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A Tale of the Sea.
I SPENT the whole of last summer, character of seafaring men, even of and a part of the ensuing winter, on the those whose voyages have extended litHampshire coast, visiting successively tle beyond their own shores. The fishmost of the sea-ports and bathing-places, erman's life, indeed, may be accounted and enjoying its beautiful diversity of one of the most constant peril. For sea and wood scenery, often so inter- daily bread he must brave daily danmingled, that the forest-trees dip down gers. In that season when the rillers their Alexile branches into the salt wa- of the ground rest from their laboursters of the Solon sea ; and
lawns when the artisan and mechanic are and healthy glades slope down to the sheltered within their dwellings—when very brink of the water. In no part of the dormouse and the squirrel hide in Hampshire is this characteristic beauty their woolly nests, and the little birds more strikingly exemplified than at the find shelter in hollow banks and trees, back of the Isle of Wight, that minia- or resort to milder regions, the poor ture abstract of all that is grand and fisherman must encounter all the fury lovely throughout England. Early in of the combined elements—for bis chil. August I crossed over from Portsmouth dren's bread is scattered on the waters. to Ryde, purposing to fix my head- It is this perpetually enforced interquarters there, and from thence to make course with danger that interests our excursions to all such places as are ac- feelings so powerfully in their behalf, counted worthy the tourist's notice.- together with its concomitant effects on But a guide-book is at best an unsym- their character-undaunted hardihood pathizing companion, cold and formal -insurmountable perseverance almost as the human machine that leads you heroic daring; and, generally speaking, over some old abbey, or venerable ca- a simplicity of heart, and a tenderness thedral, pointing out indeed the princi- of department towards the females and pal monuments and chapels, but pass- little ones of their families, finely coning by, unnoticed, a hundred less out- trasting their rugged exterior. But, unwardly distinguished spots, where feeling fortunately, it is not only in their ostenwould love to linger, and sentiment find sible calling of fisherman, that these inexhaustible sources of interest and men are forward in effronting peril
The temptation to contraband trade too I took up my abode for an indefinite often alsures them from their honest time in a cottage of grey native stone, and peaceable avocations, to brave the backed by the solid rocks, and tapes- laws of their country, and encounter the tried in front with such an interwoven most fearful risks, in pursuit of precaprofusion of rose and myrtle, as half hid rious, though sometimes considerable the little casements, and aspired far gains. over the thatched roof and projecting
my rambles along its shores, the caves. To me its attractions were irre- inhabitants of almost every cottage and sistible; and, besides those of inanimate fisherman's cabin, for many miles round, nature, I found other sources of interest became known to me. I have always in studying the character and habits of a peculiar pleasure in conversing with the almost amphibious dwellers on that these people-in listening with familiar coast. Generally speaking, there is interest (to which they are never insensomething peculiarly interesting in the sible) to the details of their feelings and
opinions, and of their family concern, fancy. He wore large loose trowsers of With some of my new acquaintances shaggy dark blue cloth, a sort of woolhad ventured to expostulate on the ini- len vest, broadly striped with grey, for quitous, as well as hazardous nature of the most part open at the throat and their secret traffic, and many wives and bosom, and buckled in at the waist mothers sanctioned, with approving with a broad leathern belt, in which looks and half-constrained expressions, two pistols were commonly stuck, and my remonstrances to their husbands and not unfrequently an old cutlass; and sons. These heard, for the most part, over his shoulder was slung a second in sullen down-looking silence, (nots belt of broad white knitting, to which a however, expressive of "ill-will towards powder flask, a leathern pouch, and ofme) or sometimes answered my argu
ten a short thick duck-gun, were susments with the remark, that “ Poor pended. A dark fur cap was the usual folks must live ;” that “ half of them, covering of his head, and his thick black during the war, had earned an honest hair was not so much intermingled livelihood in other ways ; but now they with grey, as streaked with locks of perwere turned adrift, and must do some
