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which is not to perish with our mortal clay; and few there are, whose hearts have become so steeled against the noble and tender sympathies of our nature, that, when thus leaving the home of their youth, they can truly say, —
“ With thee, my bark, I swiftly go
Athwart the foaming brine;
So not again to mine."
How do these parting hours, these swift, strong-rushing hours of life, - cast
“A sudden freshness back on vanished days.” We seem to hear again those voices which greeted our ears in childhood, when all was joy and gladness, and they are sweeter to the soul than the music of a thousand golden harps. How strangely, too, at such times, does one's love glow for the land where he spent his earliest and brightest days; and the more so, if his home has been amid the wild and varied scenery, and the hallowed associations, of the land of the Pilgrims. Such, at least, were my own feelings, and might I, in homely verse, express them, its tenor would be thus :
Our own New England, - birthplace of the free,
Which brightly shines beneath the blaze of day;
There is, it is often said, but a single step between the sublime and the ridiculous; or, as we might say, the senti. mental and the ludicrous. So, at least, we found it : for as night advanced, and our gallant ship dashed and rolled along over the waves, we were soon taught that man is not all spirit. Wast thou ever seasick, reader? If so, then thou knowest well the awful sinking of the soul, and the utter loathing of the gifts of God, which it produces. What vain attempts to walk the rolling deck, what drooping and reeling of the body, how sad and woe-begone the countenance, presenting a most wretched libel on the “ human face divine." And then to be laughed at, or to hear a thousand waggish prescriptions, of salt pork, sea water, and other abominations, as infallible cures. Truly, one had better, if possible, keep his troubles to himself. My own sufferings were but short, still they were such as to lessen my wonder at the perfect indifference, as to life, which often attends this complaint, or even at the request which its victims sometimes urge, that their sufferings may be ended, by throwing them overboard. This fact illustrates the important principle, that a mere willingness, or even a wish to die, is no certain evidence of being prepared for death. Still, such cases, the result of extreme suffering only, are often urged to weaken the powerful confirmation of Christianity, arising from the peaceful or triumphant death of eminent saints.
The lading of our ship had been badly stowed, so that she rolled and labored much in a heavy sea. The ports of the gun deck, too, fitted so loosely, that it was not unlike the fisherman's boots, with one large hole to let the water in, and another to let it out. Thus, in passing along, one was often exposed to be wet up to the waist, with no other comfort than the sailor's philosophy, that no one ever dies of seasickness, or catches cold from salt water. Many ludicrous scenes occurred, however, in connexion with this evil, which furnished the old salts with no little amusement, at the expense of the greenhorns, .
Sometimes a knot of midshipmen would gravely express their fears as to the safety of the ship, within hearing of some one who was new in the perils of the sea. If thus they could sorely frighten him, so as to prevent him from retiring for a night, their end was fully gained. One of them was kind enough to exchange his cot in the cockpit, for the state-room and berth of one of the assistant surgeons. As it happened, however, the cot was hung so near the hatchway, that the first heavy sea that came, poured a full allowance down upon the doctor, when, hastily jumping into his lower garments, he held them up with one hand, while, with the other, he crawled as quickly as possible up the ladders, to the gun deck, where, making a rush for the breech of a gun, he held on with deadly desperation, each roll of the ship wetting him up to the middle, until an officer led him into the cabin, and there placed him on a settee, with his head towards the lee side, so that his heels were the highest.
