Foreword: (this Foreword written August, 2002 (updated 2021) by Daniel Winters; email@example.com)
Joseph Bates was probably the greatest worker after James and Ellen White in building up the early Adventist church. In the area of reform he was without peer, being perhaps the first among Adventists to quit using coffee, tea, and meat. He also stood for the oppressed, being a strong supporter of abolition.
His autobiography is quite exciting, as he goes back and forth between continents in harrowing sea journeys, when sailors were at the mercy of wind and waves. Personally, reading of his willpower in resolving to do away with bad habits, has helped strengthen my resolve to put away things that separate me from God.
In the "Advent Review" of Dec. 11, 1879, Ellen White promotes Joseph Bates autobiography with these words: "For young people, the Life of Joseph Bates is a treasure;...".
Of course the man was not without faults. One obvious one is that he had a hard time accepting Ellen White's visions as from God. This is apparent at the end of his book in his reply to Ellen White attributing her counsel to people telling her things. Also this spirit is apparent in The Testimonies volume 13 where he signed his name with others from Battle Creek church expressing their sorrow at not being one with James and Ellen; and also in Present Truth p.86 where it describes some errors, apparently made by Joseph (see Other Manuscripts v.12 p.248).
This particular book was taken from a photo-copy of a photo-copy of a photo-copy.... and as such, the original spellings were left as in the original. See the end for a list of typesetting/spelling errors that were in the original. If there are other errors in this book, please email me. Two drawings at the beginning of the book have been placed near the beginning and at chapter 11. Scroll down for CONTENTS.
I HAVE frequently been solicited by relatives and friends to write a brief history of my past life, but never felt seriously inclined to do so until the year 1858, when I was requested by my friends in the West to furnish a series of articles in relation to my past life, for a religious paper entitled, The Youth's Instructor, published at Battle Creek, Mich. In compliance with their wishes, fifty-one numbers were issued and published in said paper, ending in May, 1863.
As these numbers are about exhausted, we again comply with the request of friends to furnish them, with additional numbers, for publication in book form.
MONTEREY, MICH., MAY 1, 1868.
THE body of this work is a reprint of the Autobiography of Elder Joseph Bates, which received great public favor. A large edition of it has been sold, and the book has been out of print more than a year. The call for it continues. The author was one of those noble and godly men who though "dead yet speaketh."
The editor of this work was an intimate and close fellow-laborer with Elder Joseph Bates for more than a quarter of a century. And it is with great pleasure that we give his life sketches, with introduction and closing remarks, in this volume.
BATTLE CREEK, MICH., AUGUST 16, 1877.
Shipwrecked in the Ice - An attempt to throw the Captain Overboard - Deliverance - Arrive in Ireland - Pursuing our Voyage - British Convoy - Part our Cable - Taken by Privateers - Nature of an Oath, and the Box - Ship Condemned - Voyage up the Baltic - Arrive in Ireland - Pressed into the British Service.
Attempt to Escape - Flogging - Ship St. Salvadore - Attempt to Swim Away - Rodney 74 - Spanish War Ship - A Levanter - Image Worship - Another Attempt for Freedom - Battle - Storm - Shipwreck - Blockading Squadron - Church Service on Board a King's Ship - Port Mahon - Subterranean Passage - Holy-stone - Wash Days - Threatened Punishment - Storm - New Station.
Impressing American Seamen - Documents of Citizenship - War - Voluntary Surrender as Prisoners of War - Preparation for a Battle - Unjust Treatment - Close Confinement - Relieved - British Fleet Outgeneraled - Prisoners Sent to England - London Newspaper - Successful Movement - Without Bread.
Cutting a Hole Through the Ship - Perilous Adventure of a Narragansett Indian - Hole Finished - Eighteen Prisoners Escape - Singular Device to Keep the Number Good - Drowning Man - Night Signals for Relief - Another Hole Cut - Letter from the Escaped Prisoners - U. S. Government Clothe their Prisoners - Prisoners sent to Dartmoor - Cheering News of Peace.
Subterranean Passage - A Traitor - Ratification of Peace - American Consul Hung in Effigy - Without Bread for Two Days - Prisoners Demand and Obtain their Bread - Inhuman Massacre of Prisoners - English Soldier Liberated - Court of Inquiry - Arrival of a Cartel - Liberated from Prison - Display of Flags Respecting the Massacre.
