Subscribe for ad free access & additional features for teachers. Authors: 267, Books: 3,607, Poems & Short Stories: 4,435, Forum Members: 71,154, Forum Posts: 1,238,602, Quizzes: 344

Chapter 1

FRANCE.

LETTER I.

Our Embarkation.—Leave-taking.—Our Abigail.—Bay of New York.
—The Hudson.—Ominous Prediction.—The Prophet falsified.—Enter the
Atlantic.—"Land-birds."—Our Master.—Officers of Packet-ships.
—Loss of "The Crisis."—The "Three Chimneys."—Calamities at Sea.
—Sailing-match.—View of the Eddystone.—The Don Quixote.
—Comparative Sailing.—Pilot-boats.—Coast of Dorsetshire.—The Needles.
—Lymington.—Southampton Water.—The Custom-house.

TO CAPTAIN SHUBRICK, U.S.N.

MY DEAR SHUBRICK,

"Passengers by the Liverpool, London and Havre packets are informed that a steam-boat will leave the White Hall Wharf precisely at eleven, A.M. to-morrow, June 1st." If to this notice be added the year 1826, you have the very hour and place of our embarkation. We were nominally of the London party, it being our intention, however, to land at Cowes, from which place we proposed crossing the Channel to Havre. The reason for making this variation from the direct route, was the superior comfort of the London ship; that of the French line for the 1st June, though a good vessel and well commanded, being actually the least commodious packet that plied between the two hemispheres.

We were punctual to the hour, and found one of the smaller steamers crowded with those who, like ourselves, were bound to the "old world," and the friends who had come to take the last look at them. We had our leave-takings, too, which are sufficiently painful when it is known that years must intervene before there is another meeting. As is always done by good Manhattanese, the town house had been given up on the 1st of May, since which time we had resided at an hotel. The furniture had been principally sold at auction, and the entire month had passed in what I believed to be very ample preparations. It may be questioned if there is any such thing as being completely prepared for so material a change; at all events, we found a dozen essentials neglected at the last moment, and as many oversights to be repaired in the same instant.

On quitting the hotel, some fifty or a hundred volumes and pamphlets lay on the floor of my bed-room. Luckily, you were to sail on a cruise in a day or two, and as you promised not only to give them a berth, but to read them one and all, they were transferred forthwith to the Lexington. They were a dear gift, if you kept your word! John was sent with a note, with orders to be at the wharf in half an hour. I have not seen him since. Then Abigail was to be discharged. We had long debated whether this excellent woman should, or should not, be taken. She was an American, and like most of her countrywomen who will consent to serve in a household, a most valuable domestic. She wished much to go, but, on the other side, was the conviction, that a woman who had never been at sea would be useless during the passage; and then we were told so many fine things of the European servants, that the odds were unfortunately against her. The principal objection, however, was her forms of speech. Foreign servants would of themselves be a great aid in acquiring the different languages; and poor Abigail, at the best, spoke that least desirable of all corruptions of the English tongue, the country dialect of New England. Her New England morals and New England sense; in this instance, were put in the balance against her "bens," "an-gels," "doozes," "nawthings," "noans," and even her "virtooes," (in a family of children, no immaterial considerations,) and the latter prevailed. We had occasion to regret this decision. A few years later I met in Florence an Italian family of high rank, which had brought with them from Philadelphia two female domestics, whom they prized above all the other servants of a large establishment. Italy was not good enough for them, however; and, after resisting a great deal of persuasion, they were sent back. What was Florence or Rome to Philadelphia! But then these people spoke good English—better, perhaps, than common English nursery-maids, the greatest of their abuses in orthoepy being merely to teach a child to call its mother a "mare."

It was a flat calm, and the packets were all dropping down the bay with the ebb. The day was lovely, and the view of the harbour, which has so many, while it wants so many, of the elements of first-rate scenery, was rarely finer. All estuaries are most beautiful viewed in the calm; but this is peculiarly true of the Bay of New York—neither the colour of the water, nor its depth, nor the height of the surrounding land, being favourable to the grander efforts of Nature. There is little that is sublime in either the Hudson, or its mouth; but there is the very extreme of landscape beauty.

