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gunwale under, and made a clear sweep fore and aft; to hold fast is, in this case,
, your only chance of safety. The ship at length righted, and we saw the seamen at' the
prow, emerging, as it were, from the wave, reeling from side to side, making fast every thing they could, and putting themselves in situations that a landsman shudders even to look at. The waves were running, what those who delight in hyperbolical description would call, mountains high. In fact, we were so deeply immersed sometimes, and the waves were rolling so high around us, that we could not see the top-gallant royals of a frigate that happened to be within a few hundred yards of us, , so that at any rate we must have had a very pretty specimen of a storm of the first magnitude.
By and by the gale ceases; your apprehensions of danger subside; and reflection on the past scene satisfies you that it is, in the nature of things, very improbable that a ship should sink. Her whole materials are buoyant; and her form is such, that while the water is prevented from dis
placing the air contained in her, she can no more sink than can a bladder filled with air, or an empty cask. Such reflections, and a conviction that your vessel is strong and good, prepare you for the next gale. Confidence
fast upon you, and you cease to be surprised that seamen, who know these things, and who have escaped so many storms, should become callous, in a great measure, to the dangers of the sea.
There is certainly something very sublime in a storm; the scene is awfully grand. Fear has generally been considered as a source of the sublime; and in the case of a storm, I cannot help thinking that it always exists. I cannot imagine, notwithstanding all I have heard seamen say, that they, or any one else, can, in a storm, be entirely divested of it. Whatever confidence they have in their vessel, they must know that they are liable to a variety of accidents, which will greatly increase their risk and danger.
The being accustomed to any particular danger lessens its operation on the mind; but the danger is not removed, nor is its
nature altered. A manufacturer of
gunpowder, for instance, works with as much unconcern as if he manufactured leather ; yet we see instances every year of powdermills being blown up, and every one near them destroyed. A brave fellow of a seaman, by being engaged in a number of boarding parties, without receiving the least injury, may go on such enterprises cheerfully, and with little or no fear; yet it does not follow that a man, scrambling up the side of a ship, full of people ready to defend themselves, does not run a great risk of having a pike put through his body, before he himself can act either offensively or defensively.
The mind does not willingly dwell on that which gives it pain. It accommodates itself to its condition; hence seamen, manufacturers of gun-powder, and all those engaged in hazardous occupations, soon cease to reflect on the dangers to which they are exposed.
We are now on the banks of Newfoundland, the region of codfish; and I am called on deck. The ship is hove to for the
purpose of fishing : fresh codi for dinner would be not a little acceptable; besides, I understand there is a good deal of amusement in cod-fishing; you shall know what success we have: en attendant, Adieu !
Off Cape Breton, May, 1806. LAND-A-HEAD! Land! Land! repeated half a dozen voices. Joyful tidings ! I had just fixed myself in a position to secure me against the rolling of the ship, a very necessary precaution at sea; I had a sheet of paper before me, for the
of saying something to you about the banks of Newfoundland and cod-fishing, when my ears were agreeably assailed with the joyful sound of Land-a-head! I am very fond of music; yet I can safely say, that the fine tones of a Catalani, which I have often heard with pleasure, or the modulation of a Braham, which is exquisite, are sounds vastly inferior in their power of pleasing to the shout of Land-a-head, after having been tossed and buffeted across the Atlantic Ocean.
Here we are, on the 20th May, in sight of Cape Breton. As we left Portsmouth on the 14th of April, our being now in sight