Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

Ye are the things that tower, that shiney-whose smile
Makes glad, whose frown is terrible; whose forms,
Robed or unrobed, do all the impress wear
Of awe divine! Ye guards of liberty,
I'm with you once again! I call to you
With all my voice! I hold my hands to you,
To show they still are free. I rush to you
As though I could embrace you!

Scaling yonder peak,
I saw an eagle-wheeling, near its brow,
O'er the abyss. His broad expanded wings
Lay calm and motionless-upon the air,
As if he floated there, without their aid,
By the sole act of his unlorded will,
That buoyed him proudly up! Instinctively
I bent my bow; yet wheeled he, heeding not
The death that threatened him! I could not-shoot!
T was liberty! I turned my bow aside,
And let him soar away.
Once Switzerland was free! 0, with what pride
I used to walk these hills, look up to heaven,
And bless God that it was so ! It was free!
From end to end, from `cliff to lake, 't was free!
Free as our torrents are, that leap our rocks,
And plow our valleys without asking leave;
Or as our peaks, that wear their caps of snow
In very presence of the regal'sun!
How happy was I in it then.! I loved
Its very storms! Ay, often have I sat
In my boat, at night, when down the mountain gorgo
The wind came-roaring, – sat in it, and eyed
The thunder breaking from his cloud, and smiled
To see him shake his lightningso'er my head,
And think I had no master, save his own !
You know the jutting cliff, round which a track
Up hither winds, whose base is but the brow

To such another one, with scanty room
For two to pass abreast? O’ertaken there
By the mountain-blast, I've laid me flat along;
And while gust followed gust more furiously,
As if ’t would sweep me o'er the horrid brink,
And I have thought of other lands, whose storms
Are summer-flaws to those of mine, and just
Have wished me there the thought that mine was free
Has checked that wish ; and have raised my head,
And cried, in thralldom, to that furious wind,
“Blow on! - This is the land of liberty !"

SHERIDAN KNOWLES.

[merged small][ocr errors]

DEAD RECK'ON-ING, n., calculation of BA-ROM'E-TER, n., an instrument for position at sea by the log.

showing the weight of the atmos, LAR'BOARD, a., the left on shipboard phere.

as one looks toward the bow. CIR-CUM'FER-ENCE, n., the line that DN'SLAUGHT, n., an attack.

bounds a circle. BECK'ET, n., a ring of rope.

POR-TENT'Ous, a., betokening evil. A-PORT', ad., to the larboard. LEAGUE (leeg), n., three English miles, BE-LAY', v. t., to make fast.

PSALM'Ist (sahm'ist), n., a writer of SHOAL, n., a crowd, as of fishes. psalms.

Do not say helum for helm ; colume for cobümn; fax for facts ; fust for first.

1. It was a night of pitchy darkness. At four bells, in the first watch, not a breath of air was moving, and the drenched sails, wet by the afternoon and evening rains, hung heavily from the yards, or flapped against the masts and rigging, as the ship rolled lazily on the long leaden swells of the Pacific Ocean.' A number of days had passed without an observation of the sun or stars. The ship had been navigated by “dead reckoning," and no one, therefore, was sure of the latitude or of the longitude. Danger might be nearer than any one supposed.

2. The captain had gone below at eight bells, but feeling troubled at the portentous appearance of the weather, he had been unable to sleep, and was on deck again, walking nervously fore and aft, now peering on this side, and then on the other side of the quarterdeck, looking anxiously out into the darkness, then aft, then at the compass, and then at the barometer, which hung in the cabin gangway.

3. Round and round went the ship, heedless of her helm, and the mercury told the same tale it had told for hours before. In vain did the eyes of anxious men peer into the darkness; only inky blackness met their straining gaze every where. Thus matters stood till six* bells, when the mercury began to fall suddenly. The quick, jerking voice of the captain was then heard.

