صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

No. XXX.

Suave, mari magno turbantibus æquora ventis,
E terrâ magnum alterius spectare laborem !
Non, quia vexari quemquam est jocunda voluptas ;
Sed, quibus ipse malis caveas, quia cernere suave est !

LUCRETIOS.

How sweet, to stand, when tempests tear the main,
Ou the firm cliff, and mark the seaman's toil !
Not, that another's danger sooths the soul ;
But, from such toil how sweet to feel secure!

Good.

The sea is the most vast of all the visible oba jects of nature: and when the wind adds disturbance and motion, to its immensity, there is nothing that seems so dreadfully proportioned to the greatness of its almighty Creator! Yet, as the art of the painter gives us a sensible delight from the representation of prospects, of creatures, or of actions, which in their natures are productive of horror; so we are never more pleased by any descriptions in poetry, than by those which set before us the strongest and liveliest pictures of shipwrecks and storms at sea : whether it is, that the soul exults and prides itself in a consciousness of its own capacity to move and conceive so greatly; or, that we derive a sharper taste and enjoyment of our own safety, from a comparison with those represented dangers.

All the poets, ancient and modern, have been fond of raising tempests; wherein, for the most part, their own time has been cast away: for they have scattered and weakened the terror they designed to increase, by throwing together all the images that occurred, rather than selecting the most essential and impressive. By means of which perplexing and inconsistent variety, their reader's imagination finds relief, from not clearly discerning their object through the dust which they have raised about it.

It has been observed by the admirers of Homer, that there is a similitude between his manner of thinking, and that of David and Solomon, and others of the Hebrew writers, who owed their excellence to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Methinks this remark, which is much to the honour of that immortal Greek, may gather some new force, if we consider Homer's description of a tempest (which Lon. ginus was so justly charmed with), and compare it with that of David in the 107th psalm, which has often been mentioned with wonder by the critics of our own and foreign nations. Both the versions are new ; but both the originals are inimitable. I begin with that of the Psalmist.

They who in ships the sea's vast depths descend,
And o’er the watry world their passage bend;
They (more than all) their God's great works discern,
And midst th' unfathom’d deep his wonders learn.
There, from smooth calms, on sudden storms they rise;
Hang on the horrid surge, and skim the skies!
Now, high as heav’n they climb their dreadful way;
Now, sink in gulphy slants, and lose the day!
Giddy, they reel to shoot the frightful steep;
And their souls melt amid the sounding sweep!
Helpless, they cling to what supports them first,
And o'er them feel the breaking billows burst.
Then, to their last Almighty hope they cry;
Who hears, and marks them with a pitying eye:
He bids the storm be hush’d—the winds obey,
And the aw'd waves in silence shrink away!

Now follows Homer, with a terror and a ma, jesty which leave it almost doubtful to which of these great poets the victory should be ascribed : but certain, beyond all question, that no other has equalled either of them,

O’er the broad sea the driving tempest spreads,
And sounding surges swell their sweeping heads.
Upwards, immense, the liquid mountains flow,
And shade the distant ship that climbs below!
Down her wash'd decks the whitning foam rolls o'er,
And the big blasts thro' bursting canvass roar!.
Back shrink the sailors from the briny grave,
And see pale Death press close on every wave!

[ocr errors]

We see here no tíme lost in enumerating little particulars : all the great and striking circumstances are thrown forward in their proper lights ; but nothing is added that can either diminish or distract the apprehension. I have placed these two admirable descriptions thus opposite to each other, that some of our fashionable applauders of Homer may see his sublimity more than matched in the works of a poet they have seldom heard of; and that they who are justly his admirers, may find cause to esteem him yet more, by observing how near he comes to one whom God was pleased after a peculiar manner to inspire and delight in.

While I am upon this subject, it falls naturally in my way to recollect a letter that was lately sent me by a gentleman, who writ the particulars of the story from the mouth of a person who was himself an eye-witness.

Sír, You appear, by some of your writings, to be so heartily a lover of the trade and prosperity of your country, that I persuade myself you must of necessity be a well-wisher to the honest sailors: a set of men, who, at the continual hazard of their lives, contribute their toil and their skill to the power and grandeur of the

nation ; and who, allowing themselves no leisure for luxury, furnish means, notwithstanding, to maintain the luxury of other people. The sailors, to be short, are a race of open-hearted, gallant thinkers, who retain the plainness, the uncorrupted sincerity, and blunt species of virtue, which distinguished our fore-fathers, and which Old England has so often triumphed by, in times whose customs we rather admire than imitate. Whatever therefore relates, in a very extraordinary manner, to the good or ill fortune of any of this useful and worthy race of your kindred plain-dealers, I promise myself you will take pleasure to distinguish, by allowing it a place in your paper.

The ship Bouevia, of London, of burthen about two hundred and fifty tons, Captain Brooks commander, set sail from the coast of Holland, on the twenty-fifth of November last; having two pilots, one English, and the other Dutch; and his wife was on board with him.

The day had been fair and clear; but in the evening, about six, it blew hard at south and by west. The gale increased into a violent storm, and continued for about seven hours, veering to the west, and north and by west; during which the ship was stranded off Enchūysen,

« السابقةمتابعة »