THE OLD EAST INDIAMAN
An enthusiastic crowd of workmen and seafarers gathered one day long ago at Blackwall to witness the launching of the Lion.
Every man among them felt a personal interest in the majestic fabric that, under the proud labours of those skilful shipwrights, had gradually grown up out of the trim piles of oak, greenheart, and teak, and taken on the splendid shape of an East Indiaman, in the days when those grand vessels were queens of the wide sea. Green’s renowned draughtsmen had lavished all their skill upon her design, every device known to men whose calling was their pride, and to whom the Blackwall Yard was the centre of the shipbuilding world, had been employed to make the Lion the finest of all the great fleet that had been brought into being there. Decked with flags from stem to stern, the sun glinting brightly on the rampant crimson lion that towered proudly on high from her stem, she glided gracefully from the ways amid the thunder of cannon and the deafening shouts of exultant thousands. And when, two months later, she sailed for Madras with eighty prime seamen forrard and a hundred passengers in her spacious cuddy, who so proud as her stately commander? His eye flashed as he watched the nimble evolutions of his bonny bluejackets leaping from spar to spar, and he felt that, given fitting opportunity, he would have no overwhelming task to tackle a French line-of-battle ship, even though he was but a peaceful merchantman.