Now cried the landlord, flinging open a door, and in we went to breakfast. They say that men who have seen the world, thereby become quite at ease in manner, quite self-possessed in company. Not always, though: Ledyard, the great New England traveller, and Mungo Park, the Scotch one; of all men, they possessed the least assurance in the parlor. But perhaps the mere crossing of Siberia in a sledge drawn by dogs as Ledyard did, or the taking a long solitary walk on an empty stomach.

by Craig Garner

by Craig Garner

Look, for the most part, that sort of thing is to be had anywhere. These reflections just here are occasioned by the circumstance that after we were all seated at the table, and I was preparing to hear some good stories about whaling; to my no small surprise, nearly every man maintained a profound silence. And not only that, but they looked embarrassed. The rest of his toilet was soon achieved, and he proudly marched out of the room, wrapped up in his great pilot monkey jacket, and sporting his harpoon like a marshal’s baton. Were these or almost similar impressions effaced:

  • There now is your insular city of the Manhattoes, belted round by wharves as Indian isles by coral reefs — commerce surrounds it with her surf. Right and left, the streets take you waterward. Its extreme downtown is the battery, where that noble mole is washed by waves, and cooled by breezes, which a few hours previous were out of sight of land. Look at the crowds of water-gazers there.
  • Once more. Say you are in the country in some high land of lakes — Take almost any path you please, and ten to one it carries you down in a dale, and leaves you there by a pool in the stream. There is magic in it. Let the most absent-minded of men be plunged in his deepest reveries stand that man on his legs, set his feet a-going, and he will infallibly lead you to water, if water there be in all that region.
  • Should you ever be athirst in the great American desert — try this experiment, if your caravan happen to be supplied with a metaphysical professor. Yes, as every one knows, meditation and water are wedded for ever.

And however the general experiences in the fishery may amend such reports as these. Yes, here were a set of sea-dogs, many of whom without the slightest bashfulness had boarded great whales on the high seas entire strangers to them and duelled them dead without winking and yet, here they sat at a social breakfast table all of the same calling, all of kindred tastes looking round as sheepishly at each other as though they had never been out of sight of some sheepfold among the Green Mountains.

A curious sight these bashful bears, these timid warrior whalemen, in the negro heart of Africa, which was the sum of poor Mungo’s performances this kind of travel, I say, may not be the very best mode of attaining a high social polish. There now is your insular city of the Manhattoes, belted round by wharves as Indian isles by coral reefs—commerce surrounds it with her surf. Right and left, the streets take you waterward. Its extreme downtown is the battery, where that noble mole is washed by waves, and cooled by breezes, which a few hours previous were out of sight of land. Look at the crowds of water-gazers there.

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