An enthusiastic desire of visiting the Old World haunted me from early childhood. I cherished a presentiment, amounting almost to belief, that I should one day behold the scenes, among which my fancy had so long wandered. The want of means was for a time a serious check to my anticipations; but I could not content myself to wait until I had slowly accumulated so large a sum as tourists usually spend on their travels. It seemed to me that a more humble method of seeing the world would place within the power of almost every one, what has hitherto been deemed the privilege of the wealthy few. Such a journey, too, offered advantages for becoming acquainted with people as well as places—for observing more intimately, the effect of government and education, and more than all, for the study of human nature, in every condition of life. At length I became possessed of a small sum, to be earned by letters descriptive of things abroad, and on the 1st of July, 1844, set sail for Liverpool, with a relative and friend, whose circumstances were somewhat similar to mine. How far the success of the experiment and the object of our long pilgrimage were attained, these pages will show.
* * * * *
Land and sea.
There are springs that rise
in the greenwood’s heart,
Where its leafy glooms are cast,
And the branches droop in the solemn air,
Unstirred by the sweeping blast.
There are hills that lie in the noontide calm,
On the lap of the quiet earth;
And, crown’d with gold by the ripened grain,
Surround my place of birth.
Dearer are these to my pining
Than the beauty of the deep,
When the moonlight falls in a bolt of gold
On the waves that heave in sleep.
The rustling talk of the clustered leaves
That shade a well-known door,
Is sweeter far than the booming sound
Of the breaking wave before.
When night on the ocean sinks
I climb the vessel’s prow,
Where the foam-wreath glows with its phosphor light,
Like a crown on a sea-nymph’s brow.
Above, through the lattice of rope and spar,
The stars in their beauty burn;
And the spirit longs to ride their beams,
And back to the loved return.
They say that the sunset is
When it sinks behind the sea;
That the stars shine out with a softer fire—
Not thus they seem to me.
Dearer the flush of the crimson west
Through trees that my childhood knew.
When the star of love with its silver lamp,
Lights the homes of the tried and true!