Twenty Years before the Mast, Or Life in the Forecastle. … Contain an Account of His Escapes from Wild Beasts; from the Dangers of War; from British Press-Gangs; from Frequent Shipwrecks; Together with Several Remarkable Dreams… and His Conversion to God.

Memoir of a sailor born in Norway, removed to England after his father’s death, and shipped as cabin boy at age ten. Sailed the world on sealers and New Bedford ships. He became one of many nineteenth-century sailors turned pious proselytizer in the name of the Holy Spirit and Providence. His rather elaborate dream sequences are redolent of John Bunyan, but apart from his dogged spiritual views there is little evidence of education or reading here. There are a few interesting passages:

p. 4: With such motives and objects, and with many prayers for the blessing of God on his effort, this little book, like a new bark, is launched forth upon the uncertain sea of public patronage. May it meet with fair winds, fine weather, and many pleasant ports.

p. 174-75, during a long dream a man said to him: “What domination do Ibelong to?” “That is not a fair question,” I replied. “But,” he rejoined, “you must tell me.”

Upon this, I thought in my dream, that I looked him full in the face, and discovered that he had but one eye, which was very large, and in the middle of his forehead. As I gazed upon him, his thoughts became visible to me through his eye, and I thought I could read this sentiment, traced in letters on his brain: “I believe that God has fore-ordained whatsoever cometh to pass, and that he has predestinated some to be lost.” So I replied to him, “You are a Presbyterian.”

He made no reply, and I went on to say, “Now you must tell me what I am?”

“You are a Methodist,” was his answer.

“Yes,” said I, “I am, and I thank God for it.”

p. 91-92: I remained some time at Mystic, before starting on another voyage. There is nothing usually in the life of a sailor ashore, of any interest to a reader of books; but I cannot forbear mentioning one fact of this sojourn, because of the pleasure which its remembrance has always afforded me. [Isaacs goes on to tell a rather tedious story of saving an old sailor from drowning.]