American Merchant Ships and Sailors eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 382 pages of information about American Merchant Ships and Sailors.
him and his disappearance could not have exceeded the third part of a second of time, for in one second only he must have been dragged ten or twelve feet deep.  Indeed, he had not time for the least exclamation; and the person who saw his removal observed that it was so exceeding quick that, though his eye was upon him at the moment, he could scarcely distinguish his figure as he disappeared.
“As soon as the crew recovered from their consternation, they applied themselves to the needful attention which the lines required.  A second harpoon was struck from the accompanying boat, on the rising of the whale to the surface, and some lances were applied; but this melancholy occurrence had cast such a damp on all present that they became timid and inactive in their subsequent duties.  The whale, when nearly exhausted, was allowed to remain some minutes unmolested, till, having recovered some degree of energy, it made a violent effort and tore itself away from the harpoons.  The exertions of the crews thus proved fruitless, and were attended with serious loss.
“A harpooner belonging to the ‘Henrietta,’ of Whitby, when engaged in lancing a whale into which he had previously struck a harpoon, incautiously cast a little line under his feet that he had just hauled into the boat, after it had been drawn out by the fish.  A painful stroke of his lance induced the whale to dart suddenly downward.  His line began to run out from under his feet, and in an instant caught him by a turn round his body.  He had but just time to cry out, ‘Clear away the line!  Oh, dear!’ when he was almost cut asunder, dragged overboard, and never seen afterward.  The line was cut at that moment, but without avail.  The fish descended to a considerable depth and died, from whence it was drawn to the surface by the lines connected with it and secured.”

Whaling has almost ceased to have a place in the long list of our national industries.  Its implements and the relics of old-time cruises fill niches in museums as memorials of a practically extinct calling.  Along the wharves of New Bedford and New London a few old brigs lie rotting, but so effective have been the ravages of time that scarcely any of the once great fleet survive even in this invalid condition.  The whales have been driven far into the Arctic regions, whither a few whalers employing the modern and unsportsmanlike devices of steam and explosives, follow them for a scanty profit.  But the glory of the whale fishery is gone, leaving hardly a record behind it.  In its time it employed thousands of stout sailors; it furnished the navy with the material that made that branch of our armed service the pride and glory of the nation.  It explored unknown seas and carried the flag to undiscovered lands.  Was not an Austrian exploring expedition, interrupted as it was about to take possession of land in the Antarctic in the name of Austria by encountering an American whaler, trim

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American Merchant Ships and Sailors from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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