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IN THE time before steamships, or then more frequently than now,
a stroller along the docks of any considerable sea-port would
occasionally have his attention arrested by a group of bronzed
mariners, man-of-war’s men or merchant-sailors in holiday attire
ashore on liberty. In certain instances they would flank, or, like a
body-guard quite surround some superior figure of their own
class, moving along with them like Aldebaran among the lesser
lights of his constellation. That signal object was the “Handsome
Sailor” of the less prosaic time alike of the military and merchant
navies. With no perceptible trace of the vainglorious about him,
rather with the off-hand unaffectedness of natural regality, he
seemed to accept the spontaneous homage of his shipmates. A
somewhat remarkable instance recurs to me. In Liverpool, now half
a century ago, I saw under the shadow of the great dingy street-
wall of Prince’s Dock (an obstruction long since removed) a
common sailor, so intensely black that he must needs have been a
native African of the unadulterate blood of Ham. A symmetric
figure much above the average height. The two ends of a gay silk
handkerchief thrown loose about the neck danced upon the
displayed ebony of his chest; in his ears were big hoops of gold,
and a Scotch Highland bonnet with a tartan band set off his
shapely head.

It was a hot noon in July; and his face, lustrous with perspiration,
beamed with barbaric good humor. In jovial sallies right and left,
his white teeth flashing into he rollicked along, the centre of a
company of his shipmates. These were made up of such an
assortment of tribes and complexions as would have well fit-
ted them to be marched up by Anacharsis Cloots before the bar of
the first French Assembly as Representatives of the Human Race.
At each spontaneous tribute rendered by the wayfarers to this
black pagod of a fellow-the tribute of a pause and stare, and less
frequent an exclamation,- the motley retinue showed that they took
that sort of pride in the evoker of it which the Assyrian priests
doubtless showed for their grand sculptured Bull when the faithful
prostrated themselves.

To return.
If in some cases a bit of a nautical Murat in setting forth his person
ashore, the Handsome Sailor of the period in question evinced
nothing of the dandified Billybe-Damn, an amusing character all
but extinct now, but occasionally to be encountered, and in a form
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