An 1840 Cooper work in which he served as amanuensis in telling the narrative of Ned Evans attempting to “lay before the world the experience of a common seaman,” such as Cooper himself knew, and which follows that pattern of degradation and conversion. I confess to an early impression that the work was more novel than narrative, and it certainly is an hybrid genre of edited narrative, or a semi-imaginary reconstruction, in which the narrator [Cooper?] is telling the story of Ned Myers. The repeated cycle of debauchment does become tiresome.
Volume I: apparently no entries
p. 120: All the disposition to morality that had been aroused within me at Philadelphia was completely gone, and I thought as little of church and of religion as ever. It is true I had bought a Bible on board the Superior, and I was in the practice of reading in it, from time to time, though it was only the narratives, such as those of Samson and Goliath, that formed any interest for me. The history of Jonah and the whale I read at least twenty times. I cannot remember that the morality, or thought, or devotion, of a single passage ever struck me on these occasions. In a word, I read this sacred book for amusement, and not for light.
p. 191: The most important thing, however, that occurred to me while in the hospital, was a disposition that suddenly arose in my mind, to reflect on my future state, and to look at religious things with serious eyes. Dr. Terrill had some blacks in his service, who were in the habit of holding little Methodist meetings, where they sang hymns, and conversed together seriously. I never joined these people, being too white for that, down at Pensacola, but I could over-hear them from my own little room. A Roman Catholic in the hospital had a prayer-book in English, which he lent to me, and I got into the habit of reading a prayer in it daily, as a sort of worshipping of the Almighty. This was the first act of mine, that approached private worship, since the day I left Mr. Marchinton’’; if I except the few hasty mental petitions put up in moments of danger. After a time, I began to think it would never do for me, a Protestant born and baptized, to be studying a Romish prayer-book; and I hunted up one that was Protestant, and which had been written expressly for seamen. This I took to my room, and used in place of the Romish book. Dr. Terrill had a number of Bibles under his charge, and I obtained one of these, also, and I actually got into the practice of reading a chapter every night, as well as of reading a prayer. I also knocked off from drink, and ceased to swear. My reading in the Bible, now, was not for the stories, but seriously to improve my mind and morals.
p. 244: I read with these men for two or three weeks; Chapman, the American, being the man who considered his own moral condition the most hopeless. When unable to go myself, I would send my books, and we had the Bible and Pilgrim’s Progress, watch and watch, between us.
p. 249: One day, the last time I was with him [Chapman], I read the narrative of the thief on the cross. He listened to it eagerly, and when I had ended, for the first time, he displayed some signs of hope and joy. As I left him he took leave of me, saying we should never meet again. He asked my prayers, and I promised them. I went to my own ward, and, while actually engaged in redeeming my promise, one came to tell me he had gone. He sent me a message, to say he died a happy man. The poor fellow—happy fellow, would be a better term—sent back all the books he had borrowed; and it will serve to give some idea of the condition we were in, in a temporal sense, if I add, that he also sent me a few coppers, in order that they might contribute to the comfort of his countrymen.