Obrázky stránek
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

I LOVE coincidence, when that coincidence is bright, and beautiful, and happy. And such it was to-night. The day had been almost a summer's day, although it is the 10th of January. And to-night the moon was full, and cloudless. I had walked from the Tremont House just before the hour for tea, to the bridge which connects Charlestown to Boston, that I might take a look at the FRIGATE CUMBERLAND, the good ship with which my own destiny is to be connected, for months to come.

Supposing that she had only hauled off from the Navy Yard, I presumed I might see her from this point. I reached it. As I leaned over the railing of the bridge, I gazed on the still-calm scene before me--for the very breath of the zephyr, at this moment, seemed to have lulled itself to repose.

The expanse of water was a mirror. The hills, and the amphitheatre of houses on the hills, were reflected back from the surface of the basin, which of itself, with its unrippled and reflecting surface, at this calm hour, was strikingly beautiful. But at this moment also, the full moon had raised her upper rim just above a long and dense

bank of clouds in the east, and was continuing to rise, until her beautiful and glorious disc, more golden than silver in its color to-night, sailed far above the dark bank, to its own pure element of blue. How beautiful to me, at this moment, was this emerging of this beautiful orb; and how sweetly did she still sail on, in her peerless and solitary course, in that distant profound! I heeded not the tramp of the multitude as they passed me by, while I there stood almost a worshiper, and a sad one, of one of God's most beautiful creations, and gave way to my thoughts, as I mused on the changes which a few years will write in the experience of man-and how soon the young will become old; the dark hair, gray ; and how soon and deep, by bereavement, a joyous heart may sink in its dreadful loneliness and sorrow.

But, the good frigate Cumberland lay not where I expected to see her; and I pursued my walk to the Long Wharf, off which, I was informed, the frigate was now moored. The light of the full moon, blending with the twilight of the early evening, kept all things still distinct in the distance, as I reached the end of the dock, off which the frigate was seen at her anchors, in the stream. And there now she lay, and the full moon, still rising, was directly above her. with all their beautiful tracery of cordage, were lined on the twilight of the back-ground, and her hull, distinct in its proportions and grace, lay in a flood of moonbeams, as the full orb threw its bright wake across the ship. Not a breath disturbed the bosom of the bay on which the beautiful ship now slept; and each spar and almost every cord, in its web-work, were mirrored back from the calm surface of the water, while that golden orb seemed, from the point where I now stood and gazed, to be poised on the main-truck of the ship. How striking the incident to me, at this my first view of the ship which ere long is to bear me over the seas !

Her spars,

How beautiful was the scene itself! How still was all around me! Not a man was seen to move aboard that distant object. Scarcely a being was abroad on the shore. And there she lay, that gallant frigate, in all her fair proportions, and sheen of light, and repose of an unrippled expanse of water. It carried my thoughts back through a six years' space, when, at Norfolk, I gazed from the shore on the frigate Columbia, with the new moon above her (of which I have elsewhere made record),* and which I then took as a bright omen that my voyage around the world in that fine cruiser should be bright and happy. The coincidence to-night was striking, and peculiar, and beautiful. That same moon, though now fuller and brighter, was above the main-truck, where fifteen minutes sooner or later it could not have been, from the point where I gazed upon it. And now I felt that I could and that I would again believe that a good Providence would attend me, and I would confide in the God who holds the ocean in his palm and the winds in his fist. And yet, as I there stood in loneliness on that dock, it was a flood of bitter emotion I poured forth, as I wept over the deep experience of the few years since I last went over distant seas and to many foreign lands. God only knows how my heart broke as I retraced that experience, and felt at that moment a solitude, which earth hath not in its gift to remove. Only he who has buried forever his choicest hope of happiness on earth, could sympathize with me at this moment of review, between two points on the scale of my own life. But I soon shall go again, on a course over many seas—among sunny isles—and amid varied, and perhaps interesting scenes. May God go with me! To. morrow I shall join the ship, and occupy my state-room on board the good frigate. Good angels protect her-kind hearts give her welcome—and happy hearts rejoice on her

* The Flag Ship.

pany for illustration, on this subject. Unexpectedly orders

particular ship, which, may be, is already in readiness to

THE BROAD PENNANT

return again to her own blessed land, and I, to my own ate the circumstances of our Navy officers. Did they, I am denly, and in circumstances the most trying, few of our landsmen citizens would consent to be placed in similar circumstances, for the compensation which the Navy officer receives, although the allowance made to him by his government may be deemed to be liberal. Take a frigate's

20 happy hearth. ble.

OFFICERS OF THE NAVY LEAVING HOME.

I doubt if the people of our country sufficiently appreci.

[ocr errors]

sure our national legislature, nor others, would deem the
officers' pay extravagant, or their position particularly envia-

In the one fact of their leaving their homes, often sud

reach an officer in the service to repair for duty on board a

com

sail; and which will sail in a short time after his reaching the vessel. in our present case I have been told by Captain Dulany, that he had but two days' notice to prepare for this cruise, which, it is expected, will be of two years' duration. It matters not that every officer of the Navy knows that he is liable to orders thus suddenly to leave his home and country. He yet will be surrounded by circumstances, in the very nature of our social life, which will make it an inconvenience and a trial to arrange his matters of business, and to take leave of his household. And thus had the Captain to arrange his affairs in this haste, and to take leave of his companion and his children, and commit them to the chances of the coming two years, and to the protecting care of their God, in this small space of time.

What landsman would feel that he could adjust the affairs of his household in this brief space of time, and would be willing to serve his country in

such circumstances--leaving those he loves in such haste to the uncertainties and the chances of a two years' separation, for the yearly compensation given to an officer of the Navy? The Navy officer is as susceptible as any other man—his family is as dear—the parting hour to him is as painful—the solicitudes with which he leaves his cherished companion and his offspring are as deep. I will not say that they are deeper, for comparisons are odious. But no heart is more full in its affections, as none is more noble in its aspirations, than that of a worthy officer of the Navy. Another officer of our ship leaves a young wife, having been married but a few months; and another was to have been married, but the orders he received to this ship of necessity postponed it—the then Secretary of the Navy not yielding to his request for leave of absence; and he now sleeps to wake no more, while the intelligence of his death (being sudden, and apparently the result of exposure since his joining the ship) is to be conveyed back to his intended bride ; and in the other case, the husband waits with solicitude for intelligence from his companion, who is soon expected to give him her first born, while he, on whom, at such an hour of solicitude, the heart of the young wife must yearn to lean for encouragement and support, will be far distant on the seas. Indeed, of eleven officers of the wardroom mess, nine of them have their young families, to whom, with hearts filled with all the yearnings of affection, they have said the feeling farewell, for, as they suppose, two years to come.

I know of these men that they are affectionate and devoted to their families, and that they leave them with all the gushing emotions that go out for their blessed companions, and most of them with the additional solicitudes of parents. Therefore would I bespeak for these men, and the rest of their brother officers of the Navy, the consideration of the people of our country, for whose commercial interests, and national honor,

« PředchozíPokračovat »