fect whiteness. Notwithstanding this thing to get bread for their little ones ; formidable equipment, the harmless and, after all, while the rich and great avocation of a fisherman was his ostenfolks were pleased to encourage their sible employment, though, to all aptrade, it was plain they could not think pearance not very zealously pursued ; much harm of those who carried it on." for, in the day-time, he was oftener to This last was a stinging observation, be seen lying along the shore, in the one of those with which babes and suck broad sun, or strolling by the water's lings so often confound the sophistry of edge, or cleaning the lock of his gun, worldly wisdom. Among these humble under the shade of a projecting crag, families there was one, at whose cabin I
than busied with the hook and line in stopped oftenest, and lingered longest, his little boat, or mending his nets by in my evening rambles. The little the cabin door. At almost all hours of
dwelling was wedged in a manner into the night, a light was seen burning at | a clift of the grey rock, up which, on the cottage window, and the master of
every slanting ledge, the hand of indus- the family, with his son, was invariably try had accumulated garden mould, and absent, if (as was sometimes my custom) föstered a beautiful vegetation ; and
I looked in on them after dark, on my immediately before it, a patch of the return from some distant spot towards :loveliest green sward sloped down to the my own habitation. edge of the sea-sand, enamelled with
At such an hour I was sure to find aromatic wild thyme, and dotted, next
the female inmates, (the wife and withe ocean, with tufts of thrift, centaury,
dowed daughter of the man I have been and eringo, and with the gold-coloured describing) in a state of visible pertur| blossoms of the horn poppy.
bation, for which it was easy to assign The peculiar neatness of the little a cause ; but I had remonstrated in vain cabin bad early attracted my attention,
with the infatuated husband, and it was which was further interested by the sin
still more fruitless to argue with the gular appearance of its owner. He was helpless women. Richard Campbell a large tall man, of about sixty, distin- was not a native of the Isle of Wight, guished in his person by an air of un
nor one trained from his youth up, " to common dignity, and by a dress, the go down to the sea in ships, and occupeculiarity of which, together with his py his business in great waters.” For commanding carriage, and countenance many generations his family had owned of bold daring, always suggested the and cultivated a small farm in the north buccaneer of romantic legends to my of England; himself had been brought
up a tiller of the ground, contrary to his “ took after his father's fancy for the own wishes, for they had pointed from sea, and set liis heart on being a sailor" his cradle to a seafaring lífe; and all And the father called to mind his own his hours of boyish pastime and youth- youthful longings, and would not conful leisure were spent in the briny ele- trol those of his child, especially as he ment, close to which, at the head of a had another son, a fine promising lad, small bay, or inlet, stood his paternal who took willingly to the business of farm. Just as he had attained his twen- the farm, and already lightened his fatieth year, his father died, leaving him, ther's labours. The mother grieved sore fan only child) the inheritor of all his at parting with her first-born, (what little property, and at liberty to follow feelings are like those of a mother tothe bent of his own inclination. The wards her first-born ?) and the young temptation was strong ;-tumultuous Maurice was her most loving and dutiwishes and powerful yearnings were ful child, and she had reared him with busy in his heart; but he was the only such anxious tenderness as only mothers son of his mother and she was a widow." feel, through the perilous years of a sickHe staid to comfort her old age, and to ly infancy, But the father jested with cultivate his little inheritance, partly her fears, and entered with the ardour influenced perhaps in his decision by of a boyish heart into his son's enterhis attachment to a pretty blue-eyed prising hopes; and at last the youth girl, whose sweeter smiles rewarded his won from her an unwilling consent. filial piety, and whose hand was very And when she shook her head mournshortly its richer recompense. The fully to his promises of bringing rare widowed mother continued to dwell un- and beautiful things from foreign parts, der her son's roof, tended, like Naomi, for her and his little sister, coaxed a by a daughter-in-law as loving as Ruth, half smile into her tearful looks, by conbut happier than the Hebrew matron cluding with~" And then I will stay in the possession of both her children. quiet with you and father, and never
Many children were born to the want to leave you again.”—“My Mauyoung couple, “ as likely boys and rice left us," said the mother, “ and girls as ever the sun shone upon," said from that time every thing went wrong. the wife of Campbell, from whom at Before he had been gone a month, we different times I gleaned “the simple buried husband's mother ; but God annals" I am relating,
« But God was called her away in a good old very good to them. He increased their
