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points, and make myself acquainted with its trade and political economy.
I am well aware, that to perform this task with propriety requires talents very superior to any thing of which I can boast: but men who are every way qualified will not be found ready to undertake it. The field is not sufficiently productive of either fame or fortune; I look for neither in addressing you, and if I encroach upon the province of an abler pen, I trust I shall be forgiven. Information, in a rude dress, is better than none at all; and here, on the great Atlantic Ocean, I shall attempt to embody in phrase the fleeting thought. A smooth sea and fine weather enable me to commence our correspondence.
The weather hitherto has been pretty favourable, not however without some variety. Indeed, the wind has been sometimes extremely violent, at least what a landsman would call so: on these occasions, the proper place for us landlubbers is our cabin; we should turn in, as the sailors call it. You may, no doubt, go to bed, but you cannot say you go to rest, for you are incessantly rocked about in the most
unpleasant manner, from the rolling and pitching of the vessel. Besides, the abominably jarring discordant sounds with which one is constantly annoyed on board ship, are intolerable, particularly in the middle of the night, when all is dark around you, and sleep is wished for in vain. A heavy swell heaves and strains the ship; the waves dashing and roaring under the cabin-windows; the ropes and sails flapping and rattling overhead ; the timbers and bulkheads creaking, cracking, and growling; form altogether such a pretty kind of concert, as one might expect to find in the palace of Pandemonium.
A gale came on a few days ago: I could neither sit nor stand without great exertion; but curiosity kept me on deck. The waves ran tremendously high, and the ship seemed ready to be swallowed up. One moment you are elevated, and mount the briny swell; you are then sunk down, immersed in the deep, shut up, as it were, by the foaming surge, which seems to present on all sides an insuperable barrier.
A sudden squall laid the ship almost on her beam-ends; a head sea struck ber while 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 conld, 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 displacing 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 grows 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, 1 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, arid 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