One of the classics of early whaling literature, though with little material about whaling life at sea or ways to occupy time.
p. 42, footnote: *Boston News-Letter. It would afford an interesting study to trace the various fashions to their commencement and see if their return is marked by particular eras, or whether it is altogether spasmodic. What particularly called this to mind was reading in the News-Letter some lines addressed to a young lady’s wardrobe, of which poem these four lines are appropriate here, and may serve as an illustration of the rest:
“To grace the well shap’d Foot, in Turkey’s Soil, Through Life’s short Span laborious Silkworms’ toil The Whale in Zembla’s frozen Region found, That forms the swelling Hoop’s capacious Bound.
p. 122: A few brief days, and had not the crew of the Ann Alexander so providentially met a rescuer, their doom must have been sealed, and their vessel would have appeared on the marine lists simply as a “missing” ship. The landsman would glance casually at the expression, and think no more of it. The mariner and the relatives and friends of those who followed the sea would read the word with a shudder as they thought of the probable sufferings, privations, and possibly horrible, lingering death the unfortunate crew might have encountered. Those to whom the word meant far more than an empty sound would think—“What sighs have been wafted after that ship! What prayers have been offered up at the deserted fireside of home! How often has the mistress, the wife, the mother pored over the daily news, to catch some casual intelligence of this rover of the deep! How has expectation darkened into anxiety,—anxiety into dread,—and dread into despair! Alas, not one memento remains for love to cherish. All that shall ever be known is, tha she sailed from her port and was never heard of more.”
p. 127: " Says Captain Davis : “Had the right whale the habit of ‘jawing back,’ as the sperm whale has, it would be next to impossible to secure him by the present weapons and methods of our whalemen. * * * Read Scoresby, Jardin, and Beale, the fathers of whaling literature, and they will not reveal the secret of the weakness of the right whale. Whalemen and naturalists, they have failed to record the important fact, that on the tip of the upper jaw there is a spot of very limited extent, seemingly as sensitive in feeling as the antennae of an insect; as keenly alive to the prick of lance or harpoon as a gentleman’s nose is to the tweak of finger and thumb. However swiftly a right whale may be advancing on the boat, a slight prick on this point will arrest his forward motion at once.
p. 142, on the shipwreck of the New Bedford whaler Lagoda in 1849: Fifteen of the crew of the Lagoda reached the shore alive; one subsequently died, a victim to the barbarities of his captors; the thirteen survivors were rescued by the United States ship of war Preble in 1849. The Preble also took on board a sailor named Ronald MacDonald, formerly of the whale-ship Plymouth of Sag Harbor. MacDonald received his discharge and was given a whale-boat furnished with books, provisions, &c., and left the ship off Japan in June, 1848, with the expressly avowed purpose of visiting the Japanese islands. He landed upon one of them and was immediately captured, deprived of his books, and imprisoned. Having nothing to occupy his time he turned his attention to teaching his captors the English language, and soon had quite a class receiving instruction. But his presence was a thorn in the side of the Japanese, and they availed themselves of the first opportunity to get rid of him.