The company assembled in the music-room after a walk on deck, and the captain, with the three notable guests, joined them after they had finished their cigars; for all of them smoked. The “Gospel Hymns” and other hymn and tune books were distributed. It was the usual time for singing, and the trio from the Travancore contributed largely to the volume of tone on the occasion. The new third officer had been stationed in the watch with Mr. Boulong, and Scott had the first part of the afternoon watch. The officers and engineers not on duty, as well as the members of the party from the wreck, gathered at the windows of the music-room, and the commander invited them to take seats in the apartment, thus adding still more to the volume of the harmony. The music was all sacred, and nothing purely secular was permitted by the captain.
Dr. Ferrolan, who had a fine bass voice, was invited to sing “Rocked in the Cradle of the Deep,” at the suggestion of Lord Tremlyn. His lordship sang “Oh that I had Wings!” and Mrs. Belgrave, who was the pianist of the occasion, gave a solo, while Sir Modava sang the “Missionary Hymn,” which is still a favorite in England and America, translated into the Hindu language. The party who could not understand him followed in the hymn-books.
“I wonder who wrote that beautiful hymn,” said Mrs. Blossom, when there was a pause as the singer finished. “It says Heber in my book, but I don’t know who he was.”
“Reginald Heber was an English clergyman and poet, born in 1783. He was a student in an Oxford college; I forget which,” replied Sir Modava.
“Brasenose,” prompted the viscount.
“As a student in this college he wrote ‘Palestine,’ for which he obtained the prize; and it still holds a place in the literature of England. He soon obtained a living, and occupied a prominent position among the clergy of his native island. In 1823 he was made Bishop of Calcutta.
“Three years later, in the midst of his zealous labors in the service of his Master, he died at Trichinopoly of apoplexy, greatly lamented. Perhaps
From India’s coral strand,’
which you have sung this afternoon, is the widest-known of Bishop Heber’s hymns; but will you indulge me if I ask you to sing another of them, which I find in the book I hold in my hand?—
’Brightest and best
of the sons of the morning,
Dawn on our darkness, and lend us thine aid.’”
The hymn was sung to Mozart’s music by about twenty voices, and the effect was exceedingly agreeable. Sir Modava seemed to be in a rapture, as the piece was his favorite, and came from one who was connected with his native land.
He was a rather tall and slender man, and all the ladies declared that he was very handsome; and his slightly dusky hue added to, rather than took from, the beauty of his countenance. He wore a small mustache, but no other beard. He was a nervous and highly sensitive person, and there was always a smile on his face. He had already become a favorite among the gentlemen as well as the ladies.