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[403] the Skerries, and lay to. But the wind in the night became more violent, we drifted a good deal, and at last were obliged, about four o'clock in the morning, to get under way again. Still the pilot did not venture to approach the mouth of the river, but stood off and on, until he finally thought the danger of going in less than that of attempting to keep off, as the ship could not be expected to bear the canvas necessary to enable her to run to the northward. With a long tack, therefore, that made a fair wind of it, we drove for the port. But it was an appalling sight to see her cross the bar and rush up the river. It seemed now and then as if all its waters were swept together into mountainous heaps by the violence of the gale, so that we saw the bottom and its yellow sands; for while the wind carried us [under bare poles] twelve knots an hour, the tide carried us six more. The appearance of the river was very extraordinary indeed. Its waters are always yellow, and were now rendered doubly so by the turbidness which the violent wind gave to them; and as this wind, together with the tide, was driving so furiously up the stream, the river itself looked as if it were composed of moving heaps of sand, the very foundations of which we could see. The waves seemed higher than they do in a gale on the ocean, because they could be measured by objects on the shores; but they were not really so. The housetops on the river-bank were many of them studded with people, watching our fearful course up the river, and expecting to see us go ashore somewhere before their eyes. The weather was sometimes, for a moment, quite thick; if it had continued so for a quarter of an hour, the pilot could not have seen his landmarks, and we should have been sent instantly on some of the many shoals around us, where, as we were told afterwards, the fury of the tempest would have made a total wreck of us in a very few moments. It was, therefore, a glad, very glad moment, when, after twenty-six hours buffeting with the spirit of this storm, we placed our feet once more on the firm-set earth, just at twelve o'clock, midday, of Thursday the 25th of June.1 But for several days afterwards we continued to receive melancholy accounts of the disasters of others. Four fine vessels were lost, besides small craft; and among them a brig which we saw repeatedly during the day, and a very large ship, larger than our own,—which took the gale a good deal further to windward than we did, so that she had

1 Note by Mr. Ticknor: ‘Even at the last moment, when all other danger was over, we were within two minutes of being entirely wrecked, from the circumstance that both the anchors got foul; but if the worst had happened here, no lives would have been lost.’

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George Ticknor (1)
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