Embarkation for the United States - Injustice to Prisoners - Excitement Respecting our Port of Destination - Banks of Newfoundland - Perils of the Ocean - Threatened Mutiny - Islands of Ice - Mutiny on the High Seas - Speak an American Ship - Joyful News - Land in Sight - A Prize Taken - Safe Arrival at New London, Ct. - Sail Again for Boston.
Arrival Home - Voyage to Europe - Singular Rock in the Ocean - Sudden Commencement of Winter - Voyage Ended - Another Voyage - Perilous Situation in Chesapeake Bay - Criterion in Distress - Wrecked in a Snow-storm - Visit to Baltimore - On Board the Criterion Again - Cargo Saved - Another Voyage - Hurricane - Voyage Ended - Married - Another Voyage - Captain Reefing Top-sails in his Sleep.
Allowance of Water - Casting Cargo into the Sea - Allowance of Provisions - Terrible Storm - Gulf Stream - Dead Calm and Rushing Hurricane - The Cook's Prayer - Silent Agony - Wallowing between the Seas - More Respecting the Gale - Leak Increasing - Supply of Provisions - Council - Bear up for the West Indies - Reported - Safe Arrival in the West Indies.
A Spoiled Child - Passage Home from the West Indies - False Alarm - Arrival Home - Voyage in the Ship New Jersey - Breakers off Bermuda - Dangerous Position in a Violent Storm - Turk's Island - Cargo of Rock Salt - Return to Alexandria, D. C. - Voyage to Liverpool - Storm in the Gulf Stream - Singular Phenomenon on the Banks of Newfoundland - Arrival at Liverpool - A Great Change - An Old Shipmate.
Who the Stranger Was - Black List - Salt Shoveling - Peak of Pico - Voyage Ended - Visit my Family - Voyage to South America - Trade-winds - Sea-Fish - Rio Janeiro - Desperate Situation - Montevideo - Returning North - Cutting in a Whale - Resolved Never to Drink Ardent Spirits - Arrival in Alexandria - Preparations for Another Voyage - Visit my Family - Escape from a Stage - Sail for South America - Singular Fish - Arrival at Rio Janeiro - Sail for River La Plata - Dispose of my Cargo at Buenos Ayres - Catholic Host.
Crossing the Pampas of Buenos Ayres - Preparation for the Pacific Ocean - Resolved Never to Drink Wine - Aspect of the Starry Heavens - Alarming Position off Cape Horn - Double the Cape - Island of Juan Fernandez - Arrival at Callao - A Whale Harpooned in the Harbor - Voyage to Pisco - The Patriot Soldiers - Scenery and Climate of Lima - Earthquakes - Destruction of Callao - Cemetery - Disposal of the Dead.
Mint - Stamping Coin - Catholic Churches and Feasts - The Sunset Bells - Spanish Inquisition - Voyage to Truxillo - Sell the Chatsworth - Smuggling - Spanish Boats - Silver Conveyed by Indians - Deliver up the Chatsworth - Passage to Callao - Trouble with the Captain - Wine at a Dinner Party - Smoking.
Money Matters - Highway Robbers - Searching Ships for Specie - A Lieutenant Shot - Sail for Home - Tobacco - Serious Reflections - Pass Cape Horn - Equator - North Star - Violent Gale - A Sudden Change of Wind - Desperate Position - Joyous Sight of Land - Vineyard Sound - Arrival in Boston - At Home - Another Voyage - Off the Capes of Virginia - Outward Bound.
Conviction of Sin - Funeral at Sea - Covenant with God - A Dream - Arrival at Pernambuco - Landing a North American Lady - Wine at a Dinner Party - Sell my Cargo - Another Voyage - Religious Views - Whaling - Brazilian Flour - Arrive at St. Catherine's - Also Paraiba - Sell my Cargo - Third Voyage - Confidence Rewarded.
Soul-refreshing Seasons in the Forest - Effigy of Judas Iscariot - Sail from St. Catherine's - Arrival at Paraiba - Fourth Voyage - Arrival at the Bay of Spirits - Dangerous Position - Rio St. Francisco - Rio Grande - Banks of Sand - A City in Ruins - Jerked Beef - Rio Grande to Paraiba - Kattamaran - Catholic Procession and Burial - Sail for New York - Arrival at Home - Family Prayer - Experience.
