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lutely crept from his pavilion, and its luxurious comforts, to a point of rock a promontory - about half a mile off, from which he could see the ship. The mere sight of a human abode, though an abode of ruffians, comforted his panic. With the approach of daylight, the mysterious sounds ceased. Cock-crow there happened to be none, in those islands of the Gallapagos, or none in that particular island; though many cocks are heard crowing in the woods of America, and these, perhaps might be caught by spiritual senses; or the wood-cutter may be supposed, upon Hamlet's principle, either scenting the morning air, or catching the sounds of Christian matin-bells, from some dim convent, in the depth of American forests. However, so it was; the wood-cutter's axe began to intermit about the earliest approach of dawn; and, as 'light thickened' * it ceased entirely. At nine, ten, or eleven o'clock in the forenoon, the whole appeared to have been a delusion; but towards sunset, it revived in credit; during twilight it strengthened; and very soon afterwards, superstitious panic was again seated on her throne. Such were the fluctuations of the case. Meantime, Pink, sitting on his promontory in early dawn, and consoling his terrors, by looking away from the mighty woods to the tranquil ship, on board of which (in spite of her secret black flag) the whole crew, murderers and all, were sleeping peacefully he, a beautiful English boy, chased away to the Antipodes from one early home by his sense of wounded honor, and from his immediate home by superstitious fear, recalled to my mind an image and a situation that had been beautifully sketched by Miss Bannerman in 'Basil,' one of the striking (though, to rapid readers, somewhat unintelligible) metrical tales published about the beginning
*Light thickens.' - Macbeth.
of this century, under the name of Tales of Superstition and Chivalry. Basil is a 'rude sea-boy,' desolate and neglected from infancy, but with feelings profound from nature and fed by solitude. He dwells alone in a rocky cave; but, in consequence of some supernatural terrors connected with a murder, arising in some way, (not very clearly made out,) to trouble the repose of his home, he leaves it in horror, and rushes in the gray dawn to the sea-side rocks; seated on which he draws a sort of consolation for his terrors, or of sympathy with his wounded heart, from that mimicry of life which goes on for ever amongst the raving waves.
From the Gallapagos, Pink went often to Juan, (or, as he chose to call it, after Dampier and others, John) Fernandez. Very lately (December, 1837) the newspapers of Europe informed us, and the story was current for full nine days, that this fair island had been swallowed up by an earthquake; or, at least, that, in some way or other, it had disappeared. Had that story proved true, one pleasant bower would have perished raised by Pink as a memorial expression of his youthful feelings either towards De Foe, or his visionary creature Robinson Crusoe - but rather, perhaps, towards the substantial Alexander Selkirk; for it was raised on some spot known or reputed by tradition to have been one of those most occupied as a home by Selkirk. I say ' rather towards Alexander Selkirk;' for there is a difficulty to the judg ment in associating Robinson Crusoe with this lovely island of the Pacific, and a difficulty even to the fancy. Why, it is hard to guess, or through what perverse contradiction to the facts, De Foe chose to place the shipwreck of Robinson Crusoe upon the eastern side of the American continent. Now, not only was this in direct opposition to the realities of the case upon which he built,
as first reported (I believe) by Woodes Rogers, from the log-book of the Duke and Duchess (a privateer fitted out, to the best of my remembrance, by the Bristol merchants, two or three years before the Peace of Utrecht;) and so far the mind of any man acquainted with these circumstances was staggered, in attempting to associate this eastern wreck with this western island; but a worse obstacle than this, because a moral one, (and what, by analogy, to an error against time, which we call an anachronism, and, if against the spirit of time, a moral anachronism, we might here term a moral anatopism,) is this-that, by thus perversely transferring the scene from the Pacific to the Atlantic, De Foe has transferred it from a quiet and sequestered to a populous and troubled sea the Fleet Street or Cheapside of the navigating world, the great thoroughfare of nations and thus has prejudiced the moral sense and the fancy against his fiction still more inevitably than his judgment, and in a way that was perfectly needless; for the change brought along with it no shadow of compensation.
