The details of the shipwreck of the William and Mary are of such a
nature as to require special remark. We hear some two hundred people
who went down with her, but that the captain and crew escaped in
a boat. We do not wish to condemn the Captain. To arrive at the command
of a ship requires tedious years of toil, exposure and danger, and the
place gained is full of technical responsibilities and anxieties.
But any one who has made a voyage must have observed the spontaneous regard
and respect which are paid by the passengers to the commander, especially
on the part of the feminine portion of the company. A lady favors
especially her clergyman, her physician, and her sea-captain.
And we are not quite sure that the seacaptain is not the greatest pet of
the three. The knowledge that a few planks separate the tidiest state-room,
cabin, from fathomless waters, that the lives of all present depend on the
skill of the presiding officer, creates a sense of dependence that with the sex works wonders
in his favor. So when the vessel is on the last day of its trip, the
passengers, one and all, insist on a little ovation to the captain.
They know it is an old story, and done on every voyage, but what matters?
The enthusiasm is there, and must find vent. So the fluent man of
the party, on behalf of all, rises, at the ultimate dinner, and makes a
speech. He portrays the beauty of the vessel, the excellence
of the crew. the liberality of the table, and, above all, the merits of
the captain ; and the company spring to their feet, and, with three times three,
toast the officer. Now, all this is very pleasant. It cheers the monotony of ship-life.
It shows that the dominant service is not forgotten. Besides this, presentations of silver
speaking-trumpets, of plate, &c., to sea captains are not uncommon. Then, on the other
hand, it is expected that the Captain's devotion and heroism are equal to
every emergency. Each person believes, that in the case of wreck, the Captain will be the last
to leave his vessel. That he at least will die with or even without his old guard at his Waterloo.
Thus is he the type of courage, of that quality which is most admired. We were surprised, therefore,
to learn that Capt. Stinson and his crew had escaped, while some two hundred persons, entrusted to his
care, were lost. The account runs thus:
'At midnight, found four feet of water in the hold. 4 A.M., weather black and squally, with a heavy sea. Eight feet water in the hold, both pumps going. 7 A.M., ten feet water and the ship going down. Mates and crew in the boats, together with as many passengers as could be stowed in the long boat and life boat - the other two boats having been stove after launching. At 8 A.M. left her, and in a few minutes she went down, the Great Issacs bearing E.S.E seven miles distant. After leaving the ship some hours, saw a bark, apparently bound for Europe, hove to in the same direction of the long boat and life boat. I supposed she was engaged in picking them up. The William and Mary left Liverpool with 208 passengers, including their cook and steward, and nearly all went down in the vessel, together with two of the seamen, and the ship's steward - names unknown.'
Now this is the official account, and we should like, in deference to the public, to have a little light on the subject; of how it was that the captain, officers, and crew, could be saved, but so few of the passengers? We simply ask for information, for our idea of a captain's duty has been, that he should think most of his passengers and least of himself. Was this the case in question?