Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Who'd Be A Sailor?

From "The Arethusa", by Frederick Chamier:

In such moments there are thoughts which steal over us and win us from ourselves; and those who have braved longest the perils of a sailor's life, feel most exquisitely the glory of the calm night, when the stars are reflected in the vast deep, and when the sea "takes the moods, and wears the colours of her mistress—the sky."

He who first perils his existence on this mighty and immense mass of waters experiences a solemn feeling of awe, of wonder —nay, often-times of fear. And yet, lost in the very magnificence of this image of eternity — this throne of the Invisible, man feels himself a prouder being, in the knowledge that the science of his fellow-creatures has taught him to explore its wondrous depths,—to steer uninjured by rocks or islands through its pathless desert, and to draw a higher and a better notion of the glory and divinity of his Maker by the never-ending wonders which are presented to him.

The poor in pocket and in mind, condemned from youth to age to toil, perhaps in the darkness of a mine, excavating the ore, and returning when oppressed with fatigue to the shed which serves him for shelter ; the mechanic, who from daylight to dark continues his labour in one city ; the husbandman, who ploughs the field and sows the seed, who reaps the harvest and who stacks the hay,— can never have that exalted notion of man, and of man's works, as he whose whole life is one scene of continued change ; who is associated today with the dark, sulky negro of the Gold Coast, —with the gay Frenchman to-morrow; who sees the pigmy race of Mexico or the giants of Patagonia,—much less can he form a just estimate of the power of the Divinity. The wonders of creation are to be seen in the ocean, and in the stupendous mountains of the Andes, or the still prouder Himalayas.

It is in sights like these that man is convinced of his own insignificance, and yet of his own power: it is when standing on the Andes, and seeing a city Like a speck, that he feels his vast inferiority. But he becomes conscious of the greatness of his intellect when he measures the heights above him with mathematical exactness, or looks for the moment — the well-calculated moment, when a comet shall return and be visible.

Oh the delight—the calm delight of pondering on such sublimity, supported by the still ocean! When the mind, in harmony with the scene, calmly surreys the greatness of the works of God.

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