Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

of ornament, or, as the more usual phrase is, of dressing, to recommend it. Now all dressing requires time; and therefore, though, perhaps, the sheep might be just killed before you came to the inn, yet in cutting him up, fetching the joint, which the landlord by mistake said he had in the house, from the butcher at two miles distance, and afterwards warming it a little by the fire, two hours at least must be consumed, while hunger, for want of better food, preys all the time on the vitals of the man.

How different was the case with us! we carried our provision, our kitchen, and our cook with us, and we were at one and the same time travelling on our road, and sitting down to a repast of fish, with which the greatest table in London can scarce at any rate be supplied.

Friday. As we were disappointed of our wind, and obliged to return back the preceding evening, we resolved to extract all the good we could out of our misfortune, and to add considerably to our fresh stores of meat and bread, with which we were very indifferently provided when we hurried away yesterday. By the captain's advice we likewise laid in some stores of butter, which we salted and potted ourselves, for our use at Lisbon, and we had great reason afterwards to thank him for his advice.

In the afternoon, I persuaded my wife, whom it was no easy matter for me to force from my side, to take a walk on shore, whither the gallant captain declared he was ready to attend her. Accordingly, the ladies set out, and left me to enjoy a sweet and comfortable nap after the operation of the preceding day.

Thus we enjoyed our separate pleasures full three hours, when we met again ; my wife gave the foregoing account of the gentleman, whom I have before compared to Axylus, and of his habitation, to both which she had been introduced by the cap

and my

tain, in the style of an old friend and acquaintance, though this foundation of intimacy seemed to her to be no deeper laid than in an accidental dinner, eaten many years before, at this temple of hospitality, when the captain lay wind-bound in the same bay.

Saturday. Early this morning the wind seemed inclined to change in our favour. Our alert, captain snatched its very first motion, and got under sail with so very gentle a breeze, that as the tide was against him, he recommended to a fishing hoy to bring after him a vast salmon and some other provisions which lay ready for him on shore.

Our anchor was up at six, and before nine in the morning we had doubled the Berry-head, and were arrived off Dartmouth, having gone full three miles in as many hours, in direct opposition to the tide, which only befriended us out of our harbour; and though the wind was, perhaps, our friend, it was so very silent, and exerted itself so little in our favour, that, like some cool partisans, it was difficult to say whether it was with us or against us. The captain, however, declared the former to be the case, during the whole three hours; but at last he perceived his error ; or rather, perhaps, this friend, which had hitherto wavered in choosing his side, became now more determined. The captain then suddenly tacked about, and asserting that he was bewitched, submitted to return to the place from whence he came. Now, though I am as free from superstition as any man breathing, and never did believe in witches, notwithstanding all the excellent arguments of iny lord chief justice Hale in their favour, and long before they were put down by act of parliament, yet by what power a ship of burthen should sail three miles against both wind and tide, I cannot conceive ; unless there was some supernatural interposition in the case ; nay, could we admit that the wind stood neuter, the difficulty would still remain. So that we musť of necessity Conclude, that the ship was either bewinded or bės witched.

· The captain, perhaps, had another meaning. He imagined himself, I believe, bewitched, because the wind, instead of persevering in its change in his favour, for change it certainly did that morning, should suddenly return to its favourite station, and blow him back towards the Bay. But if this was his opinion, he soon saw cause to altër ; for he had not measured half the way back, when the wind again declared in his favour, and so loudly, that there was no possibility of being mistaken.

The orders for the second tack was given, and obeyed with much more alacrity, than those had been for the first. We were all of us indeed in high spirits on the occasion ; though some of us a little regretted the good things we were likely to leave behind us by the fisherman's neglect; I might give it a worse name, for he faithfully promised to execute the commission, which he had had abundant opportunity to do ; but Neutica fides deserves as much to be proverbial, as ever Punica fides could formerly have done. Nay, when we consider that the Carthaginians came from the Phenicians, who are supposed to have produced the first mariners, we may probably see the true reason of the adage, and it may open a field of very cusious discoveries to the antiquary.

We were, however, too eager to pursue our voyage, to suffer any thing we left behind us to interrupt our happiness, which, indeed, many agreeable circunistances conspired to advance. The weather was inexpressibly pleasant, and we were all seated on the deck, when our canvas began to swell with the wind. We had likewise in our view above thirty other sail around us, all in the same situation. Here an observation occurred to me, which, perhaps, though extremely obvious, cid

[ocr errors]

not offer itself to every individual in our little fleet : when I perceived with what different success we proceeded, under the influence of a superior power, which, while we lay almost idle ourselves, pushed us forward on our intended voyage, and compared this with the slow progress which we had made in the morning, of ourselves, and without any such assistance, I could not help reflecting how often the greatest abilities lie wind-bound as it were in life ; or if they venture out, and attempt to beat the seas, they struggle in vain against wind and tide, and if they have not sufficient prudence to put back, are most probably cast away on the rocks and quicksands, which are every day ready to devour them.

It was now our fortune to set out melioribus auia bus. The wind freshened so briskly in our poop, that the shore appeared to move from us, as fast as we did from the shore. The captain declared he was sure of a wind, meaning its continuance ; but he had disappointed us so often, that he had lost all credit. However, he kept his word a little better now, and we lost sight of our native land, as joyfully, at least, as it is usual to regain it.

Sunday. The next morning, the captain told me he thought himself thirty miles to the westward of Plymouth, and before evening declared that the Lizard Point, which is the extremity of Cornwall, bore several leagues to leeward, Nothing remarkable passed this day, except the captain's devotion, who, in his own phrase, suinmoned all hands to pragers, which were read by a common sailor upon deck, with more devout force and address, than they are commonly read by a country curate, and received with more decency and attention by the sailors, than are usually preserved in city congregations. I am indeed assured, that if any: such affected disregard of the solemn office in which they were engaged, as I have seen practised by fine gentkm:n and ladies, expressing a kind of appre

hension lest they should be suspected of being really in earnest in their devotion, had been shewn here, they would have contracted the contempt of the whole audience. To say the truth, from what I observed in the behaviour of the sailors in this voyage, and on comparing it with what I have formerly seen of them at sea and on shore, I am convinced that on land there is nothing more idle and dissolute; in their own element, there are no persons near the level of their degree, who live in the constant practice of half so many good qualities. They are, for much the greater part, perfect 'masters of their business, and always extremely alert, and ready in executing it, without any regard to fatigue or hazard. The soldiers themselves are not better disciplined, nor more obedient to orders than these whilst aboard ; they submit to every difficulty which attends their calling with cheerfulness, and no less virtues than patience and fortitude are exercised by them every day of their lives.

All these good qualities, however, they always leave behind them on shipboard ; the sailor out of water is, indeed, as wretched an animal as the fish out of water ; for though the former hath, in com mon with amphibious animals the bare power of existing on the land, yet if he be kept there any time, he never fails to become a nuisance.

The ship having had a good deal of motion since she was last under sail, our women returned to their sickness, and I to my solitude; having, for twenty-four hours together, scarce opened my lips to a single person. This circumstance of being shut up within the circumference of a few yards, with a score of human creatures, with not one of whom it was possible to converse, was perhaps -so rare, as scarce ever to have happened before, nor could it ever happen to one who disliked it more than myself, or to myself at a season when I wanted more food for my social disposition, or could cor

« НазадПродовжити »