The Old Man and the Sea

At first glance, a Victorian sailor might seem an unlikely candidate to make a contribution to the study of the New Testament. And James Smith of Jordanhill was undoubtedly a sailor. Born at Glasgow in 1782 and educated at the University of Glasgow, Smith was one of the earliest members both of the Royal Yacht Club and one of the earliest commodores of the Royal Northern Yacht Club. His first voyage in his own vessel in 1806 was the beginning of a lifelong love affair with the sea. He took his last cruise in 1866, just a year before his death.

But Smith was much more than just a sailor; he was also a keen student of ancient literature, a scholar who could read with facility not only Greek and Latin but also most of the Romance and Teutonic languages, and a collector of rare books, particularly those relating to early voyages and travels. His knowledge both of geology and of archaeology was considerable, and on the subject of ships of the ancients he was a recognized authority.

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