Revival of Religion - Baptism - Join the Church - Temperance Society - Cold-Water Army - Another Voyage - Rules for the Voyage - Temperance Voyage - Altar of Prayer on Shipboard - Semi-Weekly Paper at Sea - Sunday Worship - Arrival in South America - Paraiba - Bahia - Privateer - St. Catherine's.
Overhauled by a Buenos Ayres Privateer, or Pirate - Plunder - Passengers Made Prisoners - Search for Money - Crew and Passengers Released - Season of Prayer - Arrival at Rio Janeiro - Bethel Meeting - Rio Grande - Dangers of the Coast - Fresh Water - Religious Views - Letter - Vessel Lost - Sail - Arrive at St. Catherine's - Sail for New York - Singular Phenomenon.
Revival at Sea - Arrive in New York - Bethel Ships and Meetings - Friendless Young Men - Arrival in New Bedford - Temperance Reform - Sea-faring Life Ended.
At Home - Farming - My Promise - Seaman's Friend Society - Missions - American Tract Society - American Colonization Society - Meeting-House - Religious Revival - Tea and Coffee - Change of Residence - Progress of the Temperance Cause - Progress of the Antislavery Cause - My own Position - Mob in Boston, Mass. - Falling Stars.
Moral Reform - Culture of Silk - Proposed Manual-Labor School - Second Advent of Christ - William Miller's Theory - His Lectures in Boston - First Second-Advent Paper - Eld. D. Millard's Letter - Eld. L. D. Fleming's Letters - H. Hawley's Letter - Wm. Miller in Portland.
First Call for a Second-Advent Conference - Convened in Boston, Mass. - Conference Address Sent Forth to the World - Diving-Bell - Clearing the Ship Channel - Wm. Miller's Lectures in Fairhaven, Mass. - Also in New Bedford - Address to Ministers - Ministers' Meeting - Antiochus Epiphanes - Thirty-two Square Rods for Every Person - Second Second-Advent Conference.
Fall of the Ottoman Empire - Passing of the Second Woe - Space of Time to Proclaim the First Angel's Message, Rev. 14:6, 7 - Conferences - Trials on Leaving the Church - Moral-Reform Societies - Boston Conference in 1842 - Prophetic Charts - Campmeeting in Littleton, Mass., in August, 1842 - Taunton, Mass., in September - Salem, Mass., in October - Power and Work of the First Angel's Message.
The Stated Year for the Coming of the Lord - Sell my Place of Residence - Go with the Message to the Slave States - Meetings on Kent Island - Meetings in Centerville, Eastern Shore of Maryland - Judge Hopper - Newspaper Report - Meetings in Chester - Threatened Imprisonment - Among the Slaves - Power of the Lord in the Meeting - Conviction of the People.
The Three Corners - Crowded Meeting - Singing - Universalism - Place for Meetings - Opposition - Dream - Slaves Ordered to go to the Advent Meeting - Convicted of the Truth - Meetings in Elktown - Return Home from Maryland - Visit to Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard - First Disappointment in the Second-Advent Movement - Waiting for the the Vision - Tarrying Time.
First Angel's Message - Midnight Cry - Parable of the Ten Virgins - Second Disappointment - Three Angels' Messages - The Sabbath - Progress of the Work - Conclusion - Remarks by the Editor.
LIFE sketches of great and good men are given to the world for the benefit of generations that follow them. Human life is more or less an experiment to all who enter upon it. Hence the frequent remark that we need to live one life to learn how to live.
This maxim in all its unqualified strength of expression may be a correct statement of the cases of the self-confiding and incautious. But it need not be wholly true of those who have good and wise parents to honor, and who have proper respect for all prudent and good people who have made life a success.
To those who take along with them the lamp for their feet, found in the experiences of those who have fought the good fight, and have finished their course with joy, life is not altogether an experiment. The general outlines of life, to say the least, are patterned by these from those who have by the grace of God made themselves good, and noble, and truly great in choosing and defending the right.
