Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

The mariner remembers when a child,

On his first voyage, he saw it fade and sink;
And when, returning from adventures wild,

He saw it rise again o'er ocean's brink.

Steadfast, serene, immovable, the same

Year after year, through all the silent night,
Burns on for evermore that quenchless flame,

Shines on that inextinguishable light!

It sees the ocean to its bosom clasp

The rocks and sea-sand with the kiss of peace;
It sees the wild winds lift it in their grasp,

And hold it up, and shake it like a fleece.

The startled waves leap over it; the storm

Smites it with all the scourges of the rain,
And steadily against its solid form

Press the great shoulders of the hurricane.

The sea-bird wheeling round it, with the din

Of wings, and winds, and solitary cries,
Blinded and maddened by the light within,

Dashes himself against the glare, and dies.

A new Prometheus, chained upon the rock,

Still grasping in his hand the fire of Jove,
It does not hear the cry, nor heed the shock,

But hails the mariner with words of love.

"Sail on!' it says, 'sail on, ye stately ships !

And with your floating bridge the ocean span;
Be mine to guard this light from all eclipse ;

Be yours to bring man nearer unto man.'"

Having spent a few hours rambling over the island, — now indulging grave reflections, and now bright and cheerful fancies; now musing over a

broken spar lodged among the rocks where the . tide ebbs and flows; and now observing the brilliant hue of the pimpernel, unfolded in the sunshine, and giving no hint of cloud or rain, — the voyagers return to the yacht; and, after running westward by Pebble Stone Beach and Long Beach, and then tacking and making a sweep around Milk Island, sail homeward, passing the true “ Avery's Fall,” as well as the south and east shore of Thatcher's Island, and following the shore of the Cape to Gap Head, and thence on a straight course, crossing Sandy Bay, to the harbor of Pigeon Cove.

This ending of the little voyage is sometimes unusually interesting and exciting for the appearance of whales, - now and then a school of six or eight, — spouting and playing hide-and-seek but two or three hundred yards from the yacht. One fair September day, in 1870, a party of Philadelphians, in a pleasure-boat, just departing from Thatcher's Island, began to converse playfully of the hidden monsters that might come to sight; perhaps too near the boat for the comfort of the passengers. A gentleman on board with them, who had been a long time familiar with the sea around our headland, said that he had seen almost every summer the kind of whales called blackfish, between Thatcher's and Straitsmouth Islands, and in Sandy and Ipswich Bays. Some of the company doubted, or affected to doubt, his word, and gently asked, “ Have you not been telling a fish-story ? ” But

Thatcherhe kind of what he had s

scarcely had this question escaped from their lips before a noise came to the hearing of the persons in the boat like the rushing of a wave up the ascending floor of a beach, but more sudden and not at all prolonged. Looking for the occasion of the noise, and seeing two whales passing Flat Point on their way to deeper water, “ There are two of the monsters now,” said he ; "and, as luck would have it, you have a fine chance to see with your own eyes these immense creatures of the ocean, now diving to the bottom of the sea, and now rising to its surface, expelling water through the holes in their heads from their closed capacious mouths.” A long while the excursionists watched the gambols of the huge pair; and when the whales had gone a mile away, distinctly came to the hearing of the curious gazers the sound of the spray which they threw into the air with great force.

When Massachusetts Bay and Ipswich Bay are thronged with menhaden, herring, or mackerel, moving within sight of the shore from point to point in schools, the extent of which is denoted by the darker shade and bubbling of large spaces of the ocean's surface, then the whales are likely to appear in the same waters, devouring these smaller inhabitants of the sea by hundreds in every onset. But the whales in turn become game, and are pursued also; and the menhaden, herring, and mackerel are no longer with fright shooting in every direction from their wide-open jaws. The fishermen, in boats quietly following them, with dexterous aim and thrust harpoon them. Sometimes, not having the whaler's instrument and line at hand, with aid of rifles, fowling-pieces, and lusty shouting, they drive them into some shallow bay or cove, where the terrified monsters run aground, and so are easily captured. Not many years since five or six whales were in this manner driven ashore near Bay View. When the tide went down, they were left “high and dry,” like stranded ships. The large quantity of oil obtained amply repaid the fishermen for their exercise of energy and daring. While the chase was progressing, since it had not been engaged in out of mere wantonness, but for honorable profit, the witnesses of it on the shore were not unwilling lookers-on, and would not have called Mr. Bergh to stop it, had he been at the time within hailing distance. The sailing and rowing were quite as skilful as horsemanship on the race-course, and certainly, in the judgment of the humane, ended in results not less noble.

Here ending discourse about whales, a few words from Rev. Francis Higginson's Journal, written in 1629, after he had crossed the ocean from England to Salem, will not be inapposite. Said the brave and enthusiastic minister to his countrymen at home: “Our passage was both pleasurable and profitable ; for we received instruction and delight in beholding the wonders of the Lord in the deep waters, and sometimes seeing the

sea round us appearing with a terrible countenance and, as it were, full of high hills and deep valleys; and sometimes it appeared as a most plain and even meadow. And ever and anon we saw divers kinds of fishes sporting in the great waters, great grampuses and huge whales, going by companies and puffing up water streams. Those that love their own chimney-corner, and dare not go far beyond their own town's end, shall never have the honor to see these wonderful works of Almighty God.”

[merged small][graphic][ocr errors][ocr errors][subsumed][merged small]

The facilities on the shore of Pigeon Cove for bathing and swimming should not be overlooked. It is but a short walk from the hotels and the vil

« AnteriorContinuar »