Enoch’s Voyage: Life on a Whaleship 1851-1854.

Edited by Elizabeth McLean. Wakefield, RI: Moyer Bell, 1994.

A regularly kept journal by a greenhand but an educated one who makes references to Leigh Hunt and reads his Bible every Sunday, days on which he rails against the Captain for breaking the Sabbath by whaling that day. He is by turns dismayed at his decision to go to sea and then rejoicing at what he is learning, while lamenting the monotony between the actual hunts and his recurrent homesickness. All the most routine entries occur on weekdays, with Sundays devoted to comments on Bible reading, Sabbath breaking, homesickness for Sabbaths’ spent at home, and self-loathing for his decision to go to sea but taking responsibility for it. A few examples among many:

p. 18, August 21, 1851: A great spirit of petty tyranny begins to manifest itself on the part of the Officers. They certainly do not embrace Leigh Hunts’ celebrated maxims.

Power itself, hath not

Half the might of gentleness!

But, I of all others, have a poor reason for complaining. Read the 139th Psalm, this morning with peculiar feelings of delight! The attributes of God are duly appreciated by the Psalmist. Dreamed of being home last….

p. 19, August 24, 1851: Capt. Vinall came forward this morning and distributed Bibles, Testaments & Tracts among the crew, and forbid all unnecessary work throughout the Ship. Noble example! …Oh! how different from the holy quiet of a Sabbath day at home!

p. 27: September 14. Sunday. Oh! For one more opportunity to attend God’s house at home! How I detest this fore castle, in which lewd songs for those of Zion & blasphemous wraths, for notes of prayer & praise are exchanged! How true the 5th verse of the 125th Psalm! Reading my Bible, and prayer, are two precious privileges—of which they cannot deprive me, however, and I will endeavor to improve them. Find new beauties in the 46th, 51st, 56th, & 57th Psalms.

p. 40: October 26 Sunday I make it a rule to spend a portion of each day that I live in reading my Bible and in meditation. I have gained some ground I think in this way…. But still this is not home!

p. 54—rails about the ship’s desecration of the Sabbath by whaling on Sunday.

p. 56: Did not Christian principles interfere with desertion from the ship in New Zealand, I should certainly make the attempt. [Bible appears his only reading; he would attend church services when possible in port.]

p. 71, Sunday, January 18, 1852: How do the privileges and blessings of home, the sanctuary & the Sabbath come home to my mind today. My soul longs for the privilege of going even once more to the house of God! No church here to which even “2 or 3” can bend their way to hear the word of life, but surrounded by wicked & hardened men, I am compelled to pass this holy day; not a single voice lifted up to the throne of Grace; not a lip moving in prayer but blasphemous oaths, lewd songs & drunken railings, are heard from ship to shore & echoed from beach to mountain! Morality is at a low ebb among the New Zealanders and they bid fair to become annihilated as our North American Indians have been by the progress of what the world sees fit to term—“civilization.” Its vices, with none of its virtues have been eagerly embraced by the wretched Natives, and they have been reduced to a “Saturnalia”—the essential elements of which are idleness, theft, drunkenness and prostitution. Miserable, deluded beings!… I blush to think I am an American citizen!! such have been the gross examples of depravity, most depraved, committed by my countrymen among a dying nation of wretched heathens that I heartily (though with much shame) adopt & pen the above sentiment! God forgive them!

p. 110, April 25, 1852: Another cold & stormy day. Read the 22nd Chapter of Genesis today, with peculiar feelings of delight. What a pattern of believing faith & genuine submission to the inscrutable ways of God, is exhibited in the conduct of Abraham when God makes the sore trial….

p. 166, Oct. 8, 1852. Friday: Oh! how heartily sick am I of this miserable life! Monotony, killing monotony, ever stands by to lend a hand in making me more miserable!! So ends the day!!

p. 170, Oct. 19: This afternoon the Rev. S. C, Damon, (Seamen’s Chaplain) came aboard and after addressing a few excellent words of advice and kind Christian exhortation to the crew, presented us with some tracts and a few copies of his paper, “The Friend,” a very neat little sheet, mainly devoted to the advancement of religion among the hardy “Sons of Ocean!”—God bless him!

p. 202, Dec. 19 Sunday: An unpleasant day!… This morning, Capt. Vinall called me into the cabin and gave me some religious reading matter. My thanks are due him for this kind consideration & I also thank God for the opportunity thus offered to peruse religious books in connection with my Bible!

p. 210, Jan. 2 1853 Sunday: This morning Capt. Vinall called me into the cabin and gave me some tracts to distribute among the crew. The day has been spent (when I found time) in reading my Bible and in meditation. This is a daily duty and I have often felt that Christ was precious to my soul while engaging in it! Although a very weak follower of Christ, still I would not exchange my hope for 10,000 worlds like this!!