Reflecting young men and young women may take on a stock of practical education before they leave parental care and instruction which will be invaluable to them in future life. This they may do to a considerable extent by careful observation. But in reading the lives of worthy people, they may in their minds and hearts live good lives in advance, and thus be fortified to reject the evil and to choose the good that lie all along the path of human life.
Second to our Lord Jesus Christ, Noah, Job, and Daniel are held up before us by the sacred writers as patterns worthy of imitation. The brief sketches of the faith, patience, firmness, and moral excellence of these and other holy men of God found in the pages of sacred history have been and are still of immense value to all those who would walk worthy of the Christian name. They were men subject to like passions as we are. And were some of them at certain unfortunate periods of life overcome of evil? Erring men of our time may bless that record also which states how they overcame evil, and fully redeemed past errors, so that becoming doubly victorious they shine brightest on the sacred page.
In his Epistle to the Hebrews, Paul gives a list of heroes of faith. In his eleventh chapter he mentions Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, and the prophets, who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, and stopped the mouths of lions. The apostle calls up this cloud of witnesses to God's faithfulness to his trusting servants as patterns for the Christian church, as may be seen by the use he makes of them in the first verse of the chapter which follows:-- "Wherefore, seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us." Heb. 12:1.
The life of Elder Joseph Bates was crowded with unselfish motives and noble actions. That which makes his early history intensely interesting to his personal friends is the fact that he became a devoted follower of Christ, and a thorough practical reformer, and ripened into glorious manhood a true Christian gentleman, while exposed to the evils of sea-faring life, from the cabin-boy of 1807, to the wealthy retiring master of 1828, a period of twenty-one years.
Beauty and fragrance are expected of the rose, planted in the dry and well-cultivated soil, and tenderly reared under the watchful eye of the lover of the beautiful. But we pass over the expected glory of the rose to admire the living green, the pure white, and the delicate tint of the water-lily whose root reaches way down into the cold filth of the bottom of the obscure lake. And we revere that Power which causes this queen of flowers, uncultivated and obscure, to appropriate to itself all valuable qualities from its chilling surroundings, and to reject the evil.
So, to apply the figure, we reasonably expect excellence of character in those who are guarded against corrupting influences, and whose surroundings are the most favorable to healthy mental and moral development. In our hearts, pressing upon our lips, are blessings for all such. But he who, in the absence of all apparent good, and in the perpetual presence of all that is uncultivated and vile, with no visible hand to guard and to guide, becomes pure and wise, and devotes his life to the service of God and the good of humanity, a Christian philanthropist, is a miracle of God's love and power, the wonder of the age.
It was during his sea-faring life, while separated from the saving influences of the parental, Christian home, and exposed to the temptations of sailor life, that the writer of the following pages became thoroughly impressed with moral and religious principles, and gathered strength to trample intemperance and all other forms of vice beneath his feet, and rise in the strength of right and of God to the position of a thorough reformer, a devoted Christian, and an efficient minister of the gospel.
Parentage - Birth - Residence - First Foreign Voyage - Hurl Gate - London Water for Sailors - Mr. Lloyd's Story - Mr. Moore and his Book - Sea Journal - Overboard - Shark.
MY honored father and his forefathers were for many years residents in the town of Wareham, Plymouth County, State of Massachusetts. My mother was the daughter of Mr. Barnabas Nye, of the town of Sandwich, Barnstable County, both towns but a few hours' ride from the noted landing-place of the Pilgrim Fathers.
My father was a volunteer in the Revolutionary War, and continued in the service of his country during its seven years' struggle. When Gen. Lafayette revisited the United States in 1825, among the many who were pressing to shake hands with him at his reception rooms in the city of Boston was my father. As he approached, the General recognized him, and grasped his hand, saying, "How do you do, my old friend, Captain Bates?" "Do you remember him?" was asked. His answer was something like the following: "Certainly; he was under my immediate command in the American army."
After the war, my father married and settled in Rochester, an adjoining town, in Plymouth County, where I was born, July 8, 1792. In the early part of 1793 we moved to New Bedford, some seven miles distant, where my father entered into commercial business.
During the war with England, in 1812, the town of New Bedford was divided, and the eastern part was called Fairhaven. This was ever afterward my place of residence until I moved my family to Michigan, in May, 1858.
