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DON JUAN 1819
The ship, call'd the most holy " Trinidada,"
For there the Spanish family Moncada
They were relations, and for them he had a
Of his departure had been sent him by
His Spanish friends for those in Italy.
His suite consisted of three servants and
A tutor, the licentiate Pedrillo,
But now lay sick and speechless on his pillow, And, rocking in his hammock, long'd for land,
His headache being increased by every billow; And the waves oozing through the porthole made His berth a little damp, and him afraid.
'Twas not without some reason, for the wind
And though 'twas not much to a naval mind,
At one o'clock the wind with sudden shift Threw the ship right into the trough of the sea,
Which struck her aft, and made an awkward rift,
Whole of her stern frame, and, ere she could lift
The rudder tore away: 'twas time to sound
The pumps, and there were four feet water found.
One gang of people instantly was put
Upon the pumps, and the remainder set To get up part of the cargo, and what not;
But they could not come at the leak as yet. At last they did get at it really, but
Still their salvation was an even bet; The water rush'd through in a way quite puzzling, While they thrust sheets, shirts, jackets, bales of muslin,
Into the opening; but all such ingredients
Would have been vain, and they must have gone down, Despite of all their efforts and expedients,
But for the pumps: I'm glad to make them known
For fifty tons of water were upthrown
As day advanced the weather seem'd to abate,
And keep the ship afloat, though three feet yet
The wind blew fresh again: as it grew late A squall came on, and while some guns broke loose,
A gust—which all descriptive power transcends—
Laid with one blast the ship on her beam-ends.
There she lay, motionless, and seem'd upset;
The water left the hold, and wash'd the decks, And made a scene men do not soon forget;
For they remember battles, fires, and wrecks, Or any other thing that brings regret,
Or breaks their hopes, or hearts, or heads, or necks: Thus drownings are much talk'd of by the divers, And swimmers, who may chance to be survivors.
Immediately the masts were cut away, Both main and mizzen: first the mizzen went,
The main-mast follow'd; but the ship still lay
Foremast and bowsprit were cut down, and they
To part with all till every hope was blighted),
And then with violence the old ship righted.
It may be easily supposed, while this
That passengers would find it much amiss
That even the able seaman, deeming his
Days nearly o'er, might be disposed to riot,
There's nought, no doubt, so much the spirit calms,
As rum and true religion: thus it was, Some plunder'd, some drank spirits, some sung psalms;
The high wind made the treble, and as bass The hoarse, harsh waves kept time; fright cured the qualms
Of all the luckless landsmen's sea-sick maws: Strange sounds of wailing, blasphemy, devotion, Clamour'd in chorus to the roaring ocean.
Perhaps more mischief had been done, but for
Got to the spirit-room, and stood before
As if Death were more dreadful by his door
Kept still aloof the crew, who, ere they sunk,
Thought it would be becoming to die drunk.
"Give us more grog !" they cried, "for it will be
'Tis true that death awaits both you and me,
Like brutes ";—and thus his dangerous post kept he,
And even Pedrillo, his most reverend tutor,
Was for some rum a disappointed suitor.
The good old gentleman was quite aghast,
Repented all his sins, and made a last
Nothing should tempt him more (this peril past)
In cloisters of the classic Salamanca,
To follow Juan's wake, like Sancho Panca.
But now there came a flash of hope once more;
Day broke, and the wind lull'd: the masts were gone, The leak increased; shoals round her, but no shore,
The vessel swam, yet still she held her own. They tried the pumps again, and though before
Their desperate efforts seem'd all useless grown, A glimpse of sunshine set some hands to bale— The stronger pump'd, the weaker thrumm'd a sail.
Under the vessel's keel the sail was past,
And for the moment it had some effect; But with a leak, and not a stick of mast,
Nor rag of canvas, what could they expect?
'Tis never too late to be wholly wreck'd:
There winds and waves had hurl'd them, and from thence,
Without their will, they carried them away: For they were forced with steering to dispense, And never had as yet a quiet day