[Illustration: A ship towed to land by bullocks.]
Swimming is a manly exercise, and one in which, under proper care, every little boy ought to be instructed. In the first place it is a very healthy and invigorating practice frequently to immerse the body in water: and when we recollect how often the knowledge of this art has been blessed by the Supreme Disposer of events as a means of saving his rational creatures from sudden death, it seems that to neglect this object is almost to refuse to avail ourselves of one of the means of safety, which a kind Providence has placed within our reach.
Only imagine yourself to be, as many before you have been, in a situation of pressing danger on the sea, and yet at no great distance from the land, so that you might hope to reach it by swimming, but to remain on board the vessel appeared certain death, how thankful you would then feel to your friends if they had put this means of escape into your power! Or if you were to see some unfortunate fellow-creature struggling in the water, and about to disappear from your sight, how willingly, if conscious of your own power to support yourself, would you plunge into the water to his rescue! and how would your heart glow with delight if your efforts to save him should prove successful!
Here is a picture representing the very remarkable preservation of the crew of a vessel on the coast of Newfoundland. In this instance man availed himself of the instinct which ever prompts the brute creation to self-preservation. The ship was freighted with live cattle; in a dreadful storm she was dismasted, and became a mere wreck. The crew being unable to manage her, it occurred to the captain, whose name was Drummond, as a last resort, to attach some ropes to the horns of some of the bullocks, and turn them into the sea. This was done, the bullocks swam towards land and towed the ship to the shore. Thus the lives of the crew were saved.
The Royal George was an old ship; she had seen much service. Her build was rather short and high, but she sailed well, and carried the tallest masts and squarest canvas of any of England’s gun-ships. She had just returned from Spithead, where there were twenty or thirty ships of war, called a fleet, lying under command of Lord Howe. It was on the 29th of August, 1782. She was lying off Portsmouth; her decks had been washed the day before, and the carpenter discovered that the pipes which admitted water to cleanse the ship was worn out, and must be replaced. This pipe being three feet under the water, it was needful to heel, or lay the ship a little on one side. To do this, the heavy guns on the larboard side were run out of the port-holes (those window-like openings which you see in the side of the vessel) as far as they would go, and the guns on the starboard side were drawn up and secured in the middle of the deck; this brought the sills of the port-holes on the lowest side nearly even with the water.