ページの画像
PDF
ePub

were all asleep, and had neglected to hoist a light. We struck her just amidships. The force, the size, the 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 5 beneath us, I had a glimpse of two or three half-naked wretches

rushing from her cabin; they 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 farther hearing. I shall never forget that 10 cry! It was some time before we could put the ship about, she

was under such headway. We returned, as nearly as we could guess, to the place where the smack had anchored. We cruised about for several hours in the dense fog. We fired signal guns,

and listened if we might hear the halloo of any survivors: but 15 all was silent-we never saw or heard anything of them more.”

I confess these stories, for a time, put an end to all my fine fancies. The storm increased with the night. The sea was lashed into tremendous confusion. There was a fearful, sullen

sound of rushing waves, and broken surges. Deep called unto 20 deep. At times the black column of clouds overhead seemed

rent asunder by flashes of lightning which quivered along the foaming billows, and made the succeeding darkness doubly terrible. The thunders bellowed over the wild waste of waters, and

were echoed and prolonged by the mountain waves. As I saw 25 the ship staggering and plunging among these roaring caverns,

it seemed miraculous that she regained her balance, or preserved her buoyancy. Her yards would dip into the water: her bow was almost buried beneath the waves. Sometimes an impending

surge appeared ready to overwhelm her, and nothing but a 30 dexterous movement of the helm preserved her from the shock.

When I retired to my cabin, the awful scene still followed me. The whistling of the wind through the rigging sounded like funereal wailings. The creaking of the masts, the straining and groaning of bulk-heads, as the ship labored in the weltering

[ocr errors]

sea, were frightful. As I heard the waves rushing along the sides of the ship, and roaring in my very ear, it seemed as if Death were raging round this floating prison, seeking for his

prey: the mere starting of a nail, the yawning of a seam, might 5 give him entrance.

A fine day, however, with a tranquil sea and favoring breeze, soon put all these dismal reflections to flight. It is impossible to resist the gladdening influence of fine weather and fair wind

at sea. When the ship is decked out in all her canvas, every 10 sail swelled, and careering gayly over the curling waves, how

lofty, how gallant she appears—how she seems to lord it over the deep!

I might fill a volume with the reveries of a sea voyage, for with me it is almost a continual reverie--but it is time to get 15 to shore.

It was a fine sunny morning when the thrilling cry of “land !” was given from the mast-head. None but those who have experienced it can form an idea of the delicious throng of sensations

which rush into an American's bosom, when he first comes in 20 sight of Europe. There is a volume of associations with the

very name. It is the land of promise, teeming with every thing of which his childhood has heard, or on which his studious years have pondered.

From that time until the moment of arrival, it was all fever25 ish excitement. The ships of war, that prowled like guardian

giants along the coast; the headlands of Ireland, stretching out into the channel ; the Welsh mountains, towering into the clouds; all were objects of intense interest. As we sailed up the Mersey

I reconnoitred the shores with a telescope. My eye dwelt with 30 delight on neat cottages, with their trim shrubberies and green

grass plots. I saw the mouldering ruin of an abbey overrun with ivy, and the taper spire of a village church rising from the brow of a neighboring hill-all were characteristic of Eng.. land.

The tide and wind were so favorable that the ship was enabled to come at once to the pier. It was thronged with people; some, idle lookers-on, others, eager expectants of friends or relatives.

I could distinguish the merchant to whom the ship was con5 signed. I knew him by his calculating brow and restless air.

His hands were thrust into his pockets; he was whistling thoughtfully, and walking to and fro, a small space having been accorded him by the crowd, in deference to his temporary importance.

There were repeated cheerings and salutations interchanged 10 between the shore and the ship, as friends happened to recog

nize each other. I particularly noticed one young woman of humble dress, but interesting demeanor. She was leaning forward from among the crowd; her eye hurried over the ship as it

neared the shore, to catch some wished-for countenance. She 15 seemed disappointed and agitated; when I heard a faint voice

call her name. It was from a poor sailor who had been ill all the voyage, and had excited the sympathy of every one on board. When the weather was fine, his messmates had spread a mattress

for him on deck in the shade, but of late his illness had so 20 increased that he had taken to his hammock, and only breathed

a wish that he might see his wife before he died. He had been helped on deck as we came up the river, and was now leaning against the shrouds, with a countenance so wasted, so pale, so

ghastly, that it was no wonder even the eye of affection did not 25 recognize him. But at the sound of his voice, her eye darted on

his features; it read, at once, a whole volume of sorrow; she clasped her hands, uttered a faint shriek, and stood wringing them in silent agony.

