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who gave us the facts connected with all three we class a vessel among animals»-said they were so certain, that we might safely swear they were absolutely true. If we are in error, it is a misfortune we share in common with honest Panza, and that, too, on a subject about equal, in moment, to the one in which he was misled.
After all, the world hears little, and knows less, of the infinity of details that make up the sum of the incidents of the sea. Historians glean a few prom- . inent circumstances, connected perhaps with battles, treaties, shipwrecks, or chases, and the rest is left a blank to the great bulk of the human race. It has been well said, that the life of every man, if simply and clearly related, would be found to contain a fund of useful and entertaining information ; and it is equally true, that the day of every ship would furnish something of interest to relate, could the dry records of the log-book be given in the graphic language of observation and capacity. A ship, alone, in the solitude of the ocean, is an object for reflection, and a source of poetical, as well as of moral feeling; and as we seldom tire of writing about her, we have more than a sympathetic desire, that they who do us the honour to form a sort of literary clientelle, will never tire of reading.
Our chief concern,
present occasion, is on the subject of the contrast we have attempted to draw between profound belief and light-hearted infidelity. We think both pictures true to the periods
and the respective countries, and we have endeavoured to draw both with due relief, and totally without exaggeration. That strong natural sympathies can exist between those who are widely separated on such a subject, every day's experience proves; and that some are to be found in whom principle is stronger than even the most insinuating and deceptive of all our passions, we not only hope, but trustfully believe. We have endeavoured to assign the higher and most enduring quality to that portion of the race, in which we are persuaded it is the most likely to be found.
This is the seventh sea-tale we have ventured to offer to the public. When the first was written, our friends confidently predicted its failure, on account of the meagreness of the subject, as well as of its disagreeable accompaniments. Not only did that prediction prove untrue, as to our own humble effort, but the public taste has lasted sufficiently long to receive, from other quarters, a very respectable progeny of that parent of this class of writing. We only hope that, in the present instance, there may be found a sufficient family resemblance, to allow of this particular bantling to pass in the crowd, as one of a numerous family.
* Filled with the face of heaven, which from afar,
With a new colour as it gasps away,
The charms of the Tyrrhenian Sea have been sung
since the days of Homer. That the Mediterranean, generally, and its beautiful boundaries of Alps and Apennines, with its deeply indented and irregular shores, forms the most delightful region of the known earth, in all that relates to climate, productions, and physical formation, will be readily enough conceded by the traveller. The countries that border on this midland water, with their promontories buttressing a mimic ocean—their mountain-sides teeming with the picturesque of human life
their heights crowned with watchtowers—their rocky shelves consecrated by hermitages, and their unrivalled sheet dotted with sails, rigged, as it might be, expressly to produce effect in a picture, form a sort of world apart, that is replete with delights to all who have the happy fortune to feel charms, which not only fascinate the beholder, but which linger in the memories of the absent like visions of a glorious past.
Our present business is with this fragment of a creation that is so eminently beautilul, even in its worst aspects, but
which is so often marred by the passions of man, in its best. While all admit how much nature has done for the Mediterranean, none will deny that, until quite recently, it has been the scene of more ruthless violence, and of decper personal wrongs, perhaps, than any other portion of the globe. With different races, more widely separated by destinies, than even by origin, habits and religion, occupying its northern and southern shores, the outwork, as it might be, of Christianity and Mohammedanism, and of an antiquity that defies history, the bosom of this blue expanse has mirrored more violence, has witnessed more scenes of slaughter, and heard more shouts of victory, between the days of Agamemnon and Nelson, than all the rest of the dominions of Neptune together. Nature and the passions have united to render it like the human countenance, which conceals by its smiles and godlike expression, the furnace that so often glows within the heart, and the volcano that consumes our happiness. For centuries, the Turk and the Moor rendered it unsase for the European to navigate these smiling coasts; and when the barbarian's power temporarily ceased, it was merely to give place to the struggles of those who drove him from the arena by their larger resources.
The circumstances which rendered the period that occurred between the years 1790 and 1815, the most eventful of modern times, are familiar to all; though the incidents which chequered that memorable quarter of a century, have already passed into history. All the elements of strise that then agitated the world, appear now to have subsided as completely as if they owed their existence to a remote age; and living men recall the events of their youth, as they regard the recorded incidents of other centuries. Then, each month brought its defeat, or its victory ; its account of a government overturned, or of a province conquered. The world was agitated like men in a tumult. On that epoch the timid look back with wonder; the young, with doubt; and the restless, with envy.
The years 1798 and 1799 were two of the most memorable of this ever-memorable period; and to that stirring and teeming season we must carry the mind of the reader, in order to place it in the midst of the scenes it is our object to portray.