York, is a silly upstart for tacking Honorable to his name, and our sturdy British good sense laughs at him. Who has not laughed (I have myself) at Honorable Nahum Dodge, Honorable Zeno Scudder, Honorable Hiram Boake, and the rest? A score of such queer names and titles I have smiled at in America. And, mutato nomine? I meet a born idiot, who is a peer and born legislator. This drivelling noodle and his descendants through life are your natural superiors and mine — your and my children’s superiors. I read of an alderman kneeling and knighted at court: I see a gold-stick waddling backwards before Majesty in a procession, and if we laugh, don’t you suppose the Americans laugh too?

Yes, stars, garters, orders, knighthoods, and the like, are folly. Yes, Bobus, citizen and soap-boiler, is a good man, and no one laughs at him or good Mrs. Bobus, as they have their dinner at one o’clock. But who will not jeer at Sir Thomas on a melting day, and Lady Bobus, at Margate, eating shrimps in a donkey-chaise? Yes, knighthood is absurd: and chivalry an idiotic superstition: and Sir Walter Manny was a zany: and Nelson, with his flaming stars and cordons, splendent upon a day of battle, was a madman: and Murat, with his crosses and orders, at the head of his squadrons charging victorious, was only a crazy mountebank, who had been a tavern-waiter, and was puffed up with absurd vanity about his dress and legs. And the men of the French line at Fontenoy, who told Messieurs de la Garde to fire first, were smirking French dancing-masters; and the Black Prince, waiting upon his royal prisoner, was acting an inane masquerade: and Chivalry is naught; and honor is humbug; and Gentlemanhood is an extinct folly; and Ambition is madness; and desire of distinction is criminal vanity; and glory is bosh; and fair fame is idleness; and nothing is true but two and two; and the color of all the world is drab; and all men are equal; and one man is as tall as another; and one man is as good as another — and a great dale betther, as the Irish philosopher said.

Is this so? Titles and badges of honor are vanity; and in the American Revolution you have his Excellency General Washington sending back, and with proper spirit sending back, a letter in which he is not addressed as Excellency and General. Titles are abolished; and the American Republic swarms with men claiming and bearing them. You have the French soldier cheered and happy in his dying agony, and kissing with frantic joy the chief’s hand who lays the little cross on the bleeding bosom. At home you have the Dukes and Earls jobbing and intriguing for the Garter; the Military Knights grumbling at the Civil Knights of the bath; the little ribbon eager for the collar; the soldiers and seamen from India and the Crimea marching in procession before the Queen, and receiving from her hands the cross bearing her royal name. And, remember, there are not only the cross wearers, but all the fathers and friends; all the women who have prayed for their absent heroes; Harry’s wife, and Tom’s mother, and Jack’s daughter, and Frank’s sweetheart, each of whom wears in her heart of hearts afterwards the badge which son, father, lover, has won by his merit; each of whom is made happy and proud, and is bound to the country by that little bit of ribbon.

