This was the first mention which Mr. Lowington made of his plan, though he had been considering it for several weeks. Mr. Shuffles hoped that this idea of a nautical academy would be reduced to practice; for he now felt that it was just what his son needed. The project was discussed during the rest of the trip.
The history of the scheme, from its inception, need not be followed in detail. Many persons were consulted in regard to it; there were plenty to approve, and plenty to disapprove; but in October the keel of a four hundred ton ship was laid down. The object of this marine institution was thoroughly explained, and before the ship was ready for launching there were applications for every berth on board of her.
The idea was exceedingly popular among the boys, all of whom were anxious to be students on board, especially as it was already hinted that the ship would visit Europe. To parents it held out for their sons all the benefits of a sea voyage, with few of its disadvantages. It would furnish healthy exercise and a vigorous constitution to its pupils.
In March of the following year the ship was at anchor in Brockway harbor, ready to receive her juvenile crew.
THE YOUNG AMERICA.
With Mr. Lowington, the Academy Ship, which was the name he usually applied to the idea he had matured, and thus far carried into effect, was not a speculation; he did not intend to see how much money could be made by the scheme. It was an experiment in the education of rich men’s sons, for only rich men could pay for scholarships in such an expensive institution.
The Brockway Academy was to be continued, under the management of a board of trustees. An accomplished teacher had been selected by Mr. Lowington, and the school, under its present administration, was in a highly prosperous condition. Only ten of its pupils had been transferred to the Academy Ship, for it required no little nerve on the part of parents to send their sons to school on the broad ocean, to battle with the elements, to endure the storms of the Atlantic, and to undergo the hardships which tender mothers supposed to be inseparably connected with a life on shipboard.
For six months Mr. Lowington had studied upon his plan, and it was hardly matured when the new ship came to anchor in Brockway harbor. During this period he had visited the principal cities of the Northern States, those of the southern section being closed against his operations by the war of the rebellion then raging at the height of its fury. He had interested his friends in his bold enterprise, and boys with, whom the experiment was to be inaugurated were gathered from all parts of the country.
The securing of the requisite number of pupils was the first success, and what he had regarded as the most difficult part of the enterprise. More than half of them had been obtained before it was deemed prudent to lay the keel of the ship. The details of the plan had been carefully considered during the winter, and when the ship was moored at Brockway, the organization of the school, its rules and regulations had all been written out. The boys began to arrive about the first of March, and by the first of April all of them, eighty-seven in number, were on board.