« 上一頁繼續 »
stances, was, to show us that we need never be deterred, by the state of the weather, from uniting in public religious exercises on the Sabbath. Hence, during the whole of our cruise, we met for worship, be the weather what it might, though, at times, the effort required, in order to be heard above the noise of the elements, was such that no one could sustain it long. Still, there was often a high and engrossing interest in these brief exercises, owing to the peculiarly sublime and exciting struggle of the elements around us, and the impressive lesson they taught us, of the weakness of man, as contrasted with the mighty power of God.
Of the numerous new and striking phenomena, which one meets with in first crossing the ocean, I will here notice but one. It was such a refraction of the rays of light, as to give each particle of the wide-spread sea of vapor which floated around us, the hue of burnished gold; as if all the untold treasures of the deep, dissolved by some magic power, had risen in one vast and gorgeous exhalation around us. This golden mist, thus resting on the bosom of the storm-tossed ocean, by no remote analogy, suggested to the mind, that heavenly atmosphere in which the sainted spirit, as it rises from the convulsed and heaving sea of earthly toil and trial, floats away to regions of eternal rest on high. Some waggish wight has rhymed as follows:
“ Two things change the monotony
Of an Atlantic trip;
And sometimes see a ship.”
Of shipping seas we had enough, and once we met with a home-bound packet from England. And oh, what a scrambling there was to finish off half-written letters, and strike out new ones; to scribble a few hasty words, saying to friends at home, that all was well. And when we merely hailed, and rapidly passed each other, without communicating, what sore disappointment and chagrin was there. Some tore their letters into a thousand pieces, while others threw them, whole, upon the waves, almost hoping that the rolling tides, or some passing ship, might bear them safely to a faroff home.
On approaching the shores of Europe, every indication of what might prove to be land was watched with intense anxiety. Sometimes a distant bank of clouds, low in the
horizon, would be mistaken for a rising mountain range, and then some other deceptive vision would, for a moment, float before us, and quickly pass away. The poet has said,
" Optics keen, it needs, I ween,
To see what is not to be seen. and excited imaginations gave to many of us this power of second sight.
The first sure and unfailing indication we had of land, however, was the appearance on board of a bird, somewhat larger than a robin, which, ignorant of the “lay of the land," had wandered far out to sea, and came as if to welcome our approach. And surely the dove, when, bearing the leaf of the olive, it returned to the ark, could hardly have been a more joyful messenger. Nor was it anxious to leave us, for, as if conscious of the joy its presence gave us,
“ It sat all day on the mast and sails,
An omen right good to view;
And it told the mariners true.
The next morning, the joyful cry of “Land ho!” was heard from aloft, and soon I was on the cross-trees of the mainmast, gazing, with feelings of peculiar excitement, upon the mountains of Portugal. Here then, said I, is Europe, a name which brought to my mind a thousand recollections of history and of romance, – that smallest, but by far most powerful, quarter of the globe, whose destiny is identified with that of millions, who, though far removed from her, in distant portions of the earth, still bow to her sceptre of power, or, with childlike veneration, regard her as the home whence their forefathers came. The land before us, too, was one of dark superstition, misrule, and tyranny, and yet of deep, though painful, interest to the mind; for there the Inquisition had, for centuries, swayed her sceptre of iron, paralyzing all that was noble and godlike in the act. ings of human intellect; and had bathed her sword in the blood of thousands, whose only crime had been to seek that highest gift of heaven, - " freedom to worship God."
We passed near Cape St. Vincent, with its abrupt, wavebeaten shores rising fifty feet, or more, above the surface of
Near its termination, is a fortress and a convent, no unapt emblems of the superstition and war by which the land has been so sorely scourged.
In passing along the coast of Spain, we had a view of Modena and Cadiz,
“ Fair Cadiz, rising o'er the dark blue sea." We saw, too, where the battle of Trafalgar was fought, the scene of Lord Nelson's victory and death.
It was soon after sunset when we entered the Straits of Gibraltar, with the city of Tangier and the Empire of Morocco on our right, and Spain on our left. Dark, dense clouds were here and there resting on the gorgeous evening sky, borrowing from it a brilliant fringe of crimson and of gold, like the blendings of joy and sorrow, in the checkered drama of human life, or the radiance of hope, as it lights up the brow of despair. The air was mild and balmy, and soon the moon came forth in her loveliness, and cast her splendid drapery over the fading glories of Autumn, with which the heights, on either side, were crowned. Thus, with the mountains of the ancient. Mauritania, - the land of the Moors,-on the one hand, and the gentler shores of Spain on the other, we passed those straits, where, as the poet sings,
" Europe and Africa on each other gaze!
