Hypocritical Cant, Politics, Satire, Social Justice, Uncategorized

Pilot-Guiding Star-No Compass-Elspeth!

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“T’is most unnatural” murmured Caleb Flaherty,

“Indeed” replied Gabriel O’Hara ” Did you note how the winds bearing us to salvation did abate, once that accursed bird was loosed from its cage!”

They both glance uneasily at the albatross now perching upon its master’s chest, and now hopping blithely across the quarter deck. These courageous stalwarts who, have been unmanned by historic dangers, and now suffering a psychological perturbation, have impressed upon their minds that the way of their deliverance lies in the slaughter of that harmless bird.

Are there any seasons which may account for it? For they do say that change of seasons has a notable effect on the social habits of the predicatorial. Which is a shame, for the long, weary, dismal night has passed, day has come, and all (save the unfortunate shantyman) are alive. The Resurgam has fought her way through the raging waters of the Atlantic Ocean and survived! Helmed by a dauntless and valiant captain, a man whose steadfast tenacity at the wheel has helmed all to safety. The ship has swept through shark infested waters , weathered a tumultuous storm, and now limps on towards her final destination. The sea is becalmed so that the Resurgam may be likened to ‘a painted ship upon a painted ocean’ so little progress has it made in these waters over the last three days.

The sun sweeps down upon the drowsing crew, cossetting all in her balmy embrace. They are two days away from drowning as the ship continues to take on water and yet they care not! Is it any wonder then, that the two most desperate, most murderous sailors aboard ship, have taken it upon themselves to expedite matters, by falling upon the albatross and slitting its throat? Ah! But freedom will reign inspite of earth and hell! The albatross upon seeing the murderous glint of sharpened steel takes flight, and nestled safely amongst  the main sails, looks with a sharp eye upon its would-be slaughterers, who, howling with thwarted intent , clamber swiftly up the main-mast towards it. But the albatross is not stupid and cawing as loudly as its soft voice will allow it, wakens its master to its plight!

“What ho?” Lord Grid-Iron’s first act upon awakening is to reach for the comforting solace of the albatross, which had been nestled snugly against his breast, but she is gone! What ho! Jumping to his feet and looking up towards the crow’s nest he espies Elspeth and the murderous profligates inching their way towards her , with daggers in hand. Ne te quaesiveris extra! For how can one remain virtuous in the face of such evil? With a deliberate calm borne of mild derangement, Lord Grid-Iron seizes the sleeping Methuselah’s crossbow, takes aim and fires! The arrow sped on its way with startling accuracy, hurtles towards its intended victim. It would have hit its mark, were it not for the sudden tilt in the ships hull causing the ill-starred bird to swerve into the path of the arrow’s trajectory! A pain filled sqwark and the albatross is sent plummeting toward the ship!

“Elspeth!”

How accurately dear reader,can one convey the sheer horror contained within that hollow cry? What heart rending grief lies encapsulated in that word! What good fortune then that a hale and hearty breeze has sprung up, brawling its way through the sails of the ship and nudging her forwards! That as the ship picks up speed one and all spring to life, manning the rigging for all they are worth. None have time to glance upon the piteous sight that is Lord Grid-Iron, indeed none would think to empathise  as he grieves miserably over the jinxed albatross that brought the fog and mist.

Faster and now faster the ‘Resurgam’ moves, flying through the waters as though borne on the wings of destiny. Whipped savagely about by the winds which bluster and billow about her sails the ship glides swiftly along as though the devil himself were at her back.The crew strain to hold her in check but she moves like an unbroken stallion straining at the leash, give her liberty or death! With each pulsing blast the ‘resurgam’ is thrust forth till at length a lone cry arises from the crow’s nest.

“Land ahoy! Land ahoy!” t’is a cry echoed joyously by the crew,

“Land ahoy! Look fast! Look fast! Land ahoy!”

“Look on it! Look on it! We’re almost home!”

“New York Harbour ahead!”

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Hackgate, Hypocritical Cant, Politics, Satire, Social Justice, Uncategorized

Pilot-Guiding Star-No Compass- Rocks!

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Have any of us the tolerable notion of the depth and skill required to become a ships captain? To know that all eighteen souls-for the Hindoo Fakirs had also taken passage to the Americas-look to you to steer them to safety? With what agility with what skill and speed a captain must do his work and navigate his ship to safety in waters such as these. Even now to see the vessel attempting to steer it’s way towards a wavering sliver of light, even now to cling on for dear life as the iron-clad hull battered itself upon the savage rocks.

“A ha ha ha! You have us at the rattle!” Lord Grid-Iron chortled midst the crazed turmoil of boiling sea foam,

“Will you be quiet? T’is unnatural behaviour when our souls are in peril! Stop it! Will you stop it? Seamus make him stop it!”