Experience will teach every one, that without returning to scenes that have made early impressions, after long absences, and many occasions to examine similar objects elsewhere, our means of comparison are of no great value. My acquaintance with the Hudson has been long and very intimate; for to say that I have gone up and down its waters a hundred times, would be literally much within the truth. During that journey whose observations and events are about to fill these volumes, I retained a lively impression of its scenery, and, on returning to the country, its current was ascended with a little apprehension that an eye which had got to be practised in the lights and shades of the Alps and Appenines might prove too fastidious for our own river. What is usually termed the grandeur of the highlands was certainly much impaired; but other parts of the scenery gained in proportion; and, on the whole, I found the passage between New York and Albany to be even finer than it had been painted by memory. I should think there can be little doubt that, if not positively the most beautiful river, the Hudson possesses some of the most beautiful river-scenery, of the known world.

Our ship was named after this noble stream. We got on board of her off Bedlow's, and dropped quietly down as far as the quarantine ground before we were met by the flood. Here we came to, to wait for a wind, more passengers, and that important personage, whom man-of-war's men term the master, and landsmen the captain. In the course of the afternoon we had all assembled, and began to reconnoitre each other, and to attend to our comforts.

To get accustomed to the smell of the ship, with its confined air, and especially to get all their little comforts about them in smooth water, is a good beginning for your novices. If to this be added moderation in food, and especially in drink; as much exercise as one can obtain; refraining from reading and writing until accustomed to one's situation, and paying great attention to the use of aperients; I believe all is said that an old traveller, and an old sailor too, can communicate on a subject so important to those who are unaccustomed to the sea. Can your experience suggest anything more?

We lay that night at the quarantine ground; but early on the morning of the 2nd, all hands were called to heave-up. The wind came in puffs over the heights of Staten, and there was every prospect of our being able to get to sea in two or three hours. We hove short, and sheeted home, and hoisted the three topsails; but the anchor hung, and the people were ordered to get their breakfasts, leaving the ship to tug at her ground-tackle with a view to loosen her hold of the bottom.

Everything was now in motion. The little Don Quixote, the Havre ship just mentioned, was laying through the narrows, with a fresh breeze from the south-west. The Liverpool ship was out of sight, and six or seven sails were turning down with the ebb, under every stitch of canvass that would draw. One fine vessel tacked directly on our quarter. As she passed quite near our stern, some one cried from her deck:—"A good run to you, Mr. ——." After thanking this well-wisher, I inquired his name. He gave me that of an Englishman, who resided in Cuba, whither he was bound. "How long do you mean to be absent?" "Five years." "You will never come back." With this raven-like prediction we parted; the wind sweeping his vessel beyond the reach of the voice.

These words, "You will never come back!" were literally the last that I heard on quitting my country. They were uttered in a prophetic tone, and under circumstances that were of a nature to produce an impression. I thought of them often, when standing on the western verge of Europe, and following the course of the sun toward the land in which I was born; I remembered them from the peaks of the Alps, when the subtle mind, outstripping the senses, would make its mysterious flight westward across seas and oceans, to recur to the past, and to conjecture the future; and when the allotted five years were up, and found us still wanderers, I really began to think, what probably every man thinks, in some moment of weakness, that this call from the passing ship was meant to prepare me for the future. The result proved in my case, however, as it has probably proved in those of most men, that Providence did not consider me of sufficient importance to give me audible information of what was about to happen. So strong was this impression to the last, notwithstanding, that on our return, when the vessel passed the spot where the evil-omened prediction was uttered, I caught myself muttering involuntarily, "—— is a false prophet; I have come back!"

We got our anchor as soon as the people were ready, and, the wind drawing fresh through the narrows, were not long turning into lower bay. The ship was deep, and had not a sufficient spread of canvass for a summer passage, but she was well commanded, and exceedingly comfortable.

