Contains excerpts “from the laws and consular regulations governing the United States Merchant Service.”
p. viii, Preface: Many books have been written dealing with the romantic
phases of sailor life. Much of this romance the writer of this work has been compelled to dispel. His official experience as consul has made him familiar with the more repellant features of a seaman’s career. The sea has been the scene of the boldest adventures; but it has also been the
theatre of the most brutal and revolting of human manifestations. With these latter it has been no pleasing task to deal, but rather a stern duty—an imperative necessity. The author has done his work. It remains with the reader to do his, as his responsibility or his humanity may dictate.
p. 21: Some captains there are who have not even had a common-school education; the wonder is how they know so much, having learned so little from books. Perhaps the great German philosopher, Alexander von Humboldt, struck the key-note as to the cultivation of sailors as well as
nations when he said that "contact with the ocean has unquestionably exercised a beneficial influence on the cultivation of the intellect, and the formation of the character of nations." I need scarcely say that a thorough education is no disadvantage to men who follow the sea, any more than it is to any other class; indeed, I think it is a special advantage
to them. The few highly cultivated ship-captains whom it has been my good fortune to meet, were, in every case, an honor to their profession, being thorough sailors and thorough gentlemen at the same time. And where the addition of a strong religious feeling exists in such persons, they stand forth as glorious representatives of humanity.
p. 77: The benefits afforded by the Seamen’s Friend Society ex tend to the sailors when afloat as well as when ashore. In 1859 it began to furnish loan libraries to naval and merchant ships. The total number of libraries now afloat is about 4500, or about 185,000 volumes, accessible to 180,000 seamen. The report for the year ending May, 1872, shows the
following facts: Number of new libraries sent to Sea, 312; refitted and reshipped, 424; total (available to 10,888 men), 756; conversions during the year in connection with the work, 70. Both officers and men use the libraries, and the volumes are returned to the society, often years after their issue, in perfect condition; often, too, when a ship has been lost, the library has been placed in a small boat, with the compass and a little store of food, and so preserved. It may not be advisable for the Government to undertake to furnish homes for our seamen; and even were this judicious, the Government could not, consistently with its proper functions, compel seamen to resort to these homes. But the
above facts show what a Christian community may do for our seamen. The work so well begun in New York City, if perfected and extended to every port, will do much to increase the number of American ships, and to improve the character of our merchant marine.