4. “Mr. Smalley, you may take in the light sails."'-“Ay, ay, sir;” and, stepping to the main-mast, he called

For’ard there !” and was immediately answered, “For’ard, sir.” — “ Stand by the top-gallant and the flying-jib halyards.” In a moment he heard the report, “Ready, sir.”—“Let go the halyards, and clew down; let go the sheets, and clew up; that 'll do; belay all; now jump up and furl them; be lively, lads."

5. While this was going on, the captain took another look at the barometer, and found the mercury still going down fast. Thoroughly aroused now, he caught his speaking-trumpet from the beckets, and cried out, "Hold on, there. Down from aloft, every man of you. Call all hands.” Down came the men again. “All hands ahoy!" was called with great strength of voice at both the cabin and forecastle gangways, and then followed one of those scenes which defies such de.

out,

* Indicating eleven o'clock at night. The time at sea is marked every half hour by strokes on a bell. At noon eight strokes are made, at half past twelve one stroke, and so on, one being added every half hour, till, at four o'clock, eight bells are again struck. Then, at half past four, one stroke is made, and so on till at eight o'clook, when eight strokes are again made, and the first night watch begins.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

scription as would make it intelligible to a landsman, but which any sailor readily understands.

6. The top-sails were close-reefed, a reef taken in the mainsail, the jib, and flying-jib, and all the light sails were furled, and the ship made ready for the expected gale. But yet no breath of air had been felt moving. An unnatural stillness and heaviness of the atmosphere were observed by all. Several of the seamen saw a dim purple streak suddenly appear right ahead of the ship, and called out, “ Here it comes, sir." -“Where?” cried the captain.—“Right ahead, sir.” “Hard a-port your helm.” ——“Hard a-port it is, sir." “ Brace round the yards.”—“Ay, ay, sir."

7. The yards were braced round, and the ship was got ready to receive the expected blast on the larboard tack. That dreadful streak of cloud grew almost crimson; and there was heard what seemed the heavy roar of the coming gale, and every man held his breath, awaiting the shock. Good men and courageous sailors were on that ship's deck, but they shrank, like frightened children, from the terrible onslaught. When God speaks in those fearful storms, His voice is awful to the ear, and many a strong man has quailed before it. And the storm itself is scarcely more trying to one's nerves than the dreadful suspense of the moment before it strikes.

8. Thus they waited till the minutes lengthened into hours, and the only change perceptible was in the deepening color of that lowering cloud of crimson light. At length eight bells told that four o'clock had arrived, and daylight was looked for even as those men in the ship with Paul looked for it when they “wished for day.” But the struggling light of morning seemed only to reveal the thickness of the darkness to the wondering vision. Just at daylight the ears of all on board were stunned with successive, quick reports,

louder than whole broad-sides from a hundred-gun ship; and the heavens were lighted up with a fiery red light.

9. The ocean at the same time was stirred from her profoundest depths; great waves, without any visible cause, ran in the most awful commotion, now striking together and throwing the white foam and spray high in air, then parting, to meet again in fearful embrace as before. A shoal of sperm whales ran athwart the ship's bows, making every exertion to escape from the strangely-troubled water. Within a few cable lengths of the ship an immense column of water was thrown mast-head high, and fell back again with a roar like Niagara. A deep, mournful noise, like the echo of thunder among mountain caverns, was constantly heard, and none could tell whence it came. The noble ship was tossed and shaken like a plaything. “Heaven have mercy upon us !” cried officers and

“ What is this? What is coming next? Is it the day of judgment ?” The royal Psalmist described them accurately: “They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wit's end."

10. Soon the mystery was solved, when right before their eyes, about one league from them, there arose the rough sides of a mountain out of the yielding water, and reared its head high in the air! Then, from its summit, flames burst forth, and melted lava ran like a river down the declivity, and fell like a cascade of flame into the seething ocean. It was a birth-throo of nature, and an island was born which was miles in circumference.

11. Two years afterward I sailed over that very place, but the placid water gave no intimation that an island had been there. Yet no man has said that he saw the death and burial of that land whose birth I have thus chronicled! “They that go down to the

men.

« ZurückWeiter »