The wind became light in the lower bay. The Liverpool ship had got to sea the evening before, and the Don Quixote was passing the Hook, just as we opened the mouth of the Raritan. A light English bark was making a fair wind of it, by laying out across the swash; and it now became questionable whether the ebb would last long enough to sweep us round the south-west spit, a détour that our heavier draught rendered necessary.

By paying great attention to the ship, however, the pilot, who was of the dilatory school, succeeded about 3 P.M. in getting us round that awkward but very necessary buoy, which makes so many foul winds of fair ones, when the ship's bead was laid to the eastward, with square yards. In half an hour the vessel had "slapped" past the low sandy spit of land that you have so often regarded with philosophical eyes, and we fairly entered the Atlantic, at a point where nothing but water lay between us and the Rock of Lisbon. We discharged the pilot on the bar.

By this time the wind had entirely left us, the flood was making strong, and there was a prospect of our being compelled to anchor. The bark was nearly hull-down in the offing, and the top-gallant-sails of the Don Quixote were just settling into the water. All this was very provoking, for there might be a good breeze to seaward, while we had it calm inshore. The suspense was short, for a fresh-looking line along the sea to the southward gave notice of the approach of wind; the yards were braced forward, and in half an hour we were standing east southerly, with strong headway. About sunset we passed the light vessel which then lay moored several leagues from land, in the open ocean,—an experiment that has since failed. The highlands of Navesink disappeared with the day.

The other passengers were driven below before evening. The first mate, a straight-forward Kennebunk man, gave me a wink, (he had detected my sea-education by a single expression, that of "send it an end," while mounting the side of the ship,) and said, "A clear quarter-deck! a good time to take a walk, sir." I had it all to myself, sure enough, for the first two or three days, after which our land-birds came crawling up, one by one; but long before the end of the passage nothing short of a double-reefed-topsail breeze could send the greater part of them below. There was one man, however, who, the mate affirmed wore the heel of a spare topmast smooth, by seating himself on it, as the precise spot where the motion of the ship excited the least nausea. I got into my berth at nine; but hearing a movement overhead about midnight, I turned out again, with a sense of uneasiness I had rarely before experienced at sea. The responsibility of a large family acted, in some measure, like the responsibility of command. The captain was at his post, shortening sail, for it blew fresher: there was some rain; and thunder and lightning were at work in the heavens in the direction of the adjacent continent: the air was full of wild, unnatural lucidity, as if the frequent flashes left a sort of twilight behind them; and objects were discernible at a distance of two or three leagues. We had been busy in the first watch, as the omens denoted easterly weather; the English bark was struggling along the troubled waters, already quite a league on our lee quarter.

I remained on deck half an hour, watching the movements of the master. He was a mild, reasoning Connecticut man, whose manner of ministering to the wants of the female passengers had given me already a good opinion of his kindness and forethought, while it left some doubts of his ability to manage the rude elements of drunkenness and insubordination which existed among the crew, quite one half of whom were Europeans. He was now on deck in a southwester,[1] giving his orders in a way effectually to shake all that was left of the "horrors" out of the ship's company. I went below, satisfied that we were in good hands; and before the end of the passage, I was at a loss to say whether Nature had most fitted this truly worthy man to be a ship-master or a child's nurse, for he really appeared to me to be equally skilful in both capacities.

[Footnote 1: Doric—south-wester.]