In my school-boy days my most ardent desire was to become a sailor. I used to think how gratified I should be if I could only get on board a ship that was going on a voyage of discovery round the world. I wanted to see how it looked on the opposite side. Whenever I thought of asking my father's consent to let me go to sea, my courage failed me for fear he would say, No. When I would endeavor to unburden my mind to my mother she would try to dissuade me, and recommend some other occupation, till at last I was permitted to go a short trip with my uncle to Boston, etc., to cure me; but this had the opposite effect. They then complied with my wishes.
A new ship called the Fanny, of New Bedford, Elias Terry, commander, was about to sail for Europe, and he agreed with my father to take me on the voyage as cabin boy.
In June, 1807, we sailed from New Bedford to take our cargo on board at New York City, for London, England. On our passage to New York City we sailed by the way of Long Island Sound. In this route, several miles from the city, is a very narrow and dangerous passage, bounded with rocks on the right, and a rock-bound shore on the left, called "Hurl Gate." What makes it so dangerous is the great rush of water that passes through this narrow channel. As the tide ebbs and flows each way, it rushes with such impetuosity that few dare venture to sail through against it without a strong, steady wind in their favor. For want of watchfulness and care, many vessels have been whirled from their course by this rushing foam and hurled against the rocks, wrecked and lost in a few moments of time. Sailors call it "Hell Gate."
As our gallant ship was bringing us in sight of this dreadful place, the pilot took the helm, and requested the captain to call all hands on deck. He then stationed us in various parts of the ship, for the purpose of managing the sails in case of an emergency, according to his judgment. He then requested us to remain silent while passing this dangerous gateway, that we might the better understand his orders. In this way, every man and boy at his post, with eyes silently fixed on the pilot, waiting his orders, our good ship winged her way through the hurling foam, and passed on safely to her anchorage before the city.
The experienced and thorough knowledge of our pilot, in guiding our gallant ship safely through that dangerous gateway, with the stillness and breathless attention of her crew, were stamped deeply in my mind. Promptness and exertion in perilous times on the ocean, has, with the blessing of God, saved thousands of souls from a watery grave.
Our good ship was deeply laden with choice wheat, in bulk, even into her hatchways. It was feared that she would sink under her heavy burden. On the eve of our departure, Mr. S. Eldridge, then our chief mate, was coming on board the ship in the dark night with a lighted lantern in his hand, when he fell from the plank into the river, between the ship and the wharf, where the tide was running from three to five miles an hour. Mr. Adams threw a coil of rope under the wharf at a venture; fortunately he caught it, and after some struggle he was hauled up on the ship's deck. When he began to breathe freely, he lamented the loss of the new lantern. Said Mr. A., "Why, you have got it in your hand." If it had been a cannon ball it would most likely have carried him to the bottom, for drowning persons hold on with a deadly grasp to whatever is in their hands.
We had a pleasant run across the Atlantic Ocean. In our passage up the British Channel, between France and England, we discovered a number of kegs floating on the top of the sea. The maintop-sail was laid to mast, and a boat lowered with a crew, which soon returned to the ship deeply laden with gin and brandy. The duties on such articles are so high, from France to England, that smugglers can afford to lose a whole cargo sometimes, and yet make their business profitable. But if they are caught by their revenue cutters, or war ships, while thus defrauding their government in her revenue laws, the penalty about ruins them for life. They sling and fasten them with ropes and buoys, so that by diligently hunting for them, they find them again after their pursuers are out of sight.
On our safe arrival in the London dock, the English officers who came to inspect our cargo, on opening the hatches, expressed their surprise to see the clean and dry wheat, up into the hatchway, as fresh as when we left New York. When we hauled out of the dock into the river Thames, and commenced filling our water casks for our homeward voyage with the river water that was passing us, finding its way to the great ocean, I thought, how could a person drink such filthy water. Streaks of green, yellow, and red muddy water, mixed up with the filth of thousands of shipping, and the scum and filth of a great portion of the city of London. After a few days it becomes settled and clear, unless it is stirred up from the bottom of the water casks. Some four years after this, I being then an impressed seaman in the British service attached to the Rodney, 74 gun ship, in the Mediterranean Sea, as we were emptying out our old stock of fresh water, we found the ground tier full of the same river water from the Thames, only a little further down from London, which had been bunged up tight for about two years. On starting the bung and applying our lighted candle, it would blaze up a foot high, like the burning of strong brandy. Before stirring it up from the bottom, some of the clear water was exhibited among the officers in glass tumblers, and pronounced to be the purest and best of water, only about two years from London. I admit that it looked clear and tasted good, but from my former knowledge of its origin, I confess I would a little rather quench my thirst from some of the pure springs from the Green Mountains of Vermont, or the granite hills in New Hampshire.
