"Have any thing to-day, Sir," says our excellent servant John "No!" is the unmannerly retort. Imprisonment in the meanest county jail, on bread and water, with whippings hourly, would be heaven to this. And then the idea of coming back. I lay whole days thinking of it-wondering if there could not be found some short-cut over Bering's straits. No matter for bad roads and cold weather, so it is mother earth-give us EARTH, Zealand or Greenland. Only let this heaving instability cease.

Washington Irving never said a truer, yet in some respects a less true thing, than when he called the Ocean a blank page, separating two worlds. It may be blank; but like the pages between the Old and New Testaments, it affords a resting-place for the mind, wherein to contemplate the wonders and majesty of the Creator. It affords, too, a space for the solemn records of "Deaths," and sometimes of "Births," of which latter, our good ship received an addition when three days out. But to my thinking, this page is written all along significantly. I do not mean to say that I have been gazing out into the ocean, drinking in its roar and its sublimity; though I confess to drinking, in certain peculiar moments, divers quantities of the beverage it affords slightly warmed. To come home to our subject, I have been a victim, by no means a solitary one, to the god of the Trident. I will not say, that he has used me peculiarly unkind; for daily, since my body assumed its perpendicularity, have I seen others coming from their berths,— pictures of Spencer's Image of Despair, or rather, resembling rats emergent from holes into which young Nimrods had been pouring warm water. For over a week has my poor system experienced what never before it experienced, and (how I fear!) may again experience. But this is a part of the royal game of travel. It is this experience which is written in illuminated characters all over Irving's blank page.

I would advise every one who thinks of crossing the sea, to provide a cast-iron stomach; or else procure some preparation, by which that sensitive part of our organism may be rendered

ex tempore insensible. I am aware that there is, on land, some strong prejudices against sea-travelling, on account of sea-sickness. I had some misgivings myself. They fell so far short, however, of the reality, as to work great injustice to the power of Old Neptune.

I would not undertake to tell precisely the treatment which Dr. Atlantic prescribed. The day after I came aboard, I inadvertently caught him assuming the office of Esculapius, taking a diagnosis of my case, and pressing home the remedy with a summariness not exceeded by the sharpest practice of another learned profession. The unremitting vigilance and care of my "big medicine-man" cannot, in my present state, be too highly lauded. That he has suffered me to sleep a little, almost suffuses my eyes with gratitude. Dr. Sangrado prescribed a remedy for all diseases, so simple as to have become classicalblood-letting and warm water. Our Doctor disdains the former. The latter, I am pleased to say, has been adopted in these latitudes (with an addition of the saline), with good effect. The fact that I am able to write on this eighth day out, is evidence,

Clear as a fountain in July,

that a searching potency has been exercised, which places Medicine upon the topmost sparkle of the wave of science.

A person after emerging from the Hades of sea-sickness, is for ever after a privileged community in himself. He has certain irrepealable franchises, among which are freedom of speech, I wish I could say "free soil." FREE SOIL! I am a great freesoiler, just now. Give me soil, that is all I ask, whether it be the veriest rock upon which a lichen would starve, let it be stable-only still-rocky, but not rocking. No one can appreciate the merits of that much-abused party who has not been sea-sick. You might as well attempt to master the Integral Calculus, without a knowledge of algebra, or to read Shakspeare without a knowledge of the alphabet. It is a sine qua non. Each par

ticular fibre in my body would quiver, if it were only placed upon an immobile element-upon free soil.

One thing I have learned within a week, and that is, fully to understand the merits of Christopher Columbus and Captain Cook. Even in my most pluckless condition, pale, haggard and hirsute, I could have performed a genuflexion, with the ardor of Carlyle himself, to these heroes of the sea.

I have wondered how any soul could feel grand or sublime upon the ocean. Lord Jeffrey has demonstrated that beauty and sublimity are subjective, not inherent to the objects seen, but depending upon the mind of the person seeing. The labyrinth of forms which emanate from the painter's pencil and distil upon the canvass the freshness of Nature's Beauty, are first pictured in his soul. The warm breath of enthusiasm passes over the gross materials of earth, solves them into the refinement of thought, and then the "imprisoned splendor of the soul" bursts forth to beautify and bless. If, therefore, there is to be found beauty or sublimity upon the ocean, the mental tentacula must reach out and find it. But when they are paralyzed and shrunken by this everlasting sea-sickness-where is the sub, I beg pardon. Eureka! It is the sublimity Burke discovered in Spencer's Cave of Error,-the nauseate sublime! Its monosyllabic expression, is simply-Ugh!