Such a temperament is admirably suited to the command of a packet—a station in which so many different dispositions, habits and prejudices are to be soothed, at the same time that a proper regard is to be had to the safety of their persons. If any proof is wanting that the characters of seamen in general have been formed under adverse circumstances, and without sufficient attention, or, indeed, any attention to their real interests, it is afforded in the fact, that the officers of the packet-ships, men usually trained like other mariners, so easily adapt their habits to their new situation, and become more mild, reflecting and humane. It is very rare to hear a complaint against an officer of one of these vessels; yet it is not easy to appreciate the embarrassments they have frequently to encounter from whimsical, irritable, ignorant, and exacting passengers. As a rule, the eastern men of this country make the best packet-officers. They are less accustomed to sail with foreigners than those who have been trained in the other ports, but acquire habits of thought and justice by commanding their countrymen; for, of all the seamen of the known world, I take it the most subordinate, the least troublesome, and the easiest to govern, so long as he is not oppressed is the native American. This, indeed, is true, both ashore and afloat, for very obvious reasons: they who are accustomed to reason themselves, being the most likely to submit to reasonable regulations; and they who are habituated to plenty, are the least likely to be injured by prosperity, which causes quite as much trouble in this world as adversity. It is this prosperity, too suddenly acquired, which spoils most of the labouring Europeans who emigrate; while they seldom acquire the real, frank independence of feeling which characterizes the natives. They adopt an insolent and rude manner as its substitute, mistaking the shadow for the substance. This opinion of the American seamen is precisely the converse of what is generally believed in Europe, however, and more particularly in England; for, following out the one-sided political theories in which they have been nurtured, disorganization, in the minds of the inhabitants of the old world, is inseparable from popular institutions.

The early part of the season of 1826 was remarkable for the quantities of ice that had drifted from the north into the track of European and American ships. The Crisis, a London packet, had been missing nearly three months when we sailed. She was known to have been full of passengers, and the worst fears were felt for her safety; ten years have since elapsed, and no vestige of this unhappy ship has ever been found!

Our master prudently decided that safety was of much more importance than speed, and he kept the Hudson well to the southward. Instead of crossing the banks, we were as low as 40°, when in their meridian; and although we had some of the usual signs, in distant piles of fog, and exceedingly chilly and disagreeable weather, for a day or two, we saw no ice. About the 15th, the wind got round to the southward and eastward, and we began to fall off, more than we wished even, to the northward.

All the charts for the last fifty years have three rocks laid down to the westward of Ireland, which are known as the "Three Chimneys." Most American mariners have little faith in their existence, and yet, I fancy, no seaman draws near the spot where they are said to be, without keeping a good look-out for the danger. The master of the Hudson once carried a lieutenant of the English navy, as a passenger, who assured him that he had actually seen these "Three Chimneys." He may have been mistaken, and he may not. Our course lay far to the southward of them; but the wind gradually hauled ahead, in such a way as to bring us as near as might be to the very spot where they ought to appear, if properly laid down. The look-outs of a merchant-ship are of no great value, except in serious cases, and I passed nearly a whole night on deck, quite as much incited by my precious charge, as by curiosity, in order to ascertain all that eyes could ascertain under the circumstances. No signs of these rocks, however, were seen from the Hudson.

It is surprising in the present state of commerce, and with the vast interests which are at stake, that any facts affecting the ordinary navigation between the two hemispheres should be left in doubt. There is a shoal, and I believe a reef, laid down near the tail of the great bank, whose existence is still uncertain. Seamen respect this danger more than that of the "Three Chimneys," for it lies very much in the track of ships between Liverpool and New York; still, while tacking, or giving it a berth, they do not know whether they are not losing a wind for a groundless apprehension! Our own government would do well to employ a light cruiser, or two, in ascertaining just these facts (many more might he added to the list), during the summer months. Our own brief naval history is pregnant with instances of the calamities that befall ships. No man can say when, or how, the Insurgente, the Pickering, the Wasp, the Epervier, the Lynx, and the Hornet disappeared. We know that they are gone; and of all the brave spirits they held, not one has been left to relate the histories of the different disasters. We have some plausible conjectures concerning the manner in which the two latter were wrecked; but an impenetrable mystery conceals the fate of the four others. They may have run on unknown reefs. These reefs may be constantly heaving up from the depths of the ocean, by subterranean efforts; for a marine rock is merely the summit of a submarine mountain.[2]