I have heard, in a lecture about George the Third, that, at his accession, the King had a mind to establish an order for literary men. It was to have been called the Order of Minerva — I suppose with an Owl for a badge. The knights were to have worn a star of sixteen points, and a yellow ribbon; and good old Samuel Johnson was talked of as President, or Grand Cross, or Grand Owl, of the society. Now about such an order as this there certainly may be doubts. Consider the claimants, the difficulty of settling their claims, the rows and squabbles amongst the candidates, and the subsequent decision of posterity! Dr. Beattie would have ranked as first poet, and twenty years after the sublime Mr. Hayley would, no doubt, have claimed the Grand Cross. Mr. Gibbon would not have been eligible, on account of his dangerous freethinking opinions; and her sex, as well as her republican sentiments, might have interfered with the knighthood of the immortal Mrs. Catharine Macaulay. How Goldsmith would have paraded the ribbon at Madame Cornelys’s, or the Academy dinner! How Peter Pindar would have railed at it! Fifty years later, the noble Scott would have worn the Grand Cross and deserved it; but Gifford would have had it; and Byron, and Shelley, and Hazlitt, and Hunt would have been without it; and had Keats been proposed as officer, how the Tory prints would have yelled with rage and scorn! Had the star of Minerva lasted to our present time — but I pause, not because the idea is dazzling, but too awful. Fancy the claimants, and the row about their precedence! Which philosopher shall have the grand cordon? — which the collar? — which the little scrap no bigger than a buttercup? Of the historians — A, say — and C, and F, and G, and S, and T — which shall be Companion and which Grand Owl? Of the poets, who wears, or claims, the largest and brightest star? Of the novelists, there is A, and B and C D; and E (star of first magnitude, newly discovered), and F (a magazine of wit), and fair G, and H, and I, and brave old J, and charming K, and L, and M, and N, and O (fair twinklers), and I am puzzled between three P’s — Peacock, Miss Pardoe, and Paul Pry — and Queechy, and R, and S, and T, mere et fils, and very likely U, O gentle reader, for who has not written his novel now-a-days? — who has not a claim to the star and straw-colored ribbon? — and who shall have the biggest and largest? Fancy the struggle! Fancy the squabble! Fancy the distribution of prizes!

Who shall decide on them? Shall it be the sovereign? shall it be the Minister for the time being? and has Lord Palmerston made a deep study of novels? In this matter the late Ministry,8 to be sure, was better qualified; but even then, grumblers who had not got their canary cordons, would have hinted at professional jealousies entering the Cabinet; and, the ribbons being awarded, Jack would have scowled at his because Dick had a broader one; Ned been indignant because Bob’s was as large: Tom would have thrust his into the drawer, and scorned to wear it at all. No — no: the so-called literary world was well rid of Minerva and her yellow ribbon. The great poets would have been indifferent, the little poets jealous, the funny men furious, the philosophers satirical, the historians supercilious, and, finally, the jobs without end. Say, ingenuity and cleverness are to be rewarded by State tokens and prizes — and take for granted the Order of Minerva is established — who shall have it? A great philosopher? no doubt we cordially salute him G.C.M. A great historian? G.C.M. of course. A great engineer? G.C.M. A great poet? received with acclamation G.C.M. A great painter? oh! certainly, G.C.M. If a great painter, why not a great novelist? Well, pass, great novelist, G.C.M. But if a poetic, a pictorial, a story-telling or music-composing artist, why not a singing artist? Why not a basso-profondo? Why not a primo tenore? And if a singer, why should not a ballet-dancer come bounding on the stage with his cordon, and cut capers to the music of a row of decorated fiddlers? A chemist puts in his claim for having invented a new color; an apothecary for a new pill; the cook for a new sauce; the tailor for a new cut of trousers. We have brought the star of Minerva down from the breast to the pantaloons. Stars and garters! can we go any farther; or shall we give the shoe maker the yellow ribbon of the order for his shoetie?

8 That of Lord Derby, in 1859, which included Mr. Disraeli and Sir Edward Bulwer Lytton.

When I began this present Roundabout excursion, I think I had not quite made up my mind whether we would have an Order of all the Talents or not: perhaps I rather had a hankering for a rich ribbon and gorgeous star, in which my family might like to see me at parties in my best waistcoat. But then the door opens, and there come in, and by the same right too, Sir Alexis Soyer! Sir Alessandro Tamburini! Sir Agostino Velluti! Sir Antonio Paganini (violinist)! Sir Sandy McGuffog (piper to the most noble the Marquis of Farintosh)! Sir Alcide Flicflac (premier danseur of H. M. Theatre)! Sir Harley Quin and Sir Joseph Grimaldi (from Covent Garden)! They have all the yellow ribbon. They are all honorable, and clever, and distinguished artists. Let us elbow through the rooms, make a bow to the lady of the house, give a nod to Sir George Thrum, who is leading the orchestra, and go and get some champagne and seltzer-water from Sir Richard Gunter, who is presiding at the buffet. A national decoration might be well and good: a token awarded by the country to all its benemerentibus: but most gentlemen with Minerva stars would, I think, be inclined to wear very wide breast-collars to their coats. Suppose yourself, brother penman, decorated with this ribbon, and looking in the glass, would you not laugh? Would not wife and daughters laugh at that canary-colored emblem?

