Account of a sealing voyage (starting May 1820) off the Cape of Good Hope which led to shipwreck and abandonment (in Crozet Islands). Curious blend of adventure, piety, and natural history (esp. birds). The unpaginated preliminaries include a preface, index (contents), opinions of the press, and lengthy subscriber lists organized by place and edition.
Preface 1st edition: As a work of instruction, it is hoped…–to those who advocate and lend their aid to that most valuable of institutions, the Bible Society, it will afford an additional incentive, if such were wanted, for renewed exertions for the spread of the Sacred Volume, particularly among mariners—for in the Narrative the words of scripture were most fully verified, that such ‘bread cast upon the waters, shall be found after many days.’
In presenting a Fifth Edition…I am induced to hope, from the great interest taken in it by many friends of Bible Societies, and the extracts that have been made from it, in publications sent out by the Parent Society, that it has at least been considered useful in some small degree, in proving the extended utility of that most valuable institution; and that it may still further aid the cause, and stimulate the exertions, of those who labour in spreading the Scriptures, is the sincere wish of
Among the preliminaries, at the end of the first subscriber list, is printed this note:
Dover, January 4, 1844.
Frederick Dyer has felt much gratification from the perusal of Mr. Goodridge’s Narrative, he can confidently recommend it as a work full of interest. To Children, the Narrative will confer a similar delight to what is felt by them on a perusal of that popular book, Robinson Crusoe, and their pleasure will be increased by a knowledge of the fact, that the Traveller is alive and sells his own book.
p. 29, aboard Princess of Wales on departure from the Thames: In going down the river, Captain Cox, the then active and zealous agent of the Merchant Seamen’s Bible Society, came on board, and after some suitable observations, presented us with a bible. We thought little of the gift at the time, but the sequel will shew that this proved to be the most valuable of all our stores….
p. 47-8, after the shipwreck in March 1821 the crew tried to scavenge what they could from the wreck: The last thing we saved on this day, and which we found floating on the water, was, what proved the most invaluable of gifts,–it was the identical bible * [* William Hooper being in the boat was the first that espied the Bible, he sung out lustily, pull up, pull up, here is our Bible.] put on board by Captain Cox, the agent of the Merchant Seamen’s Bible Society, at Gravesend, on our sailing out of the river Thames, as before mentioned.
But too often are the gifts bestowed by the Bible Societies ill appreciated, and this had undoubtedly been the case with us, up to this time; but it soon became our greatest consolation.
What made this circumstance more remarkable was, that although we had a variety of other books on board, such as our navigation books, journals, log-books, &c. this was the only article of the kind that we found, nor did we discover the smallest shred of paper of any kind, except this bible; and still equally surprising was it, that after we had carefully dried the leaves, it was so little injured, that its binding remained in a very serviceable condition, and continued so, as long as I had an opportunity of using it.
p. 55-60: long and somewhat repetitive passages on the bible, its providential appearance as ‘bread upon the waters,’ its good effect on the unity of the exiled sailors; its role in converting an illiterate Atheist who learned many favorite passages by heart.
p. 59: The late Mr. Jonathan Dymond, of Exeter, in his “Essays on the Principles of Morality,” says “The British and Foreign Bible Society, during the 20 or 30 years that it has existed, has done more direct good in the world—has had a greater effect in meliorating the condition of the human species—than all the measures that have been directed to the same ends, of all the Prime Ministers in Europe, during a century.”
p. 59-60 footnote: The exertions of the Bible Society, in distributing the Scriptures among sailors, has tended greatly to improve their morals, and to check swearing and blasphemous language, at one period so commonly in use among them; indeed it was often a boast who could swear the vilest oaths. To take a Bible or a Prayer Book in your hand was sure to bring on you the jeers and ribaldry of all your Messmates, and you were fortunate if you escaped without experiencing some practical joke. Now, however, those inclined to be serious, may in general peruse their Bibles without molestation. I am gratified thus to bear evidence of its great benefit in this point of view. It has also led to a much more orderly observance of the Sabbath. Those facts I have culled from frequent converse with sailors since my return to England.
p. 75-6: there was a separate sealing party on another island which eventually rejoined the shipwrecked group in December 1821. “It happened that one of the sealing party, when they went ashore, had taken a bible with him, which on some previous occasion had been presented to him by the Bible Society, and this book had also proved as valuable a friend to them…. And when I observe that the boisterous state of the weather would sometimes confine us to our hut for two or three days together, the comfort afforded by such a resource will be much more fully conceived; and several now read the sacred Scriptures with pleasure and profit who had scarcely looked into a Bible since the period they had left school.
With what self gratulation may the contributors to the British and Foreign, or the Seaman’s Bible Society read these simple facts…. This is a species of charity, which extendeth not only to the utmost parts of the earth, but will last to the end of time,—nay, even to eternity. Its benefits are beyond human calculation—Infinity only can trace them. Much more might be added—but I confine myself to these few remarks….
p. 80—when the parties divided, a bible remained with each.
p. 81: Being now settled in our new colony…we agreed by turns to search food, always keeping the Sabbath as a day of rest, and devoted to reading the scriptures and other religious exercises.* [*“The Sabbath among sailors is too often converted into a day of riot and drunkenness; but in this a great improvement has been effected, since the establishment of Bethel ships, and the spread of the scriptures.”]
The party was rescued by an American schooner but later left on another more temperate island, on a more traveled seaway, Amsterdam Island.
p. 101-2: I ought to mention that here also we continued our Bible reading, and other religious exercises, (having with us the Bible presented by Captain Cox) and that it was still the harbinger of peace to us! The other Bible we left with our two companions on the island of Amsterdam, and doubtless with equal temporal benefit, during their short existence, and we may hope to their eternal happiness, for their lives were cruelly sacrificed, as will hereafter be stated.
[They were again rescued, this time by a British whaler tender, and removed to van Diemen’s land, leaving a couple of people on the island of St. Paul. At this point the author loses track of the Bible presented by Mr. Cox. The last 60 pages are mostly about van Diemen’s land, ending with a long list of its charitable organizations, mostly Bible societies.