[Footnote 2: There is a touching incident connected with the fortunes of two young officers of the navy, that is not generally known. When the Essex frigate was captured in the Pacific, by the Phoebe and Cherub, two of the officers of the former were left in the ship, in order to make certain affidavits that were necessary to the condemnation. The remainder were paroled and returned to America. After a considerable interval, some uneasiness was felt at the protracted absence of those who had been left in the Essex. On inquiry it was found, that, after accompanying the ship to Rio Janeiro, they had been exchanged, according to agreement, and suffered to go where they pleased. After some delay, they took passage in a Swedish brig bound to Norway, as the only means which offered to get to Europe, whence they intended to return home. About this time great interest was also felt for the sloop Wasp. She had sailed for the mouth of the British Channel, where she fell in with and took the Reindeer, carrying her prisoners into France. Shortly after she had an action with and took the Avon, but was compelled to abandon her prize by others of the enemy's cruisers, one of which (the Castilian) actually came up with her and gave her a broad-side. About twenty days after the latter action she took a merchant-brig, near the Western Islands, and sent her into Philadelphia. This was the last that had been heard of her. Months and even years went by, and no farther intelligence was obtained. All this time, too, the gentlemen of the Essex were missing. Government ordered inquiries to be made in Sweden for the master of the brig in which they had embarked; he was absent on a long voyage, and a weary period elapsed before he could be found. When this did happen, he was required to give an account of his passengers. By producing his logbook and proper receipts, he proved that he had fallen in with the Wasp, near the line, about a fortnight after she had taken the merchant-brig named, when the young officers in question availed themselves of the occasion to return to their flag. Since that time, a period of twenty-one years, the Wasp has not been heard of.]

We were eighteen days out, when, early one morning, we made an American ship, on our weather quarter. Both vessels had everything set that would draw, and were going about five knots, close on the wind. The stranger made a signal to speak us, and, on the Hudson's main-topsail being laid to the mast, he came down under our stern, and ranged up alongside to leeward. He proved to be a ship called the "London Packet," from Charlestown, bound to Havre, and his chronometer having stopped, he wanted to get the longitude.

When we had given him our meridian, a trial of sailing commenced, which continued without intermission for three entire days. During this time, we had the wind from all quarters, and of every degree of force, from the lightest air to a double-reefed-topsail breeze. We were never a mile separated, and frequently we were for hours within a cable's length of each other. One night the two ships nearly got foul, in a very light air. The result showed, that they sailed as nearly alike, one being deep and the other light, as might well happen to two vessels. On the third day, both ships being under reefed topsails, with the wind at east, and in thick weather, after holding her own with us for two watches, the London Packet edged a little off the wind, while the Hudson still hugged it, and we soon lost sight of our consort in the mist.

We were ten days longer struggling with adverse winds. During this time the ship made all possible traverses, our vigilant master resorting to every expedient of an experienced seaman to get to the eastward. We were driven up as high as fifty-four, where we fell into the track of the St. Lawrence traders. The sea seemed covered with them, and I believe we made more than a hundred, most of which were brigs. All these we passed without difficulty. At length a stiff breeze came from the south-west, and we laid our course for the mouth of the British Channel under studding-sails.

On the 28th we got bottom in about sixty fathoms water. The 29th was thick weather, with a very light, but a fair wind; we were now quite sensibly within the influence of the tides. Towards evening the horizon brightened a little, and we made the Bill of Portland, resembling a faint bluish cloud. It was soon obscured, and most of the landsmen were incredulous about its having been seen at all. In the course of the night, however, we got a good view of the Eddystone.

Going on deck early on the morning of the 30th, a glorious view presented itself. The day was fine, clear, and exhilarating, and the wind was blowing fresh from the westward Ninety-seven sail, which had come into the Channel, like ourselves, during the thick weather, were in plain sight. The majority were English, but we recognized the build of half the maritime nations of Christendom in the brilliant fleet. Everybody was busy, and the blue waters were glittering with canvass. A frigate was in the midst of us, walking through the crowd like a giant stepping among pigmies. Our own good vessel left everything behind her also, with the exception of two or three other bright-sided ships, which happened to be as fast as herself.