But suppose a man, old or young, of figure ever so stout, thin, stumpy, homely, indulging in looking-glass reflections with that hideous ribbon and cross called V. C. on his coat, would he not be proud? and his family, would they not be prouder? For your nobleman there is the famous old blue garter and star, and welcome. If I were a marquis — if I had thirty — forty thousand a year (settle the sum, my dear Alnaschar, according to your liking), I should consider myself entitled to my seat in Parliament and to my garter. The garter belongs to the Ornamental Classes. Have you seen the new magnificent Pavo Spicifer at the Zoological Gardens, and do you grudge him his jewelled coronet and the azure splendor of his waistcoat? I like my Lord Mayor to have a gilt coach; my magnificent monarch to be surrounded by magnificent nobles: I huzzay respectfully when they pass in procession. It is good for Mr. Briefless (50, Pump Court, fourth floor) that there should be a Lord Chancellor, with a gold robe and fifteen thousand a year. It is good for a poor curate that there should be splendid bishops at Fulham and Lambeth: their lordships were poor curates once, and have won, so to speak, their ribbon. Is a man who puts into a lottery to be sulky because he does not win the twenty thousand pounds prize? Am I to fall into a rage, and bully my family when I come home, after going to see Chatsworth or Windsor, because we have only two little drawing-rooms? Welcome to your garter, my lord, and shame upon him qui mal y pense!

So I arrive in my roundabout way near the point towards which I have been trotting ever since we set out.

In a voyage to America, some nine years since, on the seventh or eighth day out from Liverpool, Captain L—— came to dinner at eight bells as usual, talked a little to the persons right and left of him, and helped the soup with his accustomed politeness. Then he went on deck, and was back in a minute, and operated on the fish, looking rather grave the while.

Then he went on deck again; and this time was absent, it may be, three or five minutes, during which the fish disappeared, and the entrees arrived, and the roast beef. Say ten minutes passed — I can’t tell after nine years.

Then L—— came down with a pleased and happy countenance this time, and began carving the sirloin: “We have seen the light,” he said. “Madam, may I help you to a little gravy, or a little horse-radish?” or what not?

I forget the name of the light; nor does it matter. It was a point off Newfoundland for which he was on the look-out, and so well did the “Canada” know where she was, that, between soup and beef, the captain had sighted the headland by which his course was lying.

And so through storm and darkness, through fog and midnight, the ship had pursued her steady way over the pathless ocean and roaring seas, so surely that the officers who sailed her knew her place within a minute or two, and guided us with a wonderful providence safe on our way. Since the noble Cunard Company has run its ships, but one accident, and that through the error of a pilot, has happened on the line.

By this little incident (hourly of course repeated, and trivial to all sea-going people) I own I was immensely moved, and never can think of it but with a heart full of thanks and awe. We trust our lives to these seamen, and how nobly they fulfil their trust! They are, under heaven, as a providence for us. Whilst we sleep, their untiring watchfulness keeps guard over us. All night through that bell sounds at its season, and tells how our sentinels defend us. It rang when the “Amazon” was on fire, and chimed its heroic signal of duty, and courage, and honor. Think of the dangers these seamen undergo for us: the hourly peril and watch; the familiar storm; the dreadful iceberg; the long winter nights when the decks are as glass, and the sailor has to climb through icicles to bend the stiff sail on the yard! Think of their courage and their kindnesses in cold, in tempest, in hunger, in wreck! “The women and children to the boats,” says the captain of the “Birkenhead,” and, with the troops formed on the deck, and the crew obedient to the word of glorious command, the immortal ship goes down. Read the story of the “Sarah Sands:"—

“SARAH SANDS.

