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the story of life, and lessen the effect of absence and separa-
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 30 view, which contained all 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, 35 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 day-dreaming, and fond of losing
16. A lengthening chain. "And drags at each remove a lengthening chain." Goldsmith's Traveller, line 10. This expression is explained in the following passage from Goldsmith's Citizen of the World: "The farther I travel, I feel the pain of separation with stronger force; those ties that bind me to my native country and you, are still unbroken. By every move I only drag a greater length of chain.”
28. Horizon (Gr. öpos, horos, a boundary), the circular line which bounds the view of the sky and earth, or of the sky and water, caused by the apparent meeting of the two.
32. Vicissitudes (Lat. vicis, a turn, a change; vicissitudo, a succeeding in turns), revolutions, mutations.
34. Driven by the uncertain currents. Do currents drive one? Is 'drive' the best word?
on the piles of them so
My ima read of that ro
40. Re regard of
our langu 43. Qu way, and portion
44. M 52. G
ment to radical
a shoal c
53. P grandis
himself in reveries, a sea voyage is full of subjects for medi- 40 tation; 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 the quarter-railing, or climb to the main-top, of a calm day, and muse for hours together on the tranquil bosom of a summer's sea; to gaze upon the 45 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. 55 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 60 · sailors.
40. Reveries. "When ideas float in our minds without any reflection or regard of the understanding, it is that which the French call resverie (rêverie); our language has scarce a name for it." Locke. (Fr. rêver, to dream.)
43. Quarter-railing. The railing reaching from the taffrail to the gangway, and serving as a fence to the quarter-deck (the quarter-deck being that portion of the uppermost deck between the mainmast and mizzenmast, or between the mainmast and the stern).
44. Main-top. The top of the mainmast of a ship.
52. Gambols. "The radical image is that of a sudden and rapid movement to and fro, jumping, springing," for sport. Wedgwood. Shoals. The radical meaning seems to be a clump or mass. Wedgwood. (Dutch school,
a shoal of fishes.)
53. Porpoises (Lat. porcus, hog; piscis, fish), hog-fishes. Grampus (Lat. grandis, large, and piscis, fish; or perhaps, crassus, fat, big, and piscis, fish). The grampus is sometimes 25 feet in length.
56. Conjure (kůn'jur), to summon by enchantment. Conjure' means to swear together, to conspire by oath.
60. Phantasms (Gr. phantasma, appearance), apparitions.
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, 65 which has in a manner triumphed over wind and wave; has brought the ends of the world into communion; 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 life; and 70 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, everything that breaks the monotony of the 75 surrounding expanse attracts attention. It proved to 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 80 which the name of the ship could be ascertained. The wreck had evidently drifted about for many months; clusters of shellfish 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 s 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
74. Descried ("To make an outcry on discovering something for which one is on the watch; then simply to discover." Wedgwood), discerned at a distance. Notice the old spelling of this word and of fancy, in the stanza at the beginning of the sketch.
75. Monotony (Gr. μóvos, single; róvos, note, tone), sameness, want of variety.
76. Expanse (Lat. ex, out; pansum, opened, spread), a surface widely outspread.
79. Spar. In nautical phrase, a long beam, a mast, yard, boom.
83. Flaunted. To flaunt is properly to wave to and fro in the wind, to move about in a showy manner so as to be seen like a banner in the wind.
sighs have been wafted after that ship! what prayers offered up at the deserted fireside of home! How often has the mis- 90 tress, 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 may ever return for love to cherish. All that may ever be known is 5 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 gave indications of one of those sudden 100 storms which 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 stout ship across the banks of Newfoundland, one of those heavy fogs which prevail in those parts rendered it impossible for us to see far ahead even in the daytime; but at night the weather was so thick that we could not distinguish any object at twice the 110 length of the ship. I kept lights at the mast-head, and a constant watch forward to look out for fishing-smacks, which are accustomed to lie at 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 ahead!' — it was scarcely uttered before we were
91. Pored. To pore is to look close and long, to read or examine with steady or continued attention.
107. Banks of Newfoundland. These banks form one of the most extensive submarine elevations on the globe. They are between 600 and 700 miles in length, with a depth of water varying from 10 to 160 fathoms. The famous Grand Bank swarms with cod and almost every other variety of fish.
112. Fishing-smacks, small vessels, usually sloop-rigged, used in the fisheries.
114. Smacking, making a sharp, lively sound.
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 amidships. The force, the size, and weight of our vessel bore her down below 120 the waves; we passed over her and were hurried on our course. 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 swallowed shrieking by the waves. I heard their drowning cry mingling with the 125 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 headway. We returned, as nearly as we could guess, to the place where the smack had anchored. We cruised about 130 for several hours in the dense fog. We fired signal-guns, and listened if we might hear the halloo of any survivors; but all was silent, we never saw or heard anything 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 sea was 135 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, which quivered along the foaming billows, and made the succeeding darkness doubly 140 terrible. The thunders bellowed over the wild waste of waters, and were echoed and prolonged by the mountain waves. 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 148 the water her bow was almost buried beneath the waves. Sometimes an impending surge appeared ready to overwhelm
119. Amidships. (Nautical.) In the middle of a ship; half-way between the stem and the stern.
128. Put the ship about. Change her course by tacking.
147. Impending (from Lat. in, on, upon, over, and pendere, to hang), hanging over, threatening.