I found the master busy with the glass; and, as soon as he caught my eye, he made a sign for me to come forward. "Look at that ship directly ahead of us!" The vessel alluded to led the fleet, being nearly hull-down to the eastward. It was the Don Quixote, which had left the port of New York one month before, about the same distance in our advance. "Now look here, inshore of us," added the master: "it is an American; but I cannot make her out." "Look again: she has a new cloth in her main-top-gallant sail." This was true enough, and by that sign, the vessel was our late competitor, the London Packet!

As respects the Don Quixote, we had made a journey of some five thousand miles, and not varied our distance, on arriving, a league. There was probably some accident in this; for the Don Quixote had the reputation of a fast ship, while the Hudson was merely a pretty fair sailer. We had probably got the best of the winds. But a hard and close trial of three days had shown that neither the Hudson nor the London Packet, in their present trims, could go ahead of the other in any wind. And yet here, after a separation of ten days, during which time our ship had tacked and wore fifty times, had calms, foul winds and fair, and had run fully a thousand miles, there was not a league's difference between the two vessels!

I have related these circumstances, because I think they are connected with causes that have a great influence on the success of American navigation. On passing several of the British ships to-day, I observed that their officers were below, or at least out of sight; and in one instance, a vessel of a very fair mould, and with every appearance of a good sailer, actually lay with some of her light sails aback, long enough to permit us to come up with and pass her. The Hudson probably went with this wind some fifteen or twenty miles farther than this loiterer; while I much question if she could have gone as far, had the latter been well attended to. The secret is to be found in the fact, that so large a portion of American ship-masters are also ship-owners, as to have erected a standard of activity and vigilance, below which few are permitted to fall. These men work for themselves, and, like all their countrymen, are looking out for something more than a mere support.

About noon we got a Cowes pilot. He brought no news, but told us the English vessel I have just named was sixty days from Leghorn, and that she had been once a privateer. We were just thirty from New York.

We had distant glimpses of the land all day, and several of the passengers determined to make their way to the shore in the pilot-boat. These Channel craft are sloops of about thirty or forty tons, and are rather picturesque and pretty boats, more especially when under low sail. They are usually fitted to take passengers, frequently earning more in this way than by their pilotage. They have the long sliding bowsprit, a short lower mast, very long cross-trees, with a taunt topmast, and, though not so "wicked" to the eye, I think them prettier objects at sea than our own schooners. The party from the Hudson had scarcely got on board their new vessel when it fell calm, and the master and myself paid them a visit. They looked like a set of smugglers waiting for the darkness to run in. On our return we rowed round the ship. One cannot approach a vessel at sea, in this manner, without being struck with the boldness of the experiment which launched such massive and complicated fabrics on the ocean. The pure water is a medium almost as transparent as the atmosphere, and the very keel is seen, usually so near the surface, in consequence of refraction, as to give us but a very indifferent opinion of the security of the whole machine. I do not remember ever looking at my own vessel, when at sea, from a boat, without wondering at my own folly in seeking such a home.

In the afternoon the breeze sprang up again, and we soon lost sight of our friends, who were hauling in for the still distant land. All that afternoon and night we had a fresh and a favourable wind. The next day I went on deck, while the people were washing the ship. It was Sunday, and there was a flat calm. The entire scene admirably suited a day of rest. The Channel was like a mirror, unruffled by a breath of air, and some twenty or thirty vessels lay scattered about the view, with their sails festooned and drooping, thrown into as many picturesque positions by the eddying waters. Our own ship had got close in with the land; so near, indeed, as to render a horse or a man on the shore distinctly visible. We were on the coast of Dorsetshire. A range of low cliffs lay directly abeam of us, and, as the land rose to a ridge behind them, we had a distinct view of a fair expanse of nearly houseless fields. We had left America verdant and smiling, but we found England brown and parched, there having been a long continuance of dry easterly winds.

