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hair of the same hue. He is a boy in whom I have
perceived nothing incompatible with habits of
studious inquiry and meditation, unless an evanescent
black eye (I was delicate of inquiring how
occasioned) should be so considered. To him am I
indebted for ability to identify a Custom-house
boat at any distance, and for acquaintance with
all the forms and ceremonies observed by a homeward-bound
Indiaman coming up the river, when
the Custom-house officers go aboard her. But for
him, I might never have heard of "the dumbague,"
respecting which malady I am now
learned. Had I never sat at his feet, I might
have finished my mortal career and never known
that when I see a white horse on a barge's sail,
that barge is a lime barge. For precious secrets
in reference to beer, am I likewise beholden to
him, involving warning against the beer of a
certain establishment, by reason of its having
turned sour through failure in point of
demand: though my young sage is not of
opinion that similar deterioration has befallen
the ale. He has also enlightened me touching
the mushrooms of the marshes, and has gently
reproved my ignorance in having supposed
them to be impregnated with salt. His manner of
imparting information, is thoughtful, and
appropriate to the scene. As he reclines beside me,
he pitches into the river, a little stone or piece of
grit, and then delivers himself oracularly, as
though he spoke out of the centre of the spreading
circle that it makes in the water. He never
improves my mind without observing this formula.

With the wise boywhom I know by no
other name than the Spirit of the FortI
recently consorted on a breezy day when the river
leaped about us and was full of life. I had seen
the sheaved corn carrying in the golden fields as
I came down to the river; and the rosy farmer,
watching his labouring-men in the saddle on his
cob, had told me how he had reaped his two
hundred and sixty acres of long-strawed corn last
week, and how a better week's work he had
never done in all his days. Peace and abundance
were on the country-side in beautiful forms and
beautiful colours, and the harvest seemed even to
be sailing out to grace the never-reaped sea in the
yellow-laden barges that mellowed the distance.

It was on this occasion that the Spirit of the
Fort, directing his remarks to a certain floating
iron battery lately lying in that reach of the
river, enriched my mind with his opinions on
naval architecture, and informed me that he
would like to be an engineer. I found him up to
everything that is done in the contracting line by
Messrs. Peto and Brasseycunning in the
article of concretemellow in the matter of
irongreat on the subject of gunnery. When
he spoke of pile-driving and sluice-making, he
left me not a leg to stand on, and I can never
sufficiently acknowledge his forbearance with me
in my disabled state. While he thus discoursed,
he several times directed his eyes to one distant
quarter of the landscape, and spoke with vague
mysterious awe of " the Yard." Pondering his lessons
after we had parted, I bethought me that
the Yard was one of our large public Dockyards,
and that it lay hidden among the crops down in
the dip behind the windmills, as if it modestly
kept itself out of view in peaceful times, and
sought to trouble no man. Taken with this
modesty on the part of the Yard, I resolved to
improve the Yard's acquaintance.

My good opinion of the Yard's retiring
character was not dashed by nearer approach. It
resounded with the noise of hammers beating
upon iron; and the great sheds or slips under
which the mighty men-of-war are built, loomed
business-like when contemplated from the
opposite side of the river. For all that,
however, the Yard made no display, but kept
itself snug under hill-sides of corn-fields, hop-
gardens, and orchards; its great chimneys smoking
with a quietalmost a lazyair, like giants
smoking tobacco; and the great Shears moored
off it, looking meekly and inoffensively out of
proportion, like the Giraffe of the machinery
creation. The store of cannon on the neighbouring
gun-wharf, had an innocent toy-like appearance,
and the one red-coated sentry on duty
over them was a mere toy figure, with a clockwork
movement. As the hot sunlight sparkled
on him he might have passed for the identical
little man who had the little gun, and whose
bullets they were made of lead, lead, lead.

Crossing the river and landing at the Stairs,
where a drift of chips and weed had been trying
to land before me and had not succeeded, but
had got into a corner instead, I found the very
street posts to be cannon, and the architectural
ornaments to be shells. And so I came to the
Yard, which was shut up tight and strong with
great folded gates, like an enormous patent
safe. These gates devouring me, I became
digested into the Yard; and it had, at first, a
clean-swept holiday air, as if it had given over
work until next war-time. Though indeed a
quantity of hemp for rope was tumbling out of
storehouses, even there, which would hardly be
lying like so much hay on the white stones if the
Yard were as placid as it pretended.

Ding, Clash, Dong, BANG, Boom, Rattle, Clash,
BANG, Clink, BANG, Dong, BANG, Clatter, BANG
BANG BANG! What on earth is this! This
is, or soon will be, the Achilles, iron armourplated
ship. Twelve hundred men are working at
her now; twelve hundred men working on stages
over her sides, over her bows, over her stern,
under her keel, between her decks, down in her
hold, within her and without, crawling and
creeping into the finest curves of her lines wherever
it is possible for men to twist. Twelve
hundred hammerers, measurers, caulkers,
armourers, forgers, smiths, shipwrights; twelve
hundred dingers, dashers, dongers, rattlers,
clinkers, bangers bangers bangers! Yet all this
stupendous uproar around the rising Achilles is
as nothing to the reverberations with which the
perfected Achilles shall resound upon the dreadful day
when the full work is in hand for which