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Mark Twain On Life-rafts

Mark Twain On Life-rafts image
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Mark Twairi writcs the follofcirig to th; editor oí' the New Vork Tribune: When the MEisSissippi was burned at sef. Kúmo timo ago, and nearly all her boats . '".■ - 1 1 ; i s 1 1 ei 1 iu the ert'orts to cast them loóse, or Trefe swamped the i t'stunt tin v BÏruck the water, I wrote you a priletter (which yon publishe-d) suggesting that shijjs be proided with life-rfttts inwtéad ot' these olmost useless boats. I did Htot rxpeot that tho government would jump at the suggestion, and I was not dis'appointed. Tlie government had business on hand at the time which would benefit not önly our nutlon but the whole World - í mean the project of paying Uongressmen over agaiu tor work which tlu v h:id already been paid to do; that is to sftfj the labor of receiving Credit Mobilier donationX and forgettmg the eircuinstance. Büt that stmiiug public benefit being accomplished; why cannot '!h; goTenment listen to me now ? ïhe Atlantic had eight buats( of course -all steamers haté: Not on'ti of the boats saved a human lU'c. Tho grëat cumbërsome thirlgs were shiferfed to atujas Ijy tho seas that swept over tho stranded yessül. And suppffiè tliey had nut in. shivcied, would tlie etí&t) have been botter!' Would ïu.t the frantic peopio have plnnged p;-ll-mell into cadi boat as it waa launchcd and instantly swampcd it 't They olways do. But a hfe-ralt is a different thiilg. All tho peovi" voii can put on it caiinot svvalnp it. iSobody understands davit-falls bift a sailor, and he don't when he is frightened ; but uiy goose can heafe a Jift-raft ovcibuavii; an,l then some wise man can throw hiin after it. The sort of life-raft I havo in my iuind is ati American in ▼ention, consisting of three infláted horizontal rubber tubes, with a. platform lashed on top. Ïhe33 raftí aro of ail sizes, trom a ltttle aft'air the size 6'f youv back tlooir to a raft twenty-two feet lont; and six. or eight féct vide. As you reirHiab'T, no doubt, two men crossed the Atlantic trom New York to London, some vears ago, on one of these rafts of the látter Bize. That raft v"i!ld c .irry une htfridred iin.t twéaty tnel. íviuo suoh rails wmM hare RftTOtl tho Atlnntic's 1,000 souls, and these rafts (fully intídttd imd ready for use) wouid havo occupied 18 mueli ruoin on her dock aa four of her Inbberly boats; bardly moro than the roum of thfoe of her indeed. .Her boata Nveto probtbly thirty feet long, sèvën feet deep, and seven oieight íeut wide at the guiiwiiies. You could iuiTiish a ship with medium and fuÜ-slzed rafts- nu ccinul uumber of each - and pile thum up in t.lie space now occupied by four bonts, and theh you could expect to save all her people, uot bjereív a dozen öï two. They would sail away through ;: stoi-m. litting. high and dry trom two to four reet abuve the tops ot the wuvea. In additiou to tha rafta, the ship could carry a rjoat or two, i'or proruiscuous general service, and for the drowning of old 1'ogius who like old-establishea ways. You oonlá attaCh a raft to a ship with a ten fathom line and heave it o'vorboard on tho leo side in the roughest soa (and it can't ffttl any way butright side up,) and tbere it will lie and ríde the waves Kbe a duele till it receives its freight of t'ood and pasSBeögera - and then you can cut tho line and let her go. But if you lauuch a boat it usually falla vlpside down ; and if it don't, thé people crewd in and swiïinp it. Boat.i have sometimes gone away safely with people and taken them to land, but goch accident s are rare. I am nCt giving yon íí mere lanásman's view apon íhis raft business,' they Hrë the views of several old pea captains and mates wliom I have talked with, and their voice gives them weight and valuo, Our goternment has so fftuny iínpoitdnt things to attond to that we cannot expeet it to bother with life-rafts, ;'id wc Cünot reasonablj" expeet tho Euglish Gaverninent tö bother with them because this admirable contrivatice is i Yankee invent'on, and our mother is not given to adopthig our inveutioTis niitil she has had timo to hunt ptround arflöng her documenta and discovered that the crude idea origiuated with herselí in sodio bygone time - then she adopts it and builda fi monument to tho crude originator. Englfttid bs otfr IH'e-raft on eshibition r r riïrfscum over there (the ruft that made tho wondarful voyapje), and heaps of iieoplo havo gono in every day for several years and paid for the privilege of lookiug at it. I'erhaps many a bereaved poof gol wbose idcls lie gterlt and dead iiniliw fha waves that wash the beaoh of Novia Bootia may wish, as I do, that it had been on exhibition on board the betravod Atlantic.


Old News
Michigan Argus