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the mast of a ship that must have been completely wrecked ; for there were the remains of handkerchiefs, by which some of the crew had fastened themselves to this spar to prevent themselves being washed off by the waves. There was no trace by which the name of the ship could be ascertained. The wreck had evidently drifted about for months ; clusters of shell-fish had fastened about it, and long seaweeds flaunted at its sides. But where, thought I, are the crew ? Their struggle has long been over; they have gone down amidst the roar of the tempest ; their bones lie whitening among the caverns of the deep. Silence-oblivion, like the waves, have closed over them, and no one can tell the story of their end. What sighs have been wafted after that ship; what prayers offered up at the deserted fireside of home! How often has the mistress, the wife, the mother, pored over the daily news to catch some casual intelligence of this rover of the deep ! How has expectation darkened into anxiety-anxiety into dread-and dread into despair! Alas! not one memento shall ever return for love to cherish. All that shall ever be known is, that she sailed from her port, and was never heard of more'!
The sight of this wreck, as usual, gave rise to many dismal anecdotes. This was particularly the case in the evening, when the weather, which had hitherto been fair, began to look wild and threatening, and gav indications of one of those sudden storms that will sometimes break in
the serenity of a summer voyage. As we sat round the dull light of a lamp in the cabin, that made the gloom more ghastly, every one had his tale of shipwreck and disaster.
These stories for a time put an end to all my fine fancies. The storm increased with the night. The sea was lashed into tremendous confusion. There was a fearful, sullen sound of rushing waves and broken surges. Deep called unto deep. At times the black volume of clouds overhead seemed rent asunder by flashes of lightning that quivered along the foaming billows, and made the succeeding darkness doubly
terrible. The thunders bellowed over the wild waste of waters, and were echoed and prolonged by the mountain
As I saw the ship staggering and plunging among these roaring caverns, it seemed miraculous that she regained her balance, or preserved her buoyancy. Her yards would dip into the water; her bow was almost buried beneath the
Sometimes an impending surge appeared ready to overwhelm her, and nothing but a dexterous movement of the helm preserved her from the shock. When I retired to my cabin the awful scene still followed
The whistling of the wind through the rigging sounded like funereal wailings. The creaking of the masts, the straining and groaning of bulkheads, as the ship laboured in the weltering sea, were frightful. As I heard the waves rushing along the side of the ship, and roaring in my very ear,
it seemed as if death were raging round this floating prison seeking for his prey : the mere starting of a nail, the yawning of a seam, might give him entrance.
A fine day, however, with a tranquil sea and favouring breeze, soon put all these dismal reflections to flight. It is impossible to resist the gladdening influence of fine weather and fair wind at sea. When the ship is decked out in all her canvas, every sail swelled, and careering gaily over the curling waves, how lofty, how gallant, she appears ! how she seems to lord it over the deep! I might fill a volume with the reveries of a sea voyage, for with me it is almost a continual reverie ; but it is time to get to shore.
It was a fine sunny morning when the thrilling cry of 'Land !' was given from the mast-head. None but those who have experienced it can form an idea of the delicious throng of sensations which rush into an American's bosom when he first comes in sight of Europe. There is a volume of associations with the very name. It is the land of promise, teaming with everything of which his childhood has heard, or on which his studious years have pondered.
From that time until the moment of arrival, it was all
feverish excitement. The ships-of-war, that prowled like guardian giants along the coasts ; the headlands of Ireland, stretching out into the Channel ; the Welsh mountains, towering into the clouds—all were objects of intense interest. As we sailed up the Mersey, I reconnoitred the shores with a telescope. My eye dwelt with delight on neat cottages, with their trim shrubberies and green grass plots. I saw the mouldering ruin of an abbey overrun with ivy, and the taper spire of a village church rising from the brow of a neighbouring hill—all were characteristic of England.
The tide and wind were so favourable that the ship was enabled to come at once to the pier. It was thronged with people some idle lookers-on, others eager expectants of friends or relatives. I could distinguish the merchant to whom the ship was consigned. I knew him by his calculating brow and restless air. His hands were thrust into his pockets ; he was whistling thoughtfully, and walking to and fro, a small space having been accorded him by the crowd, in deference to his temporary importance. There were repeated cheerings and salutations interchanged between the shore and the ship, as friends happened to recognise each other. All now was hurry and bustle. The meetings of acquaintances -the greetings of friends—the consultations of men of business. I alone was solitary and idle. I had no friend to meet, no cheering to receive. I stepped upon the land of my forefathers, but felt that I was a stranger in the land.
The rocky ledge runs far into the sea,
And on its outer point, some miles away,
A pillar of fire by night, of cloud by day.
Even at this distance I can see the tides,
Upheaving, break unheard along its base, A speechless wrath, that rises and subsides
In the white lip and tremor of the face.
And as the evening darkens, lo ! how bright,
Through the deep purple of the twilight air, Beams forth the sudden radiance of its light,
With strange, unearthly splendour in its glare ! Starts into life a dim, gigantic shape,
Holding its lantern o'er the restless surge.
Like the great giant Christopher, it stands
Upon the brink of the tempestuous wave, Wading far out among the rocks and sands,
The night-o'ertaken mariner to save.
And the great ships sail outward and return,
Bending and bowing o'er the billowy swells, And ever joyful, as they see it burn,
They wave their silent welcomes and farewells.
They come forth from the darkness, and their sails
Gleam for a moment only in the blaze, And eager faces, as the light unveils,
Gaze at the tower and vanish while they gaze.
The mariner remembers, when a child
On his first voyage, he saw it fade and sink ; And, when returning from adventures wild,
He saw it rise again o'er ocean's brink.
Steadfast, serene, immovable, the same
Year after year, through all the silent night, Burns on for evermore that quenchless flame,
Shines on that inextinguishable light!
It sees the ocean to its bosom clasp
peace ; It sees the wild winds lift it in their grasp,
And hold it up and shake it like a fleece.
The startled waves leap over it; the storm
Smites it with all the scourges of the rain, And steadily against its solid form
Press the great shoulders of the hurricane.