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Ben Hadden; or, Do Right Whatever Comes Of It

William Henry Giles Kingston

  Produced by Nick Hodson of London, England

  Ben Hadden; or, Do Right, Whatever Comes Of It, by W.H.G. Kingston.


  This small book, starts Ben off as the son of a fisherman on the eastcoast of England. The father is a pious Christian, and brings Ben up tobe one too. Unfortunately various accidents befall the family, and theyfall on hard times. Ben, in rescuing some children from a runawayhorse, is injured, but is befriended by Lieutenant Charlton, who is ableto arrange so that things go better for Ben's mother.

  Ben and Charlton go to sea, where Ben has it in mind to find hislong-lost brother Ned.

  Many accidents befall Ned, culminating in a shipwreck in the Pacific.Eventually he is rescued, and, not long after, finds his brother Ned.They come home together, and set up a new life in support of theirmother.

  Throughout, Ben's morale is upheld by his Christian belief. We are tolda great deal about the progress of missionaries among the PacificIslands. Rather definitely a Victorian book, but a good read.





  On the east coast of England, there is a small hamlet surrounded by highsand-hills, with scarcely a blade of grass or even a low shrub to beseen in its neighbourhood. The only vegetable productions, indeed,which can flourish in that light soil, are the pale green rushes, whoseroots serve to bind the sand together, and to prevent the high easterlywinds, so constantly blowing on that coast, affecting it as much as theywould otherwise do. Even in spite of the opposition of the rushes,several deserted huts have been almost entirely covered up by thedrifting sand. See Note 1.

  The population of the village consists of seafaring people and theirfamilies. The men form the crews of the numerous vessels employed inthe herring fisheries which belong to the various fishing-places on thecoast. Nowhere along the shores of England are finer sea-boats or morehardy crews to be found.

  Most of the herring vessels are luggers, from thirty to forty tonsburden, and entirely decked over. Each carries from eight to ten men.They are divided below into compartments, or tanks: in one compartment,salt is stowed; into another, the herrings, as soon as caught, arethrown; in a third they are salted, and are then packed away in lockers,on either side of the vessel, till she is full. She is then steered forthe shore to the point nearest to a railway, or where there is a market.Each vessel has several long nets: the upper part of the net floatsclose to the surface of the water, buoyed up by bladders; the lower partis kept down by small bits of lead, and one end is moored to the bottomby a heavy weight. The fish, as they swim in large shoals, strikeagainst the net as against a wall, and are caught in the meshes.Herring fishing is carried on at night, when the fish cannot see thenets. When a vessel or boat has cast out her nets, she hangs on to thelee [See note 2] end of them till the morning.

  Besides these large herring luggers, many open boats are used; and greatnumbers of other boats from the coasts of Scotland and the North ofEngland resort to these seas in the herring season. There is yetanother class of vessels which frequent this coast. They are thedeep-sea fishing smacks--cutters measuring from thirty to fifty tons,each carrying about ten men. Their nets differ much from those used bythe luggers and boats. They fish with trawls, and so are called_trawlers_. A trawl is a net with a deep bag fastened to a long beam,which long beam has a three-cornered iron at each end. This beam isdragged along at the bottom of the sea, and stirs up the turbot, bream,plaice, soles, and other flat-fish which lie there; when they swim intothe bag and are caught. These trawlers fish in the North Sea, sometimesa hundred and a hundred and fifty miles away from England, off theTexel. Other fishing grounds are from twelve to twenty miles off theBritish coast. At times, more than a hundred vessels are together,forming a large fleet. One of the oldest and wisest of the captains ischosen as their head man, and is called the admiral of the fleet.

  They have, of course, many rules and laws to govern them. When theyfish far from the land, they remain out six weeks, or more; and do notonce, all that time, go into port. There are, however, steamersemployed, which run to and fro to carry them food and fresh-water, alsoto take ice to them. With this ice the fish are packed, as soon ascaught, in large baskets. The steamers then collect the fish from thedifferent fishing-vessels, and carry it to London, or to the nearestport where there is a railway station. This account will give an ideaof the many thousand people employed as fishermen on the eastern coastsof our country. In summer, while the weather is fine, their calling ispleasant and healthy; but when storms arise the hardships and perils arevery great, and many of the men every year lose their lives, leavingwidows and orphans behind them.

  There was belonging to Sandhills, the little hamlet about which I havespoken, as fine and bold a set of fishermen as any to be found on theBritish coast. There were from fifteen to twenty families. The largestfamily was that of old John Hadden. He had eight sons and severaldaughters: three of his sons were away at sea--two of these were onboard men-of-war, and the third was on board a trading-vessel; fourfollowed his calling as fishermen, and formed part of the crew of thelugger of which he was master; the youngest, the eighth--Little Ben ashe was always called, the son of his old age--was as yet too young to goregularly to sea. He, however, went with his father and brothers in thesummer season, when fine weather was looked for, and he would notprobably be exposed to hardships too severe for his tender years.