“A ha ha ha! We shall all drown!” chortled Lord Grid-Iron his charcoal locks plastered flat against his skull and his watery blue eyes darting to and fro.

“Oh gawd! Gawd save us! Hail Mary……” screeched Gabriel clutching the ropes which tied him to the ship’s main mast. He had slung his mother’s rosary beads around his neck, now he clutched at these tightly and prayed fervently that the storm might abate, and the ship not break apart upon the bestial rocks.

“A ha ha ha!” cried Lord Grid-Iron once more making the hackles rise on the back of Seamus’s neck, for t’was plain that terror had made the Gombeen fiend take leave of his senses!

“Hand me a grapple hook Seamus!” cried Methuselah O’Houlihan, “I’ve a mind to join Captain Keeler-Breeze at the wheel! Sure he’ll need prodigious help saving the Resurgam from certain doom!” as wave upon violent wave breaks across the deck, Methuselah loses himself from the mast and with grappling hook in wizened hands hacks his way across the sodden deck, toward Captain Keeler-Breeze. He arrives not a moment too soon for the poor captain can scarce clasp the wheel in his frozen claws and that look, such a look! As t’would say I teeter on the precipice of desolate surrender! But Methuselah is full of pluck, with several aggressive tugs on the ship’s wheel he has her turned aft towards that broadening shaft of light, so that her hull scrapes hard against the smaller rocks, narrowly averting collision with the worst of them.

“The storm is abating!” cried Methuselah

“But the waters are infested with sharks and the hull may have sprung a leak!” the good captain cried desperately,

“Take heart! We’ll not drown! Helm there!” replied Methuselah with a salty twinkle in his eye “There! Towards that chasm of light! I’ll check what damage is done!”

With grappling hook held aloft the ancient mariner hurls himself length by length across the deck, hammering the hook into its wood and then hauling himself along, in several strides he is back alongside Lord Grid-Iron, who, clutching fiercely to Elspeth the albatross continues to cackle the crew’s impending doom,

“We shall all drown! Drown! I tell you! HA!”

Not for the first time Methuselah O’Houlihan wonders what degree of hatred could possibly have possessed the Molly Maguires, to have abducted such a one as this, bereft of all the good sense that would have made him a decent tenant landlord to his people. But he has not much time to conjecture, for soon he has bypassed the masts and now slipping below deck he spies a dim light toward the helm of the ship and thinks he hears singing.

Om trayambakam yajaamahe sugandhim pushtivardhanam Urvaarukamiva bandhanaan mrityor muksheeya maamritaat. We worship the three-eyed One.Who is fragrant and Who nourishes well all beings; may He liberate us from death for the sake of immortality even as the cucumber is severed from its bondage”

This exotic song he has heard many a-time, sung above deck by the Hindoo fakirs as they clambered up the ropes and unfurled the sails and as he gets closer to the helm the singing continues gently on, though their voice is joined by another far less gentle and patient.

“Bismillahi! Bail faster! Faster! Hand me those croker sacks!” deftly catching sack upon sack Francis skilfully stuffs the hull breach which has rapidly filled with water, then over the padding he nails several planks of wood, torn off a storage crate of rum.

“T’is done!” he declares

“But she’s still awash!” cried Methuselah

“There’s a larger tear towards the bulkhead!That will take some repairing, come with me!”

Murky dank and cold like an underwater tomb, the ship tilts abruptly to one side and Methuselah and Francis with it, but they abruptly steady themselves against the hull and continue on, sloshing their way through the briny overflow towards the back of the ship. There is the oddest contrast between this ancient stalwart of the sea and this sombre lithesome land lugging warrior, whose dextrous skills swiftly heal the breach in the ship’s side. Plugging it with with croker sacks and several planks of wood from the abundance of rum crates (whose contents he has, sadly, tossed overboard eager to thwart the desire of the crew to immerse themselves in befuddled depravities and at such a time as this!) stored below deck.

“Will she hold do you think?”

Francis shrugged, “We have been travelling for six weeks, the storm blew us off course costing us four days, it should take us another five days to reach port”

“New York is five days away?”

Francis nodded,”At least, if she springs a leak before then? We drown…..slowly…”

Are there words to describe the stark esteem in which Francis the indefatigable is now held by this worthy old dog of the high seas? Stripped to the waist and rippling with the lithe wiry muscle of a woodsman he has not the air of your average gentleman. So dauntless so valiant in a storm that has shaken many a courageous soul! Methuselah harbours a sneaking suspicion that Francis was not always a Pinkerton agent….

To be continued…..

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Hypocritical Cant, Politics, Satire, Social Justice

Pilot-Guiding Star-No Compass-Shark!