“The screw steamship ‘Sarah Sands,’ 1,330 registered tons, was chartered by the East India Company in the autumn of 1858, for the conveyance of troops to India. She was commanded by John Squire Castle. She took out a part of the 54th Regiment, upwards of 350 persons, besides the wives and children of some of the men, and the families of some of the officers. All went well till the 11th November, when the ship had reached lat. 14 S., long. 56 E., upwards of 400 miles from the Mauritius.

“Between three and four P. M. on that day a very strong smell of fire was perceived arising from the after-deck, and upon going below into the hold, Captain Castle found it to be on fire, and immense volumes of smoke arising from it. Endeavors were made to reach the seat of the fire, but in vain; the smoke and heat were too much for the men. There was, however, no confusion. Every order was obeyed with the same coolness and courage with which it was given. The engine was immediately stopped. All sail was taken in, and the ship brought to the wind, so as to drive the smoke and fire, which was in the after-part of the ship, astern. Others were, at the same time, getting fire-hoses fitted and passed to the scene of the fire. The fire, however, continued to increase, and attention was directed to the ammunition contained in the powder-magazines, which were situated one on each side the ship immediately above the fire. The star-board magazine was soon cleared. But by this time the whole of the after-part of the ship was so much enveloped in smoke that it was scarcely possible to stand, and great fears were entertained on account of the port magazine. Volunteers were called for, and came immediately, and, under the guidance of Lieutenant Hughes, attempted to clear the port magazine, which they succeeded in doing, with the exception, as was supposed, of one or two barrels. It was most dangerous work. The men became overpowered with the smoke and heat, and fell; and several, while thus engaged, were dragged up by ropes, senseless.

“The flames soon burst up through the deck, and running rapidly along the various cabins, set the greater part on fire.

“In the meantime Captain Castle took steps for lowering the boats. There was a heavy gale at the time, but they were launched without the least accident. The soldiers were mustered on deck; — there was no rush to the boats; and the men obeyed the word of command as if on parade. The men were informed that Captain Castle did not despair of saving the ship, but that they must be prepared to leave her if necessary. The women and children were lowered into the port lifeboat, under the charge of Mr. Very, third officer, who had orders to keep clear of the ship until recalled.

“Captain Castle then commenced constructing rafts of spare spars. In a short time, three were put together, which would have been capable of saving a great number of those on board. Two were launched overboard, and safely moored alongside, and then a third was left across the deck forward, ready to be launched.

“In the meantime the fire had made great progress. The whole of the cabins were one body of fire, and at about 8.30 P. M. flames burst through the upper deck, and shortly after the mizzen rigging caught fire. Fears were entertained of the ship paying off, in which case the flames would have been swept forwards by the wind; but fortunately the after-braces were burnt through, and the main-yard swung round, which kept the ship’s head to wind. About nine P. M., a fearful explosion took place in the port magazine, arising, no doubt, from the one or two barrels of powder which it had been impossible to remove. By this time the ship was one body of flame, from the stern to the main rigging, and thinking it scarcely possible to save her, Captain Castle called Major Brett (then in command of the troops, for the Colonel was in one of the boats) forward, and, telling him that he feared the ship was lost, requested him to endeavor to keep order amongst the troops till the last, but, at the same time, to use every exertion to check the fire. Providentially, the iron bulkhead in the after-part of the ship withstood the action of the flames, and here all efforts were concentrated to keep it cool.

“‘No person,’ says the captain, ‘can describe the manner in which the men worked to keep the fire back; one party were below, keeping the bulkhead cool, and when several were dragged up senseless, fresh volunteers took their places, who were, however, soon in the same state. At about ten P. M., the maintopsail-yard took fire. Mr. Welch, one quartermaster, and four or five soldiers, went aloft with wet blankets, and succeeded in extinguishing it, but not until the yard and mast were nearly burnt through. The work of fighting the fire below continued for hours, and about midnight it appeared that some impression was made; and after that, the men drove it back, inch by inch, until daylight, when they had completely got it under. The ship was now in a frightful plight. The after-part was literally burnt out — merely the shell remaining — the port quarter blown out by the explosion: fifteen feet of water in the hold.’

