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and lives are often entrusted to a weak vessel, instead of one which, though twice as old, is in twice as good condition. The best way is to get a friend who knows something of the matter, to make inquiries; and the sea-worthiness of the captain himself, his standing with his employers, &c. might as well be added to the list.
13. The ALPS! It was the first time I had seen mountains. They had a fine sulky look, up aloft in the sky,—cold, lofty, and distant. I used to think that mountains would impress me but little ; that by the same process of imagination reversed, by which a brook can be fancied a mighty river, with forests instead of verdure on its banks, a mountain could be made a mole-hill, over which we step. But one look convinced me to the contrary. I found I could elevate, better than I could pull down, and I was glad of it. It was not that the sight of the Alps was necessary to convince me of “ the being of a God” as it is said to have done Mr. Moore, or to put me upon any reflections respecting infinity and first causes, of which I have had enough in my time; but I seemed to meet for the first time a grand poetical thought in a material shape,—to see a piece of one's book-wonders realized,-something very earthly, yet standing between earth and heaven, like a piece of the antediluvian world looking out of the coldness of
I remember reading in a Review a passage from some book of travels, which spoke of the author's standing on the sea-shore, and being led by the silence, and the abstraction, and the novel grandeur of the objects around him, to think of the earth, not in its geographical divisions, but as a planet in connexion with other planets, and rolling in the immensity of space. With these thoughts I have been familiar, as I suppose every one has been who knows what solitude is, and has an imagination, and perhaps not the best health. But we grow used to the mightiest aspects of thought, as we do to the immortal visages of the moon and stars : and therefore the first sight of the Alps, though much less things than any of these, and a toy, as I thought, for imagination to recreate itself with after their company, startles us like the disproof of a doubt, or the verification of an early dream,—a ghost, as it were, made visible by daylight, and giving us an enormous sense of its presence and materiality.
In the course of the day, we saw the tableland about Monaco. It brought to my mind the ludicrous distress of the petty prince of that place, when on his return from interchanging congratulations with his new masters —the legitimates, he suddenly met his old master, Napoleon, on his return from Elba. Or did he meet him when going to Elba ? I forget which ; but the distresses and confusion of the Prince were at all events as certain, as the superiority and amusement of the great man. In either case, this was the natural division of things, and the circumstances would have been the same. A large grampus went by, heaping the water into clouds of foam. Another time, we saw a shark with his fin above water, which, I believe, is his constant way of going. The Alps were now fully and closely seen, and a glorious sunset took place. There was the greatest grandeur and the loveliest beauty. Among others was a small string of clouds, like rubies with facets, a very dark tinge being put here and there, as if by a painter, to set off the rest. Red is certainly the colour of beauty, and ruby the most beautiful of reds. It was in no commonplace spirit that Marlow, in his list of precious stones, called them “ beauteous rubies,” but with exquisite gusto :
“Bags of fiery opals, sapphires, amethysts,
Jacinths, hard topas, grass-green emeralds,
They come upon you, among the rest, like the women of gems. All these colours we had about us in our Mediterranean sunsets; and as if fortune would add to them by a freak of fancy, a little shoal of fish, sparkling as silver, leaped out of the water this afternoon, like a sprinkle of shillings. They were the anchovies, or Sardinias, that we eat. They give a burlesque title to the sovereign of these seas, whom the Tuscans call “ King of the Sardinias.”
We were now sailing up the angle of the Gulf of Genoa, its shore looking as Italian as possible, with groves and white villages. The names too were alluring, -Oneglia, Albenga, Savona ; the last, the birthplace of a sprightly poet, (Frugoni,) whose works I was acquainted with. The breeze was the strongest we had had yet, and not quite fair, but we made good head against it; the queen-like city of Genoa, crowned with white palaces, sat at the end of the Gulf, as if to receive us in state ; and at two o'clock, the waters being as blue as the sky, and all hearts rejoicing, we entered our Italian harbour, and heard Italian words. Luckily for us, these first words were Tus
A pilot-boat came out. Somebody asked a question which we did not hear, and the captain replied to it. “ VA BENE,” said the pilot in a fine open voice, and turned the head of the boat with a tranquil dignity. “ Va bene,” thought I, indeed. “ All goes well” truly. The words are delicious, and the omen good. My family have arrived so far in safety; we have but a little more voyage to make, a few steps to measure back in this calm Mediterranean; the weather is glorious ; Italy