« 上一頁繼續 »
ment 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.
I have said that at sea all is vacancy. I should correct the expression. To one given up to day-dreaming, 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 10 mind from worldly themes. I delighted to loll over the
quarter-railing, or climb to the main-top on a calm day, and muse for hours together on the tranquil bosom of a summer's sea ; or to gaze upon the piles of golden clouds
just peering above the horizon, fancy them some fairy 15 realms, and people them with a creation of my own; or 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 20 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 25 I had heard or read of the watery world beneath me; of
the finny herds that roam its fathomless valleys; of shapeless monsters that lurk among the very foundations of the earth; and of those wild phantasms that swell the tales of
fishermen and sailors. 30 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 35 and wave; has brought the ends of the earth in commun
ion; has established an interchange of blessings, pouring into the sterile regions of the north all the luxuries of the south; diffused the light of knowledge and the charities of cultivated life; and has thus bound together those scat
tered portions of the human race, between which nature 5 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 surrounding expanse, attracts attention. It proved
to be the mast of a ship that must have been completely 10 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 · 15 for many months; clusters of shell-fish had fastened about
it, and long sea-weeds flaunted at its sides. But where, thought I, are the crew? Their struggle has long been over; they have gone down amidst the roar of the tem
pest; their bones lie whitening in the caverns of the deep. 20 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, and the mother, pored 25 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 cher
ish. All that shall ever be known is, that she sailed from 30 her port, “and was never heard of more.”
The sight of the 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 35 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. 5 “As I was once sailing.” said he, “in a fine, stout
ship, across the banks of Newfoundland, one of the heavy fogs, that prevail in those parts, rendered it impossible for me to see far ahead, even in the daytime; but at night
the weather was so thick that we could not distinguish 10 any object at twice the length of our 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 15 water. Suddenly the watch gave the alarm of a sail
ahead !' but it was scarcely uttered till 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 amidships. The 20 force, the size and weight of our vessel, bore her down
below the waves; we passed over her, and were hurried on our course.
“ As the crashing wreck was sinking bencath us, I had a glimpse of two or three half-naked wretches rushing 25 from her cabin; they had just started from their beds to
be swallowed 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 further hearing. I shall
never forget that cry! It was some time before we could 30 put the ship about, she was under such headway. We
returned, as nearly as we could guess, to the place where the smack was anchored. We cruised about for several hours in the dense fog. We fired several guns, and lis
tened if we might hear the halloo of any survivors; but 35 all was silent — we never heard nor saw anything of them
It was a fine sunny morning when the thrilling cry of “land !” was given from the mast-head. I question whether Columbus, when he discovered the New World, felt a more
delicious throng of sensations, than rush into an Ameri5 can's bosom when he first comes in sight of Europe. There
is a volume of associations in the very name. It is the land of promise, teeming with everything of which his childhood has heard, or on which his studious years have
pondered. 10 From that time until the period of arrival, it was
all feverish excitement. The ships of war, that prowled like guardian giants around the coast; the headlands of Ireland, stretching out into the channel; the Welsh moun
tains, towering into the clouds; all were objects of intense 15 interest. As we sailed up the Mersey, I reconnoitred the
shores with a telescope. My eye dwelt with delight on neat cottages, with their trim shrubberies and green grassplots. I saw the mouldering ruins of an abbey overrun
with ivy, and the taper spire of a village church rising 20 from the brow of a neighboring hill — all were character
istic of England.
XXXVI. - SLAVERY.
(WILLIAM COWPER was born at Berkhampstead, in Hertfordshire, England, November 26, 1731, and died April 25, 1800. He was of an extremely delicate and sensitive organization; and he had the misfortune, when only six years old, to lose an affectionate mother, whom he has commemorated in one of the most popular and beautiful of his poems. He was educated at Westminster school, where his gentle nature suffered much at the hands of older and rougher lads. He spent some time in the study of the law, and was called to the bar; but his morbid temperament was found unequal to the discharge of profes sional and official duties. He declined the struggles and the prizes of an active career, and retired into the country, to a life of seclusion; living for many years in the famiy oi Mr. Unwin, an English clergyınan. His first volume of poems, containing Table Talk."!“ Hope." "The Progress of Error : "Charity &C. WE published ir 1782. when he was fifty-one years old. It rarely appens thai i poet's fissi appearance is so late in life. This volume did not attract much attention. But in 1784 he published “ The Task,” which was received with much more favor. Its vigorous and manly style, its energetio moral tone, and its charming pictures of natural scenery and dom stic life, were soon appreciated, although the general taste, at that time, preferred a more artificial style of poetry. After the publication of “ The Task," he spent some years upon a translation of Homer into blank verse, published in 1791.
Many of Cowper's smaller pieces still enjoy great and deserved popularity. Like many men of habitual melancholy, he had a vein of humor running through his nature. His “John Gilpin " is a well-known instance of this; and the same quality throws a frequent charm over his correspondence. Cow. per's life is full of sad and deep interest. His mind was more than once eclipsed by insanity, and often darkened by melancholy. He had tender and loving friends, who watched over him with affectionate and untiring interest. His most intimate friendships were with women; and there is a striking contrast between the masculine vigor of his style and his feminine habits and manner of life,
His letters are, perhaps, the best in the language. They are not superior, as intellectual efforts, to those of Gray, Walpole, Byron, or Scott; but they have in the highest degree that conversational ease and playful grace which we most desire in this class of writings. They are not epistolary essays, but genuine letters — the unstudied effusions of the heart, meant for no eye but that of the person to whom they are addressed. Cowper's life has been written, and his poems and prose writings edited, by Southey; and they form a work of great interest and permanent value in literature.]
O FOR a lodge in some vast wilderness,
Of unsuccessful or successful war,
My soul is sick, with every day's report
It does not feel for man; the natural bond
That falls asunder at the touch of fire.
To enforce the wrong, for such a worthy cause
Lands intersected by a narrow frith