Page:Colymbia (1873).djvu/14

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8
COLYMBIA.

ascribed this to the intrigues of the shipbuilders, who set afloat reports derogatory to the safety of the vessel. In fact, he said, a great deal of prejudice had been excited against her by the underhand proceedings of those interested in her failure, whereby passengers and crew had been deterred from taking passage in her. Had it not been for the noble and generous way in which the editors of influential papers had taken up the new principle of shipbuilding, of the merits of which, in their editorial omniscience, they were fully qualified to judge, it is doubtful whether the inventor would ever have had an opportunity of constructing a ship on his principles in this country. In that case, he would, no doubt, have taken his invention to some other country, and the supremacy of the sea would have passed out of the hands of England, perhaps for ever. At least so thought my informant, who was an enthusiast for the new system of shipbuilding, but who, I regret to say, accompanied us no farther than Plymouth, off which port he quitted us in a pilot-smack.

Our captain was a young man, a relative of the inventor, and an implicit believer in the new principle, which he felt convinced was to revolutionise the whole shipbuilding trade, and render voyages by sailing vessels matters of as much certainty as by steamers.

Any doubts that the lack of passengers, the scratch appearance of the crew, the high rate of insurance, and the youth of the captain, might have inspired, were rapidly dispelled when our ship bore away down the Channel with a favourable wind, under a full spread of snowy canvas.

I soon got over the strangeness of shipboard, and