Page:The life of Matthew Flinders.djvu/253

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addition to their salt meat. And neither in this passage, nor, I may add, in any subsequent part of the voyage, were the officers or people restricted to any allowance of fresh water. They drank freely at the scuttled cask, and took away, under the inspection of the officer of the watch, all that was requisite for culinary purposes; and very frequently two casks of water in the week were given for washing their clothes. With these regulations, joined to a due enforcement of discipline, I had the satisfaction to see my people orderly and full of zeal for the service in which we were engaged; and in such a state of health that no delay at the Cape was required beyond the necessary refitment of the ship."

How wise, considerate, and farseeing this policy was! It reads like the sageness of a gray-headed veteran. Yet Flinders had only attained his 27th birthday precisely seven months before he reached the Cape on this voyage. He had learned how men, as well as ships, should be managed. "It was part of my plan for preserving the health of the people to promote active amusements amongst them," he said of the jollity on crossing the line; and we can almost see the smile of recollection which played upon his lips when he wrote that "the seamen were furnished with the means and the permission to conclude the day with merriment." Seaman Smith, who shared in the fun, tells us what occurred with his own peculiar disregard of correct spelling and grammatical construction: "we crossd the equinocial line and had the usuil serimony of Neptune and his attendance hailing the ship and coming on board. The greatest part of officers and men was shaved, not having crossd the line before. At night grog was servd out to each watch, which causd the evening to be spent in merriment."

At the Cape the seams were re-caulked, and the ship gave less trouble on the voyage across the Indian Ocean