Among our passengers to New York was a Mr. Lloyd, chief mate of a Philadelphia ship that was detained in London. He, in a serious manner, related a very singular incident that occurred some few years previous, while he was a sailor from Philadelphia. He said that he never had dared to tell his mother or sisters of it. I will try to relate it in his own words. Said he, "I was lodging away from home one night in another part of the city, when the house was beset by the police. For fear of being identified with those that were disturbing the peace, I fled from my bed into the street with nothing but my night-dress on, and finally secreted myself in the market-place, while a friend that was with me went back to obtain my clothes. About midnight a gang of men, passing through the marketplace, discovered me, and after a few inquiries as to who I was, they said, 'Drive this fellow on before us.' My pleading was in vain; they continued to keep me before them until we entered the cemetery, about two miles out of the city. We here came to a large flat stone with an iron hook in it. They placed a stout rope in the hook, which they brought with them, with which they swayed the stone up. This opened a family vault where a Jewish lady of distinction had been deposited that day. The jewelry upon her person was what they were after. The exciting question now was, who among them would go down into the vault and get the jewels. Said one, 'Here is the fellow.' I begged and entreated them for the Lord's sake not to require me to commit such a dreadful deed. My entreaties were disregarded; they crowded me down into the vault, ordering me to go and strip off her jewels. I tried, and then returned to the open place, and stated that her fingers were so swollen that I could not get her rings off. 'Here is a knife,' said one, 'take it and cut her fingers off.' I began to plead again, but they gave me to understand that there was no alternative; I must either do it or stay where I was. Almost dead with fear, I laid hold of her hands and cut her fingers off, and when I came to the open place, they bade me hand them up. As soon as they got hold of them, they dashed down the slab and immediately ran away.
"I felt overwhelmed at my hopeless condition, doomed to die a most horrible death, and fearing every moment that the mangled corpse would lay hold of me. I listened to the rumbling sound of these robbers, until all was silent as death. The stone over me, I could not move. After a little I heard a distant rumbling of the ground, which continued to increase until I heard strange voices over the vault. I soon learned that this was another gang, most likely unknown to the first, and they were placing their rope to swing up the same stone slab. I at once decided what to do to save myself. As the slab came up, I leaped out of the vault in my white night-dress, or shirt. Horror-stricken, they all fled back toward the city, running with such speed that it was difficult for me to keep up behind them, and yet I feared if they should stop, I should be discovered and taken. Before reaching the city, I had drawn up some nearer to the two hinder ones, when one of them cried out to his companion, 'Patrick! Patrick! the old woman is close to our heels!' Onward they raced through the market and fled away from me, for I stopped here to hide myself. After a while my friend, having obtained my clothes, found me, and I returned home."
Before sailing on our voyage, a good-looking man, about twenty years of age, came on board, stating that he had come from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to get a passage to London. He stated that he had no means nor way to pay his passage. He also stated that his only object in going to L. was to obtain a certain book (the title I have forgotten), which could not be obtained at any other place. He finally shipped for a green or new hand before the mast.
This was rather new among sailors, for a man, having no desire to be a sailor, to be willing to endure the hardships of a seven months' voyage, with no other object but to get one book, and no certainty about that.
But on our arrival in London the captain advanced him some money, and before night he returned from the city rejoicing that he had found the book. I have often regretted that our acquaintance ended with that voyage; for I have often thought, if his life was spared, he was destined to occupy some important position among men.
On recovering from my sea-sickness, I commenced my sea journal, to keep the run of the ship and the daily occurrences of the voyage. This and other journals which I afterward endeavored to keep, would have been of much value to me when I commenced this work, but they were all used up or destroyed, after my last voyage.
