NEVER have I sailed out of New-York harbor on a finer day than when, in the spring of 1873, I started on that pilgrimage of which this book is to be the record. It was late in April, the sky was clear, and the atmosphere had that balmy softness which we find in the tropics much oftener than in more northern latitudes. Looking up the Hudson and down the widening estuary toward Staten Island, one could see a delicate haze that skirted the horizon and faintly mellowed the lines that otherwise might have presented a suggestion of harshness. The picturesque life of the harbor was at its fullest activity; ocean and river steamers were moving here and there, and white-winged ships coming home from long voyages or going out to battle with the winds and waves, were in the grasp of powerful tugs that fumed and fretted as they ploughed the waters with their helpless charges. Thousands of smaller craft dotted and stippled the beautiful bay which is the pride and glory of the commercial metropolis of America; and the forest of masts hanging over the wharves at the city’s edge spread its leafless limbs in liberal profusion. There was the usual crowd of friends to bid farewell to our passengers; and the parting cheer, as we steamed out from our dock, rang in our ears long after the spire of Trinity had disappeared, and the protruding front of Castle Garden had been lost in the distance. There was only the gentlest breeze to ruffle the water as we pushed oceanward and caught sight of the blue line of sea and sky that formed the eastern horizon. We watched the sun declining in the west, bringing the Highlands of Neversink into bold relief; our steady progress left the land each moment more and more indistinct, till, at last, day and land faded away together. We were out on the ocean, and the world was become to us small indeed. An Atlantic trip is not considered in these days a very serious affair. There are persons who persist in speaking of the ocean as a ferry, with no more terror than the North or East River. It may be a good joke to call it a ferry, but it is rather a solemn joke when you have been at sea a couple of weeks and have experienced a few gales. The day we sailed the water was as smooth as a mill-pond, and it remained so for about thirty-six hours. In the room next to me there was a judge from New Jersey; a jolly, good-natured old boy, whose face was a pleasure to contemplate. The first day out, he told me he was agreeably surprised with the ocean, and that he should have brought his wife along if he had supposed it would be so comfortable.