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The cliffs, but a short half league under the lee of the schooner, were, at times, nearly hid from the eye by the pyramids of water, which the furious element, so suddenly restrained in its violence, cast high into the air, as if seeking to overstep the boundaries that nature had affixed to its dominion. The whole coast, from the distant headland at the south, to the well known shoals that stretched far beyond their course, in the opposite direction, displayed a broad belt of foam, into which it would have been certain destruction for the proudest ship that swam to have entered.'
* At this moment of appalling apprehension, the cockswain exhibited the most calm resignation. He knew that all had been done, that lay in the power of man, to urge their little vessel from the land, and it was now too evident to his experienced eyes, that it had been done in vain; but, considering himself as a sort of fixture in the schooner, he was quite prepared to abide her fate, be it for better or for worse. The settled look of gloom that gathered around the frank brow of Barnstable, was, in no degree, connected with any considerations of himself, but proceeded from that sort of parental responsibility from which the sea commander is never exempt. The discipline of the crew, however, still continued perfect and unyielding. There had, it is true, been a slight movement made by two of the oldest seamen, which indicated an intention to drown the apprehensions of death in ebriety ; but Barnstable had called for his pistols, in a tone that checked the procedure instantly, and, although the fatal weapons were untouched by him, but were left to lie exposed on the capstern, where they had been placed by his servant, not another symptom of insubordination appeared among the devoted crew. There was even, what to a landsman might seem, a dreadful affectation of attention to the most trifling duties of the vessel; and the men, who, it should seem, ought to be devoting the brief moments of their existence to the mighty business of the hour, were constantly called to attend to the most trivial details of their profession. Ropes were coiled, and the slightest damages occasioned by the waves, that, at short intervals, swept across the low decks of the Ariel, were repaired with the same precision and order, as if she yet lay embayed in the haven from which she had just been driven. In this manner, the arm of authority was kept extended over the silent crew, not with the vain desire to preserve a lingering, though useless exercise of power, but with a view to maintain that unity of action, that now could alone afford them even a ray of hope.
««She can make no head against this sea, under that rag of canvass," said Barnstable, gloomily; addressing the cockswain, who, with folded arms, and an air of cool resignation, was balancing his body on the verge of the quarter deck, while the schooner was plunging madly into waves that nearly buried her in their bosom; " the poor little thing trembles like a frightened child, as she meets the water.”
• Tom sighed heavily, and shook his head, before he answered
<" If we could have kept the head of the mainmast an hour longer, we might have got an offing, and fetched to windward of the shoals ; but, as it is, sir, mortal man can't drive a craft to windward—she sets bodily in to land, and will be in the breakers in less than an hour, unless God wills that the winds shall cease to blow.",
As the only means of safety, it was determined to anchor, and cut away the masts,
When a dreadful cry arose among the men forward, and which sounded with increased horror, amid the roaring of the tempest. The schooner rose on the breast of a wave at the same instant, and, falling off with her broad side to the sea, she drove in towards the cliffs, like a bubble on the rapids of a cataract.'
The cockswain called to the men,
"" Look out—secure yourselves !” and at that instant the Ariel settled on a wave, that melted from under her, heavily on the rocks. The shock was so violent, as to throw all who disregarded the warning cry from their feet, and the universal quiver, that pervaded the vessel, was like the last shudder of animated nature. Vol. II. pp. 95–102.
The scene is sustained to the end with unabated power ; the more remarkable passages of which are no doubt fresh in the recollection of our readers, such as Dillon's being driven back from attempting to get into the boat, by the threatening looks of the men; long Tom's seating himself on the heel of the bowsprit, refusing to join his shipmates in the boat, and expressing, with a terrible composure, his resolution to die in the Ariel, which he considered to be his coffin, and saying, • God's will be done, I saw the first timber of the Ariel laid, and shall live just long enough to see it torn out of her bottom, after which, I wish to live no longer ;' his seeing, after the boat was dashed in pieces on the rocks, the heads and arms of the men, at short intervals, rising on the waves, some of them sinking, while others were making well directed efforts to gain the sands; his hearing the hollow sound under the deck of the Ariel, which he said to Dillon, was *the poor thing herself giving her last groan; the water is
Nero Series, No. 18. 42
breaking up her decks,'—and the final yielding of the wreck to the overwhelming waters, when its fragments, together with the body of the cockswain, were swept away and scattered in the tumult of the waters. The cockswain considered drowning to be, as to himself, a natural death, which his habits of life made him choose, as old soldiers often prefer to die on the field of battle, rather than upon a featherbed, and as Nelson chose to die on board of his ship in the midst of an engagement. The author seems to consider the drowning of Dillon to be in the nature of an execution, for which he had taken care to qualify him, and to which the reader is well enough reconciled. He also readily sympathises with Barnstable and Merry, in their regret for the loss of the cockswain. Merry contributes greatly to the interest and beauty of the scene on shore; he is a very happily conceived character, and is well supported throughout the story.
