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toshes, comforters and hoods and capes; women with dishevelled hair, too sick to comb it, till the very hair is sea-sick hair and the very fingernails are jaundiced. A day or two after the start the saloon, the state-rooms, the decks are like the field of Balaklava; everywhere lie the sick, the dead and the wounded. To go upstairs is to meet a hundred mute eyes upturned in silent appeals for mercy and help — women's eyes that speak volumes of nocturnal woe, children's eyes that look hot and haggard with expectant changes in the condition of the stomach, men's eyes that have grown weak as gruel or as a cat that has just kittened. If there were strength for it, a serenade would arise as harmonious as an orchestra of Grimalkins invoking Venus on the housetop. But the marrow of men at sea is a sort of soup; the blocd is, water.; the bones are sticks of soft sealingwax; the brain is a bolvi n& porridge:: Nerve-force is just strong enough to diffuse an infinite ache and digestion through what seems like leagues and leagues of body. One's legs, in their capacity to spin out and be twisted and overflow:the berth and be bruised on the washstand, and Garcii
. tinguig crinolines and trains; seem fully equal to the famous boots of faery. You never knew the length of your arms till you went to sea. At the table they are in the ribs of the elderly lady who sits next to you. On deck they are in a continual state of stretch, to try to catch hold of something or somebody, to hold on to no matter what, even your deadliest enemy. go to bed their portentous length shocks and terrifies you, and the superfluities are left to hang over the side of the berth, or dangle dismally before the eyes of the passenger underneath.
When the ladies begin to sit upright and buckle their belts, you make the discovery that there is a piano on board. There is a sea-sickness of the ears which only those who have been to sea ever know. If the ears could take an emetic and be over with it in a trice, it would be beatific; but they cannot, and day in, day out, they submit to a torture more exquisite than all the Middle Ages could inflict. On the harp concealed within the piano dance all the imps of darkness. A troop of goblin mockeries and melodies breaks loose from the bowels of the instrument, and derisively taunts the wretched traveller who would be quiet. It is a musical colic, a
case of harmonious gripes, a piano that has pain in its stomach. And on it goes in a musical paroxysm all over the sea, a dance of death. Then the babies as they toddle and tumble down stairs and up, bumping their precious heads and uttering most land-like squeals what an element in the chaos ! And further, to the tourist who takes it quietly in the saloon, reading Marryatt or dozing on the sofa, the everlasting setting and unsetting of tables is a nightmare. No sooner have you stolen away into a sunny corner with a delicious book than in comes a procession of stewards, laden with cloths and napkins and tumblers. Your day-dream is of brief duration. Like Caligula, you could wish they all' had one neck and you could wring it. There is sure to be witty man and a man of anecdotes, and a politician and a doctor and a lawyer on board. There are sure to be two young women going to study art somewhere, but never studying it; one old lady sitting on deck in glare and spray, with face bedewed with glycerine to keep the tan off ; two spinsters of indefinite longevity, venturing on a timorous tour to the Babylons of the Old World; and one lady who has been paralysed, talks of her accomplishments before her paralytic stroke, condemns cards, has lost her memory, and is a mass of whims, worthlessness and incongruities. The young men drink and swear and play cards in the smoking-room, get up spasmodic dances, bore each other, wrestle and promenade and stare.
The ship is a comedy. The comedy is the comedy of human life, great as Balzac's, containing all the elements of Shakspeare, rich in tints of Socrates or Aristophanes or Plato. Should the world go down in sudden ruin, this ship could repeople it with passions, interests, imaginations, histories, sanctities, poetries. There is hardly a philosophy that would not be represented, hardly an art but could be put together and reconstructed out of this disjointed assemblage of social instincts and cultures. The ship as it floats is a Garden of Eden with its perfect pairs, its recreative impulses. With its metallic arteries tense with steam, it speeds onward, fit to represent our civilisation at the federation of the worlds. Nothing is wanting to it, even to the rats and roaches; all is there, even to the ubiquitous man who takes up subscriptions; it is perfect, even to an after-dinner toast. The whole comedy, from footlights to final curtain, from gray hairs to the new-born child, kicks and scuffles, weeps and applauds in all its brilliant or its tiresome multiplicity, here in this palace of iron on the sea. A Quaker and a Brahmin may house together in one of these little pigeon-holes of apartments, with its window like the muzzle of a telescope, its little square of quicksilver for a glass, its two sardine
jugs and bottles of water. It may even be your lot to lie with a one-armed man who wears a kid-glove on his wooden hand, or a confiding Yankee who tells you about his matrimonial difficulties, or a long theologian who has already published sundry volumes of frightful length, and whose sole object now (as he tells you confidentially) is to make arrangements to publish
are you if you are the only egg in the robin's nest, and can make your tiny dwelling-place comfortable for the voyage. It is a voyage of life, and you are booked ; where it may end we know
an iceberg or a wharf, in the polar rivers at the bottom of the sea, or in the sunny splendors of the Clyde or the Mersey. It is a voice
, a glory, a grave. It is a conquest of peerless science, a huddle of selfishness, a prison-house of dreams and ambitions, a hospital of loathsome disease. It is a ship, and it is well-stocked with mariners and men and women and babies. There are sciences, aspirations, long convalescences after sickness, long toiling after health hopelessly gone, sweet visions of an Old World to fresh eyes and ardent hearts, and -a pedagogue stealing away for his vacation !
