Comic Annual,  5 (1834), 98–104.

The Steam Service

[Thomas Hood]


Introduction, Drollery; Ballad, Drollery

Relevant illustrations:

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T Hood


Steamships, Pollution, Race, Education

    The introduction looks forward to the time when the Royal Navy will rely on steam rather than wind-power. The illustration captioned 'Lawk! How the Blacks are Falling' (facing 98) depicts a woman standing in front of a full washing line gazing at black people falling from the sky. Hood suggests some changes in naval terminology and practices that will follow from the introduction of steam-power. First lieutenants will have to 'attend lectures on the steam-engine'; midshipmen will need lessons 'as climbing boys in the art of sweeping flues' (99). The illustration captioned 'All Up!' (facing 99) depicts a chimney sweep appearing with brushes out of the top of a funnel, the ship being obscured by mighty waves. 'Some sea Gurney may get a seat at the Admiralty Board, and then farewell, a long farewell, to the old ocean imagery; marine metaphor will require a new figure-head' (99). Suggests that Charles Dibdin's 'Sea Songs' will require revision for future editions, and provides some examples. One verse reads: 'Go patter to lubbers and swabs do you see, / 'Bout danger, and fear, and the like; / But a Boulton and Watt and good Wall's-end give me; / And it an't to a little I'll strike.' Hood hopes that 'the kettle, though a great vocalist, will never thus appropriate the old Sea Songs of England' (101). Suggests, in the words of an old Greenwhich pensioner, that '"Steaming and biling does very well for Urn Bay, and the likes;" but the craft does not look regular and shipshape to the eye of a tar who has sailed with Duncan, Howe, and Jarvis' (104). The illustration 'For Cork' (104) depicts a steam-ship whose smoking funnel is in the shape of a bottle.

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