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A handsome stalwart native of the Americas and a skilled mariner, since first he fell out of his mother’s apron and onto the Eliza Battle, the estimable captain is thunderstruck! Was not the Mary Celeste his first command? Had he not survived all the dangers and privations of service aboard the Pilgrim, that privateering brig owned by Master Cabot? The captain cannot account therefore, for the grim sense of foreboding that grips him like a shroud as this glistening apparition, this shark, bears down upon his vessel. At times the monstrous, glistening beast lies hid beneath the raging waters, but it is soon upon them and as it nears port-side it swerves, and with an agile flick of it’s tail surges upwards out of the water, and arches itself sideways towards the main sail mast.

Are there any words to describe the terrible sight of those gaping jaws embedded with sharp bone-white teeth? I think not!

“Cover your eyes Kitty! Don’t look!”

Drawing his sou’wester violently over her face he turns her roughly in towards his manly shoulders. Alas dear reader that there could be no protecting of this worthy mistress of the high seas from the Shanty-man’s singing as it was most violently interrupted by his terror-filled shrieks! Thunder crackled overhead, lightning struck the ironclad ship dousing it in ethereal light and t’was plain to see the horror which had transpired then!

“And it’s ho! Ho! Aaargh! Get away! Get awa-aargh!”

To have survived several ship wrecks and kidnappings midst these treacherous waters is no mean feat. Alas, then, for man-eating loan sharks! With a final garbled cry of “Help me! Aaaaargh!” with a brief, flailing about of one pale limb, the poor shantyman was gone! Swallowed whole by that terrible beast who like that terrible terrible beast of sea lore, the leviathan, swiftly disappeared beneath the foaming waves. Captain Keeler-Breeze silently threw up a prayer to that patron saint of monks travelling the high seas, St Brendan (it couldn’t hurt now could it?).

“Now he has the taste of man-flesh in his jaws he’ll be back, t’is little doubt of it!” looking up towards the crow’s nest he espied a lithe figure nimbly sliding down the main mast and headed below deck. T’was the valiant Francis Page gone to call the rest of the crew to battle no doubt!

“Kitty! Uncover the Gatling Gun! Quickly! We won’t have long to wait!”

Apprehending in that instant that God had opened a way through which impending death might be averted, Kitty slid swiftly towards the main deck clasping a grapple hook in her gloved hand. She had barely reached the Gatling Gun when a shard of lightning hit the main mast once more sending shards of it crashing towards the deck. Tearing desperately at the oil skin which covered the gun, she heaved it slowly around to face the ship’s port-side. Lassoing  herself to the gun’s base she gripped the gun firmly by the barrel and the trigger and steeled herself for the shark’s next attack. Like a ‘tossed shuttlecock to the blast’ the ship reeled  back and forth midst the churning waters and t’was all Kitty Grid-Iron could do to cling grimly on to the gun.

“I won’t go I tell you! Noooooo! Nooo! I won’t!”

“Oh but you will!”

“Let me go back to Elspeth! I tell you I won’t do it! I won’t!”

“Ah but you will!” hissed Seamus Geraghty his fierce green eyes were fastened intently on the former Chancellor of the Exchequer, whose pale blue eyes were awash with tears as Seamus grimly thrust a whaling harpoon into his limp, wet palms.

” You’ll do as you’re bid, if you ever wish to see land again! On deck wid ye! Ye Gombeen fiend!”

At this point it must be said dear reader, that though there is much to distinguish the predatory human being from a lone shark, in terms of mindset their natures are one and the same. For, having achieved his nefarious aim (the devouring of human flesh) and that without punitive consequence, the shark returned once more and he came not alone. O! The follies of venturing abroad on the high seas without knowledge of the dangers that may befall thee! Oh! It has grown most bitter, cold and dark with naught but the ethereal sliver of light, which only does aid the good captain in his journey toward home.

“Shark! Shark! Men to the port-side! Steady your positions! Hold yer course! Shark!”

Whale-spade in hand Seamus Geraghty clambers swiftly aboard port-side in time to meet the fierce onslaught of the shark whose sharp teeth,gruesome close up, bear the adorning fragments of the Shanty-man’s remains.

“I’ll have at ye, ye fiend! You’ll ne’er get the better of us! Come ahead damn ye! Come ahead!”

With a ferocious yelp, such as would chill the marrow of any seaman, he sprang upon the beast spade in hand beating it savagely about the head.

“Have at ye! Ye accursed lone shark!”

Is there anything more brutal than a crew of desperate men drawn on to passionately embrace their leaders cause? For lashed by fierce winds and rains the ship’s crew clamber up and over the ships hull, leaping upon shark after shark with such ferocity that  the waters below the ship churn and foam with the shoal’s swift retreat. Such bravery dear reader? Such brutality! The likes of which will be spied many a time ere this arduous adventure is concluded!

