Journal Dec. 25. On the fourth day I was rejoiced to find myself able to read, though lying in my berth. Previously my time had passed without the relief which this at once afforded. Chancellor Kent had been kind enough to advise me to take a stock of pleasant books, and I had provided myself with some on the morning of sailing. I read the fourth and fifth parts of Lockhart's ‘Life of Scott,’ James's novel of ‘Attila,’ Cooper's ‘England,’ and the ‘Life of Burr,’ while stretched in my berth; and never were books a greater luxury: they were friends and companions where I was, in a degree, friendless and companionless. At the end of the first week I was able, with some ado, to appear at the dinner-table. I know no feeling which, in a small way, is keener than for a man disabled by the weakness rather than the nausea of sea-sickness, with his appetite returning upon him like a Bay of Fundy tide, to lie in his berth and hear the clatter of plates and the merry voices of his fellow-passengers, as they attacked a turkey or a duck, and as another cork briskly left the bottle. Our dinners I found quite pleasant. Our company was small,— Mr. John Munroe, a young merchant going to establish himself in Paris; Mr. Darlington, a midshipman on leave of absence for his health; M. Vasseur, a young Frenchman returning home after upwards of a year's absence; and a young man, a brother of the captain. And though with none of these did I have any particular sympathy,–any thing, indeed, which under other circumstances would have led to more than a passing acquaintance,—yet I found them uniformly pleasant; and our dinners, between four and five o'clock in the afternoon, formed the reunions of the day. Several times after dinner I revived my old and forgotten knowledge, first gained in college and with college abandoned, of whist and chess.1 A walk on the ever-wet deck, a talk with the captain, a hand at cards or at the chess-board, reading, and the study of French have occupied the week which has passed from the time of deserting my berth till now. Our passage has been somewhat rough; but that was expected from the season. We have, however, kept our course constantly, without being obliged to tack once. We are now in the English Channel, passing over the grave of the Spanish Armada. We have left Scilly and Lizard on our left, without however being able to catch a sight of them, and are now midway between the coasts of England and France. My mind has felt a thrill under the associations of these waters; it is my first experience of the rich memories of European history. On my left now are the chalky cliffs of England,—Plymouth, from which the Pilgrim ancestors of New England last started to come to our bleak places; also the Isle of Wight, consecrated by the imprisonment of the royal Charles; and the harbor of Portsmouth, big with the navies of England. On my right is la belle France and the smiling province of Normandy; and the waters which now bear this American ship are the same over which Caesar with his
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