“Steamboats are killing it,” or whatever

That’s how a friend misremembered the name of my blog last week, while taunting me during soccer. (“Why don’t you just write about it for n+1?” I had previously taunted him, when he had complained of an alleged foul.)

And on that slender pretext, here’s a quote about steamboats from A High Wind in Jamaica, Richard Hughes’s perverse, dark novel about children abducted by pirates:

“Look! There’s a steamship!” exclaimed Margaret, with much too bright a brightness.

The mate glowered at it.

“Aye, they’ll be the death of us, those steamers,” he said. “Every year there’s more of them. They’ll be using them for men-on-war next, and then where’ll we be? Times are bad enough without steamers.”

But while he spoke he wore a preoccupied expression, as if he were more concerned with what was going on at the back of his mind than with what went on in the front.

For the record, the title of my blog actually comes from the muttered aside of a disreputable, nostalgic sailor in a different novel. (FYI, the Google Books scan that this links to is of Columbia’s printout of the NYPL’s microfilm of volume 1 of Charles Frederick Briggs’s Trippings of Tom Pepper. I’ve never been able to lay my hands on volume 2, though you could probably piece it together from back issues of the newspaper that serialized it, which I believe the New-York Historical Society still owns.)

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