  The fishermen of that coast were long known as rough and careless men,thinking nothing of religion, and utterly ignorant of religious truth.It used to be said of them, that as a rule they lived hard and diedhard, caring for nobody, and nobody caring for them. This was too trueof many, but not of all. It was not true of John Hadden. His outsidewas rough enough, and very much so in winter, when he had on his highfishing-boots, broad-flapped sou'-wester, thick woollen comforter,Guernsey frock, with a red flannel shirt above it, and a pea-coat overall. But he had an honest, tender, true, God-loving, and God-fearingheart. As he had been brought up, so he brought up his children in "theway they should go," trusting "that when they were old they would notdepart from it."

  John Hadden was able to do what many of his friends could not; he couldread, having learned early in life. Not that he read very well, butwell enough to study the Book of books so as to understand what itteaches. There are many, alas! who _can_ read it far more easily thancould John Hadden, but do _not_. How many have the Bible, but do noteven look into it, treating it as though it were of less value than anycommon book! How many would rather read light foolish books than the"Holy Scriptures," though they "are able to make us wise unto salvation,through faith which is in Christ Jesus!"

  What does that verse mean? That if we read and study the Scriptures,with faith in Christ Jesus, they will show us how we may, without fail,gain more joy, happiness, wealth, and glory than words can tell; notsuch as will pass away in a few short years, but such as will last forever and ever.

  John Hadden prized the Bible as the only light which could point out tohim the way of eternal life. He read and read, and, more than all, heprayed as he read, till he understood the Bible well, and was able toshape his own course by it, and to point out to his sons how they mightshape theirs. When he took up the Bible he humbly prayed, "Lord, teachme that I may read and understand Thy holy Word aright." These words,and the spirit of these words, he taught his children.

  John Hadden and his family neglected no means or opportunities ofknowing more about t
he Bible, or of obtaining instruction. He did notsay, as some do, "I can read, and I can pray; and so why should I goaway from my own home and own fireside to listen to another man?" JohnHadden was a real Christian, and therefore he was a humble Christian.The place of public worship was far off, and the road was rough; butJohn, with his wife and children, never failed when he was on shore,unless hindered by sickness, to go there on the Sunday to hear the Wordof God read and explained, and to pray with other Christian people.When John and the boys were at sea, Mrs Hadden and the other childrenwent, and she used to say she dearly loved to do so, because then shecould pray with others to the good Lord, and say, "That it may pleaseThee to preserve all that travel by land or by water." John often alsosaid that when he was away on the ocean, he always felt happy as thehour of public service came round, because he knew that his wife andchildren, and other Christian friends, would be praying for him and hiscompanions at sea.

  Among the precepts which John Hadden found in his Bible was this:"Remember that thou keep holy the Sabbath-day. Six days shalt thoulabour, and do all that thou hast to do; but the seventh day is theSabbath of the Lord thy God. In it thou shalt do no manner of work."Now John Hadden was a plain man, and he understood things plainly.When, early in life, he first understood this commandment, he determinedthat he would keep it; and so, while others cast out their nets onSaturday night, as usual, John always kept his in. If he could, he raninto harbour, and worshipped God with his fellow-men on shore; if not,he and his sons and the rest of his crew united in prayer: he also readto them from the Holy Scriptures, and often besides from some religiousbook likely to feed their souls with spiritual food. John Hadden hadacted in this way for years. The masters of other boats had tried invain to make him give up this practice. They told him he would beruined; that he had a large family to bring up; that it was foolish, andnot required; that such commandments wore for shore-going people, andnot for poor fishermen. But John's answer was always the same: "I'lltell you what, mates: God says, `Do no work on the Sabbath'--don't fish,that means; and I'm very certain that what He says is right. So it isnot right to fish more than six days in the week. What I tell you,mates, and what I tell my boys, is this: `_Do right whatever comes ofit_.'"


  Note 1. This plant is the round-headed rush, or _Juncus conglomeratus_of naturalists, and is cultivated with great care, especially on thebanks of the sea, in Holland, to prevent the water from washing away theearth; for the roots of these rushes strike very deep in the ground, andmat together near the surface so as to form a hold on the loose soil.These rushes do not grow so strong in England as in the richer soil ofHolland.

  Note 2. Sailors call the side on which the wind strikes, the weather orwindward side, and the opposite to it the lee side. A net is cast outto windward, and the vessel drops slowly down from it till it is allout, when she remains at the lee end. Sometimes the nets are left withonly a buoy to mark their position, and the vessel goes to a distance tocast out others.