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When to the silence and loneliness of ocean or river depths are added the blackness of darkness and the dread presence of death, the diver must needs have courage who boldly descends. In the operations not yet concluded at the Tay Bridge, the experienced divers were by some suspected of succumbing to the terrors of the situation. If there wore any human bodies there they were imprisoned in a double prison of carriages and cage-like girders. It was impossible for any diver to quickly clutch at the body, and ere he had time to think of his ghastly work, to procure by signal the instant withdrawal of himself and solemn burden to the surface. The work involved patient and deliberate handling of the dead in the dark and silent deep, and few who suspected the diver from shrinking from this task felt brave enough themselves to blame them seriously for it. The suspicion after all had probably but small foundation ; at least two of the divers strongly declared that no “eerie feeling” would prevent them from doing their duty, and said that if necessary they would be glad to bring up the dead even in theii arms. Still, the way in which these men talk of this subject seems to show that below water they cannot face the dead with the callousness of men who are brought into contact with bodies on shore ; tha:, in fact, they have to reason with themselves against a natural timidity. “My duty,” said one diver at the Tay, “is to the living. When I am going down to find the dead, I feel that I am going down to do what I can for the people they belong to, and that it is not the dead that I have to be frightened of. I think of the friends to whom the bodies are to be restored, and nothing would give me greater pleasure than to give them their only satisfaction.” If death and darkness do inspire timidity even in these hardy men, it is sometimes more difficult for the diver to go among the dead in the light of day. ‘‘l he horrible conceit of death and night ” is matched by the reality, as seen, for example, by the divers of the Princess Alice, when they met the cold stare of the group of cabin passengers who clung together in agony as the ship went down, or as experienced by certain divers who refused to recover wrecked treasure at the Faroe Islands, because they saw dead sailors in the rigging, and could not bear the sight. London Neves.

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Bibliographic details

Ashburton Guardian, Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 101, 18 May 1880

Word Count

DOWN AMONG THE DEAD. Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 101, 18 May 1880