And yet, has this particular instance of courageousness been all in vain? For as Seamus’s men clamber back on deck (offering up a swift prayer of thanks to St Gertrude of Nivelles, patron saint of St Bethel’s Asylum, as well as sailors), the bloodied lone shark attempts another surprise onslaught! Hurrah, then, for Kitty Grid-Iron who flinging herself urgently over the Gatling gun pulls hard on the trigger and it seems as if the very fires of hell issue forth from its revolving barrels! With a piercing shriek the devilish fish falls, plummeting back into the waters and disappearing. Peace at last descends, but there is worse to come.

“Rocks ahead!” cries Lord Grid-Iron albatross in hand, “Abandon ship!”

“Ye will not! Ye will stay and face justice!” growls Seamus Geraghty wondering how amidst all the fracas, he had managed to  return below deck, and retrieve the accursed albatross. Nevertheless as the stormy seas continue to break in very fast, all can perceive the truth of his utterances and fastening ropes about themselves and the mid and main-masts, the ship’s crew braces itself against the impending violent collision.

“Tally-Ho! cries Lord Grid-Iron wriggling like an eel beneath Geraghty’s fierce embrace “We’re doomed!”

to be continued…..

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Academies, Hypocritical Cant, Politics, Satire, Social Justice

The Curate’s Egg

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I must dedicate these the humble fruit of my undertakings to that king of kings and lord of lords which dwelleth in the heavenly firmament, St. Gove (sweet Gove!). Since t’is the first attempt I have made to be a public writer there can only be one to whom I might dedicate such a delicate undertaking. T’is he whose benificent gaze shines ever downward upon us (miscreant or otherwise) and whose divine goodness urges us to ever greater heights of quality and rigour the Sainted Gove. The subject of my account is such that were it not for the sake of moral instruction it should not be regaled ‘cept in company so disreputable as to be beyond all redeeming, save at the end of the hangman’s noose.

On the fourteenth day of February, 1876, the Albatross sailed, with full compliment of men and provisions, from the East India Docks in London. The ship was cheered the harbour cleared and merrily did they drop, it did seem, off the face of the earth. For when the ship had run six days out of the harbour the crew were spirited up to an act of piracy by a shipmate on board, one Robby Farthengrodden. An experienced sailor and the only son of a wealthy industrialist of Sloane Square, who had once given into his care two industrial schools (the value of which and its students he had squandered away in profligate degeneracy,drunkeness and riot).

The aforesaid Robby Farthengrodden and the crew having ditched the ship’s officers in a long boat on the high seas, went on a six month long rampage of terror, taking many prizes (amongst them the younger daughter of the governor of Windeypoole) before dropping anchor at the Isle of Hispaniola. Once there and having thoroughly quenched all his wicked and delusive desires he betook himself aboard the Beleaguered Watchman from which he was rescued (it having sunk mid-journey).

Having disembarked at the Royal Docks in London, he was identified by a cabin boy as that depraved miscreant whose wickedness had led to the hanging of the Albatross’s quartermaster. And once taken into custody it was further revealed that this dissolute and hell-bound soul was none other than the ‘Crinoline Jerker’. A licentious being who having taken to diving beneath the skirts of the gentler sex, proceeded to tug violently at their petticoats jerking them to and fro, till at length the fainting women would awaken to find themselves stripped of bonnet, and purse. This evil man had been indicted many times for this offence and had served three years at Newgate Prison as a result and, was to have served a further four, but he absconded having been permitted a day’s release from prison to attend his mother’s funeral. 

Having been indicted for trial Robert Fathengrodden’s defence was this, that whilst Headmaster of St Tobias-in-the-North Industrial Academy, he had run up gambling debts to the sum of some four hundred pounds. Seeking some means whereby he might repay the debt, he had come upon that sum in the form of monies supplied for the purchase of a brass lavatorium and had stolen it (the monies not the lavatorium). Attributing his current predicament to that first misfortune he made his apologies and sought the forgiveness of the court for all offence caused whilst at sea. The court having been made aware of certain elements of his dissolute past (the deflowering and probable murder of Mary Parnham being among them),determined to send him to the gallows.

Indeed, had it not been for the testimony of the Most Reverend Father Antecletes the accused would have been for the long drop ere he departed the Old Bailey! At the place of his execution he stated that his would have been a joyous life devoted solely to the pursuit of ecstatic Goveen reflection had not several industrial schools and, the provision of a brass lavatorium fallen into his care. And that he knew there were many young men there, who followed the same evil course of life that he had done, and hoped they would take warning from his sad fate, and become in time honest and good men.

Reverend Amos Vanderbilt,

Ordinary of Newgate

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