A revealing and spirited description of whaling life in contrite letter from a runaway grandson. "it is with strange feelings that I now address you[.] I do not know but what you may think me to confident of your friendship after the maner in which I left home[.] I am on board the whaling ship Waverly of new bedford[,] ephram kempton master[.] we have been from home 16 months and have taken 13 whales which made us 15 hundred blls of oil and 10 thousand pounds of bone[.] my share of this will amount to 180 dollars rather poor pay I can tell you for the danger one has to go through to get it but we sailors think nothing of danger as we are exposed to it all the time and especially when on whaling ground[.] I do not wish to make it any worse than it is but I can safely say that a mans life is not worth a snap while fast to a whale[.] I have seen a boart smashed so fine that we could not find the pieces[.] no one was hurt they all having jumped overboard[;] they were picked up by another boat[.]
"but I will not dwell upon the dangers to whish I am exposed[.] captain kempton is as greate a rascal as I ever saw[.] he has flogged three men and grounded a dozen more but he has not laid a hand on me during the voyage[.] the second mate struck me once and I knocked him down with a hand spike[;] he has not troubled me since[.] 12 of our men have run away[.] I had some notion to go on board a man of war but think I shall stop where I am[.]"
By comparison with his shipboard life, Miner's leave on Oahu seems quite tame. "I have been on shore 7 days on liberty and had a dollar a day to spend[.] there is plenty of tropical fruits to be had for little or nothing[.] the misisonary here mr damon gives us all the bibles and tracts we want to read[.] I have a bible and a testament and I read them to[.] I am learning to play the violin which occupies a part of my spare time[.] I think of you often and wish to see you very much and hope to be able to do so in the course of a year and a half …"
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