“The gale still prevailed, and the ship was rolling and pitching in a heavy sea, and taking in large quantities of water abaft: the tanks, too, were rolling from side to side in the hold.

“As soon as the smoke was partially cleared away, Captain Castle got spare sails and blankets aft to stop the leak, passing two hawsers round the stern, and setting them up. The troops were employed baling and pumping. This continued during the whole morning.

“In the course of the day the ladies joined the ship. The boats were ordered alongside, but they found the sea too heavy to remain there. The gig had been abandoned during the night, and the crew, under Mr. Wood, fourth officer, had got into another of the boats. The troops were employed the remainder of the day baling and pumping, and the crew securing the stern. All hands were employed during the following night baling and pumping, the boats being moored alongside, where they received some damage. At daylight, on the 13th, the crew were employed hoisting time boats, the troops were working manfully baling and pumping. Latitude at noon, 13 deg. 12 min. south. At five P. M., the foresail and foretopsail were set, the rafts were cut away, and the ship bore for the Mauritius. On Thursday, the 19th, she sighted the Island of Rodrigues, and arrived at Mauritius on Monday the 23rd.”

The Nile and Trafalgar are not more glorious to our country, are not greater victories than these won by our merchant-seamen. And if you look in the Captain’s reports of any maritime register, you will see similar acts recorded every day. I have such a volume for last year, now lying before me. In the second number, as I open it at hazard, Captain Roberts, master of the ship “Empire,” from Shields to London, reports how on the 14th ult. (the 14th December, 1859), he, “being off Whitby, discovered the ship to be on fire between the main hold and boilers: got the hose from the engine laid on, and succeeded in subduing the fire; but only apparently; for at seven the next morning, the ‘Dudgeon’ bearing S.S.E. seven miles’ distance, the fire again broke out, causing the ship to be enveloped in flames on both sides of midships: got the hose again into play and all hands to work with buckets to combat with the fire. Did not succeed in stopping it till four P. M., to effect which, were obliged to cut away the deck and top sides, and throw overboard part of the cargo. The vessel was very much damaged and leaky: determined to make for the Humber. Ship was run on shore, on the mud, near Grimsby harbor, with five feet of water in her hold. The donkey-engine broke down. The water increased so fast as to put out the furnace fires and render the ship almost unmanageable. On the tide flowing, a tug towed the ship off the mud, and got her into Grimsby to repair.”

On the 2nd of November, Captain Strickland, of the “Purchase” brigantine, from Liverpool to Yarmouth, U. S., “encountered heavy gales from W.N.W. to W.S.W., in lat. 43 deg. N., long. 34 deg. W., in which we lost jib, foretopmast, staysail, topsail, and carried away the foretopmast stays, bobstays and bowsprit, headsails, cut-water and stern, also started the wood ends, which caused the vessel to leak. Put her before the wind and sea, and hove about twenty-five tons of cargo overboard to lighten the ship forward. Slung myself in a bowline, and by means of thrusting 2 1/2-inch rope in the opening, contrived to stop a great portion of the leak.

“December 16th. — The crew continuing night and day at the pumps, could not keep the ship free; deemed it prudent for the benefit of those concerned to bear up for the nearest port. On arriving in lat. 48 deg. 45’ N., long. 23 deg. W., observed a vessel with a signal of distress flying. Made towards her, when she proved to be the barque ‘Carleton,’ water-logged. The captain and crew asked to be taken off. Hove to, and received them on board, consisting of thirteen men: and their ship was abandoned. We then proceeded on our course, the crew of the abandoned vessel assisting all they could to keep my ship afloat. We arrived at Cork harbor on the 27th ult.”

Captain Coulson, master of the brig “Othello,” reports that his brig foundered off Portland, December 27; — encountering a strong gale, and shipping two heavy seas in succession, which hove the ship on her beam-ends. “Observing no chance of saving the ship, took to the long boat, and within ten minutes of leaving her saw the brig founder. We were picked up the same morning by the French ship ‘Commerce de Paris,’ Captain Tombarel.”

