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ENTERED, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1847, by
LEAVITT, TROW & CO. in the Clerk's Office of the District Court for the Southern Distniet of New-York
The life of a sailor is far from being one of easo and inactivity; but it still presents considerable intervals of entire leisure, with very limited sources of amusement. Divided from the great herd of mankind, and cut off, for a season at least, from the knowledge of passing events, there is no class of persons thrown more upon their own resources for intellectual employment, than seamen.
The objects which daily meet their eyes are the same; their routine of duties is, for the most part, unvaried; and except when a transient sail looms from the horizon, the elements alone furnish subjects of interest and excitement to the accustomed traversers of the deep. Next to the claims of religion upon minds thus undistracted by the avocations of society, or the allurements of the world, those of literature certainly appear the strongest. It is difficult, how ever, at sea, even in the most favorable capacity, to go through a long and continued course of reading, without frequent and provoking interruptions. The noise and motion of the vessel, the sudden shiftings of the wind,—in short, the very situation in which one finds himself “cabin'd, cribb'd, confin’d,”— are so many impediments to a steady and successsul cultivation of literature.
The object of the present volume has been to afford a series of brief and interesting sketches, , which might be both useful and attractive to the seaman, and afford a convenient pastime for his leisure moments. It was believed that a miscellany of the kind, which by its variety might not readily tire, and which might be laid down and resumed at frequent intervals, without losing its interest, would not be unacceptable to the intelligent mar
It will be seen that no definite arrangement of materials has been attempted in this work The different articles are thrown together for the reader
to choose and digest according to his own inclination and capacity. The distinctions between the historical and the fictitious are, however, sufficiently apparent, and the plan of the book would hardly admit of a different disposal of the contents. Many voyages of interest have doubtless been passed over; but an apology for the omission must rest upon the infinite number and variety of materials, all coming within the scope of the work, which presented themselves. The limits of the book have been already extended beyond the original design.
To seamen, it is believed that the work will prove an instructive as well as entertaining one. It embraces nearly every subject of importance in the history of navigation and maritime discoveries, while the sketches of nautical manners and adven
ture are from the most authentic sources.
the examples presented, it will be seen of what astonishing advantage are the virtues of decision, temperance, perseverance, and unwavering hope, in moments of extreme peril and despair. It is the coward only, who at such times deserts his post; bids defiance to orders, and surrenders himself to a vile and degrading intoxication. The effects of such conduct are almost universally destructive and fatal.
To transient passengers across the deep, it is hoped, that the volume will not be an uninteresting and unsought-for companion; while to that very respectable class of persons who live on shore, it will be found to present an ample and genuine representation of the habits and excitements, the pleasures and perils of a mariner's life