Lands of the dark-eyed maid and dusky Moor,
About one o'clock at night, we came to anchor in the bay of Gibraltar. The next morning the sun rose fair and bright, and, with feelings of peculiar pleasure, we looked out upon the mountains and valleys of Spain and of Africa, as they lay around us. In our rear rose the rock of Gibraltar, famed 'in story and in song, as the scene of many a gallant and heroic deed. It extends north and south, about two miles and a half, and is five eighths of a mile broad at its base. The harbour washes the western side, leaving room enough between the water and the sleep ascent of the rock for the town.
GIBRALTAR AND MAHON.
Rock of Gibraltar. – Moorish Castle. - Visit to the Town. - Feelings thus
excited. - Fortifications. — United States Consul. - Strife of Tongues. -
Sabbath at Sea. — Grandeur and Beauty of the Sea. — Evening Scene. - Arrive at Mahon. - Cholera. - Quarantine. - Rev. Mr. Jones. - Harbour of Mahon. - Fortifications. - Georgetown. — Mahon. — Houses. Education. - The Sabbath. - The Catholic Clergy.
The Rock of Gibraltar is fourteen hundred and seventy feet high, and is composed of gray limestone, divided by perpendicular fissures, filled with calcareous concretions, containing an immense quantity of bones and shells. Many of the former belong to different sorts of deer, none of which are at present found in Europe.
The town of Gibraltar lies near the northern extremity of the rock. Next south of this, are the parade ground and public garden ; and still further south is Point Europa, where many of the officers of the garrison reside, and having more the appearance of an English than of a Spanish town. The western declivity of the rock is mostly covered with loose, broken fragments of limestone, among which herds of goats clamber about, feeding on the numerous wild shrubs and plants which grow there. The eastern side, which descends to the Mediterranean, and the southern end, are mostly precipitous cliffs. The northern extremity is a lofty, perpendicular wall, while the summit of the rock, along its whole extent, is a sharp, waving ridge, higher at each end than in the middle. This outline of the summit has been compared, in form, to a bull; the northern bluff being taken for the towering neck and head, with which, as if in fighting attitude, this giant monster bids defiance to the world.
On the side of the rock, just above the town, is an old Moorish Castle, which, for a thousand years, has withstood the warring of the elements and the shock of arms, and may yet, for centuries to come, look down upon the changing and eventful scenes in the drama of empires lost and won, which shall be enacted there. To me it had peculiar interest, from the fact of its being, at the time, by far the oldest of the works of man that I had ever seen. What a strange and varied succession of kings and heroes had, in ages past, contended unto death, to gain possession of that ancient tower, or to repel invading foes. “And could those battered and time-worn walls disclose the history of the past, what tales of reckless daring, of wild ambition, and of deadly strife might they not unfold.
Before any of us left the ship, a health officer came alongside in a boat, and having satisfied himself that we had no contagious disease on board, we were admitted to prattique; that is, we were permitted freely to visit the shore. I eagerly seized the opportunity offered, of leaving the ship in the first boat which left, in company with some officers, who were sent to wait on our Consul, Mr. Sprague, and invite him on board.
There are two places for landing. The Water Port, where the shipping business is done, is at the north end of the town. The Ragged Staff, where naval and other military officers land, is just south of the town. There we went on shore; and I need not say, that my feelings were highly excited when I first placed my feet on European ground, and not the less so, from doing it at a place of so much natural and historic interest, as the Rock of Gibraltar. But aside from all romance, those only who have been tossed for weeks upon the ocean, can know the sensation of wild and boyish delight, I had alınost said ecstasy, that fills the soul, when the confinement of a ship, and the rolling, and uncertain foothold of the deck, is exchanged for the wide range of the open fields, and the firm tread of the solid earth. With those who are peculiarly sensitive, this excitement has been known to amount to a kind of temporary intoxication, or delirium. The feelings of childhood come strangely over one, and he can scarce restrain himself from running, and skipping, and shouting aloud for joy. Facts like these have an important moral bearing, and should be taken into account by those who are laboring to elevate the moral character of seamen, and to prevent the wild and reckless excesses of which they are guilty, when first set free from the confinement and rigid discipline of a ship. Some channel of innocent and rational enjoyment should be opened, where this excess of feeling