we had no right to take on heavily at store with their increasing family, and her loss, though we felt it sorely." In provided bread for the little mouths addition to his own land, Campbell that were sent to claim it. She never rented some acres of a neighbouring grudged her labour, and a better nor a gentleman, whose disposition was restkinder husband than she was blessed lessly litigious, and Campbell being with, never woman had. To be sure, unhappily fiery and impetuous, disputes he had his fancies and particular ways, arose between them, and which proceeded and when he could steal a holiday, all to such lengths, that both parties finally his delight was to spend it on the bay referred their differences to legal arbithat was near the farm, (the worse luck) trament. After many tedious and apfor many an anxious hour had she parently frivolous delays, particularly known even then, when he was out in irritating to Campbell's impatient spihis little boat, shooting wild fowl in the rit, the cause was given in favour of his dark winter's nights. But no harm ever opponent: and from that hour he adoptcame to him, only their eldest boy, ed the firm persuasion that impartial their dear Maurice," (the mother never justice was banished from the land of named him without a glistening eye) his fathers. This fatal prejudice turned
all his thoughts to bitterness-haunted | exertions of the crew and passengers, him like a phantom in his fields, by all was unavailing; and to betake themhis cheerful hearth, in his once peace- selves to the boats was the last hurried ful bed, and in the very embraces of and desperate resource. his children, “ who were born,” he Campbell had succeeded in lowering would tell them, in the midst of their his three youngest children into one of innocent caresses,"slaves in the land them, already crowded with their fellowwhere their fathers had been free men." sharers in calamity, and was preparing
In this state of mind he eagerly lis- to send down his eldest son and daughtened to the speculative visions of a few ter, and to descend himself, with their agricultural adventurers, who had em- mother in his arms, when a womali pressbarked their small capital on an Ameri- ing before him with despairing baste, can project, and were on the point of leaped down into the crowded boat, quitting their native country to seek which upset in an instant, and the perishwealth, liberty, and independence, in ing cry of twenty drowning people minthe back settlements of the United States. gled with the agonizing shrieks of paIn an evil hour, Campbell was persuad- rents, husbands, and children, from the ed to embark his fortunes with those of deck of the sinking ship. The other the self-expatriated emigrants. The tears boat was yet alongside, and Campbell and entreaties of his wife and children was at last seated in her with his two were unavailing to deter him from his surviving children, and their unconscious rash purpose ; and the unhappy mother mother, who had sunk into a state of was torn from the beloved home, where blessed insensibility, when the drownher heart lingered with a thousand ten- ing screams of her lost little ones rung der reminiscences, and most tenacious- in her ears. Five-and-twenty persons ly in the persuasion, that if her lost child were wedged in this frail bark, and a was ever restored to his native country, cask of water, with a small bag of biscuit. to the once happy abode of his parents, An old sail had been Aung down with his first steps would be directed. these scanty stores, which they contriv* The ship in which the Campbells ed to hoist on the subsiding of the were embarked, with their five remain- storm, towards the evening of the first ing children, and all their worldly pos- day's commitment in that “ forlorn sessions, performed two-thirds of her hope,” to the wide world of waters. course with prosperous celerity ;. but as Their compass had been lost in the she approached her destined haven, the large boat, and faint indeed were their wind, which had hitherto favoured her, hopes of ever reaching land, from became contrary, and she lost sea-way whence they had no means of computing for many days. At last, a storm, which their distance. But the unsleeping eye had been gathering with awfully gradual of Providence watched over them, and preparation, burst over her with tremen- on the fourth day of their melancholy dous fury. Three days and nights she progress, a sail making towards them drove before it, but on the fourth, her was descried on the verge of the horizon. mast and rigging went overboard, and It neered, and the ship proved to be a before the wreck could be cut away, a homeward-bound West India trader, plank in the ship's side was stove in by into which the perishing adventurers the floating timbers. In the confusion were received with prompt humanity; which had assembled every body on and on reaching her appointed haven, deck, the leak was not discovered till (Portsmouth) Campbell, with his comthe water in the hold had gained a depth panions in misfortune, and the remnant of many feet; and though the pump was of his once flourishing family, again set set to work immediately, and for a time foot on British earth. He had saved kept going by the almost superhumau about his person a small part of his lit.