One circumstance occurred on our homeward voyage, some eighteen days after departing from Land's End, England, which I will here relate:
In the morning (Sunday) a large shark was following us. A large piece of meat was fastened to a rope and thrown over the stern to tempt him to come up a little nearer, that we might fasten to him with a barbed iron made for such purposes; but no inducement of ours seemed to affect him. He maintained his position, where he could grasp whatever fell from either side of the ship.
On such occasions the old stories about sharks are revived--how they swallow sailors alive, and at other times bite them in two, and swallow them at two mouthfuls. They hear so much about them that they attribute more to their sagacity than really belongs to them. It is said that sharks have followed vessels on the ocean for many days when there were any sick on board, that they might satiate their voracious appetites on the dead bodies cast into the sea. Sailors are generally brave and fearless men; they dare meet their fellows in almost any conflict, and brave the raging storms of the sea; but the idea of being swallowed alive, or even when dead, by these voracious creatures, often causes their stout hearts to tremble. Still they are often credulous and superstitious.
Toward the evening of the day referred to, when we had ceased our fruitless labors to draw the shark away from his determined position astern of the ship, I ascended to the main-topgallant mast-head, to ascertain if there was any vessel in sight, or anything to be seen but sky and water. On my way down, having reached about fifty feet from the deck, and sixty from the water, I missed reaching the place which I designed grasping with my hand, and fell backward, striking a rope in my fall, which prevented my being dashed upon the deck, but whirled me into the sea. As I came up on the top of the waves, struggling and panting for breath, I saw at a glance that the ship, my only hope, was passing onward beyond my reach. With the incumbrance of my thick, heavy clothing, I exerted all my strength to follow. I saw that the captain, officers, and crew had rushed toward the ship's stern. The first officer hurled a coil of rope with all his strength, the end of which I caught with my hand. He cried out, "Hold on!" I did so until they hauled me through the sea to the ship, and set my feet upon the deck.
To the question if I was hurt, I answered, "No." Said another, "Where is the shark?" I began to tremble even as they had done, while they were in anxious suspense, fearing he would grasp me every moment. The thought of the shark had never entered my mind while I was in the water. I then crossed over to the other side of the ship, and, behold, he was quietly gliding along his way with us, not far from the side of the vessel, seemingly unconscious of our gaze. And we did not disturb him in any way; for the sailors and passengers were all so glad that the cabin-boy was rescued, not only from a watery grave, but from his ferocious jaws, that they had no disposition to trouble him. He was soon missing, and we saw him no more. But the wonder to all was, how he came to change his position to a place where he could neither see nor hear what was transpiring on the other side or at the stern of the ship.
The following item from a public newspaper illustrates the voracity of these creatures:--
"DESPERATE ENCOUNTER WITH A SHARK.
"SOUTHOLD, L. I., September 9, 1865.
"To the Editor of the Herald: A few days since, the schooner Catharine Wilcox, of Lubec, Maine, George McFadden, master, being bound from New York to Eastport and Lubec, fell in, when opposite this place, with what is termed a 'dead calm.' The opportunity seeming propitious, the captain and a young man named Peter Johnson, who was formerly a member of the First Maine Heavy Artillery, and who was wounded in the neck at Spottsylvania, Virginia, determined to enjoy a salt-water bath.
"Jumping into the water, it was not many minutes when, as young Johnson says, he saw something 'all white,' and in an instant he was carried under the surface to a depth of twenty feet. He now discovered that he was in the jaws of one of those voracious man-eater sharks. Struggling with all his strength, Johnson managed to break away and reach the surface again; but the shark was soon after him, and continued to bite him in various parts of the body, when the young man bethought him of the sailor trick of putting his fingers in the shark's eyes, which he did, and, to his no small gratification, soon saw the frenzied monster fleeing from him. Johnson now swam to the vessel, and, being taken on board, was found to have been fearfully torn about the abdomen--its lower section entirely off--both thighs and shoulder being terribly lacerated. There being no wind to get anywhere, the crew took him in the yawl and rowed him eight miles to the village of Greenport, where his wounds were sewed up and dressed by Drs. Kendall, Bryant, and Skinner, and the young man made as comfortable under the circumstances as possible. He is growing worse hourly, and there is not much chance for his recovery.
"The Sound is now full of these rapacious monsters, and if some of our New York sportsmen are fond of game worthy of their steel, this is the month to attack them. They are caught and landed with perfect safety by our villagers almost every day."