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Looking about me upon the wide waste of liquid ebony on which we were thus borne, I perceived that our boat was not the only object in the embrace of the whirl.
Both above and below us were visible fragments of vessels, 5 large masses of building timber, and trunks of trees, with many smaller articles, such as pieces of house furniture, broken boxes, barrels, and staves. “This fir tree,” I found myself at one time saying, “will certainly be the next thing that takes the awful plunge and disappears,” — and 10 then I was disappointed to find that the wreck of a Dutch
merchant ship overtook it and went down before. At length, after making several guesses of this nature, and being deceived in all, this fact — the fact of my invariable
miscalculation — set me upon a train of reflection that 15 made my limbs again tremble and my heart beat heavily.
It was not a new terror that thus affected me, but the dawn of a more exciting hope. This hope arose partly from memory, and partly from present observation. I
called to mind the great variety of buoyant matter that 20 strewed the coast of Lofoden, having been absorbed and
then thrown forth by the Maelström. By far the greater number of the articles were shattered in the most extraordinary way — so chafed and roughened as to have the
appearance of being stuck full of splinters — but then I 25 distinctly recollected that there were some of them which
were not disfigured at all. Now I could not account for this difference except by supposing that the roughened
fragments were the only ones which had been completely absorbed that the others had entered the whirl at so late a period of the tide, or from some reason had descended so slowly after entering, that they did not reach the bottom before the turn of the flood came, or of the ebb, as the 5 case might be. I conceived it possible, in either instance, that they might thus be whirled up again to the level of the ocean without undergoing the fate of those which had been drawn in more early or absorbed more rapidly. I also noted that cylindrical bodies were absorbed more 10 slowly than any others.
I no longer hesitated what to do. I resolved to lash myself securely to the water cask upon which I now held, to cut it loose, and to throw myself with it into the water. The result was precisely what I hoped it might be. As it 15 is myself who now tell you this tale —as you see that I did escape — and as you are already in possession of the mode in which this escape was effected, and must therefore anticipate all I have further to say, I will bring my story quickly to conclusion. It might have been an hour or 20 thereabout after my quitting the smack, when, after having descended to a vast distance beneath me, it made three or four wild gyrations in rapid succession, and plunged headlong at once and forever into the chaos of foam below. The barrel to which I was attached sunk very 25 little farther than half the distance between the bottom of the gulf and the spot at which I leaped overboard,
before a great change took place in the character of the whirlpool. The slope of the sides of the vast funnel became less and less steep. The gyrations of the whirl grew
less and less violent. By degrees the froth and the rain5 bow disappeared, and the bottom of the gulf seemed slowly
to uprise. The sky was clear, the winds had gone down, and the full moon was setting radiantly in the west, when I found myself on the surface of the ocean, in full view of
the shores of Lofoden, and above the spot where the pool 10 of the Maelström had been. It was the hour of the slack,
but the sea still heaved in mountainous waves from the effects of the hurricane. I was borne violently into the channel of the Ström, and in a few minutes was hurried
down the coast. A boat picked me up, exhausted from 15 fatigue and speechless. Those who drew me on board were
my old mates and daily companions, but they knew me no more than they would have known a traveler from the spirit land. My hair, which had been raven black the day
before, was as white as you see it now. They say too that 20 the whole expression of my countenance had changed.
I told them my story — they did not believe it. I now tell it to you, and I can scarcely expect you to put more faith in it than did the fishermen of Lofoden.
weighed : lifted the anchor. Helseg'gen (the cloudy) : the name of a mountain peak. on the wind : a sailor's phrase for sailing as nearly as possible toward the point from which the wind blows. - going large : sailing so that the greatest speed is attained. - starboard : right. — larboard : left. Lofo’den : islands off the coast of Norway.
This selection is taken from “ Heroes and Hero Worship.”
As for Johnson, I have already considered him to be by nature one of our great English souls. A strong and noble man; so much left undeveloped in him to the last. In a kindlier element what might he not have been poet, priest, sovereign ruler! On the whole, a man must not complain of his “ element,” of his “time,” or the like; it is thriftless work doing so.
His time is bad; well, then, he is there to make it better.
Johnson's youth was poor, isolated, hopeless, very mis- 10 erable. Indeed, it does not seem possible that in any of the favorablest outward circumstances Johnson's life could have been other than a painful one. The world might have had more of profitable work out of him, or less; but his effort against the world's work could never 15 have been a light one. Nature, in return for his nobleness, had said to him, Live in an element of diseased sorrow. Nay, perhaps the sorrow and nobleness were intimately and even inseparably connected with each other. At all events, poor Johnson had to go about 20 girt with continual hypochondria, physical and spiritual pain. Like a Hercules with the burning Nessus' shirt on him, which shoots in on him dull, incurable misery,
the Nessus' shirt not to be stripped off, which is his own natural skin. In this manner he had to live.
Figure him there, with his scrofulous diseases, with his great greedy heart, and unspeakable chaos of thoughts; 5 stalking mournful as a stranger in this earth; ' eagerly
devouring what spiritual thing he could come at, — school languages and other merely grammatical stuff, if there were nothing better. The largest soul that was in all Eng
land; and provision made for it of “fourpence-half-penny 10 a day.” Yet a giant invincible soul; a true man's. One
remembers always that story of the shoes at Oxford: the rough, seamy-faced, rawboned college servitor stalking about, in winter season, with his shoes worn out;
how the charitable gentleman commoner secretly places 15 a new pair at his door; and the rawboned servitor, lift
ing them, looking at them near, with his dim eyes, with what thoughts, pitches them out of the window. Wet feet, mud, frost, hunger, or what you will; but not beg
gary; we cannot stand beggary. Rude, stubborn self20 help here; a whole world of squalor, rudeness, confused
misery, and want, yet of nobleness and manfulness withal. It is a type of the man's life, this pitching away of the shoes. An original man, — not a secondhand, borrow
ing, or begging man. Let us stand on our own basis, 25 at any rate! On such shoes as we ourselves can get. On frost and mud, if you will, but honestly on that,
on the reality and substance which nature gives us,