- Historic Sites
Down To The Sea
Edward Moran’s series of Victorian seascapes recall a vanished national mood—when the eagle screamed, when painters were sentimental and poets misty about the eyes.
June 1967 | Volume 18, Issue 4
Moran's Embarkation of the Pilgrims from Southampton (August 5, 1620)
Methinks I see it now, that one solitary, adventurous vessel, the Mayflower of a forlorn hope, freighted with the prospects of a future state, and bound across the unknown sea. I behold it pursuing, with a thousand misgivings, the uncertain, the tedious voyage.
… The awful voice of the storm howls through the rigging. The laboring masts seem straining from their base;—the dismal sound of the pumps is heard;—the ship leaps, as it were madly, from billow to billow;—the ocean breaks, and settles with engulphing floods over the floating deck, and beats with deadening shivering weight, against the staggered vessel.—I see them, escaped from these perils, pursuing their all but desperate undertaking, and landed at last, after a five months passage, on the ice clad rocks of Plymouth,—weak and weary from the voyage,—poorly armed, scantily provisioned, depending on the charity of their ship-master for a draught of beer on board, drinking nothing but water on shore,—without shelter,—without means,—surrounded by hostile tribes. Shut now the volume of history, and tell me on any principle of human probability, what shall be the fate of this handful of adventurers.… Is it possible, that from a beginning so feeble, so frail, so worthy, not so much of admiration as of pity, there has gone forth a progress so steady, a growth so wonderful, an expansion so ample, a reality so important, a promise, yet to be fulfilled, so glorious?
—Edward Everett, from an oration at Plymouth, Massachusetts, December 22, 1824
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— Barrett Eastman “The Baptism of the Flag”
Moran's Burning of the Frigate Philadelphia (in the Harbor of Tripoli, February 16, 1894)
In 1803 the command of our fleet in the Mediterranean was taken by Commodore Preble, who had just succeeded in forcing satisfaction from Morocco for an attack made upon our merchantmen by a vessel from Tangier. He also proclaimed a blockade of Tripoli… when the news reached him that the frigate Philadelphia, forty-four guns … had been surrounded and captured. … The Tripolitans… towed her into the harbor, and anchored her close under the guns of their forts. They also replaced her batteries, and prepared to make her ready for sea, where she would have been a most formidable danger to our shipping.
Under these circumstances Stephen Decatur, a young lieutenant in command of the Enterprise, offered to Commodore Preble to go into the harbor and destroy the Philadelphia. … A small vessel… named the Intrepid [was] assigned to him. …