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And if the Lady Abbess came, as she undoubtedly would, to drive me away, I would sing a note in her ear, more fearful than that of the death-watch in the chamber of the dying. For, aside from the mischievous energy with which she exercises her abbatical functions, she has a face and figure that can fear no change that may betide humanity, and which would justify the expenses and pains of a journey to the Temple of Helen, at Therapne. I shall never forgive her for thrusting her ugly hand between my lips and the fingers of the beautiful Maria, just as I was taking my last leave. She might at least have accorded me this last and delicate indulgence of affection, after having accepted of me, with evident emotions of delight, a dozen of the best Virginia hams that ever yet crossed the Atlantic. But I have ever observed, that a woman excessively ugly, is usually excessively perverse. It would seem as if she intended to retaliate the wrongs of nature indiscriminately upon her unoffending species. No one of my female readers, I am sure, will take an exception to this remark, or construe it into a personality; for, whatever facts might justify, her good opinion will prevent her ranking herself with the class to which it refers. As for the abbess of the convent of Santa Clara, I may yet perhaps have an opportunity of returning her ungrateful effrontery; for if we drop anchor at Madeira, on our return home, it may not be my fault if she has not one the less nun on whom to rivet the chain of her sanctimonious tyranny.
But to resume the thread of our nautical tale. The morning of our first day out was peculiarly brilliant and serene, promising us a quiet and pleasant passage. But toward evening, the wind chopped about directly in our teeth, and suddenly assumed the dark and formidable force of a gale; obliging us to take in sail, and heaving against us a heavy head sea. It was not less diverting than melancholy, to witness the effect produced by the rolling and plunging of our ship. We had come out sleek as if born and cradled in a bandbox. Not a bit of lint disfigured the coat or pantaloon; not a soil dimmed the reflecting surface of the boot; and the smooth corners of the shirt-collar, peering above the carefully-adjusted stock, shot forward like the ears of a rabbit listening to some rumpling sound ahead; when a saucy wave broke over our bows, sweeping the whole length of the ship, and all this starch and gloss went down, just as I have seen the feathers of an old family rooster, hieing from a drenching shower to his covert. Nor was the scene below less afflictive; for every thing that had not been previously secured, was now promiscuously moving about; some to maim you,
more, like ambition o’er leaping itself,' to knock out its own existence. My air-port, by some mistake, had been left open. The sea had now made a tunnel of it, and my state-room door being shut, my wardrobe and library, and — horribile dictu ! — my manuscripts, were drifting about in a most disastrous and drowning condition. My only anxiety was to save the latter, feeling how much would be irreparably lost to the world, in their destruction! I thought of the Alexandrian Library, and knowing water to be as fatal as fire, seized at once these invaluable treasures ; but was not a little mortified and vexed in finding them the most light and buoyant things in my apartment. Even a gauze bandkerchief sank at their side. No serious VOL. XI.
66 Mast-head Slumbers -- Vexatious Quarantine. [January,
"Wilt thou upon the high and giddy mast
Deny it to a king !'
I have done with quarantines ; nor will I trouble the reader with
the details of any more, though they should come thick and fast as the plagues of Egypt. I detest the whole system, and only wish that every species of moral wrong wore in my eyes an equally repulsive and abhorred aspect. I wonder our universal restorationist, instead of transporting a spirit at once from a place of utter pollution to one of immaculate purity, never thought of putting him in quarantine, not only as a farther punishment, but as a salutary precaution on the part of heaven. It would have a greater check on me, than
any thing which now enters into their purgatorial fiction. And I must say, of all fictions that ever yet insulted the common sense of mankind, in the shape of a religious creed, I consider this the most unqualifiedly absurd. As if the companionship of devils, and a communion with the damned, could fit a man for the fellowship of angels, and of the spirits of just men made perfect! As if the blasphemies of hell could attune his spirit to the seraphic harmonies of heaven! Let him gather to himself all the sanctity, virtue, and meekness, that ever did, or ever can, without a contradiction of terms, enter that region of cursing, hate, and agony, it cannot fit him for heaven, nor, by any conceivable possibility, render him happy, if admitted there. He would be a stranger among strangers; abashed at his own conscious unfitness for the place, he would fain hide himself from the pure presence of those around. Heaven might shake with the swelling anthem of the redeemed, but not a chord in his breast would vibrate. He would stand amid the transcendant glories of that upper world, lone and desolate, as a tree scathed and riven by lightning, amid the living verdures of an earthly landscape.
I leave this topic, though it has that within it which might justify a volume ; yet honestly, it has nothing to do with my neglected narrative. I have generally refrained from topics of a religious nature, not, I trust, from a want of interest in them, but for reasons which I shall assign, if need be, in another place. I do not seek an exemption, on this or any other subject, from a reasonable responsibility; or conceive that because I am four thousand miles from home, I am any the less accountable to the religious and moral sense of the country where I was born, and where I hope to die. Nor will I, as some of the antagonists of religion have done, charge a masked battery, and engage another to fire it off, when I am under the shelter of the grave. Infidelity has often been driven to this miserable shift; thus developing two of those qualities which most witheringly disgrace human nature - a deep, disingenuous malignity, and a skulking cowardice.