Here, in a single column of a newspaper, what strange, touching pictures do we find of seamen’s dangers, vicissitudes, gallantry, generosity! The ship on fire — the captain in the gale slinging himself in a bowline to stop the leak — the Frenchman in the hour of danger coming to his British comrade’s rescue — the brigantine almost a wreck, working up to the barque with the signal of distress flying, and taking off her crew of thirteen men. “We then proceeded on our course, THE CREW OF THE ABANDONED VESSEL ASSISTING ALL THEY COULD TO KEEP MY SHIP AFLOAT.” What noble, simple words! What courage, devotedness, brotherly love! Do they not cause the heart to beat, and the eyes to fill?

This is what seamen do daily, and for one another. One lights occasionally upon different stories. It happened, not very long since, that the passengers by one of the great ocean steamers were wrecked, and, after undergoing the most severe hardships, were left, destitute and helpless, at a miserable coaling port. Amongst them were old men, ladies, and children. When the next steamer arrived, the passengers by that steamer took alarm at the haggard and miserable appearance of their unfortunate predecessors, and actually REMONSTRATED WITH THEIR OWN CAPTAIN, URGING HIM NOT TO TAKE THE POOR CREATURES ON BOARD. There was every excuse, of course. The last-arrived steamer was already dangerously full: the cabins were crowded; there were sick and delicate people on board — sick and delicate people who had paid a large price to the company for room, food, comfort, already not too sufficient. If fourteen of us are in an omnibus, will we see three or four women outside and say “Come in, because this is the last ‘bus, and it rains?” Of course not: but think of that remonstrance, and of that Samaritan master of the “Purchase” brigantine!

In the winter of ‘53, I went from Marseilles to Civita Vecchia, in one of the magnificent P. and O. ships, the “Valetta,” the master of which subsequently did distinguished service in the Crimea. This was his first Mediterranean voyage, and he sailed his ship by the charts alone, going into each port as surely as any pilot. I remember walking the deck at night with this most skilful, gallant, well-bred, and well-educated gentleman, and the glow of eager enthusiasm with which he assented, when I asked him whether he did not think a RIBBON or ORDER would be welcome or useful in his service.

Why is there not an ORDER OF BRITANNIA for British seamen? In the Merchant and the Royal Navy alike, occur almost daily instances and occasions for the display of science, skill, bravery, fortitude in trying circumstances, resource in danger. In the first number of the Cornhill Magazine, a friend contributed a most touching story of the M’Clintock expedition, in the dangers and dreadful glories of which he shared; and the writer was a merchant captain. How many more are there (and, for the honor of England, may there be many like him!)— gallant, accomplished, high-spirited, enterprising masters of their noble profession! Can our fountain of Honor not be brought to such men? It plays upon captains and colonels in seemly profusion. It pours forth not illiberal rewards upon doctors and judges. It sprinkles mayors and aldermen. It bedews a painter now and again. It has spirited a baronetcy upon two, and bestowed a coronet upon one noble man of letters. Diplomatists take their Bath in it as of right; and it flings out a profusion of glittering stars upon the nobility of the three kingdoms. Cannot Britannia find a ribbon for her sailors? The Navy, royal or mercantile, is a Service. The command of a ship, or the conduct of her, implies danger, honor, science, skill, subordination, good faith. It may be a victory, such as that of the “Sarah Sands;” it may be discovery, such as that of the “Fox;” it may be heroic disaster, such as that of the “Birkenhead;” and in such events merchant seamen, as well as royal seamen, take their share.

Why is there not, then, an Order of Britannia? One day a young officer of the “Euryalus”9 may win it; and, having just read the memoirs of LORD DUNDONALD, I know who ought to have the first Grand Cross.

9 Prince Alfred was serving on board the frigate “Euryalus” when this was written.

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/t/thackeray/william_makepeace/roundabout/chapter3.html

Last updated Tuesday, March 4, 2014 at 19:07