The Un-Commercial Traveler
My journeys as Uncommercial Traveller for the firm of Human- Interest Brothers have
not slackened since I last reported of them, but have kept me continually on the move. I
remain in the same idle employment. I never solicit an order, I never get any commission,
I am the rolling stone that gathers no moss, - unless any should by chance be found
among these samples.
Some half a year ago, I found myself in my idlest, dreamiest, and least accountable
condition altogether, on board ship, in the harbour of the city of New York, in the United
States of America. Of all the good ships afloat, mine was the good steamship 'RUSSIA,'
CAPT. COOK, Cunard Line, bound for Liverpool. What more could I wish for?
I had nothing to wish for but a prosperous passage. My salad-days, when I was green of
visage and sea-sick, being gone with better things (and no worse), no coming event cast
its shadow before.
I might but a few moments previously have imitated Sterne, and said, '"And yet,
methinks, Eugenius," - laying my forefinger wistfully on his coat-sleeve, thus, - "and yet,
methinks, Eugenius, 'tis but sorry work to part with thee, for what fresh fields, . . . my
dear Eugenius, . . . can be fresher than thou art, and in what pastures new shall I find
Eliza, or call her, Eugenius, if thou wilt, Annie?"' - I say I might have done this; but
Eugenius was gone, and I hadn't done it.
I was resting on a skylight on the hurricane-deck, watching the working of the ship very
slowly about, that she might head for England. It was high noon on a most brilliant day in
April, and the beautiful bay was glorious and glowing. Full many a time, on shore there,
had I seen the snow come down, down, down (itself like down), until it lay deep in all the
ways of men, and particularly, as it seemed, in my way, for I had not gone dry-shod many
hours for months. Within two or three days last past had I watched the feathery fall
setting in with the ardour of a new idea, instead of dragging at the skirts of a worn-out
winter, and permitting glimpses of a fresh young spring. But a bright sun and a clear sky
had melted the snow in the great crucible of nature; and it had been poured out again that
morning over sea and land, transformed into myriads of gold and silver sparkles.
The ship was fragrant with flowers. Something of the old Mexican passion for flowers
may have gradually passed into North America, where flowers are luxuriously grown,
and tastefully combined in the richest profusion; but, be that as it may, such gorgeous
farewells in flowers had come on board, that the small officer's cabin on deck, which I
tenanted, bloomed over into the adjacent scuppers, and banks of other flowers that it
couldn't hold made a garden of the unoccupied tables in the passengers' saloon. These
delicious scents of the shore, mingling with the fresh airs of the sea, made the atmosphere
a dreamy, an enchanting one. And so, with the watch aloft setting all the sails, and with
the screw below revolving at a mighty rate, and occasionally giving the ship an angry
shake for resisting, I fell into my idlest ways, and lost myself.