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EMBARKATION AT VENICE.
rigours of the sanitary laws. Since my embarkation I am myself considered as one infected with the plague. This letter will be taken up with pincers, and put into a tin box, and it will come to you stabbed, sprinkled with vinegar, and fumigated.
I left Venice at seven in the morning. The admiralty gondola came to my hotel to fetch me. The captain of the port had kindly caused such necessaries as I should want for the voyage to be purchased for me. ceeded to the lazaretto, a short league from Venice, and then went on board the ship. The Austrian flag was hoisted on my approach. I was received by the captain, the mate, and the crew.
Before I quitted Venice, I went to the cathedral: the church was not yet open; twenty poor people were waiting at the gate. Being obliged to pray afar off, I called to mind the publican in the Gospel, and said like him : “ Lord have mercy upon me, a sinner.”
The wind has just shifted : it is directly contrary; we cannot weigh anchor, and the pilots cannot take us out of the channel.
Six in the evening. The wind is still contrary. I am on deck, with the glass to my eye. Venice is before me; Venice, of yore, queen of the sea, now widowed and unmindful of her past glory, but still beautiful and superb notwithstanding her fall. One ought to read, in view of Venice, some of those funeral dirges of the prophets over Tyre and Sidon, queens too of old of the seas and of the nations.
We are nearly on the spot where, not long since, was
performed a magnificent ceremony, when the doge espoused the Adriatic Sea. The gilded Bucentaur conveyed the husband to his stormy consort, whose fidelity he thought to secure by throwing a ring into her bosom.
September 7th. The wind is favourable for us, and I conclude. Adieu, my dear friend; when you receive this letter, I shall be far away from you. Adieu, adieu ! Formerly that word produced within me a painful, a poignant feeling: now my heart has comprehended the signification of adieu : it is to God (à Dieu) that I commend you, that I commit you, and I am easy. And you too, my dear friend, you are saying to me adieu ; and that word refreshes my heart, for you love me in God. Only, in case you should hear of my death in a foreign land, pray for me : the friendship of the Christian is eternal.
DEPARTURE PROM THE CAANNEL-Religious INDIPPERENCE-NATIVITY
Larnaca, Island of Cyprus,
October 15, 1831. My dear friend, here you have, in the first place, my journal since our departure from Venice.
September 7th. The wind, as I told you in my last, having become favourable, we stood out of the channel.
Our crew consists of Captain Ragazzi, the mate, and ten sailors, including the cabin-boy, all Venetians. I perceived from the first moment a certain indifference for the observances of religion; there were no general prayers, so customary on board Italian vessels. The cabin-boy, however, cried in the evening : “Light the lamps, put out the fire, in the name of Jesus and his blessed Mother, our queen; may she conduct us safely into port! Health, liberty in this voyage, as well as in all those that we shall perform, God willing; a Pater and an Ave for the souls in purgatory, and for our prosperous voyage.” The crew listened with respect, but that was all.
I bluntly made my remarks to the captain on this subject. He replied that, formerly, the Litanies were recited every evening; but that, having observed that one or two of his men had turned that practice into ridicule, he had given it up. I made him sensible that this was no reason for relinquishing so pious a custom, adding: “To-morrow, the anniversary of the nativity of the Blessed Virgin, I will begin to read them till our arrival in Cyprus, and not a man shall dare to turn them into ridicule."
8th. I dressed myself early in my habit of the Order of La Trappe, and, though the weather was boisterous, I went upon deck. The seamen received me with joy. I then went and fetched an image of the Virgin, which I had noticed in the cabin; I fastened it to the mainmast. I had been strongly recommended to the captain ;
NATIVITY OF THE VIRGIN.
he submitted with a very good grace to the removal, brought me a hammer and nails, and all passed off in the best possible manner. The Litanies were recited with decency and devotion, and the wind, which for some hours had been contrary, suddenly shifted about
The sailors immediately cried out :“O father, father, the wind has changed !” I replied, smiling: “God never refuses any thing to his blessed mother.” You must be aware, my dear friend, that I mean not to represent this event to you as something supernatural, as a miracle ; but, at the same time, I must confess that confidence was in my heart.
9th. Two of the crew are ill: the mate and the cabinboy. The fever is violent.
10th. We have three ill. I am in fear of an epidemic disease. The captain appears to be alarmed.
11th. Two of our patients are better. The weather is fine and the wind favourable.
12th. Calm. A falcon paid us a visit. The seamen considered the arrival of this bird as a bad omen.
It is evening ; the fish are leaping about the ship: another bad omen, according to the sailors.--I laugh at them.
The captain is an excellent man, but one must get accustomed to his manners : he has some that are truly peculiar. In France, they would laugh at him; he is eccentric, nay, somewhat original. On the very first day, when I was reading my breviary in a low tone, he came behind me, and read, too, stammering, in the most natural way possible. I then shut my book, and put my fingers on my lips, to intimate that he ought to
CAPTAIN OF THE ULYSSES.
be silent. This conduct surprised him much; he went away somewhat nettled, and fell to singing the Magnificat and the Te Deum. If I have the pen in my hand, he comes with the utmost simplicity to read what I am writing ; if I make him stand back, he goes and opens and turns over my portfolio as innocently as possible, and without meaning any harm. I rap his knuckles, laughing, to make him understand that such behaviour is improper. He then leaves the portfolio, takes up a box of wafers, opens it, the wafers fly away, and he after them to pick them up, but, by the way, he meets with my spectacles. He claps them on his nose, though they are not suited to his sight, and seeks and brings me back, rubbed or broken, some of the wafers which his imprudence has scattered in the wind : he then asks me if my sight is bad .... In other respects, the captain is a good fellow, obliging, and even pious.
13th. The seamen were right: the weather is frightful ; every thing is rolling about in the ship. I am sitting on the deck, with my back against a cask, holding by a rope, and reciting my prayers as well as I can. - I am entirely covered by a wave. It was but a moment since I was repeating the words: Ye seas and ye lightnings, bless the Lord! This reminds me that once, at La Trappe, we were reciting the service of the Virgin, which service is always recited without light, and at these words : Ye lightnings and clouds, bless the Lord ! a flash, accompanied with a loud clap of thunder, illumined the church to such a degree that we could have fancied it was broad day.
How imposing is the spectacle presented by a ship