All now was hurry and bustle. The meetings of acquaint30 ances—the greetings of friends—the consultations of men of

business. I alone was solitary and idle. I had no friend to meet, no cheering to receive. I stepped upon the land of my forefathers—but felt that I was a stranger in the land.

HELPS TO STUDY

Notes and Questions Why did the author realize so | What does Irving say is a “glo

clearly the extent of the journey | rious monument of human inhe had undertaken?

vention' How many days do you think Ir. Name some inventions which seem ving was on the ocean?

to you more worthy of this What change has taken place in

designation.

Find the paragraph which dethe method of ocean travel since he made this voyage ?

scribes the mast of a ship that

was wrecked. Find words and lines which tell

How does this description comyou the kind of vessel in which

pare with his description of the he crossed the ocean.

“monsters of the deep''? Had Irving greater opportunity Which description in this selection

for observing "the monsters of do you like best? Why? the deep” than is afforded peo- | What do you think of Irving's ple crossing the ocean at the

powers of description? present day? Why do you | What does this sketch tell you of think so?

Irving 's own character?

Words and Phrases for Discussion "undulating billows" "idle speculation” “reconnoitred” “delicious sensation" "dread”.

"abbey') "wild phantasms" "despair'.

"anxiety") “monument of human invention" "prowled like guardian giants" “light of knowledge

"insurmountable barrier' "dismal anecdotes”.

NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE

THE ancestors of Hawthorne, unlike those of most of the New England writers, were not of the clergy, but were seamen, soldiers, and magistrates. Concerning one of these, a judge who dealt harshly with the Salem witches, Hawthorne writes: “I take shame upon myself for their sakes and yet strong traits of their nature have intertwined themselves with mine." Hawthorne was born in Salem, Massachusetts, July 4, 1804, and when only four years old lost his father, a sea captain.

The happiest years of his boyhood were spent at his uncle's

[ocr errors]

home in the forests of Maine. Here he loved to wander through the woods, afterwards recording carefully his observations. His early education was rather irregular; however, for a time he had for schoolmaster, Worcester, the author of the dictionary. Aut Bowdoin college his studies were largely literary. His life at college is chiefly remarkable for the friendships formed there. Both Franklin Pierce, who later became president of the United States, and Longfellow, the poet, were members of his class.

After graduation in 1825, while Longfellow was traveling in many lands and yielding himself to the charm of mediæval history and legend, Hawthorne drifted into a strange mode of life, virtually disappearing from the world for a dozen years and living in actual solitude. “I have made a captive of myself,” he wrote to Longfellow, "and put me into a dungeon; and now I cannot find the key to let myself out.” But the key was found. The appreciation of Elizabeth and Sophia Peabody and the deep affection for the latter acted as a spur to get him into active life. At thirty-eight he married Sophia Peabody and took up courageously enough a life of poverty and hard literary work at Concord in the Old Manse, which had formerly been Emerson's home. There he came to know and value the friendship of Emerson, who we may well believe was the inspiration of the allegory of the Great Stone Face.

In curious contradiction with his natural love for solitude, Hawthorne became interested in the experiment of communal life and spent the year before his marriage at Brook Farm, where a number of literary men tried to live simply and happily by combining intellectual and manual work.

During the years of his solitude he wrote incessantly and composed many of those sketches of the fancy which won for him his peculiar place in literature. Many of these sketches appeared in the collection “Twice Told Tales.” For children he has written the little stories and biographies of “Grandfather's Chair” and the story of Greek and Roman Myths in his “Wonder-Book” and “Tanglewood Tales.” Sin and the effect of guilt upon human conduct are the problems in his great romances.

« 前へ次へ »