tle property ; but the whole residue was duced into casual and inconsiderable insufficient to equip him for a second ventures) was at last enrolled in the attempt, had he even been so obstinate- gang of smugglers, who carried on their ly bent on the prosecution of his trans- perilous trade along the coast; and from atlantic scheme as to persist in it against that time, though comparative plenty (what appeared to him) the declared revisited his cottage, the careless smile will of the Almighty.
of innocent security no longer beamed Once, in his younger days he had vi- on the features of its inmates. sited the Isle of Wight, and the remem- One evening the storm raging fearfulbrance of its stone cottages and beauti- ly, warned me to retrace my homeward ful bays was yet fresh in his mind. He way, before the disappearance of a yet crossed over with his family, and a few glimmering moon should leave me to weeks saw him in possession of a neat pursue it in total darkness. Flapping cabin and a small fishing-boat ; and for my hat over my eyes, and, wrapping a time the little family was subsisted in myself snugly round in the thick folds frugal comfort by the united industry of of a huge boat-cloak, I issued forth from the father and son. Soon after their the cheerful brightness of the cottagesettlement in the island, their daughter parlour into the darkness visible of the (matured to lovely womanhood) married wild scene without. Wildly magnificent à respectable and enterprising young. it was! My path lay along the shore, man, the owner of a pilot-vessel. In against which mountainous waves came the course of three years, she brought rolling in long ridges, with a sound like her husband as many children, and thunder. Sleet, falling at intervals, minduring that time all went well with gled with the sea-surf, and both were them; but her William's occupation, a driven into my face by the south-east lucrative one in time of war, exposed blast, with a violence that obliged him to frequent and fearful dangers, and me frequently to pause, and gasp for one tempestuous winter's night, having breath. Large masses of cloud were ventured out to the assistance of a perish- hurried in sublime disorder across the ing vessel, his own little bark foundered dim struggling moon, whose pale light in the attempt, and the morning tide gleamed at intervals, with ghastly indisfloated her husband's corpse to the feet tinctness, along the white sands, and on of his distracted wife, as she stood on the frothy summits of the advancing the sea-beach, watching every white billows. As I pursued my way, buffetsail that became visible through the haze ingthe conflicting elements, other sounds, of the grey-clouded dawn.
methought, appeared to mingle in their The forlorn widow and her orphan uproar. The deep and shrill intonababes found a refuge in the humble ca- tion of human voices seemed blended bin of her father, and he and his son with the wailing and sobbing of the redoubled their laborious exertions for storm; the creaking and labouring of their support. But these were heavy planks, and the splash of oars were disclaims, and the little family but just con- tinguishable, I thought, in the pause of trived to live, barely supplied with the the receding waves. I was not deceivcoarsest necessaries. When temptation ed. A momentary gleam of moonlight assails the poor man by holding out to glanced on the white sails of a vessel at his grasp the means of lessening the some distance from the land, and one of hardships and privations of those dear her boats (a black speck on the billows) to him as his own soul, is it to be won- was discernible, making her way towards dered at that he so often fails, when the shore. At that moment, another others, without having the same excuses boat close in shore shot by with the veto plead, set him the example of yield- locity of lightning, and at the same ining? Campbell (having first been se- stant a man rushed quickly by me,