« AnteriorContinuar »
(CANTO II. xxiv-liii)
THE ship, call'd the most holy Trinidada,'
Were settled long ere Juan's sire was born:
His suite consisted of three servants and
But now lay sick and speechless on his pillow,
His headache being increased by every billow; And the waves oozing through the port-hole made His berth a little damp, and him afraid.
'Twas not without some reason, for the wind Increased at night, until it blew a gale; And though 'twas not much to a naval mind,
Some landsmen would have look'd a little pale, For sailors are, in fact, a different kind:
At sunset they began to take in sail,
At one o'clock the wind with sudden shift
Threw the ship right into the trough of the sea,
One gang of people instantly was put
Upon the pumps, and the remainder set
Still their salvation was an even bet:
Into the opening; but all such ingredients
Would have been vain, and they must have gone
Despite of all their efforts and expedients,
But for the pumps: I'm glad to make them known To all the brother tars who may have need hence, For fifty tons of water were upthrown
By them per hour, and they all had been undone,
As day advanced the weather seem'd to abate,
Kept two hand and one chain-pump still in use. The wind blew fresh again: as it grew late
A squall came on, and while some guns broke loose, A gust-which all descriptive power transcends— Laid with one blast the ship on her beam ends.
There she lay, motionless, and seem'd upset;
The water left the hold, and wash'd the decks, And made a scene men do not soon forget;
For they remember battles, fires, and wrecks, Or any other thing that brings regret,
Or breaks their hopes, or hearts, or heads, or necks; Thus drownings are much talk'd of by the divers, And swimmers, who may chance to be survivors.
Immediately the masts were cut away,
Both main and mizen: first the mizen went, The main-mast follow'd; but the ship still lay Like a mere log, and baffled our intent.
Foremast and bowsprit were cut down, and they
Was going on, some people were unquiet,
Days nearly o'er, might be disposed to riot,
Some plunder'd, some drank spirits, some sung psalms,
Of all the luckless landsmen's sea-sick maws: Strange sounds of wailing, blasphemy, devotion, Clamour'd in chorus to the roaring ocean.
Perhaps more mischief had been done, but for
It with a pair of pistols; and their fears,
Of fire than water, spite of oaths and tears, Kept still aloof the crew, who, ere they sunk, Thought it would be becoming to die drunk.
Give us more grog,' they cried, for it will be All one an hour hence.' Juan answer'd, 'No! 'Tis true that death awaits both you and me,
But let us die like men, not sink below Like brutes: '-and thus his dangerous post kept he, And none liked to anticipate the blow; And even Pedrillo, his most reverend tutor, Was for some rum a disappointed suitor.
The good old gentleman was quite aghast,
Irrevocable vow of reformation;
Nothing should tempt him more (this peril past)
But now there came a flash of hope once more;
Their desperate efforts seem'd all useless grown,
And for the moment it had some effect; But with a leak, and not a stick of mast,
Nor rag of canvas, what could they expect? But still 'tis best to struggle to the last,
'Tis never too late to be wholly wreck'd: And though 'tis true that man can only die once, 'Tis not so pleasant in the Gulf of Lyons.
The ship would swim an hour, which, by good luck,
There winds and waves had hurl'd them, and from thence,
Without their will, they carried them away;
On which they might repose, or even commence
The wind, in fact, perhaps, was rather less,
But the ship labour'd so, they scarce could hope To weather out much longer; the distress
Was also great with which they had to cope
For want of water, and their solid mess
Was scant enough: in vain the telescope Was used-nor sail nor shore appear'd in sight, Nought but the heavy sea, and coming night.
Again the weather threaten'd,—again blew
A gale, and in the fore and after hold
All this, the most were patient, and some bold,
Of all our pumps :-a wreck complete she roll'd,
Then came the carpenter, at last, with tears
That made his eyelids as a woman's be,
And long had voyaged through many a stormy sea, And if he wept at length, they were not fears
The ship was evidently settling now
Fast by the head; and, all distinction gone,
Of candles to their saints-but there were none
Getting the boats out, being well aware That a tight boat will live in a rough sea, Unless with breakers close beneath her lee.
Some lash'd them in their hammocks; some put on
And gnash'd their teeth, and, howling, tore their hair; And others went on as they had begun,