My brother's wild adventures amongst these desperate sea-rovers were afterwards communicated in long letters to a female relative; and, even as letters, apart from the fearful burthen of their contents, I can bear witness that they had very extraordinary merit. This, in fact, was the happy result of writing from his heart; feeling profoundly what he communicated, and anticipating the profoundest sympathy with all that he uttered from her whom he addressed. A man of business, who opened some of these letters, in his character of agent for my brother's five guardians, and who had not any special interest in the affair, assured me that, throughout the whole course of his life, he had never read anything so affecting, from the facts they contained, and from the
sentiments which they expressed; above all, the yearning for that England which he remembered as the land of his youthful pleasures, but also of his youthful degradations. Three of the guardians were present at the reading of these letters, and were all affected to tears, notwithstanding they had been irritated to the uttermost by the course which both myself and my brother had pursued; a course which seemed to argue some defect of judg ment, or of reasonable kindness, in themselves. These letters, I hope, are still preserved; though they have been long removed from my control. Thinking of them, and their extraordinary merit, I have often been led to believe that every post-town, and many times in the course of a month, carries out numbers of beautifully written letters, and more from women than from men; not that men are to be supposed less capable of writing good letters; and, in fact, amongst all the celebrated letter-writers of past or present times, a large overbalance happens to have been men; but that more frequently women write from their hearts; and the very same cause operates to make female letters good, which operated at one period to make the diction of Roman ladies more pure than that of orators or professional cultivators of the Roman language -and which, at another period, in the Byzantine Court, operated to preserve the purity of the mother idiom within the nurseries and the female drawing-rooms of the palace, whilst it was corrupted in the forensic standards, and the academic-in the standards of the pulpit and the throne.
With respect to Pink's yearning for England, that had been partially gratified in some part of his long exile: twice, as we learned long afterwards, he had landed in England; but such was his haughty adherence to his purpose, and such his consequent terror of being discov
ered and reclaimed by his guardians, that he never attempted to communicate with any of his brothers or sisters. There he was wrong; me they should have cut to pieces before I would have betrayed him. I, like him, had been an obstinate recusant to what I viewed as unjust pretensions of authority; and, having been the first to raise the standard of revolt, had been taxed by my guardians with having seduced Pink by my example. But that was untrue; Pink acted for himself. However, he could know little of all this; and he traversed England twice, without making an overture towards any communication with his friends. Two circumstances of these journeys he used to mention; both were from the port of London (for he never contemplated London but as a port) to Liverpool; or, thus far I may be wrong, that one of the two might be (in the return order) from Liverpool to London. On the first of these journeys his route lay through Coventry; on the other, through Oxford and
* And here may be a fit place for mentioning a case of equal obstinacy, more worthy to be admired than mine, because without a shadow of self-interest to support it. When I quitted school in the manner recorded in the Confessions of an English Opium Eater,' I left a large trunk behind me. This, knowing that I had not time to send it off before me, I confided to the care of a boy one class below me; but, by thoughtfulness and premature dignity of manner, on a level with any class. Immediately after my elopement was made known, this trunk was reclaimed by my guardians. They were men of weight even in that large town. The carrier was alarmed; resisted at first; but soon afterwards, suspecting that all the energy and the purse would be on one side, he showed symptoms of wavering; and, doubtless, would have declared against my poor claims. But-and to this hour, thirty-six years distant, I feel gratitude at that critical moment, stepped forward this boy- this G-b-t, not perhaps much (if anything) above sixteen years old. In the face of all the menaces, planted with the carrier, lodged there, and registered, this boy held the carrier to his duty-challenged, defied him to swerve from it. And the issue was- that the carrier knocked under-the boy triumphed the trunk was sent I was saved from despair. This boy has since been Vice-Chancellor of Oxford.