Jewett’s first voyage in 1803 involved some whaling and sealing in the Pacific Northwest, but it was a short time before the ship was captured by the Nootka people and most of the crew killed. Most of the book is devoted to his 28 months of captivity, and his analysis of the Nootka natives.
p. 8, on his childhood education at Donnington near Boston in the UK: I there made considerable proficiency in writing, reading, and arithmetic, and obtained a pretty good knowledge of navigation and surveying; but my progress in Latin was slow, not only owing to the little inclination I felt for learning that language, but to a natural impediment in my speech, which rendered it extremely difficult for me to pronounce it, so that in a short time, with my father’s consent, I wholly relinquished the study.
p. 11: This [his father’s employment as an iron worker in Hull] naturally leading me to an acquaintance with the sailors on board some of the ships, the many remarkable stories they told me of their voyages and adventures… excited a strong wish in me to visit foreign countries, which was increased by my reading the voyages of Capt. Cook, and some other celebrated navigators.
p. 12, he joined the ship Boston taking cargo for trade with Indians of North-West America, and then on to China. His father worked as a blacksmith on the needs of the ship in repairs and alterations, while Jewett came to know some of his shipmates: These gentlemen used occasionally to take me with them to the theatre, an amusement which I was very fond of, and which my father rather encouraged than objected to, as he thought it a good means of preventing young men who are naturally inclined to seek for something to amuse them, from frequenting taverns, ale houses, and places of bad resort, equally destructive of health and morals, while the stage frequently furnishes excellent lessons of morality and good conduct.
p. 82-83, while captured, despairing of ever returning to a Christian country: Our principal consolation in this gloomy state, was to go on Sundays, whenever the weather would permit, to the borders of a fresh water pond, about a mile from the village, where, after bathing, and putting on clean clothes, we would set ourselves under the shade of a beautiful pine, while I read some chapters of the Bible, and the prayers appointed by our Church for the day, ending our devotions with a prayer to the Almighty… to permit us once more to behold a Christian land.
p. 99-100, at Christmas after the ship’s capture at Nootka: What a reverse [to festivities at home] did our situation offer—captives in a savage land, and slaves to a set of ignorant beings unacquainted with religion or humanity, hardly were we permitted to offer up our devotions by ourselves in the woods, while we felt even grateful for this privilege. Thither with the [Nootka’s] king’s permission, we withdrew, and after reading the service appointed for the day, sung the hymn of the Nativity, fervently praying that heaven in its goodness, would permit us to celebrate the next festival of this kind in some Christian land.