Those, who were saved from the wreck of the schooner, are, as was to be expected, brought to the residence of the old refugee, whence, after some plots, surprises, and adverse incidents, all the surviving persona dramatis, excepting Boroughcliffe and Alice Dunscombe, are, by the sudden appearance of the pilot, brought safely off, and embarked on board of the frigate. Whatever may be said in defence of the propriety of the quarrel between Griffith and Barnstable, we mean its consistency with the characters given to the two, and its probability, under the circumstances related, it certainly gives a rude shock to the interest in Barnstable, before excited in the reader. As far as this incident is made the occasion of showing off Cecilia Howard, we do not think it of much importance; but the other use made of it, in the reconciliation of the two lieutenants after the subsequent battle, is natural and happy, and justifies forcing circumstances a little in order to introduce it, if this could not be otherwise done. The murmurings and jokes of the men, as they are marching to the shore, even admitting them to be both characteristic and true, as they indeed seem to be, have hardly enough in them to recommend them to the reader.
The death of long Tom would have been a sore calamity to the reader, had not Boltrope survived, with whom he is now made more particularly acquainted, and who now supplies the place in the dialogue, action, and interest of the story, which, but for some such successor, would have been left vacant by the death of the cockswain. We shall not be understood to say, that the two characters are alike. The conversation between Boltrope and the chaplain, as they are waiting in the cutter for the party to come off shore, is admirably well sustained. Boltrope has a mortal aversion to knee-breeches, which, as he imagines, constitute a part of the devil's costume.
On seeing the two ladies coming on board, Boltrope says, 'I should as soon have expected to see Mr Barnstable come off with a live ox in his boat, as a petticoat! The Lord only knows what the ship is coming to next.
What between cocked hats and epaulettes, and other knee-buckle matters, she was a sort of noman’s-land before, and now, what with the women and their bandboxes, they 'll make another Noah's ark of her. I wonder they didn't all come on board in a coach and six, or a one horse chay.' Vol. II. p. 231.
As one more specimen of the sailing master's character, after the bustle of embarking, the drinking, the songs, jests and laughter of the men had gradually subsided, and they were one after another bestowing themselves, some upon deck and some below, with such preparation for comfortable rest as their narrow accommodations would permit,
Boltrope groped his way into the hold among the seamen, where, kicking one of the most fortunate of the men from his birth, he established himself in his place, with all that cool indifference to the other's comfort, that had grown with his experience, from the time when he was treated thus cavalierly in his own person, to the present moment.' Vol. II. p. 233.
The next morning is gorgeously ushered in. The first appearance of the American frigate, as seen in the distance, from the cutter; the bank of fog, the cutter stretching away towards the fog and gradually disappearing ; and the English frigate showing remotely a small white sail above the horizon, and the man of war rushing, all at once, into full view from the fog bank, are all well imagined ; and the subsequent chase, the battles with the frigates, and the death of Boltrope, are among the finest passages in the book.
In the quotations we have made, we have, for the sake of conciseness, in some instances selected detached sentences, and even parts of sentences, and should thus have done the author injustice, had we not been writing for readers, who are already acquainted with the story.
In regard to the style of execution, the work has one fault which was mentioned in our notice of the Spy ; it is in some instances, and more especially where the author speaks in his own person, overloaded with epithets, and the detail of particular circuinstances. The author leaves too little to his readers, and from his solicitude to omit nothing of the quality, degree, and manner of everything related or described, he impairs the vivacity and force of the expression. Some few passages are perhaps a little too harsh, as, in the battle, one buries his weapon in the heart of one of the enemy ;' so long Tom pinned the English captain to the mast with his harpoon.' We do not think that the agonies of Dillon, in drowning, are too palpably given, the reader being reconciled to the exhibition of them, by the hatred and loathing he had before conceived towards the creature. But without some good reason of this sort, a vivid display of extreme physical suffering, ghastly objects, or horrid cruelty, are more shocking than interesting. Such descriptions do not require great skill in a writer; they may, however, be introduced with great effect, where the reader is fully prepared for them.
This, like the preceding stories of the author, is thoroughly American ; in one respect too much so; as, for one instance, where colonel Howard is said to take a little time,
to remove the perspiring effects of the unusual toil from his features ; a sort of writing, which is too much in use with us, and may be said, perhaps, to constitute a national characteristic of our literature, if there be such a thing. No doubt some readers have a liking for passages of this sort,—the more's the pity.' But this is the only national characteristic of the work, which does not add to its beauty and interest, as well as its importance. The choice of incidents and actors, and the frequent allusions to our history, manners, and habits, make the story strike deep into the feelings of American readers; and by implicating the tale with our naval history, the author possesses himself of one of the few positions from which our national enthusiasm is accessible. We are in general a cautious, prudent people, quite as ready to calculate as to feel, and quite as much disposed to study good economy, as to be borne away, regardless whither, by a tor