Two Years Before the Mast eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 591 pages of information about Two Years Before the Mast.
in the profits.  The firm had submitted the manuscript to Alonzo Potter, afterwards Bishop of Pennsylvania, then acting as one of their readers.  Bishop Potter, meeting Dana in England years later, told him most emphatically that he had advised the purchase at any price necessary to secure it.  The most, however, that the elder Dana and Bryant were able to get from the publishers was $250, so that modest sum with two dozen printed copies was all the author received at that time for this most successful book.  Incidentally, however, the publication brought Mr. Dana law practice, especially among sailors, and was an introduction to him not only in this country but in England.  Editions were published in Great Britain and France.  Moxon, the London publisher, sent Mr. Dana not only presentation copies but as a voluntary honorarium, there being no international copyright law at that time, a sum of money larger than the publisher gave him for the manuscript.  He also received kindly words of appreciation from Rogers, Brougham, Moore, Bulwer, Dickens and others, and fifteen years later his reputation secured him a large social and literary reception in England in 1856.  At last, in 1868, the original copyright expired and my father brought out the ``author’s edition’’ thoroughly revised and with many important additions to the text including the ``Twenty-four Years After’’ under a fair arrangement for percentage of sales with Fields, Osgood and Co., the predecessors of the present publishers.

In reading the story of this Harvard College undergraduate’s experience, one should bear in mind, to appreciate the dangers of his rounding the Cape, that the brig Pilgrim was only one hundred and eighty tons burden and eighty-six feet and six inches long, shorter on the water line than many of our summer-sailing sloop and schooner yachts.

Richard Henry Dana.

[1] ``Richard Henry Dana, Jr.’’ A Biography.  By Charles Francis Adams.  In two volumes.  Boston and New York:  Houghton Mifflin Company.

[2] ``Speeches in Stirring Times and Letters to a Son.’’ Richard Henry Dana, Jr., with introduction and notes by Richard Henry Dana, 3rd.  In one volume.  Boston and New York:  Houghton Mifflin Company.

[3] Extracts from this book were chosen by the oculists of the United States for use in testing eyes on account of its clearness in style and freedom from long words.


The fourteenth of August[1] was the day fixed upon for the sailing of the brig Pilgrim, on her voyage from Boston, round Cape Horn, to the Western coast of North America.  As she was to get under way early in the afternoon, I made my appearance on board at twelve o’clock, in full sea-rig, with my chest, containing an outfit for a two or three years’ voyage, which I had undertaken from a determination to cure, if possible, by an entire change of life, and by a long absence from books, with a plenty of hard work, plain food, and open air, a weakness of the eyes, which had obliged me to give up my studies, and which no medical aid seemed likely to remedy.

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Two Years Before the Mast from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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