« ZurückWeiter »
While the affrighted hills did quake and cower,
As tho' upon the tempest's voice was poured, In the dread thunder of his angry hour,
The awful accents of the tempest's Lord,
And I have felt the joy such scenes alone afford ! I've wandered in the silent hours of night
Along the margin of broad Hudson's wave, And fancied that the moon-beams soft and bright
Were Dian and her nymphs who there did lave In the clear waters, which to heaven gave
Their mirrored beauties back; while murm'ring trees, Beneath the banks that rose in shadows grave,
Bent o'er its bosom to the passing breeze,
As from their wat'ry counterfeits a kiss to seize. And of the brimming cup, that nature fills
With the ennobling essence which each part Of her most glorious workmanship distills,
I've deeply drank, till I forgot the smart Of a proud spirit and a restless heart,
In sweet oblivion of the troubled past; And like the mariner, when human art
Yields to the calm that binds his vessel fast,
In quiet dreams the anchor of my soul have cast. Ah, he who hopes to find in woman's love
That happiness for which the heart doth yearn, Is like the star-watcher who looks above,
Where palely with an unknown light they burn, And as from star to star his eye doth turn,
Fancies them peopled all with beings bright!
He can but see the outward form and light,
Where shall I turn-to friendship? I'm alone,
Companions have I few-and of that few, Beats not for me e'en in the breast of one
A throb of friendship pure, or feeling true, And were I to pour out, as here I do,
To them, the thoughts fruri truth and feeling born,
The fruitless wishes over which I mourn,
Or if imagination soars aloft,
And half forgets the world in fancies high, Just as it breathes an inspiration soft,
And mid the clouds that on a sunset sky Flash back, as from earth's brightest jewelry,
The thousand glories by the day-god given,
To the declining majesty of Heaven,
And while each faculty is strained to hear,
Expecting in high rapture that some sound, With deepest mysteries fraught, upon the ear
Will thrilling burst thro' the thick silence 'round, Then from foul fen and bog of earthly ground
Roll up the world's impurities—and all Wherein the soul had full expansion found,
Is hidden by the darkly shadowing pall
Wrought o'er our mental sight by our first father's fall! But even when thus backward forced, and taught
The limits beyond which we may not go,
Glorious and spirit-like, but dim-as though
Its form and fashion into certainty-
Its passage, while the frame thrills, and the eye
And thus we are the fools of time,”—whatever
We seek to greatly know, or strive to win, Fades quick away, ere we can say
“ tis here !" Such are we now-nor hath time ever been, Since first our god-like nature, fouled by sin,
Rushed on its downward course with loosened rein,
And soar away from lowly perch and chain,
S. W. C
OLD IRONSIDES ON A LEE SHORE.
BY AN EYE WITNESS.
It was at the close of a stormy day in the year 1835, when the gallant frigate Constitution, under the command of Captain Elliotthaving on board the late Edward Livingston, late Minister at the Court of France, and his family, and manned by nearly five hun. dred souls-drew near to "the chops” of the English Channel. For four days she had been beating down from Plymouth, and on the fifth, at evening, she made her last tack from the French coast.
The watch was set at eight P. M.— The Captain came on deck soon after, and having ascertained the bearing of Scilly, gave orders to keep the ship ‘full and bye,' remarking at the same time to the officer of the deck, that he might make the light on the lee beam, but, he stated, he thought it more than probable that he would pass it without seeing it. He then turned in,' as did most of the idlers, and the starboard watch.
At a quarter past nine, P. M., the ship headed west by compass, when the call of “Light O!" was heard from the fore-topsailyard.
“Where away?" asked the officer of the deck
“Three points on the lee bow," replied the look-out-man; which the unprofessional reader will readily understand to mean very nearly straight ahead. At this moment, the Captain appeared and took the trumpet.
“Call all hands," was his immediate order.
“All hands!” whistled the boatswain, with the long shrill summons familiar to the ears of all who have ever been on board of a man-ofwar.
“ All hands," screamed the boatswain's mates; and ere the last echo died away all but the sick were upon deck.
The ship was staggering through a heavy swell from the Bay of Biscay; the gale, which had been blowing several days, had increased to a severity that was not to be made light of. The breakers, where Sir Cloudesley Shovel and his fleet were des. troyed, in the days of Queen Anne, sang their song of death be fore, and the Dead-Man's Ledge replied in hoarser notes behind To go
ahead seemed to be death, and to attempt to go about was sure destruction.
