Deck and Port; Or, Incidents of a Cruise in the United States Frigate Congress to California

p. 16, in Hampton Roads: Sunday, Oct. 26 [1845]. This being the sabbath, we had divine service. The crew were attentive: not the rustle of a hand or foot disturbed the stillness; the speaker’s voice only broke the silence of the deck. The text was the injunction of the prophet, “Go up now, look towards the sea.”

p. 19, Oct. 29: I have been occupied to-day in arranging in suitable cases the library of the crew—a library comprising between three and four hundred volumes. For many of the miscellaneous and religious books in this library I am indebted to the Presbyterian Board of Publication, to the Sunday School Union, to the American Tract Society, and to the liberality of Commodore Stockton. My acknowledgments are also due to the American Bible Society for a donation of Bibles adequate to the wants of the crew. No national ship ever left a port of the United States more amply provided with books suited to the habits and capacity of those onboard. This desideratum has been supplied, so far as the crew is concerned, with comparatively little aid from the department [Navy]. The government furnishes the sailor with grog to burn up his body, a Christian liberality with books to save his soul. The whisky ration is a curse to the service, and a damning blot on our national legislation.

p. 33: [Sunday, Nov. 9] I distributed tracts to-day to the crew—to all who came to me for them; and few remained behind. It would have encouraged the hearts of those who supply these sources of salutary instruction, to have witnessed the eagerness with which our sailors took them. In a few minutes there were three of four hundred men on the decks of our ship reading tracts; each catching some thought which lures from sin, and throws its clear and tender light on the narrow path which leads to heaven.

p. 79-80, interesting paragraph on meaning of the word nondescript.

p. 158-59, Feb. 9, during a strong gale: The gale still continues with unmitigated force. Our ship has a good character for steadiness, but last night she plunged and rolled like a leviathan in his death-throes….

In the mid-watch my library, secretary, mirror, and washstand fetched away. The books and looking-glass rushed together I my cot. I was half asleep, and thought for the moment our guns were tumbling below. [then, comparing his situation to the miserable men coming off the watch]: What are my petty griefs compared with this? I got my light, and dividing my berth with my books, shivered mirror, manuscripts, inkstand, razors, chessmen, and broken flasks of casash [sic] turned in—abundantly satisfied with the romance of sea-life.

p. 381, July 10 [1846], heading east from Honolulu: We are now within nine hundred miles of our port. All are engaged, some in acquiring Spanish, some in writing letters home; while the crew, as they come off watch, occupy their time with books from the library. Sailors will read if you furnish them with books suited to their tastes and habits. Give them narratives, history, biography, and incidents of travel….But all this requires care in the selection; this duty properly devolves on the chaplain; it is for him to elevate and mould the morals sentiments of those around him. If he is not equal to this, he should not put his foot on the decks of a man-of-war