Days Like These

Click to follow
The Independent Culture
27 September 1915

CLAUDE DEBUSSY

(right) writes from Pourville, near Dieppe, to his publisher Jacques Durand:

"We shall be returning to Paris about the 12th of October. Farewell sea, farewell tranquillity! I am definitely ready for life beneath the open sky, among mute trees. Big cities frighten me, one is obliged to shake too many dirty hands. It is not disgust or misanthropy, but the need to concentrate what's left of my powers of thought which The City casually fritters away. Think of the ghastly reporters who try to advertise your plans even before you've been able to realize them!"

1 October 1719

GEORGE SHELVOCK,

mariner, records an incident while rounding Cape Horn (a passage that Wordsworth pointed out to Coleridge when he was composing `The Ancient Mariner'):

"At 7 in the evening, as they were furling the main-sail, one William Camell cry'd out, that his hands and fingers were so benumb'd that he could not hold himself, but before those that were next to him could come to his assistance, he fell down and was drowned.

The cold is certainly much more insupportable in these, than in the same Latitudes to the Northward, for although we were pretty much advanced in the summer season, and had days very long, yet we had continual squals of sleet, snow and rain, and the heavens were perpetually hid from us by gloomy dismal clouds. In short, one would think it impossible that any living thing could subsist in so rigid a climate; and indeed, we all observed, that we had not had the sight of one fish of any kind, since we were come to the Southward of the streights of le Mair, nor one sea- bird, except a disconsolate black Albitross, who accompanied us for several days, hovering about us as if he had lost himself, till Hatley, (my second Captain) observing, in one of his melancholy fits, that this bird was always hovering near us, imagin'd, from his colour, that it might be some ill omen. That which, I suppose, induced him the more to encourage his superstition, was the continued series of contrary winds, which had oppress'd us ever ince we had got into this sea. But be that as it would, he, after some fruitless attempts, at length, shot the Albitross, not doubting that we should have a fair wind after it."

Comments