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A Winter in the West Indies

A Winter in the West Indies

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Excerpt from A Winter in the West Indies: Described in Familiar Letters to Henry Clay, of Kentucky

In company with Mahlon Day, a highly respectable? citizen of New-York, and a young friend, who kindly undertook to act as our attendant and helper, I sailed from that city on the 22nd of last Eleventh-month, (November.) in the Camilla, Captain Watlington. Our ships company consisted of about twenty individuals, (mostly in search of a warmer climate and better health) who had taken their passage, in this accommodating little ship, for Santa Cruz. The fine, but cold, frosty day, on which we left your shoresi, gave them a sufficient warning, that the season was at hand, when the rigor of a North American winter would become dangerous. At the same time, it afforded such of us as were in good health a delightful opportunity - as we swept along under full sail - of observing, under the brightest aspect, the rare beauty of the harbor of New-York, the bay, and the neighboring islands.

We had not continued our voyage more than three days, before we found ourselves in a genial climate. The thermometer stood at 70, and light clothing gradually came into requisition. The change was almost magical, and certainly it was no small luxury thus insensibly to glide into warmth, and as it were, to catch summer again by the skirts. We were now crossing "the Gulph Stream," where it is said to have a breadth of two hundred and fifty miles, and the temperature of the air was probably heightened by the heat of the waves below. To account for this enormous current of warm water which runs up from the Gulph of Mexico, in a north-easterly direction, to so great a distance, seems to be nearly impossible. What the causes are which occasion the magnitude of the current, and the heat of the water, seems to be mere matter of conjecture; but its beneficial effect in melting the ice, and unlocking the harbors, of North America, affords one evidence among ten thousand, that even the wildest sports of nature are subservient to good and wise purposes, in the order of a benevolent Providence. Boisterous weather and a strong adverse gale, were our portion as we crossed "the Gulph."

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