Four Years aboard the Whaleship. Embracing Cruises in the Pacific, Atlantic, Indian, and Antarctic Oceans, in the year 1855, ‘6, ‘7, ‘8, ‘9.

[From a bookseller’s catalogue on ABEBooks]: Whitecar, an intelligent observer, sailed from New Bedford aboard the Pacific, on a whaling voyage which took him to Antarctic waters, Australia & New Zealand. His narrative gives good details of the whaler’s life on ship and ashore from 1855-59, one of the best for the time, including observations & comparisons of whaling equipment and practices. Whitecar includes much on the West Australian coast, visiting the Vasse & Cape Leeuwin a number of times. He spends time in Albany (King Georges Sound), visits Geraldton (Champion Bay), Esperence (the Recherche Archipelago) and the Houtmans Abrolhas. In observing W.A., he comments “I didn’t see a glass of spirits drank. ale and beer were however swallowed without regard to quality or quantity.” The majority of the book relates to West Australian waters & anecdotes. A very readable & informative account, one of the best we’ve read on West Australia. Bookseller Inventory # 8363. [This annotation is partly plagiarized in a Bartfield listing for the same book. Whitecar’s account is quite a charming account of the whaling life, somewhat sanitized for the domestic reader, pointing out the foibles and peccadilloes of sailors on other ships but seeing his ship as something of a model of discipline and benign leadership.]

p.30-31: The first Sunday intervening after our departure from home, proved a bright, beautiful day, the sun rising in gorgeous splendor. After breakfast the chief mate went throughout the crew, and gave to all who were not already provided a Bible or Testament, also tracts and religious papers. These books, I believe, were supplied by a Tract Society, in New Bedford, who customarily place the word of God aboard every ship that leaves the harbor. The books were all received with thankfulness, and I will here take occasion to state that I never heard a sailor speak irreverently of the Bible.

p. 96: It will be noticed that three-fifths of our whaling up to this time, has been on Sunday, and, subsequently, this day of days proved equally fortunate for us. I do not wish to defend the practice of Sunday whaling, and think that if a man make it an invariable rule to whale only on week days, that Providence would so dispose it that he should not be the loser. We saw several of these Sunday ships, as they are called, and in each instance they had quite as much oil as their neighbors; at the same time, it takes a strong religious bias to induce a man who depends upon the capture of whales for an early return to home and friends, after being separated from all that he holds dear…to forego attempting their capture on a Sunday. In fact, the temptation is strong; and, strange to say, most see greater numbers of whale on the Sabbath than on any other day.

p. 97: On the 23d of May we spoke the barque Ann, of Sag Harbor, and from her received papers five and a half months old; they were treasures to us, and were read with intense interest, advertisements and all coming in for a share of attention; these papers were full of anticipated troubles with England, and, of course, this prospect of a war was the favorite topic. Like all Americans, we felt the superiority of the universal Yankee nation, and had no fears as to the result in case of a war with John Bull….

p. 157—describes auction of dead sailor’s possessions, the funds going either to friends of the deceased if found, but if not it is “usually given to the Seamen’s Friend Society.”