We were now on shore in Toulon, casting about to see what it might contain worthy of the pains we had taken. The arsenal has in effective operation all the intentions of its gigantic plan; and exhibits a mass of waiting force, worthy of the interests which look to it for protection, and worthy, too, of its connexion with the spot where Bonaparte first impressed the terrors of his genius on the power of England. The French excel in the model of their ships, in every thing which belongs to naval architecture; and if they could only fight a ship, as well as they can build her, their flag would now be flying over many a deck that has passed to the hands of the stran. ger. Their failure lies not in a want of courage, but in the absence of that thorough, rigid, dove-tailed discipline, which nearly divests the moral mechanism of a ship of individual volition. This surrender of private will and judgment is not so indispensable to success in an engagement on land; for there, a man hacks away more for himself; he has more scope for that shouting, cutting and slashing enthusiasm, which in such a situation perhaps more than compensates for the absence of consentaneous, constrained, action; but which on board a man-of-war, by the derangements it would introduce into the consecutive means by which each gun is to be discharged, and each evolution of the ship effected, would, perhaps more than any thing else, contribute to her capture. This is the reason why the French, who can conquer on the land, are defeated at sea. The spirit which covers them with laurels in their military, plunders them of their flag in their naval engagements. Divest an army composed of Frenchmen, of that personal, private, reckless enthusiasm, which blindly mingles its own impulses with the national honor; which would rush with as little hesitancy over the breast of a fallen friend, as the body of a foe, and which cuts its own way to preferment and plunder, and you would deprive it of all its efficiency; you would take from it the sinews of its strength; you would reduce it to an inert, impotent mass.
The harbor of Toulon affords a quiet and safe anchorage; while the sweeping lines of its shore swell into lofty and picturesque elevations. The town itself has a forbidding, heavy appearance, given it by the dull character of its architecture, and the massive military works which render it impregnable.
The streets are narrow and foul, but their darkness and dirt are relieved by a broad, brilliant quay, two or three comfortable hotels, the complaisant demeanor of the inhabitants, and above all, the sweet refreshing retreats which the adjacent country presents. Among the latter, Hieres takes the precedence. It has no antiquities to stir your imagination, although it was the spot from which pilgrims to the Holy Land took their departure ; but it is filled with ambrosial shade, and it contains among other habitations, that in which Massillon was born; he who stood like a warning angel in the voluptuous court of Louis the Fourteenth. Here, also, among more recent fabrics, stands the beautiful chateau of Baron Shultz, one of the very few who ever earned a title of nobility, by the dexterity and industry of the needle. Some affect to sneer at his ribands; but I do not see why a tailor has not as good a right to cut out a baronetcy with his shears, as a trooper with his sword; for of the two, it is vastly the more feasible mode of getting a title ; it does infinitely less injury to society; and after all, displays more skill; for it is much easier to put a sword through a man's body, than to fit nicely a coat to his back. None of this partiality, therefore! Let every man become a baron, a marquis, or a duke, in his own way. No longer confine these brilliant honors to the successful sabre of a cutthroat, or the lineality of one incapable, perhaps, of comprehending their import.
We now returned on board ship, and with much less annoyance than some of us experienced in getting on shore; for the agents of
the custom-house here are extremely rigorous in the discharge of their inquisitorial trust. If man has not an epaulette on his shoulder, or a cockade on his hat, even his pockets will hardly escape the disbonor of a search. Nor is the inspection always confined to the living; it sometimes extends to the dead! We had occasion to bury one of our crew here; and as we came on shore to pay him this last sad office of respect, his coffin was unceremoniously opened, to ascertain that it contained no contraband goods! I always knew the French to be an extremely shrewd and inquisitive people, but I did not suppose they would ever carry their researches into the secrets of the grave. O Death! I have heard thee accused by some of being an inexorable tyrant; by others of being an indiscriminate leveller; but never before, by saint, by savage or by sage,' have I heard thee accused of being a smuggler! And even if thou wert such, what couldst thou want of aught that our poor ship contained ? Wast thou in quest of pea-jackets and tarpaulins? But thy sailors never go on watch ; each in his hammock still slumbers as he laid himself down. Or wast thou in need of charts or quadrants ? But thy ships never leave their moorings; each rots down piecemeal in its own berth. Or was it thy desire to obtain Bibles and hymn-books ? But there is no worshipping assembly in thy dominions, and the preacher's voice is never heard there. O Death! thou art falsely suspected, and basely dishonored, by the Frenchman! — by him, too, who should ever regard thee with the most indulgent sentiments ; for he has crowded millions of putrid corses upon thy domains. From the chilling snows of Russia, to the burning sands of Egypt, he has sunk his victims into thy pale realm, thick as the devoted quails that fell for food around the famishing tents of wandering Israel !
I had intended to sketch a few of the most easily-detected features in the domestic habits of the people of Toulon ; but this affair of the coffin, which will be discredited by many, but which can be established by the oath of fifty witnesses, has so disaffected me with the place, I leave it without farther comment. I only hope it may not be my mournful lot to die here, to be insulted in my shroud. The most deeply-wounding and irreparable wrong, is that which falsely suspects the dying; and the most mean and dishonorable distrust, is that which looks for selfish, sinister concealments, beneath the simple obsequies of the dead.
As on the parching bosom of the plain