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.

[1] Owing to the change of vessels that afterwards took place, Captain Thompson arrived in Boston nearly a year before the Pilgrim, and was off on another voyage, and beyond the reach of these men.  Soon after the publication of the first edition of this book, in 1841, I received a letter from Stimson, dated at Detroit, Michigan, where he had reentered mercantile life, from which I make this extract:  ``As to your account of the flogging scene, I think you have given a fair history of it, and, if anything, been too lenient towards Captain Thompson for his brutal, cowardly treatment of those men.  As I was in the hold at the time the affray commenced, I will give you a short history of it as near as I can recollect.  We were breaking out goods in the fore hold, and, in order to get at them, we had to shift our hides from forward to aft.  After having removed part of them, we came to the boxes, and attempted to get them out without moving any more of the hides.  While doing so, Sam accidentally hurt his hand, and, as usual, began swearing about it, and was not sparing of his oaths, although I think he was not aware that Captain Thompson was so near him at the time.  Captain Thompson asked him, in no moderate way, what was the matter with him.  Sam, on account of the impediment in his speech, could not answer immediately, although he endeavored to, but as soon as possible answered in a manner that almost any one would, under the like circumstances, yet, I believe, not with the intention of giving a short answer; but being provoked, and suffering pain from the injured hand, he perhaps answered rather short, or sullenly.  Thus commenced the scene you have so vividly described, and which seems to me exactly the history of the whole affair without any exaggeration.’’

[2] ``Shipmate’’ is the term by which sailors address one another when not acquainted.


The next day being Sunday, after washing and clearing decks, and getting breakfast, the mate came forward with leave for one watch to go ashore, on liberty.  We drew lots, and it fell to the larboard, which I was in.  Instantly all was preparation.  Buckets of fresh water (which we were allowed in port), and soap, were put in use; go-ashore jackets and trousers got out and brushed; pumps, neckerchiefs, and hats overhauled, one lending to another; so that among the whole each got a good fit-out.  A boat was called to pull the ``liberty-men’’ ashore, and we sat down in the stern sheets, ``as big as pay-passengers,’’ and, jumping ashore, set out on our walk for the town, which was nearly three miles off.

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