Captain Henry Whalley 65
His fame remained writ, not very large but plain enough, on the Admiralty charts. Was there not somewhere between Australia and China a Whalley Island and a Condor Reef? On that dangerous coral formation the celebrated clipper had hung stranded for three days, her captain and crew throwing her cargo overboard with one hand and with the other, as it were, keeping off her a flotilla of savage war-canoes. At that time neither the island nor the reef had any official existence. Later the officers of her Majesty’s steam-vessel Fusilier, despatched to make a survey of the route, recognised in the adoption of these two names the enterprise of the man and the solidity of the ship. Besides, as any one who cares may see, the ‘General Directory,’ vol. ii. p. 410 begins the description of the ‘Malotu or Whalley Passage’ with the words: ‘This advantageous route, first discovered in 1850 by Captain Whalley in the ship Condor,’ &c., and ends by recommending it warmly to sailing vessels leaving the china ports for the south in the months from December to April inclusive.
This was the clearest gain he had out of life. Nothing could rob him of this kind of fame. The piercing of the Isthmus of Suez, like the breaking of a dam, had let in upon the East a flood of new ships, new men, new methods of trade. It had changed the face of the Eastern seas and the very spirit of their life; so that his early experiences meant nothing whatsoever to the new generation of seamen.
In those bygone days he had handled many thousands of pounds of his employers’ money and of his own; he had attended faithfully, as by law a shipmaster is expected to do, to the conflicting interests of owners, charterers, and underwriters. He had never lost a ship or consented to a shady transaction; and he had lasted well, outlasting in the end the conditions that had gone to the making of his name. He had buried his wife (in the Gulf of Petchili), had married off his daughter to the man of her unlucky choice, and had lost more than an ample competence in the crash of the notorious Travancore and Deccan Banking Corporation, whose downfall had shaken the East like an earthquake. And he was sixty-five years old.