BLTC Press Titles


available for Kindle at Amazon.com


Tao Te Ching

Lao Tzu, James Legge (trans.)


The Pictorial Key to the Tarot

Arthur Edward Waite


Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

Lewis Carroll


The Picture of Dorian Gray

Oscar Wilde


INCIDENTS OF A WHALING VOYAGE

by FRANCIS ALLYN OLMSTED

Excerpt:

Duking the latter part of my collegiate course, my health became very much impaired by a chronic debility of the nervous system, and soon after graduating, the cold air of Autumn admonished me to seek a milder clime for spending the winter. While deliberating upon what would be most desirable in accomplishing the purposes I had in view, a favorable opportunity was offered me to go out as passenger in the whale-ship " North America," which was fitting out at New-London for a voyage to the Pacific. From an erroneous prejudice against whalers, it was with great reluctance that I determined upon embarking on this voyage, and many of my friends made sage predictions of the wretched life to which I was consigning myself. A strong . inclination for the sea, however, which had made ships and the ocean my admiration from boyhood, and a love of the adventurous, inclined me to a voyage in preference to any other plan for the recovery of my health ; and its successful results have left me no reason to repent of my choice.

With the exception of the interesting work by Beale, entitled " The Sperm Whale Fishery," I am not aware that any representations of whaling life have been exhibited proportionate to its adventurous character and importance. Entertaining sketches of the capture of the whale, have been written at different times; but they are generally the productions of those who were not spectators of the scenes they attempt to delineate, and must, of course, be wanting in accuracy. I have endeavored to represent sea-life as it is; and should the reader, impatient to enter in medias res, think me tedious in getting under way, I have only to plead that the facts were so; and similar delays and vexations are believed to constitute a very ordinary part of sea-life. It has also been my constant endeavor throughout the narrative, to make a candid representation of occurrences, although I do not aspire to infallibility.

Some parts of my narrative may appear to be wanting in exciting incident. My object has indeed been, to represent life in a somewhat novel aspect, but not by a sacrifice of truth or by an exaggerated picture. The common incidents of life, in their or

PREFACE. V

dinary course, rarely exhibit much of the marvellous, and it is from the reality of their occurrence, in a great measure, that they excite permanent pleasure. A Marryatt, by weaving together the events of several voyages, and coloring the tissue with all the vividness of a lively imagination, gives to his sea sketches a brilliancy which a strict adherence to the common course of events would have denied him.

..'5$g pictorial illustrations are selections from fifty or sixty sketches representing objects of natural history, and scenes that interested me, taken originally in the sketch book I always carried with me, and finished off afterwards, as soon as possible. The great expense of these illustrations, forbids the introduction of a larger number into the work; for the size of a work gives it a determinate price, from which even the most expensive illustrations will not admit of very great deviation, although embellishments of this kind are often as essential in forming a correct idea of a scene, as the printed page itself. Frequently indeed, they are of greater importance ; for a single glance at a correct picture gives a far more vivid idea of a scene, than the most elaborate description.

Some of the statistics of the Whale Fishery, were

gathered after my return, and have reference to a

date subsequent to that of the journal where they

are introduced. This arrangement, although censu

rable as an anachronism, is not deemed inconsistent with the nature of the work, and is thought preferable to multiplied notes.

In conclusion, I have endeavored to represent the sailor in a favorable light, and to excite the kindness and sympathy of the benevolent in his behalf. If my efforts have been successful, and shall contribute to secure to the whaling business, that share of respectability which has been withheld from it through ignorance and prejudice, I shall esteem myself happy.


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