boxes for beds, and
The Bay of New York expands out into the sea like a great blue convolvulus. The lips of the great city are fixed on the one end of this wonderful trumpet, while the other swells and swells into cerulean
amplitudes of sea. The ship, as the sunbeams strike the sails and make of them spots of splendor on the sea, climbs up the mighty convolvulus, and skims from rib to rib and parallel to parallel of the round world. There come Hesperian days, when all the sea is golden with apples of the Hesperides ; when the waves are the scales of a dragon's back, and shimmer like a golden harness. Far and near it is a picture, a poem, a roofless palace with floor of milk and emerald, a tent whose translucent awning is the sky, a prison whose unscaled battlements are belts of crystal horizon, along which cling ivy of cloud and pinnacle of mist. The marine colors, the sea-greens and sea-blues, and sunny surfaces of mantling water, are richer than Gobelins tapestry. Not even the loggie of Raffaelle can show so many shades. Rome on a summer day, with all its magical distances, cannot rival a league of sea, as it lies smouldering in the light of a dying sun or beaming with the fire of a sunrise. The sparkling Eumenides of phosphorescence that scourge the waters with their scorpions of fire, in the night turn the sea into weird flame, whip the sea into sparkling wine.
There is such a wealth of beauty in the sea, there is such richness on the sea, there is such a tenderness in the sherbetlike clouds on the sea, that from Xenophon to Turner and our time, no writer or painter has exhausted it; and there it lies to-day, jewelled and glistening, a wondrous intaglio cut into a thousand dimples and lines, a sphere of turquoise and sunlight. There is nothing spurious or insincere in the sea. Whatever it finds to do, that it does with might. It may be a storm or a pool of golden light, or a speck of purple on a cloud, or a shimmer of sleet through polar zones. Its glorious airs are airs of Eden ; in their palpitating freshness there is the rush and the vigor of the four rivers that divided and flowed down through the world. No mead of Walhalla, no jar of Falernian, ever gave such exquisite luxury as a sea-breeze. To us, fleeing from the heats of American midsummer, out on the living sea, there was a rapture beyond words in the blasts and gusts of mid-ocean. The mid-sea is the only medicine for a sick soul. After the rush and hurry of Commencement, ten days of ocean travel are a delicious trance of rest and oblivion. These ten days become ten aeons of happy vegetating, idle promenading on broad strips of sunlit deck, delightful lounging on sofas with a book or a journal, delightful gazing on the sea that is yellow as Etruscan gold or white as the milk of the fig. It is the trance of an Eastern dervish stretched beneath the palm and the sun, and lost to all but a rich sensuousness. be compared to a rose steeped in light and perfume, and infinitely still in charmed rest. You may not move for days, or you may walk miles up and down the deck : it is a triumph, a love-poem, such a life. At sea a quiet stomach is above rubies; guarantee that, and the life is perfect. How well does the traveller remember a lovely Sunday of summer when, stretched on a shawl, with the sea like a disk of burning glass, the hours fled in a dream as he read and pondered the poems of the Swede Bellmann, and the beautiful sounds of the Swedish tongue melted musically with the sea ! Every poem was a wave, every wave was a poem ; the stanzas became billows, the billows became stanzas. By strophe and antistrophe the poet and the sea
It might answered each other. Deep called unto deep. The sea-mews dipped like winged snowballs up and down. The shadows moved across the deck with the sun.
Behind the wheelhouse there was a ripple of elfish waters; on the forecastle they were singing a hymn. Up and down the quarter-deck there was the measured tread of feet; over the sea lay a glorious tableau of shining cloud ; around, above, in the air, all was radiance. No Sunday in his memory is so full of light. There was a Sabbath stillness on the waters, that every moment seemed about to break into bells and organ-music. From rim to rim, the sky, save for one castle in the air, was one sweep of impassioned blue.
A strange coolness floated into the air one day. There was brilliant sunshine, but the air was a frozen golden wine ; everywhere it sparkled with mica-points of frost. Afar on the sea there lay something like a white swan.