The cliffs terminated suddenly, a little way ahead of the ship, and the land retired inward, with a wide sweep, forming a large, though not a very deep bay, that was bounded by rather low shores. It was under these very cliffs, on which we were looking with so much pleasure and security, and at so short a distance, that the well-known and terrible wreck of an Indiaman occurred, when the master, with his two daughters, and hundreds of other lives, were lost. The pilot pointed out the precise spot where that ill-fated vessel went to pieces. But the sea in its anger, and the sea at rest, are very different powers. The place had no terrors for us.

Ahead of us, near twenty miles distant, lay a high hazy bluff, that was just visible. This was the western extremity of the Isle of Wight, and the end of our passage in the Hudson. A sloop of war was pointing her head in towards this bluff, and all the vessels in sight now began to take new forms, varying and increasing the picturesque character of the view. We soon got a light air ourselves, and succeeded in laying the ship's head off shore, towards which we had been gradually drifting nearer than was desirable. The wind came fresh and fair about ten, when we directed our course towards the distant bluff. Everything was again in motion. The cliffs behind us gradually sunk, as those before us rose, and lost their indistinctness; the blue of the latter soon became grey, and, ere long, white as chalk, this being the material of which they are, in truth, composed.

We saw a small whale (it might have been a large grampus) floundering ahead of us, and acting as an extra pilot, for he appeared to be steering, like ourselves, for the Needles. These Needles are fragments of the chalk cliffs, that have been pointed and rendered picturesque by the action of the weather, and our course lay directly past them. They form a line from the extremity of the Isle of Wight, and are awkwardly placed for vessels that come this way in thick weather, or in the dark. The sloop of war got round them first, and we were not far behind her. When fairly within the Needles the ship was embayed, our course now lying between Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, through a channel of no great width. The country was not particularly beautiful, and still looked parched; though we got a distant view of one pretty town, Lymington, in Hampshire. This place, in the distance, appeared not unlike a large New England village, though there was less glare to the houses. The cliffs, however, were very fine, without being of any extraordinary elevation. Though much inferior to the shores of the Mediterranean, they as much surpass anything I remember to have seen on our own coast, between Cape Anne and Cape Florida; which, for its extent, a part of India, perhaps, excepted, is, I take it, just the flattest, and tamest, and least interesting coast in the entire world.

The master pointed out a mass of dark herbage on a distant height, which resembled a copse of wood that had been studiously clipped into square forms at its different angles. It was visible only for a few moments, through a vista in the hills. This was Carisbrooke Castle, buried in ivy.

There was another little castle, on a low point of land, which was erected by Henry VIII. as a part of a system of marine defence. It would scarcely serve to scale the guns of a modern twenty-four-pounder frigate, judging of its means of resistance and annoyance by the eye. These things are by-gones for England, a country that has little need of marine batteries.

About three, we reached a broad basin, the land retiring on each side of us. The estuary to the northward is called Southampton Water, the town of that name being seated on its margin. The opening in the Isle of Wight is little more than a very wide mouth to a very diminutive river or creek, and Cowes, divided into East and West, lines its shores. The anchorage in the arm of the sea off this little haven was well filled with vessels, chiefly the yachts of amateur seamen, and the port itself contained little more than pilot-boats and crafts of a smaller size. The Hudson brought up among the former. Hauling up the forecourse of a merchant-ship is like lifting the curtain again on the drama of the land. These vessels rarely furl this sail; and they who have not experienced it, cannot imagine what a change it produces on those who have lived a month or six weeks beneath its shadow. The sound of the chain running out was very grateful, and I believe, though well satisfied with the ship as such, that everybody was glad to get a nearer view of our great mother earth.

It was Sunday, but we were soon visited by boats from the town. Some came to carry us ashore, others to see that we carried nothing off with us. At first, the officer of the customs manifested a desire to make us all go without the smallest article of dress, or anything belonging to our most ordinary comforts; but he listened to remonstrances, and we were eventually allowed to depart with our night-bags. As the Hudson was to sail immediately for London, all our effects were sent within the hour to the custom-house. At 3 P.M. July 2nd, 1826, we put foot in Europe, after a passage of thirty-one days from the quarantine ground.

James Fenimore Cooper

Sorry, no summary available yet.