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An Old Sailor's Yarns   By: (1796-1835)

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Transcriber's Note

There is some arcane and inconsistent spelling. The dialect, spelling and punctuation have been preserved as far as possible.

Obvious typographical errors have been altered, for example where a word was duplicated or a letter duplicated around a hyphen. Hyphenations have been made consistent.






Extremum hunc, Arethusa, mihi concede laborem.




Entered according to the Act of Congress, in the year 1835, by GEORGE DEARBORN, in the Clerk's office of the District Court of the United States, for the Southern District of New York.



MARY BOWLINE. . . . . . . 15

OLD CUFF . . . . . . . . . . 53

RIVALS . . . . . . . . . . . . 73

MORTON . . . . . . . . . . . 95



Mr. Buckingham, noticing the "Nautical Reminiscences" in the New England Magazine, says, no author ever stopped at the second book; and he very gravely proceeds to recommend that my number three should savor more of the style of Goldsmith or Washington Irving. I should have no objection whatever to writing like either of these distinguished authors, if I could ; but as the case is, I must be content to write as well as I can. The whole article in Mr. B's magazine bore no faint resemblance to a dose of calomel and jalap, administered in a table spoonful of molasses, in which the sweet and the nauseous are so equally balanced, that the patient is in doubt whether to spit or to swallow. I was, however, exceedingly flattered with the notice bestowed upon me by this literary cynic, as he was never before known to speak well, even moderately, of any author, except natives of Boston, or professors in Harvard University.

"Morton" is founded upon an old tradition, now forgotten, but well known when I first went to sea, of the exploits of some of our adventurous and somewhat lawless traders in the Pacific. A number of the crew of one of these smuggling vessels were taken in the act, and, after a hasty trial, ordered to be sent to the mines. The route to their place of condemnation and hopeless confinement lay near the coast. A large party of seamen landed from two or three ships that were in the neighborhood, waylaid the military escort, knocked most of them on the head, rescued the prisoners, and got safe off without loss. The story says nothing of female influence or assistance, but knowing it to be morally impossible to get through a story without the assistance of a lady, I pressed one into the service, and took other liberties with the original, till it became what peradventure the reader will find it. Many stories are told of the skirmishes, or as sailors call them, "scrammidges," between our "free traders" and the guarda costas in different parts of the Pacific. In particular, the ship D , of Boston, is said to have had a "regular built fight" with a guarda costa of forty four guns, that retired from the action so miserably mauled, that it is doubtful to this day whether she ever found her way back into port. An old sea dog who was on board the D , furnished me with many details of the proceedings of our merchantmen on the coasts of California, and Mexico, some thirty years since, but most of them have escaped my memory... Continue reading book >>

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