Like a Cat in a China Pantry

Had I not been a thorough lubber, I should have remembered half a hundred things worthy of remembrance, which have all been lost, because, though I do indeed know the binnacle from the mainmast, I know little more: tackle and sheets, and tally and belay, are alike to me; and if you ask me about the lee-clue garnets, I can only tell that they are not the same kind of garnets as are worn in necklaces and bracelets; and so fine facts have been lost, because I did not know where to store them in the ship, or in my recollection-closet up-stairs. There is something ridiculous, and something like quackery in writing thus about what I so little understand. I walk among sea terms as a cat does in a china pantry, in bodily fear of doing mischief, and betraying myself; and yet there will come a good book of it, I verily believe.

Robert Southey, letter to Captain Southey, 1812

Photo: ACF