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Source global Wall Street Journal     time 2022-12-17 15:00:36
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Fig. 6.

Circumstances, however, occurred which entirely changed my father’s prospects and pursuits. Soon after he had attained his fifteenth year his mother was married to Mr. Thomas Smith—son of a shipowner, and member of the Trinity House of Dundee,—who himself was, my father says, a furnishing iron-merchant, shipowner, and underwriter” in Edinburgh, and who being also a lamp-maker and an ingenious mechanician, appears at a very early date to have directed his attention to the subject of lighthouses, and endeavoured to improve the mode of illumination then in use, by substituting lamps with mirrors, for the open coal-fires which were at that early time the only beacons to guide the mariner.


About eleven o’clock, the writer, with some difficulty, got out of bed, but, in attempting to dress, he was thrown twice upon the floor, at the opposite side of the cabin. In an undressed state he made shift to get about half-way up the companion-stairs, with an intention to observe the state of the sea and of the ship upon deck, but he no sooner looked over the companion than a heavy sea struck the vessel, which fell on the quarter-deck, and rushed down-stairs into the officer’s cabin, in so considerable a quantity that it was found necessary to lift one of the scuttles in the floor to let the water into the limbers of the ship, as it dashed from side to side in such a manner as to run into the lower tier of beds. Having been foiled in this attempt, and being completely wetted, he again got below and went to bed. In this state of the weather the seamen had to move about the necessary or indispensable duties of the ship, with the most cautious use both of hands and feet, while it required all the art of the landsman to keep within the precincts of his bed. The writer even found himself so much tossed about that it became necessary, in some measure, to shut himself in bed, in order to avoid being thrown to the floor. Indeed, such was the motion of the ship, that it seemed wholly impracticable to remain in any other than a lying posture. On deck the most stormy aspect presented itself, while below all was wet and comfortless.

It appears that Mr. Stevenson was much perplexed as to what sort of cranes he should use in building the Bell Rock Lighthouse. His difficulties were twofold:—

These two groups of islands, forming one county, are of late109 years greatly advanced in importance, and possess an aggregate population of 60,000 inhabitants, who are chiefly engaged in maritime affairs and fishing adventures. From their local position also in the North Sea, they lie much in the track of vessels sailing in the higher latitudes, and correspondence with them regarding the destination and insurance of ships is often of the greatest importance to commercial men. It is likewise known to the Right Honourable the Lord Advocate of Scotland, and the Honourable the Sheriff of the county, that the want of a proper communication by post not unfrequently interferes with the regular administration of justice in these islands; and now that Orkney and Shetland jointly send a member to Parliament, the evils resulting from the want of a regular communication press more forcibly, not only on the inhabitants of these islands, but on the public generally.


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