On Sunday we passed amidst six icebergs. They were said to be beautiful. No doubt. But if each iceberg had been as radiant with gold and orange, green and violet, and prismatic generally as Trinity church windows, with a Polar bear surmounting each glittering pinnacle, the scene could not have aroused my sense of the beautiful. I did not even go on deck to see them. The beautiful was drowned fathomlessly in the ocean of sea-sickness.

These British vessels run up north and over the Newfoundland banks. They thus save upwards of 300 miles. We have passed very few vessels. It is not the route for sailing vessels. During the rough time upon the banks, we ran by a little

schooner, with no sails set, dancing away 1500 miles from either hemisphere-playing "hide and go seek" with the billows, as if it were in very deed, the fairy gondola of Phedra which passed on its way, unharmed, without oar, sail, or rudder.

We also passed the U. S. steamship Humboldt, upon our fifth day out. It is her first trip. She had, however, only seven pieces of canvas spread, while we had ten. Our American ladies did not like the idea of having Uncle Sam thrown behind in that way. I am free to confess that not a sentiment of patriotism disturbed my sea-sick heart. I was helped on deck for a view of this strange meeting of the steamers in mid-ocean. We ran along side of her, only distant one half mile. We saluted with cannon, and she returned it gallantly. How finely she dashed the waves from her black prow! What a thing of life is the proud, throbbing steamer, conscious of dignity, sinewed with brass and iron, with a viewless power mocking human might, beating in its iron heart! This gigantic power has been evoked into being, by the genius of this latter time, the distinguishing feature of which, above all others, is expressed in Wordsworth's lines:

An intellectual mastery exercised

O'er the blind elements; a purpose given,
A perseverance fed; almost a SOUL
Imparted to brute matter.


I would not decry the British because we are her rivals in this race of material progress. Let honor crown the AngloSaxon of both continents. These petty irritabilities which have sprung out of this oceanic rivalry, and which have even poisoned the sociality of our voyage, are beneath the dignity and generosity of our countrymen. For safety and speed, for careful management, good servants and skilful officers, the "Asia," at least, cannot be rivalled. We shall try the American line on our return, and may then express our preference. Until then,

God speed the noble steamers of both nations upon their missions of interchange!


My first nautical observation on deck was that of a little bird "all alone, all alone," seemingly exhausted, yet still flying in its own element. What a lesson does this äerial pilgrim teach We who are continually passing the "flaming bounds" of worldly wisdom, and striving for the unknown and unapproachable mysteries of God and of the spirit world-does it not teach us to be content in our own sphere of knowledge? How beautiful would be the song of that little chorister,

-"Upon a bough high swaying in the wind,"

in some sequestered nook, surrounded by leafy prospects and smiling cultivation ! How like a hymn to its Creator would go up its carol to the All Audient One; yet, here it is, with fagged wing and panting_breath, contending with harsh, cold blasts, just able to overtop the snowy spray of the mid-ocean; deluded from its greenwood home by the persuasive mysteries of the unknown; a thing of song in a sea of chaos, soon to be whelmed for ever. Is it not an epitome of man, when he breaks the golden chords of that harmony which bind him to his God?

As my strength increases, the sea grows on my esteem. The warmer air detains me above, where the employment of the eye gives relief and delight. The sailors are putting up their ropes into snaky coils. The sound of dish-washing unromantically mingles with the "profound eternal bass" of Ocean's roar. French fops and English cockneys (we have a motley crew) puff the light cigar vapor. It darts away to blend with the blue, that bends above us like an unbroken canopy, embroidered with a few fleecy clouds. What a circle the horizon describes in the clear air! I do not know whether it pleases most from its perfect geometry or its bewildering extent. The waverings of the water are softened by the distance. It seems as if God, as he sits upon the circle of the heavens, had by his power carved out a vast liquid gem, variant with lights and shades. The sea, as your eye ap

« VorigeDoorgaan »