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A Sea Piece
"The next day we joined the regiment, which was soon after to embark. Nothing
but mirth and jollity were in the countenance of every officer and soldier; and as I
now met several friends whom I had not seen for above a year before, I passed
several happy hours, in which poor Amelia's image seldom obtruded itself to
interrupt my pleasure. To confess the truth, dear Miss Matthews, the tenderest of
passions is capable of subsiding; nor is absence from our dearest friends so
unsupportable as it may at first appear. Distance of time and place do really cure
what they seem to aggravate; and taking leave of our friends resembles taking
leave of the world; concerning which it hath been often said that it is not death,
but dying, which is terrible."-- Here Miss Matthews burst into a fit of laughter, and
cried, "I sincerely ask your pardon; but I cannot help laughing at the gravity of
your philosophy." Booth answered, That the doctrine of the passions had been
always his favourite study; that he was convinced every man acted entirely from
that passion which was uppermost. "Can I then think," said he, "without
entertaining the utmost contempt for myself, that any pleasure upon earth could
drive the thoughts of Amelia one instant from my mind?
"At length we embarked aboard a transport, and sailed for Gibraltar; but the wind,
which was at first fair, soon chopped about; so that we were obliged, for several
days, to beat to windward, as the sea phrase is. During this time the taste which I
had of a seafaring life did not appear extremely agreeable. We rolled up and
down in a little narrow cabbin, in which were three officers, all of us extremely
sea-sick; our sickness being much aggravated by the motion of the ship, by the
view of each other, and by the stench of the men. But this was but a little taste
indeed of the misery which was to follow; for we were got about six leagues to
the westward of Scilly, when a violent storm arose at north-east, which soon
raised the waves to the height of mountains. The horror of this is not to be
adequately described to those who have never seen the like. The storm began in
the evening, and, as the clouds brought on the night apace, it was soon entirely
dark; nor had we, during many hours, any other light than what was caused by
the jarring elements, which frequently sent forth flashes, or rather streams of fire;
and whilst these presented the most dreadful objects to our eyes, the roaring of
the winds, the dashing of the waves against the ship and each other, formed a
sound altogether as horrible for our ears; while our ship, sometimes lifted up, as
it were, to the skies, and sometimes swept away at once as into the lowest
abyss, seemed to be the sport of the winds and seas. The captain himself almost
gave up all for lost, and exprest his apprehension of being inevitably cast on the
rocks of Scilly, and beat to pieces. And now, while some on board were
addressing themselves to the Supreme Being, and others applying for comfort to
strong liquors, my whole thoughts were entirely engaged by my Amelia. A
thousand tender ideas crouded into my mind. I can truly say that I had not a