ONE bright December mid-day lately I spent down on the New Jersey sea-shore, reaching it by a little more than an hours railroad trip over the old Camden and Atlantic. I had started betimes, fortified by nice strong coffee and a good breakfast (cookd by the hands I love, my dear sister Loushow much better it makes the victuals taste, and then assimilate, strengthen you, perhaps make the whole day comfortable afterwards.) Five or six miles at the last, our track enterd a broad region of salt grass meadows, intersected by lagoons, and cut up everywhere by watery runs. The sedgy perfume, delightful to my nostrils, reminded me of the mash and south bay of my native island. I could have journeyd contentedly till night through these flat and odorous sea-prairies. From half-past 11 till 2 I was nearly all the time along the beach, or in sight of the ocean, listening to its hoarse murmur, and inhaling the bracing and welcome breezes. First, a rapid five-mile drive over the hard sandour carriage wheels hardly made dents in it. Then after dinner (as there were nearly two hours to spare) I walkd off in another direction, (hardly met or saw a person,) and taking possession of what appeard to have been the reception-room of an old bathhouse range, had a broad expanse of view all to myselfquaint, refreshing, unimpededa dry area of sedge and Indian grass immediately before and around mespace, simple, unornamented space. Distant vessels, and the far-off, just visible trailing smoke of an inward bound steamer; more plainly, ships, brigs, schooners, in sight, most of them with every sail set to the firm and steady wind.
The attractions, fascinations there are in sea and shore! How one dwells on their simplicity, even vacuity! What is it in us, arousd by those indirections and directions? That spread of waves and gray-white beach, salt, monotonous, senselesssuch an entire absence of art, books, talk, eleganceso indescribably comforting, even this winter daygrim, yet so delicate-looking, so spiritualstriking emotional, impalpable depths, subtler than all the poems, paintings, music, I have ever read, seen, heard. (Yet let me be fair, perhaps it is because I have read those poems and heard that music.)