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the " Mill-wrights'," there is a circular saw,
the upper shoulder of whose bright-toothed
disk rises through the horizontal plane of a
long work-bench. The saw is made to revolve
quicker and quicker ; it spins ! — you cannot
see it move, so shade-like it appears from its
velocity ; and a thick plank of hard-grained
and knotty wood, being gently pushed against
its now invisible edge, the grey shadowy
disk runs clean through it in a trice, or rather
the plank runs on each side of the grey shade,
having unconsciously divided itself in the
middle as it ran by.

There is a broad deep basin of brickwork,
an immense well, with apparently several feet
of water at the bottom; and this is the seasoning
tank, in which timber that has been shaped
into beams or thick planks, is lowered and
left to soak for a season. On one side of this
great basin there is a sort of cast-iron bridge;
with various other iron and stonework, which
supports an iron trough hanging in chains.
When they wish to raise one of the pieces of
timber, the trough is filled with water by
means of a pump which " looks into it;" and
this constituting a counterweight to the
timber about to be raised, is then filled till it
exceeds the latter, and then quietly lifts the
timber to the top of the bridge. Upon the
bridge stands an iron carriage of eccentric
outline, which at a little distance is not
unlike a prodigious black tea-pot, or the sacred
tortoise of Indian mythology. It is placed
on a tram-way, and, being harnessed to a
stationary steam-engine by an iron chain, can
creep, or run along the tops of a long row of
iron pillars arranged in pairs, each being
connected by an arch, and the whole of them
forming a vista of low iron archways of a
length the perspective, of which leads the eye
almost to a point. On each side of this are
stacked various piles of seasoned timber, lying
cross-wise, and very close together. The iron
carriage laden with a number of beams and
planks, and moving forward along the tops of
the pillared arches, deposits its load now on
one side, now on the other, each in its
appointed resting-place, where it exhibits
the marks of its birth and parentage
Riga, Dantzic, Norway, Canadaand the
date of its introduction and education in
the Yard.

I approach one of these seasoned stacks,
and, extending my hand, I touch one of the
pieces of timber, to try its texture. It is
uncommonly hard. I give it a poke, and a good
dig or two, with the point of my walking-
stick. How ridiculous I feel at the total
absence of any sort of effect produced, beyond
a dull, blank, and I may say irresponsive
sound, as it certainly makes no sort of response
commensurate with the digs I give it. Yet
these beams are handled, and dandled, and
slung up, and dangled, and raised and lowered,
and moved hither and thither, and fashioned
and fitted by men like myself, as an ordinary

But there is the " Mast-House," and there
we shall find magnificent specimens of choice
timber. Masts are highly historical objects.
We will not fall into the prevailing taste of
the day, and go back to the ancients, in order
to begin our contemplation of masts with the
one which Ulysses, or the Phoenician sailors
considered as the best model, but simply turn
back as far as the mast of our childhood.
Shelley evidently considered that the most
primitive form of mast would comprise mast
and sail in one fabric; and in " Rosalind and
Helen," he speaks of a child delighting his

           " Now, with a dry leaf for a boat,
             With a small feather for a sail."

We must, however, pass on from this first
form of a child's idea of shipbuilding and
rigging, to the same thought when "breeched."
The real child's mast we know to be a bit
of stick set upright with sealing-wax, and
afterwards, with the progress of knowledge,
stuck into a hole in the bottom of the boat.
The stick increases in size with the boat and
the boy, until, having a morsel of tail to his
jacket, he begins to talk about a top-mast, and
then he is " sophisticated," or, at least, the
period of maritime childhood is passed. But,
oh, the wondrous difference between these
early crudities of structure, as of thought,
when we walk into the " mast-house " of a
great English Dockyard! You can scarcely
fit the two ideas together; indeed, the
things you see are not at all like masts, as you
knew them, nor, in truth, as you now know
them. The fact confounds uspartly from
its magnitude, partly from its novel and
unpicturesque position. The mast of a large
ship looked up at in its natural place, rising
out of the ship's deck, with all its yards and
rigging about it, is a very imposing well-
known personage, for whom no familiarity
ever breeds contempt; but the same mast
looked at upon the level of " equal terms," as
it lies along the ground, or in the range of the
mast-house, with the perspective foreshortened
to the eye, so as to look like a series of very
clean beer-barrels, or neatly-painted butts, is
a totally different phenomenon, and stagnates
the imagination, by perplexing, if not
disappointing all its anticipations. It is not the
least strange part of the business that you are
never at your ease and reconciled by seeing a
mast at all like what you expected, neither do
you ever see the extent of the enormities
which lie before you. You look at a huge
mast, which you could scarcely more than half
encompass with expanded arms; you take
this for the main-mast of a seventy-four. On
a small painted board is written, " Fore-top-
mast of a Frigate of the seventh class." You
come to a much larger onea series of clean
beer-barrels, neatly hooped, and not tapering
offthese masts would scorn such a thing
but all of the same goodly dimensions; this,
then, is the fore or main-mast of a line-of-battle