Celestials as Firemen.
John Chinaman makes a good fireman, says Chambers’s Journal. He performs his duties with machine-like precision, and is obedient to a degree that is servile. It is doubtless quality of abject submission to the commands of his superiors that makes him such a favorite with marine engineers. Though less turbulent, he is less resourceful and plucky than British firemen, and men who know how to rule would rather have English firemen. The Chinese give a minimum of trouble. The head man is first engaged, and he biings along with him his own staff, so that European engineers have that worry taken off their hands. But the Chinaman has practically no individuality.
A British vessel trading for fifteen months in Chinese waters had a full complement of Chinese firemen. At the commencement of the voyage the names w’ere entered on the ship’s books. At the end of the voyage the roll was called and each name was responded to. Yet desertions and changes among the firemen had been frequent during the voyage. The mystery was not explained until it became known that each newcomer gave up his old name and took that of his predecessors among the stokers of the vessel, lie answered at musters to that name, and thus the nominal coherency of the crew was maintained.