The first thing that caught the eye of the Captain was the furled mainsail, which he hail ordered to be carried throughout the even
ing—the hauling up of which, contrary to the last order that he had given on leaving the deck, had caused the ship to fall off to leeward two points, and had thus led her into a position on “a lee shore," upon which a strong gale was blowing her, in which the chance of safety appeared to the stoutest nerves almost hopeless. That sole chance consisted in standing on, to carry us through the breakers of Scilly, or by a close graze along their outer ledge. Was this destined to be the end of the gallant old ship, consecrated by so many a prayer and blessing from the heart of a nation !
• Why is the mainsail up, when I ordered it set?” cried the Captain in a tremendous voice.
“Finding that she pitched her bows under, I took it in, under your general order, sir, that the officer of the deck should carry sail according to his discretion,” replied the Lieutenant in command.
“Heave the log," was the prompt command, to the master's mate. The log was thrown.
“How fast does she go?"
“Board the main tack,” thundered the Captain. “Keep her full and bye, Quartermaster."
“Aye! aye, sir!” The tack was boarded.
“Haul aft the main sheet," shouted the Captain, and aft it went like the spreading of a sea bird's wing, giving the huge sail to
“Give her the lee helm when she goes into the sea," cried the Captain.
“ Aye! aye! sir! she has it," growled out the old sea-dog at the binnacle.
“Right your helm, keep her full and bye."
“Aye! aye! sir ! full and bye she is," was the prompt answer from the helm.
“How fast does she go?"
“Steady," answered the helmsman, and all was the silence of the grave upon that crowded deck-except the howling of the stormfor a space of time that seemed to my imagination almost an age.
It was a trying hour with us—unless we could carry sail so as to go at the rate of nine knots an hour, we must of necessity dash upon Scilly, and who ever touched those rocks and lived during a storm? The sea ran very high, the rain fell in sheets, the sky was one black curtain, illumined only by the faint light which was to mark our deliverance, or stand a monument of our destruction. The wind had got above whistling, it came in puffs, that flattened the waves, and made our old frigate settle to her bearings, while every thing on board seemed cracking into pieces. At this moment the carpenter reported that the left bolt of the weather fore-shroud had drawn.
“Get on the luffs, and set them on all the weather shrouds. Keep her at small helm, quartermaster, and ease her in the sea," were the orders of the Captain.
The luffs were soon put upon the weather shrouds, which of course relieved the chains and channels, but many an anxious eye was turned towards the remaining bolts, for upon them depended the masts, and upon the masts depended the safety of the ship-for with one foot of canvass less she could not live fifteen minutes.
Onward plunged the overladen frigate, and at every surge she seemed bent upon making the deep, the sailor's grave, and her liveoak sides, his coffin of glory. She had been fitted out at Boston when the thermometer was below zero. Her shrouds of course therefore slackened at every strain, and her unwieldy masts (for she had those designed for the frigate Cumberland, a much larger ship,) seemed ready to jump out of her. And now, while all was apprehension, another bolt drew!-and then another !-until at last, our whole stay was placed upon a single bolt less than a man's wrist in circumference. Still the good iron clung to the solid wood, and bore us alongside the breakers, though in a most fearful proximity to them. This thrilling incident has never, I believe, been noticed in public, but it is the literal fact—which I make not the slightest attempt to embellish. As we gallopped on-for I can compare our vessel's leaping to nothing else—the rocks seemed very near us. Dark as was the night, the white foam scowled around their black heads, while the spray fell over us, and the thunder of the dashing surge sounded like the awful knell that the ocean was singing for the victims it was eager to engulph.
At length the light bore upon our quarter, and the broad Atlantic rolled its white caps before us. During this time all were silent, each officer and man was at his post, and the bearing and countenance of the Captainseemed to give encouragement to every person on board. With but a bare possibility of saving the ship and those on board, he placed his reliance upon his nautical skill and courage, and by carrying the mainsail when in any other situation it would have been considered a suicidal act, he weathered the lee shore, and saved the Constitution.
The mainsail was now hauled up, by light hearts and strong