An account of whaling in the Bering and Chukchi Seas; the wreck of the ‘Citizen’ in Sept. 1852; and customs and behavior of the natives of the Chukotsk Peninsula, as experienced by the ship’s survivors during a nine-month sojourn there. Part Two gives history (in general) and details of whaling, the various whales and outfitting.
p. 22-23: Many captains and others now engage in the whaling fleet will welcome such an arrangement [i.e., no fishing on the Sabbath]. The effect of it on the whole ship’s company will be salutary. As the business is now conducted, there are doubtless many uneasy consciences. Some are glad when no fish is seen on Sabbath. But when the cry is raised, ‘There she blows!’ what a struggle takes place in the mind of the pious and God-fearing men! But the rest think, if the boats are not lowered, that their rights and interests are infringed; and even the owners might afterwards complain that, when fish were seen, they were not taken. So the order is given, ‘Lower away the boats.’ But this does not settle the question, for the captain feels his moral power diminished. He cannot next day with a clear conscience read and pray with his officers, nor call all hands together the next Sabbath to hear the word of God read.
Thus nearly all that is done for the moral improvement of sailors in port is neutralized by one act of disobedience to God.
In New Bedford, something is attempted for the good of the sailor. ‘The Sailor’s Home’ is well conducted. The Port Society sustains the Bethel and its indefatigable minister. All the Bibles needed for the ships come from the New Bedford Bible Society. But something further is required to induce habits of Bible reading on board ship. Let owners and others think of some of the hints given above. [From the introduction by J. Girdwood.]
p. 115, after the shipwreck ashore: We had neither book nor chart of any description in our possession, with which to divert or instruct our minds. We had nothing upon which to write any event or fact, except small pieces of copper, and a few stray leaves which we happened to find in the huts of the natives. Our time, as all must see, was spent comparatively in a most listless and unprofitable manner; it was simply the endurance of life, and the prolonged hope that another year, if we should live to see it, would bring to us the day of deliverance.
p. 137-38, where the Rev. Holmes expands on one point I haven’t observed before about the native languages: Those with whom we lived, and other settlements or tribes on the Asiatic coast with whom we had had any acquaintance, from East Cape to the north as far as our wreck, have no written language. We could not learn from them that any one had ever attempted to instruct them, or reduce their language to some system, or that any teacher in religion had ever visited them. Without a written language, or books, or teachers, or oral instruction, in some form, the certain results must invariably be, that from age to age, they will continue in the same condition of mental ignorance, moral blindness, and physical degradation. [Goes on to describe an Osborn method of capturing an unwritten tongue. The Tower of Babel is not mentioned in the book, but one must wonder.]