The marines are soldiers, who are placed as sentries in different parts of the ship. As they have not commonly seen much salt water, and part of their duty being to keep the sailors out of mischief, and to stand guard over them, when they are confined for crimne, they are not usually on good terms with the sailors, who love to impose upon them, by telling them big stories, and by playing all manner of tricks with them. Much amusement is caused by the mishaps which befall the poor marines, as they move about the ship, before they get their sea legs on. In one case, a marine fell upon the gun deck, and, before he could rise, rolled some half a dozen times, from the hatchway to the lee scuppers, and back again, the water, at each turn, dashing over him. The old salts, and even the officers, thought nothing of getting a good wetting themselves, as they stood and enjoyed the scene. Sailors love fun, and amid the confinement and monotony of a long cruise, they hail it with glee, come from what source, and at whose expense, it may
“Is not this a noble and gallant command, to have the control of such a ship, and be responsible for so many lives? How grand must such an excitement be!”—Thus exclaimed one of our older officers, as I stood beside him one evening, soon after our voyage commenced. The poet, too, speaking of a ship of war, has said,
" Who would not brave the battle-fire, the wreck,
To move the monarch of thy peopled deck ?" There is, however, less of truth than poetry in such expres
sions of feeling. Not that I would deny that there is, indeed, high excitement in such a command; nor is the complaint wholly without justice, which is often heard from our officers, that those who have written books respecting the navy, have described only its dark shades, without portraying any of those brighter features, which make it a field of effort worthy the ambition of men of high and chivalrous spirits. Nor would I subscribe to the correctness of that estimate, which claims that the philosopher, engaged in the deep speculations of the closet, exhibits mental power of a higher order than such a man as Bonaparte; who, overlooking a field of battle, and in circumstances where others would be wholly unmanned, by the rapid and powerful actings and combinations of his own mind, so varies and controls the movements of thousands, as to defeat the wisdom which has resulted from the experience of ages. On board a ship of war, there are, at times, crises, when the energy and promptness of a single moment may decide the fate of a thousand souls. And this is no less true in a deadly strife with the raging elements, than when, in the midst of a hard fought action, a daring commander inspires his yielding crew with courage, and leads them, with triumphant valor, from the blood-stained deck of his own sinking ship, to that of his almost victorious foe. No one can deny, that at such times, a noble and daring mind may feel a high and glorious excitement of all its energies. Still, this feeling of high responsibility must be awfully oppressive, when long continued, or when the mind or body has been weakened by fatigue, disease, or wasting anxiety and care. It is, therefore, a common remark, and one that is often true, - that in a ship of war, the captain is the most unhappy man on board. Most commanders, too, have families whom they tenderly love, and for whom, when separated from them, they feel a deep anxiety, whilst they themselves have reached that period of life, when the comforts of home and the delights of the social circle must be far more congenial to their feelings than the inconveniences and perilous excitement of life at sea. It seems unnatural, and cruel in the extreme, that one should thus, by the usages of his profession, be severed for years from his family, and forced, by a regard to etiquette, and the dignity of command, in a great degree to forego the pleasures of unreserved and cheerful social intercourse with those around him. This is, indeed, to purchase honor and preferment at too dear a rate.
Were I, by a scene of peril, to confirm the truth of what has just been said, I should not, with this view, select the high and valorous excitement of a hard fought naval contest, for this is far from being the severest test of skill, or of cool, prompt, determined, and efficient courage. In a battle men act in a mass: the chance of death may not be great, and the thirst for victory and renown, where a nation's glory is at stake, so fire and absorb the mind, as to exclude the awful and subduing emotions which engross the soul, when each one of a multitude is called, for himself, to look death calmly in the face. There is many a man who would die nobly in the midst of battle, who would turn pale with fear, and quiver like the aspen leaf, were he, when abroad upon the deep, called to meet death by famine, shipwreck, or some other fatal ill, with the mind thrown back upon itself for support, and with nothing from without to sustain or cheer it. Such scenes occur full oft upon the deep'; and often, too, does the ocean swallow up those who have long and vainly struggled with the raging elements, or who, left by the fury of the tempest on a sparless, mastless wreck, grim famine hath consigned to a worse than living death.
St. George's Bank is the name given to extensive and dangerous shoals, which are distant from one to two hundred miles from the eastern coast of New England. Their vicinity to the Gulf Stream, together with the action of violent storms and strong currents, frequently vary their position, sweeping away the drifting sand in some places, and heaping it up, for miles in extent, in hard and beaten ridges, in others. Secret currents, too, often imperceptibly vary the course of ships sailing near them, and thus, at times, the precautions of skill and science are baffled, and the boasted wisdom of man is but as folly.
In addition to these evils, we were forced, by the winds, to pass through a different and more dangerous channel than that of which we had intended to avail ourselves. The ship was tossed to and fro by the wild and angry waves, going up to the heavens, and down again to the depths. At such times sleep does not visit the eyes of those in command. An expression of deep and fixed anxiety rests upon the countenance. Often they engage, for a moment, in eager deliberation, and then hasten to discharge their various duties.
Between daylight and sunrise of the second day of our voyage, when more than a hundred miles from the nearest