Nearer and nearer it floated. At first it was dim as the glow in an opal ; it hovered like a ghost on the horizon. It was like the submerged peak of the Jungfrau. The sailors cried, " An iceberg !” In a moment all eyes and spy-glasses were fixed on the radiant speck, the gorgeous blossom of the poles, the heaped and shining mass of crystal. It ran up into a burnished point, too sharp and bright to look at. The great ocean-waves gambolled about it and leaped upon it, and broke into spray and fell back among sporting whales. There it lay, the dazzling monster, sharp as a two-edged sword, keen as Excalibur, breathing frost and beauty, a lovely island of pure snow frozen into a dagger of sunlight that wounded the eyes. It seemed to cut the optic nerve like a scalpel, and to fill the brain with pain and beauty. Few sights excel these children of the sea in glory
. The sea is a picture-book; the sea is a romance; the sea is a dream. The realities of the land are less than the romance of the sea. Let a sunbeam drop through the air, and it will fall on a wavecrest or a helmed iceberg, making around each a halo and a sweetpess that the land does not know. This morning we forgot our breakfasts, and fed our hungry eyes on the iceberg. It was mountain of swans-down illumined by the sun ; soft as Cashmere, sunny as Portugal. The green and cassia-bloom light that falls through a cluster of ripe chastelards is lovely, but it is not so lovely
Into sight and out of sight it was wafted as
We sailed as near as we dared, and gave ourselves up entirely to the fascination of its deathlike' whiteness. It charmed us like a white serpent, like a siren, like a strain of music. In shape it resembled the island of Capri in the Bay of Naples -- it was the glass shoe of some fairy Cinderella.
But it did not swim among rainbows and waters like bird-of-Paradise plumes, as is the case with Capri ; it was white as the lamb of St. Agnes, a water-lily
It seemed to melt from our presence and away ; while we looked it was gone.. Among the sweet experiences of the sea is the night. The ship is gay with lights ; through the portholes, from the bridge, at the mastbeach, in the gangways, through the saloon, stream lines of flying is scared away by the cheerfulness of lamps and candles.
It is like a great ball. Uneasiness
as this swan of the sea. by invisible wings
adrift on the infinite sea. vanish
snarls about the sides of the ship, and occasionally sends an audacious wave over the forecastle. But within all is warmth, comfort, light. The cabin has a festal look; and if there are flowers, they catch the lustre, and laugh it back at you, or throw an illuminated fringe of shadows across the table. On many ships there are hanging gardens over the tables, carrying far out to sea the glory and the grace of the land. Ivy and fuchsias and geranium and calla-lilies intertwine their arms, like Canova's Graces, and make a charming bower of leaves and blossoms over your head. But most thrilling of all is a nocturnal walk on deck. The wind is keenly fresh. The ship from very
fleetness seems to send a sheet of light along the sea, like the friction of flint and steel. Overhead are the Hanging Gardens of the Infinite, fairer than the Gardens of Semiramis. The stars are beads of illumined milk, or golden pollen scattered from a thousand cereus-flowers. Over the sky they spread like summer freckles. If there be a moon, it is a sharp sickle, a horned glory, or a tear with halo about it. The skies are like a spangled skirt, a Danaid-tub through which flow shining waters, Nessus shirt thrown over the blue shoulders of the world and exuding brilliant poison. Your eye comes nearer heaven on a starry night at sea, than ever before. On land there are trees, houses, fogs; here the Infinite is bared to the quick. You all but see the invisible messengers of God on their missions of healing. The heavens are wide wings with balm beneath them. It is a darkness tattooed with stars. The great word, tattooed there with star-needles, sculptured there with the flinty beams of stars, is : Hope. A night at sea-on the mid-sea—is the gorgeous drama of Hope. If silver chimes could change to light, they would be the stars at sea. If the ethereal sounds that wander through old cathedrals could be caught up and moulded into shape, they would be these shining choristers of eternity. The awful hush, the distance, the dreaminess, the twitching and twinkling sky, the shriek of a sea-bird, the wind that makes a harp out of the sail-yards and sprinkles the silence with a mist of great sounds—all this melts into a song without words, into a serenade, into a funeral march, into a delicious andante movement whose keynote is Infinite Love. You search the darkness as if it were light, and find a star. It is a lump of ore on an eternal shore. The eye sinks like a shaft through the darkness and uncovers a multitude of sparkling specks. Is it a gold mine, or a cluster of Hesperian isles and apples, or a brooch of Pleiades ? The sea laughs musically along the bulwarks, and there is no answer. In between us and the stars there is the shadow of death ; but beyond there is light. Like an eagle, like the carol of a lark, flies the eye to where there is rest and comfort. Light is the bread that feeds inmortal hungers. A night at sea is a Holy Communion. The bread and the wine are the light, and the stars feed and fill us. They are the transubstantiated elements of this divine supper. A hymn is sung, but it is silent. Through the night sweeps a divine tide of light and music. The Vatican is not hung with such splendors as this sky. The dome of Angelo is a thimble beside this one. The Mediterranean is a slough in comparison with this awful upper-sea and sense of light. While we look there is change. As if the heavens could not bear our yearning glance,