« НазадПродовжити »
verse less wholesomely and happily with my own thoughts. To this accident, which fortune opened to me in the Downs, was owing the first serious thought which I ever entertained of enrolling myself among the voyage-writers; some of the most amusing pages, if, indeed, there be any which deserve that name, were possibly the production of the most disagreeable hours which ever haunted the author.
Monday. At noon the captain took an observation, by which it appeared that Ushant bore some leagues northward of us, and that we were just entering the bay of Biscay. We had advanced a very few miles in this bay before we were entirely becalmed ; we furled our sails, as being of no use to us, while we lay in this most disagreeable situation, more detested by the sailors than the most violent tempest; we were alarmed with the loss of a fine piece of salt beef, which had been hung in the sea to freshen it; this being, it seems, the strange property of salt-water. The thief was immediately suspected, and presently afterwards taken by the sailors. He was, indeed, no other than a huge shark, who, not knowing when he was well off, swallowed another piece of beef, together with a great iron crook on which it was hung, and by which he was dragged into the ship. I should
scarce have mentioned the catching this shark, though so exactly conformable to the rules and practice of voyage-writing, had it not been for a strange circumstance that attended it. This was the recovery of the stolen beef out of the shark's maw, where it lay unchewed and undigested, and whence, being conveyed into the pot, the flesh, and the thief that had stolen it, joined together in furnishing variety to the ship's crew.
During this calm we likewise found the mast of a large vessel, which the captain thought had lain at least three years in the sea. , It was stucķ all
over with a little shell-fish or reptile called a barnacle, and which probably are the prey of the rockfish, as our captain calls it, asserting, that it is the finest fish in the world ; for which we are obliged to confide entirely to his taste ; for, though he struck the fish with a kind of harping-iron, and wounded him, I am convinced, to death, yet he could not possess himself of his body; but the poor wretch escaped to linger out a few hours, with probably great torments.
In the evening our wind returned, and so briskly, that we ran upwards of twenty leagues before the next day's [Tuesday's] observation, which brought us to Lat. 47° 42'. The captain promised us a very speedy passage through the bay; but he deceived us, or the wind deceived him, for it so slackened at sun-set, that it scarce carried us a mile in an hour during the whole succeeding night.
Wednesday. A gale struck up a little after sunrising, which carried us between three and four knots or miles an hour. We were this day at noon about the middle of the bay of Biscay, when the wind once more deserted us, and we were so entirely becalmed, that we did not advance a mile in many hours. My fresh-water reader will perhaps conceive no unpleasant idea from this calm ; but it affected us much more than a storm could have done ; for as the irascible passions of men are apt to swell with indignation long after the injury, which first raised them is over, so fared it with the sea. It rose mountains high, and lifted our poor ship up and down, backwards and forwards, with so violent an emotion, that there was scarce a man in the ship better able to stand than myself. Every utensil in our cabin rolled up and down, as we should have rolled ourselves, had not our chairs been fast lashed to the floor. In this situation, with our tabcs likewise fastened by ropes, the captain and Kojscił took our nieal with some difficulty, and swallowed a little of our broth, for we spilt much the greater part. The remainder of our dinner being an old, lean, tame duck roasted, I regretted but little the loss of, my teeth not being good enough to have chewed it.
Our women, who began to creep out of their holes in the morning, retired again within the cabin to their beds, and were no more heard of this day, in which my whole comfort was to find, by the captain's relation, that the swelling was sometimes much worse ; he did, indeed, take this occasion to be more communicative than ever, and infor ned me of such misadventures that had befallen him within forty-six years at sea, as might frighten a very bold spirit from undertaking even the shortest voyage.
Were these, indeed, but universally known, our matrons of quality would possibly be deterred from venturing their tender offspring at sea ; by which means our navy would lose the honour of many a young commodore, who at twentytwo is better versed in maritime affairs than real seamen are made by experience at sixty.
And this may, perhaps, appear the more extraordinary, as the education of both seems to be pretty much the same ; neither of them having had their courage tried by Virgil's description of a storm, in which, inspired as he was, I doubt whether our captain doth not exceed him.
In the evening the wind, which continued in the N. W. again freshened, and that so briskly, that Cape Finisterre appeared by this day's observation to bear a few miles to the southward. We now indeed sailed, or rather flew, near ten knots an hour, and the captain, in the redundancy of his good-humour, declared he would go to church at Lisbon on Sunday next, for that he was sure of a wind ; and, indeed, we all firmly believed him. But the event again contradicted himn; for we were again visited by a calm in the evening.
But here, though our voyage was retarded, we were entertained with a scene, which as no one can behold without going to sea, so no one can form an idea of any thing equal to it on shore. We were seated on the deck, women and all, in the serenest evening that can be imagined. Not a single cloud presented itself to our view, and the sun himself was the only object which engrossed our whole attention. He did indeed set with a majesty which is incapable of description, with which, while the horizon was yet blazing with glory, our eyes were called off to the opposite part to survey the moon, which was then at full, and which in rising presented us with the second object that this world hath offered to our vision. Compared to these the pageantry of theatres, or splendor of courts, are sights almost below the regard of chil. dren.
We did not return from the deck till late in the evening; the weather being inexpressibly pleasant, and so warm, that even my old
distemper perceived the alteration of the climate. There was indeed a swell, but nothing comparable to what we had felt before, and it affected us on the deck much less than in the cabin.
Friday. The calm continued till sun-rising, when the wind likewise arose ; but unluckily for us, it came from a wrong quarter; it was S. S. E. which is that very wind which Juno would have solicited of Æolus, had Æneas been in our latitude bound for Lisbon.
The captain now put on his most melancholy aspect, and resumed his former opinion, that he was bewitched. He declared, with great solemnity, that this was worse and worse, for that a wind directly in his teeth was worse than no wind at all. Had we pursued the course which the wind persuaded us to take, we had gone directly for Newfoundland, if we had not fallen in with Ireland in
our way. Two ways remained to avoid this; one was to put into a port of Galicia ; the other, to beat to the westward with as little sail as possible ; and this was our captain's election.
As for us, poor passengers, any port would have been welcome to us ; especially, as not only our fresh provisions, except a great number of old ducks and fowls, but even our bread, was come to an end, and nothing but sea biscuit remained, which I could not chew. So that now, for the first time in my life, I saw what it was to want a bit of bread.
The wind, however, was not so unkind as we had apprehended; but having declined with the sun, it changed at the approach of the moon, and became again favourable to us; though so gentle that the next day's observation carried us very little to the southward of Cape Finisterre.
This evening, at six, the wind, which had been very quiet all day, rose very high, and, continuing in our favour, drove us seven knots an hour.
This day we saw a sail, the only one, as I heard of, we had seen in our whole passage through the Bay. I mention this on account of what appeared to me somewhat extraordinary. Though she was at such a distance that I could only perceive she was a ship, the sailors discovered that she was a snow, bound to a port in Galicia.
Sunday. After prayers, which our good captain read on the deck, with an audible voice, and with but one mistake, of a lion for Elias, in the second lesson for this day, we found ourselves far advanced in 42°, and the captain declared we should sup off Porte. We had not much wind this day; but, as this was directly in our favour, we made it up with sail, of which we crowded all we had. We went only at the rate of four miles an hour, but with so uneasy a motion, continually rolling from side to