+ ~ -
Please report pronunciation problems here. Select and sample other voices. Options Pause Play
Report an Error

infantry and captured the general with his
own hand. As Blucher approached Meaux
the garrison retreated, after blowing up the
powder magazine. On the same day, the
26th of March, the vanguard of the Silesian
army pushed on to Claye, and dislodged
part of Marmont's and Mortier's men after
a sharp brush; at the same time the
Austrians advanced, leaving Generals Wrede
and Sacken with a corps d'armée of thirty
thousand men on the line of the Marne to
protect the rear of the besieging force, and
to guard against surprise.

A few hours later the Allies called out
"check" to Paris; there was one day's hard
fighting, as we have already seen*, and the
game was won.

* See ALL THE YEAR ROUND, New Series, vol. iv.,
p. 367.


ON leaving or approaching the shores of
most civilised countries, the traveller will
probably become acquainted with one of a
class of amphibious persons who are called
pilots. About our own coasts there are
plenty of these red-faced weather-beaten
men, with wonderfully clear eyes, from
which the spirit of the true sailor looks
keenly on to the sea. The men are not,
as a rule, distinguished for " book larning,"
but they have great wisdom of their
own in all matters relating to the sea.
Their vocation is exercised almost out of
knowledge of the multitude; their
important duties are performed silently,
making little noise in the world, unless
some disaster, involving loss of life or
property, call public attention to the pilot's

It seems that little is actually known
about our pilots. Among most people
certain hazy ideas no doubt exist associating
the pilot with a " dark and fearful night,"
according to the song, and something also
is known of the men as bearers of last
expressions of hope and last words of
farewell from friends leaving England;
but beyond these somewhat vague notions
we do not think that much is commonly
known about our pilots and the pilotage

A few months back popular feeling was
agitated considerably on account of the
loss of the tea-clipper Spindrift off Dungeness,
which was attributed to the
negligence of the pilot who had charge of the
ship, and many most extraordinary statements
were publicly made as to the pilot's
duty and his conduct, which revealed the
existence of a vast amount of ignorance on
the subject. More recently, too, honourable
gentlemen in the House of Commons have
had a great deal to say on the general
topic of pilotage, a bill having been
introduced by the government to abolish
compulsory pilotage. With all respect to our
legislators, we must express our astonishment
at the random statements and
erroneous opinions which marked the discussion
of the question.

We propose to furnish our readers with
some facts and interesting details concerning
this most useful class of men and their

Every one probably knows that our
coasts, like all other coasts in the world,
are surrounded by rocks and shoals; that
at the entrances to our ports and rivers
there are narrow winding channels between
sandbanks, and perplexing cross tides,
caused by the irregularities of the coast
line. Of course all these dangers and
difficulties are liable to be enhanced by
gales of wind and consequent high seas.
Another source of confusion to those who
are not acquainted with the neighbourhood
are the numerous guiding marks placed
about the lights and buoys of which we
have spoken in former articles.* These, if
not thoroughly understood by the mariner,
are very apt to perplex and mislead.
Navigation in the open sea out of sight of land
is comparatively pleasant and easy in fine
weather. And even in bad weather it is
better to have plenty of sea room, so that
even if the ship be driven out of her course
she runs into no danger. But near the land,
the navigation of a ship is a very different
matter; she is continually surrounded by
the many dangers we have referred to,
which, of course, vary according to the
locality. Whoever has charge of the vessel
is compelled to exercise unremitting attention;
he must know exactly the
peculiarities of the neighbourhood, the true
positions of the shoals, the set of the tide,
the depths of water, and, in fact, must
possess a great deal of local knowledge.

As the law now stands in England, all
vessels navigating within certain bounds
are compelled to have a duly qualified
person on board to take charge of the ship
in those waters, and this is called
compulsory pilotage. Time was when pilotage
was free, when, if a master thought he
could take his ship through a dangerous
locality, he was perfectly at liberty to try,

* See ALL THE YEAR ROUND, New Series, vol. ii.,
p. 473; vol. iii., p. 282.