The Works of Edgar Allan Poe — Volume 3

By Edgar Allan Poe

Page 101

had passed rather as a frightful dream from which we had been
happily awakened, than as events which had taken place in sober and
naked reality. I have since found that this species of partial oblivion
is usually brought about by sudden transition, whether from joy
to sorrow or from sorrow to joy--the degree of forgetfulness being
proportioned to the degree of difference in the exchange. Thus, in my
own case, I now feel it impossible to realize the full extent of
the misery which I endured during the days spent upon the hulk. The
incidents are remembered, but not the feelings which the incidents
elicited at the time of their occurrence. I only know, that when they
did occur, I then thought human nature could sustain nothing more of

We continued our voyage for some weeks without any incidents of
greater moment than the occasional meeting with whaling-ships, and more
frequently with the black or right whale, so called in contradistinction
to the spermaceti. These, however, were chiefly found south of the
twenty-fifth parallel. On the sixteenth of September, being in the
vicinity of the Cape of Good Hope, the schooner encountered her first
gale of any violence since leaving Liverpool. In this neighborhood, but
more frequently to the south and east of the promontory (we were to
the westward), navigators have often to contend with storms from the
northward, which rage with great fury. They always bring with them a
heavy sea, and one of their most dangerous features is the instantaneous
chopping round of the wind, an occurrence almost certain to take place
during the greatest force of the gale. A perfect hurricane will be
blowing at one moment from the northward or northeast, and in the next
not a breath of wind will be felt in that direction, while from
the southwest it will come out all at once with a violence almost
inconceivable. A bright spot to the southward is the sure forerunner of
the change, and vessels are thus enabled to take the proper precautions.

It was about six in the morning when the blow came on with a white
squall, and, as usual, from the northward. By eight it had increased
very much, and brought down upon us one of the most tremendous seas I
had then ever beheld. Every thing had been made as snug as possible,
but the schooner laboured excessively, and gave evidence of her bad
qualities as a seaboat, pitching her forecastle under at every plunge
and with the greatest difficulty struggling up from one wave before she
was buried in another. Just before sunset

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{From an earlier MS.
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