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mals degenerated in America, and man among the number. A great man of Europe, thought I, must therefore be as superior to a great man of America, as a peak of the Alps to a highland of the Hudson; and in this idea I was confirmed, by observing the comparative importance and swelling magnitude of many English travellers among us, who, I was assured, were very little people in their own country. I will visit this land of wonders, thought I, and see the gigantic race from which I am degenerated.
It has been either my good or evil lot to have my roving passion gratified. I have wandered through different countries, and witnessed many of the shifting scenes of life. I cannot say that I have studied them with the eye of a philosopher; but rather with the sauntering gaze with which hunble lovers of the picturesque stroll from the window of one print-shop to another; caught, sometimes by the delineations of beauty, sometimes by the distortions of caricature, and sometimes by the loveliness of landscape. As it is the fashion for modern tourists to travel pencil in hand; and bring home their port-folios filled with sketches, I am disposed to get up a few for the entertainment of my friends. When, however, I look over the bints and memorandums I have taken down for the purpose , my heart almost fails me at finding how my idle humour has led me aside from the great objects studied by every regular traveller who would make a book. I fear I shall give equal disappointment with an unlucky landscape painter, who had travelled on the continent, but, following the bent of his vagrant inclination, had sketched in nooks, and corners, and by-places. His sketch-book was accordingly crowded with cottages, aud obscure ruins; but he had neglected to paint St Peter's, or the Coliseum ; the cascade of Terni , or the bay of Naples; and had not a single glacier or volcano in his whole collection.
Ships, ships, I will descrie you
Ainidst the main,
Wbat's your end and aiin.
To an American visiting Europe, the long voyage he has to make is an excellent preparative. The temporary absence of worldly scenes and employments produces a state of mind peculiarly fitted to receive new and vivid impressions. The vast space of waters that separates the hemispheres is like a blank page in existence. There is no gradual transition by which, as in Europe, the features and population of one country blend almost imperceptibly with those of another. From the moment you lose sight of the land you have left, all is vacancy until you step on the opposite shore, and are launched at once into the bustle and novelties of another world.
In travelling by land there is a continuity of scene and a connected succession of persons and incidents, that carry on the story of life, and lessen the effect of absence and separation. We drag, it is true, « a lengthening chain » at each remove of our pilgrimage; but the chain is unbroken ; we can trace it back link by link; and we feel that the last of them still grapples us to home. But a wide sea voyage severs us at once. It makes us conscious of being cast loose from the secure anchorage of settled life, and sent adrift upon a doubtful world. It interposes a gulf, not merely imaginary, but real, between us and our homes—a gulf subject to tempest, and fear, and uncertainty, that makes distance palpable, and return precarious.
Such, at least, was the case with myself. As I saw the last blue line of my native land fade away like a
cloud in the horizon, "it seemed as if I had closed one volume of the world and its concerns, and had time for meditation, before I opened another. That land, too, now vanishing from my view, which contained all that was most dear to me in life ; what vicissitudes might occur in it—what changes might take place in me, before I should visit it again! Who can tell, when he sets forth to wander, whither he may be driven by the uncertain currents of existence; or when he may return; or whether it may ever be his lot to revisit the scenes of his childhood ?
I said that at sea all is vacancy; I should correct the expression. To one given to daydreaming, and fond of losing himself in reveries, a sea voyage is full of subjects for meditation; but then they are the wonders of the deep, and of the air, and rather tend to abstract the mind from worldly themes. I delighted to loll over te quarter-railing, or climb to the maintop; bf a calm day, and muse for hours together on the tranquil bosom of a summer's sea; to gaze upon the piles of golden clouds just peering above the horizon, fancy them some fairy realms, and people them with a creation of my own ;—to watch the gentle undulating billows, rolling their silver volumes, as if to die away on those happy shores.
There was a delicious sensation of mingled security and awe with which I looked down, from my giddy height, on the monsters of the deep at their uncouth gambols. Shoals of porpoises tumbling about the bow of the ship; the grampus slowly heaving his huge form above the surface ; or the ravenous shark, darting, like a spectre, through the blue waters. My imagination would conjure up all that I had heard or read of the watery world beneath me; of the finny herds that roam its fathomless valleys; of the shapeless monsters that lurk among the very foundations of the earth; and of those wild phantasms that swell the tales of fishermen and sailors.
Sometimes a distant sail, gliding along the edge of the ocean, would be another theme of idle speculation. How interesting this fragment of a world, hastening to rejoin the great mass of existence! What a glorious monument of human invention ; that has thus triumphed over wind and wave; has brought the ends of the world into commu. nion; has established an interchange of blessings, pouring into the sterile regions of the north all the luxuries of the south ; has diffused the light of knowledge and the charities of cultivated lise; and has thus bound together those scattered portions of the human race ,
between which nature seemed to have thrown an insurmountable barrier.
We one day descried some shapeless object drifting at a distance.
At sea , every thing that breaks the monotony of the surrounding expanse attracts attention. It proved ta be 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 their 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 many months; clusters of shell-fish had fastened about it, and long sea-weeds flaunted at its sides. But where, thought I, is 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,
66 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 gave indications
of one of those sudden storms that will sometimes break in upon 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. I was particularly struck with a short one related by the captain.
· As I was once sailing,” said he, “in a fine slout ship, across the banks of Newfoundland, one of those heavy fogs that prevail in those parts rendered it impossible for us to see far a-head even in the day-time; but at night the weather was so thick that we could not disting guish any object at twice the length of the ship. I kept lights at the mast head, and a constant watch forward 10 look out for fishing smacks, which are accustomed to lie al anchor on the banks. The wind was blowing a smacking breeze, and we were going at a great rate through the water. Suddenly the watch gave the alarm of a sail a-. head! Tit was scarcely uttered before we were upon her. She was a small schooner, at anchor, with her broadside towards us. The crew were all asleep, and had neglected to hoist a light. We struck her just a-mid-ships. The force, the size, and weight of our vessel bore her down below the waves; we passed over her and were hurried on
As the crashing wreck was sinking beneath us, I had a glimpse of two or three half-naked wretches rushing from her cabin; they just started from their beds to be swalloved shrieking by the waves, I heard their drowning cry mingling with the wind. The blast that bore it to our ears swept us out of all farther hearing. I shall never forget that cry! It was some time before we could put the ship about, she was under such head-way. We returned, as nearly as we could guess, to the place where the smack had anchored. We cruised about for several hours in the dense sog. We fired signal guns , and listened if we might hear the halloo of any survivors : but all was silent--we never saw or heard any thing of them more. »
I confess these stories, for a time, put an end to all my fine fancies. The storm . increased with the night. The